Electricity & Lust

Links of the Week

Posted in Links of the Week by Sam Unsted on June 19, 2011
  • This AV Club article questioning whether cable TV is still delivering higher quality product than network TV in the US is one I disagree with nearly whole-heartedly, but it does at least make some interesting points about the slight increase in the number of really good network shows at the moment (The Good Wife, Community, Parks and Recreation). The point it appears to side-step though is that there are so, so, sooooo many terrible shows on network TV and the overall hit-rate (in quality terms at least) for the cable shows is way better. Also, the central argument surrounding the quality of network comedy is way off. There are a pile of really good comedies on network TV right now, but the absolute best at the minute, FX’s Louie, is a cable show. Anyway, enough debating. Read for yourself and comment away.
  • Staff at The New York Times Magazine have contributed their own selection of their favourite non-fiction books after The Guardian did the same last week. Probably a little too much to read now but I’m trucking on regardless.
  • I just finished Michael Lewis’ The Big Short and I’m planning on indulging in his Moneyball pretty soon. The trailer for Steven Soderbergh’s adaptation of the latter book, about the sabermetric approach to creating a successful baseball team used by the Oakland As. The film looks decent enough, with a strong cast and a great director behind it, though the screenplay has had runs over from Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian, which is never a great sign. I’m interested though.
  • The Atlantic has a copy of the handwritten draft of the song ‘Dance Music’ by The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle. He then goes on to discuss his songwriting process, which proves particularly interesting given that song comes from their absolute best record, The Sunset Tree.
  • The longlist for the Polaris Music Prize in Canada has also been released. I’m pulling for Tim Hecker and his stunning Ravedeath, 1972, the best album of an already stellar career.

Reads of the Week

Posted in Reads of the Week by Sam Unsted on June 18, 2011
  • Not an article, but I finished reading The Big Short by Michael Lewis this week and would thoroughly recommend to anyone interested in how the financial services industry created and ultimately caused the downturn we are all suffering through. I was on a bit of a financial crash kick this week as I also read an article about the value investor Bob Rodriguez – who says that a failure to address current debt levels will result in another crash in the near future – and watched the very dry must mostly entertaining Too Big to Fail, the HBO adaptation of the Andrew Ross Sorkin book. It recounts the moves and mistakes made by federal regulators in attempting to contain the financial crash by bailing out the banks and mostly just serves, as Lewis’ book does, in teaching that the crash was a long time coming and that the mistakes made at the time were nothing compared to the institutional incompetence and greed in the years leading up to it.
  • The death of Gil Scott-Heron a couple of weeks ago meant this article, by Alec Wilkinson for The New Yorker in 2010, got a lot of play. It’s a pretty interesting portrait of a man who appears uncomfortable with the legacy afforded him and serves as an illustration of the dangers and destructive nature of crack addiction.
  • This 1993 article by Michael Kelly about the political operator David Gergen is incredibly absorbing and more than a little frightening. The meat comes during Gergen’s time working in the Nixon administration and the path that American political life was set upon under which image and the projection of persona became the entire game.
  • Tom Bissell’s lengthy review of LA Noire, the smash-hit new Rockstar game, turns into an existential journey in the mind of a gamer and is a satisfying dissection of the shift seen in games over the past few years into an immersive, controversial art form. The article is also from Grantland, the new site headed up by Bill Simmons, which might well be the best website launched in the past year.
  • The New Yorker has three great essays in the new issue, respectively from Jennifer Egan, Tea Obreht and Jhumpa Lahiri.
And the best…
  • It’s a couple of weeks old now but this article, from the New York Times Magazine, about conjoined twins potentially sharing a mind, is utterly incredible. I don’t want to spend too much time giving reasons to read it, but it’s worth it just for the anecdotes alone of the apparent connection which appears to exist between the two subjects.