Wednesday, February 12th, 2014
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In The Church Of ‘St. Vincent’

Annie Clark’s fourth record as St. Vincent, out February 25, has elevated some eyebrows because it is self-titled (“underwhelming,” one journalist called the decision). Self-titled albums tend to be statements: either This is the sound of St. Vincent or I am redefining myself, and this is the NEW sound of St. Vincent. Thankfully, neither of those items seem to be on Clark’s agenda here. Rather, the title St. Vincent is just one of many explorations of worship on the record, a kind of self-aware acknowledgement of Clark’s new fan base. St. Vincent’s cover art, depicting Annie Clark on a throne, sitting regally “above” the viewer, furthers this concept. [...]

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You Are Probably Using 'Kudos' Wrong

"The real problem with kudos, however, isn’t grammatical. It’s socio-politico-cultural. Not to put too fine a point on it, but few of us are heroes, and little that gets done today deserves good old-fashioned ancient kudos. A pat on the back, a raised glass, a shout-out on social media maybe, but none of those are the real thing."

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Get Your Bookshelf (And Your MIND) Right With Muriel Spark

2014 has been called the Year of Reading Women; it should also be the Year of Reading Muriel Spark. Just short of a hundred years since her birth, and nearly 60 since the publication of her first novel, Spark remains as essential as ever. She cannot be reduced.

But that’s not to say a little facelift wouldn't hurt. New Directions will be revamping and re-releasing eight of her novels here in America later this year, including Man Booker favorites The Driver’s Seat and Loitering with Intent. (My favorite part about the new editions is that when you line up all of the spines together, they make a [...]

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Is Sun Kil Moon’s ‘Benji’ The Great American Novel?

“I’m not one to pray/But I’m one to sing and play.” —“Pray for Newtown”

All great music should tell a story. Some musicians tell those stories more literally than others: Mark Kozelek, currently of Sun Kil Moon and formerly of Red House Painters, is one such musician. Last week, as a kind of foreword to his forthcoming album Benji, Kozelek outlined a list of themes, events, and influences for the record in an Opinionator piece for the New York Times. He signed off the op-ed with the comment, “This song, like the rest of the album, is a thank-you to those who have inspired me along the way, and [...]

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Kill All The Butterflies Or We'll Have Another World War

“During the recent mild weather butterflies are reported as having been seen on the wing in various parts of England; and doubtless as many of them as possible were killed. It is a common rustic superstition that to fail to kill the first butterfly one sees abroad in spring is to earn bad luck for the year; and, like most such superstitions, it is based on misunderstanding. It is reasonable to kill queen wasps in the spring, if it happens that you do not like wasps. From an economic point of view it is at least arguable whether the wasp does not do more good to the agriculturist than [...]

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I Know It’s Not a Real Holiday and You’re Definitely Above It But Maybe Look At These Cards If You Want, I Don’t Know

I am so sorry to do this to you, I really am, especially with THAT day creeping ever closer, but if you do have any interest in, you know, THAT day, and/or interest in the Talking Heads, you're going to want to take a look at what this Portland art gallery is doing. THAT DAY is still a massive fraud perpetuated on us by the greeting card industry and affiliated commercial concerns, but this is pretty cool. [Via]

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The Men, "Another Night"

If a hellish weekend giving way to the hard slap of a cold, wet Monday has got you down (and how could it not?), then the Men have your pick-me-up. "We’ve just got to keep on trying, it will be alright," they encouragingly implore. And then there's a whole six more minutes of old-school roadhouse piano, horns, "oh yeahs" and "get it rights." Basically, it sounds exactly like what you’d expect a single from a record called Tomorrow’s Hits (out March 4th) would sound like. And by the way, Tomorrow’s Hits' first single, “Pearly Gates,” is another six-minutes of sheer joy—definitely put that on next. [Via]

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Coming Soon (Again): The White Guy’s Nonwhite Sidekick

If the trailers in theaters now are any sorts of indicator, 2014 isn’t going to do much for Hollywood's endless race problem. The newsflash here is that while we’ll be watching Indian and Middle Eastern characters on screen, it will be 2015 (2016? 2017? 2064?) before they’re actually, like, people, in addition to just being "diverse."

I’m thinking of three forthcoming films in particular that seem to play dangerously into the trope of white male leads possessing “ethnic” boy sidekicks: Million Dollar Arm, about a (white) agent’s search for an Indian baseball player; Bad Words, about a (white) 40-year-old spelling bee champ with a nonwhite frenemy, and Wes Anderson’s [...]

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Cats + Tea = Paradise

"Courtney Hatt and David Braginsky, a cat-loving duo from San Francisco, are currently at work on KitTea, a cat cafe concept they hope to open in the city this summer. They envision KitTea as part 'gourmet tea house,' part 'cat and human oasis.' To ensure the place is not too crowded or chaotic, the cafe will be at least 1,600 square feet, housing a maximum of 10 cats and 30 to 35 people at a time." —The excuse you needed to finally move to San Francisco [...]

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Why Brush Your Teeth With Chocolate When You Can Brush Your Teeth With California Wine or Bamboo

Yesterday Crest announced the launch of new toothpaste flavors “Mint Chocolate Trek,” “Vanilla Mint Spark” and “Lime Spearmint Zest," all of which are soooo boring if you know anything at all about the Wonderful World of Toothpaste Flavors.

Here is a list of actual toothpastes that you can put in your mouth in the furtherance of dental cleanliness. Never brush with boredom again.

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Enjoy the Next Two Days Because Then Everything Will Be Terrible, Says Feng Shui Masters

“The combination of a Horse year and a 'yang wood' year, which comes round every 60 years, has a record of regional warfare. The last such year was 1954, which witnessed the Battle of Dien Bien Phu that ended with the defeat of France by the Vietnamese. The previous such year was 1894, which marked the start of the first Sino-Japanese war. Alion Yeo, another Hong Kong feng shui practitioner, predicted extra turbulence in February, May and August.” —2014 was relatively good, for 28 days at least.

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A Case for Reading Something Other Than “Middlemarch”

Marked the momentous occasion of finishing Middlemarch with a refreshingly candid souvenir photograph. pic.twitter.com/bxiLoSj8

— Marieke Hardy (@mariekehardy) August 24, 2012

Results from a new survey say that, if you are an Average American, two-year-olds read more often than you do. And if you read literature at all, that’s something, because 28 percent of U.S. adults did not read a single book in 2012. If there has ever been a sure sign of the collapse of civilization, it is numbers like these.

So let’s get this straight: I’m not telling you to completely avoid George Eliot’s 1871-ish (it was [...]

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Brian Wilson’s AMA, Briefly

So this is happening.

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Gold Rush, Part II

"Shawn Ryan recalls the hungry years, before his first big strike. The prospector and his family were living in a metal shack on the outskirts of Dawson, the Klondike boomtown that had declined to a ghostly remnant of its glory days. They had less than $300 and no running water or electricity. One night, as wind sneaked through gaps in the cladding, Ryan’s wife, Cathy Wood, worried aloud that their two children might even freeze to death. Today the couple could buy—and heat—just about any house on Earth." —National Geographic reports that if you make like 1896, you can [...]

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What Isabella Rossellini Acting Out Animal Sex Taught Me About People Sex

Who invented sex? Well—no one: it’s been a part of human nature ever since we were animals (if you buy that evolution talk). Actress Isabella Rossellini, however, has something to say on the subject. Or, uh, something to show you.

Rossellini’s exploration of “Who invented sex? Why and how?” comes in the form of a show called Green Porno. (When a passerby asked a group standing on line for opening night rush tickets outside the BAM Fisher Theater what they were waiting for, a shouted response of “Green Porno!” and further enthusiastic and earnest explanations seemed not to disabuse the notion that the line consisted of perverts). [...]

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I Went To A Disclosure Concert And All I Felt Was My Impending Mortality

Sunday was my 7,738th* day on the planet. It was also my first Disclosure concert.

Disclosure—a British electronic duo made up of brothers Guy (8,277 days old at the time of publication) and Howard (a mere 7,195 days) Lawrence—had a pretty great 2013, releasing their debut album Settle with singles “White Noise” and “Latch” both going gold in the UK. Settle itself went to #1 on UK charts, and has been nominated for a Grammy. The boys, along with “Latch” vocalist Sam Smith, made their US TV debut on "Fallon" last night. They’re going places. It’s exciting. I’d wanted to see them on a small sliver on their journey [...]

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Pandora, Circa 1988-2014

My boa constrictor who I've had since '88 passed away this yr. She was over 25 yrs old. & very sweet. For a snake. RIP Pandora. I miss u.

— Slash (@Slash) January 21, 2014

I did not wake up this morning and expect to be moved by a tweet from Slash over his dead snake, and yet here we are. Live every day like it's your last, we only have so much time with each other.

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Ministry of Love

“O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.” —1984, a smutty romance novel by George Orwell

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It Took 12 Years to Make This 164 Minute Movie

So there's a movie that's like having a child and watching it grow up, but without actually having to have the child, and the watching it grow up part takes less than three hours? Sounds pretty perfect to me.

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Love Letter to Concrete

"Those staircases like fists, those abstract angles so bloody sure of themselves – that bravado rubbed people up the wrong way. For 30 years, these civic megaliths were the most hated buildings in history. But today, the ones that remain are making our hearts skip a beat. Brutalist buildings inhabit a polarised world of love and hate, life and death." [Related]

Concrete by Rick.

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