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Music: The Donnie Simpson Chronicles, Volume 2

Posted in 104, awesomeness, bad ideas, blame society, celebrities, music, whimsy on August 30th, 2010 by Hannibal Tabu
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Often when I listen to songs, I get the idea for how the music video should go. In many cases, I haven’t seen the actual video, partially because I don’t get time to sit up watching music videos. Some of my ideas are hopelessly enmeshed in metatextuality, some are simple and direct. All of them stick in my head, whether I see the real video or not. Now you can be tortured with them as well.

Oh, the last time I did this, it went a little something like this

“Guilty” by Usher featuring T.I.

Of course, you have to set this one in a courtroom.

Yeah, that's not a good sign, when Judge Hatchett looks like this

Yeah, that's not a good sign, when Judge Hatchett looks like this

You wanna get somebody like Judge Mablean or Judge Hatchett on the bench, to set the scene properly and make Usher seem like an underdog. For the plaintiff, shooting dirty looks at Usher with anger over perceived slights, my wife had the best idea: Chilli from TLC.

Chilli from TLC: presented without comment.

Chilli from TLC: presented without comment.

Given their history together, that kind of stunt casting would keep the gossip rags heated for months. Her lawyer would be played by Taraji Henson (in her Boston Legal character, not her Hustle and Flow character).

Yeah, also not good when Taraji is looking this way at you

Yeah, also not good when Taraji is looking this way at you

The gallery is divided by gender — dudes behind Usher, with the first two rows jammed with as many male celebs and friends of Usher as you can get, and ditto for the plaintiff’s side. You shouldn’t see the defense attorney (standing facing the judge with hands crossed behind himself) until later on.

The video starts with Usher taking the witness stand and being sworn in by a pixie-cute female bailiff with a really shory haircut. After he says, “Yeah man,” the whole jury — a real mix of genders and ethnicities — starts nodding their head to the beat.

Usher sits down and starts “testifying” with the first verse, cutting back and forth with Chilli mean mugging him and the judge frowning disapprovingly. In the chorus, after he sings, “I guess I’m guilty for wanting to be up in the club,” all the guys stand and throw their hands in the air on “hey!” After he sings, “I guess I’m guilty ’cause girls always wanna show me love,” all the ladies in the gallery behind Chilli say “hey!” and act really flirtatious (batted eyelashes, wave, beckon to him with their fingers, break out with a suggestive dance move, strike a yoga position, et cetera). By the time he gets to “don’t take me to jail,” the whole gallery should be swaying side to side while bobbing their heads to the music, all in perfect synchronicity. The judge should start tapping her finger on her gavel, also on beat, softening towards Usher’s position.

Few ladies could turn this one down ... and he's single now.

Few ladies could turn this one down ... and he's single now.

More emphatic testimony for verse two, more of the same for the chorus, except after they say “hey,” each side of the gallery gets up and starts dancing like they’re at a club. After the chorus, the camera turns to fatce the defense attorney — T.I. He delivers his “closing argument” (yes, I see that Taraji won’t get one, it’s a video, not a hearing) before Usher jumps up at the end of T.I.’s verse and jumps up on the ledge of the witness stand, singing and dancing (wide ledge) as well, and T.I. starts dancing with Taraji. A set of female bailffs come and cuff Usher and drag him off as he riffs and the courtroom keeps dancing. Last scene has judge grooving before getting a hold of herself and slamming down the gavel and yelling, “This court is adjourned.”

“Unthinkable” by Alicia Keys

I know but don’t care about the likely motivations behind this wonderful piece of music. I should say that up front. When I heard this song, a love story (right or wrong) was the furthest thing from my mind. I didn’t think of furtive, apprehensive sparks between two people nor the possible harm they could create for another person and their infant.

To me, this song is about terrorism.

Wait, wait, hear me out! All it takes is changing one line in the chorus (which, for the purpose of my hypothetical video, I’m happy to consider as subtext) and this is on some Nat Turner, Al Qaeda stuff. Look at it this way …

I was wondering, maybe,
if we did something hasty,
we could do the unthinkable
would it make us look crazy?
Or would it be so beautiful?
Either way, I’m saying
if you ask me I’m ready …

… if you ask me I’m ready.

Alicia Keys: Mashonda already thinks she's a terrorist

Alicia Keys: Mashonda already thinks she's a terrorist

See? Those are the words of somebody who has nothing left to lose, someone who needs things to change now and is willing to leave tomorrow in other hands. Bobby Hutton. Mohammed Atta. Timothy McVeigh. Desperate, crazy mofos on a mission. Extremists.

Truth be told, leave the chorus as is and it makes things even crazier.

I should also say that, ideologically speaking, I am not opposed to terrorism. Depending on where you stand, people might say George Washington was a terrorist. Ditto Fidel Castro. Ditto Toussaint L’Ouverture, et cetera and so on. Very few people have ever labeled themselves a “terrorist.”

Ready to roll on some Drop Squad, dead prez, Assata-style stuff, yo!

Ready to roll on some Drop Squad, dead prez, Assata-style stuff, yo!

With that in mind, my video casts Alicia as a cult leader. Given what people are thinking about the song, it’s a good misdirect that allows Keys to complicate the perception. She begins by sitting in a dark den with three guys (Swizzy can even be one of ‘em, I don’t care), leaned back, hand to forehead, beginning with her first verse.

Moment of honesty
Someone’s gotta take the lead tonight
Whose it gonna be?
I’m gonna sit right here
And tell you all that comes to me
If you have something to say
You should say it right now

When she refers to “you give me a feeling that I’ve never felt before,” the camera will be showing her facing a glowing shrine that is hidden from the camera (to make sure we don’t offend any actual religions) with some of her followers looking adoringly on, mouthing the words too, and her lifting a Desert Eagle from the unseen glowing area. On “It’s becoming something that’s impossible to ignore,” she stands up defiantly, clenching her fist and looking off meaningfully as her followers join her on her feet.

Probably end up wardrobed much more like this

Probably end up wardrobed much more like this

When she sings the chorus for the first time, she’s in a darkened warehouse setting, standing under a bright circular overhead light. The border of the light is surrounded by the followers from earlier and dozens more, nodding at her words and looking mean. As she approaches the end, a follower steps forward with one hand offered as Keys’ voice goes “if you ask me, I’m ready,” mouthing the words, followed by another (as many as she sings) and they all join hands team-style under the light (camera angled from above).

Second verse has her alone watching an old video (maybe in black and white soft focus) introducing a father figure. She sings to him while video of troops training paramilitary style plays in smaller CCTV monitors off to one side. On end of “if we gonna do something about it, we should do it right now,” should show father figure gunned down by cops while ponytailed Keys is held by other cops (she was younger, maybe dress her in a Public Enemy t-shirt).

Second time she sings “you give me a feeling that I never felt before/And I deserve it, I know I deserve it,” she’s backstage at a huge rally, singing it to the same Desert Eagle, which she’ll shove in a shoulder holster under her jacket before going on stage. Once she’s there, she hits the chorus and she’ll be behind a podium, singing and gesturing emphatically to a crowd of hundreds on their feet, nodding enthusiastically while holding AK-47s and signs saying stuff like “Change Comes Now!” and “Here Comes Justice!” By the time she gets to “if you ask me, I’m ready” again, camera is at chest level and maybe six feet back from front row, and on each line, another person, looking up at stage, steps forward mouthing the words.

For bridge …

Why give up before we try?
Feel the lows before the highs?
Clip our wings before we fly away?
I can’t say I came prepared,
I’m suspended in the air
Won’t you come be in the sky with me?

… it will be a quick cut collage of people arming themselves and loading up in SUVs, then driving fast along a freeway in a convoy.

Holding an AK-47 in her lap as, oh, say Swizz drives. She’ll sing the last chorus, ending up on a rooftop singing down to a crowd a thousand deep, all loaded for bear, with dozens at a time stepping forward on “if you ask me, I’m ready.” As the song ends, Alicia’s at the edge of the rooftop (it’s like a brownstone), just nodding to the beat as her army marches below.

Normally I’m very literal, but this makes me go a different way. No idea why.

Only had two songs this time, I’ll try to remember another one I had in mind.

Playing (Music): “This Tightrope’s Made for Walkin’” mash up of Janelle Monae vs. Nancy Sinatra, by DJ Party Ben

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Commentary Track for the August 25th Buy Pile

Posted in 104, bad ideas, blame society, buy pile, comics, comics reviews, dc, failure, marvel, music, n900, politics, snark, star wars on August 26th, 2010 by Hannibal Tabu
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Every week I do a column full of comic book reviews as I’ve done since March 2003 and currently published at Comic Book Resources. Then, after the reviews post, I try to come over to my blog and expand on the thoughts and ideas listed there. Sometimes it’s profound, sometimes it’s gibberish, but it’s always about comics … let’s see what we get this week!

What? This week’s reviews

SERIOUSLY, DIAMOND, GET IT TOGETHER: If you’ve read my reviews and this blog for a while, you’ll likely know that I am a fan of Amadeus Cho. This week, there was a new comic featuring him battling Agamemnon from the Pantheon (now called Vali Halfling, which is way more boring, and blond hair is weirder on him than the sandy brown mop I remember) in a quest to achieve divinity for different reasons (Vali wants to be a bigger jerk than he is, Amadeus wants to save his friend).

Likewise, I’ve been enjoying the working class magic of Gravel, which was building up to a plot point involving a rival for the King of English Magic (yes, I am fascinated to see the King of, say, Ecuadorian Magic too).

However, despite having cash in hand, despite being ready to buy it, my retailer was unable to sell these comics to me. Why? Because Diamond short shipped or screwed up shipping on something like thirty freaking comic books. Do they have any mention of this on their website? No. Is this reported by the “comics press?” No (as of this writing, neither my home site of CBR, Newsarama nor The Beat had any mention of it — hence no need to link to ‘em).

Why? Because this has become such a regular occurrence that it’s not even seen as odd anymore. Screwing up massively has become the standard operating procedure. What can anybody do about it? Switch to Haven Distributors? Not if you wanna make any money — the Big Four (Marvel-Disney, DC-Time Warner, Dark Horse, Image) are all Diamond-exclusive, and nobody else (not Bongo, not Top Shelf, not Archie, not Slave Labor Graphics, not Moonstone, not Arcana, nobody) is big enough to make a significant sales impact for a retail store owner to make up for the absence of the world’s most recognizable illustrated characters. If you’re gonna be in the comics business (which is very different from just being “into comics”) then you have to do business with Diamond and accept that, fairly regularly, they’re gonna tap you on the shoulder and point to something you can bend over, never once even considering to offer you some lube, ask about your day or cuddle afterwards.

This isn’t news, but the Bush-era Department of Justice shut down a Clinton-era antitrust investigation, saying, “yes, you’re a greedy, heartless and possibly incompetent monopoly, but whatever, keep it up, gang!”

So, every once in a while, my retailer Steve LeClaire has to tell people who want to give him money, “I’m sorry, I can’t take it and don’t know when I can.” Where else would such a thing become so normal, so passe that the people who cover the industry don’t even freaking pay attention when it happens?

I didn’t even plan to write about this, but it gets me so freaking worked up, grrrr!

UH … SO, WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON? Random hits, quickly as I have other things to do …

  • Yes, I’m surprised to see Justice League: Generation Lost crawling on its bloody stumps towards almost being good.
  • Yes, I’m surprised to see that Jonathan Hickman — a man I heralded as an unparalleled genius based on Pax Romana, The Nightly News and Transhuman — is turning in some of the crappiest Fantastic Four comics that I have ever even heard of — yes, past Sue in fetish gear as Malice (I liked the usage of her powers in that issue).
  • Admittedly, his best work for the Mouse House of Ideas remains Secret Warriors, which would benefit from not being chopped into 22-page increments. Sure, you can write a novel on Twitter, but it ain’t easy and it’s a choppy experience for many, many people. It’s still not as good as his creator owned stuff, but it’s at least readable. Just so people don’t think I’m picking on the guy — I’m picking on one aspect of his work.
  • I haven’t been as interested in the property Captain America in my whole life. I’m even over the idea that I can’t use “Bucky dead” as a phrase anymore, because Steve Rogers remains defined by those events. “Buck” is great at it, and “Commander Rogers” is even better, even though the core element of the characters (tactically-minded bruisers who have to work hard in order to think through some things) hasn’t changed at all. That’s why seeing a labyrinthine plot like Zemo’s (who, really, should know better after Thunderbolts) makes me wonder. Brubaker is likewise confounding — I can prove he’s a genius, I have Criminal and the even better Sleeper. What the hell, dude?
  • It’s really unacceptable how long this same Simon Stagg/Metamorpho thing has gone on with the exact same dynamic. It makes Batman/Joker look reasonable by comparison. Also, it ceased to carry any dramatic gravitas, oh, probably fifteen or twenty years ago. Seriously. To try and use that as the opening gambit for Outsiders (also: Freight Train is inescapably lame) … it’s like, “yeah, I want you to run this race, but I’m gonna tie this rope around your leg and tie the other end to the bumper of an AMC Pacer.”
  • You have no idea how excited seeing the title Star Wars Blood Ties: A Tale of Jango and Boba Fett made me … and to be let down by such a drab book that didn’t even give the parental relationship as much snap as Destro’s family spotlight (the four rules, remember?) … not cool, dude. I remember reading that Warren Ellis once said having the Star Wars license should be like having a license to print money, yet — to my knowledge — there’s never been a Star Wars book to crack the top of the sales charts in the modern era (warning: I haven’t looked that up, it’s based on what I’ve been told, but it’s probably right) despite the fact that virtually every person who buys the top 20 comics is statistically going to be a Star Wars fan too. I take it back to Infinities (oh, SPOILER), because when you hijack the Death Star to ram it into Coruscant just to kill Palpatine, and that image isn’t indelibly seared across my Star Wars loving mind … that’s just poor storytelling. I have a clearer memory of Galen Marek bringing down a Star Destroyer. What’s up with that?

That’ll do.

ANYTHING ELSE? Well …

Aight. Tabu out.

Playing (Music): “Erase Me” by Kid CuDi feat. Kanye West

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The Conversation: “… you never worked for the mob …”

Posted in bad ideas, blame society, business, comedy, culture, debate, history, politics, snark, society, whimsy on August 22nd, 2010 by Hannibal Tabu
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I work with this guy Jere Krischel and he’s completely bonkers. To be fair, so am I, but whatever.

It’s funny — we both went to the same college the same years and never met once. We have wildly disparate viewpoints (he’s a virulently right wing libertarian gun nut anti-carb anti-Hawaiian-sovereignty kook, whereas I’m a relentlessly indifferent nihilistic pan-Afrakan jackass content creation and production machine) but we’re the best of friends, bonding over the work of George Lucas, our relentless ability to produce, several conservative areas of common ground for different reasons (hating the IRS, strict interpretations of the Constitution, et cetera) and a sense of connection on a really basic man level.

Anyway, we have lots of wacky instant messaging chats, sort of like the ones I used to enjoy with my dawg Craig, and here’s one of them, talking about what we’d do if our nice, normal jobs (and opportunities) irrevocably dried up. Sort of …

HT: I’ve been considering exactly how I’d turn to crime
HT: if need be
JK: Well, I also have no doubt that I could support my food and water needs for my family by hunting pigeons in downtown LA :)
JK: I seriously can’t believe we haven’t seen YouTube video of a homeless guy doing that yet
JK: that’s when I’ll believe people are hungry :)
HT: Whatever. I imagine something really labyrinthine
HT: … governing with fear and secrecy, like my name was “Ashcroft” or “Cheney.”
JK: You mean like getting a government job? :)
HT: Exactly
JK: I vote for EPA regulator. Plenty of opportunity there :)
HT: I’m looking for something more MIB-ish, like NSA. Vague mandate, guns, flashing lights on my car for skipping traffic, helicopter commute once in a while
JK: That’s what I said, EPA :)
HT: Secret rendition facilities for troubling co-workers in other countries
HT: can’t get that with the EPA
JK: When the environment is at stake, there is no upper limit on force to use :)
HT: Too domestic in scope
HT: Can’t cut security lines at the airport
JK: Well, you could invade Mexico.
HT: Too risky. You end up absorbing the people Arizona is trying to keep out.
HT: They can carry concealed
HT: without a license
HT: I know a Fed who hipped me to that bit of info.
JK: They have licenses, and big pockets for bribes :)
HT: *chuckle*
HT: No, seriously, a law passed at the same time as the immigration one that got everybody worked up
HT: concealed carry is now legal in Arizona sans license
JK: sweet
HT: More importantly: no limitations on kevlar
JK: :)
HT: Bullets don’t save lives, kevlar saves lives.
JK: The thing with the EPA is that the graft potential is enormous … they get to shake down some of the richest oil companies in the world
JK: Rendition doesn’t get you paid
JK: Threatening Exxon with an endangered titmouse brings in the bucks :)
HT: You’re really not gonna let that one go, are you?
HT: Also: rendition allows for all kinds of international graft in exotic currencies that are easy to launder
HT: You’ve gotta think bigger, man
JK: Yeah, but the scale is so small…a few million here, a few million there … EPA gets to talk billions, baby :)
HT: You really do get stuck on one note, don’t you?
JK: But it’s a good note!
JK: Like a James Brown lick that goes on for 5 minutes :)
JK: “Get on up …Get on up …”
HT: Am I gonna have to get the OBM figures on how much cash moves through the EPA and how much goes through all the black budgets of the NSA?
HT: You wanna compare no-audit defense spending with hippie money?
JK: :)
JK: EPA FY 2011 = 10.020 billion
JK: http://www.epa.gov/budget/2011/2011bib.pdf
HT: Off the top of my head, I know that no less than $60 billion went towards vague goals of national security
HT: Yeah, I’ll stick with the gun money
JK: As is well known, CIA’s budget is about $3.1 – $3.2 billion, with over 17,000 personnel.
HT: Aaaah, I didn’t say CIA
JK: The NSA budget is around $3.6 billion
JK: Dude, three times the money in EPA :)
HT: The “budget”
HT: Not the “black budgets”
HT: which claim that screwdrivers cost $300
JK: Well, these are all estimates …
JK: so they’re estimating the black budget
HT: That’s the wonderful thing about estimates
JK: NSA is small potatoes — they don’t have anyone to shakedown
HT: Which is why their money is so much better — nobody knows what they do with it
HT: and nobody can ask, since it’s “classified”
JK: I’m actually appalled that I’m right about the EPA being funded more than the NSA
HT: On paper.
JK: If a titmouse can’t survive Darwin’s mandate, then it shouldn’t be around anyway :)
HT: You know I support anything with the word “tit” in it
HT: NSA has access to money from DHS too
JK: Okay, DHS, that just might top EPA
HT: Exactly
HT: think bigger
JK: http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/budget_bib_fy2011.pdf
JK: 56.3 billion
JK: jeebus!
HT: Thank you
HT: That’s money the NSA feeds off of like a flask in your jacket
HT: here five billion, there five billion — who’ll know?
JK: all those freakin’ screeners hanging around must have crazy ass benefits
HT: they have Wal-Mart benefits
HT: Do you really think DHS is putting 56.3 billion into training those guys at the airport?
JK: Well, they have a breakdown that talks millions … I’m looking for the big numbers now
HT: look on
JK: Coast Guard Asset Recapitalization: A total of $1.4B
HT: black budget
JK: National Cyber Security Center (NCSC): A total of $10M
HT: black budget
HT: nobody knows what that is
JK: Disaster Relief Fund (DRF): The budget seeks funding of $1.95B
HT: that might be credible
JK: ah, disaster relief might be a good gig
HT: that one may just be badly managed, but actually intended for something
JK: may be?
JK: the whole point of racking up billions of dollars of expenses is being badly managed :)
HT: and too much media scrutiny to get yourself a sweet yacht
JK: Grants: A total of $4B is requested for grant programs to support our nation’s first responders
JK: The biggest chunk is CBP – whatever that is
HT: … don’t screw with that
HT: that’s fireman/cop money. Let it be mismanaged, but swipe any for a secret prison in Turkey and all hell will break loose
JK: U.S. Customs and Border Protection
HT: another black budget
HT: and nobody knows where you are most of the time
HT: no metrics for success
JK: wait, that’s MIMCO! [NOTE: Jere and I work at MIMCO, a Major Integrated Managed Care Organzation -- not hard to figure which one if you look hard enough]
HT: If that is our job, we aren’t doing it well enough …

Here’s hoping I don’t almost get fired over his lunacy. Again.

Playing (Music): “1901″ by Phoenix

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