Archive for the 'Music' Category

As pure as New York snow

Embedded below is Leighton Meester’s cover of “Bette Davis Eyes.”

It’s not laughably bad, but it’s resoundingly mediocre, which is something that Blair Waldorf would never allow.

(via Jezebel)

Love Lockdown

I watched the VMAs last night, even though every year, I say I’m not going to, and I mainly agree with Rich from fourfour about everything, except maybe Christina.

But I am starting to think Kanye’s performance was kind of good. I was initially underwhelmed, but I haven’t been able to get it out of my head all day.

Oh, mainstream music.

Quarter Century

Hey everyone, it’s my birthday. I am 25 years old. You’d think I was doing something extra-special to mark this exciting arbitrary occasion, but sadly, I am going to work on making some thesis magic, go to school, and then go out to dinner.

Anyway, to celebrate, I jumped on the muxtape bandwagon, and made a lady mix for ladies and gentlemen. It also is like a microcosm of my taste in music. Hurray for ladies!

when you try hard is when you die hard

In daily life music is usually part of other activities, from dancing to to housework to sex to gossip to dinner. In critical discourse it’s as if the only action going on when music is playing is the activity of evaluating music. The question becomes, “Is this good music to listen to while you’re making aesthetic judgements?” Which may explain what makes some bands critics’ darlings: Sonic Youth, for instance, is not great music to dance to, but it’s a terrific soundtrack for making aesthetic judgements. [...] Celine Dion, on the other hand, is lousy music to make aesthetic judgements to, but might be excellent for having a first kiss, or buying your grandma, or breaking down in tears.

It’s book review week!

I’ve been reading Carl Wilson’s 33 1/3 book about Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love. I mentioned it a few weeks ago, but I’m really thrilled to report that the book really lived up to the hype. It’s remarkable because it’s such a tiny book and Wilson manages to do at least three distinct things:

  1. Explain Celine Dion to the kinds of people who like “music to make aesthetic judgements by.” He does a great job of tracing Celine’s specific Quebecois cultural context, her musical influences, her relationship to historical schmaltz, and also what makes her so good at what she does.
  2. A brief exegesis of the history of philosophies, from Kant to Bourdieu, basically in that we use our tastes to save up cultural capital.
  3. Bring his own experience as a critic (and person) into the book. It’s jarring and lovely to see a critic’s relationship to both the theoretical material and the object at hand being brought back to his own life and love and feelings and doubts.

I loved it because I’m sort of at a point where I get angry when I see any criticism of anything that assumes that people who like it must be stupid. Also because he winds up finding the feeling in “My Heart Will Go On” by relating it to Gilmore Girls, my TV kryptonite (You know the one with Michel’s dog’s funeral? And Zach plays “My Heart Will Go On”? And then Lorelai goes and breaks up with Christopher?).

It also really made me think about what taste means to me.

For me, it’s not about music, so much, but I’m in one of the few worlds where your taste in movies actually is something upon which you’re judged. I am completely on board with the premise that my tastes are informed by the cultural and social institutions and values that surround me, but it’s not really something I can do anything about. However, I realized I’m sort of an oddball in academia in that I really pride myself on liking basically every kind of movie and generally enjoying most movies that I watch. I even like torture porn! No one likes torture porn! (Okay, so that is totally my perverse desire to “rehabilitate” a culturally detested object, and that is absolutely a learned response. My reaction to those movies would have been way different five years ago. Maybe my gorno essay would have been better if I’d written it like Carl wrote his book? As a first-person oddyssey to unravel what the deal is with those movies that have everyone so pissed off.)

Wilson quotes Valery who says “Tastes are composed of a thousand distastes” and goes on to tell us that when he was 12, he liked “all kinds of music, except disco and country.”1 And, I do have a “but.” It’s right there in my About page on this blog: “I like movies of all kinds (except those in which someone bets someone else, My Fair Lady-style, that they can make someone over for some kind of annual formal ball, and then they fall in love/befriend with the makeoveree, and the makeoveree inevitably finds out about the whole cruel wager and then stutters “Tell me I was a bet”).” What I really mean by that “except” is really just “bad romantic comedies,” and you can bet your ass that is a distinction about cultural capital: I am saying certain very specific things about myself when I say this, things about my gender and how cool I am. I don’t think knowing this will make me enjoy things that I don’t enjoy, nor do I think there’s no room in the world for aesthetic judgements on a semi-objective level, but I guess it’s good that I know this.

PS It is impossible to hate Celine Dion after watching the highlight reel on fourfour. Impossible!

  1. Why is it always two genres? When I was that age, I liked everything but rap and country, both of which I — of course — love now.

“Although you’re grievin, I cain’t be leavin’”

This song has been in my head for days. Now it’s in yours! (Also, please note that if you click through to YouTube it says that the music is by Ennio Morricone. This is totally not true — Dimitri Tiomkin did the music for the film.)

I Will Go Down With This Ship

Oh wow I almost forgot to blog today. I’m really having an off day overall. I did some getting stuff together, but then I spent my evening fascinated by Project Runway reruns (we don’t get the new one in Canada yet, though I’m quite enjoying PR Canada; it was actually the beginning of Season 2, which remains my top season, even though I kind of think maybe Santino should have won and the final collections were not as strong as the ones from Seasons 1 or 3) and, more embarrassingly, stuff like this, which is the (unembeddable) video for “White Flag” by Dido.

The face of non-spiration

Is that a face that launches insightful and exciting film and cultural criticism? Dido is like musical rice cakes.

Speaking of which, I am hooked on FreeRice, which allows you to waste time online, improve your vocabulary, and feed the less fortunate (through rice, donated by advertisers). Oh, late capitalism. This is a website only you could give us!

So I Says To Mabel I Says

Too tired for full sentences.

My favourite Simpsons of all time.

The best song on the new album: Kelly Clarkson – Chivas

Not so resolute

Oh I totally didn’t do a 2006 best-of list! I like lists. This is for my own posterity, not because I think anyone cares about my bloggerly critical greatness. Best album: I got really lax with the new music this year, so my opinion doesn’t count for much, but The Body, The Blood, The Machine by The Thermals is my favourite new album in like, forever

Best Books I read (for fun): Oh, this is so hard! Turn, Magic Wheel by Dawn Powell, Heat by Bill, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, and Atonement by Ian MacEwan all made huge impressions; I also really liked White Teeth, in the compulsive-reading way, but it didn’t blow my mind

Best movies: Again, there’s lots of stuff I haven’t seen that counts for 2006. Stranger Than Fiction, Little Miss Sunshine, and Tristram Shandy would almost definitely be on the list, as would Brick, The Devil and Daniel Johnston, and maybe Shortbus but I still have high hopes for Children of Men

Best TV: Easy. Veronica Mars, Battlestar Galactica, Project Runway, the end of Arrested Development, The Office. No special order.

I don’t really hold with New Year’s Resolutions as an idea, because you know, if you want to do something you will do it, and if you kind of like the idea of doing something, you will resolve to do it on New Year’s Day and then do it really regularly for a couple of months before you slowly peter out and then give up, because it turned out to be hard and/or not that fun.

In our travels this Christmas, Alex and I ate a lot of terrible food. The result is: Alex and I feel kind of terrible now. I’m pretty sure I’ve put on weight and I just generally am revolted by the idea of heavy meals involving meat and cake, which are both normally things that I like very much. Between the insane essay-writing of early December, and the eating orgy of later December, I’ve decided I need a break. I was already planning on trying out one new recipe a week (because of the bounty of cookbooks I received for Christmas), but I have now further decided that for the next little while (by which I mean like, two weeks or something), that new recipe will be meat-free. As will all my eating. I went veggie for a month in second year, and by the end I was desperately craving chicken, but I was living in res and relying on the meal hall’s definition of “meat-free alternatives” for like, half my meals. I already don’t eat much meat, so I am re-trying the experiment now that I cook for myself.

Actually, I am already ahead on my one-recipe-a-week deal: Continue Reading »

And they be lining up the block just to watch what I got

Seriously, who’s like, “let’s take 30 schoolchildren on the express bus to the University campus at nine am on a Friday. Then, when the bus was all full, they acted all shocked? More disturbing still: a bunch of little, like ten-year-old girls singing “Fergalicious.” As much as I complain about the rain, that’s what I call depressing.

Not as depressing as this (speaking of women in power, it’s Dennis Miller making fun of Nancy Pelosi on Fox News), though. What happened to you, Dennis Miller? You used to be cool. I used to wach your show. You also used to occasionally back up your “commentary” with substance. It’s not like there isn’t valid stuff to insult there; you just had to make fun of her suits.

“We don’t want to die or apologize for our dirty god, our dirty bodies”

Not much to add. We made some soup, I did a couple of seminar presentation things that didn’t go horribly, I have a bunch of essay-grading, and so of course I’m blogging.

New Hair

Oh and I dyed my hair brown. It’s a few shades darker than my natural colour; I look really sad in that picture, but it’s the guilt about how much work I didn’t do last night while I went coat-hunting at the mall. I didn’t find a coat, but Alex found some nice shoes.

I’m kind of obsessed with the Thermals right now.

So awesome, you guys.

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