‘I flew the flag in London’s gay pride parade because Isis is deserving of mockery and disrespect. I never thought CNN would think it was real’
Paul Coombs writes: I spent the morning of London’s Pride parade hand-stitching dildos onto a flag.
I’d been using the sex-toy motif in my work before I made a flag of Isis out of them and brought it to the march. Previously, I’ve attached dildos onto postcards from each country where homosexuality is still illegal to point out that the laws of these places regards its gay residents as mere sex objects.
The decision to make the flag was a simple one: a sense of outrage at Isis’s brutal advance across North Africa, Libya, Syria and Iraq. Medieval ideologies and barbarism were being spread and recorded
through that most modern of expressions, social media, with that flag ever-present. It has become a potent symbol of brutality, fear and sexual oppression. If I wanted to try and stimulate a dialogue about
the ridiculousness of this ideology, the flag was key.
It was important that I didn’t try to replicate the writing on the flag, because the words and their subject – Islam – are not the target. But if I showed as little respect to this flag as Isis shows to the religion and people they claim to represent so that when people saw it they would think, “dildos”? Would that be a crazy idea?
The Pride festival is a pure celebration of the finest aspects of humanity: of tolerance, togetherness, acceptance and liberation, the polar opposite of what Isis stands for. If there was anywhere where my flag had a voice, it was there. And I had an invitation to march in the parade with a friend involved with “Alien Sex Club”, an art project exploring the HIV syndemic by John Walter. Read the rest of this entry »
In our previous news story, the headline said “Girl Bursts into Flames After Hillary Touches Her’. The headline should be “Girl Bursts into Tears After Hillary Touches Her’. Our team of fact checkers and lawyers overlooked this understandable error. Fortunately, we discovered it. There is no independent verification of a girl bursting into flames at a Hillary Clinton event. We reviewed the video, and confirmed that. We regret our mistake.
Thank you for reading punditfromanotherplanet.com.
Robert Nason writes: In Alfred Hitchcock’s films, the lack of information—or the possession of it—can have deadly consequences. The titles are revealing: “Suspicion” (1941), “Notorious” (1946), “The Man Who Knew Too Much” (1934, 1956). In his concise, insightful book on the director, Michael Wood asserts that in Hitchcock’s films there are “only three options: to know too little, to know too much . . . and to know a whole lot that is entirely plausible and completely wrong.”
“Some claim that Hitch was a sadist who took ‘pleasure in seeing beautiful women in harm’s way.’ Mr. Wood argues that Hitchcock worked out his own fears on film: ‘Far from enjoying the torments of these women at risk, he identified with them.'”
Hitchcock was born on Aug. 13, 1899, the son of a greengrocer. Members of this economic class, Mr. Wood says, were suspicious of the posh people above them and the unruly ones below. Hitchcock’s films would abound with upper-class villains and fearful mobs. As a Catholic, Hitchcock was an outsider in Protestant England; he would later be an English outsider in America.
Shy, chubby and intelligent, the young Hitchcock had few friends. He preferred attending sensational London trials—and movies. Instead of fan magazines, Hitch—as he preferred to be called—avidly read technical film journals and landed a job designing movie title cards. As a fledging director of silents, he was influenced by the shadowy lighting and dynamic camera movements of German Expressionist cinema. He would combine their beauty and atmosphere of anxiety with a dash of black humor and a blonde in jeopardy. All the ingredients were in place for his third feature, “The Lodger” (1927), the film “in which he became Hitchcock,” as Mr. Wood puts it. The title character is suspected by everyone as a Jack-the-Ripperish killer. Is he or isn’t he? “Innocence and guilt,” Mr. Wood notes, “leave many of the same traces.”
When Hitchcock came to Hollywood in 1939, he had already imparted alarming warnings to his British countrymen in a recent string of thrillers. He would send the same message to Americans: A menace threatened not only Great Britain and the United States but civilization as a whole. In many of Hitchcock’s great British films, from “The 39 Steps” (1935) to “The Lady Vanishes” (1938), we’re usually not told who the spies are working for, but there’s little doubt who the enemy is. Likewise, in his early Hollywood film “Foreign Correspondent” (1940), the “peace activist,” suavely played by Herbert Marshall, is actually a spy working for the unnamed foe.
While some Hitchcock films deal with global threats, the truly frightening works dwell upon more intimate dangers. In the film that was the director’s personal favorite, “Shadow of a Doubt” (1943), Joseph Cotton plays a dapper killer of wealthy women, proving that evil could lurk even in anytown America. In “Strangers on a Train” (1951) and “Rear Window” (1954), brutal murders occur, respectively, in an amusement park and a middle-class apartment building. Hitchcock became an American citizen in 1955, the same year that his hit television program “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” debuted. Mr. Wood suggests that the habitually fearful Hitchcock worried about “losing what he most cared about” at the pinnacle of his career, and this contributed to the richness of his confident yet melancholy films during the next few years.
Mr. Wood devotes more space to “Vertigo” (1958) than to any other Hitchcock film. In this masterpiece of misinformation and obsession, Jimmy Stewartplays a retired private investigator fascinated by a suicidal woman who is hardly who she seems to be. In “North by Northwest” (1959), Cary Grant plays Roger Thornhill, a shallow Madison Avenue advertising man thought by enemy spies to be an American intelligence officer who in fact doesn’t exist. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Violet vs Siri: Watch a Frustrated Four-Year-Old Have an Argument with Siri About Nothing for Three MinutesPosted: June 30, 2015
This awesomely badass Batman trike is the work of Game Over Cycles, a Poland-based shop that specializes in building custom motorcycles and restoring vintage cars. Their Batman Bike is styled after the Batmobile from Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns films. And for as phenomenal as it looks now, it’s actually still a work in progress.
Head over to the Game Over Cycles Facebook page to check out many more photos and the technical details about this custom trike.
Does heckling let the real comedian stand up and shine, or does it trample a punchline and mangle a routine?
Lary Wallace writes: Probably the closest thing you can compare it to is the fighting in ice hockey. Think about it: an activity somehow both integral and non-essential that many in the audience consider more entertaining than those parts of the performance that require actual talent. But here’s the difference between fighting in hockey and heckling in stand-up comedy, and it’s an essential one: the former is all about the players, while the latter is all about the fans trying to be the players.
That’s why it drives comedians nuts when it’s asserted – as it was at length in the Chicago Tribune a couple of years ago – that heckling is often not only the best part of stand-up but often, indeed, the only memorable part of stand-up. Chris Borrelli – who, with another writer at the paper, Nina Metz, engaged in a forum-type discussion on the subject – went so far as to write: ‘I have seen countless comedians and theatre performances and live events in general, and forgotten most of them. But I remember each and every time I have witnessed a performer get into it with an obnoxious audience.’
The article got noticed in the comedy community, where it was regarded with contempt. The US stand-up Patton Oswalt wrote a post on his personal blog expressing ‘disgust’ with the two writers, characterising the piece as ‘an asinine, pro-heckling space-filler article’, before specifying: ‘hecklers don’t make a show memorable. They prevent a show from being a fucking show. Comedians do not love hecklers. They love doing the original material they wrote and connecting with an entire audience, not verbally sparring with one cretin while the rest of the audience whoops and screams, disconnecting from the comedian….’
An even more elaborate rebuttal to the article was provided by the comedian and journalist Steve Heisler, who wrote: ‘Hecklers make comedy memorable in the same way vacations are made memorable when you get mugged on them. You’re forced to make lemonade out of lemons. But make no mistake: there are fucking lemons.
‘This is a vibrant… art form,’ he continued, ‘that benefits from a deep understanding of what it takes to craft a set. What it takes to hone a joke. What it takes to devote your life to a career that is 99.99 per cent rejection, and STILL keep going….’
All of which is capable of making you feel pretty guilty if, like me, you’re a fan of stand-up who’s sometimes entertained by what happens when somebody heckles.
It’s not like this whole idea of heckling-is-good-for-comedy is some imaginary construct of journalists and other outsiders. It has very earnest proponents among stand-ups themselves. Billy Crystal – the furthest thing imaginable from a comedy outsider – made and starred in a movie, Mr. Saturday Night(1992), in which the fictional comedian Buddy Young Jr finds his voice as a comic precisely because of a heckler. He’s a young kid, up there on the big stage doing his shticky routine, and bombing terribly. A guy starts coming at him from the crowd with insults, and the insults Buddy volleys back are what bolster his material and his confidence, and put the crowd on his side. A career is born.
It’s not just in the movies, either. The comedian Franklyn Ajaye has written a terrific book called Comic Insights: The Art of Stand-Up Comedy (2002), in which the following words appear: ‘Sometimes a heckler can be good for your show, particularly if you’re at a point where you don’t have any new material and you’re a little bored with your act. Dealing with a heckler can be a chance for you to play around and see how your mind handles fresh stimuli.’
It’s worth emphasising that what Ajaye says here isn’t that heckling is good for comedians because it helps them prepare for dealing with other hecklers; what he says is that heckling is good for comedians because it helps improve their actual comedy.
The Canadian-born comedian Harland Williams, who is interviewed in the documentary Heckler (2007), says: ‘I just like the challenge of a heckler. I like it when people yell out, because basically they’re just shooting a bullet at you – it’s like a verbal bullet. You’re in the middle of something, and all of a sudden – pshoo-oooww – and you can either, like, do a Matrix [leaning away from and underneath the bullet], or you can catch it [catching the bullet with one hand] and go: “Let’s go buddy – it’s party time!”’
And we shouldn’t ignore the undeniable fact that comedians have been known to sometimes hire hecklers, planting them in the audience because of the frisson of danger they can give a show. Granted, these plants are working from scripted material, entirely on the comedian’s own terms, often written by the comedian himself. Two examples from Richard Zoglin’s biography Hope: Entertainer of the Century (2014) illustrate perfectly what I mean. Read the rest of this entry »
As Jon Hamm explained to Jimmy Kimmel last night, Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner had been thinking about ending the show with that iconic Coca-Cola commercial for years before the company cleared the way for him to use it. If things had gone a different way, the ending might have had a slightly different impact…(read more)
Ron Carter came to fame via the second great Miles Davis Quintet in the early 1960′s, which also included Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Tony Williams. Carter joined Davis’s group in 1963, appearing on the album Seven Steps to Heaven and the follow-up E.S.P., the latter being the first album to feature only the full quintet. It also featured three of Carter’s compositions (the only time he contributed compositions to Davis’s group). He stayed with Davis until 1968 (when he was replaced by Dave Holland), and participated in a couple of studio sessions with Davis in 1969 and 1970.
Stephanie Smith reports: Brian Williams’ welcome to MSNBC might be frigid because staffers there haven’t forgotten a scathing report he arrogantly aired on his short-lived “Rock Center” about “corrosive” cable news blowhards at MSNBC, Fox News and CNN.
The two-part September 2012 report was so unpopular at MSNBC that, at a network holiday party shortly after, some over-served staffers even chanted “F - - k Brian Williams.”
“Rachel Maddow said on-air last week she was ‘really happy’ about Williams joining MSNBC and she believes in ‘second chances.’”
Williams is now a cable staffer after his demotion from NBC’s “Nightly News”anchor chair. But in 2012, as anchor and managing editor of his own show, “Rock Center,” he aired a two-parter on cable news’ “partisan ranting” from correspondent Ted Koppel. Williams introduced one segment by describing cable as, per Koppel, “corrosive and does nothing to help compromise in this country.”
“The rank and file at MSNBC were furious at Brian. They hated it so much, they were still mad about it months later at the office Christmas party…That’s where some cheered ‘F - - k Brian Williams’ — It was like a rallying cry.”
Williams stuffily wondered, “Has any of this splashed up against what we do?” Koppel responded: “What works about cable television is it’s cheap and it makes a ton of money. There is nothing cheaper than a bunch of talking heads. The people who hire those talking heads have discovered the more irascible, the more partisan, the nastier they are, the bigger an audience.” Read the rest of this entry »