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The Perfect Martini

Posted by DNW on 2014/01/22

 

Anyone who has drunk, or imbibed since we don’t want to sound as if we are alluding to intoxication, a sufficient number of martinis to use the term “perfect martini” also knows that there is really no such thing as a perfect martini. Even martinis made to your favorite recipe will obviously vary to some significant degree with the care which one takes – or doesn’t – in making (proportioning) the drink and with the particular brands of ingredients used.

That rocks glass in your hand on the patio in July, the glass sloshingly filled with cubes and gin and vermouth and a couple of olives, and which you hold in the one hand as you flip steaks on the grill with the other, holds the same nominal drink as that carefully proportioned vodka and vermouth mix poured from a shaker into a coupe glass, and then garnished with a twist of lemon zest.

In the name of decency, there are some limits though.

For example, although either gin or vodka (or both together, Mr. Bond) may be used or substituted, most people would agree that no matter how stingy the application may be,  a “martini” made without any vermouth is just not really a martini as most of us understand it.

Not so much vermouth!

Not so much vermouth!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of vermouth, many of us, myself for instance, had become comfortably accustomed to Noilly Prat only to discover a couple of years ago that something awful had happened. I first though I had gotten a bad bottle. Instead of the usual clear liquid I was used to seeing, out came a yellow-greenish fluid with a more pronounced taste, smell, and what seemed to me to be oily character. It tasted like the abominable Gallo vermouth. It made my martini undrinkable. Until recently I could not come up with a satisfactory explanation as to what went wrong. Abandoning my theory of a heat spoiled bottle at the second disappointment, I figured my memory of what I like must have been off … very off somehow.

Turns out that the company had been bought out, and the new ownership of Noilly Prat decided that Americans would henceforth receive the European version of their “dry” vermouth; which was distinctly heavier in scent and taste than that to which we were accustomed. Apparently Noilly had for some years, and long before I ever approached a martini glass, been offering a specially dry version for the North American market. After grimacing my way through those last unwitting purchases of the Euro-style and highly scented version of their “dry”, I dropped any pretense of brand loyalty and grabbed a bottle of Martini & Rossi off the shelf the next time out. According to the blog “The Gray Report” (and Gray himself actually prefers the Euro-version), many others did as well. I certainly hated it. Enough people agreed with me implies Gray, to cause sales to plummet sufficient to get management’s attention and to promise to bring back the American version to this market.

So far, I haven’t seen it. Though I can’t say I have looked very hard.

As far as the mix portions go, I for one, have over the years developed a preference for what some web sites, Vermouth101.c0m for instance, are calling a 1950′s mix … basically 3 measures of gin or vodka to one half measure (I’m not using the technical term for “measure” here) of dry vermouth. So for example, a measure might be one of those ounce-and-a-half shot glasses. Then, three full shot glasses of gin, and one half of that ounce and a half shot glass, of vermouth.

You will notice too that as Mr. Niven above protectively recoils from that bottle of vermouth proffered by the cheerfully smiling pixie, he is simultaneously cradling an almost fishbowl sized snifter, which he’s using as the martini mixing glass.

He obviously wants his martini as dry as possible. And I agree to some extent as I mentioned just above.

But I would not go so far as the version of martini supposedly liked best when I first started drinking them during that late 1980s and 1990′s era sometimes credited with the return of the cocktail to prominence. That version, was reportedly almost pure gin or vodka, and I found it as objectionable to my palate as the early 20th century version said to be preferred by FDR: a two gin to one vermouth mix with plenty of brine added. I tried it. Yech. No wonder FDR had a stroke.

Well, no accounting for the taste of certain statist liberals who smoke cigarettes from holders.

We’ve already addressed what are from my point of view the preferable proportions of the two main ingredients in the mix. How they are mixed together is another matter.

The phrase “shaken not stirred” has become a painful cliche that causes me to actually wince when hearing it. But, that doesn’t mean that I don’t prefer the drink mixed that way. In fact, while doing research – well, while idly scanning various books and other websites for confirmation of my own prejudices – I read that martinis were originally meant to be made that way: shaken.

By the time the James Bond novel Casino Royale was published for Ian Fleming in 1953, in the very year Mr. Niven was saving his bowl of gin in “The Moon is Blue” from the debasement of too much, or almost any vermouth, the mixing process seems to have changed from shaking to stirring. Or at least swirling the mix with cubes.

Which leads us to another painful cliche: one which expresses alarm over the possibility of “bruising the gin”.

I have no idea what that is supposed to mean, so I can’t explain it to you. And when I hear it, I can only picture some dissipated country club type given to the pointless regurgitation of current mythologies as a way of cementing his image as one who is in need of constantly cementing his image. Out of respect to our early 1950s motif here, I’ll include an image of just that type of fellow as portrayed by actor Louis Calhern, in yet another William Holden movie of that same era, “Executive Suite”.

Better not be bruised!

Better not be bruised!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In any event, I not only have a fictional spy on my shaken side, I apparently have the British medical establishment. You may be thinking I am referring to a recent series of articles based on the premise that James Bond liked his martinis shaken and not stirred because had he been a real person who drank as much as seemingly recorded in the spy novels he, would have had a case of the shakes which made stirring impossible … or something like that.

However, that particular bit of politically motivated kill-joy posturing by the PC crowd is not what I am referring to. What I am citing here is an article in the British Journal of Medicine titled “Shaken, not stirred: bioanalytical study of the antioxidant activities of martinis”.

Shaken martinis were more effective in deactivating hydrogen peroxide than the stirred variety, and both were more effective than gin or vermouth alone (0.072% of peroxide control for shaken martini, 0.157% for stirred v 58.3% for gin and 1.90% for vermouth). The reason for this is not clear, but it may well not involve the facile oxidation of reactive martini components: control martinis through which either oxygen or nitrogen was bubbled did not differ in their ability to deactivate hydrogen peroxide (0.061% v 0.057%) and did not differ from the shaken martini. Moreover, preliminary experiments indicate that martinis are less well endowed with polyphenols than Sauvignon white wine or Scotch whisky (0.056 mmol/l (catechin equivalents) shaken, 0.060 mmol/l stirred v 0.592 mmol/l wine, 0.575 mmol/l whisky).

 

With authorities like that behind you, who needs some comic book spy on your side?

How’s it to be served then?  In what kind of glass? A “martini glass” obviously?

Well, there are different theories. I always specified a rocks glass in restaurants. Occasionally a self-confident middle aged waiter in the tonier kind place would good naturedly admonish me with an “Oh sir! Not really!” and I’d give in and have it in a stemmed glass. I’ve kind of gotten used to them by now. The design is supposed to have a certain logic, and I admit that the drink may taste somewhat better in one. Or at least more like an aperitif to be savored, than a concoction to be guzzled.

Still, I like a squat tumbler  in some situations. Summer evening grilling is good time to load up with ice, in my opinion; and a double old fashioned glass works really well for that.

But the classic martini glass is making a bit of comeback without any assistance from me. That is to say, when I say “classic”, a sub 7 ounce capacity glass with a short pulled stem, rather than one of those 12 ounce glass funnels ill balanced on a 6 inch pillar, which has been the popular version for the last 30 or so years.

As an admirable return to basics, take this well proportioned glass sold this Christmas season as an example. Not a pulled stem coupe with that little extra cusp in the bottom (that is to say not one obviously shaped like a mold of Marie Antoinette’s left you know what …) it’s nonetheless pretty appealing all the same.

Short stemmed, made in Poland, and called "True martini" glass

Short stemmed, made in Poland, and called “True martini” glass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, you can still get the champagne coupe/cocktail glasses common in the early 60′s as well. From Germany, just for you: at two for sixty or seventy dollars a pair.

Coupe type glass

Coupe type glass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, what’s the perfect martini? I don’t know really, and haven’t the authority to say. Make it 6 to one.  Vodka or gin depending on mood. Rocks or Martini glass depending. Two cubes with the former, or just a bit of cracked ice in the latter.  Mix shaken, well, with ice. Poured over a stuffed olive, and a twist of zest added last. Let sit about a minute. Then …

That’s perfect enough for me.

You, are entitled to your own opinion of course.

 

A satisfied customer

A satisfied customer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Culture, education, Entertainment, history, Philosophy, Science in the news | 2 Comments »

The POLAR VORTEX – Panic In The Streets (Oh, It’s Winter)

Posted by Yorkshire on 2014/01/06

For a few days now there has been panic in the Streets over, wait, it’s coming, Oh IT’S WINTER. We are being warned about this MONSTER from THE NORTH POLE, the DREADED POLAR VORTEX. Guess what, it’s to Winter what Hurricanes are to Summer. In Momma Nature’s normal fashion, called weather, the world does get hot, and the world does get cold. I’ve seen these winter outbreaks of cold all the time. Today’s biggest laugh from the purveyor’s of weather panic, the GlowBall Warming Phanatics, like Algore, the Polar Vortex is a new phenomena caused by Glowball Warming. This is as hilarious as the GlowBall Warming hunters going to Antarctica looking for existence of GlowBall Warming in the height of the Southern Hemisphere’s SUMMER, only to get stuck in the ICE, the rescue ship from China is now stuck in the ice, and another rescue ship from Australia decided not to get stuck. But America to the rescue with its super Ice Breaker called the Polar Star. The world is closing today and tomorrow. GlowBall Warming’s Icy Winds and Temperature are just too cold. My friends in Finland Laugh at this which is their normal winter. After all, who can’t handle -20C, -4F?
(A little help from the editor of 1st Street Journal)

Posted in Entertainment, Environmentalism, Global Warming, Humor - For Some, Politically Incorrect | 2 Comments »

Name this movie

Posted by DNW on 2013/10/17

Name this interesting, well-made, amazingly scenic, but thematically rough, and very adult movie.

The winner gets another Monica Vitti photo.

No, not really.

You don’t win anything. I just thought I’d post a couple of images of one of the more interesting movies I’ve seen in a while, thanks to DVD.

Canal

Canal

Yeah, yeah, "nooks and crannies" this might be better ...

Yeah, yeah, “nooks and crannies” this might be better …

Eric means no harm Mr. Waters. He's on your side.

Eric means no harm Mr. Waters. He’s on your side.

I didn't ask you to be his psychologist

I didn’t ask you to be his psychologist

It's about your friend

It’s about your friend

Update:

The movie is the black comedy, “In Bruges”.

And in Bruges, it’s set.

So, Yorkshire whose guess landed the next country over, would in fact get one point if this were horseshoes. But it’s not. So he doesn’t.

The plot centers on developments which take place as two hit men from England (one apparently Irish in origin) are sent to Bruges by their boss for reasons that are unclear to them. Are they there laying low after killing a priest back in England as part of their last job? Being rewarded with a touristy rest? Are they there, awaiting orders for a new job on the Continent?

The man they work for is the as yet unseen Harry Waters, a gangster boss, who despite his viciousness, is gradually revealed as having a kind of primitive honor-based moral code of his own, along with clear aspirations to bourgeois respectability.

We’ve seen that particular plot theme before of course: a ruthless mobster who attempts to live up to what few rules he does recognize.

In this movie it stands as a kind of intertwining but critical subplot, as the mobster in question, Harry Waters, is not the “focus on” protagonist, but rather constitutes for much of the film an off-screen presence of gradually increasing menace. He might make a classical antagonist if the true antagonist in this film were not of another kind entirely.

Remember your high school English classes? Man against man … man against nature, … and man against …

The gangster boss role of Harry Waters is particularly well inhabited by Ralph Fiennes, who when he does appear visually, imparts a personality and depth to the character (as do all the actors in this movie) which only adds to the emotional impact of events as they unfold. Despite yourself, you begin to care a bit about the fate of these characters.

Having watched the bonus tracks, this humanizing portrayal of people acting absurdly and even brutishly, was almost certainly intended by the director to produce just such an effect on the viewer.  The actors in their “bonus material” interviews seemed to think so. And they repeatedly remark on what they perceive as the rare quality and sensibility of the script, when judged against other materials they’ve been offered.

This is not a film for everyone. As immune as I am to offhand vulgarity, this movie is notably filled to brimming with the kind of casually obscene blasphemy employed by morally lost characters, which can cause almost any listener to cringe.

The devout and sensitive might have a difficult time bracketing the verbal offenses as part of a necessary characterization process. The film makers themselves acknowledge the over-the-top nature of this aspect of the film, with an ironically intended bonus track of nothing but staccato cuts of verbal obscenity.

Speaking of bonus materials, because In Bruges was shot on location in Bruges, what you see on screen is for the most part where they really were, and what is actually there; the interior top of a certain bell tower, excepted.

There was apparently enough coverage of an early canal tourism scene for the director, or someone , to put together an oddly fascinating – almost mesmerizing – video trip along the canals for which the city is so famous.

The movie stars Brendan Gleeson, Colin Farrell, and Ralph Fiennes, and features Thekla Reuten as the tourist hotel owner and manager. [It was Reuten's picture in another role that I linked to in Dana's, First Street Journal blog entry on women with guns. That image was taken from George Clooney's movie about an American hit man working in Europe.]

One of the more amusing exchanges in the movie occurs when a mot juste obsessed Russian gun dealer offers Harry Waters some hollow point rounds for his gun.

“Would you like some dumdums? You know this word ‘dumdums’? The bullets that make the head explode?”

Waters’ response is, “Well I know I shouldn’t, but … ” as if he is being offered some tempting chocolate covered cherries.

Picking out a few at first, he ends up taking the box.

Posted in Entertainment, Humor - For Some, Movie Reviews, Uncategorized | 11 Comments »

Just because …

Posted by DNW on 2013/10/01

From a picture floating around the Internet. Very “60′s”

No particular reason for re-posting it. I just think that the image has a certain atmosphere, and even beauty. In fact I find it almost mesmerizing.

Our friend Ropelight likes boats, maybe he can do something with this.

A calm sea

A calm sea

UPDATE: I deliberately withheld any reference to the subject matter from the title of this posting because although I was fascinated by the image I didn’t want to attract attention to it on the usual grounds of prurience.

I figured it would just appear as part of the “home page” series.

Nonetheless it’s received an unusual number of individual page clicks. A sophisticated readership this one, unless there are lots of people using search engines to look up the phrase “Just because”, and winding up here.

FYI then, the lady is/was a model and actress in Italian new wave type films.

Regardless of her looks, she’s as you might expect, also Italian by nationality.

The photo is probably, I would guess, from the late 1950′s to possibly the mid 60′s.

I came across her while wracking my mind for alternative movies my folks might be interested in watching, rather than the brainless and unamusing crap they pay for in their monthly satellite bill.

If anyone can “guess” her name, I’ll post an image of a combustion turbine as your reward …

I’ll throw in an image of a copy milling machine too, if you can name one of her movies.

Second update: A PRIZEWINNER!

The contest only lasted a few hours and is well over. Yet commenter out-of-the-blue Tom Hamilton comes in late and wins a prize nonetheless, because: a, he used the word “existential” in his comment, and b, I had a couple of pictures left over.

Therefore, as an anodyne for government shutdown boredom, or in order to more fully celebrate it,  let’s review 1960′s female style, Italian style

A sixties look

A sixties look

Call the cigarette police

Call the cigarette police

Blonde

Blonde


 

 

Posted in Culture, Entertainment, history, Photography, Politically Incorrect, Science in the news, Travel, Uncategorized | 11 Comments »

Horrible History

Posted by DNW on 2013/06/04

 

 

YouTube has some amusing vignettes from a BBC series for kids, called Horrible Histories.

 

The Guardian, left wing socialist rag that it is, has this to say,

 

CBBC’s Horrible Histories is a wonderfully curious thing: wildly praised, yet woefully undersold as really funny … for a kids’ show. But Horrible Histories isn’t just the best show on children’s television – it’s one of the smartest comedies on TV.”

 

 

Some clips are annoying, but most have some redeeming humor quality, though surprisingly, the humor in a fair number is pretty pathetic. In the case of the Aztecs and their bean and corn diet for example.

 

Worth 20 minutes of sorting through.  The video embedded above to appears to have been a smash hit overseas.

Posted in Culture, Entertainment, humor, Humor - For Some | Comments Off

Joe “Court Jester” Biden is at it Again – Ladies, Get A Shotgun

Posted by Yorkshire on 2013/02/26

Joe’s at it again. His job as Court Jester is sealed bythis video where he advises Women to get a 12 Ga. Double-Barrel Shotgun for protection. The Jester’s advise is two shots anywherewill scare a bad guy away. Watch this:

Posted in Character, crime, Entertainment, Humor - For Some | Tagged: , | Comments Off

Pre-Election Inspiration And Reminder

Posted by John Hitchcock on 2012/11/06

As the polls have begun opening across this great land and our efforts to oust the anti-American, anti-Constitutional, anti-Christian Socialist tyrant see fruition (or not), I thought some inspirational music with a reminder should be in order.

Posted in Character, Christianity, Elections, Entertainment, Personal Responsibility, Philosophy, Religion | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off

Bristol Palin And #DWTS All-Stars

Posted by John Hitchcock on 2012/10/18

Bristol Palin got voted off Dancing With the Stars, All-Stars season. I had hoped she could continue further, but I am not surprised she is done after getting to Week Four.

Bristol was better than half the celebrities during her regular season on DWTS, but she was not third best. While I was rooting for her to win it all, she was not third best. There were more than two better than her. But she was better than half of the ones there.

Bristol was also better than two of the All-Stars, one of which still remains. Even so, she lasted longer than her dancing talent alone could carry her in an All-Star season. Wow, can those celebrities dance! I love it! And I loved watching Bristol out there on the dance floor, too.

But the point is Bristol outperformed her ability level. And there’s a reason for that. Oh, the hateful, criminal, terroristic Left can blame it all on the TEA Party, but that’s not the reason. The reason for Bristol’s success on Dancing With The Stars is the hate-filled, criminal, terroristic Left were being hate-filled, criminal and terroristic. That’s the reason. And the TEA Party came to her rescue against the criminal, hate-filled, terroristic Left. That’s it. That’s why Bristol Palin — who is a far better dancer than I ever will be, and a better dancer than many of her opponents — lasted longer than talent alone could take her.

When you hate-filled criminals and terrorists on the Left force a celebrity TV show to provide extra security because you’re sending death threats to a now-22 year old woman, wishing her dead, sending white powder in envelopes to her, what do you expect normal human beings to do? You’re blame right we pushed back against your satanic evil and your criminal actions! We came to the rescue of an innocent young lady you sought to terrorize!

You sphincters on the Left can only blame yourselves for the wild success Bristol is having, despite all your criminal actions. Actually, because of your criminal actions.

Posted in Character, crime, Entertainment, Liberal, Palin, Personal Responsibility, Philosophy, Real Life, society, TEA Party, truth | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Where Are The Artists?

Posted by Foxfier on 2012/10/15

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of folks lamenting how modern art (especially Modern Art) doesn’t have anything to compare to, oh, the great cathedrals of Europe—according to some, doesn’t even have a decently sized mural.  Usually comes with a lot of talk of how soul-killing Walmart and their sort are, but not always.

Besides the obvious opportunity to plug folks like Tim Jones, I think they’re simply not looking right.

 

Depending on your taste in music, you might want to mute this.  Depends on how closely you want to watch.  Either way, maximize this video, and pay attention to things like the flow of the cloth vs fur vs hair, and even how the Asura’s ears move.  Notice the background detail, from a game that was still in testing and development at the time.  Notice the way that light makes a difference.

Guild Wars 2 isn’t a top-of-the-line game, although it is fairly new and well designed.

There’s a part of the game where players go around looking for "vistas"– when you reach the vista point, you activate it, and see… well:

 

The person that made this video had their settings up a bit high, you can tell from the slight hesitations in the visual flow, but look at the detail, and how lovely most of them are.

We still have artists, lots of them.  And they’re being paid for their work.  It’s just not displayed in the form of buildings, or windows, or even on walls; it’s more likely to show up on your computer’s wallpaper.

Posted in Creation, Entertainment, Philosophy, Real Life | Tagged: , , | Comments Off

Blogging Meme

Posted by Foxfier on 2012/09/07

I’d like to know – if you blog for other reasons versus blogging intentionally to build a platform for your writing/your apostolate/your cat – and I am not saying that it’s bad to try to boost blog traffic:

1. If that’s not your primary focus, what enjoyment do you derive from blogging?

2. Do you consider yourself to be a “successful” blogger? In what sense?

3. If you could choose between having a post shared 500 times, or having one of your Internet Idols send you an email to say “I really enjoyed your post,” which would you choose?

From over at Darwin Catholic’s place, shared from a gal trying to figure out why we’d do this for no pay. *grin*  Other authors might want to respond, as well; not sure if the guy has backlinks turned on.

1) Well, I find blogging is a social outlet. I’m much better at typing than I am at talking, and it’s much harder to browbeat me online when I can bring out facts and evidence from objective sources at a moment’s notice.  It’s a place to say things worth saying, and that I just want to say.

2) I don’t think about it.  I wish that I remembered to write more often, I wish that I could sway folks better, I wish that I thought of great lines that I think of days later, I wish that I could develop some of the posts that I think of.  (Part of the addictive nature of Ricochet is that I can pop on for an instant, write a response, and leave.)

3) Definitely a nice email.  I have had emails from online idols—or comments, or “hey, read this!” type links!—and I have had posts shared.  One is pure pleasure, the other just makes it easier for trolls to find you.

Posted in Blogging Matters, economics, Entertainment | Tagged: | 6 Comments »

Hvad har dig, der er ny?

Posted by DNW on 2012/08/10

Or something …

I don’t know. I feel alright. Pretty good in fact. So what am I doing putting this up for?

See I was exploring the odd corners of the Internet and dragging a line through YouTube for jazz tunes, when one link led to another – as so often is the case – and I came across this image of a little Euro-Nebbish (alright so I’m not an expert in Yiddish) looking guy and a woman who I took to be a late 1960′s Nashville Grand Old Opry star.

Was Gotta Fertig Gnew

Well, it turns out that the guy is a Belgian harmonica and guitar player who had a brush with fame in the US at one point, and that the woman is Danish. Toots Thielemans on that most annoying of instruments, the harmonica, and a quite good singer whose name  sounds something like Brigitte or Bridget Lustig.

Fertig Gnewww!
So what’s the point? Other than that she does have mighty big hair piled atop of a very attractive face?

If  you are willing,  give a listen (that’s  Nashville inspired talk) to her speaking voice, and then contrast it with her  singing accent.

I don’t think that even a dialects expert could be certain that this woman was not an American. And, if you tolerate Samba flavored early 1960′s pop music well, you might want to watch the video for a little longer than it takes to do only that.

Oh,  what I was looking for, which I think I may have already placed in a comments section. Well, you won’t want to miss it.  John Coltrane, Germany, 1960.

Posted in Entertainment, Humor - For Some | 3 Comments »

March Madness, 2012 Edition — The Elite Eight

Posted by John Hitchcock on 2012/03/24

The Elite Eight is set, and boy was I wrong. This is why I’m not a sportscaster. Well, one of the reasons, anyway. It’s why I don’t enter any sports pools (other than the fact they are mostly “wink and nod” illegal). I’m not very good at it.

I predicted Ohio State would beat Cincinnati by 6. Ohio State lost a 12-point lead and trailed Cincinnati before getting their blue-collar work ethic back and winning going away, by 15.

I predicted North Carolina would rest their starters around mid-way through the second half against Ohio, and win in a laugher. Ohio took North Carolina into overtime before succumbing.

I predicted Xavier would beat Baylor in overtime. Baylor won by 5 in regulation.

I predicted North Carolina State would beat Kansas on a final shot. Kansas beat NC State by 3.

I predicted Kentucky would beat Indiana by 4. Kentucky won by 12.

I predicted Syracuse would be the most likely 1 seed to fall, and gave Wisconsin even odds of accomplishing it. Syracuse won by a single point. Not a bad prediction on its own, but…

I predicted meatchicken state would beat Louisville (my declared weakest 4 seed in the Sweet 16) by 8. Louisville won by 13.

I predicted Florida would beat Marquette by double digits. Florida won by … 10. (Hurray, me.)

So, my Elite Eight predictions. And this time, no victory margins.

1 Kentucky beats 3 Baylor.
7 Florida beats 4 Louisville.
2 Ohio State beats 1 Syracuse.
2 Kansas beats 1 North Carolina.

That would leave 2 SEC teams, a Big Ten team, and a Big Twelve team.

Posted in Entertainment, sports | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Pop vs Popular

Posted by Foxfier on 2011/11/09

This is spoiler-free, for two reasons: one, I haven’t seen an episode of Mad Men, and two, I don’t want to spend an hour trying to figure out episodes and times for story points in NCIS.

From Ricochet guest writer, Richard Rushfield.

Next March, AMC’s Mad Men will return to the airwaves after a year and a half absence. It’s return will be treated as the most significant cultural event of the year. Its stars will blanket the covers of our glossy magazines. Articles will be written in the New York Times and our most elite literary journals dissecting the show’s meaning. Banana Republic will promote its high end Mad Men line.

Mad Men at its height was watched by 2.9 million viewers. In contrast, CBS’ military police procedural drama NCIS last week was seen by 19.7 million viewers. As far as I can tell, NCIS has never been featured on the cover of any major American magazine apart from TV Guide and one issue of Inland Empire, the magazine of California’s suburban Riverside and San Bernadino counties.

First, let me say– as polished and stylish as the guys in Mad Men look, let alone the lovely lady, I gotta prefer Gibbs and co. It’s nice to hear that there’s a decent number of my fellow Americans who are likewise getting their dose. ;^)

This is not to say that NCIS is more deserving of a magazine cover than Mad Men, or that ratings numbers alone should determine what gets coverage and critical attention and what gets ignored. With its layered, morally ambiguous plotting and characters, Mad Men no doubt provides much richer fields for critical inquiry than the straightforward crime of the week NCIS.

I’d say that NCIS is more deserving of a cover. There’s no shortage of writers who lived through the sixties– there’s a definite shortage of those who can write modern military stories and get it right often enough to be enjoyable. (My biggest complaint is on technology, for crying out loud, not military.)

Then again, I also think that NCIS is a lot more worthy of consideration than he’s giving them credit for. Mad Men is, from the promotional stuff, pretentiously ‘deep.’ It’s got a great big sign hanging over it with flashing neon lettering saying “I AM SERIOUS AND DEEP. DEEPLY SERIOUS.”

NCIS, on the other hand– Elf borrowed the entire series up to season six from a coworker, and I’m constantly surprised at how good it is.  If you pay attention– or if you’re watching two or three episodes in order, two or three times a week– they are amazing.  At least once a week– usually once an evening– while we were burning through the series, I’d suddenly get hit over the head with things they’d been hinting at for weeks.  The relationships between the characters, especially, are very well done.

I hate being manipulated by a show, and I know enough about narrative structure, musical tricks and basic production to catch on to the things that shows usually do as shortcuts.  Can’t count the number of times Elf has ordered me to stop thinking and enjoy something.

NCIS not only doesn’t lean on those shortcuts, it generally uses them correctly as intensifiers when they’ve already laid the story-and-acting ground, or to give a misleading impression that heightens the payoff.  (Misleading, not false.  There is a difference.)

Unlike the umpty-bazillion police shows, I generally can’t tell you who will be the bad guy in the first five minutes of an episode of NCIS, and if I can there’s a good reason for it.  (Such as that the characters know it, too, or they’re the bad guy for totally different reasons than I assumed.)

Probably part of NCIS’ success is due to their lack of pretension.  Just like actual military folks I know, they are serious, silly, noble, immoral, utter jerks and have hearts of gold at different times with different motivations.  Some things strain credibility from an outside point– like Abby’s antics– but reality does that, if you are introduced to a situation with no background.  Failure to realize that is part of why so many workplaces are soulless; new boss comes in and destroys any character that a places had.  (I’ll agree that the repeated failure of new powers to succeed in wiping out the awesome characteristics of the NCIS workplace is a bit unlikely, but there’s got to be some wish fulfillment here.)

Posted in Entertainment, media, society | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

 
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