Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Don't say no, don't say nothing's wrong. 'Cos when you get back home, maybe I'll be gone.

A sad day today. With all the crazy shit going on across the country today, the passing of a true child of the 80s was marginalized and overlooked. Again.
Paul Hester, the drummer for both Split Endz and Crowded House, was found hanged in a Melbourne park yesterday afternoon. He was last seen taking his two dogs out for a walk on Friday afternoon, and just disappeared.

You're probably waiting for the inevitable "Don't Dream It's Over" joke about now... but you won't find it here. I love the work that both those bands put out, and I respect the artists involved too much to be a smartass about it today. Let's call today a look behind the curtain, into the inner Stew, if you will. If that's not your cup of tea, pretend I said something cold-heartedly hilarious about Johnnie Cochran, and move on.

You see, back in the day I used to love reading about some of the stunts Paul would pull to get a laugh, or mug for applause. Not the pajama-wearing self-marrying freakshow shit that goes on nowadays... just wacky hijinks to make the audience smile. Because to Paul, Neill, Nick (and the others), that's what it was all about - making sure everyone had a good time by playing some good music. Not stardom or self-promotion, movie careers, clothes labels, or any of that other crap that celebrities start doing when fame goes to their heads.

You're not going to hear much about that side of Paul though... if you hear any of it at all. If you're lucky, you'll find a bland little paragraph about Paul, Crowded House, and these were their hits - buy them on Amazon now! I've done your work for you though... The Sydney Morning Herald has a very nice article focusing on Paul's life, rather than his tragic death.
Initially, I was tempted to sulk today and listen to Don't Dream It's Over 30 or 40 times... much like I did when Michael Hutchence of INXS hung himself a few years ago. That doesn't help anyone of course, so I gave up on it. As stupid and selfish as suicide is, nothing we do can bring the people we care about back. It was just too nice a day outside to be depressed.

It's a cliche, but suicide really is a permanant solution to a temporary problem. We truly have no idea how many people our lives touch, until it's too late. Look at me... I'm all down about someone I've never met. Someone I had absolutely no contact with other than through a radio wave or a shiny plastic disc. (typically, the closest they ever came to playing in my town was one week after Paul left the band)
Without being all Dr. Phil, let me say that if anyone reading this is dealing with depression, talk to someone about it. Today. Get up, take a shower, and find someone to talk with - you don't have to go it alone. Most of Paul's friends say they really had no idea he was so depressed, and if he had only reached out for help they would have been there for him... but he didn't. And now he leaves behind two little girls and a legion of fans who will never really understand why he's gone.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Hail, hail East Germany, land of fruit and grape. Land where you'll regret if you try to escape

Val Kilmer is the fucking man. Not the Man man, but at the very least in the 98th percentile.

While I respect that being a celebrity comes with certain limitations of personal privacy, this is just a skosh over the top. Actually, while we're on the subject, I know all you dear readers enjoy the portion of the Stew-niverse that you get to experience vicariously here... but if you ever start talking to me while I'm riding a speeder bike, I'll fucking kill you.

A guy I knew in Jr. High allegedly had a similar run-in with Michael Keaton at the Final Four one year. The results were about the same. Mr. Mom was cool about the whole thing...
Must be part of strapping on a big rubber suit with enhanced nipples. I'm not sure the boys in marketing were thinking about Bruce Wayne chatting people up in the loo when they put out casting calls.
I wonder which restroom Christian Bale hung out in to get his job in the new Batman movie? Actually, scratch that thought. I definitely don't want to know what happened after someone quoted Newsies in the crapper.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

I was there to match my intellect on national TV

Attention grammar police: Be not afraid. Unto you a saviour is born!

Now you can critize the ignorance of others with impunity! You can engender abject hatred upon your person by rattling off obscure facts about tomatoes, bananas, and split infinitives. You can even use a semicolon for a shiv when some punk doubts your knowledge of octopodes.
You might even win a year's supply of Rice-A-Roni (the San Fransisco treat!) or perhaps a case of Turtle Wax. Well, maybe not YOU you, but someone who doesn't need the internet to know all this stuff. So while you guys are out playing your fooseball, I'll be right here studying.

Ken Jennings, your ass is mine.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Drop your bombs between the minarets down the casbah way

I'll be the first to admit I'm stunned by the lack of a massive bombing campaign on the anniversary of the death of Hamas' founder and spiritual leader. His name, Ahmed Yassin, isn't that well known in America, so perhaps you might recognize him as...
Wormtongue's Bitch
Saruman the White.

For such a celebrity, the anniversary got little to no media coverage... which is strange, considering how much they love to cover freaks who live alone in fortress-like compounds. Too bad about all those ents destroying his amusement park rides.
All is not lost though. Fans of violence and double-standards alike can rejoice in the completely unbiased coverage of the Hamas pep rally that marked the occasion. Let's take this piece by piece, shall we?
Thousands of Hamas supporters rallied in Gaza
Thousands? After Hamas was able to round up an estimated 100,000 people in Lebanon alone to "demonstrate" their love of being a Syrian puppet, the best they can do for themselves is about 7,000? (according to VOA) Sounds like not everyone's going to make the seventh inning stretch there, guys.

An Israeli attack helicopter fired three missiles directly at him. The quadriplegic Yassin was in his wheelchair when he and another eight Palestinians were killed near the mosque.
Yes, because Israel makes a habit of picking random old men rolling down the street on their Rascal Scooters and blowing the holy fuckall out of them with missiles... How about you mention the part where he was in a heavily-armed convoy of vehicles, please? Most of the other people killed were bodyguards... and apparently not ones from a good temp agency.

[Current Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar] told reporters at the rally that Israel has not yet positively responded to demands of releasing prisoners and withdrawing from Palestinian cities.
Well that's a typical demand, right? Let some low-level guys out of jail, and pull back so we can all cool off for a while. Sounds reasonable to me... but wait, let's see what he really means in the next paragraph.
"Our demands are very clear. The gradual release of all prisoners from Israeli jails, the withdrawal from all the areas that Israel occupied at the beginning of the intifada and an end to all its security measures,"
You read that right. All prisoners from Israeli jails. All of them. Because it's all the Zionist oppressors fault that every single person in an Israeli jail is locked up tonight... it has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that they committed crimes.
And the pre-intifada borders? Al-Zahar is of course talking about the intifada that started in 1947, so no, I don't see Israel going along with that one. Now, I'm no political insider here, but I'm betting there's not much Knesset support for the "drive the Jews into the sea" movement.
If that wasn't enough, he wants Israel to end all its security measures... because you know, there's no need to have any kind security when your neighbors are constantly trying to kill you. Geez, what a bunch of reactionaries those Israelis are.

My favorite part though is this:
Al-Zahar said he doubted that the meeting due to be held in Cairo Tuesday would produce a truce with Israel "as long as Israel is still adopting the same policy."
Those Jews and their pesky "don't get blown up" policies. What a bunch of jerks, eh?

Last but not least this bit from the middle of the article, just for laughs.
"My father didn't die; he is living inside me and inside every Palestinian.
To paraphrase Jack Handey, I hope he likes enchiladas -- because that's what he's getting!

In other news, it's a freakin Wisconsin-palooza in the Sweet Sixteen... just like I predicted. w00t!


Sunday, March 20, 2005

Better do as you are told. You better listen to the radio

Yep, I'm still in mourning for missing Elvis. Though it turns out tickets were $40, so there's one more reason that my attendance was destined not to happen this time.

I've been filling the pain in my heart with Internet Radio. Sometime in the past, the machines at work started allowing streaming content to come through, so I'm all over Live365 like a cheap suit... or Cheap Trick.
While I'm in plug mode, I should throw a shout out to Zebby of Planet Zeb - the best station on the web, hands down. Within an hour of tuning in, I had heard the best 80s ever... plus Don Johnson. The cool part is I chose Planet Zeb completely at random from the list of 80s stations, and now it turns out they're the only one I'll prolly ever need to listen to.
Zebby could do with a little more metal, but I can overlook that. (Though if you happen to come across this Zebby, consider adding anything off of Powerslave into the rotation.)

In other news: Thanks for fucking me over, Kansas. You guys should probably take up fishing instead...

Thursday, March 17, 2005

All the teachers in the pub passing round the ready-rub

First things first: Happy Green Beer Day, you snake-bashing leprechaun-fuckers! (Naturally, that's meant in a good way... every reader should know that by now.)

To the new readers, I offer my apology. I understand that the preferred nomenclature is now "Beer of Color," so while you go read the archives and catch up to the rest of us, I'll try to be more sensitive to the suds in my frosty mug. Have one on me, Tenzin Gyatso.
If you live in one of the population centers with parades for every ethnicity under the sun, go out and enjoy the day... regardless of your ancestry. Get ye gone to the nearest tavern and go be judged not by the the color of your skin, but by the content of your flagon. Be careful you wear the appropriate headwear though... many people are still so backwards as to place more stock in symbols than in the people or traditions they are meant to stand for.

This being a double-holiday, I couldn't let it go by without commenting on the Big Dance. While I'm paitently waiting for my brackets to get shot all to hell, I'm missing cable TV like Robert Downey Jr. jonesing for snow in the big house. You see, our local cable tinpots include two different CBS feeds in the basic package - one from the actual local station, and another from a major urban center a few miles away. The result is that during the tournament we get double the number of games to watch. When one turns into a blowout (as many will do in the first few rounds) then you simply switch over to the other guys.
Alternatively, when Wisconsin-Milwaukee or New Mexico get close to fulfilling their destiny as #12 seeds, you can tune in to watch an overconfident team go down in flames.

The NCAA has out done itself this year in giving out virtual home games to the top seeds, especially the almighty Duke Blue Devils. God forbid we have to face a world where they're not a) a #1 seed, and b) in the Final Four. Just send them a plane ticket to St. Louis already and stop pretending to be objective. If the Illini advance, they'll play in Indianapolis and Chicago... hardly lengthy trips. Duke and UNC are both playing in fucking Charlotte for shit's sake... that's about as neutral a site as holding a Klan rally on Martin Luther King Street.
Anyway, since it will virtually assure that it does not come to pass, I'll go on the record with my half-assedly researched predictions. This year I like Oklahoma State and Kentucky. I also have a feeling that Wisconsin will go a lot deeper than most people expect. Don't ask me to justify any of this, of course... see the "half-assedly researched" qualifier above.

Hope you're not blinded by all the green text, guys. On the plus side, at least it's not continually blinking "12:00." Remember that friends don't let friends drive drunk... without getting it on tape for one of those blooper shows.

Monday, March 14, 2005

I can mix numbers up and combine them, I can take them apart and align them

Good news in the war on stupidity: I'm not likely to be a victim of friendly fire. Yes friends, after years of hard study at a reputable institution of higher education, I can now pass an 8th grade math test.
Bask in my awesome congruence, mortals! (and remember - without ME, it would just be "aweso.")

You know, the more I think about it, the more uncomfortable I am about being in a position to not draw anyone's fire (not that I'm all that good of an artist) so I think I'll say something "cutting" and "controversial" just to stir the pot. Liketohearithereitgo: The concept of math rock really intrigues me. With its insanity-inducing complexity and oddball time signatures, it's like prog on meth... however, almost all the math rock bands recommended to me suck. The only group of the aforementioned I liked was Dillinger Escape Plan, and they're just as much metal as they are math... so I'm not sure if that completely qualifies.
So yes, I'm quite disappointed with math rock's effort, but still hold out hope for its concept.

Speaking of disappointed (but not math rock) I can neither afford to make it to the Elvis Costello (travel time) nor Aimee Mann (work) shows this week. What's stupid is that they're so close - Tulsa and Big D, respectively.
I've still never seen Elvis in person, something I'd like to do before either one of us die... don't kack off on me just yet, Declan! His newer stuff seems to be more along the lines of his "classic" tracks. Check out the recently released remaster of This Year's Model, if you doubt me.
I always loved Till Tuesday, and was fucking amazed by Aimee's last studio album, Lost In Space. If you love the 80s as I do, you could find a worse place to spend ten bucks. As an added bonus, all the album art was done by Seth, an imminently talented indie comic artist known mostly for his book Palooka-ville.
Ms Mann (hehe, irony = comedy) has a new disc due in stores on May 3, and this being a concept album, I'm quite intrigued to hear what she's going to do.

Anyway, now that I've spleened what passes for my inner music geek, I should wrap this up with something witty about the (nominal) subject of the post... hmmm...
In my 8th grade algebra class, my friend Mike Z. drew a picture of a Phlegm McMuffin. Now, I have no concrete proof of this, but my working theorem is that without that image seared in my brain, I wouldn't stand a chance of passing the test in the link above. So thanks Mike for helping me slam-dunk what MSN thinks 8th graders should know. I'm sure that it didn't help me much to draw boobies with the bubbles on the Scantron instead of actually trying to answer the questions...
Ha! I crack me up.

Monday, March 07, 2005

No one's gonna drag you up, to get into the light where you belong

(as if any I really had a choice of what to use for the title of this one... Thanks, flatheaded Swedes!)

Longtime readers will no doubt be aware of the joy I take in pointing out the many stupid things that professional athletes do. Today will be a delightful tanget on that beloved pasttime. We'll be talking about other people making fun of stupid athletes. Huzzah!
With my Captain Brass impression out of the way, I have to admit I've got no damn idea how I missed this story. Shockingly, it seems I'm not the only person in America that thinks Randy Moss is slightly more self-important than... shit... I can't really name someone any more meglomaniacal than Straight Cash Homey. Idi Amin comes a close second, I guess. I should point out in Randy's defense that if he didn't get fined so much, he'd have an airport with his name on it already... probably two or three of them.

Channel3000 has some lo-res pictures of the billboards available - in snazzy slideshow format, no less!

Anyway, rock on Wisconsin. You may be a godforsaken frozen tundra fit for neither man nor beast, but you've got some clever cheese-gobbling mofos up there.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Come on baby, tell me what's The Word!

So says the Magic Hate Ball: All signs point to "Chipotle."

Apparently, I'm a little behind the times on this one. About 534,000 hits behind the times, (give or take) it seems... but who's counting?

The word chipotle has taken America by storm this season. There's a burgeoning chipotle overload in pop culture that's rising to Bubba Gump levels. To Wit: Chipotle Mexican Grill... Chipotle Tabasco... McDonald's chipotle dipping sauce... chipotle soup... chipotle gumbo... grilled chipotle... fried chipotle... Chipotle Johnson (I think he went to high school with one of you guys. If not, he should have.) You get the idea. Ad agents have chipotle-adopted a chipotle adjective and are chipotle-hammering it home.

Think back a bit, and you'll recall that the chipotle of 1998-2000 was "cilantro." Hey, I'm right, aren't I? It was an exciting time back then - Hully finally hoisted the Cup, Clinton was teaching us all what "is" was, and damn near everything had cilantro in it. You couldn't even get a glass of water in a restaurant without them sneaking a few leaves of it in the ice cubes. Cilantro was "all up ins," as the cool kids (and me) say.
Now? Good luck. With a little poking around, you can find it in the produce section of your larger stores, and for three times as much you can find it in local specialty shops. It's a good day if you can find it in the spices aisle.
As far as products that feature cilantro in them... I think Pace still has a con-cilantro version, but that's about it.

Cilantro as a fad waned when Asagio Cheese was dubbed the new prettyboy flavor. Thank God that flopped bigger than New Coke. I still get nightmares of those Gilbert Gottfried commercials from Subway. Seriously... I get a nervous tic if I hear "Next stop: Skoozy!"

After that, there was a brief (like 3 hour) attempt to bring back "What'chu talkin' 'bout Willis?" followed by my failed bid for MacGuyver.
After lying low for a few years, the fad is back, and it's begat chipotle. Could be worse though; the flavor of the month could have been "ecru" or "scatalogical." In light of those options, chipotle's not so bad. If only because all the fucking half-wits here have no idea how to pronounce it. "Chi-poe-tull." "Cheapo-le." "Chuh-pot-lee."
It's entertainment all on its own.

Chipotle, baby.