Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Best Thing You Think Is A Number But Is Not.

This post will appear in my upcoming book Look How Smart I Think I Am.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Best Fantasy World To Live In

This post will appear in my upcoming book "Up" was "Macaroni."

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Monday, April 28, 2008

The Best Queen Song

I had to take The Boy out to practice driving yesterday. He's just turned 16 and will be getting his license soon and it falls on me to be the one to teach him that you have to stop at a red light even when a right turn on red is allowed. You would think that it would fall on the driver's education class to teach him that, but, there you go.

To distract me from impending doom, I mentioned to The Boy as we were driving that this week I wanted to get some "Best of Everythings" for letters I hadn't used yet -- Q, X, and Z. So I said to him, "Give me some things that start with Q." Here is the entire list The Boy gave me, in order and verbatim:

quails
Quakers
"Quaker Steak & Lube."
Quitters, like people who quit smoking.
Queen
Quarts
Quilts
Quench
Thirst quenchers.
"Swing Heil," like they said in the movie "Swing Kids" with Christian Bale.
"Quinn Gray, the best backup quarterback on the Jaguars."

He then had one more thing to add to the list, and he added it like this:

The Boy: That famous Quincy guy.
Me: Quincy?
The Boy: No.
Me: Quincy Jones?
The Boy: No. No. The one that was president. Quincy Adams.
Me: John Quincy Adams?
The Boy: Yeah.

I liked that in listing things that start with "Q" The Boy did not feel bound to actually list things that start with "Q." You can't teach that kind of creative thinking. Just ask his teachers. Or maybe you shouldn't ask his teachers, since they're responsible for him thinking the president was named Quincy Adams.

I gave serious consideration to going with "Quakers." But what are they The Best at? Being on oatmeal boxes? So I picked out of that list Queen, and decided that I'd pick The Best Queen Song for you. And I also decided that it was not going to be "Bohemian Rhapsody" because that song has been overplayed since "Wayne's World." In fact, as I mulled over the songs that could qualify, I rejected most of them quickly and for easy reasons:

We Will Rock You? Overplayed. We Are The Champions? Same, plus, pleh. All Dead, All Dead? Too depressing. Fat-Bottomed Girls? Well, I thought about that, but rejected it for the same reason I rejected Bicycle Race -- Queen seems to be trying a bit too hard on those to be campy and fun and cool, and the reference to "Vietnam or Watergate" seems a bit dated in Bicycle Race. Same with the whole rest of that era.

I also rejected Another One Bites The Dust for two reasons: 1. I used to rollerskate to it at "Skate World" and 2. "Weird Al" parodied it. And I rejected all the rest that didn't make the short list because most of them I've never heard and if I've never heard them they're not very good. Sorry, but that's the way it is. If Queen, or Queen fans, wanted me to consider them, they should have made sure I listened to them before today. I can't be responsible for their lack of diligence.

That left me with the short list: Don't Stop Me Now, A Kind of Magic, I Want To Break Free and Radio Ga-Ga.

Let's look at each of them. Here's Don't Stop Me Now:



Plusses: It was in Shaun of the Dead, which was an awesome movie. Plus it's fast and if you put it on your "running" playlist on your iPod and it comes on when you're getting to the end where you've got to get up that humongous hill, it might give you that little bit of adrenaline that you need. (Common People by William Shatner is also good for that, but I digress.) And it's got that middle part with the drums and chanting and then it goes crazy.

Minuses: It was in Shaun of the Dead, which means a bunch of people know it who aren't really Queen fans, and that sort of waters it down. Posers. And what does it mean that Freddy Mercury wants to make supersonic men and women out of us? Not clear.

Next, consider A Kind of Magic:



Plusses: That video is really kind of awesome. Shouldn't Queen get credit for that? The beagle at 2:50 looks a lot like a beagle I had named "Sam." We had to give him away because he couldn't be housebroken. That alligator also is phenomenal. (It's an alligator because of the nose, you know.

Minuses: Isn't this song kind of Dungeons & Dragons-y? Also, Freddy asks Is this a kind of magic? but then says There can be only one. So if there's only one kind of magic, then the song should be The Kind of Magic.

On to I Want To Break Free.




Plusses: Listen to that guitar midway through. That's great. That's so un-Queen-like that it really sets you back. The song as a whole is really very stirring, isn't it? Listen to this the day that you're going to go in and tell your boss it's either a raise or you walk, dammit.

Minuses: Or, don't. Because as I listen to it more and more, I think it's about leaving someone you're living with and going off with a new love. But being broken up about it because the life he's got is pretty comfortable now. So you might go in to ask for a raise and instead break up your happy family for what turns out to be a passing fancy. Think this through! Take your time! Don't make major life decisions in the course of three minutes of guitar and synthesizer.

And, finally, Radio Ga-Ga.


Plusses: I chose that video for a reason. Did you see that? Freddy and Queen made the entire freakin' world rock. They were all clapping along and doing every single thing Freddy asked them to. They even at the end repeated his "Ay-oh" chants and those weren't even part of the song -- they tried the yodel. You kids think your "Maroon 5" and 50-Cents are stars and all, but they don't have one-one-billionth the charisma and magnetism and talent that Freddy Mercury demonstrated at Live Aid with this song.

And they did it to a song that has the words ga-ga right in the title. Was that supposed to be a prank on us? Rock stars in the 70s and 80s were always lamenting how radio was dying and videos were taking over and otherwise writing odes to radio, but rarely did they rise to such a stirring, anthemic level as this -- the feeling and music combining to overcome what otherwise would be a kind of inane topic. This song made me care about radio, too.

Finally, let's give some credit for this rhyme: "Stick around, 'cause we might miss you/when we grow tired of all this visual."

Minuses: I can't find a single flaw with this song.

Radio Ga Ga hits all the marks you want from a Queen song: great guitar, anthemic chorus, weird topic, synthesizer, swelling crescendos of chords and emotions at the same time... when it comes to Queen, all you should want to hear is Radio Ga Ga.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Best Emotion That's So Lame It's Cool.

 This post has been removed and will appear in my upcoming book Look How Smart I Think I Am!

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The Best Celebrity Baby (Right Now): An Update and A New Vote!


Way way way back in 2006, I posted a nomination for The Best Celebrity Baby (Right Now) -- that latter part of the nomination inserted because, of course, there have always been celebrity babies and there always will be celebrity babies -- at least so long as the Angelina Jolie and the Spears sisters are around. Zing!

And, as we all know, I welcome reader input here -- you are always welcome to tell me just how correct I am, and you can also nominate your own Best in your own Category if you want.

Loyal reader "Anonymous" -- catchy name!-- didn't go that far, but did offer up a vote in support of Leni -- whose full name I believe is "Leni Klum Seal"

-- and who was picked not by me but by Sweetie, who doesn't even read The Best Of Everything. Still, I honor my commitments, and so here is Anonymous' vote in support of Leni as The Best Celebrity Baby Right Now:

Both little girls are extremely cute and will both grow up to be absolutely gorgeous (how can't they be with mums like theirs) but i think that Leni has to be the cutest and as she's getting older she's getting prettier. She looks just like her mum!

Thanks, Anonymous. Your nomination is now recorded over to the right, too, and you'll be automatically entered in the year-end drawing for a free t-shirt.

The rest of you-- get Nominatin'! And I'll leave you with Leni's Mom. For no apparent reason.



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Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Best Musical Instrument That's So Lame It's Cool

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Friday, April 18, 2008

The Best Comic Strip That's So Lame It's Cool.


I'm kind of cheating again here, because I've already picked one Comic Strip in a Best Category. But that was over two years ago, and also was only a one-panel comic, and also was long before I started Lame/Cool month, and it was long before I discovered "Buttersafe."

There are, as I've found out, a zillion webcomics out there. The Internet, so kind to aspiring writers like me, is also kind to aspiring cartoonists and has thrown open the door to those whose sense of humor is, simply put, awesome, but whose sense of humor, at the same time, is the kind of thing people would not expect to see in their morning papers. There is, I estimate, zero chance that "Buttersafe" will ever appear in a newspaper, and not just because its strips are unusually formatted and long, but also because its strips feature Skeleton Harvesters:

I stumbled onto Buttersafe, and immediately was drawn to it the way I'm drawn to other lame things -- and I immediately noted it as lame, because it's drawn weird and has a flat, strange sense of humor and features characters like "Saddest Turtle" and "Arbitrary Potato."



But, as with all the Lame/Cool things this month, Buttersafe makes that pirouette around The Coolness Continuum by simultaneously not caring how lame it is -- a hallmark of things that are cool -- and by at the same time being incredibly creative and cool by never ceasing to surprise you. I can't think of a single "Buttersafe" strip that ended the way I thought they would.

The strips, in fact, don't begin or continue or end the way you think they will; they take these random left turns continuously, yanking you around until you're somewhat dazed and lost and then, suddenly, it all blooms into perspective and is funny... but funny in a weird and haunting way that sticks with you and makes you email it to your wife, who will read one of them and then wonder why she married you and then probably not read any more of the comic strips you email her, even though she'll tell you she did.




Here's an example that encapsulates "Buttersafe"'s lame/coolness: in one comic strip, the artist manages to turn an offering of watermelon into a parody of an action movie with a catch phrase and everything, and then manages to parody that by having it all -- well, I won't spoil it for you. Just click here to read it, then come back.


See what I mean? The art is not great, but it works. The humor is strange and meandering, but it works, too. The comic has no continuity, except that characters sometimes come back and the characters all seem to think that we recognize them, and that works, too.


I do have one complaint about "Buttersafe," though, and that is that "Buttersafe" has now given me entirely new nightmares. I have a secret, lingering, ongoing fear of spiders. The primary fear is that while I sleep, a spider will be walking along the ceiling and will be right above my mouth and will drop into my mouth while I sleep. But the spider-fear encompasses many other fears, from secretly worrying that I'll have a beehive hairdo and they'll move into it to wondering if every spider I meet is a Brown Recluse Spider which is waiting to kill me by making my skin rot off to even more exotic fears.

I'm not a wuss about it or anything -- I kill spiders. I hunt them down with a ferocity you can't imagine, something I have to do because if I see a spider and it gets away, I won't sleep that night. But I still don't like them. Just thinking about them makes my skin crawl.

So you can imagine how I felt when I saw this:



And now I have to worry about that, too.

Despite that, I'll give the nomination for Best Comic Strip That's So Lame It's Cool To Buttersafe, and here's why: Buttersafe has a character named "Arbitrary Potato." I wish to God I had thought up the concept of "Arbitrary Potato" because if I had, I'd be a millionaire. And if you don't understand why, then you'll never get it.


There are also: Nonfiction books about lame/cool topics., Or things like music that was brought back by the two greatest forces for social change in the world, Or things like movies your kids make you watch but which turn out to be pretty good because of the songs in them




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The Best Correction To The Correction Of A Lame Interpretation of A Song.


The controversy goes on! All the way back on Wednesday, I gave you "Come Sail Away" as The Best Plot Twist In A Song Which Makes A Lame Song Cool." I noted in that article that the angels/aliens maybe didn't take the guy with them because the singer says they climbed aboard their starships, not we climbed aboard.

Then, I corrected myself after having listened to the song again, and decided that in fact the singer explained that, no, he'd gone with the aliens, so everything was okay.

But then, I remembered that I'm never wrong, so I did some research -- research being Googling "Come Sail Away" lyrics. And this is what I found: nearly every website that I checked agreed with my original interpretation:

LyricsFreak.com says it's:

I thought that they were angels, but to my surprise
They climbed aboard their starship and headed for the skies
Singing come sail away, come sail away

So does Seeklyrics.com and LyricsDepot.

But, again: Sing365.com has it as "We," as does StLyrics, although they quote the Eric Cartman version for some reason.

So at this point, I have no choice but to throw it up to Dennis DeYoung, who no doubt is an avid reader of The Best of Everything. As of today, I have submitted an OFFICIAL TBOE QUERY to him via his website, asking him this: Dennis, did you or didn't you get on that starship and head for the skies?

We'll settle this for once and for all. Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Best Correction of A Lame Interpretation of A Song

 This post has been removed and will appear in my upcoming book Look How Smart I Think I Am!

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008