I think about a world to come where the books were found by the golden ones, written in pain, written in awe by a puzzled man who questioned, "What are we here for?" All the strangers came today and it looks as though they're here to stay.

-David Bowie "Oh! You Pretty Things"

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Hate Letter

My father recieved the following letter in the mail recently:

Here's a transcript:

"Got your name at Jordan's party! You look awful! You look like Charles Manson. Do you love the devil or God!I think the devil the wys yw way you look. It's hiddious [hideous]. You admire yourself it seems. Yo'ure out of touch with society. Your family all hate it and are ashamed to be your relative. Go back into the woods and live there: society does'nt need this kind of look. Your family doesn't want to admit that your'e a relative. Get real!"

* * *

Some of you may think this is the most ridiculous, uneducated, misrepresented, foolish, overzealous, idiotic, moronic, sick, disgusting, ridiculous, (Did I say ridiculous?), misguided, superficial letter you've ever read, but I'll have you know that this is actually an important document. What you might not know is that this missive is actually a form commonly used in the secret history of Christianity. Let me give you an example:

When Martin Luther wrote his 95 theses, he nailed them to the door of the church and immediately ran away. You see, Martin Luther never actually signed the document, and that's what makes it funny. For quite some time this was the prevalent practical joke in most Christian circles. A couple hundred years later the nailing of anonymous theses, probably due to some scribal error, had evolved into the placement of burning feces on the doorsteps of unsuspecting neighbors. For much of my life, this was the most popular prank, until the year 2001 when animal waste was replaced by ambiguous black monoliths.

* * *

All joking aside, I would like to issue my own letter to whoever wrote this letter to my father:

"To whom it may concern:
"Your spelling is hiddious.
"Justin Richard Tiemeyer, son of Richard William Tiemeyer
"P.S. You're a self-righteous coward. You've created a god in your own image, a god who values appearance and social status over the contents of a person's character, a god who ought to be killed as soon as possible.
"P.P.S. In case you didn't catch it earlier, my name is Justin Tiemeyer. If you're reading this blog, you know how to get a hold of me. I hope some day you have the courage to insult my father to my face."

Celebrity Audobon: Sean "Puffy" Combs

A guide to shape-shifting celebrities and the bird forms they are known to transform into.

Sean "Puffy" Combs transformed into doves in the music video for the 1998 song "Come With Me," featuring Jimmy Page, from the film soundtrack Godzilla: The Album.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Of Tiptoes: A Mix By Justin Tiemeyer

Album art courtesy of Becky Prevette and Amy Bolan.

Geek Chic: How The Concept of Cool Was Turned On Its Head

What is the deal with Michael Cera? I mean, everyone loves this kid. Everyone. It's not just little kids. It's everyone. And the strange thing is that women really love him. Not in that, Awe-he's-adorable-because-of-how-poorly-adjusted-he-is kind of way. No. Women want to have sex with Michael Cera.

This essay explores how it came about that someone like Michael Cera could become a sexual icon. In the next several paragraphs, I will investigate the series of events that were necessary in order for geek to become chic.

In 1988, in the town of Brampton, Ontario, a son was born to Linda and Luigi Cera. They gave him the name Michael and began to dream of a bright future for this boy. I could go into more depth about Cera's childhood and acting success, but these facts have surprisingly little to do with Michael Cera's popular appeal. It was not the Canadian birthing scene in the late '80s that set the stage for the rise of Michael Cera, but rather, I contest, a completely different scene that was beginning to form in the Pacific Northwest town of Seattle. You may have heard it called grunge.

It's kind of hard to trace the beginning of grunge. Soundgarden was formed in 1984, followed by Nirvana and Alice in Chains in 1987, and finally Pearl Jam in 1990. These were the heavy hitters. While grunge was forming as early as the mid-1980s, it wasn't until the early '90s that this strange fusion of hardcore punk, heavy metal and indie rock became commercially successful. This is largely due to the success of Nirvana's second studio album Nevermind and Peal Jam's debut album Ten in 1991. Some might declare that grunge died on April 5, 1994, the day Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain committed suicide at the age of 27, but the fact is that it existed in some form for the next several years.

What does grunge have to do with Michael Cera? To explore this connection, we first have to understand how previous decades imagined the concept of coolness. From the 1950s through to the beginning of the grunge era, the single most important artifact of cool was the leather jacket. The tough kids in rockabilly bands wore leather jackets. And sometimes they had knifes! The jocks wore them when they got older and started realizing that it was just sad to continue wearing a letter-man jacket at the ripe age of 40. People like Springsteen and Arthur Fonzarelli wore leather jackets. And they rode motorcycles.

The leather jacket wearing public was not Cobain's demographic. In fact, Cobain was looking to light up a fire inside of everyone else. The freaks who didn't go out to parties. The losers who got their butts kicked for listening to Pixies records. These were Cobain's bread and butter. Cobain poked fun at cheerleaders in the music video for "Smells Like Teen Spirit," whereas pre-Cobain cool kids were happy just to poke the cheerleaders. Cobain was a freedom fighter, a Robin Hood of sorts, robbing from the leather jacket and giving to the flannel.

As grunge's influence in America began to dissipate, its response in England began to grow in strength. The second step in the creation of Michael Cera's sexual appeal is the rise to power of Radiohead as the most popular band in America. The world first met Radiohead with the release of the single "Creep" in 1992, followed by the album Pablo Honey in 1993, early work that had not yet distanced itself from popular influences such as U2 and REM. But the band got its name from a Talking Heads song, and perhaps it was the spirit of David Byrne himself (still living) that brought about Radiohead's turn away from pop.

Starting with the 1995 album The Bends, Radiohead's trend was to stray further and further away from popular sounding music with each album. Some critics had even begun describing Radiohead's music as anti-pop. Strangely enough, every time the band took another step away from popular music, Radiohead became more and more popular among listeners. As a result, Radiohead was capable of doing much more toward turning the concept of cool on its head than the entire grunge movement. Grunge questioned and protested old forms of coolness, but Radiohead made it so coolness was defined by its exact opposite: uncoolness. Cool now means "interesting and obscure, different from the rest." It's no wonder that the '90s gave rise to such an intense surge in indie music in the 2000s.

Why is Michael Cera a sexual icon? Because the '90s primed us to view everyone who doesn't fit in as the epitome of cool. Throw in the story of Bill Gates' rise to fame and it's obvious. Geeks, freaks, nerds, dweebs and losers, the world belongs to you. Michael Cera is scrawny, soft-spoken, nervous and introverted. He likes music that other people either haven't heard of or stopped listening to decades ago. He's the definition of dork and yet women want ot throw their panties at him like he's Justin Bieber. (I don't know if I'm more unsettled by Michael Cera as a sexual icon or Justin Bieber, but that's another discussion.) And it's not just Michael Cera. There's Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel. There's Jonah Hill. There's McLovin, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, a nerd that we chose for stardom. And if you include brilliant actors, there's Jesse Eisenberg and occasionally Joseph Gordon-Levitt. (I recently saw J G-L listed as one of the most important geeks. I also recently saw him being all debonair and well-dressed in Inception. I, for one, am not convinced for a second that he's a geek.)

Should Michael Cera be a sexual icon? By all standards and measures, definitely not.

Do I have a problem with Michael Cera being a sexual icon? Of course I don't.

I'm writing a blog about Michael Cera, for God's sake. It's posted on a blog that caters to comic book readers and video gamers. Of course I think women should love the geek.

Geeks deserve love, and I should know. I'm a full-on geek myself!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Red Hot Chili Peppers Stadium Arcadium... Naked (2010)

I've come to the point in my career of music listening where I believe that a 2-disc album is almost never a good idea. "Why," I often ask the imaginary representatives of musicians in my head, "don't you settle for a simple 1-disc album with some really awesome b-sides?" I finally decided that if the artists won't make this decision for the good of the album, the listening and loving public ought to do so for the artists.

The first album I want to tackle is the 2006 album Stadium Arcadium by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I always thought I could love this album so much more if it was compressed into a more digestible size like their previous album By The Way. As a result, several of my friends and I made our own variants on this idea. The project is called Stadium Arcadium... Naked after Paul McCartney's new mix of Let It Be in 2003 titled Let It Be... Naked.

NOTE: The download links from Media Fire have been shut down. As a result, you will need to procure these songs however kids procure songs these days and arrange them in your playlist as shown below. I hope that this does not remove any of the enjoyment.

Stadium Arcadium - The Adam Friedli Variant

1. "Hump De Bump" - 3:33
2. "Stadium Arcadium" - 5:15
3. "Snow (Hey Oh)" - 5:34
4. "So Much I" - 3:44
5. "Wet Sand" - 5:09
6. "Slow Cheetah" - 5:19
7. "Make You Feel Better" - 3:52
8. "Especially in Michigan" - 4:00
9. "If" - 2:53
10. "Hey" - 5:39
11. "Hard to Concentrate" - 4:02
12. "Animal Bar" - 5:26
13. "We Believe" - 3:36

Stadium Arcadium - The Josh Goulding Variant

1. "Desecration Smile" - 5:02
2. "We Believe" - 3:36
3. "Snow (Hey Oh)" - 5:34
4. "Torture Me" - 3:44
5. "Wet Sand" - 5:09
6. "Readymade" - 4:30
7. "Tell Me Baby" - 4:07
8. "Death of a Martian" - 4:24
9. "Turn It Again" - 6:06
10. "Hey" - 5:39

Stadium Arcadium - The Stephan Mathos Variant

1. "Stadium Arcadium" - 5:15
2. "Especially in Michigan" - 4:00
3. "She's Only 18" - 3:25
4. "Slow Cheetah" - 5:19
5. "Wet Sand" - 5:09
6. "Desecration Smile" - 5:02
7. "Tell Me Baby" - 4:07
8. "Save This Lady" - 4:17
9. "Hey" - 5:39
10. "We Believe" - 3:36
11. "Death of a Martian" - 4:24
12. "Dani California" - 4:42
13. "Strip My Mind" - 4:49

Stadium Arcadium - The Justin Tiemeyer Variant

1. "Tell Me Baby" - 4:07
2. "Especially in Michigan" - 4:00
3. "Charlie" - 4:37
4. "Stadium Arcadium" - 5:15
5. "If" - 2:53
6. "She's Only 18" - 3:25
7. "Hard to Concentrate" - 4:02
8. "Readymade" - 4:30
9. "Make You Feel Better" - 3:52
10. "Wet Sand" - 5:09

Stadium Arcadium - The Micah Tiemeyer Variant

1. "Desecration Smile" - 5:02
2. "Tell Me Baby" - 4:07
3. "Hard to Concentrate" - 4:02
4. "She's Only 18" - 3:25
5. "She Looks to Me" - 4:06
6. "Torture Me" - 3:44
7. "If" - 2:53
8. "Make You Feel Better" - 3:52
9. "Million Miles of Water" - 4:06
10. "C'mon Girl" - 3:48
11. "Storm in a Teacup" - 3:45
12. "Strip My Mind" - 4:49
13. "Wet Sand" - 5:09
14. "Save This Lady" - 4:17
15. "Stadium Arcadium" - 5:15

The Social Network Third Trailer

Worst Fight Scene Ever

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Carrie-Anne Moss

Actress Carrie-Anne Moss. You probably remember her as Trinity in The Matrix trilogy. Back when I was watching The Matrix, all the boys were in love with Moss and I just didn't see it. After watching Chocolat, however, I realized she's one of the most beautiful women on the planet. Conclusion: short, slicked-back hair and tight shiny clothing aren't the best look for Moss - she's just too classy.

Tron Legacy Second Trailer

Sunday, July 25, 2010

15 Albums From Which A Justin Tiemeyer Can Be Constructed

(In chronological order)

1. Queen - Greatest Hits (1981, 1991)

Queen is the first because I can't remember the name of the Monkees tape we always listened to in my parents' station wagon. I remember being vexed in middle school when this guy named Austin asked me who my favorite band was and I had no answer. Some time later I discovered a passion for Queen, but when I hunted Austin down to tell him Queen is my favorite band he seemed unimpressed, as if he had moved on from that momentary conversation months earlier. Dick...

2. Aerosmith - Nine Lives (1997)

My best friend Jared and I got into Aerosmith fairly heavily because his older brother Paul was really into them. We just ate up anything Aerosmith at a fairly young age, but it wasn't until 1997 that we witnessed the release of brand new Aerosmith material for the first time during our obsession. We listened to Nine Lives day and night, each of us having bought it early on and thus possessing the CD with the naughty pictures all over it. The first time I ever traveled very far from home was with Jared and his family on a trip down to Gulf Shores, Alabama, and we listened to Nine Lives on our Discmans nearly the whole trip.

3. Pink Floyd - The Wall (1979)

When I was in high school I was convinced that I was the youngest person on the planet to both know as much as I did about Pink Floyd and to never have done any sort of drug while exploring the Floyd catalog. I remember listening to The Wall over and over again in my car, explaining the nuances of the album to anyone sitting next to me in my little Honda CRX. You see, it's about the war, but it's also about music, and more than that, it's about one man's struggle with emotional events as expressed by war metaphors in music.

4. Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy (1973)

This one time I went to Vertigo Records with my good friend Elliot Mayo, now world-famous DJ Elijah. I wasn't into looking at the electronic records just yet, but I did enjoy looking for cool Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin t-shirts. When I came across the Houses of the Holy t-shirt, I was faced with a dilemma: on the one hand, this was one of the most important albums I've ever listened to - it had changed me, but on the other hand, it was a t-shirt populated with naked children and I was still in high school. In the end I saved my money. I probably bought some issues of Uncanny X-Men with it. This would have been either during the Onslaught or Operation: Zero Tolerance days.

5. Smashing Pumpkins - Adore (1998)

Any time before my senior year of high school this album would have sounded much too dark for me. But when a girl I thought I was in love with began dating a good friend of mine I found myself really struggling with a kind of darkness that made this album accessible. I've since found several other boys who claim Adore to be their favorite album, and who can cite similar dark periods of life that the album helped them through. I would never again underestimate the healing power of a really sad album.

6. Red Hot Chili Peppers - By The Way (2002)

Because my brother and I drove around everywhere singing this album together we joined forces and created a band called Craig. We focused mainly on playing classic rock music and writing solid, interesting songs. Because we weren't trying to mimic either Green Day or Blink 182 we were different from all the other bands in the area. When I was kicked out of the band they changed the named to Craig and the Cowboys, which made me conclude that I am the negation of Cowboys.

7. Ryan Adams - Gold (2001)

I don't know what had happened, but I remember driving in my GMC Jimmy and crying while listening to this album. I dried my eyes and met Brian Vandenberg at a coffee shop where we were going to hear our mutual friend Matt play some music. Matt ended up writing a novel in a very Dickensian fashion, so I'm sure he'd be fairly happy to be called "Our Mutual Friend."

8. Zwan - Mary Star of the Sea (2003)

Has Billy Corgan ever sounded as happy, positive and enlightened as he did on this album? Has he ever released a record that comes with fun rainbow guitar stickers that I've found on my old belongings in my parents' basement from time to time? No. And I fear it will never happen again.

9. The Beatles - Abbey Road (1969)

Abbey Road wasn't the first album that flowed from one track to the next. According to Brian Wilson, that was Rubber Soul. According to the rest of the world, Wilson's band The Beach Boys recorded the second real album: Pet Sounds. Abbey Road, however, was the pinnacle of album-making. It never sounded so good until then and it never sounded so good afterward. Let's throw all of that away. The fact of the matter is that I can't imagine that a human could ever fall in love without ever hearing the George Harrisonsong "Something" from this album. That's the more important impact of this album.

10. David Bowie - Young Americans (1975)

Young Americans is by far not the best album put out by David Bowie, but it is the only album I owned on cassette during the lonely year in Toledo in which I couldn't get the car CD player to work. We bonded through struggle much like Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves did in Speed.

11. Neil Young - Harvest (1972)

I listened to this album enough times that I considered writing a book of short stories, one for each track on the album. The ideas were pretty interesting, but I was not very good at finishing things that I started back then. I didn't have any deadlines, so I never got anything done.

12. Prince and the Revolution - Parade (1986)

No need for an anecdote. It's simply the best.

13. Radiohead - In Rainbows (2007)

Becky, Elliot and I were walking around Manhattan, and I had this melody stuck in my head. It was Radiohead's "Reckoner." I didn't know any of the words. I just kept humming this melody. Suddenly, the sound was coming at me from behind. I looked at the storefronts and none of the stores were open. None of them were pumping Radiohead out of their speakers. None of them even had speakers. I was convinced for some time that Thom Yorke himself was walking several paces behind us singing this song to himself until a car pulled away and the music was gone.

14. Tom Petty - Wildflowers (1994)

You're just a poor boy along way from home
You're just a poor boy a long way from home

15. Arcade Fire - Funeral (2004)

I didn't fall in love with Arcade Fire because David Bowie loved them first, but it certainly didn't hurt. But seriously, how cool was it when David Bowie and Arcade Fire performed "Wake Up" together on VH1's Fashion Rocks. I don't know whether I was more excited about that or the Where the Wild Things Are trailer with the same song. Oooh.

The World Zach Braff Created

Zach Braff has been considered a quadruple-threat of film and television. You probably know him best as Dr. John J.D. Dorian on TV's Scrubs or maybe as Andrew Largeman in the 2004 film Garden State. On top of being an actor, he's a writer and director (Garden State), but also a soundtrack producer.

How threatening is this quadruple-threat? Not very. I compare Zach Braff to Snoop Dogg. Snoop Dogg isn't very good at rapping or acting or dancing or singing, but he is good at being cool. Being cool is that one thing that drives Snoop Dogg's career. Now I'm sure some moony teens and twenty-somethings are going to take a great deal of offense by this statement, but Zach Braff is not really any good at acting, writing or directing. Zach Braff's one thing that made such a ripple in this ocean of mass media is that he's good at making music playlists.

If you can't name (or hum the tune of) a single song from either the Garden State or Scrubs soundtrack, then you weren't present for the last decade of popular culture. Whether or not you consider this a true statement, the question remains as to how this world we are in right now is the world Zach Braff created...

Because of a series of factors in the music industry and otherwise, this will be the first decade without pervasive trends in music, at least not in the most important category of all: rock and roll. If one could find a dominant trend it would have to be called something like "hipster," or "Brooklyn scene" or "indie," but this one category of music encompasses a variety of bands that have little to nothing in common. The only common thread between these bands is that screamo enthusiasts think you're pretentious when you talk about them. Bands like Muse and White Stripes have continued to push guitar rock, and Radiohead has changed all the rules time and again, but these are not part of any new trend. They are the outliers. As a result of this diversity of bands, a factor that is getting more and more complicated with the diminishing necessity for big record labels and free music distribution through MySpace and Youtube, the single easiest way to keep on top of today's music is to have at least one friend who dedicates his or her life to listening to the newest, most trendy music. This friend creates a mix CD and distributes it to friends.

I've been making mix CDs for some time, incorporating the use of newer songs that people perhaps don't know about with either older album cuts or popular tunes that people have forgotten. This is something I've really gotten into as of late, requesting album art from artistic friends and arranging songs just right so that they flow into one another. The world is ripe for the DIY album. Just give people a track listing and album art, maybe some liner notes with an essay included, and they can construct their own album through iTunes (legally) or torrents (illegally). Poets and authors such as Stephanie Meyer (Twilight) publish playlists that can be used in order to amplify the mood of their writings. As a matter of fact, I handed in playlists with each of my final papers during my first semester in grad school. I really think I could have gotten a better grade if my professors not only read, but felt what I am conveying in the paper. Thom Yorke and Berlin could have really helped me with that if my professors were more into downloading and less into getting grades in on time.

My prediction for the music industry is that the only way for music to remain profitable is to find creative ways to sell it to people. Some years ago, compilation CDs were released for various reasons, but the price and content of the albums always had a great deal to do with the rights and availability. If the compilation CD was released by Columbia, for example, chances are that you wouldn't hear any songs by a Geffen artist. Imagine being a band like Aerosmith with albums under both of these labels. The idea of putting out something as simple as a greatest hits album becomes incredibly difficult. We don't have those problems anymore. You're allowed to have any mix and match of songs from various record labels on the hard drive of your computer. I think the next means of making music fun to buy is going to revolve around buying mix CDs compiled by celebrities and other influential people. many people follow Rainn Wilson, best known as Dwight K. Schrute from TV's The Office, on twitter. How many of those people would buy a digital mix CD compiled by Wilson through iTunes? Whether you love or hate Sarah Palin, it would be one heck of an icebreaker to tell the people in your car that her mix is playing on the speakers. Palin likes Gaga? I never would have guessed.This movement would create personalities known only for making mix CDs, people who just make the best mixes and are now celebrities as a result. This is what I want to do.

This is a world of mix CDs and playlist sharing, a world that has only ever had one king. That king's name is Zach Braff.

I hope to be the one to overthrow him.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Faster Trailer

Red Trailers

Memories: Summer of Love

Leonardo DiCaprio

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio. You may remember him from such film hits as Inception, The Aviator or Critters 3. I used to be angry at people like Leonardo DiCaprio and Justin Timberlake. I would call them names. I think I was just jealous that those dudes could be both good looking and talented. We all understand how frustrating it is. We hope that the beautiful people can just be dumb and useless, and we want our talented people to be ugly. Then you get a dude like this. I'm adult enough now to be happy that there are people like Leo in Hollywood.

Expendables Drink Menu at SDCC

Skeeter's World Famous Hot Dogs

(NOTE: By the time I made it to Skeeter's in Wytheville, Virginia, the 6 in "OVER 6 MILLION SOLD" had been crossed off and replaced with a 9.)

Off the highway in Wytheville, Virginia one finds a series of signs leading to various restaurants. Like most towns, the big chain restaurants have amazing coverage. But there was one restaurant that seemed out of place: Skeeter's World Famous Hot Dogs. I'd never heard of the restaurant, but for some reason I was passionately driven to eat there. The restaurant was several miles from the exit and it took several turns to get there. Normally, my response to this would be: "Never mind. Let's just go to Burger King. I need some more Twilight game pieces." But no! Not this time. I was intrigued by Skeeter's.

What I didn't know was that this Skeeter's is ground zero from which a larger chain had sprung. When we walked inside, my mother started talking about how it reminded me of the inside of her father's Mobile Station when she was a child in the '50s and '60s.

When I first looked at the menu the first thing that stood out was the Slaw Dog, a hot dog with mustard, onion, chili and slaw. Immediately afterward I was taken by The Works, which is basically a Slaw Dog with cheese. Those of you who know me will find this weird. Those of you who don't know me ought to know that I have always detested coleslaw in every form it has ever come at me. The reason I became excited about slaw in this instance can be explained by a defect in the wiring of my brain. I read the word "slaw," but through some crazy psychic game of telephone the word had transformed into "kraut" when it reached my brain. This wouldn't be so strange if it were an isolated incident, but after the fact my good friend Adam attested to this same mix-up in his own thought process.

When I recommend the Slaw Dog and The Works to you as some of the best hot dogs you'll ever consume, you'll understand that it's good enough to overcome my hatred of coleslaw. Slaw, I was told by my brother's girlfriend Kristin, is a different thing in the South, with factions fighting a Civil War over the proper way of making it. ("THE SLAW WILL RISE AGAIN!") It was no longer some concoction of terrible preserved vegetables mixed in a plastic bin with disgusting smelling mayonnaise and sugar. (I used to have to prepare coleslaw when I worked at a Chicken Express in Denton, Texas. One of the worst jobs I've ever performed.) It had become something that added a little bit of twang to a spectacular hot dog.

Skeeter's World Famous Hot Dogs
165 E. Main St.
Wytheville, VA 24382

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Chipophone

Comic Con vs. Fred Phelps

A bunch of Fred Phelps hate-mongering Christians from Westboro Baptist Church up and decided that they would celebrate the weekend's festivities in San Diego by protesting the Comic Con. From the reports I've seen, they had no idea what they were getting into. Leave it to my fellow comic book nerds to fight ridiculous (because what else can you call anti-homosexual propaganda?) with ridiculous.

On this side, the personification of hate, the Christians from Westboro Baptist Church:

And now on this side, the freedom fighters of the San Diego Comic Con:

Here are a few of the more interesting protesters:

And my personal favorite:

In case you can't see, this sign reads "The Legacy Virus is punishment for Mutie SIN." In other words, we comic book readers have been dealing with this kind of hate talk for decades. This particular sign refers to events from X-Men comics, a series started in 1963 to deal with issues of adversity such as these.

Good work, my comrades. Continue the battle.