Tag Archives: avclub

Serious nonsense rituals

In an article about absurd precision in football measurements, this quote grabbed my attention:

like all rituals that make no sense, we take this one extra seriously

Link: Knowing what’s good about your art

An article at AVClub talks about bands that were once good and then not so good, but Buzz Osborne makes a point that I think applies to artists generally:

You don’t have to keep doing [art about teen angst]. You just have to realize that what you were doing was good. I got the feeling that they didn’t think that it was any good. There’s no more of that anymore. Even with Metallica, their albums still sound like there’s some sort of edge to them; it’s not just bad R.E.M. again, you know what I mean? To me, R.E.M. sounds like a metal band compared to where The Replacements ended up. They gutted everything that was good about them.

Take Tom Waits. His newest album is one of his best albums ever. He hasn’t forgotten what was good about him; he’s just improved upon it. You can tell he’s Tom Waits, because it sounds like Tom Waits and everything he ever did. But it’s an improvement, it’s a step forward, and he managed to do that.

That’s up to them to do that. If you want to gut your sound in order to sell millions of records, good luck with that. Hopefully it’ll work out for you and if it doesn’t work out, then that’s the saddest story of all. There’s nothing sadder than a band selling out and having it not work.


Links: Milgram obedience study, Calvin & Hobbes

1. An NPR story about the lasting legacy of the Milgram human-obedience experiments.

2. AVClub visits locations used in “Back to the Future.

3. A map made of one dot per person, color-coded by race, in the U.S.

4. An Atlantic post detailing bias in news reports about the president’s decision on Syria.

5. A Dish post discussing how people felt about their children when infant mortality was greater than now.

6. A Calvin & Hobbes tribute!

Link: Bad movie inspires entertaining review

I laughed at the enumeration of the terrible parts of “Grown Ups 2” (“Growing-Upper”?) in this AVClub.com review:

Grown Ups 2 opens with a CGI deer invading Adam Sandler’s bedroom, standing up on its hind legs, and pissing in his face; it ends with Sandler simultaneously farting, sneezing, and burping while having sex with Salma Hayek. In between, the audience is treated to Nick Swardson shitting in a Kmart and making out with a dog, David Spade sensuously licking a female bodybuilder’s bicep while wearing a John Oates costume, members of The Lonely Island rubbing their asses on the soapy windshield of Kevin James’ car while wearing cheerleading uniforms, and Shaquille O’Neal filling a swimming pool with his urine.

In other words, Grown Ups 2 is a quintessential late-period Sandler movie. Largely free of Sandler’s usual schmaltz and lame romance, it’s pure plotless, grotesque high jinks, bizarre and inept in a way that’s fascinating without ever being all that funny. The humor is largely based on bodily discomfort and shame, with Sandler, Spade, James, and Chris Rock—playing middle-aged men who don’t take their shirts off when they go swimming—offering an endless stream of fat jokes, muscle jokes, short jokes, tall jokes, poop jokes, and bald jokes.

Set over the course of a single day, the movie follows its four leads as they avoid work, their significant others, and their kids while guzzling various sponsored beverages. (In one of the laziest pieces of product placement in recent memory, Sandler wakes up with an unopened can of Pepsi on his nightstand.) Along the way, they run afoul of Milo Ventimiglia’s band of roving frat boys, leading to climactic free-for-all at an ’80s-themed kegger.

Grown Ups 2 marks Sandler’s eighth collaboration with director/yes-man Dennis Dugan, a filmmaker whose style is distinguished by an inability to frame gags and a fondness for Pottery Barn interiors lit with soap-opera flatness. Like the other recent Dugan/Sandler movies—Jack And Jill, Just Go With ItGrown Ups 2 is surreally shoddy: Continuity and technical errors are the norm; the movie’s opening credits roll over mismatched, low-resolution stock footage. Bad prosthetics and make-up abound; there are countless paste-on beards and wrinkly bald caps, and two characters have fake noses that are the wrong skin tone. The crappiness of the filmmaking is so pervasive and compulsive that viewers may suspect that it constitutes some kind of perverse artistic statement—an intentional crass ineptness that’s very much in line with Sandler’s anti-snob worldview.

Links: 5 March 2013

1. R. Crumb background.

2. Ginsberg reads “Howl.”

3. Bukowski: “So you want to be a writer” poem. More Bukowski here.

4. Fractal electricity demo in plywood (video). See fractals as metaphor for writing here.

5. Biological reaction to arguing.

6. Ta-Nehisi Coates makes a point about being alienated from those who protested the Iraq War.

7. Wittgenstein’s reputation and the limits of philosophy.

8. Floor plans of TV show settings. I’m not sure the Simpsons’ house plan is correct — where’s Maggie’s room?

9. A flow chart for winning global-warming arguments.

10. An interesting description of the value of diversity: multiple viewpoints and context:

People often fail to understand the importance of diversity. They assume it’s all about quotas and political correction but it is about so much more. Diversity (and we’re talking race, class, gender, sexuality, political affiliation, religion, all of it) is about putting multiple points of view into a conversation. It’s about ensuring that no one is operating in the kind of cultural vacuum where they don’t stop to consider context. It’s why certain people and shows and publications keep running into the same brick wall of public outcry about diversity—because these people consistently demonstrate a callous and willful ignorance of context. They see these lines that shouldn’t be crossed and cross them anyway because they are blissfully unencumbered by context.

11. Beyond boredom, bliss.

12. Barbarity of early U.S. history.

13. Hobbes challenged religion as well as government.

14. Another take on Kerouac.

15. The value of rereading in later life the books one was assigned to read in high school. I had this experience with “The Great Gatsby”: I did not like how my high school teacher wanted to explicate every symbol — “the green light means money!” — but when I read it in my 30s (after first overcoming the resistance to rereading), I could appreciate the value of the book. It still isn’t my favorite, but at least I gave it a real chance. Now that I’m a high school teacher, I try to show my students why certain works are interesting without also turning them off to same.

16. Watching deleted scenes and how that affects one.

17. The first word-processed book.

18. How “big-data” algorithms will affect commercial art (if not exactly killing creativity, as the article is titled).

19. AVClub staffers pick their favorite poems.

20. Why one person left teaching.

21. Syllabi for classes taught by famous writers.

22. A daughter talks about her father’s (Wolfgang Nehring’s) sudden death and his approach to life.

23. A meta-study on sugar’s role in diabetes.

24. Toddlers are fussy because their brains are growing and they’re trying to live in the world.

25. History of the c-word.

Links: 21 December 2012

It’s the Saturday after finals week, and my brain is in a not-very-creative mode tonight; were I to attempt to write, what would be produced would be mostly stale opinions selected from the closet of ideas I’ve already had (in other words, my brain’s tired-mode seems to prefer just getting by with the familiar rather than being confident enough to be open to the new).

So here are some links and some brief comments — I’d like to say more about some of these ideas, but perhaps that will come later.

1. A comment disparaging those adults who continue to live as prescribed in On the Road. I credit reading that book with giving me a sense of the openness, possibilities, in thinking and living. And yet, I too would agree that this book in itself doesn’t seem as compelling a model for living as it did years ago. Yes, there’s the movie now, and I’m a little intrigued to see the costumes and the dancing, the mise-en-scene, which was maybe the hardest part of the story to imagine, but it’s just hard for me to think of the book as being as meaningful and important as Kristen Stewart seemed to when she was on The Daily Show recently.

2. Via The Dish, experiencing a book.

3. A piece about time.

4. Paul Krugman’s comment about the conventions of pop culture (sitcoms) that we don’t often question. Another point about conventions we may not always be aware of–those of news shows–is made in the current New Yorker:

[The Onion News Network’s] theme seems to be that the objective reporting voice is itself fundamentally insane; not for nothing is its slogan “News Without Mercy.” “Once again, I close this video with nary a quiver of fear in my voice about the uncertainty of the human condition,” one broadcast concludes. “That’s professionalism.”

5. Weird collections — curiosity cabinet.

6. An interesting pop-culture list at the AVClub.

7. NPR story about self-publishing. Story reminded me how much publishing is a business, with the Simon & Schuster employee saying that she was looking for “our advantage” from their new venture, which shouldn’t be a surprise, but money and art seem less and less connected to me. Also, as I was listening to this piece on the way to work, I thought about whether books are even that important of a publishing format. More on this later (when my brain’s less tired).

8. A list of Muppet holiday moments.

9. I have never really understood the attraction of The Lawrence Welk Show, but this piece attempts an explanation.

10. An examination of paperwork.

11. A comment about violence and democracy.

12. Lee Gutkind on narrative non-fic.

13. Rewriting English prose for an American audience.