Ye gods: Thor

Tom Hiddleston is the best reason to watch Thor. Slight of built and with dark hair slicked back like an otter’s, the Norse god of mischief rarely raises his voice; he’s so self-possessed that he doesn’t need to. You understand why he carries a boulder-sized chip on his shoulder: with a ponderous walrus like Odin… More Ye gods: Thor

Marcello Carlin reactivates his blog after some inactivity. HIs latest entry in his review of every chart-topping British album: Elton John’s Don’t Shoot Me I”m Only the Piano Player.

When Donna Summer added prominent rock guitars to her sound, the results were uneven. For every “Hot Stuff” and “Cold Love,” there was a “Nightlife,” on which producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellote abandon the experiment at the halfway point and revert to the pre-/post-disco motorik thud they invented. This rejected track from the shelved… More

“The war with the White House only stirred ratings:” Roger Ailes

I should have posted it last week, thus risking the possibility that anyone who cares has read it, but New York‘s profile of Roger Ailes is a must read. The most salient fact should not surprise: Ailes is the GOP’s kingmaker, to whom every candidate must grovel and offer the proper obeisance. The second point… More “The war with the White House only stirred ratings:” Roger Ailes

Never could learn to love that list and to call it mine

What’s most amusing about TIME’s list of the worst Dylan songs is how they dismiss them with the smug facility the writers used to praise them at the time of their release: “Tight Connection to My Heart,” for example, was in 1985 “a playful bit of lovelorn apocrypha.” My beloved “Tight Connection…”  – one of his best… More Never could learn to love that list and to call it mine

Subtext as text: Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”

I don’t need the encouragement, but these kids do. My students do too. Until “Born This Way,” Lady GaGa counted as a gay spokesman in both obvious (declaring her support for “marriage equality”) and subtle but proven ways (the by now predictable costume changes, which she confuses for stylistic shifts). If you didn’t watch her… More Subtext as text: Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”

Twenty-five years ago today: Pet Shop Boys’ “Please”

To commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of a still unheralded debut, John Freeman gives Pet Shop Boys’ Please another listen. My own take from 2005. Before the video for “Domino Dancing,” before the imperial phase commemorated by the singles from Actually, I want to know how many fans who bought Please in 1986 knew the Boys… More Twenty-five years ago today: Pet Shop Boys’ “Please”

On Harold Bloom

From Sam Tanenhaus’ review of Harold Bloom’s The Anatomy of Influence: The revelation came in Bloom’s “misreadings” — the linkages he found. He made the reader see how John Ashbery really had emerged from Wallace Stevens, just as Stevens had from Whitman; that Browning harbored the ghost of Shelley; that Tennyson issued from Keats. The… More On Harold Bloom