April 30, 2012

It's not Wisconsin either...


Gimme a Large Medium

A Very Harold & Kumar (3D) Christmas - There is nothing at all intellectual here, nothing remotely intelligent or fancy here.

This is stupid, immature, drug-based humor. It's juvenile and puerile and stupid.

And it's hilarious...good times, folks.


Bob Roberts - I remember this fondly from my high school days. I went back to the well one more time to see if it was still entertaining.

The movie sees Tim Robbins as a Bob-Dylan-esque folk singer pushing a very un-Dylan agenda, that of the far right wing, trading stocks , making millions, verbally smacking around immigrants and running for Congress against a overly one-dimensional 'good man' incumbent.

When I was sixteen or so, I saw this as a brilliant satire on both the folk scene of the 1960s and the money-hungry early 90's.

I don't see it that way anymore. Instead, I see it as over-the-top, a little mean-spirited, and not terrifically witty. If you're a Dylan fan who knows every one of his scenes up to the motorcycle accident, you'll find a lot of references to Dylan's Don't Look Back. If, however, you're not a Bobcat, then I'd take a pass.

The Illusionist - Two magician flicks came out at roughly the same time back in 2006: The Illusionist and The Prestige.

The Prestige was excellent with a twist ending that didn't feel cheap in the least, that was intelligent and well-written.

The Illusionist has a cheap, impossible twist at the end and a montage that alleges to explain everything that's come along the way but doesn't.  It wastes two good actors in Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti, both of whom are stuck sneering and overplaying this parts.

This isn't a good movie, and the ending is atrocious.


There have also been a lot of comic books in my past few weeks. Most of them aren't worth more than a few lines. Some were downright awful...
  • Incredible Hulks: Planet Savage - I'm grooving to the whole Red She Hulk-green Hulk interplay. It's a fun little time. Heck, I'm grooving to the concept of a Hulk kind of family with the Warbound, the Abomination, Hulk's son Skaar, and even the red woman who I never figured out. Fun stuff here,but I would have liked to see the volume that came before this one with Hulk fighting Zeus.
  • Avengers vs X-Men: It's Coming - Nothing new here, just sort of final issues from lots of other Marvel miniseries leading up to the current Avengers vs X-Men event. I actually felt okay reading these because most of them were ones I hadn't read before. If you've read all the volumes that make this up, there's probably no reason for you to show up.
  • Marvel Knights 4: Impossible Things Happen Every Day - Moderately interesting stand-alone stuff here, especially the last one with the Impossible Man. That's some entertaining metacomics there with the comic book author just hired to write Fantastic Four comics and finding himself involved in the story. The rest is worth a glance but isn't going to rock your world.
  • Arkham Asylum: Madness - One of the better turns of comic this go 'round. The volume avoids focusing on the inmates at Arkham. Instead it turns to the staff at Arkham who are, in this volume, at least, as trapped there as the inmates are. Good look at the small, terrifying everyday moments in this asylum.
  • Ultimate Fantastic Four: Salem's Seven - Bad...poor...bad art (ineffectively titilating), bad characters, bad...
  • FF: Vol 1 - It's a little odd to see the same introduce-Spider-Man-to-the-Fantastic-Four scene played by two authors and with two sets of totally different interactions, but that doesn't make this any less fun a volume. It's fun, light-hearted stuff. I particularly enjoy the interactions among the further-extended Fantastic Four family - the Richards children, their grandfather, and especially Dr Doom.
  • Batman: Gotham Shall be Judged - Dumb...dumb...dumb...
  • Captain America: Prisoner of War - The Black Widow breaks into a Russian gulag to save Bucky from having to pay for his brain-washed crimes. It's interesting how cold-war oriented this series still is and yet how enjoyable a read it can be.
  • Fantastic Four: World's Greatest - Again, fun stuff. I appreciate the time-travelling plot line with the Fantastic Four fighting their only surviving future member and her allies. It's also a nice - but happily not obvious - twist connection between the two story arcs in this volume.
And then we come to Powers: Vol 11-13
  • Secret Identity - In which our detectives take on The Devil...I think.
  • The 25 Coolest Dead Superheroes of All Time - Here's the drama I've been looking for. It's been a while since Deena get her powers via virus and she disappeared from the scene, leaving Walker in need of a new partner between his world-defending disappearances. Excellent wrap up to the arc.
  • Z - There's way more of Walker's history here, back to the World War II and just-after ring-a-ding-ding days, back to haunt him.
Powers doesn't hit the same massively high notes that it did in the last definitive hardcover collection, but it's still the best stuff I read this go-round.

The last thing worth noting this week was the first volume of Robert Kirkman & Rob Liefeld's Infinite.


This one deserves a big image because it needs to serve as a clear warning to everyone out there.

This is the worst comic I've read since The Widening Gyre or Cacophony. This is Rob Liefeld at his absolute worst - no feet, hundreds of pouches, thighs bigger than chests, nonsensical backgrounds, ridiculously sized and twisted guns, stupid haircuts, squinty eyes, outsized muscular chests - and that's just on the frickin' cover you see above. From there the whole thing gets worse with every page, making less and less sense and avoiding any understanding of human physiology or laws of physics.

I have no idea how Robert Kirkman got involved in this messy piece of crap, because his stuff is typically solid if not entirely excellent (Invincible, Marvel Zombies, Ultimate X-Men, The Walking Dead). This, however, is a shinola storm of epic proportions from the very first issue. It's a pretty 90's storyline with main character (giant guy up above) traveling back in time to recruit himself and his entire future team (but in the present) to fight the dystopian-future bad guy (who also travels back in time). It's a lot of 'we can't break the timestream' and 'how did they know we'd be here' and 'the plan isn't working, let's just blast our way out' at every turn.

This comic is horrible.

H
 O
  R
   R
    I
     B
      L
       E

Avoid it...burn any copies of it you see...destroy it with extreme prejudice lest the 90's return to us.

Thank the heavens that the series will never see a finish.

(And if you didn't click on that link of the worst art ever from Rob Liefeld, do yourself a favor and click on it now. He's an awful artist, and I haven't the foggiest idea how he keeps getting work.)

April 28, 2012

Forthcoming

It's been a busy week, but I promise to be back to posting bit by bit this coming week...with God as my witness, this blog won't turn into me just posting by awful stick drawings every day in history.


 

April 26, 2012

In which our ChemGuy goes soft


Two events today...the lower is the 16th birthday of one of my students who also played on my rec basketball team and PHS's varsity soccer team.

For the top one..."Everyone ran from the magic tablet of destruction"...

For the bottom one..."Was the 1st birthday cake that looked like a basketball or soccer ball made?"

April 25, 2012

Vonne Gut Reactions: God Bless You, Mr Rosewater: or Pearls Before Swine

What're we on now, three books? Four?

Five?!?

Yup, five of Vonnegut's novels done in just over three and a half months. I should be just fine to get through all fourteen novels this year at this pace, but I'm going to have to pick things up if I'm going to have them finished by the end of the summer, the adjusted goal.

So, we're reached the 'or' trilogy of Vonnegut's work. Each of his next three novels have a second, official title separated by 'or' from the more well-known title of the work. This one is God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater or Pearls Before Swine.

Let's look at the basic plot and then at my thoughts on the book. The book opens on a supposedly repugnant little creature of a accountant in the form of Norman Mushari. Mushari is a young accountant in charge of the Rosewater Foundation, the final legal heir of which is the titular Elliot Rosewater. Mushari sees an opportunity to transfer the holdings of the Rosewater Foundation from the 'Indiana' branch of the Rosewater clan to the less affluent, less successful Rhode Island branch of the family, most of whom know absolutely nothing about their more well-off 'Indiana' brethren. It's Mushari's plan, however, to perhaps take a little finder's fee from the fortune in the process of the transfer.

(None of that is really spoilerish as that's all revealed within the first chapter or so. I once saw a bit of writerly advice from Vonnegut telling any burgeoning writers to reveal their story to the reader in the first pages. He pointed out that none of us [readers] has the time to go looking for the plot. Put it right out there for everyone to see.)

If you click through, you'll get spoilers.

Apparently he went to Yale


April 23, 2012

Ricky Jay...amazing

Ricky Jay, everyone, Ricky Jay...stunning magician...interesting That Guy character actor...



April 21, 2012

Posted from lovely Cleveland, OH

I'm a model in Cleveland!

  • Materials Park - I'm actually spending the weekend in that building up there. Really looking forward to seeing the dome.









April 20, 2012

Lonnieburger Baskets: Sonny's Three Meat Burger


Three meat burgers...how can that sound anything but good?

A burger with two extra meats...and I'm gonna order it with bacon? There's nothing but positives there, but let's look at how the concept of multiple meats turns out.


Burger
  • Let's get right to the heart of the matter by checking out the burger patty itself. It's ground beef, lamb, and chicken all stuck together which is a little freaky. Beef and pork, I'm kinda okay with because that's meatloaf, but the beef/lamb/chicken frankenburger had me a little freaked out before I took a bite.

    From that first bite, I was a convert. The Girl pointed out that trying to pull off a bite of the burger is a little tougher because the patty sticks together more than a thicker beef-only patty doe. This didn't, however, result in a tough chew in the mouth. The patty did have an odd, almost a little sausagey flavor to the patty, but I don't know that there was much spice more than salt and pepper. The sausagey taste seems to be purely from the meats. It's an odd taste, but it's one that totally works.

    Outside of the tri-meat composition, the burger patty is substantially similar to a Steak 'n' Shake patty - fairly thin, crispy edged, cooked through and through. I'm liking this burger patty. Burger - 8    



  Toppings
  • Only a couple of cheesy options here, so I didn't get to go the cheddar with bacon route. Instead, I went American and bacon because lamb/beef/chicken just screams AMERICAN cheese, right? I threw in lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion, and banana peppers with the house sauce on the side. The Girl went similarly but with cheese, bacon, and not too much else. She's a straight burger kinda gal.

    The cheese was rockingly melted - as American is wont to do. The lettuce was chopped, but it's the big chop that comes from actually chopping the lettuce in house rather than just dragging it out of a bag of shredded crap. The onions were nice, fresh, red ones. The tomatoes are heading toward being good summer stock. The bacon was good stuff - better than average but certainly not Applewood smoked or anything.

    The house sauce was wacky. The woman taking our order said that the house sauce was mostly vegetables and spices, nothing remotely like a standard 'secret sauce' Thousand Island dressing that McDonald's and everybody else claims is their secret burger sauce. This one's kind of like a roasted red pepper humus (appropriate for a burger place with lamb in the patties) but without anything like chick peas mixed in to thicken it up. Instead, it tastes primarily of roasted red peppers and a little spice - not much, though. I didn't care for it, but The Girl liked it on her fries - not on the burger oddly.

    They do offer a nice spread of toppings as you can see in that bottom photo up above a bit. Toppings - 7


 Fries
  • We'll get to the fact that the cost of fries is included with the burger cost in another couple of sections, but that is awesome. The fries are wonderfully fried, served hot and tasty in a little butcher paper sack right there next to the foil-paper-wrapped burgers. There's not much taste other than crisp, potatoey goodness. They had a tiny bit of salt - enough but could have used a little bit more. These were fairly light and good and crispy. No heavy oily feeling or taste here. Good stuff across the board. Fries - 8 



 Ambiance
  • Admittedly, ambiance isn't the selling point of Sonny's. They're sort of at the end of a crappy, two-business strip mall kinda thing with the other business being a car stereo place. They're right on the busy Becchmont Ave strip of craptacular commerce, so that's not exactly a selling point. The place isn't all that big - only twenty some-odd seats, two with comfy chairs, six or so at high stools on a window counter, and lots of two- and four-tops.

    This is an order at the counter kinda place, and they have a couple of behind the counter steam tables that they weren't using and that didn't appear to have been used in a while - so I don't know what those are for. They then brought the burgers out to us on a tray - a la Five Guys - wrapped up in foil paper. I was all happy with that aspect.

    The decorations are a little not too thrilling with a few wall hangings and a television that makes for an absolutely nothing theme to the decorations. It's clean and plain, the people are friendly. It's all good, but it's not thrilling. Ambiance - 5  

Cost
  • Good burger...cheap prices...nothing wrong with that. The burgers come with a side - fries, chili, or soup of the day. A bacon cheeseburger with fries is $6.20 ($5.95 from the menu plus a quarter for the cheese). The single cup of Diet Coke is a bit shy of a couple of bucks. To that's cheap as can be short of going to Herb and Thelma's. Cost - 7 
Other Stuff
  • The house sauce isn't thrilling enough to earn a bonus point. It's distinctive but kinda meh...
  • The whole three meat thing (with bacon to make it four meets, of course) makes me feel impressively carnivorous. That's worth a point. +1 
  • They offer Fanta and various other wacky drinks off on the side in a separate case. This lead The Girl to teach me the Scottish slang term Fanta pants, of which I was not aware. That's totally worth a point but more for The Girl than for Sonny's.
  • The Girl commented that  the unique taste of the burger wore on her by the end of the burger. The first bite drew a big compliment from her, but she was tired of the burger by the end. I didn't run into that in the least, but she didn't want to go back by the end. -1
Math, of course, must be done...1+7+5+8+7+8-1 = 35 points for Sonny's Three Meat Burger. Considering how similar to Five Guys Burgers & Fries the burger kind of was - other than the unique meat combination - that seems about right. Little cheaper but marginally better than Five Guys...fewer toppings but fries almost equally as good.

Rankings at this point...
  • Terry's Turf Club - 45
  • Cafe de Wheels - 44
  • Senate - 43 
  • City View Tavern - 40 (scaled from 32/40)
  • Stuffed on Vine - 38
  • Five Guys Burgers and Fries - 36 
  • Roxy's - 36 
  • FlipDaddy's - 35.5
  • Sonny's Three Meat Burgers - 35 
  • VanZandt - 34
  • Gabby's - 34 
  • Oakley Pub & Grill - 34 
  • Quatman's - 32 / 34.5
  • Troy's - 32 
  • By Golly's - 32
  • Wildflower Cafe - 31.25 (scaled from 26/40) 
  • Sidetracks - 31
  • Virgil's Cafe - 28 
  • Tank's Bar & Grill - 28
  • The Pub at Rookwood Mews - 28
  • Smashburger - 28
  • Habits Cafe - 28
  • Graffiti Burger - 27
  • Arthur's - 26
  • Sammy's - 25 
  • Skinny Legs - 25
  • Gordo's (Fairfield) - 20 
Here's another review of Sonny's that provides a bit more detail.

April 19, 2012

Others said a truck was running into a television...

Film school by Jim Emerson

Jim Emerson apparently knows a little something about film - editing, cinematography, framing, etc - and he's kind enough to have shared his lessons via vimeo.



April 18, 2012

Too easy?


Odds and sodds

My list of bookmarks waxes and wains over time. Many things are items that I had planned to turn into full posts but just never could find the time or voice to write into a full post. When the list waxes enough to overcome my patience, I sacrifice my list to you as an offering to appease my tolerance of unkempt lengths.
  • Berkeley Pit - In our summer material science courses, the topic of Berkeley Pit, a now closed open pit mine in Butte, Montana. The site is a Superfund clean-up site and one of the more polluted sites in the United States or the world. It's also the site of impressive findings in extreme lifeforms and of the death of 342 geese that died when they landed in the waters filling the pit. Link and link
  • Things you really need to learn - The idea that we are teaching students facts, trivial things rather than larger concepts, how to think, how to learn, how to understand consequences for their actions is a great failing in our educational system - of which I am a complacent part. I don't have any idea how we can change something as large and with as much momentum as the educational system and the socioeconomic problems that lead to many of the problems in our educational system, but I continue to think that what we're doing isn't working for the vast majority of our students. Link
  • A Town Divided Against Itself - In 1982 Sports Illustrated wrote an article looking at the rivalry in Hamilton, Ohio between Taft and Garfield High Schools. Sometime after this article the two merged to form Hamilton High School. Link
  • WVQC - I'm a big fan of community radio. I've started listening to WVQC from time to time. The nature of the schedule is such that there are entire shows that don't interest me so it's hit or miss. Link
  • Superman 2000 - Apparently Mark Wait had a proposal for a major overhaul of the Superman franchise a few years back. It's the kind of thing that pops up on the web from time to time, like Alan Moore's Twilight of the Superheroes that I posted a while back. Interesting to see what writers want to do but don't get to do a lot of the time. Link and link
  • Missouri Bans Student/Teacher Facebook Relationships - The shifting sands on which teachers stand in terms of social media and communication with students in almost any format make our job just that much tougher. I don't blame states and school districts for trying to provide guidance. I don't know, however, that this is the right choice. Link
  • Best Running Music - The Girl gave me a project sometime last fall: put together a good one-hour running mix for her. I initially made a few suggestions, but they weren't right for various reasons (mostly because they weren't songs she liked). I've found that putting together a running mix is a weirdly personal task because everybody has their own tastes, their own paces, their personal hope for the ebbs and flows of a workout. Here's the best resource I've found. Link
  • The shame of college sports - If I had everything to do over, I would completely divorce sports from education - at the high school level as well as at the university level. I don't have any idea how to clean up the dichotomy between the alleged amateur status of college (and to a lesser extent high school athletes) and the huge amounts of money that are generated by their play, but it's something that needs to constantly be guarded against. Link and Link
  • Riders on the storm - This is a terrifying/fascinating story of a military pilot who ejected from his fighter plane into the middle of a storm where he fell and caught updrafts, fell and rose for forty minutes. The post is one of the many lengthy but somewhat infrequent posts on Damn Interesting. Link
  • All My Books - A friend of mine has cataloged all of his books, cd's, and movies in a single program on his Mac. He used a program that isn't available on a PC system but that used the Mac's webcam to automatically grab the items from just the ISBN/barcode. I'm looking for a similar PC-based program. Link and Link and Link 

April 17, 2012

Bahía de Cochinos

For the past couple of years, I've taken to writing the day's date on my school board with the wrong year. Instead of the current year, I look up some date in history. I think I've mentioned this fact before. For the past at least half year, though I've been drawing a reference to the date instead of directly telling the students what the day's event is. Each day surprises me as many of my students guess - often quite wrongly - about the day's events. Some of the confusion is due, of course, to my drastically limited art skills and four colors of marker. Some, however, is because they're entertainingly ignorant about our world. I think I'll show you each day's drawing along with the most entertaining quote about the drawing. Each day I'll link to the actual event, so click away after you take a guess.


Fluer of Scoland...




April 16, 2012

A mercurial element

Mercury is among the most fascinating of elements. It seems on the surface so absolutely magical in that it is a metal that flows as a liquid, not quite like water because its intermolecular forces are far stronger meaning that it holds together much more tightly than does water leading to a number of interesting properties.





It looks so very much like water in video, clear, brilliantly colorless water, but it is almost five and a half times as dense as water at room temperature meaning that a liter of water would weigh 2.2 pounds, but a liter of mercury would be nearly 12 pounds, shockingly dense in person, as dense as most solid metals tha people are used to. But the metal flows, parting and reforming beautifully.





This contradiction - a liquid metal - has lead scientists, alchemists, ancient believers to attribute to mercury magical properties - those of liquid moonlight, the tears of Diana, the transformative properties of the philosopher's stone.



Mercury can be found as a solid, but it isn't an easy thing to work with because of its - for a metal - remarkably low melting point.





For years mercury's tendency to react/amalgamate with metals has lead to some interesting security regulations.





Mercury is also one of the most insidious poisons and industrial pollutants because of the extreme difficulty in ever removing it from our environment, its tendency to lead to madness and birth defects, and the concentration increase as it travels up the food chain.



The environmental effects have lead to increasing regulations by the EPA and other agencies while businesses have fought back against these regulations.

But like the rest of the country, Maine has reached an impasse, for most of the mercury that fouls our skies, waters and land comes from outside our borders.
Tom Allen

One out of six women are toxic with mercury. Mercury comes out of coal plants and chlorine plants. I am toxic, I deal with symptoms, children are born with, you know, autism - there is an epidemic in this country. This is like, the air that we breath.
Daphne Zuniga

President Bush's mercury rule is a gift to the big energy companies that helped put him in office.
Tom Allen

I do care about the mercury contamination which this country will be experiencing because of the attempted sellout by this administration to special interests which will result in more mercury in the blood of young children in America.
Jay Inslee

And yet, mercury has been used in medicines for centuries...

A night with Venus, a lifetime with Mercury.
[For centuries mercury was used as a treatment for syphilis.]
Saying. In Michael J. O'Dowd and Elliot Philipp, The History of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (2000), 227.


How is it that mercury is not safe for food additives and Over the Counter drug products, but it is safe in our vaccines and dental amalgams?
Dan Burton


Be careful, however, when looking up mercury medical information as there is a lot of barely scientific, entirely unscientific, or refuted scientific information out there about mercury fillings, mercury in vaccines, and mercury in homeopathic medicines.








April 15, 2012

Update: Craig Ferguson

If you hadn't noticed, the YouTube theme from the past week was Craig Ferguson's Scottish guests.

He's apparently had three more...



April 14, 2012

Untitled weekend links post






April 13, 2012

Daddy, get real gone...

Today's 8Tracks playlist is a bunch of songs about the father/son relationship...

And I'm in the photo there...try to guess which person I am...



April 12, 2012

Serious eats

The Serious Eats blog is a bit of a Frankenstein of food blogs. The blog's makers have apparently sewn together parts of a food geek blog, a food travel blog, a fast food trick blog, trash food review, and a straight-up cooking blog and ended up with something with posts appealing to just about every cross section of epicurean interests.

Here are a few of my favorite posts from their melange...

April 11, 2012

Animated GIFs - good ones

I normally save this stuff for the weekend links post, but this post from Neatorama was too good to pass up.

I pointed out If We Don't, Remember Me before, and they continue to sporadically post some fine selections from films.

Today's new tumblr of animated gifs, flux machine, is a little more regular in its posting of freaky animated gifs based on historical photos like these...




and





April 10, 2012

April 9, 2012

Another man's quest

I've tilted at my share of windmills in my time. Heck, I'm currently gathering every version of "Shenandoah" that I can find at PLCH and checking out the cd's ten at a time for a future post.

That's why I respect Chris over at A House of Lies for his Quest for the Most 90's Movie of All Time. I do wish he'd put up a leaderboard, however, so I wouldn't have had to make one for him...
  • Singles  - 114
  • Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead - 107 
  • Blank Check - 101 
  • I Know What You Did Last Summer - 101
  • The Truth About Cats and Dogs - 100
  • Airborne - 99
  • Independence Day - 96 
  • Mallrats - 96
  • Point Break - 95
  • Beethoven - 92
  • Jurassic Park - 90
  • Philadelphia - 89
  • You've Got Mail - 88
  • Hacker - 87 
  • The Bodyguard - 87
  • Kazaam - 86
  • Little Big League - 83 
  • The Santa Claus - 83
  • The First Wives Club - 82 
  • Varsity Blue - 82
  • Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit - 82
  • The Net - 78
  • Clueless - 75 
  • Encino Man - 75
  • 3 Ninjas - 74 
  • Happy Gilmore - 73
  • Face/Off - 71
  • Ace Venture - 70
  • Home Alone 2 - 69
  • Speed - 69 
  • The Devil's Advocate - 64
  • The mighty Ducks - 62 
  • Mrs Doubtfire - 62
  • The Fan - 60 
  • Outbreak - 49
  • Fear - 49
  • Kindergarten Cop - 33  
Sure, I could nitpick on a few details - the list is far too white, his scoring method hasn't ever been presented in it fullness, he hasn't seen New Jack City (though I did recommend it to him in his blog comments.)

Don't nitpick, though. Just enjoy the sweet, sweet 90's.

April 7, 2012

Spring break can't be over already...

...can it?












  • The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth - Nice column from the Professor about the joy of the coming Avengers movie - in only a month, really? 
  • Twin sisters of the day - Black and white twins born together? Genetics is fascinating.
  • Ikea - I don't think Ikea really offers this kit, but Easter season would've been the opportunity. The original site, to which I'm not linking by the way, is a little offensive.
  • What's in a school hamburger - Someday we might make a shift to all-local, all-natural ingredients. Until then, though, we might as well know what we're eating. 



April 6, 2012

Update: Social Media, take a bizillion

It's been a few (maybe three) weeks since the PHS students started a Princeton thread on High School Memes and a week or so since I posted about them. I've been checking in every couple of days and flagging individual posts - particularly those particularly nasty about individual students - when they were offensive. Yesterday when I checked in, however, I noticed that all of the meme posts had been deleted and replaced with just these two...



In the site's terms of use, "We do not undertake to review all content submitted to us, but we reserve the right to do so. We also reserve the right to decline and/or take down any content that we deem to inappropriate, and the right to deny access to any user who uses the site and/or any content in any manner that we deem to be inappropriate, all in our sole and absolute discretion." Some of the memes were admittedly offensive (some toward students, some toward administrators), but they certainly weren't all offensive. I had flagged some of the posts, and those were taken down. Honestly, I assume that the site barely has time to glance at any flagged images so they automatically take them down.

Possibilities of what happened...

  • It's possible that some student went through and flagged all of the memes and that they were taken down.
  • It's possible some administrator went through and did the same.
  • It's possible some administrator contacted the site directly and expressed displeasure, asking the site to take down the entire thread.
Which of those happened really didn't matter because the truth won't ever be known. The meme posts are gone, and how it happened doesn't matter in the least.

Here is a selection of what's been posted since the first round of meme posts were taken down.










What does matter is the reactions that the students have had to the disappearance of the memes. They assume it was one of the latter possibilities: that the administration betrayed them. Our administrators use social media extensively (Twitter, Facebook, wordpress), and they don't always pay attention to the negatives that can come along with using them.

When you encourage students - people, honestly - to have a voice, then you get the good AND the bad from those voices. If you choose to selectively allow them to use their voice, to censor their free speech that you claim to have been encouraging, then you run the real risk of serious backlash.

It's far tougher to teach someone how to use something properly - to educate them about the positive and negative aspects to speaking out - than it is to blankly act like something is entirely positive and then overreact when its negative aspects rear their ugly head.

LonniBurger Baskets: New sources

I'm always in search for new burger places to review in the LonnieBurger Baskets series. Here are a few blogs that I'll be checking out as well as new restaurants to try.
  • Cincinnati Burger Guys - The blog's been dead for a three and a half years now, but the have nearly forty posted and archived reviews. They're top places that I haven't tried yet are 915 Pub & Grill (Ft Thomas, KY)...Zola's Pub & Grill (Covington, KY). Their favorites that I can compare to my tastes are Gabby's (Wyoming), Back Porch (Springdale), Arthur's (Hyde Park), and Oakley Pub & Grill (Oakley). Gabby's and Oakley Pub & Grill are decent to pretty good, but the Back Porch and Arthur's didn't terribly much impress me. I'm thinking our tastes might not quite align.
  • Cirque du Savory - No reviews since August, 2009, so we're out of date here, too. Their top ranks that we haven't tried: Zip's (Mt Lookout)...Mt Adam's Bar & Grill (Mt Adams)...Bard's Burger. Their top that I am familiar with are Oakley, Five Guys, Terry's, Gordo's (in Norwood), and City View Tavern. I'd agree with City View, Terry's, Oakley, even Five Guys. Gordo's in Norwood we haven't tried...Gordo's by Jungle Jim's is awful. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. These folks might have tastes worth following.
  • Whackburger - Their menu looks complicated, but it's a new burger place - with odd sides. Might be worth a try when they open up, which is supposed to be May.
  • Baseball and Burgers - Here's a blog that's at least ongoing. They've only been reviewing for a few months now (since November). Their top I haven't tried are Herb & Thelma's (Covington) & Neighbor's Bar (Cincinnati on North Bend). They liked Arthur's (meh)...Flipdaddy's (pretty good)...Cafe de Wheels (excellent).  These might be one to follow along with. I'm hoping that they keep blogging - last post was in January.
  • Sonny's Three Meat Burgers - Burgers made from beef, lamp, and chicken? Wait, seriously? I am intrigued.
  • Polly's Burger Hall of Fame - I've mentioned this one before, but it's worth looking at again. Terry's is #1 (agreed)...Sidebar #2 (Covington - haven't tried)...Zip's #3 (haven't tried)...Mad Mike's #5 (Covington - haven't tried)...City View #6 (agreed)...Cafe de Wheels #7 (agreed). I think our tastes might align.

April 5, 2012

My long search is over...

Government transparency of the day...thank you TheDailyWh.at and the White House...

I've been looking for a breakdown of what the government spends for a while now, and finally, it's available...


Tornados of fire

I performed a demonstration in class this past Friday of a fire tornado using apparatus built by Vincent Mazzone.

Mine was about like this...



It wasn't like this (thankfully)...



Or these...

April 4, 2012

The things that I have put into my head lately

I'm not reading a whole lot of novels as most of that reading is focused on Kurt Vonnegut. So it's mostly just movies (two of them) and comic books for me of late.

Hunger Games - The Girl has read the full Hunger Games trilogy - the first novel with her book club. When she offered that her book club was heading to see the movie adaptation, I was in.

Of course, I'm in for seeing just about anything (not this) on the big screen.

I promise I'll get around to reading the books (The Girl's kinda been pushing them for a while), but I went into the movie knowing just about nothing at all.

The plot was surprisingly science fictionish, set in a future world in which a revolution (little detail is provided about that in the movie) exists in a past, and the republic is held together on the backs of a rich capital city and surrounding districts in abject poverty. Each year the various districts are required to sacrifice two of their young people to compete in a reality television death match (a la Running Man). Twenty four enter, one leaves alive. The rest die of exposure, starvation, infection, or combat.

Our POV comes in the form of Katniss Everdeen as played by Jennifer Lawrence (outstanding in Winter's Bone), a strong heroine who steps forward when her younger sister's name is drawn as their district's tribute/contestant for the Games. Throughout the course of the Games, we come to see that Katniss's strength lies not just in her skill with a bow but also with her compassion for her fellow contestants. This combination makes for an eminently likeable character - strong, compassionate, striking. She is one of the few contestants who doesn't seem to play more for the ever-present cameras than for herself, being visibly repulsed when other contestants play to the crowds - before and during the Games.

The movie's sets - particularly the opulence of the capital as contrasted with the poverty of Katniss's home district - are well done and present a drastically divided society that I was initially skeptical could survive until I started thinking about our society which isn't that different in many ways. The openly opiative nature of the broadcast Hunger Games makes for a rather dramatic commentary on reality television as an opiate for the masses in our world. The movie is affecting and dramatic, striking all the right notes and even leaving us with a overly-dramatic 'it's not over yet' moment at the very end. Good flick...great first flick in a trilogy.

WARNING: spoliers coming...

The weirdness of the people controlling the Hunger Games arena was a little freaky. The 'creation' of the dogs, in particular, made me wonder about what the heck they were doing. I don't mean what they were doing in terms of producing a more dramatic television product. I get that. I just don't understand whether they were creating some sort of hologram that could interact with people, genetically engineering creatures on a moment's notice, holding the dogs in pens underneath and just releasing them at the right moment, or casting spells. The Girl mentioned that in the book the dogs have the eyes of the dead contestants, so they must have been somehow 'created' on the fly, but I just don't get how that could have happened.

Along the same lines I clearly misunderstood the direction that the Games were going to go. When the forest fires first appeared, I thought we were going to find out that they were an illusion - as the fire on Katniss's dress had been, some sort of foreshadowing,  I though. Nope...instead we find that the Game's producers can conjure fire out of nothing and that the efforts of turning a forest fire on and suddenly off inside some sort of contained dome of incredible size isn't a big deal in terms of energy output. Really?


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I also didn't get why the effort to get sponsors/patrons was such a big deal. The Girl says that it makes more sense in the book, but in the movie it seemed like the Woody Harrelson character just got a few people to throw a few bucks his way so he could buy salve and chicken soup. We didn't see the any of the other characters were getting help from their sponsors, even though many of them were clearly far better at playing to the camera. If the sponsors were such a big deal, why didn't they turn out to be such a big deal?


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The use of hand-held cameras was frickin' annoying in the first twenty or so minutes of the movie. I wanted to just slap the filmmaker. I don't care whether that was intentional by the filmmaker or not. I hated it...and I hated the quick cut fight scenes. I can't tell what's happening or who has the advantage in those stupid scenes.


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I kinda dug the Taylor Swift song in the credits.



Attack the Block - Fairly low-budget horror flick starring a bunch of great teenage actors defending their public housing unit (the titular Block) from alien invaders.

The Girl thought the film was awful with poor pacing and poor effects and chase scenes. I'm a bit more charitable as I actually enjoyed the film. Yes, the pacing drags in a number of cases - particularly when the protagonists have to repeatedly convince other residents of The Block that aliens really are invading. For an all-out alien invasion, it seemed like it took a lot of people a long, long time to recognize what was happening.

I was impressed with the teenage leads' performances as the adult characters are barely in the film. The various teen actors did a brilliant job making for a believable band of friends forced to defend their turf against invaders. They each did a great job creating a rich, interesting character.

The low-budget special effects were also interesting, particularly the blacker than black, gorilla-esque invaders with their glowing teeth and eyeless heads. The first alien (the female, as we find out) is far less impressive, looking like a Halloween-story reject thrown on a stick once captured, but the massive (male) aliens are appropriately scary and aggressive. Good stuff there.

This isn't a classic on the level of Aliens, but it's a fun way to pass a couple of hours.

The ending, however, is poor and left a bad taste in my mouth.

Comic books...
  • The Walking Dead vol 15 - Finally we get a collection without a whole lot of zombies or some sort of desperate run to safety. Instead, Rick and his  band of merry men (and women) try to build a small-scale society in the DC neighborhood where they've found themselves. They are safe enough and are beginning to have a little bit of leisure time, leading to notes of paranoia and unrest among the residents - especially those who were there before Rick came along. After the building terror of the past few volumes, this was a welcome slow down.
  • Ultimate Comics Spider-Man: Death of Spider-Man Prelude - See, right there in the title it says that Spider-Man's about to die. That's sad because this volume is an enjoyable acknowledgement of Spider-Man's success as a hero. Admittedly, I have no clue what the heck happened leading up to this edition and the first few issues do make a lot of references to what happened before (stupidly PLCH has only volume three of this series, so I may not be able to find out what happened for free), but as long as I ignored all that stuff, I had a blast, especially as Peter Parker saw Iron Man show up at his house, nearly blowing his secret identity. This is fun stuff and a great difference from the Earth-616 Spider-Man. Wish they weren't killing this guy off, especially with the entertaining stuff about Black Cat and Mysterio.
  • Superman: Nightwing and Flamebird (vol 2) - I hate the whole New Krypton storyline. It made the threat that something would change, but it didn't...and, more importantly, the stories sucked.
  • Superman: Codename: Patriot - ...just like this one which sucked, too.
  • Spider-Man: The Fantastic Spider-Man - Apparently Johnny Storm (the Human Torch) is dead or gone or something (for now, anyway, unless he goes the way of Jason Todd Bucky Uncle Ben) and Peter is taking Johnny's place because they were so close to each other. We also get more of Peter's relationship with Carlie Cooper - I'm a fan. And the teaming up with the former Fantastic Four works well, too. In fact, the entire volume works well without any unifying story arc. It's a nice change to get a number of stand-alone issues that are well told. Refreshing...
  • GI Joe: Cobra: Civil War - The next step after Cobra Commander was killed (nuked, really) is to choose the next Commander, and that's just what Cobra is doing. Of course, every possible candidate is all busy stabbing each other in the back and killing GI Joe's in the process. This is just the first step, but I'm willing to come back for the next steps.
  • X-Men: Age of X - Good lord...no one...NO ONE needs another apocalyptic future X-Men storyline. It's been done to death and doesn't ever, ever need to be done again. EVER. Oddly, though, this was actually pretty enjoyable. It's entirely superfluous, but it was a fun read. The fact that it was entirely a dream was a little cliche, but it kinda worked.
  • Hulk: World War Hulks vol 3 - The whole World War Hulks storyline is wrapping up here with Hulk finally taking on his son Skaar in an all-out battle. Good times, and I enjoy the whole play of Banner saying that he knew this was the next step and had known it all along...the second half of the volume, however, follows Hulk's other son, Hiro-Kala, in some sort of space adventure. I hate the space adventures and wish they would entirely drop the storyline forever. Earth stuff? Good. Non-Earth stuff? Boring, bad.