Tucker Max book signing inspires bizarre protest

PORTLAND — As I walked into Powell’s Books in Portland Friday night, I spotted a young woman in front of the store holding a cardboard sign with a bizarre question, to put it mildly.

“Isn’t rape hilarious?” the woman’s sign sarcastically read. There were about 20 or so protestors with signs of a similar vein, but that one stuck with me.

What was the meaning of this odd query? Who  was it directed toward? Is non-consensual sex really funny, and I’m just missing the joke?

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Concert Review: Yeasayer

Brooklyn trio Yeasayer are a band I find equal parts exhilirating and frustrating. The songs I love by them (i.e., “2080”, “Tightrope”, “O.N.E.”, etc.) I LOVE. They cut to an emotional core that is augmented by a wide-ranging palette of musical sounds that stretches from the Caribbean to Far Eastern. But there are just as many songs on their first two albums that I am inclined to skip. These songs are more meandering and the lyrics can seem, at times, lazy and uninspired. (i.e., “Rome”, “Strange Reunions”, etc.)

Full disclosure: I have a tendency to wear out songs I like, at the expense of exploring the album as a whole. I am more of a singles person, in that respect. Yeasayer’s most immediate and catchy material is often at the front of their albums. Therefore, I’ve found myself hitting repeat on All Hour Cymbals and Odd Blood without giving the second half of either recording, which I find more tedious, nearly as many plays.

So the question for me going into Yeasayer’s show Saturday night at the House of Blues in New Orleans was how would the songs that I didn’t know as well hold up live? Would they keep my attention? Would they make me dance and nod my head like the tracks I was more familar with?

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Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

I used to write book reviews all the time. I would read a book, write a review, get a personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut and start the process all over again. Those were the days when I saw the world from pepperoni-colored glasses. I didn’t have to worry about calories or fat content. Hell, I didn’t even really have to worry about reading. Just cut and paste a few words of synopsis off the back cover and — voila! — Pizza Hut here I come. Who cares, right? It was just a personal pan pizza. Wasn’t like it was a medium, or, better yet, a large. Now that I am older, and Pizza Hut’s personal pan pizzas are a distant memory, I don’t read as much. I was spoiled as a schoolboy. Now there’s no incentive. I have to pay for my own pizza; I have to pay for my own books. The world is not fair.

So without further lusting over undersized, constipation pies served in a cardbox board ornamented in a gallon of grease, here is my review of Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. Spoilers are all over this mug, as my old English teacher Grem would say.

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My favorite songs of 2010 (so far) Pt. 2

Here is the second installment of a two-part series containing my favorite songs of 2010 (so far). This is not a best of list, simply because there are plenty of songs I have not heard this year. These are the songs that have grabbed my interest, leading me to listen to them over and over. Hopefully, you will find something to like on the list, as well. PS: I plan on writing a revised list at year’s end.

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My favorite songs of 2010 (so far) Pt. 1

Here is the first of a two-part series containing my favorite songs of 2010 (so far). This is not a best of list, simply because there are plenty of songs I have not heard this year. These are the songs that have grabbed my interest, leading me to listen to them over and over. Hopefully, you will find something to like on the list, as well. PS: The final part of the series, with my favorite 12 songs this year, will be posted later this week. So stay tuned.

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Ray Legend’s Favorite Albums of ’09

I woke up around 8: 30 this morning. I never wake up early on Saturday. The only explanation I can give is it’s a new decade. Maybe that will be my new thing this decade … you know, waking up early, reading a newspaper and drinking a cup of coffee. Then, waving goodbye to the kids as they get on the schoolbus (on weekdays, of course). “Watch for bullies, kids,” I’ll yell. “It’s ok to hit them if they hit you first.” Yeah, that’s called Parenting 101. Teach your kid to be kick-ass and they will kick ass, when the time is right. Speaking of kick-ass — I’m not sure if that’s hyphenated but it’s my blog so I don’t feel like being a grammar Nazi — here are my favorite albums of the year. You know, the albums that would have spent the most time in my car cd player if the bastard wasn’t possessed by a demon and refused to play anything worth hearing.

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Cajun Tomato’s Favorite Songs of ’09

Hi there. Outside my door, a firefight is happening. Or at least it sounds like Fallujah. Not sure if the neighborhood kids are killing each other or just letting off some steam. Either way, sounds like they’re having a blast. The New Year will be here in five hours. Crazy to think. In honor of the New Year, I decided to rank my favorite songs of the year. 2009 was loaded with invigorating music. My goal was to pick my 20 favorite songs. This is not a “best of” list. REPEAT: This is not a “best of” list. Just songs — some mainstream, some obscure — that pleased my eardrums and captured my attention. Hope you enjoy!

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The Rural Alberta Advantage – Hometowns

I’ve never been to Canada. Admittedly, I’ve never had a huge interest in the country, either. It always seemed to me that it was a colder, less powerful, less well-off America. It was above us, just sitting there, watching us, cheering our every move. And that suited my worldview just fine.

Enter Hometowns by The Rural Alberta Advantage, an album released in America this July on Saddle Creek Records. The album’s 13 songs are about the faded luster of hometowns and relationships left behind within them. While there is mentions of towns, such as Alberta and Edmonton, in song titles, the album’s themes of love, loss and longing speak a universal language that holds broad appeal for people, like myself, who know little about Canadian “hometowns.”

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Track Review: “Young Hearts Spark Fire” by Japandroids

NOTE: I hadn’t really given the Japandroids much of a listen until today. This song immediately struck my fancy. In a matter of an hour or two, it has become one of my favorites for this year. I chose to write about what I gleaned from the song’s lyrics rather than the sound because the few words offered provide much to consider. That’s not to say sonically this song doesn’t stack up, because it is thrilling in its own right.

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From the bayou to NYC and beyond, cher.

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