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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Pure Pop Nausea: Dev & Christina Aguilera

If you've been following along, you are most likely aware that I have been consuming mass quantities of Top 40 radio lately.  To be fair, I've been doing it willingly.  It hasn't been a Zero Dark Thirty waterboarding-type deal or anything.  I've chosen the presets on my car radio with both a clear mind and a clean conscience.  I've enjoyed my descent into the depths of pop (Which I'll discuss in several upcoming blog posts.  Lucky you!), but I'm starting to feel a little sick.  Not because, for instance, I've listened to both the regular and techo-remixed versions of Maroon 5's "One More Night" within seconds of each other on more than one occasion or because the last three times I've picked my daughter up from daycare, 93.9 FM, my chosen pop delivery system, has played R. Kelly's "Ignition (Remix)," a song I actually love, but because, well, some songs are gross.  So many Top 40 songs are gross, in fact, that I feel completely justified in creating a totally new feature to discuss them.  This week I'll be looking at the inspiration for Pure Pop Nausea, as well as Christina Aguilera's ode to casual, anonymous sex.  Get out your barf bags, everybody!

"In The Dark" (Dev)


I first heard Dev's "In The Dark" on the way to meet my family at a Santa Claus meet-and-greet.  That's right.  I was traveling to a local pizza eatery to meet Santa and donate money to a good cause I can't currently remember.  If I'd allowed the lyrics, as well as the overall grimy feeling of "In The Dark," to linger with me into dinner, I'm certain I would've vomited my slice of pineapple and jalapeno pizza all over Father Christmas's beard.

Offending Lyrics

"open my body up and do some surgery": Do what now?  Can you imagine hooking up with a girl, taking her back to your place, lighting some candles, pouring some sparkling cider, and finding yourselves in the, uh-oh, bedroom, and she whispers this phrase in your ear?  Ultimate boner killer, right?  Unless you're, I don't know, Patrick Bateman.  You couldn't put something here, like, "open my shirt up and check out my boobs" or "because you're so respectful I will allow you to touch my unclothed butt," Dev?  Jumping right to the "surgery play"-- which I'm so certain is a thing that's totally gross, that I refuse to Google it--seems like an odd move.  Maybe I've just been out of the game too long.

"now that you got me, boy, you know you better spice it, flavor it, get it right, savor it": So, this is a song about cannibalism then?  What am I flavoring and for what purpose?  I should tell you, Dev, that the mixing of sex and food is my biggest turn off, followed closely by sex and jokes.  Sex and cannibalism doesn't even factor into things because obviously.

"Your Body" (Christina Aguilera)

I actually like this song, and as a fan of Christina Aguilera's "body" (nudge, nudge) of work, I also really like this video.  But, man, is this song gross.  In a lot of ways "Your Body" is grosser than "In The Dark."  Again, maybe it's just me.  I've never been an advocate of meaningless sex, never really got the appeal, but if you are one of the millions of people who do enjoy this practice on a regularly basis, more power to you.  I wouldn't suggest you go about things the way X-tina does in this particular song, but to each their herpes.

Offending Lyrics

"I don't need to know where you've been, all I need to know is you and no need for talking": That's just plain dumb, Christina.  Ms. Aguilera makes it very clear from the outset that she plans on going out and boning any and everything she comes in contact with.  There is no mention of packing any protection or asking potential suitors when their last HIV test was or anything.  Christina is looking to bang the night away, caution and vagina to the wind.

"it's true what you heard, I am a freak, I'm disturbed, so come on give me your worst": She's talking about condom-less, lube-less anal sex with a syphillitic Somalian pirate, right?  That's what I get from these lyrics.  Or is this another thinly-veiled reference to cannibalism?  When will this generation's pop stars realize cannibalism just isn't cool anymore.

A Few Words on the Video

I encourage you to watch the video, but in case you don't, I should inform you that not only does Christina hump a bunch of random dudes in it, she also kills them in increasingly surreal ways:

Guy #1 she bones in the front seat of his car, and then, while he enjoys a post-coital nap, Aguilera COVERS THE CAR IN GASOLINE AND BLOWS IT UP!?!

Guy #2 she bangs in a men's room stall and then murders him by FEMALE EJACULATING BLUE POISON ALL OVER HIM?!?

Guy #3 doesn't even get to have sex with Aguilera.  She takes him to a scummy motel, performs a suggestive dance in a skintight black dress, and smashes his head in with a baseball bat.  Oh, yeah, HIS ENTIRE BODY EXPLODES IN A PLUME OF GLITTERY, RED CONFETTI!?!

That's all we get in the video, but who knows who The Voices' Christina Aguilera will kill next?  Could it be YOU?!?!?!?  Or YOU?!?!?!

Probably not.

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sesame Street Facts (That I Just Made Up): Grover's First Day at School

A lot of people ask me, "Hey, Matt, how has your life changed since you became a father?"  Well, first of all, I'm forced to deal with poop that isn't my own on an almost daily basis.  Also, I'm now comfortable saying and writing the word "poop," a word that one year and seven months ago was as offensive to me as any and every racial slur.  And I watch a lot of Sesame Street.

I read a lot of books about Sesame Street and it's furry denizens as well.  If there is a book in existence featuring characters from Sesame Street, especially Elmo, it's probably on my daughter's bookshelf right this very minute, waiting to be read for a sixth night in a row (I'm looking at you The Fix-It Shop!).  

The truth is, I love Sesame Street.  I love the show, I love (most of) the characters, and I love the song the little Muppet girl sings about loving her hair.  I love it all, and more important, Q loves it.

These books though.  I don't know.  Some of them are fine, but most of them are garbage, and in the case of Grover's First Day at School, full of boldfaced lies.  That's right, Grover's First Day of School features one lie after another and, frankly, it makes me sick to my stomach.  Former GEP writer and current bro, Jonathan, considers many of the Sesame Street books (his own daughter is also a fan), non-canonical, which certainly explains the fallacies on display in the Grover book.

Here's a quick plot synopsis of Grover's First Day at School:  Grover is going to school for the first time.  I already have a problem with this, but since this is a simple plot synopsis, I'll come back to that.  Anyway, Grover gets to school and who are his classmates?  Well, it's a virtual Who's Who of his Sesame Street co-horts of course: Bert, Ernie, Elmo, Big Bird, Abby Cadabby, Rosita, Zoe, Cookie Monster, and Oscar the Grouch.  The gang participates in classic kindergarten activities like reading, drawing, and practicing proper classroom etiquette.  Then everybody walks home to Sesame Street, including Cookie Monster, whose backpack is filled to the brim with chocolate chip cookies.

I know what you're thinking: "That sounds lovely.  What's your problem, man?"  I'll tell you what my problem is: there is absolutely no way that half of these characters are in kindergarten.  And before you say I'm overthinking it, I should inform you that Grover's First Day at School spawned a lengthy conversation between me and my wife about Muppet ages.  That's right, my brilliant and beautiful wife is not above wasting an afternoon talking about the ages of puppets.  

I thought, before we part ways and you return to posting vague messages on your Facebook page about how your life didn't work out the way you planned or tweeting the latest hilarious memes on your Twitter feed, I'd share some of my thoughts on the proper ages of certain Muppets featured in the Grover book as kindergarteners.  That sounds fun and not like a waste of time, right?  


Proposed Age: mid-20's

The Facts: While barely researching this post, I happened across a Yahoo! Answers post in which someone named "Caren" wondered what ages each Muppet character represented.  She received only one answer, from someone named "Jonathan," who appears to have even more free-time on his hands than me since he mentions actual, conducted research, and his unnamed source revealed the Grover is allegedly supposed to be 4-years-old.  There is no way this is true!  

First, Grover is a world-traveler.  You've seen the segments where he returns from a foreign country and shows a short video about kids in that country doing something fun, like making wire cars or smothering live chickens in a wicker basket with pita bread.  How many 4-year-olds do you know that have traveled solo around the world?  Probably not that many.

Grover has also worked as a waiter, a fact not lost on "Jonathan," and an elevator operator.  If Grover is really 4-years-old, this violates all kinds of child labor laws.  And who wants a 4-year-old waiter?  You know he's probably back in the kitchen picking his nose.

Conclusion: Like any post-graduate, Grover is looking to find himself, hence the various trips overseas and the shit jobs.

The Cookie Monster

Proposed Age: 40-something

The Facts: The gruff voice indicates years of smoking; the odd speech pattern suggests minor brain damage, possibly brought on by a motorcycle accident; the non-stop ingestion of cookies indicates no parent figure telling him what to do.

Sure, Cookie Monster hangs out with Prairie Dawn a lot, but they have more of a "drunk dad / embarrassed daughter" relationship.

Conclusion: Cookie Monster has reached a point in his life when he should really start caring about his health (hence the recent switch to cookies being a "sometimes food"), but he's still a kid at heart really and the excessive eating of cookies keeps him connected to his childhood.  He's also most assuredly brain-damaged in some way.

Oscar the Grouch

Proposed Age:  57

The Facts: He's so grouchy.

Conclusion: Oscar the Grouch is an angry old man, not a kindergartener who politely raises his hand to answer questions, which he is shown doing in Grover's First Day at School.

Bert and Ernie

Proposed Ages: 34 and 32, respectively

The Facts: Bert and Ernie rent an apartment together, something two kindergarten-aged children never do.

Bert and Ernie share a bedroom, something only two men who have been friends for many, many years would feel comfortable doing.

Conclusion: Bert and Ernie are two buddies who met in college, stayed close after graduation, and are trying to make it in New York City.  They are not in kindergarten.

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

GEP's Initial Listen Report Card: Warrior

As 2012 came to a close, I admitted something very personal to the readers of the Giant Electric Penguin blog: that I enjoy the musical stylings of Ke$ha.  I struggled with the decision to reveal my darkest secret to the internet-at-large, but after long conversations with my wife, our pastor and several ancient Mayan deities I had started making blood sacrifices to in case the old Mayan-calendar-end-o-the-world-dealie was real, I decided it was time to stop keeping my enjoyment of Ke$ha to myself and live my truth.  After all, if Lance Armstrong could kinda sorta not exactly admit he'd taken performance-enhancing drugs over the course of his career, I could tell a handful of people who've stumbled across my blog accidentally that I like Ke$ha.

But how can one claim fandom and not own any of said artist's albums?  One cannot, so, one purchased the latest Ke$ha release, Warrior, with the iTunes giftcard one's parents got one for Christmas.  I had it on good authority (The A.V. Club) that Warrior wasn't too bad, so I felt good about my purchase.  But I am no sheep.  Hell no!  I don't just like stuff because The A.V. Club says it's OK to like stuff.  I mean, not all the time.  Most of the time, but that's not the point.  I'm my own man, dammit!  Right, A.V. Club?  I'm my own man, right?

In the spirit of honesty, which is the theme for GEP this 2013, I should admit that I calculated these arbitrary letter grades following 5 or 6 listens to Warrior, so the "initial listen" label is kind of (see also: totally) a lie.  That being said, let's find out if I enjoyed Warrior as much as my overlords at The A.V. Club say I should, if that's OK with them, of course.

Oh, one more thing.  Here's a special notice for "haters:"  If you don't like Ke$ha or Top 40 radio or pop music in general, I do not, for lack of a better phrase, give a flaming shit, so leave your pretentious, hackneyed comments at the proverbial door.  Or a real door.  Preferably a plane door.  And then fall out of that plane.  But also, if you don't like this sort of thing, still read on because you know I'm gonna bring the funny, ya'll!  HOLLA! AMIRITE!  OMG!!!

1. "Warrior" -- A-
Nice introduction to an album drenched in youthful debauchery.  Ke$ha makes her intentions to stand up for the nation's weirdos quite explicit in this title track.  Oddly enough there are more references to implements of murder (knives, machine guns) in "Warrior" then in "Die Young," the song Ke$ha denounced after the Sandy Hook shootings.

2. "Die Young" -- A+
This was my favorite song of 2012.  It is also the best track on the album, so, you know, if you dislike every song you've ever heard by Ke$ha, but kind of dig this one a little, just listen for it on the radio or purchase it on iTunes or rent the Cassingle or something.  You can still rent Cassingles from the library, right?  I mean, what else are you gonna do at the library?

3. "C'mon" -- C+
The second single off of Warrior, "C'mon" strictly adheres to the "Ke$ha song" blueprint: snotty raps about her body parts, catchy pop hooks about teenage jerkassery, sex talk.  Ke$ha's descriptions of drinking warm alcoholic beverages  and staying up late remind me of my younger days, but not enough to make "C'mon" feel like anything more than a bland retread.

4. "Thinking of You" -- B+
The most misogynistic Blink-182 song ever.  Snotty, hateful and taunting like any good Ke$ha song should be, made even better by the weird, Clockwork Orangey bridge thing in the middle.

5. "Crazy Kids" -- C
Why did every song last year have somebody whistling in it?  I wonder if it was the same guy on every song, like, T-Pain is the auto-tune guy or Lil Jon is the guy who yells "OK" on songs, maybe there's a whistling guy who artists are clamoring to work with.  Anyway, there's a whistle part on "Crazy Kids," but it's not annoying because the whistler just doesn't give a shit.  Other than that, "Crazy Kids" can be best describe as one part Imogen Heap to three parts Fergie, and I don't know about you, but that is way too much Fergie for me.

6. "Wherever You Are" -- A
Someone's been listening to Katy Perry.  In a gay dance club.  An enjoyable pop love song.

7. "Dirty Love" -- F
Pure garbage!  Ke$ha and Iggy Pop (?!?) duet on this tragic misstep, blatant cred-grab of a song.  When I was reading about this album on the internet, I discovered that Ke$ha has written, like, six or seven songs with Flaming Lips frontman, Wayne Coyne.  None of those songs appear on Warrior, but this hunk of shit does?  American Idol fans, be on the lookout for this year's contestant who sounds like Janis Joplin (because there is always at least one) to sing this one at some point.  Probably with Iggy Pop, who will do anything apparently.

8. "Wonderland" -- C+
Ke$ha gives Aimee Mann a try with mixed results.

9. "Only Wanna Dance With You" -- B
It's not perfect (dabbles in Pink territory in terms of subject matter, sound, and general irritating attitude), but I can see my daughter and I dancing to this one in the living room (Full disclosure: we've already danced to it in the kitchen.).  I don't like when the dude breaks in and starts crooning (Iggy Pop, is that you again?).  It reminds me of when that guy from the Sugarcubes would start interrupting Bjork halfway through a song.  I hated that!

10. "Supernatural" -- B-
Its trippy bridge and the various bleeps-n-bloops throughout give it a few extra points, but ultimately "Supernatural" is just OK.

11. "All That Matters (The Beautiful Life)" -- B
If you weren't clear by this point, Ke$ha don't give a fuck.

12. "Love Into the Light" -- C
My notes say, "Phil Collins on drums?"  That's all I wrote down.  

In summation, like Lady Gaga's The Fame, Warrior loads its front half with the best songs, leaving the back end unfocused and dull.  However, in the case of Warrior, it is very easy to assign blame for this unfortunate fact.  I'm looking at you, Mr. Pop.

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Friday, January 11, 2013

8 Historical Inaccuracies From the Film LINCOLN

2013 has been pretty great so far.  I finally beat my wife's high score in Bejeweled; I ate more sushi in one night than in the entirety of 2012 and lived through the night; I saw Marc Maron at a local comedy club and paid nearly $17.00 for a whiskey sour; the wife and I saw the motion picture Lincoln.

Speaking of Lincoln: great movie, but, man oh man, was it historically inaccurate.  We've all witness Steven Spielberg playing fast and loose with science and history in the past (Jurassic Park; Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; 1941; Schindler's List), but Lincoln was ridiculous, especially to a history buff like myself.  I made a list of these historical inaccuracies on my iPhone during the film, much to the chagrin of the old couple sitting next to me, who, if I'm not mistaken, were actually alive during Lincoln's presidency and, therefore, should have been 1-million times more offended then me, a young punk with a magic light-up phone that fits in his pocket.  It was more fear than chagrin, to be honest.  Probably looked like some sort of devilry or something to their old, cataract-stricken peepers.

Anyway, here are just a handful of the egregious historical mistakes made in the film Lincoln.

1. In the opening scene, in which he chats with Union soldiers while enjoying a 6-piece order of Chicken McNuggets,  President Lincoln is dipping said nuggets into a cup of Sweet Chili Sauce which wasn't even introduced to the McDonald's menu until the MID-1870S!

2.  Mary Todd Lincoln was undeniably crazy, but she never stalked and murdered visitors to the White House with a machete while wearing a goalie's mask like in the movie.  President Lincoln had a very strict 'No Machetes' policy in the White House, as his father was murdered by a machete, A MACHETE BRANDISHING A HANDGUN!

3. Thaddeus Stevens, played by Tommy Lee Jones, never removed his wig, as he does in the penultimate scene in Lincoln.  The real Thaddeus Stevens was unable to remove his wig as it was stuck to his head permanently by an ANCIENT INDIAN CURSE!  To even think about removing it would have invoked the wrath of Heyo-Pothwhaite, the crow god of harvest and wrath.

4. Lincoln's voice didn't sound like that!  Everyone knows Abraham Lincoln spoke in a COMICAL FRENCH ACCENT!

5. Tad Lincoln was not the precocious little moppet we see in Lincoln, oh no.  Tad spent most of his short life grounded and locked in his room for RIDING HIS SKATEBOARD through the halls of the White House and listening to his PUNK ROCK in the Oval Office.

6. Spielberg's films depict President Lincoln's love of telling stories, but contrary to the what's in the movie, most, if not all, of Lincoln's stories revolved around the LADYBOY PROSTITUTES HE ENCOUNTERED during his college graduation trip to Bangkok.

7. Alexander H Stephens, the Vice President of the Confederate States during the Civil War, played by Jackie Earle Haley, was actually JACKE EARLE HALEY HIMSELF, who accidentally time-traveled himself back to Civil War-era America during a mid-80's COKE BINGE!  (Seriously!  Look!)

8. The passing of the 13th Amendment was momentous, no doubt, but not even mentioned in the movie, and much more important some might say, was the vote that followed, when Congress decided once and for all WHERE THE BEEF WAS.  (It was, in fact, between the two buns, they agreed, just very hard to find because it was so small.)

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