Japecake

What’s a Japecake you ask? Excellent question inquiring reader. Japecake is a new blog by a friend of mine. And as it’s subtitle indicates it’s focus is: HUMOR & POP CULTURE & DESIGN & AMPERSANDS

You read right — & Ampersands (doesn’t that just sounds like a trendy college band populated by a bunch of snobby, contemptuous English majors). Japecake is now your official source for all things ampersand. It’s about time someone filled that niche.

Anyhoo…check it out. Now dammit!

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More Brit GenX TV

I hadn’t realized before but hulu does that amazon thing where they suggest other shows you might like based on whatever show you happen to be watching. Same way amazon does with books, although I have to say I often find amazon’s suggestions suspect, at least for my taste. Anyhoo… one of the suggestions associated with Green Wing, a show that I’m still watching obsessively, is Spaced,  a half-hour comedy. (Do the call them sit-coms in England?) And I figured, oy, why not give it a go, then.

[this is where the video of the first episode of Spaced via hulu.com would appear if I could just get it to work – dammit!]

Glad I did.

Spaced is about two twenty-something Londoners. Tim (Simon Pegg aka Shaun from Shaun of the Dead) and Daisy (Jessica Stevenson, who has a bit role in Shaun as Yvonne) who both suddenly find themselves in need of new lodgings and decide to pose a professional couple so that they can rent a nice flat, clearly an allusion to the 70s sit-com Three’s Company.

The show is chock-full of pop culture references, especially TV and movies. And, a la Scrubs, it employs fantasy sequences to great effect (or is it affect?). Also like Scrubs it is a single-camera show, but I don’t know how unique that is to British TV.

Other GenX-ieties  include: Tim is a skateboarding graphic artist who wants to work for a comic book company but is currently working part-time at a comic book shop; while Daisy is a journalist who is on the dole.

Simon Pegg does much of the writing and the director is Edgar Wright, who collaborated with Pegg to make Shaun of the Dead. Also, Nick Frost, who plays Shaun’s best friend Ed in the romantic-comedy-zombie flick plays Tim’s best friend, Mike, who is described as a “weapons expert.” Much of what appears in Shaun of the Dead was first portrayed in Spaced. Some of it practically verbatim.

Another treat for me is that the character of Brian, the quirky, twitchy, semi-reclusive artist who lives upstairs from Tim and Daisy, who is played by Mark Heap, the actor that portrays the wonderfully pompous Dr. Alan Staythem in Green Wing.  Clearly Heap has a talent for infusing his characters with all kind of interesting traits and foibles that make them a little creepy and endearing at the same time, no small accomplishment.

At this point I can’t say which show I like better. It’s difficult to decided. Green Wing has way more swearing and sexual references. But Spaced has loads more pop culture stuff. In the end it hardly matters. What I can say is that I’d like to own both shows on DVD. I think Spaced is available for Region 1 where as Green Wing still is not.

In any case, both shows are more than valid GenX vehicles. Spaced is about younger GenXers, of the kind featured in Douglas Coupland’s novel, Generation X. While Green Wing is about older GenXers who have matriculated into the workforce.

And both shows are funny and sarcastic and surreal and ultimately very touching and human.

GenX Brit TV

I have been obsessively watching and re-watching this BBC tv show entitled Green Wing, which I stumbled across on hulu.com.Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Brit GenX TV“, posted with vodpod

It is an absurdest send up of hospital-based soap operas. Kind of like a British version of Scrubs, covering much of the same ground, except without the Scrubs signature “fantasy sequences.” Green Wing’s absurd element are played off as real, which in some ways makes them even funnier. Both shows are adept at mixing affecting (or is it effecting?) drama with hilarious and often over-the-top humor. Scrubs has more pop-culture references but Green Wing clearly had more leeway with language — the F-bomb gets dropped regularly, plus words like cock and cunt and all those cool Brit curses, like bloody and bollocks etc. In any case, if you’re a fan of Scrubs you may enjoy Green Wing as well.

Green Wing ran for only two seasons, like The Office, with 9 episodes each season, the very last episode running and hour and half. And it was an award winning show apparently, that was much praised. Of course, had it been an American TV show it would have been extended several more season, probably until it got old and stale, even though actors would be making obscene amounts of money per episode. I kind of like this form of programing. It allows for more ideas to get developed, and keeps shows from getting stale and turning into little more than advertising delivery devices. Although, I can’t but wish that there was more to Green Wing. But then you know you’ve done some right when viewers want more. Good fiction is the same way.

Also like Scrubs, Green Wing is definitely a GenX show. I don’t know if the whole GenX thing is even a topic of interest over there in Britian, but just watch on episode and you’ll see what I mean.

The story-line follows Dr. Caroline Todd (the female, British version of the bumbling but lovable J.D from Scrubs) as she begins her new post at the hospital in question. But this show is rarely if ever about medicine or hospital work, unlike Scrubs, which actually strives to get the medical aspects correct. And Caroline quickly finds her affections toggling between Mac, the young talented surgeon with the a lion’s main of blonde hair, and Guy, the brash anesthestist, who can be equally charming and repuslive. The love story is credible if predictable. But what really makes the show is the cast of supporting characters, whose story lines are no less interesting, and often even more hilarious, especially the spastic Senior Cunsultant Radiologits, Dr. Alan Staythem. Mark Heap who plays the stuttering, sputtering, spastic Alan is incredible. And some of the sex scene played between him and the Joanna Claw character or some of the funniest I ever seen portrayed anywhere.

Much of my argument for Green Wing being a GenX show is instinctive. It just feels like one. It has an Xer sensibility. Particularly in that it is mainly about a group of friends, and not a family as most tradition sitcoms are. The humor is often of the caustic, sarcastig insulting variety, and contains an inherent underlying sense of affection for the object of the jibes.

I could not ascertain the creator Victoria Pile’s age but I’d be willing to guess that she falls within or very near the GenX age range. The actress who plays the main character, Dr. Caroline Todd, certainly is. Tamsin  Greig is 42, born in 1967, same as me. Also:

Julian-Rhind Tutt (great name btw) who plays Mac, was born in 1966

Stephan Mangan, who plays Guy, was born in 1972

Michelle Gomez, who plays Sue White, one of the most insanely hilarious portrayals of a clearly unstable person, was born in 1968

Etc.

If I could buy this show on DVD I would, but it isn’t availble (yet only I hope) on region 1 format, which the U.S. falls into. I’m hoping in the near future it will be.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s the one year anniversary of DFW death already?

Wow. Hard to believe.

It might have come and gone without me even noticing if a friend hadn’t tweeted a blog entry reminder to me earlier today. (thanks John)  This is some powerful stuff. Example:

Then on September 12, 2008, fucking Wallace fucking killed himself. Look, I know well that depression is a disease. I know he fought it like a gladiator his whole life. I know, too, that he didn’t get the help he needed from the rest of us. I know that if we as a society approached depression and mental health with the same dedication and persistence with which we approached drunk driving or smoking or, hell, littering in the past, we’d bury a lot fewer of our brothers and daughters and heroes. We might have new Nirvana albums and Elliott Smith albums to enjoy. But I’m still angry at the events that took place and I’m still angry with these two heroes of mine who killed these two heroes of mine. I’m still angry for having my house burglarized.

I admit it. I share this dude’s anger and bitterness. It did and does feel like being fucking robbed. Same way it felt, for me anyway, when Cobain offed himself.  I was bummed sure, but I was also like, What the fuck dude? I wanted more music. And, from DFW, I wanted more fiction. Maybe that’s selfish. Maybe I and other admirers don’t have the right to make such demands, but still…

Anyway…even though I’ll be bummed tomorrow (I already am now a little) I’m not sorry I was reminded. In fact, I’d be disappointed had I not been aware of it.

And even though it wasn’t planned, it kind of seems appropriate that I’ll be spending a part of my day tomorrow writing, working on my own novel, which, if I ever manage to complete, could never even come close to comparing to DFW work, even his weakest writing, but then whose can, right?

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll get back to reading Infinite Jest. I started it this past summer but somewhere along the way I stopped. Odds are good I’ll never finish reading it, much less understanding it. I’ve yet to finish Broom of the System, a much shorter, much less dense, much more accessible novel, so, you know…  I’ve always been more into the man’s short stories and essays anyway — good excuse, huh. But I’m grateful for the opportunity to try and read all of IJ. I’m grateful (and still a little amazed too) it was written  in the first place, as I am with all of his work. And even though I am supremely disappointed — and yeah, a little pissed too — that that’s all there is there ain’t no more, in the end I’ll always consider DFW’s works a great gift, one that should never be forgotten or go unnoticed.

Peace, David.

NOTE: I’m making the Infinite Summer blog my featured blog.

Escape….

A few years ago it dawned on me that everybody past a certain age — regardless of how they look on the outside — pretty much constantly dreams of being able to escape from their lives.

Thus opens Douglas Coupland’s novel, The Gum Thief, which I read on my recent trip to NYC (perhaps I’ll muster the enthusiasm to post more about the trip at a later date, though I wouldn’t hold your breath). It was the second time I’d read this book and of course I enjoyed it the first time around but for this time I was reading it with a different POV, because I was thinking about a previous post of mine, in which I rambled about this notion or impulse or whatever you want to call it to simply walk away from one’s life, about escaping who you are, where you are, what you are, even if you don’t know exactly why. The Gum Thief is steeped in this theme, a theme which I find very intriguing to say the least, especially within the context of Generation X. I keep wondering if the idea or impulse or even action of escaping one’s life is most particular to Generation X.

I suppose it’s something I’ve always thought about but is seemed to crystalize in a way when I learned of Dan Chaon’s new novel, Await Your Reply. I’ve been a fan of Chaon’s work since I discovered his first short story collection, Fitting Ends, when I was in grad school, getting my MFA in creative writing. I’ve yet to read this new novel but I eagerly look fwd to doing so because Chaon is an exceptional writer and because this novel explores that very idea of walking away from one’s life and because he is also a Generation X writer, a designation that he not only accepts but embraces (see his comment to my previous blog post).

In any case, ever since learning of Chaon’s new novel and what it is about, I’ve been noticing this theme in many places. Not only in Coupland’s novel but also in other GenX literature, such as the move Grosse Pointe Blank, which revolves around a character who upon graduating high school walked away from his life for 10 years before returning.

Admittedly I have more than just an academic interst in this sort of  subject matter.  When I left my home town of Warren, Michigan, to go away to college, I saw it as something of an escape. I recall tooling around my neighborhood the day before I left for school, filled with this romantic notion that I would never be coming back, not permanently anyway. Of course, I was a lot younger then. Like Martin Blank, I returned to my Michigan home, but 12 years later not 10, although I did attend my 10 year class reunion, but not as a hitman…unfortunately. Unlike Martin Blank, I di not then make a quick get away again, this time with love of my life. Still, the love of my life and I are planning are escape from Michigan, hopefully soon, but that’s another subject.

In any case, my fascintion with this idea continues. I will be on the look out for more examples and plan to detail them here as they arise. Anyone out there have any suggestion, in the form or books, movies, tv shows, etc, please pass them along.

Breaking News — Obama is a secret …

… not socialist or even liberal. Hell, he’s not even a Democrat. He’s a Republican!

This amazing news just came to light on Indecision 2008 election night coverage with John Stewart and Stephen Colbert, while interviewing a Harvard Law prof who knows Barack and Michelle.

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

BEISD — A new pyschological “condition”?

Stands for: Bradley Effect Induced Stress Disorder

This is the anxiety experience by ardent Obama supporters — as opposed to wish-washy types who will, yeah, ok, vote for the guy if they happen to get around to getting to the poles on election day, that is if they happen to be, by some chance, actually registered to vote — whenever anyone even suggests that Obama might not win because of his race, citing specifically Tom Bradley, a black candidate for mayor of LA who was well ahead in the polls but ended up losing the race, because supposedly white people, for fear of seeming racist, said that they intended to vote for Bradley but then didn’t.

Symptoms include:

– A sudden drop in optimism coupled with a sudden rise in pessimism.

– Inexplicable urge to accuse a random white person of racism, preferable someone you don’t know personally and/or who can’t hear your accusation and thus can’t respond to it directly, but definitely a white that is either widely known or at least believed to be, racist, or, you know, obvisouly is, I mean just look at them and listen to the way they talk. Please.

– Persistent paranoia directed at certain select friends and/or family members who say they are going to vote for Obama but you just know they’re talking out of their ass. Like your high school friend or your cousin who is an avid hunter, has dozens of plastic NASCAR car models that he has carefully constructed himself mounted on the knotty-pine walls of his basement, laughs himself stupid over Larry the Cable Guy, and still insists on driving a gas-guzzling 4×4. Or, like your Silent Generation grandparents who may be life-long Democrats that voted for Truman, Kennedy, Johnson and Carter (they never did and never will trust that Bill Clinton character, and don’t get them started on that wife of his), but who also still regularly employ the term “The Blacks.”

– The shakes, mainly in the form of suddeny, violent hand tremors, which of course could be explained by the 8 to 10 cups of coffee that you drink daily, but you just know this feeling is more than an over-indulgence in grande lattes.

– Heart palpitations. Could also be a caffeine induced, but there’s not documentation to support that, no reliable stats, no fucking witnesses dammit!

– Obsessive need to check and re-check poll results. At first daily, and then semi-daily, then hourly, until pretty soon your mouse clicking from political blog to political blog like a compulsive masturbating shut-in nymphomaniac that jumps from pron site to porn sit. Click click click click click click. Ooohhhhhh oohhhhh ohoh yeaahhhh babeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyy.

– Delusions in the form of seeing elephants (and not the cute Disney Dumbo kind either) or giant gorillas (and not the friendly purple Hanna-Barbera 70s cartoon Grape Ape kind either) sitting in the room.

– Inability to be consoled except by watching The Daily Show with John Stewart, Countdown with Keith Olberman, and The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert, and even then it is only temporary.

– Plagued by the presistant fear that upon entering the voting booth you yourself will inexplicably be unable to cast your vote for Obama. Related to this are nighmares that involve a voting ballot so confusing that, if filled out wrong, might not only cause you to mistakenly vote for McCain for president but there it the very real chance that you could participate in changing the rules that disallow anyone from serving more than two concsecutive terms and Bush wins an actual third term, or, alternately, so that Cheney becomes president or Tom Delay, John Ashcroft, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh NNnnnnooooooooooooooooooooooo! Another variation on this dream is that the ballot is in Arabic or Farsi or French or Sanskirt is actually a highly complex mathematical equation that only a three people in the world can solve, and one of them isn’t Matt Damon as Will Hunting.

Because it is so new there is no established therapy to treat such a condition, including no pharmaceutical treatment, unless you count various self-medicating substances. Perhaps the only real way to assuage this “ailment” is for Obama to be elected the 44th President of The United States of America.

Sarah Silverman’s potty mouth

Is totally juicy hot and features very prominently in many of my better, albeit more perverted, dreams. Oh, Sarah, baby!

But now she’s using it to to help get Barack Obama elected.

No. Not that way. Although I did have dream sort of like that once….

Anyhoo… she’s…well, here. Just watch this video. But hold onto your ass because you’re totally going to laugh it off. Seriously. Some of you might want to use both hands. Hey, some people have more ass then others. Don’t dread it, claim it, as the gift from god that it is. That’s right, you know it.

Okay enough…on with the show.

Only a GenXer would campaign this way, only a GenXer could. If a Boomer tried it, they’d totally fuck it up. Millennials, maybe — they’d have to prove it first.

Check out these blogs

These come from a fellow Eastern Michigan alum, whom I read about in my recent alum magazine. His name is David Donar and he has two blogs.

The first one is political graffiti and it features his political cartoons. I dig political cartoons.

The other one is donklephant, a political blog for those “tired of rhetoric, bomb-throwing, and political hackery” which sounds like a refreshing idea to me.