Sunday, August 23, 2009

Beach Reading

Our family just spent the past week in Maine, doing very little except soaking up the sun, sand and sea in every conceivable way. I got my read on, of course, and took the occasion to purchase material I might glance at on-line, but usually ignore in "hard copy." The privations of the beach will do that to you.

Here is what made for the most compelling beach reading. Follow the links, but please peruse with the awareness that briny air and a gaggle of happy young women will prompt a normally grumpy guy-about-the-house to give greater consideration than he normally might to slight material. Strongest case in point:

“While My Guitar Gently Beeps” by Daniel Radosh, New York Times Magazine. Want to see me fall asleep on the spot? Pass me an article about the making of a video game. Want to watch me lose my temper? Make that article 12 pages long. Yet here I was, cheerfully devoting the first hour of my sunning to Radosh's account of bringing The Beatles to "Rock Band." Most people are familiar with the Rock Band platform (or “engine”): the player picks up an instrument similar to the Mickey Mouse “guitar” and tries to keep time with the song being played on the television screen. So what makes The Beatles' Rock Band different? Basically the surviving keepers of the Four Lads' legacy: Paul, Ringo, Yoko, et al — who are all VERY particular about what they sign off on. The article uncovers some surprising facets in a group I thought I'd pretty much pegged by now.

“L.A. Confidential” by Holly Brubach, NYT Style Magazine. Eve Babitz is Hollywood's “Anti-Didion”, unjustly forgotten — so claims Brubach. I'm more drawn to Didion, West, Bukowski and even Elroy (when he has to answer to an editor), but Brubach garnishes some beguiling quotes that moved me to seek out used copies of Babitz's essays (once I got home, of course).

“Bloody Good: GQ Celebrates The Greatest Movie Violence Of All Time” by various, GQ. Aleksandar Hemon digs on The Wild Bunch. Elisabeth Gilbert celebrates Die Hard. David Carradine enumerates his top five movie fights. Mark Harris sums up the importance of Straw Dogs, Dirty Harry and A Clockwork Orange. And that's just for starters. None of it is on-line, alas. But this bit on It Might Get Loud is worth a look. And even though the presence of Jack White is almost enough to dissuade me from queuing up for it, I'm starting to think the movie is probably worth a look, too.

“Beautiful People, Ugly Choices” by Leslie Bennetts, Vanity Fair. A guilty pleasure, to be sure. But it is somewhat comforting to look away from the task of raising adolescent girls and focus for a moment on a family that is wealthier, better looking, and way more messed up.

Spotted commonalities: absolutely everyone has something about Mad Men and Inglourious Basterds. Geez, Louise: with that much publicity, you tell me — which one of these is the pig in a poke?

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