Van HABBA



These mashup videos conceived by demented DJs are always a good laugh, and we've blogged at least one of them before. This one's particularly good, as not only are there promos for both of the mixed tracks, but they're rather similar in style, and the result is the quite convincing sense that ABBA and the mighty Van Halen are in the same room. The tracks are a great match too: Super Trouper and Jump.
This is by MadMixMustang and has a fan in commenter jrock2264, who sagely  opines:

There are a lot of things wrong with America. This isn't one of them. 



Red Dwarf Lego is smegging brilliant



We can all agree Red Dwarf is one of the best things to ever happen to TV. It returns to our screens in a few short months - with another series in the can, to be broadcast the following year! It's a good time to be a Dwarfer all right - and if you're a fan of the show you're bound to love these prototype Lego kits, via their Idea Factory project.

The project uses Lego fans' own brilliant ideas to crowdsource potential new Lego kits. You can see fan-built Batman, Ghostbusters and Star Wars models, among a galaxy's worth of others. The Red Dwarf sets pictured below are by Legobob32, pauleo333 and Hadds87. Each of them could use your support if its ever to see the light of day - you can sign up in a few seconds for a free Lego account in order to do so. So far, legobob's set has the most support, but I like all of these, and particularly the series 1 set, bottom. 







Via the Red Dwarf website




Dem Thrones



You saw the finale of Game of Thrones. We all did. It was pretty good, right? Well, it's about to get even better when you see it dissected by the Dem Thrones guys. These guys' love for the show is pretty contagious, and here they discuss Sansa and 'that bullshit she pulled', the merits of Lady Lyanna Mormont for President of the USA, House Frey cook-outs, how Bran got his Netflix back, and how likely Littlefinger is to 'snitch like a motherfucker' in season 7. Brilliant.

BStucThaPoet on YouTube



Portishead officially release ABBA cover



Glad to see Portishead finally airing this song publicly. It's from the film High Rise, of course, and the internet was abuzz over it before it was issued with a takedown notice. Now the group has put the song out in tribute to the late M.P. Jo Cox, who was tragically killed last week. There's a quote from Cox, "We have far more in common than which divides us" at the end. ABBA, whose song it is, are something of a symbol of Euro-synergy. As usual, people will speculate about the song as a political statement of intent in the UK referendum; I'd rather see it as a tribute with a positive message. Democracy is good, kids, so happy voting and remember that no one wins or loses.



Theremin and saw duet is lovely



Grégoire Blanc is a French prodigy (he's not twins - it's just video trickery) who loves the Theremin - the mysterious 20th century instrument that produces sounds from radio signals generated by the position of one's hand in an invisible field. Grégoire has appeared on French TV, and his YouTube channel is one to cherish. Here, he performs Passacaglia for Violin and Viola by Johan Halvorsen, based on Passacaille (No.6) from Suite in G minor by Handel, on Theremin and the equally haunting musical saw

It's worth mentioning that some people think his intonation (a very tricky thing on a Theremin) is too perfect, and that Grégoire uses pitch-correction software. I reckon it's more likely he records complex pieces in sections and stitches them together. Regardless, the result is very pretty. 



Prince gets sexy in heaven



You've heard a multitude of tributes to the lamented Prince, but you haven't heard any like this. Novelty Youtubers Funk The News have come out with the definitive eulogy, in the style of Prince himself, which details the Purple One's misadventures with the ladies of heaven. Historic figures are defiled left and right, and you can't help but think it's the way he'd want it.

[Via]



Wing sings AC/DC




Wing, alas, sings no more. She retired last year. However, she leaves behind an impressive legacy of CDs (including entire albums of AC/DC covers), which you can get here



Purple Pain



Let's not be too hard on the incredible Bev and Bob Holwager, whose Youtube channel HOLWAGERKARAOKE (caps theirs) has apparently been superseded by BobnBevEntertainmet [sic]. Yes, their karaoke skills may be a bit lacking, but they seem to be enjoying themselves, and probably making some money doing it too. They occasionally rope in some guys who look like wizards to play guitar for them, and everyone seems to be having a good old laugh. There's a strange sadness to it all nonetheless, and you do half expect Bob to suddenly sober up and come to his senses midway through Detroit Rock City, have a sudden moment of clarity and enrol in his local community college.





Flogging a Dead Force


The Force Awakens hints at an interesting political dynamic, yet no one quite knows how it works

Let's not beat around the bush: I have a few problems with the new Star Wars film. Not because it's not fun, or because I hate girls, or even because I've lost my sense of joy (an accusation levelled at many a critic of The Force Awakens); not because I found it boring - it entertained on a few levels (in fact, if I'd never seen a Star Wars film, I might have liked it a lot more). Not even because I went to see a Star Wars film and got a Disney one.
No, what bothers me wasn't so much that it wasn't Star Wars; what bothered me is that Star Wars seems slightly less Star Wars because of it. Much like the loathed Prequels, the Force Awakens tries to hang new baubles on the Christmas tree of everyone's favourite space film, but ends up making it look that bit more raggedy as it's dragged out of the attic once again.

Internet commentators have dissected The Force Awakens six ways to Sunday, and there's probably little criticism left that anyone hasn't heard. But while there's something of a consensus over some of the minor faults it has, there are a few major ones that, a month since I viewed the film, make me think: did the writers watch the Star Wars films before they put The Force Awakens together? It's not so much that it's bad, it isn't - but there's a far better - and somehow easier - story that could be told, and it was all just sitting there.

JJ Abrams: might not have actually seen Star Wars

Do I care that the protagonist is a one-size-fits-all character, an effortlessly skilful Disney Princess who laboriously reels off the standard kung fu shtick, while a slack-jawed male does a series of double takes, and his sexist preconceptions are well and truly skewered? Not so much; this is the Disney way. Do I care that 'it's a remake of the original Star Wars'? Not one bit, and how the hell anyone can complain about that at this stage is beyond me. This film exists because you all spent the last decade voicing your ire over George Lucas' last attempt at an original Star Wars story. 'Why wasn't it more like the originals?', you all cried. He sold it to the 'white slavers', and you got your Star Wars-y Star Wars. People said the Prequels looked like a cartoon - well, The Force Awakens plays out like one.    [cont]




Star Wars and millennial values


A short time ago, in a galaxy not far from here, it really should have been Christmas. As we all know, however, the season of goodwill was blasted into smithereens like the planet Alderaan by the ubiquitous presence of a certain space film. 
Disney's The Force Awakens inevitably ate all before it, and the reviews came in mostly favourably.
Back on the internet however, Jedi-like verbal duels of opinion of have been playing out among the Star Wars fanbase, as fans struggle to process a sequel 30 years in the making, and then tell each other they're wrong. I've personally read and written quite a lot about the film on internet forums, and it's interesting to see what people like, hate and grudgingly tolerate about it. 
One of my opinions seemed to ring true to a lot of people, so I've reprinted it here by request, slightly changed. Contains spoilers.
The differences between Star Wars (1977) and The Force Awakens (2015) can be seen as indicative of shifting values in culture.

I think The Force Awakens is geared towards a far more individualistic society. Our culture has shifted away from true communities. As people live increasingly urban, individualistic lifestyles within a meritocracy, so the values in art culture have moved away from rhetorical questions and parables to base wish fulfilment. You can see it in the way (for instance) new Superman's parents talk to him about his responsibilities. 

Pa Kent gives Clark some amoral parenting
Old Superman's parents gave him strong social values; new Superman has a dad who says 'it's OK to let kids drown to protect yourself', and a mum that says 'you don't owe this world a thing'.
The audience used to have heroes that did the right thing on behalf of a greater good (Bond is another example), whereas now they are mired in introspection, and often (as in Skyfall) 'go rogue' or just shoegaze. The message is they're beholden to no one.

In Skyfall, Bond goes boozing during an international crisis

The idea that you have to behave a certain way to preserve order, for instance, has been usurped by a general and more appealing idea that we are all exceptional individuals, whatever our reality may be.
In the case of Star Wars, if you look at the original films, Luke has a (foster) family; he participates. He does his chores (there is a sense of social responsibility). He's ordinary. The Force Awakens' Rey is a loner and a survivor, and clearly extraordinary in her abilities across the board, with no responsibilities. Luke is a slightly dorky teenager to whom we can relate - he seeks a role model; Rey is beautiful and dynamic - orphaned, but with no need of parental guidance. The orphan trope itself has become somewhat selfish, and speaks to a certain narcissism of modern independence. The film is not really not focussed on a social dynamic, nor the idea of any kind of altruism; they're presenting you with new characters whose primary motivations are selfish.




Bike Wanderer



This here's Iohan Gueorguiev, a 27 year-old bike enthusiast who's taken it upon himself to cycle... well, everywhere basically. First he cycled Canada, and then he headed South, and he plans to go around the world from there. He's done around 10,000 miles in 12 months.

This video shows the beginning of a trip from Alaska to Mexico, and it's pretty inspirational... especially when you learn he started his escapade with only 20 Canadian Dollars in his pocket. You can read an interview with Iohan at IceBike.org, where you can also catch some pretty awesome GoPro videos.

Bike Wanderer



Dick In The Air



Yeah, Peaches is back with her friend Margaret Cho, and she's all about the dick. The video is directed by Peaches herself, and effortlessly skewers gender stereotypes without being clever, in a style that isn't far from Tim and Eric. Peaches' new album, RUB, is out on 25th September.