Harper's Island


A cool-sounding genre series doesn't live up to its promise in the first episode.

Harper's Island: Series Premiere

"Even without a killer traipsing around the island, this party would be in trouble. The bride has a boyfriend on the side. Her father is trying to stop the marriage. The female guests maraud around in their underwear, Henry’s uncle threatens to blackmail his father-in-law-to-be, and Henry’s brother is suicidal. Even the flower girl seems pained, frying slugs with a magnifying glass and looking generally creepy."

April Issue

In times like these, it's refreshing to see such a thick issue.

The Gowns in our Towns
A round-up of profiles of local college students: "Q: When the election happened, and Sarah Palin was picked as a VP candidate, did everybody look to you as a representative of Alaska? A: Absolutely. People were always asking me about Alaska and cracking jokes about her. When I first came here, I would get questions like, ‘Do you live in an igloo?’ or ‘Are you an Eskimo?’ During the election, people were finally asking me actual questions about Alaska."

Laid Off...Now What? & Open..Now?

In a special look at the economy, we profiled residents who have recently been laid of as well as new businesses opening in a tough climate. (I profiled Jules C., the seventh person included, for the first item, and Five Corners, the sixth business, for the second article.) "Q: Is there an upside to being unemployed? A: I can do small improvements around the house. I always have a home-cooked meal prepared. I also work on my art. I do commission artwork, but no one is paying me to do that now."

Better Than Epcot

A look at the county's cultural centers: "India Center president Ralph D’Souza says the India Center of Westchester includes 'Indian Americans from all regions of India and really represents its many cultures and religions.' It makes sense, then, to offer classes in a slew of languages, including Telgu, Kannada, Sanskrit, Tamil, and Hindi. Languages at the India Center aren’t just spoken, they’re sung, too, with classes available for Carnatic, Hindustani, and other classical or semi-classical vocal styles. (You can also learn to back up these singers on the sitar and tabla, or with Bharata Natyam or Kathak dance.)"

Pure Poetry

Celebrating National Poetry Month: "D
o you think that you will never see a poem as lovely as Westchester County? Since April is National Poetry Month, we figured we'd try to capture the county in verse. Here, we asked the local Longfellows at the Hudson Valley Writers' Center in Sleepy Hollow to write haikus inspired by Westchester."

He Talk Pretty

A blurb about David Sedaris: "'I haven’t the slightest idea how to change people,' author and humorist David Sedaris wrote in his book, Naked, 'but still I keep a long list of prospective candidates just in case I should ever figure it out.' Hopefully, he doesn’t include himself on that list—we like him the way he is."

Culture, Etc.

This month's highlights: Earth Day, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, and more.

Beyond Race Two-For-One

Lots of good shows going on in New York. I managed to write up a couple for Beyond Race.

OK Go @ The Music Hall of Williamsburg

"For better or worse, OK Go owes a lot of its fame to a cheap little video it made for 'Here It Goes Again,' a song off their last album, Oh No. No doubt you've seen it: The four band members lip synch while deftly performing a synchronized dance on a series of moving treadmills. At the Music Hall of Williamsburg, one of a handful of dates on a short tour, indeed the crowd seemed most familiar with 'Here It Goes Again.' The task for the band was to prove that it was more than just a viral Internet novelty."

The Mountain Goats @ New York Society for Ethical Culture

"Vanderslice joined Darnielle on stage to do some of the songs they've written together (for a concept project about an organ-harvesting colony on the moon), but only got through two songs before they realized they were way over curfew. Darnielle raced through 'See America Right' and perennial set-closer 'No Children,' and, with the house lights already gone and the assurance that there wouldn't be an encore, the crowd mostly left. The stragglers were rewarded, however, since a few vocal and determined fans demanded a real encore. Darnielle came back on stage and played a cover of Ace of Base's "The Sign" to a half-empty auditorium—and, since the show was officially over, the night ended as it began: totally unamplified. But, with Darnielle and the stragglers singing along, it was no longer wordless."

Double PopMatters Day


Another show canceled before its time:

Andy Richter Controls the Universe: The Complete Series

"While there are unbelievable moments involving kangaroo fights, sequined in-office song-and-dance routines, and Andy squeezing coal into a diamond, the characters on the show are always seen as realistic. Nobody is a moustache-twirling villain. The closest thing Andy has to a rival is his very attractive coworker, Keith (James Patrick Stuart)—who also happens to be one of Andy’s best friends and is an all-around nice guy. Life is just easier for him because he’s handsome, and Andy is understandably bitter about that, but the show stops there and doesn’t fall into the trap of turning Keith into a cartoonish, womanizing jerk. In fact, they go out of their way to give him some insecurity about his looks. (He has small feet.)"

Party Like It's 1999

In honor of PopMatter's 10-year anniversary, we're taking a look back at the (many, terrific) films of 1999. Since I've lived so close to the actual town of Sleepy Hollow, I chose Tim Burton's film to write up.

Decade-Dense: The 60 Most Memorable Films of 1999: Sleepy Hollow

"Like their first collaboration, 1990’s brilliant Edward Scissorhands—and like fellow 1999 honoree American BeautySleepy Hollow is an examination and condemnation of the suburbs. Poking beneath the seams of the idyllic countryside (which, to be fair, never looks quite that idyllic through Burton’s lens, as there’s a permanent gloom and fog that’s a stark contrast to Scissorhands' bright palette), he finds horrors far worse than the street thugs of the city: a ruling cabal of unstoppable men (whom Burton calls the “Dutch Masters"), materialistic and status-seeking women, and, only slightly less scary, a reanimated, decapitated Hessian who preys on the town’s residents."

Hail to the Kings


I got to review the craziest new show on television.

Kings: Series Premiere

"Repeatedly, Kings shifts from personal to political conflicts, intimating that they are, after all, the same thing. Whether disputes occur between two nations or two people, all the relationships here have to do with power. Players do what it takes to get and keep it, exploiting others and making sacrifices. King Silas and David Shepherd are alike in that they both wonder if, in the end, those sacrifices are worth it."

Whose House?


House: 100th Episode

"In many ways, the 100th episode of House is just like the first, or the 35th, or the 62nd, or any of the other 99 that came before it. The show always starts with the patient of the week collapsing while doing something routine (this time, it’s chopping onions). The team starts its diagnosis. While they’re working their way through theory after theory—and no, it’s not lupus—each learns something about him or herself, based on the patient’s condition. The 100th episode hews close to this formula, and without tricks. Nobody threatens to blow up the hospital. There are no storytelling gimmicks, no time travel, no dream sequences—even though House has employed all of these tactics in the past."

February & March Issues


It's been busy, so I'm catching up now on the February and March issues.

34 Sensational New Stores
A round-up of the new shops that have opened in the past years: "So many wind chimes and doodads hang from the ceiling and so many picture frames and plaques hang on the walls that you probably can find a gift for your next occasion without even looking on the shelves (which are also full of items)."

Factory Master
An article about two concurrent Andy Warhol exhibitions: "'Andy Warhol is often talked about as if he has no explicit content,' says Thom Collins, the museum’s director. 'He’s known for his riffs on American commodity culture, and he plays with the idea of celebrity, but mostly he’s talked about as being very superficial. They say you don’t see any of his interests, his concerns, or himself in his work. These two exhibitions tell a new story about Warhol and attempt to reintroduce him as more substantive than was previously thought.'”

Culture, Etc. (February)
Loudon Wainwright, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and more.

Culture, Etc. (March)
Roy Lichtenstein, Art Garfunkel, Lesley Gore, and more.

Home Theater (February)
Snow Angels, Reprise, and Frozen River.

Home Theater (March)
Quantum of Solace, Rachel Getting Married, Let the Right One In, and Andy Richter Controls the Universe.

And a couple articles I've assigned:

Homemade Jams
Local blues jams in the area.

Straight Shooting
An unusual hobby described as "golf with guns."

Time Out for a Drink


You Asked for It: Working Bars

Everybody knows you can tote your laptop to a coffee shop, but what if you want something with a little kick to it? I did a round-up of eight bars where you can put in a day's work: "Mac on the fritz? Ditch the Genius Bar for this one, which keeps a communal computer on hand for patrons. (No hogging it just to update your Facebook page, you hear?) Happy hours on most weekdays keep you in $3 draft beers, or you can spring for a newly created drink called the Recession: gin, PBR and limeade."

January Issue


Our Frugal Guide certainly couldn't have been better-timed, wouldn't you say?

The Backyard Backlot

The Jacob Burns Film Center, the go-to spot for film nerds in the county, gets even better by opening up a new Media Arts Lab for film education: "The building itself, situated on the corner of Manville Road and Grant Street, just down the street from the Jacob Burns Film Center, is special enough to warrant its own making-of documentary. The whole thing is LEED-certified, meaning it’s held to the greenest of standards. The offices are made of recycled materials, work off of natural light, are heated and cooled by geothermal energy, and have solar panels up on the roof—as well as a roof-deck perfectly suited for a swank film premiere party."

Oxen Free

How this year's designation as The Year of the Ox bodes for 2009: "Craig Haney, livestock manager of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, praises the animals for their industriousness. 'They literally put their shoulders into their work,' he says. 'If you think about our current financial crisis, we’re going to be seeing a lot of that this year.'"

Culture, Etc.

Edwin McCain, a New York animation exhibition, and more.

Home Theater

Breakfast at Tiffany's, Pineapple Express, Repo! The Genetic Opera.

Assigned:

Give Her the Slip

First-person essay: "When moving from LA to Westchester, climate isn’t the only reason for a change in wardrobe, says DeLauné Michel, author and founder of Spoken Interludes, a literary salon."