Recent comments

  • Favorite albums   5 weeks 15 hours ago

    Rather than objective I think a better term would be inter-subjectivity, where a group (an 'interpretive community') comes together around a shared criteria. Saying that a work has more "compassion" than another isn't scientifically verifiable, but you are likely to reach the same conclusions as someone else who has come to the same social agreement as to what constitutes a good, and a bad, piece of art. This, I think, explains why people have lists that are so similar to Scaruffi. Or Rolling Stone magazine. Or B.H. Haggin. (Well, that or ideological indoctrination). While I don't think there's such a thing as objectivity in the arts, I also don't believe in extreme subjectivity. Each of us are embedded in a complex social framework that shapes our perception.

    I'm too much of a relativist to think that something like morality, let alone art, can be discussed scientifically or objectively. Cultural anthropologists have shown this time and time again.

    I can't resist quoting Emerson on influence (and by doing so I fall into the trap he describes):
    "Meek young men grow up in libraries, believing it their duty to accept the views, which Cicero, which Locke, which Bacon, have given, forgetful that Cicero, Locke, and Bacon were only young men in libraries, when they wrote these books."

  • Please Recommend Music, Films or Paintings to Me   5 weeks 19 hours ago

    Will do, thank you

  • Music Ratings & Notes   5 weeks 19 hours ago

    I stand by exactly what I've said and nothing more. Low is clearly a descendant of The Velvet Underground (and La Monte Young, probably Nick Drake) particularly the several tracks I mentioned from their third album (or, rather, every song except Murder Mystery, Some Kinda Love) as well as Sunday Morning and possibly ideas behind spellbinding, slo-motion still-life of All Tomorrows Parties and maybe something from the hypnotic, suspenseful dirge of Venus in Furs.

    The band themselves references VU as one of their main influences.

    I wholeheartedly agree that VU's third isn't as intense as those others, and that one's idea of their relative intent/success is mostly, if not entirely, subjective.

  • Favorite albums   5 weeks 19 hours ago

    My movie list is also almost identical to Scaruffi's decade lists. The simple answer is that I listen to his choices and end up agreeing with him. I will give a more elaborate answer. A person who either is disposed to have the same values as X or wants to have the same values as X by learning from X will become X. There is an incentive to keep learning from X in an isolated way if (1) X is comprehensive, and (2) X is consistent with themselves. The more consistent the "theory" is, the more interesting it is to keep learning it until one is done with it. There is nothing wrong with this unoriginal and imitative way of learning; I am learning about art whether I am "deriving" my ideas about it or getting them from someone else. It is inconvenient to try to learn something without taking in someone else's ideas, especially if that person has written an entire history about it. If I am learning evolution and I only read one biologist's work, I will end up becoming that biologist. My trust in Scaruffi isn't blind because I make sense of his opinions, but it is blind in that I try to get his order of things to be true in my own mind in a biased way. But once they become true, they seem to remain true, and that increases and solidifies my trust. The trust accelerates my learning but ultimately my own opinions will take over. Confirmation bias is natural in all learning. Learning about evolution naturally involves pretending that what the biologist is telling me is true. I am unable to really be sure until a later point when I have enough knowledge to scrutinize it from the top. I can scrutinize it in the middle; it is just not fully possible, so you need trust and motivated reasoning. That is how you learn anything. You accept the theory first blindly and slowly but surely see how it fits into your views. It is possible that one day I will entirely disagree with Scaruffi. In addition, while I am learning his ideas I can even be a teacher of those ideas rather than a student, because I can elaborate on them. The process is analogous to a scientist improving or trying to improve on another's work. Hence the specific order and ratings of his choices (according to my opinion) can be useful to someone who is also wondering how they might be since he is not entirely specific. I am interpreting his opinions. I am a critic of a critic. By being interested in both Scaruffi's taste and his fans' tastes, one becomes a more sophisticated "Scaruffian"... People write about the same topics and repeat the same thoughts everywhere all the time and on purpose. Knowledge is not original.

    Your confusion may also come from the idea that art is too subjective for a person to agree so exactly with someone else. It is simply not true. It is too easy to think like other people. Furthermore, music is very subjective, but it is also objective. I think compassion is the "highest" emotion one can experience, for example, and Rock Bottom and Velvet Underground & Nico have more compassion than White Light/White Heat, and Stooges has more than Fun House does, and North by Northwest has a lot of compassion because it deals with mistaken identity, both a personal and a universal conflict, with a lot of suspense, humor, and pathos. If we can first agree on what emotions and concepts are in a work and then agree on which emotions and concepts are the most important (a discussion that can be approached scientifically and objectively, like morality), then we easily come to the same conclusions. It is just hard to have that discussion since it is so abstract.

  • Music Ratings & Notes   5 weeks 19 hours ago

    I think what Amirkhosro is saying is that for more than half of the album's content, the comparison with those other albums doesn't work, and the album as a whole certainly isn't very similar to them. I personally think that the songs aren't nearly as intense as those albums at their most depressing are, which is not a failure to achieve those same heights of intensity but a sign of a somewhat different intention behind the album IMO.

    Also, to Amirkhosro: Low don't really play VU-ish music, they're a slowcore band.

  • Music Ratings & Notes   5 weeks 20 hours ago

    No, I listened to it a few days ago. But it wouldn't matter; we're not unraveling Escalator Over the Hill here. You should check out Low's Trust as its the most similar out of those I mentioned, but much better. It has way more emotional depth and is significantly more powerful.

    Aside from that, the comparisons with Low, Cohen, and to a lesser extent, Red House Painters are pretty clear; the main exception being all 3 dilated/extended the forms/intensity/majesty of songs like Candy Says, Pale Blue Eyes, I'm Set Free, Beginning to See the Light, Jesus... Low pretty much tackled and surpassed all the main ideas on the album except Murder Mystery.

    Also, I think you're taking my aside that: "One might be able to stretch that to Tonight's the Night (fundamentally)" much too "assertively" or reading more into it than what I said and later clarified.

  • Please Recommend Music, Films or Paintings to Me   5 weeks 23 hours ago

    Add Casablanca to the list as well.

  • Favorite albums   5 weeks 23 hours ago

    I see. One reason I asked (apart from the fact that I think Faust is a very fascinating album) was that I was curious as to how come your ratings for albums are almost exactly the same as Scaruffi's, especially considering how unique your movies list is. Perhaps this is an unfair question.

  • Best albums of 2015 (so far)   5 weeks 23 hours ago

    It definitely is, probably a 7.5 for me. At the very least it must be one of the best pop albums of the year.

  • Music Ratings & Notes   5 weeks 1 day ago

    ... or Beginning to See the light, or What Goes On, or Some Kinda Love, or That's the Story of My Life, or Jesus.

    Am I correct in thinking that the last time you listened to the Velvets' third was years ago?

  • Music Ratings & Notes   5 weeks 1 day ago

    Cool, I didn't know that, thanks for the historical insight. Makes a lot of sense that they were so closely linked.

  • Music Ratings & Notes   5 weeks 1 day ago

    VU/Reed-Cohen has always been clear to me..both coming froma street-savvy ascetic purity..a ittle history of their connection...Cohen met Reed in 1967 and was surpised to learn that Reed had a copy of his poetry book, not yet released in the US!...Around this time (May?), Cohen, Reed, and Jackson Browne alternated in backing Nico on guitar in her early solo concerts. Cohen's early songs already existed as poems and as covers by others by the time he recorded them (August), but maybe the recordings were influenced by Reed or by Nico's debut Chelsea Girls (keep in mind that the third Velvets album was recorded 15 months later though). Cohen clashed with producer John Simon over the inclusion of strings and drums somewhat like how Nico hated Tom Wilson's overdubs on her album (May), both albums being very modest in all other reapects. Years later Reed gave a touching R&R HOF induction speech for Cohen (granted he mostly read his lyrics!)

  • Music Ratings & Notes   5 weeks 1 day ago

    I'm not sure if you were being sarcastic but, you're right, I am very busy all the time... but to me, similarities are clear and don't need explanation. In any case: VU's folk and Cohen's are practically the same genre, played and sung in similar ways. They're both shy, introverted, acoustic folk sung solemnly, with particularly ascetic dearths of arrangement/embellishment, simplicities of form and execution. They're both slow and sad, the songs (more so Cohen's) are each sung as if in a static spiritual prayer, watching life hopelessly pass by.

    Regards to Tonight's the Night, there's a redemptive striving towards a moral/religious salvation with each album. They both have a nocturnal, late night feel to them. They are both sung in funereal tones, in minor keys -- almost constantly. Of course, Young is quite a bit more demonstrative with his vocals than Reed (or Tucker).

    Of course, none of this is to say that any of the content from these albums resembles VUs Murder Mystery!

  • Best Movies of the 1990's   5 weeks 1 day ago

    I'd probably say either Millers Crossing or Fargo is their best work, though they have several excellent films -- very consistent filmmakers, and yes, like you said: Their diversity is quite impressive.

    Based on what Ive read/heard/seen, there's probably a good chance you're right about the "Sunrise" series.

  • Favorite albums   5 weeks 2 days ago

    It's not possible yet for me to explain, but it took a while for me to get it.

  • Favorite albums   5 weeks 2 days ago

    What makes Faust the #3 best rock album for you?

  • Music Ratings & Notes   5 weeks 2 days ago

    I was hoping that you'd explain how they're fundamentally similar (Cohen's and Young's albums in particular), specially since I don't hear it and nobody I know hears it either, except for you of course.

    Still, I understand you're living a busy life. No need to hurry ;-)

  • Best Movies of the 1990's   5 weeks 2 days ago

    I've only watched two of Coens' movies, that one and No Country for Old Men, and they're both so different in mood that I'm kinda impressed with how the Coens managed to pull off both so well.

    Before Sunrise is definitely worth checking out, along with Before Sunset (haven't seen the third one yet), though considering what I know about your taste, I doubt you would rate them above 7/10 (or at most a low 7.5).

  • Music Ratings & Notes   5 weeks 2 days ago

    Songs like Pale Blue Eyes seem to be precursor's/contemporaries to Cohen's art. Along with songs such as Candy Says, they were humming pretty close to the slo-core genre of 20+ years later. They're certainly closer to Low (Trust and I Could Live in Hope particularly), the rest, including Tonight's the Night have fundamental and emotional similarities but if you don't see it that's fine.

  • Best Movies of the 1990's   5 weeks 2 days ago

    Nice list, Big Lebowski is hilarious, one of Coen's best. I don't believe I've seen Before Sunrise (or any of the series).

  • 25 Favorite Albums of the 2010s   5 weeks 2 days ago

    Good to hear :-) I'll have to give Ekstasis a shot sometime soon

  • List of Oscar nominated actors and actresses by date of death   5 weeks 2 days ago

    Movies with two or more of the above actors:

    Moulin Rouge (1952) Theodore Bikel/Colette Marchand
    HealtH (1980) - Lauren Bacall/James Garner
    The Fan (1981) - Lauren Bacall/James Garner
    My Fellow American (1996) - Lauren Bacall/James Garner

  • List of Oscar nominated actors and actresses by date of death   5 weeks 2 days ago

    Available on Netflix for the ten last
    Bold means Oscar nominated role
    Bold caps means Oscar winning role
    * means recommended movie

    - Second Chances, 1998
    - My Side of the Mountain, 1969
    - Sands of the Kalahari, 1965
    - The Enemy Below, 1957 *

    - One Night With the King, 2008
    - Hidalgo, 2004 *
    - The Parole Officer, 2001
    - The 13th Warrior, 1999
    - Keys to Freedom, 1988
    - Top Secret, 1984 *
    - Crime and Passion, 1976

    - Where Is Parsifal?, 1984
    - Make Mine Mink, 1960



    - The Forger, 2012
    - The Walker, 2007
    - Diamonds, 1999
    - Ready to Wear, 1994 *
    - All I Want For Christmas, 1991
    - How to Marry a Millionaire, 1953 *

    - The Angriest Man in Brooklyn, 2014
    - Lee Daniels' The Butler, 2013 *
    - The Big Wedding, 2013
    - The Face of Love, 2013
    - World's Greatest Dad, 2009 *
    - Old Dogs, 2009
    - Shrink, 2009
    - August Rush, 2007
    - License to Wed, 2007
    - Man of the Year, 2006
    - RV, 2006
    - The Big White, 2005 *
    - The Final Cut, 2004
    - One Hour Photo, 2002 *
    - Bicentennial Man, 1999
    - Jakob the Liar, 1999
    - Patch Adams, 1998 *
    - What Dreams May Come, 1998 *
    - GOOD WILL HUNTING, 1997 *
    - Deconstructing Harry, 1997 *
    - Flubber, 1997
    - The Birdcage, 1996 *
    - Jack, 1996
    - Jumanji, 1995
    - Nine Months, 1995
    - Mrs Doubtfire, 1993 *
    - Toys, 1992
    - Dead Again, 1991 *
    - Hook, 1991
    - Awakenings, 1990 *
    - Good Morning, Vietnam, 1987 *

    - The Ultimate Gift, 2006
    - The Notebook, 2004 *
    - Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, 2002
    - Space Cowboys, 2000
    - Twilight, 1998
    - Maverick, 1994 *
    - The Castaway Cowboy, 1974
    - Support Your Local Gunfighter, 1971 *
    - Support Your Local Sheriff, 1969 *
    - The Great Escape, 1963 *
    - Move Over Darling, 1963 *

    - A Thousand Words, 2012
    - Video Girl, 2011
    - American Gangster, 2007 *
    - Baby Geniuses, 1999
    - Cop and a Half, 1993

    - The Night of the Grizzly, 1966
    - The Sons of Katie Elder, 1965 *
    - Houseboat, 1958 *
    - Sabrina, 1954 *
    - Down Three Dark Streets, 1954

  • Favorite albums   5 weeks 2 days ago

    Morphine's Good is about the construction of what is considered good and bad and about cultural relativism. Empathy causes us to recognize an inherent social framework for morality based on what others feel. In this framework one can find a statement like "Shoot a crack dealer down" justifiable (which it is), or not (which it is). "The other side" is the imaginary location of moral disagreement. In a minor way "The Only One" is a perverse justification for relativism (based on empathy), perverse by comparison with its being romantic at the same time.

  • Best albums of 2015 (so far)   5 weeks 2 days ago

    No, but I'll check it out if it's any good.