The Dinglehopper

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Kanye | Kubrick: A Video Mash-Up Comparison

Kanye West, surprising no one, exhibited the size of his ego once again when he ranted on SNL that he was more influential than many artists, including Stanley Kubrick, whom he has also said has influenced him. As far as current artistry goes, he’s probably not wrong, but if we’re looking more historically, Kanye should probably wait to take the tally of influence.

His rant, however, offered inspiration to one of my favorite video essayists, Nelson Carvajal, who has edited together both Kanye and Kubrick to deliberately explore their relationship. However, Carvajal leaves any evaluation of what that relationship is up to the viewer. For my money, it largely seems to come down to self-importance and the objectification of the female body.

Warning, this video is NSFW.

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Wisecrack Illuminates The Brilliance of ‘Thriller’

wisecrackthrillerI love that Wisecrack is spreading their insight and humor to new areas. This week the team, fronted by Greg aka Sparky Sweets, PhD from Thug Notes, digs into the layers of awesome that makes #1 album of all time, Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

The examination celebrates the progressive intermixing of race and music genre via guest artists and images from music videos, delves into the music history that Jackson appropriates and advances, and discusses the innovations for narrative music videos in the much loved and mimicked “Thriller” video.

As a bonus, it illuminates the postmodern brilliance of Jackson’s best-selling album, a genre/style mishmash full of intertextual call outs.

My hope is that Wisecrack will continue to use their mad skills on music as well as literature, film, and philosophy.

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Comic Review: The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 1: The Faust Act TPB

TheWickedAndDivine_vol1-1I Faust first became aware of The Wicked + The Divine when I heard that Milkfed Criminal Masterminds, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction, would be adapting it for television. Already loving much of what they were involved with, the mere mention piqued my interest. It was just a matter of time before I’d get my hands on a copy.

The Wicked + The Divine, or WicDiv, as fans with a more hurried attitude call it, is a comic series written by Kieron Gillen and illustrated by Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson. It has a high fantasy concept which I struggled for at least two days to describe to Michael. I’ll let Image give you their summary first:

Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critical tongue-attractors like Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to create a world where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever. Collects THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #1-5

I believe I came up with: It’s like Sandman meets The Vampire Lestat as the Wu-Tang Clan.

The Pantheon, as they’re called, is a group of pop stars, loosely connected through their stage identities of gods. The world mostly sees their god-complexes as stage theatrics and ego, but in reality these are normal humans who discovered they were the incarnate of a deity, given fame and superpowers, but also a lifespan of a mere two years. The deities are drawn from different religions and represent god-types more than any one mythology. Among the twelve: Lucifer, of course, Amaterasu, Baal, Morrigan, Baphomet, and Woden.


The story starts at an Amaterasu concert, attended by superfan Laura. Laura gets invited backstage by Lucifer to find Amaterasu being interviewed by skeptical, and aptly named, journalist Cassandra. Assassins attack during the interview, but Lucifer kills them with a snap of her fingers (yes, her). This act puts Lucifer on the outs with the rest of the Pantheon, who don’t want to turn humanity against them with shows of powers that cannot be explained away as mere special effects.

Laura is our in to this world. She’s a college student obsessed with the Pantheon. She’s placing herself in the position of groupie to be close to the members and finds herself positioned to be helpful to Lucifer. Laura has aspirations. Lucifer is confident, but she knows that after stepping so forcefully into the wrong kind of spotlight, she’s going to be in trouble. Laura, and us through her, gets to witness the spectacle.


Everything in this book centers on glamour: the glamour of gods and idols, fame, fandom, illusion, and power. The artwork supports and intensifies this with a smooth line and colorful palate. McKelvie and Wilson beautifully depict these characters, occasionally giving a likeness just close enough to be reminiscent of a particular pop star. Lucifer has an Annie Lennox look circa “Sweet Dreams” while Baal made me think of Kanye or Jay-Z, roughly.

Much of the fun of reading WicDiv is witnessing the “performances” of the gods and how they clash against each other. The ending offered a twist that definitely has me looking forward to volume 2.

Kieron Gillen beat me to the punch in pairing music with the book. Here’s the Spotify playlist for The Wicked + The Divine.

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The Hunger Games: Rhythm District 13

joshhutchersoncomicconSo apparently Josh Hutcherson–The Hunger Games‘ Peeta–suggested recently that there would be more Hunger Games films. He quickly backtracked after co-star Jennifer Lawrence’s wide-eyed reaction reminded him of that pesky non-disclosure form they all signed. But now fans are wondering what will follow the events of books within the film franchise.

An option I’ve been tossing around in my own head found inspiration from the most recent viral marketing video: “A Message from District 13–Stand With Us.”

Hey, that drill line choreography, stark, monochromatic color scheme, and military-esque costumes reminds me of something…

Here’s my idea: Let’s take this similarity all the way. Let’s get some good ol’ musical military film-making with Janet Jackson behind the scenes. Perhaps after the Capital falls, the new nation will want to make some propaganda telling the story of the war. Taking a note from the glamour and showmanship of the Capital, they make it a musical with epic song and dance numbers. I just can’t see where this could go wrong. Lionsgate, have your people call me.

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Make-up Mash-up: ‘Newsies’ Does “Uptown Funk”

newsies baleNewsies: the perfect film for 9th grade me. I was young, idealistic, totally getting into musicals, already devoted to Disney, and absolutely enamored with teen boys in newsboy caps. Who knew adorable Christian Bale would go on to participate in The Dark Knight Rises, the cinematic ruination of both Christopher Nolan and Batman for me?

But perhaps in some plea for forgiveness, Bale has sent me this mash-up through the interwebs: “I was once cute and loveable. Pair me with a poppy song and I still can be!” His PR people on a viral campaign.

It’s a start, Christian. It’s a start. You really are adorable when dancing to ironically anachronistic songs.

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Comic Review: ‘Kid Code: Channel Zero’

kidcode1Okay, so I’m a middle-aged white woman. My relationship to hip-hop music and culture is, um, weak. I picked up Kid Code: Channel Zero out of curiosity, mainly, and to stretch my reading tendencies. The popping color and style of the art sealed the deal.

By Damian Duffy, Illustrated by John Jennings, Illustrated by Stacey Robinson

Kid Code is the first in what promises to be a long line of Black Kirby/Tan Lee productions. Kid Code: Channel Zero is a rollicking, cosmic, time-traveling adventure, fusing classic hip-hop culture and outlandish sci-fi fantasy in this alternate universe to create the ultimate mash-up. Everything’s a remix! And Kid Code and his comrades must fight against The Power, who eons ago sampled the first sounds made from the God MC and created the Dark Mix (a version of the universe that was never intended). Now there’s a race against and for time throughout the universe to assemble The Everlasting Cosmic Mixtape–nine tracks that can re-assemble the God Sample and help set things back on course.

Read the first eight pages as a sample pdf here.

Kid Code is an indie comic that retools the classic superhero good vs. evil conflict through the music and culture of hip-hop. The story starts with a remix of Genesis–this is the cosmological background for the God MC’s uni-verse, the story of the first freestyle. The uni-verse is corrupted by The Ultimate Hater, and now Knights of the Infinite Digging are tracking him (now known as The Power) down.

I can’t even begin to extrapolate the many layers of allusions embedded in the comic. There are geek-tastic comic book references, like the mock author names of Black Kirby and Tan Lee. Pop culture references to Doctor Who and Bride of Frankenstein. There are theological references like using the structure of Genesis or re-defining Akashic records. In fact, the cosmological references span many different cultures. There are even literary references to the likes of T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” Then there’s the hip-hop allusions. I’m sure I only caught a small percentage, like that protagonist Kid Code sports the high-top fade of Kid from Kid ‘n’ Play or that lyrics are used in dialogue–I noticed “samples” from Snap’s “The Power”, “The Humpty Dance,” and Run-DMC’s “It’s Tricky.” In fact, in the same way that Kid Code is attempting to gather up lost shards of corrupted rhymes to rebuild The Everlasting Cosmic Mixtape, the audience might do a similar thing of identifying and gathering up songs that are being mixed into the narrative. Are there nine of these peppering the 40 pages of the book? I’m not educated enough in hip-hop to know. But I think the idea of structuring the comic to be built of sampled hip-hop songs is brilliant.

So the comic is incredibly smart, but it’s also a great deal of fun. It’s witty, sassy, and having a grand time adapting comic tropes to a hip-hop format. For instance, The Power is a classic villain, but with a wide grill that reads “CREAM” (Cash Rules Everything Around Me according to the Wu-Tang).  However, for all the fun it’s having, it also has an emotional core and a universal message of strength in the face of greed, corruption, consumerism, and struggle.

The illustrations are electric. They remind me of street chalk art–exaggerated lines with popping bright colors. The depictions of the story are likewise full of energy and vision. The illustration of The Power is that of a giant mouth, grinning and all teeth. His henchmen have t.v. heads. The uni-verse floats atop giant speakers. This art is like nothing I’ve ever seen in a comic book before, but I’d love to see more of it.

In short, I really dug Kid Code: Channel Zero. I have great adoration for mash-ups of high and popular cultures, bridging gaps between people of different interests, cultures, religions, and creeds. Kid Code does this with intelligence, wit, and artistic panache. Truly, I recommend checking this one out. Perhaps we can convince Rosarium to publish another one.



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Merry Elfing Christmas

F*ck, man–It’s Christmas again.

That’s how the new parody Kanye West Christmas album Kreezus begins. Some geniuses who go by the name Local Business Comedy have Christmasfied West’s hit album Yeezus.

If two months of listening to Andy Williams has started to wear thin, check this sh*t out while passing around the spiked eggnog. Because not only is the parody pretty accurate of Kanye, it’s also blessed with the funny.

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Frozen-Adjacent Holiday Tunage

xmas olafIf I were Disney, I would be marketing the crap out of holiday-buffed Frozen merchandise. Put a Santa hat on that stuffed Olaf! Add a red sash and bow to that Anna doll’s green coronation gown! String some bells on that Sven plushie’s antlers! But, alas, I’m just a lowly high school English teacher.

What I can offer is some Frozen-adjacent holiday songs featuring Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel).

The first comes from Straight No Chaser, a 10-man acapella group, and features Kristen Bell. They’ve done the good deed of adding to the limited number of Christmas songs by writing “Text Me Merry Christmas.” It’s cute, funny, touching, and ever so slightly naughty. It’s video, though quite simple, matches the levity of the song and punctuates the jokes.

The second is an ol’ holiday standard made acceptable for a Disney audience through some lyric tampering–“Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” This one comes from Idina Menzel’s new holiday album and features Michael Buble as her duet partner. The vocals cannot be faulted, but I miss the sauciness of the original lyrics. The video features the amateurish dancing of children. They’re cute, but that’s about it. Weirdly, the whole video is styled like something off of Baz Luhrman’s The Great Gatsby soundtrack, which doesn’t jive with the whitewashed lyrics and cutesy kiddos.

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Frozen Friday: Behind the Music

Sunday night we were watching Once Upon a Time and our toddler was looking up from painting when Elsa happened to do something interesting.  Out in Brooklyn, at the Walt Whitman Theater, Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez were doing a benefit show for school diversity with the head writer and puppeteer of Sesame Street.  I’m pretty sure we all would have preferred the latter.

Evil Elsa

Stitch Kingdom attended and has an extensive write up about the show, which involved a discussion of how the music for Frozen was developed and performances of some of the songs discarded as the story evolved.  Apparently while only seven and a half songs made it into the final cut, twenty five were written, but .  Some of those, “We Know Better,” “Spring Pageant,” “More Than Just the Spare,” “You’re You,” and “Life’s Too Short,” are available on the two disc deluxe edition of the soundtrack.

Snowman Army

Attendees to the benefit got to hear early versions of some songs and three additional unreleased tracks.  Stitch Kingdom did their best to transcribe “Hot Hot Ice,” the “In Summer” of a more sinister Olaf; “Cool With Me,” wherein Elsa raps; and “Someone Else’s Shoes,” which had Kristoff and Anna literally swapping shoes and rhyming tomato soup with reindeer poop.  As changes were made these songs became irrelevant or contradictory to the plot and had to be abandoned.

We’re huge fans of the finished product.  I wouldn’t go on about this every week if we weren’t.  And I appreciate the impression Frozen has left on our toddler.  Even so, I’d still love to hear Anna sing the line, “Yes, you’re really quite the showman with these mean and mutant snowmen.”