Like I’m super into The Americans but do the KGB and the FBI decide to quit spying in summer and everyone goes to the beach instead? Cause in every damn episode of this show it’s like Cold War was meant to be taken meteorologically.

Like I’m super into The Americans but do the KGB and the FBI decide to quit spying in summer and everyone goes to the beach instead? Cause in every damn episode of this show it’s like Cold War was meant to be taken meteorologically.

Jun 16

John Sides, WaPo:

People who are consistently liberal or conservative are much more likely to vote or donate. This may not be surprising. But it speaks to a real tension that is often unacknowledged. On the one hand, many bemoan the fact that so many Americans don’t know facts about politics or don’t vote in elections. On the other hand, many bemoan partisanship and ideology and yearn for moderation and compromise. Well, to put it bluntly, we don’t get to have a politically engaged public and a moderate one.

Truth.

John Sides, WaPo:

People who are consistently liberal or conservative are much more likely to vote or donate. This may not be surprising. But it speaks to a real tension that is often unacknowledged. On the one hand, many bemoan the fact that so many Americans don’t know facts about politics or don’t vote in elections. On the other hand, many bemoan partisanship and ideology and yearn for moderation and compromise. Well, to put it bluntly, we don’t get to have a politically engaged public and a moderate one.

Truth.


One Direction, “Little Black Dress,” Midnight Memories (2013)

I continue to be fascinated by how One Direction sounds vs what people who don’t listen think boy bands are supposed to sound like. “Little Black Dress” might be the best song on Midnight Memories. It’s the group’s well-established adventures in power-pop, only now with seventies enhancements; Harry Styles might like to think Rolling Stones, but Sweet or Cheap Trick are more accurate comparisons. They should make it a single; more fashionable groups have wrought rave reviews from less.

(Source: Spotify)

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Jun 09

There were a lot of people in the audience who were there, and it was their childhood, and they have a very distinct viewpoint on what was going on. And it has been cemented by the representation of the late ’60s as this revolutionary moment, of cultural upheaval, whatever the cliche. My basic statement was there were a lot of people who were adults when this happened, and they had their own lives, also. It’s just like the idea that as the hippies come along, “Oh, Don’s going to be left behind.” Well, you can read Playboy Magazine and you can see that a guy Don’s age in a suit and a tie is still at the top of the heap in 1969. It’s not like they were supplanted by people in bell bottoms and sandals. It really was a kind of acknowledgement of the fact that the way history has been metabolized is very different than the way it was.

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.



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