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Athens, Ohio, United States
"Art and love are the same thing. It's the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you."

Monday, December 13, 2010

All You Need is Love 2010

Come one, come all to my second ever "all you need is love!"

As I explained around this time last year, I like to focus on things that I truly love in popular culture, rather than gripe over things that vex me...and there are many (I'm looking at you, Chelsea Handler). And what better time to compile a list of things that I loved during the year than the end of the year when we are all with our respective families, saying what we're thankful for and arguing about whether this season of Dexter sucks or not (hint: it doesn't).

So without further ado, here is the (mostly) complete list of things I loved in 2010.

Kanye West - "Runaway"
"Let's have a toast for the douchebags."
Of all the pop culture milestones in 2010, none of them performed quite the miracle that Kanye's epic and artsy video, Runaway, did. Runaway was a 34-minute Youtube video...that I actually sat through. And I'm glad I did. People have been itching to put the "King of Rap/Pop/Autotune/Whatever Crown" on Kanye for the better part of the decade but 2010 marked the year in which he finally gave us all an indisputable reason to. The enormity of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is a wonderful achievement in and of itself but it is the Runaway video that I find most impressive. Rarely has someone matched the aural mood of music with the visual mood of a video as well as Ole' Mr. West. In the internet age in which we can't watch 2 minutes of cat bloopers without getting bored, Kanye took his damn time and made it all worth the while.

Danny Pudi and Donald Glover (Troy and Abed in Community)
"Troy and Abed in the morning!"A great void was left in my life when Scrubs went off the air. For more than 8 years I subsisted myself on the bromance of J.D and Turk just as much as air and water. I thought I would never again see a finer pairing of buddies on network television. But just when I had given up all hope, Danny Pudi and Donald Glover came to the rescue as Troy and Abed on Community.

Yeasayer - "Ambling Alp"
"Stick up for yourself, son"
Never has something so inherently hipster created something so infectiously poppy and wonderful.

Christopher Nolan (Inception)
"You're waiting for a train."

Shortly after watching Inception, I was reminded of John F. Kennedy's famous proclamation about our lunar ambitions: "We choose to go to the moon...not because (it) is easy but because (it) is hard." Now I normally don't think of dead presidents after I see a film but I normally don't see films as good as Inception. Film-making in general is difficult. It's difficult from a technical perspective and it's difficult from a creative perspective. That's why I find it so admirable that Christopher Nolan chose to make a 100-million dollar blockbuster so much more difficult than it could have been - both for himself and the audience. Inception takes the very basic and well-worn heist movie structure and then puts it in a dream...and then puts it in another dream...and then puts it in another dream...and then puts it into raw, unoccupied dream space. It's far more complex than any heist film needs to be but it's also more rewarding than most heist films ever are.

Jesse Eisenberg (Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network)
"I'm talking about taking the whole social experience of college and putting it online."
I've long suspected that Jesse Eisenberg rocks. He was subdued but spot-on in one of my favorite movies, The Squid and the Whale. And then he went on to establish an older-Michael Cera archetype in the two 'Lands (Adventure and Zombie). If I'm thankful for anything in 2010, it's that America got to see that Eisenberg was the real deal once and for all in The Social Network.

Toy Story 3
"Where's your kid now, sheriff?"
It's a rule: if you make me weep like a dying walrus in a theater, you get on the Lovelist.

Titus Andronicus - The Monitor
Nobody listens to full albums anymore - or at least that is what lazy cultural analysts like to say when they notice that iTunes sells a single or two. Thankfully for all of us, Titus Andronicus still believes in the Album with a capital "A." The Monitor is commendable not only in it's scope - it's the story of a kid leaving New Jersey, interwoven with snippets from the Civil War - but also it's soul. Each song is far longer than conventional wisdom demands, but instead of feeling like a drag, it feels like Titus Andronicus is constantly filled with boundless enthusiasm and just can't quite bring themselves to stop the fun on any given song.

Mad Men
"Who is Don Draper?"
I've always respected Mad Men as being one of the most well-done shows on television but season 4 is the first season in which I've considered it a personal favorite. Thanks to the decision to finally start breaking away the cornerstones in Don Draper's life, Matthew Weiner and his writers are clearly in the midst of an incredible creative renaissance. Most shows lose steam by season 4, Mad Men seems to just be getting started.

Arliss Howard (Kale Ingram in Rubicon)
"Intelligence is incomplete. That's the nature of it."
Oh that other AMC show that no one seemed to like! I was one of the detractors for the first half of Rubicon's first (and now only) season but I came around near the end. A large deal of credit can be attributed to Arliss Howard and his portrayal of the shifty Kale Ingram. Kale was that one indecipherable character with murky intentions that every conspiracy thriller needs and Howard played the part like he knew how lucky he was to get it.

Big Boi - "General Patton"
"Stay so fresh and oh so motherfucking clean"
There's epic. There's Epic. There's EPIC. And then there's "General Patton." Often times, my complaint with modern rap is that the beats are just too dainty. Most artists seem to like to keep the music subdued so that their lyrics are the centerpiece of the song. Thank God, Big Boi had the cojones this year to quit messing around and push the petal to the metal. Sir Lucious Leftfoot was an awesome album but Big Boi deserves particular love for blowing out my ear drums with General Patton.

H. Jon Benjamin (Sterling Archer in Archer)
"Lying is like 95% of what I do."
Some people just have that voice. H. Jon Benjamin is one of those people. He injects secret agent Sterling Archer with a nasally whine that is at the surface discordant but still seems to fit so perfectly. H. Jon Benjamin should just clear space in his trophy case for now for whatever Emmy exists for voicework.

My Chemical Romance - Art is the Weapon
"Louder than God's revolver and twice as shiny."
With Kanye's "Runaway" and My Chemical Romance's "Art is the Weapon," it was a good year for the album trailer. I do love My Chem's album Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys but nothing can quite compare to the pure adrenaline rush that was watching the "Art is the Weapon" trailer for the first time.

Lost
"Nobody does it alone, Jack."
The ending of Lost was such a monumental experience in my life that it deserves it's own space to be discussed. One day, I will be able to think about the final eight minutes without weeping and I will write about it. Until then - enjoy Michael Giacchino's score.

Michael Pitt (Jimmy Darmondy in Boardwalk Empire)
"You can't be half a gangster, Nucky. Not anymore."
I considered including both of Boardwalk Empire's Michaels here (the other is Michael Shannon who plays Prohibition agent Nelson Van Alden) but I decided that Mr. Pitt deserved his own space. There were so many directions that Boardwalk Empire could have gone after it's pilot episode. It's a testament to Michael Pitt's acting ability and realistic Prohibition era appearance that the show has continually increased focus on his Jimmy Darmondy. In a show with so many established legendary figures (Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, Johnny Torio, Arnold Rothstein, Nucky Johnson) with already established histories and character arcs, it's important to have the wide-eyed and ever-changing Darmondy on the ground to take the audience along with him.

Vampire Weekend - "Giving Up the Gun"
"In all the years since I saw you last, you haven't moved an inch."
Again, 2010 was the year in which I discovered that hipsters had tremendous pop sensibilities. There has to be that one catchy song on the playlist that everybody knows the words to and God bless Vampire Weekend for giving us it in 2010.

Adam Scott (Party Down, Parks and Recreation and Eastbound and Down)
"Are we having fun yet?"
Sometimes I think half of being a good actor is knowing what projects to attach oneself to. Exhibit A is the wonderful career of Adam Scott. You know him as Will Ferrell's douchey brother in Step Brothers. I know him as...well, everything else. He put the douche-hat back on in Eastbound and Down as Kenny Powers' conniving agent. He put the professional-hat on as a city employee in Parks and Recreation. But most important of all - he was the emotional and comedic center of one of my favorite shows of the year, Party Down. Mr. Scott is quickly reaching "I'll-watch-that-guy-in-anything" territory and it's mostly thanks to his excellent taste.

Kid Cudi - "Erase Me"
"I keep on running, keep on running and nothing work."
One of the more welcome trends in recent popular music is the synthesis of all different sounds from different genres. One of the most apparent examples in 2010 was Kid Cudi's first single from Man on the Moon II, "Erase Me." Erase Me sounds more like a 90's pop song than it sounds like a song from rap's new "It" kid. Aside from Kanye's verse near the end this could have been released by Everclear in 1996. That may not be everyone's idea of a good 2010 song but it's certainly mine.

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
"I want to hold her hand and show her some beauty before all this damage is done."
I listened to no album from beginning to end more times than "The Suburbs" this year...and that's impressive because "The Monitor" had a 6 month head start on it. Maybe I'm biased, but stories, struggles and songs from the suburbs are what I've been raised through experience to enjoy the most. And it's to Arcade Fire's credit that they - a motely collection of Canadians, Texans and Haitians - were able to speak to my own sensibilities as a child of suburban sprawl. Really, really good stuff and really, really catchy stuff.

Breaking Bad - "One Minute"
"I'm just not the man I thought I was."
Almost every minute of Breaking Bad's third season was brilliant this year. But one minute in particular - at the very end of an episode entitled (what else?) "One Minute" - was particularly amazing. Excessive violence is standard operation procedure for most television shows. Breaking Bad, however, has a gritty oftentimes bloodless realism that is far more gut churning than the rest of the pack. The quiet stark and terrifying scene is a master class in building tension and then releasing it in such a way the audience still doesn't quite feel settled.

The Gaslight Anthem - "Old Haunts"
"God help the man who says 'if you'd have known me then.'"
It helps me sleep at night knowing that there's someone out there fighting hard to keep the old timey Bruce Springsteen spirit alive.

The Walking Dead - "Days Gone Bye"
"I'm sorry this happened to you."
To those paying close attention, you'll notice that every one of AMC's four original series appear on my list. I honestly can't think of another network that's ever been on a hot streak quite like AMC. And now that they've found they're biggest commercial success in The Walking Dead, the future looks bright. The Walking Dead's entire first season was vastly entertaining, if a little uneven at times but the pilot episode "Days Gone Bye" was pitch-perfect. Nothing quite captures the mood of a zombie apocalypse as well as a sheriff shooting a little girl in the face within the first 6 minutes of the show. And it only gets better from there. Honestly it's probably my favorite television pilot since Lost in 2004.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Well. Here it is. Yup. It's a post.

Howdy all!

Hope everyone is enjoying their extended time off. And if you don't go to Ohio University and are reading this right now, I hope you are incredibly miserable in the bitter end of your "first semester" nonsense.

Anywho, I've been incredibly unmotivated to write since about....oh a month ago. During school I was just so occupied with, you know, school and now I'm just occupied with everything I couldn't previously enjoy because I was in school. I almost feel like Charlie Kaufman in that Adaptation scene where he sits at his typewriter and starts screaming. There are about three readers nodding their heads in agreement right now and the rest of you are just wishing I saw more accessible movies.

But nothing makes me feel less productive and icky than a sparsely updated blog. So here are a few of pictures of animals with captions.
Maybe I should just get a Tumblr.

UPDATE: I have since decided to re-read Harry Potter over break. Now you'll know what I'll be doing instead of writing.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

At the Athena Post-Mortem

Soon you will be entering Backdrop-land.

The 2010 Fall Issue a.k.a Volume 4 Issue 1 drops tomorrow and it's a big one for good ol' B-drop. It represents the first time we've seriously rebranded. Yes, that's right, the ugly-ass karabine font is now but a distant memory, replaced with something a little sexier and a lot cleaner. Shiny logos aside, the content, itself, is very impressive.

But there is something that you mustn't forget tomorrow when you're flipping through 48 pages of glossy brilliance. The web site is relaunching too. I've seen the new web design and it is truly excellent. The Backdrop web site holds a soft-spot in my heart since I've been either working on it, for it or crying about it for the better part of two years.

For most of Spring 2009 and all of Fall 2009, I wrote weekly reviews of an Athena Cinema film. By the time I had finished (and we had moved onto a different web site), I had 17 reviews in the can. Now that the first iteration of the Backdrop web site doesn't exist, I thought what better (and most self-serving way) to honor it than a list of all the movies I saw at the Athena ranked from worst to first?

17. Two Lovers
What I said then:
Two Lovers is a weird movie filled with weird characters. “Weirdness” isn’t always a bad quality to have in a movie (just ask Charlie Kaufman) but Two Lovers is also something that no movie should be: pointless.

What I say now: This movie is still so bad in hindsight that I'm beginning to wonder if this was the true beginning of Joaquin Phoenix's little social experiment. It's almost as though this movie were set up to establish him as a "normal"romantic leading-man so that the contrast of him becoming a bearded rapper was all the more bizarre. Regardless, this is still a truly awful movie.

16. Stranded
What I said then:
I cannot say in good conscious that Stranded is a remarkably exciting or even entertaining film and it certainly isn’t a film for everyone. But Stranded could be counted as an artistic success, if only for capturing its subject’s true sorrow, anguish, regret and triumph all on film.

What I say now: I guess it still remains an "artistic success" but I think I was a little too easy on this movie. It is still one of the most boring experiences I've ever had at a cinema and at times it does resemble a Discovery Channel re-enactment of an event.

15. Taking Woodstock
What I said then:
Taking Woodstock is aimless. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a teen movie OR a concert movie. Some aimlessness can always be a good thing but this movie doesn’t necessarily know if it wants to be either.

What I say now: I still love Demetri Martin but my God, was that a weird casting choice. Actually, every decision in this movie made by the producers and Ang Lee was just weird. The tone, the script, the cast - it's just all so weird. It's a shame that Liev Schreiber tried so hard in this though and had nothing but a bad movie to show for it.

14. Lymelife
What I said then:
You know you’re in trouble when the best part of your movie is a Culkin brother…actually, two Culkin brothers at that.

What I say now: Lymelife does some things very, very well. Alec Baldwin puts on a hell of a show and there are two very real depictions of divorce and awkward teenage sex. But the vast majority of the movie just tries too hard and doesn't come nearly close enough to documenting an actual childhood.

13. Revolutionary Road
What I said then:
Revolutionary Road does all the things it should do, hits all the high notes it should hit and avoids all the mistakes it should avoid. But this perfunctory nature, in a way, makes it less of a movie.

What I say now: Sam Mendes is not allowed to make one of the most unique war movies ever (Jarhead) and then come back and make the most by-the-numbers suburban angst movie ever. Dude, if you wanted to do this so badly then you should have just made American Beauty 2: We Promise More Suvari Nipples.

12. The Great Buck Howard
What I said then:
The end result is very breezy and comfortable (this is a PG movie about a stage-magician after all) but not inherently satisfying. The Great Buck Howard may have been better served being called The Pretty Good Buck Howard.

What I say now: Meh. I can't conceive of anybody ever wanting to see this ever but it's not necessarily a bad movie.

11. I've Loved You So Long
What I said then:
I’ve Loved You So Long is an endearing, entertaining and satisfying film…that ultimately doesn’t stick the landing. There is a lot to love here and it has some really intriguing aspects to its story, but it is hard, in hindsight, to think fondly of this movie experience when the final scene cheapens the story’s most intriguing aspect.

What I say now: This is just the latest example that the French really have no balls. How can you establish such a controversial and thought-provoking plot and then toss it out in the third act?

10. Ben X
What I said then:
With all these rich layers adding to the plot and not confounding it, what else can you ask for from a movie experience? The ending will have its fair share of haters but at the end of the day I don’t think I could have enjoyed Ben X anymore unless MMG Films sent out employees to every screening to give audience members deep tissue massages.

What I say now: Wow. This is the movie that has fallen the farthest from grace for me in the past two years. I think it's because I neglected to realize just how awful the ending was. But due to the topical subjects (autism, social gaming, bullying), I think this would be the perfect American studio remake...as long as they change the ending.

9. The Cake Eaters
What I said then:
Still, if you are in the mood for something genuine and touching, take a chance on The Cake Eaters. Appreciate it for what it does well … and try to ignore what it does poorly

What I say now: I really want to buy 50 copies of this DVD and just pass it out to people who hate Kristin Stewart. I sat through two mediocre-to-awful Twilight flicks just to watch this delightful young actress. I don't understand where the hate comes from. Really.

8. Sunshine Cleaners
What I said then:
Unfortunately, Sunshine Cleaning never quite lives up to the cheerful macbre-ness of its subject matter. The aforementioned blood, guts and mortality are all there but that doesn’t mean the movie utilizes them well.

What I say now: I find it so strange that the folks behind Little Miss Sunshine included the word "sunshine" in their next movie title. It's like screaming "we can't do anything else" over and over again. This is another movie that rises up the list in hindsight. It's really a credit to Amy Adams and Emily Blunt that I remember anything about this film two years later.

7. Last Chance Harvey
What I said then:
The problem with most romantic comedies is that…well, they suck. But I am happy to report that Last Chance Harvey is one of the rare “rom-coms” that actually gets it right. There is nothing inherently creative or special about this movie, other than the fact that it is an interesting story told fairly and told well with charismatic actors to liven things up.

What I say now: It wouldn't be accurate to say I like this movie. But I can still think of five or six people off of the top of my head who probably would. It's undeniably well-done and I even sat through 90 minutes without wanting to punch Dustin Hoffman in the face.

6. Wendy and Lucy
What I said then:
But just understand that Kelly Reichardt is not tripping over herself to entertain you or communicate something to you. She just invites you to watch and listen…and then go on your merry way. I recommend you take that invitation.

What I say now: I really like this movie. It's probably the most stereotypically "indie" movie I've seen at the Athena to this day but somehow avoids all those annoying and pretentious indie movie hang-ups. Still, I can't imagine asking someone to pay to see this movie in good conscious. It's very slow-moving, very deliberate and maybe even a little literary. Reader, I hope you and this movie cross paths one day, I just can't beg you to do so.

5. Waltz with Bashir
What I said then:
It was nominated for Best Foreign Language film at the Oscars but lost to Japan’s Departures. I haven’t seen any of the other nominees, but I really can’t imagine there were any better than this.

What I say now: Waltz with Bashir marks the beginning of the "great movies" I've seen at the Athena. There should be absolutely no reason for this movie to be entertaining: it's a foreign language, animated film about Middle Eastern conflict. But, my God, this thing just pops off the screen.

4. Milk
What I said then:
Milk may lose its footing at times during its two hours, but the story of Harvey Milk is told well enough and with enough of a satisfying emotional pay-off that it is ultimately worth the two hours you will spend watching it.

What I say now: This is actually my first review from the Athena and it remains the only film from the Athena that I've seen more than once. I wasn't a huge fan the first time but I just admire it exponentially more every time I watch it. Biopics aren't supposed to be this entertaining.

3. Let the Right One In
What I said then:
There is a certain tone in visual art forms that is difficult to achieve. This tone is equilibrium between the macabre and the touching. Let the Right One In is one of rare pieces that achieves this equilibrium. It strikes the perfect balance between warming hearts and chilling blood.

What I say now: I can't say I was scandalized that they remade this film but I was certainly confused. Let the Right One In represents the absolute best that a tired genre can hope to achieve. I urge anyone with a flicker of humanity left in their body to see this movie.

2. The Wrestler
What I said then:
Almost everything in The Wrestler is broken. An aging wrestler’s beaten and bloodied body is broken. New Jersey’s abandoned boardwalks and ancient art deco houses are broken. A dedicated mom and disenchanted stripper’s spirit is broken. Almost everything in The Wrestler is broken. But that doesn’t mean the film, itself is…

What I say now: This isn't film. This is moving poetry. I truly believe that this is the best representation of a "character study" that one can watch in modern film. And it avoids the one pratfall that so many other of the movies on this list couldn't: it sticks the ending perfectly.

1. Sin Nombre
What I said then: The only variable in whether you should drop your hard-earned dollars on this movie or not is “can you appreciate it on a visceral and emotional level.” If you truly enjoyed Slumdog Millionaire and City of God: go see it. If you didn’t enjoy those two movies: go see it anyway so you can say you aw Fukunaga’s first feature film when it came out and gain much street-cred with your hipster friends.

What I say now: Why this movie is not some sort of cult-classic is beyond me. I think The Wrestler may be the better film strictly-speaking, but Sin Nombre represents the most enjoyable, thought-provoking and stomach churning two hours I've ever spent at the Athena. Just an amazing, amazing movie. Please find.

Everybody adjust your Netflix accordingly and grab a copy of Backdrop tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Curren(t)cy

I finally got around to seeing The Social Network this weekend and like any good film, it got me thinking (something that is increasingly rare for me once Fall Quarter hits week six).

Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher deserve a lot of credit for creating an entertaining and thought-provoking movie with a main character who is almost intolerably obnoxious. The Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg) in the world of The Social Network is just a bastard. I love Jesse Eisenberg so much that I think I could watch a movie of him kicking puppies to death and still come out appreciating his brilliance. But despite Eisenberg's charm and talent, movie-Zuckerberg is almost impossible to tolerate.

Then I realized why movie-Zuckerberg is so hard to take (this is where the aforementioned thinking comes in). You see, in addition to portraying Zuckerberg as an ultra-douche, Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher also portray Zucker as 100%, undeniably correct about nearly everything.

At one point in the film, Zuckerberg's business partner and Facebook C.F.O Eduardo Saverin (played by soon-to-be Spiderman Andrew Garfield) realizes that "The Facebook" is finally popular enough to appeal to advertisers and begins the process of monetizing Facebook. Zuckerberg vehemently disagrees with this plan and it's not necessarily clear why until former Napster creator Sean Parker (played by Justin Timberlake) verbalizes Zuckerberg's thinking for Saverin and the audience by extension. He says that Facebook is not yet at the height of it's "coolness." Currently, Facebook's worth is derived from how cool and trendy it is. Once it embraces a traditional route of monetizing a web site, it immediately becomes lame and it's cool currency spirals down to nothing. Parker says that the trick to turning Facebook into a billion-dollar venture as opposed to a million dollar venture is to simply wait for it to reach the apex of cool before opening it up to advertisers and application-makers.

As a former boy-band heartthrob explains this in the year 2010, it seems so obvious. On the internet, cool is currency. But as evidenced by Eduardo Saverin's horrified reaction, this wasn't such an easy call to make as few as five years ago. People have been struggling to make money off of the Internet since the first user logged in. And now that consumers are pushing traditional routes of media onto the Internet faster than the media can comprehend, figuring out just how to make money online is of the utmost importance. Thankfully, "Zuck" already figured it out for us.

Traditional routes of currency don't exist in internet media. Consumer A does not hand Media Producer X $0.95 in exchange for a Sunday issue anymore. Instead, Media Producer X must establish a different, useful quality before it becomes appealing to advertisers or subscribers.

Facebook generated tens of billions of dollars of off the notion of "cool." Of course, it's functionality is second-to-none. Facebook provides a useful tool for people's online lives. But "useful" isn't worth billions of dollars to advertisers..."cool" is.

This, of course, got me thinking about Kevin Smith's Smodcast.

You may have heard of Kevin Smith....mostly because I won't shut up about him. He's the portly gentlemen who wrote and directed Clerks back in the 90's and established himself as an independent filmmaker and nerd-icon Now, however, he is one of the most successful podcasters in the world. Go ahead and watch the video below so you know what I'm talking about.


Now, since you probably didn't watch that video I'll do my best to explain the high-points.

Back in 2008, Kevin Smith started a weekly podcast called "Smodcast" with his producer and close friend Scott Mosier. The initial stated goal was to merely catch up with each other once a week, talk about wildly inappropriate and unlikely scenarios and laugh. At some point, Smith opened the first 2 minutes of each show to an advertiser so he could cover the cost of mixing and hosting episodes, but the venture still wasn't profitable. The podcast's popularity began to climb, however, and after more than 80 produced-episodes, Smith and Mosier held a live Smodcast at a hockey tournament in Brantford, Ontario.

Now here is where the money comes in.

Smith still provided a weekly podcast for free on the internet but was able to draw in some cash from live performances across the country. Then, once the first tour was finished, Smith added even more wrinkles to his podcasting Empire. What was once only Smodcast became the "Smodcast podcasting network." The network consists of seven original themed podcasts, of which Smith appears in five and a new episode is released via Internet daily. In addition to the six new podcasts, Smith founded the world's first "podcasting theater." Smith bought a small blackbox-style theater in Los Angeles and turned it into the "Smodcastle." The Smodcastle seats around 50 people and hosts several podcasting shows a week with ticket prices ranging from $10 to $25.

So let's just say that the Smodcastle hosts three shows a week at an average ticket prices of $15. If every show sells out then the Smodcastle makes $2,250 a week. That becomes $9,000 a month. And that becomes $108,000 a year before (the very, very few) business expenses. And that is ignoring potential sources of income such as merchandising and additional advertising ventures.

Do you see what just happened?

What started off as free entertainment on the internet and continues to be free entertainment on the internet is somehow generating obscene amounts of money. Just like Zuckerberg's model of "cool before profits," Smodcast is using a similar model. In the aforementioned video that you may or may not have watched, Smith attributes the success of Smodcast to "trust." Since Smith and Mosier expressed absolutely no desire to make money off of Smodcast for almost two years, they gained the trust of their audience that they truly cared about providing quality entertainment before they cared about making profits. And now that the podcast is actually profitable, that initial trust and goodwill has carried over.

Of course, Smith had both an initial level of fame and fortune prior to his podcasting career that certainly helps in monetizing a podcast. But the content of each podcast is very much unrelated to his career as a filmmaker. Even the podcasts hosted by his relatively unknown friends draw large crowds at the Smodcastle. And six of the seven podcasts hosted by the Smodcast network have reached number 1 on iTunes podcast rankings.

It is possible for media organizations to make money through the internet. The only hang up is that it will take anything but the obvious means to do so.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Post About the Post #4

Dexter is fun! As are puns...

Also, some legitimate blog entries are coming soon. I have ideas - just no energy to write them.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

Post About the Post #2

In which I write about Boardwalk Empire.

Did anybody watch it? Did anybody not love it? Is anyone going to actually read my review? It's good...I promise?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

History of Gays in the U.S Military

1776 - 1993 - There is not a single homosexual in the United States military. Not one. Not even Ulysses S. Grant's beard.

1994 - "Don't ask, don't tell" is passed into law and there are now homosexuals being killed for their country...they just can't tell you that they kiss boys.

September 21, 2010 - The United States Senate decides that they still don't want to ask and they don't want to be told.

December 11, 2014 - Congress passes a bill into law that it's okay to have at least one of but not limited to the following George Michael albums in army barracks: Faith, Listen Without Prejudice Volume 1, Songs from the Last Century, Twenty Five.

February 4, 2015 - Congress declares that if two female soldiers kiss then it is okay to both ask and tell.

April 19, 2018 - The army updates its policy that two consenting soldiers can engage in homosexual acts, as long as a commanding officer witnesses the event and all three sign a waiver afterwords that what occurred was "totally not gay."

October 1, 2018 - Don't Ask, Don't Tell is repealed - effective for the Navy only.

August 31, 2096 - Don't Ask, Don't Tell is repealed - effective for all other branches.

November 6, 2096 - Republicans take back office. Don't Ask, Don't Tell is put back into effect.

March 29, 3019 - The United States of America is wiped out by Mongolians....as expected.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Look Alive, Sunshine


Oh heavens...

I know I am prone to hyperbole but I am more excited about this than I have ever been about anything ever.

One of the internet's worst kept secrets is that I am a huuuuuuuuuuge My Chemical Romance fan. I really couldn't tell you why other than the fact that I once bought a burned copy of Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge from a friend for $1 on a whim (along with The Used's In Love and Death and NOFX's War on Errorism) and was in love from the opening notes of "Helena."Since that fateful day I've been crawling the Earth like a coke-fiend in search of the next MCR-related fix. They dutifully responded with 2006's (awesome) The Black Parade. After, however, it's been largely quiet on the MCR front. "Desolation Row" on the Watchmen soundtrack satiated me for a bit but it wasn't enough to serve my overly theatrical needs.

Rumblings started coming from MCR-land (you can find MCR-land at the corner of Awesome Town and Free-Ice-Cream Way) that the next album would be far more stripped down and punk rock than the grandiose Black Parade. I was more than okay with this, matching marching band outfits and pyrotechnics are fun every now and then but I would like to see MCR in the punk-phase that most rock bands inevitably go through. Of course, MCR would then kick their drummer out for unspecified reasons and start from scratch on a new album. I could deal with that, after all what is more punk-rock than starting from scratch on a new album.

Then music retailer HMV "leaked" that the next album would be called Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. I was not a fan. And I immediately went into denial.

I've found that since LeBitch's betrayal, putting myself into a state of denial has become rather easy. Here are some examples:

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith reports that a source who has never lied to him told him that LeBron James will sign with the Miami Heat.
Stephen A. has always had it out for the Cavaliers. This is just a vicious rumor.

LeBron James has reserved spaces at several Miami hotels to celebrate his eventual signing.
Miami is a nice place. Why wouldn't he want to celebrate re-signing in Cleveland there?

"This season, I'll be taking my talents to South Beach."
Well, Cleveland is South of Canada....and Lake Erie has a beach, right?

Of course, I was able to justify my denial similarly with the Danger Days title.

Lead singer/Comic Book Genius Gerard Way announces that he is working on a comic book about young men in a band on a road trip trying to get their Ramones' records back.
Sounds awesome! I hope it doesn't interfere with the production on the new record.

Guitarist Frank Iero posts a picture on their web site which includes the proposed "Killjoys" logo.
That's nice of Frank to post a logo from Gerard's comic. They really seem to support each other.

HMV lists Danger Days: True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys as the next My Chemical Romance album.
Well clearly they're confused. That's Gerard's new comic, not the ALBUM! Silly, HMV. I don't know where they got "Danger Days" from though...

Of course Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys did end up being the final name of the album. I read MTV confirm it and felt a slight twinge of disappointment. That didn't last long, however, as mychemicalromance.com had a 2 minute trailer for me to watch.

In the span of two minutes, I went from disappointed to nearly comatose with excitement. Well what happened?

I'll tell you what happened...
  • A tranny on rollerblades
  • A Nam veteran DJ named "Dr. Death Defying."
  • Lines like "anti-matter for the master plan," and "this one's for all you crash-queens and motor-babies."
  • About a minute of the song "Na Na Na" which already sounds like the catchiest My Chemical Romance song of all time.
  • Rayguns...lots of rayguns.
  • Grant Morrison as a creepy bald guy.
  • The most adorable little girl of all time carrying a boombox.
  • A Trans Am
  • This shirt.
Now all that stands between me and nirvana is 62 days. I think I'm going to go watch that trailer 97 more times.

Until then: Killjoys....MAKE SOME NOISE!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What Bryan Cranston Should Have Said


I actually really liked the Emmys this year. Aside from their stubborn refusal to acknowledge the existence of Lost, I think the Academy made some atypically intelligent choices. Having said that, I do have one additional comment. The category for Best Actor in a Drama Series was one of the strongest categories I have ever seen in any award show. It was so strong in act that I feel like someone on stage should have acknowledged it. Who better than the eventual (and entirely deserving) winner, Bryan Cranston, to call attention to every nominee. The following is what Bryan Cranston should have said in lieu of a speech.


Wow, what a wild ride! I am eternally grateful to the Academy for making this one of the best times in my life. Breaking Bad has been nothing but a gift to me and I view this award as acknowledgement from the Academy that I am involved in something very special. What may be an even greater honor, however, is the quality of men that I found myself associated with tonight.

The Best Actor in a Drama Series category this year represents what I truly believe to be some of the most talented people on television. What I'd like to do now is just take a moment to give these amazing actors their due.

Kyle Chandler, I admire the things that you can do. In my experience, High School football coaches aren't the most charismatic or even decent individuals. But you've created a character that is essentially Ghandi in an East Dillon pullover. Friday Night Lights is a show that likes to tear down everything in its characters lives from the institutions they trust, to the dreams they've fostered. And then it counts on you to be the rock in the middle. You've been all of that and more and you deserve this award.

Matthew Fox, it has been truly amazing to watch your maturation as an actor and as a human being over the past six seasons of Lost. You weren't afraid to portray a character that was weak and afraid of his own failings. You weren't afraid to lay all of the sins and shortcomings of your character bare and make them apparent to everyone but himself. And finally you weren't afraid to redeem that character in he very last moments of his arc... even if it meant doing something as innocuous as simply turning a light back on. You served as a consistent and realistic avatar for all of us in a show that required so much patience and attention. I cried when you closed that eye one last time and you deserve this award.

Michael C. Hall, it is an impressive feat for any actor to make a murderer likable. But what you've been able to do with the character of Dexter Morgan is much more impressive. You haven't just made a murderer likable but you've made someone who has attested to be inhuman and lifeless likable. Dexter Morgan crackles off the screen with your own wit and intensity. You've single-handedly legitimized the oft-maligned practice of voiceover with your steady and unpretentious delivery. You made my adrenaline pump harder than almost any television show ever has this year and you deserve this award.

Jon Hamm, you have taken one of the hardest tasks in television acting this decade and flourished under it. I can't imagine the pressure and difficulties associated with playing such a larger than life character on one of the most acclaimed and important shows of our time. But you somehow make it look easy. It will never cease to amaze me how you continue to inhabit the body of Don Draper, someone you couldn't be more different from, so flawlessly. It must be so tempting to overplay such a gaudy, sexy character but you never do. You act as Don Draper from the inside out and the show is all the better for it. One day they'll be teaching your Don Draper acting techniques in Acting 101 and you deserve this award.

Hugh Laurie, you are Gregory House. I can barely accept that you ever even existed before Dr. House first limped across my TV screen. You inhabit every aspect of your character from the smallest quirk to the grandest blow-up. You've always been impressive but this season represents what is undoubtedly your best work. You spent countless seasons building up an absolutely invulnerable persona before finally having to concede that your character was, indeed, fallible and capable of being hurt. The emotional vulnerabilities that you displayed while never quite letting go of your armor were paradoxically brilliant. If for nothing else other than your flawless American accent you deserve this award.

Thanks to all of you again, and I can't wait to cheer one of you on next year when you win this award.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mmm Smells Like Bailout

I drive a 2002 bright red Jeep Liberty named Bessie Lou.

I did my driver's test in Bessie Lou. The first time, Bessie and I got a little excited and ran a stop sign. The second time, we both kept our cool and passed with flying colors. Bessie Lou drove me my first day of junior year. Bessie Lou took me to my first girlfriend's house for my first date. Bessie Lou took me the 200 miles south to Athens, Ohio and served as the portal between my old home and my new home.

Now it looks like Bessie Lou may be dead.

And I'd like to tell you how she died.

Sometime in late-June, I was driving home from a Wal Mart grocery run. When I was about a block away from home I felt Bessie kick horribly and start to whine. Instinctively I pulled into the AAA franchise right near my house. AAA had been long closed but I needed a place to park and figure things out. I checked the engine but I had as much chance understanding the inner workings of a automobile's engine as Tiger Woods does monogamy. I decided to cut my losses and drive home anyway. Bessie Lou would start and she would drive but she wouldn't get out of first gear. A quick consulting of Google told me that this was more than likely an issue with the transmission and that it would be more than likely very, very expensive to fix.

But Bessie Lou was family and Bessie Lou deserved fixing. I consulted my benefactors (mom and dad) on the issue and they said they would front some money to fix Bessie since she was paid off anyway and 2,000 bucks here or there isn't a bad investment for a car.

With that in mind I did some research on where to take Bessie Lou. I stopped by a well-respected mechanic on Columbus Road. They told me that they could check it out themselves but if it WAS a transmission problem, they couldn't do anything about it anyway. They suggested I go down the road about a quarter-mile to Taylor Nissan, which doubles as a Chyrsley-Jeep dealership as well.

The people at Taylor Nissan told me that I had two options.

Option A) Buy a new transmission. $3,200
Option B) Buy a used transmission $1,800

I chose option B. They told me that they could not offer a warranty on a used transmission but promised that the company they receive transmissions from has never failed them. This put my mind at ease. I handed Taylor Nissan my keys, walked halfway home from Carpenter (a nice woman named Jane would pick me up and take me the rest of the way but that's a story for another time) and waited. And waited. And waited. And waited.

After roughly three weeks of waiting Taylor Nissan called me back. They told me that they had received my new (old) transmission. Problem was, the transmission wouldn't go into reverse gear.

Woops.

They told me that they had another transmission on order and wouldn't charge me for it. They would, however, be forced to charge me $600 for "man-hours." I have no idea what a "man-hour" is but it must be very different from one of my "hours" because my hours are much cheaper I assure you. Anyway, I told them $600 more dollars was a paltry sum to pay to get my sweet, sweet Bessie Lou back.

A week and a half later they called and told me Bessie Lou was ready. I had a friend drive to down to Columbus Road once more to retrieve my car. They told me that Bessie had one more issue. Her "transfer case" was broken. I would need to get that fixed eventually and it would cost around $700. I declined to get said transfer case fixed and asked if I could take my car anyway. They said it would be safe to drive for the time being. Good. I gave them credit card information to pay $2,400, they gave me my keys and I drove off.

The moment I drove off I knew something was wrong. Bessie Lou's engine was making noises as though she were being carried up a roller-coaster track. TIK-TIK-TIK-TIK-TIK-TIK-TIK-TIK.

I shrugged it off. The man told me that the transfer case would make some noise and I believed him. Granted, she had never made those noises before but maybe it was only a matter of time before she did anyway? Then I pulled into my driveway. Upon doing so my odometer, windshield wipers, headlights, volume control and power locks all died simultaneously.

Woops.

The next day I hauled Bessie Lou back over to Taylor Nissan. The mechanic there told me that they did not play around with the electrical cords at all during the transmission replacement and were at a loss for why this would happen. They said they would do a sort of car scan.

Scan away, I said.

So I waited in a hospital-like waiting room while mechanics ran more tests on my car. And much like waiting in a hospital-like waiting room it took forever and all the tests came back negative. Yes, Taylor Nissan had no more clue than I did while all of my electrical systems died at the same time. They did tell me that aside from the lack of an odometer and headlights that it should be okay to drive. If I wanted to get the other stuff fixed they could keep it overnight again but I was planning on heading home for the weekend and I couldn't afford up to a month without a car again.

Since Bessie Lou had no headlights, my girlfriend and I decided to head home to Twinsburg, Ohio immediately so that the sun wouldn't fall while we were driving. It seemed like a good idea in principle...until Bessie Lou died.

We had just gotten onto 7 North and were passing the restaurant/gas station "The Cool Spot" when Bessie Lou simply stopped. All the engine noises stopped, the RPM meter flew down to 0 and I felt the essence that was "Bessie Lou" simply vanish. I wheeled over the the side of the road before we could get smashed by oncoming traffic and gravely called AAA (see the story comes full circle).

A nice, if overly honest, tow trucker came to pick us up and take us back to Athens where Bessie Lou's corpse resides in the parking lot of Taylor Nissan.

This is part a story of a love-lost between a boy and his car and part a story of my run-in with the American auto-industry. The name on the building said "Taylor Nissan" but the company bears the symbol of Chrysler/Jeep as well. And at the end of the day, straight facts of it all boil down to this: I gave my car to a mechanic for more than a month and received it back in worse condition than I left it off with. When I tried to get those problems fixed, I was sent on my way yet again only for the car to die in 60 mph traffic.

I am assuming that for all intents and purposes the car is dead. I just want to know from you, the Internet, should I let her go peacefully or rage against the mechanics and company that in my mind, watched her die?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Ketchup, Rubber Buns and Liquor

Back when I was a kid, there was this awful joke we used to tell...even if we didn't quite understand it.

JOKER: Okay to every single thing I say, you have to respond "Ketchup, rubber buns and liquor," got it?
JOKEE: Sounds reasonable enough and you've never lead me astray so I shall play into your little ruse.
JOKER: Great. So what do you eat for breakfast?
JOKEE: Ketchup, rubber buns and liquor.
JOKER. Right. So what do you eat for lunch?
JOKEE: I see where you're going with this...
JOKER: Shut up. What do you eat for lunch?
JOKEE: Ketchup, rubber buns and liquor.
JOKER: Exactly. What do you eat for dinner?
JOKEE: You know what I'm going to say...
JOKER: WHAT DO YOU EAT FOR DINNER, DAMN IT!
JOKEE: Ketchup, rubber buns and liquor.
JOKER: Good. Now when you meet up with your old girlfriend, what do you do?
JOKEE: Ketchup, rubber buns and liqu....HEY!
JOKER: Hahahahah you like giiiiiiiiiirls!
JOKEE: We're through professionally, man.

I guess what I'm trying to say, Internet, is that it has been a while. And with your permission I would like to now catch up, rub your buns and lick you.

It's been a long summer. That's not to say it hasn't been a good summer by any stretch of the imagination...just long, you know. Well if you are over the age of 20 and live in a reasonable American tax bracket than you probably DO know.

I now live in a house...a house that I make payments on (however late they may be) and a house that I'm responsible for. It seems like just yesterday I was on the receiving end of jokes that cruelly made me prove my attraction to women. Now I study in coffee shops, work at baseball stadiums and live in houses that my parents don't.

Weeeeird, man.

I also have a day job. Only it's not every day...and they don't pay me....and it's not a job so much as it is an internship but it is awesome. I'm writing game recaps for the Southern Ohio Copperheads and living the dream several nights a week, sitting in an overcrowded press box on balmy summer nights watching young men play baseball WITH ACTUAL WOODEN BATS. Then I get to go home and write about it. It's actually rather wild.

I'm also writing here and there for the Athens News. A long time ago I once called a certain editor of a certain local paper "long-winded." Two years later, that man would not only generously let me write for his paper but also patiently wait for me to figure out AP Style instead of saying "Jesus, this kid is an idiot," and kick my short-winded ass to the curb.

Life works in mysterious ways, children.

I don't know if you've noticed but I've also changed the appearance of the blog for a bit. The name "The Collective(ly) Unconscious" is one of my favorite things my demented little mindhas ever produced but my writing habits and skills haven't been able to live up to the name of such a serialized genius. I wanted my blog not to be so much a blog as it was a center for serious
cultural analysis. But almost two years into the process, I've realized that that isn't what a blog is. A blog is a narcissistic cesspool where I write about my day-to-day existence to justify the 55-80 years I will spend suffering the tragic human illness of consciousness.

Also, the blog is now in the color orange.

I've been catching up with some television as I am ought to do.

I finally finished the third season of Mad Men. I go through Mad Men in spurts. It is such a slow, literary show that my mind can only take so much of it at once. Having said that, season three was the most entertaining the show has ever been and hours like "The Gypsy and the Hobo" prove once again that television is the best it has ever been.

I've also started watching Starz recently cancelled series Party Down. I have a thing for recently cancelled shows. Lord knows I want to tackle Buffy or The Sopranos one day but 20 episodes of Party Down look a lot more conquerable than 70+ episodes of The Sopranos or 100+ episodes of Buffy. I never really watched Veronica Mars, so I had nothing to expect from a Rob Thomas show...I only watched because of the low episode count. Now that I have only four episodes left, I wish I had four-hundred more. Adam Scott and Lizzy Caplan are utterly tremendous - the best star-crossed couple I've seen on television since the first season of Jim and Pam. And how Ken Marino has escaped my radar this long is beyond me. I never would have believed that Ron Swanson of Parks and Recreation may be my second favorite character named Ron on a comedy ever.

Then of course there's True Blood...oh sweet, sweet, soooo damn sweet True Blood. I could write sonnets for this show. True Blood confirms something that I've long suspected about television - it's all in the casting. Every single casting decision that Alan Ball has made regarding True Blood has been utterly perfect. Some shows try to inject fresh blood (pardon the pun) and only succeed in taking screen-time away from better characters. The newbies on True Blood just make everything just so exponentially better.

Dennis O'Hare as a vampire King? So brilliant.
Captain Gault from Lost as a douchebag werewolf? Perfect.
James Frain as a British Vampire PI with a serious case of jungle fever? Best. Casting. Decision. Ever. In. The. History. Of. Forever.

True Blood just continues to be the best B-movie level entertainment for smart people.

Well it looks like the seventeenth episode of Party Down has finally loaded. With that, I take my leave, Internet.

May I lick you once more in the future.

Here's a picture of Copperheads Centerfielder, Luis Pollorena, doing a Mariachi dance...just in case you ever wanted to see that.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Drunk Off Misery


I never thought my 200th post would be this.

In hindsight, I guess I should have. But in my defense, I am relatively knew to this. There are grown men and women across Northeast Ohio who are familiar with this. They know that complete and abject human misery can be summed up into one word.

The Catch - I wasn't there for that.

The Drive - Wasn't there for that.

The Fumble - Nope.

Red Right 88 - Swimming around somewhere in my father's scrotum.

The Move - I didn't know the Browns existed.

The Blown Save - I was living it up in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey and waiting for Curt Schilling to get healthy for the Phillies.

The Sweep - San Antonio is a good team and we have LeBron so we'll be back.

The 2007 ALCS - It hurts but this is a young team.

The Decision - so this is what it feels like.

Forgive my lack of eloquence, but "this", whatever it is that brings sorrow to the North Coast, plain sucks.

It doesn't suck that LeBron is leaving. We were prepared for that. I stared at the TV for several hours, completely motionless, after the Cavs lost to the Celtics. That is when LeBron left for me.

It doesn't suck because it was expected. Talented 25-year-olds leaving Ohio for brighter lights and bigger cities all the time. I may do it myself one day and I wouldn't want my community to shun me.

It doesn't suck because of the way it was handled. This can be called nothing else than one of the biggest sports-related PR debacles of all time. How someone lets an athlete string a fan base along for two years before breaking up with them on live TV is beyond me. Well...I guess you could say that that technically sucked but it's not why this truly sucked for me.

It sucked because LeBron James is not who I thought he was. It is unrealistic to expect sports to be simple but we expect them to be at least a little less complicated than our day to day lives. LeBron looked like a champion, he sounded like a champion and everyone agreed that one day he would BE a champion. Detractors liked to say that while he was a fine basketball player, he would never be an all-time great. Cleveland disagreed. We looked into the soul of a man the best we could through our LCD TV screens and magazine articles and found a spark of greatness. We didn't believe it was there...we KNEW it was there. It had to be. He was our native son. Our King.

The hardest part of last night was watching a King tip himself over onto the chessboard and declare that he, himself, was not good enough. The man we watched for the past seven years was never a king...only a rook, at best.

And that's what sucked the most.

It hurt last night. It hurt a lot. All I could do was get out my LeBron jersey, lay it out on a table and just wonder what I should do with it. It was still lying there when I woke up this morning.

This is a new chapter and the pain has already begun to subside. Cleveland will bounce back and I will have to bounce back with them. The Indians are not as bad as we think. The Browns finally have competent management. The Cavs will suck for a year and then Byron Scott will be able to recreate the team to his liking.

Life will go on. But I will forever know exactly what "this" feels like. I'm so sorry you had to shoulder so many years of misery, Cleveland. I've been a part of the Northeast Ohio community for a decade. It is now, in our shared misery, that I humbly submit my application for full-time Clevelander status.

As for LeBron, I forgive you. I really do. You are a 25-year-old big kid, insulated by a life in a small city. You don't quite understand what you've done to the city of Cleveland yet but you will someday.

And when they day comes, regardless of how many championship rings you have, you will still have exactly one less than Dwyane Wade.

Enjoy being the Queen.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Backdrop VII

Volume 3, Issue 3 is out and generating some interesting feedback.

Let me know what you thought of it!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

(Metaphorically) Around the Dial pt. 3

I once read somewhere that secondary education in the U.S is becoming more and more about specialization. In order to be a proper professional, one has to have a very specific knowledge of a small area of study. I, of course, rejected this notion at first because I saw myself as a somewhat well-rounded individual. Then I realized that I was entering my third hour of a America's Next Top Model marathon on The CW.

I guess I specialize in television. Really it should have been obvious sooner. I had always just assumed that I was depressed, lazy or both for spending hours a day in front of a television. It honestly never occurred to me that maybe I just really, really liked television. Now as I enter the ripe old age of twenty, it's becoming clearer and clearer to me that I want my career to revolve around the Idiot Box. I want to be exactly like these three men:

Tim Goodman - I first heard about Tim Goodman from Bill Simmons podcast, The B.S Report. Mr. Simmons had been a fan of his for years and had him on the show to discuss the Conan-Leno scandal among other things. Goodman convinced me to read his regular blog by knowing the correct answer to "what's the greatest show of all time?" (and if you need to know the answer then you're not worthy of Goodman's blog) He also has one of the coolest features I've ever seen on a pop culture blog. It's a weekly power rankings that ranks all the shows he is currently watching from 15 to 1, based on that series' most recent episode. I pine for the days when I can rank up to 15 tv shows for a week but for now I will try to settle for 5.

5. Treme
4. Glee
3. Community
2. Lost
1. Breaking Bad

Ken Tucker - Ken Tucker did nothing but endear himself to me when he named the second season of True Blood his favorite show of the year, and since then I've took more notice of a writer I've always consistently read but never really counted myself as an avid supporter. He is one of the most generous reviewers of Saturday Night Live, which I appreciate even though he calls many of the sketches "stale" as contractually required by every TV reviewer in the world. Still, he is mercifully free of pretension and "old crusty critic syndrome" as evidenced by his wholehearted support of shows like the aforementioned True Blood and Glee.

Alan Sepinwall - Alan Sepinwall is the King of TV critics. Period. His list of the best shows of the decade reads like the Gods' verdict of all that was truly grand in the 2000s. He somehow gets reviews written and posted within an hour or two of every episodes' airing that is infinitely more insightful and affecting than almost every reviewer out there.

So why did this impromptu list happen? Who knows. I haven't written anything in awhile and I think listing the three reviewers who I've been reading a lot lately to glean expertise from counts as productivity. Regardless of the obvious deep-seated psychological issues that keep me from producing new material as of late, you should bookmark these three dudes if you like TV at all.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Jumbled Thoughts on 4/20

I really have no reason to write right now other than the fact that today's date makes me giggle.

I guess another reason to write would be the crushing depression and insignificance I feel upon not being productive so far this quarter with my writing (paradox much?). Writing is a strange, strange thing, my Internet friends/admirers. Once you take the plunge and start referring to yourself as a writer, which is something that I have done since the age of seven when I wrote a stunningly awful story about an endangered Killer Whale called "The Whistle of Tobias,"it becomes a crucial part of your identity.

In that way, I guess being a writer is a lot like being "sexually active" as they like to say in Juno. Once you start writing, a little voice is born in the back of your head which constantly reminds you that you should, in fact, be writing. Once you start boning, a similar little voice in born in the back of your head, reminding you that you should, in face, be boning. Of course, with sex an actual human being can be born in addition to that little voice. To my knowledge, writing carries no such risk...but you get my point.

At least the Indians and Cavs are winning. And at least Breaking Bad, Community and Lost are all currently on television. At least I have my health and all that jazz.

Anyway, enjoy smoking weed today, Athens. I promise this post was not written under the influence of anything other than teenage angst.

Friday, April 16, 2010

What Should I Do Today?

a. see Kick-Ass

b. watch the Indians game

c. write something that defines a generation

d. make a virgin sacrifice

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Two Seconds Notice


That's how much money I've made with my Examiner.com "job." I knew I wouldn't be making that much money but 55 cents per article written just isn't worth it for me when I can't write exactly the way I want to.

So I am done with that venture. You can now look forward to never seeing "Examiner #???" as a Collective(ly) Unconscious headline ever again.

Woo!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Examiner #15

This one goes out to all you South Korean lovers out there.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Examiner #13

Breaking Bad is back!

ENG 284 with Dr. Bojalad

I'm in one of those moods.

It's a mood that seems to occur exactly three times each year for the past two years. It can manifest itself as an uncontrollable desire to declare my love for everything. It can make me stop writing. It can inspire me to start writing again. It can even make me begin a blog called The Collective(ly) Unconscious.

It's that mood at the birth of each new Quarter of my college education. This time around, it has inspired me and reaffirmed that I can do just whatever I feel like doing. And what I feel like doing is preaching.

No, not the Jesus/Muhammad/Abraham gospel but the Harry/Conan/Bluth gospel (I am rather proud of that hastily thought up holy trinity, by the way).

I had a class today called "Writing About Culture" and it, to borrow from the cultural vernacular, "fucked my shit up." It wasn't so much that I was presented with new and exciting information, but rather presented with old, obvious information that I feel is underused. I know now that for the next ten weeks, I will spend four hours in a classroom in which Culture is the most important topic in the world.

My God...I needed this. Prepare for an onslaught of rushed thoughts as I leave a 200-level class exhilarated and inspired each day. Today was only the syllabus day and I still have something in mind that I want to write about inspired by this class.

The wonderful Dr. Hart began role call by going around the room and having each person declare their name and a "guilty pleasure" of theirs. The answers ranged from Lost to the Food Network to John Hughes movies. I answered True Blood, since the person called two names before me had swiped Glee away from me. This, of course, got me thinking, as any random listings of tv shows and movies is bound to do. Is there really any such thing as a "guilty pleasure?"

Chuck Klosterman has written on this topic before. And as always he can elucidate this difficult-to-comprehend concept better than I can:

People who use this term (guilty pleasure) are usually talking about why they like Joan of Arcadia, or the music of Nelly, or Patrick Swayze's Road House. This troubles me for two reasons: Labeling things like Patrick Swayze movies a guilty pleasure implies that a) people should feel bad for liking things they sincerely enjoy, and b) if these same people were not somehow coerced into watching Road House every time it's on TBS, they'd probably be reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

There just seems to be something inherently disrespectful and dismissive about the term to me. There should be no shame in any pop cultural experience. I mean that's the whole reason the entire structure we know as "pop culture" exists. Viewers are allowed to enjoy things on an intellectual level or a visceral level or both.

If I were teaching a class on "Writing About Culture," (Thankfully, I'm not and Dr. Hart seems infinitely more capable than I) I think I would walk into the classroom the first day, write "there is no such thing as a 'guilty pleasure'" on the board and spend the rest of the quarter arguing that fact.

Does this mean I would expect my hypothetical students to blindly love everything that crosses their path? Of course not. And it brings up a point from a recent episode from my third favorite show on TV right now: Community (Ten points to whoever figures out what #1 and #2 are).




God bless Jeff Winger for hating Glee. Hating something vehemently and with cause or without cause is as integral part of pop culture as loving something is. But the hypothetical students in Dr. Bojalad's ENG 284 will never, ever be allowed to utter the words "I don't understand the appeal."

Part of being a cultural scholar is understanding the appeal of everything or lack thereof. Part of being a human being is hating it anyway.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Break

I've decided to spend my entire break doing this. So long Collective(ly) Unconscious! So long Examiner.com! So long independent though! Peace out until March 29 or so.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Be Gone, Bitch Quarter

And so the craziest quarter of my college experience ends...not with a whimper, T.S Eliot, but a deafening, terrifying bang.

After four quarters of easy classes leading into easy (if not non-existent) Finals, I have finally run into the "Bitch Quarter" that I'm sure every college student experiences. Unless, of course, you have semesters in which case: go to hell, nobody likes you.

Here is my Finals schedule for this week:

ECON 103 - Tuesday 8:00 AM
JOUR 270 - Wednesday 12:20 PM
WGS 100 - Thursday 2:30 PM
ENG 253 - Friday 10:00 AM

Of those four finals, I am confident for two and a half of them and absolutely pants-shittingly terrified for the remaining one and a half. I will let you guess which ones have me sweating. Here's a hint: I am currently at Alden right now and will not be leaving until 7:00 AM tomorrow morning.

Then there are the other various responsibilities that I have chosen to burden myself with. There will be a new article up on Backdropmag.com researched, written and mixed by yours truly. The subject matter is pretty fascinating and it marks my first attempt to create a watchable video since my ill-fated News Writing project so be on the lookout for that. In addition to that, I will be researching and conducting interviews all week for my Spring Quarter Backdrop story. I was working on a profile of the town Chauncey for this Winter but just like everything else during my Bitch Quarter, it was a complete and absolute failure. I went too broad with it but it led me to a topic for this Spring that might actually make a compelling story.

If I have so much to do then why am I writing? Well it turns out that it takes about 40 minutes for a little over 22 minutes of video to upload to iMovie. And in that 40 minutes of spare time, I must use my favorite self-indulgent outlet to complain about my various misfortunes.

Feel free to stop the second floor of Alden tonight, Athenians to sacrifice your time, dignity and sanity to Bitch Quarter with me.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Examiner #8

Here is the second Lost review. Does anybody else think Ben Linus is just like Jack Bauer? He chose flag (The Island and The U.S Government) over family (Alex Rousseau and Teri Bauer) and now must deal with the repercussions for the rest of his life.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Examiner #7

Some people say reviewing 24 is a fruitless venture.

I am one of those people...but it didn't stop me from reviewing last night's episode anyway.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Examiner#5 and 6

Today I review SNL and report on the next coming of the apocalypse.


I ♥ Iraqis

Remember how I said you wouldn't see anymore TV blogs here at the C.U? Well I lied. I have a personal observation about one of my favorite TV shows, that doesn't quite work on Examiner.com and that I don't want to fit on my Twitter feed. So here goes.

Much like Brick Tamland once admitted to loving "lamp," I must admit to loving Lost. Lost is on my pop culture shortlist of loves that includes only the likes of Arrested Development, My Chemical Romance and a kid named Potter. And like everything else on that list, I obsessively seek out every scrap of information that has ever existed about it.

Sometimes this has come back to haunt me. During season 2 of Lost, I once came across a spoiler that I did not want to come across. I knew a character was going to die in episode 6. I wanted to know who this character was going to be but I didn't want to know who this character was going to be. Hopefully anyone who has ever obsessed over a piece of culture can understand this paradox. Of course fate (a.k.a spoilerfix.com) intervened and I found out that darling Shannon Rutherford was not long for this world. I was quite alright with this as Shannon was annoying as well.

So I watched the episode with this in mind. 10 minutes pass - Shannon isn't dead. 30 minutes pass - Shannon isn't dead. 50 minutes pass - Shannon isn't dead. There is now only two minutes or so to go in the episode and Shannon still isn't dead. What she is, however, is running around the Jungle like a moron with her sexy Iraqi BF, Sayid, trailing her. It is then that my heart sunk and I had a horrible thought:

Sayid is going to fucking kill Shannon.

I immediately hated myself for thinking this. "Come on, Alec," I said to myself, "it's 2005 and you need to grow up. Just because Sayid prays five times a day, likes falafel and was in Uncle Saddam's Republican Guard doesn't mean he is capable of killing the blonde image of American unchecked excess for no apparent reason." Still, there was no time left and Shannon absolutely had to die. My heart started racing as I imagined the Internet chatter the following morning designating Lost as xenophobic, archaic and no longer worth watching. Then Ana Lucia appeared from nowhere in the Jungle and fired a bullet deep into Shannon's annoying chest. Nothing like a Dominican-American Deus Ex Machina to absolve me from allegations of closeted racism! Poor Shannon had not dodged a bullet but Lost had, in my mind. What show could survive humanizing an Iraqi and then turning him into a villain immediately? Aside from 24, of course...

Cut to: this past Tuesday. Lost did what I had once feared: they turned Sayid "bad." Only it didn't feel offensive or cliche. Back in 2005, I was worried that Sayid's turn to the dark side would resemble a cute and cuddly puppy suddenly snapping at a child and then having to be put down. But Sayid's actual turn to the dark side in 2010 felt like a good man, trying to preserve his loved ones' lives because he knew he was already damned. It was epic. It was touching. It was classy. It was Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith. But most importantly: nobody has brought it up.

To my knowledge, no one has written one word about the abrupt turning of a Muslim character into a villain. It doesn't seem to strike anyone as "off" or to disturb anyone's sensitivity meter.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that Barack Obama can suck it. Lost is the REAL reason we live in a "post-racial world." Enjoy the descent into darkness, Sayid Jarrah! We'll be there with you every step of the way.