Tag Archives: entertainment

More than marketing: The Blueflowers and the New Wave of Americana

I’ve never much cared for the musical genre broadly known as Americana, and lately I’ve been thinking about why this is. I suppose it’s acceptable to say hey, I’ve listened to a lot of these artists and most of them just kinda bore me, but that seems unsatisfactory for a guy who thinks about music like I do.

After some reflection, I think it comes down to a couple of issues. The first one, I admit right up front, is objectively unfair of me, but there is a part of me that associates Americana with the Baby Boomers, and in particular sees it as a late, faint attempt by the post-Reagan iteration of the cohort to recapture lost authenticity. Continue reading More than marketing: The Blueflowers and the New Wave of Americana

Hard times for the pure of heart: is it possible to live ethically in modern society?

I think we’d all love to live every phase of our lives in happy accord with high moral and ethical principles. We’d love it if we were never confronted by logical contradictions and cognitive dissonance, by cases where our walk was at odds with our talk. But the truth is that we live in a society that’s complex, at best, and a cesspool of corruption at worst. It’s just about impossible to get through a day without compromise, and every time we compromise it’s difficult not to feel as though we’ve failed a little.

Some people are better at dealing with the conflict than others, whether through denial or a well-developed, pragmatic knack for keeping things in perspective. Unfortunately, I don’t do denial at all and while I like to think of myself as having a strong pragmatic streak, in practice my principled side tends to dominate my decision-making in ways that occasionally deprive me of convenience and pleasure. Continue reading Hard times for the pure of heart: is it possible to live ethically in modern society?

Amusing ourselves to death, circa 2010

This is the future – people, translated as data. – Bryce, Network 23

The future has always interested me, even when it scares me to death. I wrote a doctoral dissertation that spent a good deal of time examining our culture’s ideologies of technology and development, for instance (and built some discussion of William Gibson and cyberpunk into the mix). I once taught a two-semester sequence at the University of Colorado in Humanities and the Electronic Media, where I introduced the concept of the “Posthumanities” to my students. A few years back I talked about the future of retail and described the smartest shopping cart that ever lived. Continue reading Amusing ourselves to death, circa 2010

Whoopi Goldberg: defender of the indefensible?

So, I had been aggressively not following Mel Gibson’s latest spewfest. The truth is, I’ve known what I needed to know about him for some time, and worrying about the particulars of each new episode would be pointless celebrity-mongering.

Then, of course, somebody insisted that I listen to the actual audio. I came away thinking, wait, did he just say “if you get raped by a bunch of niggers it’ll be your fault”? Damn – that’s out there even by Mel’s psycho-nutbag standards.

Then I tripped across this from Whoopi Goldberg:

I know Mel, and I know he’s not a racist. I have had a long friendship with Mel. You can say he’s being a bonehead, but I can’t sit and say that he’s a racist having spent time with him in my house with my kids. I don’t like what he’s done, make no mistake. Continue reading Whoopi Goldberg: defender of the indefensible?

ArtSunday: Let the musicians die

Every once in awhile I come across unrelated stories that somehow associate themselves in my mind. Take these, for instance:

First, I hope you saw Lex’s tribute to Starchild (given name, Gary Shider), he of P-Funk fame. As Lex notes, Shider experienced problems where the cost of fighting the cancer that killed him was concerned.

Second, another American music icon, Alex Chilton, passed away earlier this year. Continue reading ArtSunday: Let the musicians die

Great moments in the history of traditional family values: Rush Limbaugh weds, Elton John sings for his supper

So, Rush Limbaugh just got married. Congrats, Rush – we wish you well.

We wanted to note this momentous occasion because, as you know, Rush is a big proponent of family values, and few things say family like walking down the aisle and publicly expressing your lifelong commitment to the person of the opposite gender that you love.

Especially when you’re so committed to traditional values that you do it four times. Wow.

Sir Elton John, whose raging queerness makes him incapable of family values, was allegedly paid $1M to play the reception. Continue reading Great moments in the history of traditional family values: Rush Limbaugh weds, Elton John sings for his supper

Survivor: who is the greatest player of all time?

Part two in a series.

Yesterday I explained why I think Survivor is the ultimate game. Today I want to talk about the players – and to solicit your opinion on the subject.

On the reunion show the other night the question was quickly raised: does this victory make Sandra Diaz-Twine the greatest player ever? Sandra says yes. Russell Hantz says that if Sandra can win the game twice then the game itself is flawed.

Maybe he’s right, or maybe she is, or maybe they’re both wrong. It’s certainly a good topic for sparking arguments. As I noted yesterday, the game beats anything we’ve ever seen for complexity. It’s part physical challenge, part endurance/attrition marathon, part strategic duel and part cocktail party. And being the best player in the game at all these dimensions doesn’t even assure victory. Continue reading Survivor: who is the greatest player of all time?

Survivor: the greatest game ever played

Part one of a series.

The 20th season of Survivor, Heroes vs. Villains (or, if you prefer, Revenge vs. Redemption) is now in the books, and Sandra Diaz-Twine is the game’s first two-time champion. Many fans regarded HvV as one of the best seasons ever, if not the very best.

I don’t believe I’ve ever written about Survivor before, but in the entire decade-long run I think I’ve missed a total of two episodes. Maybe that makes me a fan, but in truth I’m as much a student of the game as I am a fan of it. Continue reading Survivor: the greatest game ever played