Monday, April 04, 2005

What have you been reading, listening to, watching?

Lewberry recommends "The Legend of Ron Jeremy" but didn't enjoy "How to Draw a Bunny," a film I have heard mixed things about--I think it's a love it-or hate it kind of film.

Statistically Improbable Phrases
Amazon has a feature Kevin Drum pointed out a few days ago--not sure if it's new, but I had never stumbled across it. For many books that have been scanned into their database system, they provide phrases that appear in the book which are least likely to appear any other book. They are stastically improbable phrases. So, that Rick Warren book, the Purpose-Driven Life, that has been in the news, has SIPs like "real fellowship" and "defeating temptation." And Al Franken's most recent book has SIPs like "corporate speeches" and "insolent pleasure." Italo Calvino's If On a Winter's Night a Traveler offers such phrases as "butter curler" and, surprisingly improbable, "empty grave." Once on the book's page, click on the phrase to see how many times is occurs in that book, and how many times it occurs in other books. I'm sure there's a use for this feature, but until I think of it, it's still fun to play with.

Beck Review
Paste Magazine gives the new album 3 1/2 stars:
But it doesn't seem like they mean it. I still haven't heard it myself.

Aimee Mann
Interview with Salon about her upcoming concept album. It sounds like the kind of thing Elvis Costello would have thought about, and then thought better of. Still, I look forward to it. I'm a fan. Thought Magnolia (the music and the film) was fabulous.

Video Releases
There is an impressive list of films coming out on video this week, including Sideways, Spanglish (which wasn't the greatest, but I liked it better than most seemed to) and The Corporation, the style of which is a little odd, but it's interesting once you get accustomed to it.

Pulitzers Announced
Fiction: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Drama: Doubt, a parable by John Patrick Shanley
History:Washington's Crossing by David Hackett Fischer
Biography: de Kooning: An American Master by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan
Poetry: Delights & Shadows by Ted Kooser
General Non-Fiction: Ghost Wars by Steve Coll
Music: Second Concerto for Orchestra by Steven Stucky
Link I haven't read, seen, or heard a single one, but at least now I know to be on the lookout.

Unusual Art
Johnny Beinart sculpts creatures out of doll parts, and Mitch Fincher builds amazing structures with pennies.

Nerd Watch takes you to the ticket line waiting for the next Star Wars film to premier. Yes, it's 6 weeks away. Apparently the way it works: you sign in for time, and the ticket priority list will be based on the amount of time you spent in line. So you need not be there the entire 6 weeks to et into the first showing, just more of it than most anyone else. via boing boing, who points out that those in line are answering the pay phone: (323) 462-9609

Forbidden Apple
Via Atrios, the NYTimes discusses a never-released album by Fiona Apple, produced by Jon Brion (the part that got my attention), and put to death by Sony for lack of a big hit. Despite their bets efforts, the Internets have got it, and it's a downloading favorite that has critics impressed.
The beats are often waltzes and oom-pahs, not hip-hop or punk; the arrangements are full of cellos, horns, bells and vintage keyboards. Ms. Apple's piano and voice are still at the center of the music, but now orchestras and show bands sprout around her, adding layers of whimsy and artifice.
Weekend Box Office
1. Sin City
2. Beauty Shop
3. Guess Who
4. Robots
5. Miss Congeniality 2

Actually, there was a buzz in my classes today among the students who had seen Sin City over the weekend. Given that most of them are conservative Christian types, I was surprised, but it made me curious. There seemed to be some genuinely thought-provoking discussions going on about it, but maybe it's nothing. Has anyone seen it? Matt Yglesias really liked it. Metacritics scores it a 75 out of 100, which means it has received "generally favorable" reviews.

No comments: