Saturday, August 27, 2011

ME, MYSELF, & IRENE:  Just got back from a hurricane-curtailed trip to the Mountain West -- if USAir didn't have room on their 7:05 am flight, I'd have stuck it out in Denver or Las Vegas until Monday or Tuesday (and still, perhaps, should have) -- and matters at the local SuperFresh were surprisingly un-panicked and relatively well-stocked (bottled water, however: gone).

The one issue I'm still trying to resolve here, and it's a total #firstworldproblem, is what to do about the above-ground koi pond we've got: do I try to fortify it with sandbags to avoid having the fish spill over? is it possible to drain out enough water to matter? do I try to transport the fish and their water into bathtub? or do I just trust the fish to stay below water because, after all, they're fish and that's what fish do?

I hope you and all your dear ones in the affected areas remain safe, secure, and replete with electrical power. This will be an open thread for all your reports, weather-related and otherwise; let's try to keep each other amused.

Friday, August 26, 2011

THAT'S GREAT, IT STARTS WITH AN EARTHQUAKE: What with events earlier this week and forecast for this weekend in the Northeast, this week's Playlist is naturally "songs about/referencing natural disasters." Let's start off with "Shake It Up" from the Cars and then move to David Wilcox's "Eye of the Hurricane" (not actually about a storm, but still apropos). Stay safe and dry, everyone!
WOOOOOOOOE!  Shawn Shane Ryan's foray into the many dockets of Ric Flair is, like almost anything that's written about the real lives of professional wrestlers, even more disappointing than you could have imagined.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

WE TAKE REQUESTS:  Via commenter Renee:
I'm an active reader, lurker and very rarely, commentator on ALOTT5MA. One thing I haven't seen lately is a recommended list of podcasts that you all (we all) are listening to. My regulars are boring: Alan's podcast with Dan Fienberg, the B.S. Report, Marc Maron, Penn Jillette... What is everyone else listening to? I'm going to be in the car more than usual this fall and that's prime podcast time for me. I'd love suggestions.
Pop Culture Happy Hour! I also very much enjoy Slate's sports podcast Hang Up And Listen, and am squeezing in some ESPN Fantasy Focus Football podcasting as part of my draft prep, but seriously, start with Our Friend Linda Holmes, along with Stephen Thompson, Glen Weldon Who Writes About Books And Comic Books, and Trey (with an 'e') Graham (like the cracker).

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"UNFORTUNATELY, THAT DAY HAS COME":  "I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know," explains Steve Jobs in his letter resigning as CEO of Apple. He hopes to remain serving as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

added: From a February 1985 interview with Playboy:
Jobs: The most compelling reason for most people to buy a computer for the home will be to link it into a nationwide communications network. We're just in the beginning stages of what will be a truly remarkable breakthrough for most people ‐‐ as remarkable as the telephone.
Playboy: Specifically, what kind of breakthrough are you talking about?
Jobs: I can only begin to speculate. We see that a lot in our industry: You don't know exactly what's going to result, but you know it's something very big and very good.
ALL FOR THE BEST: As Victor Garber prepares to play Prince Charles in the upcoming Hallmark Movie Channel take on William and Kate, he sits down with the AV Club to talk about roles he's loved (SpyDaddy, Eli Stone), roles he's hated (his first TV series), roles he got cut from (a role as a Klingon interpreter in Abrams' Star Trek), and why he did Glee.
WHY CAN'T THEY BE LIKE WE WERE, PERFECT IN EVERY WAY?  Kids these days don't know how to use the Google, according to a study of research habits of students at five Illinois universities:
Throughout the interviews, students mentioned Google 115 times -- more than twice as many times as any other database. The prevalence of Google in student research is well-documented, but the Illinois researchers found something they did not expect: students were not very good at using Google. They were basically clueless about the logic underlying how the search engine organizes and displays its results. Consequently, the students did not know how to build a search that would return good sources. (For instance, limiting a search to news articles, or querying specific databases such as Google Book Search or Google Scholar.)
I believe we've got some librarians here who may wish to comment.
DOES IT COME WITH A DOG HIDING UNDER THE PORCH? Yes, you can now buy an officially licensed "Up" House to live in, but only in Salt Lake City.
SOMEWHERE I HAVE HEARD THIS BEFORE, IN A DREAM MY MEMORY HAS STORED:  In an essay for Slate, Simon Reynolds suggests that the current twentieth-anniversary revivalism for Nevermind and the alternative/grunge movement is actually nostalgia for a pre-Internet era in which a single cultural movement could be said to be era-defining:
... [T]he media organs of the analog system generated what you might call the "Epochal Self-Image": a sense of a particular stretch of years as constituting an era, a period with a distinct "feel" and spirit. That sense is always constructed, always entails the suppression of the countless disparate other things going on in any given stretch of time, through the focus on a select bunch of artists, styles, recordings, events, deemed to "define the times." If we date the takeoff point of the Internet as a dominant force in music culture to the turn of the millennium (the point at which broadband enabled the explosive growth of filesharing, blogging, et al.), it is striking that the decade that followed is characterized by the absence of epochal character. It's not that nothing happened ... it's that so many little things happened, a bustle of microtrends and niche scenes that all got documented and debated, with the result that nothing was ever able to dominant and define the era.... 
That is why it is so hard to see what, from the last dozen years or so of rock, could be the focus for future commemorative or revivalist impulses. Can you envisage the 20th anniversary of the Strokes' debut album, or the White Stripes's breakthrough LP, White Blood Cells, being celebrated? Spin will not be able to put either group on the cover under the legend "The Album That Changed Everything," because neither record came close to Nevermind's paradigm-shift.... When people—fans, critics, industry, whoever—look back to grunge, then, what they feel wistful for is not just the particulars of that moment (flannel, shaggy hair, down-tuned guitar sounds, Tabitha Soren) or even qualities that music seemed to have then and since lost (anger, rebellion, spontaneity, anti-gloss realness, etc). It is for the concept of period vibe in itself, for "aura of era" in the abstract. It is a nostalgia for a time when the Zeit actually possessed a Geist.
As we've discussed before, it's a bit awkward and weird for those of us who are no longer part of Youth Culture to make any kind of grand pronouncements as to how today's youth are experiencing and understanding their world. And it's also a bit solipsistic to even define the grunge/alternative era as being such a transcendent, epoch-defining thing—because that's really only the case if you were of the right age, and generally white, when it was going down in the first place. I don't know that the culture is in fact more niche-y now than it was then inasmuch as the Internet makes the niches more evident and able to self-connect, so let's just let today's kids figure out, twenty years from now, what they're pining for while my generation is paying $250 general admission seats to see Eddie Vedder's latest ukelele tour.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

MRS. LANDINGHAM! Despite winning 2 Emmys for her performance (more than any other member of the ensemble), Kathryn Joosten is happy that her gig on Desperate Housewives is coming to an end, and has some surprisingly strong (and pretty much correct) words about the show's creative direction the past few years.
UNNECESSARY REMAKES REDUX; UNNECESSARY DOES NOT MEAN UNENJOYABLE: The critics' darling culture train known as Infinite Jest and the runaway critics' darling big rig known as The Decemberists were bound to collide at a grade crossing somewhere, especially when Ken Tremendous is your traffic officer, and the carnage was bound include shreds of both the original David Foster Wallace work and of the Decemberists ... well, let Isaac explain. So, rubberneckers, to the tennis court for a game of Eschaton.
37.975°N, 77.969°W, MAGNITUDE 5.9: Everyone ok?
UNNECESSARY REMAKES REDUX; UNNECESSARY DOES NOT MEAN UNENJOYABLE: The runaway pop culture train known as The Muppet Movie and the runaway pop culture big rig known as OK Go were bound to collide at a grade crossing somewhere, and the carnage was bound include shreds of both the original Muppet Show theme song and of OK Go's video oevre. So, rubberneckers, to the crash site.
AMAZON HAS NEVER JUST BEEN A RIVER IN SOUTH AMERICA: The Beloit Mindset List for the Class of 2015, which does not mention the fact that they now live in a world in which eating your newborn's placenta can be discussed in a major magazine.

Monday, August 22, 2011

MIGHT HAVE KNOWN WHAT YOU WOULD FIND: The Scandybars tumblr takes giant cross-section photographs of candy bars and sweets. It is yum.
AND THE MOON IS THE ONLY LIGHT WE SEE: Two legendary songwriters have passed away today -- Jerry Leiber, who with partner Mike Stoller created some of rock and roll's building blocks in the 1950s ("Hound Dog," "Love Potion No. 9," "Yakety Yak," and so many more), and Nick Ashford, who along with wife Valerie Simpson penned "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "You're All I Need To Get By," "Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing," and "Reach Out And Touch Somebody's Hand," as well as recording their own hit with "Solid," as well as totally looking like Scar from The Lion King.

Below the fold, a clip we love to use here: Ashford, Simpson, and Pendergrass, July 13, 1985:

WE TAKE REQUESTS: Via commenter Kate:
As a relatively long time reader and occasional commenter I hope your readers can help me with an interesting, but really quite depressing, question.

My Dad has been diagnosed with Gastric Cancer. He's having surgery Tuesday to remove his stomach. (think of it like uber gastric bypass surgery) If he recovers well he'll probably have 6 months to a year. Before the cancer gets bad again.

We're making a bucket list for travel. Right now we've got the Grand Canyon and Vegas, although specific ideas for those would be appreciated. He likes museums, art being amongst them. We were in LA and he went to the Gene Autry museum. If we go to Vegas we're talking about the Liberace museum. He knows a ton about art (specifically Asian art) but any well designed museum will do. He's also very well travelled (5 continents). We're based out of NYC.

Obviously, dinner at The French Laundry (or similar) is a no go.

I'd love to get ideas from everyone.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

CHECK ME OUT. I'M A GEORGIA O'KEEFFE PAINTING: I don't believe I was the only one here watching Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension last night. (Okay, it apparently debuted on the Disney Channel two weeks ago.) But that was fun.

Open thread for suggestions of cool children's media (tv, film, books) being consumed in your house lately. The P.S. 238 comic books have become very popular in our neck of the woods.