Friday, November 30, 2007

Wait. What did he say about Dewey?

There are some directors out there whose films are consistently examined and interpreted to within an inch of their celluloid lives. And I bet more than a few of them look at all that's written and say to themselves, "No, I didn't mean all that, but you go ahead and knock yourself out".

I know how they feel:
I found the above clip linked at Roger Ebert's website, and was really fascinated by it. On the one hand, organizing a history of film strictly through numeric reference seems decidedly offbeat, kind of like only collecting books with blue covers, or only buying jazz records that have pictures of birds on the cover. On the other hand, its very ecccentricity gives it at least two advantages: 1) It avoids a more obvious chronological, generic, narrative or thematic organization, taking cinema away from analytical models that rely too much on literary antecdents, or what Steve Johnson calls "the morality play" of much popular culture critique. Instead, the countdown structure allows for a cutting across time, and across a variety of cinemas, only allowing us cinephiliac moments and glimpses, instead of lengthier scenes, which makes for fun juxtapositions; 2) In organizing in this way, the clip becomes a parody of the quantitative, of numeric systems like the Dewey Decimal System, and of any number of ways in which Hollywood uses numbers as a brander of quality (the blurb next to the clip on its original YouTube page suggests we read it as a parody of things like the AFI lists, but we might also see it poking fun at weekly obsessions with the box office, or all those movies which claim a kind of pseduo-scientific degree of knowledge by hammering their audience with statistics. It also seems notable that a lot of the clips center on questions of age or time--self-reflexive markers of history, hipness, and memory). By extension, then, the project asks us to (re) think the pattern of organization more broadly. Where might this kind of analysis-- one closer to Brecht's scrap collector than to more topdown forms of analysis-- take us next?

Please do not take this post as a criticism or rebuke of this guy's thoughts. I'm just still getting a kick out of it after all these many months.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"That's beauty, eh?"

Thanks to Need Coffee for letting me know about the big two-four anniversary for Bob and Doug.

I guess this YouTube clip will have to hold me over until the DVD is released beyond the borders of the Great White North.

Skippy of the Day: Mitt Romney

Just the other day, I was thinking that (a) I hadn't done a "Skippy" post in a while and (b) I hadn't used the word "asshat" in an even longer time. Mitt to the rescue!
I asked Mr. Romney whether he would consider including qualified Americans of the Islamic faith in his cabinet as advisers on national security matters, given his position that "jihadism" is the principal foreign policy threat facing America today. He answered, "…based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration."

As Think Progress points out in their article:
According to the CIA World Factbook (which uses 2002 numbers), Mormons comprise just 2 percent of the U.S. population, while Jews and Muslims comprise 1 percent each. Based on 2001 numbers, there were 2.8 million Mormons and 1.1 million Muslims in the United States. Surveys since that time indicate that the number of Muslims may have eclipsed the number of Mormons living in the U.S.

So Mitt, going by your logic, you won't mind at all if the American people don't vote for you to be President because, well, I cannot see that electing a Mormon would be justified.


Monday, November 26, 2007

"Warning, this is an emergency. I've chipped a nail"

Such a pity. A beloved British public servant has been given the sack for having a sense of humor.

Metafilter has links to the audio clips responsible.

Friday, November 23, 2007

"Defender of the Crown" minus torchlight

It's a moment of Geek Zen when somebody uses LEGO to recreate a scene from a classic Commodore 64 game.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

You cannot, cannot make stuff like this up.

I'm posting the link to this Boing Boing post, but I also took a screenshot as well because this little tidbit (which serves as the Alpha and Omega of the modern Conservative movement) should be preserved for future generations. They should know what kind of pinheaded pricks held political sway in this nation for far too long.

Update: It appears from the comments on the Boing Boing entry that this might be a prank. Looking at the numbers again, I have to concede that that's likely. So it would appear, despite my post title, you can make stuff like this up (it doesn't prevent it from having a ring of truth, though).

I'm Not There

I was already of the opinion that Cate Blanchett as one of the Bob Dylans in I'm Not There is one of the most brilliant pieces of casting ever made (and this judgement is made solely from watching the trailer and a few clips of her in action). Now Dana Stevens over at Slate has perfectly encapsulated my reaction to it:

Cate Blanchett is Bob Dylan: Could there be a sexier above-the-title tagline? But Haynes' casting choice functions as far more than a clever stunt. The gender reversal introduces a strangeness that makes us look at both performers through new eyes. And though you soon forget that Blanchett is a woman—her channeling of the Don't Look Back-era Dylan is that uncanny—you never for a moment forget that she, like Jude Quinn, is a performer. Blanchett shares Dylan's knack for moving audiences deeply without disclosing much of herself, and her Jude is a magnetic cipher, seductive without being likable. When a British journalist (Bruce Greenwood), intent on exposing the self-invented singer as a fraud, questions him harshly in the back seat of a limo, you don't know whose side to take: Yes, the interviewer is a reductive prig, but Jude is a self-important asshole. Blanchett conveys all of this while still keeping you wrapped around her (or is it Jude's?) little finger. Before, I thought of Cate Blanchett as a beautiful and gifted actress. After this crush-inducing performance, I'm seriously considering flying to Australia to stalk her.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A place for my stuff

Part of the big renovations push Mrs. Mosley and I are currently engaged in is a getting rid of excess stuff (that would be in addition to the stuff that was gotten rid of involuntarily).

It's not that we have a lot of stuff. Well, that's my opinion anyway. Mrs. Mosley will occasionally beg to differ most vocally on this subject.

But we are endeavoring to create some new storage solutions and shelving, so we should be looking a lot better once the dust settles.

Still, it's always nice to put things in perspective:

The Oprah Show featured a two part series on the “Secret Lives of Hoarders” this week, and featured two empty-nesters named Sharyn and Marvin. In addition to 75 tons of garbage (that’s 15 industrial sized dumpsters), the 100 member clean up team filled more than 1,800 large crates of items from the home, enough to fill three semi trailers.

More than 75% of the home’s furniture was destroyed by black mold and other infestations. Along the way, the clean up team found food from 1994 in the basement, dozens of umbrellas, a long forgotten pool table and thousands of gifts Sharyn had purchased but never given away.

It took a little more than 8 weeks to complete what was originally scheduled to be a two week project. Organizational Expert Peter Walsh headed the effort, and after all the unwanted belongings were cleared from Marvin and Sharyn’s house, the team rented a gigantic 10,000-square-foot warehouse to hold a rummage sale. The family profited more than $13,000 from the sale, which included more than 3,000 handbags and 3,000 pairs of shoes.

Hey! You two in the back from Minnesota: Stop Snickering!

Well, I woke up this morning and found my car encrusted with frost; the first of the season.

Hey, I know we don't get blizzards or black ice down here, but we timid Floridians still have to be cautious when it comes to these things.

"Let's be careful out there."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I just found my favorite picture of the week.

Well, at the very least it ties with Fiona (story found via Neatorama):

A group of orphaned baby owls snuggle up to a cuddly toy which has become their surrogate mum after they were found on the brink of death in the wild.

The tiny tawny owl chicks burrow in under the fluffy toy's wings to keep warm after they were separated from their own mothers.

The chicks, all aged between just four and eight weeks, faced certain death as they fended for themselves alone in the wild but are now recovering in an animal hospital.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Hello (and Goodbye) to Nickel Creek

Mrs. Mosley proposed three months ago that we go to a Nickel Creek concert that was going to be at the Florida Theatre. I gave a listen to one of their CD's, which was kind of a modern bluegrass, and immediately agreed. So we went last night and it was fantastic. More's the pity that this is their farewell tour, but at least we got to see them near the end of it.

Mrs. Mosley was proud that she picked some musicians that I would like. And though the quality of their music was a big part of her recommendation, I told her after I looked at their Wikipedia page that there was another indicator at how they might be up my alley: They did a concert earlier this year with Fiona Apple. I would have easily paid double the ticket price to hear all of them together on stage, but I'll just amuse myself by posting some pictures of that concert. From all indications, Fiona and Nickel Creek rocked the house.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Hail Mary, full of grace ... BANG!

This guy has recreated famous scenes as isometric computer game shots. Some are from historic moments in time, and others are from cinematic scenes. Two scenes are redundant, since the angle of the new shot is the exact same as the original. Two scenes are absent of people, and I couldn't guess them without consulting the FAQ. At any rate, they're all interesting. Check 'em out. (Found via The Mint Julep)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

1,00 spam monkeys with 1,000 spam typewriters write some damn stupid stuff

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Do I even need a punchline for this?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Historic Photos of Jacksonville

After over three years of blogging, I've finally gotten some free stuff.

Not that I haven't been offered before. I remember two other occasions where an independent DVD producer wanted to send me some obscure DVD for review. I declined both times for lack of interest and for fear of being put on someone's spam list.

But when I received an email last month from the Turner Publishing Company, it sparked my interest. They wanted to send me a complimentary copy of their book Historic Photos of Jacksonville. Being an area of great interest to myself, I gladly accepted their offer. And now, with that back story/disclosure out of the way, let me tell you about it.

Historic Photos of Jacksonville is a portfolio of images from the town once known as Cowford. The pictures are divided into four chronological sections: Pre-Civil War to the Great Fire (1850-1901), the rise of a new city (1902-1919), the Roaring Twenties to the Great Depression (1920-1939) and World War II to Consolidation* (1940-1960's). Commentary and captions are provided by University of North Florida History professor Carolyn Williams.

* In 1968, the City of Jacksonville government consolidated with Duval County so that they are, in essence, one and the same. As a result, Jacksonville is the largest city by square miles (885) in the continental United States.

First, a note about the format itself. Even a history major like can feel bogged down while reading reams off text. It's a forest-for-the-trees thing, and it's probably why I don't read history books much anymore. This book of photographs, however, is able to show us the various stages of Jacksonville's development and provide just enough context in the captions to illuminate them further. I may have been born in 1973, but this book of my hometown makes me feel like I'm looking at personal snapshots.

The one defining event in Jacksonville's history, ranking up there with Consolidation, is the Great Fire of 1901. In terms of this event, the book is invaluable. To view so many buildings, such as the St. James Hotel, that would have been magnificent components of our downtown landscape had they survived is an exercise in regret. But the book allows us to savor these images and think of what could have been.

But to look at the humble beginnings of our downtown (which some people may still call humble, but that's another discussion), can be a disconcerting experience. Hemming Plaza is nothing but dirt paths and modest hedges. Main Street turns into shipping docks as it meets the river. Rail cars are carried across the St. Johns by barges instead of the rail bridge that is used today. Most disconcerting of all is Riverside and Five Points being referred to as "suburbs". In a town that has been called a never ending suburbia, those are two neighborhoods which definitely aren't.

Then there are the things that have not changed, which allow me to transport myself back in time with ease. One picture in particular, which is of the Florida Theatre upon it's opening in 1933, is among my favorites in this book. The staff is lined up on the front curb dressed in suits and ties. Advertisements for "Lady For a Day" and "Gold Diggers of 1933" flank them on either side. Some details of the theater's facade have changed, but the whole is still unmistakable to anyone who calls Jacksonville home.

There are some themes that emerge through the photos: The longstanding military importance of the city, stretching from the Civil War all the way to the multiple naval and air bases the city hosted by the 1960's. The strength of the automobile industry, both in manufacturing and selling, to the region. The changing position of African Americans in the city's population. Such broad strokes does a great job of connecting the photos into a whole.

There are a few things that I wished the book had included. One of the most interesting portions of Jacksonville's past is it's brief time as a film production capital before Hollywood came into being. Though there is a brief mention of this fact, there are no photos of the numerous studios in town, of scenes being shot, or of the actors themselves. Several years ago, I saw a fabulous photographic retrospective on this very topic at the Cummer Art Gallery here in town. It would have been nice to see a couple of those photos make the final cut.

Also, the simple addition of a downtown map would have been very welcome. Even though I've worked downtown for the past four years, even I had to whip out a map occasionally when an intersection is named in a caption. Furthermore, a map could have also served an additional function by indicating which blocks were destroyed by the Great Fire, showing the reader the breadth of the destruction.

In the end, the book is very effective of giving the reader an overall view of Jacksonville history before Consolidation. Jacksonville takes a lot of flak for being a city with no character; no soul. And though a great deal of our history went up in smoke back in 1901, it's still here in these pages; That and so much more.

Turner Publishing Company - Amazon - Barnes & Noble

Friday, November 02, 2007

Ebert Speaks!

I mentioned him by name and he mentioned me by ... well, by URL actually.

The Movie Answer Man has spoken!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Pay attention to the snarky Australian.

It's a Videogame Review!

It's a Critique of American Foreign Policy!

It's All That And MUCH MUCH MORE!

Delroy Lindo Quote of the Month: November 2007

Still busy lately. Maybe one day I'll gather you kids around and tell you all about it.

In the meantime: The Last Castle. Redford. Gandolfini. Ruffalo. Military Prison. Upside down flag. And, most importantly, Delroy Lindo playing a hardass General.

General Wheeler: You thought he was going to try to take me hostage?

Colonel Winter: Yes, sir, it was a precautionary move.

General Wheeler: What the hell kind of grab-ass unit are you running here, Colonel?