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« California Update | Main | Crime Fiction Linkage »

July 12, 2007


Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Anne Thompson links to a collection of irresistable musical numbers. Kate Marie does some patriotic YouTube linking.

* Doctors prefer Camels.

* Do judges have dreams of ruling on cases like this one? Or nightmares?

* The film director Joe Dante started off working for Roger Corman, hit a commercial peak with the "Gremlins" series, and has been getting by ever since. In this interview, he offers a lot of perspective on recent American film history.

* Colin Stewart's "Arts of Innovation" blog is full of provocations and inspirations for those who enjoy the act of creating.

* Yahmdallah's Top Ten Novels list includes a bunch of books I really should catch up with.

* Time to check in once again with The Manualist.

* What's the best way to use Whole Foods?

* Tyler Cowen suspects that iPod-listening encourages "fun" music experiences more than deep ones.

* Check out the new addition to the Akron Art Museum. I hope the people of Akron are pleased.

* Are American men now making less than their dads did?

* Robert Fulford sings the praises of Arts & Letters Daily. Here's a Salon interview with ALD's gutsy and brilliant founder, Denis Dutton. It's hard to recall how narrow the public conversation about culture, ideas, and art was not so very long ago. For my money, Dutton deserves more credit than anyone else for the way the culture-conversation has opened up over the last decade.

* Has anyone ever been able to say "Unh!" and "Yow!" quite as convincingly as James Brown did?

* The best sentence of the day comes from David Chute: "Once a wimp always a wimp, and never more so than when you are over-compensating for the deep-seated suspicion that you might be one."

* How many ingredients does a fast-food manufacturer use to make a strawberry milkshake?

* Theater prof Paul Kuritz talks about what it's like to be a Christian theater artist.

* James Kunstler has fun mocking the clothing preferences of today's young males.

* Can GWBush manage to become even more disliked than Richard Nixon, the most-disliked President ever? He's coming close. (Link thanks to Randall Parker.)

* Do you ever worry about the techies who fix your computer? All those personal files on your hard drive, lying there so open and vulnerable ... It turns out you're right to worry.

* Is belief in the everywhere-and-always goodness of "diversity" -- the official religion of the U.S. -- finally beginning to crumble?

* MB Rewind: I praised the architecture of a small Mexican restaurant.



posted by Michael at July 12, 2007


"The museum of today is no longer conceived only as an institution for the storage and display of knowledge, it is an urban concept. The museum of the future is a three-dimensional sign in the city which exhibits the content of our visual world. Museums are no longer only exhibition spaces to display diverse forms of digital and analog visual information, but they also function as spaces that cater to urban experiences.

This means that art should be able to flow out of the building and the city should be able to flow inside. This zone becomes a hybrid space where various types of people can meet and unexpected events can occur. Rather than going to the museum simply to look at art, visitors are encouraged to engage in artistic discourse, attend music and arts festivals, or to simply pass the time until an appointment. Our design is therefore an urban connector as well as as well as a destination point."

Who knew? Wonder how most patrons respond the city "flowing inside"? Fiddle, fiddle, burn, burn...:)

Posted by: annette on July 12, 2007 3:40 PM

Regarding music and dance in movies, I really liked the dance Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia do on the oversized piano in "Big".

Posted by: JM on July 12, 2007 3:58 PM

Great Joe Dante interview, thanks! Obviously he's a smart, sensible guy -- I figured he was pretty clever after watching THE HOWLING and GREMLINS 2 and HOMECOMING, but you never really know how sharp a director (or any artist) may actually be based just on their work, do you? I'll be looking for more interviews with him in the future.

(Funny too about him and Sam Hamm and the HAUNTED LIGHTHOUSE -- my kids have seen it at our nearby Sea World in San Diego, but now I'll have to check it out next time I'm there.)

Posted by: Steve on July 12, 2007 5:19 PM

That Kunstler post is contemptibly amusing for several reasons, two of them being:

1) That a man should decry public coarseness on a blog called Clusterfuck Nation.

And 2) The vehemence with which his commenters long for the destruction of anyone having more fun than themselves - even if that comeuppance requires the total collapse of civilization! Several of them are looking forward to the baby boomers being left to die when Peak Oil destroys the health care system, and one gives a wide-ranging list of folk who should be "shot for treason".

Hmmm. The last few months I've found myself thinking that I'm no longer anything that could be called a conservative. It's odd that my tolerance for fuddy-duddery should decrease as I get older, but there you have it.

Posted by: Brian on July 12, 2007 8:38 PM


I must respectfully disagree with your take on Kunstler's post.

First, where do you get the idea that Kunstler's main point is to decry public coarseness? The post reads to me like an amusing crtique of an aesthetic that Kunstler finds unappealing, not necessarily because it's coarse, but because it suggests, as Kunstler puts it, the triumph of the prison, the nursery, and the pimp in current cultural constructions of "manhood." It's an aesthetic that essentially rejects the idea of manhood, or of being a grown-up, altogether. I suppose there's an implied critique of public coarseness in there, but it doesn't strike me as the main point.

Second, the tenor of the comments (which I haven't read) don't strike me as evidence of the contemptibility of the post itself.

But maybe I can't see through my own biases . . . I've been a fuddy duddy since I graduated from high school.

Posted by: Kate Marie on July 12, 2007 9:37 PM

That Kunstler post led me to think the man was a dolt, so I went to his main page to make sure. This is how he begins his most recent post:

"Am I the only one who wonders whether rock and roll extravaganzas in the service of Great Causes might be exercises in grandiosity and futility?"

Are we dealing with the most clueless man alive? These events have been objects of ridicule in mainstream culture since they began. I think there have been entire South Park episodes about them. Until he wrote that blog post, Kunstler may well have been the only person who had NOT wondered about their "grandiosity and futility."

Posted by: BP on July 12, 2007 9:55 PM

Of course, there is something distressing about the uniform of oversized t-shirt and baggy pants affected by so many twenty somethings. But whether that equates, as Kunstler sees it, to the end of civilization as we have known it, is another matter.

As for the comments section: taken with a grain of salt it's hilarious: a display of the human comedy in all its mad excess.

Posted by: ricpic on July 12, 2007 10:26 PM


Make that "the tenor of the comments . . . *doesn't* strike me . . . "

I can't let my own mistake stand. It's a mark of my fuddy-duddery. :)

Posted by: Kate Marie on July 12, 2007 10:37 PM

*rick, the rule of the blogs: the longer the comments thread, the more it resembles a display of the human comedy in all its mad excess.
All present included.

Posted by: Tatyana on July 13, 2007 8:53 AM

Apart from Piranha, I've didn't enjoy the other Dante films I've seen, especially Gremlins, which I detested. I've read other interviews with him and have heard a coupke of his laserdisc and DVD comentaries. He is not only very knowledgable about film history, he's also genuinely insightful. Too bad that doesn't translate into good films. He would make a good critic. In the interview you linked and an older one I read in an anthology of interviews with B-movie directors, I detect a note of sadness at the direction of his career and the low aspirations of the movie business. In the print interview, Dante observed that when he was growing up in the '50s, comic books, sci-fi and horror were cultural detritus and now they've become the mainstay of hugely expensive mainstream movies.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on July 13, 2007 2:29 PM

Agree with comment above praising Dante's The Howling. It helped that the very witty and tongue in cheek screenplay was written by John Sayles, and when I saw it I make a mental note to watch for future Dante and Sayles films. I've liked a lot of Sayles, even his manipulative leftie stuff. But other than a nice segment in the Twilight Zone movie, I have alas found most of Dante's work since to be overly schlocky and formulaic.

And what can you say, really, about that force of nature, that enfant terrible, that Curse of the Driving Class Jimmy Kustler? I think characterologically he is a bit of a bully and a sadist, and takes far too much pleasure from predicting civilization's demise as a kind of Pol Pottian forced march towards his aesthetic. But I have property in upstate NY (lots of open land, plenty of water) just in case he's right.

Posted by: fenster moop on July 14, 2007 11:09 AM

I don't worry about techies copying my files; I know for a fact that at the computer repair place I take my computer to, they've copied music files from my computer, so the linked story doesn't surprise me, so much as further dismay me. I guess professionalism is too much to ask for.

Posted by: Will S. on July 16, 2007 5:53 PM

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