Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mea Culpa: School Has Been Insanely Doomtastic ... Plus DVD Review of "Stay" (2005)

Posting hasn't been up to my usual standards because I'm preoccupied with school responsibilities.  Um ... sorry?  I'm hoping things get better after Spring Break!  We'll get back to foreign policy, politics, science and tech, and things of greater import than Oscar night lunacy.  Too bad school has been insane.  Ugh.

On a related note about insanity: I made a big mistake (or else indulged in a darkly brilliant bit of unintentional, serendipitous irony) the other night when I watched the 2005 flick "Stay" while doing teaching prep.  That flick is sheer head-pounding madness of a completely David Lynchian type!  It was a medicated-like-House fever dream.  You  know, once when I was really, really sick, I took NyQuil, and the vividly bizarre, down-the-rabbit hole, fleeing-from-monsters dreams that resulted wouldn't have been out of place in this flick!  And no, I've never taken NyQuil again.  I'd rather suffer.  But as for this flick about such uplifting ideas as guilt, grief, self-destruction, the dissolution of reality, and the descent into madness?  Maybe not the best pick for diversion during a study binge? Too close to grad school?  *Sigh.*  (And so here I go, preferring to scribble this off the cuff as another form of procrastination.  I'd rather do this than the work that has a deadline in 2 days, you know?)


Reality Bites.

History in Photos: The New York Times' Vintage Photo Blog

Get an eyeful of the Lively Morgue!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Post-Oscars: Red Carpet Highlights

Who cares about the actual winners?  I'm more interested in red carpet shenanigans.  This year's outfits were kind of tame with a side of mediocrity.  Most of the dresses weren't even worth mocking (though Jennifer Lopez looked totally tacky).  Someone please give Angelina "emaciation chic" Jolie a sandwich.  A few people even looked lovely (Gwyneth Paltrow was cool and stately, Natalie Portman was adorable in her subtly red and black polka-dotted number, Octavia Spencer was cute, and I give two thumbs way up to Jessica Chastain's bold black-and-gold choice).  

But nope, the highlight of the entire red carpet experience was comedic gadfly Sacha Baron Cohen crashing the entire thing in a glorious publicity stunt (despite being specifically banned from the event) and ambushing the hapless Ryan Seacrest.  Come on, before getting bundled off by security, Cohen zestfully mocked not only Hollywood pretentiousness and Middle Eastern dictators, but Kim Jong-Il as well.  I loved it and laughed out loud.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

It's Time for Academy Award Asinity

I love movies.  In fact, I adore movies.  You know this (the writing of movie reviews during breaks from research should have been a clue!).  But I hate the Oscars.  Let's take a look at some massive snubs (then and now) and  some seriously overrated Best Picture winners and still more of that (I'm glad I'm not the only person who hates "Forrest Gump" and "Crash").  Then take a look at this hilariously snarky pair of cartoons:


Friday, February 24, 2012

DVD Movie Review: "Half Nelson" (2006)


Educating Ryan.

The "inspirational inner-city schoolteacher" subgenre of movies gets schooled in this indie film whose report card included a Best Actor Oscar nomination for Ryan Gosling's A+ performance.

Ave Atque Vale: John Fairfax

Just read this obituary that reads like a swashbuckling novel of utterly mad adventure on the high seas and in the jungle.  Hail and farewell, sir!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Asian Stereotypes and the Response to Linsanity

Here are a few thoughts by George Takei.  Funny thing is, I had JUST been talking about this to a friend.  We were discussing in passing all the analyses of Jeremy Lin's awesomeness that seemed to start with, "How is Lin doing this?"  Somehow the question seemed less about technique than about the ability in the first place, with the apparent unspoken assumption that Asians just don't do basketball.  Oh, come on, in the wake of Yao Ming's successes, why is this a surprise?  And yet ... I'll say this: if Lin weren't Asian, would the questionable analyses be worded like this?  Anyway, see this too.  Oh, and in case you were wondering, yellow men can jump.  On a related note about Lin: As for one outlet's ludicrous hit at Lin's Christian beliefs (i.e., "Is Lin the next Tebow?") I won't even dignify that with a rant.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Internet Regulation, Russia, China, and the UN

Now that's a string of words that together rather chills the blood, isn't it?

Too Little, Too Late

Someone still thinks there's hope for the Oscars.  Personally I haven't watched the show in years.  It's excruciating.  Nope, I'll just watch the stars show up on the red carpet so I can cheer or jeer at their outfits (see last year's collection of mostly-jeers), and then I'm off to do anything other than watch this bloated, self-congratulatory spectacle.  Besides, the Oscars always snub the worthy.  Did these guys not even watch "Drive"?  (That's OK, Ryan -- we still love you.)

Life Imitates "Jurassic Park"

Russian scientists resurrect a plant that's been dead for 32,000 years.  Hey, wait a minute!  Wasn't it also Russian scientists who breached that prehistoric lake?  Are they trying to kick-start an apocalypse movie?

Euro Notes: $170 Billion Bailout for Greece

Will it prevent a Greek default?  Everyone hopes so.  Well, you can certainly hope for the best, but the other half of that advice is "but prepare for the worst."  I'm bringing the "train wrecks" tag out of retirement.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Oatmeal vs. Online Piracy

The lovely La Parisienne recommends this cartoon by the delightfully demented cartoonist known as the Oatmeal, and I do too.  It's a gloriously funny, not to mention all too accurate, depiction of how piracy is above all a service problem.  How many times do I have to say it?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mashup Awesomeness: "Drive" + "Star Wars"

The always-interesting Flick Filosopher (who liked "Drive" as much as I did) has this delightful link to what she says "may well be the coolest ****ing thing I have ever seen in my entire life."  Take a look for yourself!

Satire Alert: Well, They Couldn't Be Possibly Worse Than the Current Political Class, Could They?



Nerd Journal: Time for a New Cellphone

All those new Droid smartphones are very, very pretty, so I've been looking at them ... but do I really need one that's made out of KEVLAR?  Well, maybe?  

Finding Political Common Ground in San Francisco

Awwww, isn't that sweet?  Finally something everyone can agree on!  < / snark>

Friday, February 17, 2012

Quote of the Day: Political Reactions

James Delingpole is in fine form:
"...you're a bit like an hysterical woman who's just had a tarantula drop on top of her in the bath, you just want to GET RID OF IT NOW!"
Read the whole thing, please.

Friday Fun: Every Bart Simpson Chalkboard Quote to Date

Simply delightful.  Two of my favorites: "I will not put hot sauce on the CPR dummy" and "The world might end in 2012, but this show won't."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Striking Photo From 1936

One of these folks is not like the others.  Via Pseudo-Polymath.

Quote of the Day: I Need To Say This To My Undergrads

Here's something:
The test will measure whether you are an informed, engaged, and productive citizen of the world and it will take place in schools and bars and hospitals and dorm rooms and in places of worship. You will be tested on first dates, in job interviews, while watching football and while scrolling through your twitter feed. The test will judge your ability to think about things other than celebrity marriages, whether you’ll be easily persuaded by empty political rhetoric, and whether you’ll be able to place your life and your community in a broader context. The test will last your entire life and it will be comprised of the millions of decisions that when taken together make your life yours. And everything - everything - will be on it.
Now that's some education.

Hey Girl, Here Are All Your Ryan Gosling Memes

To help La Parisienne in her convalescence and to amuse everyone else, here's the motherlode for memes of Internet sweetie-pie Ryan Gosling.  Enjoy!  I love the medieval historian version myself.  (Did you know this meme?  No?  Tsk tsk. Time to brush up your Internet culture cred!)  RELATED POSTS:  Taking issue with People magazine and saying no to SOPA.

I Got Your True Love Right Here

"True love is the greatest thing in the world. Except for a nice MLT -- Mutton, lettuce, and tomato sandwich. Where the mutton is nice and lean ... "

Don't forget the bacon!


Happy Valentine's Day

I'll just give you today's charming Google doodle with Tony Bennett singing:




 (If you're not in the mood for lovey-dovey, try this!)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

DVD Movie Review: "Drive" (2011)


Clutch.

Your mileage may vary, but MM suggests you fasten your seat belts and let this uber-artistic, stylized indie film take you on a ride of striking images that will stretch your expectations of what an action film can do and be.  "Drive," helmed by Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn and anchored by rising Canadian star Ryan Gosling (of Internet meme fame), is a compelling combination of arthouse and thriller.  

Friday, February 10, 2012

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Dipstick Du Jour: the Hubristic Undergrad Applicant

The Cine-Sib sent me this link, and it's too good to keep to myself.  Take a look at this.

Movie Trailer: "The Avengers"

OK, out of some awesome trailers recently, this is my favorite. May 4 can't get here soon enough:  MM and La Parisienne want to see our beloved Tony Stark on the big screen again.  For now we'll have to settle for watching him be snarky to Loki ... while blithely pouring himself a drink.  (Yes, yes, I know I'm behind on posting cool trailers, but school's been super busy, yadda yadda yadda.)  Here, just look at this, will ya?

 

A Ranty Note on Politics

I haven't blogged much about the entire parade of crazy known as the 2012 election/re-election campaign, and I'll tell you why: I am completely and utterly disgusted with everybody on all sides.  I'm a voter looking for a candidate who will promise to leave me the hell alone ... though such a candidate apparently does not and will not exist.  My gripes with the president are a matter of public record.  My gripes with the insanity of the GOP primary candidates just might be bigger.  (Seriously, this is the best you can do?)   My gripes with the entire political class in general have been the topic of a tedious number of rants.  It's indicative, I think, that the SOPA/PIPA debacle involved not one party or another, but an entire mass of Congressional politicians from both sides engaging in a joint act of arrogant idiocy and obvious power-grabbing, cronyism, and special interests-coddling that ticked off millions of ordinary citizens of all political persuasions.  Ugh!  OK, back to the books and papers.  I'm tired of even thinking about these intellectual and moral pygmies.

Movie Trailer: "The Bourne Legacy"

Jeremy Renner is the new Jason Bourne.  The movie looks as though it could be good!  MM loves spy thrillers, after all.

Russian Scientists Drill Into Sealed Ancient Lake

This is cool and all -- drilling into 2-mile-thick ice to breach an Antarctic lake that's been sealed for millions of years -- but to me it also sounds like the perfect intro to a crazy action sci fi/fantasy/disaster movie involving some unspeakably horrific menace that those scientists inadvertently wake up.  Aforementioned gigantic menace will of course eat all the scientists and then begin to wreak bloody havoc everywhere until [insert action hero du jour here] must come riding to the rescue *insert Michael Bay-esque explosions and pounding music*. (Yes, I would totally go see this summer blockbuster.)

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Satire Alert: Remy Vs. the Clint Eastwood Super Bowl Spot

Take a look at the delightful Remy's latest effort - a parody of the Eastwood "Halftime in America" TV spot that I had me rolling my eyes and longing for stupid beer commercials.  Remy, you deserve your own blog category tag!  UPDATE: IOWAHAWK!



Go ahead.  Make my day bailout.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Blast from the Past: Home Decor of the 1970s

Click at your own risk!

Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the Persecution of Christians

Oppression all too readily forgotten.  As I have said before, you don't have to be a Christian yourself to be horrified.

Well, Duh: How to Combat Movie Piracy

Draconian attempts at legislation (*cough* SOPA/PIPA! *cough*) will not end piracy.  As I've said repeatedly, piracy is a service issue.  "Give the pirates some competition by providing something better."

Awesome: Southern Lights

Take a look at the Northern Lights' cousin Down Under, the Aurora Australis.  This video from Melbourne, Australia, captures some stunningly beautiful images.  More info here.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Niall Ferguson on Israel and Iran

Professor Ferguson argues that arguments against an Israeli strike on Iran are faulty.  Oh, my.  More here:

Hello Kitty Monstrosity of the Day: Hello Dentist

Isn't going to the dentist terrifying enough without this?  This madness is in Tokyo.


Bringing Up Bebe

Forget the Tiger Mom! 

Geek Fun: Art History + Sci Fi

Take a good look!

Monday Morning Quarterbacking Begins In 3... 2... 1...

Get ready for a day full of post-Super Bowl griping/gloating/nitpicking!

Sunday, February 05, 2012

It's Super Bowl Sunday, Sports Fans!


You know that I'm only watching for the commercials!  (OK, and for the buffalo wings that my friends are bringing!)  Kickoff is 6:30 PM Nerdworld Time on NBC.  If you're not a sports fan, here are two things you might consider: thing one and thing two.   UPDATE:  OK, I laughed.  This "cheat sheet" is good too.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Thoughts on Nuclear Iran at a Cambridge Union Debate

Via Brits at Their Best, this video.  Bonus: actual use of the term "jiggery-pokery"!

The War on Sugar

*Sigh.*
Like alcohol and tobacco, sugar is a toxic, addictive substance that should be highly regulated with taxes, laws on where and to whom it can be advertised, and even age-restricted sales, says a team of UCSF scientists.

Star Trek Vs. Star Wars

Cracked.Com pits these two sci fi behemoths against each other to hilariously snarky effect. But would you go as far as to argue that "Star Wars" actually sucks?  Them's fightin' words in sci fi fandom ... not least because Han Solo is the coolest ruffian ever.

SOPA Cartoon Commentary: Citizen Rights Online

SMBC has a great comic today.

Nerd Fun: Rearranging the Continents

I confess that the thought had never occurred to me, ha!  Well, whaddyaknow?





Great Moments in Research: "The Profound Importance of Familiar Cookies"

Ummm ... OK.  I don't think any of us doubted the psychological importance of "comfort food," right?  I mean, it's called "comfort food" for a reason.  For a humorous example, I give you a bit from one of my favorite episodes of "Star Trek: the Next Generation":