reasons to be a controversial human being.

This Day in History

On This Day in History: June 13th

i·ro·ny1    /ˈaɪrəni, ˈaɪər-/ [ahy-ruh-nee, ahy-er-]
a. a technique of indicating, as through character or plot development, an intention or attitude opposite to that which is actually or ostensibly stated.

On this day in history, June 13, 1995, a little scorned lady named Alanis taught us the meaning, or lackthereof, of the word ironic on her album, Jagged Little Pill. She railed against affable Full House actors, lamented about rain on her wedding day and gave all those teenage girls the anti-dude canadaian nutso album that they’ve been looking for.

So here’s to you Alanis. May your great work live on in equally angsty pop-friendly artists like Christina Perri.

And in tribute to you, Canadian Wonder, I’ll post the greatest thing you’ve ever done: Cover the black eyed peas.


On This Day in History : August 2nd

This is the song that never ends.
Yes it goes on and on my friends.
Some people, started singing it not knowing what it was,
but they’ll continue singing it forever just because….

Shari Lewis was a paragon of children’s programming. And on this day, August 2nd, we celebrate her passing 12 years ago.

There are certain childhood experiences that are ingrained in a generation. For me, its programs like the Magic School Bus and Lambchop’s Play-Along that really bring home that childhood nostalgia like few other things can. Even looking at kids programming today, it just seems there’s a heavy reliance on bright colors, flashing lights and really strange characters. There’s no sense of sing-a-long anymore, and that makes me really sad.

When i was five or six I used to wake up at obscene hours. Every morning I would run downstairs into the family room and pop in my absolute hands down favorite ever cassette tape, Shari Lewis and Lambchop “Don’t Wake Your Mom”. The plotline is simple. Your mom is sleeping, don’t wake her up.

And every morning I would put the tape into the stereo, turn the volume on full blast, and sing at the top of my lungs. And every morning my mother would sleepily come down the stairs and we would have this epic exchange:

Linda: Matthew.
Matthew: Yes.
Linda: What are you listening to?
Matthew: Don’t wake your mom.
Linda: And what did you just do?
Matthew: ……..

If you think to shows like Yo Gabba Gabba it’s hard to imagine the simple things that kept our imaginations running wild. For example:

A former Star Trek cast member

A Popsicle Stick

A Man whose only job was to take sweaters and loafers on and off

An Island Frog

Whatever Allegra Was

And what do the kids have today…well…..

We salute you Shari. For making a few puppets our best friends and ventriloquism so much less creepy than it actually is.

On This Day in History: May 24th

Happy Birthday Robert Allen Zimmerman!

On This Day in History: May 17th

On this day in history, May 17th, in the year of our lord Nineteen Hundred and Fifty-Five a great man was born. And although the world has not recognized his greatness for what it truly is, William Paxton has truly made a lasting impression on this, our great nation (when he’s not being confused for the other great American acting institution, William Pullman)

Sir Bill Paxton has taught us lesson after lesson through the years. Let’s take a look at what you’ve taught us, Bill.

You taught us how to simultaneously chase down twisters and avoid Helen Hunt’s busted up face:

And who can forget your amazing sweater as the fake Robert Ballard in Titanic:

When it comes to Aliens, you knows when the game is over:

And you most certainly know the best way to take a fist to the face from the governor of California:

I mean what can you really say about the greatness and valor of a man who has the courage to appear in a Limp Bizkit music video in which a greasy whitebeater-clad Fred Durst yells at Thora Birth through a megaphone before spraying her with a hose?

So today, on your birthday, I celebrate you, Bill Paxton, for your courageous movie choices (Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams) and your endless confusions with Bill Pullman.

Here’s to you Wild Bill.

On This Day in History: April 19th

Oklahoma City.
At 9am on April 19th, 1995, Timothy McVeigh drove an explosives-filled truck into the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and taught me what the word terrorism meant for the very first time.

Killing 168 people, and one unidentified arm, McVeigh and his partner Terry Nichols made the most forceful anti-government statement since the Boston Tea Party, only this one had a body count.

Upset over the government’s handling of the Branch Dividians in Waco, Texas, McVeigh decided that he needed to send the government a message: You kill us, we kill you, which is why the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was his target. Why he chose to detonate the bomb under the building’s day-care center is question for him to answer to his god.

The bomb exploded as planned, and thus began my fascination with the threshold of tragedy. Waco, Jonestown, Columbine, Oklahoma City, 9/11 and the Amish Schoolhouse massacre were all absolute nightmare tragedies, simply the mere horrors of fiction. But I can’t help to feel a morbid fascination and detachment to these events.

Having suffered personal tragedy, I can deeply empathize and mourn with the loss of a life. One person dies and my heart breaks for them. But in looking at widespread death like the 168 at Oklahoma city or the over 900 at Jonestown, and I feel nothing. Nothing except for a need to know more information. A need to know why, and where and how and look at gory pictures and revel in fascinating details.

My grandmother will call me, without a doubt, the moment a tragedy like this hits the 24-hour news circuit. I vividly remember many lengthy long-distance phone calls where my grandmother and I would just sit on the phone with each other and watch Columbine happen, or watch the Jon Benet Ramsay case unfold. And it always made me feel better that I had someone to share my confusion and fascination with.

We as humans can only handle so much. When tragedy strikes our immediate family, we grieve, but when it strikes Oklahoma City, we gossip. And I think because, for all of its gifts, the human heart cannot simply handle that much sadness. To physically process the loss of life and sheer terror and grief that something like 9/11 and Oklahoma City brings about, our brains would literally have to shut down. We have a threshold for tragedy. We feel a deep loss when a beloved parish priest passes away, but when a bus full of children flips over, we say “Oh my god. What happened? Did they die? How shocking?” and then we relay the story to anyone who will listen.

So 15 years after the largest act of home-grown terrorism we’ve ever seen, what have we learned? Well we learned that the threshold for tragedy is only expanding. We thought that Oklahoma City was the worst. Then 9/11 happened. And everyday beloved grandmothers and deli owners and hairstylists and little brothers are dying and our hearts break for them, if only to shield us from horrors that the human heart cannot handle. On this day in history.

On This Day in History : April 12th

On April 12th, 1989 Garth Brooks released his first album, self-titled, Garth Brooks. And thus a country music / stadium pyrotechnic phenomena was born.

While Garth’s later albums will grace us with such hits as “The Thunder Rolls” and “I’ve Got Friends in Low Places”, his self-titled album gives us one of the schmaltziest and most emotionally manipulative country songs ever: “The Dance”.

With the melodrama of a Nicholas Sparks novel, “The Dance”, tells the story of a lover looking back on his lost love and finding himself thankful that even though he went through all the pain, he would have missed the chance to dance with his girl. The song is actually a well-written and deep hearted ballad, but when Garth sings it, it takes on this Arena-esque feeling that simply takes all of the magic out of the lyrics. You can almost hear waves of single women and their mothers overcome with grief as he strums those first chords, well someone strums because Garth can’t be bothered to really play any music, but nonetheless, the women weep. Then, said women open their pocketbooks and run to the store to buy the album, then to the concert, then to the store to get their man a cowboy hat just like Garth wears when he sings “The Dance”.

And I would love to post the song or perhaps a youtube video of Garth singing it, but, like the true asshole he really is, he will not allow his music to be leased both on iTunes and on Youtube. So if you want Garth Brooks, you gotta pay for it. But this video is the guy who actually wrote it. So kudos to you guy. Garth Brooks can suck it hard. Brought to you by This Day (April 12th, 1989) in History.