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Free To Do What I Want: Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible

Posted by Charles Reece, July 19, 2008 08:01pm | Post a Comment


Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog
is a 3-act webcast musical created by Joss Whedon with his brother Zack and half-brother Jed (the latter of whom also does the score). Hurry up and watch it, as you'll have to pay iTunes for the privilege after July 20th. Or buy the dvd. Or watch the degraded YouTube version:

 
This is Whedon in top form. Anyone who's watched Buffy or Angel or read his run on Astonishing X-Men knows that he does great set-ups, but never gives himself (or his co-writers) enough time to follow through with a fitting ending. This time around, he finally creates an effective resolution, and it's exceedingly morose, given that the rest of the story is a much lighter shade of dark comedy. (Don't worry, I'm not going to give it away.) 


This is the tale of Doogie Howser all grown up in a world that doesn't appreciate his eccentric genius.   Unlike in Doogie, Dr. Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris) doesn't get a preternaturally chesty girlfriend who loves him for being an outsider with a weird, greasy friend. He still has a despicable sidekick, Moist (Simon Helberg), but the best Dr. Horrible can manage is to daydream in song while staring across the laundromat at Penny (Felicia Day), the whey-faced nerd girl on whom he's fixated. Otherwise, feeling like Klebold and Harris, he plots the destruction of the normalizing cultural institutions that have marginalized him out of existence. With each nefarious deed, he gets one step closer to being allowed membership into The Evil League of Evil, run by his hero, Bad Horse. But every time he tries something, he gets pulverized by the fists of the status quo, Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion). Things go from bad to worse when the cloddish attempts of Captain Hammer to stop a heist of Horrible's puts Penny at risk. Even though the bad Doctor is the one who saves her, it's the Captain who gets the credit and a date. When the beefcake good guy learns that Penny's the only thing his downtrodden nemesis cares about, he begins to torment him (in song, of course) saying stuff like, "normally I don't sleep with girls more than once, but I hear that the second time's when they start doing the weird stuff." Cue the chorus of Hammer groupies. That's more than the put-upon villain can take, so he plots the death of the hero. 


Some of The Evil League of Evil: Bad Horse, Fake Thomas Jefferson, Dead Bowie, Professor Normal and Fury Leika

There's nothing particularly novel about this story. In fact, it's real similar to The Villain (1979), itself a comedy Western spin on the Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner cartoons. In that movie, Arnold Schwarzenegger is a dipstick do-gooder protecting Ann-Margaret from the villainous Kirk Douglas. Douglas' character is wittier, more charming and all-around more creative than the dullwitted hero, but the forces of order are constantly working against him, just like poor Wile E. Coyote, super-genius. The Coyote is a fundamentally repressed part of the modern psyche, which has been stripped down and mass produced by the homogeneous order. We want to side with the villain against the stifling forces of control and celebrate true individualism, until we realize that cute bird would be eaten. The Coyote cartoons maintain the agony of the paradox (between desire and morality), whereas The Villain cheats and lets Douglas get the girl.
 

What the Brothers Whedon add is that line between sadness and funny one-liners that Joss and his writers regularly managed to walk on his TV shows. Unlike The Villain, they don't let you off the hook for wishing for chaotic freedom. Dr. Horrible, therefore, sides with Wile E. Coyote and our own moral reality.  And it's nice to hear dialog from his company that doesn't sound like the Buffyverse argot, which I was beginning to think was the only dialect they could write in (the diminutive form gets old really fast). The music is similar to the Buffy musical, Once More With Feeling. It still has that Rent-burnished pop sound to it, but the lyrics are funny and the music generically catchy enough to get you through. I'd say the music and singing are, at least, an improvement over the Buffy episode. If you hate Joss Whedon, none of this will change your mind, but if you appreciate his pop virtues, this is good stuff.

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Hip-Hop Author Marcus Reeves Discusses "Somebody Scream! Rap Music's RIse To Prominence in the Aftershock of Black Power"

Posted by Billyjam, July 19, 2008 12:24pm | Post a Comment
Marcus Reeves ("Someboday Scream!" author)
Marcus Reeves
, former editor of the the Source hip-hop magazine and contributor to such publications as the New York Times, the Washington Post, Rolling Stone, and Vibe magazine, recently had his book Somebody Scream! (Rap Music's Rise To Prominence In The Aftershock of Black Power published by Faber and Faber Inc.

Like Jeff Chang's critically acclaimed hip-hop history Can't Stop Won't Stop, Somebody Scream likewise takes an analytical look at hip-hop -- a musical form that, like rock before it, is now all grown up and going through its own kind of mid-life crisis. Cornel West called Reeves' book "a strong  timely book for the new day in hip-hop" and he is right.

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with the East Coast based author to talk about his new book, Somebody Scream,  and its subject matter: hip-hop. Here is that dialog:

Amoeblog
: First up, how hard is it writing a book on a topic that is still unfolding around you as you report on its subject matter?

Marcus Reeves: Surprisingly, it wasn’t that hard to write because before I even started I had a beginning, a middle and an end. I’d already picked out who were the most influential rap artists—the ones who lead their particular era—strung their stories together by chapter and let the narrative unfold.Marcus Reeve's book "Somebody Scream!" And the narrative was easy because, like so many who’d watched the story of commercial rap over the last 30 years, it was also the story of my life. All the history and events that the music reflected, and I talk about in the book, were things I lived through and impacted my life. The last chapter of the book, which discusses what events shape the music now, helped capture all those moments that were still unfolding.

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BILLY JAM'S WEEKLY HIP-HOP (W)RAP UP: 07:18:08

Posted by Billyjam, July 18, 2008 08:31am | Post a Comment
AMOEBA MUSIC SAN FRANCISCO HIP-HOP TOP FIVE 07:18:08

1) Lil Wayne Tha Carter III (Cash Money/Universal)

2) Messy Marv Hustlas Motivation Mixtape

3) Jean Gray + 9th Wonder Jeanius (Blacksmith/Warner)

4) Immortal Technique The 3rd World (Viper)

5) Nas Untitled (Def Jam)


This week's number one seller at the Amoeba Music San Francisco store should come as lil surprise. It was Tha Carter III by Lil Wayne, which, despite advance leaks and rampant downloading of its tracks, still managed to sell big numbers (by today's music industry standards) and hit the number one spot on countless charts (both airplay & sales) from Billboard (3 weeks straight @ #1) to KMEL toFillmore, San Francisco rapper Messy Marv Amoeba etc. Luis in the hip-hop department at the Haight Street Amoeba, who kindly supplied this week's Hip-Hop Top Five, said that Bay Area music buyers love Lil Wayne just as much as national audiences (especially considering the historic Bay Area/Dirty South connections), but that their dedication to Bay Area rap/hip-hop, including this week's chart's number two album, is unbridled.

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July 16, 2008 part 2

Posted by phil blankenship, July 18, 2008 12:00am | Post a Comment
Hancock movie ticket stub
Park Theater Marquee Hancock













out today 7/15...dark knight...abba...mamma mia...the x-files...

Posted by Brad Schelden, July 17, 2008 07:20pm | Post a Comment
the-dark-knight
There is a new Nas album out this week, but that is about it. Nothing much else for me to share with you. The big albums might not be coming out every week, but the big summer movies continue to come out. Both the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight, and the movie version of the musical Mamma Mia! come out this weekend. As a huge fan of both Batman and ABBA, I will be seeing both of these movies as soon as I possibly can. The week after this weekend is the release of the new X-Files movie, I Want to Believe. Some people may not like that they keep making movies out of old TV shows, but I would much rather see an X-Files movie with the actual castthe-beverly-hillbillies than a remake 10 years down the road starring new 20- something actors in the roles of Mulder and Scully. You know it is going to happen. They did just remake Get Smart into a new movie with new actors, and Hollywood seems to be constantly turning old TV shows into new movies. But they usually don't work out so well-- The Dukes of Hazzard with Jessica Simpson and The Beverly Hillbillies with Jim Varney are two bad examples. It did have both Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton in the cast, so I guess it wasn't all bad. Still, sometimes these remakes work out beautifully, like the big screen adaptations of Charlie's Angels. I also have to admit that I like the Brady Bunch Movie as well, and I am looking forward to the Wonder Woman and A-Team movies. I just hope they don't make Jake & the Fatman or Head of the Class into big screen movies. But a Murder She Wrote movie is not such a bad idea. I bet it would actually make some fantastic money among the senior set. Unfotunately I think they waited too long to make a Golden Girls movie. The Get Smart movie actually worked. I know there were a few people out there that did not like it or decided to not give it a chance, but I think Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway could do no wrong. Without them in it, I seriously doubt I would have even seen it. abba

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