Sunday, August 23, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

This was great fun: hanging out for a couple hours inside the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Maybe my favorite '70s soul record.

Way to go, internet! (via Maura)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

You learn something new everyday. I didn't think I could possibly like "Happy House" chopped down to three minutes, nor did I think a video could actually make the song even better. But I do and it does. Wow.

Mike Sacks's And Here's the Kicker has become one of my favorite books this year--conversations with 21 humor writers. Apparently it was going to be 25; the four not in the book are on McSweeney's, and are as good as the ones in the book.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A.O. Scott and Roger Ebert in perfect harmony. Makes me think I should do something similar--god knows how rotten things are for pop this year.

This is one of the greatest projects I've ever seen.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

I'm vaguely embarrassed that in the nine years since I first visited New York it took till today--and only because Angela wanted to go--to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We started in the Egyptian exhibit; it was hard to focus on the walls of papyrus hieroglyphics and wall drawings, but that changed soon, and a lot--a LOT--of what I saw there and in the Arms and Armor, Medieval Art, European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, American Decorative Arts, the Oceania stuff (briefly, really want to dig into that more), and especially Modern Art exhibits was just breathtaking. That's less than half of the first floor; two-and-a-half hours on our feet was more tiring than we'd expected. It was one of the most life-affirming things I've experienced, and there's so much more to take in. Dozens of permanent revelations to process: Tiffany as middle-class exoticist! Finally seeing Hopper up close! Grant Wood's "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere"! Stuart Davis! O'Keeffe's "Black Iris"! The "colossal head" of an Egyptian woman with only the right half of the face remaining! In the Egyptian room, music swimming inside my head: old jungle, new dubstep/grime/wonky/whatever. Thoughts about the way de-privileging the rock narrative lets the music breathe anew. Endless evidence that knowing deep roots charges you up for the future, not the opposite. Years-old anti-intellectual stances I wasn't even aware I'd ever carried around utterly crumbling. The Modern Art galleries like a deep, unexpected homecoming. (The Walker was a lot more formative on me than I'd ever realized.) I can't wait to go again.

Julie & Julia might be the most bipolar movie ever made. Half of it is a very charming period comedy-drama about the road a singular, lively woman took toward bridging a crucial cultural gap, mostly out of instinct and love and drive; it made her famous, but that was effect, not motivation. Meryl Streep plays Julia Child somewhat cartoonishly, but that's a lot of why it works: Child knew she was an odd duck and reveled in it, in part because her wildly harmonious marriage to Paul Child gave her so much space to not worry about being something other than herself. (I might have enjoyed Stanley Tucci as Paul even more than I did Streep; his long pause followed by a perfect "Fuck them!" is probably the best moment in the movie.)

The other half is a nightmare. On our way back from the theater, Angela and I puzzled over whether Amy Adams's performance as Julie Powell was or wasn't the problem. I don't think it was--she seems to have played the role as written, and as written the role isn't merely uninteresting but repellent. The onscreen Powell is a self-impressed nitwit, and the idea that we're supposed to root for her is an insult. I've never read Powell's blog or book, and based on what was presented onscreen I never want to: as the posts are typed/read over onscreen, I kept wondering when someone was going to break it to her that she, you know, can't write. When we find out that Julia Child herself dislikes the blog, the only logical response is, "Duh."

Powell works at a call center for 9/11 victims, but when we see her doing her job we're supposed to feel sorry for her, not the people she's trying to help--not shrewd. At one point, when she calls in sick after having overcooked an important dinner, she's given a warning, but I was hoping she'd get fired--maybe it would build character, or give her more time to cook and/or think about what stepping into Child's recipes actually means beyond her one quasi-crisis, when her husband spends the night at the office because the project has made her too self-absorbed. He seems not to have figured out that it isn't the project's fault. Child writes Mastering the Art of French Cuisine because she wants everyone to have the same pleasure she's experienced. The onscreen Powell writes her blog about cooking her way through Julia's book because she craves status; the sequence in which dozens of book, magazine, TV, and newspaper offers pour in thanks to a New York Times profile has the stomach-sinking effect of being in the room during the moment the light bulb went on over Perez Hilton's head. The Julia half made me want to eat, travel, live. The Julie half made me want to delete my blogs.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Oh man is this good.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Greatest Year Ever, pt. 3

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

This is one of the geekier things I've written, and one of the most enjoyable: a consideration of how pop album lengths have shrunk over the past decade.

Greatest Year Ever, pt. 2

Sunday, August 02, 2009