Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Because whore means exactly what we all think it means.

Indie band The Like recently gave an interview in which they disparaged Lady Gaga for dressing like a "whore," and insisted that they were much better than that. Which, first of all:
"The Like" lead singer Z Berg
I don't think I've ever seen Lady Gaga's nipples. If I had, however, I'm pretty damn sure that Lady Gaga would have WANTED me to see her nipples.

But more importantly than their sour grapes and hypocrisy, it bears repeating that it is never okay to shame other artists or other women for not expressing their sexuality in a way--within morality--that falls in line with our own choices and how we present ourselves.

I could get snippy here about how The Like look and act like they stepped straight out of a softcore American Apparel ad, all doe eyes and long hair and coy smiles and really short skirts; but that is how they choose to dress and IT IS VALID. It is a valid aesthetic to shoot for, and it will help sell their albums just as Lady Gaga's brash, alien-queen outfits help sell HER albums. And there is nothing wrong with that, nothing wrong with using one's sexuality to sell a product...so long as one acknowledges it then doesn't turn around and criticize someone else for doing the exact same thing, just in a different way.

Seriously, ladies, stop tearing each other down. I don't listen to either of your albums, but there are precious few female success stories in the industry.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Drumming diary: Dazed & Confused...yeah, no

This week, on Rachel Learns the Zep...

There's nothing quite like starting to learn a new song and thinking, one-third of the way through, "HOLY JESUS WHAT HAVE I DONE???"

I'mmmmmm notgonnabelearning "Dazed & Confused" anytime soon. If my drumming abilites were a twelve-step program, it'd be about a ten, and I'm on six. It was the triplets in conjunction with 12/8 time that did me in--plus, I'm not entirely certain that the tab I've got is accurate. There's this part where--shit, it's hard to explain if you've never played rock drumming. But okay, though...there's this particular pattern to songs that you KNOW, that can learn to find in any rock or blues song and maybe somebody changes it up to be interesting but you don't take this EXACT pattern of crash-snare bass-bass-snare and move it ONE BEAT UP for TWELVE MEASURES, so that the crash happens on 4 instead of 1 and the snare happens on 1 and 3 instead of 2 and 4 where it BELONGS, DAMMIT. That is just WRONG. That is a WRONG TAB, and I hate wrong tabs!

The offending section. Okay, you see on the first line, about halfway through, how there's a break? There's the "groove" of a song, and then there's a "break," where the song changes up and throws in some crash or toms or something. In this case it goes CRASH CRASH CRASH then some patterns on the toms. Lather, rinse, repeat. The break isn't the problem, though: it's the fact that when we come out the other side of the break, at the end of the second measure on the second line, we go into this pattern that is just...WRONG. They've got the crash on 4! and the snare on 1! WRONG.

SO. We're switching to "Good Times, Bad Times" instead and setting "D&C" back a few weeks. Or months. We'll see.

Movie: Winter's Bone (****/****)

I've been meaning to see this one for a long time; fortunately the Fox Tower 10 theater downtown has been playing it for a month and seems likely to continue given the strong buzz around the film. It won the grand jury prize at Sundance and is easily the best film I've seen all year, or in recent memory.

Winter's Bone is the story of 17-year-old Ree Dolly, played by the 19-year-old Jennifer Lawrence. Abandoned by her father physically and by her mother mentally, Ree is raising her younger siblings on her own in the hard-scrabble Missouri backwoods. When her convict father goes missing and puts their house up for bond, she has to track him down through the terrifying, meth-infested veins of her own distant relatives in order to keep the shreds of her family together. It's film noir, Deliverance-style.

The people she encounters are more terrifying than any creepy-crawly movie monster that I've ever seen, all the more so because of their basis in reality. John Hawkes from Deadwood is particularly effective as Teardrop, Ree's uncle who's a violent wife-abuser and a crank dealer but is also the only person willing to help her. When you first meet him he scares you shitless; but as Ree digs deeper in her search, she overturns so many scarier people--like her great-aunt Merab, played by the pinch-mouthed Dale Dickey--that when Teardrop appears again at a crucial moment and "stands" for Ree, you want to hug the bastard.

Ree (Lawrence)

Set direction also deserves praise. Every inch of their lives rings true to me, from the trampoline set up in the backyard to the trash in the yards to the way Ree summons her siblings into the kitchen to watch her cook deer stew so that they'll know how, down the road. I grew up as a middle-class household surrounded by rural poverty. I have seen homes like theirs; I have known girls like Ree, who defy any explanation of how they grew up tall and straight among such crooked, strangled surroundings. For despite all the obstacles she faces, Ree has a self-possession far beyond her years. Lawrence turns in an amazing performance, watchful and fierce and determined. It doesn't hurt that she's gorgeous, too.

The film also has the glorious, rare quality of having both a strong female lead and a gifted female director, Debra Grank, behind the camera. One, I imagine, is tied to the other, or both are symbiotic. I'm not saying that it's impossible for any male directors to have strong heroines but when people defend, say, Christopher Nolan's clear lack in that department, they're quick to point out that he's writing from a man's perspective. So if we want to see complex, independent female characters with autonomy and emotional depths, we'd better support our female directors--since apparently we're not allowed to expect that out of men. (And yet Kathryn Bigelow earns glowing praise and the first female directing Oscar for a nearly all-male war film. Funny how that works.)

Don't wait to see this film. Get it now in theaters, then again on DVD. It's amazing.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Drumming diary: Your Time Is Gonna Come

This week, on Rachel Learns the Zep...

Well, that was relatively painless, especially after the uphill slog that was Whole Lotta Love.

I still find myself longing for a different kit. Athena -- my jazz-fushion forest green PDP MX Series -- has served me well over the years, but if I'm going to continue in this Zeppelin vein, I should really get something that gives me a better BOOM for my buck.

<-----The noble and valiant Athena, who I got for $475 off Craigslist, complete with hardware, cymbals, and throne. I KNOW. I felt like a thief in the night.

Ideally I'd want to go with something similar to Bonham's kit, or at least something a bit more straight-rock. Nice big floor tom, maybe some kind of kick mount so I can finally get my heavyass 20" ride cymbal on a stand that isn't about to fall over at the first stiff breeze.

I have a mental list of everything I'd buy if I had the money:
--Lasik eye surgery
--Jaw surgery so my jaw wouldn't crack every bloody time I try to eat a sandwich, and also that my teeth would finally meet in front
--a gun
--a car, any car, sweet Jesus

So, yeah. It's on the list, but my eyes and oral health are a bit higher on the DEFCON levels right now.

In keeping with the helpful pattern of easier song-harder song-easier song-harder song, I'm thinking I might do Dazed and Confused next. For those who can't read drum notation, that would be a (much) harder song. It's got a tempo jump in the middle, going from 52 bpm to 190, multiple triplet-oriented fills (Bonham loves his triplets), and is gonna be very tricky to count out.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Silken tresses fluttering in the ----- SHWACK

NY Mag's Vulture has a fluffy piece about the fashion choices of recent female action heroines. On the surface it's pretty meaningless, but they do address a pet peeve of mine: women fighting with their goddamn hair in their goddamn faces. (Never watch an Army movie with me. I will sit there the entire time grousing about flyaway hairs and trousers untucked from boots. Female soldiers do not wear ponytails, dammit, it's high-and-tight or a tight bun!)

I have hair all the way down my back. There is nothing more annoying than having it slip free and fall in my face, and I'm not even doing battle with ravening zombies/slathering aliens/killer robots on a daily basis. (Woe.)

I guarantee you that the first thing any real-life woman would do when facing battle with a baddie is tie back and/or hack off her hair. Yet these movie heroines are doing backflips and firing guns and riding helicopters with their long locks fluttering free in the breeze. I keep waiting for one of their silken tresses to get stuck in a rotator blade.

But maybe that's the point. Mass media insists that long hair is sexy, and dangerous woman are usually sexified (as if in order to make up for the fact that she can kick a man's ass--don't worry, dudes, you can still imagine her sucking your dick!). It's sexy becuase it's vulnerable, because it would be totally and completely impractical in an actual fight. It's a way of declawing them.

(Vulture's 100% right about Milla Jovovich, too. Hotcha.)