Thursday, March 27, 2008

wow... this almost makes me wish i had seen the episode

So, I have a confession and a revelation to divulge. I work a boring (mostly) desk job that affords me near-continuous hours on the computer. I try to use this time productively, but sady, there are too many hours, and I am simply not that busy with my life. One of the ways I fill up time is to read my favorite sites on the internet, one of which is the always awesome, hilarious, insightful Television Without Pity.

I read the recaps on my favorite shows, the TWoP encyclopedia or cultural references, and both affiliated blogs. It was TWoP that encouraged me to try 30 Rock, Project Runway, even How I Met Your Mother [FYI on that show: it has its moments, but seriously, I have trouble understanding what TWoP sees in the program. Of the sample episodes I have tried, only one has been truly, consistently funny. And it involved slapping and 80's mall pop, which is hard to beat, comedy-wise]. I have TWoP to thank for hours of entertainment, saving me from long days and nights at work, and giving me ideas, not just concerning what to watch, but also how to watch. Before I took any cultural theory or criticism classes in college, I read TWoP, and it was one of the many outlets that taught me how to view pop cultural through a critical, theoretical perspective. Oddly enough, I've only ever really been a reader of the site. There is a vast, intensely-committed community surrounding the TWoP forums, but I prefer to watch from the sidelines. I feel there is a great responsibility undertaken when one becomes an active participant on the boards, and I'm just not ready...

Anyway, this is all background. My confession is that about two or three weeks ago, I started reading the recaps of American Idol, because it occurred to me that a) I had never, ever seen the show, b) I wanted to understand how it worked without having to actually watch it, and c) the possibility for hilarity seemed inevitable. Well, all three points have been hit. The two guys who recap AI, including Joe R., one of my favorites, are damn funny (despite actually being into the competition). As described, I can't imagine sitting down and watching an entire episode. So many cheesy songs, so many ridiculous judging sessions, so much ridiculous Seacrest. The recaps allow me to get a fix of just how insane the show is, to what extent its crappiness reflects the general crappiness of American contemporary culture, without ever having to rid myself of the memory of some eighteen-year-old slaughtering the Beatles.

My revelation came just a short while ago, while reading the recap for the latest episode. This may be one of the greatest paragraphs in TWoP history:

America is awesome. When you trot out this bullshit sentimental warmed-over brainless hateful crap, you are seriously disconnecting yourself from America and why it's great. It's like Hallmark cards: the opposite of caring. You cannot let somebody else tell you what your heart says. Just by singing this song, the Colonel is saying that she hates America. The real America that is made with blood and bravery and strength and love, the real America that demands that you draw your circle as wide as you can and spend every day serving it with your hands, that goes right out the fucking window when you pass the buck to some stupid shit song like this. And you know who eats it up, because it's always the same fucking people that eat this vomit, are the people who are too lazy to think about America or love her in the first place. I hate this fucking song, I hate this stupid girl, and I hate that this is happening, because my whole theory about how this show reflects the wider culture cuts both ways and I don't want to think about that. These are our people and they deserve to be loved, but I'll be damned if I'm going to let anybody tell me that this is the best that we can be. We are more than this.

Jacob has astounded me. In the midst of a routine, snarky recap, he pulls out this giant whopper of a cultural critique, and it left me reeling. I'm not going to say it's a perfect argument against "God Bless the USA" (the song he's referring to), although honestly, I don't need convincing, and neither do most patriotic Americans. Do you think the troops are listening to "God Bless the USA" as they remain (for God knows how long) far away from their home in a war-torn, chaotic unrest? You're fucking kidding if you think that's what is pounding through every tank and Humvee and military vehicle. And if the troops can't stand a song like that, what hope has it got to affect the rest of us? It takes a bottom-of-the-barrel, pop-star wannabe on the most artistically and culturally empty show on television to celebrate a song like that. And that it moved anyone to do anything besides use the toilet is a reminder that we are absolutely shit nowhere when it comes to the genuine belief in one's country. But you know, I can't put it anywhere near as well as Jacob has.

- Emily

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

playlist for 3/24/08

Here's the playlist for yesterday's (Monday, March 24th) show. As anyone listening might have noticed, DJ Kitten did the first hour, noon to one, and I did the second hour, one to two. Also, the theme of non-American music was scrapped for the noon hour, so anyone tuning in after one probably heard the strange sounds of Bollywood music, Krautrock, and the occasional nod to my Anglo-favorites.

I think we will be keeping with this method of splitting up the hours. The show remains "Afternoon Tea," but this will allow Kitten and I to do things in the way each of us pleases. I think it worked out fine yesterday, and should continue to work out.

Anyway, here's the playlist:
1. Buddy Nutt - "Ukulele Ballad" (And His Musical Saw)
2. Buddy Nutt - "Wilmerding" (And His Musical Saw)
3. Jens Lekman - "A Postcard for Nina" (Night Falls on Kortdela)
4. Foreign Born - "Union Hall" (On the Wing)
5. Los Campesinos! - "Dip It In Doe Eyes (Come on Now, Youngsters)
6. Les Sans Culottes - "Train a Grande Vitesse" (Fixation Orale)
7. Beirut - "Elephant Gun" (Lon Gisland EP)
8. Seu Jorge - "Life on Mars" (Life Aquatic OST)
9. Magnetic Fields - "100,000 Fireflies" (The Wayward Bus)
10. Essex Green - "Our Lady in Heaven" (The Long Goodbye)
11. Death by Chocolate - "While I'm Still Young" (Zap the World)
12. Pipettes - "Dirty Mind" (We are the Pipettes)
13. of Montreal - "Penelope" (Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies)
14. Owl & Pussycat - "Don't Play Me" (s/t)
15. Belle & Sebastian - "Storytelling" (Storytelling OST)
16. Decemberists - "Myla Goldberg" (Her Majesty)
17. Peter Seastedt - "Where Do You Go To" (Darjeeling LTMD. OST)
18. Raincoats - "I Saw a Hill" (Moving)
19. XTC - "Wonderland" (Mummer)
20. The Go-Betweens - "Five Words" (Spring Hill Fair)
21. Shonen Knife - "Ah Singapore" (Let's Knife)
22. Can - "I'm So Green" (Ege Bamyasi)
23. OOIOO - "Jacksons Club Support" (Feather Float)
24. Ruby Suns - "Tane Mahuta" (Sea Lions)
25. Beach House - "Wedding Bell" (Devotion)
26. Kishore Kumar - "Mere Naina Dawan Bhadon" (Mehbooba OST)
27. Asha Bhosle - "Koi Shahri Bhadon" (Loafer OST)
28. Adhijeet & Anoradha Shriram - "Chunari Chunari" (Monsoon Wedding OST)
29. Gert Wildens Orchestra - "Blue Mood" (The Schulmachen Report)
30. Happy End - "Shinshinshin" (s/t)
31. Rita Lee - "Calma" (Build Up)
32. Le Orme - "Finita La Scuola" (L'Aurora)
33. Dani - "Fille A Moto"

I've been really digging on that Ruby Suns album. Obviously, it's a favorite among the DJs as well. The guy that follows us, Matt, played "Tane Mahuta" as the second or third track on his show. And a track off the latest Beach House, which I've also been very enthralled with.

I'm still working on my reviews of the Night Canopy debut self-titled album and the (woo!) newest Jonathan Richman album (yow!). Though really meant for station use, I will also post the full reviews here.

- Emily


The playlist will be up later today. I went out drinking with a group of friends to celebrate my birthday last night, and I didn't have a chance to post yesterday's show. I promise, I will get to it later tonight, tomorrow morning at the latest.

There is also an important change to announce, and I will get to that in a later post.

For now, just go download the latest album by Beach House, Devotion. It's so, so good.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

yay for tomorrow's show!

Just as a reminder, we'll be playing all non-American, potentially non-English-language music tomorrow. Although, I think we will be playing things recorded in English, just not American-derived, and by that, I mean... not from here, generally, I guess. It's difficult in a modern cultural landscape to really assign contemporary music with a specific place. A guitarist from Nigeria may be living and recording out of London for most of his life. He may release his music only through a small U.S. label, that then sends out copies of the album through a distribution agent in Canada. So, is this man's music Nigerian? British? American?

Not only the distribution distinction, but more pressing, what digital culture is doing to our cultural notions of placement. If we can send out music instantly to all corners of the world, then we have an infinite number of possible places that the music can end up. Can it rightfully be claimed by the country that seizes upon it the most?

Regarding something as non-American music is particularly tricky in the case of artists that come from one country and producers that come from another. If a Swedish artist is produced by a New York record producer, then is the album Swedish or American-derived? Simply put, how can we make sure that the music we play is non-American? Maybe its inspiration was American, or it has derived from a sound that is American. Is it American rock and roll derived? Or blues-derived? Is it a punk that is influenced by the Ramones or by the Clash? Georgio Moroder's production or Donna Summer's vocals?

Well, if you have thoughts on this, leave a comment or call in to discuss. I suppose I could take it as purely non-English-language, but that would cut out some of the U.K. stuff I desperately want to play.

Oh, my fingers are so cold. I've managed to keep most of my body warm, but my hands just refuse to stay warm, and the longer they stay at the keyboard, the colder they get. BRRRR!

It's my birthday tomorrow, so you can also call in about that. (412) 621 - WRCT. Or better, send me beers.

And, because I wouldn't want you to go without any entertainment during this Easter Sunday:

I never could figure out why the parents would separate in such a manner that they wouldn't tell the girls that they were twins. I mean, the girls are so forgiving, but if I found out after however many years that I had a twin sister, and my mother, simply out of spite and dislike for the father, did not tell me, I'd be pissed and raging, not simply looking for a way to get the two back together.
But, I suppose that kind of rains on the parade. This is such an awfully cute clip.


Friday, March 21, 2008

hey, i do like/do a lot of this stuff. i'm an example to my race

The ever-so informative Drudge Report brought this blog to my attention:

Stuff White People Like

That stuff includes:

The Wire
Bottles of water
Having black friends
Having gay friends
Expensive sandwich
Asian girls

For more stuff that white people like, click the link and realize your true feelings toward irony, t-shirts, public radio, and Barack Obama.

White people should also like Afternoon Tea, but I guess they've settled on coffee.

- Emily

Thursday, March 20, 2008

alienation's for the rich...

Oh, working week, how I loathe you. Today, upon waking, I lost it. I'm burnt out from my job. I've worked a week straight as of today. Yesterday, I was on my hands and knees, sorting, throwing out stuff, dusting (dirting is more like it), scrubbing, vacuuming... At one point, standing there, confetti from New Year's Eve stuck to the knees on my black work pants, dust and grime on my new blouse, dirt in my fingernails, all over my hands, on my sweater, on my face, a thought occurred to me: "I have a college degree. I have... a college degree."

I know it could be worse. I could be a real wage slave, slinging burgers for minimum wage, or back at my old job, where I got paid 5.15 an hour to take shit from customers and co-workers alike. No, no, this job has its cushy positives: Decent pay, sufficient down time, flexible schedule, understanding office manager, nice co-workers (well, most of them. The restaurant staff can be pretty vulgar. I try to take it in the right humor... except when they're trying to pull my skirt down... that's not cool.). But lately, I've just felt very done with my job. Look, it's an okay job. Just okay. No benefits, I've worked every holiday since I started, no hope for a salary increase or promotion. And now we're entering our busy Spring season, rung in by the screeching speeding train that is Easter Sunday Brunch. Some fifty reservations, and the owner is still complaining about how few people there are to fill those tables. He's kidding himself.

But you don't read this blog to hear about my job woes. (Well, you don't read this blog, but if "you" did, then "you" wouldn't be reading this to hear about my job woes... presumably.) In honor of my current complicated feelings toward my place of employment, and employment in general, I present a little mix of songs, dedicated to the service workers, domestic employees, and anyone who ever had to remember that he/she has a college degree.

Ten Songs for Employees Everywhere
1. "Welcome to the Working Week" - Elvis Costello (My Aim is True)
2. "Minimum Wage" - They Might Be Giants (Flood)
3. "Working in a Coal Mine" - Lee Dorsey (and try the Devo cover)
4. "Lazybones" - Shonen Knife (712 OR The Birds and the B-sides)
5. "TGIF" - Le Tigre (Feminist Sweepstakes) (Especially the line "All my friends are fucking bitches, best known for burning bridges. Do you need a character witness?")
6. "Don't Worry About the Government" - Talking Heads (Talking Heads 77)
7. "Government Center" - The Modern Lovers (Modern Lovers)
8. "Money (That's What I Want") - Barrett Strong (or any cover there of)
9. "9 to 5" - Dolly Parton (Dolly's coming here in April!)
10. "Working Class Hero" - John Lennon (Plastic Ono Band)

In other news, we are playing non-American music this week. Save us from ourselves and our extensive obsession with French sixties pop music by making a request that is a) not from America and b) not from France.

You can request here, in the comments section, or by calling 412.621.WRCT.

- Emily

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

other voices, other rooms

as per usual, there's a ton going on in the 4-1-2.
(Tuesday) tonight (was): AIR open workshop (bring your own image to silkscreen, there's some ink and pre-emulsified screens; $5 a screen, $1 to print out your acetate there)
event is weekly, 7-11pm

tomorrow: check out NCECA exhibits.

during the day-
Mister Rogers' Birthday, which means:
FREE admission at Mattress Factory and the Children's Museum!! Don't believe me? Check their websites.
at night-
Body on Body (electroclass/jazzercise pop) night at brillobox, bi-weekly bi-social at your inner vagabond, 80s night at Belvedere's.

friday: choose your own adventure (ie up for grabs; I don't know what I'm doing friday, either)

saturday: coffee tasting & pillar of fire purim party at your inner vagabond

we're still looking for decent pgh indiepop. if you or someone you know suffers from indiepopdom, don't send them to IA (indies anon), send them our way.