Thursday, March 31, 2011

leonard loves priya

As of the time of this posting, I still haven't seen the 31 March 2011 episode of TBBT. Please keep your spoilers out of my comments section (^_^)

Navigating the waters of interracial dating, especially in the public eye, is fraught with all kinds of landmines. I'd like to take a few moments to commend TBBT for doing so with both humor and sensitivity in the recent romantic developments between Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki) and Priya Koothrappali (Aarti Mann), Raj's (Kunal Nayyar) sister.

It would be easy enough to play up Orientalist conceits for easy laughs and simple sight gags. For the most part, TBBT has avoided playing to the lowest common denominator. Instead of curry and spicy tandoori jokes, Slum Dog Millionaire jokes, and the like, most of the humor has come from Leonard trying not to be culturally insensitive.

For instance, Leonard feeling awkward about and apologizing for inviting Priya for Indian food, "or as you probably just call it, food." Or trying out techniques from the Kama Sutra. To whit, that joke was punchlined with something to the effect that if there was a book of sex for nerdy white guys, he wouldn't be offended if she wanted to call plays from it.

Mostly I enjoy this relationship because Aarti Mann is quite attractive and, being Raj's sister, she's used to dealing with nerds. Leonard asked if she would be willing to wear a Lt. Uhura costume for a little roleplay sex if he could "hypothetically" procure one. Her reply? That Rajesh had caused much family discomfort with his ownership of said costume.

I've still got my worries. Though the issue of sex has been handled with a fair about of maturity, it could easily devolve into mere exotic eroticism. Or Leonard's "sensitivity" could itself become racist by focusing too heavily on the difference.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

what do you mean i should READ before i write a book on the subject?!

NOTE: Never got around to finishing the book. I was getting too frustrated while reading it and it was supposed to be "fun reading" away from my law casebooks. Perhaps I'll take it up again during the summer. But then again, William Gibson's newest is still sitting uncracked on my bookshelf. Here we go.

Only 15 pages in and I already have major problems with Richard Bernstein's methodology in "The East, the West, and Sex." These may be generally filed under the umbrellas of "lack of localizing and historicizing" and "shying away from confrontation with Orientalist concepts." It reads more like a travelogue still touring the "exotic" Other rather than a serious attempt at unpacking the representations undergirding the frisson between Asian and Western.

The first chapter revolves around ChinaBounder and his notorious...

The Nature of Desire

NOTE: A fragment of a post I never got around to finishing. And I never did make it to that Blanton museum exhibit.

This weekend I'm planning to visit the Blanton museum to see the exhibit on desire. Coincidentally (or not), one of the topics I wanted to address is this series of blogs on porn is the concept of desire in relation to human sexuality. Here are, roughly speaking, some of my thoughts.

In the tradition of all "good" Western philosophy, to define and thus understand a concept such as desire requires marking out its limits. Typically this means figuring out what it is not and standard practice is to place it in binary opposition to another word-concept. Such an understanding of how Western tradition tends to "ground" its concepts upon the shifting play of opposites in an unstable (metastable?) network of meaning comes out of the post-structural analysis of Jacques Derrida.

But another influential French post-structuralist, Michel Foucault, approaches meaning in a radically different way. While he concedes that word-concepts such as desire can only derive meaning through a context network, his methodology, if we can speak of such a thing, peers not into the play of opposites within a "text" but looks at how it is strutured through the apparati of discursive practices. His "methodology" consists of digging through the discursive history of a concept through careful archival work.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

godspeed you! black emperor @ the 40 watt 22 march 2011

You don't go to see Godspeed You! Black Emperor. You experience them. It's not just that they're present a multimedia stage show with a 2 channel video accompanying the music.

There's a formula to every Godspeed song. That's not a criticism, just an observation. Just about every John Lennon song follows a pattern, too, that doesn't diminish the genius. A Godspeed song starts out fairly quiet, with few instruments, but usually the violin. More instruments join in over time, adding both to the complexity and building up to a climatic release, and finally dissolving into the next song or quiet.

The songs move you, they transport you into a different headspace and leave you subtly changed at the conclusion. The experience is transcendental.

The band hasn't been on a US tour in nearly a decade. They resumed touring with only a dozen or so shows, with a multiple engagements in a handful of cities like San Francisco. Thankfully, the history of the 40 Watt brought them to Georgia.

A few impressions...

Because of the limited stage area, video had to be projected onto a screen behind the band. This was both frustrating because some of the elements were obscured and interesting because it served as a backdrop, relocating the band physically with the tone and mood of each sound-sight combination.

The opening song was performed against a black field with the thin, scratchy letters H O P E pulsating in white.

I was particularly moved by another visual display. The right side started with the cover of a book entitled "Anatomy of Melancholy," then medieval drawings flickered and rolled like the image on a tv set. The left side started several minutes into the song. Its medieval drawings scanned through like microfiche, then would pause on one before that image slowly disintegrated like burning film. The effect continued to spread to subsequent slides, evoking a sense of the impermanence of memory, the destructibility of history, leaving me quietly unsettled by the inherent unrecover-ability of the past.

The guys behind me asked if the band cared about athens or were just doing it for the paycheck. Given the limited number of shows on the tour and lack of recent dates, they could have sold out a lot more shows. It didn't feel like a workman performance.

Seeing Godspeed You! Black Emperor was easily the best show I've seen in nearly a decade when I last saw them play in Austin. Let's hope it won't be another decade before they hit the touring circuit again.

Monday, March 28, 2011

top 5 for the week of 28 march 2011

1. camera obscura - let's get out of this country (this song always gets me in the mood for summer and being outdoors)

2. chapel club - widows

3. animal collective - for reverend green

4. godspeed you! black emperor - static (you're welcome)

5. the flaming lips - fight test

Saturday, March 26, 2011

disasters haven't dampened japan's predilection for the weird

I'm not gonna lie. I love Japan. You might even say I'm a Japanophile. But I also hate disaster porn. Ever since 9/11 the American media has fallen in love with the gratuitous, the spectacle of tragedy. 24/7 cable news coverage thrives on the continuous "coverage" by manufacturing the unfolding of an "event." But enough meta-media commentary...

I've been more interested in the trickles of information that have come through showing how Japan is coping in the wake of the quake, tsunami, nuclear reactor trifecta. Instead of a rolling counter of dead bodies and CGI effects projecting worse case scenarios, Japan (not just the government but the nation) has rallied to overcome. Western news agencies have taken the opportunity to emphasis the exotic other-ness of Japan: look how orderly they line up to buy food, gas, etc.; there is no looting in Tokyo.

Here's some interesting bits you may not have heard.

Immediately after the quake and tsunami, the Yakuza opened up their dormitories to the public, making sure people had a safe place to sleep. They were shipping in food by the ton to make sure people were fed. They even helped keep order on the street where Japanese police weren't able to maintain their normal omni-presence.

Too often, we don't really think about how scary it must be for young children caught in such disasters. Japan didn't forget. In the aftermath, Japan's super heroes began tweeting encouraging messages to their young followers. You think twitter is lame. I think it may have helped keep up the flagging spirits of an entire generation.

How do you explain what's going on with the damaged nuclear reactors to a young child? With a cartoon about farts and poo. One thing I'd like to point out that just because something is animated doesn't mean it's childish. In Japan, cutesy, cartoon mascots explain everything from quarantine procedures at the airport to the weather report. The strict segregation of childish from adult in cartoons, comics, and cute mascots prevalent in America and much of the world doesn't prevail in Japan. Enjoy this cartoon. And let's hope Nuclear Boy doesn't poo in the classroom.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

i love college radio

I intend to wow my readers with a comparison between GSU's station, Album 88, and the college station in my hometown, 91.7 KVRX, in the future. Unfortunately, this whole law school thing requires a lot of time to do, ya know. Practicing my oral for this weekend. As in oratory. My other skills are still quite amazing, I'll have you know.

In the meantime, I'd like to point out that I love the variety of programs 88.5 carries. Tonight was 8bit88. I tuned in around midnight. The entire show is devoted to playing the music from video games. Even better, somebody else in this crazy city loves the the Moon theme from Duck Tales on the NES enough to actually request it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

i guess they think everybody from texas is in the militia...

I, like most Americans, receive a lot of junk email and spam. Apparently my sex organ is too small and fails to reach satisfactory tumescence on demand. Also, apparently, I should be worried about increasing the size of my breasts as an Asian woman to please my male partner (disclosure: I am a white guy). Thankfully these things, as well as ads for a cocktail of painkillers without prescription, are intercepted by my provider's spam filters. But one piece of mail keeps getting through.

Back in the day, I think I registered to vote as Republican. However, I'm almost entirely sure I've never voted that way in an election. But I still get emails from Texas Republicans urging me to vote and participate in activities that I find, frankly, politically and morally repugnant. I don't know why I don't just unsubscribe. Perhaps like the folks of J.G. Ballard's _Crash_, I get off looking at human tragedy. Seriously, Rick Perry, secession?

But there's another email I receive regularly; it comes from the Ready Nation. I have no hypothesis how I ended up on their mailing list except for the aforementioned Texas Republican party link. This "business" markets your typical survivalist mentality gear to people (MREs and long term storage foodstuffs, emergency preparedness kits, etc.) This evening I received a disturbing email playing off the tragedy in Japan to sell me through their Ready Store a variety of Saratoga Farms canned foodstuffs by the case [10 cans per] (diced apples, green beans, macaroni, freeze-dried scrambled eggs, even buttermilk biscuits cuz they know how us southerners love a healthy dose of biscuits and gravy before we venture out of the Vault to battle giant radioactive scorpions in search of a replacement Water Chip).

Scared of the tsunami and earthquake (the newsletter still rated it 8.9 instead of the upgraded 9.0)? Nuclear crisis emptied shelves of food in Tokyo. Buy our cases so you don't get caught unprepared when God's divine wrath via natural disasters strikes in your area. Way to exploit a human tragedy to sell a few more cans of freeze-dried beans, Ready Nation. Wanna also sell me some fake potassium iodide pills to stave off radiation poisoning? Sheesh.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

top 5 for the week of 21 march 2011

1. radio dept. - tell

2. destroyer - kaputt

3. deerhoof - i did crimes for you

Deerhoof - I Did Crimes for You by Polyvinyl Records

4. kisses - kisses

5. dirty beaches - true blue

Trying harder this time to include 2011 releases in my top 5 tracks of the week.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

not "born this way"

Disco / new wave enthusiast (and one of my favorite new artists) Twin Shadow (née George Lewis Jr.) has remixed pop monster Lady Gaga's immensely popular single "Born This Way." I've never listened to a Lady Gaga song all the way through (nope, not even Poker Face) so comments about what elements Twin Shadow has pulled out for this remix I can't attest to. You can listen to it here.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Music for RAIN

Solange Knowles has teamed up with Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear and Twin Shadow for a charity song titled "Kenya" to promote Coca Cola's RAIN charity (Replenish Africa Initiative). You can watch the video, directed by Natalie Trains, for free and can download the track in exchange for a donation.

Details about the projects aiming to bring potable water to the nearly 300 million persons on the African continent who go without, the video, and the download are available HERE.

the earl of doom

I received an email from the EARL at 3:08 this afternoon (wait, doesn't this sound familiar) informing me that the Love Language will be pulling out of tonight's performance "due to the lead singer losing his voice." Instead of issuing a blanket refund to ticket holders, the venue will go forward with just the opener Richard Parsons and will headline Telekinesis! Those who want a refund need to call 877-725-8849 before 6pm EST to request it.

Now I know we can't expect Deerhunter to swoop in for a second impromptu set (thanks again guys for a killer show last night), but damn, two nights in a row the headliner at the EARL pulls out because of health issues. Is the place cursed? Should I worry about my health? Or are these sudden "health problems" really just a case of SXSW fever?

Whatever. Music fans of Atlanta should still make it out tonight. Telekinesis! will put on one helluva show. And it just means you'll get home a little earlier on a Monday night so you aren't as cranky tomorrow at your 8am class or job.

For a limited time you can still stream Telekinesis! latest LP, 12 Desperate Straight Lines, at Merge Records website.

top 5 for the week of 14 march 2011

1. jens lekman - and i remember every kiss

2. cloud nothings- should have

3. dirty beaches - lord knows best (does this sound like the national on heroin to anybody else?)

4. white fence - lillian (won't you play drums)

White Fence - Lillian (Won't You Play Drums?) by forcefieldpr

5. tennis - take me somewhere

pinch hitter

I receive an email around 7:30pm last night indicating that Wye Oak would not be able to make their show with the Lower Dens at the EARL due to illness. The message included a notice that "Deerhunter music group" would be replacing Wye Oak as the headliner. I asked myself, "who the hell is Deerhunter music group"? But for only $5, seeing the Lower Dens, a band whose 2010 debut LP "Twin Hand Movement" easily made my top 5 of the year, was a bargain regardless of the replacement headliner.

At the venue, the first sign of what lay in store for me was the same "Skinny" t-shirt I had bought at the Halcyon Digest release party available at the merch table. I realized "Deerhunter music group" meant "Deerhunter, the music group." I guess as opposed to showing the 1978 Vietnam war film starring Robert de Niro, Meryl Streep, and Christopher Walken. The Lower Dens were great. But Deerhunter crushed it.

It was amazing seeing a local band play for the local crowd with genuine joy and affection. Each song turned into an extended jam session. I could sense a real pleasure and enthusiasm emanating from the band in this unscheduled opportunity to play for the crowd and the crowd's genuine appreciation. Bradford even played in support of the opener, Lonny Holley, and joined the crowd front row for the Lower Dens. He called the Lower Dens Deerhunter's "favorite band," but tonight's impromptu performance filling in for Wye Oak deepened my already deep appreciation for Atlanta's band.

For regular readers, you know I haven't always had the best time at shows here in Atlanta. In fact, most times performances here come up short simply based on the lack of energy evident in the crowd. But I felt like I got the opportunity to experience something rare tonight. Easily the best show I've been too since I arrived here in Georgia. Thanks again to Bradford Cox and Deerhunter for stepping up to the plate. You guys were amazing.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

the drunken unicorn

Last night was my second trip to the Drunken Unicorn, a literal hole in the wall music venue in Atlanta. It's part of the MJQ Concourse, variously described as part of the Virginia Highlands or Old Fourth Ward. You wouldn't know the Unicorn was there just by looking for it. Thankfully I ran into some guys on the way to the No Age show who could escort to the front door. From the outside, it's just a little shack in the middle of a parking lot. You descend down a broad concrete staircase to the front door.

Inside, it's quite small. The bar is a separate room to your right passed the front door. Merch is sold from a table in a room at the back of the venue. Performances seem intimate owing to the limited capacity and relatively low stage. I like this venue. The walls are adorned with a mural of flying-wing type UFOs and giant robots that remind me of the Iron Giant.

Cloud Nothings were interesting power pop. I enjoyed the set but didn't feel like I was hearing or seeing anything too remarkable. There's a lot of internet buzz about the band. Who knows, maybe Cloud Nothings are more catchy recorded than live.

Toro y Moi, on the other hand, were fantastic. This was the second time I've seen them. The first was back in Austin at Emo's as the opener for Caribou last year. Chazwick Bundick, the man behind Toro y Moi, is often linked to the contested subgenre of chillwave, consisting bands such as Neon Indian and Washed Out. He plays a highly infectious brand of electronic dance with not so faint echos of 80s electropop.

In Austin, it was a raucous dance party with just about every single body packed into the space swaying, bopping, and shaking. Atlanta was much more sedate. Only a handful of people, including yours truly, managed anything that could be considered close to dancing. Several others in the crowd managed nods but for the most part the crowd seemed rooted to the floor, unmoved by the beat. Lots of people took pictures. Sometimes it feels like the scene here is more important to be seen than to enjoy, like music is a second job and the people show up with all the enthusiasm for a cubicle maze for the sake of being at the right place on the right night.

I dunno. Something about the live music scene here in Atlanta just doesn't feel right. It's like the city has no soul, at least not for "indie" rock acts. Even notorious gurus of making your body move Ghostland Obervatory barely stirred the kids with their glo sticks to cut loose, shake their hips, and have a good time when they came through last year. Ain't no party in a sad, sad city. I hear that dancing is good for the soul. And as a benefit, it also gets you smiling.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

the EARL

Tonight was my first visit to the EARL (East Atlanta Restaurant and Lounge). It's in East Atlanta, a sector of the city supposedly overrun by hipsters. There was definitely a hipster vibe to the crowd but not the over the top, cringe-worthy walking disasters made famous by websites like look at this fucking hipster or internet memes like hipster ariel. A couple of interesting folks I met said Atlanta hipsterdom is about 5 years behind the rest of the nation and I did notice a dearth of lumberjack beards on the crowd. But I'm getting off topic here...

The EARL is a great live music venue in terms of atmosphere. Even though the front half of the space is a restaurant, the place conjured more of an Emo's vibe for me than Stubb's (these are Austin music venues). The stage is in the back of the lounge. It lacks the Flintstones BDSM graffiti, punk Ganesha, and theater seats that conjure so many fond all ages shows memories of Emo's. In fact, the walls of the EARL are mostly just black. But it's got that same intimate feeling with the stage. In fact, we stood next to members of opening acts Blair and La Sera to watch Say Hi and Tennis play. I didn't see any mohawks or studded leather jackets to let me know the punks were present like the staple Emo's crowd. Atlanta seems to be light on punks, in fact; I've only noticed a few out at shows, most notably at No Age / Rene Hell show at the Drunken Unicorn.

Like I said, the atmosphere is great. The crowd was mostly chill, too, unlike my many bad experiences with people at the Tabernacle and Variety Playhouse.

The one big complaint I have about the EARL is the acoustics. Hopefully it was just an off night. One positive sign was the tech coming out to replace the lead's mic during the La Sera set to improve the volume of her vocals.

All in all, I like. Still doesn't fit quite as nicely as the aforementioned Emo's and Stubb's or the Mohawk or La Zona Rosa or the Parish, but a solid venue, assuming the sound techs get their act together and dazzle me next time. Because there will be a next time. Many of my favorite acts tour through their,  including the Lower Dens on Sunday, Telekinesis! on Monday, Asobi Seksu on the 21st, and the Pains of Being Pure at Heart with Twin Shadow on April 5.

Yew can dew it, earls!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

top 5 for the week of 7 march 2011

1. porcelain raft - tip of your tongue

2. tame impala - expectation (sorry this youtube uploader padded almost four minutes of dead air onto the end of the song)

3. zola jesus - i can't stand

4. telekinesis! - look to the east

5. young galaxy - b.s.e.

FYI these aren't my top 5 tracks released this week. just the 5 most listened to tracks by moi.

stream the new pains of being pure at heart LP "belong"

Album available on 3/29. Until then, enjoy.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

miley cyrus said what said what?

saturday night live used to be funny. i flocked to madtv once upon a time because the sketches were racier, shorter (so a groaner didn't torture you as long), and, well, funnier than the crap lorne michaels was throwing at us. i mean, seriously, a night at the roxbury movie? that weird girl who smells her armpits on her fingers? (i am alone in enjoying "the ladies man," however.) the only thing during those sad, sad years guaranteed to elicit a guffaw were the jeopardy! skits.

with the demise of madtv (vets will sasso and nicole sullivan can now be seen on the painful "bleep my dad says"), i've watched a few episodes of SNL again. the show is still pretty bad except for the weekend update, always a solid sketch even during the worst of times.

is the show trying to lure the tweens? miley cyrus and justin bieber in the same season? it's network and the sketches may not be funny but i think they're still a too adult for the hannah montana / don't stop beliebin' crowd.

which brings me to the 5 march 2011 episode. miley cyrus hosted and the strokes brought a pair of cuts i'm assuming from their upcoming album. the songs were fine but julian et al just can't seem to recapture the magic of 2001s debut "is this it?" but, surprisingly, this entry isn't a review f the strokes. it's a question about what miley said during the outro.

she gave the canned and bland thank you remarks at the end. she says "i want to thank the strokes, well they're making me but..."

what kind of dig was that at the band? was she throwing a fit because she wasn't the guest host and musical act? i've had the displeasure of seeing her on a few other interviews and the strong impression i get of miley is that she's a spoiled, entitled brat. she may not have had quite the public meltdown that former disney darlings lindsay lohan and britney spears had (yet) but... and honestly, her "scandals" don't bother me too much. mostly they seem like stunts meant to break her squeaky clean disney image; a young woman who spent her girl years in front of a camera for a notoriously controlling studio finally growing up and into her sexuality. mostly.

but why she got to say that about the musical guests? it seemed rather childish and not candidly cute or endearing to me.

UPDATE 26 Mar 2011: I noticed that the transcript for the Miley Cyrus episode has been updated to say "They're amazing to me." But that's not what Miley said. Check out the outro on Hulu before they pull it. It's crystal clear what Miley said.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


unfortunately it's that busy time of year around here for 1Ls. brief is due in a few days. applications for fall clinics and field placements must be submitted by tomorrow. and just 3842 more minutes until spring break for this guy.

but i didn't want to leave you without a daily dose of my own special brand of geek.

here's a link to an article about the fear of the feminine in video games. there's a lot of freud in there, especially vagina dentata, castration anxiety, and repression / expulsion. i've got a troubled relationship with freud but that's gonna have to wait for another entry.

here's an interesting video about the origins of wonder woman.

i've discussed the complex story of wonder woman and her creator william moulton marston before in the context of jodi picoult and gail simone scribing for the amazon. it's particularly interesting stuff, especially dr. marston's unconventional lifestyle and beliefs about gender inequality (spoiler: they aren't equal; i for one welcome our new female overlords); maybe i'll revisit it in the future in the context of gender and representation. oh goody, the topic of comic books and feminine bodies. better haul out the gallagher poncho now...