Latest Blog Posts

by Mike Schiller

3 Apr 2008

Have you heard of the Happy Tree Friends?  I hadn’t until I saw the trailer below.  Apparently I should watch more G4 so that I can be educated on these things.

Or, maybe I’ve been better off.  I haven’t decided yet.

Once I saw the trailer, for Sega’s soon-coming Xbox Live and PC download Happy Tree Friends: False Alarm, I couldn’t help but click around and find a few other animated shorts featuring the titular “friends” on YouTube.  The unrelenting violence of these cartoons is slightly hypnotic, enough to leave your mouth agape and a slightly sick feeling in your stomach as you watch, somehow unable to turn away.

Think of the Care Bears mixed with Rocky and Bullwinkle, Ren and Stimpy, and Itchy and Scratchy.  Except more violent.  It’s like watching your childhood thrown into a wood chipper.

What do you think?  Is there merit to the Happy Tree Friends formula, or is it simply shock humor for the sake of itself?  Most important of all, did watching it just ruin your weekend?

by Robin Cook

3 Apr 2008

From indie guitar hero to blogger: Carrie Brownstein has been keeping herself busy since Sleater-Kinney broke up. Monitor Mix is her blog at NPR, and she’s also branched out into comedy. Carrie had a few minutes before a blogger panel to talk about what she’s been up to, as well as her plans for the future. (Check out her March 20 blog post for an illustration of said blogger panel.)—Robin Cook

by Rachel Leibrock - McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

3 Apr 2008

Scheduled release date: April 11

When I first heard there was a new flick starring Freaks and Geeks alum Jason Segel and ex-Veronica Mars star Kristen Bell, I flipped out and, in my head, automatically bestowed a million dancing popcorn guys upon Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

And then I actually watched the trailer.

Segel, who played Linda Cardellini’s adorable albeit occasionally stalkerish boyfriend on the short-lived Freaks & Geeks, plays a brokenhearted chump who travels to Hawaii to forget his ex-girlfriend (Bell)—only to find out they’re vacationing at the same resort and—awkward!—she’s brought her new boyfriend.

OK, there are two serious problems with Forgetting Sarah Marshall. One: Segel has devolved into something decidedly less adorable and more creepy since his Nick Andopolis days.

And, Bell, so ferociously awesome as Veronica Mars, in her new Heroes role and, even, as the coolly brutal Gossip Girl narrator, is unforgivably bland and totally forgettable here.

Meanwhile the “plot” and “jokes” feel forced, sexist and, worst of all, criminally unfunny.

So consider at least 999,999 of those dancing popcorn guys revoked.

Rating: 1 dancing popcorn guy (out of 4)

by Rob Horning

3 Apr 2008

Further evidence for the insanity of the “ownership society.” Just about everyone in the econoblogosphere has weighed in on this NYT article by Louis Uchitelle about how the housing market is affecting the labor pool.

Mobility opens up job opportunities, allowing workers to go where they are most needed. When housing is not an obstacle, more than five million men and women, nearly 4 percent of the nation’s work force, move annually from one place to another — to a new job after a layoff, or to higher-paying work, or to the next rung in a career, often the goal of a corporate transfer…. Now that mobility is increasingly restricted. Unable to sell their homes easily and move on, tens of thousands of people ... are making the labor force less flexible just as a weakening economy puts pressure on workers to move to wherever companies are still hiring.

Moving is a transaction cost in the labor market, and the housing bubble aftermath has made that cost exceedingly high. This is leading to more of what economists call frictional unemployment, raising the jobless numbers and undermining economic confidence and reinforcing the cyclical factors that sustain recessions. As Calculated Risk notes, “Less worker mobility is kind of like arteriosclerosis of the economy. It lowers the overall growth potential.”

One way to ensure a more mobile labor pool is to encourage people to rent rather than own, so nothing ties them down to moribund regions like, say, Detroit, where the housing problems are perhaps the worst. Instead, the government does what it can to discourage renting, subsidizing interest payments made on real estate purchases. (David Leonhardt examines the foolishness of this in this NYT piece.) As Tim Harford pointed out in a Slate piece, “English economist Andrew Oswald has shown that across European countries, and across U.S. states, high levels of home ownership are correlated with high levels of unemployment. More conventional factors such as generous welfare benefits or high levels of unionization don’t explain unemployment nearly as well as the tendency to own houses. Renting your home and staying flexible do wonders for your chances of always finding an interesting job to do.” (He also notes that some people don’t care about interesting work or don’t believe they’ll find it, and would rather have a cheap home with no job prospects; this creates sinks of discouraged workers in certain regions.)

Yves Smith adds this excellent point: “Uchitelle fails to acknowledge that home ownership has been discussed in the economic literature and found to inhibit labor mobility even in good times. Guess we can’t question that American dream.” The point is that Uchitelle’s story is about the hardships of selling and owning homes in downturns, as if there were no alternative to home ownership. There is one: renting. But in America, it seems taboo to mention in a normative fashion. Only weirdos rent.

by PopMatters Staff

3 Apr 2008

Reclusive, dour, spare, and possessed of a dry sense of humor he may be, but Mark Eitzel’s work with American Music Club is marked with beauty.  With complexly melodic ballads that range from the strikingly direct to airy dreaminess, Eitzel’s work is notable for its unreserved honesty and elevating sentimentality over the saccharine, all exemplified on American Music Club’s recent release, The Golden Age.  So it’s unsurprising that Eitzel would choose to say a lot in a few choice words. 

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
J.M. Coetzee’s Age of Iron.

2. The fictional character most like you?
Crusty the Clown.

3. The greatest album, ever?
Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Trek—of course!

//Mixed media

Indie Horror Month 2015: 'Dark Echo'

// Moving Pixels

"Dark Echo drops you into a pitch back maze and then renders your core tools of navigation into something quite life threatening.

READ the article