Friday, April 30, 2010

Thursday night Schlager!

My favorite Thursday night activity: Schlagernacht! A plate of fork-tender schnitzel mit spätzle and individual pitcher of gravy at the Mirabell on Addison while listening to Pieptone!

Pieptone! ["Peep-tone"] tackles early, twisty Schlagermüsik in the form of a crisp four-person band. From their bio: "Pieptone! was conceived by former Goethe Institut students who thought a party band that sings 'auf Deutsch' might be a good way to bring language learners together . . . the Pieptone! songbook is from the pre-British Invasion 1950s and 60s, when bands and singers from Europe and the US cut the same single in two, three, or four languages." I can say that their songs definitely stick in the head as intended, especially if you spent any formative years in German class. Try listening to "Souvenirs aus Tokio"; the phrase "Vater, Mutter, Kinder und die Ooooooma" is permanently grooved in my noggin. [Full disclosure: I designed their "P" logo. Woo.]

Pieptone! plays the back room at the Mirabell restaurant every Thursday around 8:00 pm. They play Saturday, May 1, at Lizard's Liquid Lounge and next Friday, May 7, at the Flesh Hungry Dog Show at Jackhammer.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

hickey science!

I am going to reveal some ignorance here, but I only recently discovered that hickeys weren't just trix for kids, like the dude I remember coming to high school homeroom one day with an absolute ring of angry-looking hickeys around his neck in a badge of ownership.

So I posted a poll to see what people had to say. Out of around 105 respondents, 11 had never given or gotten a hickey, but among the rest (people could answer yes to more than one question):
  • 7% had given one, never gotten one
  • 11% had gotten one, never given one
  • 23% hadn't engaged in hickeying since high school
  • 13% still hickey and do not hide it
  • 32% still hickey but hide it
  • 11% really like giving hickeys
  • 18% really like getting hickeys
  • 3% don't like giving or getting hickeys, but do it to keep the SO happy
What about you?

Friday, April 23, 2010

They shoot TV shows, don't they? (No)

I have been trying to figure out what it means about this country that we hold onto our TV shows until they are rotting and dying and have to be ripped out of our hands to be buried. Our TV shows go on forever, long long past any natural ending they have.

It's money the foments these unnaturally long life spans, so the answer to why we do this is simple in some ways. But it feels a little weirder than that.

Those last, lingering years--the gangrenous, malingering, miserable, oxygen-deprived, dead-eyed, hollow, repetitive, sucked-dry, unstable, checked-out, nonsensical, grasping, bored, sometimes frantic years--are really bad. Way worse than you would think a country obsessed with product and appearance might allow.

Shark-jumpings don't date the phenomenon that well--I think they are just the moments when you declare the time of death, long after the actual expiry. ER died in about the third or fourth season, but limped on for the next 100 years, mooching heavily around Thursdays nights, working the same schtick in increasingly cheap ways until somebody finally shot it in the head. The last few seasons of the Gilmore Girls the actors looked visibly embarrassed to be there. The last long years of Roseanne were so embarrassing I couldn't watch them. The later years of the Mary Tyler Moore Show were excruciating: that show had the terrible habit, like many, of using as its later cheap plot points tension over whether a character was going to leave (NO!), but pulling him/her back (YES!), a process that always had unintentionally grim overtones. You actors, you viewers, can check out but you can never leave. Nobody's getting out here, not until our 100 episodes, and maybe not even then.

Part of the problem is something I call sitcom entropy. The phenom has a lot of tenets, but driving it is the fact that you can't create any fictional work for six, seven, ten, twelve years in a row without the premise slipping and the actors' personalities and real lives becoming ascendant--not with a product that requires 12-hour days and years out of people's lives. Maggie O'Connell starts Northern Exposure as a plucky Yankee pilot and ends the series years later with Janine Turner's southern accent and she's, well, Janine Turner, mugging her way through belabored, stretched-out, improbable plots, wearing less and less Alaskan outerwear, using up the various possible male love interests, while we all try to pretend its not happening. TV shows become less highly directed, less managed, actors use short-hand, and the day-to-day slog emerges, one major reason that a sitcom entropy tenet is that a show will always Go to California, if only for a visit. The Hollywood Hills--metaphorically too--always start to show up in the background.

These moldering TV shows suck but somebody must be watching them. Advertisers must know this. Or are they so sure of the power of brand that they'll never not buy time for The Hills starring the people who used to be on it originally, left, and were lured back, then left again, or whatever? That's the bit I can't figure out. I'm not so sure people really like the superannuated ruins of TV shows. Do we really not want to say goodbye? What are we holding on to? Are we really that scared of our shows leaving us, or is it mostly the media-makers? It almost has a feel of death-bed ghoulishness, the way we have to know the exact moment a TV show goes away, leaves our lives. Maybe these 10th season shows are like houses (ooh, House--put that one out of its misery) we buy for celebrities so they'll have somewhere to live until they "die," i.e, emerge in their next media incarnation for us.

All I know is we love the shiny new car in this country, but Saved by the Bell: The College Years would seem to contradict this. We keep these junkers running forever.

I think the malingering is getting a little better, by the way. Our short attention spans and habit of not actually watching television on TV itself are helping, not to mention things like (somewhat) pruned HBO series that sell nicely as boxed sets and look better when they're not too big. All in all, though, it feels like another reason to like the BBC, which seems to either do shows forever (Coronation Street) or a couple punchy seasons (the classic example of Fawlty Towers) and then--boom. Out. The U.K. Office was done and finished, a rounded piece of great shape, in basically two seasons. Ours is still going, on and on and on... It can't be just money that won't let us turn out the lights.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Yum. Yum yum yum yum yum. That is all.

Oh no wait! Yum yum yum yum. (There.)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

paean to me kroks

These shoes may:
  • inhibit friendship formation with people who are put off by their ugliness
  • combine a horrible nursey nerdness with frumpy flat-footed anti-fashion
  • squelch terribly when wet
  • occasionally let in little rocks through their holes
  • match the beige of my compression stockings a little closely, increasing the asexual frump
  • curtail how stylish the rest of me can ever look, because Crocs + anything stylish looks farcical
  • increase one's similarity to a duck
BUT they also:
  • weigh 8 oz.
  • cost around $33
  • I can hand the old ones over to the clerk for recycling when I buy new ones
  • AND (best of all) when traveling I can wear Crocs as slippers, walking shoes and pool shoes. Just rinse and go.
Two thumbs up!

Monday, April 05, 2010

shiny happy people

I'm not sure this will hold up in court, but I really like People of Walmart--in a happy way. I don't pay much attention to the captions, which are unkind and sneering, and I guess supposed to be the POV of this project.

The photos, though, are a wonderful record. People are so hilarious, odd, weird, misguided, colorful. It's no fun to see hateful slogans on t-shirts, but other than that I never feel anything but kinda happy to see what people put on their bodies and do to their hair in this life before they go to Wal-Mart. It's sweet. Being a consumer is a freakin full-time job in America--we are seeing people in the middle of their lives.

I guess there's no way around the fact that this site is mean, and that the photos are by and large taken with a desire to laugh at people, not with them, but really: how fuckin great is this country. This is what we look like.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

happy birthday Doris!
Twizzlers has the weird distinction of being the fartiest candy in the candy world. I feel perhaps the manufacturers should capitalize on this for marketing purposes. Or make it stop.