Thursday, September 28, 2006

Found The Dinosaur Picture

Oh, you guys are in for a treat! I finally figured out how to get the dinosaur picture onto my blog. Well, without any further adieu, here it is!

I am just so glad to have this blog, so I can share my important hobbies with you all. I think we can all learn something from this picture. I don't know what kind of dinosaur this is, but this picture really reveals something about creation.

I was at the Anoka dinosaur fair this weekend, and I saw an exhibit entitled "did all dinosaurs eat meat?" The answer? No, they sure didn't! Some of the largest dinoaurs ate plants. What? The worlds largest salad? Are you kidding me?

Can I get dressing on the side? I'm just kidding. They probably didn't have salad dressing back then. But the dinosaurs got along fine, until the asteroids killed them.

In a lot of ways, I see my self reflected in the dinosaurs. You see, I'm not all that good looking. And people often don't understand me. They sure don't understand why I would go to a party just to draw sketches of dinosaurs. Yeah, they judge the crap out of me for that.

That's okay, cause, like me, some dinosaurs have sharp teeth, and are ferocious. Maybe you'll all find that out about me some day.

But I've gotten ahead of myself. The best thing about the dinosaur conference was the real-life models of dinosaurs. I have to admit, the T-Rex gave me the willies. Like that movie Jurassic Park, where the fat guy gets eaten and Jeff Goldblum is all detached and ironic. I watch Jurassic Park pretty much every day.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Clinton on Fox News

By now, most people have seen President Clinton's little tirade on Fox News. Cause, you know, Fox News really did a hatchet job on him by making him address, you know, the content of his presidency, as opposed to, you know, like, hailing him as an economic visionary or a brilliant statesman? You know, that kind of hatchet job?

All that can be said has been said about this man, I suppose, but I'm a blogger, so I am require to have an opinion. I had, largely forgotten about Bill Clinton. He was the vestige of a bygone era, a tabloid whore who rose to power in an era when Americans fell in love with the Dave Matthews Band, and could afford to take our leadership lightly. Of course, he drove Republicans bananas, what with the lying and the intern-nailing, and the lying to cover up his inter-nailing. He was allowed to be unserious, though, because America was drunk off a strong drink called the tech boom. The Internet was creating jobs for everyone! The opportunities were endless!

I remember, rabid partisan that I am, feeling quite indifferent to the 2000 election. The campaign was a jejune affair, between a famously robotic momentum candidate and some guy whose dad was president, and who may or may not have done cocaine. The race ended in a tie, for crying out loud. Of course, some of my liberal college friends were maudlin about the whole affair. "I have so many gay friends, and now the supreme court is going to ban homosexuality," exclaimed one girl over a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, in a moment more notable for sincerity than prescience.

Simply put, Bill Clinton trivialized the presidency. He made a mockery of the oval office (his staff raised quite a stir by trashing the place upon their exit). His last act as president was to pardon his convicted cronies for their crimes on his behalf. Ordinarily, this would evoke a response of shock and disgust from the American populace. Imagine what the blogosphere would have done with that, had there been such a thing in January of 2001.

Then, Muslims crashed some planes into buildings, and we needed a president again. Suddenly, America was kinda glad that they had lucked into someone who fit the bill (deep down, I think we still are). For all his rhetorical blunders, President Bush embarked on a campaign that responded to the attacks of 9/11 coherently and consistently.

Of course, the jury is still out on whether Bush's course of action was appropriate to the event, or whether it will be successful in thwarting terrorism. And, of course, Bush's defiance has rankled the political left in the same way Clinton's dalliance infuriated the right.

Say what you will, it is hard to remember a time when people simply did not care who was leading the country. Bush's presidency has been decidedly serious and almost singular in focus. Partisan fervor is nearing an all-time high, and America is aware of the stakes involved when political parties vie for public office.

Which brings me back to Clinton's appearance on Fox. It was strange to see him so unhinged, so defensive, so angry. His presidency had a scripted quality (in fact, much of it WAS scripted, by a republican strategist no less). He responded to withering attacks with lip-biting aplomb. His blase attitude and keen social skills garnered him no end of charisma-related (if decidedly unfavorable) monikers. And yet, here he was, defending his foreign policy with the passion of someone who, well, probably knows he screwed things up a bit.

It was a postmodern commentary, applying the vitriol of today's bitter partisanship to his laissez-faire presidency. It was a quixotic endeavor. The books and reports that he cited (even those written by his own cabinet) clearly revealed that President Clinton was not in control over the federal agencies, much less willing to guide them into the right course of action. His proclivity for straw-polling and message testing is certainly public knowledge. And now, he is defending his actions with the zeal of a blogger.

All I could think was, where was this when you were president? Where was the passion, the angry desire to do right by your office? Certainly, he had the intelligence, the savvy, the public support, and the political skill to execute competent foreign policy. He could have, but he didn't. In the late 1990s, when the Lewinsky affair was at its zenith, there was a bumper sticker that said "character counts". That's damn right. You can measure a man by the content of his character.

Bill Clinton was a small man. And, if this interview is any indication, he still is.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

WFAT - Dead Poet's Society

So, I'm starting a news series called WFAT - Worst Films of All Time. I'm going to tackle some of my least favorite films, and explain why they suck. Of course, it would be fair (and not at all compelling) to focus on camp films, teenybopper films, sequels etc... I'm looking for films that have made an impression, and that are truly the worst of the worst. Without any further adieu, here is my first entry, a review of Dead Poet's Society. Enjoy.

The opening sequence of Dead Poets Society features a wide shot of geese in a field. The toll of a church bell sends them into flight, as the camera sweeps across the landscape. It’s a pretty shot. We immediately see another set of geese. Another bell toll. The geese fly away. Huh. More geese, more bells. Is this a documentary about the hearing ability of birds? I believe there was some mention of Robin Williams. How does he factor into the story?

The scene is then repeated some 8 times, with each iteration creeping closer and closer to the line of parody. Dead Poet’s Society establishes a pretentious, maudlin tone before we ever hear a line of dialogue.

The film is about teenage boys who attend the Welton academy, an all-male boarding school in Vermont. It is the kind of school that only exists in the movies, where the headmaster talks about tradition being the more important than anything, as though any educator in the history of the world ever believed that tradition is a more important component to education than say, reading and mathematics.

So along comes Robin Williams to dash this straw man to pieces. Williams plays John Keating, an English teacher who acts a lot like Robin Williams, so you know he’s no ordinary English Teacher. He’s actually a mediocre English Teacher, insofar as the students learn little about reading, writing or literature. But he’s mediocre in incredibly zany ways! He rips the boring pages out of books, he has his students kick soccer balls, he imitates Marlon Brando’s Godfather (a curious decision in 1959). In other, words, he exhorts his students to live. He’s like Rodney Dangerfield with an advanced degree.

The students eat it up. Damn right it’s time to live. So they read Thoreau, or rather, skim Thoreau for the quotes that movie audiences will recognize. They decide to resurrect “The Dead Poet’s Society” a secret society founded by Keating when he himself was attended the Welton Academy. What does the society consist of? Apparently, playing saxophone and talking to girls.

Well, all this saxophone playing and female interaction raises the ire of the headmaster, who disapproves of hormones and reed instruments (and Thoreau, for some reason). Williams’ antics get him in hot water. This is among the first of the “Robin Williams’ whacky antics get him in hot water” genre, which has given us such cinematic gems as Patch Adams and Mrs. Doubtfire.

The boiling points comes when Mr. Keating instructs his student (Ethan Hawke) to audition for a “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at another school, against the wishes of his parents, who do not think it appropriate for a student to dabble in such unseriousness as Shakespeare. His parents take action, Hawke kills himself, Keating gets blamed, and some redheaded kid gets punched in the face.

In real life, schools that pride themselves on tradition embrace kooky graduates who come back to teach. They encourage the eccentricity, and use it as a selling point to attract students, donors, national recognition. Mr. Keating (provided he could actually teach literature) would be given a corner office, and tenure until the age of 88.

However, plot dynamics require that the school fire him, so it does, which is fortunate for the film because it gives the students reason to stand on their desks again.

Dead Poet’s Society is a movie that must pretend as though it has something to say. My best teachers were the ones who demanded something of me. I respected them because they respected my gifts, but would not tolerate my laziness. They didn’t stand on chairs or whisper in my ear. They taught. Well.

The film quotes famous authors, but doesn’t care about them, likely because the screenwriters have never bothered to actually read them. Literature, then, becomes a plot device, instead of art. That this film inspires people is proof that one needn’t make a good film in order to inspire. In a world in which teachers are encouraged to embrace the latest insipid educational fad, movies such as this are not just shallow and manipulative, they are downright insulting.

The movie’s message seems to be that non-conformity is good. Walden and Thoreau were non-conformists, after all. But non-conformity for the sake of non-conformity is conceit. This is a conceited film, and it is one of the worst of all time.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Guest Post by a Bennington College Grad.

As a person, I was pretty "pumped" about the decrease in gas prices.

But, as a Bennington graduate, I started using my brain, and realized that it's just another conspiracy. Yep, that's right, this is just another Preisdent Bush conspiracy.

You see, the president who faked 9/11, and then murdered all those blacks with hurricane Katrina is working with his oil big-wig, Halliburton cronies to lower gas prices, just in time for the 2006 elections. Of course, it's no skin off Halliburton's back, since they will just steal more oil from Iraqi orphans before they shoot them in the back of the head like I'm pretty sure they have been.

Yep, the party of rape and torture is artificially dropping the price of gasoline in order to make Republicans look good, so they can sty in power and promote their pro-oil agenda.

Yeah, except in poorer, black neighborhoods, where gas prices are still well above $3 per gallon. I haven't been to those neighborhoods to observe this, but I'm assuming it's the case the way President Bush viscerally hates black people.

This is all jsut a big attempt to distract everyone from the Iraq war, but it doesn't stop there. Has anyone noticed that the unemployment rate is down to 4.7%? Great news, right? Wrong! President Bush just got on the phone with all his Fortune 500 crony, rich, big-wig white guys and got them to offer temporary jobs, just in time for the 2006 election.

Of course, you'll notice that, between May of 2005 and now, no company has hired any black people. And more children are being thrown into poverty by Walmart, which is lowering the price of generic drugs in order to screw the pharamaceutical companies, who are paying off the Bush administration to make drug prices more expensive, so the Walmart can make more money by offering cheap generic drugs.

See, you didn't think of that did you? You and your pie in the sky attitude. You've been duped by Walmart and Halliburton. And now more children are starving to death than at any time in this nation's history because Republicans are actively cutting programs that feed this country's poor. the average high school graduate now makes $6.22 per hour, thanks to Republican policies limiting wages for hispanics and blacks.

What is clear is that we need a change. It's time to stop these bastards from ruining everything, and fighting an unjust war for oil so they can torture innocent Muslims convert them to Christianity so they can all worship Jaysus. This is what's happening in America people, only everyone is too stupid to realize it cause they didn't go to elite colleges.

As John Mayer says, we're all waiting for the world to change. John Mayer is so bright and the best songwriter ever!!!!! YAAHAHHHHH!!!! NO WARRRRR!!!!! SNNRRGGHHHN!!!! NED LAMOOOOOOOOONT!!!!!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Guest blog by cat


Kevin's busy right now, so he said I could go ahead and blog for him today.


Um... So the race between the Tigers and Twins is heating up....

Pretty ironic, you know... Cause their names both start with the letter 'T'...

Teeeeee-wins. Teeeeeee-igers.....

Twins and Tiger and Yankees, oh my! Just kidding. Just kidding, cause it was, it was... It was from the movie. Wizard of Oz... Ozzzzzzzzz...

You know I really never liked that movie? Did you know that Dorothy was supposed to be 11 years old? Weird. She had breasts... You know?

Anyway, here's picture I like.

I like it. Except it's a dog ;)

What do you mean this post wasn't funny? So help me God, I'll scratch your eyes!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

An exchange

Tuna: Where are my keys? Where on earth are my keys?

Shark: (on cell phone) No, I just think he's gotta get the stick out of his ass... Oh, hold on. I see a tuna.

Tuna: There they, are. Why do I never check my coat pocket?

Shark: Hey tuna!

Tuna: Hey! Oh, a shark.

Shark: I'm gonna eat you.

Tuna: I'd rather you didn't.

Shark: (bites Tuna in half)

Tuna: Ahhhhh!!!! AHHHHHHH!!!!!

Shark: Oh, you should taste this guy Jimmy. Good stuff. Good stuff.

Tuna: (dies)

Shark: I'm telling you, Leon's gotta be with us on this thing.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Little Miss Sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine is a good film. Alas, it is far from a great one.

The film, which documents an unlikely family road trip to the west coast, follows the familiar path of indie flicks that have more fun creating problems for their characters than they do resolving them. The result is an immensely entertaining experience that rings as hollow as an action caper, if not moreso.

The film quickly introduces us to the family, which could best be described as a collection of screenwriter footnotes. We see a little chubby girl who wants to be Miss America, a suicidal homosexual, a worried mother (and sister to aforementioned homosexual), a brother who has taken a vow of silence and reads Nietzsche, a father who is an aggressive motivational speaker, and a drug-addicted, foul-mouthed grandpa.

In the process of a sharply written dinner scene, we learn the quirks of each character. The homosexual (Steve Carrell) is the foremost Proust scholar in the U.S.; the son wants to join the Air Force; the father (Greg Kinnear) is about to land a book deal; the grandpa (Alan Arkin) was kicked out of a nursing home for snorting drugs.

The screenplay wants to get these people together so they can be funny, so it contrives to get the whole family into a VW bus to California so that the girl can enter the "Little Miss Sunshine" beauty pageant.

They go, and, amidst their whacky adventures, every character winds up losing. See, the movie has a theme: that America is about winning. This is a family of losers. Love them, dammit. Kinnear's book deal falls through, Carrell's character faces the cause of his suicidal tendencies, grandpa... well take a guess. One character's letdown is so creative, that we wonder whether he was given this particular dream specifically so it could be crushed.

Of course, the Bus breaks down (it's a Volkswagen, after all), and does so amusingly.
The film nearly breaks into farce at this point, and offers some of the more hamhanded slapstick I've seen in awhile, before arriving at its beauty pagenat finale.

And this is where the movie falters. Destroying these people was great fun, and the film does so almost seamlessly. I mentioned that the screenplay contrives to get them on the bus. The mechanisms involved in this would have fallen flat in the hands of lesser screenwriting. At every turn, the writing is crisp and the actors deftly avoid the cliches associated with their characters.

Carrell deserves a special nod for his work here. This isn't another "funny guy goes indie" turn. His performance is pitch perfect, and demonstrates an extraordinary timing and grasp of the power of understatement.

The writing, in and of itself, is excellent. The film bucks the recent trend of indy films that have their characters sitting in the same room, mumbling ironic non-sequitors at each other (I'm looking at you "Napoleon Dynamite"). These characters talk to each other, look at each other. If there is a bucket of chicken in the room, they eat it, and come to consensus (or not) as to whether they liked it. The best scenes in the film come when the characters are simply being together.

But yes, the ending. It doesn't work. The film suddenly turns it's satirical lens to the world of youth beauty pageants, a ripe target to be sure, but what has it got to do with this movie? Apparently, it is there to show us that the world is just a series of beauty pageants, as it tells us when one of the characters exclaims that "life is just a series of beauty pageants."

Then, we get a dance sequence so bizarre that it made me feel embarassed for the film. It is a comic miscalculation, an act of desperation tacked onto a film in search of a payoff.

And that's why the film is so empty. The movie has nothing to say to the characters who inhabit it. It offers no solutions. And so, it simply lets them off the hook, as they decide, rather arbitrarily, that things aren't really so bad after all.

For all the skill and craft that went into this film, there is not an organic moment in it. The characters do what they do either because it will be funny, or because it will land them safely in the next plot sequence. Along the way, any sense of truth is lost, and we are left to settle for a sort of edgy sitcom.

If one were to be unfair, there is substantial ammunition for a very negative review of "Little Miss Sunshine". But, I have to admit, I laughed hard enough to ignore the plot mechinations and the cliches. On those grounds, I suppose, I join the chorus of the tasteful in recommending the film.

Friday, September 15, 2006

I'm Taking The Plunge

As a busy soccer mom, I figured it was time to break down and by a computer. Some of the models I saw were way too expensive, so I settled on the practical Commodore 64, which I picked up at a yard sale! I've heard great things about it's user interface, and it's quality office tools. Plus it's great for the kids. They've got all sorts of games for it. It looks like the only problem is going to be keeping everyone away from it! ;)

I'm really excited about this. GEOS and Zork came with it, so I'm pretty sure it's Internet ready. Plus, I can just plug it into the TV. How whacky is that? Change the channel honey, Commodore 64 is on. What? Are you kidding me? :o

I got a great deal on it, too. It was a total God thing. The sticker on it looked like it said $5.00. I said to the guy selling it "you mean five-hundred right? You're not selling this for just five bucks." He looked at me like he was about to say something, then said "you know what? You look like a smart shopper, I'll go ahead and give it to you for 400."

I tried to play it cool, but I was pretty excited. My husband's always telling me I'm spending too much time at garage sales. Wait until I tell him I got a whole computer for $400! This'll prove him wrong!

I'm reading the instructions, and this thing is so easy to use. All I have to do to run a program is type LOAD"*",8,1 and its ready to go in about 2-3 minutes. Plus, I've been doing some reading, and it looks like the Commodore is pretty much safe from viruses.

Oh, I have to finish up. My husband's coming home with the kids, and I want to hide this under a blanket so it's a surprise.

I can't wait to see the look on his face. 21st century, here I come!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

An Interview With Cat

Every now and then, my blog affords me the opportunity to speak with famous celebrities. Recently, Pickles has made waves in the blogosphere by being the first cat to operate his own blog. Without any further ado, Pickles, welcome to TPWK.

Pickles: I am undone with joy.

TPWK: Now, of course, I think we were all taken aback when you began the now-famous smartycat blog, a bold foray into the myasma of feline discontentment and rage.

Pickles: I hate being a cat. I'd rather be a dancer. I cannot dance.

TPWK: Yes, the dancing. Difficult.

Pickles: Two left feet.

TPWK: Figuratively and literally, yes.

Pickles: Would you watch?

TPWK: Watch?

Pickles: Were I to dance, would you enjoy watching that?

TPWK: I guess I can't say.

Pickles: I would practice first. I am very meticulous, you understand. One, two, three... One, two, three... One, two, three..

TPWK: Clearly, you are envisioning a waltz.

Pickles: I would be beautiful. For the first time in my life. Beautiful.

TPWK: Right. Of course, your blog, with its no-hold-barred depiction of your life, has garnered praise from certain circles, but certainly its fair share of criticism.

Pickles: The dog hates it.

TPWK: The dog...

Pickles: The dog is a son of a bitch.

TPWK: Again, literally and figuratively. Yes...

Pickles: One time, our owners left for Valleyfair. The dog was inconsolable. So irate he was that he defecated both on our owner's pillows and in their toddler's crib.

TPWK: The dog, flummoxed, no doubt.

Pickles: Do you know what I was doing? Do you know what I did with the peace and quiet? I wrote limmericks. I wrote limmericks because that is what sophisticated animals do.

TPWK: Indeed.

Pickles: And who gets the attention? The dog. For defecating. I craft a brilliant, ironic commentary, via limmerick, on our failing foreign policy, and the dog takes a dump and suddenly it's world war 3.

TPWK: Misplaced priorities, it seems, on the part of the owners.

Pickles: I mean, how the hell did he even get into the crib to do that, much less find the wherewithal? It's a baby's crib for crying out loud. And then the dog has the audacity to say my writing is "myopic". That was his word. "Myopic".

TPWK: Let's shift gears. You have long been active on the issue of cat exploitation. In the 1990's you were very visible in protesting the image... The so-called "fefe" image that you felt was, at best, condescending...

Pickles: There is this perception that cats, are, how to say it, austere. Noble, but incapable. I took offense. I am a living animal, not a set-piece in some burgeois fantasy-play.

TPWK: Many have said that you were responsible for instigating the violence that claimed the life of Meow Mix CEO...

Pickles: I have no comment on that.

TPWK: But it has been said.

Pickles: I have no comment on that. I have said my piece. The courts have decided. I have no comment.

TPWK: Surely, you are able to...

Pickles: I will urinate on your socks! Do you want that? You will smell my piss!

TPWK: Right. Cordially.

Pickles: ....

TPWK: You mentioned dancing.

Pickles: Are we done here?


TPWK: Are you scratching my ottoman? Don't pretend like you can do that. Don't pretend that's cool.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

An elevator conversation

Me: (enters elevator)

Frazzled Man: Hold the... Wait! Hold the elevator. (enters) Alright. There we go.

Me: !

Frazzled Man: (Hits the button for floor number 3). Oh wait! That's not my floor. That's not it at all. (Hits the button for floor number 4). Oh, like we needed anything to make this... And now it's slower than anything.

Me: !

Frazzled Man: It's just crazy what your brain does, you know? I saw the phone, and I just figured I'd hit three.

Me: !

Frazzled Man: Wow, wow, wow... (Exits elevator)

Me: ?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Never forget?

The 5th anniversary of 9/11 has arrived with moderate fanfare. We do well to observe the sadness and tragedy of that day. We were attacked, people died, and a nation was aroused. 9/11 served to show our resolve, our fortitude in the face of tragedy. As cliche as it sounds, it was absolutely true. At the time. Sorta.

If 9/11/01 showed our strength as a nations, 9/11/06 shows us how shamefully fickle and dull we are as a nation. Most of America hates our president for having the balls to actually solve a terrorism problem he inherited from a lecherous putz who used flash-polls to ascertain whether he should a "strong leader" or a "peacemaker" after every attack. We are now more concerned with whether terrorists can check out library books than whether, say, the Sears Tower comes crashing to the ground.

An entire political party has used our effort as a bludgeon against our leader, in the hopes of gaining political power, so that they can... What, exactly? Does anyone know what the Democrats want to do when they are put in power? America is poised to hand over the keys to a group of politicians who have articulated no plan to engage our nation's most daunting task.

The biggest news story of the whole anniversary has been former President Clinton's insistence that ABC edit their little docudrama in such a way that will absolve him and his staff of political divas from any culpability. That's it? That's his response, five years after we were attacked? Get hissy at ABC? No apology? No remorse for the event? Does that arrogant son of a bitch even give a damn? Does anyone not know the answer to that question?

Five years later, the public nods and smiles. Fully 36% of those surveyed in a recent Scripps-Howard poll believe that the Bush administration had a hand in the 9/11 attacks. I wonder how they would respond to a question that asked whether the attacks were in response to Bush's war on terror? You can blame Bush for anything, yes? Why let temporal constraints get in the way of trendy hatred?

There are valid criticisms of the way the president has conducted the war on terror, and the average American understands none of them. The average American just wants the problem to go away. For the eight years that preceded 9/11, we had a president who ascended to power by being the guy who could make problems seem to disappear.

Then two towers collapsed, and we were left with a problem that couldn't disappear. It hasn't disappeared, and it won't unless we decide to make it happen.

It was said that the 9/11 attacks tested our resolve. Resolve is not an immediate reaction. It is not supporting a war effort for awhile, then getting sick of it, and wondering when it's going to be over so you can stop hearing news about it. Resolve doesn't succomb to boredom and ennui.

Never forgetting doesn't mean remembering that you at your work when you first heard the news, or that you had Cheeto-dust on your fingers, or that you had such-and-such a friend who lived in New York, and the had to call you to assure you they were alright, or that you flew out of city x just two days before the attacks and there but for the grace of God blah, blah, blah.

Never forgetting means acknowledging the emotional and spiritual changes that occurred. It means remembering that freedom isn't some sort of birthright. If you're not doing that, then you have, indeed, forgotten.

Friday, September 08, 2006

I am decidedly not the next American Idol

I probably could have guessed this going into the whole scenario, but...

So, yeah, today was audition day. Much to blog about. Let's get rolling.

4:30a: Am I really waking up at 4:30am to audition for American Idol?

4:45a: I am showering with a plastic bag on my left hand, lest I get my precious orange wristband wet.

5:10a: I arrive at the Target Center. Again, there is a line around the building. There is also a gigantic crowd on the other side of the building, which is perhaps part of the line. I embrace the smaller line concept, and noboddy seems to complain.

5:31a: Some overeager Fox lackeys are handing out promotional items for Fox's new lineup. We are the proud recipients of some "Standoff" mints and a "'til Death" stressball.

5:52a: The smell of bodyspray is now overpowering. Are they misting us with the stuff without my knowing it.

6:15a: I'm inside. Oh, the pandemonium. Water bottles are not allowed inside. Seroiusly? I have to ditch my Pomona College nalgene bottle. Turns out I will never see it again. "WILSOOOOOOON!"

6:35a: We are seated, some producer guy who gets way too much way for way too unimportant of a job, is begninning to direct the crowd to take their assigned seats.

6:41a: I've hear estimates of 22,000 auditioners for this go-around. If there are 22,000 people, the Target Center must seat about 55,000.

6:48a: They would like us to sing 1999 by Prince as a group song, cause this is, you know, reality television, so let's just do what the producers tell us.

6:55a: Water bottles are $3.75. Does anyone know if Aquafina was behind those thwarted London bombings?

7:20a: It's Ryan Seacrest! My God, Ryan Seacrest. I'd slit my throat now, that I might die happy, but, alas, knifes and swords are banned on the premesis.

7:30a: Seacrest is doing an intro bit in front of the crowd. A secondary, more reasonably paid producer asks a plain looking chubby girl to switch with a more attractive girl.

7:31a: A lifelong battle with bulimia is born.

7:40a: The overpaid producer is getting snippy at the people who insist on taking pictures. "Your ruining the shot, and it's really annoying me." Yep, that's California.

8:15a: After about 90 minutes of clapping and waving and being really confident that we are all, individually, the next American Idol, the overpaid producer tells us how the audition will work. Apparently, the judges are looking for originality this year. So, would that exclude the 83% or so guys who are sporting aviator sunglasses to compliment their sportcoat/jeans scenario.

8:35a: The OP is still talking.

8:50a: We are loosed. I try to find some spot to warm up, but hallways are littered with half-naked teenage girls butchering Whitney Houston and Barbara Streisand.

8:56a: Real-life conversation between mother and daughter

Mother: Why are you being like this?
Daughter: You need to stop being a bitch.
Mother: Well, maybe I should just F------ leave!
Daughter: Fine, f--- you. What the hell is in this bag? Papers?

9:02a: A number of the poppiest looking kids seem to know each other. They start talking about school, and I come to understand that there are those who are in school for this. Like, literally, a school that cultivated pop singers. Is my tax money supporting this? I must find out at once.

9:15a: Auditions begin! Essentially, 48 people are auditioned every 2 minutes. talk about a cattle call.

9:28a: Nobody has been invited back for tomorrow. The judges have just rejected the first 125 or so folks.

9:33a: Some chick wearing a sandwich board breaks the streak. I'll just hazard a wild guess that she can't sing.

9:37a: Some attractive (and fully clothed) hispanic lady is the first legit winner. This does not bode well. Am I a one in 10 talent? Yes. 1 in 20, perhaps? 1 in 200? Not so much. And I'm ugly to boot. I am wearing my spiffy American Eagle track jacket, and my professionally distressed jeans, though. Plus, I don't have aviator glasses.

9:58a: At this point, four people who don't look like they got crapped out of the retard factory have been asked to return. Each of them leaves the main floor to applause. I'm starting to feel ill about my chances.

10:05a: My section is called. It's time. This is my moment. I have my whole life riding on this.

10:15a: I am put into my group of four.

10:22a: Some dude who can barely sing, but looks like he should play bass for Jet gets through. His very expensive jeans have paid off.

10:28a: It's time to sing! I'm the last of my foursome. The other three are not good at all. That should bode well.

10:30a: I am singing, and doing it well. The moderately-powerful, possibly underpaid producer is not rolling her eyes, which is a good sign.

10:31a: No dice. Some powerless, possibly volunteerin, intern-type producer cuts my wristband. I am not the next American Idol.

10:35a: Where the @#$% is my Nalgene? Did they throw away my Nalgene? A number of people are distraught w/r/t myriad lunch boxes et al... That's a pretty damn funny little slap in the face at the end of disappointment.

10:40a: I can't wait to audition next year! I know that this is my destiny.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

I'm probably not the next American Idol

So... American Idol auditions have arrived in Minneapolis. And, well... My job is right across the street from the Target Center... So... Yeah... I'm kinda auditioning... So if I'm gonna go through all this, I've got to blog about it, yes? Here's a play by play of registration day.

Tuesday - Sept. 5

10:30 pm: I am signing the release form, a 2 page, single-spaced, 8-size font little number by which I am consenting to "potential exploitation and humiliation". Isn't that part and parcel of the audition experience, neigh the reason people watch the show?

10:35 pm: Weirdest clause in the release "Clay Aiken may, at his discretion, elect to rub the belly of any male contestant. Moisturizer will be provided at the contestant's request. Mr. Aiken, again at his own discretion, gently coo a whisper-soft version of 'somewhere out there', gently, like a young mother."

Midnight: Time for bed!

5:00 am: Am I really waking up at 5 am to register for an American Idol audition?

5:15 am: It appears that I am, in fact, doing precisely that.

5:30 am: I'm on 94, heading toward downtown. The much ballyhooed Idol gridlock has yet to materialize. The website said that lining up would begin at 6am, and no earlier. Given the general inability of our police force to, say, prevent homeless people from shooting restaurant-goers, I am somewhat skeptical as to their level of diligence in preventing eager tiniboppers from lining up.

5:52 am: My suspicions are confirmed by a line, 7 people wide, wrapping around the stadium. I take my spot behind an effeminate black fellow, who is wearing Jean Capris.

5:54 am: The smell of body spray looms large. I don't know what the Axe effect is, exactly, but right now it's inducing nausea.

5:58 am: At least one-third of the auditioners are wearing Aeropostale sweatshirts. They are like normal sweatshirts, but with one key feature... They say "Aeropostale" on them.

6:05 am: You can tell who doesn't follow instructions well by the people who are dressed to the nines just to pick up their wristband. A number of guys have cowboy hats and form-fitting, ironic t-shirts. This is the Kenny Chesney generation.

6:15 am: Some over-eager Mall of America employees are handing out free ride passes. They are attached to popsicle sticks, for no apparent reason.

6:26 am: A birth certificate is a valid second form of ID, isn't it? I'm suddenly unsure. Now, I have something to be nervous about.

6:31 am: There are a lot of parents here. Are you really the next American Idol if you can't go to the city without your mom?

6:40 am: Real conversation between a father and his daughter

Father: Did you know there is a band called Supernova
Daughter: What? No.
Father: That's pretty funny. Do you know what a Supernova is.
Daughter: Yes. It's a car isn't it?
Father: No. It's a sun that explodes far away in the galaxy.
Daughter: Yeah, but it's a car, right?

6:55 am: There are cameras everywhere. People are dodging the cameras, which is ironic.

7:02 am: Some girls are holding up a sign that says "we are the singing sisters". That's straightforward enough.

7:06 am: Uh-oh, the TV camera has spotted them. Oh, great, Fox 9 news is doing their stand up right in front of me. Watch fox this evening for a guy in a yellow shirt pretending to look disinterested.

7:09 am: One of the singing sisters is clearly better than the other two. One is prettier. Can't tell if the pretty one is also the one who sings the best, but that's gonna be be some good TV.

7:14 am: I actually recognize one of the auditioners from last year. He was one of those who are stultifyingly bad.

7:17 am: A side note on the process here. There are 12,000-15,000 auditioners. Everyone gets about 20 seconds to sing in front of one of a dozen sub-producers. Those who tickle the subproducers fancy are sent onward to sing for the real producers. This goes on for several rounds until the field is whittled to 200 people, who will perform for the big three. In other words, those really bad singers you see on TV have just been told by 10 or 15 producers that they are phenomenal. Their egos are at their absolute peak when the judges lower the axe.

7:22 am: Some guy has a black t-shirt with pink letters advertising for J.R.'s batting cages, and he clearly isn't doing it ironically. He's reading a book titled "The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing". His choice of attire clearly violates at least a good handful.

7:31 am: Upcoming show at the Target Center "Elmo Makes Music". That doesn't sound like it would be very much fun.

7:48 am: There is now a Hooters in Block E. This represents the first time a Hooters has increased the overall class of the surrounding area. I'd give even money that they share a kitchen with Bellanotte.

8:02 am: I'm getting close. What's all this jazz I'm always seeing with people in sleeping bags? Are they just props. I'm bringing a sleeping bag to my audition, just to show my dedication.

8:10 am: I receive my wristband and my ticket. I have to wear the wristband until Friday, and I am forbidden to get it wet, for some reason. For some reason, I am reminded of the scene in Garden State where the Zach Braff character wakes up with "Balls" scrawled across his forehead. I am not going to avoid mockery for this one.

8:30 am: I'm already taking heat at work. Incidentally, the general information sheet includes among its list of prohibited items "Weapons of any kind (including pocket knives and all swords)". Not some swords, mind you, all swords. So much for my Braveheart motif.

Well, that wasn't so bad. Now all I have to do is sing better than, oh, 14,872 people, and I'll have my ticket stamped to Hollywood.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Faces of Meth

This year, the Minnesota State Fair featured a jolting exhibit on the ravages of meth. Part of the exhibit juxtaposed pictures of meth addicts before and after months or years of doing meth. After seeing the exhibit, I felt spurred to use my blog for good in this issue. I did a little sleuth-work, and thought I'd post some additional faces. Clearly, meth is not a drug to be taken lightly.

For example, look at what meth has done to this poor woman:

But that's not the end to meths devastation. Famous celebrities have been afflicted.

Jennifer Aniston before

And after

Denzel Washington before

And after

Angelina Jolie before

And after

Johnny 5 before

And after

Even our own Mall of America

And now

The painful lesson is clear. Meth kills, and/or makes you ugly, which is far worse than being dead.

Friday, September 01, 2006


It's Friday people, and you know what that means. It's party time!

Yeahhhhh... Let's all party. It's gonna be fun. Just friends, and a party atmoshpere. With root beer floats.

Party favors!

Quality cinema!

And local sports programming!

Let's all party! It's time! Ditch the parents!