Tuesday, August 31, 2010

After considering the instrument, I'm still inclined to underrate it a bit. (The Ten Best Underrated Instruments, 3)

It's a MiniBest!

I was driving into work this morning, and mulling over two important thoughts.

First, I'd had an idea that I needed to write down, so I was waiting to hit a red light so that I could quick jot it down, and I'm not kidding you, I hit not a single red light in the seven mile drive into work. That led to the first thought, which was this: Could I fool the universe into never sending me a red light if every time I got in the car I just had a brilliant idea and decided to write it down as soon as I hit a red light?

The answer is, probably.

Second, the idea that I had and needed to write down was this: How does one become a professional triangle player? And is there such a thing? I've got the impression that there is such a thing, but why would there be? I've seen triangles, and even played one. It just makes one single note. That's it. One note. Hit it, it dings, and you're done.

So how can you be a professional triangle player? Do orchestras have someone like that? Or do they just have someone who's not really doing anything during that part of the song pick up the triangle and hit it. "Hey, Julia, the oboes have nothing to do in the second movement, so when I point at you, give that triangle a whack, would ya?"

It's a proven fact that every oboe player everywhere is named Julia, by the way.

So I googled "professional triangle player" and I found first, very first, a link to this site, which makes the amazingly improbable claim that the average salary for a professional triangle player is $56,000. If that's true (it's not, but bear with me) then I am immediately quitting my job because I've just found the single-least-stressful career ever.

The second result on that list was this site, which says that they need a triangle player for a band. But not just any old triangle player. They need a triangle player with these qualifications:

* Must be proficient in blues triangle and rock triangle styles
* Must be willing to step up and play triangle soloes. . in any key
* Triangle player must provide his/her own amp. (our last triangle player used one of my amps and blew out a cone.)

Okay, that's a joke, right? It has to be. Because that ad also includes this line: "No triangle divas need apply."

You've got to go read the whole site. Sadly, there's no contact information, because I seriously would quit my job and go on tour as a rock triangulist. Triangular? Triangulator?

Wikipedia, which is even less informative and helpful now that nobody is updating it anymore, says that the triangle was invented in the 16th century, but everyone says that about everything. Whatever it is people are talking about, when pressed for when it was invented, we just shrug and say "Around the 16th century." Like that lends it some heft or gravitas, that it was invented by peasants during the dark ages. That site also says that it's featured in Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1 (which was first written in the 16th century):

And that the triangle also was used in Queen's Killer Queen. Queen, of course, was a prominent 16th century prog-rock group, and if you listen to the song in this 16th-century video, you'll see that Wikipedia was (as usual) wrong; there's no triangle in it:

Even more fascinating, Wikipedia also claims that the largest orchestras feature an instrument called the "Wood Block." Why did my parents bother buying a piano?

But the importance of a triangle player cannot possibly be overstated... or can it? Witness this blog, in which a technology start-up post advises how to pay oneself for starting a business by demonstrating what appears to be an in-depth knowledge about orchestral pay structures:

You could think about it as, "From each according to her ability, to each according to his needs." But that doesn't get the full idea across. Here's a better analogy; In most professional orchestras, the triangle player makes as much money as the first violinist. You might pay more for a special visiting musician, but for the most part pay is even across the board. Because even if the triangle player plays a fraction of the amount of notes that the violinist, the triangle player must be as good as the first violinist, and work just as hard. In fact, the triangle player can afford to make fewer errors than the violinist, because she will be judged on playing less than ten notes, instead of hundreds.

Not only does that quote provide no source or reference whatsoever-- what's the basis for claiming that triangle players make the same as the lead violinist?-- but it also makes a logical misassumption, that being the premise that someone who plays only ten notes in a symphony can afford to make fewer mistakes simply because each mistake will be a larger percentage of the whole. While a triangle player's one mistake might be 10% of his output (I'm pretty sure most professional triangle players are men, and I apparently need not provide a source for that fact), the triangle itself is a hardly-noticed part of the orchestra, and if a triangle player comes in a little flat (how is that possible? It plays ONE NOTE!) I'm pretty sure people would notice that a little less than if a violinist makes whatever mistakes a violinist can make. (Using the wrong kind of dog hair on the bow? I'm not sure.)

But if you ARE looking to make $56,000 in a musical profession that according to a tech website has little to no margin for error, I suggest doing what every person does when making big important life-changing decisions: Learn what you need to know from a Youtube video. That's how I figured out how to light a basketball on fire and then dunk it from a trampoline, after all, and that's how you can learn to play triangle:

Seriously; I feel like I'm in Zoolander. Am I the only one who can tell that he's just playing the same note over and over? It's the exact same effect as if I tell you I'm going to play Stairway to Heaven on my armpit.

Aaron does teach you other things, like how to play long and short notes, and how to get some vibrato out of a triangle, which he says will give you a tremolo sound:

I think Aaron may be laughing all the way to the bank here.

In closing, I'd just like to pass along this video, called "Ein kleines Konzert für Triangel und Orchester" which, if I understand my German means "A concert for triangle and orchestra" or, possibly "Belgium is being invaded on October 3." It's pleasant sounding, anyway:

That band looking for a triangulist is "Y2Steve." Listen to Y2Steve's "Organ Grinder Monkey by clicking here."

Previous Instruments:

1. Tuba

2. Harp.

Friday, August 27, 2010

I challenge you to a harp duel! Tomorrow, noon sharp. Main Street. (The Ten Best Underated Instruments, 2)

About today's instrument, the harp, I began with questions:

1. Why do you tilt a harp to play it?
2. Can you rock out on a harp?
3. Why, if you google why do you tilt a harp to play it do most of the results relate to the harmonica, which need not be tilted to play, at least so far as I know, and I would know because when I was about 16 I bought a harmonica at the Corrao Music Store in Hartland and almost learned to play it.
4. Has someone recorded a version of Bohemian Rhapsody on the Harp?

And now I have some answers:

1. I don't know, because of that failure on Google's part to actually have valid results.
2. Yes:

3. See answer to number 1. Also: I was never very good on the harmonica.

4. Yes, and that is probably the crowning achievement of Western Society:

Also, in a different universe, Dueling Harps would be the coolest thing ever. It already is, in this universe. Check it out:

As an added bonus, here's one of the best, most upbeat, peppy, fun harp songs ever:

It's called Paraguari and it's by Marcelo Rojas and you can download it for free here.

Previous Instruments:

1. Tuba

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I never played the tuba, but I bet I'd have rocked it. (The Ten Best Underrated Instruments, 1)

It's a MiniBest!

When you're a kid, and your parents force you to take music lessons... or, if you were one of those kids who voluntarily chose to learn music... there are certain instruments that just get selected.

Everyone wants to play guitar, for example, because we think it'll make us into rock stars. It won't, or, at least, it won't for those of us who never really cared to practice all that much and got sort of stuck on Michael, Row The Boat Ashore, a song that never really attracted many groupies or record company execs in the first place.

But guitar, piano, and, to a lesser extent, trumpet, tend to be overly represented among the Forced Musical Youth... and what's overlooked are great instruments like the ten I'll present as being entirely underated.

The first one on the list? The tuba. Check out these performances:

The tuba is the fat-kid-who-wears-glasses of the instrument world (and, I think, most people picture that kid playing it, too.) Picked on, made fun of, ignored, and generally derided, but there's more to that kid than meets the eye. That kid is made of tougher stuff and is capable of more than you'd ever expected, and given some time, will knock your socks off and show just how cool he really is.

Wait... I'm still talking about tubas, right? And, yes, I was a fat kid who wore glasses. Why do you ask?

The Scariest Things, You Can't Imagine

The Scariest Things,
CAN'T Imagine,
a collection of macabre horror stories you'll never forget.

A shape-shifting demon torments children while their parents stand by. A widower haunted by the ghost of his wife tries to understand her requests. A baby stolen from his mother by gargoyles returns, full of hatred for the life he's led. A family of children raised by grave-robbing corpse stealers tries to discover a way out. An elderly man possesses the power of life and death in his retirement. These stories present images and people who will haunt your thoughts for a long time after you read them.

See a preview below, and click here to buy it on Lulu.com.

Look for it on your Kindle for $0.99!

Monday, August 23, 2010

It's not just me that says I'm a good writer!

Just Exactly How Life Looks, a collection of short stories, was recently called "funny to sad to a little strange," and includes the story "God Shrugged," which READING AT THE BEACH called "...an interesting take on the Crucifixion of Jesus, from a more modern day time, it was very good, but sad also."

Check out a preview below. Or read the Reading At The Beach review here.

Click here to buy Just Exactly How Life Looks at Lulu.com

Click here to buy Just Exactly How Life Looks on your Kindle.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Welcome Another TBOE Reader!

Yesterday morning, I posted The Best Way To Get A Paid Vacation, in which I noted that Hollywood's given up making movies, as such, and is simply using our ticket-and-popcorn money to pay for celebrity vacations.

Then, last night, after watching the final episode of Lost season 5, and not being able to get to sleep right away, I watched The Daily Show, where I was treated to comedian, and obvious TBOE reader, Lewis Black, ranting for several minutes in an unfunny way about Eat, Pray, Love.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Back in Black - Eat, Pray, Love
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

I suffered through it because I was trying to get to sleep, which was helped by my lack of laughter -- but then snapped more awake when, at about 4:36, Black said that the book "taught me the secret to true happiness... getting someone else to foot the bill for your tropical vacation!"

Glad you liked the post, Lewis!

Click here to see who else reads The Best Of Everything!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Best Way To Get A Paid Vacation

Have you ever stopped and sat and really thought about how our society functions?

The odds are you haven't, for a couple of reasons. First off, nobody gets a chance to just sit and think anymore. Nobody sitting is thinking, for one thing, and nobody sits in our society anymore, period.

If, these days, you see someone sitting down, they're probably texting and mobile linking into their office email and sending you something called a "Blackberry Message" that is supposed to somehow be different from other text messages, the primary differences, so far as I can tell, being that with a Blackberry message you get the chance to see if someone has read your message, and then the chance to be snotty about it on the commercial.

But the reality is that you won't probably see someone sitting down, at all. We, as a society, no longer really sit down -- we're always up and doing something, or at least, we're supposed to be up and doing something, or, at the very least, we think we're up and doing something.

I'm not immune to that last part; I always think I'm more mobile than I really am. Once, I bet Sweetie that I walked around more than she did during the day. We settled that bet by getting pedometers and wearing them for a day. At the end of the day, I'd walked about 400 steps. Sweetie had walked four thousand.

We got the pedometers from McDonald's, so I guess that's some sort of irony... although irony has really been robbed of its meaning by overmisuse. Which itself is ironic, something I can say because by now, everything can be described as ironic. And everything can be described as random. Talk to young people sometime: They say random more than they say like, which is really something to consider.

But the chances are you won't consider that, either, because, as I began so long ago, nobody sits and considers things. We're all too busy Blackberry messenging and then we're too busy trying to explain to people how a Blackberry is something better than another phone with a keypad, and then we're too busy being mad at the other people for not recognizing the inherent superiority of a Blackberry, and then we forget where we parked our car.

The other reason why you probably haven't sat down and really thought about how our society functions is this: if you had, you wouldn't be spending all your time Blackberry messaging and Tweeting and Lolcatting. If you'd ever thought about how our society really works, you'd probably first have thought, like I did, something like "Huh. That's really, really messed up, now that I think about it."

Then, if you thought about it more, you'd probably start some sort of revolution. I know that, because I myself would have done just that, but I got distracted by the arrivals of the latest Lost DVDs from Netflix, so I've been working my way through Season 5 and haven't had time to start the revolution. But I'll get around to it, once I finish up Lost.

Lost itself is the catalyst, or one of them, for what I'm talking about and what I'm talking is this: We as a society are breaking our backs so that a privileged few people can make us watch their home movies and read their diaries.

It's true. We're paying good money -- money we earn by never ever leaving our jobs, helplessly talking on cell phones while we commute, bringing work home, having our laptops hooked up to virtual meetings, going over spreadsheets on an airplane, trying to figure out complex calculus equations in a notebook while we're on a freighter off the coast of an island that doesn't show up on any charts and may [SPOILER ALERT! AND ONE IN REVERSE! MAY CONTAIN SECRETS ABOUT "LOST" AND ALSO, YOU MIGHT, IF YOU READ THIS, BE TEMPTED TO TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT "LOST" BUT I DON'T WANT TO KNOW BECAUSE I ONLY HAVE A FEW EPISODES LEFT IN SEASON 5 TO WATCH AND I'D HAVE FINISHED THOSE BUT I NEARLY DIED A COUPLE TIMES RECENTLY AND HAVE BEEN RECUPERATING, SO JUST KEEP IT TO YOURSELF] be traveling in time...

... all while a privileged few record their home movies or write in their Unicorn-covered journals and release them so that we, the suckertariat, will spend some of our hard-earned money to find out what it's like to have a great life like that.

That's the conclusion I came to recently, as I recovered from the aforementioned almost-dyings and had some time to think about the nature of our society and the way we live life, and also, not coincidentally, had some time to lay awake nearly all night in the hospital and see more commercials for more movies than I could ever have hoped to see.

Many of the commercials, I noted, were for movies that didn't seem so much to be movies the way I think of them. See, I think of movies as having been developed from an idea that turns into an outline or script, after which a director and actors and other creative people get together to put that idea and script into a reality of sorts, with the end goal being to create a story, a diversion, something that will through those combined efforts transport us to another time or place, or tell an important bit of our past, or make allegorical connections to symbols that we slowly work through and learn a little about ourselves, our friends, or our world.

Or, at the least, I think of movies as something where, at some point, at least one character is going to be shown packing a large amount of ammunition into a bag in preparation for an assault on a bad guy's hideout, that being the newest trope in movies, and one that's so common that if I don't, in some movie, get a scene where at least one character takes a phenomenal amount of ammunition and puts it into a package and then loads up with all kinds of cool guns before looking in a meaningful way at another character, I feel robbed.)

(It even happened in Lost, so that series did not let me down.)

It turns out, though, that the people who make movies are not so much on the same page as I am, in the sense that scripts and ideas and art and story and creativity and meaning are all words on my page, while on their page is simply the phrase "Let's go someplace warm, get drunk, and film it, and they'll pay us to do that."

That is to say: More and more, Big Media is simply sending the top entertainers off on vacation, filming or otherwise recording what they do, and then selling that to us as entertainment. They've dispensed with scripts and humor and the like in favor of what can only be described as the next wave of reality -- reality not the way reality shows package it for us, but reality the way celebrities experience it: Living large around the world and making us pay for it. The Best Way To Get A Paid Vacation, it turns out, is to work in entertainment and have suckers like us pay our money to send you somewhere.

I first noticed this when Vince Vaughn released "Vince Vaughn In The South Pacific," which was cleverly (meaning, not so cleverly) and generically retitled "Couples Retreat." Watching the previews for that movie, I thought to myself: Man, it must be nice to get to go on location and be filmed telling old Henny Youngman jokes and get paid for it. That notion wasn't dispelled by Vaughn's not-entirely-coherent interviews about how he came up with the "idea" for the "movie." When he was interviewed by Latino Review, this exchange occurred:

Q: Was it your idea or Jon's [Favreau] to do a comedy on an island? Vaughn: It was my idea. Location, a nice location. I'm a slave to my craft. Have to go to Bora Bora. I think that it's just in your life, whatever priorities you're thinking about and I just thought that would be kind of fun, doing a movie,

Did you get that? The idea was "a nice location," followed by a theme of "whatever priorities you're thinking about."

Sounds like a pitch to me. Imagine that meeting:

Vaughn: "So I've got this idea for a movie. We go to a nice location, and then we film whatever it is you're thinking about."

Studio Exec: "Well, I was thinking about elephants, ever since that assistant said "Whatever you do, don't think about elephants." Damn her!"

Vaughn: "We'll work that in. Trust me. Elephants, and, say, Bora Bora."

Exec: "Here's your pile of money. Will you be needing hot costars?"

Vaughn: "You betcha."

Does anyone besides me remember George Costanza being asked why people would watch his show, and George answering "Because it's on TV" ? Does anyone but me doubt that was the driving philosophy behind Vaughn's making Couples Retreat?

It didn't end there, though -- not long after that, Adam Sandler apparently got jealous and got his buddies together to film thei own vacation-- Grown Ups -- which seemingly had as its driving creative force this idea: "We can't afford as nice a location, but I'll be damned if Vince Vaughn is going to be the only one cashing in on this trend." And with that, the Muse Of Lazy Comedies showered Sandler with scenes of him and his buddies...


The previews for the movies were almost literally just that: Sandler and his friends sitting in chairs. In cars. In pools. Sometimes people around them were moving, but they just sat while the movement went on around them. If it hadn't been that they were in a cabin, I'd have assumed that Grown Ups was simply a live action version of the King of the Hill intro.

After that, the idea that "movies" could simply be celebrity versions of Dancing Matt videos really took off. Can anyone tell me the plot of Knight and Day? I bet you can't -- because the promotional materials for the movie didn't bother telling you the plot. Instead, the interviews and ads focused on... you guessed it... the locations. Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz are here and they're here! And, hey, here, too! Vacation photos are simply a series of Here's me in front of this thing -- and now movies have become Here's Angelina Jolie in front of this thing.

It's not like this is a new trend; City Slickers is nearly 30 years old, if my memory is accurate (and I don't care if it's not, because the actual age of that movie isn't the point) and that's one of the earliest Let's take a trip movies that I can think of. But back then, not every movie was Wild On! With This Week's Hot Celebrity, the way it seems they all are now. For Iron Man 2, we had to have Iron Man go off to Monte Carlo. Why? It's not like Robert Downey, Jr., couldn't green screen a race car in front of New York scenery. But that wouldn't be a travelogue, and wouldn't have gotten the celebrities to Monte Carlo. In Sex & The City 2: The Golden Girls Go Arab, the girls went to ... some country, I forget, and on principal I've vowed never to google anything involving that movie. But they went somewhere, and why'd they do that? Not because it was important to the plot. Or the theme of the show, which, after all, was about sex... and the CITY.

And it's not only that "movies" are simply becoming more like film versions of What I Did On My Summer Vacation, By Taylor Lautner. It's that most recently, they've dispensed with plot altogether -- if my impressions of Eat, Pray, Love are correct. Now, granted, this is an impression that I've generated from the following sources:

1. A general idea of what the movie is about.
2. Julia Roberts' appearance on Late Night With David Letterman
3. An interview with the book's author in which every single answer she gave amounted to, more or less "I'm not just some kind of self-absorbed whiny woman who took a trip around the world on someone else's dime." (But she is.)

I'm pretty sure, though, that those sources have given me the correct impression of Eat, Pray, Love, which is that it simply follows Julia Roberts, whose character's name is, I think, "[Insert Your Name Here And Wish This Was You]" around the world as she visits fabulous locations after fabulous locations, and meets fascinating person after fascinating person, and drinks fabulous wine after fabulous wine.

In other words, it's that one episode of The Real Housewives Of Orange County where three of them went to Italy to drink instead of just sitting on their balcony, only with 100% more Javier Bardem.

That's the plot, and I'm using that word loosely. The actual plot of the movie is "Movie star goes places." They didn't even bother, a la Couples Retreat and the others, tacking on some sort of framing device like "We need to work on our relationships" or "Our coach died so we need to stare at a girl's butt." They just sent Julia Roberts off on a trip and filmed it.

What is going on here? Is this some sort of natural progression stemming from the paparazzi culture? Has the money involved in getting pictures of celebrities on vacation and selling them to tabloids and websites gotten so big that the celebrities have decided to cut out the middle man and sell their vacations themselves, the way they all do with their babies?

Maybe. There could be other explanations, but I'm not feeling very inquisitive right now; it's 7:02 a.m. and I've got to get ready for work. So let's go with that: It's because of the paparazzis, and it's because we've gotten lazy, too.

Most of our entertainment has slowly been working its way down the Spiral of Shame, going from very good to good to mediocre to bad to celebrity roast to why are you watching that to the only category below "Why are you watching that," which is "Any entertainment format in which Chelsea Handler appears." There are some exceptions -- Inception was good, and Toy Story 3 was very good, and neither had anything to do with Chelsea Handler -- but for the most part, entertainment is geting lazy and slumping back down into the muck.

While we know that's what's going on, it's not immediately apparent why, which is why I'm here: to tell you why, and why, in this case is "because of YOU!"

Sorry I had to ALLCAPS you, there, but you need a wakeup call, because you're letting them get away with it. The more we fall for this -- the more we let a "storyline" be "Let's Send Kate Gosselin places" and the more we watch television shows and movies and read books whose sole purpose is to describe a place someone went to and that's it, the more entertainment media will realize that they no longer have to deal with such expenses as "scripts" and "ideas" and "editors," that they can just package up about 30 travel brochures' worth of material and put a couple of blurbs on it and sell it to us and they'll do just that.

Why would they do anything else? Suppose you had the choice these people do -- to do work, or just to get paid for drinking Pina Coladas on a beach? Which would you choose?

My Boss: Briane, I've got some things I need you to do. I'm going to give you a choice. Here's a giant set of boxes full of old documents that you could read through, correlate, tab for evidence, and prepare for trial by making triplicate copies and drafting up appropriate cross-examinations for each witness.

Me: And the other option?

My Boss: Put on this speedo and go sit at the beach.

There would be a giant, me-shaped hole in the wall, right next to the one shaped like Wile E. Coyote, as I headed away from the boxes and to the beach. (I'd probably also wear the speedo, so stay clear of that area.)

Why would Vince Vaughn or Adam Sandler be any different? Why spend time writing a script, and then doing auditions and table reads and casting calls and setting up soundstages and costumes and the like, let alone dangling from wires or doing green-screen acting or all the other boring stuff actors sometimes complain about as though it were actually hard, when they could just pack up a duffle bag, grab a Flip Camera, and make the same money for improvising some jokes about how hard it was getting it up here with the girls watching?

No, they're not going to stop anytime soon, and I don't blame them, I blame you. Not me. I didn't see any of those movies and I won't even google that Sex and the City one, so I'm not the problem. And, honestly, you've got to stop it. Because all these movies are starting to crowd out the good movies and TV shows that I want to see. Already, it's getting harder to find shows I like on TV, what with "Law & Order: Let's Take a Field Trip To LA" and "Jason Lee Goes South" on the air, and if Eat Pray Love continues to be successful, as I fear it will, we're going to see a lot less Despicable Me and a lot more "Mangez prient l'amour," and more "Coma ruegan amor" and more "Φάτε προσεύχεται την αγάπη" in which, Elizabeth Banks, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Kourtney & Khloe go, respectively, to France, Spain, and Greece, and eat, respectively, croissants, tapas, and Gyros, and fall in love with ... well, you get the picture.

I just hope that we don't.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Yes, I learned ALL of my social skills from puppets. What's your point? (The Best Sex Scenes in Movies, 5)

Today's scene isn't picked just because it's the hottest puppet sex scene ever (or, I assume it is, since I haven't seen Avenue Q, and also, God only knows what some of you do with your puppets in the privacy of your own home.) It's also picked because it serves a valuable public services.

Sex scenes in movies always serve a valuable public service -- or many. They make dumb movies memorable, and give guys a reason to sit through The Notebook (which Sweetie swears has a sex scene, but I don't remember one in there.)

Team America: World Police's marionette sex scene goes above and beyond that, though, and shows the ultimate line to get that special someone in bed. And that line is: Anything he/she wants you to say.

Write it down, people, and watch how a pro seduces someone:

The 15 Best Sex Scenes:

1. The staircase in A History of Violence.

All the sex scenes in Mulholland Drive.

3. Neve Campbell & Denise Richards in the pool in Wild Things.

4. The staircase scene in Unfaithful.

Sunday, August 08, 2010


One of the running themes of this blog is, of course, that I am always right. Anyone who reads this blog for five minutes realizes that... anyone with half a brain at least, which excludes "scientists."

I say that because, as we know, disparaging what passes for "science" these days is another running theme of this blog, and I have on many occasions pointed out how it's pretty obvious that "scientists" are chowderheads who copy from Dane Cook, make things up to impress the public, and are generally less reliable, accuracy-wise, than a Modest Mouse song.

In particular, I have repeatedly brought "scientists" to the metaphorical woodshed for making up crap about dinosaurs, and when I do that, people -- by which I mean "the mommies of 'scientists' " stick up for them and claim I don't know what I'm talking about.

Those people should go back and review the first paragraph of this post (i.e., "I'm always right,") and if they're still not convinced how right I always am, they should go read this article which points out that Triceratops never existed, with scientists admitting that for years they've simply been claiming that Triceratops was a real thing, when in reality "Triceratops" was simply a young torosaurus.

Or so they say; but if they didn't know before, why should we believe them that they're right now? Especially when, unrepentingly, "scientists" have opted to correct this error by... continuing to make it.

That's right. In the grand tradition of bullshit-ry that "science" has become, "scientists," having determined Triceratops is a fake, have opted to simply call torosaurs "Triceratops."

Way to go, "science." It's not hard to see why the Creationists are winning the cultural battle. At least they don't pretend their theories are real.

(Wait, what? They do? Aw, crap. Now we're left with just Flying Spaghetti Monster and the Narnia books as the basis for all human knowledge.)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The 30... make that 23...Best Things About Summer.

It's a MiniBest!

I've decided to cut the list short at 23, not because Summer can't support 30 great things, but because in every summer, there's a moment where summer ends -- where, even though the calendar may say it's summer and even though it's 88 degrees, the feeling of summer is gone. When that happens, it's best to recognize it and move on like the grown-ups our parents always hoped we'd be (albeit grown-ups who spend more time blogging about superheroes than many parents are comfortable with.)

That moment came, for me, when I nearly died twice in one week. Instead of going to the beach or riding roller-coasters, I'm now focusing on things like "not almost dying again," and that takes a bit of the thrill away from summer.

So, it's officially The 23 Best Things About Summer, and here they are, one last time:

8. Helium balloons.

9. Jell-O

10. Shorts.

11. Hammocks.

12. Longer days.

13. Sandals.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Guest Post: The Top Ten Best Facts about Space Aliens & “Human”Abductees

Did you listen to me on the radio on August 1? I was the featured guest for Straight Talk, the radio show hosted by the great Jim Strait. You can listen live every Sunday at 6:30 (ET)(The link'll take you to his site.) Jim was a great host, and made it tough on me as a guest to keep up with his smarts and humor. He did, though, confess that he's never eaten a slice of pizza -- but let's don't hold that against him.

Jim also contributed a guest post for today, giving me the chance to (a) take the day off and (b) take credit for posting something anyway. Here's Jim's contribution:
The Top Ten Best Facts about Space Aliens & “Human”Abductees

If you were abducted by aliens from another planet, have seen a yeti, are emotionally involved with the idea of Oprah, Al Gore, Paris Hilton, or Sarah Palin, read no farther unless you have a sense of humor…for all others, enjoy!

10) Oprah Winfrey became an alien abductee because flying saucers are powered by cellulite and narcissism.

9)Abductee spelled backwards is eet-cud-ba, which is alien for gotcha!

8)Paris Hilton was taken as an abductee because aliens think emaciated is hot.

7) Al Gore was not abducted, he was recovered.

6) Even space aliens think that Big Foot is a hoax.

5) Abductees are taken at night and in remote places because Aliens are embarrassed to be seen with them.

4)Aliens will not abduct people smarter in IQ points than tall in inches.

3) Sarah Palin will never be abducted.

2) Shooting stars are actually how aliens execute problematic abductees.

1)Crop circles are produced by the alien version of the Three Stooges Curly when it drops to the ground and spins around while mouthing the alien words, whoop-whooop-whooop-whooop.

Nicely done, Jim -- and thanks for paying attention to Paris Hilton, a bit, because, as longtime readers know, failing to at least look at Paris once in a while will result in the ultimate destruction of the universe. (Read why in this book.)

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Welcome a New TBOE Reader!

I've converted many, many people to my way of thinking. They used to call that a "cult," or "being a Perotista." Nowadays, when you do something and everyone reads it and listens to you, it's called a blog and there's apparently no requirement that you ever provide "attribution.*" (*"attribution" means money in that context.)

That's true of the world's most popular blog, which Newsweek (note how I give my sources, Newsweek, and today's New Reader?) says is the most popular and profitable new media site around, and which Newsweek also says has staffers primarily sitting around a conference table grabbing news and photos and information from other sites -- so it's not so much a new business model as it is simply using other people's work, right?

And that new business model is alive and well at "old media" dinosaurs like Entertainment Weekly, which is making a push into e-media primarily by reading this blog and then using my ideas in their articles, as evidenced by this week's pop culture bullseye, which remains the most confusing* (*stupidest) pop culture survey ever invented.

Despite its confusingness* (*see foregoing asterisk), EW's Bullseye (again, see how I note my sources?) this week has one thing to commend it: It uses my idea. Specifically, it has an arrow pointing to some greasy-haired Axe Body Spray commercial extra, and alongside that guy is written:

While turning rock songs into choral numbers is great, turning them into symphonies is not. Please take note, David Garrett.

I don't know who David Garrett is; presumably he's the Axe guy shown in the picture. But I do know that not so very long ago -- okay, May 17, 2008 -- I wrote the post The Best Choral Version of A Pop Song, and in that post I made not only the now-famous observation that "Nirvana was simply the Bee Gees of the 90s" but also said that the dearth of choral versions of pop songs was a tragedy and celebrated how putting any pop song through a choir made it incomparably better than it had been.

So, welcome to the fold of new readers, EW writers. (Not you, Diablo Cody. I watched a few minutes of Juno again while in the hospital and even the sedation couldn't keep from repeatedly stabbing at the channel switch button.)

See who else reads this blog!