Sunday, December 28, 2014

I'll Fly Away: Jetliner Cross-Section

Since we're all traveling a lot for the holidays, here's something cool and relevant.  Ain't technology grand!  

*tries to hang onto sense of wonder about human flight even as babies howl in crowded cabins and people drop bags on one's head from overhead compartments*

Mamma Mia! 30 Best Fictional Parents

Atticus Finch et al!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Movies of 2014

How many have you seen?  I reviewed a selection, and you can find all my raves and rants under the movie reviews tag!

MM in the Kitchen: History via Recipes!

Specifically, recipes from 1600-1800.  Edible research!

Nerd News: Diversity Initiatives vs. Asian Americans

Yet again.  One could do an entire case study on Stuyvesant in NYC:
These challenges have a bearing on K-12 schools, too, suggesting that the the bamboo ceiling may be even lower than once thought. Stuyvesant, one of New York City’s nine specialized public high schools, doesn't consider race in its admissions process; students only need take a standardized test to apply. Still, the policy has come under fire because of the student demographics that result: 73 percent of 'Stuy's' current students are Asian, while 22 percent are white. Just 2 percent of the school's population are Hispanic, and 1 percent is black.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Movie Review: "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies"

"Will you follow me one last time?"

Thorin Oakenshield asks the other dwarves this question, and it might as well be director Peter Jackson asking his now-exhausted audience to finish his seemingly interminable Hobbit trilogy. By the time my friends and I went to the theatre on opening weekend, I was mentally prepared to slog through the final installment not because I was actually excited to see it, but because I wanted to finish it and get it over with already. I felt pretty much like I did when I went to go see the last Star Wars prequel. Thank goodness the Hobbit finale is better than that, though prequel fatigue set in with a vengeance, and it was not helped by the news that Jackson had included a battle sequence that lasts 45 minutes. There is one point in the movie when something ludicrous happens, prompting a character to burst out with mingled disbelief and annoyance, "Come ON!" and the audience can't help but agree wholeheartedly.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Quote of the Day: Sony Hack Debacle and Its Discontents

Shot: A wee bit of appropriate profanity from George Clooney regarding The Interview:
"Stick it online. Do whatever you can to get this movie out. Not because everybody has to see the movie, but because I'm not going to be told we can't see the movie.  
That's the most important part. We cannot be told we can't see something by Kim Jong-un, of all f*cking people."
Of all f*cking people!

Chaser: Things took a turn for the ludicrous with Paramount canceling several sassy theaters' attempt to screen 2004's Team America: World Police instead:
"Terrorist threats are no laughing matter, of course, but the Department of Homeland Security has found no credible threat and evidence that the Guardians of Peace have any sort of manpower that could do anything within the boundaries of the United States (much less at thousands of locations simultaneously) is practically non-existent. This sort of panicked cowardice would be laughably absurd if it wasn’t so damn sad."
What I find even more disturbing still are all the self-righteous people who are blaming the victim and saying that it's the moviemakers' fault for making a flick that offended the wrong people.  I'm sorry, but THAT IS EXACTLY WRONG.  Tyrants are precisely the sort of people who should be mocked by free peoples.  Comedy as a genre should be a free space, while we're at it: everything is game.

By the way, I wasn't even interested in The Interview at first because I really don't care much for the oeuvre of Rogen and Franco, but now I bloody well want to see that flick.  Meanwhile, amuse yourselves with this:

Friday, December 19, 2014

Movie Review: "Exodus: Gods and Kings"

Schlock like an Egyptian.

It should tell you something that after I saw Exodus: Gods and Kings on opening weekend, I went home and watched 1998's DreamWorks animated The Prince of Egypt on Netflix ... and had a much better time.  I would have watched Cecil B. DeMille's monumental 1956 production of The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston as Moses and Yul Brynner as Ramses, but - alas - it wasn't streaming.  Then when I sat down to write a movie review, I seriously contemplated framing it all as a "I'm sorry, please take me back, I love you!" letter to Chuck Heston.

Come on, babe.  You know it's always been about you.

OK, OK, let's get to Exodus: Gods and Kings (and why in the world do we need that colon and its little subtitle?  Isn't Exodus enough?)   All cards on the table: I wanted to like this movie.  I wanted to like it a LOT.  There's no disappointment quite like dashed hope.  I almost entitled this review Exodus: All Washed Up.  In fact, it would probably take the entire Red Sea to wash all the guyliner off Bale and Edgerton ... though I suppose I must give some kind of grudging acknowledgment of an entire movie in which the men wear more makeup than the women.