in memoriam: your m.o.r. vanilla latte soundtrack

Posted in music by eddie on February 26, 2009

ding-dong, you're DEAD

Turns out the economy isn’t such a monster after all.  Muster all your might to restrain the river of tears: Muzak, the scourge of chain restaurant workers, retail employees and elevator operators across the globe, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

In hindsight, “Muzak” was such an accurate spelling for the company; they managed to butcher songs that I once adored, constantly repeat ones that caused me to heavily consider killing small animals, and introduce me to ones that made me consider ending it all in self-inflicted spork-stabbing carnage.

Muzak didn’t cruise the middle of the road, they paved it. They pumped gallons of milque all over your toast. Here’s a rundown of the aural snot we all grew far too accustomed to listening to while trying to innocently shop or eat:

Awful jazz covers of Top-40 songs: If hearing something like “Soak Up the Sun” by Sheryl Crow gave you any sort of positive imagery of being at the beach or playing volleyball with your bros, hearing the jazz rendition is akin to swimming in your bedpan at the geriatric ward during a four-finger prostate exam while watching public access television.


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birds of a feather

Posted in music, video by eddie on February 23, 2009

The Cardinals blew the Super Bowl, and it’s become increasingly shaky to borrow Joaquin as our newspaper’s spokeperson.  If a change must be made, I’m in full support of sleek French popsters Phoenix taking over the post as our celeb mascots. Their 2006 LP, It’s Never Been Like That, crept up on me and didn’t leave my rotation for months; they’re often aptly likened to a more hi-fi Strokes sound with a subtle hint of synth. And if you’re hyperventilating about the potential language barrier, you’re in luck!–fluent speakers.  Globalization, youz r best fwend.

Today the dudes’ site features a glitzy Flash intro and a free download of their new single, “1901,” from their forthcoming Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. It’s slick, it’s fun, it’s Phoenix.

Phoenix – “1901”

And here’ s some tubeage of my favorite song of theirs, “Long Distance Call”:

crab people

Posted in ad-aware by eddie on February 23, 2009

There’s plenty to be terrified of when it comes to Facebook’s razor-sharp ad targeting, but I can sleep assured knowing that no one has been hired to stake out my tagged photos for a sense of my flannel fashion tastes.  Or maybe they’re just trying to send a message? Observe:

metroTheir manly manifesto:

A metrosexual: is a modern, usually single man who is cool, smart, attractive, taking care of his appearance, cultured and up to date with the latest styles, that confuses some guys when it comes to his sexuality. But he’s so secure in his masculinity that he doesn’t care.

Riveting, and most definitely plucked from the latest Webster’s. And thank the Lawd-Jesus, you won’t need a translation dictionary if you’re a gringo confused by their title–it’s right in the logo!:



Posted in ad-aware, interview, music by eddie on February 19, 2009

A bit ago we marveled in snarky disbelief at the existence of, whose ad on Facebook seemed more fitting for an AARP newsletter.  But unlike some of our bloggy brethren, the journalists in us felt it unreasonable to leave the post as a hit-and-run affair.  We chatted with Bill Buckholz, the 28-year-old proprietor of UnderstandRap, who was nice enough to talk to us at length about his motivations behind the site, the rap scene in Seattle, parents making things uncool and why Katie Couric sucks.

PHOENIX DIVERSIONS: I can only surmise that you’re big fan of rap—or are you?

BILL BUCKHOLZ: I wouldn’t say I’m the most knowledgeable person about rap. I feel like I know a little bit more than the average person, but I haven’t always listened to rap music. For the most part I’ve been into other types of music. I’ve always been aware of rap and I’ve liked a lot of rap—I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan though.

P: What kind of artists in particular? Anyone that you’ve enjoyed over the years?

B: Probably the first artist that I really got into and really liked was Outkast. I really enjoyed a lot of their music. I thought a lot of it was pretty clever, good sound. Somewhat meaningful lyrics, at times. Lately I’ve listened to a lot of –I got [Lil Wayne’s] Tha Carter III, of course. Saw him when he came to Seattle. I’ll be seeing the Game at the end of the month. Big fan of T.I., Lupe Fiasco, people like that.

P: You said you’re from Seattle, and I don’t think there’s much of a rap scene up there, is there?

B: [Laughs] There’s really not. Lil Wayne played at Key Arena, kind of an interesting crowd there—pretty diverse, all sorts of different backgrounds there. There’s not really a local scene at all for it. There really doesn’t seem to be that much interest from the city as a whole, at least not that I’ve seen in the years that I’ve been out here.

P: I feel like the only rap artist I know from Seattle is Sir Mix-A-Lot.

B: [Laughs] Yeah, I can’ t think of any major rap acts from the past several years that have been from here.


your weekly juggalo update

Posted in juggalo beat, video, wtf by eddie on February 16, 2009

You’ll have to forgive me for my fascination with the seedy, painted underbelly of pop culture, the Juggalos; it could have to do with the fact I just finished a 2-liter of Faygo Moon Mist.

The Internet so indiscriminately and generously giveth: There are subcultures that probably would have trouble surviving without the Internet, or at least would have little growth or assembly potential.  Many of these groups are benevolent and righteous or at least innocuous. But Lord Internet knows no concept of “taketh.”

And then there were Juggalos.

Thankfully, the Internet also provides the opportunity for Juggalo conspiracy theorists to polish their craft.  Take this scathing example:

Come to think of it, I can’t really tell if the director is trying to criticize the Juggalos or stake a proud claim.  Whatever the case, the ensuing discourse roundly rejects any such riffraff:



inf-oh mercy

Posted in ad-aware, music, wtf by eddie on February 15, 2009

I’ll never tire of infomercials. They’re the bookends of our TV days, the colorful dead air space of AMAZING OFFERS and THAT’S NOT ALL and CAPITAL LETTER EXCLAMATIONS! where we find out about the products we never knew we needed (because we don’t), where we wonder “Where the hell are these people dialing 1-800 numbers at 3 a.m. buying tubes of Mighty Putty?”

Why should we trust any ad if it takes them over an hour to convince us this putty is worth our time?

I don’t seem to watch much T.V. anymore, so it’s a good thing that there’s a new wave of entrepreneurial swagger on the internet, where it’s even harder to grab our attention.

If you’re not avoiding the “PRESIDENT OBAMA’S IQ IS 125? WHAT’S URS?” or “DO YOU LIKE TAYLOR SWIFT? Y/N” e-seizures, you’ll find buried gems like this:



Yes, believe it! Wisdom, fortitude, glistening abs and a mastodonic penis IN 6 MINUTES, STARTING THIS INSTANT! Slicker than Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney selling snake oil.


Wait, so you’re telling me that morning Yanni sessions don’t already make my IQ shoot up like fireworks on the 4th of July?  How about the 5th of July? Labor Day?


Revisionist History

Posted in FML, wtf by Trevor on February 12, 2009
David Cameron was caught altering a Wikipedia article to win an arguement.

David Cameron was caught altering a Wikipedia article to win an argument.

More evidence for professors to cite when they tell you not to use Wikipedia: Tory leader David Cameron was caught altering the wikipedia entry on the painter Titian to win an argument with the Prime Minister of England about how old he was when he died.

From the Telegraph:

The argument was sparked last month when Mr Brown used an anecdote about the artist to explain the financial crisis.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, he said: “I’m reminded of the story of Titian, who’s the great painter who reached the age of 90, finished the last of his nearly 100 brilliant paintings, and he said at the end of it, ‘I’m finally beginning to learn how to paint,’ and that is where we are.”

The remarks were much-mocked at the time, and yesterday Mr Cameron got a big laugh at PMQs by suggesting they showed Mr Brown never got his facts right.

“You told us the other day you were like Titian aged 90. The fact is Titian died at 86,” he said.

Initially Wikipedia is believed to have recorded the artist as having died at 90.

But in the aftermath of the exchanges, an overzealous Conservative staffer altered the the online encyclopaedia to try to prove his leader right.

At 12.34pm, Titian’s date of death was altered from 27 August 1576 to 27 August 1572.

Numerous changes have been made since, which can be tracked with software on the site. The argument is unlikely to be resolved, because academics have never been able to agree on Titian’s exact lifespan.


The Force

Posted in video, wtf by Trevor on February 12, 2009

Jorge Luis Borges wrote a story called “Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius,” which you can (and should) read here, in 1940. In it, he discovers a vast conspiracy in which a small group of people create a fictional world — complete with its own history, language and philosophy — and work it slowly into the mainstream via encyclopedias. Eventually, as more and more people discover Tlon and Uqbar, the fictional history begins to meld with the real, and impossible artifacts described in the encyclopedia begin to turn up in real life.

Star Wars, I’ve been noticing lately, has done the same thing. Lucas’ vastly influential space opera (whatever that means, I just like the term) has spawned an absurdly intricate “expanded universe” that abides by a certain contingent and detailed history created by a large number of authors. The Star Wars universe has its own rules of what can happen in it, its own languages, it’s own moral, political, philosophical systems. And, lately, it’s been popping up in real life.

A Wired blog points out that architect Rem Koolhaas has designed a death star for the UAE:

The design has not yet been selected (and how could it be?) but just the idea that some dude (however influential he might be) would think that a country would like to buy a death star for a building is pretty audacious.

Life Without Buildings notices that a certain Tunisian hotel looks an awful lot like a sandcrawler:

Hotel du Lac, Tunisia

Hotel du Lac, Tunisia, and a sandcrawler

Online magazine Triple Canopy has an absolutely fascinating (if kind of brainy and obtuse) study of Star Wars and Modernism, in which they compare a lot of different modern art and design to the space opera aesthetic.

Also, just because it’s awesome, check out Disney’s 1979 Star Wars rip-off (or, um, you know, “space opera”), The Black Hole:

and if you’re not planning on watching the actual movie (why would you?) peep Disney’s pseudo-religious/totally trippy vision of what happens at the event horizon

Eugene O’Neo-Futurists??: Phoenix makes awful pun, chats with director Greg Allen.

Posted in interview, theatre by kalbing on February 9, 2009

More Reasons to go to the Goodman: A plug for the Neo-Futurists


As you may or may not know, during the Goodman Theatre’s three month-long series, “Global Exploration: Eugene O’Neill in the 21st Century” top-notch theater companies will be performing 6 of O’Neill’s better known plays at the Goodman Theater (Desire Under the Elms, The Hairy Ape, to name a few.) Companies heralding from Amsterdam, Portugal, New York, and Brazil will grace the prestigious stage. I’m sure they’ll be “transcendent…a triumph!” They always are.

But what I’m most excited about is Chicago’s very own Neo-Futurists‘ production of O’Neill’s Strange Interlude.


Greg Allen, founder of the Neo-Futurists and a prolific actor, director, and playwright, chatted with me about the Neo-Futurists (now in their 20th year of existence), their flagship show, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, and the experience of directing “Strange Interlude”, one of O’Neills more experimental works.

(**Check out the Phoenix in upcoming weeks to read the full-blown feature on the Neo-Futurists.**)

Phoenix Diversions: Tell me how you got into theater.

Greg Allen: I was interning at theater companies, directing some shows, and someone offered me a late night slot. I was young, looking for something to do late at night, and I came up with the idea of the Neo-Futurists, and told people it would run forever.

PD: I know you got your name from the Italian Futurists. How do they factor into the philosophy of the Neo-Futurists?

GA: Well, the Futurists had this incendiary, revolutionary talk, which attracted me. Though I left out their sexist, violent, fascist side. I was into their manifestos, their talk of embracing novelty, heralding a new future. I think that’s what theater is at heart– a new and enterprising event. That’s what theater has the potential to do. Everyone can take part in it. There’s the visceral presence of the audience, and the ideas of simultaneity, brevity, speed, no illusion.

Read more after the jump…


Fan Videos.

Posted in video, wtf by kalbing on February 9, 2009

Fan videos allow for a visceral, public expression of adoration for people we’ve never met, or, more often, don’t actually exist. (ex: Edward Cullen.)

My favorite fan-videos are those that feature President Barack Obama; in particular, music montages, more particular, psyched-out mind-blowing fan video montages.

I won’t get into the psychological/cultural/societal implications of this music video. I leave that to the experts.

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