In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Computer-free
  2. Laughing at Rem
  3. Guest Posting from Planet Friedrich
  4. Elsewhere
  5. Herbert Muschamp is Real Gone
  6. Two Kinds of Guys, Cont.
  7. Summer Reading Lists
  8. Two Kinds of Guys
  9. Slow
  10. Dept. of Too Damn Much Tech

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Dear Vanessa -- This Blowhard is taking his Wife on a romantic beach vacation. And since for us oldies, "romantic" equals "no computer," I won't be blogging (or even checking email) for the next week. Let's see: bathing suits? Check. Flip-flops? Check. Credit cards? Check. Gallon container of SPF 500 sunblock? Wait: where's the sunblock? Best to all, Michael... posted by Michael at June 26, 2004 | perma-link | (7) comments

Laughing at Rem
Dear Vanessa -- Don't miss Keith Pleas' visit here to the new Rem Koolhaas Seattle public library. (From pix, the library looks to me like a cyberwarehouse, a camp orgy of translucency, metal grillework, and computer-aided origami -- part Apple Store, part airport, part Edsel.) Keith doesn't seem impressed, to say the least. In one hilarious passage, he's giving some thought to the place's avant-garde signage: My question is, how readable will any of this signage be with real, live people in front of it? Frankly, I think the design team didn't think beyond how it would look in the photos they're going to have submitted to the architecture and design journals which, naturally, are taken without people messing up the spaces. Oh, and give yourself extra credit if you noticed the shin-high railings along the angled wall and thought "hey, won't people trip on those?" These aren't the words of someone who's in the thrall of current architectural Theory, that's for sure. Thanks to David Sucher (here), who pointed Keith's posting out. David himself tours the library today; the blogosphere awaits his verdict. Personally, I'm hoping the NYTimes will fill the architecture-critic position recently vacated by Herbert Muschamp with either David or Keith. The public discussion about architecture -- which seems to me to be in a particularly demented state these days -- could use a heavy dose of David and Keith's brand of intelligent common sense. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at June 26, 2004 | perma-link | (3) comments

Friday, June 25, 2004

Guest Posting from Planet Friedrich
Dear Vanessa -- This just in from a former Blowharder: I'm still gnawing away at Modern Art. Not very originally, I would identify at least four major sub-traditions in Modern Art: Social Realism, Formalist Modernism (Post-Impressionism through Abstraction), Symbolism (Symbolists-Surrealism) and Conceptual (Duchamp and his postmodern children.) The problem is a huge fuzziness about the beginnings of all of these. Social Realism has antecedents going back at least as far as Caravaggio. Formalist Modernism is clearly related in various ways to Neoclassicism and Romantic painting, to say nothing of much older Japanese, African, and other sources. Symbolism is obviously almost undistinguishable from Romanticism. Conceptual art is essentially the use of traditional/historical strategies for communicating meaning in art applied to objects, words, behaviors, etc., rather than to representational visual symbols. In many ways, conceptual art is the 20th century version of history painting -- just without the draftsmanship. Some of those questions, however, were just motivated by reading a lot of history in a short time and suddenly making what appeared to be obvious connections -- e.g., how is psychoanalysis related to "The Sorrows of Young Werther" or "The Confessions" or "Emile"? (Perhaps more awkwardly, how is psychoanalysis related to Spiritualism and Mesmerism? To European imperialism?) How is landscape painting related to the rise of Deism, Unitarianism and Rational Religion? Where exactly did Romanticism come from, and what's it about, exactly? That is, can it be related to underlying social/economic/religious/scientific trends? By the way, it also dawned on me that it's not just a matter of "interpreting" art in light of social forces -- I think it can also work the other way around. For example, I was wondering why the French Revolution turned so savagely violent. After all, it came at the end of a century of significant material progress for the French (higher incomes, greater life expectancies, improved roads and infrastructure, etc.) The absolutist monarchy wasn't the nicest institution in the world, but it hadn't visited that kind of violence on Frenchmen in over a century -- really, since the repression of The Fronde. What exactly were they so pissed off about? And why were the French revolutionaries so eager to go to war with virtually all of Europe? Then I thought of J. L. David, whose paintings are full of quasi-hysterical glorifications of moral harshness (Oath of the Horatii, Brutus) and of dead heroes (Marat, Bara, Lepellitier, etc., etc.). Obviously he was hitting the French where they lived, emotionally. And in David's personal and professional life, all the action came from a dichotomy between a desperate desire to connect with "good" father-figures and furious anger at "bad" fathers -- not surprisingly, as his own father was killed in a duel when he was an infant, thus leaving him orphaned and searching for substitute father figures like his architect uncle (bad), like his cousin Boucher (good), like his neoclassical mentor Vien (mostly bad), like the senior administrators in the Academy (bad), like Marat (very good), like Robespierre (good), like... posted by Michael at June 25, 2004 | perma-link | (3) comments

Dear Vanessa -- * Alice Bachini blogs again! Only now she's deploying her unique combo of style, voice, merriment, and incisiveness from Texas, here. * Yahmdallah has some suggestions for summer viewing, here. * The invaluable Independent Institute takes a look here at Bush-era budget figures and delivers the bad news: since 9/11, federal spending has been increasing at a faster rate than at any time in the last 30 years. * Finally proven once and for all: being male is bad for your health. Details here. Plus, quel surprise, men are less sensitive to physical pain than women are, here. * Dutton on Rosen on Modernism, here. Sample quote: The problem for modernism is that with atonality it reached a point where intelligibility, and therefore pleasure, was stretched beyond the breaking point. The aesthetic effect of music depends in most instances on its ability to incite predictions and then foil them: think of the dramatic modulations of Beethoven, or the sudden, unexpected shifts into major keys in Schubert. Completely unpredictable music can no longer surprise its listeners: if just anything can be expected, nothing can enter experience as unexpected. And ain't that the truth. I notice that ALD (here) has linked to a Nature piece here about atonality. * If "secularism" is held to with fanatical zeal, does it become its own kind of religion? Here. * Terry Teachout looks at the NYTimes' two, wildly-different reviews of Bill Clinton's memoir -- Michiko's pan and Larry's praise -- and makes a lot of sensible and worldly observations about how the book-reviewing trade works, here. * Have you explored the blog Gene Expression, here? Dicey but fascinating topics we'll all be hearing more about, brainily handled. Now's a good time to check them out: Razib, Godless and the crew are on an especially-energetic roll. * I got a chance to hang with Steve Sailer for an evening and had a great time. He's the bighearted, calm, and supersmart person his journalism and blogging suggests that he is. I don't follow sports, but I learned a lot anyway from Steve's recent column about the Larry Bird brouhaha, here. (I was about to type "the Larry Bird flap," but for some reason that didn't seem like a good idea.) * A much-buzzed-about current art show can be read about here. It's by the artist Andrea Fraser, and it consists of a videotape of Fraser having sex with an art collector. That's the artwork. As one critic wrote, "It's about Hobbesian notions of the social contract, the art of the deal, and of course, 20 grand, which is what Fraser got paid." * I notice that this place here seems to be selling yoga pants and shorts that some male visitors might find acceptable: stretchy enough to suit a yoga class, but long and baggy enough to suit a square straight guy too. Yuppie prices, though. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at June 25, 2004 | perma-link | (0) comments

Herbert Muschamp is Real Gone
Dear Vanessa -- What a lovely development: the NYTimes' absurd radical propagandist, er, architecture critic Herbert Muschamp is stepping down. Here's a sensationally good NY Observer piece about Muschamp's run at the paper, and why he's leaving. Those who are curious about how the ego-tecture game is played -- and those still idealistic about bigtime architecture -- are urged to give the piece a read. It's not as if Muschamp's absurdity (and his ego, his tyrannical temperament, and his corruption) was a big secret. "If the transition is self-motivated," writes Clay Risen, the article's author, "it's also, sources at The Times said, a relief to a new crop of editors unwilling to defend, as their predecessors did, the critic's iconoclasm and obscurantism, his unapologetic dilettantism and his unabashed socializing within the highest social circles of the creative world he judges in print." Much, much more follows. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at June 25, 2004 | perma-link | (1) comments

Two Kinds of Guys, Cont.
Dear Vanessa -- I hope I'll be forgiven for promoting a comment I put on your "Two Kinds of Guys" posting to a posting of its own. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself when I finished writing it, so I can't resist. I urge visitors to read Vanessa's posting here, and its interesting comment thread as well. Here goes. Well, during the few free moments when I'm not fighting off attempts by starlets and ballerinas to force me to accept blowjobs ... I do feel for American women, fed up with them though I often get. And I'm with Todd about 50% of the way -- it's necessary to laugh at people like Naomi Wolf, who complain about feeling traumatized by Seventeen magazine. Hey, life's tough. (Naomi Wolf needs to be laughed at for lots of reasons.) But Vanessa's raising an important point, it seems to me. To some extent, in the straight world, men are the audience for women (and women for men). And if you're faced with an unresponsive or uninterested audience, it can drive you nutty. There's something about America that leads many guys to abandon the whole seeking-the-poetry-in-women thing and to just hunt or fish or watch sports instead, while expecting to have (or hoping to have) a sexy sympathetic woman around to take care of all that woman stuff guys need taken care of. Where's the appreciation for who and what a woman is? For the gifts, beauties, and talents that she brings with her? For the unique and delightful package of qualities that she is? For, in some cases anyway, her feelings and intuitiveness, as well as her way with emotions, organic and domestic and romantic things? Women (some, anyway) are color, mystery, poetry, changeability; they have access to cool and slippery realms of experience and being, which is great in and of itself, and that most guys can't get to left to their own devices. If a gal doesn't feel some recognition of all this and some appreciation for it, it doesn't surprise me that she'd feel a little nuts. To reverse the sex roles: many nice straight guys in NYC are driven nuts by the self-centered, highstrung women here. Why? Because many of these gals are interested only in themselves and their own needs and fantasies -- getting into the right party, landing someone with tons of dough, showing off, being photographed, having tantrums at work, etc. The "guy" in such a life is just another (if necessary) accessory. (There are nice gals around, etc, but the Manhattan media-and-culture world is remarkably full of highstrung self-centered women ....) And this makes many perfectly decent guys feel really blue. Where's the genuine admiration for their good qualities? Where's the fond amusement at their follies, and their humor and energy? Where's the loving appreciation for their generosity and efforts? John O'Hara somewhere or other was writing about these women when he said something like "They aren't lesbians but they don't like men." And... posted by Michael at June 25, 2004 | perma-link | (26) comments

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Summer Reading Lists
Dear Michael: While trolling Romenesko, I clicked on a link by accident and found this useful article which is Chip Scanlan's summer reading list plus a whole bunch of links to other people's summer reading lists; here. I'm going to attempt to read a whole book this summer: Robert Kurson's "Shadow Divers," about two wreck divers off the coast of New Jersey who found that mysterious U-boat full of Nazi skeletons. It got a big ole slobbery kiss from Janet Maslin in today's New York Times; here. Yours, Vanessa... posted by Vanessa at June 24, 2004 | perma-link | (4) comments

Two Kinds of Guys
Dear Michael: So, since you posted your theory about "Two Kinds of Guys" I've been trying to sort my thoughts about it. First, let me say I think you totally nailed it. My immediate reaction was a kind of "Holy Crap!" moment, and then I tried to identify the effects of living in a place--the United States, namely--where 1) men seem to have this attitude that women are merely accessories to their boyish preoccupations; and, 2) this attitude is reinforced by magazines and TV aimed at guys ("The Man Show," Maxim magazine and its heinous spinoffs and copycats, dumb-ass-guy movies, beer commercials). The effect has been, I think, that women have over time internalized its negative message: that, women are interesting as long as they're "hot" and don't get in the way of men enjoying adolescent pursuits. So, the result is women have misgivings about their worth (bagging a man, after all, is one of evolution's time honored mandates) and turn to the media for help. Thus, the awful and essentially misogynistic women's magazine trade; plastic-surgery addiction; eating disorders; "The Swan"; Britney Spears as style icon. Who today gives women permission to be their whole selves? Not TV. Not Hollywood. Not the rap industry. Novels? Perhaps, since in them one is more likely to encounter the woman-as-fascinating-creature rhapsody that you describe (but, who reads anymore?). You know who's giving women the love they crave? Oprah and Martha Stewart. And, that's why they're gazillionaires. Now, before all you guys out there start piling on, I don't really think American men are all boorish, juvenile, emotionally stunted, Farrelly-brothers fans (I married one, after all). But the image that the media (Hollywood, TV, mags, etc.) reflects back at us suggests that something is up. It may be a totally false image when it comes to individual male people but it seems to be speaking to a common fantasy life, or something. Which leads me to wonder, Is it different anywhere else? In France, say, the spiritual homeland of the women-are-interesting-warts-and-all line of sexuality? Or, is that a movie-propagated myth, too? Kissy faces, Vanessa... posted by Vanessa at June 24, 2004 | perma-link | (9) comments

Dear Vanessa -- Expert foodie that you are, you're well aware of the Slow Food movement, whose international website is here and whose U.S. website is here. 2Blowhards visitor Dave Lull writes in to point out a couple of other slow-it-down movements and websites that have appeared recently. As we say in the media game, "Three examples and you've got yourself a real trend." Here's a site devoted to a book by Carl Honore that's about the virtues of slowness generally. Honore isn't advocating anything hippie-ish or unwashed, let alone any form of hide-in-the-woods Luddism either. He's advocating something very civilized instead. "Being 'Slow'," the author writes, "means living better in the hectic modern world by striking a balance between fast and slow." Here are some facts from the book's press material: Americans spend 40% less time with their children than they did in the 1960s; an American on average spends 72 minutes of every day behind the wheel of a car; a typical business executive now loses 68 hours a year to being put on hold; and American adults currently devote on average a meager half hour per week to making love. Here's a q&a with the author; here's the book's Amazon page; here's a Yahoo News visit with Honore. "Living better" -- if art ain't about that, then I just lost interest. I also enjoyed noticing that Honore is a yoga fan. And here's Dave's other find, the website of the Slow Cities movement, which seems very Jane Jacobs, as well as directly influenced by Slow Food. I'm eager to hear what David Sucher (here), John Massengale (here), James Kunstler (here) and Larry Felton Johnson (here) -- Slow types, all of them -- think of the Slow Cities movement. I notice that Kunstler's June Eyesore of the Month award (here) goes to the very speedy new Rem Koolhaas-designed library in Seattle. Kunstler makes some good jokes at the place's expense. David Sucher tours the library this Saturday and will blog about it soon after. I'm eager to read David's observations and verdict. How not to root for these Slow developments? Careening through cyberlife while clicking on flashing buttons has its virtues and pleasures; it can leave you feeling frantic and empty too. What's all that workaday speeding-around meant to lead to anyway? Yet more speeding around? Pardon me while I collapse, then take a mood-booster. It occurs to me that there are two Slow movements I'd like to see someone start up. First: Slow Tennis -- wooden rackets, small racket heads. Enough with the flashy monotony of today's boom-boom, stunt-centric MTV spectacle, and back to the civilized amateur's game tennis was prior to the 1980s. OK, classic tennis could be boring -- but why do we get so hung about Boring? Boredom is a close neighbor of Leisure, after all; I sometimes wonder if the Fear of Being Bored might not be the symptomatic disease of our age. And, y'know, I'll take it over Numbing -- which is... posted by Michael at June 24, 2004 | perma-link | (10) comments

Dept. of Too Damn Much Tech
Dear Vanessa -- My candidate for "Least-Needed Rental Car Feature": Has anyone ever actually used one of these things to get to where they wanted to go? All I've ever managed to do with one is bruise my knee. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at June 24, 2004 | perma-link | (6) comments

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Sign of the Times
Dear Vanessa -- Pacific Title is the name of a company that's been creating titling for Hollywood movies since 1919. They create "opticals" too -- fades, dissolves, etc. "Not long ago, Pac Title's artists still created film titles using paper, pencil and paint; today, it's bits, bytes and computers screens," writes Debra Kaufman. "In 1997, we did 80 percent optical effects and 20 percent digital effects," reports Pacific Title CEO Phil Feiner. "Now it's 98 percent digital and 2 percent optical." I lifted these facts and this quote from the latest issue of American Cinematographer -- hey, one my favorite magazines. Their website is here. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at June 23, 2004 | perma-link | (2) comments

"Neuromancer" on Audiobook
Dear Vanessa -- Currently on the commute-to-work tape-player: an abridged audio version of William Gibson's Neuromancer. (It's buyable here.) I'd tried several of Gibson's books before but was unable to get through them, hence my resort to the audiobook. I'm eager to hear how you've reacted to Gibson's fiction if you've given it a try. It occurs to me -- audio propagandist that I am -- that I've hit on another good way to use books-on-audio. I've blogged before about how audiobooks enabled me to get through books I hated but felt I needed to have read. ("Feeling obliged to finish books I hate": now that's a phase I'm long done with!) It turns out that audio's also a good way to get through books I'm curious about but don't have the reading-willpower to finish. Because it does take a fair amount of willpower to get through a whole print book, doesn't it? Either that, or the book's got to be delivering a darned rewarding time. (Also, middle-aged eyes give out suprisingly fast. No more read-a-thons for bi-focal'd me.) So what becomes of you-and-a-book if you're merely idly curious about it? What if you haven't got the necessary horsepower to get through the print version, yet you wouldn't mind knowing what the book's like? Solution: let the Walkman take care of the grunt work for you. Click the "play" button, and all you have to do is stay awake. As if turns out, I'm semi-enjoying my abridged audio Gibson. It's brilliant; what a great job he did of capturing the fantasy life that many geeks seem to share. I'm finding it hard to tell how satirical Gibson is being, though. This is admittedly a pitfall of books on audio, especially abridged ones; it can be hard to be certain of a book's exact tone. It's pretty funny, after all, that so many geeks share such an overblown fantasy life. But is Gibson giggling about this, or is he offering up his perceptions and observations with a straight face? I can't tell. Can anyone illuminate here? It's also a culturally-significant book, of course. Gibson helped set a style (cyberpunk is its usual name, though videogame-noir is how I think of it) that's proved important and surprisingly long-lasting. So, culturally-curious guy that I am, I'm enjoying learning a little something first-hand about what this "Neuromancer" thing has been all about. My problem with the novel -- and this isn't a criticism, just a personal reaction -- is that I simply don't share this particular fantasy life. (I'm tempted to use the term "fantasy space" instead of "fantasy life." It sounds so much more ... I dunno, conceptual or technical or something, doesn't it?) How about you? What direction do your own fantasies tend to race off in? To be honest, I can't imagine getting much pleasure out of the techno-noir fantasy world. I had my share of little-boy, action-comedy fantasy pleasures when I was a child, but I put them aside as... posted by Michael at June 23, 2004 | perma-link | (21) comments

Monday, June 21, 2004

Trib's 50 best mags
Dear Michael: Last week, the Chicago Tribune, my adopted hometown's major daily, published its 50 Best Magazines list, which I think they do every year (but possibly only last year and this year, so far). I think it's a fun survey of the magazines out there and I do enjoy viewing the results of what must have been a deeply psycho-neurotic editorial process to come up with such a list: Doesn't it make us look quirky to have noticed Wooden Boat magazine? We read American Demographics because we're geeky journalists, we can't help ourselves! This one just won a National Magazine award, so that's a safe choice. We're cool because we can admit we read Us Weekly. We like Time better than Newsweek, "Is it better...? Is Coke better than Pepsi?" Well, duuuuh! Here's the list, cut and pasted because I couldn't figure out how to link to it: 1. Wired. After a wobbly post-boom period, Wired has transformed itself from an insider computer monthly into a slick, smart and playful cultural journal. The reporting is excellent ("The Future of Food," "The New Diamond Age," for instance) and the graphics deliver some of the best short-form journalism in the business. The back-page feature Found" and the upfront section "Start" are consistently strong, and even the "Letters" page crackles with energy. The writing staff is lively yet authoritative, and columnists Lawrence Lessig and Bruce Sterling are smart without being snooty. Even the ads are cool. Finally: We dare you to show us a better magazine Web site ( 2. Real Simple. This gem seduces and delivers the goods with teasers such as "A cleaner house in less time: 23 breakthrough tools and tips," "Swimsuits to flatter every figure" and "With a simple box of yellow cake mix, you can make any of these seven sweet desserts." The magazine is a breeze to read, filled with charts, photos, where-to-buy, how-to-order, how-to-make data right there, front and center. 3. The Economist. The no-nonsense font and rigid layout style make it look like a class handout on the first day of an MBA program, but don't be dismayed. This magazine features the most succinct, globe-encompassing wrap-ups of politics and economics on the market. Even often overlooked cultural features such as book reviews glisten with insight. 4. Cook's Illustrated. Our biggest complaint with this always readable mag? That they haven't come out with a gardening version that gives the topic the same thorough, skeptical treatment. We'll say it again: Not taking ads and writing about the actual cooking process so the average home cook can understand gives this magazine an authority that few others in any field enjoy. 5. Esquire. We suspect we're not as good-looking as we think we are. We know we're not clever enough. Esquire is the antidote to our human frailty. Snazzy, gorgeous, well-dressed, smart and that's just the magazine itself. The writing within is consistently great and sometimes beautiful, offering heaping portions of journalism, fiction, essays and helpful advice columns.... posted by Vanessa at June 21, 2004 | perma-link | (23) comments

Cable Lineups
Dear Vanessa -- How are you set for cable out in Chicago? Ever since I upgraded to digital cable (obligatory if you want a digital video recorder), I've mainly been exploring the program lineups at Ovation and History International. By the way, do we refer to these as "networks"? "Channels"? "Stations"? Both outfits seem to own no more than a hundred hours of programming, which they shuffle and repeat month after month. Ovation calls itself "the arts network," and its offerings are generally much peppier than PBS's. I got a lot of pleasure out of two different Howard Goodall music-history series. One, called Big Bangs, focused on turning points in Western music history -- the invention of the piano, of notation, of equal temperament, etc. The other was Choir Works, a series about choirs around the world. For these shows, Goodall visits a boys' choir in Oxford, a gospel choir in Nashville, an a capella choir competition in South Africa, etc. Goodall himself is a flip and deliberately-outrageous presenter in a style that may amuse the Brits but that seems bizarre to us. (He came up as part of the Richard Curtis/Rowan Atkinson generation, and seems to have crafted a successful career for himself as musician, composer and media personality.) But he's clear and intelligent; his explanation of equal temperament -- not an easy thing to make sense of -- was the best I've ever run across. He's enthusiastic and respectful too, and seems to know when to get out of the way of the music. I see that Ovation will be broadcasting Goodall's "Choir Works" series the week beginning July 11th. Part one will show on Monday the 12th at 10:30 a.m. EST; part two on Tuesday at the same time; part three on Wednesday; and part four on Thursday. Ovation is showing part one of "Big Bangs" on Thursday, July 8th at 11 p.m., and on Friday, July 9th at 3 a.m. I can recommend another Ovation standard in perpetual heavy rotation too -- a quietly brilliant hour-long documentary called Bare. It's about minimalism as a living style. Who's it meant for? What's it like to live with -- Zen bliss or utter madness? The show, directed by a British woman whose name I wrote down then lost, doesn't try to be comprehensive. Instead, the filmmakers pay low-key visits to a half a dozen owners and designers, and let what they find speak for itself. A gay couple adores their gleaming pristine cube of a house -- but keeps it tidily austere only by cramming nearly all their possessions into one basement room. A straight couple enjoys the feeling of chic and style, but decides to move into a traditional space once they have kids. Etc, etc -- fascinating stuff that just happens to provide gratifying confirmation of your worst suspicions about style nazis. I see that Ovation will be showing "Bare" several times this week: at 8 p.m. EST Tuesday, and then later that evening at midnight;... posted by Michael at June 21, 2004 | perma-link | (7) comments

Sunday, June 20, 2004

DVD Not for Dad
Dear Vanessa -- I was flipping through a bin of DVDs, all of them sporting stickers reading "DVDs for Dad!" -- evidently a special Father's Day promotion -- when I ran across the worst idea for a Father's Day present I've seen this year: a bargain-priced copy of "Blame It on Rio." If you don't know what makes this movie such a bad one to give to Dad, Amazon's page on it here will enlighten. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at June 20, 2004 | perma-link | (4) comments