I *so* want to do a campus version, all about about "celebrating" each year's worst examples of published academic-speak (i.e., Nerdish). Just imagine!
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
MM would, in all seriousness, like to thank everyone who has offered to help, beginning with the Dutch, who were among the first to offer a hand.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Then again, it's the whole supply-and-demand thing kicking in. That goofy South African invention the vuvuzela's the hot accessory of the moment! I guess I should say "Yay!" for free market capitalism and all that, even if vuvuzelas make my head hurt from all that noise. (And make me watch World Cup matches on TV on *mute*!)
Also: an evil part of me (yes, I'm unabashedly evil) is now fantasizing about what would happen if I took one to a faculty meeting. Or a Nerdmoot!
Hm ... Alessandra did just yesterday say that I have the most energy of anybody she knows. And I did pull not one but two allnighters last week with no ill effects. Maybe there's something to this new research, ha!
Oh, and the research says being good OR evil makes you stronger, so I suppose you get no benefits at all out of being a mediocre moral fence-sitter. Which somehow seems just as the world should be.
But, seriously, can you really reconcile this sort of argument with the idea that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder"? Or de gustibus -- there's no accounting for taste? Or the influence of emotion, for as my darling Bard did say, "the lover, all as frantic, sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt"?
Monday, June 28, 2010
Part 2 was -- unbelievably -- even more of a roller coaster that made my head explode, and I will now give Steven Moffat all the credit he deserves and say he's reached Joss Whedoneque levels of MM's idolatry. I'll try to do a full review soon, but I really do need to see the entire two-part finale again so I can think about it. For now, though, here is a lovely review to tide you over (spoilers if you haven't seen the episode yet!). UPDATE: This too (also spoiler-y).
For now, though, I'll say that the show and Matt Smith have done it. They've done what I was so very much hoping they would do: balance the clever mind games with some serious character development and a visceral connection to the audience. I wanted it to be about the gut and heart as well as the head.
And, at long last, I got it. (Spoiler-ish photos below the fold.)
Sunday, June 27, 2010
I give you one of their hilarious campaign videos here. I laughed out loud. You'll never listen to Tina Turner the same way again!
Anyway, I usually cheer for England and Germany unless there are extenuating circumstances. Today since they were playing each other, I cheered for England because I'm a mad Anglophile (sorry, all my German friends ... who will now rightfully mock me). This 4-1 German beatdown of England was just humiliating. SHAME! I can't tell if the Germans were really THAT awesome or if the English were really THAT awful. All my peeps and I cheered for England, and I have to use an English turn of phrase to describe our group of beautiful soccer babes in the post-defeat dumps: we're sick as parrots.
But congrats to the Germans. I'll see you folks in the quarterfinals when you play the winner of the Argentina-Mexico match. (I shall cheer for Argentina just because Diego Maradona is completely insane.)
I have to say, though, let's add England to the list of national teams at this World Cup that were expected to do well and instead performed horribly and got sent home in disgrace -- beginning with France and Italy.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
~The US-Ghana match in the Round of 16 (to be seen on HDTV!) -- what a follow-up to that heart-stopping US-Algeria match! Watch THIS!
~Part 2 of the two-part season finale of "Doctor Who"-- what a follow-up to Part 1! Remember this?
Emotional roller coaster-a-palooza! (Dear Aristotle, You were so totally right about that whole catharsis thing. Thanks, man! Love, MM.)
I am having the best Saturday in a long, long time. Plus I got to sleep in! And I wickedly read fun fiction instead of working on my nerd research!
Don't tell my Nerd Lords -- and pass the remote control!
Bonus: I just got off the phone with La Parisienne, who -- beautiful as the dawn after a storm and terrible as an army with banners -- reported her latest triumph, which is even more awesome than her previous victory. Now that deserves a post all its own later! All I'm going to say now is: Do not cross this woman. Ever.
UPDATE: Oh, too bad ... We're out of the World Cup. But what a ride it was! I think we earned some respect along the way too.
So we fell for the oldest trick in the book: over-investment in a new leader. Rudd was swept into office on a tide of euphoria that was dangerous for him, and for us. Euphoria is like a drug with powerful short-term effects. We can't stay euphoric. We need substance to prop up our enthusiasm, and no politician could deliver a performance to match our madly exaggerated expectations of Rudd.Hmmmm. Doesn't the first paragraph seem familiar? *cough* Obamania! *cough*
Now he's gone. In the moment of his political execution, our breath was taken away by the apparent ruthlessness of the act, the precision of the surgery, and the cleanness of the wound.
RELATED POST: Remember this hilarious sign of public disenchantment with Rudd?
Friday, June 25, 2010
Now that the initial shock of watching part 1 of the season finale has finally worn off, now that my Whovian buddies and I have talked for hours about it, I'm all set to write up a full review in the same fashion as I did for "Vincent and the Doctor" and "The Lodger."
But, as it turns out, I don't have to because someone else has done a review that looks and feels almost exactly like I was planning to do mine. Read this -- it is a beauty! I'll just add that it ended with the best and boldest cliffhanger I've seen yet in the new Who. (OK, it was really 3 cliffhangers. Really!)
Obligatory Spoiler Warning: Oh, don't read any of this if you haven't already seen "The Pandorica Opens."
I'll just jot down what is arguably the coolest bit of fraught exposition in the episode:
There was a goblin, or a trickster, or a warrior. A nameless terrible thing soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies. The most feared being in all the Cosmos. And nothing could stop it or hold it or reason with it. One day, it would just drop out of the sky and tear down your world.Dang. And now just stop for a moment and think about that statement.
The best line of the episode, though, has to be River Song's: "Oh, Doctor. Why do I let you out?" River is so fantastic. She's like a butt-kicking, space/time-traveling female version of Indiana Jones. I want to be like River when I grow up ... aside from the whole killing someone and getting imprisoned for it kind of thing, I mean!
Part 2 of the season finale (entitled "The Big Bang") airs tomorrow, and I'm ludicrously excited. We've come a long way since the midterm exam for this season, I daresay.
Public Service Announcement: You can expect plenty of obsessive if desultory Who-blogging this summer as a work-avoidance strategy since I have a million researchy things to do!
"They keep creating new ways to celebrate mediocrity.""If everyone's special, then nobody is."
There is nothing more demanding than the taste for mediocrity. Beneath its ever moderate appearance there is nothing more intemperate; nothing surer in its instinct; nothing more pitiless in its refusals. It suffers no greatness, shows beauty no mercy.
Teachers unions, the Obama administration, and most Democrats in Congress want to spend another $23 billion that we don’t have to shore up public school employment. If we don’t go along, they tell us, it’ll be a “catastrophe” for American education. With fewer teachers our kids will supposedly learn less, further crippling our already wounded economy.They couldn’t be more wrong.Over the past forty years, public school employment has risen 10 times faster than enrollment (see chart). There are only 9 percent more students today, but nearly twice as many public school employees. To prove that rolling back this relentless hiring spree by a few years would hurt student achievement, you’d have to show that all those new employees raised achievement in the first place. That would be hard to do… because it never happened.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
1. Soccer is the opiate of the masses, preventing them from glorious people's workers' revolution!
2. Soccer is the perfect socialist sport!
I think both of these are pretty much crazy in their own way. Anyway, if you don't like soccer, you don't have to like it! Can't those who do now just watch some World Cup and enjoy ourselves without listening to a bunch of haters spout off? Say what you want, soccer can be thrilling beyond belief.
It's remarkable that it took the firing of General McChrystal to hear again from Mr. Obama, for the first time in months, why he is committed to the war. Mr. Obama said yesterday that no one individual is indispensable in war, but if any single person is, it is a President. Mr. Obama too often gives the impression of a leader asking, "Won't someone rid me of this damn war?"Read the whole thing, actually.
As for the McChrystal public relations faceplant, NOBODY came out smelling like roses. And apparently it's up to Petraeus to ride to the rescue ... AGAIN.
(They do, though, do a slam-dunk job of skewering both the worst of "modern art" and the tendency of Obama to make every utterance an act of conscious political theater, a fact that's become all too obvious in the aftermath of the BP mess.)
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Then he goes and attempts to steal my heart by saying what kinds of people should study some military history:
Especially humanities types, pacifists, liberals, feminists…In short, the people who are constantly making moralistic-pietistic arguments about war without understanding it in any sense whatsoever, especially the historical.
*MM blows kisses*
You've gotta see the video. It's like a Hollywood movie. The very last minute. The high stakes. The underdog team. The horrible calls and disallowed goals up to that point.
I wish I had a vuvuzela! The US is advancing to the next round!
I didn't post about this right when it happened because, frankly, I was too busy screaming and dancing. And I'll tell you what -- that victory made grown men cry. Some of my peeps were positively bawling. (Let me add that these were, of course, the manliest of manly tears!)
Anyway, WATCH THIS:
UPDATE: Two of my friends have already said that they want to name their future kids "Landon" or "Donovan." Hey, why not? Someday I might introduce you to little Landon Donovan Minerva.
"We are all fools in love." Well, that much is true enough. Exhibit A would be probably all of us who fell in love with fictional characters!
"These ever-shifting displays of colored ribbons, curtains, rays, and spots are most visible near the North (aurora borealis) and South (aurora australis) Poles as charged particles (ions) streaming from the Sun (the solar wind) interact with Earth’s magnetic field."
One day next month every student at Loyola Law School Los Angeles will awake to a higher grade point average.*Sigh.* Law prof Ann Althouse has a nice commentary.
But it’s not because they are all working harder.The school is retroactively inflating its grades, tacking on 0.333 to every grade recorded in the last few years. The goal is to make its students look more attractive in a competitive job market.
The Chinese complaints about weapons sales to Taiwan are pure theatre designed to separate the US from Taiwan -- an excellent example ... of China's long-term plan is to sever that relationship.Yes. Very much so. You will recall, of course, how China always blames Taiwan. Here too Michael Turton cuts through the usual media muddle with a jolt of reality: "Taiwan is not China's nemesis. Nothing Taiwan does threatens China. The threats all run from Beijing toward Taipei."
The reaction to the decade-old weapons sales also shows how China consistently moves to transfer the tensions it creates with Taiwan to the US-Taiwan relationship. Chinese "anger" is a policy it uses to manage its relationship with the US. People who write that "tensions have eased" between China and Taiwan are simply missing how they've been transferred to the China-US and the US-Taiwan relationships. Tension with China is never eased; because China uses tension to manage its relations with other nations.
UPDATE: Check out this post too.
Monday, June 21, 2010
"My problem with platitudes (at graduation)," Scalia said, "is not that they are old and hackneyed, but that they are wrong."PREACH.
Oh, I can't help myself. Here is a gorgeous piece of Scalia's speech:
"It's a belief that seems particularly to beset modern society, that believing deeply in something, and following that belief, is the most important thing a person could do. Get out there and picket, or boycott, or electioneer, or whatever. Show yourself to be a committed person, that's the fashionable phrase. I am here to tell you that it is much less important how committed you are, than what you are committed to. If I had to choose, I would always take the less dynamic, indeed even the lazy person who knows what's right, than the zealot in the cause of error. He may move slower, but he's headed in the right direction.Yes, yes!
"Movement is not necessarily progress. More important than your obligation to follow your conscience, or at least prior to it, is your obligation to form your conscience correctly. Nobody -- remember this -- neither Hitler, nor Lenin, nor any despot you could name, ever came forward with a proposal that read, "Now, let's create a really oppressive and evil society." Hitler said, let's take the means necessary to restore our national pride and civic order. And Lenin said, let's take the means necessary to assure a fair distribution of the goods of the world. In short, it is your responsibility, men and women of the class of 2010, not just to be zealous in the pursuit of your ideals, but to be sure that your ideals are the right ones. Not merely in their ends, but in their means. That is perhaps the hardest part of being a good human being: Good intentions are not enough. Being a good person begins with being a wise person, then when you follow your conscience, will you be headed in the right direction."
I've posted often on various commencement speeches, but I'll just give you an example of the hilariously good and the laughably bad.
By the way, through the nerd grapevine, I just heard of an awesome commencement speaker who said these gloriously astute words at a recent graduation:
"The commencement speaker at a graduation is like the corpse at an Irish wake. They need you for the party afterward, but nobody expects you to say very much." (*MM applauds*)
Look, I understand that things are hard and that money is tight on campuses everywhere; believe me, I understand. But the protesters are demanding BOTH no budget cuts AND no tuition increases. It's pretty much impossible to have both in the current real-world circumstances. In fact, even with both unpopular actions in place, some schools are still going to be in deep financial trouble.
BONUS for La Parisienne and California Dreamer: some video footage of one our favorite science maniacs to go along with the song on this, June 21, the first official day of summer.
Anyway, as the name of one useful and geek-tastic website does remind us, Geeks Are Sexy. (Well, some geeks, anyway!)
Which brings us to our quote of the day by a frustrated Chinese sports fan:
"We're 1.3 billion people. Can't we find at least 11 guys who are good at soccer?"
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Anyway, England has plenty of fans.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Cliffhanger-mania! Can't wait for next week's conclusion.
I'll do a real review soon. For now, suffice it to say that the awesomeness of the previous two episodes finds itself repeated and amplified to the nth degree here. My head is still spinning. Now this is good TV!
Here's the BBC trailer. (Oh, and in Britspeak, "series" = "season," not "the entire show.")
UPDATE 1: Got some screencaps from the Medusa Cascade to help me communicate my double-natured response to the episode...
THERE's the emotional investment and roller-coaster freaking out!
And it hurts so good. Notice Amy's thumbs-up.
Bowing to reality, the North Korean government has lifted all restrictions on private markets -- a last-resort option for a leadership desperate to prevent its people from starving.In recent weeks, according to North Korea observers and defector groups with sources in the country, Kim Jong Il's government admitted its inability to solve the current food shortage and encouraged its people to rely on private markets for the purchase of goods. Though the policy reversal will not alter daily patterns -- North Koreans have depended on such markets for more than 15 years -- the latest order from Pyongyang abandons a key pillar of a central, planned economy.With November's currency revaluation, Kim wiped out his citizens' personal savings and struck a blow against the private food distribution system sustaining his country. The latest policy switch, though, stands as an acknowledgment that the currency move was a failure and that only capitalist-style trading can prevent widespread famine.
Friday, June 18, 2010
It's hard to believe that any politician could become more disliked in the UK than Gordon Brown, but Barack Obama is achieving that in spades.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
As for the intelligentsia's snooty tendency to disparage manual laborers, *Bronx cheer.* I have more respect for people who do real work for a living.
Fugly: No heels. Fabulous: History!
I might do a real review later, but I have research deadlines right now, so I'll refer you to the Cine-Sib's enthusiastic assessment. I will say, though, that two qualities about it that pleased me greatly were the absence of (a) too many people flying through the air in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" wuxia fashion, and (b) Zhang "Typhoid Mary for Yellow Fever" Ziyi.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Karate Kid is a surprisingly well-acted & directed remake of the 1984 classic, reimagined as a fish-out-of-water tale in China with kung fu, NOT karate (cue marketing misnomer stir, purists). Its tautly-paced 140 minutes foster proper character development, with levity ensconced in pathos infused with effective emotional gravitas by Jaden Smith & Jackie Chan, eschewing his usual schtick & giving his best dramatic performance.(Dude, the Cine-Sib actually used the word "gravitas"?)
Here comes the haiku!
Jacket on and off
That could be annoying, man
Just shut up and train
Really, couldn't really tell
They did a good job
Seriously, are you kidding me with the "content" of last night's speech? I'm using the word extremely loosely. Using the oil disaster to bang on about cap-and-trade and pushing his energy agenda? NO! We want to know specific details about how to plug the leak, not some out-of-touch, tone-deaf nonsense about cap-and-bloody-trade. And the details aren't there for dealing with the pressing current situation. You can look for yourself. The text of the speech is here.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
My family and I need more closeups of the "North Korean" fans, though, before we can weigh in. Yes, we can usually tell where someone's from in Asia just by looking. (You mean you can't?)
As for the idea of faking fans, well, I'm not surprised. Fakery for the cameras is the point. Don't you remember half the shenanigans at the Beijing Games?
Talk about pumping you up! And I'm not even English! And I even cheered against them the other day!
Oh, I can't help myself:
This royal throne of kings, this sceptered isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in a silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,
This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings,
Feared by their breed and famous by their birth ... ! (Richard II. 2.1.40-51)
It was in many ways the show at its most charming and most fun. It was a celebration of the ordinary and of the pleasures and value of "an ordinary life." It was a story of how the Doctor can make a difference in the particular lives of ordinary people and that this is just as legitimate and worthy a cause as abstractly saving the planet/galaxy/universe. It was, at its heart, a story about people (Time Lords are people too, right?), people living their everyday lives. After all, the whole point to saving the universe/galaxy/planet is so ordinary people can live their lives, right? (Ignore Peter Singer on this one. Trust me.) Besides, you don't have to do something massively spectacular in order to make a difference or a good story (take note, Russell T. Davies, who sometimes forgot this).
"The Lodger" was also a Time Lord version of "The Odd Couple," and there is something simply, inherently appealing about the idea of the Doctor masquerading as a human and having a flatmate (Craig, beautifully and winningly played by James Corden). Danger aside (there's a creepy room upstairs that apparently eats people), the entire setup is geared for laughs as poor Craig finds his new flatmate rather ... odd and as the Doctor flails about trying to fit in.
Then, because the show is apparently out to get me, it threw in all sorts of details and developments that were basically guaranteed to push my buttons. Take a look at a few examples:
1. Craig's refrigerator. Do you notice a clever little detail?
Bonus: the magnetic letters spelling "Craig Rocks." Besides, I love the messy fridge door. It's so ... realistic. My fridge door is a mess of magnets and pictures and postcards and papers too.
2. Technophiliac fiddling. Just look at this loopy machine that the Doctor jury-rigged in his room! He MacGyvered it out of junk and spare parts. And that's pretty awesome.
3. The sonic toothbrush ... I mean, screwdriver.
I'm back to obsessing happily over attention to detail. The Doctor's in the shower and he reaches blindly for ... Hey, look!
... but, much to Craig's amusement (just look at Corden's expression!), the Doctor's actually grabbed the electric toothbrush instead. I laughed out loud, and I'll never look at my Sonicare toothbrush in quite the same way again. The entire little interlude was a great shout-out to ordinary objects in everyday life (and how they can slam up against the Doctor).
4. Cooking. You know I love cooking. This darn episode! Must it appeal to the cooking fan in me too? Apparently, YES. The Doctor makes an omelet for Craig and mentions along the way that he learned how to cook in Paris in the 19th century. Did he go to the Cordon Bleu? Did he learn from Escoffier? We don't know. But what a thought!
5. Soccer. I mean, FOOTBALL. Oh, and right during the World Cup, so you know this is no accident! Craig recruits the Doctor for his pub league team, and we get a whole wagonload of goodies out of it. For one thing, in terms of sporting tie-ins, this works SO MUCH BETTER than Season 2's "Fear Her" and its horrible London Olympics plot device.
Anyway, the Doctor changes into his kit, and right from the start it made me smile. He's put the jersey on backwards at first, yes, but notice the number on it. Also: when was the last time we saw a Doctor in shorts? Never, that's when. Nine and Ten never did (and, I have to say, Ciao Bello opined with crushing candor that nobody should ever have to see Tennant in shorts, and even lovely California Dreamer couldn't help poking fun at his legs after they saw this "Doctor Who Confidential" segment, *giggle*). But somehow shorts seem to dovetail perfectly well with Eleven's goofy -- and, let's be honest, dorky -- charm. The hair just adds to the effect.
Hilariously, at first the Doctor doesn't quite understand football -- and isn't even clear on which sport it is. In an earpiece exchange with the absent, TARDIS-bound Amy, he says, "Football ... I'm good at football, I think ... Football, all outdoorsy ... that's the one with the sticks, isn't it?"
And of course he's good at it. (I heard a tale that before he went into acting, Matt Smith did want to play football before an injury ended that.)
You'd have to have a heart of stone not be moved by this face when he scored. GOOOOOOAL! The other team's goalie isn't too happy, but there is something really sweet about Eleven right here.
Sophie (an adorable Daisy Haggard, whom you may recognize from the delightful "Man Flu" comedy video) approves. She's Craig's friend, and he fancies her but can't quite communicate that. "The Odd Couple" vibe takes on a rom-com vibe too.
6. You just had to, didn't you, show? You just had to bring in a montage of past Doctors and hurl David Tennant's face all over my TV, didn't you? Maybe it was meant as an homage, but I caught by surprise and it was like someone jammed an icicle into my heart. But it hurt so good to see Ten, darling dearly departed Ten, so I guess Aristotle was right about catharsis and whatnot. Darn it, show, for manipulating my apparently easily manipulated emotions.
7. Remember what I said at the beginning of this post about how the story is about people? I've banged on before (and at terrible length) about characters, and the episode ended delightfully on the human level. We resolved the issue about the mysterious people-eating upstairs room, but what brought the resolution wasn't the sonic screwdriver or some tech toy or something that only the Doctor could do. Actually, it was Craig and Sophie who ended up turning the tide ... by taking the leap and confessing their love for each other. In the end, they and the Doctor emerge as friends having shared an adventure.
So in the end, Craig and Sophie and I can say with happy honesty ... Well, why don't I just let Craig's fridge do the talking as it appears at the end of the episode?
Screencap credit to Sonic Biro. Also, you can catch the episode (and all of the current season's episodes) here.
BONUS: Take a look at this absolutely fabulous bit from this episode's "Doctor Who Confidential."
Also: How dare you, Ms. Hirshman. How dare you impose asinine, arbitrary "litmus tests" on any woman to see if she "qualifies" for your august approval?
This is the sort of behavior that is properly labeled "femisogyny." Yep, attacking and beating down women in the name of "feminism." Even better are arguments that some successful women (the biggest lightning rod is of course Sarah Palin) are bad for women in general, especially if the ladies in question have ideas different from the self-proclaimed feminist banner-carriers' pet policies. Pfffffft. I have no patience for this sort of "commentary." It's the burbling of the self-involved and intolerant, of idiots and scoundrels. Oh, and idiots and scoundrels who happen to be women are still -- guess what -- idiots and scoundrels. Hirshman, by the way, is a retired professor. Of philosophy. I am -- somehow -- not surprised.
Guess what, self-proclaimed guarantors of the "purity" of feminism. There's no such thing. Not if your definition of feminism means letting women make free and independent choices about everything concerning their lives. Sometimes, they'll choose things you won't like -- like choosing to oppose ObamaCare or choosing to join the tea party movement. That does not make them any less women than you are, and if you can't see the difference, then I'm nothing left to say to you. The point to feminism should NOT be the idea that women should all think the same (and vote the same, heh) just because they all happen to have ovaries and uteri.
Look, the contemporary leftist feminists' hand-wringing moaning, obsessive "analysis," and general angst about the increasing public visibility and success of conservative and libertarian women is itself indicative of their own intellectual bankruptcy. Their angst is, I dare say, existential angst. And somewhere kicking around is that awful, terrifying thought that there are ladies out there who can be successful without ever having anything to do with them or needing their sanction or aid.
ANYWAY, Daniel Hannan has his own rant this time, and it's a good one. I give you the bit about foreign policy, but you really should read his entire rant.
His fondness for the EU is matched by his disdain for the United Kingdom. It’s not the diplomatic snubs that bother me: the dissing of Gordon Brown, the insulting gifts, the sending back of Winston Churchill’s bust. It’s not even the faux-anger towards the company he insists on calling “British” Petroleum. (No such firm has existed since the merger of BP and Amoco nine years ago. Thirty-nine per cent of BP shares are American-owned, and 40 per cent British-owned. The stricken rig in the Gulf is owned by Transocean, and the drilling was carried out by Halliburton, yet Obama isn’t demanding compensation from either of these American corporations.)(How do you manage to tick off Canada, that famously easygoing, friendly nation?)
All these things are minor irritants compared to the way the Obama administration is backing Peronist Argentina’s claim to the Falkland Islands – or, as Obama’s people call them, “the Malvinas”. British troops were the only sizeable contingent to support the US in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have fought alongside America in most of the conflicts of the past hundred years. Yet, when the chips are down, Obama lines up with Hugo Chávez and Daniel Ortega against us.
Not that we should feel singled out. The Obama administration has scorned America’s other established friends. It has betrayed Poland and the Czech Republic, whose Atlanticist governments had agreed to accept the American missile defence system at immense political cost, only to find the project cancelled. It has alienated Israel and India. It has even managed to fall out with Canada over its “Buy American” rules and its decision to drill in disputed Arctic waters. Never has there been a worse time to be a US ally.
"Never has there been a worse time to be a US ally"? Never have we needed our friends and allies more.
Hannan, by the way, had backed Obama during the 2008 campaign, but he has since stopped drinking the Kool-Aid. I guess this now means he's a gun-clinging, Bible-thumping, bitter, racist teabagging retrograde hater like the rest of us, heh. (Wake up, rest of you Obamaniac Europeans.)
Here's Hannan's parting shot: "His policies are serving to make his country poorer, less free and less respected. And that is a problem for all of us." No kidding, sir!
Monday, June 14, 2010
I haven't posted anything thoughtful and intelligently analytical in days, have I? Well, it doesn't feel as if I have. And La Parisienne had to wait three weeks for the"Iron Man 2" review that I'd promised. I'm horrible. (On the plus side, I did just turn in two massive writing/research assignments for various Nerd Lords. Whew! On the minus side, I have a million more massive assignments left to do!)
Anyway, I'll try to get us back to our regularly scheduled bloggage. Don't expect anything too substantive, though, until the World Cup is over, all right? I'll probably be frivolous and distracted until it's all over. Let's add one more track to the Nerdworld Soundtrack ... "Train Wreck" by Sarah McLachlan. Bonus track: "Beautiful Disaster" by Kelly Clarkson, ha!
For now, perhaps you'll take this, darlings!
Yes, that really was 120 instances of the word "sorry."
And yes, unbelievably enough, I found something even worse and more aneurysm-inducing than J-Pop ... and the South Koreans aren't afraid to unleash it! I'm pretty sure that girl-group K-Pop counts as a crime against humanity. What say you? *end snark*
Sunday, June 13, 2010
And then, wonder of wonders, with the most recent two episodes, the show took a huge leap in that direction. Last night's episode, "The Lodger," basically did it, but it had gotten a huge assist from the 10th episode last week, "Vincent and the Doctor." Yes, Vincent. As in Van Gogh.
So what great stuff did that episode get right? Well, plenty, actually.
The episode opens with the Doctor being extra nice to Amy (after the horrible loss of Rory, which she can't even remember). And in his attempt to -- somehow -- be good to her (as well as to himself too, for the guilt must be dreadful), he takes her to all sorts of places, including a museum. A MUSEUM! A man after my own heart!
Then it gets even better. Whom do we run into in the gallery but the art expert and guide, who is played by none other than the delightful Bill Nighy! Bonus: he's wearing a bowtie. Double bonus that made me smile: He and the Doctor share a charming moment admiring each other's bowties. It was a tiny moment, but it was wonderful, and it was the sort of touch that elevates an episode from merely "good" to "great" or even in some cases, "awesome."
As it turns out, one of the Van Gogh paintings in the gallery contains the image of an alien monster, so Eleven and Amy race to the TARDIS and to 19th-century Provence to find Vincent and the alien threat. That's the plot. What follows now in this post is not about that, really, but about the fantastic little details that enrich it. The episode turns out to be a massive love letter to Vincent Van Gogh and his art. Now, to be perfectly honest, I'm not a huge Van Gogh fan, even though I know his art and I do appreciate it. (Well, OK, my favorite thing of his is "Starry Night.") But as it turns out, you don't have to be a Van Gogh fanboy/girl in order to appreciate the loving attention to detail and dedication to him that went into this episode. I was utterly charmed.
Take a look at this cafe where the Doctor and Amy go to look for the artist. It should look familiar if you recall your art history:
Oh, it gets better. Once we're there, we run into a certain troubled (and troublesome) artist who's attempting to pay his bill with a painting. And not just any painting.
What a great touch that in our first encounter with Vincent (fantastically embodied by Scotsman Tony Curran), when we see him for the first time, he's carrying that painting! Later on, Curran will even wear that same straw hat.
In his little house, we see something else hanging on the wall as the Doctor and Amy come to call, while Van Gogh apologizes for the "clutter."
Oh, yes, it is! There's "Starry Night"! In fact, the entire house is evocative, and if you have even a passing acquaintance with Van Gogh's body of work, you might be amused to see what his room looks like:
In this episode, we don't spend a lot of time gallivanting around strange alien landscapes. We're on Earth, but in a lovely approach, the show gives us some gorgeous visual setpieces. This episode is largely a confection for the eyes in all sorts of ways. Just look at this scene, in which Amy attempts to inspire Van Gogh to paint sunflowers. It's absolutely beautiful. And Amy's expression is just so much fun.
Sorry, I can't help myself:
"Monsters in the mirror may be closer than they appear"!
Next time: How episode 11 (how fitting a number) finally won me over. By apparently pulling out all the stops ever.
UPDATE: Part 2 is now online.
Screencap credit to Sonic Biro. Also, you can catch the episode (and all of the current season's episodes) here.