Two Experts Talk On GChat, Canonicity Ensues

I have read Alan Sepinwall’s work since Bill Simmons’ gave Alan his imprimatur by having Alan on the B.S. Report. Because of his prodigious — and insightful — output, Alan is one of the giants of the Recap Industrial Complex. Sometime later I came to Matt Zoller Seitz, probably because I kept seeing people link to or quote him in my Twitter feed. Or maybe it was after Matt became the editor at rogerebert.com. Or maybe it was after I read one of Matt’s recaps, er, overnight reviews and was struck by his focus on form, and by his humanity.

In TV (The Book): Two Experts Pick the Greatest American Shows of All Time, Alan and Matt rank the one hundred greatest scripted American television shows of all time. It’s an audacious undertaking, but one which Alan and Matt are certainly capable and qualified of undertaking. As they write in the introduction, they have a combined forty years of experience, not counting their “misspent” youths. And if I had any doubts about whether Alan and Matt were up to the task, those doubts turned to dust in a section called “The Great Debate: How Do You Pick the Best Show of All Time?”.

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Lochte’s Privilege Blindspot

When the news broke that Ryan Lochte’s story didn’t hold up under (minimal) scrutiny, I, like everyone else, waited to hear what Lochte and the three other US swimmers (Gennar Bentz, Jack Conger, and James Feigen) were covering up. It is the way of the world to tell an outrageous lie to hide a minimal transgression. In Lochte’s case, the real story was that he and the other swimmers had been out late partying, and then kicked open and broke a bathroom door at a gas station, and urinated in public. The incident should have been resolved when Lochte and the swimmers agreed to compensate that gas station for the property damage, except Lochte told his mother that they had been robbed at gunpoint. From there it became an international incident.

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Things I Read and Recommend from 2016

Every December writers on the information superhighway (what’s up Clive) write posts with links to the best stuff they read during the year. Those posts are great because they sometimes turn you on to stuff you missed, but also because they remind about how much you enjoyed something you read.

I decided to keep track of good things I read in 2016 and post it in December and that was fine until I asked myself why not post it around the midpoint of the year and then post an update in December. That way stuff from the first half of the year wouldn’t get lost.

This list is not exhaustive of all the great stuff that’s out there. Much of it, most of it, resonates with me personally, which means if you have a similar world view to me then you’ve probably read most of this and will like some of the stuff you missed.

Originally I was going to limit myself to one link per writer but there are some writers, like Laurie Penny, who are so versatile that I discarded my arbitrary limit. Others like Helena Fitzgerald and Matt Zoller Seitz write directly to my soul. Looking through this list now I see that writers like Mo Ryan, Emily Nussbaum and everyone at Vox (especially Caroline, Dylan and Todd) are underrepresented or not represented at all.  I also notice that I have nothing from Annie Lowrey or Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine, which I regret. I’m going to stop now because the list of people I’ve overlooked could go on forever. I endeavor to do better.

I still have a lot of stuff from the first half of the year that I’d plan to read so things will be added. I welcome any suggestions.

The final thing I want to add is that there are countless more great things out there to consume but two things I especially enjoy are Helena Fitzgerald‘s TinyLetter (straight to my soul) and Jonah Keri‘s podcast. I will try to get my TinyLetter off the ground later this year. (Watch this space.)

Enjoy!

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Oathbreaker: The Limits of Our Stories

We are all heroes of our own stories. To that end, we construct the stories of other people in our lives so that they fit our themes. In the third episode of season six of Game of Thrones, “Oathbreaker”, Bran Stark and the Three-Eyed Crow witness the confrontation at the Tower of Joy between Ned Stark and his bannermen, and members of the Kingsguard. What Bran sees does not conform to the story that he “knew” from childhood, from the story he remembers being told. And it makes me wonder if, in the world of Game of Thrones, the old stories matter very much in the current situation.

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A Prayer to the New Gods

So after watching the season six premier of Game of Thrones I started working on this theory about the women that were featured and relating them to the gods in the Faith of the Seven. It felt very useful and I was pretty proud of myself when I did this mapping.

Daenerys = The Mother
Cersei = The Father
Melisandre = The Crone
Sansa = The Maiden
Arya = The Stranger
Brienne = The Warrior

This seemed so good that I spent some time trying to shoehorn another woman in The Smith role, but was unable to do it. To be honest, I know that not all these matches are perfect. Then I watched the second episode of the season and now I think I know who The Smith is.

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Everything Is Always Over

Roberto A. Ferdman had an excellent post this morning on Wonkblog about a Williamsburg bagel company serving rainbow bagels, and becoming super popular by doing so. Putting aside that a rainbow bagel is an abomination and should not be permitted to call itself a bagel, the most interesting part of the post for me is the indignant reactions of Williamsburg residents lamenting the effect that the bagel store (called The Bagel Store) has had on the neighborhood. And no, as Ferdman points out, it is not long-time Hasidic Jewish residents complaining.

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Losing My Hometown and Myself

My parents no longer live in the house that I grew up in, having sold and moved into a smaller house several years ago. The Abraham Lincoln School, my school for K through 6, no longer exists although the building still stands next door to the first building I remember living in, where my parents rented an apartment. My junior high school (grades 7-9) and my high school (10-12) now house grades 3-8, and a new high school was built near the vocational/technical center, financed by a bond issue that was repeatedly voted down while I was in high school.

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What To Watch On TV 2016

There is too much good television these days and it’s almost impossible to keep up with what is on and when it starts and if you should watch it or not.

The idea here is a list of cable and streaming series to watch, ordered chronologically by premier date. For returning series it is easy to decide what makes the list. For new series, it’s always going to be hit or miss. Shows will be added and possibly subtracted throughout the year.

The letters after the channel show if earlier seasons are available for streaming onYkiZiACkmazon Prime,Huluulu Plus or 3ohmlq2rqnur0ajbydi8etflix. HBO series are only available for steaming on HBO Go and Showtime series are available on Showtimewtime Anytime.

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I Still Don’t Know What I Am Waiting For

To me, a boy growing up in Vermont in the seventies and eighties, David Bowie was a threat. Bowie was too clever, too variable, too strange, too complicated, too challenging. I didn’t know what to make of a musician whose lane was seemingly whatever he wanted it to be. That this also applied to Bowie’s movies and fashion was overwhelming. To that boy who wanted so badly to fit in, to not be thought of as strange or different or weird, Bowie was a warning and a danger.

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Faith in a Scary World

One morning, years ago, I was coming up the stairs from the subway platform and I heard and then saw a man preaching about his god. The man was indifferent to the general indifference of the commuters and kept on preaching with enthusiasm and volume. It occurred to me that the man’s life must be very comforting. He knew what he was going to do when he got up in the morning and he was more energized by this chosen work than I have ever been about mine. I will also add that the man was clearly mentally ill, although I can no longer remember how that was.

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