Thursday, February 12, 2009

Passion Pit's Best Song That You Have Ever Heard

On Passion Pit's MySpace page, you can also listen to their song, "Better Things," which is at least as good as "Sleepyhead" if not better. I particularly like the part with the gods and the glory and the stories, and the part with the lipstick and the lipstick.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Revisionist Christian Mythology Lyrics

To be honest, I don't think that Franz Ferdinand's You Could Have It So Much Better is all that good an album - I don't intentionally listen to it very much and never have. At this point, my favorite songs from the album, and the two that I think about with the greatest frequency, are "Walk Away" and "Outsiders." I don't think of the other songs, including "The Fallen," all that often.

But when I first heard the album, the song that caught me right away and impressed me was "The Fallen." And in listening to this concert today, I was reminded of just how much I liked that song the first few times I heard it. I don't know if this particular live version is a little different from the album version, though I suspect it is, but it really sounds forceful and powerful. And the song has those revisionist Christian mythology lyrics for which I've already mentioned my fondness. I would say these lyrics are somewhere in between those of "The Fall" and "The Repudiated Immortals" - they're not particularly sketchy, but there's still something missing from the story (evidently Alex Kapranos revealed some extra-textual background when he explained that the song was imagining a specific friend of his as the reincarnation Jesus).

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Spinner's Best Songs of 2008

I spent some time this week listening to Spinner's top 25 songs of 2008. Most of them were pretty boring to me on a first listen, some of them were okay, but there were two that I liked quite a lot:

-#17: "Sleepy Head" by Passion Pit - I really like the weird noises in this song (some of them may be backing vocals, but it's hard to tell) as well as the jagged part of the instrumental. It's otherworldly.

-#22: "I'm Not Going to Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance with You" by Black Kids - This song is almost literally a Cure song with more female backing vocals and people screaming "Dance! Dance! Dance! Dance!" But, to be honest with you, I think that is TOTALLY AWESOME and ENTIRELY TO BE ENCOURAGED!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Don't Fear the Cockroach

When I read the Wikipedia article on the Mandarin version of "Dragostea din Tei," which was played quite frequently while I was in China, I thought someone had to be joking about the song being "about fear of cockroaches." But, no, this appears to be true. Oh, dear. Well, I suppose it's an extremely appropriate topic for a song in Mandarin. . . .

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Augustine St. Clare

As I have commented in the past, even in a novel written today, I think it's usually pretty easy to get a sense of which characters the narrative is favoring and which it is disfavoring. If the book ends with character X generally happy and character Y generally unhappy, depending on whether the tone at that point seems positive or negative, you can probably decide which character the implied reader is supposed to be rooting for. It's more complicated than that, of course, but it can still usually be done.

But in the classic 19th-century novel, with its omniscient narrator, it's even easier to get such a sense, because the narrator will come right out and tell you, "Yay wonderful, amazing Character X of Love!" or "Boo horrible, awful Character Y of Hatred!" This is taken to its logical extreme in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, wherein the narrator reveals to us whether each character who dies is going to Heaven or Hell. At this point, while you can certainly read the book against the grain as described in my above post, you certainly can't deny that the text pretty well sets out for you a defined attitude on each character.

What I find amusing is the contrast between the very. . . Protestant attitude of the narrator and my own. Most of the good characters are pretty good throughout, and, believing in Christ, as they do, they shape their actions and behavior based on their sense of what Christ would want. And then there's Augustine St. Clare. Augustine St. Clare was clearly written to be an attractive, Byronic figure (he's explicitly compared to Byron in chapter 28), and he is attractive. He's also, as you might expect of a Byronic character, not an especially good person - as he himself would, as you might expect of a Byronic character, be the first to admit. He has a very high moral standard, but fails to even begin to live up to it in any way. He hates slavery more than many of the other white characters in the book, including some who don't own any slaves, and is extremely articulate on the topic, but he gets so much benefit out of his own slave-owning habits that he doesn't even free his own slaves, let alone work for abolition in any way.

Eventually, St. Clare realizes that maybe he ought to act on his beliefs (he also starts trying to believe in God, which, for Harriet Beecher Stowe, is more or less synonymous). Before he can do anything to help anyone at all, except for Topsy, he gets killed off. Presumably, Beecher Stowe does this in order to end her novel with the portrayal of the awful and not-in-any-way-attractive Simon Legree and to give Uncle Tom the opportunity for his Christ-like martyrdom. But the funny thing about the way that it functions in the novel is that it also gives St. Clare the chance to go to Heaven, because he's started trying to redeem himself and now believes in God, despite the fact that he really never did anything good to anyone and, through his inaction up until the last couple of days of his life, did a lot of harm. Nonetheless, the chapter wherein he dies is called "Reunion," because he gets to go to Heaven and be with his beloved mother and daughter again.

Thing is, I really like St. Clare. I reread Uncle Tom's Cabin this past week largely in order to read about him. I find the book enjoyable and engaging during the section set in his home and kind of boring in the parts before and after. St. Clare is great. But I have the sense that the narrator, and quite possibly Harriet Beecher Stowe as well, like him even more than I do. I mean, it's one thing to be very fond of a character who's clearly not the most wonderful of people. It's another thing entirely to be so fond of him that you give him the chance to redeem himself without in any way making it necessary for him ever to change his behavior. So. . . well. . . it amuses me.

Richard Alpert

Over the past week-and-a-half, I seem to have come to the conclusion that Richard Alpert on Lost is kinda attractive. Here are some related thoughts:

1) He is attractive.

2) His conversations (with Locke, at least) have a tendency to go something like this:

Locke: What does this compass do?
Richard Alpert: It points north, John.

Locke: You told me that I'm your leader.
Richard Alpert: Well, I certainly wouldn't want to contradict myself.

3) He is probably immortal. Anything that involves immortals is inherently a Grace-enticing thing!

4) This is a funny interview with the actor who plays Richard Alpert, Nestor Carbonell. Or, at least, there's one funny question/answer.