In New York, where thousands of bearded hipsters scamper around Williamsburg or Brooklyn reading Kerouac and drinking whisky, a new trend in facial hair has emerged.

Rachel Clun, “’Beard transplants’ are now a thing,” The Sydney Morning Herald, February 26, 2014

So, yeah, “Williamsburg or Brooklyn” is what happens when you start thinking of real places as trendpiece shorthand.

Ironically, although Victoria was the last Australian State both to enable women to vote in parliamentary elections and to allow them to be Members of Parliament, it had actually empowered women to vote just seven years after the opening of the first Parliament of Victoria.

In a piece of faulty legislative drafting, the Electoral Act of 1863 enfranchised all ratepayers listed on local municipal rolls. By some oversight the Parliament overlooked earlier local government legislation that had permitted women to be added to the municipal rolls for local government elections. Those women therefore now had the vote and proceeded to use it in the general election of 1864.

Shocked at such effrontery, and embarrassed by their oversight, Members of the Legislative Assembly hastily amended the offending clause early in 1865 by restricting the vote for parliamentary elections strictly to male ratepayers.

Parliament of Victoria: Women in Parliament

Those 1860s Victorian parliamentarians, whatta buncha jerks.

From the air, flying over Phoenix, you notice the nothingness first of all. It resembles a tan- and cocoa-colored moon, except that there are vast splotches of green-golf courses and the other pampered land where irrigation systems have been installed. From my Geology course, I knew that everything below me had once been a shallow ocean; and at dusk, when I flew into Phoenix, the shadows on the rocks were a tropical-sea purple, and the tumbleweeds were aquamarine — so that I could actually imagine the ocean that once was there. In truth, Phoenix still resembled a shallow sea, marred by the fake greens and blues of swimming pools. Some ten or twenty miles in the distance, a jagged ridge of reddish, tea-colored mountains were here and there capped with waxy deposits of limestone — to a New Englander, they looked like dirty snow. But it was far too hot for snow.

Although, at dusk, the sun had lost its intensity, the dry heat shimmered above the tarmac; despite a breeze, the heat persisted with furnacelike generation. After the heat, I noticed the palm trees — all the beautiful, towering palm trees.
John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany (1989)



"My Nokia 5150 didn’t have Flappy Bird but, by gum, that was a cell phone with heart…"

Jonathan Bradley: “Where the traditionalist takes the objects of his desire for granted, the conservative cannot. He seeks to enjoy them precisely as they are being — or have been — taken away,” Corey Robin wrote. “But as soon as those objects enter the medium of political speech, they cease to be items of lived experience and become incidents of an ideology.” I’m tempted to end my blurb there: return fire in a culture war against a singer who, if you’ve convinced yourself that all her words are polemic, prefers women to end marriages through murder rather than divorce. But though ideology and culture are intertwined, they’re not equivalent, and, truthfully, most Americans are simply not political. Lines on “Automatic” like “We drove all the way to Dallas just to buy an Easter dress/We’d take along a Rand McNally, stand in line to pay for gas” are about memory and the hazy process of constructing personal narrative, not literal Luddism. There are more moments in “Automatic” like this, but there are also list items, which are not particularly interesting, especially not over a guitar arrangement that remembers what it was like to wait for hours until that OneRepublic download had completed. “‘Remember when’ is the lowest form of conversation,” Tony Soprano once sniped, and even if he’s right, it’s one in which we are nonetheless all too likely to engage. That propensity crosses party lines.


[Read, comment and vote on The Singles Jukebox ]

What was I just saying b/w the footnote here b/w stop thinking like a campaign consultant. With bonus track: look, if Miranda Lambert’s obviously not interested in maintaining ideological consistency across her work, why should I go looking for it?

Maybe also check Soto on Eric Church.


Kyary Pamyu Pamyu - “Yume no Hajimarinrinrin” (2014)

Plenty of misconceptions exist about Kyary Pamyu Pamyu outside of Japan…J-pop Lady Gaga topping the power ranking…but the one that’s gobbled up by folks who don’t know her AND are fans of the performer is that she’s somehow different than the rest of the country’s pop stars. Nope. She’s as plugged into the system as it gets - she holds handshake events where you drop the equivalent of thirty bucks to shake her hand, she’s prickly when it comes to media and she appears in dozens of ads the same way the members of SMAP do.

Trick is, she makes it really convincing that she isn’t engaging in these typical practices. Yeah, she does meet-‘n’-greets…but she doesn’t attract the sweaty nerd-o’s typically associated with most idols, but rather a demographic-spanning crowd that looks like people you’d actually meet on the streets. Sure, her management does all it can to hide stuff like her real name…but she also has the third-most-popular Twitter where she actually expresses herself (gaffes and all). Sure, she appears in dozens of ads…but geez, her fashion, who cares.

“Yume no Hajimarinrin” is the latest example of how she makes it looks like she’s above the typical J-pop field. It is a “sakura song,” or a track released right before the cherry blossoms bloom across Japan. That’s the time when students graduate from school and workers move onto new jobs, too, so it’s a good time to cash in on some memories. A lot of these songs suck, warmed-up mono no aware delivered in joyless ballad form. Bands like Ikimonogakari peddle this stuff, and are massive snoozefests.

Kyary’s latest hits all the same themes…the chorus starts, in English, “goodbye teacher, my friends,” and the Japanese words are not breaking stride…but manages to be better/more interesting than the typical seasonal fare. It helps a lot that the song skips along, complete with zippy guitar lines and some nice synchopated beats. Sure, this will probably still pop up in some high school’s graduation Power Point, but at least you could bounce around to this while feeling sad.

Yet it also shines because of how easily it slides into the image of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu presented to listeners. Really, this should have been the first single to come out after last year’s Nanda Collection, an album where she spends a substantial amount of time trying to figure out who she is and trying to decide how scary becoming an adult really is. That full-length ended with a song devoted to the question, with her realizing she doesn’t have to sacrifice one entirely for the other (translation).

"Yume" might be a song about moving on from daily routes and teachers…and, save for a self-aware line about cramming all this into a song, isn’t far from the lyrics of those boring ballads popping up on shelves this time of year (even the central phone imagery is off)…but it works because of what Kyary is all about. Ever since she let her hyperactive-kid image slide a bit on “Drinker,” she’s been at her best when she’s trying to navigate the transition from youth to adulthood. Unlike the overly saccharine ballads that capitalize on time, “Yume” works because Kyary’s whole theme revolves around the struggles of growing up, and graduation really is a great continuation of that. This song is not special from other “sakura songs” nor is Kyary a J-pop aberration, but it shows how she manages to rise above.

(Also, it helps that the video isn’t, like, set in a high school, and only makes passing reference to actual graduation. Also helps that it has a polar bear rocking the fuck out.) 

The video is the most overtly attention-grabbing thing here, what with its sad polar bear and retrospective career-of-Kyary concept, but I really like this song too! Then again, I actually like, for instance, AKB48’s “So Long!" — an opinion decidedly not universal — so perhaps sakura songs just really do it for me.

(though the other day I actually said “narrativize” in an email and felt exactly as terrible about it as I deserved.)



sure, it’s really awful that a magic crown has warped his mind into delusional insanity, but also it doesn’t change the fact that Ice King is a predatory creep and I’m sorta not willing to ignore that just because poor Simon.



Hey, chill. I’m not in grad school; I don’t use dumb words like “problematic.” I say things are a problem or I say things are offensive. And sometimes I even talk about what I think of TV characters.

(Source: terezis)



I thought I’d never see you again.

i’m not okay like i’m just never going to be okay again, is that okay, i’m pretty sure i’m allowed to never be fine again about this

five seasons in and the level of emotional payoff for ”betty” was immense; i mean, i guess, what i’m trying to say is, my old-school uk comics crew can keep their soon-to-be-exactly-37-years-old 2000AD to themselves, for consistent quality and unexpected climactic “punchlines” and just overall dedication to unfussy mixtures of short-short-form narrative and serial consistency building to climaxes that hinge on the measured weight of years of tension in waiting i’ll rate adventure time over it any day any date. (i cared more about the outcome of this episode than i did “day of chaos”. a hell of a lot more. deal with it, boys.)

just. wow. holy shit. my emotions are like, all over the place right now, and these cats did that to me in like, only ten minutes. would that every piece of television - every cartoon i’ve ever seen, and i’ve seen a lot of them - could do that to me, or whatever their intended equivalent would be; i could almost imagine a way to be a conscientious critic of the art of the tube that didn’t involve coming from a place of affectionately preemptive contempt. 

i mean, also, like, just, “leave me here to die”, that too, but … for real. ENDLESS SOBBING

Heh, the old school UK comics crew involve a whole bunch of Dads who adore Adventure Time. (Well I hope it does). We tend to see it completely out of sequence cos Cartoon Network UK doesn’t give a monkeys about things like themes, progression, macro narratives, etc. The accident of timing that led to me encountering AT via my kids is one of the coincidences of my cultural life I’m most humbly thankful for.

Like, this was a totally awesome episode/arc and I continue to despair that so many critics and other serious TV types out there are ignoring that one of the best shows on TV is a ten minutes kids’ cartoon.

But, like, I still kinda have this thing with Simon Petrikov about how, sure, it’s really awful that a magic crown has warped his mind into delusional insanity, but also it doesn’t change the fact that Ice King is a predatory creep and I’m sorta not willing to ignore that just because poor Simon.

(Source: terezis)

So here is a story about friendship and Taylor Swift (but mostly about friendship)

Japanese stories.

  • mizufae answered your question:Guys! I am seeking recommendations!?
    A quiet and beautiful movie about the Japanese traditions around death “Departures” from 2008. Give it a go.

    Thanks Mizu! I shall check it out.

  • Meanwhile, Patrick suggests Ashita Mama ga Inai; Yasunari Kawabata’s Snow Country; and Yukio Mishima’s The Sound of Waves and The Temple of The Golden Pavilion.
  • And on Twitter, Marc advises I investigate Yojimbo, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, and Eiji Yoshikawa’s Musashi.

EDIT: More good advices:

mizufae replied to your post:Japanese stories.
oh, also, amazing short films of handcraftsmanship at gucci japan’s youtube account…

Guys! I am seeking recommendations!?

Hello everyone. As I have mentioned occasionally in this space, I am planning a trip to Japan. And maybe a short visit to South Korea. But mostly Japan. For three to four weeks.

Anyway, with my departure date little more than two months away, I’m getting ready by booking flights locating accommodation seeking media set in and about Japan as a form of pre-travel mental preparation. And since I don’t have much of an idea of what sort of media I am looking for, I am going to ask you guys for recommendations!

Some notes:

  • Books, TV, and movies are good! As are other things that I haven’t thought of!
  • Music is not as important. I am not by any means an expert on Japanese music, but I know some things and I know how to find more. Unless you’ve got in mind the Kitakyushu answer to Separation Sunday or the Tokyo Illmatic, (i.e. albums that vividly and conceptually illustrate a city) I’m fine on my own in this regard.
  • Anime is not as important. I’m a basic bitch in re anime, like, I haven’t seen most of Evangelion and none of Cowboy Bebop, but, also I’ve watched enough anime to know what’s going on in that regard and, also, I’d like to avoid the sort of Japanese cultural exports most typically consumed by Westerners. But, you know, if you can tell me about Osaka’s animated answer to The Wire, I’ll make an exception.
  • Stories by Japanese people are much preferred! I probably will read John Hersey’s Hiroshima before I go, but I’d like to keep the gaijin to a minimum.
  • Stories that have been translated/subtitled in English please! I have the reading level of a sophisticated three-year-old and the comprehension level of a dimwitted two-year-old.
  • I will see The Wind Rises when it’s released in Australia (this week) and I am aware of Haruki Murakami.

Help? Thanks?

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