Showing posts from October, 2005

Education is Infuriating

Why can't schools treat high school students who aren't at an advanced level like smart kids with opinions, with things to say?

I have spent the past two days attending various panels at The College Board's annual AP Forum (for work). The conference was about 99% teachers, guidance counselors, and college admissions reps, and, oh, me...the lone evil Kaplanite lurking around for test prep ideas to steal more money from high school students. Whatever. Apparently, all teachers, guidance counselors, and college admissions reps are from the Midwest and wear a lot of khaki and bad shoes. And Halloween-themed scarves and pins.

By FAR the most interesting panel was this afternoon's Response to the New SAT -- a group of 4 students, a parent, a guidance counselor, and a College Board member. You probably have heard or read by now that the College Board has overhauled the SAT. It now has math up to Algebra 2, no more Quantitative Comparison questions (A is bigger, B is bigger, C i…

Weather Report

Seattle is wet.

In a Time Trap

I usually know what time it is, time being a thing of mine. The West Coast trip--the California leg of which I am concluding as I wait in line at the Oakland airport, waiting to begin the Seattle leg--has thrown my internal clock off, and last night's end of Daylight Savings has led to a grand total of a four hour swing. Fortunately, Mike and Anna normally go to sleep and wake up four hours earlier than I do, so it worked out pretty well. Scott suggested that next season's 24 should be set on the last Sunday in October, leaving the door open for a surprise extra episode during sweeps' month. Scott counts 24 as one of his addictions.

I'd like to blog about the maple syrup smell in New York City last Thursday night and Friday, but I didn't smell it myself Thursday night and I left Friday. I can't even link to articles about it from my cell phone, but go to Google News and search for "maple syrup new york". It's incredibly odd.

America's Next Top Load of Crap

My faith in Tyra Banks and the UPN has been tarnished. I was one of your last supporters, T, and you let me down.

The stupid panel eliminated sexy sexy Kyle, my favorite from Day One. NEVER MIND that she was by far the best-looking girl on the show -- tall, with fantastic curves and just an undeniable hotness about her. She doesn't a) weigh 50 pounds and have bug eyes, b) look like a 40-year-old man, c) have ears the size of record albums, or any of the other unfortunate shortcomings of her competitors. Tyra wants to reward "edgy," I suppose, which seems to translate to "ugly".

My money is now on Kim, a sentimental favorite of some 34 readers. Adam thinks they slated "the lesbian chick to win from the first day," and he may be right. Girl just needs to learn how to stand up straight and stop working her androgony into conversations about, like, what she had for dinner. And, also, she's by far the biggest shit-talker of the group. Tyra will sit you d…

Inside Woody Allen

Sometimes, mainly in the '70s, Woody Allen has a comic strip.

Ninjas are the ultimate paradox

If I were Frank Bruni I'd totally make sure not to drop a spoon at the next restaurant I review.

Flowers, dildos, and vibrators: oh my!

I've never played Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (though I am thinking of picking up The Warriors, if only for the Coney Island scenes), but I have no doubt that this walkthrough for the in-game girlfriend system is completely serious and probably quite useful.

Smash theory

As a somewhat Economics major, I ended up taking some (what?) Economics courses. By far the most interesting was Game Theory. (By far the most bullshit was Economics of the Internet.) Most people employ game theoretical concepts instinctively throughout the course of a day*; this is the interesting part. Steven Levitt, in his always interesting Freakonomics blog, writes that "Modern game theory has become extremely mathematical, notation heavy, and removed from everyday life." My experience in college confirms that, I guess, though the fact that I didn't do as well as I would have liked in the class probably has more to do with me constantly missing lectures to go on interviews or the fact that I usually sat directly across from a model/actress, which could be a little... distracting. (Rachel Nichols has a part in the newly release Shopgirl, as it turns out, and I'm looking forward to seeing that infinitely more than Elizabetown.)

*Everyday game theory example: I have…

Cheff'y Jeff'y

The Rachel Ray profile in the Times has gotten everyone's attention (well, what passes for everyone). Sheryl opined, after reading the article, that she kind of really likes Rachel Ray, which I kind of let pass. I don't hate Rachel Ray, necessarily, but I do think she is hurting America. No, I don't really even think that. She is fucking annoying, though. She makes cooking more accessible, true, but you could argue that Doritos makes corn more accessible.

I am pretty sure that I could put on a better cooking show than she does. My current plan is to figure out what the deal is with digital video cameras nowadays, figure out whether my aging Powerbook is up to the task of editing video, and hopefully put up some sort of show on Google Video. Or, you know, not.

Fun with parsing

Yesterday's Times had an article on mobisodic (yeah, I know...) video content getting pushed out to cell phones. Which, I'm happy enough with my non-video nerd phone, thanks. The article contains the following paragraph (sentence):
And Warner Brothers, a Time Warner unit, is in talks with several mobile phone companies to distribute an animated short series based on the comic books created by Seth Cohen, the aspiring comic book writer who is played by the actor Adam Brody on the hit show "The O.C."
So a production unit of a large media conglomerate is talking to telecom companies about distributing an animated series based on comic book written by a fictional character on another media conglomerate's television show. I think.

Counting Crowe's Missteps

I just realized over the last few years, I have fooled myself into thinking that I "can't wait" until Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown is released...and on a larger scale, that I "love" Cameron Crowe and that he is one of my "favorite directors." Well, Elizabethtown is out...and you know what? I'll see it, but it's just not going to be good. Last night, I realized that I don't love Cameron Crowe...I love MUSIC. Cameron loves music and features it in a starring role in his movies. That bastard has done a good job fooling me into thinking I'm really into him as a filmmaker. Really, I just want to swap CDs with him.

Aside from Almost Famous, which truly is one of my favorite movies (and well, duh, because it's about music and rock journalism...but also because of Frances McDormand, Patrick Fugit, Jason Lee, and a sweet, witty script), I have problems with all of Crowe's work.

Say Anything is cute and "romantic" and fine a…

Start Your TiVos

Despite the promos that have been running all week, I almost forgot that The Colbert Report starts Monday night at 11:30pm on Comedy Central. If you haven't yet set up you PVR of choice to record it, don't forget!

Journalism on the march

Yes, we're all rooting for the treason charges to be meted out against Rove and Scooter, and curious as to whether they'll be drawn and quartered or just face the firing squad once they're convicted. Whatever the fuck is up with Judith Miller is more confusing, though. The Washington Post has a writeup detailing where things currently stand; basically, the Times seems to be holding off on writing any story about what exactly why Judith Miller was so buddy-buddy with a man named Scooter and why she deemed it necessary to go to jail rather than testify to a grand jury when she received the same waiver from Libby that other reporters found acceptable. Making things really, really bizarre is the letter that Libby wrote to Miller reiterating that waiver. There is some speculation that it is a coded message; one kind of hopes so, because I don't even know how to take the following passage at face value:

You went to jail in the summer. It is fall now. You will have stories to …


Just when you thought Marty Schottenheimer and Bill Cowher were close: turns out Harriet Miers thinks G.W. is totally the "coolest". That isn't me mocking her; she really thinks that, and has taken the time to detail that opinion in numerous public records. She also thinks that the younger Bush is really "popular" and the "greatest".

G.W., for his part, really appreciates her "sage advice".

Despite my oft-stated ambivalence towards Google's growing grasp on all electronic information, specifically information that can be tied to individual users, they keep coming out with new shit and I keep blogging about it. (This is, I believe, how White House pool reporters feel.)

Google Video is their new video player and search tool. They've signed deals with some mainstream content providers to host digital versions of short films and telly shows, but the bulk of the content appears to come from individuals with video cameras and a desire to share (and even charge for) kinetic versions of their lives. I was looking around yesterday for other places to host videos on behalf of some of Sheryl's friends, and there doesn't appear to be many other options, so I guess Google is filling a need. In any case, stay tuned for Willow St. Production's Bed, Bath & Betrayal, a forthcoming release on Google Video.

The other new Google product of note is Google Reader, an RSS…

The Colorless Wonder

The oddest thing that I’ve gathered about Jeff (so far…I’m assuming there’s a lot more there) is that he is without any distinct color. No, I’m not talking about his colorBLINDness and color CLUELESSness, although that’s fascinating. (He really doesn’t know his colors. Try him some time. I said “chartreuse” or “magenta” the other day and he was all, “how can you possibly know what those mean!?!”)

Jeff’s name, when it pops up in my mind or in my e-mail Inbox, does not take on a color of its own. And that’s weird for me. Because I spent the better part of my only-child-dom with either a book or my Crayola box of 64, when I see letters or numbers, my brain automatically links them with a distinct color. (This is, of course, a self-diagnosis.) The experts call this “condition” synesthesia. I don’t think I have the full-blown deal. Hardcore folks look at a page of text and see a rainbow in front of their eyes. Other sysenthites see colors when they hear certain tones, or vice versa. It’s a …

In which I overuse the prefix "cyber"

This week's New Yorker has a short-ish piece on cyber extortion rackets and the people who fight them. It's an interesting read, as this isn't the sort of thing that normally gets press coverage–the cyber extortionists often target disreputable businesses operating outside of American territories (online casinos in the Caribbean, for example) who are unlikely to contact the authorities (and which authorities, anyway?) and report the shake down.

The basis for the extortion is the threat of launching an all-out distributed denial of service attack against a company's web site. The criminals, often part of organized crime rings in former Soviet countries, have no qualms about backing up their threats with attacks; a single day's web site outage can result in enormous losses for a company whose entire business is web-based.

The interesting thing here is that in order for these cybermobsters to pull off an attack on a scale large enough to cripple a decently protected web…

He's got the shinning!

Will (who does everything I do months [or years] after the fact, and therefore now has a blog of his own), writes about his friend and fellow CC '02-er Rob, who created a stitched together fake trailer for The Shining as part of some film contest. And then it became hugely popular (the Times even picked up on it), and rightfully so, as it's hilarious.


Sheryl and I had a lovely evening at the theater (well, performance space) on Friday. George Saunders's "Pastoralia," the title story of his Pastoralia collection, was adapted for the stage by Yehuda Duenyas at Performance Space 122.

I'm a big Saunders fan–well, his poem in the fashion issue of the New Yorker a few weeks ago didn't really do it for me as satire, but of his stories at least. The central conceit (it might be a disservice to call it a conceit, but that's what it is) in Saunders's writing is the fractured syntax and word choice, employed to genuinely hilarious results. He uses it more or less throughout his stories, both in the dialog and in the interior monologues. Pastoralia is a story that makes heavy use of interior monologues to move the plot along, and in adapting it for the stage Duenyas decided to, for the most part, forgo any soliloquies in favor of conveying the same information through stage interaction and facial expressions–throug…