Wednesday

Also This


Is it clear that I'm excited? Though the fact that their forthcoming album is called 10 Years--shockingly, the amount of time elapsed since their last one--kind of makes me feel old. Tempus fugit!

Anyway, Aly and AJ were excellent. As a refresher:

Exhibit A: "Potential Breakup Song" (in its original form)

Exhibit B: "Bullseye"

Exhibit C: "Blush" (their best ballad, which still sounds flawless)

They were well and truly at the vanguard of 2000s teenpop. Around that period, I spent a lot of time and words championing them, Amy Diamond, early Miley Cyrus (!), early Taylor Swift (!!), and Girls Aloud (not teenpop strictly speaking, but its regal godmothers). A decade on, most of it has held up pretty well!

Tuesday

2000s Teenpop Lives (kind of)!


Aly & AJ are back! With a terrific new single! And with a video by Alex Ross Perry, no less. (Also, Teresa just noticed that all-grown-up Aly plays Liv's roommate on iZombie, which blew my mind more than it probably should have.) Now, I'm actively pulling for an Amy Diamond comeback!

Sunday

Ready to Wear

I like this second Reputation single much more than the first one, and better still when I pretend that it's not a Taylor Swift song at all--but, say, a new Selena Gomez album track, or by some up-and-coming pop ingenue with whom I'm as yet unfamiliar. My lack of interest in Swift-as-Celebrity-Person is equalled by my continuing affection for her first three records, and, to a lesser extent, her full-pop-turn stuff, sans "-country" qualifier. But this is fun and hooky, and where the debut single felt anonymous while purporting to be "personal," this quick-on-its-heels follow-up is unambiguously anonymous, which at least accommodates more flexibility in how we can listen to it. Which is to say, I won't mind hearing it play in clothing stores, etc. from now till the new year.

[Edit, later, same day: Actually, I really just like this, maybe a lot, and especially the slightly drawn-out, just slightly stressed vowel sounds: "see," "do" "dreams."]

Thursday

KD is a Moz Fan

Who knew?! But Jon Hamm (supposedly) isn't.

Saturday

This piece by Nate Silver perfectly captures the current state of the NBA, and the narrow path to win within it.

Monday

Holy Shit!

After, perhaps, the most quintessentially "Twin Peaks'y" episode of the reboot thus far (i.e., the episode most reminiscent of the original series and its "quirky" charms), the new one might be the most radical hour of American TV ever, and, really, as radical as anything Lynch has done in any medium. It's also, I think, the most legibly "religious"--Christian and otherwise--thing Lynch has made to date. Granted, I have an inclination to read things in a theological/allegorical light, but: the Lazarus-like resurrection of Bad Cooper; the nuclear testing ushering in a new, sinister Age of Man, making new forms of evil possible (like a Tree of Life building to the miraculous birth of Bob!) and/or opening up our world to primordial evils lying in wait, in some other dimension, of which the Black Lodge is a part; Laura Palmer emerging from the (God)head of the Giant and then sent forth into the world; the tramp's message over the radio, which sounded like some cryptic utterance of Jesus, marked out in red lettering; the young woman ostensibly "impregnated" not by her suitor but by some abomination spawned from the nuclear test; the very idea of the atomic/nuclear technology itself being dangerously, even apocalyptically transgressive, in the sense of humans using a kind of modern alchemy to effect destruction and death on a wholly unprecedented scale, in contrast to the previous ages of the world, wherein it was assumed that only G/god(s) could end worlds.

Also: Nine Inch Nails, the Middle School Me's favorite band!

Friday

HAPPY BLOOMSDAY!

Wednesday



1. Katy Perry is really funny and appealing in this. I love how she acts out her lyrics!
2. This is a reminder that she has so many good songs (and some of her very best songs didn't even make it into this).
3. Taylor Swift has made better front-to-back albums (especially her first three), but single for single--the relative strength of their best-possible greatest hits compilations--they're pretty evenly matched, which makes their feud much more interesting.
4. I wasn't sure how I felt about the two new tracks when she performed them on SNL last weekend, but they're both growing on me fast.

Tuesday

(Un)happy Birthday

In honor of Moz turning 58 (yesterday), here are my 58 favorite Morrissey or Smiths songs.

01. “Now My Heart Is Full”
02. “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want”
03. “What She Said”
04. “Suedehead”
05. “The Queen Is Dead”
06. “Speedway”
07. “Half a Person”
08. “Nowhere Fast”
09. “Pretty Girls Make Graves”
10. “You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet, Baby”
11. “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before”
12. “Bigmouth Strikes Again”
13. “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out”
14. “Cemetry Gates”
15. “You’re Gonna Need Someone on Your Side”
16. “Still Ill”
17. “I Know It’s Over”
18. “Hand in Glove”
19. “A Rush and a Push and the Land Is Ours”
20. “Hold on to Your Friends”
21. “Every Day Is Like Sunday”
22. “Meat Is Murder”
23. “Girl Afraid”
24. “Panic”
25. “First of the Gang to Die”
26. “The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get”
27. “This Charming Man”
28. “William, It Was Really Nothing”
30. “I Want the One I Can’t Have”
31. “Ask”
32. “How Soon Is Now?”
33. “I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish”
33. “I Just Want to See the Boy Happy”
34. “You Have Killed Me”
35. “Is It Really So Strange?”
36. “What Difference Does It Make?”
37. “These Things Take Time”
38. “Reel Around the Fountain”
39. “That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore"
40. “Never Had No One Ever”
41. “Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others”
42. “The Boy with the Thorn in His Side”
43. “Ganglord”
44. “The Youngest Was the Most Loved”
45. “Alma Matters”
46. “Handsome Devil”
47. “Girlfriend in a Coma”
48. “Vicar in a Tutu”
49. “Unhappy Birthday”
50. “This Night Has Opened My Eyes”
51. “Irish Blood, English Heart”
52. “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now”
53. “Spring-Heeled Jim”
54. “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle”
55. “I Will See You in Far off Places”
56. “Shoplifters of the World Unite”
57. “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me”
58. “Istanbul”

Monday

Four More

The hits just keep coming.

01. Twin Peaks: The Return Holy shit.
02. Master of None, season 2 Stellar when topical, amiable enough when it settles on romantic comedy.
03. King Charles III (BBC Two) Terrific as these things go, and great fun, with a superb lead performance.
04. Vancouver: No Fixed Address Better as a discussion-starter than as a diagnosis, conflating, as it does, phenomena that are (arguably) not directly related; vital in Vancouver, still significant beyond our fair city.

Saturday

Twenty Seventeen

Things I like so far this year, roughly in order of enthusiasm:

01. Ernst Kantorowicz: A Life
02. The Lost City of Z
03. Get Out
04. the NBA playoffs
05. Riverdale and Jughead, Vol. 2
06. More Life
07. Re-listening to old Cat Power records
08. Sleater-Kinney, Live in Paris
09. The Handmaid's Tale TV show
10. Free Fire
11. Song to Song

Friday

WHERE DO THE ROCK-ETS FIND PLA-NETS?
The relatively rough quality of this 22-year-old (!) video of Falconetti-in-flannel-era Chan Marshall doing "Rockets" only makes it more endearing. I thought of this when we saw Mitski play a couple months ago (great show, but too short). 90s Cat Power seems to the prototype for her aesthetic.

Thursday

Yes, there are two paths you can go by


For reasons that are not clear to me, my YouTube main page 'recommended' this video of Dolly Parton covering "Stairway to Heaven." I'm glad that it did. To be sure, I did not expect when I woke up this morning to spend my afternoon listening on repeat to Dolly Parton singing "Stairway to Heaven." I didn't know that she had covered "Stairway to Heaven," and I don't even especially like Led Zeppelin, but I like this very much, and sometimes the Internet is remarkable.

Tuesday

A Twitter troll may now be the Most Powerful Person in the World, but at least the Holy See sees through the soul-crushing bullshit.

Thursday

Things I'm interested in: Jordan Peele/Get Out, Russell Westbrook, Kristen Stewart. Things The Ringer has good, new articles on: Jordan Peele/Get Out, Russell Westbrook, Kristen Stewart. Bill Simmons & Co. are essentially Santa for adults who like reading about pop-culture and sports.

Sunday

Question


With all the praise and recognition bestowed on Moonlight (which, again, I think is a good movie, and I'm happy it won the Oscar), why did Céline Sciamma's Girlhood, a superior filmic Bildungsroman, pass by almost unnoticed?

Saturday

Should win/Will win
Jackie image

Always fun. (I've also updated my would-be Oscar ballot and my general 2016 lists to reflect late viewings, especially Pablo Lorraín's superlative pop-historical phantasmagoria, Jackie, about which I plan to write something soon.)

PICTURE
Should win: La La Land
Will win: La La Land
From a cultural/political standpoint, I'm pulling for Moonlight, but La La Land is the better movie.

DIRECTOR
Should win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Will win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

ACTRESS
Should win: Natalie Portman, Jackie
Will win: Emma Stone, La La Land
I prefer Portman in Jackie by a hair over Huppert in Elle, but if Huppert were nominated for Things to Come (better performance and better film than Elle) it'd go the other way around.

ACTOR
Should win: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Will win: Denzel Washington, Fences
If Andrew Garfield were up for Silence, he'd be my pick. (I didn't see Hacksaw Ridge.)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Should win: Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Will win: Viola Davis, Fences
Davis is extraordinary in Fences, to be sure, but such egregious "category fraud" is really unfair to true supporting performances, like Williams' sparingly used, affecting turn in Manchester by the Sea.

SUPPORTING ACTOR
Should win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Will win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Should win: Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Will win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Should win: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Will win: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Is there any significant difference between August Wilson's theatrical script and the screenplay for Fences? Absent close inspection, there doesn't seem to be, which is why I'll go with Moonlight instead, from among this group. But how was Whit Stillman not nominated here?! His translation of Austen's epistolary Lady Susan into the fleshed-out (and thoroughly terrific) Love and Friendship is the most impressive example of adaptation in recent memory.

CINEMATOGRAPHY
Should win: Rodrigo Prieto, Silence
Will win: Linus Sandgren, La La Land
At least Scorsese's masterpiece is up for something.

SCORE
Should win: Mica Levi, Jackie
Will win: Justin Hurwitz, La La Land
I've only included this category here so that I can "vote" for that crazy, indelible Jackie score.
Sister, Sister
beyonce_solange

Solange interviewed by Beyoncé is a must-read. Some wonderful, excerptible moments:

BEYONCÉ: Your voice on the album, the tone of your voice, the vulnerability in your voice and in your arrangements, the sweetness and the honesty and purity in your voice—what inspired you to sing in that tone?

SOLANGE: It was very intentional that I sang as a woman who was very in control, a woman who could have this conversation without yelling and screaming, because I still often feel that when black women try to have these conversations, we are not portrayed as in control, emotionally intact women, capable of having the hard conversations without losing that control.

***

SOLANGE: Well, I find a lot of similarities in Master P and our dad.

BEYONCÉ: Me, too. [laughs]

***

BEYONCÉ: What are some misconceptions about being a strong woman?

SOLANGE: Oh my God, they're endless! [laughs] One thing that I constantly have to fight against is not feeling arrogant when I say I wrote every lyric on this album. I still have not been able to say that. That's the first time I've actually ever said it, because of the challenges that we go through when we celebrate our work and our achievements. I remember Björk saying that she felt like, no matter what stage in her career, if a man is credited on something that she's done, he's going to get the credit for it. And, unfortunately, that still rings true. It's something I've learned so much about from you, getting to be in control of your own narrative. And, at this point, it should be an expectation, not something that you're asking permission for. I feel like I'm getting closer to that, not taking on all the baggage when I have to just stand up for myself and say, "No, I'm uncomfortable with that." And I really appreciate you and mom being examples of that, being able to speak about our achievements, these things that deserve to be celebrated, without feeling bashful about it.

***

BEYONCÉ: What is the funniest text you got from our mom this week? [both laugh] That's too personal, never mind. You've got to love Mama Tina. How does it feel to have the dopest wedding photo of all time?

SOLANGE: Oh my God, that is subjective!

BEYONCÉ: What makes you laugh the hardest?

SOLANGE: The Real Housewives of Atlanta, hands-down.

BEYONCÉ: Really?! I didn't know that.