Archive for October, 2010

It’s Halloween. Ready for Some Scary Stories?

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

So it’s time for the one of my favorite traditions: the annual Fark Scary Stories thread. Here’s this year’s thread, and here are some of the threads from years past:

New Wile E. Coyote Cartoon

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Coyote Falls:

Given how very badly it could have gone (audio very NSFW), they did a remarkable job of capturing the original’s virtues.

Now if we could just get a worthy new Daffy cartoon…

A Brief Disquisition on Sundry Issues Involving Insane Clown Posse

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Since it’s the Halloween season, what better way to celebrate than a look at two (theoretically) scary clowns?

I am not a fan of rap music. Or hip-hop. Or crunk. Or whatever derivative nomenclatures have been attached to that particular style of music and its various spin-offs. Every time I think I hear rap music I like, such as Body Count’s first album, or the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” or Bloodhound Gang’s “Bad Touch,” I am informed by people who actually like rap that it’s not real rap music. All right, then. Carry on.

So I am not the person to offer an aesthetic defense of Insane Clown Posse’s particular “horrorcore” oeuvre. Not my cup of poison, thank you. But I have been amused by some of the cultural issues surrounding ICP, including “Juggalos,” their large and devoted band of followers. Like furries for science fiction or Oakland Raiders fans for football, Juggalos seem to exist for every other clique to look down upon. I also find it interesting that the MSM seem to be attempting to gin up a minor moral panic about two guys who sing in clown makeup and the people that listen to them.

There are many celebrities, musicians, etc., swelled up with a sense of their own self-importance. Thankfully, ICP do not appear to be among them. Take this David Itzkoff New York Times piece on various Insane Clown Posse parodies, and ICP’s reaction to same.

How did ICP feel when Saturday Night Live started doing parodies of them?

In a single word: Delighted.

Shaggy 2 Dope, Insane Clown Posse: How can you be mad at “Saturday Night Live”? That’s what they do. They make parodies. They’re funny. That’s flattering, that you’re a large enough player in the game that “Saturday Night Live” even recognizes you.
Violent J: It felt incredible – like, wow, man, we’re on the radar.

They started out parodying the 2009 “Gathering of the Juggalos” commercial seen below (NSFW language warning applies to this and all the other videos embedded here):

And here’s the SNL parody. (Hulu, so no embedding.)

Next came Internet comedian Scott Gairdner’s “Juggalo News Network” skit:

And then, of course, came “Miracles,” the Little Song That Could…Troll the Entire Internet.

Before that, ICP was most known for songs like this (which is probably not bad of its kind, and would seem to have (dare I say it?) redeeming social qualities):

Or this, which isn’t, and doesn’t:

Yes, I can certainly see why they might have opted for a more subtle approach. In this interview for the Onion A/V Club, they noted:

It just looks a lot better in your head than it does to actually see us cutting somebody’s head off or something. That’s our opinion. We did a video for the song “Bowling Balls,” and the video was like a 15-minute horror movie in 3D. It comes with the album Hell’s Pit. When we did that video, we weren’t totally happy with the outcome, because it was all bloody, and it just didn’t look cool. Like I said, it’s much better when you’re imagining it all than to actually see us as villains killing the people. It just didn’t work for us.

And thus have ICP rediscovered H. P. Lovecraft’s power of the unseen over the explicated. A segment of the video in question:

Yeah, more subtle and less shown is probably the right direction for them in the genre of horror videos.

“Miracles,” by contrast, not only aired their mystification with magnets, it displayed a softer, non-horror side of ICP that most non-Juggalos never even suspected.

A few observations:

  1. Not my cup of tea, but I actually hate “Miracles” much less than the average rap song.

  2. It’s obvious, even in context, that the word “miracle” is used metaphorically rather than the literal meaning of an unexplained phenomena of divine will.
  3. After an entire career spent talking about hell and serial killers (not that there’s anything wrong with that), the video that people actually condemn is the one expressing wonder at the myriad splendor of creation.

Or, as Shaggy 2 Dope put it:

If Celine Dion would have come out with that song, people would have been, like, “Oh, that’s a beautiful song.” But because it’s coming out of our mouths, all of a sudden, we’re retards.

Actually, if Celine Dion did it, we’d probably make fun of it in an entirely different way. But the point stands.

And speaking of “Miracles,” there’s this:

Violent J: To me, I’d rather be the dumbed-down guy appreciating everything than the guy who knows everything and doesn’t appreciate [anything].

Lisa Simpson made a chart to explain these sentiments:

Naturally, “Miracles” spawned its own SNL parody.

To me, however, the most interesting part of the AV Club interview was ICP talking about how Nightline had lied about them, distorted their words, and taken things out of context in an attempt to generate some sort of moral panic:

You know, I’m a huge Michael Jackson fan. Me and Shaggy both are. So, we knew who [Martin Bashir] was, and we also knew what he was going to do. They had their minds set on the story they were going to make before we even did the interview. It really didn’t even matter what we said. The whole reason they even did an interview with us was looking for lines or something to come out of our mouth that we can say to further make their point. We might have sat down for that hour, and we might have actually changed Martin Bashir’s opinion of us, but he wasn’t going to let that show. They knew the picture they were painting before we even fucking did that interview. They knew exactly what they were going for. The one thing that really hurt me is that they said we make $10 million a year. I don’t know anybody that wouldn’t do what we do for $10 million a year.

If we made $10 million a year, who the fuck wouldn’t do what we do? If people knew how little money we actually make, I think it makes us more impressive. It shows the Juggalos that we’re that much more dedicated to what we do, because there aren’t millions floating around here at all. When we go on a tour, our goal is to break even. That’s a whole other subject, I know, but that’s what really bothered me about Martin Bashir, because they asked me what we made. They asked us, and we told them. But that’s what they said, $10 million a year. Well, what the fuck they ask us for? Part of it’s cool, people thinking you make that much money. Part of that’s cool, I guess. But at the same time, who wouldn’t be a wicked clown for $10 million a year?

They took what we said, and they turned the interview to make it to their point. But we filmed the interview as well, and we posted the whole thing up on our website. It’s still out there on YouTube or whatever, but you could see the whole interview, unedited. We talked about everything. We talked about the Joker Cards. They talked about crime happening and about how some Juggalos have committed these crimes. We made the point that millions of people bought our albums, and out of millions of people, there is going to be some bad apples. I’m sure Barbra Streisand fans have committed crimes as well….

Things like that we talked about, and he just kept rephrasing the same questions. They were going for what they needed. They needed some blue in their picture, and they needed some green. No matter what we said, they were going to get what they needed to paint that picture.

AVC: How did you feel about Martin Bashir’s treatment of Michael Jackson?

VJ: Man, it was insane. It murdered him. It killed him. He never recovered from that. The Martin Bashir documentary is what spawned the second set of charges. He was fucking innocent in an American court of law! He was innocent by all counts. Michael Jackson is a lot of things, know what I’m saying? A lot of things, but he’s not a pedophile. I believe, believe it or not, in the American judicial system, if that’s what it’s called. In other words, I believe in the courts, when they get a long, drawn-out trial like that, they get to the nitty-gritty of things. I read enough books on it.

I’m a huge Michael Jackson fan, as I said. I just believe there was a lot wrong in the man, but he wasn’t a pedophile. He never recovered from that. That documentary was so damaging to him, and that spawned the second set of charges. And even though he defeated the charges, it was too much for him. When he tried to make a comeback, he died in the process. It was Martin Bashir’s documentary that eventually killed Michael Jackson. I believe that. I honestly believe that. He let him into his life for six months. Martin Bashir is your typical fucking snaky guy that’s gonna shake your hand, laugh at your jokes, and all that shit, and make you think he’s cool with you, and then do whatever’s gonna get him up the ladder.

AVC: How did you feel about Martin Bashir’s treatment of Michael Jackson?

VJ: Man, it was insane. It murdered him. It killed him. He never recovered from that. The Martin Bashir documentary is what spawned the second set of charges. He was fucking innocent in an American court of law! He was innocent by all counts. Michael Jackson is a lot of things, know what I’m saying? A lot of things, but he’s not a pedophile. I believe, believe it or not, in the American judicial system, if that’s what it’s called. In other words, I believe in the courts, when they get a long, drawn-out trial like that, they get to the nitty-gritty of things. I read enough books on it.

I’m a huge Michael Jackson fan, as I said. I just believe there was a lot wrong in the man, but he wasn’t a pedophile. He never recovered from that. That documentary was so damaging to him, and that spawned the second set of charges. And even though he defeated the charges, it was too much for him. When he tried to make a comeback, he died in the process. It was Martin Bashir’s documentary that eventually killed Michael Jackson. I believe that. I honestly believe that. He let him into his life for six months. Martin Bashir is your typical fucking snaky guy that’s gonna shake your hand, laugh at your jokes, and all that shit, and make you think he’s cool with you, and then do whatever’s gonna get him up the ladder.

AVC: What Bashir was saying about the Insane Clown Posse and the effect its music has on its fans reminded me a lot like the mid-’50s, when busybodies were saying that Elvis Presley was going to destroy society, and his fans were hoodlums. That’s something you see over and over again in pop music.

VJ: It’s the oldest argument in the world. It’s the fucking oldest argument in the world. Does rock ’n’ roll corrupt the young? It’s ridiculous! It’s the oldest fucking argument in the world. It’s been rehashed. New names, same fucking thing. It’s the oldest shit in the world. That was a stretch for Nightline. They got a lot of old people watching it, old people stuck in old ways. I’m sure they ate that shit up and loved it. I don’t think it’s young America watching Nightline like that. Know what I mean? I don’t know. Maybe it is. It was stupid for even them to say, and that’s why they kept hammering.

To be honest with you, at one point—and this is what’s insane—they took my response to one question and edited it so I looked like I was responding to another question. And what’s scary to me is that this is Nightline. This is a respected piece of American journalism, and they were full of shit. That just makes me think, 90 percent of what I watch is full of shit. I couldn’t believe what they did with us, with the $10 million thing. He was so clever, the way he was saying, “No, no, no, Violent. I never said that, Violent.” It’s so clever what he’s doing—it was so clever!

Then they had me sitting on the edge of my chair to make it look like I was getting mad. In reality, that was my response to another question. It was just so clever the way they did that. I said this before, and I don’t want to say something that I said before, but this is the best way I can explain it: It reminded me when I was a kid, and I had a schoolteacher saying that I said something I didn’t. Of course, everybody’s gonna believe the schoolteacher, but I never said it. She said I called some kid a name, a swear word, and I didn’t do that. I didn’t call that kid a name. When that lady lied on me, or she was misunderstood or whatever, I was scared of that lady, man. I was like, “Damn, here’s this lady who has power. She’s my teacher. And she’s telling a fucking lie that made me fear that lady.” Well, that’s how I felt when Nightline said we made $10 million a year, and bringing up those criminal charges that Juggalos have had. It was like somebody with power abusing it. It was scary to me. I watched it one time, and I never watched it again. And I didn’t even want to watch it when I watched it, because I knew what it was going to be. It’s scary to me to see somebody that’s that trusted pulling shenanigans like that. It’s just fucking crazy to me.

I’m afraid that ICP’s charges ring true to me, since what they describe seems to be fairly common operating procedures for much of the news media in the 21st century.

I’ve long been undecided over the Michael Jackson pedophilia allegations. On the one hand, he was a pretty strange, oddly damaged individual. On the other hand, rich celebrities attract far more than their fair share of crooks, parasites and hustlers, and the evidence presented amounted to far less than conclusive proof in a court of law. But in light of this interview, and the fact that members of MSM news shows have lied to get ratings before, I must admit that I am now inclined to give the late Mr. Jackson more benefit of the doubt than before.

When it comes right down to it, I’m more inclined to believe two rappers in clown makeup with fans that hurl projectiles and off-brand soda at performers over the producer of a major TV news show. How’s that for a Halloween horror?

My DVD Player is POSSESSED BY SATAN!

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

I woke up around 4 AM this morning to the sound of Tracey Chapman’s “Change” playing in the next room. It turns out the DVD player turned itself on, and since that’s the song HBO uses on the ad at the beginning of Disc One of Season 3 of The Wire that was in the player, that’s what I heard.

As for why my DVD player came on, since it’s the Halloween season, I believe it’s one of the following three explanations:

  1. My DVD player is possessed by the Devil himself, AKA Lucifer, the Great Beast, the Princes of Lies, the Angel of the Abyss, Leviathan the fleeing serpent, the one and only Satan, Prince of Darkness.

  2. A poltergeist turned it on.
  3. The power went off, and the DVD player was on “soft” power off, i.e. through the remote, and not with the power button on the player itself in the off position, and when the power came on it started playing automatically. This would also explain why the clock on my microwave had been reset and the light on my garage door opener was on.

Naturally, I’m going to go with the Satan explanation due to sheer preponderance of scientific plausibility. I mean really, who else would want to wake me from a sound sleep but Satan? (And of course I have to assume he reset the microwave and garage door light as well. Why else would he be known as the Great Deceiver? Got to watch him all the time…)

Miami Heat on Track for Perfect Season

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

A perfect 0-82 season, that is.

I’m sure the Las Vegas odds against that are astronomical (after all, they do get to play the Nets), but it does go to show that maybe all this presumptive talk of an inevitable Heat dynasty was perhaps a wee tad premature.

(The Rockets also lost as well, but a 2-point loss to the defending World Champions on their own court the same night they raise their championship banner to the rafters is nothing to worry overmuch about.)

Three Bold Predictions About the NBA Season

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

You might not have noticed, but the NBA Regular Season starts tonight. And what’s the use of having a blog if you can’t post foolhardy bold predictions?

So here are three bold predictions for the coming season:

  1. The Rockets will reach the playoffs.

  2. If Yao Ming stays healthy, the Rockets will reach the Western Conference Finals.
  3. Either way, the Lakers will not repeat as Western Conference Champions. I think this is the year when Kobe Bryant finally starts to show too much wear on the tires. Even if the Rockets fall short, I expect Oklahoma City or Portland to edge the Lakers.

Anyone else care to chime in with their own predictions?

Playboy Playmate, Star Trek Actress Charged With Murder

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Dwight mentioned this but didn’t blog about it: Former 1968 Palyboy Playmate of the Year Angela Dorian (AKA Victoria Rathgeb, AKA Victoria Vetri) has been charged with attempted murder for shooting her boyfriend during an argument.

What he didn’t mention was that she also appeared on an episode of Star Trek, among other shows. (She even appeared in Rosemary’s Baby.)

Hat tip: Ace of Spades‘s newsfeed.

WisCon Disinvites Elizabeth Moon

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

I try to avoid political topics in this blog (and Facebook, for that matter), because, as someone once pointed out, “Telling someone their political ideas are wrong is like telling a 14-year old girl that the boy band she like sucks. She won’t believe you and she’ll instantly hate you for your efforts.”

But since WisCon’s cowardly decision to disinvite Elizabeth Moon as Guest of Honor over her very mild comments about Islam is so essentially a political story, I covered it over on my political blog BattleSwarm.

I also have some signed Elizabeth Moon books for sale through Lame Excuse Books is you’re interested.

Fascinating Interview With Ex-Apple CEO John Sculley on Steve Jobs

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

I know it’s already been linked from Slashdot, but this interview with former Apple CEO John Sculley over on Cult of Mac is fascinating reading. It talks about Steve Jobs design-centric perspective, and how it’s lead to every important Apple product. Required reading for anyone interested in high tech, design, or business.

When I Think NASCAR, “Terry Gilliam” is the First Name That Comes to Mind

Monday, October 18th, 2010

If you haven’t heard, Terry Gilliam is making a NASCAR-themed short film that will premiere on Halloween and then be available free online. Sounds like a ghost story/Sleepy Hollow sort of thing.

A few random observations:

  • I’ll watch it.

  • While I’m firmly in the “I’m not watching a bunch of guys turn left for two hours” camp, I have no particular antipathy to the sport.
  • I’m still amused by this Fark headline: “New Dale Earnhardt documentary to be in theaters next year. Don’t mean to spoil it for you, but it goes left turn, left turn, left turn, right turn, death”
  • This Tom Wolfe piece on the origins of NASCAR in the bootlegging industry of Appalachia is a great piece of writing.
  • Maybe Gilliam is a big NASCAR fan, though I dare say you would be hard-pressed to glean it from his films.
  • I’m glad he’s getting work.
  • I have a sinking suspicion that we’re going to see a lot more movies made this way: As promotional loss-leaders for products. (“The Googleing: An M. Night Shyamalan Film”)