Posted by: dougery | June 26, 2013

Summer Reading List

As the wall to my left begins to destabilize in the oppressive heat of full sun, I am, like Will Smith, reminded of summer. Summer-summer-summertime. Now let’s all sit back and unwind.

Here, in no particular order are a few of the books I intend to read this summer. You could call it a ‘summer reading list,’ but you could also call it a ‘books that have been piling up next to the lamp in my bedroom list’ and be just as accurate.

Vrooooom

Speedboat, Renata Adler, NYRB 2013

What I know about Speedboat: Virtually nothing. I know it is ‘experimental’ (whatever that means). I know that it is ‘good’ enough that the tremendous NYRB series deemed it worthy of resurrecting (the novel was initially published in the 70s). I know that Renata Adler is a terrific name, just terrific. Just look at all those ‘A’s and ‘E’s and ‘R’s. It’s rhythm even reminds me of being out on my grandfather’s boat when I was a kid. He’d gun the engine and if the water was at all choppy you’d get this pulsing shoom-shoom-shoom as the boat glanced over the waves. reh-nah-tah-add-ler shoom shoom. I know that Renata is a woman, and I’ve been making a conscious effort to read more ‘classic’ works by female authors. Because the canon is, well, ::sighs:: And yeah, I’m going to try and stop employing scare quotes throughout the remainder of this post.

Where I learned about Speedboat: Flavorwire?

thanks a lot, dead dad

The Dead Father, Donald Barthelme, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (reprinted in) 2004.

What I know about The Dead Father: Earlier in the year I had the fortune of reading Barthelme’s subversive take on the Arthur legend The King. I enjoyed it so much that I immediately snapped up some of his other works, though not his most famous 60 Stories. This novel has a new forward by Donald Antrim that further sold me on buying it, as I laid waste to Antrim’s 3 short novels over the past year. So, basically if your name is Donald you should really consider writing acidic, funny, ‘postmodern’ literature (dammit with the scare quotes, I just can’t help it with words like that). I’m also entirely unsure how to pronounce the author’s last name. In my head I say Bar-tell-me, which is as good a guess as any.

Where I bought The Dead Father: The Harvard Bookstore, a half hour after the marathon bombing (I’d still not heard about it happening yet).

four first names and a dingo

Geronimo Rex, Barry Hannah, Grove Press 1998(?)

What I know about Geronimo Rex: Complete shot in the dark. Hannah is an author that the folks on HTMLgiant are always going on about. His books seem to have fallen out of favor, or at least out of print. I’ve only ever found his stuff in used bookstores. I think he’s one of those aggressive, hyper-masculine authors in the David Gates mold, or at least one who exposes toxic masculinity for what it is. But he could be something else entirely. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure what to expect here. The taxidermied-looking coyote on the cover is intriguing. Yes, I certainly do judge books by their covers.

Where I bought Geronimo Rex: Rodney’s Bookstore (Central Square, Cambridge, MA)

tbh i prefer miss gala or miss braeburn

Miss MacIntosh, My Darling (2 vol set), Marguerite Young, Dalkey Archive 1993 (originally published in 1965)

What I know about Miss MacIntosh, My Darling: a) it has a terrible name, b) it is frightfully long c) it may or may not be a kind of American steam-of-consciousness novel Faulkner always wanted to, but didn’t have the ovaries to write d) or maybe it’s a Proustian digression-o-rama. Either way, it looks amazing. I had to special order this one from Dalkey themselves, because evidently bookstores have a hard time moving books like these.

Where I heard about Miss MacIntosh, My Darling: Twitter. An author I follow has spearheaded a couple ‘social-readings’ via twitter, where a group of folks choose a big, daunting novel and then read 10 pages a day, discussing our thoughts in 144 character bursts. This worked admirably well for Gaddis’s JR, and semi-admirably for Delaney’s Dhalgren. Anyhow, after a glut of dude authors, Lee proposed we tackle this behemoth, but the group fizzled out. I still intend to surmount Young’s magnum opus, though it might just kill me.

puff puff

Cigarettes, Harry Mathews, Dalkey Archive 1998

What I know about Cigarettes: Well, smoking them is a bad habit and can take years off your–I’m just fucking with you. Let me cut and paste or failing that paraphrase what I know about this novel from one Jeff Waxman: “Cigarettes, if you haven’t read any Mathews, get it. Read it, love it, do it.” I’m not sure if he is requesting that I sleep with the novel or not. Possibly.

POW!

Donnybrook, Frank Bill, FSG (again) 2013

What I know about Donnybrook: Another author with two first names and no last names and there’s a guy getting punched in the face on the cover. More books should feature guys getting punched in the face. You know, instead of headless women’s bodies or dismembered parts of women’s bodies (seriously, scan a display in any bookstore. Nothing but women’s legs, women’s torsos, just count how many have eyes or suggest any kind of subjectivity). More novels should punch people in the face. More novels should get punched in the face. Geez, what’s with the violence, settle down, bro.

Where I bought Donnybrook: Porter Square Books (Cambridge, MA)

throw it down, big man

Beauty Was The Case That They Gave Me, Mark Leidner, Factory Hollow Press, 2011

What I know about Beauty Was The Case That They Gave Me: It’s poetry. More titles of poetry collections should be riffs on classic Snoop Lion (ne: Dogg) tracks. Because reading poetry is incredibly stimulating for a fiction writer. Because I might take a class in the fall on poetry and this dude’s name is on the reading list. Because the publisher is Factory Hollow Press, which is in Northampton, MA and not NYC and there should be more publishers that are not in Brooklyn or NYC.

Other books I might read or books I have already started that I might possibly finish:

Capital, Marx (600 pgs down, untold hundreds to go)
Postwar, Judt (couple hundred in)
Theory of Prose, Shklovsky (about halfway done)
The Double Helix, Watson & Crick
Blueprints of the Afterlife, Boudinot
We, The Children of Cats, Hoshino

Love,
Douglas

Posted by: dougery | March 18, 2013

I’ll Gladly Reimburse you Tuesday for a $20 Today

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Last night Leo, C.J., Josh and Toby were arguing on my television, as they have so often of late. I finally (Finally!!) succeeded in snaring my wife on the West Wing, which we are now devouring at a pace of about 2 episodes per evening. The white house gang were arguing over the relevance of green beans to the electoral college, which makes much more sense in the context of the show, I promise. Anyways, they were talking when the doorbell of our apartment rang.

This is always a disconcerting phenomenon at 9:15 PM on a Sunday evening. What good can possibly come of this, I thought to myself. I freed myself from a nest of comforters (it’s still ball-chillingly cold in Boston, even 2 days from the official start of spring. There’s a winter storm warning for tonight, haha!) and realized I would be answering the door in my pajamas. Oh well. My wife peeked out around our curtain and saw… our neighbor.

This was both good and bad news. Good because it wasn’t somebody asking for donations, or selling something, or a murderous stranger who would kill me and wear my skin as a coat. Bad because as our neighbor, something might actually be wrong here. As our neighbor, we have certain neighborly duties. When your neighbor’s car won’t start, you go out and hook up the cables and you give them a jump. If your neighbor is out of milk and needs some, you give them some milk.

Now about our neighbor.

L and I call her Poppa’s Momma, because we were introduced to everyone in her house long ago and failed to get her name but she has a cat named Poppa which she calls after, endlessly, around 6 PM, when its time for his supper. “Poppa! Poppa!” over and over in a thick, Medford accent. It’s not just Southie where the stereotypical Boston twang reigns supreme.

Poppa’s Momma is of generous carriage. I have only ever seen her in a nightgown, for that is what she wears all the time. She was wearing a nightgown in late December when she dropped off her Christmas gift for our cat, a CVS store-bought felt stocking with ‘Pickles’ written across the top in blue ballpoint pen (and not, say, glitter). Never mind that our cat’s name is Pickle (singular. Get with the program, people!), the stocking was full of cat-treats and canned food and a toy with a bell that Peeper adores. Poppa’s Momma has been nothing but kind to us, calling us Honey, sitting sentinel on her front porch in the warm weather months (be-nightgowned, obvy) with a bottle of wine.

Last night Poppa’s Momma looked… anxious. I answered the door and she asked swiftly, as if scripted, “I was wondering if I could borrow $20 until Tuesday.” I paused, and hesitated, and said “One moment,” whereupon I disappeared inside, vaguely recalling a conversation I’d had with my upstairs neighbor. T had also been approached for money. It had also been $20 and it had also been promised to be returned on a Tuesday. T had thought, rather logically, that the money was needed for drugs.

So, yikes.

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L saw me and I relayed the request. We conferred and although conflicted (she’s so nice to us!), decided to claim empty wallets, just debit cards, I’m so sorry, we just got back from VT. Poppa’s Momma was fine, she said no problem. I began to doubt myself. What if she needed it to buy bread or food or something. Would she be dead by Tuesday? Maybe she had run out of cat food for Poppa, but no, she would have just asked for it, if that had been the case, right?

Giving in would have set a dangerous precedent I think. We want to be neighborly but I think that what happened last night was a little weird. The fact that I’m still thinking about it, and writing about it, confirms as much. Still, I can’t help but worry that maybe I’m a bit of an asshole, or at least mildly assholish.

Posted by: dougery | December 27, 2012

2012: My Year in Music (Part 3 of 3)

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Here’s the final chapter of my year in music review-ish-esque piece. If you want to start from part one, here you go. Part 2 is here. This segment begins in September and plows on through an incredibly deep October (the year’s finest month, output-wise) and trails off in November. There are a few bands I wanted to include here, in particular Crystal Castles and Converge but I haven’t spent nearly enough time with those records and unlike some music crickets (chirp chirp) out there, I’m loathe to put anything on a best-of without really digging in.

[September 18, 2012]

How To Dress Well Total Loss [Acephale]

The year’s  most sincere, sexiest album of love and devotion in this author’s humble opinion. Yes, I know I’m an R&B poser. I don’t know shit about the genre. I haven’t kept up with it over the years and I’m well aware there are many many folks could school me in how R&B has had a thriving underground scene in the decades before a few breakthrough artists started popping up on P4k. So yeah, I can’t really discuss how Total Loss is a reinvention of anything or a singular achievement. What I can say is that it fantastic.

[October 9, 2012]

Tame Impala Lonerism [Modular]

At least one eagerly awaited pop cultural import follow-up from the southwestern pacific didn’t suck this year (Hobbit burn!). Truth be told I still like Innerspeaker loads better, but there is lots to like on Lonerism.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! [Constellation]


Yeah, that’s the whole fucking album above. There’s really no such thing as a Godspeed ‘song’ anyway. There is no band like this one. Everything they’ve done just kills. And you can pair it with all sorts of things to meancing effect. American Nightmare, a 2000 doc on horror films from the 60s/70s has a Godspeed ‘soundtrack’. I still mumble the opening monologue from “Dead Flag Blues” and look around for a former co-worker, who would jump in and keep it going whenever we played it at the store. Good Times.

METZ METZ [Sub Pop]

Like most sensible people, I loved the Men’s 2011 Leave Home. And while their 2012 effort Open Your Heart is pretty great, the proper follow-up wasn’t even made by the Men, but by METZ. Their self-titled debut howls with the same kind of swarming sound that Leave Home did. This, alongside Cloud Nothing’s Attack on Memory made for a lot of great raucous music in ’12. Music critics may be all over the Japandroids for keeping rock’n’roll ‘fun’ (whatever that means) and making an album entirely composed of the best riffs of guitar rock [which is a) not true and b) nothing the Japandroids will ever make can top the sheer pleasure of Fang Island’s S/T] but for me, I’ll trade the ‘fun’ for the noise every day of the week.

Daphni Jiaolong [Merge]


When one can’t Caribou, one simply endures. And failing that, there’s Daphni, Dan Snaith’s dancier (uh, I guess? I mean Swim is plenty dancy too, right?) outfit. Dan said some less than flattering things about the state of pop/dance/electronic music which is regrettable, mostly because there is a ton of fun stuff out there, from TNGHT to Saint Etienne to Blawan’s creeptastic/awesome “Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage.” yet if it gets him out there making music like this, well, grumble on my friend.

[November 12, 2012]

The Weeknd Trilogy [XO]

This one is totally cheating. The Weeknd’s “Trilogy” has been out for a long time. He released it’s three component parts over the course of 2011 so you’re right, it’s a little odd for me to include it here. But hey, it’s official you-can-spend-cash-and-buy-this release wasn’t until late 2012 and people should be shelling out for this. “House of Balloons/Glass Table Girls” is one of my favorite songs of the last 10 years.

This is. A Happy House. We’re Happy here. Oh this is fun.

Whoa.

Posted by: dougery | December 20, 2012

2012: My Year in Music (Part 2 of 3)

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If I were to impose some kind of overarching narrative to the 5 albums I’ve culled from the hazy summer of 2012, it’d likely be one of chilling the f— out. Maybe that was just my state of mind, the needing to feel chilled out. After a big move, a new job, and summer full of sickness and death, the angry stuff would have to wait until later. Most of these albums are slow burners. Drony, soothing affairs.

If you’re diving into this thing in medias res and missed part one, here’s the link. If you want to jump directly to part 3, um, hold on while I create a portal into my brain or failing that, the future, as I haven’t written the next part yet. But fear not, in a few days you’ll have even more of my digitized thoughts to not read or skim or skip right to the music videos.

[May 22, 2012]


Mount Eerie Clear Moon [P.W. Elverum & Sun Ltd.]

Mount Eerie’s music reminds me of walking about in the dark. Where this walking is taking place seems entirely besides the point. There might not even be a where to these songs. I’m cool with that.

[May 29, 2012]


The Walkmen Heaven [Fat Possum]

Confession time. The Walkmen have always held this mystique of unassailable cool for me. Part of this has to do with them being consummate musicians who never make a bad record and yet have never exploded on the scene to reach, say, The National level notoriety. But mostly this has to do with high school.

[Personal anecdote time, feel free to skip on to the next entry].

My high school was so painfully white that Bush was the cool band, Green Day was the edgy punk band, Weezer was the obscure band and, well, you get the idea. I was too busy being angsty and misunderstood, with my headphones blaring Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness (I liked the more metal sounding tracks on the ‘night’ disc) to really dive deep into what else was out there. This was pre-internet days where I was fairly dependent on what the FM radio station played. But there was this one dude in my history class who had some sort of line to real music. Through him, the Walkmen might have been the first non-radio band I ever listened to. Cool story, bro (you were warned).

[June 26, 2012]

DIIV Oshin [Captured Tracks]

Remember the other day when I said I wouldn’t play favorites and that I couldn’t settle on any one of these albums being better than the rest? yeah, that was all hogwash. If somebody twisted my arm, which in retrospect seems like a really ineffectual way of making anyone do something, I would go out on a ledge (just trying to pack as many cliches into this sentence as possible) and say DIIV’s Oshin is #1. Outside of the Chromatics and John Talabot, I’ve listened to no album more in 2012. It’s awesome and it’s awesomeness is universal. It’s the only record I’ve played that has caused mutual head-bobbing amongst my brother, his girlfriend, my mother-in-law, the student assistant who works in the office, the list goes on and on. Seeing DIIV perform in Boston was also cool as hell.

[July 10, 2012]


Dirty Projectors Swing Lo Magellan [Domino]

By this point Dirty Projectors are a known quantity. They are something of an acquired taste in the same way that say, Deerhoof is–at least, that’s my impression of them. While this might be my favorite record they’ve made, I’ve also listened to it the least of all the albums I’ve addressed in this space. I enjoy Swing Lo Magellan when I listen, but I’m often just not in the mood for it, if that makes any sense. And outside of an entire album made entirely of a dozen cuts like Bitte Orca‘s “Stillness is the Move,” I doubt I would ever find myself consistently in a Dirty Projector mood.

[August 28, 2012]


Wild Nothing Nocturne [Captured Tracks]

Wild Nothing was on the same bill as DIIV that I saw earlier this year and if anything they played a better set. Between this and their album Gemini, Wild Nothing are putting together a tidy string of quality songs. The name always makes me think of the creatures in Where the Wild Things Are, if they aren’t called wild nothings, well, not to tell you how to do your job, deceased writer Maurice Sendak, but missed opportunity, dude.

Alright, next week after Xmas and all that fun stuff I’ll throwdown with September-November. Spoiler alert: It was LOUD.

Here’s part 3. Make Haste!

Posted by: dougery | December 18, 2012

2012: My Year in Music (Part 1 of 3)

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I don’t mean to alarm anyone but I’m eschewing the list format for this year’s music round-up.

I know, I know, I love lists, too! But looking back on this year I found it more pointless than ever to rank the music of one artist above the work from a completely different type of musician. Do I actually prefer some of these albums more so than others? Of course. Do I think some are better, will stay with me longer, will have a longer lasting influence than others? Yes. But you’re just going to have to figure those things out by actually reading what I have to say. Bummer, I know.

Approaching this piece I decided to look at the year, month by month, and choose an album or two from each month that I really enjoyed. In reality this is a survey of the first 10 months of 2012 because, I think you need a little time to digest something in order to deem it’s worth. So I’m straight tossing out this month (December) as it hasn’t even finished existing yet and am only including an entry from November because it has been available online for free for over a year and I think I got a handle on it (but we won’t be seeing that entry until the third part of this series, obviously).

Also, this was a huge year for hip-hop, so I am thinking of doing a separate post just for those releases. Their absence on this list subsequently explained.

Here is My year in music, January-April.

I’ve included a few stand-out tracks as embedded youtube clips. I think there is a fairly broad range of sound, so if one doesn’t grab you I’m sure some other song will. At least I hope so anyways. Enjoy! (and as always, tell me I’m wrong in the comments below).

[January 24, 2012]


Cloud Nothings Attack on Memory [Carpark]

“I THOUGHT. I WOULD. BE MORE. THAN THIIII-IIIS!” howls Dylan Baldi in Attack on Memory‘s “Wasted Days.”

Holy shit this record is awesome! Sorry to lay all my cards on the table like that. There have been a few notable articles this year about the ‘return’ of some kind of more ‘pure’ rock’n’roll (as if adding synths or anything electronic to rock makes it something less than it would be otherwise) and yes, there were a lot of excellent ‘guitar’ albums in 2012. I’ve spoken in the past how my musical interest in rock/pop is heavily shaped by Nirvana and Radiohead, with the former fostering my love of lo-fi, angry, loud, for lack of a better word, ‘punk’ sound, and the latter encouraging a look at more experimental, glitchy, somber, and yeah, dance-y songs. Cloud Nothings fall firmly in the first camp.

[February 14, 2012]


John Talabot fIN [Permanent Vacation]

From one extreme to the other. I’ve listened to fIN dozens of times at work (perhaps that is damning praise, the whole work appropriate-ness thing) and every time I enjoy it more. AllMusic classifies this album as ‘left-field house’ whatever the hell that is. ‘House’ music, for me, when used in a positive manner, means a simple form of electronic dance music. None of your dub-steppy wub-whumps or the breathy stretches of nothingness found in more ambient electronic music. No, a straight forward beat. So maybe the ‘left-field’ thing means ‘indie’ or ‘non-commericalized’? I have no clue. I just know that I could listen to “Destiny” for days on end and not get tired of it.

[Februrary 21, 2012]


Perfume Genius Put Your Back N 2 It [Matador]

Even I have a soft spot for ‘sad-bastard’ music every now and again. This is NOT the record to put on for dinner guests. No, you will get a reproachful glance from your wife and be told that you’re ‘bumming everyone else out.’ Mike Hadreas’s voice is the main attraction here, if by attraction one can simultaneously mean utter desolation. I’ve listened to black metal dirges that leave me feeling more hope. Yet in an odd way all the fragility makes me feel happy. As if all the hateful shit in the world wasn’t enough to destroy everything and that something as delicate and beautiful as this managed to survive.


Grimes Visions [4AD]

Claire Boucher has become everyone’s favorite whipping girl for the indie music scene. Presumably because of her many many looks. As in surely she has no clue who or what she is, and is manufacturing herself as she goes along, blah blah blah.

a) This is what we all do, every day, at least it’s what I do, as I haven’t my shit together thoroguhly enough to plan ahead and

b) Is there some reason an alt-music starlet is exempt from chameleoning herself while say, Lady Gaga or Madonna is not?

Make no mistake, Visions is 2012 through and through. I can’t think of a more timely record, so if I had to guess which one of the records on this list would age the fastest, it might be Grimes. But that’s only because so. many. records. will be coming out soon trying to sound just like this.

[March 26, 2012]


Chromatics Kill For Love [Italians Do It Better]

For me this is a throwback. So much of the music I listen to is designed around singles. I can’t remember a time where I was as thoroughly whelmed (as opposed to over- or under-) by an entire album as I was Kill For Love. Maybe as far back as Funeral. Or when I discovered Turn on the Bright Lights years after it’s release. It’s good is what I’m saying. Through and through. Hushed, dreamy, and yet just enough jitters to make the whole thing seem a bit haunted, too.

[April 24, 2012]


Actress R.I.P. [Honest Jon's]

Ambient in all the best ways. Invigoratingly odd. You can practically feel it rearrange your brain-cells, tearing up old districts and stitching together others. I love its playfulness, its weirdness.

OK, so that’s part one. In a few days I’ll dig a little deeper into 2012 with releases from May-August. See you then.

To continue on to part two, click here.

As_Long_as_You_Love_Me_Justin

We all knew this day would eventually come.

Lately I’ve been inundated with totally real and in no way hypothetical emails accusing me of reverse sexism here on Thoroughly Unnecessary Song Explication Files.

“You only review the ladies,” they read. “What about the fellas,” you complain.

As you might imagine, this kept me up at nights. Men singing… popular music? You mean, like, Nickelback? I shuddered at the thought, pulled the goose-down comforter back over my head and lost consciousness to the narcotic mundanity of Ellie Goulding’s calming voice washing over me from The Spotify.

But then I remembered.

There was… one person… I could review.

A figure who commands a army of millions. A figure with… swagger.

I pictured him sitting atop a throne made of slain bodies and rejected paternity suits of his enemies. Not that he’d killed any of them himself, no, he’d never need to lift a finger. Just send out a distress call and they’d come flocking to his side.

The Beliebers.

I picture them being forged like the Uruk-hai from the Lord of the Rings movies. Justin would reach his hand down like Saruman, not into some pool of mud and filth, but into a tub of glitter and melted pink lip gloss. He’d lift them out and smile and say, “Hey, girl.” And the newborn belieber would then scamper off to its rightful place–Twitter, say, or an internet comment-board.

Beliebers defend their lord at the Battle of Helms Deep

Beliebers defend their lord at the Battle of Helms Deep

So without further ado I give you

“As Long as You Love Me” (feat. Big Sean)

[Intro]

As long as you love me (x3)

There are some songs that tell a story. Others describe a complex feeling that can only be properly explored through music. They open subtly, tentatively or else establish a vivid tableau that stuns the listener with bold metaphors. Still others begin with some jerk-off repeatedly whining the title of the very same song he’s only just begun to sing.

We’re under pressure
Seven billion people in the world trying to fit in

Sometimes I actually feel bad for the Biebs. So much pressure. All of those fans to keep happy… ah hell, I’m just messing with you, I could not care any less about this entirely prefabricated little pop-music wood-elf. Note that Justin here is not describing the pressure of ‘standing out,’ nor would he. No, his primary concern (for his listeners) is conformity. How to ‘fit in’ not ‘stand out.’ To be comfortable as just another face in the crowd. What a dick, this guy.

Keep it together
Smile on your face even though your heart is frowning

The ole frowning heart disease.

But hey now, you know, girl

No actually, we don’t know, so please, boy, do tell, dude, with as many commas, friend, as possible.

We both know it’s a cruel world
But I will take my chances

An old and effective trick. Put the ga-jillion dollar super-celebrity on the same footing as any of the random plebes in the audience. ‘We both know’ is a simple bit of bridgebuilding. I’m just like you! The world is cruel to both of us alike! We should totally hang out at the mall and commiserate over some Sbarro’s.

[Chorus]

As long as you love me
We could be starving, we could be homeless, we could be broke

This is some insufferable shit. Is this the ubiquitous fantasy of all the super-rich? To imagine themselves as suddenly destitute, with nothing but Love and their own honest-to-goodness god-given talents to get them through this ‘cruel world’? Because otherwise it is just really tacky. The worst thing, the most trying thing Justin can think of is not having any… stuff? Look at the depths he will sink to in order to be with you, girl.  Like having to go to Stop ‘n Shop all by himself. You know, starving.

As long as you love me
I’ll be your platinum, I’ll be your silver, I’ll be your gold

Several things about this line irk me. Firstly, the order. Platinum is more dear than gold is more expensive than silver, not your convoluted line-up that is reorganized just to fit the rhyme scheme. It’s not like ‘gold’ even rhymes with ‘broke’ anyways. If all you are looking for is the hard ‘oh’ sound, their might be a few thousand other one-syllable words to choose from.

Secondly, you just said that money, possessions, hell, even food doesn’t matter to love. So logically, the way to follow that up is to promise to be someone’s lump of precious metal. There are ways of undermining an argument, and then there is setting fire to your argument while stepping back to point your finger and laugh hysterically as your argument burns to the ground.

As long as you lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-love me (love me) x2

I like to think that the Biebs whispers the parenthetical ‘love me’ at the end of those two lines because he is honestly unsure if anyone understood the too-long, super-held-out trilling ‘love me’ that precedes it.

[Bridge]

I’ll be your soldier
Fighting every second of the day for your dreams, girl

The only thing more tired and cliche (and mildly offensive) than when a sportscaster refers to a football game as a ‘war’ is when an 18 year-old singer equates romance with soldiering. Justin redeems himself with the second line (OK, not really redeems, but hear me out) which is my favorite lyric of the song because of it’s Gosling-esque nonsensical hilariousness. Hey, girl. I’m fighting for your dreams, girl. LOL. I have no idea what this even means.

I’ll be your Hova
You can be my Destiny’s Child on the scene, girl

Biebs is a chameleon, girl. From the cover of the single (see top of the post) where he’s trying so hard to be Elvis (can he even play the guitar?) to his days of bivouacking in the Love Army fighting for your dreams, girl. But why pretend to be Elvis when you can go straight to the cultural source Elvis so successfully co-opted to make all his money? Because there are no two people on Earth more similar than Justin Bieber and ‘Hova. Jay-Z would be the first person to admit this himself, I’m sure. And you, girl, are just like Beyoncé.  Totally the same thing.

So don’t stress, don’t cry, we don’t need no wings to fly
Just take my hand

Is this… a Peter Pan reference?

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[Repeat Chorus]

[Big Sean]

Yo, B-I-G
I don’t know if this makes sense, but you’re my hallelujah

You’re right, that makes zero sense.

Give me a time and place, and I’ll rendezvous ya, and I’ll fly you to it,

‘Hallelujah’ rhymed with ‘rendezvous ya’. Sorry e’rybody, rap game = over. Big Sean won.

::drops mic and walks off WordPress::

I’ll beat you there
Girl you know I got you
Us, trust…
A couple of things I can’t spell without you

Here it sounds and feels like Big Sean is staggering and struggling just to get these lines out. Also, good point–I too spell ‘us’ and ‘trust’ as ‘yous’ and ‘tryoust’.

Now we are on top of the world, ’cause that’s just how we do
Used to tell me, “Sky’s the limit”, now the sky’s our point of view (view)

One of the most annoying ways a rapper can balance a line is to repeat the last word. I get it, you’re trying to go for some quasi-emphasis but all it reads as is laziness.

Man now we stepping out like, “Whoa” (Oh God)
Cameras point and shoot (shoot)

Less bothered by this repetition. In fact, it should have been built up even more, each ‘shoot’ a shot from a papparazzo’s camera, etc.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY BIG SEAN, GEEZ.

Ask me what’s my best side, I stand back and point at you

Romance, ladies. Can you just picture him leaning back with both hands as ‘guns’, index fingers extended, thumbs up in the air, guns pointing at you, girl. This is the David Caruso CSI:Miami one-liner of rap lyrics.

verilyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

verilyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

You, you the one that I argue with, I feel like I need a new girl to be bothered with,

Well that was… fast. One argument in and it’s time for a new girl, girl.

But the grass ain’t always greener on the other side,
It’s green where you water it

So true, Big Sean, the grass ain’t always greener on the other, wait, what’s this about watering the what now? I… think I’ve lost the train of thought to this metaphorical love garden. Let me just lay down some love fertilizer on that freshly upturned sod, girl.

So I know we got issues baby true, true, true,
But I’d rather work on this with you
Than to go ahead and start with someone new
As long as you love me

Blah blah blagghh, I never thought I would type this but I think I’m ready to go back to the Bieber…

[Repeat Chorus]

I was wrong. Not ready. Oh god, not ready. Big Sean? Big Sean, come back! I take it all back, I’ll rendezvous ya!

[Coda]

As long as you lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-love me (I’ll be your silver, I’ll be your gold)

what happened to platinum our romance credit rating has been downgraded aaaaaaahhhhh!

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As long as you lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-love
As long as you love, love, love, love me

Just picture the Biebs as a pop music love robot whose programming has begun to run down. It stutters, extends lines for no reason, chops off others at random, repeats words incessantly.

As long as you love me (that’s all I want baby)
As long as you love, love, love, love me
As long as you love, love, love, love me
As long as you love me
As long as you love me

And if you don’t love him? Welp, I figure there’s a few tweens that would be more than happy to jump in.

Selena, you been warned.

Posted by: dougery | December 11, 2012

Better Late Than Never: Skyfall (2012)

skyfall-poster

Spoiler-alert: This ‘review’ will be 90% anecdote and 10% review so don’t say you weren’t warned.

Last year I made it my mission to watch all 22 Bond movies as up until that point I’d seen exactly none. The mission was a success, the movies were, well, all over the quality map, and I was just a few months early in celebrating the 50th anniversary of Film James Bond.

Since then Bond has been trolling my life, a figure in the shadows always popping up when least expected. When my wife and I arrived in Somerville, the local second run theater was playing 4 of the ‘classics’ the weekend we moved in. Then of course there was Skyfall, the 23rd installment of the Bond franchise, due out in late autumn. It had been less than a year since I saw it’s predecessor, the awkwardly named Quantum of Solace, but 4 years since the world had made it the highest selling Bond movie of all time. To think, what would the world have spent on a move that was actually good?

The answer, of course, is what it spent on Skyfall, the final installment of the Craig-Bond trilogy, the runaway highest grossing film in the Bond canon and yes, one of best the series has to offer.

I have to say it was weird going into this thing in ‘real time.’ My brother and I often have differences in opinion when it comes to movies, certainly differences in opinion when it comes to what to see, but we were harassing each other for months before this one came out. I ended up seeing it on the second week of its release after pedaling halfway across Boston on a frigid weekend afternoon. I almost saw it a second time as my in-laws scrambled to hit the theater the day after Thanksgiving, but nearly all of America, to say nothing of southeastern Connecticut, had a similar idea and it was sold out, so we rented Crazy, Stupid, Love (and this is the first and last time that film and Bond have ever been mentioned in the same review).

Turns out Bond improves upon seeing it on the big screen. It doesn’t hurt that Skyfall is such a pretty movie. From the roof-top motorcycle chase near the Hagia Sophia to the devastated abandoned city the main villain has commandeered (reminding me instantly of Magneto’s Genosha, post mutant holocaust) to the gorgeous Scottish moors, the cinematography on this one doesn’t suffer from lack of material. And hey, why not fill the thing up with ringers, acting-wise, as Craig, Dench, Fiennes, Bardem and company make other Bond movie casts look like the Laurel Players (sorry, I’ve been reading a lot of Richard Yates).

Things get trickier if you actually pick at the plot or assess the themes with more than a cursory sweep. I mean yeah, Bond doesn’t really need to exist at this point, that argument has been made many times, and why exactly do Americans (or all non-Brits really) take such pleasure in watching a member of a British spy agency foil the evil plots of terrorists all over the globe in the first place? Anglophile points get doubled when you learn that Skyfall’s primary villain is a former 00-agent, but then again all of these movies are going to be fairly incestuous by now, right?

Yet there are surprises even here. The largest being the fact that Bond isn’t the main character of Skyfall, which is more than a little bit of a relief actually. This one is all about legacies, the climactic scenes take place not only on the Bond family ancestral home but the fucking chapel of said home. How did Bond come to be this way?, what are the costs?, what are the alternatives?, all pretty standard stuff. Bond’s obvious foil, the who-he-could-have-become villain Bardem is an excellent actor and he out-creepys the infamous womanizer Bond by a factor of some magnitude so that’s saying something. The fact that Bardem’s character isn’t a heterosexual is an interesting choice. I’m sure some anti-defamation league somewhere has already written misguided protests as you’re not really supposed to hate Silva but feel sorry for him. It’s that evil system that failed to nurture his better half and turned him (literally) into a monster. Sigh, what could have been if only his mother hadn’t a poison womb.

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To be honest with you I can’t really recall what this film has to do with the two Craig movies that preceded it, but no matter. Both Casino Royale and Skyfall function as stand-alone pieces and I think we’re all the better in ignoring Solace even exists. Where Bond goes from here (Will he be… black? Is Stringer Bell available?, etc) is a mostly dull question. There’s nothing left to reinvent or reboot. It’s the same box of Bond legos.  May as well make something pretty out of the original pieces.

Bond grade (out of 007): 005

More like Once Upon Five Times in the West.

I don’t know what it is about me, or this film, but I have tried unsuccessfully to watch this thing through to conclusion a handful of times now and I just have not been able to. I began watching it during hurricane superstorm weatherbeast Sandy. What with the truly horrible effects in New York and New Jersey (among other places) and the election, this feels like several years ago. But there I sat, sure that the power would go out at any moment and I’d have to begin rationing my wife’s laptop battery. Needless to say my concentration was limited. I made it about 45 minutes into it. 45 minutes into Once is the pacing / character development equivalent to being 5 minutes into a contemporary Hollywood thriller. 45 minutes in and you still haven’t been introduced to all the main characters yet.

Since then I’ve cobbled together 10 minutes here and 15 minutes there. There is a lot of coldblooded killings. There are a lot of men who are in dire need of a shave. There is a lot of ominous harmonica, if that is actually a thing that can exist. There is the gorgeous Claudia Cardinale. Once is a long western and I still have the better part of an hour left. I totally suck at watching movies this year.

And the film is wonderful, it really is. It’s wonderful and sad and beautiful and other direct, expressive adjectives. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone with a movie-watching pulse.

“But Doug, how can you so highly recommend something that you freely admit to not being able to finish?” Someone in the crowd asks.

Well, Someone, I think I understand the brutalized grammar of your question. And my answer is, “Hey, look over there!”

::runs off down the hall::

In all actuality I will finish this movie soon. Just not soon enough to keep postponing this review, if you can call it that, or keep myself from the stack of Deadwood netflix piling up on my coffee-table. (Yeah, that’s right, I’m going TV western up in this piece, and very soon. Of course the old saw about HBO ‘not being TV’ probably still applies).

When I set out to watch westerns this year I compiled a list of dozens. As it stands it is November and I haven’t even made it through one single dirty dozen.  Granted, this has been a tough year, and I do end up watching far more movies late in the calendar as ski trips up to VT increase, but still. Next year I will have to realistically scale back my ambitions. My Year of Twilight. My Year of Naked Gun. My Year of Star Wars And Maybe Even The Prequels. Eh. Stupid attention span.

Grade: Still waiting to see what cards come down on the flop.

Up Next: (what, you forgot already? Fucking) Deadwood

Posted by: dougery | November 5, 2012

#RomneyDeathRally

So I’m like stupid anxious about tomorrow’s election. Fortunately, Twitter has stepped in to allow some folks a create outlet for their despair in the form of #RomneyDeathRally, a fictional(?) rally whereby Mitt wins the election and the universe crumbles into Lovercraftian oblivion. There are so many funny contributions. I have included a few of my submissions below to give you an idea of what has been going on. This is the part of the blog post where I encourage you to get out and vote.  I hope these give you a chuckle or two. If you are a twitterer and one of these amuses you, feel free to retweet.

Posted by: dougery | October 25, 2012

Pop Cultural Spheres of Influence

I have often said, in perfect seriousness, that I wish I could clone myself (assuming that my clone and I would have a kind of shared ‘hive’ mind) and just have my clone sit and read all day. Or maybe we would alternate days, I dunno. What would probably end up happening after the first week or so, is a terrible fight. I’d grow jealous of him, harsh words would be said, feelings would be hurt, and more likely than not, one of us would get arrested for clonal fratricide.

This is just a circuitous way of saying I wish I spent more time reading.

We all have pop cultural blind-spots. There is just too much stuff to pay attention to now, and I won’t even throw in real world news into the equation, though lord knows you could sift through that 24 hours a day, pop culture be damned. No, what I am talking about are the poorly designated categories of  Books (literary), Music (audio), Film/TV (visual), and internet miscellany (social media, youtube, memes, etc). So roughly 4 arenas of popular entertainment which I won’t bother to divide into high or low. Suck it Tree of Life, for the purposes of this argument, you’re popular entertainment, on par with, say, The Deadpool version of “Gangnam Style” video.

If I had to rank these four categories in terms of average daily time spent from most to least, this is what things would look like. Keep in mind these categories are blurry, I don’t pretend to know how to classify something like McSweeney’s (is it strictly internet, or is it more literary/Books? What if the article itself is about movies? Gah!)

1. Internet
2. Music
3. Film/TV
4. Books

The internet and its encamped memes and dominions is hard to avoid. Even though it is consumed piecemeal, jagged little pills taken here and there, I’d have to say I consume more internet than anything else. I’d guess I am not alone here. This is followed by music, which I listen to for several hours a day, almost every day. Unlike the internet, which is an ocean of relatively unchanging ephemera, I try to listen to a new album a day if not more. Unfamiliarity being the key. Spotify is ingenious in this regard. I’ll be perfectly honest, I probably average closer to a few new albums per week, but my world is awash in music.

Next comes Film/TV, which in my case nearly always plain TV as I’m lucky to watch a handful of movies per month. Seriously weak at getting to the theater, and somehow worse at watching the discs that are hand-delivered right to me at home. There they sit, mouldering next to the TV stand for months. I’ll get to you some day King of Kong. That said, an average evening’s dinner entertainment often consists of a couple hours of TV, be it reruns of Parks and Rec or last week’s Colbert Report, etc. If I had a television that was connected to the outside world, TV would likely usurp Music in terms of sheer content, just by adding televised sports alone. But as it stands I can currently only access TV via my wii’s Netlfix. Probably a blessing.

Lastly books. On a good day I will read for close to 2 hours. more if you count particularly literary blog content. I wish this amount was higher, or maybe I didn’t read such long books as I feel like I haven’t finished a novel in ages.

There are people in your life who you consider ‘music’ people. You go to these people to bounce opinions off of, or to talk about what’s currently great, what’s overrated, how such and such was live, etc. I have a few friends who watch more movies than seem humanly possible and if I’m looking for a cinematic suggestion I go there. And then there are my lit-nerd friends who consume books like candy. I don’t really have any ‘internet’ friends, or at least, these would be hard to quantify. I think we’re all more or less equally internety at this point. Those who somehow (stubbornly) avoided social media maybe less so. Ideally one would have a healthy mix of the other 3 realms but this rarely happens. I know I try my best. However there is the difficulty factor here to contend with. If I had to rank each of these categories by terms of ease of access or the amount of active participation one needs to deliver, the list shakes out much differently.

1. Books (difficult/active attention)
2. Film (moderate to high difficulty/active attention)
3. Music (moderate difficulty*/ somewhat passive attention)
4. TV (low to moderate difficulty**/somewhat to very passive attention)
5. Internet (low difficulty***/very passive attention)

*Yes, I know that say, Oneohtrix Point Never, or whoever, is plenty difficult, but we’re talking gross generalizations and broad averages here, people. This is a blog post after-all.
**There are always exceptions and yes, some TV is as difficult as any film or book.
***I mean, I wouldn’t qualify, say, the G.I. Joe parody PSA videos on youtube as particularly accessible, but you get the idea.

This difficulty can make a difference in terms of how you’re perceived by the world. I think a great many folks spend a helluva a lot less than I do reading books, thus I’m approached most often for bookish type suggestions. God help anyone who came by and wanted to talk film, especially movies of the past few years. I can talk a good game in Music, bolstered by my attention to Pop, which most of my more hipstery friends shun as if it might deliver unto them the musical equivalent of an unplanned pregnancy or something. I’m OK at television, but usually years behind what’s hip.

So how to better balance things out? For me it’d be pretty simple. Kill the internet and fill the void with 2 movies a week, an additional rock show per month, and an extra hour of reading every other day. Why, I’d rule the Pop Cultural world if I could achieve this. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure I promised the internet my first born, so I am kind of hamstrung here. Maybe the internet will accept a few homemade cat videos of Pickle headbutting blunt objects around the house instead. Those would be easy enough to pull off at the very least.

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