Monthly Archives: October 2009

Like Big Fish but bad.

I’ve discussed the topic of my local library here before.   But last weekend I discovered that I had never been in the Media room, which it turns out has a reasonably good movie collection which you can check out for free.   I always feel sort of dirty using public libraries as video stores and free internet … places… but I think it would be valuable to get over that.  In practicing to get over that I checked out 3 movies last week.   These were all movies I had kind of wanted to see a little but was reluctant to spend any money on seeing them:  The Baxter, He’s Just Not That Into You, and Across the Universe.  This  is what I think of Across the Universe

This is important because I need to warn you to never see this film. It’s awful.  Don’t listen to any of those glowing reviews.  It was so terrible that I felt an overwhelming compulsion to blog about it.

Let me be perfectly clear:  If there’s three things I love, it’s (a) musicals (b) sixties nostalgia and (c) overstatement of the importance of the Beatles in our culture.    I also really enjoy attractive people and colorful things.  Given all of these factors, it’s no wonder I was drawn to this movie.  Its also surprising that I was so intolerant of its pathetic clumsiness.   This is a movie that had three goals:  (1) Pack as many Beatles songs into a single movie as possible, cause the Beatles are awesome!!! and we love them and will buy tickets to see movies with that premise, (2) tell a compelling tale of romance with an interesting ensemble cast, and (3) tell the entire story of “the sixties.”  All of these are well worn territory.

First of all, aren’t we tired yet of the story of “the sixties?”   I’ll summarize:  “It was a tumultuous time of cultural upheaval and groovy clothes!!! and then it turned dark and violent sometimes.”    Answer:  Yes, we are tired of it.   And unless you can do something interesting with this theme, don’t do it.  It’s embarrassing.   (Dear that generation, we get it you guys were awesome thanks for your hard work, maybe you ought to get your narcissism checked out by a doctor, love Kaitlin)

Along the same lines, the film is so ambitious to fit in everything that it lacks the capacity for character development. From what I can tell, the ensemble cast is assembled solely for the purpose of needing to include certain archetypes: “Black Guy who is Kind of Like Jimi Hendrix,”  “Rock Star who I’m surprised Survived the Movie,” “Oppressed Midwestern Teen Asian Lesbian,” “Nice WASP-y Girl from Suburban Boston,” “Wildcard who goes to Vietnam,” “Dude Who Got His Part Because He Looks A Lot Like Paul McCartney,” and “Bono For Some Reason.”    At times their interactions imply a closeness that seems dubious, only because there’s very little warmth between the characters, or even intertwined plots between the main characters and those who were just added because they needed vehicles to show how there were rockstars and lesbians and black people and hippies in the 60s.   The romance is cute.  It’s cute.  Attractive people falling in  love–great.  Can’t complain about that (except that it’s sort of weird and terrible that they kill off that guy in vietnam so that the two protagonists are free to fall in love.)

And the Beatles songs.  Some of the songs are well incorporated into the plot, like “Hey Jude,”  “Strawberry Fields Forever,” and “Revoloution.”  There were some musical sequences that I’ll admit were well done, visually compelling, and I actually enjoyed them quite a lot despite contributing very little to the actual plot, including “Come Together” (which features a delightful hooker chorus, and unexplained trip moving south from Harlem,)  and “Happiness is a Warm Gun” (which unfairly forshadows mental illness and possibly a heroin addiction for the Wildcard who goes to Nam).    There are 33 SONGS IN THIS MOVIE.  33.   At the beginning, which in a intro to literature class would be called the  “exposition,” the film had a normal plot-to-music ratio.  Needing to fit in the 33 songs, towards the end the film becomes an endless barrage of song after song, connected by weak plot tissue.  “Another song?” you will say, if you watch it that long.  and you will get up and play with your cat, or iron some pants.  Which is admittedly convenient.  The music is also shitty.  I forgot to mention that.  It’s oversung.  The female voice is terrible.  The dude who looks like paul mccartney it turns out cannot sing like him.  Hey Jude is a challenging song, and the guy who sings that is probably the worst.  Luckily we now have Auto-tune, making it possible for anyone to sing beautifully.  Sometimes during the more challenging songs, though, (like the title song and Hey Jude)  it sounds like you’re listening to a T-Pain song.  Or a robot.

Conclusion: This film makes me wish that you had to pay for Auto-tune by the second.  That way, there would have been less money in the budget for people-turn-into-water-cloud-sky-scenes and the many many endings.  And Bono for some reason.

Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney

Dude Who Looks Like Paul McCartney/Star of Across the Universe

Dude Who Looks Like Paul McCartney/Star of Across the Universe

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

An Inquiry into the Analogy Existing Between Brute and Human Physiognomy

Given the utter failure of my offer of advice, I’m not sure why I’ve decided to offer up this new service on my blog.  But I am.  I’m proud to tell you that I have studied the science of physiognomy, and am prepared to analyze any face of any man you may bring to me.  For the features of a man’s face are indeed windows into his very essence.

“The attention which the French have, of late, paid to Physiognomy, may be ascribed not only to the infatuating nature, and intrinsic excellence of that science, but, also, to adventitious circumstances.  France, or, more properly, its metropolis, has, within a few years, become, as it were, an immense stage on which all varieties of human aspect and action have been exhibited.  Their painters, at present, employ the pencil, not on pieces of ancient history or mythological fiction,  but in designating the various national physiognomies, costumes, and conformation (?) of body, which Paris now presents assembled from all of Europe, and from some parts of Asia.  The Physiognomist has there an ample scope for the study and enlargement of the Science:  The Briton melancholy amidst success–the Frenchman happy amidst adversity–the phlegmatic German, the choleric Russian, the proud Spaniard, the vain Pole,  the grave and jealous Turk ; these parading her streets and gardens, or thronging her Caffees, must present a group, whose motley and various character mocks both narrative and description.”

The science of physiognomy offers us a method by which we can reach a much greater understanding of society as a whole, as well as those we meet on the street.  Who can we trust?  Who should our daughters marry?  Who should be sterilized before they reproduce?  All of these are pertinent questions, and I am prepared to answer them for you.

To demonstrate this powerful science, a friend has kindly (and unintentionally) submitted two (2) photographs for analysis.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Donkeyball

For almost the entire time I’ve been at my job in Elkins, There’s been extensive construction on the main thoroughfare outside my office window.  There’s usually a line of cars standing still, and usually I like to reflect on how glad I am that I am not that person in the car, stuck for 15 minutes trying to go less than a mile.    Actually I usually don’t think about it very much at all.

Today, however, I glanced out my window and saw a livestock truck.   That’s also not unusual, but I looked at it a few times before seeing that the magnetic sign on the front door said

“BUCKEYE DONKEY BALL”

Besides being hilarious in itself, the phrase Buckeye Donkey Ball is mysterious.  What is going on?  Is it like a dance?

It turns out, Buckeye Donkey Ball is the oldest donkeyball company in the nation. Donkeyball is a game where people ride the backs of donkeys to play basketball or baseball.   Usually a group will hire a donkeyball company to come in and do it as a fundraiser.

Naturally many animal rights groups are upset by this.  And I understand.  By definition, these animals are being exploited.  But I wouldn’t worry about them being abused.  I watched all the videos on YouTube, and the fact is, it looks pretty boring.  All these donkeys hanging out, letting people mount and dismount with ease.  It’s so boring that nearly every YouTube video of donkeyball had to have some kind of lame introduction.  Actually I haven’t done much investigation into the abuse claims at all.  I just like that someone had this idea, and that it still, even in 2009, even in the Obama Administration, it is still used as a fundraiser.  Yes.  Yes.

Whoops!

Whoops!

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The House of the Future (1855)

Over the past few years, I’ve been very curious about two mundane materials:  linoleum and rayon.   Both fascinate me because while they seem like products of the post-wwII plastics manufacturing revolution which made materials like polyester and vinyl commonplace, both actually originated in the mid 19th century.  They are also both materials which, if they were invented now, would probably be marketed as “green.”  In fact, just a few weeks ago I was at a green building conference where one speaker passed around some samples of a somewhat pricy green flooring option called Marmoleum, which as far as I can tell is the same as linoleum but German.

Rayon:

Rayon comes from wood.  Rayon also goes into some of my most beloved sweaters.  It was the first synthetic fiber, and today in the context of ubiquitous polyester, it’s sometimes referred to as “semi-synthetic,” due to it’s more-naturally-fibrous-than-petroleum cellulose origins.

It was first developed as an artificial silk.  The cellulose fiber was first created in 1855, but a practical manufacturing method wasn’t developed until about 30 years later.   Rayon is used in a lot of different contexts and made to resemble a huge range of other fibers, like cotton and wool.   It sometimes goes under the alias viscose.  Tampons are made out of rayon.  I can’t say for sure, but I would bet that those textiles made out of bamboo are made through the rayon process.

This is an Aluminized Rayon Apron, which we will all be issued in the event of a full ozone layer collapse

This is an Aluminized Rayon Apron, which we will all be issued in the event of a full ozone layer collapse

Rayon stockings

Rayon stockings

Linoleum:

Linoleum comes from linseed oil.  It was also invented in 1855.  The story of linoleum is that the guy that invented it left a can of paint open, and became interested in the film that formed at the top of the paint.  He invented it as a cheaper alternative to the popular rubber-and-cork flooring Kamptulicon.  Kamtulicon is sort of interesting in itself, because it enjoyed a very short-lived heyday, cut short by the end of the rubber boom making its manufacture impractically expensive.   Linoleum from linseed oil fell out of fashion in the 1960s, replaced mostly by vinyl flooring that people still referred to as “linoleum.”  So if you’re going to go buy some linoleum, make sure it isn’t actually just vinyl.  Because pvc will kill you, and linoleum will be easy to clean.

The ingredients of linoleum.  Looks delicious.

The ingredients of linoleum. Looks delicious.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

In roarin’ rochester

I’d like to learn how to do the partner Charleston.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Advice

I think I would make an excellent advice columnist.  So if you have something you need advice on, let me know.

Marriage?  Yes

Decorating? Yes

Nutrition? Yes

Crop Rotations? Yes

Crop Circles? No

Gene Therapy? No

Let me know.

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Bee-asco*

Last week around Monday I noticed four bee carcasses next to the window in my bathroom.  It isn’t unusual to find dead insects in my apartment because a. it is very poorly sealed in places and b. I have a cat that enjoys killing most things. Anyway, since it was Forest Festival week, I just assumed that they’d come into town, drank too much, and died from an overdose of funnel cake (bees love funnel cake, and if you think about it, of course they would) and choking on their own vomit (honey).

But then there were more.  Six, and eight of them.  And then there were two crawling in my kitchen! and another dead one nearby.   I swept all of them up on Saturday, held a full catholic funeral, and this morning I counted seven more carcasses that have built up since then.

"bee mine!"

"bee mine!"

This is disturbing for a number of reasons.  One, I am running out of space for their burials.  Two, I never know when I’m going to step on one that hasn’t quite died yet, thus fulfilling it’s desire to sting me before it dies, a problem that is keeping me out of my bathroom and thus keeping me from engaging in proper hygiene.  Three, THERE ARE BEES CRAWLING OUT OF MY WALLS AND DYING.  And that is grotesque and alarming.

There are two explanations that I can see.  Either there is a hive in the walls that is dying from how cold it has become or this is a sign of the end times.  Frankly, I don’t see why it can’t be both.

The worst part is I actually like bees a lot.  They’re one of my favorite insects.  I don’t like their little fuzzy dead bodies around me, reminding me of my mortality all the time.  One of them actually died next to my “Honey for Health!” hat, which has a picture of a very healthy little bee on it.

*It took me a long time to come up with a suitable pun.  I’ve been thinking about it for days.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized