Here is my latest article for Mobility Lab. It's part one of a two-part series that is helping me contextualize in my head the panel I'm moderating in two weeks at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas called "How to Uber-ize Public Transit to Save It."
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
That's the power of rock 'n' roll, and also presents the sad facts that I must be getting older and it's been way too long since I've been to a concert.
Regardless of how long it's been since I've seen a show, there was no denying how awesome this one was. Also, despite the fact that the Courts didn't play my very favorite song, "Stoned and Starving," it was far from any kind of let down. Here's their set list, and definite highlights were "Human Performance," "Dear Ramona," "Berlin Got Blurry," and "One Man No City," to somehow name a few.
Parquet Courts is my favorite contemporary rock band these days, alongside long-time titleholder Wilco and Foxygen, which I'm seeing next month. Stay tuned on that one. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Despite all his problems in recent years, I still consider Woody Allen pretty rock 'n' roll. Although not among my favorite of his prime-era classics, 1982's A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy, received a rewatch this week, and it holds up relatively well as a Shakespearean take-off. It didn't make my top 21 Woody Allen films, and it's a little slow by today's movie standards, but it's somehow still 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Another classic I rewatched this week, since my son is now old enough to start watching some key film milestones, was Raiders of the Lost Ark. Little needs to be said about this 5-star flick that came in 17th on my list of all-time favorite movies.
The Age of Innocence, lastly, offered some rock 'n' roll via the classic novel. I still love the 1993 film version with Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder, but really, how could those actors mess up with a script this juicy? Newland Archer battles his whole life over cousins May and Ellen, in true Betty and Veronica love-triangle fashion. However, the "innocence" of the era's social structure makes it impossible for him to ever end up with his true love. This may sounds rom-com, but oh no, everyone should read this page turner before they die. 5 out of 5 stars.
Sunday, February 12, 2017
The Super Bowl set up a pretty phenomenal pop-culture week, with its satisfying ending for anyone who loves high drama but its very unsatisfying ending for those who still retained a glimpse of hope that the Steelers would remain the greatest football franchise of all time instead of the Patriots.
It was the rare event that brings the nation together in a common conversation, like All in the Family and, to a lesser extent, Seinfeld, used to do.
My favorite magazine read of the week was "The Social Medium is the Message" in WIRED's special section of the 49 trends that will shape the very near future. It looked at how we need to seriously re-examine our Facebook and Twitter use. In a country still tragically lacking in media literacy (how we use and can understand media), Marshall McLuhan would have recognized Donald Trump's Twitter propaganda as eerily similar to how fascist leaders of the 1940s spoke to their citizens. Further, he would have recognized how our avalanche of information and misinformation (heavy thanks to social media) could foster fear and anger about the world.
Another example of how our society has gone from major to meta is Archie Andrews. Long ago, every kids read the comic-book in the newspaper or watched him on TV, but nowadays, he's just another of the many dozens of shows that premier each week. But man is Riverdale a good one, and it is my favorite TV show of the week. It takes Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead, and all the other players to deep, dark places in ways the comic books never did. It's like a new remake of 90210, but only much better than that recent semi-fiasco and much more suspenseful.
a promising early career. I know he's sort of like the Tom Brady of actors to many people and Deadpool is like the Superhero Super Bowl to some, and I appreciated it's yearning to be a different, more adult version of a superhero movie. But it's just too winking-nudge-nudge-hipster for my tastes. There are some fun scenes, but Deadpool is the most boring movie of the week. Cool-looking Spider Man-looking knock off though. 2.5 out of 5 stars.
For what very well may be the most boring (but important) article I wrote for the week, see
"New services are moving fast, and cities are looking to update procurement processes to keep up." It could definitely make the ears of government groupies pop up.
And finally, now that football is over, the world of college basketball is starting to seriously heat up. It continued to be a rough year using my season tickets to Georgetown games. In what often seems like a talented team with Coach John Thompson III not necessarily all there, the Hoyas at least had a little fight in losing at home in overtime to Seton Hall and then on the road to #2 Villanova. My teams completed the win-challenged week with North Carolina barely losing at Duke.
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
But then I discovered the Wheaton AMC just up the road. Movies before noon are $5, seats are massive leather recliners, there's a bar (haven't hit that up yet), and there's a sweet Vietnamese bahn mi sandwich joint across the street.
A summary of some of the movies I've seen recently, some at Wheaton and some elsewhere:
- La La Land: I don't like a ton of movie musicals, so this was a tough one to take in some ways. There are a lot of things I liked about this multi-award winner. But Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are fantastic as the romantic leads. The plot is a little light and some of the songs aren't very good, but I like how the movie moralizes that life is usually not much like Hollywood. I don't think it is the best movie of the year, but it will probably win the Oscar in a few weeks. 4 out of 5 stars.
- As a footnote, the movie musicals I like most are, in no particular order: The Wizard of Oz, West Side Story, anything with Travolta, This is Spinal Tap, South Park, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, what I know of Hamilton, Willy Wonka, Annie, I suppose the Julie Andrews stuff, and Sing Street.
- Sing Street: This is the best musical I've seen in a while. It's sort of the Irish version of School of Rock and features beautiful rock songs. 5 out of 5 stars.
- Hidden Figures: What a story. I may be secretly cheering for this on Oscar night. The unheralded (until now) African-American women who played such a crucial role in NASA's golden era of space travel is truly inspiring, especially in today's entirely uninspiring political climate. 4 out of 5 stars.
- Sing: This is like an actually good version of American Idol, with lovable, huggable animated animals playing the roles of stars of stage. Totally enjoyable for kids and adults. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
- Night of the Hunter: My new cable setup has some good old movies, so it was nice to finally see this Robert Mitchum classic. He plays a traveling preacher who specializes in serial killings and terrorizing young kids. Kind of ahead of its time and very creepy. 4 out of 5 stars.
- True Grit: I love a good Jeff Bridges flick, and this one has him playing bounty hunter Rooster Cogburn. I had completely forgotten that I'd seen it, but it's really really good. The cornpone Western dialogue is completely mesmerizing. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
- TV Bonus - Search Party: I also just finished watching season one of this TBS ... dramedy? It's a hard-to-classify weirdo hipster thing that is apparently the creation of Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development). It's not as great as TV's #1 comedy Baskets, but I'm hooked. 4 out of 5 stars.