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by Jennifer Cooke

11 Feb 2010

The Electric Pop Group
Seconds
(Matinee)
Released: 2 February

I’ve been watching a lot of 1970s Pippi Longstocking movies lately. I adored them as a kid, and now I’ve managed to finagle my own children into loving the little ginger moppet with the big shoes and the bad dubbing. Funny thing is, after spending so much time back at Villa Villekulla, I find myself hankering to hear stuff like the Lucksmiths, the Vaselines, the Housemartins. In short, Pippi makes me wanna get my twee on. I can think of no better way to get your twee on today than Sweden’s own Electric Pop Group. The brothers Aamot sound like they are fresh from the Villa Villekula, with those wistful vocals and shimmery, jangly guitars. Their newest album, Seconds, is now available on Matinee Recordings.

SONG LIST
01 Not By Another
02 Out of Sight
03 I Know I Will
04 Drawing Lines
05 My Only Inspiration
06 In The Back of My Mind
07 The Way It Used to Do
08 Into Thin Air
09 We Never Made Up Our Minds
10 The Best of Times

“Not By Another” [MP3]
     

“The Way It Used to Do” [MP3]
     

by Robert Moore

11 Feb 2010

To understand why the new CW series Life Unexpected is such a pleasant surprise, one has to consider both the long string of successful character-driven family dramas created by the earlier WB and the shorter string of unsuccessful and persistently disappointing teen-oriented dramas created by the CW, the successor network to both the WB and UPN.

Back before the CW, the WB’s many family dramas were staple viewing for viewers who preferred relationship-driven drama over reality TV and police procedurals. At the heart of shows like Seventh Heaven, Dawson’s Creek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Felicity, Angel, Charmed, Popular, Roswell, Gilmore Girls, Smallville, and Everwood was a focus on relationships and families, even if some of the families were chosen rather than biological (family was at the heart of both Buffy and Angel, though few characters were biologically-related to one another). Although targeted at a younger demographic, these shows also appealed to adults. Some shows may have had a stronger appeal to adults than others (Buffy, Gilmore Girls, Everwood), but all of these shows handled relationships with sufficient intelligence to appeal to more than just teen girls. Even a teen drama like Dawson’s Creek had more than its fair share of adult viewers.

by Rob Horning

10 Feb 2010

Thomas H. Benton, who has written several articles attempting to demystify graduate school, takes his critique about as far as it can go in his most recent installment (via MR).

Graduate school in the humanities is a trap. It is designed that way. It is structurally based on limiting the options of students and socializing them into believing that it is shameful to abandon “the life of the mind.” That’s why most graduate programs resist reducing the numbers of admitted students or providing them with skills and networks that could enable them to do anything but join the ever-growing ranks of impoverished, demoralized, and damaged graduate students and adjuncts for whom most of academe denies any responsibility.

That’s pretty explosive rhetoric, but having been in that trap and perhaps still feeling its effects, I can’t dispute any of it. I guess I would say don’t go to graduate school unless you already have a job and your company is paying for it.

It’s useful to read Benton’s article in conjunction with the Eurozine essay by Christopher Newfield about the “cognitariat.” His argument is that there is a hierarchy among knowledge workers, with most them vulnerable to exploitation, thanks to globalization-era management techniques that do away with loyalty. This plays out at the university level, where those who do work funded by corporations are treated preferentially. Naturally whatever value the humanities provide are undercompensated. I thought this passage pertained directly to the situation of the humanties grad student:

There is indeed a conflict between the modes in which knowledge is produced and owned within cognitive capitalism. But this does not translate into a political conflict of the kind Gorz calls class war. Analysts often suggest that two general phenomenon can undermine a productive contradiction like that of cognitive capitalism. The first is immiseration, in which bad conditions force a revolt. The second is inefficiency, in which elites tire of wasting money controlling people and not getting that last 20 per cent out of knowledge workers made sullen by mediocre treatment. Neither of these function in the case of knowledge economies, where the knowledge worker masses are still middle class on a world scale, and where a sense of professional duty produces good enough efficiency in nearly all cases (and threats of layoffs and closure where it does not).

Benton argues that the “life of the mind” ruse masks immiseration while the cheap teaching labor extracted prevents “inefficiency” from ending the situation.

by C.E. McAuley

10 Feb 2010

He’s the greatest superhero you’ve never heard of! Well, if you follow the DCU you’ve probably heard of him, but may not yet have embraced him. His name is Booster Gold. And now’s the time to get to know him.

Booster Gold comes to us a failure from the future only to return to the past a hero to protect the timeline. His cover? An egocentric, media-hungry, JLA B-Lister named. . .Booster Gold. In fact, not only might he be the greatest superhero you’ve never heard of, but it’s high time Booster Gold take his place among the pantheon of the greatest superheroes of all-time.

by Jonas Jacobs

10 Feb 2010

“I Shall Be Released” is an iconic, universal anthem. It’s been covered by everyone under the sun, from Nina Simone to the Deftones. Below I’ve included several variations on the tune, starting of course with Bob Dylan’s original 1967 version from The Basement Tapes. Dylan’s original (where he is joined by the Band) is followed by the Band’s own rendition from their 1968 classic Music From Big Pink. It’s set to a socially motivated Vietnam YouTube video. The British Beatlesesque outfit, the Tremeloes, recorded their own version of the tune, which reached number 29 on the UK charts. 

Nina Simone’s take on the song is from her 1969 album To Love Somebody. I also had to include a 1969 version from the Mama Cass television program featuring the Mama herself, Joni Mitchell and Mary Travers. Joan Baez’s live performance of the song at Sing Sing Prison in 1972 follows.

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