13 Ways of Looking at Taylor Swift's 1989

1. “This is my very first documented, official pop album” ⎯Taylor Swift, Aug. 18, 2014

2. “On her new album, Taylor Swift employs a whole new squad of sounds and studio tools to deliver the now-classic Taylor Swift message: I love you so much, and I will kill you if you fuck with me.”—Molly Lambert, Grantland, Oct. 27, 2014

3. “Pop, like other mass-market products such as beer and red meat, has gone artisanal. It’s a boutique item now, and 1989 is a boutique record . . . You remember how on Red’s signature tune, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” Swift snarked about a dim ex-boyfriend’s preference for an “indie record that’s much cooler than mine”? With 1989, Swift has made her version of a record that’s much cooler than her other albums.”—Steven Hyder, Grantland, Oct. 28, 2014

4. “Much has been made of Swift as a self-contained singer-songwriter, but this time around the credits look pretty much the same as the credits for every big pop album: representatives from Scandanavian hit factories (Max Martin, Shellback); a moonlighting member of a mainstream indie-rock band (Fun’s Jack Antonoff); an EDM producer chancing their arm in the world of pop (Ali Payami); the omnipresent Greg Kurstin, of Lily Allen, Lana del Rey, Ellie Goulding and Kylie Minogue fame. Given the cast list, you would expect 1989 to be an extremely polished product, which it undoubtedly is. Even its least interesting tracks sound like hits, which is what one pays Max Martin for, at its best, 1989 deals in undeniable melodies and huge, perfectly turned choruses and nagging hooks.” ⎯Alexis Petridis, The Guardian, Oct. 24, 2014

5. 1989 opens with the track “Welcome to New York.” The city’s response was to name her the official NYC global welcome ambassador. Other New Yorkers have not taken it so well:
o “taylor swifts new song “welcome to New York” makes me want to finally move from New York”⎯el-p, Twitter, Oct 20, 2014
o “The New York of 'Welcome to New York' is what you would get if you populated it entirely with humans raised in the Times Square Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., then let them out into the world with only a penthouse apartment, an Amex black card, and leopard-print Prada luggage to guide them.”⎯David Colon, The Village Voice, Oct. 23, 2014
o “But the good news is that the song isn’t quite as much of a disaster in context. It’s still an unforgivably dull mission statement, but it’s really only here to set the scene: Welcome to New Taylor. A clean and bright and shiny place where the subway never smells like piss because you never have to take it.”⎯Lindsay Zoladz, Vulture.com, Oct. 27, 2014

6. “'Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play/And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate/Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake/I shake it off, I shake it off”⎯Taylor Swift, “Shake It Off”, 1989, 2014

7. “The critics of “Welcome to New York” are inarguably correct: It is not a very true-to-life song. Also, The Warriors is an overly stylized and highly inaccurate depiction of New York City gangs in the ’70s and Ghostbusters is an insensitive portrayal of municipal bureaucrats fighting to keep paranormal investigators environmentally responsible in the ’80s. . . . Of course the sentiments of “Welcome to New York” are corny and misguided; the myth of New York exceptionalism endures because of the corny convictions of misguided outsiders who keep searching for something in the city that’s not there. Swift captures that phenomenon in “Welcome to New York” so completely that you suspect that she’s also living it out.”⎯Steven Hyder

8. “The negative traits ascribed to Taylor always sound like a greatest-hits list of every bad characteristic associated with womanhood: too emotional, too weak, too naive, too uptight, too slutty. But it’s obvious that Taylor is weak only in her songs, because that’s the only place she can afford to be, and that her weaknesses are also her muse.”⎯Molly Ball

9. “But the really striking thing about 1989 is how completely Taylor Swift dominates the album: Martin, Kurstin et al make umpteen highly polished pop records every year, but they’re seldom as clever or as sharp or as perfectly attuned as this, which suggests those qualities were brought to the project by the woman whose name is on the cover.”⎯Alexis Petridis

10. “The first half of 1989, from “Welcome to New York” up through “Shake It Off,” is particularly unstoppable. “⎯Steven Hyder

11. “The best moments come toward the end, when Swift shakes up the concept.”⎯Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone, Oct. 24, 2014

12. “All Taylor Swift songs are written from the perspective of the girl who Feels It more than everybody else; the goal of every Taylor Swift is for you to fleetingly feel it as much as she does.”¬⎯Lindsay Zoladz

13. “Deeply weird, feverishly emotional, wildly enthusiastic, 1989 sounds exactly like Taylor Swift, even when it sounds like nothing she's ever tried before. And yes, she takes it to extremes. Are you surprised? This is Taylor Swift, remember? Extremes are where she starts out.”⎯Rob Sheffield

My Favorite Comic of 2013

Apparently today is the day we make a lot of lists. Never say that I’m reluctant to jump in on a trend. 2013 was a great year in comics, giving us East of West, Uber, Three, Sex Criminals, All-New X-men, Superior Foes of Spiderman, Pretty Deadly, a wonderful new Uncanny X-Men and continuing great runs on Hawkeye and Prophet, all of which are pretty favorite, and all of which you should read.

But for me, number one with a bullet is undoubtedly Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvies’ shining, scintillating, spectacular Young Avengers. A pure pop investigation into what it is to be young and awesome.

Bike Racing!

So I have recently gotten into bike racing on an actual bike team, and part of this experience is writing race reports to share witht he other team members. It occured to me that since I so rarely post about what I'm actually up to, some of my friends might like to read them as well, edited to include some explanation of cycling terms which might not be familiar to the average non-cyclist. (Incidentally, I'm also thinking of cross posting this to Google+, and I would love folks thoughts on whether or not it's too long_

The actual race reportCollapse )

Oscar Guesses

Best Picture: Argo
Best Director: David O Russell
Actor, Lead: Daniel Day Lewis
Actor, Supporting: Tommy Lee Jones
Actress, Lead: Jessica Chastain
Actress, Supporting: Anne Hathaway

Foreign Film: Amour
Best Animated Film: Wreck-It Ralph
Adapted Screenplay: Argo
Original Screenplay: Django Unchained
Best Documentary: Searching for Sugarman

Cinematography: Life of Pi
Production Design: Anna Karenina
Film Editing: Argo
Costume Design: Anna Karenina
Best Makeup & Hair: The Hobbit

Best Score: Argo
Best Song: Skyfall, by Adele

Sound Mixing: Les Miserables
Sound Editing: Skyfall
Visual Effects: Life of Pi

Animated Short: Paperman
Documentary Short: Inocente
Live Short: Death of a Shadow

Weirdly enough, I've seen 6 out of the 8 movies nominated for best picture this year (and hopefully Life of Pi this afternoon). Personally, I think Zero Dark Thirty was the best movie this year, but Argo was the one I most enjoyed watching, so it's only a little cynical picking it over the clearly snubbed Zero Dark Thirty. Similarly, I want to give best original screenplay to Zero Dark instead of Django (and I may change it on my final ballot), which is not as good as Inglorious Basterds, but cynicism wins out on my Livejournal ballot) I love Jennifer Lawrence, and think she was robbed for Winter's Bone, so I'll be extremely happy if she wins, but I think that Jessica Chastain's performance was ultimately the better one. As for Best Supporting Actor, I think Leo was robbed, and Joel is right that both Tommy Lee Jones and Christolph Waltz are nominated for doing what they've done beter in other movies, but I still think that Tommy Lee Jones will edge it out of DeNiro.


Not a literary quote, but I liked it: In the context of the Greek Debt Crisis (but really, applicable to so much more):

"It's almost like some people think if you squeeze a society enough, it will turn into a diamond instead of explode in your face."

from @amaeryllis, Twitter


charlie_ego reminded me how much I like Slings and Arrows, this is not a quote from the show, but rather one of my favorite Shakespeare monologues from the show:

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

And look: it's the scene:


We speak now or I do, and others do. You've never spoken before. You will. You'll be able to say how the city is a pit and a hill and a standard and an animal that hunts and a vessel on the sea and the sea and how we are fish in it, not like the man who swims weekly with fish but the fish with which he swims, the water, the pool. I love you, you light me, warm me, you are suns.

You have never spoken before.

From Embassytown by China Mieville. Which everyone should read.


"You can think and you can fight, but the world’s always movin’, and if you wanna stay ahead you gotta dance"

From Maurice and his Amazing Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett


“The Jewish sages also tell us that God dances when His children defeat Him in argument, when they stand on their feet and use their minds. So questions like Anne's are worth asking. To ask them is a very fine kind of human behavior. If we keep demanding that God yield up His answers, perhaps some day we will understand them. And then we will be something more than clever apes, and we shall dance with God.”

Do people like trying to guess these? I could just start putting the quotes in with attribution.

This one is from Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow an amazing book if you haven't read it.