Friday, December 10, 2010

"Time to Sleep" to Appear on Mystonic Records Compilation

Glenn Page's "Doggy Lullaby" recently beat out a slew of up-and-coming artists to win a slot amongst the fine indie artists gracing an upcoming Mystonic Records compilation. Glenn thanks everyone who voted, while Chloe (his chihuahua) just yawns and goes back to sleep.

Visit Mystonic Records here!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Reflections on Songwriting, #2: Destroy All Instruments!!!

Okay, that title might be a little extreme, even though I know a lot of people would like me to destroy MY instruments, but there is a certain wisdom to be found in those words. In fact, it reminds me of some of the best songwriting advice I ever heard, which came from none other than Barry Gibb of The Bee Gees. (Not directly, mind you, it's not like Barry and I sit around shooting the sh*t about how to groom your chest hair, or anything.)

Now, I know some people might scoff at The Bee Gees for their disco tunes, but those people are sorely misguided because The Bee Gees are, in fact, extremely gifted songwriters who have written some of the most diverse, enduring and popular tunes of the last 40 plus years. Not only that, they can wear the sh*t out of white pants suits.

Anyway, what Barry said, and I agree with from personal experience, is that songwriters should, from time to time, write away from their instruments. What this means is it's a good idea to get away from your favorite composing tool and try to come up with melodies, rhythms, and harmonies in your head, if possible.

While this may sound difficult - especially if you're in the early stages of songwriting - it does help to free you up from learned or ingrained patterns of behavior and keeps you from falling into a rut. For example, if you write on the piano, you may find yourself always starting with an a minor chord and then going to a G major chord immediately after. If you write in your head, you may surprise yourself and shift to a g minor chord or something equally adventurous. Or, you might do six bars of a melody before changing the harmony, instead of your usual four or two.

Similarly, you can try writing on a different instrument than you're accustomed, if you are able to do so. Hell, sometimes it's more exciting to write on another instrument that you DON'T know how to play because it often takes you places you would never go once you get a little theory in you.

So try stepping away from your instrument to write; don't let it be a songwriting crutch. Try writing in your head riding the bus to work one day or late at night lying in bed (quietly of course, so you don't disturb your significant other). You may actually surprise yourself and come up with something innovative that you really like. Plus, you can always go back to your instrument of choice and fill in the blanks if you get stuck. That is, unless you took the first line of this blog to heart and threw your guitar in the fireplace or something...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Coffee Grinds, Part 3

* It's rumored that there is actually a man in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who DOESN'T like Sara Lee. However, sources say he died last week under "mysterious" circumstances involving 784 pounds of icing and a cake beater.

* It's official: There are now more FB "fan pages" (or "like" pages) than there are protons in the known universe. I think even "I like to mix my shampoo with water to get more out of the bottle" has a page. (I'm afraid to check.)

* Speaking of Facebook, I think we should have "like" and "dislike" buttons in real life. "Hi, would you like to go out with me?" DISLIKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! "Hi, would you mind working a few extra hours tonight?" DISLIKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

* Here's a tip: Whenever you see excessive question marks in a youtube video title (e.g., "Hot chick makes out with my girlfriend??"), the answer is always a resounding "NO - she didn't."

* I was watching Paul McCartney playing at the White House on TV last night, and I was thinking that for every single song in the Beatles catalog, there's a band who built a whiole career out of imitating that ONE SONG.

* I'm like "The Situation" on "Jersey Shore" - from now on, I want to be called "The Predicament" because my feet are "the predicament." (Hell, it makes as much sense as naming yourself "The Situation" after your abs.)

* Do you think that when the guitarist playing on the "Law and Order Theme" plays the slinky, BEYOOOOON-BEEEEEHHHHHNNNN part that his face get all scrunched up and contorted - you know, the "blues" face?

* I cursed one candle rather than light the darkness.

* is one step away from coming to your house and begging you to log on to their site.

* I really think that Taco Bell should streamline things and just have you order based on what kind of bathroom experience you're going to have 6 hours after you eat. "Let's see - I'll have one 'porcelain roller coaster' ... and uh, let me have a '5-flusher Fiesta'... and, hmmmm. OH! I'll also take a side order of 'OH MY GOD, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!' and let my wife have an 'Are you all right in there?' special. No, that'll be all... thanks!"

* Someone tell Jesus to stop eating all the damn Doritos. I don't care if he can heal the blind, they're my damn Doritos.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

BP's All-New Top Secret Slogans and Ad Campaigns!

In the wake of the massive oil leak in the gulf, we here at NOANBS were fortunate enough to get our hands on top secret BP documents itemizing some of the slogans and ad campaigns the company is reviewing for a forthcoming bid to "clean up" their image. Which one they'll choose is still kinda murky, so here's the whole lot of 'em. Check 'em and tell us what you think while we go and wash the oil off our hands.

* BP - We're not evil, just kinda clueless.

* BP - Scary? This ain't scary. Think about the shark from "Jaws." Now THAT shit is scary.

* BP - Why travel? We're bringing the "Black Sea" to YOU!

* BP - Remember, for pelicans, swimming in oily sludge is kinda like Jello wrestling. Think of it as "Pelican Spring Break."

* BP - We didn't want to have to tell you this, but we're actually trying to kill a ferocious sea monster.

* BP - Keeping the "evil corporation" stereotype alive in ALL your favorite Hollywood movies!

* BP - Shit, can the moon just blow up or something, so we can get off the front page already?

* BP - ...Even a Paris Hilton wardrobe malfunction would bump us to page 8 or so.

* BP - Seriously, we'll take a Larry King nip slip at this point.

* BP - Doing our part to make the Book of Revelations seem less silly everyday.

* BP - Hang on, this is the Book of Revelations? I thought it was our corporate manual...

* BP - Yes, we DO care about the "little people." You know, the ones who only make like 500k a year.

* BP - Hey, we're British! We've got those cool accents and we brought you "Dr. Who" and Emma Peel - that should count for something, right? RIGHT?

* BP - We are so f*cked.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

New Social Networking Improvements from FateBook

Important: This is a social networking alert, brought to you by the good folks at FateBook.

Great news guys. Starting today, for your increased convenience, we here at FateBook will be sending your Social Security number, a photocopy of your driver's license, close ups of that identifying birthmark, and the current addresses of your last four lovers to the owners of any websites you happen to visit, as well as all the people who have visited those sites in the last 6 years and their yorkshire terriers.

We will also be automatically forwarding all incriminating photos (online or not) of you getting inebriated to any and all prospective employers, so they can see what a fun-loving person you are. Hell, in fact, any sites you just THINK about clicking on are gonna get your info.

We hope these ongoing "tweaks" will streamline and enrich your FB experience. If you want to be a little bitch and opt out of these defaults, simply go to "settings" then punch "options," before clicking on the smaller-than-a proton "opt out" tab and the "I'm a little bitch" button.

Then, frantically un-click as many of the 8,475 boxes as you possibly can before your PC freezes up (conveniently) and you have to try and re-do the whole damn thing, only so we can override your selections anyway when we roll out the next batch of privacy invas--- er, improvements.

Remember, our goal here at Fatebook is to facilitate your online experience and make it more rewarding for YOU! (while trying to figure out some damn way to make this furshlugginer thing profitable already - Krist! You think we give a crap you just ate a ham on rye sandwich???)

Sincerely,  FateBook

(P.S. Click here to tell us how much you "like" these improvements!)

(P.P.S. Come on, you KNOW we're gonna get that info somehow - why don't you just give in now and make it easy on all of us?)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Chat with Songwriter/Musician Andy J. Gallagher

Borrowed from our sister site, Tune Tipster

If you're one of the many who've completely given up on rock and roll, truly convinced that the days of aggressive but melodic songcraft are well behind us, then I strongly recommend you check out Andy J. Gallagher.

Weaned on a well-balanced diet of 70's glam and punk rock, Mr. Gallagher, armed only with his new CD, "Helicopter, Dolphin, Submarine," (out now on Waga Waga Records) seems hell-bent on rescuing the masses from whatever boring band your hipster friends are all raving about this month.

Tune Tipster was fortunate enough to land this short Q&A with the up and coming rocker, who graciously allowed us to pick his brain about songwriting, recording, and how David Bowie keeps nicking all the best ideas.

TT: Hello sir! Very nice to speak to you. We've been listening to your music for months and enjoying it immensely.

A: Cool, cool. Thanks for your support.

TT: The first thing I'd like to ask, does songwriting come easy to you, or is it hard work?

Andy: Songwriting, it comes easy to you at times, other times i just can't do it. I seem to go in 3 song spurts; in two days I sat down and wrote "The Rocks," "Faster and Faster," and "Another Craze."

TT: And what's the quickest you've ever written a song?

Andy: The quickest songs I've ever written are "Helicopter, Dolphin, Submarine" and "Faster and Faster." They both took roughly ten minutes. For "Helicopter, Dolphin, Submarine," I maybe actually had to add lyrics later on - I was singing the same verse twice - but the song was pretty much in place and I just added the lyrics later on.

TT: What was the particular inspiration for the title track, "Helicopter, Dolphin, Submarine"?

Andy: I wrote HDS at a flat in the west end of London. I was fairly drunk one night, strumming around on an acoustic guitar and I had this melody in my head and I couldn't remember if it was a Radiohead melody or not...and I decided it wasn't so I wrote a song around it! That was that; it just went together simply.

TT: That is annoying when you think you've written someone else's song.

Andy: I've done that millions of times. Anything Ray Davies writes, I've written four times.

TT: (Laughs) You always, think, "OH I've GOT IT! I've got   
the biggest song of all time!" and then you think, "Oh...Ray beat me to it."

Andy: By about 40 years or so... it's kind of

TT: Bastard!

Andy: (Laughs) Indeed. David Bowie normally beats me. Another one of my best ideas turned out to be a section of a Bowie song from "Hunky Dory" or something... They get kind of ingrained, don't they?

TT: Which brings me to the next thing I was going to ask: If you were pushed into a corner and had to pick one songwriting hero who would it be?

Andy: I really, really, REALLY like - from your neck of the woods - the Ramones. They're probably my all time favorite band. Dee Dee Ramone was obviously the main songwriter, and Joey wrote some as well. My favorite ARTIST is David Bowie, but I also like Lou Reed, from the Velvet Underground through to maybe the Berlin album... Favorite all-time songwriter if I had to name one... (pauses) David Bowie.

TT: I can definitely hear how you mix those influences. There's an intellectual leaning to the lyrics, but you still have the primal quality of someone like the Ramones...

Andy: When I originally wrote "Faster and Faster" it was a lot slower... It was going to be the main track from MY "Low" (David Bowie) album. So I gave it to my drummer, and by the time he was done revving it up, there was no chance it was gonna be on "Low." It was gonna be on "Rocket to Russia" (Ramones) instead!      

TT: I would imagine the arrangements change a lot from when you start to the finished product. You worked with Roman Jugg (former guitarist/keyboardist of the Damned) for this album, were there any situations where he wanted to change the arrangement of a song, or...?

A: When you let someone like Roman produce you, you've got to let him produce you. Whatever they say they want to do, however much you think, "That's gonna ruin my song!" you have to let them try and do it. And I think Roman has some real flashes of genius in terms of the structures. For example, in "Something Else" there was a whole load of choruses going on at the end. And he said, "Look, you need to get rid of those, 'cause it's going on too long." He took 'em out, and just threw in a key change... originally the outro was in b minor and he changed it to e minor and then cut about a minute off the song. I think that arrangement just made the song work. Also, Roman co-wrote "The Men in Suits." The little "A" bit, the lead guitar bit, was just a whole key change... that's his. He wrote that. And while that doesn't make the song necessarily, it really lifts the song at a crucial moment. Some of the stuff Roman told me… Roman's a very, very clever man. You don't spend 10 years in the Damned and not learn anything, do you?

TT: I would think not. Were there any other songs you had to streamline for the album?

A: The only song anything came off in terms of length was "Something Else." Everything else is as I write it. When I'm writing, I've got to say what I've got to say, and once I've said it, there's no point in saying anything else. The song's finished. If you look at "Faster and Faster" for example, it's one minute and 28 seconds, and yet, it's got 4 verses and a lead break. I mean, how much more can you cram into a song? I don't get all this... like Fleetwood Mac... going on for 25 minutes stuff. That's not for me for me. I'm probably not a competent enough musician to do that anyway.

TT: Well, I don't know about that! The last thing I want to ask you is, are you ever surprised by which songs connect with people? Was there ever one that you loved that didn't really resonate with people, or vice versa, something that you said, "Oh, this isn't the best thing I've ever written" and people went gaga over it?

A: Normally, MY favorite song is the last song I wrote. I play it for people and go, "I want you to hear this! I've just re-invented rock and roll!" And they listen and go, "No, that's rubbish, Andy. It's terrible! Get back to the drawing board!" (Laughs) When [I] VERY first hear them, [I] think, "That's amazing!" …There's such a long period between when you actually record the songs to when you actually get the physical CD that by the time you listen to them you're kind of underwhelmed. When you get the finished version, you're kind of not happy with it, because you had this idea in your head of how it's going to sound. But then you get the enthusiasm of people that are hearing them maybe for the first time, and people tell me how wonderful this song is or how cool that song is, rather than me telling THEM which is how it starts. When I write 'em, I tell everyone else how cool they are, and then six months down the road when they're finally ready people tell me how cool they are!

TT: After playing it so many times I would imagine it's hard to be objective about anything.

A: Yeah. My favorite song on the album changes from day to day. I don't listen to it every day, but whenever I listen, I've had a different favorite song. Probably the one song that is most surprising is "The Brightest Star." That's my drummer's favorite song, and I thought it was kind of weak, that one. As you know, my drummer's quite a powerful drummer...

TT: And that song is more ballad-like.

A: Yeah, and that's his favorite song! I kinda prefer the more uptempo ones.

TT: So what would your favorite be right now?

A: There's always two…"Faster and Faster" or "The Men in Suits."

TT: Nice. I see you're playing gigs through May, so hopefully some of our readers will get a chance to hear those tracks live. Well, we really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us, Andy, and best of luck with the album. Have a great night.

A: And you too mate. Thanks very much.

Check out Andy J. Gallagher's website by clicking here!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Reflections on Songwriting, #1: Chatting Up a Bird, AKA The Ray Davies Songwriting Method

Whenever I'm working on one of my songs I'm often reminded of the way Ray Davies of the Kinks described his first major hit, "You Really Got Me." On more than one occasion he has likened the structure of "You Really Got Me" to the way someone tries to "chat up" a woman (or man) in a club or bar.

What did the head Kink mean by that? Well, simply put, when it comes to pop music, you quite often only have two or three minutes (if you're lucky!) to make a good impression on the listener, and you damn well better have a GREAT opening line.

That is exactly what "You Really Got Me" has - a punchy opening riff that demands your attention and makes you curious about what's coming next! Think of it as meeting an attractive member of the opposite sex and starting off with a great joke. You wouldn't launch into a long, rambling tale about where you grew up and how your parents didn't love you enough. That would be crazy!

There will be plenty of time for deep stories LATER if everything goes well. The same goes for songwriting, metaphorically speaking. If you have a song with a long, moody two-minute intro that you passionately feel needs to be heard, you can put it on your first full-length effort, because whoever's listening is probably already interested in what you have to say. (Just like your wife has to listen to all your ceaseless rambling about bullsh*t like your boss at work. She's trapped!)

However, when you're a relative unknown, you want to grab people's attention quick and give them a reason to STICK AROUND for the deeper stuff. And none of this is meant to suggest your "opening line" has to be goofy, shallow, slick, or stupid. There are many simple, direct jokes (and many simple, direct musical hooks) which belie their depth and hint at greater complexity to come. That's the type of opening salvo you want to strive for: something that "really gets" the listener going and hungry for more.

But you gotta get someone's attention first.

Friday, March 5, 2010

What's on the Menu?

Yesterday, a co-worker handed me a glossy take-out menu for the "healthy" cafe across the street from our office. The place has all kinds of low calorie dishes, like salads and grilled chicken. How thoughtful! I really appreciated the gesture, because now I have something colorful to pour french fries on that won't let grease seep through to my desk.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Coffee Grinds, Part 2

Some more tasty sludge scraped from the bottom of our constantly brewing blog-POTS.

• The internet: Helping local a-holes be globally annoying for over 15 years.

• I keep wondering about the street preachers handing out pamphlets and yelling incoherent gibberish at me as I walk through the subways. It seems like such an inefficient use of their time. What is the cost-benefit ratio of this behavior? Does anyone ever really stop dead in their tracks and go, "You know, that's actually a pretty good point - the one about how I'm going to burn for eternity because I wear neckties."

• Somewhere along the line I went from being "young" to being "relatively young." Boy, what a cop out that is, huhn? Anything can be "relatively" young. My great grandfather is "relatively young" when compared an old dead guy. Hell, even Larry King is "relatively young" when compared to, oh, I don't know, the sun.

• I love when the major networks start a news segment by saying things like, "People are talking about Tiger Woods a lot today…" This is basically shorthand for, "WE'RE talking about Tiger Woods a lot today, because it got easy ratings last time, and we're gonna keep talking about Tiger Woods so you can't possibly think too hard about stuff that really matters." It's also a great way of letting yourself off the hook for shirking your journalistic standards so you can pander to the lowest common denominator. Hell, people are "TALKING ABOUT IT!!!!" They HAVE to cover it, don't they? Well... don't they?

• I heard recently that Bernie Madoff was on suicide watch because he's "depressed" in prison. And LORD KNOWS we wouldn't want anyone to be depressed in prison.

• I have lots of idiosyncratic behaviors. For example, I like to listen to crappy songs on the radio while my car is warming up. Then, after the vehicle is nice and toasty, I turn on my favorite CD or my favorite song. Weird, huhn?

• I don't care if you're texting, first person in the elevator pushes the button! I ain't your "lift" operator, d-bag.

• Life's way too short for regrets. So be sure to jam in as many as you can.

• If you really took to heart every warning the nightly news gives you about "the thing in your medicine cabinet that might kill you" or the "one thing you need to know about car safety" you'd lose your freakin' mind. At a certain point, I'm gonna have to live on the edge and take a chance that the "secret killer" under my bed is gonna do me in, if only for the sake of my sanity.

• The internet has effectively turned "discuss" into "dis" and "cuss."

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Comics That Time Forgot #2

Here's one from 1993 or so, when "Star Trek: The Next Generation" was near the height of its popularity. God forbid I use a ruler for the borders, right?


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Comics That Time Forgot #1

I was rooting around in my old papers this weekend and I came across some comic strips I had drawn in the early to mid 90's. Some of them were funnier than others, but unfortunately many of my favorites also contained a good number of inside jokes. So, in the interest of accessibility, I decided to post a couple of the more "audience friendly" strips online. Maybe eventually I'll post some of the more esoteric stuff as well, or excerpts from them, if people are curious enough.

The strip below was originally envisioned as an ongoing strip with me and my buddy Jon commenting on various tv programs. Notice the obvious Reg Smythe ("Andy Capp") and Don Martin (Mad Magazine) influence on the characters, most notably exemplified by the large, bulbous noses. There's also a touch of Gary Trudeau in the "watching tv" format and static scenery, even though I'm not a big Doonesbury fan.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

5 Things Not to Talk About on a First Date


• Ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriend

• Views on marriage

• Best way to cover up smell of decomposing corpses

• Most effective treatment for an Abraham-Lincoln-shaped rash which started out as a young Abe, but is now sporting the full top hat and beard combo

• Politics

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Original Song Demo: "Tell Me" by Glenn (Featuring Chloe)

Hey, it's a "new" demo from Glenn Page Music! This time Glenn goes into the vaults and pulls out a little ditty called "Tell Me." This baby goes back to 2000 or so, and features some blood-curdling falsetto notes that would make Roy Orbison jump out of his grave and come after Glenn with a machete. (Thank goodness he's dead and all!) Meanwhile, Chloe the Chihuahua once again provides excellent accompaniment on the "silenceaphone," a very rare and small norwegian wind instrument.

Listen and watch here:

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Retro-Cool: How Marketing and Advertising Send You on a Bad Trip, Daddy-o

Yes, the retro marketing craze continues unabated! We as a culture continue to concede that no one has come up with any good original ideas in the last, oh, 20 years or so, and as a result nostalgia for stuff we barely had time to forget is currently all the rage.

Take, for example, "Pepsi Throwback," which Pepsico is currently offering for a limited time only (unless it makes boatloads of money, I'm sure). It features the "old school" Pepsi logo and is made with REAL honest-to-goodness sugar! Woo-hoo! Man, you know it's a sad state of affairs when we're nostalgic for the good ol' days when we were only being poisoned with diabetes-inflicting cane/beet sugar, as opposed to the super-high-octane super-concentrated high-fructose corn syrup that infuses everything now.

That's right folks! Hop in our time machine and travel with Pepsico as they "throw you back" (isn't that something you do with a bad fish?) into the mists of yesteryear and rot your teeth the old-fashioned way! Yes, it was a simpler time back then, when no one dared to challenge their corporate masters' concern for the public's "well-being."*

More importantly, I think this trend speaks to a pervasive human weakness - one from which I am sadly not immune. That is, our tendency to romanticize the past regardless of how crappy that past may have actually been. It seems that things we associate with a younger, more innocent time (perhaps a healthier and safer time as well) always end up enshrouded in a glaze of rose-colored nostalgia, regardless of the truth of the situation. It matters not that we eventually learn Pepsi is dreadfully bad for us (or that our favorite TV show actually sucked, or our favorite music is sub-par). The important thing is we were awash in those pop culture symbols at a key point in our development, and hence we still have positive feelings for them.

Most well-socialized Americans will always have a strong affection for SOME token of consumer culture. We try to distance ourselves from these feelings as we get older by using intellectual weapons like irony, but their hold on us will always remain pretty powerful. Coca-Cola, for example, has always trounced Pepsi around the holidays because of the strong connotations Coke has forged between holiday imagery and the sugary beverage.

This is what makes corporate America so insidious and disingenuous: they try to downplay the role of branding and consumer culture in our lives (especially when someone calls them to task on their questionable marketing practices), but not only are they fully aware of the seductive power they wield, they're actively COUNTING on that power in lieu of being allowed to physically force us into buying stuff! You think they spend billions of dollars on PR, marketing and advertising every year because they think they CAN'T unduly influence us?

In other words, Pepsi (as well as the filmmakers who plunder bad TV shows, or the music exec's who keep re-selling us the same music in different packages) know exactly what they're doing when they try to push our nostalgia buttons; they're exploiting an evolutionary glitch that bestows virtue upon whatever sneakers we were wearing the night we first got laid (or whatever).

Even worse, we now live in a "savvy post-modern era" so marketers feel compelled to try and convince us that they're all "in" on the joke by using irony and self-awareness in the same way we do. It's almost like they're saying, "Haha! Yeah, we know this stuff is cheesy crap, but don't you love it? Haha! 20 dollars, please." Hell, as long as we keep buying whatever junk they toss our way they don't really care how we relate to it psychologically.

A particularly egregious example of this trend is the "Enzyte" (male enhancement) commercial. Although it is a recent product, the company's commercial exhibits the worst traits of Madison Avenue's many attempts to co-opt both nostalgia and post-modernism. Ostensibly a spoof of old-time advertising, television, and 50's "lifestyles", the makers of this commercial clearly missed an important lesson: Irony originally gained popularity in the mainstream as a means of subverting, questioning and commenting on the crap our culture constantly feeds us. (And let's not even get started on the type of vanity and insecurity that an ad like this is pandering to in the first place.)

Irony and self-awareness are used to greatest effect when someone is satirizing or undermining some aspect of the subject at hand, not when they're trying really hard to promote that thing! In other words, an exaggerated, cutesy spoof of 50's media works better as a critique of the messages media sends us; why the hell would someone want to buy a product from a commercial that effectively reminds us advertising can't be trusted and needs to be subverted?**

Simply stated, the answer is that all this stuff is just too overwhelming for any of us to think about on a regular basis. Corporate America hopes we'll just be so exhausted by them that we'll "go with the flow" just for the sake of our own sanity. The marketers' goal is to tap into the zeitgeist and then expertly exploit it; they're hoping they can hit a few of the "right notes" (be it nostalgia, irony, self-parody or whatever) and that'll be enough to send us scurrying for the malls. Unfortunately, it seems to work more often than not.

Excuse me one second.... what's that???? Target is selling Pac-Man pajamas??? COOL!!!!!!!!***


*And by the way, "natural sugar"? Yeah, I know sugar is a natural ingredient, but the connotation of the word "natural" is that it carries some kind of wholesome-y goodness. Is Pepsi health food now? Not sure if belting back 40 grams of the sweet stuff in one sitting really fits the bill of "healthy." I wonder if this is Pepsi's token attempt at "going green" for the year 2010? After all, corporate America has never witnessed a movement they didn't see fit to exploit.

** I'm aware the makers of Enzyte would probably argue their ad is merely a playful "parody" or "affectionate homage" designed to get idiots like me talking. Well, parody or not, the commercial is poking fun at a long-gone era, and as such, it reminds us - however unwittingly - that pop culture and the media should always be viewed with a suspicious eye.

***What a lame cop-out ending. Wakka-wakka, game over.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bed Bugged (Or: I Survived My Sleep Study, and All I Got Is This Lousy CPAP Machine)

So I went for a sleep study last week. For those of you who don't know what a sleep study is, you may be surprised to learn that it's not the term used to describe my old method of studying back in college (that is, passing out with my face in the textbook at 5am the night before an exam and hoping the material will somehow magically seep into my brain via osmosis).

No, a "sleep study" is when you're having trouble sleeping properly (or having trouble staying awake during the day without mainlining lattes) and someone decides the best way to cure this is to glue cumbersome electrodes and wires to your every appendage, then stick you in an unfamiliar bed and watch you all night with an infrared camera ala' Ted Levine stalking Jodie Foster in "Silence of the Lambs." In this way, they can observe you in your "natural" sleep state and hopefully figure out what-the-freak your problem is.

Needless to say, this approach doesn't generate the most, er, "organic" results. I can be quite nervous and restless to begin with, and it doesn't exactly send me spiraling into a state of Calgon-like zen when there's an unknown member of the female persuasion peering at my supine form and drooling cake-hole all night. Krist, I have a hard enough time with people looking at me in the daytime after I've primped myself obsessively for hours on end; there's no way I'm going to chill out while being scrutinized on a bed-sized microscope slide overnight.

At any rate, I reluctantly went for my sleep study, where the technician hooked me up to about a thousand color-coded wires and a hundred various devices that perform god-knows-what to tell them who-the-hell-knows about my sleep patterns. (Stop me if I get too technical at any point.) In fact, I had so much damn apparatus draped over me that I started to feel like a Borg on Star Trek, but without all the bad-ass leather or ability to assimilate alien races. Now if only I could have teleported the hell out of there like they do on Star Trek, I would have been golden.

No such luck! She finished hooking up my jumper cables and I managed to clamber into my appointed lair for the evening. At this point, the sleep technician - let's call her "the sleep technician" - vanished into an adjoining room, leaving me to contemplate if her boyfriend was going to show up so they could spend the evening watching movies, making out, and occasionally taking a break to laugh at the idiot on the monitor. However, that thought didn't have a chance to fully form because her voice suddenly filled the room, blaring out at me from a set of hidden speakers like a very aggressive McDonald's drive-through clerk. "ARE YOU OKAY IN THERE????" she queried, effectively boosting my systolic blood pressure well into the triple-digits and leading me to wonder if they were getting kickbacks from the cardiologist next door.

After a series of "calibrating" procedures - code word for "Simon Says" with breathing, coughing and snoring sounds - I was told it's "time to go to sleep." Well, I'm glad they cleared that up; I thought the purpose of a SLEEP STUDY was to play a little shuffleboard with the staff. Regardless, I did my best to dutifully "go to sleep," as requested.

As I lay there all kinds of thoughts plagued me: What if I scratch my crotch in my sleep? It could happen you know - I can't control where and when an itch will strike. I'd be half-asleep and people would be watching! I could easily forget my usual amount of discretion and end up doing something pretty unseemly. Normally, during the day, I just yell "LOOK! IT'S BALKI FROM PERFECT STRANGERS!" and then give myself a good scratch in the ensuing chaos. Unfortunately, I knew that wouldn't really work in this situation. (Or would it?)

Even worse, I thought, what if I were to break wind in my sleep? Jeezuz Krist, the horror! Mind you, this isn't normally an issue for me, but with all the stress I was under… well, anything could happen. I wondered just HOW sensitive the electrodes all over my body were; would I end up blowing out some poor lab tech's ear drums with one ill-timed toot? What if she turns up the monitor at the precise wrong moment; would it be like a sonic boom going off in her headphones? Would she run from the lab screaming and clutching the sides of her head, then burst through the emergency exit and fall to her knees in the freshly fallen snow? You gotta think about this kind of stuff, folks.

Despite my nagging concerns, I did manage to eventually drift off to sleep. And, based on the 14 minutes or so I slept (by my generous estimation), I was informed the next morning that I needed to start using a "CPAP" machine, or what's commonly referred to in the literature as a "vacuum cleaner on your face." I was actually really happy to receive this news, because, as my closest friends know, it's always been my lifelong ambition to look like I just stepped off the cover of Black Sabbath's "Never Say Die" album.

In short, the function of the CPAP machine, which comes with a long tube and a face mask you wear to bed every night, is to make you look both extremely frightening AND incredibly ridiculous to your mate at the SAME TIME, which is no small feat. (Oh yeah, it's also supposed to help you breathe better, or something.) So I've been making a good faith effort to use this, er, contraption, but so far, the results have been less than stellar. It's quite discouraging really; I mean, what the hell is wrong with me!??! I can't even sleep right?!!? Man, you know you're really a failure when you can't even lie down and be unconscious correctly.

But I won't go gently into the night! I'm going to press on with the CPAP machine a little while longer, Snuffleupagus comparisons be damned. Maybe after a few more nights, I'll get the hang of this whole "sleeping" thing and begin to reap the benefits of my unwieldy bedside companion. Rest assured, I'll probably let you know how it goes, provided I don't dream the air tube is a large boa constrictor and wake up screaming and flailing, inadvertantly tangling the tube around my neck, and then crashing backwards through a second story window so they can find me dangling with my feet 4 inches off the ground the next morning. (What are the odds of that, anyway? Gotta be at least 10 to 1.)

In the meantime, take my advice: If you're gonna have a sleep study, don't eat Mexican food for dinner that night.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

2010: I Give Up

Hey, we all know there's no better way to kick off a new year than immediately looking back at the past and coasting on your past accomplishments. Why go out and create something new, vital, and topical when you can just as easily plunder the archives, then punch out early and go down a cold one? With that in mind, we proudly present the 1995 classic "Jerry's Dead," by Jonathan Shaloum and featuring at least one familiar face...