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Showing posts from April, 2016

The Music of Defiance: Thoughts on Early American Punk Rock

You can read the following article at Sequart, but I wanted to archive it here also. Punk rock records spoke to me like few others ever had, and they've been an integral part of my life since my late teens. The music also reminds me of people I met along the way who loaned me their old beat up copy of 1969: The Velvet Underground Live or extolled the virtues of Television's Marquee Moon. The music of Patti Smith, Lou Reed, the New York Dolls, and Iggy Pop, among others, also inspired me to question authority—and truth be told, distrust it—and to live by certain principles. As a Gen Xer, this was already baked into my genetics, of course, but music, art, and literature inspired by a punk ethos just further cemented my approach. Plus there was the aesthetic of punk rock, the art and design of it all. When I do design work, I constantly remind myself to use clean lines and bold yet readable typefaces, to remove any and all elements that are extraneous and don't add any value …


I remember loving "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" back in 1994 when it was ubiquitous on the radio.This was freshman year of college, at a time when I was much more into grunge and punk and hard rock than Prince. Prince had always been there, I'd grown up loving his music. But at this point I'd set aside a lot of R&B and funk and soul that I used to love. Thankfully I came back to these genres once my musical tastes matured. But loving that particular Prince song at that time of my life was unexpected. I felt vaguely embarrassed by my affection for this blatantly sincere love song. The song broke through my ironic defenses and hit me right in the heart. Prince elevates and celebrates women in the song, in a way that's actually touching.

"The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" isn't the first Prince song I thought of after hearing of his death—in quick succession it was "Raspberry Beret", "Little Red Corvette" and "…

You're probably saying "Gal Gadot" wrong, and other musings

Since seeing Batman v Superman, which I reviewed briefly here the other day, I realized that I had no idea how to pronounce Gal Gadot's name. As Wonder Woman, Gadot is the best part of the film, so I feel I owe it to her to at least say her name correctly when I'm waxing on about her awesomeness. I've been hearing people pronounce it several different ways lately. In this clip from her recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel's show, Gadot provides a definitive answer.

GaDOAT. Sort of like "boat" with an emphasis on the "t" at the end. Not "GaDOT" like "spot" or "Godot" as in "Waiting for Godot." Glad that's settled.

The rest of the clip is pretty entertaining too. I'm about to make the most obvious point you'll hear all day, but Gadot is very charming and also very attractive. That's sort of a double whammy for nerds. Comic fan Kimmel comports himself fairly well during the interview, and I can only …

Batman v Superman: Yawn of Justice

If I had to sum up Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in one sentence it would be: "This sluggish and grim testosterone fest only really comes to life during those moments when Wonder Woman is (briefly) on screen." For a movie named Batman v Superman, the Amazonian warrior princess was the real star. There were a few other aspects of the film that also worked; it isn't the unmitigated disaster the Internet and critics have declared it to be. That doesn't mean it was good; instead of a coherent narrative it was more of a series of disjointed scenes that varied in quality. Characters' motivations were seemingly assigned at random. Simply put, it was boring and cinema's first meeting of these icons deserved better than that. Let's take a look at what worked and what didn't, and why.

Gal Gadot stole the movie. Admittedly there wasn't much to steal, but she was by far the highlight of what was otherwise an overlong and tedious affair. She brought a sp…

My Own Private Idaho

One of the pitfalls of living in a leftist utopia in your mind is that you're reminded often--especially during presidential election years--that you're way out of step with a large chunk of Americans. For the most part, this sums up my relationship to presidential elections and politics in general. Bernie Sanders comes close, but there really hasn't ever been a presidential candidate who's left or progressive enough for me. And when I write that, I realize some people will think "What, you want a Communist, right?" or "You want to take away all of my rights to religious freedom?" Um, no. The idea of being to the far left politically has become so twisted and contaminated by too many ultra conservatives over the years that no one knows what it means anymore. It's like saying you're a feminist. Even today, there are people who will shiver at the word "feminist" when things like--gasp!--women wanting equal pay and equal rights under …