John Green Made Me Cry

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I realise that I skipped last Friday. This is because I am a disorganised mess who has spent at least one afternoon out of the last four curled up in a ball sobbing. Fear not. I am fine. A sobbing emotional trainwreck. But otherwise fine. The cause of my distress is a book by Mr John Green, called The Fault In Our Stars. Remember last Wednesday when I said I would eventually make a post about Young Adult literature? This is that post. Brace yourselves.

I love books and I love reading and I get really sad when people say “I don’t read” like it’s something that they’re proud of. You’re missing out on so many amazing things when you don’t pick up books. Specific to this post, you are missing John Green, who is a) the author of 4 YA novels and co-author of 2 more, b) master of a good title (others include Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines) and c) really excellent.

Most of Green’s books have made me cry at some point (because I become too emotionally attached to characters and don’t know what to do with myself). The Fault In Our Stars was particularly bad on the gross-crying front. It’s narrated by 16 year old cancer patient Hazel Grace, who is suffering from “thyroid originally but with an impressive and long-settled satellite colony in my lungs.” She meets Augustus, a fellow cancer patient who lost a leg to osteosarcoma. They hit it off, and not to spoil too much, they eventually fall in love.

Were I to give a blow-by-blow account of the plot, you probably wouldn’t pick this book up because it sounds about as uplifting as repeatedly smashing your face into a brick wall, but John Green is some sort of magical wizard person (or is very talented, take your pick) and has managed to make the book both funny and gut-wrenchingly sad all at once. It’s flipping brilliant even though it had me doing some weird combination of laughing and sobbing at the same time, which mostly just sounds like hiccuping punctuated by sniffling.

When he isn’t writing, John and his brother Hank post bi-weekly vlogs on their YouTube channel chatting about their week and various topics that John’s teenage readers aren’t supposed to care about. But they do. There’s a whole big flock of them, called Nerdfighters. They do a lot of cool stuff, raise heaps of money for charity and just preach general positivity (“Don’t forget to be awesome” being the group’s slogan.)

So, in spite of the fact that he made me cry a lot, John Green is not a bully. He is just a really good writer. If you’re a young adult and you’re looking for a place to start your love affair with books, this is a good one. I promise, it’s a good decision that doesn’t have to be limited to just reading. This has a whole community behind it that can be super fun and interesting and informative and supportive of your reading choices. Check out the Vlog Brothers (that would be Hank and John Green) here.

This blog with return to its usual snarky self when it has more time to do so.

Pub Rockin’

NOTE: Pop Culture Boner has a new home and a new podcast. You can listen here, if that’s your jam. 

Sorry this is so late going up. I got distracted reading Young Adult literature. Conincidentally, that will probably be the subject of an upcoming post because it comes under the heading of “Things You Need to Know About”. Anyway, moving on. I know that many of you lovely readers are Not Australian, so I try to keep my posts as general as possible so that we can all hang out. But sometimes there is some home-grown interestingness that requires my attention. This is one of those times.

Australians generally suffer from a kind of ‘cultural cringe’. That is to say, we often prefer imported culture (American or European television, music, art, movies etc) over things that are written and produced locally, striving under the impression that our own cultural output is somehow embarrassing. I am guilty of it. I can’t remember the last Australian film that I watched. But I do like live music. More specificially, I am a big fan of live music in pubs. Tragically, due to licensing laws and a bad economic climate, a number of Sydney’s best pubs/ live music venues are going under. And it is affecting my good time. The Annandale Hotel is a particular favourite of mine (I was there last Wednesday to see the Cloud Nothings and Violent Soho, both of whom I would recommend highly) but it’s been struggling to keep its head above water for quite some time. The floor is sticky. It smells like stale booze. There’s probably enough bodily fluids encrusted in the walls to construct a whole new human being. But it’s nice. It has character and history and, perhaps most importantly, it’s really close to my house which makes stumbling home slightly drunk and covered in sweat after being trapped in the middle of a mosh pit REALLY easy.

It looks like it’s going to fall in on your head, and maybe it will but you’d enjoy it, because it’s just got that much charm.

I consider pub rock to be one of Australia’s great cultural exports. You’re probably a fan without even knowing. So, to educate some of you sexy little foreingers in the ways of the pub rock, and remind the handful of Australian readers that you should go to a gig (if not tonight then tomorrow night, and if not tomorrow night then the night after, and so on and so forth), I present to you my top five Australian pub rock bands:

  1. ACDC – Really bloody obvious. Like REALLY obvious.Despite the fact that they’re old and Angus Young should really, really put that fucking schoolboy outfit away already, ACDC are one of Australia’s biggest pub rock exports. They fill out stadiums now, but for years in the 70s they were just up and down the East Coast of Australia playing in sticky, shitty falling down pubs.

    I chose this video because I am an unabashedly fan of “bad video acting” and this is a wonderful example. Also because it emphasises what a maniac Angus Young is.
  2. Hunters and Collectors – You probably like Hunters and Collectors without realising you like Hunters and Collectors. This is largely due to the fact that Pearl Jam covered one of their more anthemic songs. Have a little Throw Your Arms Around Me, for your afternoon

    Once when I was making a CD of Australian tunes for an American friend I asked my father what I should put on it. He said, “What’s that song? You know the one? Whenever it comes on the entire pub gets really emotional and starts hugging and singing along?”  He then proceeded to sing Throw Your Arms Around Me, in a really off-key fashion. I’m not saying that the song doesn’t kind of make people want to do that, I am simply suggesting that at some point my father has been really drunk in a pub screaming along to the Hunters and Collectors. (My father and I have that in common.)
  3. INXS – Again, just another really really obvious one. But I am sucker for handsome. The Australian pub rock scene is not
    reknowned for being populated with overly attractive men. They’re faces with…character? Michael Hutchence, on the other hand…

    Choosing to go with this video because the song is sexy and because it features a pretty impressive mullet (a staple of the Australian pub scene to this day).
  4. Divinyls – I don’t how people feel about the Divinyls being on a pub rock list, but technically their success is largely due to the fact that they were able to play consistently in small venues around Sydney. Ken Cameron had them provide the soundtrack for his film Monkey Grip after he saw them play in a pub in Kings Cross in 1982. I am also including them because I have a crush on Chrissy Amphlett.

    I know you were probably expecting me to put I Touch Myself as the chosen song, but I like this video better because Chrissy manages to be both sexy and terrifying at the same time and apparently that’s something I’m into. (My mother reads this blog. Hi, Mum. Have we spoken about my love of sexy and terrifying women yet? No? Maybe next phone conversation?)
  5. Australian Crawl – There a several other bands that I could (and probably should) include on this list over Australian Crawl, but I have a sentimental attachment to them and to the song Errol in particular. If I had to narrow down what was so notable about Australian Crawl, I would say it’s the fact that, in spite of writing songs with verses and choruses, each song contains about two or three comprehensible words which can be shouted at appropriate times so you can feel like you’re singing along. Unsure what I mean? Have a look.

    Oooooh Errol, I would give anything, just to be like him! And the rest mumbled. I am also very fond of the sheer awkwardness of this video. Why is the singer clothed in a room full of half naked women/half naked bandmates? Why does he look so upset about it? Why is he dancing in a jacuzzi? Why am I laughing so hard?

Right. There ends the lesson on pub rock. I hope you lovely foreign folk learned something. Australians, have you re-evaluated your relationship with small venues and live music in Sydney? Want to help out? GO TO A GODDAMN GIG. Find some friends. Pay the entry fee. Go. It’ll be fun. I promise. Also, if you’re interested in helping save the Annandale you can do so one brick at a time.

I Demand My Right to Nip Slips

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The Grammy Awards are coming up. I love the Grammy Awards. They are a ridiculous show of back patting and circle-jerking and, perhaps more importantly, they’re not as classy as the Oscars, so celebrities feel free to chuck on whatever ridiculous shit they feel like and call it fashion. There’s boobs and butts and boners everywhere and it’s wonderful. But the grinches over at CBS want to take all of that away from us. They have sent an email out to various people connected to the Grammys  guest list detailing exactly what they don’t want to see in 2013’s fashion frollicks.

  • “Please be sure that buttocks and female breasts are adequately covered.”
  • “Thong type costumes are problematic. Please avoid exposing bare fleshy undercurves of the buttocks and buttock crack.”
  • “Bare sides or under curvature of the breasts is also problematic. Please avoid sheer see-through clothing that could possibly expose female breast nipples.”
  • “Please ensure that the genital region is adequately covered so that there is no visible ‘puffy’ bare skin exposure.”
  • “Foreign language on the wardrobe will need to be cleared. OBSCENITY OR PARTIALLY SEEN OBSCENITY ON WARDROBE IS UNACCEPTABLE FOR BROADCAST.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a world where Lil Kim can’t show up to the Grammys and accept an award wearing nipple pasties as a dress.

Or a world where Diana Ross can’t then lend a hand on stage to support Kim’s one stray boob.

Does CBS not realise that the only reason people tune in to watch their boring-ass awards ceremony is for moments like these? That the rest of the ceremony is actually, as I said before, just a circle-jerk and none of the television watching public actually gives a shit?

As usual, the other thing that totally irritates me about this list is the fact that the whole thing is entirely directed at making sure that women aren’t “too sexy”. They actually emphasise the fact that we’re not allowed to expose “female breast nipples” or “the bare sides or under curvature of breasts.” Is it just me, or does that seem awfully specific? But then as soon as we get below the belt, they’re scared to say the word “vagina” – it becomes “puffy bare skin exposure”. I like to imagine the gentleman who wrote this as being fascinated by the word nipple, but struggling to come to terms with how to describe the labia. “Guys, guys! You know those things. The things ladies have? Yes the hoo-hoo. How would we describe the bits of the hoo-hoo, guys? Pillowy? No sounds too entincing. We don’t want to entice anyone. Heavens no! We can’t say vagina! Get out, Stevens! You’ve always been a wild card. Puffy? Puffy, works.”

Ladies, take notes: you have to look sexy, that’s a given, but it can’t be too sexy because we don’t want to offend anyone, but we also don’t want your outfits to be so boring that everyone gets slammed in the press and no one watches the show, so what we need you to do is find that elusive land directly in the middle of “virgin” and “whore” and if you cock it up we’ll crucify you.

I think Richard Marx summed it up better than I can really:

Richard Marx

Yeah, that’s right kids. Chris Brown is performing again this year. Enjoy!

Do You Get It Yet?! Do You?!

NOTE: Pop Culture Boner has a new home and a new podcast. You can listen here, if that’s your jam. 

Right, if you thought this blog post was going to be about something other than Beyonce’s Superbowl performance then you have come to the wrong blog. Having said that, it’s not going to be a rave blog about the performance itself, though that was pretty great. (My favourite part was when the rest of Destiny’s Child magically appeared out of the stage, like KABLAM! Anyway…) Have a look at this clip of the perfomance and tell me if you can spot what I love about it:

In case you didn’t notice BEYONCE’S ENTIRE BACKING BAND IS FEMALE and it is pretty much the best thing ever. I know you all came here for some mildly amusing pop culture snark but it’s time for me to put my serious hat on and talk about some real things. (My serious hat is a top hat with a peacock feather in it. It is very difficult to take me seriously, but please try.) If I say the word “musician” to you, what do you think of? If I say the words “guitarist” or “saxophonist” or “bassist”, who comes to mind? Tell you what, let’s Google “guitarist”, shall we?


OH LOOK. All of them are white men! Before you get antsy at me, I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with your favourite guitarist being a wrinkly old white dude. Wrinkly old white dudes have made some lovely music over the years. Some of them should have stopped. Rolling Stones, I am looking at you. If Keith keeps going he’s just going to crumble into dust on stage. But I digress. The problem is the lack of choice. The first thing anyone thinks of when they think of music is a bunch of dudes having a jam, which is cool if you’re going to age and become an old white dude, but significantly less cool if you have a vagina or are not white, for instance. So Beyonce has done something awesome and made an all-female backing band. They are called The Sugar Mamas and they are fabulous. Look at this video and tell me you’re not a little bit in love.

The gorgeous lady on the guitar is Bibi McGill. She’s also the musical director, so she’s responsible for making everything go off without a hitch. So she made everything go off without a hitch at the Superbowl and then did THIS:

…and nailed a damn guitar solo. She’s also a yoga instructor and runs her own business selling kale chips. If you were looking for a new hero, I think I may have found one.

Beyonce has said that the reason she put together an all female band is because growing up she wished she had more female role models to look up to musically. She’s done a phenomenal job of it. There’s a classically trained horn section, some incredible vocals, guitar, bass and drums and they’re all killing it. Then on top of that, there’s the 120-strong all-lady dance team that sashays across the stage whilst avoiding the pyrotechnics from Bibi’s guitar. There is not a single man on that stage and it’s greatest.

Realistically, we should just be talking about the fact that the band and Queen Bey just fucking nailed it and that once again, the half time show is more interesting than the football, but we’re not quite there yet. Unfortunately, it’s still surprising for some people when women play their instruments just as well, if not better than their male counterparts so I’ll be damned if I’m not going to make a post worshipping the ground that they walk on. Beyonce and the Sugar Mamas are the coolest. They are mega-talented and mega-beautiful. If Bibi McGill would like to call me so that I can confess my love in person rather than over the internet, I would totally be down for that. Until then, I’m just going to assume that everyone has accepted Beyonce as their lord and saviour. Amen.

All credits go to for the gif. If you click the image, it’ll take you to the article.

Music and Lyrics: The Stupidity Edition

NOTE: Pop Culture Boner has a new home and a new podcast. You can listen here, if that’s your jam. 

Last week I went to the pub (a shocking turn of events) and at some point, the night dissolved into my very talented friend Jamie doing impersonations of Creed. Creed impersonations are not, strictly speaking, Jamie’s main talent, although if the whole art thing doesn’t work out he could always make a living pretending to be Scott Stapp. But I digress. Eventually we got to talking about how lyrics that are really awful or make no sense what-so-ever often end up being hugely successful because the singer puts a bunch of unnecessary but allegedly meaningful emotion into their vocal stylings. Not sure what I’m talking about? Let me present you with some examples.

  1. Train – Drops of Jupiter – Remember Train? They released Drops of Jupiter and then did nothing for a while. Then a couple of years ago (last year? who knows?) came screaming out of nowhere with a comeback album that people bought and listened to for some reason. Anyway, mostly I just want to talk about Drops of Jupiter though.

    From what I gather, the lead singer has fallen in possibly unrequited love with a girl who might be an astronaut. Featuring such meaningful  lyricism as “checks out Mozart while she does tae-bo, reminds me that there’s room to grow, hey hey”, “can you imagine no love, pride, deep fried chicken, best friend always stickin’ up for you, even when I know you’re wrong?” and “naa naa naa nanana”, a quick search on Google reveals that people inexplicably have a really intense emoitonal connection to the song. It can’t be the actual lyrics. Because they mention soy lattes and space travel in the same verse. Apparently, the girl the song is dedicated to also “listens like spring and talks like June” since she’s returned from a little jaunt living on the moon… which I have thought about over and over and still can’t make sense of. So the only conclusion that I can reach is the fact that there is something about the way that he’s singing the song. To me, it seems ridiculous but he does look like he’s having a really good time in that video. Arms thrown back, eyes closed – the man is singing like he’s on mission. The fact that he is singing absolute nonsense seems to do nothing dissuade the music-buying public who sent this to number one in a bunch of places. On a side note, if more of the men in my life could get around in flowing paisley shirts and leather pants that would make me really happy.
  2. Seal – Kiss from a Rose – I tried really hard to decipher this one because I feel like it means SOMETHING. Google tells me it’s about drugs. Which seems plausible I guess. This is, of course, me operating under my “General Theory of Lyrical Relevance in Contemporary Pop Music” which states “if it isnt about drugs then it is about blow jobs”. Take it away, Seal

    Seal wails this song like it holds the key to the universe, which is probably why people often dedicate it as a love song, but the more I look at the lyrics, it really just looks like it’s about cocaine. “But did you know, that when it snows, my eyes become large and the light that you shine can’t be seen.” To me, that just sounds like a fancy way of saying “I put a small mountain of coke up my nose and I’m chewing my damn face off. Also my vision has gone slightly blurry. Send help.” As for being “kissed by a rose on the grey”, I still have no idea what that means, but from the facial expressions Seal pulls while singing that line I’m gonna assume it’s deep.
  3. Filter – Take a Picture – I like this song. I do. But it should really be  re-titled Drunk Stream of Consciousness ft. Daddy Issues. Take a look.

    Before we get to the lyrical content, let’s just acknowledge that the 90s/00s were a time of really poorly fitted suits. A sad time for tailors the world over. Anyway, since this song is essentially just repetition I can probably just recount everything for you. Basically “awake on my airplane/ awake on my airplane/ my skin is bare/ my skin is theirs” x2, followed by “I feel like a newborn” x2, then “awake on my airplane/ I feel so reeeeaaaal”. Then “can you take my picture?/ cause I won’t remember” x4. It’s all reasonably pleasant and sentimental, kind of like talking to that drunk in the back of the bar who just keeps repeating the same phrase over and over again whilst affectionately slapping you on the back and threatening to nod off. However, much like the drunk guy when you suddenly mention who you voted for in the last election, things take a turn for the shouty. Suddenly “I don’t believe in/ I don’t believe in your sanctity/ Your prophecy/ I don’t believe in sanctity or hipocrisy” then some garbled stuff about not wanting anyone to be left alone and feeling like a newborn again. My favourite bit, however has to be the section where he just starts screaming “Hey dad, what do you think about your son now?” It’s the lyrical equivalent of saying “Dad. DAD. I’ve joined a rock band, dad. Remember when you said I wouldn’t amount to anything? WELL LOOK AT ME NOW DAD. I have a goatee and a nipple peircing and a number one single and women love me AND WHY DIDN’T YOU HUG ME MORE WHEN I WAS GROWING UP!? WERE YOU ASHAMED?” I don’t really know what this song is about. I’m not sure that Filter do either. But the lead singer once again has his head thrown back and his eye closed, so it’s gotta mean something right?

Anyway, there are loads more examples of stupid lyrics out there but it’s getting late and I have to work tomorrow and this post is about to crack 1000 words. However, before I sign off, you may recall I mentioned my friend Jamie at the beginning of the blog. He is lovely and very talented and you should go and look at things he does over here because they are wonderful. I own two of his things. They live on my walls and make my room more habitable. Please feel free to leave more dumb lyrics in the comments. You guys know how much I love stupidity.

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