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February 2009

A bullet dodged

Like its predecessor, this would have featured cool ships and robots, and crappy everything else. Behold! The promo trailer for the never-finished Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming:

Too Many Dicks

I’m so happy that the second season of Flight of the Conchords has finally arrived.

On the whole, it's even funnier this season, although the music is a bit iffier. I’m devoted and all, but I’m still waiting for a song I love quite as much as this one (and it's educational!):

Library data

Shamelessly, unoriginally ripped off from Norm:

Number of Songs: 18,812
Most Recently Played Song: Peaches & Herb, "Shake Your Groove Thing"
Most Played Song: Freeez, "I.O.U. (7" Version)"
Most Recently Added Album: The Eurythmics, We Too Are One

First Song Alphabetically: Ella Fitzgerald, "A-Tisket, A-Tasket"
Last Song Alphabetically: Brave Combo, "Zydeco Gumby Ya Ya"
Smallest Song Numerically: Wire, "1 2 X U"
Largest Song Numerically: The B-52's, "6060-842"

Shortest Song: The Beastie Boys, "Ask For Janice" (0:11)
Longest Song: The Sugar Hill Gang, "Rapper's Delight" (14:46)

First Album Alphabetically: The A to Z of British TV Themes From The Sixties and Seventies
Last Album Alphabetically: Alan Barratt, Zulu Nation Part 5
First Band Alphabetically: a-ha
Last Band Alphabetically: !!!

First Ten Songs That Pop Up On Shuffle:
Queen, "Dreamer's Ball"
Señor Coconut & His Orchestra, "Showroom Dummies"
The Brand New Heavies, "I Like It"
They Might Be Giants, "Stand on Your Own Head"
Depeche Mode, "Policy of Truth (Capitol Remix)"
James Brown, "Sex Machine"
The Explosions, "Hip Drop (Pt. 1)"
The Comunards, "So Cold the Night"
Fed Astaire & Ginger Rogers, "A Fine Romance"
The dB's, "Bad Reputation"

Genuine Imitations

If you're a type nut who will be in the London area on Thursday, 28 May, Matthew Carter is going to be giving a free lecture, "Genuine imitations: a type designer's view of revivals", at the St Bride Library.

Big Figgins

It may be free, but you still have to book a ticket in advance, so act now — the St Bride events have been selling out quite a lot lately. (Great for the library, a little frustrating for interested people who don't plan ahead.)

"A number of Matthew Carter's designs have been based on historical types: ITC Galliard, Big Caslon, Big Figgins, Miller and Vincent among them. Others, like Snell Roundhand and Mantinia, were derived from non-typographic sources from the past. In this lecture he explains his debt to the historical legacy — especially to the resources of St Bride's. His type revivals have varied in faithfulness to their models, which raises questions about the responsibilities of the continuator of traditional forms, about degrees of interpretation, adaptation to current technology, ancestor worship and travesty."

Update: All sold out now. Hopefully you acted fast and I'll see you there. Meanwhile, here's a nice article about Carter from the Washington Post (nothing new if you already know who he is, but it's nice), since it looks like he's doing a talk in DC next week (also sold out).

Louche decadence

As far as cultural commentary goes. I realize that I’m really grabbing at the low-hanging fruit to point out that Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch auction is a long-awaited glimpse at the sheer, unadulterated crazy that is the King of Pop's approach to life. The gallery of selected offerings scratches the surface of a story about questionable taste, obscene wealth, stunted maturity, and an attempt to keep reality at bay.

Michael Jackson's auction

The thing is, the story of the Yves Saint Laurent auction has a lot of parallel themes, although I’d venture to say Laurent's taste was infinitely better, and there's a very different vibe to an estate auction in comparison to a living person auctioning off the trappings of a chapter in his life he wants to forget. (And honestly, Michael, I can sympathize with that.)

Yves Saint Laurent auction

There's something very enticing about this description of Laurent's things from a photographer reviewing them: "I have an affinity for louche decadence, which is one of the things on view here," Pierson says. "There is a very opium-den quality -- all those tables full of objects one can peruse in a haze." It's less enticing to picture Jackson's "armour, display cases of custom-made crowns and an ornately carved throne with red velvet upholstering in his bedroom." However, reading about the two auctions made me feel a bit sad, and I saw some eerie parallels in the way two very different, very wealthy men seemed to rely on so much stuff to keep at bay an overwhelming world around them.

"The innumerable representations of serpents and birds that Saint Laurent amassed, symbols of an obsession with a natural world from which, toward the end of his life, he became increasingly removed" do not seem so altogether different from Jackson's infamous menagerie. "Saint Laurent was not the first person to apprehend that genius can often be a curse. Neither was he the first to withdraw from society, in all its disappointing dimensions, into the fixed and reassuring company of things." Also, clearly, he was not the last.

Et tu, Kim's?

I was immediately fascinated by this unusual story of how the entire collection of over 55,000 rental titles from the deservedly famous Kim's Video store has been packed up and shipped to Salemi, a small town in Siciliy that is trying to reinvent itself as a cultural haven. I saw the story late last night, and sent links to it to a couple of friends who might get a kick out of it: one a film buff I know here in the UK, the others good friends of mine who have also left New York after growing up there.

The thought of the Kim's collection stayed with me until the morning, although I couldn't quite put my finger on the reason why. I had never actually been a member of Kim's, and I was rarely a customer. The thing is, though, I always thought of it as a veritable museum of film, and I loved it just for being there. I loved the way the store was organized, grouping films by director or startlingly specific genres. I loved that they rented boldly pirated copies of obscure old and foreign works that weren't available for general release in New York. I loved that it was useful as an educational resource for me as a film lover as much as it was a store.

I think it was this last aspect that made it seem so perfect to the researcher in me that the collection was shipped off intact. Just knowing it exists somewhere as a body of work is soothing. It's obvious that Yongman Kim, founder of the store, is a true lover film, regardless of whatever he needs to do as a businessman to support himself. When he was realizing that Kim's could He promised to donate all the films without charge to anyone who would meet three conditions: Keep the collection intact, continue to update it and make it accessible to Kim's members and others."

My friend Mark wrote this morning and immediately put his finger on what was so resonant about all this for me. There's no point in paraphrasing when he summed it up so well, as always:

While there will always be pockets of NYC that resemble the NY of our teen years, in spirit, it seems a wholly different place to me. The most disconcerting thing is that the places that are relocating/shutting down now aren't just places I used to go, but places that I had identified as being uniquely of NY, but that is obviously no longer so.

It is amazing though that these things and places are being scattered around the world, and not simply ceasing to exist, as if confirming just how valuable these things are, but just no longer valuable to New York or New Yorkers.

The Party's Over

We lost another treasure this weekend, when 82-year-old Blossom Dearie passed away in her sleep. Blossom's music was a wonderful mixture of sadness and sweetness and mischief, but I’m very surprised that her Times obituary didn't mention the work that indelibly impressed her delicious voice onto a generation or two of American kids:

And here's one last treasure for you — an absolutely sublime duet with Lyle Lovett:

Time and Travel

If you can't spot the error in this scene from "Time Bomb", a 1978 episode of Wonder Woman, then I don't even know who you are anymore and clearly we have no future together after all.

Earth 2155

(Read the rest...)

Random wonderful things

I’ve been bedridden for days, so my already active trawling of the web has really gone off the charts. Here are a few gems that I feel compelled to share:

Let's sing that plucking song

I’d forgotten about this, and am very grateful that I stumbled across it again to distract me from my housebound boredom:

If you're dumbfounded, here's some background info.

Cold Comfort

And on the seventh day lukewarm water emerged from the tap of the kitchen sink for two minutes, making it slightly easier to wash the orange juice glasses. The flow of icy cold water then resumed to dash my faint hopes.

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