Durrell Bowman – Rural & Suburban Mail Carrier (on-call) and Recovering Academic (Ph.D. in Musicology, etc.)

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Conference Paper – Rush’s “Hemispheres” – Progect 2021

Here’s a link to my online conference paper bio, abstract, and video for “Rush’s ‘Hemispheres’: Uniting Heard and Mind (and Progressive Rock with Heavy Metal)”. May 2021 Progect Conference, hosted by the University of Ottawa.

https://progectconference2.wixsite.com/website-5/durrell-bowman

Abstract:

If progressive rock and heavy metal sometimes appropriate ideas from classical music—instead of, say, the blues—would that be enough to explain their appeal? Of course not. If they’re often musically and lyrically “complex,” are these complexities straightforwardly more so than the underlying grooves and vocal practices of funk and hip hop? Well … no. On the other hand, even though they may not reach a particularly diverse audience, progressive rock and heavy metal actually espoused eclecticism right from the start. 

The Canadian rock band Rush (1968-2018)—one of the godfathers of progressive metal—would not have developed an eccentric, eclectic progressive/hard style without the example of musicianly progressive rock from 1969-77. However, the band’s music also relates to the influence of blues-oriented hard rock and power-oriented heavy metal from the same period. Rush’s 1978 album Hemispheres begins with its title-track, and with it the band provided its last of three album-side-length compositions. “Hemispheres” establishes a conflict between the left (thought or “reason-oriented”) and right (emotion or “feelings-oriented”) halves of the human brain. The band anthropomorphizes these according to classical/mythological references to the gods Apollo and Dionysus, respectively. 

The paper explores the large-scale design of Rush’s “Hemispheres,” including its sections, form, metrical construction (including 12/8 and 7/8), lyrical features, and tonal complexities. The latter include extended chords, inversions, cross-relations, chromaticism, modes, ambiguous progressions, and various solutions to a particular cadential figure. Among other things, Rush uses nearly identical music to equate a pair of extended lyrical frames as equally inadequate ideologically. The band then converges on additional musical and lyrical frames that themselves become a reconciliation. In this manner, Rush mythologizes the post-counterculture of needing to unite heart and mind into something new.

Academic Work for Free

Spending hundreds of hours every year doing academic work on book chapters, journal articles, and conference papers when I don’t even have an academic job — and am thus doing it all for free — is highly exploitative. So, after my current projects wrap up in the next couple of months, I’m not going to do these things anymore. I want to do more academic research and writing, but the system is not set up to pay anyone directly. That needs to change.

Vaccines and Politicians

People with certain pre-existing medical conditions are three or more times as likely as the general public to die from COVID-19 once infected. (Don’t worry: I’m not infected.) All levels of government in Canada are doing terribly at dealing with the vaccines.

I get that seniors need to be the priority after frontline health-care workers and long-term care residents. However, Pfizer and Moderna have flagrantly reneged on signed agreements for delivery schedules, and things are now being delayed by weeks or months, especially for the rest of us.

So, politicians need to do something about the unexpected changes to the vaccine roll-out. I’ve been led to believe that some of them were even trained as lawyers, but I’m now guessing they became politicians because they were actually pretty bad at it.

Follow-up: It took until April 20, 2021 to get a vaccine, which was dose 1 of AstraZeneca.

“Cut Every Corner: Intertextuality and Parody in the Music of The Simpsons” (journal article)

My journal article, “Cut Every Corner: Intertextuality and Parody in the Music of The Simpsons,” appears in the 2020 “Parody: Intertextuality and Music” issue of MUSICultures.

https://journals.lib.unb.ca/index.php/MC/article/view/31402

“Shary Bobbins”
“Cut Every Corner”
MUSICultures, Vol. 47 (2020)

Abstract

This article reworks ideas about parody, postmodernism, and television from such critical and cultural theorists as Linda Hutcheon, Jason Mittell, and Jonathan Gray to contextualize the wide variety of parody and intertextuality in the music of the animated TV show The Simpsons. It explores several categories of the show’s music, such as: variations of cartoon themes, songs, instrumental underscoring, and guest musicians. This article particularly uses specific episodes of The Simpsons to highlight parodies of the show’s own theme, movie music, themes from other TV shows, and so on. The show’s music thus functions as a kind of court jester or king’s fool.

Academic Research and Writing

Of the eighteen people contributing to the forthcoming Cambridge University Press book on progressive rock, sixteen are university-affiliated academics (so it would be reasonable for them to expect to do such things as a part of their employment), one is VP of Education at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, and one is a computer technology order support specialist making the equivalent of about $11 U.S. per hour. Guess which one resents doing academic research and writing for free, given that it has nothing to do with his employment?

The Piranha Scholar

[With all due apologies to Monty Python!:]

Denied the opportunity to use his talents in the paid service of his profession, the unaffiliated musicologist began to operate what he called ‘The Operation’… He would select a book or journal editor and then threaten not to send in his chapter or article if they paid him. Four months later, he started another operation, which he called ‘The Other Operation.’ In this racket, he selected another victim and threatened to send in his work if they didn’t pay him. One month later, he hit upon ‘The Other Other Operation’. In this, the victim was threatened that if they didn’t pay him, he wouldn’t send in his work. This, for the unaffiliated musicologist, was the turning point.

The Piranha Brothers (Monty Python, 1970)
The Piranha Brothers (“Ethel the Frog,” Monty Python’s Flying Circus, 1970)

Is It Time for a Guaranteed Annual Income?

With millions of people applying for government support and millions more (like me) still earning non-living wages to provide “essential” services, it is time for Canada to have a guaranteed annual income. Give every adult $2000 a month from now on. Make it taxable, so people who already earn a lot don’t get to keep much of it. Cut the red tape. Cut the bureaucracy. Easily cover the cost by cutting the costs of having to run so many different government programs (EI, CPP, OAS, GIS, CERB, CESB, provincial welfare and disability systems, etc.).

Replacing Phoenix

I’m glad that the Canadian government is finally replacing the Phoenix pay system. On my eight-month Master of Library & Information Science co-op placement at the Parks Canada National Library in 2017, it seriously messed up my pay. They’re replacing it with something from Germany-based company SAP. However, as someone who now uses SAP’s incredibly complex main product every day at work, I have to wonder if they can really build a system that will make sense. Part of the problem with Phoenix is that the necessary training by IBM to use it correctly was simply never done. Hopefully, SAP can build something that won’t require much training and that will just work.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/phoenix-pay-system-replacement-sap-1.5488435

Meta Plow

Hilariously, these several plow-dudes plowed their way to work this morning in their snow-plow-fitted pickup trucks and then switched over to their industrial-strength snow plows.

“Meta Plow, that’s their name; that name again is Meta Plow.”