Bad Albums

I came across a web site where a fellow had come up with a list of “one hundred albums you should remove from your collection immediately.” I went through and figured out which ones I had and was offended by suggestions such as that almost all of the Beasties Boys albums were crap.

But then I had a closer look at those CDs and I realised that yeah, I probably should get rid of them. Most of them are ones haven’t listened to in ages, and there’s a few that I bought not because I liked the music but because someone else thought it was a cool album.

So here’s an annotated list of the CDs I should probably take down to Real Groovy to trade-in:

Nirvana – Nevermind
I bought this back in ’92 because it was the cool album to buy. I first listened to it on my Walkman, while lying in bed one night. It scared me a little bit, but I came to like it. Then Kurt died and before my eyes Nirvana became my generation’s The Doors, which meant Kurt was Jim-fucking-Morrison. I couldn’t stand listening to “Nevermind” anymore.

Oasis – What’s the Story, Morning Glory?
I will always love the bombastic wall of sound of the song “What’s the story?”, but the rest of the album has slipped away. I think I may have sold my copy of this.

Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique
This has “Shadrach”, which is choice and “Hey Ladies”, which is silly. But I can not remember any other tracks and I think this may have been sold that one time when I needed rent money in a hurry.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Do you know how much I loved the Chili Peppers when I was 17? I loved them so much that I didn’t do a Geography assignment because I went to the Chili Peppers’ concert the night before it was due. A couple of days ago I found myself singing “The Greeting Song” in my car. This album will always have a special place in my heart, but it’s been years since I’ve listened to it.

White Stripes – White Blood Cells
There are some really cool songs on this album, but there are also a few dud tracks. It probably would have made a really excellent EP. Back when I lived in Hammo I used to walk into town listening to this. I knew something was up when I’d tune out and stop listening to the album about halfway through, only to reconnect back at the last track.

Chemical Bothers – Dig Your Own Hole
This is so ’97. It takes me back, man. I really like the Beth Orton song (yeah, who doesn’t?) and the one with Noel Gallagher on it (yeah, who doesn’t?). The rest of it fades into a blur of sports replay soundtrack music.

Beastie Boys – Hello Nasty
This came out and everyone was like “new Beasties!!!”. So I bought it (I even got the special version with the fold out cardboard cover). There are a few cool songs, but the only one that really excites me is “Song for the man”. Their next album is going to be just like this.

Pulp Fiction – Original Soundtrack
For a brief period in the mid-90s, when “tarantino” was a verb, this is one of those albums that everybody owned. I remember dubbing the surf instro tracks onto a tape and taking care to not copy the annoying dialogue bites. That’s all it was good for, the surf instro and the Al Green.

Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
I knew this album was shit when it first came out so I didn’t buy it. But then I did that stupid thing I always end up doing – I bought it because a guy I liked also liked it. There were about two songs that I enjoyed at the time, but most of it seemed like lite teen girl pop, with a few teen boy rock angst songs thrown in.

Hole – Live Through This
I loved this album so much. I learned how to play all the songs on my guitar. I never really dug the cult of Courtney, but Hole as a band somehow did it for me. But I’ve totally grown out of it, probably for the same reason that I don’t listen to “Nevermind” anymore.

The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band
I should give this away because I’ve never listened to it since I bought it. It seemed like a good album to own, like musical karma. But no one likes record geeks.

Dinosaur Jr. – You’re Living All Over Me
There’s only good track on this album. Some people will tell you that it’s “Tarpit” but they are lying. It is actually “Raisans”. I love that song so much and I will never grow tired of it. I have, however, grown tired of the rest of the album. But it’s one that I don’t think I could ever get rid of because it’s just so iconic.

R.E.M. – Out of Time
The best thing that happened because of this album was that “Losing My Religion” was Brenda and Dylan’s song on “Beverly Hills 90210”. I liked “Low” but the rest of the album was like someone had got really stoned and tried to make a meaningful album but just got lost along the way.

Madonna – The Immaculate Collection
This album kind of marked the end of Madonna as a single-and-free party girl, and the beginning of her transformation into a mother and wannabe serious artiste. I had (still have, maybe?) her first four proper albums and listening to them in their entirety is more enjoyable than the mishmash pseudo nostalgia down the greatest hits path.

Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes
I like “Add it up”, “Kiss off” and “Gone daddy, gone”. The one track I can not tolerate at all is “Blister in the sun”. I can’t understand what that piece of shit song is so popular. It almost seems that the more drunk people are, the more they like it. In fact, whenever I hear “Blister in the sun” I feel very ill.

The Prodigy – Music for the Jilted Generation
Interestingly enough, this is the only album on the list that thinking about it has actually made me want to listen to it. It’s a little pretentious, but quite a fun album. It reminds me of sitting around with goths and geeks drinking those funny little pre-mixed raver drinks that used to be around a few years ago. I love “No good”.

CV

I hate CVs or resumes or whatever you like to call that document that has all the information about your work history. I hate them because all previous CVs I’ve ever written have ended up being the fakest of the fake. A few scraps of truth dressed up with nouns and adjectives.

This is apparently good. It’s called “selling yourself” and is what jobseekers are encouraged to do in order to make themselves attractive to potential employers.

There’s this idea that we’re brought up to believe that it’s arrogant to talk about yourself, but in order to get a job you have to do just the opposite of that and talk about yourself a lot.

But there’s a difference between talking about yourself and concocting such masterpieces of arse as the following, all from various versions of my CV from the past few years.

I am able to translate concepts into user friendly designs that hold people’s attention.

I am familiar with the Windows operating system, but also have experience with Mac OS and Linux.

In this role I have been involved with the build of sites; how things fit together, navigation of sites, preparing content for pages. I find this side of work to be the most challenging and fulfilling.

I learned a lot in the short time I was on the help desk, including how to remain focussed and work well under pressure.

Objective: To establish a career in the Internet industry through working in an organisation that will provide me with the ability to achieve high standards in my work, and give me opportunities to do stuff.

Bullshit! Bullshit! Bullshit! I’m almost ashamed at having written that. If getting a job means writing stuff like that, unemployment almost seems attractive.

If I were to be totally honest in a CV, it would probably consist mostly of something like this:

Hi, my name is Robyn. Ideally I’d like to be paid to go out and have adventures and write about them, but as that’s not currently happening I need a job to pay the bills. I won’t neccessarily like it, nor give it 100% of my attention, but I will show up and work the best I can. Ok, cool.

Bad Magazine

I’ve moved flats (again) and I’m now living in a reasonably classy neighbourhood. I found in my letterbox a magazine full of advertorial, hawking stuff that rich people are supposed to covet. It has a cover price of $5.50, but it distributed free to suburbs such as mine.

It seems to be written by a bunch of writers who have to engage in creative writing exercises to write the sort of articles that they think that rich wankers who lead busy, stressful lives and have too much money, would like to read.

It doesn’t quite come across as being real, though. It’s like those rap videos where the rappers sit around with all their possessions, drinking champagne, showing how they are livin’ large, but you know it’s just a front.

The results are some of the most hilarious and sickening sentences I’ve read in a long time.

The magazine’s editorial starts with a call to arms:

“The mornings are getting crisper and winter is creeping up. It’s time to buy snuggly woolies and new ski gear.”

New ski gear every year? But of course!

First up was a section on organics, with a handy section of commonly held myths regarding organic food. This was my favourite:

“Myth #2: It’s more expensive
-Wrong. We bought meat from an organic butchery in Auckland and then went to the supermarket and bought the same meat and the supermarket was more expensive. And the organic meat was much less fatty.”

How creative to present their research findings in the written style of an enthusiastic nine-year-old (“and then we went to the beach and it was cool and I had an ice cream and…”). It’s also interesting that they dis “the supermarket” but in an article on the same page they praise a supermarket for stocking a large range of organic products.

“Lothar says the hardest thing about buying produce today is that it often comes pre-wrapped in cellophane and as any good buyer knows, it is imperative that produce passes the ‘smell and sniff’ test to confirm that it is in peak condition and not past its prime.”

I sometimes buy produce wrapped in cellophane. I do not ‘smell and sniff’ produce before I buy it. I am bad.

“Just reading the bill of fare will send shivers of pleasurable anticipation through the most seasoned gastronome.”

They could have written “menu” instead of “bill of fare” and “food lover” instead of gastronome, but no. Simple, concise language isn’t the sort of thing that busy, stressed-out people understand.

“This has got to be a godsend for busy urbanites. You know the routine – long hours at the office, tired and travelling home in traffic, asking “What shall we do for dinner?” Here’s the answer.”

Whilst it might seems that the answer would be to quit your job and go and live on a kibbutz for a year and get your life back, the answer is actually just a more expensive version of meals on wheels.

My favourite item was a list of “fashion faux pas”, allegedly according to Coco Chanel. I say allegedly, because despite the fact that Ms Chanel died in 1971, item number 12 was “do not buy makeup on the internet.”

There was also a shopping hints page, sponsored by a credit card company. Hints included, “always carry a bottle of water. Shopping can be dehydrating and exhausting.”

From an article about a fashionable shopping street:

“The whole street engenders a feeling of community spirit – even the metre maid had a smile.”

It’s almost tempting to go there to see if I can find this 100 centimetre maid.

This description, of an apparent nightmare situation, started off an article for a panelbater:

“It’s often hard enough coming to terms with the fact that your beloved German sportscar has been rammed up the proverbial through no fault of yours, coping with the insurance companies and reams of paperwork, imagining being without wheels for weeks on end and, to top it off, realising that you’re late for a meeting.”

It’s like, oh crap, your car’s been hit, that’s bad. But wait, you’re late for a meeting, that’s, like, a total disaster, dude! And what, you can’t call the office and say “I’m not going to be able to make the meeting. I’ve been in a car crash.” Or will this panel beater be able to fix up your beloved Deutch mobile so you can make it back to the meeting?

A gaggle of drag-queens pose glamourously next to a car. The article first defines what a drag queen is:

“This differs from the sisters of drag, the “trannies” who live as women and therefore are women.”

I’m reluctant to call anyone with a penis a woman, but if some bad magazine says men who live as women are women, then it must be true.

A page offering tips for not spending too much on a wedding says:

“Use invitation stationery that’s light enough when assembled for delivery that it doesn’t require more than one stamp.”

According to New Zealand Post, the maximum weight for a standard letter is one kilogram, so I guess that rules out using granite tablets to chisel the invites onto.

In an article for car grooming products, a story is told of a valet who saw a dirty BMW pull up and was expecting an equally dirty driver.

“To his horror and amazement, a well-known personality stepped out of the car, designer clothing and picture-perfect hair, and handed over the keys.”

This event permanently scarred the valet, and “even now, some years on, he can’t see her photo in a magazine without first remembering that car.”

Two pages offer an adult section. The highlight being a stripper service, offering “strobe and neon lights, smoke machines, mirror balls and techno laser graphics,” in case seeing a naked lady isn’t exciting on its own.

An article about the joys of a Maserati tells of “a day in the country” and describes “heading south”. But the accompanying pictures show the car at Piha beach, which is neither rural nor south of Auckland.

“The New Zealand equivalent of London’s exclusive Notting Hill will soon stand as an integral component in the make up of Auckland City’s exclusive Viaduct Harbour.”

No, it won’t. It’s just another harbourside housing development. It won’t be anything like Notting Hill. There won’t be a multi-cultural street carnival. Julia Roberts will not fall in love with Hugh Grant in Freemans Bay.

“Our eldest daughter told us recently how much she enjoys the regular ‘family dinners’ held at our home.”

Why the scare quotes around ‘family dinners’? Could it be that they aren’t really family dinners, that it’s just someone sitting on their couch with an up-sized burger combo?

An article titled “Stop being a victim”, offers safety tips for women who are sick of feeling vulnerable. Highlights include:

“I am fed up with the limitations these evil-minded muggers and rapists put on our lives.”
“Self-defence courses for women are NOT martial arts schools.”
“Women have a very strong 6th sense, but it’s not often we heed it.”
“Be safe at home – e.g. don’t hop in the shower if the ranch slider is open.”
“We want our lives back without fear and intimidation.”

The social event pages bring us pictures of the beautiful people at such events as “New Years Day at the Tauranga Racing Club” and “Hillary and Tracey’s Farewell”.

The back cover has an ad for a sports car rental company. It features a photo of the back of a Porsche with three women standing in it bending over so their bums were on display. The incredibly witty caption read, “It’s a REAR thing to hire a Porsche.

A bunch of arse, really.

Bad Directions

I have a car and a drivers license. Several of my friends don’t. So sometimes I find myself giving them lifts to places. I have eventually come to realise that people who don’t drive can be really bad navigators.

When walking is your primary mode of transport, you take the quickest route. You don’t have to worry about traffic lights, rush hour traffic or what lane to be in. You can go down a one-way street in the wrong direction, and if there’s a walkway at the end of a dead-end street, you can ignore that “No Exit” sign.

Here are four situations I’ve been in with non-driving bad directions-giving passengers.

The Impossible Right-Hand Turn

“Ok, now turn right up here.”

But it’s not just any right-hand turn. It’s a right-hand turn into a busy, four-laned road, in the middle of rush hour and the only way I have a chance of making that right turn is if I were to wait there for about two hours until the traffic dies down. So instead I make a left hand turn, with the plan being that I turn into the next street on the right, do a u-turn down that, and turn left back on to the road I was originally supposed to turn right down.

“No, I said turn RIGHT!!!”

The One-Way Street

“Turn down this street here.”

So I stick my indicator on and slow down and prepare to turn, but something’s wrong. There’s a no entry sign. That’s right, it’s a one-way street, and I’m about to drive down it the wrong way.

“I can’t go down here. It’s a one-way street.”
“Oh, um, well I guess you’ll have to take the next one. This is how I go when I walk.”

The Quickest Route

“Hey, where are you going? Shouldn’t you be going that way?”

Yes, but that way has five sets of traffic lights, where as this way has only two. That way also goes past the motorway on-ramp, which usually gets queues, and I don’t want to get stuck behind one of those. That way is quicker if you take a short cut through the big park, but as I’m not driving a four-wheel-drive vehicle, and as I think the city council wouldn’t be too happy about me driving all over the grass, I think I’ll stick to this way.

The Lack of Directions

“Go along here.”

Ok, I’m driving down this street, but the street is coming to and end pretty soon. I have three options; left, right or straight. I need to know which way to go so I can get into the correct lane. The passenger is in the middle of telling me a funny story.

“Then we left the party and…”
“Where do I go now?”
“What?
“Where do I go now? Left, right or straight?”
“Ummm…”
“Shall I just stop here in the middle of the street until you make up your mind?”
“Go left!”

Too late. I missed the left turn lane. Straight ahead it is.

The Lack of Warning

“Turn left, now!”

Suddenly the passenger sees the street I’m supposed to turn down and tells me. However, if I were to attempt to turn down it, I’d have to suddenly slam on the brakes, and jerk the steering wheel hard to the left. I used to trust people’s timing and once ended up driving up on a concrete island at a service station because I thought “turn in here” meant “you have enough stopping distance to safely turn in here now.”

Tales of Bad Bagels

I like bagels. No matter what dodgy cafe I’m in (“New!!! Cappochino Machine!!!! Real coffee’s!!!”), bagels are usually a safe bet. I say usually, because I’ve had some bad bagel experiences. Let me share them with you.

Raglan I

This was my first bad bagel experience. It’s not as bad as the others, but as it was my first, it seemed the worst.

I was staying in Raglan and I went to a cafe for breakfast and ordered a toasted bagel with jam. When it arrived I was taken aback. For a start, it was white and bagels are normally a golden brown colour. And unlike proper bagels it didn’t have a hard outside, it was soft. I took a bit and realised that what I had been served as not a bagel, but a donut-shaped bread roll. Real bagels do not have any fat in the dough, and are boiled before they are baked. This was obviously just made from standard bread roll dough, and had not been boiled first.

But it tasted ok, so I ate it. However, as I moved onto the second half I noticed a sliver of onion stuck to the side of it. It appeared the grill hadn’t been cleaned between doing a heart attack breakfast special and toasting my bagel.

Wellington

In Wellington over summer, I stopped off at a supermarket to pick up a few things for lunch, including a bagel. I walked over to a park and sat down to eat.

Now, because bagels are boiled before they are baked, they get a sort of glossy, shiney surface. The bagel I had bought was, like the first Raglan bagel, made from regular bread roll dough, but it had also had a glaze applied to the top to give it the appearance of a regular bagel. There were even dribble marks where it had run down the side.

I stared at it for a while, unsure of what to do with it. It reminded me of those t-shirts that have a tuxedo printed on them. It’s not the real thing, and shouldn’t pretend to be.

Raglan II

An absolute bagel classic is with lox (smoked salmon!) and a schmear of cream cheese. I was at another Raglan cafe and ordered that for brunch. When it came there was instead a bagel with smoked salmon slices and cream cheese. However, rather than a schmear of cream cheese, there was instead a one centimetre thick slice of cream cheese.

Who made that? What were they thinking? Did they think they were making a smoked salmon cheesecake, or an eskimo pie bagel? Did they think smoked salmon tasted really bad and were trying to drown out the flavour with enough cream cheese for a dozen bagels? Or perhaps they thought I needed more dairy in my diet?

Whatever the logic behind the cream cheese behemoth that was lurking between the two bagel halves, I wasn’t going to eat it. I removed most of the cream cheese, and rebuilt it with just enough to taste good with the bagel and salmon. It wasn’t too bad.

Walking Out

You may recall this dialogue from the start of the Charlie’s Angels movie:

LL Cool J: Another movie from an old TV show.
Mad Bomber Guy: What are ya gonna do?
LL Cool J: Walk out.

(The punchline being that they are on an aeroplane, which leads into some sky-diving action.)

That got me thinking about walking out of movies. It seems to be the ultimate sign of a bad movie if it causes someone to walk out. I thought back to all the movies I’d seen and I could only think of one where I’d actually walked out, and two where I came really close.

The Near Walkout I

I can’t even remember what the film was, but it was some costume drama that would have come out around 1993 (possibly Scorcese’s “The Age of Innocence”). I was seeing it with my friend Renee and the film was just dragging along and being very dull and boring.

So we briefly discussed it and decided to walk out if it didn’t get better soon. Then disaster struck. Renee had recently got her nose pierced and somehow she managed to knock the stud out. She tried looking for it, but the theatre was too dark to see it. We had to wait until the film finished so she could locate the stud.

From what I can remember the film actually got better and I didn’t totally hate it, but it would have been a walkout if it weren’t for that pesky grunge-era jewellery.

The Near Walkout II

Generally speaking, the films of Jean-Claude Van Damme are pretty choice, but I think it’s fair to say that the 1995 film “Sudden Death” was just shit.

Usually in most Van Damme films there’s some reasonably plausible excuse for why there’s this guy with a French accent in the midst of a bunch of Americans (“This is Jean-Pierre from the Quebec FBI.”, “I grew up on a shrimp plantation in New Orleans.”), however in “Sudden Death” his Euro origins are ignored – he plays a character called Darren McCord.

The plot of the film has been described as “”Die Hard” in a hockey stadium”, but “Die Hard” was pretty cool and “Sudden Death” was shit, so its an unfair comparison.

I was sitting there in the theatre watching it and I realised that I knew exactly how it was going to end. The mad terrorist was going to be beaten by Van Damme, and the hockey stadium full of people would be saved. There was no suspense, no action, no drama. It was just a matter of the film getting on with filling in the blanks.

I considered walking out. Sitting there watching the rest of the film seemed like such an incredible waste of my time, even worse than the time I accidentally had dinner at Renee’s grandparents’ place (fish with white sauce and vegetables, canned fruit salad and vanilla ice cream).

But something kept me there, in the theatre. Perhaps my desire to see all of the films in Van Damme’s oevre, or maybe just laziness. However, I was on the verge of seriously walking out.

The Big Walkout

My only real walkout was due to the film making me feel sick – literally. When “Breaking The Waves” came out there was a bit of publicity surrounding the fact the the hand-held camera work was causing some audience members to experience motion sickness and people were even walking out because they felt so ill during the film.

So when I came to see “Breaking The Waves,” I thought I was pretty hardcore and would be able to handle it ok. However, I was getting over a bad cold and had been feeling crappy most of the day. I sat in my usual position (centre of the third row from the front – it’s where all the energy focuses, man) and was sure I would be ok.

But about two thirds of the way through the film I began to feel really ill. I didn’t want to leave because I was really enjoying the film, but my enjoyment was soon overridden by an increasing wave of nausea. I realised that I would have to leave or risk puking. So much to my regret I got up and left.

I ended up getting “Breaking The Waves” on video and watched it to the end without feeling nauseated.

So I’m yet to actually walk out of a movie in disgust. It’s probably not likely to happen because it seems that most films that make it to the cinemas in New Zealand aren’t that bad. Maybe I could rent a really bad video and walk out on it?