Friday, November 19, 2010

Worrying About Wikipedia

As you may have noticed it's that time of year again.  Jimmy Wales is asking us to donate to Wikipedia.  Hmmm . . .

I'm not sure if Wikipedia is in dire need of money or not, because the photos that accompany the appeal seem to range in desperation.  

Least Desperate Looking Photo of Jimmy Wales

Most Desperate Looking Photo of Jimmy Wales

I'm thankful for Wikipedia (as I've mentioned) but I mostly read it for entertainment purposes.  I would never use it as a source for a research paper or scholarly article.  Would anyone (who isn't an 8th grader)?

I began to wonder how Wikipedia operates with "no ads, agenda, or strings attached" and I came across an explanatory video.

Jimmy, if you want me to consider donating to Wikipedia you should probably delete this slide from your presentation:

"It isn't perfect, but much better than you would expect"? Really? Is that supposed to be a selling point? Can you imagine what Don Draper would do if you pitched "It's Pretty Good" as an advertising slogan?

He would slap you across the face.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Art of Being Ridiculous

I wonder if Sun Tzu's military tactics are as effective on the battlegrounds of Beverly Hills as they were in ancient China . . .

Watch out Kyle.  I think Camile means business. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I'm Thankful For: Some Woman Named Lita

One day I was researching Shiatsu massage and I came across this. From then on, whenever I was feeling tense and overwhelmed I would sit in front of my computer, pull up a clip, and listen to Lita's soothing voice (there are numerous instructional videos). I felt kinda creepy watching and then re-watching massage instruction videos and my husband was definitely weirded out.  Luckily Lita recorded a guided meditation video, and it is awesome.  

This is the best thing since  The Joy of Painting With Bob Ross.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Art Is Dead

This 20 year old comedian has insight beyond his years.  Check it out.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Flashback Friday: Hanging Out With Brad Pitt

Otaku is a Japanese word for American fans of Anime, more particularly the obsessive ones.  Most likely, you've never had cause to use this word because you've probably never been to an Anime convention.  

Guess what- I have.  

What's that mom? You've never heard of Anime and you'll be calling me tonight to inquire about it?  

Hold up y'all.

Mom, Anime is Japanese animation.  For some reason it's really popular among groups of people that you would never associate with- not because you're snobby or something (you're not) but because you don't hang out with misguided tweens or computer programers who live in their parents' basement.  

I guess I'm kinda snobby. 

Anyway mom, they have these conventions all over the country where Anime fans get to hang out and dress up like Anime characters and hear from their favorite Anime directors, artists, and voice actors.  

Got it? Cool.

So one night some friends and I were trying to find a place to hang out downtown.  We were looking for something low-key that would provide us an atmosphere in which we could "catch up."  We decided that The Holiday Inn lounge would be ideal because it's undeniable lameness would guarantee us a quiet table and speedy service.  We were right on the money.   

As I sipped my whiskey and listened to my friends weave tales of their latest shenanigans I noticed two gentleman approaching the bar.  I noticed them because one was wearing some sort of futuristic military outfit and the other had a stuffed octopus resting on his shoulder.  

A steady stream of costumed individuals began entering the lounge, and my friends and I began to wonder what was going on.  I decided to approach the gentlemen I had noticed earlier who were seated at the bar and find out.

The pair informed me that there was an Anime convention in town and that some of the festivities were going to be at the Holiday Inn that evening.  I said thanks and hurried back to my table.

"Y'all- it's an Anime convention."

"Should we go to another bar?" one of my friends asked.

"Absolutely not." I said.  "We stay here. And we mingle."

Before my friends knew what had had hit them I asked Futuristic Military Guy (we'll call him FMG) and Octopus to join us.

I wanted to understand this Anime world.  Who are these people? What makes them tick?

The two men were very kind.  They told us about the different shows they enjoyed, the inspiration behind their own "characters," and some other odds and ends (did you know that there is such a thing as animated pornography?).  

I did notice two things: 1) There were a lot of anime fans who were teenage girls in the lobby.  2) There were a lot of anime fans who were thirty-something men in the bar.  It was concerning.  

As FMG began to wind down a lecture on Anime body proportions, the lobby and the lounge became completely quiet.  I looked over my shoulder to see a short but well-built man with frosted blond tips enter the hotel and begin the check-in process.  I looked over my other shoulder to find that every pair of eyes in that place were glued to this guy.  

"Who is that?" I whispered to Octopus.  

"It's Vic Mignogna."  

"Yeah, but who is he?" I said.  

Octupus looked at FMG and asked, "How should I explain Vic Mignogna?"

"He's like . . . the Brad Pitt of the Anime world." supplied FMG. 

"Oh," I said.  "Then we should hang out with him."  

"How are we gonna do that?" inquired Octupus.  

"I'm gonna ask him to hang out with us." I said.  

As I stood up FMG grabbed me by the arm and in a voice that begged for reason explained, "You can't just go talk to Vic.  He's like . . . a really big deal."

I gently took his hand from my arm and replied, "watch me." 

As I made my way across the lobby and began to approach Vic, I realized that all eyes were now on me, and began to get a little nervous.  Then I turned back, looked at Octopus, and remembered that I was in an alternate universe.  

But what to say? What to open with? How does one engage "the Brad Pitt of the Anime world?"  Well, I'll tell you.  You tap him on the shoulder, introduce yourself, and say, "so I hear you're like the Brad Pitt of the Anime world." 

Vic broke out into a huge grin, and said, "I guess you could say that."  

"Well, I'll be honest- I'm not really into Anime.  See my friends?" I asked and pointed to my friends. "They're not into Anime either, and we would love for you to join us for a drink."  

"That sounds great." chimed the Brad Pitt of the Anime of World.  "I'm just gonna finish checking in real quick." 

I got about ten yards from Vic before I was approached by a very nervous mother who assumed that I was friends with Vic and begged me to introduce him to her daughters who were standing several feet away praying. 

"Ummm, I don't really know him."

The woman glared at me like I was lying so I said, "I bet I could manage that."  

Vic was right behind me so I called, "Hey Vic! These little girls want to meet you or something."

"Sure," Vic said and posed for a picture.  Then of course the flood gates opened.  I watched as a line formed behind the nervous mother.  I mouthed, "we'll be over there" to Vic who smiled in return.  

"Oh my God. Is Vic coming over here?" asked FMG.

"Yup." I replied smugly.  

"How did you do that?" asked Octopus.

"I acted like a normal person," I said.  

"You are awesome!" exclaimed FMG.  

It turns out that Vic was pretty awesome.  Or at least really, really nice.  He hung out with us for about two hours even though my friends and I continuously hounded him with ridiculous questions about the trappings of Anime celebrity.  FMG and Octopus just sat there in awe.  

At one point during the evening two tweenage girls sat down at our feet and sketched Anime cartoons of me and my friends.  I guess they thought we were important because we were hanging out with Vic.  

I hate to say it, but I'm not sure if I've ever felt more cool.  Too bad I was at an Anime convention sitting next to a 40 year old man wearing a stuffed octopus on his shoulder.  

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Life on Facebook

Check this out!

The Town

My husband and I were finally able to see The Town or as I prefer to call it: Don Draper (With A Gun!).  I thoroughly enjoyed the film (although I don't think it's quite as good as The Facebook Movie), and I'm really glad that I was able to catch it on the big screen.  

 In the charming documentary about the life of film producer Robert Evans, The Kid Stays In The PictureRobert Evans says that all Italian mob films prior to The Godfather seemed campy and inauthentic, because most of their directors were Jewish and didn't have the first clue about the Sicilian mafia.  Enter Francis Ford Coppola.  FFC is to Italian mafia movies as Affleck is to Bostonian movies.  In my opinion, Ben Affleck should only be involved with movies that are set in Boston, because when he strays from what he knows we often get mixed results.  In terms of settings, the farther away he is from Boston the worse the movie.  Think about it- Gigli was set in Los Angeles.  

I'm sorry Ben- The Town was excellent.  I didn't mean to bring up Gigli.  You don't deserve that.  

Most reviews will tell you The Town is worth seeing and that Ben Affleck did a great job directing, which is basically what I just did.  

Now let's talk about Jon Hamm.  

First of all, I did think that the wardrobe department was trying to de-Draper him just a tad, because instead of dressing him in what I would imagine most FBI agents wear (a button down with a tie) they put him in a lot of plaid.  And I think some of this plaid was flannel.  And kinda wrinkled.  Eww. 

There were moments when Draper came out to play and I think it worked well for the character whose only function was to serve as a hard nosed yet likable FBI agent with no backstory determined to bring down a crew of bank robbers from Charlestown.  In fact, most of the time I just thought of him as Don Draper.  Like maybe Dick Whitman was trying on yet another hat- FBI Agent.  

This is not to say that I think Jon Hamm has a limited range.  Anyone who saw him on SNL knows that he's capable of more.  And please Hollywood, give me more of him because someday Mad Men will end and I need to see that mug on a regular basis.  

A few more comments before I wrap this up.  

All of the actors did a fantastic job, but the two standouts for me were Jeremy Renner (not a surprise) and Blake Lively (big surprise).  I completely stopped seeing Jeremy Renner the actor and began to believe that this person was in fact a Townie who would pistol whip you within an inch of your life for looking at him.  And Lively- whoa! Nailed the Boston accent and the pathetic, slutty, unfit-single-mom thing perfectly. Oh, and Pete Postlethwaite made the most of his small role and turned out a great performance as usual. 

And last, but not least- the person who came up with the tagline for this movie (Welcome to the Bank Robbery Capital of America) needs to be fired.  Immediately.  

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I'm Thankful For: Thomas Newman

Pretty soon we will all be listening to Christmas music.  
This is fun.  For about three days.

I don't know about you, but Christmas music kinda stresses me out.  "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" mentally transports me to my local mall, which I loathe.
So when Christmas rolls around what can be found on the stereo at my house?

Movie scores composed by Thomas Newman.

Tell me the following isn't perfect music to listen to while you decorate your Christmas tree or wrap presents: 

An American Quilt  (How to Make an American Quilt
Walkaway  (Meet Joe Black
and my very favorite
Angels in America Main Theme  (Angels in America)

which will definitely be played repeatedly throughout the holiday season at my house.  You have to admit the music is majestic and magical- perfect for Christmas.

And when someone asks what delightful holiday music is playing in the background I will have no problem saying, "Oh it's not really Christmas music. It's actually the theme to
Angels in America.  You know, that miniseries where the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg haunts Roy Cohn while he dies of AIDS."

Sorry, I had to do that.  Things were getting a little cheesy.  

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Stephen Hawkings's Personal Life: Kind of a Curious Mess

Every couple of weeks I become fascinated with a well-known person.  I spend copious amounts of time watching interviews or reading articles concerning whatever person is holding my interest at the moment.  Recently this person was Stephen Hawking.

I learned a lot about Hawking, and most of the information regarding his theories I flat out failed to comprehend.  Maybe this is why Professor Hawking's personal life became the focus of my err . . . research.  

Here's the part that I found most interesting:  Stephen Hawking's second wife, Elaine Mason, was originally David Mason's wife.  "Who is David Mason?" you might be wondering.  

David Mason is the designer of the first version of Hawking's talking computer.  You know, the thing that enables Hawking to speak?!

It seems Hawking would be eternally grateful to someone who so drastically improved his quality of life.  It seems this gratitude would translate into the occasional dinner invitation, birthday presents, and I don't know . . . STAYING AWAY FROM MASON'S WIFE.  

I might be more sympathetic if Hawking had not been married to his first wife (Jane) at the time of the affair.  I would also be more sympathetic if he hadn't told Jane that he planned to divorce her on their wedding anniversary.  

Isn't this all rather fascinating?  Maybe that's just because I can't begin to understand quantum cosmology.  

FYI: Stephen Hawking and Elaine Mason are now divorced.  

Monday, November 8, 2010


Last week Matt Lauer interviewed former President George W. Bush.  In the interview Bush declared that the worst moment of his presidency was when rapper Kanye West said that he didn't care about black people.  


The worst moment?


Here's the excerpt from the interview in case you miss it (it airs tonight on NBC at 8:00 pm ET).  My favorite part is when George interrupts Matt with "Don't care."   


About a week after the storm hit NBC aired a telethon asking for help for the victims of Katrina. We had celebrities coming in to ask for money. And I remember it vividly because I hosted it. And at one part of the evening I introduced Kanye West. Were you watching?
You remember what he said?
Yes, I do. He called me a racist.
Well, what he said, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”
That’s — “he’s a racist.” And I didn’t appreciate it then. I don’t appreciate it now. It’s one thing to say, “I don’t appreciate the way he’s handled his business.” It’s another thing to say, “This man’s a racist.” I resent it, it’s not true, and it was one of the most disgusting moments in my Presidency.
This from the book. “Five years later I can barely write those words without feeling disgust.” You go on. “I faced a lot of criticism as President. I didn’t like hearing people claim that I lied about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction or cut taxes to benefit the rich. But the suggestion that I was racist because of the response to Katrina represented an all time low.”
Yeah. I still feel that way as you read those words. I felt ‘em when I heard ‘em, felt ‘em when I wrote ‘em and I felt ‘em when I’m listening to ‘em.
You say you told Laura at the time it was the worst moment of your Presidency?
Yes. My record was strong I felt when it came to race relations and giving people a chance. And– it was a disgusting moment.
I wonder if some people are going to read that, now that you’ve written it, and they might give you some heat for that. And the reason is this–
Don’t care.
Well, here’s the reason. You’re not saying that the worst moment in you’re Presidency was watching the misery in Louisiana. You’re saying it was when someone insulted you because of that.
No — that– and I also make it clear that the misery in Louisiana affected me deeply as well. There’s a lot of tough moments in the book. And it was a disgusting moment, pure and simple.
I think the worst part of all of this (aside from the fact that we have a former president who says that the worst moment of his presidency was when a rapper insulted him) is that now Kanye is weighing in on Bush's comments.

Kanye compares Bush's "not taking the time to rush down to New Orleans" (Kanye's words) to cutting Taylor Swift off during "her moment."  (Her moment = a fake awards show on MTV.) 

I can't seem to get the song "Mad World" by Tears for Fears out of my head.  The Gary Jules version.  Hmmm.  
I wonder what Don Draper would think of this nonsense?  How would he respond? Something tells me he would say, "what?!" as well.  
Wait a minute.  I just thought of something.  We all know Kanye is a publicity-lightening rod.  Could Bush have intentionally ranked the Kanye thing as the worst moment in his presidency because he knew that reporters would question it's validity on air, that Kanye would comment, and the collective interest would be piqued? Has W. become media savvy during his hiatus? Do you think he learned about invoking "the power of Kanye" by watching the 2009 VMAs from his ranch in Crawford?  Did he call Taylor Swift in to consult on how to use West's egomania to his advantage? Does Bush listen to Taylor Swift or does he prefer Texas country? Are we still waging wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? 

For some reason I feel distracted . . .

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I'm Thankful For: YouTube Uploaders & Wikipedia Writers

Are you ever shocked by how much you know about a television series? Like, it's actually embarrassing?  This is how I feel about Saved By The Bell.  I know, I know.  We all watched our fair share of SBTB.  Even my mom can recall random factoids via walking through the den while my brother and I sat glued to the television set eating our after-school-snacks. "Oh yeah, Jessie Spano! Wasn't she the liberal environmentalist who was into women's lib and dated that AC Slater? Didn't she have an issue with caffeine pills?" Yeah mom, that's Jessica Spano alright.  

A few years ago I was having a massive Saved By The Bell conversation with a friend of mine.  No, I'm not friends with Chuck Klosterman, but his essay entitled "Being Zack Morris: An analysis of Saved by the Bell and how "important things are inevitably cliché" is brilliant. Especially his thoughts concerning "The Tori Paradox."  

Anyway, my friend and I were really getting into some Saved By The Bell minutia and I said, "what about when Kelly does that cheer to thank Bayside for buying the cheerleaders new uniforms and Slater spazzes out."   

My friend had no idea what I was talking about so I quickly turned to YouTube.  Check it out, and keep your eyes on Slater.  

What is he doing?  And here's my next question: where was the director?  Someone should have been like, "Mario, Mario- remember, you're a jock. You would never do that. Yeah, yeah you enjoy baking and yes, I remember the ridiculous episode when you cried over losing your pet chameleon Artie, but this is Tiffany-Amber's scene.  And you're ruining it."  

As a fellow YouTube viewer noticed, check out that creepy guy in the doorway checking Kelly out like nobody's business.  Something tells me that dude was never allowed on set again.  

Alright, so here's another great thing about YouTube.  The variety of videos blows my mind.  While writing this post I found this little gem which as the description puts it "looks at the infamous Zack and Kelly breakup when Kelly leaves Zack for Jeff. This video spans from their time in high school until their time in college. We see the angst that lies in Zack and Kelly's relationship as they try to hold on to their friendship."  

This video is intense.  First of all- Dido.  Second of all, the scenes that this person chose were kinda perfect.  My thoughts rapidly fired as I became engrossed in this melodramatic tribute. 

"Oh that bastard Jeff! Why did he have to ruin everything? I forgot that Zack's locker was filled with pictures of Kelly which were actually Tiger Beat posters.  Those Max uniforms were kinda revealing.  The Attic Episode! Kelly's sophisticated bun!  Aww, Kelly clutching her teddy bear.  I forgot that her dad lost his job and she couldn't afford the prom.  Oh man we're taking this to The College Years? And we're going there in slow-mo? Alright.  Oh man, Professor Lasky- I can't believe you.  You taught ethics for goodness sake."

I also love how this video inspired someone to comment:  "Zack was always there for Kelly no matter how slutty she decided to be."  Hahaha.  What!?  But also . . . true?  

So this brings me to the Wikipedia section of this post.  I don't know who writes these exhaustive articles on shows like Saved By The Bell or Punky Brewster or The A-Team, but I love these people.  I thought I knew everything about Saved By The Bell but check out the Wikipedia article.  

-Zack's relationship with his father was distant?  I guess . . .

-Kelly was introduced as an outsider to the show's core clique? Really?

-Mr. Belding was a Vietnam War hero? No way!

Here's something that I love to do: next time you're at the dentist or riding on a bus or something- think of a show that's completely ridiculous and then read the Wikipedia article for that show on your phone.  I guarantee you that if you are at all familiar with the show you will find that the struggle between sounding scholarly and summarizing an insane plot line makes for a humorous read.  

Try this one on for size sometime.