in recent years


summah jamz

Inspired by this nostalgic-seizure inducing post by the oft-hilarious Kevin Babbles, I am compelled to talk about the ridiculous summer playlist I put together this year.

It’s like… 70% flashback 90s/00s music (mostly rap, hip hop, and pop), 10% awful dance music, 10% indie bullshit, and 10% newer but still outdated rap and hip hop.

A sample of the randomized, 467 song playlist:

Some of my favorites:

L’Trimm, “Cars with the Boom” — 1. I love how similar this video is to JJ Fad’s, “Supersonic” and how fucking awful and great they both are. I have way too many memories of hearing this song blasting from my sister’s bedroom growing up and hearing her and her friends laughing and talking about dudes and generally allowing me to grow into a hateful, resentment-filled pain in the ass. Bitches.

Vengaboys, “Boom Boom Boom Boom” — What horrifies me about this song is that I have this really distinct memory of singing and dancing to it at a slumber party at my house and I always though, “LOL SIXTH GRADE” until I looked it up and this didn’t come out until June of 1999. I was FOURTEEN. What the hell? My shame, let me show you it. Second, what the actual fuck is happening in this video, man? Gay cowboy! Blue lipstick! All those horrible outfits! Titties everywhere! Drunk bros! Ejaculatory champagne! Rampant lesbianism!

Come to think of it, that explains a lot about why I would have been into it at fourteen.

Sarai, “Ladies” — This is the EMBODIMENT of my trip to Las Vegas after high school graduation. I still remember rolling down the strip in my BFF’s dad’s Explorer Sport Trac SCREAMING this song at everyone on the street.

Like this.

Oh, to be eighteen. Additionally, watching this, I do not understand how I didn’t figure out I was a lesbot earlier. I MEAN, COME ON. Also, watching Sarai rap is like watching my BFF talk. We call her DJ Xis.

Khia, “K-Wang” — THIS WAS THE DANCE. I remember watching one of my BFFs (Bryce) teaching DJ Xis how to do this shit in front of the big screen TV in my living room. Their dance was closer to this version (although people are CRAZY adamant that this is NOT THE RIGHT DANCE in the comments) but they disabled embedding because the world hates me. Better version of this TERRIBLE SONG here.

Mr. C, “Cha Cha Slide” — I wasn’t going to embed this one because, seriously, line dance hip hop is so god damn terrible, but this is every dance I went to in high school. Gym full of uncoordinated white kids being led by all the black kids. Diversity at work, y’all. And the video is just spectacular.

Edvard Grieg, “In the Hall of the Mountain King (Techno Remix)” — Also a high school dance thing. Just a representative of the terrible, terrible techno remixes that plagues the late 90s/early 00s. See also: Tetris Techno Remix, Super Mario Bros. Theme Techno Remix (not the one of my youth, but close). I listened to a lot of god awful techno in the early days of, OKAY. Don’t judge me.

Monifah, “Touch It” — Bringing the troops joy since 1998, girl.

Okay that’s enough. Seriously.



Webbie, “I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T” — I’m just really into spelling.

Eminem, “Role Model” — Every white person I am friends with knows every word to this song. I don’t know what that means, but it’s nice to roll down all four windows of my 2010 Honda Insight and blare this motherfucker with a bunch of white girls in the car. Oh wait, awkward, I meant awkward.

Felix Da Housecat, “Money, Success, Fame, Glamour” — Oh, Party Monster. Oh, COLLEGE.


Ugh, if I had any shame, I would be so embarrassed by my musical selections. Lucky lucky I’m shameless, eh?

on star tours and growing up

So Molly Lewis wrote a blog about the closure/redesign of Star Tours and while I think it’s sweet and engaging and an example of all the things I love about blogs — memories! nostalgia! complainery! — it’s also the kind of thing that makes me sad.

I love Disneyland. I love it beyond the ability to put it into words. And I love Star Tours. I think Star Tours is one of the best rides Disneyland has ever or will ever see. I loved it before I had ever even seen a Star Wars movie. Like Molly Lewis, I know it by heart and I recite it when I ride it and I once had a joyful ride with a strange kid on it. (When Captain Rex said, “I’ve always wanted to do this,” this bright and happy kid yelled, “MEEEEEEEEE TOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” My girlfriend and I have stolen his line ever since.)

But I’m not going to complain about the rehab or the changes or the podracing sequence or about George Lucas (even though I could, for days) or how Disney just can’t leave things alone because that’s not what Disneyland is about.

Watch out, I’m throwing down with a Walt Disney quote right here:

“Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.”

Maybe you and I hate the Star Wars prequels and all the too-noisy, hyperactive, CG scenes (and if you do, blame Steven Spielberg and Jurassic Park — no, really), but there is an entire generation of kids who loved them and a whole new generation who will ONLY know Star Wars in chronological order (this blows my mind, but as an entirely separate thing) and it’s their turn for the memories.

I hate that the Country Bear Jamboree is gone and it kills me that they took Mr. Toad’s out in Florida. I miss Circlevision sometimes, or more accurately, I miss getting dizzy staring upward for such long periods. I miss the Mary Blair murals in Tomorrowland and the PeopleMover. I miss the Fantasyland Autopia and how much fun it was to drive before I had to. Until VERY RECENTLY I missed the shit out of Captain EO. I miss Tom Sawyer Island when the settler’s cabin burned and there weren’t any pirates. I miss pre-Captain Jack Pirates of the Caribbean. Hell, I miss the Submarine Voyage and the parking lot. I even miss the Rocket Jets and the Skyway even though they both scared the living shit out of me.

But part of loving Disneyland is loving what used to be there, remembering, knowing for sure and certain and 100% that it was better when you were young, when this was there and that wasn’t, before everything changed.

What we didn’t realize then, as kids, was that things were changing all around us, all the time, at Disneyland, at home, and in the world at large. But we were young and change is often incremental and we were too busy having fun and playing on the teetering rock on Tom Sawyer and listening to our parents talk about A tickets and E tickets and how you used to be able to ride a real live pack mule where Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is now and how it used to be different, simpler, better.

Molly Lewis’s nostalgia is right, her love is perfect, her adoration commendable and so fucking right on the nose for me it isn’t even funny, but she’s still wrong.

“Disney tends to function in the way that Apple and Facebook do by which I mean that they will decide to change things that absolutely did not need changing, and you’re only left to assume that it’s for your own good.”

Star Tours is almost twenty-four years old. It’s had an incredible run, thrilling and delighting and creating memories for thousands and thousands (millions?) of visitors, but up until the last week and one random summer day last year, I never once in my dozens of visits saw the queue for the Endor longer than ten or fifteen minutes, even on peak days and times. And while that’s a great thing for visitors, it’s a death knell for Disney. And while I’d rather believe Disney was revitalizing a ride for the guests, it all comes down to the dollar.

Regardless of their motives, Star Tours 2.0 promises to create brand new memories for the next set of Disney fans. And, god forbid, I someday have a child, I’ll be there with him or her, talking about how when I was a kid there was this pilot droid named Rex and how he’d taken us on his first flight…

get off my lawn of hoarded/frozen slide film and glass negatives


I just started screwing around with film again (I don’t think I’d shot a single roll since my first quarter of college in 2003) and since 120 is SO EXPENSIVE for such hit-or-miss shots with the Holga, I thought, “Dang, I’ll buy twenty bucks of 35mm and dig out my Pentax!” So I did. And I shot a couple of rolls, including some old ass film that was buried with that Pentax! SCORE. And then I started wondering if Costco still developed film because it used to be super cheap! So I started googling. Then I came across that nutjob up there.

Like, look, man, I understand that your comfort bubble was busted wide open with the advent of digital cameras, but they’ve been around since like… 1991 basically. It’s 2010 now, CALM DOWN. If you are THIS UPSET about the idea of digital photography and the accompanying digital files, you should probably just quit the real world and live like a hermit. And if you are ALREADY living like a hermit, it’s time to give up the internet too.

1. Who is leaving all of their digital files on flash storage or SD or whatever? The majority of digital shots are at least getting moved to hard drives and shuffled forward through technological advances.

2. I love “DISPOSABLE SOCIETY”!! So much damnation in two words!

3. I had to google “basura” before I realized he was using the Spanish word for garbage. Dude misspelled so much shit in there, I could not even tell he was using another language.

4. “Now” we can just “click a button,” he says. What kind of fucked up camera rig has he been using all these years with his film? Does he Rube Goldberg every shot so that he can feel like he fucking earned that picture of his cat?

5. What the fuck is going to happen to our DISPOSABLE SOCIETY in 100 years that’s going to require we be DUG UP?


7. Dude? Is intense.

I can tell with 70-80% accuracy whether or not a picture is to my liking on my dSLR’s screen and if it isn’t, I pop off a few more, sometimes a couple dozen if it’s a hard shot. That luxury is basically non-existent with film unless you’re insanely wealthy. I am not, nor have I ever been, so I only shot the same thing twice if I was at least 90% sure that I’d just fucked up my first attempt and I’d still consider it pretty thoroughly, weighing whether I could really afford to waste the frame. I like film still because I like surprise. It’s FUN to pick up prints and flip through seeing what came out and what didn’t. THAT IS THE JOY OF FILM. The joy of digital is the joy of experimentation and repetition and adventure and trying new things.

Look, Patrick Lewis, I hate that every teenager with a Canon Rebel thinks they’re a photographer too, but that doesn’t mean I think Canon should be demonized for making it possible.

the one with the tragic nostalgia


Everything I know about high school, I learned from Saved By the Bell.

Countless writers before me have recounted their own experiences with SBTB, writers smarter, funnier, and more poignant than me. But I have something Chuck Klosterman doesn’t: an unironic love of the show and the fact that it pretty much ruined my high school experience.

SBTB debuted as Good Morning Miss Bliss in 1989 when I was a paltry four-years-old. I don’t specifically remember watching it at the time (the only media viewing I remember at the time was A Nightmare on Elm Street. What can I say, my parents were… forward thinking.) and I don’t particularly remember watching new episodes on TNBC Saturday mornings (thought I know for a fact that I did).

What I remember most vividly about SBTB is how deeply it skewed the vision I had of my future high school experience.

I didn’t entertain thoughts of being best friends with Kelly Kapowski (I mean, I was obviously Jesse Spano, but that’s really beside the point.) and I didn’t particularly imagine a world in which I could date Zack Morris or even AC Slater with his truly atrocious Jerry Curl. But, growing up in Southern California, I envisioned my high school future as something not too far from the halls of Bayside High, an experience rife with a hang out like The Max (more likely to be an In N Out in my suburban Los Angeles hometown) and the potential for an oil reserve under our football field.

I knew, logically, even at the time, that these were unlikely and extraordinary scenarios, but I know that I also secretly hoped that we’d have a radio station or an advice line that would lead to wacky hijinks.

My high school didn’t even have lockers, let alone a drivers ed class with in-car (or…cart) training, not even a principle that could have pulled me from a police line-up.

Somewhere in the back of my mind as I set foot on my campus that fateful September day of 1999 when I began my high school education, I expected Mr. Tuttle to run a glee club and for someone to have a caffeine pill-induced freakout.

I’d like to say that these delusions were my own, that I was simply a mindfucked product of too much TV at such a young age, but I wasn’t.

Sitting in my honors world history class, I turned to my close friend and said, “Man, I wish we went to Bayside” and she looked at me and without a moment’s hesitation said, “We don’t even have lockers. Saved by the Bell creates unrealistic expectations.”

We then proceeded to have a conversation about it that lasted the rest of the day.

I’d like to say we learned something profound about our expectations, about the image that the media creates for the youth culture, about how SBTB is secretly some profoundly counter-culture experience.

But we didn’t. We spent what amounted to about four hours just discussing episodes.

“You remember the one where Lisa sold all of her clothes to pay her dad’s Visa bill?” “Yeah!” “Remember Screech’s robot?” “Steve!” “Remember the time that they did the anti-pot episode?” “Totally. With the Brandon Tartakoff message at the end?” “YES.” “How about the one where they make spaghetti sauce?” “With Punky Brewster!”

And it always culminates in the great remembarance. “Dude, the caffeine pills!” “I KNOW.” And in unison, “I’m so excited. I’m so excited. I’m so… scared!” complete with melodramatic Elizabeth Berkely sobs.

That’s it. For four hours.

And I have proceeded to have the exact same conversation at least once a year for the last eleven years.

I watched four episodes of SBTB a day, five days a week for the four years I was in college. It was a staple in our dorm room and the on-campus apartment I lived in for the year after that. The two years that I lived at home and commuted depressed me infinitely because I wasn’t home to catch them. Gratefully, my Tivo was. I own all of the seasons on DVD and I watch them.

This is not some fleeting, nostalgic interest like I have in Mr. Belvedere or Salute Your Shorts. This is an all-consuming passion for some of the worst television programming to ever grace our airways.

I love Saved By The Bell. Unironically and unapologetically.

One of my favorite episodes of the show is the one where Mr. Belding’s brother Rod comes to work as a substitute teacher at Bayside. He’s the perfect image of a “cool guy” of the era, long hair and cowboy boots, that kind of obnoxiously perfected image that was really only cool for about twelve seconds in 1993, if it ever was at all.

While working as a substitute teacher at the alma mater that had so failed me as my own Bayside, I introduced myself to the class. “I’m Ms. Russell. You guys can call me Ash.” I grinned and was blindsided by a mostly mortifying realization: I was Rod. I had somehow modeled my entire method of substitute education after a one-off character on an episode of SBTB who ultimately turned out to be the bad guy.

Saved by the Bell is not a show to me; it is an inexplicable cultural phenomenon of such importance that it has integrated itself into my personality and my professional life.

I am not what I eat; I am what I watch.

I know that I am not alone in my slavish devotion to a show that’s seventeen years off the air. SBTB is a language of my age, an utter cultural staple. I have never once met someone in my age bracket that hadn’t seen at least one episode and more often than not they are almost as intimately familiar with the show as I am. If you are looking for a uniting force for Generation Y, there is no pop cultural icon quite like Zack Morris and his brethren. I cannot imagine building a long-term friendship with someone who is not at least relatively familiar with the canon of what probably amounts to the single most important television show of my life.

In the end, that is, of course, what it amounts to: a TV show and a really shitty one at that. It’s not the great American novel or Citizen Cane; hell, it’s not even well-done Saturday morning programming, but it is the kind of media that leaves a mark, the kind that will likely (and probably sadly) outlast the great masterpieces of the ages because it’s left that mark on the hearts of a generation of pop-culture addicts who are never going to let it go.

Zack Morris will live on and I’m so excited.