Where the Wild Things Are

AP Images/Google

Picture a perfect Southwestern day: The air as clear as gin, the bright blue sky marked only by a few stray clouds. In this spot, the waters of the Colorado River are placid, cool green, with none of the muddy brown foam found in the rapids that, over millennia, have carved out the Grand Canyon. Redwall limestone cliffs stretch high above. They’re streaked with desert varnish—the stain left by manganese seeps—and lightly colored with the aquamarine of lichen. Eons of the planet’s history are visible from here, whole epochs rendered in the span of a few thousand vertical feet. It’s an awesome sight.

The Magnificent Anderson

Yes, Wes Anderson’s films are hyper-stylized, but they’re rich in meaning too. None more so than The Grand Budapest Hotel

AP Images/Martin Scali

Who could’ve predicted, when Wes Anderson first surfaced in 1996 with the caper comedy Bottle Rocket, that he would become the most polarizing director of his generation? The movie seemed, on paper at least, an artifact of the post-Tarantino indie boom in smirking gunplay and logorrheic dudes. In fact it was the vessel for a new sensibility, dry yet earnest, ironic without being cynical (well, someone grasped its magnitude: Martin Scorsese put it on his decade’s-best list). Rushmore followed, then The Royal Tenenbaums, and suddenly the sensibility swallowed the culture.

Soul Food's Contested History

Does a new account with recipes get it right?

AP Images/ Jeff Roberson

AP Images/ Jeff Roberson

The kitchen of Sweetie Pie's in St. Louis, Missouri.

It's Alive!

This is not exactly what a vital political movement looks like. (Flickr/Jeffrey Scism)

Back in what if memory serves was early 2011, I ran into a former Prospect writer and now semi-famous person in the lobby of a building near the Capitol where a bunch of TV stations have studios. We began chatting about the Tea Party, and I suggested that once the Republican presidential primary campaign got underway in earnest in a few months time, all those tricorner hats would be put away as the Republican activists who made up the movement turned their attention to the race to pick their party's standard-bearer, and the Tea Party would peter out. He agreed, and we parted ways, satisfied with our sage prediction that all that unpleasantness would soon be over and the country would return to its prior, more manageable level of political silliness.

OK, so it didn't exactly work out that way. What happened to the Tea Party was more a slow dissipation than a rapid fizzling out, and it still persists. Sure, they aren't organizing any well-attended protests, and the hundreds of Tea Party groups out there aren't able to act together in any meaningful way, but it still exists, after a fashion. There's still a Tea Party Caucus in Congress, run by Michele Bachmann, who remains a member of the House of Representatives, believe it or not. In fact, not long ago some other House Republicans decided to launch a new Tea Party Caucus, and were surprised to learn that the old one still nominally exists.

And today, the Wall Street Journal tells us that the Tea Party is back, baby!

Burgers from the Future

This was definitely not grown in a lab. (Flickr/Simon Willison)

Let's talk meat, shall we? Americans eat a lot of it. Our cow population (or "inventory" if you prefer, as the beef industry does) is almost 90 million, and total beef consumption in the U.S. is over 25 billion pounds. If you piled all those hamburgers in a stack, you'd have ... well, let's just say you'd have a really big stack of hamburgers.

Lounging at SXSW

Photo by Jack Plunkett/Invision for Bulleit Bourbon/AP Images

Until the South by Southwest Interactive festival, it had been a while since I'd thought about Blackberry, the company. I'll confess that I have one of their old phones, the kind with keys that displays a bizarre version of the Internet as slowly as possible on a non-touch screen. In my daydreaming about iPhones and Androids, I'd forgotten that somewhere, somehow, the company that made my cruddy phone still exists.

Brief Hiatus


I won't be blogging for the remainder of this week; over the next couple of days my plans include climbing K2 solo, learning Icelandic, mastering the art of painting on grains of rice, and finding a cure for a rare but embarassing earlobe disorder. I'll be back Monday.

Video Killed the Radio Star

The Nation

Please excuse a little self-promo, but The Nation made a trailer for my forthcoming article on Elizabeth Warren.

Friday Music Break


For today's edition of Musicians Who Died Too Young Doing Schoolhouse Rock, we have Jeff Buckley with "Three is a Magic Number." Yes it is.

And a bonus link: here's De La Soul's version.

Internet Killed the Political Party Star?


One of the most visible publicity campaigns at South by Southwest Interactive festival this year featured two guys dressed up as a fighting elephant and donkey. They ran around downtown complete with gloves, satin boxing shorts, and even a referee. Americans Elect—the political group they represented that wants to nominate an independent presidential challenge for the 2012 election—tweeted photos of the pair fighting. They also tweeted attendees to invite them to the group's lounge. The room featured t-shirts, hats, and "Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots"—with a donkey and elephant head instead of robotic heads. Of course, the biggest draw was the free beer, which they advertised nonstop.

You Can Eat Whatever You Want, Cont.

A reader offers some additional context on whether restricting food stamp purchases is necessary to ensure healthy eating on part of recipients:

On food spending among food stamp participants: there is evidence that food stamp receipt does alter how households spend their money on food. Journal article here and ungated report here.

Life Imitating Art—and Parks

Scrolling through clips of state news, I happened on the latest from Idaho:

The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation is launching a new program that allows vehicle owners to voluntarily pay a $10 fee when they register their cars that gives them access to 30 state parks in an effort to raise money for the embattled agency.

Director Nancy Merrill hopes the idea, modeled after a successful program in Michigan, will alleviate financial pressure on her agency that has been mounting since Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter moved to wean it from taxpayer support two years ago.

Day of Honor

Slideshow: Visitors to the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial celebrate his legacy.

Jaime Fuller


Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the National Mall Memorial

My Favorite Holiday Lights, Ever

Do you believe in science?

Spotted on a house nearby. Does someone work at, say, MIT?

E.J. Graff

Holiday lights got scientific in Boston with this double-helix display.

Guide to Today’s Russia Coverage at the Monkey Cage

For those interested in a quick primer on recent developments in Russia, here’s a guide to our posts today: