Monday, April 21, 2008

You know what other trope sucks? Too many parentheticals.

This may be the equivalent of reviewing a Black Crowes album for a certain men's magazine without actually hearing it, as I've never attended the EMP Pop Conference. But since my bread-and-butter seems to be criticism of criticism, I figured what the hell? My perusal through the blogosphere of the wrap-ups of this year's conference has annoyed me, as the common trope this year seems to be about the Great Divide between journalists (yay!) and academics (boo!). Having straddled this divide for quite some time (although, at this point "Academic" has most definitely won out), I find this disconcerting and I want to tease out what the problem is. Isn't it time we all got along?

The main argument seems to be that the academic papers are awash in meaningless jargon, while the journalists' papers are written and argued better. As one rundown notes, "I never want to hear about "praxis," "teleological," and "heteronormative valences" in my presence again." Well, you know what? I never want to hear about "rockist" tendencies, "shambolic guitars" or "angular grooves." These are the "teleological" and "praxis" of the rock-crit trade. Clear writing exists in academia and in music criticism, and maybe the two can learn from each other. I know that in my own experience I've had editors called my record reviews "academic" while some of my academic work has been suggested to be more "magazine-like." These may be (not-so) veiled insults, but I take them to mean that my criticism exists in a frustrating, liminal space. This liminality (uh-oh, academic jargon!) creates a tension that forces a reader to consider the arguments without the formal limitations. If I argue that baseball is a civil religion, should it matter whether that argument is in Sports Illustrated or in a religious studies journal? Shouldn't both arguments be compelling and well researched to be published? I know this is a utopian ideal--a ton of crappy writing and rhetoric gets published in all kinds of places, but if the problem is that the ideas are buried under meaningless words, the criticism goes both ways.

The "academics can't write/present" argument might be one of frustration. Are "we" (nerds!) encroaching on "their" (rock-crit) turf? As more critics make their way to academia, as Carl Wilson notes, does that increase the tension? Is this the actual "conflict and change" that should have been explored at this year's meeting? Again, these are questions I ask from the outside looking in. My perspective is that of an interested outsider. (Full disclosure: I have submitted proposals to the conference a number of times, but have not had a paper accepted.)

This divide is one that has made the EMP a frustrating conference. It seems to want it both ways, as a place where music criticism is given an air of legitimacy, but without any of the rigors of many academic conferences. This year there were many more first-time presenters, which is one step in the right direction. I would really love to see what would happen if for just one year, the conference organizers implemented a blind review process for abstracts. If there is such a concern about "hearing new voices," then why not place everyone on equal footing? Let the ideas be judged, not the connections. Strip out the jargon from both worlds and see what ideas really shine. (As long as it's not guitar sounds. Seriously, sounds cannot shimmer. As a friend once wrote over IM, "THERE ARE NO RAYS OF LIGHT SHOOTING OUT OF GUITARS.")

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I'm not going to lie, I'm totally enamored with the creepy Ugly Betty Madame Alexander Dolls. I want the cloth one. The non-cloth one is borderline offensive.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

for you, kieran

I'm going to start watching the Gossip Girl Revealed expanded episodes so that I can get caught up. I feel like I'm missing out.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

world's shortest retirement

"No Hate In '08" is my motto for this year, but seriously, I just don't get music writing these days. People are getting all het up about ridiculous stuff. (Oooh, a guy wrote the Women In Music essay for Pazz & Jop! Quelle horreur!) My frustration plays out in this IM convo (not our real screennames):

heathalouise: i've given up on doing music writing ever again.

heathalouise: OH WAIT I TAKE THAT BACK

heathalouise: http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20174022,00.html

mts: HAHA OMG

heathalouise: dooooood

...And scene. If NKOTB can come out of retirement, perhaps so can I.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

and now it's snowing?!?!

I trekked down to Philly with Beth and Chris to see Anthony Bourdain talk and then sign his new book. We got there fairly early, so our seats for the event were fabulous, but the general cluelessness (or, as Chris put it "Phillyness") of the Free Library staff meant that Beth and I were among the last in line for the actual signing. Dork that I was, I managed to stammer out that I use him as an example in my writing class and that I think his Salon piece on being trapped in Beirut is a stellar example of a personal essay. It bears witness to something and isn't completely self-absorbed. He was "flattered." There's a bad cell phone pic (thanks, Beth! and that is not at all snarky...) and now I have an autographed copy of his new book.

I don't feel as bad about my stammering as I might have since the questions in the Q&A portion were ridiculous. I really wanted him to tear into the girl who was in her second year of culinary school and was asking him for advice on "how to break into food television." Instead, he subtly insulted her while pretending to give advice. (The gist: Don't even bother with culinary school. Look at Rachael Ray--straight from the supermarket aisle to the Food Network.) There were a couple of vegetarians who were defending their choices (Bourdain thinks it "rude" when you turn down food offered to you from people of other cultures for just about any reason) and the random 54-year-old who had to proclaim him "sexy."

He's speaking again in NYC tomorrow and I think I'm going to head over there because Michael Ruhlman will be there as well. If you've seen the No Reservations episodes about Las Vegas or Cleveland, you know this is going to be good.

And yes, our way back included a slight detour through Fishtown and other bits of North Philly, as well as a flat tire in Cherry Hill, but we got back in one piece. Beth and Chris are fine road trip companions. Plus, they know that Pat's is the correct choice in the cheesesteak wars.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

this is what happens when you drink coffee at 3 pm: for Kieran

I can't really drink caffeine after noon anymore, but I made a wise exception to hang out with someone I hadn't seen in a long, long time.

I should head off to bed, but sleep is just not happening just yet. So instead, dear reader, you get a treatise on my favorite ridiculous television pleasure: Criminal Minds. I love this show. It is so cheesy, and yet it can make me queasy in a bad horror-movie way every few episodes. The best part (besides the nerdy-hot Dr. Spencer Reid) is that they cast the most random people to play the "unsubs:" James "Dawson/Cereal Box Head" Van Der Beek, Jamie "Not Funny" Kennedy, and this week, Frankie "Malcolm's No Longer in the Middle" Muniz. I'm just imagining all of them saying, "BUT I WANT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY" to their agents and the rep comes back with "Here, play a serial killer on this show that your parents most certainly watch since it's on CBS: Television for Old People."

It has all these random conceits: the flirtation between Morgan and computer nerd genius Garcia, the incessant tackling of suspects, and the curmudgeonly local law enforcement who resent the FBI taking over the investigation. And now, Fat Tony is the main profiler. Brilliant!

It's not high quality television by any stretch, but it's not the worst thing to watch on a Wednesday. My dear husband points out that the scariest thing of all, more frightening than any of the horrific murders, is that its lead-in is Kid Nation.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

la-da-dee, la-da-da

In honor of tonight's season premiere of Project Runway, I present you with Season One winner Jay McCarroll's version of the 1990's Crystal Waters classic, "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless):"



Praise be to MTS for sending this my way!

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Monday, November 12, 2007

who's up for wooly bully?

I've been meaning to write a post about the new TV season, but just haven't had time. Yes, it's a bit of a moot point right now because of the writers' strike, but Alan Sepinwall has a great column today about the ambiguous future of Chuck.

I'm especially interested in this because Chuck is my favorite new show. It has been getting a lot of Buffy comparisons, but I think it is much more similar to its executive producer's last show, The OC. (And if you've read this blog for any amount of time, you know how much I love Sandy Cohen and company.) Josh Schwartz is splitting his time between this and Gossip Girl, but I'm firmly in the Chuck camp. I think it's because there's something quintessentially '80s about the show. It seems like something I would watch with my dad on a Friday night in 6th grade. In fact, I wonder if my parents watch it. They might like it. Hmmm.

Speaking of the writers' strike, I only have some vague recollections of the 1988-89 one, but one of them is this how Moonlighting (my favorite show when I was 13) handled it:

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

My life has been a deluge of dissertating, unpacking (still!), editing student papers and the occasional night out.

This Saturday was supposed to be a day of grading (of which I did some), but I got sucked into last.fm, an addiction that Martin has been trying to push on me for about two years. So, now I'm crazily rocking the iTunes, trying to generate enough songs to create my own radio station. Of course, several "buried gems" keep resurfacing--those songs you randomly download because they're just there (Marilyn Manson single, I'm looking at you...)--and my "true" taste is not quite coming through. If you looked at my charts right now, you'd think that I spent all my life listening to the Monkees and Modest Mouse. The truth is, I do listen to the Monkees way more than someone my age should, but I just happen to have a lot of Modest Mouse on my iTunes.

Naturally, this is making me want to add some CDs to my library, but since the majority of our albums are still in storage, I'm stuck with my minuscule, meager collection. No Luna for me except for Bewitched. (Oh wait, maybe that's not a bad thing.)

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Monday, August 06, 2007

some velvet morning when I'm straight

It's a bummer to wake up on a Monday and find out that someone the caliber of Lee Hazlewood has died. It's even more depressing that there seems to be no mention of it in the American press yet. I actually learned from MySpace. (Yes, I'm "Lee Hazlewood's" friend on MySpace.)

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

the last eyeroll

I realize at this point that Zach Braff is a pretty easy target, but I watched The Last Kiss on HBO last night, and I have found myself squarely in the Braff-loathing camp. Garden State was an indulgent film, but this is just so much worse. Mike and I both had the same reaction: "So, did Zach Braff wake up one day and decide that he wanted to make out with Rachel Bilson?" I still don't understand why The Former Summer Roberts had any kind of attraction to Scrubs Guy. It makes no sense. Also, just about every one of the men in this film are whiny, immature, selfish assholes. The only credit I can give is that despite the fact that the ending is predictable, at least it wasn't tied up in a bow.

Earlier in the day, we saw The Simpsons Movie. My opinion parrots that of many of my friends: it's the equivalent of a fairly decent episode, but not the best. I have a few issues with it that I don't want to get into despite them only being minorly spoilerish. I really think it's a film you need to go into knowing nothing. It did make me realize, however, that I'm going to be really upset once that show finally ends.

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Monday, July 30, 2007

just another magic monday?

Is it a bad omen that the first thing I saw when I turned on the TV this morning was the ball going through Bill Buckner's legs? All I wanted to do was watch In the Papers on NY1.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

yippee ki yay

Following hot on the heels of my post celebrating the director's cut of Commando, Slate has this humorous piece on action film one-liners. This ties in with today's release of Live Free or Die Hard, a cinematic event which I would have witnessed today if I weren't packing all my crap and schlepping it to New York. Yup, today's moving day in the heathalouise/AWCR household. Brooklyn, you've been put on notice. Now who's going to watch John McClane kick some ass with me this weekend. (Dave O.....I think we need to make a plan.)

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

"i love it when your soldiers try to talk tough. if matrix were here, he would laugh too."

Screw the new version of the My So-Called Life DVDs, I am anxiously awaiting the director's cut of Commando. My love of this schlockfest is well-known amongst my friends. And to bring up the debate yet again, I maintain that it is superior to Predator in the Schwarzenegger oeuvre. Wanna argue against me? Bring it on in the comments.

Point 1: The villain in Commando looks like Freddie Mercury.

Counterpoint anyone?

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Friday, June 01, 2007

live by the dream!

You know I love Rump Posse. Please look at their website right now. It is amazing!

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Monday, May 28, 2007

r.i.p., comic genius

I am so bummed about the death of Charles Nelson Reilly. He was hilarious! Plus, he made The Match Game entertaining (something that my 20something self only learned through the Game Show Network, while my childhood self would be bored to tears watching that game with my grandparents).

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

say hey!

I've become obsessed with this BP ad: the whimsical indie-rock soundtrack, adorable animated characters and the cute viral website. What does freak me out, however, is the girl flying on the toilet. Yup, singing gas pumps and driving babies are totally OK, but an aerial "comfort station" is beyond the pale:



They have "outtakes" on YouTube as well.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

my new favorite musical

While trolling Google Images for a few last-minute additions to my presentation, I came across this gem of a musical that's playing in New York next month. Ladies and gentlemen, Massholia! I am there with freakin' bells on, dood! It's gonna be wicked pissa.

Speaking of Massholia, Mike and I are headed up there in just a few short hours for my conference.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

hey, friends who watch tv!

If you're not watching Friday Night Lights, you're doing yourself a great disservice. I don't want to hear you bitch, "whaaa, I don't like football." The show doesn't have all that much to football (even if I do refer to it as High School Football Problems, much like Criminal Minds is Serial Killer Squad in the HLM/MTB household). If you're one of those people who lamented the cancellation of Freaks and Geeks, then set your ass down on the couch Wednesdays at 8 and watch. You'll be thanking me, I swear. I just hope that it gets a second season.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

i read it in delillo like they'd written it to me

I finally broke down and bought your book, Nelson. You'll make your way to bestseller #281,119 yet! It's winging its way to me via the joys of Amazon Prime, along with Then We Came to the End, which fascinates me because of the discussion of it being a retread of DeLillo's Americana, which is one of my favorite novels.

And yes, I really don't have time to read anything that isn't baseball- or Boston-related right now. (Just ask the copy of Underworld that's been sitting on my shelf for months.) My theory is that by reading anything in book form, I'll get my ass in gear.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

who are you working for?!?!?!?!

I know I'm a broken record at this point, but this mash-up of 24 and the Aqua Teen bomb scare is totally brilliant.



[via Best Week Ever]

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Thursday, February 01, 2007


I don't know if I should be relieved that the emergency responders in Boston don't know what Aqua Teen Hunger Force is or completely horrified. On one hand, it does show that most of the bomb squad is not staying up late, smoking weed and watching Adult Swim. On the other hand, do you really think this looks like an explosive device? To me, it looks like a Lite Brite pattern. Ugh. Apparently, there are 56 of these in Philly.

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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

situation free!

I have better things to do than finding Japanese websites which feature Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer shilling for some kind of food. But then again, I'm on this 24 kick right now.

Meanwhile, the Christian Science Monitor (of all places) has a theory on what Bauer does the day after one of the worst days of his life. [via HQ]

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

why does this bother me?

I just saw a Target commercial which uses the Beatles' "Hello Goodbye." Now, I'm usually of the "BFD that a song is in a commercial" ilk, but something about this specific ad just rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe it's the bad pun. Everytime "Goodbye" is sung (by a breathy, female voice), the term "Goodbuy" appears on the screen. It's just cheesy. I guess I just expect more from Tar-jhay.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

today is a good day

Pats win, 24's back on and I start teaching my dream class. This week is starting out in a sweet way.

(On the 24 tangent: What's up with Kumar the terrorist and his unaware buddy, Jack's "son" from Will & Grace? I'm loving this all-star cast. Yay for the return of Jack Bauer!)

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

when the world is running down, you make the best of what's still around

Q: How excited am I about a possible Police reunion?

A: Way more than I probably should be.

The Police were my favorite band in high school until they got supplanted by Jane's Addiction and the group that they originally ripped off, the Clash. I still have a soft spot for them, however. Hell, I even like some of Sting's shitty solo records (the white-boy-jazz ones especially). Of course, ticket prices for this will probably be astronomical. I know there's no way I can drag my husband along. I can only think of one other person who would be willing to go to this with me: my high school concert buddy.

S. and I went to all the dinosaur rock shows together in high school. We saw Tom Petty, Sting, John Mellencamp, Neil Young, etc. You'd think we were 40something housewives or something. But we were 17, and we had a blast. (Except for when the guy in our section at the Mellencamp show barfed all over the woman in front of him. She kept screaming, "I HAVE RIGHTS!" We moved to another section to escape the stench. And no, smartass, the "stench" was not JCM's performance. Dude rocked it.) She even came up to NYC freshman year of college to go to the Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary show. She still jets around the country to see Springsteen. I think I'm going to have to e-mail her and make a plan. After all, we're pretty much in the dinosaur rock demographic at this point.

(And yes, this show will probably be mediocre. But I'll still go.)

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

ringing in the double-0 7

So, has a rapper used the term 2 Double-0 7 yet? If not, they totally should...

Mike and I rang in the New Year with a low-key fondue party. It was a blast, and we now have way too much wine in our house. Our guests were rightfully freaked out by the creepy kiss between Dick Clark and his wife. It was of Al and Tipper 2000 proportions.

Yesterday (happy birthday to me!) Mike, Stacy, Nick and Stacy's bro hit Pat's for cheesesteaks. So I had my first cheesesteak of the year and my first Locust Bar pitcher of Lager for the year on the 1st. After Stacy and Nick left, Mike and I finished cleaning up, ordered dinner from Square on Square and watched the remake of Miami Vice from our Netflix backlog.

Here's my question: does Michael Mann think that "true love = shower scene?" Because I still don't buy Colin Farrell and Gong Li's deep relationship. But they did shower together, as did Jamie Foxx and his love interest. I don't know if that's part of the "unrated" extras or not. But it was still weird. I did love the nu-metal cover of "In the Air Tonight" as the Big Deal went down. Hilarious. I only wish that Elvis the crocodile had made an appearance. Also, Justin Theroux as Zito and Herc from THe Wire as Switek were casting gold.

So yeah, 32sexy is alright so far. Here's to success in the 007!

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