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This has to be parody, right?

[ 129 ] July 10, 2014 |
I make words with my mouth on the Internet. What more do you want from me?

I make words with my mouth on the Internet. What more do you want from me?

Erstwhile conspiracy-monger Alex Jones is basing his new conspiracy theory on…something Joan Rivers said.

I’m increasingly convinced that those conservatives who claim Jones is a “false flag” might be onto something, because I’ve seen my share of “Michael Obama” and “First Tranny” jokes over the last six years, but I’ve never seen them directly connected to a United Nations plot to turn us all into “biological androids” who live “to serve the state.”

Steven Soderbergh and the real measure of humanity

[ 241 ] July 9, 2014 |

Soderbergh really looks like Buster, doesn't he? ("YES MOTHER" is the appropriate response.)

Being that I’m the kind of person who has his own film school and what-not, I decided to read Esquire’s interview with the now-not-but-soon-to-be-again-retired Stephen Soderbergh. “Could be edifying,” I thought to myself — and it was, especially this passage:

A real litmus test for me is how people treat someone who is waiting on them. That’s a deal-breaker for me. If I were on the verge of getting into a serious relationship and I saw that person be mean to a waiter — I’m out. That’s a core problem. You’re being mean to someone who’s helping you. What is that? Everyone knows who the assholes are, and I avoid them.

Because it’s a funny story, but in the ’90s I actually waited on Steven Soderbergh quite a bit, and if that’s his litmus test, he didn’t pass it. Not even remotely.

Because as memory serves, when Soderbergh was a regular at the used bookstore/coffee shop I worked at, his treatment of me then would’ve been a deal-breaker for him now.

One particularly memorable conversation involved his then-obsession with Ambrose Bierce. I’d placed the special orders for the books myself, so I knew they’d just come in the week before Mr. Ambrose Bierce Expert saw me reading Mason & Dixon behind the counter. He proceeded to excitedly tell me, at length and with some volume, that I was wasting my time reading Thomas Pynchon, because Ambrose Bierce was where it’s really at.

He went on and on and on, enthralled by his own love of Bierce — which, after I became an Americanist and read him, I believe is totally justifiable. But the point is, Soderbergh wouldn’t just have failed his own criterion for the measure of humanity, he would have done so spectacularly.

Which, as a friend on Facebook noted, might be the point. He might have chosen his worst character trait as the defining characteristic of humanity because it’s something he had to overcome, and given the depth of charity to the underprivileged and unvoiced evident in his work, I’m tempted to believe that.

Because as much as I despised him as a patron when I had to deal with him, I can’t help but admire — however begrudgingly — what he’s done with himself in the years since, especially Che.

I know I’m defending the film against an idiot of an ideologue at that link, but even if I had to defend it against Roger Ebert himself, I’d do so with the same vehemence…

…despite how I feel about the man personally. He’s just that talented, damn it. There’s a real humanity to his late-period work, especially in the films that everyone hated because they dealt with unsavory subjects like prostitutes or viral pandemics or Che.

So on behalf of all the baristas and book-store employees he berated before he came to understand this truth as being self-evident, I’m just going to go ahead and forgive him.

You’re welcome, Steven.

The 300 Best Guided By Voices Songs: #300 “Not Behind the Fighter Jet”

[ 22 ] July 1, 2014 |

Some of you may believe that I chose this song as the 300th best of the 983 Guided By Voices songs in my collection simply because I’m pandering to Farley … and you’d be partially correct. This song is both great and has fighter jets in it, as you can hear for yourself below:

More importantly, it’s a moving — if sloppily done — adaptation of William Butler Yeats’ “An Irish Airman Foresees His Death,” which is a poem, and a good one at that. Granted, it lacks the chiasmatic magic of the original and the First World War context, but other than that, it’s about fighter jets, which the Yeats poem is also about.

In all seriousness, though, the two lack any connection other than their fatal airiness, but what makes Robert Pollard’s lyric here so moving here is the contrast between the grandiosity of faux-narrative and its narrator.

A wounded mercenary bleeds,
In the hall of fantastically fine things.
Where the path of glory leads,
Lately, I think it’s grown too hard.

As I’ll say countless times, no doubt, depending on how long I pretend to be doing 300 of these, I do believe Pollard tossed this lyric off.

He went big when he was half in the bag, probably, with tales of mercenaries and their fine halls, but sobered up, pulled back, and admitted that even lying about his exploits proved too hard. Which, admit it, is what humanizes this track in the first place.

Lawyers, Guns & Money podcast – Game of Thrones – “The Children”

[ 24 ] June 24, 2014 |

The second of today’s Game of Thrones podcasts is now available — and yes, it really is an hour an eighteen minutes long.

Which is a lot, we acknowledge that.

Audio can be found here.

Lawyers, Guns & Money podcast – Game of Thrones – “The Watchers on the Wall”

[ 26 ] June 24, 2014 |

The next one will also be made available today! Two for one podcast day!

Audio can be found here.

“The rich are different from you and me.”

[ 291 ] June 23, 2014 |

But they’re certainly not better, if #richkidsofinstagram is any indication:

rich kids on instagram

“Yes, I’d like some buffalo wings, raw, and $255 cut of steak, completely ruined, slave.”

Via SEK via Other Scott via Facebook:

This must be posted on RIGHT NOW as insulting plutocrats who want their expensive beef turned into shoe leather is an LGM tradition going back to Duke Cunningham

SEK’s new AV Club Internet Film School column: On the importance of contiguity in Orange Is the New Black

[ 17 ] June 19, 2014 |

tastyee

My new column is up! And the title of it references a beloved Internet Tradition!

Sample:

What had, minutes earlier, been an audition for the role of “child” in a production of “family” has transformed into one for the role of “cog” in “drug enterprise.” The confusion created by placing these scenes back-to-back will resonate throughout the season, as Taystee must decide whether Vee is a caring mother figure or an exacting boss. Initially, at least, she seems to understand the difference—but as the episode progresses, the amount of emotional energy she invests in acquiring a job becomes increasingly excessive, making the stitching of these two scenes together seem increasingly meaningful.

Cheese dreams are made of these

[ 85 ] June 18, 2014 |

Last night, I dreamt I’d become a sensation on the Texas rabbinical circuit. I went from makeshift Texas synagogue to makeshift Texas synagogue — they refuse to build real synagogues in Texas, after all, so Jews there celebrate the Sabbath in sweltering temporary shelters — and all I did was call God a dick and invite people to argue otherwise. Because they were Jewish, they mightily obliged.

I blamed God for killing beloved pets and parents and the like, and people responded that He made Israel possible, that we wouldn’t be here without Him. I would say, “No, that’s Hitler you’re thinking of,” and they’d be even more upset. It was great fun.

Eventually, because it’s Texas, someone tried to assassinate me — Me! The most popular itinerant rabbi in Texas! — and my last thought was, “I hope they name some shit sinkhole of a kibbutz after me.”

Point being, that sharp horseradish cheddar I ate right before I went to bed last night? I’m absolutely doing that again.

Feel free to share the dream of yours most likely to be adapted by the Coen brothers in the comments. If you’re at a loss, I recommend eating some cheese and grabbing a nap.

SEK’s final Game of Thrones recap until next May is now up

[ 113 ] June 16, 2014 |

You’ll have to wait another nine months for my next recap, so savor this one!

Lawyers, Guns & Money podcast: SEK & Attewell on Game of Thrones, Season 4, Episode 8: “The Mountain and the Viper”

[ 12 ] June 9, 2014 |

Yes, this is a week late, and for that, we apologize. We shall have the next done forthwith, we promise!

Audio can be found here.

SEK’s Game of Thrones recap, Season 4, Episode 9: “The Watchers on the Wall”

[ 104 ] June 9, 2014 |

In all seriousness:

Meh.

Podcast for last week’s episode — which was decidedly not meh – will go up later today.

Before we pile on Žižek, we probably ought to consider the source

[ 106 ] June 3, 2014 |

I know it’s fun to make fun of Žižek — but I think Paul and Scott both missed something crucial about Rebecca Schuman’s broadside: it’s ridiculous beyond the point of stupidity. I’m not defending the man — I’m on the record as not being a fan — but at least I had the common courtesy to read work written by and about him before beginning the ritual slagging.

Because that’s what this is — a gussied up version of the annual conservative articles about the MLA written by intrepid reporters whose investigations amount to “flipping through the MLA catalog and writing down the names of funny sounding sessions.” Anyone could string together a series of bitter remarks made by put-upon academics if said academics had a camera pointed at them all the time. I’m not defending what Žižek said — he knew he was on camera or the record — merely noting that the manner in which this article was constructed is highly suspect.

Unless, that is, you think this a fine piece of journalism.

Exactly.

Whenever someone writes a condemnatory sentence as hedged as this one:

I have no idea what a superstar like Žižek gets paid, and I don’t know if he actually fills his office-hours sign-up sheet with fake names so that none of the “boring idiots” come and bother him with their stupid problems, as one New School faculty member has apparently claimed.

You should seriously consider not taking that person seriously. What I just wrote about The Donalde almost exactly obtains here:

Where do you even begin with this drivel? The initial confession of ignorance? The non-sequitur in the next clause? The non-sequitur in the next sentence? The second admission of ignorance? Or the confident statement of fact about what is really going on with the thing [she] twice-professed he knows nothing about?

When you only need to alter one pronoun to make a true statement about The Donalde apply to someone else, do you really want to take that person seriously?

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