March 9, 2006

just to, y'know, take the edge off


So my wonderful wife Tessa has a great article on the front page of Salon today, about an old boyfriend of hers that use to take Ambien, propose marriage, and then wake up without remembering any of it. Yes, unless you subscribe to Salon like a normal human being, you have to watch a 10-second ad, but take one for the home team, yes?

Her article sprang out of Wednesday's NYT article about people taking Ambien and "sleep-driving," occasionally peeing in the middle of intersections, hitting telephone poles, and not knowing any of it had happened. Of course, the Times article has been in the Top 5 Most Emailed list for two days, so there's obviously a lot of mileage to be gotten from your daffy Ambien-addicted friends.

One thing that Tessa didn't entirely anticipate was the "letters" section that is unmoderated and attached to the end of each article. I was vilified somewhat for my Salon piece on the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping (thankfully, only one letter still survives), but I'm always amazed at the amount of time nad-scratching armchair philosophers in jammies will take to let their invective loose on a writer exposing his or herself (anonymously, of course).

The letters regarding Tessa's article got immediately nasty, because if there's one thing the hoi polloi of the internet can't stand, it's people from Manhattan writing about other people from Manhattan who have money. Never mind that the main point of the article was about the power of the drug, and the secondary point was Tessa's self-effacement - some readers just react to stories mentioning Cosima von Bulow with the sort of holier-than-thou disdain usually reserved for people who sneeze on the subway.

The sheer pretention and Upper East Sidieness of the article was part of the delivery, but whatever, you can't teach people three things: vibrato, a vertical leap, and irony.

Before other letter-writers rallied to her defense, Tessa got that look in her eye, the I-just-pulled-my-pants-down gaze that I know so well, having suffered through it on this very blog. I think back to some of my entries in 2002-2003 before I had comments, where I was savaged for being a yuppie, having my priorities out of whack, having a house in Columbia County, being sexist, being an asshole, and not being cute enough to marry Tessa.

Being disparaged right after my wedding hurt, to be sure, but it wasn't long before those calluses became strong enough to endure pretty much anything on this site. I mean, I know what I look like to most people. I fully GET what Tessa and I might seem like to those who don't know us. If you don't think I (or we) have attained that level of self-awareness, you grossly underestimate your humble servants.

The regular commentary on here is wonderful, to be sure, but you people should see some of the stuff I delete from older entries, people who find this website on a whim, and then post the nastiest character assassinations they can muster. The spam filter blocks most of them, and I trash the rest. There may be a day when I get sick of it and take my toys and go home, but for now, I DON'T GIVE A FUCK. THINK WHATEVER YOU WANT.

I'm so proud of my wife, who just dashed off a great piece of writing in a matter of hours. And I'd like to thank you, the mean-spirited internet at large, for giving me enough shit that I don't care what you think anymore.

Posted by Ian Williams at 11:21 PM (Permalink)

March 8, 2006

i'll never have that recipe again


The worst fucking song in the history of pop music is "My Humps" by The Black-Eyed Peas. This may come as no surprise to many of you, as it has been well-documented by other sources, but I am not given to superlatives without a good deal of research, and after letting this song dwindle in my head since last fall, I'm just going to come right out and say it: it's the worst, period. Nothing comes close.

When you're dealing with pop music (and love it like I do) you have to be careful with your love and hate. One thing that always pissed me off about the rock intelligentsia of the early '90s was the casual beatification of musicians whom I thought were okay at best (J Mascis, Pavement, etc). Conversely, you have to avoid the screeching harlots of any given road trip who are quick to dismiss every song as "the worst ever."

I have to remain sanguine about these things, so when I first heard "My Humps" in October 2005 (and subsequently had a figurative brain hemorrhage), I had to relax, count to ten, put down the fork I was about to lodge into my neck, and take the afternoon off.

In a quieter moment, I resolved to revisit the song (or "song," as the case may be) at some point further on, when the horrors of my first impression could be more easily assimilated. To my disgust, the 30th hearing of "My Humps" is more terrifying than the first, and so it is now I've come to the conclusion that it is the worst fucking song in pop history.

Why do I get to say? Thirty or so years of listening to every song from 1955 (decades before I was born) to now, along with an autistic savant recall of the Billboard Top 40 from 1978 to 1993, along with 25 years of violin and piano, majoring in music - well, these things ought to put me in contention. But I've also written about music since those days in the DTH when we were the first to make our Top 10 Worst Lists and even started a Misheard Song Lyric contest a decade before it became a phenomenon. I obsess.

But enough about my credentials. The song speaks for itself. The backing "instrumental" consists of the thinnest, reediest, crappiest synth line this side of porn. In fact, most porn films try harder. Fergie's delivery of her "lines" is so sing-songy chowderheaded that you think she might be trying to teach lemurs to speak. It's just SO, SO AWFUL.

And the "lyrics"? The idea is simple enough: Fergie's woman-parts are so appealing that it inspires would-be suitors to buy her name-brand items of clothing and jewelry. Which would be funny, if the "rap" weren't so tired, cliché, and about as cynical as product placement in movies: Dolce & Gabbana, Donna Karan and even Seven Jeans are mentioned.

She rhymes "nicely" with "iceies." She rhymes "sexy" with "sex me."

Suppose we look at female sexuality as a list, from top to bottom. At the top is the poetic ideal of romance, at the bottom is the basest, lowest thoughts possible. It would look something like this:

My Humps
My Lovely Lady Lumps

Indeed, the Black-Eyed Peas have debased the mystery of woman into not just tits, not just ass, but the brutal sum-up of human bulbs of flesh meant to invoke the spending of money.

It would be funny, but I don't think they think they're being funny. Yes, "you're meant to dance to it, not think about it," yes yes yes, you blithering anti-intellectual, I get it. But there's nothing in this song, nor the BEP's oeuvre that would suggest they have any sense of humor.

Here's what I think. I think they got together and decided to cobble a song with the worst beat, the worst music, and the worst lyrics they could muster. Using Fergie's made-for-the-sexual-apocalypse body, they released this fucking song with a scowl, then laughed all the way to the bank. The Black-Eyed Peas are shoving three fingers up your ass and then demanding you pay them for it.

Apparently there's a video, but if you need a video for a song to make sense, I'm with Lewis Black: you should fucking kill yourself.

"My Humps." A cultural moment has happened. Forget about your MacArthur Parks, your Blame It On the Rains, your Electric Avenues. The gaping maw has opened up and shown us its bottom.

Posted by Ian Williams at 11:26 PM (Permalink) | Comments (37)

March 7, 2006

the salmon mousse


Today's blog canceled due to a violent day's worth of food poisoning. I won't even begin to describe it.

So instead, how about a pic of Lucy for Lee Lee (who gets costume credit)?


Also a shout-out to my girl Quinn, whose awesome product The HipHugger we use every day, and if you look at the cover of In Touch magazine at your local grocery, Angelina Jolie is wearing it at top left.

Oh, and belated congrats to my brother Steve who just got a killer job making internet darling even cooler.

That is all. Off to barf!

Posted by Ian Williams at 11:15 PM (Permalink) | Comments (11)

March 6, 2006

i keep telling her it's a palming violation


I have to keep this short, as we just spent the day moving to a new location in Venice during a torrential rainstorm (but we're right on the sand now, yo!), and I'm sure most of you know that moving anywhere isn't just a physical exhaustion, it's a pretty big emotional upheaval as well. I thought it would completely freak Lucy out, but ever since Saturday night, she's been dunking from the foul line and lining up endorsement deals.


So we have our hands full, and I leave today's discussion up to you. The Oscars? The evil of piggybacking on someone else's unprotected wifi signal? Koach K as Republican fundraiser?

Posted by Ian Williams at 11:20 PM (Permalink) | Comments (39)

March 5, 2006

weight room!


Really, even I have to admit that in its most distilled form, my religion is only ten guys trying to get a piece of spherical leather into a basket. But for those of you who don't love college basketball the way I do, I really hope you have some other irrational interest that gives your life constant metaphors, mythic anticipation, and an opportunity to cry both flavors.

I'm not going to get into what happened with UNC vs. dook on Saturday night, because if you care, you've already read 15-20 breathless articles in print and the internet, and if you don't, no amount of gliding verbiage will make you see these things differently.

Suffice to say my team - the one from Chapel Hill wearing light blue - went to Durham on their "senior night" and, against many odds too numerous to repeat, won. For me, the joy wasn't entirely the final score. It was the laying bare of something we've known for decades.

It was comeuppance for a gifted shooter who nonetheless gave the UNC crowd the "shocker" (a violently anal, sexist hand gesture) after knocking down the game-winners in the first contest. It was Koach K spewing such guttersnipe profanity at one ref that he had to be restrained. It was an entire channel of ESPN showing the "Cameron Crazies" - who once chanted "orphan!" at our own Scott Williams, whose parents had killed each other - struck dumb at the sight of their team disintegrating. It was a Duke player, Sean Dockery, deliberately striking our player Tyler Hansbrough in the mouth after the game was already over.

These things were seen, seen by anyone who happened to glance at any of the ESPN channels last night, and certainly discussed by fans of all schools, regardless of affiliation. The book was laid open, and the pages flew everywhere.

I like to think I was on the front lines of hating Duke, not just because of the DTH article from 1990, but because my adolescence coincided roughly with the ascendance of Koach K in the ACC, meaning I came of age right around the same year his teams did. As I have oft said, I camped out in the mud that was to become Carmichael Dorm during the holiday months of 1985 to see the first game in the Dean Dome.

I have now attended twenty-one straight home UNC-dook games since that evening, and loathed everything they stood for. In the last few weeks, I - along with many other fans of the game - have been joined by pundits from respected TV sports organizations, internet personalities, and about-to-be-bestselling authors in wondering aloud why such an obvious jerk like K, coaching at such a freakishly lame school like dook, has been getting such a pass all these years.

Indeed, the complaints - dook gets all the calls, K is a filthy-mouthed asswipe who rides officials, their players are sore winners and even sorer losers, K's ads for American Express redefine hypocrisy, K throws his players under the bus for the sake of winning at all costs, dook students ruin Durham's neighborhoods, etc. - have risen to such a fever pitch that I'm now anticipating the backlash backlash.

But for now, I feel like all of us who have grinned and beared it for so long are finally given succor. Again, if you don't follow this sport, it may all seem pathetic, picayune and unimportant. In a way, I feel sorry for you, because the unmasking of a villain is always such joy, but only if you're deeply in love with the story.


Posted by Ian Williams at 11:47 PM (Permalink) | Comments (26)