Posts Tagged ‘Justin Bieber

Who’s Bigger?

- February 3rd, 2014

 

Whos-Bigger

 

No, this isn’t about you and me.

 

GAME ALERT: Yes, there’s an actual game a little further down.

 

Who’s Bigger? is the name of a book just published by two American computer scientists, Steven Skiena and Charles B. Ward, certified geniuses who usually spend their time designing complex abstract algorithms for things like DNA sequencing and figuring out mathematical models to beat the odds in Vegas.

Read more…

Colin Powell Killed Call Me Maybe (But Not In A Good Way)

- June 13th, 2012

CarlyRaeJepsen

That minor pop culture phenomenon known as “Call Me Maybe” died a horrible death Wednesday morning.

 

Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell killed it. Live. On television.

 

As you’re aware, “Call Me Maybe” is B.C. singer Carly Rae Jepsen’s great little pop song — hummable, strummable and danceable — that has reached No. 1 on the music charts in Canada, the U.S., Australia, Britain and half a dozen other European countries at various times over the past six or eight months.

Combo

But it’s bigger than that. It’s become the punchline of jokes, the inspiration for a variety of used-to-be-intriguing calling cards (Hint: If you didn’t do it two months ago, don’t even think about doing it now), one of the most popular ringtones in the world and — most importantly — the starting point for an ever-growing crop of terrific cover versions on YouTube.

 

Actually, I don’t really mean “cover” versions — I mean smart, original pantomimes set to Carly Rae’s singing.

 

The first one — probably the most important one — was done even before the “official” song video was released.

 

That would be the one that early fans Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez did back in January in a house-party version with a bunch of friends. The Biebs cover was posted on YouTube in February and now has well over 40 million hits on YouTube.

Bieberversion

Carly Rae’s official “Call Me Maybe” video was released in early March. Thankfully it’s had twice as many hits as the Bieber-Gomez version — about 82 million the last time I looked.

officalcarly

But, even though I like it, it’s not THE favourite of my favourite versions.

 

My MOST favourite version DOES feature Carly Rae singing, but it’s a live version recorded with nine people crammed into a small dressing room just before she appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon a couple of weeks ago.

JimmyFallonversion

There’s Carly Rae and there’s Jimmy and there’s the entire Roots house band crammed into the dressing room. And they’re playing goofy elementary school  instruments like triangle (Carly Rae) and tambourine (Jimmy) and bongos and ukelele and mini-xylophone. And it’s great. Really, really great.

 

My second most-favourite version would have to be the 2012 Harvard University baseball team version. You know the one, with these straight-faced, straight-arrow ball players popping up and down and lip-synching the song while they’re driving to a game in a maxi-van.

HarvardCoverVid

Then came the rebuttal from the women’s rowing team of Southern Methodist University (better known as SMU) in Texas. It’s great too — but not as great.

SMUrowing

That opened a floodgate: Every university sports team in North America did their/its versions — but we just don’t care about them. Sorry. Too many. Too late. (Just like the “Call Me Maybe” calling/business cards — I’m telling you: Don’t do it.)

There was even a Photoshopped (or whatever the video equivalent is) version featuring Barack Obama and Mitt Romney mugging the song in a van. I have too much pride to link to it but here’s a framegrab.

romney-obama

And then came the end. Armageddon. The grisly, awful death of “Call Me Maybe.”

 

WARNING: If you haven’t heard this version of the song and want to still hum it in your head on occasion, don’t read any further.

 

That terrible event came early Wednesday morning when Colin Powell, Secretary of State in the first George W. Bush administration, appeared on CBS This Morning for an interview with Charlie Rose.

 

During a commercial break, Powell began singing “Call Me Maybe” — terribly. Which would have been okay if it had stayed a private moment of personal embarrassment. But it didn’t.

NOTE: I’ve buggered something up so the above link goes to the SMU vid again — and I can’t change it. But here’s the right link to bad, bad Colin Powell.

ColinPowellCallMeMaybe

Somewhere in the CBS techtronic empire, someone recorded the riffing Powell from the raw network feed of the morning show. And posted it on YouTube.

 

And that is how “Call Me Maybe” died.

 

It doesn’t matter if Carly Rae blows the audiences away on the Bieber “Believe” tour this fall and winter.

 

It just doesn’t matter. Because nobody who ever hears Colin Powell sing “Call Me Maybe” — like your tone-deaf Uncle Phil’s karaoke version of Copacabana — will be able to get that audio and visual nightmare out of his or her head.

 

So thank you very much, Colin Powell. Why couldn’t you have just kept your mouth shut? Sort of like you did when W. invaded Iraq.

 

Flipping The Bird To M.I.A.’s Finger

- February 8th, 2012

I may be the only person in the world who didn’t see M.I.A. flip the bird to the Super Bowl multitudes.

 

Doesn’t bother me. I never heard of M.I.A. before and hopefully never will again now that’s she’s had her five seconds of fame.

 

What does bother me is that she somehow misappropriated a fine finger gesture with a noble heritage and used it for her own calculated, crass, publicity-seeking ends. Shame on you, M.I.A.

 

And shame on NBC and the NFL for apologizing about the gesture. They should apologize for giving M.I.A. a massive international platform on which to abuse the gesture. But “the finger” itself is blameless — honourable, in fact.

 

“Flipping the bird”  or “giving the finger” has been recorded as an expression of rude derision since the time of the ancient Greeks and was probably in use long, long before that.

One might almost say it’s a primordial instinct.

 

The_Finger

 

I’m not going to get into the origins of the gesture (and the related British “two-finger salute”) because, frankly, no one knows for sure where or how it came into common usage. And it just doesn’t matter.

v-sign-winston-churchill-fisherman

It’s one of those things that is so right and so righteous (when used properly, of course) that Moses may as well have brought it down from the mountain along with those tablets.

 

The key element that makes a bird properly flipped or a finger properly given is a sense of real, heartfelt outrage.

 

Angry-finger

Sometimes it’s joyously obscene or just plain frivolous, but usually giving the finger is so far away from any sexual connotation as to be essentially unconnected.

willie-nelson

 

At its best, the finger (or fingers, if you’re British) is a spontaneous gesture of such genuine and immediate sentiment that it cuts deeper than any word or weapon.

 

middlefinger

And it’s an underdog gesture. Flipping the bird is an expression of defiance, of resistance, of unbending, unwavering opposition to the target of the flippage.

 

It’s generally a gesture of the oppressed, not the oppressor, which is why it’s gotten an undeserved bad rap in “polite” (read “dominant”) society.

 

You’ll never see royalty or a president flip the bird.

bush-finger

 

middle-finger-obama

Oh, never mind.

 

But the fact remains that for the finger to be effective, it should be from the heart and express a deep, personal antagonism. Not a flash of irritable pique from a spoiled celebrity.

 

justin-bieber-middle-finger

Oh, never mind.

And you really can’t do rock ‘n’ roll in any of its forms without having at least one obligatory bird-flipping photo in your press kit.

billie-joe-armstrong-finger

70517-madonna

dan_hicks-1

tupac-finger

iggy-pop-middle-finger

lady-gaga-finger

 

KURT-COBAIN

Keith-Richards

Anybody (even a Godfather or a grandmother) can flip the bird — it’s the great equalizer (and it’s always at your fingertips when you need it).

marlon-brando-godfather-bird

granny

Now I’m going to show you a few photos, many of which you will have seen before, of various people flipping the bird in an appropriate matter. In most cases, I’ll tell you a little story with each photo.

realkid

Most people know this photo: It’s an Internet classic. What you probably don’t know is where the photo was taken and who the kid is.

 

Reuters photog Jasper Juinen made the image at the 2002 UEFA Cup soccer/football final between Holland’s Feyenoord Rotterdam and Germany’s Borussia Dortmund in Feyenoord’s home stadium.

 

The kid is Mikey Wilson, then five years old, and he’s wearing a Feyenoord jersey so I think it’s safe to say Mikey’s flipping the bird to German fans on the other side of the stadium. Feyenoord won the match 3-2 over the favoured Germans, so maybe Mikey’s never-say-die attitude in the stands carried over on the pitch.

 

Steve-McQueen

I just like this shot of Steve McQueen giving the British two-finger salute in the 1971 racing film Le Mans.

Eva-Mendes

And I like this shot of actress Eva Mendes flipping a double eagle to someone in a restaurant. Actually I think the birds are meant for the photographer taking this picture and she’s just turning away from the camera. But it must have been interesting for the people (you can see one) sitting on the other side of glass to ponder why this beautiful angry stranger was gesticulating wildly at them.

 

Now let’s move on to fingers in the news.

 

Less than two weeks after the 9/11 World Trade Center disaster in 2001, New York City was again hit by terror attacks — this time in the form of bio-terrorism. Letters laced with deadly anthrax spores were mailed to newspapers and TV news organizations in New York and Florida.

 

A few weeks later, more anthrax letters were sent to the offices of U.S. congressmen. In all, 22 people were infected and five died.

 

This front-page photo from the New York Post shows editorial assistant Johanna Huden, the first person who contracted the skin form of anthrax on her finger when she opened the Post letter. It expressed the whole city’s defiance and determination in the face of repeated assaults by unknown, unseen terrorists.

anthrax_this

(The FBI investigation eventually focused on a U.S. government scientist, who killed himself as a result. The case was closed and no further anthrax attacks occurred — but we’ll never know for sure if Bruce Edwards Ivins was the perp.)

 

In a way Johanna’s finger flexing showed the same spirit of “carry on” as Churchill’s V-for-victory wartime gesture.

 

winston_churchill_two_finger

 

And then there was the London Sun’s 1990 response to Jacques Delors when the then-president of the European Union suggested that one central EU government should supercede Britain’s Parliament and other national governments.

 

Sun-1991-Up-yours-Delors

 

The front page was the subject of a number of complaints to Britain’s Press Council (mainly regarding the Sun’s perceived anti-French racism). But, as the BBC later said: “(T)he now defunct Press Council cleared the newspaper after (the Sun) said it reserved the right to use vulgar abuse whenever it felt it justified in the interests of the British people.”

 

Hear, hear. Three cheers for “vulgar abuse” in defence of the realm.

 

But my favourite bird-flipping photo is this spontaneous shot of Johnny Cash.

 

johnny-cash-middle-finger

 

Here’s what I had to say about Johnny’s bird in an unrelated Nosey Parker blog post from last August:

 

“This iconic picture was taken in 1969 by rock photog Jim Marshall at one of Johnny’s San Quentin prison concerts. Marshall later said he told Cash ‘John, let’s do a shot for the warden’ and this is what he got.

 

“Cash used this photo for an ad in Billboard (below) a couple of decades later as a back-handed ‘thank you’ to the Nashville music establishment and country radio after he won the 1997 Best Country Album Grammy without their help or support.”

Johnny-Billboard

 

So no, M.I.A., you can’t have the bird. It’s not yours to claim and never will be.

 

On behalf of Johnny Cash, little Mikey Wilson and every other person who has flipped the bird and meant it, who has given the finger to tyranny or tedium and lived with the consequences, I reclaim the bird.

But now, on the count of three, we’re all giving the bird to you, M.I.A. Enjoy.

›››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››

Oh, what the heck — let’s look at some more photos of celebrities flipping the bird (some in fun, some in annoyance at the invasion of privacy, some simply because they have fingers) just to completely remove any modicum of chance that M.I.A. still comes to mind when you hear the phrase “flipping the bird.”

joan-rivers-middle-finger-

Joan Rivers

madonna

Madonna again (heck it was her show that M.I. A. stole, so I think she deserves extra space here)

ashton-kutcher

Ashton Kutcher

mickey-rourke

Mickey Rourke

queen-latifah

Queen Latifah

 

avril-lavigne-bird

Avril Lavigne

 

kirstie-alley-gives-the-finger

Kristie Alley (really, she’s still a celeb)

HeidiKlum

Heidi Klum (long before she met Seal, so it’s not aimed at him)

 

ozzy-osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne

rihanna

Rihanna

jodie-foster-flipping-bird

And finally Jodie Foster, just because she’s got the longest middle finger I’ve ever seen — a finger meant to flip a bird. Actually, I just noticed most of the women here have longer middle fingers than the men. But that’s a subject for another day.

 

 

50 Fearless Predictions For 2012

- December 27th, 2011

 

I’ve never bragged about it, but I have a real gift for seeing into the future.

 

Want proof? I haven’t invested in the U.S. real estate market or Greek government bonds in recent years and I have never flown on an airplane that has crashed (while I was on it).

 

I’ve decided to share my vision of the coming year with you; and I guarantee that just as many of my predictions will come true as those of many more famous psychics, seers and prophets.

 

Here’s a link to a psychic clearinghouse of 2012 predictions if you want to keep score.

 

I also guarantee that some of my predictions will be as outlandish and unbelievable  as any predictions you might read in the supermarket magazines over the next week or two.

 

You may laugh (I actually hope you do, at least a few times) but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Here goes nothing.

 

 

I PREDICT:

Exploding-world

1. The world will NOT end on Dec. 21, 2012, the date some kooks, charlatans and deluded dupes say the Mayan Long Count Calendar foretells as the end of time. (How can I miss on this one? If I’m wrong, no one will be around to point fingers.)

 

Harold-Camping

2. I predict, however, that the world WILL end in 2012 for doomsday forecaster Harold Camping. Not for the rest of the world, mind you — just for 90-year-old Harold. I know that sounds harsh and vindictive toward an old geezer but don’t forget crazy Harold claimed twice — twice! — in 2011 that the Apocalypse was knocking on heaven’s door and most of the rest of us were going to hell. (Harold blew both his  shots at predicting the world’s end, so I get two shots at predicting Harold Camping’s end if I happen to have misinterpreted the timing of his demise on this first occasion.)

 

jon-bon-jovi

3. Jon Bon Jovi will NOT die in 2012 (or in 2011, for that matter).

 

4. A celebrity you thought was already dead WILL die.

Kim-Jong-Il-corn

5. Kim Jong-il will be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize — just for dying.

 

kim-kardashian-glasses

6. Kim Kardashian will be offered the dictatorship of North Korea but will turn the job down because it doesn’t pay as well as unreality TV. (Or maybe she’ll try it out for 72 days, then cancel. She’s certainly got the sunglasses thing — and the attitude — going on.)

 

bradley_cooper

7. People magazine will see the error of its ways and declare someone (anyone!) other than Bradley Cooper “Sexiest Man Alive.”

 

George-Clooney

8. That person will NOT be George Clooney (in 2012, anyway).

 

britney

9. Britney Spears will get married again in 2012, just to see if anyone cares. No one will except Jason Alexander. Whether or not this one lasts longer than 55 hours (the duration of her 2004 marriage to Jason Alexander) … well, does it really matter?

 

10. Ben & Jerry will unveil a new ice cream flavour. ( Hard to beat “Schweddy Balls’’ — their September 2011 tribute to Alec Baldwin.)

charlie_sheen_winning

11. Charlie Sheen will officially become Last Year’s Flavour.

 

ashton

12. Ashton Kutcher will be, by general consensus, Last Year’s Non-Flavour.

 

selena-gomez-justin-bieber

13. Justin Bieber will secretly hope in 2012 that someone (anyone!) else claims he is capable of fathering a child.

 

14. More baby boys born in 2012 will be named Justin than Charlie and Ashton combined.

 

madonna-biceps

15. Madonna‘s biceps will calcify.

 

16. Someone on the payroll of the 2012 winning Super Bowl team will be named Bubba.

 

17. Commissioner Bud Selig will say or do something to embarrass Major League Baseball — but he probably won’t realize what he’s done.

 

keon67

18. The Toronto Maple Leafs will not win the Stanley Cup.

 

19. The Montreal Canadiens will not win the Stanley Cup.

 

20. The Ottawa Senators will not win the Stanley Cup.

 

21. The Winnipeg Jets will not win the Stanley Cup.

 

22. The Calgary Flames will not win the Stanley Cup.

 

23. The Edmonton Oilers will not win the Stanley Cup.

 

24. The Vancouver Canucks will … dang, crystal ball just went fuzzy … NOT win the Stanley Cup.

 

obama-sad

25. Barack Obama will be re-elected president of the United States.

 

26. The U.S. will not be a better place because Obama is re-elected.

 

27. The world will not be a better place because Obama is re-elected.

 

28. Neither the U.S. nor the world would be a better place if Obama’s Republican opponent were to be elected president.

 

vlad-putin

29. Vladimir Putin will become president of Russia again in 2012 (note that I didn’t say “be elected”).

 

30. The world will be a worse place because Putin is re-presidented.

 

31. The names Gates, Buffett and Walton will appear on the 2012 list of richest people in the world.

 

32. Steve Jones will not be the host of X-Factor USA for the 2012 season.

 

simon-cowell-tongue

33. Simon Cowell will cry like a baby on live TV.

 

(I’m probably batting .500 on #32 and #33. I’ll wait until next year’s predictions to tell you there will be no third season of X-Factor USA.)

 

Higgs-boson

34. The Vatican will begin the canonization process for the Higgs boson.

 

35. London, England, will be the #1 tourist destination in the world during the month of August.

 

36. Either China or the United States will win the most medals at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

 

37. At some point during 2012, more than 200 people in Toronto will realize that their city is hosting the 42nd Chess Olympiad in 2016.

 

gaga-on-stage

38. Bob Dylan will tour in 2012. So will Lady Gaga.

 

Elvis-jumpsuit

39. Elvis will not (although his 1973 white jumpsuit WILL go on tour. Really).

Stephen-Harper

40. Stephen Harper will improve his Dr. Evil impression in 2012.

michael-myers

41. Mike Myers will improve his Stephen Harper impression.

 

42. Dalton McGuinty will waste billions of taxpayer dollars in 2012 but you will still like him.

 

43. Stephen Harper will save billions of taxpayer dollars in 2012 but you will still dislike him.

 

44. Stephen King will publish a best-selling novel.

 

45. You and I will not (but we could if we really wanted to, right?)

 

Steven-Spielberg

46. Steven Spielberg will direct at least one movie that garners at least two Academy Award nominations.

 

47. You and I? Not a chance (no, not even a teensy one).

 

48. Rob Ford will forget his own name at least once during 2012. (Prove me wrong.)

 

Beach-Boys

49. The Beach Boys will reunite in 2012 for a new album and a 50-date world tour to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their first album. (Harold Camping will not be invited to attend, but Brian Wilson will still hear Harold’s voice in his head while singing “Run Devil Run.”)

 

2012

50. To make up for all the bad things that are going to happen to us during 2012, we’re going to get a free extra day — just out of the blue. I predict this is going to happen in late February, possibly early March. (Even Harold Camping is going to get the bonus day as long as he promises not to predict Armageddon again before then.)

 

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

 

Now here are five serious 2012 predictions you can take to the bank (unless you live in Greece or Italy — in which case you can stuff these predictions in your mattress or take them to a bank in Switzerland):

 

1. The Euro crisis will continue.

 

2. The price of oil will decline.

 

3. The price of wheat will increase.

 

4. China’s economy will slow down.

 

5. You and I will get older (if we’re lucky — or maybe unlucky, depending on how much of  the world’s bad 2012 kharma rubs off on us).