Pachydermatous Outer Melon Layer

Ricky Jay died this weekend. If you have the time, I strongly recommend you read this New Yorker profile of him from 25 years ago.

If you don’t have the time, I strongly recommend that you watch him throw playing cards at a watermelon.

If you want to learn how to do that, you will have to pay for it.

A delightful man, unsurpassed at his craft, who evidently hated kids. I never met him, but I will miss him.

Snowpiercer is the Sequel to Willy Wonka

Normally this kind of fan theory stuff ranges somewhere from uninteresting to mildly annoying for me. I can’t tell you how tired I am of my son bringing up that Darth Jar-Jar thing. But this is delightful.

It also stands as a good example of what analysis of pop culture can do if it’s done right and isn’t just The Church of Bazinga. The sequel theory itself is clever and diverting, but under the surface of this video lurks a really perceptive critical analysis and comparison of what these two films say about the world in which they were made.

Also: HUGE spoilers of Snowpiercer, which, if you haven’t seen it, you should, and if you didn’t like it, you were of course wrong.

Pilotless DRONE, SIR?

This baby’s got range. Early on in the video you’ll see that it shoots both London AND France.

Stay for the sweet-ass clubhouse landing.

...and Peggy [thhbbpppt]

Weird Al has managed to simultaneously hit a very specific intersection of my interests while creating the perfect musical representation of what it sounds like inside an ADHD-addled brain.

Leaving LA

I know he isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and a 13-minute acoustic song with no chorus certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I’ve probably listened to this song more than any other single track in 2017.

Choosing “Pure Comedy” for the album’s title track was the right pick, as it's essentially the thesis statement for what follows. But it feels like this was the one he tore himself open for.

Listening to FJM is kind of like reading Vonnegut. There’s a constant thread of simultaneous contempt and love for our species. He sees that we’re hideous and beautiful all at once, and he doesn’t flinch from it. He sings to it.

Sometimes the cynicism on this album goes a bit overboard. I have to be careful about how often I listen to it, because optimism doesn’t come easily for me these days. But when I listen to it, I feel a little less alone in beholding the inherent absurdity and savagery of our existence and not knowing what to do.

Jesus made "It Follows" extra creepy

Discovered that the remotes for the TV and the sound bar sometimes set off the LED tape I used for my antique church window project in certain contexts. It does creative things with the color setup. This is what happened after my wife patiently requested that I turn down the subwoofer.

They're two different remotes but from the same manufacturer, so either they use the same frequency or else the IR receiver for the LED tape is super slutty.

Or it was a poooooltergeiiiiiiiist

Massive cock-up

10 minutes of newscasters, sportscasters, and meteorologists accidentally drawing dicks.

The hockey guy's combination of poker face and commitment to the bit should earn him an SNL guest appearance at least.

Poignant piano covers of "Where Is My Mind" in TV shows, ranked

  1. The Leftovers: Used to decent effect as a motif, dovetails almost seamlessly with the show's main musical theme, supplemented with the original recording for contrast
  2. Mr. Robot: Obvious hat tip to Fight Club from a show that owes a giant debt to Fight Club, was a nice wink and a nod
  3. Crazyhead: Used as a brief backdrop to a mental health scene and quickly dropped, uses the lyrics, which makes it a bit on-the-nose-y

This trend, like overwrought covers of "Hallelujah", is a kinda-hack thing that I still kinda like because I'm a sap.

But the best non-standard cover is still THePETEBOX.

The Dark Side of the That's-No-Moon

The first eight minutes of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" synced with Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon". They say the whole movie works. Of course, they also say that Slender Man is real.

This is the best one of these I've seen since they did it with "The Wizard of Oz", which is a better thematic fit if you think marijuana is great. As many Slender Man people do.

We talk about story beats, particularly in sequential art stories like movies and comics, and it's not just a metaphor. Language itself is inherently musical, regardless of whether you speak a tonal language, and stories themselves are often most satisfying when they have a musical-ish structure. On the flip side, even "Add It Up" by the Violent Femmes feels like a three-act play to me.

So while I don't think there's anything grand lurking here, there is probably something in our instinctive pull towards certain rhythms and changes in stories and conversations just like in music, the way most popular music was built on a handful of chord progressions.

If I had fuck-you money and an attention span worthy of the name, I'd start randomly pairing concept albums with movies just to see how often I get a decent hit. I bet it would be statistically significant, but then again something this subjective just screams confirmation bias.

There is crazy magic in our stupidly repetitive and predictable brains. Hell, sometimes even I think Slender Man could be real.

Freak Yo Mind, Yo Ass Will Follow

In the spirit of Halloween, I offer you this video of me getting freaked the eff out on a ghost-hunting trip at the abandoned Arkansas State Tuberculosis Sanitorium. Courtesy of my friend David Koon.

(One note: This was filmed using infrared cameras and IR lights, so everything looks nice and bright. In reality, it was pitch black in there. You could hardly see anything.)