1995, Music

Ocean Beach (1995) by Red House Painters

This is my first encounter with Red House Painters and…wait a minute, it’s not? Apparently I positively reviewed their debut in 2017 but I have zero memory of that. I know from my review and from looking at the track listings that the debut is a different beast than this record but I wish I …

1995, Music

Me Against the World (1995) by 2Pac

So I guess the first thing I have to talk about with this record is expectations, which is often a problem for me when I first encounter someone about which an absolute ton of ink (both literal and proverbial) has been spilt. 2Pac is one of the most lionized rappers in history as far as …

2020, Music

Fetch the Bolt Cutters (2020) by Fiona Apple

So, full disclosure: I love Fiona Apple. My least favourite of all her albums is her first record, which is still extremely impressive for someone of her age. (Compare it to records made by similarly aged artists through the history of pop music, I bet it stands out pretty strongly). So I don’t think I …

2002, Movies, Music

I Am Trying to Break Your Heart (2002, Sam Jones)

As a big fan of Wilco, and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, it’s crazy it took me this many years to watch this movie. But it’s possible that the intervening years gave me some clarity with it, that I might not have had when I was first falling in love with this band (more than a few …

2011, Movies

Moneyball (2011, Bennett Miller)

This is an enjoyable dramatization of the Oakland As’ 2002 season, from the perspective of their General Manager, who was trying to win games with the lowest budget in baseball. I say dramatization because there is a lot of poetic license here, and because the most important players on that team are barely even acknowledged.

1990, Music

I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got (1990) by Sinead O’Connor

Sinead’s second album is considerably more self-assured and even than her debut, though it’s lacking a bit of the energy of the debut and, also, the pure shock factor of a woman so young seeming like such a self-assured songwriter and performer. And like the debut, it hasn’t dated that well, but that’s sort of …

1990, Music

Sex Packets (1990) by Digital Underground

What can I possible say about this insane album? It’s a concept album about a sex drug but, like most concept albums, that concept isn’t evident on many of the tracks. And it features the main rapper rapping both as himself and, infamously, in character, something I don’t know how often I’ve encountered before (and …

1990, Music

Blacks’ Magic (1990) by Salt n Pepa

Contrary to what I thought, Salt n Pepa are a manufactured group, just TLC is (which I didn’t know either, at the time). They’re like proto TLC albeit with their own DJ. (That’s a joke.) Not knowing much about the state of Hip Hop in 1990, it still feels to me more authentic than “manufactured” …

1985, Music

Hell Awaits (1985) by Slayer

So I’ve never heard their debut, only later records, so I don’t know how this compares to that record, but I read that it is significantly better (more ambitious, louder, more professional), etc. Even without hearing the debut, those descriptions make sense, because this is a crazy pummeling record, especially given that it’s 1985.

1985, Music

Up on the Sun (1985) by Meat Puppets

The more that I listen to the Meat Puppets the more it feels like they are one of the foundational bands of American alternative rock, setting the template for what was acceptable. When I was young and first encountering alternative, it felt like the diversity was baked in but original. The more I listen to …

1980, Music

Women and Children First (1980) by Van Halen

I listen to this record and I don’t remember it a few hours, maybe even minutes later. The first time I listened to I wasn’t even sure I listened to it a couple of hours later, I had to look at the track listing to confirm. What I’m saying is that this record doesn’t have …

1980, Music

Glass Houses (1980) by Billy Joel

I read somewhere that this is supposed to be Joel’s “punk” album, not in that it sounds like punk that it is his response. I think that comes from a way too deep reading of the lyrics to “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me”, and if it is indeed his response to these trends …

2020, Personal, Society

A Journal of the Pandemic Year: Day 37

Continued from Day 36 I think one reason I don’t have much to say about our pandemic is because I have been putting my faith in the experts, to a much greater degree than I normally do. From the beginning, my girlfriend was paying far more attention than I was and was more informed. And …

2020, Movies

Made You Look (2020, Barry Avrich)

This is a very well done, but very straight-forward, art fraud documentary that is apparently so new I can’t even rate it on IMDB yet. It turns out I was already familiar with the story – we think through an episode of American Greed – but the access the filmmakers get and the skill with …

2020, Personal, Society

A Journal of the Pandemic Year: Day 36

The WHO declared coronavirus a pandemic on March 11th. On March 12th my province extended the upcoming March Break for an additional week. On March 14th, my country recommended against international travel. On March 17th, my province declared a State of Emergency. (The day before, my girlfriend’s office instructed them to work from home.) On …

2020, Philosophy, Politics, Society

The Problem of Subjectivity

Throughout most of human history, we haven’t done a good job of understanding objective reality. Learning about objective reality has been a slow, difficult process, with many setbacks, but which has rapidly accelerated in the last few centuries, especially the last one. If you compare the growth of scientific knowledge about the universe versus the …

1975, Music

Between the Lines (1975) by Janis Ian

It sure feels like Janis Ian has been mostly forgotten all these years later. She was basically never mentioned in the various music things I consumed as a teen and my first exposure to her was the use of”At Seventeen” in an episode of The Simpsons. I don’t think I heard much about her again …