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“I Fought the Law” was originally recorded in 1959 by rock & roll group Sonny Curtis and the Crickets.

Sonny Curtis (second from right) and the Crickets

Sonny Curtis (second from right) and the Crickets

It has since been covered by pretty much every artist ever, and then some.

You know you have a hit on your hands when Colin Farrell asks to cover your song.

You know you have a hit on your hands when the venerated Colin Farrell asks to cover your song.

By far the most famous covers of “I Fought the Law” are by the Bobby Fuller Four, the Clash, the Dead Kennedys, and Green Day, whose version was used in an early iTunes commercial.

I’m partial to the cover by the Dead Kennedys, a 1980s hardcore punk group, because I once did a report on its lyrical meaning for history class.

The Dead Kennedys (Klaus Fluoride, Jello Biafra, East Bay Ray, and Ted) protest the commercialism of the music industry.Early Dead Kennedys: bassist Klaus Fluoride, vocalist Jello Biafra, guitarist East Bay Ray, and drummer Ted, protesting the commercialism of the music industry.

Jello Biafra, one of the most bad-assed and politically incendiary frontmen in the history of punk rock (and that’s saying something for an inherently bad-assed and politically incendiary genre of music), rewrote the lyrics of the song in a sarcastic derision of the controversial trial of Dan White.

You’ll recall from this blog’s reviews of Milk that White was the San Francisco city supervisor who assassinated fellow supervisor Harvey Milk and mayor George Moscone in 1978.

Former San Francisco City Supervisor Dan White

Former San Francisco City Supervisor Dan White

What Milk doesn’t cover is the aftermath of the killings and White’s subsequent trial in 1979.  White, a former police officer, turned himself in to authorities as the shooter later that day, whereupon his old coworkers allegedly applauded him.

His trial saw the introduction of the infamous “Twinkie Defense”.  White’s lawyers argued that he should not be convicted of murder because his capacity for rational thought was diminished in the days leading up to the shootings.  His lawyers offered as evidence of White’s altered state of mind his uncharacteristic consumption of junk food.

They did not argue, as the film misstated, that a chemical imbalance resulting from eating junk food prompted White to carry out the shootings.

In any case, the jury bought the argument and found White guilty of voluntary manslaughter rather than first degree murder, convicting him to only seven years in prison as opposed to a life sentence.  This sentence, criticized by many as being an overly lenient one delivered by a jury sympathetic to White’s status as an ex-policeman, sparked the White Night Riots in San Francisco.  Jello Biafra rewrote the song from Dan White’s point of view, and many of his lyrics reflect this anger as well:

“The law don’t mean shit if you’ve got the right friends

That’s how this country’s run

Twinkies are the best friend I’ve ever had

I fought the law and I won”

“I’m the new folk hero of the Klu Klux Klan

My cop friends think that’s fine

You can get away with murder if you’ve got a badge

I fought the law and I won”

Jello Biafra, the Dead Kennedys

For your comparison, I’ve compiled the Youtube videos of the five most famous versions of “I Fought the Law”.  I chose live performances over studio recordings wherever possible.

Sonny Curtis and the Crickets: “I Fought the Law”

The Crickets disguise themselves as wildflowers.  Thrilling hilarity ensues.

Bobby Fuller Four: “I Fought the Law”

The Four play in a jail cell to the delight of an appreciative fellow inmate/go-go dancer.

The Clash: “I Fought the Law”

The Clash radiate pure awesome at a live show at the Lyceum Theatre in London.

Dead Kennedys: “I Fought the Law (and I Won)”

Jello Biafra sings with vitriolic sarcasm at an L.A. show while the audience? (bouncers?) mosh onstage.

Green Day: “I Fought the Law”

Billie Joe gamely tries to blink his eyeliner out of his eyes.  A female audience member and probable Hot Topic patron at front and center shows off her startling proficiency at pointing in the general direction of the band, frustrating the event’s cameramen at every turn. Unfortunately, near 1:58, her clapping is temporarily thrown off beat when she attempts to point and clap simultaneously.

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These are my four favorite signs from around the TigerLogic office in San Jose.  I often find myself reading them again because they’re kind of hilarious.  Maybe I just have an odd sense of humor.

4. Engraved plastic sign on breakroom vending machine

Once you have notified the receptionist, you may then commence shaking the machine using appropriate company procedure.

Once you have notified the receptionist, you may then commence shaking the machine using appropriate company procedure.

One can only imagine how many lawsuits were filed by irate employees who had injured themselves by shaking the machine before the building management finally ponied up for an official-looking engraved plastic sign asking them to please stop.

3. Repair request in vending machine

Notice the circled date on the note.

The above plastic engraved sign suddenly makes more sense.

Notice the circled date on the note.  To my knowledge, the Rockefeller Group doesn’t even lease in this building anymore.

2. Dymo label on non-roving supply cabinet

STATIONARY

STATIONARY

Once I put up a post-it with an arrow pointing to this label that said, “Yes, it is.”  It stayed up for almost a week.

1. “Microwaving Water!” Warning

Microwaving Water!

Holy shit!

This is an all-around gem.  First, the sensationalist exclamation point and the alarming underline is carefully crafted to capture the attention of many an unwarned member of white collar corporate America as he or she reheats lunch.  These stylistic choices plainly say “forget the latest issue of People magazine waiting for you at your desk because this is going to be CRAZAY”.

Then, it revs up the drama, slowly setting the scene: a 26-year old man decides to have a cup of coffee.  As he places the cup of water in the microwave, you can hear the slow beginning of the Jaws theme.  Ba-dum.  Ba-dum. “NO!” you want to shout.  “STOP, 26-YEAR OLD MAN!  USE THE TEA KETTLE!”

sjdfklds

Ba-dum. Ba-dum-ba-dum-ba-dum-ba-dum-ba-dum...

The whole thing reads like one of those fearmongering emails your grandma forwards to you.  You know:

Subj: FWD: Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: MICROWAVING WATER!

(in size 30 Comic Sans font) This is true, a scientist from Wisconsin confirmed it this morning.  GE and other big appliance companies are trying to keep this hushed up because it could hurt sales  They won’t keep us in the dark!  We need your help!  Please pass this on to everyone you know who uses a microwave or drinks water!!!!!

The saddest thing is that the printout in our kitchen is so neatly formatted that someone must have spent about 20 painstaking minutes sifting through the entire forward — taking out all of the >>>>> symbols, inspirational quotes in shimmering hypertext, and pictures of roses created entirely from dashes, semicolons, and backslashes — in order to print it out and place it in a protective covering to grace our breakroom microwave.  And for that, I would just like to say thank you.

While theaters have recently been filled with many films that promise to entertain, few promise to educate, and even fewer do so in the thought-provoking way that Gus Van Sant’s new movie, Milk, does.

Milk tells the story of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California.

harveymilk

The film follows Milk’s life from from the moment he decided he wanted to be a politician, to the moment he finally won a seat a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors . Milk  ran unsuccessfully for political office on three separate occasions; with each attempt, he gained more and more support. Milk, however, had  short-lived political career. Dan White, a fellow San Francisco supervisor, shot and killed Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk  on November 27, 1978.

milkmosconeslainpaper1

While each person has his or her own views on the sensitive issue of homosexuality, the film’s release could not have come at a more appropriate time. When Proposition 8 passed at the end of last year, many felt Californians had taken a huge step back in the fight for equality. Although that may very well be the case, Milk puts a face to the fight for gay rights. Harvey Milk’s touching and motivating story is guaranteed make you think a little before treating anyone poorly.

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I have been recelebrating the awful comedic brilliance of The Office (UK) of late.  If you aren’t familiar with the antics of David, Gareth, and Tim (that’s Michael, Dwight, and Jim, respectively, to those of us across the Atlantic), you should check out these two little musical gems, as well as my strange spelling, in honour of my ChunkIt! coworker Elena, who is leaving for England this week.

Ricky Gervais, who plays office manager/idiot David Brent, is my absolute favourite.

David’s Dance

Free Love on the Freelove Freeway

If you can’t stop busting out “Freelove Freeway”, the BBC has provided the guitar tabs, courtesy of Gervais, who actually wrote and composed the song.

Are some of your friends on Facebook wearing out their welcome?  Suppose you added someone who turned out to be a Superpoke superuser.  Suppose someone won’t stop sending you invitations to the Ninjas vs. Zombies application.  Suppose you would like to punish all of those who jumped on the recent “write a note with 15 interesting facts about yourself and tag 15 people” bandwagon of narcissism.

Now suppose you like free food.

Burger King Whopper Sacrifice

Burger King has created a new Facebook application called “Whopper Sacrifice” that enables users to choose to unfriend 10 of their least worthy Facebook friends in return for a coupon for a free Whopper.

Burger King Whopper Sacrifice

Screenshots:

Burger King Whopper Sacrifice

Not actually all that different from aforementioned Ninjas vs. Zombies application.

Burger King Whopper Sacrifice

Public humiliation by rejection: coming to a Newsfeed near you.

Yes, it’s a shameless marketing ploy, and yes, it’s working.  Check out Whopper Sacrifice for yourself, or read Caroline McCarthy’s original post on CNET.

As of the time of writing, 13,350 onetime friends have been slighted by the allure of a $3.75 hamburger.

As of the time of writing, 13,350 onetime friends have been slighted in favor of the allure of a $3.75 hamburger. Actually, the allure of one-tenth of a $3.75 hamburger.

Over the past few days, I’ve sifted through multiple year-in-review lists, watched scores of trailers, and prowled Rotten Tomatoes for ratings.  Somewhere between The Dark Knight and Iron Man, the following 8 films may have escaped your viewing in 2008 but are now at the top of my to-do list.

These films aren’t necessarily Academy Award nominees or critics’ picks, though many of them are.  They were chosen for having an interesting premise and a fresh approach to their subject.

I’ve taken the liberty of compiling everything — movie posters, cast lists, ratings, synopses, trailers, and critics’ reviews — into one handy package for you.

So if you’re at the movie theater looking forlornly from The Day the Earth Stood Still to The Spirit, here are 8 alternatives for your consideration:

American Teen

Because it’s billed as a real-life ‘Breakfast Club’.

Directed by: Nanette Burstein

American Teen Rotten Tomatoes Rating

Documentary following the lives of four teenagers–a jock, the popular girl, the artsy girl and the geek–in one small town in Indiana through their senior year of high school. We see the insecurities, the cliques, the jealousies, the first loves and heartbreaks, and the struggle to make profound decisions about the future. Filming daily for ten months, filmmaker Nanette Burstein developed a deep understanding… See Full Description

Excerpts from critical reviews, courtesy of ChunkIt!’s My Chunks beta feature:

Cinematical.com’s James Rocchi’s Sundance 2008 review defends American Teen against concerns of overproduction and glossiness, and calls it “an engaging, stylish, and surprisingly smart piece of non-fiction entertainment”.

Next: Be Kind Rewind

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I do not exactly have a reputation as a master chef.  Ask my family about my culinary prowess, and they will probably regale you with a story of the time I managed to botch up a batch of Betty Crocker brownies by forgetting to add the eggs.  My dad, always the optimist, pointed out that I had invented a nearly indestructable building material.  What a kidder.

1 Egg and Oil!

"Just Add: Drywall and Insulation!"

Now that I live in an apartment, however, I cook my own meals, with surprisingly edible results:

Her range of dishes, initially limited to Spaghetti And Other Assorted Shapes of Pasta, has in recent weeks included rosemary-thyme lamb chops and a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

The rest of her family regards her meteoric culinary rise with a mixture of pride (Dad), skepticism (sister), and astonishment (Mom).”

Excerpt from this year’s family Christmas newsletter

In order to prove to my disbelieving family that I am indeed capable of such feats, I baked another carrot cake a few days ago, using the same recipe as before.  The recipe I am about to share with you is, to the best of my knowledge, the most epic carrot cake recipe of all time.

Ultimate Carrot Cake

Here it is, in all of its carrotty applesaucey pineappley walnutty glory.

It originated from the “Carrot Cake III” recipe on allrecipes.com; I like to imagine user “Tammy Elliott” working feverishly in her underground kitchen/lair, inventing carrot cake after carrot cake until, in one triumphant moment, she shouts, “I’VE GOT IT!” and posts her recipe for a third-generation carrot cake so good that it deserves its own Roman numeral.  Next, the recipe was further improved upon by suggestions from 1,390 reviews, and consolidated into one list of alterations by user “gneebeanie”, whose perplexing choice of username is, I can only assume, a secretive anagram for “A Bee Engine” or “Inane Be(e) Gee”.

Saturday Night Fever for carrot cake?

Saturday Night Fever for carrot cake?

My humble contribution to this global effort has been to incorporate these alterations back into the recipe, which I have fittingly entitled “Ultimate Carrot Cake”. Both times I have baked this cake, it has garnered rave reviews:

“Some sort of cooking god needs to bow down to you.”

If you never make this again, I will kill you.”

“After nineteen years, I finally believe Katherine can cook.”

Here is the recipe, if you’d like to try it for yourself:

ULTIMATE CARROT CAKE

Beat together:
4 eggs
3/4 c vegetable oil
1 c brown sugar
1 c white sugar
3 tsp vanilla extract

Then mix in:
2 c flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp salt
3 tsp ground cinnamon
0.25 tsp nutmeg

Then fold in:
3 c grated carrots
20 oz canned pineapple, chopped/crushed and drained (optional)
0.5 c applesauce (optional)
1 c chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Bake at 350 degrees in a greased 9X13 baking pan. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Let cool before frosting.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

Beat together:
0.5 c butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
3.5 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Frost cooled cake and sprinkle on:
1 c chopped nuts

You already know that TigerLogic, the company Katelyn and I intern for, has a search tool called ChunkIt! that makes researching for a paper a breeze.  But what you may not know is that we’ve recently released a new ChunkIt! feature called Chunk Store that makes shopping online faster and easier than ever before.  So if you didn’t get exactly what you wanted for Christmas, here’s how to shop online for the perfect gift in five easy steps:

1. Type a basic product description into the ChunkIt! toolbar in your browser.

1. Type a basic product description into the ChunkIt! toolbar in your browser.

2. Choose from six popular online stores and scores of departments.

2. Choose from six popular online stores, including Amazon, eBay, and Best Buy.

3. Quickly scan the product descriptions of all search results without manually clicking on and reading through each product page.

3. Quickly scan the product descriptions of all search results without manually clicking on and reading through each product page.

4. Discover important details that you may not have seen otherwise; find the best product for you.

4. Discover important details that you may not have seen otherwise; find the best product for you.

5. Make your purchase directly from the Amazon store as usual.

5. Make your purchase directly from the Amazon store as usual.

That’s it!  Five easy steps and you can be on your way to your very own Sherpa Tashi Wool Winter Hat, or whatever floats your boat.  Visit www.getchunkit.com to download ChunkIt! in seconds, or to see the multitude of other applications this powerful search tool has.

To see the Chunk Store feature in action, check out this video narrated by our fellow intern Brian: