Shared posts

03 Nov 16:17

Hail Satan, Tonight: John Darnielle's Wolf in White Van

by Emily M. Keeler
by Emily M. Keeler


When you punish a person for dreaming his dream

Don't expect him to thank or forgive you

The best ever death metal band out of Denton

Will in time both outpace and outlive you

Hail Satan!

Hail Satan tonight!

Hail Satan!
Hail hail!

-The Mountain Goats, Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton

Wolf in White Van is the first novel from the man who might've been the Poet Laureate of the United States of America, despite having only really written songs about lonely people and monsters. As the sole founder of the beloved indie folk band The Mountain Goats, John Darnielle is no stranger to touching people with his words—in The New Yorker, Sasha Frere-Jones once called him “America's best non-hip-hop lyricist.”

In October 2012, a few thousand people signed a petition for the White House to bestow on him the same honors once held by Elizabeth Bishop, Gwendolyn Brooks, Mark Strand, and Louise Gluck. The power of Darnielle's lyrics are such that it's not hard to envision his name on the historic list of our most highly honored poets.

More than the lyricism of his work, Darnielle is known for the power of storytelling and myth-making in his songs, and has crafted characters that live on in the hearts of fans the world over. Consider, by way of example, Jeff and Cyrus, “a couple of guys who’d been friends since grade school,” who are the subjects of the first song on The Mountain Goat's 2002 album All Hail West Texas. Once you've heard the fuzzy, tape recorded voice of John Darnielle hissing “Hail Satan” over his single, forcefully strummed acoustic guitar a few dozen times, the hopes of young Jeff and Cyrus will become a part of you, no matter how you feel about pentagrams. As Martin Seay wrote in his recent article on the power of this one single song, for The Believer, “Here, as elsewhere, Darnielle’s angry, earnest, defiantly uncool project is to reclaim for awkward adolescence—which has no escape route, no better option than to stand its ground and reject what would assimilate it—the moral authority that is its rightful due.”

* * *

Wolf in White Van is a novel that unspools rather than reads. Told in a tricky, deftly structured reverse chronology, the narrator, Sean Phillips, backtracks to a traumatic teenaged event: the gun incident that sets him up for life as a dramatically disfigured recluse. As an adult, he participates in the world primarily as the master and inventor of an elaborate choose-your-own-adventure game, Trace Italian, that people play through the mail.

Sean's injury limits his ability to perform some tasks and he lives in chronic pain. His disfigurement is so severe that other people are intensely unnerved when they set sights on what is left of the face he was born with; at one point he walks by a group of young men in a liquor store parking lot. “People like me prefer teenagers to other people,” Sean narrates. “They are not afraid to stare.” One of the teens, across the expanse of the parking lot, lobs an opening conversational salvo: “Dude, your face.” In another scene, Sean is required to meet a group of people in an official capacity. He worries if the people he's required to meet with have been adequately prepared to behold his face: “[U]nless you work in the medical field somewhere, you can't really be prepared to meet me, I don't think. It is always a surprise.” Having suffered the injury at seventeen, Sean has been unemployable for the entirety of his adult life, and supplements his meagre insurance payout with the subscriptions he sells for his role-playing game.

Darneille has a masterful way of putting the reader in the position of reverse engineer. Sean's voice, which can turn toward the lyrical when he's relaying his impressionistic fantasies as a child of being an all powerful demon (a somewhat darker version, perhaps, of Maurice Sendak's Max among his Wildthings), initially seems reticent, private. We see the iceberg in the distance, and are permitted to work very slowly from the bracing surface down into his dark depths.

The official goal of Trace Italian is to get inside of a large fortress, the Trace, but no matter how optimal a strategy a player might devise, it takes thousands of moves to get even to the perimeter. The game has an almost infinite number of near-meaningless consequences; you may choose your moves and they will lead to more choices, more moves. Sometimes a player will make a choice that leads to a months-long detour, sometimes they will choose moves that streamline the journey. The game is a story that people pay to have a part in the telling of, an exercise more in narrative than agency.

The novel foregrounded a recent event in Sean's life: two teenagers tried to map the game onto the plane of real life. One turn presents two options: to lie in the cold overnight, or to press on and find shelter. The options seemed equally dangerous, and the teens write back to say they're choosing a third option of their own invention. They choose to dig. The move cannot be contained by the logic of the game. Sean has no previously devised outcome for the action. Not that it matters—the teens were out in a real field and they literally dug into the actual earth. It was a cold night, and one of them died. The other sustained cold-related injuries.

Sean is beside himself; he's initially unsure how to figure his role in the tragedy—the game, a work of art, had repercussions he could not have known or predicted. “Trying to express the feeling I had [when the one teen died] is like trying to describe what you see when your eyes are bandaged: it's not impossible, but it's different from describing something you can actually look at…It's trying to describe something at which you are unable to look directly.”

When the dead teen's family tries to sue, he sees for himself his lack of legal culpability; but Darnielle isn't quite making the same argument. In fact, he's just this side of asking a question: the experience of art, of music, narrative, can entangle so tantalizingly with a troubled consciousness…how can we separate art from feeling, feeling from action?

* * *

Just before Christmas in 1985, two teenage boys were somewhat drunk and slightly high when they decided to go to a park and shoot themselves in the face.

They had spent the afternoon listening to a Judas Priest's record, Stained Class. One of the boys, Ray Belknap, died immediately. His best friend, James Vance, survived pulling the trigger, slippery with Belknap's blood, of a twelve-gauge shotgun he had placed beneath his own chin. He decimated his jaw, tongue, and cheekbones. Part of his trachea imploded. But he lived.

As a lawyer would later point out in court, because his life didn't end, a lawsuit was made possible; the mothers of both Belkan and Vance went on to sue the members of Judas Priest, and CBS for distributing the material that Vance believed “mesmerized” the boys into a suicidal stupor, through subliminal messages embedded into the music.

The lawsuit was dismissed in August 1990 after only two weeks in court. In Dream Deceivers, a documentary that follows the high profile trial, filmmaker David Van Taylor has several brief interviews with Vance. The footage is hard to watch; Vance's face is a grotesque image of human frailty—his eyes seem recessed into a haphazard slap of putty, his nose an asymmetrical bulb that clearly balloons into his field of vision. He has no lips. He looks like a caricature of a ghoul, the uneven features of an incongruous puppet animated by alarmingly human eyes. Looking at him, it is impossible not to be aware that you are looking directly at pain.

“People don't know what it's like to have to open your whole life after you've had a horrible experience like this,” Vance says into the camera. It's not clear if he's talking about his life being opened as a byproduct of the sensational nature of the case, or if he means simply that his life was just getting started—he was 19 years old on the day he watched his friend die, shortly before he ruined his own life. “The music,” he tells us, “was just beautiful. We would get power from it, and our emotions would just soar with the music.”

Vance died from a methadone overdose just before the case went to court, though it was statements taken from his three depositions which formed the backbone of his family's case against Judas Priest. He said he believed both he and his friend were acting under the influence of alcohol and coded messages in the music on Stained Class. Vance and Balknap both experienced plenty of pain before they came to heavy metal—each had survived a childhood colored by having at least one addict parent, abuse, and restrictive, born-again Christian ideologies.

In the documentary, one Judas Priest fan wonders if heavy metal only draws fuck-ups. In the courtroom, Vivian Lynch, representing the family of Jay Vance, says that heavy metal—not the gritty, unstable, traumatic conditions of each boy's life—was to blame for the suicide. “Following the defence’s logic,” she argues, “I should have killed myself ten times over.” Her personal history of escaping an abusive relative, growing up in an orphanage on Long Island, being stabbed in the back while she was several months pregnant, made it into her court room remarks. She survived all this, she survived to tell her story.

* * *

John Darnielle is a writer and musician who distills so beautifully the alienation that comes with deep feeling. Fans and critics love him for the simplicity and inventiveness he brings to buildng a bridge across the traumatic chasm of being alive. He can make the psychic rupture of a divorce into a drinking dirge, and he can imbue Jimi Hendix's tragic death with the special pathos of the banal. And he is the man who wrote and recorded the album that enables me, whenever I listen to it, to open a window on the most painful part of my life; he is the man who graced my life with The Sunset Tree, and so he is the man who let the air in.

Darneille's music touches people—his fans are especially ardent. They create Tumblrs, crowd-sourced lyric sheets, longstanding discussion forums. They get lonely together and at shows they act as though they've been found. Over his decades-long career, which he began by making low-fi tapes in a bathroom, he's sung songs about troubled kids starting death metal bands, Remus and Romulan, golden boy peanuts, wolves and mythical creatures. He sings about abandon and abandonment—his is an art that spins pain into gold.

It's Darnielle's particular facility with narrative and language that draws me, and, I imagine, so many others, to his work. Like many of the Mountain Goats albums, The Sunset Tree is populated with characters, and it tells a story. This one is about a child growing up with an abusive, alcoholic parent. It's a story I know well enough, myself, having survived, just barely, my own stepfather's alcoholic rage. One of the reasons I've become, over the years, so invested in narrative is because the story of what happened to me is so overwhelming and frightening that I have trouble remembering that I outlived it.

A promise in the spare liner notes of The Sunset Tree: “you are going to make it out of there alive/ you will live to tell your story.” Read in a certain mood, it feels like a threat rather than a reason to hang one's hope on.

* * *

When I was a child, I wanted to die. And with some frequency, I almost did.

When I was six I drowned myself on a public beach, rescued at the last minute by a life guard who pulled me to shore on a boogie board. I nearly choked to death at eight, and it would have been the end of me had my step-father not hoisted me up just under my ribs, dislodging what might have been a very fateful piece of shake-n-baked chicken. At 11 I would lie awake at night, wondering if there was enough Tylenol in the bathroom to take care of this whole business of being alive. Or I would imagine what it would be like to slit my wrists, wonder if I would have enough time and wherewithal to use some of my own blood to leave a message behind on the wall. So tacky, but I was young enough, I suppose, to be entirely unconcerned with the matter of good taste; I wanted to make a exit, sure, but I knew nothing about grace.

* * *

There is a theory that the self is the story one tells about their life, that the soul more or less unfolds according to narrative. Traumatic wounds transform the person who experiences them, but it's through narrative that we begin to piece back together something resembling a life.

The Sunset Tree tells a story of a kid who is made into a monster by the abuse he's suffered at the hands of his alcoholic step-father. But for some details, this is my story too. At the end of the record, both the kid and the step-father find some kind of fledgling peace. But in the tumultuous middle, Darnielle cites references as diverse as the myth of Rome's founding and the fatally collapsed lung of reggae legend Dennis Brown. In appropriating so many imagined worlds into one story about an oringinary trauma, Darnielle manages to transform the isolation of abuse into a greater sense of connectivity; simply put, you may feel alone with your troubles, and perhaps you are, but that extraordinary amount of feeling is a source of power. The intensity of your suffering can be understood, can be touched, by someone else, in fact might tie you to the pantheon of legendary, even mythical survivors.

The narrator that carries through The Sunset Tree is made into a fractal assemblage of a whole world-history of suffering—and the listener, or this one, anyhow, gets to feel the thrill of becoming part of a larger cosmos. To have known trauma is to have known that the world has never imposed order on chaos; humans are the sense-making animal, but we only fool ourselves in thinking there is any sense to be made. Our nature is hinged on a cosmic contradiction: we tell ourselves stories in order to live, goes the oft-cited Didion quotation. But to be alive is nothing like a story.

* * *

Speaking in Sean's voice, in Wolf in White Van, Darnielle puts it like this:

“It's hard to overstate how deep the need can get for things to make sense.”

And like this:

“It is a little strange to me, to be defending something that was supposed to have been a place where nothing ever really happens except inside our heads.”

* * *

Trace Italian, the game with near-infinite moves and elaborate imagined terrain, is the story within the story of Wolf in White Van. It mirrors life in a few crucial ways: the expression of a player's agency within the game is simultaneously the best part of it, and a total illusion. All the outcomes are predetermined; “There are only two stories: either you go forward or you die. But it's very hard to die, because all the turns pointing that way open up onto new ones, and you have to make the wrong choice enough times to really mean it. You have to stay focused.”

Sean Phillips seems in many ways to be based on James Vance; the disfiguring gun injury, the contemplative appeals to a larger narrative, be it from rock music, religion, or childhood fantasies of terrible power. Things happening primarily inside of heads, then. Stories.

In a short introductory interview to a particular TV-showing of his documentary, David Van Taylor gives his reasoning for making Dream Deceivers: “People in America have a hard time taking responsibility for their own actions, and feeling like they have power over their own lives.”

* * *

Look, I no longer want to die. Stories, like the many folded into Wolf in White Van, have allowed me to find peace with the senselessness of being alive.

James Vance and the fictional teens of Wolf in White Van insert their lives into stories and try to draw the bad things out—narratives in Trace Italian or heavy metal records can't fit the internal experience of having been hurt or angry, so the kids explode the stories onto life; trauma begets more trauma. But in truth, there is no narrative to make any of it less or more real, less or more easily explained. “It is a terrible thing”, Darnielle has Sean tell us, “to feel trapped within a movie whose plot twists are senseless. This why people cry at the movies: because everybody's doomed.”

Darnielle has written a book about the dangers of over-identifying with art, about the kind of terrible, all-consuming feelings that make life unbearable. He is also the artist who gave me, at least, the tools to come partly through the other side of all this senseless trauma; The Sunset Tree promised kids like me that there was something more than all that powerless hurt, something more to being alive than fear and anger. One's self can be rematerialized through other narratives. Something traumatic might undo you, and while life is not a story, or a game, the choices nonetheless multiply. The self does not need to be made up solely of experiences but can be reformed through art.

When you get to the end of the book, you arrive at the moment Sean began to become who he is for all that follows; while I'm hesitant to outright spoil it for you, by now you might've pieced it together, and the way this particular narrative unfurls it'd be pretty difficult to say you never saw it coming. Like Vance and Balknap, it turns out that Sean was once a teenaged boy who listened to music as a conduit for feeling more, or perhaps just differently than he thought he was capable of; like Vance and Belknap, he shot himself in the face. Darnielle seems to be imagining what might've happened had Vance found a more forgiving way of being alive, of being alone.

It's hard not to be swept up in the world that exists so clearly in the mind's eye, when what is real can be such shit. Losing yourself in art, in an album, a game, is more attractive when you feel like you're already, in some sense, lost; we turn to the worlds in our heads when we feel apart from the world outside of it.

Wolf in White Van, with disfigured, traumatized Sean at its center, is all the more powerful for the anxieties it stirs—we are affected, yes, by the stories we tell and the ones we seek out, but at base each person is free only insofar as what we can create. There is no sense to be made, only worlds to be imagined.

Emily M. Keeler was once a teenager. Now she's the editor of Little Brother, a literary magazine out of Toronto.

03 Nov 07:43

Unsatisfied Women In Western Art History

by Mallory Ortberg


babe what is it
what’s wrong
are there not enough leopard skins
i mean
if you call just two enough


and here is your royal chair
no furs on it i see
just linens and gold
that’s fine, that’s fine

is that a problem?
well you clearly didnt think it was a problem
so i guess it’s not a problem
is it


why do i only have a stone lion for my LEFT HAND
what am i supposed to do with my right hand


okay now shut up and give me that leopard skin


if i had ENOUGH leopard skins right now then i would have TOLD YOU TO STOP BRINGING THEM
so unless you hear me say i have enough
keep fucking piling them on me


i don’t know
they died really fast
can you bring me someone who doesn’t die so fast when you put knives in them

or something with noodles
honestly i would fucking kill for something with noodles in it right now


no i’m fucking thrilled to be pouring your mead
i went to Bryn Mawr so this is a perfectly appropriate use of my skillset
i think all queens should moonlight as barmaids
the crown makes us so easy to spot in the feasting-hall


keep ‘em coming


yeah that’s
that’s nice i guess
do you have anything bigger or more diamond-y
like this, but a giant diamond?


why is this man talking to me
he doesn’t have any jewels on
i like his furs but he doesn’t have any jewels on
so why is he talking at me


so this is your whole kingdom
there’s not
more of it
that i missed seeing?
just statues of lions instead of regular lions, i see
no it’s good
it’s good
it’s good you only have that




fine, kill the harpist
we’ll still be bored after he’s dead and then there won’t be anyone left to play the harp
but go for it, maybe it’ll cheer us up


oh my goddd thank god you’re here
turns out the amount of actual time you can enjoy yourself on a “pleasure barge” is like
three days, max
also i think everyone else is dead now
let’s get out of here


i like dont want to be rude or anything
but me and this dog are kind of hanging out right now




if someone doesnt move this crown on my lap to my head right now im going to fucking scream 


i thought we were going to cover the whole harp in roses
but if these were all the roses you could find
i guess that doesn’t have to ruin everything


hey girls i have a fun idea
try playing something good
just for a change
just to see what it would be like


i fucking hate reading


this isn’t really doing it for me anymore
do you want me to tell them to dance faster
i want them to dance better
this is a nightmare
i didnt say stop


youre the only one i can trust
you and this leopard skin on the floor
the only ones i can trust

Read more Unsatisfied Women In Western Art History at The Toast.

30 Oct 13:35

How To Dress For Work

by Mallory Ortberg


thinking linen


wonder jumpsuit


weather tank and tactical water

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 8.45.00 AM

science cape


all-bitch pantsuit


medicine hat


fighting circle


hobblin’ dress


medicine hat, part 2


a sexy horse


knife dress


thorn hat and body of crows


a man who is always biting you


cigar + vest + crimping


choking trousers


Independence Braid

Read more How To Dress For Work at The Toast.

27 Oct 14:51

Overapologizing in The Modern Age

by Meaghan O'Connell
by Meaghan O'Connell

5137935272_2d404cceb6_zSaying ‘I’m sorry’ too much, especially at work, gets a bad rap. It’s meek; it’s feminine, overly accommodating, self-deprecating; it’s fake. As a chronic over-apologizer in social interactions, if not in the big ways when it matters (for better or worse!), I really loved Clay Risen’s essay about empathy and the different kinds of sorry:

I’m not actually sorry for being five minutes late to a meeting, or brushing against someone’s shoe. Rather, I’m showing empathy—but not too much, because everyone involved knows these are pretty low-level incidents. I understand that contact with my shoe might have disturbed you—but I also figure that you probably didn’t even notice, on a crowded train. I’m sorry I’m late to the meeting, even though I know you started without me, and that I could have just played hooky and no one would have cared.

It’s what a psychologist would call a “low-cost interpersonal strategy”—on the off chance that you might have been offended by something I did, I’ll defuse it with a two-syllable word, and show that I’m attuned to your troubles, however minor. It’s a social lubricant, a little bit of which helps reduce the need for major repairs later on.

YES. Is it cheating to say sorry when you aren’t sorry? Or are you just attuned to the possibility that you have inconvenienced people?

Sometimes I wonder if apologizing all the time is actually selfish — I’ve potentially bothered you, so now not only did I inconvenience you, but you have to listen to my apology and do the emotional work to assure me that it’s fine. You do even more work, and I get away with a clear conscience.

This is fascinating, though:

And for all the column inches spent denouncing casual sorrys, this sort of new twist on the old apology is widely used and, I would argue, well understood, part of a general turn toward a more empathetic everyday English. The linguist John McWhorter argues that, far from degrading the language, many of the interjections that have crept into everyday speech in recent decades—“like,” “totally,” “LOL”—are signs that we’re becoming more sensitive, as a society, to others.

I want to believe we live in a world that is getting more empathetic every day. And I want to live in a world that lets me use the couched language that is supposedly feminine, weak, etc. I love my “kind ofs” and my “likes” and my “I feels.” Who is truly sure of anything?

Photo via flickr

09 Oct 08:34 Just Called Australia “The Dirtiest Country In The Developed World”

by Steph Harmon

Another day, another global humiliation.

Overnight, Slate’s emerging technology blog, Future Tense, published an article whose title will make your stomach clench up in a tiny little knot. ‘The Saudi Arabia of the South Pacific; How Australia became the dirtiest polluter in the developed world‘.

Written by Ariel Bogle and Will Oremus, the 1700-word piece reads like a comprehensive listing of everything that’s wrong with our climate policy, led by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and “a prime minister who once declared that ‘the climate argument is absolute crap.'”

The country’s landmark carbon tax has been repealed. The position of science minister has been eliminated. A man who warns of “global cooling” is now the country’s top business adviser. In November, Australia will host the G-20 economic summit; it plans to use its power as host to keep climate change off the official agenda.

And from there, it gets worse.

Two months after it struck down the carbon tax, the government forged a deal with a fringe party led by a mining tycoon to repeal a tax on mining profits. It appointed a noted climate-change skeptic—yes, another one—to review its renewable energy targets. Surprise: He’s expected to slash them. Independent modeling in a study commissioned by the Climate Institute, Australian Conservation Foundation, and WWF-Australia finds that the cuts to renewable energy won’t reduce Australians’ energy bills. They will, however, gift the country’s coal and gas industry another $8.8 billion U.S.

At a time when solar power is booming worldwide, sunny Australia is rolling back its state-level subsidies (despite domestic success) and canceling major solar projects. Meanwhile, the government has given the go-ahead to build the nation’s largest coal mine, with an eye toward boosting coal exports to India.

Did we mention that Australians’ per-capita carbon emissions are the highest of any major developed country in the world? Welcome to the Saudi Arabia of the South Pacific.

The authors go on to list the Great Barrier Reef dredge-‘n-dump, the government’s pledge to open the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area to commercial logging, and the destruction of the outback by the mining, nuclear and military industries. “‘Let’s see,’ Australian leaders must wake up wondering every morning: ‘What natural wonder could we trash today?'”

They pull out reams of quotes to highlight the Government and News Corp’s persistent campaign to “turn the public against environmental regulations with threats of economic doom”, and to “shake the public’s trust in climate science … by comparing environmentalists to religious kooks”. (For examples, see John Howard’s description of climate change action as “a substitute religion“, and this quote from Tony Abbott in 2010: “I am not as evangelical about this as Prime Minister Rudd is. I am not theological about this the way Prime Minister Rudd is.”)

Surprising nobody, it doesn’t end on a hopeful note. “If the Australian people cannot recover some of their earlier regard for their environment, they may find in time that their great land is no longer merely apathetic toward their residence there, but openly hostile.”

So yeah. Take that.

To read the full piece on Slate, head here.

To watch The Roast skewer Abbott’s climate policy and absence from the UN Climate Summit, press play:

Feature image of Sunday’s climate rally in Melbourne by Takver, under a Creative Commons license. This image was resized from the original.

24 Sep 08:41

21 Photos Of Nature Winning The Battle Against Civilization

by Lina D.

As solid and unshakable as we think our civilization is, its grip on nature is tenuous at best. If any cracks appear in the faces of our buildings or our machines, nature is quick to move in and take over. With this in mind, here are 21 photos of places and things that nature is in the process of reclaiming.

Quite a bit of thought has been given to the idea of what Earth might look like once we’re gone. Indeed, many books and TV shows on the topic have found that nature would take our places fairly quickly. Many cities would be re-colonized within a year or two, and many of our buildings would begin crumbling soon after without human maintenance or energy sources. The Life After People series on the History Channel has a comprehensive timeline of collapses detailing when various famous landmarks of human civilization throughout the world might give way to nature.

The Old Piano Tree, California


Image credits: Crackoala

Trees Winning Against Concrete In Hong Kong


Image credits: Romain JL

Abandoned Inner City Railway In Paris


Image credits:

Bicycle Eaten by A Tree On Vashon Island, Washington


Image credits: Ethan Welty

Abandoned Shopping Mall Taken Over By Fish In Bangkok


Image credits: Jesse Rockwell

Old Abandoned Mill In Sorrento, Italy


Image credits: Jason Wallace

Abandoned Ferris Wheel


Image credits: Kyle Telechan

Vintage Automobile Graveyard, Belgium


Image credits: Rosanne de Lange

Abandoned Mining Town, Namibia


Image credits: Marsel Van Oosten

Abandoned 160-Year-Old Railway In Paris


Image credits: Pierre Folk

102-Year-Old Abandoned Ship In Sydney, Australia


Image credits: AndyBrii

Tree Roots Overcoming Brick Sidewalk


Image credits: worldbeyondyourown


Image credits: Wei-Feng Xue

Abandoned Mansion Near Kilgarvan, Ireland


Image credits: Sam Abell

Abandoned Train Station In Abkhazia, Georgia


Image credits: Ilya Varlamov

I.M. Cooling Tower, Belgium


Image credits: brokenview

Abandoned Fishermen’s Town In Kamchatka, Russia


Image credits:

Angkor, Cambodia


Image credits: Pietro Bevilacqua


Image credits: Brad Grove

Abandoned Hotel Room


Image credits: Matthias Haker

The Radioactive Ghost City Of Pripyat, Ukraine


Image credits:

19 Sep 10:13

The Reykjavik Police Have An Instagram Full Of Puppies, Kittens And Ice Cream

by Dovas

Most police departments have a strenuous relationship with the people that they are charged to protect, but it doesn’t seem like that’s the case in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, judging by the good-looking officers and good times on their Instagram.

Obviously, their Instagram probably isn’t the best way to honestly gauge the Icelandic police force’s relationship with regular citizens, but they’ve still got one record to be proud of – their first-ever shooting death occurred in 2013, when they shot an armed man who had opened fire on two officers.

More info: Instagram | Facebook | (h/t: InsideLight)

























19 Sep 06:26

Here’s The Perfect Indie Soundtrack To The Scottish Referendum

by Alex McKinnon

Polling has closed in the Scottish independence referendum, and all throughout the day (our time) the would-be country’s 32 counties will be reporting results as they’re counted to see whether Scotland becomes the world’s newest nation and splits from the United Kingdom. As is mandatory in all democratic elections, ABC election analyst Antony Green has been awakened from his eternal slumber to provide thoughtful background analysis, live updates and a series of aesthetically-pleasing maps and graphs, although a plan to fly him over to Glasgow, get him drunk and unleash him on a touchscreen the size of a pool table sadly fell through.

The Scots are clearly giving 110% to become independent. #ScotlandDecides

— Prince Charles (@Charles_HRH) September 18, 2014

For more visually stimulating if less scientifically accurate info-porn, this Twitter Trendsmap showing the prevalance of ‘Yes’ and ‘No‘ tweets is a must. Besides clearly showing that Scottish people on Twitter are *way* more pro-independence than people who aren’t, a happy bug in the map lets you zoom out and see what people all over the world think of the referendum. Catalonia in Spain, a region with separation anxiety of its own, is particularly vocal in its support for the ‘Yes’ vote, while the east coast of the US is a bit more divided.

But while you’re gorging on all that sweet, sweet data, you’re going to need some good tunes that fit the theme, and thankfully Scotland has good music in spades. Music’s played a huge part in the referendum campaign; a bunch of big-name Scottish bands like Franz Ferdinand and Frightened Rabbit headlined a pro-Yes music festival earlier this week to get the youth vote out, and Scotland has patriotic songs bursting out of its ears even without a national election. While Scotland decides its future, here’s a playlist to keep you in the mood.

CHVRCHES — ‘The Mother We Share’/’Recover’

The Glasgow trio keeping their opinions on independence to themselves, but their Emotions-based brand of electro is perfect for rocky relationships and break-ups, which could come in handy later depending on which way you swing. ‘The Mother We Share’ is an important reminder of England and Scotland’s mutual heritage, while ‘Recover’ is going to be very relevant to everyone in the morning as they work off their post-election hangovers.

We Were Promised Jetpacks — ‘Quiet Little Voices’/’I Keep It Composed’

Scottish bands, no matter what genre, are extremely good at having Feelings, and no one has Feelings like Edinburgh rockers We Were Promised Jetpacks. Angst sounds especially authentic when it’s in a squeaky Scottish brogue and has some heavy guitars thrashing along in the background, so a WWPJ soundtrack will be crucial to whichever side ends up losing. As a bonus, they’ve just released a new single, ‘I Keep It Composed’, and have a new album in the works, so there’s plenty of loud insecurity to go around.

Frightened Rabbit — ‘The Loneliness & The Scream’/’Swim Until You Can’t See Land’

This is some Scottish-as-hell shit right here. Frightened Rabbit are probably the biggest practitioners of Scottish miserableism in existence, and definitely the best at turning mid-twenties disillusionment and anxiety into bangin’ tunes. They’ve been hugely supportive of the ‘Yes’ campaign and their songs are chock-full of references to things the Firth of Forth and the North Sea. ‘Swim Until You Can’t See Land’ might’ve been written for the hopes and fears swirling around the referendum, and is a massive hit besides.

Mogwai — ‘Take Me Somewhere Nice’/’I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead’

I wasn’t kidding about the Scottish-bands-have-Feelings thing. Mogwai is the soundtrack to staring glumly out a window, staring glumly at your cereal, staring glumly in the supermarket, or staring glumly at a snowy television while drinking something brown.

Franz Ferdinand — ‘Take Me Out’/’Do You Want To?’

Get it? ‘Take Me Out’ of this obsolete 307-year-old geopolitical union that no longer represents my country’s interests? Also, ‘Do You Want To’ stay in the union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland, or try and make our way in the world as a free and sovereign nation? That’s…that’s probably what these songs are about.

The Proclaimers — ‘500 Miles’/’I’m On My Way’

Besides being the most Scottish song to ever Scotch, this is kind of reminiscent of the “please baby don’t go I can change” pleas UK Prime Minister David Cameron and other English pro-unionists have begun resorting to in recent days. Hopefully, like the Proclaimers’ other big hit, Scotland is on its way from misery to happiness today, uh huh uh huh uh huh uh huh.

17 Sep 19:10

Confused about the Scotland vote? Let John Oliver explain

by Alex Moore
Confused about the Scotland vote? Let John Oliver explain

Scotland’s independence vote is coming up on Thursday, in which Scotland will decide whether to break away from Great Britain as an independent nation for the first time since 1707. We Americans are pretty confused about this since as John Oliver points out our primary Scottish association is “Braveheart,” and “nothing screams Scottish independence like a millionaire Australian anti-Semite on horseback.” So Oliver kindly gave explainer on “Last Week Tonight.”

Perhaps more interesting than the basic facts—Scotland wants independence because England is mean to them, England wants them to stay to hang on to some semblance of the British Empire—is the story around the dueling campaigns.

Funding the “No” vote is JK Rowling, with a campaign targeted at women who it suggests are too dumb to really grasp the importance of the vote and should therefore vote to keep things as they are. Funding the “Yes” vote are a pair of Scottish lottery winners who look like such rags-to-riches underdogs as to make JK Rowling look like the Evil Empire, pushing a platform of dignity and self-respect.

It’s not looking good for England, and even Oliver knows it. “In 1746 we banned the Kilt, just because we knew they liked it,” he says. Plus, the Scots sound kind of awesome: “When it came time to pick a national animal, they chose the unicorn.”

Bottom line, it sounds like the biggest practical challenge of independence will be that Scotland will have to transition from the pound to the euro, and that their key natural resource (oil) may dwindle to half over the next 25 years. Oliver makes it sound like independence is all but inevitable.

13 Sep 19:08

Artist fakes entire trip to Southeast Asia on Facebook

by Joe Veix
Artist fakes entire trip to Southeast Asia on Facebook

Zilla van den Born, an artist in Amsterdam, took a five-week trip through Southeast Asia. Like anyone else traveling, she kept her friends updated via Facebook, with the kind of cliche travel posts and photos you usually see on the site. The thing is, she never even went.

The artist faked the whole thing as a school project, staying home, and uploading Photoshopped images to the service. The work is part social media performance art, part travel by approximation.

artist fakes trip 585x351 Artist fakes entire trip to Southeast Asia on Facebook

According to van den Born, “I did this to show people that we filter and manipulate what we show on social media, and that we create an online world which reality can no longer meet.”

None of her friends caught on. This is in part because of her keen Photoshop skills, but it’s also partly because she didn’t deviate from anyone’s expectations. More than a few of her pictures weren’t even Photoshopped—like the Buddhist temple she visited above, and the sushi restaurant below. Both were in Amsterdam. She just uploaded them and let context do the rest.

artist fakes trip 2 Artist fakes entire trip to Southeast Asia on Facebook

Traveling in the age of social media means following a socially internalized set script: You post about buying tickets a month ahead of time; you take photos of the airport, your hotel and its view, yourself smiling at a few tourist hotspots, exotic food, small foreign children, and a sea at sunset. You discuss a local you met while waiting for the bus, who provided a cliche platitude that sounded wise because it was delivered in an unusual accent. You take one last snapshot of a plane wing at sunset. In a sense, largely due to social media, traveling has become an empty commodity, something merely to be posted and consumed.

“My goal was to prove how common and easy it is to distort reality,” van der Born elaborates. “Everybody knows that pictures of models are manipulated. But we often overlook the fact that we manipulate reality also in our own lives.”

Plus, faking a trip is cheaper than getting plane tickets.

13 Sep 16:13

You Need To Watch Maggie Gyllenhaal In ‘The Honourable Woman’

by Nic Holas

“Who do you trust?”

They’re the first four words of every episode of The Honourable Woman. You spend all eight episodes unable to answer the question.

Part family drama, part political thriller, and part spy game, this mini-series — which comes Foxtel’s BBC First on Monday night — might just be the pinnacle of short-form TV drama.

Played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, Baroness Nessa Stein is the lead character: a British-Israeli businesswoman who has just ascended to the House of Lords. When she’s not stomping the hallways of Parliament in her red cape, she’s the smooth-talking head of the Stein Group. The family business made its fortune arming Israel during the formation of the Jewish state. But Nessa’s in charge now, along with her brother Ephra (Andrew Buchan), and has peace in the Middle East in her sights.

Art Mirrors Life

The Honourable Woman aired in the UK in the midst of the recent flare-up between Israel and Palestine, with such good timing that you could be forgiven for casting a suspicious eye at BBC Two and Sundance Channel, who co-produced the series. While an understanding of the ongoing conflict is useful, it is by no means essential; like any truly riveting drama, the conflict here isn’t purely political. The series illuminates some factors of life in Israel and Palestine that no news cycle can humanise (soz, Fox News), and the personal dramas of the Stein family, despite their wealth and prestige, are universal: grief, filial responsibility, loyalty. tension and fidelity.

Gyllenhaal is perfect as Nessa Stein. Publicly composed, charming as hell behind a lectern, and completely unimpressed by male corporate bullies, she is the stuff protagonists are made of. In private though, when Nessa cries, you feel the pain of every contorted muscle in her face.

A refreshing contrast to Homeland‘s Carrie, Stein is a formidable, savvy leader, consciously using everything at her disposal to make good on the fact that her family’s fortune came at the expense of others’ lives.

Expertly crafted by writer/director Hugo Blick, female characters fiercely drive the drama of THW.  Running Thelma to Nessa’s Louise is Atika Halabi, the Stein family staffer of Palestinian origins. Played brilliantly by Lubna Azabal, Atika maintains a secretive connection between the Israeli businesswoman and the Palestinian nanny, which make the personal political, and vice versa.

But to reduce the political conflict to a tale of two women doesn’t do it justice. Early on, we learn that Nessa’s mantra is “We cannot be compromised”, and it is repeated to such a degree that you wonder just how compromised she will become to achieve her goal. As Blick points out, “You can’t observe something unobserved. You can’t do something without an effect.”

Observation is a recurring theme throughout THW. Circling (and at times intersecting) the Stein family drama is intelligence agency MI5, charged with keeping Nessa and her interests safe (or are they?). Stephen Rae gives one of the performances of his career as quintessentially British spy Hugh Hayden-Hoyle, slowly and methodically unpacking the numerous intrigues that surround the Steins. Meanwhile, his superior Dame Julia Walsh (Janet McTeer) has some of the best lines of the series and, along with upwardly mobile spy Monica Chatwin (Eve Best), continues THW praise-worthy depiction of women in power.

Monica Chatwin (Eve Best) and Julia Walsh (Janet McTeer)

Monica Chatwin (Eve Best) and Julia Walsh (Janet McTeer)

Part of what makes THW so wonderfully nail-biting is the knowledge that these eight episodes are all we get. There will be no “six seasons and a movie”; it’s a return to the classic BBC mini-series, married with the big budget and star power of HBO-style marquee TV.

With Blick, Gyllenhaal and the rest of the cast, you are in the hands of expert storytellers, with no time for THW to become stale or drawn out. Each episode is so thick with tension that the now-“old school” weekly serialisation is almost essential; anyone planning to binge-watch THW should ensure nearby heart medication and a support group. If the show were a movie, it couldn’t achieve this depth; and if it were a classic US 22 episode per season series, it would quickly lose its way. It’s a terrific example of dramatic economy, and restraint.

One day, when we look back at the moment that television stole the best writers and actors and left cinema for the likes of Michael Bay and some sass-mouthed pixels, I’d wager that The Honourable Woman would be a series we use as an example of why. It’s hard work, but rewarding; compelling and intriguing; and portrays (demands, even) an overdue respect for female characterisation. This writer hates you all for getting to watch it with fresh eyes.


The Honourable Woman premieres on Foxtel’s BBC First at 8.30pm, on Monday September 15.


Nic Holas has written for Hello Mr Magazine, Star Observer, The Needle Prick Project, and Cosmopolitan. You can find him on Twitter @nicheholas, or in his role as co-founder of HIV social umbrella The Institute of Many.

10 Sep 20:24

The Replacements make first TV appearance in 25 years on ‘The Tonight Show’

by Alex Moore
The Replacements make first TV appearance in 25 years on ‘The Tonight Show’

The Replacements were banned from NBC after a drunken “Saturday Night Live” performance in 1989. Like Elvis Costello, who was also banned for playing “Radio Radio” on “SNL” despite explicit orders not to, The Replacements seemed fine with it. They were already icons, and to the extent anyone noticed getting banned from NBC’s late-ngiht circuit only added to their credibility.

But like Elvis Costello they finally broke the NBC curse decades later with a “Tonight Show” appearance. The band showed up to play “Alex Chilton” on Tuesday. And they sounded great. Tighter than you remember them—the signature sloppiness is more refined these days. And Paul Westerberg hits every note just like it’s 1989 all over again. Watch below.

h/t: Stereogum

07 Sep 16:14

The Judgement of Paris

by Mallory Ortberg

The Judgement of Paris, as I assume you are aware, is one of the most popular and also the best themes in classical European painting, because it’s based on a legend where three supremely powerful goddesses asked a worthless male mortal to rank them in order of attractiveness in order to win a sculpture of a fruit. Which says so much in such a short amount of time about ancient Greek sexual politics, I think; Yes definitely the Queen of Heaven wants to know if some Trojan shepherd thinks she’s still hot.

(An aside: the correct thing to do when three murder-eyed, placid-lipped, notoriously temperamental immortals show up on your doorstep in the nude and ask you to rank them in order of beauty is to BEG OFF. “You’re all so lovely! I couldn’t possibly decide! Who am I, a mere mortal, to declare all three of you anything less than perfect? You’ll notice I sacrificed three flawless bulls to all of you this morning, please do not decimate my flocks or level my city, goodbye, worship you tomorrow.” NOT: “Sure, okay. Turn around, let me get the full picture.”)

Anyhow, it’s a great story, and pretty much every dude born between the years 1100 and 1850 with an ounce of sprezzatura and a brush tried his hand at painting it at least once. Recurring motifs include: Aphrodite’s son Eros hanging about her feet, sometimes shooting arrows; Hera’s companion the peacock; Athena’s war helmet; a smirking Hermes; ostentatious hats. Expect to see Hera turning away from the viewer and starting to put her robe back on in about a third of them, because Hera tires of losing quickly. Aphrodite will be naked 1000% of the time — occasionally she will have a useless gossamer string around her hips — and about a 50/50 chance of Hera and Athena being naked too.


hi hi hi
hi we noticed you had an apple there
why don’t you just give it to whichever one of us you think is the prettiest
no consequences or anything
just pick one


you wont get mad or anything
haha oh my god
mad about what?
like if i choose one of you
which you have to!!
yeah you have to do that
the other two wont get mad at me
no not at all
its totally objective
no repercussions at all
of any kind


so theres no catch
you keep asking us
so many questions
like about your personal safety
instead of just telling us which one of us is the prettiest once and for all


oh wow interesting choice
her hat has only one feather on it while other peoples hats have like five or six feathers
some people might say thats a little hasty, that maybe you didnt really get a good look at all the hats
but not me


i kind of cant move
well you dont need to move
you just need to pick
well let you get up after you pick


Okay, I don’t want to pass value judgments on other cultures, and also all beauty standards are oppressive, probably, but this particular beauty ideal is MESSED UP. “What makes a woman beautiful? A hat, a necklace, a horrifying smirk, and a neck that can bend 140 degrees.”


just let me hold it ok
ill give it right back

paris17oh look at that
your picking
youre making your pick
what a good idea!!!
you still have a minute to change your mind though
yeah if you want to change your mind you could still do that


oh wow look at that
im holding the golden apple of beauty
which i guess technically
and also officially
and also in every other sense
makes me the most beautiful


not so fast


oh fuck this im getting dressed 


oh sorry are we starting
did you pick someone already
hang on im fixing my shoe
i dont even notice how beautiful i am
which i guess is sort of attractive in its own awy, how much i dont even notice, im just carelessly but beautifully (i guess, i wouldnt know) fixing my shoe


are you mad
you look mad
why would i look mad
i dont know your face just looks mad
this isnt what my mad face looks like
ok good
youll know my mad face when you see it 


ahhh sorry ahaha this is so unexpected
i cant even believe it
my whole dress fell off is how surprising this is


you said no consequences right
you said i could just pick and then youd go home and it would be over
sorry i cant hear you with this helmet on
with this war helmet on

Read more The Judgement of Paris at The Toast.

07 Sep 13:00

Jemaine Clement's Vampire Mocumentary Is Coming to a Theater Near You

by Madeleine Davies

If you're still recovering from the emotional whiplash of thinking Flight of the Conchords was coming back, then being informed that no, it definitely isn't, look upon the trailer for Jemaine Clement's vampire mocumentary What We Do In the Shadows and be healed!


06 Sep 15:38

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds release feel-good song of the summer, ‘Give Us A Kiss’

by Alex Moore
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds release feel-good song of the summer, ‘Give Us A Kiss’

As summer officially ends and we begin yet another inexorable slide into the black, frozen heart of winter, it’s as good a time as any for a new song from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

Called “Give Us A Kiss,” the new tune is a previously unreleased song from the new documentary on the band, “20,000 Days On Earth.” While Cave does sound enthusiastic about the new film he sounds somewhat less effusive when it comes to its subject matter. Bashing Morrissey to Shortlist, he also managed to bash himself:

“He’s a great lyricist, but there’s a tone in his voice I find unlistenable. That kind of lugubrious tone. There’s the same tone in my voice actually and I find it equally unlistenable.”

If you’re a fan take a listen to “Give Us A Kiss” and see if you find it any more listenable than Cave. It’s actually quite beautiful and cinematic, if on the noirish side.

h/t: NME

05 Sep 15:03

I Told You The Purge II: Anarchy Was Going To Be Better Than The Purge And History Has Vindicated Me

by Mallory Ortberg

purgePreviously in Mallory Reviews Movies: Things That Actually Happened In The Movie Vampire Academy, A Movie That Is About An Academy For Vampires and Class Is 1000% Percent Better Than The Graduate And You Should Watch It Instead.

Of course The Purge II: Anarchy was going to be better than The Purge. “Fairly straightforward home invasion movie with psychopaths” doesn’t hold a purging CANDLE to “Escape From L.A. with machetes and roving machine gun trucks.” It took them a single calendar year to write, shoot, edit and release The Purge II: Anarchy, which is incredible, and I can only hope is the beginning of an annual summer tradition. I want to see The Purge: Revolution, followed by The Purge: The Hallowing, followed by The Purge: Purgatory: Hell On Earth. It is a perfect concept: one night a year, everyone in the world becomes a horrible murderer.

“But how is the Purge legally enforceable–”

“Wouldn’t the vast, vast majority of people just stay inside and not commit any crimes at all–”

“Why aren’t more people stealing cars and credit cards and whatnot, why is everyone bludgeoning strangers to death with tire chains–”

No. Stop it. Every year for one night everyone in the world becomes a horrible murderer. You can’t see The Purge with an attitude like that, man. And I don’t want you to tell me how The Purge is a perfect horror movie for our anxious, post-9/11 society, or gun culture, or Palestine, or that Santa Barbara guy, or anything else. The Purge II: Anarchy is a perfect movie for people who want to see a bunch of people try to murder each other for no good reason. Get busy purgin’ or get busy dying.

Some Stray Purging Thoughts

9. No, I haven’t seen Snowpiercer yet. I’m going to. It sounds really good. Or Boyhood. Look, I want people to think I’m smart just as much as the next blogger plagued with imposter syndrome, but I’m a simple woman, and what I really want most of the time to see a lot of people running around LA wearing Day of the Dead masks and brandishing giant, giant knives on skateboards.

8. Honestly, not enough people died in this movie. I don’t even mean the main characters, although I can think of two I would have really, really liked to have seen bite it at some point. I mean there weren’t enough ESTABLISHING THE TONE murders, where the main characters see someone brave or strong or armed to the teeth get really savagely taken out so they realize this year is even more serious than years past.



I mean, you see a guy like this roaming around in the back of a semi, you expect to see him murder a lot of people, right? Well, he only murdered some. It sucked.

7. Speaking of which — most of the Purgers are driving armored vehicles with mounted assault rifles (and in one very memorable instance, a dune buggy with a flamethrower attached to it), or at the VERY LEAST carrying machine guns and wearing bulletproof vests, except for ONE GUY whose only protection is a shoddily put-together doll’s mask, a skateboard, and a machete. THAT’S IT. He skateboards lazily throughout the entire movie, and no one shoots him even once, even though he is almost entirely defenseless against anything that’s not a dense hedgemaze. He’s just the slowly-rolling knife guy, and I love him. In my mind, his name is Timothy, and he’s getting his associate’s degree at Loyola Marymount.


6. The grandfather of one of the main characters slips away before the Purge starts, because he’s sold himself as a human target to a wealthy family in order to ensure his children’s well-being, so you know this movie has some pretty salient points to make about class warfare (the classes are at literal war with each other). Is there anything better than movie Rich People? They’re always wearing their school blazers and prep-school pins, even if they’re thirty years old, and the women are always dressed like Emily Gilmore. In my opinion, that is a great choice, but I really like to have things spelled out for me. Your mileage may etc.


This might be giving the Purgemakers a lot of credit they don’t deserve, but the marketing made it seem like most of the danger, Purge-wise, was going to be coming from roving bands of urban youths when it turns out that THE GOVERNMENT is behind most of the Purging (“You people just weren’t killing each other enough!”) and also rich people host Taken-style auctions on various lots of captured poor people, then hunt them for sport in a sculpture garden. Oh my God, and they keep fist-bumping each other, and the women are all in gowns and furs and the men are all in Downton Abbey-era hunting tweeds, because they’re hunting The Most Dangerous Game.

5. Matt Saracen from Friday Night Lights and, apparently, his wife in real life, play the sort of bougie white people one hopes either never to encounter or never to become, depending on one’s own ethnic situation. He wears a puffy vest and is strategically useless; she has very fussy bangs and does nothing but snipe at him at the worst possible time.


4. I wish there had been just one scene of some guy alone in his super-armored basement, gleefully committing securities fraud with impunity for twelve hours, but I guess you can’t have everything.

3. Frank Grillo plays basically The Punisher/Snake Plissken, which is incredible, and if Matt Saracen &co. represent white folks at our worst, Frank represents us at our imaginary best: he looks amazing in a trench coat, somehow his pompadour gets better with each fresh coating of blood, and he doesn’t have any feelings except for Revenge and Being In Charge Of The Situation and Get Down, You’re Going To Get Us All Killed.


2. This movie made me a sexist, because I am highly suggestible and also because I am a sucker for a Loner Who Walks Alone Gets Suckered Into Helping People narrative. I don’t care how overused it is, the second I see someone onscreen with a grizzled jaw and pain behind their silent eyes, I’m ready to offer them my sword and sit at their feet in quiet awe. So every time one of the NOISY, NO-SELF-PRESERVATION-INSTINCT-HAVING women questioned Frank Grillo’s plan, or whispered loudly “WHAT ARE YOU DOING” as he tried to sneak them past a flotilla of eye-stabbers, I was ready for him to cut them loose and leave them to die. But he didn’t, which was pretty nice of him.

1. When Matt Saracen gets shot — this is a movie about a world where crime is legal for one night, people get shot in this movie and I refuse to apologize for talking about it  — I said loudly to my companion, “Looks like it’s Friday Night Lights out for him,” and I have said it to myself several times thereafter, and I still think it is the funniest off-the-cuff remark I have ever made.

Read more I Told You The Purge II: Anarchy Was Going To Be Better Than The Purge And History Has Vindicated Me at The Toast.

04 Sep 10:47

TV on the Radio share new single, ‘Happy Idiot’

by Alex Moore
TV on the Radio share new single, ‘Happy Idiot’

TV on the Radio have shared comeback single “Happy Idiot” from their forthcoming record “Seeds,” their first in three years. Their last album “Nine Types of Light” was released just weeks before bassist Gerard Smith died of lung cancer at 36, dealing the band a devastating blow.

Who knows whether it’s because of that tragedy, but while most of “Nine Types of Light” sounded exalted and cheery, “Happy Idiot” is decidedly darker. The first lyrics are about being “stuck in the shade where there’s no sunshine.” “Seeds” is out November 10. It should be a good soundtrack for your cabin fever this winter.


04 Sep 10:44

News: Victoria Has Finally Implemented the Agent of Change Principle

by Mess+Noise

Victoria Has Finally Implemented the Agent of Change Principle

It took a 20,000-strong rally and 11 years of intense lobbying, but it looks like the “agent of change” principle has finally been implemented in Victoria.

The news was announced today by industry lobby group SLAM, who, along with Fair Go 4 Live Music, researcher Dr Kate Shaw and Music Victoria, have been instrumental in forcing this policy through. It effectively puts the onus for soundproofing on developers or residents that move within the vicinity of an established venue. In the past, inner-city venues were having to soundproof venues at their own considerable expense, following complaints from new residents. Read more about the agent of change principle here.

“Today is a very important day for live music in Victoria,” posted SLAM on Facebook. “Today the Agent of Change principle will be implemented. Once gazetted into Planning Policy, our loved venues and performance spaces will be protected from encroaching residential development.”

The agent of change principle has been implemented as part of a package of regulatory reforms designed by Planning Minister Matthew Guy in consultation with the music industry. It aims to provide increased protection to live music venues across planning, building, environment and liquor licensing portfolios. According to the new Department of Planning guidelines: “These regulatory reforms will address key challenges faced by the industry such as noise management, building standards, over-regulation and compliance which threaten the viability and growth of live music venues and the industry as a whole.”

The agent of change principle was floated way back in 2003, when a Live Music Taskforce was set up by former Labor minister Mary Delahunty to examine the relationship between established live music venues and nearby property owners and residents.

(From FasterLouder)

02 Sep 16:07

Tasty Tuesday · Nonna Corso’s Orecchiette with Broccolini, Parsley and Lemon

by Lisa


Lisa Marie Corso spent 20 odd years avoiding her Nonna’s ‘pasta broccoli’, but in her adult years, the subtle flavours of this traditional vegetarian pasta dish finally won her over!  Today Lisa shares her own modern take on this simple dish - Orecchiette with Broccolini, Parsley, Lemon and Parmigiano-Reggiano. – Lucy


Nonna Corso’s Orecchiette with broccolini, parsley and lemon. Recipe – Concetta Corso with Lisa Marie Corso. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Lucy Feagins, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull.

As an adult, I appreciate the benefits of my Italian heritage, and these benefits are 99% food related. However, as a child there was one traditional dish that was my kryptonite, and that dish was pasta broccoli. My former younger self firmly believed that pasta should only be served drenched in red sauce. Pasta with NO sauce seemed totally pointless.

Everyone in my family loves pasta broccoli, and as a child, I still remember vividly sitting at the dinner table, and thinking I had had some kind of culinary lobotomy. Why was everyone so enamoured with this simple dish of pasta and greens? Why had the hybrid English-Italian chit chat been put on pause while everyone shoveled this abomination down their throats in silence? And most importantly, would the diluted Cottee’s cordial my Nonna made me be strong enough to wash down every resistant mouthful I took?

I petitioned against pasta broccoli for years, then one day out of nowhere, as if my taste buds had been realigned, I felt a different emotion towards this dish. I was converted.

These days I love the understated flavours of pasta broccoli, it’s nowhere near as ‘stage mommy’ as its red sauce counterpart, and it’s much lighter on the tummy.  I also love that this was a traditional dish my Nonna used to eat on her farm in Calabria in the early 1940′s, and is now sharing with us.

Ingredients · SERVES 4

500g Orecchiette pasta
3 bunches broccolini (Or, 2 bunches broccolini, 1 bunch rapini)
1 bunch of parsley
1 clove garlic
1 fresh chilli Juice
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Salt and pepper
Olive oil


Nonna Corso’s Orecchiette with broccolini, parsley and lemon zest ingredients. Recipe – Concetta Corso with Lisa Marie Corso. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Lucy Feagins, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull.


This pasta dish is actually so easy to make it is a joke. Fill a big pot with water, and bring to the boil. Add a dollop of two of olive oil to the water and heaps of salt. Once water is rapidly boiling, add 500g Orecchiette pasta. Cook per instructions on the packet, remembering that you want it al dente, not mushy.

Fun bi-lingual fact: Orecchiette is called orecchiette because it looks like an ‘ear’. The Italian word for ear is orrechio. So if you’ve had a hard day at work, know that this pasta is a really good listener, it’s basically boyfriend material.

While the pasta is boiling, we get to the mean greens component of this dish. Firstly prep your ingredients, as this part is so super quick to cook, if you are cutting and cooking at the same time it will turn into a hot mess. Zest and juice one lemon, tear approx three handfuls of parsley, cut paper thin slices of garlic (use this as your reference for how paper thin), finely chop fresh chilli, and grate a 1/4 cup of fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano. Snap the ends of your broccolini bunch and cut the remaining stem in half.

We are now good to go, I suggest listening to this before you begin the next step for ultimate Italian kitchen vibes.

TDF TT nonnas_0339

‘Family photos of my Nonna’s father in unifrom the early 1920′s, my Nonna’s in-laws, wedding photos of her three children, school photos of us grand kids – only the good ones made it to the top of this cabinet!’ Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Lucy Feagins, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull.

Now, cover the base of a mid-sized fry pan with good quality olive oil and allow it to heat up. Once hot, add your garlic, fresh chilli, salt and cracked pepper to the oil and fry on a mid-heat. We are now flavouring the oil, the most important step as it informs the entire dish. The garlic slices should look slightly transparent, when they do add in the broccolini and fry all together.

As the broccolini starts turning into a more vibrant green, add in the lemon zest, remembering to season with salt and pepper as you go. While this is happening your pasta should have boiled. Strain the pasta and toss it into the fry pan with the broccolini. Fry together and add the juice of one lemon, and parsley, and cook until the broccolini is semi soft but not too soft. Take pasta off the heat and mix in the parmesan.

Assembling the dish, Nonna style

This is an old country style dish. Plating up has no fanfare. Just serve the pasta as is with some crunchy bread and antipasti on the side. My only kryptonite now is the garlic breath that ensues after eating this pasta broccoli.


No leftovers with this dish! Recipe – Concetta Corso with Lisa Marie Corso. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Lucy Feagins, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull.
29 Aug 07:59

The Trailer For Jon Stewart’s Directorial Debut, ‘Rosewater’, Just Dropped

by Katie Booth

It was five years ago that Maziar Bahari was arrested and held in an Iranian prison for 118 days. During this time, the Iranian-Canadian journalist’s captors used a segment from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart — in which Bahari had appeared only a few days before his capture — as proof of his alleged “media espionage”.

This morning the first trailer for Stewart’s directorial debut, Rosewater, was released – it tells the story of Bahari’s interrogation and imprisonment while he was on assignment covering the 2009 Iranian elections.

Stewart wrote the screenplay – which was adapted from Bahari’s 2011 memoir, ‘Then They Came For Me’ – and directed the film during a 12-week break from his hosting duties, as John Oliver took over (and made such an impression that he soon landed his very own show, Last Week Tonight). The New York Times questioned whether this will be Stewart’s move into “serious film director”, and the trailer gives us a small glimpse into what that might look like.

The title of the film refers to Bahari’s recollection of his interrogators, who smelled of rosewater. When he appeared on The Daily Show after being released from prison, he joked with Stewart, saying he was imprisoned “because of you”.

So far Rosewater has received mixed reviews from press screenings, with The Hollywood Reporter noting: “If this very same film had been made by an unknown director, it would pass in the night with only scant notice”.

There’s also the issue of casting Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal to play an Iranian. Stewart said: “The one thing that I was really having trouble finding was someone who was able to have that distance, who, within the horror of what was happening to them, maintained a certain light. And when Gael came in to read, it was kind of immediate.”


Rosewater will be screened at the Telluride Film Festival and Toronto Film Festival before opening in the U.S on November 7.


28 Aug 08:40

This fat prairie dog stuck in a hole is all of us

by Joe Veix
This fat prairie dog stuck in a hole is all of us

A Russian couple was driving and came upon a fat prairie dog (specifically, a suslik) in the middle of the road, stuck in its own hole. Rather than running the poor thing over, the couple stopped and, using a towel, helped it out of its hole.

Unfortunately, it’s as antisocial as it is fat. It doesn’t want to be rescued, let alone touched. It just wants to be left alone, to sit in the quiet, comfortable misery it’s created for itself, and slowly die. This suslik is all of us.

h/t The Dodo

27 Aug 22:00

J Mascis plays cult leader in ‘Every Morning’ video featuring Fred Armisen

by Dan Turkel
J Mascis plays cult leader in ‘Every Morning’ video featuring Fred Armisen

J Mascis found fame as frontman of the indie rock staple Dinosaur Jr., but he’s been a formidable solo musician in his own right since way back in ’96. Now he’s back with another solo album, “Tied to a Star,” which came out just yesterday.

Today we get the Funny or Die-backed video for the single “Every Morning” which features Mascis as leader to “The Space Children of the Forest,” a cult which mysteriously disappeared. All that remains of the group is a video tape, “Cannibal Holocaust” style. The Shins’ frontman James Mercer plays a devotee while “SNL” veteran and “Portlandia” star Fred Armisen appears as a threatening external force.

Armisen is no stranger to the world music-related comedy. He starred in a Queens of the Stone Age promotion video to advertise their flash-drive album release, plus the “Sexiest Elbows in Rock Music” documentary for Split Single. And Mascis was no unlikely candidate for a funny video. He released a ridiculous interview as a trailer for the album, and Dinosaur Jr. had a Funny or Die video of their own for “Watch The Corners” back in 2012, starring Tim Heidecker as a frustrated cuckold.

Watch the “Every Morning” video below where Mascis and friends drink Kool-Aid, dance, and generally look like that scene from “Seconds,” and go buy “Tied to a Star” from Mascis’ website.

J Mascis – “Every Morning”

25 Aug 08:45

Big Bears Teaching Their Teddies How To Bear

by Lina

Momma bears are a fairly devoted bunch, and because bears are so incredibly cute, the moments they enjoy in the spring when raising their young cubs can be truly precious. That’s why we collected this list of 20 photos of adorable bear parenting moments.

During their hibernation, momma bears of various species lose as much as half of their body weight while their nursing cubs grow rapidly off of their milk. Some momma bears go so far as to consume their cubs’ waste – to keep the den clean and to recycle their lost nutrients. Once the bears end their hibernations, it’s time for the cubs to learn by example. Their mothers show them how to survive and the cubs do their best to keep up. After all, in 2-3 years, their mother will begin chasing them off to begin their own independent lives.


Image credits: Marco Mattiusi


Image credits: Edwin Kats


Image credits: Tin Man


Image credits: Anton Belovodchenko


Image credits: Gary Pollock


Image credits: Marina Cano


Image credits: Anton Belovodchenko


Image credits: Peter Stahl


Image credits: Marina Cano


Image credits: Anton Belovodchenko


Image credits: Nikolai Zinoviev


Image credits: Danilo Ernesto Melzi


Image credits: Marina Cano


Image credits: Sergei Gladyshev


Image credits: Nikolai Zinoviev


Image credits: Nikolai Zinoviev


Image credits: unknown


Image credits: Graham Erik Mandre


Image credits: trolljenta


Image credits: Sergei Gladyshev

Big Bears Teaching Their Teddies How To Bear originally appeared on Bored Panda on August 24, 2014.

23 Aug 15:07

Neko Case Did a Cool Feminist Anthem… About How Geek Shit Is All For Boys - Stop right there.

by Rebecca Pahle

Neko Case knows there are female superheroes, right? And that women and girls are actually a huge part of the geek sphere, and have been for decades? Please, someone, show her the light. Because her music video with Kelly Hogan for “These Aren’t the Droids” would’ve been really cool—Ellie Kemper is saved by science! Feminist utopia! That rocking Leia/Spock outfit! And it’s for charity!—if not for the part where geekery is explicitly stated as being the realm of immature manboys.

Ms. Case, it’s time:


(via io9)

Are you following The Mary Sue on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, & Google +?

23 Aug 13:49

The Little Engine That Could: Female, and "Literally the First to Lean In!"

by Jia Tolentino
by Jia Tolentino

me no daysAt NPR:

Children who read the story may not think much about whether the little blue engine is male or female. But adults do. If you remember the story, three trains — all male — refuse to help the broken-down engine over the mountain. They are too important, too busy, or too tired to pull an engine full of toys. ("I won't carry the likes of you!" they said to the disappointed dolls and stuffed animals).

The little blue engine who (after significant cajoling) agrees to help is female — and also self-deprecating. "They only use me for switching trains in the yard. I have never been on the other side of the mountain," she protests.

And then the little engine just leans right in and does it: she disrupts the sluggish train economy and flawlessly executes a deliverables hack to the benefit of a group of young consumers a full century before Y Combinator. Francesco Sedita, president of the Penguin division that publishes this beloved children's book, calls the engine "literally the first to lean in! She really is the poster engine of the can-do attitude." I think I can, I think I can, I think I can lean back and fall down the mountain instead with the lazy boys, because I haven't gotten lunch yet and I'm hangry. [NPR]

20 Aug 11:04

We Spoke To Rob Sitch About ‘Utopia’, Satire, And How The Government Wastes Your Money

by Koren Helbig

Last week, our very own Nation Building Authority handed over a metric buttpile of cash for a new logo — only to immediately revert to old branding, amid claims the design was plagiarised. In the very same week, Junkee has learned bureaucrats from the new government office physically swapped laptops to read emails sent to one-another during an intranet outage.

Okay, so none of that stuff is real. But maybe I had you going there for a second? That’s the genius behind new political satire Utopia: it’s frighteningly close to the lumbering antics of our actual government.

Written and produced by Australian comedy legends Rob Sitch, Santo Cilauro and Tom Gleisner, the show is being hailed as the third part in an unofficial series by Working Dog, a production house formed in 1993. The trilogy began with legendary 1990s satire Frontline, which skewered current affairs “journalism” for its exploitative and shallow practices, before 2008’s The Hollowmen, which focused on the inner workings of the prime ministerial office.

Utopia, which premiered on the ABC last Wednesday, follows perpetually harassed office manager Tony (Sitch), and his team of mostly ham-fisted public servants, who make up the fictional Nation Building Authority. They spend millions on planning new roads, rail lines, airports and high-rise urban developments, while achieving almost nothing, constantly distracted by political machinations, and continually derailed by government liaison guy Jim (Anthony “Lehmo” Lehmann) and public relations whizz Rhonda (Kitty Flanagan), who are fixated on slogans and public opinion.

Visionary long-term plans driven by knee-jerk reactions and an obsession with tomorrow’s front page… Sound familiar?

A Series Inspired By Gluten-free Muffins

Needless to say, the everyday workings of Australia’s real-life government organisations provided an inspirational goldmine. While researching the show, Sitch and his team chatted to a bunch of people involved in the political process, from public servants to property developers, and unearthed some astonishingly absurd stories.

Like the government office that for months specially ordered in gluten-free muffins, before realising the employee that needed them had left; management promptly called a meeting on the important topic of whether gluten could therefore be removed from the blacklist. Let’s hope a Celiac didn’t start work the next day, sending the place into some sort of gluten death spiral.

Utopia started life as an examination of modern absurdities,” Sitch says. “Prosperous societies manage to find new and fresh ways of converting good intentions into amusing and unintended screw-ups all the time.”

Building A Nation… Of White Elephants

Utopia’s writers noticed “nation building” had worked its way into modern political lexicon, as politicians of all ilk repeatedly announced unplanned and uncosted yet wildly grandiose infrastructure projects, seemingly planned on the back of envelopes still stained with the residue of last night’s whisky lobotomy. (Think recent criticism by former government finance head Mike Keating of Tony Abbott’s extra $58 billion for projects that haven’t been properly costed. Also, maybe, the entire NBN.) Thus, Utopia and its entertaining exploration of well-designed white elephants was born.

Often, Sitch says, finding inspiration was as easy as picking up a newspaper. “It’s rarely one incident. It has to be something systemic – and you can pick that up from the front pages of the papers. The key is to match what people say and what people do. That’s probably the best bullshit detector of all.”

Utopia highlights how an obsession with image rather than substance can knee-cap otherwise worthwhile projects.  “Public life is marinated in marketing terms,” says Sitch. “Media management and marketing techniques used to be called propaganda. That term has a very troubling history over recent centuries, but now it seems to be a force unto itself …. like HAL in 2001 A Space Odyssey. The machine needs to be fed. Edward Snowden revealed many secrets, but possibly the most troubling one was that the ‘marketing’ no longer matches the truth.”

The Power Of Satire

For their impressive body of work, Sitch and fellow Working Dog creatives Tom Gleisner, Jane Kennedy, Santo Cilauro and Michael Hirsh were last week named among Australian television’s 75 most powerful people. Which made me wonder: does caustic comedy that highlights and ridicules the absurdity of real life actually have power, beyond entertainment?

“I find trying to make something good is still really difficult; I emerge from the process feeling anything but powerful!” Sitch says. “Producing change is multi-factorial. No one likes being made fun of, especially if it’s accurate. Personally I admire investigative journalists. That’s something that definitely works.”


Utopia screens on Wednesdays at 8.30pm, on the ABC — and the entire Frontline series was released for free last month on YouTube. You’re welcome.


Koren Helbig is an Australian freelance writer living in Spain. She has written for New Internationalist, Frankie, Kill Your Darlings and The Lifted Brow, blogs at The Little Green House, and tweets @KorenHelbig.

19 Aug 09:02

Artist 3D-Prints City-Shaped Shells For Hermit Crabs

by Dovilas

Japanese artist Aki Inomata has partnered with, of all things, hermit crabs, to create a brilliant architectural art project. Using a 3D printer, Inomata created clear plastic shells with cities on them that were then promptly inhabited by their new hermit crab residents.

Hermit crabs usually inhabit vacated snail shells, but in their absence, they’ve been known to inhabit pieces of wood, stone or plastic, so their “partnership” with Inomata isn’t all that strange. Instead of their usual shells, Inomata provided them with tiny works of art to carry on their backs. The series is aptly titled “Why Not Hand Over a ‘Shelter’ to Hermit Crabs?”

Check out the videos below, where you get to see how the shells were made and how the hermit crabs moved in to their new homes.

More info: (h/t: spoon-tamago)

New York City


Windmill landscape




Santorini, Greece


Port City





Why Not Hand Over a “Shelter” to Hermit Crabs?


Artist 3D-Prints City-Shaped Shells For Hermit Crabs originally appeared on Bored Panda on August 13, 2014.

15 Aug 14:29

Downton Abbey Forgot Water Bottles Didn't Exist in 1924

by Hillary Crosley

Downton Abbey Forgot Water Bottles Didn't Exist in 1924

"Guys, what year is it? I can’t tell because of my water bottle. Oh, it’s the 1920s? Crap." These are the thoughts of whomever left their plastic bottle behind during a Downton Abbey promotional shot of the Earl of Grantham and Lady Edith Crawley, according to the Daily Mail. Thank you silent stranger who didn't throw away their drink while their co-workers prepped to do the Charleston. You have made this rough day better, especially since plastic bottles didn't gain steam in the U.K. until the 1960s. Time travelers unite!


15 Aug 08:29

The Afghan Whigs cover The Police

by David Pescovitz

My pals in The Afghan Whigs transform The Police's "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" into a burning dark ballad dripping with soul. Read the rest

12 Aug 10:59

Stream Spoon’s new album, ‘They Want My Soul’

by Dan Turkel
Stream Spoon’s new album, ‘They Want My Soul’

The latest album from Austin-based indie rock staple Spoon is now available for streaming in full via iTunes Radio. Click right here to hear it (you might have to enable iTunes Radio if you haven’t already).

The 10-track record is Spoon’s eighth since they formed 21 years ago and put out the generally “ok” debut “Telephono.” The six that followed have been generally incredible, including the punk “A Series of Sneaks” and masterfully clever “Gimme Fiction.” The most recent, 2010’s “Transference,” was well-received and had a number of strong tracks (“Is Love Forever?” “Trouble Comes Running,” etc.) and fantastic, inventive production, but was missing some of that patented Spoon energy or the most part and comes in low in my personal ranking.

But, from the sounds of it, “They Want My Soul” is going to be killer. Frontman Britt Daniel’s time in the kraut-rocky Divine Fits with Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner seems to have reinvigorated Daniel’s sense of invention as the tracks on TWMS are fresh, poppy, and full of the life that “Transference” was missing. On first listen, “Do You” is a standout with near-twee backup vocals behind a charmingly abrasive chorus “Do you? / Do you? / Do you?”

High quality production has always been a part of Spoon’s pedigree and TWMS, produced by Joe Chiccarelli (The Shins, My Morning Jacket, Minus the Bear) and Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, MGMT, Tame Impala), is no exception. The band have come a long way from their early days and the record shows off a band matured, sure of themselves and capable. Of course, they were always willing and able to try new things, but tracks like “I Just Don’t Understand” (part my-baby-don’t-love-me-blues, part piano jazz courtesy of new keyboardist Alex Fischel) and “Rainy Taxi” (a moody five-minute almost-blues with a Spoon-y twist) show the band leaving what you might call their “comfort zone,” but without actually losing any comfort. On the other hand, tracks like opener “Rent I Pay” remind us of exactly what endeared us to the band so much as they definitively found their sound years ago.

Daniel admits that a blues influence is present, citing The Rolling Stones as a big influence, going through “a phase” with them before recording the album. And AC/DC too, though I can’t say I quite hear that influence as well.

But don’t just read my words about it, go listen to “They Want My Soul” right now on iTunes Radio. The album’s out August 5th on Loma Vista, Spoon’s first record on the label, and it’s available for pre-order in all sorts of bundles here. Plus, check out the videos below for “Do You” and “Rent I Pay,” the latter of which is supposedly “unofficial,” but comes straight from the band.

[h/t: Consequence of Sound | Image: Constant Artists