Category Archives: Kultcha

Only an Expert

Still very relevant today, Laurie Anderson’s Only an Expert (2010):

Warning: There are some pretty ugly, violent, and horrible images in this video. Brought to you by experts.

Posted in Kultcha, Politics: US, Torture | 1 Comment

Covers

I tend to like covers of songs that change or interpret it in some way, and tend not to like to covers that redo a song much in the way of the original. And I don’t mind a little weirdness if it makes you see a song in a new way.

Thus, for example, I’ve enjoyed some strange and wonderful covers of Eleanor Rigby (although many attempts are certainly very weird, and others intentionally awful), but didn’t much like Elton John’s very popular cover of Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, which I thought was too much like the original without adding anything or even being as good.

These are just tendencies. I’ve loved a number of covers of Al Green’s stunning Take Me to The River. I’m still not sure whether I prefer the original, the Talking Heads’ version, or Bryan Ferry’s even-more strangled-pop cool version. I think I heard the Talking Heads version first, but they each have something great.

All this is preamble and possibly apology for my enthusiasm for this cover of Lorde’s Royals. I like the original — I like the whole album — and I’m prepared to argue that one of the measures of great pop today is that it spawns great covers. Well, as far as I’m concerned, case closed. (Spotted via Crooked Timber; At the risk of undermining myself, I will add I was underwhelmed by the also CT-endorsed Royals cover by Mayer Hawthorne.)

Care to share your favorite cover?

Posted in Kultcha | 8 Comments

Space Derivations (Odd)

The internets are going nuts over this stunning video remake of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, recorded by Commander Chris Hadfield on board the International Space Station.

It’s a visually stunning video, a fun idea, the law prof discussion about the copyright implications of creating a derivative work in space have been loads of fun … but I still can’t help but think that Commander Hadfield’s revisions (made for understandable reasons) took out the sting that made the original song so great back in the early ’70s when they just didn’t play stuff like that on the radio.

But wait. It seems that the canonical version isn’t even the original! In hunting for the version I of the song I knew, I found this subtly weird, and in one place [circa 2:26] quite awful, version that is apparently part of an original 1969 video. I’ll stick with the ’70s version, thank you.

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Stuff that Doesn’t Exist (and Stuff that Does)

First we learn that 49% of the Republicans polled think ACORN stole the election for Obama and we also learn this great fact:

…most Americans don’t have an opinion about [Bowles/Simpson]. 23% support it, 16% oppose it, and 60% say they don’t have a take one way or the other.

The 39% of Americans with an opinion about Bowles/Simpson is only slightly higher than the 25% with one about Panetta/Burns, a mythical Clinton Chief of Staff/former western Republican Senator combo…

So both the long-defunct ACORN and the (as yet)non-existent Panetta/Burns plan weigh heavily on the low-information-voter mind.

Meanwhile, in the department of good cheer, BoingBoing points me to a band called Do Not Foresake Me Oh My Darling that has made a shot-for-shot remake of the classic intro to the The Prisoner.

I’m not in love with the music (the Leonard Cohen cover on their page is not a crime, but I never want to hear it again), but I love the concept of “Episode 1 – Arrival”.

I’d also like to hear a copyright scholar tell me if this is a legitimate derivative work, or a potential copyright violation. It’s clearly too much a labor of love to be a parody.

Posted in 2012 Election, Kultcha, Law: Copyright and DMCA | 4 Comments

How to Watch Star Wars (Herein of Film Ratings)

I am not a fan of any of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, but here’s a well-argued suggestion that someone watching the all the Star Wars films for the first time should watch them in Machete Order.

My own view, FWIW, is that the prequels are not redeemable. I find the Jar-Jar thing in Part I as unpleasant as the next guy, but where I seem to part company with the majority is Episode II. I though Episode II was downright repulsive: it invited the viewer to enjoy the spectacle of large numbers of people being mowed down in waves; that some were clones who may have lacked free will did not improve matters for me. There is nothing entertaining about wholesale slaughter, and I cannot sympathize with any film that presents it as a thing to cheer for.

I don’t watch modern war movies or ‘action’ films, although I do like spy thrillers. In general, I tend to avoid violent films, although I’m not religious about it. I remember enjoying Mad Max despite the violence (I saw it long before I learned about the personal characteristics of the star, which otherwise probably would have put me off it). More generally, I find the US movie rating system doesn’t work for me. If I were in designing a ratings system, I’d rate primarily on violence, and on psychological impact. That scene with Bilbo and the Ring in the first episode of Lord of the Rings could, I think, traumatize anyone. On the other hand, I don’t think in my ideal system the ratings would be much affected by “language”, and while I understand rating on sex, I think the ratings people are much too sensitive to nudity. The British film ratings system, while very far from perfect, seems better to me on these issues, at least insofar as they rate films for teens and tweens.

From my perspective, killing and maiming in film is much more upsetting, and child-unfriendly (not to mention adult-unfriendly!), than naked bodies. I suppose it’s just one more way in which I’m out of step with popular culture.

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Cornel West’s Bacon number is 2

So sayth Google. I know about this via Google introduces Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon search function in the Inquirer: Just type “Bacon number” followed by an actor’s name and you’ll find out what degree of separation they have from Kevin Bacon.

I still think we need something like this for law professors, only it would be a Lemley number, based on how many co-authors away you are from Mark A. Lemley.

Posted in Kultcha, Law School | 4 Comments

Better Hurry if You Want to See ‘Time Stands Still’ at the GableStage

One of the nicer things about living where I do is that there is a first-class regional theater less than 10 minutes away. If you live anywhere near Coral Gables and you don’t go regularly to GableStage, housed in an intimate space on the grounds of the Biltmore Hotel, you are missing out. It never ceases to amaze me when there are any empty seats – and it wasn’t quite a sellout at last night’s performance of Time Stands Still, a four-hander by Donald Margulies.

Joseph Adler, the play’s director and the general impresario of GableStage, is the Lebron James of regional theater – he’s so good that we risk getting spoiled. If Lebron scores only 26 points in a win, most fans don’t get excited. And there might be a similar risk with a very fine production like Time Stands Still which doesn’t quite reach the extraordinarily high standard set by this season’s earlier productions such as John Logan’s Red and Stephen Adly Gurgis’s The MotherF**ker with the Hat (which Terry Teachout said was better than Broadway’s version) but remains a very good night out at the theater. The run ends June 3rd so you don’t have many chances left to enjoy it.

This is a very solid production, lit up by a perfectly tuned performance by Betsy Graver as the seemingly gormless Mandy Bloom who, by the end of the play, may be the closest thing it has to a moral center – or maybe just a moral. Deborah Sherman is also very good as she inhabits Sarah Goodwin, the injured war photographer who is the story’s main protagonist. GableStage regular Gregg Weiner gets to play a lower-key role than has been his usual, Sarah’s friend and photo editor Richard Erlich, and as usual makes the most of what he’s got. Steven Garland has in some way the hardest job in this play as James Dodd, Sarah’s long-term boyfriend, and I still can’t decide what it was about him that made me wonder if he was quite right for the part; he has a certain softness that on the one hand works for someone shell-shocked, who wants some calm if not outright escapism, but on the other hand doesn’t seem to fit his backstory as a veteran war reporter. The dramatic engine in the story is the tension between James’s desire to settle down a bit and Sarah’s drive to overcome her injuries and get back on the horse of disaster journalism. We’re teased with hints of one work-related problem of James’s that turns out not to exist, and blindsided with another personal problem that the characters seem to work through, only to be confronted with something harder to compromise.

To the extent there is a fault in this production it is, I think, primarily in the script, which has some issues towards the end – yes, even if it got a Tony nomination on Broadway. While Sarah and Richard are re-working their relationship (against the backdrop of Mandy and Richard’s) the play examines the morality of doing ‘I am a camera’ journalism (rather than disaster relief), with a sideswipe at fluff journalism. Sarah’s flirtation with worry about her role as witness rather than helper seemed to me to be sudden and something out of character, although Ms. Sherman made the best of it that one could. And the very final scene, although completely believable, is nonetheless a bit abrupt.

But never mind. So Lebron didn’t score 40 points. It’s still a great thing to have a theater this good in our back yard.

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