July 18, 2006

Hump my dump, you lumpy slumby dump

Filed under: Music — tomemos @ 3:46 pm

The other night, a few of us were in a bar in Costa Mesa, having a decent time. It was a little bit of a dive bar, and a bit over-warm, but there was a secluded corner and the drinks were cheap. (Plus it was the fourth place we had tried; of the other three, one was smelly, one was way too crowded and had loud live music, and one was not a bar at all but a café, with no alcohol.) Someone had ordered pitchers for the house and we were two-thirds of the way through ours, when “My Humps” by the Black-Eyed Peas came on. Within thirty seconds, we had gathered our things and abandoned the remainder our pitcher and were on our way out to a donut shop. “My Humps” drove us out of a bar.

With bad pop culture, the safest thing is just to piss and moan when it comes on and otherwise keep it out of your head by consuming good pop culture. But this song is a cultural phenomenon, one that I think warrants extended, painful consideration. First of all, it’s amazing to consider how utter the consensus is on this song, at least among people I know. You hear a lot of opinions from my friends and acquaintances, and not all of them are pretty. I’ve heard people defend “My Heart Will Go On,” “I’ll Be Missing You,” “This Kiss,” and any number of bad disco songs and showtunes. I myself have defended the likes of Rod Stewart, Neil Diamond, Meat Loaf, and Andrew W.K. But I have never met anyone who had anything good to say about “My Humps.” So since we’re all thinking it, I’m going to come out and say it:

I believe that “My Humps” is the worst pop song of all time.

I really mean it: the very worst. Worse than anything by Herman’s Hermits or Alanis Morrisette or Foreigner or Boyz II Men. (Note that all of the aforementioned bands have at least one good song; I’m just making a point.) Any of us can bring to mind any number of songs we hate for any number of reasons, but you really can’t match “My Humps” for sheer awfulness, not even wtih a previous Black-Eyed Peas song. Even something truly horrible like “Who Let the Dogs Out?” doesn’t do as many things wrong as “My Humps”; to whit:

–Repellingly dumb lyrics: Whenever I hear the song, I get that special kind of headache, also found when watching bad kid’s movies, that says “I am getting dumber just experiencing this.” “Lovely lady lumps” gets the blue ribbon for this, managing to be creatively stupid and gross, a whole new world of stupid and gross that no one ever thought of before, but it doesn’t end there: “all that ass inside them jeans”? At least “junk” and “trunk” rhyme, for God’s sake.

–Dumb instrumentation: Not much to be said here, except that the drum machine and synth are so lazy that it could be almost anything…but no. You know it’s “My Humps.” And that’s worse.

–Offensive to Berkeley sensibilities: See “lovely lady lumps” above. Also, was the world crying out for another song about how women can and should use sex to get men to buy them expensive name-brand merchandise?

–Ubiquity: To date I have heard this song at a roller-skating rink, a dive bar, and a vaguely classy bar/club with a dance floor and a DJ. Not only is it played everywhere, in the bar that night it came on on the jukebox, which must mean that someone paid money to subject us all to it.

–Catchiness: Catchiness is the great double-edged sword of pop music: the same qualities that keep good songs running through your head also make bad ones inescapable. I won’t soon forget the torture of lying awake of stomach problems in a hostel in France, unable to get Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” out of my head (a song which I later came to love, by the way), but it’s nothing to the torture of writing this entry, where just the act of thinking about the song makes me hear “Dolce and Ga-bann-a” and “She’s got me spennn..ding..” like a mosquito bite in my brain. I only hope I’ve given you a fraction of that suffering.


July 11, 2006

…But the damage is irreversible

Filed under: Laws and Sausages — tomemos @ 11:06 pm

None of this is my invention or discovery, but it’s too good not to share:

The most recent published list of White House staffer salaries include figures for what Think Progress has called the four most overpaid White House staffers:

–Two Ethics Advisors, being paid $114k and 106k, respectively;

–A Director of Fact Checking ($46k); and,

–A Director of Lessons Learned ($106k).

First of all, Director of Lessons Learned is too good to be real (and yet it’s absolutely real). I imagine that he outranks the Director of Winning Not Being Everything, though he and the Minister of Just Say You’re Sorry and We’ll Forget All About It must have some brutal power struggles.

Let’s keep going with this, actually; I’d like to see an entire government made up of parental clichés. The Honesty is the Best Policymakers! The Department of The Important Thing is Your Health & Human Services!

Second, note that the Director of Fact Checking makes less than half of either of the Ethics Advisors (to say nothing, I’m sure, of the Ethics Director). Two things occur: one, the lack of resources allocated to fact checking explains a lot, and two, the Administration could really be getting a better return on its Ethics investment.

Actually, the funniest thing written on this (apart from the report itself) was a comment by one “ohdave” on the Think Progress site:

WH staff meeting:

Let’s move on to Ethics. What do you have?


That’s 876 days in a row!

Correct sir.

Great. Lessons learned?

Still nothing sir. If we ever learn a lesson I’ll let you know. Yesterday I thought we learned one but turned out to be another false alarm.


No facts to check sir. I keep checking my inbox. Is my email working?

Well, we just don’t use a lot of facts around here that need checking. OK, before we get to the Director of Making Shit Up, let’s take a break. You know how he goes on and on…

July 9, 2006

Inventing situations

Filed under: Film and Video — tomemos @ 10:17 pm

So while waiting in line to see Pirates of the Caribbean 2 (my 2 cents: eh), we were looking at movie posters through the window of the theater lobby. We saw the poster for Snakes on a Plane (which I think would make a great tattoo), which was exciting, and then we saw something bizarre and frightening: next to the other movie posters, with a “Coming Soon” over it and everything, was a “Kellogg’s Rice Krispies” poster, with the usual image: big bowl of cereal, with Snap, Crackle, and Pop doing their jolly elf thing.

And I thought, Holy shit. They’re making a Rice Krispies movie.

I’ll ruin the suspense and say that, as far as our research can tell, they’re not. IMDB doesn’t have anything, and neither does Google. After the movie, someone more level-headed than myself pointed out that the poster had no information about the “film’s” release–no “Summer 2007,” no “,” nothing like that. But I think the fact that I even considered it as a possibility–that I actually started to imagine the animated adventures of Pop, Snap, and the androgynous Crackle–gives some sign of how far I’ve been driven by our insane entertainment industry. I mean, once you’ve accepted that they’ve genuinely made Garfield 2: A Tale of Two Kitties, apparently with the expectation that people will see it, you don’t have much disbelief to suspend.

Plus, even if it’s not a movie, the poster raises more questions than it answers. (The only question it answers is “Rice Krispies?”) I mean, why were they advertising cereal in the movie theater? Why did the poster have “Coming Soon” above it? Did they intend for us to think that they were making a Rice Krispies movie, or was it just a convenient place to put that advertising Kellogg’s paid for? And again: cereal, in the movie theater? That’s like the one kind of food you can’t buy in a theater.

July 2, 2006

Go Prose! Beat Poetry!

Filed under: Literati and Cognoscenti — tomemos @ 10:53 pm

True Tales of Tomemos Cleverness, Volume N: Tonight I was out playing Apples to Apples at a friend’s house, and an acquaintance came in wearing a clever t-shirt. It had a picture of Shakespeare’s face, and below it the text said “Prose before hoes.” I couldn’t read it clearly at first, so I asked, “Hey, Alex, what does your shirt say?”

“It says ‘Prose before hoes,'” Alex said.

“That’s funny,” I said. “Because Shakespeare wrote almost no prose. Everything he wrote was poetry and drama.”

You might expect that the general reaction to this was silent looks of incredulous annoyance. But no, the entire room burst into laughter and cries of “Good point!” Alex’s reaction, fairly enough, was, “I hate graduate students.” And who wouldn’t?

By the way, while we’re on the topic of my cleverness, my best Apples to Apples win that night (and maybe ever) was on the adjective “Confused.” I won it by playing a card that, I said, was the very embodiment of confusion. The card was “Confucius.”

(Title courtesy of Dutch Missionary Records.)

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