Saturday, June 18, 2005

Game, Set and Uuuungh!

A Wimbledon chief referee wants female tennis players to cut back on the grunting. Are you kidding? They would lose half of their 21-25 male demographic! Ok, I'm a facecious twit, but seriously, is this a problem? Is this just another case of an old-guard sportsman getting all bent out of shape because 'his' sport isn't what it used to be? That's what it sounds like to me anyway. Maybe it's another bit of fallout from Title 9 - These women aren't being women-ly enough! and they're getting more popular than the men!

Things Move Fast Here. Almost Too Fast...

I got an itinerary for my late summer trip. I guess that means I'm going, right? I should mention that I'm the kind of guy who denies any possibility of good news even after it's obvious to the rest of the world. Naturally, I'm still skeptical. Why would these people want to get some random grad student and send him half-way across the globe for two weeks. Feed him, show him the sights. No strings? Here are my thoughts:
  • indoctrinate - Scientology?
  • They're trying to sell me something - Time share?
  • They're at the end of the budget cycle and need to dump cash.
  • They know what a wonderful guy I am, and just want to be kind.
  • They need me off campus so they can muscle in on my territory while I'm gone. (Note: I have no territory)
  • It's all an illusion and a figment of my imagination.

Ache in '08

On CNN's Capital Gang, they're talking about Hillary in '08. The way things stand now, I would probably vote for her. From what I know of her policies and voting, I think we could do a lot worse. I do have one huge problem though. Can we not get someone who isn't related to an ex-president? Thank goodness that Jeb has said several time that he won't run (we'll see how that holds up). I think 3 terms of Bushes and 2 of Clintons are enough, don't you? I know it's too much to ask to get someone completely new and fresh. It's too much to ask for someone who could be attracive to many different kinds of voters.

But could we please get someone at least not tied by blood to an ex-pres?

Friday, June 17, 2005

Happy day! It looks like the prof who wanted help on her article likes what I've done so far, so I'm probably going to have some more of that kind of work this summer. The application for late summer travel is in, and the process is extremely odd, but prospects look ok on that front. I'm still woefully unprepared for class, which starts next Monday, but all in all, things look ok.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Summer thoughts

Hmmm, things may be becoming more complicated late this summer. Can't say for sure, but I may be getting on the road a bit. We'll see. Others seem convinced it's a 'in the bag' kind of thing, but I take pride in hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. If it does happen, it may cause a bit of scheduling trouble for my summer classes, but I think it would be worth the grief.

Speaking of the worst, I was getting ready to prepare for this summer's class of doom. I've taken intro level classes on the topic, but I seem to have lost my paperwork from the earlier classes, so I can't really review much. I'm going to get hammered. Absolutely hammered.

Also, I don't know what to bring for the photography class. Should I bring my camera? probably yes. All my gear? probably not. I don't want to look too much like the geek showing off ont he first day. Film? I'm not sure. I know we're doing black and white, but I don't know what ISO or anything. Should be fun though.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Overread at the Movies!

I’ve had a little bit of extra time lately, so I’ve been off to the movies. I’m going to try to give review-ish type accounts here, but I should warn you that I’m very bad at it. I give generally give away spoilers and pay far too much attention to things that other people don’t care about and ignore what is ‘important.’ I also love bad movies. That should let you know that I’m not the best guy to give a movie review, but I’m going to anyway. So, with that self-protective caveat, I give you:

Overread at the Movies!

First off, the cinema near me is not a very good one. I should be happy enough – it’s got stadium seating and it’s clean, but it’s a soulless hulk of a Hollywood shill. All the big films come there and nothing with less than a huge release gets anywhere near it. To get to the cinemas that play thoughtful films or anything foreign, I have to take a 30 minute – 1 hour bus ride. I don’t do that much.

So, anyway, the preshow has turned into a full on ad-fest, which I don’t really mind so much, but I kinda miss the trivia that I remember other cinemas showing. Here it seems to have been replaced with screensavers. I kid you not. Between every third of fourth ad, there is a little 3-D pipe sculpture or a pulsating blob like you used to see at 70’s discos. Well, maybe you saw them there.

I gave up trying to find out who the best local realtor is, and relied on my cell-phone for entertainment while I waited. No, it wasn’t set on vibrate, it’s a little poker game. Come to think of it, that doesn’t sound very wholesome either.

Ok, Part the first:


I love trailers. They are the only part of most movies that I see, because so many movies are just so bad, but I love trailers for the bad movies just as much as the good ones. Highlights:

The Dukes of Hazard

First off, I really don’t want to like this. I really don’t want to. But it looks funny. Kenny Rogers as Uncle Jesse and Burt Reynolds as Boss Hogg? Ok, I’m showing my white trash heritage, but that’s funny already. I can’t imagine it will do well, so maybe it’ll be a quick trip to TBS, but then again, I never would have bet on the NASCAR thing working out as big as it has.

Dark Water

This one actually had me laughing. It’s a horror story about, as near as I can tell, A WATER LEAK. Horrifying, eh? Actually I think there could be more of these movies in a series. Anyone who has rented in New York could testify to the terror of The Copper Pipes or Pre-War Wiring. That’s some seriously scary stuff.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Holy crap. Is that really Johnny Depp’s voice? I’ll go watch this one, no matter what. I don’t even have to think twice about that. I loved this movie the first time around, and just like the good little consumer I am, I always go out and see the remakes of my childhood fantasies. I’m almost always devastated about how they’ve destroyed the memory of it all, and this’ll probably be like that too, but hey, it looks pretty good right now. Who wouldn’t want to see that little girl turn into a blueberry again?

The Fantastic Four

Ok, I’m pretty skeptical of this one. It just looks bad. I try not to be overly critical about computer graphics, but this one just looks bad. The Thing looks… too cartoony next to the clarity of all the other more human-esqe characters. I still may go to see this one, because, like I said, I enjoy having my childhood fantasies crushed, but my expectations are pretty low.

War of the Worlds

Eh. I’m not sure why, but I can’t seem to get into this one. Maybe it's Tom Cruise, whom I think I've just seen enough of. Maybe it's the overly prepared hype machine that's been unleashed. Maybe it's just because the trailer looks really bad.



I’m a sucker for cartoons, what can I say. That’s all this was too, just an hour and a half cartoon. The acting was standard and stereotypical. Nothing really stuck out as particularly good or bad, which is a win for Dreamworks, I'm sure. There were a couple of audio jokes, and other stuff aimed at the parents, as well as the standard crotch-kicking humor. I’m not saying it was bad by any means. Obviously, Pixar has set the bar much higher than Dreamworks cares to jump, but this is a funny movie, if you aren’t looking for anything more than pretty shallow stuff. Full points for the ‘Great Escape’ penguins. They threatened to steal the show every time they showed up.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

This was great mindless summer film fun. It is exactly what you think it’s going to be about. The husband and wife are hired killers, but neither one knows the other one’s job. They end up ordered to kill each other, and then have to fend off the hundreds who come to kill them. What I think is actually a step above about this movie is that it really tries to be funny. It doesn’t just throw in a couple of jokes. It’s truly committed to being funny. This may not work for a lot of people. You got your comedy stuck in my action film. You got your action film stuck in my comedy. The only other movie I can think of that tried that True Lies. Very funny stuff - and no need to engage the brain.

Batman Begins

Again, I’m a sucker for this kind of stuff, but I was very sad about Batmans 2,3,4… have there been 4? I forget. There was probably a direct to video starring Keanu Reeves as Batman and that Nanny woman as Batgirl. Oh, god. There was Catwoman. Oh. God, was that awful. I mean I’m all for getting Halle Berry in a leather outfit, but maybe take the money you used to hire her and get a 2nd tier actor and use the rest to get a writer? Ok, back to this Batman. It’s good. It feels a lot different than the previous ones, which is good. It also doesn’t seem beholden to necessarily fit in with the worlds crated in the other movies, which is also very good. Comic book writers learned long ago that you should write whatever you want. Maybe it’s another universe. Maybe it’s an alternate Batman. Who cares, just get rid of all that baggage from the earlier bad movies and write something good. This one’s got a lot less fantasy than any of the previous movies. It’s still completely unbelievable, but they do put a lot more time into the characters, which is a quaint, underused gambit in movies of late. Just to prove how much this stuff has sunk into my brain, every time there was a shot of the Wayne mansion, all I could hear in my head was the announcer from the TV show saying ‘Stately Wayne Manor.’ That’s not healthy, right?
One last thing - I guess this is proof that I'm getting old. The fight and chase sequences are truly cut so fast as to be nearly incomprehensible.

Now that I look at all that, I guess they’re not really reviews at all, are they? More like impressions. I probably should have called them impressions instead of reviews. I should come up with a scale… Stars? Points?

Trailers (interest out of ten)

The Dukes of Hazzard

What I tell people – 2

What I really think – 6

Dark Water

If only it were Dark Crystal, now that was a good movie – 1

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Pre MJ trial – 8

Post MJ trail – 6

The Fantastic Four

Flame Off! – 4 (appropriate, no?)

War of the Worlds

Maybe I just have too many Thetans? – 5

Movies (Entertainment out of ten)


Pixar, it ain’t – 6

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Ok, She is gorgeous, but those lips are just huge! – 8

Batman Begins

Even though the name sounds like a Pre-K alphabet game - 7

With Appologies to Mr. Sandburg

In some parts of the world, fog may come in on little cat’s feet, but here it arrives like a tidal wave. It comes in from all directions and there’s no escape. The fog slowly cuts off your scenery. You used to be able to see the city. You used to be able to see the mountains. You used to be able to see your house.

I love the fog. Riding home in the middle of it is wonderful. It’s chilly enough to be shocked by the little water droplets all over your face.

Run is the Loneliest Number That You've Ever Heard

5k - 26:52

ugh. I felt so slow. Legs like lead.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Ok, I Swear This Isn't All I've Been Doing All Day

I blame Cheeky Prof for leading me to this site.

It's embarrassing that I took the test, but I'm happy with the results - I guess that's pretty embarrassing too :)

Monday, June 13, 2005

Is No One Safe?

The BBC World Service is leading with the Michael Jackson verdict.

EDIT: And thier listeners are giving them hell about it. They've already read a couple of emails that ask for the BBC to get back to 'real' news.

Phlegm at Eleven

I know it is supporting what I hate by even mentioning this, but I caught about 30 minutes of the Michael Jackson coverage today, and I just shook my head. Who declared that this was news?

When the verdict had decided, but not yet announced, CNN (and I'm sure all of the others) had a camera on the cars that were driving Michael to the courthouse. They were wondering which car he was in (do they need all those SUVs to get there?). Maybe he'll be late. Maybe this is the last time he'll see Neverland Ranch.

I honestly heard Wolf Blitzer say (words to the effect of), "And there you are - the motorcade is getting ready to take a right-hand turn. That's a right-hand turn onto another highway."

Someone needs to slap that man. "You worked the Pentagon, you tool. Get a grip on yourself, man. You used to be respectable, and now you are announcing the play-by-play for a 30 minute commute?"

Isn't there a war going on somewhere?

The Good, The Bad and the Ones Without Theses

Grading got finished today, and I am very happy to be done. I actually read a chapter of the Anthony Burgess book over there ( --->) during lunch. As much as I really love what I do, it's so nice to read something that's not directly tied to it.

All in all, the papers were pretty horrific, but I guess I expected that. I patiently await the wailings of the graded.

Now, I've got to get on to the project helping a prof with the article. Then I get to review matierial for the summer class that's going to kick my ass. Then I'll work on my own stuff.

Which basically means I think I'm going to go see a movie. I think Mr and Mrs Smith opened yesterday. That sounds like some good mindless violence. That may be what I need right now.

Dance Ten, Looks Three, Run - 26:29

5k - 26:29

Whew! I made it in under 27! I think that's going to be the benchmark for a little bit. I learned again that being lazy on Friday doesn't help the Monday run. I imagine I'll be learning that lesson pretty often. It was pretty chilly and humid out. I think I can add those to my excuses too.

5 points for anyone who can identify the allusion in the title

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Beware: Here Be Rambling

No blog yesterday. Does this mean I’m starting to lose interest? I don’t think it is, but I have a bad habit of starting something with great enthusiasm and then trailing off. We’ll see if that is the case here.

Even though I’ve got a big stack of papers to grade, I’m still procrastinating. They are actually quite short (too short if you ask me, but I don’t write the prompts), and since this is the final paper, my comments don’t have to be as detailed. If the students didn’t read or pay attention to my pleadings after the earlier papers, I can’t really help them any more this time ‘round.

I did discover that I’ve got a nasty reputation among the students though. I found out through a couple of sources that I grade ‘too hard.’ I believe this stems from me actually asking the students to make a try at coherence and grammar. Silly me.

Ok, now on to the reason I started this post in the first place. Yesterday, there was a nice get-together for the grad folks and a couple of faculty. Incidentally, this makes for a great excuse for not grading papers. Naturally, much of what we talked about was school and our related shticks. One of my friends there was talking about how the Women’s Studies classes were coming under siege from conservative activists who would take the classes and try to undermine the teacher.

[I deleted a story about a TA who got called a communist and fascist (neat trick, that) because the student thought he was preaching liberalism in class. I decided that as interesting as the story was, it isn’t needed, and the details were perhaps a bit too detailed.]

I’m not a fan of conspiracies at all, but I’m not really surprised about this at all. If the situation were reversed, I would hope that liberals would challenge teachers in the classes (hopefully within the context of the class). All in all, I don’t think it’s such a bad idea for conservative students to speak up and have a good debate in classes that are designed to support that. What I think is unfortunate is if students are taking classes specifically because they dispute the validity of the class itself. That, I think, would simply lead to disruption for the students who took the class out of interest.

I think it is a fallacy to say that politics has no place in the classroom. I think it’s condescending to see college students as being so naïve or malleable that a liberal (or conservative) professor will either destroy their learning experience or twist them to the dark side, whichever side that may be.

I’m not sure there is an overriding point to all this. I think my campus has never been a very politically active one, and it is becoming so. Maybe I’m not so worried because I am part of the vast liberal academic machine. Ask me again when they open a George W. Bush School of Elocution.