Swift Kicks

Taylor Swift in the midst of rapping, her blonde curly hair under a blinged-out cap sitting askew on her head, wearing a track jacket

The CMT Music Awards show last week opened with a laugh-out-loud — or at least grin-really-wide — collaboration between T-Pain, who even talks in vocoder, and Taylor Swift called "Thug Story".

It's worth a look if you're familiar with Swift; even better if you catch the references to not just her hit song "Love Story" but T-Pain's appearance in the SNL Digital Short "I'm on a Boat" with Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer, who collaborate as The Lonely Island. (You probably know them from the infamous "Dick in a Box" and the laugh-out-loud — or at least... nah, for me it's totally laugh-out-loud — Natalie Portman rap.)

Unread by Me

One of the several things I admire about Roger Ebert is his economy of words. No
doubt it helps that he likely spent at least his pre-fame years on strict word counts at The Chicago Sun-Times; also that his readership has become familiar with certain phrases of his which, though perfunctory, don't sound as judgmental as they might from an unknown source. He will often refer to a film as "adapted from the novel, unread by me". You have to marvel at such concise, neutral disclosure. The following books, graphic novels in the sense that the phrase has come to encompass just about any work of comics with a square binding, are as yet unread by me — but likely not
for long, and I have cause to recommend each.

cover of 'The Courageous Princess' showing a young lady riding a warthog

Rod Espinosa's The Courageous Princess [ISBN 978-1-59307-719-8] had a softcover release from Dark Horse in 2007. Espinosa is a respected adapter of literary works to comics, but this is one of his original tales. It was recommended to me as a birthday gift for my 7-year-old cousin by the manager of Showcase, my local comics shop, and I recalled an issue of Espinosa's Alice in Wonderland that had found its way to me. Would you believe the birthday girl began reading it quietly to herself while her party was still rolling along?


Cover art to Ximena Sariñana's Mediocre LP © 2009 Warner Music Group.

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Seat Happens

The words 'Love of Chair' in yellow over scene of young man in baseball cap sitting on a chair in a small, empty room

A few years ago I was thrilled to find a DVD compilation of childhood favorite The Electric Company. You can read a bit about it — and in particular its crossovers with predecessor Sesame Street — on the Muppet Wiki, as well as in more depth on Wiki-pedia.

I have fond memories of the show, from Rita Moreno's familiar opening shout to the animated Adventures of Letterman shorts to Morgan Freeman as Easy Reader to Skip Hinnant in Fargo North, Decoder, to — of course — the strangely silent Spider-Man
(on which more another time). What surprised me when I popped in the DVD was how much was unfamiliar, including the delightfully absurd soap-opera parody Love of Chair. The first episode of the serial is up on YouTube, albeit bootlegged; just when you think it's started running on fumes about two-thirds of the way through, it finishes with a couple of laugh-out-loud moments. Some interesting but spoilery trivia follows in the comments section below.