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Killing time in an airport earlier this year, I noticed on the departures board a flight to San Juan. This was probably in Houston, as I see now that Austin has no such direct flights; but either way, I was intrigued. And I was surprised, by this feeling I mean, because I’d been to Puerto […]

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The Dreaded Musical Icon Obituary

 

This is the post where you put in a few videos no one clicks to watch, because they know the song, and maybe didn’t feel the same affinity for the band you have. That’s how I feel about the artists of the ’60s — I might like a song, or admire the tunesmith’s skill in an unheralded B-side, but there’s a quality to the recording that dates it and puts it outside of my emotional range. It’s a matter of instrumentation, arrangement, production, the vocalist’s mannerisms. You had to be there. If you were 23 when the song came out, it grabbed you, man; got its mitts right into your pith. If you weren’t young and wrangling the thrashing loose wire of the popular culture, it doesn’t mean the same thing.

Listening to some Cars songs tonight, all the good ’80s tropes are present – the chilly synthetic seriousness that would make a great “Miami Vice” scene where Sonny drives to a meeting; the echoey melancholy; the wry untutored lead vocal that nailed down the band’s sound; the warm synth beds and telltale patches for the keyboards of the era; the wet guitar solos mixed up front — a raw squealing rip given a moment to tear it up within the parameters of an exquisitely crafted and controlled pop song. 

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What If The Beatles Didn’t Break Up? Imagining Their ‘Next’ Album

 

One of the most entertaining hypotheticals for Beatles’ fans to discuss is what the Beatles would have sounded like or recorded if they had stayed together after the release of Let It Be.* In a sense, this is an even more fruitless counterfactual than another popular one: What songs would have been on The White Album if it hadn’t been a double album (which I have already covered). Unlike the case of that what-if, the songs the Beatles would have done together were never released as Beatles songs. And to imagine the Beatles staying together after 1970 is to wish away the centrifugal forces that had by that point already largely torn the four musical titans at the band’s center apart.**

But Beatles’ fans such as myself speculate nonetheless, aided by morsels such as collaborations between members after the break-up (most notably in the almost-Beatles song “I’m the Greatest!”), and demos of songs that later became solo work but were conceived or sometimes even recorded while the Beatles were still together (e.g., much of George Harrison’s first post-Beatle solo album, All Things Must Pass).

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The geography of Rio de Janeiro is every bit as great as everybody thinks it is. The streets of Rio de Janeiro are something else, though maybe not in the way most people imagine. I am not referring just to those in slums; I am referring to the whole city, indeed all big Brazilian cities. […]

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America shed no tears at the death of former Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe, who repressed and sometimes killed his people and ruthlessly clung to power for decades. They also react to the new that former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz will not be mounting a 2020 […]

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Weinstein, Messing, and McCormack: A Study on Power and Control

 

“Will and Grace” was a TV show that aired about a decade and a half ago. It was based around the lives of four friends, two of whom were gay, living in New York. The show was funny; it was good, it made me laugh. NBC decided to bring it back, but this time their goal was to do as many seasons as they could bashing President Trump and his supporters. And bash they did, for three entire seasons. And it was as boring as can be.

Eric McCormack and Debra Messing play the title characters, Will and Grace. Now McCormack and Messing have both taken their roles as Trump bashers off the set and into the streets of Twitter.

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America welcome the news that Hong Kong – at the direction of Communist China – has withdrawn the extradition bill that sparked massive protests, but they’re still not sure this story will have a happy ending. They also pummel Bloomberg News and reporter Ben Penn […]

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Two of the orc aides were lying on the flagstones of the great market plaza of Vanesca with arrows sticking out of their bodies, the ambassador’s bodyguards were engaged with the Prince and Berrick and Argentite, and the third orc had just run up to Willem and smacked him with the ornate club he carried. […]

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are glad to see New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand exit the 2020 Democratic presidential race, both because she had no chance and because she may have been the most obvious at pandering in the entire field – which is saying something since she was […]

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I have a cousin. She is not funny. She is mildly obnoxious, but she is not funny. I cannot recall a time where she told a joke or made someone laugh. So it came as some surprise, then, when we learned she had a minor part in a well-known comedy troupe. You see, on a […]

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Once Upon a Spinning-Wheel (Part 3): The Mermaid’s Tears

 

Someone had been dancing the cancan on my chest, or that’s what it felt like when I woke up. I could smell the sea somewhere nearby. That, and I was pretty sure there was sand in my shoes — always a giveaway. I opened my eyes — and found out two things: one, no one was immediately trying to kill me (always a plus), and two, mermaids have really pretty smiles.

Admittedly, my sample size was limited, but just at that moment, I was prepared to take the risk of being wrong. Incidentally, that thing about the clam-shell bikini is hogwash. My mermaid (I was making wedding plans already, apparently, although I wasn’t quite sure why exactly) was sensibly dressed in a shirt, sea-breeches, and honking great sea-boots, and had the most glorious head of golden-green hair I have ever seen. How did I know she was a mermaid then, absent the long finny tail? Ah, you learn to notice these things, after you’ve been around for a while. You develop a fine-tuned sense of judgement and expertise. Plus, about seven of her sisters were sitting round in the shallows with tridents and fish tails, and stormy expressions on their faces — as if to say, look what the tide washed in. Gulp. Out of the frying pan, into the deep fat fryer …

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Witch Way

 

It was raining, cats and dogs (well, a witch’s cat and a sort-of werewolf with bones for brains – she really shouldn’t say that, even in the privacy of her own thoughts, but bless him it was true) were taking cover, and she still had to finish this blasted potion. Never, never, never, the dripping young woman thought to herself, brew a potion from a recipe book that actually specifies it be made ‘on ae righte blasted heathe on ye first true dark midnight after th’ full moone, and thatte at the height of ae summer storme’.

But here she was, soaked to the skin and getting more and more drenched by the moment, frantically stirring a bubbling cauldron with a long hazel stick (‘exactlie five foote in lengthe’), as the wind blew against her trailing black cloak and threatened to take her with it. She’d already seen her hat go whistling away over the horizon. ‘I tried to tell you,’ said a voice from under a pair of wet, flattened-down ears somewhere in the undergrowth.

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The Barbarians Outside and Within the Gates

 

Portland is gearing up for a potential clash between Antifa and the Proud Boys on Saturday, August 17. Some merchants and civic groups have canceled events they had planned for downtown Portland. This includes Kells Irish Pub; they had planned to hold some amateur boxing matches on Saturday. Rather ironic that.

The mayor and a disparate group of civic leaders and community organizers held an outdoor gathering pleading for calm. One Rabbi stepped up to the microphone and defended Antifa; she might have a touch of the Jesuit within her, or at the very least Father Pfleger of Chicago. She was not the only one that believes that Antifa is a defender of Portland’s virtue.

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A Memory

 

You didn’t meet many girls with glowing eyes. Not “eyes that sparkled” or “eyes that shone”, but eyes that literally glowed. Of course, not many girls also magically transformed so that their legs were replaced with a snake’s tail, so maybe it balanced out. ‘What’ss the matter?’ she said, with a slight trailing, lisping hiss, advancing towards him in the torchlight. He found himself backing nervously against the stone wall, trying to cover his own eyes with his hand. ‘Cassandra, it’s not that I don’t like you, it’s just …’ There was something … hypnotic about that green glow … the way the patterns swirled round and around …

‘That’s better, little hero …’ said the lamia softly, her eyelights drawing him in, so that he barely noticed the fangs or the forked tongue past over-madeup lips. ‘Just look into my eyes … Don’t worry about anything else …’ It seemed to him there was something he was forgetting. Something important. A face kept rising to the front of his mind, and a feeling in his chest. A friendly face … with eyes that actually did shine and sparkle. Eyes he’d seen tears in, a face he’d seen smiling and never seen anything so beautiful … Suddenly, the swirling spirals seemed to fade, and there was just a very puzzled and slightly-hurt-looking girl, tapping the floor with a disconcerting scaly sound.

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The Hello to Chinese Censors

 

Back in college, I worked as a theater usher and I think it was then that I began the practice of reading the credits. I would wait in the back of the theater for people to leave so I could sweep up popcorn and hope for dropped change. You have to wait for the end of the credits for two of my favorite trivia bits, the information about the music and locations. But sometimes you see something else interesting or odd. Now many wait through credits in Marvel and Pixar films for those extras, but I seat through all credits of all films I see in the theater.

The Farewell is a very good film in theaters now (rocking 99% at Rotten Tomatoes) about a family divided. A woman’s children have left China and migrated (one assumes legally) out of the country, one son to Japan and the other to America, New York City. 

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Sun-Struck

 

He woke to the sound of distant music, a gentle sea breeze washing over him from somewhere. He heard the creak of timbers around him. Where am I this time, he found himself thinking. He seemed to be in a low wooden room, decorated with carvings, but otherwise empty. The carvings were . . . strange: Mermaids singing, maps like something out of an old storybook, and smiling young ladies with . . . banjos? He shook his head, walking out onto the main deck. As his eyes got used to the bright sunlight, he saw that he wasn’t alone.

There was a man — weathered and dressed in rags, his long white beard trailing down over the deck — tied to the mast and fast asleep. The ship around him apparently wasn’t in great shape. There were areas of broken woodwork, as if some huge monster had smashed through them. Through one of these he could see the ship’s wheel, lashed into position. Off to one side, there was an island on the horizon. He was no sailor, but as best he could tell, the ship was going round in circles. ‘Well?’ said a voice as old as the sea. ‘Don’t just stand there — untie me, confound it! I want to see what that music’s all about!’

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Member Post

 

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America marvel at the civic illiteracy in the gun debate, as Fox Business Network host Trish Regan asserts that President Trump could simply issue an executive order to ban assault weapons. They also discuss Trump’s bizarre fascination with possibly commuting the prison sentence of disgraced […]

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