Have you heard of ASMR, the latest workaround for sexual content on YouTube?
Oh wait, I’m sorry. ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, is not some mere source of sexual pleasure. It’s a form of art.
that no one
turn a scientific concept
into a cheap
No no, ASMR is totally about therapy and relaxation! It’s a way to stimulate that tingly shiver that you feel when someone shoves a buzzing cicada in your ear. That these particular women create this effect by slithering their tongues over microphones shaped like ears is irrelevant.
Please refrain from any horny hollering in the comments for these videos. These aren’t strippers out to indulge your crass desires. These are artists, or ASMRtists, as they like to be called, and they aren’t about to lower themselves to your crude requests.
They will, however, accept gifts from their Amazon wishlists, as well as donations to their Patreon accounts (links conveniently provided in the video descriptions).
So! The next time someone tells you that ASMR is bullshit, you just tell them
There’s this documentary called Radio Bikini that came out in the 80s. It’s about an A-bomb test that the United States military pulled shortly after the end of World War II. They blew up a couple of atomic bombs over a bucolic tropical island called Bikini Atoll, and then sent a detachment of soldiers to play around in the irradiated blast zone. The purpose was, purportedly, to observe the effects of the bomb on the environment. The event was heavily advertised, and all the television networks reported on it like kids chattering about their great new toy. Sprinkled between the gung-ho patriotism are interviews with a displaced Bikini native, and one of the soldiers who was sent into the test site. It’s a disturbing true story of blatant, human hubris.
Here’s the movie, in case you’re curious about it.
I first saw Radio Bikini in 1993, in my high school Physics class. I still remember the shock of the conclusion, when the camera pulled back to reveal the effects that fallout had left on the poor veteran. I wasn’t mature enough to really appreciate the film, though, so I watched it again recently. It stung far worse than it did before. Out of curiosity, I looked for reviews about the film that might provide unique perspectives on the material.
That’s when I found this:
Oh dear. So much to talk about.
First off: all movies are emotionally manipulative, okay? If a movie doesn’t make you feel something, than it’s failed as a movie.
Second: There is original material here. The interviews. Was he trying to knock the film for using actual footage to make a point?
Third: The guy says he likes this documentary a lot, but then backpedals and says it’s only enjoyable for “hippies and leftists.” Right, because only left-wingers would appreciate a story about the dangers of nuclear weapons. How much of your spine must you be missing to say something like this? Is this man’s allegiance to his political party so overwhelming that he’s unable to recognize the basic human folly, and the cruelty in this film? Did he forget what species he belongs to? It’s always the same tired deflection: if it’s a movie about something stupid that our nation has done, it’s obviously a media/Hollyweird/libtard hit-job. This dude needs to untangle himself from the Reaganite circle-jerk and look at the world the way that a human being does.
Finally: the credential. By closing with “God Bless America,” the man reveals his brainwashing. He refuses to acknowledge that his precious America once misled its own citizens, condemning them to pain and disfigurement, and he buries his head in its bosom with complete forgiveness. I love my country too, but to dismiss an event like this and only show anger to the people who report it is insane. It’s like getting smacked around the kitchen by your lover, and then getting mad at your friend who calls the cops about it. Then it’s like refusing to press charges, running up and kissing the lover, and saying, “Don’t worry, I know you didn’t mean it.” What the fuck is wrong with people? What happened to self-respect and responsibility?
Governments are not God, okay? They are not infallible, and they do not deserve blind worship. They are institutions of humanity, and therefore must be flawed. Hell, the Bible is full of stories about flawed rulers. Why doesn’t anybody remember that? If this joker above actually cared about God at all, he’d understand this. Maybe then he’d recognize the awful things that were done to God’s creations in this film, and adjust his viewpoint a little bit.
Well the good news is that nothing like this could ever happen again. It’s not like the government is spying on us, right? Surely if some violation of our civil rights was going on, we wouldn’t blame the person who told us about it, would we? Or do we need another black eye before we stop defending our abusive boyfriend?
So! The New Mystery Science Theater 3000 is here. That longshot, once-in-a-lifetime revival of the best television show in history turned out to be the real deal, unlike some crowd-funded projects involving cans without labels that I could mention. What’s more, we didn’t just get some one-time, big-nostalgia reunion special, we got over fifteen hours of show, rich and fully featured.
And…I don’t like it that much.
Everything a fan could want is here: the puppets, the songs, the chintzy sets. The movies are as pitiful as ever, and the riffs are rapid-fire. This fan, however, is left wanting. I admit that the following are the expected complaints of a crotchety old man who wants everything to stay the same as it ever did, but I’m going to deliver them anyway.
First off, the show feels…I don’t know…rushed. It wants to get straight to business. There’s no acknowledgment of the show’s long hiatus, and the new host, Jonah, seems almost happy to be stranded in space. Whereas the old show took a little time to characterize Joel Robinson as a gentle, fatherly figure, and Mike Nelson as the bullied newbie, I feel like Jonah has no persona to call his own. He just kinda slides into his position and does what’s expected of him. I’d say he’s like a guest on The Muppet Show, but even guests on The Muppet Show occasionally paused to wonder at their surroundings.
I also find it baffling that Gypsy can now talk. Previously, Gypsy had to devote so much of her CPU time to controlling the ship, that she could only speak in a muddled, halting manner. She came off as slow, causing the other bots to tease her, and Joel to give her special treatment and comfort. I thought it was sweet, but I guess today’s attitudes towards autism/ADHD/any other over-diagnosed childhood illness won’t allow it, so the writers decided to play it safe. Now we gots a smart-and-sassy Gypsy…who melds right in with the others and is quickly forgotten.
Crow and Tom Servo are just okay, though their shrill, sibilant voices are difficult to distinguish from one another at times. Neither one of them has really had an opportunity for characterization, either. I haven’t seen a shred of Crow’s masochistic mania, or of Tom’s cultured pompousness. They don’t explain how they got shanghaied from Earth and stuck on the Satellite of Love again; they’re just there, going along for the ride, never questioning, never doubting.
Then there’s the villain. While nobody could replace Trace Beaulieu as the man-about-madness Dr. Clayton Forrester, I think the makers of this show could have done a hell of a lotbetter than Felicia Day. There’s absolutely nothing threatening, silly, or even funny about her, and I feel like her involvement is just another attempt of hers to stick her geek-baiting face into a set where lovelorn nerds will fawn over her.
The only cast member who looks like he belongs is Patton Oswalt, though I feel he’s criminally treated playing a dope like TV’s Son of TV’s Frank. Oswalt is an intelligent and thoughtful guy; I almost feel like he should be the host. He’s so good at playing put-upon, sensitive, and optimistic characters that he’d be a natural for it. Some of the best skits on the old show involved Joel teaching the bots about the delicate aspects of human nature, and I just don’t see the happy-go-lucky Jonah pulling this off. Oswalt, on the other hand, could have been great.
I tried to tell myself that the show isn’t really about the characters, it’s about really bad movies, and the really good jokes made at their expense. Somehow, though, I just couldn’t convince myself of this. I think that the relationships between the characters, and the tone established in the host segments, are linked to the atmosphere in the theater. An emptiness in one seeps into the other. The hurried feel of the show makes the riffing weak and mechanical. My dad and I watched the first episode together, and he and I were making better jokes than Jonah and the bots within five minutes. Bear in mind that he and I were students of MST3K; we learned how to make fun of movies from Joel and Mike.
So I watched the new show for hours and hours, scratching my head about why it wasn’t lighting me up. Then, ubiquitous uber-dork Neil Patrick Harris made a cameo, and all became clear: the show’s been hijacked. It’s not the territory of struggling, self-hating comics anymore. Now it’s the land of the Happy Little Internet Elves. It’s all nerdgasms and super-squees. I wouldn’t be surprised if PewDiePie or Jonathan Coulton made appearances. I guess it’s just a product of its time: when you used to watch MST3K, you were smoking on the couch and staring at Comedy Central at two in the morning. Now you’re binging Netflix on your iPhone while working the elliptical at In-Shape. The world shifts as its denizens hold fast.
It’s more evidence that the problem is likely mine. Maybe I’m just griping about the show because it’s different from what it used to be, and I don’t want it to be different from what it used to be. If I can just stick with it, show it a little patience, then maybe I’ll get on board with it. After all, I had a really tough time accepting the changes that the Sci-Fi Channel made to the show back in the 90s. Eventually, however, I came to love Pearl, Bobo, and Brain Guy, as is evidenced by their cameo on the new season, which overjoyed me, and reminded me of just how much I missed them.
Like its creator, Tales From the Far Side is a misunderstood creature. A lot of people just don’t get Gary Larson, and I don’t think they got this show either. It was one of just two animated specials based on the popular comic strip, and the only one that aired in the United States. It’s a lovely bit of animation, but I think that director Marv Newland, creator of the haunting Black Hula and Bambi Meets Godzilla, pushed things a little too far into Halloween-Town for most audiences. His vision is clear right from the beginning: the score is a cloud of gloomy guitars and eerie er-hus. The camera glides past smoking farm animals and dead people before settling on a reanimated bovine. This queen of the night tells us with an piercing bleat that she’s bringing us somewhere that we might not like to go, and she doesn’t give a damn how we feel about it.
That Newland’s direction is matched with Gary Larson’s off-center perceptions doesn’t aid the accessibility factor. In keeping with the spirit of the strip, the show is a series of disconnected jokes, many of them conceptual, so if you never dug The Far Side, you’re not going to dig this. I once watched this show with a non-fan friend, and the loudest, angriest question to come up was, “So what happened to the cow?” She was frustrated that the show had ditched the Franken-cow from the opening, and had never come back to it. She didn’t understand that The Far Side was never about the traditional, long-term payoff. Larson is foremost an idea man, and in his world, the punchline is in the premise.
We get some throwaway gags lifted straight from the funny pages, like a crow scraping its meal off the street with a spatula, but there are also more elaborate setups. My favorite is the insect airline, where the business class is packed with worker bees, and the in-flight movie is The Fly.
There are also several “role-reversal” scenarios, not unlike Paul Driessen’s The Killing of an Egg, in which arrogant humanity suffers for its transgressions against nature. Presented in the innocent pictures of the comic, this dark theme was leavened. When bolstered by motion and sound, however, it turns downright devilish.
I think it’s terrific, but most critics of the day did not. They admired the slick presentation, but found the material simple and one-note. I’m really not sure what they expected from a show based off a one-panel cartoon. I think Tales From the Far Side is the perfect amplification of the comic strip. Just watching Larson’s dumpy, bell-shaped characters take motion is a lot of fun. The animators clearly had a great time with it: everything bounces and wobbles and wiggles in a delightful fashion that suits the visual style. There’s very little dialogue, which is odd considering that the comic could be quite wordy, but I think it works. Too much speech would soften the show’s concepts, and extract us from the uncomfortable un-reality that we’re meant to be visiting.
Some of the sequences could use a little trimming, and the finale is a big letdown, but I still think that Tales From the Far Side is a marvel. Like A Wish For Wings That Work, it’s a comic strip special whose material simply can’t cater to everyone, but that’s precisely why I love it so.
Remember these commercials? They aired over twenty years ago. Tom Selleck narrated them. AT&T had the future of communications all mapped out, and now that it’s here, it looks even better than advertised.
I’m not going to get the watch, but I want the iPhone 6. It makes my iPhone 4S look chunky and archaic. I was really impressed when I got the 4S too; my previous phone was the hefty, non-Retina iPhone 3GS, and the jump from there was tremendous.
How fortunate I am to be so picky. How fortunate we are to see such advancements in our lifetime. Ideas that were science fiction when we were kids are coming to life even before we get old. The world might not look much different from how it was in the nineties, at least not at first glance. Look around and you’ll see the same roads, the same pollution, many of the same buildings, and many of the same problems. New threads have knitted themselves into the backbone of life, though, and the emotions, values, and thoughts of our society have changed with it. People don’t rent movies anymore. They download them to their smart televisions. They don’t use VCR tapes. They record their favorite shows and movies using hard drives connected to satellites.
People don’t carry Walkmen to listen to music anymore. They don’t strap Polaroids around their necks when they want to snap a quick photo. They don’t even need to sit at a personal computer when they want to go on the internet. For all of that, we now rely on pocket-sized cellular devices that wield more computing power than early spacecraft. The Star Trek communicator, Dick Tracy’s wristwatch, the Turtle-Com, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, they’re all real. Don’t panic, but I bet you’re holding one in your hand right now.
These are the days of miracle and wonder. Don’t cry baby, don’t cry.
(Sorry, this is Hulu, so you’ll have to put up with some commercials.)
South Park, with its irrationally crunched production schedule, can’t help but be hit and miss. This is a pretty damn good episode, though, and it doesn’t even have to lean on its usual crutches of excessive profanity and sex. It’s pretty gory, but who cares about that these days?
This one’s about commitment to “the rules.” The kids go to the South Park Pioneer Village for a field trip, and discover the workers there are so devoted to teaching about life in 1864, that they won’t break character, even when armed robbers take them hostage and start executing them. The situation is completely over-the-top, and even though it turns violent very quickly, it’s surprisingly hilarious.
The foul, selfish Cartman and sweet, innocent Butters aren’t there to see this, though. Forced to hold hands as partners, Cartman drags Butters out of the village so he can play at an arcade. Butters hates the idea of sneaking away from the class, and he clearly doesn’t enjoy the arcade at all, but he refuses to release his grip, because “teacher said not to let go.”
Butters, who’s been my favorite South Park character since his first appearance, shines like a burnished trophy here. Being a clean, mild-mannered kid, he’s often taken advantage of, but when the terrifying prospect of “getting in trouble” hangs over his head, he resists with all his might. In this episode, Butters has the cutest panic attack you’ve ever seen, and he even hits a couple of people in an apoplectic fit. Trey Parker and Matt Stone have said that their favorite scenes to write are the ones involving Cartman and Butters, and it’s easy to see why.
In the end, Stan turns the tide of the situation with some clever, Bugs Bunny-like stunts that made me actually want to applaud. It’s a very funny mixture of cartoon silliness and extreme violence, with a touch of uncompromised sweetness dashed in. I don’t think I can say that about any other cartoons out there, and that makes Super Fun Time a Top Cartoon to me.