Saturday, April 29, 2006

Saturday A.M. Blog Fodder

Saturday morning items...

  • Radosh comments on the new Battlestar Galactica prequel in development. In other news, here's statistical analysis on the question of who the babe is on BSG. But, why limit the results to just one? Also, here's Sexy Robot Monthly magazine.
  • I'm about 60 pages into Everything Bad Is Good for You and I like it quite a bit. Here's the blog of the author, Steven Johnson. I'm gonna add him to the blogroll next update. For those who have gotten the erroneous impression that he is somehow anti-book just because he is not a video game / TV basher, here's a post about how he organized his library in his new home office (a topic of much interest to me). Dave Munger is working on his new home office as well.
  • Later this summer, I'm looking forward to reading the new book by the blogrolled Chris Anderson, The Long Tail.
  • I'm starting to watch the 1954 John Wayne airplane film The High and the Mighty, which had not been released on home video at all until its DVD release last year. Introduction and commentary by Leonard Maltin; Reactions to follow Initial reaction: The times have certainly changed from when all the men (and little boys) were expected to wear ties and jackets to board a plane, but a little boy would be allowed to wear a toy six-shooter on a holster as he boarded without a second thought. In this instance, the child in question is being seen off by his divorced father in Honolulu, sending him back to his mother in San Francisco, and the fact that he is a child of divorced parents is treated as a melodramatic novelty. However, in the the-more-things-change... department, the divorced dad is burdening his eight-year-old with a list of grown-up relationship things to tell his mother ("Tell your mother that I wish she'd come with you next time... There shouldn't be an ocean between us..." etc.). That kid probably ended up taking some of that bad acid at Woodstock 15 years later.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Best. Snarky. Headline. EVAR.

Here's the Calcutta Telegraph on the situation surrounding Kaavya Viswanathan, the Indian-American Harvard student who had her big first novel pulled amidst charges of plagiarism.

Would I ever have read this? Doubt it. But I love a good pun, so I wished that I had thought of this Publishers Weekly headline first:

Kaavyat Emptor?

I love that. Maybe I should just steal it and take credit for it anyway. (Note: I have had daydreams about what would need to happen for an incarnation of the SALT Treaty to become prominent again, and furthermore for Sen. Trent Lott's wife to be an avid supporter. Why? "Lott's Wife: Pillar of Salt.")

Meanwhile, SSMW wishes someone would plagiarize her.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Things to Mention, Then Time for Bed

  • A couple of weeks ago, I took a plastic gallon jug full of pennies and a big tupperware thing half-full of pennies to the grocery store and put them all in one of those machines, and 20 minutes later I had an Amazon gift certificate for over 73 bucks! Sweet! So what to do with it? I sent away for the six-volume DVD set of the works of Charles and Ray Eames, of course.
  • Here's an interesting project from musician Richard Thompson -- 1000 Years of Popular Music. Excerpt: The set list varies from night to night, but has been known to start in the 13th century and move to medieval Italian ballads to selections from the songbooks of Gilbert & Sullivan, Stephen Foster, Ray Charles, Hank Williams, The Beatles, The Who, Squeeze, Prince, and even Britney Spears...
  • I've linked to portions of this in passing before (I think) but here's the University of Vermont's Semiotics and Advertising Site, which includes their image-heavy essay on the male gaze in fashion advertising. I like this quote: A sign is anything that can be used to tell a lie. -- Umberto Eco.
  • Sleepy... must... go... to... bed...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Even Though They Don't Have the Quote Exactly Right...

Speaking of which (from previous post)...

The What Pulp Fiction Character Are You? quiz. Not exactly entirely accurate, but I do like coffee a lot and I am crabby in the morning.

What Pulp Fiction Character Are You?

You're cautious, a bit paranoid. You left the scene for the suburban married life, but somehow, touble seems to follow you and piss on your mornings. You are quick to share your point of view, but have no problems with giving in to the requests of wives and wolves.

Take the What Pulp Fiction Character Are You? quiz.

Yesterday Was 4-19, So...

I'm not saying I'd run out and consume some, but, let me take advantage of this particular day to say that I think it's silly that marijuana has not been decriminalized (yet). William F. Buckley thinks it's silly too, and so does Milton Friedman.

Also, I need to point out that the clocks in Pulp Fiction are not all set to 4:20, no matter what any list of "Did-you-know?"s says. That may be true for some of the clocks in the pawn shop, but not, for instance, for the clock in the kitchen when they are drinking coffee.

"You don't want to fuck my shit up? You're fucking my shit up right now!"

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

SotB4/06; Wailin' - Get It?; South Park in Amsterdam; More P!nk;

Several things on this temperate Wednesday evening:
  • State of the Blogosphere, April 2006 is up. Excerpt: ...on average, a new weblog is created every second of every day - and 19.4 million bloggers (55%) are still posting 3 months after their blogs are created. That's an increase both absolute and relative terms over just 3 months ago, when only 50.5% or 13.7 million blogs were active. In other words, even though there's a reasonable amount of tire-kicking going on, blogging continues to grow as a habitual activity. In addition to that, about 3.9 million bloggers update their blogs at least weekly.
  • Clever name for country(ish) trio: The Wailin' Jennys. (Say it out loud a couple of times.)
  • Are you a libertarian? Gonna be in Amsterdam this August? Why not join South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker for Reason Magazine's summer conference? (How much trouble could those two get into in Amsterdam, anyway...) Note to self: Keep an eye out for Anne Frank jokes (and fingers-in-dykes jokes) during the fall season of South Park.

  • TBSATIOAAE has a follow-up to last week's post about P!nk. Excerpt: I was readers pointed out! Tom Asacker observed that my examples of smart women were a generation or two too old. Patricia said, "There aren't many young celebrity women equated with high intelligence that could be mentioned as effective role models." Anastasia Goodstein at YPulse made the good point that the high profile of the video may be taken as proof of its veracity.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Axis of E-File; Need Pun Connecting Apple, Apple, and President; Easter Specials; Blinded With Social Science;

Several things to note:
  • Word Munger wants to know why he ought to pay extra for making the IRS's work easier. Excerpt: But every year, I’m faced with the same dilemma: The IRS’s bizarre position on e-filing taxes. I can see why the IRS would want me to e-file: it saves them big bucks in data entry. But why should I want to e-file? After all, it costs $15 — much more than the cost of paper, ink, and postage for printing and sending via mail. So why should I pay to do them a favor?
  • Is George W. Bush listening to illegally I-Podded Beatles music?
  • Here is an annotated list of Easter specials from The Shelf. Excerpt: All of the gang are worried about getting things ready for Easter, but Linus reminds them that they don't need to worry- the Easter Beagle will take care of that. You would think that [after] the whole Great Pumpkin fiasco that Linus would've ostracized by the rest of the crew. But no- they tolerate him and his "quirks" as a lovable group of friends should. Were they not worried that Linus would wig out on them some day and invent some elaborate scenerio in which he invites them all to a deserted mansion at the top of a spooky hill for a reunion, in which he secretly plans to cut off all communication, block all exits and roads and then kill them off one by one for laughing at him and his "quirks" while they were kids? Did they? I don't think so- but then, this was the 70s, peace, love and whatever makes you happy man.
  • Freakonomics makes an erroneous statement about musician Thomas Dolby; Dolby responds on his new blog. (Note: I used to work with a guy that whenever someone would say the word "Huge," he would say "Huuuuuuuuge!" After he got tired of that, every time someone said the word "science," he would say "Science!")

Back Hurts, but Faith in Simple Machines Confirmed

OK, so my back (arms, legs, neck, etc.) is/are mega-sore. The previous owner of my house thought it was a good idea to bury a bunch of large slate slabs right next to the garage, a couple of inches underneath the soil. We did not realize this until Friday afternoon, after I started to pull up one tiny little piece of rock that was sticking up. The ♥G♥ wants to plant some flowers and stuff along the side of the garage; The end result was use of several of the classic simple machines (lever, wedge, inclined plane) to move six of the big bastards elsewhere. Fortunately, I'm a David Macaulay fan.

Then yesterday, I went to help my friends move to their new house 20 minutes up the highway. There were several other move-helpers as well. This entailed many of the same principles of simple machines, as well as the same brute exertions. The lever/wedge principles also worked well in my first (and successful!) attempt at breaking into a locked car. (Don't ask.)

Let me just mention this: If you are enlisted to help someone move, and there are multiple hundred-pound-plus pieces of furniture getting shoved around, it is really not a very good idea to bring along your infants and toddlers. As a friend of mine who was not present for the moving asked, "Why bring a nun to a poker game?"

Monday, April 10, 2006

A Few Little Things to Talk About...

Nice weather here in the Midwest. Only a few weeks until watermelon season starts to kick into high gear!
  • Here's a guy from Scotland who is doing a survey of bloggers as part of his college research project.
  • This is a very interesting Language Log post about hyperlinking practices in the New York Times and elsewhere. Excerpt: It's pretty clear what's going on. There's an index of Times Topics, which "correspond to the most frequently assigned subject, geographic, organization and personal name headings". Stories are indexed (automatically?) relative to that (finite and fairly small) list of topics. Thus Berger's story on suburban home prices is linked to Harvard, even though the only connection is a quote in the 14th paragraph from someone who works there; and to Martha Stewart, even though she is only mentioned in the 25th paragraph as an example of one of the wealthy residents of the town of Bedford.
  • Now, I think Camille Paglia is one tough cookie. Or so I thought... So WTF is the deal with this situation regarding her and Ann Althouse?? Excerpt: ...A couple days later, I received a phone call inviting me to the pre-speech dinner with Paglia. I accepted the invitation. But what's this? Suddenly, I'm uninvited! Camille Paglia has actually read "Try to survive a tornado with a post-structuralist," and -- I'm told -- she's angry and hurt by what I said about her. The very material that was used to promote the book has become a reason to demand that my invitation to the dinner be withdrawn. Okaaaaayyyy.... For 15 years, I've thought of Camille Paglia as an unusually tough and feisty woman. Wasn't she the one who sneered at women who acted like fragile victims?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Rebecca's Pocket; Maddox's Book; Redrawn World Maps

  • Here's one cool blog, ~C4Chaos, with a good interview with the creator of another cool (and groundbreaking) blog, Rebecca's pocket. I think I'll add both to the sidebar next time I update. Here's a question and its answer that sums it up for me: Q: What satisfaction do you get out of blogging? A: I love sharing information. My aim is to point readers to interesting things they would probably otherwise have missed. "Things you didn't know you wanted to see." That's what my favorite blogs do for me.
  • Best wishes ("Best," get it?) to Maddox on the pending publication of his book, The Alphabet of Manliness. It is due to be released June 6 of this year, which is a) the mega-manly D-Day, and b) 6-6-6.
  • Here are a bunch of world maps resized according to a variety of criteria -- population, emigration, tourism, etc.

Home Library Organization; Harryhausen; Kurosawa; Tom Delay Movie

Saturday morning with a blue sky, moderate temperatures and pleasant outside ambience after a bunch of cold, damp April blah, with chores waiting outside... what better way to take advantage of it than by sitting in front of the puter for a couple hours?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Self-Referential South Park; Timeline; Internet Saint

  • South Park was so awesome tonight! I can't wait for next week. They didn't skimp at all on the whole M*h*mm*d cartoon / Bloody Mary / Scientology connections. Props to the South Park crew on their first George Foster Peabody Award. (In good company with Battlestar Galactica and The Staircase.) (Update: WTF is this guy talking about??)
  • Here's a timeline based on the idea that every event ever shown in every movie occured in conjunction with each other. For instance, 1936: Indiana Jones races against the Nazis to find the Ark of the Covenant (Raiders of the Lost Ark). Spain - Rick fights with the Loyalist Spaniards (Casablanca). Greenville, Florida - Ray Robinson (later Charles) starts to lose his sight from glaucoma after seeing his brother drown in the washtub (Ray, 2004). German troops reoccupy the Rhineland (Angela's Ashes). Alvy Singer born (Annie Hall).
  • I had never realized before that there is a patron saint of the Internet. Excerpt: I had heard that St. Isidore of Seville (ca. 560–636) was the unofficial patron saint of the internet but until today (his feast day) I had no idea of his literary accomplishments. Here is a bit from Butler's Lives of the Saints -- He was a compiler of popular knowledge rather than an original thinker, claiming that his works contained all that the clergy of future generations needed to know. He left a storehouse of knowledge that was extensively quarried for a thousand years.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

A Few Things for Sunday Night.

  • This is a good series of primers from GreenCine for people who want to get started on a variety of genres of movies. Genres: Adult/Sex in the Movies, Anime, B-Movies, Black Cinema, Bollywood, British Comedy, Czech and Slovak Cinema, Documentary, Dogme 95, Experimental/Avant-Garde, Exploitation, Film Noir, French New Wave, German Expressionism, Godzilla, Hammer Horror, Hong Kong Action, Hong Kong Horror Comedies, Iranian New Wave, Italian Horror, Italian Neo-Realism, Japan: to 1960, Latino, Modern Romantic Comedies, Musicals, New Asian Horror, Polish Cinema, Queer Cinema, Road Movies, Rock on Film, Russia: 1896 - 1953, Samurai, Science Fiction, Screwball Comedy, Silent Comedies, Slashers, Sports, TV Box Sets, Vampires, Weepies, Westerns, Women in Film, Wuxia, Zombies.
  • I had totally forgotten about the Battlestar Galactica episode that guest-starred Fred Astaire, but watching it now, the memory came flooding back of my mom being amused at his Top Hatless appearance. Here's some more about his BG guest-shot: He continued TV work with a 1979 appearance in Battlestar Galactica, a highly successful space opera which he did to please his grandchildren. Later asked what his favourite role was, the man who had appeared in so many movies with countless stars answered that his appearance in Battlestar Galactica was his favourite role because his little grandson had been so impressed with it... ...When I telephoned Fred on the eve of his eightieth birthday, May 10, 1979... He had recently played a role in "Battlestar Galactica," a space television series. It was a curious booking for Fred Astaire, but he explained, "I did it for my grandchildren." (Fred, Jr., has three children, Peter has three, and Ava has two stepsons.) He found it a tough show because of special effects that caused three days of overtime, and because of the space language, which he didn't understand. Mr. Astaire wasn't the only classic Hollywood type to appear on BG. Lew Ayres, Ray Bolger, Lloyd Bridges... Only about 8 or 9 more episodes to go, and I'll have (re-)watched the entire original series. But what about the neglected red-haired stepchild Galactica 1980? When is that coming out as a DVD set?
  • SSMW talks about her trip to meet two newly published Chicago authors who got their start(s) in the blogosphere.
  • Going through my stacks today, I found a Tribune article from a couple of months ago about an interesting writer named Lawrence Weschler, with whom I had not previously been familiar. Actually, one article and one not-entirely-glowing Julia Keller book review --- Keller excerpt: He [Weschler]'s a live wire, a human hypertext, and he ransacks everything in his head at any given moment to create marvelous, unforgettable literature. Also, here's a Washington Post interview, a piece from The Transom Review, something from The Design Observer, and a God Particle article. (Not too often you get to rhyme "particle" and "article" like that.) I'm going to have to check this guy out.
  • Here's a good post from TBSATIOAAE about P!nk and her Stupid Girls video. Excerpt: This is going to be an interesting cultural artifact in 100 years. But why wait? Here are 5 of the assumptions in evidence. 1) that these women have dumbed themselves down. 2) that "one image" is being "forced down people’s throats." 3) that smart women and girls need "representation." 4) that representation is the artist’s job. 5) that the way to represent smart women is to mock dumb women. Interesting post (apart from spelling Jodie Foster's name wrong) but I have to wonder if the following hypothesis is really demonstrable: For every Paris Hilton, there is a Madeline Albright. For every Jessica Simpson, there is a Condoleezza Rice. For every Olsen twin, there is is an Oprah Winfrey. If I read him correctly, he's not talking about the general female population in that quote, but rather about women known in our culture. However, he has exhausted the selection of female secretaries of state, but hardly even tapped into a fraction of the supply of trashy blonde Entertainment-Tonight bimbos. (Not to mention that by definition, there are two Olsen Twins and there is one Oprah.) When they put Christina Hoff Sommers and Martha Nussbaum in their own reality show, then I'll gladly reconsider.

Has It Been a Week Already?

My, how time flies...
  • I've been watching the original Battlestar Galactica series from the late 70s on DVD. I had forgotten a ton of this stuff, but lots of it has flooded back to me. I never exactly got the whole thing of how Baltar ended up in charge of a Cylon Base Star; I still don't exactly, but it makes at least a certain amount of sense now. They certainly did borrow reimagine a lot of stuff for the new series... Preview clips at the beginning of each show, Cain and the Pegasus, The Rising Star, etc.
  • Continuing on our Werner Herzog kick, we watched Grizzly Man the other day, the posthumous documentary about eco-nutcase/bear dinner Timothy Treadwell. Let's just say the guy had issues. He kind of brought to mind what would happen if Andy Dick fell down the stairs at the L.L. Bean store and woke up thinking bears were his only friends.
  • Here's Pullquote, a good cinema blog from (I think) a film professor. I'll add this to the sidebar shortly. (Thanks to TT.)
  • And, here's a good word -- Satisficing. Excerpt: In economics, satisficing is a behaviour which attempts to achieve at least some minimum level of a particular variable, but which does not strive to achieve its maximum possible value.
  • More links and things I've been doing and thinking about later tonight.