Andrew's friends


- That band -

Here's the band I was hearing. I was wrong about the song but it IS similar I think.


- Thumbnails 4/24/14 -



"Why Minda Kaling -- Not Lena Dunham -- is the body icon of the moment": At The Week Elissa Strauss discusses the true TV icon of the moment, Minda Kaling. 

"A not-perfectly-skinny celebrity discussing her not-perfectly-skinny ways is always an occasion for much discussion, even celebration. We unfamous ladies with unfamous, and therefore probably not perfectly skinny, bodies can't help but rejoice when an entertainer who speaks about her relationship to food has a body that actually reflects it. What a marvelous break it is from the all-too-frequent size zeroes gushing about their love of hamburgers and spaghetti carbonara or how chocolate keeps them thin."


"The Curious Case of the Japanese Remake of Sideways": The always insightful David Ehrlich writes about a Japanese version of the Alexander Payne masterpiece at The Dissolve.

"A few years ago, one the most exciting places to buy movies in New York City was the JAS Mart on St. Mark’s. A subterranean Japanese market beneath the far end of the East Village’s most embarrassing street, the store had a mediocre DVD selection and prices that were hardly any better. But it’s a hard to compete with a place where you could buy the complete works of Hayao Miyazaki alongside a jug of Pocari Sweat and a shrink-wrapped squid."


"EW, Prestige & Superblogs: Resuscitating The Dying Art of Film Journalism": Entertainment journalism is in bad shape, but of course we already knew that. Andrew Crump at Movie Mezzanine examines the medium, its past and future.

"Three weeks ago, Entertainment Weekly did the unthinkable: the magazine fired veteran film critic Owen Gleiberman, one of its best-known bylines since 1990, simultaneously letting go of music critic Nick Catucci and staff writer Annie Barrett in the process. What makes this turn of events so important, however, isn’t so much the “who” (though Gleiberman has enough defenders to make that case) but the “why”, and frankly, the online film community – made up of bloggers, critics, journalists, and movie buffs – should have seen this coming a mile away."


"Film Legends' Next Revolutionary Project: Personhood Rights for Animals": Kerry Lauerman at The Dodo spoke to legendary documentarians Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker.

"The duo aren't new to capturing cultural earthquakes just as the shaking begins. Pennebaker’s unbelievably close-up portrait of Bob Dylan in 'Dont Look Back' and the concert film ;Monterey Pop' helped define the 1960s. He and Hegedus teamed up professionally in 1976 (marrying in 1982) and along the way created the ultimate campaign documentary -- 'The War Room,' in 1993 -- a searing portrait of the exploding Internet bubble of the early aughts (',' which won an Academy Award in 2002) and the sugar rush of the foodie movement (2009’s 'Kings of Pastry')."


"Paul Schneider on Why He Left 'Parks and Recreation' and Why He Might Leave Hollywood": At ScreenCrush, masterful interview Mike Ryan talks to the Parks & Rec cast member who left the lauded show behind.

"Schneider is best known for playing Mark Brendanawicz on the first two seasons of ‘Parks and Recreation‘ — in this interview he discusses why he left the show — and starring in a string of well-well received indie movies like ‘Bright Star’ and David Gordon Green‘s ‘George Washington’ and ‘All the Real Girls.’ Since leaving ‘Parks and Rec,’ Schneider’s roles have been sparse, but that at least seems to be by design. At least, to a point. Like a lot of actors, Schneider doesn’t want to act in what he feels is “shit.” But, unlike a lot of actors, he just won’t act in what he thinks is shit. (An an example, he thinks something like the new Scarlett Johansson film ‘Under the Skin‘ is definitely not 'shit.')"

Image of the Day

Michael Mirasol reports on the Eve before Ebertfest.

Video of the Day

Ebertfest is now upon us. More from Mirasol.


- Ebertfest Opens with Emotional Screening of Steve James' "Life Itself" -


University of Illinois President Robert Easter said at Ebertfest's opening reception that the year since Roger Ebert's death has not diminished his loss, but it is good to gather to carry on his vision of what used to be called the Overlooked Film Festival. Instead of the usual festival fare of unreleased films seeking publicity and distribution, Roger Ebert's festival is a critic's vision, outstanding, innovative films that touch and inspire and teach, and that meet his highest standards of excellence as artistic statements. Unlike festivals that separate participants in a constant competition for who saw what, this one brings us together in the majestic Virginia Theater, the place Roger watched movies as a boy and as a college student, to share each film as a group and talk about them together.

There could be no more fitting or meaningful way to open the first festival not personally curated by Roger than with the film based on his autobiography, "Life Itself." Roger loved movies deeply, personally, viscerally.  With this documentary, the movies return that love.  It is written and directed by Steve James, whose "Hoop Dreams" was one of Roger's favorite films, and produced by Martin Scorsese, whose appearance in the film to talk about the impact of the support—and criticism—he received from Roger is one of the highlights.

James introduced "Life Itself" to the audience that filled every seat in the Virginia Theater. He said he could not have made it as a film about a critic. It was a film about a life. And, as we saw, it was a life with every bit as much drama, comedy, tension, romance, insight, compassion, and, as Roger would say, civilizing influence and empathy creation as any of the films included in Roger's pantheon of Great Movies.

Chaz Ebert, Steve James, and Roger's lifelong friend, sportswriter Bill Nack, talked about the film after the screening. Nack said Roger would have loved it as a journalist because it was sad, happy, and joyful. James said that even though Roger was the biggest and most significant supporter of "Hoop Dreams," he did not know him well until they made the film together. "I always thought there was a firewall between filmmakers and critics until I read the memoir. And it served the film better that he was not a close friend. It allowed me to be freer. He wanted a candid portrait." No one knew how ill Roger was when they began filming. "The original goal was to show he was just as vibrant and active as ever." Instead, it turned out to be the story of his "sense of humor, stubbornness, generosity, and courage" in his life and in facing death as well.

Nack spoke of the enormous changes over the course of Roger's life, most significantly his decision to stop drinking, the transformation through his finding a deep romantic love and a large extended family at age 50 with Chaz, and the impact his illness had on his writing. After he could no longer speak, "his writing improved as a blind man's hearing improves." He became "more in touch with his emotions, feeling secure emotionally for the first time. He lost a lot of things but really found a depth I thought remarkable."

Chaz said that Roger insisted the film show "the man, not the icon." Some of the highlights are the clips and outtakes from the long-running Siskel and Ebert television shows and interviews with the producers who worked with them and with Siskel's widow. The intensity of the competition between the two critics is very funny. So are the outrageously awful clothes and haircuts (there are some things even the '70s does not excuse) and the amateurishness of the early episodes. But the very real respect and, ultimately, admiration, between them makes it clear that this was one of the most significant relationships of Roger's life. It was his devastation over Siskel's decision not to tell anyone about his own illness that made Roger resolve to be very open and honest about his own.

Bill Nack knew the last page of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" by heart, and whenever he and Roger were together, Roger would ask him to recite it. Nack said he thought it was Roger's favorite passage in literature. At the end of the evening, with Roger's movie at Roger's festival in Roger's theater in his hometown, Nack recited it for us.

"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."


- Ebertfest Panel Discusses "Short Term 12" and "Challenging Stigma Through the Arts" -


The morning after the Opening Night presentation of Steve James’ "Life Itself," in which Roger Ebert so eloquently defines great film as an "empathy machine," we got to see the impact of that as a panel of critics, filmmakers, and experts discussed "Challenging Stigma Through the Arts," the first of a series of panels at the 16th Annual Roger Ebert’s Overlooked Film Festival. Moderated by Dr. Julian Rappaport, the panel focused heavily on another film in this year’s program, Destin Cretton’s devastating "Short Term 12." While much of the conversation centered on just how much Cretton "got right" in his account of mental illness in a youth home community, the panelists used the opportunity to discuss not just the fictional account of the screenplay but how society and our mental health industry deal with troubled youths. It was the perfect example of Roger’s belief that film can offer us windows into new characters and worlds that may not be our own but can teach us lessons about how other people live and thrive past adversity.

Panelists included "Short Term 12" star Brie Larson, writers Nell Minow & Steve Prokopy, documentary filmmaker Tim Watson, and mental health professionals Retisha Carter and Patricia Ege. Moderated by Dr. Rappaport, the discussion started with a deserved appreciation of "Short Term 12" from Minow and Prokopy. The former pointed out how often cinema reduces mental trauma to one of three categories—"Deranged Lunatic" (a la "Hannibal"), "Cute & Cuddly" (mental illness isn’t an issue as much as an idiosyncrasy), and the "Elvis Hug Movie" (a reference to "Change of Habit," in which Elvis hugged a mentally ill person and cured them). "Short Term 12" succeeds because it shatters these stereotypes. Prokopy later in the panel spoke about how it’s a film in which we’re constantly waiting for it to make a wrong step, to sink into stereotype or cliché as so many dramas like it have before, but it never does.

After the laudatory introduction to the film, Ms. Larson spoke captivatingly about her process and how she personalized the character of Grace with her own background, "understanding the darkness" in herself. At several times in the panel, she mentioned personal elements that she brought to the character, including learning that "weakness becomes a strength" and that we have to "find new ways to one love another". The panel was primarily about the way healing is represented in "Short Term 12" and the mental health community of 2014 but it could have also been used as a lesson in how an actress uses personal issues to achieve a professional high.

The conversation then turned to the two people most attuned to the state of mental health, Dr. Carter and Dr. Ege, who are on the front lines every day. Dr. Carter spoke of the importance of peer-to-peer relationships and recognizing that the teens who need help are not that different from those giving it. The example-driven lesson of "I’ve done it, you can do it," is as powerful as any therapy. It was a theme that the panel kept returning to as it’s so well-embodied in Cretton’s film—the idea of community and relating to those who may be just a few steps behind you on your journey out of the darkness. As Larson said, plants always fight for the light, just as people are willing to keep struggling to find happiness and strength.

It’s not always easy. Dr. Ege spoke of the difficulty in connecting with teens when their counselors are not allowed to hug them. But everything came back to community—relate to your subject, know that they’re not that different from you, heal through commonality more than stigma. And it’s the exact same thing that Roger defined as the true power of film, creating a community within the fictional world up on the screen that makes viewers better by having shared it.

The event ended with a question that couldn’t have been more perfectly encapsulating if it had been scripted. A young writer named Chike Coleman of Sound On Sight, who first thanked Dr. Carter for changing his life in a way not dissimilar to the way lives are changed in "Short Term 12," asked about "empowering moments," the little things that can seem insignificant to one person but mean the world to another. Of course his empowering moment came in the form of an email from Roger, which encouraged him to keep up his creative, professional passion. Again, as it so often does at "Ebertfest," it felt like everything came full circle—love of film, life, and human connection.


- Also -

And we also had pastries from La Farm-- fantastic bakery. I am so so so hyper. I wonder when I'm coming down off of this cloud? I may drive you crazy with the posting and the posting. SORRY DUDE.


- band -

The band that's playing today in studio B sounds like they're playing "Little Deuce Coupe" but all I can really hear are the drums and the bass line, so it could be something similar but not. And we got shot glasses today, so even though it's very repetitive and drummy we're forgiving them. Yes, we each got a shot glass with the station logo. So in the glassware department (besides coffee cups) we now have 2 Champagne flutes, 2 On-the-rocks and a shot glass. We need wine glasses or martini glasses next. Yes, I don't want much!


- earworms -

So I've been suffering from earworms again. I didn't realize it, but chemo seems to have subdued them and now they're back. First I had that blasted "Happy" song in my head for like a week, and then it was some car commercial-- I don't know the name of the song, and now it's "Baby Beluga." BABY BELUGA?! We saw a sofa where the color was listed as "Beluga"-- but it was brown. And Beluga whales are white. Anyway-- since they were gone for so long when I was actually under the worse stress of my life, I'm now thinking that it is a brain thing that probably can be subdued by medication. Freaky.


- Mind Absorbed -

Close reading session
leads to faraway expression.


- for the record -

Just for the record-- we had an ice cream bar at work today. And not ice cream BARS, but ladies scooping ice cream and then a selection of toppings. YUM. We are quite spoiled.

(4 comments | talkpost)

- Thursday 042414 -

Q1 Warm Up
Track 1
Dynamic Flexibility
Wall Squats
Accel Ladder Sprint

PT II Smash & Stretch – Hip Flexors

Q2 Skill & Technique
V Level PerformanceTest
Sprint 20 yds x 3

Q3 Strength & Power
Press 5/3/1

Q4 MetCon Challenge Girl
“Diane” 21 – 15 – 9 For Time
Deadlift 225 / 155lbs
HandStand Push Ups


- Turkish Cinema Thrives at 33rd Istanbul Film Festival -


Around 3 million people visit Istiklâl Caddesi, Istanbul’s most iconic avenue, daily. Pretty buildings, mainly from the late Ottoman era, flank the bookstores, cafés and nightclubs along this pedestrian street. However, in April each year, these spots cede the majority of public attention to the cinemas on Istiklâl. In this month, the city plays host to Turkey’s biggest and oldest international film festival. Organized by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, the festival is the world’s best platform and showcase for Turkish films, new and old.

Only the most naïve cinemagoer would assume that Nuri Bilge Ceylan is all there is to Turkish cinema. As the recently concluded 33rd Istanbul Film Festival (April 5-20) proved, the country is producing exciting, fresh and challenging films. It is an interesting time for Turkey, a fact impossible to ignore while attending the festival. After all, the event headquarters are merely two minutes away from Taksim Square and Gezi Park, the birthplace of the anti-government protests that captured the world’s attention a year ago.

However, there hasn’t been much cinema devoted to this turmoil, unlike, say, in Egypt. It’s too soon to tackle such topics, some filmmakers believe. Hüseyin Karabey, whose feature “Come to My Voice” was in the National Competition, thinks there is a need to develop some perspective and distance before artists can approach those issues. His own film, which won the People’s Choice Award, deals with the hardships faced by Kurds in Turkey. It begins with all of the men in a village taken into custody by the gendarmerie on suspicion of carrying arms. Their families are informed that they will remain arrested unless these arms are handed over. So, 65-year old Berfé sets out on a journey—her granddaughter in tow—to find a gun she can hand over for rescuing her son.

"Come to My Voice" is ostensibly a fable. Framed as a tale narrated by three blind bards, the film lovingly but truthfully sketches a portrait of a tough life, lived in extremely tough conditions. The authorities are painted in unflattering light; the gendarmes are cruel, unsympathetic brutes and the two leads must rely on elements residing on the fringes of society for completing their mission. (No wonder the film doesn’t have state funding.) "Voice" hinges on the relationship between Berfé and her granddaughter; its solid foundation is the reason the film works. Feride Gezer, who plays Berfé, imbues her character with the world-weariness and fatigue that can only come from putting up with unrelenting pain for decades. By the time the credits roll on a superb, rousing folk song (the film was also a joint winner of the festival’s Best Music Award), one is spent but satisfied. This was my favorite film from the lineup by far.

The festival also highlights Turkish cinema from the past year. In this category, outside competition, I discovered "The Impeccables." Director Ramin Matin casts his attention on another problem plaguing Turkey for long: the fight between modernity and tradition. The film opens with a svelte body swaying in the water. It belongs to Yasmine, a vivacious young woman who has come to the coastal town of Çesme for a summer retreat with her shy sister Lale. The two have been distant for long, and the vacation is not just to recharge their batteries but also to reignite their relationship. The sun’s out and the breeze is constant, but a cold air hangs over them and the tension is palpable.

I was glad to see "The Impeccables" because it is a modest story, efficiently told. It proves that no action sequence can be as gripping as a conversation between two people. The sibling relationship is filled with nuances cherry picked from real life, yet some details seem specific to just Turkish society. The psychological rivalry between the two is essayed with acuteness, and the revelation of what exactly drove them apart provides a satisfactory payoff. Ipek Türktan Kaynak, who plays Lale, carries her character through various vicissitudes effortlessly.

Unfortunately, not all films about the gentry are as well done. "Things I Cannot Tell," another entry in the National Competition, falters where the aforementioned films succeed: having strong roots. The first film by Esra Saydam and Nisan Dag, "Things" narrates the story of Damla, a successful New Yorker who misses her Turkish hometown. Six months pregnant, Damla returns to Turkey with her American husband, Kevin, and runs into a former lover, Burak, with whom she had an acrimonious split. Secrets from her past tumble out awkwardly, and all her relationships are put to the test.

"Things" is glossy and pleasant to look at, but hollow to the core. This kind of film could belong to any country or culture; it’s so empty it comes from nowhere. There is no connection to the extremely real pains of immigration, culture shock or homesickness in the film apart from superficial acknowledgments. The film’s portrayal of Kevin is laughably amateur and smacks of ethnocentrism. He isn’t as street smart as Burak; he can’t handle his drinks; he isn’t good at football and has no redeeming quality to him except being nice…ish. Apart from bursting with clichés straight out of an American indie, "Things" suffers from a rather rare problem: being overly and overtly sympathetic to its female protagonist. Damla, by any metric, is an extremely unpleasant person. She lies without abandon or reason, puts her husband through the wringer unfairly and is the cause of nearly all the strife in the plot. Yet, the drama rests on us rooting for her—a nigh impossible task. Ironically, there are very few things Damla actually cannot tell; it’s just that the film would end in five minutes if she did.

The festival experience in Istanbul is not limited to just films. There are a series of Masterclasses and panel discussions open for all. A session by Iranian auteur Asghar Farhadi, President of this year’s Jury, was especially enlightening. He chose the occasion to elaborate on his writing process, and delved into sequences from his oeuvre for anecdotes.

On the festival circuit, Istanbul is undeniably a Tier C member. Nevertheless, it has a unique place of importance because of the light it sheds on Turkish cinema every year. Through the features and documentaries in its lineup, one can gauge what is motivating the artists of this country at this particular time.

Everything else is just gravy.


- Thumbnails 4/23/14 -



"The Endless Push and Pull of Lindsay Lohan's Reality Show": Kim Morgan at Vulture examines Lohan's reality show, and her reality. 
"I love watching Lindsay Lohan sort through clothes. It's strangely soothing, like sitting on the bed watching your older sister prepare for a date. Lindsay sorts through boxes of things, her ciggie dangling, stopping once in a while to put on a jacket, moving her shoulders forward and smoothing down the front. She shifts her body to make it work. Her face has focus and when she observes a piece on her terse little frame, she is usually pleased. A pro smoker, she talks through her cigarettes, keeping those cancer sticks clenched in her teeth. “This is good.” She smirks. She almost laughs. Those laughs come liberally throughout the day, throaty laughs with hard-earned miles on them. When you hear that laugh, she isn’t your older sister anymore; she’s your hot divorced aunt, the one who lets you smoke pot in the basement."


"Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein on the indispensability of This Is Spinal Tap": At The Dissolve, Will Harris gets the two Portlandia stars to talk a Rob Reiner's classic.

"Beyond their bond as the co-creators and stars of the IFC seriesPortlandia, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein share something else in common: They both started their careers in music, Brownstein as part of Sleater-Kinney, Armisen most notably as drummer for the post-hardcore band Trenchmouth. Although Armisen left his music career behind in favor of pursuing a career in acting, which he achieved through his lengthy stint as a cast member onSaturday Night Live, he recently returned to his roots, taking on the additional responsibility of serving as bandleader for NBC’s Late Night With Seth Meyers. "


"'I'm Sorry You Don't Like The Newsroom As Much As You Should'": At, Tara Ariano fillets Aaron Sorkin with a pen knife, starting with the limbs and working inward.

"Aaron Sorkin Wants To Apologize To Everyone About 'The Newsroom' is the headline on Buzzfeed's widely blogged story. Since I do feel that he owes me an apology for The Newsroom, I was very curious to see exactly what he feels he needs to be sorry for -- and as anyone who's familiar not just with his oeuvre but his public persona might predict, it's not so much that he's sorry as sorry not sorry. This fucking guy."


"CriticWire Survey: Right the First Time": Misunderstood masterpieces and defending history's first draft is the subject of this week's CriticWire survey conducted by Sam Adams.

From our very own editor-in-chief Matt Zoller Seitz: 

"'Top Gun' was terrible when it came out and it's still terrible. Every time somebody online tries to stick up for it as some sort of American pop classic, I just roll my eyes. It's a burp from the Reagan era, no more worthy of serious consideration than "Rambo: First Blood Part II.""


"Hollywood Has a Major Problem": At Medium, Paul Cantor writes about the rise of television and the death of cinema. 

"Every Friday night, no matter what is going on in the world, a slate of new films gets released in theaters. And like clockwork, the companies who make and distribute these movies cross their fingers and hope people show up in droves.

If the actors are popular enough, if the director has some critical cache, if the marketing campaign hits its stride, maybe, just maybe, one of these movies becomes a hit. Everyone lives another day and the Hollywood machine keeps on rolling.

So why does it seem like the buzz around movies is duller than it has ever been? Forget the pomp and circumstance at award shows, the paparazzi and the rosy spin Hollywood puts on its business."

Image of the Day

Read about Lytro photography at The Verge.

Video of the Day

A police officer trips excited students. Read more at USA Today


- An Appreciation of Jay-Z's '99 Problems' on Its Tenth Anniversary -


Right from the opening seconds, where the camera eye climbs up subway stairs out into the stark, gritty streets of Brooklyn, the viewer immediately knows "99 Problems" is going to be a dizzying, intense experience.

Officially ten years old this month, the video for Jay-Z’s third single off The Black Album (aka his supposed, final album before retiring from recording to briefly run the Def Jam label) still crackles with jolting, frenetic imagery. The song itself, produced by Rick Rubin, who produced many a classic hip-hop track before becoming the behind-the-boards icon everyone from Johnny Cash to Justin Timberlake would go straight to, is just as jarring musically. For starters, it samples the opening, oft-sampled drum break from Billy Squier’s "The Big Beat," the two-chord guitar riff from a live version of Mountain’s "Long Red" and the jangly percussion from Wilson Pickett’s "Get Me Back on Time, Engine Number 9." Add to that Jay-Z picking up Ice-T’s chorus hook from his "99 Problems" ("If you’re having girl problems, I feel bad for you son/I got 99 problems and a bitch ain’t one") as he tells his own tales of inner-city blues, and you have a rap song that doubles as an aural assault.

The video is an assault on the senses (but in a good way), as famed video director Mark Romanek takes his first shot at helming a rap video. Jay, who originally wanted Quentin Tarantino to direct until Rubin advised him to give Romanek a try, wanted to make a hip-hop video that 1) showed the Brooklyn where he grew up and 2) looked like photographic art. Romanek, who’s always had a flair for creating videos that doled out artistic expression, whether it’s Nine Inch Nails’ grimy, disturbing freak show "Closer," Beck’s Truffaut-saluting "Devil’s Haircut," Johnny Cash’s sad-eyed tribute "Hurt" or Fiona Apple’s voyeuristic "Criminal," immediately thought of cribbing from the black-and-white noir photography of New York photojournalists like Weegee. But the visual, urban bluntness also brings to mind the work of late, black photographer (and Brooklyn resident) Roy DeCarava, who captured black-and-white shots of Harlem in the early 20th century.

Much like DeCarava’s photographs, Romanek gets shots of African-American life, one after the other, in "99 Problems," with Jay serving as a tour guide of sorts. First shown outside the famed Marcy Houses where he grew up, eventually making himself at home in one of the apartments as he raps about music-industry gripes, action goes on all around him as the video progresses and Jay walks around his city, telling his tales.

Romanek takes off in several different directions throughout the video, zooming right into people’s face one minute, slowing down the whole momentum of one scene the next. But thanks to exemplary editing from longtime Romanek editor Robert Duffy, the video maintains a rhythmic pulse. It’s literally never out of step. But, just as Jay raps about the problems he’s had in his life—music-industry drama, almost getting caught by police with drugs in his trunk, having to go toe-to-toe with an idiot—"Problems" visually breaks down the problems that have plagued Brooklyn and inner-city America in general. As much as Romanek shows celebrations randomly popping off (whaddup, dude in Viking hat!), he counters it with bleak shots of black men in jail (completely naked, at one point, as they’re showered down) and old men prematurely mourning their loved ones in funeral homes.

As the video shows everything from a guy aiming a gun out an apartment window, pointing it to unsuspecting passersby, to street performers and step teams literally dancing in the street, it’s obvious that Jay and Romanek are both out to show Brooklyn as a land of contradictions. Good things can happen, but really, really bad things can happen, too. (In a New York Times piece on the video, Jeffrey Rotter said, "’99 Problems’ is a celebration and a disparagement of Brooklyn iconography.") And, yet, as Romanek captures it all with cinematographer Joaquin Baca-Asay, who would later work with James Gray on We Own the Night and Two Lovers, there’s a striking, visual poetry to it.

Romanek also saw the humor. He had Rubin walk around Brooklyn as well, wearing a cowboy hat and a fur coat. (Romanek said he wanted Rubin to look like "a rabbinical pimp.") In one, odd instance, he’s seen walking down the sidewalk with, of all people, Vincent Gallo! Romanek also plays hip-hop misogyny for laughs. Whenever Jay uses "bitch" in "Problems," he’s actually referring to everything but a girl. In the first verse, that’s what he calls the music-industry BS he goes through. In the second verse, it’s a female, drug-sniffing dog. In the final verse, it’s a silly-ass dude looking for a fight. But as Jay uses "bitch" in different ways, Romanek uses it ironically, as standard-issue, bikini-clad, big-booty video girls ridiculously grace the screen the second Jay says the word.   

As those shots of butt-nekkid black dudes show, the video also isn’t afraid to be startling in a sensational, controversial manner. Shots of gunplay (or, in Jay’s case, pretending to hold a gun with his hand) were excised from the original cut when it played on MTV (The shots were replaced by a hand obscuring the camera lens.) And, of course, there’s the climactic moment where Jay himself gets shot up with bullets, as his arms flay around in slow motion—a rather violent reminder that Jay was done with rap at the time. The moment scared MTV to the point where it regularly played the video at night, with a pre-video disclaimer attached to it. It’s worth noting that, in the video for his last single, "Dirt Off Your Shoulder," he simply got in a limo at the end and rode off into the sunset. If "Dirt" was his John Ford-ish sayonara, "Problems" was him saying bye-bye, Peckinpah-style.  

"99 Problems" still remains immensely watchable, like nearly all of Romanek’s videos. One of those rare hip-hop videos that eschewed—even mocked—rap-video clichés and actually packs a cinematic punch, the video would go on to win a well-deserved, Video Music Award (back when those meant something, of course) for Best Rap Video, as well as moon-men statues in directing, editing and cinematography.

Back when it began making the MTV and BET rounds ten years ago, Armond White wrote in a New York Press essay, "’99 Problems’ shows a young black man’s New York as it has never been seen before. Jay-Z spins a tale of common aimlessness and selfish survival… His delivery is terse yet eloquent –swingsong, but the world he walks through is ferocious." No matter how much of a hipster playground Brooklyn becomes, "99 Problems" will forever be an energetic, musical snapshot of the borough at its most down-and-dirty.


- just a pet peeve -

I just saw a great example of a pet peeve of mine-- simple recipes made complicated. I saw "Green Beans with Garlic." We all love green beans AND garlic and I have created my own on the fly, so I clicked to open. It had 11 ingredients.

I particularly hate watching a cooking show where the topic is supposed to be quick recipes or simple weeknight dinners and then they keep adding stuff to it. Like we all have Food Network pantries at home. And also recipes where I do have everything, but it seems like it's just been made complicated for the sake of being complicated. Like no dish needs canned tomatoes AND tomato paste AND ketchup. PICK ONE.

My other SERIOUS recipe pet peeve is "One Pot Meals" that require boiling pasta or cooking rice-- in a separate pot-- before putting the dish together. That's not ONE pot. That's two. Don't lie to me to make me look at your recipe. LIARS.

That is all. Over and out. Have a nice day!

(7 comments | talkpost)

- Красивые большие попки девушек -

( You are about to view content that may only be appropriate for adults. )


- Support Your Local Planet -

It was Earth day today.

I didn't observe it... except that I did stay on Earth all day.

I'd like to take a trip
in a soaring rocket ship
but I look at the current price
and think: "No dice."

(2 comments | talkpost)

- Wednesday 042314 -

Q1 Warm Up 3 rds
Hurdle Mobility
Lat Step KB Swing 10
Dynamic Flexibility
Knees To Elbows
PT II Smash & Stretch Quad

Q2 Skill & Technique
V Level Skills Test
Hex Drill 3 rounds
5 – 10 – 5 x 2

Q3 Strength & Power
Squat 5/3/1

Q4 MetCon Challenge For Time
300 yd Shuttle x 2
Rest 2 min


- #215 April 23, 2014 -

Sheila writes: Those of you attending Ebertfest in Illinois this week, a note from Chaz:

We will have our annual Ebert Club Meet and Greet at the Roger Ebert Film Festival, Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 8 am - 10 am in the Illini Union, General Lounge. Also invited are the Far Flung Correspondents and writers from We look forward to seeing you there!


The Quiet Ones (2014). Directed by John Pogue. Written by Craig Rosenberg. Starring Jared Harris, Sam Claflin, Olivia Cooke. Synopsis: A university professor and a team of students conduct an experiment on a young woman, uncovering terrifyingly dark, unexpected forces in the process. In theaters April 25, 2014.

Clutter (2013). Directed by Diane Crespo. Written by Paul Marcarelli. Starring Natasha Lyonne, Kathy Najimy, Carol Kane. Synopsis: A family must de-clutter or lose their home. In theaters June 7, 2013.

Jersey Boys (2014). Directed by Clint Eastwood. Written by Marshall Brickman. Starring Christopher Walken, Freya Tingley, Francesca Eastwood. Synopsis: The story of four young men from the wrong side of the tracks in New Jersey who came together to form the iconic 1960s rock group The Four Seasons. In theaters June 20, 2014.

The Immigrant (2013). Written and directed by James Gray. Starring Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner . Synopsis: On the mean streets of Manhattan, Ewa falls prey to Bruno, a charming but wicked man who takes her in and forces her into prostitution. Opens in the US in limited release May 16, 2014.

The Green Inferno (2013). Directed by Eli Roth. Written by Eli Roth and Guillermo Amoedo. Starring Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Daryl Sabara. Synopsis: A group of student activists travel from New York City to the Amazon to save a dying tribe. Unfortunately, they crash in the jungle and are taken hostage by the very natives they protected. In theaters September 5, 2014.

Whitewash (2013). Written and directed by Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais. Starring Thomas Haden Church, Anie Pascale. Synopsis: In the harsh, wintry woods of rural Quebec, Bruce (Thomas Haden Church), a down-on-his-luck snowplow operator, accidentally kills a man during a drunken night joyride. Stricken with panic, he hides the body and takes to the deep wilderness in hopes of outrunning both the authorities and his own conscience. But as both begin to close in, Bruce falls apart mentally and morally and mysteries unravel to reveal who he was before the accident, the truth behind his victim, and the circumstances that brought them together in a single moment. In theaters May 2, 2014.

Cold in July (2014). Directed by Jim Mickle. Written by Nick Damici. Starring Michael C. Hall, Don Johnson, Vinessa Shaw . Synopsis: In 1980s East Texas, two fathers pitted against each other in revenge must band together to uncover a darker truth. In UK theaters June 27, 2014. Opens in the US in limited release May 23, 2014.

The Rover (2014). Written and directed by David Michôd. Starring Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson, Scoot McNairy. Synopsis: A loner tracks the gang who stole his car from a desolate town in the Australian outback with the forced assistance of a wounded guy left behind in the wake of the theft. In theaters June 13, 2014.

The Signal (2014). Directed by William Eubank. Written by Carlyle Eubank, William Eubank and David Frigerio. Starring Brenton Thwaites, Olivia Cooke, Robert Longstreet. Synopsis: A group of college students are lured to the middle of the desert by a hacker. In theaters June 13, 2014.

If I Stay (2014). Directed by R.J. Cutler. Written by Shauna Cross. Starring Chloë Grace Moretz, Mireille Enos, Jamie Blackley. Synopsis: Mia Hall thought the hardest decision she would ever face would be whether to pursue her musical dreams at Juilliard or follow a different path to be with the love of her life, Adam. But what should have been a carefree family drive changes everything in an instant, and now her own life hangs in the balance. Caught between life and death for one revealing day, Mia has only one decision left, which will not only decide her future but her ultimate fate. In theaters August 22, 2014.

The Captive (2014). Directed by Atom Egoyan. Written by Atom Egoyan and David Fraser. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Scott Speedman, Rosario Dawson. Synopsis: A father tries to track down his kidnapped daughter.

Ebertfest: Live-Streamed Panels

Sheila writes: The 16th annual Roger Ebert's Film Festival is about to kick off tomorrow night. The full lineup of films is listed here. To those of you who will be attending, please join us for the Meet and Greet and stop by and say Hello (information at the top of the newsletter)! Every morning of the festival various panels will be held on different topics; the panels are free and open to the public. Panel guests this year will include Panelists include Brie Larson, Patton Oswalt, Steve James, Matt Zoller Seitz, Chaz Ebert, and more. To those of you who live far away, the panels will be live-streamed! You can check out the schedule and topics here.

Interview with William Friedkin

Sheila writes: William Friedkin's 1977 film "Sorcerer" is finally getting a Blu-Ray release. There's a wonderful interview with Friedkin in "Vanity Fair" about the troubled (putting it mildly) shoot and the unfortunate fact (for Friedkin's film, anyway) that a little movie with robots and laser guns opened at the same time, changing the industry forever. Friedkin says in the interview, "I think fate plays the most significant part in all of our lives and that’s what happened. For a long period there I enjoyed nothing but success: critical and commercial. All I was interested in then and now is how close I could come to my vision of the film I wanted to make. In those days, we had no idea what kind of money films made, until Star Wars. It wasn’t in the papers every day. The quality of the film is all I cared about. Of course, you’re disappointed, but I never guided my life by any of that." Read the whole thing here.


The Amazing Adventure (1936). Directed by Alfred Zeisler. Starring Cary Grant, Mary Brian, Peter Gawthorne. Synopsis: A bored millionaire wagers his doctor that he can support himself at a working class job for year without touching his inheritance.

Watch "The Amazing Adventure."

So's Your Aunt Emma (1942). Directed by Jean Yarbrough. Starring Zasu Pitts, Roger Pryor, Warren Hymer. Synopsis: A dizzy old spinster gets involved in the boxing racket and gangland murders as is falsely accused of being notorious murderer "Ma Barker."

Watch "So's Your Aunt Emma."

The Web (1947). Directed by Michael Gordon. Starring Vincent Price, Ella Raines, Edmond O'Brien. Synopsis: An attorney acting as a body guard, apparently kills a man in defense of his employer's life, and later believes the victim was set up to be murdered.

Watch "The Web."


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Happy Birthday Eve, naomikritzer!m


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Happy Birthday, mme_hardy!


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