10/21/2011: Theory: I Was an Under-Age Semiotician - NYTimes
Embracing semiotics came with certain costs. In my own case, I spent most of my mid-20s detangling my prose style. (It got younger as I got older.) I now spend more time learning from the insights of science than deconstructing its truth claims. I slowly killed off the desire to impress with willful obscurity. During my grad school years, I took a seminar on Derrida to which Derrida himself paid a surprise visit, modestly answering our questions with none of the drama I had imagined reading his written words on the page. He seemed, amazingly, to be saying something, rather than just saying something about the impossibility of saying anything. In one cringe-inducing moment, a peer of mine asked a rambling, self-referential question that began by putting “under erasure” the very nature of an answer. I remember breaking into a broad smile when Derrida responded, after a long pause, “I am sorry, but I do not understand the question.” It seemed like the end of an era: Derrida himself was asking for more clarity. - Steven Johnson
(Read the rest of the piece HERE)
10/21/2011: Music: Now That You’re Gone by Ryan Adams
Everything you ever touched is undisturbed and hangs out
Like crime scene evidence undisturbed in dust
I don’t dare touch anything because it’s evidence of us
And it means everything
Well sort of
10/21/2011: Book Review: The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen - BookPage
The Revisionists meanders through the interconnected lives of Zed and those around him, each one in turn struggling with the Big Questions of morality and absolutes. Of course, the reality presented within its pages is one of nuances, and is ultimately far less simple than we like to pretend, but Mullen makes no bones about that. When all the layers are peeled back, this novel is about choice and consequences, and it just so happens to involve time travel. This is an excellent, thought-provoking read that checks boxes for sci-fi lovers as well as students of humanity. - Tony Kuehn
(Read the full Review HERE)
Time travel is tricky and exciting. I think it takes a certain amount of luck to write about it successfully. Lets hope Mullen has done just that.
Ursula K. Le Guin - 1929
If you see a whole thing - it seems that it’s always beautiful. Planets, lives… But up close a world’s all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life’s a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern.
I watched the prequele (excellently titled “The Thing”) of John Carpenter’s “The Thing” this weekend and I didn’t hate it. I think I really enjoy horror movies that are in the cold or the winter so I made a list.
Honorable mentions: Dead Snow, Let the Right One In, The Last Winter (Only Because I haven’t seen any of them)
Not a great movie, but a fun movie. It is winter though. I expect this to be replaced by Let The Right One In after I watch it this weekend.
It’s scary, it’s funny, it’s a bitting commentary on America and imperialism. What else could you want?
3. The Shining
(Not to be confused with The Shinning) The ultimate cabin fever movie. Atmospheric, slow, nagging, creepy. It hits all the right notes. Great performance by Nicholson.
2. The Thing (1982)
This isn’t the scariest movie on this list, but it might be the best. John Carpenter directs a taught suspenseful thriller with plenty of gore and shocks. The ending is fantastic. Plus, Kurt Russel’s amazing hat. (If you’ve seen the movie, CLICK HERE, major spoilers)
1. 30 Days of Night
This movie scared the crap out of me. The setting is perfect for this list (at least the sun comes out in The Thing). The Vampires are monstrous and brutal, and while that isn’t traditional I find it invigorating. The music is phenomenal. Bonus points for Being a comic book.
10/20/2011: Music: Stuck In a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of by U2
AND IF THE NIGHT RUNS OVER
AND IF THE DAYS WON’T LAST
AND IF YOUR WAY SHOULD FALTER
ALONG THAT STONY PATH
IT’S JUST A MOMENT
THIS TOO SHALL PASS
10/20/2011: Book Review: Zone One by Colson Whitehead - NPR
Always known by that full name (not his real one, but a post-plague moniker bestowed upon him after a disastrous battle on a bridge), Mark Spitz travels with the rest of Team Omega across Zone One — Manhattan below Canal Street — which is protected from the swarming undead by a concrete retaining wall. In each building, Omega kills off the “skels,” hungry active zombies, and the “stragglers,” brain-dead victims stuck in place who waste away to nothing in a haunting echo of their former lives. (The copy boy, for example, stares blankly at a Xerox machine until he’s put down with a shot to the head.) Collection gathers the bagged corpses; Disposal burns them in enormous incinerators next to the wall. The 24-hour ashfall that results is just one of this disquieting novel’s canny echoes of post-Sept. 11 New York. After all, Zone One itself both includes, and seems like the natural descendant of, ground zero. - Dan Kois
(Read The Full Review HERE)
(Read an Excerpt HERE)
Ooooo zombie book. Excellent.
Arthur Rimbaud - 1854
I say that one must be a seer, make oneself a seer. The poet makes himself a seer by a long, prodigious, and rational disordering of all the senses. Every form of love, of suffering, of madness; he searches himself, he consumes all the poisons in him, and keeps only their quintessences. This is an unspeakable torture during which he needs all his faith and superhuman strength, and during which he becomes the great patient, the great criminal, the great accursed – and the great learned one! – among men. – For he arrives at the unknown! Because he has cultivated his own soul – which was rich to begin with – more than any other man! He reaches the unknown; and even if, crazed, he ends up by losing the understanding of his visions, at least he has seen them! Let him die charging through those unutterable, unnameable things: other horrible workers will come; they will begin from the horizons where he has succumbed!
10/19/2011: Music: Up On Your Leopard, Upon the End of Your Feral Days by Sunset Rubdown
Spencer Krug is genius, that is all. Just listen to this song, that is also all.
You’re the one who ran in the wild a virgin to a name
You’re the one who lived off a forsaken land
I’m the one who sat at your capture and let the snow fall
On this whispering rapture
And you’re the one who’s kissing your captor’s hands
I know we’re all growing old
And where there’s a will there’s a way
So, way to go
But say goodbye to your feral days
10/19/2011: Lists: Top 10 Music Moments in Film by Cameron Crowe - The Uncool
2.”She Smiled Sweetly / Ruby Tuesday” (The Rolling Stones)
The Royal Tenenbaums (2002)
It’s said that Jackson Browne, watching The Royal Tenenbaums, was so transported watching the “These Days” sequence that he thought wistfully, “this guy plays like I used to play.” And then he realized – it is me. Wes Anderson’s brilliant use of the Nico original galvanized and reinvented the song even for Jackson Browne, who now plays the song in its original mode at his live performances. All this, because Anderson picked the right song, the right camera speed and the perfect actors to play Margot and Richie Tenenbaum. It aches. And there is another stunning music-in-movies moment just around the corner in Tenenbaums, when Anderson busts out The Rolling Stones.
Margot and Richie have finally escaped to be alone under a tent with a record player. Their music choice is a vinyl (hooray) copy of Between The Buttons. Anderson lets the album track in the long unrequited love scene between the two. (Sadly, they’re adoptive siblings) When “She Smiled Sweetly” flows into “Ruby Tuesday,” even though Wes is re-sequencing the album, the result is an left-hook of deeper emotion. Now this already wonderful scene takes off into true greatness. Many a director has tried to use “Ruby Tuesday,” the evocative Brian Jones/Stones classic, and failed. Wes solves the problem by letting you hear it the way the way you’d hear it in life… devastating and random in the way it pops up, innocently requiring you to remember the moment forever.
(Click HERE for his full list)
Enough cannot be said for this scene in particular and this film in general.
Cameron Crowe does not restrain himself to 10 on this list, it really is fascinating.
10/19/2011: Book Review: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes - The Guardian
"The Sense of an Ending is a short novel, but one that packs in a lot. Full of insight and intelligence, it is in some ways a more intellectual version of Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach, touching on the same themes of youthful sex, inhibition, class, regret and false recollection. It is the story of a retired sixtysomething man, Tony Webster, a relatively dull and “peaceable” character, once in arts administration, who seems, while broadly accepting his own decline, to be trying to impose a pattern on his past. Barnes has taken his title from Frank Kermode, who in his 1965 book, The Sense of an Ending, explored the way in which writers use “peripeteia” – the unexpected twist in the plot – to force readers to adjust their expectations. Barnes has visited the subject of death two or three times recently, most directly in his 2008 nonfiction work, Nothing to Be Frightened Of, and he is fascinated by how people deal with death, and the changed circumstances it can bring to the surviving partner. So we rightly come to suspect that this novel is setting the reader up for peripeteia.” - Justin Cartwright
(Read the full review HERE)
The Sense of an Ending was just announced to have won the Booker Prize. It was Julian Barnes’s fourth time on the shortlist. It’s a short book, 160 pages, but it sounds very good indeed.
John Le Carre - 1931
History keeps her secrets longer than most of us. But she has one secret that I will reveal to you tonight in the greatest confidence. Sometimes there are no winners at all. And sometimes nobody needs to lose.
10/18/2011: Music: Interview: Ryan Adams - The AV Club
I don’t know, because it’s this one long, never-ending story of me being a record collector, being a metal enthusiast. My weird side effect of that is that I play acoustic guitar and write these songs. It’s as weird to me now that I do what I do as it ever has been. It’s sort of like, “Wow, I’m still writing these kinds of songs. This is wild.” And then, I’m still listening to fucking Satyricon, you know what I mean? I get a fuckin’ boner listening to Dark Medieval Times. I get a musical boner that’s in the shape of an inverted cross. [Laughs.] I’m fucking down for it. But then I go to my songs, and I write these fuckin’ acoustic songs about this stuff. In my weird mind, it’s sort of like, “Maybe this stuff belongs… It’s the kind of music they would play in the woods outside of Mordor.” [Laughs.] That’s what it is to me. It really isn’t anything more than that. At times, I’ve over-described it, and I bought into the fucking interviews when I was younger. Like, “Yeah, this shit is totally meaningful.” [Laughs.] - Ryan Adams
“Last time I was here, this shit was suckin’ hard / It isn’t suckin’ hard anymore / I got rid of my David Coverdale-fuckin’-second-Whitesnake-album haircut / and all my backstage passes to the Ratt Infestation tour lyin’ on the floor.” - Ryan Adams
The preparation of what I’m doing takes a shitload longer than a person to just listen to it through once, and then start jive-turkeying on the Internet. Because the Internet is an immediate thing, but you can’t fucking write an album on the Internet. So, to me, it’s a virtual meal, and you can’t virtually taste shit. It’s a false experience, when I see the reviews of something that I’ve done, to [only have had] the record for a day. So my records go into my back catalog—my back catalog sells more than anything—and then people can just go to the back catalog. It’s always there; it’s like canned goods. When they’re hungry, they can go and get it, and there it is. It’s there for them. - Ryan Adams
"It’s not a ‘Go to the beach’ record, but it’s like, ‘Let’s go out at night and let’s fuckin’ be werewolves of chaos in New York.’” - Ryan Adams
(Read the full Review Here)
I fucking love Ryan Adams, he’s a fucking rockandroll god of pain and love. And fuck he sounds like a crazy bastard and I mean that in the best way. He talks here about idiots on the internet who are full of negativity but the the worst I ever heard of was some jerk was saying that happiness ruined Ryan and that the guy(girl?) wished that Ryan was still on drugs and his wife (Mandy Moore) would leave him so his music would be good again. What a selfish asshole.
What does he mean by that fairly weighty reference? Moby-Dick, Philbrick explains, published in 1851, was itself born in the pre-Civil-War churn of a very tense American consciousness. While it wasn’t a critical or popular success upon publication (critically, he calls it a “great disaster”), Philbrick notes that after World War I, Americans here and abroad came to understand that it contained “the genetic code” for much of what happens in the country where it was written. And he predicts it will cycle back to relevance in difficult times, “whenever we will run into an imminent cataclysm.”
It’s not that Philbrick doesn’t understand that it’s a difficult book to read — in fact, he thinks it makes sense to come to it after you’ve had some life experience and not, one presumes, in the high school and college settings where it’s often been required reading. He notes that Melville himself was influenced by midlife encounters with both Nathaniel Hawthorne and the works of Shakespeare. He even acknowledges that the much-discussed clam chowder and whale anatomy sequences require that the reader “have some patience.” - Linda Holmes
(Listen to the Story Here)
Moby-Dick has been, in a weird way, one of the most influential books in my life. I’m not sure I can explain exactly how except to say there are an infinite amount of ways to tell Moby-Dick if you really want to and if you have a white whale or if your character has one or is one. If you can tell the best version of Moby-Dick that you can, well then you’ve probably got something.
10/18/2011: Music: The Hair Song by Black Mountain
"Schmidt’s spotlight turns are indicative of a broader shift in Black Mountain’s M.O., where the band is becoming less reliant on a monolithic power-chord attack and playing more to the strengths and subtleties of its individual members. Sure, Wilderness Heart boasts Black Mountain’s fiercest thrasher to date in “Let Spirits Ride”— which takes the proto-speed-metal riff of Black Sabbath’s “Symptom of the Universe” for a joyride— but the real revelation is the playfully loose, stutter-grooved “The Hair Song”, which despite being built upon contorted acoustic-guitar strums and slides, hits as hard as anything else in the band’s canon. The song also charts the increasing confluence of McBean and Amber Webber’s voices— where they were initially presented as stark contrasts, the two are now practically finishing each other’s sentences. And in some cases, Webber even steals the song from de facto frontman McBean, her chorus turn on “Rollercoaster” elevating the track out of its sludgy morass.” - Stuart Berman
(For the rest of the Pitchfork review, click HERE)
This song is just plain fun and the video pretty cool too.
Alien fascist, alien with the devil
Let the whole world turn us on
There will be none left to drag away under your rule
Bang, bang the drum
Children having fun with the blues