Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Christmas

I wish everyone and anyone reading this blog a happy Christmas and holiday time, and only the best for 2008. May all your dreams and hopes come to fruition this coming year, and may God bless you.

I'll post again in a couple of weeks, and I'll let you know if I got that train I wanted!!

Friday, December 14, 2007

I'm Published (again)

For those who are keeping count, my review has been published in the most recent issue of the journal Popular Music (Vol. 27, No. 1, January 2008), pages 183-184. It's a review of Nick Stevenson's book on David Bowie.

I do have a previous publication: “The Berlin Wall: Bowie, U2 and the ‘Urban Real.’” Culture of Cities: ...Under Construction. P. Moore & M. Risk, eds. Oakville, ON: Mosaic Press, 2001. pp. 92-94.

Hopefully this is only the beginning.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Minimal Melodic Movement (a.k.a. Morrissey's singing)

I was listening to "We'll Let You Know" (on Your Arsenal by Morrissey), as this song is the object of analysis in a chapter of my doctoral dissertation, which I am in the process of revising (the chapter only, not the dissertation - I did graduate). Another song that came to mind is "Mr. Brightside" by The Killers, a song where the melodic line seems to prolong the "presence" on a single pitch (whatever that pitch is - I should really take the cloth off of this m-audio keyboard I have here and figure that out). Now, while I don't think it would be a good idea for me to start talking about Schenkerian analysis here, I wonder if I could use some of the language that such analyses use in order to clarify the "one pitch" argument in "We'll Let You Know" (F#, in case you were wondering). Perhaps fortunately, for my own sanity, I don't have my Schenker textbooks here in Montreal. I suppose I will have to take a quick look at my books in Ottawa in order to get into it again.

One of my past professors at the University of Ottawa was big into Schenkerian analysis and popular music. While I don't wish to enter into a proper Schenkerian analysis (one reason being that I don't fully "get" Schenker, although I've taken classes both in undergrad and in grad school, both with renowned Schenker scholars), I think that using Schenker will help me to purge certain pitches from the melody line, leaving the "static" line that I am arguing exists. My melodic line, though not an Urlinie (my apologies to Schenkerian scholars for misuse/spelling), has at least the spirit of an overarching formal structure, just one that is "static." Harmony, though, shouldn't fit into the analysis at this point, something which is extremely important in Schenkerian analysis.

Again, just using the blog as a venting point. It seems that it forces me to think about these things. If anyone has any ideas, please feel free to post a comment. If you haven't heard the songs, they're easy enough to find.

Long time

So my last post was last week? I wish I could say that I accomplished a lot since then, since I didn't have the "time" to post. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Nevertheless, I will give you a rundown of what is on my plate at the moment and any other news that is going on in my life.

I just received the His Dark Materials books by Philip Pullman. I will begin reading them after Christmas, as I am presently reading A Cry of Stone by Michael D. O'Brien. O'Brien's books are usually not my fare (often historical fiction - or at least this one is, sort of) but I find him to be a really great author. I was introduced to him in the mid-1990s and I have enjoyed him ever since. I have bought many of his recent books without reading the older ones, so I'm catching up now.

In other news:

I wrote an article for a national religious magazine that I hope might be considered for publication.

I have yet to hear about my Canadian music chapter on Feist. I should hear by the end of January 2008.

I have a review of a book about David Bowie being published in the January 2008 issue of Popular Music.

I continue to rewrite one of my dissertation chapters for possible publication. The editor continues to provide me with feedback.

I am reviewing another book for Popular Music, this one on rock performance.

Next week, I need to start to think seriously about papers for IASPM Canada and Canadian University Music Society conferences in the late Spring (in Saint Catharines and Vancouver respectively). There is also a conference in Liverpool in 2009 which I might attend. These papers would involve Roland Barthes' The Pleasure of the Text and Feist. I would like to take some of Barthes' thoughts and try to apply them to a musical analysis of one of Feist's songs. Perhaps a hit like "1234" or "I Feel It All" might be fun. The theoretical implications of taking a Barthes prose (a self-contained thought/section from his book) and using it as a base for musical analysis are daunting.

I watched "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" with my wife a few days ago. It is a nice movie, and I think it is well done. Not sure why the magic in that movie is somehow considered good while magic in Harry Potter is decried by some Christians as bad. I think Potter as a character has some serious flaws, and perhaps some questionable morals (for instance, he often lies). But there's a witch in Narnia too, plus all kinds of magic and so forth. Perhaps there are no "good" magicians in Narnia - only the evil characters use it. Not sure about that - I would have to read my books again. As for Tolkien, well, don't get me started.

That's all for now.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

New Max Headroom Ads from Channel 4



Here is the first of many new Max Headroom ads from Channel 4 in the UK, regarding the switch to digital television. Yes, that is in fact Matt Frewer as Max. I just watched an episode of the original show from 1987 this morning, and I don't think I appreciate this new direction. But it is nice to see Max back in some form or another. Official DVD release please!!

Pullman and Anti-Christianity

I'm sure most people have heard about the recent controversy over the film, The Golden Compass, based on the novels by Philip Pullman. If you haven't heard, many Christian organizations, including The Catholic League and Focus on the Family, have suggested that the film is anti-Christian. Some have called for a boycott of the film by Christians.

So, my question is, what kind of film isn't anti-Christian? I'm sure we can name some films that contain no conflict with the Christian ethos, but the vast majority of media in general goes against it. Much television contains what might be deemed as questionable morality, as well as killing, lying, etc.

What I'm trying to say is that these grand proclamations against a film like The Golden Compass mean nothing if there aren't similar proclamations (with a similar amount of publicity) against most other cultural products in Western society.

By the way, I would like to see the movie, and I look forward to reading the books. The visual style of the movie is intriguing - the created world is very interesting.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Control

I just finished watching Control, a movie by Anton Corbijn, about Ian Curtis and Joy Division. I was taken by this story since spending a train ride to Ottawa talking to a colleague about how Curtis is looked at as a tragic figure, whereas other popular music figures who have taken their own life might be seen as somehow heroic (Kurt Cobain is the most obvious example). Curtis was 23 when he was found dead. I'm not sure people are so comfortable even mentioning Curtis; his story seems to be so dark.



Above is the last photo taken by Deborah Curtis of Ian and their daughter Natalie, taken on 13 May 1980. He died on 18 May 1980. I encourage anyone interested to listen to some Joy Division. I can't guarantee that you will like it (I'm not sure I do), but it is something very interesting. Tragedy is all around, it seems.

(picture is from here).

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Trying to get rid of old "coursepacks"

I don't know about any of you, but I'm drowning in paper. Well, not really drowning, but we have a lot of it taking up space. So I've decided to take the course outlines that are at the front of these coursepacks from when my wife and I did our Master's (by the way, a coursepack is simply a collection of photocopies of articles and book chapters that are purchased in lieu of a textbook) and take that citation information and get rid of the rest. Any articles that I can find online I've downloaded so that I can keep some record in the off chance that I might need these articles without going to a library.

So I generally download pdfs of the articles and then link them to records using an open source document manager called bibdesk. It's supposed to be used with TeX editors, but I don't use TeX (I tried it but it's a bit confusing). Besides that, it's searchable and you can open the pdf file directly from that application.

Any other solutions?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Ooooooooh!!



Sure, I'll take one. I don't mind.

(if anyone would like to contribute to my iPod Touch purchasing fund, please let me know)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

News clip about Kevin Smith's film "Dogma"



This is old, but funny. Many fans of Kevin Smith films have heard the story recounting Smith joining the protestors in New Jersey, with the protestors completely oblivious to his presence. According to the story, Smith's sign says "Dogma is dogs**t" (read the slang word for excrement there).

When I met Smith in August of 1999, with my wife (then just my bestest friend), I asked him whether my girlfriend who is a practicing Catholic would be offending by the film. He responded that he felt the film was "pro-faith," and that she shouldn't be offended at all.

Neither of us were offended. It's a comedy film after all. I was more perturbed by the universalist rants within the film, as well as the recitation of the "recession of faith" after announcements. I can only assume that Smith meant "profession of faith," except that an early screenplay states "recession," so it seems this was deliberate.

There is a great article that I just stumbled upon about the theology of the movie here. And, if you haven't seen the movie, you should (note that it is rated as Restricted, and that there is quite a bit of swearing and crude joking in the film).

Monday, October 29, 2007

Back from Gatineau

Buy, these blog postings only get more exciting, don't they?

My wife and I had a nice time at the Association for the Study of Canada conference this past weekend. I had the pleasure of being on the same train with one of the professors that was on my defense committee. We had a great conversation, covering The Smiths, Joy Division (and the new movie directed by Anton Corbjin) and academia and the job market.

I heard a bunch of papers that were quite interesting; Feist's name was mentioned quite a few times. My supervisor was at my presentation and he felt that my paper was good. He mentioned that I was "onto something." I'm happy about that.

Now I have to focus on some rewriting of one of my chapters for possible publication (I AM a broken record!!).

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Off to Gatineau tomorrow

I'll be presenting at my first conference post-PhD on Sunday. The conference starts tomorrow in Gatineau (what the locals used to call "Hull," right across the river from Ottawa). So, early tomorrow, I'm off to Ottawa by train and then on to Hull for the first day of the conference of the Association for the Study of Canada, an association I haven't been associated with before (haha).

I'm presenting my paper on Feist's problematic Canadian-ness, although I've cut down a paper that was short of 30 pages down to 8 (I'm speaking for 15 minutes), so I'm not sure how great the paper will be. I suppose that it will be interesting to be among colleagues that I don't really know. Will Straw and Darin Barney, two of the professors who were on my doctoral defense committee (Will was my supervisor), are speaking tomorrow, so I'm looking forward to that.

Here's a picture of me, all happy-like, riding the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, once known as the WEDway Peoplemover, at the Magic Kindom at Walt Disney World. I look happy, no?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

We're back

After a nice trip, we're back at home and (almost) back into the swing of things. I'm preparing for a conference this coming weekend and I'm looking at a few more possible jobs. My wife and I were both impressed upon our visit to Celebration, Florida, a planned community established in the mid-1990s by the Disney Company (see picture below).



Look at those ducks crossing the street. If you were wondering, the building with the tower is a bank. There is a university in Celebration, but it is a satellite campus for business administration only (Stetson University - main campus in DeLand, north of Orlando).

We also toyed with the idea of becoming Disney Cast Members (workers at the Walt Disney Company), something we might actually consider doing if nothing works out. We haven't really looked into it seriously, so right now it's just something in the back of our minds.

Anyway, happy to be back home, but not happy to be back facing our real world difficulties.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Really soon now!!

The mail came...

No letter or documents. So, I've emailed my letter writer with instructions about sending a letter straight to the funding agency, and I've called the travel agent about the documents.

I've gone to the post office and I've put the application for funding into the mail.

Upon my return, there were the travel documents in my mailbox.

SO WE HAVE THE DOCUMENTS (which weren't as important as I thought, but at least we have them). And the person writing my reference letter will hopefully come through for me in a pinch.

Wow. This has been a stressfull few days. Now maybe my wife and I can have a well deserved rest.

Oh, and we also got the Studio 60 DVDs in the mail, but the postman misdelivered it to the people upstairs. No reference letter there though.

Today's the day

As per the ticker, 19 hours, 54 minutes, 47 seconds and counting until we board on a plane headed for sunny (with a few clouds in the coming days) Florida.

No mail yet, but it's only 10am. I just hope that, with the rain here, the postman doesn't decide to take the day off. That would not be good.

I'll make sure to update after the mail comes.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Signed!!


I am the proud owner of an Alliance bill used in the movie "Serenity," signed by Mal (Nathan Fillion) himself!

Shiny!!

Ugh

Things are terrible here right now. We're off on a nice vacation in 2 days (actually, 1 day, 16 hours, 48 minutes), but we have yet to receive our travel documents from our travel agent. They were mailed by "Global Priority Mail" last Tuesday. Our travel agent said they would arrive in the next 6 business days. So, discounting Monday, today is DAY 6. Where the heck is that envelope?

Reasons to make all arrangements yourself.

Also, I'm almost ready to submit my postdoctoral fellowship application for the Quebec funding body, but I'm waiting for one last reference letter, which was apparently mailed from Ottawa last week. Four business days is the standard, so if the letter was mailed on Friday, tomorrow is DAY 4.

So, I suppose I need to expect both packages tomorrow. For my own information, the mail came in today at around 1pm.

Plus, I'm not feeling good. If I was stressed during my doctoral defense, or during the summer with the employment waiting game, this week tops them all.

Why should I have to be stressed before a vacation?!

Now, to those who say, "Why be stressed about something you can't control?", I say, WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON??!!

If things are not going smoothly, I'm not going to just be calm and say, "Well, I have no control over it so I'm fine."

That's just not the case. It is not a "fine" situation.

Thankfully, we're going on vacation (and hopefully, if we don't get those documents, the people at Orlando accept our reservation number).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Friday, September 28, 2007

Shredded

Bit of a crazy time last night, due mainly to my stupidity.

Actually, due totally to my stupidity. Remember that I mentioned that I was planning on reinstalling the system software for my computer (see yesterday's post if you don't know what I'm talking about). I came back from sending my SSHRC application in the mail and dropping something off at McGill, and checked a few things and went about reinstalling the OS on my computer.

After all of that was done, I thought I would restore what I had backed up. So I copied my music over from the external hard drive where the data was. I then moved the pictures over. Then I moved my most important stuff over - my documents.

Or, actually I didn't move them over. Because I hadn't backed them up. No backup of my program of work (a.k.a. proposal) for FQRSC applications, no paper for Association for Canadian Studies conference at the end of October, no paper on Feist for possible publication, no recently completed and Ph.D.-earning dissertation.

Now, my dear readers, before yelling at me for being stupid or irresponsible (both of which I felt), I did have a backup somewhere - online, and ... um ... 38 days old.

And I had a paper backup of the most important stuff, that is, the program of work. But that was in the recycle bin. Shredded.

So my wife and I spent a while putting strips of paper back together with scotch tape. It's probably one of the first times that I was happy to have a cheap and ineffective strip shredder rather than a cross-cut shredder. If I was more worried about identity theft and privacy, I would not have been able to reconstruct this stuff from the confetti.

Anyway, as of now, I've found some other older documents that I lost, but I'm not sure if I have everything. I'm disappointed because (as my wife reminded me last night) I should know better. I lost a nice calendar for our trip to Disney that she worked hard trying to put together, and for that I am very sorry.

So I'm working on getting a proper backup system up and running. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know. The new mac OS that comes out next month will have automatic backups as part of the operating system. I WILL be using that.

I thank God - it could have been worse. And, I suppose, I thank God for the prosperity and provision that we have to be able to experience trouble like losing computer files that are products of higher education, instead of trying to find something to eat and safety for ourselves and our family.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The SSHRC application goes in today

So my first postdoctoral application for this year will be mailed out today by Canada Post Expresspost, and should arrive in Ottawa tomorrow. I hope this is the one. As for other exciting events in my life, there are none. I'm rushing to get a bunch of applications out before we leave the country for our little vacation south of the border.

There is a new Douglas Coupland book that I'm looking forward to. I've ordered a "deluxe" version on Amazon - not sure when I'll receive it.

A couple of days ago, I received a second collection of Firefly/Serenity essays called Serenity Found: More Unauthorized Essays from Joss Whedon's Firefly Universe. I have yet to take a serious look at it. I enjoyed the earlier collection (called Finding Serenity) and I suspect I will enjoy this collection as well. There is nothing like a sci-fi western television series (and movie) with asian elements to bring out intelligent analysis and writing. I'm serious.

It's raining today. I can't think of any more mundane things to say.

I mentioned to a friend yesterday that I should post scans of various political autographs that I have (all from the Canadian Liberal Party - as if I'm really overly political!). Maybe I'll do that. It's almost like a gallery of shame in the present context of Canadian politics.

Lots to do today, so I'm off to the post office.

P.S. I might have to reinstall the system software on my iMac. I installed Logic Studio yesterday (the new Apple Pro Audio Suite) and I deleted it because it looks very complicated (in other words, powerful, but I don't have the time to learn the ins and outs now). I might have made a bit of a mess with files in my system.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Guess who I met yesterday?

Yesterday, I was at McGill to pick up a reference letter for my post-doc applications. In one of the green spaces, there was a Young Liberals event with Justin Trudeau. There were a small number of people there, and I thought I would listen in. I then went in and picked up my letter, and returned to the event where even less people were now gathered (I suppose it was drawing to a close). Justin was talking to a few of the people standing around, answering questions and letting girls take his picture (no joke - they were all starry-eyed). Anyway, I'm a sucker for this kind of thing, so I asked for his autograph.



When I told my mother about this chance meeting, her response was, "He's a good looking boy." My further comment to her was that he certainly has the complete package: good looks; obvious intellect; a mastery of the official languages; and a pedigree of being the son of Canada's most prolific prime minister.

I was glad to meet him, and to hear him speak in such an intimate venue - on a lawn with a group of 20 of us or so.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Wanting a new desk

I wonder if the desire for a new desk stems from the fact that I bought a new computer, or that I think a new desk will make me work. It's funny that buying things makes one think that perhaps productivity will ensue. It's partially true, though. A new purchase seems to make the potential of work much more promising. And I think that I approach the computer in a different way than I did before. In one way, the new computer is a real workhorse, a prosumer machine for a person who likes to experiment with video work and would love to learn music production on a computer. I've read in multiple places problems with this computer's screen, and, although I recognize those symptoms in my computer, I don't feel justified in returning the product (unless, of course, the company recalls them). So, will this computer make me work harder? Not sure, but there's certainly a potential for it.

In some very recent discussions with someone very close to me, it came up that there is a possibility (though remote) that I might not be working in September of 2008. If that were to be the case, I suppose that a career change would have to be a distinct possibility. While I need not worry about such things right now, I worry if I will be needing to worry about them in the future.

This internet connection keeps going down on me (wrong choice of words, I know). I will have to correct this, I think. I've been waiting until I purchased a new computer to get a new wireless router, but I was hoping it could wait a bit. I suppose not. Now I have to cycle the power on the thing just to be able to post this message.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

You know you've made it when ...

video

You know you're in the big leagues when a company like Apple uses your song and video in an iPod commercial, especially when the company is marketing its brand new iPod Nano (see the video above). Feist must be feeling that right about now. She's featured in the new iPod advertisement! If I say so myself, I think the marketing folks at Apple have made a fine choice (not sure about the colours, but I think I thought the same of the old ones, so we'll see).

We're back from a nice time in Hamilton to a new couch, a bit of a rearrangement of working and living areas in our apartment, and a trip to WDW in October. Might as well.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Back to the same old ...

I can't believe that I'm writing another fellowship application. It's as if the process is unending; I'm writing another proposal for postdoctoral work for September 2008, a full year from now. In some ways, it's still exciting, to think that I might be able to explore how one discusses the singing voice, what it communicates, and why one might choose to listen to a voice in popular music. In other ways, writing these proposals is very discouraging. Although I understand that the grant application continues when employed, the lack of success makes me sad.

Nevertheless, I'm writing my proposal from (almost) scratch, trying to make it a bit simpler, and fixing some of the problems that the FQRSC committee identified. I should have something properly written before going away next week to see my wife's family.

By the way, for all you Brown Coats who might not know, the new Serenity Collector's Edition DVD comes out today. If you know not of that of which I speak, go out to your local DVD retailer and pick up a copy (in Canada, I can pick it up today for $20 minus a penny, plus applicable taxes). Shiny!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

100th post!!

Congratulations to me for making it to 100 posts. I started this blog on 25 September 2004, so it'll be 3 years in a month and a half or so (and maybe 101 posts at the rate I'm going).

My Canadian music paper is due tomorrow and will be done. I'm just finishing multiple proof reading and some tightening up of the text. It's not a bad paper (maybe it's a few pages short, but I don't need to ramble on - I'm sure there will be other papers that will be longer).

We're looking to go on vacation in October, if no jobs present themselves for me (which, right now, seems to be the case). It might be Disney, but we'll see. More updates soon.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

"I'm sorry, two words I always think..."

Again I've been ignoring posts to this blog, and I apologize. I've been working on the paper I've mentioned many times on Feist and Canadian-ness, and that's due in a week and a half. I also wrote up a review of a book by Nick Stevenson on David Bowie, and that also has to go out very soon. So, I've been keeping busy (or trying to, anyway). Plus, I've been checking out some minor health things - I hadn't been feeing well, and I'm in the midst of checking that, although I'm feeling fine now.

That's a bit of an update. I'll try to post more interesting things more often.

Another thing. Check out this google ad that showed up on this very blog. Not sure what that's all about, but it made me chuckle.



That's not really the Feist news I was looking for (by the way, if you are tempted, don't click the ad here as the above is only a lowly screenshot).

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Merlin Mann at Google

I haven't watched this, but it's Merlin Mann, a "productivity expert" who is involved with the TWiT netcast network, talking about taking care of email.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I'm Still Alive...

In case there are those that check my blog often, please forgive me for not posting lately. I've actually been trying to do work, and I've been neglecting this blog. Anyway, nothing so exciting over here. I'm about two thirds through my paper on Feist and "problematised Canadian-ness." If I continue to work hard on this thing, I might be done by Friday. Of course, I need to work hard for the next 2 days, which can be difficult for me to do. It seems that my brain can be shut down by my low intellectual self-esteem.

Here's a picture of my niece that should make everyone cry with an overdose of cuteness.



(it seems that the picture won't load upright, so you have to tilt your head to get the full cuteness - sorry)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Feist and Canadianness

I'm just thinking about a few things for the paper on Feist that I'm presently writing. It deals with her label as a Canadian musician, and how her position problematizes such a categorization. Part of what I want to discuss has to do with Feist's "maturity" (if that's a good word) and with her "jhai" style (if that can still be applied to her singing). This "maturity" is brought about by her damaging her voice, and is accompanied by a perceived authenticity (I've talked about this before ad nauseum). So, this "maturity" might align her to certain Eurpoean (and specifically French) styles of singing. It's another possible link to her being a chanteuse (did I spell that right? is that even a french word?).

There is another angle that I would like to take, but I'm not sure how to go about it. Feist presents herself as a singer that is opposed to a certain national image of singers. There are women who are known for their voices, usually in terms of loud and flashy singing, like Céline Dion and even Alanis Morrisette (loud, brash), Avril Lavigne, Nelly Furtado (although she seems overshadowed by her producer, not unlike Shania Twain). Feist, on the other hand, has a soft voice, almost a whisper (and she is not overshadowed by her producers, as she is one of the team that produces her music). Furthermore, her happy-go-lucky style might not fit in with "Canadian" musics like Barenaked Ladies or Tragically Hip, where certain hardships of Canadian life are expressed with humour (less so with the Hip, but certainly the case with BNL). In my mind, Canadian music does not evoke weakness, but rather strength in the face of adversity, a "grin-and-bear-it" kind of attitude. Feist turns this on its head by singing:

I'm sorry, two words
I always think after you're gone
When I realize I was acting all wrong
So selfish, two words that could describe
Old actions of mine when patience is in short supply

Of course, this is in the context of a love song, and it probably isn't a unique case in Canadian music, where a narrator in a song apologizes for something. But the fact that these are the first words on a much-anticipated recording make them that much more powerful. Feist is sorry, soft, weak, damaged.

These are preliminary thoughts, so I might be wrong on them all. Any comments you might have are welcome.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Not much to say...

Boy, it's hot here in Montreal.

For those who might be interested, Morrissey will be on the Late Show with David Letterman on Friday, June 29. Set those VCRs!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The abstract for the article (for those interested)

Leslie Feist is a Canadian songstress, consistently referred to with her nation of origin as a prominent identifier. This “Canadian-ness,” though, is put into question through a number of complexities arising from her artistic output as well as the cultural context in which he finds herself placed.

Feist finds her “Canadian” status problematised in a number of ways. Her inclusion into the milieu of French chanson places into question her inherent “Canadian-ness.” Feist moved to France in 2003, and though she has been featured singing in the French language, she claims that she does not speak it. In late 2004, Feist was asked to sing with the famous French singer Juliette Gréco, performing a new rendition of Gréco’s famous song, “La Javanaise,” written by Serge Gainsbourg. Feist exclaims that the live televised performance was “kind of like the old guard passing the torch to the new guard.”1 Thus, Feist suggests that she is in fact part of the cultural milieu of French chanson, a peculiar position to be in considering her uncertainty in the French language, as well as her Canadian nationality.

Another way that the “Canadian” identity of Feist is problematised is through her covering of songs like “When I was a Young Girl,” a cover of Texas Gladden’s “One Morning in May,” recorded by Alan Lomax, the compiler of the Smithsonian Folkways recordings, Anthology of American Folk Music. In doing so, Feist evokes what Richard Middleton would call “other voices”: “the singer’s . . . and that of an imaginary object which [s]he strives to imitate . . . [and] that of the object itself.” (Richard Middleton, “O Brother, Let’s Go Down Home: Loss, Nostalgia and the Blues,” Popular Music 26:1 (2007), 49) To use Middleton’s phraseology, then, in Feist’s performance of “When I was a Young Girl,” the listener experiences “desire, and lack, coursing through the gaps between the voice we acturally hear,” that is, Feist’s voice, “the voice [Feist] wants us to imagine,” perhaps that of Texas Gladden or the folk singers from Lomax’s recordings, “and the voice blotted out but which we know is there, somewhere, could we but find it,” the voice of the culture and time from which the song comes. (Ibid.)

Finally, Feist is a figure placed within a context of successful Canadian female singers, most of whom required recognition from outside of the country for their success. Feist as a commercially successful singer seems to conform to this type of Canadian, female, white, solo performer, such as Avril Lavigne, Alanis Morrisette, Shania Twain and Céline Dion. Like many of these singer, Feist left Canada in order to attain success, while maintaining precarious ties to the Canadian independent music scene by remaining a member of the band Broken Social Scene, a move which enables her to maintain a kind of credibility or “authenticity” while experiencing commercial success.

While other Canadian performers might display some or many of these complexities which in turn problematise their national labels, the case of Leslie Feist is unique in that these complexities work together to create a rich star image, imbued with a sense of history and perceived authenticity.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Organizing articles, and a To-Do list

I just got a book in the mail: Finding Serenity: Anti-heroes, Lost Shepherds and Space Hookers in Joss Whedon's _Firefly_, (edited by Jane Espenson). It looks very interesting, and I like it since I am a Firefly/Serenity fan.

I would love to pick up a pair of these and I think that I am officially going to start saving up for them:



I'm working on that article on Feist for possible publication, and I have a somewhat short time to get it done. I'm putting together a to-do list. I need to:

1) research some context regarding Leslie Feist's life details
2) research more context regarding Feist's performance with Juliette Greco on Canal Plus in 2004 (I think)
3) Integrate some details from an article by Sarah Hill on the Welsh singing voice (in Radical Musicology)
4) research some articles surrounding Canadianness and popularity, including artists Alanis Morrisette, Shania Twain, and even Celine Dion.

So, if anyone has some information that might help, or articles that might be interesting, let me know. I'll try to post the abstract of this paper in a further post.

Friday, June 15, 2007

It's been a bit

I thought I would chime in after a week not showing my face here on my blog. I'm still working away on various things. I've recently begun looking again at writing a more substantial chapter on Feist and her particular placement within Canadian popular music. I've been asked to develop a proposal I submitted previously for possible publication, so that's on the horizon.

The fan on this mac mini is SO spinning. I guess it's because I'm blogging, downloading something, converting 2 videos and listening to John Legend, all at the same time. Talk about power computing, all on a lowly G4 mini.

I think I might put the major post-dissertation revisions of chapter 3 (my chapter on music video) on a bit of a back-burner (as if these revisions weren't there already). I think I would thrive in an environment with a little bit of a structure. I'm lazy, and a structured environment would help me to get to work. So, if anyone has an academic "structured environment" that pays, feel free to contact me (preferably at a university in the area of communications, popular music studies, or musicology).

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I need to write this somewhere, so why not here?

I was reading about something called "Structured Procrastination," where you put off doing something important, but you do something else instead. Eventually something will come along that will be more important than that thing that you didn't want to do, so you will put off doing that really important thing and then do what you originally put off. I'm not sure I buy that, since I'm really good at just putting everything off.

Anyway, here's what I need to write, so why not get it on here. If anyone has any comments whatsoever, please feel free to add them. Back to my doctoral dissertation material:

It is true that the underlying issues that are made clear through Morrissey's presentation of his star image--his ambiguity in terms of gender presentation, his performance of masculinity, his expression of an enigmatic persona (in other words, his music, lyrics, media presentation and so forth)--are caused by a hegemonic value system, which prompts those in charge of said hegemonic system to classify Morrissey as problematic or enigmatic, and thus oblige Morrissey to present himself according to these norms (what I think might be considered a "meta-identity").

That was a long sentence, but it gets to one of the ways that I can rethink some of my doctoral work to perhaps make it more attractive and, in fact, more effective. Now I need to flesh out what I mean with this and perhaps try to taylor some of my chapters with this in mind. It shifts the focus away from Morrissey and onto what makes Morrissey what he is. Instead of presenting Morrissey as an enigmatic genius (although I think he is this, to a point), it makes Morrissey into a more "passive" figure (no pun intended - but I don't want to use passive/active in any gender sense here) affected by the "norms" of society, or the hegemonic forces elsewhere.

Congratulations to the Anaheim Ducks



It's too bad about Ottawa's breakdown, but that's hockey. Last night's game was a sad way to end the season. I used to own a piece of this team (with my one share of Disney stock). In the past, I would have shared in the victory, but not now.

Congratulations to all Ducks fans out there.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Quick and simple review of the Feist concert.

In my opinion, Feist is the most compelling performer on the planet.

Friday, June 01, 2007

We're off to see Feist!

Tonight's the night that we see Leslie Feist in concert. I'm looking forward to it, although I'm not sure what to expect, with the concert being sold out and all. I'm not in the mood right now for a rowdy crowd (or to fight for a spot, either). It should be a highlight though. I'll try to come back with a review as soon as possible.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Really done now.

NOS GUBERNATORES RECTOR SOCII UNIVERSITATIS MCGILL AD MONTEM REGIUM IN CANADA SITAE OMNIBUS AD QUOS HAE LITTERAE PERVENERINT SALUTEM. NOS UNIVERSITATIS GUBERNATORES RECTRIX SOCII TESTAMUR NOS
NICHOLAS PASQUALE GRECO
CUM CURRICULUM STUDIORUM PRAESCRIPTUM CUM INDUSTRIA CONFECERIT ET OMNES EXERCITATIONES QUAE EI SINT INIUNCTAE RITE PEREGERIT, CREAVISSE
DOCTOREM PHILOSOPHIAE
ATQUE EI OMNES HONORES IURA BENEFICIA QUAE AD ILLUM GRADUM PERTINEANT CONCESSISSE. QUOD AD CONFIRMANDUM HAS LITTERAS SIGILLO UNIVERSITATIS CONSIGNANDAS ET NOMINA EORUM QUI RES ACADEMICAS ADMINISTRANT SUBSCRIBENDA CURAVIMUS. DATAE DIE XXXI MENSIS MAII ANNI DOMINI MMVII


DECANUS, SCRIBA MAXIMA, RECTOR HONORARIUS, RECTRIX



WE, THE GOVERNORS AND THE RECTOR, MEMBERS OF MCGILL UNIVERSITY, LOCATED IN MOUNT ROYAL, CANADA, TO ALL WHOM THESE WORDS COME, GREETINGS. WE, THE GOVERNORS AND THE RECTOR TESTIFY THAT NICHOLAS PASQUALE GRECO, HAVING PASSED ALL EXAMS WHICH ARE AJOINED TO THE REQUIREMENTS IN THE CURRICULUM OF STUDIES PRESCRIBED, AND HAVING COMPLETED WITH APPLICATION, HAS BEEN MADE DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY. AS WELL, ALL HONOURS AND BENEFITS WHICH LEGALLY BELONG TO THAT DEGREE ARE CONCEDED TO HIM. AS PROOF OF THIS, THESE SIGNATURES AND THE SEAL OF THE UNIVERSITY AND THE NAMES OF THOSE WHO ADMINISTER THE ACADEMIC MATTERS HAVE BEEN AFFIXED, DATED ON THIS DAY 31ST OF MAY, IN THE YEAR OF THE LORD, 2007.


DEAN, REGISTRAR, HONORARY RECTOR, RECTOR



[translation of latin into english by Mario Bilich, my father-in-law]

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

About wasting time

Facebook is a real time-sucker, although I'm starting to get over it. Today I only spent a fraction of the time I did yesterday. I think it won't be so bad once the novelty wears off.

Today I need to set up a schedule for the next little while, in terms of what I would like to accomplish. What were my goals earlier in this blog for things to do this month? Publish in 4 places or something? Well, I sent in 2 applications for jobs, and I sent in 2 proposals for chapters in books, and 1 article to a journal for consideration. So I suppose that it wasn't that bad, then. Now on to the future.

I'm convocating on Thursday morning at 10am. It should be "fun." I'll finally get my piece of paper that says I have a doctorate.

That's all.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Facebook

I just joined, and I have the potential to hook up with a whole bunch of friends that I never thought I would again. I'm quite happy about this.

It's also a huge time waster.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Still plugging away

I sent in two more applications for one-year posts at a couple of Ontario universities, starting this September. If one of them comes through, it'll be a bit of a hectic time here, as we have now signed the lease on our apartment for the next year, until June 30th, 2008.

For those that might not know, here in Montreal, the leases generally start July 1 and end June 30 (that's for ALL tenants, around 60% of Montrealers). Landlords require a 3 month notice if you are leaving, but this is only before July 1. In other words, you need to tell the landlord that you are leaving by March 31, and your lease ends June 30. Unlike Ontario, where after the first year your lease converts to month-by-month, the leases here continue to be full years. So, for us, if I do in fact get a job for August or September, we are stuck in the lease, paying the monthly rent until the apartment is rented. And, since the leases all begin on July 1, the chances are lower that someone will be looking for a place in August or September, unless someone is newly moving to the city.

I've been working on some proposals for book chapters, one for a collection on Canadian popular music, and another for a book on The Smiths. I've sent one article off for consideration for publication. It'll need a bit of work before it's in publication shape, but hopefully a seed of worthiness is there, and the editor will see that.

I'm a big fan now of a band called The Long Winters, whose lead singer John Roderick is featured on Merlin Mann's excellent video podcast, The Merlin Show (you can watch the episodes straight from The Merlin Show page). If you're at all interested in communications technology as well as how independent rock musicians engage with it, this is a great podcast to watch. There are a lot of complex issues presented here, although everything is expressed in a non-academic and humourous way. There are a few swear words, though, so if you can't edit those out in your own head, take caution.

Friday, May 18, 2007

If anyone wants to buy me something...


I want this. Plus a pair of Polk speakers and a brand new iPod. Done.

(see http://impamp.com)

Off to Quebec CIty

Today we're off for a little mini-break, for some rest and some general "get-away-from-here-and-everything"-ness. It should be nice. Last night we celebrated A.'s birthday by going to a Mexican place in Old Montreal. It was nice, though a bit pricey, but I got to hear her speak spanish, which she doesn't do very often. So that was a nice treat for me. And I think she liked the food.

When we got back home, one of our electrical sockets was sparking. Not good, especially if you don't want to burn down the building you're living in.

So, last night, after some checking and looking around, we removed the fuse serving that room (which also serves the whole apartment but the kitchen). This morning, I wanted to check my email, so we plugged everything back in, and there has been no sparking this morning.

We'll remove the fuse for the weekend, and upon our return, we'll replace the electrical socket. Obviously it's time to invest in a fire extinguisher.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Another day

This weekend was nice. We were able to celebrate my sister's birthday, Mother's Day, my mother's birthday (a few days early) and my parents' anniversary (it was a golden time had by all). I was very glad to have a nice talk with a colleague of mine, who was actually my professor from years ago. It was nice to be colleagues and he was able to give me words of encouragement.

I sent off a proposal for an article in a book about popular music in Canada. I hope that I get a chance to publish something in that collection. It promises to be a very worthwhile collection. This week will be a week of getting a couple of applications out of the way, the last ones for this year. I'm still waiting on a few responses (it is hard at this point because it is pretty late for those jobs that start July 1 - I probably didn't get those positions, but I'd at least like to hear something).

My iPod has terrible battery life, and it's only 3 years old (only!). Who would have thought that I would not have bought myself a new one by now?

I DO HAVE SELF CONTROL!!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A quick quote from Richard Middleton...

In a recent article on the Blues (in Popular Music 26:1), Richard Middleton states:

"Records, far from destroying what we have lost, are better seen (like photographs) as producing this loss itself--or rather, as contributing to a momentous reconfiguration of the inter-relations of loss, memory and presence." (p. 56)

This is not necessarily new, but I like the way that he puts it. As part of my dissertation work, I discuss how loss, memory and presence, and desire, are inter-related in video and music presentations. So, Middleton and I agree. Who would have thought?

I AM SMART!!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Post-Boston report


My paper was extremely well-received, I think. The conference was quite interesting, with some excellent papers being presented. I was able to reconnect with a few friends, and I was happy to attach faces to a few names. My wife and I also went to Cambridge and visited Harvard and a couple of bookstores.

I'll be sending out a few articles for publication within the next few weeks, perhaps 2 to some prominent online journals, 1 to a print journal, and perhaps another work to a collection (although none of this is certain). Of course, I need to do a bit of editing and expanding to be able to do this.

I would also like to clean up this office of mine. It's really really messy and not a happy place.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

It's official

I didn't get it. Of 149, 29 received the grant (that's 20%). I was under the impression (mistakenly) that the success rate was closer to 50% for this postdoctoral fellowship competition. Now I wait until tomorrow to see if I was 1 of 116 that were recommended.

Just my luck I'll be one of the 33 that were not even recommended for funding at all.

We're off to Boston tomorrow for the conference. My work is all ready to go. Now all I have to do is pick out a shirt and tie for Friday afternoon and I'm set.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Not really a good day

While I'm getting ready to go to Boston to present a paper this coming weekend, I'm also waiting for results for a possible postdoctoral fellowship. While the official results aren't out until tomorrow, those who have received the funding for a postdoctoral fellowship have most probably already received a letter confirming the appointment of funds.

I haven't received anything, which probably means that I haven't received the fellowship.

This closes another door (considering the small number of doors to begin with, this is quite discouraging). As I mention above, the official list of winners doesn't get published until tomorrow, but it doesn't look good for me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

This is a "work" post, for the most part

This week has been not so exciting. I'm now having trouble wrapping up the paper that I've been yapping about for the last while, and this post will be a part of said paper, I think. This post will explore the source of the theory that runs through my current work, Barthes' The Pleasure of the Text.

The book has to do with how a reader produces meaning, and continues the assertion by Barthes that the "author" is "dead." That is, simply, intention of the author means nothing, and that the interpretation (or meaning) of the text takes place in absence of the author. [Note: I think this is right, but I might be wrong. I'm trying to recall what I was taught.]

So, as mentioned previously in this blog, the book is set up in short segments, with the subjects or themes of each segment arranged alphabetically, and basically randomly. Throughout this "random" structuration, Barthes does discuss the binary of plaisir (pleasure) and jouissance (bliss or ecstacy). These are not opposites, and is more open and fluid in its definition. The "pleasure" from the title of the book should be thought of as both the pleasure that a reader takes from reading a text, as well as the pleasure that is apparently inherent in the text itself.

Thos texts which do not overcome the "boundaries" of "traditional" literary norms are those texts which can be under the rubric of plaisir, while those texts which disrupt the expectations of what a text should do are texts, then, of ecstacy.

Of these texts, Barthes writes, "Texts of pleasure. Pleasure in pieces; language in pieces; culture in pieces. . . . nothing is reconstituted, nothing recuperated." (p. 51-52) Thus this kind of text upsets all expectations, therefore scattering one's subjectivity.

**********

This is difficult material. Can this kind of observation (or argument) concerning text be applied then to other artistic texts, such as music, or even to real-life situations, as I attempt to do? Perhaps because Barthes talks about real-life situations in the section I'm concerned with makes this okay.

Any comments are welcome.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Regarding the ads here

You might have noticed the ads at the top of the page, as well as the new ad for Firefox to the side. If your using a Windows-based computer, it is often recommended that you use Firefox instead of Internet Explorer, due to security concerns. Why not give it a try, at least?

As for my other work, I'm putting together the presentation for my paper, a 2.5 minute video of Feist, covering her 2 stylistic periods. My paper is where it has been since a while ago, languishing in "almost-finished-land." It really is almost finished.

That's all for now.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Back to work

No news regarding September and my life, but I'm expecting word literally any minute now. As for the most pressing thing, the paper in Boston, things are coming together but I'm still not done. Mainly, this is due to the number of questions that I have posed that I need to somehow address. Also, on a less difficult note (in terms of academics, but not less difficult in terms of technical know-how), I have to somehow set up a little audio-visual presentation, with a couple of songs from our favourite songstress in order to illustrate the stylistic change that she has undergone, and the "border" or "boundary" that she has crossed (and perhaps been forced to cross).

My wife and I were to head over to the local Apple Store, but it's too far to go by public transportation during the week. Thus, we have postponed our trek to a week from this weekend. I guess that's next weekend, not this weekend, in case anyone is keeping track.

Finally, I did in fact go to high school with Mocky. While I do remember him, as Dominic Salole, I'm not sure how close of friends we were. He was in a band as were some people I was friends with (not "best," but more than aquaintances). Another band member I became friends with in university, funnily enough. So maybe I should try to contact him. If I remember him, maybe he remembers me.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Happy Easter to all

I hope everyone reading this has a wonderful Easter weekend, and takes a moment to remember Christ's sacrifice and his resurrection.

I think I might have gone to high school with recent Feist collaborator Mocky. I'll confirm once I scour my old yearbooks. Here's Mocky and Feist, "Fighting Away The Tears":

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Questions being raised from Barthes

In The Pleasure of the Text, Barthes talks about how art is "compromised" due to the artists' efforts to destroy it. The destruction is inadequate, according to Barthes.

Question #1: Why does the artist do this?

Here's a statement (written by me, quoting Barthes) that needs major clarification:

"He concludes that 'there is a structural agreement between the contesting and the contested forms,' apart from a dialectic relationship between the art and its destruction for the production of a synthesis. Instead, there results the production of 'a third term, which is not, however, a synthesizing term but an eccentric, extraordinary term.'" (all Barthes quotes from p. 55)

Question #2: Does the inadequate destruction of the art always result in the production of an extraordinary term?

Question #3: So what are the effects of this extraordinary term? How does this affect the art and its consumption or expression?

Question #4: What if the artist inadvertently destroy their art, as might be the case with a figure like Feist?

Question #5: Is it possible to apply Barthes' thoughts about texts to other arts and their participants?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I'm smart! Yes I am!

I was telling A. yesterday that I sound really smart on my blog. She asked what I was posting about. So I told her that I was quoting from Wikipedia about Barthes and "writerly" texts and so on.

She said, "You're not smart if you quote from Wikipedia." And she laughed at me.

And you may wonder why I am often depressed.


Just kidding (still waiting for news from prospective post-secondary institutions, though).

Monday, April 02, 2007

Getting to know Barthes

Looking at the Wikipedia entry for Barthes, there is this description of The Pleasure of the Text:

"While Barthes had shared sympathies with Marxist thought in the past (or at least parallel criticisms), he felt that, despite its anti-ideological stance, Marxist theory was just as guilty of using violent language with assertive meanings, as was bourgeois literature. In this way they were both Doxa and both culturally assimilating. As a reaction to this he wrote The Pleasure of the Text (1975), a study that focused on a subject matter he felt was equally outside of the realm of both conservative society and militant leftist thinking: hedonism. By writing about a subject that was rejected by both social extremes of thought, Barthes felt he could avoid the dangers of the limiting language of the Doxa. The theory he developed out of this focus claimed that while reading for pleasure is a kind of social act, through which the reader exposes oneself to the ideas of the writer, the final cathartic climax of this pleasurable reading, which he termed the bliss in reading, is a point in which one becomes lost within the text. This loss of self within the text or immersion within the text, signifies a final impact of reading that is experienced outside of the social realm and free from the influence of culturally associative language and is thus neutral."

I certainly didn't catch "hedonism" in this book, but who am I to say (I didn't catch homosexuality in S/Z either, really). Wait, did I even read this whole book? Yes, I did (sorry, had to remind myself).

Wikipedia continues here, saying:

"The Pleasure of the Text is a short book published in 1973 by Roland Barthes. In the book, Barthes divides the effects of texts into two: pleasure and bliss.

The pleasure of the text corresponds to the readerly text, which does not challenge the reader's subject position.

The blissful text provides Jouissance (bliss, orgasm, explosion of codes) which allows the reader to break out of his/her subject position. This type of text corresponds to the 'writerly' text."

Finally, from my dissertation (p. 203), drawing from S/Z (p. 4):

"For Barthes, the 'classic text' is one which can be read but not written, as opposed to 'what can be written (rewritten) today'; he calls the 'classic text' a 'readerly text,' while the other is called a 'writerly text.' (p. 4)"

Maybe more on S/Z later on.

Friday, March 30, 2007

More Quicksilver musings...

I'm starting to use Quicksilver, although very slowly. I'm not sure if I understand fully how to use it, but right now I'm just launching applications with it. I don't really know how much quicker it is than pointing at things with a mouse, but anyway, I should give it a chance.

Speaking of computer mice, I bought a mouspad for my Apple Optical Mouse, and it's not really good. You might be wondering why I'm using a mousepad in this day and age, but I am. I guess because the Apple mouse is a bit big, there isn't enough room on the pad to move around right. Also (and more importantly), there is a wrist rest with this thing, and the rest is way too high. My poor wrist is already hurting.

I've seen that you are supposed to move a mouse with your arm rather than just your wrist, so the wrist rest isn't going to help me to learn how to properly move a mouse, and it'll probably put out my shoulder in the process.

BTW, you can get quicksilver from here.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Quicksilver

Does anyone out there use Quicksilver for the Macintosh? It's an app launcher, and does a whole slew of other things as well. I would love to learn how to use it but, considering all the other work that I have to do that I'm not doing, I really should get onto that work instead of pretending that I'm going to learn how to use Quicksilver.

I was reading about Barthes and The Pleasure of the Text and, instead of actually rereading the book (which I need to do), I discovered a bit about the way the book is put together: "Dependent on chance, this method [of sections arranged alphabetically, of which "Recuperation" is one] ensures that there is no “argument” which is pursued throughout the text: rather, each section or fragment muses on a problematic, an emotion, or a literary trope." (quote from here).

So that means that, for once, I can actually take something theoretical as it is, rather than considering a greater context, right? FINALLY!!


(or not?)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

This will be a boring post (just so you know)


Here's a picture of something that is interesting to me today (search for "polk" at Futureshop.ca and you will find the photo).

So I don't really know what to write today. I read my paper (as it is) to my wife this morning and received positive feedback. It's not done yet, but it's pretty full. As a presentation at a conference, it is certainly shaping up as "part of a larger work." I'll probably use that dreaded term at some point in this paper.

I need to do a bit more research on this paper, especially since it is (dreadedly) "part of a larger work." I need to think a bit more about that larger work.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A little break from Barthes and Feist


I've really been talking alot about "jhai" lately, haven't I? Well, as I have said, the paper is almost done, and I can see how it might become a much longer paper than just a presentation at a conference.

I decided to bind my dissertation through lulu.com, and I received the book yesterday. While the binding and printing job is very good, the book was damaged in shipping (through UPS - see the photo). I should have known not to buy a hard cover book - I haven't had good experiences even through Amazon with hard covers.

Oh, and I ended up returning that iPod shuffle I bought a few weeks ago. There was a strange hum!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Finally, a proper definition of "jhai"

Here is the definition of "jhai" from publicity during the promotion of Let It Die:

"a detached manner of singing especially suited to very emotional material. The emotion is underplayed, never quite lets go and leaves room for the listener to crawl inside."

What is interesting is that, of course, Feist is not the only singer who does this. Our friend Steven Patrick Morrissey also employs similar techniques of vocal delivery.

("Jhai" definition found at the link above - just click on the title of this blog entry)

Friday, March 23, 2007

"Jhai" and Feist's "recuperation"

The reason that one might argue that Feist presents a case of a "third term," as per Barthes, is that she exhibits a moment of destruction in her career, in the form of personal injury. During her time with the punk band Placebo in the 1990s, she began to bleed from her throat due to the high volume and frequency of forced singing during a tour. This forced her to embark on a full year of therapy and recuperation (no pun intended).

It can be argued that this destruction and recuperation resulted in Feist no longer worrying about singing well, that is, with precision. This is part of her notion of "jhai," a label that should not be given too much weight, but one which was apparently marketed in relation to her album "Let it Die." "Jhai" also carries with it a suggestion of relaxed singing, without much worry or stress. More about "jhai" later.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A quick quote from Roland Barthes...

"Art seems compromised, historically, socially. Whence the effort on the part of the artist himself to destroy it." (The Pleasure of the Text, 1975, p. 54)

Barthes continues,

"Unfortunately, this destruction is always inadequate; either it occurs outside the art, but thereby becomes impertinent, or else it consents to remain within the practice of the art, but quickly exposes itself to recuperation (the avant-garde is that restive language which is going to be recuperated)." (p. 54)

Finally, he states,

"what is not directly concerned with destruction, evades the paradigm, and seeks some other term: a third term, which is not, however, a synthesizing term but an eccentric extraordinary term." (p. 55)

Perhaps (and I say this guardedly, since I might not know what I'm talking about) this "third term" in the world of Feist manifests itself in her self-proclaimed singing style "jhai" (pronounced like the letter "J"). More about this later.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Feist paper is coming together

So, in case you didn't know (and as if you cared), a paper I'm writing on Feist is on its way. It's coming together, and almost done. I'm presenting this paper in Boston, and I'm looking at Feist's voice through the lens of Barthes' notion of "recuperation" from his book The Pleasure of the Text. This is hard material, and I need to simplify things for both my own good and the good of the paper.

That's something I need to do: simplify and clarify. If I've learned anything from writing a very long paper (or a couple now, actually), it's that it is hard to do so and keep things clear and NOT complicated. I have trouble with linking paragraphs, especially with the large amount of information that I'm presenting. Also, I've been told that I sometimes present theory with a tenuous link to the object of study to which the theory is being applied.

I'll be back with some quotes from Barthes, to see if you people out there agree or disagree with some of the things he says.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I really need to post more often

I should make it a new year's resolution. Oh, is it March already?

So much for my resolutions. I always make them but I rarely keep them.

Right now I'm looking through some of my comic books that I transported from my parents' house in Ottawa to here in Montreal. I'm trying to decide if I want to keep most of these things that I spent so much money on when I was younger. And most of the books are not worth selling. I have no treasures in my comic book collection.

I remember fondly my time in a theology program in a Pentecostal college while I was reading the Grant Morrison comic "The Invisibles," when I would read the current issue and then discuss it with one of the theology profs there.

I sometimes wish that I was still there. It was hard but fun. Of course, I'm happy to be at the stage of life that I'm at right now, but it's also more difficult now than then. It was a "simpler" time then. (Cliché, I know)

I'll stop my ramblings there. And I should try to post every day.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Final revisions to Final submission (Finally)

I'm just getting around to finishing the final final final revisions to my dissertation. Everything has been accepted now (the minor revisions requested by the defense committee are done and fine) and I'm going through the whole thing checking for last minute spelling mistakes or little grammar things (I've found a few tense problems). Plus I'm checking the page numbers and exporting the whole thing to .pdf to be able to publish a book using Lulu.com. Interestingly, McGill does not give the student a bound copy of the doctoral dissertation. So I'll do it myself.

It's really cold today.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Orange shuffle

I bought myself an orange iPod shuffle yesterday. Despite a few quirks with iTunes, I love it. It's small and beautiful.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

BNL last night

The Barenaked Ladies show was nice last night. We were sitting pretty high up, but when we arrived, we couldn't even get into the 300s. We asked the usher and he said that the higher levels were closed and he gave us tickets for the last rows of the reds. So I suppose they didn't get enough sales in the nosebleed sections to warrant them opening it. And I guess they had extra tickets where they put us. The seats were fine.

And the band was great. The sound in the Bell Centre wasn't so great, but it also wasn't too loud (unlike the Morrissey concert we saw in Toronto back in 2004 - I think my ears are still ringing). And an original band member, Andy Creegan, made an appearance, as did Kevin Hearn's dad. They do put on a great show.

As for Morrissey, he's announced a 40 date North American tour. Does this mean he'll visit us seal-clubbing Canadians? I hope so. There are no seals here. And I don't club.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Boy, am I sickly!

I'm sick again. A bad cold. I had one before the defense. Thankfully, the week of the defense, I was sick-free. But after defense, I was hit hard with a cold AGAIN. I mean, really!!

I'm getting a paper ready on our favourite friend Feist for the Boston IASPM conference at the end of April. I have most of that paper written already, although I haven't looked at it in a little while. I'm working on final final (really final) revisions now to my dissertation, which I should really just try to push through and finish up. But with this sickness and all (and Firefly episodes on DVD), I've been putting off.

In other news, I've been in contact with a school out west regarding a possible position - very preliminary. I didn't get a SSHRC grant for a postdoctoral fellowship. I'm waiting on FQRSC. My wife and I are going to see the Barenaked Ladies on Monday night (I'll post a review here), and I have yet to register myself a domain name (so that I can have a real-life website that's not hosted by Yahoo!).

That's all for now.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Done.

After a very difficult defense, it's official. Thanks to all for your thoughts and prayers.

"Please join Dr. Darin Barney, Chair of the Department of Art History and Communication Studies, in congratulating Dr. Nicholas Greco, and his thesis supervisor, Dr. William Straw, on the successful defense of Dr. Greco’s doctoral dissertation, entitled:


“…Only if you’re really interested”: celebrity, gender, desire and the world of Morrissey”


Well done, Nicholas!"

Friday, January 26, 2007

Just to make it official

Hot off the departmental email list:

Dear Graduate Students,

Nicholas Greco’s PhD oral defense will take place:

Date: Friday, February 2, 2007
Place: 853 Sherbrooke Street West
Arts Building , Room W220
Time: Pre-Defense: 14h00
Defense: 14h15

Title: “…Only if you’re really interested”: celebrity, gender, desire and the world of Morrissey

Your presence is welcomed.

Forgive my tardiness in posting...

I'm terribly sick - I have an aweful cold. I suppose this week is better than next (considering I have my doctoral defense next Friday). I'm working on my defense statement, a short presentation that I give at the start of the defense, and it's coming along. I'm not sure if it makes any sense, considering how cobweb-y (cobwebby?) my brain is.

So, I'm getting better, and I'm hoping to write a couple of pages today and finish up the presentation. God help me.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Dyson versus Miele


So we're thinking about getting a new vacuum, maybe not right away but sometime this year. From our research, we were all set to buy a somewhat expensive but effective Dyson DC 07 "All Floors." When we went to the local department store to check one out, the salesperson wanted to sell us an even more expensive Miele (not sure which model, but it was "mango red," a nice colour).

So which one is better? Or is there an even better alternative?

There are some interesting blogs and so forth out there that try to compare the two, but it's a bit like Microsoft versus Apple - people have views and hate the other guy.

So any comments are appreciated. And if some people click on the advertising links at the top of the page, then maybe I can make enough pennies to actually buy one of these vacuums!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Morrissey makes the front page at CNN.com

If you click on the title of this blog entry, you'll be whisked (sp?) off to cnn.com, where our beloved Moz is profiled by CNN as the one that might "cheer up Eurovision." It was nice to see the singer's face on the front page of CNN.com. It should be noted that Morrissey holds Eurovision in a special place in his heart. Early in his life, Morrissey fell in love with Italian singer Gigliola Cinquetti who, with her song Si, placed second at the 1974 Eurofestival. Morrissey seems to appreciate the somewhat kitschy and very uncool notion of the song contest. I write about Morrissey's relationship to song contests, and in particular Italian song contests from the 1970s, in the concluding remarks of my doctoral dissertation.

I did mention that my defense is on February 2nd?

Although I'm not a big fan of mobile phones, does anyone want to buy me a brand new Apple iPhone?



(photo courtesy of apple.com)

Monday, January 08, 2007

Defense date set...

For those waiting with baited breath, my doctoral defense date has been set. Mark Friday, February 2 on your calenders. I'll be defending at 2pm. So now my fate is sealed.

I've set up comment moderating on this blog, but I'm not used to it. So, if you comment but your comment doesn't show up right away, it's probably because I need to let it. So I'll try to do that (or I'll shut off message moderation altogether). EDIT: I've fixed this, so ignore this.

Does anyone out there have .mac? How is it?

Can anyone suggest a cheap domain registration company? Preferably Canadian?