Interesting ruination of Radiohead’s “Creep”

A few months ago, Open Culture posted a couple videos of Nirvana and Radiohead songs that have been modified by a digital tinkerer named Oleg Berg. I was particularly curious about the “Creep” one.

What interests the author of the article (Josh Jones) is that Berg has reversed the modes of these songs. The Nirvana tune used to be minor. Now it’s major. The Radiohead tune used to be major. Now it’s minor.

Fun fact: the whole band giggles whenever Jonny tries to roller-skate.

After Jones observes that the original minor key of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is “an essential vehicle” for its anxiety and rage, he notes that the Radiohead song does something a little more complicated.  Continue reading “Interesting ruination of Radiohead’s “Creep””

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Zionism contra feminism?

A rare political-ish post.

The topic is Zionism versus “intersectional” feminism (thanks Wonder Woman), and the way that hashes out in bizarre articles like this one.

A juicy summarizing quote: “It’s an open question about whether it’s possible to support Zionism while also proposing useful iterations of feminism and racial justice.” The author’s answer from the beginning is “nope,” by the way. No explanation required.


You can tell he’s smart because he points to books.

I grok the idea of opposing injustice toward disenfranchised groups like Palestinians (because duh), and I get supporting a two-state solution (because duh). What I want to know is, apart from the social justice angle, what do people mean by their polemical use of the word “Zionist“? Are they referring to all-or-nothing single-state partisans? If that’s the case, then they’re simply conflating “Zionist” with “zealot” without taking present or historical reality into account. That comes across to me as a pale leftist imitation of Trump’s methods. Or is there something else going on that I’m missing?    Continue reading “Zionism contra feminism?”

Who’s Afraid of Worldbuilding?

Most of us can agree on certain vaguely defined elements of fiction like character, plot, setting, and style. Other storytelling aspects happily enter discussions with more or less neutral, conventional meanings, like theme, narrative viewpoint, scene structure, symbolism, and so forth. These categories exist to make meaningful communication possible. You want folks to understand you when you complain about how a confusing setting and nonspecific narrative POV soften a scene’s dramatic punch.

What about worldbuilding? Lincoln Michel over at Electric Lit believes the concept of worldbuilding in fiction is counterproductive.* Continue reading “Who’s Afraid of Worldbuilding?”

Lost Spirits and Whiskey Polemics

Lost Spirits, a small distillery based in California, recently made their first “reactor aged” whiskeys available for retail after sitting on a new aging technology for nearly two years. (Actually, they’ve been up to quite a bit, just not widely available whiskey.) Bryan Davis, the distiller and inventor of the rapid aging tech, seems to make many people uncomfortable, but not because he will upend his industry with six-day Pappy Van Winkle. At least, that shouldn’t be the reason. Davis has indicated that reproducing the experience of great old whiskey for a fraction of the price is not the goal with his new “Abomination” series of whiskies. Instead, skeptics of his take on rapid aging must either admit they’ve never before encountered anything quite like what Davis is offering, or else let the cracks show in their purported neutrality.

I love criticism: art, books, music, food, wine. It tests prior convictions, looks for compelling new interpretations, and is utterly serious about pleasure. But so far I keep coming down on the side of Bryan Davis against his critics, and I want to figure out why. It’s not as simple as liking or disliking his products and wanting others to agree.

So how is Lost Spirits actually shaking things up? I’ll take a close look at one critical reaction to get at the most common misunderstanding of their project, at least with the Abomination series. Then I’ll turn back to the whiskey.

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Instant whiskey-maker meets dastardly villainy! Zounds! Continue reading “Lost Spirits and Whiskey Polemics”