30 December 2010

Capsule 2010: Television

Alright folks, it's time to talk about some Television. 2010, like other recent years, was an incredible time for TV. Amidst some of the more legendary shows coming and going we saw the continued dominance of Cable Diversification and how much critics love it, startling audience breakdowns and NBC again really relying only on Fantastic Sunday Night Football coverage to support the entire network. Well, of course that AND the Winter Olympics.


We'll break this down into a few categories because the TV season doesn't really measure up with our Calendar Year. I'll chat first about shows both in the 2009 - 2010 seasons as well as 2010 - 2011, then shows that ended in 2010 and finally shows that began in 2010. Now, naturally there's always the Mad Men and Breaking Bad and that people love, and these are some of the strongest narratives on TV, even if the former is incredibly boring and difficult to get into and the latter is so critically acclaimed that Norwegian Morning Wood really has no place supporting it here.

2010 was notable for a few big returns. Futurama arrived on Comedy Central this summer, with a good amount of sub-par episodes but some incredible, instant classics such as "The Late Philip J. Fry" (S6;E7) and "The Prisoner of Benda" (S6;E10). The Simpsons also featured one of their greatest non-Treehouse of Horror episodes in years in "The Squirt and the Whale" (S21;E19) and have had some return to form after a couple terrible years. As you can tell, I primarily watch cartoons. South Park, while surely blowing a few opportunities with their Coon arc this fall, knocked out "Medicinal Fried Chicken" (S14;E3) and "You Have 0 Friends" (S14;E4).

The best two shows on TV, though I still believe to be the one-two of Community and Parks and Recreation on NBC. Neither are audience favourites but those who watch them get hooked immediately and they've topped many end-of-year-lists like this one. I've ranted and raved about both of these plenty of times before, needless to say they're the most incredible comedies on television and their continual Emmy snub makes me want to punch babies until my arm gets sore.

So what other general news from the year? American Idol switched up its judges but no one really cared. Jersey Shore was everywhere, getting MTV ratings typically reserved for Networks. Everyone was DVR-ing and Satellite-ing and Hulu-ing, but that's not news. Olympics, World Cup, Thursday Night Football that non one was able to watch, fun sports year. Also we should note Super Bowl XLIV, which managed to attract the largest American audience of all time watching a TV at the same time. Of course, that's still a fraction of the people who logged on to Facebook at some point during the game.


Let's talk about Conan. One of the hottest topics of 2010 was the huge NBC late night host controversy, in fact it has its own Wikipedia page (look how detailed that shit is!). In the end, Conan was able to settle into a new position on TBS with a dude who was more than happy to let him go wherever he wanted, and Conan has done pretty well ever since. By the way, currently 90.6% of households with a TV also had cable in 2010, is it that big of a deal that cable shows are beating Networks? It's also nice to see that amidst all the strange Late Night feuds there's at least two pretty cool rivals who like each other. I am growing into a pretty good Craig Ferguson fan by the way, who won a Peabody this year for interviewing Desmond Tutu, is settling into a fantastic "Awkward Pause" routine and also thoroughly skews Late Night standards with his Robotic Sidekick and other frank intimate moments. He's my dude.

Anyway, besides Late Night tangents, HBO debuted three fantastic series that should all be contenders for Best of the Year, including The Pacific, Treme and Boardwalk Empire. After being very impressed with the first episode of The Walking Dead, I'm not sold on how the season turned out, settling for more typical Zombie Tropes than the unrelenting comic series. My favourite new series of the year though is still Adventure Time with Finn & Jake on Cartoon Network. Haha, that rules.I'll also mention delighting in the Sunday double-dose of Childrens Hospital and Mary Shelley's Frankenhole. Lots of new gems to find in the sand this year. Also I guarantee this the only list you'll find mentioning Frankenhole equal to Treme. Dammit, that's some funny shit.


The Boondocks tended to go out with a whimper rather than a bang, despite an awesome kickball episode. Other than that, 2010 saw the end of long-going series like Law & Order and Larry King Live (did a soul care?) The big knock-outs were Scrubs, 24 and LOST, though, the latter of which really swept up the Spring Zeitgeist. All of these shows ended for the exact reason there's not a whole lot to write about them, though. They're irrelevant, no longer interesting and really puttered out without much satisfaction.


What the hell, Betty White. From appearing on Community, SNL (winning an Emmy for a...pretty shitty episode) and truly igniting the Facebook community (what the hell does that mean), Betty White was THE TV artist of 2010 and didn't even really star in any shows. What a glorious old cunt. I don't really understand my generation's love of Betty White. Sure there's the old vagina jokes, and those can be pretty fun but what other joy do we get from watching this old woman get bounced around in Snickers Commercials (on that topic can we mention the creep-out Commercial of the year? Snickerrrrsss!!). This chick and like, Jon Hamm seemed to pop up in every weird little spot. Like the Season Finale of Childrens Hospital. What the hell, Jon Hamm. Go sell some John Ham.


Community - "Modern Warfare" (S1;E23) was absolutely legendary, from the Apocalypse spoof to the lack of character shields, eruption of sexual tension and Ken Jeong's masterful final appearance, this was breathtaking.

Ugly Americans - "The Manbirds" (S1;E14) was pretty awesome. Does anyone else ever watch this show? Most of it is unremarkable, but this episode's pension for cockfighting, which I already adored here proved to be a great emotional tether for a classic sports redemption. Maybe not, but the Manbird language alone makes the episode worth watching.

The Venture Bros - "Operation P.R.O.M." (S4;E16) was a severely underlooked achievement. This scene alone may be one of the most fantastically constructed of the year and the amount of reward for the depth and growth of character this season doesn't fail to disappoint.

LOST - "Ab Aeterno" (S6;E9) took the show's most interesting and mysterious side character and developed an entire short movie about his backstory that was interesting, moving, gave some insight to the Island's Mythology (some insight). This is what LOST was like at its best - not necessarily following a strict narrative but using its episodic medium and huge cast of characters to tell little vignettes that tied into a more complete story. Despite a somewhat middling final season (although I think the Finale was spectacular), "Ab Aeterno" emerges as one of the best episodes of the year. You can take that to the bank.

Capsule 2010: Music

JUST when you thought Norwegian Morning Wood was going to escape 2010 without a single best-of list I'm laying this down for you readers out there in Electronic Land. Now, I never like really ranking stuff (bullshit) so this isn't really a list, but more of a "bunch of stuff that happened." Firstly we're looking at 2010 in Music. Now, we had a great Summer Jam as well as plenty of kick-ass albums and great new artists. I'll start by chronicling some of the biggest songs of the year, regardless of artistic content:

SONGS OF 2010:

Now we're cutting edge, that came out minutes ago. DJ Earworm has done a sweet job the past few years summing up Years in Pop Music and I could probably stop here. But there are some big things he left out, like showing a fraction of "Love the Way You Lie" and completely ignoring much worse recent tracks such as "Like a G6."

Anyway, we may always remember 2010 fondly with tracks such as: "Tik Tok" by Ke$ha, "Bad Romance" and "Telephone" by GaGa, "BedRock" by Young Money, "Hey Soul Sister" by Train, "OMG" and "DJ Got Us Falling in Love" by Usher, "Break your Heart" and "Dynamite" by Taio Cruz, "Billionaire" by Travie McCoy, "Love the Way You Lie" by Enimem and Rihanna, "Rude Boy" and "What's My Name" also by Rihanna, "Forever" by Drake, Em, Weezy and Kanye, "I Like It" by Enrique, "Just the Way you Are" and "Grenade" by Bruno Mars, "Just a Dream" by Nelly, "Bottoms Up" by Trey and Nicki, "Like a G6" by Far East Movement, "Raise Your Glass" by P!nk and of course we can't forget "California Gurls," "Teenage Dream," and "Firework" by Katy.



In the realm of Pop Songs a lot of artists had some huge years including Nicki Minaj, Ke$ha, Rihanna, Eminem and Drake. No one really rose to the occasion like Katy Perry or Usher, though. Back in September I might have given Ursh artist of the year Honours, but no one is slinging them like Katy, thus:

Pop Artist of 2010: Katy Perry.

There were also some great comeback Pop Careers, including Eminem resurging in critical and commercial success with his follow-up to Relapse (2009), Recovery (2010). Nelly bounced back with a nice single after wallowing in irrelevance since playing a ridiculous running back in The Longest Yard (2005), and Rihanna bounced back with a handful of nice singles after her Chris Brown pummeling. This year, though, I'm giving the Comeback Special to:

Pop Comeback Special of 2010: Enrique Iglesias

The boy hasn't lost a step. Also apparently it's easier than ever to latch on to Jersey Shore success. I love how Angelina is no where to be found. Now, I'll diverge a bit here and honour the best in Rock. While Matisyahu had a surprising hit with "One Day," there was another band that made some worthwhile turns to its image and standard noise. Thus in 2010 there was hardly a better track put out by some old dudes than "Just Breathe" by:

Rock Comeback Special of 2010: Pearl Jam

Now there were tons and tons of incredible new acts to hit our ears in 2010. Taio Cruz and Bruno Mars are thoroughly soaking up the Pop Side of things, and my love for Nicki Minaj aside (can you believe she didn't have a career until 2010?), I'm siding with another rapper and his great Freshman album, The Adventures of Bobby Ray:

New Pop Artist of 2010: B.o.B

On the rock side of things there are so many songs that dominated radio mostly by new artists. This brings me hope for the 2010s after a dismal past decade in rock music. Cage the Elephant had some success this year with "Back Against the Wall" (released in 2009, hit #1 in 2010) and "In One Ear." I'll also dish some love to Crash Kings and "Mountain Man" as popular rock hits this year. What I really liked though was "How You Like Me Now" by The Heavy, "The High Road" by Broken Bells, "Tighten Up" by The Black Keys and "Lay Me Down" by The Dirty Heads. If that doesn't become a perennial summer song I will cry, it's got more staying power than "California Gurls." Forgotten single "Stand Tall" and "Check the Level" are also fantasmic tracks. There is one more fantastic new band though, which won almost every demographic I can think of with their simultaneously chill, intense and passionate beats:

New Rock Artist of 2010: Mumford & Sons

"Little Lion Man" is their most popular one, but I'll support "The Cave" as well. These guys are fantastic, a huge hit somehow for the English Folk Band. There are so many more deserving mentions really, but due to space and a limited desire to search YouTube, that's all I can mention for now.


Tons of good videos this year. In addition to these, there has been some return to the longform Music Vid with Kanye and GaGa going nuts. While it may go without saying that Kanye's efforts with "Runaway" were the most extravagant and surely one of the best videos of the last decade, there were a lot other great ones. "Fuck You" by Cee Lo is an awesome vid that combines a possible cute love story with some righteous anger at rejection, Eminem's "Love the Way You Lie" still leaves a chilled taste in my brain, and the cuteness of "Tighten Up" by The Black Keys gets me somehow. I also find myself strangely drawn into Dev's "Booty Bounce" whenever it finds itself in my playlist.

However, there are certainly a few efforts that went above and beyond this year. OK Go somehow has had a series of amazing practical one-take videos (if you don't remember them, they're those treadmill dudes. You now immediately now who I'm talking about). "This Too Shall Pass" features an enormous working Rube Goldberg Machine that only completed successfully three times out of sixty attempts over two days (sometimes requiring an hour in-between takes to set up again). I also hardily enjoyed Brandon Flowers inexplicably being captured and tortured by Ninjas then needing Charlize Theron to free him in "Crossfire." Some of the looks of love and embarrassment they give each other towards the end are hilarious. Finally I am a fan of Jack Johnson's epic battle against Andy Samberg in "At or With Me." There wasn't a better video this year that followed the tempo and beats of the song. It's also a very fun direct send-up of Johnson's mellow image. Yet the video of the year by far is:

Music Video of 2010: Vampire Weekend, "Giving Up The Gun"

Now I don't really even like this song. I don't even like Vampire Weekend. This video is incredible though. Tennis in...the Future or something, RZA as Magic Line Judge, a Jonas Brother gets his ass kicked, then Jake Gyllenhaal comes in and is somehow hilarious. Then when you don't think this vid can get any weirder, Lil Jon steps in as the Ginger's (played apparently by the goth girl in this video. I had never seen it either) coach, who encourages her in French Subtitles to beat herself at Tennis. Wow. It's incredible, well edited and full of these subtle broad-spanning cameos. Better than "Runaway?" Probably not, but this is Norwegian Morning Wood, who cares.

ALBUM OF 2010:

Who really cares about Albums anymore? I didn't bother to go through many many artists this year, although I did enjoy a few very much. Two in particular stood out as exceptional. Kanye's My Dark Beautiful Twisted Fantasy is a truly epic piece, a deep, hard look at his own personal life, character flaws, media perception to the tune of some incredible beats. He also broadens towards the displaced cultural plight of Black Americans, including personal and external struggles. Though always heavily sampled, any of these tracks would stand on their own without the lyrical complexity Kanye gives them. Favourite Tracks include: "Monster," "All of the Lights," "Hell of a Life."

However, I'm a Gorillaz man, and Plastic Beach is the Best Album of 2010. Every song has an interconnected theme, the guests are spectacular and the beats are absolutely sick. Not only that but they often match both the tone and subject matter of the lyrics. It's about the corruption of the ocean, our planet and our souls, the material and garbage that sinks into every pore and the destruction it can take on ourselves as well as our personal relationships as well as the world around us. It's also danceable. Favourite Tracks include: "Sweepstakes," "On Melancholy Hill," "Rhinestone Eyes."

Alright. Now I'm sure I left out a good deal of great Musical Happenings in 2010. But you get the just of it. So what was the best song of 2010? That's clearly Jimmy Fallon's Impression of Neil Young singing Willow Smith's "Whip Your Hair." Featuring 70s Springsteen.

Here's to 2011.

29 December 2010

First Impressions: True Grit

It's hard to say what to think of this flick. It's a Coen film with minimal twists, a straightforward narrative, minimal swears and violence and a lack of ambiguity. Does this detract from the experience? I suppose I'm not used to a good Coen Flick that lacks convoluted plot twists, an unconventional screenplay and unrelenting, sometimes shocking or surprising violence. While I've come to expect this from the brothers, they of course refuse to let themselves to be pinned even to a style or directing expectation. That said, I have swallowed the fact that a Coen Film need not be outrageously out of control to remain excellent.

Now, of course I have not read the novel, nor have I seen the original 1969 version with John Wayne. But I HAVE read the Wikipedia articles and I saw the Duke's trailer. So naturally I consider myself an expert in these matters. True Grit (2010) is very authentic to its source material, and along with No Country for Old Men (2007) may establish the duo as the best Adapters in Hollywood. Really they just follow the book, page for page, line or line, but manage such verisimilitude across mediums that seem to escape most other filmmakers. So much of No Country involves these long meditating shots across landscapes, dead mexicans, etc, visuals to set tone and mood perfectly that it's tough to imagine reading it on the page. Grit is less in love with its setting, but still has a very distinctive visual tone, from the discovery of a body hung high up in a tree to setting up various sniper spots and providing a good feel for the cold and loneliness of the West.

Now, it's also got its fair share of Coen Quirky Dialogue, primarily spouting out the mouth of Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) in the first act. The girl actually does a great job of not being annoying, a compliment I will not afford Kim Darby in the original. She's got spunk, confidence and shows just the right amount of naivete while attempting to mask it in her most dire situations. It's believable this chick could set out on her own without fear.

Now, Josh Brolin is in this film a whole three minutes and doesn't provide much personality despite other characters long setting up his character as a violent, crafty, uncatchable motherfucker. He's just kind of a grumpy, dumb little man who is low on his gang's totem pole. This really indicates that Mattie and Rooster's quest is more about finding themselves than finding Chaney (cute, no one has ever thought that before). I was actually expecting Damon to be horribly miscast, but he's decent as Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (long lost ancestor of Shia). LaBoeuf tries hard and isn't really as incompetent as Rooster decries him. His character is something more substantial than Rooster, and I like how much they actually work together behind Mattie's back.

In general the film does a good job of following the girl's story rather than glorifying the coolness of Rooster Cogburn (as cool as he is), something the Duke's version lacked. The important thing to remember about True Grit (1969) is that it was really just 1) an excuse to film John Wayne play a hilarious drunk, 2) an excuse to give John Wayne a long-deserved Oscar (see also Scorsese) and 3) an attempt to place John Wayne in a more "Eastwood"-like Western. It's honoured because of all these reasons but that trailer didn't look so great. The Coen Brothers placed the story in its original context and executed magnificently.

Now, I must mention Jeffey Bridges, because ultimately you and I both saw this to see what the Dude could do. Switching eye-patches and growing a beard to differentiate himself completely from the Duke, the Dude delivers. He's craggly, grumpy, drunk and sells the old and fat better than John Wayne could. I'm probably treading on someone's Holy Ground with all this but I'll stick with my guns. He's a Best Actor Winner, too. I'm also just enjoying watching him between this and Tron: Regacy (2010) in back-to-back weeks. But he definitely captures your attention in Grit, that little Bridges chuckle he rocked in The Big Lebowski (1998) shines through in a few scenes as does his affinity against youthful nonsense (see um...Stick It [2006]?). He's got a style all his own. I'm not sure why but I really enjoy watching old people in cinema who no longer really care about the world. He's not unlike Clint in Gran Torino (2008) the way he disdains most of the world around him but eventually finds someone worthwhile to latch on to. Someone who unexpectedly emulates his own lofty standards. It's pretty cool and provides a good ride along the way.

So Brad Pitt doesn't get shot in the face, Steve Buscemi isn't fed to a Woodchipper and there's no pounding Grace Slick vocals. Nonetheless, True Grit is a welcome addition to the Coen Library, tho still probably their most straightforward story. In fact they basically blow this article to shit.

25 December 2010

The Long Halloween Vol. II: Christmas

Now, since last year I technically burned up Festivus, really Christmas is wide open this year. That said, it should always be pretty clear to you out there what the great Christmas Traditions are. Every family's got a movie they watch (Ours used to be A Christmas Story [1983] before I shifted us into Die Hard [1988]). You eat the same bullshit food with the same bullshit people. So maybe you can read this this year and spice things up a bit. I've already laid out some of my favourite flicks last year as well, but take some advice here to go off the beaten path.

Jingle Films:

There are so so many good Christmas movies, from Jingle All the Way (1996) to The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006). But everyone's seen this kind of sappy shit before, it's time to lay down something big. Something unique. Something to set your Christmas off right. I'm talking about Santa's Slay (2005). This film stars Goldberg as Santa Claus, Son of Satan who after forced to deliver toys for a thousand years after losing a bet with an Angel may once again go on his Annual Killing Sprees. And he does. Santa kills so many people in this movie, starting with this insane family of actually famous stars in the first scene. Check it out. There's got to be some fantasy fulfillment watching Fran Drescher's head set on fire. Most of the rest of the film stars some dude and Claire from LOST (still hot) running around from evil Satan/Santa Wrestler. Fantastic times. So this number, while admittedly pretty terrible should shake up an evening with Grandma pretty well.


Again, plenty of Christmas music to choose from here. Most radio stations switch over to all-Christmas Carols come Thanksgiving, which is incredibly irritating after the first hour. Others will play some shit just for the fun of it, like that terrible new Coldplay song. Who does that? You're ruining my Radio Alt Rock experience, Coldplay, I came here for some fucking Black Keys. Anyway, besides Coldplay to give your ears a new jingle this season there are other options. I was wondering what to put here but luckily the other day a caller called into the radio and requested a Christmas Song. Apparently to whoever this bro was, "Detachable Penis" by King Missile was a classic Christmas Track. Good enough for me, let's bring it in the canon and take a listen.

Snowflake TV:

Again, lots and lots to choose from here. Among many many Christmas specials I enjoy Community, though Season 1's "Comparative Religion" hit it out of the park a lot better than this year's pretty forced "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas." That stop-motion stuff is kind of hokey and played, mostly in my favourite special of all time, which also came out last year, "A Very Sunny Christmas" from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Charlie's mom is a whore, Mac's parents steal Christmas and Frank buys himself a Lambo. Beautiful stuff. It's wrong in many ways, there's tons of unbelievable moments, and there's ultimately a lot of heart. Or at least the notion that if you're a douche no one will buy you presents. And isn't that the true meaning of it all?

Gooey Food and Drink:

There's tons of traditional Christmas Dinners, from Turkey to Ham to Goose and Monkey. As long as you're eating a lot, maybe through in some Figgy Pudding (I have never figured out what the hell that is) and tons of Eggnog and you're straight. You'd best keep the liquor flowing with relatives around, I'd suggest a steady stream of Caucasians, Vodka Cranberries or peppermint schnapps. Just don't drink so much that you develop an aversion to Candy Canes.

So Merry Christmas out there, and to all my Different Faith Readers out there, just remember - we can ultimately reject the commercial and religious aspects of this Holiday and gather around the Festivus pole, to air grievances and wrestle each other. Happy Landing, friends.

23 December 2010

On Facebook, Part II: Daily Life

Now as I described a few weeks ago, the Social Networking Site known as Facebook as slimed its way into our lives through exclusivity, addictiveness and from facilitating the ability to stalk each other. There are more subtle ways it has affected our every day life, however, which I'll discuss today. I cannot understate the ubiquity of Facebook to the Millennial Generation and younger. Facebook is the site we check whenever we open up the Internet, it's the last one we check when we leave, and dammit, it's about everything we check in between. I'd like to discuss in a bit today some Unspoken Facebook Laws that we've developed in our new little society. But first -

"I could really use a friend right now."
"Okay dude, I'm here for you."
"Okay, then get on Facebook and fertilize my crops."
Apparently hundreds of millions of people actually spend a majority of their time on Facebook playing Third-Party Application Games. That's right, Hundreds of Millions of People. Personally, I believe this to be insane and idiotic. The kinds of games on Facebook are needy and addictive with very little reward. You bother all of your barely close associates to join your fake Mafia game or grow Farm Cows. It's bizarrely time-consuming and not really that cool I mean, at least in World of Warcraft (2004) you can get high levels and explode some shit and fight Dragons. All Farmville is good for is getting big cows. Hip-hoo-fucking-ray.

But a discussion of the daily influence of Facebook would be remiss without its mention. Somehow people have literally died over this stuff. It's sick. It's insane. I tend to think about how the Industrial Revolution allowed for the conglomeration and expansion of farming techniques, freeing up larger portions of the population to partake in more specialised fields, eventually broadening our societal and cultural spectrum, allowing for greater leisure time, cash flow and sense of independence that provided the Capitalist foundation for this great nation. Now we spend all that leisure time pretending to do what our ancestors toiled over. That's not really a reason to hate Farmville, but it's still a monumental waste of time. It's easy and addictive enough, however, to catch a huge amount of the population's eyes, which helps to broaden Facebook's demographic as well as keep folks on the site longer, increasing ad value, which all goes into Zuckerberg's pocket.

Am I the only one who thinks of these things?

Thank Zuck for 'It's Complicated'

Let's talk about Relationships. Now, all those people spending 8 hours a day on Facebook who aren't raising E-Goats are either stalking ex-lovers (and pounding meat to them) or stalking complete strangers (and pounding meat to them). Facebook has become the perfect Mastubatory Warm-Up to a Hardcore Porn Session. You've done it, c'mon.

Facebook might as well be named the "Stalker Revolution" rather than the "Social Revolution." It's creepy- now I'll share a true story with you, I was at the bank waiting for the Teller in a waiting room (why the hell does it take so long to give people your money?) and there was this cute girl there. I made some small talk and she was clearly not interested. On my way out I glanced at the sign-in sheet and saw her name. Within three minutes of Facebook time I had found her profile, including where she went to school, basic interests and some sexy pics. Now, the point of this is really that Facebook is able to replace any kind of Human Interaction (wasn't that Zuck's dream?). Now, I'm not stalking this girl, I forgot her name the day after, but if you really try to use Facebook for shit like that it's frightening how easy it is. This is all completely private, socially shameless and nearly undetectable.

Stalking aside, Facebook has changed the way we take Real Relationships. To be clear, you're not really dating a person (or married to them) until you've declared it on Facebook. It's bizarre how seriously some people take this. The same is true for friendships, really. Facebook has become the most basic of all human interaction for any form of relationship. It's insulting if you're not someone's Facebook Friend, because it's such a low level of relationship. I'm friends with people I hung out with at College Parties at different colleges from my own six years ago. But fuck, I gotta now how they're dinners were from Tuesday night. This is fucked up.

And truly, thank Zuck for "It's Complicated." Finally a way to describe that "sort-of" fooling around relationship you have in College (and real life). And the Poke. Hell yeah that's an easy way to flirt. And if you do it to a member of the same sex, what an incredible joke right, eh eh? Shit. That vid above is real old by the way, some of the Facebook Standards are a bit dated, but you get the just of it (actually it harkens back to a time I described in Part I when Facebook was just for College Kids. This video shows why that was awesome). To take this further though, our lives have begun to fit around the confines of Facebook rather than the other way around.

Hagel Zuckerberg, Besitzer von Leben

What we must always keep in mind then, what we seriously must always think of is the simple fact that Facebook is not a faceless entity. It is not some arbitrary spot on the Internet where we can place our lives. I don't mean our basic contact info, our interests (which are trolled and searched by search engine companies like Google and Yahoo, formed into data and sold to commercial companies such as Amazon, among others. But you knew that) or pictures of us barfing at prom. We place our lives here, our communication with our species, our knowledge of each other, how we relate to each other and how we judge and think of each other. Facebook is everything.

It is not arbitrary. It comes from what a drunken Harvard sophomore thought was cool. Zuckerberg invented the interface, the books/movies/quotes sections we fill with our dreams and almost every other foundational concept. We've got to learn not to mindlessly accept his standard o social interaction and remain vigilant towards our own best interest. Now, this could just be angry liberal bitching but there is a good degree of independence lost whenever we log on.

So can't we just scrap it?

I've thought about this. I really wrestle with the issue of whether or not deleting my profile would prove enlightening or just incredibly douchey. I've had friends who get rid of their accounts. What ends up happening is that they're not invited to parties or events, they aren't communicated with (how did phones become such a hassle? Texting is still basically Nigga Technology). Although to be fair, if you love the ladies, by default you love Cetera. Is my point getting through the pop culture? You're a douche if you delete Facebook. No one will talk to you. We don't have a choice anymore. If you want to truly enlighten yourself, in a live-in-an-ashram-in-India-sort of way, sure, get rid of Facebook. The rest of us will still be poking.

I'll leave you with one last anecdote here to consider, which is our future. I know a girl on Facebook who went on got herself preggers. What's fucked is that this kid's life, from conception (Wall Post from Random Dude: "Hey, fun night last night, so glad we didn't use rubbers!") to how everyone else found out (Wall Post from Friends: "Hey just heard the news, Congrats! Boy or Girl?!") to live status updates in delivery room to finally, picks of huge tummy then baby child, this kid's life will be on Facebook. Let that motherfucker sink in. This kid's life from Conception is on chronicled on Facebook, all stored on the Harddrives in Zuckerberg's underground mansion.

I think it's time for an Oppenheimer quote.

Here are some quick links for further reading, because you should think about this more:

Twitter, Facebook and Social Activism - New Yorker

OMG: brains can’t handle all our Facebook friends

Film Version of Zuckerberg Divides Generations

Will the Revolution Be Tweeted? Striking the Right Balance with Social Media

One last note, I had lost the links for a few of these articles but I know I had posted a few of them on Facebook so I trolled through my old Stati to find them. One of Facebook's many ironies. I'll also post this article on Facebook. Follow us!

21 December 2010

The Five Year Anniversary of The Juggernaut Bitch: Fun Memories, Memes and Swears

You know what a great way to rack up hits is? Neglect posting for three weeks then come back two fists swinging with in-depth analysis of fringe nerd pop culture from a half-decade ago. Hell yeah. Sometime around this day five years ago I first personally discovered what remains to be the single best use of YouTube besides advanced access to Kanye West videos, from My Way Entertainment, "The Juggernaut Bitch."

Please stay with me.

This was actually exceedingly difficult to find online for a while, which is astounding to me because this coupled with "Lazy Sunday" single-handedly launched YouTube into the mainstream. It's also ironic that Samberg and Parns' best SNL Viral Effort's original links are now also defunct. Not from the original source then I bring you this:

Oh yeah baby. That came out Five Years ago, do you believe it? I probably watched this every day for four months and even compiled a transcript which was lost when my computer exploded from porn.

What makes the vid work is a ridiculously simple premise actually executed pretty professionally. Besides the occasional crack-up the voiceover guys keep the vid flowing pretty well, typically establishing a great Black Stereotype for each major character that simultaneously ridicules some of the stranger parts of the X-Men cartoons ("I'm made out of Laffy Taffy, motherfucker"). It's got adult content galore but actually also exhibits a good knowledge of X-Men Lore which gains it instant geek cred.

It's a simple ploy, make as dirty as possible a children's cartoon. Almost every line is instantly quotable, a string of swears and inappropriate phrases.
"No but I'm 'bout to kill this bitch. I'm 'bout to fuck her in the head- blow her brains out because I'm the goddamn Juggernaut, bitch I'ma break ya in half!"
The Juggernaut is so insane in this, but the only thing changed is the audio. This means most of that insanity really is from him popping out of no where, knocking over walls and otherwise smacking everyone around. After a while even the other characters start criticising him ("Why do you always gotta scream everytime you come into the room?" / "What the fuck is wrong with you, Juggernaut?"). It's fitting that Gladiator ("Goliath") takes him down at the end, thus destroying his out of control ego. Really, Juggs has sort of a twisted version of his true comic personality. He's deservedly cocky and violent (though an eventual member of Excalibur), but fun-loving and proud of himself. He's more of a tool for greater evil but bears a strong resentment to half-brother Charles Xavier. "The Juggernaut Bitch" spins this wildly out of control.

Now I love this shit. I still think it's one of the funniest vids on YouTube. There were tons of sequels but none really captured this spirit. It's part of that theory that necessity breeds art - stay with me - the dudes behind this worked best when they were just having fun without expectation. It's a style that can never really be duplicated. The novelty of the juxtaposition of gangster language with kids' cartoons gets old pretty fast. For that one moment five years ago, we saw Internet Perfection that surpassed a lot of other terrible memes out there.

You see, the best part is that this actually got into X-Men: The Last Stand (2006).

So nutty, right? I still can't believe that got in there. Part of 2006's trend of always following what the internet wanted (see also, Snakes on a Plane [2006]), the scene is funny enough in an inexplicably English accent (what the hell, Vinnie Jones). I'll use this quick tangent to mention I've never hated a film more while looking forward more to the sequel.

Alright, back on track. I hate a lot of memes, they spin out of control without filter or context, which leads to a sharp decline in quality. It's not really enough to laugh for me, there needs to be some kind of substance behind these things. The Juggernaut Bitch transcends a lot of the bullshit by exhibiting a good length to develop some insane characters, twist, reflect and joke on specific X-Men tropes and provide a hilarious couple of one-liners. I did mention the Black Stereotyping which is a bit of a concern but it really serves the deep audio/visual tonal divide further than what could just be a minstrel show. There are also some characters explicitly not Black (Gambit, Banshee, Rogue all in terrible accents). The voice cast if I'm not mistaken is largely Black and Hispanic, which would seem to parody Gang Language and Culture rather than African-American stereotypes. You could very easily argue against this.

So what have we learned? Well, nothing really. I'm about to launch a fury of posts commemorating the end of the year so if you stay tuned I'll actually have a lot more than this around here.

Stay thirsty.

08 December 2010

On Facebook, Part I: History Lesson

Before I get into some juicy Facebook Ranting here, which has been stewing ever since I gazed upon Fincher's Bible I need to make a few comments:

1) I haven't posted much the past week because I'm trying desperately to make Fantasy Football Playoffs. The only team with more points that I had last week was the team I was playing against. That will not happen this week, not if Seattle's piss-poor run defense and my timely Brian Westbrook pickup have anything to do with it.

2) Why the hell is that Twilight Post I made last year one of the top posts of the week around here? Is it full of people seeking its degradation or fans looking for juicy info? Do Twilight Fans even read Internet Essays on their Franchise or just Google image search for Cedric Diggory (Sorry, I'm still getting ABC Family Harry Potter Weekend Events out of my mind)? The irony that surrounds either fanbase is still very entertaining to me - anti-Twilighters searching hard for Twilight Material or Twihards finding nothing to fuel their obsession.

Where the hell was I? Oh, Facebook. Facebook is dangerous.

The number one reason that Facebook really sucks is because we've started to base our lives around what a Drunk Harvard Sophomore thought would be cool. Yeah, I'm not going to rant here about the privacy issues, the exposure of stoner pics to potential employers or your creepy uncle wanting to be your friend and poking you every day. I'm much more concerned with how Facebook effects our actual lives.

Firstly, I'd say there are at least three separate generations of Facebook Users. The first Generation was about anyone who graduated College let's say Class of '06 to Class of '10. Anyone much older had attended classes without Internet Stalking for too long to really capture their interest, much younger people weren't in school yet for that first excitement. So now a personal history lesson:

Whoever's profile this is comes up first on a Google Search for Early Facebook. Lucky you.
I graduated Hiram College in Hiram, OH Class of Oh Eight. The first year Facebook was in existence was based primarily on exclusivity. The social networking site got a huge advantage over MySpace because it had stricter privacy controls that only allowed your college or friends from other colleges from viewing your shit. See, some of us back then still had brains and knew anything put on the internet would probably end up coming back to us. It spread to big schools first and then smaller institutions had to send tons of e-mails to the CEOs (who we later learned was Zuck) to appeal our campuses. This built insane hype, especially being at a smaller school while all my other friends rambled about how glorious this new fad was. Spring 2005 my campus got Facebook, we went nuts. So these kids I consider First Generation, the college kids who had at some point in their lives experienced Facebook when it was only on Campus.

Those were good days, actually. It was like Facebook was all ours. Actually it was primarily used to post Drunken Pics, stalk girls and conveniently plan parties. That's all I still use Facebook for, but it's potential has greatly expanded. There was this sense though that Facebook was "ours" you know, it's what separated us from wiener High School kids and worse than that, parents. Anytime your parents get into something like this it instantly becomes uncool. It's like hearing my dad say "I need to GTL, dawg." I can never watch Shore again. Unfortunately, on Facebook's warpath towards Global Ubiquity, that's exactly what happened.

Second Generation got into the party when Faceook expanded to High Schoolers. Ugh that sucked. Instead of being full of pot-smoking kids who faked reading Nietzsche you had pot-smoking kids who faked reading Nietzche AND watched Anime. Rough times. That adds such a terrible dimension to that stereotype really. Anyway, by getting kids earlier Facebook established itself in existence in its users lives by that many more years. It's like fucking smoking.

Actually my profile pic December 2006. So Creative.
So finally, there's everyone else. Facebook expanded to your boss, CBS news and your Grandmother. Facebook was like that cool bar that only you and your friends new about and loved it because you would be the only guys there, but then suddenly it was the coolest place to hang out and everyone's there. It's loud, crowded, people spilling drinks on you as they struggle to get to the bathroom. Sure the walls are the same and on Tuesdays there's enough room to play darts, but it's not the same. Actually, the same thing happened to Dane Cook. If you were a fan pre-Retaliation (2005) and pre-Waiting...(2006) you know exactly what I'm talking about. I'll stop the tangents in second.

So the point of these ramblings is simply thus that Facebook is now unescapable. A good argument among friends is now "Would it be better to own the Entire NFL or Facebook for the Next Ten Years." If you're older than 25 you might be tempted to say NFL, but if you're younger and pay attention you'll say Facebook.

Stay tuned dear readers, after the most Rambling Post in NMW history (not bloody likely) next time I'll get into more of our present dilemma. That is of course assuming Christopher Ivory and Jacoby Ford have good games this weekend.

01 December 2010

Profiles: The Exuberance and Swagger of Nicki Minaj

This has been coming for a bit but I feel like while this girl's exposure is peaking pretty well it was time we discuss the year Nicki Minaj-a-trois is having. In the past few months Nicki has established herself as possibly not only the greatest Female Rapper in history, but probably one of the Greatest Ever to Spit the Game. Well, that might be overstating things, but we certainly shouldn't hold back praise at this point due to gender, which in such a historically misogynistic art form could be a factor. She needs to continue her success to warrant such a title for sure, and she's notably been more often a featured artist than an Album artist so I might hold my tongue yet. But damn she's good. Let's check out some of her story:

2007 - 2009: Random Chick Years

Nicki's been kicking it around for a while, releasing mixtapes on tiny labels since 2007. In some of these early appearances she really doesn't appear special. Check out this track from 2008, "Warning." Yeah. Not good. The beat isn't innovative or interesting at all, her rapping seems laboured and the whole thing looks like it was shot in an afternoon with a camera full of tapes for AFV. There's not much here to lift her above other female rappers, in fact, there's little here to bring her to the level of established artists like Lil Kim or Missy Elliot (Damn female rappers are shitty. We need some "No Scrubs" back). Nicki's key would be to distinguish her talent above her contemporaries. You don't a Norwegian Morning Wood Profile by regurgitating the same shit.

Of course, this all about development, though. Her early mixtapes caught the attention of Lil Wayne and Young Money and as she kept pushing, her most popular mixtape, Beam Me Up Scotty and "Itty Bitty Piggy" secured her a spot in more mainstream eyes. Now, "Itty Bitty Piggy" is still a pretty shitty song so she had some work cut out for her. It's still a good step up from "Warning" though. Once she teamed with the full resources of Young Money and started to develop a more definite personality and style she could start to claim her Rap Queen Inheritance.

2010: The Bad Bitch is Queen

There was a point last month that saw Nicki Minaj part of seven separate songs on the Billboard Hot 100 list simultaneously, the only artist in history to do so. Holy fuck is this bitch everywhere now. How was she able to do so?

It helps that after Young Money displayed all of its artists in a single track Nicki showed them all up by far as the best part. It's typical of her featured tracks that you listen to waiting for her few bars. "Bed Rock" features Lil Wayne putting on clothes (what's the deal with him doing that in videos? That song is shit by the way, but the vid is pretty cool. Getting back on topic then:) but then not much else, Drake sucks, the rest of the crew is pretty forgettable. Nicki stood out by not only being by far the bustiest and only chick, but also having attention-grabbing vocal capabilities including a soft coo to side with a tight flow. It's very listenable.

From there she's been in so many songs this year. Her discography is almost solely 2010, and this has really been her time to shine. In terms of her best singles she showed up with Ludacris ("My Chick Bad"), Usher ("Lil Freak"), Trey Songz ("Bottoms Up"), Sean Kingston ("Letting Go [Dutty Love]" - perfect adoption of her native Trinidadian accent), Lil Wayne ("Knockout"). Notice how she's mostly paired up with traditional singers, not rappers. It's a gender reversal, the chick is rapping to fill in gaps left between the smooth hooks rather than the other way around. This is spectacular. It's such a fresh sound, hardly a girl before Nicki could handle this.

I'll single out "Bottoms Up" and "Knockout" out of this lot as pretty special tracks that get the Minaj treatment. She kills "Bottoms Up" doing things with her vocal chords previously thought impossible. The fast-style rapping blends with the outrageous crescendos which match in turn outrageous subject material. "Knockout" actually has a bit of pretty good guitar, is pretty tight lyrically (on Weezy and Nicki's parts) and showcases Minaj's capabilites to both sing and rap. I love when she breaks down part way through, there is a great contrasting sweetness and intensity here that drives home the meaning of the song:
Awwww fuck it!
Give me that damn bucket
Wh-when I throw this pussy
You better not start duckin'!
She's also the best parts of remixes of "5 Star Chick" (Actually Trina gives her a run for her money here, both girls outshine the pitiful boys), "Hello Good Morning," and "All I Do is Win" (Busta probably beats her here actually). Get enough of her pedigree yet? These aren't lightweight tracks, folks. This Random Chick holds her own against the biggest names in rap with a distinctive style that hangs so precociously on her voice. It rises and falls, goes as crazy as her face, high, fast and chill at the same time. She's sick. There's hardly a better character rapper out there, possibly Eminem (yeah, a Girl and White Guy are the best rappers right now [though Kanye probably makes the best beats and lyrics]). Holla.

Now, I mentioned loving Nicki's one solo hit "Your Love" this year all summer when it peaked its head in the Summer Jam Weekly Winners List (by the way, notice how I predicted "Bottoms Up" would be huge on August 9th). I also poured out love for the video here. Needless to say, I still love this song, the video is incredible, mostly for being a pretty anti-typical Nicki affair. She's calm, reserved and collected while maintaining a quality sing and rap flow in a distinctive style. It's hard to believe this album (her only one lifetime), Pink Friday only dropped a few weeks ago.

Quickly let's go over some shit: I'm not fan of "Massive Attack," "Up Out My Face" "2012 (It Ain't the End) or "Woohoo." "Romans Revenge" is worth a listen though and so is "Check it Out." Phew. Right then. Look those up on your own. Let's talk "Monster":

My favourite song off My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, "Monster" is an absolutely sick track. It's all about Nicki. She tells exactly what I could here - No Album out, underrated but she kills everyone. She's a motherfuckin monster. Kanye, Jay-Z, Rick Ross and Bon Iver don't perform poorly here but Nicki still manages to outshine the lot. She's just untouchable. She exhibits a vocal variation that adheres to the lyrical and attitude shifts that simultaneously incorporate the necessary string of swears, similes and hyperbole that is Rap.

Alright. 2010 has been an incredible year for this girl. She could have very easily been sidelined to a gimmick but instead she's established herself as one of the best of the year. Big boobs, funny grin and incredible flow. Here's to 2011.

Barbie, bitch.
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