What in the name of all that is food IS this? I can’t tell if I’m more put off by the directionless commercial or the fact that Taco Bell thinks that its food service standards and culinary excellence have led them, naturally, to the crowded table of watery, tasteless farmed shrimp.
What is this commercial trying to say exactly? Is it poking fun of itself? The notion of a “shrimp blogger” scouring all the corners of the earth for palate-pleasing plankton (I am aware shrimp are actually benthic and feed on plankton so are therefore not plankton. But if I’d been trying to be biologically accurate, I wouldn’t have been able to use such amusing alliteration. So I’ll call it prosaic license. Though, I suppose I could’ve gone with “palate-pleasing prawn” but in that instance I lose the internal consonance of the letter “L” and also introduce a rhythmic imbalance by ending the rhyme on a monosyllable.) would lead me to think that a tongue-in-cheek approach is being used.
If my friend and Curator Magazine editor, Alissa Wilkinson was late to the “Media Diet” party, then I am, without a doubt, a crasher. That being the case, however, I still want to take a bit of time here to record the specifics of my own media ingestion. I find, as I’m sure every other writer who has engaged in this exercise has, that it is a mildly self-serving endeavor. But even more that, I’ve found myself deeply interested, not only in the writers I follow or care about like Alissa or, at The Atlantic, Susan Orlean and a number of others, but in the reading habits of most anyone who cares to divulge.
The reason for this, I think, is that we are in a time of transition of how we consume media. Almost every writer who shares his or her media diet notes this, as I will too. So, without further ado, my media diet:
I’m a loyal person. I like to find one way to do a thing and then stick to it, to make it my routine. In that way, I’m also a creature of habit, so figuring out my routine is not only a necessity, it’s an obsession. And it’s a work in progress. Despite my hunch that there has to be a better way, I am betrothed to Google Reader. I’ve even tried the varied ways to make Google Reader friendlier such as using Feedly to “pretty up” my RSS feed. But, unfortunately, that fell flat. When Google introduced Fast Flip, I thought that may be the answer, but the fact that it doesn’t work on just any site I wish killed that option too. When Sessions posted a few months back that he was forsaking Reader for good old-fashioned bookmarks I tried to follow suit, but soon found that I missed having articles served to me. My latest compromise has been to use the “Next” bookmarklet in Reader. This allows me to choose some of my most necessary feeds and flip through them, viewing the actual web page instead of the ugly Reader interface and it also has the residual benefit of removing the constant pressure from the “unread” counter.
So each morning begins with a few (hundred) obsessive clicks around the Internet. Among my top reads are Engadget, NYTimes, The Daily Beast, HuffPost and Religious Dispatches. From there I check Twitter to see what interesting pieces might have slipped through the cracks and also to get my friends’ recommendations from around the web. Then, throughout the day I repeat this routine, sometimes choosing to click my “Next – Culture” or “Next – Books” bookmarklet to see only stories that I’ve categorized as such.
When it comes time to get out of apartment (where I work in the mornings) and onto the train, I toss a physical book into my bag (right now it’s McLaren’s A New Kind of Christianity, expect some thoughts soon) and my iPhone in my pocket. It would be an understatement to say that my phone is my new portable media hub. I can access articles I saved using Instapaper’s “Read Later” bookmarklet offline, or check Twitter or Google Reader when I’m online. On top of that I’m also in the midst of a (so far) successful reading experiment in which I’m reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s A Thousand Splendid Suns in its entirety on the Kindle app on my iPhone. I was skeptical, but this has been a great way to decrease the weight of my bag and sneak in a few pages whenever I can. I will definitely keep this up.
On a related note, I have a list a mile long of books that I’m reading and/or want to read. And with my new gig as a book reviewer for The Star-Ledger, the hits keep coming. I’m currently whittling down 8 potential candidates to 5 reads for my first piece covering religion-related books.
When I had to drive to work I used to listen NPR every morning and I truly miss this. I’ve tried a few things such as streaming my local station while I work or listening to podcasts, but neither has caught on. I’m a reader and so if I have anything to read at hand (which, as you can see, I always do) I can’t just listen. Though I’m sure my eyes would thank me for the break if I did.
Additionally, my wife and I subscribe to a few print periodicals such as the New York Times Weekend edition, which we read throughout the week, as well as The New Yorker and Vanity Fair. Honestly, these don’t get read nearly as much as I wish they did, but who has the time? We also are members of Audible.com so we have a glut of unread (un-listened to) audio books. Again, I consumed these at a much faster rate when I was driving everyday.
I must also note that while all of this reading is happening there is a constant soundtrack, mostly from my own iTunes library which I’m obsessive about maintaing and which features selections from nearly every genre (although, I’m not big on classical). Sometimes, when I’m tired of my own collection and there’s nothing new on my radar, I flip over to Pandora to potentially discover something to add to my library.
Nighttime is when I catch up on television and movies. “Caprica” and “Parenthood” have joined the old Hulu standby’s “The Office,” SNL and “30 Rock” to comprise, with the occasional late night Daily Show/Colbert Report, my (online) television watching. And Netflix features (often documentaries) fill in the gaps when there’s nothing new on Hulu.
I’ve said on more than one occasion that if I could make media consumption my full-time and well paying job, I would. In the meantime, I’m fortunate to have a work situation that allows for a lot of media consumption in the cracks between and even, in some cases, pays me a little money to do it.
Contra Kathleen Parker and several commenters on this blog, the health care bill did nothing to change the landscape of federally funded abortion in the United States. As Emily Bazelon explains here, everything will remain the same: “Poor women get state funding for abortions in the 17 states that provide it. Everywhere else, they’ll continue to pay their own way.”
Will Saletan makes an even more thorough case here that the abortion debate in the health care negotations was a complete red herring. There was never a substantive difference between the Stupak and Nelson amendments that were parsed at such length by social conservatives, who had no intention of supporting the bill anyway.
All that to say, I’m glad this nonsense is more or less behind us.
How excited do I get about March Madness? Each year, as I fill out my bracket I find myself humming the Christmas tune “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” I arrange my schedule and, if necessary, cancel social events to ensure that I can watch as many games as possible. I listen to Dick Vitale’s commentary and find no hint of exaggeration or obnoxiousness; on the contrary, Dick has the unique ability to verbalize everything I am feeling deep in my heart as I watch these games.
What is it about the NCAA tournament that makes it arguably the most exciting sporting event of the year? Maybe it’s that everyone in your office from the ex-jock salesman to the 75-year-old receptionist has the chance to win a couple hundred bucks and bragging rights for an entire year. But more than this, I think what makes March Madness such a spectacle its inherent cruelty.
Think about it: A 64-team single elimination tournament is unparalleled in all of sports. While NBA, MLB and NHL playoffs drag on for months with the same teams playing seven games to determine a winner, a college hoops team’s tournament life could potentially be over in less than 2 hours. Even the World Cup allows some room for error, and these are the best players in the world. But not the NCAA, one missed shot from an 18-year-old kid could seal the fate of every player on the team.
This format means that everyone’s got a shot, from the usuals like Duke or Kansas to schools you’ve probably never heard of like St. Mary’s or Wofford. Cheering on these no-name teams as they take on the giants of the NCAA is one of the most exciting, most American elements March Madness.
Craig Carozza-Caviness knows how to throw a party. The artist known as Incwell blends traditional rap/hip hop with a full floor rock and roll sound that can make even the stiffest of caucasian boys shake.
I didn’t plan on making it over to the Strathmore on that nasty Friday night, but while doing the line by line for the listings of the Express, I came across the show, thought it sounded interesting, listened to a few tracks and then hit Incwell up so we could preview the show.
No surprise to anyone who halfway knows me, I’m not the bigget fan of rap/hip-hop(whatever you want to call that general sphere of music). Kanye grabbed white people with sticky hooks and sweet melodies, but live, it’s hard to translate the appeal of those spit-flying lines and bass thumping moments.
photo by Adrian Bischoff
This past Monday I experienced a rite of passage necessary for every person that grew up in the Christian “scene” of the 90′s — I saw my first David Bazan show. I went there with the knowledge that I would write about it here on Patrol, but I had a very different plan originally.
I swore to myself I would not focus on his past, his angst, his doubt, his lyrics, or how Christians should “understand him.” These topics have been discussed ad nauseam by every twenty-something-remotely-religious blogger out there. This very publication is no exception, though it has contained, in my opinion, the best writing on the topic I have found. In fact, the first article I ever read on Patrol was this one on Bazan’s initial growing doubt and agnosticism. Patrol has gone on to feature articles about a recent show Bazan did in New York and an analysis of the lyrical content of his newest album, Curse Your Branches. Indeed, a search for the phrase “bazan” will bring up no less than fifteen articles containing his name (though not all of the articles are directly talking about him). My point is this: we spiritually inclined “post”-everything evangelicals(?) care about this man, his music, and his heart.
I have no problem admitting my bromance with Jamie Oliver. I’ve written about it elsewhere.
Stalkerishly, I tuned in to see the sneak peek of his new show, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, on ABC last Sunday night.
I laughed, I cried (literally), and I was blown away by Pastor Steve Willis of First Baptist Church of Kenova. I can’t remember the last time I saw an actual pastor on TV not willfully (or ignorantly) make himself – and by extension Christendom – a mockery.
Pastor Steve, fed up with seeing his congregation basically die from eating too much crap for far too long, is tackling gluttony from the pulpit, advocating his flock eat a little more grass and a little less fat. (My words, not his.)
At 17:00 in the first episode, Jamie, downtrodden from apathetic lunch ladies who don’t see any problem feeding kids processed piles of chemicals masquerading as food, visits Pastor Steve’s church on a Sunday morning.
See, D.C. burned this weekend, but Scotland and I stayed out of the flames.
While health care occupied every tiny blot of news print over the weekend, we just tried to find some untainted rays of sunshine out in Great Falls. It’s not that I don’t care about what’s happening in our great halls of government, I’m just a little cynical about the circus that the District devolved to over the weekend.
Sunday morning, driving to church, my girlfriend and I felt like we were driving through a collection of sideshows. On your right, there was Cindy Sheehan’s anti-war protest tents and mock cemetery to remember the fallen in Afghanistan and Iraq. Apparently no one bothered to tell Cindy that we have a cemetery just up the road in Arlington.
Oh, and when it comes to remembering the fallen, I have much less anger over the death of men and women who volunteered to serve in our armed forces, than the death of the myriads of babies from abortion in America, who weren’t given a chance to decide how they would live their lives.
Count up your little white markers and see which one comes out higher, Cindy.
There was a steady stream of people protesting the lack of change immigration policies that Obama seems to have conveniently forgotten.
Then there were the people angry about this little bill being pushed through the House of Representatives.
I don’t have a screed on Why the Democrats Convinced Me to Oppose the Bill, but I do have a few points on why I’m struggling to believe the narrative that emerged over the weekend.
“The 59 Sound” was one of the best summer albums dropped in recent memory, and if the muscle-filled chords of the new single are any indication, this album will be blasted from car speakers all driving summer long.
Get on it.
Tracklist for “American Slang”:
1. American Slang
2. Stay Lucky
3. Bring It On
4. The Diamond Church Street Choir
5. The Queen of Lower Chelsea
8. Old Haunts
9. The Spirit Of Jazz
10. We Did It When We Were Young
About a month ago Mark Driscoll made a bit of stir when he called Avatar the most “demonic, satanic film I have ever seen.” I dismissed this allegation as just another paranoid condemnation of pop culture by a religious reactionary, but it did remind me that I probably ought to go see it before it left the theaters.
Having finally sat through the over-hyped spectacle last weekend, I have to admit that Driscoll is not completely wrong in his allegations of heavy-handed, politically loaded filmmaking. To call Avatar’s message “thinly veiled” would be generous. To call it a preachy, new–age-hippie-turned-huge-Hollywood-sell-out pet project seems more accurate.
Where I disagree with Driscoll is when he claims, “The visuals are amazing because Satan wants you to connect with the lie.” Well, as a writer I may be biased, but I think people throughout the ages have connected more with great stories than great visuals (case in point: the smoke monster from Lost looks lame, yet we somehow take it seriously because we are so wrapped up in the story).
I have this to say to Mark Driscoll: if the Devil made a movie, it would be a whole lot better than Avatar.
Last night’s health care bill is without a doubt historic legislation. But historic doesn’t equal good, and all those in the thrall of victory should remember just how little this bill addresses the systemic problems in our health care industry. I’m glad it passed. Insurance reforms, however paltry, are crucial. The new spending in this bill is also paltry in comparison to what health care will already cost the government in the next decade. But the bill is based on expanding insurance, rather than abolishing it, and pretty much lets the costs keep running wild. As Noam Chomsky said this morning, it is better than what we’ve got, but it still reinforces the system’s primary ills. Obama will not, I’m afraid, be the last president faced with a health care crisis.
But for me—I guess just like for Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner and everyone else who delivered portentous absurdities about the implications of this reform—this battle was about something bigger. It was about what we are going to do with government in an age where public trust is at an all-time low and yet is desperately needed to take on the huge, deep-set problems we keep on putting off. As both a commentator and a citizen, I am looking for someone—anyone—who will defend the valid, vital role of government in a free society, and in a way, the Democrats’ almost quixotic quest for health reform felt like someone standing up for what needs to be done, no matter how thoroughly the public misunderstood and how deliberately the opposition encouraged them to do so.
- No public Twitter messages.
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