Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Say What?

Interesting things in the Times:

1. Here's a strong review (by M.K.) of the new Eggers book, What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng.

2. Virginia Heffernan has a smart take on the past virtues of Gilmore Girls and its current mediocrity. (A few weeks ago, I tuned in, wasn't digging it, and then realized, I don't have to watch this! Nobody is forcing me!)
Casual viewers have typically complained about the show’s stylized dialogue, poseur diction and references seemingly inspired by Bartlett’s and Roget’s. Well, for them, it should all go down easier now. The new show is run by David Rosenthal, a television writer who was famous chiefly for a 2001 morbidly obsessive play about Heidi Klum that Bruce Weber in The New York Times called “not only offensive but also incompetent.” On his “Gilmore Girls,” people lead and follow: one person talks, and the other sighs, frowns or chuckles. The sound mix is especially thick with that chuckling that signals what’s funny. I keep thinking that if Rory and Lorelai, those unsentimental brainiacs, could see this show, they’d hate it.
And this strikes me as a perfect read on the purpose of the trademark rapid-fire dialogue:

Indeed, that was the charm of the old show: women, fundamentally women without men, were compelled to talk as fast as they could to keep their loneliness at bay. The virtue of Ms. Sherman-Palladino’s shticky style was that it created characters who were new to television. In their purest incarnations, Lorelai and Rory shared the witty woman’s challenge: to architect a wall of words so high and so thick that no silence, no stares, no intimations of mortality or even love could penetrate it.

All TV criticism should be this good!

3. And finally...James Taylor? Yes! His Rube Goldbergian drum machine—take a look!

He says: "It’s a revolving drum with big fins attached to the outside that activate and actually play the drums for four bars. It scared the hell out of me the first time we used it, but it works great."

If this has whetted your appetite for primitive (and perfectly useless) precision instruments, read Charlie Suisman's delightful mini-essay and link roundup at Manhattan User's Guide.

* * *

The Guardian's podcast: A talk with William Boyd, talking mostly about Any Human Heart, one of my favorite novels of the past x years.


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