Saturday, July 9, 2005

SPEAKING OF CONSUMER GUILT AND COMPLICITY WITH EVIL: David Foster Wallace's somewhat notorious piece in Gourmet Magazine from last summer on the morality of cooking and eating lobster is now available online (PDF).

Me? I'm a member of the knife-in-head pre-dismemberment school/steam in sea water school, which tends to really gross people out during the process, what with the tail often reflexively thrashing around for a few seconds even after being severed from the rest of the lobster, but that way (a) they die in a way other than being steamed alive, and (b) no one has to deal with lobster carcass when eating it. Wallace's point about accepting one's moral agency for the act rings true to me -- I don't think you should eat lobster without accepting the fact that you're killing something that's alive, right there in your kitchen, for your pleasure.

If you can accept that -- and I do, with melted butter on the side -- then there are few better ways to enjoy summer's bounty. Does anyone out there (who isn't vegetarian generally) have a particular problem with lobster?
FOREVER? FOREVER EVER? FOREVER EVER? Why I [heart] Kanye West, part VII. From "Diamonds from Sierra Leone (remix)":
Good morning, this ain't Vietnam still
People lose hands, legs, arms, fo' real
Little was known on Sierra Leone
And how it connect to the diamonds we own
When I spit the diamonds in this song
I ain't talkin' 'bout the ones that be glowin'
I'm talkin' 'bout Roc-a-Fella, my home
My chain, this ain't conflict diamonds
Is they Jacob? Don't lie to me, man
See, a part of me sayin', "Keep shinin'"
How? When I know what a blood diamond is
Though it's thousands of miles away
Sierra Leone connect to what we go through today
Over here it's a drug trade, we die from drugs
Over there they die from what we buy from drugs
The diamonds, the chains, the bracelets, the charmses
I thought my Jesus piece was so harmless
'Til I seen a picture of a shorty armless
And here's the conflict
It's in a black person soul to rock that gold
Spend your while life tryin' to get that ice
On a Polo rugby it look so nice
How can something so wrong make me feel so right?
Right? 'fore I beat myself up like Ike
You can still throw your Roc-a-Fella diamond tonight

Let's hope West doesn't go all Lauryn Hill/Arrested Development on us before the next album comes out.
SAVVY READERS WILL SPOT THE CONNECTION TO THINGS MONEGASQUE: Andy Denhart has the scoop on where The Amazing Race 8 was filmed on Thursday.

Hint: there's a "sneak up on a drunk Hessian" roadblock which proceeds it, plus a "Makes" or "Takes" detour . . . .

Friday, July 8, 2005

"READER'S DIGEST IS THE BEST!": A few weeks after picking its 50 Best Magazines, the Chicago Tribune let's its readers have their say on the 20 most overlooked magazines.
YOU'RE A SLAVE TO MONEY, THEN YOU DIE: As hoped for yesterday, MTV announced today that they need a 'do-over' on Live 8:
This Saturday, July 9, MTV and sib VH1 will each air five commercial-free hours of selected performances from 'Live 8: A Concert to Make Poverty History.'

VH1 will air footage from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., MTV from 3 to 8 p.m. The channels will both air some of the same performances, including U2, Coldplay, Paul McCartney and the reunion of Pink Floyd.

But the nets will divide other performances by audience interest: MTV will air, among others, the Killers, Kanye West, Green Day and Linkin Park with Jay-Z, while VH1 will include Sting, Dave Matthews, Maroon 5 and Rob Thomas.

You know who I want to see, of course: Yannick Noah. Anyone know if he's still rocking the Le Coq Sportifs?
WILLIAM WHO? J.K. Rowling, who apparently has written a series of popular children's books based on the childhood for M*A*S*H's Col. Potter, is the all-time best-selling author in the 10-year history of Following Rowling on the list of 25 and signaling the decline of Western Civilization: Spencer Johnson of Who Moved My Cheese? fame, romance novelist Nora Roberts and The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown. As for the author of Hamlet, King Lear, and a series of other plays, he finished 26th on the list, just behind Tom Clancy. Perhaps someday 500 years or so in the future, high school students will bemoan the archaic language and intricate plots of Red Storm Rising and Patriot Games.

Sadly, I appear to have finished somewhere about 1.6 million spots behind Rowling. (For $1.21 people, you can own a little part of me.)

And, it turns out Amazon has lots of fun things planned for the big 1-0, including making Harrison Ford and Jason Alexander schlpe packages to your door. Tell you what, buy a used copy of my book and I will come to your house and sign it, provided you live within 20-25 miles of the North Shore Chicago suburbs or have a layover at O'Hare (not applicable during rush hour). Heck, I'll even stay for dinner or at least a drink.

Hurry there are only nine used copies left!
AND DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON COSMO: As a public service, ALOTT5MA would like to note that the (at least) three different "Larry Kramers" out there in the media are, in fact different people:

Keep your Kramers straight. It's important.

IF ALL YOUR FRIENDS JUMPED OFF A CLIFF, WOULD YOU? Apparently, among Turkish sheep, the answer is a resounding yes.
TALE AS OLD AS TIME: So now that Ashton Kutcher's social experiment has drawn to a close (except for the de rigueur tell-all reunion episode next week), it's time for me to announce the real hero of Beauty and the Geek.

It's certainly neither of the final two guys. Chuck turned out to be a rather smarmy intellectualler-than-thou fellow, and Richard -- well, he's Richard. Although the piano-playing did salvage him to a certain limited extent.

Of the ladies, Caitilin (that's Kite-a-lin, not Caitlin) was no great shakes either. First, which brilliant producer decided to film her final confessionals sans the layer of makeup that was necessary to transform many of these "beauties" into Beauties? Baaaad idea. And second, when it came time to share her greatest passion with Chuck, she chose to cook him a magnificent dinner using the skills de cuisine taught to her by her beloved mama, and -- steamed some sweet potatoes in the microwave. (Watch this technique: you poke holes in the potatoes!) Alert Saveur and Gourmet pronto!

No -- the real shining star of Beauty and the Geek was Mindi, the sorority girl from Lee's Summit, Missouri. For three weeks in a row, Chuck and Caitilin sent Mindi and the beyond-aggravating Richard to the elimination room, and for three weeks in a row, it was Mindi's perfect scores on the elimination quizzes that saved Richard's now-thrice-smooched lips from returning to Brandeis before their time. Mindi tolerated Richard with grace far beyond anything the other beauties could have mustered, and even promised Richard, with a friendly laugh, that she'd make out with him if they won. (Sadly for Richard, he could not think of Mindi's middle name during the second tie-breaker round -- have you ever heard of a Mindi with the middle name Jacki? -- and so his hopes were dashed.) And the delight she displayed at the song Richard had composed for her was both genuine and refreshing. Mindi carried Richard all the way to the finals, and I would have liked to see her win the whole $250k without having to share it with anyone else.

For sheer sweetness, Beauty and the Geek had nothing on Dancing with the Stars (and I only watched the last couple episodes of DwtS), but for fun summer television, it was perfectly enjoyable. And now I await the reunion episode with not-particularly-bated breath -- does anyone actually think that Erika will eagerly leap back into Brad's arms?
TAKE ME OUT OF THE BALL GAME: Enjoy your Jennie Finch while you can -- baseball and softball have been dropped from 2012 Olympics, the first time since 1936 (polo) that a sport has been dropped from the Games.

Rugby, karate, squash and "roller sports" were among those sports considered for addition, but none had sufficient support, and modern pentathlon -- designated for the axe by many -- has survived to run, shoot, fence, swim and ride another day.
"THE X-MEN ARE MAJOR LEAGUE COMPARED TO THEM: No, Roger Ebert did not like Fantastic Four, and I've got to excerpt this: "[T]he Thing looks like Don Rickles crossed with Mt. Rushmore."

Thursday, July 7, 2005

HIS FACE AIN'T LOOKING ANY YOUNGER: Some may be concerned that Daryl Hall postpones shows due to Lyme disease; I just want to suggest alternate headlines:
  • De-ee-er Ticks, [clap], Are Infecting You [clap clap]
  • Oh Oh Here They Come -- Watch Out, Boy, Ticks Screw You Up
  • It's A Tick Girl, And It's Going Too Far, But You Know It Don't Matter Anyway
  • Oates Accused Of Biological Warfare Against Bandmate
A POTENTIAL FELLOW LEGACY ADMIT WITH LUCY IN THE AMHERST CLASS OF 2024? Keeping up with this website's interest in all things Monegasque comes the long-awaited confirmation that the "enigmatic" Prince Albert who "has shown no public inclination to produce a royal heir" has, in fact, become a babydaddy. Great NYT lede, and more:

In what is either a fairy tale come true or a true confession of an expensive indiscretion, Prince Albert II of Monaco on Wednesday officially recognized paternity of a boy born to a French-Togolese woman nearly two years ago, automatically conferring on the boy the eventual rights to a thick slice of his billion-dollar fortune. . . .

Prince Albert's revelation does not plunge his family into scandal. His sister, Princess Stephanie, has had three children with men to whom she was not married, and his grandmother was the daughter of Prince Louis II of Monaco and a North African laundry worker. Prince Louis did not formally recognize his daughter until she was 13, and she did not become an heir to the throne until she was 21.

Alexandre could yet become an heir to the throne if the family, which has changed the rules on succession twice in the last century, decides it is in its interests. For now, he is simply in line to become very, very rich.

Ms. Coste, 33, was born to a merchant in Togo and came to France to study when she was 17. She was a flight attendant for Air France when Prince Albert, a passenger, asked for her phone number. The love affair that ensued lasted several years until, according to her, Prince Albert's father intervened. She says Alexandre was conceived when she and the prince briefly reunited to celebrate her 31st birthday.

By the way, I know what I said about 'Monegasque' as a cool proper adjective, but 'Togolese' isn't half-bad either.
WHEN WILL JUDGES STICK TO JUDGING AND LEAVE THE SCIENCE TO SCIENTISTS? With the whole dust-up over judicial resolution of competing scientific claims finally dying down after the Schiavo matter, I don't mean to stir the pot. Nonetheless, I just came across Pring v. Penthouse Intern., Ltd., 695 F.2d 438 (10th Cir. 1982) for the first time in years. For those unfamiliar with Pring -- both the case and the beauty queen -- apparently the Tenth Circuit does not believe "that levitation could be accomplished by oral sex [performed by Miss Wisconsin] before a national television audience or anywhere else."

To which the empiricists, skeptics, and Spacemen respond: No? Try me.
IF THEY CALL 'DO-OVER', I WANT RULES AND WAY NEXT TIME: MTV admits they screwed up Live8 coverage and may do it again.

In other content via TVTattle, something we should be interested in because it combines reality tv plus lists, but I'm not, really: the top ten Big Brother houseguests ever. Will anyone be watching?
XENU'S PARADOX: WaPo's Richard Leiby, who has covered the organization for 26 years, explains everything you never wanted to know about Scientology in this online chat today.
IN THE ZONE: I thought I might offer a mild distraction from the news out of London this morning. (And isn't a little sad that I measure the seriousness of the news by how long certain stations stay with their special programming? NBC for instance is still news only at 10:30 right now, while WGN switched over at 10:00 in time for Maury to bring us 13-year-olds trying to have babies. And what is going on with Katie Couric's chest this morning?)

Anyway, I was quoted in this story in the Dallas-Fort Worth Star Telegram on TV and time zones (even after I told the writer that with Tivo the entire subject is somewhat moot).

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

CAN'T YOU HEAR ME YELL-A? OK, I'm not the only one watching Comedy Central's new sorta-sitcom, Stella, right? I'll freely admit that I had my doubts. I was never a huge fan of The State, and Michael Ian Black can wear thin very quickly, but this is shockingly good. Hell, it's a live action version of The Simpsons or Family Guy filled with utter randomness, but built around a plot. For instance, in this week's episode, the gang is upset that the president of their co-op board won't let them "have any fun." So Michael Ian runs for President. Of course, recriminations ensue, turning into a ridiculous Manchurian Candidate plotline/spoof and reckless surrealism involving (yes) robots and people having campfires in their apartments. It's surprisingly effective and deadpan, and in a world where the sitcom is all-but-dead, it's well worth your time.
JUST ONE DAY OUT OF LIFE: I know what you're wondering -- "Adam, I only have so much time in my day. Can you tell me which Live8 performances I need to watch?"

With pleasure. When you visit the exceptional AOL Music site, here are the ones most worth streaming:
  • Annie Lennox, "Why". Above all else. Because she is a goddess. Performing solo on piano in front of images of HIV-positive Africans, it's just tremendously moving. Do you know what I feel?
  • Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff. Pretty much all of it. From his "The Champ Is Here!" intro (carried in on a sedan chair) to "Summertime" to the whole crowd chanting the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme, it's the homecoming party he has long deserved.
  • Kanye West, "Jesus Walks". This song always hits me in the gut. Still does here.
  • Madonna, "Like A Prayer". The song transformed to a gospel anthem, the singer transformed into a woman exuding class and presence, it'll take you back. Watch, however, for the Ethiopian woman who they brought on stage before the song but forgot to usher off until the song was almost over.
  • Coldplay w/Richard Ashcroft, "Bittersweet Symphony". Not that it's that fantastic, but seeing Chris Martin introducing it as "the greatest song ever written" will make you smile as the crowd goes nuts when the strings kick in.
  • Green Day, "American Idiot". Either you accept that Green Day is the Jim Edmonds of rock and roll, or you don't. They just rule right now.
  • Robbie Williams, "Angels". He may never succeed in America, but if you want to see an artist and audience connect, wow.
  • Neil Young w/all of Canada, "Rockin' in the Free World". He just had a brain aneurysm operated on in April; now he's back. When you think about what songs from this era will endure forty, fifty years from now, this is one of them. That's one more kid that will never go to school, never get to fall in love, never get to be cool. Yeah, it's kinda weird seing this song performed by a stage full of Canadians, but they apparently followed it up with "O Canada" as balance.
  • Stevie Wonder w/Adam Levine, "Signed Sealed Delivered". A full accounting of the greatness of Stevie Wonder would take the remainder of this blog's days. But, seriously, is there a reason why he is not as venerated in America as Sir Paul is in the U.K.? The man is a god, and I would love to see him tour again just so we could all make him ridiculously wealthier.
(Also, this just in: Hit Me Baby has waived the five-year eligibility rule, and Scissor Sisters can appear as early as next month.)

What else should folks be watching?
THE REAL ONE WINDS UP BEING LESS ELOQUENT: I'm the last person who would ordinarily draw a comparison between Presidents Bush and Bartlet, but I can't be the only person who immediately drew a connection between this story and "POTUS in a bicycle accident."
LIL' KIM, BIG HOUSE: This just in -- rapper Lil' Kim was sentenced this afternoon to a year and a day in prison and fined $50,000 for lying to a federal grand jury to protect friends involved in a 2001 shootout outside a Manhattan radio station.

I wonder if she'll show her new friends that trick she does with a Sprite can.
THE CONFIRMATION PROCESS IS MADE UP OF TWO SEPARATE, YET EQUALLY IMPORTANT PARTS: The selection of a nominee to serve on the Supreme Court, which will be handled by folks in the Justice Department, and the confirmation before the Senate, which will be headed up by (you can't make this up, folks), former Senator and current Law and Order: Original Recipe DA Fred Thompson, who's apparently decided that since he doesn't have Trial By Jury to do any more, he can do this. No word on if Sam Waterston, Jill Hennessy, or Michael Moriarity are being considered to fill the vacancy.
THE ROSE GOES IN THE FRONT, BIG GUY: After reading everyone's thoughts on the AFI list of best movie quotes and the list of shoulda-been-best TV quotes, I started thinking about which quotes have really seeped into my own lexicon. Because isn't that really the ultimate test of the timelessness of a quote -- the extent to which we pepper our own conversations with those bon mots that we've picked up from pop culture?

For me, it's my absolute favorite quote from a movie that's chock full of favorite quotes, Bull Durham -- "isn't that a little excessive for the Carolina League?" I throw that one around at least once a week. Perfect for nearly any occasion.

And you?
OH, SNAP: The French may have lost the Olympics, but they still have their sense of culinary superiority:
Anglo-French tensions heightened last night after Jacques Chirac delivered a series of insults to Britain as London and Paris fought to secure the 2012 Olympic Games and faced fresh disagreement at the G8 summit.

The president, chatting to the German and Russian leaders in a Russian cafe, said: "The only thing [the British] have ever given European farming is mad cow." Then, like generations of French people before him, he also poked fun at British cuisine.

"You can't trust people who cook as badly as that," he said. "After Finland, it's the country with the worst food."

"But what about hamburgers?" said Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, referring to America.

"Oh no, hamburgers are nothing in comparison," Mr Chirac said.

Mr Putin and Gerhard Schröder, the German chancellor, laughed. Mr Chirac then recalled how George Robertson, the former Nato secretary general and a former defence secretary in Tony Blair's Cabinet, had once made him try an "unappetising" Scottish dish, apparently meaning haggis.

"That's where our problems with Nato come from," he said.

Mr Schröder and Mr Putin laughed again.

Has anyone here eaten haggis?
WHO AM I? WHY AM I DEAD? Retired Vice Admiral James Stockdale, butt of many jokes as a vice presidential candidate but a true American hero for his bravery in Vietnamese captivity, has died at the age of 81.

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

BLAME IT ON BLAIR: The Venerable New York Times has slipped to No. 6 on the list of the World's Best Newspapers.The Financial Times took top honors in the survery conducted by a mysterious Swiss consulting firm, dispalcing The Times which previously ranked first back in the heady days of 2003 B.B. (Before Blair, or Bragg, or Miller for that matter). The Wall Street Journal placed second, followed by a paper I make it a habit of reading first thing every morning, Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
ANYONE FOR QUIDDITCH? We're now a mere 11 days from the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, sure to be a blockbuster on the level of Star Wars and being covered (if possible) in an even tighter cloak of security. So, as we rapidly move toward the release of the next-to-last volume in the series, I wanted to open up a thread for discussion and predictions. My predictions?
  • Dumbledore dies. Obviously, this will be in an Obi-Wan Kenobi-esque manner, and Dumbledore's presence will continue to be felt.
  • The prophecy under which Harry is the "chosen one" will be vested with much greater ambguity as to whether Harry is actually the subject. Actually, since the end of the last book, I've thought that Harry may not ultimately turn out to be the hero.
  • Mr. Weasley's experimentation with mixing the Muggle and the Magical will tie into the plot in a fairly direct way rather than just being used as a plot device.

Your predictions, thoughts, and comments are encouraged.

TOMMY CAN YOU HEAR ME? For those of you looking for still more opinion on the Tom Cruise/Brooke Shields spat, Rosie O'Donnell has weighed in with the following remark:

shout out to brooke
stand tall girl
u saved a lot of women
by telling ur truth

Rosie also notes that after watching Tom on Oprah, "i think i may need to up my meds." Tom's going to be upset and not mow your lawn and make lemonade for you anymore.
BABY WE WERE BORN TO ADD: Right after a long holiday weekend, it's important to review a little serious scholarship to get our heads back into the seriousness of the workweek. Thus I offer this up -- some scholarly criticism of the music of Sesame Street.

Explaining why the monsters' discography warrants renewed focus, L.A. Weekly's Jesse Walker explains that "'C Is for Cookie' was my first favorite song, and for my infant self, the monsters’ chorus at the end was every bit as sublime and important as 'Like a Rolling Stone' or 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' was for some future rock writers." Amen. Power to the monsters.

Monday, July 4, 2005

DEAR SALLY, THIS IS ACTUALLY A PRETTY GOOD SHOW: Though, I, like Kim, am a big fan of J.J. Abrams' more recent work, I was never a regular viewer of his first series, Felicity. I spent much of the long weekend watching the first season, chronicling Felicity and her friends' Freshman year courtesy of Netflix. Interestly, while Abrams has gone in for pretty heavy sci-fi stuff on his current series, the first year of Felicity is pretty much a straight-shooter. (Abrams apparently veered toward the fantastic in later seasons with a time travel plotline and an extended Twilight Zone homage.) Felicity Porter is the stereotypical good girl--she's going to be pre-med at Stanford. Then, at her high school graduation, Ben, her high school crush, signs her yearbook, saying that he wished he knew her better. Felicity impulsively (for the first time in her life) decides to follow Ben cross-country to the "University of New York" (for some reason, NYU apparently denied permission to use their name, though extensive exterior filming is done there). There, she meets friends and develops a romantic relationship with her RA, Noel Crane (Scott Foley). Felicity and her friends' romantic and academic entanglements form the crux of the story (more emphasis is given to the romantic than the academic, as you might expect on the WB) .

Also fun is playing "spot the future famous folks." Jennifer Garner has an extended arc as Noel's girlfriend, and both J.Gar and Lauren Graham should note--the glasses make you even hotter. Greg Grunberg, now better known as Agent Weiss on Alias or "that pilot who got eaten by the thing" on Lost, plays Sean, Ben's overly entreprenurial roommate. Amanda Foreman, who now recurs on Alias as Carrie Flinkman, plays Felicity's "witchy" roommate. Jane Kaczmarek shows up as Felicity's friend's internship boss and possible birth mother. And yes, Brian Krakow himself, Devon Gummersall, shows up, in a very un-Krakow role--a date rapist. Smartly written, generally sharply acted (Foley, in particular, shows a flair for befuddled comedy), and gloriously scored by W.G. "Snuffy" Walden (one of these days, I'm going to get around to my long posting on the glory of his scoring) it's damn fine television that's well worth your time in the season of reruns.
LEGES SINE MORIBUS VANAE: The debut novel by Kermit Roosevelt, In the Shadow of the Law, looks like a legal thriller from the face of it. To be sure, there are lawyers involved in all sorts of intrigue, from a death penalty appeal to a mass toxic tort -- and, yes, there is a sudden death in the book -- but this is not a Grisham book with dramatic twists and turns.

Instead, Roosevelt uses his skills to paint a compelling, depressing (because it's true) portrait of the large defense-side law firms to which elite law school graduates gravitate, and what such practice does to themselves, and to the law.

I don't want to say too much about the plot, but there is much to say about Roosevelt's theme: law without morality, as the Penn Law motto goes, is nothing. When lawyers lose their moral sense, it cripples both themselves and the law. This gets multiplied, sadly, by what law firms do to young attorneys. As one character says at one point, ''You give up half your life to get good grades so you can get that top-firm job, then as a reward you get to give up the other half.''

Law school -- well, at least mine -- does an awful job at preparing students for the reality of big firm practice -- the choices they will have to make, and, more fundamentally, that there are choices, both between legal careers and within them. And Roosevelt doesn't pretend that any of this is easy -- other than the former Supreme Court clerk, he prescribes no easy answers for any of the characters, no clear answers for what they ought to do once they understand what their careers have done to their lives.

This book hit home for me. As most of you know, I took over a year away from the practice of law starting in 2003, in part because of the concerns expressed in this book: when you're slaving away on document production for a large corporate client, you do wonder -- is this why I went to law school? I went into politics searching for a way to use my skills in a more meaningful way, and then returned to law when I could find a setting in which I could employ them on behalf of clients whose successes would be meaningful to me. (And the paying clients too.) Why? Because the pure practice of law -- when your mind is really engaged in what you're doing on behalf of good people -- is a hell of a lot of fun.

But it's easy to get sucked in. It's so easy to conflate a law firm's objectives with your own and assimilate yourself into the Borg. Roosevelt's book highlights what happens to those who follow that path, and it's not exactly thrilling.

This book should be required reading right next to Scott Turow's One-L, because it provides a necessary education that law students might not otherwise get until it's too late. Read it. Now.

Mr. Poon liked it too.

Sunday, July 3, 2005

WE'LL STEAL YOUR MONEY; WE'LL STEAL YOUR SHOW: Of all the bands for Nike to rip off in its advertising, Ian MacKaye's Minor Threat was probably a really bad call. One is hard-pressed to contemplate a more anticommercial band.

Kudos to Pitchfork for breaking the story. Phil, any comment?
MEANWHILE, JULIA DEMATO HAS A FERGIE THING GOING ON: GFY ask -- when did Kimberly Caldwell turn into Pink?
DUFFMAN IS THRUSTING IN THE DIRECTION OF THE PROBLEM. OH YEAH! Previously known for its Zoo and for being the setting of Three's Company, San Diego may now be known as the brewing capital of America, if the new Best Beers in the World ratings from are to be believed.

I have tried three of the top ten American breweries -- Hair of the Dog, Dogfish Head and Victory. I believe it's time for a Foodery run.
SINCERITY IS NOT MEASURED IN POUNDS: The best appreciation I've seen of the late Luther Vandross comes from Richard Harrington in today's Washington Post:
"My first responsibility is to be honest in what I'm singing," Vandross said in one of a half-dozen interviews we did over the course of 20 years. "My favorite thing is when somebody's emotional state, more than their romantic state, is helped by one of my songs.

"I sing about love, but I also sing about introspection and emotional status and the emotional journey that people go through during the course of a day and how it can affect you -- all the decisions that you make for your life. It's not 'meet me in the shower' and 'let's rub oil on each other.' You'll never hear me sing about those things."

Then he added: "That's my choice, Luther's perspective. It does not mean that anyone who does that is less worthy or less competent."

My favorite Vandross song? Probably "Power of Love/Love Power".
3.1415926535897932328462: 22 digits is all I can do. This fellow in Japan managed 83,431. And if that isn't nerdy enough, 83,431 is -- curiously enough -- a prime number.

Also from the Japanese monomaniac desk, Monday brings us the 2005 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest.