Category Archives: Media Studies


I just watched some of a softcore porno film in which every on-screen participant was just physically repulsive. Now, I have nothing at all against ugly people getting it on, even girls with mousy faces and hilariously fake everything, and porky guys with bad haircuts and hairy backs. In these movies, the actual appearance of the actors is not as important as it seems, thanks to lighting, cinematography, judicious editing, etc. But these folks were just hideous. I swear, they looked like Daniel Clowes drawings.

I mean, in any cast of softcore players, you’re going to get some hard faces. But for the entire company to be so downright nasty is quite remarkable, and I choose to believe that it was deliberate casting by the director. After all, the world of secret sex cults is a seedy one, and who better to convey that ugliness than the nastiest, trashiest softcore actors and actresses around?

And to think that if I had studied a little harder in my film classes in college, I could be living the dream and directing these movies myself.

Daily Hey Magic Number: 14

Fried potatoes

Tonight I saw a wonderful concert by a band called Papas Fritas. They are surely one of the best pop-rock bands of this or any era. I have seen them play live twice, and I can say that their live performances are the perfect compromise between matching the high production quality of their recordings, and the charming little things that can only happen during live shows, such as one of the members covering “What a Wonderful World” while the rest of the band scramble for a replacement bass drum pedal.

They have three albums out. They are all excellent. Buy them all.

They have sound clips on their website here. Go to!

No. It’s NOT obvious.

Digital Underground, “Humpty Dance”, second verse:

People say “Yo, Humpty, you’re really funny lookin'”
that’s all right ’cause I get things cookin’
Ya stare, ya glare, ya constantly try to compare me
but ya can’t get near me
I give ‘em more, see, and on the floor, B,
all the girls they adore me
Oh yes, ladies, I’m really bein’ sincere
’cause in a 69 my humpty nose will tickle ya rear.
My nose is big, uh-uh I’m not ashamed
Big like a pickle, I’m still gettin’ paid
I get laid by the ladies, ya know I’m in charge,
both how I’m livin’ and my nose is large
I get stoopid, I shoot an arrow like Cupid,
I use a word that don’t mean nothin’, like looptid
I sang on Doowhutchalike, and if ya missed it,
I’m the one who said just grab ‘em in the biscuits
Also told ya that I like to bite
Well, yeah, I guess it’s obvious, I also like to write.

That’s nice, Humpty. I like to write too. But in what way have you made this obvious?

Is it that you have choreographed this little dance of yours? Where you limp to the side like your leg was broken, shakin’ and twitchin’ kind of like you were smokin’? That’s not writing, son. That’s choreography.

I know that you have love for Hennessy, crackers, and licorice. And while it is no doubt true that many writers enjoy these items, no substantial connection has been made linking the two. If I am to infer you like to write from these examples, well, that’s a leap in logic I’m just not ready to take.

Perhaps you have written this rap, and that’s why it is obvious you also like to write. I submit that this does not necessarily follow. It’s possible, given the clues, that you find writing to be a real chore. You like to rhyme; you like your beats funky. The way I see it, you’d be much more at ease freestyling in front of a crowd than hunched over a table at home trying to figure out what rhymes with “Burger King bathroom”. And while an argument can be made that freestyling is in fact writing, surely it is unconventional by today’s standards; and the average listener would be hard-pressed to jump from this to the conclusion that you have a love of the craft of writing.

So, no. Not obvious at all. I recommend you amend the line to the following:

And this is somewhat notable: I also like to write.

You will thank me later.

Cat scratch boogie

Tonight, I have spent several hours watching MTV’s sister station. I refer to MTV2, the sister whose tits aren’t quite as big or perky but she more than makes up for them with style and class, as opposed to VH1, the older, fatter sister who sits around talking on the phone all day and whose friends speak in hushed tones of their worries that she will never marry.

This weekend, MTV2 has decided that it is going to show several hundred videos in the order of their beats per minute. This means that the songs start very slow, and at the end of the rotation, the songs are going very fast. They actually showed several songs per BPM count, with the count ticking up a notch every forty-five minutes or so. It was interesting to see the wide variety of songs that could be the same BPM: some hip-hop thing, some generic ’80s song, two Moby songs in a row! Just incredible. The tragedy here is that when they get around to the really fast songs, I will be at work and thus unable to engage in a dance marathon.

Which is not to say, of course, that I haven’t had my share of dance marathons recently. Just last night I experienced a fairly intense dance mania. It was non-MTV2 related, so I served as my own DJ, flipping back and forth between CDs as the urge struck me, dancing around to a song until it bored me and then switching to something else. Such events are not uncommon in my apartment, although this one was a bit longer than usual.

Generally speaking, the longer such a marathon goes, the more my cat becomes concerned for both my well-being and his own. His concern manifests itself in the form of loud mewling and impressive vertical leaps at my head. Unfortunately, last night, I decided to try to calm him down by picking him up and cradling him in my loving arms. In any other case his violent kitty emotions would have been soothed by such a measure, but you can see last night’s results for yourself:

like ow

I now have a big freaky scar on my arm. But these are the sacrifies one must make…

…in pursuit of the dance.

A flame that burns within ya

It’s peculiar, this old life.

A few years back, when I was more musically active and constantly whistling promising new melodies into my tape recorder, I stumbled across a series of notes which I was sure I had heard before. This, of course, is not uncommon for a songwriter, because you are subjected to any number of outside influences seeping into your subconscious mind. As a youngster, I wrote a song that I later discovered copied Joe Jackson’s song “Got the Time” note-for-note, and certainly I never sat down and listened to that record before I wrote the song. At most, perhaps I heard it on a mix tape in a friend’s car on the way to school in the morning, or conceivably the cover version by Anthrax. I may have heard my metalhead junior high friends singing it amongst themselves. Not until my older brother sent me a copy of the song on a tape just a couple years ago did I realize how close a match the song was. In melody and rhythm, not quality, of course.

This time around, I found the series of notes bouncing around inside my brain. I thought long and hard and although they sounded familiar, I could not place them into the context of an entire song. I figured that the tune was from a trumpet warm-up book that I used in band class in junior high, and so resigned myself to not being able to think of the song that the tune was from.

A couple nights ago, however, the song revealed itself, on, strangely enough, the HBO series “Real Sex”. There was a segment detailing some town or other that had passed an ordinance barring nudity from non-theatrical performances, and a savvy strip club’s way around that rule by putting on performances of Shakespeare in the nude. I wasn’t watching too closely, because as a wholesome, clean-cut Christian with upstanding Christian morals and a cutting Christian wit, I’m not really into that type of thing, but suddenly I took notice of a song playing non-diagetically within the segment. It was THAT song!

And what was the song? “Freedom” from the musical Shenandoah. “Freedom ain’t a state like Maine or Virginia, freedom ain’t across some county line. Freedom is a flame that burns within ya, freedom is a state of mind!” The bit I remembered was only a small part of it, and over the years I had embellished it in my brain, adding rhythmic variations and intertwining harmonies, but it was no doubt THAT song. The question remained: why the hell did I know THAT song?

There are two possible answers: either I sang it in fourth grade chorus, or my younger brother sang it in fourth grade chorus. For some reason I have a better memory of the songs my younger brother sang in fourth grade chorus, including “One” from A Chorus Line, “What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor?”, “Where Is Home?”, and, of course, “We, the Children of America” (for which the sixth grade band provided musical accompaniment).

Don’t look at me like that.

Come go ’round the world

So who wants to apply with me for a spot on the television series The Amazing Race 3? The premise of the series is that eleven teams of two people each race around the world and engage in a combination of anxious travelling and running around cool-looking ancient landmarks. Each week, the team that comes in “last” while running around the ancient landmarks is ejected from the show; and so it goes until only one team stands at the end as the Ultimate Amazing Racers.

Each team is composed of two people who have a real-life relationship, such as a mother and her daughter, or two frat buddies, or co-workers, or a gay couple, or a young, glamorous starlet in danger and the rough-around-the-edges cop assigned to protect her, or the single-minded and ruthless Inspector Javert and the object of his obsession, cunning bread-stealer Jean Valjean, or some such arrangement. They seem to find separated couples interesting, so I would like to encourage all my estranged wives from whom I have not yet obtained legal divorces to give me a call.

Going on the show seems like a nice, cheap, quick way to see the world, and the show doesn’t seem to saddle the contestants with the whole “media whore” image that shows like Survivor and Big Brother seem to do. If you’re interested, let me know soon, because the deadline’s coming up and we’ll need to make a three-minute tape. Here is a copy of the application. Let’s go kick some divorced fratboy ass!

My new current favorite record ever

don't look at me like that
Different Light by The Bangles

Pure pop heaven.

When I was in junior high, my friends, many of whom had mullets and were far cooler than I, were keen on starting a band, for which they had come up with the memorable name “Dark Nightmare”. One fellow wanted to play guitar, another wanted to play drums, another wanted to play bass. I asked if I could be the singer, but no, they already had the singing covered. I said, “Well, can’t there be more than one singer? Can’t different people sing on different songs?” No, I was told. “Why not?”

“Because we don’t want to be like the Bangles!”

Heaven forbid!