- How the war on drugs is a slow-motion holocaust directed at the nation’s minority poor.
- Nader: America’s highest-paid executive made more by 9:15 a.m. on his first day of work than minimum-wage workers made all year.
- Yes, if you’re out of work for a long time, employers will discriminate when deciding whether to hire you.
- So is Panera fast food or not?
- Reasons to keep the faith, re Patton Oswalt.
- Why you are bad at your (supposed) jobs.
- With this new economics paper on their side, Keynesians stick it to the austerity crowd.
- One more reason why the Wall Street Journal doesn’t win Pulitzers in the Murdoch era.
- The army is learning about the strategies involved in combating mass zombie chaos.
- Not the New York Post; also, this.
- The infiltration of academia continues: Rise of the metallectuals.
- Dr. Who and the proverbial nice cuppa tea.
- Print and read: “Christopher Wallace is dead. Long live Biggie Smalls.”
Category Archives: Omnicultural
So how long has everyone known about Louis C.K.? You try to be a culturally aware person, up on the latest things, familiar with the trending performers, and so on and so forth. But every now and again one or more slips through the cracks and you just … miss it. Then, you’re behind the curve, and the more people go on about him or her, you figure, well, I’ll get around to it eventually. And then you do. And then you realize … what took me so long?
Case in point, Louis C.K.’s latest special, Oh My God. If you read my review of it that ran on PopMatters yesterday, you might be forgiven for thinking that this particular writer had been following this guy’s career for years, when in fact it was a very recent development, and long overdue.
Anyways, it’s a great hour of comedy, here’s part of my review:
Whenever Chuck Klosterman gets tired of writing the New York Times’ “Ethicist” column, the editors there should consider throwing out a feeler to Louis C.K. They might have to put up with a few gags about the Holocaust and child murder, but he’s actually a good fit for the position. His media profile is that of the controversial shock-comic who leaps into territory that might daunt Sarah Silverman. But what’s always been most interesting about C.K. is his quaintly earnest examination of morality and life’s purpose, with the occasional joke about cannibalism…
Here’s the promo:
Even though we’re arguably living in a time of unprecedented leaps in graphic design, that boundary-breaking often fails to trickle down to the book world. Like any other creative industry, book covers tend to group together by trends—now minimal, then not; and always the unspoken rule that genre fiction covers show people and more literary fiction does not.
In any case, freelance designer Sharm Murugiah had an awesome idea: Why not take the aesthetic of classic Penguin paperback covers from the 1950s and ’60s, with their standardized type treatments and focus on one or two iconic but abstract images, and see what would happen if he designed book covers for Quentin Tarantino films? This is what:
They all pretty much make sense, though it takes a minute to get some of the references (anybody remember the significance of Pop Tarts in a toaster for Pulp Fiction?).
(hat-tip to GalleyCat, once again)
- The glories of this miraculous thing called “soda-water.”
- Three decades of war later, leader of the Kurdish revolt calls for peace from his island prison.
- Orwell, Beck, and hate hate hate.
- One horrible crime, and then another.
- Anybody like to buy a castle?
- This is what happens when the Tea Party tries to talk about race.
- Yes, rich people can be a little jerky about the poors.
- “Driving over dirt roads through hair-raising checkpoints guarded by drunk or stoned or just zoned-out teen-agers with Kalashnikovs;” and other stories of the photojournalist trade.
- Before war and dictators: What Baghdad used to look like in the 1930s.
- Now officially horrible: Michelle Shocked.
- Concern for the poor and fighting over liberation theology; Pope Francis’ roots as a Jesuit.
- Chris Kluwe vs. homophobia.
- Things you may want to know about Ghostbusters.
- Smack You in the Face, and other games kittens play.
- The moment some have been waiting for: 50 Shades of Kate Moss.
- Print and read: Howard Zinn—great writer, but with a tendency to slaughter sacred cows already dead.
One day we’ll get to a world where all writers make their living by delivering killer commencement speeches and then publishing said talks as nifty little standalone editions that might be considered self-help-y where it not for the name attached. Case in point: Neil Gaiman.
Last May, Gaiman gave the commencement address at Philadelphia’s The University of the Arts. He was everything one could hope for: wistful, self-deprecating, helpful, and occasionally inspirational. He also understood that what all those soon-to-graduate artists wanted is help and advice that would tell them: How Do I Do What It Is That I Want To Do?
A few notes from Gaiman’s speech where he lays out the attractions and trials of the freelance life, along with some “secret freelancer knowledge”:
- “A freelance life, a life in the arts, is sometimes like putting messages in bottles, on a desert island, and hoping that someone will find one of your bottles and open it and read it, and put something in a bottle that will wash its way back to you: appreciation, or a commission, or money, or love. And you have to accept that you may put out a hundred things for every bottle that winds up coming back.“
- “And when things get tough, this is what you should do. Make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art.“
- “People keep working, in a freelance world, and more and more of today’s world is freelance, because their work is good, and because they are easy to get along with, and because they deliver the work on time. And you don’t even need all three. Two out of three is fine. People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time. They’ll forgive the lateness of the work if it’s good, and if they like you. And you don’t have to be as good as the others if you’re on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.“
Full transcript here.
The speech is going to be published this May in an edition designed by Chip Kidd.
So, the Oscars happened. It was difficult to decide what was the more depressing element of the evening: The laceratingly dull ceremony of Tolstoyan length or the fact that Life of Pi took home so many awards?
I try to answer these questions (and many, many more!) in “The Academy Awards are Decadent and Depraved,” now available for your reading pleasure at Short Ends & Leader; here’s some of it:
…Seth MacFarlane was not going to save this year’s Academy Awards from itself. Nobody could. There is something about the event’s bulldozer quality these days that crushes, folds, and spindles any host who puts themselves in the cross-hairs. A production featuring a reanimated Bob Hope, jokes from Woody Allen and the entire Simpsons staff, 5D special effects by James Cameron, and an original score performed live by the ghost of Bernard Herrmann, would still come off as stiff, unfunny, desperate, and cheap.
That being said, MacFarlane—an exemplar of the having-my-cake-and-eating-it-too school—didn’t help…
But at least the evening featured sock puppets performing their version of the Denzel Washington flick Flight. Enjoy!
Last month, Lawrence Wright published Going Clear, his sprawling history and examination of the Church of Scientology. It’s a massive and thoughtful piece of work that could end up being the go-to work on Scientology for years to come, in the same way that Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven has been for the Mormon religion.
My essay on Wright’s book, “‘Going Clear’: Lawyers, Guns, Money and Scientology,” was published this week at PopMatters. Here’s an excerpt:
[L. Ron] Hubbard gathered followers to his self-improvement cause through the ‘50s and ‘60s, and money poured in. Then came the Sea Organization, or Sea Org. Starting in the late ‘60s, an increasingly disconnected from reality Hubbard became convinced that the British, American, and Soviet governments wanted to harness Scientology’s psychological insights for their own uses. With three ships under the 57-year-old Hubbard’s command, Sea Org cast off in 1967 with “no destination or purpose other than to wander” the high seas, free from government control.
Hubbard roamed the world like some maddened commodore, exciting rumors that he was an operative for the CIA, drinking heavily, fantasizing about taking over Rhodesia, and searching for a lost underwater city that only he knew about. Crewing the ships were a youthful band of believers who had signed contracts pledging themselves to Sea Org “for the next billion years.” (The last is one of many details Wright seeds the book with that beg to be taken as comedy, but ultimately can’t.)…
In addition to the history of Hubbard and the Church’s founding, Wright also digs into its celebrity aspect, particularly via the experience of Paul Haggis, writer/director of everything from Crash to various episodes of The Facts of Life.
You can read an excerpt from Going Clear about Haggis’s experiences here.
- Maker’s Mark: Not going to water it down.
- Ah, we’re outta here.
- If climate catastrophe were sped up, would action follow?
- Suicide rates in the gypsy and traveler communities six times higher than UK average; also, the suicide crisis among the South Korean elderly.
- This week in Pentagon waste: Why choose a ship, build both!
- Winner of the award for most pointless prank ever goes to…
- How a certain breed of Londoner became more American than the Americans.
- House of Cards on Netflix: Why it’s no fun to watch an entire series all at once.
- Funny, yet not: “Don’t shoot, Not Dorner.”
- How the supposedly fair meritocracy leaves people behind.
- So who were the worst CEOs of 2012?
- Sometimes it takes a movie and a professor of neurobiology; Mississippi decides to finally get around to ratifying the 13th Amendment.
- The U.S. remains one of the only countries that still insists on having a right to nuke first.
- “I remember peanut shells on the floor and a projector grinding through 16mm prints of Charlie Chaplin shorts”—Roger Ebert on the best bar in the world.
As one of the longest-surviving comics publishers in the business, DC Comics did so (like everyone else who made it) through a combination of quick turnaround, constant reinvention, and relentlessly squeezing every last penny out of their comics. In one of their less-inspired moves, in the 1950s, DC created a spinoff to their tentpole property Superman that came with the highly prosaic title Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen.
So far, so bad. However, in one of those granular moments of surreality that comes when publishers chase every cultural trend and damn the logic, that series produced one bona fide classic. We give you: 1969′s fabulous freakout Hippie Olsen’s Hate-In!
Firstly, there’s the issue that Jimmy Olsen looks here more like a bearded dandy from the Edwardian era than hippie (details). Then there’s Jimmy’s tendency throughout the entire series to want to kill Superman. Blog into Mystery notes:
…You don’t have to be Freud or Jung or whoever to see that he has some issues with the most important people in his life. He has no problem with dreaming about punching them, tripping them, or KILLING THEM, without a whole lot — let’s be honest – of provocation for any of those deeds.
This strikes me as a problem.
It seems that Superman has always had this problem. Unlike some superheros—Batman, Spider-man—whose enemies have wanted to do away with them for interfering with their dastardly plans, Superman’s very existence appears to be the driving force behind the hatred, from friend and foe. The very indestructibility that makes him so powerful a force for good and (unfortunately) so uninteresting as a character also engender some very mixed feelings in the all-too-weak people (villains and not) who surround him.
Must make for a lonely life.