Sunday, January 27, 2008

When There's No Room Left in Hell, My iPod Will Walk the Earth

iPods are like women: Can't live with 'em, can't prevent them from ultimately eating your entire music collection. My old, heavy-as-a-brick iPod, which had already died and resurrected itself once a year and a half ago, bought the farm for what I fear may be the final time this evening. And this time, it appears to have taken all 2,500 of my MP3s with it.

Funny, I was just thinking earlier this week about how I really should finish backing up my music collection. I started that process a long time ago, but only got through about letter G of the alphabet before becoming quite fed up with the hassle of it all. Tonight, while I was listening to "Junior Kickstart" by the Go! Team, my iPod started doing that "zzzzz, click" thing it likes to do when it wants to be contrary. As per the usual, I attempted to break the "zzzzz, click" cycle with a force-restart. In what was probably the biggest act of consumer electronics defiance I've ever witnessed, my iPod looked at me and said:

"Force-restart, huh? Guess what, buddy. I got your force-restart right here. Select language."

Just like that, my iPod had re-formatted itself, returned to factory setting and digested all my MP3 files.

The new iPod Touch is currently selling for less than what I paid for my first iPod. Do I really want to set myself up for more audio player drama?

That wasn't a rhetorical question. Please tell me whether I want to set myself up for more audio player drama.

Friday, January 18, 2008


So I'm deeply contemplating The Goonies (as I have a tendency to do), and it suddenly hits me:

What's the deal with Stef?

The Goonies does a better-than-average job of making relatively effective use of nearly all its protagonists. Each "goonie" has his or her important role and/or time to shine during the course of their pirate treasure hunt. Mikey provides the motivation. Brand brings the muscle. Mouth translates the Spanish. Andy plays the skeleton pipe organ. Chunk frees Sloth. And Data uses the pinchers of peril to bite Joe Pantoliano right in the pantolianos.

What does Stef do?

I'm stumped. After she loses her glasses early in the film, she becomes pretty much useless. She does punch Mama Fratelli in the face toward the end of the film, but that's pretty much a throw-away gag. She also serves as a foil to Mouth, but why is Mouth the only character who has a foil? I guess it is nicely symmetrical that the wisecracking, boyish-looking girl find love interest in the wisecracking, girlish-looking boy. But in terms of the goonie adventure, Stef's got very little reason to be hanging around.

It's ridiculous. It's crazy. It's like she's babysitting, only she's not getting paid.

Even the film's theatrical trailer gives short shrift to this character. The voice-over says, "Stefanie," and we see a one-second snippet of Stef pulling a crab out of a drum full of water, but that's the only introduction we get. We get to see Data's bully blinders. We get to see Chunk break down the door of the Lighthouse Lounge. And we get to see Stef's....crab?

And that's another thing. What the hell is she doing in that scene, anyway? Is this "crab dive" a typical past-time of middle class west coast adolescents? Did she go into the barrel with the intention of getting a crab, or was she just washing her hair and OOPS, look what I found? I used to have a promotional Goonies magazine full of production stills, interviews and trivia about the movie. In that magazine, it is explained that Stef's father is a fisherman. But from only watching the film, you'd never figure that out. You'd just assume she really likes crabs.

The Goonies was the first movie I ever saw in the theater without parental supervision. As such, there are certain things about the movie I'll always forgive. I forgive that Troy is wearing red Underoos on the toilet. I forgive that Andy "can't tell if it's an A sharp or a B flat," even though the two notes are identical on a piano keyboard. And I forgive that Data speaks Chinese at the end of the movie and is subtitled, for some reason, in Chinese. But seriously.

What is the deal with Stef?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Portrait of a Badass: The Grady Girls

Characters: The Grady girls
Actors: Lisa Burns & Louise Burns
Film: The Shining (1980)
Badass Moment: The nice little girls invite Danny to play with them forever and ever.

The appearance of these two unremarkable (yet somehow dreadful) kids in Stanley Kubrick's celebrated adaptation of the Stephen King cabin fever novel ranks high among the most haunting cinematic images in history. The closet shot in The Ring, the janitor in Silent Hill, and the bathroom mirror scene in Poltergeist have all their shot at the championship, but the Grady girls (often mistakenly called the Grady twins) continue to defend their title against all comers.

The great thing about The Shining is that it wasn't so scary the first time I saw it, because the film hadn't yet taught me to be afraid of it. The second time I watched it, the dread of seeing the Grady girls again sprung out of nowhere just a second or two before their first appearance. That dread is a powerful thing; it's so strong that one of my friends from university used to "watch" the whole film with her face covered because she didn't want to be ambushed by the girls' surprise attacks.

Regardless of what viewers of The Shining think of these spooky little girls, the Grady siblings' impact on the other characters in the film is incontrovertibly devastating. Just look what they did to our poor, little protagonist Danny Torrence:

That kid's shit is in ruins. But that's only the beginning of it. Danny's trauma causes a chain reaction that reverberates through the film's entire cast. Look at these poor saps.

Grady girls, you are badasses, even if you did have to be "corrected." We salute you.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

May You Be With the Force

Guess who has a ticket to see The Police next month at the Tokyo Dome.

I do. I do.

Guess who's not embarrassed in the least to admit to being a longtime fan of The Police.

Me. Me.

When I was five years old, my parents went to see The Police on the Synchronicity Tour and I've been jealous about it ever since. I have cloudy, happy memories of goofing off in the living room while "Walking In Your Footsteps" played on the stereo. In high school, my band wanted to cover "Synchronicity II," be we gave up because Andy Summer's guitar chords turned out to be a lot harder than they sounded (besides, try as I may, I couldn't get my drums to sound anything like Stewart Copeland's, and singing Sting's high-range vocals is a one-way ticket to sprained vocal chords).

I don't care if they played dorky faux-reggae songs. I don't care if their Sting's were pretentious and trite. I was a Police kid and now I'm a Police man.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Let's Learn Japanese: Maji Ureteru

Maji ureteru is a colloquial way of saying that a product or person is in high demand. Think of it as something like "selling like hotcakes," only less hokey.

Comedian Kojima Yoshio (小島よしお)is maji ureteru. I first saw him on TV last August and his popularity has been increasing ever since. Like many Japanese comedians, his brand of "comedy" relies heavily, if not exclusively, on a single gag. In the case of Mr. Kojima, that gag is showing up in a Speedo, dancing to some techno music and then chanting "Demo sonnano kankei neh!" ("But that's beside the point!") while pantomiming that he's repeatedly punching a fallen victim. Then he strikes a really sily pose and says the nonsense word oppappii.

It's Japan, anyway.

When asked during a satirical interview what "oppappii" means, Kojima offered that it's an acronym for "Ocean Pacific Peace." I'm pretty sure he just made that up on the spot for comedic purposes, but ever since then, that's been the official explanation of the meaning of "oppappii." Japan, being the impressionable nation it is, heard his explanation and ate it up in vast quantities.

In the past thirty days, Kojima Yoshio has begun appearing in a number of TV commercials, all of which feature him doing his "thing" with little variation. One commercial substitutes his "oppappii" with "kurisupii" (crispy). You get the idea.

Due to the ippatsu gei (one-gag comedy) nature of Kojima's performance, it's likely that he will end up in the metaphorical trash bin that is the final resting place for all comedians of his ilk. See also: Sakano Dandy and Hata Yoku. Will Kojima Yoshio suffer this fate? See for yourself and hazard a guess:

click for video

The link shows a relatively early TV appearance of Mr. Kojima. More recent appearances tend to dispense with the talking and get straight to the dancing.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Accept No Imitation

EDIT (Feb. 15, 2008): Since the original posting of this entry (in which I accused We Are Not Journalists of imitating my Portrait of a Badass feature), both parties involved have made things right with a friendly link exchange. If making enemies was all I wanted to do, I'd change this blog's name to You're Stupid, You Stupid Dummy. But be warned, if someone goes and actually starts a blog called You're Stupid, You Stupid Dummy, I'll be right back on the copycat accusation warpath.