Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Retro Video of the Week: "Left of the Dial" by The Replacements

Tonight and tomorrow night, The Replacements are going to be playing at The Riviera Theatre here in Chicago.  I'm going to the show tomorrow night, and I'm pretty pumped about it.  

For those not familiar with The Replacements, they started out as a hardcore punk band in the early '80s, then kind of mellowed their sound into more straightforward rock and roll as the decade went on, before breaking up in 1991 (right here in Chicago!).  They (or most of what's left of them) reunited in 2013 to play Riot Fest, and they have played a few festivals over the last few years.  Earlier this year, they announced their first tour in 24 years.

The band didn't make many music videos, so I went with a promo video for "Left of the Dial" off of 1985's Tim album.  I wish there were some videos from 1984's Let It Be, which is my favorite of their albums, but they didn't start making any music videos until 1985, so it is what it is.  Not that this is a bad song. It is an ode to college radio stations, which usually had lower FM call numbers and, thus, were usually to the very left side of the dial. You see kids, back in the day, before digital radio tuners, a radio had a dial and, like most things in the Western world, it went from left to right, increasing as you moved to the right, from 87.7 to 107.9.  When you listen to this song -- and pretty much any of their music -- you can see how they influenced '90s alternative rock and even bands today.  Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem (one of my favorite newer bands) said that this song was a particular influence on the band.  The video itself is pretty bare bones, but it allows you to focus on the music.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tuesday Top Ten: Big Ten College Towns

Last week, Athlon Sports released a top-to-bottom ranking of the Big Ten's college towns.  (Thanks to Kazda for sending me the link.)  Athlon polled ten "Big Ten experts" -- Gerry DiNardo, Dave Revsine, Tom Dienhart, and Brent Yarina of the Big Ten Network, Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune, Adam Rittenberg of, Kevin McGuire of College Football Talk, Sean Callahan of, Kevin Noon of, and Braden Gall of Athlon Sports and SiriusXM -- asking each of them to rank the Big Ten college towns from 1-14.  A first-place vote was worth 1 point, and a 14th-place vote was worth 14 points.

Here are the results, with the town, the school, and the point totals (with the first-place votes in parentheses), along with my thoughts:

1.  Madison, Wisconsin (Wisconsin) - 12 (8)
I have no beef with this.  Madison is a fun town, especially when you're there for a bachelor party.

2.  Ann Arbor, Michigan (Michigan) - 35 (1)
Ann Arbor -- who is a whore, mind you -- is an okay town with some nice campus buildings (the Law Quad is particularly cool), but it's not much of a party town compared to some of the other Big Ten towns.  Not that that's what this list is necessarily about, but I'm just sayin', if you want to go to a Big Ten town to have fun, Ann Arbor would not be in my top 6 or 7.

3.  State College, Pennsylvania (Penn State) - 37
I've never been to State College, so I can't really comment on how cool of a town it is.  However, from what I understand, it's not easy to get to, and it is very tolerant of child rapists and people who allow child rapists to continue to rape children, so there's that.

4.  Columbus, Ohio (Ohio State) - 54
If this was a poll of the best Big Ten towns in which you will see people throw beer bottles at opposing fans and shit in coolers before football games, Columbus would have received all ten first-place votes.

5.  Bloomington, Indiana (Indiana) - 60
Obviously, I am totally biased, given that I spent seven years in Bloomington and enjoyed every minute of it, but I can honestly say that Bloomington is the greatest college town in the world.

6.  Iowa City, Iowa (Iowa) - 64 (1)
I haven't been to Iowa City, but I've heard nothing but good things, especially if you want to get blackout drunk.

7.  Evanston, Illinois (Northwestern) - 76
Living in Chicago, Evanston is a like an adorable, yet deaf mute, little brother.  There are plenty of mildly fun things to do in Evanston, but if you just take the L south a few miles, you can have a lot more fun.

8.  East Lansing, Michigan (Michigan State) - 81
I have never had a bad time in East Lansing, or so I'm told.

9.  Minneapolis, Minnesota (Minnesota) - 83
I spent the first three months of my life in Minneapolis, and it was fucking cold.  For Christ's sake, they have tunnels downtown so people don't have to walk outside in the winter.  "But Minneapolis has a thriving art and music scene," someone who lives in Minneapolis might say.  Well, it also has a million mosquitoes in the summer and face-burning cold in the winter, but on the other hand, you could run into Prince.

10.  Lincoln, Nebraska (Nebraska) - 84
I've only been to Lincoln once, for a wedding, and I thought it was a pretty cool little city.  Granted, it was in the summer, so there weren't any students there.  I don't know if that would have made it better or worse.

11.  College Park, Maryland (Maryland) - 94
I've never been, and I don't really have any desire.  Yes, I'm still bitter about 2002.

12.  Champaign, Illinois (Illinois) - 105
Aside from the time that I went to Champaign to take the LSAT, I have always had a good time in Champaign.  The only issue is that, when the wind blows from a certain direction, it wafts the inimitable stench of livestock manure from the surrounding farms over the campus.

13.  Piscataway, New Jersey (Rutgers) - 129
The fact that Piscataway is in New Jersey and still didn't finish last is a testament to how absolutely despondent and soul-crushing of a place West Lafayette, Indiana is.

14.  West Lafayette, Indiana (Purdue) - 135
See, even unbiased people think West Lafayette is a total shithole.  7 of the 10 voters ranked West Lafayette last, with good reason.  As my friend RPTre said, "The entire place smells like hot dog water."  Frankly, I think that's being a little too kind.  If you like a combination of raw sewage and industrial effluence hanging in the air, mixed with boxy, utilitarian architecture, horrible-looking people, overcast skies, and literally zero men's basketball NCAA championship banners, then West Lafayette may be the place for you.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Midwestern Eavesdropping

Two female college students discussing movies they have to watch for a class:
Female #1:  "I have to watch something with Harrison Ford.  Blade something.  I guess it's a famous sci-fi movie.  I don't know."
Female #2:  "Blades of Glory?"
Female #1:  "Yeah, maybe."
Eavesdropper:  Pea Head

Listen to Hair Band Friday - 4/24/15

Hair Band Friday - 04/24/15 by GMYH on Grooveshark

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Retro Video of the Week: "Buffalo Stance" by Neneh Cherry

As a bit of an homage to yesterday's post -- and, more specifically, the animal I could have had as a pet -- this week's Retro Video of the Week will be Nenah Cherry's 1988 hit "Buffalo Stance."  I remember when this song came out because I don't think I'd ever heard the word "gigolo" used so prominently in a song, other than in David Lee Roth's 1985 cover of "Just a Gigolo."  It turns out the "gigolo" was actually Cherry's boyfriend at the time, and the "crocodile feet" were just a reference to his Lacoste shoes.  I still prefer to think of the song as a tribute to working men everywhere -- guys just trying to get make ends meet by bangin' chicks.

"Buffalo Stance" was a legit international success, hitting #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart, as well as #1 in The Netherlands and Sweden, #2 in Germany and Switzerland, #3 in Canada, Norway, and the UK, #7 in Austria and Ireland, and #14 and #21, respectively, in New Zealand and Australia.  

Of course, you may also remember Cherry's half-brother Eagle-Eye, who himself had some major chart success in 1997 with "Save Tonight."  I assume Neneh and Eagle-Eye are one of the few, if not the only, brother-sister pairs whose last name is not Osmond who have both had Top 5 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.  If anyone out there feels like doing the research to back up this theory, please do so and report back to me.

Tuesday Top Ten: Animals I Have Cared For, Owned, or Could Have Owned

Over the course of my life, I have owned several animals -- pets, I guess normal people would call them.  I have also cared for other people's pets while they were spending a week at Hedonism.  There were also opportunities to obtain animals that I passed up on for one reason or another.  Here are the top ten animals I owned, cared for, or could have owned.

10 (tie).  Wild mice (owned)
Not long after my parents separated, my dad began to notice evidence of mice in his new house.  For reasons that are still unclear to me, he decided to go with those humane mouse traps that keep the little buggers alive.  For reasons that are even more unclear to me, he decided to put the first two he caught into a terrarium.  As it turned out, one was a dude and the other was a lady,  Soon, two became about fifteen.  The problem was that it was nearly impossible to clean the cage because they would jump out, so the cage tended to get stanky pretty quickly.  And they would crawl on the metal mesh roof of the cage, making a grating noise that was not conducive to sleep.  Eventually, my dad got wise and took them out to a forest preserve, where he released them before hunting them down one by one with a Bowie knife.

10 (tie).  Goldfish (owned)
When I was a kid, like most idiots, I had a few goldfish.  I won mine by throwing a ping pong ball into a goldfish bowl at my grade school's Fun Fair.  I named them Psycho and Pyro.  They died like a week later, despite my steadfast care and compliance with reasonable feeding guidelines.  Aside from my sister-in-law, who managed to keep the same goldfish alive for something like nine years, goldfish don't seem to last much longer than a month.

9.  Betta fish (owned)
Jester and I had a betta named Todd nearly ten years ago, and last year, we got another betta, which the kids named Thomas.  Bettas pretty much suck as pets because you can't put them in an aquarium with other bettas, unless you are running some sort of betta fighting ring, in which case, please email me.  I want in.

8.  Rabbit (cared for)
At some point, Jester and I did some rabbitsitting.  The thing pissed on me.  I was not amused.

7.  Dwarf frogs (cared for)
You might think frogs are pretty cool, but these little guys were relatively worthless.  They just swim, and they don't even look at you when you ask them questions.

6.  Box turtle (cared for)
Daughter's classroom has a turtle, and we watched it over winter break.  It was much more interesting than I thought it would be.  Did you know that turtles eat lettuce?  I didn't either.  Unfortunately, we had to keep it in its cage more than we would have liked because Lollipop is a lot like Lenny from Of Mice and Men.  She absolutely cannot be trusted around free-range animals that she can pick up.  That turtle got picked up and immediately dropped the first time we let it crawl around on the floor.  Thankfully, turtles have hard shells to protect them from careless three-year-olds.

5.  Scorpion (owned)
For a period of about two years in law school, I owned a scorpion, which I named Bea Arthur because I wasn't sure if it was a male or female.  As a Scorpio, this was more than just a pet.  Bea provided hours of entertainment, as my roommates and I stared at it and prodded it with several pencils taped together, hoping to see it sting a cricket.  We never did.  Then, one foggy April Saturday morning, Bea wasn't responsive.  She had succumbed to consumption, a victim of her own cold blood.  We had a short funeral, complete with "Amazing Grace" on bagpipes blaring from the stereo.  I wrapped Bea in cellophane and buried her several inches under the ground next to our rental property.  Then "How Do U Want It?" by 2Pac came on, and we started dancing and then went inside and cracked some Natty Lights.  That's what she would have wanted.

4.  Garter snake (cared for)
In junior high, my science teacher had a garter snake in his classroom named Action Jackson.  I watched it both winter breaks, and it was pretty awesome.  Action Jackson ate live goldfish.  For a seventh or eighth-grade boy, this was nothing short of spectacular.  Hell, I would still find watching a snake eat a goldfish to be pretty cool.  One day, I would like to own a snake.  I'd probably name it Jake Roberts.

3.  Dog (owned and cared for)
Harley, my possibly autistic mutt who is approximately 80 years old now, is the first dog I've ever owned, so maybe my view is skewed.  Sure, she's a little skittish and hates nearly every man in the world, but in general, she's been a really good dog.  She was easy to housebreak, and she has always been a late sleeper.  We have dogsat many canines over the years, and I can't say that all dogs are as willing to sleep until 10 without bitching (pun intended).  In general, dogs are cool, though.

2.  Piranhas (owned)
Sophomore year in college, my roommates and I bought two piranhas, Double Down and Two-Tone Slim.  If we could have afforded more than two, presumably we would have bought more than two.  They ate goldfish, and it was really fun to watch them stalk and kill their prey.  They were a definite conversation piece.  Chicks would always stop by our room in the fraternity and be like "Nice piranhas.  Where's the bathroom?"  And we'd be all "next door on your right."

1.  Buffalo (could have owned)
Back in the summer of aught three, I was getting ready to move out of Bloomington for good.  My roommates and I had a problem, though:  we had a ton of booze, but not a reasonable amount of time to drink it all.  Our solution was to throw a hairy buffalo party, which we dubbed The Muthafuckalo.  In case you're not familiar with a hairy buffalo, there are a few variations, but it general goes like this:  you take all the booze you have, pour it into a receptacle of some sort (a brand new trash can, in our case), and you make a very strong punch.  We cut up a bunch of fruit and let it soak for a while in the booze, which was very whiskey heavy.  The party ended up being a total sausage fest, but it was a good time nonetheless.  It could have been legendary.

You see, a few days before the party, my roommate and I ran into Dave, an affable stoner who lived across the street from us for the previous two years.  We told him about the hairy buffalo party and invited him.  "Do you guys want a buffalo?" he asked.  We laughed, assuming he was kidding.  "I know a guy who can get you a buffalo," he continued, clearly misconstruing what a hairy buffalo party was.  Rather than dismiss him outright or question the circumstances under which he became acquainted with a "buffalo guy," we asked, "So you mean, we would rent the buffalo for the party?"  "No," Dave replied, "You would have to buy a baby buffalo and keep it."  Setting aside the fact that our landlord had an airtight "no pets" clause in the lease, we incredulously looked at this guy and explained politely that we did not have the knowledge, desire, finances, or acreage necessary to raise a baby buffalo.  "Okay," Dave said, "Well, let me know if you guys change your mind."  

Not buying that buffalo is one of the biggest regrets of my life.  Every time I eat a bison burger, I think that could have been our little Dorothy Zbornak.  We would have named it Dorothy Zbornak.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Retro Video of the Week: "Sussudio" by Phil Collins

Yesterday marked the 15th anniversary of the release of one of my favorite movies, American Psycho, based on one of my favorite books (although admittedly, I didn't read the book until after I saw the movie).  Thanks to my friend and murder confidante Adam for sending me a link to a Mental Floss article entitled "19 Things You Might Not Know About American Psycho."  I actually didn't know most of these, including that Leo and Johnny Depp were both tapped (even if unofficially) to play Patrick Bateman.  I can't imagine anyone other than Christian Bale as Bateman, so I'm glad he ended up with the role, which is still my favorite performance of his.  He is nothing short of brilliant as Patrick Bateman.  His delivery, cadence, accent, facial expressions, and mannerisms are perfect.  As far as dark humor/satire goes, I can't think of a better film than American Psycho.  I quote it unconsciously at this point.

There are so many great lines and scenes in the movie, one of which is the scene where Bateman is videotaping his sexual escapades -- which I would call "sexcapades," by the way, but then again, I love word combinations -- with two prostitutes, Christy and Sabrina ("more of a dirty blonde").  The scene gives us the line "don't just stare at it; eat it!" and the image of Bateman flexing for himself in the mirror and pointing to the camera whilst engaged in lovemaking in the style of dogs.  Before that, he goes on one of his patented soliloquies, this time about Genesis and Phil Collins, ending with the line, "This is 'Sussudio,' a great, great song, a personal favorite."  Then he plays "Sussudio" during the aforementioned sexcapades.  If you're ever seen this scene, it is highly likely that you think of it whenever you hear "Sussudio."

"Sussudio" is one of four Billboard Top 10 songs off of Collins's third solo album, No Jacket Required, and one of two songs off the album to reach #1, which it did in July 1985.  I was 7 at the time, and this was my favorite song when it came out.  I remember being absolutely flabbergasted when I first heard Collins speak and he had a British accent.  I couldn't reconcile that British singers and American singers could pronounce words similarly while singing, but then speak with different accents.  As for the title, it is a gibberish word that Collins made up when he was trying to find a word that fit the rhythm of a drum track.  He couldn't find anything else that fit better, so he just kept "sussudio" as the lyric and song title.  The rest, they say, is history.  And flexing while banging.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tuesday Top Ten: Things a Man Should Never Do In Order To Not Be Emasculated by Kazda

Every now and then, we here at GMYH get a request to do a guest post.  About a month ago, I got an email from longtime reader, occasional confidante, and funny guy, Kazda.  After making a pointed barb at GMYH's lack of content and humor, he offered to do a Tuesday Top Ten about "things a man should never do in order to not be emasculated."  Despite the double negative, I decided to go ahead with it.  Of course, March is the month of college basketball and my related Tuesday Top Tens, and Kazda's list appears to be timeless, so I waited until now to post this.  The views expressed below are not necessarily those of GMYH's, so if you're offended, that's on you and/or Kazda, not me.  Also, I just copied and pasted his list without any edits, so any phrasing, punctuation, typos, or grammatical errors are entirely Kazda's fault.  So, without further ado, here is Kazda's list of the Top 10 Things a Man Should Never Do in Order to Not be Emasculated.

1.  Carry the basket at the grocery store (conjures up images of skipping through a flower patch).  Just go with a cart even if you're picking up a limited number of items or just carry said items in your hands.

2.  Run with a sparkler

3.  Hand another man a gift in public

4.  Never look a male hair stylist in the eye while receiving a haircut

5.  Never compliment another man on his belt buckle

6.  Never publicly admit how excited you are for your new mini Cooper to be delivered

7.  Never wear open toed shoes at work

8.  Don't ever use exclamation points in emails or emoticons

9.  Don't let another man use your new grill before you or take over grilling responsibilities

10.  Don't let your buddy hand your sporting event ticket to the gate worker

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Rejecting Rejection and Having Your Rejected Rejection Rejected

I will be spending most of next week returning videotapes in America's wang, so I will not be posting anything during that time.  To tide you over, in addition to tomorrow's Hair Band Friday playlist, I figured I would give you one additional nugget.

First, I'd like to take a trip down memory lane.  In college in my fraternity, some guys started the tradition of posting and annotating their ding letters.  For those of you who may not be familiar with the term "ding letter," it is a rejection letter from a company to which you have applied for a job.  It is, without fail, a form letter that explains how impressed the letter's author was with your resume and experience, but then, despite how awesome you are, nonetheless tells you that you will not be offered a job.  Often, these letters are folded so quickly that the ink is not yet dry, and often these letters contain typos, inaccuracies, or, in the case of one of my former roommates with a mildly androgynous name, the occasional "Ms." instead of "Mr."

When I was in law school, I applied to dozens of law firms in the Midwest and elsewhere around the country, foolishly believing that one of them might offer me a job, or even a callback interview.  Needless to say, I received a lot of ding letters.  During my second year of law school alone, I think I was up in the 70s.  I might have even gotten to 100.  

There's only so much one guy can take, so when I received my 25th ding letter that year, I decided to take some action.  It was from a very large law firm headquartered in Chicago, and it was a typical form letter written by a faceless hiring partner's secretary, undoubtedly signed hastily by the partner as he laughed diabolically before sexually harassing a young female associate.  I decided to write back -- a reverse ding letter, if you will.  Using a similar tone and format as a standard ding letter, I thanked him for his ding letter and explained that our address received a lot of ding letters, but his was the 25th, so I was rejecting it.  I sent it via post, and hoped perhaps this asshole would have a sense of humor and at least give me a call.  No such luck.  Instead, I assume that got me blackballed from the Chicago legal community for several years.

Fast forward fourteen years.  Today, I read an article about a high school student in North Carolina who applied to Duke, but didn't get in.  Upon receiving her ding letter from Duke, she wrote an e-mail (kids these days and their lack of formality) back rejecting Duke's rejection.  It read:
Dear Duke University Admissions,
Thank you for the rejection letter of March 26, 2015. After careful consideration, I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your refusal to offer me admission into the Fall 2015 freshman class at Duke.  
This year I have been fortunate enough to receive rejection letters from the best and brightest universities in the country. With a pool of letters so diverse and accomplished I was unable to accept reject letters I would have been able to only several years ago. 
Despite Duke's outstanding success in rejecting previous applicants, you simply do not meet my qualifications.  Therefore I will be attending Duke University's 2015 freshmen class.  
I look forward to seeing you then. 
Brilliant!  However, this poor girl suffered the same fate as I did with my reverse ding letter.  Duke e-mailed her back and reiterated that she would not be admitted to Duke.  Nonetheless, it was a bold move on her part, and as a reverse dinger myself, I applauded her moxie.

The article doesn't mention what other colleges rejected her (which she alludes to in her e-mail to Duke), but does mention that she was accepted to South Carolina.  Much like my arrogance in thinking that, with a middling first-year GPA, I would have had a shot at landing a job at one of the top firms in the world, perhaps this young woman was trying to outkick her coverage, so to speak, since Duke is ranked #8 in the venerable U.S. News & World Report rankings of national universities -- tied with Penn and ranked higher than three other Ivy League schools -- and has a 12.3% acceptance rate.  On the other hand, South Carolina is ranked #113 -- in the bottom half of the academically challenged SEC and ahead of only 14 of the 65 "Power Five" conference schools -- and has an acceptance rate of 64.4%.  

So, maybe the lesson to be learned by all of this is that you shouldn't be upset or surprised when you fail to do something you are wholly unqualified to do.  Aim low, people, and you'll never be disappointed.  Most importantly, humor is the best medicine for rejection.

New Book: Walk This Way: The Autobiography of Aerosmith by Aerosmith with Stephen Davis

A few weeks ago, I finished reading The Producer:  John Hammond and The Soul of American Music by Dunstan Prial, which I thought was pretty fascinating.  Hammond was a Vanderbilt descendant, so he came from a shit ton of money, but he had no interest in the typical old money activities that a young man of his background might have normally pursued in the 1920s and 1930s.  Instead, he zeroed in on music and, more importantly, racial equality, sneaking to Harlem to see jazz from an early age.  As a producer and a talent scout, he is responsible for discovering or giving big breaks to the likes of Billie Holliday, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Bruce Springsteen, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, among many others.  He had a knack for recognizing a star before that person was a star.  On top of that, in the mid '30s, he convinced Goodman to integrate his band, which was unheard of at the time, and paved the way for future integration in the jazz world and, arguably, in American society in general.  It is rare that one person can have such an influence on music, much less over the course of six decades and many different genres.

After wasting a few weeks playing craps, blackjack, and Angry Bird on my train rides, I decided I needed to start another book.  I decided on Walk This Way:  The Autobiography of Aerosmith by Aerosmith with Stephen Davis, which I started reading a couple days ago.  It is kind of like The Dirt, in that it is told as a first-person oral narrative by multiple people, with various band members, friends, managers, and family members chipping in his or her own words.  While I own nearly all of Aerosmith's albums and have been a fan for almost 30 years, I really don't know a ton about their history, other than that they used to do a lot of drugs.  This book should fill me in on that and plenty of other details.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Retro Video of the Week: "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley

Yes, I realize I have used this video on a previous Retro Video of the Week, but in honor of the greatest web video-based April Fool's Joke -- YouTube's Rick Rolling of anyone who clicked on a video on its homepage on April 1, 2008 -- I had to post this again. Also, I'd like to let it be known that my roommates and I senior year in college were the first people to ever Rick Roll. We once put this song on repeat, cranked up the speakers as loud as they could go, locked the door to our room in the fraternity house, and headed to class. Upon our return several hours later, a normally mild-mannered guy who lived in the room next to us informed us that if he ever heard that song again, he would kill all of us. God I miss college.