Friday, April 19, 2013

THE ATHENS OF AMERICA:  This blog is ill-equipped to handle madness like this week's in Boston. If Hub folks want to talk about the past twenty-four hours (and week), we're all eyes.  If people want to talk about their favorite cultural works involving fugitive-chasing, that is certainly our bailiwick. Or whatever. You tell us.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A SIGMA NU BRO REACTS TO THE CONTROVERSY CONCERNING JULIA’S ANGRY DELTA GAMMA LETTER: You people on the Internet, especially the Olds, have paid overmuch attention to a letter from my friend “Julia” to her Delta Gamma sorority sisters, exhorting them to embrace the spirit of Greek Week at the University of Maryland (GO TERPS). It seems that most of you are having trouble seeing past Julia’s fidelity to the colorful slang common here on Greek Row to the completely valid sentiment she was expressing. Please lend me a moment of your time to give this controversy the context it deserves.
INCLUDING THE ONE WITH PEOPLE WHO SHOW UP HERE FOR A WEEK EVERY MAY:   Vulture's critics attempt to list twenty essential film documentaries of the 21st Century (so far).  
ALSO HELPS THWART CHILDREN'S FEAR OF THE BOOGEYMAN:  You may take Tylenol occasionally to reduce pain or fever, or alleviate the symptoms of allergies, cold, cough, and flu, but did you also know that Tylenol has been clinically demonstrated to ease your anxiety associated with the human condition?
OF COURSE ... BUT MAYBE... Is it proper to use "on the other hand," grammatically, if it's not preceded by a matching "on the one hand" at some point?  A Language Log investigation.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

TWO ALL BEEF PATTIES: Noting Isaac's reference to "McMansion," without overly telegraphing my own position on what that means, can I get a read on the collective wisdom of what our commentariat thinks that means. Is a "McMansion" a specific sort of architecture or zoning or is merely a catch-all criticism of large newly-built houses? Or is it something else?
BEFORE WE ALL LIVED HERE IN FLORIDA:  A very nice Billy Joel career reevaluation by Grantland's Steven Hyden, in the wake of Joel's rather stellar 12.12.12 concert performance, in which Hyden argues that Joel's decision to stop recording new music in 1993 has only helped his reputation:
For two decades, Joel's discography has remained essentially unchanged; what's different is the context in which that music is now heard. When Billy Joel was Public Enemy No. 1 among rock critics, he suffered in comparison to Springsteen in part because the artists were likened on Springsteen's terms.... Twenty years ago, Springsteen and Joel represented opposing sides in a debate — "authenticity" vs. "artifice" — that formed the crux of nearly every conversation about popular music. Today, this dialogue has been marginalized to the point of virtual silence. Hating Billy Joel is no longer a meaningful act; at best, it suggests that you're the sort of person who's actively annoyed by things that most people tend to like or at least tolerate. But it doesn't register as an aesthetic choice in a larger cultural argument, because most people have long since checked out of the discussion. And this has helped how Billy Joel's music is perceived. Joel's strengths — his accessibility, his knack for romantic balladry, his understated versatility in adapting to different songwriting and production styles — are no longer held against him. As far as Billy Joel's legacy is concerned, staying put has been the next best thing to dying.
Related: Vulture's list of twenty great forgotten Billy Joel songs.
I FELT LIKE A FIGHTER WHO HAD BEEN TRAINING FOR A TITLE BOUT THAT HAD NOT BEEN BOOKED YET:  Up until Iron Man, the biggest box office hit in which Robert Downey Jr. was involved was Rodney Dangerfield's Back to School. (For real.) He talks about his career turnaround with GQ this month, including whether he expects to ever receive an Oscar ("I, personally, would be shocked if we went to the end of the tape now and I didn't have at least one.... Look, even if I don't get one directly, eventually they're just going to have to give me one when I get old. So no matter how you slice it, I'm getting one,") and this:
"Here's the thing. At whatever point I'm done with [the Iron Man films], I'm going to have a bit of a crisis, because I probably haven't even fully ingested how much I've enjoyed it, how much it's meant. It so came out of kind of relative obscurity as this second-tier character from the Marvel universe, and I feel I was part of making it something more. But it also to me was just good filmmaking. It's funny, people will come up to me and go, 'Dude, how do you do it? How do you dress up and play these...?' While whatsisname is shooting the next David O. Russell or whatever, I'm, 'Here's the thing, you're either having a good time or a bad time, and you're either doing a good movie or a bad movie.' And I know one thing, which is that there is no guarantee that doing a movie you think is 'important' "—Downey enunciates the word important in a wonderfully withering way—"isn't going to be the worst piece of tripe I've ever had to sit through. Or that this kind of two-dimensional genre movie I'm doing isn't actually going to be thoroughly entertaining. Isn't that why you went to the movies to begin with? Whatever."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

IT'S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY, MONEY, MONEY; WE DON'T NEED YOUR MONEY, MONEY, MONEY: There will be a Pitch Perfect sequel in 2015, though none of the original stars have yet signed. Please, please, be better than the Bring It On and American Pie sequels, and not just "Rebel Wilson (or whoever else ends up needing the work from the original cast) mentors the next generation ..."

(That link also includes a new, much-expanded Anna Kendrick "Cups (When I'm Gone)" video. Our original discussion of the film is here.)
AMMONIUM THIOGLYCOLATE. ROB MARIANO. THE FINAL SCENE OF THE SPANISH PRISONER:  We share in the shock and grief of the Greater Boston region, as well as our admiration for the resilience of the first responders and others who rushed into the danger zone.

Our best way to move forward here, and perhaps the only appropriate way for this site, is to do as others have done on Twitter: let's talk about the songs, tv shows, movies and other forms of pop culture which help us think fondly of The City on a Hill.

Monday, April 15, 2013

YOU WILL:  Have you ever wanted to go back to those 1993 ads which predicted the future would include faxing from the beach, driving through toll plazas without stopping (by swiping a credit card in your car?), and videoconferencing, all brought to you by AT&T?  You will.
SURVEY SAYS: The AV Club takes a deep dive into how and why the tone of Family Feud has changed over the years, even though there's been almost no change in gameplay.  As for me, give me the family portrait/cross stitch sampler opening and the funky country theme song--these teams are "READY. FOR. ACTION!"
JUST A GIGOLO:  Buzzfeed catches up with David Lee Roth, now 57, for a profile that's far more serious and insightful than the site's usual fare.
"Diamond Dave is somewhere between Spider-Man and Spanky from Our Gang," he says, popping open a beer. He's never made a point of apologizing or renouncing past clownishness, never showed regret or embarrassment, never worried about those who didn't get the joke, never OD'd or got sober, never got busted for anything more than a dime bag. "I went through a wild phase where I was that person, and perhaps one hurdle is allowing yourself to develop. Everybody goes through the Harley-Davidson phase, the leather days — that's a great merit badge, and the hardest phase to live through."

A close second, though, is a familiar bugaboo to anyone who went platinum in the go-go '80s and found their teased hair and casual hedonism mocked and dwarfed by a dressed-down, purposefully glum zeitgeist. "Two words: Kurt Cobain. I went from playing to 12,000 people to 1,200. From arenas to casinos and state fairs and the local House of Blues. That will cause you to reflect a lot more clearly on your values. Fun wasn't seen as fun anymore."