So, it’s been nearly six months…

There have been reasons; most of them technical, actually. I still need to clear up one of them before returning to certain parts of the schedule on here, so in the meantime, please direct your attention to some of my top-quality crap.

…and here, have some shopping music:

[DJ RJ's ModCast] I Want a Cold Cold Christmas

If you’ve been reading the last few years, I make a post of Winter Holiday/X-Mas music every year —yes, I acknowledge that, as a polytheist, this might seem a tad weird, but as a fag who has an unholy love of anything with glitter on it, I’m sure it makes some amount of sense.

 

H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society – “Have Yourself a Scary Little Solstice”
Stephen Colbert – “A Cold, Cold Christmas”
Judge Dread – “Jingle Bells”
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy – “Is Zat You Santa Claus?”
Prince & the Revolution – “Another Lonely Christmas (12in version)”
Shonen Knife – “Space Christmas”
The Sonics – “I Don’t Believe In Christmas”
Blur – “Wassailing Song”
Ed Kuepper – “Little Fiddle (and the Ghost of Christmas Past)”
Suicide – “Hey Lord”
Ivy – “I Hate December”
Jacques Dutronc – “la Fille de Pere Noel”
John Cale – “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”
Laura Nyro – “Christmas In My Soul”
Mazzy Star – “Flowers In December”
Cristina – “Things fall Apart”
Rudolf Nureyev & Miss Piggy = “Baby It’s Cold Outside”

“What [science alone] lacks is the larger existential ‘why,’…”

from “An Open Letter to Atheists” by PSV Lupus

And, I think this is one area in which a greater number of people–religious or not–are coming to a better and more useful understanding in accord with much of what I’ve written above. Science and religion can be understood as “non-overlapping magisteria,” which is to say, they need not be considered to be in conflict with one another, and their best applications might be in entirely different areas of life and our understandings of the universe. Science is an excellent method via which to understand the facts of the universe, what makes it up, and how it functions, and the modern findings of biology, chemistry (which is at the basis of biology), and physics (which is at the basis of chemistry) all provide a very good working model of the “how” of existence as we experience it. What it lacks is a larger existential “why,” which is much more appropriate to human endeavors involving the imagination and the boundless possibilities in creativity, including art, religion, and philosophy. Likewise, religion is an excellent system for giving options to humans in terms of what ultimate values are and where these are located, what narratives are the most appealing explanations for the great unknowns of human experience, and how one relates to others, to oneself, and to the wider cosmos–in essence, any and all things which might be considered concerns regarding the meaning(s) of life, which can never be answered objectively and once-and-for-all. This is the realm not of facts, but of truths, which are always contextual and limited in their application, though profound and powerful for those who perceive them in particular manners appropriate to their positions. As long as religion does not suggest that it is a superior source of facts about existence (e.g. creation myths, etiologies for certain phenomena, etc.), then there is no conflict between science and religion. And, indeed, I suspect you’ll find that most of the conflicts between science and religion that have occurred in the last 1600 years, as well as more recently (and which still rage in some regions of the U.S. and elsewhere!) are situations in which certain individuals have not understood that their religious truths are not scientific facts.

As I’ve noted here and elsewhere, like many within the Modern Jazz set, I take a bit from Existentialism, even Absurdism, but where I’m at odds with many 20th and 21st Century Existentialists is I am not an Atheist. Which is why I’m more likely to cull quotes from Kierkegaard than from Sartre, even though I’m also (very clearly) not a Christian. PSVL, an acquaintence (maybe friend?) of mine from the polytheistic pagan community pretty much does a great job with this letter of not only addressing eir1 own concerns to whatever self-identified Atheists may pass it by, but also manages to overlap greatly with many of my own thoughts, to the extent that it is indeed hard for me to say where eir own thoughts on the subject end and my own begin.


1: Not a typo, please read eir “Note On Pronouns

The Ad Game

What this song has to do with lip balm, i have no idea, but hey, it’s quite a treat in the middle of reruns of Will & Grace. And hey, if I wasn’t only barely halfway through a minipot of Vaseline Cocobutter Lip Therapy, it totally would’ve sold me (as I said to the cashier at Target earlier in the week, i have absolutely no shame about using Ladies antiperspirant or body wash –or shoes, hey, if they fit and are good enough for Prince).

And I really want to thank you for dancin’ til the end….

Not that this is the end of this blog, and likely not my last post here of 2013.

For reasons that should be brutally obvious to anyone who doesn’t believe (erroneously, mind) that Soul and R&B stopped being relevant to Mod after 1968, I just love Janelle Monaé and just as much as her music, I’m just fascinated by this retro-futurist ArchAndroid concept / mythology that she’s created with her first EP and two subsequent LPs, the most recent being The Electric Lady. In interviews, she’s said as much as the “android” in this series of (currently five) Suites, being a metaphor for the disenfranchised –people of colour, queers, women, the underclasses, and so on…. And to get the full experience of this, you really need to listen to her music, in its entirety, beginning to end, and watch the videos on YouTube, or as Monae says, you’re only cheating yourself.

Modernist Library: Blue Monday vol. 2 – Absolute Beginners

img338Title: Blue Monday: Absolute Beginners (plus webisode scripts)
Script: Chynna Clugston-Major (edited by Jamie S. Rich; intro to webiside scripts by Rich)
Illustration: Chynna Clugston-Major
Published: Oni Press, 2001; (original comic book miniseries, 2001)

You know, for some reason, I just didn’t like this increment in the Blue Monday series as much as i liked The Kids Are Alright. In general, the quality of the story structure is just as good, like like the fact that she’s developing the other characters a little more, and even introducing new ones, but here are the main issues i have with this:

The general plot for this installment is “Bleu gets humiliated by the boy who likes her”. OK, for a high-school setting and dramady, but the specifics are something I find kind of beyond the pale. As it’s such a central thing to this four-part book, I doubt it’s going to count as a “spoiler” to anyone who doesn’t expect a complete blank-slate for their stories, so I’m just going to say it: Alan and Victor, the primary supporting male characters in TKAA, covertly take a video of Bleu getting undressed and taking a bath, and quickly spread it around the school. Now, OK, this is set in the early 1990s, before even tame staples of childhood, like the naked-on-a-bearskin-rug photos of us as infants were considered “child porn”, much less a more-or-less fully-developed fifteen / sixteen-year-old young woman, who just happens to still be in high school, and since Alan and Victor are in her class, there’s no “pedo factor”, but for hell, this is just ineffably creepy on so many levels, and I can’t really get into it played for comedy in the way that it has been. Now, how the video incident played out, i can totally see within the realm of believability for 15-20-year-olds (I mean, hell, I did something similar in New Dance), but I dunno, maybe I’ve seen too much SVU lately to see the comedy in this sort of thing (at least when I did a similar thing, it played for drama).

I’m also pretty unfond of the character development for Erin O’Neill (who finally has a surname) morphing from The Good Bad Girl into a Bitch in Sheep’s Clothing. While it certainly lends to drama, this is not only a development I’ve seen several times before (and for clearer reasons than we’re given in this volume), it’s a development that’s pretty predictable at this point, and honestly, this was a character that I wanted to like as I was reading the first book.

While I like the new character of Rissa, she’s just sort of sprang on readers and feels less fleshed out that Erin was in the first volume; aside from how she’s drawn, we know pretty much nothing about her personality other than that she likes football (soccer, to Americans). Now, Ms Clugston addresses this, humorously, in a filler comic at the end of the fourth chapter, which is a nice touch.

Another positive is the “mini comics” in the margins. Having never seen this in anything but GN form, I assume at least some of these were added for the compilation into graphic novel, as there’s an “aside” about Clugston mislabelling a song by The Beat as being by General Public that lasts several pages, to much amusement. When the next edition comes out, she needs to point out that she misspelled “Dexys Midnight Runners” on a t-shirt Clover wears as “Dexy’s Midnight Runners” –no, seriously, there’s no apostrophe.

I was also really enamoured with the introduction of Seamus, a pwcca taking the form of a six-foot-tall otter and who is apparently only visible to Bleu and clover, though he can clearly interact materially and psychically with other characters, even though they can’t see him. Again, I’ve done something similar in Peacocks & Fairies, so this not only serves as a reminder to crack down on myself and schedule in more writing time, but now I’ve got confidence that this sort of thing has appeal to more people than myself (which is a nice thing for a writer trying to stay in booze money to learn).

So yeah, in structure and development, it holds up as well as the previous book, but I didn’t like Clugston’s decision to play a borderline-assault for comedy, and I was disappointed with her character development choices for Erin. I would’ve rated about a full target higher if not for the video incident. It happens.

Upcoming reviews for the Modernist Library

I’ve been getting quite a few books (maybe about half of which are graphic novels) backed up on my reading list, and with a few exceptions, I want to get to them before I get any more books –DVDs and records are another story. So (in no particular order), I will be reading and reviewing in the upcoming weeks:

Clugston, Chynna — Blue Monday vol 2: Absolute Beginners
Clugston, Chynna — Blue Monday vol 3: Inbetween Days
Clugston, Chynna — Blue Monday vol 4: Painted Moon
Douglas, Norman — Venus in the Kitchen
Fitzgerald, F Scott — The Great Gatsby (a re-read since, damn, high school, at least)
Fitzgerald, F. Scott – Tender Is the Night
Fitzgerald, F Scott – This Side of Paradise
Fitzgerald – The Beautiful & the Damned
Fitzgerald, F Scott – The Collected Short Stories of
Rich, Jamie S. — The Everlasting
Rich, Jamie S. — Cut My Hair
Rich, Jamie S. — Have You Seen The Horizon Lately?
Rich, Jamie S. — Love the Way You Love vol 1
Rich, Jamie S — Love the way You Love vol 2
Gillen & McKelvie — Phonogram 1: Rue Britannia
Gillen & McKelvie — Phonogram 2: The Singles Club
Spencer, Gane & Stewart –The Vinyl Underground 1: Watching the Detectives
Spencer, Gane & Kelly –The Vinyl Underground 2: Pretty Dead Things
Wilde, Oscar — The Picture of Dorian Grey (Yes, I’ve already read this, but haven’t re-read it for at least seven years)
Wilde, Edginton & Culbard — The Picture of Dorian Grey: A Graphic Novel
Jonsson, Matts — Hey Princess
Brite, P.Z. — Plastic Jesus
MacInnes, Colin — Absolute Beginners (yes, another re-read)
MacInnes, Colin — Mr Love & Justice
MacInnes, Colin — England, Half English
MacInnes & Fieger — London: City of Any Dream
Priestley, J. B. — It’s An Old Country
Unsworth, Cathi — Bad Penny Blues
Reed, Jeremy — Here Come the Nice
Reed, Jeremy — King of Carnaby Street: A Life of John Stephen
Buhle, Paul — The Beats: A Graphic History
Kray, Ron — My Story
The Krays (Reg & Ronald) — Our Story
Hulanicki – From A to Biba: The Autobiography of Barbara Hulanicki
Ross, Geoffrey Aquilana – Day of the Peacock: Style for Men 1963-1973
Banis, Victor J. — The Why Not
Home, Stewart — Tainted Love

And after that, maybe get on to a summer of Camus? Other things I hope to eventually include are my Jarman books (I basically have all of them, if you don’t count his published film scripts), Quentin Crisp, the Nureyev biography I have, some Tom Wolfe, Warhol, …..

[Modcast 2013-10-14] Songs Without Moustaches

 

Lee Hazlewood – “You Look Like a Lady”
Tom Jones – “Stop Breakin’ My Heart”
The Asteroids Galaxy Tour – “Gold Rush Part 1 / Dollars In the Night / Gold Rush Part 2″
Thee Mighty Caesars – “69 Seconds”
Television Personalities – “I Was a Mod Before You Was a Mod”
Otis Spann – “I’m Ready”
Liz Brady – “Palladium”
Cal Tjader – “Soul Motion”
The Ups and Downs – “In the Shadows”
The Jetset – “The Man Who Lives Upstairs”
Long Tall Shorty – “Falling For You”
Neils Children – “Get Away From Me, Now”
The Chantalles – “I Want That Boy”
Booker T & the MG’s – “Hang ‘Em High”
Manual Scan – “New Difference”
Makin’ Time = “Honey (Fast version)”
Jacques Dutronc – “les Cactus”
Style Council – “The Whole Point of No Return”
Tom Waits – “More Than Rain”

———–
I know what you’re thinking and nope, sorry, Hazlewood released the album that one is on after demoustaching. I know, I know, it seems wrong to me, too, Lee hazlewood without a mustache, but it happened and we don’t talk about it.

While I have you here, today only, I have a coupon code for my Etsy shop. In theory, it’s a Tumblr exclusive, but this gets cross-posted to there, anyway, so go check it out. ☺

The Ad Game: Heineken “The Date”

Alright, the music on this one (“Jaan Pehechaan Ho” by Mohammed Rafi) feels a bit more “Jazz Age” (as in the 1920s) than “60s Modernist”, but the visuals and vague “plot” in this installation of Heineken’s series with bands feels very Casino Royale and farcical. It was definitely storyboarded and directed by someone who has a genuine love of the famous Bond parody, and the more Absurdist qualities of the canon Bond films, as well as other mid-to-late 1960s farces. For this reason alone, I find it superior to The Entrance and The Switch, which feel far more general as an homage to a style and genre rather than a clear send-up of something more specific.

This one even has a “making of” short, available on the HeinekenUSA YouTube: