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Induced indecisiveness

In Central Park in New York there's a large open yard called the Sheep Meadow where people play frisbee and lay out in the sun. It's a place where people apparently decide to meet, but because it's bereft of permanent landmarks, this prompts many absurd cell phone conversations: "I'm near the fat guy in the blue shirt with a bike," "Do you see the black guy with a poodle?" "I'm waving my arms, do you see me? I've got shorts on." "I'm near the boy blowing bubbles." Because I don't have a cell phone, I am not ordinarily privy to such conversations, though I'm told a cell phone makes everything easier. From my perspective, it seem sto make everything harder, because no one ever has to commit to any plan; everything becomes contigent and open to last-minute modification. "I'll call you when I get there, and then we'll figure it out." This way calls multiply themselves, to the delight of the carriers who are paid both by the minute and by the call. Companies profit by the indecisiveness their devices promote. Just one of the many small ways in which tech companies profit not by making your life easier or better but by complicating it needlessly while catering to your dormant bad habits. Cell phones enable bad habits like rudeness, indecisiveness, vagueness, irresponsibility, etc. Rather than facilitate better communication, it promotes wasteful inexplicit communication, wasted words; it complicates communication by making it seem inordinately easy, by making us comfuse accessibility with mutual comprehension. The very premise of the technology seems to demand that you become more indecisive to take advantage of the "convenient" flexibility it provides you. You have to become more irresponsible to justify carrying one, and this pattern reinforces itself until you are blabbing about your every move to someone as you're walking down 57th Street.

The two people try to rendevous in the Sheep Meadow, both on their phones, both moving, both narrating their movements as they try to navigate their way nearer to each other, but neither getting any closer. The freedom of movement always them to speak to each other without ever really reaching each other. This seems to epitimize our society, the way we foil intimacy with technology. The cell phone inscribes an implacable distance between us -- the distance from the earth to those satellites orbiting above us and back -- no matter how close to each other we may seem to be.

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

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Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

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The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

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If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

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Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

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