Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Gospel According to Phil

You know, Jesus is a pretty strange guy. I mean, a lot of mythological figures can be strange, but it's usually something overt and basic, like having a dog's head or throwing lightning bolts from the sky. Once you can wrap you're head around one or two contradictions the Gods just like you and I. But then there's Jesus. Ignoring all the supernatural water-into-wine stuff, this is a Jew who was killed by the Jews as a collective mass. He said "love thy neighbor" but his followers were responsible for the crusades. Not to mention this is a guy who exorcised one Gadarene Demoniac or two Gadarene Demoniacs depending on who you talk to.

Fortunately Philip Pullman is here to set matters straight. In his latest book, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, he presents a retelling of the gospel, and provides the only rational explanation for all this silliness. Jesus and Christ were two different people! Furthermore they were identical twins!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Edifice of Lies — WikiLeaks Pulls Back the Curtain on U.S. Empire

An article I co-wrote with Brandon Madsen for Socialist Alternative.

On Tuesday, December 7, Julian Assange, founder of the whistle-blowing organization WikiLeaks, was arrested after turning himself in to the Metropolitan Police Service in London. This is the latest in a series of attacks on the organization. The WikiLeaks website has been subjected to denial-of-service attacks. Corporations such as Amazon and PayPal have cut off services to WikiLeaks, while financial institutions such as MasterCard and Visa have been freezing their accounts. Whistleblower Bradley Manning was arrested in May, and faces a military court-martial and up to 52 years in prison.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

100 Music Videos, Part 10: Julieta Venegas to Zemfira

And so "100 Music Videos" comes to an end. We've gone from '80s synth-pop to Finnish black metal to Australian hip-hop. We've seen works by such acclaimed directors as Tarsem Singh, Michel Gondry, Lars Von Trier, Richard Lester and Spike Lee (and we'll get some Spike Jonze in this installment). We've had a re-imagining of Metropolis and a documentay about the making of Easy Rider. And on occasion, we have had nudity. And meat. And eggs.

For our final installment, we will have Mexican fairy tales and Russian paranoid visions. We'll see a band do their take on a classic '70s sit-com and another band do their take on a classic '60s music video. And the epic battle between XTC and Adam Ant that started in our first installment will conclude in this one. Also, a low-budget goth klezmer birthday song.

So I bid you adieu. Or is it au revoir?

91. Julieta Venegas – Limón y Sal

Saturday, December 4, 2010

100 Music Videos, Part 9: Todd Snider to Suzanne Vega

As we near the end of "100 Music Videos", I thought I would share a bit about my "MTV phase" in middle school. Up until 1994 I didn't really pay attention to MTV or music videos or modern rock in general, being more into the Beatles. But then I saw this amazing music video. The song was sort of Beatles-esque psychedelia, but harder, so that was nice. But the video had groundbreaking special effects that just completely wowed me. The song: Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun".

So, naturally, when I was working out what videos to include in this list, that was one of the obvious choices and I went to view it on YouTube. Well the thing about groundbreaking special effects from 1994, is, uh, well, they're not so ground breaking anymore. Also, did you know that, beneath its shiny, clean-cut exterior, suburbia has a dark side? Well I still got a nostalgia kick, but declined to include the video, because I don't think that anybody who wasn't in middle school in 1994 will be able to appreciate it. However, I did include a video by Tool that has groundbreaking special effects from 2001.

So here goes.

81. Todd Snider – You Got Away With It (A Tale of Two Fraternity Brothers)

Friday, December 3, 2010

100 Music Videos, Part 8: Pulp to Smashing Pumpkins

I believe it was Jon Stewart who said "Have you ever seen Scent of a Woman . . . on weed?!" Well, if Jon Stewart reads my blog, then this installment of "100 Music Videos" is probably the blog entry he would advocate reading . . . on weed! This will be the entry where a bunch of naked cyclists is the least trippy thing going on.

Along the way we will have a video from the director of The Fall followed by a video from the director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. We have a video about people's eyes preceded by a band made of giant eyeballs. We've got space adventures and supermarket adventures and mountain adventures. And then there's video number 79.

So go forth and watch . . . on weed!

71. Pulp – Common People

Thursday, December 2, 2010

100 Music Videos, Part 7: Sinéad O’Connor to Public Enemy

Question: What do the first and last tracks of today's installment of "100 Music Videos", Sinéad O'Connor's "The Emperor's New Clothes" and Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" have in common? Okay, they came out in the same year, but what else? Answer: Hank Shocklee.

Shocklee was the leader of "The Bomb Squad" an old-school hip-hop production team, known for utilizing a large number of samples, and creating dense, harsh, dissonant beats, influenced by musique concrète, to enhance the lyrics. They produced most of Public Enemies albums, including "Fear of a Black Planet". And Hank Shocklee also produced the incredibly melodic Irish chick rock of "The Emperor's New Clothes". I don't know, I thought that was interesting.

So let's get on with it, shall we?

61. Sinéad O’Connor – The Emperor’s New Clothes [dir. Sophie Muller]

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

100 Music Videos, Part 6: M.I.A. to My Chemical Romance

Today's installment of "100 Music Videos" is brought to you by the letter "M". All of our featured artists start with "M". But "M" stands for things other than "M.I.A." and "MGMT". It also stands for Man, Music, Mozart. And you will find plenty of examples of music on this list. And there will be two groups of men as well, but no Mozart.

More importantly, "M" is for Morris dancing. And Metropolis. These are things we will definitely see more of in this list. There will also be cows. While cow doesn't begin with "M" in English, it does in Italian, so it still applies to the situation at hand.

So let's get on with it.

51. M.I.A. – Sunshowers [dir. Rajesh Touchriver]

WARNING: This video offended somebody somewhere for some reason.