25 years ago today, Jane's Addiction released their first studio album, and for the brief window of time before, uh, "Seattle," they were the alternative to the hair-heavy metal-medium sound of the day. That is probably hard to remember, since it was 25 years ago. 25 years. There are people you work with right now who just turned 25. And here you are talking about some record that is younger than they are. Is death far off? No, no it is not. Anyway, the lyrics to "Up the Beach" remain my favorite Perry Farrell poetry of all, but I tend to like the simpler things in life. This record [...]
"WHAT is it about Baz Luhrmann that tickles the nerve of reviewers so firmly it sees them racing to their blogs proclaiming disapproval of all he does before he has even done it? Is it his love of bold, technicolour dance sequences? Perhaps it's his penchant for melodrama and theatrical characters? Or is it because he's not making gritty, hard-hitting films about life in the suburbs?" —I… DON'T KNOW! You know what I would be first in line to see though? A movie called Baz Luhrmann's Black Hobbit. Don't pretend like that wouldn't be amazing. [Via]
"In Mayberry, Thelma Lou didn’t put a cigarette out on Barney’s arm like my girlfriend did to on mine; Andy Taylor wasn’t embittered or slump-shouldered after a lifetime of ridicule by those with more social status; no Beasley beat his wife half to death with a shoe. Still, Mayberry was a believable universe without these things. Tools of television helped make this true — camera angles, lighting, a disciplined laugh track, extras so far in the background they are almost invisible, along with other aspects I’ve mentioned. But there is one thing about the story that has not been discussed, and it is the thing that gives it gravitas, [...]
Since 2002, Jason Ross (@jasonjross on Twitter) has been a writer for "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," where his team has won a half-dozen Emmy Awards for outstanding writing and produced the best-selling America: The Book and Earth: The Book.
Jason Ross: Here I am.
Ken Layne: Hello, sir! I'm in the middle of the greatest consumer survey in human history.
Jason: That is a fairly low bar to clear.
Ken: Disneyland is building Star Wars Land. This will make Disneyland much more tolerable for me:
Which of the following Star Wars locations would you be especially interested in visiting at the Disneyland Resort? [...]
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, distinguished guests, fellow Americans, and even you, Mr. President:
On this fortuitous evening, we come together in a highly ritualized, deeply esoteric sacred performance within the inner sanctum of our nation's high temple. The president's words will be parsed by an inverse pyramid of humanity, from a mass of dimwitted Politico commenters bobbing like frantic ill-informed ducks upon the surface to the industrial sludge filters at the bottleneck bottom, monstrous catfish like Chris Matthews and Wolf Blitzer, slurping up and then expelling the reactions to the president's prepared text, which have already become worn out punchlines on Twitter.
At home, the citizens [...]
"Fringe," the only prime time SF show to make it through a fairly natural lifespan without becoming a disaster, concludes tonight. I did not want to love "Fringe," but it happened anyway. From its beginnings as cheerful but fresh Mulder and Scully redux to its rampaging full-on SF freakout middle period to its dark dystopian final season, "Fringe" avoided the varied and terrible pitfalls of often-great shows like "Lost," "X-Files," "Dollhouse," "V," "Firefly," "Heroes" and "Battlestar Galactica," all of which were either tortured by networks or tortured by showrunners. Or both.
(Sure, on the "natural lifespan" thing: I mean, yes, it is slightly awkward that the show concluded at [...]
Remember "Watson," the fancy IBM computer that appeared on Jeopardy as Alex Trebek a contestant? A scientist at IBM tried to teach it the slang used by the kids, probably so the supercomputer can write the next Twilight series or maybe churn out a three-volume slash-fiction series loosely based on Twilight or À la recherche du temps perdu. In order to make the genius computer speak in a way modern idiots would understand, researcher Eric Brown forced Watson to digest the entirety of UrbanDictionary.com—the whole filthy thing, with its Boston Steamers and Donkey Punches and King James Versions.
Brown attempted to teach Watson the Urban Dictionary. [...]
"Description of a village lottery. The entire town of about 300 people assembles in the village square where the time-honored ritual is observed. First all the heads of families draw slips of paper out of a box. Bill Hutchinson gets a certain slip after which his entire family draws slips. His wife, Tessie gets one with a black mark on it. The villagers surround her and start throwing stones at her, while she screams, 'It isn't fair.'" —Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" was published in the New Yorker on this day in 1948. Jackson biographer Ruth Franklin goes over some of the responses.
"When people say it makes more sense when you see them live, that’s usually a surefire sign that their record is going to suck."
"She knows how difficult it is to quit, even though—beginning at age 25—she had a sore throat that never went away. She says she quit when pregnant with her daughter, now 32, but then relapsed. She even smoked during her radiation treatments for oral cancer in 2001. It was only after the surgery to remove her voice box that she finally quit, cold turkey." —The new reason to avoid television is the new CDC campaign featuring ex-smokers who have lost various parts of their bodies to their habit, from legs to larynx. If you've already managed to quit, go ahead and give yourself a high five and hope that's [...]
Oh look, there's a new attraction in Manhattan for the downtown art crowd:
The husband-and-wife pair stepped out alongside Morgado on Tuesday night for the opening-night gala for "The Bible Experience," an exhibit in downtown Manhattan featuring photography from the mini-series as well as biblical artifacts by way of the Vatican and a giant, two-ton crown of thorns hanging from the ceiling. A spooky Old World ambiance was enhanced by dim lighting, a fog machine and Hans Zimmer's musical score in the background as guests wandered through a cavernous space built to seem centuries-old with earthy walls and barely any heat circulating. "This is a gift to [...]
If you enjoyed the usual American male weekend of constant television viewing while sunk deep in the pizza-crush folds of your sofa, evolution has already decided it doesn't want your kind in the generations to come. That's why low-activity men who watch lots of television have dramatically lower sperm counts than those who get some exercise.
The subjects of the study were college-aged men in New York state, aged 18-22. The first group did 15 hours of "moderate to vigorous physical activity per week," about 2 hours daily. The second group just slobbed out in front of the flat screen for 20 or more hours weekly. Besides being incredibly [...]
Why do all the New York Chinese restaurants you see in movies look the same?
How "Baby It's Cold Outside" Became America's Secular Christmas Anthem, Despite People Claiming It's About Date Rape
Betty Garrett and Red Skelton, reversing roles in the song's 1948 Hollywood premiere.
This Christmastime, last Christmastime and for many holiday seasons past, writers and commenters of the Internet have gathered to argue over the holiday classic "Baby It's Cold Outside." The conversations and accusations are rarely about the song's merits as a Tin Pan Alley jazz-pop composition. Instead, we wonder if the playful exchange of the man and woman is actually the loaded conversation before a sinister date rape. Or is the whole song just a harmless relic of a bygone time when "The answer is No" meant not "No," but "maybe just a half a drink more," [...]
"Previously.TV is a new site about, guess what, TV. We're talking about last night's shows, and some of the latest TV news, in the way we watch TV: a mix of appreciation, obsession, grim resolve, and abiding affection." —Very, very excited about Previously.tv, a new website from Awl pal Tara Ariano and a scary-talented group of contributors. I would tell you to add it to your RSS Reader, but do those things even exist anymore? DAMN YOU GOOGLE READER. Anyway, go here frequently.
"When 21-year-old Stuart Goldberg went into a job interview last fall with a partner at the consulting firm McKinsey & Co., the University of Pennsylvania senior expected to discuss his 3.8 grade-point average, his internships in private equity or the data-crunching he'd done for the Philadelphia Eagles. Instead, the interviewer went straight for a different bullet point on Mr. Goldberg's résumé: his interest in the cable-television series 'Breaking Bad.' They spent 10 of the interview's 45 minutes discussing the dark drama about a high-school teacher who becomes a methamphetamine kingpin, Mr. Goldberg recalls. 'I was shocked that he wanted to allocate so much time to that.' The candidate was [...]
Jane: Wow, so the third episode of Jane Campion's seven-part series, "Top of the Lake," aired last night and it wasn't until I started reading reviews that I realized how divisive Campion can be. Granted, this is her first television venture to be released in the U.S., and perhaps viewers are more used to Campion's lush aesthetic on big screen, but it's not like exaggerated dramatics are unknown quantities in TV-land either.
So I know we're both Campion enthusiasts (Bright Star, would other films be steadfast as thou art?!), and while I'm absolutely loving "Top of the Lake," there are definitely moments that leave me [...]
When Fox News got rid of Sarah Palin by offering her a very tiny contract renewal, people who follow these things said, "Oh, Fox News has been forced to scale back the crazy a little bit, because the old white lunatics are quickly dying off and America's population now consists solely of multi-ethnic transgender metrosexuals." But these people were wrong, because Fox News just hired Herman Cain as a paid on-air personality.
Herman Cain was the 2012 GOP presidential frontrunner at some point—everybody was a GOP frontrunner at some point, except for Sarah Palin. Imagine being such a washed-up dingbat that you couldn't even compete with the likes [...]
The year 1845 was a time of unimaginable deprivations: No smart phones, no Twitter, no Words With Friends, plus there was a lot of cholera, and those Irish street gangs, and also slavery somewhere. The Gowanus Canal was not just a repulsive sewage channel and heartbreaking symbol of environmental devastation, but a primary means of public transport through Brooklyn—construction on the great bridge to Manhattan wouldn't be begin for another quarter century. And on this day in 1845, it was probably also very cold.
For a mostly unknown writer and poet from Baltimore, January 29 was one of his last good days. The New York Evening Mirror published his [...]
The first in a series about our favorite TV shows past.
There are some things I know to be true that cannot be objectively or scientifically proven, what theologians call articles of faith. Corporate lawyers, for instance, are not simply bad people who made poor life choices. They actually work for demons, a kind of lesser god-monster from a parallel dimension porously paired with our own. Professional politics, a career nearly all attorneys aspire to, is itself a realm of slightly higher demons—higher in influence and power, not intellect or evolution. These professions, like those of talent agents and film producers and record-label executives and school principals, are natural [...]