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Category Archives: PopKultur

April Fools March Forth

April Fools March Forth

I think the Jews got it right, the marking of the new year in autumn.  Leaving aside any debate about whether life begins at conception or at birth,* there’s something intuitive and irrepressibly hopeful, poetic even, about the seeds of some future beginning taking hold in autumn, lying dormant and warm beneath the earth over the cold, dark, hard winter, to nudge their vernally green buddy heads above the surface of snow-scruff and the pungent mud of spring.  Certainly more intuitive than beginning the year on January 1st – only a week or so after the longest night of the entire year; hell, only a week or so after the season of winter has technically begun – when all the world (well, the northern hemisphere) is dead, still, and frozen.  That’s supposed to represent a new beginning, then?!?  What calendrical maniac hoodwinked a whole culture to swallow hook, line, and all that the new year should begin smack dab in the chapter of death and darkness?  It just doesn’t feel right.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Waiting for Goodell

Waiting for Goodell

Never before would I have thought that “boo hoo” and “hue and cry” would come together so seamlessly, much less over something in one sentence combining sea hawks, meat packers, and prayers interceding the virgin Mary that reads in perfect syntax to any American.  Or that two such otherwise diametrically opposed figures as Governor Scott Walker and Wisconsin state Senator Jon Erpenbach — who almost ran against Walker in the recall election — would be on the same page about something that pertains to unions, workers, and contracts.  Then again, it’s not much like me to opine my two cents amongst the inflated currency of the vox populi over a topic in which none other than my own ignorance can rival my actual interest: football.  But the occasion is much too infrequent for when I can scribble about Samuel Beckett and the Green Bay Packers in one shot, so here goes…
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Watch Wear You Step

Watch Wear You Step

Before I step on any toes by inadvertently insulting anyone (great disclaimer, no?), let me hasten to showcase how slow and behind-the-times I myself am: I had not even heard of TOMS shoes until a week ago or so.  This in spite of the fact that I used to work across the street from a shoe store here in town that sold and even advertised TOMS in their window display.  I saw the unmistakable flag in the window but had no reason to put one and one together.  Frankly, the logo conjured nothing in my mind more than the national flag of Argentina…

and an inscrutable curiosity wondering what “TOMS” could be an acronym for, since it was in all-caps and without any apostrophe.

I rather suspect I am not the target audience for any consumer product, much less anything having to do with fashion, but if I had been included in some sample survey or focus group, I would never have guessed in a million years that a flag with two blue horizontal stripes separated by a white one — or a blue field emblazoned with a white stripe — with a corporate logo reading “TOMS” would have anything to do with footwear.  Indeed, just for kicks, a quick Google search of “what does TOMS stand for” brings up the following:

1.  Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer
2.  Telecom Operations Management Systems
3.  The male of various animals, such as turkeys or cats.

They b(u)yline of TOMS is “shoes for tomorrow,” so I can only infer that “toms” is short for tomorrow.  Still, as a marketing gimmick, the whole thing is lost on me — but not just for abstract advertising purposes: I myself would not buy a pair of TOMS shoes in the first place, in part because I can’t even afford the flimsy-looking things, but mostly because it represents many of the key problems with charitable giving by way of corporate profit, up to and including the irony of the law of unintended consequences together with its hell-paved path of best intentions.  Read the rest of this entry »

 

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MP3s — Not the Apple of my iPod

MP3s — Not the Apple of my iPod

When my iPod goes dead at long last, it will not be replaced by another chrome clone.  Why?  Digital music is for the dogs.  I’m done with sacrificed quality for quantity’s convenience.  I don’t know about you, but I really don’t need every song on every album by every band or composer I like with me at my disposal whenever I like.  Added to that, a small library of digital books and enough podcasts to fill in the silence it would take to space-canoe to Pluto, good lord! like I’m ever going to get to all this stuff.  Plus it’s rather unnecessary.  I am confident that at no time in the history of human beings did average people (i.e., not technocrats) say something like:
“Say Bill, you know what would be a real improvement to my daily life?”
“Naw, what’s that, Betty?”
“A tiny device I could fit in my hand that would store all of my music, Bill, all my music as well as radio programs, plays, books, newspaper articles, lectures, photographs, videos…  Or better yet, all on my telephone!”
“Hold on there, cousin Betty!  That’s just crazy talk!”

Like the computer itself, the iPod is a solution to no known problem. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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May D(ay) in China

May D(ay) in China

Each year on the near-south side of Milwaukee a few hundred folks gather together to commemorate the Bay View Tragedy, the bloodiest day — May 5 1886 — in the history of the labor movement in Wisconsin.  I won’t bother rehashing the clash right now (you’re welcome to read about it here).  Instead, I would like to reconsider it in the context of our contemporary world, from Fox News and Foxconn to Scott Walker and Steve Jobs.  Read the rest of this entry »

 

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The Agony and the Ecstasy (But Mostly the Agony) of Mike Daisey

The Agony and the Ecstasy (But Mostly the Agony) of Mike Daisey

Mike Daisey likes to talk.  A lot.  You get the impression pretty quickly that the actor/ performance artist is maybe more than a smidge self-absorbed.  No doubt this must come from the turf of doing solo theatre, one-man monologues that can easily run past three hours, night after night.  Them’s alotta words.  And that might be part of the problem, but the cure for monologorrhea isn’t only using fewer words; it’s making damn sure they are the right ones. The other part of the problem is when you fuse your zest for flair with a truth quest, mingling ego’s ambition with the greater collective good.  If you already think you’re pretty good at saying something, and you have found something genuinely important to say, one’s soapbox becomes a powder keg.  This isn’t necessarily bad; deployed wisely, you just might have an idea that can change the world.  But used incompetently, the mea culpa of your grand finale monologue may well be what is etched on your professional epitaph, summed up glibly in just one word: “Sorry.”
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Errant go-Broad

Errant go-Broad

The morning-after musings on St. Paddy’s day and other such hangovers by a Celtic curmudgeon…

Now here’s a span for us to distinguish,
An emerald clan that’s too oft diminished —
From sinners and squalor
Came saints and then scholars
Who write and talk the best (but ain’t) English.
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