Miley Cyrus has drawn a considerable amount of media attention for her salacious performance at the MTV Video Music Awards over the weekend. However, this is not the first time that the VMAs have drawn controversy, nor will it likely be the last.
Using a very complicated series of graphs and linear programming charts, I have created a 21 year projection for the ongoing history of controversial moments at the VMAs. Please keep referring back to this list every year to see how accurate I was.
2014 – Huge shock waves go out on the twitterverse when One Direction announces their break-up, citing creative differences. Naill Horan exits the stage giving what many in the audience interpret to be the seig heil arm gesture, though he denies it. Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke’s performance of their new single, ‘Rohypnol Rumble’, is edited from the show for time.
2015 – The twitterverse explodes when Justin Bieber announces his plans to portray Heath Ledger in the upcoming bio-pic of the late actor. Katy Perry wears a dress made entirely out of olinguito fur. This broadcast is also the last known public sighting of Pharrell Williams, whom is never seen or heard from again. Ben Affleck as Batman hosts.
2016 – In a comeback performance that few saw coming, Sarah McLachlan very visibly masturbates on stage for four straight minutes while performing her 1995 hit ‘I Will Remember You’. As a result, Twitter suffers an irreparable sever overload. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sues McLachlan for the necessary repairs to the twitterverse. Nicki Minaj wears a very strange hat.
2017 – Brazilian-born and Seattle-raised internet pop sensation Yoalin Karr sweeps the awards with his hit single ‘Done 4 U’, despite the distinction of never having released the single on a major label. A bidding war erupts to secure the rights to release his first album. Host Justin Timberlake is very visibly gaining weight. A Pepsi ad depicting an implied scene of incest draws controversy.
2018 – The Nu Metal Revival medley sees the surviving members of Limp Bizkit join members of Twerk-Metal band Caawk in a performance that ends in the accidental death of Caawk’s bass player, Naill Horan. Yoalin Karr’s performance is criticized for allegedly depicting a re-enactment the 9/11 attacks, of which Karr claims he’d never heard of before. Only 3 awards are given out all night.
2019 – The lowest rated VMAs in history, mostly due to the show being preempted for the debut of the new MTV reality series “Fuck, Marry, Kill”, in which a contestant is forced to actually fuck, marry, or kill three celebrities. (Jennifer Lawrence, Chloe Grace Mortez, and Willow Smith, respectively). One notable performance is the duet between Kid Rock and a hologram of Joe C.
2020 – One Direction reunites, replacing Naill Horan with the newly sober and born again christian Miley Cyrus. Host Tyler the Creator causes a stir when he steals all of the Moonman awards and starts to throw them at people in the audience, injuring several. Jay-Z is given the lifetime achievement award, but forgot to set his alarm from PM to AM, and is not there in time to accept.
2021 – Yoalin Karr proposes live on television to his girlfriend, Frances Bean Cobain. Chris Brown descends from the rafters of Radio City Music Hall, pouring what many first believed to be pig’s blood on the first four rows of audience members. It is later revealed to be blood from several people still on the missing person’s registry. A lengthy investigation follows. Hologram Joe C hosts.
2022 – After being snubbed by the awards the year previous, Kanye West decides to put on his own awards show across the street from Radio City Music Hall, inviting only friends and family to attend. U2 does a performance live via satellite from their privately owned space station. Malasian-American singer Tenai does her entire performance suspended in the air by metal hooks digging into her back, symbolizing something.
2023 – Lady Gaga accepts her lifetime achievement award in a very classy and conservative white evening dress. Her acceptance speech is simply “Alright, monsters. It’s time.”, before walking off stage. A single gunshot is heard. Later, 272,802 more suicides are reported by devout Gaga fans across the world. Bruno Mars is shown picking his nose in a cut-away, which quickly becomes an internet meme.
2024 – A tribute to the late 2 Chainz is sullied by a drunk and belligerent Justin Bieber and Robin Thicke, who storm the stage wearing ‘Bieber/Thicke 2024′ election t-shirts. Two unknown women are seen doing meth and making out with each other in the audience pit. They will later sign to a four record deal with Interscope records. This marks the first year that no awards are given out whatsoever.
2025 – A man wearing a Kendrick Lamar mask runs naked across the stage during Jaden and Will Smith’s unsettling medley of love songs to each other. People are stunned, but less-so once it is revealed that he was only one of dozens of naked Kendrick Lamar backup dancers, late to the show, who will be seen later during Lamar’s performance in the show. Tenai announces her new album will be released exclusively on Mini Disc. Two Girls Doing Meth and Making Out host.
2026 – Mumford and Sons perform a 47 minute jam set before security is forced to intervene and remove them from the building. Yoalin Karr announces plans to start his own religion. Most of the live acts are visibly masturbating themselves or others during each performance. Meanwhile, the 5th year of The Kanye Awards draws record ratings with the surprise reunion of the Talking Heads.
2027 – A protest is staged outside of Radio City Music Hall to prevent the performance of pop sensation Tristan Turner, with many feeling that his hit ‘There Without You (I Can’t Get No Fuck)’ bears too close of a resemblance to the 3 Doors Down song ‘Here Without You’, the latter of which has since become the national anthem of Cambodia. Turner is 4 years old. Nicki Minaj wears a very strange hat, made out of the corpse of Katy Perry.
2028 – No awards due to rain.
2029 – No awards due to floods.
2030 – No awards due to locust.
2031 – No awards due to Daft Punk’s control over the west coast power grid.
2032 – The VMAs return, with survivors of The Great Darkness exhibiting their talents for those fortunate enough to still have a working television. Acts deemed ‘pleasing’ by the barbaric iron fists of Daft Punk are permitted to survive another year. The winner this year is Frances Bean Cobain for murdering her husband, Pope Yoalin Karr the First, live on the air. Hologram Joe C hosts.
2033 – A rag-tag band of disheveled pop stars set aside their differences and unite to crush the tyrannical regime that has constricted them into a life of violent pseudo-sexual torture. Together, a one-legged Rihanna, Marshall ‘Mohammed’ Mathers, Frances Bean Cobain, two of the four surviving members of Muse, and Drake’s brain hooked up to the body of a 15-foot cyborg, rise up to defeat Daft Punk and free their imprisoned contemporaries. It comes in second in the ratings to the season finale of ‘Rick Clarion: Retard Cop’ on AMC, starring Michael Cera.
2034 – The 50th anniversary of the awards features a lengthy montage of past VMA moments that helped shape popular culture over the years. From the infamous kiss between Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley, to the public gaffes by Fiona Apple and Kanye West, not a single controversial or memorable moment in the five decade long history of the awards is over looked. The outfits, the gimmicks, the spectacles and the scandal. Performances that marked the arrival of new musical icons, and solidified the pedigree of those who came before. The montage artfully and without omission presents the long history of the MTV Video Music Awards for what it truly has been, and for what it has come to mean. For decades, it has been the annual event for the most visual generation of young people in history to see their idols at the peak of their pageantry. To see them expose as much as they can to as many as they can. Be it for reasons of misguided vanity, or in a pure desire to express themselves as true artists, it has become and endures as the widest forum for popular musicians to be seen and talked about by their public, and to hopefully never be forgotten. The montage is followed by a Pepsi commercial featuring two computer animated owls screaming racial slurs and farting on each other, which quickly becomes an internet meme.
“And then there’s this guy named Bob Log, you ever heard of him? He’s this little kid — nobody even knows how old he is — wears a motorcycle helmet and he has a microphone inside of it and he puts the glass over the front so you can’t see his face, and plays slide guitar. It’s just the loudest strangest stuff you’ve ever heard. You don’t understand one word he’s saying. I like people who glue macaroni on to a piece of cardboard and paint it gold. That’s what I aspire to basically.” – Tom Waits
I’ve been moderately obsessed with Bob Log III ever since I found myself at a show of his several years ago. I had seen some live footage and maybe heard a song or two, but is was not until I felt the full brunt of his live show did I become a full fledged devotee of the man. His sound is raw, primal, and ugly as all hell. Yet he wields the undeniable power to make the whole world dance.
I didn’t know if you’re looking for a new hero, but I sure as hell found you one.
Hailing from Tucson, Arizona, Bob was once the singing and slinging half of Doo Rag, a duo that paired him with friend and junk band troubadour Thermos Malling. The frantic guitar and distorted vocals of Log, coupled with the smashing and crashing of the improvised percussion section made Doo Rag a beloved sideshow attraction in their heyday, opening for the likes of Beck, The Cramps, and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. A fallout with Thermos mid-way into a tour opening for Ween forced Bob to adapt quickly to the sudden loss of fifty percent of his band, and like all great decisions born of desperation, it would be this sudden emergence as a one man band that would eventually lead Log to truly finding his voice. Luckily for the rest of us, that voice speaks through a crash helmet with a phone glued to it.
Since then, as a one man band Log has released four albums, toured the world relentlessly, and left a long trail of dropped jaws in his wake. Adding to the fury of his playing are his beloved and infamous ‘audience participation exercises’, such as inviting two women to sit on his knees while he plays, climb into a single person dingy and raft the crowd, and, most notoriously, presenting a scotch on the rocks to the crowd and politely requesting the crowd to dip their boobs in his drink. The drink, and the act, have been immortalized by what many have called his magnum opus, “Boob Scotch”.
I got the chance to sit down with Bob, (sans-helmet), to talk about his love of performing, his artful dodging of Interpol, and the skills one needs to acquire to gracefully play guitar while dodging low hanging ceiling fans.
(FULL DISCLOSURE! This interview is a few years old, transcribed from an audio interview I did with Bob before a show in Toronto in 2011. I had just purchased my recorder, and barely knew how to operate it. The audio from that session is pretty much unlistenable. However, most of what was said still applies today. He’s still amazing, he’s still on tour, Winnipeg is still confusing, etcetera, and so forth…)
J.D. RENAUD – I guess this is kind of foreign, holding your own microphone.
BOB LOG III – Yeah, I never hold microphones. I’ll do my best.
J.D. – There is a record store in Toronto, Rotate This, that has a super old Doo Rag poster on their wall. I asked the guy at the counter if it was for sale, and he just shot me this stone cold look. He told me “This store could burn to the ground and I could lose everything, but the only thing I’d be really pissed about losing is that poster”.
BOB LOG III – Aw, man! I need to go say hi to that guy! I was just remembering the first time I went to Toronto. It was when Doo Rag was opening for Beck on the Loser tour. I can’t remember the name of the venue. It was big. It might not be there anymore. There was a bunch of kids there, a lot of 14 year old girls, and they were all passing out while we were playing and being handed over the guardrails. Little girls passing out. That was my entrance into Toronto. Beck also let us crash in his hotel room, which was really nice of him.
J.D. – The guy at Rotate This told me that he saw you guys completely blind, and was blown away. He now has a personal attachment to that poster, that night, and in a weird way to you. I had a similar experience the first time I saw you a few years ago. Do you ever perform with that thought in the back of your head, that someone might be in the crowd who has no idea what you are about? Do you want to leave an impression on people who don’t know what they are in for?
BOB LOG III – I wouldn’t say I think like that. In a way I do. I just try my hardest every fuckin’ night. It’s definitely music, but it’s also a sport. It’s this game I’ve invented, and every night I can win. I’ve always got to try hard. I don’t think “Oh, there might be people here who don’t know me, I’ve got to impress them”, I think “I’m going to play songs I love as good as I can, and as hard as I can, until it hurts”. That’s every night. There could be five people there, or five thousand people there, does not matter.
J.D. – Tell me about the “rafting incident”.
BOB LOG III – I don’t know when it started, maybe 2004 or 2005, but I started riding in a boat on top of people. It’s all because of Belingham Washington. This club was closing, and I was like “I’ve got to do something for them”, because they were flying me in from Australia for the show to close their club. It went from a $200 plane ticket to a $2000 plane ticket, so I was like “I’ve got to do something really cool for these people. I know! I’ll get on a boat on top of ‘em!”
J.D. – The decision was that sudden?
BOB LOG III – Pretty much. I was driving to the show, it was like a two hour drive from Seattle to Belingham. I’m thinking the whole way, and about an hour and a half into it I’m like (tire screech) “BOAT SHOP!”. I also then had to get a wireless unit for my guitar, because I figured if I’m gonna be in the boat, I better be playing, too. So I got those, did it, and the crowd went ape-shit. That’s when it started. I didn’t do it all the time, but I did it a lot. I did it probably six hundred times over about three years. Every time I did it, I always thought “God dammit, one of these day I’m going to get really hurt”, because really, I’m trusting a room full of drunk people not to drop me on my head. The only thing that kept my up for so long was that I’m kind of like precious cargo to them. They usually try really hard. But then, in Sydney, I’m not sure exactly what happened, but I have a theory. I think I got sent out over a bunch of girls who were trying to protect their hair. That’s not a dis on girls, I just genuinely think that’s what happened. I fell into a hole in the ocean and landed on my neck. I’m wireless, so everyone heard me go “THUNK! UGGH!”. Then I felt all this wetness around me, and all this broken glass, I was like “Oh no, I’m cut, I’m bleeding!”, but then I looked at it and it was just beer. So I got up and kept playing. I mean, it hurt, but it wasn’t that bad. Then about a week later, I’m driving through Italy, and suddenly each day I can’t move my arm less and less. One day I can’t lift it up past my shoulder, the next day I can’t life it up past my elbow. When I almost passed out while I was driving just because I tried to turn my head I thought “Yeah, this can’t be good”. I had to cancel three weeks of that tour. I told my doctor what happened, and, well, doctors don’t necessarily agree with what I do sometimes. They’re always trying to get me to stop bouncing girls on my knees. This doctor though, he said something that really stuck with me. He said “Do you want to ride in a boat, or do you want to play guitar?”. To be honest, I did think it over for like three days. “Do you want ride in a dingy, or do you want to play guitar?”. In the end I choose the guitar, because that’s what I do, dammit. I’ll be honest though, there is a boat in my car right now. It’s always there. I did boat the crowd for a few stops on this tour. I boated Belingham again, because I knew they wouldn’t drop me. Though they did seem to be trying to. Bastards. Rough waters in Belingham lately. If it’s ever a packed room, I might boat the crowd again, but I don’t do it as often as I used to anymore.
J.D. – Do you always keep it inflated and off to the side, just in case?
BOB LOG III – No, I’ll decide ahead of time. If a room is packed to the gills I’ll consider it. Low ceilings don’t work so well. I was shoved into a ceiling fan in Phoenix. I had to play guitar with one hand, and stop the ceiling fan with my other hand, and I remember thinking “Huh, I’ve never done this before. (haha) This is new.”
J.D. – Not to kiss your ass, but you are an incredibly proficient player. You do tend to steer away from what could be refereed to as “dicking around” on the guitar, though. No 16 minute solos, no noodling for the sake of noodling, none of the classic tropes of players with a lot of skill. You’ve stuck with bulletproof song structure, you get through a lot of songs in a set, and you do a ton of work on stage. Did you make the decision early on to keep that style and song structure and just stick with it?
BOB LOG III – Not necessarily. I’ve always loved guys like Johnny Cash and Chuck Berry, and pretty much every song they released was two minutes and thirty seconds long. Or shorter, for that matter. It just seems to be my natural… um… song writing… time… I guess (haha). I don’t know, I don’t really think about it. If you do think about it though, a lot of people in bands will do a solo here, or a solo there, whereas my whole show is a solo. When people say “Bob Log, you never solo!”, I say “Fuck you, I just solo’d that whole fucking show!”. I don’t really play melodic, I play rhythmic. And I don’t mean that I play rhythm guitar, I mean I beat the guitar like a drum. There’s notes in there, but I’m playing it with a beat. Really, if I was being honest, I’d say I only know how to do, like, four things. When I first started, I had a friend who started at around the same time as me, and he could play anything. He could hear a song, and just be able to play it, all the way through, no problem. I could never do that. I would hear a song, learn it wrong, and then it sort of became my own thing. I could never replicate anything I heard. Then I started the finger picking and thwacking thing, and I got really good at that, but there are still a whole bunch of things on the guitar that I don’t know how to do. That’s mainly why you don’t see me doing stuff like that, because I can’t. I admire people who pick something, stick with it, and get really good at it. If you look at guys like Bo Diddley, or Chuck Berry, or even Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, they really only do one thing, but they are amazing at it. James Brown is another great example. James Brown and Motorhead don’t make reggae albums. That’s the same for everything, though. If someone is really great at pole vaulting, you don’t really want to see them bowl. I am a pole vaulter. Don’t expect me to play tennis.
J.D. – What is your recording process like now? Now that you can get a pretty great sound out of a pretty modest home studio, do you still aim for lo-fi sounds purposefully?
BOB LOG III – I never start making a record and think “I really want to make this sound like shit”. I grew up recording with 4 track cassettes. All of Doo Rag was recorded with 4 track cassettes. There has always been some 4 track stuff that has wound up on all my albums. Most of the time you can’t tell between the stuff that was recorded in studio or on 4 track with me, anyway. I try to record as well as I can with the stuff I’ve got. I’ve got a reel-to-reel 8 track recorder, too. It’s pretty much just a giant 4 track. Both of those things are kind of on their last legs, though. I am going to have to come up with some new kind of home recording system soon. If I can stick with tape, I will. I usually record my stuff at home, then I bring it to a studio, put it into their stuff and mix it from there. I like recording at home and taking my time. I don’t like going into a studio and being like “We’ve got three hours, guys! Let’s get the take!”. I’m never like that. I take my time, I’m never in a hurry, I never have a deadline. I do it when I love it, and it’s done when I love it even more than that.
J.D. – I can hear that in your albums. It’s clear you’ve never released something you’re not totally happy with.
BOB LOG III – Thank you! I hope that shows! I think every band has that problem, though. Every band I like, they all have that one album. That one album when you listen to it, it’s like “Oh, this was the album they had to have done by July”. I never wanted to be in that position. Even when I was 12 years old, I knew I’d never write a song because I felt I “had” to. These are my records, I’ve got to listen to them for the rest of my life. I’m not putting anything out unless I fuckin’ love it. Plus, nowadays, if people are just going to download them for free, I don’t see a need to crank out tons of material just for the sake of it.
J.D. – What is the appeal of Australia? You’ve made that your home away from home it seems.
BOB LOG III – It’s cool, man. America, Canada, Australia, we’re all the people who left or got chased out of England for whatever reason, so there are a lot of similarities. There’s a lot of differences, too. They know nothing of the letter ‘R’. I love the people there, though. They are hilarious, they are fearless, and they don’t give a shit if they get crap on their jacket when they come to a show. There is very little pretension there.
J.D. – When I first heard your albums, I was genuinely curious what the lyrics to your songs were. They are not the easiest to interpret a lot of the time. Thankfully, I managed to grab one of your lyrics books that you sold on tour way back when.
BOB LOG III – Yeah, I’m all out of lyrics books, unfortunately. People don’t believe this, but I actually spend more time working on the lyrics than anything else. I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s true. People may not understand what I’m saying, but I know what I’m saying, and I am saying stuff. You can follow along with most of it, I think. Well, maybe not on the first record. I grew up listening to AC/DC and the Rolling Stones, and I still don’t know what the fuck some of the lyrics to those songs are, even to this day. I love my lyrics, I spend a lot of time on them. I’ve got to say them every day, so I take extra special care. That being said, it’s not the most important thing to me. Whenever I’m listening to music, any music, I’m listening to the guitar and the beat. The lyrics can be there, they have a place, but I don’t hear that first. It’s the guitar that’s really saying stuff. That’s how I write my songs. You should hear the guitar first before anything else. I’m not U2. It’s not about what I’m saying ‘about’ something. When I go play Japan, everyone understands me. Maybe not all the words I’m saying, but they understand the music. Not to bag on U2, but I’m sure there are people there who don’t know what the fuck they are saying, since they don’t understand the words. Whereas with me, it’s just BOOM-TAK-BOOM-TAK-TAK-BOOM-TAK-BOOM, and everybody speaks that. If I’m in Finland, they get it. Japan, North America, whatever. It’s truly an international language the way I do it.
J.D. – One lyric of yours that always stuck with me is “I’m a professional, God Dammit! I live in a car!” I like that sentiment a lot, and I think I do have an immense respect for professionals who live in their cars. People who picked a talent, stuck with it, and endure. I guess what I’m asking is what kind of car do you drive now?
BOB LOG III – Ha! Well, now I don’t, actually. That was written back when I was touring about nine months a year, and I would go through cars like shoes. I’ve never owned a car that lasted more than two or three tours. Last car I did have was an ’89 Lincoln Towncar with a sunroof, and I loved that car. I love touring in station wagons, I had a Mercury station wagon, a Ford, and a Volvo that I had to leave in the desert in New Mexico. The Mercury was left in Texas, there’s another in Portland somewhere. I’ve left cars all over the planet. Now I just rent cars. Not that exciting, but if the car breaks it’s way easier to get another one. I never want to miss shows, that’s my thing, and if you tour in your own car you’re bound to end up missing a show. Plus, you end up having to buy a new car.
J.D. – What are you listening to, what’s playing in the rental car now?
BOB LOG III – Lately it’s been a lot of old, old, old Andre Williams. Bacon Fat, Moselle, things like that. I got this whole compilation of Eddie Bo stuff, which is really cool. I go through phases with a lot of things. A couple months ago it was Solomon Burke. Really though, what I’m listening to the most of is Mr. Free and the Satellite Freakout. The new generation of freaks from Tuscon. I knew the drummer’s mom, and when I first moved to Tuscon she was pregnant with him. I met him again when he was 8 or something. Then I hear he’s got a band, and I’m like “Alright, I guess I’ll check them out”, but then I saw them and I was like “OH MY GOD! Hey, uh, do you guys want to tour with me?”. They already started up after I moved to Melbourne, but every time I come back I try to find out what’s going on there. There is a bunch of cool shit going on in Tuscon right now, actually. It’s amazing. I’m old enough to see a whole new generation of bands come along, and there is some great stuff happening there. Tuscon is a magnet for that shit though, because it’s boring. When you live in a boring town, you end up doing something, because you have more time to do it. And that’s better than money, that’s better than gold. If you’ve got time to do something you love, you hopefully get good at it.
J.D. – I’m living in Winnipeg right now, so I know the feeling. I’m hoping for that same thinking pans out for me, too.
BOB LOG III – Oh, Winnipeg. Some day I’m going to figure you out. I love it, I’m not saying I don’t love it, but I’m still trying to figure it out, is all.
J.D. – I don’t know either, it’s the geographical center of North America. Maybe that has something to do with it.
BOB LOG III – Yeah, but what are we doing there?
J.D. – I don’t know, good point.
BOB LOG III – “Hey man, we’re in the middle!” (shrug)
J.D. – Any hope for a re-release of the old Doo Rag stuff?
BOB LOG III – We keep talking about that, and I would like to make that happen. I love those records, man. I had so much fun with that band, it was illegal the shit we got to do. We were just two guys in a car, but all these bands loved us and would take us on tour with them, like Beck or The Cramps or Jon Spencer. It was not like we had people talking to people, we were literally just two guys in a car. They would just be like “Hey guys, wanna come with us?” and we’d be like “Fuck yeah!”, and off we’d go. It was so much fun. We got to go to Europe, Japan, all these places. We had no manager, no label, no nothing, it was just other people liking it and helping us. It was also us just saying yes to everything.
J.D. – There was a clip that came online not that long ago of you guys performing on some french talk show. That was insane, because it was the best quality footage I had seen of you guys. I’d heard the albums and seen some grainy footage, but nothing that up-close.
BOB LOG III – That was a pretty insane time. If you watch that footage again, look closely at my eyes (haha). Apparently Interpol was looking for us at that particular time, because one of the members of the band had smashed up a hotel room in Switzerland.
J.D. – “One”? You’re not going to say who?
BOB LOG III – I’m not going to blame anybody, but it was not me (haha). We had to leave very quickly at around six in the morning, drive all day, then play a show in Teluse that night. Then my booking agent called me and asked what happened in Switzerland the night before. I said I didn’t know what he was talking about, and he said that Interpol was looking for us, and that there was $10,000 in damage, and blah, blah, blah, good luck. Oh, and now you’re playing on French TV for seven million people in like four hours. So if you look, at the end of that song, you’ll see me get up and walk off stage, where I was expecting to get tackled as I got towards the curtain. That’s where my head was (haha). It was funny later, but scary as shit at the time.
J.D. – Frank Sinatra never left the house without a three-piece suit and cuff-links on. Are there any days when you don’t want to put on the jumper and just play in your normal cloths?
BOB LOG III – I want to stir up a room full of drunk people, till they’ve got no choice but to dance and smile. The suit helps. What sucks is when it’s still wet from yesterday. There was this one time, in Hamburg Germany, I’m in this dank, stinky basement. There’s water on the floor, I’ve got to take my shoes off, step in the water, put on this disgustingly wet, stinky suit, and then put on this wet helmet. Plus, now my socks are wet, too. I’m just quaking in the cold, and I just said out loud, to no one, “What the fuck am I doing?” (haha!) That was the first thing that came to mind when you asked that question. BUT, as soon as I play two notes, all that shit goes away. It’s all on after that. A lot of musicians, whether you’re in an orchestra, a symphony, or a band, when the music is really working, you get into this spot where you’re not in the now. Or you’re ONLY in the now. You’re in this tiny little moment where you’re only playing the song. There is no before, there’s no after. You get sucked into this little vortex. Every musician knows what I’m talking about, I think. If you’re in a band or a symphony it might take some time to get there, but as a one man band, you are there instantly. The whole night. There is nowhere else to go. You can’t sit back and relax and let someone else play for a bit while you think about other shit. No, you are instantly in the vortex. Other people get to go there, too. I think boxers get to go there. They can’t be thinking about their breakfast while they’re boxing. You have to really be thinking about the moment you’re in, and it’s a really special place to be. I get to do it about six months a year for an hour and a half each night. I have to say, I enjoy it.
For tour dates, videos, music downloads, and other wonderful Bob Log III related stuff, check out www.boblog111.com.
Before we go any further, please understand that I am fully aware of that. I’m not here to justify or apologize for any of the things I’ve liked in the past, nor am I here to validate or rationalize any of the things I like today. I’m certainly not a music scholar, nor am I claiming to be some pillar of musical integrity. I’m too far gone for redemption at this point, as my current iTunes playlist of k-pop ballads and songs ripped from old super nintendo games will clearly illustrate. I’m not here to tell you what is good or bad, or what you should or should not like.
That being said, let me explain to you why Big Shiny Tunes 2 is the greatest album released in the last 20 years.
The Big Shiny Tunes series is well known to all Canadians who had their formative rock and rolling years in the late 90s and early 2000s. Compiled and released by MuchMusic just before christmas time each year, it was the alternative rock companion to the popular MuchDance pop and R&B series. If you were a teenage boy (or an angry teenage girl), it was likely that you were going to get at a copy of the newest Big Shiny Tunes in your stocking that year, bought for you by that distant aunt who barely knew you but remembered you wore those baggy pants and had mentioned you liked that English singer fellow “Radio Ed” once or twice.
I was eleven years old in 1997. I had been collecting cassette tapes for a few years at that point, most of them bought based on a vague rudimentary criteria, namely if it was something I thought my older brother liked and would make me seem cooler by-proxy, or if Weird Al was somehow involved. That christmas, I would receive two very important gifts, my first compact disc boom box, and my very own copy of Big Shiny Tunes 2.
Ask anyone who is familiar with these albums, and they will agree with me that the second Big Shiny Tunes was by far the best the series ever produced. That’s not me being hyperbolic. That’s just a stone cold fact. The sun rises in the east, the moon orbits the earth, Scarface is overrated, and Big Shiny Tunes 2 was the best Big Shiny Tunes. Period. Case closed. Roll credits. Emmett Kelley, sweep up that spotlight.
The numbers don’t lie, either. It is still the fourth highest selling album in Canadian history. Considering we’re talking about a compilation album comprised mainly of artists who had yet to (or would never) achieve those numbers on their own, that’s pretty impressive. Sales and figures aside, it is still without question the best selection of songs the series ever compiled. There was nothing particularly wrong with the first Big Shiny Tunes, but some of the choices were glaringly odd, and did not endure the test of time as well as the sophomore effort in the series (Poe? I mean, really? Fucking Poe?) Succeeding volumes would try to recapture that magic, but would never quite make it over that high water mark.
Sales of the series begin steadily dipping with each successive release. It’s no mystery that the record industry took a major punch in the dick with the rise of downloading in those years, and that the need for compilations like Big Shiny Tunes would soon become irrelevant. Beyond that whole rigmarole, rock music itself got a lot less easy to compartmentalize in those years. The internet has made the various sub-genres of rock boisterous enough to support and promote themselves, and all flavors of rock are now easily accessible to the pasty-faced distortion-loving kids of today. Back in the day, genres of questionable similarity mashed together in those early volumes of Big Shiny Tunes, the logic being that it was all technically “alternative rock”, and that all the misfits just had to learn to play nice together. We had to just suck it up if we didn’t like the fact that Sugar Ray and The Prodigy were on the same album.
For a lot of us, it was all we had. There was no other grand public forum for a less than universally palatable rock bands at the time, making those albums likely the first time a young music fan would hear something like Marilyn Manson or The Chemical Brothers, outside of course for the basement of that weird kid at school who smelled like paint thinner and whose parents had that garage we were never allowed into.
That’s not the case anymore, it seems. There has not been a new volume of Big Shiny Tunes since 2009. Big Shiny Tunes 14 may end up being the last in the series, as most kids today view being given a mix CD of current radio friendly rock songs the same way I would have felt in 1997 being handed a wax cylinder with the Men In Black soundtrack on it.
So why was Big Shiny Tunes 2 the best, you ask? Is it because it was broad enough in appeal and varied enough in content to pretty much appease everyone’s musical tastes at the time? Did the MuchMusic scientists crack the code and pick the best seventeen songs that they knew would define that place and time for so many young people? Was it just the perfect time to release an album of borderline-badass rock songs aimed at stupid suburban kids?
Probably all of the above. Mostly the last one. I should know, I was one.
Saying Big Shiny Tunes 2 is a great album is not to claim any sort of musical superiority over my peers or elevate my rock critic snobbery. Just look at it…
1. Prodigy – Breathe (Edit) 2. Blur – Song 2 3. Third Eye Blind – Semi-Charmed Life 4. Smash Mouth – Walkin’ On The Sun 5. Sugar Ray – Fly (featuring Supercat) 6. Bran Van 3000 – Drinking in LA 7. Marilyn Manson – Beautiful People 8. Holly McNarland – Numb 9. Bush – Swallowed 10. Matchbox 20 – Push 11. Collective Soul – Precious Declaration (Remix) 12. The Tea Party – Temptation (Edit) (Tom Lord-Alge Mix) 13. The Chemical Brothers – Block Rockin’ Beats (Radio Edit) 14. Wide Mouth Mason – My Old Self 15. Radiohead – Paranoid Android 16. The Age Of Electric – Remote Control 17. Stone Temple Pilots – Lady Picture Show
Yeah, I’ll admit, some of those are pretty bad. Some of them are shit, quite frankly. Some got worse over time, and some endured the same level of shittiness without the benefit of ironic distance. I don’t need to say which ones, I think we all know which they are. It’s hard to defend them as enduring classics, but like it or not, a better selection could not have been made for that time and place. I’m not sure if I could adequately explain it to someone who was not there, but you need to appreciate how incredibly handy it was to have an album at that time to embody all the various forms of disillusionment that I and my peers were about to feel in the next decade.
All the stars aligned on this one. These songs endured over the years for me, and are often recalled in the same memory along with each other. If ‘Stuck In The Middle With You’ is to forever be thought of in connection to Reservoir Dogs, ‘Lady Picture Show’ will always be remembered as the last song I heard before the discs would change in the player. I can’t hear any song off this album without thinking of the other songs that came before and after them. Their connection to this album will forever be how I associate them.
I’m biased, I know. I’m sure anyone who did not have the exact same upbringing as me could easily poke a few holes into my theory about this being the greatest album of my generation. However, I refuse to think that my admiration for this album is just some sort of Andy Rooney-esque old man rant about how things were better when I was a kid.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I do think that. Of course I do. I was a kid, this shit was made for me. I hate today. Today fucking blows. I’m 26, bald, can’t pay my phone bill, and the hallway of my apartment building always smells like onions. In 1997, every day was just Ren and Stimpy re-runs and me sitting in front of that boom box lip syncing to Blur and Age of Electric. You tell me I’m wrong in thinking that’s awesome and I’ll call you a coward who is missing the point.
I can’t be objective about the quality of the music, no matter how much I force myself to think analytically about it. I can’t have hindsight about something that essential to my upbringing. The thought does often cross my mind, though. Do I still like the songs that were on this album, or do I still like these songs because they are on this album?
Remember, I was eleven when I first heard it. I had a lot of leg work ahead of me before I was ever going to figure out what I actually liked. I was still a summer away from even finding the Beastie Boys. I was intrigued but intimidated by heavy metal, thought most electronic music was boring, and did not have the attention span to sit though a whole album by any band I had only known from their singles. I would only ever get out of that head space through time, patience, and a whole lot of trail and error.
I can vividly remember being in my teens, sitting in a bus station, listening to my just purchased copy of The Cramps’ Bad Music For Bad People. I’ll never forget thinking that everything had irreversibly changed for me the moment the album ended. Nobody helped me find it. It was not ‘recommended’ to me based on some youtube or iTunes algorithm. I just went to the punk section of a record store and took a risk. I felt like I had won, like I had achieved a special prize in the field of cognitive exploration. I had to listen to a lot of shit before I found the stuff I actually liked, but eventually it started to pay off, and I was armed in that exploration with the knowledge and insight that albums like Big Shiny Tunes 2 had instilled in me.
I can only assume that eleven year olds are getting their music today the same way I currently am, by exploring the internet trying to find things similar to what they already like. I’m sure we all think of this as a superior method of being exposed to new music than grabbing the latest Big Shiny Tunes, but I can’t help but wonder if this method does more harm than good in the long run.
Do young people ever make mistakes buying music anymore? When was the last time you bought an album you were sure you were going to like, only to find out it was a piece of shit? I still buy albums, but only after I’ve previewed the tracks to death, ensuring I don’t waste my precious fifteen bucks on something I’ll end up hating. I certainly did not have that attitude growing up. I blew hundreds of dollars collecting albums that I would immediately regret buying after the first agonizing listen. Has anyone in this country under the age of sixteen even done this once?
The scour and rip method works great for me now, but I can’t imagine how I would have approached it if I didn’t have the first few years of my musical intake easily weaned on me by the corporate monoliths that tried for years to convince me that Treble Charger was a good band. Am I nostalgic for being spoon-fed my media by a room full of executives? People who assumed there was no way I could not love the songs they foisted upon me in a grungey looking black and yellow package?
Sure. Well, a little bit, anyway. It was a much simpler time in my life. They would never convince me to like Wide Mouth Mason, but I digress.
Big Shiny Tunes 2 helped immensely in getting me started down the path to figuring out what kinds of music I liked and didn’t like. It was a buffet of options I could pursue deeper on a track by track basis, over a long period of time, with my own chosen conviction. So many amazing albums had been released at that point that I would not discover for years, but I would eventually find using Big Shiny Tunes 2 as a musical canary in the coal mine. All I had was it as my starting point, and the desire to dig deeper and find more.
While in the process of digging, of course there were a few years where I arrogantly thought I had it all figured out. Maybe it was because my embarrassment in genuinely liking cheesy forms of entertainment reared itself as I got deeper into my teens, but for a while there, I hated Big Shiny Tunes 2. I dove head first into a punk rock and horror movie bubble of “FUCK YOU!” that no socially inclusive inclinations would dare penetrate. Eventually, like all young self-flagellating jackasses would (or should) eventually do, I started taking myself less seriously, broadened my horizons a bit, and remembered that at one point in my life I really liked Bran Van 3000. It’s hard to pretend you’re some sort of stoic, culturally learned badass when you know that is a salient truth about yourself.
That’s what I fear about today’s kids. Younger and younger, they are more certain of why they are fucked up, only because they have easier access to be obsessive about it. They are not forced to live their lives as ambiguously pissed off as I was.
I thought I was a lot of things I ended up not even coming close to being. I’ve worn every shade of black you can probably think of, all in a desperate attempt to figure out what I was actually mad at. A kid today can feel pissed off, type his or her symptoms into allmusic, search the ‘moods‘ section for something that suits their fancy, and be listening the perfect song that articulates their unique pain within moments. After that, the introspective search ends, and a new pre-teen Smiths fan is born.
Meanwhile, back in the dark ages of the late 90s, I actually had to go to the store and buy Dead Kennedys, Nick Drake, Portishead, and Carcass albums, trying to figure out what combination of dejected and lonely I actually was. I’d sit in my room with a stack of albums, trying to crack that code with limited success.
That search never ended for me, though. Nor do I think it ever really ends for someone passionate about music and what it means to them. Filling that void in yourself is the foundation of a long term appreciation of music, and whether I like to admit it or not, Big Shiny Tunes 2 was the album that forced me to explore why music made me feel the way it did.
It shaped me, because it gave me options. Its better if you are forced to try out a few forms of rebellion before you find out which one suits you. An eleven year old kid today could find every song The Clash ever made if he wanted to. Or Odd Future. Or Stevie Nicks. Whoever or whatever they choose to idolize is incidental, what matters is the volume of content they can access for any artist is easily deep enough to get lost in. Whatever avenue they decide on, for better or worse, will permanently alter how they view and interpret anything else they are exposed to.
They will never have to pick for scraps. They will never be thrown the proverbial bone with a compilation of songs that might be outside their wheelhouse. They won’t be shown that all countercultures exist because everyone is dealing with the same shit, just in different ways. They will have infinite access to all these countercultures, but never be exposed their contemporaries with due diligence. They can pigeonhole themselves as misunderstood twats faster than ever before. All kids are misunderstood twats, but they need to know there is kinship between them and all the other misunderstood twats out there. The Holly McNarlands and Radioheads and Third Eye Blinds of the world have a lot more in common with each other than you’d probably think.
Infinite choice gives you the opportunity to have standards, and therein lies the problem. Kids should not have standards. Standards and taste are things that should evolve with you over time. You can either choose to have them evolve or not, but you can’t enter the world of music and art with the assumption that you’ve seen the mountain top before you’ve actually climbed it. Kids should have options, and should be fortunate enough to have sheppards though the wasteland of shit that is most of what they will be first exposed to. Even with our newfangled technology, it should still be a challenge for them to figure that all out on their own.
The experience of finding new music has been greatly simplified, but finding music that shakes you out of your comfort zone and makes you question yourself is still as arduous as it always was. Those voices are important to find, and kids should be forced to dig for them.
It should be hard. They should make mistakes. They should spend money on albums they will regret, rather than just mindlessly downloading and deleting them. They should spend weeks, months, perhaps even years screwing it up before finding out they got it all wrong and having to start all over again. The tiniest glints of help in that search should be coming from a big brother’s record collection, a weird recommendation from a friend, or a cheap compilation album bought for them by a parent in a gas station.
The bar has been set pretty high, but one can only hope that gas station album is as formative in their education as Big Shiny Tunes 2 was for me.
When I moved to Winnipeg four years ago, I really did not know much about the city at all. I was a refugee in a bizarre land whose main claims to fame were the impressive number of murders per capita committed there, several poorly painted polar bear statues that appeared on random street corners, and an unhealthy sense of civic pride in the amount of slurpees and perogies they consumed.
People seemed genuinely confused when I told them that I had chosen to live there of my own volition. I have my reasons. I was charmed by the idea of a city with literally no ego whatsoever. To be fair, a grand chunk of that wanderlust also stemmed from the fact that my hometown of Oakville Ontario was and still is a place where dreams go to get warm beer thrown on them and curb stomped outside of a Pizza Pizza.
Upon landing in Winnipeg in March of 2008, I managed to get a full time job right away, and had very little time to go out and familiarize myself with the city. I did not see much in those first few months beyond the neighbourhood near my home, the vast industrial nothingness near my work, and the corner of Portage and Vaughan, which was where I would have to wait every day to transfer busses to get to and from work.
Also located on the corner of Portage and Vaughan is the Bay department store, an impressively large heritage building at the center of one of the busiest intersections in the city. It’s been there for decades, and being located in an area of the city with heavy foot traffic, they of course have large window displays facing into the streets.
Why am I bringing this up? Because there is something I witnessed in those windows that I need to share with you. Something that I have never been able to shake since moving here, and something that I fear I will never be able to erase from my memory. It was a far cry from the usual mannequin and discount sign set up that you’re likely to see there today.
When I first arrived here, they contained Screamscapes.
Screamscapes was an art instillation, comprised of several pieces donated by a local grade school. I unfortunately did not get the name of said school, nor the ages of the children contributing the pieces. It really does not matter, though. Knowing that information would certainly not give I or anyone else any comfort in this situation.
For you see, Screamscapes was a collection of plasticine renderings of children’s worst nightmares, created by the children themselves.
I would like to remind you, I moved to Winnipeg in March. In some parallel universe where this kind of thing is tolerated, you put these things in the window on Halloween, and you promptly bury them in the backyard and beg forgiveness from your Lord on November 1st. You don’t keep stuff like this in your window in the springtime, just when people are starting to feel good about themselves for the first time in months! To top it off, these mini windows to hell were on display for an OBSCENELY long time. They were finally removed in August of that year to make way for a back to school display. Keep in mind that I have no idea how long they were in the window before I moved here, and we can’t rule out the possibility that they could have been there for weeks, months, perhaps even years before I showed up.
I asked all my new Winnipeg friends if they had seen these things, and none of them said they had noticed them. It seemed that nobody I told even believed me that they were real.
So I got proof.
What you are about to see are some of the pictures I took of these pieces. I must warn you, if you still have faith in the purity of todays children, or if you still hold out some tiny bit of hope that future generations will rise above the many obstacles and hindrances of our hectic world, you are about to have those illusions thoroughly shattered. These tiny works of macabre art are scarier than a thousand Freddy Krugers, and will curve your spine and turn your soul as jet black as they have already turned mine.
Also, please do not forget, these were on PUBLIC DISPLAY in the window of a very well known and respected Canadian business, in the middle of a busy intersection, in a city that I had just moved to, and that I had to walk by every single day.
For six months.
God help us. Lets begin.
“The Boogeyman” by Alysia
“The Boogeyman” has always been a classic ambiguous character for children of all ages to attribute their various fears to. Every child has a different vision of this elusive figure, but for Alysia, he is your standard “man in black with a bloody knife in your doorway” type. I suspect that this is probably not the exact nightmare Alysia had involving said Boogeyman, but that this was the simplest way to show her general fear of someone she does not know busting into her room, invading her personal space, and just being a general creep. We’ve all been there, Alysia. Not a lot of specificity going on here, but relatable all the same. Still, if you ask me, I’d say she was asking for it by having “The Boogeyman” written on her sheets. Just sayin’.
“Death” by Paige
“Death”, the original Boogeyman, if you will, is a far more direct presence in this purple and brown opus by Paige. The first thing I noticed here is that Paige is seemingly not distressed in the slightest by the looming spectre of the damned standing at the edge of her bed. She is actually smiling in the face of “Death”, which, say what you will, takes serious balls. Who among us can claim to be that fearless in the face of our own impending mortality? Not me, that’s for damn sure. Every time I’ve almost been in a car accident, my mind immediately shifts to all the excuses I’m going to give to Jesus about how every time I’ve masturbated that it was in self defence. “Death” is something that we never really get over being afraid of, and I suspect that Paige is going to grow up to be just as neurotic and conflicted about it as the rest of us. This work shows us that she at least has somewhat come to terms with it, and is clearly maturing very fast for her age. She will likely to be the first girl in her class to read Animal Farm and get a tattoo of a word like “Sustain” or “Endure” on her wrist.
“Creepy Crawly Sleep” by Davina, and “Arachnophobia” by Cali
Spiders. A fear that still plagues a huge chunk of the people I know, and with good reason. They’re gross, they’re hairy, the way they move is just flat-out creepy, and we have yet to make a Pixar movie that shows how adorable they can be when humans are not looking. In these companion pieces, Davina and Cali both take on this classic phobia with two distinctly different flairs. Davina is evidently still a little shaken by what was likely a real event that happened in her life, and decided to manifest it plasticine form. To be frank, not a lot of imagination went into this one. I’m sure her friends and family are happy she made it, since I can imagine there was a good six months where she would not shut up about that time she woke up with “the hugest spider ever!” on her face. We get it, Davina. It was a daddy long legs, you were at the cottage, it didn’t bite you, your dad killed it, then he gave you some Oreos. Suck it up, buttercup. Your nightmare sucks.
Cali, on the other hand, has added a little bit more artistic license to her game. Sure, nobody likes spiders, but how about giant three-legged spiders that shoot lightening out of their backs and only get blood on one of their teeth when they eat you? Now THAT is a story worth repeating to people. “Arachnophobia” shows us how sometimes fears can get so overblown that they often don’t even resemble the core idea of what we were afraid of in the first place. Cali probably tells her friends she’s scared of spiders, but really, its evolved way beyond that at this point. In a more deeper sense, she’s scared of herself. She will probably over-medicate this neurosis well into her teens and twenties to quell those inner demons, feel guilty, get a career in either social work or psychiatry to karmically offset it, and end up solving the bullshit ‘problems’ of people like Davina who will likely still be boring the crap out of people with the story of the time she woke up with a spider on her face until the day she dies.
“Little Sunburn?” by Nick, and “Night Murder” by Sara
Sara definitely takes home the prize for best title with “Night Murder”, which I’m now pissed I didn’t use as the title of my failed pilot pitch to FX. While I’m not completely sure what is going on in this little two act play, I suspect that what we are dealing with here is the fear of dying in your sleep. I’ve never really understood that, since quite honestly, I sincerely hope that I die in my sleep, especially if I’m going to be “Night Murdered”. People who are worried about being murdered in their sleep have not really fully considered how much it would suck to be well rested and alert for it. Also, being murdered in the middle of the day is an infinitely worse proposition to me than being murdered at night. If the sun is still out while I’m getting murdered, trust me, that was not my idea.
On the topic of the sun, “Little Sunburn?” is certainly one of the more esoteric additions to the Screamscapes pantheon. I suspect that the question mark was added in by the person who printed up the little signs, since I can’t really make much sense out of what Nick has given us here, either. Near as I can tell, Nick is afraid that he is going to float out at sea on a raft, and wind up being horribly burnt by the sun. So horribly in fact, that while he’s out there, he will start to hallucinate that his scorched flesh has turned bone white, and that the sun has transformed into an angry hispanic vampire. I can’t say I was ever afraid of something like that happening to me before, but I sure as hell am now. Thanks a lot, Nick.
“Blades of Doom” by Dwayne, and “Into the Ground” by McKyvor
Responsibility is always a tough pill for kids to swallow. Your whole life you get to run around naked eating Golden Grahams, then one day, suddenly someone tells you that is not cool anymore. In school, one of the first ‘jobs’ you’re likely to get is that of junior crossing guard, which is a responsibility that I’m guessing McKyvor was saddled with at some point. It does not take a psychology degree to interpret what kind of issue McKyvor is dealing with here, that of course being the completely rational stress that he, a small child, has been given the daily “responsibility” of stopping hundreds of motorized metal killing machines from mowing down himself and his friends. Why do we think it is okay to slap a reflective vest on a pre-teen and assign them the task of saving the lives of their classmates from drunk drivers and texting businessmen? As a former junior crossing guard myself, I sympathize with him. He’s purely a victim of circumstance in this situation. If you ever had this job as a kid and you don’t STILL have nightmares about it, I envy you.
As for “Blades of Doom”, I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that Dwayne got confused by the assignment. Instead of making a nightmare picture, he’s clearly made a picture of the awesome dreams he has where he fights the creatures from Testament album covers.
“Out of Breath” by Saleha
Alright, let’s just suspend our disbelief for a minute here and pretend that Saleha did NOT get help from her parents with this. If we are to assume that, then “Out of Breath” is clearly the most elaborate and vivid of all the works in this series, by far. The attention to detail here is truly stunning. I don’t know why it was important for Saleha to depict the loss of her shoes, but even that seemingly innocuous detail makes this a remarkable work of art for someone of ANY age. I have not worked with plasticine in quite some time, but you could give me all the time in the world and I’m sure I would not be able to make something half this good. Kudos, Saleha. You have a great talent in making your nightmares come to life. Now, you must either take your new found artistic skill and translate it into a long and respected career in the arts, or you need to fess up and admit that you didn’t make this, and that your dad was one of the creators of Bump in the Night.
“Great White Monster” by Michael, and “Capsized” by Shandina
Ah, the sea. Bitter enemy of sailors and self-conscious fat people who don’t like taking their shirts off alike. “Great White Monster” gets right to the point, and is clearly presented to us by an artist who is not a big fan of ‘subtlety’. Does this one really need any further analysis by me? I’m pretty sure it speaks for itself. Michael does not want his legs bitten off by a whale. Got it. Who the hell does? Moving on.
“Capsized” is a far more interesting piece to me, anyway. At first glance, this is just a depiction of your standard, run of the mill phobia of being trapped on a sinking ship. Not really that imaginative in the grand pantheon of nightmarish situations. However, what really grabbed my attention is the white duck in the foreground. This dosile creature is oddly juxtaposed against the catastrophe behind going on mere feet behind him, and it’s an image that I’ve yet to be able to fully process. Shandina has given us an intimate peek into a deceptively simple scene, since it is clear as day to me that this duck is responsible for sinking that ship, and for the deaths of hundreds of innocent sea-faring men and women. Every other piece we have seen thus far depicts horrible things happening just to the artist, but here, I believe we are viewing this carnage from the perspective of Shandina standing on the shore, watching the horror unfold at the hands of this murderous waterfowl. It’s kind of like that song In the Air Tonight by Phil Collins, only if Phil Collins was a little girl, and if the guy she saw drowning that other guy was actually a duck (which, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying he wasn’t).
“Scary, Crazy Clowns” by Jacklyn, and “The Evil Flowns” by Ryan
How could we get this far down the rabbit hole of things that scare the crap out of children without touching on clowns? These malformed terror jockeys have been ruining the innocence of children for centuries, so it’s no surprise that they are featured prominently at the end of this collection. “Scary, Crazy Clowns” is, let’s be honest, pretty tame compared to some of the more modern interpretations of creepy clowns we’ve all grown accustom to. I suspect that what Jacklyn is trying to say with her work is something that we all know in our heart of hearts to be true, though. That is of course that NORMAL clowns are already scary and crazy. You don’t need to amplify something that in it’s basic inception is already balls-to-the-wall insane to make it any more sinister. Message received, Jacklyn. I’m totally on board with you.
It’s companion piece, “The Evil Flowns“, requires a bit of explanation. The title may at first seem like a typo, but I assure you that it is not. You unfortunately can’t see it based on the angle at which I took the photo, but it did indeed have the word “Flowns” written clearly in the bottom corner. Based on the picture, I have to assume that ”Flown” is short for “Phantom Clown”, or some other sort of bizarre ghost/clown hybrid. These “Evil Flowns” then steal children at night and stuff them into barrels, for reasons that the artist Ryann unfortunately did not feel like elaborating on. Too bad, since this is obviously something he has extensive knowledge of, and is something I genuinely wish to know more about. I get the feeling that this is only a tiny piece of a much bigger puzzle. He knew enough about his nightmare, and was certain enough about the correct names of these creatures, to know that he had to write the word “Flowns” on his piece to avoid any possible confusion. I wish I could empathize, since I’ve had scary creatures in my nightmares too, but none of them had any preferred nomenclature that I knew I would have to clarify to people.
Even if you’re not dealing with clowns that are cursed to terrify you from beynd the grave, normal clowns can be scary enough in their own right, which brings us to the final piece in our collection…
“Clown Massacre” by Winnie
OH GOD, NO! GET IT AWAY! BURN IT! BURN IT WITH FIRE! Sweet Baby Jesus, what is going on in the Winnie household!?! This kid is going to be fighting this demon well into adulthood, I’m sure. I just hope that she eventually gets the help and medication needed to slay it. Where the hell do you even start with this one? It has everything! Thunder and lightning? Check. Home invasion scenario? Check. Clowns? Check. Bloody chainsaw? Double check, because for those of you with a keen eye for detail, you all will notice that the most disturbing part of this whole scene is the small motion lines around the chainsaw. That’s right, not only is this a murderous clown brandishing a bloody chainsaw in your bedroom, it is a murderous clown brandishing a FUNCTIONAL bloody chainsaw in your bedroom! A fully feuled cordless power tool in perfect working order that is being opperated by someone who knows how to effectively use one, in this case for the purposes of “Clown Massacring”. This is not some dumbass clown who got a hold of a chainsaw and is just winging it, hoping for the best. This is a career criminal whose preferred weapon of choice is a goddamn chainsaw, and Winnie wanted to make sure that everyone who saw this piece was fully aware of that. She is a stronger person than I for even attempting to create this. If this was my nightmare, I’d have woken up crying with the shit-sweats, and devoted the rest of my tragically short life to drinking black coffee and screaming in terror at strangers.
Without question, ”Clown Massacre” is the crown jewel of the Screamscapes series. In the whole spectrum of artists we’ve seen, Winnie is clearly the… uh… “winner”? I guess? Well, whatever. Congratulations, little lady. Please, do not kill yourself. Promise me though, if you do, you will only do it if you know that the only way to keep him from crossing over into our world is to travel to hell and fight him on his own turf. I trust you will make the right decision.
Well, that’s it. Thanks for making me feel less alone in having to wrestle with these images on my own for the past few years. You guys make sure to visit Winnipeg if you ever get the chance. The arts community here is truly exceptional, as you can plainly see.
Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to go curl up fully clothed in the fetal position in the shower for a while. You’re all welcome to join me, if you wish.
In my travels as an amature (re: unpaid) stand up comedian, I’ve performed in venues of varying degrees of crappiness over the years. From comedy clubs to coffee shops, to small theatres and strip clubs, I’ve seen a million faces and awkwardly described my genitals to them all.
Still, most of my regular performing happens at the same places I started in, open mics in bars and restaurants. I love these places. It’s where comics get to rub shoulders with the common folk and share the stage with karaoke singers, cover bands, singer-songwriters, poets, and other social rejects.
The reason I bring this up is because I want to talk about a pet peeve of mine. Something that I have personally struggled with in the past, and that I still see comedians having trouble with on a regular basis.
That of course is how to work with a garbage microphone…
Microphone technology has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years. Sadly, many of those leaps and bounds have yet to make their way to the PA systems of your average open mic comedy venue. Very often you might run into a mic or a mic cord that is not of the grandest quality, and that will cut out and/or give an odd buzzing feedback if held or moved in the wrong way.
For comedians, this can throw off your pacing and concentration, and will almost always ruin whatever joke you were in the middle of.
For audiences, it’s a pain in the ass to endure, and their entire outlook on the show suffers. Not only do they think less of the comedian on stage, but they quickly become disenchanted with the show as whole, now that they think they are in a low class venue with substandard equipment.
A PA system and microphone can break in a million different ways. The mic could blow out, the monitors could catch on fire, something vital might not be plugged in, the list goes on. However, most of the time the situation is never that dire. If the microphone you are using works fine 95% of the time, but only periodically cuts out, the reason is always the same…
The mic and the mic cord are not connecting properly.
That’s it. That’s the only reason. That will ALWAYS be the reason. There is no need to ever blame anyone or anything else, because THAT. IS. THE. ONLY. GOD. FREAKIN’. DAMN. REASON!
Most XLR mics look like this. I won’t bore you with the specific technical terms (mainly because I don’t know what they are), but on the cord you have “the pokey sticks” and “the cord part”, and on the mic itself you have “the clip thing” and “the holey bits”.
If everything connects like it’s supposed to, the pokey sticks go into the holey bits, and the clip thing makes a snapping noise when you put them together. The cord part should not feel too loose or unconnected from the plastic part that surrounds the pokey sticks. If you move the mic around and the sound coming out starts to crackle or fade out, it’s because one, or perhaps several of these components are not working properly.
Maybe one of the pokey sticks is bent? Maybe the clip thing is broken? Maybe the cord part got pulled out from where it connects to the pokey sticks? Whatever the problem is, if it keeps happening, but the mic still works most of the time, you’re only experiencing a minor connection issue. Whether the mic works or not is all dependant on what kind of tension is exerted where the mic and the cord meet.
So how do you fix it? The same way you fix all your problems in comedy… WRAP IT UP!
Simply take the cord, wrap it over your hand once, and hold the cord under your thumb. The cord can still dangle freely from under your thumb, but now you should have the whole “rapier” or “pirate sword” look going on with the mic. By doing this, you take stress off of the connection between the mic and the cord, and are now free to move around and joke it up without interruption.
Even the slightest of movements can cause a feebly connected mic to cut out, so if you ensure that the way you are holding the mic does not jostle the connection, your chances of disconnecting it are greatly minimized.
If you hold the mic like this, I guarantee, you will NEVER experience this problem again with a poorly connected mic.
Some comics get angry when they are in the possession of a bad microphone. They might take their aggression out on the host, the producer, and more often than not on the venue for providing crappy equipment. While it is true that the venue is responsible for providing a working PA, and that it is the duty of the host and producer to do sound checks before the show to make sure everything is on the up-and-up, at the end of the day, the comedian on stage is the one who has to deal with it.
Who is to blame for this phenomena? Jackasses that think they are special, that’s who. Every idiot at karaoke who hits the mic with his hand to try and get the audience to clap during his awful rendition of ‘Cum on Feel the Noize’. Every horrible cover band front man who spins the mic around because he thinks he’s Mick freakin’ Jagger. Every self flagellating stand up who drops the mic on the stage like Chris Rock after a lame joke about Arby’s.
It’s YOUR fault that this even has to be discussed, Mr. and Mrs. Wannabe Superstar. The aftermath of your ignorant abuse falls on us, the common grunt work open mic comic, who then has to figure out a way to use that mic after you’ve treated it like a beach ball someone threw into the crowd at an AC/DC concert.
Speaking of which, this goes out to those aforementioned ‘common grunt work open mic comics’, who this whole diatribe was really for to begin with.
My beautifully broken brethren, please, you must listen to me. It is absolutely vital that you take in this information, because truthfully, the onus falls on us to be aware of stuff like this.
Do you like doing stand up? Sure you do. Do you want to get work as a stand up? Of course, who doesn’t? Do you want this to be your job? Well, if you’re serious about it, you need to remember that the microphone is LITERALLY THE ONLY TOOL YOU WILL EVER USE AT THAT JOB!
That’s it! It’s the only thing! You can do it without a stool, you can do it without a mic stand, hell, you can even do it without proper lighting or a stage if you really had to! You NEED to know how to use and fix a shitty microphone! JESUS CHRIST, you don’t even need to know how to ACTUALLY F**KING fix it! You just need to wrap the thing under your GODDAMN hand, and hold it with your MOTHER-F**KING-C**TING-F**KING thumb! THAT’S… F**KING… IT!
Thank you for reading my intelligently worded, heavily researched manifesto.
Please send this to any comedian or public speaker you know that is still afraid of seventy year old technology.
Run DMC crushed me. The Pogues ruined me. Rebecca Black damn near killed me. I swore I would never do it again, but this time, I won’t be doing it alone.
This Halloween, I will once again subject myself to one song on repeat for 24 straight hours, and joining me will be friend, comedian, and fellow masochist Chantel Marostica.
What song will we be listening to? That’s where YOU come in…
To determine what song is selected for the marathon this time around, we are putting that in the hands of the public, using the time-honored DOLLARS FOR VOTES system. If you’ve had one song that you’ve always wanted to force two people to listen to for 24 straight hours (you sick, sick bastard, you), it will cost you ONE DOLLAR for ONE VOTE for your selection. ANY song is eligible, regardless of genre, length, relevancy to the holiday, or quality. You may vote AS MANY TIMES as you wish, with no upper limit. Bidding wars between opposing songs are encouraged, since all the money goes to a good cause in the end. Be creative.
And the winner is… $1756 – BOBBY ‘BORIS’ PICKETT – MONSTER MASH!
$256 – The Trashmen – Surfin’ Bird $125 – Fine Young Cannibals – She Drives Me Crazy $37 – LMFAO – Sexy and I Know It $21 – Flower of Scotland – Traditional $20 – Doop – Ridin’ $10 – The Misfits – Braineaters $10 – Richard Marx – Right Here Waiting $10 – Rick Springfeild – Jessie’s Girl $9 – O-Town – Liquid Dreams $7 – Cher – Believe $5 – The Wiggles – I’m a Little Teapot $5 – Rednex – Cotton Eye Joe $5 – Ray Peterson – Tell Laura I Love Her $3 – Aqua – Barbie Girl $1 – Lamb Chop’s Play Along – The Song That Never Ends $1 – Harold Faltermeyer – Axel F (Beverly Hills Cop Theme) $1 – Matt Maxwell – C’est l’Halloween
All money raised through the voting will go to SmileTrain.org , an organization that provides cleft palate surgeries for children in the third world.
The two of us will be stationed in the front patio of the Standard Taven from 12:00am October 31st to 12:00am November 1st, taking donations and spreading Halloween cheer all day long.
Donations can also be made via SmileTrain.org’s site here…
Listen, I don’t like you, and you don’t like me. That’s a given. As you probably already know, I’m a single straight white man with low income and a beard who blows irrationally large sums money on concert posters and batteries for things. Obviously I am not in the key demographic for your film.
I have not seen it. Nor do I have any immediate plans to. However, if you still want my money, I’m here to tell you that there IS still a way to convince me to see it.
The problem I’m having your film is that I can’t seem to understand the infliction the title is trying to convey. Infliction is everything, but you’re Hollywood folk, you knew that. You must also be aware that there are seven ways in which the title of the film can be interpreted, each of them unique unto themselves. They are…
“I Don’t Know How She Does It” – A third party is confused about a woman who is able to do a specific thing, while others seem to have no trouble discerning how it is done by her.
“I DON’T Know How She Does It” – An intense interrogation reveals that a third party is emphatic about their ignorance in matters pertaining to how this woman does a specific act or acts.
“I Don’t KNOW How She Does It” – A third party has an intense amount of faith in a woman’s ability to do things, and they have declared to hell with trying to rationalize it to others.
“I Don’t Know HOW She Does it” – While her methods are mysterious and foreign to them, a third party is still in awe of a woman’s talent in doing things.
“I Don’t Know How SHE Does It” – A man or group of men can’t fathom how this woman is seemingly able to do things men normally do, be they remarkable or inconsequential.
“I Don’t Know How She DOES It.” – Productivity-wise, a woman baffles a third party with her tenacious work ethic and elbow grease in her activities and/or achievements.
“I Don’t Know How She Does IT.” – A group of people are pondering how a woman is physically and/or mentally able to have sex with a seemingly inanimate object, animal, or genetically deformed creature.
Please tell me which of these seven options best describes your film. I will let you know right now, there is only one correct answer.
On April 22nd, Good Friday, I will be listening to the timeless pop ballad FRIDAY by Rebeca Black on repeat for 24 solid hours.
This will be taking place LIVE at The Standard Tavern at 61 Sherbrook Street from 12am to 12am on their patio. Come on down and observe me through protective glass while I listen to the song AND watch the video as it is projected on the wall adjacent to me. (NOTE: The Standard Tavern will be… closed to the public on Good Friday. Nobody will be admitted inside and no food or beverages will be served)
This marathon will be held to raise money for SMILE TRAIN, a wonderful charity that provides surgeries for children with cleft palates in the third world. Donations can be made via http://support.smiletrain.org/goto/blackfriday, by clicking the PayPal donate button at the bottom, or by coming down to The Standard Tavern on the 22nd and making a cash donation in person. Those who donate in person will recieve a one-of-a-kind drawing by me as a token of my appreciation.
You can follow my progression all day long on Twitter, Facebook, through the YouTube Channel ThePlaceholderShow, and here.
Oh yeah, theplaceholdershow.com is now a thing. Boom.