Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Indian Thriller

People always focus on the bad parts of globalization. But what about Indian Thriller?

(Courtesy of Christiana)

Bergman, Antonioni, Snyder RIP

Wow, so celebrity deaths really do happen in threes. Weird. I know that Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni were influential directors, but the one I'll miss the most is Tom Snyder (hence the photo below -- prime real estate on my uber-exclusive blog!)

I didn't really enjoy The Seventh Seal or Blow Up, and Tom Snyder's the one who was actually in front of the camera, so I feel like I knew him a little bit better. Watching his interviews was like a big glass of warm milk before bedtime. So soothing and so unhip, without any of the self-conscious nerdiness you find today. And yet, in spite of all that, he could go toe-to-toe with Johnny Rotten in a way that Dick Cavett never could.

May his warm brown eyes be gazing up at St. Peter right now, or (if you believe in reincarnation) may he come back as a cricket...or humidifier...or any of the other things that help you go to sleep.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Not Your Granny's Political Campaign

First the Obama reggaeton song, now this. Maybe the candidates should have a talent show. Priceless!

Potter Puppet Pals

After having a crush on a fictional teenage wizard, it's comforting to know there's a line I haven't crossed.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

It really happened.

After the quake (Japan) -- From the New York Times

Simpsons Intro

I'm just glad they didn't attempt anything with the couch.

Worst Use of an Education Ever.

“I took several art history classes in school, and photography...When I look at a picture, I go through the same process as when I look at a news story. How can I process this image to make this as entertaining as possible to my readers? I’m looking at it, cropping it, resizing it, drawing on it, making it my own.”

-- Gossip monger Mario Lavandeira of PerezHilton.com, in an article by Virginia Heffernan of the New York Times

Are news stories supposed to be entertaining? (How about this one?) Maybe the above quote explains something about our generation. Using your analytical skills to obsess about celebrities' skinfolds? Really?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix

Here's my review. Aside from the third film in the series (directed by the dark wizard Alfonso Cuaron), the Harry Potter flicks serve as mere visual aids to the books, like a PowerPoint presentation or something. They're way too bare-bones and awkward to seriously compete. I'm a real sucker for montages though, and this one was full of them, so it wasn't all bad.

Where was the howler to Petunia though? And the scene where Harry asks Nearly Headless Nick why Sirius isn't a ghost? And what was with Sirius's death anyway? It looked like a bad acid trip.

Everything that happens in the film feels a little too pertinent -- the roiling chaos of the book has been turned into a checklist of important events. And anyone who read an 857-page tome could have sat through something longer.

(Note: this is not actually me)

Notes on TV Haters

Is TV hypnotizing you? That's your own fault!

I can't help feeling that Blogger doesn't offer a spot in the profile for favorite TV shows because it's beneath our notion of what's "smart." With that in mind, here are some notes on TV haters that I've met.

1. Most of them don't watch TV.

My own father said to me recently that "cable has no redeeming value." He's never even watched cable! Oh wait, that's not true - I once caught him watching a bowdlerized TBS rerun of Sex and the City (so weird). And a lot of people who talk about how stupid television is have never even owned one or stopped watching after going to college (why? because Nietzsche didn't have TV so neither should they?)

2. The ones who do watch TV judge it by what's on VH1.

Too many TV haters see television as a giant, multi-faceted program, not as a medium, which is all it is. There's the good and the bad. The difference is that everything produced is readily available for consumption. But just think, if every song or movie or piece of art were on the radio or television, we wouldn't have very high opinions of those artforms either. And as for shows like Flavor of Love, they ain't pretty, but aren't they at the very least fascinating for what they show about our culture?

My favorite are the people who say that TV is stupid but have absolutely horrible taste. One girl I worked with claimed that TV rots the brain (it apparently had rotted hers), but then named the one exception: Entourage. Entourage? Really?!? A featherweight comedy with no moral compass about aimless philistines in Hollywood? I guess it's entertaining once in a while, but that's a pretty lame example of "good" television.

3. They're conservative.

A lot of TV haters can't accept how truly new television is. By "television" I obviously don't mean electrons shooting from a screen or the concept of a filmed serial, but that we are in a golden age (some call it a renaissance, but when has it ever been this good? Mary Tyler Moore is hardly a match for Lucille Bluth). And it isn't just gritty shows like The Wire on premium cable either (Friday Night Lights! NBC!).

Some TV haters really do seem to hate the idea of synchronized experience - they're okay with being out of touch; they think watching a show is somehow less personal than being buried in a book or in a dark room with flashing celluloid. It's not exclusive enough. Thank God.

4. They're pseudo-intellectual.

"I don't watch TV, I watch Almodovar!" Give me a break.

5. They don't seem to really care about characters.

TV dramas demand that you go in not just for a fast and furious experience like Children of Men, but stay with the characters through thick and thin, week after week (and hopefully, year after year). While TV shows do tend to have more mass commercial appeal overall, they are also more daring in this way -- everyone on the set of a movie knows how the story will be resolved. Except in miniseries, there's no safety net in television.

Another paradox I notice among TV haters is that while they see film as "art" and TV as "entertainment," many of them go to films simply as a "break" between work and obligations -- as a recreational activity, not an artistic endeavor.

Final thought (a la television icon Jerry Springer) -

People wouldn't have had to spend their money on any of Michael Moore's films if they just saw the countless PBS documentaries that have explored the same topics less patronizingly and tendentiously.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

NYC Blackout 1977

This is a Times photo from 1977 when there was a blackout in New York. There's actually a whole slideshow of photos from the blackout, and this is one of the tamer ones (there was massive looting). I like the fact that this guy took the initiative to direct traffic. I also like that his microphone looks like an ice cream cone.

Time Magazine Has a Reason to Live

Most recent articles about Harry Potter have only one point: there's a lot of hype around Harry Potter! Well, duh. But this Time article about all the security measures taken by Scholastic is really fascinating. It almost makes you forgive them for naming you man of the year.

SAM The Record Man

(This is a record store in Toronto that recently closed.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Songs for the Weak (Loser Edition)

And so it ends with a whimper. It's too fucking hot to wax poetic about sizzling summer jams and forgotten classics. Plus I have a lot of work to do and I have to find an apartment. I'll still post about music whenever I think I have something interesting to say, and just for being so understanding, here's a slideshow with some awesome photos of Portuguese pousadas. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

American Icons. Happy 4th of July!

The first picture is by my friend Amneris Suarez. I don't know who took the next two, but the second one is called "If You Don't Have Money Don't Come in the Bar," and the third one is at Coney Island (R.I.P.) William Eggleston took the last one.

When I think of Independence Day, I think of that classic country music line "I shaved my legs for this?!" If you feel the same way I do about our government, you know what I mean.

No Songs for the Weak tomorrow. Drink some beer and get independent!