March 6, 2014

The World That I See: Reads and Listens #6

Music Faces from e.e. heatie designs

Today is my amazing wife Erin’s birthday, and she’s a lot more creative than a guy who just writes about movies. Happy birthday Erin! She makes art and has started an Etsy Shop called e.e. heatie designs. As part of the celebration, she’s offering a cool 20% off sale today with the code BIRTHDAY at her shop that you should definitely check out right away. A striking example from her Music Faces collection is included in the above photo. Saturday is also the first birthday of our daughter Etta, so this is quite a festive weekend. I also completely missed this blog’s third anniversary, which happened on March 1st. Good times.

Here are some interesting blogs and podcasts that are definitely worth your time:

The Oscars happened last Sunday, and reactions have dominated movie and pop culture sites. I was glad to see that Roger Ebert made the In Memoriam tribute, though it reminded me of how much I miss his work. On Friday, his wife Chaz wrote on Roger Ebert.com about Ebert’s approach to the Oscars and the way he covered it like a journalist. The heartfelt piece offers a reminder that he was still a reporter and loved that side of his job.

I’ll admit that seeing Kim Novak on stage made me cringe due to her plastic surgery. Plenty of other viewers were much nastier and bombarded Twitter with snarky comments about her looks. This goes way beyond the line and disregards the difficulties for actresses as they get older in Hollywood. Farran Nehme at The Self-Styled Siren did an amazing job in providing a context for Novak’s appearance and reminding us that it’s hardly fair to take shots at her.

Cate Blanchett accepting the Best Actress Oscar

My final entry about the Oscars comes from Matthew Brown, who wrote an intriguing, nuanced piece about the show in his Destroy All Monsters column at Twitchfilm. He digs into the idea of “moral seriousness” at the Oscars and how it’s essentially flawed. He also covers Cate Blanchett’s wonderful speech given the controversy around Woody Allen.

Despite the fact that we’re already in March, it isn’t too late for an overview of the films of 2013. Dennis Cozzalio of Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule’s post takes an epic look at his favorite 20 movies plus the top performances. He’s a big fan of The Great Beauty, which took home the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film on Sunday. There are familiar titles in his list, but others will surely surprise you.

Shifting gears, I used to listen to sports talk radio yet grew sick of how the hosts rarely went beyond the surface. They made a few obvious points, got in arguments with listeners, and were constantly shilling for advertisers. I found a remedy with Slate’s Hang Up and Listen podcast, which takes an intelligent approach to both the games and the issues surrounding them. I’ve been listening to hosts Josh Levin, Stefan Fatsis, and Mike Pesca since the beginning, and they keep improving the format. Their latest episode covers statistical analysis, concussions in soccer, and the NFL’s mishandled attempts to combat racism in football. It’s another great discussion from a show that’s always interesting.

Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

Disney World fans were dismayed by another price increase up to the hefty rate of $99 for a one-day visit at the Magic Kingdom. They also increased ticket costs across the board. This inspired a great piece from Amanda at Nerds in Wonderland about what’s really sad about the changes at the park. The price increase is just a symptom of a larger problem, and I’m totally on board with her conclusion. I’ll close with this lengthy quote from her post that sums up my feelings about what’s happening at Disney:

Quite frankly it doesn’t bother me in the least that the ticket price is going up by four dollars. It doesn’t bother me that Walt Disney World is a business. What bothers me is that a company I grew up on — one that actively encouraged me and all of us to hold it to the high standards it set for itself — is abandoning its historical business philosophy in favor of short-sighted board pandering and greed. It bothers me that thoughtful executives who loved themed design and entertainment have been replaced by MBA graduates who are beholden only to the bottom line. It bothers me that middle class American families are being priced out of a vacation experience that — like it or not — they are socially conditioned to strive for, and used to be able to afford. It bothers me that Disney PR representatives have become a little too good at spinning half-truths into exciting nuggets of joy they think we’ll swallow like obedient children. It bothers me that maintenance and infrastructure investment are relative afterthoughts. It bothers me that I’m effectively being told by certain people that ‘good enough’ is, in fact, good enough, when I know this company is capable of so much more.

Have you read or listened to anything remarkable that you’d like to spotlight?

2 comments:

  1. Happy birthday for your wife! She makes interesting art.

    I just read interesting article about Oscars over And So it Begins blog. Haven't got the chance to read much lately.

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    1. Thanks! I also really liked that article from Alex at And So It Begins. It pretty much summed up my feelings about the Oscars.

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