TV

How to Curb Your Enthusiasm for that 'Seinfeld' Reunion

If you’re like me, then you’re beyond excited to see the cast of Seinfeld reunited during the seventh season of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

And that is why I suggest some contemplation to quell, or curb, your excitement. Let’s take some time to think about Seinfeld, which is, in essence, the founding father show of Curb. That is, Curb is almost a spinoff of Seinfeld. An actual spinoff (like The Jeffersons from All in the Family) isn’t necessary in order to consider the origin of certain story elements.

I think most sitcoms can be traced to some of the iconic shows from the 1950s. For Seinfeld, I think it’s important to recall The Honeymooners.

The Honeymooners used a simple setting which had the interesting effect of centralizing the apartment door. The entrance of the characters into the Kramden’s apartment became an important point of action in the show. In Seinfeld, the apartment door is also prominent; and it became an important element of Kramer’s wild entrances into Jerry’s living room.

Such physicality in a character like Kramer reminds me a lot of Ralph’s friend Ed Norton. When you really think about it, Norton is a character-type for sit-coms: large, full of physical motion, and absurdly unaware of their own eccentricities (think Herman Munster, Dwight Schrute).

Another parallel is in the usage of the get-rich-quick scheme as a means for comedic plot. A scenario that Ralph Kramden perfected, and that Jackie Gleason probably invented. George Castanza, Kramer, and Newman on several occasions continued this tail-chasing tradition of Ralph Kramden’s.

Finally, there is the voice of reason character who, on The Honeymooners, was Alice. What’s great about Seinfeld, is that this role can’t be unequivocally attributed to any one character. Even Jerry and Elaine, the two most reasonable characters on the show, had their fair share of obliviously eccentric moments. And I guess that’s why it’s so exciting to know they are going to be on Curb. Can Larry (the character) cause his usual socially awkward conflicts with the cast of the show that was, in part, based on some of his life? After all, if anyone should be able to empathize with him, it should be the people who became famous for re-enacting his antics.

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

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From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

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Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

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Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

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