Sunday, November 25, 2007

Weekend You-Tubery: Technicolor Edition (With Bonus Sports Commentary!)

Feist - 1234

The New Pornographers - Challengers

Blonde Redhead - My Impure Hair

. . . Meanwhile, in news brought to you by the colors green and white (how's that for a transition?) let's all congratulate the Eagles on their heroically non-embarrassing 3-point loss tonight. I can't help but be reminded of that episode of Arrested Development where the company celebrated that its stock had been upgraded from "Sell" to "Don't Buy." I guess you take your victories where you can get them, even if they're not actually victories.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

How's This For Optimism?

Wikipedia has a fairly lengthy article on human extinction. It's mostly speculative right now, but I would expect it to become even more thorough once humanity actually goes extinct.

Blogs You Should Be Reading Instead of This One

Carrie Brownstein has a blog at NPR. Like most things involving Carrie Brownstein, it is worth checking out.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Why I Don't Run a Magazine

Can it really be that we are close enough to the end of the year that "Best of 2007" lists are already starting to trickle out? Amazon has released their list of the top books of the year, the American Society of Magazine Editors has listed their best magazine covers, and GQ released the list of their Men of the Year (which is like Time Magazine's similarly-titled honor, but only attractive people are eligible).

The magazine will print three covers, each spotlighting one of the honorees. Looking over the list, I'm really baffled why the editors wouldn't go with cover photos of Brad Bird, Daft Punk, and Josh Marshall. Apparently, they think that Bill Clinton, Daniel Craig, and Kanye West are more likely to sell magazines. Bah. I'd take an animator, blogger, or French robot DJ duo over a president, movie star, or rapper with a Messiah complex any day.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

This Just In: The Onion is Funny

From the "True, It's Funny Becuase It's" file, this Onion article on the special "Regular Monopoly" edition Monopoly reminded me of this post on the ridiculous number of movie and TV show tie-ins that dominate the board game industry. Does Milton Bradley or Parker Brothers even employ people to think up ideas for new games anymore, or do they just slap a picture of Elmo on the box and call it a day? Could a game like Risk even be introduced today unless it were a tie-in to 300 or something? On the other hand, I'm kind of disappointed that the Grey's Anatomy game in the picture is a straight-ahead trivia game and not a special version of Operation where you have to remove Meredith's feelings for McDreamy from her heart, or the homophobic slurs from Isaiah Washington's mouth (I've only seen one episode of the show, in case you're wondering, and just exhausted my knowledge of it).

Also great this week in The Onion, this cartoon is totally going on my desk if I ever get my act together and break into the library game. I guess I'm assuming that most librarians have desks, though. I should probably do some more research into that.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Weekend You-Tubery: Out Into the World Edition

The Beatles - She's Leaving Home

Stars - Take Me to the Riot

Blur - Coffee & TV

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What I'm Not Watching Tonight

This week's Saturday Night Live has one of the stronger hosts and musical guests in recent memory: Michael Cera and Yo La Tengo. The only catch is that it's not actually going to be on TV, what with the writer's strike and all, but instead is being put on as a stage show. Damn lazy writers, always wanting to be paid for their work. Don't they realize that my entertainment is more important than their livelihoods?

Incidentally, I'll probably never be a high-powered media mogul, but if I ever am, I should remember that it's probably a bad idea to pick fights with people who are skilled at creating funny, incisive videos that make their opponents look like blatant hypocrites.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Guilty As Charged

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Book Snob

You like to think you're one of the literati, but actually you're just a snob who can read. You read mostly for the social credit you can get out of it.

Literate Good Citizen

Dedicated Reader

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm

Fad Reader


What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Geek Interests, Now Two For the Price of One

Man, why didn't I get to do anything this cool when I was in marching band?

Of course, it's only in the uber-dorky world of marching bands that a six-minute ode to video games could seem relatively hip.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Norman Mailer, I'm Pregnant!

The obituaries of Norman Mailer seem to touch on most of the highlights of his life; two Pulitzers, New Journalism, founding the Village Voice, stabbing his wife, massive ego, six marriages, The Naked and the Dead, etc. That's all well and good, but they overlook perhaps the strangest item on his resume: an appearance on a 2004 episode of Gilmore Girls. Observe:

Here's Your Fortune: "You Talents Will Be Recognized and Suitably Rewarded" / "You Are Original and Creative"

I opened the first cookie after my meal, which contained the upper of the two fortunes. I immediately began searching for the ever-present loopholes, and finally concluded that while it does promise a reward for my talents, it doesn't say how much my talents are worth. After eating another cookie, though, I realized that I am talented! Or, at least, original and creative. My big payday awaits!

Weekend You-Tubery: Veteran's Day Edition

Bob Dylan - John Brown

The Pogues - And the Band Played Waltzing Mathilda

Bruce Springsteen - Born in the USA

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Reviewing Unseen Movies

From the moment I saw the first preview for Lions for Lambs, the new Robert Redford joint, I thought it looked pretty bad. Now that it's been released, the nation's critics seem pretty much in agreement with me. But bad movies can at least make for entertaining reviews:
"[A] hopelessly stilted political drama that plays like U.S. News & World Report: The Movie. Redford's latest middlebrow muddle is so hopelessly talky, mannered, stagy, overwritten, and didactic that it's hard to believe Aaron Sorkin isn't somehow involved." - Nathan Rabin

Lions for Lambs appears to have been created by someone who's never seen one of these newfangled contraptions called "movies," or for that matter, witnessed that phenomenon known as "speech." . . . The net effect for the viewer is that of being trapped in an airless room, then escaping it to find yourself in another, and yet another." - Dana Stevens

"There is a long stretch toward the beginning of the film when we're interested, under the delusion that it's going somewhere." - Roger Ebert
And speaking of ill-conceived Tom Cruise movies, the trailer for his upcoming film Valkyrie is now online. For all I know, this will turn out to be a fine film; Bryan Singer is certainly no slouch when it comes to making entertaining movies, and heaven knows that Hollywood needs more lead characters who wear eyepatches. No, my reservations have to do with the accents. The sad truth is that to American audiences, all accents sort of sound alike, and British accents are a useful stand-in for how we think the rest of the world talks. This is the phenomenon that leads to situations like the The Hunt for Red October, where the crew of the Russian submarine is played by actors from almost every European country except for Russia, or the cockney-sounding Latin of Rome. Cast an American, though, and the result is often laughable, like Marlon Brando in Julius Caesar, Tony Curtis in Spartacus, or most of the actors in Amadeus. So while Cruise's castmates Bill Nighy, Terence Stamp, Tom Wilkinson, Kenneth Branagh, or Eddie Izzard may not sound especially German, Cruise will be lucky if people can listen to him and think anything but, "That Nazi sounds just like the kid from Risky Business."

Of course, there are bound to be some good movies coming up. Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood looks interesting, judging from the trailer. While it may sound like one of those movies where someone gets tortured for two hours, it's actually a period piece about oil drilling. It's a bit of a departure for the director; among other things, it's his first movie not to have Philip Seymour Hoffman in it. Anderson has yet to make a bad film, though, and Daniel Day-Lewis does so few movies these days that anything he appears in is noteworthy. Plus, the music is by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead, who succeeds previous Anderson collaborators Michael Penn and Jon Brion; the guy seems to like giving work to musicians without much experience composing for films, and so far it's consistently paid off.

Finally, looking waaaaaay ahead, the AV Club marked their literary week by putting up a great list of books that should be adapted into movies. Several of their picks are projects that have long been stuck in development hell (A Confederacy of Dunces, The Hobbit), while others are more contemporary book club favorites (The Road, Middlesex). The list itself, though, is just the pretext for the predictably numerous user comments. The shameful truth is that I don't really read enough to add to the list, although I did start reading Good Omens recently and thought that it would make a great movie, and the ten-year-old in me would love to see a good adaptation of The Westing Game. If nothing else, this feature will serve to further bloat my already epic to-read list.

Philly City Limits

Man, does this blog get results or what? I've previously bitched that there isn't a big Coachella-type shindig within 10 miles of where I live, but that may be about to change:

A multi-stage, multi-day music festival has been proposed for next summer in Fairmount Park, according to city officials.

C3 Presents, based in Austin, Texas, and producers of Austin City Limits and the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago, has been recommended by the Fairmount Park Conservancy to mount the festival, which would take place over three days on Belmont Plateau.

Who wants to bet that they come up with a really dumb name for this thing? I mean, dumber than the one I came up with for the title of this post.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

My Calendar Has a Well-Known Liberal Bias, and Other Political Musings

Nerds have word-a-day calenders. Insufferably pedantic grammar freaks have daily calendars of commonly misspelled and misused words and phrases. I'm sure you'll be surprised to learn that I fall into the latter group. Every morning this year, I have woken up and enjoyed a moment of snickering over people who think the word "sherbet" has two R's. Today's entry, though, was surprisingly forceful (click to enlarge):

Damn! "Childish game" . . . "only succeed in making themselves sound ignorant" . . . that'll show Bush! Except I kind of doubt that he has this particular calendar on his desk.


They say that if you don't vote, then you have no right to complain about your elected officials. Well, I have therefore guaranteed my right to bitch and moan for the next twelve months. The voter turnout at my polling place was an astronomical 42%, so I'm one of an elite group who turned out to make know my views on county councilmen, the school board, and about a dozen questions on the retention of judges.

I remember when I received my first absentee ballot my freshman year of college, I spent a good deal of time researching the various candidates, right down to the Greens and Libertarians; I was that concerned with making the most informed choice I could. Of course, that was the historic 2000 presidential election, so I guess my excitement was understandable. Had I turned 18 the summer before a municipal and judicial election, I wonder if I would have even bothered to request a ballot.

This year, early returns are indicating that the incumbents won and the challengers lost. Ain't democracy grand?

Link O' the Day

If you're looking for a way to discard several hours of your life, a good place to do it would be Wikipedia's directory of strange articles. They seem to fall into two categories, the first of which make you think "I can't believe someone decided the world needed a Wikipedia entry devoted to 'more cowbell' /Nixon masks /the phrase 'talk to the hand.'" On the other hand, a lot of them are genuinely interesting: there's dancing mania, "No soap, radio", the thagomizer (a.k.a. the spikes on a stegosaurus's tail, named after a Far Side cartoon), the Phantom time hypothesis (which claims that the years between 614 and 911 AD never occurred) and exploding head syndrome (which, the article takes pains to point out, "is not an example of spontaneous human combustion, nor does it involve the head actually exploding.")

This sort of repository is a godsend for lazy bloggers (like this, uh, friend of mine). I, for one, was fascinated by the article on the Arbre du Ténéré, which was the world's most isolated tree until it was hit by a truck in 1973. Think about that; this is a tree in the middle of the Sahara desert, the only tree for 400 kilometers, and someone managed to hit it with a car! That is some colossally bad luck.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Weekend You-Tubery: Homage Edition

Smashing Pumpkins - Tonight, Tonight

TV on the Radio - Wolf Like Me

Beastie Boys - Sabotage

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Things I Learned From Al Taubenberger's New Ad

Hey, did you know that there is a mayoral election in Philadelphia this week? It's true! Of course, the election has about as much suspense as a Globetrotters vs. Generals matchup, so neither side is wasting much money on advertising. I've seen one commercial for Democrat Michael Nutter (his plea: "Help me run up the score to send a message to Bush and Cheney, I guess.") and was shocked to see Republican opponent Al Taubenberger buying airtime as well. Since the ad in question is the most information I've ever gotten about Mr. Taubenberger, let's analyze why he is the superior candidate:

  1. He's got cool retro movie-serial music and narration!
  2. He's from the Northeast!
  3. He's a super-nice guy!
  4. White people love him!
  5. Did they already say he's from the Northeast?
  6. The girl wearing (literal) beer-googles can relate to him!
  7. Jesus, it's like an unending parade of white people.
  8. He's the underdog! (Actually, I think the socialist worker candidate is probably the real underdog in this race)
  9. It looks like Al himself is white! Uh...not that that should influence your vote or anything.
  10. He's "America's Favorite Underdog!" Which doesn't sound right, really. I doubt he's even Philadelphia's favorite underdog, even if you exclude fictional boxers and real-life sports teams.
  11. Plus, there's the whole Northeast thing. Yeah, this guy's toast.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Another Bullet-Point Filled Post

Shit, that's right...I've got a blog that customarily needs to be updated from time to time.
  • There was a brief time when, after Dennis Kucinich's UFO question at this week's Democratic debate, I was worried that extraterrestrials would become the dominant theme of this campaign, especially after Chris Matthews kept fixating on it during the post-debate show. Thankfully, this doesn't appear to be the case. I guess that's about par for the course when you have a debate in Philly: lame Rocky references and one of the most inane questions ever asked of a presidential candidate.
  • Whenever I see a new Domino's commercial on TV, I have the same reaction as when I see competitive eating contests or people flagellating themselves as part of religious rituals: How could anyone do that to their own body? After successfully (?) combining pizza with dessert, the chain's latest project is the Crispy Melt Pizza. To be honest, the concept seems a little pedestrian; I'm surprised that they resisted the temptation to put even more cheese on top of the thing. Maybe they'll gradually add layers until they wind up with something like a pizza baklava.
  • I sometimes wish it were possible to temporarily erase a specific part of my memory, so that I could watch Psycho without knowing all of the twists, or re-read all of the Calvin and Hobbes or Far Side cartoons and have the jokes all be new to me. Sometimes, though, my own fallible memory lets me experience something like that, like a couple of days ago when I re-listened to Thunder, Lightning, Strike by the Go! Team. It seems that every year or so, I forget what an awesome, fun album that is and get blown away by it all over again. If you've never been fortunate enough to hear it, I urge you to get a copy and listen to it for the first time on my behalf.
  • Finally, this is a very special weekend: Jerry Seinfeld's Bee Movie opens in theaters! I don't plan to see it, of course; I'm just excited that perhaps now I'll be able to watch television without being confronted by Mr. Seinfeld's voice making sure that everyone on the planet, including coma patients and Nepalese monks, are sick of hearing about the damn thing.