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September 28, 2010

The non-political implications of guns at UT

Police clear students out of UT after shooting

Today's shooting at University of Texas today might be most distinguished from other campus shootings because the ski mask-wearing gunman didn't actually shoot anyone besides himself. After running down the street carrying an AK-47 and terrifying students and professors, the 19 year-old Colton Tooley went to the 6th floor of the library, opened fire, missed everybody, then shot himself.

Cushie sent me a blog post from the Austin paper the Statesman about a reading that had been scheduled for tonight by John Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime, a sentiment that after today's events could be viewed as more reasonable than ever or morbidly perverse, depending on what you think about guns.

Anyway, Lott was brought to campus by a student group called Students for Concealed Carry on Campus. The best part of the post is a quote from the president of Students for Concealed Carry on the reading's postponement due to an armed student opening fire on campus: "I don’t want to comment on any political aspects of this."

I know I'm a Democrat from the Northeast so am fundamentally unable to understand nuanced concealed-carry arguments, but seriously, more guns?!

Here's a great article from Harper's from a month or two ago, "Happiness in a Worn Gun", in which a liberal pro-gun guy in Colorado tries carrying his gun around for a few weeks to see how it feels. His conclusion: not so great.

Here's the Wikipedia entry on Charles Whitman, who killed his mother and wife, then went on a shooting spree at the University of Texas in 1966.

September 13, 2010

Grow a pair, Joanie

Joan and Peggy in the elevator, Mad Men

Has "Mad Men" felt a little bit like a Joan take-down lately? Things haven't always gone so great for Joan, but this season she's been back on top of her game, running the office and holding a position of authority that she clearly loves.

But then a few episodes ago, Lane busted her for trying to manipulate him into getting some vacation time: "I understand that all men are dizzy and powerless to refuse you, but consider me the incorruptible exception!"

Then this week, Joey the snotty-nosed creative guy really let her have it, with a whole posse of young upstarts openly ridiculing her. The things Joey said about her lording over the office and telling everyone what to do, wearing tight dresses that make her look like, what was it? A madam at a Shanghai brothel? It was all rude and mean and totally disrespectful, but it wasn't too far off base. The part about "looking like you're trying to get raped" was awful, but it's true that Joan basically invites men to take advantage of her or use her in lots of non-rapey ways, and sometimes depends on it to get what she wants.

The real story here is that Joan doesn't know how to use her power in any way other than to manipulate. She wheedles and cajoles and backstabs and manipulates. To confront the assholes in the office who treat her disrespectfully, she tells them all she hopes they go to Vietnam and get killed. What they did to her was inappropriate and awful, but then she stoops to their level.

Peggy, burgeoning feminist prototype, has legitimate power, and uses it legitimately. As Don advises her, "You want some respect? Go out there and get it for yourself." So she fires Joey, which is exactly what the audience would expect to happen in such a blatant case of sexual harassment.

Joan has legitimate power, for sure, but when it comes down to it, she can't use it to stand up for herself. She lets herself get passed over for the job she wants, she marries the jerk that raped her, she backstabs the guys who harass her at the office instead of sending them packing, then she calls Peggy a "humorless bitch" because she used her authority and did the right thing. In the Times recap of the episode, Ginia Bellafante says, "Joan is unmoored now in a world where a woman's currency in corporate life is no longer exclusively sexual."

It seems like the show is encouraging us to be a little more like Lane in how we feel about Joanie. I still love her, but I don't think we're going to see the feminist awakening in her that I've been hoping for.

Watching Gaga on the VMAs

Lady Gaga in her meat dress at the VMAs

Gaga's total domination of all media continued last night with a record number of VMA wins, a predictably bonkers line-up of ever-changing outfits for her acceptance speeches, and then an unpredictably crazy/gross/brilliant final appearance in a meat dress. And for anyone who might have doubted her formidable vocal chops, a spontaneous performance of the chorus of her next record [video].

I sat there watching her, wishing I could be 15 years old. So that while watching Gaga in her meat dress, belting out a few bars with tears streaming down her face, my mind could just be happily blown, instead of trying to figure out how I fit into the Nostalgic High School Misfit demographic that a record company marketing team has surely mapped out.

In one example of today's onslaught of gossip site reactions to the dress, Hollywood Gossip did a little piece with a "Tasty or Tasteless?" poll for readers. But since this is a celebrity outfit at an awards ceremony, they also did their standard "Get This Look!" feature, where you can hover over the photo and see where you can buy affordable versions of the clothes and accessories the star is wearing.

I really, really wish the link to the dress went to a wholesale butcher, but in a spectacular missing of the point, it actually goes to a conventional burgundy-colored little floral dress that's made of silk, not slabs of beef.

September 9, 2010

Terriers, the return of Donal Logue

Donal Logue on Terriers

Donal Logue has a new TV show called "Terriers" on FX. I'm a big Donal Logue fan. He continues to do loads of TV and movies, but somehow his career has never really taken off the way it should have. I know he was the star of "Grounded For Life" a few years ago, a show I watched zero times, but in a lot of the press I've seen for "Terriers", he's still referred to as "Donal Logue, from The Tao of Steve", a movie that came out 10 years ago.

Anyway, everything that's good about this new show is basically because of Donal Logue. The show follows Logue and his friend, a guy from "True Blood", who work as unlicensed private eyes in San Diego. They're both well-meaning schlubby guys trying, without much success, to get their lives together: Logue is an ex-drunk who got kicked off the police force and dumped by his wife, whom he still loves, and his friend is an ex-burglar. They investigate crimes and domestic disputes while the whole world calls them deadbeats. But, of course, they're actually really good in a back-door kind of way, and use their connections to the seamy underbelly to expose the bad guys.

Donal Logue is as haggardly charming as ever, even if he does have more grey in his bead and deep crinkles on his face. The writing is pretty flat: Logue has lines like "You killed my friend. And I'm going to destroy you" that not even he can save. But there's funny stuff, too, like when the two guys are watching at a pretty graphic sex tape recorded on someone's iPhone. "iPorn!," the friend says. "You what?," says Donal Logue.

The pilot episode was directed by Craig Brewer, who also did Hustle & Flow and Black Snake Moan and is good at capturing the grim reality of being poor, desperate, driving a cruddy car, hanging out with criminals and drug addicts, and getting chained to radiators. There's a big streak of class consciousness running through this show (NY Times says it "hangs rich people out to dry") with the wealthy pillars of society raping the underclass until our heroes take them down.

I'm guessing this show won't be around for more than a few months, but for now it's a good scruffy diversion until Logue's next movie Vengeance. Which stars Danny Trejo, Jason Mewes, and 50 Cent and looks pulpy and great.

One little reminder about the past career of Donal Logue: he starred in and produced another short-lived comedy series called "The Knights of Prosperity" about a bunch of losers and weirdos who decide to rob Mick Jagger. No one watched it, but it was hilarious, and featured the character with the greatest TV name of all time: Rockefeller Butts. You can watch all the episodes on Hulu.

September 7, 2010

Electric Zoo fashion

Electric Zoo 2010

[photo from NY Times]

On Saturday I went to the gigantic all-day two-day dance music festival on Randall's Island, Electric Zoo. I expected my posse to be among the oldest people there (except for the DJs and Jon Pareles I think we were) so I was curious to see what the club kids would be wearing these days. My knowledge of rave culture is pretty out of date, so I wondered how much had changed since the mid-90's.

Nothing. Nothing had changed. Aside from the people in t-shirts and shorts that would have been dressed exactly the same way in any recent decade, the club kids looked just like club kids circa 1994. I saw face glitter. Stuffed animal backpacks. Rainbow tights. Glow sticks. Pacifiers. Freaking whistles around their necks that they would un-ironically blow! It was the same radioactive cartoon character look that everyone was wearing almost 20 years ago.

Maybe I shouldn't be surprised. After all, a lot of the music at the event was a clear throwback to the early 90's. If you went to the Rush concert at Jones Beach in July, I would bet you would have seen a lot of acid-washed jeans, feathered hair, and single earring studs on display in that crowd. (They did all of the "Moving Pictures" album and I bet it was fantastic.)

I'm not judging: this is just the reality of concerts and events that refer to a specific time and place in cultural history. The rave-y dance music scene peaked over 15 years ago, and it seems like the fashion is still stuck back there.

Some of the newer-looking outfit innovations that I noticed were lots of people in pink or green or orange neon shirts or accessories or tights, which is actually a throwback to the early 80's, fun fur leg warmers, and also these weird tutu-length crinoline things, which girls would wear over their pants or tights (see photo above). I don't know what that's about.

One other observation: I know we all need to record every moment of our lives for blogs and Facebook, but many people who weren't experiencing some sort of transporting chemical enhancement seemed to spend the really great sets fiddling with their camera settings or taking pictures or video of a DJ on a distant stage. The kids who weren't doing any documenting were pogoing up and down, waving their hands (or their glow sticks) all over the place, shaking their hair around, grabbing their friends in an ecstatic hug and generally losing their minds. There's some oddly Zen-like lesson on living in the moment in there.

September 1, 2010

Heart! (on Fox News)

Nancy Wilson of Heart on Fox News

All summer, midtown has had two competing live music series on the morning shows: NBC's Today Show series, which has featured Lady Gaga, Carole King and James Taylor, and Maxwell, and Fox News' All American Summer series, which has included American Idol losers, Uncle Kracker, and Toby Keith. Rockefeller Center has been attracting massive crowds with fans often camping out on the street the night before, while the shows in front of the Fox building on 6th Ave have largely been made up of people who happened to be getting off the F train on their way to work.

But this morning, Fox scored a huge victory with Heart! Performing live! I turned onto 6th Ave and heard Nancy Wilson pounding out the riff from "Magic Man" and ran to the corner of 48th St. By far the best start to my day of the summer.

Here's the video, which includes an interview with the Wilson sisters about growing up in a Marines household (this is Fox News, after all) and the sexism they faced in the 70's and still see in music today. And they do "Magic Man" starting at 3:30. It rocks.

This performance reminds me that this is not really a family-friendly song. Those lyrics are hot! I'm a little surprised they got away with the magic man and his magic hands on "Fox & Friends", but I guess rock transcends the Culture Wars.

Also: the Wilsons like Lady Gaga and Taio Cruz's "Dynamite".

About September 2010

This page contains all entries posted to Amy's Robot in September 2010. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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