Thursday, April 30, 2009

We'll always have Lawrence v. Texas

I can't quit you, David Souter.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fun with Juxtaposed Pictures

From today's Huffington Post:

From the Chicago Tribune:

Monday, April 27, 2009

You're no mystery to me, Miss California.

On occasion, "Music Monday" requires a bit of setup.

Sometimes it feels like we meet someone loathsome every week. Last week, it was Miss California, Carrie Prejean. Prejean, who looks like nothing so much as a vinyl effigy of Elizabeth Berkley, was the frontrunner in last week's Miss USA Pageant--until, as you know, she was asked about her position on same-sex marriage. Her answer has become famous by now, especially in courses on how NOT to win Miss USA.

Indeed, Carrie's plea for "opposite marriage" (only, of course, in "[her] country"--wherever that is...) seems to have cost her the crown. Instead, our bronzed rack of lamb had to settle for First Runner-Up. Unfortunately, her consolation prize was merely to co-host the "Today" show for a couple of days. This is particularly sad as, if she had won the crown, she would gotten a much better gig. Like, um, cutting the ribbon at the new Food Lion in Greensboro, NC. Hang in there, Carrie--you'll make it someday!

Naturally, she immediately became a political figure. Insane people loved her "courage." Equally insane people hated her. Prejean herself attempted to crazy up her image a little, blathering about being "biblically correct." Eventually, someone finally noted that she had her facts wrong anyway. And somehow, we all cringed to discover that she casually dates Michael Phelps (has he made one good decision outside of a swimming pool?).

Now Fosco doesn't want to hate on Miss California too much. After all, asking beauty queens about politics is a recipe for disaster--as far as I'm concerned, she just mostly made herself look bigoted and stupid for posterity. (Although, whether we should be taking her "opinion" seriously for the rest of the week is a different question altogether.) And besides, no one has been able to adequately explain to me why two infinitely more loathsome people were on stage with her that evening (that would be Perez Hilton and Billy Bush). Carrie's clearly the distant third in that trio of repulsiveness.

What the hell does any of this have to do with music? I am pleased that you asked. Fosco's annoyance with Miss California last week was decidedly attenuated by his discovery of the song "Miss California" by his beloved Jack's Mannequin. Somehow, Fosco had managed to overlook this song (which is a bonus track on The Glass Passenger) until last week. For some reason, imagining Carrie Prejean as the Miss California named in the song makes Fosco laugh--a lot. Perhaps it has something to do with the lyrics:

But I'm gonna take you to my boxcar on the beach
And I'm gonna hang the sun above your bed
And soak your hair in bleach

You'll be missed Miss California
You'll be kissed by only me
When they can't find you, you'll turn into a mystery
but you're no mystery to me, Miss California.
Yes, these lyrics are a little creepy (or, as Oz suggested, a little "kidnap-ey"), but the song itself is really a great sing-a-long pop jewel. And of course, I'm not advocating the abduction of Carrie Prejean; however, these are the kinds of silly fantasies that stupid people have about beauty queens (and that Jack's Mannequin is clearly mocking in this song). It's just a funny song that is made funnier when you imagine Prejean's semisynthetic face in the middle of the narrative.

Sadly, the best version that I've been able to find online is this live video from YouTube. It's not a terrible performance (the energy is high), but you should probably find a way to listen to the studio version.

Also, why does he keep trying to stand up? Sit down!

Oh, and if you'd like a "bonus track" from Jack's Mannequin, listen to this excellent cover of MGMT's "Kids"--good stuff.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday in Venusburg

Fosco has been listening to Wagner's opera Tannhäuser this week. The music is absolutely ravishing (Don't believe me? Get a hold of the Overture--an easy download from anywhere.), but I had never really paid attention to the plot before this week. Guess what? The plot is stupid. Even so, the opera's a pretty thrilling listen.

Another thing I never knew about Tannhäuser: the overture is referenced in the title of an almost-equally ravishing Cézanne painting.

This is Cézanne's Girl at the Piano (Overture to Tannhäuser) (1868-70). It lives at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. It is entirely possible that this young woman is playing the piano transcription of the overture by Franz Liszt (although there seem to have been versions by several composers).

I wish you a restful Sunday, filled with wonderful music (and perhaps some needlework?).