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We ain’t go no place to go, let’s go the bro-rawk show by indianamcfly
August 1, 2008, 5:51 pm
Filed under: Music Reviews | Tags: , ,

This is my account of a concert that I went to recently:

I recently spent an evening at a musical performance of Maryland-native jam-band O.A.R. (Of A Revolution). The concert was solid, the crowd friendly, and the bros out in full force. Yes, you read correctly – the bros were in their element.

(If you are unfamiliar with bros, watch this.)

As I pulled into the parking lot, the first thing I saw made my (strong, well chiseled) jaw drop to the floor (immediately followed by uproarious laughter) : An approximately 22 year old Caucasian male, shirtless, sitting on the roll bar of his jacked up yellow convertible Jeep Wrangler, complete with a can of bro-favorite Natural Light – more affectionately known as Natty. This is too good (funny) to be true.

Apparently, beautiful (often scantily clad) girls go for this, because there was one nearby every bro.

I decide that I can have too much fun with this: I will join them. I make a solemn promise to myself to “bro out” until the night is finished. I remove my shirt, grab a solo, and begin what seemed to be a never ending evening of guys chanting, arms slung over one another, in the bliss of drowning away insecurities with beer and “Bro-therhood.”

After 3 solid hours of tailgating, my friends decide that the crappy opening band is done, and that those of us with lawn seats need to get a good spot. We get a good spot – front “row” of lawn seats, but to our dismay the opening act is not finished. We are happy to hear them announce that this is their last song, and that they are from Sydney, Australia. OK, so the Sydney thing isn’t that great, but we are certainly glad to hear that they are soon going to shut the hell up. Their “last song” is a 20 minute slow jam that nobody there liked. Their feet apparently were cemented in place, and there were no words. Then they decide to tell us again that they are from Sydney, and that this is their last song. Everyone there though that they played the same song again.

After the set change, the lawn starts to fill up. This is a homecoming show for Rockville, MD darlings O.A.R., and people are excited. The energetic jam-band has grown recently in popularity, famously being one of the “smallest” acts to sell out Madison Square Garden. By the time the lights dim, you cannot sit down. Merriweather Post-Pavilion is at capacity.

O.A.R. plays a great show for their voracious hometown crowd, but I think that the real show was not on the stage, but in the crowd. My buddy’s friend is truly enjoying himself. I turn around and see him talking to two girls who had been hitting on us earlier – I tried to keep my distance. They were nothing special. I turn around again a few minutes later, and Jared is making out with both incredibly below average girls. They had tried to say that he was gay, and he later told me that he had to “prove them wrong.” This saddens me in a way, because I had been told multiple times that night that we both looked and acted the same. I feel like my allowance of him to make this grave mistake was similar to me doing it. I felt better about a half an hour later, when he was dancing with what I will refer to as a “Babraham Lincoln.”

At least 75 percent of the people there are not wearing shirts. And if they are, they are either lacrosse jerseys or have a popped collar.

I did not break character. I am a method actor. I feel like the Daniel Day-Lewis of investigative reporters. A guy spills some beer on me, and apologizes. “Sorry bro – my bad.” I break into a brief but severe fit of laughter (as do my friends who are aware of my objective). “No problem bro,” I reply, huge grin on my face. He offers me a cigarette, which I decline. I decided not to call him “bro” again, lest he catch on to my thinly vailed “bro-verload.” (Note: Bro-verload is the abundance of bro related topics, or conversational over usage of the word itself.) I’d like to see Geraldo’s mustache do that.

As I lay in bed that night, I thought to myself, “I had a great time.” I had a great time… pretending to be a bro. Oh no.



Problems for Obama? by dedoty
July 27, 2008, 1:13 am
Filed under: Politics

With investor and consumer confidence rising, a recent jump in sales of new homes, and the apparent success of George Bush’s troop surge, one has to wonder if Obama might well start to stumble in the coming months. Though supporters cannot admit it – it would discredit his “newpolitik” appeal – Obama, like all politicians, does play on America’s fears for political gain. Fears of another Vietnam, of a collapsing economy, of diminished standing in world affairs…each lives in the hearts of potential Obamacons all across the country, and his success in bringing them to the forefront without looking like a fear monger certainly contributes to his strong showing in national polls.

But what if the problems start to fade? If this economic recovery proves to be more than a temporary upswing, and victory in Iraq sounds less like an ironic slogan and more like a realistic possibility, it will be much harder to sell Americans on the idea that the Half-White Knight is the only man who can save us from a bumbling, out-of-touch Republican party. Traditional concerns like social security reform, energy independence, and colonizing Mars will play a bigger role in America’s choice for President, and Obama won’t be able to rely so heavily on his hope-filled promises to lead us out of the darkness.

Common sense would dictate that a Republican has no chance in this year’s elections. John McCain may be old, he may support the Iraq War, and he may be the most unpleasantly sarcastic man ever to race for the presidency, but I still cannot subscribe to the notion that Barack Obama’s victory is a foregone conclusion. This race is far from over, and, though it is unfortunate, America’s messianic perception of Obama has left him nowhere to go but down.



Whatever Happened to Mr. Ed? by dedoty
July 22, 2008, 12:45 am
Filed under: Movie Review | Tags: , , ,

I’m sorry that “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” is the first thing I’ve posted about in over a month, but sometimes you see something that hurts your heart so badly, you just need to write about it.  I was going to turn this blog post into a diatribe against Andy Garcia for selling himself out and appearing alongside Drew Barrymore in a movie about Chihuahuas until I remembered that he left his dignity in the coatroom at the premier of Ocean’s 12.  Worst Movie Ever.  I would like, then, to take this opportunity to address a short open letter to Disney and any other producers out there who might have unfortunate thoughts of making another “talking dogs” movie.

Dear Producers,

You know, I really used to love your animal movies.  Dumbo, the Lion King, 101 Dalmatians…and the Fox and the Hound!  God, that movie made tear up every time.  Even Balto was alright.  I don’t know which of you slacker Disney-wannabes made it, but for once you kept from failing, and I’ll give you props for that.

I have to tell you, though, you really have to cut all this bullshit with the live-action talking-animal movies.  Beverly Hills Chihuahua?  Cats ‘n’ Dogs?  And I’m going to go ahead and throw in Alvin & The Chipmunks and Underdog too.  I know Michael Eisner probably told you that “CGI is the best thing since cramming a horse’s mouth full of peanut butter,” but you have to remember that he said it right after he greenlighted 112 Dalmatians and right before he suggested Pirates of the Caribbean Four: Captain Jack Allies With Ninja Sailors To Take Back The Flying Dutchman From Horatio Hornblower.

Don’t listen to that Mickey-killing, Goofy-stomping son of a bitch.  America can and will keep shoveling buckets full of money into your pockets as long as you keep feeding us shitty movies to drag howling kids to.  With that in mind, though, is it so much to ask that you shelve the CGI for awhile and make something tolerable?  You can animate animals just as easily in cartoon form, and I hear you can use computers for that too these days.   Kids won’t know the difference, and parents will thank you.

Please, just think about it.

Love,

Dan



Why the U.S. Education System is Failing (and Why I’m an Authority) by indianamcfly
July 21, 2008, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

My brain just exploded.

As an AP student in our awesomely failing compulsory education system, I agree.

I am the student that deserves a C in one class and suprisingly receives an A or a B. Sure, I’m thankful when I do get rewarded with an easy A (though, often it’s not an A awarded, which brings me to my next point). I am the kid who should be in Honors for some of my courses, but instead is forcefully pushed into a realm of education that should be beyond what my personal limitations are, all to avoid being in the cut-up class of Honors students who were pushed into that level of education. In a nutshell, I am a prime example of the failure of the U.S. education system. I am a product of my environment.

The A that I was awarded (or that 5 on an AP exam) may get me into a college – but what for? To be in another institution filled with students who were also pushed into courses in which they were given A’s but should have earned C’s?

This degradation of the public school system may put more kids in college, but only hurts us in the long run – that “long run” being the post-college career. It would not be so detrimental to the U.S. if the education system were slackened (as it has) were it not for one minor problem: The global position of U.S. education. This (pardon the cliche) “real world,” in which economics and business and policy are all counted and measured and judged and pitted against each other play out on the international stage – not the American stage. In this worldwide play, American students are slowly becoming the extras – the ones which people know are there, but everyone except that kid’s parents are too captivated by the leads to notice. Perhaps the most poignant observation (among many) is that College Board should grade teachers.

Here is a prime example of why.

Starting with the class of 2009, the state of Maryland’s Public Education System put in place standardized High School Assessments – tests which all MD students must pass to graduate. Is this fair? Does it ensure that teachers are being held accountable? To put it simply, no. This new, shiny, state government supported, fail-proof, strict measure has already been given elasticity to its intended rigidity: Students did not pass, teachers are not being fired, and not surprising in the least – its being challenged. Parents will not stand for their child, who is enrolled in an advanced Science course, to be told that they did not make the cut.

This intended swift hammer of justice did not strike. Nor will it. Not until school systems stop pushing for the school with the most enrolled AP students, and start pushing for the most students passing the AP exams.

We need to follow a survival of the fittest approach to education, not the “Oh-well-everybody-had-fun-here’s-a-juice-box” t-ball technique that we are using now.



The Glorious Failure of Charter Schools… by indianamcfly
July 21, 2008, 11:58 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

this is a short paper that I wrote for an argument assignment in my AP Language course back in November(I chose to do mine on charter schools). Just putting it out there:

“They are so common that students have given them names… drawn pictures of them”. These are the words of Ariel Smith, a college student who worked at an after-school program at in a Washington, D.C. public elementary school. The “they” she made reference to was not a local running group, a nest of birds in the school yard, or interesting cars. “They” is a reference to the rats seen running through the cafeteria and kindergarten room. Why, you may ask, has this D.C. public school (and so many like it) been neglected, been allowed to fall through the cracks? While some may say that it is the school principal’s fault, it is actually caused by a relocation of educational funds. Where is the money that could be saving the community’s schools? The answer is obvious: charter schools. Charter schools are public education facilities which have been created for any student who wishes to “escape” the disintegrating public schools. While many may say that this is an excellent idea because it allows students to get away from unproductive learning environments, it is, in reality, causing the existing schools to be further neglected, and in the end, allowing students to become “left behind”.

The District of Columbia has put great faith in charter schools to be the savior of the public school system. The charter schools, once seen as the magic remedy of the ever failing facilities and staff, have themselves failed. This year, a review of all public schools in the District was conducted to determine if they met health and test standards. 30 of the schools failed. Included in the list are charter schools. Although some of the charter schools have seen moderate success, a great number of them have failed to meet educational standards. 26 out of the 30 failing schools are regular public schools; the other 4 are charter schools. Washington charter schools are evaluated every 5 years by a charter committee, as well as an annual review (which the regular schools are subjected to as well) dictated by the No Child Left Behind Act. If it is determined that test scores are too low, they have a two year probationary period to improve them before they are added to an “In Need of Improvement” list. If after those two years the school still fails to raise its scores, the school is eligible for additional monitoring, or to be shut down. It is evident that charter schools are not only failing to be the champion of public school system, but rather they are becoming the nemesis of success, as is obvious in the growing number of schools who after more than two years still cannot raise scores.

Some say that charter schools are a great success because test scores are rising. However, this rise in test scores is found only in the charter schools, which draw the more academically advanced students from the regular public schools, and not throughout the entire District school system. Besides failing to ameliorate the entire District’s failing test scores (three out of four D.C. students fail to meet math standards), charter schools also use vital funds which should be used to rehabilitate the struggling regular public schools. Although in theory charter schools should be met with great success, they are actually money pits which consume large amounts of government funding. The school system fails to be productive with the money granted not because of a fundamental flaw with charter schools, but because of the District’s crumbling infrastructure. Blatant statistics show misuse of funding (and of deep internal issues) in Washington’s school system. The school system ranks third in the nation’s 100 largest school districts in spending, while it ranks last in the classroom and instruction spending category. Charter schools are merely the latest step in a colossal fumbling of grant location; they are the biggest layer that needs to be peeled away, and one that when removed will make the underlying infrastructure problems visible and ready for reform.

The first step in fixing the mounting problems in Washington, D.C. schools is to phase out charter schools and focus on rehabilitating the decrepit facilities which already exist. Once this happens, more qualified teachers will come to teach in the District, and eventually, test scores will rise. But I stress once again, to give incentive to these teachers, it is paramount that we refocus our funds away from money pit projects (such as the $125,000 “production room” at a Washington middle school intended for announcements and television broadcasts, which, after three years still has not been used due to miscommunication between the school board and the principal) and towards the rehabilitation and expansion of regular public schools.

Teachers do not want to work where rats scurry through classrooms, adorned with rusted through lockers, and where they will lack proper funding for classroom instruction. Until these issues are met head on, Washington test scores will fail to improve across the board. While system-wide reconstruction will not be easy, the first (and always hardest) steps are to phase out charter schools and refocus funds.



EMO KIDS THREATEN END OF GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH by tomcreo
July 21, 2008, 11:57 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Sound probable? Well it is more than you think. And you know what? It’s about time those hair flipping, girls pants wearing scensters get their Vans Slip-On shod feet held to the fire. Who would have thought that it would have come from their choice of cosmetics?

Our little story starts off in September 2007. That month saw the release of a number of albums by emo darlings like Motion City Soundtrack, Rilo Kiley, Iron and Wine, Every Time I Die, The Bled, and Hot Hot Heat. Additionally, the charts were filled with hit emo “rockers” like Simple Plan’s “When I’m Gone”, Fall Out Boy’s “I’m Like a Lawyer…”, BoysLikeGirls’ “Hero/Heroine”, Paramore’s “crushcrushcrush”, and who can forget Plain White T’s “Hey There Delilah”. Finally, the number one independent CD of that month was Dashboard Confessional’s “Thick as Thieves”.

At the same time, the L’Oreal Corporation saw the highest gain in stock prices outside of holiday season booms. In one month, the stocks ballooned $10 a share. This drastic gain is usually caused by a spike in demand for the conglomerate’s product. We all know the two things that emo kids love: makeup and skinny guys crying about their fat girlfriends. Usually consuming, per capita, enough eye shadow, mascara and hair dye to make the cast of the Rocky Horror Picture Show gasp in astonishment, it can be assumed with roughly one emo kid per every 4 suburban households (or, 1000 per every Hot Topic storefront), that that climb in stock prices could be a reflection of the prosperity of the emo fad. I won’t even begin to talk about the amount of disposable income 14-18 year old suburban white kids have at their availability…

One of the key ingredients in cosmetics like lipstick, mascara, hair dye, hair wax/pomade is beeswax. Most of the world’s beeswax is sourced from Eastern Africa. Since the spike in demand the profit margins for the sale and export of beeswax have skyrocketed. This is reflected by the amount of aid groups that have intervened and under the premise of “creating a market structure” set standard prices (ones above the pre September ’07 levels) in order to increase the standard of living for the producers. This disguised price gouging can be absorbed by the cosmetics corporations, but other enterprises are not as fortunate.

The Greek Orthodox Church mandates that all candles used for religious services must be made from pure beeswax. As I said before, the area of largest export is Eastern Africa. With a standard price raised by non-profit groups like “Honey Care Africa”, the Greek Orthodox Church is facing the ass end of socialized market economies. The price hike is huge when you consider the scale of wax the church must consume regularly. As a non-profit organization, there is not nearly as much room for price fluctuations as there are in private industries. As such, there is a question to be raised about the viability of the church’s use of the wax candles.

So what’s the moral of the story? If you are a member of the Greek Orthodox Church and an emo kid, you are wrong. If you are an emo kid, shame on you. If you are a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, it is your holy obligation to cease the consumption of cosmetics by emo kids by any means necessary.



What’s With the War on Terror Comedies? by dedoty
June 10, 2008, 12:51 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

A few days ago, I went to go see “Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay.” Really, just looking at the title I figured it would be shitty, but a friend texted me and said she thought it could be a fun study break. And besides, movies are only $10 and it’s like an hour and a half long. Sounds like a pretty safe decision. Right?

Wrong. This sounds snobby, I know, but to even review this movie almost feels beneath my dignity. The only reason why I can even bring myself to do this review is because Harold & Kumar is the angriest a movie has made me in years. To paraphrase a good friend of mine, who said that “How I Met Your Mother” is “one Neil Patrick Harris away from a shitty sitcom,” this movie was one Neil Patrick Harris away from the worst movie of the century. And maybe he didn’t even save it.

Let’s start off with some of the lighter misdemeanors the movie commits. Every time somebody got punched in the stomach (which happened far too often) it was accompanied by a fart noise. Inmates at Guantanamo Bay eat cock meat sandwiches for their meals, evidently, which played out in an entirely pointless scene where a group of guards came in and told some unconvincing “hardened terrorists,” and our protagonists Harold & Kumar, to “get sucking.” At a completely unnecessary “bottomless party,” a male friend walks from the water and Kumar yells that his pubes “look like Osama bin Laden’s beard.”

And Rob Cordry? Horrendous acting aside, his “racist Homeland Security Officer” character might have come off as quality satire to middle schoolers who get their foreign policy news from Green Day songs, but anybody else it’ll just come off as annoyingly contrived. His death satisfied me more than any comedy casualty in history, probably because I knew that the miserable Homeland Securityplot line was gone, never to return.

Now for the cinematic war crimes. Attention Everybody: Spoilers to follow. To be honest, though, the movie is so thoroughly rotten there’s no way I could spoil it for you. The characters are all completely two dimensional. Even Harold & Kumar, who managed to pull off some degree of likeability and depth in their first film, completely lost it in this one. I didn’t give a shit one way or the other what happened to them, or to any other characters in the movie. When Kumar interrupted his ex-girlfriend’s marriage, it made me happy the way that reading a news report about a car accident two states away makes you sad. The only thing that aroused any genuine emotion was when Neil Patrick Harris died after 15 minutes in the movie. Seriously? Why did they do that? Killing NPH literally killed all the funny.

Some people liked it, evidently. One reviewer from MSNBC wrote that Escape “[A]ctually scores more points off the nation’s paranoid and repressive post-9/11 mindset than all of Hollywood’s hand-wringing war-on-terror dramas put together.” In the same review, he had the audacity to compare this movie with Dr. Strangelove. In his warped mind, John Cho and Kal Penn are to George Bush and the War on Terror what Slim Pickens and Peter Sellers were to the Cold War.

When I was looking around for other reviews of this movie, I also found this.  “Postal” only saw a limited release in the United States, but its most famous actor is Verne Troyer, which I feel really explains everything.  What’s more, movies inspired by video games aren’t worth the DVDs they’re burned on, or even the bandwidth it would take to download them.  This one claims to be more than just a video game movie, “lampooning religious extremists, minorities, bureaucrats, immigrants, cops, women, the Holocaust, gun nuts and more with evenhanded abandon.”

Really?  Verne Troyer headlines a movie in which characters dressed like George Bush and Osama bin Laden hug it out after some other B-list actors poke fun at the Holocaust?

Save yourself the hassle, put the War on Terror and all the rest of America’s problems (which, really, aren’t all that funny) aside for the moment, and laugh at Seth Rogen and crew in Pineapple Express or Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  If you still insist on watching either of these movies, at least consider the last ditch alternative:  you might be better served flushing eleven dollars down the toilet and smashing your head against a wall for two hours.




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