Culture Update 3/4/2013

Quickie of the Week

The New York Times article “The Perils of Perfection” offers a questioning look at Silicon Valley’s need to “Have an app” for everything. It’s one thing to have nifty means of reducing stress or being more efficient (about an hour ago, on a walk to the store, I jotted a new grocery list on my phone’s notepad, having left my bag with its notebook and pens at home). It’s quite another thing to presume every inconvenience and challenge and perceived fault is a problem that needs to be solved. Do you think it would be screwed up to have special glasses that make homeless people disappear when you walk down the street? Then read this article for more on the subject.

Read of the Week

This section is inappropriately labeled. It should be titled, “Read that I managed to sneak in against the tidal wave that is the reading I am already require to do in graduate school…” or, you know, something similar.


I was able to sneak in reading since it was a graphic novel. I won’t dwell on the fact that Backderf’s book My Friend Dahmer gives very rare insight into the hellish descent of the notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer; the book speaks very eloquently for itself. But I was also very impressed with Backderf’s description of his motivation and the research that went into the book, included in Backderf’s thoughtful introduction. Chilling and visceral, I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who isn’t too close-minded about using this particular artistic genre to convey very difficult stories. But I would also recommend you don’t skip the introduction, which, sadly, I do too often.

That second-to-last comment was biting for a reason. I will be posting a piece on graphic novels, and why, in my entirely unprofessional opinion, they should not be belittled as  a literary genre and they merit our full intellectual scrutiny as does any novel, play, or poem. I may post it on my sister blog, The (un)Educated Art Historian; we’ll see.

Flash from the Past Film

A few months ago I was geeking out over another Michael Sheen, Peter Morgan film (where yes, he plays Tony Blair again).

The Deal

The Deal (2003) follows the progress of stalwart Labour MP Gordon Brown (David Morrissey) and the charming yet unpredictable MP Tony Blair (Sheen) as they climb the political ladder during trying years of Thatcherism and Tory rule. What follows is a story of behind the scenes agreements and planning which may ultimately lead to political and personal compromises. Is it enough to want to be a team player and strive for a Labour government, no matter who is at the helm, or what is sacrificed to make it happen? An excellent film. Screenplay written by Peter Morgan, the delightful man behind Frost/Nixon (2008), The Special Relationship (2010), and The Queen (2006). Also, you get to see a whole new Gordon Brown:

Gordon Brown is not pleased with your work.

Gordon Brown is not pleased with your work.

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