Thursday, January 31, 2013

Another Baker's Dozen Of Songs By Innovative, Imaginative, And Incredibly Interesting Icelandic Bands

This is the second post in a mini-series exploring the music of Iceland. If you missed the first installment, you can view it here. If you don't feel like going back and looking at that post, I understand – because I don't feel like writing a new intro for this one. So here's how I led into the videos last time for those of you who missed it...

"Regular readers of this blog may recall from previous posts that I am slightly obsessed with the country of Iceland. I revel in any and all opportunities to discover more about this wonderfully enigmatic island nation.

This time around, I decided to explore the modern music of Iceland. And I was delighted – but not altogether surprised – to find that Icelandic bands are producing music that's not only on par with, but in some cases far superior to the music of the rest of the world. Here's a smattering of songs by bands I'd heretofore *never heard of, but with whom I am now enamored. I hope you'll enjoy listening to these as much as I did..."

(*I have heard of Bjork before, and have been a big fan for a dozen years or more. All the rest are new to me...)

1)  Apparat Organ Quartet  ~  "123 Forever"

2)  Bang Gang  ~  "The World Is Gray"

3)  Benny Crespo's Gang  ~  "Night Time"

3)  Björk  ~  "It's Oh So Quiet"

5)  Bloodgroup  ~  "Overload"

6)  Borko  ~  "Born To Be Free"

7)  Dark Harvest  ~  "Sunny Valentino"

8)  Dikta  ~  "Thank You"

9)  FM BELFAST  ~  "Underwear"

10)  For A Minor Reflection  ~  "Dansi Dans"

11)  Hafdis Huld  ~  "Synchronised Swimmers"

12)  Jónsi  ~  "Go Do"

13)  Lay Low ~  "Please Don't Hate Me"

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Words I'm Glad I Didn't Write: Lame Lyrics From Justin Bieber Songs

I've made no secret of the fact that I don't care for pop star Justin Bieber. It's not that the kid's a no-talent hack. Bieber's actually a good singer. It's not that I'm jealous of his adulation by millions of teenage girls. I don't want to be anybody's idol. It's mostly that Bieber's "music" is so inane and lifeless that there's no way it should be as popular as it has been so far. Case in point, the following Justin Bieber song lyrics, which could have been – and may have been, for all I know – written by any marginally talented preteen with only the shallowest understanding of love (and music, for that matter). The songs may be catchy (and they are, for the most part), but the lyrics are crap, for lack of a better word. For example...

"When I met you, girl
My heart went knock, knock
Now them butterflies
In my stomach won't stop, stop
And even though it's a struggle
Love is all we got
So we gonna keep, keep climbin'
To the mountain top..."
~   "One Time"

"Shawty right there
She's got everything I need
And I'm a tell her one time
One time, one time
Give you everything you need
Down to my last dime
She makes me happy
I know where I'll be
Right by your side
'Cause she is the one..."
~  "One Time"

"My prize possession
One and only
Adore ya, girl, I want ya
The one I can't live without
That's you, that's you
You're my special little lady
The one that makes me crazy
Of all the girls I've ever known
It's you, it's you
My favorite, my favorite
My favorite, my favorite girl
My favorite girl
Baby it's you
My favorite, my favorite
My favorite, my favorite girl
My favorite girl..."
~  "Favorite Girl"

"So it's up to you and it's up to me
That we meet in the middle
On our way back down to earth
Down to earth, down to earth
On our way back down to earth
Back down to earth
Back down to earth
Back down to earth
Back down to earth
Back down to earth
Back down to earth
Back down to earth
Back down to earth..."
~  "Down To Earth"

"I was a player when I was little
But now I'm bigger, I'm bigger
A heartbreaker when I was little
But I'm bigger, I'm bigger, I'm bigger
And all the haters, I swear
They look so small from up here
'Cause we're bigger, our love's bigger
I'm bigger, and you're bigger..."
~  "Bigger"

"I'm coming for you, one less lonely girl
I'm coming for you, one less lonely girl
I'm coming for you, one less lonely girl
There's gonna be one less lonely girl
I'm coming for you
I'm gonna put you first
I'm coming for you
I'll show you what you're worth
That's what I'm gonna do
If you let me inside of your world
There's gonna be one less lonely girl..."
~  "One Less Lonely Girl"

"And I was like
Baby, baby, baby, ohhh!
Like baby, baby, baby, nooo!
Like baby, baby, baby, ohhh!
I thought you'd always be mine, mine..."
~  "Baby"

"Baby, listen
I just need somebody to love
I don't need too much
Just somebody to love
Somebody to love
I don't need nothing else
I promise, girl, I swear
I just need somebody to love
I need somebody
I need somebody
I need somebody
I need somebody..."
~  "Somebody To Love"

"Baby, take my open heart
And all it offers
'Cause this is as unconditional
As it'll ever get
You ain't seen nothing yet
I won't ever hesitate
To give you more
'Cause baby, hey
U smile, I smile, whoa-oh-oh-oh
U smile, I smile
Hey, hey, hey
U smile, I smile
I smile, I smile, I smile
U smile, I smile
Make me smile, baby..."
~  "U Smile"

"Let the music blast
We gonna do our dance
Bring the doubters on
They don't matter at all
'Cause this life's too long
And this love's too strong
So, baby, know for sure
That I'll never let you go..."
~  "Never Let You Go"

"I'm overboard
And I need your love to pull me up
I can't swim on my own
It's too much
Feel like I'm drowning without your love
So throw yourself out to me, my life saver
Life saver, oh life saver
My life saver
Life saver, oh life saver
~  "Overboard"

"Baby what you doin'
Where you at, where you at?
Why you actin' so shy
Holdin' back, holdin' back?
We're not the only ones
Doin' it like that, it like that
So, DJ, bring that, bring that
Bring that, bring that back..."
~  "All Around The World"

"If I was your boyfriend
I'd never let you go
I can take you places
You ain't never been before
Baby, take a chance
Or you'll never, ever know
I got money on my hands
That I'd really like to blow
Swag, swag, swag, on you
Chillin' by the fire
While we eatin' fondue
I don't know about me
But I know about you
So say hello to falsetto
In three, two, swag..."
~  "Boyfriend"

"I can take you out
I can take you home
I can take you oh-oh-oh
Where you wanna go
I can pick it up
We could take it slow
I can take you home..."
~  "Take You"

"Could there be a possibility
I'm trying to say what's up
'Cause I'm made for you, and you for me
Baby, now it's time for us
Tryin' to keep it all together
But enough is enough
They say we're too young for love
But I'm catching feelings
Catching feelings
~  "Catching Feelings"

"If I could just die in your arms
I wouldn't mind
'Cause every time you touch me
I just die in your arms
Oooh, it feels so right
So baby, baby
Please don't stop, girl
Mm-hmm, uh-huh, yeah, yeah, alright
Mm-hmm, uh-huh, yeah, yeah, alright..."
~  "Die In Your Arms"

"'Cause I'm in love with the thought of you
With the thought of you, with the thought of you
I'm in love with the thought of you
Not the things you do, but the thought of you
Girl, I'm in love with the thought of you, you, you
Girl, I'm in love with the thought of you, you, you
Girl, I'm in love with the thought of you, you, you
Girl, I'm in love with the thought of you..."
~  "Thought Of You"

"All you gotta do is swag
All you gotta do is swag, yeah
All you gotta do is swag, swag, swag, yeah
All you gotta do is swag
All you gotta do is swag
All you gotta do is swag, swag, swag..."
~  "Out Of Town Girl"

Monday, January 28, 2013

Stories # 7, # 8, & # 9: "Second Banana," "Just Peachy," & "The Lemon"

Since these three are all very short pieces and all have some type of fruit name in their titles, I decided to group them together into a single post. Hopefully, you'll enjoy them. Maybe you won't. There's some subtle humor integrated into all of them. I hope you get it. If not, let me know, and I'll work harder at it next time. Thanks for the read!  ~  JH

"SECOND BANANA"  (100 words)

I've never been much of a fruit person. Apples are too much work and brown quickly. Oranges are messy and not very filling. Grapes freak me out – anything that goes "pop" inside my mouth just feels wrong. Cantaloupes are good, but it's always hard to tell if you're getting a ripe one. Don't even get me started on coconuts! Bananas I can handle. They're easy to eat, no matter where you are. They have their own built-in wrapper, so your hands don't get all goopy. And they flat-out taste delicious! I'm having my second one of the day. Sheer perfection!

"JUST PEACHY"  (250 words)

How was my day? Well, I won't bore you with the details. Let's just say I've had better. On second thought, what else have you got to do but listen to me whine? You don't have a job. You don't have a girlfriend. You don't have a life! You just sit around like a lump mooching off poor saps like me! So sit there and listen to what I have to say! In fact, I dare you to move! People like you give people like me a bad name, and I've about reached my limit! How was my day? I'll tell you how my day was! I wrecked my car on the way to work and had to hitchhike the rest of the way, only to find out when I got there that I didn't get that promotion I was hoping for. Sometime after lunch, I lost my wallet with my money and credit cards inside, along with that WalMart gift card I've been saving for a special occasion. Then, I tripped getting out of the car on my second hitchhike of the day and chipped my tooth! And now I'm standing here telling my troubles to an ungrateful loser who doesn't know when he's worn out his welcome and who has the gall to ask me how my day was on a day like today! Well, my day was just peachy, thank you very much for asking! Now get out of my sight before I make you lose yours!

"THE LEMON"  (320 words)

I've never been what you would call a Mr. Fix It when it comes to automobiles. In fact, if you were to show me three random auto parts and tell me to identify the carburetor among them, I would probably point to the headlight. 

Every time I've bought a car, I've brought my uncle – a "real" mechanic – or another knowledgeable friend or relative along with me, so that I wouldn't get hoodwinked into buying a hunk of junk. Until last Tuesday. 

Confession: I hate car salesmen. They're slimy, unscrupulous, and downright dishonest, and I don't know enough to call them on their game. But desperate times call for stupid mistakes, apparently. 

I decided to go car hunting last Tuesday – or rather, it was decided for me, as my previous vehicle had finally reached its end of life after years of mostly faithful service. My uncle was working that day and couldn't come along, and everyone else I asked was also unavailable. I would just go and look, I vowed, take copious notes, and return to those I trusted and seek their advice. Just looking, not buying, I told myself. And then it happened. 

The dirty, rotten car dealership had the nerve, the unmitigated gall, to have the most gorgeous female creature known to man approach and ask me if she could help me. 

A car saleslady? Is that even possible? And one this beautiful? It simply wasn't fair. But it was happening. One glance into her bright green eyes and I was utterly mesmerized.

I don't remember the next few hours. When I finally came to my senses, I was in the parking lot of my apartment sitting behind the wheel of a heaving, groaning, clanging, humming, clattering monstrosity of a vehicle. 

A bill of sale sat in the passenger seat next to me. The gorgeous saleslady was nowhere to be seen. But apparently I had bought a car. Crap.

Interesting Quotes By Famous People Named Billy

Here we have 15 interesting quotes by famous guys named Billy. Why? Well, why not?

1)  "Trust your own instinct. Your mistakes might well be your own, instead of someone else's."  ~  Billy Wilder, film director

2)  "The world is wrong side up. It needs to be turned upside down in order to be right side up."  ~  Billy Sunday, evangelist

3)  "I really wish I was less of a thinking man and more of a fool not afraid of rejection."  ~  Billy Joel, singer/songwriter

4)  "Calm, open debate and logical thought drive strength to its maximum effectiveness."  ~  Billy Corgan, rock musician

5)  "Romance is mush, stifling those who strive."  ~  Billy Strayhorn, composer

6)  "God has given us two hands, one to receive with and the other to give with."  ~  Billy Graham, evangelist

7)  "If your world doesn't allow you to dream, move to one where you can."  ~  Billy Idol, rock musician

8)  "Life's a pitch, then you buy."  ~  Billy Mays, TV pitchman

9)  "Getting the nomination is like gravy. Winning would be like whatever is better than gravy."  ~  Billy Bob Thornton, film actor

10)  "Everything looks nicer when you win. The girls are prettier. The cigars taste better. The trees are greener."  ~  Billy Martin, baseball player/manager

11)  "Success can create more madness than happiness."  ~  Billy Ocean, singer/songwriter

12)  "I can't be funny if my feet don't feel right."  ~  Billy Crystal, comedian

13)  "My limits are limitless. I find my limits every time I act."  ~  Billy Crudup, film actor

14)  "Never invest in anything that eats or needs painting."  ~  Billy Rose, entertainer

15)  "You're born. You suffer. You die. Fortunately, there's a loophole."  ~  Billy Graham, evangelist

Friday, January 25, 2013

Surprisingly Good Songs By Indie Bands With Slightly Ridiculous Names, Vol. 4

One last time, for old time's sake. This will be my last entry in this particular mini-series, for three reasons:
1)  Four installments is plenty.
2)  The well is running dry.
3)  I'm kinda bored with it by now.

That being said, here are 10 surprisingly good songs by bands with rather ridiculous monikers. Really interesting videos, too, actually. Enjoy?

1)  We Have Band  ~  "Divisive"

2)  What Laura Says  ~  "Training"

3)  We Were Promised Jetpacks  ~  "Quiet Little Voices"

4)  What Made Milwaukee Famous  ~  "Sultan"

5)  The Whitest Boy Alive  ~  "Golden Cage"

6)  The Wilderness Of Manitoba  ~  "Morning Sun"

7)  Wolf In A Spacesuit  ~  "Amber Hand"

8)  The Working Title  ~  "The Mary Getaway (I Lost Everything)"

9)  Yourself And The Air  ~  "Sick Days"

10)  Zoos Of Berlin  ~  "Black In The Sun Room"

Things I Find Fascinating: More Bizarrely Titled Books

You may recall that about a month ago, I posted a collection of bizarrely titled books here. All real and all real weird. Well, most of those books were non-fiction (believe it or not!), so I figured it was about time I gave props to some bizarrely titled novels as well. To the best of my knowledge, all of the following books are actual books, most published before I was born (judging by the cover art, at least). There are a few of these that I'd love to read, if I could find them, just to see what the heck they're all about. Some of them I could go my whole life and never read and I'd still be okay. Either way, I hope you'll get as much of a kick out of these as I did. Enjoy!

It's probably a good thing, too. I can't imagine 
that one of those would be comfortable to wear.

Proceed with caution. (Geiger counter sold separately.)

You can find them anywhere, I suppose. Including Florida's scrub country.

She looks so lifelike. It's almost eerie!

This one comes with two bizarre titles in one. As you can see, this one
was apparently originally published as Hill Of The Terrified Monk.

After all, what did the bones ever do to you to deserve being beaten?

I'll bet he's blushing 'cuz he just stabbed that guy in the back.

Until one bit him right back...

That's pretty harsh, stealing a man's skull!
I don't blame him for being upset.

This was originally going to be called The Worthless Watermelon,
but the publishers thought that just sounded too weird. (No, not really.)

Business in the front, party in the...oh my word, 
that train's totally going to smash us to bits!

Wait, I thought she got run over by a reindeer?

His name must not really have been "Polly" after all...

She has a healthy appetite for men, apparently.

Some women cut their eyes at you. She'll cut your throat.

They just don't write books like these anymore. Sad...

If the tea was that bitter, why not just toss it out and
brew a new batch? Why write a whole book about it?

Why should they complain? They're feeling no pain...

And a Santa hat, apparently...

That explains a lot. But it leaves even more questions unanswered.

This one doesn't even have that weird of a title, but
I'm dying to know why that horse is in her bed!

Moses parting the Red Sea so surfers can hang ten. Genius!

Beware of what? Of red flowers? Of people walking through the village?

Finally, the puzzle of the goosefeathers is going to be solved. I
was beginning to think it was going to remain a cold case forever.

Yes, by all means, do. He wasn't do anything but scaring 
the kids anyway. Good riddance to bad entertainment.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Story # 6: "Hope You Don't Mind"

Good morning, sleepyheads! Boy, you two sure sleep late! I've been up since 5:25. Yesiree, Bob, no burning daylight for me!

Hope you don't mind, but I made myself a few cups of coffee. Six of 'em, in fact. Ya know, those K-cup thingamajiggers cost a pretty penny, but they sure are worth the money! Your money, that is. Ha, ha, ha! Hope you don't mind, but I used a fair bit of your creamer while I was at it, too. Y'all are probably gonna want to go get us some more while you're out today.

You know, I really appreciate y'all letting me stay with you for awhile. Not too many folks would do that for an old friend they hadn't seen in fifteen years. But you two, I tell you what – y'all are just as good as gold!

By the way, hope you don't mind, but I took a shower in your bathroom while y'all were sleeping in. I was gonna use the guest bathroom, but you know, I'm a pretty tall fella, and I just couldn't see squeezing my long frame into that wee little shower stall. Don't worry, I didn't peek in on y'all sleeping or nothing. I mean, not on purpose or anything. That'd be kinda creepy, ya know?

But enough about me. Let's talk about you two. What are y'all planning on making for breakfast? I'm starved! I'm so hungry I could eat a whole pig! Oh, that's right, I forgot y'all were Jewish. Well, heck, just because y'all can't have it don't mean I can't, ain't that right? Y'all don't mind going out and getting me a package of bacon, do ya? I'll pay ya back and everything. You know, soon as I find myself a job. Yesiree, first paycheck and I'll pay y'all right back, for sure!

If it's too much trouble, though, I can eat whatever y'all have got in the fridge. Although, I was looking through your fridge and freezer last night while y'all were sleeping – hope you don't mind – and I didn't really see too much of anything, food-wise. There was some cookies in the pantry, but just three or four of 'em. Hope you don't mind, but I finished those off while I was at it.

But I'm going on and on about me again. Boy oh boy, am I a chatterbox or what? So, you two are going to work today, huh? What kind of fancy pants jobs do y'all have that'll let you sleep in this late and show up whenever you feel like it, huh? Y'all must be some CEO's or something. Is that what y'all are, some CEO's? I bet you both are, judging by this McMansion of y'all's.

Yep, this place is real nice. I wouldn't mind living here myself. Long-term, I mean. Of course, I don't want to make myself a nuisance or anything. I'll only stay as long as y'all make me feel welcome. And I  know y'all two are some of the most welcoming folks I've ever been blessed enough to know. Yep, y'all are true humanitarians and, well, just genuinely good people.

Hope you don't mind, but I was kinda channel-surfing last night and there wasn't much on, so I found a couple of them pay-per-view movies that looked kinda interesting, and well, I ordered a couple and watched them. Don't worry, though, I'm'll pay y'all back, just as soon as I get that first paycheck.

Speaking of which, I was planning on going out job-hunting this morning, and I kinda wanted to make a good impression, so I was wondering if you wouldn't mind if I borrowed a suit jacket and pants, a dress shirt, and a tie. Just for the day, ya know, so I can make a good impression. I won't rumple 'em up or nothing, and even if I do, I'll just take 'em over to the dry cleaners and get 'em fixed right up, lickety-split.

Also, I'm gonna need something to drive to get around town. Can't exactly go job-hunting on foot, now can I? Ha, ha, ha! Hope you don't mind lending me that sweet Beemer in the garage. Don't worry, I'll be gentle on her. I ain't been in but one accident – uh, make that three – in my whole life, and I'm not about to add to that total today.

Hope you don't mind, but I was talking to my ex-girlfriend last night, long-distance – don't worry, I'm'll pay you back for that, too – and I was saying to her how I wouldn't mind us getting back together, and she said she wouldn't mind us getting back together neither, and – well, long story short, we're gonna give it a go. I told her where I was staying and she started packing her bags right away. She'll be here in an hour or two. Why, if things work out between the two of us, I wouldn't be surprised if y'all were hearing wedding bells before you know it. We could even have the ceremony right here in y'all's backyard, if you don't mind. Why, it's practically made for it!

Yep, you two are just the finest human beings I've ever met, and I'm glad to know ya both. I can't thank y'all enough for letting me stay here indefinitely. I'm truly honored to call you my friends. Hope you don't mind calling me yours, too.