- tudent receives free cocaine with Amazon textbook order. Is this where we’ve going wrong with our textbook sales? [via]
- How College Football Bowls Earn Millions In Profits But Pay Almost Nothing In Taxes. Are you ready for some economic disparity?! [via]
- The Texans who live on the ‘Mexican side’ of the border fence: ‘Technically, we’re in the United States’ [via]
- Roger Ebert on why movie revenue is dropping:
The message I get is that Americans love the movies as much as ever. It’s the theaters that are losing their charm. Proof: theaters thrive that police their audiences, show a variety of titles and emphasize value-added features. The rest of the industry can’t depend forever on blockbusters to bail it out.
- And finally, Scott Tobias on why 2011 was secretly a really good year for movies:
I don’t mean to be bullying or schoolmarmish about it, only to point out that when great films get pushed to the margins in our technology-rich times, far more than just a handful of self-selecting New Yorkers have a chance to see them. The key is to not let awards-season hype color your perception. We consider 2007 a monumental year because its strongest achievements—movies like There Will Be Blood, No Country For Old Men, and Zodiac—happened to have healthy budgets and the backing of major studios. Compare that to a 2011 where a pleasant-but-disposable trifle like The Artist is leading the charge, and it’s little wonder that perception marks it as a weak year. (The Tree Of Life may be the only 2011 film high in both ambition and visibility, and will almost certainly top every critics’ poll as a result.) But for the adventurous—and again, you don’t have to venture off the couch to be among them—2011 was an embarrassment of riches, full of lively, diverse, form-busting visions across all genres and around the world. And the best of them ask something of the viewer, offering rewards in exchange for an active engagement. Just don’t expect all the question marks to turn into exclamation points: To quote some advice to Michael Stuhlbarg’s spiritual seeker in A Serious Man, “Accept the mystery.”
- Netflix is pretty sure it has no future in DVDs. You know, I like streaming and on-demand, but the selection is still not that great, relatively speaking. If Netflix could ensure the same level of selection and quality with streaming as with the physical DVDs…well, I’d still occasionally be annoyed they were most often DVDs without special features of any kind, but I’d be more willing to switch over to streaming-only. (If the high cost of having both doesn’t force the issue for me at some near-future point.) But Netflix can’t promise that. Some of it is out of their hands — studios are covetous of their movies and shows, and some (like HBO) see Netflix, maybe rightly, as a direct competitor. So I really do hope Netflix doesn’t continue their push towards streaming-and-only-streaming, that they realize it wasn’t just the Qwiskter name that upset customers. I want a wide and varied selection of movies and shows. I don’t want more of “You can’t watch that, but have you ever tried this…?”)
- Indonesian man arrested for kicking woman he thought was a ghost [via]
- Want to smell like a superhero? [via]
- “Twitter is the contemporary postcard—social updates that are limited by size, but not imagination. For a month, with a billion stamps, our correspondent moved his tweets from the laptop to the post office, and rediscovered the joy of mail.”
- And finally, Basil Fawlty Impersonator Chat:
As Mark Evanier notes, “There are literally more professional impersonators of Basil Fawlty around than there were episodes of Fawlty Towers.”
- Speaking of which, Raiders of the Lost Archives — a shot-by-shot comparison of Raiders of the Lost Ark and its many (sometimes direct) influences. It’s interesting, although Spielberg and Lucas have never hidden that the movie was an homage to the adventure serials they loved growing up. [via
- Todd VanDerWerff on NBC’s The Firm:
It’s like the show wants to be a straightforward copy of the movie, only told over a full season, but it also wants to be a sequel to the movie. Thus, it becomes a story about people who experience nearly exactly the same collection of events, don’t really seem all that concerned about it, and then also take on a case of the week because they’ve figured out they live in a TV show.
- And finally, there’s a a gorgeous five-story mural in Montreal. See above. [via]
- Tintin’s Lovecraftian Adventures
- Along the same lines: What If…Herge Created the X-Men?
- And also, what if Charles Schulz illustrated H.P. Lovecraft? [via]
- Today in infographics: The Rules of Magic, Doctor Who Timeline, and Good Versus Evil in the Superhero Comic Color Palette [via and via]
- The truly odd story of New York’s Hartwick College and their “Methuselah” trust from a one-time benefactor:
Because thanks to an eccentric New York lawyer in the 1930s, this college in a corner of the Catskills inherited a thousand-year trust that would not mature until the year 2936: a gift whose accumulated compound interest, the New York Times reported in 1961, “could ultimately shatter the nation’s financial structure.” The mossy stone walls and ivy-covered brickwork of Hartwick College were a ticking time-bomb of compounding interest—a very, very slowly ticking time bomb.
One suspects they’d have rather gotten a new squash court. [via]
- Sorry, folks on my Christmas list: Mailing Chicken Pox Lollipops Is Illegal, Reckless. Maybe just a card? [via]
- A Tree Grows in Queens (Right Through An Auto Body Shop!) [via]
- “Sure. Alternate realities. You could have, like, a world without shrimp. Or with, you know, nothing but shrimp…” – Anya
First top predator was giant shrimp with amazing eyes. (“You have amazing eyes! Please don’t eat me, giant killer shrimp!”)
- The Higgs boson: Why scientists hate that you call it the ‘God particle’ [via]
- And finally, Bobby McFerin demonstrates the power of the pentatonic scale [via]:
- “The days of aliens spouting gibberish with no grammatical structure are over…” Creating a new language for A Game of Thrones
- Along the same lines, 20 awesomely untranslatable words from around the world. I particularly like
Yagan (indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego) – “the wordless, yet meaningful look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something but are both reluctant to start” [via]
- Are we truly living in the age of fanfiction?
What’s been truly bizarre, though, is the way the mainstream has slowly headed in the same direction, and without anyone noticing it, we seem to have handed over our entire industry to the creation of fanfiction on a corporate level, and at this point, I’m not sure how we’re expecting the pendulum to ever swing back. I know people love to blame Spielberg and Lucas for creating the modern blockbuster age, but at least when they decided to pay tribute to their inspirations, they did so in interesting ways. Spielberg has talked about how his frustrations at hearing that only English filmmakers could direct James Bond movies led to the creation of Indiana Jones, and Lucas was working out his love of Flash Gordon when he created “Star Wars.” Those are healthy ways to work through your love of something, and absolutely make sense as important pieces in the creative process. What’s scary is how these days, filmmakers wouldn’t bother with that last step, the part where you take your inspirations and run them through your own filter. Now, instead, we live in an age where we are simply doing the source material again and again and again, and where original creation seems to be almost frowned upon as a “risk.” [via]
- See also: they’re re-making Starship Troopers. And The Munsters. As a “dramatic re-imagining.”
- It’s so sad to see Monty Python members fight among themselves.
- Blackwater is changing its name. This is like if the Devil started asking us to call him Gus.[via]
- David Milch to adapt William Faulkner? I am so there.
- They’re coming to crowd-fund you, Barbara… ‘Living Dead’ Fans Digging Up Funds to Keep Chapel from Going Under
- Bruce Wayne’s medical records [via]
- And finally, I haven’t seen the new Tintin movie, but this fan-made opening sequence is really quite wonderful. [via]