Featured Post


If you're a student looking for syllabi, click the "Academic Home Page" link on your right, and start there.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Summer Soundtrack Friday Morning Videos: "The Goonies 'R' Good Enough"

It's pretty much impossible to describe what a ridiculous, embarrassing, borderline offensive mess this monstrous video is, so I'll just let you watch all 13 minutes of it, and then I'll call it quits for this feature. Classes started this week, anyway; high time I got back to normal around here. But first, part 1:

And now, part 2 (yes, the music is essentially the same in both videos; I don't know what they meant to accomplish in doing that):

I read somewhere that Cyndi Lauper actually hates this song. Oh well.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Summer Soundtrack Friday Morning Videos: "Live to Tell"

Madonna's greatest vocal work? Christopher Walken's greatest performance? A case can be made for both, I think.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Summer Soundtrack Friday Morning Videos: "Danger Zone"

Melissa and I actually watched this film a couple of weeks ago, in honor of its 25th anniversary. I swear, there's like 30 minutes of plot in the whole thing. I rest of it is all watching planes fly, watching plans land, watching motorcycles drive, watching cars drive, watching people burst angrily in and out of doors...you get the idea.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Nerd Reading, Exposed

So, being both 1) a good liberal NPR-listener, and 2) a nerdy science-fiction/fantasy/horror fan (though not nearly as much as I was back in my high school and college years), I, of course, voted in NPR's survey to pick the Top 100 Science-Fiction and Fantasy Books. You can look over the list there; here, I'm going to do what you're supposed to do with these lists: go through the whole thing, and mark the ones I've read. Everyone can play along! But let's make this interesting: give yourself one point for each one you're read, and let's compare scores. And so...

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
3. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert--part credit, here: I read (and loved) the original Dune, read (and grew increasingly disappointed in) Dune Messiah, attempted to read (but abandoned) Children of Dune, never even tried to read the fourth "official" book in the series, God Emperor of Dune. So, give me about one-third point for this one.
6. 1984, by George Orwell
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov
10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein
24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
25. The Stand, by Stephen King
28. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller
36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson--I think I should double-credit here, since I read not only this first trilogy, but the second one as well. I haven't read any of the books from the final, recent trilogy, though a couple of friends of mine insist they're worth their weight in gold.
65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart--excuse me, but this is absolute nonsense: you're only going to rank a single volume of Mary Stewart's masterful Merlin series? You're not going to give any credit for The Hollow Hills or The Last Enchantment (or, for that matter, the later, "addendum" to the series, The Wicked Day)? Sorry, but I'm calling bullshit on this. I insist that those who haven't read the whole series decline to give themselves a point for this one book.
97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

So, I end up (counting my protests about Dune and Thomas Covenant) with 32.3 points. How about you?

Actually Mitt, No, They're Not

While visiting Iowa, Mitt Romney calls corporations "people"--then goes on, amidst heckling, to elaborate, as best as I can figure, that his point is that corporations are made up of people, that all the money they make goes into the pockets of people, that really they're just all about people, if you know what I mean, etc. Judge for yourself.

There's a lot I could say about this--in particular, regarding the appalling Citizens United decision that forbade legislatures, on First Amendment grounds, from treating corporate bodies any differently from, you know, actual citizens when it comes to contributing to political campaigns, which is where the whole "corporations are people too!" meme really got its legs--but I'm too exhausted and frustrated and brain-dead right now to do a lot of writing. Suffice it say simply this: even if you think Romney is substantively correct in defending the rights and interests of corporations by seeing them solely in terms of the citizens who own stock in them, work for them, and buy products from them, and ignoring the structural power they exercise and the warping effects they have throughout any capitalist economy (and as should be obvious, I don't), at the very least it ought to be acknowledged that the "people" whom the large corporations Romney is talking about are mostly identified with happen to be, generally speaking, quite wealthy, quite powerful, and quite privileged people, legally and socially and economically. Hence, defend corporations as "people," and all you've really done--leaving aside the theoretical and moral puzzles which that equivalency poses--is defend rich people as "people" too. Which is all right, I suppose, but not generally the sort of thing that plenty of ordinary folks during a continuing economic recession really want to hear.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Summer Soundtrack Friday Morning Videos: "We Don't Need Another Hero"

Loved this movie--the previous installment was a better film in almost every way (its final scenes gave us pretty much the perfect Platonic form of a car chase), but still, it didn't have Tina Turner. Post-apocalyptism never looked or sounded so good.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Summer Storms Have Consequences

This is what we saw when we woke up this morning, after a night of terrific winds, lots of lightning, and some blessedly needed (though still not nearly enough for drought-stricken Kansas) rain. Weeks of 100+ degree temps, now this. It was a nice tree too, dammit. Oh well. Someone lend me a chainsaw.