Monday, January 29, 2024

Dune: Part Two

March 1, 2024 in theaters.

Some reflection on Part One:

New York Times - "The Man Who Finally Made a ‘Dune’ That Fans Will Love"

"An environmental fable, a parable of the oil economy, a critique of colonialism, a warning against putting your faith in charismatic leaders, “Dune” tells the story of Paul Atreides, an aristocratic teenager who travels to a distant land; joins with a desert people, the Fremen; becomes their messiah; and leads them into revolt against their colonial oppressors. Paul’s story recalls “Lawrence of Arabia” (Herbert was influenced by T.E. Lawrence), and “Lawrence” came to mind as I watched “Dune.” Each movie is a character-driven geopolitical epic, each was filmed in Jordan’s Wadi Rum and each is a spectacularly beautiful cinematic ode to the desert.

Villeneuve’s movies have often revisited desert landscapes: salt flats in Utah in his first movie, “Un 32 Août Sur Terre” (“August 32nd on Earth”); the Middle Eastern desert of “Incendies”; the Chihuahuan desert for “Sicario”; the sands under postapocalyptic fog shrouding Las Vegas in “Blade Runner 2049.” When he told me his impulse to make “Dune” was just a pretext to go back deep into the desert, he laughed. Villeneuve’s laughter, I would learn, often precedes statements of searching honesty. He loves deserts for the feeling of isolation they bring, he explained, how they “reflect your interiority, and the deeper you go in the desert, the deeper you go in yourself. That kind of introspection always had a very deep melancholic impact on me,” he added. “In the desert I feel strangely at home.” He drew a parallel with Paul Atreides, played by Chalamet in “Dune.” “When Paul is for the first time in contact with the desert,” Villeneuve explained, it “feels strangely familiar. That for me is the moment that deeply moves me. The fact that he is in a totally alien landscape, but he feels at home.”"

Road House Remake

Why we go to the moon

The Loss of Magazine Covers


Restaurant Menu Trends


New York Times - "The Menu Trends That Define Dining Right Now"

Modern Day Simpsons Classic


Cracked - "An Oral History of ‘A Serious Flanders,’ the Best Modern Episode of ‘The Simpsons’"

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) as The Simpsons (Aug. 2019)
The Simpsons Aesthetic (Mar. 2020)
Legendary Simpsons Writer John Swartzwelder (May 2021)

The Defensive Coordinator that took down the 07 Patriots and 23 Ravens


The Athletic - "‘Spags is a wizard’: How Steve Spagnuolo turned Chiefs defense into one of NFL’s best"

"Standing next to a whiteboard, Spagnuolo, the Chiefs defensive coordinator, started his halftime address with a simple question.

“You guys ready?”

Spagnuolo changed the rushing lanes for the defensive linemen, a move designed to keep Allen in the pocket. He had the secondary play more zone coverage than usual to keep its collective eye on the quarterback and his pass catchers. Spagnualo used his linebackers in simulated pressures and called more run blitzes on first down.

“We made some (pre-snap) checks that we never practiced,” safety Justin Reid said. “We put them in at halftime and went out and executed them on the field. It made all the difference.”

“We fixed the things that needed to be fixed,” linebacker Drue Tranquill said.

In a major twist, the defense has been the most productive part of a Chiefs team that finds itself back in the AFC Championship Game for a sixth consecutive season. No opponent has scored 30 points on Spagnuolo’s unit, which allowed the fewest second-half points (126) in the league. The Chiefs finished the regular season allowing just 17.3 points per game, second-fewest in the NFL.

Allen, one of the league’s most talented quarterbacks, had just two games this season in which he averaged 5.5 yards per pass attempt or fewer. Both came against the Chiefs. In Sunday’s elimination game, Allen and the Bills didn’t score in the fourth quarter of Kansas City’s 27-24 victory.

“He’s a headache,” Spagnuolo said of Allen after the game, his voice filled with relief.

The reason the Chiefs defense could make so many alterations at halftime, Spagnuolo said, was because his players can help solve schematic problems alongside him.

“They love playing together,” Spagnuolo said. “I love the chemistry, and it shows on the field. When you get into games like this, chemistry, cohesiveness and guys having confidence in being really bold, is really, really important."

Friday, January 19, 2024

Breckenridge's Statue of Ullr, Norse God


Summit Daily - "New sculpture of Ullr intended to reflect the spirit of Breckenridge"

R.I.P. Pitchfork


Platformer - "How platforms killed Pitchfork"
By Casey Newton

"As a longtime and once diehard reader of the site, my feelings tracked exactly with Cox’s. Created by Ryan Schreiber in 1996 while he worked at a record store outside of Minneapolis, Pitchfork came to prominence in the early 2000s on the back of its obsessive, audacious, and (yes) often obnoxious reviews.

I was an early college graduate in those days, and considered good taste in music a pillar of my identity, and so in hindsight it was inevitable that I would come to read the site religiously. Each day, I would read the site’s daily reviews during my lunch break, waiting for the moments when the staff would hand out one of their relatively rare “best new music” designations.

In the early days I remember laughing out loud at Pitchfork’s reviews, which often ran into the thousands of words and at times seemed to have little to do with the music itself. Over time, though, I came to appreciate the vast musical knowledge possessed by even the most occasional freelancer for the site. Open a review of a band you had never heard of and you could be certain the piece would place their new record in the context of everything else they had ever recorded, the genre in which they operated, and possibly the entire history of recorded music.

And beyond being knowledgeable, Pitchfork was deeply opinionated. At a time when Rolling Stone and other music magazines were rubber-stamping nearly every review with a milquetoast three-star rating, Pitchfork went out of its way to pick fights, famously slagging Liz Phair, the Dismemberment Plans’ Travis Morrison, and others during its early reign of terror.

People hated them for it, of course, and roughly half of the anti-hipster discourse that dominated Tumblr in the late 2000s seemed focused on the pretension and snobbery that, to some people, Pitchfork had come to represent. What that criticism missed was how often Pitchfork got it right: in its famous (and appropriate) veneration of Radiohead, of course, but also in the way it championed Wilco, Arcade Fire, Cat Power, Bloc Party, and dozens of other great artists long before they achieved wider success.

Crucially, Pitchfork also served as a bridge between boomer and Gen X music critics and millennials. While it was best known for its daily reviews, Pitchfork also took a stab at curating a canon, with occasional lists of the best songs of previous decades putting contemporary indie rock, pop, and hip-hop into conversation with the past.

It had its blind spots, of course: the site was particularly slow to pay significant attention to pop and hip-hop. But it eventually broadened its focus, and by the time it got acquired it was the standard bearer for sharp, literate music criticism."

From South Dakota to Tuscaloosa


Yahoo Sports - "From South Dakota to Tuscaloosa: How Kalen DeBoer became Nick Saban's successor at Alabama"

"DeBoer’s rise isn’t a surprise to those who have known him along the way. “Kalen has the ‘It’ factor, a natural leadership quality that I think the players respect and rally around,” Lennon says. “He can make things happen, he has sincerity, intelligence, he’s very approachable … He’s the type of coach you want to play for.”

For his part, DeBoer traces all his success back to his South Dakota origins. “I think building a team, a championship-level team really goes to the roots of Sioux Falls,” DeBoer told “In Play,” a South Dakota Public Broadcasting podcast, last month. “Love and trust for each other, doing anything for the team first, and then the individual accolades will come.”"

Passion Fruit and the Classic American Hamburger


New Yorker - "A Passion-Fruit Devotee’s Pilgrimage West"
By Hannah Goldfield

"About a decade ago, a friend of mine and her husband moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles. After landing at LAX, they went straight to Gjelina, a restaurant in Venice that exemplifies a certain image of life in Southern California: seasonal, sensual, wood-fired cooking; a sun-dappled patio near the beach. “We had this long, exquisite lunch,” she recalled recently. “And just as we were getting ready to pay the bill, feeling like ‘Wow, we’re Californians now!,’ something dropped out of the sky and landed in the middle of the table.” A passion fruit had fallen from one of the vines overhead, and as they sat there staring at it in delight a waiter appeared. “Wordlessly,” she said, “he cut the fruit into two hemispheres and handed each of us a tiny dessert spoon.”

The story sounds like it was plucked out of a tourism campaign, or the depths of my subconscious. I first tried fresh passion fruit fifteen years ago, in Brazil, and in the years since it has captured my appetite and my imagination in equal measure. A passion fruit is as enclosed and mysterious as a hen’s egg, though a common commercial variety called Frederick’s looks like it was laid by a dragon: when it falls off the vine, its exterior is smooth, firm, and slightly speckled, the deep purple color of wine-stained lips. The shell is stiff and leathery, requiring a bit of sawing to open. What’s inside seems almost not meant to be seen: a geometrical, otherworldly cluster of small black seeds (edible, delicate, and pleasingly crunchy), each suspended in an orb of glossy, sunset-colored pulp, surrounded by fragrant juice of the same golden hue, as obscenely slurpable as an oyster. I find the flavor, perhaps my single favorite, intoxicating. It’s citrus-adjacent, but more complex: sweet, bright, savory, sour, and even a touch sulfuric."

New Yorker - "Reviving the Classic American Burger"

"As with pizza, barbecue, and other archetypal American foods, there’s no shortage of strong opinions about what constitutes a proper burger, but George Motz has earned a right to his opinion more than most. Arguably our foremost scholar of hamburgers and their history, Motz has made documentaries, hosted television shows, and authored several books about burgers, and has even taught a hamburger seminar at N.Y.U. So when he announced, last year, that he would be opening a burger joint of his own, New York’s center of hamburger gravity shifted—subtly, but perceptibly—toward the red brick building on the corner of MacDougal and Houston where Motz had signed a lease. The restaurant, which opened in November, all kitted out with chrome and Formica, is a retro fantasia bearing the same grand, unifying, hand-on-heart name as his first film, and his first book: Hamburger America."

The Dakar Rally


Reuters - "Driving in the desert: Surreal images from the Dakar Rally"

From Wikipedia:

The Dakar Rally or simply "The Dakar", formerly known as the "Paris–Dakar Rally", is an annual rally raid organised by the Amaury Sport Organisation. Most events since the inception in 1978 were staged from Paris, France, to Dakar, Senegal. Security threats in Mauritania led to the cancellation of the 2008 rally, and events from 2009 to 2019 were held in South America. Since 2020, the rally has been held in Saudi Arabia. The event is open to amateur and professional entries, professionals typically making up about eighty percent of the participants.

The rally is an off-road endurance event. The terrain that the competitors traverse is much tougher than that used in conventional rallying, and the vehicles used are typically true off-road vehicles and motorcycles, rather than modified on-road vehicles. Most of the competitive special sections are off-road, crossing dunes, mud, camel grass, rocks, and erg among others. The distances of each stage covered vary from short distances up to 800–900 kilometres (500–560 mi) per day. The rough terrain and lack of skill usually results in accidents and serious injuries.


Imagine a race where cars, motorcycles, trucks and quads zoom across vast deserts, challenging both the vehicles and the drivers to their limits. That's the Dakar Rally, an incredible adventure that takes place every year in a different part of the world.

The 46th edition of the Dakar Rally will be hosted by Saudi Arabia from January 5–19, 2024. Starting from the city of AlUla and ending at Yanbu on the Red Sea coast, the near 7,900km route, of which 4,727km are timed specials, includes some of the most breathtaking and difficult terrains of Saudi Arabia including the Empty Quarter, Rub' al Khali and Wadi Rum.

The race is a combination of speed, endurance, strategy and teamwork, and it is considered one of the most grueling and exciting motorsports competitions in the world. Drivers and their navigators must work together to navigate tricky terrain, overcome obstacles and face unexpected challenges in order to make it to the finish line.

With more than 1,000 people lining up to race, the 2024 Dakar Rally promises to be another epic rally-raid adventure over the sand dunes with a host of established global stars and talented young racers out to impress.

Global Rise of Afrobeats


Rest of World - "How Spotify helped turn Afrobeats into a global phenomenon"

The 49ers's “contagious competitiveness”


The Athletic - "How a Stanford professor helped lay the foundation for this 49ers era"

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Darren Aronofsky's "Limitless with Chris Hemsworth"

3 Body Problem Final Trailer

The Hollywood Reporter - "‘Game of Thrones’ Creators’ Wild Road to Their Biggest Gamble Yet: Netflix’s ‘3 Body Problem’"

"3 Body Problem is an adaptation of Liu Cixin’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past book trilogy, which debuted in China in 2008 to enormous popularity and acclaim. Six years later, when the saga was translated and released in the United States, The Three-Body Problem became the first Asian title to win the Hugo Award for best novel. Fans range from Mark Zuckerberg to Barack Obama to Thrones author George R.R. Martin. A short description goes like this: Remembrance of Earth’s Past chronicles humanity’s efforts to survive an impending invasion from an alien race that’s fleeing a dying planet. The story opens in 1967 during the Chinese Cultural Revolution and stretches to, well … to a very, very long time from now.

Dan Weiss, Alexander Woo and David Benioff were photographed Oct. 24 at Smashbox Studios in Culver City. PHOTOGRAPHED BY CHRISTOPHER PATEY It’s a saga Netflix’s head of scripted, Peter Friedlander, had been wanting to make for years when he convinced Benioff and Weiss to take a look at the material. The duo read the books while returning from a Thrones promotional trip to Tokyo.

“We finished within 10 minutes of each other and Dan came over to my seat and said, ‘What do you think?’ ” Benioff recalls. “I said, ‘Well, that ending is amazing.’ And Dan says, ‘We’ve got to do this, right?’ ”

Says Weiss: “What excited us about Thrones when we read George’s books was that this was something we had never seen onscreen before. In a lot of ways, this couldn’t be more different from Game of Thrones, but it had that in common.”

Benioff concurs. “It was the first thing we’d come across since Thrones where we were actually scared. We knew this is going to be hard.”

In 3 Body Problem — or 3BP, bowing March 21 on Netflix — the aliens are not traveling at Star Trek-ian warp speed. It’s going to take them 400 years to reach Earth, which gives humanity quite a bit of time to strategize for their arrival — and to fight amongst themselves about what the invasion means and who might benefit. Much of the show’s first season follows a fractious group of physicists who come together under the leadership of a shadowy British intelligence chief as they spar against a murderous cult that wants to help the aliens colonize Earth. The spy chief is played by Liam Cunningham (who was Ser Davos Seaworth on Thrones) and the cult leader is played by Jonathan Pryce (who was the High Sparrow on Thrones)."

PTA's Next Movie


Deadline - "Paul Thomas Anderson & Warner Bros Set Leonardo DiCaprio, Sean Penn, Regina Hall In Film To Shoot This Year"

"Warner Bros has Paul Thomas Anderson set to direct Oscar winners Leonardo DiCaprio and Sean Penn as well as Regina Hall in an untitled film that will begin production this year in California. Anderson wrote the script, and he will produce the film with Sara Murphy and Adam Somner.

The film is currently untitled and they’re keeping the logline under wraps. We have learned that it is a contemporary setting and it is the most commercial one PTA has attempted, with commensurate budget. It came out of a relationship that Warner Bros Picture Group co-chairs/CEOs Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy built making PTA’s last film, Licorice Pizza, while they ran MGM. That film got three Oscar noms for Best Picture, and Best Screenplay and Best Director for PTA."


GQ - "How Athletic Beer Won Over America"

"Before founding Athletic in 2017, Shufelt had been employed at a hedge fund, a gig that comes with a built-in work-hard, play-hard ethos. He was also big into endurance races, and decided to take a break from alcohol to feel and perform better.

It worked—only trouble was, all the attendant social responsibilities of his job and his life. “I’d never really thought of nonalcoholic beer except to make fun of nonalcoholic beer,” Shufelt says. “Until I was actually looking to drink good nonalcoholic beer.”

Ever the finance guy, Shufelt took a closer look at the numbers.

“It turns out over 30% of people [in America] don't drink at all, and almost 60 percent of people barely drink. That’s a ton of money left on the table, so the economic opportunity was obvious to me,” Shufelt says. “Everyone always thought the occasion base for nonalcoholic beer was one percent of one percent of the time. It's pretty much totally the opposite—most people are not drinking most of the time.”

At the suggestion of his wife, he quit his job to found his own nonalcoholic brewery. Getting a brewer to partner with him—now, that was the tough part. Shufelt endured dozens of rejections before he met Walker. The craft brewer had been making a living for the past 15 years in New Mexico, but was looking to move his family back to his home state."

Athletic Brewing Company (Jan. 2021)

The Return of Seattle Reign FC's Name and Original Logo


Seattle Times - "OL Reign transform to Seattle Reign FC in throwback to original name and crest"

"In the fourth iteration of the Reign’s crest, gold accents represent the team’s success in winning three NWSL Shields, a trophy for finishing atop league standings at the end of the regular season."

Sports Predictions for 2024


GQ - "Ohtani Makes (More) History, Caitlin Clark Goes Even Harder, and 22 Other Things That Will Definitely Happen in 2024"


The Minnesota Timberwolves secure the West’s No. 1 seed for the first time in 20 years and are rewarded with a matchup against either Steph Curry, LeBron James, or Kevin Durant in the first round of the playoffs.
Congratulations, Minnesota! You’ve earned this. The state has endured literal decades of bad basketball while waiting for a team like this, which features two former No. 1 overall picks and a three-time Defensive Player of the Year. The T-Wolves’ best season since the Garnett days earns them the best record in the conference and ships them right into a series against one of the best players ever.

The Stanley Cup Final takes place exclusively in cold weather cities.

You might be thinking, “So what?” Well, that hasn’t happened since 2013! That was a Chicago-Boston series, much more evocative of a frozen winter sport than the years since, when places like Vegas, Tampa, Nashville, San Jose, and Sunrise, Florida have hosted a handful of hockey's biggest games.

Justin Fields, Marvin Harrison Jr., and Derrick Henry lead the Chicago Bears back to the playoffs.
No one feels more like a Chicago Bears running back than King Henry, who is a free agent heading into the 2024 campaign. You can practically picture him lumbering off the field with his jersey caked in Soldier Field mud after a 175-yard, two touchdown day. The Bears—who have the same feel as the Lions did this time last year—become a much more attractive destination after drafting Marv in April.

The Canadian men’s basketball team win gold at the 2024 Olympics.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, RJ Barrett, and Dillon Brooks—the eternal pest who, when draped in the red-and-white of his home nation, undergoes an Olympic Melo-like transformation—led Canada to their first Olympic berth since Steve Nash’s 2000 squad by securing a bronze medal at last summer’s FIBA World Cup. Now, unleashed on the world’s biggest stage for the first time, this young, hungry, absurdly talented group will look to leapfrog up the podium. Who’s going to stop them—an almost-40 LeBron, a perpetually injured KD, and Steph Curry coming off a slump of a Warriors season? Doubtful.

The rise of Olympic breakdancing will cause an unprecedented wave of dance-circle-related injuries during summer wedding season.

Breaking, the latest addition to the Games, will—much as skateboarding did at Tokyo 2020—no doubt become the talk of Paris 2024. Just steer clear of your Uncle Frank on the dancefloor at your cousin’s nuptials in August when he tries to boozily recreate the gold-winning performance and winds up dislocating a shoulder and punting a bystander in the chin in the process. -Yang-Yi Goh

The Global EV Series Honda Zero (2026 and Beyond)