8.29.2009

8.25.2009

Doo-Wop Hall of Famer Dies at 75

Johnny Carter, the falsetto in the Flamingos and the Dells, passed away on Friday. The Times has the full obit, but here are some of the hits he'll be remembered for:



8.12.2009

Choose Your Own Apocalypse

Slate asked readers, "How would you like the world to end?" The readers' top five demises included loose nukes, peak oil, antibiotic resistance, China unloads U.S. Treasury, and Israel-Arab war.

via VSL

8.10.2009

Love Letters

Have something to say to your ex, but never had the opportunity? Old Loves is a collection of anonymous letters addressed to those we've lost.

8.09.2009

Preservationists Worried About Nathan's On Coney Island

Coney Island lovers are worry that Mayor Bloomberg's rezoning plan will leave the hot dog icon vulnerable to developers.

8.08.2009

With Nary A Glance

The skill of careful observation has been lost at museums, Michael Kimmelman notes while observing people observe art at the Louve.

8.07.2009

Billy Lee Riley, Rockabilly Original, Dies

Sun Records Artist Billy Lee Riley has passed away at 75. The New York Times has the obit. He may perhaps be best recognized for backing up bigger stars -- his band played with Jerry Lee Lewis on "Great Balls of Fire" -- but he did have some singles of his own which he continued to perform until recently. Check out this performance of "Red Hot" from 2003:

When Novelists Go Sober

In Intelligent Life, Tom Shone examines the effects of alcohol -- and sobriety -- on some of the great writers. The question is not whether those who stuck with drinking lose their ability -- a fairly inarguable point in many cases -- but whether those who were able to clamber onto sobriety could be counted as any better by literary standards:
Cheever was to die of kidney cancer within a few years—but for the effects of long-term sobriety we can turn to Raymond Carver, who, after the usual pile-up of emergency rooms, courtrooms, detox centres and drying-out clinics, got sober in 1977. For a year he wrote nothing (“I can’t convince myself it’s worth doing”), just played bingo and got fat on doughnuts, but then he remarried, and he went on to write some of his best work—he was nominated for a Pulitzer prize for his story collection, “Cathedral”, illuminating the downtrodden blue-collar lives he had written about before with unexpected moments of revelation and connection.
Read the full article here.

John Hughes RIP

As most readers have no doubt heard, acclaimed director of The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Weird Science, and Sixteen Candles (to name just a few), John Hughes, has died.

Via Pitchfork, Alison Byrne Fields has an incredible account of becoming pen pals with the reclusive Hughes. Given the lack of interviews he did, it is probably the most personal thing you could read about him today. Read it here.

The Man Who Stopped Squeaks, Dead at 84

John Barry, the creator of WD-40, a household solution for squeak prevention, has died.

8.06.2009

Supermodel, Naomi Sims, Dies at 61 of Cancer

Naomi Sims was sometimes referred to as the first black supermodel. Her appearance on the cover of Ladies' Home Journal in 1986 was an accomplishment of the Black is Beautiful movement and she is credited for breaking racial boundaries.

The iPhone Wins all Bar Arguments

Again from Inverted Soapbox, the sad state of bar arguments in an era of instant information access:

In the past, those dark ages of the late 90s and early 00s, it was possible to sit with a fellow lass or lad on adjacent bar stools and spend hours debating at increasing levels of volume, vitriol and frustration, exactly what the original TGIF lineup was. ...

Even private debates you wouldn’t expect the internet to answer — was she at the party? did those two ever date? — are still solvable through a perusal of pictures on the Facebook, the Flickr and the rest of the public domain that has become our digital lives.
The full article is well worth it, read it here.


8.05.2009

Lose Lame August

Slate.com advocates getting rid of the month of August. There are no major holidays in August and August isn't the hottest month or biggest vacation month. August doesn't bring any good new books or movies.

The Death of Handwriting

Inverted Soapbox comments on Time Magazine's article on the ongoing degradation of handwriting, giving the reporter's perspective:

I know I gave up on handwriting long ago. If I handed you one of my reporter’s notebooks and you could decipher more than four or five words per page, you are some sort of secret codemaster....

And maybe some of my best writing (that you’ll never see so you’ll never know if I’m telling the truth) is spread scattershot in convulsions of black ink and greasy margin smudges like rotten infestations on the husk of dead tree I carry around in my moleskin.

It reminds me of Lost contributor Jeff Steinbrink, who admitted to running a test of signature verification, thanks to the prevalence of credit card machines:

My signature bears witness to the breakdown of civilization as we know it. My signature used to be a thing of beauty — of distinction, anyway — a march of erect and discernable letters, some of them half-printed, ending in a bold lateral sweep. It was the sort of signature you'd expect from a man of substance — a pirate or a cowboy or an astronaut. Now it's just a jumpy squiggle, a bad EKG readout, a worm. I have, almost all of us have, lost it.

My credit card ate my signature and in its place upchucked this senseless scrawl. There was a time when I could write my name as well as the next person and when a reader of discernment could tell that it was a signature and not an IOU or a note directing a bank teller to PUT CASH IN BAG NOW.

Why do they bother with that vague, digitized signature at all? I am only waiting for the moment when I walk up to the CVS counter and find nothing but a spot waiting for my fingerprint.

8.04.2009

Artist and Auschwitz Prisoner Dies At 86

Dina Babbit was a prisoner at the Auschwitz concentration camp. In an effort to save her life and her mother life, she bartered her services as a portrait painter.

8.03.2009

No More Cooking?

Americans spend more time watching cooking shows than actually cooking themselves. This New York Times Magazine article explores the reasoning behind this fundamental change in how American's think about food.