Posts Tagged ‘ Media ’

Why “Carmageddon” Didn’t Happen

2011.07.19
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THEY SHOULD HAVE CALLED IT “Carpocalypse.” %$#@!ing publicists.

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Synoptipitch: Firefly

2011.07.03
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“It’s like if Star Wars were about Han Solo, but without aliens and blasters and hyperdrives, with the Jedi a 14-year-old induced-psychotic girl and sprinkled heavily with Old West individual-vs-the-Man subtext. Oh, and written by geeks. That’s Firefly.”

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Oh, How I Miss John Lennon

2011.06.26
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IT’S GOOD TO JUDGE FAVORABLY, if one bothers to judge at all, and yet I sometimes feel that if I see one more pair of hipster horn-rims, I’m going to scream so loud they’ll hear me on Mars.

Perhaps I’m judging too harshly — it may well be simply a postmodern alien ovipositor. Either way, I hope it’s not terminal. Or any more contagious than it apparently is.

Since The Metaphorager exists where time is fluid and frames are a matter of perspective in addition to holding one’s eyeball extenders, I should note that one of my ancient colleagues (will) comment(s)(ed) about the functionality issue — that they are “comfortable on my face and built like a tank so I can’t very easily destroy them.” Functionality makes great points with me, and to be fair my friend is not the sort of self-serious nerd I’m writing about, or in the case of this post, occasionally am.

No, what I’m talking about is the same compulsive nonconformity which had all us liberal-arts majors wearing John Lennon frames in the 1970s (hell, I still do) — it’s the style of the thing that I wonder about (why this? why now?), not the thing itself. Horn-rim glasses have become a sort of deconstructionist face-bullhorn, not unlike a Dobbshead or a Monty Python lyric or any other of the ten thousand signs of instant nerd recognition. In that, they’re useful — but in their prolificity they have also become something of a visual cliche.

To be honest, there are more important things in the world to bother about than other people’s choice of eyewear. (I could get back to talking about religious visions or writing, for example.) But if nothing else, I hope I’ve happily answered for some lonely soul the burning question, “Is it just me?”

(On the other hand, they look great on women. But then so does everything.)

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Consensual Art: Do Not Screen

2011.06.17
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Fig. 1.

THE LAST MAIL-ART PROJECT I “did” was a series of one or two audiocassette collages with (sub)genius co-conspirators Alan K. Lipton and David Wilson circa 198x-199x. We’d record a bunch of weird stuff and send it on to the next fellow to “see what [he] could do with this here tape … rearrange it, delete anything, add anything” (as David growled at some random 3 a.m.). Listening to it evolve, with bits of past tapes peeking through the mix like enigmatic epitaphs, brought a satisfaction like no other: an aural jigsaw puzzle assembling itself from cracked refractions.

That spirit of collegial creativity is one of the ideas behind Do Not Screen, a website which purports to present the contents of a mysterious red box in the “vast remoteness of Northern Michigan.” The contents included hundreds of cut-up 16mm film strips and a variety of other documents, some retrieved from envelopes marked “DO NOT SCREEN:”

Rather than re-assemble the film myself, I am, in the spirit of analog, snail-mailing frames from the film as well as a url with a corresponding activation code to scholars, students, theorists, film buffs, cultural anthropologists, writers, artists, editors, and others. In collaboration with the Critical Media Lab, I will manage a database that will reassemble the film in its proper order, with each frame-series (the strips of 12 frames) being activated as frame recipients log onto the website and enter the unique activation code that corresponds to their film strip. The more people who enter their frame numbers, the more complete the film will be.

Under a lens, the strip I received in the mail last week seems to show a group of 50 people dressed in cold-weather 1940s businesswear standing around someone’s backyard. The accompanying handwritten document, brown and crisp with age, was a labor receipt for ash retrieval and ditch filling. The whole exudes a creepy and cool aura, and I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

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Click A Laugh A Day

2011.06.16
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“COMIX” IS TO “COMICS” AS Zippy the Pinhead is to Snoopy, or Robert Crumb is to Jack Kirby: irreverent satire rather than bemuscled superheroes. The Internet has made it easier for would-be comix artists to reach an audience, and the following examples never fail to provoke in me either laughter or deep thought (or both). It’s easy to get lost clicking through “back issues;” you have been warned.

1. XKCD. Stick figures with brains and a heart. Probably the most accessible high-intellect and -soul pieces I’ve seen since the original Howard the Duck. Most of the math jokes are over my head, but it’s a tribute to the artist that they’re still funny.

2. PeanuTweeter. Random tweets replace the Peanuts gang’s word-balloon speech for an effect that’s ironic and wistful in a Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead sort of way.

3. Garfield Minus Garfield. As it says — a Garfieldectomy leaving the other characters intact. What’s left resembles one young man’s solipsistic fever dream, horrid and wonderful and cutely disturbing.

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Today’s Most Tweeted Non-Mark Twain Quote

2011.05.02
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“I’VE NEVER WISHED A MAN dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.”

Whether or not Mr. Twain actually Why Clarence Darrow said these words I do not know. But for those having difficulty cheering one more death, yet no compulsion to weep for the decedent, it seems to capture the moment nicely. (Although Ann‘s “Osama Been Gotten” is nice too.)

– Neal, whose Facebook page today reads “…Having a surreal experience. Fortunately, so is everyone else.”

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Sign In A Radio Newsroom, c. 1993

2011.03.16
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SAW THIS WHERE I FIRST interned as “Neal Ross.” I was naive enough then to think it merely humorous.

Cub reporter: “If it’s news, I report it.”
Old journalist: “If I report it, it’s news.”
Newsman Emeritus: “If I don’t report it, it didn’t happen.” When I report it, it’s history.”

(Thanks to “Bob” for the correction.)

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Cinematic Question: Shifting Allegiances

2011.02.10
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SINCE WHEN, IN THE MOVIES, did the Romans become the good guys?

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Words Mean Stuff

2011.02.08
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A SHORT LIST OF WORDS which, through overuse, have been consigned to the meaning-deficient self-parody heap:

Blatant
Flagrant
Offen(sive/ded)
Rabid
Sexist
Racist
Controversy
Security
Freedom
Democracy
Republican
Terrorism
Diva

(There are others, but these are what I found in this morning’s newspaper. Additions and substitutions welcome.)

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How To Make Your Blog Sound Important

2011.01.26
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1. BEGIN EVERY PARAGRAPH WITH “I.”

2. Repost the same story as other blogs within your target demographic.

3. When commenting in other blogs, slip in the phrase “as I wrote” and flash your URL.

4. Call everyone by their first name whether celebrity, criminal or politician.

5. Make gratuitous jokes equating celebrities, criminals and politicians.

6. Be snarkier.

7. Don’t write from the heart. Ever.

8. When in doubt, link to YouTube.

9. Use lots of “ironic” quotes.

10. Remember: the world won’t run without you. Remind it.

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5 Thoughts: Alternative Pleasantries

2011.01.19
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1. REGRET IS LIKE THE PROVERBIAL potato chip, which is why I am reluctant to taste even one. Living a reasonably full life keeps any real regret firmly in its place; i.e., away. Yet while I regret nothing, there are some experiences which I would like to have but either cannot or will not swap for whatever I’d have to sacrifice to realize them. Think of them as wistful might-have-beens or alternative pleasantries:

2. Steve Jobs doing his annual MacWorld thing. I have friends who are Mac users, and I have friends who are Mac addicts who never miss a product rollout. Yet I have never so much as seen a video of Mr. Jobs’ yearly tech unveilment. Something there is about consensual dedication to intelligent (or any) tools; it would be nice to see the Fearless Leader revealing to the faithful their latest obsession.

3. One more Grateful Dead show. I was never a full-on Deadhead, but would see them whenever they played to their Bay Area homebase, and whenever I could, mostly between 1981 and 1990; the best show I attended was three days at Laguna Seca Raceway in 1988, with camping and girls and everything. It’s true that “there is nothing like a Grateful Dead concert” — it would be nice to know that the last one was the last one.

4. A few years ago, one of the cable stations ran a couple daily episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. This allowed for the taping of the entire series; they were also running daily Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes, but we didn’t know then how good (sometimes better) a series it was; or we could now curl up some evening at Quark’s (or, for the hardcore, Vic’s) without bugging Netflix.

5. I think I passed up a chance to see DEVO live in the late 1970s or early 1980s. But I saw them in the ’90s, which was in some cases more interesting due to all the middle-aged punks with their kids. So it all works out eventually.

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David Feldman, Post-Modern Comic Genius

2011.01.13
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PAY ATTENTION, CLASS: TODAY WE learn from David Feldman, American, how to correctly structure a portable visual joke (in this case, a bumpersticker) for maximum satiric and comic effect.

First point: Understand the medium. The human eye travels a line of text, or what the brain immediately assesses as same, from left to right.

Second point: Camouflage. On a black background, the eye first registers a patriotic symbol — an American flag overlaying a proud bald eagle’s profile — followed by a line of white text.

Third point: Reinforcement. A sturdy sans-serif, all caps: “MY COUNTRY RIGHT OR … ”

Fourth point: Misdirection. The brain, conditioned by years of living within the Lower North American political ecosystem, anticipates a conditioned jingoism.

Fifth point: Gotcha. The text finishes: ” … RONG.” The brain is wrenched from its self-woven cocoon by the unexpected monosyllabic truncation, and explodes into laughter. Its owner reaches for a handkerchief or small towel.

REMEMBER THE MONOSYLLABIC TRUNCATION. THERE WILL BE A TEST.

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