September 21, 2012

By request

Not growing up reading C.S. Lewis + no patience for or interest in Christian symbolism = "I don't care about Narnia..."

Except, of course, for this.

September 10, 2012

We Return From Hiatus With A Provocative Claim:

Probably the best thing about Elvis Costello* is the fact that "Beyond Belief" is nearly impossible to sing.


Also, I suggest that while it is a Thing to see Elvis Costello Live, the album version is creepier.  I suppose it backs up my theory that he can't sing the full-on song live, with tricky rhythms and octave-plus spans.  So, for comparison:

*Feel free, in comments, to guess whether I am an Elvis Costello fan, and what my commentary about his TOTAL RACISM and etc. might read like.

June 1, 2012

Raiments of Crom; or, Hear the Lamentations of the Haberdasher


is the t-shirt I own which earns the second-most number of comments.


earns the most, by far. My girlfriend loaned it to me with the fatal directive "You can't have it!" It is mine.)


has never once elicited a comment, which is a shame because it's BAD ASS. It's a detail of this

which is the amazing cover to one of the heaviest albums I own (when the grim day comes that FB changes me over to Timeline, that's sure as hell going to be my cover image). As Pitchfork says, "The thick, suffocating, undeniable heaviness is distorted to death and resurrected over and over again." And, as I noted on Facebook, it is everything I want my Lamentations of the Flame Princess campaign to look like.

The top shirt, the shirt of the Barbarian, is something I have mixed feelings about. It's an awesome image by Renato Casaro, clearly inspired by the most awesome fantasy/SF/naked lady illustrator ever, Frank Frazetta.

However, Frazetta's own Conan work is so awesome,

it's kind of a shame to wear a representation of the iconic barbarian/thief/king that features the features of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

(Though to be honest, if I had a shirt with that image, I would totally wear it).

In closing, here is my stab at a Hierarchy of Conan.

Art by Frank Frazetta

Monnos (Conan LP)

Monnos (Conan t-shirt)

My Conan movie poster t-shirt

Groo the Wanderer

Conan the Barbarian (movie)

Conan the Destroyer (movie)

May 8, 2012

Stay Gold, Ponygirl

The rumors are true: Jay-Z and Beyonce totally did get a gold rocking horse for their baby*.

On one hand, of course, who cares?  They can do whatever they want with their money, and I guess the symbolism of the precious horse for the precious baby could be, you know, sweet.

On the other hand, celebrities provide opportunities for us to mock, judge, and otherwise measure our lives in comparison to theirs.  Unlike with our families, who also provide opportunities for us to MJAOMOLICTT, we rarely come out ahead.  But here, we might.

My problem with the gold rocking horse is that it is gross, and also seems uncomfortable.  Purely practical, this critique.

Other things this puts me in mind of, though?

The whole GIRLS AND HORSES thing.
The whole GIRLS AND GOLD thing.
The whole MODERN PARENTING THROUGH CONSPICUOUS CONSUMPTION thing, both bling and the "morally justified" eco-capitalism, which is blingier than bling and more judgemental.

Will I elaborate on the above list?  Maybe in the comments thread.  That's the best part of this blog, or at least of its roots in Facebook snarkiness shared among the principle players here.

*Yes, I know I am late to the party on this.  I have a very taxing schedule of candy, leopard nail polish stickers, and procrastination, so cut me some slack.

April 25, 2012

Are you alive, or not? Is there nothing in your head?

Me, in 2003:
Another thing about Hall & Oates: "Rich Girl" was the first song I ever heard bad words in. Oddly, or perhaps not so, David Boudrieau, who pointed out that the word was "bitch," later became the driving force behind a two-night intrigue with Christian metal.
 The day before:
Anyway, the other musical high point of the trip out was listening to Hall & Oates with Aaron M. We were so excited over "Rich Girl" that we nearly missed exit 2. I don't understand why they have become an object of ridicule. It's good stuff: nice production, tight arrangements, some good lyrics (maybe a little cheesy in spots but hey, it was the 80s [and, in fact, the 70s]), and Daryl Hall had a great voice (and they inspired the Son of Sam!). Hey hipster - I can hear you laughing - fuck you. 
Both these posts - pulled from the nether regions of my blogging history - remain true. And every year - or six months - or more (or is it less?) - I spend at least a fortnight remembering these things, and that I once spent a pleasant Christmas in VT with their bassist, the late, great T-Bone Wolk. (All I remember about this is asking if he played on "She's Gone" and him telling me that was before his time. He was very nice about it, though).

My Top 5 Hall & Oates songs:

5. Private Eyes
4. Rich Girl
3. Say It Isn't So
2. She's Gone
1. Adult Education

HM: .15-.30 of this:

I should note that my deep, enduring love for Hall & Oates is based almost entirely on a single collection: 1983's Rock 'n Soul Part 1. (I had H20 and Big Bam Boom on tape but I don't remember anything about them other than the singles). If you take everything on that album, throw in "Method of Modern Love," "Out of Touch," "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling," and "Everytime You Go Away" you have a collection of songs that - hyperbole aside - is nothing short of completely perfect.

You laugh. You see this

and you laugh. Get over it.

You have to look past the 80s. (They date back to the 70s, anyway). Forget about the trappings of the decade. Forget even that you were like 10 when they were big so it's OK to like them now because you didn't know any better then. Forget Yacht Rock, even. Listen.

Or, you know, don't. Because if you can't be moved by the big drums, dynamics, and pronunciation juxtaposition of "Adult Education"*

then you're not going to be moved by "She's Gone"

not even at 2:23 or 3:10.

And if you're not moved by what happens at 3:10 in "She's Gone" then you're probably not going to care about Daryl Hall's collaborations with Robert Fripp, and you really probably won't care about this

which is not technically Hall & Oates, but you probably don't care about that either. It's OK. You are a robot. Not the fun kind or the cute kind or the sexy kind but the kind that slogs grey-flannelled through the Unreal City. You're Stetson. Worse, you're T.S. Eliot, and those are pearls that were your eyes.

*This video totally knocks "Africa" out of the water. Just so you know.

April 18, 2012

More About Blossom and Who's A Racist

Those of you who know me (IRL or otherwise) will not be surprised by this, but two of my very few interests are BLOSSOM and WHO IS A RACIST.

I am still kinda shocked at how much thought I give to Blossom.  I only ever remember watching a few episodes, and most of those details escape me.

I had a memory of Blossom's dad and mom (or dad's sweetheart?) singing AIN'T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH at maybe Blossom's older brother's wedding?  White people singing this song to a couple (white and African American) and the woman's (African American) family.

I couldn't find the clip, and while this link is eye-opening (5 seasons!  what plotlines!  who knew?), it did not help me.

Where am I going here?  Come on, People of the Internet.  Say it with me:


Oh my goodness.  There are so many answers.  As always I retreat to or take refuge in the Four Corner Logic , and say:


I so badly want to use this GIF:

But, you know, whether it is racist is probably not the issue at hand.  Satisfying as it is to call someone out for being a racist or a Nazi or whatev, the real issue here is THE PERMANENCE OF BLOSSOM IN MY INNER LIFE.

I mean, really.  WTF?

March 23, 2012

Reading is Fundamental: Zebra Katz and Njena Reddd Foxxx's Ima Read

Children! Class is in session. The library is open.

A friend posted the music video of Zebra Katz and Njena Reddd Foxxx's

Ima Read on my facebook wall to give me inspiration to write my dissertation.

And inspiration, it has provided. I now strut through the library with this song blasting into my headphones. It puffs up my confidence enough to slice up my bitch of a dissertation. BAM!

As with most of the music videos that interest me, I find this both disturbing and compelling, but mostly awesome.

So this shit is multivalent. It inspired me to re-watch Paris is Burning, and I was considering re-reading some bell hooks and Judith Butler and giving you guys a proper freaking analysis.

NAH. CHANGED MY MIND. Because I need to spend less time analyzing music videos and more time writing my dissertation, I’m going to give you the quickest and dirtiest rundown of three possible readings I see of this video. And I want to know how you people are reading it.


If you spend a lot of time hanging out with queers, watching RuPaul’s Drag Race, or if you’ve at least seen Paris is Burning, then you’re probably familiar with “reading” as an art of insult. I was going to summarize Paris is Burning for you and give you some more background about reading, but instead I’ll tell you to WATCH IT NOW if you haven’t yet, and in the meantime, I’ll let my co-pilot Ru give you the simplest of explanations:

“Now, as drag queens, we shrug off a lot of insults. So when we get our chance to throw an insult, we turn it into a high art form. We call it reading or throwing shade, and it’s part of our culture.”

So, when I watch the music video, I’m reading the reading to be this kind of reading.


Now let’s try to imagine what someone unfamiliar with drag culture might think about this video. (If any of you are out there, please comment and tell us your impressions, because I can only speculate)

If I didn’t know what reading was, I think this video would seem violent. Maybe it’s the talk about wanting to slice and ice bitches and sluts. Or maybe it’s the way that both twins and masked people remind me of horror movies (I haven’t seen many horror movies because I grew up in a bubble, but I think of the images I’ve seen from the Shining, Scream, Jason, and The Silence of the Lambs).


I experience a tension produced by readings #1 and #2 because of the way that queerness is referenced aurally to an insider but is not referenced visually.

The visual performance of “schoolgirl/schoolboy realness” in the video makes it read, visually, as more violent than I know it is as an insider. A quick google search of Ojay Morgan’s other projects, listening to some of his other songs, and the fact that he's often performing at queer events lead me to believe he’s probably queer (or a non homophobic ally who loves queer culture). But many people don't know that, and there is nothing about the visual aspect of the video that makes that apparent. So even though I know this is a queer project, the experience of watching seeminly cis-gendered, seemingly hetero men and women singing about wanting to slice and ice bitches and sluts that they hate still disturbs me in a sort of visceral way.

For me, the tension produced by readings #1 and #2 is disturbing, provocative, and productive. I go back and forth between the occasional warm fuzzy moments of thinking about alternative queer kinship structures and queer cultures, on one hand, and the different kinds of physical violence and structural inequalities against queers, women, and people of color, on the other hand. Somehow, this back and forth leads to think about how homophobia, racism, and structural inequalities are reproduced in educational institutions. These threats of violence in the setting of a school make me think of bullying, especially the recent suicides of bullied queer kids.

Then I remember that I really should be writing my dissertation, so I watch the video again to give me the strength.

A few friends have noted that there might be an additional postcolonial critique, that the twin dancers might be a visual nod to Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks, and that the song could be some kind of call to action re: these educational institutions. I like this idea and don’t have time to further explore it right now but hope you will in the comments. DISCUSS!