Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Oprah’s Audience Loses It (Again)

I don’t know how to rectify my antipathy towards Oprah with my adoration for the woman. Her pseudo-spiritual, self-help, consumer-is-king unapologetic-ness wears on me. But she has done amazing things for the publishing industry, so she ain’t all bad.

Yesterday her favorite things schtick reached an apex. I can’t help but crack up at her audience’s reaction to the announcement that they would receive the biggest and best of Oprah’s Favorite Things.

Reminds me of Sarah Palin and Tina Fey’s impression of Palin; in my mind, I can’t separate Oprah’s real audience crying, hugging, and pentecostal zeal from the Saturday Night Live skit in which her audience member’s head explodes from excitement.


Filed under: comedy, consumerism, pop culture, television, , , , , , , , ,

Michael Jackson’s “Breaking News”

I’m an unapologetic fan of The King of Pop. When I was a kid, I remember my role as the president of the Lewis and Clark Elementary School Breakdancing Club. Don’t tell me I wasn’t rocking those parachute pants and red zippered jacket.

When Jackson died last summer, I grieved half-jokingly, half-seriously, with the interns in my office and tried to explain the real significance of Thriller–its newness, its vitality, its boundary-crossing racial implications–when it first exploded in the 80s. The key was to ignore the crazy. Despite dangling his baby over the hotel balcony, and altering his face to extremes, the man was a genius–an artist doomed by his childhood success. With that kind of fame so early in life, who wouldn’t slip into fantasy worlds?

“Breaking News” is Michael Jackson’s first posthumously released single, recorded in 2007. The song sounds like Jackson in his Bad days: lots of sampling, driving rhythms, and Jackson’s trademark howl.

The cover art, designed by painter Kadir Nelson last year, seems an homage to the playful collage art in the Beatles’ legendary albums–though with a serious spin. According to Sony: “In the oil painting, Kadir – who is known for story telling through his art – takes us on a journey through some key moments and important people in Michael Jackson’s life.”

Long live the King of Pop!

Filed under: music, pop culture, race, , , , , , ,

What Motivates You?

Dan Pink explains it all for you. Think money’s the best motivator? That the bigger the reward, the better the performance?

Autonomy, mastery, sense of purpose: research shows that these oftentimes undervalued notions are greater incentivizers than simple cash. From studies on some smart kids at M.I.T. to the purpose-filled mission of the founder of Skype, the ability to work under one’s own direction–or the joy in accomplishing a task (no matter if it’s brain surgery or fixing a drain)–or the sense that our work results in more than a simple monetary equivalent: Pink notes that autonomy, mastery, and sense of purpose are far more powerful tools of motivation than either the carrot or the stick.

One of my favorite bits in Pink’s talk is the anecdote about software developers who are given free reign over their project, their collaborators, their time management–as long as they can present the fruit of their labor within 24 hours.

This lively animated video, courtesy of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, is only one of their fantastic archive (I love the British organization’s tagline: “21st century enlightenment”). Great ideas presented in a lively, eye-catching form.

Filed under: business, labor, pop culture, science, work, , , , , , , , , ,

McDonald’s is Scary and Intoxicating

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Frightening photos, one per day, of a McDonald’s Happy Meal over the course of six months.

Artist Sally Davies tried a little experiment from the coffee table of her Manhattan apartment in April of this year. No mold or signs of life blemishing this food during the entire time-lapse project. Scary to watch. Makes you think twice before enjoying that addictive slab of factory-processed meat and genetically-modified potato.

Or does it?


Filed under: food, health, pop culture, , , , ,

Banksy Critiques The Simpsons

Powerhouse political artist/activist Banksy reimagined the iconic intro to The Simpsons last night. The clip starts innocuously enough, the idiot bullies lopping the head off a Springfield statue and rodents running across the landscape.

However, at the end of the intro, when Homer is pushed through the Simpsons’ garage into the family room, the ordinary tableau of the animated family in front of the TV abruptly shifts to a dark critique of commercialization: animators pushing out animated stills, factory-like; Simpsons dolls stuffed with rat guts; and a deflated unicorn (absurd and heartbreaking at the same time) being abused by a worker producing empty entertainment.

Nice to see that the creators of The Simpsons are once unafraid to critique the structures they work within.

Filed under: culture, entertainment, pop culture, television, , , , ,



» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
March 2018
« Jul    


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About Me


About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More