Monday, June 30, 2008

Books: The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman

We've been trying to read more nonfiction literature to round out our world view, so we picked up The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman. The book analyzes modern globalization and its affects on commerce, culture, and economy. Though we enjoyed the book's take on the world's future, we didn't like its treatment of social issues and urges to become oil-independent and combat global warming.

Our favorite section of the book (aside from all of the really cool anecdotes peppered in at random) was when Friedman talked about all of the different "flatteners" at work in the world. Some of the these include: Supply-chaining (streamlining sales and acquisition of goods), Netscape (the beginning of today's web-browsing), and Open-sourcing (sharing computer source code as in Wikipedia or Apache or Open Office).

Quick vote: This is an interesting read about the future of business and America's role in the globalized world. Check it out!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Blogs: Photoshop Disasters

We've been keeping tabs on the blog Photoshop Disasters, and we have not been disappointed by the results. Essentially, the blog looks for drastic mistakes in the graphics of things like ads and movie posters for blaring mistakes; missing limbs and tiny heads, that sort of thing. Then they post these mistakes on the internet for everyone to mock mercilessly.

Quick vote: Amazing. Great Friday afternoon treat.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Movie: National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets

We recently watched the amazing film, National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets. We watched the first one, thinking it was simultaneously highly improbably as well as fun and enjoyable; we had the same expectations for this film. And we got exactly what we expected.

Nicholas Cage is back as the legendary treasure hunter/history professor Ben Gates (We never saw any history professors like this when we were in college!). He brings with him his trusty father, his girlfriend-not-a-girlfriend, and his dorky sidekick. This time, in their search for treasure, they are also searching for evidence to clear their ancestors name, a patriot accused of plotting to assassinate Abraham Lincoln.

Quick vote: This movie was uber-predictable (love, treasure, bad guys winning but not at the hands of the good guys, you get the drill), but fun and imaginative nonetheless. If you've got a spare Sunday afternoon with a bone to gnaw on, turn on this flick to keep you company while your owners are off cavorting heaven-knows-where.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

TV: Star Trek: The Next Generation

This classic television show has been coming up a lot lately in discussions with friends and family, so we thought we'd send a shout out to Star Trek: The Next Generation. This show is iconic, it started a generation of nerds on their journey to Trekkie-dom, our mother being one of these nerds.

A group of people (which is huge, though you really only see like twenty people consistently) heads out into deep space for diplomacy, exploration, and, when necessary, kicking alien trash!

All we have to say is:

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.

Quick vote: This show is awesome. That is all.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Music: I Get Wet by Andrew WK

We first heard this album a while back, but were re-introduced to it recently, courtesy of Jocie's iPod. This music is perfect for a crazy dance party/rave, or dance-dance revolution soundtrack. I Get Wet is a psychedelic ride of quick, strong beats; very repetitive lyrics, and guitar that you can't help but chase your tail to.

Note: This picture isn't the album cover, but we liked this one a whole lot better, so it's what we have displayed for your viewing pleasure.

"It's time to party, let's party!
Hang out with yourself and have a crazy party!
Hey you, let's party!
Have a killer party, and party!"
--It's Time to Party

"We are a population.
We are a factory.
We don't do, but we never did anyway.
We are your mother's father,
We are your fighter's friend.
You can't stop what you can't end.

I love New York City!
Oh yeah, New York City!"
--I Love NYC

Quick vote: The lyrics are crazy and nonsensical, the beat is remarkable, and we're wagging our tails in excitement. This is pretty fun music!

Aunt Izzy's Wizz-ord: This is my kind of music!!!!!

Aunt Kenya's Philosophy: I can't believe this kind of music exists, it's a tribute to mankind's stupidity. I judge you all!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Books: Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

We just read a disputed classic novel, Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser. This novel was fairly incendiary for its time, several publishers refused it because it was too 'sordid,' or rather, because the line between good and evil was quite blurred in the plot. The main character looks all of her life for fame and fortune, and despite many setbacks, she does become rich and famous in the end. She's selfish and greedy, and never gets her just desserts, an inflammatory idea for the time (1900).

Carrie Meeber moves to Chicago from her small town life to live with her sister and make her way in the world. She works through many hardships at a shoe factory, all the while admiring the women around her who can afford to dress nicely and buy pretty things. She runs away from her situation to a life as a mistress (though this is never spelled out in the book) to a wealthy salesman who refuses to marry her. She is only destined to go up from here.

Quick vote: We're with the 1900-public, we wanted to see selfish Carrie and her selfish companions end up taught a lesson in the end (though some do). Overall, we liked the book, it was an interesting period piece.

Aunt Izzy's Wizz-ord: This book was whack, foo! I'd pay a guap to see Sistah Carrie's @$$ kicked!!!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Blogs: Mental Floss

Recently, we've become fans of the uber-bizarre blog, Mental Floss. This blog is chock-full of all sorts of fun; crazy facts, fun quizes, brain-teasers, and many ways to waste away your last hour on a Friday afternoon. We especially like the quizes such as: Name all the US Presidents, and Saved by the Bell Trivia.

"A Russian health spa has erected a statue of three cherubs holding an enema bulb. The spa in Inozemtsevo performs a lot of enemas and decided to use a sense of humor when commissioning the artwork. Artist Svetlana Avakova was inspired by Botticeli’s painting Venus and Mars when she designed the 1.5 meter statue."
--The Weird Week in Review

"Are Men Boring? Women say “yes”; men say, “what? Did you say something?”"
--Ice Found on Mars

Quick Vote: This blog is a lot of fun, and a lot of wasted time. Excellent!!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Movie: Joe vs. The Volcano

For this week's movie, we draw on one of our all-time favorite movies, which has been randomly coming up in conversations a lot lately. Joe vs. The Volcano is a quirky comedy, and the first of many movies with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. This movie is funny, touching, and quite cheesy; what more could you wish for from a film?

Joe is an average guy working a crappy job who also happens to be a hypochondriac. He gets diagnosed with a 'Brain Cloud,' which will kill him in a few months, but he will feel nothing at all until he is dead. He quits his crappy job, asks out the woman he's wanted forever, and leaves on a grand adventure. This movie teaches great lessons of love, life, and the things that are most important.

Quick vote: We love this movie. It's a classic, it's one of our favorites, it rocks!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

TV: Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip

We have recently been watching Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip on Hulu, because it was unfortunately canceled after its first season. We anticipated it being a knock-off of 30 Rock, since we heard that the show was canceled to make way for 30 Rock. However, this was not the case; the show reminds us more of The West Wing than 30 Rock, but perhaps that's only because that smarmy guy is in it. Regardless, it's a really smart show and we really enjoy it.

The show is about a fake television studio called NBS, and their SNL-esque program, Studio 60 and the Sunset Strip. It talks about everyone from high-powered executives, to the lowliest assistant. Costumers, writers, actors, directors, presidents, chairmen of the board; no one is too high or too low to be discussed.

Quick vote: We love this tv show. It's awesome.

Aunt Annie's 50 cents: When is Oprah on? I like to bark at the sad people.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Music: Flavors of Entanglement by Alanis Morissette

When we were much younger doggies (two years ago or so), we used to listen to Alanis Morissette's classic album, Jagged Little Pill. Who could forget the lyrics to Ironic, isn't it always like raiiiaain on your wedding day; a free ride when you've already paid? So, when we heard the Alanis was coming out with a new album, Flavors of Entanglement, we were excited for the music we had long ago loved. In this album, she is all she was ten years ago, but her music is harder, and definitely rocks.

"I am a citizen of the planet.
Democracy's kids are sovereign.
Where the teachers are the sages,
And pedestals fill with every parent."
--Citizen of the Planet

"Day one, day one, start over again.
Step one, step one;
With not much making sense just yet.
I'm faking it till I'm pseudo making it.
From scratch begin again but this time I as I,
And not as we."
--Not as We

Quick vote:
This music is harder then we usually like, but for the sake of our past enjoyment of Alanis, we will give it a B-.

Aunt Annie's 50 cents: I got my ear hairs trimmed today, so I can finally hear music again!!! Excuse me for a moment, I just need to run into this wall.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Books: The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford

We recently read Ford Maddox Ford's classic novel, The Good Soldier. This book is one of the first to use the flashback style of narration in which chronology is convoluted, and the reader needs to pay close attention to tweeze out the plot. This book was a bit sad, a bit confusing, a bit depressing, a bit funny, and a bit annoying.

The book follows the lives of two couples; John and Florence Dowell, and Edward and Leonara Ashburnham. Throughout the novel, the couples dissolve due to jealousy, infidelity, and miscommunication.

Quick vote: This book was fun to read because of the confusing literary style, but also frustrating to read because it was so melodramatic! We give it a C+.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Blogs: I Am Neurotic

We recently ran across the blog I Am Neurotic in our internet perusals and instantly liked it. People hop on and enter in their various quirks and neuroses for general enjoyment. We have long had several neuroses ourselves (checking our email being one of them), and it's good to see other people's problems.

"I fear that loud noises turn the tile in my house into lava, like the games I would play as a kid. It didn’t affect the carpet though. So, when the toilet flushed, or the microwave/oven beeped, I would have to be on the carpet or else I would get burned by the lava. Then it just became habit."
--molten lava

" When somebody is talking to me I type the words that they’re saying out by clicking my teeth. I click the left side for letters that you would type with your left hand, the right side for letters you would type with your right hand, and I close my teeth together in the middle for the space bar. I seem to do it more often if I feel nervous. I even type out my own thoughts when I’m trying really hard to put things into words… "
--teeth typing

Quick vote: This is a pretty fun blog, great to browse on a lazy Friday afternoon, so enjoy!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Movie: The Other Boleyn Girl

We love old English period piece media (e.g. books, movies), and thought for sure we'd love The Other Boleyn Girl. Other things in the movie's favor: Actors we like (Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Jim Sturgess), A cool movie poster (Never an actual sign of a good/bad movie), Some decent reviews, and our general enjoyment of cheesy love stories. But despite all of these factors, we really did not like the movie, it was that bad.

The Other Boleyn Girl follows the lives of the two Boleyn girls, who historically became mistress and queen to Henry VIII of England. Mary is married young, and catches the king's eye, becoming his mistress for many years. All she desires is to love and be loved by a man, and a simple life in the country. Anne is young and ambitious, and ends up winning the king's heart while her sister is on bed-rest, pregnant with the king's son. The movie is full of sex, sex, sex, conniving, beguiling, and overall treachery.

Quick vote: Don't see this movie. It's really that bad.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

TV: Raines

We watched the pilot of this television show as a free download from iTunes, enjoyed it, and then promptly put it out of our mind until it recently showed up on Hulu. (To read our blurb about Hulu, go here...) We're chronic lovers of the crime-detective genre, as well as psychological and science fictional type shows, so Raines was right up our alley.

Raines follows the life of LAPD Detective Mike Raines (yes, the show is named after him) and his bizarre crime-catching practices. He hallucinates the victims of the murders he is trying to solve, but in a different way then you might think. The victims don't solve his crimes and haunt him until he does so, but they're figments of his imagination and they only know as much about themselves as Raines himself, so throughout the entire show they are evolving, changing clothes and accents and all sorts of other things. It's quite fun.

Quick vote: Jeff Goldblum has his ideal role in Raines, a crazy smart guy, and he plays it well. We really enjoyed this show, though there are only seven episodes and then we think it was canceled.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Music: Hideaway by The Weepies

We've long been fans of The Weepies, and were naturally excited when their new album came out this spring. This album does not disappoint. Their music is quite folksy and lyrical, and we were pleased that Hideaway lives up to their earlier album, Say I Am You.

"I see the bare moon raise his big, bald head.
I see my friends played the fool.
I'll make my own way in the wide world,
Just now I don't want to wander too far.

Even the stars sometimes fade to gray,
Even the stars hide away."

"Left behind everything I knew;
All the colors but bone-white and sky-blue.
Hit the continent running.
Engines were humming just to break through.

Antarctica, my only living relative.
Antarctica, I can't wait anymore."
--Antarctica (though we had hoped they had been punny and it was Aunt Arctica.)

Quick vote: This album is excellent. Folksy, smart music that leaves you humming and wondering the words.

Word of Caution: The Weepies are not to be listened to before skiing.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Books: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

We just finished reading our book club selection for this month, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. We had seen this book on the shelves for a while, and had always considered picking it up, but it took our mother's book club as a catalyst before we could finally read it. It was much different than we thought, but we really liked the format, it made for a fun and quick read.

Elizabeth Gilbert, after undergoing a difficult a messy divorce, decides to strike out for a year and spend four months a piece in three different countries for three wildly different reasons (and all of them strangely start with the letter 'I'). First, she sets off to Italy, where she has learned some Italian for fun and is determined to learn pleasure. Second, she spends time in an Ashram (a monastery of sorts) in India to learn devotion. Lastly, she goes to Indonesia to learn love/balance/craziness (this was the least explained leg of her journey to us). We really like these ideas, but we didn't always love her as a character, and thus had a hard time with the book at some points.

Quick vote: Generally, we really liked this book. Though at times, we really didn't like the narrator/main character and we thought she was quite whiny.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Blogs: Marginal Revolution

Lately, on a recommendation from our father the economist, we've been reading the blog Marginal Revolution. The blog claims it is, "Small Steps towards a better world," grandeur delusions much? The blog looks at news and world goings-on and analyzes them through an economists (aka a Libertarian) point of view.

Apologies, this is probably the most boring visual aid we've ever put on our blog, but it was the first non-ad that we spotted on their blog, so on it went!

"A small number of California jails have begun to offer pay to stay programs. These programs allow inmates in for minor crimes to "upgrade" to a private or public jail with better facilities. Evidently the fees are profitable to the jails. Take a look at how Santa Ana county advertises it's hotel jail."
--Markets in Everything: Pay to Stay

"A homeless woman who sneaked into a man's house and lived undetected in his closet for a year was arrested in Japan after he became suspicious when food mysteriously began disappearing.

Police found the 58-year-old woman Thursday hiding in the top compartment of the man's closet and arrested her for trespassing....

Even better is how he caught her:

The resident of the home installed security cameras that transmitted images to his mobile phone after becoming puzzled by food disappearing from his kitchen over the past several months."
--The Culture that is Japanese

Quick vote: This blog is quite smart and fun to read. Beware though, if you don't plan on becoming a libertarian anytime soon, stay far away! Otherwise, order your Ron Paul t-shirt today.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Movie: Into the Wild

We read the book Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer a long time ago, and were excited to see it turned into a movie. Krakauer tended to hero worship Chris McCandless a little bit, when we felt it fairly obvious that the man had a serious mental/chemical imbalance; so we were worried that the movie might, as so many movies do, take the obsession of the book and aggravate it. However, we had nothing to fear in this regard.

Into the Wild follows the true story of Chris McCandless, a young adventurer turned off by the consumerism of modern society and seeking his own fortune. He hitchhikes across the US, and decides to go for his greatest adventure yet, setting out alone into the Alaskan wilderness. He learns a lot about himself and about the things that truly matter in life.

Quick vote: This is an incredibly beautiful movie. Also, it is incredibly sad; even knowing how the whole thing turns out made it sad still.

Aunt Kenya's Philosophy: The isolationist philosophy that Chris (aka Mr. Supertramp) attempts to achieve is made moot by his constant search for assistance and support from those around him. How passe!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

TV: The Bachelorette

We have watched the past three or so seasons of The Bachelor, so we were pretty excited when we first heard that there was going to be an season of The Bachelorette on next. On a previous Bachelor (Not this season, but the one before.), the eligible Austin hottie, Brad Womack 'put his heart on the line;' in the end, he dumped both of the girls and left the show empty handed (a first in Bachelor history). One of the girls he left behind, the manipulative one whom we despised and who spent the whole show detachedly scheming for Brad's heart, now has her own show to find her own "true love".

DeeAnna Marie Papis, Greek Goddess, Southern Belle, manipulative crazy face: come on down, it's your turn to find the love of your life! We don't think this girl deserved the one chance she got, let alone her own show, but it's not up to us who gets to have their own dating television extravaganza. The boys are not as catty as the girls when fighting in these shows, but they do get a little rowdy which is fun (though not as dramatic). We look forward to seeing how this season of The Bachelorette plays out in the end.

Quick vote: Though we don't really like the bachelorette herself this time around, we're still excited to see exactly what happens when she's paired with 25 hot guys all vying for her attention. What's not to like?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Music: Narrow Stairs by Death Cab For Cutie

This album has been out for a while, but we procrastinated picking it up for no apparent reason. Last week, we broke down and used our mother's credit card to purchase it on the iTunes music store, and we have no regrets! Death Cab For Cutie is one of our all-time favorite bands, and we're always worried that the newest album will fail to live up to the hype. And though Narrow Stairs does not compare to Transatlanticism or The Photo Album, it's an excellent collection of music.

"How I wish you could see the potential,
The potential of you and me.
It's like a book elegantly bound,
But in a language you can't read just yet.

You gotta spend some time love.
You gotta spend some time with me,
And I know that you'll find love.
I will possess your heart."
--I Will Possess Your Heart

"And they carried on like long division,
Cause it was clear with every page,
Oh, that they were further away
From a solution that would play,
Without a remain, remain, remain, remainder."
--Long Division

Quick vote: This is a good cd, we always love Death Cab, and the cover looks like a quilt our grandmas would make.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Books: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

We were looking for a bit of good science fiction, and stumbled upon The Time Traveler's Wife purely by accident, quite serendipitous. Audrey Niffenegger has created a remarkable novel in her exploration of love in the face of extreme obstacles. The Time Traveler's Wife is an interesting study of inevitability, choice, freedom, love, and the question: Do we really want to know what is going to happen next?

This book is tells the story of Claire, a budding artist, and Henry, a brilliant librarian who has chrono-displacement syndrome, making him spontaneously travel through time and space. Claire meets Henry for the first time when he is in his thirties, and Claire is six. Henry meets Claire for the first time when he is thirty, and Claire is twenty-two. The story generally follows Claire's timeline, and not Henry's confusing and convoluted one.

Quick vote: This book is beautiful, interesting, and a heart-warming love story. Check it out if you're interested in a fun and interesting chick book with just a hint of sci-fi.