Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Johnny Yen Asks, I Answer

Johnny Yen offered to interview, I leapt at the chance to be interviewed.

Here's the Q&A.

1. Your musical knowledge astounds me in both it's
breadth and depth, and your love of music is clear.

In 1977, NASA put a record on the Voyager I spacecraft
that will exit the solar system in a few years. They
put a range of human sounds and songs on it. With
digital technology, we can put much more on the
spacecraft. You've been assigned by NASA to put ten
albums that you think should be heard by the first
beings that discover the spacecraft. What would the
ten albums be? Explain if you want to.

I think the answer to this question is really beyond my abilities -- to choose ten albums to represent humanity? Truly, a daunting task. I can give a couple examples, but I would hope there would be other people more knowledgeable than I that I could lean on for suggestions.

That being said, I would definitely choose a compilation of Django Reinhardt's Hot Club Quintet Of France. I'm not particular as to what compilation is used, as long as it hits the highlights ("Nagasaki", "After You've Gone", etc.). I think this music represents both incredible beauty and joy. Perhaps otherworldly beings that heard it might not think we're the ugly, ignorant creatures we probably are.

I would include a recording of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, because it's full of passion and fire, emotion of a different sort. Beethoven's Sixth (Pastoral) Symphony would be included, because I think it is a great representation of nature and our place within it. I defer to a classical music snob regarding the specific performance (conductor/orchestra) of these classical pieces, as I'm not that well-versed how one particular performance outshines another.

Ah, what the hell, put The Feelies' The Good Earth on there, too. It's goddamned good music.

2. Your Two-Buck Schmuck is one of my favorite
features on any of the blogs I read. What were the
worst five movies you ever saw and why?

Hmm, there is more than one kind of bad. I'll give some examples from a few categories.

The Horribly Disappointing
Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation - When I was but a wee lad, there was a summer weekend kids film screening at my neighborhood movie theater. I had just seen The Villain and loved it (gimme a break, I was a kid!). I loved it so much I wanted to go see it again. I went the following day, bought a ticket and sat down in my seat, prepared for live-action Roadrunner antics with Kirk Douglas, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ann-Margret, and then THIS movie starts rolling. I was *sure* that The Villain was scheduled to play, but I was confronted by some old-fogey (Jimmy Stewart) walking around in a suit. I stayed for the whole thing, but I hated it, mostly for what I felt was a bait-and-switch.

The Matrix - Reloaded - I saw this on an IMAX screen. As I've said before, putting something sucky on a gigantic screen makes it exponentially sucky. I was so angry at this poor excuse for a movie, that I spontaneously came up with the version they *should* have made.

The Listless
This category is almost worse than the Horribly Disappointing. There are movies that you watch, and afterwards you think, well, it wasn't awful. These movies have no distinguishing characteristics, either good or bad. Some reasonably competent people acted in, shot, and recorded music for these films. And the only thing I can think of in response to their efforts is, "So what?"

For examples, turn to the majority of the career of John Cusack.

A couple specific examples, if you like:
John Cusack: 1408 (reviewed by the Schmuck here)

Non-John Cusack: For the pinnacle of listlessness in a movie, see my review for the shitty Fracture.

This Sucks So Good!
Suckiness doesn't have to be bad! If you're watching a bad movie that prominently features one of the lesser Baldwin brothers, it stands a good chance at being hilariously sucky.

My favorite sucky Billy Baldwin movie - Fair Game
Fair Game also stars Cindy Crawford as a laywer. While Baldwin and Crawford are on the run from some dangerous criminals, they duck into a moving freight car that implausibly contains a fancy sports car, all shiny and sitting there. What do they do? Why, they have sex on the car, of course! What a wonderful movie!

My favorite sucky Stephen Baldwin movie - One Tough Cop
This might be better than Fair Game. Throughout the movie, Stephen Baldwin sounds like a really perturbed Donald Duck. It's worth a Netflix!

3. My father spent the last couple of decades of his
work life in the tech field, and once told me, after I
shared my own brief and bizarre experiences in the
tech field (I was a web design consultant for a
now-gone softward company about ten years ago) that
he'd realized, before he retired, that his life had
become a running Dilbert cartoon. I've gathered that
you're in the tech field yourself. Do you have a story
or two to share that had "Dilbert" moments?

I have definitely had Dilbert moments, featuring unrealistic deadlines, insane bosses, annoying coworkers, etc., but none of them really evoke any interesting stories.

That being said, I do have a couple funny anecdotes that center around IT. Maybe they're Dilbertish, maybe not, but I think you might get a kick out of them.

1. Knowing Little
The first story actually predates my career in IT. I was out of school, and briefly living back at my parent's house. For various reasons, I was feeling pretty depressed and low. I needed to get a job, but something not too permanent, as I didn't know what my situation was evolving into. So, I thought I'd try my hand at temping.

I had mad typin' skills and was reasonably presentable, so I quickly got an assignment at a credit reporting agency. Part of my job was to use a primitive computer application to verify details of home mortgages. I'd type in a person's name, bring up their mortgage, verify some data, etc. Apparently, the previous temp I was replacing had been hiding stacks of papers that he or she was supposed to be verifying, and as a result there was a lot of work to catch up on. I caught up in a few hours.

The next thing my employer wanted me to do was to call companies to verify employment for the people whose credit they were checking on. I had previously indicated to the temp agency that the only thing I was uncomfortable with was talking to strangers on the telephone. It just bugged me. So, now, I have to make a bejillion phone calls to people I don't want to talk to. I begrudgingly started phoning people.

I guess I must have given off a bad vibe or displayed the wrong facial expression, because near the end of the day I get a phone call from my temp agency saying that the credit reporting agency said I wasn't working out. This company I was temping at was not big. The office wasn't very big either, and the person who would have made the call about me was sitting literally five feet from me.

She left for the day without saying anything to me. I don't really know what I did to make her dislike me. She hadn't said a goddamned word directly to me about my performance -- she called the temp agency to do it for her. I was pissed. I typed this in the mortgage computer application I had been using.


Then I canceled out of the application and soon left for home.

The temp agency was very apologetic regarding the woman's treatment of me, and got me into another place the next day. A couple hours into the morning I got a call from the temp agency. They asked me if I had entered some profanity into the credit agency's computer. Oops. I thought I had deleted the entry, but I guess the system had saved it.

I called the asshole lady from the credit agency and apologized.

2. Knowing Much
I have to be a little vague about this story, but I hope not vague enough that you won't enjoy it. I worked in the security division at a large, consumer-facing commerce company. Users could create their own IDs to access our system. Keep in mind that these IDs aren't anonymous like you would make up for a Webmail account -- your ID definitely was pinned to you as an individual. Since I had the access and a little bit of free time, I thought, I wonder if any people have made naughty IDs? Sure enough, there were a handful of IDs. These aren't the actual IDs I found, but they were of the same ilk:


Whatever profane people created these IDs, you gave a chuckle to an IT security guy deep in the bowels of a large, heartless corporation.

4. I've been working on an upcoming post on
"Disappointing Candy From My Childhood." What were
your three favorite and three most disappointing
candies of your childhood?

Hershey Milk Chocolate Bar
Plain M&M's (good with water!)

Candy Corn: Probably on a lot of people's lists. Comedian Lewis Black has a funny bit about his yearly disappointment with this candy.

$100,000 Bar: Maybe this candy bar is not that bad, but I had two unpleasant experiences with it. The first time it must have heated up in the sun and was a gooey mess when I unwrapped it. The second time it was too cold and it hurt my teeth. I don't remember it tasting very good, either, but it was the temperature that made it unpleasant.

Candy Cigarettes: I remember going to the candy store down the street from my elementary school and picking up a pack of Marlboro's. I brought them back to school and puffed away on the playground, the dusty sugary substance blowing weakly out of the tip like delicious smoke. The smoke wasn't that impressive, and the gum in the cigarette tasted awful. Still, for some reason I'm glad I had the opportunity as a child to have a puff on a candy cigarette. I was cool, not like these lameass kids today!

5. You have won a prize where you get to name ten
public schools. What would you name those schools?

Mother Jones Elementary
The James Brown Academy of Positive Music
Little Pink Pony High
It's Okay To Be In Middle School
The Bertrand Russell School For Critical Thinking
Studs Terkel High
Duty Now For The Future
Dollops Of Wisdom Junior High
The I.F. Stone Vocational School Of Honest Journalism
We Care To Share Knowledge Prep

Phew, that was an indepth interview! I'm exmausted!

Thanks a lot, Mr. Yen.


Johnny Yen said...

Great answers!

1. I was surprised not to see Captain Beefheart!
2. I loved the ways you distinguished different types of suckiness. One of the warning signs of a bad movie is a non-Alec Baldwin brother. Have you ever seen Bio-Dome? Billy Baldwin and Pauly Shore.
3. I wonder if the lady who called the employment agency was afraid you'd take her job.
4. Candy corn is definitely on my list of disappointing candies. Circus peanuts are another. They should be banned by the Geneva Convention.
5. Great names! I have a collection of Izzy (I.F.) Stone's articles from Nation that BFF Andreas got me. Did you know that Mother Jones is buried in a small town downstate?

Did you ever read my post about nearly running over Studs Terkel and his wife?

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

"It's Okay To Be In Middle School." Feckin' cracked me up.

BeckEye said...

That was fun! But now I totally want to have a Baldwin brothers film fest, minus Alec. Damn you, Splotchy. Or should I be damning Johnny?

Splotchy said...

1. I probably took your question way too literally. I thought to myself, who am I to impose my will on the music that will be hurtling into space?

2. I haven't seen Bio-Dome, because of Pauly Shore. He gives me hives.

4. Oh yeah, circus peanuts! Awful, awful stuff.

5. I have a couple books collecting Stone's work as well. A really impressive intellectual force, he was. I think I was dimly aware that Ms. Jones was downstate.

Yeah, I saw your post about Studs. I'm glad you didn't kill him.

Splotchy said...

dr mvm, I hope that the name would make the students suffering the drastic effects of puberty and social awkwardness just a little bit happier.

beckeye, damn us both, why don'tcha? But now you have an excuse to watch Fair Game. You're welcome!

SkylersDad said...

Great exchange both of you! That was fun to read.

Moderator said...

I would attend Splotchy U.