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Updated: 2008-03-20T18:45:17Z

 



In the line of fire

2008-03-20T18:45:17Z

Talk about intrepid reporting: I'd like to seen an embedded war journalist knowingly step into this.... Talk about intrepid reporting: I'd like to seen an embedded war journalist knowingly step into this.



Talking radio

2008-03-13T19:20:11Z

The biggest stories to come out of talk radio this election cycle have been found on the right side of the dial, as it were. First there was Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and co.'s aggressive campaign against Sen. John McCain.... The biggest stories to come out of talk radio this election cycle have been found on the right side of the dial, as it were. First there was Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and co.'s aggressive campaign against Sen. John McCain. More recently, we've seen Rush spearhead an apparently effective gambit to prop up Hillary Clinton with backhanded Republican support. What I'm wondering is, with excitement on the left more intense than it's been since, well, 2006, and with Democratic turnout so sky-high, why hasn't there been a boost in listenership for Air America Radio or other liberal talk-radio outlets? Ratings reports aren't current enough to bear out my hunch — and lefties will charge the game is rigged against them — but I'd be surprised if liberal talk has seen a significant uptick this year. I'm going to go out on a limb and say this might have something to do with it: National Public Radio's audience is bigger than it's ever been.



Mamet sees the dark

2008-03-12T17:38:55Z

Playwright-author-screenwriter David Mamet has a piece (in the Village Voice, of all places) describing his gradual realization that '60s utopian-leftist idealism just doesn't square with reality. The nutgraph, buried deep in a wonderfully discursive piece: And I realized that the... Playwright-author-screenwriter David Mamet has a piece (in the Village Voice, of all places) describing his gradual realization that '60s utopian-leftist idealism just doesn't square with reality. The nutgraph, buried deep in a wonderfully discursive piece:
And I realized that the time had come for me to avow my participation in that America in which I chose to live, and that that country was not a schoolroom teaching values, but a marketplace. "Aha," you will say, and you are right. I began reading not only the economics of Thomas Sowell (our greatest contemporary philosopher) but Milton Friedman, Paul Johnson, and Shelby Steele, and a host of conservative writers, and found that I agreed with them: a free-market understanding of the world meshes more perfectly with my experience than that idealistic vision I called liberalism.



'Just show me where to park my carcass'

2008-03-07T20:57:05Z

Annie Leibovitz, Robert Johnson playing the background, and Keith being ... Keith: Yes, he remains the coolest dude on earth.... Annie Leibovitz, Robert Johnson playing the background, and Keith being ... Keith: Yes, he remains the coolest dude on earth.



The Boss' iPod

2008-02-28T18:23:39Z

Dovetailing with my recent piece contrasting "Little" Steven Van Zandt's reactionary opinion of new rock with Bruce Springsteen's small-c catholic listening habits, check out what's on the latter's iPod.... Dovetailing with my recent piece contrasting "Little" Steven Van Zandt's reactionary opinion of new rock with Bruce Springsteen's small-c catholic listening habits, check out what's on the latter's iPod.



Night falls ... again

2008-02-21T21:59:47Z

If I didn't know better, I'd swear this trailer for M. Night Shyamalan's forthcoming "The Happening" was a parody of a really bad M. Night Shyamalan movie, put together by some band of guerrilla short-film makers. That, or an SNL... If I didn't know better, I'd swear this trailer for M. Night Shyamalan's forthcoming "The Happening" was a parody of a really bad M. Night Shyamalan movie, put together by some band of guerrilla short-film makers. That, or an SNL skit starring Mark Wahlberg. Nope. It's a genuine really bad M. Night Shyamalan movie.



No more No Depression

2008-02-20T19:34:03Z

Times are tough for print publications as it is. Just imagine how tenuous is the business model of a small, niche-driven magazine that covers the music industry. Such, at any rate, is the sad, double-whammied fate of No Depression, the... Times are tough for print publications as it is. Just imagine how tenuous is the business model of a small, niche-driven magazine that covers the music industry. Such, at any rate, is the sad, double-whammied fate of No Depression, the alt-country magazine that will shutter its dead-tree operations after 13 years of publication. R.I.P. Reminds me of these halcyon days.



Music-gifting etiquette in the Digital Age

2008-03-20T20:09:57Z

Hmm. Perhaps this is a question better suited for a self-described ethicist, for I am hopelessly undecided. A friend asks whether it's appropriate to open and download for oneself a CD bought as a gift for a loved one. Generally,... Hmm. Perhaps this is a question better suited for a self-described ethicist, for I am hopelessly undecided. A friend asks whether it's appropriate to open and download for oneself a CD bought as a gift for a loved one. Generally, I think the removal of plastic packaging constitutes a breach of gift-giving etiquette. The benefit, too, of personal consumption that accrues to oneself via the download is another ethical red flag. Then again, music in this day and age is such an amorphous commodity; who, really, can claim ownership of it at all? And at a time when you can get almost any new release for free, giving someone a hard copy is itself an effort that constitutes a gift of a kind. I guess, ultimately, it depends on the loved one. What do you, wise readers, think?



'What is the What' are you talking about?!

2008-02-17T21:32:34Z

In what has to be one of the most egregious wastes of inch-count ever in the "Paper of Record," novelist Dave Eggers laments Hillary Clinton's victory (in raw popular vote, at least) over Barack Obama in the California Democratic primary.... In what has to be one of the most egregious wastes of inch-count ever in the "Paper of Record," novelist Dave Eggers laments Hillary Clinton's victory (in raw popular vote, at least) over Barack Obama in the California Democratic primary. Given Obama's triumphs in states like Kansas and Idaho and Virginia, this outcome, Eggers suggests, is ironic. California, you see, is supposed to be more "progressive" than Kansas and Idaho and Virgina. And Barack Obama, as every sentient person knows, is the most "progressive" candidate in the race. Therefore California has been, in Eggers terminology, "out-progressived" by the normally benighted peoples of the South and Midwest. "It was hard not to detect, at least here in the Bay Area, the sense of disappointment in our state after the subsequent primary results. To be out-progressived by Alabama, Maryland and North Dakota? Painful," Eggers writes. "Syllogistic" is what I think they call this kind of reasoning. Something tells me that if one were to shake Dave Eggers by the lapels and say, "It's more complicated than that" — there are demographic factors, such as race and class and education levels, at work here — he would just tune me out. Barack Obama's emergence as the "change agent" (or should we just come right out and call him a prophet?) is nearly complete. Much as I find Obama personally charming and decent, this is what fatally turns me off about the Obama candidacy — namely, the condescension that is at the core of his overeducated elite supporters. To oppose Obama — for Clintonites, as well as Republicans — is to stand in the way of The Way. Gag.



The Writers Guild and gloom

2008-01-18T15:26:59Z

As a corrective on my piece today on the Hollywood writers' strike, in which I notice that the media's sympathies seem clearly on the side of the writers, Rob Long, the TV writer and producer and National Review contributor, says,... As a corrective on my piece today on the Hollywood writers' strike, in which I notice that the media's sympathies seem clearly on the side of the writers, Rob Long, the TV writer and producer and National Review contributor, says, Hold on a minute:
The real player here, aside from all of the nonsense celebrity coverage, is Variety, which relies on studio advertising, but is also the last word around here for news and analysis. So it matters to the writers if Variety seems to be tilting to the studios. The truth is, Variety seems generally pessimistic about the chance that the writers have to make a good deal. They're skeptical of the guild's claims to have a lot of leverage, and a lot of writers don't like to read that. Even if it's true.
Long might be onto something, as my take was, well, decidedly pessimistic. And given some of the coverage of the Directors Guild of America's recent compromise with the studios — the common reaction seems to go something like, "Now that wasn't so hard, was it?!" — it appears the media is generally growing exhausted with the strike. Typical.



Soundtrack at Ron Paul HQ

2007-12-17T15:38:22Z

Hey: Who was the light bulb who chose ... Bush ... as Ron Paul's coffer-ticker crossed the $12 million barrier?!... Hey: Who was the light bulb who chose ... Bush ... as Ron Paul's coffer-ticker crossed the $12 million barrier?!



Words and music, man

2007-12-14T20:53:20Z

So I've got a thumbsucker out today about how the downloading of music has, happily, restored the mystery of song lyrics. Unlike in the Cretaceous, when most CDs came readily packaged with lyrics, today you have to bring up a... So I've got a thumbsucker out today about how the downloading of music has, happily, restored the mystery of song lyrics. Unlike in the Cretaceous, when most CDs came readily packaged with lyrics, today you have to bring up a .PDF file with your download or consult Dr. Google. Who has time for that? A reader sends along some more food for thought: Author-critic Jurgen Fauth's essay arguing that Grateful Dead lyrics depend for meaning on the context of the live experience. Nutgraph:
The strength of the band is unquestionably the live concert — the Grateful Dead have been the number one grossing touring band over the last couple of years, outdoing the likes of Madonna and Paul McCartney, without releasing a new studio album since "Built to Last" in 1989. This means that the usual way Hunter lyrics are being perceived is at a concert. Therefore, everything that happens at a Grateful Dead concert should be taken into account when reading the lyrics.
And then lyricist Robert Hunter's response. Finally, a treat for those who made it to the end of all three pieces!



Zep

2007-12-11T23:07:26Z

The band sounds pretty powerful, even if Robert Plant's voice is quite obviously half-shot (musicians out there will notice "Stairway" is down a whole step now to Gm). But enough of me. Here's what you're really after: * "Good Times... The band sounds pretty powerful, even if Robert Plant's voice is quite obviously half-shot (musicians out there will notice "Stairway" is down a whole step now to Gm). But enough of me. Here's what you're really after: * "Good Times Band Times" * "Stairway" * "Since I've Been Loving You" * And a bit of "Black Dog" Will they tour? I'd be shocked if they didn't. And I doubt they'll be able to top this lineup.



Updike on the uptake

2007-11-28T02:59:38Z

In a review of "Odd Jobs: Essays and Criticism," Martin Amis wrote of John Updike: Beckett was the headmaster of the Writing as Agony school. On a good day, he would stare at the wall for eighteen hours or so,... In a review of "Odd Jobs: Essays and Criticism," Martin Amis wrote of John Updike:
Beckett was the headmaster of the Writing as Agony school. On a good day, he would stare at the wall for eighteen hours or so, feeling entirely terrible; and, if he was lucky, a few words like NEVER or END or NOTHING or NO WAY might brand themselves on his bleeding eyes. Whereas Updike, of course, is a psychotic Santa of volubility, emerging from one or another of his studies (he is said to have four of them) with his morning sackful of reviews, speeches, reminiscences, think-pieces, forewords, prefaces, introductions, stories, playlets and poems. Preparing his cup of Sanka over the singing kettle, he wears his usual expression: that of a man beset by embarrassment of delicious drolleries. The telephone starts ringing. A science magazine wants something pithy on the philosophy of subatomic thermodynamics; a fashion magazine wants 10,000 words on his favourite colour. No problem -- but can they hang on? Updike has to go upstairs again and blurt out a novel.
This riff was obviously a comic exaggeration. Or not. Because here comes Updike, for the first time in National Geographic, writing about ... dinosaurs, in all their multitudinous strangeness. Also, here's an interesting Q&A between Updike and National Geographic science editor Jamie Shreeve. Not only did Updike write eloquently about a largely unfamiliar subject; he turned the piece in six weeks early. At the end of the interview, Shreeve asks Updike whether Darwinian evolutionary theory is compatible with belief in God. Updike's answer is worth quoting in full:
Just barely, I think. But I, like many people, I live with ambiguity. And that boy David Kern in that story arrived, after wrestling with the reality of death, which is after all the aspect of geological time that we don't really like that it means we too will become extinct and a hand full of dust, he arrived at the argument from design by looking at the feathers of recently slain pigeons and couldn't believe that a universe as beautiful, that made so many beautiful things as this one, could allow him to wink out like a candle in a dark room. So, I am a church going Christian at the same time I certainly am fascinated by science, I get Scientific American for example, and I try and keep up in a way with what science tells us. Increasingly strange things they keep telling us, too, about the subatomic particles and lately about the huge universe that surrounds us. I don't know, I think I'd be gloomy without some faith that there is a purpose and there is a kind of witness to my life.



Traitorous Bon Jovi!

2007-11-28T03:04:06Z

Corner blogger Kathryn Jean Lopez is incredulous that Jersey residents aren't crying foul at Jon Bon Jovi's move to Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood, while maintaining a home in Red Bank, N.J., apparently with the thought of one day running for governor... Corner blogger Kathryn Jean Lopez is incredulous that Jersey residents aren't crying foul at Jon Bon Jovi's move to Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood, while maintaining a home in Red Bank, N.J., apparently with the thought of one day running for governor of the Garden State. I think I speak for many Jerseyites when I say: Good riddance and/or fat chance!