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Did you Know that The Average Person Spends Four Hours of their Day Battling Temptation?

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 - by Helen Smith

At least, that’s what a new book by social psychologist Roy F. Baumeister & journalist John Tierney entitled Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength says. According to the authors, the average person spends four hours or more each day resisting temptation: Temptation to slack off at work and check facebook, to eat unhealthy foods, or even to engage in sex or other activities.

Does surfing the web to look for blog-fodder count as temptation? What if blogging is your job? Does it count as willpower then?

What temptations have you resisted lately, and which ones have you given in to?

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Let’s Watch Peter Gabriel Invent the Music of the 1980s

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 - by Ed Driscoll
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Pardon the freakout screen capture of Gabriel in the above clip of “Shock the Monkey” from his fourth album, but by the early 1980s, he somehow managed to combine just about all of the elements that would drive rock and pop music for the next decade: African polyrhythms, drum machines, gated drums, the Fairlight CMI synthesizer, sampling, it was all there on Gabriel’s third and fourth albums, at about the same time as MTV was concurrently launching.

It was around that time that England’s South Bank Show began shooting an episode which documented Gabriel’s lengthy efforts to first plan and then record his fourth album, Security. For anyone interested in home music recording, watching these early attempts at what Gabriel calls “electronic skiffle” is certainly fun, especially when you realize how far technology has advanced since then: the Fairlight that Gabriel demonstrates in the video below cost something like $35,000 back then; today the PC by your desk has much more computing power, and with the right software and soundcard, can do anything it could. (including replicating all of its preset sounds.)

The whole episode of the South Bank Show is online at YouTube, and in case it gets disappeared down the memory hole, there’s also a version online here in AVI format. But to whet your appetite, here’s a clip of Gabriel demonstrating the Fairlight, from a French rebroadcast of the show that’s been online at YouTube for ages, so hopefully it won’t vanish by tomorrow. It’s all in English once you get past the brief intro:

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Showbiz Assassin: the Sadly Unavoidable ‘What’s up with Jim Carrey?’ Edition

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 - by Kathy Shaidle

1. Katt Williams: racist or patriot?

That’s what LaughSpin is asking today, after the stand up comic embroiled himself in another “controversy” — this time for using a Latino heckler as a launching pad, to rant about illegals and patriotism:

Katt sure seems proud of his country. Or something. Though, honestly, I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about half the time. So, I’ll turn it over to you guys for an opinion. Was there racism behind Katt’s words or was he just being really pro-American? Or is Katt just crazy?

Judge for yourself after watching the video — Note: EXTREME language warning (assuming you can understand what he’s saying better than I can):

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I used to say that “racist” was the new “commie” — the all-purpose conversation- (and sometimes, career-) ender.

And that’s still true. But speaking as an old person, can I just say that also, “racist” is just “how normal people used to talk”?

Back in my “multicultural” working class neighborhood of the ’60s and ’70s, the Irish thought all the Italians were probably “Mafia,” the Poles thought all the Irish were probably shiftless drunks, and the Italians just basically hated everybody.

Know what? Nobody died. Nobody even got into a fist fight, as a matter of fact.

Their kids all ended up marrying each other, with the families making embarrassing “racist” jokes at the weddings.

Yeah, I know: I’m from Canada,  the last stop on the Underground Railroad. Our country doesn’t have a “legacy of slavery” to endlessly obsess about. But when will you guys stop obsessing about it?

(Hint: your President is BLACK now!)

As a friend, can I just tell you that the whole “racism/slavery” thing bores the rest of the world up the wall? It’s like America is that boring drunken uncle who tells the same stupid stories every Thanksgiving.

Maybe if we/you weren’t so uptight about “race”  — if liberals would really let us have one of ERIC HOLDER‘s “candid conversations” about, say, how African-Americans feel about being pushed out of jobs by illegals – angry “racist” rants like Williams’ wouldn’t even occur…?

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‘He Beats Me but He’s My Publisher’

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 - by Patrick Richardson

Beginning with the headline above, Sarah Hoyt had some great thoughts on the (sometimes abusive) relationship between writers and publishers and where the publishing industry is headed over at her writing blog According to Hoyt:

First let me point out no one beats me. Not literally. For those of you who’ve read Athena (Darkship Thieves) this should not be an incredible surprise.

The title is denoting of the relationship existing in traditional publishing between the writer and the publishing house. It is also the sort of thing I heard many women say about their husbands in the village where I grew up. Portugal, like most countries whose cultures were strongly influenced by Islam, had a streak of wife-abuse running through the poorer or more culturally backward classes. Since in the village where I lived my dad was one of the very few white collar workers, this meant my mother and my grandmother were forever saving women who ran away from home when they were two steps from landing in the emergency room… Only to see them go back to their husbands because “He beats me but he’s my man.” Or “He beats me because I’m not good enough.” Or “He beats me because he loves me so much.” Or even “Whom should he beat but his own.”

Needless to say, the one thing my family told me, from – I think – before I could toddle (I could talk before I could walk. No. Don’t ask.) was “If your husband ever so much as slaps you, you leave. That day. And you don’t go back.”

Unfortunately my family never knew about publishers and the status of the mid-list author.

I wasn’t going to talk about any of this. I wasn’t. I like at least one of my publishers immensely, and I do understand how their hands are tied. On the other hand the last few days have been very trying. First, is it my impression or are all the establishment’s blue eyed boys going out of their way to tell us how we’ll starve in the gutter without traditional publishing? They remind me of my first agent, who btw, ONLY made official the sale I had already made to the publisher, and who then told me I’d die in the gutter without her, when I fired her. (Yeah. That… didn’t work as she thought, curiously enough.)

But then yesterday, in the Baen bar, someone posted that he sent letters to WRITERS complaining about their publishers’ DRM policies and pricing for ebooks because, I don’t know, the Kool-Aid man is red? Oh, wait, no, it’s more nonsensical than that. Because and – clears throat – I am quoting: writers choose their publishers. I want them to choose publishers who don’t do these things.

Read the rest here.

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Poul Anderson Goes Electronic

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 - by Glenn Reynolds

Science fiction writer Poul Anderson’s widow Karen is bringing out his entire backlist in e-Book format. The first release is the novelette Call Me Joe, out for 99 cents on Kindle complete with the original pulp-mag illustrations from Astounding. This is a great way to keep classics available, and you can’t beat the price. I hope that more authors will follow suit.

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Actress Daryl Hannah Arrested in White House Protest

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 - by J.J. Hunsecker

Back in January of 2009, Tavis Smiley of PBS told his fellow liberals, “Harry Reid, put down the crack pipe. You don’t work for Barack Obama?  We’re all working for Barack Obama.”

Evidently, Daryl Hannah didn’t get the memo.

Last year, Fox Nation reported that the actress was “disappointed” in the president:

Daryl Hannah has a bone to pick with Barack Obama: In fact, she’s mighty cross with the Leader of the Free World. Frankly, I suspect he would probably swoon at the mere sight of her – that cascade of blonde hair, those other-worldly pale hyacinth eyes, like a freshly landed mermaid’s – but I digress. For now we shall concentrate on Hannah the Eco-Campaigner.

Rather admirably, the 49-year-old has no truck with the Hollywood orthodoxy that all Republicans are villains and all Democrats heroes, but has always gone her own way. ‘I try to stay away from politics because politicians inevitably let you down as they’re always beholden to the people who put them in office,’ she says. ‘I’m pleased about the organic vegetable patch on the White House lawn, but Obama needs to put back the solar panels on the roof; Jimmy Carter put them up, Reagan took them down, and now it’s time they were reinstated. Reagan banned offshore drilling and Obama is trying to open it up again, which is terrible, especially given the recent oil spill. Then there’s nuclear power, endangered species…’ she trails off in tremulous disappointment.

So flash-forward to today, which found Daryl having gone from disappointment to a nostalgic sixties-style sit-in and getting busted by The Man:

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Daryl Hannah was arrested by U.S. Park Police Tuesday at a protest in front of the White House, a police spokesman told TheWrap.

Hannah was participating in a sit-in against the construction of a pipeline that would stretch from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

The actress was handcuffed by police after she refused to move.

She paid an $100 fine and was released from custody, a police spokesperson told TheWrap.

But if Hannah was worried about the oil spill in the Gulf last year, why is she protesting a pipeline that helps to reduce both offshore drilling and supertankers bringing oil from the Middle East? As Ezra Levant wrote last September in the blog post that accompanied his book Ethical Oil:

In Ethical Oil, I make the case for Canada’s oilsands from a liberal point of view. Here’s why.

We’ve heard the oilsands called unethical, dirty and even nasty. One propagandist actually called it “blood oil”.

But look at the alternatives: oil from places like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Nigeria, Venezuela and Sudan. I don’t compare the oilsands against some fantasy fuel of the future that is perfect in every way. When someone invents solar-powered airplanes or wind-powered cars, let me know. Until then, let’s leave that to science fiction.

Because if the oilsands were to be shut down tomorrow, the United States would simply replace our petroleum with petroleum from somewhere else. Along with the emerging economies of India and China, they’re going to fill their gastanks with oil from somewhere.

So if the choice is not between the oilsands and perfection, but between the oilsands and OPEC, we can have a serious discussion.

As the Celebslam site noted, Daryl had to get from her home in Colorado to Washington somehow. Where would she prefer the fuel that powers the aircraft and automobiles that transported her to come from?

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Massage Parlor Mistrial Declared After Masseuse Recognizes Defense Lawyer as Client

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 - by Belladonna Rogers

It’s not every day that the American Bar Association website offers the world a dish of such delicious implications as this, served on a veritable silver platter, but PJM LifeStyle readers, today is our lucky day.  The eye-catching headline reads “Massage Parlor Mistrial Declared After Masseuse Recognizes Defense Lawyer as Client:”

A Chicago federal judge declared a mistrial last week in a sex-trafficking prosecution after a masseuse who worked for the defendant and testified for the prosecution recognized the defense lawyer as a client.

After stepping down from the stand, masseuse Liudmyla Ksenych told prosecutors she recognized defense lawyer Douglas Rathe, report the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune.

The revelation prompted U.S. District Court Judge Robert Gettleman to declare a mistrial in the case against a massage parlor owner accused of threatening immigrant women to extort money and force them to into sex trafficking.

As it turned out, not only was the prosecution witness a professional masseuse but, according to her client, the defense counsel, she holds a bachelor’s degree in law from her native Ukraine.  The lawyer failed to recognize her name on the witness list because she had worked as a masseuse under an assumed name.

Considering how law firms have been unleashing torrents of young, unemployed lawyers in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and the recession it deepened, I have to admire the gumption of a young law graduate from central Europe coming to this country and contributing to the American economy by dint of hard work.  There was no evidence presented that Liudmyla Ksenych performed anything but massages for the defense attorney or for anyone else.

I wish her well in her future legal studies and I hope the defense attorney has the intestinal fortitude to withstand the national teasing that his proclivity for massages has brought about. Being a defense attorney, especially in Chicago, is stressful enough. I think he deserves some empathy.  But then, I’m not his wife.

(Photo of Ksenych from her Casting 360 page.)

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Charles Kettering Liberated Women More Than Betty Friedan & Gloria Steinem

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 - by Ronnie Schreiber

Charles Kettering with the first electric self starter

Charles Franklin Kettering was born 135 years ago yesterday, on August 29, 1876, in Loudonville, Ohio. Kettering was one of a number of men whose inventions “liberated” women long before the modern women’s movement and feminism. Before the age of invention in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the simple tasks of running a household, which is what most adult women did, took most of their waking hours. Electric powered sewing machines, vacuum cleaners, washing machines and other home appliances significantly reduced the amount of labor and time needed to run the home. Refrigerators reduced the amount of time needed to shop for fresh food. By the 1910s, that tasks and drudgery that had formerly taken more time than a full time job to do, could be handled in much less time due to machines doing most of the labor. It’s not surprising, then that by the 1910s, the suffragette movement was in full swing. Women had time on their hands and wanted to be doing productive things.

To a liberated woman in 1912, the world had many more opportunities available to women than in their mothers’ and grandmothers’ ages. One of the effects of industrialization, the age of invention and consumer goods was that companies needed labor, women included. While jobs were usually gender segregated, there were indeed jobs available to women and they had their own incomes. One thing, though, stood in the modern woman’s way in 1912, driving. Or more specifically, the gasoline powered automobile.

Continue reading the complete post here.

When he’s not busy doing custom machine embroidery, Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth and contributes to The Truth About Cars and Left Lane News

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Interview: Roger Kimball on 30 Years of the New Criterion

Monday, August 29th, 2011 - by Ed Driscoll

Roger Kimball, a fellow Pajamas Express blogger, the editor of the New Criterion magazine, and the publisher of Encounter Books, took time out from “battening down the hatches” on Friday in anticipation of Irene’s arrival to talk with us on:

20 minutes long, click here to listen:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

If your browser is unhappy with our MP3 player, a YouTube version is also available:

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And to download straight to your PC, right click here for the 18.5 MP3 file, or right click here to download the 5.80 MP3 lo-fi version.

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The Divine Lady Gaga

Monday, August 29th, 2011 - by Stephen Green

I think this photo of Lady Gaga done up as a “man” should finally dispel those nasty rumors that she’s really a drag queen.

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Video of the Day

Monday, August 29th, 2011 - by PJ Lifestyle

Russ Ballard’s “Voices,” available in two options, each with plenty of high-MTV style:

Ballard’s original video:

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Or the Miami Vice version, from one of the series’ earliest episodes:

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I’ll take door number two myself. How about you?

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The Week in Blogs

Monday, August 29th, 2011 - by PJ Lifestyle

You give us four minutes, Steve Green, our friendly neighborhood Vodkapundit will give you the entire Blogosphere.

And beyond:

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Here are the links to the items that Steve mentioned:

 

http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/cnn-cant-find-tripoli-on-a-map-at-least-not-the-right-one/

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/08/23/dem_congresswoman_the_real_enemy_is_the_tea_party.html

http://news.yahoo.com/photos/obama-departs-vacation-home-beach-marthas-vineyard-photo-143427894.html

http://www.unitedliberty.org/articles/8623-chart-of-the-day-washington-fat-cats-are-getting-fatter

http://www.allamericanblogger.com/16860/ron-paul-supporter-buys-ad-looking-for-young-hotties-who-have-had-sex-with-rick-perry/

http://www.happyplace.com/3761/the-best-spelling-mistakes-on-education-related-signs

http://townhall.com/tipsheet/guybenson/2011/08/24/pure_gold_obama_slams_own_policies_as_unpatriotic

http://verydemotivational.memebase.com/2011/08/21/demotivational-posters-n-o-w-logo/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2029493/Nancy-Reagan-slips-falls-way-Tea-Party-favourite-Marco-Rubios-speech.html

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/08/23/rep_allen_west_obama_is_shredding_the_constitution.html

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‘Sixty to 90 percent of jobs are found informally—mainly through friends, relatives, and direct contacts’

Sunday, August 28th, 2011 - by Helen Smith

I thought about the above statistic as I read a new book called The 11 Laws of Likability: Relationship Networking . . . Because People Do Business with People They Like. The author, Michelle Lederman, gives good advice on how to network in a more relaxed and authentic way. If you are looking for a job (or trying to build your business), her advice can be invaluable.

My favorite chapter was one on “The Law of Perception” that discussed nonverbal body language and how important it is in a job interview or in business dealings. Making eye contact, standing tall, and pausing at the right time can all lead to positive perceptions whereas lack of eye contact or staring, slouching and coming off as insincere and fake can give a negative impression that loses you a job interview or potential client.

I used to think it was unfair that people had to get others to like them or had to know someone to get a job but I realize that this analysis was unfair itself. Why would someone want to hire someone or do business with someone who is not recommended by a person that you think highly of? Is a complete stranger with no known background a better bet? I doubt it.

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Your Saturday Nightcap

Saturday, August 27th, 2011 - by Stephen Green
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Poncho Sanchez’s Afro-Cuban Fantasy isn’t one of the best Latin jazz albums of the ’90s — it’s one of the best jazz albums, period. There’s just no need to limit the scope or genre to define the greatness of the performances on each track.

For Clare Fischer’s “Morning,” Sanchez brought in guest vocalist Dianne Reeves, whose energy and exuberance matches the band’s — and for the Sanchez Octet, that’s really saying something. Throughout, Reeves switches from the lyric to a scat, which is heavier on the Afro than the Caribbean. It makes for a scorching vocal you won’t soon forget, without ever overshadowing the band.

But when Poncho Sanchez is playing, what could?

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Happy Birthday, Mini!

Saturday, August 27th, 2011 - by Ronnie Schreiber

On August 26, 1959 a revolution happened. No, I’m not talking about Fidel, I’m talking about the BMC Mini, Sir Alec Issigonis’ Ur-car from which all transverse engined front wheel drive cars have followed, which went on sale 52 years ago. Starting with a price tag of less than $800, the Mini stayed in production for over 40 years. Many consider it the first truly modern post WWII design. Only 10 feet long from bumper to bumper, the Mini could hold 4 adults and their luggage in relative comfort. They looked past the wire pull door releases and the surfeit of painted metal on the interior. At the time, microcars were very popular and compared to them, the Mini was a Town Car.

Continue reading the full post here:

When he’s not busy doing custom machine embroidery, Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth and contributes to The Truth About Cars and Left Lane News

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A Good Cry

Saturday, August 27th, 2011 - by Nina Yablok

A friend and I were talking the other day about the cathartic benefits of watching a good schmaltzy movie.  But while her tastes run to the epic romances (Dr. Zhivago, Casablanca) I found my favorites (or least favorites, this crying bit is a love-hate relationship) are actually kids’ movies.  I think one reason for this is I like crying for happy.

My biggest surprise crying movie was Up.  Obviously the first surprise is it’s a kids cartoon, for heaven’s sake. It’s just a generation or three up from Road Runner and Daffy Duck.  The second surprise is that you need to have your Kleenex out in the early part of the movie. What’s with that? Who’s ready with Kleenex before the first popcorn break?

My other big surprise was Homeward Bound.  Admittedly this is not an all-purpose tearjerker. If you’re not a dog lover (or maybe a cat lover) you wont even be able to sit through the movie.  But not only did I bawl my eyes out on this one, but my dear husband whose name I wouldn’t mention here for fear of embarrassing him, bawled his eyes out too; AND I couldn’t stop crying for a day or two.  I do understand that maybe I just needed a good cry.  But geez, two days of soggy Kleenex from a movie about 2 dogs and a cat? Get a grip, Nina.

Of recent movies we’ve seen in the theater — it’s always interesting to watch grown men crying surreptitiously — The King’s Speech got to both of us, as well as a goodly portion of the audience. This is of the crying for happy movies.  Maybe we’ll watch it again tonight. If you haven’t seen it, do.

I tend not to like romantic movies in general, so I don’t have a good list of romantic tearjerkers, other than Casablanca But Casablanca, as much as I love it as a movie in general, is a wet-eyed sniffle movie, not a loud hiccup-snort, blow your nose, tears running down your face movie like Up and Homeward Bound.

To me, part of the joy of a good cry at a movie is that moment when you give up trying to hide that you’re crying, you look at your partner, and you both laugh with each other because you’re both such saps.  It’s a great moment in any relationship, from an old marriage to a first date.

So on the theory that everyone needs a good cry sometimes, maybe our lovely readers can suggest their favorite movies to cry to.

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Lost in a Supermarket

Friday, August 26th, 2011 - by Ed Driscoll

Here’s a post doing double-duty. First, the video of the day:

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And now, a related rant, which I wrote back in April after visiting family in South Jersey, and running into the ShopRite in Mt. Laurel to pick up a few provisions.

Attention, ShopRite management: The Scorpions are a fine heavy metal group.* They are not a fine example of supermarket muzak. The same can be said for AC/DC, the Georgia Satellites, and Elvis Costello, all of whom I heard while making a quick expedition to one of your stores today. Regarding Mr. Costello, “Pump It Up” ** is one of the finest songs about masturbation ever written; for that same reason, it is also not a fine example of supermarket muzak.

Plus it’s insulting to the musicians. How must it feel to walk out of a recording studio knowing that your group just nailed the dirtiest, nastiest, rudest heavy metal song ever recorded in the history of man, and then 20 years later hear it on the speakers of a suburban supermarket walking down the frozen food aisle? Back when I was a kid, rock and roll was something hard and bracing with a veneer of still being slightly “underground” that you had to seek out; supermarket muzak was all syrupy strings and soothing melodies.

At some point in the mid-1990s, I guess, that all went out the window. Back in 2007, in a meditation on “Present-Tense Culture” and Alan Bloom’s The Closing Of The American Mind, Mark Steyn quoted Bloom’s statement that “It may well be that a society’s greatest madness seems normal to itself,” and added that in terms of music for public consumption, “We are all rockers now.” And when your local supermarket’s muzak is indistinguishable from your local Classic Rock FM station, despite having a much more diverse clientele, both statements are more true than ever:

Bloom is writing about rock music the way someone from the pre-rock generation experiences it. You’ve no interest in the stuff, you don’t buy the albums, you don’t tune to the radio stations, you would never knowingly seek out a rock and roll experience—and yet it’s all around you. You go to buy some socks, and it’s playing in the store. You get on the red eye to Heathrow, and they pump it into the cabin before you take off. I was filling up at a gas station the other day and I noticed that outside, at the pump, they now pipe pop music at you. This is one of the most constant forms of cultural dislocation anybody of the pre-Bloom generation faces: Most of us have prejudices: we may not like ballet or golf, but we don’t have to worry about going to the deli and ordering a ham on rye while some ninny in tights prances around us or a fellow in plus-fours tries to chip it out of the rough behind the salad bar. Yet, in the course of a day, any number of non-rock-related transactions are accompanied by rock music. I was at the airport last week, sitting at the gate, and over the transom some woman was singing about having two lovers and being very happy about it. And we all sat there as if it’s perfectly routine. To the pre-Bloom generation, it’s very weird—though, as he notes, “It may well be that a society’s greatest madness seems normal to itself.” Whether or not rock music is the soundtrack for the age that its more ambitious proponents tout it as, it’s a literal soundtrack: it’s like being in a movie with a really bad score. So Bloom’s not here to weigh the merit of the Beatles vs. Pink Floyd vs. Madonna vs. Niggaz with Attitude vs. Eminem vs. Green Day. They come and go, and there is no more dated sentence in Bloom’s book than the one where he gets specific and wonders whether Michael Jackson, Prince, or Boy George will take the place of Mick Jagger. But he’s not doing album reviews, he’s pondering the state of an entire society with a rock aesthetic.

Related to the notion of an entire society with a rock and roll aesthetic, a couple of years earlier, after hearing The Cars’ “Drive” on his local supermarket’s muzak, James Lileks wrote:

Not their best song, and I believe it was one of those “let the bassist get one out of his system” numbers. Still, this represented victory. In my skinny-tie days we had the conceit that our music stood in opposition to THE SYSTEM, whatever that was. The grocery stores played Muzak versions of songs that were muzak to begin with – I mean, you don’t truly understand the banality of the melody of “Horse with No Name” until it’s played by a string section. In retrospect I miss the Muzak; I really do. Part of me now wants a grocery store that’s brightly lit with big googie graphics and chipper music-to-seduce-Stepford-wives songs percolating away in the rafters. But that’s over; we won. There’s no alternative to the old alternatives anymore.

Or as Lileks wrote last year, “In fact if I managed a store today I’d play the old Muzak; some could enjoy it Ironically, others could enjoy it for what it was, cool and distant, a soundtrack of idle consumerism.”

Plus with the whole Mad Men early-’60s fad, it would seem pretty cool to shop in a store that looks like this — and sounds like it, too. Maybe it could be called…Samuel’s, to coin an upscale, yet retro brand name.

* I saw the Scorpions in concert at the Philadelphia Spectrum around 1985; my hearing finally returned at 3:27 PM on Tuesday of last week.

** My old rock group played “Pump It Up” once or twice back then; the chromatic main riff was certainly lots of fun to bash out. Before it become music to shop for Fresca.

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So You Want to Enter the Exciting World of ‘Journalism’…

Friday, August 26th, 2011 - by Ed Driscoll

Advice columnist Penelope Trunk, dubbed “the world’s most influential guidance counselor” by Inc. Magazine has some suggestions for those who wish to write for a living:

The way you get a job as an online journalist is that you show you can write and get traffic. So first, get sites to let you write for them, and then, after you are doing one blog post/article a week for various web sites. You will do this by pitching and networking, and writing a lot on spec.

Then start thinking about how to quantify to employers that you are writing GOOD stuff online. The way you do this is by saying you got x number of comments, or x number of twitter links to your post, or things like that that are ways to quanitify that your post got traffic.

There are TONS of jobs for writing online, but you have to prove you know how to write online in order to get them.

You absolutely must stop thinking of yourself as a print journalist because there are no jobs. This means that all the rules you learned in print journalism don’t apply to how your are going to get a job. You need to read TONS of blogs [so that] you start getting a feel for how people are writing for blogs and what gets a lot of traffic.

You should also start your own blog. That is your real resume. If you want a job writing online, any employer will say “Why aren’t you doing it now if that’s what you want to do?” And it’s a decent question. No one is stopping you from writing right now. You don’t need to be paid to write something good. Just write it and put it on your blog. Your blog doesn’t need to get a lot of traffic. It just needs to be there when an employer wants to see what you can do.

Now, if you also want to be a pundit, then don’t miss Andrew Klavan’s easy to follow recommendations as well:

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And if you want to disseminate news that also reaches the port side of the Blogosphere, you might to employ the “Made You Look” news distribution system.

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‘What’s It Like to Flop at the Box Office?’

Thursday, August 25th, 2011 - by Ed Driscoll

Near the end of The Devil’s Candy, Julie Salamon’s brilliant 1991 look at Hollywood’s misfired version of Tom Wolfe’s best-selling Bonfire of the Vanities novel, you begin to feel remarkably sympathetic towards Brian DePalma, almost in spite of yourself. He spent well over a year prepping the film, directing it on the set, supervising its editing, spending many, many sleepless nights along the way, and then a rough cut of the film is ready to be previewed for the first time in front of a test audience.

It goes badly.

Very badly.

As do subsequent test viewings. And while he can make a few tweaks, there’s not much than can be done at that point to salvage the film. The actors have all gone to their next gigs, the sets have been struck, and there’s only so much editing can do. But even knowing that very big icebergs loom ahead, DePalma still has to shepherd the production through the final stages of dubbing, recording the foley sound effects, adding the titles, mixing the background score, and all of the myriad details that make up a complex, multimillion dollar production shoot.

Nikke Finke’s Deadline Hollywood Website has a fascinating essay by Sean Hood, one of the four credited screenwriters on the remake of Conan The Barbarian, which died at the box office last weekend:

When you work “above the line” on a movie (writer, director, actor, producer, etc.) watching it flop at the box office is devastating. I had such an experience during the opening weekend of Conan the Barbarian 3D.

A movie’s opening day is analogous to a political election night. Although I’ve never worked in politics, I remember having similar feelings of disappointment and disillusionment when my candidate lost a presidential bid, so I imagine that working as a speechwriter or a fundraiser for the losing campaign would feel about the same as working on an unsuccessful film.

One joins a movie production, the same way one might join a campaign, years before the actual release/election, and in the beginning one is filled with hope, enthusiasm and belief. I joined the Conan team, having loved the character in comic books and the stories of Robert E. Howard, filled with the same kind of raw energy and drive that one needs in politics.

Any film production, like a long grueling campaign over months and years, is filled with crisis, compromise, exhaustion, conflict, elation, and blind faith that if one just works harder, the results will turn out all right in the end. During that process whatever anger, frustration, or disagreement you have with the candidate/film you keep to yourself. Privately you may oppose various decisions, strategies, or compromises; you may learn things about the candidate that cloud your resolve and shake your confidence, but you soldier on, committed to the end. You rationalize it along the way by imagining that the struggle will be worth it when the candidate wins.

A few months before release, “tracking numbers” play the role in movies that polls play in politics. It’s easy to get caught up in this excitement, like a college volunteer handing out fliers for Howard Dean. (Months before Conan was released many close to the production believed it would open like last year’s The Expendables.) As the release date approaches and the tracking numbers start to fall, you start adjusting expectations, but always with a kind of desperate optimism. “I don’t believe the polls,” say the smiling candidates.

You hope that advertising and word of mouth will improve the numbers, and even as the numbers get tighter and the omens get darker, you keep telling yourself that things will turn around, that your guy will surprise the experts and pollsters. You stay optimistic. You begin selectively ignoring bad news and highlighting the good. You make the best of it. You believe.

In the days before the release, you get all sorts of enthusiastic congratulations from friends and family. Everyone seems to believe it will go well, and everyone has something positive to say, so you allow yourself to get swept up in it.

Read the whole thing.

The new version of Conan cost $90 mil to produce, according to the LA Times. As James Lileks notes on his Pop Crush blog at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, studios are beginning to notice that box office returns are down, and cancelling some questionable future mega-projects. (Johnny Depp as the Lone Ranger? Ouija Board: The Motion Picture? Rejected! At least for now.) It doesn’t help that DVD sales and other ancillary movie-related products are down as well. (That’s good news, right James Cameron?) And with the economy in the dumps, and so few appealing products playing at the local multiplex, “no one wants to spend fifty bucks to take the family to some soulless CGI-infested 3D movie that beats you over the head and pokes things in your eyes,” Lileks writes. So what can the studios do?

They might ask themselves why these things are so expensive in the first place. I’ve seen plenty of good little-known Alfred Hitchcock films that were made for the modern equivalent of a million dollars, and while they didn’t have enormous spaceships or people running away from fireballs or anything, they made up for it with curious, old-school tricks like “Acting,” “Script,” and “Story.”

That seems like a level of introspection that’s far beyond a Hollywood studio chief’s capabilities.

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Rule #17

Thursday, August 25th, 2011 - by Charlie Martin

17. Don’t bother going on first dates anymore. Skip right to the second or third date. Why? Because if I have your full name, I will Google you, Facebook you, check you out on Tumblr, read your tweets, and see what your favorite YouTube videos are. The only thing you can learn about people on a first date is how good they are at pretending like they don’t already know everything about you.

Read More at Details. It’s a funny piece.

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Writing Quote of the Day

Thursday, August 25th, 2011 - by Charlie Martin

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. –Anton Chekhov

 

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We really should charge for this

Thursday, August 25th, 2011 - by Charlie Martin
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I suppose I should include a link to the catalogue.  ThinkGeek is awesome.

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Fixing your Aching Back, Neck and Shoulders

Thursday, August 25th, 2011 - by Helen Smith

I am blogging while sitting on my new gadget–the Gaiam Balance Ball Chair. I am pretty much willing to try anything at this point to fix my aching back, neck and shoulders, even sitting on a ball. So far, so good. The box came yesterday from Amazon and is easy to assemble. It has a base and and one of those exercise balls that you sit on that is supposed to keep your posture upright and in the correct position for using a computer. My main complaint with it at this early date is that the ball is kind of small. However, the instructions say this is normal and that after 24-48 hours, you can use the air pump that comes with it to make it bigger. I did that this morning and it seems to be better. If you are over six feet, the small size of the ball might not make the height high enough for you.

The ball chair also came with an exercise book that showed how to use the chair for exercise when you want to take a break. The seated twists they show do seem to help in-between typing if you have a tight neck and shoulders. As for the spine streches that have you lying across the ball in various positions, I am really not so sure I wouldn’t fall off. The base of the chair is in the way for me but if you take the ball out, it is easier. There are also pictures of a model doing push-ups and donkey kicks that look more like a gym work-out but I am not up to trying those out at the moment. Overall, I’m pretty satisfied with the chair and hope that as time goes on, it keeps my posture in check.

I have blogged about pain issues before that are caused by the computer and found that there are a number of good books out there that have helped. These include Stretching Anatomy, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Back Pain, and 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back: Natural Posture Solutions for Pain in the Back, Neck, Shoulder, Hip, Knee, and Foot.

If you have better or different suggestions, drop them in the comments.

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Steve Jobs’s Secret for Building the Richest Company in the World

Thursday, August 25th, 2011 - by Dave Swindle

This quote from the Wall Street Journal jumped out at me this morning from their “Steve Jobs’s Best Quotes” article:

“We think the Mac will sell zillions, but we didn’t build the Mac for anybody else. We built it for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren’t going to go out and do market research. We just wanted to build the best thing we could build.

When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.” [Playboy, Feb. 1, 1985]

This drive to create products of the highest quality with a unique aesthetic is also something one found in the career of someone else who built a major corporation that has enhanced our lives: Walt Disney. This is a theme I’ve written on before and will hopefully develop and research more fully for future articles. Suggestions and recommended reading from PJM’s readers is always appreciated.

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