snap culture: September 2007

  1. Fall Movie Season is here ben, 9/28/2007 0 comments
  2. I'm very confident. There is no time for being cautiously optimistic. That's for losers. ben, 9/27/2007 0 comments
  3. And six-way ties? You bet. ben, 9/26/2007 0 comments
  4. where's mah jong? ben, 9/26/2007 0 comments
  5. Fall TV review: Chuck William, 9/25/2007 0 comments
  6. Fall TV review: Kid Nation William, 9/25/2007 0 comments
  7. Quirky William, 9/25/2007 0 comments
  8. 2 1/2 hours in the gym a day explains it ben, 9/25/2007 0 comments
  9. Fall TV review: Survivor: China William, 9/24/2007 0 comments
  10. And then the Onion comes along ben, 9/24/2007 0 comments
  11. Fall TV review: Back to You William, 9/21/2007 0 comments
  12. when I heard The Chronic, I was like, "Aaaah!" ben, 9/19/2007 1 comments
  13. making outrageous claims ben, 9/18/2007 0 comments
  14. Morale is low ben, 9/17/2007 0 comments
  15. like a hole in the head ben, 9/12/2007 0 comments
  16. I call BS ben, 9/11/2007 1 comments
  17. Definitely the funniest thing since Miss Teen South Carolina William, 9/10/2007 1 comments
  18. just in time... ben, 9/07/2007 1 comments
  19. better than maps for the Iraq ben, 9/05/2007 0 comments
  20. How do you feel this morning, Ben? William, 9/04/2007 0 comments
  21. i yam what i yam ben, 9/04/2007 0 comments

9/28/2007 Add a comment

And with it, of course, is a rundown of the Oscar hopefuls, courtesy of the Onion. Unfortunately they aren't big fans of Wes Anderson's Darjeeling Limited, but I'm excited for it nonetheless. ben

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9/27/2007 Add a comment

The Cubs are starting to freak me out. I'm at work, following the game on the Tribune's From the Cubicle, which tells me the Cubs are already losing 3-1 against the lowly Marlins (who they've lost 9 straight against, stretching back to last year, if you're counting). If they lose tonight, they'll probably need to win 2 of 3 against the Reds.

What will make me feel better? Maybe this interview with Bill Murray (which is where the quote in the title is from). Or this clip of Bill Murray's guest broadcast on WGN from 1987. I need to watch the whole thing. ben

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9/26/2007 Add a comment

This would be unprecedentedly awesome: A six-way tie for the NL playoffs, which would require a ton of single-elimination playoff games. The Cubs could (very easily) end up tied with the Brew Crew as well. We might see quite a few baseball games with a lot on the line in the next ten days. ben

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9/26/2007 Add a comment

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9/25/2007 Add a comment

NBC's new "Chuck" is fun. The first episode was dynamite, at one point literally. It's like "Alias" meets "The Office," and the actor who plays Chuck looks a lot like John Krasinski. There are elements of "The O.C." in it, including a random moody soundtrack and a visit from some obscure indie band. This is all natural because it's by Josh Schwartz, the guy behind "The O.C." In any case, it's pure, giddy fun. The nerdy pal is a little too much like Seth Green for my taste, but what can you do. The rest of it is great.

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William

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9/25/2007 Add a comment

For all of the hype about child labor law violations, stove burns, and bleach-drinking, Kid Nation wasn't terrible. It was manipulative. (Hey kids, wouldn't it be a great idea to divide into four teams?) It was hokey. It alternated between endearing and annoying. But there was something engaging about seeing the range of maturity between ages 8 and 15, about the two older troublemakers realizing that, hey, waitaminute, you mean I could win $20,000? The abundance of candy and soda already wears on one's patience, but for a kid-based reality show, they can't break out the alcohol to help move the plot along, so perhaps sugar is the producers' next best weapon. I'm sure I will regret watching, but not as much as I'd regret not watching. Don't you hate it when that happens?

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William

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9/25/2007 Add a comment

This Atlantic Monthly article on quirk for quirk's sake (or is it quirkiness for quirkiness' sake?) attacks many of my sacred cows -- "This American Life," "Flight of the Conchords," "Arrested Development." The author rightly praises Rushmore, but in general, there is too much attitude of "I'm calling you on your bluff of being deep, introspective, etc." Why can't "quirky and endearing" be an enjoyable quality? When David Cross' Tobias dresses like a member of Blue Man Group, it's funny, and it's even funnier in later episodes when we see blue paint residue sprinkled around the Bluth family's model home.

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William

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9/25/2007 Add a comment

An article from the LA Times on Dr. Dre confirms that the good doctor spends over two hours a day in the gym. That explains the photo posted here earlier. He's working on his new album, but it doesn't sound like it's coming out any time soon. The rest of the article reads like a sloppy Wikipedia entry. A few good tidbits here and there, though. ben

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9/24/2007 Add a comment

So Survivor is in its umpteenth edition, and there are the usual crew of idiots and occasional smart and/or strong people, but there is one reason above all else to watch. If you have high def, Survivor is easily the most beautifully shot show on television. The lush greens of rural China and the deep blue skies. The colors may not all be true-to-life, and the scenes are most certainly shot out of sequence, but who cares? And with Chinese culture as a backdrop, there's a new twist -- it's not some random tropical/polynesian island anymore.

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William

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9/24/2007 Add a comment

and destroys things I hold dear:
LOS ANGELES—Fans who attended a sneak preview Monday of critically acclaimed director Wes Anderson's newest project, The Darjeeling Limited, were surprised to learn that the film features a deadpan comedic tone, highly stylized production design, and a plot centering around unresolved family issues.

"What will he think of next?" audience member Michael Cauley said. "And who could have foreseen the elaborately crafted '60s-era aesthetic, melancholy subtext, and quirky nomenclature—to say nothing of the unexpected curveball of casting Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, and Bill Murray?"

In a recent review, New York Times film critic A.O. Scott also expressed surprise at the film's cutting-edge soundtrack, which features a Rolling Stones song and three different tracks by the Kinks.
Ouch. ben

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9/21/2007 Add a comment

As I watch new fall shows, I'll try to provide 3-minute capsule reviews. Many of these will be on DVR delay.

Last night, I watched "Back to You," Fox's new traditional-format (3-camera, laugh track) sitcom with Kelsey Grammar and Patricia Heaton last night. Stinks. It's exactly like you would expect "Frasier on Fox" to look like. Telegraphed jokes, bright colors, and a cheap rip-off of the great movie Broadcast News, with sexual tension between the anchors. The twist here is that Grammar and Heaton (no need to remember character names) shared a one-night stand in Pittsburgh before Grammar headed off to greener pastures 10 years ago. He got fired in L.A. after a YouTube clip caught him using foul language to refer to the weather girl. Now, back in Pittsburgh again, he's discovers Heaton has a 10-year-old. And it's his. Fade to black, "Frasier"-style.

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William

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9/19/2007 Add a comment

As this blog continues to be your source for all things Q-Tip, here's a great interview from the Village Voice. His new album is coming out next month (supposedly), he's touring with Common (dates and locations), and maybe someday they'll get around to releasing his two albums that are collecting dust and gathering momentum from signatures on petitions for access for the masses. ben

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  1. Blogger Roberto Iza: Regards 9/20/2007  

9/18/2007 Add a comment

This guy says he created the :-). And incredibly enough, no one disputes it. Fortunately he's stepping up so we don't get some stupid-ass movie like Forrest Gump to come along and claim that a worthless idiot savant made it up by wiping his face on a t-shirt. Have I mentioned that I hate that movie?

Anyways, next thing you know, this guy is going to be accusing chestnuts of being lazy. The sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament. ben

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9/17/2007 Add a comment



One of my favorite computer games as a kid was Oregon Trail. You can find it online at VirtualApple, but it doesn't work on macs or sometimes on other computers, apparently.

Now the makers of those storage containers for car racks, Thule, has updated the classic game for modern times. It's called Thule Trail, and it's very similar to the original. I particularly enjoyed hunting pizza. ben

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9/12/2007 Add a comment

just what everyone's been calling for, a longer baseball postseason. When are they going to realize that this kills any and all momentum and interest in the sport? Haven't the last few years of NBA finals ratings taught them anything? This is an awful decision...expect lots of complaints from the media in a few months. ben

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9/11/2007 Add a comment

this story can't possibly be true:
As Julian McCormick recalls it, he lay in and out of consciousness for eight days and seven nights, hot, sticky and bloody with not a clue as to what day it was or how he ended up trapped in his overturned car at the bottom of a steep embankment in Prince George's County.

To survive, he ate a fish he caught with his hands and used his high-top sneaker to drink water from the creek, the 18-year-old Bowie State University student told his parents.

When he finally was able to muster the strength, he cut his seat belt using a small knife he had in his car, forced his door open and then dragged himself by his elbows, his body racked with pain, 30 feet up to the shoulder of the road hoping that someone would see him and rescue him. Someone did.
So let me get this straight: McCormick was too weak to cut his seat belt but he could catch a fish with his bare hands? Was this a minnow, or a catfish, or a swordfish or what? Did he catch it while he was upside-down, still belted in to his car? Was the creek running through his overturned car?

I'm not saying I don't believe that he was in a car accident and survived for 8 days, but the details of this story don't ring true to me. Give it a read and let me know if it passes your smell test. ben

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  1. Blogger William: Given where it supposedly took place, I'm surprised it wasn't a snakehead he caught. And because snakeheads can walk from pond to pond, the snakehead probably dragged him to safety! 9/11/2007  

9/10/2007 Add a comment

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William

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  1. Blogger ben: i think this is how Americans should settle disagreements from now on. It's awfully close to the "white guy" dance move, sometimes known as the Crazy Knee. Maybe they were breakdance-fighting. pop it and lock it, fool! 9/11/2007  

9/07/2007 Add a comment

Rick Ankiel gets tied to the HGH case in Florida. Here's the article. Sorry, Will. Though the way these things are going, they might slap him on the wrist next season. Where the hell is the Barry Bonds indictment? The man lied in front of a grand jury, for chrissakes! ben

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  1. Blogger William: The last shipment he received was in 2004 and the MLB ban didn't happen until 2005, so he shouldn't be banned by MLB.

    Also, this reminds me of the great Mark McGwire appearance on the Simpsons. To paraphrase:

    McGwire: "Hey kids! Do you want to know the dirty truth OR do you want to see me hit some dingers."

    All: "DINGERS!!"

    (and yes, how appropriate it was McGwire saying that.)
    9/07/2007  

9/05/2007 Add a comment

There's a lot of talk about maps lately, but the maps that concern me most are the useful and interesting NFL TV distribution maps that come out every week and tell you what games are going to be on your local tv. We're a Bears and Steelers household (though not necessarily in that order, at times), and whaddya know, we get Pats/Jets and then the trainwreck that is Lions/Raiders instead of Steelers/Browns and Bears/Chargers. I guess we'll either follow the games online or head to the bar. ben

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9/04/2007 Add a comment

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William

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9/04/2007 Add a comment

back from NYC and the US Open...we saw some great tennis, including the first three sets of the Djokovic thriller. But we left that match to get out of the sun and closer to the action. We saw Carlos Moya up close and were particularly impressed by his Popeye arm. His right arm, and particularly right shoulder, are about twice as big as his left. I can't find a picture online to do it justice, but here's one:

It's reminiscent of the most famous Popeye arm of all time, Guillermo Vilas:

Supposedly Rod Laver had this as well, but I can't find any decent photos of it. I think it was more unavoidable when you're swinging a heavy wooden racket, but couldn't Carlos even them out a bit with some cross-training? The tribal armband tattoo only adds to the effect. ben

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