Weekend Reads: Low, Slowdive, Made-up Movies, Amazon, Deplatforming

Recommended weekend reading material for September 4, 2021.

Every week, I compile a list of interesting and thought-provoking articles to offer you some enjoyable weekend reading material.

Sam Sodomsky interviews Low’s Alan Sparhawk about their upcoming new album, Hey What., which pushes further into the broken, abstract sounds of 2018’s excellent Double Negative.

It’s an indulgent thing — the same endorphins you get when you’re 15 and you turn up your guitar. It just makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. A lot of that is BJ. He’s fascinated with the idea of the extreme possibilities of the digital world colliding with randomness: “As this comes in, what if this starts deteriorating?” That’s definitely the front edge of technology right now. It’s fast and it can do anything, so the interesting thing is to see it get so far out that it starts breaking itself. I want to hear it get kicked off its algorithm and scramble to try to find it again. Maybe it’s revenge — I want to see technology break as much as it has broken me.

Related: My review of Double Negative, one of Low’s best albums to date.

In honor of the label’s 25th anniversary, Bandcamp offers up some deep cuts from the Temporary Residence catalog.

Twenty-five years after its first release (a 1996 split between deVine’s The (Concord Anthology) Process and Louisville’s Nero), Temporary Residence still does things very well. Some commercial success has helped, especially from Texas band Explosions in the Sky, whose music became a household sound via the Friday Night Lights soundtrack. But scroll through the label’s discography and you’ll find many bands (Eluvium, Fridge, Maserati, MONO) with devoted audiences — and you’ll notice that their music has all been treated with the same seriousness and enthusiasm by deVine and his small staff, now based in Brooklyn.

Speaking of momentous anniversaries, Slowdive’s gorgeous debut album, Just for a Day, turned 30 this past week.

I still remember the first time I listened to that tape I had picked up from a used music store, the first time I heard the guitars flood out of my speakers like rays of sunshine after a rainstorm, the subtle moans of the cello, and the gorgeous harmony that existed between Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell. It was one of those rare moments that changed the way I looked at music forever.

Long time Opus readers will know that Slowdive is one of my favorite bands, and Just for a Day was the album that started it all for me.

This is fun little rabbit trail for when you have an hour (or two) to spare: Nestflix is “a wiki dressed up as a streaming platform” for your favorite fictional films and TV shows. Sample titles include Inspector Spacetime and Kickpuncher 2: Codename Punchkicker (from Community), Bounty Law (from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), MILF Island (from 30 Rock), and of course, Galaxy Quest (from Galaxy Quest).

Via Pixel Envy.

The recent billion-dollar merger of Funimation and Crunchyroll may not mean much to you if you’re not into anime, but it’s a clear sign that anime is more popular and profitable than ever.

[A]s international appetite for anime grew, mainstream behemoths like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon have entered the licensing fray, gobbling up exclusive titles like Beastars, Kakegurui, and Made in Abyss. Anime has ballooned into the third-most in-demand TV subgenre globally, according to data from Parrot Analytics. In fact, the firm estimates that otaku thirst could support 33 percent more anime titles — and already, 190-plus are released every year. Between 2001, when Dragon Ball premiered on Cartoon Network’s Toonami block, and 2019, the number of new anime series produced in Japan annually increased by over 50 percent. And it’s not just Japanese people producing anime anymore; Netflix has poured millions into the industry with the goal of internationalizing the genre with talent from across the globe.

Via NextDraft.

Even though it still feels weird to think about seeing a movie in a theater right now, especially with the Delta variant still going strong, I’m a sucker for a good seasonal movie preview — and those from The Playlist are the best. Suffice to say, I’m very much looking forward to seeing Dune and the others.

Disney’s The Rocketeer, directed by Joe Johnston, is a delightful action movie. I loved it as a kid, and when I watched it with my own kids, I was pleased to see just how well it still held up. So yes, I’m onboard for a new Rocketeer movie.

The film, entitled The Return of the Rocketeer, is being produced by David and Jessica Oyelowo through their Yoruba Saxon Productions banner. Edward Ricourt of Jessica Jones fame is on board to write the script, with David Oyelowo to possibly star. Per the media outlet, Ricourt’s script will focus on a retired Tuskegee airman who takes up the mantle of the Rocketeer.

Reggae and dub music pioneer Lee “Scratch” Perry died this week at the age of 85.

Thanks to his popularity in Jamaica and the U.K. — where his 1968 single “People Funny Boy,” a slam at Gibbs, became a Top Five hit — in 1973, Perry was able to build his own backyard studio in Kingston, which he named “the Black Ark.” Here, Perry’s artistic endeavors led him to push the limits of the recording studio’s relatively antiquated capabilities to create his “versions.” As the architect of the remixed sound, Perry would layer (or overdub) his own rhythms and riddims with repetitive vocal hooks lifted from other songs — providing the blueprint for sampling in other genres — along with deep, reverberating bass, errant sound effects and disembodied horn melodies, all stewed together.

Related: A list of ten essential Lee Perry songs.

In news that would surely make my kids quake in their boots, China is enforcing new limits on how much time kids can play video games.

Under the new mandates, companies are barred from offering their services to children outside a small window of time: Those under 18 can access online games only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and only between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., according to the report. Minors are also allowed to play during the same time on national holidays.

I’m no fan of massive, unnecessary government overreach, especially from totalitarian regimes notorious for human rights abuses. But my house is frequently filled with the sounds of fighting over the Xbox, so this isn’t the worst idea I’ve ever heard.

Although COVID vaccines are readily available and proven to be safe and effective, some people are nevertheless turning to horse de-wormer to battle the virus — and Amazon’s algorithms aren’t helping.

When you click through to one of those suggested search terms, Amazon simply lists many options for purchasing the drug meant to treat animals — without any further context about its dangers when ingested by humans. Although there are legitimate uses for ivermectin in humans, treating COVID-19 isn’t one of them. And though it should go without saying that taking the veterinary version is a very bad idea, that’s exactly what’s happening.

David French continues to be a voice of reason during these crazy times. In his latest Sunday newsletter, he addresses vaccine rejection amongst Evangelical Christians.

And let’s be honest and clear. The majority of Christians seeking religious exemptions are using religion as a mere pretext for their real concern — be it fear of the shot or the simple desire to do what they want. In speaking to my religious liberty lawyer friends, the vast majority of those requesting a religious exemption to the COVID vaccine don’t come from the tiny religious sects that historically reject conventional medicine. In fact, they don’t even object to all vaccines, just this vaccine. A sincere desire not to take a shot does not equate with a sincere expression of orthodox Christian faith.

From the Blog

A recent experience with my church’s Facebook page inspired some thoughts concerning the controversy surrounding “deplatforming.”

There’s a discourse about technology that needs to happen in this country, of which deplatforming is certainly a part. But the fixation on deplatforming, and the anger and vitriol that comes with it, adds nothing to the discourse, nor does it help us to become better consumers and stewards of increasingly pervasive technology. Instead, it fans the flames, and in the process, we grow more insular, tribal, and balkanized — and less capable of using technology in ways that bless and benefit the broader society.

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