Earlier this year, Merlin’s Nose Records — a label specializing in “60’s Psychedelic Rock, weird Acid Folk and shamanistic Pagan Folk” — reissued In Gowan Ring’s psychedelic folk classic The Glinting Spade (which was originally released by Bluesanct in 1999, read my review) on ultra-heavy vinyl. This, following a tour in support of the reissue. Anyways, listen to my favorite track from the album below.
“A Bee At The Dolmen's Dell” is a fine summary of everything that I like about B’eirth’s music: delicate, otherworldly instrumentation, dreamlike vocals, and cryptic lyrics (e.g., “The broken heart laughing, fold into figure, woven on sylvan shells/The saints and the sentries, with tassel and withy, a bee at the dolmen’s dell”). It may be tempting to write this stuff off as Renaissance Faire fodder, but there’s something wierd and wild and wonderful about B’eirth’s music that makes it impossible to dismiss so easily.
Community's fourth season has come and gone, and as much as it pains me to say it, I had hoped it was the end for the show. However, Community has been renewed for a fifth season — bringing it a little closer to the fabled “six seasons and a movie” — which puts me in the frustrating position of saying that, after having slogged through a largely lackluster and uninspired fourth season, I just want the show to be put out of its misery. In fact, if I could pull an Inspector Spacetime, I’d travel back and stop the fourth season before it even began.
When was the last time a show so effectively and thoroughly undermined so much of what made it great? How did it come to this? For its first three seasons, Community was one of the most unique, bizarre, and consistently funny TV shows I’d seen in a long time. It was never a huge ratings success, but it was a critical darling with a devoted cult following. The show took its basic storyline — a group of misfits enroll in a local community college and form a study group — and wove in some of the cleverest and geekiest pop culture references this side of Spaced, some pretty inventive production techniques, and some surprisingly affecting character development.
So, again, how did it come to this? I have several theories…
Ryan Green’s son has cancer and so he’s making a video game titled That Dragon, Cancer about it. Here, he explains his approach to the game’s design and intent:
I’m asking that you let me take you to a dark place in my life, and that you’ll have faith I’m not going to abandon you there. Because my intent is not to hurt you. I want the players that enter my creation to feel loved. I want players to walk with me in the garden of my life, to see the faith and hope; the weakness and doubt; and to love my son, the same way I love my son, even if he succumbs to that great dragon that lies in wait.
Pitchfork interviews Daft Punk about the “old school” process of making their new album, Random Access Memories.
To be clear: Daft Punk are not anti-technology, or even anti-computer (they readily admit that RAM could not have been made without them). But they do have a certain amount of ire for the normalizing aspect technology can have upon music, how lines of code are unable to recreate the variables that sprout from relatively organic techniques.
“We were never able to connect with using computers as musical instruments,” Bangalter shrugs. “We've always relied on hardware components—old drum machines, synthesizers—but it was more like a chaotic electrical lab with wires everywhere. We tried to make music with laptops in the mid 2000s, but it was really hard to create from within the computer without putting things into it. In a computer, everything is recallable all the time, but life is a succession of events that only happen once.”
There’s a lot of good stuff in Alan Noble’s response to Eric Metaxas’ recent statements regarding our culture’s crisis of manhood, but I just want to highlight his response to Metaxas’ claim that “all men want to live heroic lives”:
…let’s take another step back from heroism altogether; is it good to encourage your young boys (or girls) to be a hero? Is that natural, deep, basic desire to be the protagonist in the story of your life admirable? Does it lead to Christian virtues?
In my experience as a boy (and even now, as oft-day-dreamer adult), the desire to be a hero almost always manifested as a desire to attain my existential justification through personal greatness. It was an alternate salvation—a salvation through being a heroic savior. If I could do something heroic, even if it cost me everything, then I would know that I mattered. I was worth something. My existence would be assured, and this assurance would be verified by those around me.
I still want to live a heroic life. But I don’t think I should. I think I should want to live quietly, to do all that I do until God and for my neighbor, and to do all this without believing that through my quiet suffering I am redeeming myself.
This really jumps out at me because I confess, I want to live a heroic life — or at least, what I think is a heroic life. But is my vision of the heroic life truly Biblical, or has it been shaped by cultural pressures and norms in ways that, though seemingly noble, actually run counter to Christ’s instructions? This is a hard question, and it’s one that’s become increasingly relevant now that I have children of my own, including two sons.
Oh, and then there’s Noble’s response to Metaxas’ criticism of videogames:
Why videogames? Why not point out that watching football isn’t heroic? Or working on cars? Or Tweeting? Or any other of the myriad ways people waste time in the 21st century?
Last month, The Colonel Mustard Amateur Attic Theatre Company announced their epic theatrical spectacle for the summer of 2013: Jurassic Park: The Musical: 3D. As you might recall, the original Jurassic Park: The Musical was put on in 2009, and was one of the first Mustard musical extravaganzas (laying the template for subsequent pieces like Dr. Quinn: The Musical and Gods of the Prairie). It became quite the viral hit, garnering attention on “VH1's Best Week Ever”, Dave Barry, and The Vulture (to name a few).
In August 2013, the Mustard crew will be revisiting their early sensation. Jurassic Park: The Musical is being rebuilt from the ground up, with a new script and score, and will feature some pretty ambitious ideas concerning its presentation in “3D”. I’d say more, but then the Colonel would probably sic a couple of velociraptors on me, and we all know what they do to their prey. (And speaking of velociraptors, the Mustard is currently hosting an open call for dinosaur actors.)
In order to help fund Jurassic Park: The Musical: 3D, as well as its other artistic ventures, the Colonel Mustard is participating in “Give To Lincoln Day” on May 16, during which people can make donations to Lincoln, NE charities. If you like ambitious low-budget community theatre projects, or if you just happen to like dinosaurs (or at least, people dressed up in silly dinosaur costumes), then the Mustard could certainly use your help.
A fascinating piece by David Gutsche about his spiritual experience while playing Proteus:
I grew up in the Evangelical Christian church, my family usually falling on the conservative and exhaustively theological sides of religion. I left, about three years ago. I find that the less time I spend around Christians, the harder it is to have empathy for their ways of seeing and living.
That’s why I was so happy when I began to learn spiritual empathetic lessons from a videogame.
Thanks to [the creators of Proteus], I was at least a little bit closer to the Christians in my life, in a way I would have never expected. I know now a bit of what they feel, even if it is just a parallel sensation. Now, when a bible-believer talks to me about the awe they feel, as well as the subsequent worship that such awe produces, I get it. I get it a little.
Seth T. Hahne:
I haven’t questioned my belief that mecha stories are substandard fare because, well, primarily that would give me one more direction in which to apportion my already far-too-small disposable income. Also: though I read comics all the time and spend at least six hours per week writing about them, at least I don’t read the ones with big robots on the covers because that’s infantile. So when I sat down and read Knights of Sidonia and had my worldview shattered? That was a feeling both delicious and terrifying. After all: I am now someone who reads and enjoys mecha manga.
I've been a fan of Tsutomu Nihei’s previous stuff (Blame!, Biomega) and really do need to check out his latest title.
Mollie Ziegler Hemingway:
It’s interesting to note, then, how this reporter, his colleagues at The Times and journalists at other papers have handled the political implications of the Gosnell story. This Gosnell story is nowhere near as bad as someone saying something untrue about rape. Not that bad. It’s just about a convicted murderer whose abortions fell a bit too far on the post-birth and malpractice side of things than the prebirth side and resulted in an untold number of deaths and scarings and disease spreading.
Don’t get me wrong, while I will fully agree with the New York Times that a politician saying something stupid deserves at least 250 breathless stories in a three-month span and that the country’s most salacious serial murder trial, that of an abortion doctor to boot, should only begrudgingly and weakly be covered after extreme pressure, I wonder if maybe there’s not room for slight improvement here.