Chicago Pop Culture Theatre

Lady Laday

I’m posting this here on my site as I think you should check it out. On Friday I got the opportunity to help die in the making of a short film. Without further BS:

A contest entry submitted by the fine folks of to be in the DVD release of Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog.


Pop Culture

Sad Day for Yankee Fans

Joe Torre is gone.

Some of the band-wagon fans will look at Torre and point the blame for the Yankees’ failures in recent years. But what they fail to remember is that in 12 years, Joe brought us to the postseason 12 times.

Before Joe, the Yankees hadn’t won the series since 1978 or even been there since 1982. The problem is in perception. Joe is the best manager in the game today; I firmly believe this.

Joe Torre is not the problem with the Yankees. The Yankees organization is the problem with the Yankees.

I recognize I am bitter right now about this, but I know in my gut this is the wrong move. Ultimately though, I’m glad it was Joe’s decision. My co-worker Frank said to me the other day that although he hates the Yankees, he loves Joe Torre. Joe is really the best, and he’s an all-around class act, Frank said it well: He deserves to work for an organization that appreciates him.

I will be a Yankee fan for life, but today is a sad day. And one where I am at odds with the team I love so much.

Good luck Joe. Go win another ring.

Pop Culture

“Stop! Take some time to think…

…figure out what’s important to you.”

Those words are from the chorus of a track entitled ‘Stop’ from Floridian rock group Against Me!’s latest release ‘New Wave.’ The album and this line are significant because it’s not just the group’s newest; it’s their first on a “major label.” A big step for a band that is known for being outspoken against the government, big corporations, and the music industry. Although ‘New Wave’ has received praise from industry critics, the major label signing has caused Against Me! to be the target of an intense amount of scrutiny from the scene it arose from and it’s one-time “fans.”

Akiva Gottlieb of the Nation, in an excellently composed and structured piece, delves into the band’s recent struggles. However, the writer’s opinion of the group and it’s front-man, Tom Gabel, show through quite clearly. With lines like “If you can’t stop a war, you might as well make money, right?” peppered throughout, it steers far from objectivity. Even flirting with becoming an attack piece itself near the end, as if the writer herself were personally offended by the band’s actions. Although she took the time to interview Gabel himself and include quotes from him, they are not without snide remarks about his recent arrest or criticism. She reinforces her ideas with a quote from another critic of the band’s actions, Mike Conklin of The L Magazine:

“when you say the same things over and over again, as loudly as [Gabel] did, into a microphone no less, to countless impressionable teenagers, you’ve effectively lost your right to just decide one day that you didn’t mean any of it.”

Against Me!’s position is that they are misunderstood, and the whole ‘sellout’ movement against them is a ridiculous waste of time and a case of hugely missing the point of their music. They push on, and ‘New Wave’ is as harsh as ever on the industry with songs like ‘Up the Cuts’ and its title track. However, many ex-fans critics feel differently. Some have even gone as far as to book protest shows against them, and others have published guides to subverting the band’s concerts. The justification is often lacking, however, just coming down to this whiney chorus from the peanut gallery of ‘They signed to a major label! How can they be critical! Hypocrites! Sellouts!” Ms. Gottlieb’s article, for instance, hinges on one sentence that the writer uses to justify much of her perspective on the band:

“Maybe the band’s subsequent jump to Sire Records–itself a subsidiary of Warner Bros., and thus a part of Time-Warner, the world’s largest media conglomerate–doesn’t pack the same epochal punch as Bob Dylan going electric, but the results again seem to justify the decision.”

However, it would seem this crucial line is horribly factually inaccurate.

Yes, Sire is, in fact, a subsidiary of Warner Music Group, however, despite the name, they are not a part of Time Warner. WMG was sold off by Time Warner in late 2003 to an independent group of investors and is now entirely independently owned and operated. These days, despite its ‘major label’ status, WMG targets its business much differently than it had in its past. In recent years WMG has focused on signing a lot of the more prominent independent punk bands to get into more niche markets with less focus on the mainstream. Groups like Rancid and Less Than Jake have found homes where they previously wouldn’t have been considered “commercially viable.” Warner these days has become, apparently, a welcoming home to bands who want major label distribution and production without having to sacrifice their creative vision and values.

I think this often goes unknown or misunderstood by a lot of Against Me!’s fans, and I imagine it played a significant factor in a lot of bands decisions to sign to WMG labels.

The whole thing goes back to the age-old ‘What makes someone a sellout?’ argument that any of us might have written about in our high school journalism classes. Unfortunately, as trivial as that argument is, it still doesn’t have a clear answer. Personally, I tend to believe that the claims against Against Me! remain mostly unfounded and short-sighted. I feel like it’s one more case of closed-minded people who claim to be open. An unfortunate side effect often bred in punk culture. People who claim a “counter-culture,” but ultimately have a problem with anyone making a living selling their art or wanting to disrupt something other than a local basement show.

While I see some values in the criticism, I think it’s unwarranted in this case. Certainly, there is a moral difference between signing to a huge independent label that only makes music, and signing to a global conglomerate media, or electronics, company that makes bombs for the government.

So in Against Me!’s own words:

“All the punks still singing the same song.
Is there anyone thinking what I am?
Is there any other alternative?

Are you restless like me?”

Sadly, I think “the punks” are missing the point.

Chicago Design General Pop Culture Technology

Planting the ‘Seed’

Roman Coppola

Keeping in my ‘seeking out inspiration’ kick, I just registered for the ‘Seed’ conference with Jason Fried, Jim Coudal, and Carlos Segura on October 29th.

I’m looking forward to it; I hope to learn a lot. I’m also really enjoying networking as of late. I’ve been astounded by the people I’ve been meeting lately, and it started with An Event Apart.

Coming out here to Chicago has been a huge opportunity for me. There is always something new and inspiring going on that fascinates me. So many opportunities to learn.

Last week I was lucky enough to attend a screening of Wes Anderson’s Hotel Chevalier at the Apple Store. The screening was hosted by producer Roman Coppola. Afterward, Roman stuck around for Q&A. The crowd was excellent, and his rapport with them was phenomenal.

While filmmaking is not my field of choice, listening to Roman was very inspiring. He spoke about starting a project, from research to making compromises to achieve a vision. I’m really looking forward to ‘The Darjeeling Limited.’

It’s weird, but I spent years in New York, the “cultural center of the world,” and somehow, I missed opportunities like this. I think I’m just more in tune with the world around me today.

It’s exciting.

Pop Culture

Watchmen ARG? Uncovering The Veidt Method

Warren Ellis posted a link in his blog today to a site advertising ‘The Veidt Method’ by Adrian Veidt. Adrian Veidt is a fictional character from Alan Moore‘s cult classic graphic novel ‘Watchmen‘ which, after years of false starts, is in the process of being turned into a movie directed by Zack Snyder (300, Dawn of The Dead). The film has all the makings of a hit, even so, I’m sure of course Moore will have nothing to do with it. The man is historic for having his works bastardized for film and removing his name from them.

The site in question, Mr. Ellis, speculates that it may be tied to the movie release as viral marketing ARG (Alternate Reality Game, ala ‘The Hanso Foundation’ and the TV show Lost). If he’s right, it leaves much to be desired. Sure, the site makes mention of ‘Nova Express,’ a fictional magazine from the Watchmen story, and hawks the character’s ‘life-changing methods’; however, the links are nonfunctional, and even the mailing list box doesn’t work, it instead is a mailto link to ‘’ The site design is weak at best; I would imagine if Warner Brothers were to be getting into the viral game, they’d put a little more effort into it. A quick look at the HTML code reveals the site to be based on a free template design credited to a ‘Joseph De Araujo.’ Lame.

Putting those things aside, the site still doesn’t make sense. For one, the Watchmen storyline takes place in an alternate reality, cold war era, 1985, a detail which is reportedly being retained for the movie. If that’s the case, a viral web ad campaign or ARG would be out of place. Especially seeing as how it’s not 1985 and the World Wide Web didn’t exist in it’s current form back then either.

The telltale, however, is this: on the bottom left of the page there is a login link that brings up the following:


Real ARGs are never this sloppy. Suddenly it all makes a lot more sense. Looking a little harder one finds that the site is actually hosted at a Lord of the Rings fansite. Turns out, this isn’t their first attempt either, they’ve also been publishing a blogger website entitled ‘Rorschach’s journal.‘ Some believe the guys at ‘The One Ring’ have been lobbying to try and get some deal with Warner Brothers to do viral marketing for the movie. My best guess is they hope to make another unofficial hub like possibly based around Moore’s works or something. Since Lord of the Ring’s success they’ve sort of made a business out of movie fan sites apparently.

Conclusion: It’s nothing but a bunch of geeks having some unofficial web fun and a let-down for us other geeks looking for something fun to dig through while we get hyped up looking forward to the movie.

To date, the only official Watchmen teaser info can be found here. Go back to sleep Watchmen fans.