Overrated/Underrated: Post-election hangover edition with Nate Silver, 'Black Mirror' and more

UNDERRATED

Our post-legalization future: Amid the ongoing fallout and speculation surrounding the results of this last week’s election, one of the real shifts that lie ahead for popular culture will come from the recent legalization of marijuana for recreational use in California and three more states. In addition to removing the mostly theoretical illegality of Snoop Dogg’s enduring brand (while furthering its economic prospects), we will soon have entirely new options at our disposal for themes in our dining, movie and music programming, to say nothing of the bizarre new marketing efforts that lie ahead. Just be careful out there: Just as with salted caramel and drum solos, there is such a thing as too much.

Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra’s “Time/Life”: A gorgeous sort of elegy for the influential jazz bassist Charlie Haden, who died in 2014, this recently released recording from a 2011 set by his revolution-minded big band (arranged by Carla Bley) offers a powerful testament to what we lost despite Haden appearing on only two tracks. A tireless advocate as much for beauty as social justice during his life, Haden remains a strong presence here, most clearly in his fiery, freewheeling “Song for the Whales,” which he dedicates to the importance of treasuring our lives and our world. Even though the track has no vocals, his music still takes us somewhere well beyond their possible reach.

OVERRATED

“Black Mirror” in an election year: As a messy season of campaign coverage blessedly fades in our rearview mirror,  let’s consider the  poor timing for the third season of this proudly bleak anthology series, which arrived on Netflix in the heart of an election cycle that from beginning to end carried an often surreal and caustic flair that felt borrowed from one of its unaired episodes. There is no doubt that creator Charlie Brooker has no equal in his capacity to point and half-laugh while speculating over our technology-addled future dystopia but, after the year we’ve had, venturing down that rabbit hole sounds perfect for, say, summer 2017.

Nate Silver: Who? You’d be right to ask the question as of this weekend as this wizard of math has gone from your favored multistop shop for reassuring poll forecasts to human embodiment of a saying often repeated by Mark Twain about the three kinds of falsehoods. For as much as the czar of FiveThirtyEight was hailed as an unquestionable soothsayer after the 2008 and 2012 elections, this year revealed there’s far more to politics than statistics as his forecast (and many others) missed wildly, revealing a lesson we should have learned a lot sooner — that those colors on a map aren’t numbers, they’re human.  

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