Pop Culture Gadabout
Sunday, February 05, 2006
      ( 2/05/2006 10:34:00 AM ) Bill S.  

"YOU'VE GOT YOUR PRIDE AND A BLUE-STEEL 45!" – The Old 97's are moaning about an angry cuckolded husband waiting for the other shoe to fall, so it must be time for some bullet points:
  • It's Super-Bowl Sunday and yours truly plans, as usual, to be somewhere else. Last year, we actually spent some time watching Animal Planet's "Puppy Bowl" (four hours of puppies doin' their thing in a pen cheesily designed to look like a football stadium), but now that we've got our own one-pup bowl we'll probably do some movies. As for my Bowl pick, why, I'm for whichever team is located nearest to me, of course!

  • Josh Marshall has some smart words about the Muslim cartoon controversy in Denmark. Looking at the 'toons themselves, the secular Unitarian in me can't help wondering what the deal is – but then in my younger rabble-rousing days, I once drew a cartoon during the Easter season featuring the Easter Bunny on a cross, so clearly I'm plenty unreliable on this matter. Like Josh, I also bring memories of the fatwa pronounced against Salman Rushdie for The Satanic Verses (a book I've read a couple of times and which strikes me as a darn good fantasy novel), and I suspect he's right when he notes that the essential conflict – Liberalism vs. Authoritarianism, Modernity vs. Theocracy – will become more prominent in the years ahead. When you've got the president of a Baptist seminary in the Midwest not so nonchalantly hinting an evangelical movie company might get firebombed for hiring a gay actor (Gay actors in the movie biz! Who knew?), it's clear the danger ahead is not just gonna be from so-called "Islamofascists."

  • Speakin' of which, am I the only one who reacts badly to that made-up word? Every time I come across it in the blogosphere, I find myself much less willing to go along with anything else its user claims, simply because the word's so grating. I say this as a writer who has plopped more than his share of ill-advised fabricated portmanteaus into this blog, but, man, "Islamofascist" is an unwieldy construction. Just try saying it out and hear how clunky it sounds. Sounds like the kind of double-talk that Professor Irwin Corey might've rejected . . .

  • But back to controversial cartoons for a moment: in particular, Tom Toles' panel which reportedly prompted cries from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Looking at this 'un, I can see why an administration that has attempted to hide the visual of soldiers' coffins would take umbrage at Toles' upfront image, though I find the cartoon fairly tame compared to some of the stuff that came out of the underground comix movement in the Vietnam Era. Greg Irons, more memorably, once did a faux Time magazine cover showing a limbless and very battle-scarred soldier in a wheelchair (wish I could find a copy on the web) with a title recalling Dalton Trumbo's grueling anti-war novel, Johnny Got His Gun. Now that was a nasty image . . .

  • Moving away from politics, I've been replaying Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine quite a lot over the past few weeks. Though I continue to hold out hopes for a full edition of the Jon Brion version to someday surface – much like the un-Spectorized Let It Be was ultimately released – I grow more in tune with the current model's pleasures, even though the first thing to hook me on Apple's last collab with Brion was the jazzy orchestrated hook he gave to "On the Bound." Favorite track from Machine to date, both lyrically and musically: "Window," an I've-caught-you-cheating number where the singer can't decide if she even wants to acknowledge what she's seen. Makes for a good contrast with that Old 97's song (where the cheated party has, in the best country tradition, already decided to do something dire to the cheaters) which I used to open up this round o' bullet pointing. But if anyone wants to claim this contrast is a Venus/Mars dichotomy, I'll quickly refer 'em to the recorded oeuvre of Jo Walston and the Meat Purveyors . . .

  • On the movie front, I caught two low-budget flicks over the weekend. First up, Saw (from Showtime's Video-on-Demand), a movie that requires us to accept that its psychopathic serial killer is capable of staying totally motionless for two hours when I can't sit still for more than two minutes. (Nope, sorry, couldn't believe it . . .) Then there's Trey Parker's Orgazmo (taped off of the Sundance Channel), a much more enjoyable bad-taste romp starring the writer/director as a Mormon who inadvertently becomes a part of the porn industry and a reluctant crime fighter ("I'm not a superhero; I'm a Latter Day Saint!") Caught elements of the Farrelly Brothers' Kingpin in this flick – which apparently was lensed the same year as the first season of South Park – while I know the voice that Parker's hero uses when he's portraying the title superhero is one he's also pulled out for SPark. Some very funny raunchy moments in this rascal plus the sight of Ron Jeremy's face getting kicked in – what's not to like?
More later . . .

Background Music for This Round: Old 97's, Wreck Your Life.

UPDATE: As Captain Spaulding notes in the Comments section and Tegan also indicates on her blog, it's likely that the reaction against the Danish cartoons discussed in bullet point two is due less to the original twelve commissioned cartoons and more to three much more tauntingly offensive forgeries that were produced anonymously to inflame true believers. Boing Boing has the original twelve plus the three forgeries on its site – along with a series of progressively more inflamatory cartoons that have since been produced in the wake of the controversy.

UPDATE II: Roy Edroso expresses his solidarity with the Danish cartoonists . . .
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Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

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