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Friday, December 09, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"In my guestimation the GOP primary ultimately plays out something like this: Romney makes it into the top tier in Iowa, maybe third, quite possibly second -- no big deal, as he has lowered expectations already -- and then wins New Hampshire. New Hampshire is the key to Mitt's campaign, the place where the Team Romney makes its stand. I wouldn't be surprised that someone as -- how does one say this? -- calculating as Mitt Romney didn't think of Wolfboro for a second home because of the added bonus of the Presidential campaign calendar. New Hampshire is also where, in all likelihood, another Mormon on the trail, Jon Huntsman, will make his concession speech saying that he would never have forgiven himself if he didn't give it a try. Mitt Romney has an 11 acre estate in Wolfeboro, was Governor of neighboring Massachusetts (most of the New Hampshire population lives in the Boston media market) and is thus a known quality in the state. Next up: the South. Romney will lose South Carolina GOP primary, because he is simply not conservative enough and because he is not Christian enough. At around that time Mitt will be rolling out a shitload of endorsements - those carefully cultivated IOUs that he has kept close to his chest. Those will minimize the blow, make him look inevitable even while he is having his ass handed to him south of the Mason-Dixon line. That steady stream of endorsements will jettison Mitt into Florida at the end of January and give him just the right kind of momentum into Super Tuesday. The endorsements -- from party superheavyweights like Jebby and Chris Chrystie -- and the great money advantage should put him over. This is all good so as long as Ron Paul doesn't win Iowa. In that event all theoretical bets are off." (Ron Mwangaguhunga)



"The collection of tarps and tents went up in the northern part of Foley Square late on Thursday, flanked by the State Supreme Court building to the east and the federal building to the west. There were placards decrying war and greed. There was a library set up with rows of books and a kitchen, replete with a sign that read 'End the War on Workers' and rows of metal shelves to hold food. The tableau bore an uncanny resemblance to the Occupy Wall Street encampment that sprung up in Zuccotti Park a few blocks to the south in mid-September and lasted there until it was cleared by the police on Nov. 15. But a sandwich board set up near the tents identified them as props for a television show, 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,' that is known for finding inspiration in actual events.'All items in the park will be removed immediately upon completion of filming,' the sign read. But the tents and booths and anticorporate slogans came down before the 'Law & Order' crew could arrive, done in by actual Occupy Wall Street protesters who saw the set as a stage for political theater. The first protesters entered the set at midnight, stepping over yellow tape and brushing off objections from a few people guarding the area. Soon more than 100 people were inside Foley Square. Some crawled into tents and lay down. Others crowded into the middle of the ersatz encampment and danced while pounding drums and waving flags. One man picked up a Twain volume from the library tent.Several others made a beeline for the kitchen, where they helped themselves to muffins and a jar of pickles, among other delicacies. 'We thought we would bring some extras down and add some reality to this show,' said Aaron Black, 38, from Brooklyn. 'Why should they be able to put tents up in a public park when we are unable to do that?'" (CityRoom)

"Since its premiere back before many of us were born, each episode of NBC’s Saturday Night Live has featured a relatively fixed mix of content. There will be the topical sketches inspired by the news of the week, the comedic impressions of figures from pop culture, and whatever recurring formats and characters the show hasn’t yet (or already has) run into the ground. Because of this 36-year-and-counting repeating pattern, the regular viewer can make some reasonably educated guesses about the material an upcoming episode is likely to contain — and so, the SNL Sketch Predictor was born. (Thanks to the late blog Sling.com, where the technology was first developed.) Each week the Sketch Predictor will factor in the recent news, host's talents, and frequency and recency of current popular bits in order to anticipate the format of the night. Its accuracy will be gauged every Sunday on Vulture's SNL recap. Here is the Predictor's take on tomorrow's Katy Perry episode. (Note: Obviously, the Sketch Predictor is unable to foretell the occasional random original 12:54 a.m. sketches that were clearly conceived in a late-night haze and are often the funniest thing on the show.) 11:29 p.m. Cold open: On a plane waiting for takeoff, an aggressive flight attendant (Kristen Wiig) abuses passenger Alec Baldwin (cameo as himself) for playing a game on his phone, ignoring other passengers who are obviously in the process of trying to sabotage the plane." (NYMag)

"Much of the fun in these rather bitchy back-and-forths is seeing literary heavyweights get just this peevish. In 1999, Philip Roth wrote a letter to the magazine to complain about the precise wording of a sentence by John Updike—which he thought gave too much credit to his ex-wife. 'Mr. Roth’s imagined revisions sound fine to me,' Updike replied, 'but my own wording conveys, I think, the same sense of one-sided allegations.' In other words: 'Why, Mr. Roth, can’t you read?' In order to truly sieze the upper hand in such a reply, brevity is important: It suggests that the long-winded complaints of the letter-writer are not really worth troubling with. For that reason, I have to dock Edmund Wilson’s notorious attempt to dismiss Vladimir Nabokov on the subject of Russian translation, despite Wilson’s amusing last line ('I am rather surprised to find [Nabokov] recommending the pronunciation of Minsk'). Plus Wilson wasn’t able to stop even there, writing another reply a month later. And Nabokov took Wilson effectively apart in his 'Reply to My Critics.'" (Slate)


"In a far cry from his ragtag 2008 effort, Ron Paul is looking beyond the traditional early state contests and gearing up for a long primary slog that lasts at least through Super Tuesday. It’s a strategy that could make Paul a player at the Republican convention in Tampa, Fla. The Texas congressman’s long-haul approach is designed to take advantage of new GOP proportional allocation rules that enable candidates to amass delegates without finishing in first place, and to leverage the unique attributes of his campaign — an intensely loyal following and a steady flow of money that will likely enable him to continue for as long as he chooses. Paul has already put teams in place in 12 caucus states through March 6, when about a dozen Republican primaries and caucuses will take place. On Wednesday, the campaign announced five office openings: Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, North Dakota and Washington. None of it means Paul is dismissive of the early states. Rather, he’s assembled an infrastructure aimed at giving him staying power and a voice at the national convention — a strategic approach that few other candidates besides Mitt Romney are pursuing at the moment." (Politico)


"David Roth: A film about Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung and ostensibly weird sex, from a director who has spent his career making films about how terrified/fascinated/aroused/disgusted/disgusto-roused humans are by their bodies and what they do and the horrible things that come out of them. So why, Maria Bustillos, would the two things I remember most from A Dangerous Method be 1) how cruel my female friends were about Keira Knightley's breasts and 2) the nagging question of whether David Cronenberg is trying to make interesting movies anymore? Maria Bustillos: A film worth seeing, I thought—though not one worth talking about until after, so I'm glad we waited. I suspect that Cronenberg is going for 'edgy' more than interesting. But the ethical underpinnings here are vanilla in the extreme. (Also: it is always refreshing to see a woman in a movie who hasn't been made to look like a Bratz doll.) DR: It's just strange to get something this stodgy from the guy who spent his first two decades of movie-making finding new ways to turn teeth into guns that, like, shoot penises at people. That dude is now the guy who made a movie in which Freud, whose turf he has been working for decades, actually appears as a character, but which is also somehow totally free of any actual perversity or perversion or life. MB: So you liked it, then." (Maria Bustillos and David Roth/TheAwl)


"Each day, for 268 days, there have been the same videos: Syrians coming come out of the woodwork, filling alleys in previously quiescent neighborhoods. They have become experts in the art of protest, employing ornate signs and candles to call for the end of Bashar al-Assad's regime and, increasingly, the president's execution. They are killed in steadily increasing numbers -- more than 4,000 by last count, according to the United Nations. Who represents these protesters is a matter of dispute -- a Syrian opposition delegation was memorably pelted with eggs in Cairo last month by fellow anti-regime activists who objected to the group's apparent willingness to negotiate with the Assad regime. But who the protesters are is no mystery: They are the product of an extraordinary demographic boom in Syria that has left huge swathes of the country disenfranchised and poor. And they are very angry. From the 1960s to the early 1990s, Syria boasted one of the most rapidly expanding populations in the world. The country's population doubled from 5.3 million in 1963 to 10.6 million in 1986, and then more than doubled again during the past quarter-century, to approximately 23 million. Before birth rates began falling in the mid-1980s, only two countries -- Yemen and Rwanda -- had higher fertility rates, according to Youssef Courbage, a researcher at the National Institute for Demographic Studies in Paris, in a paper titled 'Fertility Transition in Syria.'" (ForeignPolicy)

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