Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Satire Alert: OUCH

The Onion is ruthless with its new headline: "FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States."   Here's a piece of it:
“We have intercepted electronic communication indicating that al-Qaeda members are actively plotting to stay out of the way while America as we know it gradually crumbles under the weight of its own self-inflicted debt and disrepair,” FBI Deputy Director Mark F. Giuliano told the assembled press corps. “If this plan succeeds, it will leave behind a nation with a completely dysfunctional economy, collapsing infrastructure, and a catastrophic health crisis afflicting millions across the nation. We want to emphasize that this danger is very real.” 
... A recently declassified CIA report confirmed that all known al-Qaeda-affiliated organizations—from Pakistan to Yemen, and from Somalia to Algeria—have been instructed to kick back and enjoy the show as the United States’ federal government, energy grid, and industrial sector are rendered impotent by internal dissent, decay, and mismanagement.

Dr. Feelgood Doesn't Feel So Good

"How being a doctor became the most miserable profession."  You may remember one doctor's cri du coeur from a little while ago.

Making A Splash: Michael Phelps Unretires


New Jersey Court System Going To The Dogs

A German Shepherd just got summoned to jury duty.  Make your own jokes, folks.

Tax Day 2014

This is how I always imagine the IRS and the bloated government as they cast a lustful eye on the populace's paychecks!

Or perhaps this?


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Point A to Point B Never Looked So Good

Get an eyeful of Jug Cerovic's gorgeous subway maps for 12 major cities from Moscow to Mexico City!

Movie Review: Muppets Most Wanted

It's time to play the music; it's time to light the lights!

Any sequel movie that actually contains a song entitled "We're Doing A Sequel!" is already miles ahead of the competition.  Add Kermit, Miss Piggy, all the Muppet crew, and a dizzying array of cameos, and you have an entertaining evening at the movies.

The Muppets are back, and this time they're going on a world tour managed by Ricky Gervais!  The complication soon takes shape, though: Constantine, a criminal mastermind of a frog, fools everyone into thinking he's Kermit and Kermit him.  Hijinks and mistaken identities ensue: the real Kermit winds up in a gulag (with Tina Fey as a prison guard!) while Constantine takes the oblivious Muppets all over Europe as part of a nefarious scheme.

At every step of the way, the flick teases you with the parade of now-you-see-them-now-you-don't, "wait-was-that-?" cameos.  (Oh, and La Parisienne and other Flight of the Conchords fans: Jemaine Clement is in this, but he looks completely different from the Jemaine in your head!  Bret McKenzie wrote the songs for the flick but doesn't appear. Aw.)  There are moments when cameo-spotting turns out to be a more diverting enterprise than the actual plot of the movie, which brings to the grade.

Mad Minerva gives Muppets Most Wanted a grade of B.  The plot gets a little bogged down, despite all the cameos you start to miss Jason Segel and Amy Adams from the 2011 Muppets, a few jokes flop, and Ricky Gervais just isn't that funny (but then again who is next to the Muppets?).  Still, any flick that gives me Kermit and Miss Piggy (and cameos of those beautiful lads James McAvoy and Tom Hiddleston) will get at least a little love from me.  (For the guys: Two words.  Salma. Hayek.)  In addition: brownie points for Princess Beatrice's fugly hat from William and Kate's wedding actually showing up in a crowd scene!

RottenTomatoes gives Muppets Most Wanted the Fresh rating of 79%.

Muppets Most Wanted runs 107 minutes and is rated PG for mild action.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

I'M BAAAACK. Here's a Movie Review, My Adoring Public!

Absence makes the heart grow fungus -- I mean, FONDER.  

Yup, I've been ludicrously busy in Nerdworld (it's conference season, my lovelies!), but I finally can catch a breath.  So here's a peace offering: Get ready for a ton of movie reviews all in a row, beginning with ...


So in this Oscar-nominated 2013 movie's 1970s-era parade of brash con artists, ill-tempered Feds, corrupt New Jersey politicians, and the Mafia, just who is playing whom?  You'll spend two glorious hours trying to figure that out even as you marvel at Christian Bale's incredible comb-over, Jennifer Lawrence's bouffant, and Bradley Cooper's super-tight perm.  (Seriously, I'm surprised this flick didn't win the Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. Look at Amy Adams' hair!  LOOK AT IT!)

I don't want to say too much about the elaborate plot because I don't want to spoil anything.  Suffice it to say that in the hands of a lesser director and a lesser cast it could have gone badly wrong, but David O. Russell and his gloriously perfect cast (there's not a single actor out of place) turn it into one of the best movies of 2013.  The colorfully quirky, larger-than-life personalities race, rocket, and roar through the scenes, and they do it with flawless style.  You know, "style" is not the first word that I think of when I think of "1970s," but somehow the sheer confidence and zest that the cast bring to the project make even the perms and polyester seem completely plausible.

The con is on with Irving Rosenfeld (Bale) and his partner Sydney Prosser (Adams), but when they get tangled up with a Fed with ambitions of his own (Cooper), the Mafia, and a corruptible politician from Camden, New Jersey (Jeremy Renner, as far from his Hawkeye role as he can be), the action kicks into high gear.  Add Rosalyn (Lawrence), Irv's total loose cannon of an estranged wife who just might throw a wrench into every plan, and you've got yourself an Oscar-caliber caper and then some (This flick was indeed nominated for 4 Oscars.)

In short, don't miss American Hustle.  As complex and sharply intelligent as it is compellingly constructed and occasionally laugh-out-loud hilarious, it is as visually irresistible and scintillating as ... as ... must not descend into a 70's reference ... as a disco ball!  (Dang it!)

Mad Minerva gives American Hustle a grade of A.  The soundtrack alone deserves it.  So does Jennifer Lawrence's sprayed-into-oblivion hair and Christian Bale's amazing transformation from gorgeous hunk into balding, paunchy Irv Rosenfeld.

RottenTomatoes gives it the bona fide Fresh rating of 93%.

American Hustle runs 138 minutes and is rated R for language (e.g., F-bombs galore), some sexual situations, and brief violence.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Forgotten History: Ice Delivery in 1918

From a fascinating collection of colorized vintage photos comes this great image. Caption: "'Girls deliver ice. Heavy work that formerly belonged to men only is being done by girls. The girls are delivering ice on a route and their work requires brawn as well as the patriotic ambition to help.' September 16, 1918. Original black and white photo by American Unofficial Collection of World War I Photographs, 1917 - 1918, colorized by Dana Keller."


Satire Alert: The Onion vs. College Admissions

Does this kind of savagely incisive truth-telling even count as satire anymore?

Ave atque Vale, James Rebhorn

Veteran character actor James Rebhorn (even if you don't know the name, you probably know the face) has died, and he wrote his own obit.  Read it!  I think I have something in my eye.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Friday, March 21, 2014

If You Strike Me Down, I Shall Become More Powerful Than You Can Possibly Imagine: Turkish Twitter Edition

Shortly after the Twitter ban came into effect around midnight, the micro-blogging company tweeted instructions to users in Turkey on how to circumvent it using text messaging services in Turkish and English. Turkish tweeters were quick to share other methods of tiptoeing around the ban, using “virtual private networks” (VPN) – which allow internet users to connect to the web undetected – or changing the domain name settings on computers and mobile devices to conceal their geographic whereabouts. 
Some large Turkish news websites also published step-by-step instructions on how to change DNS settings. 
On Friday morning, Turkey woke up to lively birdsong: according to the alternative online news site Zete.com, almost 2.5m tweets – or 17,000 tweets a minute – have been posted from Turkey since the Twitter ban went into effect, thus setting new records for Twitter use in the country.

March Madness, Putin Style

March Madness: Duke's Out In the First Round

I didn't even have time to blink, much less get my Duke hate on, before the Blue Devils got eliminated from the Big Dance this afternoon.  And just who beat the #3 seed and basketball powerhouse?  Mercer. WHO?  Yeah.  Mercer, the 14th-seeded school that I had never even heard of.

You know, gigantic upsets like this are what make March Madness so great!  

By the way, that howling you hear is the sound of millions of college hoops fans lamenting their now-ruined brackets.

As for Duke ... BYE BYE BYE!

UPDATE: Need a tutorial in dancing the Nae Nae on the grave of Duke's tournament dreams?  We aim to please here at MM Blog!

Friday Fun Video: "What a Bunch of A-holes."

Yes, yes, I know the trailer's been out for a few weeks.  I've been watching it for that long because it is hilarious!  It never fails to make me smile, and - let's face it - with yet another wave of frigid temps and sleet/snow hitting the East Coast, we could all use a smile.  Anyone up for a crazy space adventure starring a quintet of desperadoes with a 1970s Swedish rock band on the soundtrack?  Oh, Marvel, you had me at "space raccoon with an automatic weapon."

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

LOL: Smaug on Twitter

I'm not sure what's funnier: the fact that some wag is on Twitter tweeting in the guise of Tolkien's dragon or that he can come up with things like this:

The Cat's Meow: Egypt in 3600 BC

The skeletons of six cats, including four kittens, found in an Egyptian cemetery may push back the date of cat domestication in Egypt by nearly 2,000 years.

A River Runs Through It

Watch the Chinese Air Force bomb the iced-over Yellow River.  Note how the website filed this under the tag "WTF." 

I'll Take That As A Compliment

One of my students just called me a "badass"!