The Funny Thing About Race in South Africa
It's 1948 and it's the first day of apartheid in South Africa. A jazzy tune is playing, the sun is shining and some white people are lying on blankets on a grassy embankment. A familiar sign pops up: "Whites Only." The camera pans onto a young black man who is taking his place on the lawn as a security officer approaches. "Apartheid? Ahhh, it's today?" he says, as he's being led off the screen. "Man, I thought it was next week."
"Welcome to the inaugural issue of Dagger & Dill. If it’s local, we love it. If it’s handmade, we fetishize it. If it’s old, we worship it. If it’s baked in a wood-burning oven, painted on a salvaged farmhouse door, or hand-engraved on a pewter cup, we dig it." With step-by-step plans for the perfect fall dinner party. ("Three hours before: Write out name cards for each jam at the jam-tasting station. Roast the vegetables, roll out the crust, and assemble the pot pie lovingly in a heavy cast iron pan. It must be cast iron.")
Suzdal awaited the Emperor's arrival... So the ancient Russian town had to acquire a duly imperial lustre, somehow, anyhow. [more inside]
A decade on, the Coen brothers' woefully underrated O Brother, Where Art Thou? [alt] is remembered for a lot of things: its sun-drenched, sepia-rich cinematography (a pioneer of digital color grading), its whimsical humor, fluid vernacular, and many subtle references to Homer's Odyssey. But one part of its legacy truly stands out: the music. Assembled by T-Bone Burnett, the soundtrack is a cornucopia of American folk music, exhibiting everything from cheery ballads and angelic hymns to wistful blues and chain-gang anthems. Woven into the plot of the film through radio and live performances, the songs lent the story a heartfelt, homespun feel that echoed its cultural heritage, a paean and uchronia of the Old South. Though the multiplatinum album was recently reissued, the movie's medley is best heard via famed documentarian D. A. Pennebaker's Down from the Mountain, an extraordinary yet intimate concert film focused on a night of live music by the soundtrack's stars (among them Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, Chris Thomas King, bluegrass legend Dr. Ralph Stanley) and wryly hosted by John Hartford, an accomplished fiddler, riverboat captain, and raconteur whose struggle with terminal cancer made this his last major performance. The film is free in its entirety on Hulu and YouTube -- click inside for individual clips, song links, and breakdowns of the set list's fascinating history. [more inside]
Larry Gonick is a veteran American cartoonist best known for his delightful comic-book guides to science and history, many of which have previews online. Chief among them is his long-running Cartoon History of the Universe (later The Cartoon History of the Modern World), a sprawling multi-volume opus documenting everything from the Big Bang to the Bush administration. Published over the course of three decades, it takes a truly global view -- its time-traveling Professor thoroughly explores not only familiar topics like Rome and World War II but the oft-neglected stories of Asia and Africa, blending caricature and myth with careful scholarship (cited by fun illustrated bibliographies) and tackling even the most obscure events with intelligence and wit. This savvy satire carried over to Gonick's Zinn-by-way-of-Pogo chronicle The Cartoon History of the United States, along with a bevy of Cartoon Guides to other topics, including Genetics, Computer Science, Chemistry, Physics, Statistics, The Environment, and (yes!) Sex. Gonick has also maintained a few sideprojects, such as a webcomic look at Chinese invention, assorted math comics (previously), the Muse magazine mainstay Kokopelli & Co. (featuring the shenanigans of his "New Muses"), and more. See also these lengthy interview snippets, linked previously. Want more? Amazon links to the complete oeuvre inside! [more inside]
"The Japanese Tradition" was a series of nine short, parody "How To" videos that gently mocked the formality of Japanese culture, from comedy duo Rahmens (ラーメンズ) and Japan Culture Lab. They're available on DVD, but nearly all of them can be seen on YouTube, including Sushi and Ocha (tea). [more inside]
It Made My Day: Little moments of WIN.
Sure you consider yourself a retro 8-bit gaming geek, but have you played Udon Boy in Ramen Land, or Kung Fu Psycho Rider? Don't feel bad, they're from Japanese culture store Meteor's annual Famicase, an exhibition of imaginary games.
Jon Swift, satirist blogger (previously on MeFi), has identified an important new school of film criticism. He calls it Derrièrism—since all schools of film criticism must have French names—and asserts that the main criteria a movie should be judged by is whether the viewer's ass shifts in his or her seat while watching it. He claims Derrièrism is on the rise, citing Andrew Breitbart's soon-to-be-launched Big Hollywood, a site that will include film reviews and criticism by thoughtful cinéastes like House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner, Minority Whip Rep. Eric Cantor, Reps. Thaddeus McCotter, Mary Bono Mack and Connie Mack, former presidential candidate Fred Thompson, MSNBC correspondent Tucker Carlson and conservative commentators Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and others. [more inside]
Culture en péril - In these Canadian election times and in response to the recent Culture cuts from Conservatives - three of the best Quebec talents in music, theater and humor join forces and hit back hard (lol) with a highly satirical imagining of the replacement program (captioned).
Comedy duo, Ramenz (ラーメンズ), aka Kobayashi Kentaro and Katagiri Jin, also known as the Japanese versions of Mac and PC, have recently done a number of shorts collectively called "The Japanese Tradition." Apparently, these tongue-in-cheek pseudo-instructional vids about famous aspects of Japanese culture (Tea, Chopsticks, Sushi, Origami, Apology, Onigiri, and Relationships) have been fooling a lot of non-natives into thinking they are actual guides. (YouTube, each approx 4-6 min).
When Iranian paper Hamshahri (in Persian) launched a contest for Holocaust cartoons, an Israeli group responded in turn with a contest of their own for cartoons that make fun of Jews. Too bad it closed yesterday, or the Dutch branch of the AEL could submit theirs. (WARNING: some of the linked content may be offensive to readers' ethnicities, cultures, religions, or tastes.)
The ashes of the recently deceased contains high amounts of nutrient rich phosphates, just perfect for sprucing up that garden of yours. On the iconic peaks of Scotland though Mountaineers have decided that enough is enough.
Don't Call Me Madam: The sad and crazy life of Ray Bourbon A pioneering drag comedian, friend of Mae West and an early independent recording artist, Ray was a deliberately enigmatic pop cult figure who may or may not have had a sex change operation in 1956. He was a frequent target of police raids and died in prison as a convicted accomplice to murder. "Ray’s comedy was, at once, highbrow and lowbrow, overtly Gay and covertly subversive. Despite his influence on Gays, he remained vague about his own sexuality."
Post No Bills. At the intersection of life and advertising one may unexpectedly find art, or at least humor. Henry Ho shines a light on it. (42 pages. Or view all thumbnails together)
Its real simple - break the rules with no consequences. Usually the crimes you commit are small - but the trick is that they can add up. I hate it when I am the victim of these little trangressions a lot. There must be a way to punish these mini-evil-doers. After playing with this idea for a long time I've come up with a name for it -- the "Squirt-gun offense".
The BBC is asking visitors of its news site to vote from a shortlist of the ten most embarrassing political moments. Visitors can watch a short film [real media] which shows all ten nominated moments (forgive the home-video moments style background muzak). There's some variety here: Tony Blair and Neil Kinnock in moments exhibiting a baffling degree of misguidedness, George W Bush and Kenneth Clarke in tight spots (figuratively and literally), while Charles Kennedy and John Prescott probably coming out of their situations looking better than they did beforehand. For me the most cringe-inducing clip is that of John Redwood, the then newly appointed Secretary of State for Wales, attempting to mime the Welsh national anthem. Genuinely difficult to watch.
"After all Law & Order has done for us, I feel it's the least I can do for Law & Order" Well it's about damn time! Yes, it's Law & Order:Artistic Intent. I dare say that Jerry Orbach hasn't looked this good since Dirty Dancing. Don't leave your kids out, they'll have a great afternoon with the Law & Order Coloring Book. I eagerly await a similarly themed L. A. Law or Hillstreet Blues exhibition.