Saturday, November 25, 2017

Song of the Day: "Intrepid"

Pinegrove's Cardinal was a pleasant discovery last year. This is their first new song since then, and while it's inspired pop music, there's something about the production, which I grant is intentional, that seems too underdone.

But I will allow for it to grow on me, cause there's greatness in it, for sure.

Song: "Intrepid"
Artist: Pinegrove

Friday, November 24, 2017

Song of the Day: "Beautiful Trauma"

Fun fact: P!nk's real name is Alecia Moore.

I have long had a fondness for P!nk. Tapping Channing for the video is just gilding the lily.

Song: "Beautiful Trauma"
Artist: P!nk

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Musical Theater Therapy: "Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher"

Musical Theater Therapy admits to having taste that is not always aligned with the Tony awards voters. Not the times Liza Minnelli wins everything, that's just fine. No, there are a few Best Musical winners that we found tedious. Billy Elliot the Musical is one of those musicals.

Billy Elliot the Musical is a musical based on Billy Elliot, the British indie that warmed your heart in whatever the fuck year it came out (1998? 2001?). It's loosely based on the novel Push by Sapphire. Billy Elliot is the story of a boy, gender stereotypes, the UK miner's strike of the mid-80s, and ballet. The movie earned 3 Oscar nominations, including the second nomination for Julie Walters, previously nominated for Educating Rita.

Fun fact: Educating Rita would make a fucking awesome musical.

The stage musical, with music by Elton John and lyrics/book by Lee Hall (an Oscar nominee for the screenplay) was directed by Stephen Daldry (also an Oscar nominee for Best Director). It was a huge hit with critics and audiences, running for more than 1,300 performances and winning 10 Tony awards (everyone won except Elton John [and some less famous people]).

Today's song is "Merry Christmas, Maggie Thatcher"--a faux celebratory song set during the Christmas of the miner's strike where the only silver lining is being one day closer to Thatcher's death:

Cos they're privatizing Santa
This merry Christmas time, so...
Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher
May God's love be with you
We all sing together in one breath
Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher
We all celebrate today
Cos it's one day closer to your death.

In 2013, before the show's performance on the West End the day she passed away, the cast and crew of the show let the audience decide whether or not they should perform the song. The audience voted overwhelmingly to keep it in. Thatcher didn't give a fuck, never did before plus that day she was dead which is a whole bunch of other stuff too.

Today's lesson? It's Thanksgiving so it's totally fine to start playing Christmas music. Duh.

Song of the Day: "Walking"

I am not sure who Steve Grand is, but something about his music calls out to me... not sure what.

Song: "Walking"
Artist: Steve Grand

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Musical Theater Therapy: "Just a Housewife"

Working, the musical, is based on Studs Terkel's Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do which is not, despite what you may have heard, based on the novel Push by Sapphire. Steven "Oscar cock block" Schwartz wrote the music, lyrics and book. Sure, other people were involved, people like James Taylor, Mary Rodgers and Nina Faso (nee Doremi), but are they even people or just figments of Steven Schwartz's imagination?

Working played for a mere 24 productions and lost all 5 of its Tony nominations. I'm sure Steven Schwartz blames his co-nominees (dead weight).

Musical Theater Therapy considers Working, the recitative-laden look at Americans as defined by their jobs. The show frames the output of working as accomplishment, which makes the song about being a housewife (which isn't a job and what do they do all day anyway?*) particularly poignant. It's a song suffused with self doubt, rooted in the Women's Movement of the 1970s when women entered the workplace in droves--the era of Mary Richards and, to a lesser extent Rhoda and Julia. I am woman, hear me roar, and if you're not roaring at work you're succumbing to the patriarchy**.

Today's song is "Housewife" performed by Lisa Asher who is not a performer I know, but is a performer with some talent. Today's lesson: wages have stagnated since 1973, lagging productivity considerably... that's not a set up for something, that's just a fact. You're just a pawn of the man.
* Sarcasm.
** The patriarchy owns all of us.

Song of the Day: "The Gate"

It was 23 years ago that Madonna channeled her inner Björk with "Bedtime Story." Of course, Björk was one of the song's writers so Madonna had an excuse.

I'm pretty sure Enya didn't write this song from Björk's new Utopia album, so I don't know what her excuse is.

Okay, it's really only the first minute, but still...

Song: "The Gate"
Artist: Björk

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Song of the Day: "Mighty River"

It seems like just yesterday, or possibly the Tuesday before that, that the movie Precious, based on the novel Push by Sapphire, was released with a mother fucking awesome performance from Oscar winner Mo'nique, and solid work from the other one and some other people too. John Waters calls it a comic romp.

On its quest to rack up some serious Oscar nominations (it received 6 nominations and won 2, including Best Adapted Screenplay, regarded as an upset over Up in the Air, a movie filled with white people), the movie tripped on its own petard and the original song "I Can See in Color" written by Mary J. Blige, Raphael Saadiq, and LaNeah Menzies, and performed by Mary J. herself, was deemed ineligible for Oscar consideration due to insufficient representation in the movie (see also: that song from Brokeback Mountain that you barely hear when he's in the pick-up truck, and possibly "The Wrestler" from The Wrestler).

For the new Oscar contender Mudbound (now showing on Netflix which is how I can seem current with a movie), songwriters Mary J. Blige, Raphael Saadiq (this sounds familiar), and third writer you've never heard of (Taura Stinson)'s song "Mighty River" (performed by Mary J. Blige) is vying for Best Original Song. Will the film's producers give it ample exposure to maintain eligibility? I probably need to watch more than 10 minutes in to find out.

And like Precious, based on the novel Push by Sapphire, Mudbound has a Best Supporting Actress contender from a non-actor: Mary J. Blige. Although, like Mo'Nique, Blige has acted in movies before, but like Mo'Nique, "actress" isn't the first profession associated with either (comedian, and goddess--you figure out which is associated with who [listen to Sam Smith's interstitial commentary on The London Sessions for help]).

I am now going back to the movie.

Song: "Mighty River"
Artist: Mary J. Blige

Musical Theater Therapy: "We're All in This Together"

Musical Theater Therapy would like to take this moment to remind you that today's surly teen listening to 21 Pilots or Kodak Black is the same kid that was bopping along to Disney's High School Musical just a few years ago. Remind them of that the next time the say something obnoxious. Maybe during Thanksgiving dinner.

High School Musical was the first of the High School Musical trilogy (other movies in the trilogy: High School Musical 2 and High School Musical 3). It was the Disney Channel's most watched movie of 2006... up until August. It was the most watched during the first 7 months of 2006 which is impressive if you're not paying attention.

HSM stars Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron and nobody else that matters. Hudgens played Rizzo in Grease: Live and Gigi in a Lincoln Center production of Gigi (one of the most fun roles and one of the most boring musicals, back to back). Efron manages to get nearly naked in every movie he's done, fulfilling his usefulness to the world.

Today's song is "We're All In This Together" from High School Musical and today's lesson is that we're actually NOT all in this together. Many of us are actively working against some of the others of us. Eventually we will all die.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Further Adventures in Antisemitism

Once upon a time I disliked Roy Moore because he refused to have a Ten Commandments monument removed despite a court order that he do so. I became especially pissed when I found out that he had the thing installed without getting permission from anyone. He just fucking authorized the thing to be installed. I mean, fuck, where were the court house office manager and maintenance people? They should have stepped up and stopped that shit.

But whatever. Moore was despicable then and remains despicable (and deplorable) and, oh yeah, he's also a pedophile (pedophiles, they can be straight as well as gay).

Of course as Republican apologists for Moore will tell you, 1) it never happened, and B) it wasn't a big deal that it did happen, and also JEWS!!!

What Jews? Imaginary Jews (the worst kind)!!!

Shades of Karl Rove's undoing of John McCain in South Carolina in 2000, robocalls carrying misinformation have been blanketing Alabama laden with insinuation and antisemitism. See if you can pick up on its subtlety:
"Hi, this is Bernie Bernstein, I’m a reporter for the Washington Post calling to find out if anyone at this address is a female between the ages of 54 to 57 years old willing to make damaging remarks about candidate Roy Moore for a reward of between $5,000 and $7,000 dollars. We will not be fully investigating these claims, however we will make a written report. I can be reached by email at Thank you."
Did you see it? Between $5k and $7k, that's an outrage!!! Damaging remarks of this nature are worth $15k at least. Way to imply that Jews are cheap Steve Bannon*.

But here's my question: WTF is up with the specific and limited age range of 54 to 57 years old? Everyone knows that kosher law requires you to have 10 full years when trying to fabricate a liberal hit piece on someone.

Also it never happened.

Also it's okay that it happened because, Jesus.

* There is no evidence to suggest Steve Bannon is behind these calls. But also it's totally Steven Bannon.

Disappointing David Brooks Part 515

"Just because you don't get my point doesn't
make me cluelessly misogynistic" 
In the ongoing parade of things that disappoint David Brooks, the tragedy of tribalism is the disappointing-est. Or one of the most disappointing-est.

Not a naked liberal in the John
Locke sense, which, as you
know, is a reasonable way to
frame the discussion.
Also super disappointing? That liberals don't care for other people. because they lack social, emotional and moral formations (which are...?) on account of weakened family, faith, community (which might seem like tribalism when taken in the context of this next item), and national allegiance (also tribalism, just larger so, but also NOT tribalism because in this situation it's a good thing and tribalism is bad) and, oh, sometimes when he talks about liberals he's talking about liberalism in the John Locke sense where the label can be applied to liberals and conservatives in the traditional sense--but this is perfectly valid because we all know what this means from our junior year, remember "Ethics and Economics" or "Moral Agency and Responsibility" or "Gender, Family and the Exclusion Crisis" (easy A, amirite?)--so don't get tripped up. If we don't embrace a Judeochristian (and mostly Christian) American ethic we will never take care of other people (despite evidence that atheists are actually better at taking care of others, and far less likely to commit heinous crimes claiming justification from the Bible).

These are not the naked liberals David Brooks is talking about.

According to David Brooks, freedom without covenant becomes selfishness, and I have to say I don't disagree. But also freedom with covenant becomes selfishness. I guess what I'm saying is that human beings are selfish people and when you give them the ability to gain more and more by screwing other people, they will do that because unfettered selfishness with, or without covenant is America in a nutshell. But that's just me, that's not David Brooks who would probably be disappointed that I opined my own opinion in the midst of his disappointment.

Shorter David Brooks: we must come together, in a moderately reasonable way, as a nation (which is not a very very large tribe because, reasons) and compromise or get along or be civil with each other so that we don't have the opiate epidemic or the tribalism or the racism. The only race that matters is David Brooks's race, which may or may not be the human race.

Bonus points to David Brooks for unironically titling the column "Our Elites Still Don't Get It" and double bonus points to David Brooks for this sentence: Many people my age and above seem clueless.