Category Archives: Kultcha

Wonderful Layered Short Story

Sleeper by Jo Walton at Tor.com crams in themes about dystopian spying, virtuality, how we create our pasts and our futures, and identity. All in just a few words.

When I grow up, I’d be happy to write something Jo Walton feels is worth re-reading.

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Take a Night Off

Gablesstage is running a special for students on Wednesday – $10 tickets to its 8pm performance of “Mothers and Sons” by Terrence NcNally. I saw the show this weekend and it’s good. Not the very best they’ve ever done (which is a very high bar) — the script is a little preachy in a couple of places — but very well acted, especially by Angie Radosh. Well worth seeing at full price, not to mention the discounted $30 on Wednesday, and at $10 for students it’s a steal.
Mothers-and-Sons
Apparently the special Wednesday performance is to make up for Friday’s being cancelled for Yom Kippur. So, take a break! We’re lucky to have such a fine theater in our neighborhood. Gablesstage is located in the Biltmore Hotel, although the actual entrance is around the side on the NE corner of the hotel. Skip the valet at the main entrance: Self-park for free in the main lot, then it’s a very short walk.

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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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