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Archive for June, 2009

Persepolis and Nick Cassavetes

June 16, 2009 By: Category: Movies

Despite the fact that reading subtitles can be a drag (as Jeffrey mentions below), Persepolis is without question one of the most awesome movies I’ve seen in the past year. Few movies capture the confusion of adolescence with such a subtle mixture of humor and anxiety. If you haven’t seen it, I’d highly recommend renting it.

The English version also includes the voice talent of Sean Penn, Iggy Pop (!), and Gena Rowlands.

Now, a little free association here… Gena Rowlands is the widow of 1970s auteur filmmaker John Cassavetes (she also starred in several of his best movies). John Cassavetes was a total badass before dying of cirrhosis of the liver in ’89.

John and Gena’s son, Nick Cassavetes, is also a film director. His films include
The Notebook, and the recent My Sister’s Keeper.

Whether or not you like these movies, it’s pretty indisputable that they’re mainstream Hollywood puff. It’s fascinating to me that the son of one of the guiding lights of the 1970s movement against this kind of puff is now creating it himself. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, really… but it’s pretty ironic. Some film student should definitely write a PhD thesis about it, if you ask me.

What About Iran?

June 15, 2009 By: Category: Politics

Okay, so what’s the story with Iran, anyway? I’ll admit, pretty much everything I know about Iranian history I learned from watching Persepolis. I didn’t even read Persepolis, I watched Persepolis. Which, now that I think about it, Persepolis is subtitled, so it’s probably actually more work to watch Persepolis than it is to read the graphic novel upon which it’s based. That is a first in the history of movies.

But so I get it, Iran was a totally fun, free country before the hardliners came to power in the 80s. And now it’s awful and scary or whatever. But they have elections? And they’re not just a sham? Everyone seems surprised at the possibility that Ahmadinejad could have stolen the election. But like, if Kim Jong Il won the popular vote in North Korea, I don’t think anyone would bat an eyelash. So what is Iran? A democracy, or a dictatorship? Right, okay, the Ayatollah or whoever is really in charge, and the president’s just a figurehead. So then why did we ever give a shit about Ahmadinejad in the first place? I’m so confused!

In other news, here’s a picture of a cat in a taco outfit.

Tacocat

Tacocat


(Via Buzzfeed.)

Dear Clay

June 12, 2009 By: Category: Press

You are my friend. You are also my business partner. You are a humble guy. We all recognize this. We talk about it a lot when you aren’t around. “That Clay,” we say, “what a humble guy.”

But you have no reason to be humble, because you are doing awesome things. For instance, you were just mentioned in Playbill. Playbill! The very magazine that Abraham Lincoln was reading when he got his face blown off. (Too soon?) Just look at this awesome plug:

Sick Bastard, a new musical with music and lyrics by three-time Grammy Award winner Bruce Hornsby, will get a private industry reading directed by Tony Award winner Kathleen Marshall the week of June 15.

The musical is based on an original story by Hornsby about the troubles created when a stranger arrives in a small Virginia town. The score is wholly original; it’s not a jukebox musical, Playbill has learned.

The libretto is by Clay McLeod Chapman (who co-wrote the indie musical Hostage Song). Additional lyrics are by Chip DeMatteo.

Now, just to be mentioned in Playbill is pretty cool. But to be mentioned in Playbill because you just wrote a musical with Bruce Fucking Hornsby?!? Man. Congratulations. You are now my second hero.

The first is, of course, Soy Bomb.

The Evil Eye Experiment Is Over!

June 12, 2009 By: Category: Experiments, Greatest Hits

The Evil Eye

The Evil Eye

It’s been a lot of fun, you guys, but unfortunately, I’m going to have to put an end to the Evil Eye Experiment. It was great while it lasted, though wasn’t it? We really learned a lot, didn’t we? About evil eyes and quebecois blogs?

I’m being facetious, because in truth, we learned absolutely nothing. Somehow, my original premise was totally wrong. I assumed the Evil Eye blog collected everything on the web that mentioned evil eyes and ran it through English-mangling software, so I wrote a blog post filled with references to evil eyes to see what would happen. Apparently, this is not what the Evil Eye blog does, because they didn’t even touch my second article. Who’s the sucker now? Answer: it’s me!

I originally had planned to run this experiment for a million years, but in light of this new information, I’m going to shorten the length to 1 day. Because that’s how science works. Please know, however, that the experiment wasn’t a complete waste. Today, when I clicked over to the Evil Eye blog to make sure they hadn’t reposted my article without my knowledge, I discovered two slices of genius. The first is the top article, entitled “It Is What It Is: I all in the night-time with Welch’s and Mark Wahlberg“. How can one not be intrigued by that title? Here’s a little taste:

I had some folks on top of final dusk and we were listening to some of the music on TV. Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch came on with Good Vibrations–it took me cast mouldy to my younger days when we all cast-off to dancing blow-out approximately the brothel drooling on top of this H. I look cast mouldy every now in a while, and I question.Why? lol This painting that is here is his mean mug hold off.

Mean is defined as follows: wonderful muggins – as a routine to dish someone the underhanded kink and to stair them down. Now I don’t grasp in the wonderful something of you..but this Marky Mark Mean Mug would not ho-hum terrorize a newborn babe in arms. as a routine:) There is nothing like a DDDDeeeeeelllliiiicccciiiiiioooouuussssss confused hooch.

The other amazing thing was that there’s an article titled “Evil Son, Fatpig, which is pretty much the best title ever. Okay, second best … the first being, of course, “The Wonderful Something of You.”

This site is drowning in catchphrases. If it is ever late and your people are over, of course you’ve got some “folks on top of final dusk.” That is exactly what you have. If there’s a better nickname for Mark Wahlberg than Marky Mark Mean Mug, I sure can’t think of it. And I love how the dude looks “cast mouldy” every now in a while. Of course he does. He’s watching Marky Mark Mean Mug with his folks on top of final dusk, of course he’s going to look a little cast mouldy.

And as everyone knows, there is nothing like a DDDDeeeeeelllliiiicccciiiiiioooouuussssss confused hooch! That is clearly the best thing to say when someone is confused.

I don’t know what the Evil Eye blog’s secret is, but I really want to hire their translation robots to write a book for us.

Update: I just reread this and realized that the Marky Mark post reads a lot like slam poetry. So I decided to record the slam poetry version for your listening pleasure:

DDDDeeeeeelllliiiicccciiiiiioooouuussssss Confused Hooch

Sex on Fire

June 11, 2009 By: Category: Uncategorized

This is my first post on the Awkward site.  It’s very exciting.  And for my first post, I’m going to talk about sex.  Specifically, SEX ON FIRE, the song by Kings of Leon.  You have definitely heard this song, if you live in America and are not deaf.  I was driving around LA last week and it was on the radio literally every fifteen minutes.  It is unbelievably catchy and horrendously overplayed.  The first bunch of times I heard it, I thought to myself, in disbelief, “Is he saying ‘Your sex is on fire’?”  The phrase “your sex” is just strange and kind of, well, gross. Or clinical. Or something. I mean, who tells someone “I love your sex”? You’d say “I love having sex with you” or “I enjoy sex with you.” Much classier. Right?

But it turns out he (Kings of Leon lead singer Caleb Followill) is saying exactly what I thought he was saying.

It turns out, in fact, that the lyrics of this song are more patently ridiculous than I could have ever imagined.  Here they are:

Lay where you’re laying, don’t make a sound
I know they’re watching, they’re watching
All the commotion, the kiddie like play
Has people talking, talking

You, your sex is on fire

The dark of the alley, the breaking of day
The head while I’m driving, I’m driving
Soft lips are open, knuckles are pale
Feels like you’re dying, you’re dying

You, your sex is on fire
Consumed with what’s to transpire

Hot as a fever, rattling bones
I could just taste it, taste it
If it’s not forever, if it’s just tonight
Oh, it’s still the greatest, the greatest, the greatest

You, your sex is on fire
And you, your sex is on fire
Consumed with what’s to transpire

…Now what I want you to imagine, boys and girls, is saying these words to someone you love.  Someone that you are currently sleeping with.  And imagine this person’s reaction particularly when you use the words “kiddie-like play,” “feels like you’re dying,” and “rattling bones” while complimenting their prowess in the bedroom.

It might get a little awkward.

Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue

June 11, 2009 By: Category: Uncategorized

Slate posted a video today about a special children’s anti-drug event from the 90s called “Cartoon All Stars to the Rescue.” It’s a 1/2 hour-long cartoon special about the dangers of smoking marijuana, starring all of your favorite 80s cartoon stars, like the Muppet Babies, the Smurfs, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and Bugs Bunny(! Say it ain’t so, Bugs!). It’s animated in that awful, cheap-looking Hanna-Barbara style that apparently is the only way Chinese teenagers know how to draw. Because these cartoons are all actually drawn by Chinese teenagers.

Apparently this show was so important that it aired on all three networks simultaneously. Ya know, growing up in the Just Say No era, drugs were one of the scariest things in the world to me. I had no idea what they were, but I knew they were terrifying. Because we were constantly bombarded by propaganda that made it seem like the minute we hit puberty, we would regularly be whisked into back alleys by the popular kids who would threaten to make our lives a living Hell if we didn’t take a hit off of their joints. Which, I don’t even think my town had alleys.

On a totally related topic, when I was a kid I would memorize the names of the members of metal bands because I had an irrational fear that one day I’d be walking home (I didn’t even walk to school) and some stoner would threaten to kick my ass unless I told him the names of the members of Cinderella, immediately. Embarrassing, but true. Dear studio executives: please bring the Cartoon All-Stars back for a special about how you should always know the names of metal superstars in case something like this happens. You’re welcome!

The question is, is this really the target audience we need to reach? 10-year-olds? If you are a 10-year-old kid and you are doing drugs, your problems probably can’t be solved by the Muppet Babies. And that’s one to grow on.

But remember how well it worked? How everyone that was born in the 80s is still afraid of drugs and does not do them ever? Well done, America’s drug war! A very effective use of money.

Anyway, here’s the whole cartoon, for your amusement. I haven’t watched it. Please let me know if it’s worth the effort.

The Evil Eye Experiment

June 10, 2009 By: Category: Experiments

I’ve set up a Google alert to let me know when Awkward Press is mentioned out there in the world because I’m a total narcissist like that. Today I discovered that the review I wrote just yesterday has already been linked somewhere, which got me pretty excited about the power of the Internet and how my 6 pizza rating system is sweeping the world.

So I click on the link, and I’m taken to a site called “Evil Eye: Un blog utilisant Le Blogue du Québec”. I’m not going to link to it because it’s probably filled with nasty electronic beasties that like throw porn at your computer when your mom’s trying to look at pictures from your trip to Cabo or whatever. But it clearly is not a real site that’s actually maintained by someone, because everything in my review has been translated into some kind of space English. And then I realized that yesterday I talked about the Evil Eye vagina in Lord of the Rings, and so this site must be some kind of aggregator that takes everything that mentions the term evil eye and posts it in mangled English for French speakers (?) Because, like, progress.

But anyway that realization led me to think that if I repost the mangled version of my review from their site, they will in turn post my repost in an even more mangled version. And eventually, after a million years of posting and reposting the same review, we might accidentally write the Bible or something. So after the jump, you will find the mangled version of my review in its entirety. I will let you know tomorrow how it goes!

(more…)

Awkward Book Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson

June 10, 2009 By: Category: Book Reviews, Greatest Hits

girl-w-the-dragon-tattooOne would assume that a guy who has been a founding member of two publishing companies would probably spend a lot of time reading novels. One would be mistaken. I don’t read that much. I mean, I am always in the middle of a book, but it’s generally a pretty slow, painful process, and the books that really suck me in are few and far between. It’s irritating to me that Goodreads doesn’t have an option to stretch the “date read” column over several months.

That being said, now that we have this lovely new website, I think it’s probably a pretty smart idea to try and fill it with something. And what better thing for a publishing house’s website than book reviews? Answer: no better. There is no better thing.

I picked up a copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo at BEA last year, the big annual publishing trade show. The editor’s note on the back described it as an “international sensation.” I like international sensations, and books are free like magical candy at the BEA, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Then I read that it was the author’s first book and he died right after delivering the manuscript to his publisher. And everyone knows that people who die are usually the best authors, so, duh.

(more…)

To Our Friends Across the Pond

June 08, 2009 By: Category: Politics

From an article about beleaguered British PM Gordon Brown:

Only last week, Brown spoke of how his “Presbyterian conscience” had been hurt by the extravagant expense claims made by many of his parliamentary colleagues. And in his awkward press conference on Friday afternoon, he again invoked his father’s teachings.

For the record, Mr. Brown is in no way affiliated with Awkward Press, LLC, or any of our subsidiaries, including Delusional Paranoids & Co., Outrageously Incompetent Trust, or Worse than Thatcher, LTD.

Welcome to Awkward…

June 06, 2009 By: Category: Uncategorized

So. Welcome to this. Kyle, Jeffrey and me have been talking talking about putting something together for some time now — and here we are. Feeling pretty psyched about it. Pick up a copy if you can. Thank you!