Sunday, December 11, 2005
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Bono's recent interview with Ed Bradley on 60 Minutes stirred up all my mixed emotions about U2's "resurgence" in the 21st century as a watered-down, honorably tame version of their former "classic" selves. Bono is nothing if not sincere about his activism, but the music leaves me ... not cold ... more like vaguely uninterested, with a nagging sense that I should be more impressed than I am.
Staci Schwartz discusses these similar feelings in a recent concert piece in The Village Voice. She's more a devotee than I am at this point, but she nicely captures what it feels like to still love the band -- and she does give the proper perspective on Bono's rare ability to actually get fans to care about the same issues he cares about.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Hopefully in a few years, we'll be able to look back and laugh.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Here's Schickel on the crucial difference between an essay and a review ...
[R]eviews are not essays, those lengthy and leisurely reflections on careers or themes aimed at an audience that has some knowledge of the subject at hand. Reviews, however gracefully written, whatever grander fantasies their authors may entertain, are a form of consumer guidance, written in haste, against deadlines and to space. Worse, the reviewer is always the prisoner of what's on offer at the moment in his field. I would say, based on bitter experience, that well over half the time, he's obliged to conjure up an opinion about stuff on which he would not normally care to spare an idle thought, let alone a thousand or more words.
And here is Simon on why good entertainment matters -- and why it matters that critics cover it ...
Our great problem is that we do not sufficiently understand and appreciate the shortness of our time, that we do not (and apparently will not) comprehend how much great art of all kinds there is in the world in which our time is so short that we can explore only a fraction of its wonders. Hence it is stupid and vicious to entice people into wasting hours of their brief span on … drivel.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Friday, November 11, 2005
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
The commentary, written by Matt Welch under Current's Outside the Tent heading, which is an occasional column that allows outside voices to criticize the paper and its reporting, argues that recently fired general manager Paul DePodesta deserved to be let go but also deserved brighter minds to explain precisely how he was screwing up ...
The worst part isn't that the columnists' complaints about DePodesta are wrong, it's that they're often right. (Or at least, that I agree with them.) The young GM was painfully lacking in people-management skills and made a bunch of questionable moves. But if Southern Californians want an intelligent discussion of these issues, one where the truth matters more than either clumsy insults about "spreadsheets" or smooching Tommy Lasorda's behind, they know where to go: the Web. Maybe that's why Plaschke hates the Internet so much: People there are doing his job, only better.
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Saturday, November 05, 2005
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Even though these aborted strips about her nomination will never appear in your local paper, they have been collected here, and they're very much in keeping with Trudeau's calm-yet-angry style of satire. Seriously, future generations will look back at our current president and wonder what the hell we were thinking. To which we will respond, "Hey, I never voted for him."
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Monday, October 24, 2005
Sunday, October 23, 2005
Bill Watterson's adventurous boy and pet tiger are back, sorta. The Complete Calvin and Hobbes is an exhaustive collection of every panel that ever appeared during the strip's 10-year run. Charles Solomon's loving appreciation encapsulates what made it all so special, concluding with these great closing lines ...
In the final Sunday strip, Calvin looks at the newly fallen snow and declares, "It's a magical world, Hobbes, ol' buddy...." But since Calvin and Hobbes left the comics page, readers have had to find that magic somewhere else.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Obviously, being a fan of the sport makes a huge difference, but anyone with a taste for lively writing can appreciate Zimmerman's talent for intelligent observations and his disinterest in acting superior to the guys who just love the hard hits and endzone dances.
What Zimmerman brings to football is what the great art critics bring to their respective mediums. He captures his particular milieu perfectly. He creates language and point of view where other people gloss over and take for granted. His interest sparks your own interest, reinvigorates your enthusiasm. He leaves no doubt that he knows exactly what he's talking about.
And he does it with very little flash. Like Peter Gammons for baseball, Zimmerman has managed to maintain his dignity and brains in a sports world where the broadcasters and journalists are as self-promoting as the jocks they cover. What has sustained Z's survival in these treacherous waters is his self-possessed cool, which made him acceptable to the SportsCenter adrenaline junkies. He's that rare old dude the kids respect.
Every week during the season, Dr. Z does his Power Rankings of the 32 teams in the league. These are tiny little delights, a mixture of humor and insight and personal asides. Beyond the simple enjoyment of his analysis, each column provides a small, casual glimpse of the man's private life and inner workings.
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Friday, October 14, 2005
Thursday, October 13, 2005
You can start anywhere on his exhaustive website to get fresh insights into artists he loves (Randy Newman, Steely Dan) and even the ones he hates (Radiohead). Here's a piece I've been enjoying lately, a glowing appreciation of Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life. Written in 1976, but it feels like it was published yesterday.
Saturday, October 08, 2005
Charles McNulty, who will soon be the theater critic for the Los Angeles Times, manages to go against the grain in his appreciation of playwright August Wilson, who died October 2. By offering a balanced perspective on Wilson's work, McNulty proves that praise is more meaningful when it's set against honest critical perspective. It's an impressive feat; hopefully Wilson would approve.
UPDATE (Sept. 1, 2008): For whatever reason, this post continues to attract a lot of attention to my blog. Sadly, the original piece about August Wilson has been removed from the Los Angeles Times site. Also sadly, since I first published this post I've had firsthand experience in writing appreciations, one for Edward Yang, another for Ed Guthman.
Friday, September 23, 2005
However, Jesse Kornbluth begs to differ with that assessment. Unlike those other bulky brands, Kornbluth says in Mediabistro, Starbucks is actually rather progressive, both in its handling of employees and its overall agenda. In the process, they have become that rare thing: "a company with soul."
Monday, September 19, 2005
Today's piece is about House. The diagnosis isn't pretty.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Omar Sacirbey dissects this struggle for identity.
To most Westerners, "an authentic Muslim woman is always wearing a hijab," said Asma Barlas, a Koran scholar at Ithaca College whose female-centric
interpretations of Islam's holy book have sparked controversy in the Muslim world.
In reality, most Muslim women in the United States and in Europe don't wear the hijab, except for worship, because they are members of a secular majority or see themselves as cultural Muslims, identifying more with rai music or rumi poetry than with salah, or Scripture. Still others are devoted Muslims but don't view the hijab as a prerequisite of spirituality.
To these Muslim women, the hijab is more than an annoying media stereotype. It obscures their independence, outspokenness and career-mindedness.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Often, I'll agree with the point of view, but not always. Mostly, I just want a place to collect insightful, engaging commentary that actually stimulates the mind.
We'll see how it goes.