Friday, July 4

The Friday Not-So-Random Ten+5 salutes the flag, then cracks open a beer.

Last year around this time I caught more than a little bit of hell for suggesting that the grand "American experiment," while certainly fun for a while, seemed to be losing steam and maybe it was time for us to tear up that silly Declaration of Independence and become part of the United Kingdom again. Get some adult supervision, so to speak. But perhaps that was a little hasty, since there are certainly plenty of reasons to be proud of America. It only took me a few seconds to come up with five right off the top of my head, hence this week's +5 is Five Random Awesome Things That Were Made In America:

Chicken fingers
I've traveled to a number of foreign countries -- France, Austria, Slovakia, Germany, and yes, the UK -- and I've never seen chicken fingers in any of those places. In fact, I'm not sure I remember chicken strips or an equivalent even being sold in McDonald's restaurants on the Continent. England comes close with fish 'n' chips, but I'm still only so-so on fish, and they mostly insist on eating them with that malt vinegar that smells like sweaty feet even from 50 feet away. Nope, I'm quite happy to be living in a land where delicious golden-fried chicken fingers are rarely ever more than a 10-minute drive away. And they're usually served with French fries, which just goes to show you how they're like a little symbol of international cooperation right there on a plate.

Angelina Jolie
She's done a number of roles that required her to have one foreign accent or another, but nope, this girl's all-American -- something we can all be thankful for, no matter who we are. For as I pointed out shortly after the release of "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" in 2005, Angelina Jolie is the one person that everyone I've ever come across, even gay men and straight women, are like, "Oh, yeah, dude, she's hot." That's more than an interesting factoid, that's a community service in our increasingly divided society. I'm convinced that when we elect her president four or eight years from now, every problem will go away.

The Boeing 747
Long before the Airbus A380 was even a gleam in some French dude's eye, the U.S. created the first wide-body superjumbo airliner, which has now been flying for nearly 40 years. And it's interesting to note that when the A380 ran into multiple design and production delays, Boeing stretched the 747, added some new bells and whistles, and rolled out the 747-8, which a number of airlines -- including Europe's own Lufthansa -- ordered as a hedge even though they'd already put in orders for the Airbus. The 747 has amassed an exemplary safety record and is a prime example of American ingenuity, plus the fact that our president gets to ride in one makes the rest of the world's leaders (especially douchebags like Putin) extremely jealous.

American football
Enough said. I love the World Cup and all, but I can still gin up only so much excitement over a sport where people get in trouble for running into each other. Rest Of The World, I'm sorry, but y'all are on the wrong side of this one. Plus even if you don't give a rat's ass about a given game, it might still be a great excuse to look at Erin Andrews.

The Pixies
I know this one's pretty random, but for no real reason I started listening to their Doolittle album again this past week, and was reminded of just how much it fucking rocks. So thank you, Pixies. Ninety percent of popular music in this country might still suck, but every once in a while we come up with a winner.

And now an all-American Random Ten:

1. The Capitals, "Cool Jerk"
2. Public Enemy, "Don't Believe the Hype"
3. A Tribe Called Quest, "Youthful Expression"
4. Richard Cheese, "Closer"
5. The Bloodhound Gang, "Lift Your Head Up High (and Blow Your Brains Out)"
6. Fugazi, "Do You Like Me"
7. Radio 4, "Calling All Enthusiasts"
8. Dick Dale & The Del-Tones, "Misirlou"
9. Miles Davis, "Concierto de Aranjuez" (Part Two Ending)
10. R.E.M., "Star Me Kitten"

By no means are either of these comprehensive lists, so put your own Random Tens and lists of things that are teh aw3som3 about America in the comments. Happy 4th, everybody -- drive safe, drink responsibly, and don't go blowing your fingers off with any fireworks.


Reed said...

Permit me to self-indulge and give you five things I encountered that were (basically) new to me over the course of my my road trip that lasted the 2007 college football season.

1. Chick-Fil-A. I hope I'm not copying you, Doug. But being from the North, I never had the opportunity to experience Chick-Fil-A. I can sum up the experience thusly: Damn. Those are some damn fine sandwiches.

2. The Jump Around at Wisconsin. TV doesn't do it justice. I don't think I've ever seen anything so gleeful.

3. Southern Girls. Y'all are just really lucky, all right? Up here in the North, the girls don't dress like that, and the dudes have to try a heckuva lot harder than you do in the South. Particularly at bars. Guys wouldn't shave, would be wearing ratty clothes and the girls were dressed like models. Amazing to me as it was appealing.

4. High-powered tailgating. Don't get me wrong, I'd tailgated before, but I was unprepared for some of the spreads, technological doodads, and wild parties I came across this year. I'm sure there are fans in other countries that barbecue and stuff, but nobody does it up like we do.

5. The Grand Canyon. My mom told me a story about how she was traveling with some people from England who pooh-poohed everything they saw in America. Until they got to the Grand Canyon. They were speechless. There's nothing else like it.

In sum, Yay America!

1. The Equals, "Baby Come Back"
2. Shout Out Louds, "Go Sadness"
3. Jimi Hendrix, "House Burning Down"
4. Sigur Ros, "E-Bow"
5. Tori Amos, "Precious Things"
6. Tom Waits, "Temptation"
7. Dan Deacon, "The Crystal Cat"
8. Otis Redding, "Mr. Pitiful"
9. Fishbone, "Give It Up"
10. Dinosaur Jr., "Out There"

Anonymous said...

Not too often do I respond to anyone but Doug, but Reed brought up some things I can second. I don't give Chik-fil-A a second thought, but my daughter who just came home for a visit from New York, had to stop and get her some Chik-fil-A before she came to the house. My brother, who has worked in Chicago and traveled all over, says that you can roughly gauge the latitude you are in without looking at the sun - just check out the women you find around you. The fuglier they are, the further north you happen to be. You could feed a small country in Africa with your average tailgate in the south, and finally, the Brits poo-poo everything, but they can't resist coming to visit, either.

NCT said...

First, you are just plain wrong for saying that about malt vinegar, Doug. Wrong in at least three ways. But I reckon chicken fingers are worth the hundreds of thousands of dollars in repetitive motion injuries that it costs to produce them. A word of advice: never step foot in (or near, if you can help it) a chicken processing plant.

Second, oh, yeah, dude, Jolie is hot. If I was still in my 20s or early 30s, I might go so far as to say I'd probably do her, given the chance. She's that hot.

Reed and anonymous, re the Grand Canyon: I always wanted to see it, but it was never high on my list. I mean, I'd seen pictures, right? But then one of my brothers and I did Route 66 a few years back. We left Lake Michigan on a Saturday evening and hit the Pacific at sunset the following Thursday. In between, we took a side-trip to the Grand Canyon. Annie Dillard (my favorite writer) has a great description of a total eclipse that I think is apt for the Grand Canyon and goes something like: if you showed the shepherds watching their flocks a 3.5 x 5 postcard of the heavenly host, they would not be sore afraid.

Context is everything. I had no idea that it was possible to have an experience of such monumental proportions that requires nothing more than being present. And "nothing more" is misleading: "presence" becomes all, and "all" had previously been egregiously underestimated.

Ok, I tried really hard, and it still doesn't come close. Everyone must go.

1. The Beatles, "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey"
2. 10,000 Maniacs, "Don't Talk"
3. The Allman Brothers Band, "Dreams"
4. Depeche Mode, "Stripped" (Live, 101)
5. Translator, "Everywhere That I'm Not"
6. Tori Amos, "Precious Things" (Live, To Venus and Back)
7. Cowboy Junkies, "Dark Hole Again"
8. Bono, Gavin Friday, Maurice Seezer, "Children of the Revolution"
9. Alanis Morissette, "Are You Still Mad"
10. Madonna, "Swim"

jOoLz said...

mmm... doolittle

no random ten... just doolittle

"missy aggravation.
some sacred questions.
you stroke my locks.
some marijuana if you got some."

ty! and have a happy 4th!

Riley said...

Have you seen WANTED yet? Friends tell me it's definitely must-see.

shelly said...

I don't mind our football, but I gotta give the edge to Canadian Football. (Longer and wider field, three downs instead of four, and a team can score a point if the ball is punted into their own end zone.)

Anyhoo, five awesome things to come out of the USA, according to moi...

* Neutral Milk Hotel. True, they're no longer together, really; but between them and R.E.M. (both bands are out of Athens, GA), IMO, NMH is the better band. Besides, I don't think R.E.M. will be singing about synthetic flying machines or babies named Pree or about Anne Frank ("Holland, 1945") anytime soon.

* Chicken fingers. Fo' sho'.

* Polaroid. Forget the whole environmentally unfriendly shizzle; I lurve(d) it.

* Political and religious nutjobs. Yeah, they're in every country; but here? They help keep the country together.

* The Onion.

And if I could add a sixth, George Carlin (RIP).

Universal REMONSTER said...

I still think Jolie is a fugly slut, but other than that I agree with you Doug.

Jerry Hinnen said...

You don't have to go to the UK to escape chicken fingers. Or, at least, chicken fingers you'd want to eat. Like Chick-Fil-A, there's no Guthrie's/Zaxby's/pick an equivalent in Michigan--the only place to get "chicken fingers" are chain joints like Ruby Tuesday's or Chili's (which isn't bad, as Doug's pointed out, but still). Really, the closest you can get to something quality is KFC. If I win the lottery tomorrow I'm building a Guthrie's just off-campus in Ann Arbor and watching the mad money roll in the rest of my life.

Anonymous said...

You know, there were rumors you were into field hockey players.