This documentary, The Barkley Marathons, on the most bizarre race in the US is very good. To sign up you have to give the race organizer with that $1.60, a license plate from your home state, and an essay about why you should be allowed to join the race. That essay helps the organizer pick one person he is sure will lose. The whole situation just keeps getting stranger and more brutally demanding of the people who compete in this rally for over a hundred miles through dense woods as they climb the equivalent of Mt. Everest’s elevation twice. Highly recommended. It’s streaming on Netflix right now, or you can buy it through a bunch of other services.
George Pendle has a fantastic article about it for Esquire:
The race can begin any time between midnight and noon on the closest Saturday to April Fools’ Day, always exactly one hour after a conch is blown. Runners are not given a map of the course, which is unmarked and largely off-trail, until the afternoon before. They must rely on compasses and the race’s obscure official directions to find their way. GPS is forbidden.
Runners must locate thirteen books in each loop and tear out a page corresponding to their race number. This year’s batch includes Unravelled, Lost and Found, and There Is Nothing Wrong With You: Going Beyond Self-Hate. After each loop, the pages are counted and each runner is given a new number. There are no aid stations, just two unmanned water drops that are often frozen solid. Those unable to finish are serenaded by the Barkley’s official bugler playing a discordant rendition of “Taps.”
With most fan-made productions you’re kind of left to go “oh it’s good… for a fan show.” That isn’t the case for Star Trek: Continues’ continuation of Star Trek’s original series. Continues is better than the new reboot movies, it’s also better than many of the shows after Deep Space 9. This show’s cast is excellent, the episodes are entertaining and have just the right amount of morality while still leaning into what made TOS so good.
Unlike Discovery you won’t have to subscribe to CBS’ crappy streaming service to watch Star Trek: Continues. Above is their playlist that has the full run of the show for free.
James Bridle has a terrifying and important article, it’s pretty long but the most important point is that people and businesses are systematically generating new videos for YouTube that appear to be tame pirated copies of shows like Peppa Pig but after a few minutes they change to be really awful and the YouTube app and site for kids don’t filter these out:
A step beyond the simply pirated Peppa Pig videos mentioned previously are the knock-offs. These too seem to teem with violence. In the official Peppa Pig videos, Peppa does indeed go to the dentist, and the episode in which she does so seems to be popular?—?although, confusingly, what appears to be the real episode is only available on an unofficial channel. In the official timeline, Peppa is appropriately reassured by a kindly dentist. In the version above, she is basically tortured, before turning into a series of Iron Man robots and performing the Learn Colours dance. A search for “peppa pig dentist” returns the above video on the front page, and it only gets worse from here
The reason why this crap skates by is because YouTube (and Google, and other companies) refuse to take responsibility for moderating what they host. Instead of hiring more people to moderate these things, the moderation is offloaded to algorithms and viewers.
Even if you only start a video on an official channel, auto play and the recommendations next to and after the video may take a viewer to another one.
tl;dr: Don’t let your kids watch YouTube. If you don’t have kids, please let your friends who do know about this problem.
I’m not going to embed the video, here’s a link to it if you must see it, but Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg once again confirmed his status as a belligerent racist by calling someone the N-word. This guy has about 57 million subscribers on YouTube, he does this again and again, it should not be a surprise to anyone.
I believe everyone should get a chance to apologize for almost anything and legitimately change as a person, but when you’ve had multiple opportunities and the best you can muster is the half-hearted “This isn’t my fault, it’s the fault of anyone offended, the people who reported it, and by the way fuck you” that he gave last time, well it’s time to give up on that person.
It’s a shame that companies like Google continue to give Felix Kjellberg a platform, I feel bad for children who are still exposed to his casual racism when their parents don’t know what he stands for.
Speaking of monkeys, Jesse David Fox has a great interview with some of the people behind the fantastic Planet of the Apes musical episode from way back in the Simpsons’ 7th season. The Simpsons’ musical composer, Alf Clausen, discusses how he tries to bring some seriousness to the show:
I hearken back to something that was said to me a long time ago by a trumpet player who worked in the studios. He said to me, “You can’t vaudeville vaudeville.” The reason for that particular directive is that he said if you wanted to make something funny, you don’t use funny music to go there. You use music that is extremely serious.
Clausen expands on that with his interview on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross:
GROSS: When you’re writing a song parody are you trying to write it as if it were serious, as if it were really a Broadway show or really a movie theme?
CLAUSEN: Absolutely, not only in creating the songs, but in creating the underscore music for “The Simpsons” and trying to give credence to the emotional content of what the characters are saying. I’m always extremely serious, and I think what happens is that the the listener and observer gets pulled into the situation more effectively once the music is serious, so that when the gag finally comes, the gag then becomes twice as funny.
I think about the musical underscore for shows a lot, how they ham it up during emotional moments to further draw you in. It works.
Fresh Air recently recompiled their old interviews with Simpsons creators and you can read the rest of that episode’s transcript, but really you should listen to it. Here’s the Overcast link for the episode.