Sites to See

The Following Is a Paid Announcement


This one requires commitment. Simply reading through Ridiculous Informercial Review, a blog devoted to sanding barnacles off the ship of commerce, isn’t nearly as enjoyable if you don’t watch the paid programming the site so skillfully lampoons. Site author Paul Lucas isn’t interested in whether or not we actually need a Flowbee, Baby Bullet or Diva Dangler; he’s not so much about the products featured in informercials, but the quality of the infomercials themselves. He rates the acting, the production value and the quality of the informercial’s call to action even going so far to interview the actors appearing in the ads. Bill Beck, an actor who appears in a Magic Bullet to Go informercial (“Mick, Mimi, all this food is amazing!”), offers a rare look behind the magic: “I was actually there as an extra for the day. The casting director is my brother’s sister-in-law. … I wish I had seen the original Magic Bullet infomercial. I would have acted a little more like the iconic cast and not just played it straight.” He adds that he didn’t eat any of the food featured in the Magic Bullet to Go ad, because it had been sprayed with oil “to make it look better on camera.”

Glossy Memories Welcome Matte


We can’t help but hold the past up to the present. It’s how we’re made; our memories “have an odd durability for something not quite real,” to paraphrase Cormac McCarthy. We look at something—a childhood hangout, the front room of our own home—and we see the ghosts of our former selves swimming through the architecture, still playing with our favorite toys or being held closely by loved ones. In its way, Dear Photograph makes those lost moments concrete again by inviting its users to take an old photo, to align it neatly against the place it was snapped, and to take a new photo that binds past and present firmly together. It’s a simple, yet achingly poetic notion, and if you can look through these pages of lost family members, romantic encounters and fading childhoods without thinking of your own photo albums full of trapped moments yearning to be released back into the world, you’re made of stronger stuff than I. It’s one thing to look into the past, but it’s something else to have a window to look through. Dear Photograph is more than a simple Tumblr blog; it’s a public service. It restores durability to our memories.

I Hear Ya Cluckin’, Big Chicken


There’s a sobering truth that all Internet celebrities must eventually face: They will never, ever be as beloved or as well known as the garden variety, I-saw-you-on-the-teevee celebrities. The biggest viral video star is approximately one-tenth as recognizable as Daniel Tosh, who only makes fun of the Internet-famous on basic cable. And for the good of all humanity—but particularly the strand of humanity that can face down someone like a Daniel Tosh and hack away at his smug façade until he wets himself—I say that this is a realization that must continue to escape Jenny Lawson, a.k.a. The Bloggess. By day a Houston Chronicle columnist, Lawson started The Bloggess to have “an uncensored space to say the F-word and talk about ninjas,” and it’s safe to say that she accomplishes that along with a few other things that should get her enshrined in the Internet Hall of Fame we’ll eventually build on the Strip somewhere. She smuggled a taxidermy alligator onto a domestic flight. She got Wil Wheaton to collate her papers (not a metaphor). And she did things, unspeakable things, with a giant metal chicken. She may well be one of the funniest writers on the web, nimble-minded and giddily profane, and we should all of us aspire to be at the receiving end of one of her gut-busting rants. Hell, if she sent me an e-mail that read simply “Whatever, motherfucker,” I’d treasure it always. It’s all in the nuance. The Bloggess has got nuance like nobody’s business.

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Robot Nixons, power violence and cave shows in the desert


Robot Nixons, power violence and cave shows in the desert

By Jarret Keene

Been an unusual week for the lowly Soundscraper. At the very last second, I caught wind of a downtown performance by Denmark’s Thisted Church Choir of Men and Boys on July 1. Apparently her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary sponsored this renowned singing group’s trip to the U.S. for a slate of concerts in California, with but one stop in Nevada—just a few blocks from my house at Christ Church Episcopal. It was awesome, as the set comprised everything from Benjamin Britten’s strange, angular Rejoice in the Lamb to Gabriel Fauré’s moody, ambient Cantique de Jean Racine.