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Courtesy of Brokey.McPoverty
Now let it rest. Enough already.
I have the astounding ability to appreciate music that I don’t particularly care to listen to. Case in point: bluegrass. Bluegrass has many fans, and many of them have most of their original teeth. I’m not a fan. The music sounds like orchestral music sped up to Benny Hill-like speeds, with a dash of “Deliverance” on the side. However, I can observe the musicians, listen to their obvious skill, and appreciate it for its own value. I might not like it, but damn if they aren’t good at it. That being said, I’m waiting to gain such an epiphany for one Ms. Taylor Swift.
I have nothing against Ms. Swift personally…she seems like a nice enough young lady, and plays a mean guitar (even if it’s been Bedazzled to the gills). She’s lovely, very personable, humble, seemingly intelligent, and keeps a relatively low profile for someone in the brightest of spotlights. Her music is light, straddling the line between pop and country a la Shania Twain (although with about 2.4 fewer metric tons of hotness), and easily digested by her core demographic, teenage girls. All that alone makes her better than most of her peers (are you reading this, Ke$ha?) The thing is, despite their various shortcomings and drama, most of her peers have something that she distinctly lacks: a good singing voice.
Taylor Swift is not a good singer. Yeah, I said it. She’s neither strong nor accurate, and you don’t get a thrill while listening to her warble out her tunes. She sounds uncertain and unsure, like someone trying to sing karaoke in front of American Idol judges with a bad mic and a broken television monitor. In Portuguese. It’s sad, and perplexing: how is this woman of decent guitar skills, above average beauty and substandard singing prowess so damn POPULAR? Given her popularity, the list of people who sound better than Taylor Swift is long and astonishing.
- Miley Cyrus, who typically sounds like a goat singing into a milk bucket, sounds better live than Taylor Swift.
- Lady GaGa, crazy as she is, sounds better than Taylor Swift.
- Ke$ha, author of the fine work “Tic Tok”, sounds better than Taylor Swift.
- Britney Spears sounds better than – OK, maybe that’s taking it a bit too far. But they’re CLOSE.
- Rihanna sounds better than Taylor Swift.
- Beyonce sounds so much better than Taylor Swift, it’s like Swift is a little kid singing into a hairbrush trying to convince her friends she’s someone famous.
All that means nothing in the grand scheme of things, because good singer or not, she’s free to make CDs and be successful as long as there are people willing to buy her stuff. Where I have issue is with her winning awards for her so-called talents. Oh sure, line up all the MTV Music Awards you want, and I get why the Country Music Awards would want their big crossover star to take home some hardware, but the GRAMMYS? Seriously? And not just any Grammys, either. Homegirl won Best Album over such luminaries as Beyonce, Dave Matthews Band, Lady GaGa, and the Black Eyed Peas. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t stellar competition, but no way is Taylor Swift better than ALL of these artists. But fine – maybe her produced CD is phenomenal (I’ve only heard a couple of songs from it), and that was a major deciding factor. Then came the duet with Stevie Nicks.
Stevie Nicks is an icon. She’s been around since dinosaurs roamed the earth, but the woman can sing. As she and Swift began singing “Rihannon”, it was clear that (a) Swift was way off pitch, and (b) Nicks looked like she wanted to just unplug Swift’s microphone and smack her agent dead in his mouth for booking her on that gig. It was embarrassing, because unlike a singer like Anthony Keidis from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Swift is supposedly able to SING WELL. And friends, she did not. It’s nearly enough to make me think that Kayne West actually had a point.
A poorly-executed and illogically-timed point, but a point nonetheless.
This wasn’t an isolated incident, either. I’ve seen her perform at live events more than once, and she comes off like someone uncomfortable in that situation. Why, then, is this studio performer thrust upon us like the next coming of Celine Dion (who I cannot STAND, but who can sing her narrow ass off)? It’s a mystery, folks.
You know, humanity as a whole is a fairly civilized group of primates. We generally coexist peacefully, we largely follow the same basic principles from group to group, and we invented bacon. We even have laws, edicts, guidelines, rules, handbooks, procedures, statutes, ordinances, and other methods for keeping the unruly in line with the rest of us who just want to get from point A to point B without some turniphead interrupting our flow. However, all these lines of text on paper don’t cover the full rainbow of transgressions that occur; they only hit the big stuff. There’s no real legal retaliation available for the minor things that affect us all. The police aren’t going to step in when people commit these small crimes against each other, and we the people aren’t permitted to exact the kind of revenge/justice these crimes warrant. But we should be allowed, shouldn’t we? I’m not talking about grievous bodily harm or death, just…appropriate ramifications. What I’m saying is, for some types of actions…
…some people just need to be smacked.
Now, by “smacked” I mean just that – smacked. Once, on the side of the head, preferably. The proper protocol for the punishment should be a smack on the head, an announcement of the offense, a curt nod and a rapid departure. So if you see a mom talking on her cell while her offspring is running amok through men’s wear and pulling all the IZOD pullovers off their 30% off hangers, you walk over to the mom, say “You are not watching your child, and he is running amok.”, then smack her in the head, give a short nod, and walk away. Mission complete.
Here’s my list of smackable offenses. Please add your own via comment, and when I have ’em all, I’ll make this post a static page with everyone’s pet peeves listed. If I don’t, you can smack me.
- Cutting people off in traffic when there’s no emergency
- Taking the last doughnut/pork chop/whatever when you’ve already had your fair share
- Overdramatized crying sequences on reality shows (like “The Biggest Loser”, for example)
- Condescending service people (plumbers, secretaries, DMV personnel) who treat you like you’re an idiot
- When I drop my son off at school in the morning, parents walk in the middle of the parking lot, taking their sweet time, and hold up traffic by a long ass while (from HDW)
- Talking on the cell phone in the bathroom stall and getting pissed when other people have to flush (from HDW)
- Cheering for the University of South Carolina
- Showing off pictures of your kids/cars/bowling pin collection when no one asked to see it
- Forcing your way onto the elevator before the other people can get off (from HDW)
- Yelling at your girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse in public
- Not paying attention to important information, then asking 39028345 questions about shit that was already covered
- Wearing bikinis when you’re clearly outside of the bikini-wearing demographic
- Complaining about problems, seeking advice for said problems, and then not listening or attempting to follow the aforementioned advice before complaining again
- Wearing Aéropostale
- Wearing plaid shorts when you’re over 35
- Assuming your experiences encompass all others’ experiences
- Cutting people off in conversation without listening to what they have to say
- Driving in the emergency lane on the highway when traffic’s at a standstill, and you’re not a cop/EMT/firefighter (from DWW)
- Texting/talking on the phone while out at dinner with someone (from DWW)
- Being late to meetings that YOU set up (from DWW)
- If you’re a meteorologist, cutting in on a popular TV show to show me how far the damn clouds have moved in the last 4 minutes (from DWW)
- Drying your hands on someone else’s face towel after using the bathroom (from HDW)
- Being mean to the elderly for no reason (that’s important – sometimes the elderly are jerks)
- Being shiftless, never keeping a job, never repaying debts, and never acknowledging other people’s kindness to you
- Burning popcorn at work, or cooking fish in the microwave at work
- Leaving the car on empty when others have to drive it later
- Being Coldplay
Let’s get it rolling, people. I know you’ve got some things that you wanna slap the taste out of somebody’s mouth for. List them! Power to the people!
TSA – Transportation Safety Administration
DIA – Denver International Airport
TLC – tender loving care, or R&B group from the ’90s. Take your pick.
I just wanted to drop you a line about the marvelous service I witnessed while traveling through the lovely and heavily-trafficked Denver International Airport on the weekend of June 26th. Truly, I’ve never seen such a display of human kindness, emotional restraint, empathy, rational thought, courage, discipline, or competence in all my airborne travels since the tragic events of 9/11. You fine government employees working at DIA should stand tall, chin high, and chest out.
Then you should kick each other square in the ass. Repeatedly.
Honestly, we travelers know that your job is tough, low-paying, and often pretty thankless, since the closest thing to a terrorist you’ve probably seen is a drunk brotha yelling at his toddler named J’haad to stop pulling on the ropes. We completely understand that you look at all of us as potential day-breakers, and think we look at you like the human speed bumps preventing us from getting to the Sbarro at Gate A32 in a timely fashion. And, well, we DO look at you like that, so your paranoia is founded in truth there, Bucko. We know that you get an endless stream of crap and agita from weary and/or stupid travelers who still think it’s acceptable to pack swords, firearms, live snakes, aerosols, bows and arrows, throwing stars, flares, dynamite, spray paint, or snow globes (now, I have a bone to pick with this last one, ’cause I really did have a snow globe, and you let me right through the line even though it’s clearly listed on your list of prohibited items. I would’ve been pissed to the highest of pisstivity if you had confiscated it, TSA, but still…do your jobs, people) drive you insane on a daily – nay, hourly basis, but do you have to paint us all with that broad brush of scorn? To wit:
Exhibit A: The Phantom Line
As a group of Frontier Airline passengers made our way towards the screening area, we all noticed that there was a line of people to the far right, waiting to be screened by the TSA agent at the top of the line; an immobile moving sidewalk in the middle; and an empty area to the left where a 2nd TSA agent sat, calling people over from the far right line. Being wise and enterprising folk, we began a line leading right up to TSA 2 so that (a) the lines would be shorter, overall, and (b) there could be a line right in front of ol’ T2 there. So we set up shop in front of him, patiently waiting to be called up to present our ID and boarding pass, but…nothing. He didn’t even so much as look at us. After about 10 minutes, there were about 25 people in our new line, and an additional 25 or so in the original line. At that point, TSA 1 turned to TSA 2 and said “Why are all those people standing over there in front of you?”
TSA2: “Who, them? I have no idea. The line is over there.”
TSA1: “I know! Are they airport employees or VIPs?”
TSA2 (to us): “Are any of you employees of DIA or VIPs?”
We all looked around, discovering that we were just regular folk.
TSA2 (to TSA1): “Nope, looks like a bunch of people in the wrong damn place to me.”
TSA1 : “Tell them to move back over here and quit acting like VIPs!”
TSA, there was no sign stating that we were in a VIP/employee line. In fact, there were no signs at all, a fact hammered home hard and loud by an irate passenger, irate because we 25 misguided folk then had to go to the end of the OTHER line, meaning we were way, way farther back than we had to be, if you had simply told us that we were in the wrong line in the first place. Asshats.
Exhibit B: The Angry Agents
As I mentioned earlier, I get that many people who fly from point A to point B are cripplingly stupid, some on the borderline of being criminally dumb and mortally ignorant. Be that as it may, it may behoove you to not act like rabid howler monkeys high on acid and peanut M&Ms to everyone who passes through your metal-detecting gates. A lot of us plan ahead; for example, I had all my toiletries in see-through bottles, gathered in a ziploc bag for your convenience. However, that wasn’t good enough, TSA of DIA. Oh, no it was not.
You see, I had my stuff in a gallon sized bag, but you needed a quart sized bag. As I contemplated whether to toss away my precious $1.00 shampoo and Axe spray, one of your fine agents came blazing through the metal detector, grasping someone’s poorly packed items that had the misfortune of going through the x-ray machine. He looked at us like we had just slapped his mama, screaming the following (and I’ll paraphrase):
“LISTEN, PEOPLE! IF YOU PACK YOUR THINGS LIKE THIS, YOU’LL JUST HOLD UP THE LINE AND CAUSE PEOPLE LIKE ME TO THROW IT AWAY, WASTING OUR TIME AND YOURS! CHECK YOUR BELONGINGS, AND BE SMART ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE PACKING! THANK YOU!”
And then he slammed the woe-begotten bag of someone’s stuff into the trashcan with a crash. This activity caused me to raise my right eyebrow in surprise. I was about 4 people back from the belt, and I was now about 75% sure that I was going to throw away my bag o’ crap. That 75% got pushed to 100% when 1 minute later, the same TSAlien came out again with a different bag of someone’s stuff, making pretty much the exact same speech, only this time Mr. Happy slammed the bag HARD into the trash can, so hard that a lonely bottle of lotion flew back up and out of the can and landed in the x-ray bin that a lady was filling with their things. Her confusion became my determination…to not have my items mistreated by that dude. I can slam my own stuff, thank you very much, and that’s precisely what I did.
Not to be outdone, another wonderful TSAgent dealt with an elderly woman in a wheelchair. Ordinarily, a person in a wheelchair would be pulled to the side and wanded down away from the metal detectors to help the line keep moving, and to account for all the metal in the chair itself. Oh no, not in Terminal A of DIA on THAT day. No, Mr. TSAgent wheeled the lady (who had to be about 85) up to the metal detector…and made her get up and walk through it! He had no mercy, no compassion…he stood there impassively as this poor old lady struggled to get up, struggled to take the 3 or 4 steps needed to pass through the detector, and then struggled to sit down again. My bad – he did at least offer her a hand when it was time to sit down again. Nice chap, him. The person she was with was flabbergasted. And incidentally, he simply pushed the wheelchair through the detector, lights and horns a-blazin’, and never even so much as looked at it. In other words, the chair made entirely of metal was absolutely no threat whatsoever, yet the 85 year old woman was. This is brilliance in action.
In closing, I just want to point out that while TSA folks are charged with ensuring the safety of all passengers and crew in the skies, there’s no need to fall to douchebaggery and general assholery to perform that job.
Simple incompetence will do nicely, thank you.
It’s been a week since the traumatic event touched down like swine flu at Miss Piggy’s family reunion in Puerto Vallarta, but the wounds are still fresh, so it’s taken me a while to be able to write about it. What tragedy has befallen me, you ask? What cruel twist of fate wound its way into my personal domain, and made my happy heart a barren wasteland of…barrenicity (What? It’s a word. It’s a word because I SAY it’s a word.)? The reason for my single Native American litter-gazing tear is because…
…Lil’ Kim got kicked off “Dancing With The Stars”.
The fact that I watch DWTS is not relevant to this tale – it’s common knowledge, especially if you’re my friend on Facebook. I talk about it frequently. So if you got jokes, bring ’em out now. I’ll wait.
(Nice one. I haven’t heard that one before. Huzzah.)
All done? Good. Let’s continue.
Sure, she came into the show as a controversial figure with rap albums and a rap sheet. She’s an ex-con with a bit too much (OK, a lot too much) plastic surgery and a penchant for saying words that would make Italian Merchant Marine blush. In short (and she’s very short), she didn’t stand a chance against the more clean-cut and relatively unknown stars also on the program, because the simple truth is that viewer voting is what keeps dancers on week to week, and who could imagine throngs (not thongs, dirty birds) of people purposely voting for the woman who is best known for her explicit lyrics about her sexual prowess? But then a funny thing happened on her way to a Week 3 exit: she could really dance. Well.
No doubt the fact that she dances in her videos and live performances gives her a boost, but shaking your ass to “How Many Licks” isn’t quite the same as performing an Argentine Tango in front of professional ballroom dancers and a live studio audience. But instead of just mailing it in, happy that her manager and publicist were able to get her on national television for a couple of weeks (see P, Master and Mayne, Kenny), she dedicated herself to really trying, to putting in the work and the long hours and the frustration to master an art form that was as foreign to her as Foreigner is to crackheads in the Bronx. She wasn’t just serviceable; she was really good. And not only in the sambas and salsas and all the booty-shaking dances – she was good in the waltzes and the quick step and pretty much all the other styles, too. She was good. Top-tier talent on the show, capable of winning the whole shebang. And as she performed, people voted. She shed her image like a blinged-out snakeskin, displaying the dancing butterfly beneath. (And yes, I just mixed snakes and butterflies. Roll with me here, people.)
She made it through the Steve-O’s and the Belinda Carlisles and the Lawrence Taylors, and becaome one of the elite few, once of the Final Five. These five were all great dancers – well, almost all. Gilles, Lil’ Kim, Melissa, and Shawn the Fireplug Gymnast are phenomenal. However, Number Five (who incidentally dances like Number Five from the movie “Short Circuit”) is Ty, a.k.a Mr. Jewel the Bullrider. And he is not good. He’s not bad, but if the other four are, say, in the 11th grade, then Ty is a 6th grader on academic probation. He’s just not nearly as good as the others, even though he tries very, very hard every week. That quality is admirable, but shouldn’t be grounds for him continuing to take up space and oxygen where he doesn’t belong. And last week, despite dancing like a man with no knees walking on crutches on ball bearings, and despite that the judges gave him 7’s and gave Kim 9’s, when the voting was tallied, he was standing there wearing an O mouth, and Kim was saying her goodbyes to the audience. Even his partner looked like “Um, what the eff just happened here?” when they made the announcement. And Kim was graceful in defeat, all smiles and thank-yous and everything. I, on the other hand, expressed my outrage in a socially acceptable and very adult manner – by screaming at the TV and calling for the utter destruction of the entire enterprise, its producers, ABC, and television as a concept. I wanted flames.
Instead, I have 3 really good dancers and one garden gnome with the moves of a popcicle stick still remaining. And this lovely creature is sitting at home now.
Farewell, Lil’ Kim. You were a bright blacklight on the black, lint-infested shirt called Dancing With The Stars. The show is lesser without you, and I hope the people who didn’t vote for you mistake a cactus for toilet paper.