Thursday, January 1, 2009

"Put your raygun to my head..."

I have vivid memories of viewing a beat up VHS of the entire concert movie from which this is pulled with a college friend back when I was still way into punk, music in general and the entire art of performing rock, especially the mysterious concept known in the music business as "creating a presence". The way I see it, this performance of David Bowie/Ziggy Stardust at the Hammersmith in 1973 will hold up forever, or at least as long as people give a guitar lick about what Rev. Timothy Lovejoy referred to as "rock and/or roll". It features incredible musicianship and flawless stagecraft in delivering the demands message. The words of the "message" epitomize just about every excess of which the rock genre can be rightfully accused, viz., sexual messianism, absurd science fiction references, cultural jargon ("lay the real thing on me") and frequent descents into whimsical gibberish ("squawking like a pink monkey bird"). The performance features include ecstatic chicks fawning in the audience, intense gender confusion and a long, self-indulgent, effect-laden guitar solo replete with shots of guitarist Mick Ronson's made-up face contorted with pantomimed ecstasies. Plus there are dozens of little nuggets and gems: narcissistic gesticulations, smirks, pouts, poses, pelvic grinds, blowing of kisses, falsetto chirps and departures from the melody into melodramatic sprechstimme. In other words, it's orgiastic psychedelia served up with customary British pomp, circumstance, costumes and a mostly straight face. The British might not be able to say they invented rock, but idols like Bowie and Bolan contributed tremendously toward the development of the "glamour of rock", aptly named as such.

I love how Bowie promptly struts off the stage around 3:40 after raising his hands in a final blessing. Personally I think that the erstwhile Mr. Jones is playing Mercury to Mick Ronson's Zeus here, but that's just me. Actually, the rhythm guitarist here is John "Hutch" Hutchinson who deserves as much credit for the sound of the performance as does Mick, but maybe not as much for the pomposity or decadence of the video. It's to bad that Groupie Number Four gets more face time than Hutch whose signature crunch guitar initiates the song and propels the rhythm throughout, allowing Ronson to freak out on the lead as the lyrics continually demand.

Check out the happy hand jive from 0:52-1:09―I want what she's having.

Twenty or so years after the roadies packed this show onto the lorries, Jennifer Lopez had Versace alter Mick Ronson's silk PJ's from this tour and famously wore it to the Oscars.

Don't get me wrong; as much as I love to make fun of this thing it still blows me away every time I check it out. Besides, without stuff like this we'd never have This is Spinal Tap.


(1) There's a word for this practice but I can't think of what it is. My oldest son does this completely naturally in his version of Frosty the Snowman -- scary. [UPDATE: Sprechstimme! Thanks, Kathleen. I put it in there.]

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Nativity by Joe

Joe is four, he'll be 5 in April '09. He said "I drew this about what we read last night." We had read the Nativity story from Matthew. (Click picture for a large size print scan.)

You can pretty much identify Jesus and his Blessed mother, but here's a detail of them.

The figure at the bottom of that detail is a sheep. Joe pointed out that the other four or so sheep were "going up to walk on the star". They look very happy to me. But my favorite animal in the photo is definitely the donkey.

Last but not least, one of the wise men does show up with gifts and two shepherds. They're along the bottom of the drawing, the two shepherd right under Baby Jesus. Here's the detail: Sheep, Shepherd, Shepherd, Gifts, Wise-man.

Happy New Year to all my readers.

Blagojevich's Smart Move

Boy, does Blago know how to play the game. Genius move, the Roland Burris appointment. He has defied all the other corrupt politicians in Chicago―excuse the redundancy―calling for his resignation. He has injected race into the matter with the help of Rep. Bobby Rush, a former Black Panther and big-time philanthropist who has whole-heartedly supported Burris, ignoring any potential tarnish. Rush famously and hilariously once stated, "Barack Obama went to Harvard and became an educated fool. Barack is a person who read about the civil-rights protests and thinks he knows all about it." So you can feel the Obama-love right there; it's the same level of love that Blago himself has fo' the President Elect.

He has also made good on his promise to "stay and fight" and in my opinion, is implicitly daring all the other folks involved, mostly Democrats, to show their cards. My take is that he sees a possibility for parachuting out of this, but just in case he's going to take some people down with him. Or at the very least make them sweat like spear-wielding hunters encircling a wounded tiger, each afraid that the beast's last leap will be directed at him. Welcome to the jungle, fellas.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Another ridiculous moral equivalency attack on Christianity

I have a new post on the Alexandria blog which I felt compelled to write after this little exchange in the comment boxes between Harvey Lacey and me, which I'll abbreviate here:

Pauli: I don’t know why it harms gays to be told they can’t have the same kind of relationship men have with their wives which we commonly call marriage. They can call their relationship what they want, they can even call it marriage, but it’s different. If you want to say it’s no different then that’s your opinion, your belief if you will. The belief of traditional Christians is that this could do more harm to gays to tell them this because it’s a lie.

Harvey: The only thing that supports your position on heterosexual marriage being superior to a homosexual one is your belief. And your belief has nothing but suspicion and myth to support you.

When you find yourself in a quiet place where you can hear clearly the discussions between your heart and your brain I would like you to think about believing what you do. Consider for a moment the motivation of the parents of the Indians who gave up their daughter for sacrifice. That’s believing my friend, that’s believing. Your belief doesn’t take near as much commitment. But it’s no less wrong.

So believing that gays can't have a marriage equivalent to a traditional marriage between a man and a woman is called "no less wrong" than committing human sacrifice by killing one's offspring. No less wrong. This is the disease called moral equivalency, and we see it everyday from the assertion that opposing "universal single-payer health care" is morally equivalent to being pro-abortion to the baseless assumption that Israel must be just as bad as the terrorist group, Hamas, since they are fighting them.

I go on to show that there is a lot more than merely "suspicion and myth" which supports accepting marriage as being defined traditionally by linking to David Benkof's "Phantom Past" which I recommended everyone should read last week. I reiterate this recommendation again because it shows the "gay narrative" to be as mythical as anything we Christianists ever came up with and it does so in the language of historical and anthropological research.

Being able in a small way to expose the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of this sort of nonsense is one of the reasons that I accepted the opportunity to write―without compensation―for Alexandria, a blog featuring very few gold nuggets amidst the boring and nauseating dirt.

Caroline, You Know, Kennedy

Have you guys, or ladies for that matter, ever run into a drunk woman in a bar who wants to tell you her life story? And the saddest thing is she's just rambling and rambling and it's not even very interesting. Caroline Kennedy's speech pattern as demonstrated here reminds me of this phenomenon. And her using the word "hierarchical" is a lot like Uncle Ted Kennedy using all those water analogies that Laura Ingraham pointed out on her show. Long live the royal family, I guess.

Am I a Fat Idiot?

Check out this spam mail I just got:

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Yep, "Fat Loss 4 Idiots" has got to be the work of a marketing genius. What could be better for attracting customers than insulting someone's intelligence? The "Dear our friend" was a nice touch. Much better than "Dear [your name]". You truly can't make this stuff up.