Thursday, December 11, 2008

Over and Under Rated 2008

Over Rated

The most over rated people, places and things of 2008

Wu-Tang Clan “Reunion” Tour: Last time I checked a Wu-Tang concert did not consist of Rza, Masta Killah and U-God performing selections from the “Golden Arms” album and Inspectah Deck doing “C.R.E.A.M.” sans Rae and Meth. No offense to these guys, but a Wu show without Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface, Gza or ODB (RIP) is like watching an NFL game with scab players.

Brittany Spears being “Better”: We are so obsessed with “happy endings” and the VH1 Behind the Music story arc (meteoric rise, disastrous fall, redemption) that we refuse to believe that this chick is still insane, still a threat to her kids, still only barely passable as an entertainer and still not at all prepared to deal with reality.

Over-Specialization in training/education: This year’s sports scene was dominated by guys like Eli Manning and Michael Phelps that are basically socially retarded off the field or out of the pool (if you doubt this watch any Eli interview or Phelps on SNL). These guys were raised from the day they were born to do one thing and for the ones we hear about, this is not really a problem (the ones that succeed make enough money to never have to think about social interaction again), the problem lies with the ones that do not make it for whatever reason and end up with no skills, no education and no prospect of doing anything productive when competitive sports are over. Just something to think about when you are signing your daughter up for 37 hours of dance lessons a week or scheduling “Tommy John” surgery for your 9-year old that reminds his little league coach of “Greg Maddox, but with better mechanics.”

The War on Drugs: 20 years ago the presidential race was all about how to address this country’s drug problem, this year we elected a guy that admitted to smoking pot in the past to replace a president that got a few DUI’s, who happened to replace a president that “didn’t inhale.” We have largely thrown in the towel at the idea of not being a nation of drug-addicted (pain pills, liquor, cigarettes, “street drugs”, ant-depressants and Starbucks, to name a few) zombies. For proof of this look at the biggest stories in entertainment this year: Lil’ Wayne’s glorification of codeine abuse, Heath Ledger being out of his mind to play The Joker, numerous NFL players failing drug tests, the popularity of “Celebrity Rehab,” the public’s morbid fascination with Amy Winehouse and an international biochemistry experiment that is so epic in scale it can only be held once every four years...the Olympics. What happened to “Just Say No”?

Bonus Content: This trend started as soon as DVD’s became available, but with the expanded memory of Blu-Ray discs gaining widespread acceptance it has gotten way out of hand. After watching “The Matrix” for 3 hours you know what I don’t need? More Content.

Under Rated

The most Under rated people, places and things of 2008

The stupidity of professional athletes: Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, this stuff happened:

Chad Johnson legally changed his last name to “Ocho Cinco” I am not Hispanic and I am offended by this.

Plaxico Burress “Cheddar Bobs” himself at Latin Quarter.

Stephan Marbury gets $21M dollars after being a prick to his teammates, a bad employee to the Knicks and bankrupting

Steve & Barry’s (where will sports fans with no fashion sense and self-esteem shop now?)

Sean Avery calls his ex-girlfriend “Sloppy Seconds” in the media. This guy is just the epitome of class and refinement.

Jason Taylor picks ballroom dancing for a few grand over his multimillion dollar deal to play football for the Miami Dolphins.

Note: These are just 5 that come to mind, we could obviously talk about this for hours.

Jordan Countdown Packs: These get a lot of hate in the sneaker community because they force you to buy two pairs of Jordans (one of which, you probably won’t like). However, try finding the black/cement 3’s, black/red 4’s or white “Hare Jordan” 7’s for less than the Countdown Pack price and you will be as frustrated as Mike D’Antoni watching a team of 7th grade girls run the Princeton offense.

Malcolm Gladwell: On 2007’s “Ignorant Sh*t” Jay-Z stated he was “the greatest writer of the 21st century” and I automatically believed him (the same way I did when he said X5’s were for women and throwbacks were over). However, after reading “The Tipping Point,” “Blink” and “Outliers” it is safe to say that Gladwell can at least give Hov a run for his money.

Amount of Air Brushing (and other photo-trickery) in Magazines: They have been air brushing women to look better in men’s magazines for years, but this year it seemed to move beyond “Maxim” and “Playboy” and into women’s and fitness magazines. I saw covers of Faith Hill and Mariah Carey that looked more like cartoon characters than real people. For years women have railed against men’s magazines for presenting an unattainable standard of beauty (unless you were Jessica Rabbit or Bugs Bunny dressed up like a girl) and now they are supporting the same chicanery in media geared for them. If you buy “Shape” in order to follow the workout that Kim Kardashian used to get in shape for the cover it probably involves dropping anvils on the heads of unsuspecting people, carrying around huge boxes of ACME explosives and running off cliffs and not falling until you realize you are in mid-air.

The Entertainment Value of the Oakland Raiders: I used to like the Raiders, actually I rooted for them because I wanted a hat and Starter jacket that would make me look like the 6th member of NWA, but that is another post all together. Now they are run by a maniacal old man, have fans that wear scary Halloween costumes to every game and every time they line up for a play there is a chance the other team will pull off the most spectacular play you have ever seen, now that’s good TV.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Music 2008

’08 was a strange year for Hip-Hop, one of it’s biggest stars was exposed as a former corrections officer, another decided to stop rapping in favor of robotic singing and a third attempted to release an album with a title so offensive it was eventually released with no title at all. Declining album sales caused most labels to release less music than in years past, however these same declining album sales caused artists to tour extensively (these guys have to eat one way or the other), which created maybe the best year for live rap shows in history (for a rundown see the previous post “Live Shows 2008”). Kids continued to wear skinny jeans, trade in their Air Forces for Supras and devour “ringtone music” like there was no tomorrow, while older heads, myself included, tried to tell them that they had it all wrong (note: this is exactly the way our older friends and family looked at us and laughed when we told them how great Biggie, Wu-Tang and Mobb Deep were when they were still listening to Big Daddy Kane and LL). And through all this chaos one man dominated the year to a level we haven’t seen since 50 Cent exploded into the national spotlight half a decade ago.

I’m going to list my top 5 albums of the year with full knowledge that “the album” is a dying (arguably already dead) art form and that digital downloading, ringtones, youtube and mixtapes have made the idea of releasing a collection of songs with a coherent concept almost as obsolete as 8-Track Tapes.

FIVE: Murs-Murs For President

While it may have seemed like the underground took a year off in 2008, mainly because labels like Def Jux, Rhymesayers and Stones Throw all had limited output, underground champ Murs signed to a major, got spots on MTV during the Democratic National Convention and seemed poised to be the next big thing. While fans of this west coast MC eagerly awaited his new album and his impending crossover to the mainstream (mainly so we could tell our friends “I told you so”), the label completely dropped the ball during the last few weeks of promotion by releasing no videos and putting the slickly packaged “Murs For President” in stores the same day as T.I.’s obvious smash “Paper Trail.”

Lack of sales and promotions aside, as they should be, this record is solid from beginning to end. Murs connects with 9th Wonder for a few soul-drenched, introspective masterpieces and most of the attempts at mainstream acceptance are not that bad. There are two collaborations that feel forced (“Lookin’ Fly” with Will I Am and “Time is Now” with Snoop Dogg) however, dwelling on these two slightly flawed efforts takes away from appreciating another banger from the west coast’s best kept secret.

FOUR: The Roots-Rising Down

Hip-Hop’s best band finally release an album that captures the energy and intensity of their live shows. This was my favorite Roots album in years (maybe since 1999’s “Things Fall Apart”). The guest appearances all work, the lyrics are focused on addressing themes, as opposed to just extended freestyle sessions over live beats and the album is a testament to how powerful that “East Coast Sound” can be. The fact that this record sold poorly may be an indication that this sound is dead in today’s marketplace, but as long as people are willing to make it,I will be willing to buy (and not download) it. Also, this album was the only good thing to come out of Philadelphia in the previous 12 months.

THREE: Lupe Fiasco-The Cool

Technically released at the very end of 2007, but having most of it’s impact felt in ’08, Lupe’s second album filled that huge, gaping hole you have in your soul from listening to grown men sing about strippers and money into a machine that makes them sound like robots. From the crossover hit “Superstar” that warns of the trappings of fame to the ‘effin brilliant “Hip-Hop Saved My Life” which explains why some rappers act like buffoons, this album was awesome from intro to outro.

TWO: Nas-Untitled

Nas rebounded from 2006’s weak “Hip-Hop is Dead” with this extended study of race relations in America and the effects of the most controversial word in the English language. Standouts like “Hero,” “Sly Fox” and “Fried Chicken” expand on various themes related to racism and the effect on not only Nas, but our society has a whole. While I don’t agree with everything he says (threatening to tie up Bill O’Reilly is just silly), I applaud his ability to incorporate complex topics into songs that are still listenable. If you think Hip-Hop lost it’s social conscience and yearn for the days of BDP and Public Enemy, this record should fill some of that void.

ONE: Lil’ Wayne-Tha Carter III

The fact that this album was even tolerable, let alone a classic that sold “A Milli” copies in a week defies all logic and reason. First, Wayne built anticipation to a fever pitch by appearing on countless mixtapes, collaborations and guest appearances since Tha Carter II dropped in ’05 and made himself a superstar without releasing an album (further proof that the days of the album may have passed), there was no way he could live up to this hype. Almost nobody can, there are way more Canibus’ and Mic Geronimo’s than 50 Cents.

The album itself sounds terrible on paper: a collaboration where the guest completely outshines the main MC (Mr. Carter), cartoonish ode to riches featuring T-Pain (I Got Money), a beat that was free-styled over hundreds of times, many better than the original version(A Milli), a half-assed attempt at social commentary (Tie My Hands), possibly the worst concept song of the decade (Dr. Carter), asinine comparisons to civil rights activists (Shoot Me Down), a rambling, incoherent monologue about the justice system (Don’t Get It), a song about making love to a police officer (Mrs. Officer), a bland collaboration with adult-contemporary artist Babyface (Comfortable) and a lead single that replaces verses and hooks with auto-tuned mumbling about oral sex (Lollipop). Add in an unoriginal album cover (“Illmatic” and “Ready to Die” did this a long time ago) and the requisite cameo by Busta Rhymes and it should be a recipe for disaster...right?

Wrong!...I can’t front, I’m kind of tired of this dude by now, but there was no album I played in my car, house or iPod more than Tha Carter III this year and that’s in addition to all the times I was forced to listen to these songs on the radio. Despite all the reasons you can list not to like it, it has some undeniable quality that makes it hot. I’ll admit, most of his mixtape verses were way hotter than anything on this release (excluding “Gossip” from this album was a huge mistake), I am tired of the songs I’ve heard 5,000 times on the radio, and let’s be honest of the one million people that bought this the first week, about 8,000 of them are not Hip-Hop heads and have never heard Tha Carter 1 or 2, but, for some reason I can’t explain, I like this album.

I’m pretty sure Wayne is not the “Greatest of All Time” and I’m also sure he’s not “The Greatest Rapper Alive” as long as that other Carter is breathing, but this is a legit collection of songs and the best thing to come out of an overall weak year for Hip-Hop.

Rick Majerus’s Top-5 Instant “O”ffense songs

Five: Sheek Louch-”Good Love”

This good times anthem reminds me of summer, the song sounds like getting off Exit 82 and driving down Rt. 37 to Seaside.

Four: T.I.-”Whatever U Like”

Even though I am adamantly opposed to the ideals presented in this song, I can’t deny it’s hotness in the bar/club/party setting.

Three: T-Pain feat. Lil’ Wayne-”Cant Believe It”

Autotune? check. Mispronounced States and Cities? Check. Lil’ Wayne mumbling? Check. Somehow it works.

Two: Ray J feat. Young Berg-”Sexy Can I”

This is the best example of two marginally talented artists collaborating to make a smash since J-Lo and Ja Rule got together almost a decade ago. Also, this is the second best video Ray-J has ever made.

One: Lil’ Wayne-”Lollipop”

The hottest rapper of the year on a club track and “rapping” about oral sex, how could this not be huge?

Some Random Thoughts About Music in 2008

16 years ago Ice-T wanted to kill cops, now Lil’ Wayne wants to make love to them. I’m not saying this is evolution or devolution, I’m just saying.

Considering vets like Wu-Tang Clan, Bun B, EPMD and Scarface all put out albums better than LAX shouldn’t The Game apologize for that “You 38 and still rappin’...eww” line?

About 20 years ago the hottest MC’s in the game got together to call for peace and an end to the rampant violence in America’s inner cities, this year they got together to remind guys on the corner that they don’t have swagger like them...something I’m reasonably sure the guys on the corner already knew.

How did England (which is about 1/100th the size of the US) have one season of their equivalent of “American Idol” and come up with Leona Lewis, who is better than any person ever on our multiple seasons of the show.

It is a little ironic that at one point in the spring the hottest two songs on commercial radio where called “Silly” and “Foolish” which perfectly describes current climate in music.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Personal 2008

Some personal bests, worsts and Top 5’s from 2008:

Best New Friend: Amber De Leggas.  Technically we have known each other since 2004, when we met at Young Blowout’s First Communion, but we actually started hanging out this year.  

Previous Winners: 

2007: Don Comerica

2006: Chris Ziggler

2005: Mitch Canopus

2004: E-Mo`

2003: Jeff Vajayjay

2002: Did not make any new friends

2001: Milo Nicks

2000: Daniel Veal

1999: Lyle Mead

Best New Breakfast Food: Oatmeal with Apple Sauce.  The hot oatmeal and the cold applesauce combine to make a poor man’s apple pie a la mode (although significantly healthier).  Many people can not stand the thought of this much gruel in one bowl, but after years of consuming various kinds of slop I legitmately enjoy the varying textures and temperatures of this dish which I sometimes refer to as “Super Gruel.” 

Top 5 Nights Out:

Five: Cinco De Mayo-People got drunk and pretended to be Mexican.

Four: Fourth of July Bar Crawl-People got drunk and pretended to be patriotic.

Three: NC State vs. South Florida Football Game-People got drunk and pretended to be college football fans.

Two: St. Patrick’s Day-People got drunk and pretended to be Irish.

One: Halloween: People got drunk and pretended to be pagans. 

Best Video Games (Based on amount of time I spent playing them)

Three: Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe-I have been debating in my head who would win in a fight between Sub-Zero and The Flash since I was 14 and I finally got the chance to find out...whichever one I’m controlling!

Two: LittleBigPlanet-Some people say playing a cute platforming game with a main character named “Sack Boy” is not the way a grown man should be spending his time, these people are lame.  

One: Grand Theft Auto 4-I have been playing this since May (with some extended breaks) and I am only about 20% finished.  This is a combination of the complexity of the game and my ineptness at video games, but the first 20% of this game is better than every other game I played this year.  

Live Shows 2008

I attend a lot of live concerts. I haven’t always lived right outside of New York City and I feel the need to take full advantage of the fact that every hip-hop artist from underground backpackers to superstars in heavy rotation on MTV will eventually perform about a half hour from my house. I appreciate this luxury because when I was growing up there were no hip-hop shows (the combination of violence at late-80’s concerts, the way fans were portrayed by the media and the East/West rivalry of the mid-90’s scared most promoters away) and when hip-hop later completely crossed over into American pop culture I was living in the south and hip-hop shows came around about as often as Haley’s comet (I distinctly remember waiting with wild anticipation for Loon to do a club show in NC).  

That being said, I really enjoy concerts and watching a musician really go off or a rapper just murder a verse live is way cooler to me than watching Kobe score 81 against the Toronto Raptors or some guy run really fast around a track.  These are the five best live shows I attended this year based on the quality of the concert.  If how much fun I personally had was a factor, Darius Rucker in Raleigh, NC and Maroon 5/Counting Crows at PNC Bank Arts Center would absolutely be included, however under the stated criteria they are removed from consideration.  Also, because I am a complete Jay-Z Stan and I saw him no less than three times (twice in one week) this year, only one of his shows will be included.  

FIVE: Lupe Fiasco at Nokia Theatre (NYC) Feb. 2008

I saw Lupe open for The Roots exactly one year before this and his live show improved by leaps and bounds in the span of twelve months.  His first album was kind of slept on and he came back with a vengeance, taking full advantage of his second chance, much the way athletes get in really good shape and have monster seasons when they are about to be free agents, because third-chances (and in a lot of cases second chances) are about as common in Hip-Hop as 19-inch rims. 

He performed most of The Cool and several key track from Food & Liquor and the set included an acoustic guitar performance, all of the guests on the album and a sick freestyle over the Gorillaz’ “Feel Good Inc.”  Through a sick album and a much improved live performance Lupe Fiasco became the “Superstar” his fans always believed he could be in 2008.  (alright, that was a little corny)

FOUR: Dizzee Rascal at Webster Hall (NYC) May 2008

To promote Dizzee Rascal’s first US tour Def Jux pulled out all the stops and made this show a bona fide underground Hip-Hop extravaganza.  The show was opened by Bus Driver, whose music consists mainly of screamed lyrics mixed with distortion from holding the mic too close to the speakers (think Jimi Hendrix without being cool). Then El-P took the stage and it was on!  El Producto performed a lot of 2007’s album of the year (at least according to this blog) I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead and a few older classics from 2002’s Fantastic Damage.  One of Newark NJ’s finest, Tame One Joined him onstage for “No Kings,” but the fireworks really started when an unannounced Aesop Rock showed up and performed “Run The Numbers” and the underground classic “Almost Famous” (this song came out in 2003 and I still listen to it when I work out because of how psyched I get every time I hear it). 

After El-P shut the place down with his bananas performance Dizzee Rascal came out and held his own for his formal introduction to US Fans (he’s been famous in the UK for about a decade).  Combine this awesome show with the fact that it was in NYC’s historic Webster Hall (multiple floors of clubbin’ fun) and that I was in the merch line with Travis from  Gym Class Heroes (who seems like a cool guy) and you easily have one of the best shows of the year. 

THREE: The Roots and Gym Class Heroes at Roseland Ballroom (NYC) Oct. 2008

For a full review of what I refer to as “America’s Funnest Band” and the best live band in Hip-hop check out my blog from late October. Otherwise, just realize if you missed this tour to attend Power 105.1’s show at Continental Airlines Arena on the same night you made a grave mistake.

TWO: Glow In The Dark Tour at Madison Square Garden (NYC) May 2008

This was one of the best package tours I have ever attended.  Lupe destroyed his short but powerful set, NERD (who I don’t even really like) were energetic and engaging live performers, Riahanna (who I generally regard as a poor man’s Beyonce) solidly performed her long list of hits and brought out Chris Brown, which made the crowd lose it’s damn mind. 

Kanye West’s set included a theme of being marooned on a deserted planet and trying to get his space ship to take him back to earth.  He rocked for close to two hours, did all his hits and except for a female-sounding computer and a brief appearance by Lupe Fiasco (“Touch the Sky” closed the show), he stood on the stage alone and thoroughly entertained 20,000 people. 

ONE: Heart Of the City Tour at Madison Square Garden (NYC) May 2008

I have wanted to see Jay at the Garden since 2003 (this yearning was compounded by the fact that I have watched “Fade to Black” every 7-10 days since it was released on DVD), and it more than lived up to my expectations.  The Dream was cool, Mary J. Blige performed a great set that included an unexpected appearance by Method Man for the all-time classic “Youre All I Need” and a lighter sparking rendition of “Stay Down.”  

When Jay-Z took the stage it was pure Hip-Hop abuse (shout out to the Philly fan that introduced this term to my friend Don) as he rocked his hometown crowd with a solid mix of tracks from “American Gangster” and older classics like “Friend or Foe” and “Big Pimpin’” After appearances by Memphis Bleek and Beyonce he teased the crowd by starting many of his hits, but not actually performing them, by the time he got to the tenth or twelfth classic that he simply did not have time to perform it was  clear to everyone in attendance that if Jay was not your favorite rapper, he had more hits than your favorite rapper.

Of the three Jay-Z concerts I saw this year, it can be argued that the one in Philly with appearances by T.I. and Ludacris was actually a better show, but seeing Jay-Z in the Garden is something every music fan should do at least once in their lifetime.  

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Movies 2008

Because last year’s “Music 2007” post (on myspace) got such a rousing reaction I am going to expand my “Best/Worst of 2008” from a single essay to a series of posts examining the past year.  The first category for this retrospective is going to be movies, I am not a “big movie guy,” I often fall asleep in the theatre and drive home cursing my contact lenses, but this is the year in movies as I saw it. Also, because I don’t see many movies these are the best or worst movies I SAW, I’m sure there were better and worse, but obviously I am unqualified to comment on those, although I will anyway.

Top 5 Movies of 2008

Five: Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show- Vince Vaughn and the creepy guy from Wedding Crashers bring a bunch of young stand-up comedians on the road and film the shows and travel documentary-style.  Extremely entertaining, funny and a glimpse into the world of stand-up, absolutely one to check out. 

Four: TIE: Role Models and Four Christmases- Both of these fall into the “pretty funny” category, but they come out as a tie because of the large number of my friends and acquaintances that described them to me as either “Right up my ally” or “Exactly my sense of humor.” I am still trying to figure out why people I see everyday think my sense of humor involves Dungeon & Dragon-style role playing games, profane youngsters, recovering drug addicts, energy drinks, dysfunctional families, projectile vomiting babies, cage fighting and “happily ever after”-style endings. 

Three: Tropic Thunder-A bunch of A-list actors get together and mock Hollywood in a celebration of graphic violence and profane language and it’s actually funny.

Two: Iron Man-Marvel hit a home run with the origin story of Tony Stark becoming the armor-clad, womanizing, heavy drinking, brilliant-but-flawed Iron Man.  Robert Downy Jr. was legit as Tony Stark, Terrance Howard was acceptable (largely due to a lack of “Hustle and Flow” style hair) and Gwenath Paltrow was cool as Pepper Potts (although I personally feel that Pepa from Salt-n-Pepa would have been a better choice). Throw in sick action sequences, a cameo by Ghostface Killah and a subplot introducing the upcoming  Avengers movie and you have about as much fun as you can have for $10.  

One: The Dark Knight: Christopher Nolan finally realizes the greatness hinted at in “Batman Begins” as he portrays Batman and The Joker as two sides of the same coin.  Both hero and villain are fully realized characters and their “dance” is so expertly portrayed that the viewer is pulled into Gotham City for close to three hours without ever being bored or losing focus.  This version of Gotham City is similar to the interpretations presented in graphic novels like “The Killing Joke” and “The Long Halloween” and has almost nothing in common with the campy ’60’s TV Show or the Late-90’s Clooney/Arnold version.     

All of the action sequences are amazing, but it is truly the dialogue that separates this from other comic book movies and places it in the same category as sweeping crime epics like “The Godfather” and “Heat” or psychological thrillers like “The Silence of the Lambs” and “A Clockwork Orange.” This is the movie Batman fans had been waiting for and it delivers on all fronts.  Seeing this in IMAX was more like going to a concert than a movie as I walked out physically, mentally and emotionally drained by the experience.  

Worst 5 Movies of 2008 (you knew something had to get hated on)

Five: Forgetting Sarah Marshall-Some whiny guy breaks up with his girlfriend and it’s not funny.

Four: Semi-Pro-Will Farrell plays a clueless guy with big heart that ends up yelling a lot, sounds familiar except this time he plays basketball and it’s not funny.  

Three: You Don’t Mess With The Zohan-Adam Sandler plays a super-assassin that wants to be a hair dresser and it’s not funny. 

Two: The Happening-I did not see this because every review said it was the worst movie ever and my friends and family told me I was a jackass for even having a passing interest. 

One: Star Wars: The Clone Wars-They took arguably the coolest “universe” of the last thirty years and made an asinine kids’ movie that kid’s didn’t even like.  This was the worst movie of the summer and offered nothing to longtime fans or newcomers.  If you are thinking about seeing this you should come to your senses, watch the original trilogy and then sit there with a look of smug satisfaction on your face because you did not waste time or money on this putrid excuse for entertainment.  

Movies that I could not see based on concept alone:

Sex and the City: I wouldn’t watch this movie if it was being shown in a theatre with a free chinese buffet and the king crab legs were included. 

Hancock: I really wish The Fresh Prince would stop making idiotic blockbuster movies and go back to making idiotic family-friendly rap songs (I never thought I would say that).

The Love Guru: COME ON!

Mamma Mia: A musical about a woman that can’t identify the father of her child set to ABBA songs, sounds like a winner.

Baby Mama: This is an example of two funny people making a bad movie, for similar examples look to Ishtar, Rush Hour 3 or Blue Streak.

Yes Man: Hasn’t Jim Carey learned enough life lessons yet?

Mummy # whatever: How the hell do enough people go and see these movies to warrant this many sequels?

Speed Racer: Turning good cartoons into movies is questionable at best, turning a bad one into a major motion picture is just stupid.  


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

People That Do NOT Deserve Universal Healthcare

The issue of Universal Healthcare is constantly discussed in the United States.  After hearing both sides of the argument I am pretty sure we have two choices:

Continue to get robbed by insurance agencies, pharmaceutical companies and other parts of the medical establishment that finance the “research” that ensures most conditions are never cured, but instead creates “lifetime consumers” of the high-priced and high-profit margin medication that keeps patients alive and suffering long enough to procreate and pass the disorder onto their offspring,that will be loyal customers to the same medical establishment.  


Make everybody pay to treat conditions that are largely curable by changes in diet and lifestyle it appears we as a people  are unwilling to make (see earlier post “Donating  Your Body To Science”). 

I have no idea how we should handle this problem, in fact I don’t even have any plausible suggestions (other than we should all stop living like slobbering imbeciles with a death wish, but as we all know, that’s unrealistic). However, I am reasonably sure there are certain members of our society that do not deserve government provided health care and if my tax dollars or the time/efforts of state-funded doctors ever go to the following people we all need to re-think this idea of Universal Healthcare.  

People over 500 lbs.: If a person can’t figure out for themselves that you should not be too fat to leave your house, they do not deserve to live. Richard Simmons or Oprah cutting them out of the bedroom that they have not left since Jesse Spano messed with speed is not  a triumph of the human spirit, it’s stupid and so are people that watch it on TV.  

People involved in Backyard Wrestling: Medical professionals should not have to waste time or energy to save a kid that jumps off the roof of his parent’s duplex to drop a “People’s Elbow” on another kid so three of his friends think he’s cool.  Professional wrestlers are just that...”Professional” they are highly trained, the events are heavily choreographed and the whole show is enhanced with various kinds of theatrics, and sometimes THEY get hurt.  If you think you can imitate these massive entertainment spectacles in your yard with a trampoline and some burnt out florescent light bulbs you are not worthy of medical care.  Also, I hypothesize that there would be less incidents of this kind of injury if youtube videos of people seriously injuring themselves didn’t get millions of hits, but it’s just a theory.  

People that continue to perform activities that injure them:  If playing golf bothers your back and you continue to play you should not have state-funded back surgery and if you spend 20 years eating Thai food and buffalo wings you had to sign a waiver to get served, you do not deserve assistance paying for ulcer/heartburn medication.  If something is hurting you (especially recreational activities) stop doing it before it becomes a medical condition that ruins other aspects of your life, I am not a doctor, but I think this kind of “treatment” might be effective.

People that get injured while being Spectators a Sporting Events:  I’m not talking about people that get pelted with batteries from drunken fans or people that get beat up in the parking lot for wearing the wrong jersey, these are unfortunate events that should not occur.  The fact that most of these incidents occur in Philadelphia is further proof of what a festering sewer of humanity “The City of Brotherly Love” really is.  I am referring to people that get hit with foul balls, laid out by a 300 pound power forward trying to keep a ball in-bounds or otherwise accosted with equipment that should be on the field of play.  First of all, there are signs EVERYWHERE telling you to pay attention and that getting hit with something is a distinct possibility and you should be alert. Second, you paid good money ( and probably a lot of it) to watch this event, you should be paying attention to what is going on during the game. Third, when something is coming toward the fans everybody in the venue does a collective “ohhhhhhh” if you are so oblivious to your surroundings that you can’t here fifty thousand people warn you to duck, you do not deserve medical treatment.

Families with more than 10 Kids:  How about we don’t pump women with fertility drugs, brainwash them not to use birth control and be so subservient to their meat-head husbands to ever refuse sex, make them have more kids then they could ever possibly provide for and them celebrate this disgusting bastardization of the family unit by making all of these fools reality TV stars? 

Monday, December 1, 2008

Week in Review

“It was all good just a week ago...”


This is my first post in over ten days because I was out of town, however the events of the last week leave me with one burning question: What the hell happened? I want to take an in-depth look at some of the events of the last seven days and try to make sense of them.  

Monday 11/24/2008: Kanye West releases “808’s & Heartbreak” to mixed reviews

I’m not going to argue this is my favorite Kanye record (“The College Dropout” and “Graduation” are way more my style), or that there is a single song on here as hot as “Slow Jams” or “Gold Digger.” But the hate this album is getting from critics, fans and posters on message boards is absolutely unwarranted.  Kanye takes two very personal issues (the loss of his mother and the ending of his relationship with his fiance) and expresses pain, loss, sorrow and “Heartbreak” as he sees fit, in the way those emotions moved HIM.  The fact that just about everybody has lost a loved one and/or ended a relationship means that just about everybody should be willing to check this out and be open to how Kanye articulates those feelings.  


However, instead of being applauded for taking chances and making deeply personal and profoundly original music, he is being ridiculed for not maintaining the status quo by having a club banger featuring Lil’ Wayne as the first single.  The people that are unwilling to listen to this are the same ones that complain that all of DMX’s songs sound the same (even though they will not support any deviation from his proven formula) and then turn around and claim that “Outkast fell off when they got involved in all that spaced out S$%#.”  Commercially successful rap artists (like West) are held to a standard that is impossible to live up to: evolve musically and alienate your core audience or stagnate and watch your core fans move on to the next rapper that you influenced.  It’s a paradox that only a few (LL, Jay-Z, and possibly Kanye) have truly mastered.  


This album also brings me back to a question I have been asking for over a decade and have yet to find a satisfactory answer: Why do the best rappers decide to sing, but the bad ones never stop rhyming?  How is it possible that Lauren Hill, Andre 3000 and now Kanye West abandon rapping for singing while Chingy, Shorty Lo and Bow Wow keep spitting?

Thursday 11/27/2008: Stephan Marbury and Allen Iverson engage in unprecedented (even for them) acts of buffoonery.

Fresh off bankrupting Steve & Barry’s with his line of $15 basketball shoes (Don’t all kids want sneakers that are marketed as cheap, low quality, knock-offs of other shoes?  I have no idea how his venture ever failed!) Marbury refuses to play for the Knicks, claims his teammates abandoned him and then gets like a $20M buyout to stay away from the team.  I would like to call this guy a loser, but he just got PAID to stay away from his job, I’d say he’s the big winner in this one.  

Allen Iverson chose not to practice on Thanksgiving day, gave no explanation and will be suiting up and getting paid again after some slap-on-the-tatted-wrist.  I think this is awesome, the best way for him to endear himself to the Piston’s players and fans is to blow off events no one wants to be at in the first place.  He should not stop this at holiday practices, he should extend this action to training camp, Meet & Greets and the entire regular season unless they are playing the Lakers or Cavs.  

“Black” Friday 11/28/2008: People wait outside stores to buy products they don’t need and eventually kill a man while bum-rushing a Wal-Mart for 30% off flat screen televisions. 

I have never succumbed to the hype of “Black Friday,” the idea of getting up at like three in the morning to buy asinine products like DVD’s of mass marketed crap, electronics that will be obsolete in less then a year and assorted kitchen gadgets does not appeal to me.  Because I have never been in one of these lines, waiting in the freezing cold for some poor SOB to open the doors so I can stomp through the store, throw bows at anyone that gets in my way and get my hands on a Nintendo Wii, I can only imagine there is a lot of talk about “Dancing with the Stars,” Fantasy Football and a lot of custom ringtones going off (these lines are populated with people that can’t figure out if they want “Fergalicious” or “I Got Money” for the holiday weekend).  

This orgy of consumer culture idiocy hit a new low this year when people outside a Long Island (by far the worst island associated with the US, it should secede, and we should not try to stop them) Wal-Mart rushed in and killed an employee and injured a pregnant woman.  First of all, a lot of media outlets and people I talk with are stating that the woman did not have a miscarriage and the whole thing is being blown out of proportion...WHAT? It’s good she kept the baby, that’s inarguably a positive aspect of this otherwise incredibly sad story, however she was injured and hospitalized and the fact that the baby appears to be unharmed does not negate the fact that these people trampled a pregnant women in order to get their kid a “Tickle Me Elmo” or whatever this year’s hottest toy happens to be.  Secondly, a man died because he tried to do his job and keep the crowd of barbaric bargain hunters from killing each other on their way to the electronics department.  

I am not on some anti-capitalism nonsense either, I love sales and I have hunted rare pairs of sneakers for weeks, but never once did the idea of hurting or killing someone to get a discounted DVD player cross my mind. 

Friday 11/28/2008: Plaxico Burress “Cheddar Bobs” Himself

Heres a good idea: Let’s walk into a crowded nightclub with a loaded handgun in your pants-pocket, have a few cocktails and see what develops.  

Sunday 11/30/2008: The entire country (including myself) watch Brittany Spears be  further embarrassed by MTV.  

Everybody wants Brittany to be “better”...nope, still crazy.