Monday, February 29, 2016

Oscars 2016 aka What the Heck Did I Just Watch?

I didn't really watch the Oscars last night as much as I had it on while I was doing other things, but with increasing frequency I had to push the mute button on the remote control. The Oscars are always a big self-congratulatory party for Hollywood, and I've never taken it seriously as anything other than a fun fashion show where people get to show off plumage both beautiful and bizarre, but this year's Oscars were ... I don't even know what to say.

A few highlights and low points of this hot mess:

  • Host Chris Rock's intro monologue was a little ... er ... rocky (I wished he would stop laughing at his own jokes), but when he landed his punches, he landed them hard, and he targeted just about everybody.  On this year's Oscars race relations controversy he didn't spare anybody from Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith ("It's not fair that Will wasn't nominated for Concussion.  But it it also wasn't fair that he got $20 million for Wild Wild West" and "Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna's panties. I wasn't invited!") to the Hollywood elite's "sorority racism" ("We like you, Rhonda, but you're just not a Kappa," to which he added flat out the term "white liberals!"  Wow).
  • Louis CK was funnier and more real in his two minutes than the entire battalion of other Oscar presenters.
  • On a related note, C-3PO, R2-D2, and BB-8 were warmer and more spontaneous than nearly all their stilted, unfunny human counterparts.  Shoot, the Minions, Buzz Lightyear, and Woody were better. How about next year we dispense with the humans entirely?
  • Rock getting Girl Scouts to sell cookies to the audience was actually pretty funny.  
  • The evening's attempt to address issues (both internal and external) turned out to be an exercise in surreal, heavy-handed virtual-signalling and tonally weird calls for action.  What was freaking Joe Biden doing on the Oscar stage?  Why were actors giving Crazy Uncle Joe a standing ovation?  Was that really the president of the Academy out there trying to tell people the Oscars were going to fix themselves?  Did the Oscars actually do a musical number about sexual assault? WHAT?
  • DiCaprio finally won his Oscar, so maybe people can now quit yapping about his quest for that statuette.  Then he proceeded to turn his acceptance speech into a bully pulpit about global warming, and I pushed the mute button.  The most entertaining thing about The Revenant at the Oscars was the guy in the bear suit applauding in the seats.
  • Mad Max did very well in the technical categories!  Still, Ex Machina won the special effects Oscars. SERIOUSLY?
  • Whoever wrote the "jokes" and "banter" for the Oscar presenters should be booted. The stuff was not only unfunny or boring, but cringe-inducing for most of the show. Ugh!  How about we stop trying to script banter from here on out?  Watching Russell Crowe attempt to engage in unfunny repartee with Ryan Gosling was agonizing.  Just get out there, announce the nominees, anoint the winner, and go away!
  • The In Memoriam segment, surprisingly, wasn't terrible.  Iconic video clips from departed icons Christopher Lee, Alan Rickman, and David Bowie were very good, and the Oscars achieved its only moment of emotional resonance for me by ending the montage with Leonard Nimoy as Spock in Star Trek 2 with that line.
  • Sam Smith somehow won the musical Oscar with his miserable tune from Spectre. Horrible.
Enough of this mess. Let's get to what really matters: the outfits on the red carpet. The fashion was as much a hot mess as the rest of the show.  Oh, I miss Joan Rivers' acid-tongued commentary.  A few people managed not to look awful, but ...
  • Kate Winslet wore a shiny black trash bag.
  • Olivia Munn in her orange dress looked like a traffic cone.
  • Charlize Theron and Olivia Wilde clearly thought they were competing for the Oscar for Most Exposed Sternum.
  • Cate Blanchett kept her dress in the pantry too long, and it had started to sprout by the time the Oscars rolled around.
  • Rooney Mara dug out a dress from a previous century but failed to notice that moths had eaten a huge chunk out of the middle.
  • Refreshingly, Chris Rock pointed out that people always ask the girls what they're wearing because all the guys are wearing the same thing (black tuxedos): "If George Clooney wore a lime green suit with a swan coming out of his [butt]," Rock proclaimed, "you can bet we'd all be asking what he was wearing - !"

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Quote of the Day: Oscar Nominees

Enjoy this bit of brutal honesty as one anonymous Oscar voter takes on this year's various nominees.  Here's a taste of it:
"I am voting for Mad Max solely because I want to stop The Revenant."
I didn't even bother going to spend my hard-earned pennies on Leonardo "always the Oscar bridesmaid, never the bride" DiCaprio and The Revenant, but I did very much like Mad Max: Fury Road (and The Martian).

Speaking of brutal honesty ... 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Campus Culture: a lecture by Professor Gad Saad

I had not previously encountered evolutionary psychologist Gad Saad of Concordia University  (his faculty website is here), but I found this recent lecture of his to be fascinating indeed.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

I Promised Myself I Wouldn't Blog About Politics. I Lied.

I'm sorry.  But I ran across this piece by Camille Paglia about the New Hampshire primary, and I can't help quoting it:
"Despite emergency efforts by Gloria Steinem, the crafty dowager empress of feminism, to push a faltering Hillary over the finish line, Sanders overwhelmingly won women’s votes in every category except senior citizens. Last week, when she told TV host Bill Maher that young women supporting the Sanders campaign are just in it to meet boys, Steinem managed not only to insult the intelligence and idealism of the young but to vaporize every lesbian Sanders fan into a spectral non-person. 
Steinem’s polished humanitarian mask had slipped, revealing the mummified fascist within. I’m sure that my delight was shared by other dissident feminists everywhere. Never before has the general public, here or abroad, more clearly seen the arrogance and amoral manipulativeness of the power elite who hijacked and stunted second-wave feminism."
BOOM.  In fact, it's so simultaneously mordantly hilarious and accurate that I'm giving Paglia her own tag from here on out.  

So basically you're telling me that Steinem and then Madeleine Albright reverted to outright, cynical, sexist bullying in their attempt to eke out a desperate win for Hillary.  If you're a woman, you must vote for Hillary!  NOT A CHANCE, SISTER.  (And, yes, I am using "sister" in utter sarcasm.)  If I'm not going to let a man tell me how to think and vote and live, you can bet your bottom dollar I'm not going to let any woman do it either.  Thanks, by the way, for confirming every sneaking suspicion I've ever had that a lot of the hot air being bandied around under the banner of "feminism" is, at its core, about the snarling, grasping pursuit of raw, naked power.  How's that for "mean girls"?

Stephen Fry vs. Twitter

Twitter isn't fun anymore. In fact, it's become a gigantic cesspool.  Occasionally I find something amusing on it (or about it), but that stalwart of British comedy Stephen Fry hits the bull's-eye with this commentary.  Here's an piece of it:
" ... let us grieve at what twitter has become.  A stalking ground for the sanctimoniously self-righteous who love to second-guess, to leap to conclusions and be offended – worse, to be offended on behalf of others they do not even know.  It’s as nasty and unwholesome a characteristic as can be imagined.  It doesn’t matter whether they think they’re defending women, men, transgender people, Muslims, humanists … the ghastliness is absolutely the same."
By the way, Twitter is complicit in its own degradation.

Taylor Swift 1, Kanye West 0

You go, girl.  She stood her ground with conviction and class at the 2016 Grammys.

Lights Out For Compact Fluorescent Lamps

GOOD RIDDANCE to those dim, curly, toxic miseries that Greenies shoved down the throats of an unwilling populace.  I hate those things.  Anyway, bye bye bye!

I love incandescents, and, thanks to heroic geeks from MIT and Purdue, there is new hope for their renaissance.

Since we're on the topic, let's revisit one of my favorite Remy videos:

Monday, February 15, 2016

Couch Potato Chronicles: Cabin Fever Edition

In case you haven't heard, this past holiday weekend was pretty much a disaster for the East Coast, which got absolutely slammed with completely ridiculous temperatures.  Here's one example from the Big Apple.  In my corner of Nerdworld, just about everybody I knew (and I) stayed indoors the entire time.  It's not the same as being properly "snowed in," but the effect is the same.  On the bright side, you can't get frostbite from sitting on the couch and bingewatching TV shows.

Speaking of, here is the list that I marathoned via Netflix and Amazon Prime during WindChillpocalypse 2016:
  • Extant.  I'm always looking for new sci fi.  This one somehow managed to land Halle Berry, of all people, as an astronaut.  Season 1 was bumpy but interesting even if it wasted some good actors and really didn't fulfill its potential.  Season 2 was pretty much silly and overwrought, but I stuck with it mostly for Jeffrey Dean Morgan's dimples.
  • Stargate SG-1.  It was time to revisit an old favorite.  The show is a rarity: it's the only example I can think of right now of a movie spinoff TV show that is actually better than the source movie.  In all honesty, SG-1 was really only good as long as Richard Dean Anderson and Don S. "Hammond of Texas" Davis were on the cast, but it's still way better than its spinoff Atlantis.  I spent a lot of time wanting to slap Michael Shanks, but I'll also love Teal'c forever, the perfect deadpan straight man.  Indeed.
  • X-Files.  You know I've already been at this, but I kept going.  The truth is out there, even if the 90s special effects look really dated now.
  • Justified.  I finally got to the last season of US marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) taking on his nemesis, the almost unsettlingly articulate villain Boyd Crowder (Walter Goggins).  Givens has a great cowboy vibe, right down to the hat and drawling voice and all.  Besides, Nick Searcy as his often frustrated avuncular boss is a great supporting figure.
  • Vikings.  Way more entertaining than I thought it would be.  Season 1 has - get this - Gabriel Byrne as a Viking chieftain.   The Cine-Sib gives his seal of approval too, especially to shield maiden Lagertha because she's "a badass."

Passive Aggressive Text Messages: A Primer

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Couch Potato Chronicles: Enough Politics. Let's Talk About X-Files.

Yes, the new X-Files miniseries is here, and even though - let's be honest - it's been kind of disappointing (except for that hilarious episode with the lizard guy), the sheer reunion factor is enough to make me keep watching.  Come on, Scully and Mulder are back, and they're bringing a 1990s nostalgia bomb with them!

So, in the spirit of things, the Cine-Mad Sibling and I name some of our favorite X-Files episodes that we (and you) can watch streaming online at Netflix.  Here they are in no particular order ...  
  • "First Person Shooter." Yup, it's the one where Mulder gets stuck inside a video game.  The special effects haven't aged well at ALL, but the episode is a complete hoot.  Three words: "Jade Blue Afterglow."
  • "Arcadia." Mulder and Scully go undercover as a married couple in an unsettlingly perfect Stepfordesque neighborhood where residents keep disappearing.  You'll never look at a pink plastic lawn flamingo the same way again.  The Sib and I quote this often-hilarious ep endlessly. "Woman, make me a sandwich!"
  • "Drive." Bryan Cranston.  Nuff said.  Bonus: This was the episode that introduced then-X-Files writer Vince Gilligan to Cranston ... a meeting that would later turn into the incomparable Breaking Bad series.
  • "Jose Chung's From Outer Space." The men in black have never been so good.  That's Alex Trebek!
  • "Beyond the Sea." X-Files does Silence of the Lambs via Brad "Grima Wormtongue" Dourif.
  • "Bad Blood." It's like Rashomon. With vampires.
  • "The Unnatural." Baseball-playing aliens.  Because why not!  I love TV eps about baseball.  That one from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine ("Take Me Out to the Holodeck") is a lot of fun too, by the way. 
Finally, we'll point out "The Host," not because we like it per se, but because it totally creeped us out when we were kids.  I personally don't much care to ever see the Flukeman again. Like, EVER. 

We'll sign off with this, and get ready for some retro 90s tech hilarity:

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog vs. the 2016 Election

Once you get past Triumph's usual naughty schtick, you just might decide that the puppet's made the best political satire of this entire insane election cycle.  (Caveat: this isn't for kids, heh. Triumph never is or has been, after all!)

There's also an entire segment with Triumph taking on some college students over trigger warnings and whatnot, and I laughed out loud.