Category Archives: pop culture obsessions

July 13, 2013, 3:49 pm

Am I Not To Have Any More Fun In Bed?

Victoria and Albert
Victoria and Albert

The New York Times has discovered that sex happens in college and that women may be participating:

Until recently, those who studied the rise of hookup culture had generally assumed that it was driven by men, and that women were reluctant participants, more interested in romance than in casual sexual encounters. But there is an increasing realization that young women are propelling it, too.

The Grey Lady’s official belief on female sexuality before this was, of course, to Lie Back And Think Of England.

This phrase is associated with Queen Victoria, which is odd as she quite liked sex, describing her relations with Prince Albert as “heavenly love-making.” She also said the title of this post when told by her doctor that she had to avoid future pregnancies.

August 31, 2012, 3:37 pm

Eastwood brings the red meat.

So, everyone noticed that Clint Eastwood at the RNC appeared determined to portray a cranky old man – scolding an invisible President Obama, represented by an empty chair. Eastwood seemed often incoherent, and fairly goofy.

But it seems also worth noting that Eastwood’s imaginary Barack Obama was angry, inarticulate, foul-mouthed – uppity, even; in need of correcting by an older white man. And Eastwood dispatched him with a movie line he used to cow an African American punk.

I’m just saying.

August 1, 2012, 1:07 pm

Gore Vidal: pretty good historian, and a great character in US history.

I read Henry Adams before I read Gore Vidal, but I liked Vidal better. Both were funny, but only Vidal was having fun. Which is not something everyone understands, that you can have great fun at the apocalypse. It was perhaps his least American trait.

A critic complained about the versions of Henry Adams and Henry James that Vidal made up. Vidal responded, but they made me up. He shared with Adams an apparent sense that American politics ought to have belonged to him, and as it didn’t, American history would. As motives to write history go, it isn’t the worst. He knew that the affairs of the republic were run by a small group of people who wanted to protect its property. He judged each faction of the group more or less by its tendency to agree with him.

In consequence, he had mixed feelings about FDR, who employed his father and disagreed with his grandfather; he held enduringly…

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July 10, 2012, 9:28 pm

Margin Call’s tacit tribute to the New Deal.

I loved Jeremy Irons’s performance in Margin Call, and not only because of John Tuld’s final monologue – which is in turn brilliant not only because it contains a tacit arithmetic tribute to the New Deal that undermines the thrust of what he’s saying.

In the list of dates, following 1797, the longest stretch without one of these crises is from 1937 to 1974 – the period of the New Deal’s sway over banking, finance, monetary and fiscal policy.1 Which undermines Tuld’s subsequent suggestion that there’s nothing we can do about it.


1He also misses 1873 and 1893, I think.

June 9, 2012, 6:54 pm

Some notes on Prometheus and Jesus and Lawrence of Arabia.

MILDLY SPOILERY.

Prometheus wasn’t anywhere near as bad as the Star Wars prequels, but my saying that tells you about how good it was. And it tells you what kind of movie it is, too - it is after all a prequel, that exists to explain a lot of the weird stuff in Alien. The thing is, as Patton Oswalt shrewdly notes, just because we like ice cream doesn’t mean we’d like to eat a bag of rock salt. We don’t actually want to see Darth Vader as a little kid; we don’t, really, need to know where the Alien came from and what the space jockeys were unless it’s wrapped in a story bigger than “oh, that’s what that thing was.”

There are, though, some parts of Prometheus that are truly excellent. Michael Fassbender is the main one. His performance as the android David is excellent. Fassbender should have been in a decent adaptation of an Asimovian robot story; he knows how to wrestle …

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May 22, 2012, 7:09 pm

This American Epistemological Crisis.

I cannot understand the alleged crisis now reportedly plaguing This American Life – a program I have loved and listened to since its beginning. Indeed, even before I liked it, I liked Ira Glass’s reporting on NPR and even his stint hosting Talk of the Nation. I am, I think it’s fair to say, a TAL nerd. And the reason is the same reason people become nerds for anything – they believe they’ve found a group of people who share the same sensibility. But this sudden po-faced shock that David Sedaris’s stories might not be strictly factual reportage makes no sense in this sensibility, and leads me to wonder if I have been listening to a different program than TAL has been producing.

I always thought TAL aired stories chosen for their goodness as stories, and they might be true or not. Each episode of TAL is divided into “Acts” – which is something you do with a theatrical production, not…

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April 19, 2012, 10:48 pm

Levon Helm’s voice in The Right Stuff.

RIP Levon Helm, who was not only of course the voice of The Band, but also of The Right Stuff, the voice warning softly,

There was a demon that lived in the air. They said whoever challenged him would die. Their controls would freeze up, their planes would buffet wildly, and they would disintegrate. The demon lived at Mach 1 on the meter, seven hundred and fifty miles an hour, where the air could no longer move out of the way. He lived behind a barrier through which they said no man could ever pass. They called it the sound barrier.

Helm also played Ridley, the trusted friend of Chuck Yeager, as depicted by Sam Shepard. I thought it was a kind of subversive genius, casting those two countercultural Dylan-associated types as these otherwise strait-laced American heroes.

As Pierce says, and as seems appropriate in this particular sidelight on Helm’s career, Godspeed.

March 28, 2012, 1:52 am

Rupert in red.

The incomparable Michelle Vaughan, who did the typography for this marvelous piece of work as well as 100 tweets has done a much more affordable limited run of Rupert Murdoch’s tweets. I recommend them to all discerning readers with a spare $30 (plus S&H) looking for some frameable wit. (Murdoch would surely like you to think of him as framed.)

March 18, 2012, 6:53 pm

Please don’t eat the Daiseys.

(Well it had to be something like that.)

I have three thoughts on This American Life‘s retraction of its episode, “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory.” If you do not involve yourself with public radio, Apple, or the Internet, briefly: (more…)

December 1, 2011, 10:51 am

… and the New Deal Denialists of DOOM!

Speaking of Charles Forsman as I was yesterday (he of the brilliant Raiders of the Lost Ark/Popeye mashup) I realized that the timing of the hiatus prevented my sharing with you my own Forsman original sketch.

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November 27, 2011, 7:45 pm

Black Friday Nerdblogging

The Apple Store, King of Prussia Mall, Friday at 1 pm:

Photo

Taken with an iPhone, of course.

November 26, 2011, 1:02 pm

Puts you there where things are hollow.

I’ve been listening to The Now Show on BBC Radio 4 since it began, which happened to be the first autumn I lived in England. Devoted readers of this blog will remember the time Mitch Benn showed up here, much to my delight.

So it was with mixed feelings I discovered that this week was the first time UC Davis cleared the Now Show threshold (in Josie Long’s bit, starting at 21:21).

To be honest, not so mixed: mostly deep unhappiness; this is also the first week I’ve seen UC Davis show up in a BBC headline. After all this time, with so many people working so hard to get UC Davis identified with serious research, this is what puts the campus on the international radar.

November 2, 2011, 4:48 pm

The past had better protect itself.

Stephen King’s rules for time travel, developed with the help of “heavyweight historians.”

December 9, 2010, 12:48 am

Subtle like an anvil.

So tonight President Obama appeared on Mythbusters, asking Adam and Jamie to revist the Archimedes death ray, which they had tested and busted twice before.

Which is to say, Barack Obama got some of the country’s coolest and most creative people to implement a policy that had already, for known and well established reasons, failed. Twice.

I’m sure it wasn’t meant as a metaphor.

November 13, 2010, 7:09 am

#IamSpartacus #ButReallyThisIsNuts RT RT RT

I’m sure most of you have seen this.  What’s curious is that Chambers wasn’t convicted of making terroristic threats; he wasn’t even charged with that.  Instead he’s a “menace”, convicted for roughly the equivalent of making prank telephone calls.   I’m not quite sure how that works, largely because he didn’t send the tweet to the airline. It looks like that first they overreacted to a tweet and then they punished him for causing their overreaction.  Stephen Fry has offered to pay the man’s legal bills, but the mark on his record is standing for now.

Anyone know anything about British law and why this conviction  isn’t obviously insane?