Thursday, October 25, 2007

BOOKS and MOVIES/VIDEOS: Put Dumbledore Back in the Closet

An interesting piece I found on netvibes.com. This is from Time magazine - and it pretty much echoes my view on the news of Dumbledore's sexuality.

No offence, but when I made up a fantasy yarn for my daughter, I had a homosexual warrior couple who were married and very much openly in love. But then again, I wasn't trying to sell the story to anyone except my daughter. - OlderMusicGeek

Put Dumbledore Back in the Closet
Monday, Oct. 22, 2007 By JOHN CLOUD

When J.K. Rowling announced at Carnegie Hall that Albus Dumbdledore—her Aslan, her Gandalf, her Yoda—was gay, the crowd apparently sat in silence for a few seconds and then burst into wild applause. I'm still sitting in silence. Dumbledore himself never saw fit to come out of the closet before dying in book six. And I feel a bit like I did when we learned too much about Mark Foley and Larry Craig: You are not quite the role model I'd hoped for as a gay man.

So along comes Rowling with Dumbledore—a human being, a wizard even, an indisputable hero and one of the most beloved figures in children's literature. Shouldn't I be happy to learn he's gay?

Yes, except: Why couldn't he tell us himself? The Potter books add up to more than 800,000 words before Dumbledore dies in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and yet Rowling couldn't spare two of those words—"I'm gay"—to help define a central character's emotional identity? We can only conclude that Dumbledore saw his homosexuality as shameful and inappropriate to mention among his colleagues and students. His silence suggests a lack of personal integrity that is completely out of character.

I had always given the Potter books a pass on the lack of gay characters because, especially at first, they were intended for little kids. But particularly with the appearance of the long, violent later books, Rowling allowed her witches and wizards to grow up, to get zits and begin romances, to kill and die. It seemed odd that not even a minor student character at Hogwarts was gay, especially since Rowling was so p.c. about making her magical creatures of different races and species, incomes, national origins, and developmental abilities. In a typical passage, the briefly mentioned Blaise Zabini is described as "a tall black boy with high cheekbones and long, slanting eyes." Would it have been so difficult to write in a line in which Zabini takes the exquisitely named Justin Finch-Fletchley to the Yule Ball?

But here is a gay man as de-sexed as any priest—and, to uncomfortably extend the analogy, whose greatest emotional bond is with an adolescent boy: scarred, orphaned, needy Harry. Rowling said at Carnegie Hall that in her conception of his character, Dumbledore had fallen in love long ago with Gellert Grindelwald when the two were just teenagers. But Grindelwald turned out to be evil, which apparently broke Dumbledore's heart. (Quite evil: Grindelwald is Rowling's Hitler figure, opening a camp called "Nurmengard" for political enemies in the 1940s. Dumbledore/Churchill eventually defeats Grindelwald/Hitler in a 1945 duel.)

But as far as we know, Dumbledore had not a single fully realized romance in 115 years of life. That's pathetic, and a little creepy. It's also a throwback to an era of pop culture when the only gay characters were those who committed suicide or were murdered. As Vito Russo's The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies (1981) points out, in film after film of the mid-century—Rebel Without a Cause; Rebecca; Suddenly, Last Summer—the gay characters must pay for their existence with death. Like a lisping weakling, Dumbledore is a painfully selfless, celibate, dead gay man, so forgive me if I don't see Rowling's revelation as great progress.

Am I making too much of this? Undoubtedly. But it would have been better if she had just left the old girl to rest in peace.

A link to the complete article

Monday, October 22, 2007

MUSIC: Efforts to Get "God Save the Queen" to Number One

An article I found on my netvibes.com home page. This came from New Melody Express. - OlderMusicGeek

The Clash team up with Sex Pistols
Band members back efforts to get 'God Save The Queen' to Number One
09.Oct.07 12:00pm

The Clash's Paul Simonon has backed efforts to send his punk rivals the Sex Pistols to Number One this week (October 9).

The bassist, who now plays with The Good, The Bad & The Queen, says he thinks a good idea to try to get 'God Save The Queen' to the top of the charts.

NME.COM is backing a campaign to send the record back to Number One next week after it was cheated out of the top spot 30 years ago.

'God Save The Queen' was denied its rightful place at Number One because the authorities feared the punk anthem would spoil the Queen's Silver Jubilee celebrations in 1977.

We want to right that wrong and are encouraging everyone to buy the record this week (from October 8) as the track is reissued on vinyl.

Either head down the record shop now or you can buy it from 7digital.com or other downloaders like iTunes.

"Should we get 'God Save The Queen' To Number One? I can't see why not!" declared Simonon. "Phone John [Lydon, Sex Pistols' singer] up and see what he says!"

His former bandmate, The Clash's Mick Jones also thought the effort was a good idea, but joked he didn't need to buy the single as "I've already got a copy!"

Join the campaign to send Sex Pistols' 'God Save The Queen' to Number One. Let us know what you think of the track by sending your thoughts to news@nme.com with Pistols as the subject and we'll print the best.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

MUSIC: Shock at South African Reggae Star Lucky Dube Shot

Lucky Dube was a musical staple for my Peace Corps group when we were in southern Africa in the late 80s. And his album, Slave, and his songs, "Together as One" and "Different Colours - One People", is a mainstay in my mp3 player. - OlderMusicGeek

Fans across the world are mourning the South African reggae star, Lucky Dube, who has been shot dead.

He was dropping his teenage son and daughter off in a Johannesburg suburb when he was attacked by car thieves.

Local radio stations have been flooded with tearful callers expressing outrage at the murder and renewing demands that the authorities act to curtail crime.

South Africa's leader paid tribute to him and called on people to "confront this terrible scourge of crime".

Alongside Bob Marley, Lucky Dube was thought of as one of the great reggae artists - singing about social problems.

He was also one of the apartheid regime's most outspoken critics.

Callers to radio stations have urged South Africa's rugby team to show some form of respect when they take to the field in Saturday's World Cup final against England in Paris.

President Thabo Mbeki is attending the final and took time to pay tribute to the dreadlocked reggae star before he jetted off to France.

"It's indeed very very sad that this happens to an outstanding South African, an outstanding musician - world renowned," he said.

The BBC has been inundated with thousands of text and email messages paying tribute to the singer.

"I am a 27-year-old black South African girl. I have dreadlocks and I love reggae music so much and I am proud to be who I am, being black and African. I will miss Lucky Dube, you are an inspiration to many of us," Sbongile Diko in Durban wrote.

But the tributes have been worldwide - especially from Africa.

A link to the complete BBC article

NPR remembrance of Lucky Dube

BBC Network Africa on Lucky Dube

BBC readers' reaction to Lucky Dube's death

BBC report on Lucky Dube as a singing peacemaker

Friday, October 19, 2007

MOVIES: What Is Your Star Wars Name and Title?

Your Star Wars Name And Title

Your Star Wars Name: Oldge Khcit

Your Star Wars Title: Keecho of Refinnej

Sunday, October 07, 2007

MUSIC: Analyzing a Music Pirate's Playlist

Found this article on my home page. It's from The L.A. Times. - OlderMusicGeek

Jammie Thomas, the unlikely saboteur, had an eclectic set of songs collected. Maybe there's a message in her playlist.

By Ann Powers, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 6, 2007

Thomas' list has hipsters groaning. It includes some of the most banal Top 40 songs of recent memory: songs by 1980s balladeers Richard Marx and Bryan Adams, quiet-storm beauty queen Vanessa Williams, and the feathered-hair kings in Journey. Teen tastes may be represented by the presence of Green Day and Linkin Park tracks. "In her defense," one respondent posted on the pop-music blog Idolator, "I wouldn't pay for any of these songs either."

But look at the list beyond the prejudices of taste, and another quality surfaces: it's eclectic. A Reba McEntire track represents classic country. There's some Gloria Estefan for that Latin freestyle flavor. It's easy to imagine Thomas chilling out to Sarah McLachlan's "Building a Mystery" after her kids were in bed, or getting out her aggressions after a hard day at the office -- she works for her own tribe, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwa, in the natural resources department -- by turning up "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns N' Roses.

This is a playlist for a family party, wide-ranging enough for everybody to be satisfied. It has a lived-in feel, with songs spanning four decades, probably marking highlights in the life of Thomas and those she loves. What it isn't, though, is something you'd hear on the radio, or be able to buy on any compilation that's in print.

True, Thomas could have burned a CD of these tracks, from the vast record collection she claims to own. She could have purchased the songs again from iTunes. But what she probably really wanted to do was just hear them occasionally, the way you hear songs on the radio. She wanted a wide array of music, easily available. Radio, split into niche markets and limited by tiny, repetitive playlists, wasn't giving her that.

Pop hits saturate the airwaves, television and the speakers at the mall for a brief time, until they reach obsolescence. Occasionally they'll pop up in a television show or on a film soundtrack. But a pop fan who wants a little country, a little metal and some hip-hop in her life won't easily find it in one environment. Her fingers could get blisters twisting the radio dial.

Popular music has always been a leaky commodity, but the major labels have increasingly narrowed their scope to focus on a few superstars and one-hit wonders. The Internet has made eclectic listening easy again. Thomas' crime (if we must label it that) was in not paying for the tracks she allegedly shared. But in a way, it was an act committed in self-defense, against the numbing effects of an increasingly narrowcast mainstream.


Link to the complete article

Comments from The L.A. Times:

Tell me this, when the U.S. crawls its way up the broadband ladder to where Finland, Hong Kong, or S. Korea are with net speeds of 100Mbps (compared to the U.S.' average 3Mbps), what chance do these media companies have of slowing their inevitable extinction? Other than crippling future technological innovation and lobbying for some Orwellian state with our tax dollars paying law enforcement to defend the 21st century equivalent of the buggy-whip industry.
Submitted by: Plautus
7:28 PM PDT, October 5, 2007

How absurd is it to call what she did piracy. Piracy is an act committed by one who plunders at sea, killing or maiming the victim. To call this piracy is an insult to pirates. This definition was created She shared music with strangers. Sharing, what society teaches kids to do starting in pre-school. Call it what it is, she's guilty of sharing.
Submitted by: blackbeard
7:26 PM PDT, October 5, 2007

Please follow up after the judgment is paid to find out how much of it the labels have paid out in royalties to the artists -- then we'll find out how much it is really about compensating them.
Submitted by: AB
3:25 PM PDT, October 5, 2007

Those who can't innovate and adapt to a changing marketplace call their lawyers. Digital music has made the market more efficient and more porous-- deal with it, or perish. I think it's time to short-sell recording industry stock.
Submitted by: Chris
7:37 PM PDT, October 4, 2007

Monday, October 01, 2007

MUSIC: Radiohead Says: Pay What You Want

Another piece from my netvibes.com home page. This from Time.com. - OlderMusicGeek.

Sure, Radiohead is on a sustained run as the most interesting and innovative band in rock, but what makes In Rainbows important — easily the most important release in the recent history of the music business — are its record label and its retail price: there is none, and there is none.

In Rainbows will be released as a digital download available only via the band's web site, Radiohead.com. There's no label or distribution partner to cut into the band's profits — but then there may not be any profits. Drop In Rainbows' 15 songs into the online checkout basket and a question mark pops up where the price would normally be. Click it, and the prompt "It's Up To You" appears. Click again and it refreshes with the words "It's Really Up To You" — and really, it is. It's the first major album whose price is determined by what individual consumers want to pay for it. And it's perfectly acceptable to pay nothing at all.

Labels can still be influential and profitable by focusing on younger acts that need their muscle to get radio play and placement in record stores — but only if the music itself remains a saleable commodity. "That's the interesting part of all this," says a producer who works primarily with American rap artists. "Radiohead is the best band in the world; if you can pay whatever you want for music by the best band in the world, why would you pay $13 dollars or $.99 cents for music by somebody less talented? Once you open that door and start giving music away legally, I'm not sure there's any going back."

The ramifications of Radiohead's pay-what-you-want experiment will take time to sort out, but for established artists at least, turning what was once their highest-value asset — a much-buzzed-about new album — into a loss leader may be the wave of the future. Even under the most lucrative record deals, the ones reserved for repeat, multi-platinum superstars, the artists can end up with less than 30% of overall sales revenue (which often is then split among several band members). Meanwhile, as record sales decline, the concert business is booming. In July, Prince gave away his album Planet Earth for free in the U.K. through the downmarket Mail on Sunday newspaper. At first he was ridiculed. Then he announced 21 consecutive London concert dates — and sold out every one of them.

Link to the complete article

MUSIC: On the Road with the First-Ever Muslim Punk-Rock Tour

I got this from my netvibes.com home page. It's from Rolling Stone magazine. - OlderMusicGeek

Allah, Amps and Anarchy

On the road with the first-ever Muslim punk-rock tour

Evan SerpickPosted Oct 01, 2007 2:00 PM

In late august, a creaking green school bus with red camels stenciled on its side rolled up to the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo in Ohio. Seventeen exhausted, beer-reeking punks, with mohawks and dyed hair, walked up to the mosque looking for a place to rest. "I was surprised -- they totally let us hang out there," says Kourosh Poursalehi, 19, frontman for San Antonio's Vote Hezbollah. "They even wanted CDs and stuff."

Vote Hezbollah (the band's name is intended as a joke) is one of five Muslim punk bands that recently wrapped up a ten-date tour that took them from Boston to Chicago during August and September. The bands, which hail from Chicago, San Antonio, Boston and Washington, D.C., share left-of-center politics and an antipathy toward the president. And all have used punk as a means to express the anger, confusion and pride in being young and Muslim in post-9/11 America.

Twenty-four hours after leaving the Toledo mosque, Boston's Kominas -- Punjabi for "the Bastards" -- are playing in a packed basement in a rundown corner of Chicago's Logan Square. Local punks mix with curious young Muslims -- including a few girls wearing head scarves -- as Kominas frontman Shahjehan Khan launches into the opening lines of "Sharia Law in the U.S.A.": "I am an Islamist!/And I am an anti-Christ!" Nearby, mohawked bassist Basim Usmani -- whose T-shirt reads frisk me i'm muslim -- slaps out the song's bass line while viciously slam-dancing with a dude in a woman's burqa.

"This has been the best time of my life," says Khan, 23, who grew up in Boston, the son of Pakistani immigrants. He's retreated to an alley out back, where the bus is parked, to smoke a cigarette. The bands on tour made contact online, and most met for the first time at their first tour date three weeks earlier. Although they are all children of immigrants from countries like Pakistan, Iran and Syria, they came together in part through the efforts of an American convert, Mike Muhammad Knight. Knight -- who bought the bus for $2,000 on eBay and does most of the driving -- is the author of The Taqwacores, a novel about a scene of progressive Muslim punks. The book, news of which spread online and by word of mouth, inspired both Vote Hez-bollah -- named after a fictional band in the novel -- and the tour's name: Taqwatour. ("Taqwa," which is spray-painted on the front of the bus, means "consciousness of God" in Arabic.)

There are more than a million Muslims living in the U.S., and the youngest generation is still struggling to find its place in America. "Shit changed for all of us Muslim people after 9/11," says Khan. "The best way for me to deal with it was music." The Kominas are one of the more established groups, having toured and released records. Their songs mix punk speed and attitude with Middle Eastern sounds. Their lyrics, often confrontational, are also deeply personal. In "Par Desi," Usmani, who spent part of his childhood in Pakistan, describes getting beaten up by punk skinheads in America: "In Lahore it's raining water/In Boston it rains boots."

Everyone on tour has stories about being harassed for being Muslim. "There's that stigma, 'Oh, he's from Pakistan, he's a fuckin' terrorist,' " says Omar Waqar of D.C. band Diacritical. He was working at an Islamic bookstore after September 11th when vandals threw bricks through the windows. And many band members have also faced criticism from their parents or others in the Muslim community. "All the way from 'music is wrong, forbidden' to 'you shouldn't be singing verses of the Koran in your songs,' " says Khan.

The day after the Chicago basement show, the tour was invited to play at a conference of the Islamic Society of North America. The young audience it drew, segregated into male and female sections, roared with rock-star adoration. But when the female group Secret Trial Five took the stage, organizers had the police shut down the show, because it is forbidden for Muslim women to sing in public. "It was completely insane," says Knight. "The show was positive up to that point, with girls in hijabs singing along."

Link to the complete article

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Music That I've Enjoyed Recently

My Internet Radio Stations

This is a fairly good sampling of some of the music I listen to. It's missing a few genres I like - such as cajun. I'll work on that later. But it does contain most of my favorite artists. I tried to steer away from the better known songs to give you a better idea of what kind of music the artists play, but I was limited by the songs the website - Project Playlist - had available. But if you want to get an idea of what I listen to, just hit the play or arrow button. - OlderMusicGeek

The internet station that does the best of playing my music is Last.fm. Here's my station if you're interested.

This website, OlderMusicGeek Radio on Pandora.com, does a fairly decent job of playing what I like, although they do occasionally play stuff I don't care for, but overall they're pretty good.