NTWON: Easy

This month's feature is the Netflix original program Easy. On first glance, it seems as though Easy is just another comedy. But do not be fooled by the trailer's upbeat music and editing. This show provides a candid and realistic examination of actual problems that people face when in relationships of all levels of commitment and complexity. 

Netflix has pulled out all the stops for Easy, as the lineup is chock-full of famous names. The reason they are able to load the show with so many celebrities is because each individual episode is a self-contained story of its own. However, if you pay close attention, you'll notice a continuous narrative thread spanning across these eight stories. It's not enough to bring them toward any larger point, just a little something to reward dedicated viewers for their attention.

The thing that is most striking about Easy is how accurately the relationships are depicted, especially the sex lives of the characters. They don't try to glam it up with fancy angles or romantic music. The directors work to show average, everyday sex, which can be uncomfortable if you aren't mentally prepared to see such a thing. 

The relationships between the characters are emphasized to the point where they are at the center of all of the action. Many of the episodes do not have a conflict. They merely serve as character studies for when one type of person gets involved with another. The plots tend to be understated at best and nonexistent at worst, with most episodes ending as abruptly as they started. While this does break typical convention for television, it is not a bad thing at all. 

The thing that makes Easy such a great show is that it depicts the mundanity of modern living without being mundane itself. It shows real relationships between people who could plausibly exist and it shows real sex without being vulgar or embarrassing.

Give this one a watch if you're in the mood for something different.

My Papa's Waltz- Theodore Roethke

The whiskey on your breath   
Could make a small boy dizzy;   
But I hung on like death:   
Such waltzing was not easy. 

We romped until the pans   
Slid from the kitchen shelf;   
My mother’s countenance   
Could not unfrown itself. 

The hand that held my wrist   
Was battered on one knuckle;   
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle. 

You beat time on my head   
With a palm caked hard by dirt,   
Then waltzed me off to bed   
Still clinging to your shirt.

Mick and Willie Go to an Art Gallery

Mick Theebs and painter Willie Scaife hopped in the car and went to a gallery opening in Greenwich, CT, whose chief exports include polo shirts, hedge fund managers, and boat shoes. Once they reached the brand new Isabella Garrucho Fine Art Gallery, they were met with warm welcomes and overflowing cups of wine.

Isabella with some of the work on display in her new gallery.

Though the gallery is new, Isabella is far from a novice. She's a seasoned art dealer with several decades of experience. Feel free to stop by their location in Greenwich and see what they've got hanging.

Visit their website here.  

Mick took some photos of the reception to document the experience. Check them out below: 

NTWON: WolfCop

As fall approaches, it only makes sense to spotlight a crazy horror movie like WolfCop. WolfCop is a movie that falls into a class of its own, as there are plenty of comedic moments coupled with scenes of brutal depravity. Following in the footsteps of other comedy-horrors like The Evil Dead and Shaun of the DeadWolfCop flies off the rails about halfway through its brief 70 minute run-time. 

WolfCop starts slow as they hammer the point home that the main character, Lou Garou, is possibly the worst cop in America. For reasons that are left unrevealed, he is in a constant state of drunkenness. Don't expect to have any questions answered in this movie. Just let the absurdity overtake you as the chaos unfolds.

It should be noted (and viewers should be warned) that there is some extremely graphic violence and body horror in this movie. One particularly notable scene depicts possibly the most terrifyingly realistic transformation sequence ever filmed. There's also plenty of relatively mundane human on human violence peppered in as well to remind viewers that we don't need to be werewolves to mutilate each other. 

Much of the humor lies in the absurd visual gag of a werewolf dressed in a police officer's uniform doing everyday tasks like driving a car, getting laid, and shooting bad guys. Cinematically, there are many call backs to the old-school horror movies along with more modern classics. The quick cuts are especially reminiscent of Edgar Wright's visual style.

On the whole, WolfCop is a movie to watch with some good friends and strong drinks. Sometimes you'll be laughing at a joke and other times you'll be laughing because you don't know how else to process your deep discomfort. It's an absurd descent into madness that's good for a couple of laughs. 

CXL

In 140 characters or less,
describe what it feels like
to hold a newborn baby in your arms.

Turn the camera around and raise it high
to get a good angle as you take a selfie
with the wrinkled turnip-like subhuman.

Instagram the new life and reap a bounty
of likes and comments in a flurry
of hashtags like #blessed, #newborn, and #adulting.

In 140 characters or less,
describe the black bottomless pit of grief and guilt
and the fall of Eden. 

Set up a Go-Fund-Me to cover funeral costs
and collect a second harvest of words of encouragement
and “good vibes” being send your way.

Create a Facebook event for the memorial service and watch
as an army of blue thumbs pointing skyward accumulates
as the majority of attendees RSVP “Maybe”.

In 140 characters or less,
wonder if you have a soul, or
if your very existence is as ephemeral as the wind
and that any bit of documentation is another piece of you
immortalized in a string of 1's and 0's
thumbing their noses at entropy.

Watch as the retweets and likes pile
at your feet like the spoils of Troy
and wonder what's going to happen
when your battery dies.

Agents of Chaos - Mick Theebs

Mick made a small series featuring cats. These will be on display and available for purchase on August 28th at the Paradise Art Festival. 

Cats are agents of chaos. They have a mind of their own and subject others to their will. They are impulsive, fickle, and flighty. They are a perfect representation of the temperament of inspiration. 

Circus- Mick Theebs

Mick was recently named Poet Laureate of Milford, CT. 

To celebrate this, he is sharing a new poem titled "Circus".

I wake up every morning
to the sight of a massive hourglass
on a shelf over my bed.
I watch the sands sift through the neck
grain by grain
counting down breaths
and heartbeats
and opportunities to create.
Then I drag myself out of bed to start the circus.

When I was young, 
I was told to follow my dreams.
That I could do anything I set my mind to,
but I never did get the hang of being Batman
because my parents stubbornly refused to die
and most of the family money was tied up in property-
specifically the one we lived on.

What they mean when they say “Follow your dreams” is
“Follow your dreams if your dreams are realistic.”
Even then, realistic is another layer of doublespeak
whose translation lands somewhere between
the rock of profitable and the hard place called exploitable.
Because how many cowboys and princesses could the world actually use?

How soon do we tell the next generation the truth?
That they can be whatever they want to be
so long as there is mitigated risk
and a market for growth
and a long enough ramp to get you to the next round of funding
and opportunities to go public
and diversified revenue streams
because the shareholders expect at least a five percent return
at the end of the quarter.

When do we tell them they are teeth in a mouth
that is in a constant state of chewing and swallowing and shitting
and so long as the entire mouth is in working order
each individual tooth is more or less expendable?

When do we tell them they are blades in a combine machine
reaping, reaping, reaping through a field of projected infinite growth,
because growth is apparently the only thing
in the universe that isn't bound
by the laws of matter and energy.

Because no matter how many forests we chop down
or how much plastic we drop in the ocean,
there will always be room for unchecked growth.
And when every inch of this planet is burning neon bright
with Golden Arches and blinking Nike swooshes,
we'll blast off into motherfucking space
and look back at that glowing disco ball behind us
and wonder why the blue planet doesn't look so blue anymore.

When are we going to tell they next generation
that they are to be guided by empty stomach and throbbing gonad,
that they are to drown out the voices in the heads and hearts
wondering aloud if this is truly the best way to live?

When do we perform that about-face reversing the mantra
we've repeated like an actress trying to get her lines just right-
“Money isn't everything”
I guess it's technically not a lie when money isn't everything- 
because what are you going to do with liquid money anyways?
You need to diversify with property
and bonds
and a healthy portfolio of companies in strong industries.

These are the important things in life,
things they should teach in high school.
Why should I bother with math
when I carry a calculator in my pocket?
And don't get me started on the arts.
I mean, what's the point?
All art really is
is a bunch of weirdos with green hair
staring at a shit-smeared wall nodding pensively-
as if it means something.
Because what good has art done for me today?
I can't eat those cherry reds and lemon yellows splattered across the canvas.
And I sure as hell can't fuck  those beautiful marble goddess
with their perfect limbs stretched out in beckoning,
so what's the point?
Why do you want me to think?
Thinking isn't growth and there's damn sure no money in it.

We need to jump start the next generation on The Way It Is™ 
because otherwise they will dream
and imagine and create and have their hearts broken over and over again
until one day they're laying in bed
staring up at an hourglass counting down
breaths and heartbeats and opportunities to create
and they'll heave a heavy sigh before getting up and starting the circus.

The Brothers Grimsby

It's been a few years since Sacha Baron Cohen has released a movie of his own, but 2016 has brought us The Brothers Grimsby (AKA Grimsby). This weekend, I went to the theater and gave SBC's latest flick a watch.

Cohen plays a working class football hooligan named Nobby Butcher that reconnects with his long lost secret agent brother. In spite of being torched by critics left and right, The Brothers Grimsby was actually a pretty good movie.

There's a strong blend of action and comedy with the classic Sasha Baron Cohen heaping spoonful of absurd nastiness. The movie opens with a particularly well choreographed first person action sequence. I was actually surprised by how well done the action scenes were throughout the tight 83 minute run time. The producers certainly spared no expense in making things as crazy and over the top as possible.

Of course, this being a Sasha Baron Cohen movie, there were plenty jokes, many of which push the envelope of basic human decency. Once scene that stands out in my memory involves an elephant and two men that need someplace to hide. I'll let you fill in the blanks from there, but I will say that it ends with the two men covered in a foreign substance that's white and sticky. 

There are other scenes whose humor come from Nobby's bumbling attempts to be a secret agent. The writers take cracks at all of the classic spy tropes: gunplay, gadgets, and girls. Nobby tries his hand at these with varying degrees of success. A particularly funny scene has Nobby attempting to seduce an important target by adopting a Connery-esque accent and donning a silk robe. What nobody tells him is that the important target is actually just the maid trying to do her job.

Overall, I had a great time watching the Brothers Grimsby. Were some of the jokes off the mark? Yeah. Were some scenes depraved and disgusting? Of course. That's what you sign up for when Sasha Baron Cohen is the writer. But on the whole, I had a good viewing experience and left the theater satisfied. I can see why other people wouldn't enjoy this movie because it's definitely an esoteric subculture that Cohen is spotlighting. It's safe to say that most Americans know little to nothing about football hooligans. If you decide to sit down and give this a watch, I think you're gonna have a good time. 

Valentine's Day Cards

January, the month of hangovers and broken resolutions, has left and February, the month of love and alienation, has arrived and with it comes ALSO THAT Valentine's Day cards.

Click to see a large version of the inside/outside of the cards.

If you're interested in getting one for your sweetheart, send an email to alsothatwebmaster@gmail.com.

OR you can download your very own printable PDF right here:

NTWON: World of Tomorrow

Normally short films are reserved for Wednesdays, but Netflix has recently added Don Hertzfeld's latest animation: World of Tomorrow, so naturally I had to share it here, since I am a huge fan of his work.

World of Tomorrow is the story of a little girl who meets a version of her future self. She goes on an adventure through time and space, learning about the future and all of the crazy things that eventually happens to Future Emily.

True to the Hertzfeld style, World of Tomorrow is a poignant reflection on life, death, and love. Similar to It's Such a Beautiful Day (which is also on Netflix), an overarching theme is facing one's mortality. However, World of Tomorrow specifically focuses on how technology shapes humanity's quest for immortality. Of course, there are tons of morbid jokes and surrealist gags peppered in to keep things relatively light.

Overall, World of Tomorrow is worth far more than its 16 minute runtime. It's touching and sad and funny and will absolutely make you think. It has won tons and tons of awards, so even if my word means nothing to you, many other people have praised Hertzfeld's latest work for its heart and ingenuity. 

Watch it today.

Moon Hooch: Totally There

L to R: Wenzl McGowen, James Muschler, and Mike Wilbur

L to R: Wenzl McGowen, James Muschler, and Mike Wilbur

Not long ago a band called Moon Hooch appeared on my Spotify. I had never heard anything like it before and was transfixed. The genre-busting three piece comprises of the double threat of Mike Wilbur and Wenzl McGowen on saxophones with James Muschler jamming out on drums. As luck would have it, they were playing a concert close to my house. I got the chance to sit down and talk with these mad geniuses about their work. 

MT: How did you guys get your start as musicians? 

Wenzl: We didn't really meet all at the same time. There were sort of weird interactions that slowly led to a moment where this group formed. We never had intentions to form this band. But rather, we were trying to make it based on our own beliefs and making money for food and rent and this and that. James and I met at the New School. Mike and I never really got along. We had really opposite worldviews and opposite approaches to music. And for some reason I judged him very harshly when I met him.

Mike: He was vibin' me out.

W: I was vibing him out. Because I thought he had too much uncontrolled energy and I just couldn't be around it. Like, musically. 

MT: I see, you guys were like hot and cold.

W: Yeah, but then slowly hot and cold mixed and we became warm. 

James: So the first time we played together was on the street. Wenzl and I were busking and Mike was there on his horn. And that was the first time the three of us had ever played together as a group. We were playing on the street to pay rent. We were playing without the intention of forming a band. People started asking us what we were called and one day Mike blurted out “Moon Juice” just spur of the moment. So we went by Moon Juice for a month, but there are a few other bands called Moon Juice so we change it to Moon Hooch.

MT: How did you transition from busking to playing venues?  Basically, how did you get "discovered"?

W: Usually you think you need to get "discovered". But it's not really like that. For us, it was more like climbing stairs. One conversation leads to another thing which leads to an event where you meet people which leads to another thing. We would play in the subway a lot, which exposed our music to thousands of people. And then we got an email saying “hey, we're looking for a band for this TV show.” So we became the house band for Hamish and Andy's Gap Year. And that was just because some talent buyer saw us on the subway. And then we got an email from Mike Doughty of Soul Coughing and he invited us to come on a national tour with him. So we played 25 shows back to back all over the country, which was crazy for us to go from playing on the subway to a national tour.

MT: I've literally never heard anything like your music before. How do you guys develop songs?

M: It's different every time. Right now we're just all producing individual stuff on Ableton. Sometimes we'll improvise together. 

Mike Reveals a Unique SongWriting Technique

W: I think our music has been changing a lot recently. We've always had the question of how to integrate electronics. That's really been something that's been occupying us since the beginning of the band. Initially, I tried to write a program that would pick up the kick drum and translate the information into MIDI information and now we're using Ableton with a click track and we've stuck with that. This has given us an opportunity to expand exponentially in all directions to the point where we could become a different band. So now the question is how do we integrate electronics and still remain Moon Hooch? The answer is that Moon Hooch is an entity that makes music.

MT: So the majority of your songs are instrumentals, but there are a few vocal tracks mixed in. Are you guys trending in a more vocal-heavy direction?

M: Totally. I've been rapping and singing for a while now. 

MT: That was actually how I was going to follow up on that question. When I first heard your music the first thing I thought was “this would be amazing to freestyle over” and so I wanted to know if you've talked with any rappers about having them do verses over your tracks.

M: Yeah. Me. We also have a bunch of vocal songs, like six that I sing on. This set doesn't have that much rapping, but the next set we do will probably have three songs that I'll be rapping on.

MT: The lyrics of “Mountain Song” are pretty incisive and thought provoking. Would you say that you guys try to stand for something? 

M: Totally.

J: We definitely stand for something. We don't even try to, we just do.

W: I remember when we were playing a music festival three years ago and we were backstage and we were treated so nicely. James had just come back from India and had seen all of this poverty and people starving and was really emotionally shaken by it. We have so much wealth here and we just drown ourselves in it while other countries are starving.

M: We just over-consume. This festival was so gluttonous and there was so much waste. Way more than any of these artists needed was being thrown at them.

Moon Hooch goes deep on their veganism.

W: I think it's an addiction that society has. We're addicted to goals. Because we're a goal driven species. Right now we're confusing economic growth with personal growth. So we all want more money, more power, more wealth, more status. I have really successful friends and they're worried they're not successful enough, but they can afford whatever they need. They don't ever say “Wait a minute, I'm here right now enjoying this moment.” It's just the worry in itself. And all of this obsession with material wealth ties into our veganism, this addiction with material pleasure is tied to the insanity of eating meat three times a day, which is destroying our planet.

MT: What words of advice do you have for aspiring artists?

W: Be happy with life. And from that, what you're supposed to do in life will emerge.

M: Take every experience as it comes. Don't necessarily view each experience as a good experience or a bad experience, but rather an experience in itself. Try to be in the moment in that experience. Know that you'll learn something from it even if it feels like the worst thing in the world. You'll come out on the other side better. Always. 

J: We were talking earlier, Mike and I, how one grows out of suffering. A lot of artists suffer in one way or another. Whether it be either dissatisfaction with the art their creating, or turmoil in their lives or their emotions getting in the way since, you know, artists can be emotional people. Even when you're hitting your low point, that's where you grow the most once you come out of it.

Moon Hooch talks about Balance. 

Bowie

I was saddened to learn today of the passing of one of the most influential musicians in human history. I grew up listening to David Bowie's music and so I want to commemorate his memory in my own modest way. 

I am giving away a limited number of 4'' by 4'' stickers to anybody who wants one.

If you are interested, click the button below to go to the form. Unfortunately, I can only mail inside the USA. If you are international and really really want a sticker, send an email to alsothatwebmaster@gmail.com and we'll figure something out.

Finding Integrity in the Fountainhead

Ayn Rand is a polarizing figure in the world of literature as the progenitor of the philosophy known as "Objectivism". For the uninitiated, the driving force behind this school of thought is that selfishness is not an inherently bad trait and that a person's sole purpose is to pursue their own happiness while generally disregarding everything else, including the well being of society at large. Unfortunately, many people have latched onto this school of thought in order to justify their shitty behavior.

I cracked the Fountainhead having full knowledge of this philosophy. I wasn't expecting it to be a good book. I wasn't expecting to agree with anything written in the 753 page tome. I really only read it to confirm my suspicions about Ayn Rand and Objectivism- that it's a total waste of time and merely rhetorical leverage for terrible people to rationalize selfish behavior.

For the most part, I was right. The Fountainhead is not a well-written book. It's bloated with fluff and reads like a fan-fiction. Rand herself once said that the cynical female lead Dominique Francon was really just herself on a bad day. The characters for the most part are cardboard cut-outs meant to further Rand's intellectual agenda.

But I would be lying if I said I took nothing away from the Fountainhead and that parts didn't resonate with me. An overarching theme of the novel is integrity and the different ways it can be tested. While there were many aspects of protagonist Howard Roark's character that didn't sit well with me (he arguably rapes someone at one point) I will concede that I admired his commitment to his artistic integrity.

Howard Roark is lightning in a bottle- built up to be this superhuman force of creativity that is destined to revolutionize the field of architecture. However, nobody around him initially notices this. He is laughed out of architecture school and most firms. Eventually, he finds work with an old master of architecture who recognizes his talent for what it is and mentors him. Eventually, he slowly but surely develops traction and achieves success as an architect without ever compromising his vision. Of course, a bunch of other stuff happens in the novel, but it's not worth discussing here.

The thing that stuck with me was Roark's unwavering confidence in his work. No matter how many people told him he was wasting his time, no matter how many people laughed in his face, or poo-pooed his ideas, Roark kept right on doing what he was doing. He never got angry, he never fought back in any meaningful way. He just kept on until his eventual success. 

Now, I don't have the hyper-detached confidence of borderline psychopath Howard Roark, but this message of staying true to yourself as an artist is absolutely something I can get behind. It's important to make art that expresses who you are. It's not a science. There are guidelines, but no absolute rules. There is only what looks good and what doesn't. I try to remember that as I create and get frustrated with myself and compare my work to other artists. I always appreciate feedback, but I do not live and die by it because there is no pleasing everyone. First and foremost, I need to please myself with the work I create. Maybe not with the same unflinching rabidity that Howard Roark did with his own work, but somewhere in between.

Would I say The Fountainhead is a must read? Absolutely not. But I was pleasantly surprised by the exploration of artistic integrity and what it means to find success as a creator. Do I agree with every single thing I read? No way. But, there is merit in reading things that force you to broaden your horizons and expand your perspective, especially in this age of safe spaces and echo chambers. 

If you are a creative person or want to become a creative person, this book should be on your reading list. 

Work Doodles

Have you ever been in a meeting at work and found yourself drifting off? My go-to move is to doodle, as it keeps me awake and looking busy. I invite everyone to send me their work doodles via alsothatwebmaster@gmail.com

Here are some doodles from the past few weeks.