Of The Flaming Lips, it can be said that they are done asking questions. 1995: Where does outer space end? 1999: Is it overwhelming to use a crane to crush a fly? 2002: Do you realize? 2009: They are either dissatisfied with the answers, or never found any. Embryonic marks phase IV in an art-rock enterprise that could have folded phases ago, and the band sounds apprehensive.* The only thing about the album that isn’t rad is its female subjugation imagery.
Of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, it can be said that up until last week I thought the lead singer is female. Finding out otherwise hasn’t changed my opinion of the band, and I’m in fact pleased to learn that the “place where music is happening” is still so remote that I can make mistakes like this.
Of women, it can be said that Hollywood doesn’t like them much anymore, at least not the way it did in 1939 when The Women was released. Watching that film the other night, I don’t know which I noticed first: that the time was passing very pleasantly, or that there were no men to be seen. But the film’s tagline is It’s About Men, so let me mention its director, George Cukor, routinely forgotten as a great auteur when Howard Hawks is so often remembered. Hawks seems the rugged individualist, while Cukor was probably as beholden to the lives of men as the women of The Women.
Of R.E.M., it can be said that they are my mom’s favorite band, and probably mine too. Which makes them perfect car listening.
Of Julia (2008) and Toy Story 2 (1999), it can be said that they are masterworks about poverty and the search for self, respectively.
Of Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, it can be said: Prince.
Of Prince, it can be said, I’ve been away too long.
Of Jack Keefe from Ring Lardner’s You Know Me Al, it can be said that sometimes our worst qualities make us charming.
Of Roger Ebert’s new Twitter account, it can be said that Roger lets it be said.
Aaron suggested I start a television tab on my newly multi-mediated roundup blog. Last week, all four original Stueven kids and Mom went to pub trivia night and won a bunch of Samuel Adams caps and bottle openers after sweeping an Emmy winners category. I’ve made the joke twice and I’ll make it again: They must assume anyone who watches so much TV is alcoholic. We’re not alcoholics, but like any upstanding lower class citizens we watch a lot of TV, so it’s prime time to tell you about a couple of my programs:
The Office is a show about how much you, the viewer, love The Office and its characters. Jim and Pam’s wedding wasn’t a television episode so much as the paramount social event of fall 2009. Jim makes a speech about the long ago days when Pam had another boyfriend and he could only admire her from afar, but don’t worry, he’s not talking about memories available only to himself: He’s talking about The Office seasons one and two! (Note: This is what I love about The Office.)
My favorite red carpet dresses tend to be universally shat upon by those in the know:
The same is often true of Project Runway, which makes it the rare show where it’s satisfying to see contestants break down and cry in the elimination segment. They’re not crying for obscure manufactured reality TV reasons; they’re crying because their great ideas and imaginations have been misunderstood by boors. I feel for them.
*When the Lips’ At War with the Mystics and Built to Spill’s You In Reverse were released in the same month of 2006, I posited the occurrence as a battle between Warner Bros. label-mates. The battle would be ongoing in 2009 (with Built to Spill’s There Is No Enemy also newly released) if the Lips hadn’t so firmly retreated into their own brains.