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Monday, June 28, 2010

Attention UK readers! (And others)

The UK edition of The Geometry of God by the lovely and talented Uzma Aslam Khan was released earlier this month by Haus Publishing. It's a great book, but don't take my word for it... trundle on over the and have a look:

It's a nifty hardback with jacket art by Paul Klee. What else could you want? Well okay, it's also compelling and funny and sexy and full of unexpected twists and wordplay. And it's emotionally wrenching... but hey, that's what books are for. You'll see.

On the sidebar to the right you can find some links to some US-based reviews (Oprah, Kirkus). You can go to the Haus site directly for more info and some review extracts:

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I have met my evil twin.

His name is Sasquatch and he rocks.

New album called III is pretty riff-worthy and consistent. I recommend them highly. previous album, creatively entitled II, is also great.

Hmm... a torture dungeon, or rotten fruit? I think I'll choose the fruit.

According to thie item from the BBC, various countries have have different ways of coping with the dishonorable exits from the World Cup by their soccer teams. I'm not sure that I believe that Uday Hussein had a special dungeon built, complete with slavering dogs to eat the hacked-off legs of the national team's players... but you never know I guess.

Italians chucking rotten fruit? Well yeah, that seems a fair bit easier to swallow. I wonder what English fans will have in store for their team... or will they just blame the ref?

And by the way: yeah, the officiating has been atrocious. Nothing new in that, sad to say, but this might be the most-ever non-goals given and goals not-given that I've ever seen. (Although Cameroon's five disallowed goals in 1998 remains the gold standard of lameness, in my view.)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cultural wasteland, or cultural renaissance?

Here's an interesting essay by the always-reliable Leonard Pierce over the The Onion A.V. Club that brings up the question of whether we are living in an era of widespread cultural dross or cultural renewal and excitement. Pierce comes down heavily on the side of "'renewal and excitement," as I tend to as well--if I didn't, I couldn't write reviews for a site like PopMatters. But he has some interesting things to say about nostalgia and its contribution to what he sees as a widespread sneering disaffection for the current cultural milieu. An excerpt:

"First, why—other than the natural laziness that informs most nostalgia—do so many people think that the culture is in decline? Why is the belief that things were better in the mysterious “before” so common that it jumps from generation to generation, like baldness or a bad ticker? While the tendency to be politically conservative knows no particular age, cultural conservatism is as predictable as prostate cancer.

"Part of this, I think, is because of the way people naturally tend, as they get older and gain more responsibilities, to stop paying as much attention to pop culture as they did when they were younger. A 23-year-old with an entry-level job, few expenses, and lots of free time finds it easy to fill that time with immersion in indie films, musical micro-genres, and new developments in videogame technology. Two decades later, when that same person has a wife, kids, and a mortgage, he likely has more to think about than the latest literary trend or hotshot graphic novelist. Once it becomes harder to make grapes part of your regular diet, it’s a lot easier to assume that they’re all sour anyway.

"But beyond that, one factor in why I believe we really are living in a cultural golden age—the way technology has made art of all sorts more available to everyone than at any previous point in human history—also works to fuel this longing for the past. Particularly for the generation that grew up without the Internet, the easy availability of culture doesn’t seem like a boon; instead, by flooding everyone with an astonishing amount of choice, it seems instead to curse them with so much to choose from that it’s easy for their minds to shut down. In the face of media oversaturation—and media decentralization, which contributes to a situation where there are few trusted voices of authority to act as cultural guides—it’s tempting to just write it all off as a bunch of crap you’re better off not knowing about.

"For younger generations, though, or older people who surf the culture and the web with equal ease, the flood-tide poses another problem: We develop a shortened attention span almost out of necessity, in order to avoid being overwhelmed by how much information is out there. As a result, we can focus so much on temporary tendencies in the culture, on micro-movements and what are likely passing phases and crazes, that we start to take them as signs of an overall decay. We forget that cultural tendencies are sporadic, inchoate, and unforeseeable, and begin to think of the trend of the moment as a harbinger of some eternal, irrevocable change. Auto-Tune isn’t just annoying; it’s the end of music as we know it. The music industry’s digital-age difficulties don’t mean the business is changing; they mean it’s ending. In 2007, there were so many good movies, it was one of the greatest years in film history. Now, only three years later, a year of duds signals the death knell of the entire art form."

And the whole essay can be found here:,42451/

Some of the comments are worth reading as well. One early poster mentions how nostaligia is often fueled by college-age students, which I had never thought of. (Faced with the responsibilites of school and jobs and life, they yearn for the good old days--you know, the mid-'90s--when they didn't have to worry so much.) Dunno if it's true but it's an interesting thought in any case.

As ever, I am curious what people think about this. Read the whole article--or don't--and then feel free to drop a line as to whether we're doing all right, in cultural or at least pop-cultural terms. Or were the '60s and '70s (or some other era) really the high-water mark?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Good Show Sir

Here is a link to a hilarious site of AWFUL SCI-FI and FANTASY BOOK COVERS. They are photographed and sent in with comments by the people who find them. Very funny and great fun to troll through for an hour...

I have also added a link on the list of "Interesting Blogs and Sites" on the sidebar to the right. Have fun, kids.

Monday, June 14, 2010


In the beginning, the Bible tells us, was the Word. Likewise, many rappers begin their songs with this same invocation. “Word’ is used as a kind of ritualistic throat-clearing, a preparation for both listener and speaker; it is a way for the rapper to declare, more or less: “Everybody pay attention here, because what I am about to say is both important and true.”

Of course, it is often neither. Increasingly (from what I can tell) rap, or “hip-hop” if you prefer, falls into a circular form of self-parody in which “keeping it real” paradoxically means saying the same thing as everyone else, in more or less the same way as everyone else. There are exceptions—The Coup, Atmosphere, Abu Nurah, maybe Ana Tijoux (below)—but boy oh boy there’s a lot of dreck out there.

Which is what makes Reggie Watts’ parody so entertaining. When he starts with “Word,” it sounds just like a zillion other rap songs, but when he follows it up with “adjective—pronoun…” he’s letting us in on the joke, and by the time he winds up the intro with “Where my gerunds at?” he’s got me, at least, hooked.

What follows is a fairly brilliant satire of way too many rap songs. It’s all here: the nonsensical reliance on a handful of swear words, the mindless sexual boasting, the fetishistic weapon love, the bragging about wealth. And also what passes for “attitude” these days, which is really just another word for belligerence, directed at everybody, based upon nothing.

I first heard about Reggie Watts on The Onion’s media page. Here’s a link to an interview, in which he discusses the song below, among many other things, and there’s another truly awesome YouTube clip:,41712/

Then check out the song, but BE WARNED: DO NOT LISTEN TO THE VIDEO IF YOU ARE OFFENDED BY OBSCENITY! There is a lot of it. If you are at work, you might want to listen to this once you get home. Kids, make sure your parents are out of earshot. Parents, likewise vis-à-vis the kiddies.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

No doubt you have noticed...

...the radical redesign of The Party Never Stops. This was, like so many things in my life, entirely unplanned. When I got out of bed this morning the last thought running through my head was, "I think I'll take some time to revamp the old blog this afternoon." Actually that's not true; the last thought running through my head was, "I am a squid." The thing about the blog was only the second-to-last thought.

But then I signed on here and found some nifty new templates. I quite like this drizzly runny magenta-and-orange thing, though I expect some people will hate. Ah well. What's actually good about it, and was the deal-maker for me, is that it accommodates these extra-large-sized YouTube windows they're using now. And I think it's generally an upgrade from the old-lady-wallpaper look that I was using before.

So stay tuned, and hopefully I'll be able to keep you entertained in the months ahead, or if not entertained, then maybe puzzled, at least.

The World Cup

Hey kids, I don't really have terribly strong thoughts on the World Cup; I mean, it's fun to have an international competition and everything, it's just too bad that the sport involved has to be soccer, which, you know, isn't all that thrilling. (First score this tournament: 1-1. Second score: 0-0.) BUT--as can bee seen from the handy little flag chart right under my picture at the top of this page, the neverending party has been getting a number of looks from our pals around the world. So, thanks for dropping by--and I hope your team, whichever that may be, exceeds your wildest expectations this time around.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A song I like.

Ana Tijoux is a Chilean-French rapper and this song is called "1977." Not sure but I think it's about Pinochet (?). Worth a look, IMO.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Back in town

Uzee and I are back from 10 great days on the North Shore of Oahu. Much relaxation was to be had, of the staring-at-the-waves variety, also sea birds, lizards, strolling on the beach, snorkeling, Mexican food etc. We found killer snorkeling in Shark's Cove, home to a quartet of sea turtles that we hung out watching for a while, and also cuttlefish (i.e., little squid), tons o' butterflyfish, Achilles tang, and numerous other things. No sharks or rays, though, too bad, and only one little eel.
Here are some pics:

This is me looking bad to the bone at Shark's Cove. There aren't really sharks there, apparently, it's just a name that sounds cool. I'm not sure why I'm glowering, since i was having a really good time on the days we were there. Maybe the sun was in my eyes.

We rented a cabin on the water, and right out front there were these great tidepools full of little fish and crabs and things. For Uzee and myself, this is pretty much an invitation to sit and stare for a while. Be sure to include the sighing winds and sloshing waves in your mental re-creation of this moment.

No, she's not staring at the sunset, but at the turtles who were crashing around in the surf, up against the lava rocks that formed the tidepools. Apparently there's tasty morsels for the turtles to eat, because we observed a lot of this behavior at various points around the North Shore (from both in the water and on shore). I tried taking pictures of the turtles too, but that was pretty much hopeless.
Without a doubt the highlight of the trip was our 4-hour hike to Kaena Point, the northwesternmost tip of Oahu, a very rugged and undeveloped area. In the winter you can see whales offshore. We didn't see any whales, but we did spot a few albatross fledglings who had not yet taken to the air, and then, at the very point of the Point, a pair of monk seals sloshing around in the water. Playing, fighting, flirting, I don't really know. But they were mighty comfortable and we ended up watching them for 45 minutes. These creatures are critically endangered, so this was a gift...