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linden518
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Art Dudley on Costello

The thing I love about AD's columns, more & more, is that he seems to become more idiosyncratic in taste and opinionated with the passage of time. I relished reading him trashing Costello & the fawning music critics in this month's issue, although I think he's off his rockers about Yo La Tengo. But that's precisely the point; even when you disagree with him, you do so in the passion for the music you love (or hate). A lot of times, we can get caught in the gear-geekery (i.e. moi recently, with TTs) and AD's columns kind of snap you back into what's important. (But he's still trippin' about Yo La Tengo).

I also like the fact that he's a reviewer with a guilty conscience, about feeling bad about having to deal with materialist contingencies when reviewing gear. That's so dope, dude. How funny would that be if he read Marx or Adorno in the tiny blue corner behind one of his Audio Notes!

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Re: Art Dudley on Costello

Thanks self/er for starting this thread since now I can take AD to task for trashing EC.

Having been a huge Costello fan since he first hit the scene back in my college radio days I really don't understand Art's negative comments. Sure there is plenty Costello's music that suffers from being too clever but so what, so his lyrics can sometimes go a bit overboard, at least there is something to the lyrics. And why go on to trash Stevie Nieve? In the early days of the Attractions Nieve provided the band with a strong solo voice since Elvis' guitar left (and still leaves) much to be desired. Anyway one should think of Nieve's over the top keyboard work as the perfect compliment to Costello's over the top lyrics. They go together like hand and glove.

Taken as a whole Costello's body of work shows several traits that place him well within the upper tier of rock and popular music's performers: risk taking (The Juliet Letters), reinvention of one's persona (from angry young punk to mature crooner) and the ability to bounce back after being counted out (too numerous to list). Personally I think that Art is just upset and jealous that Elvis is now married to the object of the erotic fantasies so many audiophiles, Diana Krall. (I know it's a cheap shot, but I just couldn't resist )

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Re: Art Dudley on Costello

My generation definitely came after Costello so I'm not such a fan of his, but I always felt that his musical efforts were interesting, although his forays into the classical genre felt misguided to me (and I'm including 'Juliet Letters' here). But the man definitely tries to push the boundaries, and I don't think that kind of ambition is a bad thing. I'd argue that we NEED guys like Costello pushing the boundaries.

The general sense I got from AD's column is that there are certain artists that create music, not with the musician's hat on, but with the critic's. I think that's valid to a point, AD certainly builds a convincing argument. But I think his incrimination is still presumptive by far. Sure there are artists & musicians who do not seem to care about any stream of critical opinion, and there are those who are far more attuned to the critical conversation. I think it's rather reductive to condemn one camp or the other. It's a fine line: what AD sees as pandering to the critical camp may in fact be an artist being daring, refusing the mainstream model, both musically and theoretically. I've no qualms with AD hating the guts out of "Juliet Letters" based on the crappiness of the music. But it almost felt as if AD was playing the psychoanalyst, seeing if Costello made the album to appeal to the "serious critics," if he made the album as a critic, and not as a musician. In the end, that can merely be a speculation at best. If the kind of experimentation made in "Juliet Letters" genuinely excites Costello's intellectual side, who are we to judge the authenticity of his passion? At the end of the day, if you look at the collective body of Costello's output, does it seem fraudulent in intent, somehow "anti-musician, pro-critic"? I don't think so, personally speaking. I'd rather say the opposite is true. (Or, shall I say, his aim is true, nyuk nyuk ) So in that sense, I thought AD's claims were entertaining and passionate, but ultimately flawed & unconvincing.

Still, the column was damn fun to read.

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Re: Art Dudley on Costello

I applaud AD for calling it as he sees it. It's about time someone had the guts to say that Costello's music reeks of pretension and pseudo-intellectualism that is sometimes so far fetched as to leave the audience behind. It's high time that the two holy cows - Elvis Costello and Richard Thompson were to be brought up for the critical slaughter.

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Re: Art Dudley on Costello


Quote:
I applaud AD for calling it as he sees it. It's about time someone had the guts to say that Costello's music reeks of pretension and pseudo-intellectualism that is sometimes so far fetched as to leave the audience behind. It's high time that the two holy cows - Elvis Costello and Richard Thompson were to be brought up for the critical slaughter.

Them's fighting words, my friend. I suppose that you're right. After all, how can Elvis Costello and Richard Thompson dare to compete with all the other lyrical geniuses in rock and popular music, such as Madonna or Bruce Springsteen (otherwise known as Mr. Mumbles). Hasn't Costello received his just rewards by having to open for The Police, another of rock music's great lyrical acts, with such high minded couplets as "Da Do Do Da". And Richard Thompson, a household name if ever there was one, who could probably ride the NYC subway at rush hour without ever being recognized.

Pray tell, what was I thinking in wanting rock music that is intelligent and well played? Does rock music really need anything other than three chords and couple of choruses of "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah"?

I suppose that my passion for jazz, another musical filled with "pretension and pseudo-intellectualism", is also similarly misplaced? Long live Kenny G!!!

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Re: Art Dudley on Costello

In addition to writing interesting songs, Richard Thompson is also a fine guitarist. I only wish that the typical pop/rock performer had such serious chops.

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Re: Art Dudley on Costello


Quote:

Them's fighting words, my friend. I suppose that you're right. After all, how can Elvis Costello and Richard Thompson dare to compete with all the other lyrical geniuses in rock and popular music, such as Madonna or Bruce Springsteen (otherwise known as Mr. Mumbles). Hasn't Costello received his just rewards by having to open for The Police, another of rock music's great lyrical acts, with such high minded couplets as "Da Do Do Da". And Richard Thompson, a household name if ever there was one, who could probably ride the NYC subway at rush hour without ever being recognized.

Pray tell, what was I thinking in wanting rock music that is intelligent and well played? Does rock music really need anything other than three chords and couple of choruses of "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah"?

I suppose that my passion for jazz, another musical filled with "pretension and pseudo-intellectualism", is also similarly misplaced? Long live Kenny G!!!

We don't have to go from one extreme to the other. Just because most of the pop music is performed and written by the brain dead, who are unable to tie two words together doesn't mean that Elvis Costello is anything more than a pretentious pseudo-intellectual. There are a number of really talented people in rock who write poignant lyrics and great music without TRYING to be clever.

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Re: Art Dudley on Costello

Hey, look! A thread about Art's column!

Mission accomplished.

Anyway, to take Art's bait, I like Elvis and Zep. I was unaware that musical affection was a zero sum game.

I also love Richard Thompson, in a healthy, music related way.

Art screwed the dog when opining that Tonio K's "Life in the Food Chain" is not all that.

I've had the lyrics to the title song rattling around in my brain for, lo, these many years.

Which leads me to think about Tonio K's best line from a love song, from the B side to his version of "La Bomba"...

"...Mars needs women, maybe you should apply..."

I was sure he knew the same woman I did at the time.

I do agree that Art seems depressed about something. I hope we don't have to weather his new fascination with mid-century modern blonde furniture and peppermint striped dishware.

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Re: Art Dudley on Costello


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There are a number of really talented people in rock who write poignant lyrics and great music without TRYING to be clever.


Agreed, AlexO. But I also don't think that musicians whose natural talents and proclivities veer toward something more intellectually complex and dense should be penalized for their efforts. Sure they fail sometimes, a lot of times, but automatically assuming they are trying to be "clever" or "pseudo-intellectual" is unfair & reductive, just as assuming the failure of those musicians who write "poignant lyrics" seemingly effortlessly as them being naturally cheesy and completely brainless is reductive.

I think what makes AD's column really great is that it doesn't give a shit about political correctness, and he writes as he sees it. But there's definitely a space for "brainy" musicians, and they shouldn't be penalized for their efforts. Their efforts are not any less sincere than some earnest twanger who is Mr. Sincerity-100%. You can prefer Hemingway's simple, unadorned prose to James Joyce's densely technical wordplay. But it doesn't mean that Joyce is any less of an artist than Hemingway. I don't think this analogue is unsuited to what we're discussing here. There are different perspectives, different criteria by which we listen. If you prefer one perspective over another, hey, that's great; in fact, it would be weird if you didn't listen that way. We hate as much as we love, so it's natural that our listening habits bear out this inclination. But to disregard the other perspective purely based on our own inclination seems like a futile enterprise, no?

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Re: Art Dudley on Costello


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There are a number of really talented people in rock who write poignant lyrics and great music without TRYING to be clever.

Yes, but none of them are married to the object of so many audiophiles' erotic fantasies and thus they do not incur the wrath of pretentious audiophile writers and loyal followers.

And for the record, Costello and Thompson do not try to be clever, they are clever. Proof: Thompson's "Galway To Graceland" and Costello's "Suit of Lights", both tunes feature "poignant lyrics and great music".

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Re: Art Dudley on Costello


Quote:

Agreed, AlexO. But I also don't think that musicians whose natural talents and proclivities veer toward something more intellectually complex and dense should be penalized for their efforts. Sure they fail sometimes, a lot of times, but automatically assuming they are trying to be "clever" or "pseudo-intellectual" is unfair & reductive, just as assuming the failure of those musicians who write "poignant lyrics" seemingly effortlessly as them being naturally cheesy and completely brainless is reductive.

Absolutely. I don't think that musicians should be penalized for being bright and smart and good poets. By the same token, I don't assume that Elvis Costello is trying to be clever. He's got a big enough body of work, most of which just plains sucks.

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Re: Art Dudley on Costello

"We don't have to go from one extreme to the other. Just because most of the pop music is performed and written by the brain dead, who are unable to tie two words together doesn't mean that Elvis Costello is anything more than a pretentious pseudo-intellectual. There are a number of really talented people in rock who write poignant lyrics and great music without TRYING to be clever."

But Alex- exactly how can you tell the difference between a "real" intellectual and a pseudo one? If it even matters, I'd say Costello is the real deal and like Jazzfan said, maybe over reaches on occasion. But to say the bulk of ECs catalogue sucks when he is appreciated by such a wide range of music lovers might just point to the premise as to whether he's just "not to your taste." There are plenty of musicians I basically just don't get- or relate to, but I can at least get that they have something going on as far as talent. I definitely can't relate to the (to me) overly clever lyrics of the lead singer of The Magnetic Fields, but he obviously is talented and has a respected following.

Also, I don't think EC almost ever was trying to go for poignant- a little sad sometimes, usually biting, and often very funny and just fun. my 2 cents.

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Re: Art Dudley on Costello


Quote:

But Alex- exactly how can you tell the difference between a "real" intellectual and a pseudo one?

It's sort of like porn: I know it when I see it.

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Re: Art Dudley on Costello


Quote:

Quote:

But Alex- exactly how can you tell the difference between a "real" intellectual and a pseudo one?

It's sort of like porn: I know it when I see it.


That analogy doesn't say anything; in fact, you're proving Doug's point. For all I know, you're big into leather S&M scenes, but for some people, only way that's 'real' is as in 'real' stupid. See what I mean? You think you're the authority, but you're not, according to others. You may get your rocks off leather-play, whereas some others might get that from other things. You may think Costello is terrible instinctively, but it may be your instincts that are off in the first place.

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Re: Art Dudley on Costello


Quote:

Quote:

But Alex- exactly how can you tell the difference between a "real" intellectual and a pseudo one?

It's sort of like porn: I know it when I see it.

Wow, he can tell if someone's an 'intellectual' just by looking!

I got out of jury duty that way one time. Told the judge, "Your honor, I'd love to be on a jury. I can tell ya if someone's guilty just by looking at him!"

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Re: Art Dudley on Costello


Quote:

I got out of jury duty that way one time. Told the judge, "Your honor, I'd love to be on a jury. I can tell ya if someone's guilty just by looking at him!"

Everyone can do that. What makes you so special?


Quote:

That analogy doesn't say anything; in fact, you're proving Doug's point. For all I know, you're big into leather S&M scenes, but for some people, only way that's 'real' is as in 'real' stupid. See what I mean? You think you're the authority, but you're not, according to others. You may get your rocks off leather-play, whereas some others might get that from other things. You may think Costello is terrible instinctively, but it may be your instincts that are off in the first place.

Whoa! Leather and whips and chains?? We only met once, I think introducing leather into our relationship is rather premature.

Seriously though, in a way, you are correct in that it is my tastes and my instincts dictate as to whether or not I find Costello's music poignant. Yet, whereas there's no measurable criteria for critiquing music and art, there is a criteria, however intangible that allows music critics to critique and laymen to agree or disagree.

So, if you're looking for some objective measure that would make me prove my point as to whether EC is poignant or just pretentious, I can't produce it. Ultimately, it is a matter of taste. So, objectively speaking, EC is neither good nor bad. He only appeals to certain tastes.

What I celebrate about AD's column is his courage to say that as far as he's concerned, EC isn't all that. EC just like Richard Thompson has become the sacred cow of the musical world - musicians that are beyond critique, musicians that can do no wrong. AD, not unlike the kid in "Emperor's New Clothes" states the obvious: EC sucks. Perhaps not objectively, but subjectively to many, many people. The kinds of people who aren't stupid, not the people who "don't get it", but people who are intelligent enough to get it, who do get it, but don't like it none the less..

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Re: Art Dudley on Costello

Emperor's new clothes?

But Elvis is King of America!

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Re: Art Dudley on Costello

You see? That's exactly what I mean! Look at how pretentious that is!

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Re: Art Dudley on Costello


Quote:
Ultimately, it is a matter of taste. So, objectively speaking, EC is neither good nor bad. He only appeals to certain tastes.

What I celebrate about AD's column is his courage to say that as far as he's concerned, EC isn't all that. EC just like Richard Thompson has become the sacred cow of the musical world - musicians that are beyond critique, musicians that can do no wrong. AD, not unlike the kid in "Emperor's New Clothes" states the obvious: EC sucks. Perhaps not objectively, but subjectively to many, many people. The kinds of people who aren't stupid, not the people who "don't get it", but people who are intelligent enough to get it, who do get it, but don't like it none the less..


I get this explanation. I did enjoy AD throwing the proverbial molotov cocktails at EC, as I said, even when I didn't agree with his rationale. I think we need more of this kind of passionate, polarizing articles, not just in Stereophile but elsewhere, too. It's good for music.

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Re: Art Dudley on Costello


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You see? That's exactly what I mean! Look at how pretentious that is!


He's got a point.

I'm not crazy about EC, but I can appreciate what he is up to. Diana's work for the most part is simply boring - whether she is cute or not.

Thompson I get. Great turns of phrase. And he can be a bit creepy. His cover of "Ooops, I did it Again" is amazing. It isn't a cute Pop Tart's song in his hands.

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Re: Art Dudley on Costello

AlexO-

I have previously written at medium length about seeing Elvis Costello on the This Year's Model Tour in 1975 at the Santa Monica Civic auditorium. It was a ferocious and stunning performance steeped in the social anger of the Vietnam/Nixon era. His songs about the politics of power and human relationships were revolutionary and he has remained evolutionary in his vision and songcraft.

Art Dudley was simply off the mark by a mile.

I don't think you have the experience, perspective or context to appreciate or judge EC's work.

Stick with porn and the discount bins. Elvis is too rich for your blood.

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Re: Art Dudley on Costello


Quote:
AlexO-

Art Dudley was simply off the mark by a mile.

According to whom? To you? Perhaps. From my point of view, AD hit the nail right on the head


Quote:
I don't think you have the experience, perspective or context to appreciate or judge EC's work.

Stick with porn and the discount bins. Elvis is too rich for your blood.

How would you know what type of experience I have and what qualifies you to judge what I can and cannot appreciate? This is exactly the type of pretentious and presumptuous bullshit that I'm talking about: The self proclaimed experts presenting musical royalty to the uninitiated. Alas, the king is naked.

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Re: Art Dudley on Costello

Perhaps we are going about this discussion all wrong.

Elvis Costello is not pretentious, what EC is a music listener who chooses to wear his musical likes and dislikes right out on his sleeve. It is this trait that so endears him with music critics (who also happen to be music listeners who choose to wear their musical likes and dislikes right out on their sleeves). By the way, the same thing can be said for Richard Thompson. So when Costello goes and records an album and does a tour with someone like Allen Toussaint all the critics go crazy because for years they have been screaming at the public to stop ignoring people like Toussaint.

I don't hold it against a performer when they are self absorbed assholes who know little to nothing about the history of music and the many performers who have proceeded them so why should I hold it against a performer who is well aware of musical history and their place within the general scheme of things.

Elvis is simply doing as a performer what many of us do as listeners - he refuses to be pigeonholed into one type of music. If AD feels that Elvis' early work is dated and sounds tired thirty years later, then how does he think Elvis feels about the same work; especially after having to perform the music night after night after so many years?

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Re: Art Dudley on Costello


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Elvis Costello is not pretentious, what EC is a music listener who chooses to wear his musical likes and dislikes right out on his sleeve.


Excellent observation.

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Re: Art Dudley on Costello


Quote:
Perhaps we are going about this discussion all wrong.

Elvis Costello is not pretentious, what EC is a music listener who chooses to wear his musical likes and dislikes right out on his sleeve. It is this trait that so endears him with music critics (who also happen to be music listeners who choose to wear their musical likes and dislikes right out on their sleeves). By the way, the same thing can be said for Richard Thompson. So when Costello goes and records an album and does a tour with someone like Allen Toussaint all the critics go crazy because for years they have been screaming at the public to stop ignoring people like Toussaint.

Fine, so EC has what critics consider good taste in music and he promotes the act that they tend to like. So what? How does that enhance his own work?


Quote:
I don't hold it against a performer when they are self absorbed assholes who know little to nothing about the history of music and the many performers who have proceeded them so why should I hold it against a performer who is well aware of musical history and their place within the general scheme of things.

You're absolutely right. You should not hold it against them, but the work has to speak for itself. If EC were to become a music teacher, I would be one of the first to sing his praises.


Quote:

Elvis is simply doing as a performer what many of us do as listeners - he refuses to be pigeonholed into one type of music. If AD feels that Elvis' early work is dated and sounds tired thirty years later, then how does he think Elvis feels about the same work; especially after having to perform the music night after night after so many years?

That's all well and good except that his work is overrated. The whole doesn't equal to the sum of its parts. When the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, we celebrate that work as a masterpiece. In EC's case, the whole doesn't measure up to the sum of its parts. At least in my, porn appreciative opinion.

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That's all well and good except that his work is overrated. The whole doesn't equal to the sum of its parts. When the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, we celebrate that work as a masterpiece. In EC's case, the whole doesn't measure up to the sum of its parts. At least in my, porn appreciative opinion.

Alright Alex, let's agree to disagree, at least until Sir Art decides to take some pot shots at one of your sacred cows, whoever they may be.

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Alas, the king is naked.

Alas? I'd think that puts him right in your wheelhouse!

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Re: Art Dudley on Costello

I saw EC on Tuesday, when he opened for the Police in Philadelphia.

He was good, despite the worst sound I have *ever* heard at a live musical performance. I really got the impression he didn't soundcheck-- the reverb on his guitar amp was cranked up on the stage, and combined with the echo produced by playing in a hockey arena, it was hard to even figure out which song he was playing until I put an earplug in one ear to cancel out the echo.

The Police were excellent. Andy Summers has turned into one hell of a guitar player in his middle age.

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Re: Art Dudley on Costello


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Hasn't Costello received his just rewards by having to open for The Police, another of rock music's great lyrical acts, with such high minded couplets as "Da Do Do Da".



Quote:

Pray tell, what was I thinking in wanting rock music that is intelligent and well played? Does rock music really need anything other than three chords and couple of choruses of "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah"?



Quote:

Elvis Costello is not pretentious, what EC is a music listener who chooses to wear his musical likes and dislikes right out on his sleeve. It is this trait that so endears him with music critics (who also happen to be music listeners who choose to wear their musical likes and dislikes right out on their sleeves). By the way, the same thing can be said for Richard Thompson. So when Costello goes and records an album and does a tour with someone like Allen Toussaint all the critics go crazy because for years they have been screaming at the public to stop ignoring people like Toussaint.


Quote:
I saw EC on Tuesday, when he opened for the Police in Philadelphia.


Quote:

The Police were excellent. Andy Summers has turned into one hell of a guitar player in his middle age.

I find all of this very ironic.

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Re: Art Dudley on Costello

Actually I've been thinking maybe it's better to be pseudo-intellectual than a real one, since true intellectuals rarely have much fun. Either stuffed into a locker, hanging out with other dorks in the basement, or plotting violent revolution... When you're pseudo you know when to stop taking it all so seriously- which probably is what this discussion needs to do.

I'd also like to know Alex if, given your example of "knowing porn when you see it" if there is such a thing as pseudo porn? In many cases soft core may well be considered more interesting and enticing precisely due to the aspect that it's not ALL up front and, ahem, center.

"String a violin too tight and the strings break; too loose and it won't play. This is the way of the Middle Path"

The Buddha (no, not the one of these forums, although he's cool too)

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Re: Art Dudley on Costello


Quote:

I'd also like to know Alex if, given your example of "knowing porn when you see it" if there is such a thing as pseudo porn?

Funny you should say that. I was watching this Z-rate movie on HBO or Showtime some years back and it was trying to be a T&A type of flick, but I guess they either didn't have money or due to some contractual something or other, the girls in the "shower scene" wore bikinis. I immediately recognized "pseudo-porn".

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Quote:
Actually I've been thinking maybe it's better to be pseudo-intellectual than a real one, since true intellectuals rarely have much fun. Either stuffed into a locker, hanging out with other dorks in the basement, or plotting violent revolution... When you're pseudo you know when to stop taking it all so seriously- which probably is what this discussion needs to do.

I'd also like to know Alex if, given your example of "knowing porn when you see it" if there is such a thing as pseudo porn? In many cases soft core may well be considered more interesting and enticing precisely due to the aspect that it's not ALL up front and, ahem, center.

"String a violin too tight and the strings break; too loose and it won't play. This is the way of the Middle Path"

The Buddha (no, not the one of these forums, although he's cool too)

I get your drift, db- but in reality pseudo-intellectuals fear real intellectuals. The first thing Hitler (and other despots) did was round up all the intellectuals and execute them.

I think of our diverse group as semi-, quasi- or crypto-intellectual. I'd explain that but it would make me sound too serious.

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I think of our diverse group as semi-, quasi- or crypto-intellectual. I'd explain that but it would make me sound too serious.

Why do so many threads just end up with name calling?

I don't want to be "crypto" anything, let alone "semi-, quasi- or crypto-intellectual".

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Why do so many threads just end up with name calling?

I was just thinking that last night. I don't know if this is strictly an American phenomenon or if the internet forums attract a certain type of people, but it seems that people can't have a discussion and genuinely disagree with each other without resorting to childish behaviors.

BTW, your mamma wears army boots.

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BTW, your mamma wears army boots.

Indeed she does, Oliver's Army boots while she's watching the detectives solve the crimes of Paris.

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Re: Art Dudley on Costello

NICE! Yo mamma's mighty cool.

rvance
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Joined: Sep 8 2007 - 9:58am
Re: Art Dudley on Costello


Quote:

Quote:
BTW, your mamma wears army boots.

Indeed she does, Oliver's Army boots while she's watching the detectives solve the crimes of Paris.

...while sitting in her blue chair wearing her green shirt.

dbowker
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Joined: May 8 2007 - 6:37am
Re: Art Dudley on Costello


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Quote:
I think of our diverse group as semi-, quasi- or crypto-intellectual. I'd explain that but it would make me sound too serious.

Why do so many threads just end up with name calling?

I don't want to be "crypto" anything, let alone "semi-, quasi- or crypto-intellectual".

HAHAHA- well I don't think he meant any offence, but while we're at it- why not add Cro-magno-intellectual to that list? I don't want to be any of those things so much as be thoughtful, intelligent and open-minded. Not a popular stance any more, much to the detriment of reasonable discussion.

jazzfan
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Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 8:55am
Re: Art Dudley on Costello


Quote:
I don't want to be any of those things so much as be thoughtful, intelligent and open-minded.

Hey db,

Speak for yourself, just don't drag me down there with you.

This discussion is beyond belief and as a boy with a problem I want to vanish because it's getting mighty crowded here in clubland.

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