10. Almost Famous (2000)
Cameron Crowe’s reflection on his years as a teen Rolling Stone correspondent has all the warmth, directness and immediacy of a candid first novel — but, critically, Crowe didn’t make it until many years later, giving the film an additional layer of bittersweet nostalgia and emotional depth. The film wriggles with youth and echoes with maturity at the same time.
11. Wonder Woman
Her fresh, All-American face premiered on comic book stands during World War II, making her the greatest enemy of the Axis powers. Daughters of original readers would go on to be inspired by Lynda Carter’s televisual portrayal of the superheroine in the 1970s. The Wonder Woman arsenal includes a dual-function tiara with bracelets to match and the awesome Lasso of Truth. Before there was Lara Croft or a chick named Buffy, Wonder Woman proved that strength could be sexy and gave Captain America a run for his patriotism with her flag-bearing style.
Freedom in the United States of America doesn’t just mean expressing your freedom of speech or your right to petition the government. Sometimes, it’s about the freedom to fail … and fail we do … especially, it seems, when beer and explosives are involved.
[Warning: Language advisory]
10) Brazilian Rocket Science
I don’t know any Portuguese curse words, but I’d venture a guess that this video from São Paulo contains some choice epithets. Never, ever, ever hold the fireworks in your hand. Just don’t.
13. Bess Myerson
Recognizing a woman who appears to have parlayed her Miss America recognition into a minor-league acting gig may not seem logical, until you realize that Bess Myerson, the first Jewish Miss America, paved an uphill path for diversity in the pageant circuit. She was told by one Miss America exec that she ought to change her name to something “more gentile” and refused. Pageant sponsors refused to hire her as a spokeswoman and certain sites with racial restrictions refused to have her visit as Miss America. This was of no consequence to Miss Myerson, who was the first Miss America to win an academic scholarship. The racism she confronted was motivation for a lifetime’s work with organizations like the ADL, NAACP, and Urban League. She would go on to co-found The Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York and make boundless contributions to the city’s art community. Along with becoming a television personality, Myerson received several presidential appointments in the 1960s and ’70s and would receive two honorary doctorates.
[WARNING: Graphic videos below!! Nature isn't always pretty.]
Public service announcement: If you’re considering an exotic pet, please do your research. There are millions of pets in rescues because of impulse purchases by owners who had no idea what they were getting into. If you’re still set on getting an exotic pet after you’ve done your research, consider adopting one from a rescue organization.
The miracle of birth — it’s awe-inspiring and at the same time terribly gruesome. Anyone who has ever witnessed a live birth must at some point wonder how any thinking creature can choose to go through such an ordeal. Fortunately, our animal friends, including our beloved pets, spend exactly no time contemplating whether childbearing is worth the time and effort. As much as we’d like to imagine a more cuddly, loving narrative, they procreate because they must, not because they desire to create a beautiful family. Those same powerful instincts allow them to (mostly) give birth without human intervention. However, as evidenced by most of these home videos of pets giving births, the humans can almost never resist the urge to lend a hand. Nevertheless, despite their midwifery duties, many individuals have managed to capture some excellent footage of their pets giving birth.
Here are the 10 Most Amazing Pet Home Birth Videos:
10. The Lion King (1994).
The importance of The Little Mermaid (1989) and Beauty and the Beast (1991) in reviving Broadway musical-style animation shouldn’t be underestimated, and Pixar’s entry into filmmaking with Toy Story (1995) was revolutionary, but it’s the African saga based on Hamlet that gave animated storytelling a depth, seriousness and resonance it hadn’t had since Pinocchio. Now that we’re used to seeing one or two great animated films a year, it’s hard to remember how special it was for a movie to carry so much appeal to both adults and kids.
For the next month or so, Sirius-XM radio is featuring a “Billy Joel channel.” It’s 24-hours a day of the Piano Man. Although, to be fair, the channel only plays “Piano Man” once an hour or so. Oh, there it is now!
Anyway, Billy’s been recording music since the 1960s, so there’s plenty of great stuff to listen to. But there are, unquestionably, some stinkers mixed in with those show-stoppers.
Since it’s more fun to focus on the negative, let’s list the 10 worst Billy Joel songs:
10) “Ballad of Billy the Kid”
It’s bad history. Billy the Kid was born in New York city, not Wheeling, West Virginia. And it’s bad form for Billy Joel to compare himself to a notorious outlaw. And even if Joel really did ride out of Long Island carrying “a six-pack in his hand,” wasn’t he concerned about open container laws?
For over 90 years, the Disney Studios has created some of the most memorable and enduring animated films of all time. But even a fanboy like me can admit that not everything Disney has released has been perfect. As much as Disney markets and hypes every animated feature as a classic, many of them are simply overrated. Here are the top ten.
My ground rules were pretty simple: I didn’t include Pixar’s output because they haven’t always been directly part of the Disney family. I also didn’t include the direct-to-video “cheapquels” that Michael Eisner made so famous, because they’re in a lower class all their own, and I left out the package features of the 1940s. Enjoy!
10. Meet the Robinsons (2007)
Once in a while, Disney tries to throw a bone to boys to make up for the prominence of the princesses in animated films. While the idea is worthwhile and the efforts are valiant, once in a while the more male-oriented movies fall short. 2007’s Meet the Robinsons is one of the latter.
Meet the Robinsons had a lot of potential – a twisty, time travel story with a sweet adoption plot coupled with clever, stylized animation. Instead, Meet the Robinsons is dizzying, noisy, and just falls short. Part of the cartoon’s problem may stem from the fact that John Lasseter, newly taking over as head of animation after Disney acquired Pixar, suggested a retooling.
Whatever the reason, Meet the Robinsons just didn’t make the impact that it could have.
Are you a true child of the 1970s? See how many of these essential shoes you owned to find out!
10. Earth Shoes
Going from worst to first, I’m almost reluctant to name Earth Shoes to a list of “essential” anything because they were so completely unfortunate looking. The “negative heel technology” shoes represented one of those terrible moments when fashion tried to merge with health benefits. Anne Kalsø, a native of Denmark, invented the shoes in the 1950s. According to the Earth Shoes website:
Kalsø ‘s passion for yoga led her to study in Switzerland and eventually in Santos, Brazil. It was there, in 1957, that she observed the excellent posture of indigenous Brazilians, and the impressions left by their bare footprints as they walked through beach sand. She observed that the footprints laid were deeper in the heels than in the toes. This natural body position resonated with the thoughtful Kalsø. It echoed a formative yoga pose she knew well – Tadasana (the ‘Mountain’ pose). posture improved, and how her breathing passages opened. She was inspired.As she herself emulated the pose of the native Brazilians, she noticed how her own posture improved, and how her breathing passages opened. She was inspired.
Ten years later, Earth Shoes were born in Copenhagen. The company claimed that many people reported that the shoes eased chronic foot and body problems. It wasn’t until April 1st, 1970 — coinciding with the first Earth Day — that the first ”Kalsø Earth Shoes” store opened in the United States. The shoes became wildly popular, even appearing on the Tonight Show and in TIME Magazine. They’re still available, by the way, in case you’re feeling nostalgic or feel the need to have your breathing passages opened.
10. The Man Who Would Be King (1975)
A roaring, timeless Kipling adventure directed by John Huston and starring the incomparable duo of Sean Connery and Michael Caine, the film is simultaneously a swashbuckling imperialist adventure and a cautionary tale about venturing into dimly understood lands to take advantage of easy pickings there. The scene in which the two old soldiers laugh their way out of doom — their voices cause an avalanche that seals an unpassable chasm — is a mini-tutorial on the payoff from looking at the bright side.
The movies have given us some of the most hateful, horrible paternal role models imaginable. Here are 10 films well worth watching—but not on Father’s Day.
The evil protagonist in a series of Sax Rohmer novels is perhaps fiction’s greatest bad dad that no one remembers. The East’s arch evildoer and his despicable daughter appeared in a number of film adaptations over the years. This 1931 film is easily one of the best, as the deadly pair races against British intelligence in the quest for the source of ultimate power: the mask and sword of Genghis Khan. Come on! What kind of respectable father teaches his daughter that conquering the world is cool? At the time, the film proved controversial. The Chinese government complained the film conveyed a hostile depiction of Asians. They had a point. During the film, Fu Manchu commands: “Kill the white man and take his women!”
This time of year, everybody comes out with their list of the best songs of summer, and it seems like most every list boasts the same songs every year. But there’s nothing like discovering new music, especially this time of year. So, here’s your alternative summer playlist.
A quick note: not all of the songs specifically mention summer or take place in summer, but they have a summertime sound or feel. Here we go…
10. Zac Brown Band, “Uncaged”
With songs like “Toes,” “Jump Right In,” and “Where The Boat Leaves From” in their repertoire, Zac Brown Band just about has the market cornered on summer songs. As latter-day disciples of Jimmy Buffett, they’re the perfect band to kick off our countdown.
The title cut from their most recent full-length record, “Uncaged” extols the virtue of just getting outside and experiencing what the great outdoors has to offer. Who doesn’t want to escape the cages of the daily grind and take part in the excitement of nature? After all, isn’t that what summer is really about?
10. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Warren Beatty and Co’s idea to make a movie showing vicious criminals as prankish antiheroes — but nevertheless have them meet the most gruesome comeuppance ever depicted on screen to that point — yielded a provocative entertainment that also expertly marshalled the forces of irony. Are we meant to laugh with these careless bandits as banjo music plays them jauntily along to their next despicable act? Maybe, but even as we become complicit in the granting of legend status to twisted narcissists we forgive ourselves for enjoying what is, in our experience of it, only a movie. And the shocking, sudden end makes sure we don’t leave the theater smiling.
This one is for the girls. Not being completely familiar with the rules and regulations of trigger warnings, I’m a little hesitant about whether or not this is appropriate, but before I begin, let me just warn our male readers: continuing to read will rob you of your sense of awe about the mysterious and wondrous things that you think go on in the women’s restroom. Read at your own peril.
I’m attending some classes this week, which means I’m drinking copious amounts of coffee and therefore having to spend more time than I usually do in a public restroom frequented by other women — poised, professional-looking women who (by most measures) seem to have impeccable manners. But the minute I walk into the restroom I realize that women are the same wherever you go: It is a universal truth that women demonstrate appallingly uncouth behavior when they’re turned loose in public restrooms — especially when they are traveling in gaggles.
With that in mind I’d like to suggest a code of conduct for the ladies’ room — 10 Ladies’ Room Rules That Will Keep Other Women from Hating You.
Back in the 1970s, most Americans only had a few TV channels. In the pre-DVR era, there was no fast-forwarding through the commercials, so when the networks ran public service announcements, everyone watched. Apparently, someone in a position of influence thought that fear was a great motivator, especially for small children and their parents, so many of the TV spots were downright terrifying. Is it any wonder that the kids who grew up watching these PSAs became the parents who overprotected and coddled their millennial children, raising a generation of pajama boys?
Watching a few of these PSAs may help to explain why so many parents are so afraid of… basically everything.
1. Anyone can share VD with someone nice as you!
“VD is for everybody. Not just for the few. Anyone can share VD with someone nice as you!”
The takeaway from this PSA is that venereal diseases were lurking around every corner, waiting to pounce on unsuspecting individuals who were just minding their own business. The nice-looking boy who plays the violin, the friendly local grocer, your 3rd grade teacher, the school librarian – any one of them could be surreptitiously carrying ”the clap” or chlamydia and could at whim pass it on to an innocent bystander.
While you likely already know that your crock-pot is fabulous for making mouth-watering stews, pot roasts, and soups, you might be surprised to learn just how wide a variety of concoctions you can create in your slow-cooker. Here are some surprising and unconventional uses for your crock-pot:
A good quality, jar-sized candle at a specialty store can cost you close to $30. Fortunately, they’re not that difficult to make at home and they’re much less expensive than the store-bought varieties. By following a few easy steps you’ll enjoy homemade candles at a fraction of the price. Your friends and family will also appreciate your lovely scented gifts!
This is a great opportunity to get creative with glass jars you’ve recycled or found at thrift stores or yard sales. As long as the jars will fit in your crock-pot, you’re free to use your imaginate to create unique candles. In addition to the jars, you’ll need wax (renewable soy wax is slow-burning and soot free), essential oil or candle fragrance, candle coloring dye, and wicks. All of these supplies are available at craft stores or from online sources.
The rock band Blondie celebrates 40 years together this year. If you wish to feel old, that means as much time has passed between then and now as between then and the repeal of Prohibition. The lineup has shifted over the years but retains the core of singer Deborah Harry, collaborator-guitarist Chris Stein, and ace drummer Clem Burke.
The band emerged from the stew of Manhattan’s mid-70s Bowery and the burgeoning punk scene of CBGB’s. Harry, New York Bowery to her bones, was already a grizzled scenester when Blondie formed (that’s her lazing on the cover of this Wind in the Willows album from 1968). Harry and Stein have kept their eyes and ears open and have never been afraid to try something new, which has made for some dubious choices but also kept Blondie from becoming an inert nostalgia act. The group’s judgment may have sometimes faltered, but their invention has never flagged, from punk to pop to disco to rap.
Their 2006 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a live appearance in Manhattan during Super Bowl week 2014 prove the band has stood the test of time, albeit as a great band that hasn’t always make great records.
The new CD Blondie 4(0) Ever marks the bands 10th studio album, a two-disc package that includes one disc of re-recordings of past hits. But reducing the band’s output to a handful of polished dance-rock singles leaves out much of their grittier punk past. Here then, is a hopelessly subjective chronological rating of Blondie’s 10 albums, with tough letter grades in the style pioneered by rock-god-critic Robert Christgau.
1. Blondie (1976)
Released years before producer Mike Chapman would polish them up and propel them to worldwide fame, their self-titled debut remains intriguingly unclassifiable, gritty and sunny all at once. It retains a rogue sense of dark urban exuberance reminiscent of midnight movies and sketchy subways. The cartoonish, punky sound is delivered with panache, without sliding into three-chord Ramones monotony or the dense pretensions of Talking Heads, two of their compatriots on the local scene. Opening cut “X Offender” (which was “Sex Offender” before the radio censors) sums up the tensions of the record – a sweetly perverse tale of a prostitute with a crush on her arresting officer. Cracked, cheerful tributes to sci-fi and kung fu keep Side 2 fun (yes, I am old).
As it turns out, the decade wasn’t all bad!
Here are a few things we remember fondly from the 1970s:
1. Department Store Gift-Wrapping
As a child I was completely enchanted by the dazzling array of bows and shiny gift wrap displayed on the wall in the gift-wrapping department at the May Company department store near my home in suburban Cleveland. The ladies were expert wrappers, with perfectly creased corners and stripes that lined up at every seam. The bows and gift cards were like icing on the tops of beautiful cakes. It was like watching magic happen before my eyes to see an ordinary salad bowl transformed into a sparkly work of art piled high with ribbon and lace. These days, most stores no longer offer gift-wrapping service (though a handful still do). More often than not you’ll be directed to the wrapping paper aisle and told to fend for you ham-handed self — explaining the exponential growth of the gift bag industry.
‘Tis the season when those of us in the Midwest are serenaded by the tornado sirens on a weekly (if not daily) basis. Whether you head for shelter the minute the sirens go off or wait until you see the funnel cloud heading up your street, it’s important to think about what items you should grab on the way to safety. While you hopefully have emergency supplies like water, non-perishable food, self-powered flashlights and radio and a first aid kit in your basement or storm shelter, what other items will you need in the minutes and days immediately after your home is destroyed? What should you grab as you are heading for shelter?
Here are five things you can grab quickly and drop into a small bag as you’re running to safety — things you’ll be very glad to have in the event your home sustains significant damage:
1. Cell phone and charger
While most people will instinctively grab their cell phones on their way to the basement or shelter, it’s also important to grab your electric phone charger or, even better, a battery (or solar) operated charger. At the first sign of an impending storm, charge all of the family’s cell phones (and extra batteries if you have them) so you’ll be able to connect with first responders, other family members, and insurance companies in the event of a true emergency. If your home is damaged and you’re forced to relocate to a shelter or a hotel, you’ll likely have access to electricity, but chargers specific to your phone may not be available.
In part my loss of interest in much that is called “pop” came from overexposure and, I suppose, disappointed hopes.
I’d done some interesting work, even post Abstracts, including writing and recording for motion pictures. But even at the time, entering my twenties, so much pop music seemed shallow. In its stead I focused on two things: A return to my early love of classical music, particularly the symphonies of Beethoven and the keyboard works of Bach — these to satisfy the mind — and a turning towards roots music, be it in the form of Delta blues or the more modern Chicago variety — these to satisfy the spirit.
To this day most “pop” music strikes me as very teenagy. So much so that I have trouble understanding how any adult can find it of interest.
Of late I have again started to listen to music once classified as “pop,” but it is from the days when such music was aimed, not a teenagers, but at adults. Music of the Gershwins, for instance, and that of Cole Porter.
And this is, I think, the difference. Today everything in the “arts” seems to be aimed at children.
I was never a huge bubblegum pop music consumer — my tastes ran more toward the “despite all my rage/I’m still just a rat in a cage” Smashing Pumpkins school of adolescent angst. But I do think there is a place for upbeat, fun, simpleminded music: when exercising. I’ve come to appreciate Bach, Mozart, and innovative jazz in recent years but I don’t think it was ever meant to accompany running.
These are some of the tracks that are in my regular rotation for when Maura and I do our morning runs at sunrise. (Note: I make a point to turn the music off at 6:07 when The Morning Answer starts on AM 870 here in Los Angeles. Listening to Ben Shapiro and Elisha Krauss fighting against the inane, narcissistic arguments of their so-called liberal co-host Brian Whitman is also good for inspiring the energy of a teenager first thing in the morning…)
Recent surveys highlight the fact that seniors lag behind the younger generation in the adoption and usage of technology. Based on interviews with more than 1500 adults age 65 and over, Pew researchers found they could roughly divide senior citizens into two groups. The first group is “younger, more highly educated, or more affluent.” They are far more technologically connected and demonstrate more positive attitudes toward the benefits of the modern digital world. In fact, this group uses the internet at rates approaching — or even exceeding — the general population. The second group is “older, less affluent, often with significant challenges with health or disability.” They are less connected and more wary of the Brave New World of digital platforms. Internet use drops off dramatically after age 75.
Here are some other facts about seniors and technology use:
1. 59% of Seniors Use the Internet
In 2012, 59% of seniors were internet users, up six percentage points from the previous year. In 2014, 47% of seniors have a high-speed broadband connection at home and 77% have a cell phone (up from 69% in 2012). According to the Brookings Institute, seniors spend most of their time online communicating with friends, shopping, and searching for health information.
Tyler Vigen, a Harvard Law student, has created a website that appears to demonstrate the truism: “53% of all statistics are made up.” That’s not precisely true of the “research” Vigen presents at Spurious Correlations (his correlations rely on actual data sets) but it does give some insight into the tools the data crunchers have at their disposal for spinning actual facts into what they want us to hear (often to the exclusion of more relevant information). Vigen says, “Empirical research is interesting, and I love to wonder about how variables work together. The charts on this site aren’t meant to imply causation nor are they meant to create a distrust for research or even correlative data. Rather, I hope this projects gets people interested in statistics and research.”
Here are some of Vigen’s best Spurious Correlations:
1. Number of people who tripped over their own two feet and died correlates with Civil engineering doctorates awarded (US)
The more pressing question: Are the civil engineers tripping over their own feet or are they designing things that cause others to trip?
While the 1970s are known for some terrifying fashions and the human indignity of the Disco Era, the decade (with some assists from the previous generation) also gave us some amazing technological advancements that many of us take for granted today. Here are ten that changed the world:
1. Microwave Ovens
Before the 1970s, our only option for heating up leftover pizza was the conventional oven and we didn’t have the luxury of 4-minute microwave popcorn (gross as it is). Though the “Radarange” was first sold in the United States in 1947, it wasn’t until the ovens became affordable for the average family that “microwaves” became common in American homes (even if they didn’t live up to their promises of delicious layer cakes and scrumptious roasts in 30 minutes). In addition to the high prices, many Americans were afraid of radiation associated with microwave ovens. I remember my dad refusing to purchase what he called a “radar burger” at a concession stand in the early ’70s. In 1971, only 1% of households in the U.S. owned a microwave. By 1986, roughly 25% of households in the U.S. owned a microwave oven, with the number soaring to 90% of American households by 1997.
More spandex. More stunts. More destruction. More incredible powers. More yawns. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 wouldn’t live up to its billing even if it were called The Adequate Spider-Man. Thanks to phoned-in, factory-produced efforts like this one, with each new superhero movie, super-fatigue threatens to become a super-serious problem. Here’s a look at the five most superfluous, extraneous, unnecessary superhero movies of the last five years.
1. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
Andrew Garfield’s cockiness makes you long for the sweetness of Tobey Maguire, and the script doesn’t help him at all by having Spidey issue jocular, punny one-liners as he’s battling goofy villains like Rhino (Paul Giamatti, giving a Nicolas Cage-level tutorial in how to overact), Green Goblin (a completely unscary Dane DeHaan) and the soon-to-be-notorious Electro (Jamie Foxx), a shockingly low-voltage clown who fires electricity out his fingertips. The romance between Peter Park and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone, who has the brisk cuteness of a stage brat without ever making the audience fall in love with her) seems forced, and the gigantic special-effects sequences are all bluster and boom, no genuine drama. You’ve seen everything in this movie before.