A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for February 2019

[MUSIC] Pet Shop Boys, “Single-Bilingual”

Back in June of 2017, I had selected the Pet Shop Boys’ 1996 song “Single-Bilingual” as my song of the week.

I had noted at the time that this song was not as big a hit as their iconic global singles of the 1980s. Perhaps it was because this song, like the rest of their album Bilingual, was a shift from their previous European-styled electronica, incorporating Latin rhythms. This is a shame, because this song and others are among the group’s slyest.

The songs of the Pet Shop Boys, like those of all great songwriters, can say many things. See “Single-Bilingual”. Listening to the peppy song, Neil Tennant singing in the voice of a self-styled cosmopolitan businessman who claims to be the master of his world, there is humour. As Wayne Studer points out, this man is not all he thinks he is. He’s just a cog in the machine.

They call this a community
I like to think of it as home
Arriving at the airport
I am going it alone
Ordering a boarding pass
Travelling in business class
This is the name of the game
I’m single, bilingual
Single, bilingual

I find myself wondering, too, if this song fits on the soundtrack for Brexit. From a pretended cosmopolitanism down to an actual solitude?

The universal appeal of this song, I now think, lies in what I believe to be the near-universal fear of being exposed as an impostor. We might aspire to be cosmopolitan, but does our reach exceed our grasp? Are we like the character in this song, desperately chatting people up in the hope that we are the people we have always meant to be? We might be, we might not: At least we’ve something to listen to as we await the final revelation.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 28, 2019 at 11:45 pm

[MUSIC] Five music links: Peter Hook, Aimee Mann, Mongolian hip-hop, Bruno Capinan, John Lennon

  • Dangerous Minds notes that Peter Hook has put his vast personal collection of music-related memorabilia up on the market.
  • Dangerous Minds notes that the Aimee Mann song “No More Crying” was inspired by her relationship with Al Jourgensen of Ministry.
  • Ozy reports on the thriving Mongolian hip-hop scene.
  • NOW Toronto notes the importance of the music of Bruno Capinan at this fraught time for Brazil.
  • Folio reports on the possibility that the lyrics for the famous John Lennon song “Imagine” were inspired by a conversation with the Cree activist Lillian Piché Shirt about her grandmother.

[NEWS] Five culture links: Orthodox, children online, Panda Express, Eminem stans, Chris Claremont

  • What, exactly, happened with the establishment of Ukraine’s Orthodox church as co-equal to the other national orthodox churches united under the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople? Open Democracy explains.
  • This article in The Atlantic takes a look at how children, now growing up, are responding to the fact that so much of their lives has been put out on the Internet already.
  • I agree entirely with this article‘s argument about the authenticity of the Chinese-American cuisine served by Panda Express.
  • It’s a bit ironic that Eminem, of all people, stans for The Punisher. VICE reports.
  • Writing at The Conversation, Andrew Dewman makes an excellent argument as to the importance of Chris Claremont, not only as an author of the X-Men but as a shaper of our modern pop culture, more open (for instance) to women and minority heroes.

[URBAN NOTE] Five city links: Ottawa, Manhattan, Vancouver, New Orleans, Derry

  • CBC Ottawa reports on the impressive scope of the new light rail mass transit planned for the wider city of Ottawa.
  • Richard Florida, writing at CityLab, notes a study tracing the second of two clusters of skyscrapers in Manhattan, in Midtown, to a late 19th century specialty in shopping.
  • The Tyee notes how activist Yuly Chan helped mobilize people to protect Chinatown in Vancouver from gentrification.
  • JSTOR Daily looks at the history of the free people of colour of New Orleans, a group established under the French period but who faced increasing pressures following Americanization.
  • At Open Democracy, Christophe Solioz considers what is to be done to help protect the peace in Derry, second city of Northern Ireland, in the era of Brexit.

[URBAN NOTE] Nine Toronto links: TTC, Mount Duff, parks, Sully’s, Six Points, heritage, Port Lands

  • NOW Toronto shares a report from an anonymous TTC fare evader who argues for free transit for the poorer of Toronto.</LI.
  • blogTO notes that the famous wintertime snow pile of the Dufferin Mall parking lot, Mount Duff, is back!
  • I am very pleased to learn of the impending plans to make the Humber Bay Shores Park better than ever. blogTO reports.
  • Neighbourhood establishment, Sully’s Boxing Gym, is facing eviction from its Dupont Street home in the very near future. Will it figure out a new deal with its landlord? Will it survive to make it to a new location? blogTO reports.
  • Transit Toronto notes that the infamous Six Points intersection of Etobicoke is going to be involved in a transit schedule-confusing transformation for the foreseeable future.
  • A house in Wallace Emerson just sold for $C 1.4 million, after just two days on the market. Toronto Life reports.
  • This plan to replace the old University of Toronto planetarium with a new establishment, at 90 Queen’s Park Crescent, of a mixed-use centre is certainly visually appealing. blogTO <a href="https://www.blogto.com/real-estate-toronto/2019/02/90-queens-park-u-of-toronto/
  • Richard Longley writes at NOW Toronto about the need of the city to preserve its heritage in all of its richnesses.
  • John Lorinc writes at Spacing about the issues revealed in Toronto and Ontario politics by the Sidewalk Labs adventure in the Port Lands.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • Centauri Dreams considers the possibility of life not based on DNA as we know it.
  • D-Brief considers the possibility that the formation of stratocumulus clouds might be halted by climate change.
  • Karen Sternheimer writes at the Everyday Sociology Blog about the negative health effects of the stresses imposed by racists.
  • Far Outliers notes the mix of migrants in the population of Calcutta.
  • Hornet Stories notes that the Brazilian government is preparing to revoke marriage equality.
  • Erin Blakemore writes at JSTOR Daily about the gloriously messy complexity of Jane Eyre.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on the growing anti-government protests in Algeria.
  • The NYR Daily notes the response of Auden to an anthology’s no-platforming of the poems of Ezra Pound.
  • pollotenchegg reports on Soviet census data from 1990, mapping the great disparities between different parts of the Soviet Union.
  • Starts With A Bang notes the mysterious quiet of the black hole at the heart of the Whirlpool Galaxy, M51.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests that Russia is growing increasingly dependent on a more competent China.
  • Arnold Zwicky writes about some of his encounters, past and present, on Emerson Street in Palo Alto.

[PHOTO] Dupont and Ossington as snow falls, 6 o’clock

Dupont and Ossington as snow falls, 6 o'clock #toronto #winter #snow #intersection #dupontstreet #ossingtonave

Written by Randy McDonald

February 28, 2019 at 11:00 am

[NEWS] Five sci-fi links: The Wandering Earth, hard SF, Le Guin, Vonda N. McIntyre, globalization

  • Slate makes a case for the importance of the new Chinese science-fiction film The Wandering Earth. I think I, too, want to go see it in theatres.
  • James Nicoll highlights five often overlooked hard science-fiction novels. (I agree with him entirely about China Mountain Zhang, one of my favourites.)
  • Charlie Jane Anders writes at Tor about the complexity and brilliance of Ursula K Le Guin’s Hainish cycle of novels.
  • This news about Vonda N. McIntyre, most famous to me for her Star Trek novels and her Starfarer series, saddens me.
  • Ryan Porter writes at the Toronto Star about the growth of non-Western influences in contemporary science fiction and fantasy.

[NEWS] Five science links: ancient Earth, Mars, Messier 79, gravitational waves

  • James Nicoll at Tor writes about some of the bizarre multicellular life forms of the ancient past of Earth.
  • Universe Today looks at the evidence for ancient rivers flowing on the southern highlands of Mars.
  • Universe Today notes evidence for continuing volcanic activity on Mars.
  • Universe Today examines Messier 79, a globular cluster in our galaxy that may have come from outside.
  • Wired notes how improvements in gravitational wave astronomy technology will lead to amazing amounts of detail about our cosmic neighbourhood in the near future.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 27, 2019 at 7:45 pm

[URBAN NOTE] Five city links: GTA, Montréal, Portland, Berlin, Seoul

  • Sean Marshall at TVO notes the limited, if real, potential of a new ride-sharing app to bridge the transit gap between Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, and Hamilton in the west of the Golden Horseshoe.
  • CBC Montreal notes delays in the renovation of the Biodôme.
  • CityLab notes that in Portland, Maine, volunteering can help one get access to affordable housing, literally.
  • CityLab notes how the government of Berlin is set to intervene directly in the housing market to ensure affordability.
  • Guardian Cities looks at how Seoul is set to redevelop the districts once at the heart of the South Korean economic miracle.