Word of Mouth 03.24.2012
Part 1: "This is what democracy looks like!"
Among this year’s signs of spring – the return of Occupy protesters. Of course, the movement didn’t actually go away over the winter so much as mutate. Occupy the Courts, Occupy our Homes, and Occupy the Primaries are all examples of how Occupy protests continue to exist outside the conventions of previous movements. It’s long been pointed out that it’s de-centralized structure and distrust of politics has prevented occupiers from directly endorsing candidates in 2012 – and yet, there are some House and Senate contenders who are inextricably tied to the nationwide protests of last fall.
Watch Hakeem Jeffries' speech at Zuccotti park:
Alan Grayson going toe-to-toe with P.J. O'Rourke on Real Time with Bill Maher
Law and Order: MKE (Mall Kiosk Edition)
Strolling through the mall is an exercise in sensory overload or self-control, depending on whom you ask. There’s no denying the power of the mall’s kiosks to tempt us into paying for things we didn’t plan on, like bejeweled cell phone cases and knock-off sunglasses…but what if those kiosks offered something more practical, like legal advice? That’s the thinking behind the law booth, one Florida attorney’s solution to the problem of getting affordable legal services into the hands of people who can’t afford big firms, but aren’t poor enough to qualify for legal aid. Alice Hines is a business and retail reporter for the Huffington Post where she wrote about the law booth.
Part 2: Gay TV Gone Straight
In the 1990’s, Brini Maxwell became a household name…at least in Manhattan, where the show dominated public access cable airwaves. The character was the alter ego of actor Ben Sander, a prototypical, pre-feminist, 1960’s homemaker…in drag. If Brini was emblematic of the gay counterculture media at the end of the twentieth century, 2003 brought a whole new brand of gay TV to the air…
Bravo’s hit “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” launched the trend of mainstreaming gay culture into pop culture. In 2005, Viacom launched Logo, an LGBT focused channel that, until recently, featured gays and lesbians at the heart of its programming, with shows like “Ru Paul's Drag Race” and “The Big Gay Sketch Show.” Logo’s most recent programming is different, however, a shift which Ad Age reporter Thomas Pardee finds emblematic of a disappearing gay niche in media.
Here's a preview of one of Logo TV's new shows, "Eden Wood's World."
Part 3: A Social History of White Bread
For most of the twentieth century, Americans got more than a quarter of their calories from uniform loaves of factory-baked white bread. It was the dough of democratic equality and industrial progress…the superfood for a great society. A new book called White Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf traces the manufacture, marketing and meaning of white bread in the American meal and mind. Aaron Bobrow-Strain teaches politics at Whitman College in Washington. In addition to the new book, an article chronicling his attempt to bake his own version of the 50s- era loaf at home appears in Believer magazine.
March Madness begins this week. Pro-basketball stars like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson built their legends in college basketball: both players were known for coming through at critical moments. Others, like Lebron James, are accused of not being able to handle the heat – or come through in the clutch. A wave of new academic research on last-second shots, free throws and playing time recently hit the court. Tom Jacobs writes about the data in this month’s Miller-McCune magazine, and joins us on the line.
Taylor's Superhero Super-Science
Superheroes are heavy on the summer blockbuster schedule. A reunion of Marvel Comics “The Avengers” hits theaters in May, followed by the final installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman series. In July, we get a reboot of the Spiderman epic. The new film adaptations promise new gadgets and CGI effects to stir moviegoers fantasies of and aspirations of superpowers.
We recently stumbled upon a number of real world inventions by serious scientists that could have just as well been designed by longtime comic book legend Stan Lee. Word of Mouth's Taylor Quimby talked to some of the inspired minds behind some new, superhero-esque inventions.
CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this interview, we referred to UMASS Amherst Professor of Biology Duncan Irschick (one of the team-members responsible for creating "Geckskin") by the wrong name. Our sincerest apologies. For more on the amazing work he was involved in, check out the link at the bottom of this post.