The Carl Online

Carlemageddon UPDATE
April 12, 2009, 2:36 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

On January 30, we at The Carl launched a campaign of benevolent conquest against our neighbors from the north at Carleton University. While we have yet to hear back from Carleton U’s Charlatan directly, there are murmurings on the Charlatan website about a possible response. See for yourself:

– Greg Hunter

The Armageddon/Deep Impact of Indie Quirk
March 6, 2009, 1:11 am
Filed under: movies | Tags: , , , ,

Is Zooey Deschanel’s life a vanity project?  It’s not really surprising that the future Mrs. Ben Gibbard would play a manic pixie dream girl, but in an audacious, self-imposed bit of type-casting, she’s apparently playing one in two different movies.  That are both quirky indie comedies.  That are both about Deschanel turning the lives of two relatable sensitive boys upside down.  That come out two months apart.  The difference, I guess, is that one panders directly to Pixies fans, and the other to those who prefer the Smiths.

The most disappointing part of this really is that Paul Dano has acted convincingly opposite Daniel Day-Lewis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s perpetually in need of a movie that’ll make him huge, and both are playing ’89 John Cusack here.

– Greg Hunter

What I’ve Been Doing Wrong
February 20, 2009, 1:46 am
Filed under: Internet, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , ,

Found footage blogs are a wealth of VHS-era kitsch, but clips from sex and dating advice videos are my favorite by far. Maybe it’s their supposed quick fixes to the complicated, enduring issues between men and women. Maybe it’s just the guy at the 1:47 mark in video #1.



From the Found Footage Festival:

– Greg Hunter

Have a Christopher Hitchens Christmas!
December 24, 2008, 3:55 pm
Filed under: Misc., Music, Politics | Tags: , , ,


I’ve expressed my fondness for Christopher Hitchens before on this blog.  In a time when political commentators are judged largely by who among them can shout the loudest, it’s hard not to like someone who’s such an unabashed stylist.  Hitchens is maybe our greatest living polemic writer, and it’s as much because of the control he exerts over his prose as anything else.  His favorite target is probably organized religion, and in this recent Slate article - – he vows to write a fiercer anti-Christmas column every year.  Now while I think Hitchens makes a great Grinch – calling the holiday a “moral and aesthetic nightmare” is an example of the elevated purple prose no one does quite so well – I don’t really buy his argument this year, that the U.S. “turns itself into the cultural and commercial equivalent of a one-party state” at Christmastime.

I’m a lapsed Catholic who plans to celebrate Christmas for the rest of my life.  Part of why I’m at ease with this is because the holiday as it is today seems like a bright, shining triumph of the secular.  At it’s core, Christmas is indisputably Christian, but do we really see Christianity casting a shadow over all American institutions each December?  Or do we see market capitalism using the holiday for all it’s worth, with Christians and non-Christians alike buying and selling lots of junk they don’t need?  (Less cynically: when Christmas gives Americans a pretense for family gatherings and gift-giving, I’d imagine those acts of gathering and giving are more important than the pretense itself for many people.)  Organized religions aren’t going anywhere, Christianity included, but seeing one of the two most popular Christian holidays fixed in such a secularized form should be, for someone like Hitchens, a source of holiday cheer.  And speaking of cheer, I’ve had this on repeat lately:

– Greg Hunter

08 FAVORITES – A Carl Mix

To download mp3s, copy and paste the link provided in a new window

AC/DC – “Rock ‘N’ Roll Train”

Come on.  It’s amazing they can keep doing this.

Be Your Own Pet – “Becky”

A lot of Get Awkward, BYOP’s second and last album, apparently sucked.  The lead single, “The Kelly Affair,” definitely did.  But not “Becky,” a smart, funny punk pop song that exists somewhere between Mean Girls and “Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell.”  The song was stricken from the US version of Get Awkward because of concerns over subject matter (it’s about school violence like a Roadrunner cartoon is about animal abuse).

Boston Spaceships – “You Satisfy Me”

It’s a relief and surprise that Robert Pollard is aging so gracefully.  In 2008, Fantagraphics put out a book of his collages, and his album with Boston Spaceships is thought to be his best since dissolving Guided By Voices.  On “You Satisfy Me” he sings like a big shaggy dog.  How do you make “seven in the morning” sound like that?

Fucked Up – “Son The Father”

People keep calling Fucked Up’s The Chemistry of Common Life a post-hardcore album, which doesn’t really mean anything (wouldn’t we at least be at post-post-hardcore by this point?).  Some reviewers are also saying it transcends the hardcore punk idiom, but didn’t half the bands on SST already do that 25 years ago?  (The only real innovation here is flutists.)  There’s nothing revolutionary about the album, contrary to the critical party line.  But that doesn’t mean it’s not really good.  Just call it a rock record?  A pretty awesome rock record?  “Son The Father,” particularly, DESTROYS.

Ghostface Killah (feat. Kid Capri) – “We Celebrate”

This one’s tricky.  The single was released in ’08, but the album came out in December ’07.  Just listen to it, though – it insists on being included.  Ghostface is not gonna be cut from the theatrical release of Iron Man and excluded from a mix on the Carl blog the same year.

The Hold Steady – “Slapped Actress”

The opening riff here is the sound of a ten-story building collapsing.  “Slapped Actress” makes a bunch of John Cassavetes references, but it makes me think of Leonard Cohen – this is a tower of song.

Jenny Lewis and Elvis Costello – “Carpetbaggers

Enjoying a Jenny Lewis song always makes me feel a little like a high school girl, but there’s a lot to like about “Carpetbaggers.”  The lyrics are corny, yeah, but it’s like everybody’s in on the joke.  And it sounds like someone forgot to tell Elvis Costello he was doing a faux-country duet – those vocals could be from a This Year’s Model outtake.

No Age – “Miner”

“Miner” is a great song from a great album, but No Age don’t fuck around live, either.  This show at Death By Audio was like, everything I want from a rock concert, and someone’s nicely captured it:

Santogold – “Lights Out”

The Bud Light with Lime remix is also gorgeous.  No joke.

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – “Glue Girls”

When Fuctape opened for SSLYBY in spring ’07, they were extremely friendly and gracious.  In spring ’08, Phillip Dickey, one of the band’s lead songwriters, agreed to an email interview with me and then never answered my questions.  It’s paradoxes like these that make such already fun power pop even more compelling.  I hope these big douchebags keep making such great songs.

Times New Viking – “The Early ‘80s”


Wilco – “Wilco The Song (Live on The Colbert Report

A while ago in The Carl I called Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky album “retirement rock,” and that’s still pretty much how I feel about it – don’t like it and don’t want to like it.  But this gem, played live on The Colbert Report, still makes me really curious about whatever Jeff Tweedy’s gonna put out next.  It’s Summerteeth-style pop plus Nels Cline’s weird ass jazz guitar heroics, and the sum is enough to keep me interested in Wilco The Future.

Wire – “One Of Us”

See: description, AC/DC’s “Rock ‘N’ Roll Train.”

– Greg Hunter

Sex, Chicken and Ostensible Symbolism
December 15, 2008, 2:28 pm
Filed under: Music | Tags: , , , , , , , ,


Not having a TV in my apartment means, among other things, that usually the only music videos I see are ones I actively seek out.  Recently, though, I was involuntarily exposed to “Sex On Fire,” by Kings of Leon.  It’s a terrible clip for what’s barely a song, but it does feature my favorite music video trope: the ostensible symbol, an object and/or image that’s intended to appear as if it has a codified meaning but almost certainly does not.  Chicken is a metaphorically empty visual motif in “Sex On Fire,” both in bird and food form.  (Previous examples of the ostensible symbol include the flaming trees in Jewel’s “Standing Still” and the indoor rain in Eve 6’s “Inside Out” videos – if you’re stuck on how to feign profundity, turn to the elements.)

[Video available here:

The ostensible symbol is an indicator of laziness and pretension, granted, but videos that feature it empower viewers in a way art that’s made thoughtfully and deliberately cannot.  These objects and images signify only that they signify something, meaning we as viewers can actually decide what an ostensible symbol conveys rather than speculating on what the director intended.  We’re part of the creative process!

My top three guesses decisions on what chicken means in “Sex On Fire”:

1.  Having sex, like eating chicken, is better with napkins and family members.  (Having sex on fire is helpful in preventing salmonella.)
2.  The chicken is an answer to Freud’s male castration anxiety.  (Cut a chicken’s head off and that sucker will just keep on movin’ for a while, so don’t even worry about it.)
3.  Kings of Leon have their cocks in hand during this song.

What are your interpretations?

– Greg Hunter

Muh-mmhuh-mmy Kennedy Center Honor

Earlier in the week, the Washington Post ran this article – – about Kennedy Center honors for Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, of mod proto-punks-turned-area giants The Who. I’m not hating here, really – in a situation like this, the appropriate response is probably, ‘Eh, why not?’ – but reading about the honor took me by surprise.

Formal, mainstream recognition of The Who is nothing new, nor is the corresponding irony of it all.  (Jackie O reportedly went to see them play after Tommy was a hit.)  And yet there’s still, to me, something a little mystifying about it.  It’s a cliché, sure, that Townshend and Daltrey, who wrote and sang “I hope I die befor I get old,” are now, um, old. For as long as I’ve been a fan, “too old to give a fuck/too young to rest” (from “Dreaming From The Waist Down”) always seemed more appropriate.  But the songs we’ll remember the band for were nonetheless fueled anger, confusion and alienation, even into the concept double album phase.  (Hell, the Sex Pistols covered “Substitute.”)

It’s been a long time since The Who did something new or transgressive, and just as long since they’ve made a good album, but whoever Pete Townshend is now, he was also once a dude who would destroy his guitar while on Quaaludes.  Observe the footage below: Townshend, more punk than most punk was, anticipating Richard Hell, Thurston Moore, Kurt Cobain, and almost every other meaningful figure in alternative music for the next several decades.  I can’t be the only one who still finds it kind of incredible that such (fundamentally) aggressive music can be received so comfortably, by so many peopple, with enough time.

Bonus video!

– Greg Hunter

Carl Christmas Present #1

A few nights ago, I sat down to watch Santa’s Slay, a pirated DVD of my younger brother’s. The film, from 2005, stars former pro-wrestler Bill Goldberg as a murderous Santa Claus. Santa’s Slay belongs to the vast body of the direct-to-DVD horror-comedies that are neither scary nor funny, which manage to suggest self-awareness while basically lacking it. What distinguishes Slay from the rest is its baffling opening scene. There are few familiar faces throughout the movie (an unfortunate exception is SCTV alum Dave Thomas, who’s too talented to be in it). For the most part, they’re concentrated in the first three minutes, where Fran Drescher, Chris Kattan and James Caan are seated together at Christmas dinner, the most bizarre collection of cameos I’ve ever seen. Now Caan’s track record isn’t perfect, granted – for every Godfather, there are 88 episodes of Las Vegas – but hearing Sonny Corleone call Mango a “half-a-fag” is still something kind of incredible.

– Greg Hunter

Great Moments In DVD Pirating


The Penis Hits The Net
November 22, 2008, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Campus, Internet | Tags: , , , , , , ,


Anyone who’s been reading our print edition this fall is probably familiar with The Carl’s thwarted campaign to preserve Carleton College’s giant cement penis, spearheaded by humor editor Matt Pieh.  (Those who need a refresher, please see the October 10 and 24 PDFs.)  The dong is long gone, as Carleton students know, but it appears online commentators are only beginning to acknowledge the bravery of Pieh and activists like him.  Last week on local blog Locally Grown, Griff Wigley described his the destruction of the penis and linked to our magazine ( On November 21, First Time Caller, Longtime Listener–a blog based out of my own mother’s hometown of Buffalo, NY–linked to the Locally Grown piece (  The members of Save The Penis didn’t ask for internet stardom, but they deserve all the accolades they’ve received.  And maybe, just maybe, the next penis will be saved because of their example.

– Greg Hunter

The New Final Frontier
November 17, 2008, 5:53 pm
Filed under: movies | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The summer before sixth grade, I would turn on the TV at 9 o’clock most weeknights and watch syndicated episodes of the original Star Trek series.  I enjoyed the show immensely (especially McCoy’s blunt rebuttals to nearly anything anyone said to him), but didn’t devote much more time to Star Trek fanhood once school started again, that year or ever.  What’s so fortunate about all this now is that I’m approaching J.J. Abrams’ spring reboot of the franchise with a fondness for Star Trek but no real investment in it -as long as the movie manages to be imaginative popcorn fare, I’ll probably really enjoying it without sweating the details like a lot of hardcore trekkies probably will.  (Alternately, I think the Watchmen adaptation, which I’m decidely more invested in, might be a hyperstylized, slow-motion turd.)  I have no idea what I’d think of the first real trailer for the movie if I’d stuck with Trek, but Simon Pegg’s looks like he’s having the time of his life playing Scotty, McCoy’s characteristically sullen, and there are ‘splosions that you just don’t see on Star Trek episodes from 40 years ago.  It’s an undeserved treat for all us fairweather fans.

(Trailer available at

– Greg Hunter

Moog to the Music
November 9, 2008, 10:06 pm
Filed under: Music | Tags: , , , , , , , ,


If you’re like me, you probably thought you could go the rest of your life without hearing another “Hey Jude” cover. But Walter Sear’s version, featured on the compilation of Moog-centric cover songs, is enough to make you think twice:

Also recommended: the version of Booker T & The MGs’ “Time is Tight” by…Dick Hyman?  (Have some class, bro.)

Appetite For Chicken N Beer
October 14, 2008, 3:46 pm
Filed under: Internet, Music | Tags: , , , ,

As much as I’ve enjoyed following Chinese Democracy‘s path to completion, I’m not sure I’ll ever actually listen to the album when it comes out.  But for the next couple hours in the CMC, I will be listening to Cassettes Won’t Listen’s Ludacris/leaked Chinese Democracy tracks mash-up album. Listen here:

-Greg Hunter

“Vote Obama”
October 13, 2008, 2:39 pm
Filed under: Politics, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

I try to monitor my emotions pretty closely when I follow politics.  Feelings of righteous anger, the thrill of hearing your beliefs amplified on a larger stage or echoed by a large body of people–these are fundamentally dangerous things.  So it’s with a slight sense of caution and embarrassment that I mention how gleeful professional contrarian Christopher Hitchens’ recent takedown of McCain/Palin made me feel:

Whether you agree with him or not–frequently, I don’t–Hitchens is undoubtedly one of the best political writers around in the areas of style and wit, and when he describes McCain’s “increasingly obvious and embarrassing deficit, both cognitive and physical,” well…maybe a slight grin of affirmation is okay.

Also, here is a picture of Hitchens being waterboarded:

– Greg Hunter

Three Things You Can Do For Harvey Pekar’s Birthday
October 8, 2008, 5:32 pm
Filed under: Cartoons, Comics | Tags: ,

1. Squint

2. Frown

3. This

– Greg Hunter