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EUREKA: A Q&A With Bill Nye, The Science Guy

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015



BY JONATHAN VALANIA On November 9th, the Franklin Institute will host a conversation between Maiken Scott, host of WHYY’s The Pulse and Bill Nye, bow-tied science communicator, advocate for reason and critical thinking skills, wouldbe astronaut, bane of creationists and climate science denialists, not to mention superstitious kooks and cranks of every ideological stripe. Recently, we got Dr. Nye on the horn. DISCUSSED: Why he believes in evolution and you should too, Carl Sagan, marijuana, why he wouldn’t sign up for the one-way trip to colonize Mars, why better batteries and sea water de-salinization technology are crucial to the survival of the human race, the moral cowardice of climate science denialism, the societal dangers of literal interpreters of the Bible, whether or not UFOs have been visiting Earth and probing the rectums of rednecks, why GMOs make him nervous, and why he is the U.S. patent holder for the ballet slipper.

PHAWKER: You recently published a book called Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation. Let’s play devil’s advocate and pretend I’m a creationist: Give me your elevator pitch as to why I should believe in evolution.

BILL NYE: It’s not something you believe in or not; it’s a fact of nature. I would ask you, “Why don’t you believe in Evolution? What makes you think that the Earth could somehow be 6,000 years old? What made you think, for example, that a bookUndeniable written about 5,000 years ago that has been translated a number of times [and for hundreds of years was stored on nothing more reliable than people’s memories — The Ed.]. What makes you think the information in there is more scientifically reasonable than everything we can observe in nature?

PHAWKER: Every Sunday, my minister says it’s so.

BILL NYE: Well, I strongly encourage you to look at the facts: How could we have light from distant stars that are clearly more than 6,000 light-years away, that are only 6,000 years old? How could we have radioactive elements incorporated in frozen lava flows, if the radioactive elements weren’t chemically the same as the calcium and sodium that they replaced? What entity would rig it up so all of those systems would not work? It’s magical thinking, and I find it completely unreasonable, especially since we’re talking on the phone, which depends in every way on our understanding of science. How can you accept all of this technology without accepting the way that works?

PHAWKER: That’s true. If Alexander Graham Bell was a creationist, we probably wouldn’t be able to have this argument over the phone, would we?

BILL NYE: No. That’s interesting to me.

PHAWKER: One more question in the area of evolution and we’ll move on to some other topics— Evolution seems entirely understandable and reasonable, up until you reduce it to the very beginning. The only difficulty I personally have as far as grasping all of this is, how is it when you go back to the very beginning, to the Big Bang, how is it that something came out of nothing? Which is what happened, according to most scientists. For eons, there was nothing. Then — BOOM! — there was something, which was the beginning of the universe.

BILL NYE: How do you know there was nothing?

PHAWKER: Don’t we have to assume that was the case? Are you saying there’s always been something, the universe has always been here? Is that what you’re saying?

BILL NYE: I’m saying that whatever happened before the Big Bang we don’t understand. We know that something happened before the Big Bang. We just don’t know what that is. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. The fundamental difference between my side of it and the creationist side of it is that just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Because it’s really hard to get your head around four and a half billion years doesn’t mean there weren’t four and a half billion years [between the beginning of Earth and now]. There were four and a half billion years. The thing about science is that we don’t know drives us forward, instead of making us cower in the corner.

REALITY CHECK: Columbus Was Not A Role Model

Monday, October 12th, 2015

Artwork via DRAGOART
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR: The biggest controversy clouding Columbus’s reputation is the destruction – many would say genocide – of American Indians to which his expeditions led. Gold had always been the goal of his conquests, and when he failed to deliver his promise of “great mines of gold and other metals,” slaves became the consolation prize. MORE

“With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want. Here there are so many of these slaves. […] They have no arms, and are without warlike instincts; they all go naked, and are so timid that a thousand would not stand before three of our men. So that they are good to be ordered about, to work and sow, and do all that may be necessary, and to build towns, and they should be taught to go about clothed and to adopt our customs.” MORE

CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR: “From his base on Haiti, Columbus sent expedition after expedition into the interior,” Howard Zinn wrote in his groundbreaking history text, COLUMBUS“A People’s History of the United States.” “They found no gold fields, but had to fill up the ships returning to Spain with some kind of dividend. In the year 1495, they went on a great slave raid, rounded up fifteen hundred Arawak men, women, and children, put them in pens guarded by Spaniards and dogs, then picked the five hundred best specimens to load onto ships. Of those five hundred, two hundred died en route. The rest arrived alive in Spain and were put up for sale by the archdeacon of the town.”

“Columbus later wrote,” Zinn quotes, “’Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold.’” Within 70 years of his arrival, of the hundreds of thousands of Arawak Indians on the Bahama Islands, only hundreds remained. Zinn writes: “A report of the year 1650 shows none of the original Arawaks or their descendants left on the island.” The account of Bartolomé de las Casas, a priest and contemporary of Columbus, affirms the atrocities of the conquest of the Indies. “While I was in Cuba, 7000 children died in three months,” las Casas wrote in his “History of the Indies,” as quoted by Zinn. “Some mothers even drowned their babies from sheer desperation … in this way, husbands died in the mines, wives died at work, and children died from lack of milk.” MORE



BOSTON.COM: The Cruise of Mr. Christopher Columbus: A Really Truly Story, by Sadyebeth & Anson Lowitz, was first published in 1932, and remained popular for decades. According to a 1932 review syndicated in newspapers across the country: “For children who love to be read to and for children just learning to read, there are probably no better books than the “Really Truly Stories” of Sadyebeth & Anson Lowitz.” The book was said to make “history human, understandable and absorbing to inquisitive youngsters and its amusing illustrations and pertinent text is sure to entertain parents almost as much as their youthful audience.” Co-authored by a husband and wife, the “Really Truly Stories” series people_banned-246x300had sales exceeding a million copies by the late 1960s. MORE

RELATED: A People’s History Of The United States By Howard Zinn

RELATED: Later in the 1960s, as a result of Zinn’s campaigning against the Vietnam War and his influence on Martin Luther King, Jr., the FBI designated Zinn a high security risk to the country, a category that allowed them to summarily arrest him if a state of emergency were to be declared.[68][70] The FBI memos also show that they were concerned with Zinn’s repeated criticism of the FBI for failing to protect blacks against white mob violence. MORE

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ALL GOOD ZOMBIES GO TO HEAVEN: Q&A With Bassist Chris White, Songwriter, Odessey & Oracle

Friday, October 9th, 2015

Zombie Heaven_


BYLINER mecroppedsharp_1BY JONATHAN VALANIA A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away called the Summer Of Love, The Zombies created one the three or four baroque-pop masterpieces of the psychedelic era of the 1960s. And nobody cared. Though they had a couple hits, The Zombies were never cool like the Beatles and the Stones were cool. Their innate dorkiness probably didn’t help, though it would, years later, thanks to Wes Anderson, render them alpha males in the Land Of Twee. But still, they served with valor, bravely walking point during the British Invasion and proudly wearing the uniform: skinny suits, Cuban heels, owlish eyewear, problem hair. Plus, they sang like angels. The aforementioned masterpiece was called Odessey & Oracle (the artist who created the album cover misspelled ODYSSEY, and nobody noticed until after it came back from the printers) and by the time it was released in April of 1968, the band had long since broken up because, despite the fact they had a hit in 1964 with “She’s Not There,” they were too broke to carry on. (Actually, the band’s two songwriters, keyboardist Rod Argent and bassist Chris White did quite well for themselves with publishing royalties. After The Zombies split in December ’67, Argent and White formed Argent, who would have a Top 10 hit with “Hold Your Head Up” in 1972, but would never chart again.) Odessey & Oracle’s secret weapon, “Time Of The Season,” arguably one of the greatest pop songs of all time, became a surprise hit when it was released as a single in 1969 but the album from whence it came continued to molder in obscurity.

In the fullness of time, the album’s incandescent beauty, novelistic songcraft and deathless harmonies came to be appreciated by a quorum of critics and collectors and by the late 90’s a new consensus emerged: Odessey & Oracle is one of the greatest fucking albums of all time. In 2008, to mark the 40th anniversary of Oracle’s release, The Zombies reunited for a one-night stand at Shepherd’s Bush, which soon turned into four nights to meet demand, later expanding into a four city tour. Last week the original line-up of The Zombies embarked on an 18-city tour of America, which stops at the Keswick on Sunday, performing Odessey & Oracle start to finish for American audiences for the very first time. Earlier this week, we called up Zombies’ bassist Chris White, who along with Rod Argent split songwriting duties on Odessey, to get the low down. DISCUSSED: Battle of the Somme, D.H. Lawrence, LSD, Paul McCartney’s mellotron, Abbey Road, Aldous Huxley, turning 72, what it feels like to have created one of the greatest pop albums of all time.

PHAWKER: Great to speak with you, huge fan, really excited that you guys are doing Odessey & Oracle and I appreciate you taking the time to do this, let’s just jump right in. I just heard, the other day that one of the original names of the band was Chatterley and the Gamekeepers, are you aware of this?

CHRIST WHITE: I’m not aware of that. I joined because the bass player wanted to finish his exams and I joined about a year and a half before we went professional so I don’t remember all the names. All I knew was that they suggested, they were so fed up with having different names that they tried to have something unusual called the Zombies which no one else would ever copy, you know? So I don’t know, it does ring a bell, Chatterley and the Gamekeepers, yes.TheZombiesOdesseyOra

PHAWKER: I don’t even know what that’s from. Is that a DH Lawrence reference?

CHRIST WHITE: Yes, exactly. Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

PHAWKER: So you and Rod Argent were the writers in the band. What was your background as a musician? Are you trained or are you guys all just self-taught, picked it up along the way?

CHRIST WHITE: I think basically self-taught. My father, he was a part time upright bass player in dance bands and things and I think Rod’s father was in dance bands as a keyboard player. So it just went on from that basically. So I started playing bass, upright bass, he also played guitar and Rod’s father played keyboard. So we don’t have any formal training. I did have piano lessons.

PHAWKER: Can you read music?

CHRIST WHITE: Slowly, yes but not like a keyboard player can.

PHAWKER: I’m just trying to understand how you guys could compose pop music that is so advanced and intricate and ornate without any formal training or the ability to read music…

CHRIST WHITE: It’s what you listen to. Most music is written instinctively except when you’re really trained to be a classical musician. So there’s no need for-you hear it, you recreate it. And that’s really all I can say about it is basically you just hear the music in your head and try and recreate it. Same thing that Brian Wilson does, you know.

TEASER: The Coen Brothers’ Hail, Caesar!

Friday, October 9th, 2015


HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: New details about Hail, Caesar! — the Coen brothers’ upcoming “musical comedy” — have been revealed, thanks to their oft-collaborators: composer Carter Burwell and sound mixer Skip Lievsay. During the “Dolby Institute: The Sound of the Coens” Master Class, part of the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, Dolby director Glenn Kiser asked the two to describe the early parts of their process with directors Ethan and Joel Coen. “We’re doing one now,” said Lievsay of Universal’s 2016 release, with an ensemble cast that includes George Clooney, Josh Brolin, Channing Tatum, Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Scarlett Johansson and Jonah Hill. It tells the comedic tale of Eddie Mannix, a fixer who worked for the Hollywood studios in the 1950s, and follows a single day in his life as he is presented with plenty of problems to fix. Burwell added, “It’s a musical comedy that takes place on a Hollywood backlot, so you pass through all these pictures that are in production there.” Since the storyline has the plot popping into different in-progress films, the musical sequences will differ, but among the ones planned is “a tap-dance water number.” But don’t expect too much lightheartedness onscreen. Burwell later explained to The Hollywood Reporter, “I wouldn’t actually call it a ‘musical comedy’ — there are movies within the movie, and those movies might have comedic music, but the movie we’re making is actually not comical. MORE

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COMMENTARY: Sound & Fury Signifying Nothing

Friday, October 9th, 2015



Theodore-RooseveltBY WILLIAM C. HENRY The latest American butchery in Afghanistan (a hospital for Christ’s sake?!) is but a replay of yesterday and the day before and the decade and a half before that. And, for all the blood and treasure expended, we’ve accomplished little or nothing unless you’ve become sufficiently jaded to accept the enriching of every Afghan politician, tribal leader, and a bevy of enterprising plain old Afghan citizens beyond their wildest dreams as a victory for the benevolence of good old-fashioned American capitalism.

This time we “accidentally” bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital killing and maiming dozens including patients and staff. Never mind that just the day before we’d specifically warned Russia that they were opening themselves up to doing the very same thing in Syria. Quaintly ironic, no? Oh, and in case you’ve just awakened from a fifty-year snooze in an overlooked Capitol Hill cloak room, the Pentagon’s war-sterilization team long ago came up with a sanitary term for that of which I speak. They christened it, “collateral damage.” It’s their sort of supplicatory way of saying, “Please don’t take the excruciatingly painful and without excuse or justification separation of your flesh from your bones personally, we just got some bad intel.”

WORTH REPEATING: Being Nicki Minaj

Thursday, October 8th, 2015



NEW YORK TIMES: In another era, Minaj’s sexuality, expressed semi-parodically — pretending she’s a Barbie doll; glorifying women dressed as prostitutes and set in red-light-district windows — might have given feminists pause. But in the 2010s, we have entered a different world in pop culture, one in which sexual repression is perceived as burdensome and perhaps even an inability to holistically integrate the body and self. Young people are identifying and exploring formerly unknown, or at least unlabeled, frontiers of sexuality and gender. And the fact that Minaj is in charge of her own objectification (describing her vagina with more words than I thought existed, and then amplifying its power by rhyming those words), as well as her own monetization (overt product placement in videos is a hallmark) has led most feminist voices to applaud her. But the writer Bell Hooks remains unimpressed, saying of ‘‘Anaconda’’ at a New School panel titled ‘‘Whose Booty Is This?’’: ‘‘This [expletive] is boring. What does it mean? Is there something that I’m missing that’s happening here?’’

‘‘The frequency that Nicki works on is not the easiest frequency for us to wrestle with, because it’s about autonomy, and who has it, and whether we can actually tell the difference between self-objectification and self-gratification,’’ says Treva B. Lindsey, an assistant professor of women’s, gender and sexuality studies at the Ohio State University, continuing: ‘‘Do we even know what an autonomous female looks like in pop culture? What does control even mean in such a corporatized mass-media space?’’

On hip-hop radio shows, the dominant journalistic genre for the art form, Minaj speaks with a Queens accent, sometimes injecting it with Caribbean flair. But there was no evidence of that at the hotel, where she spoke in a night-after whisper that sounded like the hiss of a record before a song begins to play. ‘‘I never was political or preachy, but I’d stop my show and do two minutes of talking to my girls, boosting them up,’’ Minaj said, sitting in a small, straight-backed chair upholstered in the light gray fabric ubiquitous in luxury hotels, Columbus Circle’s billboards pulsing in the background as dusk fell. ‘‘They’d go home feeling, ‘Can’t nobody tell me [expletive].’ ’’ And as her career went on, she realized she had more to say. ‘‘We got so many girls right now having children and don’t even know the first thing to say to a child, but you’re having a child because ‘I want to keep this dude,’ or it just happened,’’ she explains on her second album. ‘‘Why are we never in control? Why are we stuck with a baby? Why are we always stuck on the welfare line? Why are we always stuck having to beg, borrow and steal to provide for our children? Why do we think it’s something wrong for waiting to have a baby, waiting until you’re 35 or 36 to have children? Technology has changed — you can wait! Have something to offer them.’’ MORE

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Q&A: Kyle Dunnigan, Emmy-Winning Comedian, Inside Amy Schumer Writer, Billy Joel Superfan

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

kyle d. blue shirt-1


BY JONATHAN VALANIA For the last three seasons, comedian Kyle Dunnigan has worked as a writer/performer on Inside Amy Schumer, where he just won an Emmy for the boy-band pastiche “Girl You Don’t Need Make-Up.” In Trainwreck, he played “Kyle,” the obnoxious staff member of the equally obnoxious S’Nuff magazine that Schumer’s character writes for. He does a weekly podcast with fellow comedian Tig Notaro called “Professor Blastoff” which premiered at #1 on iTunes Comedy Podcast Chart, and consistently remains as one of the top comedy podcasts. He had a recurring role on Reno 911 as ‘Craig’ a.k.a The Truckee River Killer. As a stand-up comic Kyle has had his own half hour special on Comedy Central and has appeared on Conan O’brien, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Jay Leno and Craig Ferguson. He is also a tournament-class poker player and an unironic Billy Joel superfan. He performs at Underground Arts on Thursday October 8th.

PHAWKER: Walk us through a day in the life of an Inside Amy Schumer Show writer.

KYLE DUNNIGAN: Well it’s a very supportive group and it’s a very groupthink kind of environment. From what I hear, that’s unusual. I do stand up and this is the first writer’s room that I’ve been Kyle_Dunnigan_as_Craigin. I was on a sketch show years ago that I also wrote on but I wasn’t a staff writer like this. You come in with like five pitches for sketches and then they kind of decide, they focus on these two and write that up you go home and write them and hand them in then they give you notes, you rewrite it and then everybody together works on it from there on out so you get a couple rewrites and then everybody jumps in.

But some sketches are different like the song “Girl You Don’t Need Make-Up.” Kurt Metzger had the concept of like the girl who doesn’t need makeup and wait you do need makeup when she takes it off. And then he just came in with a list of rhymes and then we all just sort of pitched rhymes. But it wasn’t really shaped like a song it needed to be edited way down. It was like a fifteen-minute song when it was first written. So I just went through, and I just picked my favorite lines and I cut some together so musically it would change and have a little bit of a bridge and chorus kind of thing.

PHAWKER: Was One Direction your model for the song and the band in the video?

KYLE DUNNIGAN: Yeah I downloaded that One Direction song. This guy in LA Jim Roach, he produced it. He made it sound great, and I directed it in terms of I want it to sound like this One Direction song you know make sure you put in some cowbell there. I downloaded some N*Sync songs and the Backstreet Boys just to get like a cross section. I got into it.

PHAWKER: One Direction I think is the first band – boy band that is – that I think made me feel officially old because I look at those guys and just say ‘They have the stupidest hair. This is the stupidest hair I’ve ever seen on teen idols.’ I don’t understand what teenage girls see in them but I guess that’s why I’m not a teenage girl. Or for that matter a teen idol.

KYLE DUNNIGAN: Yeah because they always have stupid hair but you’re now noticing because you’re getting older. Always something weird I mean Justin Timberlake had like frosted tips or something weird going on there was a lot going on with the hair in boy bands.  I mean going back to the Beatles the first boy band. Teen girls love when guys change up their hair and make it crazy. That’s just a tip for all the young guys out there: do it.

PHAWKER: Good to know. Okay and let’s talk about you do impersonations, you do Donald Trump you can do Caitlyn Jenner you do Kyle_Dunnigan_as_CraigPerez Hilton and Brian Williams. What is the secret to imitating Donald Trump since he is occupying so much of our media these days?

KYLE DUNNIGAN: Donald Trump is like he’s got this like bull horn quality and then he breaks out into a high pitch and it’s just a combination of those two things going back and forth I kind of do him like that. But I did impressions when I was younger but then with Howard Stern that’s how I started doing them again because I met with them and then I was dating Sarah Silverman at the time and she was on the show and she played a Bill Maher impression on the show and then they contacted me and asked if I had anything else and then I woke up and I could do Donald Sterling — remember Donald Sterling at the Clippers the racist guy? I just made a demo for Howard for a potential call-in and he played it on the air which I didn’t even know he was going to do and then we had a couple more live call-ins and now I’ve just been doing a lot of impressions since then for the show.

PHAWKER: And you’ve been given Arty chair status is that correct?

KYLE DUNNIGAN: No, I’ve sat in it a couple times.

PHAWKER: Is there actually a chair that they leave open that was Artie’s chair?

KYLE DUNNIGAN: Yeah there’s a chair there. I don’t think it’s his actual chair kept as a shrine but there’s a place where he sat and it’s still there and it’s empty. But people come in and will sit in the chair. I did it twice and it’s so surreal. I have to get comfortable. It’s so surreal that it’s hard to be comfortable right away it takes a few times, you know.

PHAWKER: I’ll ask you the cliché Howard Stern question that he is actually off-mic a very nice guy nice person very sweet person.

KYLE DUNNIGAN: He’s been nothing but incredibly nice to me.

PHAWKER: You brought up Sarah Silverman. I love Sarah Silverman. I’m sorry to hear that you guys aren’t still together.

KYLE DUNNIGAN: That’s okay I mean we’re still friends it was not a bad break up situation.

PHAWKER: What is the best perk of dating Sarah Silverman?

KYLE DUNNIGAN: Well one time we missed our flight to Hawaii and then Bill Maher just took us on his private plane which I have a feeling if I wasn’t dating her wouldn’t have happened, I have a hunch.

PHAWKER: Bill Maher has a fucking private plane?


Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

From Old Grey Whistle Test circa 1973. Haters gonna hate. Fuck ‘em. More for us. Like it or not, the man was The Bard of Long Guy Land Working Class Sadness in the 70s. The song is deathless, this is the performance of a young man who still has something to prove, and that mustache was punk as fuck at least four years before anyone even knew what that means. Hat tip to Kyle Dunnigan for pointing it out.

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ROMANCE, APOCALYPSE & MOON LANDINGS: A Q&A With Experimental Filmmaker Kate McCabe

Monday, October 5th, 2015

For Jonathan


BYLINER mecroppedsharp_1BY JONATHAN VALANIA Though she currently resides on the high plains of the Mojave Desert near the “rock n’ roll heaven” of Joshua Tree, acclaimed filmmaker Kate McCabe was born and bred in the Northeast, went to school at Girls’ High and attended University Of The Arts. It was a U Arts project — a Russ Meyers pastiche called Go Go Rama Mama, told from the perspective of a go-go dancer making the rounds for tips, shot through with all the low-rent tragedy and comedy such venues engender — that marked her coming out as a filmmaker. From there she headed west to study experimental animation at California Institute of the Arts under the tutelage of noted experimental animator Jules Engel, and never really looked back. She developed an arresting visual style marked by the innovative use of time-lapse photography, which she used to color her eerily oblique meditations on the post-millennial alienation, dislocation, and isolation in the celebrated 2004 experimental short, Milk And Honey. Smitten with the then-flourishing stoner-rock scene in and around Joshua Tree, she bought a house in Yucca Valley and put down roots. It was there she met and befriended Kyuss drummer Bjork Brant and the two collaborated on Sabbia, a trippy feature-length film wedding McCabe’s otherworldly desert visuals to Brant’s psychedelic rock. To make ends meet, she bluffed her way into an executive chef gig at an upscale rehab in the LA area. Between film projects she created the popular sketch comic book Mojave Weather Diaries. McCabe aptly describes her latest film, You And I Remain, as an “apocalyptic lullaby.” The film — colored with mesmerizing time-lapse footage of swirling clouds over the Mojave and arresting sun sets along the coast of Big Sur, and scored with hypnotic sound design by Jason Payne of Nitzer Ebb — vibes with the epic loneliness of life on Earth after the human race is wiped out by its own apocalyptic carbon footprint. McCabe will be showing her films during a self-curated retrospective at PhilaMOCA on Wednesday night at 7:30 PM.

PHAWKER: Let’s start at the beginning. You’re from Philadelphia. Where did you grow up?

KATE MCCABE: I grew up in Northeast Philly, and my mom had a dancing school in Frankford under the church street L stop. So I’ve kind of been somehow on Broad street going to Girl’s High my whole life and U Arts. Broad Street was like my main artery as a kid.

PHAWKER: And what was the trigger for you deciding to pursue filmmaking, specifically experimental film-making?xmas delights_alpert

KATE MCCABE: Yeah the worst career ever. I was just always visual and always writing and my mom, like a crazy Italian lady from Frankford that she was, somehow encouraged me, and I started with photography in high school, and then when I went to U Arts I discovered animation for the first time and the whole idea of the moving image and then of course adding sound to it was just what kind of pushed me there. I worked with people and actors first but that’s what you’re supposed to kind of learn to how do, like structural filmmaking and real narrative stuff. But it was more the abstract that got me going. So yeah I’ve been doing it a long time now.

PHAWKER: For people that don’t know about your first film, Go-Go Rama Mama, give us the backstory.

KATE MCCABE: Go-Go Rama Mama is definitely a special film. It was my thesis film for U Arts for me to graduate. I had friends who worked at a go-go club called All In The Family in the on 13th street — it’s long gone now — so it became kind of this place we would go to be supportive of the dancers, and I was able to start working there. It’s a place that was kind of frozen in time it was a total ‘70s kind of juke joint and the best thing about All In The Family was that it had Christmas decorations on the walls year round. that was their décor. I don’t know if you remember there were like little nutcrackers on the side of the stage and stuff. The way I saw it, in one way women were empowering themselves and then there was also like drugs and then there was every art school girl who ever went to Dirty Frank’s kind of worked there. They trusted me, and I made my film there: it’s shot from the perspective of a dancer collecting her round of tips in an afternoon. All the actors who play customers talk directly to the camera, so the audience becomes the girl working there. It’s kind of a comedy, but it’s also kind of sad.

PHAWKER: So what prompted the move out west?

KATE MCCABE: Well I was really getting into animation in terms of following these abstract animators and the people who came from that school, they basically made moving paintings. Decades before there were music videos they were doing cool paintings on films to jazz.

PHAWKER: Who were some of these filmmakers you’re talking about?

KATE MCCABE: Norman McLaren, Len Lye and Jules Engel who founded the experimental animation program at Cal Arts though he broke off from Disney. Like Disney kind of made Cal Arts, this character animation school, and Jules kind of made this little rebel school like in the basement. I’m glad I got in because I didn’t have another plan. And it was there that I actually learned all that old, obscure but beautiful way of combining images in-camera.

Now I do a lot of time lapse stuff — the new film is mostly time lapse stuff but you have to do it with an animation motor because it’s not on film so I have – this is super nerdy but it’s good to be a girl and a nerd sometimes – it’s called an Intervalometer and it’s a motor I can hook up on my camera that allows me to do long exposures and all kinds of time lapse. I worked for the master who did it in LA for a long time so I learned from a guy who worked on Return of the Jedi.

PHAWKER: So doing these time lapse things, you literally just set up a camera and sit there and babysit it for like eight hours until the sun comes up and goes down or whatever?

KATE MCCABE: Yeah, It’s good to monitor it in case there’s anything wrong or the camera blows over or you need to switch out a battery or something. It’s best to con a friend into coming with you so you have someone to play gin rummy with. You bring a book and some cards and you hangout and let the light do what it does.MWD4_McCabe

PHAWKER: Are all of your films shot on film or is some of the stuff digital?

KATE MCCABE: I’d say 80% of my work is shot on film. I don’t always get to finish it on film now so that’s kind of the compromise I have. I have to finish some of it digitally I work with the labs that do that.

PHAWKER: Isn’t that really expensive – eight hours on film?

KATE MCCABE: Okay let me explain that. So if I’m shooting a shot for eight hours in might only be twenty seconds of film.

PHAWKER: Okay right so it’s not constantly filming, it’s taking a shot at certain intervals, like every 10 seconds or 20 seconds it snaps an image, is that the deal?

KATE MCCABE: Yes exactly hence the term intervalometer. The key to understanding animation and film is understanding that it’s just a series of still images playing persistently. Once you know that, like you can fuck with it. I’m sorry that’s not an appropriate term, I would not say that in a classroom — “and then you would fuck with it, students.’ But can change the rhythm and timing. I can decide how long the sunset going to take, a minute or ten seconds, so you’re condensing time. This is super nerdy I’m sorry I didn’t know you were going to ask me technical questions.

PHAWKER: Well you didn’t say anything was off the record Kate.

KATE MCCABE: Oh no, call me out. Full nerd. Do it.

PHAWKER: So you currently live near Joshua Tree?

KATE MCCABE: Yes, in the town next door where you go food shopping. Technically I live in Yucca Valley. I’m ten miles from the Joshua Tree Inn, the motel where Gram Parsons died.

PHAWKER: Have you ever stayed there?

KATE MCCABE: I’ve never stayed overnight there but I’m really good friends with the owner and I did a bunch of pop-up restaurants there.

FICTION: The Death Of My Twin

Monday, October 5th, 2015





The light flickered in and out as the tinny sounds leaking out of a crappy little Macbook speaker interrupted my sleep, and I caught a glimpse of Charlotte hunched over her laptop under her blanket. She was up all night watching YouTube videos. Again. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since her ear buds broke a week and a half ago. If I squinted my ears, I could almost make out what was being said:

If only people believed in themselves as much as they believe in Lil Wayne and Beyoncé and them.

 Charlotte always had her videos blasted louder than they needed to be, which was okay at first, but then she started watching old Malcolm X and Black Panther videos,  Umar Johnson videos, Boyce Watkins videos, and random loud, self-proclaimed revolutionary, angry videos featuring people who complained about this and that. Always something about race, social class, corrupt government, or some type of conspiracy. My dreams were starting to fill up with dictators yelling and people mindlessly zoned out. Now, it was some guy who called himself  “the revolutionary with the tattoos.”

“You should listen to some of the stuff these speakers have to say,”  she said to me the next morning. “I don’t agree with everything they think, of course. But it’s better than listening to Rochelle all day and all night. She teaches nothing but how to twerk backwards and flaunt your nonexistent money.”

“How many times do I have to tell you? Don’t go there with her,” I said.

Heat filled my body the way it did every time Charlotte did that, compared my actions with hers as if we were the same people, as if she knew better than I did. I have a drawer filled with every pencil I snapped when she did that. Sometimes I snapped other things.

Like the heads that used to be a part of Charlotte’s favorite dolls growing up, the ones she never had to share. Some toys just weren’t made so sturdy. There were the CDs of her preferred artists, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill and, randomly, the Doors and the DVDs like Do the Right Thing and The Color Purple for the cultural messages or Pulp Fiction for the cinematography, that she would give me as birthday and Christmas gifts every year, as if we liked the same genres or songs. I guess she thought they would fix me. They didn’t. Then there were the hair brushes, combs, and flat irons that we had to share, the things that never worked in my hair but worked in hers. I was amazed at my own strength sometimes, but sometimes tools around the house were helpful. The main thing was Charlotte’s finger, when I shut a car door on it when we were nine years old. This was the one thing I could pass off as an accident as opposed to the others, believe it or not.

Charlotte and I were fraternal twins, but the differences in our appearance nowhere near matched our differences in personality. She was the intellectual, the one into the fake deeps who praised mother Africa and raved about post traumatic slave syndrome and the evils of capitalism and wealth inequality. She was the one destined to go to Harvard and double major in African American studies and bioengineering, writing novels on the science behind the spread of some disease in minority communities and its ties to redlining, eventually winning Nobel Peace Prizes for her discoveries.

According to society, I was the not so smart one, just another ratchet black girl, the one who needed to find her way, and soon. I was the one who clung to reality TV shows and gorged on “Mob Wives” and “Pretty Little Liars” binges, overdosed on Nicki Minaj and One Direction on Spotify, followed celebrity trends like Beyoncé’s newfound veganism that she announced on “Good Morning, America,” much to the Beehive’s dismay. They were expecting a new album. I guess the announcement was pretty anticlimactic. I was still trying to figure out where I could find a placenta to eat like the Kardashians or how to get cheap butt injections like almost every vixen in Hollywood. I watched makeup tutorials on YouTube by the endless number of girls trying to get Kylie Jenner’s lips without the injections and expensive makeup. I even watched the videos by the girls with skin lighter than mine who wanted to make their skin even lighter.

TRAILER: Martin Scorsese’s Vinyl

Sunday, October 4th, 2015

ESQUIRE: The new series Vinyl arrives from three essential voices: director Martin Scorsese, Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire writer Terence Winter, and Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger. A new trailer for the series appears to fuse their strengths. Following Bobby Cannavale’s record label president Richie Finestra as he wades through the music scene of 1970s New York City’s, a convergence of punk, disco, and hip-hop, Vinyl channels the suave-as-fuck energy of Goodfellas. The hunt for “a song that makes you want to kick someone’s ass” is smothered in debauchery straight out of Scorsese and Winter’s Wolf of Wall Street. MORE

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Win Tix To See Luna @ The Troc On Monday

Friday, October 2nd, 2015



While it is inarguably true that there would be no Luna — and for that matter no Galaxie 500 — without the Velvet Underground, Dean Wareham’s ’90s alt-rawk jawn was never so much a Velvet Underground cover band as it was a lovely green shoot growing out of VU’s “Pale Blue Eyes”/”Femme Fatale” side, eschewing the noise and transgression of the first two VU albums for the lyrical, languid jangling pop meditations of the last two VU albums. Poor bastards had no more commercial luck with Lou Reed’s sound cloud than Lou Reed did, which is to say none, and after seven albums and a 14 years of velveteen goodness, Wareham pulled the plug in 2005 to score Warhol screen tests, wry cameos in Noah Baumbach films and make whoopee and beautiful music with longtime gal pal Britta, the Nico to his Lou. Back in the spring, after three albums and a wedding as Dean and Britta, Wareham announced plans to re-activate Luna for a spring tour of Spain and a fall tour of the U.S., which brings them to the Trocadero on Monday, with Foxygen off-shoot Diane Coffee opening. Having been on the Wareham tip since Galaxie 500’s Today came out in 1987, we can’t wait. We could not be more proud to announce that we have a couple pairs of tickets to give to some lucky-duck Phawker readers with a deep-well of trivial Luna knowledge and a willingness to jump through our social media hoops. To qualify to win you need to A) be signed up to our mailing list (below right, beneath the masthead) which will give you early warning about must-read Phawker posts and early word on groovy concert/movie/misc-cool-event-you-definitely-want-to-attend ticket giveaways B) and follow on us Twitter C) send an email to telling us you have accomplished both A & B along with the answer to the following Luna trivia question: What is the name is of the Beat Happening song that Luna covered. And because we want you — yes you, you know who you are — to win for a change, we’re even dropping this not-very-subtle hint below. Good luck and godspeed.


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#UCC SHOOTING: ‘Beta [Male] Uprising’ Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore, Not Even To The /b/tards Of 4chan

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

TAIWANESE ANIMATORS: The night before the Umpqua Community College shooting near Rosenburg, Oregon, a post was made on 4chan warning others of malicious intent. Other anonymous users called his bluff, and a few told him to not to do it, but some jokingly posted, “beta uprising.” The term “beta uprising” is a joke referring to “beta males” who may feel jaded by society and unwanted by the opposite sex. The jokesters purport that beta males may resort to violent actions in their futile search for significance. Therefore, the term is often associated with mass murderers. The random 4chan boards “/r9k/” and “/b/” have a reputation for hating women and “normies,” defined by the the Urban Dictionary as the 97 percent of people without a mental illness. However, 4chan remains a rather safe place for the First Amendment to be exercised, and if a board gets banned there, there are other places anonymous posters can go. But let’s be real, after Thursday’s tragedy, the beta uprising joke has lost its charm. MORE

URBAN DICTIONARY: typically found in 4chan‘s /b/ random folder a /b/tard is

1. an elite force of the internet
2. a drop in the all-crushing sea that is anonymous
3. male, racist, virgin, white, 18+ years old, with a cock the size of longcat MORE

NOISEY: Anthony Fantano is a music vlogger who posts video reviews of albums under the moniker The Needle Drop. […] however you feel about him, please know that he is NOT the armed gunman responsible for the tragic mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon yesterday. SBS News, the Australia-based news organization, made this error yesterday in their television reporting on the shooting, accidentally using a photo of Fantano in their broadcast, instead of Chris Harper Mercer, the gunman who was killed in a firefight with police. MORE

Fantano copy


CNN: The gunman, while reloading his handgun, ordered the students to stand up and asked if they were Christians, Boylan told her family. “And they would stand up and he said, ‘Good, because you’re a Christian, you’re going to see God in just about one second,'” Boylan’s father, Stacy, told CNN, relaying her account. “And then he shot and killed them.” Boylan, 18, was hit in the back by a bullet that traveled down her spine. While she lay bleeding on the floor, the gunman called out to her, “Hey you, blond woman,” her mother said. She played dead — and survived. Stacy Boylan also said the shooter delivered “a box” to someone during the shooting. He said his daughter told him the man “gave somebody a box, somebody who lived, and said, ‘You gotta deliver this.’ Somebody has a box. I don’t know what that’s about.” MORE

JEZEBEL: Mercer’s mother, Laurel Harper, is described as “fiercely protective” of him. The two previously lived in Torrance, California, where neighbors remembered him as an anxious, shy, socially maladjusted teenager, whose mother once went door to door campaigning to get rid of roaches in the apartment complex, which she said were bothering her son. A neighbor recalls her saying, “‘My son is dealing with some mental issues, and the roaches are really irritating him.” By the time the pair arrived in Roseburg, neighbors there described Mercer more or less, as an asshole. […] The Times also found Mercer’s social media profiles showed an obsession with the IRA. A dormant-looking dating profile under the name “IronCross45” is still up for Mercer on a website called Spiritual Passions; he describes himself as a conservative introvert Republican, who doesn’t like organized religion and loves industrial music. MORE

DAILY BEAST: Forget the 26-year-old zero who murdered 10 innocents at Umpqua Community College on Thursday morning. The one to remember is 30-year-old Chris Mintz, the student and Army vet who was shot at least five times while charging straight at the gunman in an effort to save others. Mintz did so on the sixth birthday of his son, Tyrik. “It’s my son’s birthday, it’s my son’s birthday,” he was heard saying as he lay wounded. When word of Mintz’s heroism reached his kin in his native North Carolina, his cousin Derek Bourgeois was hardly surprised. “It sounds like something he would do,” Bourgeois said. MORE

Chris Mintz-Plasse


TMZ:Chris Mintz-Plasse, aka McLovin from “Superbad” … is not the Chris Mintz who was shot 7 times Thursday while trying to stop the Oregon community college shooter. Chris Mintz-Plasse, the actor, took to social media to address the case of mistaken identity. The Oregon Chris Mintz is an army vet who remained in the hospital Friday recovering from his gunshot wounds and two broken legs. Chris, the actor, says he’s got nothing but love for Chris, the hero … and has since re-routed all the well-deserved fan fare toward the correct Twitter and Facebook pages.  MORE

CHARLIE PIERCE, ESQUIRE: I’ve been doing the politics blog only since the fall of 2011. This I think is the fourth [mass murder by a lone gunman] I had to write about. I was struck by the last bit by the president, where he talked about other things where you react to. The fact remains we only allow ourselves two political parties in this country. And one of our political parties is completely insane. [emphasis added] It’s the party that when we have mine disasters, blocks mine regulations. It’s the party that says when we want to fix our roads, you can’t have an infrastructure bill. You can’t raise the gas tax. It’s the party that when some people have floods, like New Jersey, marks Chris Christie lousy because he accepted help from the federal government. And we have the same party who has somewhere between three and 600 people running for president, none of whom will do anything about the problem of mass shootings in America. MORE

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Via BuzzFeed

Cost of the War in Iraq
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