Friday, December 24, 2010

I saw the po-lice arresting Santa Claus?

Nope! Don't worry-- according to The Law and the Multiverse, a blog that takes a close look at superheroes and their actions in the context of US law, they'd have a hard time making the charges stick:

At first glance it might seem that Santa Claus is liable in tort and criminal law for trespass, but the homeowner’s consent negates both charges. Sending letters to Santa, hanging stockings with care, setting out milk and cookies, and the like are all clear manifestations of consent for Santa Claus to enter one’s home and deposit presents (or coal, as the case may be). Indeed I suspect it would be quite difficult to find someone who received a present from Santa Claus yet could honestly claim that he or she did not consent to its delivery.

This is a really interesting blog that I'm sure you guys will get a kick out of. Some of the language goes over my head but the explanations are very clear and get broken down for the laymen. Found this via The New York Times. Says the article, "The site thus suggests that in the grand Venn diagram of life, there appears to be substantial overlap between lawyers and the people Mr. Daily lovingly refers to as 'comic book nerds.'" Something I definitely noticed, especially at Midtown Comics in Manhattan. If you ever went during lunchtime, there were always these youngish to middle-aged men in suits standing around reading the latest magazines. It was always a fun thing to see.

Oh yeah, and it's relevant to the real world, too. Or at least, it will be one day:

Professor Somin added that debating the legal ramifications of superpowers might bring a smile, but might also prove the foundation for something more important some day. “Over the next several decades we’re going to see technology and powers emerge that today only exist in science fiction and comic books,” he said, citing Arthur C. Clarke’s famous saying that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

[pic source]

i'd never steal from santa

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010


I'm sure you've seen this floating around. At first I was a little nervous because, as you know, I have a deep and abiding love for Bing Crosby, and will violently defend him, alcoholism and all (not that you have to do this in a world where top 40 hits talk about gargling with liquor, as far as I can tell.) Anyway, it turned out that Will Ferrel and John C Reilly have made what is a rather sweet homage to the original-- very wackadoo if you think about it-- video while still leading up to a pretty funny payoff. Turns out you can make a joke very funny with only a few simple elements, and not a fart in sight. Because remember, you cunts. He's Bing Fucking Crosby pal okay?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

holiday in cambodia

The more I think about this song, the more problematic I find it. Don't worry; it's not about being PC. It's just that Khmer Rouge-era Cambodia was such a shockingly weird and tragic place. The leadership operated under secrecy, they were doing things like abolishing money and clearing out the cities. The numbers from their secret prison, S-21, rare somewhere around 7 survivors for the 17,000 who went through. You had a .04% chance of getting out of there. I was assigned Voices from S-21: Terror and History in Pol Pot's Secret Prison by David Chandler to read in school and I couldn't make it all the way through. It was that disturbing.

So the song is ostensibly about rich kids in the US acting in a self-righteous manner by professing their empathy and understanding of plights less fortunate than theirs, all while driving around on the East Coast in their dad's fancy car that I couldn't even tell you the maker of.

So you been to school
For a year or two
And you know you've seen it all
In daddy's car
Thinkin' you'll go far
Back east your type don't crawl

You're right, Jello Bifra. Nobody likes those people. And you say it in such a catchy way. He next suggests that these kids should check out Cambodia in order to see how bad it can really be:

Well you'll work harder
With a gun in your back
For a bowl of rice a day
Slave for soldiers
Till you starve
Then your head is skewered on a stake.

One problem is is that that last line there is a little too Orientalist for my taste. It almost says, Oh those wacky Cambodians. They put heads on stakes just like those Polynesians do. And the Indians did. And the Vikings. It's a classic trope of barbarianism, along with, like, not wearing shoes and going months without bathing-- and barbarians, by it's etymology, is simply the group in opposition to us. That's lazy-- which is my main problem with slogans in general; it's a distillation of complex issues into a single, sensationalist soundbite that lets people be lazy about understanding those complex issues that are now lost the moment you put it on a shirt or tote bag.

In fact, the cover of the single is a picture from a 1976 student massacre in Thailand. Thailand is not the same country as Cambodia. They might all look the same, but they're not. Maybe they're the ones that put heads on stakes?

But really what it is is that the lyrics suggest that Jello Biafra's main concern is not describing the problem with the situation in Cambodia, or even exposing it to the casual listener. It's about how the existence of that situation is beneficial to him because it let's him stick it to the fat capitalist cats he has problems with. He is doing the same thing that he accuses the people in the song of doing: using the plight of others to prove a point about himself. Here he is saying that his awareness makes him superior and thus righteous. This is exactly what he says the kids in the song are doing. If we were really going to look at Cambodia under Pol Pot, you could say that that toothless bum living under the overpass has it better than the people over there. Because it's true. That shit was fucked. up. Maybe we all need to be sent back in time over there to truly realize how lucky we are-- the kids on the crew team at the Ivy Leagues, the suburban moms in their SUVs, the punk kids in their squats. But I don't think that's how people learn or solve their problems. If you spend all your time comparing your situation to the desperate conditions of others, you can't get things done.

I thought of this while reading the comments under a Youtube video of the Foo Fighters & Serj Tankian of System of a Down covering the song at the VMAs. The argument, as usual, was how nobody in the audience knew the song & they suck. First off, who cares. If you're worried about who listens to what music, and that's how you decide your tastes, you're giving them an awful lot of control-- you are giving them the power-- and not paying attention to the merits of the actual art. But it also showed me that this song hasn't sparked discussion about Cambodia, history, or even class divides. People were more interested in whether seeing this vid got people into the Dead Kennedys rather than wondering if they became interested in the Cambodia of the title-- a name perhaps only used by the song in a sensationalist, exploitative way? (Second nature to the band in light of their name.) The discussion was thus concerned with labels and constructs and superiority-- could this be the case because that's all the song is about, and the lyrics and phrases and name dropping is simply to rile people up rather than to make them think?

It's still relevant today-- some of the leaders are only just now being put on trial.

It's also too bad that kids today have taken the lyrics seriously and decided to slum it in order to gain whatever cred your scene gets you.

Play ethnicky jazz
To parade your snazz
On your five grand stereo
Braggin' that you know
How the niggers feel cold
And the slums got so much soul

That's what half the kids I knew in NYC were about-- adopting mannerisms, living habits, and addictions in order to prove that they haven't "seen it all/In daddy's car." That they've seen it at ground zero instead. You're still doing it in "daddy's car" if he's paying for your rent, coke habit, & credit card. These are all addictions they can afford, with the help of their therapists-- and I know your part-time Urban Outfitters pay can't be covering that. The style of proving one's awareness and empathy might have changed but the philosophy behind it hasn't. Nowadays, you might be living IN the slums rather than driving by them, but you're still doing it to prove that you got the "soul" that you presume these slums to have, and that they have it by virtue of deprivation. What's most reprehensible is that they are leeching off others' misfortune and it is in their interest that neighborhoods remain dangerous rather than thriving. Plus their very presence (and its purchasing power) is one of improvement through gentrification rather than community building from within.

But on the other hand, whatever. I like the song. Let's go.

Monday, December 13, 2010

5 Most Disappointing Music Videos of 2010

2010's Five Most Disappointing Videos, most of them sadly paired with really good songs.

Teenage Anarchist - Against Me! - This vid is just as bland as their sound is threatening to become. Don't get me wrong-- I like some catchy pop punk any day of the week, but I kind of want a fun video to go with it-- I need the whole package. Not the video of how the wrong stripper showed up to the lead singer's bachelor party. (Though could an argument be that this simplified view of us versus them meshes with his "teenage anarchist" ideals?)

3000 Miles Away - Star Fucking Hipsters - Same thing with this vid-- take your martyr complex out on your therapist. Not us. It presents an oversimplified vision not so much of brutality but of incarceration in general. What if the other four were, I don't know, arrested with 20 dead illegal immigrants in the back of their truck. What if they're trying to find the other 30 immigrants in their other truck? And they're orphans? In the truck? GET LENNIE BRISCOE BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE GUYS! Anyway, that's not cool. And if Ethan Suplee is in this, does that mean SFH is now part of the Scientology conspiracy web that runs media? I mean, look at the production value on this: it's spiffy! (Ok. Jedi mindtrick moment is funny.)

Infinity Guitars - Sleigh Bells - I am so over anarchy cheerleaders. I didn't like it when Nirvana did it. All that goes through my head is Be Aggressive, which isn't a bad thing I suppose. This video does support my theory that hipsters are the new douchey McJocks of the decade, though.

Born Free - MIA - I remember when I liked MIA? In high school, they were playing Fire Fire on the radio and I was digging it like one of those Egyptian guys in Raiders of the Lost Ark. (Right? They excavate the Well of Souls in like, 4 hours.) Then it kind of got annoying-- then she kind of got annoying. And now this sensationalist drivel to match her revolutionary chic, something she's not even revolutionizing herself; it's always been about the flash and bang and tanks painted pink, and not about answering questions and providing information and awareness. This video takes that to the NINE MINUTE max and instead of defying expectations only has one thing to say-- MIA has nothing to say.

Florence and the Machine - Dog Days Are Over 2010 Version - I'm all over the place with Florence & the Machine, and this is on here more on principle-- I can take or leave the video, which is a little bit of awkward America's Next Top Model photoshoot put in the easy-to-digest-avant-garde blender. But I think it's 100% nonsense that they've released another video when they had a perfectly decent one out their already. I couldn't tell you what the old vid looked like but this new move is a total George Lucas, this time with some backup dancers rejected from a Cramps video.

Bonus: I saw this on TV & it makes me uncomfortable.

did you know AFI is still around?!

What are they up to, you ask? Dressing up like Maroon 5 at a New Jersey after prom party & making unremarkable singles. Maaan, they were so hot in high school.

New Patrick Wolf track - hooray!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

" And they sort of enjoy that they are the great showdowns."

I want to show you all of them right here right now! but I can't so here are a few favorites. Go check out the rest, from 12 Angry Men to some Big Trouble in Little China at Mr. C's Great Showdowns. You can also see his other devastatingly cute & clever works at his blog.

a very cool painting of a snake by edel rodriguez

gary shteyngart on Reading

A little follow-up on the conversation we've been having on the power of reading (via The Rumpus). My employers in NYC were very cool people: they had a double subscription to the New Yorker & gave me the extra copy each week. It was great to have it to read on the subway because sometimes you want to take your mind out of gear and read a magazine, a movie review, and so forth. (Especially if it had taken you a month, ie 5 days a week, 2 subway rides a day-- to get through only the first volume of the B&N Sherlock Holmes collection. Or you're trying to read the NYRB explain the economy.) There were some great articles in those pages and short stories that ranged from horrendously smarmy and icky in a I hate this guy way (like one about a screenplay writer at a party in Hollywood. For real, like who likes to read about that stuff.) to really really good. This was around the time the controversial 20 under 40 came out (nobody likes precocious children) and Gary Shteyngart's story stood out. It was funny & touching, and turned out to be a lead-in into his book Super Sad True Love Story, which everyone and their grandma loves and I swear I will read someday.

I've noticed that the New Yorker has been cordoning off more and more of the fiction on their website, which is too bad. Anyway--
Reading requires an act of empathy, really. What you're doing when you're reading a book is saying, I'm going to turn off who I am for a little bit, and I'm going to enter the personality of another human being. Reading is a very generous act, but it's a very helpful act if you really want to understand what another person is like. [Gary Shteyngart]

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

odds n ends

Just some stuff--

1. Why is the notorious Michiko Kakutani writing Family Guy fanfic? I didn't get a goddamn thing out of this review (check out this one instead) except that it's narrated by a dog. Plus, I don't even like Family Guy. (Is this controversial?: I think American Dad is a lot better.)

2. Vulture has 7 steps on how to on hate the Beatles, who are now available on iTunes. I don't quite get the point but it is kinda amusing in that you could apply it to not liking anything that is generally popular.

5. Don’t have some big overarching narrative about baby boomers or technology or anything. The point here is that you’re amazing people by not enjoying the Beatles’ music, not Western history. Don’t start trotting out complex arguments about the cultural influence of baby boomers or the role of legendary bands in a “narrowcast” culture — you’re disliking a band, not writing a trend article for Wired [. . .]

7. Remain calm and amused. Hey, you just happen to not enjoy the Beatles — it’s everyone else who’s getting weirdly worked up about that. Maintain a sense of bafflement, as if you’ve been immersed in a glorious world of music way better than the Beatles, and are slightly confused that all this is happening[. . .]

We’d be remiss not to note, though, that any environment in which these tricks really work is probably not a fun one for you to be around in the first place.

Anyway, I have a one-point rebuttal on why you should love the Beatles: this. Oh yeah.

Friday, December 03, 2010

GAP owns Christmas

Shame on me for this in light of the rampant commercialization of Christmas. Or look at it this way: money funds the arts? I dunno. Anyway, I vaguely remember these ads on TV, but only just ran across them on Youtube. Obviously I dig the Janelle Monae cos it's Janelle Monae. I also dig "Baby It's Cold Outside" because of Selma Blair, who I'm all about simply because she's in Hellboy. I'm that easy.

no doubt vid

This No Doubt cover I can take or leave, much like No Doubt in general; it's got good energy. But I just saw the video (never knew there was one) and it's pretty silly in a good way.

sharing is caring.

So, guys-- do you agree with Wired that "The Age of Music Piracy is Officially Over"? I don't, especially because I was never downloading things because I didn't like the sound quality offered by Apple. (Actually, this whole thing is probably just an article sponsored by Apple. Cos they would do that, I tell you. My secret shame is that I have an iPod, but happily not one track on there was purchased via iTunes-- which can I say has been annoying the heck outta me? I've made the informed decision, after trying out version 9 or whatever, to go back down to 7, which I like fine. I might have mentioned this before. But all the recent updates have just been add-ons to get you to buy music-- Genius thing, or whatever. And that really annoying feature where it scrolls back to whatever song starts playing, so if you were browsing around in the Rs but listening to, say, your Justin Bieber music, it scrolls back up to that part of the alphabet when the next song plays? That drives me batshit. for real.)

I do find that it's harder to find new releases to nab, but what the hell. This is actually relevant because I think someone requested on a dusty old post for a file reupload-- I just can't track down what it was. I'm very sorry to say that, as you guys recall, I've had to change my policy to no more full album uploads. Keep in mind, though, it's pretty easy to do a Google search or to convert, say, Youtube audios into mp3s, so best of luck to you, sir or madam!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Jeeves contd

My Best of Wodehouse is one of my proudest acquisitions. It's fancy & hard-covered and a seriously for real classy Everyman's edition.

The above is cool, too. It's from the blog Inside a Black Apple. The artist, Emily, also has an Etsy store with some sweet stuff.

Hugh Laurie on Wodehouse

I was, in truth, a horrible child. Not much given to things of a bookey nature, I spent a large part of my youth smoking Number Six and cheating in French vocabulary tests. I wore platform boots with a brass skull and crossbones over the ankle, my hair was disgraceful, and I somehow contrived to pull off the gruesome trick of being both fat and thin at the same time[. . .]

But this, you will be nauseated to learn, is a tale of redemption. In about my 13th year, it so happened that a copy of Galahad at Blandings by PG Wodehouse entered my squalid universe, and things quickly began to change. From the very first sentence of my very first Wodehouse story, life appeared to grow somehow larger. There had always been height, depth, width and time, and in these prosaic dimensions I had hitherto snarled, cursed, and not washed my hair. But now, suddenly, there was Wodehouse, and the discovery seemed to make me gentler every day. By the middle of the fifth chapter I was able to use a knife and fork, and I like to think that I have made reasonable strides since.

© New Blogger Templates | Webtalks