Friday, April 30, 2010

Ghost Ride the Station Wagon

Every few years, a dance craze pops up that sweeps the nation. Hey, I vividly remember the Macarena, Cabbage Patch and Lambada - the Forbidden Dance.

Those are novelty dances. Like all novelties, they are great fun at first, and then they become annoying. However, one dance craze during the Snooze Button Generation's lifetime appears to transcend all the others. I'm talking about Ghost Riding the Whip.

Most likely, I will never "Ghost Ride the Whip," but I must admit to having fantasies of being on top of my station wagon with two children's car seats in the back and ghost riding that wagon.I have realized through casual conversations with friends, colleagues and random people in Trader Joe's that not everyone knows what it means to "Ghost Ride the Whip." Real quick, it means blasting the song "Ghost Ride It" by Mistah FAB while idling your car and dancing on the hood. Friends could dance along the idling car also, but that is not necessary. ... I love this stuff!

YouTube is a cornucopia of mishaps, kids looking goofy with their cars and, my personal favorite, a stolen car.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Poets remain real easy to make fun of

I am a big fan of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, a big get-together of authors, fans and bookish types. One year at that festival, I was in a tent when all of a sudden, George Plimpton, the paper lion, sidled up next to me. We chitchatted, and I liked that.

I made it again to the L.A. Times Festival of Books this past weekend, and, usually, I learn something there or reaffirm a belief I have about literature. This year, I reaffirmed this idea:

Poets, man, they are easy to make fun of.

I only watched one poet, by random, named Jan Beatty, and she was fantastic. She was from Pittsburgh and delivered smart poems full of grit and feeling. I give her high marks, except for one thing. Like nearly all poets, she delivered her poems in a breathy, stilted way. Why do poets do this?

To her credit, Beatty kept her breathiness relatively low, but, yeah, it was still there. The worst is when you hear typical, nature poetry in that lame, breathy voice:

(insert breathy voice)
Flowers are blooming all around me
as I watch clouds escape my view
of re-al-i-ty and breath-i-ness.

Breathe deep the gathering gloom
Watch lights fade from every room
Bedsitter people look back and lament,
Another day's useless energy spent.
Another thing I reaffirmed at the Book Festival was that it is a shame how few writers are celebrities. When I bumped into Plimpton, I thought, "Well, hello there, it's the paper lion."

Plimpton was unmistakable to see, but hardly any writers are recognizable to the average person. I guess that's not necessarily a problem, but just a reality with literary writers nowadays and, well, in all future centuries.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Atari's Adventure: Best graphics ever

Call me old-fashioned, but I believe a lot of teenagers spend too much time playing video games and not embracing life.

Man, look around, guys. There is a whole world out there to explore, and video games keep you inside and, thus, kill your soul.

But, hey, some video games are realistic and are so impressive with their graphics that they can transform the user into another person and offer an escape from his everyday worries. ... That's how I felt when I played Atari's "Adventure," and arguably, no game in the history of video games had better graphics than "Adventure."This game has dragons, swords and some sort of swashbuckler shaped as a square. My only critique for "Adventure" is that its realism is a bit too graphic for the faint at heart.

Through my extensive Internet research, I have learned that Atari's "Adventure" is credited with having the first, or at least one of the first, "Easter eggs" in a video game. An Easter egg in a video game is a hidden message or hidden joke. Really? The game needed to hide a joke?

Within the past year, the 3-D film "Avatar" garnered a lot of praise for its cutting-edge special effects. I saw the film and, yes, agree that the special effects are superb. However, those do not nearly compare to the special effects and emotional payoff of a game of "Adventure."A blinking gold chalice, castles and mazes, "Adventure" is beauty. To steal a phrase from "Avatar" and its made-up movie language:

"Adventure," I see you.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Simple Minds inflict iTunes with disease

For the past few days, I haven't been the same and have been suffering from a disease - iTuneseria.

"ITunes-eria" is an affliction, similar to diarrhea or gonorrhea, in which iTunes frequently plays a borderline add to one's music library while on shuffle. Unfortunately, this horrible thing has happened to me after adding "The Best of Simple Minds," which I wanted for the necessary Snooze Button Generation anthem "Don't You (Forget About Me)."

I also know the Simple Minds songs "Alive and Kicking," "All the Things She Said," and "Sanctify Yourself." Now, here is where life takes us in directions we can never fully understand: There are 32 songs on the two-disc "The Best of Simple Minds."

Wait. What? There are 32 Simple Minds songs of note?? No way. This is what is called one-hit-wonder overcompensation. Simple Minds doesn't want to just be the "Don't You (Forget About Me)" band, so they put 32 songs on their "best of" album. I honestly had never heard any of the songs on Disc 2 (except a remake of "Biko"), and when any of those songs pop up on shuffle, I think, "What is this? What is going on? Where is my piano tie?"The only other time I suffered from iTuneseria is when I imported Motley Crue's greatest hits. I never really liked the Crue, but I read a book about the band and formed a strange affinity toward the drummer Tommy Lee.

For several weeks, whenever I listened to iTunes on shuffle, Crue songs would pop up at the worst moments. I remember a serious moment with a friend only to be broken up with "Girls, Girls, Girls" blasting on my iTunes.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Happy 420, potheads!

Hecklers at NBA games are decidedly uncreative and boring. "Hey, Walton, you suck!"

That's the typical heckle I heard during my seven years of writing and reporting about the NBA. It's rare that the heckler makes an impression on fans, not to mention an impression on a player. But it happened once with Denver Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony at a Clipper game.

Anthony was shooting free throws in the first quarter of a game when a heckler yelled, "Hey, Carmelo, look at the clock! It's 4:20. I bet you like that!"

Anthony gazed at the clock and then laughed uncontrollably. Several teammates laughed, too. The heckler countered, "See. I knew it, 420! That's right, man, 420!"

Apparently, 420 is all about marijuana, and if you say "420" to potheads, hipsters or pop culture aficionados, they will know the reference. And, hey, today is April 20, so happy 420 to you!The origin of the 420 reference most likely originated with a group of San Rafael, Calif., teens who met every day after school at 4:20 p.m. to blaze in 1971. Really? Wow. Those were some mighty potheads.

I do not use marijuana and have no pro-weed statement to make. That does not mean I am anti-weed. If I had to choose, I guess I am pro-weed, but, really, it is more of a non-issue to me. Weed usage, to me, is more of a social issue than a political one. I'm in my 30s, and am I really hanging out with people who think weed is important? Egads!

Anyway, I ran across an extremely funny "The Price Is Right" clip in which an obvious stoner repeatedly bids "420" on the items up for bid. The clip makes me laugh every time I watch it, and, of course, when he diverts from his "420" bid strategy and goes "1,420," he would have won if he went "420."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Local celebrities are way cooler than other celebs

Although it may be unfashionable to discuss politics in some circles, I made a political statement yesterday by voting for Kris Hanson for mayor of Long Beach, Calif.

Hanson was not running for mayor. In fact, I didn't even know I would do such a thing until I had my ballot in my hand. But I wrote in his glorious name: "Kristopher Hanson." Bob Foster was basically running unopposed in Long Beach, and my thoughts were these: "Man, we can do better than this. I'd rather see Hanson in charge."

The great thing about being a mayor, or a weatherperson, is that you're a local celebrity, and that means you're way cooler than a national, or international, celebrity. People do not know Foster or Hanson outside of Long Beach, but in this city, they are considered power brokers.

Workaholic weatherwoman Jackie Johnson is another example of this. She is extremely well-known in Los Angeles because she is on TV each week day from 8 to 11 p.m., but she is virtually unknown elsewhere.
Foster and Hanson have the same fate in Long Beach. Foster is arguably better known, but that is only because he already has been mayor for a few years. Hanson is a columnist for the Long Beach Press-Telegram, is a regular at the coolest bars in L.B. and has a throwback look that makes dudes shake his hand and ladies swoon. Damn it, he should be mayor!

The only other local celebrity I have ever seen that is anywhere as cool as Hanson is longtime Cleveland meteorologist Dick Goddard, who, like Hanson, makes dudes shake his hand and ladies swoon. Now that I think of it, I bet Goddard would have to be a better mayor than many of the unbalanced folk who held that job during his 40 years on TV.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Breaking news: Ol' Dirty Bastard was never Young Dirty Bastard

Rap star Ol' Dirty Bastard was never "Young Dirty Bastard" or simply "Dirty Bastard," the Snooze Button Generation has learned through extensive Internet research.

Apparently, ODB took his stage name from a 1980 kung-fu movie titled "Ol' Dirty & the Bastard" and was all of a sudden an Ol' Dirty Bastard instead of a Dirty Bastard who grew old. ODB arguably was never a real old bastard because he died of a drug overdose in 2004, two days before his 36th birthday.

As a father of two daughters, I imagine ODB's moniker presented difficulties with dating. If my daughters ever dated someone called "Ol' Dirty Bastard," that might raise an eyebrow for his intentions. Now, I don't mean to be judgmental or jump to conclusions, but as a dad, the name could be seen as negative on the dating circuit.Many people debate exactly who was the best, or most popular, member of the Wu-Tang Clan. Ol' Dirty Bastard could very well be the answer, but he is going against Method Man, Rza, Gza and Ghostface Killah. I suppose I'd prefer my daughter to date someone named Ghostface Killah as opposed to Ol' Dirty Bastard, though I might have a sweet spot in my heart for ODB's dental woes.