In Other News, How Can I Meet This Met?

Filed under:Heh,Need a Good Editor?,Tolkien — posted by Anwyn on May 9, 2011 @ 7:19 pm

A Mets pitcher, specifically, who named one of his bats … Orcrist.

Then the NYT apparently managed to screw up the origin of the name, but they apologized, so all good.

Several Royal Fusses

Filed under:Good Grief,History — posted by Anwyn on April 29, 2011 @ 9:23 am

A lot of people are making a fuss over the royal wedding. And a lot of people I know seem to be making a fuss over the fuss. Why?

Frank J.
and Kyle Smith epitomize this attitude that the royals are worthless, although Kyle, after ripping to shreds the rest of the royal family, concedes that they’re harmless and decent.

I have trouble understanding this attitude that royals are useless wastes of space. We are conservatives, we dislike people getting government money to either do nothing or make everybody else’s lives worse. Okay. But even if we stipulate that royalty does nothing, we are conservatives, who also believe, more or less, to each his own and that tradition is important. If the English were tired of their royals they could do something about it. What’s it to us (collective, U.S.) that they still have them? And since they have them, what’s it to us (those who don’t try to follow every bit of the wedding) that some Americans are fascinated by the pretense of fairytale? We (those of us who have a few years on us) know that Kate and William will have to deal with the reality of married life, and do it under a microscope because they’re public figures.

Is that it? Do the ones sneering at the fuss resent that they’re public figures through no merit or effort but through birth? How is that their fault? They are human beings and have responsibilities and frustrations and happiness just like us.

I can’t believe I’m making a “they’re people too” argument, but honestly I can’t understand the disdain. If we had a single president who got married in office, the fuss would be ten times as big, so to those who say “What’s the big deal, they’re not OUR royals”–they’re only one step removed from being our royals. Also, most of the people following the wedding fuss for fun would not seek it out as much if the media didn’t choose to cover it wall to wall.

So give these people a break, why don’t you? They’re just people getting married with a duty to make it completely public.

Half a Million in Cash in Small Airplane in Small Town

Filed under:Heh,Law School — posted by Anwyn on April 28, 2011 @ 7:45 am

Peru, Illinois, to be exact.

Tips to those accosted by the police: 1) Don’t say you flew from California to Illinois in order to go … snowboarding. 2) I seriously am wondering about this part: Why’d they consent to the search of the plane? Based on what I’ve learned about the Fourth Amendment this semester, I don’t know that the police would have been able to stop them from leaving in the plane until they got a warrant, but hey, I haven’t taken my criminal procedure exam yet, so anything’s possible.

Update: On an exam it’d better take me less than three hours to realize the answer, but I expect the police could indeed stop them from leaving in the plane on a destruction-of-evidence or Carroll-closed container exigency, if they had probable cause enough for a warrant but no time to get one. I might have called their bluff, though, and refused consent–they may not have had probable cause. Ah well, fun hypothetical on a day when I’m supposed to be studying property, not criminal procedure.

Dancing with the Stars Getting Out of Control

Filed under:Television,WTF? — posted by Anwyn on April 26, 2011 @ 9:56 pm

I just watched Monday’s performances. The elimination is going on right now.

What? It’s less than a week till finals, and I know you don’t prefer to hear about my struggles with the parol evidence rule.

What Dancing god did Ralph Macchio tick off? Why does he get these impossible songs? Who does paso doble to “Everybody Dance Now?” And no, I don’t care that its actual title is “Gonna Make You Sweat.” That’s a horrible title. Who does samba to “Sweet Home Alabama?” These were not good music choices, Music Choosers. Foxtrot to “Yankee Doodle Dandy” was pretty awful too, but on the other hand, I didn’t care what Kendra did until I saw her samba last night. Those were some dance moves. Well done. But back to Ralph: What?

I am a little worried for Ralph. It breaks my heart for both of us that he’s almost fifty years old, and he has these hollow eyes that put me in mind of somebody dying of consumption. But nevermind all that–who is torturing him by making him dance to wildly inappropriate songs? And again with the fog machine, during Romeo’s waltz, and again with the inappropriate lighting, strobes–strobes!–during the inappropriate paso doble.

True, everything the judges said about Ralph and Karina getting back up to finish the dance was right on, they never wavered after that and it was glorious. But the fall cost them, as the judges gave them straight 8s, and I can’t help wondering if the incongruous music contributed too.

We’re not even going to discuss Bruno, Tom, the Elton John video, and Bruno’s choice description of Tom afterwards. The whole show needs to cool its jets.

But speaking of cool, it has to be said: Hanson can out-sing the Jonas Brothers any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

Never Mind the Russian and the Log Houses–

Filed under:Tolkien — posted by Anwyn on April 24, 2011 @ 8:07 pm

on this Russian map of The Hobbit–stuff is in the wrong place and rivers are running the wrong way. And what’s with all the castles? You can decipher what everything is supposed to be–there’s the lake, there’s Mirkwood, there’s Rivendell, there are the Misty Mountains, even the Carrock is there–but it’s like they didn’t even look at the orientation or detail of the original. A cruise through the other foreign-language maps is interesting–many of them have things in the right place, but not all. Since I can’t read Russian, I can’t tell from the compass rose if up is north. If up is actually east, that would be a bit better (because Mirkwood, the mountains, and the Shire are all to the far west of the Lonely Mountain), but it still wouldn’t be correct.

What’s the big deal? you’re thinking if you’re not a Tolkien fan. But it makes a difference to the commonality between readers–i.e. if you imagine Bilbo’s (or Frodo’s) journey so differently from how I imagine it that he’s even going in a different direction, that makes a difference not only to how we interpret the books but also in how we will view the forthcoming movies. Maybe a small thing, but interesting.

Also, of course, it makes a huge difference in that it’s a deviation from how Tolkien devised it. And he’s the boss.

I’d Move

Filed under:Tolkien — posted by Anwyn @ 7:48 pm

Wouldn’t you?

On the other hand, I know some people who are probably going to go out and get that window installed in their door.

Not a Bad Legend for a Lawyer to Live Up To

Filed under:Authors,Books,Law School — posted by Anwyn on April 21, 2011 @ 9:13 pm

“He’d do you down fast enough, but he wouldn’t let you down.”

–Dorothy L. Sayers, Whose Body?

Weird Al & Lady Gaga Reverse-Reminiscent of Weird Al & Coolio

Filed under:Cool,Music — posted by Anwyn on April 20, 2011 @ 6:00 pm

Weird Al had a long blog post (in other news, Weird Al has a blog) about how Lady Gaga refused permission for him to parody “Born This Way” on his upcoming new album. Not that she refused, but literally about how she refused:

We send the lyrics to Lady Gaga … After a few days, we get our answer: “She actually needs to hear it. Otherwise the answer is no.”

Hmm. Well, this was mystifying to me. At this point she has the lyrics… and hopefully she is familiar with her own song… and the parody is basically her music… with my lyrics. It really shouldn’t be that hard to decide – based on having the lyrics right in front of you – whether or not you’d be “okay” with a parody. But, alas, we’d been given an ultimatum. If she didn’t hear it, she wouldn’t approve it.

So at great effort and expense, he recorded the track and sent it.

A couple days later we got the final word: Lady Gaga says “no.”

*silent scream*

Bizarre on the face of it. But wait, there’s an update!

Gaga’s manager has now admitted that he never forwarded my parody to Gaga – she had no idea at all. Even though we assumed that Gaga herself was the one making the decision (because, well, that’s what we were TOLD), he apparently made the decision completely on his own.

So Al can put the song on the album and make the slam-bang video he says is in his head, and all’s right with the world.

I suppose it’s possible that the manager is taking a hit for Team Gaga and she really didn’t approve it, but did when she saw that Al released it scorched-earth, by which I mean on the internet for free. Somehow I doubt it, though. If she really had disapproved it, I can’t see Al’s internet fans being enough to sway her–he’s bigger than Firefly, but the story isn’t exactly going to make Yahoo headlines, probably. What was her manager thinking about? Is he too young to know who Weird Al is? Even if he is, isn’t his job to find out? I know that while I’m not too old to know who Lady Gaga is, I’m too old to have deliberately watched or listened to her.

The whole thing is even weirder than the Coolio saga, in which Al says Coolio’s record label gave him permission for the parody “Amish Paradise,” but after the song came out, Coolio said he hadn’t given permission; as I recall, that was while polishing his Grammy for “Gangsta’s Paradise.”

I’m glad this one has a happier ending.

I Don’t Believe What I Just Saw

Filed under:Oh Hell No,Politics,Television — posted by Anwyn on April 17, 2011 @ 12:31 am

This past Tuesday’s episode of The Good Wife guest-starred Fred Thompson as an actor/politician/lawyer never addressed by name, though listed in the closed-captioning as “Thomas.” Clever.

The plot showed Lockhart/Gardner representing an Underdog against an Evil Oil Company based on work conducted in Venezuela, until their case is taken over by Fred Thompson because Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez nationalized the Underdog company. And Fred Thompson is his lawyer. And Hugo Chavez appears (from the neck down, anyway) via videoconference as a lunatic who babbles about all the Americans wanting his oil except Courtney Love. And the true-blue liberal Lockhart/Gardner lawyers stare at him as though he were a particularly odious bug … while Fred Thompson acts as his lawyer with a genial smile disguising a pirahna mentality and, to wrap up, proclaims, “He’s really a nice guy once you get to know him. Sings like an angel.”

Right, because it’s Republicans who sing the praises of Hugo Chavez while Democrats just deplore him, isn’t it?

I am so disappointed that Fred Thompson agreed to do this lying piece of script.

If it was the show’s intent to make a good-faith showing that not everybody in Hollywood is on Sean Penn’s side of this argument, then they should have stopped at making that argument and not spun into it the vicious lie that Republicans, reasonably well-known ones at that, are. Disgusting.

Update: I should clarify that I’m disappointed Thompson agreed to do this hack hit script as himself. As a well-known Republican. Had he been playing a character, John Smith Lawyer who came in to take over the case, well, that’s an acting job and not a hatchet job. But that’s not what this was. His name was never mentioned; Josh Charles’s character walks up to him in disbelief, clearly recognizing him as Fred Thompson; the federal judge in the plot fawns all over him for “inspiring young people” on Law and Order. Sad.

Some Thoughts About Dancing with the Stars

Filed under:Television — posted by Anwyn on April 14, 2011 @ 7:35 pm

Deep, no?

I’ve gone back to Dancing with the Stars after being away from it for a few seasons, both because I missed it and because it’s a fantastic stress buster. Excuse me if I mix up elements of this season with those of last season–I’m watching last season during the week when I’ve already watched this season’s episode (though this week, I have not gotten through the current episodes yet, so don’t tell me who went home. I hope it was Kendra. Bad dancing and bad attitude don’t or shouldn’t last long on this show. Update: Noooooo, Sugar Ray went home and the Playboy B*tchy stayed.)

    –I like the Theme Weeks. Rock Week, Classical Week, TV Theme Song Week, etc. They bring a punch of extra interest for very little cost in the format of the show.

    –I don’t like the new lighting. Remember in The Cutting Edge when Doug and Kate skated in the dark under spotlights, because it wouldn’t have been dramatic enough for the movie otherwise, even though in the Olympics they always skate in full light so the judges (and audience) can see what they’re doing? Yeah, the new lighting is like that for me. The spotlights make it harder to tell how well somebody is really dancing. I should think it would make it harder for the judges too.

    –Along those same lines, two of the Baby Pros danced a waltz this week to show us how it’s done–and the fog machine obscured their feet the whole time. Obscured their feet. On a dancing show. Are the show runners trying to tell us they think America doesn’t care about how well the technical parts of the dances are performed? Or that they think we shouldn’t care? There are other effects like plumes of fire (! a little too close to the band IMHO) that also obscure our view of the dancers. Because apparently I watch it for … Bruno? No. Let me see the dancers, including the feet, please.

    –If they think we don’t care about how the dances are performed, I have to concede that in the case of Bristol Palin, it appears they are right. I don’t want to wade too far into a quagmire here, but Bristol’s performance and people’s reactions to it puzzled me. The judges seemed to go out of their way to take it easy on her–and frankly, I appreciated that a little bit, since the poison and vitriol that have been heaped on that girl and her mother (her whole family, really, but primarily them) is beyond human reckoning at this point. They constantly told her how “correctly” she danced and that she’d be doing well if she’d just put more into the performance side of it. And she never did. I’m not through with the season yet–Rick Fox just got eliminated–but she had no fire at all. I can understand that. She’d never been a performer, she was nineteen, I get it, but since she really couldn’t bring it, why did we vote her back again and again, on into the finals, America? At some point sympathy for what she and her mother have had to deal with isn’t enough. And yes, she and Mark were getting death threats and I have my ideas about what I’d like to do to the senders thereof, but it really isn’t enough to justify all those votes. It was painful for me to watch her go through it week after week while never understanding what was needed to make it click–and still messing up on steps far into the season, and then still going through the motions of saying for the camera that she was going to bring it. Ouch. Not looking forward to seeing how that plays out in the finals. Yes, I know it was last season. I’m slow.

    –Bruno. I once had a professor who taught a class at 11 a.m. To start class, he would say, “Good morning!” And when we’d mumble back, he’d get on the Sighy Look and say “Now, come on, it’s a beautiful day, you can do better than that” etc. etc. That works as an ice breaker. It works as a refresher once in a while. He did it Every. Single. Class. “Good morning!” Mumble mumble. Sigh. “Now, come on, it’s a beautiful day [etc.]… let’s try that again: Good morning!” Louder mumble. Bruno is like that. Bruno, we get it. You are flamboyant. You love it when the dancers do something to be flamboyant about. But it’s Every. Single. Dance. on Every. Single. Show. You stand up, holler something flamboyant and, 50-50 chance, completely inappropriate. And then sometimes you gyrate. Stop it. Just bring it out when the performance really warrants it. Please please! You are tiring out your own schtick. And Len is enabling you by putting on his Disgusted Look and cuddling up to Carrie-Ann. If he would stop reacting, maybe you’d stop too?

    –Speaking of inappropriate, do we really need all these dancing Playboy Bunnies? I guess there’s always been an element of “this is not a family show,” given the way female ballroom dancers dress, but that seems a bit much, especially since they are usually such bad dancers anyway. And WHO hired Wendy Williams or whatever her name is? And WHY?

    –I’m trying really hard to come up with another “I like” to balance all this negativity, but really, the fundamentals of the show are still the fun basics they’ve always been, and I still love it. Don’t change!

Update: Having watched the semifinals and Brandy’s elimination, I’ll balance my criticism above with a couple of points:

–1) Bristol’s semifinal paso was amazing, and up UNTIL the Brandy elimination, I can fairly say Bristol was not saved over anybody who shockingly and overtly needed to stay, not even Rick Fox. Kurt Warner was very cute and very competent, but in actual dance technique he wasn’t noticeably better than Bristol, and just like a friend tells me that women get their LSAT scores padded in the admissions office, men get their performances “padded” in the minds of viewers because it’s amazing enough if they can even do the steps, have rhythm, and have a smile on their face while they perform. Women of the same ability level suffer by contrast, because as they said in, again, The Cutting Edge, the man is the stem, the woman is the flower, and a lot more is expected of her in performance.

–2) Once it’s a done deal, the judges really shouldn’t make it harder on the person who is staying by calling it “shocking” right there on the show. Let the pundits and bloggers and celeb gossips call it “shocking” tomorrow. Be sorry for the person departing without overtly devaluing the effort of the person staying. When Brandy’s name was called, Bristol’s first look was not at Mark, it was not a grin of relief, it wasn’t even an open-mouth WTF? at the camera. She immediately looked at Brandy, and she was concerned for her hurt. The judges may not have gotten enough real emotion out of her to suit them during the dances, but it was there then. She’s not dumb and she must have known that the gossip would tear her apart tomorrow; don’t make it worse by calling it a shock right there on the show. Maks was even able to be gracious, saying one of the reasons his parents came to this country is because the people vote.

Do I care too much about a competition that ended last November? Well, maybe.


Filed under:Cool,Movies,Television,Tolkien — posted by Anwyn @ 10:27 am

This has to be the ultimate (and, probably, only) crossover between Firefly and The Lord of the Rings. As a bonus, it’s a Jayne shirt.

Why is it a crossover? The Chinese says “Fighting Elves.”

Via Whedonesque.

Don’t Cross the Streams … of Awesome

Filed under:Cool,Movies,Music — posted by Anwyn on April 8, 2011 @ 6:44 pm

The high school musical gods meet Star Wars. It’s from 1996, and I’m unclear if the three writers were students or the adults involved (and there had to be some, right?), but here it is–a musical even a geekman from my generation can enjoy, unless of course that man is too culturally bereft even to have seen, say, Grease. The writers of Star Wars: The Musical took tunes from there, from Les Mis, from Beauty and the Beast, from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,from Phantom of the Opera … and those were just the ones I recognized in the first segment, or ones that my sister recognized for me after I sang her a few bars. (Joseph was never my favorite.) So no, it’s not really a musical for a musical-hatin’ man, because the extra kick comes from recognizing the songs, but nevertheless it is a thing of high school beauty and awesome. A taste, as posted at Neatorama (the whole thing is up in segments at the link above):

If I were this creative I never would have left music teaching. Godspeed, kids.

Likes Holmes Without Watson

Filed under:Not Cool,Television — posted by Anwyn @ 11:27 am


House & Wilson’s relationship on the show has evolved somewhat; Wilson has learned a bit from the constant kicks to the head; I’d like to see it evolve a little more. The show might survive without Wilson but it will be severely diminished. House is one of the few shows I know of that not only survives, but survives well, when its cast is changed out–partly because House himself changes so little that it becomes necessary to change up the people around him to keep the show moving–but this would be a blow to the roots. I have a lot of faith in the show’s writers, more than in, say, the writers of Chuck (which is a whole ‘nother topic) that they still have a lot to say about Wilson and can bring him to an even newer, more balanced place. I have faith they could manage without him, but the should would be considerably less. Come back, James!

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace