fjb, local currency: solo 1992-1998 (fayettenam)

the human hearts, civics (tight ship)

the human hearts on myspace

nothing painted blue, taste the flavor (shrimper)

info on older band and solo work; I have no idea who compiled the scarily complete discographies

free music, discography, etc. here

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10.30.2006 craze/anyway

Cyndi Lauper's She's So Unusual would make a great subject for a 33 1/3 volume. Won't happen, but possible angles would include: videogeneity; the "rock and wrestling connection"; Madonna v. Cyndi as a rehearsal for Britney v. Cristina -- not in all ways, but at least in being an earlier instance of the studio-creation/singer-with-chops false opposition. I'd be particularly interested in knowing how the album's outside material was chosen: "She Bop" (which, strangely, just came on the radio here) and "Time After Time" are co-writes with song doctors, but the album also made serious coin for three up-to-that-point marginal new wavers: Robert Hazard ("Girls..."), Tom Gray of The Brains ("Money Changes Everything"), and Jules Shear of the videoless Jules and the Polar Bears ("All Through The Night," from one of Shear's solo albums, slightly predated The Bangles' tense-challenged "If She Knew What She Wants"). On the other hand, "He's So Unusual," regendered to refer to the singer herself for the album title, was a 1929 hit for Helen Kane, the singer who put the "boop-boop-a-doop" in "I Wanna Be Loved By You," thus establishing the singing style Lauper ably updated -- and prefiguring her drift toward the sort of standard-bearing of which J-Hova is not fond.

norman, ok


what to do for puh-leasure

Having known too many non-entities hiding underneath that haircut, I am less than ideally susceptible to the mystique of Louise Brooks. That said, I would have enjoyed Kirsten Dunst in Marie Antoinette (2006, Sofia Coppola) more were there a stronger effect of slippage between character and player, as evidenced by Brooks' (non)-performance in Prix de beaute (1930, Augusto Genina). She barely even acts as though she is acting; one can sense that Brooks, as much or more than the typist-cum-pageant-winner she portrays, is at least enjoying the attention, as much as the clothes. (If you don't believe me, watch the central beauty contest sequence; it's shot (by eventual Gilda cinematographer Rudolf Mate) newsreel-style in what might well be a bullring, the promenade ringed by a mob of extras enticed to participate in the scene, I'm guessing, by the prospect of seeing the then-notorious Pandora/lost girl of her films with Pabst the previous year.)

Beyond that, Coppola's more-than-watchable confection seems likely (and perhaps even intended) to be experienced as exactly as sophisticated, critical, multivalent as the viewer at hand. For my part, I enjoyed the few sentences of Rousseau read out en plein air, already pre-critiqued by Jon King and the Gang in the credit sequence; and Bow Wow Wow's cover of Johnny Mercer and Rube Bloom's "Fools Rush In," remixed by Kevin Shields to highlight the inadequacy of Annabelle Lwin's voice. I'd be interested to compare this version with Old Hollywood's, which I've never seen. Marie Antoinette (1938, W.S. Van Dyke) was a Thalberg prestige project for Norma Shearer, also filmed on location at Versailles (albeit partly, not "entirely," as per the current film's credits.) Robert Morley plays the Dauphin in that one; here, it's Jason Schwartzman, nearly redeeming himself for I Heart Huckabees with an in-on-the-joke charmlessness that somehow manages not to annoy. Neither Morley or Schwartzman is likely to make me forget Maynard Holmes, who plays the same personage in Madame DuBarry (1934, William Dieterle), rather wonderfully, as an overfed infant, a sort of bewigged Harry Langdon.

[Note: Please excuse me for not putting in appropriate accent marks, especially while posting from the road.]

rollo, mo


lone making

Who else asks so civilly that differences be taken lightly before letting fly with the zingers?


"just about fiction"

I can't figure out the purpose of the following exchange, which took place last Saturday --

Young Man with Clipboard outside Amoeba: Can I ask you a few questions?

Me [defenses down, for some reason]: OK.

YMCOA: Do you ever read fiction?

Me: I've been known to.

YMCOA: What genres do you read?

Me: I guess I mostly read contemporary and classic "literary" fiction. [Not exactly accurate, and I'm not sure I've named a genre, but it seemed like the answer that would make the most sense.]

YMCOA: Any mysteries, science-fiction, things like that?

Me: Some science fiction, off and on, that's about it.

YMCOA: What attracts you to science fiction?

Me: Oh, I grew up with it, so every so often I check something out -- not as much as when I was a kid. [Again, there's a longer/better answer, but I'm not feeling that I need to bring my A game.]

YMCOA [consulting his script]: Do you know why the '30s and '40s are called the Golden Age of Science Fiction?

Me: Because pulps like Astounding and Amazing were in their heyday, and writers like Asimov and Heinlein were establishing the genre's conventions.

YMCOA: All right! What do you think of L. Ron Hubbard?

Me [penny dropping, rueful smile]: I think he was a respectable fiction writer, but I'm not at all interested in Scientology.

YMCOA [also w/ odd smile]: It's okay, this interview is just about fiction. So, have you read anything by him?

Me: Probably some of his old short stories, a long time ago, but not Battlefield: Earth or anything recent.

YMCOA: All right -- thank you for your time.


next phase/new wave

[Per rental car conversation with Jordan and Ali.]

Billy Joel's "Allentown" could be an XTC song: the role and placement of a wordless vocal-line, the elaborate-if-you-notice-them chord sequences, the representational percussion (as in "Paper and Iron" from Black Sea, with the common source being Hugo & Luigi's production of Sam Cooke's "Chain Gang.") Also noted: this and several other of his hits ("Don't Ask Me Why," for one) are structured so that the instrumental break falls over the music of the bridge. It's perhaps the unrockness of this device, along with the very transparency of Joel's anxieties, that keeps "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me" from cheesing me off the way "That Old Time Rock and Roll" always has, always will. Even though he's presented himself, not all that convincingly, as a rocker when it's suited him, he has little interest in even the representation of abandon, and his craft values are largely pre-rock, or at least melody-first, like Paul McCartney's. His lyrics often compromise naturalness of expression in order not to distort the tune with extra syllables. (The solutions typically involve mixed metaphor.) All of which goes some way toward explaining why his songs, good and bad, might not be unendurable transferred to a theatrical context -- whereas I have a hard time imagining Dylan's being anything but.


"Do Re Me No Farcicality Do."

-- Ann Quinn, Three (1966)


positivism ho!

In the face of recent popular expositions of "the emerging science of sex differences" by Leonard Sax and Louann Brizendine (extensively debunked by Mark Liberman at Language Log), one might imagine that a certain style of biological (these days, neurobiological) determinism is the sole province of those whose conservative social views attract them to the delusion that the contingencies of difference have their basis in some substratum of immutable, non-historical fact. But the following talk -- the invitation to which I have no idea why I receieved -- suggests otherwise [boldface mine]:

Kilian Garvey, Ph.D, "A Neuropsychological Exploration of Creationist and Evolutionary Beliefs"

Thursday, October 26th, 2006; 6 p.m. University of New England, University Campus, 11 Hills Beach Road, Biddeford, ME 04005. St. Francis Room, Ketchum Library. Free and open to the public.

Description: More than seventy-five years after the famous Scopes trial, the battle between evolutionists and creationists continues to rage in the United States. Why is it that the theory of evolution by natural selection, arguably the strongest theory in the history of science, generates so much skepticism and suspicion? Perhaps science can go some way towards answering this question. In this presentation, I will use a number of psychological and neuroanatomical studies to explore possible reasons for this. I will suggest that there are at least two neuropsychological attributes that lead some people to form an incomplete assessment of evolutionary theory: (1) a relatively inefficient interaction between the two hemispheres of the brain due to differences in the corpus callosum, the band of nerve tissue that connects them, and (2) an overactive sympathetic ('fight or flight') nervous system that results in a false sense of danger. Along the way, we will consider a range of phenomena including right- and left-handedness, right-wing authoritarianism, the tolerance of ambiguity, the need for cognition, the need for cognitive closure, the emotions of fear and disgust as we explore the cognitive styles and motivational needs of creationists.