Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How hard can it be to cover a Crosby, Still, Nash & Young song? (Awesome Covers Of Already Awesome Songs.)

I only like two CSN& Sometimes Y songs: "American Dream," and "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes."

Here's an homage to the latter. After listening to many, many versions, I can tell you: hitting that high note on the first verse, at the word "point" is pretty tough.

The Two Teenage Girls Get It Right Version:

The "Holy Crap, This Is Done By Kids Now Attending My Old High School" Version:

The "It Took Me A Moment To Realize They're All The Same Guy" Version:

I could probably have put that one first, because it's pretty cool.

So's this one:

The a capella version:

The "Remember How I Said Hitting That Note on Point Is Tough? Not For The Ladies" version:

The "This is not technically a cover, but it seemed a little sacrilegious, so it got included" version:

And, in the not-so-awesome category are these guys, who are a little flat but I like that they tried:

And I like, too, that the middle guy appeared to be playing the Thermos.


Click here for a list of every topic I've ever discussed on this blog!

Monday, September 26, 2011

This list is very Larry-Niven oriented, for some reason. (Off The Top Of My Head)

My focus, on Saturday, on Star Wars and Star Trek led me to try to think of how many sci-fi series, movies, or books I could think of that had nothing to do with either of those things... Off The Top Of My Head:

1. Ringworld, Larry Niven.

2. The Integral Trees, Larry Niven.

3. Footfall, Larry Niven.

4. The Last Starfighter

5. Battlestar Galactica (original and remake)

6. That one cartoon series when I was a kid in which they made ordinary battleships into space cruisers, only I can't find any records of it anywhere.

7. Space: 1999.

8. Logan's Run.

9. The Black Hole.

10. Flash Gordon.

11. The Mote In God's Eye.

12. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.


And I'm out.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Once you get past all the "Ship of Thesus" philosophical questions, you'll realize this could only end one way... (My Dad Can Beat Up Your Dad!)

Recently, William Shatner went on the record as calling Star Wars a "derivative" of Star Trek -- a slap in the face not just to Star Wars fans but to Western Civilization, as well, because, as this whole feature is intended to point out, Star Wars is at this point the basis for every single thi people say, do, or believe.

Shatner -- who's cool enough to make the top 3 of my list of people who I would want to have lunch with, earning an automatic spot on that list -- is simply wrong about his Star Trek vs. Star Wars assertion, and when it comes to people being simply wrong, what are you to do?

There's this feeling in America that you can believe any old thing you want, say any old thing you want, tell people any old thing you want, and we for some reason are supposed to respect that any old thing you say/think/feel.

That belief, like Shatner's, is simply wrong. I know where it comes from, but it's still wrong.

We have freedom of speech here in America -- freedom of speech and religion and protest and privacy and as a result of that, we have freedom of thought, meaning: You are free to think any damn fool idea you'd like.

That's a given, and a good thing.

But the fact that you can think it does not mean that the thought is worthy of respect, and that's where people go wrong.

All people are created equal -- but not all thoughts. Some thoughts are created... well, stupid.

So the fact that you can think something doesn't mean I have to respect it, or that it's worthy of me even paying attention to you.

That's where those teach the controversy people go wrong: Just because you have an idea, even an idea that you really like, doesn't mean your idea is the equal of all other ideas. Because your idea might be just plain wrong.

If I, for example, want to believe that when I hold my coffee cup up in the air and let it go, it will not drop and will not spill but will levitate there nicely, I'm free to think that. But it won't, no matter how often I insist it will, and arguing that I should have my opinions respected because nobody really knows how gravity works is pointless. My opinion is wrong, it cannot be proven empirically, it runs contrary to everything people know and observe in the world.

This isn't about evolution, but it could be. And it should be, except I'm writing not about what has been relegated to the second-most important idea in human history (the Theory of Evolution) but the most important idea in our lives: The Grand Unified Theory Of Star Wars, which posits that every single thing in the the world can be traced back, now, to The Little Movie That Could back in 1978.

William Shatner has, by saying that Star Wars was derivative of (and not as good as) Star Trek, challenged that theory. And though I should not dignify his opinion anymore than Sweetie dignifies my opinion vis a vis Coffee Cup Levitation*

*she just hands me a mop.

I will, because I need something to post about today. And so I will dignify his opinion, by determining, via the patented My Dad Can Beat Up Your Dad! method, which really is better. Sit back and get ready for:

Star Trek v. Star Wars.

Since Shatner picked this fight, we'll do it on his home court, as it were -- fighting out the areas which he said proved that Star Trek is better than Star Wars. (As if!). Those areas are, according to the summary of his remarks I read because I'm too busy to watch the actual interview and also I don't really care for celebrity interviews, "Relationships and conflicts among the relationships," "stories that involved humanity," "philosophical questions," and "Girls who were prettier than Princess Leia."

Relationships and Conflicts Among The Relationships: I will confess that I am either hamstrung a little here, or have slanted the conflict, because I have watched only approximately 1 1/2 episodes of the original Star Trek series, plus about 2 1/2 of the movies. I've seen The Wrath Of Khan, of course, and because that was very good I was then duped into watching The Search For Spock, but after that I wised up and never watched another one again until I watched part of That Original Star Trek Movie About Voyager on cable one day.

I also, though, to be fair, owned several dolls -- the GI-Joe sized guy dolls that were cool to play with when you were 8 -- and a cardboard playset of the bridge of the Enterprise with a real teleporter, so I've got that going for me.

I did not have a Klingon bad guy doll, though: I had as my Star Trek bad guy "The Lizard," who was technically a Spider-Man bad guy, but I got this whole thing as a present from an uncle one Christmas, and when I said:

"How come you gave me The Lizard instead of a Klingon?"

He responded: "Wouldn't you rather have a Lizard than a Klingon?"

I couldn't refute that argument.

Star Wars, on the other hand, not only had all those toys but also I've seen all of the movies, many times. To balance things out, I also own the original comic-book miniseries serialization of Return Of The Jedi. It's in near-mint condition.

Which I figure qualifies me to comment on relationships and conflicts among the relationships, because I know the two main relationships in each series.

In Star Trek, the only relationship anyone cared about was Kirk vs. Spock. Kirk embodied the impulsive, emotional, hotheaded side of people, always charging off to beat up aliens with a rock and then make out with a blue woman, while Spock stood in for the calmer, more rational side of people, the higher-functioning intellectual core that separates us from the beasts and lets us try to achieve something better than mere existence; Spock and Kirk were the two sides of humanity, the hunter-gatherer and the intellectual, and the entire span of the Star Trek universe, from tv shows to movies, can be seen as our attempts to grapple, via metaphor, with the way our baser instincts seem to always be in charge while we strive to get something better.

And that, my readers, is how you turn "Watching TV" into "A Master's Thesis."

Oh, and remember which side of us wins?

Didn't look like Kirk fought very hard to get in there, did he? Oh, well -- that just means we can go on making out with blue chicks without all those higher thoughts holding us back.

Meanwhile, the only relationship anyone cared about in Star Wars was Han and Chewbacca.

What, you thought I was going to say something else? Why would I? Despite half-hearted stabs at developing relationships in the first three movies, there never really was a love story to speak of, and what seemed like it might be became super-gross when Lucas decided on the spur of the moment and most decidedly not as a part of an overall story arc to make Leia be Luke's sister, because if you did plan that in advance, then isn't their kiss the grossest thing you could have had them do?

Han and Chewie have their conflicts, too -- just as Kirk and Spock did, but Han and Chewie's conflicts were more grounded in reality and more humorous ("Just fly casual") -- and they shared a greater bond than Kirk and Spock ever did: The Millennium Falcon.

True, Kirk and Spock had the Enterprise, but that was not really their ship; it belonged to the Federation, and required a crew of 760 to run it. Calling the Enterprise Kirk's or Spock's ship is like calling The Love Boat Captain Stubing's ship. Han, meanwhile, owned the Millennium Falcon, and Chewie half-ran it.

On the subject of spaceships, I must point out something that Shatner apparently overlooked, or deliberatly didn't bring up: Which series had better spaceships? Obviously Star Trek, not just because of X-Wings, which were awesome and could travel at light speed even though they were a single-seater ship, but also because of that aforementioned Millennium Falcon, which was so great that Star Trek copied it.

Yep, it's true: from Wikipedia, this being the only kind of thing that site is good for:

The Falcon and the Falcon's distinct shape appear in Star Trek: First Contact,[14] Blade Runner,[15] Spaceballs, and Starship Troopers.[16] The manga series Berserk includes a "Millennium Falcon" arc.[17] In another manga and anime series, Hellsing, the Millennium Falcon is referenced briefly for comedic effect.

I don't recall ever seeing the Borg cube in Star Wars.

Back to relationships: Han and Chewie were far closer than Kirk and Spock, who simply became friends because they went to Starfleet Academy together, or whatever the backstory explained in "Kirk and Spock's Big Adventure," the Chris Pine version of Star Trek.

Han and Chewie, though, had no such prosaic meeting. According to the Wookiepedia, which, why would that exist, since that's what Wikipedia is in the first place, but anyway, according to it, Han quit being a pirate and smuggler after the woman he loved went to a Rebel, and then

Han Solo then entered the Imperial Academy at Carida, serving with distinction. He was kicked out, however, when he stopped an Imperial officer from beating a Wookiee named Chewbacca with a neuronic whip. In gratitude, the Wookiee swore a life debt to Solo.
Um. I really need to research these things before I write them. But that makes no sense. He loves this woman and she goes to be a rebel, so he goes to be in the Empire? And then, when he does hook up with the rebels entirely by accident (having, apparently, come to the realization that the Empire isn't the nice, gentle, organization he thought it was) he never looks up that other woman?

Made up on the spot: A LucasFilm tradition going back to 1978.

But Han and Chewie had one thing that proves their friendship was stronger, despite all conflicts, than Spock-and-Kirk: Han could arrange to have Chewie make out with whoever he chose.

Those Wookies take their life-debts seriously.

Advantage: Star Wars.

Stories That Involved Humanity: I'm not entirely sure what Shatner means by this category, unless he's simply talking about human beings being in the storyline, in which case, sure, Star Trek wins, because, as Rogue Mutt pointed out long ago, Darth Vader isn't technically a human. Which means that it's only coincidence that the "people" of Star Wars look anything like us...

... the type of coincidence that happened a remarkable amount of times on Star Trek :

And it's technically called convergent evolution, something I know because I didn't b.s. my entire way through school; I paid attention the 1% of time required to actually pass a class in an American school. (America: F**K YEAH!)

Star Wars never explained how come humans look like us even though they evolved the infamous long time ago, (see aforementioned LucasFilm tradition) but one person once on the Internet noted that while

There's no real mention of Earth in Star Wars, as it takes place a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away - but in one comic story that is not considered canon, Han Solo and Chewbacca crash land on Earth - in North America, and Solo's remains are found by Indiana Jones, while the longer-lived Wookiee forms the basis for the Bigfoot legends.

That's from the UK version of Yahoo! Answers, so it's best if you read it with a British accent. Plus, you sound smarter that way. Everything sounds smarter in a British accent. Had Shatner said something like "Tally Ho! Chaps! Look like 'ere's a Star Trek that's a tuppence better'n' anyfing that ol' Artful Dodger ever biscuited" he'd have won this without a fight.

But, be that as it may, I'm not willing to buy that there were humans in Star Wars, so:

Advantage: Star Trek.

Philosophical Questions: It almost seems like I should concede this one to the Trekkies, doesn't it? That's kind of the thing about Star Trek is that it's supposedly very high-minded about its vision, that it's always been about philosophy and aiming to do what the best science-fiction is supposed to do, make a point about our society by telling us a story about our future.

And, of course, George Washington University is supposed to have once (and maybe now) offered a course in The Philosophy Of Star Trek, even though I couldn't find any evidence of that ever having existed when I did a quick search for it. ("Evidence of existing" in this case being "getting mentioned on the first page of Google results," because I, like every other modern person, have no desire to click next page to get to substandard Google results, except for the time I googled myself and went out to page 14 where I was reminded that I once filed a lawsuit over our cat getting sick. I'm awesome.)

I was going to get around to searching for something about the philosophy of Star Wars, because I saw a link to something that suggested that people actually thought about that, but I came across first a link to a philosophical question called the "Ship Of Theseus," which asks whether, if you replace every single component part in a thing with an identical replacement, that thing is the same thing it originally was.

That is: Say you take the Millennium Falcon when Han won it from Lando in a game of Sabacc. Then say over time, you replaced every single part that was in the ship at the time it was won in that game, but with an identical replacement. Is the ship still the Millennium Falcon?

Now, say you did that with yourself: replacing every part of yourself with an identical part into which you planted your memories. Are you still yourself?

Now, think of something harder: Suppose you take yourself, and each day you replace a cell in your body with a cell from, say, William Shatner's body. At what point would you stop being you and start being William Shatner? And, as a corollary, why isn't someone trying this?

That latter question is a version of the Ship of Theseus posed by a philosopher who was recently featured in The New Yorker, an article that was interesting to read because it turns out you can make a living simply sitting around thinking about stuff (and then writing books about it) but I can't recall his name right now, and I tried looking it up on The New Yorker's website, but that wasn't helpful, other than to give me a link to an article from 1926 about Will Durant selling 50,000 copies of a book called "The Story Of Philosophy," and 50,000 copies seems a remarkable number of philosophy books to sell at any time, let alone 1926 when all of America was occupied jitterbugging and flagpole sitting and not having Calvin Coolidge speak.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, philosophy. Here's the thing, Trekkies: Your Captain Kirk isn't anything of the sort. See, according to noted scientists and also the writer China Mieville, and also the movie The Prestige, when you teleport, what you do is create a copy of the thing you teleported, so that in Kraken, by Mieville, there were all these little dead spirits haunting the guy who teleported a lot, and in The Prestige you had bins full of old Hugh Jackmans, and in Star Trek you'd have a lot of old Captain Kirks who presumably had been disintegrated on board the Enterprise, and a lot of new Captain Kirks who then were created on planets to make out with those women.

So is Captain Kirk, and the rest of them for that matter, the same person? There's a philosophical question I bet nobody in the Trekiverse ever pondered. Depending on how you feel about the Ship of Theseus, you may no longer be such a fan of Shatner's/Kirk's.

Advantage: Star Wars, because there's no worrying that somewhere is a giant pile of moldering Luke Skywalker corpses.

Girls who were prettier than Princess Leia: This one's easy to solve using what our President recently reminded us existed: Math.

Total number of times Jennifer Aniston pretended to be a woman from Star Trek? Zero.

Total number of times Jennifer Aniston pretened to be Princess Leia in the metal bikini: One.

One is greater than zero, everywhere you go.

Advantage: Star Wars.

Winner: Star Wars.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

It's the POP!Best! Pop!Quiz! about LOVE! (POP!Best!)

Pop!Best! is my weekly look at all the things people cared about, didn't care about, or thought to themselves something like "I wonder if Susan Lucci is still alive" about...

So this wek, I gave, over on Michael Offutt's blog, not only some awesome legal analysis that for some reason involved comic books, but also another reason why indie publishing (a term I coined, thank you very much Amazon) may help free us from the stocks that the publishing industry has cruelly placed readers into to face the torments of the crowd of authors who will gather 'round them and mock them until they (the readers, I mean) are led from the stocks to the platform where the hooded agents of the Revolution will place them (the readers, I mean) into the slotted board above which hangs the Guillotine of Rejection, which all too soon will slice down into their necks (the readers, I mean) dropping the heads of the readers into the basket of indie publishing where they...

... Wait, I think maybe aspiring authors should be in the stocks. Can I start over? Never mind. I was all caught up in French Revolutionary thinking because yesterday on the way home from work I listened to the fascinating history of Madame Tussaud's wax works on Stuff You Missed In History Class. Hey, it beats sports-talk radio. I can't listen to Jim Rome for 10 seconds without needing to punch someone in the face, and if I'm the only one in the car, that gets painful.

Anyway, I defended indie publishing again vigorously this week as the only possible way out of the hellhole that is having millions of books available to read but all of them somehow involve a seemingly-random combination of:

A. Vampires,

B. Authority figures who are loose stand-ins for mean parents and

C. Shia LeBeouf, who ought to be in everything. Wasn't he supposed to be our next Indiana Jones? What happened to that? I blame Rick Perry.

But I did all that defending of indie publishing before I was aware that something called Wet Goddess existed, and had I known about Wet Goddess before I made my comments, I, too, would have wished for the relief offered by Rob Lowe's character to the women who were Molexted In the season premiere of Parks & Recreation, which I watched last night instead of when it first aired 'cause I'm cool like that:

But I was talking about the book Wet Goddess and specifically about what is terrible about it. Here is what is wrong with Wet Goddess, in a nutshell: Its "Editorial Description" On Amazon, which reads:

Set at the height of Vietnam protests, Jimi Hendrix and LSD, Wet Goddess is a story of strange encounters, awkward misadventures, and ultimately, love.

Sounds good, right? Well, sounds, at least, socially acceptable, right?

Wrong! Here's the cover for Wet Goddess, which will give you more than a clue to what is wrong with this book and the fact that almost anyone can publish almost anything:

In case that didn't tip you off, I'll just say it: The book Wet Goddess is a book about a man having a sexual affair for nine months... with a dolphin.

It's either a memoir, if you believe some people, or an autobiographical novel, if you believe the blog IO9 (which I inadvertently copied the title of and I'm sorry and I've corrected it), or, if you believe the actual author's actual interview on Bubba The Love Sponge's show, it's pretty much what happened to him:

Mr Brenner spoke to Nightline from his Florida home. Below is the transcript of our conversation.

DF: Thanks for your time. How did this whole thing start?

MB: She began raking her teeth lightly against my arms and legs which was indescribably erotic. Some might find it frightening, I found it erotic.

MB: What was right with it is that the dolphin initiated the whole sexual thing. As I mentioned, she was in isolation - she'd be using me to satisfy her sexual needs.

The revelation that someone had not only had a 9-month affair with a dolphin but also wrote a book about it and then got on Nightline not only grossed me out all night long, but also made me put into perspective all the things I was going to talk about here on POP!Best! this week, those things being, of course, the other big things that happened this week, the other big things being, in no particular order:

1. The Emmys happening.

2. Netflix deciding to rename part of its service to take advantage of the stoner-Tweeter market, which America in turn treated as though Netflix had stolen its youngest baby and used said baby for ritual sacrifices because America didn't know that up next was

3. Facebook changing things.

Also, in case you were wondering, the audience at a debate booed and jeered a gay man who was willing to give his life for them and their stupidity, while all the people who want to be commander-in-chief of that man didn't say a damn thing because they're not only racists, but they're hypocrites and cowards, too, but I know you weren't wondering because you're still mad about that Netflix thing, which brings me to this week's entry, which I have decided to do in quiz format because I like quizzes.*

*Also, you knew this was a quiz because of the title, right?
I'm calling this quiz:

Say About Love, That's What They're Saying...
Here are some quotes from the week about various relationships that made the news in one form or another. The answers are at the bottom:

1. "There will be obstacles to overcome in this relationship, but there are challenges in every relationship. It's all about compromise. I'm trying to teach Fluffy to stop pooping on herself, and she's teaching me how to drink water from an upside-down bottle."

That is an actual quote from:

A. Rick Perry's book, speaking about Social Security.

B. That supposed 16-year-old girl who married that guy from Lost, on her new Reality-TV show.

2. "“It feels amazing. I hate to say it -- more amazing in a weird way.... You expect to the thrill be diminishing. It isn’t! This is a big surprise. It’s been very good for morale around here."

That was said by:

A. Gary Johnson, who is apparently running for President, too, apparently unaware that the media killed off Thaddeus McCotter to boost ratings this week.

B. The author of Wet Goddess, on his Bubba The Love Sponge interview, talking about when he first told the other staffers at Sea World.

3. "The hardest part about breaking up ... is getting used to falling asleep alone."

That was said by:

A. Ruby The Dolphin, who reportedly died of a broken heart after the Wet Goddess author went off to college.

B. I got nothing here; I'm going to be honest with you. I tried to put some GIFs in here, and it took forever to copy them and then when I tried to edit them I accidentally deleted 1/2 this post because Google Chrome doesn't have an undo button on a toolbar and I didn't know that CTRL Z is undo and had to search for it and even that didn't help, and I know that's not that big a deal, but it really... bugs... me because I then had to re-create this half of the post, and can't remember what I had for B for this answer.

C. Twitterer @Hipstermermaid, whose Twitter feed offered thoughtful, funny, insightful commentary on the Republican debate and other important events... but who got nationally quoted on HuffPo for that Tweet... which was about Netflix.

4. "The future is heading towards greater openness. Take my dog, for example."

That was said by:

A. The other big commenter on Wet Goddess, hyping his own book, "Furry Goddess Who Is Hanging Her Head Out The Window As I Drive."

B. The head of CBS, commenting on his second choice to replace Charlie Sheen on Two And A Half Men; cast members immediately heralded the dog as funnier than Ashton Kutcher, too.

C. Andy Samberg, pretending to be Mark Zuckerberg talking about Mark Zuckerberg's dog "Beast," a dog who has his own Facebook page, a page which 200,000 people "fanned" this week, meaning that nearly half as many people took the time to fan a dog as signed an online petition to stop an execution after 7 witnesses recanted their testimony. Way to go, America!

5. "It might be easier if you take a deep breath, lift from the knees, and shove it up your butt!"

That was said by:

A. That gay soldier, responding to the Republicans who would rather die in a terrorist attack than let two men hold hands in public.

B. Marcus Bachmann. Why, what are you implying?

C. Stanley, on The Office, deploying his new thing:

The Answer Key:

1. Yellow.
2. Anything not from Wal-Mart.
3. Dragons.

Next week: God only knows. I've been working on this thing for 2 hours now and that whole deleting thing has me incredibly frustrated. Yeah, yeah, first world problems. Whatever.

Everytime you retweet a joke from Wonderella, an angel gets its wings. (RE: What You Said)

RE: What You Said is my across-my-blog response to comments from the week before.

What a week it was! Eating Twinkies, taking on Senators... that was prett
y much it. Here we go with the best of the comments from the past week:

Stephen Hayes, writer/illustrator, thought perhaps I might not make it quite all the way to a jillion dollars with my plan to let you smash the things I make:

Yours is an interesting idea, but it might be hard to convert it into a jillion bucks. I remember another great idea, a seventeen hour film by Andy Warhol that, if memory serves, was called "The Fly." In the film, the fly lands on the forehead of a nude woman lying on her back. We watch for hours as the fly inches over her body, which becomes a gigantic landscape through the fly's perspective. The problem with this and many POP Art ideas is that the idea is more interesting than the result. But keep the ideas coming. I have faith that your jillion dollar idea is right around the corner. By the way, I walked out of the theater showing the Warhol film after only two hours.

Stephen despite the fact that you admittedly walked out of a movie featuring a
naked woman and therefore lose 1/2 your credibility hit points, I think you'
re onto something there: What if you and I collaborate on an art project where we sit in a museum and tell people our POP art ideas for money? We'll make a jillion dollars!

Also: Stephen, you really don't own a cell phone? I hope you at least keep a sharp stick near the mouth of the cave to stick in that T. Rex's mouth when it comes around. And
say hi to Will and Holly for me.

Rogue Mutt, meanwhile, ought to be in charge of designing video games, as he gets it

To be a successful video game the object should be to kill everyone in line and then destroy all the paintings.

I tried doing that, but I lost my place in line, and then had to go to Milwaukee for a court hearing and ended the game for the day.

I also drew comments on the culmination of what might be the greatest thing I've ever done in my life*

*Twinkie category only

That's gross. I'm glad you didn't get sick. I like how in the video you described it as having the consistency of a vanilla wafer. Dropping it all those times though was unnecessary. We already knew it was as hard as a brick.
I had to drop it, though, Michael, so that nobody would think I'd switched out the Twinkie; there are people out there who I'm sure would love to manufacture a scandal and bring me down from the heady pinnacle of fame I've achieved as someone who gets upwards of three comments a week sometimes just by blogging pictures of his sons playing with lockers. I know I've got a target on my back. That's why I always sit facing the door.

Except now, I realized; my desk at home has my back to the door. I've been in peril all these years!

Reporter Anna, on the other hand, not only didn't appear to take offense at my calling shenanigans on a Taco Bell robbery story this week (I wasn't blaming WKOW, Anna, but the lying victim), she also supported my decision to give my taste buds, and perhaps my entire consciousness, for SCIENCE:

that was pretty great. glad you didn't die. another victory in the name of science!

I agree, Anna. In the annals of science, it is, so far as I can tell:

1. The guy who invented fire. (Prometheus, I believe.)
2. Marie Curie, who is the only woman scientist ever.
3. Isaac Newton, for inventing the catflap.
4. Me.
5. A bunch of other people including my 11th grade science teacher Mr Hassemer, who taught us, in chemistry class, that the greatest invention mankind ever came up with was the "blood groove" in an arrowhead.

Finally for this week,

Rogue Mutt, blogger/author, commented on my post So You Were Once Third In Line For The Presidency? Here's $4.5 million detailing how former House speakers get $900,000 (or more?) per year to run an office that does nothing by saying

The problem is there's no way to stop them since we're expecting them to police themselves. The same reason there aren't term limits or campaign finance reform.

I disagree, though: there is a way to stop them. We police them, only people get all up in arms over Netflix changing the name for one service it provides while not caring that $1,000,000 per year to a former speaker is about an equivalent tax to what Netflix did when they raised their rates. According to the last Census, there are 112,000,000 households in the U.S. Denny Hastert cost each household $1.

Netflix's rate increase was $4 for my service. A service I choose voluntarily. This week, I used Netflix to watch a past episode of Better Off Ted and my boys watched Follow That Bird and Yo Gabba Gabba. I got something for the $4 I chose to voluntarily continue paying.

I got nothing out of the $1 I paid Dennis Hastert to drive his SUV to look at a painting of himself. And I couldn't opt out of that one.

I'm not talking about policing politicians by voting, either; you only get to vote every so often. But in the last two weeks, I've called Senators and Congressmen and tweeted to their followers and talked to my coworkers and mentioned on my blogs issues ranging from the Autism Funding bill to gay marriage. (I have. It was subtle, but it was there.)

Part of why I hate people -- you'll want this answer, Michael Offutt - -is because so little attention is paid to important stuff. I spent time the past two weeks repeatedly tweeting links to stories which show four Senators apparently trying to allow scientific research grants to be more easily directed to their campaign contributors. And you know what got retweeted the most of all the things I said?

A couple of jokes about the Facebook update.

And the point of my story wasn't just autism research -- it was (as Rogue got) equally about Why are Senators allowed to stop a bill that is wanted and needed just to benefit the Koch Brothers, and why don't people care?

I get it: Things are funny, you pass them on. But it takes a second to retweet an important message, too, and precious few people do that, making me wonder how many clicked the links to even read the story itself. (And, no, I don't read every link in Twitter, either.)

The point is, people have to pay attention to the real stuff. It's okay to be upset about Ewoks blinking, I suppose -- but not until after you've gotten upset that House Republicans are playing games with disaster relief funding and tying up the government again, and that they did it quickly in hopes of messing up our economy more... and then taking a vacation.

I have a rule regarding what I think of as frivolous spending: if I spend money on something dumb or unnecessary, like the time we took our cat to the hospital, I give an equal amount to a charity or someone needy.

I think the same thing should apply to tweets, blog posts, and life: Every time you retweet a joke from Wonderella, retweet a link to a story you consider important, too.

And, thanks to all those people who DID retweet my stuff about the important things; I hope you've downloaded your Smilin' Mr F Badge:

Also, by all means, retweet Wonderella's jokes. She's hilarious.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

All it takes to be an artist is to be able to swear? Can do. (Is This Art?)

So I had this great idea that would make me a jillionaire, because that's a real thing, and that idea that's going to make me a jillionaire will also make me the envy of all of you suckers because you aren't an artistic genius the way I am, and also, for perhaps the first time in my life, my idea to make me a jillionaire requires neither (a) my kids to become Disney stars nor (b) me to finally locate the hidden cave of treasure that my grandfather hinted about that one time at the Fourth of July barbecue, although to be fair he might really have been only talking about wanting a hot dog, and not talking in code the way I've always assumed he was.

Here is my great idea that'll make me a jillionaire and also the envy of the artistic community:

Smashed Art.

Not impressed yet? You will be. Here's my idea. I make a sculpture of something -- anything -- and then I sell it to you, but in selling it to you, I'm not just selling you the sculpture: I'm selling you the right to smash the sculpture, and, upon selling it to you, and you smashing it, you also then have the right to display the now-smashed art in whatever way you want in, let's say, the Guggenheim. (Is that an art museum? Close enough.)

So the art is expressed not just in my sculpture, but also in what sculpture you choose to buy, how you smash it, and how you display it: Will you just pile up the debris on a pedestal? Put it in a trash bag? Perhaps a small cardboard box?

And wait for this: In doing so, I will reveal the everyday person's attitude towards art by expressing the reverence they have for the regretful actions they took destroying what should have been a permanent work. My smashed art demonstrates the yin yang relationship people have to those things we create: we want them around, but we don't. It's the inherent dichotomy of...

... I see I've reached blogger's limit for mumbo jumbo. You get the picture, and you know darn well I could sell that and get an NEA grant if (a) I knew how to do that and (b) hadn't ticked off Eric Cantor.

Anyway, I'm thinking about art today because I recently read about something that I think might be art, but, unlike every other post here on The Best Of Everything, when it comes to art I don't automatically assume that my opinion is righter than yours (hence, the questioning nature of this category), and so I'll put it to you: Is This Art? This being:

A videogame about visiting an artist.

That's the concept behind "The Artist Is Present" a new videogame that sounds, if anything, worse than those "Math Blaster" games your aunt used to get you for Christmas ("I know you like video games, and I know you like math...")

The videogame was created about Marina Abramovic, the self-described "grandmother of performance art." Abramovic's first performance piece ever is described by Wikipedia this way:

In her first performance Abramović explored elements of ritual and gesture. Making use of twenty knives and two tape recorders, the artist played the Russian game in which rhythmic knife jabs are aimed between the splayed fingers of her hand. Each time she cut herself, she would pick up a new knife from the row of twenty she had set up, and record the operation.

After cutting herself twenty times, she replayed the tape, listened to the sounds, and tried to repeat the same movements, attempting to replicate the mistakes, merging together past and present.

She set out to explore the physical and mental limitations of the body – the pain and the sounds of the stabbing, the double sounds from the history and from the replication. With this piece, Abramović began to consider the state of consciousness of the performer. “Once you enter into the performance state you can push your body to do things you absolutely could never normally do.
You could read all that, or you could watch this:

Or you could just remember Bishop doing the same thing,

but presumably Marina didn't copy it from him, since absent help from Time Traveling Elvis, that's not possible.

Anyway, back in March to May 2010, Marina did a piece... sure, call it that ... in which she sat at the Museum of Modern Art, and people would have to pay $25 to get in and then wend their way through nude people to sit at a table across from her, sitting for as long as they felt like sitting. Also, other artists recreated other things that Marina had done, and you watched them as they waited.

That's not the thing that may be art, though, although it would be fair to ask that question, even though I think the idea of watching other artists recreate an artist's work while you wait to speak to the artist actually sounds pretty artsy (not as artsy as Smashed Art, but we can't all be jillionaires/geniuses, so sorry, Marina).

The thing that might be art is, as I said, the videogame based on that exhibition:

This HuffPo article gives you the basics, but I also already gave you the basics: you boot up and you go into the museum and pay money and then... you wait in line.

And you wait.

And you wait.

And maybe, eventually, you get to meet the artist.

Best of all, you can play the game yourself, for free. I've started a game just now -- at 3:44 p.m. today -- and this is how far I got:

So far.

But I'm really good at waiting. This might be the first video game ever that is particularly suited to my skills. If I have a criticism, it's that (a) the ticket lady made me go through the left side even though nobody was in line, and (b) there's no way to have 8-bit me use his cell phone to kill the time.

Also, no way to do two-player, as I'd like to compete against Sweetie.

HuffPo has already claimed that this game is art -- they said just that, but the actual creator, Pippin Barr, isn't so sure, saying this on his blog:

I happened to read bits and pieces of Raph Koster’s Theory of Fun today. It’s actually a pretty alright book, despite having a general aesthetic that didn’t work for me in the slightest – some really nice observations in there, and well put. There’s a chapter toward the end, after building through descriptions of what games are, about “Where Games Should Go”. Which I found to be an enticing project, since Koster makes it clear he’s not into games going where they always go (with a gun).

Unfortunately, while the rhetoric in the final chapter is essentially laudable, there wasn’t much in the way of concrete examples to help us out. ... it wasn’t quite enough. I imagine these mystical platonic “ludemes” (as Koster calls them) floating around, still out of reach. Somebody just tell me what they are already.

Me too. I'm not sure I understood any of that. I may not be ready for this art thing after all. (But I'm pretty sure I'm ready to be a jillionaire). Barr adds:

Critically, these alternate games seem like they’re not going to be fun. And it’s all very well to talk about how games don’t have to be fun, they can be “interesting” or “challenging” or “disturbing” and so on.

This is true, but it’s also true that basically nobody’s going to play those games except the brave vanguard. The question then becomes whether the vanguard can convince anyone else to play them too.

Unlike a lot of other media, games have kind of “grown up” too fast – not in a maturity way, more in a giant meat-headed ogre kind of way. This meat-heat, often bellowing “fun” at the top of its lungs, is kind of hard to dislodge from its hulking position in the mainstream. In a lot of ways there simply wasn’t time to establish alternate streams of “what games can be” before the juggernaut sat its ass down.

That's more like it. I can say ass, so art, you're back on the table, career-wise.

I'm going to see how close I can get to Marina today. Supposedly, you actually can get to the front of the line. We'll see.

Try the game here, and also: Is this art?

UPDATE: 4:10 p.m.: There's a guy behind me. Eat it, buddy. I was here first.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Who cares what they look like on the red carpet? (Eye Candy)

Here's what this year's Emmy winners look like when they're really trying to impress you:

Kate Winslet: (Mildred Pierce, a/k/a, "Olden Times Are Sexy!")

Ty Burrell, ("Modern Family," a/k/a "The Model For Every Show You'll See On TV Next Year.")

Kyle Chandler: ("Friday Night Lights" a/k/a "It's not on any more, and you didn't watch it when it was, so quit pretending..."):

Julie Bowen, ("Modern Family." a/k/a "You Already Know This One, I Said It Up Above.")

Julianna Margulies, ("The Good Wife" a/k/a "If We Make It Kind Of About Eliot Spitzer, They Won't Notice It's Just The Practice Crossed With Ally McBeal.")

Barry Pepper, ("The Kennedys," a/k/a "What 'The Clintons' Miniseries Will Be Modeled After In 2032.")

Jim Parsons: ("The Big Bang Theory". I'm not going to make fun of it because I watch this show):

Peter Dinklage, ("Game Of Thrones," a/k/a "The Gritty Reboot of Lord Of The Rings")

Maggie Smith, ("Downtown Abbey." [I don't know this one. She's Harry Potter's professor... back in the day.)

Guy Pearce, ("Mildred Pearce," a/k/a, "Did you know people didn't bathe regularly back then? Put's a different spin on those sex scenes, doesn't it?")

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Best Worst Story? An Ongoing TBOE Investigation, 2:

This is part 2 of my ongoing look at how to identify terrible stories, and choose the best of those all-time terrible stories. Part 1 is here.

I have to say something to start this post, because I was this close to starting this post with a quote.

Starting any piece of writing with a quote is, of course, one of the worst ways to start a piece of writing. There are three things I think really mark the low point of writing:

1. Starting your book/essay/tweet with a quote, and
2. Starting your book, etc., with a dictionary definition, and
3. Making what you're writing an "open letter."

Plus! Special Bonus Low Point Of Writing!

4. Bill Simmons.*
*Those of you who thought I was going to say "Rachel In The OC," go to the back of the class. What Rachel in the OC does is not writing. She just reprints old "I Love Lucy" scripts with the word "snark" surgically injected.** **Those of you who thought I was going to say "Diablo Cody" forgot that her career is over.
Anyway, I was going to, for a moment, start this post with this line:

Like most events in my life, this story begins in a bar.

That's the opening line of "Back To Life," the story that prompted this whole investigation, a story that the author said himself was a terrible story. Whether that is the case remains to be seen and judged by me, the man whose opinions are righter than yours. (It's true! It says so right on the blog header, and if it's on the internet, it must be true.)

I don't, as a general rule, put much stock in opening lines -- not in the good way. An opening line can, as I began this post by pointing out, kill a story, but I don't think an opening line of a book can make a story.

Think about it: people talk about opening lines of stories as being great, or terrible. If you google "best opening lines of books," you'll find list after list after list of great opening lines -- the 100 best, the 25 best, the 20 best, the best ones to grab young adult readers according to NPR, and this Goodreads poll that manages to combine great opening lines with boogers:

Sometimes the first line of a book just grabs you by the nostrils and drags your fool head into its pages, preventing escape in any way, shape or form. Which of these opening lines has its phalanges most firmly planted in your nasal cavities?

Yes, what I look for in a book is a good sinus-clearing beginning.

The top vote-getter on that poll right now is:

I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.
which is from a book I've never heard of, I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith, and that, in fact, appears to be the rare opening line that really is good: it made me want to read the next line, because as I read that one I thought "who writes sitting in a kitchen sink? What's going on there?"

But it's also not so good an opening line, because, as I clicked on the link my mind filled with reasons why someone might be writing in the kitchen sink: Was this some sort of out-of-body experience? Was the protagonist killed and her (I automatically assumed it was a woman) body parts in the sink? Was it from the point of view of a baby? What was going on?

But, the reality was then disappointing: The story turns out to be of a girl whose family lives in a castle and she's trying to be a writer, according to its Goodreads profile, and the remainder of the first paragraph goes on to read:

That is, my feet are in it; the rest of me is on the draining board, which I have padded with our dog's blanket, and the tea-cosy.

Had that been included in the rest of the "opening line," I would never have gone on to check out the book, because I would instantly have realized that I Capture The Castle had to do with tea-cosys (cosies?) and not disembodied narrators speaking from a garbage disposal.

So why is that the number one choice of Goodreads voters, it's 5.7% of the vote narrowly edging out

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

From Pride & Prejudice? And how do any of those rate above the third-place bronze medal winner:

"There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it."

From The Voyage of the Dawn Treader?

That latter is an excellent line, by the way -- as is Jane Austen's quote (which works even without zombies) and many of the other lines on that list are good lines, too, which is to be expected from good writers; good writers come up with good lines.

But what makes them great? The Castle opening line tells you nothing about the book itself. Jane Austen's gives you an idea exactly what that book's going to be talking about, while Dawn Treader's introduces the main character but does not tell you that he's going to be sailing off the edge of the world with a talking mouse and some one-footed gnomes.***
***Spoiler Alert!
Those are the best opening lines according to people on Goodreads, of course. (I think that I am on Goodreads but I'm not sure. When I tried to log in, none of my passwords or IDs worked. The fantastic growth of sign-ins, PINs, log-ins, verifications, IDs, and everything else has left me with no way, ever, to recall what ID or PIN or password I'm using, so if my browser doesn't automatically sign me in, I can't get on the site.)

Then there's the American Book Review list -- the list that author Michael Offutt might call written by industry professionals and therefore out of touch with dung. The ABR is written by professors at someplace called the "University of Houston-Victoria," which I don't think is a place at all, and says that it specializes in:

reviews of frequently neglected published works of fiction, poetry, and literary and cultural criticism from small, regional, university, ethnic, avant-garde, and women's presses. For nearly thirty years, ABR has been a staple of the literary world.

The literary world of avant-garde neglected women's poetry. That is a very small world, indeed.

ABR's top 100 best opening lines begin with

Call me Ishmael,

from Moby-Dick, which they at least titled correctly; many people forget the hyphen in that name, just as they do in Spider-Man, and just as they forget that Batman is actually called "The Batman."

The first line of the first story featuring The Batman, by the way, is:

Calm yourself, my boy, and tell me all about it.

Which isn't such a bad opener, if you think about it.

Interestingly, ABR picks Jane Austen's Pride opener as number two, also, so there you go: Jane Austen is a solid silver medalist when it comes to writing. Whether that's sexism or rabid anti-Britite-ism at play is up to you to decide.

Moby-Dick's opening line is terrible, but that's because Moby-Dick, the book, is terrible. It's god-awful, nearly unreadable: ponderous and boring and overly laden with symbolism. Moby-Dick would be the worst book ever written, except it's not, for two compelling reasons:

1. Anna Karenina was written, and
2. Anna Karenina is the worst book ever written.*4

*4. Um. I think I just gave away the conclusion of this series. Unless I change my mind...
So there's the first thing to worry about opening lines in picking The Best Worst Book: Does the opening line work? And what does that mean?

This series, after all, isn't about best opening lines. It's about Worst Books, and so to look at lines that don't work, we could look at that I Capture The Castle opener - -which gives a misleading impression of the rest of the story, if you have an overactive, sci-fi-y imagination like I do. Or we could google the worst opening lines of books.*5

*5 If you're a sharp-eyed reader, you've noted that I talk about
opening lines of books, not novels. Everyone else talks about opening lines of novels, but why should it be limited to that? Should nonfiction not have a compelling opening line? Are the opening lines of movies not worth of consideration? What about songs? Consider these opening lines:

a. "Fiddle-dee-dee. War, war, war."
b. "The lunatic is on the grass."
c. "So long, Pop! I'm off to check my tiger trap."

Those are the opening lines from, respectively, Gone With The Wind, the movie; the song Brain Damage/Eclipse by Pink Floyd, and Calvin & Hobbes, the comic strip:

and each of them might be considered equally compelling except that nobody bothers to worry about opening lines for things that aren't novels, the idea being, I think, that with everything else, there's something else to grab you. In nonfiction, you can have a terrible opening line (as Nothing Like It In The World, by Stephen Ambrose does) because you already know what the book is about. In comics and movies you can have good or terrible opening lines and nobody cares because there's artwork and opening shots and credits and things. One could argue that the opening shot of a movie is more important than the first thing said, but then, aren't those things also true of novels? There is the cover art and the back-page blurb and the reviews, and the general idea of the subject matter, all adding up to more than the opening line.i

: Bad opening lines. Let's google them, and let's ignore the Edward Bulwer-Lytton contest for bad opening lines, as those lines are for books that don't exist, and, as I pointed out in the first installment, Bulwer-Lytton (whose "It was a dark and stormy night" inspired the contest) was actually a wildly successful writer in his day -- far more so than Melville, who gets all the acclaim undeservedly.

That's not actually the whole line, though. The whole first line is this:

"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

Which I find kind of compelling. Of course, I like wildly-long sentences that diverge off on different pathways of the mind, expanding out in an almost-explosive way like tiny mental fireworks, or perhaps a phalanx of miniature sprites flitting out to to gather from different pockets of imagination a bevy of individual notions, which they will then bring back back home to roost in the original idea of a complete narrative thought.*5.

*5 I'm awesome.
The Bulwer-Lytton contest people have started their own effort to identify terrible opening lines, and they've gone with this one:

"She wore a dress the same color as her eyes her father brought her from San Francisco."

That really is wildly bad. Or wildly good, if you don't care about the rules of grammar, which I don't, really. Or wildly even better, if you think for a moment that perhaps the protagonist's father really did buy her some eyes in San Francisco; having now thought of that interpretation, you (like me) might be tempted to go read the story... but don't. The line is from Danielle Steel's Star and the odds of there being eyeball transplants in that story seem rather small. Read Philip K. Dick, instead.*6

*6 "A merry little surge of electricity piped by automatic alarm from the mood organ beside his bed awakened Rick Deckard" is the first line in Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep, although I would postulate that the real first line is that title -- that'll hook you sci-fi-ers in faster than Rick Deckard's mood clock radio. Can one hit snooze on a mood?
What have we learned? That opening lines only matter, so far as the literati and readers are concerned, for novels, and that good opening lines tend to be associated with good books. Which is to say, if you liked the book, you probably liked the opening line... because you liked the book. Most of those bad-first-lines were from books the people didn't like, and some of them I found to be rather entertaining:

"Anthony Rowley didn't look like a self-confessed sadistic rapist."

That's from an author named Sarah Lovett, in her book, Acquired Motives, and it's criticized on that site I linked to earlier, but why? It kind of gives a Dexter-y feel to the book, right away, good if you like Dexter*7

*7. I don't. But Dexter was a series of books before it was a series of TV shows, the very first line of which, ever, was a single word: Moon. (It goes on to read: "Glorious moon. Full, fat, reddish moon, the night as light as day, the moonlight flooding down across the land and bringing joy, joy, joy." That's a bad opening, if you ask me. It sounds like a seventh-grader's poetry written in a notebook that had a unicorn on the cover but which was scribbled over the by owner who suddenly felt as though the unicorn was too little-kiddish even though she still really likes unicorns. Also, it isn't likely with a red moon that the night is as light as day.
The thing about an opening line, then, is it's a pickup line. It's the first thing, really, the writer says to you after he or she walked across the bar. You saw the clothing and the hair and the nervous smile (or, alternately, the high-five to his bros and the swagger) and then you waited, expectantly, until he or she opened up and said something like

I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me; had they duly considered how much depended upon what they were then doing;—that not only the production of a rational Being was concerned in it, but that possibly the happy formation and temperature of his body, perhaps his genius and the very cast of his mind;—and, for aught they knew to the contrary, even the fortunes of his whole house might take their turn from the humours and dispositions which were then uppermost:—Had they duly weighed and considered all this, and proceeded accordingly,—I am verily persuaded I should have made a quite different figure in the world, from that, in which the reader is likely to see me.

That's from Tristram Shandy, number 19 on the ABR list of best opening lines, and how does that get considered better than Bulwer-Lytton?

(ABR, interestingly, ranks Bulwer-Lytton's stormy night just three places below that, at 22.)

As a pickup line, the opening line can shoot you down -- but it can't win the day. If it's terrifically bad, and how many opening lines really are, it'll kill the book. But if it's mediocre, or great, or nothing much yet because it's just the first 1-40 words out of about 100,000 or more, it'll get up- or down-graded based on the rest of the book. If you like the book, then even a mundane opening line:

It was love at first sight.

can be elevated by a great book. That line, that last one, was from Catch-22, and it's not much of a line, in itself. If Heller came up to you in a bar and said he loved you at first sight, you'd probably not listen to him much further -- but if, at the end of a long and fruitful life with Heller you'd probably look back and said "That's right, he began by saying It was love at first sight, that was kind of sweet" and upgrade the line after the fact.

The fact is, by the time you get to the opening line, you've already got an idea what's going on here and you're not going to stop reading the book if the line is awful. You probably won't even notice the line being awful until you later think about it, the way people pick up on plot points that don't make sense*8

*8 Like Commissioner Gordon's fake death in The Dark Knight, which STILL doesn't make any sense but you didn't notice it in the movie because you didn't have time to think.

in movies only after the fact.

From that perspective, Rogue's opening line:

Like most events in my life, this story begins in a bar.

Is pretty effective. Which means Rogue's book isn't really in the running for best worst book ever... unless I change my mind.

NEXT UP: What I should've done this time: Titles!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

READER NOMINATION: The Best Song That Makes You Feel Good (And Then Feel Bad About Feeling Good)

Apropos of what I was listening to yesterday, I just last night received a comment on my amazingly-popular post "The Ten Best Songs That Make You Feel Good (And Then Feel Bad About Feeling Good)"

That post, I'll note, is in fact amazingly popular; ever since I had this blog track which posts are the most popular, it's remained the number-one most popular post on the site... probably because if you google "Best Songs That Make You Feel Good" that post is the third-top result on Google:

That's kind of a boring image for this blog, don't you think? I should try to spice it up a bit. Try this:

Much better. It really highlights where my mind is at today.

Anyway, the post is popular, probably because people go looking for songs to make them feel better, find that post, then realize only too late that the songs themselves only superficially make you feel better, but when you get down into the meat of the lyrics, those songs are terribly depressing.

But they have a good beat and you can dance to them.

So now, "Anonymous" has suggested, just yesterday, that I missed a song for this list -- and that song, he said, is "Always Summertime" by The Gregory Brothers:

That's the video that comes up from the link supplied by Anonymous, who didn't break it down for you the way I did on the original post, so I'll try for him:

Why It'll Make You Feel Good: Well, first, it mentions summertime, and what's not to like about summertime? (I mean besides killer bees and heart attacks.) Plus, the song has that tinkly, summer-night feel to it: bells-y kinds of things in the background, light, breezy music. It's like a glass of lemonade on a day that's just hot enough to enjoy drinking lemonade.

Why It'll Then Make You Feel Bad: So look at the lyrics, which you probably didn't pay that much attention to the first time around because you were lost in lemonade-y thoughts:

It's always summertime
Here in my miiiiind
I think of how we were when we went out, so very

Happy together
Not afraid of foreverrrrrr
But you changed your mind
Or, as I was thinking when I first listened "Yeah, summertime. I love summer. Summer love... what's that now?"

The song goes on: in life revised the two never had to say good-by, and in fact it's always wintertime in her mind when she thinks about him now, all because he changed his mind. Stupid summertime! I hate you! And I'm not crazy about lemonade, either! It's very tart!

The lyric that should've tipped you off: This song's sneaky -- but it's right there in the fourth line "until you changed your mind." But it tips back and forth, throwing phrases in that you'll catch "happy together" and "you never went away" and all, and the way the song is sung those phrases independently hang there waiting for you to piece them together. So I don't blame you for missing it the first time around.

Thanks, Anonymous! for the suggestion!