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Wednesday, Sep 13, 2006

I had a strange thought when I was in that purgatory known as the Duane Reade checkout line. Desperately trying to distract myself from the (intentional?) inefficiency of the clerks and the customers who were too busy sending out text messages on their phones to have their wallets out, even though they had been in line as long as I had, I was contemplating the DVD rack (who is buying DVDs on impulse in the drugstore? Who sees Stuck on You—with that dynamic comedy duo, Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear—for $11.99 and thinks, Hey, you know what, I could use a laugh or two!) and the paperbacks, which included The Lovely Bones, the out-of-nowhere publishing sensation of a few years ago. But rather than presume that was a reason for not reading it, as I had when I first heard buzz about it, it suddenly seemed like a good reason to give it a try. Of course, pigs will be flying over the frozen lakes in hell when I read The Lovely Bones, but I was nonetheless surprised by the shift in what my immediate reaction to seeing it was. And the change seems related to shifts in the availability of cultural product. It has never been easier to immerse oneself in recondite obscurities—whether these be pop singles from Cambodia or Turkmenistan documentariesor 18th century novels once preserved only in Ivy League libraries (but now scanned into archive.org for anyone’s perusal). It’s not in any way hard to circumvent mainstream entertainment—it may be that only those with limited resources or experience (teenagers) think that it is and thus overvalue the distinctive appeal of obscure esoterica. What is hard is capturing the attention of a huge number of people, particularly when so many things are competing for that attention all the time, constantly, even when people are in drugstore lines. When a book or a song or whatever achieves that sudden ubiquity unexpectedly, that seems to warrant some kind of notice; certainly that’s a rarer phenomenon than discovering something no one’s ever heard of. i could go to the free pile and grad a dozen CDs if I were interested in that.


So perhaps the more evident the long tail becomes, the more strange and singular big hits seem. And it seems we gain nothing in terms of reputation by veiling ourselves in obscure curiosities anymore—we all have to try a little bit harder now if we are setting out to impress people.


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Wednesday, Sep 13, 2006
by PopMatters Staff

From Rockstar Games: “Rockstar Games is proud to announce Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories. Developed by Rockstar Leeds in conjunction with series creators Rockstar North, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories will be available exclusively on the PSP™ system in North America on October 31th, 2006 and Europe on October 20th, 2006. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories is a new game in the Grand Theft Auto series with an entirely new storyline, new missions and gameplay that brings an unprecedented experience to mobile gaming. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories features the interactive, open environment of Vice City with professional voice talent, a diverse soundtrack and high production values that have become trademarks of this landmark series.”



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Wednesday, Sep 13, 2006

After beating up on Dangermouse for his White Album mashup, the same major label is going after another DJ for crimes against perceived copyright and profits.  Clayton Count’s Sgt Petsound’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is a combo of the Fabs’ ‘67 platter and the Beach Boys’ album that influenced it: see the P2PNet story for details.  Even though Count never sold this item or meant to make a profit (like Mouse’s album, it was meant to show off his skills), the big corporate baddie obviously wants to make an example out of him.  Wonder what Paul, Ringo and Yoko think of this and if they’re happy that this being done…  Oh well, at least you can sleep securely tonight knowing that EMI is protecting your children from errant DJs.


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Tuesday, Sep 12, 2006

From the User’s Guide to Indian Films Intro


The movies described in the User’s Guide are the hit list of Indian cinema. They’re not only the best films of all time, but they give you the best glimpse of what Indians enjoy, their sense of tragedy and comedy, their aspirations, their regrets. In short, it’s a visual chronicle of Indian society in the last 50 years. Enjoy.



Week 7: Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (“He Who is Brave of Heart Takes the Bride”)
1995, Color, Hindi.
Dir: Aditya Chopra
DDLJ, as it’s often abbreviated, is the masterwork of a young second-generation filmmaker, Aditya Chopra, whose father Yash is a famous director and media mogul.  The movie was a phenomenal success, running in theatres for a record time of five years. DDLJ hit a nerve amongst many Indians because of its increasingly relevant subject matter: the struggle of a NRI (Non-Resident Indian) family to make a living abroad in the West, yet still uphold the religious and cultural traditions of their ancestral homeland. The film signaled a return to ritual and relations, values that gradually eroded during the sexual revolution of the ‘60s and ‘70s. By the ‘90s, the overcrowding and lack of jobs in India forced more and more people to relocate to other countries. Nearly everyone who saw DDLJ  was an NRI, or had a NRI relative and could completely identify with the characters. The story revolves around two spirited teenagers, the lovely, Simran (Kajol), the middle-class daughter of a stern, hardworking Punjabi gas-station owner in London, and Raj (Shahrukh Khan), the fast-talking, self-indulgent son of an Anglo-Indian millionaire. The two meet while traveling through Europe with their friends, discover they have nothing in common, hate each other, keep getting left behind by the others, bond, discover they have more in common than they thought, and grow to love each other. The romantic-comedy plot is painfully clichéd, but what makes DDLJ  so enduring are the earnest, doe-eyed performances from Shahrukh Khan and Kajol, who quickly became the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan of Indian cinema.


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Tuesday, Sep 12, 2006

After reading Patrick Goldstein’s Los Angeles Times piece Five Years Later: Pop Culture of Denial, I started to wonder what was the right reaction for the entertainment world to the September 11th attacks?


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