29 December 2013

Continents Ranked by How Much I Like Songs with the Name of the Continent in the Title

In an attempt to try and avoid being overly prolix and redundant even, here, without further ado (except where grammatically or stylistically necessary), are the Continents Ranked by How Much I Like Songs with the Name of the Continent in the Title.

Dishonorable Mention:
“Antartica” or “Antarctica” (according to YouTube uploader Amirthalingam Kokulan), apparently from the movie Thuppakki. Good one, Bollywood. Clearly not about the continent of Antarctica, and dead awful, apart from the hilariously overblown Segway featured throughout the video.

“Where the Streets Have No Name” by U2. I love this song, but tautologically speaking, I can’t apply it to any particular continent or spacetime coordinates.

Honorable Mention:
“Voyage to Atlantis” by The Isley Brothers. Not an actual continent, but actually the best song to join the mile low club to.

7. South America:
“South American Getaway” by Burt Bacharach. Featured in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I don’t love Burt Bacharach. I don’t hate him either. Anyway, that’s why you came in last, South America, because of ambivalence.

6. Asia
“Heat of the Moment” by Asia. I know it doesn’t have “Asia” in the title. I couldn’t find a song that did. Lots of racist songs and songs about specific countries, but no “Asia”, which is why you get this sappy, atypical prog rock turd.

5. Europe
“A Song for Europe” by Roxy Music. I hadn’t heard of this song before researching for this post (researching being drinking whisky and giving up easily), but I’m digging it. And, like Asia, there are tons of songs about specific countries and cities and landmarks in Europe, but I guess the European Union isn’t as culturally significant as they’d hope to be.

4. Antarctica
“My Antarctica” by Duran Duran. No, the song’s not technically about Antarctica. Shut up. Apart from the shitblizzard above, there aren’t many options for Antarctica. Fortunately, Duran Duran is an awesome option.

3. North America
“America” by Simon and Garfunkel. I know it only lyrically covers Saginaw, Michigan to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania and the New Jersey Turnpike, but it doesn’t specify “United States of…” in the title. Plus, if you live north of the Panama Canal and don’t like this song, you can go suck a catastrophically damaged deep sea crude oil pipeline. With your butt.

2. Australia/Australasia/Oceania
“Down Under” by Men At Work. While actually my favorite song on the list, it misses the top spot only because it doesn’t mention Australia, Australasia, or Oceania in the title.

1. Africa
“Africa” by Toto. But you already knew that, didn’t you?

17 December 2013

How to Win the War on Christmas

It’s no secret there’s a War on Christmas going on. 
People calling it “X-mas” like that’s a thing, giving gift cards as gifts like that’s a thing, saying Happy Holidays as if other so-called “holidays” are things. Boxing Day? Come on, former British empire. If you were real Americans, you’d know December 26th is Post-Christmas Christmas Shopping Day.

As Nelson Mandela probably said to Margaret Thatcher during one of their famous Othello-offs*, 
“Madge, the only thing needed for evil to succeed is for good people to let the secular socialist political correctnati get away with ruining Christmas.” 
As you well know, the true meaning of Christmas is found in the gifts the three wise men (not “magi”, that’s super pagan) brought to Jesus: gold, fake-incensed, and winning at all costs

As good Christians, we must not allow those things to be taken from us, especially the last one and the first two.

It’s time to take up arms and take back Christmas the only way true Americans solve any problem: with violence. Here are twelve tips— one for every day of Christmas— to help you with your joyhad:
  1. “X” always marks the spot. 
    It makes targeting simple. Any people or signs spouting filthy “X-mas” greetings deserve instantaneous and overwhelming annihilation delivered by any of the following means.
  2. A bayonet serves as both an infidel stabber and a gift opener. 
    You get a double kill bonus multiplier if it’s your atheist Uncle Ted and he’s trying to give you a Richard Dawkins book.
  3. Eggnog Molotov Cocktails are especially effective.
    If you love the smell of napalm in the morning, you’ll love the smell of this goopy conflagration any time of day. 
  4. Christmas lights can break if used as a garrote.
    A better choice is high-tension tinsel. If you have trouble finding it, you can make your own using shredded tin foil and piano wire.
  5. That Independence Day potato gun doubles as a Christmas yam gun.
    If anyone tries to tell you that yams are from South America and what we eat up here are really sweet potatoes, use it to blast them right in their “South America”.
  6. Glass ornaments make great grenades.
    Fill them with firecrackers, Civil War reenactment grade black powder, Mentos and Diet Coke— whatever it takes to turn these little nasties into the shrapnel they were clearly designed to be.
  7. A star is a better tree-topper than an angel.
    Specifically, a ninja star that you can grab and throw when you do the run-up-the-wall-into-a-backflip move when Aunt Judy starts talking about her thoroughly un-Christmas-sy gluten intolerance.
  8. Die Hard and Home Alone are instructional self-defense training videos.
    I cannot stress this enough. Especially for the kids.
  9. Santa gives coal to naughty people.
    This way, the authorities can’t trace the accelerant back to you after you burn down their house.
  10. Never give Legos as gifts.
    It’s counterintuitive, but you’ll want to reserve them for use as caltrops in the no-man’s land between you and anyone who even mentions a solstice.
  11. Volunteer for the Salvation Army.
    When you give them the bucket of change at the end of the day, they issue you a proportional amount of explosive ordnance. They say it’s for use against the gays, but they won’t know or care if it goes toward defending the faith from humanists, regardless of orientation.
  12. You can buy guns and ammunition at Wal-Mart.
    This is so basic, I can’t believe I have to include it on this list. They have unbeatable Christmas sales, though. Just remember to never tip your greeter.
As you go out, armed to the teeth and in manufactured-in-America fear, remember that Jesus is the Reason for the Season. Remember that you are most definitely being persecuted by awful secular people who don’t deserve to live past Epiphany. Most of all, remember that when Jesus told us to turn the other cheek, he meant theirs.

*In which the contestants must perform a soliloquy from Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Othello while playing reversi in the makeup they used in the Star Trek original series episode “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”.

22 July 2013

How Two: How To How Too

I recently took part in the Providence Improv Festival with some crazy people. It was great— good food, cool hangs, fun shows. Even some cool food (late night Haven Bros milkshake) and good hangs and really fun shows (it was hot out, so there weren't any cool shows). Some guys got tattoos.

ANYWAY, "What's the deal with meta humor?" is what I kept asking myself. I was uncomfortable hearing joke after joke in an improv show about the improv show that was happening right at that moment.

I'm talking someone sits and is driving and says some lines and their scene partner says some lines and then the first person interrupts what they're saying to point out how they're going to take the car off cruise control and use their foot because they just remembered that even though tons of people drive with cruise control all the time you have to use your foot because that's the "right" kind of object work for driving a car during an improv show.

Was that painful to read? It was painful to write. I'll be more succinct. I knew you were driving a car. It wasn't clear you knew how to steer the scene.

Worse, I was in a scene that my partner initiated about not being sure which web browser to use. Before I had a chance to respond, two other improvisers stepped off the line to start commenting on the scene as people listening in, talking about how bored they were. I packed up my tablet in my shoulder bag. I realized I forgot my pen and put that away. I fidgeted. I checked my phone. Finally, there was a pause and I said the thing I knew from the moment I sat down, that my partner was the President.

I shouldn't complain. I promised a friend I'd try harder not to. It's always good for an audience to get these little personal bits, don't you think? Helps the pathos. Hey, that wasn't fun to read either, was it?

Trust me, fellow improvisers. You don't have to save a scene that hasn't even started.

ANYWAY, what's the deal with all the meta humor? I like it, I think. I used to. I didn't like it this past weekend. Turns out it limits the art form by not allowing people to discover meaning through mistakes. It doesn't show anybody anything, it just tells them what they already saw.

Think about what meta humor does to you internally. It takes you outside the moment, outside of the group mind you and your team just built, and makes you a commentator. You're not down on the field making a play, you're up in the booth with a matching shirt and tie set you bought at Sears talking about a play someone else made. Is that where you want to be?

Think about what meta humor does to your team. You just made fun of one of them. Did you just instill them with fear that's going to keep one of their great ideas stuffed up in their head? Are they going to support your great idea (if you have one)? Or are they going to lock you in the trunk while everyone else has pizza and beer?

Think about what meta humor does to your audience. They're supposed to be poets and geniuses, and maybe they feel like they are because they know some of the conventions and follow what you're saying. But that's only because they respect the art form and like to feel connected to the performers. They feel like they're part of the in crowd. Great! Except that has nothing to do with being poets or geniuses.

Worse, if your audience, or some of them, don't know conventions, you're now talking over them. That's pretty condescending, asshole. Or, at least, confusing. But they're certainly not going to make some crazy connections the performers didn't even see because you pedantically drew attention to something they'd a) already fucking seen and b) already fucking forgotten. They're creating meaning, just let them do it.

Hey, did you see how I did three paragraphs that all started the same way? That's funny, because if you do three things, it's the magic incantation ritual for making funniness.

On a more ethereal, heady level, what'd you just do to the piece of art your team was creating? That piece of art is made up of all that stuff, you, your team, the audience, your great ideas, your teams great ideas, your audience's great ideas, and everyone's mistakes. Except you cut down all of that down to put in a parking lot.

An improv show is a pretty tough cookie, like the kind you have to dunk in milk for the entirety of watching a VHS copy of Titanic with your mom. You probably had fun. So did your team and your audience. B+ level shows will do that. But maybe nobody had the fucking most fucking fun they've ever fucking had. Almost certainly, nobody had their mind blown out of one side and then back into and then back out of the other side of their head.

I liked that cookie joke, you guys.

Commenting on something rarely ever changes, improves, flips, twists, double-spit-takes, alters, heightens, wobbles, recasts, or fucking moves anything. It just saran wraps it so we can all be like, "well, even if I want to, I'm not going to be the first one to break into this delicious looking bundt cake."

I'm not saying don't do meta humor. I'm not saying it's unfunny. I'm saying it's a thing that can make what could have been an amazing show into just a decent show. You're not going to lose ticket sales or friends over it. But you're not going to get a whole lot of new ones.

Meta humor robs potential from the show, from you, your team, and your audience. You miss a chance for new meaning to just happen on its own. Maybe it was going to smell awful. I don't know, you didn't let me check it out. But maybe it was going to smell like a banquet that would make Christmas at Hogwarts blush.

Yeah, I know that was an awkward mixed metaphor/anthropomorphism thing, but we got through it together.

ANYWAY, one more story, because those are relatable or something.

During a show at this festival, some improvisers flubbed a tag-out and didn't leave the stage smoothly as they're expected to when tagged out. So another improviser entered, tagged everyone, and when they all started actually leaving the "right" way, said, "Hey, where's everyone going?" The theme I saw before that in the show was people leaving. Yeah, it was meta humor, but it served the show, because they had a scene started about everyone always leaving this lonely guy.

And THAT is the subtle thing I hope everyone keeps in mind about meta humor. It's not bad. It's not against the rules. But it can, and usually does, take you and everyone present outside of what's happening. If you can stay inside with meta humor, go ahead and enjoy that sweet spot, like the sweet spot at the center of a cookie that's been soaking in milk for four hours (it's kind to rewind).

17 April 2013

Another Reason to Ban Gay Marriage

Opponents say gay marriage should be banned because the traditional definition of the word "marriage" is between one man and one woman. OK, but why stop there?

Let's also consider the traditional definition of the word "gay". It means "happy".

So, going with traditional definitions, banning gay marriage means banning marriage between one happy man and one happy woman. Or, banning happy marriage between one man and one woman.

Either way, this is perfectly reasonable, and would bring the marriage rate down to what, like four per year? Imagine what we'll save with that reduction of bureaucratic red tape!

So, if you like smaller government and facile pedantry, tell your elected representatives to ban gay marriage NOW!