Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Harry Potter, Ph.D. Candidate in Physics

Scientists are awesome! Scientists have invented mathematical equations! Equations that would (theoretically) allow certain (somewhat-theoretical) "metamaterials" to bend light around an object and return said light on its original trajectory as if it had never hit the object at all! Thus, invisibility!

Science is magic!

This article is magic!


According to the laws of physics, an invisible person would necessarily be blind. In order to see light, the eye must absorb it, but in order for a person to be invisible, the body must not absorb any light.
Science is good. But magic is better.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Some Updates, Some Barry Bonds, Some Aaron Sorkin, Some Drawings

Barry Bonds broke the record, but things haven't gotten any better for him.

And Matthew Perry will not be doing any crushing of Grey's Anatomy come fall. Studio 60 has been moved to Monday nights.

Lastly, I photoshopped a picture of a ninja fighting a dog robot in hell. Life is full of possibilities these days.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Codes and Codas and Tom Hanks So Needs a Haircut (Bad)

First, a disclaimer: I intend to see this movie. Of this, let there be no doubt. It is, in my mind, the second in a horrendously awful trilogy of films that must be seen this year (the first being King Kong, and the third, Snakes on a Plane -- I am easily entertained by Dino fights, atrocious theology and, well, snakes on planes).

That being said, A.O. Scott's review of The Da Vinci Code is a literary gem (though a week old, I know, I know; but life is so very hectic right now with all the vast amounts of nothingness that bombard me each and every day). I say that (the literary gem part), mostly because I'm a former English major (four full semesters!), but also because I love making fun of things like Tom Hanks' haircut and Ron Howard films and Dan Brown (in general). A short sample from the review should give you the idea:

To their credit the director and his screenwriter, Akiva Goldsman (who collaborated with Mr. Howard on "Cinderella Man" and "A Beautiful Mind"), have streamlined Mr. Brown's story and refrained from trying to capture his, um, prose style. "Almost inconceivably, the gun into which she was now staring was clutched in the pale hand of an enormous albino with long white hair." Such language, note the exquisite "almost" and the fastidious tucking of the "which" after the preposition, can live only on the page.

What I love, love, love the most is that I felt the same exact way, though I never got to the particular sentence Mr. Scott points out; I put the book down somewhere around page one -- when the Albino was flaying himself with something sharp or sinewy or otherwise ouchy instead of just saying his Hail Mary's and getting on with the act grace. But I bought the book for a penny (hardcover, no less), so no big loss. My parents have both read it, and are charging through the rebuttal book I purchased at the same time, which, again, I never really read. I had more pressing things (like Steve Engleheart's mid-70's run on the Avengers) to waste my time on.

Mr. Scott's review in its entirety can be viewed here. Registration might be required; I can never remember what parts of the NY Times' website call for it.

So go forth, my friends. Happy viewing!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Things I Am Thinking About: Jesus in Hollywood, Fall Out Boy, John McCain Getting Booed, Court Cases Involving Rap Lyrics

Three things of note, one thing of footnote, bits of sarcasm, poorly suppressed elitist baggage.

Fellow former communication majors take note: Two weeks ago Religion & Ethics Newsweekly ran a panel discussion on Christians and Hollywood from the Tribeca Film Festival. Everyone's favorite famous Hollywood Christian Ralph Winter was there. Also, Cuba Gooding, Jr. It's an interesting and rather frank talk about this new rush to produce films that cater to people of faith. They have the transcript online, but you should watch the entire clip just to get the full effect; especially to experience how lame Cuba's jokes are. Sorry Cuba.

Speaking of jokes, this one is not. (A joke, that is.) It seems there's a mom out there who really hates the crap-band Fall Out Boy. Not because they're crap though, but because the show she took her daughters to was like "some liberal homosexual rally." Pete Wentz, one of the crap-band members, retorted that the his show "is not a liberal homosexual rally, but at the same time, it will never be a Ku Klux Klan rally." Score one for the war of words! Or war of birds. Or, come to think of it, war of things I don't really care about.

If that weren't enough to make me hate both liberals and conservatives, John McCain went and got himself booed during his commencement address at the New School in New York City whilst trying to defend his country's presence in Iraq. During the speech, some of the students and faculty stood up and turned their backs on the man, lofting signs that read, "Our commencement is not your platform."

Apparently it was their platform, goddammit.

Upon further review, I have decided that all platforms should be destroyed as soon as possible. That way, neither Cuba Gooding, Jr., nor rude New Schoolers, nor silly misinformed mothers who fail to do a little research before they take their kids to a rock show can ever embarrass themselves or my fellow human beings ever again.

In other news, Ludacris and Kanye are being sued by this one rap group for using a hip-hop rhythm, a call-and-response chorus, and the lyrics "like that" in their song "Stand Up." This one rap group claims that they recorded a song with all three of those things a couple of years ago, and they want some just compensation.

Apparently this one rap group has never listened to the radio, watched MTV or lived outside of Connecticut. Apparently they invented the hip-hop single and everyone else has been reaping the benefits. Apparently they've never heard rap music in general.

But seriously, watch Cuba's video.

(EDIT: If you care to care, the Cuba video, while down for a time, is back up on the PBS website.)

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Multiple Choice God Quiz

Okay, maybe it's not really all that funny. It's just nice to know that there are people out there who can distinguish between the God of holy testament and the God of our president.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Subtitled: Matthew Perry Will Fucking Crush You


Getting Progressively More Shallow and Foulmouthed, Jonny Mines the Dregs of Network Television

Editor's Note: If you wish for your opinion of this blogger to remain highly regarded and unsullied, you might wish to skip this post. If however, you already know Jonny's a big, fat, drooling stupid-head with a a dirty mouth, you might as well proceed.

ABC announced today that it will be moving its wildly popular Grey's Anatomy to Thursdays at 9 o'clock this fall. Big flippin' deal, Jonny, you say. Well, probably not, because you don't actually read this blog. But if you did, it would be within the realm of statistical probability that you might say, big flippin' deal. (And here's the math to back it up.)

Also, here's the big flippin' deal. NBC just announced on Monday that it's new Aaron Sorkin/Thomas Schlamme produced show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, would be airing Thursdays at 9 as well. For those who aren't TV geeks, Sorkin and Schlamme are the bad brains behind both Sports Night and the West Wing, two of my all-time favorite bad brains shows. I'm literally salivating at the bit to hear some of that ol' Sorkin banter on network television once again (he's been MIA from the West Wing for three years now, ever since he got caught at the Burbank airport with coke in his bag).

So I'm just a little bit irked that Studio 60 will not only be facing the original CSI, but also gross, gross newcomer Grey's Anatomy. If Studio 60 turns out to be another Sports Night, hailed by critics yet panned by viewers, it won't last through the year. Nothing against CSI and Grey's Anatomy, but they suck. The only way I could handle watching another medical drama at this point is if Joss Whedon or J.J. Abrams were writing the thing, which seems pretty bloody unlikely. I had my lifetime hospital hijinx quota in those first four seasons of ER, thank you very much. And don't get me started about the CSI franchise, which really only has Emily Proctor going for it in the first place.

So I'll be the first to say it. Grey's Anatomy, Matthew Perry will fucking crush you. Bradley Whitford will knock you to the motherfucking ground. And the D.L. Hughley/Amanda Peet/Nathan Corddry collective will kick in the teeth while you're motherfuck-fucking down.

Anatomy of a Thursday that, bitch.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Barry Bonds, The Saddest Man In The World

No one cares about Barry Bonds. The Dodgers don't want to talk about it. The rest of baseball just boos the man. One short of the Babe's home run mark of 715, and it's only the fans in San Francisco who give a crap.

Bonds' feat of 714 is nothing to laugh at. It's one of those things that take both great skill and incredible stamina. You've got to be the best in the game for over a decade to even think about it. And once you get to the point where you're breaking records, you're already a few years past your prime.

So why don't we care?

Because the guy cheated. He took drugs to make him a better player. And everybody knows it.

One of these days, Bonds will finally hit 714. Then 715. These should be some of the best weeks of his career. This man should be on top of the world.

But we don't care.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Adrienne Rich, Some Star Watching, Not Writing For So Long And Embarrassing Myself

I've gotten away from posting about things I really, really like lately. I'm trying to be better at that. It's hard, though, to write about subjects so near and dear to my heart. More often than not, it just turns into bits of rhetorical nonsense and/or melodramatic sappiness (see below). So for now, I'm going to post a short poem by Adrienne Rich, because I like her, and if you like poetry, even just a little bit, you should, too.


Thinking of Caroline Herschel, 1750-1848, Astronomer, Sister of William; and Others

A woman in the shape of a monster
a monster in the shape of a woman
the skies are full of them

a woman 'in the snow
among the Clocks and instruments
or measuring the ground with poles'

in her 98 years to discover
8 comets

She whom the moon ruled
like us
levitating into the night sky
riding the polished lenses

Galaxies of women, there
doing penance for impetuousness
ribs chilled

in those spaces of the mind

An eye,
'virile, precise and absolutely certain'
from the mad webs of Uranusborg
encountering the NOVA
every impulse of light exploding
from the core
as life flies out of us

Tycho whispering at last
'Let me not seem to have lived in vain'

What we see, we see
and seeing is changing

the light that shrivels a mountain
and leaves a man alive

Heartbeat of the pulsar
heart sweating through my body

The radio impulse
pouring in from Taurus

I am bombarded yet I stand
I have been standing all my life in the
direct path of a battery of signals
the most accurately transmitted most
untranslatable language in the universe
I am a galactic cloud so deep so invo-
luted that a light wave could take 15
years to travel through me And has
taken I am an instrument in the shape
of a woman trying to translate pulsations
into images for the relief of the body
and the reconstruction of the mind.

(Adrienne Rich, 1971)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Superman and Icons and These Myths We Make

If you've been to the cinema recently, chances are you've caught one of the trailers for the new Superman flick. For most of you, it's probably just one more disposable, popcorn piece of fluff. But for a few, it's something more. Because, for us ΓΌbergeek funnybook lovers, Superman is part of an iconic language that communicates something about our world that we find so hard to define.

Sure, it's about superheroes. But there's something more powerful at work, too. It's about images. It's about icons. It's about myth.

It's these icons, secular symbols of an irreligious faith, that energize the mythologies Americans have created for themselves in the sequential arts.

You've got to remember one thing about this country. We have no ancient myths. The old Western mythologies -- Artemis, Apollo, Bacchus, Diana, Sigurd, Fria, Arthur -- they were never ours. We left them behind in Europe. We left them behind in the wake of the Enlightenment. We left them behind in our desire to create a new world all our own.

And the myths of this continent -- the myths of those who were here before us -- were crushed to dust under the new American ideals of progress, uniformity and industry. Stamped down and put out before we ever had the chance to explore them.

Our first national myths were pseudo-historical tales of very real men -- Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt. But these myths were both too true and yet not true enough. These figures were written in the granite of historical fact. No matter how we dressed them up, they were never mythic enough to express every truth we sought to articulate.

So we created them. Supermen. Superman. Symbols. Not real men. Those weren't working well enough. But symbols of truth. Symbols of justice. Symbols of the American way. Symbols of determination, grit, and above all, nobility of character.

This was the first symbol of the our new mythology. But it wouldn't be the last. Just as religions have used icons in liturgical worship for centuries, our new American myths needed symbols and icons of their own. The Bat. The Captain. The X.

America, especially 20th century America, had grown too fast -- moving from a loose collection of colonies to global superpower in less than 150 years. We bought the Mississippi, forged a way across the Rockies, built a railroad from ocean to ocean, became the breadbasket and factory of the world in such a short time, that we didn't have the time to develop the mythologies of the past world powers -- the British, the Hapsburg, the Ottomans, the Romans, the Greeks. We went from something to nothing virtually overnight.

And we've spent the last 75 years trying to backpedal our way to a true American mythology. A mythology not bound by the constraints of history and scientific fact -- but a mythology that expresses American ideals without compromising those ideals by attaching them to actual, historical figures.

One of my favorite storytellers liked to say that myths are nothing more than "lies breathed through silver." They are, on the one hand, completely untrue. But on other hand, they express truths about ourselves that are otherwise inexpressible. They are breathed through the silver of the collective religious/secular ideal. Every American stands for truth and justice. But no one American stands for them in their most complete sense.

Hence, Superman.

These symbols mean something. They mean something because we give them meaning, breathing the truth into them with our stories and parables. They certainly are kids' stuff. But that are not just kids' stuff.

They are, at their most basic, the stuff of legends. The stuff of myths. The stuff of dreams.

They are truth. And they are true because of what they reflect. They are true because in the telling, they gain meaning.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Pretty Bird

Am I the only one who thinks it's a little bit funny that public health officials are having the same exact problems with ABC's Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America as the Catholic Church is having with the upcoming release of The Da Vinci Code?

I am, aren't I? Geeksville for me, then!