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Posts Tagged ‘parody’

His Own Wavelength

August 13, 2014 | by

Talking to Weird Al about his process.

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From the promotional poster for UHF, Al’s 1989 film.

It’s not that there wasn’t a self-referential pop culture before “Weird Al” Yankovic; it’s just that those of us under forty might have a hard time remembering it. Just as difficult to imagine are those who, even after all these years—after all the albums and songs and verses, after all the puns and parodies and poetry—still think of Weird Al as nobody more than that guy who rhymes about food over popular music. Weird Al engages the entire culture, in all its functions and facets, through his lyrics, his videos, his original musical-style parodies. Just how he does it all remains a mystery no matter how often he explains it.

When he explained it to me recently, by Skype, he said much that I’d never heard before, even though, like most culture vultures my age, I’ve followed his career since the early eighties. And if a lot of those early songs did in fact find their rhymes in the names of food, it’s also true that a lot of them did not. His songs have become more intricate with each new album, even as they’ve become more expansive. And more popular, too. It’s easy to forget that Weird Al’s career, after an early but tough start, nearly failed to make it very far out of the eighties. It wasn’t until his parody of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (“Smells Like Nirvana”) that he safely established full traction and momentum.

That was 1992. Since then, his career has been an inverted, warped variation on the typical pop-music career, just as his songs have always been inverted, warped variations on typical pop music. In 2006, he released his first album ever to break the top ten (Straight Outta Lynwood, featuring “White & Nerdy”). And now, eight years after that, and thirty-five years after his very first single—“My Bologna,” which, yeah, is about food—his new album, Mandatory Fun, has gone number one. It’s not just the first time Weird Al’s done it; it’s the first time any comedian’s done it since Allan Sherman, with My Son, the Nut in 1963. Read More »

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This Is Just to Say

September 12, 2013 | by

What if William Carlos Williams wrote passive-aggressive notes in your office?

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The Timid Investigators: An Homage to Roberto Bolaño

December 24, 2012 | by

Illustration by Hache Holguin.

We’re out this week, but we’re re-posting some of our favorite pieces from 2012 while we’re away. We hope you enjoy—and have a happy New Year!

Then Maria came in and I said do you want café or café con leche, and then Bebe came in and I said do you want a café con leche or a mescal. Maria said she wanted a mescal with a fat worm and then Bebe said she wanted a clear tequila, then Maria said Verlaine is a better poet than Rimbaud who turned Verlaine from anapest to pederast, then Luiz came in with a kitchen knife and started cutting his dick right in front of us, but when Maria, who came from Xochimilco and whose father was a tram conductor and whose mother had run a small brothel in Taxco before she saw the light of Jesus and married and had Maria and several other Brats as Maria called them, and Maria said stop cutting that huge magnificent dick of yours or at least don’t do it here in the kitchen, and Luiz said he was going to start a magazine and publish only nuns and queers. Fuck you, I said, fuck you, chinga tu madre! Then two guys I didn’t know came in high from pot and giggling like tweens, Maria said hello Paco, hello Paquito. They were the twins from Guadalajara and wrote for a magazine called Anal Retention and they were stars in the poetry world faction that sided with Quevedo against Gongora and said they would stomp anyone who read that pussy Quevedo, but they were frail and I could not imagine their stomping a sleeping cockroach drunk on pulque, then I said, Hey! Twins, you want a café solo or a café con leche or a diet Coke or a zero Coke or maybe a Fanta lite, or maybe an Aztec cola but just then Maria took me by the arm and said come with me, I have to tell you something. And we went to the bedroom where a young woman was sleeping off the night before and Maria said don’t mind her, that’s just Silvina, she’s blind and gives handjobs for five pesos, and an extra five if you come on her face. She must make a lot of money I said. She does, she’s rich and owns property in Pedregal and in Chapingo but nobody knows so don’t tell, anyway I wanted you to know I don’t love you and that I will never sleep with you no matter what you do so don’t write any poems for me because that won’t work the way it did when you fucked my sister, Leche de Amor—I never fucked her I said. Yes you did she said, Carlota el Camino told me and Leche de Amor told her. I saw bright lights flash in the window, then the slam of a car door, then two huge guys the size of shipyards barged in pistols in hand. “Where is that faggot Noche de Azul?” one said, spitting out a plank of a toothpick cut from plywood.

“Where is that Quevedo faggot?” the one with the flat nose said; “We have a little present for him,” the other with a flatter nose said.

“Who’s looking?” I asked.

“The Gongora twins,” they answered with flames.

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Mad Man

May 30, 2012 | by

Dick DeBartolo’s first piece for Mad was published in 1962, when he was still in high school, and his work has appeared in every single issue since June 1966. He has written for sections throughout the magazine, but his greatest claim is as a satirist of movies and TV shows—that is, as a writer of the kind of elaborate pop-culture parodies that have, arguably, been the magazine’s signature brand of humor ever since they began running them regularly, about a dozen issues into their existence.

The influence of these satires—as written by DeBartolo as well as Harvey Kurtzman, Larry Siegel, Frank Jacobs, Arnie Kogen, Stan Hart, Lou Silverstone, Desmond Devlin, and others—has ranged well beyond the realm of illustrated humor, or even comedy generally; it’s entered the cultural water supply, enriching the work of filmmakers, politicians, authors, actors, and advertisers. Once you’ve acknowledged this, you’re only one short step away from acknowledging DeBartolo’s particular influence on culture at large. Read More »

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