Jon's Entertainment Smorgasbord
posted by Jon on 4/29/03
One could argue that W-D's only conceivable weakness is that the content frequency isn't as high as it could be. After all, we haven't posted an article in two weeks. I don't know what excuses the rest of the Whatever-Squad
is using, but speaking for myself, I participated in Fouff's anti-war walkout and just sort of never came back. Fortunately, I was able to make up for the paychecks I would have earned at Whatever-Dude by snatching lonely old peoples' household pets and holding them for ransom. The way I figure it, it's a win-win situation: I get money, and they get a great companion that will be with them for the rest of their frighteningly short lives.
That sort of work just isn't steady, though, since most of the old people around here are hearing-impaired and mistake my ransom demand for a telegram from a long-dead spouse. Then they'll start yelling, "OH GRACE, I KNEW YOU WERE ALIVE!" and sobbing, which sucks, because nothing looks more disgusting than a crying old person.
So I figured I'd better get cranking with some articles if I'm going to get a decent paycheck. But what to write on? I was desperate. I was feeling lazy and without a strong work ethic. There was only one possibility: an Entertainment Smorgasbord.
It's been at least a year since anyone's tried one of these on W-D. Pioneered by the late, great Dave Macchia (God rest his witty soul), Entertainment Smorgasbords are rambling, incohesive collections of skit-like pieces that (hopefully) make for some entertainment.
So have fun, and away you go!
But before you do, please stay for a while and give this a read.
ITEM #1: THE STATE OF INDIANA
This state sucks.
They call it the Crossroads of America, and for good reason. Nobody in their right mind would want to stay in this godforsaken chunk of land any longer than they absolutely have to.
A few days ago, I ventured north from my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky to visit a friend up at Purdue University. Now, I'm pretty sure that Indiana's transportation department is headed by a bunch of crack-addled, no-armed chimps with a procrastination problem. The ten-mile stretch of I-65 in southern Indiana that greets motorists who cross over from Kentucky has been "under construction" for at least five years, but it seems as though they re-routed the shit out of the interstate, dug a bunch of random holes around it, set up dozens of pointless flashing lights, and then just sort of quit. Tire-sized lines are indented into the pavement and positioned in such a way that if your tire sets in one of them, you'll end up on the shoulder. Which is unfortunate, since the shoulder is about six inches wide. The roads are closely walled in by huge concrete dividers, and as a result you get less space than Neil Armstrong, whose Moon landing was FAKED!!1
Nice try, Fakey McGee.
To make things more fun, the interstate's blueprints seem to have been confused with one of those Sunday morning Family Circus cartoons that chronicles Billy's movements throughout a typical Saturday. At more than one point, the road suddenly shifts to the right or left, and by the end you're expecting to drive through Mother's flower garden or the grumpy next-door neighbor's backyard. This sometimes results into a car wreck or two, and since there's no shoulder to pull off to, traffic is deadlocked.
What really seems to make Indiana infamous, though, is its refusal to switch to Daylight Savings time. While the rest of the region is an hour ahead, a large chunk of Indiana refuses to switch. Time is a precious asset, and life's Great Complication. So why complicate it further? If confusion is what they're after, perhaps in the future we'll see Indiana maps drawn upside-down that declare the North Pole to be the South Pole.
Looks like a silhouette of someone's half-assed attempt to shove a Christmas tree into a cardboard box. I think it's appropriate. Like most of the shit that goes on in Indiana, it's not done right, and you're not really sure why they bother in the first place.
Boiskov (10:59:40 AM): What do you think about me writing an Entertainment Smorgasbord?
SmarterChild (10:59:41 AM): I don't have particularly strong feelings either way.
ITEM #2: CONSUMER SUPERFICIALITY IN MUSIC
Many of you can't stand Linkin Park. Which is a shame.
Linkin Park is quite possibly the savior of the rap-rock genre. While most others have manage to slip into mediocrity, Linkin Park breathes fresh breath into the scene with its uncharacteristic focus on musical quality. As a result, they have become one of the most recognized and best-selling bands in America.
When success comes, however, critics inevitably follow, and in Linkin Park's case, it seems that everyone's a critic. Their favorite tactic seems to be to exploit the fact that they were partially assembled by a recording company, rather than started in a garage.
This is what angers me more than almost anything else in the music industry. People like to rip on artists' credibility based on things other than the music itself. They'll talk all day about how Linkin Park was manufactured and ushered to stardom by the music industry. Perhaps so, perhaps not. My question is: why does it matter?
This phenomenon seems to work the other way as well. Take 50 Cent, for example.
You kidnapped old Mrs. Higgins' dachsund, didn't you? Damn it, I knew I should have hit up that house.
In my opinion, most of 50 Cent's music sounds like shit. And I'm not saying that because I hate/don't understand rap; on the contrary, I'm a rap fan. You'll often find me at rap concerts waving around the big big foam hand that reads, "GO RAP #1".
50 sounds like someone just stabbed him in the base of the skull with a syringe full of elephant tranquilizer. Though his raps are sometimes clever, he doesn't deliver them with any sort of energy. Yet he's the hottest new act in rap, because he's got "street cred". You see, 50 got shot. He's a real life gangster. Therefore, he's "hot" or "tight" or "oh snap" or whatever else the kids call him these days. What the hell should you care for? Are you running around with him, having gangsta escapades, or are you just listening to his music?
Don't you dare call your next CD "Gangsta Escapades". Don't you even fucking dare.
For years, people have talked about music being all about image, and unfortunately, it looks like it's really coming true. People don't take music for what it's worth; they first decide whether the artist or artists suit their taste. It's bringing me one step closer to the edge.
And I'm about to break.
I work for RadioShack. The other day, I saw a company newsletter that advertised their celebrity spokespeople for the coming year. The usual high-dollar standbys were there -- Shaq, Vanessa Williams, Ving Rhames, Daisy Fuentes. It's rather obvious that this marketing strategy is the reason my hourly wages are a dollar per hour lower than they should be.
They added several more people, apparently: Britney Spears, George W. Bush, Jeff Gordon --
Yep. I just said George W. Bush. PRESIDENT George W. Bush, I swear to God. I don't really know what this means, but I'm a little frightened. Is this even legal?
ITEM #3: WHAT'S UP WITH ALL THOSE WILD/WACKY REALITY SHOWS?
I want reality shows to go away. Though I think most of them are stupid as hell, this isn't the main reason I want them to go. I'm just hoping that if they leave, all those stupid assholes that like to crack jokes about reality shows will shut the hell up.
They're the people at work who hear about layoffs and say, "Uh-oh! SOMEBODY'S getting voted off the island!" They're the guy at the party who waits for someone to leave, and say, "Uh-oh! You just got voted off the island!" They're the annoying chick that sees someone who looks a little down and says, "Hey, who voted YOU off the island?"
I hate pop-culture cliches in general, but I'd really like to see this one bite the dust. Reality TV shows are worth poking a little fun at, sure, but how long have they been in the public consciousness? Two years, maybe more? The horse carcass has rotted long ago; they're now beating the skeletal remains into the ground.
Some of the more grotesque commissions:
Kathy's So-Called Reality. Hosted by Kathy Griffin, this show aired on MTV and was one of the earlier attempts to poke fun at reality programming. Problem is, it was at least three times worse than any reality show I've ever seen. They should have made the show funny, or failing that, made the host clever, or failing that, made the host attractive in any sense of the word.
A fair representation of this show: one of the spoofs, entitled "Temptation Bowling Alley." Kathy went to a bowling alley on Seniors Night, got a couple of old people together and asked them if they wanted to make out with each other. One couldn't hear her; the other just sort of smiled nervously and looked away. And since it was right after Jackass, I managed to get at least two or three episodes on tape. Fan-fucking-tastic. I can honestly say that it just might be the worst show I've ever seen.
The pre-movie reminders at my local theater.
Yep, they've managed to lower the standards of the most worthless media venue imaginable, the same one that's home to the Wild Thornberries Movie trivia slides that read, "DID YOU KNOW? WATCH THE WILD THORNBERRIES MOVIE!", and the misadventures of the Stryker Family. In case you're unfamiliar with the Strykers, they're a secret-agent family that uses high-tech equipment to purchase movie tickets.
FUN BIT OF TRIVIA WHICH A FRIEND OF MINE POINTED OUT: There are two Stryker Family shorts. In the first one, one of the kids trips and falls while running to the box office, and the mom yells, "Leave him!" In the next one, he's not in the script, as he was presumably run over by oncoming traffic or devoured by alligators.
Anyway...the "no smoking/talking/cellphone" pre-movie presentation was once a trippy sequence of cigarettes flying through the "O" in a giant "NO SMOKING" that was hovering over a futuristic city with flying bumper cars made of flourescent halogen lights. These days are gone, as these undoubtedly drug-induced sequences are replaced with a presentation called "SURVIVOR: THE MOVIES". It shows various clips from the show and issues warnings such as, "If your cell phone rings, you may be voted out!", "If you bring exotic snacks into the theater, you may be voted out!", and "If you try to smoke in the theater, you may be voted out!" And of course, motherfuckers keep laughing at it. Next time I'm just going to stand up on my seat and yell, "CAN'T YOU SEE?!? YOU'RE FEEDING THE BEAST! STOP FEEDING THE BEAST! IT WANTS YOUR SOUL!!!" until they kick me out or CBS decides to stop playing it, whichever comes first.
Yep. First, reality shows were annoying. Next, people who made fun of reality shows were annoying. And now I'm making fun of people who make fun of reality shows, so it's only a matter of time before I grow abrasively annoying. If it hasn't happened already, that is.
Boiskov (3:56:59 AM): I finished my article. Would you like to read it?
SmarterChild (3:56:59 AM): I'm not totally sure.
Well, that just about drives a fork into it. Have a safe drive home. If you liked what you read, let me know; if you didn't, then feel free to e-mail me for a full refund, you asshole.