Come On, Let's Go.
13Jul/102

Words Words Words

One of the best ways, in my opinion, to appreciate hip-hop as a genre is to listen to it in another language. By sacrificing the lyrical content, you can get a much better feel for the sound of the vocals themselves. You can get a hang of both the tone and style of the lyrics, without knowing a word of them. The rhymes and repetitions get interesting as well, as they still ring out, but this time without a lick of context. Coincidentally, you can replicate how I felt listening to any and all music in America at age 6, before I picked up on the language.

Here is Germany's Deichkind with “Limit”:

And here is Jack Parow from South Africa with “Dans Dans Dans”:

Finally, France's Syrano with “Matt l'automate”:

12Jul/100

I Can’t Do My Work

I skipped work this morning on account of throwing my back out enough to leave me almost wholly bedridden until the mid-afternoon. I live a somewhat sedentary lifestyle (yes, even for a pop-culture blogger) and the strain of carrying a 25 lb. bag of laundry for two blocks apparently did me in. I can't say I'm surprised. Thanks to the magic of Facebook, I've watched old schoolmates adopt their more, ah, three-dimensional physiques over the last few years. While it isn't time to give my metabolism the 21-minutes-on-a-treadmill salute just yet, the years of entertaining myself in repose by the light of a monitor seem to be catching up. So, to celebrate my temporary and lazyness-induced incapacitation, here are some videos of one of the laziest things I could possibly think of: other people playing video games.

Thanks to my friends at Metafilter, I was introduced to nesatlas. They combine speedruns with VGMaps' full-level mappings to let you see what it would be like to play NES games in HD. But not in the way you think. The following video is something that needs to be watched fullscreen and in 1080p (since when does YouTube have 1080p?):

8Jul/102

Anticipate the Explosion

Bananas wasn't the only Woody Allen film to feature an actor we would only grow to love later in his career. 1977's Annie Hall features a young Christopher Walken. In this film he plays Annie's somewhat off brother, Duane Hall. You can very well see how he develops into an actor whose every word triggers the human fight-or-flight reflex.

7Jul/103

Shave and a Haircut

The main villains of the 10-year-long, 27-issue Warren Ellis/John Cassaday masterpiece Planetary were a group who called ominously called themselves The Four. Basically, they were a perversion of the classic Stan Lee/Jack Kirby Fantastic Four, whose popularity maintains fifty years after their creation. Where the FF wanted to spread their technology and discoveries to advance mankind, the Four hid everything they found, jealously guarding their (usually stolen) technology and conducting bizarre experiments on human beings. Considering Planetary was an exploration of comics history, having the antagonists be a twisted parody of one of comics' longest-standing teams was a great touch on a great comic.

One of my favorite visual references to the old FF comics came from Planetary #6. I can't take credit for discovering this. I originally read it over at the Planetary Comic Appreciation Page, which, in my opinion, is the best source of Planetary annotations on the web. (Quite possibly, it is also the only complete one.) In the panel below, the disguised William Leather – the Four's Human Torch pastiche – reveals himself to Planetary field agent Elijah Snow:

Here is the original 1962 Lee/Kirby scene from Fantastic Four #4. Namor, the Sub-Mariner (missing since his Golden Age adventures) is revealed from his disguise by the Johnny Storm, the Human Torch we know and love:

6Jul/101

Frosty!

The heat wave continues, with temperatures reaching a record 102F today. Here's some stuff to cool you down for the night:

5Jul/101

Funland at the Beach

So the public schools are out, the city's been hit by an unreasonable heatwave -- they're all unreasonable to me, but this is the first time I've ridden the train shirtless -- and I saw fireworks and visited the beach. Well, Water Taxi Beach, at least: a giant, fence-enclosed sandbox and bar-studded sandbox on a pier in Queens. A friend of mine referred to it as a "hipster terrarium." . It was an enjoyable day; there were DJs, a couple of bands, the correct amount of portojohns (lots) and the food stalls took credit cards. Most importantly, my girlfriend (and this week's Gizmodo illustrator) was participating in a live art show, which was a blast to watch and document. I believe the only rule was the single hour allowed for the session:


Click.

Also, thanks to all these factors, I finally picked a summer song. Now, a summer song has to have a number of requirements for me. It's gotta be noisy, full of distorted vocals and overdriven guitars. It can't be too fast because during the summer I am not in the mood to be hurried. Finally, it has to have absolutely no emotional value in it whatsoever. Naturally, I went with Wavves:

1Jul/102

Every Personal Trace

I helped a friend of mine move today. It was probably the single most coordinated move I have ever been involved in, especially considering she is moving out of her parents' place for the first time. I remember doing that, moving out with barely two suitcases – one for books and one for clothing. I was nineteen and just dropped out of college. I decided to leave the city to live in the woods. Or, at least the college town surrounding Cornell, where one of my closest friends was attending and needing a roommate after his conveniently flaked. I lived rough-and-tumble, having never attended sleepaway college and thus never really lived without the conveniences of home.

A few months later, summer came around and I was forced to split as the apartment was being given up. I moved back home to southern Brooklyn and split a few months later to the cultural mecca of Williamsburg. Except I was living far from the action in a Hispanic residential neighborhood. The apartment was nice, although my room fit little more than the broken futon and file cabinet (?!) it came with, neither of which I had the inclination to remove. I stashed my clothes in the file cabinet and that was that.

My girlfriend at the time got into grad school in sunny California, and I moved there next, to a suburb of Los Angeles. We lived in a housing complex resembling, from the outside at least, the Dude's residence in The Big Lebowski. A few leather couches later, the place felt like home. Except in a black-and-white movie about the future. I could never get used to those floor-to-ceiling windows. We had one in the bedroom and it just weirded me out that someone could quite easily hammer their way right into the apartment. Fortunately, outside of some sort of organized drug-dealing operation bust, a few taggers and the theft of a hammer belonging to Shadow, the hip-hop producer from across the way, the neighborhood was relatively crime-free.

I moved back home after a year in L.A. I couldn't do it and I just missed New York far too much. After spending the longest time living with my mother since my teenage years, the apartment next door to my best friend opened up and I scooped it up immediately. I've been there three years this summer. The room is a bit bigger than the one I had in Williamsburg, but I have real furniture in here now. Even a coffee table. The neighborhood is a bit ...old... however. The only bar around is full of people twice my age, minimum. Hopefully, I'll be on to greener pastures soon enough.

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