Animated Albums

Not to wax all nostalgic, but one of the biggest and most lamentable casualties of the digital age is album art. Sure, artists are still making great album covers, but only vinyl enthusiasts (I’m one, I admit) see those masterpieces in glorious 12-inch form.
But some people clever with the Photoshops have illustrated just what the digital age can do for album art. Head over to the Animated Album tumbler to see just what this looks like

Sam Peckinpah:"Straw Dogs" (1971)

Upon its release (within a month of Stanley Kubrick's similar meditation on ultra-violence, A Clockwork Orange), Straw Dogs sharply divided critics and audiences over whether it exploited and glorified macho bloodshed or commented on the violence that had become a fact of 1960s American life. Peckinpah proclaimed his own distaste for violence, suggesting that Straw Dogs portrays how society fails to eradicate primitive drives, leading to territorial warfare. What cannot be denied is Peckinpah's ability to elicit a visceral response to the onscreen turmoil, leaving a viewer either to cheer on David's descent toward bloody retribution or be repulsed by the evil that men do. With jittery editing and gloomy cinematography, Peckinpah creates an unsettling atmosphere of foreboding; the town's unexplained animosity adds to the suggestion that what drives them all, including the intellectual David, is beyond the bounds of "civilization." True to the complex nature of these issues, Straw Dogs' ending provides no easy answers or reassurances about what transpires in the Sumner home.

Tindersticks:"Tindersticks" (1993)

A thrilling, revelatory debut, Tindersticks is a chamber pop masterpiece of romantic elegance and gutter debauchery. Within the framework of a remarkably consistent and mesmerizingly dank atmosphere, the group covers a stunning amount of ground -- "Her" is a crashing flamenco number, "The Walt Blues" is a tipsy organ instrumental, and "Paco de Renaldo's Dream" is an impenetrable cinematic monologue punctuated by subdued guitars, pianos, and strings. Stuart Staples' bacchanalian songs are obsessed with fluids, both bodily ("Blood," "Jism") and otherwise ("Nectar," "Whiskey and Water," "Raindrops"); no topic is too personal or too disturbing -- "Piano Song" is frightening in its callousness, while "City Sickness" is an unflinching examination of emotional and physical desperation. Fascinatingly constructed and strikingly ambitious, Tindersticks is insidiously labyrinthine: the music speaks softly but carries tremendous weight, and its hold grows more and more unbreakable with each listen.

Cinemagraphs: A Truly Digital Art Form

It’s official: pictures are old school. Who wants to look at a picture when you can look at one of these? These animated GIFs, or “cinemagraphs,” are the work of photographer Jamie Beck and graphic designer Kevin Burg. These seamless animations capture individual moments of beauty and everyday life and pause them indefinitely.


Drinkify, the newest Internet app to use the power of streaming services like, gives you a suggested drink to go with whatever you are listening to. Looking for something to waste hours on? See what drinks Drinkify suggests to go with your favorite artists

Clint Eastwood:"Gran Torino" (2008)

A racist Korean War veteran living in a crime-ridden Detroit neighborhood is forced to confront his own lingering prejudice when a troubled Hmong teen from his neighborhood attempts to steal his prized Gran Torino. Decades after the Korean War has ended, ageing veteran Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) is still haunted by the horrors he witnessed on the battlefield. The two objects that matter most to Kowalski in life are the classic Gran Torino that represents his happier days working in a Ford assembly plant, and the M-1 rifle that saved his life countless times during combat. When Kowalski's teenage neighbor (Bee Vang) attempts to steal his Gran Torino as part of a gang initiation rite, the old man manages to catch the aspiring thief at the business end of his well-maintained semi-automatic rifle. Later, due to the pride of the Asian group, the boy is forced to return to Kowalski's house and perform an act of penance. Despite the fact that Kowalski wants nothing to do with the young troublemaker, he realizes that the quickest way out of the situation is to simply cooperate. In an effort to set the teen on the right path in life and toughen him up, the reluctant vet sets him up with an old crony who now works in construction. In the process, Kowalski discovers that the only way to lay his many painful memories to rest is to finally face his own blinding prejudice head-on.

PJ Harvey:"To Bring You My Love" (1995)

Following the tour for Rid of Me, Polly Harvey parted ways with Robert Ellis and Stephen Vaughn, leaving her free to expand her music from the bluesy punk that dominated PJ Harvey's first two albums. It also left her free to experiment with her style of songwriting. Where Dry and Rid of Me seemed brutally honest, To Bring You My Love feels theatrical, with each song representing a grand gesture. Relying heavily on religious metaphors and imagery borrowed from the blues, Harvey has written a set of songs that are lyrically reminiscent of Nick Cave's and Tom Waits' literary excursions into the gothic American heartland. Since she was a product of post-punk, she's nowhere near as literally bluesy as Cave or Waits, preferring to embellish her songs with shards of avant guitar, eerie keyboards, and a dense, detailed production. It's a far cry from the primitive guitars of her first two albums, but Harvey pulls it off with style, since her songwriting is tighter and more melodic than before; the menacing "Down by the Water" has genuine hooks, as does the psycho stomp of "Meet Ze Monsta," the wailing "Long Snake Moan," and the stately "C'Mon Billy." The clear production by Harvey, Flood, and John Parish makes these growths evident, which in turn makes To Bring You My Love her most accessible album, even if the album lacks the indelible force of its predecessors.


Liz Phair:"Exile in Guyville" (1993)

If Exile in Guyville is shockingly assured and fully formed for a debut album, there are a number of reasons why. Most prominent of these is that many of the songs were initially essayed on Liz Phair's homemade cassette Girlysound, which means that the songs are essentially the cream of the crop from an exceptionally talented songwriter. Second, there's its structure, infamously patterned after the Stones' Exile on Main St., but not the song-by-song response Phair promoted it as. (Just try to match the albums up: is the "blow-job queen" fantasy of "Flower" really the answer to the painful elegy "Let It Loose"?) Then, most notably, there's Phair and producer Brad Wood's deft studio skills, bringing a variety of textures and moods to a basic, lo-fi production. There is as much hard rock as there are eerie solo piano pieces, and there's everything in between from unadulterated power pop, winking art rock, folk songs, and classic indie rock. Then, there are Phair's songs themselves. At the time, her gleefully profane, clever lyrics received endless attention (there's nothing that rock critics love more than a girl who plays into their geek fantasies, even -- or maybe especially -- if she's mocking them), but years later, what still astounds is the depth of the writing, how her music matches her clear-eyed, vivid words, whether it's on the self-loathing "Fuck and Run," the evocative mood piece "Stratford-on-Guy," or the swaggering breakup anthem "6'1"," or how she nails the dissolution of a long-term relationship on "The Divorce Song." Each of these 18 songs maintains this high level of quality, showcasing a singer/songwriter of immense imagination, musically and lyrically. If she never equaled this record, well, few could.

Todd Solondz:"Happiness" (1998)

Easily one of the 1990s' most controversial films, Happiness evoked a broad range of opinions and emotions. Writer/director Todd Solondz, who debuted with Welcome to the Dollhouse, a portrait of suburbia as the site of a young girl's misery, followed it up with this troubling and thought-provoking exploration of the unhappiness that lurks behind the facades of normality. Some viewers objected to (or were impressed by) the frank depictions and descriptions of sex and masturbation, others were disturbed (or impressed) by the very idea of humanizing a pedophile by showing us the world through his eyes, and still others were troubled (or exhilarated) by that fact that they were laughing through it all. Where some critics saw daring originality, others saw self-conscious shock. Diverse story lines are skillfully balanced, and Solondz coaxes great performances from his varied cast. Love it or hate it, few viewers could deny Solondz's success in ensuring that a scene in which the pederast explains himself to his son is one of the most chilling and unforgettable of the decade. The movie may not always be pleasant to watch, but it is startlingly effective in making us consider the banal evil that goes hand in hand with our quest for happiness.


Luchino Visconti:"Death in Venice" (1971)

Toward the middle of his life, after having worked in a series of thankless comedies for Rank, which nevertheless made him a household name in England, Dirk Bogarde struck out on his own to make a stunning series of films with American expatriate Joseph Losey, most especially The Servant (1963) and Accident (1967). While much of his earlier work had been inconsequential, these films established Bogarde at a stroke as one of England's most serious actors, and led him on a path of self-discovery that eventually wound its way to director Luchino Visconti's door. In Visconti's intensely operatic The Damned (La Caduta degli dei, 1969), Bogarde played the scion of a German munitions manufacturer in Nazi Germany to brutal effect; in 1971, he and Visconti collaborated on one of the director's most disturbing films, Death in Venice (Morte a Venezia). Loosely based on the novel by Thomas Mann, Death in Venice follows composer Gustav von Aschenbach (Bogarde) as he travels to Venice for a vacation, unaware that a mysterious plague is busily claiming the holiday makers one by one, as the management of the luxury hotel where von Aschenbach is staying stage a quiet cover-up, so that people simply "disappear" without explanation. In the midst of this unsettling situation, von Aschenbach develops an obsession with a young boy staying at the resort, Tadzio (Bjorn Andresen). Aging and well aware that the young man could have no possible interest in him other than to manipulate him for money, von Aschenbach nevertheless finds himself in the grip of a passion he cannot escape or explain, and even resorts to cosmetic measures to alter his aging countenance. But all is to no avail, and the film ends in one of the most nihilistic and hopeless final sequences in the history of cinema. Bogarde's performance is heroic and deeply sympathetic; Visconti's direction is methodical and coiled, gradually springing the trap in the film's final half-hour. A remarkable effort on all accounts, this is one of Visconti's finest films, and one of Bogarde's greatest accomplishments.

Johnny Cash:"At Folsom Prison" (1968)

Folsom Prison looms large in Johnny Cash's legacy, providing the setting for perhaps his definitive song and the location for his definitive album, At Folsom Prison. The ideal blend of mythmaking and gritty reality, At Folsom Prison is the moment when Cash turned into the towering Man in Black, a haunted troubadour singing songs of crime, conflicted conscience, and jail. Surely, this dark outlaw stance wasn't a contrivance but it was an exaggeration, with Cash creating this image by tailoring his set list to his audience of prisoners, filling up the set with tales of murder and imprisonment -- a bid for common ground with the convicts, but also a sly way to suggest that maybe Cash really did shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die. Given the cloud of death that hangs over the songs on At Folsom Prison, there's a temptation to think of it as a gothic, gloomy affair or perhaps a repository of rage, but what's striking about Cash's performance is that he never romanticizes either the crime or the criminals: if anything, he underplays the seriousness with his matter-of-fact ballad delivery or how he throws out wry jokes. Cash is relating to the prisoners and he's entertaining them too, singing "Cocaine Blues" like a bastard on the run, turning a death sentence into literal gallows humor on "25 Minutes to Go," playing "I Got Stripes" as if it were a badge of pride. Never before had his music seemed so vigorous as it does here, nor had he tied together his humor, gravity, and spirituality in one record. In every sense, it was a breakthrough, but more than that, At Folsom Prison is the quintessential Johnny Cash album, the place where his legend burns bright and eternal.



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Mike Leigh:"Naked" (1993)

Both hailed and criticized for its bleakness and its basically brutal treatment of women, Naked is an intensely powerful and disturbing motion picture experience. Director Mike Leigh is making a pull-no-punches statement about late 20th century Britain, specifically about the manner in which social systems enable (and allegedly encourage) the strong to abuse the weak. This includes Johnny, a down-and-out drifter with a keen intellect and razor-sharp wit. Victimized by this system, he in turn takes his anger out on those weaker than he, generally women and specifically those who express feelings of warmth or concern toward him. The brutality with which Johnny (and others) treat many of the women in the film is difficult to take; indeed, much of the film is challenging to watch, as there is a rawness and hopelessness that permeates the film. This is leavened by a great deal of humor, as Johnny's brilliant mind can always come up with surprising and amusing comments; but even the humor is of a black or mean bent. Many will be turned off by all of this, but many will also find it exhilarating, thanks to David Thewlis's brilliant acting and Leigh's assured and masterly handling of the material. Thewlis gives one of the most impressive screen performances of the 1990s; his Johnny may be mean, bitter, and almost unbearably angry, but he can also be charming, witty, and even at times sympathetic. Thewlis conveys the quiet desperation that lies beneath the character's unpleasant characteristics, and makes the viewer feel for him, even as he feels repulsed. It is a fascinating portrait. Naked is often horrible to watch, but those who can do so without looking away will be amply rewarded.

Depeche Mode:"Violator" (1990)

In a word, stunning. Perhaps an odd word to use given that Violator continued in the general vein of the previous two studio efforts by Depeche Mode: Martin Gore's upfront lyrical emotional extremism and knack for a catchy hook filtered through Alan Wilder's ear for perfect arrangements, ably assisted by top English producer Flood. Yet the idea that this record would both dominate worldwide charts, while song for song being simply the best, most consistent effort yet from the band could only have been the wildest fantasy before its release. The opening two singles from the album, however, signaled something was up. First was "Personal Jesus," at once perversely simplistic, with a stiff, arcane funk/hip-hop beat and basic blues guitar chords, and tremendous, thanks to sharp production touches and David Gahan's echoed, snaky vocals. Then "Enjoy the Silence," a nothing-else-remains-but-us ballad pumped up into a huge, dramatic romance/dance number, commanding in its mock orchestral/choir scope. Follow-up single "Policy of Truth" did just fine as well, a low-key Motown funk number for the modern day with a sharp love/hate lyric to boot. To top it all off, the album itself scored on song after song, from the shuffling beat of "Sweetest Perfection" (well sung by Gore) and the ethereal "Waiting for the Night" to the guilt-ridden-and-loving-it "Halo" building into a string-swept pounder. "Clean" wraps up Violator on an eerie note, all ominous bass notes and odd atmospherics carrying the song. Goth without ever being stupidly hammy, synth without sounding like the clinical stereotype of synth music, rock without ever sounding like a "rock" band, Depeche here reach astounding heights indeed.


Sylvia Plath

Born to middle class parents in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, Sylvia Plath published her first poem when she was eight. Sensitive, intelligent, compelled toward perfection in everything she attempted, she was, on the surface, a model daughter, popular in school, earning straight A's, winning the best prizes. By the time she entered Smith College on a scholarship in 1950 she already had an impressive list of publications, and while at Smith she wrote over four hundred poems.
Sylvia's surface perfection was however underlain by grave personal discontinuities, some of which doubtless had their origin in the death of her father (he was a college professor and an expert on bees) when she was eight. During the summer following her junior year at Smith, having returned from a stay in New York City where she had been a student ``guest editor'' at Mademoiselle Magazine, Sylvia nearly succeeded in killing herself by swallowing sleeping pills. She later described this experience in an autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, published in 1963. After a period of recovery involving electroshock and psychotherapy Sylvia resumed her pursuit of academic and literary success, graduating from Smith summa cum laude in 1955 and winning a Fulbright scholarship to study at Cambridge, England.
In 1956 she married the English poet Ted Hughes , and in 1960, when she was 28, her first book, The Colossus, was published in England. The poems in this book---formally precise, well wrought---show clearly the dedication with which Sylvia had served her apprenticeship; yet they give only glimpses of what was to come in the poems she would begin writing early in 1961. She and Ted Hughes settled for a while in an English country village in Devon, but less than two years after the birth of their first child the marriage broke apart.
The winter of 1962-63, one of the coldest in centuries, found Sylvia living in a small London flat, now with two children, ill with flu and low on money. The hardness of her life seemed to increase her need to write, and she often worked between four and eight in the morning, before the children woke, sometimes finishing a poem a day. In these last poems it is as if some deeper, powerful self has grabbed control; death is given a cruel physical allure and psychic pain becomes almost tactile.
On February 11, 1963, Sylvia Plath killed herself with cooking gas at the age of 30. Two years later Ariel, a collection of some of her last poems, was published; this was followed by Crossing the Water and Winter Trees in 1971, and, in 1981, The Collected Poems appeared, edited by Ted Hughes.


Russ Meyer:"Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" (1966)

"Welcome to violence!" The sinister voice-over that begins Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! warns its presumably all-male audience that a new breed of woman exists, feral females that hide deceit and murder under their soft seductive skins, and apparently, these women are everywhere. This bit of misogyny leads directly into an equal-opportunity tale of mayhem where the ladies are indeed fully in charge. Some modern-day revisionists like to refashion this film into some sort of proto-feminist fable, but the only real twist is allowing the ladies to be villains as amoral and violent as any classic moustache-twirler. The male leads (particularly Stuart Lancaster's odious wheelchair-bound millionaire) are either hateful of women or exist to offer knight-in-shining-armor assistance when necessary, so don't look to Faster, Pussycat! for any feminist theory. Nevertheless, this is still the crowning achievement of Russ Meyer's stunning catalogue. The arch, stylized dialogue is packed with spicy slang and poetic asides, and the action is briskly paced. Tura Satana steals the show as the lead bad girl, alternately yelling and purring her way through a role that rips up scenery and co-stars in equal measures. Every inch of the film entertains, from the wild desert drag racing sequences to the sexually charged fried chicken lunch that the characters stop fighting each other long enough to share. Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! has a deliciously ruthless rhythm that few films of such modest aspirations ever achieve -- it could very well be the most finely crafted exploitation film ever made.

The Shangri-Las:"Myrmidons of Melodrama" (1994)

Until the release of this import, there had never been a truly satisfactory Shangri-Las anthology; in fact, the group had been subject to worse piecemeal mangling than almost any other significant act of the 1960s. This 33-track production finally sets the record straight, including all of the significant A-sides, B-sides, and album tracks they recorded for Red Bird between 1964 and 1966, as well as an earlier single for a different label, and four radio commercials. Includes every one of their hits, but anyone who likes those will be enchanted by quite a few of their more obscure numbers here: "Dressed in Black," "Paradise," "It's Easier to Cry," "Never Again," and "Heaven Knows" are all first-class (if sometimes mordant). Not everything is up to that level, but enough is to make a case for them as one of the very best girl groups, and the good sound and thorough liner notes are significant bonuses. It may be more extensive and expensive than some fans wish, but don't settle for the numerous skimpy/rip-off domestic compilations, all of which manage to leave off some key tunes; this is the definitive document.


Bryan Singer:"The Usual Suspects" (1995)

A slick triumph of casting and wordplay, The Usual Suspects was one of the most fiendishly intricate American films of the 1990s. Relentlessly stylish and growing more convoluted by the frame, the film invited its audience to take part in the confusion, to attempt to discern illusion from reality as if watching a magician's act. What makes The Usual Suspects remarkable is that fact and fiction never evolve into distinct entities, entwining in an almost indiscernible jumble to baffle the viewer. Like the all-important but (largely) unseen Keyser Soze, Suspects' genius rested in holding its audience hostage to the intangible, making it equally impossible to believe what you've seen or dismiss what you haven't. In turn, the film is shamelessly manipulative, demanding the audience's complete involvement and undivided attention; a bathroom break carries the risk of losing the plot entirely. As the men caught up in the film's labyrinthine intrigue, Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, Benicio Del Toro, Kevin Pollak, and Stephen Baldwin fit their roles perfectly, demonstrating an ensemble casting coup. Spacey, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Verbal Kint, is particularly impressive, managing to be pathetic, off-handedly irreverent, and cunning all at once. The qualities on display in his performance make him the poster child for the film's overall tone: shifty, garrulous, and altogether not to be trusted, Spacey's Kint embodies the film's compulsive, charming will to deception. Director Bryan Singer handles his characters and the film's many twists with the ease of a devious master puppeteer, mixing liberal doses of film noir, humor, and intrigue with refreshing audacity. The result was one of the most accomplished thrillers of the decade, a mystery whose wild manipulations came courtesy of a director whose hands were very tightly gripped around the controls.

George Jones:"I Am What I Am" (1980)

I Am What I Am announced that George Jones had officially returned to form artistically and, in the process, it became his biggest hit album ever. It's easy to see why -- the production is commercial without being slick, the songs are balanced between aching ballads and restrained honky tonk numbers, and Jones gives a nuanced, moving performance. "He Stopped Loving Her Today," "I'm Not Ready Yet," and "If Drinkin' Don't Kill Me (Her Memory Will)" were the hits, but the remaining seven album tracks are exceptionally strong, without a weak track in the bunch. It's mature country, both in the laid-back approach and subject matter, but that doesn't mean it's dull -- like the best country music, these are lived-in songs that are simple, direct, and emotionally powerful, even with the smooth production. I Am What I Am is the sound of George Jones at his peak and it's the highlight of his later years. Four bonus tracks -- "Am I Losing Your Memory or Mine?," "The Ghost of Another Man," "It's All in My Mind," and "I'm a Fool for Loving Her" -- give the 20th anniversary version of the album an added richness.

Moebius Redux: A Life in Pictures

Jean Henri Gaston Giraud (8 May 1938 – 10 March 2012) was a French comics artist, working in the French tradition of bandes dessinées. Giraud earned worldwide fame, predominantly under the pseudonym Mœbius, and to a lesser extent Gir (used for the Blueberry series), the latter appearing mostly in the form of a boxed signature at the bottom of the artist's paintings. Esteemed by Federico Fellini and Stan Lee among other notables, he was one of the few francophone comic strip artists to receive international acclaim.

Among his most famous works are the Western comic series Blueberry he co-created with writer Jean-Michel Charlier, one of the first Western anti-heroes to appear in comics. Under the pseudonym Moebius he created a wide range of science fiction and and fantasy comics in a highly imaginative and surreal almost abstract style, the most famous of which are Arzach, the Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius, and The Incal. Blueberry was adapted for the screen in 2004 by French director Jan Kounen. In 1997, Moebius and cocreator Alejandro Jodorowsky sued Luc Besson for using The Incal as inspiration for his movie The Fifth Element, a lawsuit which they lost.

Moebius contributed storyboards and concept designs to numerous science fiction and fantasy films, including Alien, Willow, and Tron (1982).

Here's a one-hour BBC documentary on Moebius

Lars von Trier:"Dogville" (2003)

Master provocateur Lars von Trier divided audiences with this formally daring film about a woman on the run who finds a worse fate at the hands of her rescuers. Set in Depression-era America, Dogville was filmed on an empty soundstage à la Thornton Wilder's play Our Town, a mounting that literalizes the movie's metaphoric baring of the American soul. Like Emily Watson's Bess in Breaking the Waves and Björk's Selma in Dancer in the Dark, Nicole Kidman's Grace is the latest in a long line of von Trier's sacrificial innocents. Her march to martyrdom comprises the heart of this parable, which comments on the essential hypocrisy and meanness of America. By the climax, however, the movie enlarges its metaphor to suggest a more sweeping critique of human nature. The apocalypse that ends Dogville, signaled by Grace's reunion with her mobster father, carries faint echoes of divine retribution. Ending with a montage of photographs from the Great Depression, von Trier seems to tip his hand toward a more limited reading of his movie, which was denounced by some critics as an anti-American screed. Its political and philosophical subtext aside, Dogville is clearly the act of a filmmaker working with consummate confidence. The writing and the performances can be wooden, but the 177-minute epic remains compulsively, disturbingly watchable. Held together by John Hurt's brilliant narration -- perhaps the finest voice-over in movies since Barry Lyndon -- Dogville is a testament to von Trier's prodigious storytelling skills.

Yes:"Fragile" (1971)

Fragile was Yes' breakthrough album, propelling them in a matter of weeks from a cult act to an international phenomenon; not coincidentally, it also marked the point where all of the elements of the music (and more) that would define their success for more than a decade fell into place fully formed. The science-fiction and fantasy elements that had driven the more successful songs on their preceding record, The Yes Album, were pushed much harder here, and not just in the music but in the packaging of the album:the Roger Dean-designed cover was itself a fascinating creation that seemed to relate to the music and drew the purchaser's attention in a manner that few records since the heyday of the psychedelic era could match. Having thrown original keyboard player Tony Kaye overboard early in the sessions -- principally over his refusal to accept the need for the Moog synthesizer in lieu of his preferred Hammond organ -- the band welcomed Rick Wakeman into its ranks. His use of the Moog, among other instruments, coupled with an overall bolder and more aggressive style of playing, opened the way for a harder, hotter sound by the group as a whole; bassist Chris Squire sounds like he's got his amp turned up to "12," and Steve Howe's electric guitars are not far behind, although the group also displayed subtlety where it was needed. The opening minute of "Roundabout," the album opener -- and the basis for the edited single that would reach number 13 on the Billboard charts and get the group onto AM radio in a way that most other prog rock outfits could only look upon with envy -- was dominated by Howe's acoustic guitar and Bill Bruford‘s drums, and only in the middle section did the band show some of what they could do with serious amperage. Elsewhere on the record, as on "South Side of the Sky," they would sound as though they were ready to leave the ground (and the planet), between the volume and intensity of their playing. "Long Distance Runaround," which also served as the B-side of the single, was probably the most accessible track here apart from "Roundabout," but they were both ambitious enough to carry most listeners on to the heavier sides at the core of this long player. The solo tracks by the members were actually a necessity: they needed to get Fragile out in a hurry to cover the cost of the keyboards that Wakeman had added to the group's sonic arsenal. But they ended up being more than filler. Each member, in effect, took a "bow" in mostly fairly serious settings, and Squire's "The Fish" and Howe's "Mood For a Day" pointed directly to future, more substantial projects as well as taking on a life of their own on-stage. If not exactly their peak, Fragile was as perfect a record as the group would ever make, and just as flawless in its timing as its content.


Edward Hopper

EDWARD HOPPER (1882-1967) – Hopper is widely known as the painter of urban loneliness. His most famous work, the fabulous "Nighthawks" (1942) has become the symbol of the solitude of the contemporary metropolis, and it is one of the icons of the 20th century Art.

Shameless US Series

When I think of dysfunctional family dramedy, I tend to think of upper-middle-class shows like “Parenthood’’ and “Brothers & Sisters.’’ Well-preserved grandparents regret screwing up their adult kids, who are busy over-correcting those mistakes with their own kids. Meanwhile, the furniture is fabulous, and the wall colors are so perfect they make me want to pull out my paint-chip wheel.
So “Shameless,’’ Showtime’s wonderful remake of the long-running British series, comes as a nice change of pace. In this excellent, affectionate family dramedy, which premieres Sunday at 10, the walls are grimy, the upholstery is torn, and the one bathroom is a traffic jam. What’s more, the show’s single parent of six — Frank Gallagher, played by William H. Macy — is a raging, bitter drunk, often found passed out on the floor in a pool of urine, a Charles Bukowski-like figure regularly carried home by the cops. No well-preserved patriarch, he.
The Gallaghers of Chicago are poor, so the kids steal milk from a dairy truck and coupons from neighbors’ newspapers. Brilliant teen son Lip (short for Phillip) takes PSAT tests for other students for a wad of cash. While Frank blows his disability checks at local bars, his kids scrounge together money like Fagin’s crew from “Oliver Twist.’’ To be sure, “Shameless’’ feels like contemporary Dickens, portraying a forgotten underclass living close to the streets and the world of nonviolent crime. The show’s sexual situations — including oft-undressed neighbors Kev and Veronica — are very now, and very Showtime; but the socioeconomic plight is old indeed. The Gallaghers’ struggle predates our current financial crisis.
But wait: “Shameless’’ is not a gloomy TV lesson created to show us how hard some people have it. Executive producers John Wells (from “ER’’) and Paul Abbott (who created the British “Shameless’’) have made sure that the “edy’’ half of dramedy is loud and clear. The Gallagher kids live in dire circumstances, but “Shameless’’ focuses on how they survive. Frank is almost a peripheral figure, as Emmy Rossum’s Fiona, the oldest sister, keeps the household running. There’s something sweet in the way the kids scrunch together on the couch to watch the Discovery Channel or rally to pay the gas bill. You can feel their strength in numbers. But that sentimental streak in the show is compensated by Frank’s coldness and the scrappy urban realism, translated so effectively from the British original.

Royal Trux:"Accelerator" (1998)

Not long after they received Sweet Sixteen, complete with its notorious cover of an excrement- and vomit-filled toilet, Virgin Records realized Royal Trux may not be a crossover act. They were willing to let the band go, giving them severance pay and the master tapes to their recently completed album, Accelerator, which was then released on their old home, Drag City. Listening to the album, it's hard to believe that a major label funded such an exhilaratingly noisy record. Ostensibly the third installment in their ongoing salute to particular decades in rock history -- that is, Thank You took on the '60s, Sweet Sixteen saluted the '70s -- Royal Trux deconstructs '80s rock on Accelerator, running all the instruments through some sort of electronic distortion, taking away the bass, trying to make it sound processed. Since this is Royal Trux, the result still is indebted to the Stones and astoundingly messy, but that's why Accelerator rocks like a demon, running over everything in sight. The album sounds chaotic, but there are some great songs hidden under the cacophony, like the explosive "I'm Ready," the soul vamp "Juicy, Juicy, Juice," and the soul-tinged closer, "Stevie." Royal Trux have rarely had both their songwriting and noise under control like they do here, and the result is pure dynamite -- possibly their best album to date.

Ethan Coen,Joel Coen:"Burn After Reading" (2008)

The opening shot of the Coen Brothers' new black comedy Burn After Reading takes the viewer from outer space to inside CIA headquarters. The last shot takes us out of that building, back up into space. This device makes it clear that Joel and Ethan are playing God. They have devised a shaggy dog tale where almost every single person acts only in their own self-interest, and nobody gets away unscathed. It's the darkest comedy they've made since Barton Fink, and it might be mistaken for a work of genuine misanthropy if it wasn't so funny.
The complicated -- but never confusing -- plot begins when CIA agent Osborne Cox (John Malkovich) learns from his boss that he is being demoted. Cox quits in a fit of pique, all the while throwing F-bombs around with comfort and authority -- like a Princeton-educated Scorsese gangster. The language, as well as the fact that characters are always saying Osborne's last name, make it clear that right from the beginning that vulgarity is one of the movie's major themes. Upon learning of his unemployment, Cox's wife (Tilda Swinton) hires a lawyer to begin divorce proceedings, a move that eventually leads to a lost CD that may contain sensitive state secrets. That information comes into the hands of Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand), a middle-aged woman who needs lots of money in order to reinvent herself with massive amounts of plastic surgery; and her dim best friend, Chad, played with wonderful comic timing by Brad Pitt. Chad swears just as often as Cox does, but for very different reasons. Where Cox's profanity reveals his boundless sense of superiority, Chad simply knows no better way to express himself. When Chad meets face to face with Cox to blackmail him, it's a hilarious clash between an idiot and an a-hole. It would be unfair to reveal how inveterate womanizer Harry (George Clooney) -- and his newest invention -- figure into the plot, because watching this story unfold is so much fun. The movie is written like a screwball comedy, but it's paced like a drama. When audiences might expect the film to build a head of steam like the last half-hour of Raising Arizona, the Coen Brothers refuse to play along. It would appear that they are interested in something more than a straightforward comedy; all of the characters are morally ugly, a fact underscored by the movie's anti-glamorous look -- there is a prominent lack of makeup on just about everybody. The film is populated with realistic grotesques whose selfish, vulgar actions have ramifications that extend far beyond their myopic self-interest. The movie works as a silly R-rated comedy to be sure, but it does have the kick of an adult Grimm Brothers fairy tale with a moral about what awaits those who behave very badly. In its own way, Burn After Reading is as despairing a film about human beings as No Country for Old Men, it just happens to be full of belly laughs rather than existential angst.

Get High Now

This is probably not what you think (there is no website for that, yet). Get High Now is a science site disguised as mind-expansion. There are 40 audio and visual illusions (or, if you must, "hallucinations") to be experienced and, after reading about the brain science that explains them, understood. Risset rhythms seem to get faster and faster, yet not if you time them by tapping your foot. Shepard tones get higher and higher (or lower and lower) yet never change key. Binaural beats and theta-wave synchronizations make you feel different — and you're not just imagining things; the changes they induce can be seen with fMRI. And then there's the highly intoxicating chronosynclastic infundibulum, which remains a mystery to science.

Spike Lee:"Do the Right Thing" (1989)

Provoking both substantial praise and fierce criticism for its "inflammatory" content, Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing (1989) examined racism in all its complexity, eschewing simple answers for an ambiguous, artistically ambitious mosaic. The action is confined to one Brooklyn block on the hottest day of the summer, and the Bedford-Stuyvesant location thus becomes a multi-racial and multi-ethnic microcosm, spanning all ages and character types. The tapestry of incidents, whether humorous, intimate, or increasingly hostile, becomes a means to articulate a wide range of attitudes and beliefs, bolstered by cinematographer Ernest Dickerson's contrasting "hot" and "cool" colors and Lee's stylistic breaks from traditional narrative, such as direct address to the camera. Sal's Pizzeria may be the central site of confrontation, but it isn't just a matter of black vs. white. The final quotes from Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. offer differing views about racism and violence, punctuating a film that at all points questions what is the "right thing" and never offers a clear or simple answer. Funded by Universal after School Daze's success in 1988, Do the Right Thing premiered to acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival that was matched in the U.S. despite unfounded trepidation that it would provoke violence. Considered one of the few great American films made in the 1980s (although it was largely ignored by the Oscars), Do the Right Thing confirmed Lee as one of the preeminent filmmakers to emerge from the decade, while its box office success helped galvanize a new wave of 1990s African-American cinema.

Jonathan Wilson:"Gentle Spirit" (2011)

Warm, fuzzy and unashamedly long, this gloriously languid debut solo outing puffs into view seemingly all the way from the late Sixties, with little interest in breaking new ground. Wilson has learnt his craft impeccably, having previously played for Elvis Costello, Jenny Lewis and Jackson Browne amongst others, and 'Gentle Spirit' serves to unleash his own voice, even if it is a slightly stoned whisper.
Recorded sporadically over a long period of time, and very audibly unhurried, the title and pace of the album suggest that we could all do with taking stock once in a while, hazy guitar lines lulling the listener into a state of serene bliss. 'Can We Really Party Today?' aches beautifully over almost seven minutes, gently sashaying through the verses, before shifting down several gears for the sombre chorus. While the lyrics may be platitudinous at times - "When it's all said and done, we are just dust on the horizon" from 'Natural Rhapsody' - on occasion a little simplicity and sincerity is all we need.
Recorded to analogue tape, the sound is warm and earthy, Wilson professing that he envisages it as a double album designed for vinyl. As he suggests on album closer 'Valley Of The Silver Moon', his music is out of step with current trends. All of which is not to say that 'Gentle Spirit' is diluted pastiche; everything here is gorgeously sung and this woozy, gently uplifting collection of songs is pretty close to perfect.


Need to find a scene from your favorite film? With more than 12,000 film snippets, Movieclips has one of the most comprehensive collections available on the Web — and there's no need to wade through duplicates. You can search by film title, character name, actor or keyword. Searching for "fight" yields an interesting library of Rocky moments, period sword duels and even a pillow battle or two, whereas "first kiss" brings up famous on-screen smooches from the likes of Romeo, Scarlett O'Hara and the cast of Grease. But Movieclips is a quintessential film index with a twist. With a built-in editing tool, users can create their own video mashups with relative ease. We opted for a Wizard of Oz–Inception mashup — watch it here — and were able to create the entire thing in less than 10 minutes.


Algorithm-powered "personal radio" services like Pandora are all very well. But they don't feel nearly as personal as 8tracks, a music site where real people do the choosing of tunes. Members pick at least eight songs (hence the name) from their own collections, upload them and share them as handcrafted mixes that seem like a happy throwback from the cassette era. You can find mixes created by your Facebook friends or simply follow other members who share your tastes. And it's legal — the 8tracks people pay the necessary licensing fees to the music companies.

Nicolas Winding Refn:"Drive" (2011)

Ryan Gosling is a Steve McQueen-style knight in tarnished armor in Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive, a slick urban fairy tale punctuated by shocking bursts of graphic violence, and distinguished by its stylized, yet uncompromisingly classical approach to material that could have easily become clichéd and forgettable in the hands of a lesser filmmaker. A sort of art-house Fast and the Furious for audiences weary of whiz-bang over-editing and empty bombast, it bears the unmistakable mark of a modern auteur by being at once intensely modern and obsessively retro, and it serves as an exciting reminder that filmmakers needn't necessarily sacrifice story and character for intense action.
A lone-wolf Hollywood stunt driver (Gosling) moonlights as a freelance getaway wheelman, and he finds his solitary existence taking on new meaning after befriending Irene (Carey Mulligan), the lonely wife of convicted felon Standard (Oscar Isaac), and her young son Benicio (Kaden Leos). When Standard gets released from prison and is strong-armed into committing a bold daytime robbery, the Driver offers his services in an effort to help the repentant ex-con cut his ties to the criminal underworld. Things get complicated, however, when the robbery goes unexpectedly awry, and the Driver just barely manages to escape alive. When the take from the job proves to be stratospherically higher than the Driver was led to believe, it quickly becomes apparent that they were set up. Later, thugs threaten to kill Irene and Benicio, and all evidence points to transplanted New York crime boss Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) and his hot-headed partner Nino (Ron Perlman) as the masterminds. As the Driver attempts to turn the tables on them, it becomes clear that the chain of command goes much higher than he could have ever anticipated.

At first glance, the plot of Drive sounds like the setup for your standard, adrenaline-saturated Hollywood actioner. In the capable hands of Refn and screenwriter Hossein Amini, however, it gradually takes on the vibe of a gritty, contemporary fable -- complete with a noble hero, a damsel in distress, and despicable villains. Refn, an ambitious filmmaker with an eclectic filmography, works carefully to perfect a seductive, ethereal rhythm that subverts the pedal-to-the-metal car-chase flick. Scenes that would typically feature a dozen edits play out in long, single takes featuring assured camera movements that heighten the suspense, and the electronic-heavy score evokes mesmerizing memories of Tangerine Dream.

The simmering chemistry between Gosling and Mulligan, meanwhile, gives Drive the aching air of a forbidden romance. Soon after their first meeting, it's obvious that the two characters are drawn to one another. It's when circumstances conspire to keep them apart that things really start to get interesting. But there's no jealousy, bitterness, or resentment between the Driver and Irene once their relationship reaches its limit, and by giving the Driver a sense of stoicism and moral ambiguity, Refn and Amini create a compelling character who is unquestionably flawed, but still honorable in his own unique way.

Likewise, the supporting characters are painted with equal complexity: A desperate man drawn somewhat helplessly into a dire situation, Standard is a far cry from the ex-con stereotype, and Isaac brings his inner conflict to the surface in a manner that evokes genuine sympathy. And while Bernie is essentially Albert Brooks with psychotic impulses, it's precisely that easygoing amiability that evokes such unrelenting tension once the situation takes a turn for the worst. Bryan Cranston, who recently managed to make the rare transition from sitcom star to respected actor thanks largely to his role in AMC's Breaking Bad, makes a big impression as Shannon, the garage owner who took the Driver under his wing after recognizing his inherent wizardry behind the wheel and under the hood. Perlman's Nino is just about the only character in the primary cast that could be accused of being entirely one-dimensional, but even so, the popular character actor makes him completely watchable.

Throughout his career, Nicolas Winding Refn has proven that measured violence can be the most effective. Much like his previous film -- the ultra-polarizing Valhalla Rising -- the bloodshed in Drive is brief but shockingly brutal when it eventually happens. But as proven in a climactic confrontation that unfolds entirely in shadow, Refn also exercises restraint in a manner that's strikingly artful and keeps us teetering nervously on the edge of our seats. Young directors would do well to take a cue or two from Refn when it comes to telling an engrossing story, because when a filmmaker with real vision is at the wheel, even the familiar can feel fresh, new, and exciting.

Gil Scott-Heron:"Pieces of a Man" (1971)

After decades of influencing everyone from jazz musicians to hip-hop stars, Pieces of a Man set a standard for vocal artistry and political awareness that few musicians will ever match. Scott-Heron's unique proto-rap style influenced a generation of hip-hop artists, and nowhere is his style more powerful than on the classic "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised." Even though the media -- the very entity attacked in this song -- has used, reused, and recontextualized the song and its title so many times, its message is so strong that it has become almost impossible to co-opt. Musically, the track created a formula that modern hip-hop would follow for years to come: bare-bones arrangements featuring pounding basslines and stripped-down drumbeats. Although the song features plenty of outdated references to everything from Spiro Agnew and Jim Webb to The Beverly Hillbillies, the force of Scott-Heron's well-directed anger makes the song timeless. More than just a spoken word poet, Scott-Heron was also a uniquely gifted vocalist. On tracks like the reflective "I Think I'll Call It Morning" and the title track, Scott-Heron's voice is complemented perfectly by the soulful keyboards of Brian Jackson. On "Lady Day and John Coltrane," he not only celebrates jazz legends of the past in his words but in his vocal performance, one that is filled with enough soul and innovation to make Coltrane and Billie Holiday nod their heads in approval. More than three decades after its release, Pieces of a Man is just as -- if not more -- powerful and influential today as it was the day it was released.

Raymond Carver

Raymond Clevie Carver, Jr. (May 25, 1938 – August 2, 1988) was an American short story writer and poet. Carver is considered a major American writer of the late 20th century and also a major force in the revitalization of the short story in the 1980s.

Charles Bukowski:"HOW TO BE A GOOD WRITER"

by Charles Bukowski

you’ve got to fuck a great many women
beautiful women
and write a few decent love poems.

and don’t worry about age
and/or freshly-arrived talents.

just drink more beer
more and more beer

and attend the racetrack at least once a


and win
if possible

learning to win is hard -
any slob can be a good loser.

and don’t forget your Brahms
and your Bach and your

don’t overexercise.

sleep until noon.

avoid paying credit cards
or paying for anything on

remember that there isn’t a piece of ass
in this world over $50
(in 1977).

and if you have the ability to love
love yourself first
but always be aware of the possibility of
total defeat
whether the reason for that defeat
seems right or wrong -

an early taste of death is not necessarily
a bad thing.

stay out of churches and bars and museums,
and like the spider be
patient -
time is everybody’s cross,

all that dross.

stay with the beer.

beer is continuous blood.

a continuous lover.

get a large typewriter
and as the footsteps go up and down
outside your window

hit that thing
hit it hard

make it a heavyweight fight

make it the bull when he first charges in

and remember the old dogs
who fought so well:
Hemingway, Celine, Dostoevsky, Hamsun.

If you think they didn’t go crazy
in tiny rooms
just like you’re doing now

without women
without food
without hope

then you’re not ready.

drink more beer.
there’s time.
and if there’s not
that’s all right

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