Monthly Archives: May 2010

Feist-Fest

Today’s great thing is a bit of a letter of encouragement to one of my favorite musicians who is on a sort of semi-hiatus right now.  Well, she’s still doing stuff…but you know…not the stuff that I, as her fan, want her to do.  Hmmm…maybe that’s part of the problem.  The adoration of fans isn’t without its exhausting demands and from what I’ve read, that’s sort of why she’s cooling her heels for a while.

133.  Feist

Not that I have an inside track or anything, but what I’ve been led to believe in a few press snippets is that Leslie Feist, Canadian (though I think that we Americans can claim a fraction as she has duel-citizenship thanks to bi-national parentage) chanteuse,  has put her solo musical career on hold because her recent mega-success kind of knocked her socks right off.  Having built up a career teeming with indie credibility–being part of the Canadian music collective Broken Social Scene, touring with electro-sex-bot Peaches (even appearing in her video for “Lovertits”), and collaborating with Brooklyn band Grizzly Bear,  probably led her to some personal artistic fulfillment but also protected her from the rabid and frothy masses and the demands of the mainstream press.

Walk on, superfan.

Her second solo album received a bit of attention with the Postal Service’s remix of her catchy single “Mushaboom”.  Mushaboom, btw, is a rural community in Nova Scotia.  A little, gentle taste of mainstream(ish) success was the reward.  Then, in late 2007/early 2008, things sort of exploded for Feist.  She was covered in the media extensively due to the iTunes-assisted smash “1234”.  Though, to be accurate, that song is her highest ranking single in The States and it ONLY got as high as number 8 on the charts…hardly a Whitney Houston-challenging record.  However, her general media presence was all of a sudden multiplied by ten.  It didn’t hurt that her videos are eminently watchable.  Here’s one now:

Then, add her adorable appearance on Sesame Street to the bubbling pot of publicity:

Just try to imagine how many young hipster parents ran out and bought the CD after that uber-adorable performance.

Then, of course, there was her brilliant contribution to A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All (available on DVD AND on iTunes) and you’ve pretty much got yourself a fan-frenzy.

The problem, of course, is that Feist has such a wide appeal because she is so likeable and unique.  We, (meaning people with working ears), require more of Feist because even the most top-40-hardened radio listener can appreciate the hard-to-categorize catchiness of her music.  It’s at once instantly hummable and refreshingly different.  Plus, she plays guitar real good!  Here’s some Feist footage from a live performance:

I was lucky enough to catch Feist on tour when she passed through Manchester a couple of years ago.  It was one of the top 5 concerts I’ve been to.  She had the perfect blend of musical chops/original material/and stage banter to make everyone there feel like they were lucky to be in the room.  Feist had a sort of grade-school projector art display to accompany her music at the gig and we had terrible Alpine-height  seats…could barely see the visuals that were being broadcast behind the band.  But, what was sort of cool was that she acknowledged that she’d taken a hike up to the highest seat earlier that day and saw for herself that visibility was limited.  All it took was her cracking a few jokes about it to make us feel better in the nose-bleeds.

You see, her worries aren’t completely unmerited.  She is dangerously obsession worthy.

Though everything about you tempts us, Leslie Feist, I promise from a fan’s perspective that we will not be overly obsessive or harass you in an oppressive or stalkerish way.  Perhaps that would take some of the pressure of working in the music industry off your shoulders.

I'll blow dry your pretty hair for you, Feist! I mean...keep a healthy and respectful distance from you.

I know the music industry must be tough…I mean, I can barely stay awake at my day job after doing a stand-up gig at night and I’m not touring or shooting music videos. Don’t get me wrong,  I like your recent collaborations…but I also LOVE your original material.  Please make more. We need you back Leslie Feist.  I think it’s been long enough.  Please go back to work.  Drop that next record.

Until then, I’ll just keep on checking up on your homepage, like a saddo: Feist

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Our President Could Beat Up Your President.

I can’t believe this weekend is almost over.  For serials, peeps.  It feels like last week was a week full of Mondays and that Saturday just whizzed right by.  I didn’t even feel it happen!  I think some levity and brevity is just what the doctor ordered.  So, let’s watch a funny cartoon, shall we?  It’s today’s great thing:

132.  Brad Neely’s George Washington Short

Now, what I’m about to show you actually doesn’t belong to Brad Neely anymore.  Apparently, he lost ownership of it.  He unknowingly sold the rights (for two hundred and fifty bucks) to Cox & Combes who were sponsors of a film festival it was entered in.  Some ‘fine print’ type misunderstanding.  Kinda sucks.  But, it’s still funny!  The video is  heavy on the hyperbolic patriotism and is mostly comprised of unsubstantiated claims…but similarities to Sarah Palin end there.  This is actually funny on purpose.  I love, love, love it.

I think my favorite illustration is the still of him throwing a buffalo.  Also, is it just me or do the vocals kind of sound like the lead singer from “Cake”.  You know, Washington is “Going The Distance” and all that.

Brad Neely

Though he’s been working on his comedy output for a while, Brad Neely is brand new to me.  Don’t you just love a discovery that’s already established?  It just means that I’ll have a bigger archive of material to distract myself at work with over the next couple of weeks.  Sorry clients.  You’ll be able to find me here:

Creased Comics

https://i1.wp.com/www.creasedcomics.com/archive/famouswerewolves.jpg

From Creased Comics

Reading up a bit on Brad Neely, I also discovered this ‘wish I had been there’ event:

Yet another reason to miss NYC

Yes, that’s right…he hosted a screening where he read his alternate script for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone over the actual film.  Naturally, Warner Bros. put an end to that fun pretty swiftly.  But, you can still download an Mp3 of his performance and host your own screening…which I plan on doing shortly.  Here’s the link for you, dear reader:  illegal-art.org

Karey, if you’re reading this, I’m inviting people over soon.  The guest list will likely be my nerdier friends as it is only nerdy hipsters that will truly appreciate the content.  (I always have to warn her when I’m planning anything social as she is primarily an ornery hermit.)

Further discussion of funny people talking over film soundtracks to be featured in upcoming MST3K and Kung Pow:  Enter the Fist blogs that I swear I will get around to someday.

Most of all, Brad Neely is now another addition to my list of people that I wish I could hang out with.  I mean, read this portion of  The Onion’s AV Club interview:

D: But as a kid, you’ve got to love the Ewoks.
BN: [The filmmakers] knew what they were doing. I slept on a bed of Ewoks when I was a kid. I would take a pillowcase and cut a hole out and wear it, and be an Ewok. I didn’t give a crap if Leia was going to have sex with Han Solo in the forest. I wanted to see that fucking teddy bear eat corn out of her hat.

Don’t you want to go to the movies with him?

You know how there’s that standard ‘get to know you’ type question of, ‘who would you invite to a dinner party if you could invite anyone in the world’?  That’s always been a difficult question to answer because I think that there’s a lot of cool people around.  So, I’m going to cheat a bit and narrow it down into categories.  Therefore, my answer to the question of ‘which three web-based humorists would you invite around for dinner’ would now be:   Brad Neely, Christian Lander (the author of Stuff White People Like), and Natalie Dee.  I’d serve tacos, sangria, and some sort of fruit pie.

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Slow Cookers

I used to love pranking people.  Small, little, all-of-a-sudden pranks.  I don’t mastermind anything too elaborate.  I’ve never had the foresight to plan something that takes a lot of brain-power, cooperation, or good-timing.  I’m not George Clooney on the set of Ocean’s Eleven.  I basically enjoy gently fucking with people and/or scaring them suddenly.  Perfect example, when I was on the newspaper staff at my highschool, I used to like to hide in dark corners of the shut-down (except for Villa Notes editorial staff) building and jump out at other newsies when they were coming out of the copy room.  One time, I scared a girl so bad that she cried.  Sorry, Amy Gray.  I was only funnin’.

Maybe I’m not so much a prankster as I am an asshole.

Anyway, the instant gratification of terrifying someone I love is now easier than ever with the power of the Internet!  You see, my girlfriend has an irrational hatred and fear of sloths, whereas I have an irrational fascination with them that borders on adoration.  (They always look so smiley!)  So, what I sometimes like to do is send her photos of sloths within emails under a false subject header.  Typically, I’ll go with something that I KNOW she’ll open like ‘funny kittens!’ or ‘new Indigo Girls album!’  and then when she clicks open, a pic like this will be there:

https://i1.wp.com/www.illogicopedia.org/images/e/e6/Sloth.jpg

My head is sooooooo round.

Get it?  I’m exploiting her fears!  This usually results in an immediate phone call from her where I’m told that I’m awful and questioned about how I could possibly think sloths are cute and not horrible and don’t I see that there’s something not right with them?  That’s the crux of it, really.  Karey thinks something isn’t ‘right’ with them.  To her, they are the animal equivalent of that cross-eyed banjo playing kid in Deliverance. She thinks they have ‘spooky wee faces’ and that they could slash you up real good with their long claws if given the opportunity to get within striking distance.  When I’ve reassured her that they live mostly in trees and are, in fact, the slowest land animal AND quite docile, she still insists that they could drop out of a tree onto your head and kill you, like some vicious, long-nailed fancy fur hat.  She feels that way even after I send her pictures that are THIS adorable:

https://i1.wp.com/blog.bekahbrunstetter.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/sloth.jpg

Want one.

The way she feels about sloths is captured perfectly by this classic Natalie Dee cartoon.  I swear, the similarity of her nightmarish scenario of  sloth-death-from-above and this toon are purely coincidental.  Perhaps this indicates that more people than you’d think are crazy afraid of sloths.  It is titled ‘Attack Sloth’:

https://i0.wp.com/www.nataliedee.com/060807/attack-sloth.jpg

Adorable.

But I think sloths are awesome.  That’s why they are today’s great thing:

131.  Sloths

I like ’em two-toed AND three-toed.  There are actually six varieties of sloth (four three-toed and two two-toed) and they all live within the rainforests of Central and South America.  Luckies!!!  Interestingly, sloth fur grows in the opposite direction of other mammals.    (Hair typically grows towards extremities).  It’s theorized that the reversal is due to the amount of time that the animals spend hanging upside-down.  Theyachieve naturally the back-combed look that Russell Brand can only dream of.  The fur also hosts cyanobacteria which is symbiotic as it gives the animal the gift ofcamouflage.  Its fur is also a microcosm of non-parasitic insects.  Again, similar to Russell Brand’s!

Recent scientific findings have uncovered some new and unusual behavior in the two-toed variety.  Apparently, two-toed sloths have been seen descending from their trees to eat poop out of latrines.  I have to admit, that is pretty vile.  There are several theories for this behaviour, including one that posits that they’re only eating the poop for the bugs that flock to it.  Still, that’s gross, sloths.  But, before you judge too harshly, you know your dog would eat your poop if given half a chance.  It would gobble up your poop and then lick your face and you would still love it–your dog, that is.    Plus, who can resist a bowl full of human poop?  We eat such delicious things.  Where else, in the fricking jungle, is a sloth going to get its little hands on Dorito fragments and empanadas if not our waste?  Anyway, the reason that this is so unusual is that a typical sloth diet is almost exclusively leaves–specifically leaves attached to the tree that the sloth itself is attached to.  On rare occasions, they will supplement their diets with bugs, small birds, or reptiles.  Poop is a new thing.

Their giant Krueger-esque claws are their only defense and the only time they typically need that defense is on a rare journey to the forest floor for a poop.  Sorry to keep talking about poop in this post (no I’m not).  But, did you know that sloths dig a hole to poop in and then bury it?  Tidy!  Interestingly, though they are useless on the soil, they are excellent swimmers.  I do not know if they ever poop in water.

Here is a video of a sloth descending from its tree for a poo:

I like how David Attenborough pronounces it ‘slowth’.  I named my stuffed-animal sloth that I got from the zoo ‘Slowlita’.  And yes, I tuck it into Karey’s side of the bed to annoy her.  To add scientific theory to that video, some people think it chooses the same spot (near the base of the tree) so that it helps in the fertilization of what is its number one food source…

So, the main two camps of sloths are two-toed and three-toed.  (BTW, the ‘toes’ in question are actually fingers…they all have the same number of toes…just a different number of claws).  The two-toed variety are usually brown and look a bit more like baby bears.  The two-toed variety are also generally a bit more aggressive if pushed to it (they’re nocturnal as well…perhaps making them grumpier during the day) and the three-toed are the grey and black ones that look dopey and happy.  Three-toed sloths have extra neck bones, allowing them to turn their heads almost 360 degrees.  Something tells me that that would freak the shit out of Karey.  Here’s one of the best slide shows ever about sloths.  Great pics, seriously:  BBC

I think what I like so much about sloths is that they’re sooo unusual looking.  They don’t look like much else on earth, do they?  Their closest ancestors are actually armadillos and anteaters but sloths look more than a few branches away on that family tree.  Really, they look like an animal that was created by Jim Henson.  Their arms especially and their slouchy little bodies are right out of Muppet Studios.

The other thing about sloths is that though they do move ridonkulously slow (this is due to their low-metabolism brought on by their diet), they don’t actually sleep all that much.  On average, they sleep ten hours a day.  I would too, if I didn’t have access to coffee.  There’s something about sloth behavior that’s a bit ‘stop and smell the roses’ isn’t there?  With their perma-smile and mellow movements, they look perpetually stoned.  Sloth Club is a group out of Japan dedicated to what they interpret as ‘sloth philosophy’.  It’s all about slowing down our usually frantic pace.  Sloth Club

Would you like to see a video of some baby sloths?  I know I would.  These are from a sanctuary in Costa Rica.  (Dropped sloths are rarely retrieved by their sloth-moms if they should accidentally fall to the ground.)  Luckily, organizations like this one–sanctuary — and not my gf Karey–who would be so terrified at the sloth falling from the sky onto her that she would probably stomp it to death–scoop up the orphans:

Before I close, I’m tempted to show an entertaining little video about sloths that was featured on SNL.  Now, you should be able to view it on Hulu or on SNL’s main NBC site.  However, I don’t have the rights to see that shit.  Just because I live in Britian.  Come on!  Hurry it up international trade laws or whatever body it is that governs this crap.  The world needs to see more Target Lady sketches!  Anyway, I did find one site that Viacom hadn’t crushed with its cruel fist yet.  But, instead of embedding the vid, I’m just going to link to it.  Maybe that way, it’ll be safe from corporate destruction.  It’ll be our little secret.  Shhhh….

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Chem-Fu

As I grow older, I find that my tastes in music are changing ever so slightly.  Or, maybe if not my tastes, my tolerance levels for shit music are changing.  My gf and I have always been on the opposite sides of dance music.  She will relentlessly and unfairly label it all as ‘bompa chicka bompa chicka music’ whilst I would steadfastly defend the genre.  Even if copping to the fact that it’s not ALL good there are definitely artfully awesome dance tunes out there.  Crafting a good dance record is hard and the results should be appreciated.  But, and especially living over here in the UK–where dance music saturates the culture more than it does in The States, I have to say that I can now understand where she is coming from.  Sometimes, there’s just SOOOO much terrible dance musice that it can become easy just to dismiss it all.  To illustrate, here is a compilation of crap that young people today seem to like.

This exemplifies where Karey and I now agree on the state of dance music.  Stuff like this?  I can barely decipher one track from the next.  And the vocals, if there are any, are usually just covers of other more better songs with the addition of  that synthy awful back beat.  We now have a bi-partisan disdain for this particular breed of dance music.

Though I never really liked that cheap and tinny branch of techno/electronica anyway, I think my fuddy-duddyness exacerbates it.  I roll my eyes when it comes on the radio or my co-worker’s Spotify list.  Kids today.  They wouldn’t know a good beat from a glow-stick.  Now the techno bands of MY youth–they were special.  I love me some Chemical Brothers and Basement Jaxx and Royksopp…They knew how to blend a sample…

Even better than the originality and innovation of some of their tunes was the consistent and entertaining artfulness of their videos.  Let’s have one of those as today’s great thing:

130.  The Chemical Brothers video “Get Yourself High”.

This song (sans video) isn’t even in my top five Chemical Brothers tracks.  That list goes as such:

1.  Hey Boy, Hey Girl

2.  Star Guitar

3.  Golden Path

4.  Out of Control

5.  It Began in Afrika

But, “Get Yourself High” ain’t too shabby.  Especially for what is essentially a b-side (it was a bonus track on a best-of type album).  The song features Canadian rapper k-os.  Yes, I know that’s suitable reason enough for you to cast suspicion on this track.  But, he’s a bit better than Snow, thankfully.

https://i0.wp.com/www.americansongwriter.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/k-os.jpg

And I'm dapper!

At any rate, though the song is indeed serviceable (for a workout or a club tune), it’s the video that makes it so stand-out memorable.  Directed by Joseph Kahn, a Korean-American Texan–who has also directed vids for Courtney Love and Britney Spears and is slated to direct the Neuromancer film (based on the William Gibson novel) this video is awesomely kung-fu.  It’s actually ALL kung-fu.  It’s basically footage from the 1982 Shaw Brothers classic 2 Champions of Shaolin.

What I like about so many dance (and alternative rock outfits too) is that they will, for the good of the video often, resist the temptation to make starring appearances.  They don’t dictate that the story should revolve around them and their angst and/or pretty hair and/or tight pants.  This leaves the director with free rein to interpret the song in a less ham-handed way.  I mean, unless you are going to give us absolutely amazing kick-lines of choreagraphy…get out of the wayof the shot, know what I mean?  Which is why I find it unbe-flipping-lievable that the VMA for that year (2004) went to another Kahn video (Spear’s “Toxic”) instead of this three and a half minutes of pure chop-sockey/electro bliss.

It's just an honor to be nominated...

I’ve read a plot synopsis for 2 Champions of Shaolin and I still can’t discern what the hell happens in that movie.  I know it involves secret missions and some monkey style.  But, I can tell you this:  Kung-fu and boomboxes are a marriage made in heaven.  Thank God The Shaw Brothers made the movie so that it could, in turn, be digitally manipulated for this video.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

If you’re interested in learning more about radical Chemical Brothers videos, visit your local library!

Or, here’s an article from Blender.

Blender

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