Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hack-A-Shaq, bruise an ego.

The NBA season kicked off this week and for the Spurs and Suns it only took around 5 seconds of the new season for hilarity to ensue. If you haven't seen it already, Gregg Popovitch figured he'd give a cheeky little response to Shaq's recent accusation that Pops was a "coward" for employing the "Hack-A-Shaq" in the playoffs last season:

Once everyone realized what was going on, a good laugh was had by all. Shaq was smiling. The Spurs were smiling. Pops was down right Fonzied pink about his clever little punk job. In a fun little gesture, whatever animosity that may have existed between the two was playfully buried. I found the whole thing entertainingly unexpected. I've always considered Pops to be the closest thing the NBA had to Bill Belichick; a cold, calculating, disgustingly successful, evil genius. While he was never as unambiguously evil as Belichick, I figured he'd at the very least be a humorless dick incapable of such lighthearted moments. But somewhere between the last odd year championship and growing that crazy beard I guess something changed. In this one gesture he has shown more personality than the last three championship teams combined.

As funny as the brief little episode was for everyone, there was one question on my mind: what does Michael Finley think about all this? Here is this guy, a respected fourteen year veteran of the league, a two time all star, a former member of the old Dallas Mavericks' "Big Three"; and he's the guy they figure is expendable enough to burn a foul on. I mean he was obviously cool enough with the whole thing to go along with it but that's got to dent your pride a little bit. Obviously they weren't going to let Tim Duncan or Tony Parker to go one foul in the red at the immediate start of the game, but they were more than willing to burden Finley with a foul. Couldn't they have have outsourced it to one of their bench players? I'm sure they could have lived with jeopardizing Matt Bonner's career 6.3 PPG (although I guess it might have been been too big a give away to inexplicably start Tim Duncan on the bench). Or couldn't they have just brought back Robert Horry?

I know at this point in his career Finley's primarily a role player and back up for Ginobli, but come on, the guy was one of the superstars from "Like Mike". I think that's got to count for something right?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Four Random Thoughts About the New Guitar Hero Commercial

  1. Activision isn't fucking around. The Guitar Hero crew really went to the mattresses in rolling out, in grand fashion, their latest bid to reclaim the fake instrument playing throne that they originally founded. In an obvious show of wasteful ostentatiousness, they decided to get the four greatest athletes of their respective sports (I guess in the case of Tony Hawk, historically the greatest) to come together to promote a product that has absolutely nothing to do with sports! The closest example I can recall of a comparable accumulation of such talent are those Gillette ads (although Theirry Henry could hardly be called the Woods or Federer of soccer) and possibly ProStars (with Bo Jackson playing odd man out). The ball is in EA's court now for Rock Band 3. Movie stars? Astronauts? World Leaders? Decades down the line when we're all old and gray, we'll be telling our grandchildren, in a manner much like a Werther's commercial, about what life was like during the eventual plastic fake instrument playing Cold War that consumed the world.
  2. Why "Old Time Rock and Roll"? I guess the better question might be: why Risky Business? It's iconic, widely recognizable, and I guess it's associated with fun and cool (in an outdated 80s sort of way); but in the end it is one joke that goes absolutely nowhere after the big slide-in introduction (now if Rebecca De Mornay shows up and they run a train on her, that'd be compelling advertising). Also, I don't know about you but outside of the context of a single teenager cutting loose after being left home alone by his parents, four guys doing the whole dancing around the house in their underwear thing comes off a touch homoerotic. I'm also not sure if the use of a such a stale, anti-progressive, aggressively rockist anthem like "Old Time Rock and Roll" is really the sort of song you want to attach to something being promoted to todays music consuming youth. You better believe Bob Seeger would have objections to some of the "non-authentic" rock acts in the game like Michael Jackson, 311, or perhaps even Steely Dan.
  3. Poor Tony Hawk. Does he really have to come out in a helmet and skateboard? You'd figure being the biggest name in his sport and making billions of dollars through video games and other licensing deals would warrant some degree of recognizable celebrity. They didn't make A-Rod wear a baseball cap or Phelps where swimming goggles. Is he that much of an anonymous white dude that they need flagrant signals directing people to who he is? On top of that indignity, they made him the drummer of the band. Granted, drums are definitely the funnest fake instrument to play (at least until someone gets around to creating the fake theremin) but it comes at the cost of being the most overlooked member of the group. While I know Kobe and A-Rod's massive egos could never be constrained to the back, I figured Phelps being the youngest should differ to the veteran. Which brings me to my final point...
  4. Michael Phelps really can't act. He may be the greatest Olympic athlete of all time and has more gold medals than I have shoes, but the man can't act his way out of a kiddie pool. He always seems to lost and uncomfortable during every media appearance. Despite the writers and producers' best efforts to idiot proof his hosting gig on SNL, it was still a powerfully painful experience to watch. Every time I see him in something with that vacant, goober, semi-smile, I start to become more and more convinced that he's actually borderline retarded, but just happens to be a total idiot savant at swimming. He has yet to prove me any differently. I can only imagine the fascinating challenge faced by his publicist: to promote an immensely talented, inhumanly gifted athlete that lacks a single ounce of charisma.

Friday, October 24, 2008


I guess there's been a slightly longer than usual down time since the last entry. There's no real reason for the mini hiatus. I have been feeling a bit out of step lately though; a little north of ennui but not quite up to malaise. Oddly enough, despite the missed time, I'm actually slightly ahead of my usual rate of updates for a month. I'll probably top out over my usual ten post Mendoza line if I maintain this current pace. Do I dare even start to dream about matching the 12 to 13 posts a month heydays of January to March of 08'?

It seems like every other day another reflection of the dire problems of the country today makes me more and more nostalgic for those free wheelin' Clinton years. It appears that late 90s advertising sensations, the "Wassup" Guys, also seem to have felt the pinch of the past eight years.

In a bold, public display of outright partisanism by a beer commercial spokesman not seen since Spuds Mackenzie's endorsement of Dukakis in '88, the Wassup Guys have clearly given their verdict on the previous administration and their opinions on the future.

As tongue and cheek the whole presentation was; it was still kind of expectedly jarring to see such a symbol of simple turn of the millennium high school days supplanted and placed right in the worst elements of the present. It'd be like seeing your high school self on the street crankin' dat Soulja Boy. The whole thing felt sort of bizarre and sad (especially when that one guy tried to hang himself). Seeing this relic of the past in a modern context just seemed to magnify how ugly things have gotten. I guess that's the sort of message they were trying to send out.

Also, isn't it a little bit ironic that it's a former Budweiser ad campaign that's strongly endorsing John McCain's opponent? If I were him I'd get the Budweiser Frogs on the horn and get back on the offensive again.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Resistance is Futile

The 2008 presidential campaign is now heading down the homestretch with just a little over three weeks to go. From what the pundits and national polling seem to be indicating, barring the discovery of a Barack Obama and Bill Ayers friendship scrapbook/joint terrorist manifesto, the country is headed towards a historic Obama victory. I don't know, it seems like historic events are occurring just about every other day (the stock market seems to setting new records by the hour).

If Obama does come through on election day it'll cap off one of the most unexpected, spectacularly meteoric rises to power in American political history since Gerald Ford unexpectedly fell ass backwards into the Presidency. Just four years into his first Senate term he is on the verge of becoming the next president of the United States. I think I'm still using the same super sized double pack of Head and Shoulders shampoo I got from Sam's Club since then.

Given the current context, this recent article offers an interesting historical question: "Could Mike Ditka have changed the course of US history?" I do remember that brief period after the Republican nominee Jack Ryan dropped out and in the search for a new candidate the party was throwing out his name as a potential replacement. While nothing eventually came of it; Ditka, with national exposure and a strong in-state support base, would have definitely been a stiffer challenge than Alan Keyes (the one man political equivalent of the Washington Generals). In fact any member of the Chicago Bears Shufflin' Crew would have been a stiffer challenge. I do agree though with the article that while there was no guarantee that Ditka would have gone all Super Bowl XX on Obama, it is definitely true that had Obama lost, there would be no way he'd be in this position right now. Perhaps had Ditka ran and won, we would be talking about his current quest for the White House and pondering if Tony Eason could have changed the course of US history?

While the Dikta nomination is definitely a plausible "what if", I think the individual who has had the greatest influence on the chain of events that has led to our current position is none other than everyone's favorite ex-Borg, Jeri "Seven of Nine" Ryan. Aside from single handedly keeping Star Trek Voyager on the air for an additional four seasons and replacing Deanna Troi as the prime masturbatory fantasy for an entire generation of Trekkies, she was also Mrs. Jack Ryan from 1991 to 1999. Despite the fact that Mr. Ryan had retired from Goldman Sachs at 40 with hundreds of millions of dollars and had that sweet Borg action to come home to every night, it apparently wasn't enough. In what can only be described as a truly epic case of tragic hubris, his desire for Jeri to go to freaky sex clubs and perform public sex acts with him, naturally led to a prompt divorce. Of course eventually all those lurid details oh so inconveniently came out five or so years later when he was running for Senator, causing him to drop out.

Had Jeri been a bit more Adina Howard-like in her sexual boundaries and gone along with Jack or at the very least been discrete about it during the divorce proceedings, then this entire mess would have been avoided. Without a tabloid scandal crippling the campaign, the state party apparatus could have mounted a strong and effective effort rather than scrambling with a sudden fill in solution like Ditka or Keyes. Interestingly Ryan's credentials were almost exactly like that of Obama: young, good looking, political neophyte, successful, local roots, and a Harvard JD (in addition to his Harvard MBA). And as blue leaning as Illinois was, the Senate spot they were competing for was vacated by a Republican, so it wasn't unprecedented. In addition, sharing the name with Tom Clancy's ass kicking super agent is second only being named Jack Bauer, so the election really could have gone either way.

In Star Trek terms it's kind of like that classic episode of original Star Trek where Kirk and the gang end up in depression era United States and they realize that the women he has just met and fallen in love with needs to die to prevent the Nazis from winning World War II...except this one involves sex clubs with cages and whips. Regardless, if you end up finding yourself the following morning after Election Day, awash in the historic news of a Barack Obama victory, just remember: all this could have very well been determined by the less than freaky sexual tastes of Jeri Ryan.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Another presidential debate season has now come to an end (I still can't believe they held it at Hofstra) and the patriotic themed debate backgrounds with giant passages from the Declaration of Independence transcribed on them will be going back in the cellar for another four years. Overall, it was obvious to anyone watching that McCain was clearly taking a more aggressive stance to boost his trailing campaign:

A little loose with the moderating rules there, Bob.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Please forgive the lateness of my reply.

Is it just me or was the first thing you recalled after hearing about Ringo's irritable plea to his fans to not send him any more fan mail was that old episode of the Simpsons when Marge sends him a portrait and gets a response from him decades later?

Well whatever busy side activity he's working on (The New Beatles? Ringo Starr and His Second Team All-Starr Band?) I'm sure it's a wholly valid and compelling reason for issuing his fans a peace and love filled message of alienation. Frankly, I would have found it far more interesting if he had flashed just one half of a that peace sign while addressing his fans.

I, at this time, would also like to extend a message to all fans of "Victor Sells Out" to stop swamping my mailbox with superfluous, gushing, fan mail and requests for autographs. As of October 14th, I will just set fire to them on sight. I am simply too busy with my breakneck, every three days or so, posting schedule to properly answer them all.

Financial donations and offers of no strings attached casual encounters accompanied by self photographs will still be accepted.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Rule of Three: HorrorTown Genre 1982-1984

Anyone who was ever really into academic bowl in high school or college (NYU college bowl president, 2004-2006) will likely understand where I'm coming from. For those of you whose only exposure to hardcore, moderated, team based, buzzer pressing action was that episode of Saved by the Bell where Zack and the gang compete against a bunch of ugly nerd caricatures from rival Valley; all I ask for is for you to keep an open mind.

For the benefit of those unfamiliar, a standard round of academic trivia consists of two teams of four being asked a ten point tossup question by the moderator. At any point in the question, any member of either team can ring to answer it; at the risk of getting it wrong, losing five points, and giving the other team sole control of answering the question. Once a side has correctly answered the tossup they will get and series of exclusive bonus question worth 30 points which they can confer and answer family feud style. The format of the bonus questions in terms of number and value could be anything: a trio of 5-10-15 point questions, a pair of 15 point questions, questions of declining value from 30-20-10, etc. The most popular format, however, are three questions of 10 points each. If this explanation has somehow perversely peaked your academic bowl interests you should check out Ken Jennings' "Brainiac" or Andrew U.'s disturbingly thorough analysis of buzzing techniques.

After four years of college answering countless 30 point bonuses (and having to write more than a few myself) I developed a sort of mental proclivity towards groups of threes. Many times I or my old college bowl friends and I would find ourselves talking about some esoteric pop culture topic and then notice that there are at least three examples of them (i.e. Drifter's hits about being somewhere: "Up on the Roof", "On Broadway", and "Under the Boardwalk") and deem them enough for a "bonus" or lament the fact that a category is one short of a "bonus" (i.e. biopics about Steve Prefontaine: "Prefontaine" and "Without Limits"). In my mind, a piece of overly specific pop culture trivia reaching that particular standard of the rule of three has now earned a sort of "bona fide" status. Something specific happening once is obviously an isolated incident. Something specific happening twice is a mere coincidence. Once something specific happens three times, it's a movement, a category, a series, an era, a period, trend, or in this case: a genre.

While I doubt there's any real literature to attest to it, under my rule of three, there was an incredibly brief but wildly successful subgenre of Pop R&B that I will officially coin as "HorrorTown", an early forerunner for the more legitimate "Horrorcore" hip hop subgenre that would emerge over a decade later. As the next three songs and videos will show, essentially this sound could be characterized as a blend of 80's contemporary Motown style pop R&B mixed with elements of the occult, death, darkness, the macabre, and the bizarre. Fittingly enough they all involve Michael Jackson as well.

With that totally false statement, the HorrorTown genre was launched in a most spectacular fashion. The Citizen Kane of music videos, which to this day continues to influence a whole new generation of pop stars, Filipino prisoners, and reenactors at the Village Halloween Parade who never fail to annoy me, lays out the fundamental blueprint for the entire genre: monsters, disturbing imagery, paranoia, unrelenting darkness; all done with a grand eye for the cinematic...and featuring Michael Jackson. It also carries on the HorrorTown trademark of having a completely accessible, fun, danceable, pop sound that is completely the opposite of its lyrics and theme. There's also the big twist ending, which is a common feature of HorrorTown videos.

Rockwell - Somebody's Watching Me (1984)

For me personally, this is the probably the scariest of the HorrorTown videos (whether that makes it more definitive of the genre or less, I'm not sure). Once again, the random disturbing imagery (floating head, demonic dog, blood, etc.), paranoia, sense of evil, Michael Jackson vocals are all there. Most people will say based on the theme of the song and the shower references, that there's a distinct cinematic tie to "Psycho" with the video, but I find it more like "The Shinning". It's obvious that Rockwell didn't know what he was getting into being the caretaker for this modest two story condo which may or may not be built right next to a cemetery. The video also definitely had the best HorrorTown twist ending with the undead mailman. Aside from the song and video, the fact that Rockwell was Berry Gordy's son gives this single the distinction of having the strongest of ties to the Motown sound. Although I've never seen the music video for his second "hit" "Obscene Phone Caller", based on the words and music, how could it not be another HorrorTown classic?

Jacksons - Torture (1984)

Like the ephemeral splendor of a blazing firework, the spectacular run of the HorrorTown genre eventually ended with the Jacksons' swansong Torture. It's amazing to observe how far the genre had evolved in the mere two years since "Thriller". The HorrorTown video had moved from merely creating pastiches of traditional movie elements to drawing its own completely original artistic visions. In a wholly created nightmarish dimension worthy of Lovecraft the Jacksons find themselves in a truly disturbing universe of giant eyeballs, grotesque spiders, and dancing skeletons; torn between sick pleasure and twisted pain. A true masterpiece of the form if there ever was one. Although Jackson and like minded artists would casually exhibit HorrorTown-like projects from time to time, the classic era died with "Torture".

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

10 trillion to midnight

The current Victor's signs of the financial apocalypse series turns its sights to the National Debt Clock in Time Square. Since 1989, this billboard sized display constantly updated a series of numerical displays to show the current state of U.S. national debt and how much each family owed. I remember as a little kid driving through Manhattan with my father and asking him what all the increasing numbers meant. Being the lovable sadist that he was, he told me that it was some sort of scientific dooms day clock and when all the numbers reached 9, the world would end. As the case with most eight year olds, after hearing this news I promptly freaked out.

Now about 16 years later, Brian Williams mentions with his trademark gravitas that perhaps my father's cruel lie might not have been all that off.

Remember, this is without factoring in that $700 billion or so I.O.U. the government took out. Can you believe that there was actually a time in 2000, when they had to shut it off because the debt actually started to go backwards? Doesn't that just fill you with an overwhelming sense of melancholy nostalgia for the waning days of the Clinton years, NSYNC's "No Strings Attached", the high flying "The Greatest Show on Turf" St. Louis Rams, and; a time when the only thing that crashed was your new copy of Windows Me.

One day we'll look back at this and laugh...OR CRY!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

You know you doodle a couple of bears at a cocktail party talking about the stock market...

Well with the ongoing financial crisis now spreading throughout many of the global markets, a crippling, long term global recession may be the final climax of the eight year disaster movie known as the Bush administration (ironically enough, one of the few countries that appear to be apparently immune this: Iraq). Frankly, I don't even know why both major party candidates are working so hard to get elected. With all these things going south it's sort of like going out of your way to the next Oakland Raiders coach.

While it'll definitely be a while down the line before we see how bad things really get or how much they'll improve, or whether all those government billions really did anything, for me things are looking pretty grim. The single greatest signal for me that the soup lines and shanty are closer than we think? Jim Cramer is no longer mad.

Imagine how much trouble the markets must be in where Jim freakin' Cramer, the raging bull, a guy who's whole job is to provide advice on investing in the stock market is telling everybody to completely throw in the towel, give up on buying and holding stocks, and literally take all their money out of the stock market! He looks like he's just a step away from breaking down and sobbing in the tender arms of Anne Curry. I'm not sure what sound the button on his little soundboard makes for "liquidate your portfolio". By the end of the day it was apparent that the market reacted expectedly to this hot little stock tip.

It looks like they'll have to change the show from Mad Money to Sad Money (and yes about 90% of the reason for making this entry was to write that).

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Annoyance is Blind

We here at "Victor Sells Out" pride ourselves at our record of unflinchingly addressing provocative contemporary issues and boldly questioning social mores. Whether it's confronting issues of taboo sex, race relations, the state of modern media, or Ziggy; I'd like to think that a big reason people regularly visit this blog, in some cases possibly use it as their primary source for all daily news and set it as their homepage, is due to our special brand of unrestricted candor (and according to the tracking data to mostly read about cheeseburgers).

So it is in that grand tradition of fearless, resolute, social commentary that I'm going to ahead and say it: I hate that blind guy. I know it's in bad form to be criticizing the handicapped, especially someone whose Daredevil like auditory abilities appears to be so inspirationally handi-capable, but what can I say? Every time I've seen this commercial this year, I come out of it with one advertised message: the blind guy is a total douche bag.

Imagine being the two guys sitting by the window or the next table over or standing near them by the bar. You're just waiting around for your order or enjoying your meal when out of nowhere this jerk starts rattling off motorcycle specs based on the noise totally unsolicited. All the while he's smiling in smug satisfaction as if everyone in the bar is staring at him, amazed at this other worldly ability. It's interesting to note that aside from the two Miller Lite drinking rubes by the window, nobody else seems to care or notice. Keep an eye on his buddy sitting across from him, it's obvious from his look of frigid indifference that he's been through this charade before. You know that just off screen he's rolling his eyes in exasperation, quietly muttering "here we go again with the motorcycles..." I can imagine this is the type of annoyance Foggy Nelson has to experience every time he goes out with Matt Murdock.

I'm also bothered by the fact that there's really no verification or accountability for his motorcycle predictions. He could just be spouting out random years, models, modifications that don't exist (um..double overhead shaft Johnson rod). We're all just suppose to assume all that stuff he's spewing out is totally accurate. I do concede that he accurately predicted the beer, although selecting a mainstream brand like Miller Lite really ups one's probability. Also, what's with the extra "perfect combination of refreshment and taste" commentary all of a sudden? You were all facts with the motorcycles. I suspect that the blind guy is working off the incorrect assumption that the two people that he's directing his commentary two are women and that his little routine is totally impressing them.

After that paramount display of self satisfied douchebaggery, what really seals the deal for me is that smirking "next" he drops on every one. At this point I always think he's just going to take off his shades and flaunt that he's not blind. It's the only logical transition for his terrible, terrible character to become even worse. In the end it just leaves me annoyed and displeased that I had to spend even 30 seconds in this ass's world, which I then associate with a tall refreshing glass of Miller Lite.

To put things in perspective. I'd rather have the ethnic comedy stylings of Carlos Mencia shilling me beer.