Archive for January, 2009

prelistening thoughts on Lil Wayne’s Rebirth

When rap-rock was very big while I was in high school, I didn’t like it, but it made sense to me why people were trying to make that music. I understood that rockers were getting something out of rap, even if that something is a little hard to put into words.

Rap-rock coming from rap artists used to get something from the borrowing too–because rock had better access to gravitas and authenticity.Additionally, appropriation for appropriation’s sake has always powered all versions of rap-rock as well.

But now, with a series of rap artists making “career changes” out of their experiments, I’m not exactly sure what they think they’re gaining. My little-thought hunch is that rap has become associated with a particular set of emotional expressions, and rock with another. When Kanye is sad about his mom, there’s still a triumphalist tinge about it, because his mom helped make him the big success he is today, and hip-hop is okay. It’s weird that a genre known for braggadocio and creative appropriation has become so rational-minded. When his emotion exceeds logic (like his ALL-CAPS blogging) he needs something else and turns to R&B, and electronic music.

Monday on TV

1. Last night’s Gossip Girl was promising, but also sloppy and repetitive. We’ve definitely seen this one before, regarding Serena and Dan, Chuck and Blair, and Rufus and Lily. What I liked about this episode were the small humorous asides (such as Chuck ventriloquizing his father: “Why do you wear so much purple?”) and the illustration of how a small online network like Gossip Girl can so easily make public what Lily and her mother endeavored so hard to cover up. Gossip Girl (the RSS feed) works so fast, that I’m growing attached to the idea that there’s no one at the helm–everyone is Gossip Girl.I also like the way that Serena’s initial fear becomes reality by the end of the episode, and how Nate’s words to Dan about friendship will become relevant to Chuck.

Complaints: If we can see through Chuck’s uncle so easily, why can’t he? Granted he’s sort-of mourning, but he’s far more cynical and distrustful than most of the show’s audience. Will Jenny ever stop being annoying? And if Rufus and Lily’s kid didn’t die, who was in the cut-out newspaper story?

Next week: an actual plot about school?

2. How I Met Your Mother was a marvel of construction last night. Did not care for the B plot, but the gang managed to turn a lackluster A (exes start sleeping together) into a workshop. I particularly love the sequence of cuts in the middle of the episode that go straight from Ted and Robin in bed, to Marshall discovering them (again) to the bar, to Barney picking out another tv and smashing it. Ted seemed to process what he learned about Barney pretty easily–we’ll have to wait to see if he actually approves of the idea.

The Thesis & its Form

I’m trying to finish a Master’s Thesis in American Studies this semester. The subject is word balloons, or to be more accurate, speech balloons. I’m writing about changes in design and usage in the speech balloon in 1890s cartoons, and their connection with ideas about sound, voice ownership, and populism. A second subject concerns how this blend of meanings affects discourse surrounding immigration in the urban U.S. I’m using R.F. Outcault’s “The Yellow Kid & his New Phonograph” as my main example.

I am currently settling on eight chapters of about 8-10 pages each. The idea is to treat the subject of each chapter in full, with each chapter building on the last.

Should look something like this:

1. The Newspaper

2. The caption vs. the balloon

3. Balloons and Bubbles

4. The Phonograph

5. The Parrot

6. Theoretical Interlude

7. The Chinese

8. The Public Scare

I’ll go into these individual chapters at a later time.

My favorite stuffs of 2008

These were my favorite things in the past year. You’ll notice a criminal lack of tv–I probably would’ve included the end of the Wire or Mad Men’s “The Jet Set” in a longer or separate list.

Continue reading ‘My favorite stuffs of 2008’

Obama’s shoe problem

Some recent photos in the Washington Post (which my mother gets on the weekends) aroused reader ire. It turns out that Barack Obama uses the wrong kind of shoe to play basketball in. I don’t know much about athletic shoes, so consider this a request for information. What are the differences between running, cross-training, and basketball shoes? More ankle support in the latter?

Second RFI: does the president have a First Personal Trainer? Is it out of pocket, or an administrative position?

I was born blogging, I came up blogging, and when I’m gonna die I’m gonna die blogging

This is my new blog, which at least at first will be devoted to my thesis, currently under construction. It will also serve as a storehouse of thoughts.


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