Sick on a Sunday

A 12-Year-Old Reviews “Sucker Punch”

Posted in Entertainment by jamie on April 1, 2011

It’s like this girl? And she has to go to, like, a mental institution… but then it’s some kind of sex club? It was a weird movie.

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Take Care, Take Care, Take Care

Posted in Entertainment, music, Random Rants, Things That Own, Uncategorized by jamie on March 27, 2011

Moments are difficult things to capture. Artists in many mediums have taken different cracks at it. In the world of literature authors like William Faulkner and James Joyce have produced works that, while not the most easily read, are certainly among the most important. Their stories represent an attempt to capture all the subtleties of a moment in time through the written word. Faulkner and Joyce take all the grimy, ugly, and inconvenient details of life that less daring authors sanitize, and throw them right in your face. At times one might be tempted to put down one of their books, not because it’s too sophisticated to enjoy, but because it feels too real.  With the turn of every page the reader begins to wonder, doubt, and eventually become convinced that maybe life has no real meaning. We’re born, we live, we reproduce, and we die. Life flows from one moment to the next with little to no regard for what befalls the wicked and the righteous.

That all seems very bleak, but as Explosions in the Sky stated through the title of their most well known album, “Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place,” there is beauty in the world. With their latest work “Take Care, Take Care, Take Care,” they make a strong argument for music as the best equipped medium to capture that beauty.

From the opening notes of the first track of the album, Last Known Surroundings, the band takes hold of the listener’s imagination. Sunsets, fields, deserts, mountains, streams, city  streets, cars, skylines, living rooms, bottles, smiles, Explosions have given sonic life to all of these things and more in the musical arrangements present on Take Care, Take Care, Take Care.

Now don’t go getting the wrong idea about this album. This isn’t a cliched easy listening experience. This is rock music. Powerful drums and expansive guitar tones dominate the musical expanse of this record. On this album Explosions in the Sky have finally found the perfect middle ground between shoegaze and head bang. Whenever the band threatens to lull one to sleep with subtle guitar work, a thunderous eruption of percussion and rhythm is never too far behind. The dynamic works both ways. The uncharacteristically short Trembling Hands is possibly the most energetic and bombastic Explosions song to date, but it’s followed up by the subdued beauty of Be Comfortable, Creature.

Explosions in the Sky represent the head of the so called “post rock” movement. A wave of bands who have abandoned vocalists and strive to show the world that a five piece rock band can be every bit as epic, expressive, and important as the symphony orchestras of old. Much like the works of Faulkner, Joyce, and other stream of consciousness writers, the music by bands like Explosions in the Sky is anything but traditional. It takes hold of you and demands your full attention, but the reward for giving one’s ears over to the band are rich indeed.

You Aren’t Worth Shit

I am an unemployed twenty-something who this week decided it was time to start looking for a job again. I have had a few interviews and have seen many more prospects which I have applied to. The most interesting part of job hunting however has been all the insulting craigslist ads I have come across. These are ads that require you to have a dizzying array of skill, experience, and qualities, as well as calling upon you to shoulder the responsibilities of multiple workers. A Magna Carta sized lists of duties and requirements alone don’t make the ads an insult to all workers, rather it’s usually the salary offered at the end of the ad.

Let’s cut to the chase here. I present to you my first in a list of ads I’ve seen on craigslist entitled “You Aren’t Worth Shit”

This ad appears to actually be for two positions. Either way, the person who listed it must think that job hunters are desperate, which they are, and therefore not worth an ingrown hair on a dog’s ass. The first job will be compensated minimum wage, and whatever lucky pleb gets the second more sophisticated position will be paid a staggering EIGHT DOLLARS AN HOUR.

 

Job #1
http://losangeles.craigslist.org/sgv/ofc/2172723829.html
***FULL TIME-DATA ENTRY CLERK & INTERNET MARKETING SPECIALIST (Rosemead, CA)
Date: 2011-01-21, 12:04PM PSTReply to: job-bqnnt-2172723829@craigslist.org
Immediate opening for a full time Data-Entry clerk
Job Description:
• Create spreadsheet files. • Process orders efficiently and accurately. • Answer phones. • Other related office procedures.

Qualifications:
• Detail oriented. • Working knowledge of computers (MS word, Excel, etc.) is a must. • Must type at least 35wpm. • Must be proficient in QuickBooks. • Ability to multi-task. • Minimum 1 year experience. • High level of accuracy. • Self-motivated, dependable, and able to work independently

If this looks like the right position for you to utilize and improve your skills, please submit your resume to hr@toners.com or fax to (626) 288-6638.

Location: Rosemead, CA 91770 Compensation: Minimum Wage

Job #2

***INTERNET MARKETING SPECIALIST***

Ink cartridges and Toner company is looking for a dedicated hard working Marketing/E-Commerce Manager to implement the marketing development of a new website.
Requirements
•FTP / HTML / CSS / Domains / DNS / SSL •PPC / SEO / SEM o

Adjust bids to out rank the competition. o Develop and manage SEO program, ensuring site, links and all content is optimized to build organic traffic. o Manages the development and execution of internal and external advertising production, including landing pages and banners for company website, Build SEM partners and Affiliate partners. •Build Product pages from beginning to end (Magento). •E-mail marketing campaigns. •Managing affiliate network and Commission Junction, including product feeds, product launches, setting-up commission tiers, working with top affiliates, reporting and optimizing the sales channel. •Social Media o Facebook o Twitter •Anaylytics o Track and analyze all relevant e-Commerce metrics to improve traffic and conversions. o Competitive Analysis: Ongoing competitive analysis of similar sites •Develop full scale marketing plans and schedules – breakdown structure to estimate required effort. •Prefer familiarity with Magento Shopping Cart •5+ years experience (references & background check will be conducted)
Knowledge of the following is a plus: •Experience in marketing in the jewelry industry. •Java •AJAX •Flash •Wikis •PHP •MySQL

To apply and have your resume reviewed, the following MUST be included:
• Cover letter including salary history & requirement.
• Resume

  • Location: Rosemead, CA
  • Compensation: $8/hr

Nick Swardson’s Pretend Time: Dumb

Posted in Entertainment, Random Rants, Things That Don't Own by jamie on December 15, 2010

I like Nick Swardson, more or less, so when his show came on after the Colbert Report last night, I left it on.

It was dumb.  And not just, like, not funny.  It was like the show’s writers didn’t really know what they were talking about and didn’t bother to fact-check.  I get that it’s a sketch comedy show, but for me to be correcting really stupid things that I’m not an expert on is just sloppy television.

This came up in a Google image search for "archaeologist". The guy in the sketch was wearing this same hat.

 

 

For example, they reenact the discovery of King Tut’s tomb and someone says something along the lines of, “I didn’t get into anthropology for this!”

Anthropology? I may have an advantage discerning the differences between anthropology and archaeology, having taken Anthropology 2* in college, but it only takes one viewing of Indiana Jones to be able to identify an archeologist.

 

 

 

Example two, which is a bit more serious: Guy goes into the Amazon and learns about voodoo.

Funny, because voodoo was brought to the Caribbean and French diaspora by West African slaves.  I’m no cartographer, but I’m pretty sure the Amazon is in South America.  I did, however, take a “Francophone Narrative” class in college where, oddly, I learned about this stuff. (And what the word “diaspora” means.)

Even without a Comparative Literature college minor (because why else would you take a class called Francophone Narrative?), the writing staff probably could have figured out the basics with their available resources.  Like, I dunno, Google. Or Wikipedia.  In fact, a Wikipedia search for “voodoo” produces these results:

Pretty sure “Amazonian Voodoo” is not an option.  And it’s not like the actual people of the Amazon aren’t pretty prevalent in the news and a frequently studied group of people (hey! this is where anthropology comes in!). This would almost be racist if it weren’t so willfully ignorant and lazy.

And on top of it all, the show is boring and not funny.  Sorry Nick, better luck next time.

*UC’s denote lower-division classes as single-digit numbers, instead of 100-level classes like most other schools I’m aware of.

Single-Sentence Movie Reviews

Posted in Entertainment, Uncategorized by jamiemarie on July 13, 2010

Bottle Shock (2008): If you like Californians, and hate the French, you’ll like this movie.

Enemy at the Gates (2001): They made a sex scene with Jude Law unsexy.

Liveblogging Glee… on DVR

Posted in Entertainment, Random Rants by jamiemarie on June 17, 2010

Glee - Shu & SylvesterI have no idea when this episode aired.  June 8th?  Apparently it’s the season finale.  Whatever, my boyfriend isn’t home, so I can finally watch it.

I would never admit this unless I was at least a little drunk (which I am), but in 8th grade I was in Barbershop Chorus.  I wouldn’t admit that at all if we weren’t really fucking good… you know, as far as 8th grade extracurricular choirs go.  Point being, we won every competition.

I was also in 8th grade choir – which was an actual class.  We also won every competition…

Is there a fucking hospital adjacent to this auditorium?  How do they get back and forth so fast?  First they’re all in the hospital waiting room while Quinn is giving birth (don’t get me started on that), and then they’re conveniently back in the auditorium when they announce the winner?

Olivia Newton John being a huge bitch = awesome.  Ballsy, ONJ.  Unless she really is a huge bitch.  In that case, disappointing, ONJ.

Also, seriously, what is this show’s obsession with Josh Grobin?  I mean, I get ONJ, but Josh Grobin?

Uhhh anyway.  Obviously the success of the choirs I was in is a testament to the Walter Reed Middle School choir teacher.  But also, we only worked on the songs we competed with.  There was no lesson to be learned each week.  In that year, I probably only sang 6 songs between the two choruses.  You wanna know why …

OH BITCH (Vocal Adrenaline coach whose name I don’t remember), don’t you dare tell that teenage girl she’s going to regret giving her kid up for adoption and having a fucking life.

… uh, where was I going with that?  Oh yeah, we won competitions because we practiced like a normal fucking choir…

OH EM GEE KURT I LOVE THE SAILOR HAT!

… basically… I’d be disappointed if the Glee Club won with a song they’d only been singing for a week.

As a disclaimer, I’m totally down with musicals.  The whole jumping into song in the middle of “real life situations” never bothered me (maybe because I do it in my head sometimes?  Uh, no, I totally don’t do that).

… god, so much man crying.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  Jesus, this show totally reduces me to tears – not because it’s spectacularly good or anything, but something about people being extraordinarily nice when you wouldn’t expect it (Kurt’s dad yelling at Finn for saying “faggy”, Mercedes inviting Quinn to live with her and telling her, “we sistas gotta stay together”)… MY GOD I am a teary mess.

Oh, apparently this aired whenever election day was.  Uhhh, Meg Whitman?  Seriously Republicans?  Have you really just given up all hope?  Or is it total lack of self-respect?

AHAHAHAHA “I’ve seen that car you drive.  I don’t wanna catch poor.”  Sue Sylvester, you never cease to impress me.  Jane Lynch, if you weren’t married, and I wasn’t straight, I’d totes marry you.

Whoa, bitchy Vocal Adrenaline Coach adopted Quinn’s baby like all-of-the-sudden?  Isn’t that shit arranged like a million years (or like 8 months) in advance?  At least that’s what Juno told me.

One other thing about this show that… confuses me.   These kids are in high school.  They were “born” in 1994.  How the fuck do they know these songs?  Some are classics, like Journey, but others seem really out of place.  “The Boy Is Mine”?  Mark E. Mark?  The Funky Bunch is before my time and I’m 25.

I’ve consulted my almost-19-year-old sister (born in 1991 for the mathematically challenged) about this, but she had nothing useful to say.  Who is watching this show?  Is it high school students?  Young college students?  Drunk 20-somethings with a latent affection for musicals?

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Costume Challenge: Battlefield Earf

Posted in Entertainment by jamiemarie on May 28, 2010

Here’s what was going through the costume design staff of the 2000 classic Battlefield Earth.

“Well, everyone knows that in the year 3000, ridiculous plastic pants are going to be all the rage.  What can we use from the year 2000 and cover in Hefty trash bags?”

“Sweet, pants done.  Now what will look intimidating 1000 years in the future?  Shit! We’re out of trash bags, what else can we just find lying around?”

“Perfect!  OMG, L. Ron would be so proud.”

Similarities of Characters & Actors IRL Goals in Braveheart

Posted in Entertainment by jamiemarie on May 17, 2010

Confession: Until last night, I had never seen Braveheart.

[SPOILER ALERT (if you know nothing about European history, I guess, which I don’t, so this would have ruined something relatively inconsequential for me)]

At the very end, as King Edward the Longshanks was in bed dying, I wondered what he was dying from.  I guess that’s silly, but it was really boring compared to the dude with leprosy.

Boyfriend insisted that he was just old.  But he wasn’t that old.  Since Edward I was a real person, I checked Wikipedia.  Turns out, he died of dysentery.  Gross.  I suppose that’s why they never really went into it in the movie.

But that’s actually beside the point – while skimming his Wikipedia entry, I found out Edward I tried to exile all the Jews from England.

Oddly enough, take that sentence and replace “Edward I” with “Mel Gibson” and “England” with “Malibu” and you have a relatively recent headline.

I suppose it’s a testament to Mel Gibson’s acting that he could play a character full of pure hatred for someone with goals so similar to his own IRL.

Or, Mel Gibson’s just an anti-semite during a time period in history where that shit’s just not cool, man.

Al Pacino

Posted in Entertainment by jamiemarie on April 22, 2010

There are big signs all over LA that look roughly like this:

Is that the face of a killer?

Why, yes, actually:

Duh.

How Generative Grammar Doomed the Twelve Colonies of Kobol!

I’ve been trying very hard to enjoy SyFy’s Battlestar Galactica spin off series Caprica. It has a few moments of genuine brilliance, such as a gorgeous shot of the first Cylon in the twelve worlds hugging a childhood friend. It also possesses two male leads, Eric Stoltz and Esai Morales, who shine in their roles. Unfortunately the main plot threads of the series tend to be bogged down by a handful of sluggish side plots that struggle to approach anything approximating engaging. That all changed while I was watching Episode 7 this week as two extremely nerdy facets of my life collided on screen.

Behold, Jane Espenson!

What do I have in common with this lady? I definitely was not one of the head writers on Battlestar Galactica, and last time I checked I also wasn’t one of the head writers and executive producers of Caprica. Well according to the ever infallible Wikipedia, Jane Espenson, like myself, studied Linguistics in college. Now her focus wasn’t on generative-grammar, but no Linguistics undergrad manages to receive an education in the field without acquiring at least a shallow understanding of generative grammar. In a Cylon goo bath nutshell the theory of generative grammar stipulates that the unlimited variety of sentences which human beings are capable of generating derive themselves from a finite set of rules within our brains. These rules determine what the structure of a sentence can and cannot consist of.

How does that relate back to Caprica? I’m glad you asked! (minor spoilers ahead)

Through a series of events in the pilot episode of the series a virtual reality avatar of Daniel Graystone’s (Eric Stoltz) deceased daughter, Zoey Graystone, is downloaded into the MCP (Meta Cognitive Processor, or brain) of his Cylon prototype. The Cylon performs admirably in a demonstration for the Caprican Defense Ministry, winning Daniel’s corporation a lucrative contract for an army of Cylons. Things don’t go as planned however, as every single copy of the MCP fails to produce a functioning Cylon soldier when placed inside of a Cylon chassis. Graystone finds himself in a real bind, with his company hemorrhaging profits he can ill afford to lose the Caprican military contract.

Here is where my studies run smack dab into the plot of my extremely nerdy choices in television viewing. In episode 7 the digital copy of Zoey finds herself on a virtual reality date with one of Graystone’s robotics engineers. It would take a lot of text to explain, but long story short the engineer does not know that the avatar he is out on a date with in virtual reality land is actually inside of the Cylon he spends all day tooling up. He thinks he is merely out on a date with a super cute computer nerd who lives somewhere out there on Caprica. So I’m watching all of this and feeling less than gripped by virtual Zoey’s lamenting of the lack of aesthetic variety in virtual trees, when suddenly she launches into this little diddy:

“That’s just it, that’s not the way to do it. Living systems use generative algorithms. With a generative model, the system would use a basic generative kernel of a tree and POW an infinite variety of tree like trees!”

Upon hearing this Graystone’s employee realizes that what’s missing from the other Cylons is a similar generative model in the MCPs. What’s needed is a finite set of rules from which an infinite number of unique artificial intelligences can be born.

Watching this, and knowing that the head writer and scriptwriter of Caprica is a student of linguistics herself was a virtual nerd overload. With the terms she used in the scene, and the general idea that was being proposed to solve the problem of the malfunctioning Cylon AI, there was no doubt in my mind that Espenson had to have drawn the inspiration for that scene from her studies in linguistics.

That my friends, is how the theory of generative-grammar doomed the Twelve Colonies of Kobol.

-Eric