Originally posted September 23rd, 2014
By Michael Konik
Slovene philosopher Slavoj Zizek is a charming public intellectual whose accented-English, absentminded nose-wiping, and obvious enthusiasm for Ideas make him a kind of ambassador of deep thinking. In the 2012 documentary “The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology,” directed by Sophie Fiennes, Zizek delivers dazzling deconstructions of many popular films, showing how they function as instruments of ideology and propaganda. Jaws, Titanic, Taxi Driver — they all contain subtle (and not so subtle) cues that encourage the viewer to believe and accept a prevailing ideology, much like “Triumph of the Will” worked for the Nazis. Zizek, and “The Guide” are provocative and highly entertaining, often more so than the movies he analyzes.
Originally posted September 19th, 2014
By Michael Konik
You could say our addiction to convenience and comfort has been successfully repackaged as the highest end for our brilliant technological means.
Or, you could say that we’re in the grip of a nationwide plague. Of…A.D.D.
Or, you could say we’re simply a country of poorly developed adult minds with the collective attention span of squirrels during mating season.
Or, you could look up, my fellow fool – if you can tear yourself away from the sacred screen.
You’ll see discontented Americans waddling morosely to their cars, wondering why having more of everything hasn’t yet made them happier about anything.
No one smiles at me on the street, anymore. Yeah, that bond has been broken. We can’t look each other in the eye.
Because we’re all face-down in our palms, making marvelous use of the opposable thumbs God gave us and our fellow monkeys. They’re digging for grubs. We’re digging . . . → Read More: Poem: What’s in There?
Originally posted September 2nd, 2014
By Michael Konik
Comedians have their strengths. Some are good with “paper” — prepared written material. Some are expert improvisers. Some create indelible characters. And a few, the rare ones, can do it all. Matt McCarthy, a longtime New York comic currently destroying Los Angeles, has got the magic. We’ve seen him in several realms, including bar-raising sets at Troy Conrad’s comedy-improv shows “Prompter” and “Set List,” and he’s amazed and delighted in every setting. You might have seen him in TV commercials or heard him on his wrestling podcast — he was a writer for the WWE before joining The Pete Holmes Show staff. But when you experience McCarthy live, you’ll understand why both audiences and fellow comics consider him a unique sensation.
Originally posted July 29th, 2014
By Michael Konik
Remarkable comedic talent in young people is easy to spot. It presents itself insistently and clearly. What the precocious possessor of the talent will do with it — develop it or let it wither — is hard to predict (as demonstrated by our previous comedy New Discoveries). In the case of DC-raised, Los Angeles-based comedian Brandon Wardell, 22, we have a hunch that he’s going to be making people laugh for a long time. Already, he’s a fine joke writer and a confident orator, with flashes of conceptual brilliance that recall Bo Burnham, another young man intent on doing his own thing. We sense in Brandon Wardell a nascent artistry, a growing acceptance of his comic individuality. It should be an interesting journey to watch.
Originally posted July 20th, 2014
By Michael Konik
The Washington Redskins have the coolest nickname in all of sports. Their logo – a stone-faced Indian wearing 19th Century feathers – is also pretty awesome.
Here’s how you know the name “Redskins” isn’t a slur against a conquered and marginalized people but is actually a part of the NFL’s long tradition of diversity and inclusion, on and off the field: a league spokesman said, “The intent of the team’s name has always been to present a strong, positive, and respectful image.”
Exactly. It’s not like they’re called the “Injuns,” or the “Savages,” or the “Inferior Race of People Who Couldn’t Stop the White Man’s Invasion.” It’s Redskins, as in the color of skin most of those people have. I mean, look at the helmet! Reddish skin is an honest description. Just like if you had a team of African Masai warriors, you could accurately call them . . . → Read More: Redskins Forever!
In the spirit of Lenny Bruce, George Carlin and legions of performing social critics, many modern day comedians see themselves as truth-tellers. Their performance is a kind of philosophizing, a search for meaning in an inscrutable universe. Comedian, improviser, and enlightenment-seeker Danny Lobell‘s podcast “Modern Day Philosophers” is an ingenious hybrid of traditional philosophy — Plato, Hegel, Kant — with “modern day” philosophy, Lobell’s comedian friends. The dual joys of the show are learning (by filling in the gaps in your scholastic reading, or being reminded Who said What) and laughing at the insights, rants, and anecdotes provided by Lobell and his guests, who range in intelligence and erudition from Very Smart to not. Sometimes MDP is clever, sometimes it’s stupid. But the impulse to learn and laugh is omnipresent. It’s our kind of show.
The Enemy Who Hates Our Freedoms has gotten unruly, crossing borders dreamed up by imperial empires. Impudent weeds with AK-47s and machetes impertinently raise their masked heads, taunting, braying, slashing American throats and luring the big bad bully into yet another unwinnable war. It’s time to mow the grass. Here…
This year the United States economy recovered all of the jobs lost during the great Wall Street Recession.
But here’s the even better news: The newly created jobs pay an average of 23% less than the ones lost in the “downsizing.” According to a report issued by the United States…
As we make final preparations for the most solemn American holiday, Labor Day, our mind turns to ways that we, and perhaps all of us, can make Monday’s national celebration of workers into a perfect expression of how we all really feel about laborers.
Another less exalted…
Who said what?
“This act of violence shocks the conscience of the world.”
A) Eric Holder, on the Boston Marathon bombing.
B) Reverend Al Sharpton, on the slaying of another unarmed black man by American police.
C) Prime Minister David Cameron, on the downing of Malaysian Air #17.
Slovene philosopher Slavoj Zizek is a charming public intellectual whose accented-English, absentminded nose-wiping, and obvious enthusiasm for Ideas make him a kind of ambassador of deep thinking. In the 2012 documentary “The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology,” directed by Sophie Fiennes, Zizek delivers dazzling deconstructions of many popular films, showing how they function as instruments of [...]