Oh John Carroll

Month: February 2013 (page 2 of 4)

God Needs A Hobby →

Grantland’s Alex Pappademas spends twenty hours with former Community show runner Dan Harmon as he tours the country with his Harmontown podcast:

It’s not stand-up, it’s not theater, and it’s not a lecture, although sometimes it feels like all those things. (Maybe not theater.) It’s filed under “comedy” in iTunes, which isn’t wrong, but its best moments belong in some imaginary genre alongside books like Ben Lerner’s Leaving the Atocha Station and Sheila Heti’s How Should a Person Be?, the parts of Marc Maron’s WTF podcast where you’re listening to Marc Maron talk to himself about Marc Maron, the self-deconstructive nonfiction of David Shields’s last few books, maybe the instantly legendary “cancer set” comedian Tig Notaro recorded at Largo last year, maybe Frank Ocean’s Channel ORANGE — autobiographical work that derives its charge from a compulsion to confess, narrated from an in-the-moment POV by people not particularly concerned with their likability.

Dan’s a fascinating dude, and this is a well-done profile. 

Bob’s Buskers →

Bob’s Burgers doesn’t need any extra credit, but it gets some anyway: click above to watch an animated St. Vincent cover a song from the show.

Blue, Blue, Electric Blue →

One favorite musician covers one of the best songs of another favorite musician.  Click above for Beck’s big, dare-I-say-excessive cover of David Bowie’s “Sound and Vision.”

Squalor Porn →

I also watched Beasts of the Southern Wild last night.  It’s a good film, and Quvenzhané Wallis’s performance is as good as you’ve heard it is.  The film’s worth watching just to marvel over how someone so young can be so good in a film like this.

But while I liked a lot of what the film did, I thought the fantastical elements confused matters, and created a “blend” of storytelling that left me with an ill feeling.  I was happy to find that David Walker put it better than I ever could over at BadAzz Mofo.  He didn’t dislike the film, but felt it belonged to a burgeoning genre that he doesn’t like.  He calls it “squalor porn”:

The acceptance and popularity of squalor porn speaks to divides within audience spectatorship. American film is largely produced to appeal to the white demographic, and is therefore crafted in a way that triggers an acceptance of cinematic reality within the parameters of the collective willing suspension of disbelief of the white spectator. It is the willingness of the white spectator to accept Middle Earth in Lord of the Rings as a cinematic reality that makes it a successful film. However, it is also the ability of the white spectator to accept the fact that there are no black people in Middle Earth that keeps the film from being scrutinized as a byproduct of racism and colonialist ideologies. And while Lord of the Rings may not seem racist from the perspective of white spectatorship—which is in and of itself merely the mainstream audience—the spectatorship of non-white audiences calls into question the racist overtones of the film. This is not to say that Lord of the Rings is any more or less racist than Beasts of the Southern Wild, though it firmly places both films within cinematic realities that white audiences are willing to accept. In the case of Lord of the Rings, this is a reality where blacks do not exist, and therefore serve no purpose or importance. In Beasts of the Southern Wild, black people exist, but only within the accepted and recognizable reality of squalor porn. Rejecting either of these cinematic realities is indicative of either an inability or an unwillingness to view film through a paradigm of the dominant audience’s ideological perceptions.

So the film isn’t just worth watching for Wallis’s performance, but so that you can fully appreciate Walker’s great piece as well.

Letterboxd →

Another cool film site: Letterboxd allows you to log films you watch or want to watch, as well as adding your own notes and reviews.  I’ve long wanted to have an easy way to keep a diary of this online without cluttering up my blog, and this seems to do the trick.

If you want to follow along, here’s my profile.

If you want to see what a review looks like, I jotted some quick notes on Frankenweenie, which I watched last night.

If you want to see me struggle with the best films of the year, here’s my list-in-progress.

The Overlook →

Here’s the trailer for Room 237, a movie I’m very excited to see.

Too Light, Too Thin →

John Siracusa writes about why we like technology products to be small, but dense:

Don’t get distracted by the details. I’m not arguing for or against a particular design. My point is that it’s important to keep making progress towards the next discontinuity, wherever it may be.

Tugg of War →

Interesting new web service: pick a film that you want to see screened at a local theater, then promote it. If you sell enough tickets, the screening comes to your town.

Unemployment Activity #5

Back-up all of your physical media.  Immediately begin fretting about having back-ups to the back-ups.  Consider buying additional back-ups.  Begin fretting about cost.  Then allot time for fretting about all of the lost time of backing up physical media, only to lose it because you didn’t back-up your back-ups.

Then pity yourself and wonder how much your time is worth if you’re not being paid for it.

Oh, and don’t forget to insert the next disc.  (Finally: repeat.)

In Defense of Slow TV

The AV Club’s Todd VanDerWerff wonders if Netflix’s new programming strategy — namely, premiering entire seasons of new shows like House of Cards at the same time — will kill the “golden age” of television:

Shortly after the 30 Rock finale aired, I was talking with someone who’s around a decade younger than me. “I’m glad it’s ending!” he said. When I asked why, he said that he likes to watch things all at once, and now that the show was over, he could binge on it over the course of a week or two. Now that the story was “complete,” it was finally time to watch 30 Rock without having to wait. The marathon—of a season or a whole series—had become essentially the only way he watched television, and that was how he preferred it. Sitting and watching one episode per week was, to him at least, for suckers, for people who were tied too closely to the old ways of doing business, and weren’t ready for the wave that was coming to wash away TV as we know it.

Needless to say, as someone who edits and writes for a section that lives and dies by the weekly TV review, I take the opposite point of view, and not just because I’ve written before about the pleasures of “slow TV.”

While VanDerWerff is primarily concerned with how TV shows differ when premiered as weekly episodes, or as entire chunks of story, I’m interested in how this “binge” viewing will happen without a build-up of interest.

I haven’t yet watched House of Cards, and wonder if or when I will.  Part of the allure of “binge viewing” is having a number of friends/peers/writers recommend something to you: as the number of recommendations grow, so too does the expectation that this show will be worth watching.  But such recommendations typically grow over time: initial reviews, followed by live viewers, followed by people who record episodes, followed by people who take a chance on the first season DVD set.

The potential downside I see to premiering a show like House of Cards all at once is that many of us will look around and wonder who’s jumping in the pool first.  Certainly, there are plenty of people who have decided to take a chance on the show, and have likely stuck with it longer than they would have if it aired on a weekly basis.  But given that the general reaction has been mixed, where does the show go from here?  I doubt the early reviews have built up interest — if anything, interest in the show has taken a hit since it’s been released.  Will those initial viewers be around when the second season is released?  Will there be a clamor for the show to return, or will it simply be forgotten?

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