Pop Culture Gadabout
Saturday, February 20, 2010
      ( 2/20/2010 05:57:00 AM ) Bill S.  

WEEKEND PET PIC: Here's a shot of Xander Cat that does a good job of showing off his freaky eyes:

THE USUAL NOTE: For more cool pics of companion animals, please check out Modulator's "Friday Ark."
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Friday, February 19, 2010
      ( 2/19/2010 06:40:00 AM ) Bill S.  

“THIS STREET SCUM ALSO HAPPENS TO BE THE BEST PICKPOCKET IN SHAMBHALLA!” Reading the first issue of Radical Comics’ new take on the Aladdin story, Legacy of the Lost, I had a moment where I flashed on the brief faux controversy arising from the Disneyfied musical take on the story. As originally released, the 1992 animated musical contained a song with a lyrical ref to severed ears (“Where they chop off your ear if they don't like your face”), but the offending line was replaced after the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee publicly complained. In the new comic book Aladdin, scripter Ian Edgington includes a scene where our young thief hero is caught trying to cheat at dice and nearly gets his hands lopped off -- a variation on the yarn that inspired the original Howard Ashman/Alan Menken lyric. Don’t see Radical recalling and re-lettering their comic, though.

That times-have-changed moment noted, on the basis of the first in this three-issue mini-series, Aladdin: Legacy of the Lost looks to be a fairly straightforward remake of the story of a boy and djinn. First ish is primarily devoted to establishing the villainy of wicked sorcerer Qassim and to getting our hero into the cave that contains the magical lamp. As murderous weapons, Qassim utilizes a pair of toothy sand-dwelling monsters (bring on the disposable lackeys!) which prove suitably impressive, while the cave itself contains its share of Harryhausen-esque menaces (giant scorpions!) that’ll warm the bloodthirsty cockles of every creature-crazed young boy’s heart.

Patrick Reilly’s painterly renderings of the proceedings, separated with thick black spaced ‘tween the panels, make even the outdoor market of Arabian city Shambhalla look cavernous at times -- or perhaps like the studio bound world of an old exotic fantasy starring Maria Montez. The women all have bigger breasts, of course, but then you knew that would be the case, right? All part of the Whole New World of modern American comics.


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Wednesday, February 17, 2010
      ( 2/17/2010 07:01:00 AM ) Bill S.  

MID-WEEK MUSIC VID: A quick cut from Songs of the Pogo, courtesy of John Linnell of They Might Be Giants:

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010
      ( 2/16/2010 07:01:00 AM ) Bill S.  

“SHE DOESN’T NEED COSMOPOLITAN TO TELL HER WHERE SHE FITS IN.” If every generation needs its cultish eccentric pop songbird, than Aussie warbler Kate Miller-Heidke has to be This Gen’s Model. Her new release Curiouser (Sony/BMG), co-written with guitarist Keir Nuttall, has plenty of goofy vocal swoops and smart-girl attitude to go with the well-blended keyb and guitar work: lovers of this kind of wiggy songcraft will recognize traces of Lene Lovich and Kate Bush in the sound, while some of Miller-Heidke’s lyrics (“I Like You Better When You’re Not Around,” f’rinstance) come close to broaching Kirsty MacColl in the brightly snippy put-down department.

You either dig this kind of material or find yourself thoroughly irritated by its swooping affectation: me, I currently can’t stop playing it, though whether this onetime opera student will have the staying power of MacColl or devolve into a stuck-on-the-shelves flash like, say, Nina Hagen is presently an open question. What remains inarguable for now is the sheer catchiness of cuts like “Can’t Shake It,” with its ode to dance floor klutziness and “Mickey”-esque guitar line; the album’s second great piss-off track, “God’s Gift to Women” (“If you’re God’s gift to woman, than she got it wrong".”) and the folksy “Politics in Space,” which slams into the Politics of Hope with strumming acoustic work straight out of The Coca Cola Kid. “Caught in the Crowd” tackles school bullying with a ruefulness that avoids both pity or sentimentality -- it’s sung from the PoV of a girl who stepped aside when one of the school misfits is targeted -- though the touching track is nearly derailed by keyboarding that's almost a trace too poppy.

With a fraction of restraint (not too much, though, less she mute her distinctive voice), this pop cult Alice could produce something musically transplendent. “I’m a baby boomer’s daughter, and I’m never gonna reach Nirvana,” she sings at one point in “Space.” Ah, but you’re pretty damn close, daughter.


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Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

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