Archive | August, 2008

The Best Songs For Your Labor Day Cookout

29 Aug

According to the US Department of Labor, Labor Day is “dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.”   In 2008, that means Americans will spend Monday firing up grills to char steroid-injected beef.  They’ll sit around on made-in-China beach chairs and drink Belgian-American Budweiser, English-American Miller, and Canadian-American Coors.  All that’s need to make the day complete is the right music: Songs that celebrate, venerate, and castigate the working world we’ve been given a one day furlough from.   

The Hangover’s Best Songs for your Labor Day Cookout: 

Working in the Coal Mine, Devo

Sure, coal mining is tough work.  Black lung.  Back-breaking labor.  Never-ending claustrophobia.  The threat of a being trapped miles below the Earth’s surface.  Forget it.  But why dwell on the negative aspects of hard labor?  Devo’s version of the song is bouncy and fun.  It will get people dancing herky-jerky around the barbecue and there’s no better way to spend your government-mandated day off than that. 

Welcome to the Working Week, Elvis Costello

Costello sings a song of welcome to those entering the working world.  The tongue in cheek lyrics slip a sucker punch in the guise of a simple new wave song.  The easy-going vocals and power pop melody belie the survival-of-the-fittest environment as Costello sings, “Oh, I know it don’t thrill you, I hope it don’t kill you.”  You know what he’s talking about. 

 The River / Better Days, Bruce Springsteen

Springsteen supplies some blue collar poetry here, but manages to rock out as he does it.  Yes, you can have songs of substance without sounding like a musician in a lab coat.  In The River, Bruce chronicles the everyman-working man: Tied into a job and a marriage, and the realization that the future doesn’t turn out like many of us imagined it.  Then in Better Days, Springsteen refuses to give up hope.  The singer takes what he has and makes the most of it.  You get both sides of the coin from Bruce.   

Luxury, The Rolling Stones

The Stones’ Luxury is a rocker with an island tint.  It’s a refinery worker’s lament; he’s trying to keep his family out of poverty and the pressure is on.  His dreams and realities exist on a permanent collision course:

I want a real fine car, fly Miami too
All the rum, I want to drink it, all the whiskey too
My woman need a new dress, my daughter got to go to school
I’m working so hard, I’m working for the company
I’m working so hard to keep you in the luxury

And you can’t call me lazy on a seven day a week
Make a million for the Texans, twenty dollar me
Yes, I want a gold ring, riding in a limousine
I’m working so hard, I’m working for the company
I’m working so hard to keep you in the luxury

 It’s only rock and roll, but it makes a definitive Labor Day statement. 

 Working Class Hero, John Lennon

Let this play when the clouds come over the deck.  John Lennon grew up a working class kid in a working class city.  He’s seen the class warfare, and while his message appears to be positive there’s more to it.  One can take pride in the ability to survive in the working world, but at what expense?  One can feel that hurt in his voice as Lennon exposes the cracks in the foundation of that belief. He ends the song: 

There’s room at the top they are telling you still
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill
If you want to be like all the folks on the hill
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

It’s Not My Place (in the 9 to 5 World), The Ramones

The Ramones say it simply.  They will not be dragged down into the soul-sucking 9 to 5 world and all that it entails.  The Ramones knew who they were and what they were about.  As a tribute to their wisdom, The Hangover will be hard at work on Labor Day.   Rest assured, the hours won’t run from 9 to 5.   

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Reasons not to watch the Democratic National Convention

25 Aug

Even if you’ve got time to kill, don’t waste it watching the Democratic National Convention.  That is, unless you want to see five nights of self-congratulatory flagellation.   Yes, the Democrats did manage to nominate an electable candidate, as they have since 2000.  But as we all know, they’ve done it before with nothing to show for it. 

On tap is five nights of unearned back-slapping and speechifying.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but the platform most Democrats ran on in the last mid-term election was to stand up to W. Bush and end the war in Iraq.  Yet, they kept voting for funding, and our troops are still there getting bombed and shot.  And in case you haven’t noticed at your local gas station, the Enron loophole is alive and well.  This is the party that is supposedly looking out for working and middle class Americans.  In the words of Charlie Brown, “Good Grief.”

It is almost beside the point, but any entertainment the Convention can supply can be trumped elsewhere on cable, with less boredom and more enjoyment.

Better bad acting than at the DNC

Melrose Place: Better bad acting than at the DNC

  • If you’re looking for melodramatic bad acting, go find some reruns of Melrose Place on the Soap Network.  Skip Hillary and Barack arm-in-arm, smiling and acting like they’re great friends, mutually thrilled to have finally unified their party.  Without Aaron Spelling to direct them, that bit could be one of the most painful events in recent television history.
  •  Democratic party officials and politicians will be full of vitriol, fire, and outrage this week.  Of course, it’s easy to stand up and bellow when you’re surrounded by ardent, nerdy supporters.  Remember, these are the same folks who let Rove, Cheney, and Bush push them around for the last eight years while barely making a peep.  Watch the Wizard of Oz and see if the mighty Wizard doesn’t remind you of the Democrats–especially after Dorothy pulls back the curtain.
  • When you were in high school, didn’t you find the student government people to be just a  bit pompous and full of themselves?  As if they were actually doing something other than putting on dances and making sure students paid their class dues?  Granted, some kids were normal teens trying to pad their college apps, but the ones who took it seriously–you might recognize them at the convention foaming at the mouth and thrusting Obama-Biden signs high into the air.  Do you really want to spend five nights with these folks?  Get a grip with some kids who have real issues–check out Season One of Friday Night Lights.  Not a Student Council geek to be found. 
  • Democrats will spar over the party’s platform, as if it matters.  As soon as everyone is elected, the politicians will go back to their primary job function–getting reelected.  Outside of a few issues such as health care and hopefully ending the war, no one will give a rat’s ass about “minor” aspects of what is supposedly the party’s agenda.  If you want to see staged, fixed, and meaningless fighting, The Hangover recommends the WWE‘s Monday Night Raw or Friday’s Smackdown.  In addition, the wrestling Divas are much hotter than the political wonkettes.  The Hangover will take Eve and Victoria over Nancy Pelosi and Rielle Hunter any day. 
  • If you actually want to gain respect for your Senators and Representatives, skip the Convention and watch C-Span.  Anyone that can stay awake while serving through a session of Congress deserves some degree of adulation.
  • Finally, if you want to see what’s at the heart of American politics, get your hands on Robert Altman’s Nashville.  The film is set at a political convention, and it will entertain, educate, and challenge more than this week’s pitiful Demo-fest.   

John McCain’s House Party

22 Aug

Do you know how many homes you own?  If you do, you are more aware of your surroundings than Republican Presidential candidate John McCain.  When asked by Politico.com how many houses he owned, McCain replied:

 “I think — I’ll have my staff get to you.  It’s condominiums where — I’ll have them get to you.”

According to Politico, the correct number was “at least four” that they apparently sometimes reside in, although further investigation found that the McCain’s own up to eight when including investment properties.  It’s easy to see why the old guy got confused.  Apparently Senator and Mrs.  Blutarsky  McCain acquire houses and condos the way other people collect hummels, baseball cards, or cigar store Indians.  

This does explain much of McCain’s Mad Magazine economic policy:  “What, me worry?”  When you can buy property at will with your wife’s Budweiser money, there’s no need to lose sleep over a recessing economy or mortgage crisis.  Even in the worst of times, people still need to drink beer.  Although Cindy McCain is no Theresa Heinz Kerry (These politicians might want to keep a list of The Hangover’s Songs for your Rich Girlfriend or Wife handy), for John McCain to portray himself as a man of the people is to promote a great falsehood.  But hey, that’s politics, and it has been proven time and time again that the American people will believe anything if they hear it often enough.

It’s time for Americans to show John McCain some compassion and understanding.  If the White House were added to his list of properties, it would probably only further confuse the man.   Give John McCain the break he deserves and vote for Obama.

Celebrity Sex Scandal: 1 Winner, 300 Million Losers

19 Aug

John Edwards.  Rielle Hunter.   Jay McInerney.  The latest celebrity sex scandal being reported on in the American press was 25 years in the making and includes a would-be President, a once-famous, sometimes decent writer, and a coke whore “media expert.”  Who needs the Lifetime Channel when we have this? 

After intrepid reporting by the National Enquirer (I can’t believe I just wrote that), Edwards admitted to having an affair with Rielle Hunter in 2006.  Edwards confessed:

“In the course of several campaigns, I started to believe that I was special and became increasingly egocentric and narcissistic.”

Edwards, honestly, admits to becoming a fathead.  This is the same thinking that regularly leads others to cheating, including professional athletes, actors and actresses, and politicians.  It shouldn’t surprise anyone, unless one investigates the history of his paramour, Rielle Hunter.

Rielle Hunter was formerly called Lisa Druck.  She was a noted coke-snorting, bed-hopping (not that there’s anything wrong with that) 80’s New York party girl.  In fact, after a liaison with McInerny in the post Bright Lights, Big City era, she became the inspiration for the main character of his forgettable second novel, Story of My Life.  Mysteriously, the book was about a trampy, coke-snorting New York woman who was trying to find her way in life.  The character based on Hunter, Allison Poole, was also skewered in two of Bret Ellis’s novels.  That indicates one of two things:  either she was incredibly loathsome or Ellis was one celebrity Hunter wouldn’t give it up for. 

Twenty years later, Hunter became a public figure again, initially for filming campaign “webisodes” for Edwards’ failed 2008 Presidential bid.  In an interview with “Extra,” Hunter admitted:

“I’ve never really been interested in politics in my life.  I voted twice.”

Perhaps this explains why her webisodes proved to be tremendously ineffective.  And while she found politics “a gross environment,” Hunter did find Edwards to be “interesting,” “real,” and “authentic.”  Apparently, she also found him steamy, and really, really hot.

The sole beneficiary of this scandal is McInerny.  He’s got a 2007 book, The Good Life, to publicize and the press is knocking on his door again, if only to ask about Hunter.   However, thanks to the scandal, Story of My Lifehas just been reprinted.  While The Good Life is ranked 80,125 in book sales on Amazon, Story of My Life has climbed to 1,828. 

It’s the rest of us who are the losers here.  And not because the Hangover-endorsed Edwards has skuttled his chances for future public service.  At this point, it’s impossible to care about a full-of-shit politician, no matter what his (or her) message.

The more serious problem exposed by this scandal is the tabloid culture that owns America.  As citizens, we should have more important things to think about than a failed politician hooking up with a bottle-blonde scratching and clawing for another Wharholian 15 minutes.  And the Hangover is not suggesting that we spend time considering Britney’s recovery, Brangelina’s kids, Bigfoot, or Christian Bale’s belief that he’s Batman, dammit. 

The Hangover apologizes for even bringing up the subject here.  As punishment, I’ll force myself to watch an hour of Entertainment Tonight.  While it might be painful, at least I’ll be made fully aware of the issues considered important by the vast majority of Americans.

Until I Find You–Amazed and Confused

11 Aug

Once someone has read an 800-plus page book, it’s not unreasonable to expect that they should know exactly what to think of it.  Well, after completing John Irving’s Until I Find You (848 pages), The Hangover is at a loss.  Was it a brilliant Irving look at family, sexual mores, memory, and modern society, or a slightly off-target rehash of Irving’s usual subjects?  The Hangover leans toward the former, but it’s easy to pitch a tent in either camp.  Even at its best, Until I Find Youis no Garp

Irving once again takes a unique character, Jack Burns, and sends him off on a life that would be hard to imagine, but is nevertheless compelling.  There is plenty of Irving wit, humor, and insight scattered throughout the work, but the author also revisits some of his subjects like a ’78 Town and Country station wagon pulling into a family reunion at a run-down Hotel New Hampshire.

The main character is somewhat fatherless, attends prep schools and the University of New Hampshire, wrestles, has sexual quirks, and a wacked-out family.  If you are a reader of Irving, that should sound familiar.  The book does have plenty of merit, however.  Irving keeps a reader engaged from start to finish, even if he does resort to such odd tactics as a relentless string of exclamation points. 

The Hangover couldn’t figure out if this was another classic (that I had missed something was entirely possible) or a literary train wreck.  A google search for reviews proved to be no help:  As a group, the critics were no more certain than I.  At complete-review.com, a list of compiled reviews assigns a grade reflecting the critic’s interpretation of the book.  There are two A’s, an A-, three F’s, and a D+, and a smattering of grades in between.  There are valid points made in nearly each of the pieces, whether praising or burying the book.  

The Hangover was left with questions.  Is Jack Burn’s passivity as the novel approaches its climax a result of the events of his life or an indication that Irving was pitching with five-miles-an-hour off his fastball?  The Hangover would like to believe the former,  but doubts linger.  And that shouldn’t be the case, not with John Irving.

Paris Hilton–Political Savant

7 Aug

Thanks to John McCain’s attack ad comparing Barack Obama to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, the 2008 Presidential Campaign has already reached Mt. McKinley-like heights of ridiculousness.  McCain’s ad is meant to demean Obama by calling him the “the biggest celebrity in the world” while clips of Hilton and Spears flash in the background.  This ad is a gaffe on several levels, not the least being the advent of Hilton’s own response spot, in which she unveils an energy policy that makes more sense than the one espoused by the senior moment-prone Senator from Arizona.

The first question that comes to mind is why Obama’s popularity would be considered a problem.  He’s young, charismatic, a great speaker, and a vast number of people view him as an image of hope for a better America and world.  There’s no love child scandal, sex tape, night club binge drinking, or “not wearing underwear snapshots” to fuel his fame.  It’s the man’s message and delivery that bring the crowds. 

Hilton’s response to McCain’s ad, on the other hand, is brilliant, not to mention titillating and erudite.  It can be seen in this report from Countdown:

The clear winner in this escapade is Hilton.  In a stunning leopard print one-piece, she puts forth an energy policy that makes sense.  She speaks well.  Thanks to “The Simple Life,” she has developed an understanding of the common folk.  Paris deals with the press effectively, and negative publicity doesn’t bother her.  In fact, she counters it with ease, as her response spot shows.  Hilton also has some charisma of her own.  If you don’t think she’d have North Korean leader Kim Jong II eating out of her hand and dismantling his nuclear program in five minutes, you’re crazy.

It’s too bad that Miss Hilton isn’t 35 and eligible to run for Vice-President.  An Obama-Hilton ticket would surely author a landslide over McCain and his VP-to-be (Bee Arthur?  Mitt Romney?).  Not even The Hangover’s endorsement could derail that winner.