Note: Some of the videos on this list are not safe for work.
Fresh off the conclusion of its third “season,” the ongoing YouTube production of Epic Rap Battles of History has established itself as an online phenomenon. What began as a clever collaboration between two musically inclined friends has ballooned into a prime example of how to produce viral videos. YouTubers Nice Peter and Epic Lloyd have created an interactive platform which has attracted the participation of fellow YouTube celebrities and even some mainstream stars. It’s been so successful that they were tapped to market the latest Assassin’s Creed video game and promote hit AMC television shows. They even got to meet with the president.
If you haven’t come across Epic Rap Battles of History before, here’s your chance to check them out. Personalities from pop culture, politics, and history collide in rhythmic battles to boast and belittle. The results are often hilarious. Here’s the Top 10 Epic Rap Battles of History.
#10. Moses vs Santa Claus
This had to be a big moment for Nice Peter and Epic Lloyd. Having Snoop Dogg (or Lion, or whatever he’s calling himself these days) featured in an epic rap battle lends a legitimacy which could not be acquired in any other way. He steps naturally into familiar territory. It would have been easy to let his presence overwhelm the project, but this back and forth between Moses and Santa Claus delivers enough laughs from each to succeed on its own merit.
“Weird Al” Yankovic, America’s favorite musical parodist, has a new album out. It’s titled Mandatory Fun and it features such songs as “Tacky,” which is a parody of Pharrell Williams’s “Happy,” and “Word Crimes,” a send-up of both Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and poor grammar.
But, if you’re a fan of “Weird Al,” you don’t only like the songs. You like the videos, too. So, in honor of all that, here are the top ten “Weird Al” music videos.
10. We’re so fiercely independent that the only thing we need to be happy… is a man.
Post-second wave feminist romantic comedies rely on the Sheryl Sandberg boilerplate: upper-middle class, successful career woman with an impossibly huge apartment in big city stuffed with everything she could ever want. (See: Reese Witherspoon in Just Like Heaven.) The genre gives the image one slight twist: our heroine is secretly one step away from cultivating her very own cat collection. (See: Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail.) True to Hollywood fashion, who better than the big, strong male superhero to fly in to save the day?
This working class comedy executive-produced by Vince Vaughn and Peter Billingsley is fraught with all the non-PC ethnic and sexual humor you’d hear in a working class, Irish-Korean, middle-American bar like the one in the show. Created by Korean American actor/comedian Steve Byrne and Cheers writer Rob Long, the TBS sitcom reminds you that some jokes are still OK to crack. The stellar cast features Dan Lauria (The Wonder Years) and comic genius Brian Doyle-Murray, along with Christine Ebersole and Owen Benjamin, who portray the drop-dead hysterical mother-son dependent duo Carol and Owen Walsh.
It’s wedding season, which means my roommate and I have been shopping for gifts to give our female friends at their bachelorette parties. It’s a fine line to walk — you want to give her something racy that everyone can giggle at (and that she might realistically wear), but not SO outrageous that it makes her and everyone around uncomfortable. We’re not prudes, but we’re not getting anyone a ball gag, either.
Fortunately it’s also the season of the lingerie sale (probably not coincidentally) so we’ve had ample browsing opportunities. A few items, though, just made me scratch my head. How do you put it on, or get it off? How is that remotely comfortable, or sexy? What does it mean?! I invite you, dear readers, to investigate each case with me. Can you explain this lingerie to me?
Hi lovely readers! I’m so happy, I wanted to share the news with all of you: I’ve just entered freelance life. Yes, I actually chose this — worked quite hard, in fact, to earn this freedom. My mom has been sharing with me the lessons she’s learned over several decades of freelance work: don’t undersell yourself; create a schedule for your day; put your clothes and makeup on every morning to make yourself feel focused and ready to work.
So no, I haven’t been living the pants-optional life. Okay, I’m wearing shorts most days. Sometimes yoga leggings. This has raised the question among some of my brilliant colleagues here on the blog: what do Hannah’s business pants do without her?
Rather than leave their curiosity unsatisfied, I present the world with the following list. Think of it as a day in the life of Hannah’s pants.
CNN reports on Eretz Nehederet, Marcus’s first creation.
Omri Marcus is the #1 TV Geek you’ve never heard of. An Israeli journalist-turned-hit TV comedy writer, Marcus made it big thanks to his scientific understanding of comedy, a theory he delves into in a recent interview with Tablet magazine. The dialogue provides a fascinating look at Israeli television, an industry still cutting its teeth thanks to decades of gross nationalization. Until the introduction of foreign channels, the country lived off of one government-run station that began broadcasting in 1968. Color transmissions, a topic of great bureaucratic battles, didn’t begin until 1983. Hitting the industry on the cusp of change, Marcus, 34, helped launch the nation’s greatest comedy hit Eretz Nehederet (This Wonderful Country – think: SNL meets The Daily Show) from a hall closet next to a ladies’ bathroom. Now he’s sought out by TV execs around the globe.
Not ironically (he is a comedian, after all) Marcus made a funny observation about the one thing all TV writers’ rooms have in common:
“One of the best things about my work is that I’ve been to so many writer’s rooms all around the world and they’re basically the same anywhere,” Marcus said. “They are all dominated by a group of neurotic Jews. You know, my dream is to create the world’s largest Jewish writers’ room: German Jews and British Jews and American Jews and Israelis, all sitting together and writing jokes about how they’re not getting laid.”
So, do Jews run TV? Not quite:
“The fact that the world is this global village allows you to reduce the risks in making TV,” Marcus said. “You learn a lot from other countries, and we are all, after all, just storytellers. The stories we tell may differ in details, but they should all be appealing, with well-crafted characters, leaving viewers feeling as if they’ve spent their time wisely watching your show. By learning from each other, we’re able to create great, longer-lasting, and more meaningful content.”
Along with developing a rather scientific dating game involving Google glasses, the Huff-Po contributor maintains BizarreTV, a Facebook page where he chronicles the strangest television shows he’s encountered around the globe. My personal favorite is While You Were Sleeping:
How would you feel if you woke up in the middle of the night and discovered that you’re in the middle of a TV game show? ‘While You Were Sleeping’ is the first game show that gives you money while you’re fast asleep! In each episode one couple plays for a chance to win a cash prize. The twist – only one partner knows what’s going on! To stay in the game they must answer the trivia questions correctly, or risk performing a crazy and hilarious challenge – without waking up their partner!
Other shows featured include The Shower, in which contestants sing in the shower before a live studio audience, Guys in Disguise, a dating show that requires a woman to choose from 2 secret admirers dressed in bizarre costumes and I Wanna Marry “Harry” a new FOX dating game featuring a Prince Harry lookalike.
Currently working under an exclusive, multi-year deal with European media conglomerate ProSieben, chances are Marcus’s shows will be hitting American shores for decades to come.
I met him at a small restaurant on a rainy Friday afternoon. He showed up at my table and said hello. I was surprised: what was a toasted turkey sandwich doing at a burger joint?
And then he told me.
“I’m running for president,” he said.
He was unhappy with the rest of the menu. The candidates had too many tomatoes, too much honey mustard dressing. But he was just right.
I was skeptical. Many sandwiches have told me that they’re just right, and I believed them — only to be fooled in the end. They either tasted strangely or were overcooked or had missing ingredients.
I mentioned my concerns. He laughed. That’s why he was at the restaurant.
“I was hoping people would give me a chance. I didn’t want to be defined by the media,” he said.
It had happened before. He ran four years ago and was defeated when commentators found out that he contained cucumbers instead of pickles. Some of them tried to explain that pickles and cucumbers are, in fact, the same thing, but no one would hear it. They’d set the narrative. He was an elitist sandwich.
He wanted to know if I’d be willing to have a small bite. Right now? I asked. But I’d already eaten lunch. Still, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to sample a potential ’16 contender. So I obliged.
And man, was he good. He was honestly the best sandwich I’d ever tasted. I told him as much.
“Thanks,” he said. “Tell your friends. I want to start getting more name recognition.”
So that’s why I’m writing this post. Look out for turkey sandwich. Make sure you greet him when you see him sliding across town. Support him in the primaries.
According to NBC News, the Pentagon has spent $300,000 over the past 5 years to study the grooves of such creepy world leaders as Osama bin Laden and Vladimir Putin, believing that their body movements will aide in predicting their “future decisions and actions”.
The program called the “Body Leads Project” released a 2008 report entitled “Movement, The Brain and Decision-making, the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin.” Pentagon researchers again studied the Russian president in 2012, Defense Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said.
…While the results of the research is not classified, Kirby said Friday the Pentagon has no intention of publicly releasing the two previous reports on Putin to the media.
The body movement projects are conducted under the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment which provides updated thinking and insights regarding a wide range of military and foreign policy issues.
The news comes as U.S. lawmakers are asking the Obama Administration why the Russian leader’s military movements in the Crimea came as such a surprise to the White House.
“I guess we just don’t dance to the same music,” Obama responded. He then issued an executive order requiring all State Department officials to spend their weekend partying in Russian underground clubs throughout the D.C. area.
“It’s not like they aren’t doing it already. And who could blame them? Anna Chapman was hot,” Obama remarked on the order, referencing the Russian national who was deported in 2010 for spying on the U.S. government. When asked about the potential security breaches posed by such an executive order, President Obama was quick to add, “Hey, my pen and my phone are scanned every day for the latest in spy technology. The decision making of this administration goes through me, and I go through that phone and that pen. We’re air-tight.”
In an effort to boost knowledge of Putin’s moves, the Obama Administration has also sought out Russian singer Eduard Khil, a.k.a. Mr. Trololo. Khil became famous for improvising a musical performance on live television after Soviet censors banned 3 consecutive versions of the song’s lyrics for being too pro-American.
“We’ve elected to transform our free-form performance art, meditation, and yoga, eco-friendly breakroom space into a dance studio for intelligence purposes,” one State Department official detailed on condition of anonymity. “I mean, it’s not like we’re doing it at a corporate retreat, so we won’t get in trouble for blowing taxpayer money on it like the IRS did.”
Do you have the moves like Putin? The Obama Administration wants you. The big 3 television networks are already in talks with Valerie Jarrett to produce the first ever reality talent competition Intelligence Idol to recruit new intelligence agents. Contestants would submit personal dance videos via YouTube for consideration by a panel of judges rumored to include Jennifer Lopez, Joe Biden, and at least one Drag Queen Skyping in from Kadena Air Base.
One reporter did question the cost of the Pentagon research, stating, “If you really wanted to understand Putin, couldn’t you have bought enough copies of Disinformation for the entire staff with the money you threw away on that ridiculous study?”
“Two legs good, four legs better…to dance on you with,” was the official response.
In an era where problems abound – issues like the threat of a nuclear Iran, runaway federal spending, and an overreaching executive branch – it’s important to focus on the most urgent crises facing this country: a potential nationwide clown shortage! Fortunately, the New York Daily News is on top of it for all of us in this exclusive report:
As the “Greatest Show on Earth” returns to Brooklyn Thursday, circus folk fear a national clown shortage is on the horizon.
Membership at the country’s largest trade organizations for the jokesters has plunged over the past decade as declining interest, old age and higher standards among employers align against Krusty, Bozo and their crimson-nosed colleagues.
“What’s happening is attrition,” said Clowns of America International President Glen Kohlberger, who added that membership at the Florida-based organization has plummeted since 2006. “The older clowns are passing away.”
Membership at the World Clown Association, the country’s largest trade group for clowns, has dropped from about 3,500 to 2,500 since 2004.
Of course the clowning industry (and I can’t believe I just used that phrase) knows the solution to their problem – getting more kids and teens to consider clowning as a career.
“The challenge is getting younger people involved in clowning,” said Association President Deanna (Dee Dee) Hartmier, who said most of her members are over 40.
Kohlberger said that it’s difficult getting younger people who develop an early interest in the many facets of clowning to stick with it on the professional level.
“What happens is they go on to high school and college and clowning isn’t cool anymore,” he said. “Clowning is then put on the back burner until their late 40s and early 50s.”
Cyrus Zavieh, the president of New York Clown Alley, a group that boasts 45 members across the New York area, said clowns can pull in up to $300 for a birthday party — but that’s hardly a financial incentive for many young people.
“American kids these days are thinking about different careers altogether,” said Zavieh, 44, who has worked under the moniker Cido for nearly two decades.
“They’re thinking about everything other than clowning.”
It’s up to this generation of parents to reverse this alarming trend. Instead of encouraging your sons and daughters to become doctors or lawyers or grooming them to carry on the family business, why not gently nudge them toward the noble art of clowning? We know from the clowning associations that it’s a challenging, multi-faceted, and rewarding career. Think about the joy you’d have as a parent watching your child entertaining thousands at The Greatest Show on Earth! Or imagine your pride as the clown you raised makes a little one scream and cower in fear.
None of us want to have to say one day in the future, “Remember clowns?” Don’t let these delightful entertainers become extinct. Don’t let clowning go the way of the Victrola or the black and white console television. Now is the time to ensure the future of clowning for future generations. For the children.
Unless clowns creep you or your kids out. In that case, never mind.
The country that used to permit the performance of “Can’t Buy Me Love” on the grounds that it was a song critical of prostitution in the West has no problem pimping out its female athletes to soften its rather uptight image ahead of the Olympic Games. The salacious images portray female athletes in poses more typical of lingerie models, pole dancers, and strippers than skiers, curlers and hockey players.
Russian male athletes have yet to pony up to the cameras and bare near-all.
When asked how photos of nearly naked female athletes will quell the concerns surrounding the Sochi games, including “disputes about homophobia, world leaders refusing to attend, and mega-security at Sochi,” the response received was: “It is democratic to look at half naked women. Women are beautiful. Everyone likes a pretty girl. Which is why we send ugly ones to Siberia.”
Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg
Newest SNL actor Sasheer Zamata hosts a Girls walking tour of Brooklyn via Above Average. It’s a tight skit with a lot of great one liners like, ”Cafe Grumpy: It’s where Hannah works and they have a drink there called ‘The Hannah’ and…it’s an 8 dollar cup of coffee.” Funny enough, although the real humor in the sketch is that the black fan of a critically defined “all-white-girls” show is being portrayed by a talented black actress who was brought onto SNL to fulfill the critics’ affirmative action casting quota.
The sketch clashes with reality on another note: For many Brooklyn natives, the Girls have worn out their welcome. Citing an increase in obnoxious tourists seeking photographs of baristas at Cafe Grumpy, the New York Daily Newsreports:
“The booksellers at Spoonbill and Sugartown on Bedford Ave. are similarly perplexed by the influx of millennials who show up and recreate the show’s seminal kissing scene in the stacks.
…It gets worse. The show has even spawned its own guidebook — as if HBO’s “take hipsterism and add water” needed more explanation.
“The Unofficial Girls Guide to New York” invites struggling twentysomethings to “get to know New York the way the ‘Girls’ know it.”
But real New York “girls” aren’t buying it.
“I hate anything that puts a label on what we’re doing. I came here to live outside of the box, not in one,” says Johanna Hickey, 31, who works three jobs and lives in Greenpoint. ‘It pisses me off.’”
I realize that Melissa Harris-Perry’s little stunt on MSNBC, comparing the word “Obamacare” to the “N” word, was just that — a feeble attempt to get anyone with a pulse to watch her network and click on the website. After all, most of the network’s anchors have been banished to broadcast outer darkness for crimes against human decency and the channel’s longstanding tradition of desperation is quickly devolving into pathological, endless mortification.
But I wonder if there isn’t some merit to the point Harris-Perry was making before she launched into a prurient soliloquy on Obama Her Savior. After all, in any honest word-association test, most rational Americans would think first of words like debacle, disaster, and fraud when confronted with the realities of Obamacare. Aside from the failures of the website, it is an attack on 1/6 of the economy, the results of which we have not yet seen, and it is also in the process of destroying and dismantling the best, most innovative healthcare system the world has ever known. Not only that, it has eroded Americans’ faith in government and attacked the fundamental structures of our constitutional republic, destroying religious liberties in the process. Not to mention the coming Medicaid timebomb. As Harris-Perry said, “The Affordable Care Act will loom large in the president’s legacy as the singular accomplishment of his two terms,” adding that he is “playing to win.”
Harris-Perry said the term Obamacare was meant to “shame and divide and demean.” I say that Obamacare itself shames and divides and demeans. And so I call on the FCC to force all broadcasters to bleep the word Obam#!@$e from now on. No one should be permitted to speak this treasonous word on the airwaves from this day forward. The FCC bans “profane” language between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., defining profanity as “including language so grossly offensive to members of the public who actually hear it as to amount to a nuisance.” I’d say that “Obamacare” undoubtedly fits within the boundaries of that definition. We should also vow to stop using Obam#!@$e in its original form in print and online media.
If Ohio Governor Kasich could issue a proclamation banning the letter “M” in the state due to the rivalry between the Ohio State University Buckeyes and the Michigan Wolverines — Kasich noted that U.S. Fish and Wildlife is considering adding wolverines to the threatened species list — the FCC ought to be able to ban the word that is threatening our health care and our very liberty, which amount to far more than a “grossly offensive nuisance.”
Wednesday, December 4th, 2013 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg
The AP reports that Munich-based Constantin Film will be producing a movie based on German author Timur Vermes’s bestselling novel about the Nazi Dictator. In Er ist Wieder Da, Adolf Hitler “…awakens in modern-day Berlin and becomes the star of a TV comedy show.” No word on whether this “comedy show” will mirror the contemporary Asian game show trend of finding humor in putting fellow citizens in odd, even purportedly life-threatening situations. The film is set to be released in 2015.
Despite Hitler being a “touchy subject” for many Germans, the novel has sold over 1.3 million copies since its debut in 2012. English speakers, have no fear. A translation of the book, titled Look Who’s Back, will be released in April of next year.
In other Hitler satire news, Hitler Rants Parodies (featured above) recently celebrated five years on the web. BothVermes and Constantin Film have as much to do with the YouTube sensation as the psychotic mass murdering dictator has to do with having a laugh. One thing we can confirm: the authors of Er is Wieder Da and Hitler Rants Parodies both know how to humorously kill a conversation.
No word yet on when the satirical biopic about Soviet leader Josef Stalin (working title: Hitler Always Said I Should Laugh More) is set to hit the silver screen. According to several unconfirmed reports, the studio involved is having trouble obtaining a finished draft of the script that isn’t covered in trace amounts of polonium-210.
Monday, November 25th, 2013 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg
With all the ugly Christmas sweaters going around, we Jews need to catch up with the trend of bad-taste giving. Sure, you could go for a Menurkey in honor of Thanksgivukkah, or one of the other memorably odd menorah choices, but in the era of heightened European anti-Semitism, Putin’s Syrian intervention, and negotiations with Iran these simple, silly pleasures seem rather passe. Trendy tacky giving requires matching the spirit of the season as well as cultural vogue. With that in mind, I present to you the Top 5 most timely, tacky, and totally tasteless Hanukkah gifts for 2013.
Great for those American kids who still have the privilege of checking “Decline to Respond” next to questions about racial and ethnic identification, Papers Please is a video game that’s sure to please the tech geek on your list this holiday season. This cheap downloadable PC game’s pixelated animation will hark back to the days of Oregon Trail sans the Donner Party madness. In Papers Please the evil is clean-cut; no need to rape a street whore and throw her out of the car for extra points. As the bureaucrat you simply refuse entry to those in need.
Kindness is the killer in this game, a “dystopian document thriller” about the evils of government paperwork. The perfect training ground for a nation of future bureaucrats, Papers Please is a testimony to Stalin’s axiom, ”Bureaucracy is the price we pay for impartiality.” Perfect for the little Schindler in your life.
A Ukranian website whose servers are located in Berlin has cultivated a Twitter following among Russian-speakers who love playing Nationalist Simulator – Defend Ukraine. This is the perfect gift for that friend with Eastern European proclivities who just can’t stomach Russians, gays, Americans, and, of course, Jews.
“The objective of the game is to shoot the rainbow flags, Russian flags, American flags, red balls and Jews, who are represented by orange circles adorned with yarmulkes and sidelocks.” Perfect for the self-loathing among us, Russian-speaking Twitter user Denis Goldman (ethnic/religious persuasion unidentified) asked, “God, why had no one come up with this amazing game?”
Given the implied hatred of Russians, I’m guessing the picture of Putin riding a bear implodes if you can get past all those pesky Jews, gays, and Yankees.
*Disclaimer: This article is intended for entertainment and exercising-your-inner-MacGyver purposes only. The weapons in this article are potentially dangerous and should only be used on the living dead or surplus pumpkins.*
I have an obsession with everything Zombie-related. I love The Walking Dead, 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead – hell, I think I’m the only one who liked World War Z (I’ve always wanted a Macro zombie movie that focuses on the global ramifications of a worldwide outbreak instead of focusing on a small group of survivors). Now I know that there is no likelihood of the dead reanimating, but I think it’s a great mental exercise to prepare yourself for a disaster situation. On slow days at work I often wonder what I would do if a zombie outbreak occurred at work and I was stuck with only my bug-out bag and pistol that I leave secured in my car, while the heavy artillery is locked in a safe at home 35 miles away.
So you’ve survived the initial outbreak and are looking for a secure location to hole up for awhile and ride out the worst of it. You find a hardware store that is defensible, probably close to a grocery and drug store, and chock-full of goodies to aid in your survival. The only problem is that uncreative looters have taken the most apparent weapons: machetes, hatchets, crowbars, and hammers. But you haven’t survived this long without some ingenuity. It’s time to build up an arsenal for you and your small band of post-apocalyptic warriors.
Steel Bar Stock Machete
A machete is a great tool for dismembering the undead hordes. While this homemade version may not be as graceful as Michonne’s katana, it will definitely get the job done.
Supplies: 24″ x 2″ x 1/8″ piece of steel bar stock, Angle grinder or metal file, Dremel with metal grinding cone, jigsaw or hacksaw with a metal cutting blade, honing stone, 5gal paint stir stick, duct tape, black spray paint
My friend and colleague Steve Grammatico is out with his new book, “You Hear Me, Barack?” a collection of his mordant, satirical takes on President Obama and his extended family of zany, lovable characters, including the first lady, the vice president, and a host of other comic-opera Public Enemies currently adored by the collection of circus clowns known as the White House Press Corps. Please enjoy my introduction and the following excerpts and remember: this is no dream, this is really happening.
When the late Andrew Breitbart asked me in the fall of 2009 to start a new website called Big Journalism, the first thing I looked for in potential contributors was a sharp wit and a way with words. Luckily for me, one of the first people who signed on was Steve Grammatico, who quickly carved out a place for himself as our house satirist par excellence – the scourge of leftist cant, pious liberal nonsense and pie-in-the-sky progressivism.
Steve began his rise to punchlines and punditry in a typically 21st-century way, as the commenter “Sagman” on the influential lucianne.com website, where his sparkling insouciance quickly won him a loyal following. Wrote one fan: “writing good political satire involves more than wit and words; it requires exceptional knowledge of personalities, politics, and policies.”
Satire, as the great playwright George S. Kaufman famously noted, is what closes on Saturday night. As someone who, under the nom de plume of “David Kahane,” has written a fair amount of satire myself, I would amend that wisecrack to “bad satire.” Good satire – biting, crackling and always on target, but never simply mean and insulting – is what plays and plays. Because, at its heart, everybody knows its true. And even when it’s not, it is anyway.
If you doubt me, consider this: The Beggar’s Opera, a work of the English musical theater which skewered contemporary politicians, manners and mores has been playing, more or less continuously, since 1728. Yes, you read that right: for nearly three hundred years, both in its original form by John Gay and Johann Pepusch, and in its German incarnation by Bert Brecht and Kurt Weill, “The Threepenny Opera.” And you know what? It’s still funny.
Hence, this book, drawn from Steve’s work for Big Journalism and elsewhere. Chief among these pieces are the series of the Obama War Room parodies, in which all the villains of the administration are given free rein to express their innermost thoughts to a largely bewildered and clueless Barry, with the fun almost invariably ending when Michelle breaks into the room to berate the hapless president, her tirades ending with the words, “You hear me, Barack?”
In short, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll wonder aloud, “what the hell were we thinking?” in electing Barack Hussein Obama president in 2008 and again in 2012. “My goal,” he says, “is to get people to laugh, to see my scenarios as a warped and often not so warped reflection of reality. For me, incongruity is at the heart of satire.”
So sit back, relax and enjoy this parade of poltroons, hoist high with their own petards. You’re in the hands of a master.
I’ve written briefly before about how my hometown of Covington, GA has played host to Hollywood productions for nearly six decades. Currently, The Vampire Diaries films here, and the show has brought with it a unique brand of tourism. A local couple takes Vampire Diaries fans on tours, and fans camp out to watch hours upon hours of filming around town. The cult nature of the show lends a kitschy vibe to the cottage industry it has produced in Covington.
Our local Chamber of Commerce recently debuted an ad spoofing the vampire culture in Covington at a baseball tournament that took place here in town. The ad features a vampire who takes a mother and daughter on a tour of Covington. More importantly, it features many of our town’s beautiful sites. It’s clever, funny, and well made (other than the vampire’s ridiculous accent) – no sane person would take it for anything other than a spoof.
Not that Covington’s Chamber of Commerce was planning on rolling out the red carpet for me anytime soon anyway, but the video has scared me away from that town forever. No, the lame-acting vampire who stalks a mother and daughter and eventually consumes (we are led to believe) the mother, hardly scared me, it was the fact that some higher-ups in the town actually approved the video to be used as a promotional tool for the town. Who wants to be in a town with leadership that careless?
It would be akin to Brentwood, Calif., showing the chase of O.J. Simpson in his buddy’s Bronco as a promotional tool for that Los Angeles suburb.
Let’s go ahead and have Cincinnati promote the fact that Charles Manson was born there, Chicago promote that O’Hare is considered the most dangerous airport in the U.S., or Pinos Altos, N.M., promote the fact that one of its residents was killed by a mountain lion in 2008. Oh boy, Mom, let’s go hiking in Pinos Altos. While we’re at it, let’s see a commercial for the Big Apple telling us to visit New York City, the best possible place in the U.S. to catch the flu. Or St. Louis, which can say it’s only a short drive across the Mississippi River Bridge away from East St. Louis, Ill., considered by many as the worst town in America.
News flash, Kyle: Vampires don’t exist! All the other examples you mentioned are terrible events that took place in the real world, but a television series about vampires doesn’t quite touch them.
I get this question a lot—especially when I’m home in the Midwest. D.C. is a semi-mythical place to the outside world. The national view of the Capital is a dichotomous. To some, this city is like that shown in Independence Day—our president flies fighter jets and we give aliens “the finger.” The residents all wear flag pins on their suits as they save the world each day. View #2 is that everyone who lives in the swamp (D.C. is built on a swamp) is unfeeling and bloodsucking, like the mosquito, and is out of touch with the outside world.
Honestly, Washington, D.C. is like a group of bumbling, young girl scouts on a camping trip. I can say this because I was both a little girl and a girl scout—so no harm in my making fun of myself and my “troop” of friends. Not many little girls get up in the morning bent on creating chaos and pain—and, like them, most people in D.C. go to work meaning well. They want to get things done and receive praise—like selling the most Girl Scout cookies, bringing their troop greater glory, and helping people in their community. Of course, there’s always that one girl who refuses to help paddle the canoe and just wants the next colored sash…but, you can usually win her over by trading some beanie babies—or political favors.
The second-most popular question that I get is; How is the bar scene–how are the people?
I think the biggest surprise after I moved to D.C. were the bars and their dating scene. Back in good ‘ole Wisconsin and Ohio, bars were primarily dark, low-key places that tended to have a Badger game playing. You show up in whatever you’re wearing: suit, flannel, hunting gear, wedding dress (it’s happened) and you’re welcomed with open arms. You also make friends with whoever you’re sitting next to—you might even join friend groups and move on to another bar en masse.
In Washington D.C., people dress up to go out—even to patronize dive bars. D.C. bars are the salons of revolutionary France–they are where the young, political gentry hang out and talk about themselves–and where the bourgeois go to get noticed.
Shepard Fairey, the creator of the famous Obama “Hope” poster, made news recently with another piece of bizarre visual propaganda, this time denouncing America’s habit of clinging to guns and religion.
He produced the poster last month in support of the failing anti-gun legislation, and most recently had it printed on hundreds of protest signs in anticipation of a massive anti-gun rally in Washington. From sympathetic Buzzfeed.com: “Artist Shepard Fairey will paper downtown D.C. Thursday with copies of a new work aimed at reigniting the push for gun control.” Reality check: the advertised Occupy The NRA rally attracted only about 60 participants.
That the anti-NRA poster looks Orwellian is not a coincidence. Fairey probably believes he has a spiritual channel directly to George Orwell: after all, he had designed book covers for Penguin’s Animal Farm and 1984, in addition to a series of nightmarish posters collectively titled Nineteeneightyfouria. His Orwellian connection, however, is very unflattering. Lacking the depth and, apparently, the slightest understanding of Orwell’s actual message, Fairey rather channels some mind-numb Party functionary out of George Orwell’s novel as he manufactures establishment propaganda that facilitates the takeover of the individual by the all-powerful state.
The gallery page gives this blurb about Nineteeneightyfouria, likely written from the artist’s own words:
Shepard’s artwork both scrutinizes and distorts the narrative of the modern American Dream. Commenting on underpinnings of what Shepard terms the ‘capitalist machine’, it aims to critique those who support blind nationalism and war. Fairey addresses monolithic institutional authority, the role of counter culture, and independent individuals who question the cultural paradigm.
Wednesday, April 24th, 2013 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg
So, you want to pitch a TV show — a sitcom no less! Or maybe you’re just an armchair TV enthusiast, a mental writer playing out episodes of the ideal sitcom in your head. Whether your concept is ideal or idyllic, if you want to get it off the ground, you need to get your head out of the clouds and start viewing your human reality in terms of numbers — good numbers. Take a tip from Seth MacFarlane: Be sure to include an African American, a disabled character, and an Asian reporter if you want to stand a chance in TV land.
In other words, start counting your minorities.
It’s all in the spirit of being fair that we view people based on their color, class, gender, or physical ability. Not only is it fair, it is super easy to follow the 4-step program for crafting your perfectly pitch-able TV sitcom.
So, get out your calculators and get ready for a math lesson in how to write a situation comedy for television!
Wednesday, March 27th, 2013 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg
Part 1 of a 4 Part series Deconstructing Family Guy
When Seth MacFarlane sang about boobs at the Oscars, I’m pretty sure he was referring to his own fans.
Most of the time it is taken for granted that we recognize the latent moronic nature of most television programming today.
Then again, do we?
If we agreed as a culture that television programming like Family Guy is so moronic, why would a collective cheer rise up at the sight of another Emmy win? Would we be told by media commentary royalty to worship Seth MacFarlane, the show’s creator, as fascinating? Not only does the guy have mega street cred in the pop culture universe, the primetime structure he’s so wholeheartedly mocked is singing his praises. In fact, it could be said that Family Guy’s seemingly counterculture humor has been legalized by the mainstream.
What’s more, like a bad addiction, Family Guy is the drug that has turned a generation of Boob-Tube addicts into junkies. So, what are the signs, Doctor? How do you know when a co-worker, a friend, even a loved one has become a total Boob? Let’s play MediaMD as we examine the 5 most common side effects of watching Family Guy.
Freelance writing is a financially precarious career – you’ve always got to be on the lookout for new opportunities, or you’re screwed. So when I found out recently about a relatively new online magazine called Inspire, my first thought was: hmm, what can I come up with that they might want to use?
Now – and hey, here’s a tip for you kids looking to move into the fast lane of the media game – the first thing you do in situations like this is to study the publication in question and try to determine its worldview, its style, its tone, its intended audience, and so on. Inspire, as it happens, is published by an organization called al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Not al-Qaeda itself, mind you, but a branch of al-Qaeda with a similar but longer and more geographically specific name. It’s published in English and is apparently aimed at jihadist fanatics and aspiring jihadist fanatics.
A Fox News writer helpfully noted in 2010 that the magazine is “designed to encourage would-be terrorists into acts of violence,” and quoted Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution as saying that it’s “clearly intended for the aspiring jihadist in the U.S. or U.K. who may be the next Fort Hood murderer or Times Square bomber.” Useful info for an aspiring contributor! A while back Inspire ran an article titled “I Am Proud to be a Traitor to America” by an author who, not long afterward, was taken out by a U.S. drone in Yemen. For a freelancer, this sort of thing is great news: when a publication’s regular contributors are being systematically decimated in anti-terrorist strikes, it’s more likely that there’s always going to be room for fresh blood.