We are starting a blog. We want it to be your #1 place to waste time when you should be working and generally being a good citizen. But sometimes words just aren’t enough. We need things for people’s eyes to look at. We want original photography, illustrations, comics and those…
Assure us you’re doing more than tweeting, boozing, and streaming episodes of “Burn Notice” in your spare time. Tell MinnPost which books you’ve read lately and which titles you’ve been recommending to others. Reblog with titles, or e-mail ypn [at] minnpost [dot] com by 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 10, 2010. Participants are entered to win two Park Square Theatre tickets, good for any show through June 2011.
Unlucky 7: My biggest musical disappointments of 2010
2010 was a shitty year for music. Everyone was hungover from 2009, when Animal Collective caused mainstream music to reach its weirdest heights yet. Suddenly it was OK to play “Leaf House” at The Buckle and indie music crashed. “How do we create an inclusive new kind of music too weird for lamestreamers? Do we call Yoko Ono? Or do we shy away from weird and reinvent techno music in an ironic indie genre called Chillwave? “
Yes, this is the year that something called Chillwave reigned supreme. It was as boring as it sounds. But what made 2010 suck the most was that so many heavyweights released disappointing albums.
We tried so hard to like them. We used words like “subtle,” “nuanced” and “mature.” Well, I’m done trying to get excited. Let’s embrace the boring. Let’s pinpoint it.
7. Arcade Fire “The Suburbs”
At first I thought I just hadn’t listened to this album enough to appreciate its detail, its artistry, its inwardness. But then we played it everyday at work for a week and I still didn’t care about it. I miss the fucking strings. The chaos. The energy.
6. Rusko “OMG!”
Rusko seemed so cool. He was the face of dub step, a loch ness monster variety of techno that is really cool in Europe or something. It was the newest, dirtiest sound to do drugs to, and Rusko was making it weirder and more textured than ever. After shaking his wobbly wand at tracks by everyone from M.I.A. to Britney Spears (is that becoming a smaller range? Blame M.I.A.) his own album was sadly cheesy and boring.
5. Avey Tare “Down There”
Who better to recover from “Merriweather Post Pavilion” with than the guy who weirded up Animal Collective so well for so long, Avey Tare? Sadly, this LP is JFS - just for stoners. Hit up a bong and maybe it’ll make you hallucinate in a cool way. Otherwise, it’s uninspired.
4. MGMT “Congratulations”
It’s hard to beat singles like “Kids.” “Congratulations” found the band of neon woodspeople in a new, humble, mellow place. I could get comfortable here, but I can’t help but ask, “Who’s going to write my anthems now? Who is going to write the ‘Redneck Woman’ of indieness?”
3. Panda Bear “Tomboy”
This album makes me mad. I keep thinking, “Why am I not sitting and enjoying the leak of the new Panda Bear album?” Then I think, “Oh yeah, because he is releasing two songs at a time, periodically, with almost no fanfare. And not only that, those songs are droned out and boring.” Hopefully there are some gems on this record that I haven’t heard yet, but his gimmick seems to have found the most dysfunctional reinforcement schedule for making me give a shit.
2. Nicki Minaj “Pink Friday”
The theatrical, violent, controversial, multi-faceted, insanely clever Nicki that we all know is barely present on this album. It gets the closest to what I expected from her “Monster” verse on track two, “Roman’s Revenge.” An awesome track that makes the name of a dorky game - Dungeons and Dragons - sound sexy, scary and full of street cred, it could have been the best track on the album. Nicki could practically land a role on Broadway with those vocal theatrics. Unfortunately, they roped in Eminem to guest star on this track, and to make sure he was intolerably sexist and just awful, they injected him with rabies and had his mother beat him with a raw steak before letting him out of his cage to spit and drool a couple verses out.
1. M.I.A. “/\/\/\Y/"
More than her album, I found the whole meltdown of M.I.A.’s integrity the biggest disappointment of the year. Lynn Hirschberg of the New York Times is responsible for making people who already hate her think she is nothing but a poser. But it would have really, really helped if this album was another “Kala,” another jet-setting, storytelling mix of eclecticism and criticism. Instead it’s a passive attempt to latch onto gimmicks cool in the indie world - dubstep, violent samples, chillwave - without adding much originality.
Side-note: This list could also function as a list of worst album covers of the year. Any correlation? Is the bad marketing that goes into choosing an ugly/non-interesting album cover a sign of overall lack of enthusiasm? Could be. Maybe I just like albums with ugly covers less. Who knows?
Here’s a question for you: Do you feel depressed when confronting this limp sandwich at Arby’s, after being promised this?
You may say, “Yes. Yes I do.” But then I have to offer you a counter question. Do you want to see that limp-ass burger on TV? Do you want to see it in magazines?
I’m encountering a real conundrum here, one that I think has precipitated in the recent demand that cigarette packages display eery pictures or hilariously foreboding cartoons. That conundrum is about reality vs. illusion.
It’s the same problem with skinny models in magazines, photoshopped celebrities, etc. We feel betrayed by the imagery in pop culture. It makes us feel fat. It makes burgers look delicious enough to get fat for. It gives us cancer by convincing us we’re thin and cool. We want that to go away, right?
America is all about spark. Everything is wearing a certain cloak that makes it seem better than it is. Pepsi isn’t just fizzy brown sugar water. It’s youth! It’s generational pride. It’s a lifestyle. The people who wear Ralph Lauren are not kids who live on cul-de-sacs and discuss “Eat, Prey, Love” in their book clubs. They are tall alien mermaids with high cheekbones who are always, always on horseback. (If they’re not playing tennis.)
I think the backlash against this layer of illusion is stronger than ever, and congress can’t really find a reason to protect it. Fat models, limp burgers, terrifying cigarettes - they can show reality as it is, and protect us from our own instincts. But that depresses me. I know that reality and pop culture imagery are different things. But isn’t it kind of nice to hold up that illusion? Doesn’t it make our burgers taste a little better?
A nightmare, to me, is living in a world where I have to look at dilapidated burgers ads in a magazine full of dead babies while drinking a soda that congress has forced to be ugly enough that kids would never want to pick it up. Controlling aesthetics to manipulate human behavior will make the world ugly, scary, boring and intolerable. I’d rather feel fat and risk cancer.
Big Pancake Makes 2 large pancakes, 4-6 servings each
4 eggs 1 cup milk 1 cup flour 1 teaspoon sugar 3/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter Lemon wedges Powdered sugar Berries Maple syrup
Preheat oven to 425. Whisk eggs, milk, flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature. Divide butter between two 9 or 10 cast iron skillets. Place in oven until butter melts. Remove pans, swirl butter to coat sides. Divide batter between pans.
Bake on lowest rack until golden brown, set on center rack and allow to bake until sides rise high above the sides of the pans, 12-15 minutes.
Made this for breakfast with lemon juice and powdered sugar after seeing the recipe in GQ. I’m going to experiment with this in some savory recipes sometime.
The story is by Soleil Ho, a writer for Heavy Table, and it’s a good read.
Would it be too vulgar to compare a Thanksgiving to a thrift store fitting room? The garment in question, which looked so perfect on the rack, transforms in the room. You notice the tiny flaws: a sticky zipper, some slight tightness around the arms, a missing button. My boyfriend’s family was the terrifying Christmas sweater counterpart to my family’s sassy high heels. But you have to make a decision: do I have what it takes to strut down the street and rock this? I wasn’t really sure if I fit in with my boyfriend’s life, but I enjoyed the novelty of it. People in their early twenties make important decisions like that.
We are adding to our blog. Not just a Live Journal about how often a certain staff member listens to Daniel Bedingfield and cries. No, we want our blog to be the McSweeneys of Gawkers. The Esquire of Pitchforks. We want it to give a voice to Minneapolis – a smart, irreverent, original voice that documents the culture of our little, snowy city.
Why would you want to write for MPLS.TV’s blog?
If you are looking to make moneybags off your writing skills, we suggest you look into the endless opportunities that exist elsewhere [sarcasm]. While it’s true that we can’t pay you yet, writing for MPLS.TV is a unique opportunity to craft an entire outlet around your vision. You can write what you always wished you could read, and have a large audience too. Plus, it’s a chance to work with creative people and make new connections. We’re all doing this for free, so we want to have as much fun as possible. Yes there’s beer. Yes there are zoo animals. Yes the vampire from “Twilight” is chained to a bar in our office. Also, it looks good on your resume.
Prerequisites: We want someone fun, irreverent, original, wired-in, pop culture-savvy, witty. You should be able to construct a sentence with personality, imagery and style. One that is the opposite of a Hallmark card or that text on Caribou bus ads. Because we’re working for free at this point, working together has to be like a party. It should involve disco balls and six-packs and firecrackers. Do you like those things? If you apply, we will stalk your Facebook profile, so get those interests and activities in line, son. Too avant-garde to be on Facebook? We will find you. If you like Nickelback, you’re out. Don’t care if you’re the next Hemingway. (You’re not. Not if you like Nickelback. It’s a scientific correlation.)
How to apply: Send a short resume and writing samples to firstname.lastname@example.org. See that part that says, “writing samples?” You might be inclined to ignore that. If you do, your application will also be ignored. Got a blog? Send a link. Maybe we’ll be friends.
I’m skeptical about Path. Not because people don’t want yet another site they can use to waste time and stalk one another. This allows them to do just that, with a design that looks a hell of a lot nicer than Twitter, and makes it easier to use photos too. No, I’m skeptical because it seems sort of … lame.
For example, the CEO, Dave Morin, didn’t exactly come off as a “trend-setter” in hisinterview with Wired magazine.
Morin’s canonical example is sharing with his favored fifty the simple fact that he may be imbibing a hot mocha. “My friends know how much I love mochas,” he says. “So my friends are happy for me.”
Your friends are not happy for you because you are drinking a hot mocha. They don’t care.
That’s exactly the kind of update that makes me unfollow someone on Twitter. If he doesn’t understand what to share, should he be creating a whole new sharing platform? Plus, the whole attitude seems a bit precious. Their demo video shows a guy constantly posting updates of what his self-conscious-looking girlfriend is doing – drinking red wine, running on a beach, and other cliches. It might succeed, but I just feel this eery conservatism running under everything, like it wants to go back to “precious moments” with “cherished friends” and get away from Facebook’s “Be Who You Are/ Even the Crappy Stuff/ Find People to Date Here!” message.
What I think it does signify is a demand for designed social media. No longer will we deal with ugly interfaces and crappy fonts just to read what our friends are doing. Now apps like Flipboard extract the text, add unity to the aesthetic and repackage it with flashy photo angles and pleasant typography. I feel like Path is basically doing that for Twitter, but with less text and some schmaltzy gimmick about getting back to your closest friends.
I was just trying to get through The New York Times’ review of Jonathan Franzen’s “Freedom” and it’s so laborious to read that I decided to write my own abridged lunch break review.
First off, why does the NYT version bother me? Sure it’s intelligent and yada yada, but I can’t stand reviews that spend most of their space summarizing the book in their own “creative” way. You didn’t write it. You wish you had. I get it. Even worse, he reviews Franzen’s last book, “The Corrections.” You didn’t review it. You wish you had. Let’s get to actual criticism here.
Franzen’s books are like watching a series on Netflix
When you see a book as big as your head, you have the same feeling you do when you find out that all of the “Lost” series is suddenly free and at your fingertips. You think, “I am going to climb in for awhile and not leave.” It doesn’t matter if you hate “Lost.” As long as it is has some entertainment value, it’s enough for you to depart on a focused, long-term trip that is centered on just a few characters and one plotline. This is always a nice break from the multi-tasking, distracted media consumption methods we’re used to.
What makes Franzen a good writer is detail
Just like in “The Corrections,” I kept thinking that the people in “Freedom” had to be real. How else would he get such precise details? The fact that his books are so long makes me speculate that he chose four or five people that he’s really close to and totally offered them up to the literary gods, ripping out every detail of their lives and saying “bye bye” to a few friendships. Or maybe he really is making them up, or at least stitching them together with apt combinatorial play. Either way, it’s like a portrait drawn off of a photo rather than out of someone’s head, and that’s always better, right?
I tend to forget about Jonathan Franzen books, no matter how much I liked reading them
Despite having lived in two Franzen books now, I know they’re not going to stay with me. Probably because while the characters are “real” they aren’t particularly iconic. They don’t embody Jungian archetypes in particular - they are far too real for that - but they also never represent a rock star Spirit of the Times, a la Holden Caulfield. Plus, nothing too weird or surreal ever happens. Everything is explained and tied up, so it doesn’t sit around in my subconscious like a Haruki Murakami book.
"Freedom" might be annoyingly political
Yeah, with a title like that, you have to expect it. But I always feel cheated when a beloved piece of media about “real people” ends up being a vessel for some ideological message. I guess most pieces of media contain some kind of ideological message, but isn’t it cool when they’re subtle?
Uh, I give it 3.5 stars out of 5, the same rating that Rolling Stone gives to everything.
There was something I didn’t trust about the neighbors. They had a huge fence surrounded by even taller pine trees, and it was impossible to see what was happening in their yard. Even their windows were small and tinted. Plus, they had this 6-year-old daughter who I could tell made Caleb nervous. Their parents didn’t seem to get that just because they were the same age didn’t mean they had to be playmates. Caleb was fragile and she was grabby, hyper and possessive. She didn’t understand that he didn’t like to dress up and trap kittens in laundry baskets. Not that I didn’t like little Roxanne. She was chubby and ringleted and she seemed like the kind of innocently sweet and girly type who would grow up and lose her virginity to a closeted gay guy.
I’m about 5700 words in. I’ve never written anything that long in my life. Plus I just unlocked a really strange plotline that I’m excited to tackle later. It involves a religious cult.
For halloween I was a treasure troll. The kids in this photo are the other writers for the Minnesota Daily’s A&E section and also my favorite people in the world, if you also count the people in the next two photos. Oh and my family. And Ted Danson. Seriously, working in an entertainment journalism section was also the easiest way to find people just like me.
My boyfriend was satan. We made a big mess with his face paint and my hair paint.
My work, Zeus Jones, had this big party and I drank all the really fancy cocktails.
I think I am going to get an iPad soon too. Can’t resist.
I am reading “Freedom” by Jonathon Franzen
It’s really fun to read but there is something about Franzen books that makes it hard to remember what happened in the book when you think about them six months later, and I know that’ll happen with this too. Not a problem with … sigh … Murakami, my favorite.
National Novel Writing Month started yesterday. I actually wrote about 3500 words. It helped that my roommate who moved out surprise canceled our internet and TV.
Sharing your writing is terrifying and it makes me self-conscious but part of me is like fuck it. So don’t judge me too harsh. Here’s an excerpt: (It’s set somewhere in the future)
Peter had two heads. He floated into my radar, smoking a cigarette with canary-colored smoke and said, “Gracie, you look kind of cross-eyed.”
The smoke smelled like Corn Flakes and strawberries and cinnamon and I realized it was one of those new Marlboro Explosions and I wasn’t entirely crazy. I couldn’t deny that I was seeing double though. Usually when I tried drugs I just did the tiniest bit. A finger-full of coke up the nose. A hit of weed. And I got along just fine. For some reason I didn’t think this glue would be as intense as it turned out to be. Some intel company had discovered this amazing new type of barcode that people could just flash their NEPs over and it would automatically create this five-sense impression on their thought stream, so the government gave it the go-ahead and companies started slapping it on everything before figuring out that the glue it used created a highly psychedelic effect, if sniffed.
So we knew it was about to become illegal cuz there were all these news streams about noobs sniffing too much and putting their NEPs into overdrive and drinking cheap vodka and then ending up in the hospital. So naturally we had to do as much of it as we could before it went away, and prom seemed like the perfect place to do it.
It didn’t kick in for me until the runway part, when all the girls walked in their dresses down this catwalk. Suddenly stupid-ass Brooklyn Waterson looked like one of those Chinese dragons and I knew I was fucked.
Finishing his cigarette, Peter grabbed my elbow and helped me into his black Subaru Clawfoot. The windows were purple and bubbling and I asked him if maybe we were actually in a petrie dish.
“We are like amoeba,” I muttered to myself, looking at the hair on my fingers.
He ignored me and put on this new group called Black Face and it was this song about TV and dog food and this guy who liked a girl but he had accidentally kissed her boyfriend once, under the influence of a synthetic opium strain called Lazy Cat. It was a good song although the meowing noises, to me, seemed too literal.
“Your dress is melting,” Peter said, finally.
I looked at him. His black hair was getting floppy but in a way that didn’t bother me, and he was wearing sunglasses for no reason. Like all boys, his suit was some ugly corduroy thing that he got from a thrift store. His hands were at the bottom of the wheel, limp.
“You’re pretty high too!” I laughed. “Should you be driving?”
“No I’m not. I tried that glue last night and thought it might kill my buzz tonight. I told you that. Your dress is actually melting.”
I looked down at this purple slip of a dress that I had on. I had a hard time telling what was the glue and what was real, but it just looked like it was shrinking away from my skin in a few places, and a few strings were unraveling.
“Oh yeah. The rain.”
I pulled down the mirror and looked at myself. Damn. A patch of my hair was missing, right in the back left corner. Just a small patch, but it made me tear up. I touched it and it stung. After all the trouble I’d gone through to get my curly brown hair tamed and into a braid-like-thing, the stupid rain had burnt some of it off.
“Where are we going?” He saw that I had wet eyes and handed me a Marlboro Explosion. I lit it and it made a small fizz of sparks out the window before the yellow smoke started streaming out. The anti-psychotic I’d popped after the dragon incident was starting to kick in, and I felt not quite relaxed, but sort of how you feel when you are in a long line and you finally get to be the third person from the front.
“Let’s just go to the hotel.”
We’d rented a hotel on my dad’s credit card because he doesn’t care what I do. It was a room in a love motel, which was initially this concept that was stolen from Japan, except here it had become all cheesy and all the rooms were named after stupid couples from the 2020s, when all the girls had romantic hair extensions down to their asses.
“Yeah, the dance will be full of girls dressed up like parade floats.”
“God you’re messed up. No, Lindsay Bloomington’s dress melted entirely off and Chris Thorson got third-degree burns so they just canceled the dance. It’s ok though, I’ve got booze.”
The booze turned out to be this absinthe cough syrup stuff called Purple 9’s and a bottle of cheap white wine, which had a mountain top stream drawn on the label. I grabbed it and walked out to the poolside patio of our room. Joel Patterson was out there with this stoner girl named Jenny. She was wearing a boys’ white T-shirt and denim shorts, but she jumped into the pool anyway and popped her head out, her black hair shiny like an eel. I walked over to Joel and took a slug of my wine, because sometimes he makes very direct eye contact and it’s good to have something to do with your hands.
He was smoking a regular cigarette, the throwback kind from the first thousand years of humanity, if you know what I mean. Not whatever they are today. Just paper and tobacco.
“God, can I please have one of those? If I smoke another Explosion I’m afraid some Brazilian carnival party will pop out and trample me.”
He laughed and handed me one. “Nice dress.”
My dress had hung on pretty well. His pants were tattered at the bottom, and he looked like a peasant or something. His fro was a little patchy but his beard was coming in nicely.
“Gracie get over here!” Peter shouted, suddenly drunk.
I hated when he drank Purple 9’s because it did something bad with the antidepressant stream he was on and he got crabby and bossy, horny and limp.
“I can almost see your nipple,” he said, grabbing me. It had begun.
“Let’s do shots,” I proposed, because I was suddenly too sober to deal with this mood of his and also I figured I could get him to pass out sooner that way.
He poured us a couple murky purple shooters and then lit them on fire. The smoke was green and transparent, like a little genie, and it quickly died.
“To the future,” he shouted, raising his glass toward me.