28 February 2009

What's his name? Patches?

I love Demetri Martin.

This from his new TV series, Important Things with Demetri Martin. It's on Comedy Central Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m. Watch it.

17 February 2009

Things I Like RIGHT NOW

Feed The Animals by Girl Talk – I’ve always heard amazing things about musical-collage artist Gregg Gillis a.k.a. Girl Talk, but I hadn’t gotten around to listening to him until recently. I just downloaded his latest album (available here); thankfully, he lives up to the hype. His “songs” – mash-ups that combine dozens of unlicensed samples – are a music nerd’s dream. Not only does Girl Talk produce hits as dance-worthy as the latest Beyoncé track, but he’s also creating a musical artifact of sorts – a catalogue of what’s hot in music. Each moment is meticulously worked and spliced. It’s a bit heady at times, but its beats have a mass appeal that is undeniable. Is Girl Talk the future of pop music? If so, I wouldn’t be too disappointed.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro – It’s been quite some time since I’ve been as moved by a work of contemporary fiction as I was by Ishiguro’s gentle and emotional masterpiece. A universal tale of lost childhood and wistful remembrance, Never Let Me Go is simultaneously a slow-burning reflection on the past and the fleeting nature of life and a compelling page-turner that will have you wondering what is ahead from the first page. Ishiguro has an amazing mastery of these two modes of narration. The power, passion and emotion with which the reader emerges upon completing this novel are unrivaled in this modern era. It is a must read, and I can’t wait to see what Ishiguro comes up with next.

Slumdog Millionaire by Danny Boyle – I know this one’s a bit overplayed, and it might be just at the moment of receiving too much praise to the point that it has become overrated, but I greatly enjoyed the movie-watching experience that Danny Boyle created with his most recent film. Sure it’s all a bit chanceful and the highs are too high for the lows which are too low, but I found it to be a both a great bildungsroman and a spot-on commentary on films, filmmaking and the modern spectator. Boyle gave the spectator exactly what he wants to see and made a great movie, i.e. a series of moving images, music, characters and story that pleases. Recently, I’ve seen a lot of movies that would make great books or plays but fail to measure up to the medium. Plus, how could I deny my love for a movie that uses M.I.A.’s music so aptly (even if she’s Sri Lankan).

“O…Saya” A. R. Rahman & M.I.A.

09 February 2009

M.I.A., the Grammys and Hip Hop's Boys' Club

To continue my Grammy life lessons, let's discuss what they have taught be about the gender gap in hip hop:

Although I obviously didn’t actually get to watch the broadcast of the real show, I just caught the “Swagga Like Us” performance on YouTube. I am thoroughly amazed and impressed by M.I.A.’s gusto in killing it on stage even at nine-months pregnant. Unfortunately, I am incredibly disappointed that she was not even able to get out the whole chorus of her own song! When I heard she would be performing, I realized that they probably wouldn’t give her the respect that she deserves. But I at least figured they would let her get in a bit of her song before the “Swagga Like Us” parade of hip-hop’s finest showed up.

I know the Grammys were excited to have the likes of Kanye West, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne and T.I. on stage together, but as much as I love them all, I’m disappointed that they continue to co-opt M.I.A.’s amazing track without giving her the credit she deserves as an M.C. and an artist.

This performance is a perfect representation of the boys' club that is hip hop. So I guess I’m just proud that Maya was able to be up there to represent.

Musique: "Swagga Like Us" Jay-Z & T.I. feat. Kanye West & Lil Wayne

Life Lessons from the Grammy Pre-show

Things I learned from the Grammy Awards Pre-telecast:

1) Ne-Yo’s songs are written by a pair of lanky Scandinavian guys, who could very well pass as Bond villains.

2) Don’t accept an award for someone else or the Grammys will get pissy with you.

3) Unless Black Thought gives his approval, in which case they will let is slide, but don’t get cocky and try it a second time or they’ll get pissy again and let the robotic-sounding woman who reads the nominees cut you off.

4) Carrie Underwood is NOT Blair Underwood’s cousin.

5) Heavy D, who was both a nominee and a performer, is still alive.

6) Static Major, who appeared on Lil Wayne’s hit “Lollipop,” apparently is not.

7) The Blind Boys of Alabama are indeed blind (actually, I think this one is cheating because I believe I learned this a couple years ago at the Grammys, but it’s the kind of thing that needs reminding).

8) Daft Punk is a “he,” but Duffy is a “they.”

9) No matter how many times she does it, it will still be hilarious to hear robotic-sounding lady say “swagga.”

10) Who actually shows up to this thing includes the random selection of: Carrie Underwood, the bassist from Metallica and The Mars Volta.

Also, Danger Mouse got snubbed; he had an infinitely better year that Rick Rubin.

Musique: “Lost!” Coldplay

06 February 2009

Photo of the Day


Stare down: European Commission President José Manuel Barroso (left) and Vladimir Putin each criticize the other for failing to respect human rights.

Retrieved at: http://www.lemonde.fr/europe/article/2009/02/06/poutine-souhaite-que-les-observateurs-de-l-ue-restent-en-ukraine-au-moins-jusqu-en-mars_1151937_3214.html.

05 February 2009

Official Smith College Rant

It’s odd that since I’ve been abroad and, thus, away from Smith, I’ve become more away of the things about Smith that repulse me. You would think that being away from the college would make me nostalgic for the things I love about it, but it’s only given me more perspective to reflect on the elements of Smith that I’m not so fond of. This is not to say that I’m not at least partly excited to return back there for my senior year, but I have to confess that I am glad it’s only one more year.

There are certainly many great things about Smith. I’ve had a number of amazing professors and classes. Their French department is outstanding. This JYA program is one of the best. And despite what I may say about Smithies, I have met a lot of great people.

But I can’t help but think about how things would have been different somewhere else. Although I’m not completely regretful of the last three years of my life, I am almost positive that if given the chance to choose again I would not have chosen Smith.

To be fair, in this hypothetical situation, I would not choose a women’s college at all. Before I went to Smith, I wasn’t opposed to the idea of single-sex education, but I wasn’t all gung-ho about the women’s college aspect either. I figure that going to Smith was a way to allow me to go to the best college I could get into and that I could afford (thanks to financial aid).

Now, I am beginning to doubt the relevancy of single-sex education. Coming out of high school, where I had been taught by predominantly male instructors and was one a few females in my higher level math and science classes, I was excited at the prospect of tipping the balance at Smith. But I quickly grew tired of the equally skewed worldview that Smith had to offer. Constantly reading texts by and about women is boring and patronizing. As far as I am aware, women still only represent 50 percent of the population; continually framing classes around women is as equally exclusive as – if not more exclusive than – the male-dominated history we are trying to correct. What’s more, this assumption that these are the texts that would speak to us, that we would inherently enjoy and understand, is, as I said, patronizing.

Everything does not have to be framed in the cadre of gender roles and norms. It’s a bit frustrating – and equally unrealistic. In the real world, people do not spend their time sitting around reflecting on our differences like this. In a career, the philosophical reflection of the gender gap and women’s roles in the workplace doesn’t matter. NO ONE CARES. It’s only us at women’s colleges who sit around musing on these things over and over. Yes, women have been oppressed; yes, women at times face difficult challenges; yes, the list goes on; but ruminating on it the way we do at Smith only makes these divides greater and creates an us-against-them mentality. Suddenly every man out there in the real world is a secret chauvinist, fighting to uphold the patriarchy. We’re simply weaving a web of paranoia. It’s ridiculous.

Not to mention the social element of an environment filled with overly dramatic, cliquey females, grasping onto the high-school, popularity-contest culture in which they thrived. The whole thing is unbearably drama filled.

Smith is made up of an odd assortment of various self-selected groups. My *favorite* are the East-Coast elite/wannabes, clinging to Smith’s historic “women’s ivy” status (often because they didn’t get in to Harvard, Yale or Brown). I know those individuals don’t constitute all of Smith, but they do seem to be everywhere you turn.

Maybe it’s the East-Coast thing that’s just not right for me or maybe it’s something special about Smith, but either way I never realized how out of place I would feel as a student on major financial aid among a crowd of rich girls.

And the bureaucracy of the institution that is “Smith College” adds another whole layer of frustration. The college is full of its own history and own false sense of self-worth. In the majority of the country the phrase “Smith College” means very little, but while on campus, they would have you believe that those two magic words bear a burden of history and tradition that is perhaps not even rivaled by Oxford. Surely I exaggerate, but they would have you believe that “Smith College” magically opens doors. It’s not true. I’m not really sure if it ever was true; the college has simply become deluded by its own faux power.

With all that being said, I don’t really know how different things would be anywhere else. Obviously, I have no counter-experience with which to compare it. And despite all this, I don’t think these last three years have been a waste. It’s all part of a greater experience that is life, and part of the fun of it is that you can’t do it over again, even though counterfactuals are inevitable – and fun.

I’d just been thinking about all of that lately…

Musique: "Anthems For a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl" Broken Social Scene

02 February 2009

Formula for Pop Perfection

I just have to comment that Beyoncé has it right:

Bass + hi-hat + 808 + Jay = Pop Perfection

Musique: “Deja Vu” Beyoncé feat. Jay-Z