Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Showgirls: The Best Movie Ever Made Ever

I'm on the UCB mailing list, and apparently this show is going on yet again, for (if I've read the mailing lists correctly), the third time. Amazing. The ad reads the following:

SHOWGIRLSThe Best Movie Ever Made. Ever.
“Her name is Nomi Malone…”

Ten years ago, our modern day Shakespeare, Joe Eszterhas, was paid $2 million for his screenplay Showgirls. Despite being considered one of the worst movies ever made by critics and movie-goers, it went on to become one of the top 20 grossing films in MGM history. And in America, that qualifies it as a work of high art.

The UCB Theatre is proud to present an evening with Mr. Eszterhas as he is interviewed by noted film historian (Cape Cod Community College) and Mary Kay spokeswoman, Jackie Swett Miller. Experience the power and sanctity of Eszteras' words live onstage. It’s half staged reading, half “Inside the Actor’s Studio,” and half female empowerment, Eszterhas style.
“It must be weird, not having anybody cum on you.”
Directed by Jason Mantzoukas
Cast: Eric Bernat, Julie Brister, Jackie Clarke, Jesse Falcon, John Flynn, Jeff Hiller, Bobby Moynihan, Lennon Parham
With special guest appearance from Michael Musto.

Thursday, December 18:00PM$5Make Reservations Now at UCBTheatre.com >>



Reprinted without permission, but since I guess since it's practically advertising, they wouldn't mind.

Sony Spreads Computer Virus

Well. Not exactly. But apparently something close. Some relevant details in the link below:

http://www.eff.org/IP/DRM/Sony-BMG/

The story originally broke on the following blog:

http://www.sysinternals.com/blog/2005/11/more-on-sony-dangerous-decloaking.html

This is slightly news to me, but apparently, it happened about three weeks ago. I had heard mention of it on a podcast (I am becomming even more of a computer/digital nerd by the second). It was revealed around the beginning of the month, that Sony has been incorporating a sort of copyright-protecting software into about 20 or more of its CDs since mid-2004. Something called a "rootkit" would be installed, hidden under the guise of music-playing software. (I don't lay absolute claim to truth on the details, see the above, this is just as I understand it so far).

So anyway, you load in one of these CDs (one of which is, I believe, an Ultimate Celine Dion collection), and under the guise of installing a music player, or something like that, itll install this "rootkit" thing- hidden, and without your knowledge. The rootkit is a sort of spyware that also makes your computer system vulnerable to hacking/intrusion. I think the program also sent information back from your computer to Sony, but again, I can't be sure. The apparent implications are, Sony has distributed hacker-like software through its CD products, with the goal of protecting CDs from copyright infringement. The whole problem is, you, the consumer, didn't know about it, and it was performing spyware activities usually associated with viruses or hackers.

Worse, Sony's first programs that offered to removie the spyware removed the "cloak," the element of the program that concealed its existence, but not the program itself. And apparently, the removal software could also do a great deal of damage to the Windows operating system. And of course, one article quoted something like this:

"And of course, Mac users around the globe continued to use their computers without issue, wondering as always why people bother using Windows anymore."

I'm beating a dead and processed horse, but like I've said, the more I read, the more Mac seems to make a great deal of sense. Though from my end, one hard drive crash later (which could just as well have happened on a Mac), this PC is still running pretty strong. My only complaint nowadays is that it has the aesthetic value of an oversized and uninspired piece of biege tupperware.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Rolling Rock

There is a bottle of it on the bar behind Natalie Portman in the scene of Garden State when they go out to a bar. Just a few quick seconds into the scene the bartender takes it away.

There's another behind Zach Braff in his close up.

And then another one behind Natalie Portman immediately following.

And they're drinking from glasses. What's the deal.

A while later...

Garden State is a neat movie. It's such a neat movie that I wish people didn't make such a big deal about it as they do. So that maybe we could bury Garden State somewhere, and then thirty years from now, I can just somehow stumble into it and just enjoy the heck out of it and feel like I was enjoying something small, and wonderful, and just for me. Sort of like being the sort of person who knows and enjoys Harold and Maude.

Apple shenanigans

Neat realization about blogs number 13 or so...you can write pretty much whatever you want...and possibly ignorant of general interest. If the glowing white apple doesn't tickle you're fancy, check this action out: http://www.starterupsteve.com/flash/html/bunnykill.shtml.

Otherwise, read on.


SNL does Jobs

While I'm in the midst of referrals, here's some neat stuff to check out:

http://section3.net/stevejobs_SNL/

^This is a recording of an SNL Weekend Update Sketch, in which Steve Jobs releases the iPod Micro; the iPod Pequeno (spelling?); and the iPod Invisi.

The cleverness of the skit is underlined a bit further if you're at all familiar with apple's webcasts of Steve Jobs' "unveilings" of iPods and other such things. Here's a link to the webcast premiering the iPod Nano: http://www.apple.com/quicktime/qtv/specialevent05/. As you may see by comparison, SNL does a pretty bang up job.

iPod Video

High on my list of things to do during my weekend at home was to go to Best Buy and just play around. No intention to buy anything at all, but just try out the gadgets and gizmos (particularly, iPods and laptops) on display. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like Best Buy stocks Apple computers, preventing me from fulfilling my Wayne Campbell: Fender Stratocaster :: Rob Nguyen: iBook complex. However, that's not to say that I didn't run into a bunch of other stuff that was just really neat. From what I heard about the Apple iPod, people've stressed, it's music first, clearly video player second. But I've got to say, that's not to say that the video player is all that bad at all. I had thought it'd be a dinky thing that was a sort of neat gimmick, with a screen that go all LCD wash out and such at sharp angles. Au contraire, as they say in Italy, not the case. The Pixar short that was playing on it looked pretty clear (or at least, more than I had expected), even from a slightly oblique point of view, and the screen isn't so small that it feels too tiny to watch stuff on. That might change, were I to try to watch it during a long bus ride...but otherwise. Pretty neato.

Powerbooks

I was watching the Making Of documentary on Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, and due to my Mac-craziness, I paid not a little attention to what sort of machines the production personnel were using.

SIDE NOTE: the making of takes a really neat approach. It looks at one section of film- the bulk of the lightsaber duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan, a section that clocks un about under 60 seconds (though I think they cut their selection of the fight down for purposes of the concept), and examines the jobs of each person involved in making that minute of film happen. Theoretically, it's that same array of people doing the entire movie, but the big point behind the approach is- for anything to happen on screen in a movie like Star Wars, there are hundreds and hundreds of people that work to make that happen, between the more obvious jobs, like the CGI animators or costume designers, to the less obvious ones, like the caterers, staff accountants and production office staff. It is really neat.

Anyway, another rule of thumb in the Macs vs. PCs debates that I'd heard growing up was that Macs are the best computers for professional video/photo/graphic design. Looking at the use of computers by the behind the scenes people, this seems to be the tendency. In terms of desktop machines, however, I was surprised to find that the split seemed pretty 50/50. There were a number of obvious Apple workstations, but there were just as many PC ones. Most with a dual monitor setup (and I had thought all this time that that was primarily a luxury enjoyed by gamers wanting to be able to see their desktop at the same time). In terms of laptops, though, the rule of thumb seemed to be the Powerbook, most often the 17". They'd have a production meeting to go over a sequence, and most of the staff would have their Powerbooks with them, on which to make notes, additions, or get some work done on the spot. As touted on the website, it would seem that the Powerbook really is the standard for portable workstation for video/sound professionals.

Which would make me wanting a Powerbook seem a bit unnecessary. I've had my eye on the 12" iBook for sometime as a backup, portable computer (there are all sorts of reasons why I most likely will not make this purchase...unless, for whatever reason, I have some sort of really bad day and need $949 worth of purchased compensation). And the iBook serves that sense....but then...the Powerbook. Me purchasing a 12" Powerbook instead opens up a whole different dimension of the luxuries of consumerism. iBook would be purchasing something that I could possibly need....Powerbook would be purchasing something that I would most likely never use for the purposes it is designed. It woudl be the luxury consumer good, made even more superficially satisfying by my knowing that I had bought a luxury item that I would perhaps never even use towards the ends for which it is designed. Like buying a gold plated toilet seat, and using it as a door stop.




This is an exaggeration. If ever I get a laptop, I'd probably overuse it 'till it died.

Wikiarticle of the Week:

(of the week here, meaning the same thing that "Next Week, on Reno 911!" means on Reno 911!)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Festivus

^ Festivus. Because, why not, really?

http://www.festivusbook.com/

^ Further details. And lots of colors.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Baudrillard, I own you.

Here's to the recycle-ability of academic work...having worked on theorist Jean Baudrillard for my thesis project, I'm back on him for a presentation. My presentation was actually due three weeks ago, but my professor had forgotten about it when I was ready to present; I wasn't sure whether or not to remind her; and I believe I did promise it'd be in better shape at the later, rescheduled time. And I [crosses fingers] think it is.

Basically, Baudrillard's this really head-trippy French intellectual, whose work plays in that whole vocabulary of signs/signifiers, what is reality?, etc etc etc. And it's difficult-- but also sometimes so zany and bizarre, that it can be a lot of fun. And I think, think I've got a good handle on him. And I hope that will come through on Monday.

AND I actually did work over the break! Some substantial work! It won't make a huge dent in the paper stuff that I'll still have to do with not much time to spare-- BUT, I'll have a less hectic Sunday afternoon/evening/Monday morning of reading/homework cramming than I usually do. And that, in itself, is something of a relief.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Black Friday

It's actually 4:16 AM right now.

I would almost be tempted. To stay awake, another whole hour, if only to go to the Plymouth Meeting Mall, and go to Kaybee. To be able to observe-- holy crap, it is Five A.M.- Kaybee's is open at 5AM, just like that big sign on Germantown Pike said it'd be open. And it's open. And there are PEOPLE heeeere. This is incredible. I can barely roll out of bed to get paid for going to work at 9AM, here we are in the mall at 9AM, and people are going here to spend money on thiiings. Though thiiings are neat. I would stay awake and go. But I have not slept. And I'm bad enough a driver as it is.

I kind of think I want to embrace the Black Friday-ness that is this day...that is, go out and shop! Go, go shop, America! day. Which, I will. I think there's a point in which acknowledging the fix-ed-ness of about everything in society...consumerism/drive to purchase/commodity oriented lifestyle/empowering purchases/object oriented lifestyle, etc...saying that you acknowledge these things. Gives you free reign to totally take part in them in a voyeuristic sense..."Oh, I'm not actually being a tool of advertising and everything that's coded into me that makes me want to go buy stuff. I'm observing this behavior."

Well that's a lie- I'm just a willing consumer. There is a part of me that is absolutely fascinated with all the amazingly compelling, superficial parts of life-- fascinating in a- wow. Holy jeez wow. At some point, people created holidays for the resurrection of the Risen Lord, but perhaps just as important in our society, is an unofficial holiday, created by a coincidence of Friday's off after Thanksgiving and Christmas less than a month away, that is just as, if not, more, celebrated, for all sorts of other reasons that have nothing to do with messiahs or salvation, but a change in the color of the font on the bottom line of excel spreadsheets across the nation.

And just because I am aware of this. I am not above this. I want some really classy shit.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Wednesday Night Jug



Detail on the office name plates:

John M. Bloor

Brian J. Smith

Brian and John are two members of the Alumni Service Corps at St. Joe's Prep, and I was rather delighted to get the chance to see their office. And, of course, the thing that greatly amuses me is, they graduated with me from the Prep...and now are teaching/administering campus ministry programs.

The history of the Alumni Service Corps is a somewhat interesting one. From what I understand, it was originally formed a little under 10 years ago as a program to reintroduce younger faculty as mentoring figures for the high school students. With fewer numbers of Jesuit Scholastics available, the Prep decided to take on groups of about 4 recent college graduates every year, to come back to the Prep, teach and do service. This is, all in all, a great thing, even greater, that four of my friends from the Prep are now teaching there-- two from homeroom 1G, two from homeroom 1F.

The occassion for visiting the Prep was the alumni program Wednesday Night Jug. For those not familiar with that particular term, "Jug" is the term for detention, within the Prep, and presumably many other Jesuit high schools. This particular event, cleverly named, takes place every Wednesday before Thanksgiving. There is beer, food, friends and much rejoicing. One moment that stands out in my memory was when someone described the Prep student's section during a half time show by the opposing team. From what the alum recalled, it involved all of the Prep kids pulling out newspapers, and turning away from the group on the field.

To quote Ernie (I believe it was):

One thing you get to experience at the Prep and perhaps at no other time in your entire life, is the absolute certainty that truly, you are better than everyone else.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Three words I have for you...

Brian was explaining a message that JP recently left him. Though not verbatim, it went something like this:

"Brian. I have three words for you. They are three important words, and I'm not quite sure how you'll feel about me afterwards. These words have destroyed many a man, or at the very least, caused him to go crying home. And I'm sending them to you right now. To the bar. Bye."

JP was referring to Ye Old Alehouse, basically, a pub, on Germantown Pike. It is across the street from a Wawa, about three blocks away from Brian's house, and as JP has adequately termed it, at this point, it is, quite simply, "the bar." When people talk about "the bar," that's what they mean. (Following up on that anecdote, Brian went on..."And all the time this was going on, I was thinking of all the words that JP could possibly be thinking of...it's....I love you?...or....You are fat?....or...You are gay.").

In terms of atmosphere, it is somewhat hard to describe...but perhaps not at all, if in your home town you have an equivalent local pub/tavern that is also something of a sports bar, and also at times a family restaurant. It is not by any stretch of the imagination a large establishment, and the decor likely has not changed much in the past twenty years. Some of the adults there (it's not much of a hang out for college/post-college age twent-somethings) have most likely been going there for the past twenty years anyway. Why change horses in mid stream. The only thing that is particularly "Olde" about it is the facade, which resembles something of white stucco, with distinctively "European," or at least, "very old" looking effects done through beams along the edges of the structure and underlining the windows. If I knew more about Scandanavia, I'd say it looked Scandanavian. If I knew more about the building itself, I'd feel more secure in conjecturing that it was not built by Scandanavians.

This is actually a curious thought-- is its a reproduction of a style of architecture, or does it actually go as far back in Plymouth Meeting history as its facade would attempt to suggest.

The bar itself is a nicely large affair, much different from the bar against the wall that's pretty much the same around the Fordham area. The bar is in the center, curving around in a diner-counter kind of fashion, such that about 6 folks can sit around one actual corner of the bar, and not have to lean over and shout down the way just to talk to someone, just talk across the space as if they were at a round table.

When you ask for "Lager," they know you mean Yuengling- it is on tap. It comes in pints. It is about $3. And it is good. Fries, as they would anywhere else, come in a basket, oily and crunchy all at the same time. I would not be so apt to notice this, except for that not a day or two before, I was in the cafeteria, eating french fries from a plastic basket with perhaps even the same paper lining, that could, in no possible way, compare with what I was eating at the bar.

Around another end of the bar, I noticed the father of one of the kids I went to grade school with. That same father also coached (and perhaps, still does) the Instructional Basketball League, for kids aged Kindergarten through Fourth or Fifth grade. I didn't say hi, just because I'm not qutie sure how much would have come from that but an awkward hello (I don't recall ever having talked much with him before).

By way of contrast, I can't think of another place where the same group of people would seem quite as at home. P.J. Whelihan's is a happening joint for young hipsters, especially of our age, but I can't see that comparing in any way. The Blue Bell Inn has an intruiging log cabin sort of feel inside, close, but no cigar. And McGregor's, the former favorite hang out, has since burned down. I don't know if there are any plans up and coming for it, but the bulldozer out front is likely not a good sign.

Torn crimson vinyl booths, a long stretch of bar, wood paneled walls, and wall sconces from the 1970s at least...pretty much sums up "the bar."

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Fun Blog Fact

A funny thing I just remembered. After Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, personnel from University of Loyola, New Orleans, used a blogger.com blog as the university's unofficial website. It was rather interesting, because it was updated rather regularly, and over the course of days, you could see the information start to pour in. Administrators, faculty and staff used it as a means to "get a head count" of how everyone was doing, and where they were staying in the country in the interim. I'm not sure if the site is still up. The feasibility of it seemed to come to a standstill at one point, though, because one section of the blog got so filled with updates/addresses/contact info, it resembled more of an open ended forum for any information whatsoever, rather than serving its directory function. I'm assuming the administrators posted login/password info in order to allow people to make their posts.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Weekend

In a word, kind of fabulous. Friday night...You Can't Take It With You, followed by a cast party that ranks very highly on the "Totally Awesome Parties" scale.

Follow up on Saturday was an a cappella concert in the Martyr's Lounge, featuring the B-Sides, the Satin Dolls and a group from Drew University. All was well, and it quite simply rocked...again, another Belmont party to follow...and today...another run through The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Second time I've seen it, and probably like a lot of other movies I've tended to like, more enjoyable second time through. And perhaps with company-- I had gone on my own to a big ol' Times Square theater last spring to make sure I'd catch it while it was still in the theater.

And what am I doing, you ask? Well, I'm still awake because I decided at 11PM to do life maintenance, clean up my unnecessarily large, yet rather unkept room, and, you know, sort of get desk and things in order. And then I wanted something to eat, so there was nothing in the snack department, so I boiled some gnocchi that was in a packet in the freezer. And that stuff is heavy-- potato in pasta, which probably equals spawn of satan to those of the low carb variety (an approach to eating that, no offense, I find to be crap-- an excuse to eat lots of things that are, in large doses, bad for you [eg, bacon, meats, oily foods], so that you eat a lot less of things that are good for you [breads, rice, and rice]). I'm no expert, and I will say for myself that I am simply indescriminate of what sort of food I put into my person.

Supposedly you shouldn't sleep right after you eat. That stuff is still sitting heavy in the stomach.

Hm.

For lack of taking a constitutional (I know, I know...I love this time of night in the Bronx, too)...I'll sit here and do homework that will make up for the extra hour I'll probably sleep through tomorrow.

Aren't you so glad this form of publishing information exists. So that both you. And I. Can share this moment. Together. Would you like a cheese sandwich?

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Ambient music

I'm listening to the iTunes radio station Limbik Frequencies, under the ambient music section. I originally thought that "Ambient" meant all sorts of techno/electronic music, which I don't particularly have a taste for. But this is actually more "ambient music" in the way that the soundtrack to a techno-thriller is ambient music...or the soundtrack for an adventure computer game of sorts. So now here I am typing on a computer...and there's this music playing in the background that makes me feel really cool while doing it. It makes me kind of not want to leave.
Justification for having a blog. It is a form that I have made lots and lots and lots of fun of in times past. This is true. Especially "blogs" under the title "LiveJournal" (I'm not sure which preceded the other). My basic issues with it broke down into two parts:

(1) The nature of a journal is private. So why are you typing something "private" and then putting it on the internet where absolutely everyone can read it?

(2) The presumption involved in assuming people want to read exactly what you did today, etc etc etc.

I think the first part is what I took issue with more than the second. Especially if issues discussed were excessively private, which is awkward though at times humorous to read. And especially if someone's going to take issue with people for reading or commenting on private things that the writer published on the internet already. Andrea McWethy's journal was the gold standard for this, and has since, I believe, become private.

And then, of course, I made a webpage but didn't want to call it a blog, so I was hypocritical in all but name only, which doesn't make too much sense...and then I got lazy with dealing with formatting, so I just did this instead.

So from having gone from mocking critic to casual appreciator to writer myself. Some things make this ok in my mind...the first issue, I will still stand by- a weblog is not just a journal, or a "livejournal" (whatever that's supposed to mean), but a public journal. And that must be taken into account. Unless you want everyone to know your private issues, just don't put them up for display. But of course, if you do, feel free. That's just not for me. For that same reason I never included particularly personal things on my website. So someone could learn about me, but things I wouldn't talk about in casual conversation with someone, I wouldn't publish on the internet.

Additionally, between Freshman year and the present, there've definitely been a handful of blog type sites that I've particularly enjoyed, and this addresses issue number two. Is it presumptious to assume that people actually want to read your stuff? Not at all! A few examples of consistently kept, interesting blogs spring to mind, e.g. those of Laura D'Amico, Mary Meler, and Kevin Howard (though Kevin's site for any number of reasons is in a different category of its own). And so maybe people might want to read what I write, and it's not particularly arrogant for me to think that that's the case.

It seems, too, that the "blog" is a new type of expressive medium with its own tricks and quirks. It has already gained some level of national acceptance as a new form of journalism, perhaps in a similar way that Wikipedia, for me, is becoming an acceptable research tool...facts and details can't be guaranteed to be correct absolutely...but it's a direction and a place to start. As someon who doesn't write essays, opinion articles or anything else of the like for people to read, maybe this is a useful medium to exercise that sort of thing. Or just aimlessly talk about my day, or myself. Whichever.

The only potential annoying thing I can see here is if, in casual conversation with persons, I tend to repeat the same things that they may have read from this site. That would be really annoying, and if this happens in conversation, please tell me.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Recent Posts. Archives. Sure. Great. Just go ahead and do that. Scoundrelous subtopics masquerading as the full bodied signatures of our founding fathers. Founding fathers. Intelligent design- euphemism for creationism, compromise, or a genuinely new topic? Discuss amongst yourselves. And then e-mail me. Wait, no...don't e-mail me...write your idea on an index card. And then put it on your pillow. And then when you sleep at night, trust me. I'll get it.

In reflection

What's this template supposed to be. The f'in declaration of independence?