The Phantom City

Notes from our travels across a mysterious world.

Category: Arts & Literature (page 1 of 16)

Where’s Miranda?

On Hulu, and it’s a truly excellent show. 🙂

Greet a blade of grass

Okay, I’ll freely admit when I first saw this video, my immediate reaction was that I was going to put it on my blog and snark on it. Let’s face it, it sounds like a Unitarian Universalist hymn, and they put the lyrics in the video so there’s no mistaking that you just heard “Mother Eve and Father Pine.”

That being said, here are a few reasons I present this video without snark for your actual enjoyment:

  • I’m a sucker for symphonic metal, and Nightwish is really good at it. There are some great songs on this album.
  • They’re fully committed, and there’s something charming about that. Seriously, this is from a concept album themed around science and reason. They might be marketing geniuses who know exactly what they’re doing after 20 years, but they’re willing to put it all out there.
  • This song has the word “eukaryote” in it.
  • I’m pretty sure their latest lead singer is a Valkyrie…and you can’t teach that.

Oh, I’ll be free

Rest in peace, David Bowie.

Rest in Peace, Christopher Lee and Dusty Rhodes

These two men had more of an effect on my life than you’d think.

No more Folding@home on the PS3

Well, there goes my sense of social contribution. Sony will be removing the Life with Playstation client from the PS3 with the 4.30 update. The client, which contributed processing time on the PS3 to medical research using folding protein models, was used by around 15 million people to contribute over 100 million hours of calculations.

My system has a little over 500 nights’ worth of calculations under its belt, which would be about 3000 hours. I figure my function has been to supply money for power for the PS3 to keep doing important work. Now what’s my purpose, and what’s it going to do? 🙂

Here’s hoping Sony changes their mind, or figures out some other way to use those processing cycles.

Courtesy of The Escapist.

Game of Thrones, out today

I’m speaking as a fan of the books, but I have to say Game of Thrones, Season One, is one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Take the acting from Battlestar Galactica, give it the narrative direction you can only get from an established story, and you get ten episodes of compelling television. (DVD and Blu-ray sets out today.)

My impressions:

  • You don’t need to have read the books to enjoy the show. They do a fair amount of exposition during the storyline.
  • “They got their True Blood in my Game of Thrones!” Not sure why HBO figured we wouldn’t pay attention to the exposition scenes without a naked woman wandering around, but the nudity wasn’t as exaggerated as I thought from earlier reviews. And, yes, for those who’ve read the books, they show Hodor’s hodor.
  • That being said, is it kid-appropriate? Nope. Too many throats getting sliced.
  • The producers took the opportunity to add in a few non-expository scenes that I don’t think were in the books. They should have been.
  • Having living actors added a new dimension to some of the books’ more one-dimensional characters.
  • Heck, the Lannister kids are even better, and they were good in the books. Cersei is a lot better when being played by Lena Headey. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime is excellent, and Peter Dinklage would have been the perfect choice to play Tyrion even if he’d been 6’4″.
  • As in the books, a friendly warning: Don’t get too attached to any characters. GoT has the approximate mortality rate of the actual Middle Ages.
  • Update: Almost forgot: It does continue the GoT tradition of moms are crazy.

And, for anyone who has already seen Season One, here’s the Season Two trailer (starts April 1):

Thoughts upon seeing Crank (2006)

What…What was…I don’t…Who’s that…What happened?

Now, for post-Crank thoughts, here are my reasons why Crank should have been nominated in several Oscar categories.

Best Screenplay: I didn’t understand half of the words Jason Statham was saying, and there were so many characters I had no idea what most of them were doing in the movie. This is similar to my past experiences with Shakespeare.

Best Actor: Chev Chelios needs to keep moving and keep his adrenaline pumping to survive. Bringing this character to life is an impressive achievement, largely due to the fact that actor Jason Statham normally never seems to get more excited than, say, Clint Eastwood. One assumes, given the fast pace of the movie and what people would normally call “dialogue,” that Statham actually took some sort of drug to speed up his metabolism and risk his life, and one has to admire that sort of commitment to the craft.

Best Supporting Actor: Dwight Yoakam creates a character by literally phoning in his lines. I’ve never seen anyone do that before. Now, in this category there could be competition from some of his own Crank castmates. After all, you can’t completely discount the performances of The Guy Who Played Pedro In Napoleon Dynamite (Efren Ramirez) and The Guy Who Played Weevil In Veronica Mars (Francis Capra). But I’d give it to Dwight.

Best Supporting Actress: Amy Smart is so natural in the role of Eve it’s almost like she didn’t realize she was in a movie. I don’t think she did. I think, during the take, Jason Statham just showed up at her apartment and she improvised as well.

Best Cinematography: One take, ninety minutes of following an adrenaline-fueled Jason Statham around while he’s improvising. ‘Nuff said.

Best Director: True, it might seem easy to take that screenplay and those actors and turn out the best movie of the year, but directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor took it all one step farther: They were brave enough to have a word appear, most of the way through the movie, for one second, floating by itself on Statham’s forehead, with no real context or precedent. How often do you see that? Martin Scorsese didn’t do it. Neveldine and Taylor did.

Best Foreign Language Film: There were smatterings of English, but that shouldn’t disqualify it. This movie’s native tongue was the whole-body sign language called Action!

Best Picture: Not Crank. Apocalypto. Apocalypto is like historic Crank, and history always makes films better.

Did you miss one of the great films of our generation in theaters? Not to worry. April, 2009…CRANK: HIGH VOLTAGE!

Batwoman…Outed Very Slowly

Am I missing something here? There’s a brief news flurry today about Batwoman being the first gay superhero. I realize the actual story is that DC is going to feature her as the lead in Detective Comics, but the current Batwoman incarnation has been “out” since 2006, as far as I know.

Not to mention the current version of The Question, Northstar, Midnighter and Apollo, one version of Catwoman, Scandal Savage, Flatman, Obsidianthe list just keeps going.

It’s interesting that DC is turning one of their flagship comics over to a gay character for a while, but I suspect sales, her place in the DC Universe, and the writing won’t be much different than if, say, Nightwing was going to be the star. (No, he’s not gay. Ignore the costume.) 😉

A good speech, for all the blood

Theodore Roosevelt’s speech in 1912, just after he had been wounded by a would-be assassin:

Now, I would not speak to you insincerely within five minutes of being shot. I am telling you the literal truth when I say my concern is for many other things. It is not in the least for my own life….

I don’t know who the man was who shot me to-night…. He shot to kill me. He shot the bullet. I am just going to show you (Col. Roosevelt then unbottoned coat and vest and showed his white shirt badly stained with blood)….

Now, I wish to say seriously to the speakers and newspapers representing the Republican and Democratic and Socialist Parties that they cannot, month in and month out, year in and year out, make the kind of slanderous, bitter, and malevolent assaults that they have made and not expect that brutal and violent characters, especially when the brutality is accompanied by a not too strong mind….

Don’t you pity me. I am all right. I am all right, and you cannot escape listening to my speech either….

I wish to say that the Progressive Party is making its appeal to all our fellow citizens without any regard to their creed or to their birthplace….

In New York, while I was Police Commissioner, the two men from whom I got the most assistance were Jacob Riis, who was born in Denmark, and Oliver von Briesen, who was born in Germany, both of them as fine examples of the best and highest American citizenship as you could find in any part of this country….

At one time I promoted five men for gallantry on the field of battle…. two of them were Protestants, two Catholics, and one a Jew. One Protestant came from Germany and one was born in Ireland. I did not promote them because of their religion, it just happened that way. If all of them had been Jews, I would have promoted them, or if all had been Protestants I would have promoted them, or if they had been Catholics….

I ask that in our civic life that we in the same way pay heed only to the man’s quality of citizenship—to repudiate as the worst enemy that we can have whoever tries to get us to discriminate for or against any man because of his creed or his birthplace…. in the same way I want our people to stand by one another without regard to differences of class or occupation. I have always stood by the labor unions…. It is essential that there should be organization of labor…..

Now, the Democratic party in its platform and through the utterances of Mr. Wilson has distinctly committed itself to the old flintlock, muzzle-loaded doctrine of States’ rights, and I have said distinctly we are for people’s rights. We are for the rights of the people. If they can be obtained best through National Government, then we are for national rights. We are for people’s rights however it is necessary to secure them.

Mr. Wilson has made a long essay against Senator Beveridge’s bill to abolish child labor. It is the same kind of argument that would be made against our bill to prohibit women from working more than eight hours a day in industry. It is the same kind of argument that would have to be made; if it is true, it would apply equally against our proposal to insist that in continuous industries there shall be by law one day’s rest in seven and three-shift eight-hour day….

I ask you to look at our declaration and hear and read our platform about social and industrial justice and then, friends, vote for the Progressive ticket without regard to me, without regard to my personality, for only by voting for that platform can you be true to the cause of progress throughout this Union.

A Few Choice Words of Peggle Wisdom

“There are times when total serenity isn’t enough. At such times I scarf a cheeseburger and fall asleep for the rest of the afternoon.”

– Master Hu, the Peggle Owl

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