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Tuesday, October 28, A.D. 2008
The Onion News Network

The Onion is consistently the funniest site online, but perhaps my taste for its humor has something to do with its utter lack of social taboo and its unrefined taste coupled with rather insightful satire. Whenever I bring up my admiration for low-brow cultural fixtures such as The Simpsons or South Park, I invariably hear shock, disappointment, and bewilderment along the lines of, “How could someone like you like something like that?” I attribute those statements to ignorance of the shows—for they really are insightful entertainment. They mock what ought to be mocked, and in the process, they make some profound observations.

For instance, South Park has a cheeky episode on Mormons, “All About the Mormons?,” in which an L.D.S. family moves into South Park. They are typical Mormons—friendly, helpful, cheerful folks . . . with kooky religious ideas. The episode presents the Mormons in an exaggerated but nonetheless realistic way; it matches my own experience with Mormons over the years very well, right down to its “Family Home Evening.” It explores the peculiarities of L.D.S. doctrine, but, moreover, it explains Mormon success. A religion with absurd theological teachings can survive, sustain a society, and even grow in other societies because it prescribes and fosters sensible and good family life practices. Most people do not really care about theological truth, but most everyone is a social creature who values family, friendship, loyalty, and love. The episode is spot on, and you can watch it online (rated R) at South Park Studios.

Anyway, The Onion started a video service, The Onion News Network, last year, and it holds up to the print version’s hallmark for the “Oh, wow” factor. I’ll post some of may favorite videos in the future, but here are some timely ones for the election, “Precocious Youngster Sells Cookies to Buy Attack Ad,”

and “Portrayal of Obama As Elitist Hailed As Step Forward for African Americans”:

The Daily Show cannot hold a candle . . .

Posted by Joseph on Tuesday, October 28, Anno Domini 2008
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Tuesday, October 21, A.D. 2008
Flea Market Montgomery

I may have been unduly hard on Mickey D’s last week. Yet, I find their ghettolicious commercials so obnoxious.

For an endearing portrayal of Negro niche marketing, watch this precious man from the Flea Market Montgomery:

Local low-budget commercials are the best! Clever, too, as everyone remembers them even as (and because) people mock them. I would definitely make my way to that flea market; such a campy commercial has successfully transformed cheap furniture into ironically cool potential conversation pieces—you know, white people make such peculiar value judgments.

Update: It is sad when parody predicts truth. After posting this site, I looked up Flea Market Montgomery. The man shown is the owner, Sammy Stephens. In the Wikipedia entry, we read:

The spread of the video turned Flea Market Montgomery into a tourist destination, especially among college students. Capitalizing on the popularity of the advertisements, Sammy Stephens subsequently began selling a variety of flea market-related merchandise, ranging from t-shirts to mobile phone ringtones.

We human beings are a predictable lot.

The entry also affirms the American dream:

In A.D. 2000, Stephens began selling at Flea Market Montgomery with toys in three rented booths. Whenever another vendor would leave a booth, Stephens would take it over. Within a few years, Stephens had purchased the entire market. Before buying the market, Stephens had been a local disc jockey as “The Candyman” on WMGY and WXVI and provided songwriting to other local singers and rappers. He graduated from high school in A.D. 1975.

Only in America . . .

Posted by Joseph on Tuesday, October 21, Anno Domini 2008
Saturday, October 18, A.D. 2008
LEGO Dragostea Din Tei

What could be a better YouTube video than a catchy Romanian song and a homemade LEGO video?

Perhaps the cutest boy band ever . . . and they even have interchangeable parts!

I miss my LEGOS sometimes.

Posted by Joseph on Saturday, October 18, Anno Domini 2008
Friday, October 17, A.D. 2008
McDonald’s Racist Advertising

In the midst of America’s most frank discussions of race in perhaps decades due to the presidential campaign, I am posting many entries that touch upon race relations in the United States. I would do this, anyway, as ethnicity, group awareness, and the distinctions of “own” versus “other” endlessly fascinate me. I also like to discuss matters that I find to be most dishonestly addressed in our society. It is a sad commentary on the backbone and integrity of our culture that only in comedy are such matters openly discussed in the public square. Of course, the comedian does not deliver logos, but he presents an instructive image that provokes thought and offers catharsis from the lies and infantile restrictions that respectable American society has placed upon itself; e.g. the most respectable journalistic outlets in the country consistently employ the “n- word,” as if the American public should be addressed as little lambs. That an derogatory ethnic term should have the same hallowed power as the Tetragrammaton for our impious heathen is instructive about our fittingness—and worthiness—to survive. So, in this land barren of fortitude and common sense, let the clown arise to address the crowd and speak truth to sorriness. For we should remember that Aristophanes proved much wiser than most in his understanding of the human condition.

Moreover, I hate taboos and, like Alcibiades, I generally enjoy defacing the idols of the tribe. In this spirit, I offer the hilarious but R rated commentary on McDonald’s painful attempts at pandering, um, I mean, niche marketing: (you have been warned about the content)

This is an actual McDonald’s commercial:

Snap! Of course, a business is going to target its audience. Instead of poor black kids, let us say that you wish to target buppies with MBA’s who still cling to youth culture:

Or, say, you want to appeal to globalist buppies who majored in Diaspora studies:

White people like this commercial, too, as Africa (sans warlords, genocide, famine, and pestilence) is pretty much the coolest place on earth.

Except possibly Japan . . . When you want to reach contemporary Japanese folks, you use creepy but stylish femininity:

And in Japan, even the men can be disturbingly Vogue chic androgynous:

At least McDonald’s can have fun with its multicultural dabbling, as in this funny Bollywood-in-Québec fusion ad:

Are you lovin’ it?

Posted by Joseph on Friday, October 17, Anno Domini 2008
Wednesday, October 15, A.D. 2008
The Doctor

When I was a wee laddie, I watched a few Doctor Who episodes on the local P.B.S. station, which I found rather disturbing. I pretty much forgot about the show until Andrew in his reignant nerdiness initiated me into the forty-five year old B.B.C. cult. I dare not claim to be a real fan, but Andrew tells me that I have seen about two thirds of the show—mostly in the middle of the night with severe sleep deprivation, but such is my poison. I cannot compare with the fellow from Doctor Who Survival, who watched the whole series in less than four months. Nonetheless, I have developed a taste for the quirky British children’s show.

I am happy that the B.B.C. has brought the series back after a hiatus, and I am not simply going to judge the classic series or the new series better or worse, as the results are quite mixed. The peculiar form of Doctor Who allows for considerable diversity in the show. The cast, writers, and production crew gradually change all the time. The basic storyline features a time traveling alien who meets folks and brings them along for a spell as companions on his adventures through time and space. Each world and time period offer a different situation, usually troublesome, where the Doctor entangles himself in the messy business of the moment. Other than that general description, the show has few other constraints. There are some arching plotlines and revisted themes, ideas, characters, and settings, but one could argue that Doctor Who is more of a B.B.C. brand than a coherent unified fictional whole. Nevertheless, it is often fun. Even with the primitive special effects during the show’s first decades, it is entertaining television.

By far, my favorite doctor is the fourth—Tom Baker. Below is a delightful example of his zaniness in the most enjoyable “City of Death.” (You may wish to fast-forward to 1:11 to bypass the “scary alien cliffhanger” replayed from the previous broadcast.)

You can watch the whole episode starting here. Indeed, Captainkey’s DailyMotion account has several classic episodes that you can watch online.

The classic series has several cleverly written serials, and in the “City of Death” we see the handiwork of Douglas Adams. He was brilliantly funny.

The new series also has some remarkable episodes such as “The Empty Child” / “The Doctor Dances,” “The Girl in the Fireplace,” and “Blink”—all by Steven Moffatt. I look forward to his taking over the show in A.D. 2010.

Posted by Joseph on Wednesday, October 15, Anno Domini 2008
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Tuesday, October 14, A.D. 2008
Code Pink

The Daily Show has become Leftist fodder; sadly gone are the days of Craig Kilbourn, Beth Littleford, Mo Rocca, and the early cast.

Nonetheless, the following segment has funny moments because, well, the absurd is humorous:

The very existence of Code Pink makes me question the rationality of man and the justice of God. Yet, I must confess that I ran into one of these women once in a cafeteria, and she was pleasant—rather off, very eccentric—but a cordial woman, all the same. She may even garden well and feed the birds who visit her yard. She just is idiotic when it comes to public policy.

Posted by Joseph on Tuesday, October 14, Anno Domini 2008
Monday, October 13, A.D. 2008
Old Negro Space Program

This has been a beloved internet classic for several years. If you like Ken Burns, have a quirky taste in N.P.R. or P.B.S., or simply enjoy pushing Americans’ racial hypersensitivity buttons, then you will love this rated R documentary, the Old Negro Space Program:

The whole production is golden, but I appreciate two things in particular: the 1957/58 joke (“It was a different time . . .”) and Dr. Warren Fingeroot. I know Dr. Fingeroot—many instantiations and variations of him.

By the way, the writer, Andy Bobrow, who played the professor, also worked on Malcolm in the Middle, which I really enjoyed.

Posted by Joseph on Monday, October 13, Anno Domini 2008
Thursday, October 9, A.D. 2008
Renaissance Festivals

If you attend what Americans call a “Renaissance Festival,” you will see, gathered in one place, the diverse elements of American geekdom. These so-called faire are not so much concerned with the Renaissance as with fantasy in general. Typically, they have a given themed year, usually involving Henry VIII and one of his unfortunate brides. Nonetheless, every SCA freak within a 200 mile radius descends upon the festival to live out a day of fantasy among his own kind. Sincere—or stoned—neo-pagans, Latin traditionalists, English teachers with a fancy for Shakespeare and everything Elizabethan, hordes of fratboys with a fetish for pirates, D&D tramps, pale and emaciated WoW victims, Conan the Barbarian devotees who fancy dark age chic, folks with a taste for the Arthurian, and, naturally, Trekkies defy time-lines and sensibility as they don their gay apparel and revel in superb silliness.

Adam and I had a fine time at Warwick’s festival in England; the skillful jousting, the real castle, and the historic significance of the place made it a real contender for best time-travelling festival. However, the British lack the flexible jollity of American nerds, who have a certain monopoly on geek taste. Warwick was like Jamestown or Williamsburg with more attitude and flair. To see the real deal, you must have a fake castle.

My favorite American RenFest is definitely Maryland’s Renaissance Festival . . . it makes for a very fun day. There are stage performances and travelling entertainers all day, along with endless shops for armor, body piercings, or period costumes, dozens of ways to consume food without utensils, and some opportunities for learning history. The artisans are usually very informative, and they take a lot of pride in their work. After all, there are not many traditional bowyers around anymore; even eccentric exclusivity brings pride.

At Maryland’s festival, I highly recommend Johnny Fox, Hack and Slash, and The O’Danny Girls. Besides these shows, there are real elephants, dunk-a-wench games, castle wall climbing, cirque du soleil-type acts, dog shows, and perhaps the best people watching available outside of comic/sci-fi conventions. Really, it’s a freak magnet; I love it!

Supposedly, the biggest Renaissance festival is in Texas—obviously, right? Well, I would like to see how the Lone Star State presents the faire . . . maybe next year.

Posted by Joseph on Thursday, October 9, Anno Domini 2008
Saturday, October 4, A.D. 2008
Pomofo Essays

I love the internet; it offers us such a bounty of tawdry goods without end. Several years ago, I came upon the Postmodernism Generator, which is a fitting testament to the idiocy of reason’s enemies. The generator is a clever program that pieces together strings of postmodern catch phrases into something suggestive of cognitive human thought. Naturally, it must fall significantly short of logical argumentation or else the semblance to postmodern scholarship would be ruined and the parody would not hold.

Each time that you reload the page, the mindless code produces a new set of similarly senseless rubbish. You can find many precious gems. In a trial case, we get,

“Sexual identity is fundamentally a legal fiction,” says Sontag; however, according to la Fournier, it is not so much sexual identity that is fundamentally a legal fiction, but rather the futility of sexual identity. The subject is interpolated into a that includes language as a whole. But the premise of textual nationalism implies that class, perhaps surprisingly, has intrinsic meaning.”

The joy never ends!

The generator’s host site, Communications from Elsewhere, also links to Alan Sokal’s Social Text affair, which humiliated and outraged humanities departments for exposing them to be the misologic posers that they are.

Finally, sensible academic subversion . . .

Posted by Joseph on Saturday, October 4, Anno Domini 2008
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Thursday, October 2, A.D. 2008
Yum Yum Train

This “fun realm” is a useful substitute for forwarding links to friends and crowding their e-mail accounts with, “You got to see this!” If you are guilty of FW: harrassment, maybe you should start a blog, too. If, however, you are a victim of such behavior, you will likely sympathize with the girl from The Onion’s “E-Mail From Aunt Accidentally Opened.”

Well, I discovered the following delightful video over the summer, “The Yum Yum Train” from Robot Chicken:

I love the baby at the end.

Posted by Joseph on Thursday, October 2, Anno Domini 2008
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