Culture (and TV)
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31 Days of Horror: "Hardware"

Hardware is a movie about a cyborg that hunts a woman relentlessly, murdering everyone who gets in its way. It had the misfortune to be released as the hype was building for the return of the robotic Austrian weightlifter who redefined emptiness of expression and creativity in parking. This inadvertently invited inevitable, illogical comparisons and doomed it to obscurity along with the rest of the rubbish killer robot knockoffs released off the back of the Terminator hype. This is a shame, because Hardware is probably the best sci-fi slasher movie ever made. And sure, its competition is basically the psychedelic Jason X and probably some "Doctor Who" episodes, but [...]

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The Dark Bloom On Young Axl Rose

Reflections on youth at a moment in time: "He isn't pretty yet, he hasn't begun to think of himself as a rock star. He's a boy-man, with a trace of fear in his pugnacious stare. I can't remember what he'd done, that time. Stolen another kid's bike, I think. Or destroyed another kid's bike. When I first saw his hair, I understood something Dana had told me hours before, at a bar: that when they were children, Axl was Raggedy Ann in the Christmas parade. Looking longer, a person could understand something else, too, about the Midwestern darkness in his voice."

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Twista And Raekwon, "The Heat"

Here's the video for Twista's new single, which features some dynamite production from the veteran Chicago team of No I.D. and Traxster (I don't know what that sample is, but I wish I did) and a cooled-out guest verse from Raekwon. Twista, who was original known as "Tung Twista," and, as you might know, was named the world's fastest rapper the Guiness Book of World Records, delivers a typically complicated and impressive staccato rhyme. Ignore the part where he says that he's "as good as Pelican Brief is…" (Because, really? Was The Pelican Brief that good? A matter of opinion, I suppose.) And listen to rest of [...]

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Actress From The Pre-Irony Era Dies

"Her catchphrase — 'Ward, I'm worried about the Beaver'– became a slogan for an age without irony, before the social revolutions of the 1960s would change the way TV portrays the nuclear family forever. -Poor Barbara Billingsley, having that line in her obituary. They didn't even mention the jive scene! Rest in peace, America's mom.

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How To Stand Out As An Actor: "Just Finished Playing a Rapist"!

This solicitation was recently received by a TV person out on the other coast. They say "leave an impression and you'll get remembered!" I suppose that works even if the impression is rather creepy. For reasons of politeness, we've obscured this actor's last name. (And to be fair, it's not like my handwriting's any good either, though it is less rapistey.) But if you're interested in hiring this young man, let us know, and we'll make contact!

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Belle & Sebastian With Jenny Lewis, "Lazy Line Painter Jane" Live

What is your favorite Belle & Sebastian song? Is it "Lazy Line Painter Jane?" If it is, I couldn't argue with you. (Although I could also not argue with you if you said "The Boy With the Arab Strap" or "This is Just a Modern Rock Song.") In any case, if you're not already like, "Shut up, dork," and about to throw in your tape of Katrina and the Waves, you will be happy to watch this performance of "Lazy Line Painter Jane" with the singer Jenny Lewis singing Monica Queen's part that was just recorded in Los Angeles. Hooray!

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Case Studies in Successful Self-Publishing: "To Slow Down the Time"

To Slow Down The Time is an illustrated collection of short stories, written by Matthew Allard. Each of the stories was inspired by an illustration by Ian Dingman, who works widely as a professional illustrator and as a fine artist. The book was produced in two editions. The first was a hand-bound limited edition of 100 books, priced at $35 each. That edition sold out in a week, and a paperback print-on-demand edition was created.

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New on DVD: The Human Tautology, or, The Branding Centipede

When the first announcements surfaced on the Internet in the late summer of 2009, it sounded like a low-budget, energetic, insane Japanese special-effects flick, a la Yoshihiro Nishimura, of Mutant Girls Squad and Tokyo Gore Police semi-fame. A couple festivals in midnight or horror series and it could head to DVD, where it'd get passed around by Takashi Miike fans and brought up on forum threads by gorehounds playing that game where they try to out-cite each other as to who's seen the most outré flick.

It's on DVD now, but the path wasn't what anyone expected a year ago. Some months down the road from those first [...]

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In Defense of the Season Finale of "Mad Men"

According to the always-reliable Internet, many people were unhappy with this season's finale of Mad Men. Most of the criticism seems to be either one of two things: first, that it was just too nonsensical, too fast: the sudden engagement, Don's off-putting happiness, or just the general tenor of LA and its aftermath. The second complaint seems to be that "nothing really happened." (There's a third complaint, from "Lost" creator Damon Lindelof, that it wasn't made clear that the whole cast has been dead through the entire show, but he was pretty much the only one to raise that objection.) Well let's get the first, and seemingly the [...]

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Mystikal Featuring Lil Wayne And Fiend, "Paper Cuts" And The Amorality Of Art

Despite the fact that he has one of the most distinctive voices hip-hop has ever known, it's hard to root for Mystikal. Recording for Master P's No Limit Records, the Operation Desert Storm veteran played a major part in putting New Orleans rap on the map in the late '90s-remember "Here I Go," or "It Ain't My Fault" or "The Man Right Chea?" Then, even as No Limit went into decline, he rose to greater stardom with a string of hits produced by Neptunes that more effectively channeled the spirit of James Brown better than any rapper ever did before or since. "Shake Ya Ass" is [...]

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Let's talk about the finale of Mad Men!

There will be plenty of excitement this evening at 10 PM Eastern when a pissy Peyton Manning scowls on the sidelines in our nation's capital AMC airs the finale to Season 4 of "Mad Men." While the redoubtable Natasha Vargas-Cooper will of course be brining you your weekly installment of Footnotes tomorrow, the way our shared cultural heritage works these days is that everyone watches something and immediately jumps on the Internet to talk about it. (Sometimes they even do so during the event.) So we may as well set up a water cooler (your choice if beverage may vary) right here in anticipation. See you later on [...]

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Justin Beiber: The New Notorious B.I.G.

Have you heard Justin Beiber rap? He does, under the name "Shawty Mane," over the beat from Harlem MC Vado's recent hit "Speaking In Tongues." Vado, it turns out, highly approves! "He killed it," the Harlem rapper told the Daily News. "He sounded like B.I.G."

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31 Days of Horror: "Night of the Creeps"

Many horrible things have been done in the name of collegiate tomfoolery. Yesterday Vice unearthed Todd Phillips' horrific lost documentary "Frat House" on Google video. More terrifying and more gross than anything I'll be writing about, "Frat House" gave me some insight into the fact that frats are not just a story device fabricated for American comedies and they do, in fact, actually exist. So what better to look to for some light relief than an 80s B-movie classic in which a corpse-related prank goes awry, releasing zombifiying brain worms on the entire campus?

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The Very Early Wes Anderson: The Undergrad Fiction

By way of the intellectual jungle that is HuffPo comes news from the archives of Analecta, UT Austin's literary journal. It's director Wes Anderson's 1989 short story from his undergrad years! It has some anomie and some irony!

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Prada Unveils New Shoes of Great Monstrous Evil!

First I hated the Prada camouflage line, which, to be fair, grew on me! A little. It was still obviously ugly and the worst thing is, you know, you're wearing those clothes and everyone's like, "oh there's those Prada camouflage clothes." It's too much on you. And now? And now? BUT AND IF AND? Here. THE "CREEPER WINGTIPS PLATFORM" SHOES.

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31 Days of Horror: "Blood Diner"

Of all the movies we're discussing this month,Blood Diner is the most divorced from reality. It makes an incredibly consistent argument for its own distance from verity. While most films take place in somewhere at least tangentially relatable, Blood Diner drives across that line it in a flaming Cadillac. A Cadillac made of cannibalism, Nudie suits and wrestlers called Eddie Hitler.

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Footnotes of Mad Men: Full of Demands, Empty of Offerings

Don's right-about one thing, at least: teenagers are sentimental. The cynicism with which adults rebel comes from the nihilism of doing what you know is bad for you because you're old enough to understand that these things usually go unpunished. The kind of joyless self-indulgence that adults traffic in doesn't exist for teenagers. For the young, it's unfathomable that act of self-indulgence can bring anything but joy. In the twilight of childhood, you're not sure what's like to be an adult but you know what it feels like to not be a child. Every brush with adult behavior-anything from smoking, to sneaking out, to driving, to fucking-is wrapped in [...]

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31 Days of Horror: "There's Nothing Out There" (Except Mike)

There's only one reason to write about "There's Nothing Out There": Mike. Because Mike, the man who inexplicably escorts three couples he doesn't get on with to a cabin in the woods, is such a hypnotically bad-ass dude that he renders anything else of note in the movie (of which there isn't much of anyway) completely irrelevant. Mike knows he's in a bad horror movie and he's not happy about it. At all.

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The Pixies in Chile: The Best Videos

I personally slept in an extra 33 minutes yesterday, one minute in observance of each Chilean miner, but everyone pays tribute in his own meaningful way, like the Pixies' 33-song show in Santiago the other night. Which, you know: also? An awesome, awesome show. Here's the best four videos we can find from their last few dates in South America.

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A Treasury Of Pastoral Hip-Hop Videos

Check out this video from former Tribe Called Quest affiliate Consequence and former Lil Kim affiliate Maino. It's beautiful and bucolic. They're in the woods. With deer and squirrels and birds. It's very weird, right, with Maino rhyming about shooting people with a chrome .45 and hollering "Brooklyn!" in a club? But as jarring as it is, the juxtaposition of sound and vision, I like it. It's like that awesome episode of "The Sopranos."

A deer makes an appearance in the new video from Yelawolf and Gucci Mane, too.