Saturday, June 25, 2011

NY Times Riffs

I like the new Format for the NY Times magazine (the only reason I subscribe to the print edition). I like how they finally got a new ethicist who didn't seem overly righteous about questinable decisions, but I mostly like the new Riffs column, where writers basically participate in the sophomoric silliness typically found in blogs or college dorm rooms (my cousins call it masturbatory writing).

3 recent ones that stood out, a meta-meta-meta-memoir--the editor's memoir of
reading the reviewer's memoir of the memoir by Luca Spaghetti about being in the Eat Pray Love memoir. Or, a call to take back the word c**t while adhering the NY times rules from using that word, or even referring to it. Or, a crit theory analysis of Pretty Women.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

latest star wars mmorpg trailer

What amuses me about the star wars cartoon is how it continues to use catch phrases from the original trilogy on a regular basis. "I have a bad feeling about this" etc. How many could there be to use in nearly every episode without getting old.

Though I guess catch phrases from the bible or Shakespeare have become part of our language so why not star wars.

I was amused but not surprised when even Nytimes movie critic ao Scott cited star wars as the most influential movie he ever saw as a kid (also unsurprisingly manolo dhargis cites is obscure French new wave films like trufault or Jules et Jim.)

What amused me about the latest trailer is how many scenes from the old trilogy they fit into a 6 minute clip from blasting out of the death star to navigating the death star trench to the
Turret guns in the falcon to the death of kenobi to vaders force duel with space debris to the roguish smuggler. And while it was blatantly obvious the appeals to nostalgia were surprisingly powerful in making me want to buy this game.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Audacity of Literary Theory

If people think economics is audacious in applying it's tools to areas far beyond it's purview is nothing compared to the audacity of literary theory that applied the logic of literature to explaining reality. (see batman the dark knight returns for example).

But I still miss it (see this recent NYTimes article analyzing thelma and louise and pretty woman). Used to read a fair amount for my education policy classes but hardly any now for many years.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Time Magazine doesn't want me to get "Gypped?"

Just surprised the word "gyp" is considered acceptable by a major magazine. It was used in a recent article about home buying, on how to avoid getting gypped. I was never even aware of the proper spelling of the word (used to assume it was spelled Jipped) until I heard Southpark's Cartman using the term Jewed all the time. Curiously, this article came out at the same time as some politician was asked to resign because he used the word Jewed.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Reviewlet: X-men First Class

X-Men: First Class [Blu-ray]Watching the previews it's pretty amazing how many B-list super heroes movies are coming out this summer, Thor, Green Lantern, Captain America, etc. Always hanging out at the edge of my awareness growing up, but never enough for me to actually read a single issue. These are more surprising that the D-list heroes (Wanted, Kickass) that have popped up in past years that at least have indie cred.

But the A-list is still here, with the latest x-men installment which may be the best of the series, if not one of the best of the genre, at least in terms of art direction. I was eager to see it given the hype from friends and critics and impressively it lives up to high expectations.

It evoked two genres that never get evoked in super hero movies, the history channel war documentary (with its rendition of the Cuban missile crisis which was fun to watch after seeing the recent JFK biopic on the topic), and the recent genre of bad-ass Jew killing Nazies Holocaust revenge film which curiously is a popular sub-sub-genre these days (The movie also included a preview of The Debt).

But most notably it had the most savvy art direction of any super hero movie I have ever seen in a comic book movie, with the same attention to 60's detail as Mad Men, from the ever presence martini glasses, to the casual mysogeny. But also, the over the top Sean Connery James Bond / Dr Strangelove US and Soviet War Rooms, or the Austin Power style villain interiors, and montages. Most impressively, like the perennial problem of the super hero costume, it does all this with a wink, but without the Camp.

I also liked the ensemble case. Not quite the star power of the recent X-men franchise, but they all looked like they belonged in the time, perhaps because they starred in Mad Men. And James McEvoy really works reprising the dorky super-hero role he did so well in Wanted.

And of course it rewarded us X-men fanboys out there, by staying true to the original X-men themes of outsideness and persecution, the original 60's silliness and cold-war mentality, and throwing in plenty of inside references, and recurring throwaway characters.

Overall Grade: A

Thursday, June 09, 2011

memories of food

This npr story on a chef/artist/protege of jose andres (of course) trying to make food more memorable. They cite science that says that taste is our least memorable scent, in part because we lack the words to describe it, and there is nice evidence that the words we have for things like color affects our ability to perceive color. (For example, many languages like Russian don't have separate words for blue or green.)

So I think about this, since we spend lots of money on very expensive meals, but often I do forget the taste of the food. R- is better. In some ways, it is nice to embrace the fleeting ephemeral nature of the experience, but on the other hand, it also justifies the BS foodie banter we often use to describe the meals.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

ridiculously blatant product placement

Seems to be getting out of hand lately. In several recent episodes of Bones, the two main characters just stop to talk about the features of the car they are driving. Like, gee Bones, did you know my Prius can park itself (cut to clip of car parking itself), or gee Bones, doesn't your Prius have a nice GPS system?

I guess I can't blame them since I only watch pre-recorded shows these days.

I did like hulu's old model which forces you to watch 1 30 second ads for each commercial break. That seemed appropriate. Now that they switched to two though, they are starting to annoy me.