Category: Popular Culture

Sexless Marriage

According to the bus stop advertisements and billboards around town, another disposable situation comedy is about to make its debut on network television. The conceit of this one, called “‘Til Death Do Us Part,” is that his adorable wife henpecks a regular guy (the aggressively unfunny Brad Garrett) to the point of emasculation. The tag...

The Problem with Cirque d’Soleil

Montreal’s famed “circus without animals” has delighted audiences around the globe with its amalgam of acrobatics, clowning, original music, and spectacular lighting effects — all without tortured elephants and disgruntled tigers. The company — or, more accurately, the corporation — has as a hand in seemingly every other show in Las Vegas, where its productions...

Poker in Perspective

The World Series of Poker main event — the world championship — begins on July 28th. I’ll be playing in it for the fifth time, after a hiatus of several years. When I first joined the competition, in the late 90s, I think there were fewer than 300 entrants. This year the organizers are expecting...

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...