More than meets the eye

David Edelstein shows us how to write an uproarious review of a terrible summer blockbuster: The first hour of Dark of the Moon is tighter than Revenge of the Fallen, but it still has that self-parodic vibe. Bay has too much testosterone to shoot a simple dialogue scene, smashing together disparate shots while actors likeContinue reading “More than meets the eye”

Latinates: ugly cravats

Justice Anthony Kennedy offers advice for writing legal prose, but it applies to anyone attempting prose worth a damn: Interviewer: You have some pet peeves as a writer — among which, you don’t like adverbs, do you? Kennedy: I do not like adverbs. In part, it’s because it’s a rule that I want to haveContinue reading “Latinates: ugly cravats”

The King’s Speech

Martin Amis’ introduction to the late Kingsley’s The King’s English, in which its author reminds us of the true definition of  “infamous” and the imprecision and sheer ugliness of words and phrases like eke out, brutalise, and decimate. Amis forgot other noun-cum-verbs like victimize and impact. I quiver with joy at the thought of whatContinue reading “The King’s Speech”

Sadness without cause: Bon Iver

It had to happen: Toto, Sade, and the Blow Monkeys have gotten their due. Thanks to Ariel Pink’s Before Today, Destroyer’s Kaputt and Bon Iver’s new eponymous album, the most fervently untrodden musical paths of the eighties now boast fresh footprints. Keening vocals struggling to articulate romantic and/or existential vagaries dominate these albums; their musicalContinue reading “Sadness without cause: Bon Iver”

Same sex marriage: how it happened

After last night’s extraordinary legislative session in Albany, the reckoning. How did it happen? An alliance between Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Catholic, and Wall Street fat cats who, according to Michael Barbaro, saw more clearly than their Republican puppets on the Christian right that supporting same-sex marriage was the most conservative act they could conceive:Continue reading “Same sex marriage: how it happened”

Singles Jukebox 6/24

In the busiest reviewing week of the year, three country singles were the best of a batch that included two “efforts” by Lil Wayne to continue sullying his legacy – and Aldean currently sits in the pop top ten. Imagine: a world in which Michael Bolton outranks Lil Wayne. All scores based on a one toContinue reading “Singles Jukebox 6/24”

Weak in the presence of beauty: Frank Ocean’s “Nostalgia, Ultra”

I haven’t heard an R&B album* this year as fulsome as Frank Ocean’s Nostalgia, Ultra. This member of the Odd Future collective specializes in spare, slivery tracks in which admissions of swinish behavior and professions of love intermingle, uneasily. On one hand, Ocean can ask, “Is it really wrong that I want to be yourContinue reading “Weak in the presence of beauty: Frank Ocean’s “Nostalgia, Ultra””

“Complete nonsense”

Bruce Bartlett, domestic policy adviser in the Reagan administration and Treasury adviser to George H.W. Bush, quietly dissects GOP drivel about the regenerative effect of tax cuts. What none of Bartlett’s new liberal friends will mention — Lawrence O’Donnell included — is how well Bartlett and his supply side friends cooked the books in theContinue reading ““Complete nonsense””

Money, money, money: Beyonce’s “4”

Of course Beyonce “has a voice.” She “knows how to sing.” My decade-long reluctance to embrace her sprung from skepticism of a larynx whose pyrotechnics immolated us, the song, and Beyonce herself. Blessed with the looks and talent that most of us wrongly assume require no nurturing, she’s hopped from “Bills, Bills, Bills” to DreamgirlsContinue reading “Money, money, money: Beyonce’s “4””

RIP Clarence Clemons

More than his sax solos, which were at best memorable (think “Jungleland” and “Bobby Jean”), Clemons’ smile epitomized the generosity of the E Street Band. The moments I choose to remember are in two hits from 1985: his solo in Aretha Franklin’s “Freeway of Love” and “You’re a Friend of Mine,” his duet with JacksonContinue reading “RIP Clarence Clemons”