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Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Year of Us

It's New Year's Eve and it's time to celebrate with our biggest post of 2006, because we're wrapping up the year that was officially ours. The current issue of Time magazine says it all -- we've been named Time People of the Year for 2006! If 2006 was "The Year of Us," then really there's nowhere to go but up for 2007. Happy New Year!

Congratulations to Hands in the Air on being named
Time's Person of the Year

Do these pants make me look blurry?
Jason gets ready for his close-up for the cover of
Time magazine

A year after that U2 guy earns the honor, The Edge and the rest of his band
(along with the Hands in the Air gang) finally get to share the title of

Person of the Year. In your face, Bono!

2006 in Review, Part 2

There are mere moments left in 2006, at least here at Hands in the Air HQ, and I'm taking a break from getting drunk off my ass and singing the wrong words to Auld Lang Syne to post my year in review.

Best Comic Event:
Marvel's Civil War

It's the kind of thing nerds crave--who would win in a fight between Captain America and Iron Man? Now we're kind of getting a chance to answer that and many other hero vs. hero battles that were once the realm of "What if..." tales. This also proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Iron Man is a dick. I've been saying that for years, and it's nice to finally have some back-up.

Worst Comic Event:
Spider-Man: The Other

Spider-Man ate a vampire's head, died, came back to life after a spirit-quest and then confronted an enemy made out of a swarm of mystical spiders. As Stan Lee would say, 'Nuff Said.

Comic Movie that Raped my Childhood the Hardest:
Superman Returns

Brian Singer, in remaking the original Superman: The Movie, basically took the world's most iconic super hero and turned him into a deadbeat dad. Thanks. There's so much wrong with this movie that I don't know where to begin, but when I'm rooting for Lois and her love-child with Superman to drown in a watery grave, that's a bad sign. The sweet irony is that nerds all over, myself included, were panicked that Singer's departure from the X-Men franchise would spell certain doom, but Brett Ratner's X-Men: The Last Stand is in every way a better film (not great, but better), than Superman Returns.

Best Movie of the Year:

Trick category. No Star Wars films were released this year therefore cinema, as both art and entertainment, stagnated. Maybe there'll be something in 2007. I hear good things about Spider-Man 3.

Best Movie Ending No One Saw:
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Sure, the theatrical version just kind of stops after a long, meandering 2-and-a-half hours, but I've heard that in the super-secret ultimate collector's edition, Gore Verbinski will include the real ending. I hear Disney plans to release the finale, which also clocks in at 2-and-a-half hours or more, in theaters next year. I think it's called Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Since I paid for the first half of the movie already, will I have to pay for the rest? Time will tell.

Best New Magazine:
Girls & Corpses Magazine

Okay, it's probably not new this year, but c'mon. Do you like girls? I do. Do you like corpses? Who the hell doesn't? Put them together and it's like the peanut butter in your chocolate or the K-Y Jelly in your embalming fluid. HOT!

Best Prank of the Year:

Bring a copy of Girls & Corpses Magazine to work and leave it in the public bathroom. Make sure to paste on a fake label with your manager's address on it for extra punch. Stick some pages together with a few smears of glue for an added creep factor.

That's it for me and for 2006. I've got to get going because Jenni is pretending to be passed out at the Standard Hotel downtown in another desperate attempt to get groped by a stranger/star and Jason's too busy demonstrating his Jean-Claude Van Damme dance from Kickboxer for a bunch of drunk chicks to pick her up. See you next year!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

2006 in Review, Part 1

There's less than a week left in 2006, so it's time to take a look back at the past 360-odd days. Here are some of my random picks for the highlights and lowlights of '06:

Disturbing Trend of the Year:
Authors without Shame

  • Bestselling author James Frey admits to Oprah that he fabricated his memoir, A Million Little Pieces

  • How Harvard student Kaavya Viswanathan plagiarized a novel, lost a movie deal and got caught

  • Jason, Jenni, Steve and Chris begin writing this blog and launch a companion podcast
Even Father Time wastes half a checkbook making that stupid mistake.

Silliest New Words of the Year:

Best New Phrases of the Year:

Worst New Phrases of the Year:

  • "Lock the Cashbox/Stop the Catbox"
    This is from that dumb phone ad where two guys are singing the wrong lyrics to The Clash's "Rock the Casbah." Somehow they managed to download the song by name, but they still couldn't make the connection that the title lyric was being sung in the chorus. That's just lazy joke writing, Madison Avenue.

  • "Save the Cheerleader, Save the World"
    NBC's motto for Heroes didn't quite turn out to be the t-shirt/bumper sticker slogan it was hyped to be. No matter how many times the phrase was ominously whispered at the end of the show with eerie reverb effects, it still sounded superstupid rather than superheroic.

Annoying Trend of the Year:
Random people making awful Borat impressions
The real Borat is funny, but why do unfunny people insist on imitating him? Very niiice? No, not at all.

Baffling Movie Phenomenon of the Year:
High School Musical
I have no idea why a story about singing co-eds became one of the biggest TV movies and DVDs of the year

Movie Phenomenon of the Year That Wasn't:
Snakes on a Plane

The movie delivered everything it promised! What more do you want, America? Singing snakes in varsity jackets?

Best Song of the Year:
"Phantom Limb" - The Shins
The full album, Wincing the Night Away, doesn't come out until January 23, 2007, but the lead single is already my favorite song of this year

15 Favorite Albums of the Year:

  1. The Life Pursuit - Belle & Sebastian
  2. Hearts and Unicorns - Giant Drag
  3. Everything All the Time - Band of Horses
  4. The Crane Wife - The Decemberists
  5. Mr. Beast - Mogwai
  6. Cansei de Ser Sexy - CSS
  7. Carnavas - Silversun Pickups
  8. You in Reverse - Built to Spill
  9. The Electricity in Your House Wants to Sing - i am robot and proud
  10. Show Your Bones - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  11. Duper Sessions - Sondre Lerche and the Faces Down Quartet
  12. I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass - Yo La Tengo
  13. Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not - Arctic Monkeys
  14. The Audience's Listening - Cut Chemist
  15. The Eraser - Thom Yorke
Some Notable Deaths in 2006:
James Brown, Gerald Ford, Steve Irwin, Joseph Barbera, Coretta Scott King, Aaron Spelling, Don Knotts, Lou Rawls, Chris Penn, Robert Altman, Peter Boyle, Mickey Spillane, Desmond Dekker, Shelley Winters, Dennis Weaver, Peter Benchley, Darren McGavin, Jack Palance, Oleg Cassini, Buck Owens, Billy Preston, Wilson Pickett, Eddie the dog from TV's Frasier, Maureen Stapleton, H.R. Pufnstuf kid Jack Wild, Gerald Levert, Mike Douglas, Tamara Dobson (Cleopatra Jones), Syd Barrett, The Breakfast Club principal Paul Gleason, Ed Bradley, Chef on South Park, UPN, The WB

Britney Spears' To-Do List 2007:
Learn how to be a good mom
Learn how to pick a good husband
Learn how to wear panties in public


Monday, December 25, 2006

Baby Jesus and Santa Want You to Stop Taking a Dump All Over Poor Kids

I'm one of Santa's operatives, and lately I've been in charge of the Spanking Division (we help, ah, rehab people from the "Naughty" list by spanking away their, um, naughtiness). Not only does that put me on the permanent "Nice" list and guarantee that I can get into all the hot North Pole nightspots, it also means I'm privy to some serious Santa's inner circle shit. Now, Santa is drinking buddies with Baby Jesus--yes, Jesus can take many forms, but he thinks using the "Baby Jesus" form is most hilarious when he goes drinking--and around this time of year, Baby Jesus gets pissed. Not pissed drunk, the dude can change the alcohol in his blood into normal old, um, whatever is in your blood when alcohol isn't, but pissed pissed. He doesn't mind that people celebrate his birthday on the totally wrong day. I mean, he did, but he's had time to get over that. He also doesn't mind getting older, obviously, since he can change into Baby form at will.

No, what Baby Jesus gets major Old Testament-style wrath of God pissed about is Toys for Tots. And Santa is right there with him. They're so similar, it's totally spooky. Almost every year they get each other the same exact thing for Christmas. Last year it was a carton of smokes and a white undershirt--long story--think Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club and Schneider from One Day at a Time and you're 95% of the way there.

Yeah, that's right, Toys for Tots. And if you've ever looked inside the Toys for Tots drop-off boxes, particularly the ones at workplaces but really any one will do--you should know exactly why this issue crawls up Baby Jesus and Santa's collective ass and stays there.

SC and BJ are all for charity, mind you. And they love the Marines for the work they do with the Toys for Tots program. They don't have a problem with the whole concept of Toys for Tots. They have a problem with how it all ends up working out--that most of the toys that land in the Toys for Tots drop-off boxes suck a big candy cane-flavored dick.

Don't act all innocent, you know what I'm talking about. You can't be surprised that Baby Jesus and Santa Claus are super pissed at pretty much all of you "generous" souls who donate to Toys for Tots only to stick the toy equivalent of 5-year old cans of creamed corn and that Clamato you accidentally bought that one time you were drunk at the grocery store into the donation bins. (Oh, and they're not too happy about that food drive bullshit y'all pull, either, but this toy shit really gets them going.)

Since I work for Santa, it's up to me to do his dirty work and break it down here. When it comes to charities like Toys for Tots, it's not actually the fucking thought that counts. You have to loosen up your wallet (and maybe your cobwebbed-over, creaky-ass heart) put down a few dollars more on the toys. And while you're at it, get the hell out of the dollar store and the cheap toy bullshit aisle in Wal-Mart and buy some goddamn good toys to give to the poor kids. Your current donations are not cutting it, and at this rate, it's better you don't donate anything.

Do you know which toys, if any, your average poor kid can afford, and has easy access to? Um, fucking dollar store and the cheap aisle at Wal-Mart toys. What the hell kind of favor do you think you're doing the Marines and the poor kids (wait--Toys for Tots is for poor kids, right?), dropping off those ugly, misshapen, no-name, no-fun toys? Is that what you give the children in your life? Kind of doubt it. Would you be pissed if your whorish stepsister or Mother-in-law tried to give your kids toys like that and called it a Christmas gift? Yeah, motherfucker, you would be extremely pissed and you know it. You'd never forgive those bitches.

So. Santa and Baby Jesus say: buy decent toys to put in the Toys for Tots bin, or don't fucking bother, you cheap-ass bastards.

It's now Christmas, so surely those poor, poor kids have been handed their dollar-store treasures. Did they cry, I wonder? Stare blankly at the "gift," wondering if they should say something or just let it go? Did the shitty toys hit the trash immediately, or do the kids destroy the toys in an elaborate, vengeful ceremony, just to get some small bit of enjoyment out of 'em? That's what I would do. That's what Santa would do. That's what Baby Jesus did with that frankincense and myrrh bullshit.

Goddammit I thought I was done here but you know, I really don't understand this shit. Why do people bother donating horrible bullshit to charity? Like, this one time, in college, the office I worked in adopted a family and bought them gifts, and I got so pissed because first of all they refused to buy the kids in the family video games, reasoning that the kids didn't need video games as much as they needed clothes (um, missing the fucking point a little, don't you think?) and clucking over the audacity of the kids asking for such unnecessary items when, you know, they're poor and clearly don't deserve the same fun other kids get to have if, apparently, they have the wardrobe for it. And then, to add a further layer of insult, as we were buying the family groceries and stuff they sent me to get the toilet paper, so I pulled down the Charmin I prefer for my own ass, and they took it back and bought the cheapest one-ply paper they make, again reasoning that this family didn't need the luxury toilet paper people like me use. Like they really said that, oh, they don't need that kind of toilet paper, this is good enough, just like the kids in the family didn't need the video games, like they were giving me a life lesson or something and they were, but not the one they thought they were. I guess you can argue the toilet paper point, as fucked up as that is, since lots of people use less luxurious paper than I do, but again, missing the fucking point of Christmas gifts and wish lists if you're only giving the giftees what they need and things that are good enough and not what they want and wish for and things that will make them feel for a moment the happiness and comfort we lucky types get to feel every single motherfucking day. Goddammit, that's some fucked up shit, and every time I (and uh, Baby Jesus and Santa Claus) see a Toys for Tots bin with bad toys and bad toys only in it, we get reminded of how much people suck, and we shed a tear. On the inside. We don't want the people we work with to think we're baby pussyfaces, crying at shit all the time.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

R.I.P. Tower Records

Tower Records stores have officially closed their doors forever. Worldwide, there have been three mammoth chains of deep-catalog CD stores (Tower Records, HMV and the Virgin Megastore; "CD stores" that also have washing machine departments don't count), and Tower was always the dumpiest of the bunch. But that's probably what gave the store its rock-'n'-roll cred. And while HMV, Virgin and local chains like California's Amoeba Records or Seattle's Easy Street Records will fill the void for music fans, Tower Records and its awful ketchup-and-mustard logo will be sorely missed.
Tower Records
1960 - 2006Merry Christmas! I just bought your gift for $2,
but I'm keeping the $18.99 price tags on them so you think I care 90% more!

Since October, Tower has been clearing out its stock. First, the stores marked inventory down by 10%, then 20%, then 30%. In the past few days, all CD prices took a nosedive to 80% off until the final days when all CDs were $2 or less.

It's staggering how picked-over the store was in its final days on life support. Pretty much every CD or DVD you've remotely heard of was gone from the shelves. Sadly, I don't think I've ever bought as many CDs than I did during Tower's final months of close-out prices. I can't resist a bargain. Never before have I been so excited to buy CDs by bands I'm only mildly excited about.

This past Thursday, I visited the store on Sunset Boulevard (pictured above) in West Hollywood for cheapie Christmas gifts, and there was really nothing left over that was worth buying. Seriously, who knew Tower carried so many whale song CDs or Spanish-language DVDs? If you know any Mexican sailors, I've got a gift bag I can sell you.

Special contest! If you're the first commenter to identify all 5 CDs Jason is holding in the photo, you'll get mentioned in our sidebar. That's the best prize I can give you after buying too many unspectacular CDs for spectacular prices.

Monday, December 18, 2006

R.I.P. Joe Barbera

March 24, 1911 - December 18, 2006Shaggy, Tom & Jerry, Dynomutt and the Wacky Races' Slag Brothers

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Adventures in Christmas Shopping

There are only nine shopping days until Christmas, so of course, today marks the first day I decided to hit the malls to start buying gifts. Here are a few highlights from today's mall crawl...

  • No known mortals have ever purchased something for themselves at Brookstone.
    • Brookstone solely exists for people who don't know what the hell to buy someone. If you receive a gift from Brookstone (foot massager, nature sounds alarm clock, talking picture frame, etc.), then the giftgiver doesn't really know anything about you. Hell, everyone could use a manicure kit, right?

  • Pam the receptionist and Kevin the accountant from TV's "The Office" were shopping together.
    • I was at the Apple Store at Fashion Square mall in Sherman Oaks, California and so were The Office stars Jenna Fischer and Brian Baumgartner. I wonder what Jim would think... Awkward. They were in line in front of me and there was a big sign with a picture of The Office cast on a giant iTunes gift card... Double awkward.

  • I found $18 in the Target parking lot, and it wasn't even lying in a Salvation Army bucket
    • Like a Christmas miracle, there was a ten-spot, a fiver and three ones all folded up in the middle of the parking lot. I guess I could use it to buy some toy for a tot who's underprivileged, but philanthropy is going to be my new year's resolution for 2007. Merry Christmas to me!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

R.I.P. George Clooney's Pig

Since 1988, George Clooney has had a pet pig named Max, but his swine died this past week to go where the other white meat spends eternity. By that, I mean "hog heaven" and not languishing under the heat lamps at the end of the Hometown Buffet line. Max was 19 and George owned him for 18 of those years, meaning the pig had seen the actor go from smug bit player on The Facts of Life to smug Emmy-nominated ER heartthrob to smug-and-nippled Batman star to smug Oscar-nominated director. To paraphrase Charlotte's Web, that's some pig.

Max, George Clooney's Pig
1987 - 2006
In happier times, mentioning "George Clooney," "pork" and "19-year-old" in the same sentence would have the Good Night, and Good Luck star high-fivin' Matt Damon

Friday, December 08, 2006

R.I.P. X-Men Comic Artist Guy

It's past a week overdue, but here's a memorial to Dave Cockrum, the comic book artist who's probably best known for his work on the X-Men comics. Cockrum apparently died in his Superman pajamas, which seems pretty appropriate... Sorta like if Britney Spears were to die without panties.

Dave Cockrum

Comic Book Artist
November 12, 1943 - November 26, 2006

An Iron Fist comic book cover by Dave Cockrum featuring Storm, Nightcrawler and Colossus, who were among some of the X-Men he co-created

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Sweet Christmas!

The holiday season is upon us and thank God that it is. I love this time of year because I love Christmas, and I love Christmas because it's a holiday during which families are usually compelled to pretend like they like each other and gifts are exchanged. But it seems even these two basic tenents of Jesus' birthday are no longer sacred as a mother in Rock Hill, South Carolina just had the local police arrest her 12-year-old son for opening a Christmas present early.

The child apparently knew that his great-grandmother had bought him a Game Boy Advance and decided to just take the gift from beneath the tree and start playing with it. The boy's 27-year-old mother threatened to call the cops if the handheld system wasn't returned. The kid handed over the GBA, but mom called the Five-O on him anyway. The responding officers busted the kid for petty larceny and he was released back to his mother pending trial, where she's said she plans to hand him over to a State institution. Yeah, because if anything can straighten your kid out it's certainly not loving, attentive parenting but cold, cruel justice inside a State-run juvenile detention facility.

There are so many things wrong with this that I don't even know where to begin. First, great-grandma, get with the times. The GBA is on life support. Save some recycling money and get the kid a Nintendo DS so he's not the laughing stock of his friends. Maybe then he wouldn't punch police officers and otherwise act up. Second, mom's a shitty parent. Yeah, it sucks she got preggers at 15, but all that means is she was a shitty parent from a young age. If you need to call the authorities to wrangle your 12-year-old, you suck at this and maybe handing the kid over to the State isn't such a bad idea, but don't pretend like it's Junior's fault. It's all you, lady. And it is extra-bullshitery that when the kid handed the present over, you still called the cops. Christmas is supposed to be the time of the year when families come together, not when you decide to finally have that abortion 12 years too late.

Third, how the hell does the kid know what he's getting for Christmas? I'm just going to assume it's more bullshit parenting skills, because no one's showing me any reason to believe otherwise. When I was a kid, Christmas presents and their locations were guarded with the strictest secrecy. I'd have had an easier time getting the launch codes from the President than I would finding my gifts. But then, when I was a kid I had rules and boundaries that I was cool with because I love my mom and she loves me and I didn't want to disappoint her. Love and guilt are some strong motivators.

And isn't that what Christmas is really all about?

Photo by Jason