Oscar predictions 

3 hours or so til showtime. We'll see if I'm correct.

Best Picture: The Departed
Director: Martin Scorsese (The Departed)
Best Actor: Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland)
Best Actress: Helen Mirren (The Queen)
Supporting Actor: Eddie Murphy (Dreamgirls)
Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls)

Sources of my predictions here.



Just thought I'd let you know 

In Atlanta today


You said it 

From Dana Stevens' Oscar predictions dialogue on Slate:
Best documentary: An Inconvenient Truth. This is a little unfortunate, given that it's the only doc in the category that doesn't need the word-of-mouth boost at the box office. But wouldn't it be a blast to see Al Gore step up and accept that award while the Hollywood establishment solemnly applauded the planet? Yay, globe! Sorry about that whole warming thing. [Emphasis mine]
Are movie critics becoming even more cynical? Is that even possible?



All good things shall pass: Eddie Murphy edition 

It probably isn't possible for a single movie to reverse all social progress made since the civil-rights era, but Norbit, the latest broadside from Eddie Murphy, does its best to turn back the clock. There's enough material here to add another hour to Spike Lee's "reel of shame" in Bamboozled.
--Scott Tobias, review of "Norbit," The Onion A.V. Club

Rotten Tomatoes has the movie at a solid 9%. Eddie Murphy is still a clear favorite to win Best Supporting Actor for his role in Dreamgirls. My guess is the more people who see Norbit, the less this will be true.



Chomsky meets Schoolhouse Rock 

"Pirates and Emperors." This is an animated video criticizing aspects of the US's foreign policy, inspired by the writing of Noam Chomsky. Agree or disagree, it's a pretty catchy tune.

"...cause there are pirates and emperors, but they're really the same thing..."

As you can imagine, the usual suspects make appearances: like Noriega, Hussein, Superman, and so on.

[HT: EspressoPundit]

Team America II: The Invasion of Bonnaroo

The Police's announcement of a reunion tour, including a stop at Bonnaroo, reminded me of a highlight of last year's festival.

In the late afternoon, on the main stage before Radiohead came on, Beck gave one of his usually energetic, novel, and unserious performances. This time, as you may have seen on SNL, his band was accompanied by 1.5 ft. puppet replicas of the band members themselves--complete with the same outfits and instrument motions.

This is a video that played about half way through their set, about five puppets lost in the middle of Tennessee.

Pi - The Music Video

By Hard'n Phirm. By the way, the song is exactly 3:14 long.



A Day with Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer 

A few weeks ago, in a semi-semester tradition, Emory's music department hosted a reknowned musician or group to be the Coca-Cola Artists-in-Residence. Chris Thile (mandolin) and Edgar Meyer (upright bass).

As part of their stay, they usually do some kind of master classes, performance clinics, and finally a formal performance in Emerson Hall. Though I don't take playing guitar very seriously, I thought it would be a unique opportunity to get into the head of modern virtuosos.

Chris Thile you may know as the mandolin player for Nickel Creek, and more recently the How to Grow a Band. Everyone from Sam Bush to Bela Fleck sing high praises about this kid (he's only 26). Edgar Meyer is a regular collaborator with Bela, and has recorded muktiple times with the likes of Mike Marshall, Alison Krauss, and Yo-Yo Ma. Their performance to a packed house that night was the kind of dedication to an instrument that only comes at the expense of indulging less vigorous interests.

A couple pointers Chris and Edgar made that afternoon:

1. Picking is not the most efficient way to get sound from a string: a bow is. So you should keep that in mind in creating dynamics with a pick.

2. The "correct" way to hold a pick is that which economizes motion.

3. Nobody has really explored the technique of picking. It's sort of an afterthought, and even though some people do it well, few focus much energy figuring it out.

4. Part of being good at an instrument is playing the one that is most appropriate for your body size/structure.

5. Both the bass and mandolin, properly speaking are rather underexplored instruments. That is, there are no timeless etude books written specifically for either (especially mandolin), but rather they borrow heavily from violin and guitar. As such, this leaves both open to innovate more freely and achieve new levels of skill then say on violin. As Edgar put it: "I don't have to worry about waking up tomorrow and some 8-year-old Korean kid being better than me."

6. Audience member: "How do you avoid injury when you have to play several hours a day, every day?" Chris: "Look, this is what I do. If you play a couple hours at the end of the day and are sore, it's cause you spent eight hours doing non-music stuff. This is my eight-hours-a-day responsibility and I would probably get sore typing."

(A week later, we were fortunate to host singer Jon Hendricks. In April, we will have Dizzy Gillespie alum and nine-time Grammy nominee Kenny Barron).


Will the real Ayn Rand please stand up? 

[Ayn] Rand’s own choices seem less the product of a self-reliant woman comfortable accepting her own desires, and more the genuine confusion of a girl who refused to grow out of emotional adolescence. When Rand sensed that her lover’s attention might be directed elsewhere, she responded by writing a flurry of “papers” analyzing [Nathaniel Branden's] psychology in Objectivist terms. Branden, always the good disciple, responded with equally solemn “papers” that were equally beside the point – until he finally delivered one that attempted to explain, in “rational” terms, why he was no longer sexually attracted to a sixty-one-year-old woman.
[From "Randy Girls – Adolescent females love Ayn Rand – wonder why?" by Amy Benfer]


What is health care like? 

Somehow, health insurance has become a social fetish. I could travel to the far reaches of the globe, and almost everywhere I would find merchants where my credit is good and my dollars are welcome. But here at home, trying to enter a local hospital with nothing but a wad of cash and a credit card would be like urinating on the sidewalk.
[From "The Five Big Questions about Health Care" by Arnold Kling]



Inequality Fades (in three charts) 

You've Been So Helpful -- Thanks! 

Thug teen: I wanna take out this fuckin' book.
Librarian: Okay, well, go to the check-out desk.
Thug teen: I got to go to the other fuckin' desk, mothafuckah?
Librarian: Yeah, motherfucker. The other fuckin' desk.

--overheard at the Brooklyn Library



From awkward freshmen to fake news anchor fresh 

Prince Reigns Supreme 

I may have been the only one in my Super Bowl gathering that wasn't ironically hypnotized by Prince's performance, but sincerely so. As Haahnster has pointed out, Prince probably doesn't get enough credit for his incendiary guitar playing, probably in part because it is consistently overshadowed by his theatrical on-stage presence.

Kalefa Sanneh registers her early edition thoughts at the New York Times. She basically mirrors my thoughts, but goes one step further to point out, that at age 48 Prince has defied becoming a novelty, having made "that familiar journey from pariah to American treasure."

UPDATE: Apparently Yahoo! Sports' Dan Wetzel was not as impressed.

UPDATE 2: The AP weighs in on the "is he?/he couldn't be" aspect of Prince's Cirque de Soleil-like phallic shadow dance. To begin, I thought that was intentional and more to the point, I was under the impression that it went without saying. Everyone around me while watching seemed to get it; but it may be solely to our uncontrollable instinct to snicker at public mention of sexuality. But come on, it's the Purple One--do we not think he knows what he's doing (atleast along these lines)? And shouldn't we expect this as a minimum...from the guy who brought us "Darling Nikki" and "Pussy Control?"

Stephen Colbert's reaction may be the best so far: "'They knew that they were dealing with a lustful, pansexual rock 'n' roll deviant,' said Colbert, who joked that the sheet hid (not enhanced) Prince's 'demonic guitar phallus.'"


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