snap culture: January 2004

  1. Ian, 1/30/2004 0 comments
  2. William, 1/29/2004 0 comments
  3. ben, 1/29/2004 0 comments
  4. William, 1/29/2004 0 comments
  5. William, 1/28/2004 0 comments
  6. William, 1/28/2004 0 comments
  7. ben, 1/27/2004 0 comments
  8. William, 1/27/2004 0 comments
  9. William, 1/26/2004 0 comments
  10. ben, 1/26/2004 0 comments
  11. William, 1/23/2004 0 comments
  12. Ian, 1/21/2004 0 comments
  13. Ian, 1/21/2004 0 comments
  14. ben, 1/21/2004 0 comments
  15. ben, 1/17/2004 0 comments
  16. William, 1/17/2004 0 comments
  17. William, 1/16/2004 0 comments
  18. William, 1/15/2004 0 comments
  19. ben, 1/14/2004 0 comments
  20. ben, 1/12/2004 0 comments
  21. ben, 1/08/2004 0 comments
  22. William, 1/06/2004 0 comments
  23. William, 1/06/2004 0 comments
  24. William, 1/06/2004 0 comments
  25. ben, 1/05/2004 0 comments

1/30/2004 Add a comment

Imagine your college's spec/prosbie/prospective student weekend but with private jets and Tigerettes (I'm a poet and I don't even know it). These three stories about Willie Williams' trip to fsu auburn , and miami make fascinating reads. Willie, for those who don't read the Parade HS football all-american special (do they still do that?) or watched FSU vs. Miami in the diamond nuts bowl, is one of the top HS prospects in the land. Williams basically narrates these 'articles', and we get a good sense of his voice, an interesting mix of naiveté and worldliness that permeates big-time college athletics. We also learn that he hates spinach dip because `I ain't no animal, and I ain't going to eat no plant.' If at any point he has sex with twins, a la Ray Allen as a young college recruit, he politely keeps it to himself.
The seemingly arbitrary criteria he bases his judgement on (is the broken shower in the auburn hotel any indication of what four years of college will be like?) feel like petty justifications to cover his prejudgements. Or maybe I'm reading it too closely. Overall, we find that it takes a lot of lobster tails to convince someone to make you millions of dollars and not get paid for it. A system is perfectly designed to produce the results that it produces, and if these stories represent the results of big-money college athletics, something in the system needs to be changed. Ian

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1/29/2004 Add a comment

My dad went to that game at Knox, and he goes to see Grinnell play whenever they are in Jacksonville, Ill., playing Illinois College. I'd love to see them in person. William

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1/29/2004 Add a comment

Usually this annual article comes out after the Super Bowl in the dreaded space between the big game and March Madness, but I guess with a clunker like Pats/Panthers, the New York Times' sportswriters were already sitting around pondering what kinds of feel-good stories about sports they could come up with during the worst month in sports. Here's the first in what I'm sure will be a month-long series, Grinnell's Unusual Style Leads Nation in Scoring. I'm pretty sure they wrote the same story last year. The only thing they didn't mention was the average SAT score at Grinnell. ben

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1/29/2004 Add a comment

322.9! William

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1/28/2004 Add a comment

Make that 321. William

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1/28/2004 Add a comment

The next great time waster! My current high is 319.1. William

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1/27/2004 Add a comment

I call it "The Yuppie Perfecta":

Atlantic Monthly

The New Yorker

Harper's

The New York Times Magazine

Read these regularly and you'll have your finger on the pulse of what educated America is concerned with, or making fun of, or reading, or listening to, or thumbing their noses at. Each has added more material to their web sites in recent years, making it even easier to get access to some of the best journalistic work around. Harper's for some reason was the least web-friendly, despite being the cheapest for a year's subscription. The NYT Magazine wins the most web-friendly award, as far as I can tell everything's online except for the ads. Right now I subscribe to the Atlantic (X-mas present from Meghan...thanks!) and the New Yorker ($25 a year student deal...can't beat that) and read the NYT Mag online weekly. They sure makes for good study-break reading, and they feed the effete east-coast liberal snob side of me.

By the way, according to Ian, anyone can call up and ask for the New Yorker student discount, no proof of being a "student" required. But, uh, you didn't hear that from me. ben

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1/27/2004 Add a comment

What's the big deal? So what if a minor league baseball player does a little gay porn to earn a little scratch in college? I mean, now they're going to have to make a big deal about the civil union between Tom Brady and Jake Delhomme. Oops, did I let that slip? Sorry guys. William

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1/26/2004 Add a comment

Ben, wow. Um, yeah, "CBS Sunday Morning" is one of my all-time faves, and I try to watch every week. It's so antithetical to our generation's News! Now! philosophy--well-thought and pleasantly paced features that go beyond the 7-second soundbite and 2-minute story. I liken it to NPR for television. (In fact the CBS crew calls it a Sunday paper on television.) In any event, it's wonderful. And if you like it, you'll also love PRI's "This American Life" on the radio. Have fun going through the archives. Ira Glass has become a kind of uber-radio-geek and has faced a bit of a backlash in certain sectors of "cool," but it's still a wonderful program, perhaps the best radio show out there.

Which brings me to a pet peeve. Some very quality things get dissed just because they become popular. It's the age-old question of the sell-out. Can things still be good once they are big? I'm currently reading "Live From New York" about SNL's history, and this debate was going on back then, too, and it's probably gone on as long as anything has been "cool" or "hip" or whatever. I reason that even if something gains popularity with the masses, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's lost its edge completely. SNL certainly has gotten less edgy as the years have gone on, but it's still remarkable that it's around and has the occasional ability to hit it out of the park.

Perhaps because "CBS Sunday Morning" is aimed at an older audience, it hasn't really been on the "hip" rollercoaster, but "This American Life" has to some degree, even when quality has remained the same. Sometimes the fickle winds of popularity need to get over themselves. William

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1/26/2004 Add a comment

Aside from Simpsons reruns and sports, the only t.v. show I regularly watch is CBS Sunday Morning. Here's a story from the Post about their 25th anniversary. And a chat with host Charles Osgood.

Personally, I think Bill Geist is funny. But maybe that's just me. Will, are you in shock that that's the only regularly scheduled t.v.-time in my busy life? Also, I'm thrilled to see Ian making some contributions to SnapCulture. I'd love to see a new Ian post every day. But again, maybe that's just me. ben

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1/23/2004 Add a comment

Ah, don't know how I missed this before, but Gawker now has a kid sister in DC, Wonkette. Wonkette is a good source for politics and DC-related gossip, but like most things in DC, it's relatively tame compared to its NYC brother. Nevertheless, I'm adding a perma-link to the side of the page. William

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1/21/2004 Add a comment

As we march into the new year we must not forget our brothers of the establishment. We rarely hear their self-assured voices--except in protest--when it comes to art/music/creative enterprise. That’s why my favorite ‘Best of the Year’ list every year is the National Review Online’s Music Top Ten. It’s the only review that (negatively) evaluates music based on its tendency to “actively corrode bourgeois values…”

After thinking about why I like this review so much, I realized that it’s hard to be a conservative music critic. It requires two separate balancing acts:

A) As an admirer of ‘tradition’ it is sometimes difficult to pick the best of the new. Notice the tone of disappointment in this article. Another year of pop failure. Kids these days. Nothing is quite like it was when it was better (David Bowie makes the top ten). While the kids at Pitchfork Media rush head long into new musical expression that will ‘change the world’—implicitly a good thing because the world currently needs changing—the NRO can’t be so enthusiastic.

B) Free marketeers versus social conservatives. It’s the same internal debate you’ll find everywhere on the NRO. The market has chosen it’s winners and since the market is the most efficient expression of popular taste, the best selling albums of 2003 are the best. But the social conservatives know this isn’t true, and Karnick has to acknowledge this. See his championing of the tiny 'Be' by Salem Hill with the fervor of an indie rocker.

So where do these influences lead Karnick? He picks Prog-rock, with a Barenaked Ladies, Blink 182, Fountains of Wayne twist. Old, melodic, popular, inoffensive. A perfect fit.

The details of the review are also enjoyable, watch for this quote about hiphop: “Rap, once all but ubiquitous, seems to be waning, slowly but surely; the broader category if hip-hop, though, with its rather more positive social aura, is still going strong.” Hmm, I thought from my sources on the street that rap was an activity, hiphop was the culture; it still seems like the act of 'rapping' is pretty popular (check the grammy nominations). And is he thinking of ‘positive social aura’ of Eminem, 50 cent, or Ludacris? Maybe he just heard the Blackeyed Peas one too many times this year (like us all).

Addendum: Being conservative is cool, which is something the guys at the The Baffler have been saying since the mid-nineties, although they are more dumbfounded, asking how did supporting big business become anti-establishment? Ian

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1/21/2004 Add a comment

From the Friendster Bulletin Board of Matt Schwartz:

Many thanks to everyone who helped. Here are the results:

What accounts for the rise of the word “awesome?” There are many theories. Here are five:

1. “Awesome” is usually an absurd overstatement of one’s approval, which calls
the approval itself into question, which absolves one from the consequences of
actually approving.
2. The rapidly improving quality of consumer goods and popular entertainments has given rise to a higher instance of genuine awe. That is to say, the world is already a pretty awesome place, and it is getting even more awesome every day.
3. A chasm has suddenly yawned open between the present and the past. The aging
youth flings a rope-bridge into the air, attempting to span the gap. “Awesome” is the
sound the rope-bridge makes as it clatters down the side of the canyon’s wall.
4. The absence of actual awe has left behind lingering trace hopes that merely calling
something awesome will make it so.
5. “Awesome” is a very easy and pleasurable word to say. Ian

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1/21/2004 Add a comment

Tocqueville would have been proud. The Onion nails the problem with Democracies. Hilarious stuff. ben

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1/17/2004 Add a comment

I have to confess that this happens to me all the time too, except for me it's usually:

1) tetris
2) pro wrestling
3) castlevania
4) rygar
5) tyson's punch-out ben

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1/17/2004 Add a comment

The relationship between sportswriter and jock is a complicated one, sometimes involving the olfactory sense. When it comes to the baseball Hall of Fame, there's an added twist of sportswriters being the gatekeepers to immortality. William

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1/16/2004 Add a comment

How does this happen? A commuter plane lands at the wrong airport, and it's not even a commercial airport. William

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1/15/2004 Add a comment

What a coincidence! I have several black friendsters, too! William

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1/14/2004 Add a comment

Seems like a stretch, but without hockey, the Wright brothers would probably never have flown first . Yes, hockey. Read to the very end of the article.

Also, some "Sky is blue" news about advances in dentistry over the past 50 years, and changing perceptions about looking good for television by hockey players. ben

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1/12/2004 Add a comment

Rappers are apparently trading in their guns and jewelry for Charities and puppies and everything nice. Gimme a break. These guys are all about making more money, and if saying "I don't wear big expensive jewelry anymore" is going to appeal to more people, they'll do it. I have no faith in the "hip-hop" industry that has been exclusively trying to appeal to mainstream (read: white) audiences for the past 20 years trying to pretend that it's "keeping it real".

(Thanks for the link Meghan!) ben

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1/08/2004 Add a comment

Easily the funniest movie review of all time. Hugely inappropriate if you are offended by potty-humor. But that doesn't apply to me, and never has. ben

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1/06/2004 Add a comment

Another old columnist shakes off the rust! Thomas Boswell cranks out a decent column on Pete Rose finally admitting he bet on baseball! William

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1/06/2004 Add a comment

An actually funny Dave Barry column that veers from his standard formula: a reader sent this in, and I'm going to use this opportunity to intersperse funny words like "woodchuck" and "poop." William

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1/06/2004 Add a comment

I missed this previously, but Newyorkish has published a nice compendium of the government's secret sites, including, perhaps, Dick Cheney's "secure, undisclosed location." Also, I'm adding Newyorkish to the "Daily Reads" section to the right. William

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1/05/2004 Add a comment

Slate's 34 best movies of the year. For my picks, I'd say I liked Lost in Translation, The Station Agent, A Mighty Wind, Lord of the Rings and Something's Gotta Give. Sadly, those are pretty much all of the movies I've seen this year. I have to see The Cooler, and rent Spellbound, School of Rock, American Splendor, and Kill Bill.

For a discussion of the year's best movies, Slate's roundtable is the place to go. ben

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