The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

Posts Tagged ‘Youtube’

Posted by Matt on April 30, 2011

Well, as luck would have it, my final visit to a closing independent book store a few weeks back resulted in me finding the following gem, and at 30% off:

This collects the first two ‘Books’ of Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill’s cult classic 2000 AD strip, along with a few bonus strips. They don’t make these kinds of shorter collections anymore, really. That is probably because the dollar-to-content ratio expectation is up. Coincidentally, this completely screws over my further reading of the series, as the first book in the Rebellion Complete series has all of this book’s contents, plus the next two ‘Books’. Which basically means that I’ll have to essentially buy this book again in order to continue on with this series. Oh well.

So yeah. I had been meaning to pick up something by Pat Mills for a while now. Mills is one of those creators who is very important, for UK comics especially, but hasn’t really become prominent like some of the other 2000 AD talents that came after. Mostly it’s because of his personal choice to not work within the American comics system, sticking with UK and continental European stuff. The sole exception was Marshall Law, another comic of his and O’Neill’s that I hope to pick up some time in the future.

Nemesis is joyful in its anarchic cynicism; you know, you spend a lot of time learning that subtlety is a virtue, especially in satire, but sometimes it’s good just to find something that’s so fucking angry about some aspect of society, that they just throw it all out there. The idea of “Humans are the invaders!” has been done nearly to death, but this one does it well: pretty much ever person on the future earth of Termight are either a malicious bigot or an apathetic rube abiding by a cruel dictator. The primary antagonist, Torquemada, is so evil, it’s hilarious. Which is the point, really. Mills and O’Neill want to show you the evils of racism and religious zealotry (obvious, yes, but even obvious stuff can be overlooked), but want to make it as entertaining as possible. Plus, Mills makes the majority of the ‘heroes’ pretty unpleasant, too. It’s quintessential black humor, and man is it fun to read.

Part of the entertainment factor comes from the art, especially in Book 1, really captures the grotesqueness of the whole enterprise, using exaggeration and really bizarre alien designs, and tons of little things thrown in the background and in the design of the pages. O’Neill is just the perfect artist for this book. Which isn’t to say that Jesus Redondo, the artist for Book 2, isn’t also capable. His art looks cleaner, and tells the story very well (it probably helps that Book 2 is pretty restrained compared to the free-for-all that Book 1 eventually turned into). But I couldn’t help but miss all that crazy stuff going on every page. I read that O’Neill comes back for a few later stories, which is good.

The book also acts as my introduction to the style of comics that 2000 AD features; namely, 4-6 page weekly strips. It’s a bit jarring when you’re used to either full-length American comics or one-page online strips, but it never felt cramped or decompressed. Each one felt like it’s own story, but maintained it’s place within the larger story. Which is what one generally wants to do in most serial comics, don’t they?

So there’s my simple thoughts. Read more thinky stuff about Nemesis here and here. And here’s a video of the creators talking about stuff:

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Christmas Post 11/12

Posted by Matt on December 25, 2010

Almost there.

Here’s a song my friends like:

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Christmas Post 6/12

Posted by Matt on December 19, 2010

Rareware Christmas Tunes Double Bill

David Wise is the best.

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Christmas Post 2/12

Posted by Matt on December 15, 2010

Yukon Cornelius: A True Badass

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The World Hates Me

Posted by Matt on December 9, 2010

Why else would they give me a movie about boxing robots, a concept that is TOTALLY ME, directed by Shawn ‘Maestro of Mediocrity’ Levy?

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Posted by Matt on September 27, 2010

Because I don’t feel like doing another write-up, here’s a review I wrote for the newspaper about the Flaming Lips concert I went to last week:

Oklahoma-based psychadelic rockers the Flaming Lips are famous for putting on a one-of-a-kind concert, and I can report with confidence that this is the case. It is DEFINITELY the case.

The opening act at their Winnipeg concert, Haunted Graffiti, were able to set the mood pretty early on. Although they are certainly a more straightforward rock band than the Lips, their use of keyboards and harder sound created a similar vibe, as did its strange frontman, who was entertaining in spite of the fact that I couldn’t understand a thing he said.
The Flaming Lips themselves started strong and never let up during their dozen-or-so song set, which pulled primarily from their three 2000s albums, but also included a classic from the 90s, She Don’t Use Jelly. Everyone was on game, and not even short technical difficulties hurt the intensity the band put into every song, nor ecstatic mood of the audience. Frontman Wayne Coyne kept the place jumping by spending a moment between songs to talk to the audience and encourage everyone to join in.

As for the show itself… it is probably the most visually entertaining thing I’ve ever seen on stage. Every song brought in new, weird effects; confetti gushed down at any given moment; there were women in yellow shirts and hats dancing on the sidelines for the entire show; large balloons were bounced around in the audience for a whole hour; and the band members interacted with the visuals displayed on the giant circular screen. Coyne himself went out of his way to entertain, first by jumping into the floor audience in a giant bubble, and following it up throughout the show by, for example, sitting on the shoulders of a man in a bear costume, or using giant hands to reflect laser lights onto two disco balls. Of course, words can’t really do the show justice: you really need to see it to get how crazy and awesome it was, and to know the feeling of how entertaining it was just to anticipate what could happen next.

So, as one can tell, the Lips show is everything you’ve heard it was, and probably more. And it’s not just for the sheer sense overload provided by what’s going on stage, either; there’s a genuine love of the music there. Coyne repeatedly talked about how much happiness he finds among the band’s fans, and it’s easy to see where he’s coming from when you see a large group of people singing along to Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots and Do You Realize??

Here’s some videos from it:

I also saw the Arcade Fire last week. It was also a good concert.

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Pain Inflicting

Posted by Matt on September 6, 2010

My last list of songs I hate that play incessantly at work was rather weak, as I forgot several major offenders. Now I remember them, and I give them to you all because I hate. I HATE.

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Posted by Matt on August 23, 2010

I usually have a hard time just sitting down and watching a lot of something. There’s a lot of TV series out there I’d probably like that I just haven’t gotten to watching, for example. I hope to rectify this soon enough.

I guess I’m starting with Mr. Show, the cult classic sketch comedy from the mid to late 90s. I’ve spent the past two weeks watching all 30 episodes, and I can easily understand why it’s received the lofty position it has. It’s a truly ambitious show, shooting for something far greater than the average show of its type, while at the same time embracing the most absurdist comedy possibly (now put that on the back of the DVD case!)

Although it fluctuates wildly throughout the series, the structure is really what struck me the most. It was fun to see all the scenes transition into each other (which is something that posting Youtube videos of scenes can’t truly capture, although that isn’t stopping me from posting them) and how they connect in other ways, especially in earlier seasons where each episode had a central theme (not the ones that did away with them for the most part, season 4 especially, really suffered significantly from it). The thing about most sketch comedies in the SNL mold is that entire episodes mean very little; this is, of course, why entire shows are never called ‘the best’, while individual sketches are (the other major issue being the sheer volume). Mr. Show, by being both more conscious of structuring an entire half-hour and being much smaller, is able to avoid this, and this feels much stronger overall as a show rather than as a sketch-producing machine (for more and better insight into the strengths of Mr.Show‘s individual episodes, read The AV Club’s weekly retrospective.)

Of course, the sketches themselves probably wouldn’t be nearly as funny if the actors weren’t up to snuff. As the ‘With Bob and David’ part of the title would suggest, most of the comedy is in the hands of Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, who are able to pull it off pretty much all the time. Their delivery and ability to inhabit the weird characters they always end up playing (Cross is great at playing shills and annoying salesman, while Odenkirk always seems to find a point in each episode to wear a fake mustache and old-timey clothes while using funny-sounding accents). But they also found a great supporting cast as well: Tom Kenny, Jill Talley, John Ennis, and Jay Johnson and the others recurring cast (including infrequent appearances by the likes of pre-infamy Jack Black and Sarah Silverman) are all crucial to each sketch. The cast is always willing to give their roles that extra push that the scripts demand, and are sometimes even able to get as much comedy possible out of even the weakest idea.

And the other thing that makes Mr. Show stand out is its ability to push each scene to its limit and pull hilarious new directions out of nowhere. Rather than simply rest on one funny idea, they will branch out, or completely subvert it, or just go all-out bonkers. This is also one of the things that appealed to me personally: anything that go in such silly, surreal direction on a dime gets thumbs up from me.

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Posted by Matt on August 10, 2010

Mid-90s arcade games presents RAP:

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Posted by Matt on June 5, 2010

I don’t know if I want to talk about anything at this moment, so here’s this:

As you can see, at some point in the 90s, Sega thought that they should use their Batman: The Animated Series license to create a Gunstar Heroes-style shooty-type game, complete with weird 90s electronic music, which the Genesis’ tinny sound was actually able to do quite well. If Batman and a parade of recognizable villains didn’t show up, this would not be an identifiably ‘Batman’ game. It reminds me more of other older shooty-type games, which often consist of bizarre levels with very little connection to one another. For an example, let’s skip ahead in this playthrough:

Most of this is in the I guess appropriate Mad Hatter levels, which involve a robotic enchanted forest that eventually breaks off chunks of pixel to attack you and ends with an almost photorealistic bouncing gnome. It’s weird on its own, and even weirder because it’s a Batman game.

I will give them a little extra credit for going the unexpected route of having Mr. Freeze as the final boss, as well.

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