Saturday, December 15, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
This was not a great season -- cycle two (Yoanna/Shandi/Mercedes/Xiomara/TinyJenascia) remains the pinnacle, with cycle seven (CariDee, Melrose and the twins) high up there. But even a pretty-good season of TyraMail is better than most other reality shows.
Leaving aside the fact that, as our children all know, it's not a box, the FX World is a cold and uninviting place. Witness a typical Saturday in this dystopia: You wake up and tap a barrel of Special K for breakfast over the newspaper, where you read that Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg have been arrested for indecency. You drive down to your local big-pile store, where you buy some gifts, including the Wire: Season 4 bagged set. In the afternoon, you spend some quality time reading to your kids, puzzling over the enduring appeal of a story about a behatted feline who unseals a burlap sack to release the bloodied and exhausted Thing One and the wet carcass of Thing Two. After making a coinpurse of Annie's Organic Arthuroni Mac + Cheese for the kids and tucking them in for the night, you settle down with a sack of Franzia for the Mayweather-Hatton slapping match. Ah, slapping -- the sweet science.
“I saw my rock-and-roll past flash before my eyes. And I saw something else: I saw rock-and-roll’s future and its name is Bruce Springsteen. And on a night when I needed to feel young, he made me feel like I was hearing music for the very first time.”
When I was volunteering at my son’s school recess on Wednesday I saw something similar. It began like something you’d see in grainy black and white footage documenting the early days of Beatlemania. The vast majority of the third grade came out of the building in a screaming pack. Soon I noticed that they all appeared to be chasing a boy named Isaac.
I started to worry about the safety of Isaac and the other kids. I asked my son Liam what was going on. “Isaac promised us that he would sing at recess!” he replied.
Eventually the crowd more or less calmed down. Isaac and a few other children hopped up on the edge of one of the circular cement planters. Holding his hand near his mouth as if he were holding a microphone, one lad yelled “Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for my friend and the world’s greatest singer, Isaac!” Isaac sang! I confess that I couldn’t make out the words well enough to tell you what song he was singing, but he clearly had the crowd in the palm of his hand. Then a few other kids sang.
The highlight of the scene for me took place when it was a boy named Alex’s turn to sing. He started with an apology. “I’m just going to sing the chorus of this next song.” Then, with a dashing smile like an altar boy doing something the nuns might not approve of, he announced “I’m gonna sing a song by the group Kiss.”
He began to sing in a clear and melodic voice:
“I wanna rock and roll all night and party every day
I wanna rock and roll all night and party every day”
The crowd started to clap their hands in time to the music with their hands above their heads. A moment later about 60 3rd graders were singing along at the top of their lungs:
“I wanna rock and roll all night and party every day
I wanna rock and roll all night and party every day”
As the song petered out, the crowd gave Alex a huge round of applause. The bell announcing the end of recess rang.
To paraphrase Landau’s august pronouncement, these children made me feel like I was hearing music for the very first time.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Also: "I've made more bad decisions at 3 o'clock in the morning than I can count." Thank you, Tim.
Here's VH1's top 10 list:
1. Nirvana - Smells Like Teen SpiritAnd here was our user-generated list from back in September:
2. U2 - One
3. Backstreet Boys - I Want It That Way
4. Whitney Houston - I Will Always Love You
5. Madonna - Vogue
6. Sir Mix-A-Lot - Baby Got Back
7. Britney Spears - ...Baby One More Time
8. TLC - Waterfalls
9. R.E.M. - Losing My Religion
10. Sinéad O'Connor - Nothing Compares 2 U
1. One by U2 (VH1 rank--2)
2. Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana (1)
2. Losing My Religion by R.E.M. (9)
4. You Oughta Know by Alanis Morissette (12)
5. Jeremy by Pearl Jam (11)
5. Nothing Compares 2 U by Sinead O'Connor (10)
7. Loser by Beck (22)
7. Groove Is in the Heart by DeeeLite (67)
7. I'm Just a Girl by No Doubt (NR)
7. Buddy Holly by Weezer (59)
- Leonard Cohen ("Hallelujah," "Everybody Knows")
- The Ventures ("Theme From Hawaii Five-O")
- The Dave Clark Five
- Little Walter ("sideman" category, blues harmonica player)
- Gamble & Huff (producers behind the Philadelphia International label)
(Not making the cut? Afrika Bambatta, Beastie Boys, Chic, and Donna Summer)
**Actual list, according to the wires, which will please many here: Amy Adams, "Enchanted"; Nikki Blonsky, "Hairspray"; Helena Bonham Carter, "Sweeney Todd"; Marion Cotillard, "La Vie En Rose"; Ellen Page, "Juno."
My question, prompted by the chance viewing of a photograph this week: will the list include Willie Mays? I know that picture was taken before modern steroids were synthesized, but willya look at those guns?
In conclusion, steroids, yay.
edited by Adam, 11:50am:
1:45p: The media source is no longer standing behind that list.
2:15p: Here's the Report. There is no "list" -- you'll have to search through it. Many of the neames on that initial list do not appear here, including Pujols. Roger Clemens and Andy Pettite, however ...
2:47p: Deadspin does the work for you. Here's the list.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Hair: The masterpiece of a talented and extravagantly angry wig stylist
Signature runway move: Dimple + shrug
Personal journey: Arrived looking like the model-equivalent of a litter of puppies stapled to a kitten hanging from a tree that has been trimmed to resemble a baby in an Anne Geddes photograph. For undisclosed crime, was sentenced to a season wearing the scalp of Dorothy Hamill. Judges felt that ugly hair and occasional jumping completed transition from "commercial" to "edgy/high-fashion" (the latter being another way of saying "ugly").
Most likely signature sponsor: Pottery Barn Kids
Will not win because of: Commerciality, hair
Will win because of: Best remaining spokesmodel (then again, Danielle and Jaslene have won, so this doesn't matter), Tyra's pending adoption of her, Cover Girl acceptability
Hair: Ivana Trump circa 1982
Signature runway move: Self-gratification
Personal journey: Declared self the best model; never wavered; never once wiped bangs from eyes
Most likely signature sponsor: Ford concept car, 2009 Detroit Auto Show
Will not win because of: Thorough ordinariness, no story arc
Will win because of: Judicial indifference, accident
Hair: Unfurled steel-wool weave, painted with yellow Hi-Lighter pen
Signature runway move: Violent head-swivel, self-doubt-and-pivot
Personal journey: Started strong, but finished strong in a way that made judges doubt commitment and fortitude
Most likely signature sponsor: Bausch & Lomb Specialty Extra-Large Contact Lenses for the Bug-Eyed
Will not win because of: Poor judgment in obtaining tooth extensions; insufficient supplication to Tyra
Will win because of: General modeling aptitude when teeth are concealed
Edited to add: Eh. Girls, never ever ever forget: Once Tyra eats your tears, she has no more use for you.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
- Never led a book club;
- Never participated in a book club;
- Never led a club;
- Most serious literary analysis performed: English 129, 1988-89 (note: faked way through Ulysses);
- Occasionally read slowly
- Have read book
I'd like to do this discussion in two parts: Pi's actual journey, and then his spiritual journey. Man and earth first, then God and heaven. Or, for you lawyers out there, the facts now, the holding later.
Martel tells us a number of times, in a number of subtle and not-subtle ways, that Pi's narrative is not going to be entirely straightforward. He gives us an introduction that is mostly-fiction, but part real. On the very first page of that introduction, Martel (or "Yann Martel") tells us that "the word bamboozle was my one preparation for the rich, noisy, functioning madness of India," and whatever we think of Pi's story, it's clear that we're being bamboozled. Near the end of the introduction, he promises inaccuracies, but -- playfully, or perhaps ironically? -- invokes the literary acknowledger's boilerplate disclaimer that any such inaccuracies "are mine." In Chapter 96 of the book, Pi himself gives two possible versions of the story, one improbable and the other gruesome, and on re-reading, one might notice some of the other hints Martel has dropped about the different picture one can get by observing details carefully:
This house is more than a box full of icons. I start noticing small signs of conjugal existence. They were there all along, but I hadn't seen them because I wasn't looking for them.Before we can pick the better story, we have to know our choices. So put on your Japanese Transport Ministry badge and tell me, what exactly did happen on that lifeboat in those 227 days? Pi gives us two options: A tiger, an orangatan, a zebra, a boy, and a blind Frenchman; or a cook, a sailor, a mother, and a boy. I say that there are more options than that -- I have my theories. And, to paraphrase Marsha, what the hell does the carnivorous vegetable island have to do with it?
"Come on everybody, gather round. I'm gonna show you how to (caesura) knock 'em down."
(HBO Family, right now.) Mr. Cosmo was more than a little dismayed at the depth of my knowledge.
Rather than issuing my standard clarion call for the Grease 2 love, I will instead solicit views on the following topic:
Resolved: "They can try to stop the paradise we're -- dreaming of" is the gratist caesura evir.
FYI, and in case you missed anything, here are all of my posts in chronological order, with main themes highlighted.
- Theories of Pop-Culture Studies (and the Pop-Culture Autobiography)
- Early American Bestsellers
- Shakespeare and/as/in Popular Culture
- Blackface Minstrelsy
- P.T. Barnum
- Coney Island
- Tin Pan Alley and the Phonograph
- The Birth of Motion Pictures
- Birth of a Nation
- The First Movie Stars
- The "New Woman" in Movies and the Blues
- Amos 'n' Andy on Radio
- Amos 'n' Andy on Film and TV
- Gangsters and Detectives
- Jazz and Swing
- Mickey, Bugs, and Cartoons
- Hollywood's Golden Age
- Wartime Hollywood
- Movies in the 1950s
- Comic Books
- Rock 'n' Roll
- Boomer Girls' Pop Culture
- Boomer Women's Pop Culture
- Counterculture and Counterrevolution
- The 1970s Revival of Hollywood
- Punk and Disco
- VCRs and Cable
- Rap and Hip Hop
- Content Ratings Systems
- Media Consolidation
- Reality Television
- Video Games
- "Smarter" TV
- Is Pop Culture Really Good for You?
Many thanks to Adam & Company for generously agreeing to host this pedagogical experiment, and to all of you for your witty and thoughtful contributions to our discussions. I've learned a lot from this experience, and I hope that you have, too. See you in the comments section.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
This has been a very old-school season for the show, and I'm a fan. That said, part of that means we're likely going to end up with Young, Athletic Types in the end, and are already bereft of all-female teams. We've got a lot of world left to travel with not a lot of teams remaining ... they're usually well into Asia by the time there's just six left.
And the good stuff's mostly still there. People still talk fast and talk smart. Sorkin's big themes--the goodness of American idealism and innovation, the dangerous relationship between addiction and creativity, and the idea that television can be a force not just for moneymaking, but for good--are evident in his prior work as well. Indeed, the play ultimately is about the power of American innovation winning over obstacles and the joy of creativity (the response not just when there's an initial image, but when Farnsworth figures out how to get a sharp picture are just moments of unbridled joy). Yes, there are flaws (the narrative device of having Farnsworth and Sarnoff each narrate the other's story isn't entirely effective, and the play can be a bit didactic at times), but it's a darn solid afternoon or evening at the theatre.