Friday, December 12, 2008

Elliott Carter turns 100 at Carnegie Hall

"I’d rather hear them play good contemporary music than old music,” he said of the performers devoted to his work."

An interesting article.

TONIGHT: Biggest, Brightest Moon in 15 Years

From the Daily Telegraph:
If the shortening days are getting you down, be sure to look for tonight's amazing full moon.

It will appear 14 per cent bigger than usual and a stunning 30 per cent brighter thanks to a rare, natural coincidence.

Each month the moon orbits the Earth and tonight it will skim by at its closest distance for the last 15 years.

"Where the Love Light Gleams . . ."

Somehow I don't think Bing meant the "red light district."  Anyway, per Estabrook's request Wednesday night, here's a little Christmas cheer.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

If I had a rich man II

I am not sure what excites me more: the rich-man-beautiful-young-woman phenomenon, or saying "you are not a meat" with a fake Eastern European accent. Thankfully, this post will allow me to do both - to sit with one ass on two chairs, as they say in Magnitogorsk.

First, please read this stunningly funny piece from Vanity Fair. Uncertain how to qualify it, I decided to call it hyperbole. Period. Be sure to use the proper accent: it's just not the same if you read the tale of Svetlana Egorova in your pretentiously proper waspy tone (grrr, pronouncing all the t's!). TRY! And if you fail miserably at immitating Georgy Petrov, call jumco and ask him to read the article over the phone to you - the man is a closet ruski.
She is buying so much of the Valentino and Prada for that every day is a fashion show in her dressing suite for the stylists to show her what is coming in new. She is exhausting but she is always thinking how must it be for women who are not sample sizes and have to tailor?
Moving on.

In the wilderness of the interweb tubes I came across the following list of the Top 10 Trophy Wives (and one husband): "...not all trophy wives are empty vessels or with much older men. They are, however, the better-looking half. [...] note that we excluded athletes' trophy wives because there are just way too many to choose from." I think I should call this fantasy, for however hard I might try, I am never making it onto any Trophy Wives list. Not that I don't want to, but my legs and my temper are too short, and there are waaaaay too few millionaires in my surroundings. Which is truly sad, because I really could use a bottomless pocket. And if the depth of the pocket is directly proportional to the length of legs, then I should at least be getting something... I'll just assume that all the bankers are slightly preoccupied with a financial crisis of some kind, and have to postpone proposing to me.

Moving on.

It seems to be time to face the harsh reality. Ready for the headliner? This is the one! It's coming, and don't tell me I didn't warn you!

As previously established, not all gorgeous girls (read: self) end up with spending accounts and rich husbands. Some of them get crappy paying office jobs, blog, and live out their days in boring mediocrity. Others, however, reach for the stars and actually make something of themselves. Read on and be inspired, my friends. Dare to live and be useful! Start your own party! End discrimination! Make a difference! Make a movie! Make love! Especially if it's well paid. For further instructions, below please find an interview from the summer issue of Russia! - an NYC-based English language magazine that happens to 1) make fun of Motherland, 2) be edited by my newly-devirtualized friend Michael Idov (find him on Amazon and NYMag). This interview lifts up a corner of the curtain* and gives the reader a glipse into the mysterious and misunderstood real Russian soul. And even though "[s]he’s a strong and independent woman", to quote the heroine, "without a man, she probably isn’t too happy." I beg you to read to the end.
R!: Why do you think American men have such a thing for Russian women?

LB: Oh, we’ll be here all day if you want me to explain that one, but really there is that idea that the most beautiful women in the world are in Russia. But it’s more than that. Russian women know how to feel their men. We know what our men want and what they need at each moment. We’re more attuned to our men.
I think now I can begin writing my dissertation in women hating. As soon as I find someone to sponsor me and my closet for the decade it will take me to finish my masterpiece.

Thank you for listening. Over and out.

*blame Magnitogorsk for all these translated idioms

From Somalia with Love

"The most militant group is the Shabab, a multiclan insurgent force that the United States classifies as a terrorist organization. Just a few weeks ago, the Shabab kidnapped a man it accused of being a spy and slowly sawed off his head with a dull knife, videotaping the whole episode."

The article.

Sixty years after de-colonialization, standards of living in much of Africa continue to decline. No plateau, no hard road uphill, Africa is still declining. How many generations, centuries, can this go on?

Soviet Russia Chronicles

In Soviet Russia, you don't drive the car. The car drives you.

I know nothing about cars. I don't even drive. But I do know that two British dudes driving around an abandoned American air base in ancient Soviet cars and making fun of Russians are really funny. To be fair, anyone making fun of Russians is really funny.

And maybe it will help you take your mind off your governor.

Part I

Part II

And remember, Russian communism is better than British Communism!

Say it ain't so, Blago . . .


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sunday Roundup

Image via lantram at Flickr

Politics & History
  • Sherman Miles revisits the lead up to the attack upon Pearl Harbor in The Atlantic:
    Pearl Harbor struck a country satiated with war's alarms. True, we had put through the draft and had actually reached the shooting stage with German submarines. But as a people we were still talking of war, without really accepting its imminence. Then, into our national complacency, came a surprise blow at our strongest point!
  • Martin Indyk, former US Ambassador to Israel and currently Director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, who I met while in Israel, along with Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, write A New US Strategy for the Middle East in Foreign Affairs:
    Summary: To be successful in the Middle East, the Obama administration will need to move beyond Iraq, find ways to deal constructively with Iran, and forge a final-status Israeli-Palestinian agreement.
  • Fawaz A. Gerges speculates on how a Palestinian-Israeli resolution may come about and what it may look like within and Obama administration at Dissent Magazine:
    Contrary to the doomsayers and naysayers, there now exists a real potential for a breakthrough in the one-hundred-year-old Middle East crisis. A relative consensus appears to have emerged in the Arab world and Israel alike that a comprehensive peace settlement, as opposed to bilateral agreements, will be most viable and durable. Top leaders in both camps reference the Arab peace plan advanced by Saudi Arabia in 2002 and endorsed by the Arab League which involves recognition of Israel by the Arab world in exchange for its withdrawal to pre-1967 borders.
  • New York Times Sunday Magazine has Roger Cohen, editor of The Times and International Herald Tribune examine what a 21st century Cuba may look like:
    ...on Havana’s streets the name Obama is often uttered as if it were a shibboleth. Many people want to believe he offers a way out of the Cuban web that Fidel’s infinite adroitness and intermittent ruthlessness have woven over a half-century.
Business & Money
  • In The Nation John Nichols explores the fascinating labor sit-in occurring right now within a Chicago factory:
    "We're going to stay here until we win justice," says Blanca Funes, 55, of Chicago, who was one of the UE members occupying the Republic factory over the weekend for several hours..."Their goal is to at least get the compensation that workers are owed; they also seek the resumption of operations at the plant," explains the union. "All 260 members of the local were laid off Friday in a sudden plant closing, brought on by Bank of America cutting off operating credit to the company. The bank even refused to authorize the release of money to Republic needed to pay workers their earned vacation pay, and compensation they are owed under the federal WARN Act because they were not given the legally-required notice that the plant was about to close."
  • BusinessWeek takes an in depth look at the 'un-retired' with Heather Green's cover story:
    These are The Unretired. Seniors who thought they were set for life just a year ago now face the prospect of going back to work for two, five, even 10 years. They're sprucing up their résumés, calling old work contacts, and flocking to employment sites. There are no reliable stats yet on how many retirees are looking for work, but there are clear signs the number is growing., the largest career site for people over 50, saw traffic more than double, from 250,000 visitors in July to 600,000 in November. In April, before the worst of the market downturn, a survey conducted by the seniors group AARP found that 17% of responding retirees over 50 were considering or already going back to work.
  • Boston Globe publishes "A Field Guide to Economics and Finance Blogs:"
    As the bailout plan unfolded, the bloggers offered historical context along with cutting critiques of the proposal. More important still, they offered counterproposals: direct capital injections into banks, for example, or direct purchases of mortgages. Many of their readers began badgering their senators and representatives to oppose the plan. A few weeks later, Congress rebuffed Paulson, sending shockwaves through global financial markets.
  • American Public Media, an amazing resource and the second largest producer of public radio programming has released their Whiteboard Series, a number of extraordinarily informative videos on the financial crisis such as this one:

    How credit cards become asset-backed bonds from Marketplace on Vimeo.

Arts & Humanities
  • Jenny Eliscu explores "Rocks Best Scene" for Rolling Stone:
    Laurel Canyon is one of rock's most mythic neighborhoods: This is where Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young first folded their voices into one beautiful harmony; where Zappa welcomed artists including Hendrix and Mick Jagger to parties at his infamous "Log Cabin" in 1968. Laurel Canyon was the inspiration for the Doors' "Love Street," the Mamas and the Papas' "12:30 (Young Girls Are Coming to the Canyon)," CSNY's "Our House" and an entire album by British blues legend John Mayall. It's where music-business legends David Geffen, Jac Holtzman and Elliot Roberts helped build the recording careers of the singer-songwriters who defined the very essence of the Sixties California sound.
  • The Christian Science Monitor has released their "Best Novels of 2008" list.

  • Three stories published by the Paris Review were nominated for the 2008 National Magazine Award and all of them are available for free online:

  • Art Basel began on December 3 and ends today. Financial Times' Georgina Adams takes a look (free registration may be required):
    Light relief at the fair’s opening night was offered by the Japanese art superstar Takashi Murakami, who dressed up in one of his plush flowerballs. He didn’t have to fool about for long, as the rapper Pharrell Williams (of N.E.R.D. and the Neptunes) quickly acquired the piece, “Gigantic Plush Flowerball Small”, for a cool $70,000.