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Eric: Personal Taste, Laws of the Universe, and ways they don't mesh.

Early on in the development of this site, I posted a couple of rather dogmatic comments in reviews. In one, I said the following about the movie HERO:

This movie blew what little mind I had, and will stay with me for a long, long time. If you haven't seen it, go see it. If you don't want to go see it, go see it. If you know you're going to hate it, go see it. If you won't go see it, you're stupid. Got it? Good.

Going back even further, if you look at my Night Comics Trawl, you find the following statement about Something Positive:

If you're not reading this, you're an idiot.

I got a few comments about those statements. People didn't much care for being called an idiot because they didn't read a webcomic they perhaps didn't like, or being called stupid because they chose not to go see a movie they didn't find appealing. And I took something from that:

My opinions are not laws of nature.

It's not that I can't sometimes employ hyperbole in a review. I can. I do so unapologetically. However, I specifically have stated that I want debate to be encouraged by Websnark -- I don't want to declaim my opinions from the mount. I want to inspire the critical dialogue. And statements like that run against that goal. There's nowhere to go from "you're an idiot if you don't read Something Positive" except "FUCK YOU, ASSHOLE!" And that doesn't do anyone any good.

I'm bringing this up because... well, because of the healthy debate being inspired by yesterday's Penny Arcade Snark.

Make no mistake -- I snarked yesterday's Penny Arcade because I found it hysterical. I enjoy dark humor. I enjoy humor where someone who is being an idiot is being tormented by an asshole. There's no reason Gabe can't walk over and buy himself a Cinnabon, except if he does he'll lose his place in line. A line which doesn't actually exist, I would add.

Gabe is in utter anguish in the strip. The Cinnabon guy is being a bastard, but it's entirely because Gabe is being an idiot. There's no victims -- only stupid people! YAY!

I admit it freely. I find that hysterical. I find FLEM hysterical. I loved the Kestrel-car-strike in Something Positive. I subscribe to the Mel Brooks theory of comedy: "Tragedy is when I have a hangnail. Comedy is when you fall into a sewer and die." And other people agree with me.

But others don't. Some people look at the Cinnabon strip, blink a couple of times, and say "um... 'kay?" Others find it mean. And still others can't separate their opinions of Gabe and Tycho from their opinions of the strip.

That's all okay. There's nothing wrong with that. There are certain comic strips I don't read because the writers offend me on some non-strip level, and it gets in the way of my appreciating the strip. (And no, said writers saying critical things about me usually isn't why.) There are certain strips I think are funny but make me uncomfortable, so I don't read them. There are certain strips everyone loves that I just don't think are funny.

And there are strips that are extremely funny in very different ways. Not all fans of Achewood like PvP. Not all fans of PvP like Superosity. Not all fans of Superosity like Greystone Inn. That I happen to like all four just means I like different styles of humor in different ways at different times.

The subjectivity of humor is eternal. We don't all approach humor the same way, we don't all find the same things funny. Some people can stare at the Hamsterdance for hours. Some people love Modern Humor Authority. Some people watch Hee Haw. And all that is fine -- we may disagree, but we can't discount.

The dialogue is important, but never make the mistake of assuming that just because you love/like/don't care about/dislike/hate Penny Arcade or any other strip that anyone else has to agree with you. Express your feelings and express your reasons, but don't try to convert other people. If you express your reasons well enough, maybe you'll sway someone. But if you don't, understand that just because you don't think it's funny doesn't mean it isn't funny. Or the reverse.

This is true in other venues, of course. I know of people who love Broken Saints. I don't. Rather emphatically. But that doesn't change the fact that those people love it. And those people need to come to terms with the fact that I don't, and I'm not going to. Neither opinion outweighs the other. I know people who love Andromeda. I don't. I thought it was pretty crappy the first couple of seasons, and then after Sorbo Herc'ed it up I thought it became unwatchable. That doesn't mean the people who still loved it are wrong and I'm right. It just means we disagree. I know people who hate Babylon 5. I loved it. It's about my favorite SF series of all time. I know other B5 fans who hate Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and vice versa. Me? I loved them both.

Here on this site, you're hearing my opinions. My opinions on webcomics. My opinions on television. On stuff. Sometimes you're going to agree with them, and sometimes you aren't. And I'm not generally going to tag them with "this is just my opinion," because this is an Op-Ed site, for all intents and purposes. It's all my opinion. Coming back with "but that's just your opinion" is like coming back at Star Wars and saying "but your movie has aliens in it!" It's understood and implicit that that's what's going on here, and I'm assuming you're smart enough to know that. And because of the opinion-nature of this site, sometimes people are going to express that agreement or disagreement in comments. I actively encourage that. I yearn for that. The critical dialogue is the whole point. It's why there is a commenting system here. And why I don't delete comments unless they become inflammatory about other people. (Which to date I haven't had to do.)

But be careful -- especially when you're responding to another commenter. Don't mistake your opinion for natural law. In the end, all you can do is make yourself look bad.

I know. I've been there.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at March 24, 2005 12:19 PM


Comment from: Phil! posted at March 24, 2005 1:03 PM

Well said.

Comment from: William_G posted at March 24, 2005 1:16 PM

Speaking as a force of nature, I dismiss this and all opinions as not being my own.

And Andromeda had a hot robot chick, "The Sorb" is always a man's man, and... well, not there's much else to reccommend the show. Okay, I admit it.

Comment from: Tangent posted at March 24, 2005 1:23 PM

Hee! But half the fun of debating is getting the other person to admit you're right and they were wrong! *grin* (Which, honestly, never happens in a debate because the nature of debates is that both sides are right and neither will agree on the other's point of view, but that's just what I've observed with debates through the years.)


Comment from: Greg Dean posted at March 24, 2005 1:34 PM

Very well said indeed.

Comment from: RKMilholland posted at March 24, 2005 1:47 PM

There is only one absolute in webcomics: You should give money to Randal Milholland.

Comment from: Colin L. Burke posted at March 24, 2005 1:59 PM

I apply the same standards to politics. It made the Presidential race much more bearable (for me, at least).

Comment from: Christopher B. Wright posted at March 24, 2005 2:18 PM

By combining the last two comments I conclude that there is only one absolute in politics: I should give money to Randal Milholland.

Works for me.

Comment from: TheNintenGenius posted at March 24, 2005 2:25 PM

I do often subscribe to the "tragic is funny" Mel Brooks brand of humor, but something about Penny Arcade still doesn't often connect for me. Oh well.

That out of the way (for good, I hope), very nicely said.

Comment from: Tarrsk posted at March 24, 2005 2:31 PM

I would just like to say the Deep Space Nine is awesome.

But Firefly is awesomer.

Comment from: the_iron_troll posted at March 24, 2005 2:34 PM

And I specifically don't connect with this Mel Brooks brand of humour, but often find Penny Arcade to be quite amusing.

Eric, I for one would never hold you as personally insulting me for uttering your opinion in a strong fashion. I don't read Something Positive. I don't know if I'll start - it seems okay, but not really a funny-bone-tickler. And I don't consider myself an idiot.

Bravo for such a quick response, too. Quite foresightful of you.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at March 24, 2005 3:01 PM

You've got a point, but I don't think the discussion in the PA thread got anywhere near a bad level on either side. Perhaps this was just a preemptive measure.

I personally subscribe to a much more broad theory of comedy - anything can be funny, if done right. The key lies in how you do it.

A good example is the "Kestrel gets hit by a car" S*P. That gag worked for several reasons - partly because it caught many people completely off-guard, partly for cathartic reasons, and partly because it wasn't the complete focus of the comic. I don't think it would have worked as well if it had been the focus of a comic.

Though, as a complete tangent, I remember being quite dissatisfied with the snark on that not because I thought the comic to be poor... on the contrary, I was just annoyed that there was a subtle part of that comic that was brilliant and I wanted to see you comment on it. That strip finally answered my question about what kind of misanthrope Milholland is - as it turns out, the same type I am.

Of course, with all that said, you should be prepared for reminding people about your thoughts on Hero, and how sooner or later people will take you to task for recommending thinly-veiled communist propaganda. Though I have to admit, their propaganda does have better special effects.

Comment from: kirabug posted at March 24, 2005 3:08 PM

I just wish someday I could understand the humor in White Ninja, since lots of folks seem to think it's pretty funny. Is it like the Three Stooges thing? I don't get the Three Stooges thing either. Can somebody explain the Three Stooges thing?

Comment from: Shadowydreamer posted at March 24, 2005 3:09 PM

No personal insults and hissy fits? *Sighs and crumples up her 'Eric Burns is a poopy head' essay.*

Actually, I've often been impressed with how well expressed, mature and insightful the average Websnark poster is. Probably why I come back so often. ^_^

(Tho I'm not admitting if it's because I enjoy the atmosphere or if I'm trying to corrupt it! ^_^ )

Comment from: larksilver posted at March 24, 2005 3:23 PM

Hm.. "Eric Burns is a poopyhead." Sounds like something you'd put on a t-shirt, somehow. heehee!

I've been trying to explain the whole "humor is subjective" thing to my fella for 4 years now. He thinks because I didn't find "Dude: Have you seen my car" hysterical for more than about 2 minutes I have a limited sense of humor. However, he often looks at me in puzzled astonishment when he finds me chortling aloud at something he didn't really.. y'know.. follow. Alas.

And the Stooges thing? I dunno. I think that one is sort of like watching Ren and Stimpy. If I watch either one for two long, suddenly the sound of the show is crowded out by these tiny screams inside my head as the brain cells all commit suicide from the agony. I don't get it. I've tried, I swear I have. But it's just.. beyond me.

And on that whole Penny Arcade thing? Some of their stuff is freakin' hilarious. Sometimes, I just don't get it, and sometimes it irritates the hell out of me. To me, that just means that there's something for everybody in there, and if I don't like the strip for the day, guess what? I can come back on Friday. It'll be completely different by then. heh.

Comment from: larksilver posted at March 24, 2005 3:25 PM

Ack. "two long?" Sheesh it really has been a long week, hasn't it? That's suuuuch a pet peeve of mine, too. (TOO not TWO, THERE not THERE, etc.) ACK.

Sorry about that.

Comment from: Christopher B. Wright posted at March 24, 2005 3:27 PM

You know how if you're watching a Marx Brothers movie when you're sober it's hilarious, but when you're drunk (or very tired) it's just confusing?

The Three Stooges is the other way around.

Just my opinion.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at March 24, 2005 3:38 PM

The British Humor comments strike me as... well, funny.

Monty Python is seminal, of course, but corresponds to American stuff (The State and the Upright Citizens Brigade leap to mind -- I don't count Kids in the Hall because that's Canadian, which is something else again). Benny Hill is effectively Hee Haw (or even the Man Show) with a different accent. Coupling, One Foot in the Grave, and other such shows correspond to (perhaps more poorly written) sitcoms... and the (to my mind) insipid "Are You Being Served" is essentially American except for dialect.

And as for the "Tragedy is funny" school... well, The League of Gentlemen is about the darkest comedy I've seen on television (and one of the best), there is plenty of mean spiritedness and bile spewn on Red Dwarf and The Office alike....

So... I don't think we can really say "British != Brooksian" so much.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski posted at March 24, 2005 4:05 PM

I'm not a gamer (though my kids are), and I keep family-friendly in my personal speech and my webcomic, but when I discovered webcomics in 2003 I laughed aloud at the Penny Arcade archives more ofen than I did at the Sluggy Freelance archives.

I loved the first few years of Andromeda because I love crossovers. Andromeda (when it started) was a crossover! It was a crossover between the conventional roddenberrian, campbellian lantern-jawed do-gooder hero and the contemporary post-Matrix black-leather-clad rebels-without-a-cause. When Robert Hewlitt Something left the writing staff it lost most of that and the rest of it has dribbled away since, but those first few years were golden.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at March 24, 2005 4:11 PM

Eric, that's the tangent being discussed in the PA thread. We're currently discussing the Three Stooges here.

As for why that's funny - it's slapstick. More specifically, because each one knows they're going to be attacked by the other two, but they still stick around because they like each other - it's bonding through violence. You could argue that said dynamic exists between most "odd couple" comedy pairs/groups.

You'll typically find a wide divide between men and women on the Stooges, and I think it's because men are much more likely to bond through abuse, so they see themselves in the Stooges.

Comment from: Shadowydreamer posted at March 24, 2005 4:39 PM

As a lass born in Scotland and residing in Canada.. :) Kids in the Hall is about as much Canadian humour as Monty Python is British. Oh, sure, it's their countries of origin but they're far from the standard. ^_^

Royal Canadian Air Farce is the best example of Canadian humour available, Corner Gas coming in at a close second. If you can't get your paws on either of those.. try a "The Frantics" CD or six ^_^

Comment from: quiller posted at March 24, 2005 4:49 PM

Speaking of humor, I was listening to an interview with Eric Idle on public radio (I forget if it was Fresh Air or Talk of the Nation or what) and Benny Hill came up. He was mentionning that he was one of the last silent comedians (or nearly silent) and that his show can be seen everywhere because half-naked ladies are popular everywhere. (With some exceptions in the middle east I suppose) He also talked about MPFC being recut for American television and them getting an injunction from ABC or someone putting it on because it had been cut so atrociously. A landmark case on artist's rights.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at March 24, 2005 4:49 PM





Comment from: William_G posted at March 24, 2005 5:16 PM

Okay, I am going to vent on one pet peeve I have when people talk about Penny Arcade:

Their names are Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins. If this were a messageboard and they had the IDs of Gabe and Tycho then I can see refering to them as such. As it stands now, calling in them by their cartoon mouthpieces is much like calling Scott Adams "Mr. Dilbert" or going up to Toby McGuire and saying, "Hey Peter Parker! How's it going dude?"

There's also the theory that by cloaking themselves in this manner, they are removing themselves from the rest of us and becoming portrayed as iconic instead of just a couple of guys. Something cult leaders do. Which would go a long way to explaining the rabidity of some of their fans, but that's neither here nor there...

Regardless I think it's a bad habit and we should all stop it because it makes everyone look like we just fell off the turnip truck.

Comment from: Christopher B. Wright posted at March 24, 2005 5:31 PM

They post in their forums as "Tycho" and "Gabe." On their front page, they sign all their articles as "Tycho" or "Gabe," depending on who posts. When they post on other websites, it's usually as some variation of "Tycho" or "Gabe."

On AIM and ICQ my nickname is "Elijah Robert Marks" (for reasons unimportant to this post) and most of the people who chat with me call me "Eli" -- even though we all know that's not my name. It's the Internet. Stuff like that happens all the time.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at March 24, 2005 5:33 PM

Actually, I stick with Gabe and Tycho mostly because it's damn hard to read their signature/copyright notice and get the spelling of their names, so I just kind of gave up one day.

Comment from: Christopher B. Wright posted at March 24, 2005 5:38 PM

Now that I think about it... I don't think they post in their forums as Tycho and Gabe. Still. It's the Internet.

Comment from: William_G posted at March 24, 2005 5:44 PM

Understandable, Eric.

Aside from my own annoyance with the practice, I think dropping it MIGHT go a long way to helping people be able to seperate the comics from the creators when discussing either.

Comment from: Darth Paradox posted at March 24, 2005 5:46 PM

I found the Cinnabon PA strip pretty funny. And then I read it again, noticed that Gabe was worrying about losing his place in a one-person line, and had to restrain myself from laughing out loud and making people wonder what the hell was up with me.

PA's humor tends to come in many different forms, though. Some of it is absurdity - like Twisp and Catsby, and the Cinnabon strip, to a lesser degree. Some of it is flat out setup-punchline type humor, which tends to work well for them because the timing's usually pretty good. Some of it's highly referential... but I have to say, there have been very few - if any - PA strips where I've been completely left out of the joke because of the material, despite not really being much of a gamer. (As an example, most of what I know about the game "Daikatana" was gleaned from early PA strips and newsposts - and the one where one of them just says "Daikatana" in the first panel and the rest of the strip is them laughing their asses off still sticks in my mind.) But in my opinion, nearly all of it's funny.

Comment from: Pooga posted at March 24, 2005 6:43 PM

Hmm... Two threads now where the connection between pain and comedy has been brought up, and Stranger in a Strange Land still hasn't been mentioned? Curious. :)

Comment from: Montykins posted at March 24, 2005 6:57 PM

I think they both have a tendency to exaggerate their personalities when they make the newsposts, so I have no problem thinking of the people who wrote them as "Gabe and Tycho" while figuring that there are (slightly) toned-down versions named Jerry and Mike out there.

Comment from: Shadowydreamer posted at March 24, 2005 7:36 PM

I use the name someone uses for themselves publicly. Whether nickname, handle or real name. If they used their name in newe posts, I would call them by name.. but they don't, so I don't. It was the way I was raised.

Now, as far as four on the floor referances go.. Why I do declare, a man who appreciates scotch, Robbie AND the Frantics? (Who's showing his age by REMEMBERING the Frantics as Four on the Floor :D) *Grabs a sack* It's a time to go huntin'!

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at March 24, 2005 7:40 PM

It's the way it always is. We start out discussing comedy, we segue into scotch, and the next thing I know, I've been stuffed into a sack and wake up on Prince Edward Island.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at March 24, 2005 8:05 PM

Well, can't add too much to a discussion about Canadian comedy outside of KITH - my exposure consists entirely of what I've heard on Dr. Demento. But I loved the Royal Canadian Air Farce's Tongue Patrol sketch (my particular favorite was the "Richard a Pois" line). I probably should pick up a few CDs.

I think the only reason that the "Daikatana" strip works is because, well, everyone already did that before the PA strip went up. Besides, the best Daikatana joke is from the first time travel storyline in Real Life.

You actually woke up on PEI? Damn, I as told you weren't supposed to be conscious until the Yukon, at least.

Comment from: Joshua Holbrook posted at March 24, 2005 8:27 PM

This reminds me of an argument the other day over Weird Al. We squabbled over whether he totally sucked or was a comedic genius. Then somebody said it was stupid to even CARE, so we shut up and started working on our math assignments like we were supposed to.

Well, that was only a little related.

Also: Eric Burns here? In Alaska? Yaay! (Even if he IS waay up in the Yukon...maybe he'll stop by Anchorage on the way) :P.

Comment from: Shadowydreamer posted at March 24, 2005 8:31 PM

He probably smelled a distillery.. (I do make poor Eric sound like such a lush, don't I?) ..Tho y'know, Newfies are infamous for Screech (raw cut rum), Nova Scotians are famous for their whisky.. PEI is Canada's potato heartland.. do they make vodka?

Tho I have to wonder at the routes my minions (great comic) take to get to Vancouver(ish) .. PEI and the Yukon? It's like they're doing the "everywhere but here" tourist trip through Canada. (Which is a very fun way to tour bars, invented by Spirit of the West.. but another story entirely)

I remember the Real Life strip, I remember ending up coughing my lungs out because I'd been laughing so hard and I couldn't breath. Damn that Greg Dean!

Comment from: Wednesday posted at March 24, 2005 8:50 PM

Doesn't everyone remember the Frantics, even if only thanks to the broad exposure of the usual material on Dr. Demento?

Royal Canadian Air Farce is the best example of Canadian humour available

I dispute this, Shadowy. Then again, I'm mostly disputing it on the grounds that most of the CDs are out of print (if downloadable), the radio shows are pretty much lost to poor archives and intellectual property tangles, and the cast took an inordinately long time to make the transition to extended form after losing John Morgan (let alone after *losing* John Morgan).

Last I heard, the team hadn't renewed with the CBC for a new season, and Ferguson/Abbott/Holmes were in the process of developing a new sitcom. I have no idea what's up with that, though. I have half wondered if a cast split isn't being considered.

It is, as stated, all about Codco. But everything I've seen of Monday Report so far suggests that it's the best thing on the blocks right now (that said, Corner Gas hasn't hit my radar yet). Rick Mercer can come to my house, &c.

Feh. New Brunswick's famous for... Moosehead. Hamilton was famous for serving Lazy Beaver at the McMaster pub. Geez. No wonder I didn't drink til I left home. That's it. Clearly me, my Radio Free Vestibule collection, and my phobia of the Keeners are going to die, alone, out in some park somewhere, after wasting my remaining days bribing little kids to buy me milkshakes.

Comment from: Wednesday posted at March 24, 2005 8:51 PM

Er. Clearly *I*, my Radio Free Vestibule collection, &c....

Comment from: Shadowydreamer posted at March 24, 2005 9:10 PM

Yes, maybe "available" was the wrong word.. but I still find RCAFarce a bit more accessible to the non-Canuck than This Hour has 22 Minutes. ^_^

..I'm not quite sure how I forgot Rick Mercer and his solo efforts. I shall take myself out and be flogged promptly.

Comment from: Shadowydreamer posted at March 24, 2005 9:14 PM

accessible? comprehensible? One of those ible words that Lister hates so much, anyway.

Comment from: Tangent posted at March 24, 2005 9:34 PM

mmm, Scotch...

Comment from: kirabug posted at March 24, 2005 10:10 PM

....desperately trying to catch up, darn class.....

I think I get the "abuse=comraderie=humor" thing, my friends and i tend to do it with putdowns... slapstick just isn't my thing.

I find the PA names vs. handles debate interesting. On one hand, if you're looking to separate the artist from the art, then the names are a start... but on the other hand, Errol Flynn will always be Robin Hood, regardless of what he was like in real life, and Harrison Ford will always be Indiana Jones (except when he's Han Solo, of course) and I don't really care to make a distinction. As actors, they might not always like that, but it's a risk of the business. (The only one who's truly made the jump from "roles I played" to "who I am" in my mind is Wil Wheaton, and even then I know the blog-Wil, not the human-Wil.)

Mike and Jerry choose to represent their opinions through their art through their pseudonyms, so it's expected that they're going to be represented in our minds as their characters. It's a risk of their business. If they didn't want to adopt that risk, they'd make it clear through other outlets (the newsposts/blog, for example) that they don't agree with their characters.

Christopher, I think it's great that you actually use your name for your posts. You're definitely in the minority. But then, until I clicked your link I didn't even associate you with Ubersoft. I couldn't even find your name on your homepage! I'm thinking you've made the conscious decision to *not* be your characters in the mind of your fans.

Me, I split the middle - "kirabug" acts as the owner of the "idea files" blog, which doesn't even cover 10% of my actual life, and no individual comic character in my (tiny insignificant) strip represents me either. On the other hand,"kirabug" has been my handle on chatboards since 1994, so I'm comfortable with the persona.

(I do crack up when someone shortens it to "Kira", as that would be a character from a very old short story I wrote - I'd prefer "bug" or even "anne")

...still catching up.... The only thing I know about Canadian humor is the Red Green show and the only thing I know about Canadian music is Moxy Fruvous. And isn't Quebec constantly trying to secede or something?

Tangent, it's been a long night, pass the Scotch over here, will ya? :)

Comment from: William_G posted at March 24, 2005 11:54 PM

Yup, good to know that my home of Nova Scotia is renowned for being a bunch of rummys. Though the term "Unemployed Rummys" fits better


Comment from: Eric Burns posted at March 25, 2005 12:05 AM

Never underestimate the power of Maine and the Maritimes in the Webcomics community! Mister Dressup demands our loyalty!

Comment from: gwalla posted at March 25, 2005 3:07 AM

Mel Gibson is a huge Three Stooges fan.

Mel Gibson made "The Passion of the Christ".

I think that explains everything.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at March 25, 2005 9:57 AM

Actually, Mel Gibson's involvement with the Traditional Catholics (or whatever they're calling themselves) explains The Passion. Although you could be snarky and say something highly offensive about religion (I'll refrain since I don't think everyone would appreciate the comment in the intended vein).

Now, I'll admit that I prefer verbal putdowns myself, but it isn't so much a question of whether or not I like the Stooges as a question of why anyone would. I used to like them much more in my youth, but slapstick is more accessible to a younger audience.

As for pseudonyms, gamers especially have a habit of blurring the lines between online identities and their real names. I go by 32_Footsteps almost everywhere (except LiveJournal - someone swept in and got the ID before me). It's actually to the point that I could legally get an ID card in the name of 32_Footsteps.

This doesn't change the fact that I do have a real name (Rick Healey, for those who don't want to go hunt for it). In fact, I frequently write as "Rick '32_Footsteps' Healey." 32_Footsteps is an aspect of who I am, one face of my identity. And I think it's only fair to see people call me "32" as much as they call me "Rick." However, it's pretty freaky when I get called "Mr. Footsteps."

But going back to that, Mike and Jerry have willingly identified themselves, and put themselves into, the characters Gabe and Tycho. I'd put good money on the idea that they expect people to identify them as Gabe and Tycho. It goes back to one important rule of picking a nom de net/nom de jeu: If you don't want to be called something, then don't take it as an alias.

As for Canadian music, I'm surprised nobody mentioned Barenaked Ladies... unless Canada is trying to disown them, they're the biggest Canadian band right now. Or anyone stretching back didn't think of Rush or The Guess Who. But with that said, I'd recommend people check out Great Big Sea. And somehow wrapping that back around, I first got into Great Big Sea on the recommendation of Josh Phillips, of Avalon fame.

Comment from: Wednesday posted at March 25, 2005 10:33 AM

We here at Websnark are all over the Great Big Sea, I tell you what. And, for once, I feel confident in making an assertion for the whole car.

BNL ... BNL are strange. I fell for them circa Yellow Tape, and it's not that I have any particular attachment to the idea of them as "only big back home," but I've had a much harder time getting emotionally involved with non-live material from Stunt onwards. (Okay, I can engage with about half of Stunt.) And, since I don't go to shows larger than 3k people unless it's, like, some very big deal indeed, I haven't seen anything current.

Jim Creegan's hot. Er. Anyways.

Ashley MacIssac and Natalie MacMaster. *shakes fist hard* It is all about them. Especially Ashley, AOR self-titled album or not -- I so need Live at the Savoy. It used to also be about Rawlins Cross (I still regret being too paralytically shy to dance at the one live show of theirs I saw, but too late now), and should be about Figgy Duff, but I don't own any of the latter and I should be shot for that.


Comment from: the_iron_troll posted at March 25, 2005 12:03 PM

Personally, I'm all about the Watchmen. BNL have their moments, certainly, Great Big Sea has talent, I guess, but I'm much more into the alternative goodness of the Watchmen. 'Brighter Hell' is one of my favourite songs of all time.

I dunno Wednesday, I thought their newest album 'Maroon' was pretty freakin' good. It's actually much more to my taste than their earlier stuff, and an improvement stylistically over 'Stunt'.

Creegan hot???? My brain, it is the broken...

And I have to agree, if you're gonna play in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in the band. Those crazy fiddlers - what will they do next?

I wonder, do you HAVE to be from Saskatchewan to get Corner Gas? I thought it was pretty good, although I'm not about to start watching TV again for it.

Comment from: Wednesday posted at March 25, 2005 12:42 PM

CREEGAN IS HOT. He is so on my List of people who are famous that I would be willing to nail so long as I didn't know them personally and they were therefore still sort of kind of fictional.

Creegan is hot. Bill Nye is hot. Alton Brown is hot.

Tyler is also kind of hot. I seem to be heading down the road of Tyler Stewart Living. He shook my hand once. He's cute too.

*shoujo eyes* -- er, what?

And why have none of us mentioned Captain Tractor? Where is my copy of "Too Far To Fall"? In this five-minute stretch, there is no better song, and I can't believe I haven't inflicted it on all my friends.

Maroon kind of didn't do anything for me. Maroon is kind of also not their latest album -- that's Barenaked for the Holidays, or Everything to Everyone if you're all about the not Christmas compilations with older material on them. (EtE *did*, however, work for me, but not as much as it should have. Normally, I just cut off at Pirate Ship, which has the song with my old neighborhood in it on it.

Fiddle is the best instrument ever anywhere at all, followed closely by electric fiddle, followed slightly less closely by the bagpipe. NOT INDIE.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at March 25, 2005 12:44 PM

Fiddle is the best instrument ever anywhere at all, followed closely by electric fiddle, followed slightly less closely by the bagpipe. NOT INDIE.

I'm so sending you some Dropkick Murphys.

Comment from: Shadowydreamer posted at March 25, 2005 1:53 PM

I've always felt Shania Twain was bigger than Barenaked Ladies.. and Nickelback.. and Tragically Dip.. I mean, hip.. and.. :)

And I have that creepy crawly feeling right now because I have the Guns of Brixton BLARING out of my stereo at the moment. I'm starting to think Mr. Burns has a slime mold reading my thoughts. (And it's because of DKM that I got my 3Deg Sunburn a few summers back. It all comes full circle..)

I do outdoor shows, I do crappy little clubs where they put the beer (or Sprite in my case) in ashtrays full of water so the cockroaches can't crawl into your drink.. I haven't done a stadium or colieseum since.. gosh.. 95?

Buddy Wasisname (and them Otherguys) is another great Newfie act. Captain Tractor's first 3 - 4 albumns are great Prarie-Celt. The Real McKenzies (out of Vancouver) are another Celtic-Ska-Punk band..absolutely fab. And.. I'll.. just stop there or I'll be spouting all day. ^_^

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at March 25, 2005 2:03 PM

Wait, Wednesday, are we talking "Almost Live"-era Bill Nye, or the one that has his own show? I'd buy the former.

Oh, but you don't really know about Canadian music unless you can quote a Men Without Hats song other than "Safety Dance" or "Pop Goes The World." I have to admit an odd weakness for "Living In China," myself.

Though I was much more about Maroon than Everything to Everyone. I thought Maroon was a good evolution of their sound, but still thematically BNL. EtE, though, was a prophetic album title - I thought it was bland, and they only really let themselves show in "Another Postcard." However, I have high hopes for a next album, whenever it comes.

And personally, I'd have to side with the cello as the best instrument ever. Has there ever been a song that wouldn't be improved by adding a cello (excepting, of course, those that already have them)?

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at March 25, 2005 2:11 PM

32 -- Wednesday's knowledge of Men Without Hats seems almost encyclopedic. Which, as a MWH fan myself, makes chatting with her heaps of fun.

As for "Almost Live" era Bill Nye....

"Speeeeeeeeeedwalker! The physically fit superhero who fights crime while strictly adhering to the rules and regulations of the American Speedwalking Society! Heel-toe! HEEL-TOE!"

Sorry. It just had to be said.

Comment from: ShelBelle posted at March 25, 2005 2:40 PM

I've never commented here before, but I'll say this. I love not only the comments, but the weird and wonderful digressions that the comments get into.

And you should all be smacked for not mentioning the Odds yet. *skulks off to listen to Nothing Beautiful for the fifty millionth time* :D

Comment from: Shadowydreamer posted at March 25, 2005 3:23 PM

I've seen the Odds a couple of times, but I've never bought (or stolen) any of their music. WHich isn't to say I don't like them .. but does say they didn't strike enough reosnance for me to.

Comment from: Wednesday posted at March 25, 2005 7:31 PM

Men Without Hats. OK. What do you want me to talk about?

I had a tape of Folk of the 80's I once.

One of my biggest regrets was somehow losing my copy of Folk of the 80's III on CD between Chicago and England. (I replaced it with vinyl, but I may never be able to do anything with that.) I realize there's been a subsequent reissue, along with Rhythm of Youth, but it's really just not the same. That one took ages of mall crawling up and down the east coast to find (finally tracked it down in Virginia somewhere). I miss it.

Um. What else? I bought the new one. No Hats Beyond This Point is okaaaay, but trying to mesh the lyric style from 21st Century with the instrumentation of Folk or Rhythm is just not a great plan. Even so, I mean, I'd probably buy an album of Ivan reading the phone book, which -- between that and the loose sequelitis going on with PGtW -- explains my fascination with Mitsou's Terre des Hommes in high school. (That and Mitsou being a babe. But. Well. See. Closeted at the time, didn't know.) But not why I still haven't managed to track down his solo work. I suck.

My favourite mix of Freeways is the Euromix. My favourite song from 21st Century is SOS, except for when it's the title track or Here Come the Nineties, but don't tell ANYONE about those other two, because that would be embarrassing. Sideways? What about it? Why weren't my two copies enough to make them have a record contract again? Sigh. Life after Diamond Head just was never the same.

Anything else?

Comment from: Wednesday posted at March 25, 2005 7:35 PM

Oh, and while we're at it? Larry Gowan fans? Represent, but be totally embarrassed while you're doing it. Who sang "Dedication" at bible camp? Whose house? RUN'S HOUSE.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at March 25, 2005 8:44 PM

Okay, I admit, I don't know terribly much about MWH (or any band outside of the semi-obvious one), but I do like learning more - and Wednesday already made it obvious she knew the band quite well. So I figured I'd see what she wanted to say on them.

And I just have to say, despite being in the totally wrong region, I loved "Almost Live." I still love doing my very own "Lame List - what's weak this week."

Comment from: gwalla posted at March 25, 2005 9:52 PM

I go by gwalla just about everywhere on the net, but I don't really think of "gwalla" as being a separate identity I role-play, or even a persona. It's just another name for Garth William Wallace online. It gets weird, though, when I meet people IRL who I first met online. Getting called "gwalla" in person just feels *wrong*.

In conclusion, Barenaked Ladies = awesome, and Ashley MacIsaac = *so* awesome.

Comment from: William_G posted at March 25, 2005 11:15 PM

This is funny because over on an ex-pat board I visit, some of maritimers have been making jokes about seeing Ashly MacIssac here in Korea teaching kindergarten given the state of his career.

Me, I'm gonna name "Let Your Backbone Slide" by Maestro Fresh Wes as one of the greatest acheivements in Canadian musical history.

Comment from: the_iron_troll posted at March 26, 2005 10:57 AM

I was specifically not counting the Holiday album. I did, however, not know about Everything for Everyone. I haven't been following BNL much lately, it would seem. Too busy with school and work and whatnot.

Hmmm. Men, what have no Hats. I've heard of them. They were pleasantly ok.

Comment from: Shadowydreamer posted at March 26, 2005 1:05 PM

You can dance, You can dance.. I send the subtle evil hand of Miss W. in the fact I know have Safety Dance stuck in my head. (Who actually preferred "Pop Goes the World.)

Comment from: Shadowydreamer posted at March 26, 2005 1:47 PM

send=sense. Brain is playing tricks again.

Comment from: siwangmu posted at March 26, 2005 5:52 PM

Firefly, Moxy Frvuous and Dropkick Murphy's (Murphies? Murphys? Why don't I know this?) in the same thread? It's like my birthday! Also, happy, fluffy reminder that just because I find PA hilarious and other people don't, neither of us is necessarily brain-damaged! (it's a line I have trouble with, given my tendency to live by the assumption that if we all had the exact same information and the same circumstances, we'd all make the same choices and that everyone is therefore understandable on some level--this may seem unrelated, but it leads me to assume that if I like something and you don't, it's because of some different context, expectation or experience, which leads me to pester the hell out of friends finding out _why_exactly_ they don't like something, which makes them feel like I'm just torturing them until they say they like it even if they don't. Walking the line between "It sucked because I didn't like it," "it sucked because of this objective factor that, even if it doesn't bother someone else, is undeniably present (i.e., TV show X is written by a team of monkeys)" and the constellation of middle spaces from "It sucked because I'm just not attracted enough to the context to invest in it" (I mean, is that a flaw or not? It's not objectively bad, but it limits the work's breadth of appeal) to "It sucked because British accents annoy me" (I nearly fell over when I first heard that one). It's just so tricky, because, on a certain level, comedy that doesn't make you laugh (or drama that doesn't affect you) has failed. With respect to its goal and you, it is attempting something which it does not accomplish, and in a certain light that does make it objectively bad. A failure. Not funny. But other people think it's funny. Arghh! Thank goodness Eric is here to make mild-mannered and highly reasonable posts laying out, if not an explicit theoretical basis for the problem, an apt solution to it, at least in terms of behavior (i.e., how not to be an asshole, even when it really seems like this ought to be funny to everyone in the world).

And, in conclusion, on this post: "It sucked, because I WILL DESTROY YOU WITH RUN-ON SENTENCES!"

Comment from: Shadowydreamer posted at March 26, 2005 10:57 PM

If everyone liked the same thing.. the line-ups to the loo would be awful.

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