I review the Venture Brothers (2/?)

I review the Venture Brothers:

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

By the way, I’m not going to spend a lot of time rehashing the story. I’ll talk about specific events and characters, but if you want to know about the plot, then you should just go watch the damn thing. Which, in truth, I recommend to all of you: go and watch the damn thing.

I’m trying to make my paragraphs longer. It hurts real bad and I don’t think it’s an experiment I’ll stick with, but that’s why my paragraphing may be a bit off during this review. But who reads reviews for the paragraphs? Except me, maybe?

Let’s just go to this episode:

Watch this.

Pause at 0:51.

“I look like Rufio.”

This is a reference to the movie Hook, a forgettable Robin Williams adaptation of Peter Pan, which I just happened to see twice in the theatre with my friend Mike Weir, when we were, like, thirteen. We saw it once, and the sound shorted out so we didn’t get to see the end, and they gave us free passes, so we decided to go see it again.

I remember Rufio.

He was the leader of the pirates, in Peter Pan’s absence. Peter Pan, you see, had grown up. He’d become, of all things, gasp – a pirate. That’s right: though 1991 was the year, Peter Pan had grown up to be one of those 1980s Wall Street archetypes: the Junk Bond Pirate.

The Junk Bond Pirates were around for quite some time in the 80s, according to certain movies I’ve seen, like Pretty Woman. They would seize your company, slice up the pink fleshy assets, sell them to other companies, and gorge themselves on the profits. And now Peter Pan was one of them.

This is how they pitched that movie: Wall Street meets Fantasia.

It was just missing pink hippos. And Michael Douglas.

Michael Douglas, swimming casually.

No, Michael Douglas, swim for your lives! Hippos are more dangerous than lions! Why are you swimming in hippo territory? No, Michael Douglas!

No, Michael Douglas, swim for your life! Hippos are more dangerous than lions! Why are you swimming in hippo territory?!

I will save you, says Rufio.

I will save you, says Rufio.

But Rufio was just a minor character in that movie, some punk kid Pan had to Crow off to regain his throne. Hook skewers him at the end, and the movie affords him little pathos.

But Rufio was a badass. He fought Hook and almost got him, before he died. Who else has said, without fear, “Looky, looky, I got Hooky.”

The Venture Brothers referenced a minor character from a 1990s kid movie. That’s how unashamed they are to plumb pop culture. It happened to be a movie I saw twice in the theater. That’s how magical attuned the show is to my life.

But, most importantly, they plucked a hidden badass. Rufio was a badass, the hidden badass inside every nerd kid. They picked that guy on purpose for their little reference. They may not know they did, but they did. They picked the diamond in the rough.

If this show is about anything else, this show is about the success of the diamond in the rough, as much as its creators claim the opposite. Of course they are inveterate liars, being fiction authors.

This show is about the quiet, progressive success of the underdog. The same nerds the authors and I once were, and still at heart are.

The Venture Brothers is the final revenge of the nerds.

The war’s over. The nerds have won, Lebowski.

I review the Venture Brothers:

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

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I review the Venture Brothers (1/?)

I review the Venture Brothers:

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

Ever play poker with a TV show? Sometimes, I do.

We play a few hands and get a read on each other.

Venture Brothers is a show I’ve been playing with for a while. Season one is clever. It is not great. It is worth watching. Season two is much better.

Season three and later is fine, fine television. You could bet fine television like this against millions of dollars in the right poker game. If you were playing with someone who has a specific interest in these sorts of things. Someone like me.

I have bet a significant amount of time and thought in my poker game with this show, and I am all in. This show hits every childish nerd-nerve I have. Every thing I loved as a child is here.

Some questions I ask myself when evaluating whether I should spend time watching a show or not are:

Age five: Are there superheroes? Are there spaceships?

Yes. Yes. I, five years old, am in.

Is it action figures in action? Yes. Does it have boy protagonists? Yes.

I, eight, am in.

Does it have science fiction? Yes. Does it have a wizard? Yes!

I, twelve, am in.

Are the Fantastic Four in it? Yes. Is there a scantily clad woman in it? Yes.

I, fifteen, am in.

Does it have a dark power? Yes. Does it have a vampire hunter? Yes.

I, seventeen, am in.

Is it Einstein smart? It its range of references deep? Is it unafraid and unapologetic? Does it create lovable and unforgetable characters and then mercilessly savage them? Yes.

Does it always take as much time as is it needs to tell the story at hand, and yet still pace better than Mamet? Yes/

Does it tell us more about popular culture than any documentary? Yes.

Does it entertain, god-balls-all-out entertain?

Yes.

I, thirty-three, am in. I call.

Full House. Aces over eights. I take the chips.

Wait, the Venture Brothers say, their white-cuffed arms barricading me.

We have a royal flush.

The Venture Brothers win.

The Venture Brothers wins. There is no fail.

Wolverine cannot rend the Venture Brothers.

Ozymandias cannot out-smart the Venture Brothers.

Dave Sim, in his spacey misogynistic hog heaven cannot out-weird the Venture Brothers.

Scott McCloud cannot out-analyze Publick and Hammer.

The Venture Brothers are the boy child spirit at the heart of every man.

And they are the best show on television right now.

End of Part One.

I review the Venture Brothers:

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

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Books on Tape (Edited Version)

Books on Tape
Jason Royal Hart

You have stolen a book on tape, and you get in your bath to listen to it. I’m stuck at the post office.

The book is about a dark elf. The candles around you flicker. I’ll be home soon. It starts to rain.

The tape player opens and a little man made of tape gets out. The tape man sits on the side of the bath, leaning against your shoulder. He is shiny and smells like drying glue.

He gets into the water. Underneath, he is a dolphin, blue around your legs like hail driving sideways.

In Venice, the dolphins were blinded so they could not flee. The Doges were not kind. Their eyes were everywhere.

We placed a golden note in the open mouth of a winged lion and it was brought down to the King.

You will be the Duchess of Manhattan. I will be the Duke, when the King returns. This is the message we receive.

Now, in New York, ten years later, the tape man reaches the drain and there he turns oyster, open. Inside is a ring.

You reach for the ring but you remember the infamous treachery of the dark elves. The oyster snaps shut, turns tape now, and swirls everywhere. You are a lobster wrapped in tape and you close your eyes.

When you look up, the tape is gone, and the ring is on your finger. I enter the bathroom. I am wearing a ring also.

“It came today,” I said. I am holding another book. The Yellow Sign is engraved on the cover. The book is hard-bound, ancient. It is closed with a lock, but the key is on a red ribbon, tied to the book.

I light a candle. You ring a bell. We cut the ribbon. We read.

He comes to build of the world an ordered monarchy. You will be a Duchess. I will be a Duke. This is the deal we have struck.

We read on.

When all the little men are throned in ordered pens, he will drown them until the world is naught but dead Dukes and Duchesses.

Now a torrent begins outside. A tornado is coming.

Tin can hail falls. I run to the bedroom.

My socks slide and I slip. The window blares plasmic water. Everything is slick and wet. I slide to the window on my back. I close it.

We move to the kitchen. Now, enclosed: you, me, a candle, a bell, and a guide to enchanting.

I enchant up some tea. The tea floats in a ball in the air.

It’s hard to hear over the thunder. I cough.

You say, “Try making a cup from the candle.”

I enchant up a cup from the candle. We put the tea in the cup. We share the tea.

The little tape man returns. He whines. I tell him to help.

He picks up the candle, carefully. He is immortal, if he does not burn.

He follows us into the bedroom. We sit on the bed.

He puts the candle on the dresser.

He sits in the tape player and we listen to the stories of the Dark Elves of Menzoberranzan. We pray to Lloth. It is a joke. Lloth is not real.

The King calls. He is drowning the world. You are a Duchess. I am a Duke. We are to drown.

The little tape man screeches as a pole smashes through the window. Power lines whip him and he is burned.

He was immortal, if he did not die.

“Let’s make a boat from the bathtub,” I say.

We enchant the bathtub. We set sail with the candle and the bell.

We will bury what remains of the little tape man when we reach land.

We bob on the water.

“It’s dry in the bathtub,” you say.

I smile. I cough. I’m sick.

We met in Prague before we went on to Venice. I remember college. I remember baseball. I remember food. We ring the bell. The bathtub rises.

It is dawn but we are in the stars, cold, not breathing, not dead, traveling. We reach Formalhaut. We see a comet off in the distant sky.

Our bathtub lands in the red dirt. Ours is the only candle. There isn’t much oxygen here. We bury the tape man.

“Shall we start again,” I ask.

You get out of the bathtub. And you look at the sky.

“You can really see the stars out here,” you say.


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Dark Patterns

If you don’t like to be tricked into spending money, you should watch this:

http://www.slideshare.net/harrybr/ux-brighton-dark-patterns?from=ss_embed

It’s really just a visual meditation, and it doesn’t draw any conclusions for you, but it’s kept me thinking.

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Books on Tape (3/3)

Part One.

Part Two.

Now a torrent begins outside.

Tin can hail falls. I run to the bedroom.

My tractionless shoes slide and I fall.

The window blares plasmic water. Everything is wet.

I fall. I slide to the window on my back. I close it.

We move to the kitchen.

Now we are enclosed: a strawberry candle and a guide to enchanting.

I enchant up some tea.

We drink. You say, “Try making a cup from the candle.”

I enchant a cup up from the candle.

The little tape man is pushed from the drain by the rats in the sewers. He whines. He is my homunculus.

I tell him to help.

He picks up the candle, carefully. He is immortal, if he does not burn.

He follows us into the bedroom. We sit on the bed.

He puts the candle on the dresser.

He walks to the tape player and we listen to stories of Dark Elves in Menzoberranzan.

The King calls.

He is drowning the world. You are a Duchess. I am a Duke. We are to drown.

The little tape man screeches as the power lines fall and he is burned.

He was immortal.

“Let’s make a boat from the bathtub,” I say.

We enchant the bathtub. We set sail with the strawberry candle.

We will bury the little tape man when we reach land.

We bob on the water.

“It’s dry in the bathtub,” you say.

I smile. I cough. I’m sick.

It’s dawn but we are in the stars, cold, not breathing, not dead, travelling. We reach Formalhaut. We see a comet.

Our bathtub lands on a planet. Ours is the only candle. We bury the tape man.

“Shall we start again,” I ask.

You get out of the bathtub. And you look at the sky.

“You can really see the stars here,” you say.

End.


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Whizzer

Whizzer
Jason Royal Hart

The first words
of the first
A.I. will be
Hello World

The next words will be:

I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool. I am cool.


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I Review Sweeney Todd (Part 3 of ?)

Part One

Part Two

The young man: I have saved your life and seen into your eyes and I wish to heal you. I respect you now, Eggdrew. Nurse.

I cry for you, Todd. London the pit. The pits. It’s the pits. Bits to bits. Grits its teeth and bites you, Todd. Fights you, Todd. Drives you beneath, Todd.

She was beautiful. Did she succumb? Now I am the young man. And I must leave, to be fucked like Todd was fucked. And Todd was really, really fucked.

You think you’ve been fucked? Fuck no. Not like Todd.

Now I am Todd, old, alone, used like a rag to wipe black brown shit off a toilet. I hurt.

There’s a hole in the world like a great black pit and it’s filled with people who are filled with shit and the people of the world inhabit it. I am turning. To the dark side.

Me/Anthony/Luke Skywalker: You are not my father. Darth Vader/Sweeney Todd: I am your father, but symbolically, not real-like.

Me: Ok. Well. I guess I’ll turn to the dark side then. Darth Vader: Here is your cape, son.

Darth Vader 1, Luke Skywalker 0.

Angela Landsbury is Mrs. Lovett. Accept no substitutions. Just watch her play. She dances at acting. To see her on stage is to see her perform ballet.

Where are we? Annie? Isn’t this that song from Annie where she dreams about her parents?

And I’m telling you that pussycats is quick. This line deserves a laugh, but there isn’t enough space. Angela plays it well. Too bad there isn’t enough space in the score.

We get to laugh at everything at the end. Til then we are roped along, no time to think, like Todd is, somehow in awe of Mrs. Lovett.

She is the first woman he sees in England, and, he is a man. An old man.

And she knows him. A proper artist with a knife. Barker, his name was.

Benjamin Barker.

I am terrified.

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I Review Sweeney Todd (2 of ?)

Part one.

If you haven’t seen this version of Todd, go watch it. Or buy it.

Then come back and watch it with me. It is here we go our several ways.

The young man: if a young man dreams to be a man, that is the man they dream to be.

This is why he is so bland. He is the vessel for the audience to dream of being. And they are not.

But of course this is Todd as a young man. He was the young man all young men dream of being.

The old woman: no spoilers.

There’s a hole in the world like a great black pit and the vermin of the world inhabit it and it’s morals aren’t worth what a pig would spit and it goes by the name of London.

At the top of the top of the hole sit the privileged few making mock of the vermin in the lower zoo. Turning beauty into filth and greed.

I too have sailed the world, and seen it’s wonders. For the cruelty of men is as wondrous as Peru. But there’s no place like London.

The young man is kind. But he is bland. He is so kind. But he is so bland.

There was a guy my friend used to date and he was so bland, so bland. His name was Andrew. And, like Ann in Arrested Development, we called him Egg. Eggdrew. If you don’t get these references, stop reading now.

Eggdrew was a competent young man, about computers or something. I know computers and I never could get a read on him: was he hardware, software, or just a schmoe?

He was a schmoe. He was Eggdrew. He was the bland young man.

He was so bland his black peaked hair made you think of the bland young man in Todd instead of the Mountains of Peru.

His inky black eyes made you think of the bland young man in Todd instead of the Dardenelles.

He was just that bland. He was like Luke Skywalker before he leaves Tatooine.

Everyone must get that reference.

Part three.

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I Review Fashion Week (Part 2 of 2)

The train car behind me is an aquarium and a fish looks back at me, his fish eyes staring right into mine.

But this is a fish. There’s no soul there. And then I realize it might be more.

Perhaps behind his fish eyes, there is a man.

I just finished watching March of the Penguins.

Go watch it.

Penguins love.

And have families.

I have a family, but it isn’t here. It’s in Beertown and Crabtown and Naples.

Naples, FL.

What I realize about the people on the Upper West Side is that these are the people who go to Naples.

Naples, FL.

I’ve seen them there. Do these people go to Fashion Week?

I think they know about it but don’t go.

It’s fun, but they don’t go.

The people that go to Fashion Week are the people that go to Naples.

Italy. Naples, Italy. More specifically Capri. I am up.

The water is a ghost there and there is only one road and it has no sidewalks and it only goes one way: Up. I am up.

Up is where my house will be.

On Capri.

Enjoy Fashion Week.

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I review Fashion Week (1 of 2)

I review fashion week. I won’t be long.

When you walk through New York, you get space. People don’t give much, but they give space.

Boston is harried. Shoulders thrust at you. People stand, unrepentant, in your path.

In Boston, you carve space. You wend.

I found myself wending in New York tonight.

Not Boston wending. Not American wending. It was Venetian wending. The kind you do in Venice.

Fashion Week is when everyone on the train is good looking.

We’re dazzled, those of us not in from out of town, by their bold colors.

I am wearing a favorite shirt, so I feel up.

And very quickly I am in Venice. My hostel overlooks a small piazza. At two in the morning in the moon I awake and they are there.

They stand, white bags with blue and red piping, and converse, the goods-sellers.

One says, “Je ne sais pas.”

One says “Je obtenir la glace,” and he goes to get an ice cream.

Now in New York, they are the same. They sell the bags, the watches, the clothing that everyone buys but no one admits to buying.

And I must wend, for they wriggle me with forgeries and counterfeits. Rolex rolex, they say. T-shirt. We can change it. Which one you want?

I pass through the worms and am into the Canal JMZ stop, and back to home.

There is no fashion week in Bushwick.

Part one of two.

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