Boss-across-the-hall update

Boss-across-the-hall: I got the last glue stick from the supply closet!
Me: We have glue sticks in the supply closet?
Boss-across-the-hall: Not anymore!

I’ve never needed a glue stick at this job, but if boss-across-the-hall has one, then I want one too. It’s very quiet over there. The door is halfway shut, but from what I can see, there is some kind of secret project involving the glue stick and a big database diagram. What could it be?

Two Man Gentleman Band

On Thursday night Northampton’s Iron Horse had a cozy, old-timey vibe—the perfect antidote to the cold, wet snowflakes falling outside. The Two Man Gentleman Band stole the show, covering just about every vice in their short set: fancy beer, chocolate milk, girls, prescription drugs, reefer, and tikka masala.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Last night a few of us had free tickets to Philadelphia’s premiere of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

I’m never on the list for anything, so I get excited about things like free movie premieres, even when the only giveaways are Disney stickers, a Strasburg Railroad pamphlet, and a bag of low-fat blueberry mini-muffins. Hitchhiker’s Guide isn’t as good as the book, of course–the key is to know that beforehand and just enjoy the movie for what it is. The film alternates between summer blockbuster fare, complete with gratuitous romantic storyline, and a smart, quirky spoof. It doesn’t succeed in either category, but it was a pleasant way to pass a few hours, and I enjoyed seeing how the book translates to the big screen.

Special thanks to Type E for the passes. Other Philly webloggers in attendance were Dave the Lunabomer (who gave the movie three out of five bananas) and Scott Blankbaby (who gave the movie a thumbs-up).

UPDATE: Almost forgot–Marvin, the clinically depressed robot, was excellent in this film.

Tasteless Americans

A Sassy J guest post!

Why does the U.S., supposed nation of so many cultures, ethnicities, and religious affiliations (or lack thereof), insist on dumbing down its taste buds? Why must fruit, such as the all-American apple, look perfect (Red Delicious or Fuji, which is half Red Delicious anyway) but taste so bland? What happened to misshapen, multi-colored, succulent apples–tart and sweet? This is the same for cheese, which should not taste like fat-injected plastic but actually have pungency, kick, bite, and be available in hundreds of varieties. And if one would chose to be a carnivore (I hope it is not disrespectful to the lovely Becky S, who does not partake, to mention meat in this blog), just travel anywhere in the world outside of the U.S., and you will discover flavor with your iron. I suppose Michael Jackson’s insistence on bleaching out his skin is part of this same phenomenon. Although I certainly don’t want to taste him.

A Thanksgiving scenario

Wouldn’t it be embarrassing if you were at a Thanksgiving celebration with smart and cultured people like college professors and opera singers and writers and astronomers, all of whom are connected to the best friends of the parents of someone you’re dating, and you accidentally sent a huge hunk of New Zealand cheddar flying across the living room, where it landed at the feet of a Department of Homeland Security employee who is probably adding you to a list of very dangerous people even as we speak?

Duchamp homage

An astute reader added some commentary to Tuesday’s water fountain art review:

…considering it is a signed receptacle of water with a drain, it may be a homage to Marcel Duchamp’s urinal (Oh knowledgeable blog mistress, please find a photo of the infamous urinal, 1917, and paste it in).

She’s right–I overlooked the Duchamp connection! Probably not a good idea to paste in someone else’s photo, though. Plus, we have such crazy copyright laws–is a urinal from 1917 in the public domain? Will the Duchamp estate sue me? If you really want to see the urinal, go here.

Stump blog

A recent NPR piece on John Kerry’s stump speech gave me an idea for saving enough time to read all those books: a stump weblog entry. Instead of writing something completely new each day, I’ll simply fire up the template, fill in a few key phrases, and voilá! The stump format goes something like this:

  • acknowledgements
  • joke
  • issues (emphasizing those important to the local population).

For example:

Good morning everyone! I’d like to thank each and every one of you for your support of Good Grief! It means a lot to me that you are here today. I’d also like to thank my hosts. So did everyone get a chance to check out The Onion this week? Homosexual tearfully admits to being governor of New Jersey? Good stuff. Not that there’s anything wrong with New Jersey.

Speaking of New Jersey.  As your blogger, I will fight for the rights of soulless office park inhabitants everywhere. I will strive to ensure that the business casual dress code does not deteriorate into a chaos of upturned collars, and I will make sure there is a falafel truck within walking distance of every cubicle. No worker will be left behind!

I, too, come from a soulless office park. Your roots are my roots. Your discarded potential is my discarded potential. Let us not quarrel over the coffee machine or the break room refrigerator or who has the worst commute. I promise to be a uniter, not a divider. You can count on me to reach across-the-hall to accomplish our goals without compromising our values and beliefs. Thank you, and God bless the blogosphere.

Syrianna and Match Point

It’s that wonderful time of the year, when the Oscar contenders are released to us little people who don’t live in New York or LA. I recently saw Syrianna, a political action flick about the oil business, and Match Point, Woody Allen’s new drama.

Thumbs-up to both movies, but Match Point is definitely the stronger of the two. The City Paper review was tepid and makes some interesting points about the role of women in Woody Allen movies, but judging the film in that context overlooks the fact that it is an excellent movie. The writing, the acting, the timing, the tension, the opera music–all good. Match Point was 124 engrossing minutes, and isn’t that one reason that people go to the movies?

For all the intensity of Match Point, however, it doesn’t cover any new material. The prominent and/or rising man encumbered with threatening female baggage is a recurring story:  think American Tragedy or Allen’s own Crimes and Misdemeanors. Enter Syrianna, which wasn’t as good overall but which raised some nagging questions, like how far would the US go to preserve its oil interests? For me, these kinds of questions are the second big reason for going to the movies: to be confronted with a different view or a challenging issue.

So. Match Point: engrossing, meticulously crafted movie about lust, greed, and luck. Syrianna: intriguing, somewhat scattered movie about the politics of oil, greed, and luck. The first sucks you in, and the latter makes you go hmmmm. Still on my list is Munich, which I’m hoping will do both. Has anyone seen it?

Arts pick: downward spiral

Today’s arts pick is another outdoor installation, this one representing the downward spiral of a once-useful object into a total state of degradation.

The piece, an item designed to protect and aid vision, has been debased in a myriad of ways, and the artist uses every means at his disposal to emphasize its pitiful condition. The most obvious device is the deliberate destruction of the lenses–their shattered state is clearly an indication of the subject’s current irrelevance. The artist reinforces this technique by leaving the lens fragments inside their respective frames as a bitter reminder of a time when the subject was able to fulfill its purpose.

Just as important as the trodden lenses, however, is the surrounding canvas. If the lens fragments symbolize the subject’s unfulfilled potential, the decision to set the piece in pavement highlights its resulting insignificance. The lack of contrast between the subject and canvas–notice how some components fade into the background–ensures that the piece would be almost invisible to passers-by, except for the outlining frames.

This exhibit is on display in Philadelphia, at 16th and Fairmount.

Yaaaaam right!

Yaaaaam right!