Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Predator: The Musical

This gets the Muppets tag because the guy singing as Arnold sounds kind of like Kermit. Even still, this is beyond awesome. I like to think that's actually Carl Weathers singing, he'll do anything for money, or for food scraps. "Baby, you got a stew going!"

Monday, March 28, 2011

Navel-Gazing Fun With Statistics!

Can you believe we're approaching the sixth anniversary of this blog? Good lord. It seems like just yesterday that Kofi Annan came to me and said, "Mark, your words need to the fabric that keeps this fractured planet together. You must start a blog!" And really, the Secretary-General was totally correct, given the complete lack of warfare and strife that's taken place in the world since 2005. Uh...

Blogger's "stats" function only goes back a year, but it's still a fun check to see just what humanity thought was my most popular material of the last 12 months. First, let's see what brought people to the dance in the first place. As David Byrne would say, how did I get here? These were the most popular search keywords that led readers to the site....

"Inglourious Basterds analysis"
"Top 100 athletes of the 21st century"
"frankie muniz married"
"best 24 villain"
"frank muniz"
"frank muniz dead"
"robert irsay 'tall italian' "
"inglorious basterds analysis"

The first two were far and away the most popular keywords, which explains a couple of the entries on my 'most popular posts' list. These were the most-viewed blog posts of the past year...

* Brett Favre vs. Hamlet. No surprise, given Brett Favre's always-high profile, though hopefully nobody logged onto my site hoping for the infamous cock picture that Favre -- allegedly -- mailed to Jenn Sterger. I run a family blog, mister! Look for your smut elsewhere! (The word "cock" is acceptable on a family blog, right? This could be a website about a farming.) I should note, this post was BY FAR my most-viewed of the year, capturing a quarter of the total views on my blog altogether. I like to think that it was because of Hamlet, as in some confused high school kid used this post as a reference on his remedial English essay, and subsequently received an F-minus-minus. Possibly a G-minus.

* Box To The Ox. This is kind of an odd one, given that this post was thrown together in about 20 minutes on Boxing Day and doesn't really have any one subject, aside from talking about my Christmas and my grandmother on the toilet. (Boy, that sounds bad out of context.) My hunch is that people surfed onto this post due to the various boxing-themed photos I used. Lots of fans of the National wanted to find an album cover, or people wanted a shot of Muhammad Ali in action, or political junkies were really hard up for a shot of Barbara Boxer, etc.

* The 24 Best 24 Villains Ever. People love lists, it was 24's last season, makes sense.

* Inglourious Basterds, An Analysis. I'm happy this one is so popular, I had a lot of fun writing about this great film. That said, I'm fully aware that the vast majority of pageviews were undoubtedly from students looking for research sources. I mean, it has the film's title and "analysis" right there, that's catnip for lazy film students on Google. I've even received a few e-mails from students asking for my real name so they can properly cite me in their papers. Of course, to prevent the scourge of plagiarism, I agree, but only by giving them a fake name. "Inglourious Basterds: An Analysis by Laszlo Panaflex."

* The Best Films Of The 2000's. Again, people love lists.

* The Great American Posting Bash/Lisa Loeb". Here's the real outlier of the bunch, a five-year-old brief item about whether or not Lisa Loeb is attractive without her glasses. Could it have gotten a lot of pageviews simply because it's the only thing anyone's written about Lisa Loeb since 1997? Or, maybe diehard WCW/NWA fans are hoping for a revival of the Great American Bash.

* Demotivational Posters (Part One). No surprise here, it's a popular series. Hell, I found the poster stash myself by going around to various sites, so I'm just keeping the meme alive.

* The Best Athletes Of The 21st Century. PEOPLE LOVE LISTS. Looking at this list with 18 months of hindsight, I can't believe I put LeBron ahead of Tim Duncan. How moronic. Maybe my slotting Tiger at #1 is what jinxed him.

* Replacements For Steve Carell. Timely, provocative, and a question to which we still don't actually know the answer. The rumour mill has Will Arnett stepping in as the new Dunder-Mifflin boss, which I'm on board with, but I still like my Jimmy James/Dave Nelson idea. Dave Foley could really use the money, if you've ever read any of his Tweets about how his first ex-wife is bleeding him dry. It's....kinda sad.

* Old Wedding Photos Found Near A Garbage Can In An Alley Next To An Old Mattress. I love, love, love that 1065 people read this goofy-ass page over the past year.

Now, you'll notice that some of these popular posts coincide with the most popular search terms, but there are a few that stand out. There are three (three!) Frankie Muniz-related searches that led people to wondering if he was married, one wondering if he was dead, and the last just in reference to 'Frank' Muniz, in case he tries to escape his kiddie image. It might have something to do with this four-year-old post, or my references to the 'Cody Banks/Frankie Muniz jump punch' fighting technique as observed in the trailer for one of the Cody Banks films. From this, I can only glean that if I changed this blog's focus to nothing but news about Frankie Muniz and Lisa Loeb, I'd have the new Facebook.

The other random search term "Robert Irsay 'tall italian' " is even more of a head-scratcher. This is the only time I've ever mentioned Indianapolis Colts owner Bob Irsay, and when I actually Googled that search term myself, I wound up at this post, which is ostensibly about Anne Hathaway possibly being in the new Spider-Man movie, but at one point I describe Andrea Bargnani as a seven-foot-tall Italian. So hey, at least something was accurate in this post, since Hathaway sure didn't end up as "the Vulturess" or whatever nonsense that was.

Windows was by far the operating system that delivered the most pageviews, with a little over 79 percent of the readership. My fellow Mac users were in second with 16 percent, and no other operating system (iPhone, iPad, etc.) cracked even one percent. Somewhere, Steve Jobs weeps. Windows also took the day when it came to pageview by browser, at 43 percent. Firefox was second with 30 percent and Safari and Chrome tied with 11 percent each.

An even ten countries make up my readership, with over 75 percent of readers hailing from the United States. Does this mean I'll start spelling 'favourite' without the U? Hell no. In order, the ten countries are the USA, Canada, the UK, Germany, Australia, Holland, France, Brazil, Italy and Russia. To this I say what the hell did I ever do to piss you off, Republic of Ireland? C'mon, I write about U2 all the dang time, I should be generating more attention from the Irish than a James Joyce readathon.

Anyway, by sticking all my most popular searches on one page, this will quickly become the most-viewed page in Blogger history. My scheme to double readership is complete! What, did you think I'd first try to post more, or generate more quality? Pfft, silly rabbit.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Victorian Wire

It's easy to drive a joke into the ground. A very funny idea can be funny for five pages, but not for 10; an SNL sketch for two minutes, not for six; an Onion article with a headline, but not for a full story. That's why this spoof version of 'The Wire' transposed to Victorian times (where it's a collection of stories written by 'Horatio Bucklesby Ogden) is so impressive. It keeps its central joke going through an almost analytical breakdown of the show and it just gets funnier and funnier. It's an absolute perfect satire.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Classic 'Simpsons' Headlines

Funny Or Die has a collection of 55 of the funniest Simpsons newspaper headlines from the show's long history. This is guaranteed to make you laugh, and also perhaps start a debate over whether the headlines or the sub-headers are actually funnier.

A few of the best here....

Sunday, March 20, 2011

"Bob Dylan" vs. Rebecca Black

Between this and the Bruce Springsteen/Jimmy Fallon-as-Neil Young version of "Whip My Hair," I'm starting to think I'd pay for an album of lousy pop songs covered by legendary artists. They can call the record 'Polishing A Turd.'

Perhaps even funnier than the cover is the top-rated comment, which holds the distinction of being the only actual clever comment in YouTube history.

This song is so powerful to me.. i remember that friday in 'Nam in 1973 i was flying my medical chopper in to try and save my shot up platoon when we were shot down.. the rest of my crew was just bloodied remains, and i wasn't far from it. The chopper was stuck up in a tree a good 20 feet up. This song came on over the radio, and i heard the lyric "gotta get down on friday." then and there i decided not to give up on life. I hopped of the tree and shot down 50 Vietcong screaming "We so excited!"

Friday, March 18, 2011

Out-Of-Context Texts In My Phone Inbox, Volume XIII

Text FAQs!

Q: Do you really publish every single text you receive?

A: Well, no, not EVERY one. Some are just addresses and phone numbers, and it wouldn't be cool of me to reprint them into the public domain. I'd hate to subject a friend to hours of Jerky Boys-esque prank calls.

Q: So, you also don't publish sexts?

A: ....uh, yes. That's the reason. Since, of course, I get loads of graphic sexts, but I don't publish them since I'm a....gentleman? That's the ticket.

Q: Will you ever reveal the identities of the texters?

A: No! Stop asking me, government!

"The best revenge is living well. The second best revenge is acid in the face. Who will love them now?"

"Wut about McBurns?"

"Elkas Elkas Elkas!"

"My patience is spent."

"Did you, by any chance, catch Mike Weir's score today? Good lord, he should ACTUALLY retire."

"Do we have a fourth? If not Dave can come."

"If you don't have somewhere to stay yet you can crash in our spare bedroom."

"There a spot open for me?"

"My boys vs. your boys tomorrow -- Man City vs. Fulham!"

"Ok cool. I managed to get us one of the coveted against-the-wall tables but it looks like I'll be holding it off alone until 8 PM-ish."

"Matt said maybe tomorrow."

"You watching the golf?"

"That would have been a Jim Ross moment last night. It ends in a draw, ohh mah gawd. A draw? Was it a decent fight?"

"You aren't bringing up all your stuff, are you?"

"Just got changed! Ha ha!"

"Court hearing will be all day. Will get my keys from you at the Drake."

"Did you need me to come to the parking garage?"

"What's the game plan? Is it an out or in night?"

"Message me to let me know if something great happens. Don't imagine I will hear from you."

"If you are still there we are heading to the car."

"Ha ha, okay. Just wanted to make sure you weren't sleeping on the street tonight."

"Are you sleeping on the streets?"


"And how, exactly, was Inception not nominated for best editing when the layered-level editing was easily the most impressively edited sequence of this or any other year?"

"Ah no!"

"Home now!"

"If you ever get a choice between regular heaven or pie heaven, choose pie heaven. It might be a trick, but if not, mmm boy."

"No problem Mark, thanks for letting me know. Hope to see you this summer!"

"Hey, where do you get those golf coupon books?"

"Sure :) "

"Yes indeed! Sorry I missed your call. D and I were out for dinner."

"We are coming to the Beaver."

"Sorry buddy. Totally forgot all about the epic battle that is Penn-Fitch. Made other plans unfortunately. This should have been a freebie. Rivera-Bisping as a co-main, that is horse shit."

"Hey, just saw your Facebook message. You get something figured out?"

"Ok getting into cab."

"U can't play poker with three ppl, lol"

"We have five people coming so if you're there early get a five-man table!"

"And my stuff, including my coat, is in someone's car."


"Managed to lose everyone! Give me a bit to locate them. Maybe I can get out."

"Lol, I'm excited though. Once Mark starts heading east, summer is always right around the corner!"

"Trying to find out from Ryan. Haven't talked to Jon."

"You know me, I change fast"

"Beaver tomorrow?"

"You have any more luck finding a place to stay than you did in filling out a fantasy league?"

"I don't know what to do and am flustered. :( "

"Okay, just wanted to make sure. Hope is all is well, and good luck with your search!"

"Never mind what?"

"Just a bag with stuff for two days? ;p"

"If someone dies in the Octagon I will be extremely pissed that I missed it."

"You seriously enjoyed Winter's Bone?"

"If that is a message that is sent to me, we are no longer friends."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

UFC 128 Picks

* Nate Marquardt over Dan Miller, decision
I noted last month that Jorge Rivera is one of those perfect gatekeeper fighters, and Dan Miller is another example of the type. He only loses to upper-tier opponents, and even then, he gives them a tough go; his recent three-fight losing streak to Bisping, Maia and Sonnen were all via decision. Marquardt is another upper-echelon middleweight who is in BIG need of a win to prove he's not a choking dog. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see Miller win, especially given this fight's thrown-together status (it was originally Miller vs. Nick Catone and Marquardt vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama, but Akiyama pulled out after the earthquake and tsunami in his native Japan). It's interesting that both Marquardt and Miller were prepping for different foes so they're on equal footing, but I'll give Marquardt the nod just because he has the most impressive resume. For now.

* Urijah Faber over Eddie Wineland, submission, R2
Man, how much would the UFC hate an Eddie Wineland victory here? They're counting on Faber to be the poster boy of the bantamweight division and if Wineland wins, Dana White probably flips the closest table. While Wineland is on a four-fight roll, he's been prone to submissions in the past, so I see Faber sneaking in a rear-naked choke at some point and winning his official UFC debut match. What were the odds on Faber debuting in the UFC and the event isn't even in California? Will the East Coast rap aficionados in Jersey boo his Dre/Tupac entrance? Does the coastal rap feud even exist anymore? I'm such a white square.

* Brendan Schaub over Mirko Cro Cop, decision
Good lord, RETIRE MIRKO. This is like watching Michael Jordan play for the Wizards, except there was never a grim spectre of seeing MJ get his face caved in on a basketball court.

* Jim Miller over Kamal Shalorus, decision
I can't go against both Miller brothers, lest the family declare war on me. Did you realize Jim Miller's UFC record is 8-1, with the only loss coming to (arguably the best lightweight fighter in the world) Gray Maynard? Miller might be the most underrated quality fighter in the UFC. A win over the unbeaten Shalorus will run Miller's win streak to seven in a row and give him a great argument for a title shot, once Maynard gets his rematch with Frankie Edgar and once the Anthony Pettis/Clay Guida winner gets his bout. So yeah, Miller might be given the option to sit out until, say, December until the LW picture is clear, or he could take a fight in the interim as a true #1 contender's bout. This is all presuming, of course, that he actually gets past Shalorus, who is no slouch. I'll say that unlike most UFC build-up matches in the LW division, this one actually goes to plan and Miller is victorious again.

* Shogun Rua over Jon Jones, KO, R2
What a rough fight to predict. It would be one thing if it was just the established top LHW in the world defending his belt against the young upstart challenger; in that case, I'd pick Rua based on experience. But when you factor in Rua's 10-month layoff from knee surgery, and Jones' rather sudden insertion into this bout (he was offered the shot literally on the spot after he whupped Ryan Bader at UFC 126 and then it was revealed that Rashad Evans was injured), it adds even more x-factors into the equation. Jones has been drubbing everything in sight, and as you recall from the last time Rua had major knee surgery, it took him a long time to shake off the ring rust. And, hell, it's his second major knee surgery, those will take their toll. In the end, though, I have to go back to my original prediction. Shogun has had the benefit of better doctors and treatment this time around, and Jones is still just a wee bit too raw to dethrone the top dog. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest to see Jones win, but I can't ignore someone with Shogun's track record.

*Kurt Pellegrino over Gleison Tibau, submission, R3
*Raphael Assuncao over Erik Koch, decision
*Edson Barboza over Anthony Njokuani, TKO, R2
*Mike Pyle over Ricardo Almeida, submission, R2
*Joseph Benavidez over Ian Loveland, submission, R1
*Constantinos "Not Istanbul" Phillippou over Nick Catone, decision
*Eliot Marshall over Luiz Cane, decision

Saturday, March 12, 2011

This Damned Spider-Man Musical

"U2 albums never get finished, they just get released." -- The Edge

This might surprise you to hear, but Bono is kinda prone to hyperbole. A few months ago, he claimed U2 had not just one, but several new albums in the works. To wit...

-- a record produced by none other than Danger Mouse, who U2 had been recording and working with since last year. U2 have famously stuck with some combination of Steve Lillywhite, Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois as producers for almost all of their albums, so the fact that the band is branching out to not just a new name, but one of the more innovative producers in rock music today is very, very interesting.

-- the "Songs Of Ascent" album that was conceived during their last major recording sessions. SOA was going to be a sister record to "No Line On The Horizon," akin to how "Zooropa" was the low-key follow-up to "Achtung Baby." Now, it should be noted, Bono often talks about how much material the band generates during their recording sessions and we end up seeing almost none of it, but the fact that an actual title, theme and songs (some of which popped up on the 360 Tour) were mentioned made this project seem much more concrete than others.

-- a dance and techno-flavoured record produced by the likes of Will.I.Am, RedOne and David Guetta. Uh, sure? This might have just been Bono talking out of his ass or simply talking about these guys doing some remixes of existing U2 songs, not a whole new recording. At least, I'm hoping this is the case since a U2/Black Eyed Peas team would make me put a gun to my head.

-- a U2 version of the songs Bono and Edge wrote for the Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark musical.

So yeah, four discs. Sweet! Now, since Bono pretty much can't say anything related to U2's music that doesn't require a big grain of salt, nobody is seriously thinking all four of these discs will be in existence anytime soon. But there has been so much buzz about new material that SOMETHING has to be percolating. U2 is starting a North American tour in May, and since it's been over two years since their last album release, it makes sense that the band would want some new material to promote out on the road. A two-year gap between records would also be a welcome bit of productivity from a group that's definitely fallen into a pattern of taking longer and longer between proper releases. Since "Pop" in 1997, every U2 album is released in conjunction with a worldwide tour that takes a couple of years to complete, then the band needs at least a year to recharge, and then the recording process takes a good 18 months since U2 are notoriously slow/picky/uncertain/etc. about putting their next project together.

But now, U2 seemed to have a fresh burst of creativity. The fact that U2 was playing unreleased songs on tour (something they hadn't done in decades) was another sign that the band was going to loosen up a bit. Maybe they'd release an album online a la Radiohead, or put out two discs on the same day, or anything that seems par for the course for a modern band but would seem very fresh coming from an old-school outfit like U2.

So all great plans, very intriguing stuff....and it might be for naught thanks to this bloody Spider-Man musical. The latest on this fiasco is that director Julie Taymor (the one held largely responsible for the mess of a show that has cost millions to produce and still hasn't "officially" opened on Broadway yet) has been removed, so basically the whole thing will end up being overhauled. What this means for Bono and Edge's current songs is anyone's guess. The music obviously won't be thrown out altogether, but certainly rewrites may be necessary and possibly even some new material needed. In short, this thing will take up more of B&E's time, which is time that could be spent wrapping up this Danger Mouse album, or figuring out how to "U2-ize" the Spider-Man songs (i.e. talking Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton into bothering to record them) or deciding if 'Songs Of Ascent' is a strong enough concept to be its own disc or if they will just poach the few best songs from that project for something else.

At the end of the day, I care about new U2 music. I certainly don't give a crap about this Spider-Man musical. It was a bad idea from the get-go, and it got worse when a) it became apparent that Taymor had little to no idea about Spider-Man and b) that the show couldn't get through a performance without a technical screwup and/or injury to one of the performers. This thing has already become a legendary boondoggle. Bono and Edge have already been tainted just by association, though most of the (pan) reviews focus on the shitty production and story, not the music.

The good news is that Bono and Edge sort of have a drop-dead date for their Spidey work. U2 are on tour in South America from March 25 to April 13, and then they begin their major North American summer tour on May 11 in Mexico City. One would think at some point they'd throw their hands up and tell the Spider-Man producers, "Look, we have to get back to our day jobs. You have our music, just build a better damn story around it. Ciao!" The problem, however, is that if the Danger Mouse record isn't in the bank by May, then U2 will be on tour and have no time to finish it, and it would make little sense for them to release a new album AFTER they've finished their last tour for what should be several years.

As much as I would love it if U2 suddenly flipped a switch and did things like release records online or put out new material just for the sake of it (not accompanied by a major tour or publicity blitz), everything in the band's history tells me that once they go off the road this summer, that's it until at least 2013. I want this new U2 music as soon as possible. A U2/Danger Mouse collaboration is big news, so surely the band wouldn't just shelve it for years. Hell, even U2 working with the likes of RedOne* is big news given his current high profile in the music world. The last thing I want is for this Spider-Man musical to become the convenient excuse that allows the band to once again scrap a recording session due to the lack of a surefire big hit or the fact that they felt they just hadn't devoted enough attention to the process.

If U2 are given time to overthink, the result is an over-produced album (How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb) or a thematically-unstable album (No Line On The Horizon). Be spontaneous, U2. Just put out the disc and see what happens. Hell, put out an EP if you only think you have six or seven top-rate songs. Just put out something before your next hiatus. Don't let Spider-Man defeat Danger Mouse.

* = he's Lady Gaga's producer, btw, in case you also had no idea who he was....I had to Google him myself

Monday, March 07, 2011

Demotivational Posters, Vol. 2, Part VI

Well, it's come to this. After months of laughter, tears, and some light sneezing, the Demotivational Posters series is once again at an end. Ah, the memories. Remember that time I posted a demotivational poster? And who can forget that one time when I posted another demotivational poster? Good times, good times. The series will return when....well, when I can find another site to steal these from. Ball's in your court now, rest of the internet!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Tumblr Love

* Sheen And Swanson
I'm not sure why people insist on comparing great American and meat enthusiast Ron F'in Swanson to noted lunatic Charlie Sheen. Perhaps it's because Sheen's half-baked claims of manliness are actually applicable when used to describe an actual beacon of greatness, such as Ron. As the great Dizzy Dean said, it ain't bragging if you can do it.

And, aside from this Tumblr, this actually isn't the only Sheen/Swanson meme out there. Check out the Sheen version of the Ron Swanson Pyramid Of Greatness.

* Cats That Look Like Ron Swanson
Okay, enough of this. Swanson deserves better than to be lumped into Sheen's bizarre universe. Instead, Swanson should be hailed alongside man's second-best friend, the cat.

* Eye On Springfield
If you're a sentient human being, you obviously love the Simpsons. This site collects various images and GIFs from the show and before you know it, you'll have spend a whole friggin' hour laughing and remembering the various gags.

* Fuck Yeah, The Office!
...and here's a similar site for the Office! (American version, not British version...though I don't feel it's necessary to differentiate between the two anymore, pretty much everyone presumes you're talking about the Steve Carell version. Never mind.)

* Where's Randy Savage?
It's a question we've all asked ourselves in our more introspective moments....where IS pro wrestling legend "Macho Man" Randy Savage? It's a shame this man has faded from the pop culture landscape ever since his seminal performance as Bonesaw McGraw in the first Spider-Man movie. He was a two-time WWE champion! He is arguably the greatest wrestler of all time, from a pure entertainment/actual wrestling ability standpoint! He loves Slim Jims! And, as this Tumblir site informs us, Savage has been involved in virtually every pop culture moment of the last several hundred years. Oh yeah!