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04 January 2010 @ 09:51 pm
Current Music: This is Hardcore, Pulp
02 January 2010 @ 06:36 pm

I have to admit that it's tough for me to crap all over Ayn Rand when I haven't read more than a few hundred words of her writing. I could be basing my dislike on a few out of context quotes, but when your philosophy seems to boil down to "every man for his (or her) self" it's difficult to be patient. It's hard to comment on a given work intelligently if it makes you angry to the point where you can't actually force yourself to sit through it.

Reddit, the website that the above image is pulled from, has a demographic that skews towards students, which gives me hope. However to suggest that a person should read nothing as opposed to say, anything, is obviously self-defeating. Instead of suggesting someone should avoid reading a specific book, maybe you should suggest that they read a specific book in its stead. The forth book on the list was Brave New World, which would be great, and further down at sixth was Calvin and Hobbes, even better.

Interesting note, for a long while I believed that the RAND corporation had named itself in tribute to the author. The use of all-caps should have been a dead giveaway to the name being an acronym, but you have to admit there are some eerie parallels.
Current Music: Toxic, Mark Ronson
31 December 2009 @ 06:55 pm

Presented here for you is another example of monkeys being tortured for your amusement.

Ostensibly, the zookeepers are giving the monkeys the ambrosia as a treat, but really they just want to see what the monkeys do when presented with a confounding situation. If they wanted to be nice to the monkeys, they'd just give them the fruit, perhaps extra fruit even, without the confusing gelatin barrier defeating their efforts to obtain the delicious fruit.

Those monkeys must have done something terrible to deserve this kind of torture and incarceration. It's like like a simian Abu Graib.

Anyways, Happy New Year, never love in vain, and take a cup of kindness yet for Auld Lang Syne.
Current Music: Flight of the Feathered Serpent, Fuck Buttons.
30 December 2009 @ 10:59 pm

I'm just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.

What's way more annoying than a bad movie being incredibly popular? Smart people complaining about how bad that obviously terrible movie is and how it shouldn't be as popular as it is.

Here was my Avatar experience ~

Step 1 : Saw the poster and knew I would hate it if I were to watch it.
Step 2 : Read a description of the plot and had my suspicions confirmed.
Step 3 : Did not buy a ticket to see the movie, and patted myself on the back for my wise judgment.
Step 4 : Got to hear any number of seemingly intelligent people complain about how bad it was.

Now I'm more annoyed at the complainers than the movie because those people should be smart enough to suss out what's lame from that which is worth watching. Just as nature has provided us with certain visual indicators to help us easily identify people with down's syndrome, so has it provided us with indicators to help us figure which films are retarded without having to actually sit through them.

Plus, when somebody shits on a movie by extension they're shitting on all the people who liked it, which is impolite at least. If I don't see the movie, I can get away with shitting on it because I can say simply that I didn't think I'd like it so I didn't go see it. Which is nicer than crapping on everyone and everything. And if I never actually see the movie, if someone comes up and tells me they liked Avatar I can't judge them because I haven't seen the movie myself, and therefore I'll never know if the person is an idiot because as far as I know the movie might actually be great. BUT I'LL NEVER KNOW.
Current Music: Fuck Buttons, Sweet Love for Planet Earth
04 October 2009 @ 08:56 pm
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Current Music: Julianna Barwick - Bode | Powered by Last.fm
29 September 2009 @ 10:44 pm
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A pitch for a SNL sketch.

“Comme Ci, Comme Ça” is a send-up of a traditional sitcom starring First Ladyof the United States Michelle Obama and her best friend, First Lady of France Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. The sketch begins with Michelle and Carla making catty comments about the other first ladies in the bathroom of a banquet hall where a dinner for G20 leaders is being served. Carla is exceptionally vicious, and while Michelle playfully scolds her, she can’t help but agree. As they exit the lav, First Lady of the United Kingdom Sarah Brown explodes from one of the stalls in tears. She says “I’ll never be one of the beautiful ones!”, or words to that effect. Smash cut to ~ a title sequence for Michelle and Carla’s sitcom, titled “Comme Ci, Comme Ça!” with one of Carla’s pop hits playing underneath. After the credits, a brief satirical ad for Goldman Sachs. Fade into Michelle outside of the banquet hall looking worried. A secret service agent approaches her and tells her that they’ve looked all over for Mrs. Sarkozy, but have found no trace of her. All of a sudden, Carla stumbles out of the shrubbery, half-drunk. Michelle chides her for this display, but Carla, no shrinking violet snaps back. Alcohol has changed her from the prim and proper stateswoman that we’re used to into Patsy from AbFab. “I used to party with Mick Jagger and Karl Lagerfield, now I have to pretend that I’m in love with some pompous troll! What kind of life is this?”she screams. A maître d’ informs Mrs. Obama that Mrs. Sarkozy has given the president of Burkina Faso a fat lip, and defiled the Lombardi trophy. Michelle reminds the maître d’ that she is a lawyer and that in the process of getting Carla out of this mess she’ll “make Vincent Bugliosi look like Marcia Clark.” Michelle steps over to Carla, who is now retching into a sewer. Michelle begins to chide Carla again, but Carla sheepishly and ashamedly cuts her off, letting her know that “she won’t make another XYZ affair out of this whole thing.” Michelle apologizes for being so judgmental, to which Carla replies, “Mon cher, you’re the greatest.”

It needs work, but I think it’d make it on the air.
Current Music: Holy Fuck - Frenchy’s | Powered by Last.fm
06 September 2009 @ 08:51 pm

Low Moon ~ by Jason.

The conceit behind the work of comics author Jason is that his work should be considered absurd or ridiculous by virtue of the fact that it employs anthropoid farm animals in place of human beings in his stories. Also the use of a deceivingly simplistic stylized art style leads the reader to digest his work as juvenile diversions. This stupefacient effect is confounded as the stories conclude with mature and sincere moments. To reiterate, Jason initiates his stories with a childlike sense of play and wonder, and concludes them with a sense of melancholy and solemnity.

Unlike previous books from Jason, Low Moon is a collection of five stories, rather than one self-contained story. While the stories are divergent in tone and length, they all deal with the same themes of death, desperation, and failure. Each story in written in a different genre, including murder mystery, noir, western, slapstick and science fiction. It’s interesting however, to look at that list and realize that each story could be assigned to more than one genre. For example, the story that lends its name to the compilation’s title is obviously a western, but since it’s also a screwball parody of the film High Moon, we can see that it belongs to more that one genre. This intermeshing of genres is another way of how Jason confounds the reader’s expectations to create an uneasy feeling of incertitude.

The book’s most interesting story comes in the form of the aptly titled &, which plays not only with the reader’s preconceived notions of the essence of comics, but also their notions of form. Jason tells two stories in &, the first involving a man who needs to steal money to pay for an operation that will save his mother’s life, and the second involving a man who murders the rival suitors of a woman he wishes to marry. One story is told on the verso sides of the pages, while the other is told on the rectos. The effect is that one story of the first story is followed directly by a page from the second, and the stories alternate pages until they intertwine and conclude. Thus the title, &; it’s one story & then another. The stories literally face off against one another, and the reader is left to judge the protagonists, whether one is justified, and the other a heel, or whether one tale is funny and the other grim, and so forth. These dichotomies define the story, balancing one another and conclude with a sense of unease and despair. I can’t recall another comic where this device of alternating pages was used, but it felt very natural. It’s nice to see an artist like Jason play with form, and use it effectively in a story to assist the narrative and make a comment on its theme.

As part of Jason’s larger body of work, the stories in Low Moon perpetuate the artist’s sense of melancholic desperation. The characters in these stories all share a sense of longing, and have all endured an episode of loss. The protagonists in Jason’s stories often seem plagued by feelings of regret, and the plots seem driven by their attempts to put things right. More often than not, they fail, but not before they realize that putting things right isn’t necessary and the morose conclusions of Jason’s stories are often peppered with bittersweet senses of accomplishment.
Current Music: Beirut - Mimizan | Powered by Last.fm
30 August 2009 @ 02:21 pm

At the end of Inglourious Basterds, "Apache" Aldo Raine, played by Brad Pitt, refers to an act of violence that he commits as his "masterpiece". This is of course Quentin Tarantino winking at the audience through the screen, half-jokingly telling us that he regards the film with high esteem, even in the light of his other much-lauded cinematic successes. As the film galloped to its conclusion, I have to admit I was already beginning to apply the same word, masterpiece, to the film that Apache applied to his skill with a knife.

The film is far and away the best film I've seen so far this year, and in the Tarantino canon, I have to put it at least on par with Pulp Fiction as his best, and repeated viewing may shove it ahead. I think it is cinema as literature, and should be discussed in college classrooms and salons for years to come.

The film, more so than any other work by Tarantino, is directly metatextual. While Tarantino has in the past positioned himself as a postmodern director by referencing, quoting, and sometimes directly lifting from other films, this is the movie where I feel he's commented on the actual medium and experience of watching movies the most. When a theater burns in the movie, I'm immediately reminded that I'm in theater while I'm watching the movie. When the audience is gunned down while the image of the theater owner come film star taunts them from the screen, I can't help but think some kind of comment is being made on the act of film-making and movie-going. In my eyes, I suspect that Tarantino means to posit that both are acts of apotheosis.

Which is not to say that this film isn't about Nazis and how evil they were. The film sets the goal for its heroes as killing the people who kill the Jewish people in its first scene by having the main antagonist ruthlessly murder a Jewish family. The next scene focuses on the recruitment of a squadron of Jewish American soldiers who swear to kill as many Nazis as possible. The lines between good and evil are very quickly drawn, and rarely blurred. While Apache and his men commit horrible acts of violence, their bloodthirst is forgiven by the fact that the people they butcher have it coming. The act of identifying one's self as a Nazi is an unforgivable act and is accordingly punishable by Apache giving the Nazis he chooses to spare the equivalent of the mark of Cain.

There are moments however, when the audience is meant to sympathize with the villains. There is one character who while being a Nazi, is also young, handsome, conflicted, and in love. He shows guilt and remorse, and at the climax of his character arc, he is intensely pathetic. However instead of letting the audience persist in feeling bad for the boy, Tarantino quickly has the character perform a deeply unsympathetic act, drilling into the audience's head that Nazis are villains and are not to be trusted, liked, nor forgiven. Evil and good rub up against each other in this film but they never intersect.

Besides all that, the film was a masterpiece for not only Tarantino, but actors Brad Pitt, Mélanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz, cinematographer Robert Richardson, and art director Sebastian T. Krawinkel. I can't gush about this film anymore, but to say that I'm sure this is a film that I'll be revisiting again and again in my life.
Current Music: Joy Division - Wilderness | Powered by Last.fm
21 August 2009 @ 07:35 pm

What popular / acclaimed art did you come to too late in life to really enjoy?
~ The Onion AV Club

Since I've been (no easy way of putting this) not blogging recently, I've had to seek out some foreign stimulus to get me writing here again. It's come in the form of a question posed by The Onion AV Club, an always reliable touchstone when it comes to food for thought.

Believe it or not, my mind immediately went to comics when I posed this question to myself. The question wasn't should I choose a comic, but which comic would I choose? I grew up a Marvel fan, and due to limited funds and interest, I stayed away from the DC universe for whatever reason. Looking back, I don't know why I would have favored one over the other. Both universes had the same kind of characters, both were being written by brilliant writers and being illustrated by amazing artists. But for some reason Marvel Comics managed to get to me first, in spite of the fact the DC had the more popular characters at the time. There were far more Superman and Batman movies to go to when I was a kid than Iron Man or X-Men movies. Maybe that's why, the characters smacked of the outré. While everyone new about Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne, not everyone knew of Tony Stark or Steve Rogers yet. It gave me instant insider status, in my own eyes at least.

So I didn't get to Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis' Justice League until recently, which is a shame because it's something I would have enjoyed greatly when I was young. It featured superheroes behaving silly, skewering the tropes while not betraying them. Also, when I look at Guy Gardner now it's like looking in a mirror, at least physically, and maybe also because of his short temper. Maybe if I got to this book when I was young I could have learned to not be like him a little quicker. Seeing him laid out by Batman as seen above might have gotten the message across. It's a shame that when I read it now, that I'm not reading it with fresh eyes, and a more childlike sense of humor. But it's still pretty great. Maybe I'll hold on to it for my hypothetical children, because I'm sure they'd love it. Comics are supposed to be fun, at least if part of their audience is kids, so superhero comics must have fun in spades.
Current Music: The Ruby Suns - Tane Mahuta | Powered by Last.fm
10 July 2009 @ 03:29 pm

Hola amigos. I know it's been a long time since I rapped at ya.

In the past two weeks we've seen two deaths, one literal and one figurative. Neither of which I feel particularly inclined to write about, yet I feel that they both deserve some comment. The words "rest in peace" feel especially poignant in these two cases, since I feel neither person deserves either my praise or derision at this point. Michael Jackson, while being a great pop musician and a source of joy in my youth, was also, more likely than not, a child molester. Also saying that someone was a great pop musician is a bit like saying that they were a great ad consultant or typograhper, things which in my mind serve their purpose in society, but don't make you Mother Theresa. Governor Palin, while not being an evil person, did espouse untoward ideas, and therefore deserves my ire. However now that she will soon hold no actual political power, attacking her would be beating a dead horse.

I do like one or two Michael Jackson songs, but not enough to welcome with open arms the deluge of airplay that his songs recently received . I was not running to the record store, would that record stores still existed, to purchase his back catalog. Also, like many mega-celebs, Jackson seemed to use his wealth and fame in one of the worst possible manners, to build monuments to himself. Like the pharoahs of old building their pyramids, many famous and rich people seek immortality through their legacy, which the wise will tell you, will be nothing but dust eons from now. My name is Michael Jackson. Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair. Nothing beside remains.

Governor Palin always seemed to fly higher than her wings could carry. She bumbled, blathered and bolloxed her way through her candidacy for VPOTUS, to the point where I'm certain future generations will see her walking hand in hand with Thomas Eagleton, Aaron Burr, and William Rufus King. She was a reliable source of amusement while she held office, but now that it's ending I'd prefer to not speak about her anymore. Much in the same way that I'd don't talk about Ann Coulter or Bill O'Reilly unless it's to talk about how I won't talk about them, I'd like to let Palin vanish into the ether of Republican ideology.

Rest in peace, demagogues. For good or ill, you will be forgotten.
Current Music: The Strokes - What Ever Happened | Powered by Last.fm