Lowbrow Literati
Quantum and Woody’s Mildly Postmodern Gags

Are Quantum and Woody a dynamic duo, or just another wearying odd couple with a duo dynamic?

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Raimi’s Last Hunt: A Brief Reappraisal of the ‘Spider-Man’ Trilogy

Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy is like his Evil Dead trilogy: the first entry is self-conscious, the second is more of a remake than a sequel, and the third is so different from the first two that it almost qualifies as a different genre.

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Mighty Morphin’ Masterpiece: One Man’s Inexplicable Love for ‘Power Rangers: The Movie’

The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers TV series was after my time, and a passing glance at any given episode was enough to convince me that it was, well, 'stunted'. So why have I seen Power Rangers: the Movie five times?

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29 Nov 2010 // 10:00 PM

The Devil Wears Spandex

It seems that Todd McFarlane designed Spawn’s cape to billow wildly just so that it would obscure Spawn’s feet, so that he wouldn’t have to draw them.

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Take Your Daughter to Work Day: A Father Reflects on Years of Force-feeding Pop Culture to His Child

How will my daughter feel when her friends greet her in 2030 with an enthusiastic shout-out to Hannah Montana or SpongeBob SquarePants and she can only remember Bebop, Rocksteady, the Gentleman Ghost and Gyro Gearloose?

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Crisis of Faith: The Struggle to Believe in ‘Preacher’

If Preacher’s longtime fans were to take a fresh look at its nine uneven volumes today, would nostalgia keep them from noticing its flaws, or would they banish it to the realm of other crude, corny, ostensibly shocking ‘90s relics like South Park, Attitude-era WWF shows and Kevin Smith movies?

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Three Days Was the Mourning: Three Scenes That Define ‘Six Feet Under’’s Nate Fisher

Nate was always searching desperately for deeper meaning, and so it was not surprising that he would see his dead wife’s soul peering at him from the eyes of a dog.

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Less Is More Satanic: A Prescription of Restraint and Subtlety for Slayer

Who writes lyrics more menacing than those of thrash-metal legends Slayer? Pretty much everyone.

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Sequels We Were Unfairly Denied

While most moviegoers bemoan the glut of Hollywood sequels and remakes, City Slickers II: Coffee and Cake is just one of many unproduced sequels I wish we had the chance to see.

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Fruity Islands, Paw-Paw Bears and Gleaming the Cube: The Internet at Its Most Essential

Every utilitarian object in my home boasts an invitation to visit its website. Are there forums where pleased consumers come together to share their contentment about lip balm and adhesive bandages?

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‘Cause Who Would Hear Me Scream? A Faith No More Mixtape for the Joker

One could almost make the case that the four Faith No More albums produced during the Mike Patton era were written for the Joker.

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Isn’t This Where We Came In?

Have you ever combined the first and last sentence of a novel or a song? The results are often amusing, and sometimes revelatory.

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Wake the Dead or No One Will Listen: Skid Row’s Subhuman Race

In 1995, Skid Row fell back on the only choice that remains for a metal band with no place in the mainstream culture: they made the heaviest damn album in the world.

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Diorama-Rama: Can Playtime Produce Art?

Are toy photography "dios" a new art form, a different breed of fan fiction, or nothing loftier than playtime for the stunted?

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The Matrix: I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream

If the first act of The Matrix calls to mind eXistenZ, with Pikel licking Allegra’s bio-port and sucking gristle and skin from a gun, its third act is as antiseptic as a bad Star Trek rerun.

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Are We All Mythtaken About Star Wars?

Fans are mistaken about Return of the Jedi and Luke Skywalker (dismissing the Ewoks, and Skywalker is deemed a wuss). Might they also be wrong about the prequel trilogy? And how.

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The Ghostbusters Twinkie Defense

More surprising than the still-impressive special effects and the jokes that hold up to modern scrutiny is the fact that there are moments throughout Ghostbusters that are legitimately scary.

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New Kids on the Block: Hangin’ Tough, Refusing to Let Go

In 1989, I loathed the New Kids on the Block with a passion and intensity that only junior high-aged children can bring to their study of popular culture, yet when Hangin’ Tough Live hit DVD, I had to see it.

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G.I. Joe’s Future Hangs on the Unbalanced

The fate of 'The Rise of Cobra' (both the toys and the movie) might depend on something completely out of Hasbro’s control: nostalgia.

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Let the Kayfabe be Unbroken: My Breakfast with Blassie

This movie provokes a guilty-pleasure curiosity, followed by a yearning to somehow feel above the ridiculous performance you’re witnessing.

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Truth Against Truth: The Work of Adrian Tomine

Tomine has a gift for capturing body language and facial expressions -- his characters often say more in a silent panel than most say with an entire word balloon.

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Footnotes in the Great Book of Gummi

Still cute, funny and entertaining, Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears holds up remarkably well on every level.

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Metal Up Yours, Mine & Metallica’s

Metallica’s got identity and projection issues -- James Hetfield repeatedly directs a string of insights or even accusations at some mysterious "you", only to concede by song's end that he is talking to himself.

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Looking Back at ‘Back to the Future’

The most irreverent, knowing, daring and hippest time travel story of all time has, inevitably and fittingly, become a time capsule.

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Metabots and Deconstructicons: Transformers Goes Postmodern

I am happy to report that after 25 years, the 'Transformers' franchise has finally gone postmodern… no thanks to 'Transformers Energon'.

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Bret Hart: A Real Life in a Cartoon World

In a surreal world dedicated to a uniquely haphazard and comically inept breed of pretense, Bret Hart’s appeal was simple: he made everything seem 'real'.

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There Was No Way to Tell This Man Was a Monster

Scott Keith's Dungeon of Death is a confused, unfocused, meandering account of the most gruesome death yet in an industry known for killing off its performers at startlingly young ages.

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From a Fluid Culture to a Culture of Steam: Alan Moore

For all the self-serious Deep Thoughts and the sometimes unsettling material in DeZ Vylenz The Mindscape of Alan Moore, Moore can be a startlingly funny host.

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Galaxy Rangers: No Guts, No Glory, No Clue

Having missed out on the show in its '80s heyday, a hapless Monte Williams shares his thoughts during his baffled first look at The Galaxy Rangers.

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The Incredible Hulk: Madly in Anger with You

With The Incredible Hulk ripping through movie screens in mind, Williams hunkers down on the couch with two silly, strangely stirring seasons of the TV show.

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We Dream We’re the People in Songs

Is he strumming your face with his fingers? And singing your life with his words?

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30 Mar 2008 // 11:00 PM

Whitewash

A small town white boy looks back at pop culture's impact on his concept of race while growing up, and how racism and homophobia are expressed and addressed in today's pop climate.

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Missing Places I’ve Never Been: A Love Letter to Alex Ross

The appeal, the madness of Ross' painting is that it makes a scene involving a fight between spandex-clad do-gooders seem almost as important as Rockwell's depiction of the first step to end racial segregation.

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How Far Will A Man Go for G.I. Joe?

Sigma 666: Wherein I offer my soul to Satan in exchange for G.I. Joe dolls.

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6 Nov 2007 // 10:00 PM

Godless

I'm not here to mock God and his fanatical fan club, I'll sit back and let much more clever men and women mock them for me.

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Autobiographigure: The Courageous Quest for a Toy in One’s Own Image

The shelves of our great nation's toy retailers are seldom stocked with action figures of flabby, furry, graying columnists, but that could change . . .

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Where Gods and Monsters Watch Over Me

My DVDs and books and toys are so seductive, and the outside world so unappealing, that it's sometimes all I can do to force myself to walk out the front door every morning.

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5 Aug 2007 // 10:59 PM

By the Power of Softcore

One Man's Daring Look Back at He-Man and the Masters of the Universe… and Porky's

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Transformers: Autobotic Asphyxiation

Autobotic Asphyxiation occurs when someone crosses that thin, tremulous line separating a passionate hobby from an unhealthy obsession. Watch for these symptoms . . .

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Who Will Watch the Watchmen?

To reduce Watchmen to just another superhero movie is to miss the point entirely, and one can't help but anticipate that the result will have all the cultural relevance of a supermarket paperback novelization of Citizen Kane.

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Lose Your Delusion: An Open Letter to William ‘Axl’ Rose of Guns N’ Roses

A disillusioned fan calls for the resurrection of Guns N' Roses, already. Please. Now would be good.

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A Miscarriage of Justice: The WWE and Political Campaigning

The time has come to admit to ourselves that young America's polite indifference towards partisan politics and the wrestling industry stems from the uncomfortable but increasingly undeniable fact that the two have grown indistinguishable from one another.

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11 Mar 2007 // 10:00 PM

Toys ‘n the Addict

As wild-eyed Rob (John Cusack), in High Fidelity, explains that his chaotic collection of LPs is not organized alphabetically, nor chronologically, but autobiographically, so, too, many toy collectors amass and display their plastic trinkets in an effort to compile something of a three-dimensional, pop cultural autobiography.

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The Red Envelope Held Sway Over All

Practically everyone in Boonville loathes Wal-Mart and Home Depot, and yet despite its role in the loss of two local independent businesses, Netflix has been granted a rare and elusive "Get Out of Our Smug Disapproval Free" card.

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21 Jan 2007 // 9:00 PM

Wish or Wishout You

Move over, MySpace, Amazon.com's 'who you are is what you buy' Wish List is the new hip virtual community.

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//Mixed media
//Blogs

Perspectives on Death in 'Game of Thrones - A Nest of Vipers'

// Moving Pixels

"How do you decide who lives and who dies?

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