Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Murdoch bought Dow Jones

Oh I don't like the sounds of this. Not one bit. Forget my theories about Dick Cheney assembling an army to take over the world. (I'd link to an old blog post here, but I haven't revealed it yet on Street Cred. Maybe soon, blog readers. Maybe soon.) But Dick Cheney's got nothin on everyone's favorite media scavenger: Rupert Murdoch.

"Murdoch's $5B bid for Dow Jones succeeds." Read it and weep.

I heard about the bid sometime last week, but I must have blocked it from my mind out of shock. Now there's confirmation, and I think my head is going to explode.

In case you're short on time, here are the highlights. Rupert Murdoch, the CEO of News Corp (yes, that's the home of Fox News), now owns Dow Jones. This means Murdoch will control The Wall Street Journal, Barron's and all the Dow Jones electronic news services. Click here to read the Center for American Progress' rundown of what else Murdoch controls as of 2004 (it's probably a lot more as of 2007). You won't believe it.

This is a scary day for American journalism. I'm going to have to go back to my Media Law textbook and try to figure out how the hell this is legal.

Stay tuned for another post about this, once I think about it a little more.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Fueling my fire

Global warming's all the rage these days, and I'm fueling the fire.

(My new t-shirt that says "This is Why I'm Hot" with a sweating planet earth screened across the front will attest to that. Yeah, that's right. See image below.)

I'd love to wax on about how we need to start saving the earth, and I'm sure you'd love to hear it, but unfortunately I have to go to sleep. However, I can't resist posting a few links to some interesting things I stumbled across today.

First of all, have you seen this website: Blackle? It's Google in black. According to Google, the bright white screens of their regular interface use more energy than a black screen. So this is a Google search with a black interface, which tells you how much energy you're saving as you search. My only beef with it is that you can't search for images and stuff like you can on the normal Google. But hey, it's worth the switching back and forth to help save some energy, right? However, I must note here that I talked with our Flash developer at work today, and he said that the black interface only saves energy if you're using an old CRT monitor (like on old desktops). He said that it takes MORE energy to make the black interface on an LCD screen (like on laptops and flat-screen desktop monitors) because they're backlit. I'm not sure about that. But anyway, check out Blackle anyway, cuz it's pretty cool.

Secondly, what do environmentalists, economists, poverty activists and libertarians have in common? You might be surprised. Read this interesting article from Slate called The Ethanol Backlash is Here. Daniel Gross gives a quick recap of the newest backlash against the latest craze: ethanol fuel. Ethanol haters are coming out of the woodwork, and Gross briefly outlines the arguments and refutes them all pretty well with just a small paragraph at the end. It's a situation I'm interested in staying on top of, since we clearly need some kind of alternative, and I was kind of hoping corn is it. I never liked eating that stuff anyway.

Lastly, I have to do a quick plug for a website I wrote content for earlier this summer, Greener FAQs. Although the site's really crappy, there are some really good tips on there for small things you can do to Go Green. (Please ignore the repetition of words in the copy. That's to get the site better placement on search engines. I really do write better than that. Haha.) Anyway, I did a bunch of research and put together the best tips about going green at home, at work, on the road and just in general. See the links under "GreenerFAQs" on the left hand side to find them. There's just three or four tips in each category, but they're actually worth considering. It's kind of too bad that nobody ever sees the site, because the information is decent.

Also, the Greener Store on the site has a bunch of cool stuff you can buy through Amazon.com that relates to global warming, including CFL bulbs, the DVD of An Inconvenient Truth, and stuff like canvas bags and clothes promoting global warming. Not that the packaging and shipping of that stuff helps the global warming problem. But hey, you know you're gonna order stuff online anyway. Might as well be global warming stuff.

Okay, I guess that's all for my global warming rant today. Also, if you want to laugh a little with regards to climate change, see my earlier post with the Will Ferrell video spoof of George Bush.

what a Thriller!

This is amazing. It's the inmates from the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center in the Philippines. They dance to Thriller. And they're actually really good. I guess this is a taping of one of their rehearsals... apparently they do a bunch of different numbers. You can find them here. Thriller's one of my favs in general though, so I think this one is particularly fantastic. Enjoy.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Parent Trap, indeed

Does anyone remember when Lindsay Lohan looked like this?

Oh Lindsay. You grew up so fast. (PS, Good luck in jail. Don't worry, we know it wasn't your fault. Oh, and good job with the ankle bracelet. That really put people off the scent for a while. But those pesky license suspensions. They get ya every time.)

Ah well. These were the good old days. It's on TV right now, and it's really weird to watch, actually.

Seriously though, Parent Trap is a great movie. The old version with Haley Mills is really a classic. But Lindsay's version is decent too.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

"You gotta hear this one song. It'll change your life, I swear."

Large: Fuck, this hurts so much.
Sam: I know. But that is life. If nothing else that's life, you know? It's real. Sometimes it fucking hurts. But, you know, it's sorta all we have.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Back in the closet...

At the risk of overshadowing my (for once) thought-out blog post yesterday, I can't resist posting this. I've had a bad day, and this news really gave me a great pick-me-up. If you're sick of my superficial bullshit, refer to the previous post and read that instead. However, if you're yearning for more superficial bullshit, have I got the post for you!

Today I read on EW.com that R. Kelly is not only planning to continue his oft-mocked hip-hopera "Trapped in the Closet" -- he's already produced a bunch more chapters! According to his interview with the BBC, he's got 38 chapters done so far (the first round clocked in at 12). Ten new chapters will be released on August 21. This is the best news I've heard in a long time. I guess the first release of the new ones will be on the Independent Film Channel's website. Before the release, IFC will run the 12 old chapters on television. So if you haven't caught VH1's many Trapped In the Closet marathons (snarky commentary included), catch it on IFC. Or you can borrow the DVD from me. (Director's commentary is UNREAL. R Kels is serious about this. This is NOT a joke. If you want to know more about Trapped in the Closet, just ask me. Sadly, I'm an expert. There's something about this that I'm strangely drawn to...)

So start getting excited about the new releases coming in August and the marathon on IFC. And in the meantime, here are the original first 5 chapters, in case you haven't experienced the Closet yet. Seriously, watch it. It's hilarious.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Waiting on the World...

**Caveat: I suppose it could be argued that this post belongs on my TV blog, but its timely political element prompts me to lend it some Street Cred.**

Every week, I watch So You Think You Can Dance and think about how I wish I could make my body move like these dancers can. I've never been the biggest dance fan, even though I took dance classes for 15 years. But my sister coerced me into watching this show because she loves Mia Michaels' choreography, and she knows that while I'm not a big dance aficionado, I do LOVE good choreography. She was right.

I'm so moved by these dances every week, particularly the ones choreographed by Mia or Wade (contemporary choreographers... and both nominated for Emmys), as well as Shane (hip-hop choreographer). Anyway, I'm not planning on waxing on about the dancing or the episodes. My point is that what I like about the dancing on this show is that it really is art. It's simply beautiful to watch, and I've grown to think of contemporary dance as one of the most moving forms of expression. These dancers say more with their bodies than most people ever SAY, period. See Mia's choreography from last season here (the dancing starts at 1:45):

That being said, I have a real problem with something that went down this week. I have yet to go back and watch the DVRs to get the exact transcript of all this, but tonight the results show became an apology fest.

Mia kicked things off by apologizing to the US Navy for wearing a fashion jacket last night that looks like a military jacket, except apparently one of the emblems on the sleeve is upside down. She said she had NO idea that the emblem was upside down, but apparently the Navy was really offended. (Why is the Navy watching So You Think You Can Dance?) I mean... ok. Yeah, maybe that wasn't the best wardrobe decision. It's just that anyone who watches this show knows that Mia is absolutely bizarre. (Her wardrobe every week is bound to offend anyone with a fashion sensibility. Haha.) But, okay. She also apologized for it a SECOND time later in the show. Sigh. Once was enough, Mia. We know you're just odd, not unpatriotic.

It's really unfortunate that Mia's wardrobe snafu was paired with Wade's political "controversy." And I use the word controversy loosely. Here's what happened.

They changed the format of the competition this week, adding a portion of the show where each remaining dancer dances to the same choreography and the same song, so that the viewers can compare them all on a more level playing field. Great idea, in my opinion. The performers danced this week's solos to Wade's contemporary choreography of John Mayer's "Waiting on the World to Change." In his explanation of the number, Wade mentioned that he wanted the solos to be powerful, so he had the dancers think about the lyrics of "Waiting on the World to Change" in terms of the war. (I'd argue that the song's already about the war.) (View the lyrics here, or listen to the song below.)


Regardless of your opinion of John Mayer or this song, this show is about dance. Okay, yes, we had to listen to/watch this 10 times in a row. Yes, their costumes were shirts they painted themselves, with peace signs on the front and a word chosen by the dancer stenciled on the back. (Words like "communication" "love" "peace" "passion"... these are not unpatriotic words.) But I didn't even notice any of that stuff when I watched the dances in the first place, because the choreography was amazing, the dancing was emotional and pristine, and the message was touching.

Anyway, after Mia's wardrobe apology to the US Navy, show producer and panel judge Nigel made an apology to the NATION on behalf of the show for Wade's number last night. (Wade was conspicuously M.I.A.) Yes, an apology to the country. Apparently they'd gotten a lot of complaints, and he wanted to make it clear that So You Think You Can Dance is behind the country and the troops.

Here's my problem... why is So You Think You Can Dance making a national apology for a message of peace??

First of all, the TV show didn't write the song.

Secondly, when did peace become subversive?! (Oh wait, silly me. It's always been that way. Okay, strike that.)

Thirdly, everyone's got to face the facts. This mess we've gotten ourselves into means that a whole lot of people are dying. These kids on this show have friends, brothers, sisters -- and even age-cohort counterparts who they don't know in other countries -- who are dying while they're dancing. I know that sounds a little dramatic, but the tears in the dancers' eyes last night show that it's true. I still don't understand how wishing for peace means you don't support the troops. In my eyes it means you do support them - you hope they can come home safely, and soon. I also don't understand how Wade's touching choreography has people saying his Emmy nomination should be taken away. His Emmy nom should be taken away?! You've GOT to be kidding.

Let's face it... art has always been used this way. Maybe because it's so powerful, art has been used throughout history to make political and social statements, advocate for change and encourage peace and harmony. I guess maybe art is inherently subversive. War time doesn't change that. (Insert arguments about how art for Art's sake and art commercially marketed for television are two very different things. That's a debate for another time. I maintain my argument.)

What's more, art is about expression. What's wrong with expressing a desire to change the world?! If you're a person who doesn't want to change the world, move the hell over and let the rest of us try to make a difference. The solos last night were emotional, honest, and anything but subversive. If we're not fighting for peace, love, communication... then why are we fighting?

We aren't supposed to express anything at all, is that it? We're supposed to mindlessly agree with everything the government says? That doesn't sound much like American precepts of democracy to me. It also doesn't sound very smart.

I won't get in to all my problems with the war... that's not even my point here. My point is that it was dancing, it was art, it was expression, it was powerful... and it shouldn't be flagged by the Department of Homeland Security or anyone in the square states for being anti-Bush or unpatriotic. (I'll also omit here my argument about how maybe being anti-Bush is the most patriotic thing you can do. Oh wait, I guess I just made it.)

Passion. Peace. Love. Community. Those sound like the foundations of democracy and patriotism to me. All I'm wondering is, what ever happened to freedom of expression? And if it's not allowed in the world of dance... we're really in trouble. One more reason I'm waiting on the world to change.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"Your Commander-in-Chief of the WORLD"

Hahaha. This is a great video. It's Will Ferrell, impersonating George Bush, talking about global warming. It's so great that it's almost scary, because I think this is really how Georgie Jr. thinks.

Also, did anyone else have a panic attack when they read that Cheney was in charge of the country while Bush had surgery?!! I never realized until then how much worse THAT would be than having Bush in charge. Not that Cheney isn't in charge already anyway. But having Bush as the figurehead to Cheney's Parliament in this monarchy of two is different than having a dictatorship of one. Sigh.

P.S. This one's really funny too. Same idea.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Flipper, indeed

Yet one more reason to do it in a submarine...

from an article about submarine travel on Bloomberg.com, as seen on The Colbert Report:

"Dolphins are easily excited when they sense people making love. They get jealous and bang their noses against the window."

So go ahead. Make a dolphin jealous.

(Sorry, I couldn't resist. And I was all set to write something meaningful here for once, too. Ah well. So goes the blogosphere.)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Talk about street cred!

I heard from my favorite college professor today -- Denny Wilkins. He's also known as the master of the red pen. And the green pen. The blue, black and purple ones too. No, seriously. If you had him for class, he was infamous for turning back your articles marked up in 5 different color markers. Anyway, I really respect him. He's a fantastic journalist, the greatest writer, and just a generally great guy. I was telling him about the Paris Hilton site, and he sent me a link to a blog post of his where he talked about the news coverage of Paris. Denny's amazing, and so I wanted to give his blog a little plug here. He's not the only writer. He founded it with his friend Sam Smith, and now they have a little staff. Definitely worth checking out! Pop on over if you get a chance.

P.S. Here's Denny's bio on the site. Classic:
"Dr. Denny Wilkins teaches journalism at a small private university in the northeastern United States. He’s broadly interested in how the world works and why it works that way — and how it could work better. Specifically, he posts on issues relating to journalism; journalism education; science and technology; environmental policy; politics, economics and performance of the press; and the occasional annoying screed about politics, campaign finance reform and economics. He is occasionally irritating. (Well, okay, he’s often irritating.)"

Gotta love the Den-ster.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

To Sir, with Love

Tonight I went to Bryant Park for the weekly Monday night movie. This week it was To Sir, with Love. It's a 1967 classic starring Sidney Poitier, and it's about an inner-city high school with white troublemaker students and a black teacher. I guess that makes it a bit of a reversal, compared to modern movies.

We didn't really watch much of the actual movie. Jeanne fell asleep, then Steph and I chatted through a lot of the rest of it. (Yeah, I know, don't worry, I get annoyed when people talk through movies too. But a '60s movie projected onto a big screen in a park in the middle of midtown Manhattan isn't exactly a quiet setting.) But from what I did see, I think Michelle Pfeiffer is in it, and then they teach the at-risk youth to respect each other and that basketball isn't the only way out of the "ghetto." Then (interspersed with scenes of the kids' abusive-slash-neglectful parents in run-down apartments, of course), the teachers show the students that they, too, can write fictional masterpieces and even learn to ballroom dance. But in the end the kids end up teaching the teachers a thing or two themselves. ;-)

In all seriousness though, it seems like To Sir With Love was the original in this oft-repeated, oft-mocked genre. Maybe I should have payed more attention at Bryant Park.

The real reason for my entry is to say that watching a movie on the lawn in Bryant Park is definitely as cool as I thought it would be. If you live in NYC or are ever in NYC on a Monday night in the summer, you've got to go. It's a NY experience that shouldn't be missed. Don't forget to bring a bottle of wine.

Oh, also, I much prefer Natalie Merchant's remake of the song "To Sir With Love" over Lulu's version. Just putting that out there.

Monday, July 16, 2007

"Let's make it a dance..."

Just watch it. No explanation needed. (Except that, yes, this was an actual commercial.) I don't know about you, but if I lived in Montgomery, I'd definitely get my furniture here... after all, it IS just like a mini-mall...

This is our theme song at work. Can you think of anything better?!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Harmony: Only for straights??

This morning during my daily browse of Slate.com (p.s. if you don't read Slate, you should), I wandered over to one of my favorite sections, the Ad Report Card. They reviewed the new Chemistry.com commercials, which actually have caught my attention even during DVR zip-throughs. They all end with a big red stamp on the screen that reads "Rejected." The ads claim that Chemistry's competitor eHarmony.com has rejected over one million applicants.

Apparently there's one ad I hadn't seen before. It's in the "Rejected" series of Chemistry ads, but it's targeted toward the gay audience. I never thought about it before (I guess partly because I've never used these kinds of websites), but I guess eHarmony has a strict heterosexual policy. Homosexuals need not apply. Watch the ad here. (It's very clever.)

What I also learned from Slate is that eHarmony was founded by Dr. Neil Clark Warren, an evangelical Christian tied to the ultra-conservative Focus on the Family franchise. Yikes. I had no idea.

Last month, a gay woman from California filed a suit against eHarmony claiming discrimination. Warren's justification for the eHarmony policy, and his stubborn defense of it in the face of any criticism whatsoever, shouldn't be a surprise. That's Focus on the Family's game. But I still can't believe it. Listen to his interview on NPR's Fresh Air, and see what you think.

First of all, am I the only person who had no idea that eHarmony was so religious? Read Warren's article about eHarmony's mission. I honestly had no idea. I also had no idea that the original marketing plan was targeted to Christians (including the words "Christian values") and that eHarmony's goal is to create marriages. Have I just not been paying attention? How did I miss this??

Secondly, Warren's comments about gay love and gay marriage are just offensive. Even just the fact that he differentiates between gay love and love. As if gay applicants are some kind of alien life form to whom research about love doesn't apply. Gay people can't be in love? Sigh. I won't even get in to any of this, but... it's offensive. And he's completely unapologetic. I can't stand it.

I'm getting too disheartened to write anymore. But the moral of my story is... 1) please don't be hateful, and 2) if you ever sign up for a dating place like this, never choose eHarmony.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"It may not be cool, but it's so where I live."

As much as I'd like to stay away from writing reviews of any sort (sorry, it's a backlash from getting a master's in criticism), it is a good way to get back into the writing-for-fun mindset. So I'm doing it anyway. Just briefly. And I wouldn't call this a critique as much as a plug.

A few weeks ago, I was debating whether I should see the musical 110 in the Shade. Some of my friends had said it wasn't that great and that I should go see Spring Awakening instead. So two weeks ago I saw Spring Awakening, and tonight I saw 110 in the Shade. Here's my verdict: see BOTH of them. They're fabulous. Here's why.

Everyone keeps saying Spring Awakening is like a complete, polished version of Rent, if Jonathan Larson hadn't died before he finished it. I agree with that. The music is very contemporary -- contemporary as in 2007-ish, not '90s music like Rent. The story is set in 1890s Germany, with costumes and sets to match, but the language and the lyrics and the electric-guitar-laden music is strikingly modern (think Green Day, Dashboard Confessional, Fall Out Boy, etc.). (P.S. The music is by Duncan Sheik, of "Barely Breathing" fame, but I promise the music is not '90s-ish. It's excellent.) The show is about sex and violence and death and growing up, and how the more things change, the more they stay the same. It's pretty artsy, and you have to be ready for a) lots of sex and talk about sex, and b) the cognitive disconnect between the set/costumes/setting and the music/language/themes. Trust me. They're doing it on purpose. The writers didn't think people used slang like "it's the bitch of living" and "we've all got our junk, and my junk is you" in 1890s Germany. Go with it. You'll figure it out by the end of Act One. Wanna hear some of the music? Check out the video below of the cast's performance at the 2007 Tony Awards of a medley of songs from Spring Awakening, including "Mama Who Bore Me," "The Bitch of Living" and "Totally Fucked."

110 in the Shade is a much more old-fashioned musical, but you can't beat the stellar acting and the emotional punch this show delivers. I think I cried 4 times. Honestly. Audra McDonald is just amazing. And the performance at the Tonys didn't do the show justice, since it was taken out of context. It's a kind of Music Man-type plot... you know, traveling swindler comes to town and shakes things up. But there's a twist at the end. It really is so moving. Go see it.

Okay, that's my theater rundown for the night. I'm going to try to post every day, so stay tuned, blog readers.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Okay, I turn 24 today (it's 1 am, so I can say "today"), and I'm working at a normal job that requires me to wake up at 6:30 am. What I mean is, I need to go to bed. But I just thought I'd let all my readers (Ben) know that I'm going to start blogging again. Especially now that I know how to use html and affiliate links and all that cool stuff, thanks to my new job. You can check out the latest fruits of my labor at Paris Hilton FAQs. Anyway, hopefully I'll blog about something more meaningful later, but for now... I'm excited to be turning 24 -- because I love the show 24. How lame is that.

(beep. beep. beep. beep. beep.)

Oh, also, I love the movie Closer, which I was reminded of tonight. So I offer a few quotes from the movie, for your enjoyment:

Alice: You still fancy me?
Dan: ... Of course.
Alice: You're lying. I've been you.

Anna: Why is the sex so important?
Larry: Because I'm a fucking caveman!

Dan: You think love is simple. You think the heart is like a diagram!
Larry: Have you ever seen a human heart? It looks like a fist, covered in blood! Go fuck yourself! You writer! You liar!

Dan: At six, we stand round the computer and read the next day's page, make final changes, put in a few euphemisms to amuse ourselves...
Alice: Such as?
Dan: "He was a convivial fellow" - meaning he was an alcoholic. "He valued his privacy" - gay. "He enjoyed his privacy" - raging queen.
Alice: What would my euphemism be?
Dan: She was... disarming.
Alice: That's not a euphemism.
Dan: Yes, it is.

Alice: It's a lie. It's a bunch of sad strangers photographed beautifully, and... all the glittering assholes who appreciate Art say it's beautiful 'cause that's what they wanna see. But the people in the photos are sad, and alone... But the pictures make the world seem beautiful, so... the exhibition is reassuring, which makes it a lie, and everyone loves a big fat lie.

Dan: You love her like a dog loves its owner.
Larry: And the owner loves the dog for so doing.
Dan: You'll hurt her. You'll never forgive her.
Larry: Of course I'll forgive her. I have forgiven her. Without forgiveness we're savages. You're drowning.