Thursday night links!
* I saw Zombieland tonight and was impressed with how well America kept its Big Cameo secret. (I won't spoil things either.) The movie itself is pretty fun, if less funny than it thinks and a little cartoonish at times. I find in general that I prefer my zombie movies to be psychologically realistic and thematically bleak, with roughly two-thirds of the film devoted to the building of systematic fortifications and the last third devoted to the spectacular destruction of said fortifications.
* This is a great blog and Imma let you finish, but MetaFilter has the best Balloon Boy thread of all time. Don't miss what could be the exciting start of Phase 2: "You guys said we did it for the show."
* Why Your Idea to Save Journalism Won't Work.
* Nice to see Mad Men getting some press in the Atlantic, but couldn't they have found someone who actually gets the show?
Mad Men’s most egregious stumble—though seemingly a small one—involves Betty Draper’s college career, and it is generally emblematic of this extraordinarily accomplished show’s greatest weaknesses, and specifically emblematic of its confused approach to this poorly defined character. Betty, the show establishes, was in a sorority. So far, okay. Pretty, with a little-girl voice and a childlike, almost lobotomized affect; humorless; bland but at times creepily calculating (as when she seeks solace by manipulating her vulnerable friend into an affair); obsessed with appearances and therefore lacking in inner resources; a consistently cold and frequently vindictive mother; a daddy’s girl—Betty is written, and clumsily performed by model-turned-actress January Jones, as a clichéd shallow sorority sister. (Just as Don’s self-invented identity is Gatsby-like, so Betty, his wife, is a jejune ornament like Daisy, though without the voice full of money.) But she’s also a character deeply wronged by her serial-philanderer husband, and she’s hazily presented as a stultified victim of soulless postwar suburban ennui (now there’s a cliché). So, perhaps to bestow gravitas on her, or at least some upper-classiness, the show establishes that she went to Bryn Mawr. But of course Bryn Mawr has never had sororities. By far the brainiest of the Seven Sisters—cussed, straight-backed, high-minded, and feminist (its students, so the wags said, preferred the Ph.D. to the Mrs.)—Bryn Mawr was probably the least likely college that Betty Draper, given to such non-U genteelisms as “passed away,” would have attended. So much for satiric exactitude.As I complained in the MeFi thread, Betty's problem isn't that she's bland, humorless, or stupid but that she hates her life.
* Chicago and the Great Flood of 1992.
* How the Freaknomics authors blew a chapter on climate change in the book's new sequel, Superfreakonomics.
* “The original Gauntlet was released with no ending. The hundred or so levels were randomised and looped for as long as play lasted. Atari saw Gauntlet as a process, a game that was played for its own sake and not to reach completion. The adventurers continue forever until their life drains out, their quest ultimately hopeless.”