Friday, November 20, 2015

It's Zoo-Sized!

Sunday, Steph and I had a double-feature of a WashU student production of Molière's The Misanthrope, or the Cantankerous Lover and Anomalisa from Charlie Kaufman.  They fit really snugly together as portraits of how men can turn into miserable bastards, by two nearly opposite routes.    

Alceste is the protagonist-fool of The Misanthrope, a man who holds his friends and enemies up to absurd, Platonic standards, and castigates anyone who disappoints him, which is everyone.  He impotently rages against the imperfections in society with nearly identical speeches to ones I made in college.  Steph was often the audience for these screeds and thought it was pretty funny that Moliere captured that nearly 400 years ago.  In an essay, Rousseau wrote about how good the play was even if the audience should agree with Alceste.  This is a lovely bit of art criticism, in my humble opinion.

Michael Stone, the main character of Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson's stop-motion dark comedy, Anomalisa (read Scott's excellent review right now please and thank you) self-medicates his way through a boring, predictable life where everyone might as well be the same person, as far as he is concerned.  He certainly doesn't treat anyone from cabbie to wife to waitress with an ounce of warmth, until he has a breakdown and meets a woman he sees with fresh eyes, Lisa.  He is genuinely dazzled by her (while under the influence of several martinis and some prescription drugs) but in the cold light of morning, he sees flaws and commonalities in her that transform her into just another clone human.  When it is finally time for Michael to give the presentation, Kaufman reveals how he became this man apart.

Michael teaches customer service representatives how to be better at their job, which mostly involves improved ways to sell your kindness to earn your corporation an extra buck.  He advocates treating all people the same, as if they were your friend, and says smiling costs you nothing.  By treating each human with the exact same hollow kindness, he has descended into a hell where each person is just an interaction to be tolerated until finished.  Neither he or Alceste give a whit for the dynamic range of human variation and their lack of curiosity damns them to lose friends and influence no one, except as a cautionary tale.  

Both pieces were terrifically funny satires of angry men and I, prone as I am to apoplectic tirades*, sure need the reminder.  Be cool, my babies.

*sounds like an oxymoronic phrase, but these are my patented rants that start off with speechless indignation before rapidly accelerating belly-aching, like you started a car in fifth gear going downhill

Saturday, August 01, 2015


Carly Rae Jepsen has released 3 of my top 10 favorite songs of the year so far. 

Working with my boy Blood Orange on this one:

Try not to be happy:

This one is my favorite, it sounds like she hired M83 to produce it:

Monday, June 29, 2015

Second Quarterly

Built to Spill is the disappointment of the young year, with My Morning Jacket second.   I guess that's what I get for liking jam bands.  Gotta accept a lower batting average for the viiiiiiiiiiibe

Braids is weirdly approachable---unnerving after their previous work and because it is emo as balls.

Jamie xx's album came and did not disappoint--a sponge bath for the brain.

I haven't seen many movies these last few months.  Fury Road was the most fun I've had at the movies in years and Jurassic World felt like an alien reproduction the whole time, like there's an AP Meta narrative going on.  But when you cast BDH, you've already sort of thrown in the towel on acting.

Community ended its sixth season without its trademark zippiness.  With the extra six minutes Yahoo! affords it, we still got less laughs than the 22-minute Mr. Toad's Wild Ride of the past, but a good deal of expert pathos and character-building.   The skits at the end of each episode were often the funniest and punchiest writing. If you stopped watching, at least give the penultimate wedding episode a try.  It is the season's best-- funny, bold and Garrett.

Game of Thrones was 90% great and 10% shitty Dorne-storyline...making for their best season yet.  The Americans continued their downhill slide in Season 3 and I think I'm hopping off.  Inside Amy Schumer is pretty damn great, as was Silicon Valley.  I didn't dig Veep quite as much--Patton Oswalt continues getting weird, distracting guest parts.

Wolf Hall was mesmerizing and Thomas Cromwell was played note-perfect.  Mark Rylance deserves some serious hardware.

New on the podcast front (the only subject to which I have any expertise these days) is SPONTANEANATION with Paul F. Tompkins, which is astoundingly good long-form improv storytelling, showcasing The Notorious PFT in all his GODMODE glory and a rotating cast of brilliant improv vets.

WOMP It Up! is a spinoff podcast from Comedy Bang Bang and features the two greatest characters the show has ever created: Marissa Wompler (Jessica St. Clair) and Charlotte Listler (Lennon Parham) and it is absurdly fun.

The Adventure Zone continues to be the podcast I most look forward to and I am not ashamed.

ps Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is really good so far!