Pop politics

June 22, 2007

Politics always had to be popular, but with Hilary seeking a new song for her campaign and Obama girl, pop music has arrived to the scene. The blend of soft-porn and catchy pop tunes is what the YouTube generation is actually doing rather than being the engine for social change that so many commentators seem to be suggesting. This video gives us a glimpse on the present state of politics. It is no longer individualist, shallow and ideology-free, but it is pornographic, monetarist and delusional. Enjoy the new musical democracy, because it is here to stay.


Flight of the Conchords

June 15, 2007

Here is the catch with the new comedy series Flight of the Conchords: the music is the only bit that is funny. Now, this is particularly interesting to me, since I don’t like musicals at all; but what these two New Zealanders, Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement, do with music is absolutely incredible and refreshingly hilarious.

Flight of the Conchords is a comedy duo that got a new series on HBO and the first episode was broadcasted on 17th June 2007. The plot of the episode is not important or very relevant. The show is actually quite boring, as the authors described in an interview for NPR Fresh Air, but I think the series is likely to get better with time. However, the high point of the episodes is the three musical acts. The musical acts are funny, very well acted, highly relevant to the story and completely idiotic. In this aspect I strongly disagree with Dave Morgan’s review.

Act 1 shows them at a party where Jemaine sees this girl called Sally. The singing totally silly but, yet through the lyrics, is actually totally appropriate; “Let’s get in a cab, I will buy you a kebab”.

Act 2 shows them recording a video and singing their stand-up act hit The Humans Are Dead, which includes gems such as “We used poisonous gases and we poisoned their asses”. You can see this particular bit here.

Act 3, the final musical act, it is the classical love song, completely turned around; ““These aren’t tears of sadness, because believe me I just have been cutting onions. I am making a lasagna”. Again you can see a teaser here.

I have a brain haemorrhage every time I see a musical. I change the channel, leave the room, I simply cannot cope with people dancing and singing whilst pretending to say something to each other. Even when Woody Allen tried with Everyone Says I Love You I wasn’t really happy with the final result. Maybe I am getting old, but Flight of the Conchords have made the musical a possibility for me.

Sealab 2021

June 13, 2007

Very few things are better than Sealab 2021. In a sea of people that think that TV is getting worse, I actually think quite the contrary and I think TV is getting better and Sealab 2021 is the proof of that. The problem is that rubbish TV is growing exponentially making it very hard to find the great gems out there.

Sealab 2021 is something unique in television. It has, quite simply everything a TV show needs to be a universal success: intelligent political/social commentary, plenty of good jokes, plenty of silly jokes, lots of pop culture references (to make some of us feel intelligent) and meaningful/sensible violence. However, the show isn’t a global success. The main reason for this is that it is showing on Adult Swim and its 12 minute long episodes make it awkward for normal TV channels.

Here are the reason why I think everyone should be watching Sealab 2021. The show’s main character is Captain Murphy (voiced by Harry Goz) is everything you want in a lead role. Some sort of a wiser older Homer Simpson. Throughout the series Murphy slowly comes through as a totally iconic figures. It helps that he gets the show’s best lines (e.g., “Remember, is not what The Party can do for you puddy, is what your puddy can do for The Party” or “I said a little! He is barely alive enough to kill.” or “We have bigger problems than a butter shortage”). Sadly, Harry Goz died in September 2003 and he took Captain Murphy with him. Personally, I think the series never quite recovered from this.

The music in the show is great and always meaningful to the story. No superfluous music stuff here. The theme song is a masterstroke by the band Calamine created especially for the show. It does exactly what every theme tune should do: making the series instantly recognisable. Listen to it on YouTube and you will be singing along to the theme tune almost instantly. The show has also a continuous collaboration with nerdcore rapper MC Chris.

The episodes are true genius. They only last 12 minutes (in the classic Adult Swim style) and the writers manage to pack unimaginable amounts of fun and action. It is very hard to describe the impact they have or the stories they are trying to communicate. They are all different and invariably end with all the crew dying in some freak accident – this is a perception actually as someone pointed out to me. The best way to do this is to use You Tube and suggest some of the classics: The more serious episodes like Happy Cake (”I don’t know, it is French. It’s crap”), sci-fi non-sense with Lost in Time (”Does vaporise mean nothing happened to it?”), theatre-like episodes like All That Jazz (”Hey, some sort of rescue toaster”), evil empire stuff with Der Dieb (”That’s the problem, we don’t know which throat to slit”), pure non-sense with tons of pop-culture references with Vacation (”uh-oh”) and the political ones with Article 4 (”ui, mis huevos!”) and Red Dawn (”There is a spectre haunting Sealab, and that spectre is my 5 year plan”).

After 52 episodes Sealab 2021 came to an end. Enjoy them.

5 reasons why 2012 London Olympic Games will not change the UK

June 7, 2007

No, this is not another post about the new funky logo. I don’t like it, I think it doesn’t work, but I admit that they needed to do something different. We don’t need more of the ‘same’ looking logos. This one is different and that is good. It is just differently wrong.

Anyway, the problem I have with 2012 London Olympic Games is different.

The Games (as they are known around here) are becoming a huge excuse for social engineering and the focus seems to be health. According to the organisation, the Games will sort out all medical problems within the UK via an increase in physical exercise. I agree that there seems to be quite a few problems with general health of the UK population, but I am not sure exercise is the solution to all of them. We are all becoming lazy bastards in the developed world, and this is not affecting only the British, so the problems cannot all stem of lack of exercise.

Actually, this is surely not the case. I don’t even believe the average British guy exercises less than other nations. The problem stems from something else, which more exercise may help, but won’t solve it. I can think of a few examples, where the British life style is different from the rest of Europe:

1. Education here is extremely poor for the majority. The focus of the teaching is not about making the individual contribute to society, but to make the individual contribute to himself. This creates a bunch of self-centred bastards that obsessed about their hedonist pleasures.

2. Nobody cooks in the UK. Cooking is seen as uncool amongst the 18 to 40 range, because eating out with friends is much better. The outcome of this is that nobody learns the art of cooking, so when they finally want to cook like Jamie Oliver in those TV shows it is too late and it all feels like too much work.

3. There is a absurd reliance on packaged foods. Nowhere I have been “what is your favourite crisp flavour?’ is a conversation topic!

4. Convenience foods is the sole industry. So much that they have gone full circle, from being bad for you to being good for you to, now, being better than the natural thing. A quick look at the supermarkets and it will let you know that ready meals is serious business here like nowhere.

5. Poor family life also doesn’t help. Over focused society on the independence of the individual sets people on a mission to network with friends and achieve monetary success. In this scenario something has to suffer.

None of these will be solved by the London Olympics and by their extremely patronising campaigns that makes one feel sick – like this video. This is social engineering of the worst kind, not because is ‘social engineering’ but because it won’t have the desired effect. Oh, and by the way, it is not everyone’s Olympics. The Olympics are celebrations of human competition against the clock or against other humans. And, nowadays, a commercial enterprise too. It is a sport competition, for god sake, not an engine for effective social change.