Saturday, October 25, 2008

Culture Jamming: More Confusing Than Ever!

So, I'm going to admit that I've been keeping track of all the places the "Chan We Need" pictures have shown up on the internet. Every time I think the 15 minutes are over another site links to them. Thanks for bringing a smile to my face, guys. Everyone at Nonsense Humor Magazine is tickled pink by all of this.

Well, except for Pilot...she's still apathetic.

Anyway, one of the terms that many bloggers are using to describe our little stunt is "Culture Jamming".

I'm gonna admit...I don't think I had even heard of that term prior to this. To quote wikipedia, culture jamming is: individualistic turning away from all forms of herd mentality – including that of movements – and by that definition, culture jamming is generally not treated as a movement. Culture jamming is not defined by any specific political position or message, nor even by any specific cultural position or message. The common thread is mainly an urge to poke fun at the homogeneous nature of popular culture, often by means of guerrilla communication (communication unsanctioned or opposed by government or other powers-that-be).

Huh? Ok, how about this:

Culture jamming sometimes entails transforming mass media to produce ironic or satirical commentary about itself, using the original medium's communication method...To have a good laugh (and to encourage others to do likewise) at the expense of prevailing social currents - many purveyors of which, in the opinion of many culture jammers, take themselves too seriously. Even culture jammers themselves are not immune to being the subjects of culture jamming, if they appear to be on their way to becoming as institutionalized and humorless as the original objects of culture jammers' attention...To reawaken a sense of wonder and fascination about one's surrounding environment, inspired by the frequent intentional ambiguity of a specific culture jamming technique, which stimulates personal interpretation and independent thinking...To demonstrate contrasts between iconic images, practices or attitudes and the realities or perceived negative side of the item object of the jamming (often the target is a trapping of monolithic power structures such as corporations, government or religions). This is often done symbolically, with the "detournement" of pop iconography...To provoke an interest in civic engagement and social connectedness.

Alright that makes sense. I can definitely see that term being used for this. I just called it performance art, but culture jamming certainly is a better term.

The wikipedia page also tells me that the term was coined by the experimental band Negativeland, which to me is really funny, because I'm pretty sure I own every album Negativland has ever made, and still have never heard this term.

So, I'm not sure how much longer this internet meme is going to last, but we're very glad that we got to be a part of "underground culture" (at least according to wikipedia).

By the way, Pilot's "I Scissored Sarah Palin" picture has also been everywhere on the internet. Congrats to her.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Next Week There's A Choice Between Blue Or Red Pill

Here's what really pisses me off about the new season of Heroes.

You know Usutu, the African Precog played by Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine, who though his ability to paint the future helps set Matt Parkman and now it seems Hiro and Ando in the right direction? He's a total abuse of the mystical stock character known as the "Magical Negro".


The white characters come to him looking for answers, and through his magical ability of precognitive painting (and headphones?) he shows them some special insight and sends them along on their way.

To quote wikipedia:
He has no past; he simply appears one day to help the white protagonist...He is patient and wise, often dispensing various words of wisdom, and is "closer to the earth"...Although from a certain perspective the character may seem to be showing African-Americans in a positive light, he is still ultimately subordinate to European-Americans. He is also regarded as an exception, allowing white America to like individual black people but not black culture.

Well, I guess if it's good enough for Grant Morrison's Batman...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Dear Prudence, Won't You Open Up Your Eyes?

Since my last post seems to have been linked-to all over the internet, I've been a little hesitant to post anything new. Can I top that? Are people actually going to be reading this now? Shit.

Now, add to that my recent experience in a local Coldstone where some fourteen year old girl tried to hit on me (I'm serious). Yeah, it was cute that she thought she could flirt with a guy ten years older than her...I smiled and left the store, slightly laughing to myself. That didn't freak me out.

What freaked me out was when telling this story to my friends, they all said I should have made sure she was fourteen and not a really young looking eighteen year old.


Anyway, I figured I'd complain today about bad relationship advice:'s Dear Prudence column recently posted a piece of outrageously bad advice.

Some woman wrote in claiming that her boyfriend is a "genius" and that she always loses in arguments to him because he sees everything logically and rational, and she feels like she always has to compromise.

My boyfriend and I are both in our early 20s and have been dating for three years. We have a really strong relationship in almost every way, and I can't imagine being with anyone else. But here's the rub: My boyfriend is a genius. In so many ways, I love this about him. He challenges me to think about things, I am constantly learning, and he is always honest and rational. Unfortunately, these last two qualities have caused a bit of strain. I consider myself a very intelligent person also—nowhere near his level, but I've always felt confident academically. This sometimes takes a hit when I am around him. I rarely win arguments because I simply can't keep up with him. In matters of politics or world issues, this can be frustrating, but it doesn't really raise my ire. However, sometimes his argumentative style and calculating rationale are applied to our relationship. In many situations, I feel as though I am the one who has to compromise because he always wins the argument. I know my positions are reasonable, but I just can't articulate them as well as he does. I have talked to my boyfriend about this, but I think he has a hard time seeing my point of view—that though my feelings may not always be logical or rational, they are still valid. Am I being unreasonable for wanting a little bit of slack, or should I just accept that I'm dating Dr. Manhattan and let it go?

She's making a legitimate complaint here, one which "Prudie" does hit upon (slightly). He isn't really as intelligent as he claims if he can't see her feelings; if he doesn't realize that being a "genius" also means knowing when to shut up and letting other people be victorious. He needs to learn emotional intelligence.

Now I'm no advice column writer, but I'm sure I could write a well-written response to this girl, pointing out my above answers, and also explaining to her that she doesn't need to feel emotionally belittled by him (his constant parading of intelligence has made her second guess her self-worth).

If I can do that while not being a professional in this field, surely Prudie can do even better, right?

Well, no.

Prudie decides it would be much better to belittle this girl further, essentially telling her she's an idiot for putting up with him for so long when he obviously has problems (and ones that anyone with a brain can see!).

Did you conclude on your own that your boyfriend is a genius, or is this one of the things he had to articulate to poor, dumb you? I don't know what his IQ is, but his emotional intelligence comes in somewhere around "dolt." I'll take your word that you're dating a virtual Einstein, but take mine that he's an arrogant twit who's got you confusing bullying for brilliance. It's also possible he has some kind of disorder that leaves him unable to process the feelings of others. If so, he should be seeking help, or else he is destined to go through life alienating co-workers, friends, and loved ones like you. Actually, you might want to examine why you have spent three years being told by Mr. Spock that what you say has no validity because it lacks rationality. Mr. Spock and Dr. Manhattan are effective characters because while they seem human, their lack of emotion and empathy means they aren't quite. So give your mastermind a copy of Emotional Intelligence and tell him it's about a subject in which he's deficient, but it's important for the two of you that he learn.

Yes Prudie, that's what the girl needed...someone else telling her that her decisions were neither logical nor rational.

Further, this girl references both Hamlet AND Watchmen in her letter. If her boyfriend doesn't make every effort to keep her, then he really is an idiot.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Yes We Chan!

I'd like to take some time out to talk about my alma mater.

Hofstra University hosted the 3rd and final presidential debate this evening. We were all very proud.

While the candidates were embarrassing themselves within the David S. Mack Arena, Hofstra itself was being embarrassed on live my friends.

You see, I was a part of a certain society at Hofstra, I don't know if I need to mention it's name...ok, it was called NONSENSE HUMOR MAGAZINE. We are in fact Hofstra's Only Intentional Humor Magazine.


Current members and Alumni alike (i.e. me) infiltrated the debate coverage tonight, creating fake posters and signs, and trying to get on MSNBC. Finally, after the debate, that goal was achieved.

If you look right behind Andrea Mitchell, you'll notice a few odd campaign signs in the background. They look like they could be Barack Obama signs...but not see, these signs were promoting a little known campaign. They were promoting the Presidential run of Jackie Chan.


In that screen shot you can clearly see two members holding up signs proclaiming a "Chan We Need" and "Chan"


There we have yet another "Chan" sign as well as one of our "I'm Apathetic" posters.


Finally in this one you see current editor Brendan Smyth showing his support for Bob Barr with his hand made sign.

During the commercial break the Obama campaign called and demanded that Nonsense take down the signs. Pussies.

We shall not be silenced! The campaign of Jackie Chan will go on! Let Jackie debate! Let Jackie debate!

It's not like he's the only candidate that wasn't born in this country.

So, this little Improve Everywhere-like idea was cut short by a candidate who couldn't take a joke...Nonsense still came out on top.

Chris Matthews took an issue of Nonsense and enjoyed it. He also signed a copy for an alumna.

Matthews's aid then asked what another sign one of our members was holding up meant. The sign in question said "I Scissored Sarah Palin". An explanation was given, and hilarity ensued.

There will of course be people who will complain about this act of comedy. Nothing unusual about that. When I was the Managing Editor of this magazine, someone complained every week. In it's 25 years of existence not a year went by without a controversy.

If we're not offending people we're not doing our jobs. Comedy is meant to upset the status quo. It's meant to challenge authority.

I love free speech.

I love Nonsense Humor Magazine.

And I'll love Hofstra University if they understand that.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Why I Still Read Pitchfork

I remember a time when I used to read Pitchforkmedia every day. I looked through all the news, and enjoyed reading the album reviews. That year was 2003.

I had just started working for the Hofstra Chronicle, writing album reviews for their entertainment section. My first reviews were very bland, and if they were by anyone else, I probably would never have even read them. I needed a better writing style, something that would attract attention. Enter Brent DiCrescenzo.

Brent DiCrescenzo broke every rule when it came to writing album reviews. He referred to himself throughout his reviews; he went on huge tangents that only paid off at the end; he told stories and made up characters in hopes of getting his audience to relate to his point-of-view better. He worshiped at the altar of Hunter S. Thompson just as often as he did Robert Christgau. He was very interesting to read, even if you didn't agree with what he was saying. Dare I claim that what he was writing for Pitchfork was in fact beyond criticism, but rather, art.

It wasn't just DiCrescenzo. Many of Pitchfork's stable of writers at the time were tryng new things with their reviews. I was a fan of Dominique Leone, Amanda Petrusich, Nick Sylvester, Mark Richardson, Douglas Wolk and of course Ryan Schreiber.

So, of course, I completely aped their styles, and as my former editor Taylor Long can tell you: people started reading my reviews. I know this, because I have the hate mail.

So, back to the point. That was 2003. Since then, Pitchfork has gone down in quality a great deal. DiCrescenzo left to pursue to another writing gig, Leone just released his first (excellent) full length LP, Petrusich just wrote a book I'm dying to read, and for the most part, the current crop of writers aren't nearly as experimental as the old ones (Scott Plagenhoef's continuous attempts aside). The biggest criticism Pitchfork gets these days (actually, I guess they've always gotten this criticism) is that they are pretentious and elitists. Their reviews reek of the arrogance that mars the line between being a taste-maker and just being Holier-than-thou.

And honestly, it's completely true. It's sad to see one of my influences that was so strong once, completely make themselves irrelevant.

So why do I still read it then? Well, I'm always on the look out for new music that I have yet to hear. I'm always trying to find stuff that I don't know yet. If the website provides me with these criteria, then I see no reason to abandon them. If I get something out of my reading, why is that bad? Today was a perfect example of why I still read Pitchfork.

Before today, I had never heard of Alton Ellis. Sadly, Ellis died recently, and Pitchfork ran their obituary and also a few song suggestions.

And my God, he is fantastic.

I've never really explored the genre of rocksteady that deep, but now, now I think I must because this song is terrific:

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That's all I ask from Pitchfork, recommend something to me that I might like, and I'll still glance over your site every day. Is that such a bad reason to still read the site? Am I wrong? Tell me.

And R.I.P Alton Ellis.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Rose By Any Other Name

Carsi over at Saisosparkle found a very funny error on imdb's WENN updates.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Here She Comes/That Little Town Flirt/You're Fallin' For Her/And You're Gonna Get Hurt

Anyone who watched the Vice-Presidential debate last week probably noticed Sarah Palin's Lucille Bluth-like winks:

(this image was stolen directly from synecdoche)

Flirting with the audience is certainly one way to get people to stop listening to what you are (or aren't) saying. I wonder though, if anyone actually is voting for McCain/Palin now, based solely on the suggestion that Sarah Palin was flirting with them.

Writer John Rogers neatly sums up the response to that:

Modern American Conservatives have sunk to the intellectual and emotional level of the guy who thinks the stripper really likes him.

I've got to take it a step further John. It's not just Palin's flirty winks, but everything any politician does EVER to get people to vote for them. If you think the politician is really listening to you, and really cares about your specific problem, then I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but the lap dance still costs $60.

Politicians are cheap strippers.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

And Another Reason Why I Love Stephen Colbert

found via Videogum:

Also, he totally took George Will's words completely out of context.

Making Cancer Funny Again

Satirist P.J. O'Rourke, one of my comedy writing idols, has been diagnosed with cancer.

Cancer of the ass.

Apparently, this is a real thing. O'Rourke has a malignant hemorrhoid. He doesn't go into detail about how this is possible (thank God), but I'm still very confused about it. How on earth did he find out he has cancer of the ass?

And is there a funnier cancer a comedy writer could possibly be diagnosed with? Honestly, cancer of the ass?

As I stated above, O'Rourke was one of my comedy writing heroes. In the mid-70's he was the editor of National Lampoon and was one of the writers who worked on the fantastic (and out of print)1964 High School Yearbook Parody (which if you haven't read, you must. It is perfect). Photobucket O'Rourke then went on to Hollywood, where he wrote the screenplay for the Rodney Dangerfield movie "Easy Money". After that harrowing experience, he turned his sights to the social satire in Washington D.C. His book "Parliament Of Whores: A Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire U.S. Government" is among one of the best political satire books ever written.


Since then, O'Rourke, like many of his age group, has gone from biting satirist to old complaining curmudgeon. His rants aren't really funny anymore, and now just sound like a more republican Dennis Miller. I haven't even bothered with many of his recent books---most of which require an annotated knowledge of the works of Adam Smith-- really, everything comes down to Parliament of Whores. That's his best post-National Lampoon work. Start there, and then go explore his further works (may I suggest "All the Trouble in the World: The Lighter Side of Overpopulation, Famine, Ecological Disaster, Ethnic Hatred, Plague, and Poverty")

Get well soon P.J.!