Category: Popular Culture

An Inconvenient Truth

Global warming is not a speculative theory. It’s a proven syndrome, despite what so-called “skeptics” (read: those with financial interests in carbon dioxide producing industries) claim. Former vice-president of the United States, and possibly the rightfully elected president in 2000, Al Gore, has toured the world for years giving a power-point slide show that cogently...

A Fine Mess at the FCC

Last week President Bush signed legislation that will increase the fines broadcasters pay when their programming exceeds “the bounds of decency.” For language or imagery the Federal Communications Commission doesn’t like, the over-the-air media faces penalties as high as $325,000 per incident — a 1000% increase beyond the former maximum. This legislation is the climax...

Sections of the Newspaper

The first section — the “A” section — of the Los Angeles Times, focuses on international news and domestic stories of national interest. It is here that one learns how ugly and cruel life is for most of our brothers and sisters living in places other than America and Europe. The next section is the...

The Power of Illogic

Lost among the impassioned finger-pointing that has accompanied the opening of “The Da Vinci Code,” the blockbuster movie based on the blockbuster book, is an alarming trend gripping our society’s discourse (or lack thereof): the inclination to justify one’s position without offering reasonable justification. Organized religion has been pulling this trick with no small measure...

The Sure Thing Called Imitation

The movies that most Americans watch are like the music most Americans listen to, which are like the television shows most Americans prefer and the books most Americans purchase (but don’t have time to actually read). They’re all, in varying degrees, imitations of something that came before and had some measure of commercial success. The...

Why Entertainers Earn So Much Money

A friend who appears on a highly-rated situation comedy on television told me that every time he gets his weekly paycheck he feels as though he’s stolen something. He earns more in one week of inspired buffoonery than most people earn in a year, but even if his pay was half — or a quarter,...

The N Word

The Los Angeles Times, in a recent review of a live concert, mentioned that the rapper Kanye West performed one of his songs in a “G-rated” version. The audience, however, sang the choruses for him including the original lyrics, which, the reporter noted, contain numerous mentions of “the N-word.” Stories about West in the paper...

The Life Coach

Not long ago a new instructor at the local gym introduced herself as a Pilates teacher, kickboxing trainer, and life coach. This being Los Angeles, all three professions are common, but the life coaching bit is a newer phenomenon, newer even than pierced lips. I don’t know what training one needs to become a life...

Learning from Piracy

In a gesture of international goodwill — and because there’s a big trade meeting coming up — the Chinese government recently shut down an enormous bazaar in Shanghai that exclusively offered counterfeit goods. Merchants and shoppers admitted to reporters that the closure would be momentarily inconvenient but that the bazaar would soon move to another...

Vocalizing Versus Singing

Beautiful vocalizing is often mistaken for beautiful singing. Both sonic phenomena require the production of a ringing tone that exploits the peculiar vibration of the ligaments and muscles — the cords — at the back of the human mouth. Both require an acute sensitivity to intonation (being “in tune”). And both demand a steady flow...