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billy-joel-didnt-start-the-fire

Press play & sing along.

Barack ObamaBeyoncé,
Matthew McConaughey,
Lena Dunham, Boko Haram,
Bill deBlasio

Polar Vortex, Richard Sherman,
True Detective, Immigration,
Pete Seeger, Derek Jeter,
Maya Angelou

Neil deGrasse Tyson,
Philip Seymour Hoffman,
Battle in the Ukraine,
and Malaysia’s missing plane

Colorado’s legal weed,
Daft Punk’s got a Grammy,
Malala Yousafzai,
Donald Sterling, goodbye!

 

(more…)

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FLAPPERHOUSE

La_lunaire_de_Tour_horlogeThe Fall-Back Hour is one of the most magical hours in the entire 4th dimension, and yet so many people seem to sleep right through it. If you’re still awake when we repeat 1 – 1:59 AM at the end of Daylight Savings Time, look at all the amazing things you can do and see!

source: Factual Science, Volume 9, Issue 23

1. If you perform a  palindromic act during the Fall-Back Hour– for example, writing in pencil for 30 minutes, then spending the next 30 minutes erasing everything you just wrote, moving backward from the end–  you will open a wormhole that leads to a Möbius Strip Museum.

2. If you fall asleep during the Fall-Back Hour, you will dream you’re in a labyrinth filled with flying jellyfish.

3. All TV broadcasts aired live during the Fall-Back Hour will appear on DVR recordings as old PM Dawn videos.

4. Analog…

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travis

I’m no techno-geek, but I’m pretty sure YouTube’s “Automatic Captions” feature is made possible by farsighted lip-readers and voice-recognition software developed by capuchin helper monkeys. See if you can guess the following movie quotes as translated by this hysterically imperfect program:

1. “The pet of the right to communicate with their on backed by the inequities, the Philippines, and upheaval.”

2. “Hi style, Steve Hess.”

3. “Benedetto without government: Radon!”

4. “Economies? Economies?”

5. “Over the religion is amazing organized for good last year.”

6. “Pilots public public aborting!”

7. “Dividend. David Mattingly.”

8. “Possibilities, braces.”

9. “A bubble is best for Mrs. Moon.”

10. “Believe dot here, failure get milkshake.”

Answers:

1. “The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.” Pulp Fiction

2. “Why so serious?” The Dark Knight

3. “They can take our lives, but they will never take our freedom!” Braveheart

4. “You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me?” Taxi Driver

5. “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side.” Star Wars

6. “I love the smell of napalm in the morning!” Apocalypse Now

7. “Leave the gun…take the cannoli.” The Godfather

8. “Hasta la vista, baby.” Terminator 2: Judgment Day

9. “A boy’s best friend is his mother.” Psycho

10. “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” Cool Hand Luke

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gif courtesy of fuckyeahreactions.tumblr.com/

Billie Joe has a lot more in common with Billy Joel besides having a similar name and a Broadway jukebox musical.  They both wrote dozens of great pop/rock songs and sold squillions of records by the time they turned 40, but to thousands of non-fans, Billie & Billy have also been go-to punchlines, a couple of phony poseurs who lack rock n’ roll cred.  Chuck Klosterman’s “The Stranger” does a fine job recapping Billy Joel’s career-long struggle with uncoolness, so I won’t go into that here.  But the question remains: Is Billie Joe punk?

For years I’ve thought this question was more irrelevant than the American Music Awards.  Isn’t “punk” just supposed to mean loud, fast, catchy songs with a frequently irreverent attitude?  And yet, in the wake of his recent tirade at a very non-punk music festival, lots of internet people are once again debating the punkness of Billie Joe, and only 63% of these people are trolling and/or being ironic.  So it seems we must settle this, once and for all, or at least until Green Day’s next album comes out in November.

Fuckin’ 19-Eighty-Fuckin-8: Billie Joe starts a band called Sweet Children with fellow guitarist Mike Dirnt. Though it starts as a 4-piece, the original bass player soon leaves and Dirnt takes over on bass, making Sweet Children a 3-piece, and we all know 3 is the punkest number of people to have in your band.  Also, while Sweet Children may not sound like a punk name, what if “sweet” is meant to describe how they taste?  That would be punk.  +3 Punk Points

1989: Sweet Children changes its name to Green Day, a reference to how much the band loves smoking weed.  Smoking weed is kind of punk, but not quite as punk as methamphetamine.  + 2 Punk Points (5 Total)

1991: Green Day releases 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours, a compilation of their earliest recordings.  The album contains a few very good songs (“Going To Pasalacqua,” “Paper Lanterns,” “409 In Your Coffeemaker”), but most of the other songs are merely fast and loud without being very catchy or irreverent.  The punkest track on the album is a cover of Operation Ivy’s “Knowledge,” which is not nearly as fast or loud as the original, which makes it extremely irreverent and thus, fairly punk.  Minus 1 Punk Point (4 Total)

1992: The band’s second album Kerplunk still has a lot of love songs and shit, but it also has very punk songs like “Dominated Love Slave” and “Welcome To Paradise.”  The liner notes include “My Adventure With Green Day,” a tale of a teenage girl who murdered her parents and butchered their bodies just so she could go on tour with Billie Joe, Mike, and Tre Cool.  Way punk.  + 5 Punk Points (9 Total)

1993: Green Day signs its major-label deal with Reprise, a subsidiary of Warner Brothers.  Many people consider it “selling out” and totally not punk when a band signs a major-label contract, yet The Ramones wanted to be huge, and they debuted signed to Warner Brothers-subsidiary Sire, and are you trying to tell me The Ramones weren’t punk?  Plus, Reprise was started by Frank Sinatra, who was almost as punk as The Ramones. +2 Punk Points (11 Total)

1994: Green Day’s major-label debut Dookie (+1 Punk Point) gets crazy hype on MTV and Top 40 radio (Minus 2 Punk Points), and two of its biggest hits are a song Billie Joe wrote about masturbation (+2 Punk Points) and another song where he visits a male prostitute (+2 Punk Points).  The band plays Woodstock ’94 (Minus 2 Punk Points) but steal the show and start an epic mud-fight with the trustafarians and frat gooches in the mosh pit (+4 Punk Points).  (16 Total)

1995: Green Day releases Insomniac, their punkest and most consistently great album (+3 Punk Points).  It has at least one song about methamphetamine, which had a video of a dude actually getting his teeth pulled. (+3 Punk Points).  Most people I knew in high school who loved Dookie thought Insomniac sucked, and Green Day now sucked, but most of those people were, in fact, the ones who sucked.  (+3 Punk Points).  The coolest of my bros knew Insomniac was rad. (+1 Punk Point).  (26 Total)

1997: Green Day releases Nimrod, an attempt at maturity with a couple folk-influenced tracks.  “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” is punk as fuck, and if your high school was like mine and chose it as its prom theme, then that was punk as fuck too because remember, the song’s called “Good Riddance.” (+2 Punk Points).  Nimrod also includes “The Grouch,” which is even punker than fuck (+ 4 Punk Points).  But then there’s “Platypus” and “Take Back,” two tracks which sound punk as fuck, but in fact try way too hard to be punk as fuck, and therefore are not that punk at all (Minus 6 Punk Points).  (26 Total)

1998: Billie Joe lets Seinfeld use “Good Riddance” to soundtrack a montage for a clip show that airs before the show’s finale.  In theory, it sounds like a punk idea, because Seinfeld was a pretty punk show.  Only problem is, the aforementioned montage is, unlike Seinfeld, extremely sentimental, and so not punk.  (Minus 2 Punk Points, 24 Total)

2000: Green Day releases Warning, an even more mature and folkier album than Nimrod.  There’s occasional cliche punk, like the trite anti-authority messages of the title track (Minus 1 Punk Point), or “Minority,” about a white dude who wants to be a minority (0 Punk Points).  Still, “Blood, Sex And Booze,” “Fashion Victim,” “Misery,” and “Jackass” are kinda punk (+2 Punk Points).  And promising to go to “Church On Sunday” for the one you love?  Mad punk. (+2 Punk Points, 27 Total)

2003: Green Day disguises themselves as a band called The Network and releases Money Money 2020, an album of Devo & Kraftwerk-inspired new wave.  Would’ve been nicely punk if the songs weren’t so shitty. (Minus 5 Punk Points, 22 Total)

2004: Green Day releases American Idiot, which wavers between insanely punk (“American Idiot,” “Jesus Of Suburbia,” “St. Jimmy”) and embarrassingly non-punk (“Are We The Waiting,” “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”)  Contrary to popular belief, rock operas have no inherent punk value; it’s all in the execution.  The punkest thing about American Idiot, though?  Now I don’t want to overstate its real-world importance, but let’s consider this: You know all those millions of 18-21 year-olds who voted in their first US Presidential election in 2008?  The ones who voted overwhelmingly for Obama?  Well in 2004, when they were all pissed-off at the state of the union created by the George W. Bush administration, but too young to vote against it, what album do you think was soundtracking their angst?  What album, more than any other, was pep-rallying them for 2008?  It was American Motherfucking Idiot, and that’s punker than anything you’ve ever done, motherfucker.  (+10 Punk Points, 32 Total)

2005: Billie Joe finally overdoes it with the eyeliner.  Androgyny is punk and all, but come now, no one’s mistaking Billie Joe for a woman.  It doesn’t look transgressive, just sad. (Minus 2 Punk Points, 30 Total)

2009: Green Day tries to capture that American Idiot bottled lightning one more time, only with none of the hunger, half the humor, and twice the pomposity.  They call it 21st Century Breakdown, and it’s practically the opposite of punk.  (Minus 7 Punk Points, 23 Total)

2012: Just before Green Day releases ¡Uno!, a not-quite-punk/mostly power-pop album that seems to atone for the self-important excess of 21st Century Breakdown, Billie Joe unleashes a fuck-filled rant when The Bieber-Loving Man cuts his band’s set short at something called the “I Heart Radio” bullshit.  Yes, Green Day started 30 minutes late, but what band in America hasn’t started 30 minutes late?  When you go see your work-friend’s chill-wave duo at Fontana’s, they start 30 minutes late.  It’s standard.  Smashing guitars in protest?  Yawn.  Announcing 2 days later that Billie Joe’s off to rehab?  Maybe punk, but that depends: what’s he addicted to this time?  (+1 Punk Point, 24 Total)

There you have it, folks: Billie Joe has 24 Punk Points.  Not super-punk, but still respectably punk.  Now shut the fuck up.

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In the final scene of last night’s season finale of Breaking Bad, Hank Schrader apparently experienced an epiphany on the toilet after opening a copy of Walt Whitman’s Leaves Of Grass.  Of course, this was far from the only historic moment involving toilets and literature:

October 31, 1517:

Martin Luther nails his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg’s All Saints Church. Scholars attest that Luther’s acute constipation caused him to spend many hours on the toilet, where he researched and wrote the text that started the Protestant Reformation.

December 11, 1747

In a letter to his son, Lord Chesterfield discusses the virtues of reading in the necessary-house:

I knew a gentleman who was so good a manager of his time that he would not even lose that small portion of it which the calls of nature obliged him to pass in the necessary-house; but gradually went through all the Latin poets in those moments. He bought, for example, a common edition of Horace, of which he tore off gradually a couple of pages, carried them with him to that necessary place, read them first, and then sent them down as a sacrifice to Cloacina: this was so much time fairly gained, and I recommend you to follow his example…. Books of science and of a grave sort must be read with continuity; but there are very many, and even very useful ones, which may be read with advantage by snatches and unconnectedly: such are all the good Latin poets, except Virgil in his Æneid, and such are most of the modern poets, in which you will find many pieces worth reading that will not take up above seven or eight minutes.

March 8, 1857:

Joseph Gayetty is the first to market toilet paper, sold for 50 cents per 500 sheets. In a press release, the product is dubbed “Gayetty’s Medicated Paper for the Water-Closet,” and is said to be purer and safer than more commonly used printing papers, which contain “fearful poisons” like Oil of Vitriol and Oxalic Acid. Newspapers and other printed materials, however, continue to be the t.p. of choice in America because they’re cheaper, more readily available, and more fun to read than Gayetty’s papers, which only feature the inventor’s name.

September 30, 1890:

Sears publishes its first catalog, which soon becomes rural America’s preferred toilet reading material/toilet paper.

September 23, 1930:

Sears publishes its catalog on less-absorbent glossy paper, and receives a number of complaint letters from rural America.  The Old Farmer’s Almanac, with its more absorbent texture and hole punched in the corner for easy outhouse hanging, remains a popular alternative.

circa 1936:

In Black Spring, Henry Miller extols the glory of toilet reading:

O the wonderful recesses of the toilet! To them I owe my knowledge of Boccaccio, of Rabelais, of Petronius, of The Golden Ass.  All my good reading, you might say, was done on the toilet.  At the worst, Ulysses, or a detective story.  There are passages in Ulysses which can be read only in the toilet- if one wants to extract the full flavor of their content.  And this is not to denigrate the talent of the author.  This is simply to move him a little closer to the good company of Abelard, Petrarch, Rabelais, Villon, Boccaccio- all the fine, lusty genuine spirits who recognized dung for dung and angels for angels.

February 23, 1940:

Celebrated Argentine author/reviewer of non-existent books Jorge Luis Borges imagines reading Pierre Menard’s Quixote while pretending to poop.

August 16, 1977:

Elvis Presley falls off his toilet and dies in Memphis. Rumor has it that at the time of his death, he was reading a copy of Tom Robbins’ Another Roadside Attraction, smeared with fried banana-and-peanut butter fingerprints.

circa 1994:

Pulp Fiction‘s Vincent Vega (John Travolta) reads Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise while on a coffee shop toilet, and fails to hear Pumpkin (Tim Roth) and Honey Bunny (Amanda Plummer) loudly committing an armed robbery. Later, in the last moments of Vince’s life (but earlier, in the middle of the movie), Vince is so captivated by Modesty Blaise while using Butch Coolidge’s toilet that he apparently fails to hear Butch (Bruce Willis) enter the apartment, retrieve the gold watch from the bedroom, prepare a Pop Tart and pick up the assault rifle that was left on the counter. (Though the theory that Vince may have been expecting Marsellus Wallace [Ving Rhames] and therefore thought nothing of Butch’s noisemaking is a widely accepted hypothesis among internet geeks.)

April 16, 1998:

George Costanza (Jason Alexander) is forced to buy a book on French Impressionist art which he brought into a bookstore bathroom.  Subsequent attempts to sell the tainted book prove futile.

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Certain words and phrases have been censored during syndicated airings of 30 Rock even though they passed standards & practices when they originally aired on NBC.  Can you guess which of these words are too raunchy for reruns?

1. erection

2. pooping

3.  jags

4.  ball

5.  Micks

6.  Hot Richard

7. douche

8. McFlurry

9. squeezer

10. boning

*

*

*

*

*

Censored: 2, 4, 5, 7, 10  Uncensored: 1, 3, 6, 8, 9

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If you do things like watch Super Bowls, you probably remember this wacky commercial: Larry Bird’s shooting baskets in a dark, empty arena, because maybe pro basketball players do that sometimes.  Then Michael Jordan just happened to be in the neighborhood I guess, so he strolls in wearing his hideous Cosby-Zubaz street clothes, and he’s got this bag of McDonald’s he just bought, and he takes a courtside seat to eat lunch and watch Larry Bird practice in the dark, empty arena.  Ok then.

None of these things are the most confusing thing about this commercial premise, however.  That distinction goes to the part where Bird challenges Jordan to a game of sudden-death HORSE, with Jordan’s Big Mac and Fries as the prize, and Jordan accepts.

OK, I get that in real life, Michael Jordan is a crazy gambling fiend, and he’d probably accept any wager Bird offered him, even if the prize was a Nerf bat to the nutsack.  But this is not real life Michael Jordan, this is Hero Michael Jordan who has to sell burgers to kids.  I think it’s safe to assume that the Michael Jordan of this commercial is not a crazy gambling fiend, and this ad is not meant to be some sort of sly meta-wink at Jordan’s real life crazy gambling fiendishness.

Therefore, Hero Michael Jordan just accepted a pretty shitty bet.  He already bought the McDonald’s.  It’s not like Bird & Jordan are playing to determine who will buy McDonald’s in the future.  Now if Bird wins, he actually wins something.  But if Jordan wins, he merely “wins” what he already had.  Of course we could conjecture that at some point, perhaps Bird offered to fork over the cash value of the McDonald’s lunch if Jordan won, or some similar arrangement.  But there’s no on-screen indication that Bird ever puts anything at stake.  Basically, it would seem that you don’t have to get up all that early to fool Hero Michael Jordan.  In fact, you can still fool him pretty good right around lunchtime.

A couple years ago, McDonald’s made a dunkier version of this commercial, this time with Dwight Howard bamboozling Lebron James.  And once again they propagated this preposterous idea that the biggest basketball star on Earth will just risk his McDonald’s lunch without the other guy putting up anything of his own.

That was tolerable enough when McDonald’s simply portrayed pro basketball superstars as con men and rubes, but now I’m afraid they’ve gone too far.  They have a new commercial that suggests us ordinary folk are just as dishonest and stupid:

A community rec center, buzzing with people having fun, playing foosball, that kinda junk.

Two Old Ladies are playing ping pong but, evidently because of their advanced ages, they swing their paddles and volley the ball very slowly.

Two Snot-Nosed Kids are eating McDonald’s McNuggets near the ping pong table.  Snot-Nosed Kid #1 loudly mocks the slow-moving, ping-pong-playing Old Ladies.

So Old Lady #1’s like, Oh yeah, how about we play for your McNuggets?  And Snot-Nosed Kid #1, like dumb-ass Jordan and Lebron before him, accepts Old Lady #1’s challenge without her putting anything at stake.

If you haven’t already guessed in the space between that last sentence and this one, Old Lady #1 immediately reveals herself to be a hustler, and gets to work whipping Snot-Nosed Kid #1’s ass in ping pong.

At least this latest riff on the old “Bettin’ McDonald’s” trope has a twist, even if it is equally preposterous.  I’m not talking about the Old Ladies turning out to be hustlers, though, that crap was obviously going to happen.  No, the twistiest twist happens at the very end, after all the gooey food shots and low low prices have been adequately advertised.  In the last shot, the Old Ladies are enjoying their McNugget spoils with a Gentleman Friend.  And with a mischievous smile, Gentleman Friend boasts, “Works every time!”  (Note: this scene is not included in the version above, but it is in the version currently airing on American TV.)

All right, so apparently the Old Ladies and their Gentleman Friend hustle rec center kids out of their McDonald’s fairly often, and with great success.  Yet that only makes me wonder: do they always wait for some Snot-Nosed Kid to mock them?  Or do they have different methods of luring the youngsters into gambling away their lunches?  Do they have a big book of techniques, like 1930s grifters?  Do they have their own slang, like is “Smacking The Sparrow’s Egg” code for “ping pong?”  Do they just bet kids who happen to bring McDonald’s to the rec center, or do they go after all kinds of lunches?  Do they ever play for cold, hard cash?  How many times do you think each hustler has double-crossed the other throughout their long history in the con game?

And if this kind of hustle happens often enough to “work every time,” as Gentleman Friend says, wouldn’t these Old Hustlers be notorious around the rec center by now?  Wouldn’t you think all the kids know not to fuck with Those Old People Who Hustle Kids At Ping Pong Down At The Rec Center?

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