Friday, April 29, 2005
Nothing much to report, folks -- just had to share this awesome picture with you.
Spiderman, the original webbed wonder, and Captain America, a former 98-pound weakling who a science experiment turned into the perfect soldier, visited the nation's military headquarters to shake hands, pose for photos and unveil a new Marvel comic book that features a military character in the opening scene. . . .TimeWaster™
Check out these chalkboard fight shots. Fun.
Today I'm listening to: Helmet!
Monday, April 25, 2005
Not Our Fault
This is 3-year-old Xuan Minh. He lives at Tu Du Hospital in Ho Chi Min city, Vietnam. Doctors think his condition is caused by after-effects of Agent Orange, of which deadly herbicide the US military dumped millions of gallons on Vietnam between 1962-1970.
In January 2004, a group called the Vietnam Victims of Agent Orange Association (VAVA) sued Monsanto, Dow, and eight other companies which made Agent Orange and similar chemicals used in Vietnam.
Around 10,000 US war veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange receive disability benefits for various types of cancer and other serious health problems that have been linked to dioxin.But in March of this year, the federal court judge dismissed the suit, saying there was "no basis for any of the claims of plaintiffs" that the corporations owed them any money. The despite the fact that:
In 1984, several chemical companies paid $180m (£93m) to settle a lawsuit with US war veterans, who said that their health had been affected by exposure to the substance.But the Vietnamese civilians -- not our fault. So stop looking at us like that, kid.
I thought for quite some time about whether or not to post this image. It made me want to retch, so I hesitate to spread it around. On the other hand, as Colette said: "Look for a long time at what pleases you, and longer still at what pains you."
This pains me.
Draw a pig and learn all sorts of things about yourself. No, this one really tells you amazing things about yourself. Really. Yeah, but this one is for real.
Today I'm listening to: Primer!
Sunday, April 24, 2005
PoliSci HipHop Part III
It's finally up. Enjoy.
Saturday, April 23, 2005
Go Go Go!
This weekend I finished a video I'd been planning to do for quite some time -- "Go" by the Indigo Girls has awed and inspired me for years. I tried to make a video to match its power and beauty. Check it out:
We made it to 50,000 hits! According to bCentral, we're still getting about 500 hits a day, so I want to thank everyone who's lent their support to this little project of mine. It really means a lot to reach such a wide audience; I sometimes feel like I'm spitting in the wind, but the numbers and your comments make me smile. Thank you.
My pal Kakariki in NZ passed me a meme, so I guess I gotta do it. Here goes..
You Are an Idiot. Not you, personally.
Today I'm listening to: Indigo Girls!
Sunday, April 17, 2005
WE ARE IN CONTROL
WE ARE THE ROBOTIC SPACE PEOPLE OF ZEKRON-B. WE USE ALL CAPITAL LETTERS SO YOU WILL KNOW WE ARE NOT TO BE TRIFLED WITH.
WE HAVE TAKEN OVER THE HUMAN BROADCAST FOR THIS WEEK. WE CAN DO A BETTER SHOW THAN THE STUPID HUMANS.
PLEASE ENJOY THIS SHOW. WE ORDER YOU TO.
ROBOTS DO NOT WASTE TIME. BUT YOU HUMANS DO, SO HERE IS A MOVIE STARRING A ROBOT. BUT IN REAL LIFE A HUMAN CANNOT DEFEAT A ROBOT. SO YOU KNOW IT IS A FICTION MOVIE.
TODAY WE ARE LISTENING TO: SOLVENT!
Friday, April 15, 2005
A Modest Proposal
I got my taxes done today. (TPCQ: "Look at those idiots. I paid my taxes over a year ago!") I owed a chunk of change to Uncle Sam, but Uncle Wisconsin is going to give me twice as much back, so it's all good.
Still, suddenly having to pay $200 hurt, so I pondered the concept of taxes and recited Chris Rock's routine several times to myself. ("During the year, you don't even pay tax. They just take it. You get the check, money gone! Then they come around in April every year and they need more money! 'Uh, can I have a little more? The Pentagon needs a paintjob!' Uncle Sam is on the pipe!") Then I started to think about where my tax money goes.
Here's my proposal: Since my tax dollars pay for cluster bombs filled with depleted uranium that get dropped on neighborhoods in Badghdad, I feel like I deserve to get a little something for all the money I give toward this noble goal. Here's my proposal.
Obviously I can't ask to have one of these cluster bombs myself -- Bush and his friends need them, and we can't just have random Americans with access to dangerous weapons like cluster bombs. But is there any way I could get one of the dead Iraqi children, so I can do some scientific and medical tests? I'd even be willing to give it back after a year or so.
[Note for those who do not understand satire: You should learn to recognize and appreciate satire.]
Today when I got home, I had the best message ever on my machine. Enjoy. (I should make like Penguin Calls and make a flash movie with it.)
Myst IV: Revelation sucks. More in a future post.
Check out the happyface spiders. I like the one in the middle of the bottom row.
Check out The 5th Avocado. I think it's by the same people who did The End of the World, but I don't know. Sure sounds like 'em.
Today I'm listening to: Cornel West!
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
We Stand As One
I will never be able to thank my brother enough for send me the video for We Stand As One. It is the most inspiring music video I've ever seen.
However, it can be somewhat confusing -- my brother himself has expressed some uncertainty about the graveyard scene. So in the interest of helping others appreciate fine art, here is a scene-by-scene discussion to guide the viewer. I hope it's helpful. (For best results, keep the video open in a separate window so you can refer back and forth.)
Scene 1: The Beach
First, notice please the genius of the artistic design, insofar as the symbolism of the piece remains skillfully hidden until exactly the right moment -- at first, this appears to be just another guy on a beach. When you watch it for the first time, you think: "I'll bet this is just another stupid love song. Or maybe it's about the environment."
Then come the light beams. While some speculate that these are alien beings entering the singer's body, they are, in fact, divine emanations -- which show that he is an angelic being (this angel theme will return later in the video).
As he begins to sing, we are struck with the perfectness of the setting -- all of the elements he describes are present as he sings! The love (we all love the beach), the air, the "rain" (in the form of ocean spray), and the "tear" (the sand serves for this symbol here).
While it's incongruous that it's suddenly nighttime -- and a full harvest moon, no less -- this cinematography merely illustrates the fact that our atavar exists beyond time. This obviously isn't your everyday music video -- these folks are willing to take some chances.
As he sings, "And now my new life will soon begin," look closely. You may be able to see the faint outlines of shadowy figures -- these are other people who, like him, are actually not living. (Well, not in the usual way -- we'll come back to this.) And as he continues with this verse, they sprout wings and begin to fly. (You have to look really close. It's very very subtle.)
Scene 2: The Flags
In case you're wondering, the first appearance of Old Glory is done with what's known as a "masking technique". The video artist sets the ocean wave upon the sand as a "mask," then fills it with a static image of the flag. This causes the viewer to shake his head and say "Hey! How is that flag flowing over his feet like that?" It's not magic, but it's close!
It's also at this point that the nearly-hidden USA on the singer's shirt takes on a powerful new meaning. Perhaps the viewer thought that was just an old shirt he was wearing -- but in fact, we now see that it was planned all along. And he's also got blue jeans on, which were invented in America.
The next cut is to the Statue of Liberty, with a cutaway shot showing two people shaking hands -- obviously, one of them is a white person and the other one is not. We don't just Stand As One with white people, you know! We also Stand As One with people who are nearly white.
Hopefully I don't need to explain the relevance of the following shot, where the singer appears between two stones. (Between a rock and a hard place, get it?) The silhouette shots are also powerfully self-evident. (Like "these truths".)
As the verse ends, a powerful crescendo mixes with a nuanced image to bring us to the point -- this is a 9/11 tribute. (The firefighters are a poignant reminder of that tragedy.) At this point, the singer is "shouting into the wind," so to speak -- urging the pained nation that we must continue despite our loss.
Scene 3: The Playground
As noted earlier, the singer is actual an angelic-type creature, not a regular human. Therefore, as he passes through the playground in the next shot, it's important to remember that the kids can't see him! When I first watched it, I thought, "Don't these kids think it's odd that there's this guy in a leather jacket touching them and singing?" But of course all they experience is his love -- and the energy he passes on, as represented by the flares of light.
The next shot shows the singer in a prayer-like meditative pose. Thus it was silly for a friend of mine recently to ask while watching: "Why's he blowing his nose on the flag?"
As for the following shot: The unearthing of Mt. Rushmore is an effect not unlike the "masking' described above.
Scene 4: The Graveyard
Now we come to one of the most textually difficult parts of the video. First off, note carefully the lyric which says: "A tree grows high.." This does describe an actual tree (as you can see, there are many trees in the graveyard), but it's also a metaphor. The next line says: "A leaf will fall." This, obvisouly, refers to the loss of life, which happens from time to time in every family tree. Except that in a family tree, the people are branches, not leaves. Well, whatever. You get the point.
As you know if you've seen the whole video, the director does a masterful job of waiting to unleash the power of this scene. At first, we think: "Oh, that poor woman -- she's obviously grieving her husband." (She's too young to be grieving her parents, and it wouldn't make sense to have this be about a dead child. And obviously there wouldn't be any lesbians in this video. And it's also obviously not her brother. Or sister. I suppose it could be an aunt.)
But just as we're feeling most sympathetic for the woman, the camera moves around and we see her baby! (This coincides with the lyric stating: "You must be strong / Your chin up high / Yes, I still live / I did not die.") The meaning, of course, is that her husband lives on in the form of her new child! Some have asked how this baby, who is obviously of South American ethnicity, could have been spawned by the Aryan mother and the black-and-white photo flashed up a second later -- again, the child is not to be taken literally (she did not, as some have suggested, have an affair with someone who was not her husband). Instead, the child is the child of America, who gives light to all of our hopes of unity and stuff.
Right after the graveyard scene, we finally get a full profile silhouette shot of the angel -- and in case you hadn't guessed, the meaning is laid out for all to see. (Actually, some have proposed that this is merely a shadow of an angel who is flying around behind the singer -- but I'll leave that for you to decide.)
The symbolism of the child as America's child is really driven home in the following scene, with the crowd of children spastically waving miniature American flags. (TPCQ: "Boo!") These young angels, then, represent the innocent hopes of our nation, reborn anew in the ashes of tragedy. This notion is complemented by assorted shots of more firemen and soldiers. As the music builds to an apex, the singer reminds us: "We are so strong!" even though this is obvious as well. (Would a weak nation need such insipid pablum to make itself feel better after suffering an act of brutal violence?)
Of course, this inspiring song and its breathatking video were just one part of the massive cultural response to September 11 which allowed us to heal as a nation and find the inner fortitude to -- in the words of social commentator David Cross -- "drop pudding cups on the most heavily mined country in the world" and invade the nation of Iraq, killing thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians.
Check out this video. It's inspiring and beautiful!
Today I'm listening to: We Stand As One!
Sunday, April 10, 2005
And We Don't Stop...
Finally got the second installment of the political hip-hop SynCast up and running. Stupid software, taking forever. How pathetic is it that the Mac had a good sound editor under OS9, but now does not under OSX? Ridiculous!
Hey look -- a FoxNews commentary I agree with. Will wonders never cease!
Diane will get a kick out of The Guinea Pig Way. Yes, it's by the same people.
Today I'm listening to: Mad Professor!
Sunday, April 03, 2005
I Said, RIP Mitch
The new SynCast is up. Hear Mitch in all his glory. I'm off to grade many papers.
It's Cosmic! It's Extreme! It's Extremely Cosmic!
Are you stupid? Do you have very bad taste in things? Do you need flasshing lights and wacky visual effects in order to pay attention to the world around you? Do you have a standing prescription for psychoactive drugs due to an overdose of television? Do you drool on yourself a lot? Are you unable to tie your own shoelaces? Do you have a large glob of tapioca pudding where your brain ought to be?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you're sure to enjoy Cosmic Bowling! It's the exciting new phenomenon for people who don't want to see the lanes. Thrill to really bad "extreme" music played on the PA while spinning lights prevent you from lining up your shot! Piss yourself with joy as you notice that your shoelaces glow when they're under a blacklight! Try to chuckle nonchalantly as you screw up yet another frame because you can't concentrate or see anything! It's more fun than stabbing yourself in the eye with a spork!
You can tell Cosmic Bowling is a bit hit, because whereas the phrase "cosmic bowling sucks" brings back zero pages on Google, the phrase "cosmic bowling rocks" brings back six -- including one from JeepSingles.net ("Cosmic bowling ROCKS! [stupid icon of a smiley face giving a thumbs-up] Well, not as much as jeep chicks, but it's fun."), and one at the ugliest webpage I've ever seen.
I can't wait for the next step in this idiotic trend -- Extreme Libraries! ("Dude, the book you're looking for is in our cosmic fiction section! Go past the blacklight and turn left at the spinning disco shelf.")
Sheep Dash is fun for a few seconds. I hope they make Extreme Sheep Dash next!
Today I'm listening to: Groove Salad!
Friday, April 01, 2005
Mitch Hedberg died on Wednesday. He was my favorite comedian currently performing. Say hi to Bill Hicks for me, Mitch. [pic]
My lucky number is 4 billion. That doesn't come in real handy when you're gambling. "Come on, 4 billion! [expletive]. Seven. Not even close. I need more dice."
An escalator can never break. It can only become stairs. You would never see a escalator "Temporarily Out of Order" sign, just "Escalator Temporarily Stairs... Sorry for the Convenience ... We apologize for the fact that you can still get up there."
When you go to a restaurant on the weekends and it's busy they start a waiting list. They start calling out names, they say "Dufrane, party of two. Dufrane, party of two." And if no one answers they'll say their name again. "Dufrane, party of two, Dufrane, party of two." But then if no one answers they'll just go right on to the next name. "Bush, party of three." Yeah, but what happened to the Dufranes? No one seems to give a [expletive]. Who can eat at a time like this -- people are missing. You [expletive]s are selfish... The Dufranes are in someone's trunk right now, with duct tape over their mouths. And they're hungry! That's a double whammy. Bush, search party of three! You can eat when you find the Dufranes.
Here -- stare at the dot.
Today I'm listening to: Mitch All Together!
You'll Buy a Widescreen Monitor and You'll Like It...
MadWomen for Peace (incl. Diane)
Die Puny Humans (Warren Ellis)
Random Pictures (Photoblog)
Satan's Laundromat (Photoblog)
This Modern World (Tom Tomorrow)