Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Who's Bad (taste in art)?

A few weeks ago, I happened to be in Radio Shack.  RS had a relatively large free standing display of Michael Jackson products - posters, This Is It DVDs, and miscellaneous MJ trinkets.  I was about to walk by when my eye was caught by this monstrosity of an album cover.

Click to embiggen and see all the horrible, horrible detail

Wow, Michael Jackson in golden armor, ruffled collar, red velvet cap, monarch alighted on shoulder while being crowned by cherubs?  Wow!  I guess you are trying to say "King of Pop" or something but that isn't even saying it.  That is shouting it from a mountain into a megaphone that fed a microphone into the world's largest PA system...in the cheesiest and gayest way possible.  And the sequined glove over the heart multiplies the cheese factor by about 50%.

My first thought was "That is the worst cover I have ever seen on a bootleg" or maybe not bootleg but those crappy third party CDs of live songs that are always terrible.  Imagine my surprise when I found out that it was an official Epic Records release of unfinished Michael Jackson songs.  It looks anything but official to me.  Plus the album cover doesn't even make sense for the album...it might be ok for a greatest hits album as it shows a bunch of highlights from his career but it really makes no sense for an album of unfinished tracks.  I guess the painting was commissioned by his estate or something but man is it terrible.  I know Michael Jackson had a lot of horrible art from the Neverland Ranch auction photos and this fits in...I just can't believe someone green lit it for the album's cover.

Another example of crazy art - photo courtesy of Paulshceer flickr set.
(follow link for more egomaniac art and weird stuff from the Neverland
Ranch auction)
I actually like Michael Jackson quite a bit, but there is no way that I will ever by an album with a cover like this...and yes, I realize that I am 'judging a book by it's cover' but I spent many, many, many hours in record stores as a youth flipping through records and you often can judge a record by its cover.  The more jumbled an album cover, the worse the album hiding behind it.  The one good thing I can say about this album cover is that it is better than Pantera's debut album cover (but only a little).

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Return of Roller Derby

UPDATE - Thanks to the commentors that  pointed out mis-named the opposing team in the Your Mom bout.  It was of course the Sioux City Kornstalkers and not the Twin City Terrors.  After the bout I was talking to my friend Angie and said something like "I saw male roller derby a couple years ago when they Twin City Terrors did an exhibition bout during the intermission at an MIR bout a couple years ago."  I have a short recap here.  And then with the upcoming bout with TC Terrors being announced over the PA sytem shortly there after, somehow the opposing team that I saw that night became the Twin City Terrors in my mind within the next couple days before writing this post.  I apologize to the Twin City Terrors and everyone else for the confusion.

The Des Moines Derby Dames (D3) kicked off the new season of roller derby on Saturday.  With AHL hockey no longer in Des Moines, roller derby and Bucs hockey are my sports of choice but for some reason I haven't been able to get in to the Bucs this year.  It had seemed like a long time since the last derby bout and I was really looking forward to this bout.  The competition, the crowd, the cheering, the freak watching...everything sounded good.

I knew it was going to be a big crowd.  D3 has always drawn a good sized crowd, even their first bouts last year had a really good turnout, but for this first match they teamed up with a lot of things to guarantee a big crowd.  The new and Iowa's only men's roller derby team played before the D3 bout, and the Derby Bratz the age 7-17 team was set to provide half-time entertainment.  That's triple the derby for the money.  In addition, they also had a featured Groupon offer with two-for-one tickets (and over 800 people purchased, I believe).  The bout took place at the State Fair Grounds in the new Jacobsen Exhibition Center.  I had never been in the JEC, so I wasn't sure what to expect.

Angie and I pulled in and the parking lot was packed, there were cars all over the place...the lot was full, the streets were full, and people were starting to park in the various grass embankments.  Even worse there was a huge line of people waiting to get in.  For the most part, I think lines are a sign of poor management and I hate waiting in them.  Angie and I wasted a little bit of time hoping it would dwindle but it only got larger.  Luckily, right when we got to the line, D3 sent someone else outside to take the groupon coupons and we were able to get right in.  Love when that type of thing works out.  FYI - there ended up being over 2500 people at derby Saturday night.  It was a huge and very diverse crowd.

Taking our places trackside, we settled in to enjoy some derby.  The Des Moines men's team is named Your Mom.  I thought this was a horrible name at first.  It just sounded dumb.  That was until I heard it in action.  At the bout, it made me laugh every time the announcer had to say something like "Penalty assessed to Your Mom," or "Ooh, a bit hit by Your Mom."  I warmed up to the name quite a bit.  I am pretty sure I mentioned it before, but I am just not that in to men's roller derby.  The men's leagues are more about power than finesse.  This is why I like women's derby - big hits and aggressiveness are definitely part of the women's derby but there is also a much bigger focus on skating agility.  Watching Your Mom was OK, but it wasn't really what I was hoping to get out of derby this night.  Angie did make a valid point here...pretty much everything you read about roller derby mentions fishnet stockings - where were your fishnets guys?  Somebody needs to get comfortable with their masculinity and slap some on.  Your Mom did totally kill the competition - when we took our seats the score was 129 to 15.  I wasn't sure if that was right at first and maybe they were having scoreboard issues, but soon it became clear that Your Mom was completely shutting down the competition.  Your Mom overall just looked much better conditioned and had the endurance to skate hard the entire match, while the Terrors Kornstalkers were quickly dragging their skates.  The final score was Your Mom 375, Twin City Terrors Sioux City Kornstalkers102.  Ouch.

When the Derby Dames took the rink it was all good.  I wasn't sure if I would be into it as much as I had in the past.  I was just in one of those moods and after then men's I was just 'meh'.   The Dames however quickly got me back into the derby mood and reminded me what I liked.  Great skating, funny names, awesome jukes, hanging on by the edge of the skate, and of course big hits too.  Stella Italiana was as awesome as I remembered, scoring 15 unanswered points on the first jam.  Quick, lithe and tiny she is a joy to watch skating through the pack, and continually dominated Quad City's jammers throughout the match.  Cosmo Disco seems to have stepped up her game since last year...but feisty as ever.  Cosmo scored big points and big hits.  She ended the night with a nice bruise and rink rash on her upper thigh (and new holes in her green fishnets).  New skater Smallsbury Steak also skated and jammed with lots of heart and drive throughout the entire night.  It wasn't all offense though.  The blockers and the pivots did a great job of shutting down Quad City's jammers and forced them to take many penalties.  A shout out to all the dames...you guys skated great all night.  The bout ended D3 187 to QC 67.  Good job girls.

Already looking forward to the next match...and for Des Moines other roller derby team (the 2010 undefeated) The Mid Iowa Rollers to start their season next month.  I wish you guys would set up matches against each other or at least double header matches.  I like you both and enjoy both your bouts but a little intercity rivalry would be awesome.  It is silly to ignore the other team.  You both have such great things to offer the city, teamed together you would but unstoppable.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

You Used to Have Balls

Am I the only one that still thinks of this when someone says the word Nerf?

Seriously, as a dorky, awkward, uncoordinated kid (not much has changed) - I loved nerf balls.  Not only could you kind of play sports without getting hurt or breaking something.  Plus they just had that awesome squishy texture and that special 'nerf' smell.

Nerf used to be one of the ultimate kid-friendly companies...and now it is basically a weapon company (squishy weapons but still).  It seems like a whole lost innocence thing to me - similar when Williams/Bally decided to stop making pinball machines so that they could focus on slot machines.

Don't get me wrong, the nerf dart guns are pretty cool and I am glad that Nerf/Hasbro made a lot of money off them...but they just don't give me the same feeling of youthful playtime that the nerf footballs, soccer balls, and basketballs give to me (originally that just said 'youthful play that nerf balls gives me' but figured that could be taken as perverted).  I know that Nerf still makes balls and stuff but you never see advertising for them and I am sure it is not the first thing kids think of when they hear 'nerf'.  They are thinking blasters and darts and crossbows.

Even the logo seemed more innocent.  It just looks soft and squishy like nerf balls...now I guess it does bring to mind the nerf darts...but I don't care for it.

Nerf, I miss it when you really had balls...now you kind of seem like you are a middle-aged guy going through a crisis, bigger and better guns will make you manly and no longer the laughing stock at the playground.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Real Type of Thing Going Down

On Saturday, I attended the George Clinton and the Parliament-Funkadelic concert with Ryan and Hedda.  I am pretty sure I was mainly invited as a designated driver, but I am willing to do that.  Throw in that they bought my ticket to pay me back for shoveling their driveway and feeding their cats while they were on vacation in the Cayman Islands and it was a totally win situation for me.

I am not a huge GC & P-Funk fan.  I think they are OK, but have always enjoyed them in smaller doses than full CD or concert length.  However, I have always been somewhat curious to see him live as it is always supposed to be a great show. I was especially after his award winning* performance in Good Burger...I just didn't want to pay for it.  I was also looking forward to checking out Club 504 - a new club in the Des Moines East Village area.

Club 504
I knew there would be a lot of just jamming - of which I am not a fan.  I knew there would the would probably be a lot of marijuana smoke - of which I am not a fan (it was so strong walking inside that I almost gagged a little).  I knew there would be many utterances of the word "funk" - of which I could do without.  But still I was looking forward to the show - George Clinton is definitely now old balls (turns 70 years old this summer) so realistically there will probably be few chances for me to see him in the future.

We got to the venue about 15 minutes before the show was listed to start...but of course, the show didn't actually start for well over an hour after the listed start time (bars, you have no idea how much I hate that).  Since we had plenty of time to stand around, it was time for stoner watch.  Even though the place smelled heavily of pot, I was a little disappointed in the stoner turn out.  I thought I saw the holy triumvirate of stonerdom for a second - white-guy dreads, crocheted rastafarian hat, and old army jacket...but I was disappointed when he emerged from the shadows.  His hat was just black and not the traditional red, yellow, green, and black of a true pot head.  Even worse, he didn't even have dreads, just long hair.  In fact, I didn't see a single attendee with white-guy dreads.  It was disappointing.

Since they weren't touring as the P-Funk All-Stars, I wondered if there might be fewer people on stage...but I was wrong, the stage was always crowded.  It made Slipknot look like they have a reasonable number of members in their band.  Seriously...check out this list of P-Funk members, many are gone or moved on but quite a few are still active in the band.  I don't think the stage ever had fewer than 10 people and most times it was more like 15-20.  One of the singers even grabbed a cordless mic and came out to sing from the audience section - not in a show off way, but a get out off the crowded stage kind of way.

Since he is old balls, I didn't figure that George would be doing as much as he used to...but he did even less than I expected.  I don't even think he did the lead vocals on a single song.  He started one song, but let someone else finish (or maybe it devolved into a 20 minute jam).  Mostly, he howled now and then, told people to raise their hands, and shuffled around the stage shoving his microphone towards other members (in front of the trumpet, towards a backup singer, next to the bass amp, etc...).  One nice thing was that George was no longer wearing his multi-colored dreadlocks (I am pretty sure they were fake for the past 15 years anyways), it actually made him look better and younger.

GC and P-Funk live 02/05/2011
I was also a little surprised in the song selection.  Of course they had Give Up the Funk, Atomic Dog, (an abbreviated version of) Not Just Knee Deep, and Flashlight...but it felt like something was missing.  Although the rest of the songs might not have been as popular, they were decent, I just felt like there were songs that were missing from the set.  It took me a few days to realize that I don't know if I was missing GC and P-Funk in particular but more that I was wishing for some Sly and the Family Stone and some Bootsy Collins.

All in all, it wasn't a horrible show.  It had it's entertaining moments, it just wasn't the kind of show that was for me.  I was not one of the people, bent over at the waist, hands in the air, eyes closed, and tears streaming...but there were several of those.  Ryan was a little disappointed, he has seen P-Funk like 5 or 6 times and said this was the worst show he had seen.  It is nice to be able to say that I have seen him in concert.

*Only in my mind

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Perfect Example

You might remember a Two Minute Hate a while back about the "Free Gifts" that charities send to try to guilt you into donating more money.  I just got a perfect example from the American Diabetes Association.  I donated money to ADA a few months ago when a friend was fundraising for them.  This letter is so full of all the things that annoy me that it didn't even annoy me that much, it was more funny.

Labels!  Yes, you know the little self-adhesive return address labels...now there are twice as many inside!  Twice as many as what it doesn't really say.  But hey, double the amount of labels, I feel so lucky.  I mean after all, I tend to send about 2 letters a year (and that is a busy year). I'm probably set for life, oh what a special day.

Auto Voitures & Motorized Bicycles
Yes, the corn state...that's what you
came up with?
The labels all happen to be car, motorcycle, or license plate themed.  I suppose that is OK but I am not really a car and motorcycle type guy.  It is just one of those things that I highly doubt people think of when they think of me.  It is just not representative of who I am.  I can't see myself using these labels.

Even better, the license plate just says "Iowa The Corn State" around my name and address.  It is the most boring label that I have every seen.

I do however make an exception for the DeLorean label because it is Back to the Futurific, McFly!

But the fun didn't stop with the labels...Just check out what was printed on the outside of the envelope.  That's right mailman - Handle with care, there is an extremely important certificate inside.  You wouldn't want to damage an esteemed document like this one that is being sent to me.  Yes, a grand certificate that I can proudly display in my home or office.  Obviously, when I saw this I envisioned hanging this certificate right by my college diploma, it had to be that amazing.

I actually couldn't find the certificate when I first opened the envelope - sadness.  All I had was a letter and the sheets of labels.  No certificate.  It took me a couple days of the mess sitting on my desk to realize that, oh, the certificate is just a bigger sticker at the bottom of the label sheets...classy!  Of course I will hang... er stick this to my wall, what could show my support more?

Fancy Self Adhesive Certificate of Appreciation

As if that wasn't enough to entice me...they also included a nickel!  Free nickels for all!

Sweet!  A whole nickel for me!

Wait...what?  Why did you send it to me if you just want it back.  Now you are just wasting your money and my time.  Wasn't the $20 I donated a couple months ago a good enough sign of support?  Is my returning the nickel really going to accomplish anything?

Then this is what the letter says...

Well yeah, you keep sending nickels out to in the mail...maybe you should use those nickels for research.  Just a thought.  Let's do some calculations - approximately 300 millions Americans at a nickel apiece = $150 million a year.  According to the National Institute of Health's estimations for 2011 that would place you at about 28th highest disease research funding.  Not too bad especially considering that most items rated higher are broad categories like Aging, Vaccines, Nutritions...you are however beat by Heart Disease, Cancer, and Aids...and honestly that is probably correct.  Trust me, I feel for anyone that has diabetes...that sucks.  But the issue is that it is a very treatable disease, often through diet and lifestyle and if not that then insulin.  Diabetes is not a death sentence.  Plus, since only about 10% of the population has diabetes (which is too high I agree), your numbers are more than a little misleading.  Sure it is a nickel for every American, but when only talking about people with the disease that is $5 of research...not a huge amount but a lot more than you are claiming.

I just thought the whole thing was weird that I had just donated a couple months ago and already they are hitting me up again.  It was too soon and I thought their enticements to get me to donate were stupid.  ADA...save your money (and the money I donated) next time for the actual research.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Just a quick reminder that possibly one of the greatest* shows to hit the airwaves in our lifetime premieres tonight on cartoon network.

Eagleheart: Cartoon Network 11:59pm Eastern/10:59pm Central


*Greatness is not guaranteed but stupidity and fun are.