Friday, February 29, 2008

Hey! Download me!

So a forum I've frequented for the past few years is having a monthly downloadable mix-tape exchange. I thought I'd make mine available here as well. So mom, if you're ever wondering what I'm listening to during any given month, here's your chance to find out! It's only available for 30 days or whatever, so be sure to snap it up now!

I am downright amazed at what I can destroy with just a hammer.

Garfield is NOT funny.

THIS, however, is.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

If I had an accordion and knew how to play, I'd record a solo record with Cleo on washboard.

Cleo and I have been into this band, Beirut, for a few months now and I am amused at how great/awful this video is. Oh, but it's a really great song.

This is also not too shabby. Hooray for the termination of a fierce artistic slump.

Also this:

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Lately I've been thinking about what is funny, why some things are funnier than others, and why I find particular things to be so amusing. I laugh a lot. Like a whole lot. But I've found that it's only very particular things that make me laugh. On a recent episode of This American Life Ira Glass spoke with some writers from The Onion about the process of weeding out the hilarious from the not-so-hilarious. It was really awesome to hear the writers of what is, to me, the most consistently funny site on the internet really hash out why some jokes work and why some don't. And the verdict is... it's complicated. Even jokes that are extremely similar can strike you completely differently often because of some unknown X-factor. And humor is SO personal and individualistic, it's really impossible to really nail why a particular joke can elicit such a huge reaction.

I took a humor quiz awhile ago and this is what came out the other end:

It said my sense of humor was clean/complex/dark. So yeah. I suppose this is why I hated Napoleon Dynamite.

But I digress.

Here, for an example, is something I've seen recently that's made me laugh repeatedly.

Seriously. That is hilarious. I could dissect that sketch for hours. Someone take me up on that sometime.

But for all of my overthinking, do you know what is the funniest thing I'd seen on the internet?


Yes. That's right. This picture has reduced me to tears on several occasions, including last night when I looked it up. As far as I can tell, it's the work of Stella Mars, and it is comic genius. I've tried in vain to explain to Cleo why this is so, to no avail. So right here, right now I am going to give a comprehensive guide to why I love the Keep Your Fork Cat.

FIRST: There is an weird thing that occurs whenever photography becomes available in any new medium: people take pictures of animals doing funny things. Back in the 90's I taped something off of AMC in the middle of the night that I'll never fully get out of my head. It was a black and white movie of monkeys who were dressed in olde-west garb acting out a drama of some sort. The animals were obviously under some sort of duress, all dudded up in 10-gallon hats and spurs and such. Really, this isn't the kind of thing I tend of find amusing. It's broad, it's easy, it's lazy. Oh yeah, and it's really really mean to the animals involved. What IS funny is that this is an elaborate way of making some of the worst jokes possible. The seriously caught monkeys in the wild or took them from a zoo or private collection, dressed them up in custom-made period costumes, sometimes tied them to chairs, wiggled things offscreen to make them look or nod or what have you, and filmed it. And people honestly laughed at the simple fact that there were monkeys onscreen in people clothing. I can picture the viewing public now...

"Hey! I just called to let you know that on television, right now, there are MONKEYS DRESSED AS HUMANS! I KNOW! Monkeys don't wear hats! That's a silly thing!"

So what's stuck with me over the years is that these old film-manipulation attempts at humor involving stupid animal tricks are really funny, not because of their content but because of their very existence. As proof of both the ubiquity of this concept and how incredibly stupid it is, I submit a youtube video that I had no trouble immediately finding. Give it to about 20 seconds in. Remember, I'm subjecting you to this for a purpose:

OK, so what was funny about that? It WAS funny, but what was funny to me was not the content necessarily, but the lengths that people will go to in order to make animals do even stupider things than they normally do by utilizing basic or elaborate film techniques. Also, we can all have a good laugh at the fact that a) an electro version of The Chicken Dance exists, b) this person had ready access to it and c) they found it fitting and amusing for the video in an unironic fashion.

SO the first component to this picture is the existence of an INCREDIBLY stupid branch of humor based on the use of camera and costume to make animals to funny things, AND there are people that find this hilarious on the face. Those two facts are mind-bendingly funny. Seriously. My mind bends just thinking about it.

SECOND: The concept of this photo is fantastic. Let's leave behind (for the moment) the concepts listed above and focus on the picture at face-value. There's this cat, and he's at some sort of fancy dinner. It's certainly fancy enough that he's gone the route of wearing some sort of bow-tie. I mean he doesn't have any freaking thumbs! Yet he's managed to dress himself. He's a quadroped but he's figured out how to comfortably sit in a chair like a biped. Truly, this is no standard meal. He's at some sort of restaurant, or sunday dinner, or holiday event, or he's the guest of someone who's gone to the trouble of making at the very LEAST a two-course meal. I mean, he probably really enjoyed the first course. He's a cat for crying out loud. He's easy to please when it comes to fully-prepared multi-course meals. So anyway, there he is, fully satisfied and ready to clear his place like a good guest when he is informed of something unthinkable. He is to keep his fork. But why? Why? He is confused. Surely there could be nothing more... nothing more for which he could possibly wish. But wait... what was that? What - did - you- say?

There's Pie!

At this point, our protagonist realizes that he has been living in a very small world. The doors of his limited expectations have been blown off and THE SKY IS THE EFFING LIMIT. Oh Hosanna, there is PIE. PIE. PIE. Never in his wildest feline imagination did he see this coming. The wave or surprise, glee and wonder smacks into his little cat brain, eliciting the biggest, happiest, goofiest, contented "YEAH!" smile you could possibly hope for. He basks in the hope and expectation of PIE. PIE!!!! AND THE CHORUS SWELLS!!!!!

I own a cat and like anyone who lives with one I have a detailed mental index of my cats expressions. I know what is a frown, and what is a smile. And the Keep Your Fork Cat is NOT smiling. That, my friends, is a mew, or quite possibly a hiss. If this photo is a real cat in a real costume, it is without a doubt an expression of GREAT annoyance, despair, terror, and threat. This sound portends great violence upon his tormentors. What we see as a smile is in fact the polar opposite. This strange irony harkens back to my first point - this animal is delivering a joke of which he is completely oblivious. I'm choosing to ignore the animal-cruelty aspect for this study, so that we can focus on this irony.

IN SUMMATION: These three aspects work together to make a tight, concise image that is on funny on multiple levels. And if that's all too theoretical for you, you might just be the target audience for laughing at cats in shirts at face value. But what this picture possesses that makes me laugh every time is the X-factor. The X-factor is that certain inexplicable something that gives the joke that little extra push, that makes it greater than the sum of it's parts. In the Priest sketch above, I think that it's the specific words and concepts addressed by the Priests verbal abuse. The fact that he doesn't merely attack the piety and worthiness of these two, he goes all the way to attack their ability to conceptualize eternal matters and whatever else he can grab a hold of. The Keep Your Fork Cat is awesome because it is funny on at LEAST four levels. The very existence of this kind of jokey photography is hilarious. The possible narrative behind the picture is hilarious. The smile is hilarious. The fact that is NOT a smile is hilarious. And if the whole thing is just an amalgam of different images (I suspect that it is), it's STILL funny because it's simply a more roundabout and complex way of expressing the exact same scene.

I mean, seriously. It's the funniest picture I've ever seen.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

When you're really afraid of hitting bottom, it's sometimes nice to find the hole is a bit deeper than you thought.

So Fugazi wrote one of my favorite instrumentals of all time, and this video is mind-blowingly great. Anyone who can't enjoy this is simply not my friend anymore.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Mmmm... Yumberwang!

Photoshop is less a new friend and more a long-standing uncomfortable acquaintance. I freaking hate this program, but I must conquer it.

Friday, February 08, 2008

I used to be a stereotpye.

Here's to making new friends.

Something tells me that even after I come up with some workable techniques in this ubiquitous and overly-complex bugger of an industry standard, I'm STILL going to have some client's printer complaining that I'm doing it all wrong. But screw that. Illustrator CS3 works for ME!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

That's Numberwang!

Hey! It's February!

For some reason, Cleo and I have been taking in a large amount of British shows. Hooray for the internet.

So now it's time for a list of current recommendations, this time with obtrusively British explanation!

Gor Blimey, gov'na! Season 3 was tops, now weren't it?

We loffed so 'ard, we spilt our tea whilst ascendin the apples 'n pears!

Oh strike me dead!

That seemed like a much better idea before I actually attempted to do it, but I'm leaving it up as a testament to flying too close to the sun on waxen wings of an amusing concept, only to plunge into the incredibly unfunny ocean below.

This isn't British at all! There will be blood is most definitely not a pleasant movie, but you should still see it. Great movie, better performances, awesome visuals. Best final scene I've recently scene.

This month - NAY, THIS YEAR!- has been all about self-betterment. I've been eating a bit better, trying to keep focused, attempting to not be so affected by random circumstance, learn new programs and so forth. Since I spend such a large proportion of my time working or playing games on this here computer, and have done so for the past few years, I figured it was time for an upgrade. Since a new rig and/or operating system isn't in the cards right now I've taken up modding out XP. After a couple days of tweaking, I can now boast an interface that uses many of the cool ideas and effects employed in Vista and OSx, at a cost of zero dollars! And unlike Vista, XP actually works! It's great! And somehow, though I have windowframes that feature transparency and blurring, some desktop widgets and all kinds of other things - get this - my system is running better and faster than it ever has. And speaking of things working better, I can't say enough about the great semi-open-source media player Foobar2000. It's endlessly customizable, it runs infinitely better than Windows Media Player and uses less memory. And somehow (I read an article about it and the explanation sailed right over my head) it has better sound quality than other media players I've used. So yes. Go download it.

This has been a seriously dull and self-indulgent post. I'll do better next time.