Thursday, May 30, 2013

Priscilla, Queen of the Tundra

When Empire of the Sun released “Walking on a Dream,” I thought the song was catchy in a way that made me scared that I’d soon hear it in commercials and movie trailers and then eventually hate it — you know, in the way that “Little Talks” has been ruined for me. It got some mainstream play, but in the end, I never felt overexposed to this song, so when Empire of the Sun announced their forthcoming album, Ice on the Dune, I got excited. The lead track sounded great. Everything was shaping up for a primo musical experience.

Then I saw the album art.

It’s, um, expressive and colorful.

Granted, the first album’s art suggested a meeting between Blade Runner and Liberace, but when that album came out, I drove an older car. My new car actually displays the album art of whatever I’m listening to, so I have to look at this gay cosplay version of Final Fantasy — which, of course, would be called Anal Fantasy — whenever I listen to the song… which is kind of often. 

Can we stop and take a look at what someone thought made sense as an image that people would see and use as evidence in deciding whether to buy this album? If you’re more of an “outside kid” than I am and therefore don’t understand my comparisons to Final Fantasy, please examine this promo art for the tenth game in that series.

Now, imagine that this game — still with the saturated color, dramatic but ambiguous poses and unrealistically smooth skin textures — featured not only the hero but also this badass sorceress who had gnarly ice powers as well as, like, some major lady-tude and an enchanted headdress that gave her additional sartorial ferocity. And also she was interesting-pretty. And then a lot of dude-on-dude sex happened. Then you’d pretty much have the Ice on the Dune album art, just as a game. I’ll be honest: That kind of sounds like a video game I’d play. And I think it’s cool that Empire of the Sun — neither member of which, as near as online research can tell me, seems to be gay — went that direction for their new album. I’m just baffled as to why they did so whenever the album art pops up on my car console. It’s a weird reaction, I know — not so much judgment but just “Someone sure made some distinct choices, and I just want to know what their logic was.”

Also, if you want to make the video game I described, I’d basically have to buy it. Just saying.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Kristen Schaal, Time Traveler

I’ve mentioned before that Zooey Deschanel is a time-traveler who is also probably evil. Now I’m thinking Kristen Schaal is in on this game too. Presenting the cover art for The Smiths’ 1987 album Louder Than Bombs.

I know that it’s actually Shelagh Delaney on the cover, but you have to admit the resemblance is pretty strong. And if Kristen Schaal went back in time to inspire Morrissey, then that would just make the world a better place.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Jeux Sans Frontieres (She’s… So Popular)

For a long time, I hated Peter Gabriel’s “Games Without Frontiers,” but much in the way that the opening scene of The Americans reignited my love for “Tusk,” the season finale made me rethink this song. It helps that I now know that Gabriel was using this real-life game show as a metaphor for war, and that he actually had precise referents in mind with the line, “Suki plays with Leo / Sacha plays with Britt / Adolf builds a bonfire / Enrico plays with it.” I don’t think it’s as clever as the world’s biggest Peter Gabriel fan might, however, and the implications of the line “Whistling tunes while we’re pissing on goons in the jungle” are still too awkward to talk about.

It turns out there’s an additional reason to make peace with “Games Without Frontiers,” I just learned. The song also happens to be the theme song to The Race Against Time, a video game for the Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC systems. The title was released in support of Sport Aid, the same event for which the Tears for Fears song “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” was released two years earlier. The Commodore 64 version of the song sounds exactly how you’d expect it to, but that’s no reason not to listen. Here, come on:

See, you don’t even miss Kate Bush on back-up vocals.

Video games and pop music, previously:

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Bart Simpson and the Jacket of Unrequited Love

Here is something that may seem cool to Simpsons fans, that will be completely inconsequential to non-Simpsons fans and that I just realized right now.

And if you’re impatient, here’s the “menu for illiterate people” version of this post:

Long version:

In a fourth season episode of the show, Bart gets his first crush in the form of Laura Powers (voiced by Sara Gilbert), a teenager who moves next door and is essentially Lindsey from Freaks and Geeks before Freaks and Geeks was a thing.

Laura ultimately falls for Jimbo Jones, who unlike Bart is old enough to grow a bad teenage mustache. While Laura’s mother, Ruth Powers (voiced by Pamela Reed), has appeared in many later episodes in both speaking and non-speaking roles, Laura has never appeared on the show again. Most one-off Springfieldians show up at least as background characters in later episodes, but Laura only appeared subsequently in the The Simpsons Movie, which notably featured every Simpsons character ever. That doesn’t mean she’s been completely absent from the show, however: Twelve years later, there was a flash-forward episode in the show’s sixteenth season that shows Bart and Lisa in high school. Over the course of the episode, Bart breaks up with, reconciles with and then breaks up again with Jenda (voiced by Amy Poehler). Anyway, here’s what Jenda wears in her last few scenes, which end with her dumping Bart:

The same basic jacket. Well, a military green “alterna-girl” jacket with chevrons on the sleeves. Pretty damn close, at least, in a way that totally has to be intentional.

Literally, I was cleaning and thinking about The Simpsons, as I do several dozen times per day, when it hit me: Bart ended up marrying the girl wearing the same jacket as his first crush. That’s a nice touch there, person who did that. I mean, Jenda didn’t turn out any better for Bart than Laura did…

But still — a nice callback, and a reminder that at least someone on the show remembers Laura Powers and the glory days of the show.

The Simpsons, previously:

Saturday, May 11, 2013

If the World Had Ended in 1992

Is it weird if my ways of relaxing from working at a computer are essentially the same as working at a computer? Whatever, I did this dismal scene in copper:

It’s a doodle, essentially, without the burden of having to put pencil to paper. Modified background spites found here, here and here. And more of whatever you would call this, pixel-pushing or whatever, here.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Yogurt of Last Resort

My friend posted on Facebook a photo of an Activia flavor that I’d wager most people don’t know about: Activia Prune.

via twyla johnson
It’s such a loaded product — no pun intended — and I can’t decide what eating Activia Prune in public says about you as a person. Some options:
  • “Why yes, in fact, I am staying in tonight and maybe the whole weekend.”
  • “I done ate something bad, and I want it out of my body yesterday.”
  • “I have damaged my digestive system irreparably, and I’m eating this in the breakroom where everyone can see me because I really want you to ask what I did. Go on. I dare you.”
  • “The guy in the apartment next door knows a lot about my intimate life.”
  • “I’m a busy person. I don’t fuck around.”
  • “I live on the edge.”
  • “I don’t understand how prunes work.”
  • “I lack shame.”
  • “Essentially I’m donating my body to science.”
  • “Can’t talk not, because I need to go catch a cross-state bus, and also I like being the center of attention and also I create stories wherever I go.”
  • “You know how some people can only take maximum strength-level painkillers? Well, I’m the that of this.”
  • “Goodbye, internal organs!”
And it’s all especially curious when you consider that the colon-exploding ramifications of prune-flavored poop yogurt would be muted if they had just said it was plum-flavored. But perhaps the Activia marketing team just knows their audience.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Elsie and the Looking Club

An old book held and celebrated for its cover but not flipped through and then pondered after the fact:

Wait, so is it about a weirdly sexy cow and her friends that spend all day looking at a mirror?

Or is it about a club that just likes looking at Elsie, the weirdly sexy cow, who may not be the most appropriate friend for these children to have?

What, exactly, are they watching Elsie do? Cow stuff? Lady stuff?

Does Elsie know they are watching? (I mean, she looks like she is into it.)

Or do they just all go around looking at things, Sexy Elsie and her human child-friends that maybe she had kidnapped for all I know, because they live in a strange world where a slender-shouldered, elegant cow-woman is somehow not the most interesting thing to look at?

But she is unusually sexy for a cow, no?

Did the children make the daisy chain for her? Is that hinting at something awful? Though literally speaking, they would have had to, because elegant forehoof notwithstanding, she doesn’t have the fingers necessary to weave daisies together.

Is it weird if I can only imagine the worst possible uses for the bucket at the bottom of the illustration?

Are they milking her?

Are they “milking” her?

God, I hope they are milking her and not “milking” her.

Is it a “looking but not touching” club?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

In Which Drew Searches for Frozen Fruit

Since I moved out of Brentwood and away from the one-block radius of a Whole Foods, I rarely have any good grocery store stories nowadays. But oh hey, look: here’s one that happened today.
Me: “Where can I find frozen fruit?”

Grocery store employee: “We don’t have that.”

Me: “You don’t have fruit that's frozen in bags?”

Grocery store employee: “Oh, you mean toppings.”
And though I didn’t think I did, sure enough this kid was right: The frozen fruit case at the Los Feliz Albertson’s is labeled “toppings.” I’d imagine other ones are too.

Now, a few notes:
  • The frozen fruit wasn’t located near the frozen vegetables but with the other desserts.
  • He didn’t say it cheerfully, in the context of “Oh, you silly goose. We actually put those in the ‘toppings’ section here!” He said it like “You fucking dumbfuck. Why would you ask about this product in such a ridiculous, roundabout manner when any sane person would have just asked for the toppings case. Fuck.” He said it as if I had asked him, in a the voice of a bespectacled time-traveller from Victorian England, “Good sir, can you please direct me toward the whereabouts of some bottles of fermented grape juice. We’re dining with the Sultan and his concubines tonight, and they do so love the fermented juice of the Vitis berries.”
  • Wait, people know that you can eat frozen fruit out of the context of sundaes, right? Like, we haven’t come to the point that we as a nation don’t think of it just as the cold version of the stuff that grows on trees but actually supplementary material for ice cream, right? But seriously — right?
  • They only had berries, peaches and cherries. Is that normal? Why the hell don’t we freeze apples?
  • This is why you’re fat. 
  • If they change the name of the juice section to “mixers,” I’m moving to the forest.