Latest Blog Posts

by Bill Gibron

1 Dec 2008

If, like yours truly, you came of age in the ‘60s and ‘70s, there’s a special place in your heart for the crazed combination of marketing and imagination that was Saturday Morning kid’s programming. Amid all the cartoons and chaos, CBS pulled a trio of “next big thing” wannabes out of club gigs and gave them 30 minutes of variety hour vaudeville. The results remain something akin to watching a Borscht Belt comedian drown in a sea of silly string. And just to make matters more insane, the Hudson’s would perform their own massively muzaked version of a rock and roll ‘classic’. Hip… or hopeless? You decide.


by Karen Zarker

1 Dec 2008

“With love to…”, “For whom I couldn’t have written this without…” those touching but oftentimes oblique dedications in novels that may pique our curiosity but go unexplored are a launching point for this dedication to the love of—and the loves (and other things) that inspire—iconic literature. Wagman-Geller delves into dedications in 50 books and comes up with personal and historical influences that may surprise the dedicated reader. Give to the true literature lover in your life, without whom you couldn’t have…


by Rob Horning

1 Dec 2008

A few weeks ago, Nicholas Carr wrote a post about the end of the blogosphere as an independent, open field in which new writers can bypass the need for vetting by corporate media and rise in popularity through sheer merit.

While there continue to be many blogs, including a lot of very good ones, it seems to me that one would be hard pressed to make the case that there’s still a “blogosphere.” That vast, free-wheeling, and surprisingly intimate forum where individual writers shared their observations, thoughts, and arguments outside the bounds of the traditional media is gone. Almost all of the popular blogs today are commercial ventures with teams of writers, aggressive ad-sales operations, bloated sites, and strategies of self-linking. Some are good, some are boring, but to argue that they’re part of a “blogosphere” that is distinguishable from the “mainstream media” seems more and more like an act of nostalgia, if not self-delusion.

He’s probably right about that, but we should be grateful the old blogosphere was around long enough for Tanta at Calculated Risk to find a wide audience. She was absolutely one of the most lucid and engaging writers on the housing bubble and the mortgage industry, without whom even fewer people would have much of an idea of what happened to our economy in recent years. Tanta, whose name was Doris Dungey, died over the weekend, and will be sorely missed.

by Mehan Jayasuriya

1 Dec 2008

Due to scheduling conflicts, I arrived in Montréal late on a Thursday night, a full day after events editor Kevin Pearson had touched down. As such, I missed the first day of the festival, not to mention a few swanky dinners, courtesy of the festival’s organizers.  Luckily, there was still plenty left to be seen, heard and tasted in Montréal and I was determined to make the most of my weekend in the world’s second largest French speaking city.

Coincidentally enough, I was born in Montréal, though my family left Canada when I was just a few months old. Though I had made a few trips back as a child, this would mark the first chance I would have as an adult to explore the city in earnest. As such, my trip was filled with a peculiar sense of nostalgia; fleeting moments of recognition in a city that I knew almost nothing about.

Our home base, the fashionably minimalist Opus Hotel, was located at the intersection of two of Montréal’s great thoroughfares, the Boulevard Saint Laurent and rue Sherbrooke. Boulevard Saint Laurent is apparently referred to as “the Main” by locals, as the street serves as the dividing line between the Anglophone and Francophone parts of town. Leonard Cohen owns a nondescript grey stone house about a mile from the Opus, not far from the corner of Boulevard Saint Laurent and rue Marie Anne (the latter street, apparently, serving as the inspiration for the song that bears its name).

Even though I arrived after midnight on Thursday, Kevin managed to coax me into going out to a bar (okay, I admit, it didn’t take much coaxing) with him and a few folks he had met at the festival. We ended up at Korova, an upstairs hipster dive on the main drag that somehow felt both authentically divey and authentically Canadian. The DJ spun great tunes (‘50s and ‘60s pop 45s, mostly), the bartenders poured St. Ambroise brews from Montréal’s own McAuslan brewery and practically everyone danced themselves into a sweat as the moose heads mounted on the wall silently observed the proceedings.

by Barry Lenser

1 Dec 2008

One of the obvious delights of surveying the Beatles’ catalogue is coming across unheralded gems, like “Baby It’s You”. Written by Burt Bacharach, Luther Dixon, and Mack David, this cover of the much-covered 1961 Shirelles’ hit shares the same lazy-groove, R&B gait as “Anna (Go to Him)” and, also like that Arthur Alexander tune, showcases the Beatles in precociously assured form. They sound seasoned and not at all burdened by the pressures of a debut album. And coupled with their casual command, they also come off (to no surprise) as naturally joyful performers who recognize that their art can benefit from an influx of good humor.

As the song’s lead singer, John especially radiates this mix of authority and amusement. Over glinting guitars and a sturdy, medium-boil rhythm (both of which are well-proportioned), he issues a vow of devotion that ranges, in tonal quality, from calmly resigned to mocking to battered. It’s a versatile vocal, and John navigates the changes so loosely, so fluidly, almost as if he’s just engaging in regular conversation. The way he lightly massages the word “heart” in the song’s first line, the spring in his voice on the transitional “uh-ohs”, and his aching confession “Don’t want nobody, nobody” are among the highlights.

Elsewhere, John, flanked by the “sha-la-la”-ing Paul and George, sets aside his straight-up, shtick-free manner in favor of showy flourishes and interjections that might seem somewhat audacious coming from the very green Beatles (as opposed to the more established Shirelles who perform the same parts). But the Fab Four bask in these moments and appear to acknowledge their own youth by almost consciously overacting. To memorable effect, John follows the original’s use of repetition on lines like “Many, many, many nights go by” and “They say, they say you never, never, never ever been true”, but he adds more playful emphasis than the Shirelles did. Such confident poses for a mere 22-year-old. However, his smirkingly clipped delivery of “cheat, cheat”, which Paul and George echo, is probably the finest demonstration of the Beatles’ joy of craft on “Baby It’s You”. It’s an infectious spirit that helps to make for an infectious pop treat.

//Mixed media

How Röyksopp's 'Melody A.M.' Brought Electronica Into the Mainstream

// Sound Affects

"With their debut, the Norwegian duo essentially provided the everyman's guide to electronic music.

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