Friday, February 6, 2015

MUSIC SCENE IS CRAZY; BANDS START UP EACH AND EVERY DAY:  Kurt Andersen argues in Sunday's NYT that the 1990s were the Greatest Decade Ever. Some of the argument is political, but also:
In feature films, it was the decade of “Pulp Fiction” and the indie movement, thanks to which idiosyncratic, more-commercial-than-art-house masterpieces like those by Wes Anderson, Alexander Payne and Richard Linklater became plausible. It was also the decade in which traditional Disney animation came back from the dead and in which Pixar, with the first two “Toy Story” movies, reinvented the form magnificently.

THE digital age, of course, got fully underway in the ’90s. At the beginning of the decade almost none of us had heard of the web, and we didn’t have browsers, search engines, digital cellphone networks, fully 3-D games or affordable and powerful laptops. By the end of the decade we had them all. Steve Jobs returned to Apple and conjured its rebirth. 
And it was just the right amount of technology. By the end of the decade we all had cellphones, but not smartphones; we were not overconnected or tyrannized by our devices. Social media had not yet made social life both manically nonstop and attenuated. The digital revolution hadn’t brutally “disrupted” whole economic sectors and made their work forces permanently insecure. Recorded music sales nearly doubled during the decade. Newspapers and magazines were thriving. Even Y2K, our terrifying end-of-the-millennium technological comeuppance, was a nonevent.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

SECRET'S IN THE SAUCE:  Dallas' NPR affiliate sits down with Texas Monthly's Barbecue Editor for an hour-long discussion of all things barbecue, including what sides are appropriate, and how much Texas barbecue owes to traditional Jewish cuisine.
THIS IS THE THEME TO GARRY'S SHOW:  Beloved vintage TV DVD releasor Shout! Factory (who's done most excellent Sports Night and My So-Called Life box sets) has launched a new, free, streaming website, including such things as It's Garry Shandling's Show and The Weird Al Show.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

ALOTT5MA FRIDAY GRAMMAR RODEO SEASON-ENDING BIG GAME EDITION:  The WaPo has a story which will gladden my father regarding two undocumented Irish attendees of Sunday's football game, but I couldn't help but wonder ...
Two Irish guys sneaked into the Super Bowl without tickets and snagged $25,000 seats
Would you have used "snuck" instead?
WHOA, NELLIE:  It's not hard to be really, really skeptical about whether Harper Lee actually wants to publish a second novel:
This may very well not be an exploitative situation! But oh man, in the absence of clear answers and a well-thought-out strategy on the part of Harper Lee’s publishers, it certainly looks like one. A woman spent her whole life making it very clear that she was not interested in releasing a second novel suddenly changes her mind – without having been directly contacted by anyone at her publisher, it sounds like – while also being apparently too enfeebled to pick up a phone and answer a few basic questions? I don’t know, hasn’t she made HarperCollins enough money that they could send down a few editors to talk with her in person, if it’s that important? How much time have they had for this publicity rollout? Shouldn’t they have, at the very least, coordinated a more well-thought-out sound bite?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE LET ME GET WHAT I WANT ON MY CONCERT RIDER:  Morrissey has reaffirmed his demand that all concert venues he plays ban meat when he's playing there, using the most Morrissey-esque language imaginable and proclaiming that "I shall leave the Harpa Concert Hall to their cannibalistic flesh-eating bloodlust."

ETA:  On the other hand--Jack White?  Fine with meat, including a demand for a very specific strip steak, but there'd better not be bananas anywhere in the building.
IT'S SHLOCK, BUT ... THERE'S A PLACE FOR SCHLOCK:  All 121 Billy Joel songs, ranked, only one of which is described as "highly popular and inescapably bad." Also, this general note, which certainly applies to that song:
Too many sound effects. The shattering sound that opens Glass Houses, the helicopters in “Goodnight Saigon,” TV static and dial tones: All are gimmicky, and most are cliché. I’ll admit that the brake screech in “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)” is fun. 
READING IS FUNDAMENTAL:  For an eighth straight year, Christy in NYC has the scoop from the American Library Association's annual awards for the best in children's publishing:
* * *
Hello friends! This past weekend, nestled in among big games, groundhogs, and public-transportation-crippling winter storms, Children’s Book Christmas went on as planned in Chicago—also known as the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting. More specifically, on Monday, all the biggest awards in the children’s book industry were announced. The big three are as follows:
  • John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature: “The Crossover,” written by Kwame Alexander
  • Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children: “The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend,” illustrated by Dan Santat
  • Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults: “I’ll Give You the Sun,” written by Jandy Nelson
But the full list of winners and honors is particularly fun to peruse this year. Here are my three big observations:

Monday, February 2, 2015

BUSINESS PREMORSE:  Yes, it appears Radio Shack (America's least-appealing-ly named store, right?) is about to give up the ghost.
OKAY, CAMPERS, RISE AND SHINE, AND DON'T FORGET YOUR BOOTIES 'CAUSE IT'S COOOOOOLD OUT THERE TODAY: It's February 2, so it's time to talk about the movie again. Do you buy the whole Buddhist thing, or should we just quote lines for a while and generally discuss its awesomeness?

Participate in this thread, or it's gonna be cold, it's gonna be grey, and it's gonna last you for the rest of your life.