Random Culture Links, 4/6/11

Still trying to be off the grid.  Here’s some links that we don’t normally cover.

Best essay I’ve read on Die Hard, Nakatomi Space:

Weizman—an Israeli architect and prominent critic of that nation’s territorial policy—documents many of the emerging spatial techniques used by the Israeli Defense Forces in their high-tech, legally dubious 2002 invasion of Nablus. During that battle, Weizman writes, “soldiers moved within the city across hundred-meter-long ‘overground-tunnels’ carved through a dense and contiguous urban fabric.” Their movements were thus almost entirely camouflaged, with troop movements hidden from above by virtue of always remaining inside buildings.”….Worthy of particular emphasis is Weizman’s reference to a technique called “walking through walls”…

So why do I mention all this in the context of Die Hard? The majority of that film’s interest, I’d suggest, comes precisely through its depiction of architectural space: John McClane, a New York cop on his Christmas vacation, moves through a Los Angeles high-rise in basically every conceivable way but passing through its doors and hallways….If there is not a corridor, he makes one; if there is not an opening, there will be soon…His is an infrastructure of nearly uninhibited movement within the material structure of the building.

The film could perhaps have been subtitled “lessons in the inappropriate use of architecture,” were that not deliberately pretentious.

Speaking of moving through buildings, Portal 2 is coming out in two weeks OMG. I didn’t even know a sequel was being made, much less one about to come out.

I didn’t think the Colbert/Fallon et al cover of Friday was mean. But I always read Fallon as a fun goof who just loves doing his show and being really into things like internet memes – you can tell when he runs into the audience and really wants them to sing along.  It’s reasons like this why I like the Fallon show.

clio., on an animated gif from the Rebecca Black Friday video:

This is the very moment when the Friday video went from “haha, internet” to becoming dear to my heart.  There’s so much false teen girlness around us, so many adults trying to make adolescence into metaphor, so many teen girl characters played by 25-year-olds, so many teen singers trying to look like 25-year-olds, that we honestly forget the lovely dorkiness of actually being a teenager, even a relatively privileged teenager such as this girl.  She’s got perfectly blown-out hair and makeup and a cute little dress that I probably can’t afford, but she’s still all elbows and braces.  There’s something honest about that, in this low, dishonest decade.

Carla Fran on the genius of Louis CK’s show Louie:

This is because what he does is startling. I would offer that CK is the male Munro…just as Alice Munro catalogs how women’s lives are not made of miracles, CK would very much like to take all the gloss off, and show that plain living is made of shit and life. Under the initial layer of middle age and divorce chronicles, the show takes on what it is to be a man and the wobbles of masculinity (and not in the “should I be a dad or not” angst). He isn’t portraying rites of growth or understanding. He shows the ambiguous part of having balls. I don’t think I’ve seen anything else like it, except in key Sloppy Jane roles (again, the glorious Munro, Poppy in Happy Go Lucky, Sylvia Plath…). Our regularly scheduled schlumps (Life According to Jim, any Seth Rogen role, well, all any man starring in a movie where he is not wearing a beautifully tailored suit), don’t do this kind of work. They exist in their messes (messes that any actress would be lucky to get a chance at), but their saccharine revelations are more of a kind of fable porn, where all struggle reveals sweet lessons and profoundity: angsty confused men grow up to be good men, and thus the hard part is over. CK is already grown up. He sits in his mess, and carries on.

Lili Loofbourow digs up the first advice columns from 1691. Here’s a question and answer for you:

Q: I knew a gentlewoman who wept the first night she slept with her husband, whether was it joy, fear, or modesty that caused these tears?

A: We shall rather attribute it to a fearful modesty, than joy, or any other cause, because we find no instances of widows, when upon their marrying again have wept going to bed. Plutarch treating on modesty argues that though it be a weakness, it’s an argument of a virtuous and ingenuous soul….

Fear or modesty? A “fearful modesty.” Wow. It goes on from there.

Maria Bustillos spends three days with David Foster Wallace’s papers at the Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and writes an amazing article. Highly recommended. I’m nervous about starting the Pale King, if only because I know enough people working tax related jobs in Bloomington-Normal (near Peoria, Il.).

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