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Saturday, January 27, 2007


Two Thumbs Up My Ass

My good friend Beigey recently invited me to contribute to a group blog called Five C Reviews, which deals in pop culture critiques in five hundred words or less. I was flattered by the offer and I accepted.

And then I was immediately hit by the revelation that I don't know nearly enough about anything to offer any kind of valid criticism. Oh, sure, I can make the occasional snarky comment along the lines of "Ben Affleck's performance in this movie made me long for the relative pleasure of an unanesthetized vasectomy." But that's not criticism, that's just truth.

The new album from The Shins came out this week and I enjoyed the living hell out of it from the first time I listened, which is unusual for me, because I normally have to hear an album a number of times before it really grabs me. But I couldn't tell you precisely why I like it. I can't just whip out a sentence along the lines of, "With Wincing the Night Away, front man James Mercer has taken the playful wordplay of Chutes Too Narrow and fused it with a more mature melodic sensibility." I can't whip that sentence out because I have no fucking idea what the hell I just wrote.

I mean, I'm not a caveman, but I don't know enough about art, movies, music or literature to parse out any kind of legitimate analysis. I've got friends who are music aficionados and can compare the harmonics of a Bright Eyes tune to early Dylan, but I wouldn't even know where to begin. Reading my half-assed odes to 80s pop tunes should be enough to convince anybody of that.

So I'm gonna make a few practice attempts right here.
  • The haunting contrapuntal melodies of the dirge-like songs in the second act of Grey Gardens throw the thin veneer of peppy optimism of the first act into sharp relief, highlighting the precipitous decline of these Williams-esque tragic figures.
  • While there are those who will be tempted to compare Taylor Hicks to the 19th century castrato Lucieno DiOrtaglio, I find such analogies specious, as DiOrtaglio's singing had much more masculine swagger.
  • In her new show, Daisy Craddock doesn't so much hold up a mirror to our society as she tears down the mirror that existed and replaces it with vastly different mirror that still has the price tag on it.
  • The fawn-like grace of Jennifer Garner transcends this genre film and carries it gently aloft, like a strong breeze buoying a Dunkin Donuts wrapper.
See, I just don't have it. So I guess I'm going to have to preface all of my reviews on 5C with a disclaimer stating that the writer freely admits that he doesn't have a fucking clue what he's talking about and the reader would probably be well-served doing the exact opposite of the reviewer's recommendation. And thus will I make the art world a better place.

Dude, it ain't the New Yorker, all right? Your first review is fine, and humorous to boot...
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