Saturday, October 24, 2009

Project blogway, part fyra

Random notes:

It's becoming increasingly clear that the aufing of Ra'mon and his curious apostrophe a month ago was a terrible mistake. His work was by far the most interesting of anyone this season, and he was a good presence in the workroom. Now we're left with mediocre work at best -- it's hard to imagine anyone left making the final four of any previous season -- and personalities better suited for Project NPRunway. One wouldn't have imagined Bunim/Murray being conservative in casting, but the Lifetime PR has noticeably cut back on the drama and its queens, not to anyone's benefit.

Farewell at last to Nicholas, living proof that our emphasis on self-esteem in childhood leads to a sorry grasp on reality as an adult. One of my colleagues dislikes him less for that than for what she calls his "pumpkin head," a cranium so round it could have been the model for Charlie Brown. She's right, too.

And speaking of orange heads, how good it is to have Michael Kors and Nina Garcia back...although the cheap promo for the "world-famous designer" this week was more than a little vomitorious. To his credit, he didn't look entirely pleased with the setup.

And speaking of world-famous designers, Milla Jovavich seemed to know a good deal more about the trade than her fellow world-famous designers Lindsay Lohan, Rachel Bilson, and Christina Aguilera. I'd actually trust her on a shopping trip to Kohl's.

And speaking of shopping trips to Kohl's, when is Christopher going to be sent back to Shakopee? Not since Vincent have we seen such a lengthy run of really bad work...yet the Turk* always seems to find someone who's even worse. It can't last forever.

*The Turk is, in professional sports, the name given to the anonymous spirit who designates the team member who is to be cut. Of course, in Project Runway, perhaps the appropriate designation is the Bavarian.

Double shot of your love

Wired checks in on the vaccination brouhaha. Again, anyone who has had a child in a daycare laid waste by rotavirus just has to ask: Why? And please note: Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy are the leaders of this movement. Context: The star of Dumb and Dumber and a person who has made a career out of being a dumb blonde. Well, I think I'd rather leave the fate of my family to people who know something about anything than to a talking asshole and his girlfriend.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Happiness is a warm vaccine

Of course, why read me when you can watch Jon Stewart?

Vaccination can be fun

As the parent of a seven-year-old diagnosed with asthma, and as an employee of an institution where almost 10 percent of the students are down with H1N1, I am frustrated, nay, infuriated by nothing more at the moment than the ideologues who won't vaccinate their children or themselves because it's either Commie juice or an effort by Pharma to take us all for a ride. (I know representatives of both points of view.) This piece from Slate, while presenting the problem in extremis, nonetheless makes the necessary point that the decision not to vaccinate sets off a whole lot more chaos a whole lot closer to home than the flapping of a butterfly's wings in China. "Responsibility for oneself is in truth responsibility with respect to the man, and that means responsibility with respect to mankind," writes theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. And in that light, what could be less responsible than an adult making a choice that deliberately puts children at risk?  

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Light of my life, fire of my loins

As promised, a report on the opinion writing/blogging class' response to Lester Bangs' Humbert-Humbert-on-meth-and-Everclear (banned book Lolita being the source of today's title) devotional to Anne Murray

1) The question, to respond to one comment, was not whether students in 2009 would know who Linda Lovelace was (the question never arose, so to speak) but whether they would know who Anne Murray was/is. For those who had never seen her infomercial or who didn't have parents for whom "Danny's Song" or "Snowbird" was required listening every fracking day, I was able to cross the great divide with the equation Anne Murray:1973 :: Celine Dion:2009. (I should add that I was immediately corrected by one student, who informed us all that Celine Dion was far more "sluttastic" than Anne Murray...a not insignificant point for the review.) (And I do intend to use the word "sluttastic" again.)

2) And, to respond to another comment, the words beginning the discussion were: "Is this a joke?" I'm not sure we ever answered the question to the asker's satisfaction, but the conversation was spirited. As I expected, opinions diverged wildly from those morbidly offended to those who thought it absolutely rocked, and from those who found it a sarcastic joke to those who thought that he reallio trulio liked the album. (Which he did.) (And, in the backatcha category, Murray reportedly loved the review.) 

3) The best comment, though, was from one woman who was less than enchanted with the review: "This couldn't get printed today!" (Hello, Banned Books Week!) And she was right, in a way that went beyond her initial intent. We had spent the previous half-hour looking at reviews from USA TodayRolling Stone, Blender and Spin, the longest of which was 240 words and the most stylistically daring of which didn't use lyrics. We also looked at an online review of M. Ward's latest CD that demonstrated fully the great weakness of online reviews: the lack of an editor. Just in the decade in which I've offered this course, the decline in the quantitative measure of reviews, to say nothing of the qualitative measure, has been like watching the print equivalent of The Biggest Loser. So to have Lester Bangs roll in from 35 years ago, coked to the gills and ready to shoot his wad, figuratively and literally, in a 900-word piece that makes Anne Murray ferchristssake an aural porn goddess was something far more jarring than just his language would suggest. 

4) We followed that review, which was published in Creem in 1973, with a Bangs review of Brian Eno's Before and After Science from the 1978 Village Voice. The response to this Bangs piece was pretty much meh -- an interesting and enlightening comment on the way in which the audience shapes the review and the power of the reviewer. You have to work a lot harder to convince an audience of 19-year-old Pete Townshend wannabes that Anne Murray is the real deal than you do to sell an audience of downtown hipster doofuses on Eno. That might be something those of us turning to the Interwebs as a medium should think about more carefully.