March 31, 2009

Parry Gripp

The web is the most awesome pet repository. Via Andrew Sullivan, a dog playing a keyboard and howling.

I am new to Parry Gripp – I come to memes late. He writes songs to videos like the dog video. The best stuff is like Ween for kids. Sorta genius using the viral web like this. He's only seconds away from getting bought up by a major advertiser, and he's on the way. But I cannot tell you how much my daughter laughs at this:


March 30, 2009


There's another Henry Baum making music - he goes by the name Goferboy and composes chiptune music like Rebound Girl, which is really good. Poking around 8bit, I found this cover of the Benefit of Mr. Kite, also good and amusing.

I'd never heard of chiptune. The kids today.

March 26, 2009

Women of the World Take Over

Don’t know why the women have to be fashion model beautiful, but one of the most beautiful recordings ever made. Has its origins in this song by Ivor Cutler:

Obama on Legalization

This is a disappointing answer from Obama about legalizing pot – up there with saying bloggers all wear pajamas and live in their mother’s basement. Just really square, dismissive, and old-fashioned.

This poster at Huffington Post says it best:

The dismissive answer that the President gave to the questions regarding pot laws shows a willingness to stereotype the issue as one of Cheech and Chong pushing for the legal right to get stoned and be lazy. The truth of the matter is that the prohibition like laws against pot affect the entire country. Families are without parents due to jail time imposed for simple possession, this leads to lower incomes for these families even after time has been served because of the permanently attached criminal record. Prison overcrowding is a big deal in this country and we currently incarcerate more people per capita than any other country in the world, even China. Drug violence on the Mexican-American border is only increasing and this affects hundreds of communities on both sides of the border, on a personal level. The sheer amount of money spent on the war on drugs is overwhelming, even though supply has not diminished over the last few decades, instead it has increased. To ignore all of these issues and a host of others to get a laugh is a cheap oversimplification of a very serious issue for families and communities. I had hoped for a more serious approach from this president, at least the ability to have a serious discussion of the issue, I guess it's still too scary an issue for even a popular and reforming politician, who has admitted to using it in the past, to touch. When will we grow up?

Same time though we’re on the edge of a precipice. What would the Cantors of the world do if Obama suddenly went pro-legalization? It’s just not politically viable right now, even if economically necessary. It’ll happen eventually. The seeds are being sown (being separated from the shake, couldn't resist). Marijuana prohibition is too stupid a policy to not one day be overturned.

Jacking the Ball

I saw a Citibank commercial using the song “Jacking the Ball” by The Sea and Cake and was all set to embed the video and write an angry diatribe about how selling out is now meaningless. But instead found this nice performance from 1993.

The Flaming Lips also seem to sell out left and right, being featured in an ad for salad dressing among others. Instead, here’s a nice B-side from “At War with the Mystics,” with the refrain, “There’s nothing to be afraid of.”

March 25, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are Trailer

This trailer’s making the rounds today and further indisputable proof that I’m totally out of sorts with the zeitgeist. I mean, a melancholy song by Arcade Fire? Don’t know if that’s quite in keeping with the spirit of Maurice Sendak. Where the Wild Things Are is like a kid’s first acid trip. Spike Jonze is still interesting, but this seems a tad too mournful and serious. Where the Wild Things Are is not "Lost."

March 24, 2009

Vote on My Book Cover

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March 23, 2009

Knowing Review

I’m going to be back blogging again. I have a book coming out soon and want to express some things about where the book came from – beyond what I’m writing for the Self-Publishing Review, which is somewhat limited in scope, though interesting.

I saw ‘Knowing’ last night, took myself. When I first heard about it I was worried that it basically scooped my novel. And there are some very interesting similarities (probably some spoiler warnings in here). My novel’s about a writer who starts dreaming things that turn out to be true, including an insane President’s plan for the apocalypse. “Knowing” is about an astrophysicist who learns about coming disasters, including the apocalypse. In one point during “Knowing,” the lead character contacts a woman to make sense of what’s happening and shows her his college I.D. to appear legitimate. In my novel, the writer does the same, showing a woman a card saying he’s a writing professor. Minor, but interesting. Mostly the similarities have to do with how the movie ends (SPOILER) – it climaxes with a UFO landing, same as my novel. Perhaps I shouldn’t’ be spoiling my own novel, but anyway. Generally, I don’t feel I’ve been scooped because the mood of my novel is so different, and there’s the whole matter of the insane President, which is nowhere to be found in “Knowing.”

The movie had a profound effect on me – yes, even a pulp science fiction movie, not just because of the similarities with what I’d written (a novel started six years ago when my daughter was just born), but because these outlandish ideas about the end of the world are hardly outlandish anymore. One of the more disgusting and disturbing things Steven Spielberg said about “War of the Worlds” was that he was trying to exploit people’s fears about 9-11. In “War of the Worlds” there’s a plane crash, but it’s off camera, the crash is implied. This movie shows the plane crash in vivid detail and it’s one of the more awful things put onto celluloid. Later there’s a subway crash in which people rise from the subway tunnel covered in gray ash. In this movie 9-11 is everywhere and I don’t believe that’s particularly healthy; it may even be damaging.

The reason I started my novel about The End was because I was in downtown New York during 9-11 and saw the planes hit in real time. Broke me open in a serious way – including devout paranoia, which began seeming less like paranoia the deeper we got into the Bush Administration. But 9-11 happened, plane crashes happen, people have died this way, and putting that into a science fiction thriller seems irresponsible. Images are a lot more affecting than words. I can write: The plane crashed into the ground. People fled the wreckage screaming, on fire....But watch that in a movie? A totally different experience.

Jean Luc Godard said the worst thing about “Schindler’s List” (again Spielberg) is that it recreated Auschwitz. There’s no such thing as “just a movie” as all of the actors are drumming up horrible parts of their lives to convey fear and despair, and it’s recreating the worst moment in human history. The plane crash in “Knowing” doesn’t accomplish a lot except to make you sickened and fearful, and I’m not sure that’s very useful.

That said, I think “Knowing” is an important development in movies because the aliens in this movie are benevolent – which is something that is sorely missing from pop culture. Very bored with marauding aliens. If an advanced race of Ufonauts wanted us dead, we would be. So it’s a good development in the depiction of aliens in the mainstream, as well as exploring our place in the universe - really, I think, the most important issues going. Much of the other stuff seems like a distraction.

But all told my novel comes from a very different place. It’s not a book that fetishizes fear, even if it’s about the end of the world. I’ve written how much I dislike The Road, as well, which does the same. And the reason I’m self-publishing without even dealing with the agenting process is because overserious fearmongering is what sells now. I just generally don’t care about the crazy overseriousness that passes for drama: Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Dark Knight – totally unwatchable, might be the most incoherent popular movie ever made. It’s a Batman movie, get over it.

Anyway. My novel’s about how humanity might be able to save our own hide and not rely on being swept up by benevolent beings from the universe (though I’ve entertained the idea that this is the only way out), it’s about the evolution of human consciousness, a totally different type of apocalypse than this movie. I think “Knowing”’s an important movie – I really do. It says a lot about how we see ourselves and our future – both enormously tragic, but still hopeful, which is probably pretty close to how things are going to unfold.

So, yes, I’ve got a lot to say about where this novel came from. Here’s a preliminary cover for the novel – probably not going to end up being a white cover, but I like what she’s done - Cathi @ Book Cover Express. Didn’t want a glossy science fiction style cover. Cool thing is I wrote Anomalist Books to get permission for the image, which comes from Jacques Vallee’s Confrontations. The image is “Classification of anomalies related to UFOs.” Jacques Vallee gave me permission, so long as I quote the source.

Original image:

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