Indianapolis Monthly — Of all the weird things about “Weird Al” Yankovic, this may be the weirdest: While Coolio, Huey Lewis, and Michael Jackson really only had to worry about sounding like themselves, Weird Al and his criminally under-heralded band have to worry about sounding like The Collective Whole of 35 Years of American Pop Culture, plus Don McLean and Bob Dylan sometimes. There’s being diverse and then there’s being profoundly insane: I’ve never been in a band, but I imagine playing a set list that includes Chamillionaire, Madonna, an iconic grunge song, and a runaway polka is tougher than it looks, much like writing parody in the first place.
One guesses this was part of the drive behind Yankovic’s brilliant “Ridiculously Self-Indulgent Ill-Advised Vanity Tour,” which jam-packed the Palladium on Thursday night despite a preemptive barrage of reminders that humanity’s most iconic musical parodist—a guy whose name is synonymous with basically anything that contains some singing and is funny—would not be doing much of that.
The Loop / Golf Digest — Rejoice, my friends, for though the world is dark and increasing Russian today there is cause for UNABASHED GLEE, because not only has “Weird Al” Yankovic released a new single BUT it’s also a polka medley AND the polka medley is all songs from “Hamilton,” and YES the ricochet-bang sound effect is used right when it should be in “My Shot” and then it’s used LIKE 20 MORE TIMES. God, it’s like my brain had forgotten which synapses turned on the joy.
Fans of “Weird Al” know, of course, that the polka medley is generally one of the three high points of every album, although arguably it might be fourth on Dare to be Stupid, owing entirely to “I Want a New Duck.” (Only two albums lack them: his debut and “Even Worse,” which has “Stuck in a Closet With Vanna White” so it’s OK.) He also occasionally produces political ones. If you dig “The Hamilton Polka,” you might be wise to check out his other polka offerings, which can be found on his accordion-shaped box setSqueeze Box: The Complete Works of “Weird Al” Yankovic.
Metromix — Usually, it goes like this: An actor has a hit movie, gets famous, surrounds himself with parasitic hangers-on who can’t say no, eventually asks one of them, “Hey, so I should start a band, right?” and waits for that person to not say no.
GateHouse — When you see the phrase “Indiana entrepreneurs re-launch” at the beginning of a sentence and you are from Indiana, a few thoughts rocket immediately through the parts of your brain not dedicated to inventing increasingly desperate excuses for why IU hasn’t won a championship since ’87:
“Mellencamp’s giant robot will soon rise!”
“There must have been tremendous increases in the production of rickety hoops which can be attached to barns.”
“Whatever it is, Peyton Manning is shooting a commercial for it in the morning.”
“Automated Mitch Daniels-hitting device”
Ha! I kid Indiana because I love Indiana, except its stupid approach to time zones, which is such that when my cousin asked me last week what time it was in my current location I CACKLED WITH GLEE FOR TEN MINUTES because that’s literally the first time the question has swung that way in 35 years. I’m still cackling. I think I’ll take a small cackle break right now. Ha HO! Oh, it feels so good to laugh when you’ve spent 12 years calling people at incorrect times for interviews, such as that one time I woke up “Weird Al” Yankovic’s baby. Still feel bad about that.
It's weird to think this guy would be bad at running a state, somehow
GateHouse — First of all, let me say that I fully support anything that outlaws dodgeball in any form. Yeah, you heard me, The Years 1987-1989, and you too, Delayed Onset Of Puberty.
Second of all, let me say that my son fully supports anything that outlaws freeze tag. The boy has been voicing his irrationally bilious, near-Gingrichian objection to freeze tag for months, on the admittedly understandable basis that freeze tag, unlike regular tag, does not offer a Base, the primal first-grade safety net that grants utter invincibility to anyone who is, say, touching the monkey bars. From the bits of his argument I can glean in between his instructions for me to buy him things, the regular tag-vs.-freeze tag debate has been POLARIZING first-grade recess for months.
Happily for everyone, I have a solution: We are probably moving to New York State, where freeze tag and dodgeball were nearly outlawed by The Large And Overbearing Government, probably because children never played it in Kenya.
GateHouse — When you are a barely functional idiot who attempts to “write humor” for a living, and by “living” I mean “occasional side deposits of nickels and/or circus peanuts that augment your salary from maintaining the slurry tubes at the poultry processing facility,” it can be sometimes impossible to come up with a decent topic. Revolution in Egypt, for instance, is a heartening story of the power of the united human condition, but it’s not terrifically funny, except for those protestors who kept stepping on rakes that would fwap up and hit them in the noses. There are times when it can be difficult to think of a topic, although generally during these times I just give my son eight or nine cups of coffee and follow him around with a voice recorder. And then there are times that the Catholic Church approves an iPhone app designed to assist with confession. Bless me Father for I have sinned, although you apparently don’t mind that much, because you TOTALLY HAVE MY BACK THIS WEEK.
To recap: An iPhone app that handles confession — although, if we’re being literally interpretive about it, which we probably should, given the circumstances, the app “prepares” you for confession, in the same way that online poker “prepares” you for Vegas. So let’s just get some things right out of the way:
“Yes, Father, I can hear you just fine, please stop asking me that.”
I’m on AT&T, so I probably have a better chance of getting a decent signal in hell than on my back porch.
Whoever had “Touch-screen confession before women can become priests” in the pool is a big winner this week!
Because if you’ve ever felt confused that a life’s accumulation of sins, impure thoughts, impure memories, thoughts about impure memories and so forth could be recalibrated into math, wait until you see it done by the same device with which you tweet.
"Excuse me, sir, but are you going to use that innertube?"
GateHouse — Having spent New Year’s Day at the Blizzard Beach water park in Disney World — the Happiest Place on Earth, particularly if your happiness revolves around disbursing $27.95 for chicken fingers — in sunny, godawful Orlando, Fla., I have already learned in 2011 these two important lessons:
To beat the crowds at a Disney water park, go in January.
The human body is a thing to be reviled and abhorred.
Visiting friends and a bit of pleasing randomness brought us to the county-sized neon bacchanal of Orlando, Fla. (town motto: “A Black Angus On Every Street Corner, But The Lord God Help You If You Need To Purchase A Vegetable”) over the New Year’s weekend, a time for new beginnings, personal re-energization and, in my case, the opportunity to ring in 2011 wandering around Downtown Disney listening to a didgeridoo player cover Ozzy Osbourne while drinking smuggled-in champagne. Yeah, that’s right. We smuggled hooch into Disney World. This makes us the COOLEST PEOPLE in the entire tenth grade! (Jeez, a lot of my Disney stories have drinks in them. I find I have the same problems with weddings and first communions.)
Anyway, I’m not usually one for making New Year’s resolutions — I’m keenly aware of my raft of personal failings on most days, thank you very much, designating a holiday to accentuate them seems needlessly vengeful — but I will tell you this, faithful reader(s) and/or people who got here by Googling “Tinkerbell Is Of Satan” and/or “Xerox Scrabble Cha Cha”: There is literally nothing on the planet that will leave you more relentlessly dedicated to your workout/exercise resolution than spending six hours at a Disney theme park in which most of your neighbors are unclothed and absorbing for yourself the unspeakable horrors of the aging male physique.
NASCAR driver Greg Biffle, if you see my first-grader on the playground, you might want to watch your back.
GateHouse — It’s a static, shatterproof rule of parenting that, purely through nature and momentum, you will endeavor to pass on to your children your own interests and activities, either by grand design or subconscious manipulation, and yes I am looking at you, Couple Who Brought Your Four Grade-School Children To The Van Halen Concert In 2005, Seriously, That’s Shockingly Irresponsible, Mostly Because It Was A Hagar Tour, I Mean Roth I Can Justify, But The “Dreams” Guy Really What Are You Thinking? (I might also mention you, Juggalo Parent Nation.)
It follows then that there’s an equally static, shatterproof rule that there will be things you reflexively shield your kids from, strive to help them avoid at all costs, such as ignorance or prejudice, or badminton, or country music. Ha! I’m just kidding, of course. Badminton’s not that bad.
For instance, my son to this day has no idea that Radio Disney exists; not because I don’t think he’d enjoy it, but because like many six-year-olds he is quick to adopt MANIACAL OBSESSIONS regarding media absorption, and frankly the vaguest possibility of having to listen to Radio Disney even in the briefest, three-minute squirts made me begin dreaming up ways to remove my eyes with a potato peeler, so, long story short, my son’s world is a glorious Jonas-free wonderland, and this is how it shall remain.
But the thing is, I say that now, and I can have the best intentions, but at some point you have to release your child into the world, which is full of friends and stores and outside influences and classmates with Radio Disney backpacks. And when that happens, things begin spiraling faster and faster and time speeds up and up and before long you lose your grip on whatever thin filaments of control you might have hoped to have and then you find yourself watching a NASCAR race on a Sunday afternoon because your son — who, according to our earlier law, is supposed to be into Springsteen, running, “Weird Al” Yankovic and maintaining the rigidly beautiful organization of his iTunes library — is turning into a surprisingly knowledgeable juicebox-downing NASCAR fan. It is likely too late to change his name to Darrell, but don’t think I haven’t thought about it.
If Harry Potter land contained a spell which outlawed garments promoting Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and/or jorts, the waits in line would be about nine seconds each.
GateHouse — So we found ourselves with three days off and full-time weekend babysitting, so we did what I think most 35-year-old professional married couples would do when gifted with such a rare opportunity: Went promptly to Harry Potter land in Orlando. My idea was Chuck E. Cheese, but whatever, this was fine.
It’s not Harry Potter land, of course, and the lovely 29-year-old woman we met in line at Ollivander’s Wand Shop who dropped $800 and waited 10 hours to attend the park’s opening day would probably punch me in the quaffle unless I referred to at directly is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, located at Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park in Florida and basically the single most satisfying aggro-nerd experience I’ve had since the first time I rode “Star Tours,” which was EXACTLY LIKE Beggar’s Canyon back home, or the time we waited outside a Merrillville, Ind. hotel for 90 minutes to get our photo taken with “Weird Al” Yankovic.
Now, I’m not remotely a 800-bones-on-opening-day Potter fan, though it is true that I lost considerable sleep to the books, have been told that my patronus would resemble Springsteen (accurate), and once began concocting a reasonably logical plan to physically enter “Half-Blood Prince” to claim vengeance on Snape (not over it), but let me go on record as saying that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter went all sectumsempra on my expelliarmus. For those of you who read books from the grown-up part of the bookstore, this means it was totally worth it.
GateHouse— If you read the news these days with any regularity at all, if you take even a small time to try to keep with the disorder and disquiet in the world, then you already know these are very, very difficult times. For the polka.
I am saddened to report that the polka is dying, although I am mostly saddened to report it without the benefit of a depressed-sounding tuba honking gloomily in the background, so you’ll just have to imagine that part, and that it’s doing so unloved and under-respected, even by its musical cousins, the waltz, the mazurka and, of course, the modern oom-pah band. And sadly it is doing so as a relic, something believed to be practiced only by older men whose names sound like what would happen if consonants spent a day beating the hell out of each other, names such as Roman Rezac, Ernie Kuchera, Al Grebnic and, of course, Frankie Yankovic.
Because as of this year, the polka category is being dropped by the Grammy Awards. The. Grammy. Awards. Being shot down by the Grammy Awards is like being picked last in dodgeball in gym class, except it’s more like being instructed by the teacher to go lay quietly during dodgeball in gym class with your head on the floor facing the bleachers in a corner of the gym located, if possible, in an entirely different school district.
Writer: GQ, Men’s Health,
the Washington Post, Garden & Gun, Indianapolis Monthly, Golf Digest, Vice, BruceSpringsteen.net,
the Indy 500, Fatherly, etc. Proud owner of a Bruce-related Guinness World Record. Even longer bio/clips.