Day: June 9, 2012


For tonight's Moment of Zappa, I have found a surreal Hungarian cartoon titled Beasts, set to G-Spot Tornado and Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus.

It's probably NSFW -- not just because there are some nude figures who look more like the work of Picasso than actual human beings, but because both the video and audio are precisely the kind of weirdness that will attract unwanted attention if someone notices you watching it. (But there aren't actually any words, so no nasty Zappa lyrics to worry about, anyway.)

The copyright date is 1993, so Frank presumably got to see the completed work before he passed. Which is great, because this is exactly the kind of crazy shit he really enjoyed. He was involved in some offbeat American animation too, of course -- fans will remember his cameo on Ren & Stimpy as the Pope, and that he wrote the theme song for Duckman (hmm -- you know, I think one of these days I'll have to post that as a "Great Opening Titles" and "Moment of Zappa").

I love Cletus; it's one of my favorite Zappa pieces. It's precisely what he was talking about when he famously (and rhetorically) asked, "Does humor belong in music?" Because he didn't just mean funny lyrics -- he meant funny sounds. Everything from the tempo to the instrumentation is expert comedy; it's a funny, funny song -- and it doesn't have a single word.

I found the Beasts video looking to see if there were any good videos of Zappa Plays Zappa performing Cletus live (I saw it in concert a few years ago; Dweezil introduced it by noting that to the best of his knowledge Frank never performed it live). I didn't find any, but I found something totally unexpected instead -- somehow I doubt this is the last time that will happen on one of my searches for Zappa material.

Great Opening Titles: Game of Thrones

So here's a thought: looking at great opening title sequences for TV shows.

Let's start with an obvious one: last year's Emmy winner, Game of Thrones.

(This video is from the official GoT YouTube account, so it's probably region-locked, but it's also probably not going to get pulled for copyright infringement.)

So okay. What's great about it?

Well, first of all, it serves a purpose. A Song of Ice and Fire is one of those incredibly complex and convoluted fantasy series where it's hard to keep track of just what the hell is going on at any given time; reading the books, I find myself perpetually flipping to the map.

So how do you deal with that in a TV show? You show the map, at the beginning of every single episode. And actually change what parts of the map you show, to match the locations where this week's episode takes place.

It also stresses another of the central themes of the series: the idea of distance, of the vast expanses between all the characters you're seeing, the isolation of Daenerys out in Qarth or Jon Snow north of the Wall. The series itself initially focuses on a comparatively small area of the world, and the characters and their narratives drift farther and farther apart as it goes.

Technically, it's beautiful; the CG and clockpunk styles combine to make for a sort of pleasing set of anachronisms, so that you know what your'e seeing doesn't literally fit the setting of the show. You've got the symbolic rising of kingdoms, towns, and castles, with the heralds of the major families. And the theme song -- I don't think I've stopped humming it since April, 2011.

Simpsons did a fantastic parody of it recently, too; I can't find a good copy of that that's embeddable, but they have it over at io9. (Does not appear to be playable in Firefox on Ubuntu. Booooo.)

If you want to read more, Art of the Title has a great interview with Angus Wall, creative director of Elastic, the company that made the sequence (and also the animated Deathly Hallows sequence in the second-to-last Harry Potter movie).

And we've got a couple discussion threads over at the forums: Game of Thrones: The TV Show, where, as the name implies, we discuss the TV show (expect untagged spoilers for all of season 1 and much of season 2 at this point, and tagged spoilers for both seasons and the books), and Song of Ice and Fire: The Books: Massive Spoilers & Rampant Speculation, which, as the name implies, is nothing but huge spoilers and speculation and which I advise you not to read unless you've read all five books and don't mind people talking about as-yet-unrevealed things like who Jon Snow's mother is.


In the previous post, I mentioned two shows: Mad Men and the new Thundercats.

Mad Men is one of the most successful and critically acclaimed shows on TV, by a network that has at least two more of them and has become synonymous with drama on cable TV.

It's also availble on Netflix Streaming. Despite some missteps in the past year, I believe that Netflix represents the future of TV distribution. Eight bucks a month for access to a huge library of movies and TV shows new, old, and, in the case of the upcoming season of Arrested Development, original.

Thundercats is available online too. You can go to, click on Full Episodes, and get this charming little notification:


Watch the newest episodes of all your favorite shows. Get your parents to fill in their cable info and you're good to go.

That's right: you can watch Thundercats online...if you already have a cable subscription!

And there are three whole episodes available: today's, the one from three weeks ago, and the one from four weeks ago!

So all you have to do is pay seventy dollars a month, and you, too, can get access to a seemingly completely fucking random selection of episodes from all your favorite shows online! Plus you get to pay for Fox News and the Christian Broadcasting Network, whether you want them or not! AWESOME!

Cable TV as we know it will not exist in 20 years. Good fucking riddance.


It's interesting, the kind of small but glaring errors that take you out of something.

Mad Men has an absolutely fantastic crop of writers, editors, directors, and actors -- so it's jarring when not one of them notices that, say, "1960, I am so over you" is a phrase that no human being has ever uttered. It's one thing to use a 1963 Bob Dylan song as background music in an episode set in 1960; it's another to actually have a character use slang that would be out-of-place in a show set in 1990.

A less severe but still amusing flub: in last week's Thundercats, a character said he had worked his math out to "the thousandth decimal point". I think I can see the error in his calculation: he used more than one decimal point.

Also: I changed the name of the "toons" category to "cartoons", because this is not Who Framed Roger Rabbit? The only reason I used the shortened form of the word in the first damn place was for a set of link banners I made back in 2000 that only one guy ever actually used.