Arts Desk

Arts Morning Roundup: Mocking Malcolm Gladwell

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Morning, y'all! Roundup's a little late today, as your pep pep had a helluva night. Top of the news pile: the Book World podcast is in trouble! Daniel Radcliffe fulfills early 2000s-era MAD magazine prophecy by morphing into Harry Pothead! Somebody get Mike Phelps on the horn to counsel this kid through his first big publicity pitfall! And a short video about Dock Ellis' love of LSD (via kspace.tv).

Vicious mockery of Malcolm Gladwell, the failings of great writers and of the much anticipated Amelia, and what the Beatles' shitty recordings say about contemporary album production, after the jump.

- One could safely argue that Malcolm Gladwell, more than anyone else, helped popularize counter-intuitive nonfiction writing. For this, he should have his pubic hair plucked out by sand crabs. Or be lampooned by Vanity Fair. Here are some gems from the latter option: "Why do people unwrap Christmas presents? If we could come up with an answer to this question, it is entirely possible that we could stop all wars, erase all famines, and bring an end to global warming"; "In a controlled research investigation involving uninterrupted surveillance videotaping, a sustained loop of twinkly music, and state-of-the-art ­merriness-determination equip­ment, a Dutch santologist named Hans Bunquum discovered the secret to Claus’s phenomenal success"; "On every accepted level, Santa Claus is a total loser." HAHAHA.

- Mary HK Choi's review of 2012 is the literary equivalent of being punched in the face and then spun in a circle and then made-out with.

- What do Ernest Hemingway, William Golding, and Winston Churchill have in common? They all suck as writers, according to a machine that judges such things. Thankfully, the machine was developed as a joke. Just kidding! "[E]xam boards [in the UK] are working on systems which would allow pupils to sit their exams online and for them to be marked by computer." Y'all are fucked, kids!

- Yo-Yo Ma is set to release the largest box set of all time: 88 discs.

- Andrew Hazlett, whose twitter feed is judiciously artsy, posted a doozie of a question yesterday: "Does online 'monopoly populism' crush niche culture?" Hazlett quotes a revealing analogy from the Whimsley blog: "[I]n Internet World the customers see further, but they are all looking out from the same tall hilltop. In Offline World individual customers are standing on different, lower, hilltops." And where does that make more sense than music writing? Just keep on an eye on the Best of 2009 lists that are starting to roll out, from New York magazine to NPR to Hipster Runoff, the portion of the Venn Diagram that represents agreement is growing, but the information contained by that slice is not. Ergo, I am feeling more and more agreeable towards Howard Mandel's views about the lack of diversity in music writing. This also (might) explain (in part) why Mark Athitakis, who knows everything about Chicago and its writers, didn't know about Cyrus Colter until very recently.

- Douglas Wolk on why sloppy playing is actually better without Pro Tools.

- Why is Amelia sucking? Virginia Postrel has the answer.

Alright, folks, that's it for today.

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