Cultural Zero

  • Memo to MKE–It’s OK, you don’t have to support Chester French

    This band is not very good. At all. In fact, based on their first single, they are horrible, boring, no-good limp-dicked tripe.

  • TCD Summerfest Group Blog

    Day Three with Cultural Zero

    Those who wander around the Summerfest grounds near the lakeshore may happen across a tiny little stage that is getting no coverage whatsoever and isn’t even listed on the Summerfest website—the Refugee Stage.

  • TCD Summerfest Group Blog

    Day One with Cultural Zero

    Summarizing Summerfest's opening night with one easily-digestible anecdote.

  • Steel Bridge Songfest Night One–Of Laundered Beer and Cougar Dodging

    (NOTE: It should be pointed out that while the Steel Bridge Songfest is overall a wholesome, family-oriented event, especially during the daytime, the following journal of misadventures is chronicling the activities of a bunch of scumbag Milwaukee musicians, and thus, should not be considered endemic to the Steel Bridge Songfest as a whole.)

  • Poster Children in Champaign, IL: On Vacation For Forever and a Day

    It occurred to me during the drive down to Champaign that more than any other band, the Pkids are the band of my 20s. I saw them for the first time in early 1995, when I was 20; the last time I saw them, we were opening the Champaign record release show for their No More Songs About Sleep and Fire album in 2004, the year I turned 30. But instead of honoring that sublime piece of synchronicity by turning around and driving straight back to Wisconsin, we pushed on.

  • Emotional Pain is Relative

    Anvil! The Story of Anvil vs. Heavy Metal in Baghdad

    both films share a very important message for every struggling musician out there trying to keep the faith while grasping for the brass ring (be it rock stardom or the freedom to grow your hair long without getting lynched): stick with it long enough, and eventually, a documentary filmmaker will come along to tell your story and make you famous.

  • Tulip, Starbuck, and the Death of Chivalry (A Reaction to Peach & Sparrow)

    if the damsel in distress is going to suddenly fight back (Joss Whedon’s initial idea for Buffy the Vampire Slayer came from the idea that the classic hot blonde victim from every horror movie suddenly would turn around and kick the monster’s ass), she’s going to have to take some punches too.

  • Britain’s Got Talent, But Will You Care Tomorrow?

    I’d like to throw a wet blanket of cynicism over our little beach blanket party and ask the following question: Will the Susan Boyle story finally expose American Idol to the general populace as a complete joke?

  • The Dolls in Topher’s Fridge

    the Nerdy Misogynists of Joss Whedon’s World

    Fig.1: You think it’d kill Joss Whedon to cast some pretty people on one of his shows? Just once? February 2009 featured the premiere of new TV series Dollhouse, the latest attempt by sci-fi hotshot and badass feminist Joss Whedon to teach the FOX Broadcasting Company what a “cult fanbase” is. Having once been burned by FOX during the run of his previous series, the critically-lauded but still-underrated Firefly (which had its episodes shown out of order, among other random promotional clusterfucks), Whedon apparently has been convinced that FOX has learned its lesson, and will give his new series about human trafficking and high-concept prostitution a chance to really grow into its own. Good luck with that, Joss. While you’re wishing for things, how about a pony? In all seriousness, though, Dollhouse has started finding its legs with the 6th and 7th episodes (episode 8 of the 13-episode 1st season airs tonight). In brief, the show revolves around a girl named Echo, who has, for reasons becoming slowly revealed to us, voluntarily signed up to become a “doll” for the Dollhouse, a company that provides custom-programmed people who provide services for the super-mega-ultra-wealthy and have their entire personalities wiped clean after every engagement. The dolls hang out in a childlike blank state until they are called to duty, at which point they are imprinted with a customized personality. Need a bodyguard? The perfect date? The Dollhouse has what you need, and it is completely gross. It only takes until the second episode to see Echo sleeping with a client whom she is programmed to think is her boyfriend. Fricking EW. Fig.2: The best outdoorsy Real Girl sex toy money can buy. Note the Marc Singer-ish Beastmaster profile of the douchebag in this photograph. That’s some solid casting. Knowing Whedon’s previous work with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, however, which was a landmark of empowering feminist television, helps lesson the ick factor a tad. It’s pretty clear the Dollhouse is being set up as the Bad Guys of the show, while Agent Ballard, an FBI agent who’s the Jack McGee to Echo’s David Banner, is being established as a protagonist. It’s clear now that the first half of the season has aired that once again, Joss Whedon is hoping to make some fairly radical statements about feminism, personal identity, and individualism. Fig.3: Just good clean fun between super-powered rivals March 2009, meanwhile, marked the 10th anniversary of Women in Refrigerators, a website run by now-comic book writer Gail Simone. Women in Refrigerators is built around a list assembled by Simone and a number of her friends that catalogued the large number of female comic book characters who have been killed, maimed, raped, depowered, or otherwise messed with, often as a plot device to put a male character through some kind of trial. (The name of the site refers to a storyline where the Kyle Rayner Green Lantern comes home to his apartment to discover his girlfriend, Alex DeWitt, killed and stuffed into […]

  • Quiznos and the Free Gay Marketplace

    Fig.1: A Quiznos mascot distributes pro-gay propaganda at Christian music festival Lifest 2008 in Oshkosh, WI When Sean Penn accepted the Best Actor oscar this year for his portrayal of the title character in Milk, he unapologetically turned his acceptance speech into a political statement on the advancing of gay rights and equality (as Sean Penn is wont to do, being a Hollywood actor whose opinions are more important than those of normal mortal humans like you and I): For those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight, I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren’s eyes if they continue that way of support. We’ve got to have equal rights for everyone. Yes, Proposition 8 was a huge blow to the advancing cause of homosexual equality, but as many people more educated than I have noted, the slim margin with which the proposition passed compared to similar initiatives in years past shows that America is moving (albiet at a glacial pace) in a more progressive direction with regard to its stace on homosexuality. (In fact, the fivethirtyeight.com article linked discusses how divided the vote was on a generational basis–young voters overwhelmingly opposed Prop 8 while older voters supported it.) So the passage of Prop 8 was demoralizing for the forces of equality, it is true. But let’s remember, folks–we’re discussing government here, and government and politics move at a glacial pace when it comes to shifts in the cultural landscape (see: the difference between the hoopla over Bill Clinton’s pot use and the “so what?” reaction to Barack Obama’s admission of past drug use, including cocaine). To see where we really are as a culture, perhaps we should take a cue from our fellow Americans over on the right side of the aisle and see what’s happening in the free marketplace. Consumerism! Business! Advertising! The Republicans always say we should take our lead from the world of capitalism, so let’s play by their rules today. So, what’s been going on in the world of advertising lately? How are businesses looking to grab America’s ever-scarcer disposeable income? How does homoerotic fast food grab you, America? Fig.2: Put it in me, Scott…put that foot-plus slab of meaty torpedo goodness in my gaping maw The internet is buzzing over this one. No strangers to ads that, um, fall off the beaten path (remember the Quiznos rat-things?), Quiznos’ fast-food slashfic retelling of the relationship between HAL 9000 and Dave Bowman has all of Blogistan ruminating on the overtly sexual subtext. Of course, queer progress is hard to come by, or even measure. Just yesterday, the governor of Vermont said that he would veto any gay-marriage bill brought to his desk — let’s hope the lame duck is overridden. Yet some of the most optimistic evidence that bigotry is going down can be found not in the courts […]

  • Vamps Vs. Lolvamps

    A Not-At-All Academic Comparision of Let the Right One In and Twilight

    Fig.1: Frodo of the Shire checks out Arwen Evenstar’s Elven tush (I think he’s on a footstool) When it comes to horror, I’ve always been all about the zombies. Until recently, my list of favorite horror movies was probably interchangeable with my list of favorite zombie movies: Dead Alive, Dawn of the Dead (the original, although it pained me to admit that the remake was actually pretty serviceable, despite the aerial shot of “Milwaukee” with all the in-ground pools), and 28 Days Later all take some piece of the zombie mythos and make it special for me, especially Dawn and 28 Days, both of which use zombies as a mirror of humanity in some respect (which is what the best horror and sci-fi movies do). And then of course there’s Shaun of the Dead, which somehow manages to do the same while being hilarious. But in 2008, it was all about vampires. It started with the HBO series True Blood, which I will now summarize for you (because I watched every ridiculously-entertaining-despite-itself episode) in twelve words: Sookie Sookie fuck Sookie, fuck fuck, Jason’s dick, blood tits fuck Sookie. Fig.2: Compare with the Shire photo and tell me which movie you’d rather watch? But the hell with the adult vamps; 2008 was all about immortal bloodsuckers trapped in the bodies of teens and pre-teens. In Sweden, this meant the release of Let the Right One In, a beautifully understated horror drama about the relationship between two painfully lonely 12-year-olds, Oskar and Eli, one of which has been twelve for a long, long time. In America (because 200+ years later, America is still the equivalent of Europe if its mother fed it crack in the womb), this meant the premiere of Twilight, a romantic comedy about a constipated teen vampire named Edward Cullen who falls in love with Bella, the new girl in his chemistry class, simply because she makes him jizz in his pants upon first sight (according to animated gifs on the internet, anyway). Also, vampires take chemistry class, because that’ll come in handy on that college application so you can go to school and WAIT YOU DON’T NEED TO OPERATE IN EVERYDAY SOCIETY BECAUSE YOU’RE A GODDAMN VAMPIRE. It’s probably unfair to compare the two—heck, Twilight author Stephenie Meyer admits she didn’t even know that much about vampire mythology when she wrote the damn thing (then again, all the more reason to take her to task, eh?)—but plenty of reviewers took that path already, lazily mentioning both movies in the same breath even though the age of the principal characters is about all the movies have in common with each other. And heck, since when has Cultural Zero been about fairness? Having already seen Right One multiple times (and yes, I’m aware of the controversy involving the DVD’s subtitles, so everyone can stop sending me links already, Jeebus), some friends and I popped in Twilight last weekend and watched both films back-to-back. As expected, comparing the two was like […]

  • For your consideration

    the Comet (or Fuel, or Palomino, or wherever) “Rockstar Menu”

    Fig.1: Taking Back Sunday. Would you trust these douches to hire a marketing firm to design your lunch? Hola, amigos. How’s it going with you? I know it’s been a long time since I rapped at ya. I’d like to say that I’ve been putting off my first Third Coast Digest blog post because of something important, but I won’t hose you—I’ve been playing way too damn much Lexulous over on Facebook. If the internet is an opiate of masses, Lexulous is heroin—you sit down at your desk, think “all right goddamn it, this time I’m gonna finish that rant about the majesty of broasted chicken that’s sitting on my mac’s desktop,” and suddenly you’re all, “but first, I’m gonna see if I have any Lexulous moves to make” and before you know it you’re unconscious in front of your computer at 7 AM with three games up, a bottle of Jack and a Google search that reads “Meg White COME ON SHOW ME HER NAKED” that yields no results. Anyway. So Saturday night I was at the Denny’s in Waukesha—excuse me, Rockesha–after going to see some Great Lakes Championship Wrestling with some pals (the main event of which featured Scott “50-Year-Old Beer Gut Wrapped in an ICP T-Shirt” Hall and Kevin “Debateably Sexy” Nash of the long-irrelevant nWo vs. The Old Dog Jesse James and the “Dear God you’re in your 40s and you’re wearing pink wrestling trunks with lips on them and an obvious thong, holy shit you’re embarrassing to look at” Billy Gunn, aka 90s WWE tag team The New Age Outlaws. Man, there’s no better Saturday night than one spent watching creepy old drunk dudes pretend to hit each other—am I right, North Side? They called it “the match they didn’t want you to see,” referring to some apparent cease-and-desist order sent by the WWE, but I’m guessing they didn’t want us to see it because they knew it’d be a stinker and they were concerned about our wallets in these troubled economic times). Have you been to a Denny’s lately? I mean, even if it’s just to dine ironically, it’s not a bad thing to slum once in a while, and really, it’s no worse for you than anything at Palomino (although, ok, sure, fewer vegan options for those of you who have forgotten bacon is awesome. Fine). Fig.2: Hall and Nash in happier, thinner, less Juggalo-infused times So I’m paging through the menu and I stop across the “Allnighter Rockstar menu” and I immediately begin laughing. There in front of me for my ordering pleasure are the “Taking Back Burger Fries” “by” Taking Back Sunday, and the “Plain White Shake” “by” Plain White T’s (which at least is appropriate—something vanilla and bland). Apparently I’m not the first one in Blogsylvania who’s WTF’d at this, either: I’m just not sure how to feel about this, and that’s what scares me. Should I feel guilty because it makes me hungry? Is it just biz as usual? […]