December 04, 2007
A Good Chanukah Ham
Courtesy of The Consumerist, whose shooter found this at a Balducci's market in Washington, D.C. and files this under the Dept. of Monumental Cluelessness, Well-Meaning Division.
(Spotted by Gail Shister)
September 11, 2006
Like a lot of people on the Web last week, I was drawn to a YouTube video of Lonelygirl15, a home-schooled teen talking about her faith. I don't remember where I found it - probably on some list of the Internet's most-popular videos.
And I wasn't sure why there was such a fuss, other than she was quite fetching as my grandma used to say. Here was a young woman speaking of religion in an appealing way. I watched. I didn't quite get it. Then I moved on.
Until yesterday, when I read that Lonelygirl15 aint' the freshly-scrubbed star of social networking that she appears to be. She's the work of Creative Artists Agency, the Beverly Hills-based talent agency. Techcrunch's on it, writing:
The controversy has been huge; was Lonelygirl15 a legitimate work of pre-commercial art or a manipulative attack on the authenticity of community media sharing?
Techcrunch links to a solid piece of backgrounding in New York magazine:
From her first video, posted June 16, she’s doled out new chapters in two-minute chunks, each with an alluring title such as “Boy Problems,” “Dad ‘Talks’ to Daniel,” and “What Did Daniel and Dad Talk About?” And lots of viewers are caught up in her micro-soap; her videos have totaled almost 2 million views, her “channel” is the fourth most popular on YouTube, and the New York Times’ Virginia Heffernan recently lobbied for her to get her own TV show.
Along the way, people have started questioning whether she even exists, and for good reason: She’s just a little too charming, her videos a little too well edited, and her story a little too neatly laid out. As such, her saga’s taken on the brimstone whiff of viral marketing. Some skeptical YouTubers are posting short films dedicated to debunking her, while others wave a smoking gun: The domain name for her fan site was registered a month before her first video went up.
Turns out Lonelygirl15 is an art project, according to this message from her Creators.
"The birth of a new art form," they call it.
Time to raise the red flag, Techcrunch says:
As my friend Alex Williams puts it, viral media sites are the new Star Search and recognition of top users, be it through financial compensation and/or status, could be a key driver in making these sites viable. And conversely, commercial activity is possible in these communities but the format it can take is still up for debate: Paris Hilton no, Tea Partay yes, but for short campaigns and Lonelygirl15 maybe - I don’t think there’s consensus, or any indication that model could be reproduced well enough to be sustainable. As a proof of concept though, it was fascinating.
April 12, 2006
Let My People Go
Tastelessly made in honor of Passover.
Which begins at sundown.
Something about the afikomen getting stuck in the colon. Gives new meaning to "Let my people go."
Still, I'm more partial to the two-minute Haggadah, from Slate. Let's eat.
March 13, 2006
Gifts From The East
If you've ever paid by check for a three-course meal you capped with a cup of coffee, you enjoyed three contributions from Islamic innovators.
With a Washington post/ABC News poll this week finding nearly half (46 percent) of Americans hold negative views of Islam - a less favorable attitude than found in the months after Sept. 11, 2001 - and some newspaper columnists fanning the flames, it's heartening to see others in the media busy building bridges:
The Independent newspaper presents 20 Islamic inventions that changed our world.
Sundays piece, and this one from the Guardian, spring from an exhibit called 1001 Inventions: Discover the Muslim Heritage of Our World at a Manchester, England museum.
Among the religion's other gifts are chess, quilts, carpets, fountain pens and vaccines.
February 02, 2006
Clash of Civilizations
Newspapers across Europe are reprinting cartoons that ridicule the prophet Muhammad in solidarity with papers in Denmark and Norway that have become the subjects of widespread protests in the Muslim world.
Germany's Die Welt published one of the offending caricatures on Wednesday's front page, proclaiming the "right to blasphemy" is a democratic freedom. Other wide-circulation papers to make the gesture include Italy's La Stampa, Le Soir in France and the Spanish El Periodico. Le Soir fired its managing director yesterday, and apologized to the Muslim community.
The French newspaper coupled the cartoons with a column by a French theologian, Sohaib Bencheikh, who wrote, "One must find the borders between freedom of expression and freedom to protect the sacred. Unfortunately, the West has lost its sense of the sacred."
Protests and boycotts have spread across the Middle East and Europe,following publication of the cartoons - which include a drawing of Muhammad with a bomb in his turban. The Islamic faith considers any depiction of the prophet to be blasphemous. Someone phoned a bomb threat into the conservative Danish daily, Jyllands-Posten. The Washington Post reports there have been calls for a religious degree to attack Danish troops serving in Iraq.
Some of the images can be found here on Uriasposten. They were first published Sept. 30. as part of 12 cartoonists' ideas of what the Prophet Muhammad might have looked like, according to a letter from the Jyllands-Posten's top editor.
Technorati says this is the most trafficked story on blogs around the world right now. Some headlines and links:
A BBC comment board brims with pages and pages of opposing views. The most popular opinions (readers get to vote) favor publication. Ed Karten of London wrote:
Satire has been a strong and effective, yet unbloody tool for centuries. Maybe if more parties in today's global conflicts adopted this form of jostling, there'be less hate and bloodshed.
January 06, 2006
Headlines from the Pat Robertson Post:
God Caused Ariel Sharon's Stroke -
Punishment for dividing Israel
50 Dead in Mecca Haj hotel collapse -
A "Divine Intervention."
Italian hostages freed -
He heard our prayers.
Villanova tops Louisville, 76-67
God punishes den of bourbon and Racing Forms.
January 05, 2006
Share A Little Faith
Above Average Jane would like to perk up the dinner party by talking about a couple of personal topics: She wants to know how faith informs your political views.
With Martin Luther King Jr's Day coming up Jan 16, Jane is asking people - in particular, bloggers - to write about about something she says she doesn't read enough about: faith on the left. I presume the middle and right are welcome, too, but this is Jane's affair, and she's setting the table this way:
It has been said many times by many people that the Democratic Party does not have the same kind of connection to its religious party faithful as the GOP does. It may be that party leaders do not understand the beliefs of constituents and voters. It may be that there is no agreement among Democrats as there is among the evangelical wing of the Republican party. It may be that there is a greater diversity of belief among Republicans than is represented in the media.
Jane's blog carries the subtitle, "The mostly political ramblings of a small-time, big-mouth community activist, somewhere in the greater Philadelphia area:"
She is hoping that bloggers will discuss how their beliefs effect their political inclinations, voting behavior, and support of candidates. She asks: What suggestions would you have for the party of your choice, to reach out to and connect with the party faithful?
To get the ball rolling, she offers two examples of what she's looking for, one philosophical from the Huffington Post, and one more personal from a Philly blogger writing from Center City.
November 07, 2005
Let's Get Metrospiritual
Pitches that arrived while we were sitting around talking about the buyout:
Prague, no. Macchu Pichu, yes.
Oprah, no. Uma, Yes.
This comes from Beliefnet, which is actually a very good site about religion and faith. They don't actually say Oprah isn't metrospirutual, but it's not too far a stretch. They define metrospirituality as "being hip and holistic while seeking inner bliss" and "a kinder, gentler post-Yuppie." Into the planet. Native cultures. Attuned to ancient physical practices.
They have a chart on their Web site. Some people and things fall obviously into one camp or the other. Hummer v Toyota hybrid (c'mon, this is easy). Golf v surfing. (But isn't golf but seeking oneness with the earth's holiness?)
Gwyneth Paltrow is one. So are Angelina Jolie and Leonardo di Caprio. Chances are your bikram yoga teacher has the major characteristics and so does the guy who makes your fruit smoothie at Jamba Juice. Donna Karan is totally in on it. The salesperson who helps you find the right Botanical Kinetics moisturizer at Aveda is probably one, along with your eco-tourism guide at Costa Rican surf camp. Richard Gere may be the proto-one and Uma Thurman was pretty much born into it. What is influencing Hollywood stars and Wal-Mart shoppers, fashionistas and Filene’s basement-dwellers alike? It’s called metrospirituality, and chances are you already know or even lead the life of a metrospiritual.
That's me. I don't have a Costa Rican surf camp. Pass the remote.
October 12, 2005
The Book of Blinq
Turning into a pumpkin again. Yom Kippur looms. Will return by Friday morning. This being the time of year for soul-searching, we have transformed an ancient tradition into a blogger's prayer.
For the sins we have committed by shameless self-promotion.
For the sins we have committed by posting too much about T.O.
For the sins we have committed by making fun of Fabian.
For the sins we have committed by using artwork without proper credit. (From Fire Ed Wade.com)
For the sins we have committed by mentioning Paris Hilton.
For the sins we have committed by ripping a Pax Romano post. (He's very good.)
For the sins we have committed by linking to Adult Video News.
For the sins we have committed by posting copyrighted material.
For the sins we have committed by not putting Philadelphia Will Do on my blogroll.
For the sins we have committed by ignoring the rest our life.
For all these, Lord of Forgiveness, forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement.
See you Friday.
October 03, 2005
So I'm the mail room, looking for press releases and crap CDs when the mail guy hands me this book: Stars of David, Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish.
What do I look like, a lox? I ask him.
I take it, and am struck by the list of 62 American Jews on the cover that writer Abigail Pogrebin has talked to about being Jewish, and I have just one reaction.
Leonard Nimoy I know already. Aaron Brown is not so much of a stretch. Or Al Franken. But Kyra?
I open the book, and find an actually interesting interview with Dustin Hoffman, who casually advises the author over breakfast that she is not so smart ordering an omelet, when she could be having a couple egg whites, scrambled loosely, with a yolk thrown in, some salsa, onion, garlic and a little olive oil.
This I can relate to. He starts talking, about how Mike Nichols cast him as Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate, making the actor's career, when everyone else was picturing a Robert Redford. He goes on about nose jobs, his first wife - a tall Irish Catholic dancer called "the bone structure," by a Jewish relative - and then tells a long story about making Marathon Man that will serve as our sermon as Blinq prepares to go into the well for a day and consider matters of faith.
The script had Hoffman's character shooting Nazi tormentor Laurence Olivier point-blank at the end. Hoffman couldn't do it. Go hire someone else, he told John Schlesinger, the director, and William Goldman, the screenwriter.
"I remember Goldman saying, 'Why can't you do this? Are you such a Jew?' I said 'No, but I won't play a Jew who cold-bloodedly kills another human being. I won't become a Nazi to kill a Nazi. I won't demean myself. ..."
This dilemma winds up in the film's dialog, Olivier's character taunting him, "You can't do it, can you? You don't have the guts."
Hoffman's character doesn't shoot. Instead, he winds up throwing these diamonds Olivier has been chasing. They roll into a grate beyond his grasp. Hoffman is calling Essen, essen to the Nazi. Eat, eat.
"I wanted to do what felt the Jew that's in me." Hoffman says. "I want him to swallow those f#$%ing diamonds for all those people he tortured and he killed - "Eat these f#$%ing diamonds because that's what it was all about to you."
Olivier dies, and Hoffman throws his gun away.
"And that's important to me: that I didn't shoot him in the end. Being a Jew is not losing your humanity and not losing your soul. That's what they were unable to do when they tried to erase the race; they tried to take the soul away. That was the plan."
Not sure why this book fell into my hands today. There are no coincidences. Something to think on as the sun sets.