Your favorite ‘Office Space’ character was based on one of Mike Judge’s coworkers

The New York Times Magazine this week sports a profile of Mike Judge, one of the most visionary humorists of our age. No, really — look at his CV if you haven’t in a while: “Beavis and Butt-Head,” “Office Space,” “King of the Hill,” “Idiocracy” and now the fourth season of “Silicon Valley,” which premieres on HBO April 23. Some highlights from the profile of the occasional Austinite:

Mike Judge at the Austin Film Festival on October 23, 2011. (Cliff Cheney FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Like many great writers, Judge is a champion (inadvertent) eavesdropper. “Frog Baseball,” the short that demo’d “Beavis and Butt-Head,” was something he overheard at work.

“First, he thought: That stuff happens. Then he thought: Who would do this? Beavis and Butt-Head offered an answer to that question.”

Milton in “Office Space” — he of the red stapler — was partially based on an engineer Judge worked with in San Diego post-college. And Judge’s next-door neighbor at one time was a mechanic.

“He would serve as inspiration for Lawrence, the construction-worker neighbor in ‘Office Space’; Judge’s neighbor in the other direction helped inspire Butt-Head.”

The article’s author has very specific ideas about satire:

“‘Beavis and Butt-Head,’ which thrived in part by savagely roasting both MTV (the channel that aired it) and the generation its programming had spawned …”

“If you set aside his long-running TV show ‘King of the Hill,’ which is much too loving to be considered satire …”

I am not sure about this. There is genuine affection for the leads in “Beavis and Butt-Head,” and the biggest critique of MTV itself was the fact that “B&B” was the only place one could see certain videos. (Also I suspect the author is young enough never to have actually seen MTV when it was, you know, showing videos all the time.)

Maybe MTV was playing Jawbox’s “Savory,” Pavement’s “Cut Your Hair” and Shutter to Think’s “Hit Liquor” on the regular, but the only place I ever saw clips for those three excellent songs was when those two were mocking them.

As for “King of the Hill,” it was an incredibly sweet and thoughtful show, but satire need not be brutal all the time. Living in Texas made me appreciate that program’s singular combination of mockery and respect all the more. Also, naming a character “LuAnne Platter” was brilliant.

Yes, “Silicon Valley” has the enthusiastic cooperation of real tech companies. During a scene set at fake industry convention:

“Staged for a scene in the show’s coming season, the event had 28 booths, among them Pied Piper’s and, across from it, one for a fictitious mobile game. The other 26, however, were completely real, with many staffed by actual employees. Square was there, along with Roku and Oculus and Nest, which brought a fire truck that had been painted baby blue by the guys from ‘Pimp My Ride.’”

Some of the folks there were real employees, some were extras.

And as anyone actually in tech can tell you, the show is both spot-on and can be not a whole lot of fun.

“Thomas Middleditch, who plays Richard … gets two responses from people in tech: They either love the show for its accuracy or find it so accurate that it’s too stressful to watch.”

Judge was amused by T.J. Miller’s body.

“(As Miller) walked by (at an audition), Judge saw his silhouette pass and started laughing. ‘If someone’s silhouette can make you laugh … they’re probably pretty funny.'”

Judge and cast members will be at Alamo South Lamar to screen two episodes of “Silicon Valley” and participate in a Q&A April 18. The event is sold out.

The Emmys: 20 thoughts on who was nominated, who should win and who was snubbed

  1. The nominations for the 68th Emmy Awards are out and, to the surprise of exactly nobody, “Game of Thrones” picked up 23 nods.
  2. The completely amazing “The People v. O.J. Simpson” picked up 22 noms,  “Fargo” has 18 and “Veep” has 17 nominations.
  3. It’s outstanding to see “The Americans” and “Mr. Robot,” the two smartest live action series on TV, given best drama nods. Even with the 23 nominations, I am not completely convinced “Game of Thrones” should be there for season five, which I found a little rambling (thought I thought this season was just stunningly entertaining). “Better Call Saul,” another best drama hopeful, is often brilliant. I would love to see either “The Americans” “or “Mr. Robot” win.
  4. Unlike the drama nods, nearly half of the best comedy nods – “Master of None” (Hulu), “Transparent” (Amazon) and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schimdt” (Netflix) – are streaming shows.
  5. Also in best comedy, the often excellent and usually family-friendly”Black-ish” (which my kids love) and “Modern Family” (which should be put out of its misery rather than be nominated again) are on ABC; “Silicon Valley” and “Veep,” both terrific, are on HBO.
    Rami Malek in 'Mr. Robot' (Peter Kramer/USA Network)
    Rami Malek in ‘Mr. Robot’ (Peter Kramer/USA Network)

     

  6. So much for comedy programming on CBS, Fox or NBC. Ouch.
  7. For my money, the lead actor in a drama Emmy should go to Rami Malek (“Mr Robot”) in a walk. His performance is like nothing else on television — complex, weird and 21st century.
  8. Matthew Rhys and his perma-frown are essential parts of what make “The Americans” great. Nominees Kyle Chandler, Bob Odenkirk, Liev Schreiber and Kevin Spacey are all excellent, but Malek and Rhys feel like something new.
  9. As far as actor in a comedy goes, Jeffrey Tambor is obviously brilliant in “Transparent, but he’s already feted (and the drama often works better than the comedy on that show).  As much as I like Anthony Anderson and Aziz Ansari, I am pulling for Thomas Middleditch’s note-perfect programmer on “Silicon Valley.” (I am mystified as to why T.J. Miller didn’t get a best supporting actor in a comedy nod for “Silicon Valley.” His bluster is brilliant.)
  10. The lead actress in a drama category is a game of inches: Keri Russell’s mission-first vibe on “The Americans” becomes more complicated by the second. (Also, will she ever stop doing laundry?) But Tatiana Maslany on “Orphan Black” is a tour de force, every episode, where, as various clones of her character, she is often playing three or four or five parts an episode. It’s nuts.
    In this image released by FX, Matthew Rhys, left, and Keri Russell appear in a scene from "The Americans." On Thursday, July 14, 2016, Rhys was nominated for outstanding actor in a drama series for his role in the series. The 68th Primetime Emmy Awards will be broadcast live on ABC beginning at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. (Craig Blankenhorn/FX via AP)
    Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell both got acting nods for “The Americans.” (Craig Blankenhorn/FX via AP)

     

  11. Lead actress in a comedy should probably go to Julia Louis-Dreyfus for “Veep,” but here’s the thing:
  12. Laurie Metcalfe should be a mortal lock not for HBO’s “Getting On,” the comedy for which she was nominated here, but for for her astounding turn in Louis CK’s genuinely groundbreaking “Horace and Pete,” which is very much not a comedy.
  13. The Playhouse-90-on-the-web format of “Horace and Pete” felt exciting and daring, one of the few times this past year that something appeared in front of your eyeballs that made anything seem possible.
  14. Metcalfe, who was terrific for years on “Roseanne,” also picked up a nomination for a guest spot on “The Big Bang Theory.” Three noms in three different acting categories is an Emmy first. She certainly deserves it.
  15. Interesting to see the total absence of David Simon’s HBO mini “Show Me A Hero” from the limited series category, whose nominees included the Austin-filmed “American Crime”; “Fargo,” from Austin’s Noah Hawley; “The Night Manager”; “The People vs. O.J. Simpson”; and the History Channel’s remake of “Roots.”
  16. As much as I loved “Fargo,” whose second season was cracklingly alive, my vote has to go to “The People vs. O.J. Simpson,” which managed to be dramatic, funny, timely, campy, dark and incredibly weird, often all at the same time.
  17. Speaking of, Courtney B. Vance should win lead actor in a movie or limited series for embodying but not copying Johnnie Cochran in “The People.” He is up against Cuba Gooding Jr. in this category as well.

    In this image released by FX, Sarah Paulson portrays Marcia Clark, left, and Sterling K. Brown portrays Christopher Darden in a scene from "The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story." On Thursday, July 14, 2016, Brown was nominated for outstanding supporting actor in a limited series or movie for his role. The 68th Primetime Emmy Awards will be broadcast live on ABC beginning at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. (Ray Mickshaw/FX via AP)
    Sarah Paulson portrays Marcia Clark, left, and Sterling K. Brown portrays Christopher Darden in a scene from “The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.”(Ray Mickshaw/FX via AP)
  18. I feel exactly the same way about Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark in “The People.” In fact, it would be kind of great to see “The People” sweep the acting for limited series or movie.
  19. Most unjust snub? “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” one of the year’s breakout shows, wasn’t nominated for variety/talk, while “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and
  20. One sentimental favorite: I would love love love to see Jonathan Banks finally grab a supporting actor win for his incredible performance as Mike Ehrmantraut on “Better Call Saul,” a prize he should have won for the same character on “Breaking Bad.” 

The 68th Primetime Emmy Awards will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel and broadcast live Sept. 18 on ABC. Check out a list of all the nominees from the most prominent categories.


Welcome to Check It Out. Feel free to leave your shoes on, it’s cool.

So, there will be a lot of different stuff going on in this blog:

All sorts of television – the great, the not-so-great and “Vinyl,” a show that should really be called

The correct title. (Thank you to the brilliant David W Alexander Parker for creating this image)
The correct title. (Thank you to the brilliant David W Alexander Parker for creating this image)

Movie things that don’t fit in the Austin Movie Blog (cool home video releases, what’s new in streaming, supplementary notes about movie reviews or maybe some of the angry trolling I got about this thing.)

Music things that aren’t quite right for the Austin Music Source (cool band I find on, say, Bandcamp, what I’ve been listening to, etc.)

Books things that might not be right for the Reader (including comics, comics and more comics).

Cultural detritus from around the Web. A place to discuss all that is new and interesting in culture, or old and interesting in culture, popular or otherwise.

And if I use the word thinkpiece, please feel free to send me a strongly worded note.

A word about the blog name:

I thought I was making a horrible pun that maybe three people would get, as in

a) this blog I would love for you, the reader, to in fact check out, and

b) it is the catchphrase, more or less, of one John Brannon, one of the greatest punk frontmen who ever lived and a man possessed of a truly singular vocal roar. He fronted Negative Approach, one of the three or four best first-gen American hardcore punk bands; Laughing Hyenas, a truly mighty indie rock force back when indie rock could mean everything from the Jesus Lizard to Heavenly to Yo La Tengo to Fugazi; and Easy Action, whose “Kool Aide” is one of my all-time favorite Brannon joints.

Anyway, this is what he looks like:

the Voice
The Voice

And this is the photo that made everyone familiar with both of us laugh out loud:

some dude
Some dude

See? Dumb joke.

The problem, of course, is I completely and totally (and I mean this sincerely) forgot about the phrase’s association with these guys:

RIP MCA
RIP MCA

In fairness, that (admittedly Grammy-nominated and very popular) song is on “To the Five Boroughs,” which I do not recall as an album with which I spent a whole lot of time. That said, I understand why SEVERAL people have said, “Oh, like the Beastie Boys song?”

No, not like the Beastie Boys song. And definately not like the John Cougar Mellencamp song. Never, ever that. Ever.

In sum, welcome to Check It Out. Watch this space.