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Picture of a musician: Bauhaus
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Music
Bauhaus

Bauhaus are an English rock band, formed in Northampton, England, in 1978. The group consists of Daniel Ash (guitar, saxophone), Peter Murphy (vocals, occasional instruments), Kevin Haskins (drums) and David J (bass). The band were originally named Bauhaus 1919 in reference to the first operating year of the German art school Bauhaus, although they shortened the name within a year of formation. One of the pioneers of gothic rock, Bauhaus were known for their dark image and gloomy sound, although they mixed many genres, including dub, glam rock, psychedelia, and funk.

Their 1979 debut single, "Bela Lugosi's Dead" is considered one of the harbingers of gothic rock music and has been influential on contemporary goth culture. Their debut album, In the Flat Field, is regarded as one of the first gothic rock records. Their 1981 second album Mask expanded their sound by incorporating a wider variety of instruments—such as keyboards, saxophone and acoustic guitar—and experimenting with funk-inspired rhythms on tracks like "Kick in the Eye". Bauhaus went on to achieve mainstream success in the United Kingdom with their third album, The Sky's Gone Out, which peaked at No. 3 on the UK Albums Chart in 1982. That same year, they also reached No. 15 on the Singles Chart with a standalone cover of David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust", earning them an appearance on Top of the Pops. During recording sessions for their next album, Murphy fell ill and spent much of his time away from the studio, leaving the rest of the band to compensate for his absence. This created a rift between the singer and his bandmates, culminating in the group's dissolution on 5 July 1983, one week before Burning from the Inside was released. Featuring the hit single "She's in Parties", it would be their final studio album composed entirely of new material for a quarter century.

Picture of a musician: David Bowie
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Music
David Bowie

David Robert Jones (8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016), known professionally as David Bowie ( BOH-ee), was an English singer-songwriter and actor. A leading figure in the music industry, he is regarded as one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. Bowie was acclaimed by critics and musicians, particularly for his innovative work during the 1970s. His career was marked by reinvention and visual presentation, and his music and stagecraft had a significant impact on popular music.

Bowie developed an interest in music from an early age. He studied art, music and design before embarking on a professional career as a musician in 1963. "Space Oddity", released in 1969, was his first top-five entry on the UK Singles Chart. After a period of experimentation, he re-emerged in 1972 during the glam rock era with his flamboyant and androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust. The character was spearheaded by the success of Bowie's single "Starman" and album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, which won him widespread popularity. In 1975, Bowie's style shifted towards a sound he characterised as "plastic soul", initially alienating many of his UK fans but garnering him his first major US crossover success with the number-one single "Fame" and the album Young Americans. In 1976, Bowie starred in the cult film The Man Who Fell to Earth and released Station to Station. In 1977, he again changed direction with the electronic-inflected album Low, the first of three collaborations with Brian Eno that came to be known as the "Berlin Trilogy". "Heroes" (1977) and Lodger (1979) followed; each album reached the UK top five and received lasting critical praise.

Picture of a musician: Beach House
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Music
Beach House

Beach House is an American musical duo formed in Baltimore, Maryland in 2004. The band consists of vocalist and keyboardist Victoria Legrand and guitarist, keyboardist, and backup vocalist Alex Scally.

Their self-titled debut album was released in 2006 to critical acclaim and has been followed by Devotion (2008), Teen Dream (2010), Bloom (2012), Depression Cherry (2015), Thank Your Lucky Stars (2015), B-sides and Rarities (2017), 7 (2018), and Once Twice Melody (2022).

Vocalist and organist Victoria Legrand, who graduated from Vassar College in 2003, and guitarist Alex Scally, who graduated from Oberlin College in 2004, formed the band in 2004 after meeting in Baltimore's indie rock scene, producing music composed largely of organ, programmed drums, and steel guitar. Of the origins of the band name Scally said: "We’d been writing music, and we had all these songs, and then there was that moment where you say ‘what do we call ourselves?’ We tried to intellectualize it, and it didn’t work. There were different plant-names, Wisteria, that kind of thing. Stupid stuff. But, once we stopped trying, it just came out, it just happened. And it just seemed perfect." In an interview with Pitchfork, Legrand addressed their being a two-member status thus: "[I]t's a way to challenge ourselves: What do you do when it's just the two of you? ... [O]ne of the reasons this has been such a fulfilling experience for me is that with two people, it's so much easier to achieve things that feel exciting and new."

movies

movies

Picture of a movie: Collateral
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Movies
Collateral
2004
This action thriller follows LA cabbie Max Durocher, the type of person who can wax poetic about other people's lives, which impresses U.S. Justice Department prosecutor Annie Farrell, one of his fares, so much that she gives him her telephone number at the end of her ride. Although a dedicated man as seen through the efficiency in which he does his work, he can't or won't translate that eloquence into a better life for himself. He deludes himself into believing that his now twelve year cabbie job is temporary and that someday he will own his own limousine service. He even lies to his hospitalized mother that he already owns one, with a further lie that he tells her as such primarily to make her happy, rather than the truth which is that he won't do anything to achieve that dream. One night, Max picks up a well dressed man named Vincent, who asks Max to be his only fare for the evening. For a flat fee of $600, plus an extra $100 if he gets to the airport on time - Vincent wants Max to drive him to five stops that evening. Max somewhat reluctantly agrees. Max learns the hard way at their first stop when a body falls from a third story apartment window and lands dead on top of his cab that Vincent is a contract hit man. Vincent's main goal, as per his current contract, is to kill five people, one at each of the stops, but he will not let others get in the way of that goal, even if it means killing them, including Max. As Vincent forces Max to continue driving him for the evening, Max tries slyly at every turn to take back control of his life from Vincent, especially when Max learns of one of the names on Vincent's hit list. Meanwhile, LAPD narcotics detective, Ray Fanning, and ultimately the FBI get involved when Vincent's first victim is associated with a case in which Ray is working undercover. Ray is able to piece together information which makes him hot on Max and Vincent's tail.
books

books

Picture of a book: The Stranger
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Books
The Stranger
Albert Camus
I don’t know what to do with these stars anymore. I give stars to books and then I think, ‘god, you give five stars to everything, people will think you are terribly undiscriminating’ – so then I give four stars or even three stars to some books. Then I look back and it turns out that that I’ve given four stars to Of Human Bondage and honestly, how could I possibly have thought it was a good idea to give that book less than five stars? It is the absurdity of human conventions that has us doing such things.Now, that is what is called a segue, from the Italian ‘seguire’ – to follow. For the last thirty years I have studiously avoided reading this book. I have done that because for the last thirty years I have known exactly what this book is about and there just didn’t seem any point in reading it. In high school friends (one of them even became my ex-wife) told me it was a great book about a man condemned to die because he was an outsider. Later I was told that this book was a story about something much like the Azaria Chamberlain case. A case where someone does not react in a way that is considered to be ‘socially appropriate’ and is therefore condemned.But after 30 years of avoiding reading this book I have finally relented and read it. At first I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it. It didn’t really get off to the raciest of starts and the character's voice – it is told in first person – was a bit dull. He is a man who lives entirely in the present, how terribly Buddhist of him – although, really there doesn’t seem to be all that much to him.My opinion of the book began to change at his mother’s funeral. I particularly liked the man who kept falling behind in the march to the cemetery and would take short cuts. Okay, so it is black humour, but Camus was more or less French – so black humour is more or less obligatory.I really hadn’t expected this book to be nearly so funny as it turned out. I’d always been told it was a ponderous philosophical text – and so, to be honest, I was expecting to be bored out of my skull. I wasn’t in the least bit bored.A constant theme in my life at present is that I read ‘classics’ expecting them to be about something and they end up being about something completely different. And given I’ve called this a ‘constant’ theme then you might think I would be less than surprised when a read a new ‘classic’ and it turns out to be completely different to my expectations. I’m a little more upset about this one than some of the others, as I’ve been told about this one before, repeatedly, and by people I’d have taken as ‘reputable sources’ – although, frankly, how well one should trust one’s ex-wife in such matters is moot.I had gotten the distinct impression from all of my previous discussions about this book that the guy ends up dead. In fact, this is not the case – he ends up at the point in his life where he has no idea if he will be freed or not. The Priest who comes to him at the end is actually quite certain that he will be freed. Let’s face it, he is only guilty of having murdered an Arab, and as we have daily evidence, Westerners can murder Arabs with complete impunity. The main point of the book to me is when he realises he is no longer ‘free’. He needs this explained to him – because life up until then had been about ‘getting used to things’ and one can 'get used to just about anything'. But the prison guard helpfully informs him that he is being ‘punished’ and the manifestation of that punishment is the removal of his ‘freedom’. Interestingly, he didn’t notice the difference between his past ‘free’ life and his current ‘unfree’ one. The most interesting part of the book to me was the very end, the conversation with the priest. The religious often make the mistake of thinking that Atheists are one thing – I’ve no idea how they ever came to make this mistake, but make it they do. Given that there are thousands upon thousands of different shades of Christians – from Jesuit Catholics to Anti-Disney Episcopalians – it should be fairly obvious that something like Atheism (without any ‘organised’ church or even system of beliefs) could not be in anyway ‘homogeneous’.I am definitely not the same kind of Atheist as Camus. To Camus there is no truth, the world is essentially absurd and all that exists is the relative truth an individual places on events and ideas. This makes the conversation with the priest fascinatingly interesting. To the priest the prisoner who is facing death is – by necessity – someone who is interested in God. You can play around with ideas like the non-existence of God when it doesn’t seem to matter (life is long and blasphemy can seem fun) – but surely when confronted with the stark truth of the human condition any man would turn away from their disbelief and see the shining light.Not this little black duck. Now, if I was in that cell I would have argued with the priest too – but I would not have argued in the same way that Meursault argues. No, I do not believe in God, but I do believe in truth, and so Camus’ arguments are barred to me.Meursault essentially says, “Look, I’m bored, I’m totally uninterested in the rubbish you are talking – now go away”. Now, this is a reasonable response. What is very interesting is that the priest cannot accept this as an answer. The world is not allowed to have such a person in it – if such a person really did exist then it would be a fundamental challenge to the core beliefs of the priest. So, he has to assume Meursault is either lying to him or is trying to taunt him. But it is much worse – he is absolutely sincere, he is not interested in this ‘truth’.I don’t know that the world is completely meaningless, it is conventional rather than meaningless. That those conventions are arbitrary (decided by the culture we grew up in) doesn’t make them meaningless, it makes them conventional. I don’t think I would like to live in a world where people go up and kill Arabs pretty much at random and with impunity, but then again, we have already established this is precisely the world I do live in. My point is that it would be better if we did adhere to some sort of moral principles and that these should be better principles than ‘he should be killed because he didn’t cry at his mum’s funeral’. Camus is seeking to say that all of our ‘moral principles’ in the end come to be as meaningless as that – we judge on the basis of what we see from the framework of our own limited experience. And look, yes, there is much to this – but this ends up being too easy.The thing I like most about Existentialism, though it isn’t really as evident in this book as it is in the actual philosophy – although this is something that Meursault is supposed to have grown to understand (sorry, just one more sub-clause) even though this wasn’t something I noticed at all while reading the book, was the notion of responsibility. I didn’t think in the end Meursault was all that much more ‘responsible’ for his actions than he had been at the start. But I do think that ‘responsibility’ is a key concept in morality and one that seems increasingly to be ignored.Better by far that we feel responsible for too much in our lives than too little – better by far that we take responsibility for the actions of our governments (say) than to call these governments ‘them’. I’m not advocating believing in The Secret - but that if one must err, better to err on the side of believing you have too much responsibility for how your life has turned out, rather than too little.So, what can I say? I enjoyed this much more than I expected – but I’m still glad I waited before reading it, I really don’t think I would have gotten nearly as much out of it at 15 as I did now.
Picture of a book: The Catcher in the Rye
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Books
The Catcher in the Rye
J.D. Salinger
The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children's voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden's voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep. J.D. Salinger's classic novel of teenage angst and rebellion was first published in 1951. The novel was included on Time's 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923. It was named by Modern Library and its readers as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. It has been frequently challenged in the court for its liberal use of profanity and portrayal of sexuality and in the 1950's and 60's it was the novel that every teenage boy wants to read.
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