- - Monday, October 25, 2010

The new NPR

“Around the same time Republican leaders started staging their ‘We’re Going To Defund NPR’ show, The New York Review of Books published a lengthy appreciation of public radio by Bill McKibben. There’s a good deal to disagree with in the piece, particularly in the introduction, which praises some of the blandest programs in the noncommercial section of the dial. (Sorry, but if I’m ‘searching for thoughtful and nonpartisan culture,’ I’m not going to tune in to The Diane Rehm Show.)

“But I agree with McKibben’s core argument: that ever-cheaper production tools, Internet distribution, and the influence of ‘This American Life’ have combined to create a new form of public radio. To McKibben, ‘this is the perfect moment to be a young radiohead. It’s like 1960s and 1970s cinema, with auteurs rewriting the rules. New technology lets you make radio programs cheaply: Pro Tools sound-editing software has now replaced much of the equipment used in big, expensive studios.’”

Jesse Walker, writing on “That Show By Those Hipster Know-It-Alls Who Talk About How Fascinating Ordinary People Are,” on Oct. 25 at the Reason blog Hit and Run

The sad Jean-Claude

Jean-Claude Van Damme
Jean-Claude Van Damme more >

“Bruce Willis winces, Jason Statham mouths off, Arnold Schwarzenegger quips and gets irritated, Jackie Chan mugs earnestly, Steven Seagal swings his ego like a big distended gut — but only Jean-Claude Van Damme gets frustrated, looks scared, cries, stares off into the distance, shrugs, sighs, yelps in pain.

“The negative image of all other action stars, who are defined by degrees of persistence, only Van Damme can lower his eyes and look as though he’ll never raise them. Sure, Sylvester Stallone gets sad, but only Van Damme is ever miserable. … Emotion crawls out at odd angles from the cracks and crags around his eyelids and nose, and his forehead swells up red like a slab of beef. Van Damme’s reactions come out through every pore of his skin, and, like the great silent actors of the past … he brings every muscle in his face into precise alignment.

“For an action star, Van Damme has an unbearably sad face — and like Buster Keaton’s blank mug, it’s only gets sadder as he ages — but then again Van Damme has always been an anomaly: he’s no good at delivering one-liners, he isn’t terrifying and he looks ridiculous holding a gun. Unlike, say, Schwarzenegger, he looks exactly like a guy you [mess] with: small, pretty, vulnerable, resigned to a life of getting punched in the face. The sadsack ass-kicker, with great big insomniac bags under his eyes.”

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, writing on “Van Damme and the Action Stars,” on Oct. 23 at Mubi

Avoiding the rush

“Deanna Favre made a quick promotional tour on Thursday morning for her new book, visiting ‘Fox and Friends’ and ‘Good Morning America.’ It’s the first time the wife of Brett Favre has spoken in public since her husband was accused of sending salacious text messages to a fellow Jets employee in 2008. Much like the ol’ gunslinger, Deanna played it close to the vest. She deflected questions about the ongoing investigation and managed to deftly turn the most difficult (and obvious question) of the morning into a pitch for her book.

“Deanna was asked how she was handling the allegations against her husband: ‘Well, I won’t go into anything personal, but faith really is my crutch. It’s always been my crutch. It gets me through. It got me through many struggles, as you can read in “The Cure for the Chronic Life,” and that’s the reason Shane and I wrote this book.’ In the book, Favre and hemophiliac pastor Shane Stanford lay out a 40-day plan that is intended to help readers cope with chronic conditions. It’s Deanna’s second book.”

Chris Chase, writing on “Brett Favre’s wife doesn’t want to talk about it either,” on Oct. 21 at the Yahoo Sports blog Shutdown Corner