Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Chick Tracts, or Why Christianity is Terrifying

If you are of a certain background and upbringing, you will probably recognize the publication depicted below:


Commonly known as "Chick Tracts" after their author, Jack Chick, they are small comic pamphlets designed to grab the attention and quickly and easily convey certain tenets of Christian theology to the reader. And by "comic pamphlet" I mean "propaganda in comic form" and by "Christian theology" I mean "right-wing, bigoted, anti-Catholic, anti-science, fundamentalist Christian theology." The only reason I'm familiar with them is because my dad kept some around his place and I'd occasionally stumble across one and read it (though thankfully never because he gave me one to read) but a quick Google search shows that Jack Chick has gained some notoriety and undergone some lampooning as a result of his comics. And rightfully so. To read a Chick tract is to enter a world of evil and degeneration, where men and women are constantly tempted by minions of Satan, and constantly succumbing to temptation to hyperbolically disastrous ends, and where the only hope for avoiding eternal torment in Hell is the saving grace of Jesus Christ who, along with his Father, never really comes across as all that warm and fuzzy. For a glimpse into this world, here's Jack Chick's take on a few subjects:

Global Warming:

Evolution:


Drug Use:

Halloween:


A Christmas Carol (wherein a certain element is added to the original Dickens tale):


Mormonism:


Homosexuality:


The end of the world:


Dungeons & Dragons (a target of fundamentalists back in the eighties):


Helpfully, Jack Chick has also adapted some of his works for an African-American audience. This particular tract is titled "Wassup?":


Really, I could go on. This is only a small sampling of Chick's collection of works, to which he apparently continues to build upon. Reading these as a boy, I was engrossed in pretty much the same manner a young boy might be if he stumbled across a copy of Hustler in an open field (totally random example.) I was both baffled and horrified, as I was pretty sure I was reading something awful without really being able to grasp the entire extent of the awfulness. As an adult of course these seem ridiculous, with the power to convert only the most simple-minded of readers, and the only horrifying element is the idea that there are literally millions of people living in our country who can relate to these pamphlets and who will eagerly hand them out to unsuspecting friends and family.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

So, about that blogging thing...

If you're a regular visitor to this blog, you'll notice that it's trended from somewhat active to mostly inactive in the course of the past year (also, if you're a regular visitor to this blog who isn't Adam, Nat Wu or myself, I'd like to send you some money by way of thanks.) If you've ever wandered over to this blog by way of Three Wise Men (also trending towards defunctitude) you might know that the three of us started this blog so we'd have a more appropriate venue than a serious political blog for our irreverent and/or offensive posts (and also because we got kicked off of the blog that originally served that purpose...a blog which, I am pleased to say, is considerably more defunct than even this one is.) Unfortunately as each of us has grown up and taken on more responsibilities (such as starting families and holding down jobs for any decent length of time) the time we each have to blog has greatly decreased. I've also found, at least in my personal experience, that social media has become the go-to for just about any opinion I care to share with the internet, for two primary reasons: one, because it's much easier to Tweet/Facebook/Google Plus a humorous link with a snarky and/or witty comment, than it is to come here and craft a blog post and two, because those tweets and posts get considerably more exposure than anything written here does. This has unfortunately encouraged the bad habit of crafting posts tailored for those mediums, which are considerably more limited than the blog format. If something doesn't fit those mediums well, I typically either pass on sharing it, or share it in a more stilted form than what I could accomplish in the traditional blog format. I've experienced some frustration in that regard, but since the alternative seemed to be doing the work of actually writing a blog post, I've seen fit to let it go for the most part. But I was reminded of how pleasurable it can be to blog when I put together my music post yesterday, something that's simply not possible in the social media format. So I think I'm going to give this blogging thing another shot.

Now I have to admit, there's a part of me that feels like I'm going a little retro when I say I want to start regularly blogging again. I can't say I've done any solid research on the issue, but I imagine that the effect that social media has had on me is largely the same effect it's had on just about everyone, and that just about everyone is blogging less than they used to back in the early aughts when blogs were the primary outlet for self-expression online. Still, in my limited experience, there appear to be quite a few people who are not only maintaining blogs that predate the social media explosion, but have actually started blogs rather than consign all of their material to social media outlets. If they can start blogging, then surely I can resume it. 

As I said, there are really no limits to what we like to cover here. We tend to focus on gaming, humiliating stories of our past (both combined even), various internet strangeness, and random "serious" music posts. That being said, I'm happy to accept suggestions on what I should be writing about from cool kids who know better than I do. Tips are appreciated (if not remunerated.)  

Anyway, so I guess this is a long way of saying that my New Year's resolution for 2013 is to blog more. Which was probably also my New Year's resolution for 2006 or 2007, now that I think about it. The more things change...




Monday, December 31, 2012

Favorite Recordings from 2012

About end-of-the-year retrospective lists, I had this to say in 2009:

I'm not a huge fan of "top" lists at the end of a year, or the end of a decade, mostly because they seem completely mandatory and cliched at this point.
I have subsequently proved my lack of commitment to this notion by not crafting such a list myself for the last two years. I'm going to break from tradition though to share with you some recordings I discovered in 2012. My goal is slightly different this go-around; last time I took the conventional approach of sharing my opinion of the best albums of 2009. That sort of list always has the potential to serve as a sort of vanity project for the author, and I found it difficult to qualify what I thought were truly great albums, and what I simply had some personal fondness for. This time I'd simply like to share some truly exceptional music I discovered this past year, a narrower approach that, at least in my opinion, produces a more interesting range of music. So, in no particular order here are some albums and individual tracks from the last year that I'm happy to share with you:

Grimes - Visions: I have to admit that I wasn't too impressed earlier this year when I listened to "Oblivion", another track from this young lady's latest album. Clicking around on YouTube one night though I randomly stumbled across this song. I was hooked (evidenced by thirty-five or so consecutive listens that night.) I've since gone back and listened to the whole album and there are at least three or four great tracks, but if you want her best shot you should start with this one:



Burial - Kindred EP: If someone ever actually gets around to filming an adaption of William Gibson's Neuromancer and the soundtrack doesn't prominently feature something by this London artist, they're doing it wrong.



Demdike Stare - Elemental: An act I'm very pleased to have discovered this past year. They do something which some people refer to as "hauntology", a term which  I don't think really gets at most of what they do . What they actually do offer is "dark" electronica, ambient-ish in spots, beat driven in others. Whatever approach, they're stuff is spooky and menacing without being cheesy, and it's great.



Loscil - Sketches from New Brighton: I've had a fondness for ambient music for some time now, and I definitely tend to gravitate towards electronic music that straddles the line between beat-driven and true ambient music, a category I think Loscil falls into. Instead of the spacey feel that a lot of ambiet music has, listening to Loscil puts me in the mind of a cool winter afternoon spent watching...well, container ships go by.



Chrome Sparks - All There Is (Feat. Steffaloo): I love everything about this track (which is from 2011, but I like it so much I'm going to cheat and include it here.) Unfortunately I have yet to find any other tracks by this artist that come close to this one, but he's a relatively new artist and there's definitely potential there.



Yuna - Lullabies (Jim-E Stack Remix): I don't honestly know much of anything about Yuna or producer Jim-E Stack, except for the fact that when you combine them you get an absolutely gorgeous track I've listened to probably a hundred times.



My Morning Jacket - Outta My System (Washed Out Remix): Washed Out (Ernest Greene) is probably my favorite electronic artist after Burial. His remix takes this song in a completely different direction from the original, and it's fantastic. Greene definitely has some great work ahead of him.



Le Révélateur- Horizon Fears: I'm really digging the throwback sound of this act, which hearkens to the flourishing of the digital age in the early 80s. But you really should watch their lovely videos, the result of a collaboration with visual artist Sabrina Ratté. Here's a great example.



Thibaut de Champagne - Le Chansonnier Du Roi : Now for a change of pace, a recording of poems of Thibaut, King of Navarre (1201-1253) set to music. This is, quite frankly, a stunning collection of songs of the Middle Ages, performed by Alla Francesca, a group that specializes in music of the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The voices, three baritones and a soprano, are fantastic, as is the spare but beautiful accompaniment by authentic medieval instruments. Thibaut wrote about many themes but his love poems, of which this is one example, are certainly his most famous. The desire and longing are readily apparent in this recording.



Claude Debussy - Le Musicien De L'Amour: I've never delved too deeply into art songs, an oversight which I'm remedying thanks in part to the discovery of this recording. Jan Van der Crabben is easily my favorite male vocalist now, thanks to a warm and unobtrusive baritone that is perfect for this collection of songs by Debussy. The album opens with several great songs, but this is my personal favorite.


And there you have it! My personal favorite musical discoveries of 2012. Hopefully I'll enjoy finds as great as these in the coming year. Happy New Year!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Chris Isaak

I'm doing this since it's actually an easier way to share this music than posting the raw links on G+.

Ok, I would recommend almost everything off of Always Got Tonight, but my two favorites are probably the title track
 
and Notice the Ring, which is quite a rocker:

 Baja Sessions is a slow album, like a whole album of Wicked Game, but I like his cover of Only the Lonely

Now, probably my favorite song off of Heart Shaped World (which is really only known for Wicked Game) is Don't Make Me Dream About You.

 Obviously one of his best songs is Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing from Eyes Wide Shut

 Lastly, his cover of Miss Pearl off his album of covers (Beyond the Sun) is a good rocker:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Many Ways Mario Has Been Killed In His 25 Years Of Gaming

Friday, February 17, 2012

TAZER BALL!!!

I'm not sure if this is real or not, and I don't care because it's so stupid it's hilarious and it's so hilarious it's unbelievable and it's so unbelievable it's awesome.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

This probably won't drive you insane

...because at least it's short.


Don't you wish you had a cat that liked dubstep? No, probably not. In all likelihood your cat would like Skrillex instead of Deadmau5.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Why don't we ever see stuff like this at the Grammys?

I don't really know what's going on here, but I figured I'd give the Japanese a break. The only thing I'm really confused about is whether this is meant seriously or ironically.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Literally Unhelpful

From the same people who brought you Literally Unbelievable, comes Least Helpful, a collection of some of the worst reviews ever posted to the internet. Like this gem:




I know you want to believe that this doesn't exist. And it's true, the era of photoshopping has made it entirely to ease to fake stupidity (God help us for CREATING FAKE STUPIDITY when there's enough laying around everywhere.) Alas, these appear to be real.

Enjoy!

Updated: For no good reason, also go read my review of 2012 based on the trailer alone.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Hey NatWu I Found A New Outfit For You

This would be better if those were real hot dogs.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Transvestite bumblebees

Is the least of what's wrong with this video. It's not as soul-crushingly oppressive as the last one, but it's not exactly normal.


Oh, and one of those is actually a girl. Can you figure out which one?

What just happened?

I tried to make it all the way through this, but I couldn't. Maybe I'm just too tired to resist the mental damage it's doing to me.

I can't even convey the level of WTF-ness with a simple "WTF!" She farts a stream of colors, faceless fat girls are dancing, eyeballs are randomly appearing out of nowhere...my sanity was slipping when I turned it off. The incredible repetitiveness of the music seemed to be extremely effective at drilling the psychedelic effects into me. I think she repeated that damn chorus like 16 times so far, and I stopped the damn video at 3 minutes!!!!

Anyway, I wouldn't recommend watching the whole thing. The super-bright color palette might hurt your eyes permanently, let alone what this is doing to your brain.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

YES! The head explosion montage we've all been waiting for

Thursday, June 23, 2011

High school principal in Taiwan shows up in Iron Man suit

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ha ha ha! I've got nothing to say about this