Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Advice For Your Next Staff Meeting


Just because I work on an animated cartoon doesn't mean it's all fun and games around the office. We still have very important staff meetings, and thanks to the example set by my coworkers, I'm learning a great deal about how things work.

Here's some advice for your next staff meeting:
  • If a tardy coworker is trying to enter a meeting without being disruptive, it's best to announce their presence by making little trumpet noises with your mouth.
  • Do not indulge in "pity laughter" when somebody tries to lighten the mood. Instead, acknowledge their attempt at humor by enthusiastically saying "oh, laughter!"
  • The higher the volume of your voice, the more people know you care about whatever you're saying. This applies both in and out of the board room.
  • If two coworkers start to talk over each other, it's helpful to select the quieter one and say to him "shut your mouth. You shut your mouth right now."
  • Everybody in the room may think they're the most important member of the team, but it's actually you. Yes, you.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

You Look Like A Tramp

According to the LA Times, a recent fashion show heavily used Charlie Chaplin's "Little Tramp" character and his film "Modern Times" for inspiration, landing the whole thing somewhere between "ridiculous" and "awesome." The slideshow is worth a peep.
The article speculates that fashion designer John Gailliano actually aims at making a statement about our own modern times through his use of the Tramp. More interestingly, it seems to fit in with a current trend in the world of high fashion- the use of "post-industrial" backdrops and themes.

Is the prevalence of these gritty, concrete spaces intended as commentary on the state of the industry or simply a matter of cheaper venues?

It's probably a little bit of both.


I like that Chaplin was mined for both his political commentary and his knack for creating a visually striking "look" for himself. I could write more about how much I respect this man, or about how the first time I ever fell out of my seat from laughter was at a Chaplin short, but I think I'd rather let him "speak" for himself.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Justified on FX: The Slow Burn

I started watching Justified for the exact same reasons I started watching Sons of Anarchy (another show on FX); it had a cast I admired and it was free on Hulu. Unlike Sons of Anarchy, Justified initially had the feel of a procedural show: there's a different redneck crime every week, from which we learn a little bit more about the core characters and their past. But somewhere halfway through the season that formula drifts away. Eventually the characters and the rising tensions between them take center stage, and that's where this show delivers.

Compared to Sheriff Bullock on Deadwood, Marshall Raylan Givens seems almost light-hearted. Both are played by Timothy Olyphant, who's got a knack for portraying steely lawmen who tend to get too caught up in their own righteousness.


Walton Goggins steals the show as Boyd Crowder, a character who proves to be more complex than I first assumed. Spending his life living in the shadow of his crime-lord father (played by M.C. Gainey, a bear of a man best known as Tom Friendly on Lost), Crowder ends up in prison after blowing up a church with a rocket launcher. Once he's out, he claims to have found Jesus and quickly amasses several misfit followers, promising to lead them to their salvation through actions like blowing up his father's meth labs. Does he want to take over the family business, or does he truly want to purge his town of it's poisons? In the kick ass season finale, Boyd himself admits he might not even be sure.

A few similarities can be drawn between this show and Sons of Anarchy: both have redneck villains, both deal with outlaws and crime families, etc. More interestingly, they both display a "slow burn" approach to television that you don't see very often. They take their time warming up, but steadily build to a raging fire. Characters are casually set up and played off each other, inching the plot along, until you don't realize you're actually neck-deep in it.

Twi-hards


I knew that Twilight was taking over the minds of impressionable young tweens, but I had no idea how many middle-aged women were obsessed. From the LA Times article:

"My husband finally came to me and said, 'I think you love "Twilight" more than you love me,' " says Johnson, who had become especially attached to the community she'd found online. "I ended up moving out of the house and fought for my marriage for six weeks. I had to take a step back and detox myself from 'Twilight.' I was really angry that I had allowed it to suck me in. Now I meet women every single day where 'Twilight' has become a major issue in their marriage."

The article briefly explores a few theories as to why this franchise has captured the hearts of so many ladies, but I think they left out an important point: Edward is the least threatening sex symbol in the history of pop culture. Yeah, he's a vampire, but it's made very clear that he's a hero because he's doing the best he can to stay away from Bella. He can't even touch her without feeling terrible about it. Edward proves daddy wrong every time he said "be careful around those boys, they're only interested in one thing."

The article then closes with this disturbing thought:

"If you take away 'Twilight' and put in a football team, this doesn't look so much different from what guys have been doing for decades," says Baym. "They stay up late at night looking at statistics and playing fantasy football. You could just as easily say they've lost touch with reality or that they're addicted. 'Twilight' is just a story women are engaging with passionately, so people say it's dysfunctional. On the other hand, maybe men's relationship with football is dysfunctional as well."

In other words: women have finally found a way to be as lame as men. Good for them.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Big Caption

Check out The Big Caption. a combination of pictures and large text. Sometimes silly, sometimes serious, always visually pleasing.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Only Way I'll Watch "The Big Bang Theory"

The Hulk Hands Theory (short version) from nunub on Vimeo.


Janelle Monae


Pretty great write up in the LA Times, not just about this genre-bending album, but about the Wondaland Arts Society, which sounds like every artist's dream come true.


That's what the Wondaland Arts Society is all about — creativity emerging in unexpected ways as people free themselves from fixed roles and presumptions. Monáe embodies this spirit; "The ArchAndroid" expresses it. And now it's up to the world to take it on.

"Whatever celebrity they achieve will be built on being unclassifiable," said writer-mentor Greg Tate, "which in the long run is where you want to be … free to be freaky as you wanna — like George Clinton and David Bowie in their primes."

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Portrait of an Oil Company Capitalist

Today's Inspiration Blog posted a neat series of informational advertisements from the 1940s. The ads were commissioned by Union Oil Company to combat people's perception of greedy oil tycoons, placing the blame for thriving capitalism squarely on us, the average consumer. It's a pretty convincing "I know you are, but what am I?" and provides some interesting context for what I like to call "the oil woopsy" of today.


The Music Scene

"The Music Scene" from Anthony Francisco Schepperd on Vimeo.


Mind = blown.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Epic Mickey


I'm pretty sure this game was made with me in mind.

They're doing everything right. Even down to the model of Mickey they're using. Pie-eyed Mickey was a sassy drunk, regular-eyed/pink-faced Mickey was too suburban and domesticated, but black-eyed/white-faced Mickey totally went on crazy adventures (in both the animated cartoons and the Floyd Gottfredson comics). He's absolutely the one you want for a video game.

And whoever though of bringing back Oswald the Lucky Rabbit is a nerd after my own heart.

Apparently they refer to the villain as "The Blot," which is most likely a reference to "The Phantom Blot," a thief bent on world domination in one of Gottfredson's comics (somehow you buy Mickey Mouse in a Raymond Chandler-esque mystery the whole way). These guys know what they're doing.

Finding Patterns


I thought this was a super interesting video, particularly since I just watched the Rubicon pilot. This guy loves to speak tangentially, one of the more interest asides relating to why comedians think they're funnier when on drugs.

Watch it and feel smarter!


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

the downplayer

If you like your music snobbery-free, The Downplayer is the site for you. They'll post everything from Arcade Fire to Katy Perry, without even a sentence of passing judgement. It's a diverse grab-bag, served up fresh every day, instantly downloadable. They usually have at least one cover or remix, which is always a fun time.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Delta Spirit

A couple of nights ago I went to see Delta Spirit at the Independent. I’d only been listening to their stuff for a week, but the live footage I'd come across was promising enough to make me buy a ticket:

Delta Spirit - Trashcan from La Blogotheque on Vimeo.


I'd heard that they liked to play trash cans on stage, a la STOMP, which my grandmother once took me to see. She was the kind of woman who liked crafting paper-maché flowers while discussing Borges; I used to play with a goddamned abacus when I was bored at her house. I don't know where she got the idea of taking me to see a musical that was all about hitting pieces of sheet metal with hammers, but bless her for trying to be hip and with it.

Anyway, Delta Spirit. The only clip I can find of the show right now is this one:

The crowd was 100% into it, except for a few bricks who refused to dance. At once point the leader singer yelled, "Get off your fucking Blackberry and move your ass," --a sentence that should be emblazoned in neon above the entranceway of every concert venue in America. People who text during concerts: if you're within twenty feet of the stage, the band can see the bright white light of your phone screen, so keep it in your pants. Let a message go unread for an hour. Constant communication is not intimacy, OK?! This is the kind of shit that makes me want to be a Luddite cave-dweller. Yes, I'm ignoring your phone calls. End tantrum.

Back to the band: people (whoever they are) say Matt Vasquez, the lead singer, sounds like Dylan. People also say that Kristian Matsson (AKA The Tallest Man on Earth) sounds like Dylan. By the power of deductive logic, Vasquez sounds like Matsson. But no, it doesn't work like that. Maybe the problem is that every white man with a guitar owes something to Dylan. And The Beatles. And Paul Simon. At this point, the comparisons are moot.

I'll end with a sweet acoustic version of "Children." Let's all pause and appreciate how attractive Vasquez is, even from the dreaded d-chin angle.

Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh


I saw a super-shortened version of the above commercial today. Here's how it went:

Man enters kitchen, sees sandwich on plate. Man slices off pieces and eats them. Cut to shot of Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh Shaved Ham Slices and voice-over about how great they taste. Cut back to man, now standing next to a woman who is holding the sandwich on the plate. "I love you," he says. She nods.

the abbreviated commercial leads me to believe that the sandwich was waiting for him all along, thus the "I love you" comes from a place of pure joy, due to the delicious sandwich she's presenting him! It's the perfect couple, albeit pretty awkward in their social dealings and meal-time rituals!

But things change when you add that moment where he establishes that the sandwich belongs to the woman ("you gonna eat all that?") in the longer version. As it turns out, he's nothing but a sneaky little fuck who thinks his girlfriend won't notice that he took several bites from her sandwich. You don't do that. You don't do that to someone's sandwich.

He even swapped out the original plate for a smaller one. If she was indeed stupid enough for this to work, the commercial would have ended something like this:

Woman walks in. Looks at significantly smaller sandwich on significantly smaller plate. Woman freaks the fuck out: "Honey, our kitchen is shrinking! Our kitchen is shrinking!" Man enters and tries to mask his chuckles, as woman shakes in fear uncontrollably.

Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh: she'll never know!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cars


I don't understand those novelty plastic scrotums that people attach under the back of their cars. What are you trying to say with that? Do you want me to imagine your car having sex? Because now that's all I'm thinking about. More importantly, if we get into an accident because I rear-end you, would it be considered rape?

People with those car balls are probably people who loved the Pixar film Cars. I'm pretty sure in the world of that movie, cars procreate like humans. It's the only explanation. There aren't any people around to build the cars, because everybody is a car in that movie. There are little bugs shaped like cars, there are cars watching other cars race each other, etc. It makes no sense.

Toy Story works so well because it's somewhat based in reality, the concept being: "when you leave the room, your toys come alive and have crazy adventures!" Cars has nothing like that. But they could fix that simply by adding one last shot at the end: we see the cars drive into the sunset past a half-buried Statue of Liberty, their balls flapping in the wind. It was earth all along!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Facts About Thor




Thor is a superhero from another dimension called Asgard, which is a place where Norse mythology and future space technology combine. How does he travel from dimension to dimension? He crosses "the rainbow bridge," of course! It's a big bridge made out of a rainbow that stretches all throughout space! Oh, and the dimension we humans live in is called Midgard, in case I haven't lost you by now.

Powers: Thor is technically a god, I think. Or he's just from another dimension and therefore god-like to the rest of us. He speaks like he's improvising a Shakespearian play, all the time. He has beautiful golden hair. He also controls lightning using a hammer named Mjolnir. Nobody else can use its powers, not even lift it. Thor's just that special and strong. But he can't fly like most superheroes. Instead, he swings Mjolnir around until he's created enough momentum to fling it in the direction he wants to go and hold on tight! He can hurl himself pretty far, that way! He's also generally impressed by that human trait called "compassion," and it's the main reason he hangs around Midgard.

Back story: His father is Odin, ruler of Asgard. Sometimes Odin has to recharge his batteries and enter what's called "the Odinsleep." He sleeps for a very long time, so that's when the Frost Giants decide to attack! Could it be that they're led by Loki, Thor's evil and swarthy brother, a master of black magic? Worse yet, could it be that Loki has teamed up with The Enchantress, a sultry sorceress who likes to make people halucinate? And if she's involved, you can bet that The Executioner will be there! He's beefy and carries around a magical axe and loves to kill shit, and has a totally secret crush on the Enchantress.

Upcoming Film: Starring Chris Hemsworth, who played Kirk's dad who dies in the first ten minutes of Star Trek. Co-staring Anthony Hopkins as Odin and Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, a human lady EMT that shows lots of that human compassion thing that Thor digs.

The Big Question: How will director Kenneth Branagh give this extremely silly character a gritty/contemporary update? I have no idea, but dressing him up like a Vegas magician definitely doesn't help.


Ratatat LP4

Ratatat's new album is a hot sticky jam. Preview it here before it comes out on the 8th.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

French Animators Make Me Happy

Salesman Pete Trailer from Salesman Pete on Vimeo.


I really like it when CG gets exaggerated, stylized, and overall cartoony. There seem to be a lot of French animation students doing that, particularly ones from the Gobelins school (but not these guys, apparently they dropped out in order to do this film "their own way." Why can't this fun trend make it to the States?

Amid Amidi (the bad cop to Jerry Beck's good cop over at Cartoon Brew) puts it best: saying that this trailer "puts to shame the bland indistinguishable visual styling that dominates all mainstream computer animated features nowadays."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cops Are Terrible


As reported by the LA Times, the LAPD officers who kicked at the passing bicyclists and then wrestled a camera-holding witness to the ground are now "relieved of field duty" while investigations are launched. It's a small victory, and it came from a small act that represents something happening on a large scale: cops are terrible.

There's a good chance you went to high school with some cops. They were those dudes who grouped together, bonding over their shared love for words like "faggot" and "pussy." But now they're grown up, and somehow they passed enough tests to carry guns around.

A while back, Matt Schwartz and I were caught jaywalking, which is totally illegal. Instead of a simple scolding (or even a citation) from the approaching cops, they sped toward us in their car in an effort to make us believe they'd run us over. When they got out of the car, the two cops were smoking fat cigars, which is exactly what you need to do if you want me to think you're repulsive and assume you spend your free time in strip clubs. They asked for our I.D.

"What's your address?" One asked me.

"It's there, on the card," I said to him. His bleary eyes darted up at mine.

"You being a smart ass? You want to get a ticket for being a smart ass with a cop?"

"No," I stammered, "I really thought that was helpful." I might have even used the word "succinct," because I'm an idiot. "I was just trying to give you a succinct answer, sir."

"Are those cigars?" Matt asked with amazement. Unfortunately, we're both idiots. "You guys are smoking cigars? Really?" We were on the same page; the entire scenario was too trite for us to be certain it was actually happening.

"You can go," the cop said dismissively. Was it because we weren't instantly dazzled by their authority? Or because we found their representation of law enforcement laughably on the nose? We may never know, but one thing's for sure: I wish I had a camera on me.

Gardyn by Pogo


Remember those crazy cool videos that remix clips from movies like Alice in Wonderland, Willy Wonka, and Up and turn them into upbeat tunes? This time the footage was captured explicitly for that purpose (all from his mother's garden, apparently), as opposed to from a previously existing film. And it's still crazy cool.

Oh, what the heck. Let's put the Hook one here too.