MY BRAVE BATTLE

Welcome to My Brave Battle, the Beatific Blog of Comedian Jared Logan. Here you will find: New jokes / News about all the HOT shows I'm doing / Inside info on what Jared Logan is wearing this season / Shockingly explicit run-downs of my most recent sexual conquests / Recipes / The Funny Thought of the Day!

Oct 17

MICKEY MOUSE: TROUBLING CIPHER

Speaking of Mickey Mouse have you ever noticed that Mickey Mouse has no personality? 

Donald Duck is cranky, Goofy is Goofy and Mickey Mouse is “And me!”

He’s like your friend who is always too nice to take a side on anything because he’s afraid of pissing anyone off.

YOU: “Oh man, Mickey did you read this article about Bring Back Our Girls?”

MICKEY: “Oh, I wouldn’t know about that stuff. Maybe being kidnapped in Nigeria is like being on an adventure! Wanna eat some ice cream?”

Usually if someone is in showbiz but you can’t really figure out their politics it means they’re really far right wing and they’re in the closet about it. Like when Mickey Mouse gets drunk I bet he’s like

"Abortion is murder, plain and simple! There’s an easy alternative to birth control and it’s called quit being a slut. Now who wants a hot fudge sundae?"

I don’t know why but in my head he always wants ice cream.

Final note: Mickey’s arms are always in the air like this in every picture as if to say “Even I don’t know what I’m about! I’m a threatening enigma!”


DRIBBLING OUT OF BOUNDS

I found out recently that Michael Jordan cheated on his wife repeatedly with multiple women.

Can you imagine fucking Michael Jordan? I can’t. That’s like fucking Mickey Mouse or Super Mario.

Like, imagine you’re having sex with him, and his penis is all inside you or maybe your penis is inside him, whatever, and you look over and there’s Michael Jordan. He has his tongue all hanging out like he’s about to do one of his famous Air Jordan slam dunks. Which I guess he is, except into your asshole or pussy or whatever.

You’d be like whoa. I’m sorry. I thought I was having sex with a person but apparently I am having sex with a poster that was in my older brother’s bedroom in 1994.

Michael Jordan is just a thing you associate with childhood. It’s so wrong. It’s like being fucked by a clown.

"You better eat your Wheaties, kids. Wheaties has the vitamins and minerals kids need to grow up big and strong so they can handle a nice hard rogering by NBA great Michael Jordan."


Oct 14

A SWIM IN THE OOL

When I was little, my grandma had a sign over her pool just like this one.

Later, when my parents bought the house from my grandma, my mom took down the sign. My Mom thought it was tacky. We can all agree Mom was right. But Grandma lived nearby and she kept coming over and putting the sign back up.

This is how insane my grandmother was/is. She didn’t find the sign funny in any way. My grandmother doesn’t really have a sense of humor. This sign did not make her chuckle. At most, she might have found it pleasingly clever. My grandma had this sign up as a serious deterrent against pool urination. Her opinion was that if you’re going to have a pool, you’ve got to lay down a couple of rules.

So many levels of crazy. First of all, it was a private pool. She would be on a first name basis, and most likely related to, anyone using the pool. No member of my family had a reputation for flagrant incontinence. Who did she think was going to be swimming in the pool? Was she planning some sort of Let a Homeless Drifter Swim in Your Pool Day?

Assuming some sort of weak-bladdered stranger did get in the pool, how is the sign a deterrent? Some freak is about to download the three diet cokes he had with lunch into our pool and then he sees the sign and goes “Right. People don’t like it when I piss in their pool. Good thing that sign was there. I’ll pee in their garage.”

The sign itself is unbelievably rude. It’s like inviting a bunch of people over for a dinner party, and as you serve the main course, politely reminding them “Would you please mind not vomiting all over the table?”

What fucked up experiences did my grandma have during the Great Depression that made her think this sign was a good idea?

I imagine my grandmother as a young woman, all in black and white, in a hospital in 1932. The somber doctor takes her aside…”Miss Logan, I’m afraid your baby brother Tiny Tim has urine polio. It’s polio that you catch from urine-tainted swimming pool water. If only these damn Hoovertown swimming pools would obey the public health regulations and post an “ool” sign! It’s a fun and healthy way to prevent pool urination!”

Eventually mom just got rid of the sign and grandma couldn’t put it up any more. But she always thought of the house, and the pool, as her own. I guess when you spend your entire life putting everything you earn into a piece of property, your first priority is making sure nobody pees on it.


Oct 7

FAMILY TRIP TO THE MUSEUM

My family was in town last week and I took my parents to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

We went to an exhibition called Assyria to Iberia at the Dawn of the Classical Age. They had ancient artifacts dating from a thousand years before the birth of Christ. Some of them were not in glass cases.

While we were walking through the exhibit, my dad reached out and touched a cuneiform tablet from the reign of Ashurbanipal, dating from around the 8th Century B.C.E.

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He didn’t even hesitate. He just put his hand out and felt it. With force. He could have knocked it over. 

I scream-whispered “DAD! NOOO! NO TOUCH!”

He sheepishly pulled his hand away.

I thought: He better be possessed by an ancient babylonian demon. That’s the only explanation for touching a three thousand year old artifact.

My mom walked up and said “What’s wrong?”

When I told her what Dad did my mom said “Oh, Bill, you can’t do that. They’ll kick us out.” 

Kick us out? They’d do more than kick us out, right? I looked into this…

Casino magnate Steve Wynn destroyed a “priceless” Picasso painting in 2006. He was getting it ready for sale and he accidentally put his elbow through it. I would give anything to see video of that bit of slapstick. I bet it was better than Laurel & Hardy. Wynn owned the painting but it’s estimated that he did roughly 143 million dollars worth of damage.

143 million. That’s for damaging artwork created less than a hundred years ago.

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(La Rêve, or as it is otherwise known “Penis Face”)

Another incident in 2006, a man named Nick Flynn fell down a flight of stairs at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and smashed three 17th Century Chinese vases.

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He was then told that he owed the museum five hundred thousand pounds. Half a million!

In 2010, a woman tripped at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and tore a six inch hole in Picasso’s rose period masterpiece The Actor.

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That painting was valued at $130 million dollars. 

Neither Nick Flynn in Cambridge nor the woman at the Met had to pay, though. It was determined that they had damaged the artworks by accident. If it’s an accident, insurance covers it and you can’t be prosecuted.

Would it be considered an accident that my dad doesn’t know not to touch ancient tablets from biblical times with his hand?

We were really lucky nobody saw him.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art doesn’t have a set admission fee. There is a suggested donation of $20 but you can pay nothing if you want. The day I took my parents, we were only staying an hour, so I paid $10 per person. I could tell that the woman working the admission kiosk thought me gauche for paying less than $20. She copped an attitude. How tacky would she think we were if she saw my dad groping relics? 

If we’d gotten caught, would we have received a bill on our way out the door? Or a note that says “Your REQUIRED donation is one hundred and thirty million dollars”?

They say ‘priceless’ but what they mean is ‘one hundred and thirty million dollars.’


Oct 3

THE END OF THE WORLD

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Christian fundamentalists love to talk about the end of the world. There’s even a new movie in theaters based on the Left Behind novels, and it stars my favorite actor, Nicholas Cage! If you’re not familiar with the series, the Left Behind books are a fictional account of the Rapture. The Rapture is a prophecy in some fundamentalist Christian faiths that Christ will one day, soon, call all of his devout followers “into the air” and those left behind will go through a tribulation period during which the Antichrist will rule over the earth and any new Christians will be decapitated. The Left Behind books and movies turn this Rapture doctrine into a sort of wacky action adventure with lots of danger and thrilling exploits and begging for Christ’s mercy.

There’s no mention of the Rapture in the bible. Here’s the short and long of how it got into fundamentalist doctrine. The book of Revelation in the bible contains all sorts of weird poetic apocrypha. Today, a lot of scholars, and even some Christians, believe Revelation’s ‘prophecies’ may be a coded history of events that occurred in the 1st Century AD, or, at the very latest, the fall of the Roman Empire. But that interpretation didn’t really work for 18th Century Puritans who wanted all parts of the Bible to pull their weight and be of some kind of use to people in their own time. Celebrity preachers like Cotton Mather began to promote a futurist interpretation of Revelation. Revelation wasn’t stuff that already happened. It was stuff that was going to happen. Cut to two centuries later and preachers at my church in West Virginia are getting up at the pulpit and scaring the living shit out young Me.

Seriously, this stuff used to terrify me. Speakers at my church would preach that everyone would one day be forced to wear the Mark of the Beast, and if you didn’t wear the Mark? And you tried to buy bread? They would cut your head off in the middle of the street. I distinctly remember one preacher saying that your head would roll down the street. That’s an odd little grotesque detail that stuck with me.

What is the Mark of the Beast? Other than something that sounds really spooky, nobody really seems to know, since the Bible goes into zero detail about it. A lot of modern Christians interpret it as meaning we will all one day have computer chips in our arms connected to our bank accounts, and used as tracking devices by the government.

I say bring on the beast chip! I’m sick of carrying around a wallet! Give me four of the fuckers. Hell, put my salad card right inside my cerebral cortex so I always know how many stamps away I am from a free salad.

The problem with all of this End of the World pageantry that fundamentalist Christians put on display is that it’s by Christians for Christians. I don’t really believe that fundamentalists think they’re going to save any souls by hiring Nicholas Cage to do a Left Behind movie. The ‘tribulation’ is really a celebration of how all the non-believers are going to have to suffer. The Meek shall inherit the earth, but only after The Arrogant have their heads cut off and bowled down the street.

Apocalyptic prophecies serve the same function all religion serves; to make the devotee feel better about his or herself. Some religious devotions, such as charity or meditation, make you feel better about yourself in ways that promote health and connection with your fellow human beings. The Rapture, on the other hand, is straight up exclusionary religious bigotry based on wishes and magic. The Christians will fly to heaven. The Jews and Muslims and Buddhists and Atheists will stay on earth and weep. If you’re a Christian you’re better than them and you will be rewarded.

It’s why fundamentalist Christianity is so popular among people who are dirt poor. Powerless, destitute, uneducated people want the world to end. They have no future prospects, no hope, no optimism. All they have is a preacher telling them that, someday soon, God will hit the reset button. Why work harder to change the world and your place in it when you can just have faith and wait quietly for Jesus to fuck shit up?

Make no mistake, some shit would get fucked up if Jesus came back. if the Rapture did happen the way that Christians say it will, and a large portion of earth’s population did disappear in the “twinkling of an eye”,  automobiles would spin out of control killing thousands, planes would fall out of the sky, unattended nuclear reactors would explode! Forget the mark of the beast, the scariest thing about the Rapture is the orgy of destruction that immediately follows it.

I can think of no scenario that is more childish in its invention than this apocalypse. Cars and planes crashing, decapitations, Christians flying through the air. It’s like the frenzied crayon drawing of a second grader whose parents are getting a divorce. Instead of waiting for the end of the world, fundamentalists need to grow up.


Oct 2

WHAT I READ

I read some more books. Here are some quick reviews.

THIEF OF TIME

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I’m obsessed with Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. They’re comfort food for nerds. Each one is like a big casserole made up of old Star Trek episodes, Monty Python routines and Swiftian social commentary, with extra English-ness sprinkled on for flavor.

Last time I reviewed one of these books it was Guards! Guards! which is considered a particular classic in Pratchett’s forty volume Discworld canon. I wanted the next one I read to be a lesser-known gem. Fans on various forums seemed divided on Thief of Time so I decided to check it out. 

Part of the genius of Pratchett’s Discworld is supposed to be that you don’t have to read them in order like most door-stop fantasy epics. In theory, they’re all accessible to the new reader. I thought if I’m going to jump to a later book, why not a book about time or time travel or…well, I didn’t know what the book would be about.

I found that it’s not 100% true that you can read the books out of order. The plot of this one was completely comprehensible to me, but it was a sort of loose sequel to some of the earlier books, and I believe there were quite a few references and character cameos that were lost on me. To the book’s credit, these missing bits of information didn’t really take away from my enjoyment of the story.

Pratchett introduces some pretty outré concepts (even for Discworld) in this one. The plot concerns a clockmaker with obsessive compulsive disorder who, aided by a hunchbacked assistant, sets out to make a perfectly accurate clock under the orders of The Auditors, a legion of extra-dimensional beings with no bodies who want to end all life on the Discworld because that would make it tidier and more predictable. The good guys have to intervene to stop the creation of this clock, which would effectively imprison the anthropomorphic embodiment of Time, causing all time to stop on Discworld. Our heroes in this particular book are the adopted daughter of Death himself, and a pair of “history monks,” martial arts masters from a snowy mountain monastery who specialize in fixing temporal errors. Whew, that’s quite a synopsis.

Is it good? If you like this sort of thing, it’s pretty great. It’s not as good as Pratchett’s best, but it’s not bad either. My favorite scenes involved The Auditors, those disembodied avatars of control and oppression. In order to mess in the affairs of men, they’re forced to take on human bodies, which causes their priorities and politics to change in unexpected and hilarious ways. They build a sort of experimental society of their own in the later half of the book and it is shocking and terrible and funny. There’s a point in every one of these Discworld books where the story begins to transcend its goofiness and Pratchett hits on some real genius observation about human nature, skewering it handily. In this one, he does it with the Auditors.

What bad there is in this book is really a collection of nitpicks. The History Monks just aren’t as compulsively lovable as the characters in the Guards series. The plot gets a little loopy as it deals with metaphysical aspects of time. Pratchett is usually very careful to ground his fantasy with hard-and-fast rules that the reader can follow, but here the balloon floats a little out of his grasp. The book contains a variation of a sci-fi/fantasy cliché that I’ve grown to hate, i.e. a character who dissolves into pure energy becoming one with the universe as he/she achieves ultimate enlightenment. At least Pratchett employs this cliché with some degree of levity.

It’s still great writing. Pratchett oozes his prodigious talent onto every page. His was a truly unique imagination. High recommend.

THE SWERVE

The Renaissance is my favorite historical time period. It starts with barbarians and castles and stifling religious orthodoxy and ends with scientists and sailing ships and educated humanism. It’s the story of western civilization losing its way and then finding the path once more, rejecting its subconscious death wish and learning to value life again. Quite a transformation. So many books cover this period and endeavor to explain how this happened and why. The Swerve, as a work of pop history, contributes to this tradition. Author Stephen Greenblatt goes a step farther, shining light on the characters that populate this age. You get to know the people in this story. By embracing their triumphs, faults and fumbles, Greenblatt authors a truly humanist epic.

The Swerve is a nonfiction history of scribes and book copiers in the 15th century. That topic sounds so dry and dusty you might feel like you just bit down on a mouthful of Saltines. It had to be a great challenge to bring out the drama in this story, but Greenblatt does just that, handily. He does it by focusing on character. We meet Poggio Bracciolini, a papal secretary who is left penniless when his Pope is deposed. Poggio’s only hope for the future is following his passion - securing and recopying ancient manuscripts that have been lost to the mists of history. Traveling cross-country into unfamiliar lands, Poggio visits ancient monasteries where the lost treasures of classical literature might have survived. In one such monastery he discovers a copy of Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things. Once this scientific treatise is disseminated by Poggio’s steady hand, it helps to ignite the Renaissance. 

Our hero, Poggio, is a complicated man. He may be a hero to the humanist cause through his discoveries, but he’s also a backstabbing, foul-mouthed writer-for-hire, author of a collection of dirty jokes. Not exactly anyone’s image of refined erudition. At one point in the book we are treated to an anecdote regarding a fistfight in the Vatican where Poggio tries to bite another scribe’s fingers off. A medieval man looking toward the future, if anybody needed a renaissance it was Poggio.

He’s just one of the characters that populate this colorful history. We are introduced to Lucretius and the epicures of antiquity. We meet the type of Romans who would have collected their works and learn what their lives would have been like. We explore the life of a monk living in the 1400s, many of whom became hopelessly depressed after being forced to copy one dusty manuscript after another as an act of penance. We admire the fierce passion of Jan Huss, the heretic who dared to challenge Catholic orthodoxy in the early 15th century. All of these people, some separated by the span of a thousand years, work together to rescue society from darkness and barbarism. Most of them have no idea they are a part of this larger tapestry. Even Poggio cares less about the content of On the Nature of Things than he does about the fame its discovery will bring him. Regardless, all of their lives weave together to midwife the renaissance into existence.

All of these historical personages are flawed, strange, working against enlightened ideals as much as for them. This book is populated with far more sinners than saints, and yet it is their clumsy, grasping humanity, warts and all, that pushes society (and the story of this book) forward.

It’s a great book that answers so many questions about how the modern world was born. It’s readable because it’s a book about people, not abstract concepts, dates and place names. Reading The Swerve you realize that great ideas don’t exist outside of people. You are the thoughts you carry around with you, and a good idea is like a virus. A dusty manuscript can communicate with no one when it’s sitting on a shelf. Divine thoughts need flawed people to shepherd them along and help them multiply. We live in a time where there’s a surplus of ideas and outlets with which to disseminate them. What great notions are locked away (figuratively) in a monastery somewhere, waiting to be let loose? High recommend.

WYRD SISTERS

More Discworld! I told you I’m obsessed. I’ve gushed about Pratchett’s particular talents twice now so I’ll only go into what makes this particular story unique.

Many female readers theorize it would take some sort of magical spell to get a male writer to craft a decent female character. And if you’re talking science fiction fantasy writers? Forget it. Even magic wouldn’t be enough. But in Wyrd Sisters, Pratchett defies expectations yet again. He introduces us to the coven of Granny Weatherwax, Magrat Garlick and Nanny Ogg. The three aforementioned witches find themselves caught up in a plot involving a regicide, traveling players and a lost heir to the throne. It’s Macbeth, via Discworld, from the point of view of the witches. You have so much fun reading it that you almost don’t notice that this book is acing the Bechdel test over and over and over.

What’s the Bechdel test?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bechdel_test

In short, it’s any work of fiction where two female characters talk to each other about something other than a man for a significant length of time. Wyrd Sisters has three female characters doing just that in almost every scene in the book. The Wyrd Sisters talk politics, destiny, magical theory, ecology, demonology, hygiene and more. Their interactions are effortless and authentic. Pratchett created three interesting people, put them in a room, and just let them talk. The three witches are so funny together you almost get annoyed when the plot intrudes. This isn’t just a book about women. It’s a book about women being funny. And saving a kingdom. And all of it is carried off very matter-of-factly with no undue emphasis on the fact that they are women and isn’t it surprising that this is a book where women save the world?

This is a leap forward from the first book he wrote featuring Granny Weatherwax, 1987’s Equal Rites.  That story dealt directly with issues of gender equality. In Equal Rites, the gender of the characters was so central that it sometimes got in the way. In Wyrd Sisters, the question of whether women can be heroes is assumed to be already answered and it’s onward and upwards to more interesting topics.

Wyrd Sisters is not a perfectly feminist book. It’s an accidentally feminist book. The plot does involve romance between one of the witches and a man and there is some discussion of that. And the plot hinges on the inheritance of a kingdom through the male hereditary line. But the trick of the book is that while the male characters are clueless, uncertain or afraid, the three witches take the reigns and steer the Discworld to bluer skies. It’s a spell I’m not sure a lot of male writers could pull off.

All of that and the plot is pretty good too. This is where I’d start with the Discworld books that feature the witches. High recommend.

A TALE OF TWO CITIES

A Tale of Two Cities is the definition of a ‘classic.’ It’s a time-honored novel that’s sold well over two hundred million copies. It’s one of the most famous works of literature in history, which is why I feel a little silly when I say: I didn’t like it.

I’m a fan of 19th century literature and I usually love the novels of Charles Dickens. I’m told (by the Penguin Classics introduction) that this is the book that breaks most of the Dickens’ conventions, an atypical example of his work. Maybe that’s why it didn’t hold the same charm for me that his other stories did. Or maybe I just knew too much going in.

I remember watching the film version of A Tale of Two Cities when I was in a middle school english class. We weren’t reading it at the time so I have no idea why we watched the film. I have a lot of memories of my public school education that make me scratch my head and shrug. But I digress. 

I watched the film over twenty years ago. I couldn’t tell you who acted in it or even the basic plot. I only had a memory of the final scene. If you’re at all familiar with A Tale of Two Cities, you know it has a sort of shock twist ending. This ending scene stayed with me until I read the book a month ago. That was when I was surprised to discover that knowing the ending of a story can ruin it.

If I hadn’t picked up the ending from that movie I would have picked it up from the episode of Cheers I remember watching where Frasier reads the novel to the whole barroom gang. Or I would have picked it up through osmosis somewhere else. A Tale of Two Cities is just one of those stories that is out there in the culture, referenced and acknowledged in a million other products of pop culture. The ending of A Tale of Two Cities is a classic ending…because everyone knows how it ends.

The problem is that this novel is well-constructed. By that I mean that every scene, (and we’re talking every. single. scene.) leads inevitably to this shocking ending. It’s foreshadowed within the first fifty pages of the book. The whole book is just a ride to get to that scene. That’s usually characteristic of a great plot structure, but I found myself in the same boat as when I read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. If you go into that book knowing that Jekyll and Hyde are the same person, the story is worthless because the plot hinges on the mystery of how the two men are connected.

A Tale of Two Cities isn’t quite worthless if you know the ending, but it feels like the air has been let out of it. It has some of that charming Dickensian humor, some really genius imagery and the prose is pleasing, the pinnacle of what 19th Century British prose aspired to be.

That said, nothing much happens until the last third of the book. The first two hundred pages are preamble. It’s a myth that Charles Dickens was paid by the word. He was actually paid per installment, since his novels were released as serials. In either case, you get the feeling he may have padded this one a little bit. Maybe he was buying a new house? And, as I explained above, if you know the ending, the entire novel is a wash.

Happy I can check this one off my list, but next time I endeavor to read Dickens I’m going for one that I couldn’t possibly know anything about, like Little Dorit or Barnaby Rudge or something…

OK! Back with more books later!


Oct 1

Sep 26
jonahray:

Q: So, you want to start a record label?
A: YES, because I hate my money and want to do something that’ll be fun. 
In 2007, my friends Ryan McManemin and Matt “sasquatch” Belknap started a comedy record label. Jen Kirkman and I were the first two releases. I had only been doing comedy for a handful of years and wasn’t anywhere close to thinking I was allowed to put out any sort of “comedy album” (although Jen’s “Self Help” is a classic and needed to be released). But, having been a part of Scott Aukerman and BJ Porters “Mbar/Comedy Death Ray” scene I had become friends with Ryan, as we were both punk rock kids that were now at comedy shows all the time. I had always thought it would be neat to treat my comedy as if it were a band. By making buttons, stickers, and of course, putting out a 7” record. The 7” record is usually a punk/indie bands first release, and I never got to a point with any of my bands to do it. So, when Ryan asked me if I was interested in doing exactly that, I couldn’t say no.
Patton Oswalt, who I describe as the current comedy scene’s combined Fugazi/Sonic Youth/Black Flag (not only that he helped pave a way, but paved it with the added intent on helping those around him), brought up the notion that people will start to follow comics like they follow musicians. In the way that you’ll get a bands early single, and then see them develop and become better musicians/songwriters. He even, with Chunklet’s Henry Owings, put out a split with The Melvins. 
So if that then what? Well, I was tired of saying “Somebody should…” or “Wouldn’t it be cool if…”
So, with AST RECORDS I am now starting my own imprint label:
                     LITERALLY FIGURATIVE RECORDS
I am gonna put out the stuff I like in the hopes that other people will too. Also, to maybe shed some light on some comics and bands that I really dig that people may not know about. This is a comedy label, this is a music label, this is probably some weird vanity project. Fuck it, though. 
What’s in store for releases? 
-Vinyl of NICK YOUSSEF’S DEBUT ALBUM “STOP NOT OWNING THIS”
-THE DEBUT 7” RECORD OF ONE OF MY FAVORITE NEW LA COMEDIANS “PAIGE WELDON”
-The first LP from the legendary MATT DWYER
And this is the fun one, a split 7” series with a comic on one side and band they are friends with on the other called:
THE MUTUAL APPRECIATION SOCIETY!
Releases in this continuing series to include…
Sean O’connor / Upset
Matt Mira / Jenny Owen Youngs
Alex Hooper / FARTBARF
Wil Wheaton / Nerf Herder
Kyle Clark / Chris Ferren (from Fake Problems)
Jonah Ray (that’s me!) / Mikal Cronin
Powerviolence / Powerviolence
Rhea Butcher / G.S. Schray
And more as we go a long, but l don’t want to get too ahead of myself.
All this will be done under the guidance of Ryan and Matt from AST RECORDS as well as be distributed by them. 
I don’t know if this will be good, I DO know that it will be fun.

jonahray:

Q: So, you want to start a record label?

A: YES, because I hate my money and want to do something that’ll be fun. 

In 2007, my friends Ryan McManemin and Matt “sasquatch” Belknap started a comedy record label. Jen Kirkman and I were the first two releases. I had only been doing comedy for a handful of years and wasn’t anywhere close to thinking I was allowed to put out any sort of “comedy album” (although Jen’s “Self Help” is a classic and needed to be released). But, having been a part of Scott Aukerman and BJ Porters “Mbar/Comedy Death Ray” scene I had become friends with Ryan, as we were both punk rock kids that were now at comedy shows all the time. I had always thought it would be neat to treat my comedy as if it were a band. By making buttons, stickers, and of course, putting out a 7” record. The 7” record is usually a punk/indie bands first release, and I never got to a point with any of my bands to do it. So, when Ryan asked me if I was interested in doing exactly that, I couldn’t say no.

Patton Oswalt, who I describe as the current comedy scene’s combined Fugazi/Sonic Youth/Black Flag (not only that he helped pave a way, but paved it with the added intent on helping those around him), brought up the notion that people will start to follow comics like they follow musicians. In the way that you’ll get a bands early single, and then see them develop and become better musicians/songwriters. He even, with Chunklet’s Henry Owings, put out a split with The Melvins. 

So if that then what? Well, I was tired of saying “Somebody should…” or “Wouldn’t it be cool if…”

So, with AST RECORDS I am now starting my own imprint label:

                     LITERALLY FIGURATIVE RECORDS

I am gonna put out the stuff I like in the hopes that other people will too. Also, to maybe shed some light on some comics and bands that I really dig that people may not know about. This is a comedy label, this is a music label, this is probably some weird vanity project. Fuck it, though. 

What’s in store for releases? 

  • -Vinyl of NICK YOUSSEF’S DEBUT ALBUM “STOP NOT OWNING THIS”
  • -THE DEBUT 7” RECORD OF ONE OF MY FAVORITE NEW LA COMEDIANS “PAIGE WELDON”
  • -The first LP from the legendary MATT DWYER

And this is the fun one, a split 7” series with a comic on one side and band they are friends with on the other called:

THE MUTUAL APPRECIATION SOCIETY!

Releases in this continuing series to include…

  • Sean O’connor / Upset
  • Matt Mira / Jenny Owen Youngs
  • Alex Hooper / FARTBARF
  • Wil Wheaton / Nerf Herder
  • Kyle Clark / Chris Ferren (from Fake Problems)
  • Jonah Ray (that’s me!) / Mikal Cronin
  • Powerviolence / Powerviolence
  • Rhea Butcher / G.S. Schray

And more as we go a long, but l don’t want to get too ahead of myself.

All this will be done under the guidance of Ryan and Matt from AST RECORDS as well as be distributed by them. 

I don’t know if this will be good, I DO know that it will be fun.


YOUTH FLIGHT

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People in West Virginia, my beloved home state, are dying more than they’re being born!

http://www.businessinsider.com/census-natural-decrease-maine-virginia-2014-3

The young people are leaving in droves!

http://wvpublic.org/post/how-can-west-virginia-keep-young-people-moving-away

Soon, one in four West Virginians will be sixty-five years or older. Think about the line at the pharmacy. One in four people in that line take fifteen minutes to complete their transaction because they’re arguing with the cashier over a coupon.

And the economy there is bad too, so all of these old people are still in the workforce at sixty-five. Every time you go in a Burger King, the woman working the register is seventy years old. For some reason she always has a new computer register that she can’t understand. She pokes at it like it’s a snake that might bite her, occasionally looking up to shake her head and sigh. It’s no wonder she can’t work an iPhone style interface. She still has a rotary phone at home.

Do you understand what this means? The old folks are now going to be on both sides of the cash register. Businesses will slow down so completely that time itself will stop. It will be as if everyone in the entire state has been turned to stone, but they’re actually all waiting in line at the CVS. 

Traffic will slow to a crawl. All the parking spaces will be filled with huge Cadillacs. The sidewalks, too, will be bumper-to-bumper with overweight seniors riding Rascals and people pushing walkers. There will be no forward movement anywhere. By 9pm, every night, the entire state will be dark, inert, fast asleep.

One in four people in the state will believe in demons and have fond memories of segregation.

More young people leave the state every year. They have to go elsewhere for jobs, sure, but you figure they also want to get away from all the old people. After you’ve had your one hundred and eightieth conversation about twenty people you don’t know who are dying from twelve diseases you’ve never heard of you’re probably like “Fuck this. I’m moving.” The young ones probably don’t even wait until they’re of age. Thirteen year olds are like “I’m better off on my own” hitchhiking rides in white vans on their way out of town.

How do we solve the problem and prevent geriatric singularity? Easy, just create more jobs for young people in West Virginia. We all know how easy it is to create jobs. Every politician knows how to create jobs, especially when he is running for office. Just because their plans haven’t worked up till now doesn’t mean we should assume their plans won’t work in the future. West Virginia has only had this economy problem since the 1950s when the coal industry started to go belly up. Maybe we just need sixty more years to work on solving it.

In the meantime, we should have a back-up plan. If we can’t create jobs, there are other ways to lure young people into the state. West Virginia could legalize marijuana and create state subsidies to open head shops and stores that just sell posters. Or stores that sell, like, anime crap.

Maybe West Virginia’s state schools could start accepting anyone. Like even people that score a “barely sentient” on their SATs. We could open a new type of university that doesn’t require a high school diploma. The only regulation barring admission would be that you have to be young. We don’t accept those annoying going-to-college-late-in-life students who take copious notes as if their kids’ lives depended on it.

We could pay Lorde to live in West Virginia and give a free concert once a month, and then change our nickname to The Lorde State and change the motto from “Mountaineers are Always Free” to “Lorde is Always Free.” Which would be true because the concerts would be free.

Or maybe the youth flight problem is actually a solution in and of itself. Scientists and sociologists who warn us about overpopulation should study West Virginia and find out what we’re doing right. Once the resources dry up everywhere, we’ll finally have a handle on this overpopulation thing, and West Virginia can be a good micro-model for how the human race might spend its twilight years. Death (even of an entire planet) doesn’t have to be scary if you plan for it.

As John Denver famously sang:

"Almost Heaven, West Virginia"

Almost because you are almost dead.

"Life is old here, older than the trees"

Yes it is! And it’s just getting older.


Sep 25

WHAT I WATCHED: HANNIBAL

The Fall television season has started so now would probably be a good time to look back on all the stuff I’ve been watching over the summer.

HANNIBAL

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My girlfriend and I gorged ourselves on the first two seasons of Hannibal. This is the single bloodiest television show I have ever seen. It’s way more gory and disgusting than a lot of movies I’ve watched, and I’m a horror junkie. It’s ironic that my better half usually refuses to watch anything in the horror genre, but she’ll watch this because she considers it “a thriller.” What’s the difference? I guess horror contains elements of the supernatural and a thriller does not? But then Hannibal is still horror by that definition, because it is not only the most graphically gruesome show I’ve ever seen, it’s also unbelievably unbelievable.

The show stars Hugh Dancy as FBI profiler Will Graham. Incidentally, Hugh Dancy is married to Clare Danes from Homeland and both of them make super strange faces when they cry. So I guess they’re made for each other? Will Graham is teamed up with Dr. Hannibal Lecter, portrayed by Danish actor Mads Mikkelson. Mikkelson either has a very Danish face or a very serial killer face. I can’t decide. Those lips definitely look like they’re made for eating human spleen. Laurence Fishburne is Jack Crawford, the African American authority figure that is an integral part of every cop show. His Behavioral Sciences Unit is in charge of capturing serial killers. BUT! AND HERE’S THE RUB/HIGH CONCEPT! Hannibal Lecter is a serial killer and he’s on the team! How could a bunch of highly trained FBI agents miss that one of their consultants is a serial killer? I don’t know. How did they get NBC to greenlight a show where a man eats his own nose in one episode? 

The episode-to-episode plot points are laughably ludicrous. Within the first season, this team captures at least eight of the most creative and effective serial killers in the history of the world, and they catch them within about a one hundred mile radius of Baltimore. There’s a killer who turns his victims into angels, hanging them from ceilings and cutting their back muscles to resemble wings. He’d need to be a master of theatrical stage craft with a team of twenty union guys to pull off the dioramas he stages, but we’re told he did it all on his own. There’s a killer who cuts open the throats of his victims to expose the vocal chords, which he then plays like a violin. There’s a killer who turns his victims into totem poles - he stacks them at the seashore. There’s a killer who builds a weaponized suit out of prehistorical animal bones. I’m not kidding. All of these killers have body counts that dwarf the most prolific serial murderers in history. If all of this was really going on in the Baltimore area, the government would have the region on military lockdown and be doing tests on the water. These crimes aren’t just gruesome, they’re phantasmagorical. They’re magical. They’re impossible.

And that’s to say nothing of Hannibal, the most supernaturally gifted killer of them all. Hannibal helps the FBI while carrying out murders on the side in his spare time. He never gets caught. Maybe it’s because he’s a very talented psychiatrist who can easily manipulate people into distrusting and acting against one another. We learn that a lot of his victims are patients that he’s goaded into violent behavior so that investigators can’t trace the pattern back to him. He’s also a monumentally talented chef. Like, a world-class professional level chef. Every episode is wall-to-wall food porn as Hannibal concocts some baroque recipe from the annals of world cuisine, adding a few touches of his own (ahem, human organs). But let’s not forget Hannibal can also draw photorealistic drawings. And that he can also compose music. Or that he has SMELL POWERS. In one episode, Hannibal smells a dead body that was found in a creek and can tell that the person had been in a cornfield. In another episode, Hannibal is making out with a woman and can tell she’s been firing a gun in the last 24 hours. Hannibal is the very definition of supernatural.

Why watch the show if it’s so ludicrous? I don’t know. It’s kind of good. The performances are all so well drawn and realistic that you forget that the plot is bizarrely implausible. The filmmaking here is a step above anything I’ve seen on TV in a while. The show is gorgeous. It’s just fun to look at. And even though the show never really makes a comment on whether Hannibal takes place in reality, or in a slightly skewed version of reality, there is a heavy emphasis on dream and metaphor. Hannibal hits you over the head with the metaphors. It frankly bludgeons you to death with them. But it’s so shameless in its presentation of hallucinatory wonder that you shrug and go along with it. “Wow, that was fucked up” you say to yourself, “What’s next?” Besides, with Mads Mikkelson on the screen mumbling away, you sometimes think you’re watching a Danish show and you chalk it all up to Danish people being weird. Is this a bad TV show? A Good TV show? I don’t know. It’s TV I want to watch.


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