Pale Wire (Popscene)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Where they keep the books

I'm spending my afternoon today with The Great Unloved at the Cedar Rapids Public Library, which I'm sure you'll remember as the subject of one of The Onion's post-Sept. 11 parodies. The Internet surfers around me are ogling profiles, browsing horror movie reviews, trash talking on a fantasy football league's message board, and goofing around with online computer games.

Moi? Just bloggin'. Earlier, I fingered up a bunch of a magazines.

Here are the highlights:
  • Consumer Reports, like everybody else, loves that iPod Nano,. They say it's "the top choice among MP3 players with what may be the best-yet combination of size, storage and ergnomic ease." They also report that there are now 28 varities of Coke and Pepsi products on the market. As far as Xmas goes, they suggest the Melitta Take2 coffee maker as the perfect gift for the well-caffeinated couple you don't want to spend much money on.
  • The Believer's layout remains unreadable.
  • Richard Linklater confesses his love of Casino to Spin's Chuck Klosterman.
  • National Geographic has some freaky photographs of Indonesian sea creatures. Some of the fish are so grotesque they gave me a good flinch. You can find a few bonus shots online, including this one of a miniture crab that bears a striking resemblance to the mushrooms in Super Mario Brothers.
  • The Nation's Katha Politt busts on Maureen Dowd's new book.
And, of course, Wal-Mart ads in the new Vogue. Meet the vivacious, colorfully named faces of Wal-Mart's attempt to shake its stretch-top, sweat-shop stigma. Names, professions, and brief biographies of each supposed Wal-Mart shopper are included. Here's a brief rundown:
  • Angela, clothing designer (a "chic sophisticate" with a "fashion passion")
  • Grace, graphic designer
  • Jenna & Julie Ann, interior design team
  • Katherine, a stylist's agent ("surrounded by fashion's most creative visionaries"
  • Joy, volunteer
  • Toni, bartender (Cultural studies majors seeking a thesis topic take note: Black woman photographed wearing a leopard print faux fur.)
  • Christine, management consultant
  • Cyndy, "avant gardener"
  • Jamie, event planner
And my personal favorite:
  • Arabella, a dashing journalist in white stretch cords, violet cable-knit turtleneck and trenchcoat.
Good piece on Iran in the new New Yorker, which features a big ticket roster (including Woody Allen) and a handful of Remnickian notes from abroad. Here's my favorite tidbit, from Jane Secor's visit with a member of The Basij, the youth militia the Supreme Council uses to maintain their control.

I asked Belashabadi what he thought should be done about the satellite channels on which Iranians watch illicit fare such as music videos, Western movies, and political commentary from Iranian exiles abroad. "The majority of the population is young," he said. "Young people by nature are horny. Because they are horny, they like to watch satellite channels where there are films or programs they can jerk off to." Th regime could filter the channels, he suggested, or it could try to educate the people to tune in to more wholesome programming. He concluded, "We have to do something about satellite television to keep society free from this horny jerf off situation."

My translator implored me, in a jaw-clenched monotone, "Please do not laugh right now. This is a very sensitive moment."