Feb. 11th, 2009

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I just submitted a couple of panel ideas to the SwanCon site. Thought I'd post 'em here to promote awareness and perhaps get some feedback.

Changing the Heroes

Across their personal storyarcs, many of the characters of Heroes tend to be morally fluid - with heroes falling from grace to become villains, villains facing moral crises that lead to self-doubt, characters making decisions which lead them down uncertain pathways, and some simply never shifting away from moral ambiguity. Are these character transitions plausible and elegant, and what do we, the viewers, think of the methods the writers are using to enact them?


TV series Lost is scheduled to conclude after two "mini seasons" of 17 episodes each (the first of which recently commenced in the US). In recent times, the show has arguably gained a newfound sense of direction, and this definite time limit suggests that The Survivors and Others are finally headed towards some sort of climactic endgame. This panel will encourage open discussion on the current and previous seasons, as well as speculation on future events.

I don't think we've had panels specifically about either of these shows at a previous SwanCon, although I could be mistaken. I suck at panel titles, so any suggestions of better titles are welcome.
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The Cracow Klezmer Band - De Profundis

I'm afraid I'm a bit clueless when it comes to specifics of the klezmer genre, so I'll quote Wikipedia for this one: "Klezmer is a musical tradition which parallels Hasidic and Ashkenazic Judaism". Basically, if you imagine the sort of music you'd think of when someone says "stereotypically 'Yiddish-sounding' music" you'd be on the right track. What I can say with authority is that this is really beautiful music. De Profundis boasts plenty of emotional pull, and some of the higher string sections in particular are utterly haunting.


Shellac - 1000 Hurts
(math-rock, noise-rock)

On 1000 Hurts, Steve Albini's brand of crunchy math-rock is creative, humourous, visceral and totally unrestrained. The album is double-bookended by it's best tracks ("Prayer to God", "Squirrel Song", "Shoe Song" and "Watch Song"), but it's all really great stuff, punchy and immediate throughout. The lyrics to "Prayer to God" are some of the most intense and darkly amusing you'll ever hear, while Albini's manic cries at the beginning and end of "Squirrel Song" - "This is a sad fuckin' song. We'll be lucky if I don't bust out crying!" and (after describing what sounds like some sort of large scale squirrel invasion) "This isn't some kind of metaphor, Goddamn, this is real!" - are downright classic.


Einst├╝rzende Neubauten - Silence is Sexy
(minimalism, experimental, pseudo-industrial)

Einst├╝rzende Neubauten's eighth release is one of those albums that's incredibly tricky to pigeonhole - a mixture of subdued industrial instrumentation and spoken work vocals, delivered via a minimalist aesthetic and a highly experimental mindset. Silence is Sexy is occasionally creepy, but it's also injected with wry humour and a sense of playfulness that gives it a really accessible feel. Very creative and highly engaging.


Neko Case and Her Boyfriends - Furnace Room Lullaby

Alt-country that's delivered with real gusto and confidence, with exceptional musicianship throughout. Case's vocal is a pretty amazing display of emotional range and control, hauntingly tender on the softer moments but booming with conviction on the big notes, with songwriting that shows an impressive command of the craft. Despite its modernisation of the country sound, there's something undeniably old-fashioned and authentic at Furnace Room Lullaby's core, making it the sort of album that'll easily trigger feelings of wistful nostalgia in anyone who has a soft spot for the twangy stuff.


Reflection Eternal (Talib Kweli & DJ Hi-Tek) - Train of Thought

Train of Thought is one of the most well-balanced hip-hop albums I've ever heard. Even across a very generous 20 tracks, Talib Kweli and DJ Hi-Tek keep the album constantly engaging and entertaining, avoiding the kind of dips all too common in albums of this length. Hi-Tek's production is admirably solid, with his beats providing a solid backbone upon which the songs are built. There's no doubting, though, that Kweli's rapping absolutely steals the show here, with his memorable lyrics and expert wordplay making for one of the most creative and professional performances the genre has to offer.


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