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kottke.org posts about Old Custer

Founding Fathers, the untold story of hip hop

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 28, 2016

Founding Fathers is a full-length documentary film about the history of hip hop narrated by Public Enemy’s Chuck D. Everyone knows that hip hop originated in the Bronx. What this film presupposes is, maybe it didn’t? Maybe hip hop started even earlier than commonly thought in places like Brooklyn with DJs like Grandmaster Flowers.

I don’t know if this film ever found release anywhere…it’s not even on IMDB or Wikipedia. (via @sampotts)

Brilliant visualization of the Pythagorean Theorem

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 26, 2015

Everyone knows that the square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. What this video presupposes is, fuck yeah math!

Maybe Daniel is the real bully in The Karate Kid?

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 25, 2015

Everyone knows that The Karate Kid is the story of Daniel LaRusso, an undersized new-kid-in-school who, with the help of a wise mentor and unconventional training in the martial arts, is able to triumph over a gang of bullies picking on him. What this video presupposes is, maybe Daniel is the real bully?

To no one’s surprise, Johnny advances to the final round and karma catches up with Daniel when his leg is injured by the boy he wantonly attacked on the soccer field. However, just as Johnny is about to be awarded his trophy, Daniel is granted unnatural strength by the demon sorcerer Miyagi, enabling him to defeat Johnny and win the tournament in an upset.

See also more revisionist history of beloved media: Hermione Granger as the real hero of the Harry Potter books and Tim Carmody’s The Iceman List, which is about “classic movie antagonists who were actually pretty much right all along”.

Update: Another one to add to the list: Ross Geller is the hero of Friends, an intellectual and romantic man who is brought low by his so-called friends:

But the characters of the show were pitted against him from the beginning (consider episode 1, when Joey says of Ross: “This guy says hello, I wanna kill myself.”) In fact, any time Ross would say anything about his interests, his studies, his ideas, whenever he was mid-sentence, one of his “friends” was sure to groan and say how boring Ross was, how stupid it is to be smart, and that nobody cares. Cue the laughter of the live studio audience. This gag went on, pretty much every episode, for 10 seasons. Can you blame Ross for going crazy?

And like a Greek tragedy, our hero is caught in a prophecy that cannot be avoided. The show’s producers, akin to the immutable voice of the gods, declared that Ross must end up with Rachel, the one who shops. Honestly, I think he could’ve done better.

Miss Banksy, if you’re nasty

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 05, 2014

Everyone knows graffiti artist extraordinaire Banksy is a man. What this post presupposes is, maybe she’s a woman?

But what Banksy Does New York makes plain is that the artist known as Banksy is someone with a background in the art world. That someone is working with a committee of people to execute works that range in scale from simple stencil graffiti to elaborate theatrical conceits. The documentary shows that Banksy has a different understanding of the street than the artists, street-writers, and art dealers who steal Banksy’s shine by “spot-jocking” or straight-up pilfering her work-swagger-jackers who are invariably men in Banksy Does New York.

All of which serves as evidence against the flimsy theory that Banksy is a man.

Or maybe Banksy’s like the Dread Pirate Roberts?

The origins of the moonwalk

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 23, 2014

We all know Michael Jackson invented the moonwalk on-stage during a performance of Billie Jean at the Motown 25th Anniversary show. What this video presupposes is, maybe he didn’t?

What the video shows is that as early as the 1930s, performers such as Fred Astaire, Bill Bailey, Cab Calloway, and Sammy Davis Jr. were doing something like the moonwalk. Now, Jackson didn’t get the move from any of these sources, not directly anyway. As Jackson’s choreographer Jeffrey Daniel explains, he got the moves from The Electric Boogaloos street dance crew and, according to LaToya Jackson, instructed Michael Jackson.

Which is to say, the moonwalk is yet another example of multiple discovery, along with calculus, the discovery of oxygen, and the invention of the telephone. (via open culture)

Art forgery is high art in its own right

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 30, 2013

We all know that art forgeries are just cheap rip-offs of real art. What Jonathan Keats’ new book presupposes is, maybe they’re not?

Forgers are the foremost artists of our age.

I’m not talking about the objects they make. Their real art is to con us into accepting the works as authentic. They do so, inevitably, by finding our blind spots, and by exploiting our common-sense assumptions. When they’re caught (if they’re caught), the scandal that ensues is their accidental masterpiece. Learning that we’ve been defrauded makes us anxious — much more so than any painting ever could — provoking us to examine our poor judgment. This effect is inescapable, since we certainly didn’t ask to be duped. A forgery is more direct, more powerful, and more universal than any legitimate artwork.

See also Uncreative Writing, fake is the new real, even if it’s fake it’s real, and this paragraph from Joe Posnanski’s piece on pitching phenoms:

You have to understand that to a boy of the 1970s, the line between comic books and real life people was hopelessly blurred. Was Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man, real or fake? Fake? Well, then, how about Evel Knievel jumping over busses on his motorcycle? Oh, he was real. The Superman ads said, “You will believe a man can fly,” and Fonzie started jukeboxes by simply hitting them, and Elvis Presley wore capes, and Nolan Ryan threw pitches 102 mph, and Roger Staubach (who they called Captain America) kept bringing the Cowboys back from certain defeat, and Muhammad Ali let George Foreman tire himself out by leaning against the ropes and taking every punch he could throw. What was real anyway?

The books of The Royal Tenenbaums

posted by Aaron Cohen   Aug 21, 2012

Back in July, we covered the Criterion Collection release of The Royal Tenenbaums. Recently, Criterion Collection posted a gallery of 9 books and magazines from the movie, which because of said gallery, I want to watch right now.

Old Custer

Everyone knows [X], what this post presupposes is maybe [Y].

See also The Royal Tenenbaum portraits. (thx, alex)

Bill Clinton playing M83

posted by Aaron Cohen   Jul 03, 2012

Well, everyone knows Clinton played sax on the Arsenio Hall Show. What this video presupposes is… maybe he played M83?

Watch at :30 to see the hand claps sync. (★Interesting)

What if Shakespeare wasn’t Shakespeare?

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 24, 2011

Everyone knows that William Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare’s plays. What Roland Emmerich’s new film presupposes is…maybe he didn’t?

Professors of Shakespeare — and I was one once upon a time — are blissfully unaware of the impending disaster that this film means for their professional lives. Thanks to “Anonymous,” undergraduates will be confidently asserting that Shakespeare wasn’t Shakespeare for the next 10 years at least, and profs will have to waste countless hours explaining the obvious. “Anonymous” subscribes to the Oxfordian theory of authorship, the contention that Edward de Vere, the 17th earl of Oxford, wrote Shakespeare’s plays. Among Shakespeare scholars, the idea has roughly the same currency as the faked moon landing does among astronauts.

Do attractive athletes make more money?

posted by Aaron Cohen   Aug 19, 2011

In discussing whether Jeff Francoeur was worth the 2 year contract extension granted by the Royals, Jonah Keri wondered if Francoeur scored a more lucrative contract because he was handsome. Turns out, he probably did. As longtime Kottke acolytes, you already knew this phenomenon applied to regular people.

To put this result in perspective, we found that a “good-looking” quarterback like Kerry Collins or Charlie Frye earned approximately $300,000 more per year than his stats and other pay factors would predict. Meanwhile, quarterbacks like Jeff George and Neil O’Donnell, who, sadly, were not found to have very symmetrical faces, suffered an equivalent penalty.

Poor, poor, Neil O’Donnell. Did you ever wonder if good looking people get paid more because they’re better at what they do? Eli Cash’s follow up to Wild Cat and Old Custer tackles this question. “Well, everyone knows attractive people get paid more. What this book presupposes is… maybe they deserve it.”