Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Review of Amistad

Well, I know this movie came out 10 years ago (really!)--and for that matter, I got it from Netflix over a month ago--but I just got around to seeing it tonight. So here goes:

This is a pretty good movie. Turns out, Matthew McConaughey could act. I was surpised. Overall, it's a bit of a downer--what with it being about slavery and all--but it definitely has its moments.

Of course, part of the reason I like it is because of my avowed status as a history nerd. If you don't enjoy jokes at Martin Van Buren's expense, for example, you might not appreciate the movie quite as much. Which would be a shame, because there's a lot of mileage in making fun of Martin Van Buren.

Ooh, and then there's the whole reason I really wanted to see this movie: John Quincy Adams, baby! It's not every day that you come across a film featuring our sixth president in a major role. And he is played by none less than Anthony Hopkins. However, although Sir Anthony is a very fine actor, he does contribute to some of the unintentional humor of the film when on some occasions he seems to be giving JQA an Irish accent. Also, I think that when he asked the director what his motivation was, the director said something along the lines of, "OK, picture this: you're an old coot."

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit it's a very talk-y movie (Blah blah blah freedom, blah blah blah executive branch shouldn't boss around the judicial, blah blah blah legal system loopholes, etc.). However, the movie opens with some good old-fashioned stabbing, so . . . something for everyone! I mean, I'm no Matthew McConaughey fan usually, but even I have to admit that he's pretty endearing with his charmingly twee glasses and white man's afro.
In short, 7 out of 10. Or B+. Whichever you prefer.
(I know that a 70% doesn't equate to a B+; I also don't care.)
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Monday, May 28, 2007

Ah, Wisconsin

What I actually heard on one of those teaser commercials for the local news, regarding Madison's bratwurst festival:
"Tonight at 9: The cost of brats has jumped fifty cents since last year. Why the price hike could jeopardize beating the world record at Brat Fest!"
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Silly Google

I am often amused by the "Sponsored Links" that Google provides alongside my email messages. But today was the first time that I actually uttered a small cry of fright at one of them: "Bagpipes Ringtone."
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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Keeping Up With My Correspondence

Dear Bus People,

I worry about you. Why do you so often reek of alcohol at 10 o'clock in the morning? You may need to get some help. (And I definitely need to start sitting towards the front of the bus.)


* * * * * * *

Dear Avril Lavigne,

We need to talk about your current single, "Girlfriend." I enjoy it, I must admit. It's very catchy, what with the cheerleadery, Oh-Mickey-you're-so-fine-you're-so-fine-you-blow-my-mind-Hey-Mickey!-esque feel. But here's the thing. I know you're only 22, but you're a married lady now. Haven't you outgrown lyrics like "Hell yeah, I'm the *#^%!&~{@>#* princess"? Not to mention "She's like so whatever"? Maybe it's all ironic and I'm just not getting it. However, I'm thinking that the Fug Girls are right, and you're just sleepwalking through being the same old Avril.

I like you, Avril. I know not everyone would agree with me, but I think you've got some talent and, dare I say it, a lot of potential yet to use. But you can't keep being the same angry teenage girl forever, honey. Embrace change! Grow! And stop pretending you're still 17, because it's only going to get sadder from here on out.


P.S. None of this means that I'm not going to buy your song on iTunes immediately after I post this correspondence. Because I am. This advice is about your best interests, not mine.
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Sunday, May 20, 2007

A Review of Shrek the Third

I went and saw Shrek the Third today with my gentleman caller. I made sure to read plenty of reviews (well, one thing that showed up on my Google News, in addition to the valuable resource that is Rotten Tomatoes), so I didn't set my expectations very high.

Here's the scoop: for a kids' movie, it's fine. It's solidly OK. There are some amusing gags--the seven lines John Cleese has are quite entertaining, and there are some ADORABLE ogre babies [no image available].

For a Dreamworks movie, it's pretty lackluster.

For a Shrek movie, it's--well, it's unacceptable.

I'm a big Shrek fan, as you may know. I love Shreks 1 and 2 (I remember them especially fondly for when they got me through my second throwing-out-my-back episode). They're so good. And 3 just isn't. The plot(s) are thin, the new characters are annoying, the old characters are cliches, and the storytelling is heavy-handed. And you know what? There are barely any pop culture references. I mean, it's a Shrek movie! You'd think if they were going to boil it down to anything, it would be a string of movie take-offs. Sure, there are one or two in there, but come ON. However, it's the clumsy storytelling that really started to annoy me, once I thought about it. Remember in the first Shrek, how hard a time Shrek had bonding with Donkey? Well, he goes through the same thing with Justin Timberlake, except five times as fast, four times as beat-you-over-the-head obviously, and with three times as much cloying dialogue. Plus, the movie as a whole doesn't gel; there are three main threads that seem like they just happen to be in the same movie. There are episodes of South Park with better-thought-out story arcs than this.

And here's another thing: Fiona bands together with a bunch of fairytale princesses, and they, like, go and fight; girl power, woo hoo. But if the film cares about girl power, why does the throne get left to either Shrek or Justin Timberlake? I guess Far Far Away has Salic Law, because (hello!) Fiona is the king's own daughter. Stupid sexist movie, assuming the throne ought to go to Shrek instead.

In conclusion--wait for it to come out on DVD. And don't be in a huge rush to rent it, even then.
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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

This is What Writing Papers Does to My Mind

Do you ever worry, when you add a word to your Microsoft Word dictionary, that it will backfire? For instance, I'm writing a paper that draws on the work of one Nicholas Henshall, and in order not to get a squiggly red line under his name over and over and over and over, I added "Henshall" to my dictionary. This means Word will never again zero in on "Henshall" and suggest alternatives, namely "Hen shall" or "Hens hall." So what if, in the future, I'm writing a paper about the societal features of some elaborate chicken coop and need to say "the hen shall not allow her plans to be thwarted," but I mess it up and put "henshall" because Word can no longer save me from that particular error?

It makes one's blood run cold, doesn't it?
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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Unhelpful Headlines

"Texas A&M graduates encouraged to embrace Aggie values"

For those who don't know, this is the equivalent of a story being published about any other university like so: "University graduates encouraged to set goals, succeed" or "Commencement speaker opines on past, future."

(Although it's still no "Stereotypes dehumanize, study finds.")
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Monday, May 7, 2007

Here They Are . . .

. . . The long awaited quiz answers. And, since it turns out that the quiz was really hard, I've decided to inflate the scores (good practice, if I ever get a job at an Ivy League school!) by increasing the points and giving partial credit. So here we go:

1. My new age: 24
2 points for knowing that I am now 2 dozen years old.

2. My many many t-shirts are: maroon
I have: 18
2 points for maroon; 2 points for my dad and Angela for 15, one point for Ross for saying 20 even though he didn't get the color right

3. My final score on Jeopardy!: -2000
2 points for -2000, 1 point for anything else less than zero
(That was kind of a trick question, since you couldn't let the fact that I BET IT ALL and lost it all on the Daily Double cloud your memory of me going ahead and missing the last question, too.)

4. Number of seasons of Friends and South Park: 7
2 points for 7; 1 point for 6 or 8

5. So, I tried to write a confusing question as clearly as I could, but I obviously failed, since only one person got the answer (bonuse excluded) completely right. Ergo, I'm giving points for the constituent parts.
Number after the name of my favorite King of England: 7, as in Henry VII.
One point for 7, and .5 for MacKenzie who knew it was 7, and then added a one because the wording was odd. (But not a whole point because she did--and was the only person to!--get the Acie part right, which was worded the same way.)
Order number of my favorite president: 2, as in John Adams.
One point for 2; .5 for 33, as in Harry Truman (close second!)
Number after the name of my favorite basketball player: 4, as in Acie Law IV.
One point for 4; .5 for 1, his jersey number, which is where almost everyone's minds went.
The total: 10
Two points for 10--go Angela!
My favorite Napoleon: 3, as in Napoleon III, one of the most amusing world leaders of the 19th Century.

For favorites, every correct answer is worth 2 points. No partial credit, because there are some things about which I must put my foot down. (And I can't really think of good second-place opinions for any of these. My favorites are just too good!)
6. Favorite Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (Episode V)
7. Favorite Harry Potter: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, a.k.a. the fourth one
8. Favorite member of Monty Python: Michael Palin (he's the cute one!)
9. Favorite sport with rackets: Badminton! (you know what? extra .5 for spelling. It's a tricky word.)
10. Favorite reality show: Project Runway

And now, the standings (um, but it may be totally wrong; you should probably check my math--if you're annoyed that this quiz was too hard to answer, you should take comfort in how hard it was to grade):
10th place: Token (5 points)
9th place: Molly (9)
8th place: Ross (9.5)
7th place: Lesley (10, but I'm going to ahead and award her another .5 for her reality show answer: "Who Wants to Sleep with William Daniels." Not that I'd actually go on that show. At eighty years old, he'd be kind of a creepy prize.)
6th place: Lindsay (11)
Tied for 5th place: Craig and Eric (11.5)
4th place: Nancy (13.5)
3rd place: Angela (14.5)
2nd place: MacKenzie (15)
and . . .
1st place: my dad, who got 16 but probably deserves 18.5 (I can't be completely certain because he didn't show his work on #5).

Thanks to all who participated in the 1st Annual Rachel's Birthday Challenge!
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you can't evaluate a sentence that you don't possess with your memory

. . . is the subject of a great piece of junk email I received today. The sender's name? "The canadian army makes war to the mentally sane people". I actually tried to read it, which was difficult, as you can tell from this excerpt:

"Sane doctors don't fight each other, not for economic motive, not forgeneral security motive respecting exact national and international rules;in any conflict almost one fighter is mentally insane. Communists andnazists are either mentally insane, or they got the reason. Kamikaze bombersare severe maniacs and agents of devil, enemies of their own god, lord ofmedicine."

How true that is.
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Saturday, May 5, 2007

Because Weird Al Makes Everything Better

Ever since my Regrettable Game Show Outcome, I have found this old favorite of mine newly (and strangely) comforting.

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Astronomy is Pretty Cool

I was reminded of that fact when I clicked this link, suggested to me (for reasons beyond my understanding) by Gmail (which does many things beyond my understanding, only a few of which are dumb and most of which are scarily ingenious**). Long story short, the link says that the Sun's core is probably spinning five times as fast as its outside. How can they tell? It's hard to say. Why should anyone care? Ditto. But I defy you to think it's an uncool piece of information.

I really really really wanted to be an astronomer when I grew up from about second to about eighth grade. That's an eternity in child years. This determination probably sprang from the fact that planets are pretty.

Planets are so fascinating; wonderful and horrible at the same time. And the wonder and the horror have the same reasons; they're so far and so massive and so alien. Can you imagine traveling to any of them? How long and lonely it would be, through those unimaginably vast expanses of nothingness that are still tiny gaps compared to the emptiness between stars, let alone between galaxies. Can you imagine being right above the surface of Jupiter, knowing that were you on its surface, its gravity would crush you but then again that there was no surface, only clouds and storms and swirling winds? How cold would Pluto* feel, if only you could survive it?

It's too bad astronomy involves so many numbers and stuff. Gross.

*If it was a planet when I memorized them in second grade, I say it's a planet now.

**I tell ya, all we can hope for is WHEN Google takes over the world, they'll be benevolent dictators. Odds are good!
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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

It's a Quiz!

Since my birthday is pretty much tomorrow, I decided that was a good excuse to make a quiz about myself and see if you, my internet people, would answer them. Whoever wins gets the internet equivalent of a cookie!

There are ten questions, with a possible total of 12 points. Answer in the comment section--I'm going to hide the answers until Saturday or so to keep people from metaphorically peeking at their neighbors' papers.

Facts and Figures
1. How old will I be on Thursday?
2. I have more t-shirts of this color than any other. By a whole lot. What is this color?
Bonus: how many of this color of t-shirt do I have? (The person or people to guess the closest gets the point.)
3. What was my final dollar amount when I was on Jeopardy!?
4. I own the same number of seasons of Friends as seasons of South Park on DVD. What is that number?
5. Take the number after the name of my favorite King of England
Multiply by the order number of my favorite US President
Subtract the number after the name of my favorite basketball player
What number do you get?
Bonus: divide it by the number of my favorite Napoleon!

In my opinion, what is the best:
6. Star Wars movie?
7. Harry Potter book? (I will accept ordinal answers, e.g. “the eighth one.” Don’t say “the eighth one,” though. Just a tip for the non-Harry Potter fans out there.)
8. Member of Monty Python?
9. Sport involving rackets?
10. Reality tv show?
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