phamos: (brain poison)
This is a placeholder for the eventual post to come about how ridiculous it is to write a book that depends entirely on a convincing definition of "fascism" that ENTIRELY SKIPS OVER THE YEARS 1922-1943 IN ITALY UNDER MUSSOLINI. I mean, that's just STAGGERING. "Let's write a book about fascism but not mention what actually HAPPENED UNDER FASCIST RULE!" That's pretty much the most intellectually dishonest move I've ever seen in a piece of historical writing -- and I've read the whole neocon canon, so that's saying something!

I would like to rant about this further, but I must go to sleep. So I will try to post a longer rant tomorrow that will also discuss Jonah Goldberg's complete lack of irony and possibly a comparison of Sorel's "myth" with Plato's "noble lie" and Leo Strauss and Abram Shulsky and OSP/intelligence gathering/nous blah blah blah. Possibly. But probably not, because I haven't actually read any Sorel and that would make me as intellectually bankrupt and disingenuous as Mr. Goldberg -- probably I'll just post more rants about my cat's effect on my sinuses, or a deconstruction of the recent South Park parody of Heavy Metal, wherein I try to decipher how much of the boob-scenery was actually in the original movie. (I really should have watched more Bakshi while I was at Kim's.)

Also, Weeds is a good show. Romany Malco is hot -- but I think he might be kinda crazy in real life. That's the impression I got from the 40-Year-Old Virgin commentary track -- and obviously I should base all my judgments of human beings on how they come off when being peppered with vulgarisms by Seth Rogan.
phamos: (frazzle)
I don't remember if I mentioned this back when Old School Sesame Street Volume 1 came out, but I remember being shocked by it and am glad other people were, too: The DVD has a disclaimer saying that it is meant for adults and might not be suitable for "the needs of today's preschool child." So all the kids that grew up watching Sesame Street between 1969 and 1979 (the years covered by the two available sets) have been horribly mind-warped? Whew! Glad I just missed the cutoff. I'm sure volume three will be totally acceptable. After all, Elmo arrived in 1984. He'll make everything alright.
phamos: (gonzotwirl)
The new Sesame Street Old School DVD set includes "Me and My Llama". I was so pleased to see this I went "YAAAAAAAAAY!" really loud and freaked out the cat. There's never been a good quality rip of "Me and My Llama" on YouTube, so I had not enjoyed this in its full glory since I was a little kid. What a lovely surprise. Happy, happy, happy.
phamos: (letmebeyoursong)
The five most perfect things created or performed by Jim Henson, in no particular order:

1. The Muppet Frog Prince. A lot of people may never have seen this, and it has yet to get a DVD release. I had the album...in fact, I think we had TWO copies of the album, for some reason. It is one of three "Tales from Muppetland" that Henson did in the late '60s-early '70s, and it is perfectly wonderful and terrible entertaining through to the very end. (Although the prince that Robin turns into is disappointingly un-hot.)

2. The Harry Belafonte episode of the Muppet Show. I have raved about this on here before, so I will simply say that it is funny, uplifting, and completely beautiful -- the puppets created for the final number were the first puppets Henson did (or, actually, Faz Fazakas did, probably) that pushed the boundaries, as far as puppets-as-art, or puppets-as-cultural-commentary. And watching Fozzie almost crack Harry Belafonte up singing the Banana Boat song makes me happy.

3. The Dark Crystal. The Dark Crystal. The Dark Crystal. I just ordered the anniversary edition of this (which will be the third DVD iteration I have purchased -- damn them with their all-new interviews with Brian Froud and Kathryn Mullen and Brian Henson!), and I'm prepared to cry like a baby, as I do every time. "Heal the crystal."

4. "Dance Myself to Sleep", on Sesame Street. The rhythms of this song and sketch (including Frank Oz-as-Bert improving various staccato bursts of woe as sheep carry him out of his apartment) are permanently lodged in my brain. Runners up for Sesame Street sketches would be "Be My Echo" (Grover and Madeline Kahn) and "The Rhyming Game" (More Ernie and Burt, culminating in the brilliant line "Hey there lamp, that's a nice shade!...you.")

5. The Minstrel song on Fraggle Rock. Beautiful. (Fraggle Rock runners up are Red and Boober, trapped in a rock collapse, singing "The Friendship Song", and "Come and Follow Me" which was in the first episode and has beautiful harmonies by the two most underrated muppeteers -- Jerry Nelson and Dave Goelz.)
phamos: (fenton)
There's a new box set of Gumby shorts coming out in September. Given that lyrics from the original theme song are on the cover, one would hope that means the original theme song will be restored to the cartoons. All of the other (really crap) Gumby DVD releases had the shitty 80s version. IMHO, if the words "He was once a little green slab of clay" or "pony pal Pokey" are not included in the theme song, it's not a real Gumby cartoon. Hell, the theme song is often the only good thing about some of those shorts. Well, and Goo, and the Blockheads. They make everything better.
phamos: (flat albert)
Things I have learned from watching the Larry Sanders Show today:

1) Both Garry Shandling and Janeane Garofalo have either had bad face-lifts or just MASSIVE amounts of botox. Janeane's forehead makes the baby Jesus cry.
2) Garry Shandling and Sharon Stone were apparently an item in the early 80s. Dear God, the interview section between the two of them in the extras is so raw and intimate I felt dirty watching it.
3) Jon Stewart and David Duchovny were at maximum peak hotness in 1995, and were kind enough to show it off in the same episode with one another. Good lord, I remember now why I had such crushes on both of them!
4) Garry Shandling is, I think, a deeply unhappy man.
phamos: (regent)
OHMAHGAW! It's up on Amazon! That means it's real, right? I don't have to watch my crappy bootleg with the Spanish menus anymore? Well if that don't just make me want to...invent silent drape runners and sing crappy new age music with my dead friend's identical cousin!

Albert is thrilled that the dharma came to King Hohoho...
phamos: (12th level)
WKRP in Cincinnatti is coming out on DVD. I have never once watched this show, but word on the street was that it would be impossible to put it out because of all the music clearances. So they can put out this, but MTV can't get its act together with Daria and The State? Bogus. Both Daria and The State would sell better than WKRP, I'd betcha.
phamos: (commence)
Ha ha ha haaaa! The Complete Goofy DVD sold for $71! I just made $50 without doing a damn thing! Thank you, Kim's video buyers, for being dumb as rocks!

I finally went to see Borat last night after work. It was hilarious, but not as earth-shatteringly amazing as some reviews (*coughjuddapatowcough*) made it out to be. I WAS amused that they showed a preview for the new Mel Gibson movie before a movie that's largely about people's hidden prejudices coming out when their guard is down.

spoilers...high five! )
phamos: (nerd)
I went to Mondo today after work on my way to eat a lonely dinner at Banjara by myself. I briefly browsed through their used DVDs and came across my personal holy grail of used DVD box sets: The Complete Goofy, still in its collectible tin! For $19.99!

I spent $45 on a copy of this damn thing that WASN'T even still in the tin. I just put it up on eBay for a starting price of $35 and a buy-it-now of $65, and I don't doubt I'll get some good bids.

You'd think for all the touting of Kim's clerks as these DVD buffs, the DVD buyers would know what things are out of print and what aren't. (Apparently they need a TV-and-Animation-DVD geek like me around after all...) And the poor sap who sold it to the store for less than $10! Damn shame.

Also, the uptown store doesn't have a rental copy of it, so they should have actually sent it there. But that's just me being picky. All I know is, I found a cheap copy of an out-of-print DVD box set at a store that should know better. And that makes me happy.
phamos: (surrealbaboon)
This morning, my husband came across a scintillating article on the widespread use of hand sanitizer by poltical candidates. Is it good hygiene, or a contemptuous disgust for the germy little people they're shaking hands with? My husband referred to it as a "Bart's People" story, which made me laugh. And then I realized that particular episode of The Simpsons will be included on the 9th season box set that comes out in December.

The Simpsons used to be one of my favorite shows, second only perhaps to Buffy. But I honestly haven't watched a new episode in about two years. I had become so disillusioned with the show that I found it upsetting to watch subpar episode after subpar episode, especially as the later episodes began to dominate the syndication special to the exclusion of seasons 6 and 7. The last episode that made me laugh at all was the "Land of the Jockeys" episode, and that was simply because of the sheer awful ridiculousness of it all.

Season 9 is really the show's last gasp at relevance. It is thoroughly uneven, with one brilliant episode ("The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson"), a number of episodes with hilarious parts that peter out towards the end ("This Little Wiggy", though it's redeemed by the last minute appearance of the pyromaniac leprechaun, and "Trash of the Titans", which thoroughly wastes Steve Martin), and some real stinkers (...gonna use oil-based paint cuz the wood is piiine!). So it's not an immediate must-buy for me as the last 8 seasons have been. And that makes me sad. But it's going on my wishlist, where it will linger until someone either decides to buy it FOR me, or I break down and realize that my desire to see the Canyonero ad whenever I want overrides my dislike of the rest of that episode (the one where Krusty becomes an alterna-comic and hangs out with Janeane Garofalo -- god, that could have been so good).

Season 10 was my first year in college, and I watched it pretty much every week with everyone else on my floor in our RH's apartment. I'm looking through the episode guide now and I don't see a single good episode. The only funny line that's even popping out to me right now is from the Mark Hamill episode: "Guys and Dolls, we're just a bunch of crazy guys and dolls, oh yeah yeah yeah yeah guys and dolls..." And that's not even that funny. *sigh* At least season 11 has the Tomacco episode. Season 12 has Comic Book Guy's bootleg tape of Mr. Rogers drunk. ("What do you mean I can't take off my sweater? I'm HOT!") In season 12 there's literally only one episode I can remember at all (the one where they go to Brazil), and after that I honestly don't think I'd seen any until this year's Halloween episode, which I saw on YouTube and didn't laugh at once. Not ONCE. So sad.

There was also a clip from the Simpsons movie on a DVD we recently rented. It was very, very random and not particularly funny (Hower gets attacked by his sled dogs). I'm expecting this movie to be worse than the Dark Crystal sequel, which I'm pretty depressed about, too.
phamos: (surrealbaboon)
Tower Records recently filed for bankruptcy, again, and this time their stores are actually going out of business. I have a real soft spot for Tower Records. Unlike many music nerds, I did not learn about indie rock by going to some tiny store, flipping through vinyl and having some grungy clerk tell me about Television or XTC. I learned about music through a combination of a friend with a very hip older sister, subscriptions to Sassy and Spin, and a dad who would go with me to Tower and buy me a handful of CDs that I'd never heard before every time we went to Chicago. So the Tower Records on Clark is where I bulked up my knowledge along with my collection. Tower Records was also where I first bought a Sandman book. (There was also a comic book store downstairs where I bought my first Cerebus book, but that's neither here nor there.) When I lived in Chicago, trips outside of Hyde Park often revolved around going to Tower. I very specifically remember buying double albums by Tori and Trent on their first day of release my second year -- that took a bite out of my wallet! The last batch of CDs I ever bought at the Chicago Tower included an album by Mandalay that was in one of their listening stations, saying it was Madonna's new favorite album. It's a great, great record.

I never had the same connections with either of the Tower Records stores in New York, but in my first couple of years here the Tower by Lincoln Center was a fairly regular destination on my Upper West Side outings. So today, we decided to go down there and scout out their "Blowout Sale" to see if there were any remaining Battlestar Galactica DVDs to be had for cheap. MAN, was that place ever torn to shit. It was the dregs of popular culture to be had at that store today, though if you're looking for a copy of the Spielberg/Cruise War of the Worlds, you'd be in luck. And the prices weren't even that great! A blowout sale where almost everything is only 20% off? You could buy this stuff for cheaper any given day on Amazon!

But I realized, when Tower closes, and when Kim's inevitably closes (and it will soon, have no doubt), there will be hardly anywhere to buy DVDs in the city -- certainly nowhere with any decent selection. There are the Virgin megastores -- I haven't heard how they're doing. According to rumors floating around the Kim's staff, Blockbuster will soon be closing, so their paltry retail selection won't be available. Barnes and Noble sells DVDs at some of their stores, but their selection is small and expensive.

I buy the vast majority of my DVDs and books on Amazon. Their prices are the cheapest, and if you spend over $25, the shipping is free. (The free shipping may not work so well for people in more isolated areas, but in New York, it's actually faster than UPS.) So I realize I have personally contributed to the downfall of brick and mortar stores. I suddenly regret it. I will miss the ability to wander through a store, leisurely considering items and making impulse buys. Sure, I can (and often do -- beware late-night Ambien induced Amazon shopping, folks) accomplish the same thing online. But the depersonalization of it is suddenly very unsettling. As a matter of fact, I do almost all of my shopping online -- I hate trying on clothes in stores and would rather do it at home and then take back the things I don't like to the physical stores. I bought my new phone online. When I buy a new computer, I will likely do it online. I buy furniture and gadgets online. But I always did it with the understanding that if I wanted to go to a store and do it, I could. And soon, I won't be able to. I love shopping on the internet. I've never been a great window shopper. But I always reserved the right to window shop if I so desired. That's ending.
phamos: (gorbash)
I was listening to my iPod the other day and the Pharcyde's "Ya Mama" came on.

"Ya mama's glasses are so thick she look into a map and see people wavin at her."

I'd never really paid attention to that part of the song, and for some reason I was incredibly amused.

I got The Little Mermaid on DVD today and was excited to watch it, having not seen the movie in close to 10 years. It was only slightly ruined by the fact that Segev kept posing questions about logical inconsistencies. I had to continually point out to him that it's a movie about MERMAIDS and TALKING CRABS, and if he's able to accept that, then why can't he accept that there's a giant gold castle at the bottom of the sea without needing to know where they mined the gold? Anyway, I was horrified to realize that The Little Mermaid came out 17 freakin' years ago, and I am officially OLD.
phamos: (fenton)
I've recently become interested in the history of American animation, so I've been downloading clips off of YouTube of some of the more famously racist or otherwise inflammatory cartoons made by Disney, Warners, and MGM. I've only just started watching the Tex Avery shorts from MGM, and the first one I pulled up was called "Half-Pint Pygmy". Not only does the pygmy speak with a caricatured voice and have that lovely blackface visage so common to all these cartoons, it has a nice bit where the protagonists try to lure the pygmy out of a hole by dangling a WATERMELON in front of him. Jesus. I feel a little dirtier for having watched that.

<


A lot of the earlier Warner Brothers cartoons, and some of the Walter Lantz ones (he did Woody Woodpecker -- as well as a lovely short called, I shit you not, "Little Black Sambo"), are in the public domain now, so they can be released on DVD or distributed in general by pretty much anyone who feels like it. John Kricfalusi, the animator of Ren and Stimpy, was posting YouTube clips of Tex Avery and Bob Clampett cartoons, some of which were in the public domain, on his blog as an ongoing educational feature for his readers. Then, Warners put the smack down on YouTube, and YouTube went through and pulled all the WB clips it could find -- even ones in the public domain. So Kricfalusi raised a stink about fair use and copyright protections, all of which is pretty interesting. Then he went back to posting stupid promotional material for his new Ren and Stimpy DVDs, featuring the hypersexualized shorts he made for SpikeTV. So, not as interesting. Kricfalusi was infamously tossed off of Ren and Stimpy while it was still on Nickelodeon for basically wanting to push the envelope too far in terms of sex and general grossness. But he's made a comeback as an animation commentator, even doing commentary for the Warner Brothers Golden Collection DVDs that he's so critical of for their general whitewashing of the studio's history.

I always watched a lot more Disney than Warner Brothers, and my exposure to MGM and Lantz cartoons were limited to a couple of videos we rented when I was a kid and then copied onto Beta cassettes (talk about copyright infringement -- ah, Betamax). The extent of Disney's controversial content includes the WWII propaganda films that included some lovely Japanese stereotypes and a number of racist undertones in characters like the crows in Dumbo (I just watched that the other day, and it was the reason I went looking for the Tex Avery cartoons in the first place), the edited-out-of-future-relases black servant centaur in Fantasia, a bunch of nasty Native American stereotypes in some of the shorts and Peter Pan (though I love the song "What Makes the Red Man Red" in spite of myself), and, of course, the never-released-to-video Song of the South. Kim's had a bootleg videocassette of Song of the South, so I rented it. I think I had a record with Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah and a couple of the Brer Rabbit/Fox/Bear sections on it as a kid, and I definitely remember them showing a clip from the movie at the Disney Store when I was in there once in the early '90s, so I didn't have any recollection of the more-offensive frame story. The complaint is less that the movie is full of stereotypes, which is true (although not as ridiculously hit-you-over-the-head offensive as in these other shorts that I've been watching) than that the movie portrays this antibellum plantation as this totally happy place where the slaves have all stayed on because they love the family so much and they sit around and sing happy songs all night long and everything is just WONDERFUL. My complaint, on the other hand, is that the live-action parts of the story, apart from the historical whitewashing and the racial stereotyping, are just plain boring. Of course, I don't know if it picks up towards the end, because the Kim's videotape was a piece of crap and the picture totally cuts out about halfway through, right after the little rich white boy and his little black not-a-slave-anymore-my-life-is-so-much-fun-YAY friend meet up with a little poor white girl whose brothers want to kill her dog. It's a downer in so many ways. But see the races and classes all coming together in youthful innocence! Sure. I won't really get into the racism or non-racism of Walt Disney himself, because, well, the man was probably an anti-semite, which was also tied up in him being strongly anti-labor, and it's all been pretty well hashed-out, and that's all I have to say about that.

I'm rambling. This post has no real point. Suffice it to say, I find the history of all these animation studios to be really interesting from the point of view of someone who's obsessed with DVD releases. The amount of stuff that's being covered up is pretty crazy, and it ties in to my interest in copyright protections, given that Disney's the impetus for all the changes in the law, anyway.
phamos: (twilight)
i just watched the beastie boys concert film "awesome, i fuckin' shot that". nothing too interesting, although it was worth the rental price to see ben stiller in the audience shouting along to the "shake your rump" lyric "suckas they be sayin' they can take out adam horovitz!" it's funny how ad-rock aged the best of all the beasties. he was easily the geekiest of them at the beginning. he and kathleen hanna are my favorite rock star couple.
phamos: (takeonme)
we can now embed video in our LJ. apparently there is quite the hue and cry about how this marks the myspacification of livejournal, but i actually like the idea. they don't autoplay, after all. so i'm not sure what the big uproar is -- whether it's on principle or maybe because some people on dial-up think it'll make their page load slower...

also in the news today is word that the state is FINALLY coming to DVD. no, this time, they're serious. they just had to re-score the whole series to get around the music rights issues. unfortuantely, that means you won't be able to hear the breeders' "cannonball" playing while michael ian black buys pants.

in honor of both of these things, here's the original-scored version of the sketch, embedded, much to everyone's chagrin, in my journal.

phamos: (12th level)
in my few free moments, i'm reading douglas coupland's "jpod". around page 100, he starts making very wink-wink meta references to early '90s gen-x culture, and he has one of his characters claim to have watched all of melrose place on dvd.

melrose place isn't out on dvd. music rights and whatnot. word is, the first season will be out this fall in england, but there's no date set for the US.

...i officially am in possession of more useless pop culture knowledge than douglas coupland. joy.

i also finished reading david foster wallace's book of essays, "consider the lobster", last week. the longest essay in the book is about power structures inherent in codes of english usage. the first page of the essay is a long, eye-squint-typefaced list of various misusages that make wallace bristle. now, it's not like i follow all the conventions of english usage when writing in this journal. note the lack of capital letters, that comma hanging outside the quotation marks up there. but i generally know when i'm doing something wrong, and there are certain constructions that set me on edge. i always notice and wince when people say "mischevious" or "lasvicious", but that's mostly because i got those words wrong until about the end of middle school, and it's my own inner shame that upsets me. but the one thing that always drives me crazy, and segev can attest to this, is when, at the end of any given airplane flight, the stewardess says "we hope you enjoy your stay in [insert city here] or wherever your final destination may take you." destinations can't take you anywhere! destinations are entirely static. they are an end result. it drives me crazy. every now and then, the stewardess will get it right and say "wherever your final destination may be", and i'll feel the urge to clap. i rank the enjoyability of any given flight almost entirely on the basis of those last few words to come over the speakers, regardless (not "irregardless") of turbulence, leg room, arm-rest hoggage, crappy snack food, or any other air travel deficiencies. it's completely insane, i know, but "wherever your final destination may take you" literally makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. (and i actually MEAN "literally", another one of wallace's pet peeves. he gives a pass to "hopefully", though, which i know drives a lot of people up the wall. not literally up the wall. whatever.)
phamos: (goshposh)
i wish laff-a-lympics was on DVD. it's so much better than wacky races...
phamos: (frazzle)
ok, i know not everyone who reads this is the right age to remember. but (and i'm not crazy) there was a live-action teddy ruxpin show, not just the cartoon. people dressed up in teddy ruxpin costumes and whatnot. why can't i find anything about it online? there are other people who have commented on imdb about it, but i come up short when i look for it on google. very bizarre.

just thinking about it cuz we got the first volume of the cartoon on DVD at the store recently.
phamos: (childhood)
i got earth*star voyager off of ebay on DVD. earth*star voyager was this awesomely cheesy space movie that they aired (in two parts) on wonderful world of disney in the mid-to-late eighties. i have recently managed to procure not only that, but also the alice in wonderland special and fresno, completing my troika of mid '80s tv guilty pleasures.

earth*star voyager is the only one that came complete with the commercials from the original airing. now, most of the time that would annoy me. but as i was flipping through the chapters to make sure both parts were on the disk, one commercial, or rather, public service announcement, caught my eye.

dude.

"I LEARNED IT FROM WATCHING YOU!"

that's even better than the egg in the frying pan, man.

i remember about a year ago, i referenced "i learned it from watching you," and most everybody knew exactly what i was talking about. except destinee, because she was too young to have seen it. and then i felt really old.

i wonder if she would get "i'm so excited! i'm so excited! i'm so...scared!" anyone who gets that one gets a cookie.

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March 2009

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