Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Years Explained

On this day of February 29th, 2012, it seems appropriate to take a moment to consider that strange (and wonderful?) phenomenon that is the leap year. Not merely a crappy (and ill-timed) Amy Adams vehicle, the leap year is actually a method of timekeeping devised in an attempt to eliminate errors resulting from the irregularity of the Earth's rotation around the Sun. I'll let the video below explain further, but suffice to say it's a surprisingly interesting and complex concept. Anyway, please enjoy this interesting and educational video on leap years:

Today also presents an opportunity to pause and reflect: where were you on the last February 29th? I mean that literally, meta-phorically/physically, spiritually, however you want to consider your life really. For me, it was 2008 and I was living in Montreal and working my way through the third year of an undergraduate degree in English Literature and Cultural Studies. Most importantly I had not yet attended law school and was therefore a much, much, much happier and less cynical person. Ahh, memories... 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Belated Media: Scream

The latest awesome thing I've found during my daily scouring of the Internet is Belated Media, a video series of film reviews steeped in sarcasm, geekery, and pretension. There aren't many videos in the series but they can all be found here on YouTube (there's also a very ugly tumblr blog and a Facebook page). Some of my favourites are the Top 10 of 2010 video and the Black Swan review (that started it all?), but the absolute best is the Scream review embedded below. Just watch it, Belated Media speaks (at length) for itself. Suffice to say it's a fantastic review of an incredible film:

This video series is the perfect match for me. It's snide and geeky and funny, and more than one person has already pointed out significant similarities between our styles. In that sense I suppose my admiration is almost an indirect form of vanity, which I am completely ok with. I'd be lying if I said that watching these videos hadn't made me at least consider putting together a video review of one of the movies I've seen recently and enjoyed (reviews are incoming, I swear). But regardless of all that, Belated Media presents witty and intelligent commentary on popular movies. You should check it out. End of story.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Lessons in (il)Literacy: Ayn Rand

This post is the first in what I cynically expect hope will become a series of my favourite bad quotes in literature/academic writing. I have a few examples ready to go but hopefully I'll find more as I go along. Basically the idea is just to share the best examples of terrible writing by widely liked respected known authors. To start things off with a bang, I want to share an old favourite quote from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.

Slight disclaimer: I haven't actually read Atlas Shrugged in its entirety. I tried to get through it just to experience the batshit-crazy curious objectivist philosophy, mostly because my interest had been piqued by the game Bioshock. However, about 80 pages into the "timeless" classic I put the book down in disgust, partially at the politics but more so at the writing. It was just so... I'm not sure what the right word for it is. Pathetic, disgusting, amateur, horrendous, these are all words that come to mind, but none of them seem quite right. I'll just let the quote below speak to the general quality of the prose. It's always stood out to me as one of the most simultaneously painful and hilarious few sentences I've ever read, so hopefully you can get some sort of kick out of it too.

Eddie Willers shook his head, as the screech of a -rusty mechanism changing a traffic light stopped him on the edge of a curb. He felt anger at himself. There was no reason that he had to remember the oak tree tonight. It meant nothing to him any longer, only a faint tinge of sadness—and somewhere within him, a drop of pain moving briefly and vanishing, like a raindrop on the glass of a window, its course in the shape of a question mark.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Max Landis' The Death and Return of Superman

Max Landis, son of director John Landis, is the writer behind the recently released Chronicle, a film about three high school friends who get superpowers and "make an amazing discovery." I haven't heard anything about the movie but its synopsis isn't exactly inspiring, and when I saw the trailer I initially thought I was watching an old ad for either Hancock or Heroes. Those are both bad signs. However the movie seems to be doing relatively well critically so maybe it's better than it looks. I'll probably check it out. But none of that is what I'm posting about today.

In (what I assume is) a move to support Chronicle, the younger Landis has released a short film in which he rants about the (apparently terrible) mid-90s comic series The Death and Return of Superman. In case you need the painfully obvious pointed out to you, it's a comic wherein Superman dies and then comes back to life. Because he wasn't already being compared to Jesus enough already. Anyway, the Death and Return storyline is generally panned as being emblematic of everything that was wrong with modern comics in the 90s, namely that they relied on big crossovers/events that shocked people into buying issues that lacked actual substance. So in the video Landis breaks down how terrible this Superman storyline is, point by (hilarious) point, and also discusses the underlying comic-industry-executives rationale behind the whole event. Meanwhile various celebrities (Mandy Moore, Elijah Wood, etc) act out what Landis describes in a similar fashion to the always incredible Drunk History videos.

If you've taken the time to read this far into the post then for your own sake please take 15 more minutes to watch the video below. It's hilarious, insightful, and kinda made me want to check out Chronicle. Also I promise to make this my last post about comics for a while, it's only now dawning on me that there have been a lot of them lately.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Ugh x 1,000,000: DC Announces 'Before Watchmen'

Today DC comics finally gave in and announced its inevitable 'Before Watchmen' line, seven mini-series that will act as prequels to Allan Moore's classic Watchmen. Each mini-series will feature one of Moore's characters/groups as its central focus, with one depicting the history of Dr. Manhattan (wait, didn't we get that in the original series?) and another featuring the tale of the Crimson Corsair...

... Seriously? For real? As if this didn't seem enough like a cash-grab already, they actually had to go and dedicate an entire mini-series to the Crimson Corsair? Sigh... Only slightly less horrifying is the promo image for Rorschach #1 (seen below) that depicts the character in a sort of goon-like pose silhouetted on his own face... Yeah...

Anyway, I would link you directly to DC's press release but as of this writing the DC website seems to be down. Perhaps Anonymous lashed out at them in response to this news. Either way, I read about this at Topless Robot and/or /Film, but the news is everywhere.