Monday, February 28, 2011

AIDS/HIV Prevention

Our Lady of Gaga was on Good Morning America dressed in condom chic as a way to talk about AIDS/HIV prevention
I'm glad to see a celebrity talk about this because God knows breakfasts at the White House are probably going to go unnoticed, especially by the under 20 set. 
In terms of other thoughts, I love the idea that Lady Gaga might be the voice of our generation.  I say this because I've commented before how much I don't want the voice of our generation to be another white straight man (as much as I love Kurt Cobain and John Lennon, who both have been given such a title, I am loathe for it to be someone like, say, the founder of Facebook.)  I love that Lady Gaga is neither male or straight- and openly so.  I don't agree with all her politics, but I would rather see someone progressive and activist-oriented than someone benefitting from a capitalist system. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

They Don't Make Them Like They Use To

The BBC recently published this great article about the microphones used back in the day.  Apparently, despite the age, they still basically work.
That's pretty extraordinary.  So much of our electronics and other technical gear is made for one-use or only brief use.  And that's too bad, because then we're more inclined to throw things out when they're constantly breaking down.  We need to get back to making things that last and reusing the old things that still work.  Our planet needs it. 

99 Problems

Just for fun today, I'd like to direct all of you over to this fun Star Trek/Jay-Z joke.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Next Best Thing

I'm not really a fan of Edmund Burke, mostly because I love his rival, Mary Wollstonecraft, so much. But he did say that "Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”
I've been reflecting on this idea. As someone who finds themselves interested in a wide variety of things (as this blog attests to, with its hodge podge of art, history and sometimes even science musings), I find myself saddened by how I will never find enough time in this life (or even multiple lives, if such a thing is possible) to do everything, see every place, create everything I think of or learn everything about the things I love. But trying is the next best thing.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Criterion Collection

Antonio Esposito and I have been talking about Hulu and if they can manage to hang on. I'm calling it: Hulu will survive, by providing content that others cannot or do not. I say this because Hulu recently acquired the Criterion Collection, which is famed for their interesting, wonderful, often-foreign indie films. This is probably the best move Hulu could have made, since otherwise Netflix will probably outcompete with their free and fast streaming of so much content.
Hulu's best move is to add other exclusive content, especially niche things (more Korean soap opera, British sitcoms and dramas, Swedish movies, Canadian teen dramas, Indian musicals.)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Bit of Next

I am really enjoying Salon's Good Sex Award, mostly because it has become an excuse for me, as an aspiring writer and literature nerd, to read great scenes (with, yes, sex.)  My favorite so far is the excerpt they chose from Next.  This is exactly the kind of awards the literature world needs.  If literature had award shows, people would tune in if this was what they had to listen to. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Art and Pretention

You may have noticed, if you regularly check out this blog, that I'm an art nerd. I'm hesitant to claim the word artist because, although I dabble, I don't think I'm especially good. (And not so much doing it for the product as I am the process.) So I love it when someone actually explains to me what is the what in art. Today, we have the difference between Art Nouveau and Art Deco. Although they are similar, I really needed someone to show me the difference, as I'm sure I'll need to be pretentious enough to explain this to someone someday.
(If you're wondering: the picture to the right is art nouveau.)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Midwest Banjo Camp

It's that time of the year where everyone begins looking for something fun to do during the summer.  For this summer, I'm eyeing the Midwest Banjo Camp, which is all about immersion, and hopefully, learning.  A few of my friends play the banjo, and the more I hear about it, the more interested I am in taking it up. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Adopt a Word

Poets and other writers are generally word nerds, which is to say that we have our favorite words that we love to us.  For poets, the word is often just as much about sound as it is about its definition, and obscure is only sometimes better.  Save the Word is trying to encourage people to adopt words.  According to them, ninety percent of our communication uses only 7,000 words. 
Go out there and adopt a word.  Looking at what they have available right now, it looks like some of the more fun words include drollic (pertaining to puppet shows), riviation (fishing), and avunculize (to act as an uncle).   

Where Have All the Smart People Gone?

My friend Matt pointed me to the interesting article about education in the U.S. by state.  The bad news is that my homestate, Michigan, is at the bottom in terms of educated people.  I'm saddened by this news, but not surprised: friends, especially my most ambitious friends, have talked about how they have no choice but to leave the state to further pursue various goals.  I myself have recently moved out and honestly don't want to move back, not because I don't love Michigan, but because I don't feel like there's anything there for me professionally. 
This article is right to advocate for local solutions.  The problem is that education is so varied by local communities.  National politicians have frequently opted to use testing as a way to standardize education, but I suspect there's more at play here.  Wealthy communities (and wealthier states) spend more on education, and the solution there is to find more effective ways at spending money on students, in a more egalitarian way.  This difference in money spent on education was the motivating factor of one now-infamous mother's decision to "lie" to a school board about her children's residence so they could go to a "better" (and richer and whiter school.)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Any Human Heart Actors

Most people know that, as an English nerd, I have a certain fondness for Masterpiece Theater. For those of you lucky enough not to be obsessed Britian, right now they're showing Any Human Heart. Many of the actors in the miniseries are also from various Jane Austen adaptations, as this brief rundown explains. I found myself, being a ridiculous anglophile, wanting to add notes to it, like mentioning that Atwell also was in The Duchess and Broadbent was in some of the Harry Potter movies and The Young Victoria and Hollander was in (with Broadbent) Bridget Jones's Diary and the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. See what I mean? I could play six degrees of separation if it was with British actors.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Real Detroit Spirit

I was furious when I heard that people were raising money to build a statue of RoboCop in my homecity of Detroit.  Detroit is a wonderful and strange place (despite all the Detroit bashing that certain people do), but yes indeed, we have problems.  I found myself thinking that someone was raising money to put a statue of a fictional character in a prominent place and not working on so many of the other things the city's people need.  I was also angry that a bunch of what were probably non-Detroiters were telling us what we should do for our city, without any thought to our actual needs (such as to stop treating us as less than, for starters, or say, desperate enough to put a statue honoring a police state in a city known for corrupt institutions and the riots of the late sixties.)  And, really, at the very least, if we were going to honor someone in Detroit, could we please make it someone who positively influenced the city?  And, not, say, an auto industry magnate? 
I was so happy to read this story about how the creator of RoboCop wants us to spend the money on the hungry.  That to me is real Detroit spirit: helping those in need and not thinking that Detroit is some joke.  It's not.  For a lot of people, it's home. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Casting Wonder Woman

Every geek is keeping up with the ongoing drama over bringing Wonder Woman back to the small screen.  The show's gone to E.Kelley, a scripts been released, and people have begun casting. 
I love Chromatic Casting, because they usually have some wonderful and interesting suggestions: Gina Torres, Dichen Lachman, Miracle Laurie, Indira Varma, and Henry Lennix.  (I get the feeling the author of this post watches much of the same sci-fi that I do.)  As much as I would love to Gina Torres as Wonder Woman (and totally believe she could handle it), I'd actually love to see Dichen Lachman in the role.  Lachman was lovely on Dollhouse, and I'd love to see what else she is capable of, and I honestly don't want to see her in such a small role. 
So my thoughts on who I'd like to see:
Wonder Woman- Bianca Lawson
She's sort of an obscure choice, but Lawson, once upon a time, was a slayer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (though, it should be noted, she wasn't the slayer.)  It was a tragedy that her character got killed off so quickly, because she was easily one of the more interesting actors on the show. 
Veronica Cale- C.C.H. Pounder
Pounder can bring it to any role, and mostly I've seen her play characters who are trying to be good in impossible situations.  I'd love to see her try out a bad guy role. 
Myndi Main- Ling Bai
I'm sick of Bai play roles where she's asked to be a sex object.  (Her guest role on Lost was insulting and, as an episode as a whole, totally unnecessary.)  Let's give Bai something else, let's give her the antithesis with a girl-next-door, loyal, best friend role. 
Steve Trevor- John Cho
Every (straight) girl needs an awesome boyfriend.  Cho's perfect.  (Though, since he's so busy, may I also suggest J. August Richards?) 
Ares- Kal Penn
I mostly want to see Cho/Penn work on something dramatic, and Penn's work on House was wonderful.  I'm still disappointed they killed off his character too, because I need Penn to come back to an almost completely boring show and livin' it up.  (Though if they can't get Penn, I would totally settle for Steven Williams or Carlos Gomez.) 
Who would you cast in the Wonder Woman show?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Suheir Hammad's TED Talk

I love Suheir Hammand. She's an amazing poet and performer.
One of the things I find interesting is how similar the first video she reads here is to another poem I saw her read, which ended with "this war drum ain't louder than my breath." I'm curious is this first poem is the same poem I heard read, but revised.
I also enjoyed listening to her when she wasn't reading poetry. I hate to admit it, but the few times I have performed my poetry, I have totally spent more time on my outfit than I should have.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Marketing Ninja Cuts to the Quick

I'd like to welcome my friend Antonio to blogger. Even though he's had a blog for a while, he's only recently started blogging, mostly on The Marketing Ninja. Antonio is a very good (and old) friend of mine, and I'm hoping his blog takes off.
My favorite post so far? This one on the search engine developments of Yahoo. As a researcher, I'm always looking to optomizwe my searching capabilities because it means wasting less time going through mindless drivel and more time looking at the useful stuff. I would totally like to see Yahoo take on qualities that make it easier to filter things out that I don't want or need.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

McSweeney's Takes the Love out of Valentine's Day

I do not have a problem with Valentine's Day as a holiday, in theory. As a feminist, I do have a problem with gender roles, and Valentine's Day is often just another example of that. And I figured that someone yesterday would manage to anger me when it came to that.
Instead, I got angry because someone was making fun of the disabled, specifically the mentally disabled. McSweeney's reposted this piece, called "Obsessive Compulsive Valentines." Among other things, it actually has Valentines that sound like they are from a Paranoid Schizophrenic, but the entire idea is offensive.
The humor of this piece is apparently that those with a clinical disorder are funny, and also, by the way, inept when in comes to love. Anyone who has suffered from OCD (or a similar condition) knows that as hard as it sometimes may be to function, living with society's constant prods is even harder. Often it is people's assumptions and negative perspective that is more crippling that anything a disabled person has.

Monday, February 14, 2011

MLK Strikes Again

There have been wonderful, fascinating stories coming out of the the revolution that is taking place in Egypt, most of them surrounding the geo-political situation and the use of social media such as Twitter.  One of my favorite stories is about the use of a fifty year old comic of Martin Luther King Jr. being distributed through the protesters at Tahrir Square.  King's story and message was being narrated (in a translated format) through stories and pictures.
Comics are some of the best ways to communicate to the masses because of their format.  As much as I love a good manifesto, political texts that are solely written often allienate the people, especially if the text is bogged down in political or philosophical jargon.  This is why so many amazing movements have turned to art, especially in the form of posters, to express their ideas.   
This is also a great example of how powerful and far-reaching the comic/graphic arts format can be. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hiroko Nagata's Picture

Reading the news recently, I came across this story about a revolutionary Japanese leader dying in jail. What gets me about this report is the image of this woman, Hiroko Nagata. As an art nerd, I'm always looking for a compelling image, and here is this woman, looking both beaten and defiant. Her gaze looks severe and unamused. Wow.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

James Blake's "Limit To Your Love"

There's something fascinating about a good cover. Covers so often are just another, different voice, but sometimes they add or subtract or subvert or just plain change a song in a wonderful way. I love that about a cover.
This is James Blake (a huge star in the U.K., virtually unknown in the U.S.) doing a cover of Feist's "Limit to Your Love." The original is bland in comparison with this cover, which manages to be subtly dramatic and quietly convincing of its emotional motivations in a way the original never is. Feist's lyrics are phenomenal, but Blake manages to highlight their simplicity and depth to the point of elegance.
Blake is so baby-faced, so young looking, but his pain feels like it has been distilled in the barrel of someone older, someone about to die, someone saddled with the tragedy of mistakes and regrets, almost Johnny Cash like.
This video is amazing, and like the song, all about the small things. Everything is shaking slightly, like just the barest of earthquakes is rippling through. I love the blue color hanging over much of the video; it's like the ceramic gray color of a winter Sunday morning. And it has the wonderful imagery of orbiting fruit.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Kentucky Quidditch Tournament

In less than a month, one of my favorite Quidditch teams, the Transylvania Animagi, will be hosting a Quidditch Tournament, called Kentucky Quidditch. Both college and high school teams will be competing with one another.
Even if you're not a Harry Potter fan, you definitely want to see Quidditch in action. It's basically three to four different games, and, for being a "made-up" sport, fast-paced and fun. If you're anywhere near Lexington, get out there and support Transy.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Change is Possible

I've been following the protests as they happen in Tunisia, Egypt (and, fingers crossed, other places.) It's been good to see people demanding their rights.
And in the best news: it appears to be paying off. Sort of. This report talks about how other countries, in an attempt to stave off protests, are already making changes. Good. If I were a citizen of these countries, this isn't everything I would want to see, but it's a start.
To all those in Tunisia, Egypt, and other places it the world fighting for self-determination: keep going and good luck.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Christian Bale's Next Project

I hate to admit that I have a soft spot for Christian Bale as an actor. And I love bizarre actorly projects, the sort of thing that turns off most mainstream viewers and gets the attention of lots of award committees. So I'm loving these tongue-in-cheek suggestions about what Christian Bale should do next.

The King's Speech

It's almost Oscar time. I didn't really get out to the cinema during "Oscar season," so I actually haven't seen most of the movies out there.
But I am intrigued by The King's Speech, because I am a history nerd. I get the feeling that this film idealizes the royal family, which is too sad because most royals are not good people (and some of them, like say, the King's brother, supported Nazis.)
This is a video from the SAG Awards, which are important because they are meant to help critics gage who is going to win the Oscar. The three main actors speak about the movie and their recent win.
As a side note, I'm on the fence about the dress Helena Bonham Carter is wearing. I like it, but it says more late spring partner dancing then awards ceremony.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ear Biting

Local news is a special variety of news, often covering the more insane things that happen. Recently, in local Detroit news, a Canadian man bit off the ear of a Canton-native. Obviously, this is the sort of news story that gets attention, just because it is so crazy sounding.
What struck me about this story is how it encapsulates the fluidity of the border from Michigan to Ontario. There are people who move freely between it, and plenty of people live in one country and commute to the other for work. The article doesn't mention what kind of legal situation occurs when a Canadian bites an Americans, but the article doesn't treat him as if he's any different from say, American on American punitive biting.
There's also a part of me that found myself thinking of Van Gogh, but that's a whole other issue. And not quite the same thing, since Van Gogh was cutting off his own ear.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Tobias Dress Up

Arrested Development was one of the cleverest shows on the air, with an eclectic mix of humor and talent. It was one of those shows that got cancelled too soon, but some of the jokes have gone on to be well-loved and well-remembered. My friend Derek and I frequently greet one another with "hey hermano," in the spirit of Buster. Recently someone posted this amazing game where you can dress up Tobias the Never Nude.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

James Franco, Ph.D.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
James Franco
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook

Here's a clip of James Franco talking about what it is like to be nominated for an Oscar. I actually find it both really endearing that he refused to skip class and that he's working on a Ph.D. in English literature from Yale. As a once undergraduate who refused to skip for anything less than the GRE, loved Shelly and Keats, and, yes was an English major, I am totally in love with this guy. I use to just admire him for bravely playing Ginsberg in Howl, now I know his love of poetry is real.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Detroit's Hub

Even though I'm not living in Detroit right now, I love my home city. It's hard some time to keep up sometimes with what is going on, but thankfully, there are lots of great bloggers over at The Hub. There's been some great posts lately.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Snow Creations

It's been snowing so much this year. I've been tickled by all the snow creations that people have been making. Here's some of my favorites.

Classic snowman, which were harder to find on the ground that you think. Love that he's rocking a pipe Sherlock Holmes-style.

It's a dragon! Or maybe a dinosaur. With carrots for spikes.

I guess this is an alien snowman. Doing the peace sign salute that Nixon perfected. Possibly that's a second head on him too.

Everyone was getting into the spirit of enjoying the snow creatures.

Snow mice or maybe rats. I love how they've all congregated on top of a picnic table. Typical snow rat thing to do.

One snow rat is even desperately trying to get up onto the table. I watched multiple people make snow mice and then leave them all together.

"Same thing we do every night, Pinkie. Try and take over the world."

I'm totally impressed by the shape of this monster's mouth.

This guy was huge. Someone had even detailed scales in.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Irene McKinney Comes to MSU

Irene McKinney, the amazing Appalachian poet, is coming to MSU next week. McKinney is the author of multiple books of poetry, including The Girl with a Stone in Her Lap and has been featured on radio shows, including Daily Verse. She was the Poet Laureate for West Virginia in 1994.
The Center for Poetry and the MSU Museum are going to be hosting some events featuring her. They're both free and open to the public, so you should go. She will be giving a free poetry reading on the 14th at 7 pm in the basement of Phillip Snyder (for those of you who go to Poetry Center readings, this is where they almost always are.) She'll also be hosting a writing workshop on masks at the MSU Museum on the 16th at 7 pm. Workshops are free but have limited space, so if you want to go, please register by emailing the them ( ASAP.
Hope you make it out and have a lovely time.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Asian Dub Foundation's "Naxalite"

There is so much good music out there, and I fear that my collection is always growing.  Today, I was listening to "Naxalite," which is a great song.  In addition to the empowering lyrics of "we are taking the power," this song has a great beat and great bass guitar work.  It is an incredibly danceable song. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Language Learing Challenge

I am frequently amazing and impressed by the steampunk subculture. Everyone I've encountered who enjoys steampunk is smart and thoughtful and full of enthusiasm, and not just for steam-powered machines or gear-decorated bowler hats. Exhibit A: The Steamer's Trunk Presents: The Great Language Learning Challenge! Basically, starting today and for the entire month of February, the goal is to teach yourself a new language. I doubt anyone could get really good in a month, but this is a great idea.
I was alerted to this idea by Multiculturalism for Steampunk, the sister blog for the challenge. They mentioned there were great potential resources out there. I'm hoping that people will be posting some of those resources throughout the month, since I am curious to see what's out there. You know that scene in Love Actually where Colin Firth totally butchers Portuguese? That's what I'm like when I speak another language.