Author Archives: Sonia Brand-Fisher

About Sonia Brand-Fisher

My name is Sonia Brand-Fisher and I am a film studies major at Smith College. Interests include vintage film and fashion, fake-swing dancing to early Standards, cooking lavish meals that stem far outside of my culinary comfort zone, and musing over the implications behind all things aesthetically intriguing.

Paul McCartney’s Latest

SONIA BRAND-FISHER: The beginning of Paul McCartney’s new album of classic standards begins with a swinging, jazzy prelude to “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter.” It sounds like the beginning of any martini party playlist, soon to be followed by the voices of Ella, Louie, Billie, Dean, Frank, or Peggy. Yet then, we hear the soft, whispering tones from the aging voice of a rock and roll legend, and the tone shifts

DAVE TOMAR: Paul McCartney looks increasingly like somebody’s grandmother. So it’s fitting that he should make a record my grandmother would love. This is no insult. My grandmother has great taste. Continue reading

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Amy Winehouse Perspectives

DAVE TOMAR: Kurt Cobain once wrote a song called “I Hate Myself and Want To Die.” I won’t bother telling you how the rest of that story goes. Suffice it to say though that in the annals of popular music history, those who succumb to the withering pressures of fame, addiction and depression rarely do so without first telegraphing us their intentions. Continue reading

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Review: Jon Benjamin Has a Van

HOWARD MEGDAL: You are either celebrating the new show Jon Benjamin Has A Van, the most effective claim on the mantle of Bob and Ray, or you have yet to see it and are wasting your life.

Benjamin has been…

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Obama Captures Osama: Thanks, George W. Bush/Jimmy Carter

Howard Megdal: What does the Bin Laden raid remind you of? Naturally, all the days Jimmy Carter didn’t go rescue the hostages in Iran. The two paths- one of action, the other of inaction, are so close- the word ACTION is actually found in the word INACTION! The only surprising thing was that when Obama announced Bin Laden’s death, he wasn’t eating out of a big jar of peanut butter.

DAVE TOMAR: As history will show, President Bush had a much bigger banner. Exactly eight years to the day that Bush humbly touched down in a military bomber on the U.S.S. Lincoln under a declaration of “Mission Accomplished” and gave us the big thumbs up, Obama delivered a grandstanding 3 minute speech in which he arrogantly praised the military and intelligence communities for bringing down bin Laden. Continue reading

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Domonic Brown Prospectus

DAVE TOMAR: Brown has been hounded not just by the imposing stats that Werth takes out of town with him but by the immediacy of success enjoyed last year by top prospects like Atlanta’s 21 year-old Jason Heyward, Florida’s 21 year-old Mike Stanton and San Francisco’s 23 year-old Buster Posey. While Brown’s upside remains high, he didn’t come out of the box fully assembled like these other guys. Fortunately for the Phillies, there are a few perfectly capable ballplayers lined up and itching to prove themselves as everyday players.

CHRIS PUMMER: Dave is right. The Phillies’ season won’t be made or broken by what Brown can give them above and beyond what the other spare parts laying around could if assembled properly. But all things being equal, they’d rather have the chance to see now what Brown can do for them. Continue reading

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College: Big School or Small School?

LAURA ROBERTS: Small schools have plenty of advantages over the big schools that treat their students like numbers, like the typically cited ability for students to interact more with professors. But are big schools actually better at anything?

MOLLY SCHOEMANN: I will put it right out there, I’m all for the smaller schools. I went to Bard College, which, with its undergraduate population of 1,200 students, was a tiny liberal-arts college with classes that were almost an extension of my high-school classes.

JESSICA BADER: If someone were to ask me whether I attended a big school or a small school for college, my answer would probably be “well, it depends.” You see, I went to NYU, which is a big school that treats you like a number for those intro-level classes that everyone has to take, but felt much, much smaller for the portion of my degree that I actually use. Continue reading

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Quoting Shows As Humor

DANI ALEXIS RYSKAMP: I confess: I am the @danialexis behind the #AptSimpsonsQuote hashtag on Twitter. (Which has probably not been used since that conversation, I bet.) And I’m behind it because I have the questionable habit of quoting Simpsons episodes when they’re more apt – or at least more witty – than anything I might come up with myself.

HOWARD MEGDAL: It isn’t that a well-chosen quote, appropriate for the moment, can’t qualify as humor. But my fear is that for many, simply referencing something amusing from a film or TV program- or even something not-so-amusing- has become equivalent to wit. And not only does it cheapen wit itself, I’m really tired of hearing what are usually the same five movies and television shows.

DAVE TOMAR: My daily exploits are littered with D’oh!s and Woo-hoo!s. When things are going a-ok, everything’s coming up Milhouse. When life gives me lemons, I look it at it as crisitunity. When the world is invaded by a master race of giant space ants, I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.

MOLLY SCHOEMANN: something I find to be an ominous sign of the times: fairly frequently when I get off a decent line, a bystander will laugh and then ask innocently, “What is that from?” The implication is that there is no original humor; there are no jokes made up and told on the spot– everything is recycled, verbatim, from movies, television, and stand-up comedy. I find this disheartening. Continue reading

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On Being Competitive

HOWARD MEGDAL: To me, the pleasure I get from playing a board game or bowling with friends comes inversely to how successful I am at it. For me, such times are an opportunity to make fun of whoever is losing. If it is me, I can do so with abandon. If it is someone near me, I’m a jerk for making the same jokes.

In other words, losing is merely a gateway to doing what I really want.

JILLIAN LOVEJOY LOWERY: Generally, I’m a pretty laid back kind of person. I’ve got a long fuse, and I pick my battles wisely. Unless, of course, board games are involved. In that case, I will rip your fucking eyes out.

MOLLY SCHOEMANN: When you get right down to it, there are two kinds of people: Those who always seem to end up yelling at everyone while playing Scrabble, and those who don’t.

As someone who tends to be on the less competitive end of the spectrum, I’ve often wondered why this is and where this tendency came from. I have always been the kind of person who is extremely unconcerned about coming in dead last during a round of mini-golf.

DAVE TOMAR: When I lose, I am a fist-pounding jerk. I can’t believe it. The dice screwed me. The deck had it out for me. How could you call with those cards?!? Is this table leveled? I think my cue is warped. You used all your letters on that word? That isn’t a real word. Ok, the dictionary says the word is real, but it’s totally a bullshit word. You should be ashamed of yourself, winning that way. Continue reading

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Home Run Smackdown: Carter Vs. Mazeroski

NAVA BRAHE: In the annals of baseball, Bill Mazeroski’s 1960 World Series winning home run for the Pittsburgh Pirates is always going to outshine Joe Carter’s dinger that won the Toronto Blue Jays the 1993 World Series. Mazeroski hit his in Game 7, and Carter hit his in Game 6. Mazeroski’s Pirates took down the mighty New York Yankees; Carter’s Blue Jays thrilled the Toronto baseball faithful to pieces, and ruined the life of Philadelphia Phillies reliever Mitch Williams.

MIKE CUMMINGS: The fiftieth anniversary of Bill Mazeroski’s game-winning home run for the Pittsburgh Pirates against the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series came and went recently, and that’s gotten a lot of people thinking about the most dramatic homers in Major League history. Another one that readily comes to mind is Joe Carter’s walk-off job for the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 6 of the 1993 Series against Mitch Williams and the Philadelphia Phillies. But while Carter’s homer probably still resonates for Blue Jays and (for obviously different reasons) Phillies fans, the Mazeroski homer still resonates more profoundly with the general American sporting public. There are three very simple reasons why. Continue reading

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Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductions

STEPHON JOHNSON: One thing that irks me, just as much as it irked Kelefa Sanneh, is when music magazines, websites and television shows wrap up a year of music by dubbing it “The Year in Rock” instead of “The Year in Music.” But whenever the nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are announced, I am ready to take part in the debate.

DAVE TOMAR: People like Neil Diamond and Donna Summer help to highlight why the Rock Hall is a stupid concept. You find yourself attempting to balance between bands that broke new ground and bands that sold a ton of records. You’ve got Abba and the Sabbath in the same museum. And that’s fine, but it suggests that a certain tier of commercial success validates you artistically. At their current pace and established longevity, Justin Timberlake and Kid Rock are likely to be as worthy as anybody. We should be careful the precedent we set. Continue reading

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