You mess with Harpo Marx, you get the horns.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Chipmunks, Now and Then

The new Alvin and the Chipmunks film has been out for awhile. Let's just say the reviews aren't as positive as they could be. I haven't seen Leonard Maltin's review personally but the rumours are that he has called for the cast and crew of the film to be burnt at the stake.

The Telegraph offers a slightly more positive review, in that there are no calls for violence or for the the director to be forced to change his name to "I. Suck."

As any American over 40 can tell you, the Chipmunks are a national institution dating from the 50's and 60's. The original charm was hearing the high-pitched wailing of Christmas songs just an octave below that of Mariah Carey, punctuated by the annoyed sheparding voice of David Seville (the original creator of the "group."1) In the 60's, the Chipmunks found renewed popularity, as drug-addled hippies listened intently, convinced that these ultra-soprano rodents were just the Beatles after a particularly nasty LSD trip. For example, Alvin's (Paul, if he were actually still alive) harmonica obsession was just a metaphor for middle-America's addiction to cheap consumer goods and the narcissistic trappings of fame. ("It's a present, Dave [Ringo]... from me to me!")

Of course, no one took them seriously because their answer to this moral and social crisis was to permanently bake their brains on acid, pot, and any other drugs they could lay their little hands on, all whilst shagging at a rate that would make Wilt Chamberlain and Tom Jones look like Trappist monks.

Anyway, the Chipmunks were middle-America through and through. However, the times have clearly changed. Not only are the new Chipmunks complete crap, but they are quite different in many other ways. Here's a handy guide to sort them out.

The Chipmunks, Now and Then

Now: The Chipmunks are drug-free, alcohol-free, and smoke-free2
Then: Simon was a 3-pack a day Camel man, Theodore preferred Jim Beam, and Alvin's nickname was "Little Doobie."

Now: A typical Chipmunks pop cover would be "Funkytown" or any number of Michael Bolton songs.
Then: A typical Chipmunks pop cover would be Paul Anka's "You're Having My Baby."

Now: The Chipmunks sing music for Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Eid, and Festivus.
Then: The Chipmunks regularly put out albums of Christmas music, sticking to mostly secular songs to avoid the drop in sales that any sincere religious feeling might precipitate.

Now: The Chipmunks engage in light-hearted banter, accompanied by the occasional farting jokes.
Then: Farting was unacceptible as public entertainment (except in Vegas), so the Chipmunks confined their comic repertoire to Mort Sahl and Lenny Bruce bits and Groucho Marx's naughtier routines. Also, Alvin was a magnificent Jerry Lewis impersonator.

Now: The Chipmunks are digitally animated using sophisticated computer effects and voiced using the latest in digital audio synthesis.
Then: The Chipmunks were small cardboard cutouts that Dave Seville strapped to three of his fingers and waved about as he sang in a helium-enhanced voice.

Now: The Chipmunks dress in hip-hop fashion, sporting baggy trousers, sideways baseball caps, and mountains of "bling."
Then: The Chipmunks dressed like Harold Lloyd in The Freshman

Now: The Chipmunks are on the big screen, panned and ridiculed as has-been, cretinous, animated duds.
Then: The Chipmunks were international recording stars, had their own television programme, and at one point were each married to Liz Taylor.

1. Dave Seville used to get top billing in the group, until Alvin became a breakout star after his duet with Cher on the hit "I Got You Babe." Don't let anyone tell you that was Sonny Bono. Alvin had to drink rotgut for 3 days straight to get his voice that low...And you thought it was Cher singing the high parts.

2. And apparently humour free.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Gonna have to face it, you're addicted to Halo

The newest addiction to worry about? According to the Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina, USA: Video games.

This is supposed to be news? I recall being addicted to the blighters when I was a teen, pumping coins into the things like a Las Vegas slot-machine grandmum. My hands would twitch involuntarily if I went for more than 48 hours without some kind of videogame experience. The Atari 2600 was the home console of choice then. I once completed the Atari "Superman" game in 8 seconds. (For those of you who know the game, fan mail can be sent to I've also done the Microsoft Solitare in Windows ME in 93 seconds, for fellow fans of that mindless pursuit.)

However, it's still worth pointing out that this addiction has its dangers. According to the Post and Courier, in 2005 a South Korean man died of heart failure after a 50 hour session of video gaming. Of course, this evidence isn't as compelling as it could be where games are concerned, as many of us would snuff it or face serious health issues after 50 consecutive hours of any activity. For example, if you've slept for 50 hours in a row, that is pretty close to the official definition of a coma.

Nonetheless, as a service to DOUI readers, I thought it might be helpful to present some key signs that you (or your loved ones) might be addicted to video games:

  • Callouses on right thumbs have reverse indentations of letters
  • Gets the shakes if Mario or Sonic adverts appear on telly
  • Has committed armed robbery with the excuse that "Ms. Croft made me do it."
  • Openly plans to find and beat the arrogant guy playing Halo 3 in the Mountain Dew "Game Fuel" adverts
  • Sincerely thinks that playing "Guitar Hero" will eventually attract groupies
  • Thinks that John Madden and Tiger Woods are video game programmers
  • Eyeballs are frequently replaced with "Data Loading" message
  • Whilst driving, they say, "This will be just like Driver 3!" when a police car passes by
  • Severe dry mouth and agitation at the sound of the words "Boss Monster"
  • Doesn't like to talk about their "Call of Duty" experiences because of the terrible things they saw and did "during the war"
  • Honestly believes that gorillas favourite weapons are large metal barrels
  • Believes that Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho actually live in their "Football Manager CD"
  • Named their 3 children "Zelda," "Zelda II," and "Zelda, Twilight Princess"
  • Thinks that the best way of cleaning up the national government is ala "Resident Evil"
  • Gave up coke habit because it was getting in the way of online gaming

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