Friday, January 29, 2010

barn nun

The Verlaines video for "Bird Dog" has everything I could hope for in a short film: dogs, barnyard animals, animation, claymation (of poison throwing up, no less!), a cat, The Verlaines briefly playing "Red Light Green Light" in a pasture, music from a Flying Nun band...the works.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

brake for foxes

Why does the hound look so worried in this film still? Maybe because he just read this article on

Frisky Foxes Sabotaging Drivers
Over the course of eight months, nine cars in Kent, England, had their brake lines cut. A special police team got together to investigate the crimes, thinking the group of vandals responsible was going to cause someone serious harm if the trend continued.

The team started out watching CCTV footage of the community, investigating the cut brake lines and reading reports of the incidents. When the officers visited an expert in biological sciences at Bristol University, though, they were quite surprised by his analysis — the vandals were actually foxes who had developed a taste for brake fluid.

“This series of incidents was quite understandably causing anxiety to people living in the area and we are pleased to be able to find an innocent explanation for the cause of the damage,” said Sergeant George Blair, the head of the investigation unit.

I love fairy tale endings.

Rest easy, motor car drivers and deerstalker-hat-wearing detectives of Kent, England! No hooligans, vandals, or meddling marauders to be found in your county. Simply a case of hop garden variety foxes who developed a taste for glycol-ether based hydraulic fluids. *Phew*. (Crossing wellington-booted legs and putting feet on coffee table.)


Sunday, January 24, 2010

when the saints go marching to the superbowl

As a fan of Buddy Ryan and his pro football progeny, I was so sad to see the Jets lose today.

The Saints sealing a trip to their first Superbowl with a masterful overtime field goal, however? I'm totally smiling and all choked up.

I especially loved the sight of the football soaring through the uprights with Saints' mascot Gumbo the Dog jumping up and down behind the end zone.

name game

The New Jersey Nets have been on my mind. If they ever do actually relocate to Brooklyn, will they forgo their ABA appellation and opt for something with more attack? A recent Bill Simmons podcast posits it's not often you run across a sports team named after a piece of sports equipment. This comment spurred me on to the ABA Wikipedia page and subsequent scrutiny of originally ABA team names.

Let's be honest people, a lot of the names on that roster are totally phoned in. The Oakland Americans who became the Oakland Oaks? The Memphis Pros? The Floridians? The San Diego Sails? I have a hunch the Christening of these teams resembled the episode of the Brady Bunch when Cindy Brady fibs to her family, claiming she has a steady boyfriend. When pressed for his name she searchingly answers, "Um.... George...." [Frantically scans the room. Locks eyes on the water glass in front of her.] GLASS. George Glass." Which makes me think of the equally absurd Hail Mary name moment in A Fish Called Wanda when Otto (Kevin Kline) introduces himself to Archie Leach (John Cleese) as a CIA agent "Harvey Manfren... jen...sen."

It's essentially like me walking into a 1967 ABA meeting and saying, "Gentlemen. The next addition to our growing league will be in Idaho. They will be called, um, The Yes, The Boise Boys Basketball Players."

I think a lot about team names. I think my formative team sport experience mandates it.

In second grade I joined AYSO's "co-ed" (read: one girl per team) soccer league. Most of my classmates joined the season prior and returned from their first team meetings all a flutter about their flinty titles and splashy team colors.

Classmate one: We're the Golden Eagles! We're bright yellow and white!
Classmate two: Well we're the Blue Devils! We're royal blue and black!

I looked completely forward to my own bragging session. When I attended my initial meeting, however, our coach—the gentle, amiable South African father of one of my schoolmates—slide tackled us with the following opening statement: "Welcome to the 1982 fall season of AYSO soccer. I am Coach Eric. You, boys and girl, will be known as: THE ZULU WARRIORS, named after a very important South African people. Your colors are grey and black."

The room of seven year olds fell cricket-chirping silent.


The next day at school I didn't even know HOW to talk about what happened because I felt completely confused. I couldn't even ask questions about it because I didn't know any of the questions to ask. I knew I had my hopes pinned on being called The Red Arrows. That's where the ball stopped rolling.

Our first practice we felt further befuddled when informed we would sing the following team chant before and after every scrimmage and game:

Hold 'em dooooown, ya Zulu Warriors!
Hold 'em dooooown , ya Zulu Chief-Chief-Chief Chief
Hoi da zumba zumba, hoi da zumba zumba zee
Hoi da zumba zumba, hoi da zumba zumba ZEE!

Recounting this memory, I completely grasp it was a totally exceptional experience and relish every dimension of it. As a tiny second grade girl dressed like a newspaper I wasn't so optimistic.

We definitely caused a stir the moment we set foot on Chicago Park District's Margate Park Field and kicked off with our pregame cheer. The parents proudly smiled. The opposing team stared at our singing huddle, totally perplexed. After we were summarily demolished—most likely by double digit goals—and gathered round for the encore performance of our team anthem, our adversaries were full-on giggling like crazy at us. That set the tone for the season: Lose once, chant twice, always be laughed at by all other second graders every Saturday.

Coach Eric was ever patient, always enthusiastic, never fazed by looks askance, never doubting we were champions, and always so proud of each one of us as we completely sucked throughout the season. I like to think of him as the Rex Ryan of 1982. Except we never won games, and never advanced to a championship. He was just happy we were there. And honestly, his enthusiasm was totally contagious. The more we lost and the more we were misunderstood, the more our own team pride anchored. I still have my end-of-the-season award: A giant button stating "MOST ENTHUSIASTIC PLAYER: JULIA RYDHOLM, ZULU WARRIOR."

If the Nets do make it to Brooklyn, they could use some sure-footed counsel from Coach Eric. One thing's completely certain: His selection for the new team sobriquet would assuredly be a slam dunk.

Friday, January 22, 2010

snack attack

This article on underage noshing was pretty milk and water. However, amidst the angst of neurotic parents over-catering to the moody palates and temperaments of ticking time-bomb moppets, Chicago dad Sean O'Neill busts out and makes it worth the read with his grittier, curveball view of overfeeding:

“It has all just gotten out of hand,” said Sean O’Neill, an illustrator and father of two in Chicago. Mr. O’Neill wonders why snacks must be served at every sporting event, even those taking place at 10 a.m. or an hour before lunch. 

“The kids are playing baseball, they are covered in Chicago Park District dirt and then they eat a handful of fruit bites,” he said. “It’s pretty disgusting.”

That really cracked me up.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

power play

The most recent attempt to add a little more show biz razzle-dazzle to Alaska-Fairbanks' hockey team entrance is...remarkable:

I'm so confused. Probably because my mind just melted. Or rather, was severed in half with a glowing hockey stick Excalibur sword, shot at with missiles, and then TOTALLY BLOWN UP with awesome flames and "KKKRRRRPSHHHHHHHHHHHH*&%$!!!!!!!!" (My attempt at typing third grade explosion noises.)

Welcome to the video that officially completes my "Overstimulation Hell Ride Visual Experience That Threatens to Land Me in a Hospital Due to a Category 5 Panic Attack" Troika.

"2012" and "Avatar": You are in good company.

I thought mascots where supposed to shadow box and dance. You know, "Root for the home team! Yay!!" [jump-jump-shadow box-shadow-box-shadow box] [Air conducting "LET'S. GO. BEARS."]

The Nanooks bear is a complete criminal. And a full blown arsonist. And, frankly, doesn't totally seem to understand the rules of hockey. First he uses a hockey stick to sever a gigantic barge in half, not to shoot at a goal. Then he jettisons the stick, because what he really loves to do is FLY. So he gets in a fighter jet and heads directly to Miami University and Michigan State to obliterate their campuses, and only THEN is it time to drop a bomb in a volcano. Which is the key to detonating three volcanoes. Which apparently is the secret to completely exploding planet earth.

Why does the Alaska-Fairbanks hockey program want their mascot to destroy earth? Isn't he just supposed to encourage them to win hockey games? Well, apparently he can do that too, because as it happens, though earth is now a faint memory, the Carlson Center (the Nanooks' arena) REMAINS INTACT on a meteorite in space!!

To be honest, the Polar Bear's journey to the Carlson Center, and the feeling of traveling to a game in deep space with twinkling lights dotting the scenery reminds me of the drive to see the NJ Nets play at Izod Stadium. That commute feels like taking an international flight. Or, you know, like driving from Manhattan to outer space.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

desert island election

On the not-as-infrequent-as-I'd-imagine occasions that someone inquires, "You play music? Ooh, what is your Desert Island Music?!" my reaction is as predictable as the tides: My eyes glaze over and my face slackens into screen-saver mode. For me, that question triggers the same response as listening to someone recite their dream from last night, or trying to shop for groceries without a list: My mind draws a complete blank. I lose the plot. I can hear the ocean in my head. Also, I suddenly don't care about anything. I just feel a wave of "get me out of here"—out of the island, the other person's subconscious, the grocery store, and my own anxiety dream where I am center stage, in a spotlight, and where a voice from the sea of empty seats in a blacked-out auditorium bellows, "WHAT IS YOUR DESERT ISLAND MUSIC?"

That's my patent, unreasonable reaction to that get-to-know-you question. I feel challenged committing to a plan five minutes from now, let alone a list of music I am gonna have to listen to forever by myself—or perhaps with an island mate straight out of the Far Side, and Lord knows what THAT man brought. Then there's the concern that if I manage to cough up a list, will my selection accurately reflect my actual taste? Or am I just nervously sounding off music that I manage to recall in that moment—like Ralphie from "A Christmas Story" when he finally gets to speak with Department Store Santa and wants so badly to beg for a Red Ryder BB Gun, but loses his cool and in his own state of shock, chokes and asks for, "A football. A football? What's a football?!" Except in my stage frightened moment I stammer, "Uuuuummmm, I'd prrrobably bring aaaa, um, yeah, "A Very Special Christmas"....the, uh, yeah, the first one?" because that is suddenly the only album on planet earth that I can remember. At all.

What's more, "trapped on a desert island" as a concept further unsettles me. I don't know why. Maybe it's the dread of being stranded with a straggly cartoon weirdo on a tiny island with one palm tree. That idea doesn't make me wanna curate a compilation of kickin' jams in advance, it makes me wanna figure out in advance how not to get stuck there. Why can't the question be, "If you had to give away all your music TO a guy trapped on a desert island, which essential albums/songs would you keep for yourself [on your ipod pequeño]?"

But still, the question and no satisfactory answer remains....

Or *remained*. Until this morning, that is, when a foolproof rejoinder revealed itself on my computer monitor. I had just woken up and half-heartedly scrolled through my music library by song title, looking for a solid "shower and get dressed" soundtrack. Brian Eno's "Here Come the Warm Jets" felt right. When I arrived at that song and its neighbors, my riposte was as crystal clear as the cobalt Caribbean. The scales fell from my eyes: The solution to this Gordian knot was so obvious. I suddenly felt as exhilarated as irrationally overcome Michael Caine in "Hannah and Her Sisters" when he giddily declares, "I have my answer! I'm walking on air!"

I may have even said that out loud.

It turns out any song with the title "Here come" or "Here comes" covers all bases. Ok, let's be honest, the song selection knocks it right out of the park. I wanna listen to them all, all the time:

"Here Comes the Sun" by The Beatles
Features one of my favorite bass lines, ever.

"Here Comes the Night" covered by Them.
Van. The. Man.

"Here Comes the Phantom" by the Clientele.
Ethereal, lilting, lovely.

"Here Comes My Girl" by Tom Petty.
A classic. I also decided it's the soundtrack for this little vignette, as it's a song all about wandering around wondering, feeling listless and "just so...hopeless," that is until the answer suddenly walks right up and knocks you cathartically between the eyes. I also just realized that I have the exact same haircut as Tom Petty.

"Here Comes Your Man" by the Pixies.
A nice companion to the Petty ditty.

"Here Comes My Baby" by Cat Stevens
Winning instrumentation and a good one for harmonizing.

"Here Comes the Judge" by Shorty Long
Amazing slide show featuring archival Motown album art for that song, here.

"Here Comes a Regular" by the Replacements

"Here Comes a Headache" by Hypnolovewheel
Fuzzy, driving, relentless.

"Here Comes the Summer" by the Fiery Furnaces

And I will. All of them. And I will also stop myself here. I have my unforgettable solution in pocket.

Also, I need to go download "Here Comes the Boom" by Nelly.

But before I sign off, I have to wonder, what is it about those words that makes any song introduction rock solid? For starters, that all-purpose presentation handily conveys a whole range of moods—anticipation, hope, dread, excitement, love, relief—with a good measure of melodrama. Someone or something is about to happen. Even if it's "Here comes trouble" there's something really thrilling and "this is gonna be good" in the message. That particular preamble confidently sets the stage for a good yarn.

Regardless of the why that formula is such a success story, the wait is over: I can check "Decide on Desert Island Music" off my to-do list. To repeat: I have my answer. I'm walking on air.

Tom Petty sums up this post (and this blog, for that matter) better than I ever could:

"Yeah, I just catch myself waiting, worrying, wondering
about some silly little things that don't add up to nothin'.
But then [the list] looks me in the eye and says, "we're gonna last forever darling"
And man, you know I can't begin to doubt it.
No, because this feels so good, and so free, and so right.
I know we ain't never gonna change our minds about it—hey!...."