Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Texters Versus Shushers At The Movies

Lunchline: Texters Versus Shushers
(By Clinton Yates, Washington Post, August 2013)

A couple months back, I sat in a theater and live-tweeted the movie 'Spring Breakers.' Number one, I was bored. Number two, it was 11 in the morning. But number three, most importantly, I definitely didn't care if anyone was worried about my phone being a distraction. This debate has been roiling recently about what is reasonable etiquette. And in this column, Slate's Aisha Harris argues for the 'shushers' claiming that they 'outnumber' others. These people are living in the stone age, as far as I see it. Text away, kiddos.

Dear Moviegoing Texters: You’re Outnumbered. Sincerely, Shushers.
(By Aisha Harris,, 08 August 2013)

Moviegoing texters: You've been shushed.  Anil Dash, a self-described “entrepreneur, writer and geek” penned a lengthy message to certain members of the moviegoing public on his blog this morning. Inspired by the current debate over whether or not texting should be allowed in theaters, Dash decided to throw his hat into the ring, and has declared “shushers”—those on the side of prohibiting cell phone usage and talking back at the screen during movies—to be the Debbie Downers of the moviegoing experience. Shushers, according to him, represent everything that’s wrong with the world, on par with slavery defenders, marriage equality opponents, and anyone who thinks a woman shouldn’t wear pants.

Seriously- those are the analogies he uses. Unsurprisingly, this caused an avid Twitter debate among film critics and moviegoers alike. Dash gets a lot of things wrong with his argument—he assumes, for instance, that those of us who prefer to watch our movies without seeing a tiny flashing light emanating from your lap are completely unsympathetic to the ways different people watch movies. And he argues that because movie theaters are a public space, people should be able to treat it the way they would “any other public space.” Yet in all public spaces, there are standard, agreed-upon rules of etiquette which involve respecting the space and wishes of others around you.  Which brings me to the most ridiculous claim in his post: that shushers are “outnumbered” by millions of moviegoers around the world.

The most popular film industry in the world by viewers is Bollywood, with twice as many tickets sold in a given year there as in the United States. And the thing is, my people do not give a damn about what’s on the screen.  Indian folks get up, talk to each other, answer phone calls, see what snacks there are to eat, arrange marriages for their children, spontaneously break out in song and fall asleep. And that's during weddings! If Indian food had an equivalent to smores, people would be toasting that shit up on top of the pyre at funerals. So you better believe they’re doing some texting during movies.  Though I’ve never been to India, I have no doubt that India’s culture, as well as other cultures around the world, permits and even encourages this kind of experience. In fact, from time to time, if I intend to see a silly and/or fun movie in the vein of say, Pain & Gain (or really anything by Michael Bay), I will deliberately seek out a theater that attracts and encourages the type of enthusiastic viewers who will ultimately add to my enjoyment of the film with their hilarious ad libs. In my case, the Magic Johnson Theatre in Harlem is perfect for these viewings, because the majority of the people who go there long ago set the status quo—no one will shush you if you start talking on your phone in the middle of the movie. The same goes for midnight screenings of blockbusters and the unique experience of checking out a Rocky Horror Picture Show sing-along.

But in most theater experiences in the U.S., the people who text or don’t turn their phones on silent are in the minority—which is why, before every movie you go to, there’s a PSA reminding you not to text or talk in theaters. There’s some room for flexibility here, of course; I think most people will concur that there is a general hierarchy within the moviegoing experience that more or less correlates with our perceived hierarchy of cinema. If you’re seeing Transformers, a movie Dash refers to, no one- even us shushers- is really going to care if you’re texting or getting really excited and shouting at the screen. But if you’re going to see Amour and decide to check your phone or chat with the person next to you, you’d better believe everyone around you is going to be annoyed. It’s distracting.  Richard Lawson puts it correctly when he states that Dash’s tirade against shushers is “the ultimate way to shut down what had been a reasonably amiable disagreement about everyday public manners.” Indeed, there have been middle-of-the-road suggestions for separate text-approved screenings, and most of us on both sides of the argument are willing to find similar compromises. But Dash refuses to acknowledge that such people exist—and only makes his side look worse in the process.


I really hate the distraction of lights in the theaters so I couldn’t believe someone at a major newspaper was advocating such a thing.  A few weeks later he wrote about how he really gets upset with people who are frequently late because it is disrespectful of his time.  How is that different than being rude in a theater by ruining the movie experience for other patrons?  I had to voice my displeasure so I sent him the email listed below. 

From: Richard Goodman <>
To: clinton.yates <>
Sent: Sun, Aug 11, 2013 12:10 pm
Subject: Lunchline reader

I can't believe you are encouraging texting during a movie.  Yeah, maybe it was at 11 AM for a poorly attended movie but you just gave the green light to people to do it in the evening in crowded theatres.  Texting during a movie breaks an implied social contract.  It's very distracting to be sitting in the dark and seeing a glowing light in front of me, because movie texters don't use their phone in their laps- they hold it up near eye level in front of them.  It takes me out the immersive movie experience that I just paid $10 to have.  I would feel more comfortable if I could put my feet up on your head rest but I don't though because it violates the social contract.  That's why laser pointers are not tolerated and people are expected to step outside with screaming babies.  It's not about what you feel comfortable with but rather how it affects other people.

Musical Taste Stereotypes

What Your Taste In Music Says About You On A Date
(By Scott Alden, How About We website, 28 December 2011)
It’s one of the quintessential (and sometimes dreaded) first date questions: What kind of music are you into?  There’s a reason that most people tend to side-step this question with a deft, “A little bit of everything.” It’s because your taste in music reveals a lot about you to potential partners.
Here’s the breakdown:

Bruce Springsteen: You’re a monster in the sack.
Rod Stewart: You’re gross.

David Bowie: You’re selective, but slutty.

Kanye West: You’re kinda mean. In a hot way.
Jay Z: You don’t take any shit. Or at least you know that you’re not supposed to.

Beastie Boys: You believe that loyalty is rewarded.
The Arcade Fire: You spend the first third of relationship in a romantic frenzy and the last two trying to justify it.

The Ramones: Unless you’re over 40, you’re trying to be cool.
Rush: You’re a man. And a nerdy one at that.

Led Zeppelin:  If you’re a woman, you’re hot. If you’re a guy, you’re average.
AC/DC: If you’re a woman, you’re the kind of person who lets a guy move in with you after three dates because he’s temporarily homeless. If you’re a guy, you’re temporarily homeless.

My Chemical Romance: You’re not so much looking for a boyfriend or girlfriend as someone to share a “fuckyeahsuperheroeskissing” Tumblr with.
The Pixies: Relax. You’re cool.

Talking Heads: You’re a good person.
Stevie Wonder: You’re husband/wife material.

Hall and Oates: You’re not the type to let your wistful nature ruin your good time.
LCD Soundsystem: You’re not the type to let your strong sense of irony ruin your good time.

Insane Clown Posse: You’re not the type to let common decency ruin your good time.
Judas Priest: At some point in your life, you’ve sniffed a little glue.

Belle and Sebastian: If you hook up, it’s gonna get weird.
The Shins: You either really liked “Garden State,” or have a giant chip on your shoulder about how people only like The Shins because of “Garden State.”

R.E.M.: You’ve got a big heart.
Tori Amos: You cry during sex and get real quiet after.

That One Peter, Bjorn and John song with the whistling: You’re a human being.
The Mountain Goats: You’re very serious about your feelings.

Van Morrison: You’re a romantic. Possibly with a slight drinking problem.
No Doubt: If you’re a girl, you’re a confident person, but you know what it’s like to get treated like crap. If you’re guy, you’re just trying to get laid.

Nirvana: You’re angry and hurt.
Radiohead: You’re angry and hurt. But you’re open to getting some professional help.

Bebel Gilberto: You’re going to flutter little kisses all over every inch of your date’s body and soon as you get the chance. Also: You’re a foodie.
T-Rex: You’re an asshole.

Bob Dylan: You’re an asshole, but you don’t know it.
The Strokes: You’re not really an asshole, you just act like it sometimes.

The White Stripes: You’re kind of kinky.
Lil’ Kim: You’re really kinky.

Peaches: If you’re not getting a handjob under the table right now, it’s because you’re giving one.
Ani Difranco: You’re a good communicator. Maybe too good.

John Mayer: You’re a virgin.
Nickelback: You have low self-esteem and bad tattoos. But, god bless you.

The Clash: You’re willing to work for it, but you’re kind of pissed that you have to.
The Cure: You fall in love WAY too easily.

Best Coast: You fall in love way too easily, but only for, like, a week.
The Rolling Stones: You’re hot.

Rihanna: You’re hot.
Beyonce: You’re sweet, but not a pushover.

Britney Spears: If you’re a gay guy or a woman, you’re normal. If you’re a straight guy, you’re trying to get laid.
Mandy Moore: You have American Girl dolls. Plural.

Guns N Roses: You’re going to have to sex in the bathroom and regret it.
Joan Jett: You’re going to have sex in the bathroom and not regret it.

Fleetwood Mac: You’re reasonably well adjusted. Considering.
Jewel: Um… are you sure this is a date?

Nicki Minaj: You’re awesome. And kind of crazy.
Lil’ Wayne: You’re crazy. And kind of awesome.

Regina Spektor: You might be a perfectly nice person, but you’re kind of annoying.
Panda Blood: You made that up to see if your date would pretend to have heard of them.

Kid Cudi: No one understands you. But it’s not that big a deal.
John Legend: You have emotional sex.

Eminem: You have emotional problems.
Drake: You’re about whatever.

Vampire Weekend: You’re about being about whatever.
Gogol Bordello: You sweat a lot and you have a nice smile.

Tool: You’re either really smart or really dumb.
Peter Gabriel: Every relationship is a coming-of-age epic of which you are the star.

Leonard Cohen: You’re the kind of person that people get obsessed with for years. Too bad you’re too depressed to appreciate it.
TV on the Radio: You care. Deeply. Even if you act like you don’t.

The Smiths: It’s doomed every time, but it always takes a beautiful, long while to figure that out.
Depeche Mode: You’re screwed up, but you know it, which actually does help.

Cut Copy: You make out in public a lot.
Joni Mitchell: You make breakfast in the morning.

Wilco: You’ll make an excellent life-partner.
The Beatles: Eh. Who knows.


What ELSE Your Taste In Music Says About You On A Date
(By Scott Alden, How About We website, August 19, 2011)
Though 71 artists were covered in our initial “What Your Taste In Music Says About You On A Date” post, you people still weren’t satisfied.  So I’m addressing some of your favorites that may have been neglected in the first round. Here goes…

Coldplay: Missionary position only. But lots of kissing and eye contact.

Queen: You love with the heart of a warrior.
Oasis: You’re the kind of person who does things they’re not supposed to do. Like liking Oasis.

Daft Punk: Depends. You’re either prone to “raging” in the sense of “partying a lot” or in the sense of “throwing your X-Box controller on the floor and smashing it with your purple Sam Jackson lightsaber replica.”
Cat Power: You’re already getting over our inevitable break-up.

Aerosmith: Your wild days are behind you.
Paul Simon: You’re sincerely insightful about your relationship issues, but in the end you decide that it’s not your fault.

Bob Seger: It’s not your first time around the block.
Billy Joel: You know exactly what you’re doing.

Green Day: You get upset over nothing all the time, but bounce back quickly.
Justin Timberlake: You seem really lame at first, then turn out to be awesome.

Weezer: Awkward. And proud of it.
Prince: You’re a little weird, but you make up for it by being a total sex machine.

Cat Stevens: You had a glorious youth.
Red Hot Chili Peppers: You’re not super-interesting, but you’re nice enough and you’re certainly not going anywhere, so…

U2: You’re very loving, but prone to fits of irritating self-righteousness.
The Who: You’re a generally open, curious person, but you get really riled up when people cut you in line and stuff.

Sinatra: It bugs you that people aren’t classier these days.
Lupe Fiasco: You wrestle with moral dilemmas but never at the expense of your chill demeanor.

Mos Def: You’re straightforward.
Madonna: You’re kind of bratty, but you’re hot enough to pull it off.

Lady Gaga: You’re sort of obnoxious, but people can’t help but like you.
There was a minor uproar about not having included jazz in the last list, so I’m throwing a few in here.

Miles Davis: Introspective.
John Coltrane: Deeply introspective.

Charles Mingus: You’re cool as hell.
Thelonious Monk: You’re cool as hell. Even though you’re wearing mismatched socks.

And even though no one complained about it, I’m including a few classical composers here, too.
Brahms: You’re sensitive but guarded.

Beethoven: You’re guarded but sensitive.
Stravinsky: You’re romantic. Sometimes aggressively so.

Mozart: Smartypants.
And here are a few of my favorites from our readers:

From Glow420:
Jack Johnson: chill and easy going, allowing the relationship to take a natural path (versus rushing into anything)
From Anon:
Jack Johnson: You think you’re chill and easygoing, but really you’re just afraid of commitment.

From Tina Starr:
Nine Inch Nails: You’re kinky and and have lots of angry sex.
From Javier Ordonez:
Pink Floyd: Your alcohol/substance use prevented you from making it to the date, but the hours spent in heavy contemplation left you a better person. For now.

Stereotyping You By Your Favorite Album Of 2013
(By Tom Hawking, Flavorwire, December 9, 2013)

It’s that wonderful time of the year! Yes, it’s December, which means we get to make many end-of-year lists and generally pontificate about what we liked and didn’t like about 2013… but more importantly, it’s also the time when we get to apply gratuitous stereotypes to music fans everywhere. It’s something of a tradition at Flavorwire to ponder what your favorite album of the year says about you, so without further ado, here we go again! (Our obligatory disclaimer: this is a lighthearted exercise, so don’t get all pissy about it — and, yes, our stereotype is on here, and it fits perfectly.)

Daft Punk — Random Access Memories
Well-off 30-somethings who have office jobs and spend a lot of time reminiscing about how the pills used to be better “back in the day.”
HAIM — Days Are Gone
Girls who own several of those flowing ’70s full-length summer dresses.

The Knife — Shaking the Habitual
Gender studies majors.
Chvrches — The Bones of What You Believe
Gender studies minors.

The Julie Ruin — Run Fast
Tenured gender studies academics.
Julia Holter — Loud City Song
Music majors.

The Haxan Cloak — Excavation
People who own actual cloaks. Black ones.
Sky Ferreira — Night Time, My Time
Bushwick indie girls who go two at a time into the toilet.

Foxygen — We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic
People who are super nice to you in person and shit-talk you behind your back.
Lorde — Pure Heroine
Poptimists who consider themselves “sophisticated.”

Frank Turner — Tape Deck Heart
Punks who live in terror that someone will find out about their trust fund.
The National — Trouble Will Find Me
Wine club subscribers.

Arcade Fire — Reflektor
People who moved to Williamsburg seven years ago and still think it’s just the coolest place in the world.
The Strokes — Comedown Machine
People who moved to the Lower East Side 15 years ago and still think it’s just the coolest place in the world.

Savages — Silence Yourself
Solemn Londoners who have been described as “angular” at least once in their lives.
Miley Cyrus — Bangerz
Tweens gone bad.

Kanye West — Yeezus
People who like arguing about music more than they like listening to it.

Arctic Monkeys — AM
The small pocket of people in Northern England that constitutes the NME‘s print subscriber base.
Oneohtrix Point Never — R Plus 7
Studious men who used to subscribe to The Wire.

Tim Hecker — Virgins
Studious men who still subscribe to The Wire.
Pearl Jam — Lightning Bolt
Men in their 30s who haven’t heard of half the stuff on these end-of-year lists, anyway.

Death Grips — Government Plates
Conspiracy theorists.
Laura Marling — Once I Was an Eagle
Girls who like crafts and have an intimidating knowledge of tea.

Majical Cloudz — Impersonator
Indie dudes who are very in touch with their feelings.
Autre Ne Veut — Anxiety
Indie dudes who’d like you to believe they’re very in touch with their feelings.

Waxahatchee — Cerulean Salt
Indie girls who are very in touch with their feelings.
Speedy Ortiz — Major Arcana
Girls who like hardcore and pop music.

Atoms for Peace — Amok
Men who are far too old to have ponytails.
Blood Orange — Cupid Deluxe
Stylish fashion industry guys who manage to make things like suspenders look cool.

Janelle MonĂ¡e — The Electric Lady
Stylish fashion industry girls who manage to make things like suspenders look cool.

Eminem — The Marshall Mathers LP 2
Angry mid-20s white men who drink Coors Light and are concerned about rising gas prices.
Disclosure — Settle
Shoppers who generally enjoy the music that gets played in H&M.

Barenaked Ladies — Grinning Streak
Scruffy men who look like a real-life version of the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons and make you slightly ashamed of your strong urge to punch them.
Tyler, the Creator — Wolf
People just getting into Odd Future.

Earl Sweatshirt — Doris
People just getting over Odd Future.
Paramore — Paramore
Early 20s types who nurture inexplicably fond memories of pop punk.

Lady Gaga — ARTPOP
Jeff Koons.

Fuck Buttons — Slow Focus
Guys who casually discuss doing esoteric psychedelics with names made up of letters and numbers.
Danny Brown — Old
People who appear to be permanently on several such psychedelics.

Paul McCartney — New
Jann Wenner.
James Blake — Overgrown
Thirty-somethings who work at investment banks but still consider themselves “hip.”

Yuck — Glow and Behold
Dudes who are too young to remember the ’90s but are totally sure that was the time they should have been alive.
My Bloody Valentine — mbv
Dudes who should be able to remember the ’90s but don’t.

Superchunk — I Hate Music
Dudes who actually do remember the ’90s.
One Direction — Midnight Memories
Early 20s ingenues who still insist on teddy bears and pink-painted walls.

M.I.A. — Matangi
People who’ll corner you at parties and talk extensively about how Edward Snowden proves they were right all along.
Kurt Vile — Walkin’ On a Pretty Daze
Benevolent stoners.

Chance the Rapper — Acid Rap
Benevolent trippers (who may or may not be music journalists).
David Bowie — The Next Day
Music journalists whose tripping days are behind them.

Chelsea Wolfe — Pain Is Beauty
Brooklyn girls who have adopted goth as a semi-ironic fashion statement.
Icona Pop — This Is… Icona Pop
People who will admit with a little sympathetic prompting that, no, they didn’t realize Charli XCX wasn’t in the band.

Los Campesinos! — No Blues
Priapic liberal arts students who spend a lot of time on OKCupid.
Iceage — You’re Nothing
Fascists Hardcore purists.

Boards of Canada — Tomorrow’s Harvest
Earnest men who have been wearing the same brown cardigan for a decade.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds — Push the Sky Away

Pharmakon — Abandon
Intense, hollow-eyed girls who are very attractive but also genuinely terrifying.
Pusha T — My Name Is My Name
Hip hop heads who miss Clipse.

Jay-Z — Magna Carta Holy Grail
People who think nothing of dropping several thousand dollars on a plasma-screen television.
Vampire Weekend — Modern Vampires of the City
Well-groomed bros under 25 who have stock portfolios and own more dress shirts than T-shirts.

Justin Timberlake — The 20/20 Experience
Creepy smooth-talking bros who refer to women as “ladies.”
Drake — Nothing Was the Same
Creepy smooth-talking bros who refer to women as “ladies” and want you to feel their pain.

R. Kelly — Black Panties
Creepy smooth-talking bros who will pressure you to do unspeakable things in bed.



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Inside Community's Surprise Return

(By Michael Schneider,, Dec 24, 2013)

NBC couldn't kill Community, even if it tried — and it definitely tried. But lengthy hiatuses and unusual scheduling (including Thanksgiving and Christmas episodes airing last spring) wouldn't destroy it. A controversial decision to replace creator Dan Harmon as showrunner last season couldn't slay it. Even all that Twitter chatter about "six seasons and a movie" didn't jinx it."Community is like a Twinkie," says Yvette Nicole Brown, who plays Shirley, perhaps the sweetest of the community-college study-group members who form the show's heart. "The shelf life of this show has defied odds."
The comedy doesn't get big ratings or tons of awards: A banner outside Stage 31 on the Paramount Studios lot in Hollywood, where it's filmed, reads, "congratulations — 0 emmy nominations!" But Community boasts plenty of critical acclaim and one of the most fervent fan bases in television.  Not only is that loyal audience part of the reason the show is back on Jan. 2 for a surprise fifth season, but it's also why — in an unprecedented move — Harmon was brought back to run the show (with fellow executive producer Chris McKenna, also returning from exile).  "A lot of us did not expect to get a fifth season," says Alison Brie, who plays innocent Annie. "By now we're so used to having the rug pulled up from under us."

Joel McHale, who stars as disgraced lawyer Jeff Winger, was instrumental in lobbying NBC and Sony (which produces Community) to bring back Harmon. "The show was in Dan's head," McHale says. "I think it can really only come from him."  The studio and network, which had clashed with Harmon over budgetary and creative issues, dropped him from the show in May 2012 while ordering a fourth season. "Nobody has had a conversation about what happened," Harmon says, "or why it unhappened."  He was replaced by Moses Port and David Guarascio (Just Shoot Me), who were apparently brought on to make Community more accessible. The duo had to be convinced to take the job, knowing it was a thankless endeavor. Many critics, who initially worried that the two might take the edge off Community, later took them to task for trying to emulate Harmon's voice.  "There was a whiteboard in the writers' room that had about 10 ideas we never got around to because they posed too difficult a creative challenge," Harmon says. "I was blown away to see [my replacements] were going down that list: doing an Inspector Spacetime convention; having Winger reconcile with his dad; the Pierce haunted house. It was a creative agenda I thought was the reason I got fired."
When Harmon was finally asked back, he felt he had no choice but to return. "If I did go back, the worst thing that could happen is a bad season of television," he says. "If I didn't go back, the worst thing that could happen is a lifetime of questions. I would have been miserable."  But in returning to Community, Harmon had to "not let the studio, network and the outside world get to me. I let it drive me crazy, and I let it inhibit the quality of my work," he says. "I knew coming into Season 5 that we were already off the schedule, and I had to wake up every morning at peace with the idea that no one might ever see what we were doing. It had to be about the craftsmanship. It had to be about making 13 episodes of television that I would love."

Although he's critical of how Port and Guarascio handled the show, Harmon admits he's grateful they didn't dramatically change the show's mythology, making it relatively easy to regroup from the two biggest changes at the end of Season 4: Winger graduating, which was in line with Harmon's plan, and haughty millionaire Pierce (Chevy Chase) leaving, a function of the actor wanting out.  Chase expressed much displeasure in the media about Community and the direction of his character. "You've read the 300 or 400 articles," McHale says. "The articles say he didn't like the writing and didn't like the show and didn't watch it and didn't want to be here. And now he's not."
In the season premiere (airing Thursday, Jan. 2 at 8/7c), it's months later, and the members of the group have moved on with their lives outside Greendale Community College. But when Winger comes up with a scheme to reunite the gang, they're willing to play along — despite Jeff's questionable motives. Making a subtle reference to Season 4, the characters joke of a "yearlong gas leak" that made them all act a bit differently.  With a clean slate, Harmon says he, McKenna and the writers decided to write an opener that fulfills the same function as a brand-new pilot. The episode, titled "Repilot," even contains callbacks to Community's first episode. "We needed to get back to basics," Harmon says, "and we needed to tell a satisfying story about someone coming back to community college, having not been in it."

McHale approves of the new direction. "It's all really rich and great," he says. "The scripts are so good. No matter what happens with the episodes, I know we're making good TV." His character eventually takes a job teaching at the school, which Harmon admits he had said Jeff would never do. "[It] seems like a jump-the-shark [moment]," he says, "so we needed to give him a reason to do it that resonated and allowed people to respect Jeff."  Danny Pudi, who plays socially awkward Abed, says the show has been energized: "It's been nice to go back to some of the things that we were exploring when the show began." Says Gillian Jacobs, who plays the flighty Britta, "We're still ambitious, we're still going for broke, but the heart of the show is really there, and the characters feel grounded."
Harmon has stressed the importance of spending more time on character development, which is why the first few episodes of Season 5 are not larger than life, like Community's famous paintball installments. And some ideas — like Abed's favorite TV show, Inspector Spacetime — were so overused last year that Harmon decided to retire them.  "I came into Season 5 gun-shy," Harmon says. "My mantra every morning was, 'Keep your feet on the ground and make sure each episode is understandable.'"  The much larger- and more painful- issue Harmon and McKenna faced was figuring out how to deal with the exit of Donald Glover, who plays Abed's best friend, Troy. The actor decided to depart at midseason to focus on other projects, including his hip-hop alter ego, Childish Gambino.  "I just watched the episode where Troy leaves, and it's heartbreaking," Harmon says. "It's a real Kleenex-boxer. I wrote it, I was there when they shot it, I'm editing it and I'm not even looking at a completed version, and my eyes were running like a faucet."

Dan Harmon Reveals How Community Pulled Off This Week's Surprise Cameo
(By Michael Schneider, TV Guide, Jan 3, 2014)
The return of Community executive producer Dan Harmon to the series he created — and then was fired from — was a shock enough. But fans of the show were in for another surprise Thursday night, as another exiled Community member made a brief return: Former co-star Chevy Chase.  In the Season 5 premiere, Chase's cantankerous Pierce Hawthorne shows up as a hologram in order to talk some sense into Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), who has tricked his pals into helping him take down Greendale Community College. The run-in with Pierce triggers a change of heart in Winger, who ultimately decides to help save Greendale from within as a new professor.  Chase famously departed Community at the end of Season 4 after expressing his unhappiness with the show, having once even called his participation a "big mistake." But Chase has also discussed his fondness of the show's cast, and although he and Harmon have had well-publicized run-ins, both the actor and producer have also said reports of a feud have been overblown.

Harmon tells TV Guide Magazine that he wanted to bring Chase back in a cameo, but that Chase's exit agreement with Sony Pictures Television, which produces Community, prevented the actor from actually setting foot on stage. That's why Harmon came up with the idea of bringing Pierce back as a hologram.  "It was a question of, how do you include somebody that people want to see again that has actually been contractually bound not to be on set?" Harmon says. "We definitely needed something to turn Jeff as he was walking away with the power to end Greendale and end everything in his hand. It seemed appropriate that this would be a moment that Pierce, when he was still on the show, would have been a help. It was certainly the role he fulfilled in the original pilot. He was the first turning point in Jeff becoming a part of that family."
Harmon says he became determined to bring back Pierce in order to block Jeff's path. "I started with that image in my head of a blue Obi-Wan ghost of Chevy Chase. Why would that happen? How is that possible? And then you realize that Pierce is a millionaire and he has a history with the campus. So we thought, 'Maybe this is a way around this contract thing, the terms of his departure with the studio. Maybe we can get around that by shooting him separately in a goliath stage with Chevy-proof walls."  Sony gave its blessing, and Community shot Chase on a different stage with a motion control camera.

Asked if things were cool between him and Chase, Harmon calls the comedian "hilarious and one of a kind and a consummate soloist. He's somebody who, like me, doesn't deal well with people telling him what to do. Nobody appreciated that more than me and nobody had to deal with that more than me."  Harmon points out that he has worked with Chase longer than any TV other producer has worked with the Saturday Night Live alum. "We were very similar. And we still joke around on the phone with each other. People see in interviews him saying bad stuff about the show, but I just laugh and he always laughs."
News of a feud really took off after Harmon played some of Chase's angry voice mail messages at a comedy show. But Harmon says Chase "laughed during the whole voice mail thing. The part of the nice thing about these personalities and his part and my part is they come with relatively thick, resilient skin.  "He left that voice mail in a passionate mode and I played it for people in a passionate mode. The bigger picture is two guys who really, desperately know that they are nothing without people laughing at them. [We] really respect and appreciate each other for that fact."  The question remains, why was there wording in Chevy's exit that barred him from returning to the Community stage? Is that unusual that he can't even return to visit? "You'd have to talk to lawyers about that, I don't know," Harmon says. "That's what I was told, that it was a legal thing, it's a contract thing. I wasn't here when he left, so I don't know how that works. Talk to the suits, they love doing interviews, right?"


Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Things That Bother Jeanne Marie

(Published with the permission of the John Hughes Estate, January 16, 2006)

Jeanne Marie scowled at the teenagers outside the coffee shop. She wanted to rap her knuckles on the window and shake an angry fist at the girl and the three boys.  “They’ll just give me the finger,” she said softly. “If they want to rough up that girl, so be it. And if she lets them do it—well, that’s too damn bad for her.”

She took a test sip of her nonfat triple-vanilla almond latte. “Too fucking hot,” she whispered. “And the goddamn milk’s burned. Great. Three dollars for scorched milk and inauthentic syrup from Italy. What kind of fool am I?” She cast an exaggerated expression of dissatisfaction in the direction of the young, redheaded barista busily pulling shots and frothing milk. “Is it really necessary that you offer so much cleavage?” she wondered. “Are you here to make great coffee drinks or peddle your flawless, alabaster bosom?” She sighed. “God, I hate red hair.”

Jeanne Marie opened her big, yellow leather bag and took out her Lamy Safari pen and her Moleskine.  “I feel like a fucking court stenographer today,” she hissed. “All I do is chronicle the endless cavalcade of poor behavior, reckless nonsense, and utter silliness. My hand cramps, my eyes burn, my brain throbs, and my spirit weeps. Why me? Why do I have to be the canary in the coal mine of social collapse? And why when I pay three dollars for a subpar coffee drink must I brush someone else’s muffin crumbs off the table?”  She let out a disgusted sigh and opened her Moleskine.  “Like I don’t have anything better to do.”

In the little book, as she did every afternoon, Jeanne Marie listed the things that bothered her that day. In careful hand, she wrote:

Dogs that look like they’re smiling

The smell of the morning’s bacon after nine a.m.

Beach sand

Bentley convertibles

Dirty looks from women who wear crosses and plaid

Dirty looks from babies

Any dirty looks from anybody but the 60 Minutes team

Bowlegged men in cargo shorts and Adidas slides

Cargo shorts

Nose hair

Urine spots on the lawn

People who don’t deadhead their annuals

Suicidal airline pilots

Women who call each other “dude”

The Whole Foods cereal aisle


Santa Claus

The woman who was married to Nirvana

Women with big, fat, floppy, flabby, dimpled bottoms

Faith Hill’s teeth

Oprah Winfrey’s feet

Pumpkin stems

Dried spit in a sink

Chinese acrobats

Women with frogmouths

Colorado (every square inch)

Flip-flops on elderly people (should be called “Scrape-flops”)

Wrong numbers in Spanish

Mustaches with more gray on one side than on the other

Pregnant weather persons

Thick bologna


Leather-covered eating utensils

People named Brad: especially Pitt, Paisley, and Penny

Oversize muffins

Gum with fluid centers

People who return from foreign lands and talk about funny toilets

High-gas-price jokes

Baby-boomers with deep tans

People who are not as smart as their phones

Legacy journalists

Jeanne Marie capped her pen and snapped the elastic band on her Moleskine.  “The streetlights have come on,” she muttered. “The jackasses at the bank across the street are leaving work bundled up in their oh-so-cool ski jackets.”  She put her pen and Moleskine in her yellow bag and wrapped her nubby wool-and-silk scarf around her neck. She cast another aggrieved glance at the barista.  “Now I get to go home and make dinner for the fat, brain-dead horse’s ass I lost my virginity to. Good old Dan, the father of my ungrateful children.”

Jeanne Marie put on her down car coat.  “I should just leave my fucking empty cup on the table. Let Miss Dublin with the big boobs and the white blouse that, duh, leaves nothing to the imagination take care of it.”  She dropped her empty cup in the trash receptacle and looked again at the barista.  “Bone-dry cappuccino,” the barista said cheerily.  “I should have saved those muffin crumbs and thrown them at her,” Jeanne Marie growled.

The barista gave her a smile.  “You wouldn’t be smiling, sweetheart,” Jeanne Marie snarled to herself, “if you had a handful of crumbs between those big, sassy boobies of yours. That’s really annoying. I know. I was young once. I was cute and sexy and bold as brass. That changes. You wait. You’ll get yours.”

Jeanne Marie left the humid warmth of the coffee shop for the raw, dry cold of the dark street.  “All the lonely people, where do they all come from?” she sang as she unlocked her car.  “When will the world get over the fucking Beatles?” she asked herself.  “How about never?” she answered.  “Just wait until the next one dies. Twenty-four hours of nonstop ‘Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!’ Stop! I can’t take it!”

Ten Tips and Tricks Every iPhone and iPad User Should Know

(By Katherine Boehret, Wall Street Journal)

Own an iPhone or iPad? Chances are there are some functions you're still not aware of. WSJ's Katherine Boehret has drawn up a list of 10 to help you get the most out of your devices.  It's with you every moment of every day. It reminds you of little things that you sometimes forget, like calling friends on their birthdays and picking up the dry cleaning. It sleeps by your side, resting when you rest and working when you work. It even talks back once in a while. But how well do you really know your iPhone?  After months of watching friends and family use their iPhones and iPads, I realized most of them were missing out on a lot of features. I'll walk you through 10 things you might not know your iPhone and iPad can do. Aficionados may know most of these, but typical users likely won't.

1. Directly Access Apps
If you're like most people, you have your iPhone set to show some pop-up notifications. They might show up on the home screen when you get a Facebook notification, or a text message, for instance, and even when the phone is locked and the screen is asleep. To open these messages, you don't have to first swipe to unlock your phone and then open the app. As long as your device isn't protected by a four-digit security code, swipe from left to right on the notification to open the app in which the message appeared. If you do use a code, you'll be prompted to enter it after swiping the notification.

2. Tap to Scroll Up
Give your pointer finger a rest from scrolling up, up, up to get back to the top of a page. Tap once on the status bar—where the time and battery life are displayed—at the top edge of the iPhone or iPad screen and you'll jump up to the top. This works for websites, email, Contacts and many other apps.

3. Keyboard Shortcuts

Tapping on a glass keyboard has its downsides, but a few shortcuts could ease the experience. Tap and hold the "Compose new message" button in Mail to automatically bring up all your saved email drafts. And rather than switching to the number keyboard and then switching back to the letter keyboard, tap and hold the "123" key, then drag it to a number to select it. When you lift your finger from the number, the letter keyboard will appear again.
When entering an email address, hold down the period key to see other address endings. Add emoticons to your keyboard by choosing: Settings, General, Keyboard, International Keyboards, Add New Keyboard, Emoji. When entering a Web address in the browser, hold down the .com key to see alternate URL endings, like .org and .edu.

You can split the iPad's on-screen keyboard in two so you can grasp the iPad with two hands and type with your thumbs. This is on by default, though you might not know it. (To check, go to Settings, General, Keyboard and Split Keyboard.) To see the split keyboard anytime you're using the regular keyboard, spread your two thumbs from the center of the keyboard out. Or just tap and hold the keyboard icon (bottom right corner) and select Split. An Undock option also appears and this lets you move the keyboard up or down.
4. Speed from App to App

The iPhone and iPad have many apps running in the background. There are shortcuts for jumping around apps without going to the home screen. Double tap the Home button (a physical button below the screen) to see a pop-up tray of apps and swipe to the left to scroll through them. Select one to jump to it. On the iPad, do this is by placing four fingers on the screen and swiping all of them up at once. This and other multitask gestures are on by default on the iPad 2 and newest iPad. But you have to turn them on with the first-generation iPad by going to Settings, General, Multitask Gestures.
5. Take Screenshots

Ever see something on your iPhone or iPad screen and wish you could save that image, but can't figure out how? Press the Home button and the On/Off button (top right edge) simultaneously to take a screenshot of whatever you see on the device. You'll hear the same sound as when you take a picture with the Camera app. You can find all of your screenshots stored in Camera Roll, along with your photos, and share them via email or social networks as you do regular photos.  Splitting the iPad's on-screen keyboard in two lets you grasp the iPad with two hands and type with your thumbs. This is on by default- though you may not know it.
6. Swipe to Search

Another way to quickly find apps on an iPhone or iPad is to swipe left-to-right from the home screen. This reveals a search box in which you can type the name of any app to jump right to it. This search also finds contacts, emails, calendar items and texts, as well as other things.
7. Read Websites More Easily

Stop struggling to read overcrowded Web pages on the iPhone's small screen. Instead, tap the Reader button, found in the URL bar at the top of a Web page, and you'll see a much clearer, predominantly text version of the page. Even better: This view hides advertisements. It doesn't work with all websites. This also works on the iPad.
8. A Smarter Camera (iPhone)

If you've ever wished your iPhone camera had a physical shutter button, look no further. The phone's volume up (+) button doubles as a shutter button whenever the Camera app is opened. This hard button feels sturdier all around, plus it makes it a cinch to take self-portraits or to tell strangers how to take a photo of you and your friends.
And speaking of handing your phone to strangers, don't forget about the lock-screen shortcut for opening the Camera: Slide up the camera icon (found at the bottom right of the home screen) to open Camera without unlocking the phone. You can do this with anyone's phone, regardless of whether or not you know their password because it only opens the Camera app, locking you out of all other apps—and other photos and videos—on the phone. Just the photos or videos you take at that moment will be visible to you.

9. Digital Picture Frame (iPad)
Put your iPad to work as a digital picture frame for a photo slide show. Tap the Picture Frame icon, which appears to the right of the slide-to-unlock bar on the lock screen.  If you own an iPad case, flip it into its stand-up position, place the iPad on a table, press the Picture Frame icon and walk away. Guests in your home will have to unlock the iPad to access other apps.  Photos can be pulled from all photos or specific albums, events or images of certain faces. Make these and other slide-show adjustments in Settings, Picture Frame.

10. Mute or Screen Lock (iPad)

The same button on the right edge of your iPad that locks the screen in portrait or landscape mode can double as a mute button. This comes in handy if you find yourself frequently muting the iPad. Change this button's default lock function by going into Settings, General, Use side switch to: Lock Rotation or Mute. By default, this button is on Lock Rotation. Another quick way to mute is by pulling up the multitask bar by double tapping Home (or using a four-finger swipe up), then swiping left-to-right to see a mute, as well as sliders for volume and screen brightness.

The History Of CTRL + ALT + DELETE

(By Virginia Hughes, Mental Floss, 12 July 2013)
In the spring of 1981, David Bradley was part of a select team working from a nondescript office building in Boca Raton, Fla. His task: to help build IBM’s new personal computer. Because Apple and RadioShack were already selling small stand-alone computers, the project (code name: Acorn) was a rush job. Instead of the typical three- to five-year turnaround, Acorn had to be completed in a single year.  One of the programmers’ pet peeves was that whenever the computer encountered a coding glitch, they had to manually restart the entire system. Turning the machine back on automatically initiated a series of memory tests, which stole valuable time. “Some days, you’d be rebooting every five minutes as you searched for the problem,” Bradley says. The tedious tests made the coders want to pull their hair out.

So Bradley created a keyboard shortcut that triggered a system reset without the memory tests. He never dreamed that the simple fix would make him a programming hero, someone who’d someday be hounded to autograph keyboards at conferences. And he didn’t foresee the command becoming such an integral part of the user experience.
Bradley joined IBM as a programmer in 1975. By 1978, he was working on the Datamaster, the company’s early, flawed attempt at a PC. It was an exciting time—computers were starting to become more accessible, and Bradley had a chance to help popularize them.  In September 1980, he became the 12th of 12 engineers picked to work on Acorn. The close-knit team was whisked away from IBM’s New York headquarters. “We had very little interference,” Bradley says. “We got to do the design essentially starting with a blank sheet of paper.”

Bradley worked on everything from writing input/output programs to troubleshooting wire-wrap boards. Five months into the project, he created ctrl+alt+del. The task was just another item to tick off his to-do list. “It was five minutes, 10 minutes of activity, and then I moved on to the next of the 100 things that needed to get done,” he says. Bradley chose the keys by location—with the del key across the keyboard from the other two, it seemed unlikely that all three would be accidentally pressed at the same time. Bradley never intended to make the shortcut available to customers, nor did he expect it to enter the pop lexicon. It was meant for him and his fellow coders, for whom every second counted.
The team managed to finish Acorn on schedule. In the fall of 1981, the IBM PC hit shelves—a homely gray box beneath a monitor that spit out green lines of type. Marketing experts predicted that the company would sell a modest 241,683 units in the first five years; company execs thought that estimate was too optimistic. They were all wrong. IBM PC sales would reach into the millions, with people of all ages using the machines to play games, edit documents, and crunch numbers. Computing would never be the same.

And yet, few of these consumers were aware of Bradley’s shortcut quietly lingering in their machines. It wasn’t until the early 1990s, when Microsoft’s Windows took off, that the shortcut came to prominence. As PCs all over the country crashed and the infamous “blue screen of death” plagued Windows users, a quick fix spread from friend to friend: ctrl+alt+del. Suddenly, Bradley’s little code was a big deal. Journalists hailed “the three-finger salute” as a saving grace for PC owners—a population that kept growing.

In 2001, hundreds of people packed into the San Jose Tech Museum of Innovation to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the IBM PC. In two decades, the company had moved more than 500 million PCs worldwide. After dinner, industry luminaries, including Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, sat down for a panel discussion. But the first question didn’t go to Gates; it went to David Bradley. The programmer, who has always been surprised by how popular those five minutes spent creating ctrl+alt+del made him, was quick to deflect the glory.  “I have to share the credit,” Bradley joked. “I may have invented it, but I think Bill made it famous.”


Friday, December 20, 2013

The Top 10 Local Stories Of The Year

(By Clinton Yates, Washington Post, 20 December 2013)

Melina Mara / The Washington PostMelina Mara / The Washington PostIt’s that time of year, when we take a look at the year that’s gone by. 2013 was  an eventful one in the city– with quite a few changes that could affect our lives for many years to come. Let’s take a look at my Top 10 for the District. This list became surprisingly difficult to cut down to only ten. So here are the rest:  Panda gives birth to Bao Bao; NPR opens in NoMa, 14th Street NW’s boom; Government Shutdown; 50th Anniversary of March on Washington; D.C. United stadium plan. Now to my picks.
The hardware store is engulfed in flames. - Tim Curran / The Washington PostThe hardware store is engulfed in flames.
- Tim Curran / The Washington Post

June 5th was an awful afternoon for an establishment that had become part of Capitol Hill’s fabric.  That place was one of the few locations in which federal and local Washington came together in the same place in the name of household items. They’re rebuilding now, with a decent amount of success. To think, when it was established, a couple guys names Calvin Coolidge and Franklin Roosevelt were running against each other on the presidential election ticket.

Tracy A. Woodward/THE WASHINGTON POST -  Evening view of The Old Post Office Pavilion (L) showing the corner of Pennsylvania Ave NW and 12th St NW, Washington, D.C.Tracy A. Woodward/THE WASHINGTON POST – Evening view of The Old Post Office Pavilion (L) showing the corner of Pennsylvania Ave NW and 12th St NW, Washington, D.C.9. Trump buys Old Post Office Pavilion
To many, this might feel like just another building trading hands. Technically, Trump International is leasing it from the GSA, but after he turns it into a luxury hotel, that building will never be the same quirky piece of history with a glorious clock tower view. Now, it’s a kitsch food court that used to actually be a venue for people to entertain. But after the Trump treatment, I doubt I’ll ever walk through the doors, again.
The U.S. Marine Band confirmed that Beyonce recorded a performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" the night before the inauguration. - Marvin Joseph / The Washington PostThe U.S. Marine Band confirmed that Beyonce recorded a performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” the night before the inauguration. -
Marvin Joseph / The Washington Post

Of course, they happen every four years, but this one was different. Why? One word: Beyonce. She graced the country with her rendition of the national anthem, which left everyone at the bar I watched it from completely speechless. It later set off debate about whether or not a lip-synched song is really a song, to which I say: ‘stop it’. The song that played was a song that SHE recorded, so it makes no difference either way.

The National Park Service hosts a ceremony in July at the Washington Monument to light the monument, which has been under restoration since a 2011 earthquake. Astrid Riecken / For The Washington PostThe National Park Service hosts a ceremony in July at the Washington Monument to light the monument, which has been under restoration since a 2011 earthquake.
Astrid Riecken / For The Washington Post
7. Scaffolding goes up on the Monument
Some people think that turning a grand memorial to nothing more than a construction site is gauche, but I happen to think it’s fantastic. The scaffolding around the obelisk gave it a more structured, artsy-designed look, that also happened to look extremely elegant when lit correctly. Of course, it was all up to repair the problems that came with the earthquake of 2011. It’s now down partially, which I’ll admit, does look strange.

Former D.C. Council member Michael A. Brown pled guilty to a bribery scheme - U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of ColumbiaFormer D.C. Council member Michael A. Brown pled guilty to a bribery scheme – U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia6. Councilmember busted
To cap off a series of events that saw various Councilmembers busted for wrongdoing, Michael A. Brown’s took the cake. After former Councilmember Kwame Brown was caught falsifying information on bank loan documents and his colleague Harry Thomas pleaded guilty to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars meant for city youth programs, Michael Brown took a simpler route. The FBI released photos of him accepting straight up cash payouts during a meeting at The Hamilton downtown. That picture will likely be his legacy.

Carlita Walker celebrates as she enters the Wal-Mart on Georgia Avenue. - Bonnie Jo Mount / The Washington PostCarlita Walker celebrates as she enters the Wal-Mart on Georgia Avenue. – Bonnie Jo Mount / The Washington Post5. Walmart opens in D.C.
The big box store finally landed in the city with two stores this month, after a struggle that included legislation that nearly created a living wage bill that sharply divided the D.C. Council. There are more to come, but for now, it seems the two locations already here are quite popular with those looking for falling low prices.

Mike DeBonis/The Washington PostMike DeBonis/The Washington Post4. Credit cards come to cabs
For eons, Washington’s affluent have been whining that the cash-only system that the city’s taxicabs were operating by was archaic and borderline insulting. The idea being that if you can’t use you credit card, you might as well not have cabs at all, as you know, it’s 2013. That all changed this year when the city mandated the installation of card readers in all cabs. That’s not to say that the rollout has been a smooth one, but, baby steps, folks.

“Alonzo,” the city’s first legal medical marijuana customer, displays his first purchase. Capital City Care currently offers four strains of medical cannabis, priced from $380 to $440 an ounce. - Linda Davidson/The Washington Post“Alonzo,” the city’s first legal medical marijuana customer, displays his first purchase. Capital City Care currently offers four strains of medical cannabis, priced from $380 to $440 an ounce. – Linda Davidson/The Washington Post3. Medical marijuana legalized
The District made the bold move of opening dispensaries right in Congress’ backyard, allowing for the production and sale of medical marijuana within city limits. As of right now, with such strict rules for who can be given a license, combined with doctors who don’t feel comfortable handing out prescriptions, it hasn’t quite taken off. But, given time, it’s a considerable step for a city that often butts heads with the feds.

People exit a building with their hands above their heads as police respond to the shooting at the Navy Yard. - Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty ImagesPeople exit a building with their hands above their heads as police respond to the shooting at the Navy Yard.
- Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images
2. Navy Yard shootings
A tragedy took the lives of 13 people in September, a tragedy that shook the region in a way I’ve not seen in a long time. The man who did it, a civilian contractor and U.S. Navy sailor, was killed in a gunfight with police. I happened to be on vacation at the time, and watching it from afar was bizarre. The incident, the second-largest mass killing to ever take place on an American military base is something that nobody from this area will ever forget.
Jeff Bezos visits The Washington Post newsroom. - Matt McClain/The Washington PostJeff Bezos visits The Washington Post newsroom. – Matt McClain/The Washington Post
If this seems self-serving, pardon me. But regardless of my job, this would be the story of the year. The day the sale was announced surely was a hectic one in the newsroom, but from a media landscape standpoint, for the man who revolutionized retail sales in this country to buy one of the most storied newspapers in the U.S. is pretty colossal. We’ll see what the future holds.