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PJM Lifestyle

When We Start Playing Oscar-Winning Movies

Monday, April 30th, 2012 - by Jon Bishop


Pace, Kathy Shaidle. That a few large, hirsute, awkward men enjoy things like video games does not mean the medium can be dismissed. Video games continue to approach the artistic quality of films — and they should be taken seriously.

For example: L.A. Noire premiered one year ago at the Tribeca Film Festival, and it received “Official Selection” honors.

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Heavy Rain, released two years ago by French developer Quantic Dream, received rave reviews. Yet some hesitated to refer to the title as a game. They instead thought of it as a movie.

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Both Rockstar, which developed L.A. Noire, and Quantic Dream lead the industry in producing soaring, serious titles. And they  utilize the latest technology in order to give gamers the best possible experience. Rockstar’s latest release Max Payne 3 already received recognition for its expectation-twisting use of technology. Quantic is developing an innovative engine that utilizes motion-capture technology.

These companies and the work they produce push the boundaries as to what constitutes a mere “game.” Some in the film industry appear to be taking notice. BAFTA — the British Academy of Film and Television Arts — recognizes achievement in the video game industry, which they started to do in 1998.

The Smithsonian recently unveiled an exhibit that explores the growth of the industry. It was featured in the Washington Post.

But games still struggle to receive wider recognition from critics. Roger Ebert, in a piece that responded to a TED Talk by Kellee Santiago, noted that games “can never be art.” He said that art should properly imitate life and video games, as they have ends and objectives, do not. He wrote:

One obvious difference between art and games is that you can win a game. It has rules, points, objectives, and an outcome. Santiago might cite a immersive game without points or rules, but I would say then it ceases to be a game and becomes a representation of a story, a novel, a play, dance, a film. Those are things you cannot win; you can only experience them.

Is life not ordered? Do we, as men, not have ends? These are the questions one might raise in response to Ebert, and other, critics of video games — especially since most of today’s games begin as screenplays.

But the criticisms, though shaken, still stand. The game industry needs to grasp something revolutionary before designers can begin taking home awards like ‘Best Picture’ and ‘Best Director.’ With the latest pushes in technological development, though, that might be soon enough.

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Talent Isn’t Everything: 5 Secrets to Freelance Success

Monday, April 30th, 2012 - by Kathy Shaidle

I’ve been a professional writer since I sold my first piece to Seventeen at age 21, on my first try.

(Take that, Sylvia Plath: she racked up about fifty rejection letters from the same magazine before breaking in.)

Since then, I’ve veered between being an on-site staff writer and a full-time freelancer, doing one or the other for about three or four years before getting bored/wanting more money/getting sick of winter commuting/spotting an ad for the full-time “dream job” I just HAD to have (for a while).

Right now, I’ve been freelancing full-time since 2008. Along with the politics and culture pieces I do for PJ Media and other online magazines, I write web copy for clients ranging from funeral homes to roofing contractors; edit and ghostwrite books, newsletters, and op-eds; and manage a few social media accounts as well.

Over the years, countless people have told me they want to be freelance writers, too. So here are some tips and home truths about the freelance writing (or freelance anything) life.

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Another One Bites the Dust on American Idol

Monday, April 30th, 2012 - by Tom Neven

The contestants perform with Queen musicians Roger Taylor and Brian May.

So last week, speaking in the context of singers with big voices, I warned never to cover Freddie Mercury unless you have the goods. The diabolical American Idol producers must have been thinking the same thing: last week was Queen Week. Each of the remaining six contestants had to cover one Queen song, and we got to find out who had the goods and who didn’t.

Dave Matthews wannabe Phillip Phillips.

Had the Goods:

  • Jessica Sanchez sounded great on the non-rocking half of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The rocking half, not so much. (It was a weird arrangement to start with. The scary Jessica face floating on the screen behind her didn’t help.)
  • Skylar Laine slayed “The Show Must Go On”— if you can get over the twang on a song that didn’t call for twang. No, the show must not go owe-won.
  • Joshua Ledet sang a crazy-good rendition of “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.”
  • Hollie Cavanagh did a passable job on “Save Me,” but perhaps there was something Freudian in her song choice.

And who failed to deliver?

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The Amazing Spider-Man’s New Lizard Poster May Upset Your Inner Fanboy

Sunday, April 29th, 2012 - by Duane Lester

As a comic book fanboy, it always irritates me when Hollywood thinks they can improve on something that has worked for decades. Take this poster for The Amazing Spider-Man:

What logic puts a human face on The Lizard? So he looks more like a human? He’s a super-human monster in a comic book movie, for Pete’s sake! And where’s the lab coat?

I do like the international poster, though:

And I like that they went with a skinny kid. Truer to the book.

Another thing they are getting right in this one: The web-shooters look awesome!

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How Stars Create Matter = How Moms Become Millionaires on Shark Tank

Sunday, April 29th, 2012 - by Dave Swindle

Jason Silva presents another in his ongoing series of optimistic, science-futurist viral videos:

“At first there were just two kinds of atoms, helium and hydrogen. Once they clumped into massive stars more became possible. Within the furnaces of big stars the original two elements fused into heavier and heavier elements like carbon, oxygen and the rest of the periodic table.”

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On Shark Tank last night a mom-turned entrepreneur realized that if she combined all the accessories needed to apply nail polish into one package she might have a business. The sharks agreed:

In the last pitch of the evening a young husband-wife team — together since seventh grade! — presented a product inspired by their two young daughters. The Lollacup improves the sippy cup by featuring a weighted straw, removable handles, and a cute design:

The universe’s tools for creation are right at our fingertips. This is what the aphorism “Every Man and Every Woman is a Star” means. Anyone can find a few ideas and combine them together in a way that makes life brighter for everyone.

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Is the Economy Causing Women to Think More about Survivalism?

Saturday, April 28th, 2012 - by Helen Smith

After reading Lloyd Tackett’s A Distant Eden about how to deal with a solar storm, I decided that I needed to learn more about survivalism, particularly the practical things that one should do to prepare for disasters of all types. I picked up a copy of a new book by a woman named Bernie Carr called The Prepper’s Pocket Guide: 101 Easy Things You Can Do to Ready Your Home for a Disaster. It’s a good guide for those of you who just want the basics of DIY projects that you can do to get your home prepared for a variety of problems from earthquakes to hurricanes. She also gives a step-by-step guide to such 101 things to do such as disinfecting water with sunlight, learning to build a solar still, learning to distill water, and learning to purify water. Separate sections give information for different disasters such as how to prepare for a tornado, hurricane or even an ice storm.

I’ve noticed that there are a number of other books on survivalism written by women such as Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst-Case Scenarios. Some of these women seem to be coming around due to the economic decline. For example, according to the author’s biography on the Amazon page for “Survival Mom,” the recession made her think more about survivalism:

I was always the mom with a case of water bottles and blankets in the trunk of her car and famous for saying, “Just in case…” Four years ago when I began to see signs of a deteriorating economy, I wondered, “Is there a way I can be proactive and get my family ready for an uncertain future?”

Well, I guess whatever makes you think about to deal with a disaster before it strikes is good.  Now excuse me while I go try and learn how to make a safe from a hollowed-out book:  Tip #60 in The Prepper’s Pocket Guide: 101 Easy Things You Can Do to Ready Your Home for a Disaster.   

Also Read:

Bunkers, Food, Armor: Disaster Prep Hits Mainstream

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Fighting the Battle for Sluts Everywhere

Saturday, April 28th, 2012 - by Cassy Fiano

My fear about the race for everyone to self-identify as a slut is that the real sluts—the women who sleep around, who have one-night stands, who engage in arbitrarily ill-favored sexual practices—are being shunted back into the corner where they’ve always been. If our goal is to stand up for women’s control of their own bodies, let’s not stigmatize those who merely choose to use them differently than others do. The vast majority of Americans “use or support birth control”; that moral battle has been won. But plenty of those Americans still aren’t comfortable with the idea of a woman who wants to sleep around. Let’s fight that battle instead.

Slate is at it again, trying to legitimize the idiotic notion that women should, for some reason, be proud to be sluts. Screwing a different guy every night makes you a “sex-positive feminist” these days, and the feminazis think that women should be able to be a slut while still being considered respectable in society. Get it? This is progress: debasing women in the name of “empowerment”.

Let’s get real here: there’s no one stopping anyone, man or women, from skanking it up every night. There never has been. Everyone is perfectly free to screw around as much as their little heart desires. Unfortunately for the pro-slut crowd, you don’t get to be a proud slut and escape the consequences that comes with it. Grown-ups have to deal with the fallback from their actions, like it or not. If you’re over 21, you’re free to spend every night getting hammered — but then you also have to accept that you’ll probably get a reputation as a drunken idiot. It’s the same with sleeping around: you can do it, but don’t cry when suddenly, you don’t come across as very respectable anymore.

Try as they might with their mental gymnastics, women don’t get to avoid the consequences of their actions just by virtue of their gender. Hey, if you want to go out every night and sleep with a different guy, then by all means do it. Live it up. Have fun. But don’t expect the entire world to pat you on the back and call you empowered for it in a country where one in five women have herpes.

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Audio Interview: Whit Stillman Discusses Damsels in Distress

Friday, April 27th, 2012 - by Ed Driscoll
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Ever since 1990′s Metropolitan, writer-director Whit Stillman has been documenting the foibles and mores of elite WASPs the “urban haute bourgeoisie.” His latest film, Damsels in Distress, is set at fictional Seven Oaks College, and explores the efforts of Greta Gerwig as Violet Wister, Analeigh Tipton as Lily and Megalyn Echikunwoke as the posh London accented-Rose, to reform the slovenly boys of the school’s frat house. Along the way, they team up to create the Sambola, the dance craze of 2012.

In this ten minute interview Stillman discusses:

  • Why it’s been 14 years since his previous film, The Last Days of Disco.
  • How the independent film market has changed since the 1990s.
  • How Damsels references both Metropolitan and Last Days of Disco.
  • When we can expect to see 1994′s Barcelona on Blu-Ray and/or in the Criterion Collection.
  • When we can expect Stillman’s next film.

And much more. Click below to listen to our interview:

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If your browser/Internet connection balks at the Flash player above and/or downloading the audio, click on the player below, or click here to be taken to YouTube, for an audio-only YouTube clip.  Between one of those versions, you should find a format that plays on your system.

For the rest of podcasts at the PJM Lifestyle blog, start here and keep scrolling.

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Finny Friday: Begone, Pet Store Betta Cups!

Friday, April 27th, 2012 - by Bridget Johnson

I’ve always enjoyed keeping fish. They’re fun, relaxing to watch and beautiful to have around. They remind one of the amazing array of aquatic life across the planet. Though I’ve never ventured into keeping a saltwater aquarium, I’ve had a decent variety of freshwater fish over the years: from the goldfish I rescued from zoology class in high school after its under-the-microscope ordeal to an array of neon tetras and glass catfish. I learned the hard way that it wasn’t wise to put platies in a 5-gallon aquarium after the pet-store purchase suddenly produced a bunch of live young. I had a great golden snail, named Boutros Boutros-Snail, who grew to the size of a plum before he passed away after a couple of years. The next snail I got, though, a blue snail, began reproducing on its own and the flood of baby snails broke my filter pump and killed the other fish.

But my tried and true favorite has been the betta, or Siamese fighting fish. You know, those poor little guys kept in the cups in pet stores.

My first betta lived for about three years after I freed him from one of those dastardly little cups. The bowl I kept Muqtada al-Fish in wasn’t that big, but he was a gentle, leisurely guy who seemed happy blowing bubble nests all day long. I’d put him back in the pet-store cup to clean the bowl, then refill with bottled spring water.

Having a tank with a broken filter pump thanks to the breeder snail, I thought about putting a betta in there. Inspired by a nice clearance section at a pet store, though, I got a fresh 2.5 gallon tank for the new little guy. It had a clear lid to prevent him from jumping out, yet by removing the filter pump at the back there was a nice air vent for him to enjoy. A fold-down LED light at the top switched from daylight, to night-light, to off.

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Does This Woman Have the Most Beautiful Face in the World?

Friday, April 27th, 2012 - by Sonny Palermo

Singles – when you go out in search of the perfect partner do you take a measuring tape with you? Perhaps you should because perfection is a collection of optimal measurements. So say scientists in the UK, as reported by The Daily Mail and shared by The Huffington Post. Britain’s Florence Colgate is said to have the perfect face, based on the following stats:

“A woman’s face is said to be most attractive when the space between her pupils is just under half the width of her face from ear to ear. Experts also believe the relative distance between eyes and mouth should be just over a third of the measurement from hairline to chin.”

Is Ms. Colgate pretty? Yes. But the most beautiful in the world? I don’t think so, but then again I also didn’t see Sandra Brick as a heart-stopping beauty, which is what she believes she is as noted in Dave Swindle’s post “Women Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful.”

Perhaps perfection differs from culture to culture. Japanese inventor Le Trung built the perfect woman. According to Lee, some of the qualities that make his robot perfect is she is always happy to clean his house or fetch him a drink (his address is available to any feminists reading this who are interested in ‘speaking’ with him on his qualifiers.)

What is perfection anyway, and is it desirable? Isn’t a mole considered to be an imperfection? Yet, isn’t it that same mole, when placed just to the left of and above Cindy Crawford’s upper lip, part of what contributes to her beauty?

Isn’t identifying perfection simply a matter of pointing out imperfections? And who among us is without blemish and therefore qualified to cast that first stone? Not I.

Perfection is not a combination of math and science it is a matter of opinion. Beauty is, as the saying goes, in the eye of the beholder. Otherwise there’s just no explaining Yoko.

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3 of Today’s Best Suspense Novelists Are MSM Journalists

Friday, April 27th, 2012 - by David Forsmark

Whatever the facts of the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case may turn out to be, it is instructive in how the media narrative works. Many reporters and pundits are ignoring the forest of reality while waiting to climb the one tree and go out on a limb assuming a local crime story reinforces their world view.

So it comes as a bit of a surprise that three of today’s best suspense novelists — writers who stand firm against the media narrative of crazy killer veterans, reflexively racist cops and imperialist CIA oppressors — are prize-winning journalists from the liberal troika of the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and, yes, the New York Times.

Soft Target by Stephen Hunter

It will surprise no thriller fan that Stephen Hunter is less than politically correct. For more than 20 years and through 17 novels, Hunter has tweaked media narratives and refuted their clichés about guns and the men who use them. His most famous novels, which feature former Marine sniper Bob Lee Swagger, celebrate the small-town American fighting man who fights his country’s wars and has contempt for the elites who underestimate him.

In his last Swagger book, I, Sniper, Hunter showed he was fed up with the industry that awarded him a Pulitzer Prize for film criticism as a writer for the Washington Post. In what could be seen as a one-paragraph summary of Thomas Sowell’s The Vision of the Anointed, Hunter put these words in the mouth of a frustrated FBI agent:

The narrative is the set of assumptions the press believes in, possibly without even knowing that it believes in them. It’s so powerful because it’s unconscious. It’s not like they get together every morning and decide “these are the lies we tell today.” No, that would be too crude and honest. Rather, it’s a set of casual non-rigorous assumptions about a reality they’ve never really experienced that’s arranged in such a way as to reinforce their best and most ideal presumptions about themselves and their importance to the system and the way they’ve chosen to live their lives. It’s their way of arranging things a certain way what they all believe in without ever really addressing it carefully. It permeates their whole culture. They know, for example, that Bush is a moron and Obama a saint. They know Communism was a phony threat cooked up by right-wing cranks as a way to leverage power to the executive. They know Saddam didn’t have weapons of mass destruction, the response to Katrina was f—ed up, torture never works. … Cheney’s a devil, Biden’s a genius. …The story [the central frame up in I, Sniper] was somewhat suspiciously concocted exactly to their prejudices, just as Jayson Blair’s made-up stories and Dan Rather’s Air National Guard documents were. And the narrative is the bedrock of their culture, the keystone of their faith, the altar of their church. They don’t even know they’re true believers, because in theory they despise the true believer in anything. But they will absolutely de-frackin-stroy anybody who makes them question all that.

This was written too early to add:  “And innocent Trayvon Martin was executed for Walking While Black to buy Skittles by a racist white Hispanic who listens to Rush Limbaugh.”

Hunter’s latest, Soft Target (Simon and Schuster, $26.99), makes the rant above seem subtle. On the surface it updates Die Hard with the setting in the Mall of America. A Marine sniper is trapped with 1,000 customers on Black Friday by a team of jihadists calling itself the Mumbai Brigade.

That’s on the surface. At its core, Soft Target is a withering media and political satire that takes fewer prisoners than its hero, Ray Cruz, son of Swagger.

You see, the man in charge of the response to the terror attack is Colonel Douglas Obobo of the Minnesota State Police, whom Hunter describes as a charismatic media darling being pushed to be the first black director of the FBI. Hunter goes on to add he “hadn’t really done anything. His career was primarily a phenomenon of showing up, giving speeches, accepting awards, then moving up to the next level.”

Obobo scoffs that terrorism is the motive for the raid, opining that “other than a few Arabic-styled scarves, there is no evidence for that.”  He goes for negotiations rather than confrontation, while the jihadists — spurred on by a local radical imam who is good at pleading persecution whenever someone objects to his sermons — plan to go out in a blaze of glory, taking their hostages with them,.

Ultimately, of course, it turns out it is the terrorists who are trapped in the Mall with Ray Cruz. Soft Target is shorter and more obvious than the average Hunter book, but it’s great fun, fueled by Hunter’s knowledge of weapons and tactics — and his newly revealed sense of outrage.

Besides, who can resist a thriller where the department store Santa gets sniped by a Muslim terrorist on page one?

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The Siren Call of $5 Little Caesars

Friday, April 27th, 2012 - by Dave Swindle

My friend Brent Smith who blogs at Random Dude Eats Random Food:

Most of the time when I have pizza it’s something so quick, cheap, and dirty it almost feels like a Secret Service outing in South America. It’s true and I’m not going to act like I’m ashamed of it. The siren call of $5 Little Caesars is hard to resist, and lately I’ve been wondering if maybe I’ve lost my ability to appreciate pizza that you can’t buy with just the change you dug from your couch cushions. A couple of weekends ago I decided to test myself with some pizza that has a better than average reputation. The Girlfriend and I decided to try Some Guys.

Great pizza as a seductive siren song. You take a bite and savor the pizzeria blend of spices — always a unique combination depending on which non-chain restaurant you pick. Some Guys — with locations on the north side of Indianapolis — is a reliable choice and Brent does them justice in his review.

Reading Brent’s savory description of a hometown favorite is like being Ulysses tied to the mast, longing to leap overboard as the sirens sing.

I still love the junk food as much as ever — but now it seems like more and more when I slip up and indulge the price paid later just isn’t worth it. Oh sure it tastes wonderful going down, but how will it feel being digested and what mood will it put me in later? How much time will I have to spend in the bathroom wincing the next morning?


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The ‘Cult’ of Attachment Parenting?

Friday, April 27th, 2012 - by Rhonda Robinson

From the discussion on Elisabeth Badinter’s controversial new book The Conflict at Slate:

Badinter places the guilt over breast-feeding into a larger cultural and historical context. Modern women have given themselves over to the cult of what she calls “ecological parenting.” It’s not just breast-feeding on demand, but the fad for doulas and natural childbirth and our horror of epidurals and formula. Many of us do not fall for all these trends, and we may even make fun of them, but they are in fact our current ideals—the markers of perfect motherhood. “Beware the woman who takes even a small glass of champagne at a birthday party,” Badinter writes, hinting at the sinister modern framing of motherhood as a constant trade-off between the needs of the child and the selfish desires of the mother.

Gearing up for a football game, my son Tom once wrote 33TOM across his cheek. When he turned from the bathroom mirror to show his sisters, their laughter confused him. In reality, he wrote MOTEE.

Badinter and her brand of feminists have tattooed their own MOTEE across the foreheads of women for generations. And their love affair with the mirror has permanently distorted their ability to seereality.

Many of the so-called “cultish” trends that the author claims modern women have given themselves over to have existed at least thirty plus years. No, wait – I believe natural childbirth and breast feeding existed a bit longer.

Trends, fads and cultish behavior are the byproducts of new ideas. Giving birth to your child without unnecessary intervention and  bonding with her on an intimate level (such as co-sleeping or breastfeeding on demand) are only new ideas in the minds of women who have embraced feminism as a form of external power.

In reality, the “trends” bemoaned by the author are actually a slow recovery that started a couple of decades ago when many of us embraced our femininity. We discovered that our bodies are a spectacular design that didn’t end with sex. When given the chance we are capable of almost unimaginable strength, resilience and an inner power no movement can give.

Personally, I find it refreshing that there is a new generation that has rejected the decaying ideology that claims children undermine our “status.”

Natural childbirth, nursing, doula care, healthy eating habits — are all these just cultish trends? Or is it that this generation has refused to embrace the shallow values of the “me” generation?

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Movie Theatre Desperation: Will the Tweens Show Up if We Allow Texting?

Thursday, April 26th, 2012 - by Megan Fox
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Poll: Should theater owners allow texting in movies? – latimes.com.

According to a report from the CinemaCon convention in Las Vegas by Deadline New York, Regal Entertainment Chief Executive Amy Miles said at a panel discussion that her theater chain had considered allowing some cellphone use during showings of “21 Jump Street.” At the same panel, Deadline reported, Greg Foster, chairman and president of filmed entertainment for IMAX, endorsed the idea at the same panel, saying teens may “feel a little handcuffed” by the ban on phone use.

This is a tough one for me. On one hand, I don’t like rude people in theaters (so much so that I once was the catalyst for a fist fight at the midnight showing of Star Wars Clone Wars where someone was nearly stabbed in the jugular with a broken beer bottle. Sweet home, Chicago!) On the other hand, I hardly ever go to theaters anymore so rude people frequenting the movies have no effect on me. I stopped going shortly after the melee at Star Wars but it wasn’t the fat lip.

It irks me that I have to miss part of the movie if I have to go to the bathroom after a giant Big Gulp. Whatever happened to intermission? The sticky floors aren’t my favorite experience either. I much prefer the comfort of my own couch, the warmth of my dog Moose snuggled at my feet, the pause button, and the ability to text whoever I want without getting yelled at.

There may be something to the distraction angle. Most of us are so used to doing so many things at once it almost feels strange to sit and stare at one screen for two hours. A few months ago Mr. Fox and I tried out one of those theaters that serve dinner and drinks. I loved that. Yes, there is some chatting with waiters but the sound is so loud it’s not that bad and there’s beer, so…duh. If I have to sit in a room with a bunch of strangers, wings and beer makes it a heck of a lot more pleasant.

Perhaps we should encourage the young people to keep that texting addiction going simply for the weight loss benefits. Michelle Obama could add it to her list of demands on children. As reported by CBS News,

And with excessive texting come a number of problems, including lack of eating, isolation and sleep deprivation, experts say.

If that’s true, childhood obesity may become a thing of the past, although carpal tunnel could take over the planet.

Is movie-going declining for reasons of technology or just personal preference and convenience or is it something else?

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Unmarried Households are the Majority for the First Time

Thursday, April 26th, 2012 - by Helen Smith

The Census Bureau found that unmarried households are now the majority (via Newsalert):

For the first time ever, the percentage of married households fell below 50 percent, according to the Census Bureau, which released a brief Wednesday about families and households from the results of the 2010 Census.

The percentage of married households fell to 48.4 in 2010, down from 55.2 percent in 1990 and 51.7 percent in 2000.

“The 48 percent of husband-and-wife households in 2010 was the first time since at least 1940 that this has fallen below 50 percent,” said Daphne Lofquist, Statistician for the Fertility and Family Statistics Branch for the Census Bureau.

I wonder how much of the decline is caused by the men’s marriage strike and how much is caused by other factors? Is marriage just on the way out or is there something more at play?

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The 10 Essential Hip-Hop Albums

Thursday, April 26th, 2012 - by Jonathan Sanders

Featured Image: Hip Hop

Hip-hop stands as one of the few uniquely American cultural developments of the last century, yet the genre remains misunderstood. The artistic subculture first combined spoken poetry with instrumental beats, original compositions and sampled elements from across the spectrum of blues, jazz and rock and roll, building on what came before to create a cultural juggernaut and global phenomenon.

Because the lines between pop and hip-hop have blurred over the last two decades, a majority of casual listeners continue to define the genre based on what they hear on the radio. Many music fans paint the entire hip-hop world with the stereotypical brush rather than take the time to understand it.

Whether you’re a hip-hop fan since birth or just looking for an intro to the genre, these ten classics deliver.

And Parental Advisory Warning: many videos feature lyrics NSFW.

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#10 – Dr. Dre – The Chronic

Dr Dre The Chronic

The Chronic marked the solo debut of Dr. Dre, formerly of N.W.A., who staked his claim as one of hip-hop’s most respected production innovators. Released in 1992 on his own Death Row Records label, the album features guest appearances by Snoop Dogg, who used the album as a launch-pad for his own career. The album peaked inside the top five on Billboard, going triple platinum and widely popularizing the G-Funk sub-genre within gangsta rap. This album remains among the most influential of the nineties, known for its top-notch production values. Dre waited a decade to release a sophomore effort, but as far as singular debuts go, this one’s a can’t miss.

Essential Tracks: “Let Me Ride,” “Nothing But A ‘G’ Thang,”

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How Intel Created a Computer Chip That Runs 37% Faster And Uses Half the Energy

Thursday, April 26th, 2012 - by Dave Swindle
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From MIT’s Technology Review, hat tip to Big Think, Intel releases a 3-D computer chip:

A transistor’s basic design comprises separate electrodes for incoming and outgoing current, known as the source and drain; material connecting the two, known as the channel; and a third electrode known as the gate, which controls the flow of current. Rather than being a flat layer, the channel of Intel’s reinvented transistors is a long “fin” that protrudes up into the gate electrode above, creating a more intimate electrical connection between the layers. Intel refers to its three-dimensional transistors as having a “tri-gate” design.

Similar designs were first suggested in Japan in the 1980s, and developed for many years at the University of California, Berkeley, starting in the 1990s. Intel started investigating the design around 2000, says Bohr, and in 2008 committed to using it. “It’s one thing to make a lab device, but a very different thing to make sure it can produce chips at low cost and high volume,” says Bohr. He says Intel is reusing many existing factory processes, and, as a result, patterning a silicon wafer with Ivy Bridge designs costs only around 2 percent more than it did for Intel’s previous generation of chips.

When does the grown up conversation begin regarding the unknown effects the exponential growth of technological power will have on our economy and culture?

The more apocalyptic prophesies emerge explaining how global debt and national debt will bury us all in the next 10 or 20 years, the more it seems as though a crucial variable is ignored in how humanity might survive the avalanche: the unimaginable wealth that will come from new technological breakthroughs.

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The Sad State of American “Fatherhood”

Thursday, April 26th, 2012 - by Helen Smith

I made the mistake last night of watching MTV’s “16 and Pregnant.” In the episode I saw, a 17-year-old black teen girl named Jordan was having a baby with her white teen boyfriend, Tyler. Jordan says she chose Tyler at school because he was unpopular and basically not very attractive (he is overweight but so is she) and a nerd. Thinking that he would be so grateful just to get a girl that he would do anything for her, she chooses him as a boyfriend. Her friends make fun of her for dating him but he actually seems to be one of the few guys on this show who actually want her and the baby. He gives her foot rubs and buys her a $300.00 baby crib for when their son arrives.

Jordan’s mother, Kelly, is a domineering woman who doesn’t want a “white boy in her house” and doesn’t allow Tyler over, even with Jordan having his baby. Eventually Jordan wises up and moves over to Tyler’s house as his parents are accepting of the relationship and welcome her there. However, once Jordan’s mother tells her that Tyler can come in their house to see the baby, Jordan moves back home. Tyler is as welcome as a leper at their home, however. Even though he is allowed in, Tyler is seen as an outside threat who has no rights in her home.

Naturally, once the baby comes, Tyler doesn’t feel welcome and rarely sees his son, Chase. Jordan refers to the child as “my son” and acts as though Tyler is a visitor. At one point, Tyler doesn’t call for a while and then comes over and asks to see his son and Jordan says he is sleeping and he cannot even look at him. Tyler curses at her and her brothers come down the stairs to beat him up. It’s disturbing that Tyler is chased to his car by the two brothers and then later, Jordan is sitting with the baby talking about how Tyler abandoned the child and how she was going to get custody and not allow him to see Chase at all. Welcome to the new state of fatherhood in America.

Men are thrown out of their children’s lives, while mothers tell themselves, their family and the child how dad abandoned them. All mom has to do is tell the courts that the dad has “abandoned” the family (i.e. he didn’t submit to all of my demands) and he can lose his child and/or be forced to pay for a child that he may never see. This episode made it clear that this father had few rights, if any, to his own child. Sure, in the next episode, Jordan may relent, but his rights depend only on how generous she decides to be. It’s a sad state of affairs.

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10 Reasons Why Pulp Fiction Is Still Cooler Than a $5 Milkshake

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012 - by Bridget Johnson

There’s no other occasion that represents a good excuse to run this list other than Pulp Fiction has been running on cable a lot lately. Most of the time I see it in the cable guide, I click on it. Doesn’t matter if it’s in the middle of the movie. Scenes I must have seen a couple hundred times in the nearly two decades since the film came out are still engaging, funny, and cool.

Back in 2008, in my final days at the Los Angeles Daily News before heading to Colorado and the Rocky Mountain News, I was invited by a friend at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to crash a screening they were having in a series that honored films nominated for Best Picture — but didn’t win. I was a bit late, having dashed over from the newsroom, and slipped into a row near the back of the plush theater. The rest of the row was empty, and viewers were scattered around the theater. But this guy sitting behind me kept cackling louder than anyone at all the right scenes. And after the final credits rolled and the house lights came up, an emcee for the screening invited Quentin Tarantino — the guy behind me — to come up to the stage and talk about the film. Joining him from the audience for the panel were The Gimp (Stephen Hibbert) and Raquel (Julia Sweeney).

Tarantino confessed that night that he’d slipped into the theater for the screening because he wanted to see if people still found the film funny and entertaining after all these years. What I loved was that as much as the Pulpers still quote the movie endlessly and click over every time it’s on, the director and scribe still loves his film more.

Here are 10 good reasons — in no ranked order — why Pulpistas still keep loving it. (NOTE: The movie’s R-rated, and so are the clips)

1. The five-dollar milkshake
Thanks to this and There Will be Blood, the milkshake has had it pretty good in movie lore in recent years. But even though this exchange is dated — as milkshakes are now five bucks at sit-down restaurants — it’s still funny because, yes, it’s still just milk and ice cream. (And do you recognize Buddy Holly the waiter? Think Reservoir Dogs — or Boardwalk Empire.)

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6 Reasons The Who Is Better Than That Stupid Band You Like

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012 - by Kathy Shaidle


One of my most talked about pieces for PJ Media noted as an aside that I thought The Who were better than The Beatles.

Loads of people signed in to yell at me for writing that — almost as many as those taking issue with my slagging of George Carlin.

Now I’m finally getting around to explaining what I meant, in six “bits” arranged in no particular order.

So prepare to spar with me, and each other, in the comments below, as I try to convince you that The Who is better than [insert name of that stupid band you like, here].

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A Boba Fett Hoodie With a Mask That Zips Over Your Face

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012 - by Dave Swindle

The Onion A.V. Club knows which dog whistle to blow. They’re giving away 4 free Boba Fett Hoodies that take Star Wars Geekdom to a new level:

The hood actually goes over your face, as though it really were Boba Fett’s mask. What more could you want?

Well, since you asked, in a search for other Boba Fett accessories, consider perhaps a jetpack backpack?

No word yet on whether Mandalorian is a recognized religious tradition, thus allowing you to deny requests to unzip your hoodie when passing through airport security.

Meanwhile, George Lucas relaxes at home:

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World Peace Gets Seven Days

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012 - by Roger L Simon

LA Laker Metta World Peace was given a seven day suspension by the NBA for whacking Oklahoma City’s James Harden in the head with his elbow at the Staples Center the other day, nearly decapitating Harden. With only one game of the NBA season left, this means WP will be out for the first six games of the playoffs.

Not just because PJ Media HQ is within spitting distance of the Lakers’ training facility, there are a fair number of Showtime fans in our company (the CEO and the COO – for two). But a rough poll of them today did not reveal a lot of sympathy (though perhaps a little sadness) for the one time Ron Artest. He may have gotten off easy with seven days.

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Interview with the Authors of The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012 - by Ed Driscoll

Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin are the co-authors of The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of Mad Men. Knowing how much I love the show (at least in its early seasons — get back to me when this season is over…) my wife gave me a copy of the book for Christmas, and I was surprised at how thorough and accurate the authors’ research of Mad Men, and early ’60s drinking and dining in general was. If you’re planning a Mad Men-themed party, or simply want to make the same kind of Old Fashioned that Don drinks, Roger’s favorite Oysters Rockefeller recipe, or heck, Pat Nixon’s Date Nut Bread, this is your book.

Among the topics we discussed are:

  • While aesthetics in general may have arguably gone downhill since the swank suit and skinny ties of the early 1960s, food has actually gotten much more varied. How basic were the dining and drinking choices in Don Draper’s days? The answer may surprise you.
  • How did the authors compile a list of all of the food and drink shown on the show?
  • How cooperative were the restaurants that are still around, and mentioned in the show in working with the authors?
  • Have they met any of the cast members since writing the book?

13 minutes long, click here to listen:

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Why Google+ Is Starting to Suck

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012 - by Michael van der Galien

Although Google+ continues to grow (it now has 100 million users, according to Larry Page) I’m afraid that while the stats may be on the rise the quality of the platform itself is going downhill.

When I signed up for Google+ in July of last year, it was like a breath of fresh air. It was inhabited by ‘early adopters’: people who are the first to sign up for new websites and to participate on them. Luckily for Google, these early adopters are also the world’s ‘influencers’ and they were positive and hopeful about this new social media baby.

That was then, this is now: like others I’m starting to lose faith in Google’s ability to turn G+ into a network where people come to discuss serious issues. Increasingly, it’s becoming a carbon copy of Facebook. People are reduced to sharing cat gifs and other fancy images (often with so-called ‘inspiring’ oneliners accompanying them).

The reason? I’m afraid that G+ lost most of its appeal when it opened to the public at large. The masses don’t care about quality conversations; they want fluff. To keep up with the trend, even influencers (with, again like me, many thousands of followers) change their posting behavior. We’re now at a point where I wonder why I’m logging in; sure there still are some good and interesting posts published on G+, but I can find their authors also at other social networking sites that are more focused on professionals.

Read: LinkedIn.

It became even worse when Google+ got a complete redesign that actually emphasizes images and photos. That’s great for the visually oriented, I guess, but for those of us who want to learn something from other people, it isn’t useless but frustrating. We suddenly see “trending topics,”"what’s hot” and posts that consist of a gigantic image, with no or little thoughts offered with it.

How that is supposed to inspire interesting conversations is beyond me.

Can Page et al. turn it around? Can G+ once again become the place on the Net for me to talk about technology and social media, and of course politics?

Perhaps. But I’m losing faith.

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