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So Your Friends Don't Make Fun of You
May 25, 2011 6:16 AM   Subscribe

The AV Club feature Gateways to Geekery is all about the best places to start on some of pop culture's most complex and nuanced artists and genres, including Randy Newman, The Who, Monty Python, steampunk, Sherlock Holmes and 90 others.

Like TV better? A Very Special Episode is all about representative efforts of the best in television, including Freaks and Geeks, The Muppet Show, Blue's Clues and M*A*S*H.
posted by Apropos of Something (41 comments total) 55 users marked this as a favorite

 
"The Who looks like a disaster on paper, but achieved legendarily forceful results onstage and on record."

Spot on!
posted by punkfloyd at 6:21 AM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


steampunk is "complex and nuanced"?
posted by OmieWise at 6:24 AM on May 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


No Gilbert & Sullivan? Hmmph.
posted by orthogonality at 6:28 AM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


orthogonality: "No Gilbert & Sullivan? Hmmph."

I'd start here.
posted by Apropos of Something at 6:32 AM on May 25, 2011


Holy crap, these are fantastic. Thanks.

(I'm pretty certain they'll be working on a Doctor Who one; would love to see that. I completely agreed with their "where to start" advice for Tom Waits, Van Morrison, and X-Files.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:32 AM on May 25, 2011


Stuff white people like.
posted by contessa at 6:36 AM on May 25, 2011


I never really thought about The Who as a geek band but now that I think of it Townshend did some pretty damn nerdy things in between smashing his guitars. I wonder what sort of interactive things they'd do today if they were still around*.

*Yeah, I know two of them are and they might even be making music still but that ain't The Who.
posted by bondcliff at 6:36 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


....Although I disagree with their selection of "Thanksgiving" for the Northern Exposure Very Special Episode. "Kaddish for Uncle Manny" was much better, and I think its ending is one of the loveliest things I've ever seen on television.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:39 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is great. Nothing there I could disagree with. I'd add Rush as being one of the geekiest bands around.
posted by pretzel at 6:41 AM on May 25, 2011


Yeah, I know two of them are and they might even be making music still but that ain't The Who.

I hope they die before they get old.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:42 AM on May 25, 2011


I hope they die before they get old.

Too late.
posted by bondcliff at 6:43 AM on May 25, 2011


Man, I've got to start spending more time around the AV Club. People are always pointing out awesome things over there. Thanks for this.
posted by stennieville at 6:43 AM on May 25, 2011


I never really thought about The Who as a geek band but now that I think of it Townshend did some pretty damn nerdy things in between smashing his guitars.

He was pretty much the prototype art school geek rocker. He was really into people like Warhol and Lichtenstein and performance artists and wanted to bring a lot of that into rock music. The guitar smashing wasn't separate from that, it was part of it.
posted by octothorpe at 6:53 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Twilight Zone "gateway" isn't bad. I recently purchased all 150 episodes on DVD, and am slowly working my way through them. Of course, I saw so many of them (and The Three Stooges) as a kid.
posted by orthogonality at 6:54 AM on May 25, 2011


I recommend the J.G. Ballard "gateway." It really helped me get into the man's work. Their recommendations were totally spot-on.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 6:56 AM on May 25, 2011


I used to Capital-L Love The Who (I dressed up as John Entwistle for Halloween in my third year of university), but now that I'm creeping into middle age they just don't speak to me the same way they did when I was younger, angrier and couldn't get a date. This isn't a knock, just an acknowledgment that when it comes to the appreciation of art, personal context matters.

Same thing for Led Zeppelin; they'll always be awesome, but as awesome as they were when I was 18 and driving my parents' cube van out to my job at the golf course? Not a chance.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:57 AM on May 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


EeeeYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:06 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Really, no They Might Be Giants, really? Epic Fail.
posted by tommasz at 7:07 AM on May 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


No Gilbert & Sullivan? Hmmph.

Yet.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:17 AM on May 25, 2011


I looked at the alternate history one, which suggests 4 novels (none particularly recent), says not to bother with 4 others, and then ends with this: "Those looking for more of speculative fiction’s take on alternate history will find no shortage, though; for each of the books above, there are probably half a dozen that will work better." That's really not helpful.

Are the others more useful?
posted by jeather at 7:20 AM on May 25, 2011


I dressed up as John Entwistle for Halloween in my third year of university

Did this consist of standing still as a tree while everyone around you smashed shit and leaped in the air and screamed like wild animals?
posted by shakespeherian at 7:28 AM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


As they mention, Turtledove tends to be repetitive in his series, and in his stand-alone novels, if you know the real history he's basing it on, there's little suspense.

(E.g., In the Presence of Mine Enemies, putatively set in a history where Naziism won and a very few crypto-Jews remain in the Großdeutsches Reich, is really set in the USSR in 1991, with easily recognizable Gorbachev and Yeltsin figures. In the Southern Victory series, it's obvious who's going to fill the Hitler role (and what's going to happen to the minority the new Hitler hates) several books before it ever happens). It all gets a little formulaic, leading me to abandon the several of his series.)
posted by orthogonality at 7:35 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Personally I think the best introduction to Gilbert and Sullivan might be Mike Leigh's Topsy Turvy, although I realise it wasn't a completely serious question - the film tells you something about the lives and milieu and methods of G&S and presents their most popular work relatively unadorned but (IMHO) beautifully. I do wish Leigh had made a complete film of the Mikado while he was at it.

The effect their English-language operetta had on the development of musical theatre and popular music was huge.
posted by Grangousier at 7:36 AM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think just seeing Pinafore is an excellent introduction.
posted by orthogonality at 7:42 AM on May 25, 2011


man, I thought for a second that the lead was Gary Numan. And I was all excited to find out that there might be someone out there at the top of a list of geek cultural touchstones. I mean, Randy Newman's great and all, but he's not praying to the aliens or anything...
posted by kaibutsu at 7:53 AM on May 25, 2011


The Sherlock Holmes piece is quite good; I'm happy for recommendations of novels that riff off of the originals. (Was in LOVE with Jeremy Brett as SH when I was 12, esp after getting the complete Sherlock Holmes story collection as a Christmas present.)

I'm enjoying skimming through these, both to get more out of topics I don't know well, and to think about/quibble with the ones I do. (One of my favorite MotW X-Files episodes is the one with the creepy clones/twins, sad not to see it get a mention.)
posted by epersonae at 8:18 AM on May 25, 2011


I'd add Rush as being one of the geekiest bands around.

You know, even after seeing the completely excellent and delightful career-spanning documentary Beyond The Lighted Stage.... I still have to agree with you.
posted by hippybear at 8:28 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow. That's like the syllabus to my marriage.
posted by JoanArkham at 8:48 AM on May 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Folks saying "What? No _______?", keep in mind this is an ongoing series. You can always lobby for your favorite personal geekery.

No, I don't work for AV Club. Just annoyed by pointless comments.
posted by me3dia at 9:12 AM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


> Did this consist of standing still as a tree while everyone around you smashed shit and leaped in the air and screamed like wild animals?

Hey, I said I dressed up like him, not acted like him.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:30 AM on May 25, 2011


One can be geeky about new jack swing? Is it replacing yacht rock as a hipster touchstone or something?
posted by acb at 9:31 AM on May 25, 2011


most complex and nuanced artists and genres, including ... Randy Newman?

odd choice. I would expect something more like Zappa or Beefheart, of whom I know less than Newman. I suppose we all have our blind spots...

Folks saying "What? No _______?", keep in mind this is an ongoing series. You can always lobby for your favorite personal geekery.

No, I don't work for AV Club. Just annoyed by pointless comments.


that's the thing. stuff like this is highly subjective, perhaps too highly suggestive to make thing like this super worthwhile, unless you're on the same wavelength as your host.

just an acknowledgment that when it comes to the appreciation of art, personal context matters.

yeah.

I disagree with their Timequake assessment. I had read 7-8 novels before I read Timequake, but I think it would be a fine introduction to a surveyor.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:38 AM on May 25, 2011


Man this would've come in handy in that Tegan-Sarah-Tyler-Creator thread.
posted by klarck at 10:00 AM on May 25, 2011


For my part, I think the P-Funk article uses the wrong starting point. Mothership Connection is pretty great, and a classic for sure, but I've always had a hard time listening to the whole thing in one sitting because the funk is just so....rich, it's like trying to eat an entire cheesecake. When I really started to get into P-Funk, it was because of early Funkadelic records like Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow, Funkadelic, and Maggot Brain. Personally I would reverse the order they have in their article, as those albums will probably be an easier transition given that so many people are already familiar with 60s guitar rock like Jimi Hendrix and these albums are not far removed from that while slowly easing the you into the funk.
posted by Hoopo at 10:30 AM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hmm. I feel like their steampunk entry is sorely missing Swanwick's The Iron Dragon's Daughter. Maybe they feel that SF is explicitly a form of SF, not of fantasy, and thus dismiss it for being full of faeries and elves? Although they namecheck Méiville. I would also add in Phil and Kaja Foglio's wonderful comic epic Girl Genius.
posted by egypturnash at 10:37 AM on May 25, 2011


Also, having read through a fairly large number of the entries and finding myself nodding in agreement, it seems that I am truly a geek.
posted by Hoopo at 11:07 AM on May 25, 2011


Awesome. I've liked this series, but somehow missed this one.
posted by brundlefly at 11:43 AM on May 25, 2011


Neat series. The entry on Dub music reminded me that I've always wanted to search out more of it, and now I have some good suggestions to track down.
posted by mmmtofu at 1:07 PM on May 25, 2011


mrgrimm: "I disagree with their Timequake assessment. I had read 7-8 novels before I read Timequake, but I think it would be a fine introduction to a surveyor."

I haven't read Timequake since it came out, so I may not be remembering well, but it struck me very much as a bitter old man writing out his last rants (and writing himself into his universe, and arguing with his characters, right?).

I still loved it because I love the man, but it doesn't seem like a good introduction to his books. It's like recommending a Bible student start with the Revelation. Sure, that's where shit gets raw, and it's undoubtly interesting, but it's not really a good indication of the rest of the work.
posted by team lowkey at 3:30 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I spend as much time on the AV Club as I do on MeFi. Username is the same there too.
I wish they'd do a Primer or GtG to Micheal Moorcock. I'd help write it...
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:37 PM on May 25, 2011


I spend as much time on the AV Club as I do on MeFi. Username is the same there too.
I wish they'd do a Primer or GtG to Micheal Moorcock. I'd help write it...
Man this would've come in handy in that Tegan-Sarah-Tyler-Creator thread.

AVC covers them enough.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:39 PM on May 25, 2011


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