Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Movie Review: "The Hunger Games"


May the box office returns be ever in your favor.

Now that this movie has raked in the astounding figure of $155 million over opening weekend, I'd say that the odds really are in its favor.  Set in a dystopian future, this story of a young woman fighting for survival against a tyrannical government that endorses the killing of teenagers for sport in a sick annual reality TV show does leave you hungry ... for more.  Jennifer Lawrence (most recently seen as young Mystique in X-Men: First Class) as 16-year-old protagonist Katniss Everdeen turns in what just might be (and should be) a spirited, star-making performance in this film adaptation of Suzanne Collins' best-selling novel.  (Thank goodness, this is the un-Twilight!)

I'll try to return and write a more detailed review about ideas and themes in this film (of which there are some fabulous ones), but for right now I have school work to panic about!

Mad Minerva gives this film a grade of A-.  While I thought most of the supporting cast was quite interesting (Lenny Kravitz?!  yet it worked), I counted off for the headache-inducing amount of shaky cam (and, for the record, I hate shaky cam!) that obscured the action more than it enhanced it.  I also wasn't unimpressed by the casting of Prim Everdeen and also by some groan-inducing dialogue.  Also, at almost 2.5 hours long, this movie is a bit too long and could have had a more polished start and set-up.

Rotten Tomatoes gives The Hunger Games the undeniably Fresh rating of 86%.

The official website is here.

The Hunger Games runs 142 minutes and is rated PG-13 for violence and disturbing images.

The trailer:

Disgustingly Cute March Madness Brackets

March Madness + six-year-olds = disgustingly cute ad campaign for AT&T.  You can also catch all the cuteness on its Youtube channel.  For now, though, here's Bella on the Kansas Jayhawks, who ten minutes ago defeated the Tarheels to advance to the Final Four!

Fleeing North Korea: Song Ee Han's Story

Read this.  The link is from a Korean-American friend who of mine who added, "It makes me feel so proud and fortunate to live in this country." 

Hello Kitty Monstrosity of the Day: the Airport Gate at Taoyuan International Airport

Finally, an airport setup that's even worse than JFK, Heathrow, or Chicago-O'Hare!


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Nerd Journal: Let Me Obsess About March Madness!

Hoops hysteria hits the Elite Eight and I am simply beside myself.  I watched 3 games last night while chatting online with friends who were doing exactly the same thing.  I'm totally exhausted.  But happy!  March Madness RULES.  Unfortunately, my mountain of work remains perilously high and mostly untouched (yikes).

Fugly or Fabulous? Political Nail Polish

Would you pay $40 for a set of Obama-themed nail polish colors?  Still, I have to say I'd never seen cosmetics specifically marketed for an election campaign.  Oh, and nail polish is fine, but perhaps these folks can also come up with politically-themed lipstick so I can give it to all 2012 politicians when I tell them they can kiss my ... 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Nerdpocalypse Now!

TOTALLY SWAMPED AT SCHOOL. I hope I'll be back once this crazy week is over!  Here's a fitting song: "But we're never gonna survive until we are a little crazy ... !"

Monday, March 19, 2012

Movie Trailer: Ridley Scott's "Prometheus"

It looks good!  Michael Fassbender, whose career is on fire right now, will be in it, along with an entire slate of notable folks.

  

The "TSA is an Expensive, Epic Fail" Infographic

I've ranted before repeatedly about the ludicrous and useless "security theater" that's making travel utterly miserable, but it's even worse than you think it is:

Awesome Snark: 12-Year-Old Student 1, Plain Doughnuts 0

This is just beautiful.  Do click to enlarge.  This kid's got a bright future as a comedian.


Rant: "The War on Women"

Sarah Hoyt has something to say, so listen up!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Of Memes and Mangled History

The 19th president of the US Rutherford B. Hayes becomes an Internet meme and takes off.  Why?  Here's why, as Mark Steyn explains.  What a cocktail of ignorance and condescension.  *Sigh.*  UPDATE:  Gentle reader Dignified Rant has contributed a meme!

Quote of the Day: The Coming Medical Ethics Crisis?

Oh, goody.  Terrifying thought by a practicing physician in the new age of government intrusion:
When the physician’s primary obligation is to satisfy the wishes of the payer—ultimately the wishes of the state—how can patients be truly confident in their doctors’ decisions? 
I submit that it all boils down to a question of professional ethics. 
The medical profession must decide—and soon—which ethical doctrine to follow: Are doctors to be agents of their patients or agents of the state? All of us should dread the latter choice—because we will all be patients some day.

And Now An Opposition Viewpoint: A Ryan Gosling Rant

We're all entitled to our opinions, so those of you who are sick and tired of my Ryan Gosling-o-philia (*cough* Ciao Bello! *cough*) may be amused by this openly hateful screed: "Ryan Gosling Is Not a Movie Star!"  I enjoyed reading it myself, actually, even though I didn't agree with it.  Ranty outbursts can be fun just by virtue of being ranty.  Oh, and some of the comments are just hilarious.  

Satire Alert: Grad Student Deconstructs Take-Out Menu

Here's a golden oldie from the Onion.  Oh, it still makes me laugh.

Life Imitates James Bond: Shark Tanks on a Villain's Yacht

I present the following without further comment.  

Oh, screw it, I can't help myself: "You know, I have one simple request.  And that is to have sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads!  Now evidently my cycloptic colleague informs me that that cannot be done.  Ah, would you remind me what I pay you people for, honestly?"

Dalrymple on the Cheerleaders of Social Collapse

GOOD GRIEF, PEOPLE.

Fugly or Fabulous? Reception Red

I have a reception to go to soon, and I need to look halfway cleaned-up.  I want to do something other than the LBD (Little Black Dress) because it's my and everybody else's default.  Here's something not too expensive, and it has a bit of a retro vibe.  Thoughts?  Love it or loathe it?



Movie Trailer: "Detachment"

Detachment is a new movie about damaged students and a damaged teacher, and it stars Oscar winner Adrien Brody along with a supporting cast full of names and faces you'll recognize.  Here's the trailer:



Part of me's interested because it's a flick about teaching and education, but a bigger part of me is wary and weary already.  RottenTomatoes hasn't been too enthusiastic (giving the movie 55%), and I don't want get preached at, lectured, and hectored for two hours.  I want another Half Nelson, but I don't think I'm going to get something of that caliber.  Then again, Adrien Brody.  Maybe he can save the flick?  I'll catch this on DVD maybe.

Awesome March Madness: Brady Heslip's 9 three-pointers

Baylor beat Colorado 80-63 to advance to the Sweet 16, but all I could really think about during the game was, "Is Brady Heslip a cyborg?"  The Canadian-born student was playing like a maniac, sinking nine -- nine! -- three-pointers.  Stuff like this is why I love March Madness!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


March Madness: Miskatonic University Edition

I can't think of another real reason why Duke and UConn are already out of the tournament.  (What?!  I didn't even have time to get my Duke-hate on!)  Look at the brackets.  It must be Cthulhu and the rise of the dark gods as Miskatonic University meets March Madness! (Besides, isn't this a fab image that I just got from a school friend of mine??)


Nothing but net.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Fun Video: From Canadian to Marlon Brando

New York Magazine has way too much time on its hands, but the result is just hilarious.  Check out the Ryan Gosling Accent-O-Meter:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Et Tu, Brute? It's the Ides of March Again

It's that time of year again, when a young Roman patrician's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of stabbing folks in the back!


You know what to do.  This year I'll even let you have a cinematic alternative or two.  Do you prefer vintage eye candy or the golden boys of the present?  Note: Clooney's flick isn't about Julius Caesar per se, but it is about corrupt politics and inner turmoil and betrayal, which explains the title all too well.  (I'll post a movie review later when I'm not buried under schoolwork.)


Oh, and if you still haven't ever seen the young Marlon Brando's "friends, Romans, countrymen" speech over the body of Caesar in that 1953 film, I'm telling you to drop everything and remedy that gap in your cultural education immediately!  (Alternatively, you might get a laugh out of this clip from the 2004 flick Mean Girls.)  

So enjoy the Ides, gentle reader, but ... Watch your back!

LOL: Proving a Point to the RIAA and MPAA

These are some of the entertainment industry folks who were for SOPA, remember?  Check out this counter-argument.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Thoughts on Afghanistan -- Mission Incomplete

Thoughts?

Life Imitates "Jurassic Park": Cloning Woolly Mammoths

South Korean and Russian scientists want to try cloning woolly mammoths.  Gee, what could possibly go wrong?  

MARCH MADNESS!

I looooooooooooove me some March Madness.  I'm also tickled by this  -- Foreign Policy's World Leader March Madness brackets!

LOL: Binder Clips with Attitude

Just imagine how much fun I could have organizing papers and articles and Nerdmoot packets and other such tree-killing Nerdworld paperwork!

MM in the Kitchen: A Cup of Coffee Cake

Because you just know that I'll be making this at 2 AM during study binges.  Bonus: the recipe itself comes with some hilarious commentary.  (Oh, for the record: I still hate The Notebook and still love Ryan Gosling, mmmkay?)

What Fresh Hell Is This? The Anti-Protest Law

I just got this link from a nerd friend, and all I can say is:  "WHAT."

Happy Pi Day

Yep, it's 3.14 -- March 14!  Have fun.  Eat pie!


Monday, March 12, 2012

It's Daylight Saving Time, and We're All Dazed and Confused


Hello Kitty Monstrosity of the Day: The Plane, The Plane!

Finally, something in air transport that's more awful than the TSA!

I think I've mentioned this Hello Kitty madness by EVA Air before, but this recent Wall Street Journal story about it refreshes all the horror.  The image gallery is simply ... unspeakable. I am happy to note, however, that the demented masterminds behind this did see fit to stock the plane with Hello Kitty-themed airsick bags.  You're going to need them, pal.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Glorious Gluttony: the Best Dim Sum in Hong Kong

I'm envious.  And now absolutely, raveningly starving and on the verge of taking a bite out of my laptop screen.    You think I'm kidding?

Thoughts on Academic Freedom and the Right to Speak Your Mind on Campus

See this and this and this.  Note the disgusting, depressing spectacle of students trying to deal with professors they don't like by disrupting their classes and trying to shut them up.  Read some Voltaire, you little twits.  Free speech isn't just for people you like or agree with.  Pathetic.

Remembering the Japanese Quake and Tsunami

It has been one year.  Commemorations are underway.  Spare a moment to remember the estimated 19,000 who were lost that terrible day.

More Thoughts on Bombing Auschwitz

I'm pretty sure I've blogged about this before (though I can't seem to find the actual post since apparently I'm a blithering idiot today), but here's a new iteration: "Politicians, Historians, and the Holocaust."

LOL: MIT's Social Skills Seminar for Geeks and Nerds

No, really!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Required Viewing: the Art of Storytelling

This should be required for everyone in Hollywood especially:  "Make me care."  This also applies to books, natch, and really any medium that's about telling compelling stories.  Great stuff (though be warned that the (hilarious) opening gambit contains an obscenity):

Great Moments in Research: Spider Silk = Beautiful Music

No, really!  You can make violin strings out of it.  Who knew?  (Aside from Japanese researcher Shigeyoshi Osaki, who has worked with spider silk for 35 years (!) at the Nara Medical University in Japan.)  Check out the video at the link.

MM in the Kitchen: Saturday Morning Breakfast

Saturdays are among those rare days when you might actually have time to make a decent breakfast!  Here are lots of options, including some eggs-cellent ones.  I'm thinking of baked eggs with asparagus.

Friday, March 09, 2012

OMG, NO!

NO!   No, no, no!   Say no to brosiery and mantyhose!  What happens in the Middle Ages should stay in the Middle Ages!

Friday Fun Video: "Wizard Love"

The lovely Alessandra recommends this:

 

Movie Madness: "Jiro Dreams of Sushi"

I found this purely by accident, and it looks fascinating.

Easy Rider: 70-Year-Old Japanese Equestrian Qualifies for London Olympics

Simply outstanding.  See, you're never too old to be awesome!  Hiroshi Hoketsu first competed in the 1964 Tokyo Games.  He's been doing this for far longer than I've even been alive.  What a glorious -- pardon my language -- bad@$$!  (Of course, you all know that Asians don't age, right?)  More from ESPN.  Kudos, sir.

The Cine-Sib Recommends: "Assassin's Creed 3"

The game will be set during the American Revolution!  He and I especially loved the previous one that was set in Renaissance Italy.  Here's the trailer for the new game to be released October 30:



Thursday, March 08, 2012

In the Wake of "Stupor Tuesday"

Nobody really wins, and the parade of crazy marches on.  Ugh.  You notice, of course, that I didn't even mention Super Tuesday until now because the whole thing was such a huge cesspool.  You'll excuse me if, in lieu of ranting, I vanish to drown my rage/sorrow/disgust in coffee, research, and a million John Hughes and Ryan Gosling movies.  I find Santorum so repulsive and Newt so ... Newt-y that I might have to end up giving this blog's oh-so-coveted endorsement to Romney by sheer default.  

Public Service Announcement: Free Redbox Rental Today

To celebrate their 2-billionth rental.  Enjoy!  (Unfamiliar with Redbox?)

Public Service Announcement: Spotify is Awesome

I just joined Spotify ... and BOY HOWDY is it fun!  Yeah, I know the UK-based online music streaming service has been stateside since July, but I didn't bother messing with it right away ... and now I wish I had instead of messing with individual tracks on iTunes and whatnot.  Accessing music (and making playlists to share music with your buddies) has never been so easy.  And it's all legal too.   (I got the free version because I'm an impecunious campus nerd.)

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Headline Du Jour: "Stop This Absurd War on the Color Pink"

Check out this deliciously named article in Scientific American.  More on the current pink wars here and here.  As for breaking up with pink ... Who knew?

DVD Movie Review: "Crazy, Stupid, Love" (2011)


"The lunatic, the lover, and the poet are of imagination all compact." 
~Shakespeare, right on target as usual

I hate, loathe, despise, and abominate romantic comedies.  I couldn't get enough of Crazy, Stupid, Love. Clearly there's something special about this film ... and there is.  In fact, this movie succeeds because of numerous somethings special (and an excellent ensemble cast) that together add up to a surprisingly charming, ultimately sweet look at the many complications of romance.  The course of true love never did run smooth ... but the bumps along the way, with their genially Horatian pokes at human foibles, make for a hilarious two hours' traffic of our stage.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Mini-Rant: Politics and Arguments About "Morality"

A former student of mine sent me this little article, and I feel compelled to say something.  I haven't posted much about politics because I'm so disgusted by the state of both it and its practitioners, and the persistent use of so-called "moral arguments" on all sides has been both laughable and deplorable in its utter cynicism and demonization of everyone who disagrees with (insert asinine issue du jour).  Rant follows.

Nerd Journal: In the spring a young woman's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of shoes ... and Nerdmoots

"Thoughts of love"?  Nay, my friend.  What a cliché.  (Sorry, Tennyson.)  Thoughts of shoes, though.  SHOES.  It's been a long winter.  Technically, it still is winter, or at least in Nerdworld, it's still freezing, and I'm still in boots.  That's OK, though, because it's March now, and sooner or later, warmer days will come.  This means I'm (a) looking for the season's first robin (nothing yet!), and (b) starting to think longingly of awesome non-winter shoes.  The spring is Nerdmoot season, and I (and Ladybird too!) have several to attend.  I intend to go dressed to kill.  I might be a nobody in the profession, but that doesn't mean that I have to dress like a nobody.

So, on that note, I am thinking about splurging on these beauties:



Cinderella at the Nerdmoot.

What do you think?  Fugly or fabulous?  I am thinking of wearing them with a nice colorful shift or sheath dress. Maybe a bright green or blue (like this?), or maybe a light shade of anything.  No boring dark gray/black/brown/navy business skirt or pant suits for me, nosirreebob.  The fact that I'll be giving a paper about dead people doesn't mean that I have look dead myself, does it?  NO, IT DOESN'T.  So Mama needs some new shoes.  As a friend of mine says of such hypothetical footwear, they're "shoes to kick @$$ in" (or "with," depending).  

Digital Texts and the Need for Physical Archives

Absolutely.  Always have back-ups.  Always have back-ups of back-ups.

And There Was Much Rejoicing: the Monty Python iPad App

Hooray!  (Take a look, O Dignified Rant!)  The new iPad app comes right on time for today's release of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" on glorious Blu-ray.  Did all you gentle readers know it only took 28 days to film this comedy classic?  Here's a hint of the fun in the app:


Monday, March 05, 2012

Movie Madness: Product Placement

Well, whaddyaknow?  Here's an entire blog dedicated to product placement in movies.  The Cine-Sib and I love picking out product placement when we're at the movies, and this is just going to make it even more interesting.  I should note, though, that in 2011's "Crazy Stupid Love,"  I was much more struck by its (hilariously) negative depictions of New Balance sneakers and the Gap.  Of course, there's no such thing as bad publicity? (There is also, of course, no such thing as a bad reason to blog about Ryan Gosling either when he's wearing that gorgeous outfit.  Look, Barney Stinson has a point when he insists that guys should always wear a good suit.  But I digress.)

Exhibit A:


Exhibit B:

I Heard It on the Gripevine

A new way to kvetch about bad customer service!  There's no excuse for what the Cine-Sib calls "customer disservice." BONUS: Gripevine would not have been born if not for a now-infamous incident of bad customer service by United Airlines.  You know what it was!

Content, Piracy, and Service Issues Yet Again

How many times do I have to say this?  SOPA/PIPA, ACTA, and all their poisonous ilk are not the solution.  The problem is the content industry, as always one beat behind the rest of the cultural band.  You'll recall this recent brilliant takedown too.

 

Hello Kitty Monstrosity of the Day: the Makeup Brush Set


What really gets me, though, is the ad copy:  "This set of quality makeup brushes comes in a large metallic silver Hello Kitty container. To reveal the brushes inside, simply lift Kitty's head."  I don't know if I really want to start every morning with a decapitation.  

Meet "the Body Counter"

Everybody knows that infamous statement by Stalin that one death is a tragedy but a million is a statistic.  Via Pseudo-Polymath is this link to Foreign Policy's profile of statistician Patrick Ball.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Teacher Jeremiah Small Murdered in Iraq

Here is the news.  Take a look at this tribute by one of Small's Iraqi students:
For me personally, Jeremiah Small was both a teacher and a friend. After my parents, he contributed the most to my personality and knowledge. He taught me how to turn my vision into reality and challenged me to be diligent, observing, meek, organized, and detailed. 
He was also a great friend outside of the classroom; we went on numerous hikes, trips, and other outings. God knows I would not be who I am today if it was not for him and what he presented to me. I am sure hundreds of his other students feel the same way.

... This, folks, is the irony of it all; our community has grown so vile that we kill the people who come to serve us, the people who dedicate their lives to us. Killing a teacher (especially over a slight disagreement) not only means that we despise education and are closed up, it also points out to the fact that we do not take disagreements well: we kill whoever has different opinions in the most brutal ways. But I guess this has been happening quite a lot lately. What a shame. 
I refuse to be part of it, however. I refuse to be silent, to clap for the unjust. This is why I join the thousands of others who condemn training children with special force units and giving them weapons to shoot their teachers with whenever they disagree on anything. This is why I condemn the rule of totalitarians that is looming over us, killing whoever disagrees. I join the thousands of affected students and families in demanding justice for the murder of Jeremiah Small and an end to the use of force in silencing differences.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Ave Atque Vale, Andrew Breitbart

Oh, no!  43 is far too young.

Art History Lesson: Titian's "Diana and Callisto"

Very cool!

A Ryan Gosling Movie the Cine-Sib and I Can Both Love

The Cine-Sib and I both hate sappy romances (ugh, "The Notebook") and he doesn't share my enthusiasm for indie character studies like "Half Nelson," but here's a movie project (shooting on location in Thailand) we can both agree on enthusiastically.  Hey girl, we're heading into Bangkok's violent criminal underworld, complete with drug trafficking, murder, revenge, betrayal, and Thai boxing.  What's not to love?  Plus Kristin Scott-Thomas the head of a crime family -- the Godmother!  As Kipling did say, "The female of the species is more deadly than the male."  This should be good.  Really good.  It ought to be, since Nicholas Winding Refn is directing, and I loved "Drive," his previous collaboration with Gosling.  I'm hoping for another dark, slick work of stylishly artful mayhem.  The exotic Thai setting should be simply fabulous.  Oh, and the movie title?  "Only God Forgives."  I can't tell you how glorious I think it is.


UPDATE:  Bloody swordfights are involved!  AWESOME!  This project's sounding more and more like a cool Asian action flick, and you know how much the Cine-Sib and I love those.

Movie Madness: "Avengers" Official Trailer #2


Movie Madness: Turn Your Videos Into "The Artist"

"The Artist" cleaned up during the Oscars, so this is a great way to jump onto that silent black-and-white movie bandwagon!

Yoga as Olympic Sport?

That's what some enthusiasts want.  Sound goofy?  Is it as goofy as sheep shearing as an Olympic sport?

Ireland Signs Controversial "Irish SOPA" Into Law

Ugh.

MM in the Kitchen: Rainbow Jello

I don't even like Jello, but this just looks too darn cool to pass up.  I need to make this and inflict it on some of my friends' kids.