Friday, December 22, 2006
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Thematically, it's about the very simple idea that, in this Postmodern world of ours, human beings—all of us—are worth less. We're worth less every day, despite the fact that some of us are achieving more and more. It's the triumph of capitalism.
--David Simon, interview in Slate
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
season 1 recap
season 2 recap
season 3 recap
and season 4
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
2. tis the season to fluff your dollars. we hope to bring back a new and improved version of the fluffy dollars drinking game.
3. Laguna Beach just gets skankier and skankier. But Tessa and Rocky are very interesting young women. Or rather, their depiction within the context of the show is interesting. The whole "mean girls" vs. "nice girls" is as old as snow, but it's never been an especially pronounced theme on the show before. Sure, you had Kristin vs. Lauren, but Cami and Kyndra are way meaner and more gnarly than Kristin. And Lauren didn't really have any of the nobility they're trying to heap on Tessa and Rocky. As for the boys, an annoying boy of the week post is coming re: Rocky's manchop Alex, Kyndra's Tyler, and everybody's fuckbuddy Cameron. This is by far the most emotionally abusive cadre of dudes yet.
4. Hey! I'm learning how to design web pages. Here's a the first draft of our homepage.
5. Puppytire has a new friend.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Perhaps for striking people as a "smug little twit," in the words of Seth Stevenson, ad critic for Slate. Long, he adds, is "just the sort of unshaven, hoodie-wearing, hands-in-pockets hipster we've always imagined when picturing a Mac enthusiast.... It's like Apple is parodying its own image while also cementing it."
Monday, October 23, 2006
Saturday, October 14, 2006
But the new mac tv ad campaign is so annoying. You know, the ones that feature a schleby guy in a tie saying he's a PC and a smarmy guy with facial pubes saying he's a mac. I guess we're on the third or fourth commercial by now. Anyway, the mac commercial I just saw featured supermodel Giselle. Giselle is supposed to represent an i-movie. A hairy, cross dressed man represents the pc movie.
This commercial makes me prefer PCs for the following reasons:
1. If I am asked to chose between schluby and smarmy, I'll take schluby. The mac guy is one of the most obnoxious characters I've ever seen. I hate that type of guy. If you are that that type of guy, cut it out. srsly.
2. If I am asked to chose between a supermodel and a transvestite, I'll take the transvestite; this person is much more socially-radical, and s/he promotes a fluid interpretation of gender. The supermodel is incredibly problematic.
I'm not saying I don't *get* the metaphor. I just think its premise and execution are incredibly annoying. Almost every commercial is offensive and annoying, but people are always talking about how hip and edgy mac's ad-campaigns are. Whatevs. This commercial makes me associate macs are with suburban, smarmy, white boys who think they're cool just because they read pitchfork and like the films of Quentin Tarantino.
Anyway, the new HP commercials with Jay-Z and Pharell are less annoying. And anything is better than those computer commercials that had the blue men pretending to be processors. Yikes. But it seems to me that very few commercials for computers feature women. And most representations of computer use in tv and movies seem to focus on the geeky "computer guy." Thankfully, Veronica Mars is all about the techie ladies, though the main computer whiz on that show is named -- you guessed it -- Mac.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Monday, October 09, 2006
Ice-T (born Tracy Marrow) will educate the students on a variety of subjects, including learning to rhyme, timing, scratching and break-dancing.
Rap School is geared toward exposing the prep school scholars to Hip-Hop culture, while proving to skeptical parents and faculty that rap can be a positive force.
The show will also concentrate on teaching students how to express themselves through rap, as well as how to find their voices and conquer personal issues such as shyness, speech problems and divorce.
After pressure-packed auditions and recording sessions, the kids' skills will be put to the test with a final exam: opening up for rap pioneers Public Enemy at the acclaimed B.B. King's Club in New York City.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Friday, October 06, 2006
Thursday, October 05, 2006
13 going on 30: Chick Flick Sick? Teen Movie Tricks? or Does it Just Have Something to Do with Mark Ruffalo?
I like Clueless, Legally Blonde, and Mean Girls. I'm a sucker for six-hour A&E period dramas like Pride and Prejudice and Vanity Fair. My favorite movies growing up were Freaky Friday and Heathers. I think all of these are considered "chick flicks." But I hate crap like Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally. And I can't even watch Affair to Remember or Dirty Dancing -- or --holy hell-- Pretty Woman. [I will never ever stop being shocked by the number of women who list Pretty Woman as one of their favorite movies. Fuck.]
Anyway, the subject of chick flicks and teen movies** has been on my mind since I watched 13 going on 30 and found it totally compelling. I didn't see it in theaters. I'm pretty sure it was out around the same time as Mean Girls, and I didn't even go to the movies to see that. I haven't ever really been a fan of Jennifer Garner, despite the fact that she kicked ass on Alias (I just couldn't get past its inferiority in comparison to Buffy). It was only because it was recommended by a friend that I even considered watching this movie.
Anyway, 13 going on 30 seems to exists in the Bermuda triangle of genres -- somewhere between the saccharine Olsen/Disney movie, the chick flick, and the teen movie. It's like Big or Freaky Friday in that's it's a high concept farce that exploits the premise of "be careful what you wish for," but this also means that it must negotiate some pretty, er, creepy scenarios when kids end up in very, um, adult situations. And it's inversion of the Lolita story -- the way the fantasy reveals a grown man's desire for someone with a 30 year old woman's body but with the brain of a 13 year old -- is, um, pretty strange. Moreover, the movie's (apparent) evasion of any explicitly gendered issue is curious; the notions of "nice" and "mean" are diced and discussed, but this doesn't seem to connect to anyone's consciousness re: constructions of femininity. Overall, this movie is an odd cocktail of winsome and creepy, charming and confusing, refreshing and disappointing.
I can't help but wonder if this also says something about this particular cultural moment; Mean Girls and The Devil Wears Prada are two movies which seem content to at once diagnose the conditions that lead to "mean girl" behavior (patriarchy, capitalism) and to ultimately acquiesce to the status quo. While I find both of the aforementioned movies entertaining, I would never call them progressive. In fact, I consider them quite the opposite, especially compared to movies like Heathers and Cruel Intentions.
But I cannot write about 13 going on 30 without mentioning Mark Ruffalo. I've liked him since seeing You Can Count on Me. And his role in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mine was way too tiny (in my version he played the part Jim Carey played). But I didn't even know that he was in 13 Going on 30. I just assumed the male lead was played by Jared Padalecki or some other clown. But it's Mark Ruffalo. And he is really really good.
*Okay, I know what you're thinking. I only felt like talking about this movie because of Ruffalo. That could be true.
**I'll likely be writing more about teen movies in the coming months, as I like to have them on as I work on my teen novel(s). Would love to know what y'all think about this genre.
ETA: The 13 going on 30 dvd comes in a pink case that smells like bubblegum. ick.
Monday, October 02, 2006
Thursday, September 28, 2006
for season 7 of the Gilmore Girls. Hopefully we won't have to watch Lorelei and Rory take a bunch of crap from their boyfriends anymore. I mean, we have Laguna Beach for that. Anyway, now that Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars are on the same network, they seem to be sharing stars. Word on the street is that Logan Huntzberger (Matt Czuchry) will be on VM and I just found out that Gia Goodman (Krysten Ritter) is going to be one of Rory's new friends at Yale. I'm so into girlfriends. Word.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Saturday, September 23, 2006
2. I am enjoying the new season of Laguna Biatch
3. I'm into DK. 15 years ago that DK would have stood for the Dead Kennedys. Now it stands for Danity Kane. (tho I still like the Dead Kennedys, fyi). Also, I think I like two songs by Hillary Duff and two songs by Kelly Clarkson. I think they are way better than the Arcade Fire or the Firery Furnaces or Death Cab or Animal Collective or whatever else the cool kids are listening to.
4. I've totally flipped re: my attitude toward the 6th season of the Gilmore Girls. How can I explain this? Perhaps I've accepted Rory. Perhaps I've accepted that the show is writ larger than life -- that the gestures are broad. I'm still mulling it over. But it is strange. I threw things at the TV last year. But watching the 6th season on DVD has been really fun. This is, of course, further evidence that all tv is better on DVD.
5. I have a love/hate relationship with IKEA
more confessions coming soon.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Saturday, September 09, 2006
So the move is about 75% done. We are still waiting for our stuff, which creates a sort of limbo state. I find it difficult to do ANYTHING without a desk, let alone a basic surface. That said, I'm eager to get back to blogging. I wasn't feeling it for awhile...everything felt like blah blah blah...but I think fall will bring some renewed energy to the activity. Not that I will be saying anything of great import (those of you who are at all familiar with the content of this blog know this). And I don't plan to make any fancy changes. There may be fewer celebrities, but the focus on fluffy commerce and entertainment will remain. So there.
Also, the lack of stuff is making me want to buy stuff. If you're interested in the things I want you can check out my newest totally pointless blog: fluffy ways to spend dollars.
Friday, August 25, 2006
Anyway, here are a few chuckle-worthy pics from the Macy's display windows in downtown Santa B.
Aspiring Poet (note the glasses):
Aspiring Indie Film Makers:
And how has your summer been?
Sunday, August 06, 2006
Saturday, July 29, 2006
Friday, July 28, 2006
Friday, July 21, 2006
Jason Wahler (aka "Jay-Wall") never talks to Lauren. When he does, he says fucked up shit like "I want you to never talk" or "You keep making mistake after mistake" even though all Lauren ever does is forgive him and buy him expensive gifts like golf clubs and dog tags. His attitude towards her is hardly loving or affectionate or even -- dare I say it -- sexual; he literally treats her like property -- forbidding her to talk to other men, even if it's for her job. He pouts and scowls when Lauren tells him she was sad when he decided to spend his birthday doing lines and partying with high school skanks instead of cuddling with her. His reaction to her articulation of any feeling other than submission is either volatile or sulky. He threatens to break up with her on New Year's Eve because Lauren answered her phone (it was another guy calling), even thought the event happened days before new year's. On Lauren's birthday, he rents a room at the Standard, but then sulks when Lauren wants to hang out in the room instead of going out. I'm sorry, but why the hell would you get a hotel room if you didn't want to take bubble baths together or feed each other strawberries or, I don't know, have sex without your roommates being around. I can only guess that Jason wanted to go out because he needed some blow. Either that, or he doesn't really like Lauren. My hunch is that it is probably both.
I read on a message board somewhere that Jason is bipolar, so that could explain the moodiness. But moody or not -- he treats Lauren like shit and should be held accountable. I also read that he's been in and out of rehab for coke and alcohol, that he never finished high school, and that he used to hit ex-girlfriend Alex M (also from LB season 2). On LB we saw him treat ex-gf Jessica like dirt, then we saw him kiss Jessica in front of Lauren even though he had already started dating Lauren. He's a total ass, and I have no idea why Lauren even got back together with him. One of our friends has speculated that he must be, er, well endowed if you know what I mean. But he's so abusive and so volatile that I'm always half-expecting the crew to drop their cameras and stage some sort of intervention.
The Hills makes me wonder what the current climate of reality tv ethics is really like. When Ruthie, one of the cast members of Real World Hawaii, developed a drinking problem, she was asked to leave the show and get help. On this season of the Real World, there are three women. One of them has been raped, and another one of them physically abused. The one whose boyfriend used to hit her is also suffering from an eating disorder. On The Hills, we see Lauren subjected to Jason's manipulative and erratic behavior episode after episode. Though each conflict is later reflected on as a "silly fight" or Jason just "being a guy," it's hard not to imagine what the long term effects might be. It's sorta like watching someone cut down a tree with a kitchen knife.
This does not seem okay to me, but is it weird that I'm surprised? The irony of living in a such a highly litigious culture has had me thinking that -- despite all the potential for exploitation -- execs and producers of reality shows would not only be wary of endangering their subjects, but would be unable to stand by by idly should a dangerous interpersonal situation develop. But lately I've begun to suspect this notion of mine is incredibly naive. I mean, if producers are not going to step in when people are hitting and punching each other, they're not going to do jack shit about someone's misogynistic and emotionally abusive boyfriend.
So is this evidence that MTV's version of reality totally sucks? Or does it simply confirm that the whole genre of "reality tv" is just plain voyeuristic and unethical and sick? And what about those of us watching?
My sense is that Lauren and Jason's relationship is particularly bad, but I'm worried that the reactionary climate of gender relations depicted on this show (and so many others) is actually more typical that I could ever guess. I find the fact that this behavior is perceived to be normal by Lauren and her friends terribly troubling, and I worry that the show's main audience -- young women -- might also perceive it to be okay.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Ten Pounds To The Sound
The NAFTA (TLC) Tratado de Libre Comercio
Chris Cogburn . percussion . USA
Juan Garcia . double bass . Mexico
Kurt Newman . acoustic guitar . Canada
Friday, July 21st, 2006
Okay Mountain Gallery
1312 E. Cesar Chavez, Ste. B
(at Navasota - behind the Pinata store)
Gallery opens at 7pm
Music begins at 8pm
admission is FREE
refreshments provided - byob encouraged
In celebration of the deterioration of Late Stage Capitalism and the transition to the rising Western Hemisphere Socialism, Ten Pounds To The Sound is proud to present a farewell concert for two of Texas' most beloved improvising musicians - Juan Garcia (originally from Monterrey, Mexico) and Kurt Newman (from Toronto, Canada). Both are leaving the tender state of Texas later this summer for the sunny optimisms of Arizona and California, respectively.
Juan and Kurt have both given a remarkable amount of time, energy and creativity to those lucky enough to have performed, worked and studied with them. Their contributions to the creative communities of Austin and Houston are invaluable, and will be dearly missed - though often reflected upon and "inspired by"...
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Tyler is the biggest prick I've seen on TV in awhile. He could give those entourage boys a run for their money, and he isn't even playing a character -- he's just playing himself. He's bitchy, manipulative, and mean as nails. He tortures he roommates for fun, and he especially loves to torture Svetlana (who, btw, is the only cast member who is even remotely interesting and is only 19. Tyler is a prissy 23 y.o. graduate of Tufts.). In the last episode I saw, Tyler compared Svetlana to a puppy who "needs to be punished...so that's what I did...I punished her." Yuck. He keeps a log of all the "stupid things" that Svetlana has said (I would counter that Svetlana says totally awesome stuff like "is the Everglades a mall?" and "my cat can say 'hello, Svetlana'"). When Svetlana finds the book, it make her cry, and prompts her to call her mom. At this point, Tyler has done enough grisly stuff to Svetlana to make any mama mad. So of course S's mom tries to comfort Svet by telling her to ignore the behavior of these "low lifes." Tyler, who of course cannot resist eavesdropping, overhears S's mama say this, and cannot resist jumping in. Next thing you know, he's yelling over S.'s shoulder into the phone. Yup, he's yelling at HER MOTHER. WHAT. THE. FUCK???? He then writes S a nasty note -- in which he calls her a "low-life" bitch -- and tapes it to her door. What a nasty freak.
Anyway, you get the idea. I can't really write anymore because I'm starting to feel sick. I'll just note that it's sad that Tyler seems so eager to play into the stereotype of the "mean gay guy." Get a life already.
also, the mtv website is really annoying.
Monday, July 10, 2006
So the whole debacle surrounding Star Jones's departure from The View has been interesting to me for several reasons, but mostly because the conflict and the way it has been reported/represented illustrates the way in which "the catfight" phenom is totally dependent on the surrounding context -- that is, a climate in which women's bodies (Star), sexuality (Rosie), and power (Walters) are constantly subjected to scrutiny. I'm not saying that in an alternate universe these women would be best friends, and I'm not saying that I'd ever want to be stuck in an elevator with one of them or seated next to one of them on a long plane ride, and I'm not saying that they haven't behaved in a way that is unsavory. But I do think that the contours of the the conflict and the way it is being talked about have a lot in common with the way "mean girls" and " the hidden culture of aggression in girls" were being discussed in the media several years ago. It seems people are all to eager to believe that women/girls are inherently "mean" and "bitchy" and that this behaviour has nothing to do with big picture gender-dynamics. Nevermind that all the late night talk shows are hosted by men, that (until very recently) all the evening news anchors were men, and that women are typically expected to be thin and pretty and agreeable and straight if they're going to make it on the big or little screen.
I've been trying to think of comparable conflicts between male media folks/co-hosts. With men, conflicts are often depicted as a "letterman vs. CBS" capitalist/ceo fight or an uber-masculine "Jay-Z vs. _____" heroic-boast Beowulf throw-back fight. Obviously, aggression between men is much more acceptable, especially when it's validated by a quest for the almighty dollar.
Anyway, I've never been a fan of the view. There are times when I've felt it had its merits, though I can't remember what I ever thought those merits might have been. I have this feeling that they've all "sold out;" the show reeks of bush-era complacency/lethargy, and that's disappointing. They're in an industry that they cannot challenge without imperiling their own success. This is true for most people in showbiz, but seems especially true for women. I am curious to see how Rosie will be integrated into the show. The fact that she's out and writes this crazy pseudo-poetry blog make her seem mildly interesting. But I'm not holding my breath.
*btw, if you do an image search for "the view" on google, you mostly get pics of star jones.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Monday, July 03, 2006
Friday, June 30, 2006
My brother kindly alerted to me to Pope Benedict's call for an end to secularoid music during Mass and perhaps in general. Out with the guitars, in with the Gregorian chant and simple polyphony. My reaction? Well, I am not a Catholic, so I don't really have a dog in this race, but I kind of like this pronouncement. Why? Well, of course, not because of the motivation behind the ban: which (I assume) is a rollback of the liberal innovations of the Second Vatican Council, to appease the Scalias and other rightwing ultras/Opus Dei reactionaries, etc. Obviously, we cannot take the loony right's guns away... but perhaps the Pope's statement will encourage voluntary divestiture of guitars.
After watching "God's Next Army," a terrifying documentary on Patrick Henry University in Virginia on the Discovery Times network (thank goodness this channel finally realized that nobody wants to watch endless footage of nerdy Stephen Glass-type journos investigating "wacky Americana" like "gay rodeos"), which featured tomorrow's Grover Norquists and Ralph Reeds strumming guitars while singing about the glory of Christ and the abomination of Congress sunsetting the Estate Tax repeal, I thought: "Good for you, Pope!" We have to keep guitars out of the hands of these conservatives. Now I know that Patrick Henry students are fundamentalist Protestants, not Catholics, but from what I have read, there is a fair bit of common ground between super-right Catholics and Protestants: rejection of evolution, anti-feminism, anti-choice, anti-gay marriage, and support for Bush-style authoritarianism and the War on Terror. Like I said, it is better if these people don't have guitars.
The first time I learned to link the ugliness of state power and the repression of music was, of course, that classic Eighties trifecta: Footloose, Styx's Kilroy Was Here, and Twisted Sister's "I Wanna Rock" video. A little bit later, in a discussion of the tritone interval that kicks off Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze," a helpful Guitar For The Practicing Musician scribe mentioned the Council of Trent's medieval ban on this satanic diminished diad, which led to a lifelong interest in the ways in which the history of music has been shaped by the Church and the State and other ideological and repressive state apparatusussses setting the rules of acceptable and verboten pitch combinations, rhythms, and timbres. The Pope's ruling is directly in line with this tradition, which, since Plato, has worried mostly about the subversive effects of musical sounds not subordinate to textual meaning. Perhaps some young Catholic kid out there is going to go to Church one weekend, and notice the guitar accompaniment they like is no longer there, because the Pope said so. I have a feeling that kid is going to start thinking differently about power and authority and art's disruptive potentials.
Not only did the Pope weigh in on matters musical this week, but also George W. Bush managed to sneak in a wonderful music reference yesterday. According to Democracy Now, Bush was showing Japanese President Junichiro Koizumi around Graceland when the Supreme Court's 5-3 ruling on the illegality of military tribunals for WOT detainees was handed down. At the press conference shortly thereafter, he joked to the assembled journalists-- who were about to ask about the status of his administration's policy of locking up foreign subjects without charges for over 5 years, with no idication that their sentences were not interminable, often subjecting them to extreme forms of torture, and denying them even the right to suicide-- that, like Elvis's sweetheart in his famous song, he hoped they would heed his request: "Don't Be Cruel." Here is a lesser-known Elvis lyric with which they might have countered: "Go Fuck Yourself, Douchebag."
Monday, June 26, 2006
| You scored as White Rabbit. You're constantly worrying about everything, and always in a rush. If you were diagnosed with any psychological ailment, it'd probably be anxiety disorder.|
Which Alice in Wonderland Character are YOU?
created with QuizFarm.com
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
1. ) Midori Umi, a radtacular band with porkmuffin (aka paula j smith) @ the 710 on Thursday.
2.) Finally Punk and Kiosk @ the Parlour on Friday.
a.) I am really into gin. And pinot grigio. I love summer!
b.) for those of you into the p to the o to the erty: FOURSQUARE is the bestest publication I've ever seen. Feel the love.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Sunday, June 18, 2006
*Kathy Griffin's My Life of the D List. I think KG is really funny, and at times pretty darn radical. This week the episode is about the time she spent in IRAQ, and that promises to be pretty compelling. I'm curious to see how a show that is basically about Hollywood will depict the war.
*The Hills. Okay, I watch this show. Partly because LC is like this little trembling deer, and partly because Heidi seems to be the first graduate from the Kristen Cavallari School of Acting. These girls are not really interesting, and all the boys on the show are hardly distinguishable from orangutans, but still I will watch. Although I hear Jason is coming back this week and I think he is really really boring, so...
*Making the Band. This first episode of this season was really weak. I just can't get into Shannon. She seems like a nice enough girl, but she lacks charisma. Aundrea is my favorite. The focus of the first episode was on the girls' trip to NOLA for Mardi Gras, and to be honest, it seemed really strange. And sad. Dawn is from NOLA, and the cameras followed the girls into her neighborhood that is basically a huddle of moldy debris. And then she went to her high school, and the girls made a donation of 5k. I have no idea what sort of money the Making the Band girls have, but it is for sure a helluva lot less than Diddy, who owns single pieces of jewelry that could probably fund that school for a year. But that isn't even the point. The point is that Mardi Gras, and the whole push to revive NOLA through tourism seems really fucked up. And the Making the Band girls couldn't really hide their bewilderment and confusion. Dawn especially, who has since relocated to Baltimore, seemed troubled. I mean, she basically went to her old neighborhood and her mom's old business -- both of which were in tatters -- and then got on a float and danced for a handful of white tourists. It just seemed odd. And confused. And sad.
*At some point, I'd like to write more extensively about VH1's Can't Get a Date and National Geographic's The Dog Whisperer, which both seem to be a new kind of self-help show. I like both of these shows very much.
That's all for now. What are you watching?
Friday, June 16, 2006
BRITNEY and the notion of the "BAD MOTHER" or What's Up with Matt Lauer? A few preliminary questions
Anyhow, I came across this video via ONTD, and it seems like a very strange sort of cultural document, or rather, it seems like a document from a very strange culture.
Here are some initial thoughts/questions:
- Is Matt Lauer the new Barbara Walters? He can really push. Someone has to make a conceptual art piece using footage from this interview spliced with footage from the Tom Cruise interview.
- What role do gender constructions -- specifically constructions of motherhood, girlhood, femininity, and sexuality -- play in the way we talk about Britney. How much has Britney deviated/undermined and complied with/promoted these constructions? How has the "idea" of "Britney Spears" become the site for contradictions and questions about youth, gender, sexuality, celebrity, and class... And to what degree are the dynamics of these questions shaped by fluctuating depictions of Britney as either passive or active -- especially in comparison to other controversial performer/celeb moms (ie Madonna).
- Britney subtly alludes to the role classism has played in her scrutiny (she has often been referred to as "white trash" and the "new Anna Nicole Smith"). I've always sensed a sort of hostility towards Britney because she's a country girl who made a ton of dough.
- Is the criticism of Britney at all influenced by constructions of race? What is the relationship between constructions of race and motherhood? Is there a connection/relationship b/w this and the blatant racism embedded in right-wingers' critiques of welfare?
- How does the media's treatment of Britney relate to other cultural attitudes re: motherhood?
- Is there a precedent for this sort of scrutiny? I'm reaching here, but I can't help thinking about the wives of Henry VIII who were cast off because they did not produce an heir. Or is this scrutiny not really so unusual, and perhaps only seems extraordinary because Britney is so famous?
- How has first-world capitalism influenced notions of parenting? And when, exactly, did the contemporary notion of parenting emerge? What is the history of parenting literature? The history of books like What to Expect when you're Expecting?
Your opinions, ideas, and arguments are much appreciated.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Also, a mysterious "someone" e-mailed me some cutie crack. It involves a kitten. You can check it out here. Ususally I am not a huge fan of the feline. Although I LOVE ALL ANIMALS, I've never been a "cat" person. That said, doing the Texas Cutie Crack makes me want to do more posts devoted to the lesser known and less conventionally cute creatures. Feel free to comment or e-mail if you have suggestions.
Expect a recap of tonight's episode tomorrow!!!!
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
If you blog, and even if you don't, you'll probably find Richard Lanham's The Economics of Attention pretty interesting.
Re-reading this article by Katha Pollitt has gotten me excited about reading her new book, Virginity or Death! "Virginity or Death!" is also a very good name for an all girl band.
peace out, Humphrey.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Sorry I haven't posted lately... other exciting concerns have occupied my timez. I wanted to let y'all know that I have started a new blog, called I Hear A New World, which will supplement Fluffy Dollars (but which will in no way mean that I stop bloggin here). I Hear A New World is a specifically music-focused forum for my musical thoughts of a musical nature. I will appreciate any traffic that y'all can direct towards my new thing. No hard feelings, of course, if such things bore you to tears. I think this music thing is going to catch on, though. Tomorrow's artform.
BTW: Vh1's SuperGroup is incredible! I lurved it when Sebastian Bach forces Ted Nugent, Scott Ian, Evan Seinfeld, and Jason Bonham to watch the Gilmore Girls. Greatest TV moment in recent memory.
Monday, June 12, 2006
Also, have you seen LC's The Hills? MTV...how do they do it? So slick and nasty. That Heidi is one big biotch. Also, more making the band 3 is right around the corner.
We got season 1 of the Dog Whisperer on DVD. I like dogs, did you know that?
I met David Levithan and Rachel Cohn last night. It was rad.
I be feral these days! Watch out!
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Friday, June 02, 2006
On discussing his bottom-baring "equal-opportunity" nudity (ie it shouldn't just be girls who show skin) in HBO's Big Love.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
It tasted like feet. Like salad dressing. I knew as soon as I unscrewed the cap. It's noxious fumes bloomed like vinegar. And still I took one sip. Two sips. Blech. I screwed the lid on and threw it in my bag, hoping that perhaps it would taste better later. The SB and I were off to an indie-rock show, and a drink always comes in handy.
Twenty minutes later, I noticed an unpleasant odor coming from my bag. Sure enough, the Kombucha had leaked a little, and now my notebook, wallet, and all the annoying bits of paper that populate the bottom of my purse were soaked in the pink-piss. I discretely disposed of the Kombucha by putting it in a corner on the ground, intending to collect it on my way out so I could put it in the trash. But it wasn't long before a fellow show goer found it, and because he seemed to be a Kombucha fan, I offered it to him (I had only take a sip). Even he gagged on the stuff. I was then told I'd gotten the "wrong flavor." Whatever. I hardly believe that shit has a right flavor.
Oddly enough, the fact that it tasted like smelly socks has convinced me that Kombucha is probably really good for you. And as much as I feel like a big sucka for quaffing the other aforementioned overpriced elixirs, I've pretty much made peace with my fondness for the jewel-toned and fragrant silly waters. At least they taste good.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Commercials freak me out. Especially the ones with little kids talking about juice. Yikes.
But two newish commercials aren't freaking me out as much as they seem to be signifying the ultimate de-fanging/crossover of two (historically or potentially) radical musical genres.*
The first one is the "Punky Chips Ahoy, Oi! Oi!." In this commercial, cherubic claymation punks (white kids with green liberty spikes and mohawks, combat boots, and cuffed jeans) and a giant, puffy-looking cookie cabaret kick their way down a London street as fisher-price sounding buzz-saw guitars churn their way through anemic Sex Pistols-style chords. They're singing all about "punky chips ahoy" until they're interrupted by a scowling bobby with a billy club who informs them -- "it's not PUNKY, it's CHUNKY." Oh, hilarious first-letter confusion!!!
Now, I feel compelled to tell you that the SB describes this commercial as "really cute." I also have a hunch that some of you will get a kick out of reading about how one singer was dubbed "too punky for cookie commercials." Interesting, since as the SB notes, this quality of "punkiness" is something -- in the corporate mind -- that is totally separate from the performance of punk. Moreover, the British version of punk sort of declared itself sold-out from the start, so the fact that it has taken 30 years to make it into a snack food commercial gestures towards a meta-meta cycle of corporate-capitalist culture.
There is another commercial I'd like to talk to you about, and this one is for Pepto-Bismol. This commercial involves hip-hoppers rapping about the virtues of Pepto. I wish I remembered this commercial better; I only saw it once and I can't find it on the web. But the fact that rap is being used to market an upset-stomach aid strikes me as a little novel. I already bemoaned the use of hip-hop in the AVIS commercials, which struck me as borderline offensive (white business men in ties rapping along to a song about "stacking cheese;" but when the boss calls it's all silence and "yes sirs." The grafting of gangsta-style rap onto corporate-lackeys in a rental care just sorta makes me sick). Anyway...pepto.
So I was trying to find evidence of the hip-hop pepto-bismol, and came across this bizarre pepto-bismol dance machine. I don't know if advertising has produced anything weirder than this. If you can think of something, please let me know. The person who offers their weirdest example gets an extra- special, fluffy dollar$ postcard with a personal message handcrafted by moi.
*I know neo-"punk" is full of "sell outs," and yes, I can see how "commercial" laffy-taffy style hip-hop isn't particularly, er, radical. But ya gotta admit, chips ahoy and pepto -- pretty toothless.
Monday, May 22, 2006
2. Soon, really soon, I will need a job.
3. Apparently, K-Fed doesn't write his own songs (!)
4. I'm thinking of getting a digital camera. Any suggestions?
5. I'm brainstorming for a gender & food post. In texas there is this crazy burger king commercial for "man burgers," and mzn was just writing about jamba juice's "femme boost." Some of this "gendering" seems to happen due to the idea that men and women need different nutrients (Luna Bars, the new Tab Energy) -- in other words, the food as medicine trend. Other gendering seems to happen based on the more mainstream notions/constructions of masculinity and femininity ("man burgers"). I'm interested in how these two trends are related, and if one strategy is more effective with either men or women than the other.
6. I'm finally doing that Flickr thing. And for cute click here.
Friday, May 19, 2006
For those who are unfamiliar with this story, or with the world in which it has erupted, here is my understanding of the sitch. Stephen Merritt is a beloved singer/songwriter who has been making melancholy, witty, lyric-driven music for many years under a number of guises: The Magnetic Fields, Gothic Archies, Future Bible Heroes, etc. His music (which I have enjoyed for many years, and which also, along with shared admiration for the great Bethesda, Maryland motorik rockers Trans Am, provided the fodder for the first conversation between me and my beloved Femme Feral) draws on influences as varied as early 80s New Wave and synth-pop, Tin Pan Alley songcraft, and lo-fi college-rock confessionalism.
Strike one: a well-known rock writer, (a white fellow who went to the same fancy private high school as the Beastie Boys), and who has long written about black music for major publications suggested a while back that Merritt's fondness for "white" music and indifference to black music (demonstrated by a top 10 list or some such thing that he had written for a magazine) was prima facie evidence of a racist mindset.
Strike two: apparently, Merritt was on a panel at some sort of music conference and was heard to say that he had liked and/or continued to like the song "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" from the Disney musical Song of the South. As he noted immediately after revealing this factoid, Song of the South is a very racist piece of work, and "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" is modeled after the blackface "coon" song so popular in the early part of the century (and through much of the 19th century).
That's it. Two strikes. If I understand baseball correctly, one needs four strikes to be, as Heidi Klum says, "out." So... once all the dust settled, everyone agreed that there was only a very skimpy record on which to base claims of racism. The folks who needed to apologize have done so, and this should be the end of the story, yes?
Well, in one sense, sure. But in another, this story, like a few others that have circulated recently reveals something about anxiety vis-a-vis the racial politics of "indie" rock or whatever we want to call it. For example, a few months ago it was reported that members of the affluent Brooklyn indie music community, which seems to be a fairly caucasian scene, had been attendees at "Kill Whitey" parties. These are parties populated almost entirely by white people, at which hard-core hip hop music is played and the crowd burlesques urban "black" dancing styles in a hypersexual manner.
What these two stories have in common is that, on close analysis, they both require a pretty sophisticated hermeneutics to reach a coherent interpretation. It is not like anybody behaved badly towards a member of a racial minority group, used a racist slur, or made any offensive sweeping generalizations. Why such a fuss over two anecdotes that, if anything, seem to demonstrate so weakly that racism is a problem in indie rock culture?
Over many discussions, FF and I have pondered this mystery. We came to the conclusion that race is the hidden "repressed" of indie rock, a generic marker that often functions as code for "white rock music not released by major labels (but occasionally released on major labels, and more occassionally made by non-whites, but very seldom made by black people)" which then returns in strange, distorted forms such as Stephen Merritt racism-baiting and post-ironic, Williamsburg-style blackface mimesis.
Here is a short take on this hypothesis, taking the form of a structuralist analysis. Well, I should probably qualify that. In a nod to my favorite academic dis of all time, courtesy of Slavoj Zizek, I would call this approach "spaghetti structuralism" (Zizek aimed this term of derision at famed Italian semiotician and novelist Umberto Eco, whose work Zizek finds shoddy and simplistic... and which he compared to the low-budget "spaghetti Westerns" of Sergio Leone). But here I will try to rehabilitate "spaghetti structuralism" as a kind of folk knowledge, a term that describes the shorthand network of binary oppositions that many people draw upon when thinking about music and culture. The key here is that we are not pointing to "essential" characterstics, but to entirely "contingent" cultural stereotypes that are nonetheless highly meaningful to many people. In popular usage, "black" and "white" musical characteristics provide an excellent example of the reach of "spaghetti structuralism." In fact, we really can't make sense of popular music history without confronting the iron cage of vermicelli pasta.
Recall the episode of the Simpsons when Homer is watching a black comedian on late-night TV dipping into the hackneyed bag of vulgar race compare-and-contrast: mocking the relaxed swagger of black people versus the uptight posture of white people... Homer laughs and exclaims: "It's true! We're so lame!" Or the King of the Hill episode wherein Bobby becomes adept at this genre of comedic racial A/B-ing, and is then instructed by Chris Rock to find a more authentic mode of joke-telling... which leads Bobby to an unfortunate experiment with white-supremacist humor.
What do these examples tell us? Well, they remind us of the "hip/lame" distinction which provides the first split in popular understanding of race and music. If the forerunners of the rock counterculture were the Beats, then we need only look to Kerouac's racist celebration of black anti-authoritarianism, or Norman Mailer's odious but influential essay "The White Negro" to see how deep this foundational assumption runs.
I will not be the first person to suggest that the deliberate avoidance of syncopation in much of the canon of indie rock music contributes to its "white" quality. Nor would I be staking a very original claim by pointing to the "white" valences of affectless or self-consciously arch vocal tendencies favored by many indie rock singers. For those of us who grew up on classic rock, and made the transition to "indie" music after an apprenticeship in 1970s AOR, the links between "black" and "white" and "good" or "bad" are easy to recall. Playing "white" was slang for insufficient motivation, feeling, or expressive capacity in musicians. We understood that there was a reason that Led Zeppelin and the Stones ripped off delta blues records and the performance practices of R&B musicians when they wanted to access fantasies of exotic sexual power in their music, and if we thought about it later (especially in light of the new vogue in indie for British Isles folk music) we also put it together that these groups used white-coded UK folk music when they wished to tap into pastoral fantasies of a white past.
It is my guess that a lot of the musicians who created the first few waves of indie rock grew up in similar milieus, and that the creative decisions that went into the formation of the indie rock aesthetic included critical reflection on these "black"/"white" oppositions. I will further speculate that the decision to explore "unfunky" music-making was, in many cases, a way to avoid the uncomfortable aspects of racial mimesis that were so crucial to rock in its first decades. Thus, I think it is fair to say that, at once, the birth of American indie rock was both a moment of self-conscious reflection on the politics of race in pop music, and the crucible of a certain influential strain of "white" aesthetics. For whatever reason, as the genre came to be concretized this racial aspect came to be submerged and eventually hidden behind other aesthetic and thematic concerns, so that by now it is a fairly controversial move to even talk about race and indie rock...
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
When did you last die?
-- The first of several far out questions. I'm going to say last night, when the SB and I saw what we now call "the suicidal tarantula." We noticed a giant hairy tarantula just cold chillin' in the middle of the road when we went out for our dusk-walk. We steered clear because we were a little afraid of its giant hairiness. When we came back s/he was smooshed -- obviously run over by a car. I felt bad that I didn't bother to move it when we saw it, because it did occur to me that it might get run over just hanging in the middle of the road like that.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
-- Weekends: coffee, and if I've recently been to the store with the yummy apple-lemon-ginger juice, a.l.g. juice. Weekdays: the fear that I should be awake and taking care of something like answering e-mails, filing paperwork for my job...basic anxiety stuff. I hate it.
What became of your childhood dreams?
-- They're still there -- a little bruised, but intact nonetheless.
What sets you apart from everyone else?
-- Another far out question. I empathize with animals so much that it can become disruptive, though I am sure there are others who experience this.
What is missing from your life?
Do you think that everyone can be an artist?
-- I think everyone is an artist. But the whole "artiste" label thing is problematic.
Where do you come from?
-- I was born in WISC but I spent my formative years in SC.
Do you find your lot an enviable one?
-- yeah. I'm hella lucky.
What have you given up?
What do you do with your money?
-- most of it goes to bills and groceries. Also books and art supplies and lip gloss.
What household task gives you the most trouble?
-- all of them. I hate housework. But if I had to single out one it would be dishes.
What are your favorite pleasures?
-- walking and looking at plants and animals, looking at art, getting massages, making out, coffee
What would you like to receive for your birthday?
-- a desk with a thirty-fifty drawers and a HUGE workspace
Cite three living artists whom you detest.
-- See "annoying boys of the week"
What do you stick up for?
-- girls, boys, women, humans, animals
What are you capable of refusing?
-- "thrill seeking" activities, i.e. skydiving, bungee jumping, extreme physical challenges
What is the most fragile part of your body?
-- my eyes
What has love made you capable of doing?
-- hanging up the hang ups
What do other people reproach you for?
-- not calling often enough, not picking up after myself
What does art do for you?
-- Makes me feel hopeful, inspired, humble
Write your epitaph
-- be nice
In what form would you like to return?
-- a shih tzu or a barn swallow
Since this is a festival, my choices are shaped by who I think would be most fun to hear live...
Tribe Called Quest
De La Soul
See N.H.'s answers at You're Nobunny Til Somebunny Lurves You
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Hey Chickadees. Sorry for the low verbal output. All my creative energies have been occupied by poetry and fun new software, and I've been making poems that weeble-wobble and ripple and tipsy-turvy curve. Every letter and word should be spreadable. mmm...yummy. I want to make poems you can walk through -- letters suspended from the ceiling, the floor lit up with word-tiles billie-jean styles. A disco letter ball that spins the alphabet round like a kaleido-whirl of glitter.
What's going on in the world of pop culture? Rihana has a cool song that remixes a bit of "tainted love," a song that -- when I was eleven years old -- seemed perfect for the tap numbers I choreographed in our garage (oddly, my mom couldn't stand the sound of the tapping in the house).
I really miss MC Lyte.
What the fuck was up with the Gilmore Girls finale? I think the Palladinos sabotaged that shit so it would look like whoever took over the show messed it up. Nice try Palladinos -- I'm on to you. I mean, why else would you mess up what was once an AMAZING show. I know I've talked about this a million times before, but every time I see a season one episode it opens the old wound. All I can say is thank jesus for Veronica Mars.
And Top Chef? Did anyone see that reunion. CRAZY. And the real housewives? Watching Bravo is practically like taking peyote this days. What a loop-to-loop. Which reminds me, if you are ever bored you should check out the comments on our long ago post about meet the barkers -- it's a kentucky fried biscuit.
My new tv girlfriends are four of the women from Big Love. I love Chloe Sevigny's Nikki (so sneaky!). Sullen teen daughter Sarah (Amanda Seyfried) is the bomb. VM never had enough of her. And creepy Roman's shrewd and calculating teen wife Rhonda (played by Deveigh Chase, aka that creepy girl from The Ring... known around here as i-pod girl 'cause she steals Sarah's i-pod) totally rocks. And Sarah's goody-good friend Heather (former tv girlfriend Tina Majorino, aka Mac from VM) brings the much needed lesbian undertones to her scenes with Sarah. The friendship b/w Sarah and Heather is one of the most accurate, subtle representations of teen girl friendship I've ever seen. Now, after all this gushing you probably think I love the show. Let the record show that I HATE BILL, and think he is SO BORING, and that his whole story is so trite and predictable. But (most of ) the WOMEN on this show are really interesting and make it well worth watching.
Here is a two sentence abstract of a post I never wrote that was going to be called "Against Achievement": Is anyone else, like, so over achievement? Who the fuck cares?
I'm a sucker for a very obviously overpriced product: Vitamin Water. The fruit punch flavor? Delish. The SB likes Formula 50.
We're moving to California!!
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
From the BBC:
These can either lead to no sperm being produced in semen, or very low sperm counts too low to lead to conception - fewer than three million sperm per millilitre compared to a fertile level of 20 million.
He said research carried out by his team, looking at couples in Edinburgh, Africa and Asia, had found the majority of men would use hormonal contraception - and the majority of women would trust their partners to do so.