Music and Film

40 years, 40 portraits, 4 sisters, & Hello Kitty’s 40th Birthday

Curated by CLAI

4 SISTERS, 40 PORTRAITS, 40 YEARS: Who are these sisters? The human impulse is to look for clues, but soon we dispense with our anthropological scrutiny — Irish? Yankee, quite likely, with their decidedly glamour-neutral attitudes — and our curiosity becomes piqued instead by their undaunted stares. All four sisters almost always look directly at the camera, as if to make contact, even if their gazes are guarded or restrained.

The Brown Sisters: Forty Years (Heather, Mimi, Bebe and Laurie) 1975, New Canaan, Conn. (Credits: Nicholas Nixon, NYTIMES)

The Brown Sisters: Forty Years (Heather, Mimi, Bebe and Laurie) 1975, New Canaan, Conn. (Credits: Nicholas Nixon, NYTIMES)

HELLO KITTY TURNS 40! Hello Kitty is celebrating a big birthday this year. In the time since the first simple coin purse was sold in Japan back in 1974, Hello Kitty has become a multi-billion dollar empire — $8 billion worth of products bearing her image sold internationally in 2013. The Japanese company that created the cartoon cat now oversees the production of products ranging from backpacks to lunchboxes to picture books.

Simone Legno's 2014 sculpture Kittypatra is on display at the Hello Kitty exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. (NPR)

Simone Legno’s 2014 sculpture Kittypatra is on display at the Hello Kitty exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. (NPR)

Geeks Win! CDs Still Reign in Japan

Curated by CLAI

What’s out may stay be in and what was out is now in. It sounds like fashion, but today we are talking about CDs and geeks.

The CD is still popular! In Japan. Maybe I’m nostalgic, but in such an intangible world of SnapChats and Vines, I love flipping through a book or admiring a CD cover (because someone actual put thought behind creating the art). It’s real and touchable. Though let’s see how long the CD will last compared to the cassette tape.

And geek culture is now in??? Movies like 21 Jump Street where Channing Tatum doesn’t get the girl and 17-year old millionaires who built and sold apps have made being smart and intelligent something to aspire to. Will magazines now start focusing on brains instead of brawn? Probably not. Sex sells.

GEEK CULTURE MAINSTREAM: Never before has the boundary between geek culture and mainstream culture been so porous. Becoming mainstream is the wrong word; the mainstream is catching up. Growing up, pre-Internet, possession of knowledge was such an identifier. That is no longer true; the Internet flattens things out. From gadgets to social networks to video games, the decision not to embrace the newest technology is a choice to be out of the mainstream.

  • With millions watching via computer, Tim Cook, the Apple chief executive, who has an industrial engineering degree, unveiled three versions of the watch, hoping to broaden the appeal of a fashion accessory traditionally worn by the calculus crowd.
  • With millions watching via computer, Tim Cook, the Apple chief executive, who has an industrial engineering degree, unveiled three versions of the watch, hoping to broaden the appeal of a fashion accessory traditionally worn by the calculus crowd.
Don't That Geek

Don’t That Geek

CDs STILL ALIVE IN JAPAN: Japan may be one of the world’s perennial early adopters of new technologies, but its continuing attachment to the CD puts it sharply at odds with the rest of the global music industry.

  • While CD sales are falling worldwide, including in Japan, they still account for about 85% of sales here, compared with as little as 20% in some countries, like Sweden, where online streaming is dominant.
  • Japanese consumers’ love for collectible goods. Greatest hits albums do particularly well in Japan, because of the elaborate, artist-focused packaging.

Bye Bye iPod. Bye Bye Cereal.

Curated by CLAI

1,000 SONGS IN YOUR POCKET: $400 was more than my car payment, but I didn’t care. This iPod — whatever that meant — was beautiful, and I wanted it bad. It promised the never-ending mix tape, the opportunity to program a radio station that served a market of one: Fountains of Wayne to Janet Jackson to Nirvana to Alan Jackson to the Pretenders? No problem.

Breakfast (Catherine A Cole, NYTimes)

SNACK CRACKLE POP: Cereal, that bedrock of the American breakfast, has lost some of its snap, crackle and pop. For the last decade, the cereal business has been declining, as consumers reach for granola bars, yogurt and drive-through fare in the morning.

  • The drop-off has accelerated lately, especially among those finicky millennials who tend to graze on healthy options.
  • Birthrate is declining — and children traditionally have been the largest consumers of cereal.
  • Many surveys have shown that Latinos and Asians prefer other breakfast foods.
  • General Mills is marketing its iconic cereals as family brands in an appeal to nostalgia: Adults account for almost half of the consumption of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Single in Washington, DC? At Least DC Men & Women Are Equal (on TV)

Curated by CLAI

GREAT DC LOVE DEBATE: 71% of D.C. residents are single, and that’s certainly not all by choice. “There seems to be a lot of great men and a lot of great women and they seem to not want to be single. And yet for some reason, there seem to be more of them than ever.”

  • Why are people single? Are women crazy gold-diggers and men commitment-phobic players?
  • Life coaches talk of how to change your at-ti-tude, live in the moment and stop treating dates as “spouse-hunting safaris.”
  • The D.C. dating scene is more focused on relationship status than substance: “I think people have way too many agendas and don’t know how to live life. They just want the title — married, engaged, in a relationship, somebody loves me.

 

Powerful DC Women

From left: Keri Russell, devious K.G.B. spy on “The Americans”; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, beltway egotist on “Veep”; Kerry Washington, home wrecker on “Scandal”; and Robin Wright, icy schemer on “House of Cards.” Credit Craig Blankenhorn/FX; Lacey Terrell/HBO; Danny Feld/ABC; Nathaniel Bell for Netflix (NYTIMES)

GENDER EQUALITY IN DC? There is gender equality of a kind in Washington. On television, it’s the one place where it’s safe to say that women are as bad as the men.

New York City in 17 Syllables

Curated by NYTIMES

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge (Christine Lai)

On the 6 to Spring
two cops help a tourist whose
map is upside down
— Frances Richey, 63, Manhattan

The New Yorker is
Not kind, they say. I say, he
Just left it at home
— Flor Arley Hodge, 15, Bronx

Our eyes avoid but
If we looked we would see that
We might just be friends.
— Sarah Lenaghan, 13, Brooklyn