This is succession planning. It’s about laying down memories in Australia against the time the Queen dies. The first tour is the one that matters – the tour with the young couple and the baby, the gloss not worn off their marriage and possible princely misdemeanours of the child far in the future.

[…]

The press still eulogises them. “It’s truly magical,” said a TV reporter to her camera as we waited at the rock for something to happen. Not really. It’s the highly skilled creation of soft propaganda in which the press is complicit, the locals are extras and Uluru is a backdrop.

David Marr, “Royal tour of Australia is all about creation of soft propaganda,” The Guardian, April 23, 2014

This is why accomodationist republicans who want to act like it’s OK to glory in the reflected glow of the royal family’s trappings of privilege while still arguing for new constitutional arrangements are full of it. The monarchy is made up of political actors trying to preserve their power, and every republican who gets doe-eyed over that new baby and that nice wedding and that wonderful photo-op is only helping the royals entrench their power further. Forget my side’s we-mean-no-disrespect-to-the-queen dissembling. I mean full disrespect. When I stick the knife in, I want it to hurt.


Schlock, at its finest, is where bad taste becomes great art. Schlock is music that subjugates all other values to brute emotional impact; it aims to overwhelm, to body-slam the senses, to deliver catharsis like a linebacker delivers a clothesline tackle. The qualities traditionally prized by music critics and other listeners of discerning taste — sophistication, subtlety, wit, irony, originality, “experimentation” — have no place in schlock. Schlock is extravagant, grandiose, sentimental, with an unshakable faith in the crudest melodrama, the biggest statements, the most timeworn tropes and most overwrought gestures. Put another way: Schlock is Rodgers and Hammerstein, not Rodgers and Hart. It’s “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” not “Manhattan” and “My Funny Valentine.”

Jody Rosen, “In Defense of Schlock Music,” Vulture, May 27, 2014

Rosen’s piece on schlock seems one of those rare articles in which the accompanying list is more useful than the essay. The list is, like all lists at their best, a reimagining of history that highlights forgotten or ignored works and offers new understandings of existing ones.

But the thesis underpinning it — that “schlock” is an underappreciated and critically under-engaged quality requiring renewed appreciation — seems lacking. At base, the argument is Kelefa Sanneh’s “Rap Against Rockism" plus Carl Wilson’s schmaltz-musings in Let’s Talk About Love (which Rosen mentions in his article), and I’m not sure Rosen offers more than a synthesis of those two (very fine) pieces. Which is OK as an entree, but being well acquainted with those arguments already, I kinda thought, is that all?

Or in another way: welcome, guy, thanks for catching up. For a start, whatever other critics have been doing, I don’t think I’ve been ignoring schlock as a positive quality — here, for instance, I praised a Blake Shelton single, saying the singer “pours on the sugar for a big, goopy love song that brims with the same unabashed enthusiasm as Martina McBride’s ‘I Love You’ or Liz Phair’s ‘Why Can’t I.’” Or here, where I welcomed Taking Back Sunday’s “convergence of theatricality and emotional honesty, pop hooks and abrasive hardcore, bad teenage poetry and brilliant hyper-emotionalism.” Or here, where I wrote, “The Used, quite obviously, is a consummately ridiculous band, and no band should wield a weapon as powerful as ridiculousness without taking full advantage of its potential.” (Rosen’s essay has a distinct lack of emo; perhaps for many critics the genre is still a schlock too far?)

But, no, I’m not chiding Rosen for failing to scrutinize my archival work, just saying that I don’t feel his ideas are particularly new ones. And, after all, his examples of great schlock don’t lack for traditionally praised tunes: are all those stuffy rock critics who nonetheless appreciate the majesty of Prince’s “Purple Rain” really revelling in anything but the schlock? As such, his attempt to redeem the better parts of Lionel Richie seem a mere matter of taste — we both like “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and “The Boys of Summer” but depart ways on “Three Times a Lady” — than a revelation of hidden depths the Commodores singer might possess.

Could critics look more kindly on plain, even gauche, emotionalism? Sure. Critics at large are still too apt to lionise authenticity and traditionally white and male approaches to creativity. Could even critics interested in the varying schools of “poptimism” expand their definitions of pop, and remember how wide is the world outside rock? Absolutely. But as much as I enjoyed Rosen’s 150 songs that form the blueprint of a schlocky canonical alternative, I don’t think he’s identified a quality as rigorously defined nor as consistently marginalized as he presents it to be.


My parents split when I was in my late 20s (and while I was still married). It has had a profound impact on me. When you’re an adult child, the roles are reversed. You aren’t the “kid” who mom or dad or other family members reach out to make sure you’re ok and handling the grief of seeing your family being torn apart. You are the “adult” who becomes the shoulder for your mom and/or your dad to deal with their grief and their emotions.

They open up to you about the other in ways that make you look back and question memories of your childhood. The father I thought I knew becomes an ex-husband who “wasn’t this and wasn’t that”. The mother I thought I knew, becomes a ex-wife who “wasn’t this and wasn’t that”. People think since you’re an adult and already grown up, it’s easier for you to rationalize that relationships fail and deal with the loss.

Even though we’re adults, we’re still kids at heart. Experiencing the break-up of your family and loss of decades of established family traditions is hard too. Yet few recognize the impact this has on us kids even when we’re grown-up. We’re expected to understand. And, as a result, the loss and grief we go through are often ignored.
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Jun 04

The world’s cutest ad is currently displayed at the Tokyo subway. It’s to inform people that the subway is erecting barriers between the platform and the tracks.

TRAIN: I don’t want to hurt you.
BERET GIRL: I don’t want to get hurt.
CAPTION: That’s why they needed a barrier between them.

The world’s cutest ad is currently displayed at the Tokyo subway. It’s to inform people that the subway is erecting barriers between the platform and the tracks.

TRAIN: I don’t want to hurt you.

BERET GIRL: I don’t want to get hurt.

CAPTION: That’s why they needed a barrier between them.


I’m not actually sure why you need more out of a TV show than Veronica Mars jukin hoopleheads in a pretty dress, but apparently Deadwood was more interested in Cy Tolliver being gruff or new ways Al Swearingen could hate the women around him?
Man, i’unno, this thing’s well written, but even there, it rarely reaches the point where the style vanishes into the ethos, the way it did with The Wire. And eight episodes in, I’m still waiting for the grand truths it might hold about civilization encroaching on the frontier, in the classic Western tradition.
(n.b. we got a Chinese character and some native Americans on the fringes; are they ever going to get a real look in?) 

I’m not actually sure why you need more out of a TV show than Veronica Mars jukin hoopleheads in a pretty dress, but apparently Deadwood was more interested in Cy Tolliver being gruff or new ways Al Swearingen could hate the women around him?

Man, i’unno, this thing’s well written, but even there, it rarely reaches the point where the style vanishes into the ethos, the way it did with The Wire. And eight episodes in, I’m still waiting for the grand truths it might hold about civilization encroaching on the frontier, in the classic Western tradition.

(n.b. we got a Chinese character and some native Americans on the fringes; are they ever going to get a real look in?) 


We’re not going to talk about how many yen I paid for this ticket.

We’re not going to talk about how many yen I paid for this ticket.


To this end, the budget cuts benefits to sole parents and stay-at-home mums, reviews the assessment of some younger recipients of the disability support pension and imposes ”compulsory activities” on recipients under 35, cuts the benefit received by unemployed people aged 22 to 24 from the dole to the youth allowance, imposes a waiting period for benefits of up to six months on people under 30, reintroduces Work for the Dole and introduces a ”restart” payment of up to $10,000 to employers who take on job seekers aged 50 or over who have previously been on benefits, including the age pension.

Get it? Older people want to work, but suffer from the prejudice of employers, so they’re helped with a new and generous subsidy to employers, whereas the young don’t want to work when they could be luxuriating on below poverty-line benefits, so they’re whipped to find a job by having their benefits cut and their entitlement removed for six months in every year until the lazy loafers take a job.

Just how having their benefits reduced or removed helps young adults afford the various costs of finding a job — including being appropriately dressed for an interview — the government doesn’t explain.

[…]

How does it help to starve a youngster to the point where they’re prepared to undertake some pointless training course? Is it really smart to take a university graduate who’s having a few months’ wait to find a suitable job and force them into a taxpayer-funded course on driving a forklift truck?
Ross Gittins, “Shifting form entitlement to enterprise,” The Sydney Morning Herald, May 27, 2014

The association of male value with aggression, dominance, and power is one of the most destructive forces in the world, and so it has to be destroyed. Traditional masculinity has to die in just the same way that sexism and racism and homophobia have to die. It can’t be reformed, it can’t be rescued. It has to be replaced. It’s utterly infected, with the celebration of violence, sexual entitlement, throbbing misogyny, and a fake self-confidence that is almost always hiding total self-loathing. If the kind of sick masculinity that leads to these crimes were a religion, people would call it incompatible with modernity. If it were a race, Fox News would talk about that race’s culture of violence. If it were a political ideology, it would be classified alongside white supremacy or anti-Semitism. How could it not be, given the spasms of horrific violence that we now expect to happen over and over again? I don’t excuse Rodger or anyone else for the terrible, unforgivable choices they make. The sickness within our culture is not an excuse. But it is part of the explanation, and it needs to be cut out like a cancer.

Frederik de Boer, “destroy traditional masculinity,” May 24, 2014

Read with reference to this.

3
May 28

omg you guys I’ve found so many cool nail polishes over here.

omg you guys I’ve found so many cool nail polishes over here.


Top 5 things to say in Japan…

…if your Japanese is kinda garbage.

  1. Sou desu (ne). Affirmation, question, filler — “sou desu ne” kills it as an always handy phrase to make it seem like you have some idea of what’s happening right now.
  2. Daijoubu. Basically means “OK” but is hella useful for any circumstance where you need to reassure people that you’re (i) competent; (ii) not in need of help; and (iii) pretty happy with the way things are going.
  3. Wakarimasu. This means “I understand,” and sometimes “I know,” and it’s the lie I’ve told most often these past few weeks. One thing about my Japanese is that I’m fantastic at asking for directions, and terrifically incompetent at understanding them. Those times when I’m too ashamed to admit I have no idea what has just been said to me? “Hai. Wakarimasu.”
  4. Wakaranai. Or wakarimasen if you want to be polite about it, but I like the plainspokenness of wakaranai better, particularly if you say it kind of sorrowfully. And besides, Japanese folks seem to use the plain form of verbs way more than language books would have you believe. Wakarinai is great for those times when you’ve somehow tricked someone into thinking that you’re actually halfway good at understanding their language and you need to come clean with an “I’m sorry, I have no idea what you just said.”
  5. Sumimasen. Oh, man, sumimasen is awesome. It basically means “excuse me,” but it can be a greeting or an apology or a cry for attention or a filler word or so many other things. Only time sumimasen has ever failed me is when I thought I could use it as a substitute for “I didn’t hear you, could you please repeat yourself,” the way you can with “excuse me” in English. The apparent failure in my thinking produced conversations of great comedy like this one:
  • Nihonjin: [Something mumbled, complex, low-volume, or all three]
  • Me: Sumimasen?
  • Nihonjin: [in a tone communicating supreme eagerness to help, and suggesting no prior conversation has taken place] Hai?
  • Me: Uhh… hmm… ehhh… [silence] … daijoubu.

Learn these five things and you too can sorta kinda survive being a terrible Japanese speaker in Japan!



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