Ten things you should definitely try to get ahold of

Today's post will be less about me and more about stuff that legitimately rocks. Some of it might not be for everybody, but that's okay, because chances are you aren't everybody anyway.

10. Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Season 1
Are You Afraid of the Dark was a tremendously great show. Not only did it teach us the value of mortal terror when we were children, but these days it hits the spot like no other when you're in the mood for some inadvertent humor from the ever-deep well of terrible '90s hairstyles and super baggy shirts. Are You Afraid of the Dark Season 1 can be found on YouTube, provided you know which episode you're looking for.

9. Robot Dinosaurs That Shoot Beams When They Roar
Not only does this short Flash game combine at least four of the most awesome things on planet Earth (that being dinosaurs, robots, flying, and roaring), but it does so with a hilarious soundtrack and a strangely satisfying intro video. Highly recommended, especially since it's free to play and to love. Robot Dinosaurs That Shoot Beams When They Roar can be found here.

8. Middle Cyclone, by Neko Case
Neko Case is the co-front (wo)man of The New Pornographers, and also has about a billion albums from her solo career, which is more alt country than indie rock but still somehow manages to rule (for more on this phenomenon, consult bands like Jenny Lewis and She & Him). "This Tornado Loves You," the first track, is especially dece. Way more dece than Pat Benatar, and that's saying something. "Middle Cyclone" can be stolen off the internet in any number of creative ways or bought in an actual store.

7. Gak
Not sure if Gak even still exists, or how one could come across it even if it did, but it's too great not to be mentioned. Once I wrapped Gak around my cat's tail back when he was only a kitten, and my mom had to shave the tail to get the Gak out.

6. Super Metroid
Super Metroid is Super Dece. Basically, you're an ass-kicking female robotron named Samus whose main goal in life is to kill every animal that ever existed. You run around shooting blobs of slime and blasting doors open with missiles, and every so often you have to jump over lava or solve little puzzles. As far as SNES games go, it's one of the better ones. Super Metroid can be downloaded from www.vimm.net or bought on Ebay.

5. From Dusk Till Dawn
I still haven't picked my jaw up off the floor from the first time I saw this intentionally awesomely bad trans-genre Tarantino project, and I think it still stands as one of the most hilarious and most strangely satisfying super violent movies ever made. I won't spoil anything about the plot, because it's 900 times funnier if you go into it without knowing a single thing about it, but I will say that it's as just about as close to perfect as any movie could ever come. From Dusk Till Dawn can be downloaded from any number of sites or rented at Family Video from the two for a dollar section.

4. My Maudlin Career, by Camera Obscura
Many bands do the "I am sad, but sound very happy" thing with a fair amount of success, but Camera Obscura are masters of the art. Tracy Ann Campbell and friends came out with this record yesterday (April 21st, for the record) and I've had it on repeat between classes and Are You Afraid of the Dark viewing sessions. I think it's a pretty solid one-up on their last album, "Let's Get Out Of This Country," which was also great, and again I get a perfect mental picture of a slasher movie set in a high school from the 1950s. Argyle socks and everything. "My Maudlin Career" can be bought in a store or downloaded just like any other CD.

3. Franny and Zooey, by J.D. Salinger
Although you are reading this right now, it is possible that you do not like to read. And while that's perfectly acceptable, the fact remains that this would prevent you from ever reading this book, which is only like 100 pages long and could be said to be a pretty profound part of American literary culture. It originally appeared as two short stories in the New Yorker, for chrissakes! It was the last book the man ever wrote! I plan to name my future dog after Zooey! Franny and Zooey can be gotten from any library worth its salt and probably found someplace on the innanet as well.

2. Crank 2
It's rare that a bad movie spawns a sequel that takes extreme (and by that I mean XTREME!!!!) advantage of the original's badness. Crank 2 is that movie. Although it did seem a little like they were trying to channel the spirit of Kill Bill by casting David Carradine, interjecting quirky typographic design into random scenes, and occasionally featuring bizarre flash backs reminscent of Beatrix Kiddo calling out, "Present!" in her 3rd grade classroom, it was still a pretty damn hilarious and dece movie. And I won't even go into the absurdly stupid (but somehow very compelling) plot that follows Chev Chelios as he clobbers an infinity of badguys in order to get his stolen heart back. It scores a solid 3 Pat Benatars out of 4, at least. Crank 2 can be seen in theaters or probably downloaded.

1. Army men
Not the stupid video game series, I mean the actual toys. The little green plastic guys who were supposedly designed to be able to stand but never needed much help when it came to falling over. Army men are truly great. Not only are they literally hours and hours and hours of entertainment on their own, but they're entirely recyclable if you have an open fireplace at your disposal. Sometimes that's the most fun thing to do with them, actually. Army men earn a perfect score of 4 Pat Benatars out of 4, and the official Jack Lawrence seal of approval. Army men can be bought in creepy old toy stores, and as soon as the required technological leaps are made by the computer science nerds of the world, there will be a way to download them off the internet. You heard it here first.


Love is a battlefield

Every so often there comes a song that doesn't conform to any logical standards of goodness, and yet is still worth YouTubing and listening to at least four times in a row. I think for each person that song is different, but for me, it's Pat Benatar's "Love Is a Battlefield." I don't know exactly where my my enjoyment of this cheesy pop "gem" from the '80s came from, but I believe it has its roots in three separate but equally important schools of thought.

1. The "shoulder shaking" dance that Pat does in the music video to scare away the asshole in the strip joint is one of history's best (and possibly first) examples of a problem being solved by a dance off.

2. It's catchy enough to like, but not catchy enough to openly admit to liking. This gives listening to the song a "forbidden" vibe.

3. Pat Benatar somewhat resembles a dragonfly.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that my enjoyment of this song is cause enough for me to write Pat Benatar a fan letter (especially since I bet she would start doing the shoulder shakes at me if there were any typos, and I don't want any of that action), but if she sees this blog, which I assume is likely since all she probably does these days is Google herself, I would like to make it known that I think Pat Benatar is still dece. At least two times decer than Guns N' Roses ever was, and about 3/4ths as dece as The Cure currently is. And she's probably equal to Morrissey. Pat Benatar's general decency can be determined using the following equation:

(The White Stripes - Cursive) x 5

marketability of Shia LaBeouf

Although scientists are still working to determine the exact level of dece possessed by Pat Benatar, great advances are being made thanks to increasing interest in the '80s. It is my fondest hope that by 2010, we'll at least know whether or not it's socially acceptable for Miley Cyrus to do Pat Benatar covers.