I’m currently reading Christopher Moore’s 2006 novel, A Dirty Job, and am nearing what I expect to be a slam-bang, fun-filled, rollicking climax. I picked it up because I thought Lamb, the story of Jesus Christ’s life as told by his best friend Levi, who is called Biff, was one of the funniest things I’d ever read. If you haven’t run across these books yet, consider them recommended.
Anyway, last night, as we got deeper into protagonist Charlie Asher’s investigation of the doings at the mysterious Buddhist center in San Francisco’s Mission district, my pique finally got the better of me. To wit, why the hell is this not yet a movie?! Seriously, A Dirty Job is box office magic waiting to happen. So I hit the Internets and discovered that the rights were indeed picked up, in 2006, by Chris Columbus and 1492 Productions. CC is the guy who brought us the first two films in the Harry Potter series and Home Alone, as well as Reckless, Gremlins, The Goonies, Mrs. Doubtfire and Night at the Museum. While he’s had some missteps along the way – who in Hollywood hasn’t? – he’s clearly a man who knows a thing or two about the aforementioned box office magic, right? Continue reading Samuel L. Jackson as Minty Fresh in A Dirty Job? Make this movie happen NOW
Our real photographer, the estimable Lisa Wright, is on vacation, so I ventured out last night, new camera in hand, to see if I could capture something vaguely interesting for our readers. As luck would have it, they were showing A Star is Born, the 1937 classic starring Janet Gaynor, on the lawn in front of the old Elitch Gardens Theater.
Continue reading A star is born
Watch the two TED talks below. The question, which represents 100% of your final grade, follows.
First, Nick Hanauer in 2012.
Continue reading S&R 701 Final Exam, Spring Semester 2012
The uncanny valley is a hypothesis in the field of robotic and 3D computer animation, which holds that when human replicas look and act almost, but not perfectly, like actual human beings, it causes a response of revulsion among human observers. The “valley” in question is a dip in a proposed graph of the positivity of human reaction as a function of a robot’s human likeness.
This, from the folks at game developer Quantic Dream, is simply remarkable.
Continue reading Kara is self-aware: technology is climbing out of the uncanny valley, but toward what?
American propagandists and PR hacks have developed remarkably innovative ways of making words lie. Back in the ’80s we had “freedom fighters,” which was the way we described death squads who were friendly to America. “Pro-life” can be used to describe those who bomb clinics and murder physicians. “Enhanced interrogation,” of course, means “torture.” And so on. In some cases this Orwellian distortion of the language falls under the category of “euphemism,” but the more insidious innovations can be so subtle that we don’t recognize the way the language is being gamed unless we think about it very hard.
One of the most dangerous new lies: “tort reform.” Continue reading Heads up, Denver: Hot Coffee director in town for Wednesday night screening
My colleague Michael Sheehan recent offered a tip of the cap to a local staging of Frost/Nixon, which starred our old friend Stuart O’Steen. If anything, Mike was understated in his praise of the show and O’Steen’s performance. Anytime the big-city Denver Post says nice things about a community theater production up in the hinterlands of Longmont you know something special is afoot.
After the show, as we waited for a chance to congratulate the cast, my companions and I found ourselves discussing a topic that has come to intrigue me a great deal: the curious rehabilitation of Richard Nixon. Continue reading Frost/Nixon: The rehabilitation of Tricky Dick and what it says about the soul of modern America
Every movie has a soundtrack. And let’s be honest – most of them are as unmemorable as … well, as the movies themselves. At its best, though, the music captures the spiritual essence of the auteur‘s vision, interacting with the film in ways that are simply transcendent. One plus one equals infinity, and it’s impossible to ever conceive of song and scene independently again.
There are three such instances that stand out in my memory, and they run the gamut from ridiculous to sublime. Rather than picking one, let’s consider all three. Continue reading Sax and violins: 30-Day Song Challenge, the Sequel, day 16 – your favorite song from a TV or movie soundtrack
Pulitzer- and Emmy-winner William Henry‘s famous polemic, In Defense of Elitism (1994), argues that societies can be ranked along a spectrum with “egalitarianism” on one end and “elitism” on the other. He concludes that America, to its detriment, has slid too far in the direction of egalitarianism, and in the process that it has abandoned the elitist impulse that made it great (and that is necessary for any great culture). While Henry’s analysis is flawed in spots (and, thanks to the excesses of the Bush years, there are some other places that could use updating), he brilliantly succeeds in his ultimate goal: crank-starting a much-needed debate about the proper place of elitism in a “democratic” society.
Along the way he spends a good deal of time defining what he means by “egalitarianism” and “elitism.” Continue reading Democracy & Elitism 4: equality, opportunity and leveling up the playing field