Thursday, April 24, 2014

12 Political Notes (Seavey/Perry video on ScarJo!)

1. Is the West so much better than Russia? Mark Steyn thinks free speech is dwindling here, too.

2. I’ve had the author of a book about Ukraine complain to me that Ron and Rand Paul don’t seem to be onboard with Western military intervention over there, but -- much as I dislike Putin -- I honestly have a hard time seeing how Eastern-Ukrainian governance founded on a Russia-influenced referendum is so much worse than Western-Ukrainian governance founded on a Western-backed, EU-encouraged coup that it warrants us ending up in World War III.

3. Regardless, I admire this Ukrainian parkour dog (h/t Franc Pohole).

4. The dog’s skills are not so unlike those of Batroc the Leaper, one of the villains in the new Captain America movie.  And I just learned that someone I knew in college writes for the show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. -- maybe she should reuse Batroc in that series.  And was Hydra haphazardly controlling the weather for the past few weeks, by the way?

5. That question is not addressed in this (short) new YouTube video of Gerard Perry and me discussing three new things with Scarlett Johansson in them: the aforementioned Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the eerie indie sci-fi film Under the Skin (in which ScarJo is at long last completely naked), and...

6. ...the trailer for her upcoming superhero-ish action film Lucy.  Is there anything ScarJo can't do?  And she was already the voice of an A.I. program last year in Her (a much better film than Transcendence, with Johnny Depp as a less friendly A.I. program).

8. Maybe the closest thing in the real world lately to a villainous organization as destructive as Hydra is those anti-technology, anti-prosperity, anti-Google protesters out in San Francisco lately, one of whom has even vowed “gun down six of us” and more will rise to take their place (h/t Virginia Postrel).  Hail Hydra!  Chop off one head, two shall take its place!  #OccupySHIELD!

9. Muppet liberation is at hand, at least: Kermit is Morpheus to Fozzie’s Neo in this disturbing, ad libbed outtake from the production of one of my favorite films, The Muppet Movie (h/t Alicina Memar and Perry Metzger).

10. That actual communist they keep putting on The Independents was of course, like many of his leftist brethren, recently praising Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, but this piece does a nice job of taking it down a notch (h/t David Friedman -- but not that David Friedman).

11. Would that more leftists spent time worrying, as Scott Kaufman does in this Raw Story piece, about things like the FDA hiking beer prices.

12. Econ isn’t all about stats, but stats can be a helpful reality check: Despite me constantly feeling I’ve neglected my blog, the numbers say I’ve apparently posted roughly 2 days out of 3 since late 2006(!). 

But as I keep promising, it probably is time to mostly-exit the Web (including about four anarcho-capitalist Facebook pages I love dearly but have lost too much time to) and attend to other things (for now).  This video critique may even give us a new reason to be wary of Facebook. 

And what fresh hell is this wherein many popular publications’ links don’t work if you click on them on someone’s personal Facebook page but do if you click on them in your newsfeed?  You know what, for once, instead of worrying about it, I’m gonna do the efficient thing and give up so I can attend to more important projects.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Culture Dumb Enough to Believe in Heaven Is for Real

A little boy is raised by a preacher and by hardcore Christians, nearly goes brain dead, wakes up and says he saw Heaven.
His lying family claim with straight faces that they have no idea where he could have gotten such notions -- surely not from them -- so it must all be real, and the resulting book is on the bestseller list forever, and the film drama version is poised on the box office charts now just behind a movie about talking animals and just above a bombing film about Johnny Depp being the Singularity.
It's a perfect weekend for religious believers to be deeply ashamed of themselves and the culture they've helped create.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

3 Traditional-Yet-New Music Links

Is it jazz?  Rock?  Old-school Catholicism? It’s a description of the old yet oddly familiar-sounding film It’s Trad, Dad!

And more of the smooth sound of Puddles.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Seavey ONSTAGE! More Seavey/Perry! Malice! Ubu! Jews!

You have a busy couple of weeks of culture ahead of you, here presented in chronological order.

TONIGHT: Michael Malice talks about his book Dear Reader at Housing Works.

FRIDAY: Yours truly, Todd Seavey, will appear onstage as part of a big comedy/politics panel featuring the likes of the chairman of the Free Silver Party and an actual Marvel Comics editor (not that Marvel can be blamed for Tom Brennan’s actions). I will strive not merely to be as funny as the other panelists but as funny as that guy who’s replacing my childhood hero David Letterman. You can RSVP to the so-called Electoral Dysfunction panel on Facebook -- or just risk showing up at 9:30pm on April 18 at Peoples Improv, 123 East 24th St..

•It’s hard to be funnier than the stuff the politics-media establishment expects us to take seriously, though, like that badly-photoshopped profile of White House propagandist Jay Carney, dissected here.

•Meanwhile, the commoners seem to do a good job of keeping their senses of humor and maintaining perspective even amidst conflict.

•But hey, this article has already identified all the funniest people on Twitter, so there’s no need to think about it any further:

ALL THIS WEEK: For Passover, here are a few non-funny items on people who make life difficult for the Jews (besides this weekend's horrible Kansas shooter, who reportedly shouted “Heil Hitler” during his killing spree):

•HITLER himself proudly declared himself a socialist and an inheritor of Marx (all genocide advocates had been socialists).

•BRANDEIS UNIVERSITY might not like to hear it, but nowadays Ayaan Hirsi Ali sees a censorious left enabling the most oppressive form of Islam.

•THE U.S. GOVERNMENT is actually more pro-Palestinian than the Palestinians sometimes.

THROUGH APRIL 26th: I cannot strongly enough urge fans of absurdism and alternative rock to see the two fuse beautifully in the form of the play Ubu Sings Ubu at Abrons Art Center, where Verse Theater Manhattan has taken the founding absurdist play, Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi from 1896, and inserted songs by the band Pere Ubu, performed by an impressive backing band and actors bearing more than a passing resemblance to the Pixies and X lead singers, adding additional layers of visceral decadence to the evening.

And it’s anti-state as all get out -- you can sense in the prescient play (about a deranged and clown-like European conqueror) that death was in the air for taking monarchy and war seriously -- though not soon enough to prevent millions of people dying as well.

AND ONLINE FOREVER: The latest Seavey/Perry video, in which Gerard and I discuss UFOs and the supernatural on the occasion of the release of the documentary Mirage Men about how a man claiming to be an agent of the government fed a UFO believer just enough hints of an alien cover-up to drive the man insane.

Whether it’s odd readings on the radar or that trail-cam footage a few days ago of something appearing to hover and shine bright light upon a couple deer, these sorts of phenomena always seem to happen on the fringes of consciousness and detection -- probably a sign there’s nothing there, though we can still learn some interesting things from such cases about perception itself (perhaps chiefly that our brains are prone to look for other brains as the explanation behind everything, which may explain beliefs ranging from animism to God to Bigfoot).

Then again, there are some very detailed UFO reports from credible people like former astronaut Gordon Cooper, who can also (really) be heard at the end of this classic Letterman routine telling Larry “Bud” Melman to keep up the good work. I hope Dave himself has received plenty of such calls upon news of his own retirement. And if there is anything to the reports made by people like Cooper, here’s hoping they stop surrendering their footage to higher-ups from the Air Force, jostling the camera at a key moment, or larding their stories with New Age mystical insights gleaned from their subsequent hypnosis sessions. Until then, I suppose we have things to do down here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

14 Film Links (Seavey on Stag Blog, more Seavey/Perry on YouTube)

Many X-Men links -- such as a major prediction from me over at Stag Blog -- and unrelated video of things like dozens of black teens attacking a family’s car.

1. Although the star of the politics-parodying film Who’s Nailin’ Paylin? is reportedly the most popular porn actress in America now -- suggesting some sort of attraction, however perverse, to conservative cultural figures -- the hipsters continue to prefer the likes of the late folk singer Pete Seeger. 

Watch Gerard Perry and me discuss him, Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel, and the amazing-and-hilarious documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune in the latest video on our humble YouTube channel.

2., 3. And do click here on our test video about RoboCop and our recent look at 300: Rise of an Empire if you haven’t already. (We’ll soon try more frequent, shorter ones.)

4. We haven’t watched or reviewed this documentary about Bryan Talbot, my favorite combo comics writer-artist, but I’m pleased this trailer makes him look like a visionary.

5. On a more mainstream comics note, this second full trailer for X-Men: Days of Future Past is a big improvement, and now I’m optimistic (and the shorter TV-ad version is cool too).

6. But if you want to know why X-Men: Days of Future Past will probably erase almost everything you know about the cinematic X-Men, you have to read my guest blog entry about it over at Stag Blog’s traditional “Apocalypse Tueday” spot.

Some additional thoughts about X-Men continuity:

•Azazel was the one truly bloodthirsty character in X-Men: First Class (the red, demon-like teleporter) -- and in the comics he went on to father Nightcrawler via Mystique. That may still prove to be the case in the movies, but apparently he’s supposed to have been bumped off at some point between the early 60s and the upcoming film’s early-70s setting, at least according to the amusing JFK-assassination-themed official site for the film.

One possible lesson to take from Azazel’s sudden demise: even if you’re a demon-mutant, be careful about messing with the CIA.

•Despite some people thinking it was an inconsistency, the mild-seeming Stryker in First Class is simply meant to be the father of the more evil Stryker seen in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and X-Men 2: X-Men United, so that’s not a contradiction (he even refers in First Class to his “son William”).

•Xavier’s girlfriend Moira MacTaggert, though, absent evidence to the contrary, must be a very well-preserved seventy-something in X-Men 3.

•I’m excited that the reported 1980s setting of the 2016 film X-Men: Apocalypse opens the possibility of them using Disco Dazzler and that using the Egyptian villain Apocalypse increases the odds of them depicting a teenage Storm (she was a thief in Cairo -- though born of an American and a Kenyan, if you can imagine such a thing) as well as the mutant-filled African island nation of Genosha.  Maybe this should be the film where this franchise finally goes all-out with the colorful, fully comic-book-like costumes for a change.

•Then the question becomes when the subsequent third Wolverine movie (scheduled for 2017) takes place -- and whether it will retain any mention of the prior two Wolverine solo films if the whole timeline’s been rebooted, as I predict on Stag Blog. After Wolverine 3, they say, comes X-Force, which could thus easily be set anytime from the 90s to the near future. We shall see.

•And speaking of evolution, those truly in the know will understand why I think this bit of real-life genetic news is positively, uh, sublime.

7. While you’re waiting for the next four X-Men movies, here’s Hugh Jackman (h/t Mediaite) performing the two-minute Wolverine: The Musical.

8. Even better (and funnier): a faux-Jewel singing “A Song for Wolverine” from the late, lamented

9. I’m less entertained by this Carls Jr. ad with Quicksilver in it. It looks like there is no worry at all on Fox’s part about clashing with the Avengers films’

Musically Humbled by Hamburgers

As if the Go Burger restaurant near me weren't freakin' delicious enough, the embarrassing, super-unhip truth is that I know of no other venue, radio station, TV channel, website, or Pandora option that does a better job than the haunting, mocking, amazing alternative rock music selection in that place of conjuring up things both new and old that I love and have never heard before.  

I've actually asked staff there more than once to tell me where on earth the music they play comes from -- what wondrous other world or hip female bartender -- and yet they can only tell me vaguely that it's piped in by a mysterious home office elsewhere in the country over which they have no control.  I am strongly tempted to try e-mailing corporate HQ.  

So today I ate a hamburger and, sure enough, heard this for the first time (“Talk to Me” by the 22-20s -- and its lyrics are just traditional enough that finding this took no small amount of Googling, I must say), but there's at least one song this good I discover every time I go in there -- and this happens nowhere else.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Pajamas...on Me...on LiberyIsland

It’s part of their series about contributors to the exciting new libertarian pop culture site LibertyIsland, chock full of fiction and other creativity from an array of talented anti-statists.

Check out the LibertyIsland launch press release here.

Even better, you can create a user profile on the site and contribute to LibertyIsland yourself. It’s a hub aborning.

And it already has its left-wing haters.

But surely no one can hate my initial contribution to LibertyIsland, a time travel story about punks and Reagan called “No Future.”

And be sure to join me tomorrow for still more time travel, when I discuss time travel’s profound effects on the X-Men in a Tuesday guest post over at The Stag Blog