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The Lost Thing is an abandoned short, looking for a home in Oscar-land.

Gilliamesque cryptozoology!

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Oy and Vey.

Cool! Expolsions!

My apologies for the lack of embeddedness: The Last Mountain is so Rebellion that Teh Goog refused! [sic] to allow them to post their trailer on You Tube. You’ll have to follow the link and then click again to watch the trailer. The sign at the state line to West (By God) Virginia says, “West Virginia: Open for Business.” I saw it, I’m not messing. The Democratic party in West Virginia is where Massachusetts Republicans go to retire.

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Meet The Swaggers

Recently one of my more sage-like friends was commenting on yet another iteration of one of our culture’s most enduring (if not annoying) comedy tropes: a white doofus trying to act like an urban black. It’s a gag that is probably about five seconds older rap music. From SNL’s 1985 “White Guy Rap” and onward, the wayside of our cultural is littered with new & uninspired versions each year. And yet, you can know that a joke is formulaic and still laugh first.

Enter last year’s finest example of bourgeoise Big Primpin’, and one of 2010’s most viral ads: Toyota Sienna’s SE ad “Swagger Wagon.

The most common version of dweeb-hop is a straight-up parody of outsider aspiration, uncomplicated by any actual ability in the style being mimicked. In White Guy Rap, even by 1985 standards the “rap” is a joke. (One the other hand, one could say that Chamillion’s song Ridin’ Dirty was a joke before Weird Al got ahold of it.) With self-conscious suburbanites as the target market, the Sienna campaign had to thread the needle: you can’t really poke fun too pointedly at the intended buyer. Swagger Wagon braids gentle acknowledgment of the concessions of parenthood with passably authentic commercial hip-hop production. The gag is upheld by maintaining a wide gap between content and delivery: rapping about culdesacs with a stone-cold face. It’s an amusing novelty, but it also satisfies a deep need for cultural relevance on the part of those with no capital of any sort to invest in hipness. I’m told that one has to sacrifice enormous tracts of their former persona when they embark down the path of child rearing. And let’s face it: there is almost nothing less sexy than diapers.

I make a mean gel mold, I perfected my trick

back when – I used to party as a college chick

now I’m cruisin’ to their play dates lookin’ all slick

in my Swagger Wagon

Bridging the gap between dorm party Jell-O shots and kid’s birthday parties speaks powerfully to lost youth. The message is clear: the wife is paunchy (or outright prego, depending on which spot in the campaign you see) but not without a certain milfaliciousness. She doesn’t just apply Band-Aids: she’s a Sexy Nurse fetish. The husband ranges from contemptibly meek co-parent to comically hard-ass gangsta stoicism. The entire song is a stubborn reaffirmation of virility long-since sucked into the vortex of parenthood, like a Bob Seger ballad turned inside-out. I still laughed first. (Then I cried!)

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This video is a beautiful disaster. It looks like Terry Gilliam was kidnapped by steampunk robots and force-fed a tub of Plasticine and ipecac in the MOMA. It’s just lathered in anxious digital filigrees, and I think the whole thing would be a busy failure if it all weren’t less interesting than the heavy-lidded charisma of Eugene Hütz. In the past, the lead singer’s girlfriend would shake a tambourine or hold a triangle. We’ve finally disposed of that lie: just sit there and look hot. Slap your thighs to the beat if you feel like it.

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Lord knows I love completist infographics.

From World Famous Design Junkies:

The Grand Taxonomy of Rap Names.


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PREFACE:
“Miracles” by Insane Clown Posse
Miracles” on Slate
There’s almost nothing to say after the SNL sketch

–but I will slog on, pointlessly:

When I first encountered the Insane Clown Posse video for “Miracles,” I couldn’t help but think of it in terms of the concessions that subcultures must often make in favor of art that caters specifically to the subculture in question. I’m talking about Stryper. Smaller niche = smaller talent, usually. But “Miracles” is a song that many people insist is a parody on the first listen. Almost everything about it is what you might call ‘deliciously bad’—that perfect overlap of earnest and horrible that somehow manages to create a kind of pleasure for the aging & rapidly curdling sensibilities of Generations X and later. “Camp” is a sort of cultural Stockholm Syndrome that manifests itself in generations that are exposed to crappy, witless entertainment during their formative years.

I was curious: “Exactly how much quality must one sacrifice to satisfy a desire for content that is exclusively geared for insanity/circus training/outlaw status?” –But I totally missed it. The laughably stupid rhymes in Miracles are not an example of the best that crazy outlaw clowndome has to offer. It’s really more like when Michael Jordan tried out for the 1996 US Olympics Women’s Figure Skating Team. Or when GWAR made an entire album of ballads. Or when Sting rapped. Miracles exists in that garish space that is created when someone takes confident, blundering steps outside of their artistic wheelhouse. Another example is, “any song by Meatloaf.”

Insane Clown Posse’s forehand is syncopated descriptions of violence. They could give you 100 rhymes for “eviscerate” in under a minute, but the seemingly naive way that Violent J and Shaggy get mystical about perplexing natural phenomena—that they stubbornly insist are “miracles”—is genuine naivite to the forces at work in the world around us. Their sense of lobotomized-Thoreauean wonder at even the elemental aspects of nature is pure animism.

We live in a cyclone of information. It’s damn near impossible to get to your late 30’s with this kind of “innocence”— if you will—to the kinds of knowledge that most people accidentally build up like ear wax. Shaggy 2 Dope is a living, breathing, Cargo Cult walking around under Brooklyn’s LaGuardia flightpath. He’s a miracle.

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Left of the Dial, 1993, First Avenue, Minneapolis:

The Replacements, Talent Show, “Rock Awards”:

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So I was listening to Belle & Sebastian’s Dirty Dream Number Two, and the song got to the bridge, where the woman sing-speaks (1:55):

In a town so small theres no escaping you
In a town so small theres no escape from view
In a town so small theres nothing left to do

That gentle burr. Such a melancholy lilt, and the same time, unspeakably hot. I had a sudden moment of insight, like a single pin of light stabbing into the center of my forehead. Remember when Eddie first explains how he thought of the name ‘Dirk Diggler?’ Yeah, it was like that:

I Am a Bigger Fan of All Things Scottish than Dan

The safe version of this would be to say that The Only Thing Stronger Than Dan’s Grandiose Pride in his Scottish Heritage is My Jealousy of Same. (Family legend is that we are 2% Scottish, but family legend also contends that we have a similar (slightly less) amount of gypsy — not Romanian or Bulgarian mind you, but gypsy — which leads me to believe this history is somewhat suspect despite my longing for it to be true) But nooo, I’m going for the bolder claim.

See, Dan’s celebration of Ewan McGregor (the Flower of Scotland) weemers at the edges like false bravado.

Sure, always a booster of Big Country, that Dan. But his advocacy has a strong whiff of novelty about it, like his “unapologetic” (–such a preemptive “NOT SORRY” always implicitly acknowledges the need for qualification, obviously diminishing the original claim) love for that paperback Sting fanbook. (Sting, “he’s so hot…he’s cool!”) Dan likes Big Country like a Scottish Men At Work. Dan likes Big Country like he liked The Hooters. Which is to say, with a giant wink, and when it really comes down to it: not really.

Here’s what I bring to the table:

•  I cried like a little girl at Braveheart, a movie one shouldn’t even admit to having seen, let alone being moved by. Went in for some good claymores & kilts action, went out in diapers.

•  In my formative years I jerked off to Sheena Easton’s Strut every single day for three years straight. Three Years Straight.

• Dan never even havers! I haver with some frequency just on principle alone.

• Dan, finish this song lyric: “This is the story of over and ______.” (No googling!) See? He doesn’t even know it.

• It always made me angry that Destro, the supposed “Scottish arms dealer” on the old G.I. Joe cartoons, never had a Scottish accent, but a recycled vader-esque rebreather. Mind you I was not merely annoyed by this. It made me angry. (How Scottish is that?)

• I’m fairly certain I like Franz Ferdinand more than Dan does, but I’m pretty sure I like The Strokes better too, so it might be an unfair case of sub-genrephilia.

•  I liked Del Amitri back when it was very uncool to do so. Dan? Never liked them, even scoffed at them: merely because they sucked.

And now I must impeach Dan’s alleged Scottishness:

How Scottish is Dan, really? Sure, he has the name. But I knew a black dude named McDuffy. Now how Irish do you think he was? (And he wasn’t Mariah Carey black, either. he was Ron Artest black. He was Wes Snipes black.)

And does Dan really appreciate the great Scottish geniuses, like Ivor Cutler? I bring you a brilliant absurdist poet from the highlands. Dan dismisses him with a wave and an upturned nose.

Dan was always a better drinker than he was a fighter. I think he’s actually more Irish than he is Scottish. He sure did love The Commitments…

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Kneel before the pure awesomeness.

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I am just ripping off Andrew Sullivan today. It loses something in the bridge where they start to critique the video, but ends strong:

Fonzie’s been cloned.

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Always have, really. What a song writer.

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And the hits keep coming. Jesse bags another chicken hawk, Brian Kilmeade.

I think he’s at his limit. Just killing ’em.

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Haggis-tastic!

Good times.

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Larry Wilmore on Obama taking all the fun out of being black.

“What, are you kidding, people are lovin’ this!”

One hopes that there’s another “Bringing Down Da House” in production. That’ll help. And Steve Martin never slums below his talent level.

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doc01

Despite the loss.

51 points. Jesus.

Best. First Round. Series. Ever.

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Springsteen had Tom Morello play on “Tom Joad” and Mike Ness from Social D play “Bad Luck” on Tax Day. I missed it. But, thanks to the power of the InterWeb, I feel like I was THERE!!!

Or at least, experiencing a choppy, compressed, notepad-sized version of it. They’re super-comparable.

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Oh…. yes.

I can just imagine the writer’s meeting:

“Let’s not do a monologue. Let’s just try something different, and odd, and fun.”
“No monologue? That won’t work, man!”
“Why not?”
“‘Cause… well, just ‘cause, brah. It’s a Late Night show. That’s not the tone of our show.”
“Let’s try something new.”
“But it’s never been done!”
“That’s why it’ll be fun! Let’s mess some shit up!”
“But what’re we gonna do about the monologue?”
“We won’t do one. We’ll just have this dance.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, brah. Slow down. No monologue…?!?

I wanna go drinking with Ferguson.

He’s what? Sober?

Never mind.

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I made this!

http://gizmodo.com/5165025/souper-action-figure-spoons-make-being-all-growed-up-regrettable

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I thought Roasts were dead, especially after Norm McDonald’s genius “anti-set” during the Bob Saget roast. McDonald came onstage, and made the filth look completely irrelevent, by being funnier than ever comedian onstage by refusing to play by the dirty one-upsmanship game.

You could see everyone onstage going, “What is he doing?” until they got it, and then every comic onstage realizes they’ve been owned by a guy who doesn’t really care whether the audience gets it or not. True bravery.

So I’m not really taking a shot at Larry the Cable Guy or whomever they decide to do next. After Norm, the whole format is tired, which to me is the antithesis of comedy.

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Getting close to the end of my viewing of Deadwood. The other night, I watched the Leviathan Smiles episode, which was about as close as I come to being overcome by the writing and execution of film. It made me jealous of David Milch’s talent, despairing of not being able to write like that, and sad that I’m almost out of episodes to watch. Which is my cynical Irish way of saying I loved it.

David Milch makes me feel like Saul on the Road to Damascus: watching Deadwood reveals to me what art can and should be. And, according to Milch in this Tavis Smiley interview, provides further evidence of the artist as vessel and, in the best of respects, hopefully egoless and attentive to The Voice.

Here’s a typically brilliant Milch exhange: George Hearst (played by Gerald McRaney) threatens A.W. Merrick (portrayed by Jeffrey Jones) after Merrick has published an embarrassing letter to Hearst from the Sheriff:

George Hearst: I’m to take you for majestically neutral?
Merrick: I’d make the less exalted claim, as a journalist, of keeping my opinions to myself.
George Hearst: You are less majestically neutral than cloaking your cowardice in principle?
Merrick: I can only answer perhaps, Mr. Hearst, events have not yet disclosed to me all that I am.

Good Lord, that’s writing. Events have not yet disclosed to me all that I am. Humbleness, philosophy on predeterminism, quiet yet terrified dignity in the face of tyranny, all in one sentence. Wow.

God, I hate him.

On Kenwoode: Sending more panels out to Carl tonight. He should be finished with panels 3 and 4 soon, and I’m gonna be finishing panels 5 and 6 tonight (the ones I’ll “ship”) and will keep working over my Christmas break.

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I just finished watching Steamboy about 4 days ago. After sitting on the dvd for at least a year.

An excellent description, which pretty much nails the uncomfortable place that it put me in: I hate feeling (the way new Disney movies so often make me) that extraordinary talent has been in service of mediocre (or committee) art/story direction. The follow through on Steamboy was first rate, and the designs, backgrounds, pallette, everything about the industrial revolution setting was gorgeous. So why did the multiple endings feel so tedious (and even painful, when you think about how much work went into them)? And why does the story leave you ultimately so empty?

For starters, I think it bears pointing out that this is Otomo, not Miyazaki. Miyazaki is an accolyte of the Campbell school. Otomo’s most successful work owes itself to a stunning studio follow-through, surrounding a sort of foxhole romance formed in the midst of chaos. (hmmm…)

Everything about the romantic story is half-assed. We are invited to scorn Scarlett for being a contemptable priss until she is the only living human being of breeding age within nautical miles of Ray. Then we really want her to live, right?

What they did right: I loves me a David Seagal-esque plot reversal (surprise! your surrogate Dad is an asshole too) Oh, the disillusionment! (I’m being a dick — I thought that was a great reveal)

What they did wrong: everyone Ray had come to previously trust is a corrupt POS. Ray’s crazy unibomber grampa is the only voice of reason. Is he really right? Demolishing every other allegorical point of view without replacing it with something –anything– is pretty damned nihilistic for 1880.

What I found amusing: how many times can you steam-punk’t Star Wars in one movie? Luke, Leia, Vader(x2), Obi-Wan. Of course a steam-powered Death Star posing the same question — will the machinery of industry serve mankind or enslave it? (in Star Wars the Death Star was a metaphor for State, but close e-fucking-nough)

Rarely does a movie fail in such similar ways as it’s characters do. MORE PRESSURE! I DON’T CARE! DIVERT ALL VALVES TO TECHNOBABBLE!

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We’re off.

Here’s the plan: I’ll be sending pencilled panels to Carl, which he will then hastily ink. He was concerned intitially that he wouldn’t either a. be able to ink fast/well enough, or b. be too sloppy. (I think those were his concerns; I paraphrase). I assured him that a. he’s a turd, and b. the point of the whole project is to just get it done. Obviously, we’d both like it done well. And I wouldn’t have asked Carl to work on it with me, unless he wasn’t already brilliant with pen ‘n’ ink.

I’ll be uploaded the first couple of panels in a couple of days. Await with baited breath, you vast audience of none.

Oh, and Joanna Newsome knocks me on my ass:

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