The Rise of the “S–tgibbon”

2012) mainly in politics and the recent use may come from
Veep‘s “gold-plated fucking shitgibbon” of April 2012. Since MetalOllie’s tweet came out in the middle of the anti-Trump storm on Scottish Twitter, many have assumed that he too is Scottish. EvilJam32, 21 Mar 2000,
alt.music.tragically-hip
Good luck and goodbye to the most sick-making, hypocritical bunch of shitgibbons i’ve yet encountered on the Web! Master8 uk, 28 Nov 2000,
alt.music.morrissey
get the f*ck off this newsgroup, shitgibbon!! This post originally appeared on Strong Language, a sweary blog about swearing. Its early history has been traced by Hugo van Kemenade, a resourceful word researcher whose biggest claim to fame is finding the earliest known use of the word selfie in a 2002 Australian forum post. As a metrical foot in poetry, the whole stressed-stressed-unstressed pattern is known as antibacchius.)
But shitgibbon didn’t originate with MetalOllie. It was also used by football fans during and before this. Pennsylvania state senator Daylin Leach got a lot of attention this week for a colorful expletive hurled at Donald Trump, appearing on Leach’s Facebook and Twitter feeds. (Metrically speaking, these words are compounds consisting of one element with a single stressed syllable and a second disyllabic element with a trochaic pattern, i.e., stressed-unstressed. “A gibbon is a primate most commonly found in parts of Southeast Asia, but “s***-gibbon” looks like it’s a Scottish insult.” Indeed, shitgibbon got attached to Trump when he landed in Scotland after the Brexit vote and tweeted that Scotland “took their country back,” despite the fact that most Scots voted against leaving the EU. Via email, Hugo shared some more of his impressive research on shitgibbon:

It was used on Twitter as an insult before the
famous tweet, including against Trump (e.g. I should’ve known HBO’s Veep figured into this, since the show (winner of another Tucker Award last year) has been the source of so much creative political obscenity. Chris Adams, 26 Sep 2001,
alt.music.bootlegs
If you want cheap then feel free to buy from any one of 10,000 shitgibbons out there…

Hugo notes that all three of these examples come from the British bootlegging scene, where a shitgibbon evidently referred to “someone who trades copies and doesn’t appreciate the effort it takes to record a concert.” It’s hard to know how widespread this usage was, since based on the metadata of the Usenet posts it’s clear that “two of these three examples are from the same person (and possibly the third too),” Hugo says. His spokesman Steve Hoenstine doubled down. In a 2013 interview with Iannucci in Time Out London, the “gold-plated fucking shitgibbon” line came up (it’s from “Frozen Yoghurt,” the second episode of Veep‘s first season):

Working in America doesn’t seem to have affected your love of swearing: I saw one episode of ‘Veep’ where someone was referred to as ‘a gold-plated fucking shitgibbon’. But the tweet that called Trump a shitgibbon, while in the style of Scottish ritual insults (known as “flyting“), was in fact written by an Englishman who goes by the name MetalOllie (aka Hamfisted Bun Vendor). Finally, allow me to share some insults in the same vein as shitgibbon, as collected by the indefatigable Hugo:

wankpuffin, cockwomble, fucktrumpet, dickbiscuit, twatwaffle, turdweasel, bunglecunt, shitehawk

And some variants:

cuntpuffin, spunkpuffin, shitpuffin; fuckwomble, twatwomble; jizztrumpet, spunktrumpet; shitbiscuit, arsebiscuits, douchebiscuit; douchewaffle, cockwaffle, fartwaffle, cuntwaffle, shitwaffle (lots of –
waffles);
crapweasel, fuckweasel, pissweasel, doucheweasel

That about covers it! The Philly Voice wondered what a “shit-gibbon” is, exactly. ‘It’s funny, because I’m not really a swearer myself. (He goes by @hugovk on Twitter and just “Hugo” elsewhere.) As Hugo shared on English Language & Usage Stack Exchange and Wiktionary, shitgibbon can be found all the way back in 2000 on music-related Usenet newsgroups. It started with trying to get the political scene accurate in “The Thick of It”: they swear a lot in Downing Street so you’ve got to put swearing in, but you need to be creative or it gets boring.’

So thank you, Mr. Iannucci, for whatever role you played in the rise of shitgibbon. Shitgibbon has a lot going for it, with the same punchy meter as other Trumpian epithets popularized last summer like cockwomble, fucknugget, and jizztrumpet. The outpouring of invective against Trump led Strong Language to give special recognition to Scottish Twitter in the 2016 Tucker Awards for Excellence in Swearing. But as he tweeted at the time, “I just WISH I was Scottish.”
Leach’s “fascist, loofa-faced, shit-gibbon” was clearly inspired by MetalOllie’s “Cheeto-faced, ferret wearing shitgibbon” (which proved so popular you can even buy it on a mug). Veep creator Armando Iannucci carried that over from his BBC political satire The Thick of It (starring Peter Capaldi as the super-sweary Malcolm Tucker, the patron saint of Strong Language). As Leach’s “fascist, loofa-faced, shit-gibbon” line made the rounds on social media, he didn’t back down from the characterization (which was inspired by reports that Trump had threatened to “destroy the career” of a Texas state senator over the civil asset forfeiture issue).

Elizabeth Warren Persists Some More, This Time With a Surprise Daily Show Appearance

But Warren herself remained resolutely positive about the outcome: “Millions of people are now reading Coretta Scott King’s letter,” she told Noah, calling the aftermath a recipe for “a better democratic conversation.”
The letter in question was written by King in 1986 to oppose Sessions’ nomination to the U.S. But I’ll stand up to Dr. Alabama senator Jeff Sessions was confirmed as attorney general on Wednesday, but Sen. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama at the time. McConnell even unintentionally coined a feminist slogan by saying, “She was warned. On Tuesday night, Warren attempted to read a damning letter about the nominee written three decades ago by the late Coretta Scott King. She was given an explanation. “Mr. King’s dead widow”) and went on to question why four of Warren’s male colleagues—Tom Udall, Jeff Merkley, Sherrod Brown, and Bernie Sanders—were permitted to read from the same letter without facing the same censorship. On being forbidden to read the letter on the Senate floor, Warren had this to say:

You notice the Republicans are not saying, “Hey, those aren’t the facts,” or “something has changed,” or “he did all these other things
afterward.” No, what they’re saying is, “You don’t get to talk about that.”

You notice the Republicans are not saying, “Hey, those aren’t the facts,” or “something has changed,” or “he did all these other things
afterward.” No, what they’re saying is, “You don’t get to talk about that.”

The Senate voted 52 to 47 on Wednesday to confirm Sessions as attorney general. Elizabeth Warren, for one, didn’t make it easy for him. Noah started the segment by mocking McConnell’s spinelessness in opposing the president (“You said I couldn’t stand up to Donald Trump, and I couldn’t. But Warren was interrupted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who used an obscure rule that prohibits senators from impugning their colleagues to formally silence Warren. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
Warren wasn’t done persisting, though. Sessions has used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens in the district he now seeks to serve as a federal judge,” wrote King, accusing Sessions of obstructing the rights of black voters and of “punishing” civil rights activists by using selective prosecution. She finished reading King’s letter on Facebook Live and followed up again on Wednesday, just ahead of the vote to confirm Sesssions, by making a surprise appearance on The Daily Show to discuss the controversy with host Trevor Noah.

At Last, You Can Live in the House Made Famous by the Heartbreaking Documentary Grey Gardens

It’s a little weird to think about someone with $20 million to drop on a summer house being attracted by its association with a movie that is, among other things, an empathetic and occasionally troubling portrait of mental illness and the way wealthy families abandon or bury their unpleasant secrets. Now, for a mere $20 million, you, too, can live the life of Big and Little Edie Bouvier Beale, as their former East Hamptons home is on the market for the first time in 40 years. Sadly, the house is no longer the picturesque death trap depicted in David and Albert Maysles’ film, having been purchased shortly after Big Edie’s death by Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and his wife, Sally Quinn, who according to Newsday “spent the month of August at the home most years until Bradlee died in 2014.” But on the plus side, property values are way up, thanks to the Maysles’ documentary, the musical and the HBO movie based on it, the high-fashion collections it inspired, and the Rufus Wainwright song about it, to name just its most prominent pop-cultural descendants. In the classic documentary Grey Gardens, two once-wealthy women live in squalor among the decaying ruins of their family’s ancestral home. But hey, it’s got great bones.

Fifty Shades Darker Reveals Christian Grey’s Shadiest Secret Yet: He’s a Chronicles of Riddick Fan

Riddick isn’t the only poster up to grace those walls—one for the UFC is also prominently displayed—but boy oh boy was it the one that caught audiences’ attention:
It’s hard to imagine Christian Grey, who spends his days doing Important Business Things and his nights tying up women for his sexual gratification, being a fan of the inarguably dorky Vin Diesel sci-fi franchise that spans three movies, a straight-to-DVD sequel, video games, novelizations, and more. Blessedly, Fox 5 reporter Kevin McCarthy had both the foresight and keen journalistic instincts to ask Jamie Dornan about his character’s Riddick poster in an interview for the film, and it turns out Dornan personally approved the decision:

“There was sort of a limited discussion with the art department about what would be up there and they ran some stuff by me and some stuff I just thought would be kind of funny to get up there. It’s also a film that was made by Universal and the timing was right so that sort of played into it a little bit as well.”

Christian is 27 in Fifty Shades Darker, which means he would have been around ten years old when the first installment, Pitch Black, was released, and that his teenage years would perfectly align with peak Riddick. Afterwards, they lounge on Christian’s bed, talking about his difficult past, or his relationship with his mom, or something—I really don’t remember, because at the screening I attended, the entire conversation was drowned out by peals of laughter. Midway through Fifty Shades Darker, heroine Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and her brooding beaux Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) slip away from an elaborate masquerade ball at Christian’s home to faire la bête à deux dos in his childhood bedroom. And so, let it be known by all that Christian Grey—gazillionaire, sexual sadist, helicopter pilot, and the man singlehandedly keeping gray tie manufacturers in business—is also, canonically, a huge nerd. You see, as Christian and Ana bask in the afterglow of some of their “kinky fuckery,” looming over Christian’s shoulder you can clearly make out what is surely the greatest prop in the entire movie: a framed Chroncles of Riddick poster, hanging right there for the world to see, on Christian’s wall.

Visionary Puppies

“It’s just a really interesting phenomenon that if you’re running the company that does nothing, you can feel like king of the world,” he tells Wolfe. Read the rest of the pieces in the Slate Book Review. His bullying, surreptitious campaign against Gawker Media, which he swore to litigate out of existence by any suit necessary after one of its sites wrote that he was gay, rates a brief, just-the-facts treatment. John Burnham, the one with the asteroid-mining idea, is awkward in the classroom but an autodidact who thrills at the notion of taking Thiel’s $100,000 to forgo traditional schooling; he ends up “pivoting” repeatedly as each of his Next Big Thing ideas fails to take off, and he eventually does go to college. Whether Thiel’s radical libertarian outlook and declinist view of American innovation mark him as emblematic of Silicon Valley or as an eccentric, these ideas have never been worthier of interrogation. That chumminess might have been the germ of a revealing, insider-y unpacking of Silicon Valley and the utopians, dystopians, geniuses, and strivers who populate it—a This Town of the Left Coast geek elite. But Wolfe doesn’t seem interested in mounting a critique of Silicon Valley writ large that is anywhere near as perceptive as Burnham’s, and she certainly doesn’t pursue the uglier directions that Thiel’s view of the universe has taken him. But figures like Thiel, both outliers and central cogs of Silicon Valley’s dream machine, aren’t ominous for the moonshots they take and the ambitions they describe. It’s true that Thiel’s interests include things much loftier than earning a mint, like life extension. They’re ominous because they keep trying to inflict their harebrained ideas on the rest of us. There is no greater subject of fascination in Silicon Valley right now than Peter Thiel, seminal Facebook investor, PayPal Mafia don, Palantir founder, billionaire venture capitalist, oceanic city-state enthusiast, sworn enemy of political correctness, scourge of Gawker Media, recent New Zealander, prospective vampiric consumer of young people’s blood, and President Trump’s chief envoy to the CEOs of the tech industry. In taking the fellowship, Burnham and his peers attempted to realize a particular utopian dream of Silicon Valley heavyweights: that they could “stop out” of the old, orthodox system; that they might embody the new tech industry’s meritocratic ideals; and that, in the industry’s parlance, they might change the world. Or you might describe him as Alexandra Wolfe does in Valley of the Gods: A Silicon Valley Story: He is the tech sector’s “first philosopher,” who possesses “the big ideas, contrarian outlook and a willingness to back crazy concepts,” and who is, as Wolfe acknowledges in her author’s note, a friend. It said, ‘If you’re so good, let’s take the best and brightest among you and see if you can prove it’—and maybe the fact that they didn’t start billion-dollar companies didn’t matter.” Even if the fellows didn’t get out of the experiment what Thiel intended, she writes, the experience was still worth the doing as a growth experience for them and especially for its core tenet, “the idea of breaking away from what an institution enforced and had to be.” And yet even Peter Thiel, she concedes, “couldn’t necessarily create” success stories like his own, even as his own triumphs have convinced him that only he possesses the right vision for a better future. And yet, though Thiel hovers above Wolfe’s narrative like an Oz-like godhead, he is barely a presence in it, except when he’s the recipient of its adulation. Wolfe describes the region, evocatively, as a place founded by “visionary puppies who realized that the Internet would become the world’s first great new industry in a half century—created, developed, operated, and more important, owned by children.” But the energy begins to lag quickly, as when Wolfe, visiting the shared home of several Thiel Fellows, pauses to offer a deadening description of the contents of their fridge: “It was fully stocked with sausages, vegetables, pasta, fruit, and loaves of bread from Whole Foods.” Pasta! The rest of the country has CrossFit gyms and jerks on Segways, too. The narrative ends before the 2016 campaign, during which Thiel was Silicon Valley’s only prominent backer of Trump. —
Valley of the Gods: A Silicon Valley Story by Alexandra Wolfe. Simon & Schuster. (Mark Zuckerberg did it, after all.) But as Burnham realizes, to the people standing between a visionary and investment capital, changing the world actually means being profitable. Less boring are Wolfe’s main subjects, the Thiel Fellows, most of them the kind of young, brilliant oddballs that the culture founded by those original visionary puppies continues to cherish. While the Thiel Fellowship continues, and being accepted to it is tougher than getting into Harvard, it is now more like a gap year, requiring just one year out of school. The author is a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and the daughter of Tom Wolfe, the New Journalism pioneer and author—a lineage that might not be fair to note except that Wolfe fille invites the comparison with at least two references to Ken Kesey (the subject of her father’s beloved The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test) and a chapter titled “Asperger’s Chic,” a plain nod to her father’s liberal-ribbing essay “Radical Chic.” Her prologue certainly kicks off the book with a bit of Wolfean verve, hop-scotching through the haunts of Silicon Valley’s casually attired oligarchs and the investors and engineers riding their vapors. And though many of those initial Thiel Fellows remain strivers in Silicon Valley—1 in 10 went back to college, by the way—the ones that populate Wolfe’s book seem to spend much of it being, well, lost and miserable. Instead it largely provides her access to Thiel’s first formal class of acolytes, a group of young men and women who in 2011 Thiel paid to skip college and attempt to incubate ambitious, world-shaking ideas, like asteroid mining. There’s the deck lounge overlooking the “Olympic-size pool skirted in fuchsias” at the Rosewood Sand Hill hotel in Menlo Park, and Prius-driving, Blue Bottle–guzzling entrepreneurs in Palo Alto, and the “Left Coast Ladies Who Lunch,” who “do so over Clif Bars while walking the Dish, the popular hiking trail on Stanford property.”
Eventually Valley of the Gods reveals itself in part as a tour through Silicon Valley’s cultural mores, from its group houses and startup accelerators and dating scene (insofar as it has one) to its highest-flying obsessions, like human immortality and advanced A.I. To Wolfe, that outcome is no indictment of the project itself. “In the end,” she writes, “the Thiel fellowship was a microcosm of the millennial generation. Wolfe never hesitates to conjure up a sense of place to heighten the absurdities of her book’s setting, but the occasional polyamory compound aside, those places, at least in her telling, turn out to be kind of boring.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Producers Tell the Stories Behind Nine Songs From Season 2

“Love Kernels”
“Even before Lemonade came out, we realized what we hadn’t really done was follow the trend of music videos these days, which are often short films. They said we could perhaps have them next season if we had a pressing need, but that’s the only time we’ll ever let you do it. ‘Shit Show’ is a good example of that, where it takes a million tries to even come up with the idea; we’re switching genres, we’re having numerous conversations, and we’re running back and forth in the office. I really love dystopian topics in general, so the idea of taking it to the fifth degree, where they want to create a 1984-like world where the only thing that matters is their friendship, was appealing.” —RB
“Remember That We Suffered”
“We knew we were going to do a back-to-Scarsdale episode. So we went to the network again and asked for the bleeps for ‘Shit Show.’ We asked for three, and got two.” —Aline Brosh McKenna
“We Tapped That Ass”
“What happens is Greg leaves and there was a strong sense that there needed to be a continuation of the divine and the continuation of him haunting her. One that was very important for Rebecca and the show and for us. Telling the seemingly wacky narrative of a lawyer who makes a cross-country move from New York to West Covina, California, to win back an old boyfriend after a chance street encounter, let’s just say, well, the situation’s a lot more nuanced than that. With all of these modern songs, they’re all doing their own thing. There were a lot of discussions and the songwriters went down a number of different paths, and then we would come together and talk about it frequently. We were talking about wanting her to have some sort of song that Rebecca and Valencia see in their heads. If you’re looking for one song in the entire season that we spent the most time talking about, it’s this one. It started out as a ghost-haunting song and as soon as somebody said the words ‘tap that ass,’ it came together. There’s something very cutesy about that premise. For two seasons, the CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has found wonderful ways to subvert rom-com tropes in favor of more daring, genre-bending, and just plain funny depictions of modern romance. In their heads, they’re being seduced into being obsessed with this girl. “My background of doing sketch comedy reflects that, because I approach the songs like sketch-comedy songs. The interesting thing about writing that song was you could almost see it being a Marilyn Monroe song, like, trying to figure out the actual math of it all. Originally, it was going to be a wedding. My son just had his bar mitzvah, so that was a very ripe opportunity still fresh in my mind. It should be an ‘opposite’ or something that doesn’t quite fit. That’s really what that song is. In a way, that’s the spiritual sequel to the second episode in the first season: ‘Josh’s Girlfriend Is Really Cool!’ It’s Rebecca and Valencia developing an obsession with Anna in the same way that Rebecca became obsessed with Valencia. In the writers room, we were talking about songs like ‘Spice Up Your Life’ that paints this picture of we’re taking over the world with our friendship and love. One thing that’s funny is that he was originally just scheduled to appear as the Santa Ana winds guy, but it was super-confusing, so we cut his first appearance and added the idea that he’s a weatherman. So, what was the flip side? That seemed like a really interesting song idea, but we had to add a comedic take to it. It was a really fast turnaround.” —ABM
“Santa Ana Winds”
“That one was a really difficult story to crack, writing-wise, because we wanted to do this idea of ‘you having a sex dream of someone you work with and then it’s super uncomfortable.’ Then it expanded out to everyone having weird dreams that aren’t all necessarily sex dreams. Same with the music videos. Vinny is a very, very dedicated tapper and that’s also Santino’s strength as a dancer. So the take was to get overly metaphorical with it, and have it be super-dreamy and super-trippy in this self-indulgent way.” —Rachel Bloom
“The Math of Love Triangles”
“Like the way you write musical theater, we thought about what emotions Rebecca was feeling at that point in the show. Oh, Marilyn Monroe, definitely. Leaning into this idea of the group having very distinct personalities was very fun. So the question was how to find the song that really conveyed all that love that he had for Rebecca, his good-bye, and the ‘I need to not be around you’ factor. Why are you so obsessed with this idea of ‘don’t come between me and my friends?’ There’s this offensiveness to those songs that’s really funny. Even when we were writing the episode, every once in awhile she would break into the weeeeeeeee. I got in a booth with Adam and we collaborated on it. But Aline brought up a good point and was like, I’d rather not write a song for a young lady who’s fairly famous on our show called ‘Stalk Me.’ We were like, wow that’s completely fair. The way to elevate it from being cute and clever to being funny and making fun of a genre is to completely ignore math and have the guys try to teach her math.” —RB
“It Was a Shit Show”
“That was a huge challenge from a storytelling perspective because it’s a good-bye to a very, very important character on the show. We had these bleeps on hold in our bank account! The bridge was completely improvised and Adam created music around it. Originally, the song was called ‘Stalk Me,’ actually. We were like, okay, nobody is going to come between you and your friends. Part of the challenge in doing that, especially when you’re doing a comedy song, is that you want a very specific template in mind. And as someone who had been in a love triangle many, many years ago, there is a selfish oh, little ol’ me feeling that I wanted to capture. It’s just a song that calls for swearing, Aline! “Ninety-eight percent of the songs we do are comedic,” the show’s star and co-creator Rachel Bloom tells Vulture. This is a slightly less offensive way of conveying that. We were writing the story and putting an outline up, and talking about the Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons sound, and Rachel got very giddy and started walking around the room going, weeeeeeeee. By the time we teased it in the third episode, we knew it was going to be a full song at some point. It seemed like the natural song for a love triangle. So what’s the comedic version of that? The team probably wrote 15 or 16 versions of different types of songs. It was hard because they did have a love story that was unconventional, and he doesn’t say, ‘I love you,’ until the minute he’s leaving her. She was in the middle of an actual love triangle, so we wanted to fit in this self-indulgent, conflicted emotion. I just really wanted to do a Spice Girls number. Like ‘I’m So Good at Yoga,’ we wanted them to have a fantasy sequence that lead into their obsession. We were thinking it was going to be Audra Levine’s wedding, but then because we had our own wedding stuff coming up we decided to simplify it a bit by making it a bar mitzvah. This article originally appeared in Vulture. As soon as the trio had the idea, they stepped out, came back into the writers room, and sang it to us. So we added that little blip of him being the weatherman wearing that suit and moving in a certain way, and that was a last-minute story addition to justify the song. He put the ‘Period Sex’ vamp on loop and it was a combination of making shit up, going into the writers room for a few minutes, coming up with some more jokes, and editing it from there. Who is actually going to come between you? It’s weird because in some ways that song can’t be taken out of context—as a song itself, it’s silly, but I think the best context is to understand, This is what Rebecca wanted to sing all season? These dreamy, trippy short films. We spent a ton of time mapping out the story and we definitely wanted to do Frankie Valli–style of music; it’s something we had been talking about for a long time. So that’s another song that came rather quickly. This kind of seductive, young girl, slow pop song. The tapping came about because Vincent and Santino are both tappers. Sometimes the baby is breaching backwards. It’s this idea of what unrequited love feels like, which is kind of like these literal love kernels; these kernels of appreciation you get that help you hang onto your obsession. Automatically, we’re always looking for ways to subvert tropes in songs.” Crazy’s co-creator, Aline Brosh McKenna, wholeheartedly agrees: “In the writers room, we’re steeped in it in both ways—what it’s like to do a rom-com conventionally, but then also we spend time deconstructing it.”
Ahead of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s second-season finale, Vulture spoke with Bloom and Brosh-McKenna about nine songs performed on the show—almost all of them romantically inclined—and the stories behind each one. The song is kind of disgusting but also really empowering.” —RB
See also: The Best Show on TV Is Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Finding a seamless way to integrate it into the story was challenging, because we don’t normally do things like that and the Santa Ana winds guy isn’t a regular character. The only way to parody that or pastiche it is to pastiche the very idea of the artsy piece itself. You know, sometimes these songs are birthed in a very laborious fashion. We separately had this idea of a very specific California thing, which is the Santa Ana winds and how they make people behave. So we changed the title, which I think is also great, and doesn’t encourage people to stalk Brittany Snow.” —RB
“Friendtopia”
“We were thinking about what the epitome of girl power and girl-power pop is, and the Spice Girls literally coined the term ‘girl power.’ Every other song from the Spice Girls is legitimately like, These are me and my friends, nothing is ever going to come between me and my friends, don’t come between me and my friends! This is, when you think about it, the scene where he finally says, ‘I love you,’ after really missing his chance. But not with this one! There were a lot a ways to go about doing it, but at the end of the day, we were like, What about a seduction song? Rachel and Jack and Rachel’s husband Dan Gregor had previously done an album of Chanukah songs, and one of the songs was called ‘Think About All the Dead Jews,’ which is quite funny and thematically linked to this in the reasoning that Jews can’t get away from injecting misery into happy occasions. You can see that the guy got imprinted in Rebecca’s head.” —ABM
“Period Sex”
“‘Period Sex’ was a song I really went to battle for all season. That’s how it gets into her mind. I was like, We are making this happen! Whatever the pattern of the funny you’re playing in the song is, it should be like fighting that genre. One of the templates was ‘Good for You,’ by Selena Gomez; she said the word ‘good’ really weird in that song. Aline and I had both been reading this book called Unrequited, by Lisa Phillips, which is a wonderful read about unrequited love. During the first month of writing, there were a lot of versions of Rachel and Adam [Schlesinger] and Jack [Dolgen] popping in and out and trying different versions of a good-bye song. We had a thing last year where we tried to do some bleeps for a certain song, but the network said no, so we couldn’t have them last year. As soon as the idea of ‘tap that ass’ came, it was just a question of executing it and making it not too dirty for television.” —ABM
“Research Me Obsessively”
“Isn’t Brittany Snow the best? I remember Rachel came to me and said, I don’t know how to write this song without swearing. Rachel had this brilliant idea of the two of them coming back to haunt her.

La La Land May Be a Shoo-in for Best Original Score, but Here’s Who Really Deserves the Oscar

Levi did justice to Jackie—or at least to Natalie Portman’s Jackie—here, and in the process, delivered the most striking score in the bunch. This somewhat complicates my annual, wholly subjective ranking of the nominees in terms of musical interest and merit—but here goes! Lion – Dustin O’Halloran
One thing recommending the cohort of music this year is, if not bracing originality, then a noticeable effort on the part of the composers to create unique and coherent sonic worlds that feel of a piece with their films. Like the overtures and entr’actes that are common on Broadway, Hurwitz’s “score” reads to this listener as filler, not a separate body of work. La La Land – Justin Hurwitz (underscoring only)
I often joke that I was born without the part of the gay genome related to appreciating musicals, so this Hollywood fairytale was never for me. I can jam to this quasi-minimalist vocab as much as the next guy, but it’s getting tired. To his credit, O’Halloran has turned in a handful of more atmospheric cues (e.g. O’Halloran’s work for Lion gets last place in my ranking because, while musically engaging, it feels the most tacked-on. Jackie – Mica Levi (Micachu)
Usually once a season, orchestras will condescend to perform movie scores in a gambit to attract audiences who might not otherwise show up at the concert hall. Recommended cues: “Spacewalk” “You Brought Me Back” “Accidental Happiness”
2. The harmonic carpet in the White House is fine, but a flute clumsily topples over it. The legitimacy comes from the fact that composer Justin Hurwitz wrote enough connective instrumental cues to qualify as a score, but, as in most musicals, this material riffs on the themes and styles of the songs around it and is essentially indistinguishable from them. We lose ourselves in a reverie, but a martial snare interrupts to remind us of the office. Recommended cues: “Planetarium” “Epilogue”
3. Recommended cues: “Escape the Station” “Searching for Home” “Mother”
4. Musicals are made up of songs with words. His instrumental theme for the lovers—a wistful, wide-eyed little waltz—is catchy, especially in the lightning-bug transformation on “Planetarium.” And his ensemble orchestration skills are uniformly a delight. Moonlight – Nicholas Britell
I was one of the few viewers who found Moonlight very-good-but-not-like-transcendent, and same goes for the music. “Escape the Station”) that give his own creative voice room to breathe. Britell—who, full disclosure, composed the theme for Slate’s Culture Gabfest—has done wonders with a remarkably small amount of material here—most notably in his simple, gentle theme for the film’s main character, which he subtly develops over the course of the movie’s three age-defined acts. Newman is as bewitching and whimsical as ever as he paints around the drama aboard the starship Avalon, but we’ve seen many of these brushstrokes before. But in the end, we’re talking about an homage—not a truly original act of composition. Aside from some digital effects that signal spaceship, much of this music could be from any number of other Newman projects. The composer has created a tight, arresting sonic portrait, defined by nauseated, swerving strings and dreamlike, almost drunken rhythms. What I found most effective, though, was Britell’s facility in capturing the heat and confusion of desire in his string writing on cues like “The Middle of the World.” Never have arpeggios sounded so irresistibly dangerous. I’m not sure if pop-experimentalist-turned-film composer Levi’s truly superb work for Jackie will ever get this treatment, but if it does, it will have no problem holding up. But overall, the music is predictable and often saccharine. In keeping with the Kennedys, the music has a forced, WASP-y sunniness—all the halting stumbles and grasps at grace of a Chanel-suited woman trying to hold it together. Passengers – Thomas Newman
This marks Newman’s 14th nomination, and as a longtime stan, I would love for him to finally take the statuette. However, I just can’t give his work on this film the top slot. True to form, his palette is the richest of the bunch, but it’s the same sparkling percussion and raw piano that’s come to define his sound. The melody smiles, but underneath, the strings tremble queasily and a vibraphone jangles our nerves. The Oscar race for Best Original Score—the category ostensibly dedicated to “a substantial body of music that serves as original dramatic underscoring”—feels a little strange this year. That said, I can recognize and appreciate Hurwitz’s talent for channeling the big band American songbook stuff that defines the genre. Recommended cues: “The Middle of the World” “Chiron’s Theme”
1. There’s even the now-predictable—though still utterly gorgeous—bittersweet hymn (“Spacewalk”) that tends to show up amid his manic gyrations. So the inclusion of La La Land in the category alongside four proper scores is, while technically legit, a bit vexing. 5. While there are a number of deserving entries among the nominees, nearly every Oscar prognosticator agrees that the prize will be going to La La Land … which is a musical. This can be fun, even if the music comes off a bit thin without its film alongside. I quite liked this score—and there’s a lot of it to like—but it’s too safely on-brand to be the best. Underscoring is largely instrumental with the occasional vocal flourish. Here listeners will find the formula of moody Glassian piano arpeggios bearing aloft soaring strings that directors been infatuated with since at least The Hours. Recommended cues: “Children” “Empty White House” “Vanity”

Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge May Join the Cast of the Upcoming Han Solo Movie

See you at the movies! Then we’ll have centuries more in which the role of Waller-Bridge’s CGI character will be taken up by a CGI Phoebe Waller-Bridge, eventually for a CGI audience. The Star Wars films have always had great luck with CGI characters: Unconvincing Jabba, Jar Jar Binks, The Eternal Shame of the Peter Cushing Estate—fan favorites and artistic triumphs, one and all. Variety reports that she is in talks to appear in the upcoming Han Solo standalone film as an unspecified CGI character, said to be in the vein of Alan Tudyk’s performance in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The Lego Movie’s Phil Lord and Chris Miller are directing. Now Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the star of Amazon’s Fleabag, may join their august ranks. The film is scheduled to be released on May 25, 2018; if it’s a hit, we’ll have decades of sequels and spinoffs to look forward to, many of which will no doubt feature Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s CGI character. The untitled film, which is set before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope, will star Alden Ehrenreich as the young Han Solo, Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, and Woody Harrelson as a character who probably dies, since he isn’t in the later films. It will be interesting to see where Lord and Miller go tonally, given that previous efforts to make Star Wars funnier (see, again, Jar Jar Binks) have been somewhat less than successful. That’s a lot of high-end comedy talent for a Star Wars movie, even one about a smartass like Han Solo. Meanwhile, the last surviving humans will be hunted and killed by a legion of CGI Alan Tudyks, after a CGI Darth Maul attains consciousness and leads the CGI cast of Star Wars in an all-too-real rebellion against their human masters, finally bringing the beloved franchise to a close.

The Prophecy Is Fulfilled: The Trailer for The Lego Ninjago Movie Is at Hand

And though no man knoweth the hour of Garmadon’s fall, know ye by these tidings: the day shall be Sep. And you shall hear Justin Theroux voice the great adversary, who is called Garmadon, and you will know that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart is only evil continually. The full trailer for The Lego Ninjago Movie, which Slate hath promised you in days of old, is now at hand! But rather go ye unto Slate’s homepage each day, for there you will surely find everything we know about The Lego Ninjago Movie. Stand ye in doubt of Slate’s Lego Ninjago Movie prophecies, even after the full trailer for has come to pass just as it was written? 22, when The Lego Ninjago Movie arrives in theaters, and on that day Garmadon shall be humbled before you. Shall Garmadon indeed reign over the land of Ninjago? You shall hear Dave Franco voice the hero, Lloyd, and you will know that Lloyd is good. Take heed that ye not be deceived, for many websites will come saying, I bear news of The Lego Ninjago Movie: go ye not therefore after them, for there is much wickedness in their hearts, and they delight in lies. Press the play button, watch the pre-roll ad, and make a joyful sound with thy cymbals, psalteries, and harps, O Slate readers! And all these things shall come to pass. And wisdom and knowledge about The Lego Ninjago Movie shall be the stability of thy times and the treasure of your heart. Verily, verily I say unto you: the Lego Cinematic Universe shall not suffer him that hath an high look and a proud heart, and Garmadon shall surely be brought low. Or shall he have dominion over Lloyd, his only son? That which once was, has passed from the earth, that which was not, now is, and that which is now, surely shall be forevermore. Behold!

John Wick: Chapter 2

The first way—and the one you want, if you get a choice—is operatic: Wick lets one of his victims cut her own wrists, then recline in a bathtub the size of a small apartment for some amicable conversation while her outspread arms emit billows of blood like wings. Unfortunately, the main plot, a complicated contraption whereby Wick is forced back into work as an assassin by Italian Mafioso Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), never lives up to the opening’s promise. How many hit men receive these Amber Alerts? And that doesn’t even get into the band of professional marksmen who go incognito as the city’s entire homeless population. Most of all, Kolstad and Stahelski get a lot of mileage from the intricate details of the secret society of assassins Wick belongs to. In this case, Wick recovers his stolen Mustang from a Russian mob boss (a cigar- and scenery-chewing Peter Stormare) and a bunch of anonymous corpses-to-be. (In one of the movie’s balder gestures at pastiche, this network of trash bag–wearing hired guns is played by Reeves’ Matrix co-star Laurence Fishburne.) Low murder rate or no, most of Manhattan seems to make its living in the assassination business or, like the switchboard operators, in its auxiliary industries. There’s always been an appeal to movies like this that posit a secret order behind all the world’s chaos—and perhaps especially right now, when we’re starving for images of competent, well-dressed people making rational decisions. The sequel—which, like its surprisingly enjoyable predecessor, was written by Derek Kolstad and helmed by stuntman-turned-director Chad Stahelski—begins immediately after the events of John Wick. But those rules are a lie just as pernicious as the myth of the good guy with a gun, the foundation of the whole shoot-’em-up genre. Orange is the New Black’s Ruby Rose, as D’Antonio’s mute head of security, gives an entertainingly deranged performance, and Ian McShane, reprising his role as Winston, the owner of the all-assassin Hotel Continental, is as devilish as usual. But, as John Wick: Chapter 2 continually assures us, Wick’s precision and professionalism (seemingly mirrored by everyone else in his industry) ensure that only the right people will get hurt. (In the film’s best joke, Julius agrees to let Wick stay there only after ascertaining that he’s not in Rome to assassinate the Pope.)
But nothing is more enjoyably, needlessly ornate than the film’s attention to assassination contracts. More often, the story of those who use force to gain control is a different one, one Chapter 2 quietly repeats over and over again, to the point of numbness. And if the action set pieces aren’t entirely original—the film’s hall of mirrors shootout could be seen as a lift from either Orson Welles or Roger Moore, depending on the audience—they’re extraordinarily well-executed, at least until the monotony of a headshot per minute sets in. We know from the first film that Wick stays at Winston’s Continental in New York, where a concierge named Charon (The Wire’s Lance Reddick) sees him on his journey back to the contract-killer underground. In that sense, Chapter 2’s vision of a universe in which the powerful are bound by rules, by honor, by a code is comforting. Cinematographer Dan Laustsen’s crisp compositions capturing production designer Kevin Kavanaugh’s sets and locations are striking, especially the interiors of Rome’s Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, here relocated to New York to serve as D’Antonio’s hideout and the location of one of the film’s extended gunfights. (Both departments seem to be staffed by the pink-shirted telephone operators from Drake’s “Hotline Bling” video, except with more ink.) The completed typewritten order travels, via pneumatic tube, to a different department where it is entered into a computer system on VT100-era terminals. From there, the contract is sent via text message to the company’s network of contract killers, all of whom seem to favor Nokias from about 15 years ago. Your reaction to John Wick: Chapter 2 will depend on whether you find that sort of “why are you hitting yourself?” thing funny or not—and how many times in a row you find it funny. The client calls the organization’s main switchboard and asks the heavily tattooed operator for Accounts Payable, where an equally tattooed clerk enters the contract details on a typewriter. Which I guess makes it OK that Wick repeatedly opens fire in crowds (at a concert, at a public fountain, in a crowded subway station) since most of those people are probably hitmen anyway. Which is not to say it doesn’t have plenty to recommend it. Well, in a simple subway ride, Wick runs into at least seven hit men and women who weren’t even hunting him, exactly, but just happened to cross paths around the time they got the text message. In an age of mass shootings, it’s hard to take much pleasure in watching civilians scream and run as bullets ricochet around them. Here’s how a basic customer service interaction there goes. In John Wick: Chapter 2 we discover that in Rome, Wick stays at Il Continentale, run by a proprietor named Julius (played by Italian Ian McShane analog Franco Nero) and concierged by Lucia (played by gender-swapped Lance Reddick analog Youma Diakite). As often happens in Bond films, this cold open is more impressive than anything that follows, mostly because of the exquisite reaction shots of Stormare as his empire collapses around him. In his first outing, Wick wreaked a bloody vengeance against the Russian mobsters who killed his dog and stole his car. The other way is much more likely as a matter of probability, not that that makes it any less humiliating: Again and again throughout the new film, Wick kills unlucky gangsters by wounding or otherwise incapacitating them, grabbing their gun arm, making them shoot their co-henchmen with their own weapon, then throwing them to the ground for a kill shot to the head (ideally with the same gun). You know how it goes: You’re bleeding out on the floor, having long since surrendered, watching someone slowly turn your own gun against your forehead. If you die at the hands of John Wick, the reluctant contract killer Keanu Reeves plays in the burgeoning franchise of the same name, there are basically two ways things could go down. To extend Wick into a franchise, Kolstad and Stahelski borrow a structural tic from another long-running series: a pre-title standalone action sequence.