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Throne in My Side: Exclusive Preview of "MAD #521"

"Live fast, die young, leave a beautiful corpse"… and MAD, on Game of Thrones

EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW

Jimmy Dean echoes in the popular imagination, with a strange magical resilience. He'll never grow old, tired, worn out. He's the opposite of an aging rockstar; no old, no fat, no quiet surrender to the obscurity of needing to work a blue collar job for the last few decades to just now reclaim his fans during the Reunion Tour. There's something incredibly, immortal about the Dean health and youth and vigor.

Not that there's any good reason to knock the Aging Rocker archetype. When done right the Aging Rocker, Dylan or the Stones (your opinion of whom to include or exclude on this list will no doubt vary) leads us into very different territory -- not immortality, but perpetuity.

Like TIME or Superman, baseball or Rock n Roll itself, MAD has been unremitting these last 60 years. In many ways, it feels as if the Usual Gang of Idiots' trademark "humor in a jugular vein" has only just now found a firm footing for a proper beginning. Maybe that fact alone explains the wit and acuity with which the Usual Gang find their way into the parody business.

It's one thing to sync up the release of a "Jimmy Carter of Mars" parody poster with the release of Disney's John Carter. It's something else entirely to script and to draw a parody of Game of Thrones or Lost or Star Wars that points to the inherent weaknesses of an intellectual property that might become exposed over time.

Every hit has one or two distinct paths it can go by. Will it take three or maybe four or maybe (as with the Simpsons) 21 seasons before the depths of the storytelling model have been plumbed? Or will the hit incinerate in a blaze of glory, just two or three seasons like Rome or Deadwood? Will these hits be Jimmy Dean, or the Aging Rocker?

When MAD parodies a hit, it feels like an honest appreciation of property, its sensational strengths, and its inherent structural weaknesses. It's something that might even help creators chart that happy medium of shows like X-Files or the West Wing or Seinfeld, where and end can be reached, not not for some time yet.

Please enjoy our exclusive preview of MAD #521.

EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

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From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

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Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

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Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

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