Category Archives: music

Rest In Peace: Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse (9/14/1983 – 7/23/2011)

Wow, there are so many things I want to say about Winehouse’s death. The way I feel the media, society and yes even her fans were complicit in her destruction. I want to pull clips of her when she first broke in the U.S. and was more coherent and open about her use of marijuana. I want to pair it with articles and comments on her weight despite being only a size 10 at the time. The way she always seemed to perform with her gaze lowered as if looking at the audience was too much. The way I can’t help but wonder if her decision to give up pot to lose the weight also led to her decision to start using heavier drugs that are more destructive but also lead to weight loss. There is a lot we’ll never know and will constantly want to figure out.

I want to dissect the whole thing but it feels too soon and too raw. I’ve been a fan of Amy Winehouse since the release of her first album in 2003, Frank. I loved her style, her performance and her complete unconcern for others opinions. There was a lot to critique about her music and her personal life but very few would ever try to deny her talent.

In this moment though? All I wanna do is hear her voice:


Fuck Me Pumps – the first Winehouse song I ever heard and I still have a soft spot for it despite some issues I have with message/lyrics.

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? – She never did an official video for this but such a great cover in any case and seems appropriate to end the post with.

Music You Should Listen To: CockNBullKid

So there have been plenty of amazing British imports when it comes to music. Just recently you have Adele, Duffy, Amy Winehouse and more. Reaching farther back The Sex Pistols, The Beatles, X-ray Spex, Dusty Springfield and more.

Currently everywhere I look singer Jessie J is being touted as the Next Big Thing(tm) from across the pond. Her song Price Tag is appearing in more and more places, other singers talk about her amazing range and voice. I have her album and it is very enjoyable but after a few spins I stopped enjoying the songs for what they were and started to try and figure out what 90s song she was channeling. I’m all for 90’s music, the beats were great and the lyrics awesome but you have to take influence/inspiration and make it your own not let it take you for a ride as an artist of any kind. She is certainly very talented and has an amazing voice but is perhaps not as original (in my opinion) as I would like.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered CockNBullKid only a couple of weeks ago. Another British singer-songwriter her album Adulthood is already out in stores and she’s versatile and fresh in a way that’s exciting to listen to. And I really wish her music was getting half the push that Jessie J is. I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that Jessie J is just outside of the norm enough to be edgy and interesting without really challenging anything. Anyway, on to the fabulous CNBK (CockNBullKid for those who don’t know)!

Hold on To Your Misery – A take on more 60’s girl group pop but with a bit of a twisted message. I love the use of children mostly because it doesn’t feel precocious and twee and it easily could.

Yellow – More indie-pop feel song with some really unique and interesting beats backing it up. All about fear and cowardice and love a song that sounds cheery then as you listen closer sort of isn’t.

One Eye Closed – A slinky rock song with a compelling and somewhat disturbing thready beat/rhythm that fits so well. And really worth it just for the video, it starts with her in a monster costume handing out fliers…then it gets weird.

Asthma Attack – Full blown dancey pop and I LOVE IT. An ode to London that is suitably tongue-in-cheek from a singer that calls herself the CockNBullKid.

Bonus Video: So CockNBullKid has started a series of videos called Covered Off where she duets on a cover with another artist. So far she’s done three: Plan B’s ‘He Said’ with Clare Maguire, Rui Da Silva’s ‘Touch Me’ with Gonzales but my favorite based on the staging as much as anything else (’cause they’re all amazing) is CNBK and Eliza Doolittle doing Destiny’s Child’s ‘Bills, Bills, Bills,’ while checking themselves out in make-up mirrors.

Media Friday – Ming & Ping

I intended to post something else this week because I do want to try and keep to at least two posts per week but this particular week was a hard one so all you’re getting from me is the media post hopefully next week’ll be better. 

Since I talked about Masia One a couple of weeks ago I figured I should talk about another artist I saw at the same festival and immediately fell in love with – Ming & Ping!

Ming and Ping are twins born in Hong Kong but now based in San Francisco and their music gives me flashbacks to all the good parts of the 80s – the use of electronica, the make-up, the theatrics, the mystery (from their wikipedia article: Interest in the group is aided by many rumors that both twins are in fact the same performer. However, due to their rare public appearances, these rumors remain unconfirmed). Remember the days when artist wore masks and who knew who they were and it was all about the music and the crazy characters they were on stage? Yeah that’s what it reminds me of.

Plus their videos are visually beautiful as if the artwork from their album cover thanks in part to Bao Vo their producer/creative director.

“Legends of Nothing”

“City of Lies”


Media Friday – Masia One

Masia One is a Chinese-Canadian rapper who I believe is pretty well-known in Canada.  In fact she was the first female rapper to be nominated for “Best Rap Video” in the MuchMusic Video Awards, which from what I can tell are like our MTV VMAs.

I became aware of her back in March during the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival when her video “Return of the B-girl” was shown during the Music Video showing which included musicians of Asian descent from America, Canada, Britain, HK and elsewhere. I was an instant fan and I thought I should share a few of her videos since she’s virtually unknown in America which is truly a shame.

Split Second Time

Return of the B-girl (which includes actual all-female breaking teams)

Neo-Soul Videos – Part 1

Related to last Friday’s post about the coopting of Neo-Soul by white artists with no connection to the community. Here are some other black Neo-Soul artists/songs you may not have heard of.

Leela James – Music

Jaguar Wright – Free (live, 10 minute version)

Lina – Not The Enemy

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

Cree Summer – Savior Self

Res – Golden Boys

Media Friday – Singing With Soul [IBARW Edition]

Estelle is a rapper/singer/producer from across the pond who you mightknow because of her song “American Boy” featuring Kanye West.

I love her recently released album Shine I think it’s amazing but here’s the thing she’s nowhere near as heavily praised as some of the other “neo-soul” artists that have come out of Britain – Amy. Winehouse, Duffy, Adele. The difference is of course that all of those are white women who get cred for having throaty voices and singing “soul” music. There is a huge disparity in the way that the Music Industry treats white soul singers as opposed to black soul singers like Leela James, Jaguar Wright, Lina and more.

Estelle brought up the disparity herself in the Guardian, about Adele and white soul singers in general she says:

“She sounds like she heard some Aretha records once, and she’s got a deeper voice – that don’t mean she’s soul. That don’t mean nothing to me in the grand scheme of my life as a black person. As a songwriter, I get what they do. As a black person, I’m like: you’re telling me this is my music? Fuck that!”

And while I will say I have Winehouse’s and Adele’s albums I always feel uncomfortable listening to them, there’s a cultural appropriation happening that really bothers me. This is not to say white folks can’t sing soul, one of my favorite soul acts is Robin Thicke but there’s a way in which his music crosses the line to cultural appreciation instead of appropriation. It’s hard to explain but when he sings and performs it feels different, like he knows and cares about the community he’s interacting with as opposed to just caring about profiting from them. But Estelle hits the nail on the head, when listening to Winehouse, Adele and Justin Timberlake I can’t help but think – “As a black person, I’m like: you’re telling me this is my music? Fuck that!”

Orson Scott Card & Media Friday

By now most of you have probably heard about OSC’s rabidly heterosexist rant in the Mormon Times. If you haven’t check out Yonmei’s deconstruction over at Feminist SF – The Blog. Yonmei’s blogged extensively about OSC’s bigotry over on FemSF but his rant against marriage equality really takes the cake. Bankuei over at Deeper In The Gamereminded me of OSC’s book Songmaster, it’s a relevant point in the discussion that OSC does have queer characters in his books they just always come to horrible ends or realize the way they are is wrong and live in unhappy marriages.

So Media today! I recently talked about Comic Book Tattoo, the almost 500 page comic anthology with over 50 stories all based on Tori Amos’ songs. Well I read the whole thing and it’s amazing and I recommend it to everyone even if you’re not an Amos fan. If you are an Amos fan then sweet jebus you have to get this book! Reading the book while listening to the song that inspired it is fascinating the two different forms inform each other so much that you end up catching nuances in both works that you didn’t notice before. In celebration of that here’s some Tori, a couple classics, a couple from her newest album and one from her hard to find early metal album Y Kant Tori Read:

Links – An Icon Passes On, Musical Muse & Buffy Still White As Ever

Three Things:


If you haven’t heard already actress Estelle Getty, best known for her portrayal of Sophia on Golden Girls passed away yesterday. Getty had a long and varied career on the stage and on screen both large and small but her iconic status comes from her signature role as Sophia. Golden Girls is one of the ultimate feminist shows to be, not only in the messages but in the set up of the show and the characters. Feministe goes into it more here but I really think of Golden Girls as the first feminist show I watched. I still watch it often, on the Lifetime Channel, on DVD, etc. It’s a great hilarious show and the highlight is almost always Sophia’s witty, sarcastic one-liners. She was an icon not only for her wit but for her activity and sexuality well into her 80’s. She was the old person we all wanted to grow up to be.

Estelle was 84 and had been sick for quite a while, she was found yesterday in her Hollywood home.

A lot of folks won’t remember this clip from the 1996 MTV movie awards but it’s hilarious and always tickles me 
The Golden Girls doing Clueless  


One of the most anticipated Comic book releases this year (and not just by me) is Comic Book Tattoo. The 480 page anthology contains over 50 stories contributed by over 80 comic book artist/writers (I’m talking a who’s who of the industry) and everyone of the stories takes a Tori Amos song as it’s base.

It’s premiering this week at Comic-Con but since I’m too broke to go I went ahead and ordered it on yesterday. They have all three versions of the book: The Limited Edition (regular price – $149.99/ – $94.49), the hardcover (regular price – $49.99/ – $31.49) and the paperback (regular price – $29.99/ -$19.79). Being, as I mentioned above, broke I ordered the paperback version and it’s a good thing to as it’s the only one listed as In Stock at the moment, the other two versions are listed as not yet released.

This is so exciting, I keep checking my order every hour to see if it’s shipped yet. Amazon says I’ll recieve my copy by this Friday and I hope they’re telling the truth because I fully expect Friday night to be spent in a haze of transcendence as I listen to Tori songs on repeat while reading the stories they inspired.


Karen Healey over at Girls Read Comics, And They’re Pissed talks about her relationship with the Buffy comics and the fact that they still can’t seem to keep any People of Color in the main cast even now in  I Was Reading On The Train, So I Couldn’t Throw the Book.  Anyone who’s discussed Buffy with me knows that though I do love the show I have so major issues with it as well. One of these issues is the lack of People of Color in a Southern California town which is just illogical. It’s the same reaction I have to shows set in New York with no POC: …wuh?…

In fact in my essay in the WisCon Chronicles Two I touch on Buffy as an extremely all-white show. I mean the last season introduced in my opinion two stand out POC characters, Rona & Principal Wood except look how they ended up in the last episode both extremely injured and clinging to life.

Anyway the point is that as good as some feminist fans think Joss is on gender  (Digressing! -though I think he’s better than a lot of men I disagree vehemently with those in the feminist community who practically deify him and have to fight not to scream “I Told You So” at those who are so disappointed with his web series Dr. Horrible because of it’s horrible third part – The Hathor Legacy has more on the badness of Dr. Horrible in a recent post) he is pretty bad on race. I mean folks want to point at Firefly/Serenity and say “Look he’s good on race truly he is!” but …no, as much as I love both Firefly and Serenity and hope for a sequel just …no it’s not being good on race to just have POC in the show. The POC actually have to be done well and be full and complete characters that don’t rely on problematic stereotypes:  Book -Magical Religious Godly Negro, River – Scary fighting Asian chick but with white parents which Idon’t get, Inara – Sexualized darker skinned Latina. I mean maybe Joss was really going to disrupt these things later in the show and never got the chance but there’s no evidence he was gonna do that either.

Okay off to work!

Problematic Things I Enjoy – I Kissed A Girl

Okay so the genesis for this (maybe-series of posts) post comes from my talk of Watchmen on Friday and the why I love it and think it’s a seminal work in comics despite my many issues with it in regards to race, gender and sexuality. So the point is to highlight something that is problematic but I still enjoy. Because we all have those things that we know are bad and have issues but that we like anyway. I think that it’s hard to be the “perfect” activist, you’re gonna like things that you know further an agenda you don’t agree with. I deal with this by dissecting and acknowledging the problems in the things because by doing so we can rob it of a lot of it’s power. When we know the message that’s trying to be communicated to us we can counteract it more easily in ourselves and friends.

Just my theory, you may disagree.

So the problematic thing I enjoy in this post is Katy Perry’s hit song – I Kissed A Girl. Oh beat and rhythm that I love is it possible to numerate all the ways the lyrics go wrong?

These lyrics froth with issues that include – a lack of female agency, a devaluation of lesbian relations and sexuality, treatment of women as only sexual beings unworthy of names, a continued preoccupation with what her boyfriend will think as opposed to what she feels like after this experience, the use of lesbian sexuality as a ploy to titillate therefore ignoring any validity in those feelings, encouraging bi-phobia and detrimentality to the acceptance of bisexuality as a valid identity choice because it can all be written off as experimentation. And possibly a lot more I haven’t picked up on yet, feel free to point them out, yet despite all this there’s something about the music and the sound of Perry’s voice (the deep tone of it) that I really like and I’ve been listening to the song on repeat.

If you haven’t seen it or heard it, here’s the video:

There’s something about the chorus and the way it’s produced that makes me want to move my feet even though I cringe at the calling of this other girl “an experimental game” and the continuing reference to “I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it”. Now I’m sure some think it’s just a cheeky fun song and I should lay off but pop culture influences everything around us and we ignore the things that gain popularity at our peril.

Verdict: So problematic that I refuse to give her some of my hard earned money in any way but I’ll shake my groove thing to it in the privacy of my own room and discuss the problems with others who enjoy it.

Off-Topic but somewhat related Coda: 

Now for politics and validation of alternative sexuality I much prefer Jill Sobule’s song of the same name. The story of two married women who end up finding more pleasure in each other than in their loud, annoying, brutish husbands. They have agenc, they make the decisions and from Jill I can take it because she’s made a career of commentary and satire in her songs. Jill is mocking the belief that lesbianism is a fad or stage of development whereas Katy seems to mock lesbianism itself. Jill Sobule, in case you don’t know, is a brilliant sarcastic singer-songwriter who’s been around for years. She’s articulate, quirky, off-the-wall and always interesting her songs. You might know her songs if not her, she’s a two hit wonder in mainstream music hitting it big with I Kissed A Girl & Supermodel – a sarcastic look at starvation and obsession with pop culture and models particularly.
Jills Sobule’s – I Kissed A Girl

Plans…out the window with you!

I had plans to write on Fri. but a friend I hadn’t seen in a while called and asked me over, so I ended up hanging with her all day and just crashing there. No words written. Then today I left her house and immediately headed for Berkeley because M.I.A. was giving a free concert at Amoeba Records.

M.I.A. was f’ing amazing! If you don’t know who she is; M.I.A. is a British music artist of Sri Lankan origin who raps/sings about social issues and is just kick ass all around. I suggest you head to youtube and search for M.I.A. & Boyz (which is her new single) or Sunshowers (which is one of my favorite songs).

I will get back to writing, either tonight or definitely tomorrow. In other news I’ve been listening to podcasts about writing lately. I recommend Holly Lisle’s Holly Lisle on Writing. It hasn’t been updated in over a year but what’s there is good stuff. I also suggest Mur Lafferty’s I Should Be Writing, again some really good tips and advice and just commiseration because it is “For wannabe fiction writers by a wannabe fiction writer”. I have a couple others that I’m on the fence about so I’ll report back when I have a more concrete opinion of them.

‘Cause I know you’re dying to know here is my current reading queue: Continue reading