Friday, October 26, 2012

Lesley Gore resurfaces with an important message for November.

Complete History Of The Soviet Union, Arranged To The Melody Of Tetris

Our pals the Mod-Est Lads turned us on to this piece of pure awesome:
A Complete History Of The Soviet Union Through The Eyes Of A Humble Worker, Arranged To The Melody Of Tetris.

Music by "Pig With The Face Of A Boy"

Written and performed by DONALD NEWHOLM and DAN WOODS, with MALCOLM GAYNER & ROBIN HARRIS

Photographed by TIM JORDAN
Costumes by LUCY NEWHOLM
Production assistant NICOLA LINCÉ
Special thanks to JAMES LAMONT and REMY LAMONT
Additional sound effects: www.freesound.org/people/nemoDaedalus/ www.freesound.org/people/themfish
Produced by CHRIS LINCÉ and DAN WOODS for Xylophone Productions

Directed, animated, and edited by CHRIS LINCÉ

WINNER - BEST ANIMATION - Super Shorts International Film Festival 2010
WINNER - LOW BUDGET AWARD - Super Shorts International Film Festival 2010

Monday, October 8, 2012

Nina Paley ruffles more feathers

Where do you go after making a brilliant animation feature that unpacks the misogynistic assumptions in Hindu mythology, pissing off an army of humorless fundamentalist dopes in the process? How about something less controversial like, uh...the history of Israel?

(Trigger warning: Cartoonish depictions of extreme violence and genocide.) Scroll down for an explanation of "who's killing who", because, as Nina says, "you can't tell the players without a pogrom."

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Hey, it's still up!

Haven't done a thing with my Xtranormal account in years, but I see that our dramatic reading of the lyrics of "Wagons And Boys" by The Blame and "Let Me Plant One On You" by the Granite Countertops remains intact. Enjoy!



For comparison, here's the official video:



No video for the other, but here's the song:

Mr. Postman, look and see

This weekend's required reading includes this absolutely choice excerpt from an essay by the late Neil Postman, "The Bias Of Language, The Bias Of Pictures", borrowed from the book How To Watch TV News.
...even when attempting to use purely descriptive language, a journalist cannot avoid expressing an attitude about what he or she is saying. For example, here is the opening sentence of an anchor’s report about national examinations: “For the first time in the nation’s history, high-level education policymakers have designed the elements for a national examination system similar to the one advocated by President Bush.”

This sentence certainly looks like it is pure description although it is filled with ambiguities. Is this the first time is our history that this has been done? Or only the first time that high-level education policymakers have done it? Or is it the first time something has been designed that is similar to what the President has advocated? But let us put those questions aside. (After all, there are limits to how analytical one ought to be.) Instead, we might concentrate on such words as “high-level,” “policymakers,” and “designed.” Speaking for ourselves, we are by no means sure that we know what a “high-level policymaker” is, although it sounds awfully impressive. It is certainly better then a “low-level policymaker,” although how one would distinguish between the two is a bit of a mystery. Come to think of it, a low-level “policymaker” must be pretty good, too, since anyone who makes policy must be important.

It comes as no surprise, therefore, that what was done was “designed.” To design something usually implies careful thought, preparation, organization, and coherence. People design buildings, bridges, and furniture. If your experience has been anything like ours, you will know that reports are almost never designed; they are usually “thrown together,” and it is quite a compliment to say that a report was designed.

The journalist who paid this compliment was certainly entitled to do it even though he may not have been aware of what he was doing. He probably thought he had made a simple description, avoiding any words that would imply favor or disfavor. But if so, he was defeated in his effort because language tends to be emotion-laden. Because it is people who do the talking, the talk almost always includes a feeling, an attitude, a judgment. In a sense, every language contains the history of a people’s feelings about the world. Our words are baskets of emotion. Smart journalists, of course know this. And so do smart audiences. Smart audiences don’t blame anyone for this state of affairs. They are, however, prepared for it.
UPDATE: I added a few more paragraph divisions that weren't there originally, just for the sake of readability.

What I've been busy with (Special debate edition)

The blogging, inconsistent as it's always been, has definitely fallen by the wayside in recent months due to my heavy workload at both my current job and the university. But it's not as though I haven't been writing. So to remedy the dullness of this page, I'll be posting some of the work I've been up to at school.

Here's a brief essay I turned in for extra credit for "News On Radio And Television" class (BECA 460):
Watch the Presidential Debate on Wednesday night (10/3).
In 500 words (typewritten, no hand-written corrections accepted) give your analysis of how one television network covered the event.  Was it fair?  Did their critique fall on the side of objective or subjective coverage?  Why or why not?
This is what I gave them:
I watched the first presidential debate on KGO-TV (ABC) for this exercise. The program was hosted by Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos. After the debate itself, Sawyer and Stephanopoulos were joined by Matthew Dowd and Donna Brazile, with former Obama economic advisor Austin Goolsbee and former McCain/Palin campaign advisor Nicolle Wallace on remote feed.

First, I was struck by Sawyer’s giddy demeanor throughout. She appeared to be covering the event as entertainment news, gushing over the candidates’ families appearing with them onstage while complaining that the debate featured “a lot of numbers” and giggling continuously throughout the discussion. (Is she always like this?) In contrast, Stephanopoulos managed to maintain some semblance of basic professionalism in his role as cohost.

A consensus was reached very quickly by the panel: Romney had “won” the debate, Obama seemed distracted, and debate moderator Jim Lehrer let himself be overrun by the candidates. What I saw happening in the debate was a little different. Obama would try to address a previous statement of Romney’s and Romney would claim that he had never said such a thing and accuse Obama of misquoting him. It was a strange dance, and the President occasionally looked flustered. I hope he is better prepared next time.

Other commentators were brought in. Jake Tapper saw a lackluster Obama, and loved Romney’s “zingers” and “policies”. (Goolsbee, on the other hand, thought Obama’s best moment was when he challenged Romney about these policies that he refused to elaborate on: “What are your secret plans?”) David Muir was impressed by Romney’s anecdotes. Brazile also said that she thought it was “great” that the candidates talked about women. (Apparently, telling a story about a woman you talked to at a campaign stop counts as addressing women’s issues.) George Will thought that Romney scored with his attack on the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which would supposedly “ration” healthcare. Will’s assertion was, of course, not challenged, presumably because to do so would not have been “objective”.

The post-mortem discussion was focused on how well the candidates performed, rather than analyzing what they were saying. Words like “fair” or “subjective” vs. “objective” are hard for me to apply here. What I saw was a group of professional pundits whose main commitment was to maintaining a narrative about the race being “close”. They needed Romney to look good last night in order to maintain that suspenseful, entertaining narrative. The actual impact of their respective policies and the truth of their statements were trivial compared to the all-important horse race.

Sawyer announced that the network would do some fact-checking, and brought on correspondent Jonathan Karl, who critiqued one statement by each candidate and pronounced both “mostly fiction”. I wondered why we were treated to a misleadingly tokenistic ritual of “fact-checking” here; would a detailed examination of Romney’s higher levels of dishonesty in the course of this campaign violate their sense of “balance”? I Googled Mr. Karl and found an article on the Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting website that asserts that Karl got his start in journalism through the Collegiate Network, a conservative group that supports right-leaning college journalists and assists them in their postgraduate careers. That would seem to take care of the objectivity question.
(What I left out) In conclusion, ABC is even worse than I even imagined. And WTF is Diane Sawyer's problem?

But where do the candidates stand on Big Jim Sullivan's "Sitar Beat" album?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Ear Candle Radio's Top 20: September 2012

So as I was saying, we are back and bopping, and the new playlist is developing while university work continues to kick our asses. We are slipping new delights into our randomly shuffling stream to tide you over, never fear! Oh, the places you'll go...

1. PJ Harvey - 50 Ft Queenie - Rid Of Me
2. Phil Ochs - Cops of the World - Phil Ochs in Concert
3. Can - Dead Pigeon Suite - The Lost Tapes
4. Steve Hillage - Meditation of the Snake - Fish Rising
5. KXP - 18 Hours (Of Love) - K-X-P
6. John Lennon - Do The Oz - Plastic Ono Band
7. Vivian Girls - You're My Guy - Everything Goes Wrong
8. Peter Green - Bottoms Up - The End of the Game
9. MC5 - The American Ruse - Back In The USA
10. Kalo Kawongolo / Seke Molenga - Masanga - African Roots
11. Dr. Spaceman - Staying Home - Zwanzig Kilometer Stau
12. Warren Smith - Ubangi Stomp - Rockin' Bones: 1950s Punk and Rockabilly
13. Silvia Parra MamaCoatl - Food Is A Weapon - Border Crossing Diosa
14. Fat Daddy Holmes - Where Yo Is - Chicken Rock
15. Dead Famous People - Barlow's House - Lost Person's Area
16. Gil Scott-Heron - Explanations - Moving Target
17. The Spinners - Living A Little, Laughing A Little - The Very Best Of The Spinners
18. The Zombies - Care Of Cell 44 - Odessey and Oracle
19. Leonard Cohen - Banjo - Old Ideas
20. Public Image Limited - One Drop - This Is PiL