Monday, August 31, 2009

Ridin' Dirty

It's hard knock life for bicyclists in Iowa City... or more accurately, just a confusing one.

Here are a few (common sense) etiquette rules for both bikers and drivers in Iowa City:

1) DO NOT RIDE YOUR BIKE ON THE SIDEWALK! Not only is this illegal, but it is completely disorienting for pedestrians and fellow bikers alike. You sidewalk bikers also create a bad rap for law abiding street bicyclists, causing automobile drivers to point you out when complaining about our inconsiderate asses taking up precious street space.
3) FOR SENSIBLE STREET CYCLING, STAY IN THE BIKE LANE Iowa City traffic is relatively light, unlike Chicago, where a constant flow of tight-packed traffic deems haphazard interweaving of automobiles acceptable. The streets are big, there's plenty of room for everyone to stay on their sides!
2) DRIVERS: DO NOT IMPATIENTLY TRAIL BEHIND CYCLISTS This is creepy, annoying, and rude, especially when said cyclists are following rules number one and two. Bikers are (hopefully) aware of your presence-- drive around, not behind us.
3) DO NOT LISTEN TO YOUR IPOD WHILE RIDING Just because you're on a bicycle does not make you invincible.
4) LOCK YOUR BIKE And not with a dinky, barbed wire lock: People totally like, steal things...
6) BIKING UP HILLS SUCKS Not really a rule, but definitely a fact.

Phew! Now that the citizens of Iowa City have been properly informed, the streets are finally safe.

This guy is totally not following the rules, giving an improper turn signal.

-Bri LaPelusa

Kurt Cobain must be rolling in his grave...

Recently Activision announced that Cobain's virtual likeness will be making an appearance in Guitar Hero 5 as a playable character. While I have never been a huge fan of the band that started the grunge movement, I have a strong feeling that this is not the kind of post-death treatment the musician would have wanted.

Cobain died because of all the fame and fortune that was getting to his head. He never wanted Nirvana to be a household name and the fact that Courtney Love and Dave Grohl agreed to this seems ridiculous, since they were both close to the singer/guitarist.

I sense that someone related to the Cobain estate must be running into financial troubles...

UPDATE: To prove my point further...

Stop the madness!!!

Heidi Montag cannot sing. Everyone knows that. So why are we still giving her publicity? Not only is she riding on the coat-tails of other people riding on coat-tails (i.e. Lauren Conrad, The Hills), no one besides Anderson Cooper (that's my boy!) seems to have said anything about it. It pains me to see the downhill slope the entertainment industry has been on for such a long time. Whatever happened to the Triple Threat: Singing, Dancing, Acting? When did having talent become a co-requisite or no-requisite to becoming famous? I want to know who authorized this. Oh wait, I already know the answer to that. It's American culture. As a society one hundred percent consumed with all that is superficial, we have allowed either consciously or sub-consciously, ourselves to become suckers for whatever sells the tabloids. Honestly, do we not have anything more important to think about? How about our country going to hell in hand basket? Evidently that's not as important as what Speidi just tweeted about. It honestly sickens me to think that our society holds people who probably don't even know the correct forms of to and too up to such a high level of importance.
I admit that I'm guilty of sometimes watching TMZ or scanning the gossip section of the MSN homepage, but you would never catch me surfing through I have better things to do and I bet you do, too. Try watching the news and learning about something that's actually important instead of wasting your time on talentless hacks who didn't get the memo that their fifteen minutes of fame are up.
I'm done now.
I swear I'm normally a very cheerful person.

Dana Judas

Sunday, August 30, 2009

MJ fans are an insightful bunch.

The LA County coroner has ruled Michael Jackson's death a homicide, and with Dr. Conrad Murray under investigation, people have got lots to say. Millions are outraged, dizzy with despair, even losing sleep over this development. And is it just me, or this all getting to be a little too much?

What I find most interesting about this whole ordeal is what die-hard MJ fans have to say. Throwing around language like, "kill Conrad Murray and then we can all get some peace" seems a little intense. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan just like the rest and will be first one up on that karaoke stage belting out "Man in the Mirror" in pure tribute. But I'm not part of this creepy breed of Michael-lovers who camped outside of the Neverland Ranch in hopes of getting a glimpse of MJ's body before the burial. One camper made a sign that said, "We R Waiting for U Michael!" That's the kind of stuff that nightmares are made of.

I took the liberty of quickly browsing (three hours and 45 minutes later) the many comments that Michael supporters were willing to share. Here are a few of my favorites:

In this article on the fab life blog, my favorite commenter is Diamond, who surely has something important to say, though I can't quite decipher the words. That's what real agony does to you, people. It makes you illiterate. I also like how Britt refers to Michael as Mike, because, you know, they were on a nickname basis. And lets not overlook Renee's ALL-IN-CAPS-HEART-WRENCHING- ENTRY. Caps lock has never looked so good.

Next, we move to this TMZ comment thread. I think #3 really nails it when they say that Dr. Murray will be going to the "pokey" (really, who uses that word) and then quotes his favorite cartoon character for additional support. "That's, that's, that's all folks!" Well put, Porky Pig.

Move to page two and you'll see that commenter #20 feels it's never too soon to start casting a major Hollywood movie, with Will Smith as Michael Jackson and Robin Williams as Dr. Conrad Murray. Now #20, you had me at a shameless movie re-creation--which will most definitely happen--but you lost me at your casting decisions. Will Smith as MJ? Really? I'm pretty sure one of the Jonas Brothers would do a better job as the King of Pop. And did you hear that Robin Williams, quite unlike Dr. Murray, is white? I think I read that somewhere...

# 23-25 seem to think this whole MJ homicide movie is a real kick. Oh, you think this is funny #25? Because some people are crying themselves to sleep over this! You should be ashamed for ROTFLMAO!!!!

As a black man, Big Jon on this comment thread on the LA Times blog thinks the homicide is a direct result of a racist-driven conspiracy that's been brewing against African American superstars for years. It all comes back to Tupac, doesn't it Big Jon? I also like how Ronny E. Antelo is all of a sudden the authority on "Addiction Disease" (huh?) and spells Elvis' last name as 'Praysley.'

And while we're at it, might I insert a little irrationally-involved comment of my own, addressed to Dr. Conrad Murray:

Dear Dr. Murray,
I wouldn't mind an opportunity to formally kick your ass. Now I'm not here to speculate whether or not you're innocent, but your video message really pissed me off.

First of all, how dare you ambush me with that strange accent! And might I ask who, exactly, are your supporters? You think every tabloid-loving-alleged-pop-icon-murderer automatically gets a fan base?

Now with my blood pressure sky-high, I don't know quite where I was going with all this. But what I do know is that Michael Jackson's memorial service cost the city of Los Angeles approximately $1.4 million of tax-payer money, and if I'm going to be losing sleep over any of this hullabaloo, it's that fact that will haunt me.

by Dee Fabbricatore

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Whole Lotta Glamour

One beautiful young woman has been causing quite a stir recently in the magazine world. The September issue of Glamour Magazine features a nude photo of 20-year-old Lizzi Miller, tastefully posed, smile beaming. Miller, as size 12, is what most average people would consider normal. In the realm of high fashion, however, double-digit sizes are rarely looked highly upon, and immediately placed in the "plus-size" file (with few exceptions). Anyone looking at this photo will most likely have one of three different reactions:

Love it - "Finally, a real woman in a fashion magazine!"
Hate it - "She does not belong in the pages of Glamour."
Indifferent - "It's just a picture, folks."

Having done a bit of perusing other blogs and news stories regarding this photo (which, by the way, is rather small and buried on page 194), it is clear that the overwhelming response has been extremely positive. This most recent issue seems to finally begin to understand the concept of "real," featuring Miller in their pages. Here, we see a woman who, seemingly, is not only comfortable with herself, but also laughing at those who think she shouldn't be.

Watching this video, there is really no way you can't love this girl for what she is saying, and how she represents herself. Recognizing the fact that she, among millions of other American women, have some sort of issue with the way they look. Part of this, as many of us know, stems from what the mass media generally portrays as the ideal form of beauty, which is a lot thinner than most.

Miller also made a great point near the end of the video, saying that sure, a size 2 may be natural for some females, but it's just not for everyone. To the few nay-sayers who think this portrayal of "real women" will only further excuse being overweight, Miller advocates a healthy lifestyle, and that the body she has is the result. She offers no excuses, and everything she says is what most women are thinking.

The only problem is, this type of positive attitude toward accepting and being oneself is not marketed nearly as much as it should be. We do have publications like Self that are taking things in a healthier direction--aside from that whole Kelly Clarkson debacle. One can only hope that Glamour and others will begin to follow suit. While a total upheaval of beauty and fashion may never happen, one can only hope that baby steps like these will only help women find solace in embracing what they were born with.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Conditioning of Pavlov, the College Student

I, like many on campus, are new timers to the residential hall experience. And to put it frankly, the last time I slept on a bunk bed I was 10 years old. A lot has changed in these 8 wonderful years, most notably, my height. Within the past couple days of my new college experience, I have managed to crack my forehead against the boards underneath my loft a dozen times almost to the point of tears. Not only being below the loft is a problem, but above. Like many victims of allergies, I am prone to being a bit sniffly in the middle of the night. Kleenex box at the ready, I sit up in bed, and what do you know, I clap my head against the ceiling with such a force that I actually wake up my roommate. Since these incidents, I have noticed I felt a strain on my neck as I involuntarily cower whenever I am around my loft.    

Therefore - 
 Hit a tuning fork and the dog will salivate.
 Place a student underneath a loft and he/she will cringe.  

- Hanna Rosman

I found where the wild things are!

Well, kinda.

I don't know about everyone else, but I've had October 16th circled on my calendar since spring — the day Where The Wild Things Are finally hits theaters and makes the little boy inside of me cry with happiness.

If you haven't heard, Karen O from Yeah Yeah Yeahs is headlining and co-producing the movie's soundtrack. The first single "All is Love" dropped today digitally, but you can listen to it for free on their myspace! Driven by bouncy acoustic guitars and children's voices, the song just screams happiness.

On another joyous note about Where The Wild Things Are, a new trailer released earlier this month! You can watch it below.

Who's excited??? This guy!

-Eric S.

The Most Dangerous Game

Hunting man, it has been said, is the most dangerous game. The most "Wicked Game," even, if you're Chris Isaak.

People are squishy, but also resourceful when necessary. This is definitely true if you find yourself stuck on a desert island with a bunch of hungry-looking strangers and a cache of weapons or being offered a large sum of a money by an overzealous millionaire with a high-powered rifle and forty acres of forest in his backyard like John Leguizamo in The Pest. But it's also true if you're just looking for pics of your favorite celeb on the Internet, at least according to anti-virus software giant McAfee.

Today, McAfee released their annual list of the most dangerous celebrities in cyberspace. Last year, the winner of this dubious distinction was Brad Pitt. This makes perfect sense. He's one of the hottest stars in Hollywood, and one stare from those steely eyes or a glance at those abs could kill most lesser mortals. This year he dropped to number 10 on the list. Apparently Hackers are upset that he took Angelina Jolie away from them and couldn't stand to associate their work with his name any longer.

At #5 is Jessica Simpson, someone who, according to McAfee's release, "is as dangerous to search online as she is famous."

Though Cowboys fans would have surely agreed when she was dating Tony Romo, I take this to mean that websites devoted to Jessica Simpson are getting safer and safer every day.

Speaking of quarterbacks, #4 is ball-slinging stud-muffin extraodinaire Tom Brady. His girlfriend, Gisele
Bundchen, is #6. If McAfee is to be believed, their child is going to come with spyware and a Trojan virus pre-installed. Probably Windows Vista, too.

#3 is Jennifer Aniston. McAfee notes that searches for her turned up many viruses, including one called the "FunLove" virus. Brad Pitt and John Mayer disagree.

Beyonce is McAfee's perennial #2, now appearing at the spot for the second year in a row. Somewhere, Kelly Rowland's solo career is chuckling, filled with a sense of justice.

That brings us to this year's #1. Who could be more famous, and thus an easier mark for hackers looking to foist their wares (ad-, spy-, and mal-) on unsuspecting victims than Brad Pitt, Miley Cyrus (#7) or Megan Fox (tied with Angelina Jolie at #8)? Barack Obama, perhaps? No. Obama didn't even make McAfee's Top-15, appearing on the list at #34. It appears that even hackers are filled with a sense of Hope this year.

Coming in at #1 on the list is Jessica Biel.

I know what you're thinking: "Not Mary Camden!" I know, I know. It's a tough pill to swallow, but even a tougher one to search for, with McAfee reporting a one-in-five chance of reaching a dangerous site when searching for the starlet online. How is she, star of such Oscar contenders as Stealth and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, is the most volatile celebrity on the web? I can't say. But underneath those piercing hazel eyes and that winning smile lies evil of the highest order. When you try to download a picture of them, that is.

We all know the Internet can be a dangerous place. It's full of creeps, thugs, and infected Kim Kardashian (#15) screensavers. But, as McAfee warns, even fans of celebrities (and bloggers looking for photos to accompany posts) need to be hyper-aware of their cyber-surroundings. It seems that nowhere is safe. So remember, when hunting the most dangerous game, do it the old-fashioned way: with a musket and a head start.

~Tommy Morgan Jr.

Scared Freshman

Yes, I am a freshman. 

You may not be able to tell when I inconspicuously just stop walking and act like I am taking something out of my bag. The truth is that I have realized that I am going in the wrong direction and need to turn around. 

You may not be able to tell when I am leading my friends along to class. The truth is that I just saw the map and lucked out. 

You may not be able to tell when I am running confidently around campus for a tough work out. The truth is that I had no idea where I was going, and I felt sick afterwards. Note to self: running in new settings means you run longer. 

You may not be able to tell when I walk around the mall pretending to window shop. The truth is that I could not find Beat the Bookstore and was in a desperate search. 

You may not be able to tell when I casually step in a really long line to Panchero's. The truth is that I just wanted to know what all the fuss was about. I eventually learned that there were $1 burritos. I do not like burritos. 

I know it is hard to believe that I am a freshman with my crafty techniques. Or maybe, you can easily spot me? Maybe I just look like an idiot trying to cover it up? I guess I won't know until I am a senior. 

-Sarah Larson

I’ll admit it—I am (or used to be) a religious Hills viewer. Like most girls who watch the show, Lauren is my favorite. Who doesn’t love watching her hook up with hot guys (Brody Jenner, to be more specifically) while still trying to work at People's Revolution and keep up her “good girl image?” A side note: What was she thinking getting Stephanie hired there? That may have been her biggest mistake on the show—with exception to Jason.
Now back to The Hills cast. Lauren has left, and really, who can blame her? So who’s left with an exciting story to tell? Enter Speidi. With the worthlessness that is Spencer, we could probably just say Heidi. And it all begins with her Playboy cover. Please don’t let this get to your head, Heidi; you’re the only sane one left in the relationship and we all know what this is doing to Spencer….

The producers of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! made a mistake by not allowing Speidi to return to the show. They should have left them in the jungle and saved the work some annoyance. Heidi, you’re not a sex symbol like some other Playboy models are. Maybe to your husband, but no one really takes him seriously. And since you’re not sex symbol, please don’t try to imitate one either… Cough Britney Spears cough.

Good luck becoming the next pop star, Heidi. And good luck to The Hills during season 6…

-Josie Jones

PostSecret Secrets

In honor of PostSecret creator Frank Warren's lecture tonight at the IMU, the editors and reporters here at the Daily Iowan have decided to confess a few dirty little secrets of our own. Below is a list of *real* journalistic secrets from the newspaper staffers you know and love.

I find it liberating to pee in the shower.

I am the only person I know who can write out the entire chorus of “Mmmbop.”

I replaced “the one that got away” with the one I should have let go. And I still haven’t let them go.

When I was younger, I wished I had a brother instead of a sister.

I pretend to like hummus because I think it will make people like me.

I haven’t spoken to my father in 8 months. I’d like to pretend I’m okay with this, but it actually kills me more than anything else.

I hate mashed potatoes, they really freak me out.

I’m getting engaged and I haven't told anyone.

I once accidentally texted my crush, “I have the worst diahrrea right now.” He never came over for a movie night again.

Sometime in my middle school days I got into a fiery disagreement with my mom on the car ride home from someplace. Upon returning home and parking the car in the basement garage, I stormed ahead to the first floor mud room. To vent, I flung my sneaker off and watched as the shoe smashed against and shattered one of the back door window panes. A state of shock quickly turned into a mixture of panic and embarrassment. Thinking frantically, I arranged the sneakers together next to the other abandoned mud room footwear and skipped back to meet my mom just arriving up the stairs. I told her of the scene I came upon at the back door, not admitting the reason for it. Concerned, my mom called the police. The lone policeman questioned both my mother and me of any knowledge we had of the incident. The officer noticed that the glass lay shattered outside of the house, so “it must have been a blow from the inside.” Perhaps just a natural pressure force that bust the window, he suggested. After a little more dawdling, the officer left with the mystery still unsolved. I’ve never told my mother to this day. Who knows if she even remembers the incident… Not that she’s senile. I love my mom! :)

I had a sex dream featuring someone who is not my significant other last night. I liked it.

I try to add at least one pun to the newspaper every day.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Feminizm, Yo?

To my listening pleasure, a recent trend of raunchy female rappers (see: Kid Sister
, Lady Sovereign, Yo Majesty, Leslie Hall) have taken on the indie hip hop and club scene.

Amanda Blank came out with her new album, I Love You, earlier this month. It features booty bumpin' electro beats accompanied with expertly spat lyrics such as "I think I'd like you better if we slept together"and "My ladies that got their own cash, know how to swing their hips fast".

^Empowering or degrading?

Can lyrics about "shakin' asses to the beat like this" be taken more lightly when sung by a woman herself? Moreover, should they be?

I've often heard people make statements along the lines of "I don't really pay attention to the lyrics in rap songs, I just like the beatz!" while nodding their heads to Lil Wayne's shamelessly misogynist lyrics layered over catchy samples.
Isn't this the problem here?

What do yall think?

What I think is that Amanda Blank's new album is bangin'. Check out her newest helium-infused video for "Might Like You Better".

-Bri LaPelusa

Mother Nature Probably Hates You

Remember how the environment is responsible for everything? Like food, water, and LIFE? We depend on Mother Nature for keeping all of us in the game, instead of in the ground. When I came back to Iowa City this summer after a European adventure, I was more than slightly appalled at the garbage lying on the streets, the strewn PBR cans lying next to the dumpsters, and the overall amount of shit everywhere. To make it worse, Moving Out Season was approaching at an incredible rate (more anger to come about that later). I cannot understand, or even ever fathom throwing something on the ground after I was done with it (McDonald's bags, food wrappers, etc.), let alone actively rolling down my window to do so. What is wrong with everyone? I'm not a saint (and I'm not a sinner...Lilly Allen? Anyone? No?), but I would never throw something on the ground when a dumpster is sitting twenty feet in front of me. It's morally reprehensible to not take care of the planet that sustains our lives and let's us get crunk on Thursday nights.

As the end of July and beginning of August roll around every year, the process of cleaning apartments and houses swings into action. The half-used mustard containers, Brother's "Mug Club" cups and un-salvagable towels and tee shirts are the first to get the boot, usually, this is straight to the dumpster. Unfortunately, a lot of larger items such as entertainment centers and desk chairs also get the ax. It's fine to get rid of things, revamp your wardrobe or retire things no longer in use, but to simply they thrown good, reusable and recyclable thing in the dumpster in not only extremely lazy, but irresponsible. Most of the things being thrown away could be taken to the recycling center which takes all of ten minutes, or given to charity stores. Sometimes if you donate clothes to places like Second Act and Stuff Etc. they'll even give you money. The point is, it doesn't matter if you're a vegan who drives a Prius and uses energy saving light bulbs, if you're still too lazy to take the cans back to Hy-Vee. You're still creating a large carbon footprint.

By Dana Judas

Sunday, August 23, 2009

It's true, I have a lot of feelings

I'm one of those super-emotional people who will never get tired of listening to sappy tunes, watching romantic movies, and reading books that bring tears to my eyes. Nauseous yet? Probably. But please, bare with me for a moment because I'm going to countdown the top five songs, movies, and books for people with feelings. With a little bit of added snark for those who don't.

Top Five Songs
5. "This is for Keeps" by The Spill Canvas. Because I can think of nothing more romantic then running after someone with no pulse, only to run directly into the sea and drown.
4. "Anthems of a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl" by Broken Social Scene. Because teenagers have so much angst that drastic measure must occur. For example, "talking trash" and "bleaching your teeth." Two very important things.

3. "Broken" by Lifehouse. Because the simliar to my pained soul, the inoperable clock is feeling a lot of hurt. Together, the two give me comfort through my tears.
2. "You Found Me" by The Fray. Because my over-emotional self can't leave the floor after you leave. Being a strong, independent, emotionaless person is just something I can't do.
1. "All I Want is You" by U2. Because it's true, all I really do want is you. And Bono. Mostly Bono.

Top Five Books
5. Dracula by Bram Stoker. Because sex and blood always manages to bring tears to my eyes.
4. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Because we all wish our men would disappear every once in a while.
3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. Because who doesn't like hearing about an ugly chick who gets a man every once and a while.
2. sTORI Telling. Because Tori Spelling and her mom should make you feel good about your relationship with your family. Plus inside information on "Beverly Hills, 90210" is great in soothing your pathetically depressed soul.
1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Because who doesn't like wordy Victorian literature. I mean, it'll turn your saddness into bitter anger at the excessive language.

Top Five Movies
5. Moulin Rouge Because Absynthe is the cure to life's problems. Well, at least it'll probably make you forget them.
4. Dirty Dancing. Because hanging out at camp all summer being criticized for my dancing really is the time of my life. Really.
3. Ghost. Because love is so powerful it makes you hang around for a bit after you're murdered.
2. Titanic. Because I'll never let go, Jack. Until I get married and have kids, that is.
1. The Notebook. Because no one really believes that shit is possible. I mean, seriously.

So for all of you out there who absolutely detest feelings, I strongly urge you to avoid all contact with any of the above mentioned items. If they do happen to fall in your possession and you partake of their contents, please maintain your bitter and angry self. Don't let my feelings affect you.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Nostalgia (Bad) Trip

I'm a sucker for nostalgia trips. A song, a clip from a movie, or even a stiff breeze can set off a reminiscence alarm, causing me to wax nostalgic about nearly anything. At twenty-one years old this is probably a bad thing, but that doesn't stop me. At the very least, it gives me a good excuse to justify when Simple Plan or Bowling for Soup come up unannounced on my iPod. Not too long ago a trip down the 'ol memory lane was caused, as these things often are, by an utter lack of anything good on TV.

When and where I grew up, watching professional wrestling was almost a rite of passage. From kindergarten up until I discovered girls I tuned in often, and even convinced my parents to shell out money every month for World Wrestling Entertainment pay-per-views. Ah, to be young again.

Since I gave the “sport” up, I would occasionally watch a match or two, oftentimes laughing at my younger self for ever having watched such a thing. Other than those once-every-so-often matches, I hadn't seen a full episode of any wrestling show in about ten years. Until last Monday. I figured it would be entertaining, and would allow me to reflect on all the great times it provided me as a child. It did not deliver.

Of course, most of professional wrestling's appeal is derived from naivety on the part of the viewer, or at least from a massive suspension of disbelief. I used to watch in awe as guys flew off the top rope, crushing their opponents' chests with their elbows. They hit each other with chairs, and fought in cages. Now, though, I've realized that, while they do bleed, it's not from having their heads slammed against the steel ring-entrance steps, but from razor blades hidden in their wrist tape. And the loud crack caused by Shawn Michaels' Sweet Chin Music isn't the sound of a neck snapping backward. It's the sound of a boot hitting a forearm.

When I first tuned in, they announced a retrospective. This was followed by the retrospective, a ten-minute affair in itself. After that, two announcers spoke at length about the retrospective.

Eventually, a wrestler came out. It was time for a match, finally.

Or so I thought. The wrestler, former Real World/Road Rules Challenge standout and apparently out of work actor The Miz, had a mic in his hand. It was time for a promo. After he finished the show went to commercials. I watched for twenty minutes before a match ever started. And the matches weren't good, either.

I admit, this is partially my fault. Over the years I wasn't able to keep up the suspension of disbelief necessary to be entertained by the show. But, watching a guy dressed in a leprechaun outfit giggle a lot isn't the same as watching Stone Cold Steve Austin trash-talking or the Undertaker performing on-air “sacrifices.” Those things were no more real than what I watched last week, but they were at least entertaining.

After the show was over, a much loved, if highly derided, portion of my childhood was gone. I suppose I was entertained—I did watch it for nearly an hour and a half after all—but my nostalgia trip went down some bad roads. Perhaps it is better to leave it all behind, to let the memories stay memories and avoid dwelling in them. That's the realization I came to. Either way, though, I probably won't be getting rid of that Simple Plan album any time soon. Too many good memories.

~Tommy Morgan, Jr.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

GWAR's "Lust in Space" Delivers the Obscenity

CD Review
GWAR: “Lust in Space”
Rating: **** out of ***** decapitated heads.

Only a day after the release of GWAR’s new CD, Lust in Space, demand is so vast that riots have broken out nationwide due to a lack of supply. Crack cocaine use is up by 200% and murder rates are at an all time high around the globe.

I believe this is what GWAR would want to happen on the release date of its eleventh studio album, even though the disc will likely be met with only moderate underground “success”. However, I doubt vocalist Oderus Urungus gives a damn what the listeners think after all these bloody sex-infused years.

On Lust in Space GWAR delivers a refreshing mix of tunes that regains some of the early punk elements of the band’s back catalog, while still continuing in the thrash-heavy direction the group has been heading towards on War Party and Beyond Hell.

GWAR has come a long way since arriving on the planet in Antarctica in the late 80s to spread its message of death, destruction, and drug abuse. Once simple songs are now filled with intricate guitar licks and complex rhythms. The self proclaimed “Scumdogs of the Universe” have always been underrated talent wise and the writing is usually funny, even if tracks like "Where is Zog?" and "Make a Child Cry" are a bit ridiculous.

For those who haven’t been following GWAR over the years, the band's music contains raunchy lyrics ranging from topics such as child murder to drug abuse. Oderus Urungus claims to have been born on the planet Scumdogia 43 billion years ago.

The whole band, which includes guitarists Flattus Maximus and Balsac the Jaws of Death, bassist Beefcake the Mighty, and drummer Jizmak Da Gusha, wear outlandish costumes and create the most epic live shows this side of Kiss, where they perform bloody decapitations and disembowelment, sometimes on famous political figures such as George Bush and Osama Bin Laden.

The album starts out with the six-minute-space-epic Lust in Space in which Urungus shows his reflective side — well, at least as reflective as a front man that is known for carrying a sword named “Lick” while wearing a 24-inch penis prop onstage can be.

”Again?/What grim vision this?/Bloodstained tomb, beer cans and piss!/ This. Is no life./ For a GOD!”

About a minute-and-a-half in the clean guitars cut out and the song delivers the usual heaviness that hits like a sword-to-the-gut.

“Let Us Slay” is classic GWAR at its best — short, catchy, and brutal. The vocal hook “we have no need for your crippled Christ” has actually been stuck in my head for the past few days. "Damnation Under God" is a heavy number that will fit well into the live show. Songs like “Lords and Masters” and “Metal Metal Land” feature punk influence from the days of old.

Lust in Space trails off in parts, but the album picks back up and ends strong with some low-end riffage on “Release the Flies” and the classic sounding “Parting Shot”, which is a worthy closer for the mighty GWAR. Overall it's the band's best album in years.

It would be in everyone’s interest to buy Lust in Space, or else Urungus might just show up at people's houses and kick some ass.

Eric's Picks: "Lust in Space", "Let Us Slay", "Damnation Under God", "Lords and Masters", "Release the Flies"

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

the Picador Rocks Iowa City Art

(insert stereotypical art picture here)

By the looks of D-(eye) on Arts it would appear The Daily Iowan Arts staff died in a terrible plane crash or something, but it’s not true. All of the staffers were on a much needed week-long “summer break”. Now all of the Arts & Culture writers are back and reinvigorated to deliver IC event coverage.

The Daily Iowan begins publishing on Thursday with an 80 Hours front written by yours truly covering Camp Dirtbag a four-day music festival at the Picador. However, one thing I wasn’t able to cover extensively was the Wednesday art exhibit pre-party being put on by the venue.

I was able to speak with the Picador’s resident art expert/general worker Paige Harwell. Here is a bit of what she had to say:

DI: So exactly is going to be going on Wednesday during the art show?

Hamilton: “We have thirty-plus artists with work on display. At 8 p.m. there will be a showing of an 8mm film that will be about 20 or 30 minutes long. Then there will be a $5 raffle to support United Action for Youth.”

DI: Where did you find the artists to donate these pieces?

Hamilton: “We found local artists to donate some of their pieces. It’s just kind of a mixture of artwork, both 2D and 3D. It’s a way to get local artists together and show off their work in an open setting. We hope they will do some trading of work too. Iowa City is pretty talented.”

The Picador manger Chris Wiersema added:

“The artwork ranges from pieces done by those that have gone to art school and had formal training, to those who have not. There will be stuff by tattoo artists and graduate students. “

There will also be some bands playing on Wednesday to kick off Camp Dirtbag, including Twelve Canons, Saxophone Pete, Lwa, and Limbs and Digits. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the art will be on display both upstairs and downstairs at the Picador. There is no cover charge for the event and all raffle proceeds go to United Action for Youth, so it’s for a good cause.

Check for coverage of the rest of Camp Dirtbag events on the cover of Thursday’s 80 Hours section.