Saturday, June 22, 2013

WELL, THE LICENSE SAID YOU HAD TO STICK AROUND UNTIL I WAS DEAD. BUT IF YOU'RE TIRED OF LOOKING AT MY FACE, I GUESS I ALREADY AM:  Ready to feel old(er)?   Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville was released twenty years ago today. Rather than repeat myself, I'll make myself feel older still by pulling up what I wrote about it here a full decade ago, calling it
that magnificent, magical, intimate, introspective, nuanced, low-fi, completely awe-inspiring document of a complicated woman and her sexuality, one that sounded better than anything else out there, was better-written than anything else out there, with its worst track from its eighteen ("Never Said", imho) still leaps and bounds ahead of anything else. On Exile, girl-with-a-guitar Phair was sometimes vulnerable ("Divorce Song", "Canary"), sometimes triumphant ("Girls! Girls! Girls!), sometimes wistful ("Strange Loop"), sometimes horny ("Flower"), always compelling.
Here's "Strange Loop."   [This post has been edited to include "twenty years ago today," which was the point.]

Thursday, June 20, 2013

YE SHALL HAVE A CHILD:The spawn of Yeezus and Kim "Why Am I Famous Again?" Kardashian is apparently named North West.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

ALL DUE RESPECT: Multiple outlets are reporting that actor James Gandolfini has passed away at age 51 while on vacation in Italy.

The Sopranos would not have transformed television without his iconic leading performance—menacing, joking, sometimes tortured, sometimes gleeful, usually cocky, always complicated and fully human. Gandolfini made you understand why others saw him as a leader, why Carmella could never break away from that life, and the toll that life took on him. It seems like an impossible acting task, making an audience feel empathy for a brutal mobster, and yet he pulled it off. What a terrible loss.
SELDOM HAS THE LYRIC "THIS IS REALLY AWESOME" BEEN MORE MISPLACED: Yes, there is a Kidz Bop version of Macklemore's "Thrift Shop."  Personally, I'm holding out for them to cover Kanye and demand their croissants.
QUESTION ONE IS WRONG BECAUSE BEN REVERE NEVER MAKES IT TO SECOND BASE. COME ON: A ten-question baseball rules quiz from Jayson Stark. (I scored 3/10; among active players, 4 was the mode and 5 the median, while managers ranged from 5-9 points.)
JUST SAY THE WORD:  I did not previously know that "Sussudio" was a ripoff of "1999."  (So are many other pairs of songs.)
SKEE-BALL! The Gameological Society (AV Club's video game side) visits Chuck E. Cheese as an adult to determine what machines give you the best bang for your buck in winning tickets.  Frankly, I'll stick with the Super Trivia machine at Dave & Buster's, which might actually have a positive expectation on value, particularly if you're playing with a full slate of players.

Monday, June 17, 2013

TWO MINUS THREE EQUALS NEGATIVE FUN:  Fortunately, an enterprising soul has assembled all the things you might remember Troy McClure from into a single supercut.
TAKING THE WIG OFF THE SHELF: So, we now have a front-runner for next year's Tony for Best Actor in a Musical.  Neil Patrick Harris has announced that immediately upon wrapping HIMYM, he'll assay the title role in the first Broadway production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.  Even though the show hasn't appeared on Broadway in the past, it'll almost certainly be deemed a revival under the "classics" rule, so won't be eligible for book/score.  (Most interesting--the theoretically showdown between NPH and Hugh Jackman.)
AWESOME THINGS OF WHOSE EXISTENCE I WAS PREVIOUSLY UNAWARE:  From the third-ever episode of SNL, a performance by the dance troupe The Lockers, which included Toni Basil, Fred "Not Yet Rerun" Berry, and Shabba Doo.  [As some of you will recall, The Lockers (sans Basil) would later appear on "What's Happenin'!!" with Berry in the episode titled "My Three Tons," because, yes, the show did have musical episodes which didn't include The Doobie Brothers.]

The other rather glorious piece of 1970s culture I caught this weekend was an airing of this Earth Wind and Fire concert from Oakland taped for HBO in 1981 -- but, trust me, it could not be more 70s. The laser intro alone ... and then ALOTT5MA fave Verdine "Sexual Chocolate!" White shows up. Fun.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

UNCLEAR WHETHER STRONGER THAN IRON: I wanted to talk a little about Man of Steel and give folks a place to talk about it.  I think there are a few parts that it nails, and a big one that it doesn't.  First, I think the film's take on Lois Lane is interesting and smart--for the first time in recent memory, Lois isn't a helpless love interest, not do we get told that she's a great journalist while all we see is her as a borderline incompetent--she's two steps ahead of Superman the entire time, which is a great refreshment in a genre that generally hasn't been all that great for women.

Second, I think a big piece of the film's reconception of Superman really works--the idea that Clark/Kal-El is an outsider coming to grips with who and what he is rather than simply springing fully formed is an interesting one, as is how Jonathan Kent is used--without spoiling anything, there are notes of (of all things) Dexter in this conception of Superman, with an adoptive father trying to steer his "different" child to live according to a code and to hide his "talents" from the general public.  Indeed, I would have happily watched a two hour movie that ended with Superman "revealing himself" to the general public, and let the sequels explore what happens next.

The problem is, that's not the movie we get.  We get a supervillain, and given the breadth and scope of Superman's powers, it's very hard to come up with a villain that challenges him.  Either you have to go with a Kryptonite-based plot (which isn't mentioned at all in this version of the mythos, and may not even play a role) or you have to go with an alien threat of some sort.  We opt for the latter here, and as much fun as it is to watch Michael Shannon bellow as General Zod (who does what he can with the material), it ultimately degrades into two guys punching each other, which isn't terribly exciting to watch, particularly when preceded by cosmic action nonsense (I am skeptical that opening a black hole in the middle of Metropolis would not have done more damage).

Much debate in the film revolves around the final resolution of the Superman/Zod conflict, which drew applause (though not from me) in the theatre I saw it in this afternoon.  I'm not sure it's in keeping with the ideals of Superman as established in the comic mythos, but it does establish some things about Superman in this universe going forward, and I'll be interesting to see where they take things, particularly given that they may finally find a problem that Superman can't address just by punching it really hard.