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Thursday, Feb 10, 2011
It will be interesting to see if the looming cellular presence of Catholic Guilt will scare people away from the iPhone.

As a child, I tried, week after week, to convince my parents that we should just watch church services on TV on Sunday mornings.  Doing so, I argued, was just as good as going to church.  I lost this argument each and every week.


Now, the Catholic Church has blessed the new “Confession App” available for the iPhone.  Though the Church has made it clear that this application is not meant to replace traditional confession, I can’t help but feel a certain amount of I-told-you-so-ness in this techno development. 


For my part, I have eschewed cell phone use for most of my adult life for the most banal of reasons: I just don’t want to be accessible to any/everyone at all hours of the day.  (Funny that I blog on the Internet, though).  It will be interesting to see if the looming cellular presence of Catholic Guilt will scare people away from the iPhone.  Also, I can’t help but wondering, given that this app hit the iTunes store after The Beatles did, if John Lennon was somehow right.




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Tuesday, Feb 8, 2011
Frontline's investigation of digital culture re-airs on PBS 8 February.

New means of transmitting “news”, of making resistance and protest visible via Twitter, email, and cell phone footage—have been highlighted during the ongoing crisis in Egypt. And yet, if boundaries of identity and community are not in fact national or even state-secured or supported, then no one seems quite accountable for or even very careful about transgressing. Frontline: Digital Nation shows how advancing technologies not only bring faster and changed ways of processing, communicating, and conjuring ideas, but also produce gaps in experience and expectations.


See PopMattersreview.



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Friday, Jan 28, 2011

Aiming to create a monster every day, artist David Irvine’s fascinating process emphasizes “experimentation with styles and medium and mood”.


“I have a passion for monsters and art, so I merged the two and started a Facebook group called ‘Monster-A-Day’,” he writes. “Everyday I try to post a monster that I drew, painted, sketched, etc., with one rule that it takes 15 minutes or less to complete.”


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Monday, Jan 24, 2011
Nothing destroys the charm of a meal more quickly than having a personality.

In the decade it was on the air, Mystery Science Theater 3000 made piecemeal of almost two hundred really bad movies, the host and his two robot sidekicks adding an additional audio track of sarcastic commentary and other irreverence. But another mainstay of the show was the bevy of short films that the crew riffed on. Not every episode featured a short, but the shorts remain popular enough today to have been collected more than once for the home video market.


The majority of these shorts were chosen from the slew of self-improvement films produced in America during the 1950s, ostensibly to be shown to junior high and high school students. These “mental hygiene” shorts stressed ideals like obedience, cleanliness, temperance and other traditional “family values” associated with middle America after World War II.


The schlock and awe of these shorts alone makes them ripe for the MST3K treatment, but one short in particular stands out. “A Date with Your Family”, produced in 1950, is an instructional film depicting exactly how to conduct oneself for a most pleasant evening meal. The social angst and oppression pulsates off the film in nearly palpable waves, assisted in no short order by the narration of Hugh Beaumont. Beaumont is, of course, most well known for his depiction as the wise head of the Cleaver clan on that staple of Americana TV, Leave It to Beaver. For this short’s purposes, the benign yet firm voice of this uber-paterfamilias brooks no backsass from any smart-alecks who may be looking to ruin their family’s charming dinner by having an opinion or an original idea.


Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy (as Tom Servo), and Trace Beaulieu (as Crow T. Robot) send this short up with evident glee.  It is also interesting to note here that when this episode of MST3K first aired, it was the summer of 1994, the same year the Republican Party began its eventual take-over of the U.S. Congress with its “Contract with America”. This platform called for major cutbacks on welfare and other social reform and sought to return America to its original “family values”. These values were ridiculous enough in 1950, much more so in 1994.


But they do make for prime comedy material.



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Wednesday, Jan 12, 2011
Here’s a look at gifts from the previous decade.

Now that the Christmas season has passed and the gifts have already been received, let’s take a nostalgic look at popular gifts through the years. The 2000’s recently ended, but there are still a lot of trends and changes to look back on.


Neopets or Webkins: Neopets sold millions of toys and themed merchandise by offering kids realistic counterparts to their free online pets. Towards the end of the decade, Webkins emerged as a younger-child’s version of Neopets, with stuffed-animals whose codes lead to their online alter egos.


 

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