Lil Nas X’s MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) has a lot of Christians shook.

With all the talk and memes about Lil Nas X, I thought I’d look up the video to see for myself. Until this blew up, I hadn’t heard of him because I’m stuck in my little musical bubble of 1980’s Synthpop and Electro Swing and I don’t tend to listen to commercial radio these days.

I had heard that the video for the song involved the Garden of Eden and the talking snake and Lil Nas X being stoned to death and then pole dancing his way to Hell where he gives Satan a lap dance before snapping his neck and taking his place on the throne. And, yeah, that’s pretty much what happens.

As for the song itself, I won’t claim to understand the meaning or intent behind it after just a couple of listens, but I liked it. Which is saying a lot considering it’s way out of my usual musical choices.

A lot of Conservative Christians are, of course, outraged. Not only by this video, but by his stunt of selling ‘Satan Shoes’ that he collaborated on with street wear company MSCHF. With only 666 pairs being made, the Nike Air Max 97s had all the usual Satanic iconography you would expect including a pentagram pendant, Luke 10:18, and a bubble in the heel that supposedly contained a drop of real human blood.

Nike was none too pleased about it themselves. They released a statement saying they had nothing to do with the production of these shoes and then hitting MSCHF with a cease-and-desist order almost immediately, but not fast enough to stop the $1,018 shoes from selling out. The video was actually released after the shoes and did nothing to sooth the furrowed brows of America’s righteous Christians.

Lil Nas X who is, if you couldn’t tell from the video, openly gay is unapologetic:

https://twitter.com/LilNasX/status/1375857638869585922

I’m not his target audience, but I can appreciate both this song and his trolling of Conservative Christians. I can especially appreciate the open letter to his younger self he published to Twitter after this all blew up.

Amen to that.

As for the video itself, I found this opinion piece by Heather White, author of Reforming Sodom: Protestants and the Rise of Gay Rights, helpful in understanding it.

But this about a lot more then gleeful provocation. Lil Nas X’s comments about his use of Christian imagery shows that his core aim is not to offend. His latest art is in fact deeply personal, depicting his own struggle with self-acceptance amid a claustrophobic and shaming religious culture. A gay son of the Black church, the real devil on Lil Nas X’s back is one familiar to many LGBTQ folks reared in conservative Christianity: being told that who you are is a sin.

Lil Nas X’s ‘Satan Shoes’ trolled some Christians. But ‘Montero’ is about more than that. – NBCNews.com


I’m white, straight, and male which puts me in the most privileged of positions in American society. The only the way I could be more privileged is if I were rich. I cannot begin to imagine the daily stress black Americans deal with just trying to get by and to add being gay on top of that can only make things so much worse. As an atheist, I am tickled by the trolling of Conservative Christians, but I also understand that this is about more than just pissing off the overly religious. I hope this goes a long way to not only helping Lil Nas X be more comfortable with who he is, but also inspires others who are experiencing the same forms of self-loathing to come to accept who they are as well. Bravo sir, well done indeed!

New study shows dubstep disrupts mosquito mating habits as well as annoying your parents.

A study on mosquito feeding and mating habits published in the journal Acta Tropica says that the bitey little bastards have a hard time eating and/or fucking when exposed to the song “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” by Skrillex. Apparently the low-frequency sounds common in dubstep not only drive your parents up the wall, but cause havoc with the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti.

For the experiment, researchers created a “music-on” and “music-off” environment in which they studied the Aedes aegypti and came to some conclusions.

Mosquitos in the music-on environment were less likely to feed on the provided host and were less likely to reproduce than mosquitos in the music-off environment. Researchers believe that these findings can be used to help develop more ways to control Aedes-carried diseases.

SCIENTIFIC STUDY FINDS “SCARY MONSTERS AND NICE SPRITES” BY SKRILLEX STOPS MOSQUITOS FROM HAVING SEX – EDM.com

I can’t begin to imagine why this would bother mosquitoes, your mom.

So the next time your parents try to tell you to turn that shit down, just explain how you’re protecting yourself from yellow fever mosquitos and ask them if they’d rather you got sick and died.

A little holiday music to start the season…

I’m not normally a huge fan of the more religious Christmas carols for obvious reasons, but I’ve always had a soft spot for We Three Kings and this here may be my favorite version of it to date:

I’m going to have to check out the rest of their Christmas album.

SEB Musical Interlude: Jonathan Coulton’s “First of May”

If you’ve not heard this before — I’m pretty sure I post this when I remember it — you may want to wear headphones or wait till you get home. It’s a tad NSFW:

And now another musical interlude.

Ladies and gentlemen, Luciano Rosso:

 

Korean tourist asks Italian street musicians if he can join them for a song.

Contrabass player Jun-Hyuk Choi from Korea was travelling in Florence, Italy when he happened upon some street musicians and politely asked if he could join them for a song. He kills it. Absolutely kills it. Particularly when you learn that he’s used to playing on a instrument with four strings and this one only had three.

The song is Autumn Leaves.

34 years later, I still don’t understand Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman”.

I was 14 years old when I first heard O Superman (For Massenet) by experimental musician Laurie Anderson. I don’t know if it qualifies so much as a song than as a spoken word piece with some musical bits to it. I remember being entranced by it and not being able to explain why. It’s eight and a half minutes long and the one constant is a “ha” that serves as the beat, in as much as it can be said to have a beat.

If you’ve never heard it, you can watch the video for it right here:

I had completely forgotten about it until this morning when it showed up on my Thomas Dolby radio station on Google Music. I was immediately taken back to those days in 1982 when I listened to it repeatedly trying to figure out what it was supposed to be about and understand why it had such a hold on me. Not just a hold, it affected me deeply. Particularly when it gets to the lyrics about mom.

Today, 34 years later, it was a jolt to hear it and realize that it still deeply affects me to listen to it. So much so that I had tears welling up as I sat here at my desk, which is really out of character for me. I love a good song as much as the next guy, but it’s rare that any music moves me to tears. I’m not a huge fan of the artist; I’ve never bought her albums and the copy of this song I had was taped off of a local radio station as we were wont to do back in the days before MP3s.

Reading the lyrics does little to help me understand it:

O Superman. O judge. O Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad.
O Superman. O judge. O Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad.
Hi. I’m not home right now. But if you want to leave a
message, just start talking at the sound of the tone.
Hello? This is your Mother. Are you there? Are you
coming home?
Hello? Is anybody home? Well, you don’t know me,
but I know you.
And I’ve got a message to give to you.
Here come the planes.
So you better get ready. Ready to go. You can come
as you are, but pay as you go. Pay as you go.

And I said: OK. Who is this really? And the voice said:
This is the hand, the hand that takes. This is the
hand, the hand that takes.
This is the hand, the hand that takes.
Here come the planes.
They’re American planes. Made in America.
Smoking or non-smoking?
And the voice said: Neither snow nor rain nor gloom
of night shall stay these couriers from the swift
completion of their appointed rounds.

‘Cause when love is gone, there’s always justice.
And when justice is gone, there’s always force.
And when force is gone, there’s always Mom. Hi Mom!

So hold me, Mom, in your long arms. So hold me,
Mom, in your long arms.
In your automatic arms. Your electronic arms.
In your arms.
So hold me, Mom, in your long arms.
Your petrochemical arms. Your military arms.
In your electronic arms.

A good chunk of the song is a phone conversation between someone who initially claims to be the mother of the person they’re calling, but then reveals that to be a lie. Then it gets surreal with statements like being the “hand that takes” and something about planes coming and so on.

When I was 14 I thought it was very deep and I was just too stupid to figure it out. I’m not sure I’ve gotten any smarter in the time since. Today we have the Internet and Wikipedia article on it offers up the following explanation:

As part of the larger work United States, the text addresses issues of technology and communication, quoting at various points answering machine messages and the slogan “Neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night shall stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”. That line is inscribed over the entrance of the James Farley Post Office in New York and is derived from a line in Herodotus’ Histories (8.98), referring to the ancient courier service of the Persian Empire. This line is also interpreted in the accompanying music video into American Sign Language by Anderson wearing white gloves, white sunglasses and a white coat.

The lines “‘Cause when love is gone, there’s always justice / And when justice is gone, there’s always force / And when force is gone, there’s always Mom” derive from the fourth sentence of Chapter 38 of the Tao Te Ching: “When Tao is lost, there is goodness. When goodness is lost, there is kindness. When kindness is lost, there is justice. When justice is lost, there is ritual. Now ritual is the husk of faith and loyalty, the beginning of confusion.”

All of this is in the context of an attack by American planes and arms. In an interview with the Australian magazine Bulletin in 2003, Anderson said that the song is connected to the Iran-Contra affair, but she meant the Iran hostage crisis which took place in 1979-1980. Anderson appeared as a guest co-host on WFMT Chicago to say the song is directly related to the crash of the military rescue helicopter outside Tehran — a disheartening incident where U.S. military technology essentially let down the government. This equipment or pilot failure, she continued, was her primary impetus for the creation of the song/performance piece. When it became an emerging hit in the U.K., she was as surprised as everyone else, and the need to press more singles to meet emerging U.K. demand was what led to her first multi-album record deal.

Um, OK. So it was inspired by the Iran-Contra affair, but I’ll be damned if I understand how you’re supposed to glean that from the lyrics. Nor does it explain why I am so affected by something I simply don’t understand. I love this song in spite of it. I’ve listened to it several times while writing this entry. I don’t know why.

I can’t say for certain whether my reaction today was because of the song itself or the feeling of being transported back to 1982 and being on the verge of adulthood. The year 2000 was less than 20 years away and I was going to experience “the future” first hand. My cynicism hadn’t fully developed and the future looked promising even if I didn’t have a clue what I was going to do as an adult. I was still ignorant enough of the larger world around me that I could be optimistic without any good reason for it. The future! It was coming and I was gonna be there for it. Looking back it’s not quite what I thought it was going to be, but it could be a lot worse than it is so I’ll take it.

Still, this damned song. Do you guys have anything similar or is it just me?

And now for something completely different: The Wintergatan Marble Machine

I cannot begin to imagine how one would begin to build something as amazing as this is.

Wintergatan’s YouTube channel has a number of videos of the build process if you’re curious.

Not Today (The Building Is on Fire)

The folks at Songify The News (previously Auto-Tune The News) have a new hit out:

Here’s the original video they made this out of:

If you’d like to help Michelle Dobyne, the woman in the video, as she tries to recover from the fire that prompted her awesome interview, there’s a GoFundMe page for her here: https://www.gofundme.com/cyhnqkpw

An ode to homophobic Kentucky country clerk Kim Davis.

Sandy and Richard Riccardi were so inspired by the plight of recently incarcerated for her religious beliefs contempt of court county clerk Kim Davis that they just had to sit down and write a song in her honor:

*sniff!* That brought a tear to my eye.