bad album covers, now with commentary, part 1.

I've seen lists like this before on various web sites. Ten awful album covers and commentary that is sometimes witty and sometimes not. I find that with this list, I miss the commentary, because it means I have to come up with my own jokes. Even bad jokes are better than thinking in my free time. Then I thought of all the people in the world who aren't funny at all, and how they're struggling right now to think of something funny to say, but all they've got is, "Uh, wow, I mean, that guy's dumb and uh, his hair is really seventies looking. Huh-huh." So here is some commentary, so that the humor-impaired among you can rest your poor unfunny brain. Note that I don't guarantee any of this is funny, but again, it's better than thinking in your free time.

I didn't make this list, and so I'm not responsible for the selection. It doesn't seem to be in any particular order. I will also state that some of these album covers aren't that bad. I mean, they're bad, but it's more of a normal, run-of-the-mill bad as opposed to eye-gougingly bad. In fact, I would like to submit my own entry. I don't have the album cover, because it was one of my ex-boyfriend's and it hardly seems appropriate to ask for it now. But you don't need the cover, only the title: Don Raper's Songs for Women.

There are 50 in this list, so I'll be doing this in installments because most of you probably cannot handle that much cheese. If you're feeling brave (and if the link still works), you can check out the full list.

One last disclaimer: a bad album cover does not necessarily mean a crappy album. But it probably does. Let's begin!

1. Cody Matherson - "Can I Borrow A Feelin?"
Is he asking to borrow one of my emotions or simply to grope me? Looking at ole Cody here, it seems apparent that he made this album for his little wife, Doreen, as a wedding/prom present. Doreen's a lucky lady, and whenever Cody asks if he can borrow a feelin', she says yes.

2. The Many Facets of Roger
It's really too bad that some of Roger's many (i.e. six) facets didn't include shirts which buttoned up all the way. Also, I charge that Facets 3, 4, and 6 (starting at top left corner and going clockwise here) are all saying "Aw, honey, you know you love you some Roger!" Facet 1 would like you to repeat what you just said because he didn't quite catch it, while Facet 5 seems to be wondering what that spot is on the carpet. Facet 2 demands that you take Roger seriously as an artist.

3. Orion Reborn
I think the worst poor decision in the making of this cover (and there were many) was to have one color for the shirt, pants, and background. I suspect it's the exact shade of blue that is used to project the weather map on the background screen for the six o' clock news. Maybe Orion knew a guy at the local TV station and asked to borrow the set for this photo shoot. Then he brought this excellent mask that he bought during his Mardi Gras vacation...in Boise.

4. The Frivolous Five - Sour Cream & Other Delights
"Look at all this sour cream going to waste! And we didn't even buy it on sale! We're so frivolous!" Seriously, I'm totally okay with this one, even though the one in the middle back sort of reminds me of my late Aunt Sally. Some old women wear purple, others wear dairy products. However, given the age of these ladies, I do wonder if maybe this record isn't just a bunch of recipes set to music.

5. Harry and Terry - Live
This list features multiple ventriloquism records, and apparently we're to understand that puppets are silly and tacky and loserly. I do not understand that, and I think puppets are silly in a good way, awesome, and super cool. I do wish that this particular puppet (not sure if it's Harry or Terry) didn't look quite so drunk. Also, let's take a moment and ponder whether a puppet act works on a solely audio medium. It worked for Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, but then again they were talented and had W.C. Fields to crack jokes on. I fear Harry and Terry are not so lucky.

6. The Handless Organist - Truly a Miracle of God
For a minute, I thought this one was just on the list because it was so old-looking. I misread it as "Handel's Organist" and figured she was playing "The Messiah" or something. Then I did a classic double-take and realized that this woman has no hands. And of course I felt bad for her, showing up on this mean list when she looks so happy and she can play the organ. I can't do that, and I have hands. Marvelous, wonderful hands that I do not thank enough for all they do for me. Thank you, hands!

7. The Stanley Johnson Orchestra - Have Harp Can't Travel
I sorta like this one, though my official opinion depends on whether the actual harpist in the Stanley Johnson Orchestra is a midget or if they're just making fun of midgets. The first idea is actually pretty neat, while the second is overdone. Yeah, ha ha, midgets, they're really short. Next, please.

8. Les Baxter - Space Escapade
Alien women were a big thing in bad movies during a particular time period, I guess comparable to the island of lonely Amazons of Greek epics. I've seen several of this sort of movie, and so maybe I'm becoming immune to it, because this album cover doesn't seem all that bad to me. Cheesy and dated, yes, but so will many things seem in fifty years. I like that the alien women have slinkies on their heads, perhaps signifying that they too go down stairs, alone or in pairs.

9. Music for Bathroom Baritones, Bathing Beauties
Check out the text at the bottom: Compliments of your American Standard plumbing contractor. The job description of a plumber apparently used to included serenading clients. Those were the days.

10 Merrill Womach - Happy Again
Like the Handless Organist, this is another person overcoming physical disabilities through faith and being mocked in return. Poor Merrill Womach, first his parents give him that awful name, then he loses the job at Chernobyl, but hey, he's happy again, and I say more power to him.

Part 2


robbing from the poor.

Some people think that it is unethical to shop at thrift stores if you are not poor, as if the items at Goodwill were reserved for those with low income. This entry is not for them, but for the rest of you, in case you ever run into someone who has such an attitude. You can then educate them about why you make the choice to buy used.

Honestly, I think it's a bit odd that there is such a stigma attached to buying used clothes or housewares. No one looks askance at you if you buy a used car. And surely poor people do buy used cars. At what price tag does being smart and thrifty become being cheap and unethical?

You may not convince anyone. A lot of the problem is that people don't want to be thought of as poor. They would rather overpay then have someone think that they are in financial trouble. And so you may have the better argument, but the other person can't get over their hangups. That's fine. It's not your job to change everyone, but it's worth your time to at least show them the other side of things.

There are lots of responses. First, the slightly-heartless response: The poor people had just as much opportunity to buy the $4 pair of jeans that I did. There was nothing keeping them from it and my financial situation gave me no advantages to finding and purchasing the jeans. If a poor person were to come in the store after I purchased the jeans, they would likely be able to find another pair just fine. A thrift store is not like a soup kitchen. I've never gone to a Goodwill and seen them be completely out of jeans.

Next, the very trendy Green response. Everyone agrees with that whole Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle thing they started teaching when we figured out we had limited resources. Buying used is reusing. If something is still in usable condition, then use it. The less we buy new, the less companies will make, and the less that will end up in a landfill.

Finally, here's the response that I think is most compelling. Nearly all thrift stores are non-profits, and their proceeds go to charity programs. The Salvation Army provides disaster relief, free drug and alcohol rehab, and youth programs. Goodwill trains disabled people for jobs so that they can become self-sufficient, contributing members of society. There are probably thousands of non-chain thrift stores that do charity work on a local level. By shopping at these thrift stores, you are supporting their causes. You are enabling the store itself to stay in business, as well as contributing to their various programs. Buying your Levi's new isn't helping anyone except Levi stockholders. Compared to those guys, I am poor.

So there. I am not cheap, but socially and environmentally responsible. You can always suggest that the other person buy their jeans at Goodwill and then take the price difference and donate that to charity. We'll see how they like that suggestion.


who is john kerry?

I was thinking about John Kerry the other day, and it made me feel very old. I suppose it's nothing specific to him. It's everything that has been in the news while I've been alive to remember it.

When I was little, I would watch Jeopardy with my mom and think she must be about the smartest person in the world, aside from my dad, who was a scientist. She knew all the answers, even when those silly people on the program didn't know them. I was awed by her knowledge of history in particular, and her ability to remember a bunch of obscure names that were the headings of only one-column entries in the encyclopedia.

But then I was thinking about John Kerry, and about how in 30 years or so, he will come up on Jeopardy as one of the harder questions. By then, he'll be a mostly-forgotten senator who ran for president and lost. The clue will probably mention that he was a Vietnam veteran. And then I'll know the answer, because I remember old John Kerry, and my children will be agog. They will think that I am the smartest mother ever. And it won't be because I'm smart, just that I'm old
enough to have been there and remember it. They'll ask me how I knew it, and I could try and explain about the good ole days back in the early 2000s, but they'll have stopped listening by then, the rotten ingrates.

I don't wish to say that my mother was never smart and only incredibly old. She's still really smart and only kinda old.


all the good ones are taken.

I haul myself out of the dumpster and start taking inventory. A nice towel, a desk fan, a couple of plastic cups. Nothing too exciting, but then again, not bad for free stuff. College kids are so wasteful that it makes me angry, except that it also provides me with lots of linens, kitchenware, and office supplies. I pack up the smaller items in the towel hobo style, then walk around to the long end of the
dumpster to start gathering the items Josh threw over the side. He's still hidden inside, poking through bags of actual trash and non-trash.

"Anything good?" asks an unfamiliar voice. I turn around to see a guy walking towards us from one of the dorms nearby.

"Not too bad," I answer, wondering if this dude actually is a diver. He climbs up the side and looks in as Josh stands up amid the discarded term papers and takeout boxes.

"Nah," the stranger says as he hops down and walks away quickly. Josh climbs out and smiles at me.

"He didn't have what it takes."


"He sure liked you, though."

Maybe so. Guys do stupid things for girls, but do they jump into dumpsters? If he hadn't caught sight of my boyfriend just then, would that dude have soiled his shoes in the discarded pizzas of others? I suppose I have someone that just jumped into a dumpster with me, but I suspect he would have done that anyway. Josh starts laughing.

"That poor guy."

"Yeah, he must be pretty desperate. I look terrible." I'm wearing ratty clothes and the grime and sweat of a Sunday afternoon. I haven't washed my hair all weekend.

"And you just got out of a dumpster. Maybe since it's the end of the school year he's worried because he hasn't gotten a girl yet."

I'm not sure how I feel about my own boyfriend laughing at another dude for wanting to get to know me better, but I have to admit it's pretty hilarious. I laugh, too, wondering if the poor guy walked away thinking that all the good ones are taken.


not a movie review: incubus

I've written a couple of movie non-reviews, and I've written about my fondness for really bad movies. The movies I've talked about here have been good movies that I recommended. So I thought I'd talk about a bad movie, and then recommend that, too, just in case any of my readers also enjoy watching a wretched film and making fun of it. Today's movie is Incubus.

To sum up: Marc is a war hero who is now living on a farm with his sister. The farm is near a well said to have rejuvenating powers. It's not so much a fountain of healing but a fountain of making you slightly prettier. As a result, lots of vain sinners come to the well and so some succubi hang out there to tempt them with nakedness and take their souls. But then a particularly ambitious succubus sets her sights on Marc, who is a good guy. The other succubus warns her to stay away from war heroes and other holy types, but she doesn't listen. A skirmish in the battle of good versus evil ensues.

So while this movie sounds kinda stupid or maybe it sounds like it could have potential with the right script, let me add two things into the mix.
  1. It stars a young William Shatner.
  2. It's entirely in Esperanto.

For those of you who do not know about Esperanto, allow me to explain. A long time ago, a ophthalmologist thought it would be a great idea if there were a universal language. So you know, we could all speak to each other instead of having to rely on third-party translators. They invented Esperanto. While it's a pretty good idea, it won't work if the language doesn't catch on, and that's what happened. Esperanto is a great idea that failed. It's like Communism, but without all the association of killing and stuff.

This movie does have one thing going for it, and that's the cinematography. The guy responsible for that later went on to be responsible for some actually good movies, like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and America Beauty. So there are lots of really interesting shots in Incubus. One particularly beautiful scene is shot from inside a dark house. All you can see is what's outside the window, where Shatner is walking around in some waving wheat. There are gorgeous shots like that throughout. But it's not enough to save the movie from itself. You can have a great cinematogrpaher, but you'll probabably want a decent screenwriter and director, too.

Despite the surreal mix of Esperanto and Captain Kirk, in the end, Incubus is just a bad movie, with all the classic bad movie elements. The script is poorly-written and unnatural (could be due to translation), the plot is confusing, there are scenes that are pointless, and really the only redeeming character in the movie, Shatner's sister, comes to a miserable end. You spend several minutes watching people just walk around without talking, which surely could have been edited. Later you're not even sure if someone was raped or not, but at least you know how many oak trees they walked by!

Some of the scenes are just laughable. At the end, the succubus wrestles a goat for her soul. I know, I know, it's symbolism. But it's still a goat - a big, black billy goat, likely gruff. My dad has a pet goat that looks similar. It's just hard to take the scene seriously. Will she save her soul? Will she escape the evil clutches of her former master? Will the devil begin nibbling on her robe?

I think the funniest part, though, is all the scenes where people are looking for Shatner. First his sister is looking for him, then the succubus, then the sister again. They're all calling out to him, using his Esperanto name.




And so Josh and I answered, every time, "Polo!" Wikipedia doesn't know how old the swimming pool game is, and so it could be just an unfortunate coincidence that these scenes so hilariously resemble a water tag game. But you can't watch the scene without thinking about summers in the community pool.

If you don't enjoy watching really awful movies, then don't watch this one. You'll get bored and frustrated. However, if your idea of a good time consists of making joke after joke at the expense of a terrible piece of film-making, then here's your Saturday night. Polo!