Jon K, who himself has a lovely blog (Random Acts of Geekery), was kind enough to bestow upon me the One Lovely Blog Award. I'm always grateful and surprised to get a blog award; thanks so much, Jon!
And now to send this on to some other lovely bloggers. There doesn't seem to be a set number, but I'm going to limit myself here to, let's say, 7.
Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness
No Smoking in the Skullcave
When Is Evil Cool?
Culture Kills... wait, I mean cutlery
Thanks again, Jon!
Saturday, February 06, 2010
Jon K, who himself has a lovely blog (Random Acts of Geekery), was kind enough to bestow upon me the One Lovely Blog Award. I'm always grateful and surprised to get a blog award; thanks so much, Jon!
Over on My New Plaid Pants, where JA has finished his Golden Trouser Awards, I mentioned that Bride Wars was the worst movie I saw from 2009. JA's reply: "Bride Wars! Agh! I know you saw it because of Annie, Aaron, and she owes you at least a back-rub. And a foot-rub. Oh I should just keep going, she should rub it all for making you watch that monstrosity!"
I think that would more than make up for it.
Ready whenever you are, my darling.
My youngest sister Audrie is going to be 15 this year. Like most teenagers, she can't really imagine the world was ever different than the way it is now. Just for kicks, I decided to look this up and found an image of the first PC we ever had.
I wish I could remember the exact year my Dad brought this baby home. This was honestly around 1982 or 1983. We already had our first VCR (a gigantic JVC that could've survived a nuclear war--no kidding, that thing survived a move and worked for about 18 years; SamuraiFrog trivia: the first VHS tape we bought was Raiders of the Lost Ark). It wasn't like it is now, where everyone has a computer, sometimes multiple computers, in their home. We were one of the first families in my neighborhood to have a PC, and one of the main reasons we had this is because my Dad worked at Wang Laboratories.
Here's the specs on this baby: it took floppy disks, if you remember those. It had a more powerful microprocessor than the IBM that was taking the world by storm. It ran on a whopping 64k of memory. Everything ran from a menu, and the monitor could only show that green type. 16 function keys. 16-bit data bus; twice the size of IBM's, but therefore completely incompatible with IBM software, which is the reason it didn't really go anywhere. As kids, my sister and I mainly used it for word processing and for playing text-based adventure games. (And now that I think about it, I wonder if those text games helped my sister and I learn to read better; really, any reading at a young age helps your reading comprehension, but my sister and I are very good readers and we both learned to read at very early ages. I never thought about the contributions of games like King's Quest to that.)
Internet? Ha! I'd never even heard of that. One of the only other families with a computer had something where you could put the telephone receiver in a sleeve and talk to other computers, and their dot matrix printer would spit out reams of that green-and-white-lined paper, but that was way too technical for me.
This is why we spent a lot of time in arcades as kids; they were flashier and more fun than sitting at home on a computer.
Gosh, remember when you had to go to an arcade to play video games? Sure, we had the Atari 2600 in early 80s, too, but arcades were just so much better.
It's a changing world of technology, Audrie. And when you're in your thirties, you're going to be telling kids about things that will make you feel prehistoric, too.
Friday, February 05, 2010
I've been running into this phrase (or variations of it) a lot in the last few days, and I have to say, it's probably the single most annoying and nakedly cloying phrase of the last decade. I despise this phrase. And not because I'm a "hater" (another non-word I find extremely irritating), but because it's one of the most ridiculous, needy, ego-massaging phrases I've ever seen, and boy does it expose some of the shit that's wrong with people these days.
I came to grips with the fact that a lot of what I like is not stuff that's extremely popular with other people. I love it when I hit with someone who has a similar interest in cartoons or illustration art or the Muppets or the Disney Channel or comic books, but it's not something I'm desperately searching for in my life. I got teased far too often when I was a kid just for liking stuff to really expect that being as open as I am about my likes and dislikes isn't going to open me up to the ridicule of others for having an opinion. Especially online.
I am not the kind of person who talks about my love for Batman: The Brave and the Bold or The Phantom Menace or old McDonaldland ads or Disney cartoons or the Jonas Brothers and can't handle disagreement. If someone says "Not my thing" or "No way, I hate that crap" or even "Jar Jar Binks fucking sucks," I just say to myself, meh, not their thing. That's cool. I don't think "Haters gonna hate" and its implied follow-up, "I'm awesome and they suck," because, you know, I don't need everyone to agree with me.
(As much as it probably seems different to you guys, I'm sure. What I do hate hearing is "What?! You like those LEGO games for PS2! You're a fucking dumbshit!" Personal attacks over matters of taste is just immature, and I will respond in kind.)
The thing that bothers me so much about this phrase, "Haters gonna hate," is that it reveals this weird implication that someone who doesn't have the same taste as you somehow has something wrong with them. Or, even more bizarrely, like there are people just sitting out there who are going to hate whatever you like just to wind you up because, you know, the entire world is The Truman Show and they're trying to create drama for ratings. Like the things you love are so wonderful that only someone hellbent on taking swipes at you on purpose could ever not like them. The idea that your love of something actively pisses off other people is so ego-driven that it seems like a psychological problem to me.
There's also the typical 21st century neediness that it reveals; this idea that your self-esteem is tied into the things you enjoy is something that should die off in high school. I understand that a lot of who we are is influenced by the things we love, but to get so angry about someone not sharing your love of Lady Gaga is just really sad. What does that do to you? Does it make your love of Lady Gaga any less? No? Then just accept that sometimes the thing you love is stupid to someone else and don't worry about it. Let it go. Stop designating those people "haters" and lesser people and beneath you just because they like different music.
Just get a life already.
I found this on Reddit and I'm just going to reproduce the whole thing here, because I really think people should read this:
This morning I was awoken by my alarm clock powered by electricity generated by the Public Power Monopoly regulated by the US Department of Energy. I then took a shower in the clean water provided by the Municipal Water Utility. After that, I turned on the TV to one of the FCC regulated channels to see what the National Weather Service of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration determined the weather was going to be like using satellites designed, built, and launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. I watched this while eating my breakfast of US Department of Agriculture inspected food and taking the drugs which have been determined as safe by the Food and Drug Administration.
At the appropriate time as regulated by the US congress and kept accurate by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the US Naval Observatory, I get into my National Highway Traffic Safety Administration approved automobile and set out to work on the roads built by the local, state, and federal Departments of Transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the Environmental Protection Agency, using legal tender issued by the Federal Reserve Bank. On the way out the door I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the US Postal Service and drop the kids off at the public school.
After spending another day not being maimed or killed at work thanks to the workplace regulations imposed by the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, enjoying another two meals which again do not kill me because of the USDA, I drive my NHTSA car back home on the DOT roads, to my house which has not burned down in my absence because of the state and local building codes and fire marshal’s inspection, and which has not been plundered of all its valuables thanks to the local Police Department.
I then log on to the internet which was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration and post on freerepublic.com and Fox News forums about how SOCIALISM in medicine is BAD because the government can’t do anything right.
Thursday, February 04, 2010
In posting this piece of art by Casey Weldon, Reis predicts this picture will spread all over the interwebs like Manga-herpes at a cosplay convention. I'm sure he's right. Because here I am spreading it. Because it's awesome.
Stuff is building up here, so I thought I'd just combine these into one post.
:: So, Kevin Smith finally extricates himself from the Weinsteins, and now his new movie is being advertised on TV (yeah, it's being dumped in February) with no mention of his name? Wow. Shows you how much of the popularity of Kevin Smith was a publicity construct, I guess.
:: I saw a number of people online (including Ken Levine) calling for a boycott of the new Mel Gibson movie in order to teach him that public behavior matters. I don't think it does, though. I mean, it does, but I don't think it matters in relation to choosing what entertainment to partake in. Mel Gibson is an asshole who drinks too much and says really, really stupid things (the stupidest of which, I think, was his refusal to repudiate his father's Holocaust denial), but it's not like we found out he runs a slavery ring or something. I separate the art from the artist, the entertainer from the entertainment, the writer from the writing, etc. If I were supposed to boycott every actor, painter, writer, or what have you who did or said something stupid, asinine, or even disagreeable, I'd never see anything again. Yes, Mel Gibson is an asshole, but that has nothing to do with how stupid his movie looks.
:: I just want someone to have seen something and come forward in this Drew Peterson case. The guy lives one town over from my mom, so I've been following this case since his fourth wife disappeared years ago. Years ago. He contends that she ran away with another man. If that's the truth, where is she? She certainly knows this is going on, so why doesn't she come forward to reassure her kids that she's still alive? I know that's not what he's on trial for, but it still eats at me. I'm sick of him and his lawyer laughing in the face of the law at every turn. I really want to never have to see those two ever again.
:: Radical right christianists pose a problem for rational people: If we call them what they are—hate-filled bigots—they spin that as an attack on all religion. If we document their extreme hatred of GLBT people, they spin that as an attack on voters they’ve hoodwinked into supporting them at the ballot box. Put another way, they can get away with lying about, slandering and defaming GLBT people with giddy abandon and there are no consequences, but the moment rational people push back and correctly point out these people are motivated only by pure hatred, then somehow we’re making them “victims”.
This must stop. (If there's one meme I'm sick of, it's this idea of the poor, persecuted, white Christian. Please.)
:: Despite being in shambles the Haitian government put the kibosh on the 'missionaries.' And the Haitian authorities have gone so far as to say that these Baptists are child traffickers and kidnappers. (Dr. Monkey says everything I wanted to say when I first heard this story.)
:: The Family Research Council is now out arguing that homosexuality should be criminalized. So don't tell me that they don't hate gay people and simply want to protect "the traditional definition of marriage." They hate gay people and want to make them criminals; frankly, I think they hate freedom and secularism and won't stop until we're living under the Christian version of Sharia law.
:: And lest you think I hate Christians, don't worry: I hate all religion equally. Take a look at this perfectly good reason to hate Islam: A 16-year-old girl who was raped in Bangladesh has been given 101 lashes for conceiving during the assault. It goes on from there.
:: If we're really going to have to go through a round of Congressional committee on Don't Ask Don't Tell, can the President at least sign an executive order stopping the military from dismissing personnel just because of their sexuality?
Read this: When I’ve seen people speaking out against repealing DADT- or advocating for a return flat-out to a total ban on gay soldiers- they are almost always men, and they very frequently cite some variant on a common theme. Apparently, it would be just horrible if they had to think about other men being attracted to them, and worry about being ogled, and maybe even worry about being raped, because there’s always the one creepy guy that’s willing to cross that line, and we just can’t do that to our soldiers. (Lesbians, as usual, are never mentioned, either because what the wimmens do is boring, or because that’s kind of hot and therefore okay.)
To these men, I have the following reply: welcome to what every single human female on the fucking planet deals with from puberty onward. You don’t like the idea that some man you’re not attracted to might be fantasizing about having sex with you, might be eyeing your fun bits, that there’s even a remote but existing chance he might rape you? Harden. The fuck. Up. Fifty percent of the population has to cope with this every day as a fact of life, and we’re called paranoid deranged feminazi man-haters if we even bring it up outside a feminist consciousness-raising session.
:: Also, the Rude Pundit: Here's a secret, John McCain, Tony Perkins, and others: Gay guys don't want to rape you. In fact, you're not even remotely attractive to most gay dudes. They do want to serve our country, and, as everyone in the military will tell you, they already do. And if ostensibly straight American males like you are uncomfortable, that's actually your damage.
:: Rahm Emanuel is under fire for saying liberals are "fucking retarded." Among the people demanding an apology for his use of the word "retarded" is Sarah Palin. Rush Limbaugh actually defended Emanuel, but in his own unique, idiotic way: by saying it was okay because liberals are retards. Will Palin also demand an apology from Rush? Don't hold your breath.
By the way, who cares what Rahm Emanuel says? He's a cowardly thug masquerading as a tough guy. Those kinds of blowhards should just be ignored.
:: The story that really interested me about Sarah Palin is the news that she has her PAC buying up thousands of copies of her book to give them away as gifts to her donors. At $28.99 a pop, that's quite a boost to her book sales. So, is her publisher paying her royalties on books her PAC is buying? Because if so, isn't she just, you know, laundering her PAC money into her own pockets?
:: Paul Krugman calls Fox News "deliberate misinformation" to Roger Ailes' face. Ailes responds that people aren't stupid. Wow, really? That's where you go? What an ass.
:: I caught Obama's debate with the House Republicans, and I'll tell you why I wasn't impressed: because the White House is trumpeting this as though it shows Obama in command of the national discussion, when it actually shows how ridiculous Washington's view of America's problems are. It's no surprise that the House Republicans actually believe their fantastical talking points and will refuse any evidence that contradicts their invented reality; what should be surprising--but really isn't--is that the President actually feels he needs to address such silliness. I'm just not impressed by a reasonable man handily brushing off storybook notions from a group of people who actually think this ineffectual moderate is some kind of extreme radical. The fact that it's even being referred to as a debate is insulting. It's just another distraction.
Of course, it's not like we have real political debate anymore, so I'm not surprised people don't recognize one. There's also the annoying predictability of an element on the Left who have made the "debate" part of the myth of Obama the Superhero. It was just theater.
What it does well is serve as proof that our problems are not going to be solved by these people, because these people have no credible notion of reality. But it's not a discussion, and it doesn't show Obama as being capable of leadership. It just shows he's capable of refuting nonsense. So are a lot of people. He shouldn't be wasting his time on this. Dismissal of this kind of idiocy is supposed to be the job of the media, not the President. He should be talking to people seriously about real economic solutions instead of entertaining the concerns of people who think "free market" is the solution to every problem.
Solutions, Mr. President, not talk.
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
Spoilers, I wish I didn't have to tell you.
:: I'm torn between wanting more Sun this season (she seemed underused in season 5) and hoping that pushing her out of the way means she won't get killed, since Lost seems hellbent on murdering all of the women on the show who are better than Kate. Speaking of, I so don't want to see this stupid romance between Kate and Sawyer rekindled. Stop insisting they're meant to be together, Lost! Sawyer is the best character on the show, and Kate is horrible.
:: I'm sure I'll be proven wrong next week, but right now I'm not convinced Sayid has been resurrected. I think that's Jacob.
:: I love the alternate timeline stuff. Can't wait to see how it relates to the main storyline. It reminds me of when the flashbacks were good, in the first season.
:: I think the scene at the airport between Jack and Locke was one of the best those two have ever had together.
:: Terry O'Quinn's obvious enthusiasm at playing the villain is infectious.
:: I really, really want Juliet back. But I still want Ana-Lucia back.
:: So, what happened to Rose and Bernard when the bomb went off? They were the only two characters who seemed to have their lives figured out.
:: I notice the cab driver Kate hijacked was the same actor who played Doyle the Puppet Man on Heroes. On Heroes, he menaced Claire; on Lost, he was driving Claire. Dude's got a thing for Claire's, I guess. For a second, I was thinking of an alternate Lost/Heroes crossover. Hey, it's science fiction, anything can happen in a fanboy's mind.
:: Of all of the mysteries surrounding Lost, the one I most want answered is what Aaron's terrible destiny was supposed to be. Are we going to touch on that ever again?
:: This episode was fantastic. Just like watching season 5 on DVD, it brought back all of the excitement and fascination of the first season of Lost. This episode was so good that it actually made me angry that the show spent most of season 2 and all of seasons 3 and 4 dicking the audience around...
:: Can't wait to see it all on DVD again one day and see if that changes my opinion. Sometimes things that don't seem to make sense come across much better once you see where they were heading. It's the frustrating, awesome nature of serialized television.
Richard did me a solid and shot me a link to this article. Apparently The Lancet has retracted the infamous 1998 paper that linked the MMR vaccine to autism. Not only that, but the main author of the paper, Andrew Wakefield, may lose his medical license due to some serious ethics breaches.
This paper led to a resurgence of measles in the UK as the number of unvaccinated children tripled; the measles hit here in 2008 due to a similar dropoff in childhood vaccinations.
Read the article. It should be surprising what some people will do for money, but it never really is.
Richard asks sardonically in his email "What will poor Jenny McCarthy do now that she knows that the medical paper she based her entire crusade on was a lie? lol." LOL indeed; the obvious answer is that Jenny McCarthy won't do anything. She'll continue her inane crusade to keep children from being healthy because her own son is autistic and now everyone else's son should suffer as a result. She'll continue fostering the resurgence of curable--yet crippling and even fatal--diseases because she's given more than adequate media attention to scare people into denying their own children adequate medical care because she thinks (and other people seem convinced) that being a mother is tantamount to actual medical experience.
Look, I have no doubt that Jenny McCarthy loves her son very much. But it's disgusting to me that she and the charlatans of the antivax movement have found so many scared, suspicious people in this country and driven a wedge of distrust between parents and pediatricians.
Why anyone would take the advice of Jenny McCarthy and her ilk, or corporate shills like Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Oz, over the advice of their own doctors is beyond me. But people do, every day. And public health pays the price.
A review of the films I've seen this past week.
LOLA MONTES (1955)
I found myself mesmerized by this masterful film, a series of vignettes about the courtesan Lola Montes, now a circus attraction who has been used up by her famous lovers and tells her stories for a quarter. I see this film discussed an awful lot; there are a lot of debates over whether this film, Max Ophuls' final work, is actually the masterpiece some claim, or whether the cold performance of Martine Carol in the title role holds the viewer at a distance. That was actually something I liked about the movie; Carol is hard to read and not very sensual or passionate. I think that it's a deliberate decision, however. We see Lola Montes as a victim of a male-dominated society, and by reducing her to a cold object, we're left with how a courtesan is used by society and then dumped aside when she's no longer young enough. I thought it was excellent. Also, Peter Ustinov and Anton Walbrook elevate everything. **** stars.
DEEP END (1971)
An odd, fascinating movie about a working class boy in Britain who takes a job at a public bath and becomes obsessed with a co-worker (Jane Asher at her loveliest). Strangely compelling. ***1/2 stars.
MA AND PA KETTLE (1949)
I'm glad TCM showed this; I wasn't sure about it, but was pleasantly surprised. Ma and Pa Kettle win an ultramodern, electric-operated home in a slogan contest. It's a nice premise; this sort of ultimate backwoods family butting up against the near future. (It's kind of a science fiction movie in its way, isn't it?) What I liked about the movie is that the gags come out of the characters and the simple way they look at (and deal with) the world around them; none of the humor comes at the expense of the characters--and in the one scene where it actually does, it's supposed to be cruel and excessive. This was a fun flick; I hope to see more of these. *** stars.
ROAD TO SINGAPORE (1940)
The first of the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby-Dorothy Lamour series. In this one, Bob and Bing run off to a small island when Bing is nearly forced to be responsible and get married. They both fall for Lamour (of course), a showgirl being kept by Anthony Quinn. There's also some business with Jerry Colonna, who I always think is funny. These are just funny, fun, silly, awesome movies. They're as light as a cloud, but the comedy and interplay between the three stars is effortless, the music is nice, and I just don't want them to end. ***1/2 stars.
ROAD TO ZANZIBAR (1941)
This time around, Bob and Bing are circus performers trying to make a buck through Africa. When Bing buys the deed to a lost diamond mine, they wind up on a trek through the jungle with crooks and a swindler (Lamour) whom they both fall for. Some great gags in this one (some great bits with the subtitles of the inevitable cannibal tribe), plus Bob Hope's poorly matched stunt double fights a guy in a gorilla suit. ***1/2 stars.
ROAD TO MOROCCO (1942)
This is easily my favorite of the Road to pictures. By the time we get to third picture, everything is breezy and second nature without being tired or formulaic. What really keeps things fresh is the amount of what we now call meta gags; I love the winks at the audience and the way the characters know they're actors in a movie series. This one also has my favorite song in the series, "Road to Morocco," which is the song Family Guy keeps poorly ripping off. In this one, Bob and Bing shipwreck, wind up in the desert, fall in love with an Arabian princess (Lamour, who is just luminous and funny in these movies), and fight a warlord (Anthony Quinn) who wants the princess for himself. If you only see one of these... well, you should see at least the first four, but if you see only one, this is my personal recommendation, for what it's worth. **** stars.
NOTE: TCM showed these movies last week; the next movie, Road to Utopia, I've already seen and discussed here. For reasons unknown, they then skipped Road to Rio, which I have not seen, and went right into the sixth movie, Road to Bali. They also didn't show The Road to Hong Kong, despite having originally scheduled it there, but they made up for it by showing the hilarious My Favorite Brunette, one of Hope's funniest pictures.
ROAD TO BALI (1952)
Despite edging towards 50 years old, Hope and Crosby are as sharp as ever in this sixth Road to movie. Dorothy Lamour plays another princess (and she keeps pulling it off) while the boys play a couple of charlatans posing as deep sea divers (Hope fights an awesome fake giant squid). Not quite as hilarious as the earlier pictures, but still all of the fun you long for from these movies. *** stars.
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
The Oscar nominations were announced today. My favorite of the nominees for Best Short Film (Animation) was this one, so I thought I'd share it here. (It's also up on my Daily Animation blog, if anyone follows that one.
This is Logorama, a very inventive film that takes place in a world populated entirely by logos and ad mascots. It starts off as a clever story set in that world, but you can see the commentary, which starts off subtle--a world where corporate logos have been empowered to the point were all identity is subsumed by logos--and then makes it bold point as we see a world literally crushed under the weight of rampant corporatism.
Also, NSFW language. But you should watch it if you have 15 minutes to spare. It's brilliant.
I saw the most ridiculous story today that PETA wants Punxsutawney Phil replaced by an animatronic groundhog because it's unfair to keep an animal in captivity and blah blah blah. Stories like this make me roll my eyes. Yes, I'm an animal-lover, and I'm against animal cruelty, but I just think people who have anything to do with PETA are people who really want to help animals but just have no idea how to go about it and get pulled in by ads with a bunch of naked chicks.
Look, far be it from me to suggest that the only thing PETA is any good at is getting publicity for themselves with ads that are more about jacking off to Sasha Grey than about disseminating information to anyone about animal cruelty. And I would never deign to speculate that the reason PETA has it in for Punxsutawney's rodent tradition because it's so high profile. I would even hate to imply that PETA has never really done anything good for any animal, and that they don't ever seem very interested in animals that you can't save from the comfort of a fundraiser or Times Square or the safety of a Manhattan apartment building.
But really, is there any point here other than to keep the name PETA in the news?
Seriously, if you want to get involved with helping animals, there are so many better things you can do than give any of your money and time to PETA. Spend your money and time on actually helping animals instead of participating in publicity stunts for a woman who has not spent her life alerting anyone to animal abuse, but alerting the world to how much more wonderful and enlightened and better than you she thinks she is for caring about animals because she doesn't know how to relate to humans.
Seriously, Ingrid Newkirk cares about animals as long as they don't benefit her... like the lab pigs that her insulin shots come from.
The next time someone starts spouting off about how wrong it is to wear fur, ask them what their shoes, belts, jackets, and bags are made from.
Volunteer at an animal shelter. Don't give to PETA.
Monday, February 01, 2010
Here's the narration copy from a new Hallmark ad for Valentine's Day:
“This morning, Caleb asked me: ‘Mommy, who’s your Valentine?’ I said, ‘Daddy, of course.’ He said, ‘No, no, no—Daddy doesn’t count. You know: your Valentine is who you want to sit by; who you get in trouble with; who you tell your secrets to; who you play with at recess.’ I said, ‘Well… that’s Daddy, too.’”
Okay, this conversation never happened. The kid on the commercial looks like he's in first grade at the latest. So your kid is 6 years old. He's not wise in the ways of love and saying something sage on the nature of relationships. Stop telling me that he did. I've taught first grade. Your kid probably ran around in a circle, made farting noises with his mouth, and then awkwardly fell on the floor.
Seriously, only in today's Mitch Albom-infected world are there people who think this kind of sentiment porn is adorable. I think it's sick. I see it all the time in movies--the kid who is wise beyond his/her years and says something so important, something that just makes your life make sense, something that makes your damn decisions for you. I'm always offended by it, frankly.
This kind of gut-churning sentiment porn is the reason why I fucking hate Valentine's Day.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
I loved the Darkness. And I need to rock this sunny day. So here you go. It's not for everyone, probably, but it is so for me.