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From the West Philly News Department, a charter school in the neighborhood burned to the ground over the weekend, and just this afternoon we had a 5-alarm fire in a nearby apartment complex. I swear it feels more and more like a war zone around here every day. At least it's not the cops bombing stuff this time around. Probably.
In any case, I tore myself away from the Internet today (more about that later) and braved the proto-war-zone outside to go and get some laundry done. The laundromat has some music piped in that's...I dunno, 80s and 90s hits? Actually I'm not really sure if there's a cohesive genre attached to whatever they're playing, but I'd say 50% of it is right in my wheelhouse, so...that can't be that bad, right? Anyway...right toward the end of my stay there, I heard "Gotta Get Away" by the Offspring come over the speakers. Now...sure, I really liked that song, back in...whenever it was that the Offspring were big...but it's not like I'd put it at the top of any all-time favorites lists, you know? Nonetheless, when the thing came on, I was instantly possessed by the urge to rock out, and let's be honest here...I couldn't stop myself from singing along. I dunno...a man of my advanced years, singing along to the piped-in music while folding laundry in a public laundromat. I just never would have pegged the Offspring as a band that figured high in my makeup, you know? I mean I liked them, I bought a few albums, but compulsory singalongs? Unexpected. I'm not sure what the point was there...mainly just that it's surprising sometimes the kind of stuff that will sneak up and move you.
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Welp...I've spent a week now as a (non)productive member of the newfangled social networking society. (Ah...and I've also thought of a word for that. "I've spent a week now as a facebookie." Yes, that's right. I take bets. On your FACE.) It's been pretty eye-opening, I have to say. I'm working on processing this feeling that...as the size of the information deluge increases, its staying power decreases. I like blogs and journals because, to me anyway, they encourage ideas of history and progress. I like going back to read old blog posts. I like seeing how things have changed and how they haven't. I like the story of it all. Facebook feels more to me like I'm sitting in front of a television with only one channel: a kind of 24-hour broadcast of hundreds of versions of The Truman Show, but edited together into a single video stream of frenetic cut scenes by a crack-smoking Michael Bay. Like...I shut down at the end of the day, and I'm dimly aware that I've been bombarded with images and ideas, but if asked, I'd have to admit that I don't really have any idea what all I just saw.
Twitter has been even more difficult to assimilate, though much of the problem there is also trying to figure out my place in it. As used as I am to the idea of blogging as a semi-permanent medium, Facebook has been difficult enough to absorb when trying to reconcile it against the idea that the shelf-life of anything I put out there will be very short, indeed. Twitter is basically designed to put out information that will be immediately discarded. I don't really know what to make of all that at this point, or how I'm to make use of it. I responded to it early by tweeting about taking a dump, so...yeah, I may have some more adjusting to do. This thing is so weird...it's like a service for holding IM conversations, except in public. Even worse, I don't actually have to be talking to anyone to use it. That can't be healthy.
ANYway. I'd say the main effect that social networking sites have had on me, besides suddenly filling my day with useless crap to do, is that it has completely distorted my sense of time and relevance. In the past, I'd maybe come across a news story or some item of interest, and I'd have no problem taking my time to think about it or write about it, and I felt that I could eventually get around to blogging about it. No big whoop. Now, only a week in, and I feel like I have to re-post information within seconds of learning about it, lest I be thought of as behind the times or, even worse, a copycat. So today...I made an effort to sit on interesting stuff I came across so that, rather that immediately re-posting and forgetting about it, I could instead throw some of it in a blog post. Which is why we have this annoyingly large and yet still fragmented blog post that I'm writing right now.
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Miami-Dade Police to Buy Drones - In a nutshell, unmanned camera planes are going to be used for the first time in a dense, American urban environment. I find myself reacting surprising mildly to the news, though I admit I'd prefer if the planes were sent out to follow cops around.
Mainly, though, I'm liking the article because of this quote from book author P.W. Singer: "At this point, it really doesn't matter if you're against this technology, because it's coming." I feel like actually neatly sums up much of the human condition. ;)
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Via dictionary.com's word-of-the-day service, I was surprised to learn of the word lickerish which apparently has no relationship with the word licorice. The latter, of course, is most familiarly a polarizing black candy, named for the plant root from which its flavor is derived. The former, as it turns out, can mean "fond of and eager for choice food," as well as "greedy" or "lustful."
I had assumed that the two words shared some common root (see what I did there?), but it turns out that they actually have separate etymologies. "Lickerish," it turns out, traces back to the same basic root word that we get "lecherous" from, which actually does have more to do with licking than anything else, and it comes from a kind of Anglo-French direction. "Licorice" actually derives from the Greek glykyrrhiza (literally "sweet root"), the origins of which began with that aforementioned plant.
I just found it kind of interesting that these two words ended up sounding basically the same and having not completely unrelated meanings, I guess kind of converging somewhere in the world of tastiness, but they came from such disparate beginnings. Also I found that this new knowledge somehow, as if it was possible, made licorice candy somehow more salacious for me. Dig it.
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AMC's filmcritic.com site, besides spitting out film reviews, hosts a few featured columns which I generally try to keep up with, mostly because John Scalzi writes a weekly column there. Recently, though, Mina Hochberg came out with "Top Ten NC-17 Flicks." You can read it if you want; I'm about to spoiler the article anyway. :)
I have to say, two things surprised me about that list. One, I was surprised how many of those movies I, myself, have seen. Two, I was surprised that in seeing them, I had no idea that they were NC-17. Let's break it down.
Showgirls - Dude, seriously? The only thing I'd rate NC-17 about this movie was Elizabeth Berkley's acting. You know I'm unimpressed with a flick if I don't think that even Glenn Plummer could save it. I loves me some Glenn Plummer. Glenn Plummer saved Speed, man! But, really, NC-17 for...what...a bunch of nipples? The most unerotic sex scene ever (in a swimming pool, no less)? Because the lead used to be on Saved by the Bell? What's really weird about this is that I remember that I saw this movie when it came out...when I was in college. College. Don't you think it would have been a big deal that this movie was NC-17? So, I dunno, man. Mystifying.
Kids - Okay...it's possible that somewhere in the back of my mind I knew this was NC-17. And given that the primary driving force behind, well, everything in the film, was underage sex, then, yeah, I don't see how they could have given it anything but that rating. But, still. Mainly I wanted to bring this up because I have to agree with Bryan and Anderson on The Film Vault: this movie should not be hidden from kids, it should be shown to them to keep them on the straight and narrow. (They mentioned this on one of their recent podcast episodes: "Top 5 Most Disturbing Films." Heh.)
The Evil Dead - What? WHAT?! It's...it's Ash! How...how is this NC-17?!?!
Storytelling - This movie didn't make the column's top ten list, but it was mentioned in the article and it was a movie I'd seen. I caught this one at the behest of Turbo Bob, one of my old work compatriots from the San Francisco days. Of course, I saw it like years after he'd mentioned it, so I had no idea what I was in store for. Of all the movies mentioned, aside from Kids, this is the one I can understand the best getting the killer rating. It also featured what I feel like describing as one of the most uncomfortable sex scenes ever. Not because of the sex itself (which I found hot, by the way), but because the way the power dynamic played out between the participants and the clear conflict and reticence on Vi's part...just boner-killer. But anyway, yeah...for all the lack of homosexuality going on, I can still see how CARA felt there was a little too much kink going on there for the mainstream. You ride that palsied boyfriend, Selma Blair.
Requiem for a Dream - Mmmmm...okay...kinda? (By the by, I believe this also came up on that podcast of disturbing films.) Like...okay, I get that it's adult what with the rampant drug abuse and graphic medical consequences. And, sure, there's that...memorable...sex show. But for real? What was in there that was worse for youngsters than, I don't know...any Troma movie?
Crash - I'm talking David Cronenberg in 1996, not that 21st century Don Cheadle craziness. For those of you who have not had the pleasure, this film involves, at its heart, people getting sexually aroused by automobile accidents. (What do you want, man...it's frickin' Cronenberg. This is the guy who, in eXistenZ, brought us a world where MMORPGs were achieved by plugging jellyfish into your spine. Bonkers.) Anyway, with a premise like that, you know there's a lot of sex going on. And because it's Cronenberg, you know it's weird. But is that combination really enough to merit an NC-17? If you haven't seen this, and you're in the mood for some Cronenberg weirdness, I don't mind giving this one a thumb up. I personally happen to dig me some Holly Hunter sexiness, so that was nice, but also as a bonus you can hang with some Elias Koteas, who for me will always be protopriest-turned-cop Tommy Dagget in The Prophecy, but who you new bloods will probably fail to remember as the guy who shot House.
The other movies on that list I haven't seen, but...based on the data I've actually got to work with here, it's sounding like NC-17 is pretty weak.
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After all that, it seems fitting to leave off with this health article: "Too much TV time may hurt your heart." A new study seems to suggest that a lot of time spent in front of the tube (or the computer) can lead increased chances of dropping dead from cardio problems. And before you all roll your eyes and move on, know that this conclusion is taking into account getting a lot of exercise when you're not sitting around, which kind of throws a monkeywrench into how I was going to game the system. :) In any case, though, it makes for a though-provoking read, so...head on off to the end of this post, and then get out there and do something active with yourself.
Peace out, everybody. Smell ya later!