The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, January 13, 2004 - 7
Homestar stumbles into hilarity
* Inclusion in different forms of media is old
hat for the Crystal Method, a band that is no
stranger to corporations bent on "hippifying"
their products. Overall, the
new CD, The Legion of
Boom, seems to be more
like a three-step business
blueprint about how to
write marketable music.
Step 1 - Stick with
what you know. Several of
the songs on Legion of
Boom sound exactly like
Step 3 - Make covert references to products
before the tracks are sold. A sample from the
song "The American Way" was initially per-
plexing, for the subject of the title was never
specified. Repeated listens reveal that the
Crystal Method likely included this song as
bait for an American car company to swallow.
Making a marketable CD is not entirely a
bad thing. Indeed, for most electronic acts, this
is the only viable option for financial success.
However, this album fits so well with
videogames like "Splinter Cell" because it is so
melodramatic, seemingly made for people who
say that they live their lives "one second at a
time," or who tell people that they wear suits to
conceal their silenced pistols or some ridicu-
lous tripe like that. While the Crystal Method
still produce danceable, rhythmic music, this
CD still sounds like they are remixing their
By Raquel Laneri
Daily Arts Writer
When asked any question concerning the creative or
intellectual processes that produce the brilliant hilarity
of the flash-animation website Homestarrunner.com,
Mike Chapman answers pretty much the same way: "I
don't know ... not tons of thought was given to it; we
just thought it would be funny at the time." This spon-
taneous, carefree attitude explains the random and
whimsical nature of this site. Brothers Mike and Matt
Chapman (ages 30 and 27, respectively) have created
the "Seinfeld" of flash-animation - a cartoon in
which the characters (led by Homestar Runner, a no-
armed, beanie-wearing, endearingly-dumb "whitey"
with a severe speech impediment) write e-mails, make
prank phone calls and loiter by concession stands - a
cartoon about, essentially, nothing.
The most outrageous "Seinfeld" episode takes a
backseat to the animated wackiness, whose humor fits
in somewhere between sophisticated sarcasm and
childish idiocy. Characters morphing into their anime
alter-egos, dragons burning villages, poopsmiths, bro-
ken cow lamps and cinnamon facial hair are only a
few of the more off-the-wall scenarios. Sure, there are
plenty of quotable TV shows and cartoons, but Home-
starrunner.com is unique not only because it is so
contagiously quotable, but because all the quotes
sound so stupid when you look at them from an out-
side perspective. And you'll relish in the confused
looks others who are not "in the know" will give you.
The funny and unpredictable cartoon can only take
place in a world where the characters "aren't really peo-
ple and aren't really animals and some make little
squeaky sounds instead of talking," as
Mike describes. "We liked the Batman
TV show from the '60s ... we got a lot
of inspiration from that. And
videogames ... the 'Peanuts' ... 'The
Muppets"'- which explains why the
site's so appealing to both the pop
and the geek culture savvy.
grown from a children's book
copied at Kinko's and distrib-
uted among friends to an
"Homestarrunner's our full-time
job now," Mike explains cheerily.
"Fortunately, we make enough
money from T-shirt sales that we
don't have to do anything else."
Another indicator of the site's
popularity is the weekly Strong
Bad e-mail. Strong Bad, the
"bully" of the bunch who wears a
Mexican wrestling mask and box-
ing gloves, gets around 5,000 e-
mails a day. "Obviously we can't
read all those e-mails. We ran-
domly go through, locate 500 or
so and set aside the ones we think
have potential. And as the week
gets closer to the weekend, we nar-
row it down to one or two. We make (the car-
toon) on Sunday, usually," Mike remarks, the
night before the e-mail goes up for the thou-
sands of expectant fans.
their first CD, Vegas. A good move, if the aim
is to sell music for commercials, as nearly all
of the songs from Vegas were included in car
ads. "Broken Glass" has a stolen melody from
their old classic "Trip Like I Do," and
"Weapons of Mass Distortion" is completely
lifted from the Splinter Cell soundtrack.
Step 2 - Recruit guitar "genius" Wes Bor-
the michigan daily
own catalog to cash in.
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