Weekend Reads (Nov 12): Mimi Parker (RIP), the Genius of “Weird Al,” Batman, Right-wing Harassment
Recommended weekend reading for November 12, 2022.
Every week, I compile a list of interesting and thought-provoking articles to offer you some enjoyable weekend reading material.
Longtime readers will know that one of my favorite bands of all time is Low, who helped pioneer what has come to be called “slowcore” with their glacially paced songs, haunting atmospherics, and gorgeous vocal harmonies. Sadly, Mimi Parker — who co-founded the band with her husband Alan Sparhawk — died this past weekend due to ovarian cancer. It hurts to know that her beautiful voice has been silenced, but I want to make sure that she’s never forgotten. Here’s a short list of songs that highlight what made her voice so special.
Parker’s voice could be world-weary, heart-breaking, and transcendent all at once, and brought so much beauty, grace, and light into the world. She was able to imbue even Low’s most experimental moments, like 2018’s Double Negative, with a warmth and intimacy that made the music all the more powerful. Put simply, her voice was a blessing. If you haven’t been fortunate enough to hear Mimi Parker sing, then these songs are just a very small sample of what awaits you.
Related: Treble has put together a list of “five songs that showcase Parker’s range in helping to shape the sound of Low’s music.”
Also related: Stevie Chick has written a lovely elegy for Parker that explores Low’s origins and the dynamic between Parker and husband Sparhawk: “As the child of an alcoholic, Parker noted that she and Sparhawk were ‘a perfect storm,’ but their love was strong enough that they were able to weather it. Indeed, whatever turbulence hit, their union endured, their chemistry a mutually sustaining thing.”
Also also related: Other musicians pay tribute to Parker, including Jeff Tweedy, Steve Albini, Robert Plant, and Slowdive. I was fortunate enough to see Low when they toured with Slowdive; here’s my review of that concert.
Also also also related: Parker was “indie rock’s guardian angel” according to Nina Corcoran: “Perhaps Parker’s overarching ability to comfort is best compared to the warm-blanket feeling of a best friend staying the night; they aren’t there to protect you, per se, but in their presence, everything feels right.”
This year’s Grammys will have a new award category: “Best Song For Social Change.”
Rather than a traditional GRAMMY Award, the Best Song For Social Change award is a Special Merit Award. This means the award will be determined by a Blue Ribbon Committee and ratified by the Recording Academy Board of Trustees.
Proposed by our Recording Academy members, the new Best Song For Social Change Special Merit Award now represents one of the highest honors a socially conscious song can receive. It also recognizes the songwriters creating message-driven music that responds to and addresses the social issues of our time head-on while inspiring positive global impact.
Now that “Weird Al” Yankovic’s acclaimed biopic is available for free on the Roku Channel, it’s time reassess the man’s career of hilarious musical satire.
When Yankovic first came on the scene in the early 1980s singing “My Bologna” and “Eat It,” he seemed destined to be a fleeting novelty. Instead, he defied all expectations and wound up with a 40-year career filled with stinging satires and clever original songs that unexpectedly still sound good — and still are funny — years after their release. Weird provides The A.V. Club the perfect opportunity to look back at that long, strange career and celebrate “Weird Al” songs that still endure.
I was in high school when “Smells Like Nirvana” was released, and it was a huge deal in my circle of friends. I didn’t have MTV, so a friend taped the video for me when it premiered; I’m surprised the VHS cassette didn’t melt given how many times we all watched it. And it’s still a classic in my book.
As for “White and Nerdy,” I can’t say enough good things about that song. Not only does Yankovic hit every nerdy cliché and then some, but his rap skills are as peerless as his skill with the accordion. And of course, having Key and Peele in the video doesn’t hurt, either.
Finally, if you want some pure, unadulterated joy in your life, then just watch Lin-Manuel Miranda react to “The Hamilton Polka.”
The biggest problem of Halo 4’s campaign, and the Reclaimer Saga overall, is that it too easily overindulges in the series’ already established mythology, or just stacks on new lore without doing a decent enough job of establishing why it’s different than what’s come before. Amidst the Chief-Cortana story, which features some of the series’ best writing for the characters, the Forerunner of it all begins to feel like it’s mired in too much terminology to be approachable to anyone not already waist-deep in expanded media. And it’s a shame to say this, because Halo 4 contains one of the series’ most interesting additions that’s come to define 343’s future games, and even the Halo TV series.
Halo 4 was definitely a mixed bag. The Chief and Cortana stuff got surprisingly emotional, and the game looked fantastic; 343 Industries pushed the Xbox 360 to its limits here, and made it sing. All of the mythos stuff definitely got convoluted, however, and it just didn’t have the same intensity (or fun) as fighting the Covenant and the Flood.
Also related: A very nerdy overview of the Halo franchise’s surprisingly elaborate and convoluted mythology.
Does it seem like it’s harder to understand what people are saying in today’s movies and TV series?
Mounting audio issues on Hollywood productions have been exacerbated in the streaming era and made worse by the endless variety of consumer audio products. Huge scores and explosive sound effects overpower dialogue, with mixers having their hands tied by streamer specs and artist demands. There is very little viewers can do to solve the problem except turn on the subtitles. And who can blame them?
Kevin Conroy, who provided the iconic voice of Batman in Batman: The Animated Series (aka, the best Batman adaptation) has died after battling cancer. He was 66 years old.
Conroy’s duality as the playboy Wayne persona and the tragic, tortured Batman endeared his voice as the definitive interpretation of the Dark Knight to audiences immediately, making him the Batman of generation after generation as he continued to voice the character in continuations like the movie Mask of the Phantasm as well as the successor series The New Adventures of Batman and Batman Beyond, as well as other DC animated shows like Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. Conroy’s vocal presence and his reach lead to him continuing to voice the Dark Knight in the decades since The Animated Series in multiple mediums, including video games like the Batman: Arkham trilogy, the Injustice fighting games, and many more, as well as several films in the DC animated universe. Conroy even went on to play a live-action version of Bruce Wayne in the CW DC TV show crossover event Crisis on Infinite Earths.
I have so many fond memories of watching Batman: The Animated Series, and Conroy was a huge part of that. Forget about Christian Bale, Ben Affleck, Michael Keaton, et al. Kevin Conroy’s voice is what I hear in my head whenever I think about the Caped Crusader.
Related: In this delightful clip from 2013’s I Know That Voice, a documentary about voice actors, Conroy tells a story about becoming Batman for a group of 9/11 rescue workers.
When it comes to world animation, most people think of Japan’s anime studios. But South Korea has a number of studios that are on the rise, such as Studio Mir.
Founded by Avatar: The Last Airbender animation director Jae-Myung Yoo, the team was promptly assembled to create the bulk of The Legend of Korra episodes before moving on to the wildly popular Voltron: Legendary Defender series. Their work has been an inspiration to many American animation creators who want to continue to push this anime-like aesthetic and appeal towards US audiences.
FWIW, I think Voltron: Legendary Defender is one of the best animated series of the last few years. I’ve always wanted to write more about it on Opus, what with its excellent animation and epic storyline. It’s a modern remake done right.
One woman explains what it’s like to be targeted by a right-wing harassment campaign.
Blackburn said that within hours she received notifications “in the hundreds,” along with dozens of private messages on multiple social media platforms. The messages, screenshots of which were provided to Matter News by Blackburn, attacked her weight, made false allegations that she had shared sexually explicit material with children, and harbored implied threats of violence. One message shared with Matter contained nothing more than a close-up photograph of a man pointing a gun at the camera.
“Libs of TikTok and that subset of people [who follow the account], they don’t see you as human anymore if you’ve done anything they consider deviant or outside the norm. If you’re a queer person or a sex worker, you lose all of your humanity, you lose all of your rights. And I was a good soft target for them.”
Another day, another cryptocurrency disaster. And as The Verge points out, it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better any time soon.
This year has looked like death by a thousand scandals for crypto. There was the Luna / Terra crash, which wiped out billions in value practically overnight. There was Axie Infinity, the once-hot NFT game that lost $625 million in a hack and has struggled to recover. Celsius collapsed. Three Arrows Capital collapsed. Remember when NFTs were cool and people thought their JPGs were worth millions?
Crypto has crashed before, and as ever, the HODLers are saying there’s upside left to come. But right now, the future for cryptocurrencies of all kinds looks pretty bleak.
Hopefully, all of these scandals and failures will help more people realize that crypto, as it currently stands, is far from the utopia that its proponents have claimed. For many people, the risk just isn’t worth it.
Related: One of the most prominent crypto investors was Tom Brady, who became the public face of the FTX crypto exchange. As FTX has fallen into disarray, though, the Miami Buccaneers quarterback stands to lose a significant portion of his personal fortune — and he’s not the only celebrity attached to FTX.
Also related: Molly White’s Web3 is Going Just Great continues to be the definitive source for crypto crash news, and a not-insignificant source of schadenfreude.
From the Blog
Elon Musk is now officially Twitter’s CEO but his acquisition of the company has not exactly been the smoothest (to put it mildly). But there might be one potential bright spot to this ongoing snafu:
Perhaps it will wake people up to the fact that we’ve ceded far too much control to Twitter and other social media platforms. At its best, Twitter is both entertaining and informative, its timeline awash in tweets that are by turns frivolous and fascinating, with delightfully stupid memes coexisting alongside thought-provoking threads and breaking news. But here’s the rub: we don’t actually need Twitter.
Remember: Social media platforms like Twitter need you in order to make money, and while they do make it easy to start posting and connecting, that all comes with a certain loss of control over your own voice, your own ideas, and your own community. Now’s the perfect time to start taking it all back.
Related: Casey Newton’s Platformer has continually provided excellent coverage of Twitter’s meltdown ever since Musk took over.
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