Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I am totally fascinated by Bento TV. It's a woman who shows various Japanese lunchboxes and recipes to fill them. While she and the video production are amateurs, she's incredibly professional. She is apparently reading from cue cards or has totally memorized each little presentation.

Now I totally want a wee multi-compartment lunchbox with a little cylinder to hold my damp towel (for finger washing purposes). Such is the power of suggestion in a video blog.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The New York Times has just hired its first perfume critic.

"Perfume is an art form just like other art forms from theatre to painting to music, so we're excited to be the first to cover perfume in this way," Diane McNulty, a Times spokesperson, said.

Burr's column, Scent Strip, in the paper's style section, will assess old and new perfumes for men and women as well as the occasional scented candle, and rate them from zero stars to four stars.

This is one weird beat.
It's the end of August, 2006 so you know what that means. It means that we are about to hear a fucking ton of news stories about the 1 year anniversary of Katrina and the 5 year anniversary of 9/11. Mixed into both of these stories will no doubt be plenty of assertions that the authorities, in fact, did awesome jobs and it is simply a failure of communication that causes the public to think otherwise.

"Failure of communication" is such a seductive idea. It glosses over whatever the real problem is ("we are incompetent and overly self-interested") while suggesting a painless solution ("we need to get out in front of this thing and tell our side of the story")

Which brings us to the Chicago Public Schools, where only about 5% of the student population is reading at grade level. What's the solution? Apparently it involves eliminating over 100 teaching positions, eliminating classes at both the advanced and special education ends of the spectrum, and hiring a video production company for $575,000 to make 20 half-hour programs for local cable that talk about how Chicago Public Schools are not sucky but, in fact, awesome.

The trib has the details:

"Ultimately we have to make choices about what's important," said Peter Cunningham, director of external affairs, who made the decision to hire an outside video production company instead of having the district's own five-person video staff handle the work. "We believe communicating to parents about what's happening in the district is important."


Cunningham said he has no way of knowing how many people actually watch the cable show, but he believes it's another way to reach parents who might not read newspapers or use the Internet.

Right! All those parents who don't read the non-existent stories in the newspapers or the Internet about the high quality of Chicago Public Schools are, if you think about it, an underserved population. They need a TV show! Because otherwise their actual, real world experience of having children enrolled in public schools might lead them to the assumption that the schools suck.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Kelefa Sanneh, who always delivers funny, smart writing in the NYT, has this observation about contemporary pop music:

If you’ve been watching many of the post-“Idol” musical reality shows, you might have noticed that most of these putative amateurs behave an awful lot like old pros. Don’t worry. There are still a few naïve musical dreamers, rushing in where angels fear to tread. You just have to know where to look.

Those naïve musical dreamers are, turns out, Paris Hilton and K-Fed, he of the much You Tubed Teen Choice Awards debacle.

Mr. Federline can afford to set his own agenda; he seems to be rapping mainly because there’s no one who can stop him. So there he was, jumping up from the piano bench, throwing on a white cap and clumsily insisting, “The lifestyle, the rich living, the fast cars/Don’t hate ’cause I’m a superstar.” No doubt the 11-year-old haters in the crowd took notice.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Having my picture taken is one of my least favorite things in the world. I came across a site that gave tips to photographers for coping with people like me, based on the logic that if we actually like pictures of ourselves, we are more likely to pay for them.

Here's the most interesting tip--instead of "say cheese!" instruct the subject to squeeze his butt cheeks together. The result is a natural smile at such a goofy request and the overall affect is one of happy, curious expectation rather than forced pleasantness.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Went to my 1st gay wedding last night. There was a reading from The House at Pooh Corner and a mariachi band so quite the multi-faceted experience.

Friday, August 11, 2006

A vitally important blog update:
I had earlier bemoaned the lack of YouTube videos that demonstrated the dance local kids call The Wild 40's.
It turns out those elsewhere call it The Chicken Noodle Soup (or some such variation.)
You may now return to getting wiggly with it.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Best thing about latest round of terror hoo-ha?
Sucks up all the oxygen that would otherwise be devoted to talking heads discussing Alaskan oil pipeline woes.
This morning there is no "Morning Edition" on NPR but rather a press conference talking about the UK terrorists plot that was thwarted.

First of all, I'm annoyed that this is on instead of the news. Secondly, I can't help but see the hand of Rove everywhere, including here.

Partly because it's getting close to an election and terrorism is one of the few things that Republicans still get credit for doing well.

And partly because they let Michael Chertoff, head of Homeland Security, babble on and on for so long. We are approaching the 1-year anniversary of Katrina and it seems like someone's idea to show him being decisive and protective. Ugh.