Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Will Video Games Become Better Than Life?

Video game developer David Perry discuses the future of his industry/art form:


Watch more TED talks here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What Goes Up Must Come Down

More street art, this time targeting Washington Mutual, one of the financial institutions that has collapsed during the ongoing crisis:


(Via Urban Prankster.)

All The World's A Library

Wonderful news from Google:
Google was built on the principle of making the world's information more accessible and useful. Before the company was even founded, Larry and Sergey imagined a way to make it easier for anyone, anywhere, to access the information held within the world's books. Search simply isn't complete without that content, and providing more access to more books is a vision Google has never lost sight of.

Four years ago, almost to the date, we first announced Google Book Search. Since we launched the service, we've heard countless stories about Book Search helping readers all over the world find books in over 100 languages on topics as diverse as The Physics of Star Trek and the history of Wood Carvings in English Churches. We've seen millions of people click to buy books or find them in a library, and more than 20,000 publishers have joined our Partner Program to allow readers to preview the books they find before buying them.

While we've made tremendous progress with Book Search, today we've announced an agreement with a broad class of authors and publishers and with our library partners that advances Larry's and Sergey's original dream in ways Google never could have done alone.

Continue reading.

You can also check out Google's new site detailing what these developments will mean for Internet users, read more at the company's dedicated Inside Book Search blog, or just start searching for and through books.

Regardless of how amazing this news is, it's really just the beginning.

(Cross-posted at The Podium.)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Jarrett presents album reviews on the interweb: THE CLASH LIVE AT SHEA STADIUM

Paul Simonon is still the handsomest man in music - and my favorite bass player 

Welcome to the Daily Iowan Arts & Culture blog renaissance. The Clash is one of my all time favorite bands, so you could expect how excited I was to get my grubby paws on The Clash - Live at Shea Stadium today. The 1982 Shea stadium gig is infamous in Clash lore, opening for The Who on what would be The Clash's last american tour.


Shea stadium has hosted some very memorable musical events over the years as well as shitty baseball performances, and it's ironic that it is currently being demolished as these recordings are released. The recordings of the performance had been long sought after by die-hard fans, and fortunately were unearthed by the the late Joe Strummer while he was packing while moving. The band at times could be slightly sloppy live, which they always made up with energy. Not to mention, it didn't really matter. It was the fucking clash. However, this recording catches them at their live peak. 
One might argue that punk should never sound so polished live, but at this point in their career they had transcended any trappings of genre confinement. It's reggae, (an awesome rendition of "Armagideon Time") it's rock N roll, ("Should I Stay of Should I Go" - a song where the music video was actually filmed during the Shea Performance) it's punk (Blistering thrugh "Career Opportunities"). The space created between Simonon's bouncy dub bass lines and Mick Jones's experimental-for-its-time atmospherics are really the stuff dreams are made of. 
It makes me wish there was a band this important to see live nowadays, but it's nice to know i can throw on my headphones and be right there. If you see some kid in a bandanna walking down Market Street playing air bass to "The Guns of Brixton," throw an egg at him. 

I give this 4 out of 5 Stars! The whole set is list wonderful, so all of 'em are my picks. See, i can be positive too in reviewing stuff.

Stay warm -  Love Jarrett

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Auto Shuffle.

So I went home last weekend, and it was fire. I spent an entire day alone. Ummm, when was the last time that happened? Far too long ago.

Anyway, where I'm going with this is that, well, I had to drive to get home. And besides the free food and laundry service that a trip home provides, it means I can listen to whatever I want to in the car. Driving = alone time = listening to whatever I want in the car without backseat drivers telling me what to put in my janky CD player (or telling me how to drive, holla!).

A selection of what is currently being held in my car for listening pleasure:

O and Bottoms of Barrels by Tilly and the Wall.
These are not bad selections. In fact, O is quite recent. I just can't bring myself to remove that BoB disc - you never know when you'll feel compelled to burst into a rendition of "Lost Girls." You just never know. And now some "Pot Kettle Black." Just because.

Various mix CDs.
The tracks on these CDs - made anytime during the past year and a half or so - range from the innocent ("4 Minutes to Save the World" by Madonna) to the vintage ("Stars and Sons" by Broken Social Scene) to the oh-so-killer ("Womanizer!!!!"). I try to make a new mix CD every few months or so. November 2008 is looking good. Track #1 will undoubtedly be "Shake a Fist" by Hot Chip, just for Ann.

Re-Arrange Us by Mates of State.
I think I played this too much over the summer. But it still gets regular rotation. If you hear "The Re-Arranger" being blasted throughout the streets of downtown Iowa City, just look for a red Grand Prix. I can't be too far away. My only offer (pun intended):

Under the Blacklight by Rilo Kiley/New Wave by Against Me!
I don't know why I decided to put these two on the same disc - probably because I was running low. But the cool thing is that New Wave is 10 songs long, so the Rilo album starts on track 11, which means that the first song on that album is #11, the second is #12, etc. That was the most pleasant surprise of my life. Right up there with - finally! - learning how to whistle, just so I could make "Alpha Beta Gaga" by Air interactive.

Pop-Up by Yelle.
Uhhh, can you say PERFECT driving music? Mademoiselle Yelle certainly keeps you awake, if not totally focused on the road: Evidence:

And last but not least, Rabbit Fur Coat by Jenny Lewis.
It's a classic, and yes, I know I should update it with her new album. But I will always keep this in my visor. Just a habit.

So if you ever need a ride, give me gas money and the chance to play some music for you. It'll be fun, and we'll probably stop at McDonald's.

Rock Gods!...Kinda

I'm not much of a "gamer" by traditional standards, but every now and again a video game comes along that I become completely hooked on. The only game capable of doing this in the past few years is Guitar Hero. By now, we all know of, or at least get the gist of what the game entails: using a guitar-shaped controller to dominate the electronic rock world...via five fret buttons, a strum control, and the ever-important whammy-bar.

I never anticipated this game to be so addictive. One factor that played largely into my momentary obsession was the fact that so many songs that I know and love are featured in every version of the game. Being a HUGE 80s Hair Metal fan, I practically pissed myself when the "Rocks the 80s" version was released. Yeah, it made for a very happy Rebecca.

Aaanywho. Like any video game, Guitar Hero has those players who couldn't finish the easiest song on the easiest level to save their lives, the great mass in between, and the few, the proud, the hardcore gamers who finish the game on expert and think, "That was it?" There are at least a few people in my circle of friends who fall into this category, and while they may be ridiculed for having no life (the same thing happened when DDR was unleashed), it is impossible to watch them play and not think to yourself, "How the fuck can anyone do that??". It's quite the spectacle.

The YouTube videos are equally plentiful and hilarious.

Guitar Hero: World Tour comes out on Oct. 26, and once again I will start to believe that I might have some discernible talent on the guitar. Right.

Halloween Costumes For Pets

I'm not sure how I feel about this whole concept. On one hand, these are very creative costumes; on the other hand, dressing up pets like this just seems excessive.

In any case, enjoy:

(Via Slog.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Andrew Sullivan On Blogging

He writes:
For centuries, writers have experimented with forms that evoke the imperfection of thought, the inconstancy of human affairs, and the chastening passage of time. But as blogging evolves as a literary form, it is generating a new and quintessentially postmodern idiom that’s enabling writers to express themselves in ways that have never been seen or understood before. Its truths are provisional, and its ethos collective and messy. Yet the interaction it enables between writer and reader is unprecedented, visceral, and sometimes brutal. And make no mistake: it heralds a golden era for journalism.

Continue reading.

And, quite appropriately (thanks to this beautifully bizarre evolving world-brain that we call the Internet), we can also watch Sullivan discuss the piece in video form:


(Cross-posted at The Podium.)


More street poster art inspired by the presidential election:

(Via Slog.)

And speaking of despair, check out They sell demotivational posters and other products aimed at pessimists. Here's a self-titled example:

And these two are hanging in my apartment (above my bed, actually--make of that what you will):

you played a fine guitar (and some dirty basketball)

Hey guys, Anna here. In case it's been forgotten, I and no one else am the token emo kid of the DI A/C staff (covering all Pete Wentz-related news, reminding you what an amazing album Pinkerton is, etc.), especially since Susan got to go to heaven—aka, a place where it's perpetually overcast and all the boys look like they just rolled out of bed.

Thus, it is my job to blog about today (yesterday, actually), October 21, being the 5th anniversary of Elliott Smith's death. He is an artist that I will forever regret not being able to see perform live, a songwriter without parallel, and obviously still deeply missed by those of us who listen to him.

Here's a video of Elliott performing one that a) is one of my favorites, b) is not quite in the same league of sad as many of his other great ones.

and, just for the record, check out the lovely Ben Folds tribute song from whence the title of this post comes—"Late."


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The *new* Sarah Palin

If you don't know that Sarah Palin was the mayor of Wasilla — yes, the mayor of Wasilla, Alaska!!!!! — then you've been living under a rock. That was a cliche. We don't use cliches. So, I guess if you didn't know that you've probably been cooped up in a rusty, smelly cage with Robert DeNiro feeding your lemon slices on the half-hour with no access to any of the outside world.

After Palin's time as mayor ended, though, it was time to elect a new one! And, from the Daily Show clip below, well, you'll see...

(I'm terrible at here.)

—B. James Stewart

all things SHRED for fall

Shonn Greene loves carving up NCAA defenses as much as he loves carving pumpkins

I know everybody needs to see another new funny youtube clip as much as they need a punch in the face these days, but I don't think I have ever laughed this much in a very long time. 

I present to you the new 'SHRED' meme - (creative overdubs of live performances)





Idea + Square = Origami

Origamist Robert Lang gives a fascinating presentation filled with examples of his art's beauty and utility:


Check out more TED Talks here.

Culture Jamming The War On Terror

Cory Doctorow writes:
Today's Wellington Grey comic says it all: "Warning: In Case of Terrorist attack, do not discard brain." He's selling posters. We need to put these up everywhere. I've just had a British Airways purser threaten to arrest me, my wife and baby because my wife endangered the plane by saying "bullshit" when confronted with a "safety measure," while complying with the measure. Warning: In Case of Terrorist attack, do not discard brain:

Read more about culture jamming here.

(Cross-posted at The Podium.)

This is why 1960's Batman is the greatest show in television history

My age is showing here, but as a kid my favorite show by far was the live action Batman, featuring the great Adam West, from the 1960's. I can't remember what channel used to show reruns every day, but I think I had the entire run of 120 episodes on tape before I "grew up" (read: moved on to something equally geeky, like Super Nintendo).

So imagine my delight when I discovered the series is back in the public eye, this time in relation to the current presidential election. Check this clip from an episode that ran November 2, 1966 (42 years ago!) in which Burgess Meredith (such a better Penguin than Danny Devito, no argument possible here) uses some familiar rhetoric in a debate with the Caped Crusader:

Are you serious? First of all, I can't continue before at least mentioning hilariously stereotypical Irish police chief Miles O'Hara's exclamation: "He's as crooked as a warped shellaleigh!" DO YOU NOT SEE HOW AWESOME THIS SHOW WAS? But listen to Penguin's rhetoric - he even uses the phrase "my friends!" Of course things get a little weird when you start pushing the metaphor to its limits:

I'm not sure Bill Ayers would make a great Joker, but I do know that if you had to compare him to one it would certainly be Cesar Romero's iteration - he famously refused to shave his mustache for the role, and so it was covered with white make-up for every episode (and of course is painfully visible in every episode). Also, it's a pretty easy call on which of the two candidates would make a better Batman. I submit to the jury Exhibit A:

-Brian Dau

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sarah Palin Wants To Eat Your Brain

Urban Prankster reports:
A group of street artists have been putting up this new Sarah Palin wheatpaste in cities around the U.S. Their site has instructions on how to download the artwork and put up your own, if you’re so inclined.

Check out Wikipedia for more information on street poster art or street art in general.

Also, this is my first post here. But definitely not my last. Though I'm on the opinions staff and put most of my bloggy energy into The Podium, which is the Daily Iowan's opinions blog, I come across a lot of kick-ass stuff online that really doesn't fit in there. So from now on I'll be sharing it with the world here. Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

All things rad for fall

When most have halted shopping excursions due to the onset of an economic crisis, I did the opposite. Lately I've shopped more than I ever have in the past. Yes, I may be broke, but I will not contribute to a crashing market and my consumerism will only become more obscene.  

My top ten rad things for fall:
1. Sweatshirt dresses.  They are all the rage. I recently bought a $40 purple sweatshirt mini dress from American Apparel and its by far one of the wisest investments I've ever made. It's one of those outfits that you can't wear consecutive days because people will notice immediately. Personally I like to pair it with item no. 2. 
2. High-tops. Hello 80s. Available in a variety of colors and patterns, these comfy comebacks make any outfit appear trendy. 
3. Cardigans. Boys, girls, grandpas and grandmas put on your button-up sweaters it's time for fall! Check out any scenester, he/she has a cardi. 
4. SNL. With impeccable impersonations, this show can't get any better. 
5. Which Wich, the new addition to Iowa City allows my multiple personalities to come out on the paper ordering bags. 
6. PLAID. It is everywhere. 
7. Girl Talk. In the spare time I do have, I listen to this as much as possible. Between the absurd profanity and clever integration of songs, it cheers me up on my darkest of days. 
8. Pumpkin patches that aren't flooded out.  A few weekends ago, I attempted to go on an annual pumpkin picking excursion. However after 3 hours and multiple 411 calls, I left Iowa City's own Wilson's Orchard and Pumpkin Patch empty-handed. Apparently the flood knocked out more than the arts campus, faculty homes and the work of local artists. It devoured all the pumpkins, too. Apparently the pumpkins in Swisher, IA are doing just fine. 
9. Mint tea. The changing weather kindly gave me a sore throat. I have combatted this ailment with mint everything. Although disgusting and slightly difficult, gargling mint mouthwash three times a day helped clear the oncoming illness. But, back to mint tea. When over-steeped, it clears out all your passages. It smells nice, doesn't stain your teeth, provides a caffeine boost, and warms your body. 
10. Voting. Frankly, I don't care what who you vote for. I just think its sweet. (I do not approve of blindly voting for a candidate when you don't know qualifications, experience or stances on issues). Many struggled to gain suffrage; it is a privilege. Political apathy is one thing that gets under my skin. If you care about health care, women's rights, international relations, the economy, or finding a job after college you should vote. Actually I'm sounding a little too much like that You Tube video, so I'll just link it. 

- Elizabeth Timmins

The Sounds of Fall

I'm just going to start out by saying this: I am not cutting edge. I didn't get an iPod until the end of my junior year in high school, I still have one of those silver razr phones (you know, the free one), and even though both my roommates are going crazy over sweatshirt hoodie dresses, I have not followed suit. The same thing goes for music. Listening to music is one of my great loves, but it takes me awhile to get into the latest albums. If I ever do buy a CD right when its released, I never like it right away. In fact, it usually takes several months for me to remember that I even own the CD - take for example Coldplay's latest Viva La Vida, which I bought this summer and have only now really started to enjoy. But the great thing about music is that, unlike trends and fads, its truly timeless. What's more important about a song is not when it came out, but how it spoke to you in the time and situation when you heard it.

No other season is as directly linked with music as fall is for me. For some reason, fall is always a time when I rediscover music. Each October I get hooked on certain artists whose music defines that stage of my life - not necessarily the latest thing, but whatever happens to find me. A few nights ago, I was reminiscing about some of the songs that became such a part of me during past autumns.

Fall, Senior year of high school - Led Zeppelin
I was in love with a boy who was in love with classic rock. We listened to "That's the Way," "Ramble On," and "Misty Mountain Hop" in the car with the windows rolled down and the leaves blowing by.

Fall, Freshman year of college - Matt Pond PA, Death Cab for Cutie
The memory of crossing the river as I walked to class from Hillcrest will forever be captured by "The Butcher," "KC," and "Summer" by Matt Pond PA and Death Cab's "Marching Bands of Manhattan," "Title and Registration," and "We Looked Like Giants."

Fall, Sophomore year of college - "15 Step," "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi," and "Reckoner" from Radiohead's album In Rainbows (one that I was able to get into right away).

Fall, Junior year of college - Still to be determined...but it's looking like it will be The Shins, specifically the songs "Kissing the Lipless," "So Says I," "Pink Bullets," and "Those To Come."

There's no denying that music really is a powerful thing - an art that not only gets us through the day, but shapes who we are and the memories that we cherish.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Comin' Clean

Disney Channel darling Lizzie McGuire, aka Hilary Duff, aka one of the only stars launched by the children's channel who has yet to drink herself into an oblivion, flash her crotch at the paparazzi, or shave her head, go to rehab, and be reincarnated as the next Jane Fonda, has proven that she doesn't suck quite as much as we all thought.

Here's a clip of her latest PSA where she takes a stand against people using the phrase "That's so gay."

Who knew Hilary actually had opinions?

But really, it's not the fact that she's standing up for something that's interesting, it's what she's choosing to stand up for.

The GLBT community has certainly protested the use of this phrase before. Unfortunately, semantics seem to be continually swept aside in the public arena in favor of more pressing and all-encompassing equality issues. It's curious that Duff, a supposed teen idol, has chosen to zoom in on this particular facet of derogatory speech, one that often goes overlooked and unnoticed. More importantly (and perhaps more unfortunately), "That's so gay" has officially become a staple in the everyday American teenage vernacular. Even though the punchline of the ad could have gone farther (and Duff kind of comes across like she has a stick up her ass), a kudos is certainly in order for aiming a message with a specific action point directly at her fan demographic.

If only the girl's upcoming Greatest Hits collection had any kind of substance comparable to this.

-Melea, who promises that her next post will sound less like a Comm Studies essay and more like her wonderful, snarky self

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A sad day for prom-going tweens, some slight glee for beefy stew

By this point I'm sure you're all well aware that Hearst has announced CosmoGirl will be folding, thus diverting their focus to the publication of Seventeen. And if you haven't, don't miss today's 80 Hours where the marvelous DI Arts reporter Meryn Fluker discusses the tragedy openly with you, our wonderful readers.

And while I feel Meryn's sadness — and Clara (shout out!) I really am sorry about the stringer deal — I'm just a tiny bit happy inside. For two reasons.

1. Hidden at the bottom of the release from Hearst confirmed one rumor floating around the food blogs lately:

[CosmoGirl] Publisher Vicki Wellington will become publisher of Food Network Magazine, which officially rolls out in 2009.

That's effing right. FOOD NETWORK MAGAZINE. I'm melting inside right now. Please, tell me we get Rachel Ray FHM-style pics?

It's a scary fact that the magazine industry isn't doing so well. The New York Times reported earlier this year that newsstand sales of mags fell 6.3 percent in the first half of the year. Experts say the "wtf economy" (my words, but I wanted the quotation marks anyway, so deal) is partly to blame, deterring people from making impulse buys.

Here's the kicker: While 8 of the 10 top selling magazines suffered significant drops in circulation during the first part of 2008, food magazines aren't really dropping.

"Everyday Food's newsstand sales rose 8.9% in the first half of the year, while sales of Everyday with Rachael Ray gained 6.2%, and Gourmet was up 3.5%, even as overall newsstand sales for consumer magazines fell 6.3%."

The same experts are blaming this on, again, the economy. Here's a formula I've created to help you understand:

Less money = not able to eat out as much = more home cooking = people want to learn how to cook good meals at home. Simple enough.
So, tack another foodie mag to my subscriptions. (PS - Adam from The Amateur Gourmet just stopped with the "FN Dish" to pursue another Food Network project according to his blog. Could he be on board with the magazine? I'm willing to bet on it...)

Oh, I almost forgot — I have two happy announcements!

2. More rumors are being confirmed, and it looks like the wonderful Samantha Bee and Jason Jones (you know, of "Daily Show" fame) are getting a chef-centered sitcom. Holy Emeril Lagasse, I don't see how that one could go wrong.

(Aren't they lovely people?)

Kind of reminds me of the short lived "Kitchen Confidential" based on Anthony Bourdain's drug/sex/food-filled life. By measure of the show's ratings (and it's quick demise) I'm apparently the only one who loved it.

The pair are co-creating and co-writing the sitcom, which will focus on "the behind-the-scenes world of a celebrity chef (played by Jones) and the two women who run his cooking empire (one of whom will be played by Bee)."

One thing's for sure: it's bound to be funnier than "Confidential." But, can it beat "Top Chef" in the B Stew annual list? It stands a pretty fair chance.

Ready? Break! (I never played sports...I like to pretend. Time for a sandwich!)

—B. James Stewart

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I'm Not A Partisan, I'm Just A Journalist...

That's right. It's time to talk politics on the Arts blog. After all, I think it was the great prophet Don McLeese who said, "All art is inherently political." My hero Jeff Tweedy said it too.

I'm watching the Presidential Debate live, and while I wanted to live blog it, I slowly glanced into the future and saw myself being fired for saying disparaging things about a war hero and the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. So here's a less controversial area where Capitol Hill crosses with the Hollywood Hills:

If you are tired of celebrities being political, STOP MAKING THEM CELEBRITIES.

Yes, you, I'm talking/blogging to YOU. (It's exhilarating not to be bound to the pronoun rules of journalism on the blog!) Sen. McCain took the most obvious swing during this campaign by running an ad that suggested his opponent, Sen. Obama, was a celebrity in the vein of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. Celebrity, HOW AWFUL! 

Never mind that Merriam-Webster defines a "celebrity" as "the state of being celebrated." How do celebrities become celebrated? Because we do it! We go see their movies, we watch their TV shows, we download their music. We're part of the problem!

I don't take my political cues -- and yes, I have the occasional political thought, though I often let it pass -- from Eddie Vedder or Kid Rock. I enjoy knowing where stars fall on the political spectrum, but I don't let it dictate the films I see or the music I listen to.

This blog was spurred by a comment on liberal-love-fest "Real Time with Bill Maher," where former Comptroller General made a disparaging comment about Hollywood elites. Why don't consumers recognize their own power? If you're tired of seeing Blake Lively and Hayden Panettiere in ads about who to vote for, I suggest you return those "Gossip Girl" DVDs and stop Tivo-ing "Heroes." 

I'm not going to out anyone here, since I'm no Perez Hilton, but I've heard many people say they can't enjoy films, songs, or TV series because of an actor's or actress' political affiliation. I'm sure I've said it too. And I was wrong, and SO ARE YOU. 

Ellen DeGeneres just made a PSA about Proposition 8, and you can view it here.
It makes sense she'd take this issue seriously and try to fight it, it directly deals with her, she's a lesbian who just got married. If you watch her show, or read tabloids (Lord knows I do), odds are you already know that, and from that you could deduce where she falls on that issue, Sherlock. That doesn't mean she's any less entertaining or talented, and can it REALLY make her show harder to watch? Keep in mind, by politics I mean POLITICAL positions and supporting candidates, and I don't think the movie "Wedding Crashers" is any funnier or less funny because Vince Vaughn votes Republican. 

And as for the argument that Hollywood is out of touch with "real Americans," you're wrong. Anyone making this argument has less legs to stand on than a flounder, because who is watching TV? Neilsen ratings aren't all generated in the 90210 zip code. It's those supposed "real Americans," the Joe Six-Packs of the world. Same for movies and music. Don't tell me Country is one of the most-successful and profitable music genres because of coastal elites, and I'll vomit if anyone tries to argue that "Iron Man" and "The Dark Knight" grossed such huge numbers because of art-house audiences. And people should be evolved enough to separate policies and endorsements from artists, or QUIT COMPLAINING. If you're mad that Hollywood is out of touch, make your own movies, music, and TV shows. Write your own books. And create your own small-town tabloids (I'd LOVE to see that). 

Without giving away where I stand, I enjoy Clint Eastwood's movies and Kathy Griffin's stand-up. They're as far opposite on the political spectrum as possible, but that's not what you're signing up for when you sit down at one of their projects. I'm not asking anyone to change what they believe in, but I'm begging all of you "I can only enjoy art when I agree with artist" audience members, to suspend naivete for a minute and open your eyes. 

"Jeremy" is a great song despite and not because of Eddie Vedder's politics. Talent is talent, and campaign donations are not part of the equation. If you can't see that, sell all of your CDs and DVDs by artists who aren't your ideological twins, or quit whining.

--Meryn, who normally isn't so confrontational, she promises...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Guide to Facebook Etiquette. Happy tagging, beeches!!! Not.

Welcome to the everything-you-need-to-know-about-managing-your-online-life-also-known-as-Facebook!-blog!
If you're like me — and we're likely sharing the same canoe here — you're a poor unfortunate soul trying to make it in college. You're at a point where you're utterly clueless about your future, and you have to constantly remind yourself that Life's no tv show.

You're hunting down and shooting for internships (and missing terribly), you're trying to catch up on sleep and assigned readings (and missing terribly), and your mind is swamped with the imminent 10-page essay (that you're not missing terribly, but desperately trying to avoid). Not to mention you have 'sues with your significant other, student loans stacking up, IOUs barking up your ass, roommates over complicating your home life, making it to your part-timer on timer, remembering to eat your veggies, and you still haven't had a free weekend to have a nice, relaxing carouser with some pals at State.

And on top of it all, my friends, I am about to present you with the thesis of my piece: You, unknowingly or not, lead another life. It's a virtual life. You think about it, you "creep" on it, you've probably got it on the next tab over right now. That life is your Facebook life, and it's subconsciously driving you crazy! Which is why I'm here to clear up the bull shazzle.

I mean, what the hell is a "poke"? And why is it that when you receive a bumper sticker request from an ex-friend you should interpret it as a white flag, but I know what you're really thinking: What nerve! I told her via Facebook message that I never want to speak to her — err in person or online — again!!!!

So now I finally present, after my insanely long rant, a few tips to follow when you just don't know what to make of those silly Facebook-isms.

1. Ex-gfs and bfs tagging you in old pictures is analogous to getting pooped on by a pigeon. Why don't those taggers just take back every ticket stub and homemade hemp bracelet they gave you in the relationship? And have lunch with your mother while they're at it?

My brother was recently dumped by his first girlfriend of like 3 weeks. Two weeks after the breakup she tags him in a few supercute "couple" pics pre-dumping. He was so confused that he actually called me for advice. But I just told him what I would tell any agonizing human being:
IGNORE THAT SHIZ. What do they expect, a thank you comment? Move on, my friend. And dangle to new hottie in their faces because tagging pictures of the past like everything is "cool" now is sel-fish.

2. Don't blow up someone's Facebook wall if you want any positive person-to-person socialization with that someone. Unless you're my insano bueno "friend" who prefers creepers not to make their flirtations "Facebook public" and instead gets their numbers to continue the discourse via text............. Insecurity issues maybe.....?????

3. Avoid using the word "creep" and all of its derivatives in communication. It is a terrible Facebook cliché. Along with "Facebook official" and "obvi." I declare it kosher for me to use the word in this Guide to mock the ridiculousness of it all.

4. Adding new friends immediately after meeting them once (or not meeting them at all?) in person is strange. I don't care who this character is. Oftentimes its a forewarning to your addees that yo' nurtz!

And yes. I've been guilty of what I like to call "pre-friending." In my naivety I didn't think anything of it. In retrospect, I realized why my pre-friends always ignored me (or did they think I was ignoring them?) around town. It will always be awkward. There will always be a weirdness factor that your addees will take into consideration.

Recently, I've been chummy with my boyfriend's neighbor's girl (do you see where I'm going with this?? See how crazy it is?!?!). We were about to go on a double date to see a movie and before the four of us got together I thought to myself, I could probably befriend Katie* after we go to a movie together! I suddenly realized I was pondering a pre-friend and immediately stopped my thoughts to vomit in the nearby bushes.

I do not waste much time anymore, I'm sort of a Facebook slug. I let the friends come to me. And if they don't? Meh, it doesn't bother me. If you don't worry about it, it won't become a problem! Just let the tangible friendship happen before you worry about gauging it via Facebook wall-to-wall length/amount of inside jokes you can write on someone's wall/amount of bumper stickers requested/pictures shared, you get the idea..

5. Don't bring up Facebook in everyday dialogue. It puts emphasis on everything that is pointless in your already monotonous life since you are living vicariously through your "friends" pictures!

Don't know how to avoid it? Here's a tip: Do something so physically challenging (like skydiving!) or outrageous (like streaking in Sally Mason's front lawn with friends!) and DO NOT — I REPEAT: DO NOT — bring your cell phones or digital cameras (Who's surprised Mark Zuckerberg hasn't customized a marketable, Facebook-qual camera yet??) for your pointless documentation purposes. Instead keep it between the 4 or 16 of you and laugh about it through memory, not through fakey fotos of awkward smiles and distorted body positions ("OhmyGod Amanda take a picture of us holding this banana!!! OhmyGod soooo0o000o0o hilarious.") See? I didn't even add the !-point after hilarious because people say things are funny nowadays without exclamation. Proving how funny it really is. It's so hilarious. Isn't it?

6. Facebook pictures are now and forever idiotic. I'm paraphrasing someone who has mentioned this before... I just can't help reiterating: those of you who bring your cameras everywhere and take pictures to document your nights out and other escapades don't even enjoy the event until the next day when you're uploading the pictures onto your computers. IF YOU KNOW WHO SAID THIS LET ME KNOW BECAUSE HE DESERVES AN AWARD. Having 1000+ pictures tagged to you does not make you cooler. Especially when half of them you tagged to yourself.

7. the "News/Mini-Feed" excuse is a load of bull. People who ask you, "I saw on my mini-feed that your friend was in the hospital... What the heck happened? Give me the juice!"

This, readers, should never outsmart you. Your friend doesn't show up on the person's wire, the person was totally creeping on your friend! No doubt. The feed is just an excuse to get the answers. I mean, people can moderate their preferences now, they can block and allow all sorts of things. Happenstance is no longer justifiable on Facebook, people. Get with the pro! The Facebook creators have dotted all their i's for real this time.

8. If you're nodding to any of this, then delete your Facebook. I still have mine. And that is lame, i know. but there is some good in that mostly impracticable online network. I'm thisclose to doing it, because I don't even use it for its lamest purposes (as listed above). I really use it to spy on my boyfriend's inbox, which is a whole 'notha bag of beans!

My Guide has been short, but I hope it has been helpful. Life is crazy, don't make it crazier with what truly is Virtual Reality. That ending was shitty because I am tired.



Last month, it was gangster music. In August, I was all about chocolate milk. During July, it was Carrie Bradshaw.

Latest obsession? PUBLIC INFORMATION. nerrrrrd alert.

But seriously. For those of us in the journalism world, this apparently has always been the cool thing to do — uncover information about your friends' criminal records, salaries, addresses, high school sports record: you name it, it came probably be found using the internet.

I don't appreciate the term "stalking", but this essentially is stalking in a very legal and normal form. I'm just using my resources. It's not my fault that so-and-so's ex girlfriend has been arrested three times and she doesn't know how to expunge things from her record. I don't feel bad that a certain person I can't stand has a really pathetic, self-indulging blog about his "feelings." If someone is employed by the government, their salary, to the penny, is not a secret. Real estate records, driving records, you name it, it is possible to find it in information land. aka bliss. insurance.

I simply think that people should be aware of how much information about them is being stored eternally in cyber land. ok enough lame shiz LETS TALK ABOUT THE IMPORTANT STUFF!

The best thing I have found though, is this! Student Health Annual Report
A play by play of every communicable disease and non-disease treated by UI Student Health Services during the 06-07 school year. Are you aware that there are 1,781 students walking around this campus with "neurotic disorders"? What does that even mean? Is that even safe? Or how about the 26 people at the UI diagnosed with having a "foreign body" inside their own? Frightening.

Allow me to enlighten you about your fellow classmates, or, "the highlights":
• 20 people were treated for scabies
• 117 had ingrown toenails

• 133 co-eds now have chlamydia
• good news is nobody had syphilis
• 697 warts!! holy smokes!
• 8 of you yay-whos had pleurisy. you have my sympathy, that really sucks.
• 129 added "pneumonia victim" to their resumes (I fall in that category. twice.)
• 532 people made out with the wrong person and wound up with mono. wah-wah

• 694 people have PINK EYE!!! that's so contagious! I have had it 3 times throughout my wee 22 years on earth. for the record this is not a photo of my eye

• 65 mo-fos are oversweating from hyperhidrosis
• here's the one that really gets my goat: 28 people have tuberculosis. excuse me? is that accurate? I didn't even know that was still rampant.

One more thing, V-neck T-shirts.

Obsessing even more than I am over public record access. I am on a rampage to find every single cheap, illusive v-neck t-shirt in this kooky city. Please send any suggestions my way. I'll look for about another month before I break down and resort to American Apparel.

Hypochondriacs: let your neuroses commence. enjoy that webpage. it's a goldmine. and it's all legal! you aren't that creepy.

— Ann, who has a very weak immune system, and will not emerge from the apartment with taking proper precautions to protect myself from everyone else's problems.

It's Britney, and she's a bitch.

Ohmigod. Britney Spears is back.

At first, I wasn't convinced that the queen of teen pop was really making a full fledged return - that is, until I stumbled upon her newest vid and realized she's really just a fake feminist wannabe. Isn't that the only qualification to be "in" these days? It works for Palin. God I'm harsh.

But really, I can break this down for you. (Ghetto talk — shout out to Ann...and also to all the 3rd graders at Wasilla Elementary, wassup?)

For starters, the video and it's track — from her "best work ever" Circus album coming next month — share the same title: "Womanizer." Who can blame her? The poor girl is arguably womanized more than any other pop culture figure from her day. But now she's got the baby, her baby's daddy, her own crazy suing daddy, and a slutty little sis (with another baby, and a baby daddy, and aforementioned crazy suing daddy) to worry about out. So it seems that taking the time to think out what message she's conveying with the video is out of the question.

Ultra-feminists, stop reading now.

The video (below) opens with a fully nude Spears in a steamy sauna, gently caressing her sweaty/oily skin. (SPOILER: From this point on, the title "Womanizer" becomes a tongue-in-cheek joke.) We cut straight from the sauna birthday suit to a bath-robed Brit serving a man (clad in only his boxer briefs, just like a normal man, right?) breakfast. Ah, this must be the womanizer!

For the rest of the video, Britney's slew of costume changes — an office secretary with a Katie Holmes bob, a redheaded leather-sporting waitress, and a suit-and-tie chauffeur — serve as vehicles for the former Disney star to taunt, tease, and virtually tantalize the "womanizer."

But don't worry — it's not that bad. See, when he tries to grab her badonkadonk, she pushes his hands away. And then shakes her ass in his face and whispers in his ear while he sits on an office chair. In the waitress bit, she corners him in the kitchen, straddling him on top of a now unsanitary prep table, seductively eating a cherry and tongue-tying the stem. And, of course, when he's caught taking a picture on his camera phone of Britney voluntarily Xeroxing her derriere, she pushes him against the wall with her black heel, then pulls him by his tie, pinning him on the copier.

The lyrics are a blog post in themselves. For 75 percent of the video, Britney chants "Womanizer, womanizer, you're a womanizer" while dancing on, over, and around said womanizer. Creativity was never her forte.

After watching the video six times, I'm still baffled. While Britney is trying (really, she's trying) to empower herself and not take any shit from this "womanizer" of a man, she becomes a female rouĂ© herself. That womanizer is learning his lesson, and Britney's assuring ladies everywhere that it's not okay for your man to womanize you — but you can be as leud of a man-izer as you want to be.

The whole fully nude, sexy secretary, and, oh, shower scenes, don't really help your case either, Brit. Thank goodness you've put your man in his place for womanizing you! ...and then acting like a full-on seductive skank. You've certainly deterred any teenage boy looking for an alternative to porn from using your video for arousal. Was that too far?

On that note though, I've got to admit that — while it's skanky and degrading — Britney looks great. Like most guys who grew up with the then-wholesome Britney, she's still got that allure that forced me to buy J-14 just for her picture. She lost 10 pounds for the video by teetotaling (that means no alcohol, a wildly unsuccessful diet plan for the UI sorority system) and even does this incredibly adorable grin in a few of the sauna scenes that would be the cutest fucking thing ever if she wasn't suggestively massaging her chest and thighs.

In the end, Britney just wants us to know she doesn't like being womanized. Okay, the "forgot to wear panites to the bar" excuse? Maybe. But this time, it seems as though she's asking for it.

Check out the video for yourself:

— Brian Stewart

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Jim James, get well soon. The world needs you

When I said “EPIC FAIL” in my previous post, I should probably rephrase that. It was an epic bummer, not a fail. I just wanted to be funny with an Internet meme. “Fail” would detract from the hard work of SCOPE to bring such an incredible band to Iowa City and pull off having the show at the Rec Center. “Fail” would also slightly mock Jim James, who as usual, put everything into the show, and well, accidents happen.

I’m sure word of mouth has spread throughout the campus but if for some bizarre reason you check the Daily Iowan Arts Blog (I CAN HAS CHRISTMAS???? Anyone?) for your hard hitting news coverage, here’s what happened at the MMJ show last night. My Morning Jacket was about 35 minutes into a performance that was heating the fuck up. The Rec building had this gentle haze floating around that made it reminiscent of a county fair – the sound was great too, at least from where I was.

Right as they finished “Off the Record” the lights cut out (as part of the light show) and I could see something fall and the always ominous sound of an instrument cable being awkwardly disconnected from its guitar. A commotion occurred and I saw Jim James limp off the stage very quickly under the assistance of some guitar techs. The band looked bewildered, and then visibly upset when they realized something was wrong. Everyone left the stage and the houselights went back up. Drummer Patrick Hallahan then came out and explained how Jim fell and they’re going to try their best to play – only to have the entire band surface ten minutes later to deliver the news that he had been taken to the hospital and the proverbial fat lady had sang.

Here it is. Note Carl Broemel's motion to some slizut informing her that he's married.

I have never felt more “crestfallen” in my life. Deflated. Disheartened. Dispirited. If you saw me you’d think I was that shithead kid from A Christmas Story or Charlie Brown or something. This is my senior year man. I’ve had to put up with OAR and Switchfoot coming. I deserve to hear “Anytime” and sing “all that I wanted to say/ words only got in the way” off key but it wouldn’t matter because everyone would be singing too and drowning me out.

So I heard that Jim James hit his head, not hurt his leg like everybody assumed – and was released from the hospital this morning. Jim’s solo show at Shubas’ in Chicago tonight was cancelled (it was an Obama benefit) and then the next two sold out MMJ shows at the Chicago Theatre in Chicago on Friday and Saturday. The band explained how they will “try to make it up to us” which I could actually see them at least trying to do. Do you think a Followill gives a fuck if they make up a show of Caleb falls off the stage? Probably not.

If you are still sad about the show you might not want to look. Here’s the (unfinished) set list of last night’s show that was snagged by John of Mission Creek fame. ( Speaking of which, thanks to everyone who came to the kickoff Tuesday Night Social Club at The MILL. It was probably my fave Birth Rites show of all time. And whoever didn’t come - we had a lot of fun without you. Free is kind of expensive right? But without further ado – Set list:

Bermuda Highway
At Dawn
It Beats 4 U
Evil Urges
Touch Me I’m Going to Scream pt. I
Off the Record…

what will never was heard...

Wonderful Man
I’m Amazed
I Will Sing
Sec Walkin’
Two Halves
Lay Low
Smokin’ From Shootin’
Touch Me I’m Going to Scream pt. II

Wordless Chorus
Highly Suspicious
Run Thru
One Big Holiday

Cheer up though - he'll be back (probably never to iowa again though. I live close to chicago. suckas!)

It's Okay to Call Me a Loser. Really, it is.

Any musical theater nerds out there?

No one else will admit it?

Well, okay. But at least give a geek a chance to vent.

"The Top 3 New Musical Theater Productions That Should Be Stopped Immediately" (listed in order of atrocity)

3. “13”
The brilliant composer Jason Robert Brown has finally screwed up. After turning everything from botched marriages (The Last Five Years) to the “Stars and Moon” (Songs for a New World) into gold, Brown made an unfortunate attempt to make the angst of the teen years musically palatable. The plot of “13” revolves around a group of -- you guessed it --13-year-olds trying to discover themselves or some shit. Okay, so the plot isn’t all that off the deep end, but get this: all of the actors, singers, and dancers are actual teenagers.

Admittedly, this is kind of a cool concept, but the problem comes in that they will most likely act, sound, and dance like real teenagers (i.e. unbelievably, unpolished, and awkwardly). I haven’t seen the show, but I’ve heard it (JRB streams it free from his website), and here’s what I know- the mediocre songwriting and dreadful belting, coupled with the show’s overall shtick, wore thin about 30 seconds into the first sample track. What a waste of JRB’s tremendous talent.

2. “Shrek the Musical”
Pop quiz: who’s big and green and worn out his welcome?

DreamWorks darling Shrek will finally be reincarnated as a real boy, making his Broadway debut on November 8th. The creative team behind this gem has been working for over four years on how to keep milking, er, keep bringing smiles to kids with their family fun franchise. But let’s talk music for a minute- what are they going to do, play “I’m a Believer” for two hours? This one has “the feel-good musical of the year” written all over it, which basically means that the score with be predictable and suckie. And honestly, do we really have to keep turning movies into stage shows? As they point out in off-Broadway’s own “[title of show]”, movies do make musicals, but not necessarily good ones.

1. “The Fly” (Opera)
So remember that traumatic experience you had in childhood where you stayed up late on a school night when you weren’t supposed to and found yourself watching this movie on Sci-Fi that had something to do with a scientist and a fly but all that really mattered was the fact that Jeff Goldblum’s face melted off into a bloody heap and you had nightmares for years afterward?

Just me again? Okay. But I digress.

There is no way that either the original 1958 version or the terrifying 1986 version of “The Fly” would make appropriate thematic material for a stage show….especially if that stage show involved music…and especially if that music was operatic. Can you really envision an aria about the logistics of building a teleportation device? Is there going to be some sort of grand appoggiatura on the famous “Help Me!” line?

But for everyone who isn’t aware of geeky music major terminology, here’s a direct quote from the production’s website that fully encapsulates everything wrong with this picture: “The Fly is an engrossing exploration of the physical and psychological transformation in which a brilliant scientist begins to mutate into a hybrid of man and fly after one of his experiments goes horribly wrong.”

Sound (or look) like an opera to you? Yeah, me neither.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Here She Goes Again! if we couldn't get enough of Paris Hilton.

From hit reality show "The Simple Life" to a video which will forever live in celebutante infamy, Paris Hilton has had her share of professional and personal ups and downs. There have been a few occasions over the last few years where I've racked my brain trying to figure out just why Ms. Hilton is as well-known as she has become. To this day...I've got nothin'. It's the "Big Bang Theory" of Tinseltown.

No matter how she did it, there's no doubt she has the attention of a generous portion of the American public. Their fascination is inexplicable. Perhaps they wonder, "What exactly is it like to be Paris?" MTV is giving 18 men and women the chance to find out in the new reality series "Paris Hilton's My New BFF".

Much to my boyfriend's chagrin, I felt more than compelled to at least have one look-see at the show. To be honest, I wasn't at all shocked with what I saw--aside from the fact that Paris communicates with her BFF hopefuls via Blackberrys she so lovingly bestowed upon each of them. Yeah, I'm sliiightly jealous (which is sliiightly embarrassing to admit).

I suppose my first impression of "Paris Hilton's My New BFF" is that of a platonic version of "Rock of Love", "Flavor of Love", "I Love New York", etc. with benefits: free clothes, priceless jewelry, and the momentary trust and kindness of Paris herself...if you're worthy.

"Would you die for Paris?"

-Rebecca Koons

I Don't Wanna Be...

So I'm going to confess. Since I'm not Catholic and I don't really do the whole "honesty" thing in person, I've come to the DI Arts Blog to unburden my conscience. Here goes:

I watch "One Tree Hill." Obsessively.

I know, Meryn, the nut who hates all things preachy and masturbatory on television. How can I enjoy this vapid, one-note, overly dramatic soap opera with some of the worst plots and unbelievable characters EVER?

It all started when I moved into my house last August. I found that my new home's cable roster included SoapNet. Now I could spend four hours a day watching reruns of "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "The O.C." I was in estrogen heaven.

In order to get to my Californian-sudsy dish, I had to muddle through two hours of North-Carolinian muck known as "One Tree Hill." I already had a bias against the show because of my friends who watched it, and the fact that Fall Out Boy appeared on it not once but TWICE. Plus, every episode is named after a song and the songs usually suck, much like the music featured in the show. Plus, it was a teen drama named after a U2 song. SO WRONG. But I watched it anyway, you know, "because it was on." And I couldn't stop.

I think it's the relationships. I hate everything about the show, especially this season, with the manufactured drama of a random death and the saccharine-sweet sorrow that follows. But for all of the contrived conflict and throwaway dialogue, much of which sounds like it came from an emo eighth-grader's AIM profile, there's something kind of comforting and entertaining, and it involves Sophia Bush, Chad Michael Murray, and Hilarie Burton.

These three are Brooke, Lucas, and Peyton, and their dramatic love triangle/best friend struggle makes the show worth coming back to and impossible to stop watching. It isn't that I identify with these privileged rich brats and their faux-heartbreak, but Peyton and Lucas are like a bleach blond Ryan Atwood and Marissa Cooper, only far less tragic and with a worse soundtrack and less violence. It is SO pathetic to watch two girls rip their friendship apart over a guy, as Brooke and Peyton have, but they actually change and feel and so it seems more realistic than most teen dramas we've seen. Plus, Peyton seems like someone who actually feels! She's like a young Cristina Yang, holding in her emotions and hiding, though instead of using a scalpel as catharsis she picks up some paintbrushes or chalk.

For all of the outlandish stunts on "One Tree Hill," and most of them are pretty bad (guys performing at a strip club to make money, Lucas' father murdering Lucas' uncle, and a crazy nanny who kidnaps Lucas' nephew), the heart of the show is true: some people will do some crazy shit for love. Peyton is constantly doing dramatic art projects, whether it's painting a mural on the River Court where Lucas plays basketball or making a plea via her webcam, homegirl will do anything for Lucas except the very thing he wants her to do. She won't give herself fully to Lucas because she has been let down too many times. And you'd have to be stone, or stoned, to not appreciate that level of realism.

Brooke is your prototypical bad girl with a heart, with an acid tongue and less witty quips than her "The O.C." counterpart, Summer Roberts. Brooke's a slut but she just wants to be loved, and she's so sure Lucas is the one. She's a great friend and the worst of all enemies, but she's hurt. Thus her relationship with Peyton, her best friend, is volatile. But at least these two girls are more like the teenage girls I knew than anyone on "Laguna Beach," or even my beloved "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "The O.C." They aren't admirable, they aren't that smart, but they feel, and they can at least admit their own shallow selfishness.

Lucas is pretty boring, and thinks he's deep, takes himself too seriously, and is really not that hot. But he loves Peyton, and it's hard not to love that. Even when he's with Brooke, his heart belongs to Peyton. Half the fun of watching "One Tree Hill" is waiting for Lucas and Peyton to get back together. It's like a Southern, less-diverse, dumber "Grey's Anatomy."

"One Tree Hill" provides some realistic and at times cathartic high school nostalgia. So if you ever catch me watching it, now you know why. But ask me to admit it in person, and you're likely to receive an eye roll. I get that the show isn't "Hill Street Blues," but it's not "The Simple Life" either. And were it not for Brooke, Peyton, and Lucas, whose only real purpose is to further the Brooke-Peyton storyline, "One Tree Hill" would be one tree too many.

-Meryn, who is, in case you couldn't tell, a Peyton all the way.

Monday, October 6, 2008

5 albums you haven't heard this year (and need to...immediately)

Just stopping by to drop some musical knowledge on you. These albums have all been nominated (by me) to the "album of the year" category for the imaginary music awards show that takes place in my head every December 31st. Celebrity appearances abound. Dress appropriately.

Questions of my sanity and/or social life aside, let's start things off with "Who Killed Amanda Palmer?" by Amanda Palmer (naturally), of Dresden Dolls fame. Palmer's vocals on this album are incredible, and the addition of orchestral instrumentation by producer Ben Folds adds a great touch. You can kind of tell Palmer's a self-taught piano player, but in a good way - she's raw without being sloppy. Check out "Astronaut" below.

Up next is The Flashbulb's "Soundtrack to a Vacant Life." The Flashbulb is the brainchild of the prolific Benn Jordan, who likely put out three albums before you ate breakfast this morning. This album is a welcome departure from his previous style of electronica - he grooves so hard on some of these cuts that you're going to get sore ankles tapping your feet so much. Check out the Eden-like "FORBIDDEN TRACKS" below.

If you want to hear a fusing of hip-hop and classical done right, look no further than Black Violin's new self-titled album. It's done right because neither genre outshines the other - they tastefully share the spotlight. And I promise there's no way you'll catch all the sampling and quoting they do from both genres the first time around. The rapping on a couple of the tracks is pretty embarassing, but easily forgiven - they were violin players first, after all. Here's "Brandenburg."

For you metalheads out there (don't be ashamed, we all love leather pants), check out Cynic's new album "Traced In Air." It's not technically out yet, but I know that won't stop you Internet Jack Sparrows. Here's their story: this band releases a fantastic album in 1993 ("Focus"), breaks up for 15 years, then reunites and comes out with another essential album like a day hasn't gone by. Unbelievable. These guys can flat out play their instruments, too. Proof: "Evolutionary Sleeper."

Finally we have "It's Not Me, It's You" by post-rockers pg.lost. If you're a post-rock fan, you pretty much know what to expect with this one, but damn it if this isn't some beautiful music. They do enough differently to keep things interesting, and some of the melodies are so haunting they'll be bouncing around your head for days (unless you happen to hear some Miley Cyrus or something, then God help you). Here's "Yes I Am."

Hopefully you found something here worth looking into. If not, my only advice is to be careful on the stairs, oldie, because you're a broken hip away from assisted living. Seriously, new music rules.

Did you find this helpful? Was this a colossal waste of an hour? Ever want to see something like this again? Wish I had written the entire thing in the form of questions? Let me know in the commments.

-Brian D.


This is not okay, America:

You can do better.


Friday, October 3, 2008

Runaway Runway.

I wrote an article in July about how this season of "Project Runway" would be the last good one, before it makes that dreaded trek to Lifetime for season six.

While we can't really know if that's a true statement until those crazies over at the erstwhile Television for Women do whatever it is they're going to do to the show, I can say this - season five has had its moments, but hasn't been that fabulous.

Let's get the obvious out of the way - this season suffers from an unfortunate lack of Christian Siriano. But every season can't have him, of course, and so we were left with wannabe Blayne, who was nowhere near as funny, catty, or talented (wtf do you call THIS monstrosity?). Oh, and then there's Kenley, who, apart from her incessant creation of 50's inspired garb - which was kind of cool at first, but got questionable towards the end - is the most annoying contestant to hit the catwalk in recent memory. And I'm sure Heidi Klum agrees with me on this. I won't argue with you, Heidi. Promise.

Tim Gunn approves:

But alas, the season is nearing its end, and what an end it will be. The season five finale is looking to be a hybrid of its two predecessors - all four remaining designers, with their super-distinct styles (just like season three) will make collections for fashion week, but only three will compete (a la season four).

So to answer the query I pondered back in July, this was certainly not the best season, but I doubt Lifetime will be able to top it. The challenges have been pretty cool, the designs have been decent, and the designers have provided their fair share of drama. Bravo has more creativity (and fashion-supporting gayness) in its pinky than Lifetime does in its entire fall lineup. It would have been nice for P. Run to have gone out with a greater bang, but at least it's leaving its nest with some dignity. (Not this, but this).

p.s. I'm rooting for Leanne. Actually, anyone but Kenley. To quote what fellow reporter Anna Wiegenstein wrote on my Facebook wall: "Kenley needs to get that damn flower bitchslapped out of her hair--only then will I be satisfied."