3 Generally Awesome YouTube Channels

You know what, I’m still reeling from illness and haven’t talked about anything positive for a while. So, let’s shout out some talented people.

The last time I had something nice to say about YouTube was when I shared a trio of channels for the artsy DIYer. Today, I just want to go off on three channels that had nothing in common other than just being a lot of fun and offering something nice and/or useful to the viewer. So, let’s just get happy and celebrate some cool people.

The Obscure

The tongue-in-cheek review has been a staple of internet entertainment for as long as most of us can remember the internet. However, they’ve almost always come from a stance of crapping on old media for laughs.

The Obscure stands out from the horde of angry reviewers by demonstrating genuine nostalgia for the things of the past that mirrors the fond memories that we have for our favorites-gone-by; offered through the character of someone with all the enthusiasm of someone who probably shouldn’t have dropped the brown acid at Woodstock.

While the goofy comedy is the primary draw, The Obscure does occasionally drop some insight on us; showing how these things long-forgotten helped shape popular consciousness today.

AvE

Here’s a little something special for the handymen in the audience.

AvE may be a little to foul-mouthed and rough around the edges for some, but for me, he more than makes up for it with his knowledge of tools and machining.

AvE combines his experience as an engineer with his glorious and uniquely Canadian sense of humor (“skookum as frig,” has become one of my favorite phrases) to teach us the nuts and bolts of making your way around a DIYer’s workshop. In amongst his workshop tricks, he also works on his series, ‘Bored Of Lame Tool Reviews’ (BOLTR for short) where he disassembles and analyzes everyday tools and appliances to determine if they’re actually worth your money.

CGP Grey

An American-born teacher living in England, CGP Grey is the kind of person you want to run an educational YouTube channel; someone you genuinely enjoys teaching and believes that knowledge can change the world.

CGP Grey covers a broad swath of topics including modern technology, civics, politics, and geography while explaining in clear terms why these things are so important to know and how they affect us. Overall, he’s very good at making you care about what he’s saying with a calm, mellow, and charismatic voice.

He also has a podcast with his friend Brady at Numberphile if you need more knowledge dropped on you by people WAY smarter than I could ever hope to be.

One-Hit Wonderful: Part Two – The Search for A Second Hit

So, I promised during my breakdown/recap of my #UnpopularMusicOpinionHour tirade on Twitter in January that I would revisit this topic. At last, the time has come to encourage you to rediscover the lesser known works of artists that just couldn’t stick around longer.

In Addition, I’d like to hear some thoughts from the field this time. I want to hear what songs you remember from artists OTHER than their one big hit that you think are worth listening again. I may just analyze a few of them for a trilogy. But enough time wasting. Let’s get to the tunes.

Michael Sembello- “Automatic Man”

Here’s a fun fact about Michael Sembello’s smash hit “Manic” from the soundtrack from the movie Flashdance – it was never meant to back a dance film. It was meant for a horror movie; hence, it’s hurried tempo and panicked tone. But, as it turns out, genre films are a key source of inspiration for Sembello. At least, that the idea you get when you hear “Automatic Man.”

“Automatic Man” is such a delightfully upbeat and silly story of a mechanical humanoid built to dance and seduce, that you have to just sit back and enjoy for all of it’s Velveeta-like cheesy glory. With the 80’s nostalgia wave we’re currently under combined with the heavy increase in sales of older albums, I can totally see stuff like this becoming a thing again. And that’s a good thing because, as I’ve said in the past, this world needs more fun.

Deee-Lite – “Power Of Love”

Deee-Lite is one of those dance acts that should have stuck around longer to keep the world grooving for the good of the collective human heart. In fact, their appropriately titled hit “Groove Is In The Heart” is a more than adequate defense of that statement.

While their follow-up is a bit of a departure in style from their big hit (which might be a major factor in its failure to find a pop music audience), “Power Of Love” certainly follows the same spirit as “Groove Is In The Heart.” It’s a happy, easy-to-dance-to jam that combines the visual aesthetics of the 70’s with the dance/house sound of the 80’s and 90’s. Both the song and the video seek to add a splash of color to a grayed-out world.

Also, if I may devolve into hopeless romanticism, I could watch the art and fashion of Deee-Lite frontwoman Lady Miss Kier unfold in front of me all day every day and it would not be a wasted life. It’s okay, Miss Kier; I forgive you for trying to sue Sega for Space Channel 5.

Chumbawamba – “Amnesia”

Going back the Twitter hashtag storm that inspired this revisit, followers may recall my insistence that Chumbawamba, the band responsible for “Tubthumping”, deserved much better treatment – and for good reason. Their career stretched 15 years before AND after the release of their hit and during that time, they constantly experimented with their sound in the name of art. In fact, their pop success was largely an accident that came from wanting to screw around with their record label.

That said, if you’re like me and seem to remember their follow-up “Amnesia” from somewhere, you probably watched a lot of music countdowns on VH1 growing up. I wish I could explain what it is about this song that makes me gravitate to it. It seems to recreate the feeling of drifting hazily and lost in your own head space while still remaining surprisingly fast paced. Most people need to channel the sounds of Pink Floyd to get that effect, but not Chumbawamba.

3 Foreign Foods I Want To (and You Should) Try At Least once

If I were to settle down and choose a single topic for The Archive to cover, I think I’d want to be a Food Blogger. The only problem is that, without a larger corporation to back me financially, food shopping would become prohibitively expensive.

But I do love food. My parents taught me how to grill and bake at an early age, I enjoy trying new recipes, and eating out with a small group is one of the few social situations that feel comfortable in.

But my fondest food memories come from my college Cultural Anthropology class where our professor brought in foods from all around world for us to try. It was here that I learned that Fried Scorpion isn’t too bad, Vegemite is to be feared, and that Durian Candy is the best thing ever.

That class gave me an itch to find other foreign food stuffs to try that I’ve never been able to scratch due to lack of funds and/or means to produce them myself. So until then, I’ll just have to dream of the day when I can sample…

Chapulines

foodie-fest-mezcal-3-2-2014-2

Even bugs love taco night.
Source: operagirlcooks.com

Originating from Aztec-era Mexico, Chapulines are actually a common breed of Grasshopper that have been baked on a clay cooking slab. You may turn up your nose at the idea, but entomophagy (the human consumption of insects) is widely practiced around the world as the insect bio-mass dwarfs our own. That kinda makes us in the north-western part of the globe the weird ones.

The appeal of Chapulines comes from their ease of harvesting; anyone with a nearby alfalfa field and a net can catch them by the pound late in the day after they’ve exhausted themselves eating. What’s more, most insects are comparable to beef in terms of nutrition.

As stated above, I was surprised that Fried Scorpion was passable. With many people saying that Chapulines are savory and are a good complement to guacamole on tacos, I suspect that these little guys could be better.

Buzz Buttons

No, that’s not the name of a new feature on BuzzFeed.
Source: Amazon

Buzz Buttons or Szechuan Buttons are a fascinating little flower (they’d have to be to trick me into eating my veggies) whose appeal lies in it’s unique taste. When eaten, they cause a tingling, effervescent sensation in the mouth.

An addition to a strange sensation for adventurous foodies, Buzz Buttons also aid digestion by increasing saliva production. It’s also believed that they have anti-septic qualities that are great for cleansing the palate between courses.

Much more of a garnish than an actual food item, Buzz Buttons are still a curious challenge for the culinary thrill seeker.

And speaking of culinary thrill seeking…

Miracle Berry

This picture does not accurately convey the powerful magic these things apparently contain.
Source: bloggery.undergroundeats.com/

Out of all of the foods listed here, this is the one I absolutely must try once before my demise.

Miracle Berries are the fruit of the plant native to western Africa. There, the berries are used to make sour Palm Wine more palatable, but not by adding them to the liquor.

You see, Miracle Berries contain a unique glycoprotein called Miraculin that can temporarily alter taste by binding to receptors on the tongue and mouth. Long story short, it makes sour things taste sweet.

Imagine it; Grapefruit that doesn’t make you wince. Vinegar that tastes like white wine. You could finally stomach those good foods that are just too sour to handle.

One day, I’m going to get a ton of Miracle Berries and just have a tasting party just to mess with people.

Three Interesting American Statistics (That You Should Think About Before Saying Another Country Is Weird)

I have a deep fascination with other countries and the culture of their citizens. I often find that when I explore a persons culture deeper, I find new and interesting views and practices that I try to incorporate into my own life.

However, the problem with being a cultural hobbyist is that, when I share my discoveries with breathless enthusiasm to others, I will undoubtedly find that one person who responds with a shallow, “Man, those [insert nationality, culture, or creed here] are weird as hell.”

This is hair-pullingly frustrating to me since A) that’s a statement that smacks of insensitivity and general apathy for others in an increasingly globalized society and B) if they bothered to look outside of their own head space for a second and take an introspective look at ourselves, they’d realize that there’s a fair amount of evidence that maybe WE’RE the weird ones.

We do things so radically different from other counties that it’s kind of jarring to think how strange we look to them. For instance, did you know…

Americans Are REALLY Quick To Throw People In Jail

“What’s that; a litter bug walks free? Stone him!”
Source: economist.com

It’s a problem for everyone; eventually someone is going to think that they can do what ever they want, start doing things that hurt others, and some unfortunate judicial system is going to have the task of doling out the proper punishment. However, what’s considered right and wrong is dependent on how strict that country-in-question’s laws are.

Apparently, American laws are either shockingly strict or we have too many people that think that they’re above them. According to the International Centre for Prison Studies, there are 698 incarcerated Americans for every 100,000 American citizens. That gives us the world’s second largest prison population just behind The Seychelles in Africa and a population that’s more than twice the size of Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Switzerland combined.

Now, I’m not saying that we are a bunch of up-tight jerks in this country, but I am saying that we would probably do well to reassess our laws to make doubly sure there are no victimless crimes on the list.

Americans Spend A Lot of Money On Schools (Which Doesn’t Seem To Change Much)

My taxes are paying for this?
Source: Deesillustration.com

We seem to like to talk about how we need to improve our education system in this country. Unfortunately, it seems that the answer always boils down to, “Throw money at the problem until it goes away.” But it’s somewhat obvious that doing so isn’t fixing anything.

Currently, the U.S. is fifth in school spending with a price tag of $115,000 per student. This wouldn’t be a problem if not for the fact that A) we are admittedly mediocre in terms of education and B) the Slovak Republic, who scored similarly to us in 2012 assessments, spends only $53,000 per student.

The actual factor seems to be socio-economic class rather than school funding. So, maybe we should focus more on helping people to help themselves first before giving that fat sack o’ loot to the local campus.

The Fat, Lazy American Stereotype Is Only Half Right

Apparently, you do and you just didn’t realize you’re using it.
Source: fitoverfourty.wordpress.com

If there’s one universal image of America in the minds of other countries, it’s the image of a rotund slob sitting in his reclining chair with a big bowl of Macaroni and Cheese. But the truth about that stereotype is much stranger than even most of us may know.

Yes, it is true that, among 11 to 15 year old Americans, 30 percent of them are medically classified as overweight or obese; making us the leaders in the obesity epidemic. But the problem is not with our lack of activity. According to a study by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, 26.8 percent of those same 11 to 15 year olds perform moderate to vigorous exercise and physical activity daily. That makes us the third best among the other 33 OECD nations.

This leads me to two conclusions; that maybe there’s another reason why we’re all going the way of the Violet Beauregard and that maybe all the medical panic over this “obesity epidemic” is a load of crap and creampuffs.