Marginal Utility
Image: Marginal Utility
When shopping nirvana shrivels away like the mega mall growing incrementally smaller behind you at the end of a long day, and buyer's remorse begins gnawing at your nerves, and you begin to fret the futility of it all, Rob Horning's blog, "Marginal Utility", steps in to stimulate your woefully neglected neocortex. Read, laugh, weep, but above all: realize. You'll feel smarter again in no time.
More Recent Features
	Wovenhand: Consider the Birds

The gothic hillbilly punk of his early 16 Horsepower work has given way to the more baroque sounds of later 16 Horsepower albums, and Edwards's latest project, Wovenhand.

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	Snoop Dogg: Bigg Snoop Dogg’s Puff Puff Pass Tour [DVD]

The filmmakers start to draw out a larger message: The Drug War was a second American Civil War, led by a racist Southern family named Bush, to re-imprison blacks and other minorities.

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5 Dec 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Miss Kittin: I Com

Gone are the allusions to coke-filled after parties and velvet ropes opening like eager draw bridges. Apparently life as Miss Kitten has been rougher than I might have imagined.

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	Ladysmith Black Mambazo: On Tip Toe

Filled with fascinating interviews and rife with moving music, the film outlines in a lucid and poetic manner the history of these high-profile South African cultural ambassadors.

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	Kaki King: Legs to Make Us Longer

The day that the world runs out of female coffee-house folk performers who evolve into folk pop artists will be the day the world ends.

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	The Exploding Hearts: Guitar Romantic

I’ve written four f**king reviews for this album already. No matter what I try, it still ends up being the central point. I

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5 Dec 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Eminem: Encore

It's his least funny album ever, but it's got some good beats, catchy hooks, and, of course, unparalleled assonance, meter, tempo, breff control, and especially rhyme.

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	Emerson, Lake & Palmer: Live at Montreux 1997 [DVD]

Emerson, Lake & Palmer never have to worry about their reunions tarnishing their legacy. There have been few bands as critically unloved as these monsters

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3 Dec 2004 // 1:00 AM

Moolaadé (2004)

Understanding the political possibilities of film -- as a commercial as well as artistic medium -- Ousmane Sembene makes his case with color, song, and movement.

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3 Dec 2004 // 1:00 AM

Jandek on Corwood (2004)

This documentary on defiantly obscure indie-rock cult figure Jandek reveals not so much the man-behind-the-myth, but rather, the myth-behind-the-myth.

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House of Flying Daggers (Shi mian mai fu) (2004)

While the men's trajectories seem well delineated, Mei's fate and meaning are both more opaque.

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3 Dec 2004 // 1:00 AM

Closer (2004)

This leads to titillation, judgment, desire, and commerce all around. How Howard Stern.

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	Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Tango Nuevo

Tango nuevo got its start (as much as genres or styles get starts) in Argentina in the 1950s. Astor Piazzolla worked at this time to

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2 Dec 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Wolf Eyes: Burned Mind

On this latest effort, the Michigan-based trio reaches to paint a dense, tortured picture of the world with the urgency of a caged animal. Not an entirely out of place sentiment in today's times.

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2 Dec 2004 // 11:00 PM

	White Boy: No Gray Area

The first time I got called “white boy” I was 13. A kid asked me for a dollar; when I told him I didn’t have

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	UNKLE: Never, Never, Land

While fashion has moved away from electronic music of late, and as it slips back underground and re-groups amidst a cacophony of scarcely original post-punk revivalists, its encouraging to find work such as this that continues to excite and develop.

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	Steve Turner: And His Bad Ideas

In the early ‘90s, when certain—and at times vastly dissimilar—rock bands from the Northwest were lumped in together under the same marketing banner,

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	Skating Club: The Unfound Sound

The Skating Club is former Difference Engine member Aubrey Anderson. With his shoe-gazing days behind him, as they are with most bands, Anderson still needed

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	Nirvana: With the Lights Out

As amazingly important as Nirvana were, they became popular the same way anyone else ever has: they happened to be saying the right thing at just the right time. If their timing had been off by just the merest fraction, they could have easily fallen into line with the Pixies, the Replacements and Pavement as yet another greatly esteemed but commercially overlooked indie band.

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	Death Angel: The Art of Dying

Death Angel should have been huge. Along with Testament, the San Francisco band emerged from the thriving Bay Area thrash metal scene in the late ‘8

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	Dub Trio: Exploring the Dangers Of

Dub Trio come with a little novelty attached. Since dub reggae originally emerged from Jamaica as the almost accidental creation of studio engineers and producers,

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2 Dec 2004 // 1:00 AM

The 'problem' of hip-hop thus seems inherent -- it's a means to sell something, consumption as a means to identity, for players as much as fans. While most consumers presume they make choices, this circulation of signs suggests otherwise.

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	Various Artists: DFA Compilation #2

DFA deserve to be huge. After all, all the label has done is become the source for very nearly all the greatest American indie dance music that's come out in the first half of this decade.

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1 Dec 2004 // 11:00 PM

	The Velvet Underground: self-titled

The Velvet Underground. A great deal of ink has been spilled over this New York City band over the past 30+ years. Ever since the fateful

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1 Dec 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Throwing Muses: The Real Ramona

My drummer friend would often pick me up in the middle of the night so that we could drive around and chat while he delivered

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	Gonzalo Rubacalba: Paseo

This is something of a mixture, Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubacalba at times going all out to play, not Cuban music, but very much mainland North

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1 Dec 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Radio 4: Stealing of a Nation

Dance-punk has always been a genre high on potential but short on talent. !!! generated a lot of excitement with their “Me and Giuliani Down By

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	Mekons: Heaven and Hell: The Very Best of the Mekons

Isn’t there some anecdote about three blindfolded people in a room with an elephant? They all feel a different part of the animal—ear,

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	Kelly’s Heels: Dig In!: A Popboomerang Compilation

Kelly’s Heels are actually a new band in name only. Originally forming out of a British group called the Ashes, Kelly’s Heels was

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1 Dec 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Elton John: Peachtree Road

This all might be formulaic schlock, but it's expertly played and produced schlock by a master of the form, and he should be awarded some points for that.

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	Bobby Darin: Aces Back to Back

Bobby Darin was an underrated genius. That statement, as true as it is, is practically the only information given in the liner notes for the

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	Elvis Costello & the Attractions: Armed Forces

As an 11th grade student contemplating an impending post-high school fate, I quickly learned to dread the unsolicited phone calls of the Army recruiter. Sure,

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	Patricia Barber: Café Bleu  / Modern Cool / Nightclub / Verse

The Chicago-based Patricia Barber is an extremely intelligent jazz songwriter who sings and plays piano and writes challenging songs dealing with consumer culture and postmodernism and romantic/sexual obsession.

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Television continues to be a captivating window into our world, for better or for worse, and throughout all these shifts and events, PopMatters has worked to keep readers informed of what's going on in the strange universe of the boob tube.

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Recognizing that it's never "just a game", PopMatters Sports delves deeper than the glossy magazines and highlight reels of your typical sports coverage.

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1 Dec 2004 // 1:00 AM

from each section of the site -- pieces collected from five years of the sharp, incisive writing that has been the hallmark of the PopMatters standard.

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For five years now, PopMatters has endeavored to expand the critical perspective on music. Taking full advantage of the Internet as a medium, PopMatters treats artist features, album reviews, and interviews as equally deserving of in-depth analysis.

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One of PopMatters' youngest sections, Multimedia is an area coming into its own. Video games are a strong industry in the world of consumer products, and games for consoles, computers, and arcades continue to drive much of the development in interactive technologies.

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PopMatters endeavors to bring its readers interviews with those groups and individuals responsible for producing some of the most interesting work in contemporary culture, from the famous to those working on the fringes

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For the last five years, PopMatters has provided smart, literate film reviews, informative interviews, and insightful features that combine a knowledge of film history, cultural issues, and a sense of film as both an art form and an entertainment industry.

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The center column of the site. The first thing you see when you open PopMatters. The large picture. The splashy headline. The Features section is where some of the most interesting and broad topics in the PopMatters array wind up.

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Our crew works hard to bring PopMatters readers excellent reporting on the experience of seeing musicians ply their craft on stage. The tours they cover are often the names on the lips of critics everywhere, and our writers cut through the hype to present objective and analytical observations that expose weaknesses and uphold strengths.

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While sometimes we may touch on the inner workings of the industry in order to emphasize a point or analyze how it affects a particular work, this isn't our primary concern. Instead, we focus on evaluating the work in a larger context, and trying to help develop the small but growing realm of intelligent comics commentary.

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PopMatters cultivates smart writers/smart thinkers from the world-at-large. Our staff ranges from the multiple-degreed and/or world-traveled, to young writers of high caliber, to "seasoned" folks who punch the 9-5 clock, regardless of what type of degree, if any, they may hold.

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1 Dec 2004 // 1:00 AM

A half century after Kinsey, Corpus' challenge is to take HIV/AIDS discourse back from medical abstraction, and reintroduce the intimate.

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John Peel retained a fondness for music of all periods. The unearthing of undiscovered performers and undersung genres appeared to be his unceasing motivation.

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Ah, the shine of a pretty new thing, the clever ploy of its packaging. We enjoy the fantasy that such things arouse, and then, when shoddy reality sets in, we tip our caps to the ingenuity by which we were led to indulge the fantasy.

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1 Dec 2004 // 1:00 AM

Urbz: Sims in the City

If, in the electronic evolutionary chain, Tomagotchi are the first stage of pocket life, Urbz are Stanley Kubrick's ape witnesses to the monolith.

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1 Dec 2004 // 1:00 AM

NBA Live 2005

While I surely love this game, I also see the need to reflect on its place within a larger cultural, racial and gender milieu of social meaning.

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1 Dec 2004 // 1:00 AM

Evil Genius

No sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their frickin' heads, but enough creativity and humor for one million hours of evil gameplay.

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The Bard’s Tale

Its premise is simple: our hero, the titular musician and rogue, must save the world by banishing a great evil and rescuing a trapped princess. If this sounds familiar that's because it's supposed to be.

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1 Dec 2004 // 1:00 AM

BloodRayne 2

As discomforting as BloodRayne 2's depiction of women as both hypersexualized and grotesque is, it's rather surprising to realize that the whole affair is actually pretty underwhelming.

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	Handsome Boy Modeling School: White People

Despite the album's numerous missteps, there are moments of genius here that the band would not have discovered without its willingness to fail. On what other album could you hear Cat Power reborn as a sultry trip-hop chanteuse, hear the lead singer of the Deftones (of all people) hold his own with El-P, or, best yet, hear Mike Patton sing a song that was genuinely pretty.

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	Hope of the States: The Lost Riots

The band is the next hurrah from England, and heir to its operatic art-rock throne... It's all so serious, so overwhelming, this rock music lifting the weight of the world itself on its shoulders.

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30 Nov 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Val Emmich: Slow Down Kid

Val Emmich won’t slow down despite his album title inferring that he might need some adult doses of Ritalin to keep him calm. With

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30 Nov 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Greg Davis: Somnia

Greg Davis seems like a bad bet to make it in the rock world, probably because, for all his eclecticism, he doesn’t really rock

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30 Nov 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Dear Nora: Mountain Rock

It’s this helpless feeling; suddenly the murder of thousands of innocent people is at the fingers of a four-year-old—I’m talking about President

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30 Nov 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Client: City

British synthpoppers Client never come out from behind their stylishly sneering masks enough to connect with their audience -- and without real intimacy or appeal, you're left with a bunch of tracks showcasing protagonists both bored and vaguely repellent.

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30 Nov 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Converge: You Fail Me

Fitting somewhere between the progressive hardcore madness of The Dillinger Escape Plan and the classic grindcore of Napalm Death, Boston’s Converge has been steadily

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30 Nov 2004 // 11:00 PM

	The Blood Brothers: Crimes

After glimpsing a promo shot for Burn Piano Island, Burn, I was convinced the Blood Brothers were just another gang of screamo pretty boys doling

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Jimmy Eat World guitarist Tom Linton talks about new sounds, new successes, new bands, and old fans.

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30 Nov 2004 // 1:00 AM

When Uncle Tupelo split, I sided with Jay Farrar. Weird right?

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30 Nov 2004 // 1:00 AM

Eight gigs are never enough. Games 9 and 10 bring Canada's 'Fall Nationals' to a fiery conclusion.

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30 Nov 2004 // 1:00 AM

Cash begets closure. Finally, the dead can sleep.

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Tommorow's TV star mixes words with a rock-and-roll flameout. Jesus stands challenged.

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30 Nov 2004 // 1:00 AM

I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe

While she is certainly as self-possessed as the title claims, she does not move through the novel as an active agent, but instead merely reacts to the madness at Dupont.

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A Girl Like Sugar by Emily Pohl-Weary

It's essentially a glossy pulp Chick Lit novel masquerading slightly as something else altogether, a candy kiss hiding barbed wire.

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Elliott Smith and the Big Nothing by Benjamin Nugent

Throughout the course of the book Nugent is much more interested in explicating Smith's pseudo-biographical lyrics than in doing any of the metaphorical legwork required to come to any sort of decisive conclusions regarding Smith's life.

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30 Nov 2004 // 1:00 AM

Bohemian Manifesto by Laren Stover

The bohemian ethic applies well to the new millennium young and young-at-heart populations eschewing the feed, breed, and greed way of life.

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	Tiger Army: III: Ghost Tigers Rise

Tiger Army are currently enjoying their biggest success in their nearly 10 years as a band. But the success has come at an extremely steep price.

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29 Nov 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Tears for Fears: Everybody Loves a Happy Ending

In many ways, Tears for Fears were the quintessential ‘80s band, its catalog rife with the ubiquitous synth-pop of its time. But TFF always seemed

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	NOFX: The Greatest Songs Ever Written By Us

It's clear he and his band are comfortable with the prospect of becoming punk's elder statesmen; 'So call me Fat Fuck, geriatric punk rock,' he sneers, concluding later on, 'We're all getting older, not better.' Judging by their recent output, many would tend to disagree.

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	The Ike Reilly Assassination: Sparkle in the Finish

If I was going to be pretentious about it, I'd say that Ike Reilly has tapped into something very American, very real, very important. Or I could just say that this record kicks my ass like it's Ron Artest and I just threw a beer at it.

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29 Nov 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Dirty Vegas: One

Sometimes all we need is an all-inclusive good time, a social affair, a round of pints, and all the simple pleasures that we take for granted. For reminding us of that, Dirty Vegas' One, despite its flaws, is still one of the more refreshing releases to come out this year.

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	Crippled Pilgrims: Down Here: Collected Recordings (1983-1985)

If you were hanging out in DC back in ‘83 and listening to Crippled Pilgrims, there was a real good chance that some guy in Minor

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29 Nov 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Black Eyes: Cough

When Washington, DC’s post-hardcore quintet Black Eyes announced their break-up this past May, no one really cared, or really even noticed. Their eponymous 2003 debut

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29 Nov 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Bikini Atoll: Moratoria

Bikini Atoll are named after a small Pacific isle that was the testing ground for various U.S. nuclear and atomic, er, tests. But this

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29 Nov 2004 // 1:00 AM

Hero (2002)

Hero reimagines history in a way that underlines its tragedy.

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29 Nov 2004 // 1:00 AM

What would Jimi Hendrix sound like now? The anniversary of the great guitarist's birth has us wondering what kind of records he would have made, what evolution of the blues he would have pioneered, and whether he had even begun to fulfill his limitless potential.

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Zhou Yu’s Train (Zhou Yu de huo che) (2002)

Structured as a tale that is in the process of being told, Zhou Yu's Train cuts back and forth in time and across locations.

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29 Nov 2004 // 1:00 AM

The Three Faces of Eve (1957)

As Eve, a young woman whose life unravels following her diagnosis with multiple personality disorder, Joanne Woodward is spectacular.

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29 Nov 2004 // 1:00 AM

Ragtime (1981)

Profound as Coalhouse walker's story might be, Ragtime is about far more.

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29 Nov 2004 // 1:00 AM

The Clearing (2004)

The kidnapping sets in motion a thriller that doubles as a character study, delving into Wayne and Eileen's strained marriage.

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The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi (2003)

'In Japan,' says Takeshi Kitano, 'cops and yakuzas are the only two occupations that deal with death or violence daily.'"

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	Various Artists: Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens: The Big Ol’ Box of New Orleans

The morning after listening to the wealth of delectable tunes, you'll awaken with a sympathetic hangover, tasting gumbo on your tongue, and swear that you were there the night before.

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	Amanda Woodward: La Decadence de la Decadence

The far reach of American pop culture surprises me sometimes. Hailing from France, Amanda Woodward is the condensed name of Heather Locklear’s character on

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28 Nov 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Gwen Stefani: Love.Angel.Music.Baby.

With an open mind and a deep love for some of the best aspects of mainstream pop music from two distinct eras -- the late 1980s and the early '00s -- Stefani's almost science-fiction-like fusion of these disparate strands of supposedly hollow pop music can come off sounding like the greatest of artistic achievements.

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28 Nov 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Stiv Bators: Disconnected (Reissue)

Issued after the break-up of the Dead Boys and before his albums with the Wanderers and Lords of the New Church, Stiv Bators’s one

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	Mobb Deep: Americaz Nightmare

I prefer to blame the record industry for Mobb Deep’s malformed career. Judging from the living proof of the duo’s ability to whip

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	Alison Krauss and Union Station: Lonely Runs Both Ways

Alison Krauss has the voice of an angel. This phrase may sound so overblown that it becomes trite, but it is true.

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	Fela Kuti: Music Is the Weapon [DVD]

I can’t think of many musicians who’ve campaigned to create their own country, as Fela Kuti once did, to save his Lagos slum

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	Norah Jones and the Handsome Band: Live in 2004 [DVD]

The DVD serves as confirmation that, yes, Norah is Norah, and effectively drives home everything that has now become part of the 'Norah Package'. Quiet, withdrawn demeanor? Check. Slow, peaceful tunes? Check. Total control over a positively velvet voice? Check.

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	Harold Budd & Brian Eno: Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror

Evolving metaphors, in my opinion, is what artists do. They produce work that gives you the chance to experience in a safe environment, because nothing

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28 Nov 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Aqui: First Trip Out

AQUI is one of the most amazing rock bands I ever saw . . . see ‘em before their [sic] famous! —Tom Ritchford I cannot take advice from

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24 Nov 2004 // 1:00 AM

Maybe Sambo did die, but there's been a resurrection -- one worthy of a billion dollar industry -- and the opening segment of last week's Monday Night Football broadcast, the Vibe Awards ceremony that was broadcast the following night and the closing minutes ESPN's Friday night NBA game between the Detroit Pistons and the Indiana Pacers were proof that Sambo and the minstrel stage that so powerfully nurtured his existence are still alive and well and whetting the appetites of those desiring the 'real nigger show'.

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Taxi: The Complete First Season

If Alex is the dad, Louie is the drunk uncle who visits without calling first.

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24 Nov 2004 // 1:00 AM

SCTV Volume 2

The material shows how much the SCTV crew did not engage in either obvious parody or simple knee-jerk laughs.

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Arrested Development: Season One

Arrested Development is Bad Behavior writ large, and it is the most consistently funny half-hour to grace the Idiot Box in a long time.

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24 Nov 2004 // 1:00 AM

Unconstitutional: The War on Our Civil Liberties (2004)

A film that sheds light on discrimination and energetically calls for a re-evaluation of U.S. priorities.

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24 Nov 2004 // 1:00 AM

Roadgames (1981)

Roadgames is ultimately a clever Hitchcockian soufflé that 'is full of air, but rises nicely.'"

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More Recent Features

//Mixed media
//Blogs

The Moving Pixels Podcast Discusses 'Tales from the Borderlands Episode 2'

// Moving Pixels

"Our foray into the adventure-game-style version of the Borderlands continues.

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