there are 38 posts from July 2009

July 31, 2009


Electric Boogie Woogie by Rafaël Rozendaal. (via)

July 31, 2009

it never stops.

Swiped from Maria Kalman’s new illustrated story at the NYTimes. (via)

Maria Kalman

July 30, 2009

search and replace

Choire at The Awl dissects Bill Wasik’s op-ed in the Times comparing the Internet to “creative New York.”

Micro-celebrity and fickle taste and short attention span all have to do with the way people are, not the way the Internet is. And maybe with the way capitalism is. (On the Internet, capital is attention—until actual capital is the actual capital, a tricky transition where lots of people get confused.)

When I read Wasik’s piece I just replaced “Tumblr” for every mention of “online” or “the Internet” and it made a hell of a lot more sense.

July 30, 2009

scott berkun on how to watch transformers 2

Don’t think of it as a movie – it’s a mega abstract conceptual art project at a bargain. I paid $7.50 to see a film that cost $150 million to make. There are few bargains this good. By not thinking of it as a movie the pressure to have it make sense went away, and the cheezy jokes, cardboard cutout characters,  or racial stereotypes didn’t bother me. Instead my mind was free to wonder how many people were in charge of Megan Fox’s lip gloss. Or the conversations the CGI folks must have had about how a functioning robot that walks and gets hit by grenades and tank shells could convert in seconds into a functioning jet.

From, of course.

This sounds like a useful strategy beyond Michael Bay films; it could be employed in any number of situations. It’s not a long, boring, interminable meeting / email thread / PowePoint / presentation / legal document…it’s an abstract conceptual art project!

July 30, 2009

no line drawing, unfortunately

We spoke to Brown about his hirsute pursuit.

The Speakeasy blog at gets clever in their interview with Ben Brown.

July 29, 2009

it's a long way from sunnyvale to redmond

The money quote from Erick Schonfeld’s piece on Yahoo and Microsoft.

This is a ten-year arrangement between two lumbering giants that is filled with execution risk. It is a very complicated deal. Yahoo’s sales team has enough trouble communicating with its own engineers. Now they have to learn how to talk to Microsoft’s.

July 29, 2009

i was hoping to see the pink shirt

Sam Altman, CEO of Loopt, was on Charlie Rose last night, talking about the company, mobile stuff, location stuff, etc. Yay for Sam (!), though I was disappointed that he wasn’t wearing the trademark pink polo he wore last year at WWDC…

Sam Loopt

July 29, 2009

gonna get deputized

Let me ask you, what kind of person do you think Scarlett Johansson is?

Rex outlines outlines the thinking behind the new site Gossip Cop which promises to police celebrity news. I’m merely a huge fan of their logo; I’m hoping they sell Gossip Cop badges in sticker packs by the hundreds.

July 29, 2009

choice. value. parody.

The Microsoft / Yahoo microsite announcing the search deal couldn’t be more ripe for parody.

July 28, 2009

speaking of comic-con...

The New York Times covers the making of the Lost panel:

Planning for the “Lost” presentation at Comic-Con, which concluded on Sunday, started in early April with meetings about what kind of Easter eggs, or hidden clues, to include about the program’s sixth and final season. Then came the writing and taping of videos, some of them starring cast members, that would deliver those hints. Producers worked to obtain song rights. Travel logistics needed to be arranged for five actors and their entourages. “We really want the fans to leave feeling satisfied,” Damon Lindelof, a “Lost” executive producer, said last Tuesday during a final planning session

July 28, 2009

new delillo in february 2010

Via Curt Gardner’s always fantastic reference, Don DeLillo’s America, comes news of Point Omega, a new novel due in February.

A young filmmaker visits the desert home of a secret war advisor in the hopes of making a documentary. The situation is complicated by the arrival of the older man’s daughter, and the narrative takes a dark turn.

Documentaries, deserts, secret war advisors? Yep, that’s DeLillo alright.

For the hardcores, here’s the Amazon pre-order page. And as a reminder, Wikipedia describes the Omega point as…

A term invented by the French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin to describe a maximum level of complexity and consciousness towards which the universe appears to be evolving.

July 28, 2009

cronenberg & cosmopolis

David Cronenberg is teaming up with Portuguese producer Paulo Branco to bring Don DeLillo’s novel “Cosmopolis” to the screen.


(It’s obv. a DeLillo day around these parts.)

July 28, 2009

comic-con and star wars


Swiped from pawnzz on

I’m still recovering from and processing last week’s adventure in San Diego for Comic-Con. One of the things that blew me away was the massive amount of Star Wars action; Brian Lowry at Variety has a piece up today on that very topic.

Lucasfilm’s skill at stoking the embers even when there isn’t much new to report – as well as managing various spinoffs, licensing deals and brand extensions to ensure that they don’t collide with each other – represents a remarkable achievement, guided by a level of precision that other intellectual property owners would be well-advised to study.

Worth reading in full.

July 28, 2009

and i had to look up pleonastic

Language Log (subscribed!) dissects Van Morrison's encouragement to a particular fan to "Fucking shut the fuck up." I won't ruin it for you, other than to note that the sentence diagrams made my head explode. (via)

July 27, 2009

john did the cooking, merce did the dishes

A 1981 interview with Merce Cunningham and John Cage.

And a snippet from the NYTimes story about Cunningham’s death yesterday at the age of 90.

For many years only a few people realized that the Cage-Cunningham relationship was sexual. Although their offstage partnership became an open secret, the subject was not open until 1989, when Cage, answering an unexpected public question about it, surprised everyone by replying, ‘I do the cooking, and Merce does the dishes.’

July 27, 2009

i think i've found a new tagline

The man who has subtly beseeched us to commiserate with the lonely and misunderstood people toiling in offices and talking on phone sex lines has momentarily transformed into a cavalier ruffian who scoffs at regular people for having the temerity to express their enthusiasm on Amazon and who likewise suggests that all blogs are “earnest and dispensable.”

Did the New Yorker Make Nicholson Baker Elitist? at

It’s going to take a herculean effort not to have Edward Champion’s post influence how I read Nicholson Baker’s New Yorker piece re. the Kindle. On the brighter side, I think “earnest and dispensable” could end up being my site’s new tagline.

July 22, 2009

justin hall had it right

put time into whatever it is you like to do, and put that up on the web.

write about yourself, your hobbies, your passions, your politics, your community

whatever turns you on

because if you can be excited about them offline, and somehow transmit that enthusiasm online, or that depth of emotion over the wires
people will find it and stay for it and check back in on it,
especially if they think it’s going to change

Justin Hall, what you need to make a responded site

I’ve been reading Scott Rosenberg’s book Say Everything and going on a bit of a nostalgia trip. And while everything is still mostly Carl’s fault, the great stuff that’s happening in social media, blogs, etc., traces back to what Justin Hall said back in 1996.

July 22, 2009

just do these four simple things

Talking Points Memo’s welcome message to the TPM Cafe is the most succinct guide to successful participation in social media I’ve ever read. Just do these four simple things: blog, discuss, recommend, follow & be followed.

July 20, 2009

transcript visualizations from the apollo 11 mission

Brendan Dawes cooks up two beautiful posters that are visualizations of transcript data from the mission. Both are available for purchase.

July 20, 2009

jay murray siskind reviewed oblivion

This is unreal. Sample Reality reports on a review of David Foster Wallace’s Oblivion by none other than Jay Murray Siskind, a character from Don DeLillo’s White Noise and Amazons.

Jay Murray Siskind is Don DeLillo’s only recurring character, having first appeared in DeLillo’s pseudonymous Amazons and later as a kind of Mephistopheles character in White Noise. Now, Siskind has broken out of the realm of fiction and entered the real world.

I am referring to “An Undeniably Controversial and Perhaps Even Repulsive Talent,” a review of David Foster Wallace’s work that appeared in the prestigious journal Modernism/Modernity, published by The Johns Hopkins University Press. Found in the Volume 11, Number 4 issue (2004) of Modernism/Modernity, the review focuses on Wallace’s last collection of short stories, Oblivion, and is attributed to a certain Jay Murray Siskind, Department of Popular Culture, Blacksmith College.

This made my head explode. (Via Fimoculous.)

July 20, 2009

i love haiku as much as the next guy

But there’s a nearly infinite universe of things you might wish to express that simply can’t fit into 140 characters. It’s not that the Twitter form forces triviality upon us; it’s possible to be creative and expressive within Twitter’s narrow constraints. But the form is by definition limited. Haiku is a wonderful poetic form, but most of us wouldn’t choose to adopt it for all of our verse.

Scott Rosenberg, in How Twitter makes blogs smarter at Wordyard.

July 16, 2009

speaking of refurbished footage from space, han really did shoot first.

The original videos beamed to earth were stored on giant reels of tapes that each contained 15 minutes of video, along with 13 other channels of live data from the moon. In the 1970s and 1980s, NASA had a shortage of the tapes and erased about 200,000 of those tapes and reused them. That’s apparently what happened to the famous moon landing footage.

Nafzger praised the restored work for its crispness. The restoration company, Lowry Digital of Burbank, Calif., also refurbished “Star Wars” and James Bond films, along with “Casablanca.”

From NASA erased Apollo 11 video to reuse the tape, but Hollywood experts save the day at

July 16, 2009

i absolutely love the sincerity of the ask metafilter community

We still call CDs record albums, even though very little has been released in album form since the days of 78s almost sixty years ago. I’d say it’ll be around for a while, since there’s no better word to replace it with yet. “Recorded” is too generic; you could mean audio only, depending on the context. I’d say even worse than that, when I take my videocamera someplace, I’m filming what’s going on. I’ve been trying to think of things which have successfully been replaced by modern versions of the word, but I’m coming up short.

An answer to the question How long will it take to remove the word “videotape” from the collective vocabulary?.

July 16, 2009

great overview of how the npr api is being used

Those member stations are really exactly that; they are members of NPR. They essentially buy NPR programming. They’re distinct organizations from us. NPR is a content producer and distributor. They buy our programming and broadcast it out to the world. They also have their own corresponding web teams that can take NPR content and also produce their own content and create their own websites. So in the Digital Media Team, we take a lot of pride and effort in providing services that help those member stations better serve their communities and their listeners and audiences, using NPR content and using their own content. We work with them to try and satisfy their missions. And to the extent that they need NPR services or content, we work hard to try and provide those.

NPR’s Daniel Jacobon, quoted in How NPR is Embracing Open Source and Open APIs at

Super elegant use case for the API: capabilities from the mother ship to help member stations build unique experiences for local listeners. And then there’s all the other applications that individual developers are building, like the NPR Addict app from Bradley Flubacher, a developer and volunteer firefighter. Two thumbs up.

July 16, 2009

and hey, kids! now we're going to learn about e.coli!

Food, Inc., by director Robert Kenner, made me feel stupid. It reminded me of every reason why I loved  Our Daily Bread, of 2006. Our Daily Bread exercised subtly and restraint, with very still, bleak vignettes of the monstrous places that produce the food we eat around the world. It does this without commentary, just offering a view of what is. Food, Inc. practices neither restraint nor subtlety. Each segment of the film is broken into segments that are announced with a title. As if we couldn’t catch on that hey, now we’re going to learn about corn.


July 14, 2009

the difference between strategy and tactics

“It sounds great in the movies, but when you try to do it, it’s not that easy,” a former intelligence official said. “Where do you base them? What do they look like? Are they going to be sitting around at headquarters on 24-hour alert waiting to be called?”

An intelligence official on the secret plan to assassinate Al Qaeda leaders, in the New York Times.

July 13, 2009

the first couple to have their relationship skewered by the new york review of ideas

Inside the theater, Taylor a slim, tall 29-year-old with large brown eyes accentuated by straight bangs, is fielding questions from the audience. A man in his 20s raises his hand. “Don’t you think that only people with a background in philosophy will get this movie?” he asks skeptically. “Do you really think it has something to offer people who aren’t already schooled in this stuff?”

Taylor tells me later she has heard this reaction before. Taylor doesn’t look the least bit fazed. “You know, the only people who ever ask that are academics who have PhDs and like to think that only they hold the key for understanding the material on screen.” After the Q&A, the man’s girlfriend approaches Taylor quietly. “You’re right about him,” she says, “he just got his PhD.”

From The New York Review of Ideas’ piece on Astra Taylor’s new documentary Examined Life. Emphasis mine.

July 13, 2009

the arch

I grew up just outside St. Louis, and even though I haven’t been back in years I love what they’ve done with the Busch Stadium grass for the All Star game.

Busch Stadium and the St. Louis Arch

The combo of Busch Stadium and the Arch reminds me of the great series of photographs that Joel Meyerowitz made of St. Louis. Here’s one of them that lived in our house (as a poster reproduction) for years…

!Arch View Cafeteria by Joel Meyerowitz

Here’s Meyerowitz on the Arch

Every city has a celebrated monument that sets it apart; a tower or cathedral, a square or park. St. Louis has the Arch. I found it deeply moving, profound. There were days when, standing beneath the Arch, I felt I knew the power of the pyramids. It was restorative, contemplative. It was more than a technological marvel or a symbol. It was pure form, the beauty of mathematics, a drawing on the heavens, perfect pitch. It was constant and it was never the same. Light and color made their way over its surface. I have seen the Arch change from a white you could not look at to black in broad daylight. I have seen it disappear, reflect like a mirror, and turn pink, sometimes all in one day. I remember mountains doing that. Standing beside it, one sees human scale diminish as when a figure stands at the ocean’s edge. It contains the space that cathedrals aspire to. You feel it most when you submit to it.

And the Arch View Cafeteria? I think it was part of the Title Guaranty building, which was razed in 1983. Here’s a streetview of the location today.

July 13, 2009

friday the only day that counts?

In the context of Bruno, Transformers, Up and The Hangover, The Wrap has a piece up about how the virulent nature of social media is changing movie marketing. Here’s the relevant gem:

The net effect, some studio executives say, is that a marketing spend that used to take a movie through the weekend now only really takes a studio through Friday evening, east coast time.

I don’t entirely buy the argument that a marketing spend is only good through Friday; I imagine that a spend on launch hype for a flick will carry through to DVD / rental / online income in addition to ticket spend in theaters. But social media has to be having a massive impact on the half life of each marketing dollar.

And one small note – I don’t recall see a single ad for Up the weekend of its release…

July 13, 2009

b'eau pal from the yes men

Five years ago The Yes Men temporarily knocked a couple of billion dollars off of Dow Chemical’s market cap by hoaxing the BBC into this interview, where they claimed that Dow would take responsibility for the 1984 Bhopal disaster. (Dow acquired Union Carbide in 2001.)

Today, the Yes Men attempted a special delivery of a new brand of bottled water -- “B’eau Pal” to Dow Chemical’s London office.

Twenty Bhopal activists, including Sathyu Sarangi of the Sambhavna Clinic in Bhopal, showed up at Dow headquarters near London to find that the entire building had been vacated. … The attractive yet toxic product, developed by the Bhopal Medical Appeal and the Yes Men with pro-bono help from top London creative design firm Kennedy Monk, highlights Dow’s continued refusal to take responsibility for the disaster.

And because nothing shall go under-documented, here’s the making-of video re. the design of the bottle…

July 13, 2009

a twist in the fairey case

The AmLaw Daily reports that freelance photographer Mannie Garcia – the man behind the photo that became the Shepard Fairey / Barack Obama “HOPE” poster – has filed a memorandum of law to intervene in the suit filed by the Associated Press. Garcia’s claiming that he owns the copyright on those images, since he wasn’t actually an employee of the AP at the time.

You can read the entire memo in support of Mr. Garcia’s motion to intervene, but here’s a relevant snippet / screenshot:

Garcia snippet

Oh, and Garcia is represented by none other than Boies, Schiller & Flexner. This is getting very, very interesting.

July 11, 2009

lefsetz on perez & warner

It’s an American story.  Guy stumbles on to business idea, perfects it and rides the glory all the way to..?

I’m not sure.


July 10, 2009

every other year we say we'll go next time

Venice Biennale

The Big Picture has a great set of photos of The Venice Biennale.

July 09, 2009

a tropicana followup

A quick followup on February’s post re. the Tropicana repackaging debacle. A few weeks ago my eight year old daughter and I were in the local grocery store and when she passed the o.j. section there were some cartons of Tropicana with the new packaging – the ones that I thought had been recalled…the ones with the screwtop that looks and feels like an orange.

“Oh my God, Dad!” she shouted. “Check this out! The top! Of this orange juice! It’s like an orange! That’s so cool!”

I just wanted to squeeze her tight.

July 08, 2009

federer moments

Peter Bodo of on the current gold-piped, perfectly coiffed branding of Roger Federer

This matters because Federer is not only a great tennis player, he’s the great tennis player, holding the game aloft on his shoulders like a modern-day Atlas. And the extent to which he’s checked off on creating a specific image undermines the degree to which he transcends image, for the sharper the image, the more likely it is put off as well as attract. We’re still different people with different tastes, values and aspirations, and the further you drift from pure performance and personal conduct (as well as the norm in your peer group), the less representative you become.

But it is about the tennis, of course. And because I’m still reading Infinite Jest (on the iPhone’s Kindle reader, no less, screen by screen by screen), here’s a recognizable sliver of DFW on RF:

Almost anyone who loves tennis and follows the men’s tour on television has, over the last few years, had what might be termed Federer Moments. These are times, as you watch the young Swiss play, when the jaw drops and eyes protrude and sounds are made that bring spouses in from other rooms to see if you’re O.K.

There were more than a few Federer Moments in the Sunday final; all of them contributed to those destroyed tears in Roddick’s eyes at the end of the match…that look on his face that said as plain as day “I am never going to make it through him, am I.”

July 08, 2009


Dan Lyons as Fake Steve is a great counter to all the blog post republishing news that Google is developing the operating system to end all operating systems.

Point two: Who in their right mind thinks the world needs yet another desktop operating system? The hacks who are foaming at the mouth about this big threat to Microsoft are the very same halfwits who a couple years back were declaring that the desktop OS was dead, Windows Vista would be the last one ever made, Apple shouldn’t bother making any more versions of OS X, blah blah. Now they’re saying nope, the world does need more operating systems, especially ones like this that are designed to work extra super specially well on computers that are hooked up to the Internet. Whatever that means.

Also worth reading for points one, three, four, five, six, seven and eight. But especially five.

July 02, 2009

what if the williams sisters had attended enfield?

From Peter Bodo’s Tennis World blog.

One of the themes emerging from this edition of the Championships is that the Williamses may have gotten better with age, even as they’ve had to struggle with (or simply endure) waning motivation as the siren song of “normal” life has lured them toward the shoals of inconsistency. The girls may not be as reliably destructive as they once were, but when they paint on their game faces, they may be playing the best tennis either of them has ever conjured up. This may not be true at all tournaments, either, but if you’re going to pick one event at which to go medieval on your rivals, this one would be it.

I’m in the middle of re-reading Infinite Jest, and so I can’t help but be obsessed with tennis lately, and look at everything through the lens of Enfield Tennis Academy. The Williams sisters :: The Incandenza brothers as Richard Williams :: Himself? (Yeah, on second thought, maybe not.)

July 02, 2009

let's play a game of 'spot the irony'

From Techcrunch’s story about the new Facebook iPhone app. Can you spot the irony?

Hewitt just started working on the feature yesterday, thinking it would be something that would come in the next release, after this one. But he was surprised at how quickly he was able to get it up and running and so he tweeted out today, “3GS video uploading for the Facebook iPhone app is a go — didn’t plan to include it in the 3.0 update, but it was really easy to code.”