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by Nathan Pensky

15 Sep 2010

Oftentimes artists use a baseline of existing superficiality to make larger points. Lady Gaga’s dance-pop songs, for instance, are effective as music, and also as an interesting critique of the superficiality inherent to the genre. Comedians like Sacha Baron Cohen, Sarah Silverman, and Chris Rock have effectively appropriated racial stereotypes, both expanding upon their stilted thought processes and lampooning them as a means to containment.

The use of profanity in movie dialogue also works with a baseline of superficiality, as cursing is meant in cinema to superficially distinguish along class lines or difference of cultural or moral standards, this somewhat parallel to the use of accents in film, as well as provide a certain transgressive emphasis within those designations of difference. Of course, cursing is used most effectively in playing against such stereotypes, as when a character employs the emphasis of a curse without following through to say the actual word. Words like “frick” and “shoot” allude to curse words through likeness of sound; others like “crap” have the same meaning as the more typical bad words. This second type of fake cursing is a bit like spelling “W-A-L-K” in front of a dog, where one wants the meaning of a word without any of the heightened emotion attached.

by Bill Gibron

14 Sep 2010

For many, the tolling bells of News Year’s Eve mean one thing and one thing only. No, not unreachable resolutions or drunken dates with last minute mates. Not a rapidly degenerating Dick Clark (or his proto-replacement, Ryan Seacrest), the Big Apple, an illuminated crystal ball, and a mass Manhattan countdown. It’s has nothing to do with champagne, toasts, drunken mishaps, DUIs, and/or endless off-key choruses of “Auld Lang Syne”. In fact, for many of the more sane members of the long past-partying population, New Years is a time to reflect on something a tad more sinister - of traveling through another dimension—a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination.

That’s right, the annual signpost up ahead is the SyFy Channel’s delightful decision to run every episode of Rod Serling’s seminal Twilight Zone series as part of a twice yearly marathon (Fourth of July weekend being the other usual genre showcase stopping off point). From 1959’s “Where is Everybody?” to 1964’s “The Bewitchin’ Pool” the cable place for all things otherworldly presents all 156 slices of sobering speculative fiction from this Golden Age of Television classic. Featuring the writing of such literary luminaries as Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont, and Serling himself, it (along with The Outer Limits) would form the benchmark for how fantastical material was handled within the limited scope of the small screen.

//Mixed media

Violin Virtuoso L. Subramaniam Mesmerizes in Rare New York Performance (Photos)

// Notes from the Road

"Co-presented by the World Music Institute, the 92Y hosted a rare and mesmerizing performance from India's violin virtuoso L. Subramaniam.

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