The only rhythm game in which I had ever managed to not make an utter ass of myself was Rock Band. No, I didn't manage to get any of the actual instruments working -- I tend to freak out and start flailing at those toy guitars about a half minute into any particular song -- but the few teenage years I spent obsessively listening to Nine Inch Nails meant that I could actually remember the proper way to intone The Perfect Drug. I couldn't exactly figure out how to control the damn thing, but I seem to have done alright. Which makes it all the more embarrassing when I see a damn theremin doing a better job than I'll ever be able to:
And, to fatten this post up a bit, here's the Legend of Zelda theme, again, on a theremin:
So, I grew up Jewish, and the grandson of a World War 2 veteran. This means that, for as long as I can remember, World War 2 has been everpresent in my life. Originally, all I knew was that there were the Russians (that's us! the good guys!) and the Germans, and that I was never, ever supposed to draw swastikas (I drew a lot as a kid) -- even if it was on the bad guys! Otherwise, the government would take my family to jail. I may be misremembering that last part, but I was definitely and harshly scolded for drawing swastikas at some point, pre-America.
My fifth grade teacher was a Holocaust scholar/activist so around then I also got a big, real dose of what happened outside of the fighting. Every kid got this brand-new -- schoolbooks were rarely, if ever, new -- copy of a book about the Holocaust with a picture of an wartime atrocity on the cover and a whole lot more inside. And you had to do a report on it.
Repeat that through growing up, through Jewish summer camps and trips to the Holocaust memorial museum and Anne Frank and Life is Beautiful and god-knows-what-else and I can honestly say I am done with Holocaust history. I've had absolutely enough. I fervently avoid books, movies, whatever, having to do with the Holocaust.
All of this is a rather awkward lead-in into this recent discovery. Conceived as a "lost tape" series (in roughly the vein of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, but blamed on the Americans, naturally) Heil Honey, I'm Home is an absolutely bizarre example of what was happening with sitcoms in the era of Married With Children. It will not surprise you that it was cancelled after exactly one episode.
I have to say, though, it is amazing. The theme song is pitch-perfect Leave It To Beaver saccharine. Hitler has a working-class accent and breaks the fourth wall. Long-suffering Eva refers to him as Schicklgruber and mentions his previous career as a "housepainter," a joke Mel Brooks also used in The Producers. Hitler, even when he is not in a sweater-vest, is decidedly un-Hitlerian, laughing and dancing and admitting to Eva that "you were right and I was wrong." Lines like Eva's offhanded "Adolf will kill me" -- she reveals to her fellow housewife and friend Arny Goldenstein that Neville Chamberlain is coming for dinner to make sure "Adolf isn't hiding any tanks or battleships" -- have an incredibly dark bent to them.
There was no way this series was going anywhere. Attaching the most artificially wholesome period of television to one of history's blackest souls yields a great gag, but isn't meant to last. However, as a single-episode artifact, it is a piece of work. I can see why my grandparents and their generation would absolutely despise this, but I can't.
So just on a lark, I decided to search YouTube for chiptune covers of Smiths songs and came up with something considerably better than I had imagined:
This is a cover by Leeni, a Seattle-based vocalist/chiptune composer and it is a lot better than it has any right to be. Although that may very well be my own love for minimalism and this particular style of female vocals. Either way, Leeni (whose official site autoplays loud, loud music) looks like a great upcoming musician, sounding more than a little like a back-to-basics Freezepop ca. their first album. Plus, she makes at least some of her music on an actual GameBoy, and props to that.
Here's another one of her videos, titled "Headphones on Your Heart" and I think I like it even more than the Smiths cover. It is a collaboration with Olympia artist/animator James Franzen. He even set a a sequel to this video to another of Leeni's songs here.
I'm not that fond of anime. My earliest memory watching a dubbed version of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer cartoons as a kid, trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with it. I have some nice memories surrounding the concept though. One of my closest friends was a big anime-fiend in high school, so we'd treck down to the Chinatown mall to purchase subbed VHS bootlegs, neither DVD distribution nor broadband being popular yet. He tried to get me into it, but try as I may, I juts couldn't. Even the universally-acclaimed Cowboy Bebop literally put me to sleep halfway through an episode.
Something I do like, however, is slick editing. And yoshi1013's appropriately- (and hyperbolically-) titled "Every Anime Opening Ever Made" manages to sum up at least a few of my personal distates for anime in a hilarious and clearly loving manner:
Co. Apple Min
Today is International Women's Day, which, far removed from its Party roots, is the occasion for all Russian mothers, grandmothers, aunts, girlfriends and so on to incredulously ask "so, where are my flowers?" (Or maybe that was just my family.)
So, here's Ellen Ripley.
So on the pending release of All Eternals Deck, the new Mountain Goats LP -- which is temporarily available for (free! legal!) streaming courtesy of NPR -- here is my favorite track off their last album, The Life Of The World To Come. And by "favorite" I mean "the only track I really remember enjoying." I didn't much care for the album on a general basis and that one song describing someone slowly dying of cancer in a hospital bed made sure I would never put the album on again, except for maybe this song.
You know what, scratch that, I like Isaiah 45:23" (yes, every song is named after a Bible verse) but that's really only because the "I won't get better/but someday I'll be free/Because I am not this body/that imprisons me" lines pretty much describe John Darnielle's dark optimism perfectly.
So here's "Psalm 40:2". This was from a movie shot specifically for the album, by Rian Johnson (director of Brick,) who also shot the video for "Woke Up New" off Get Lonely. Which is, coincidentally, another Mountain Goats album I can't bear to listen to. But this time, outside of depressives and people who just went through a breakup, I don't think anyone really listens to Get Lonely.
We're off track again. "Psalms 40:2". Go.
If you're a Boards of Canada fan you've probably seen the cover of their EP Twoism. Personally, I fell in love with this cover since the moment I saw it. There's just something so abstractly romantic about the image:
A few years, Josh -- who introduced me to BoC years earlier -- showed me the source. The cover is a photograph of a television playing the 1980 science fiction film The Killings at Outpost Zeta. Yeah, I hadn't heard of it either, but the original screencap is even better than the intentionally-lofi image used for Twoism. In fact, I've been using it as my avatar on websites I do not particularly feel like sharing my face:
So imagine my delight when I found a fan-made video of Killings set to Boards of Canada's "Hi Scores."
There's very little I can say about this video without spoiling it. I'm even avoiding putting tags on it. All I can say is that you have to trust me on this one and watch it all the way through.
Let me just start off by saying that this video is rather NSFW, which is surprising as it had aired on CBS when Kids in the Hall came to America. This is one of the more "artistic" sketches to be found in the series -- albeit nothing like the avant-garde "Sausages" sketch. "The Affair" has a completely different tone to not just to the absurdist mood of the series, but to even all the other filmic sketches, such as the aforementioned "Sausages" or "In Search of Pot." Rather, its humor is a more subtle parody of melodrama: she makes conversation by mentioning how much she loved hors d'œuvres as a child, he nods stoically at the phone before hanging up. The oddly uproarious laugh track and the and the rather explicit sex scenes with an actual woman (non-fans should note that the all-male troupe tends to play both female and male roles) make it all the more weirdly wonderful.