Thursday various

Wednesday various

  • 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.”

Tuesday various

  • Paul, the World Cup predicting octopus, has gone to the great octopus’ garden in the sky.
  • Sony will stop manufacturing the Walkman. In other news, Sony was still manufacturing the Walkman. [via]
  • Further proof that science fiction is more about the time it was created than about the future: 5 Things ‘Back to the Future’ Tells Us About the Past. [via]
  • Meanwhile, Realms of Fantasy closes shop. Again, and this time it looks like for good. I’m really disappointed by this news, not least of all because I subscribed in their recent save-the-magazine effort. It raises questions about the viability of print magazines in general, which, as somebody who puts together a twice-yearly zine, is something I’m quite interested in. Realms was a good genre magazine, and I’ll be sorry to see it go.
  • And finally, kind of weirdly tying all of this together in a way: The Space Squid Cuneiform Clay Tablet.

    Of course, it’s not a real squid…and a squid isn’t the same thing as an octopus anyway…but there’s something fascinating about a zine (Space Squid) “printing one of their issues on the ultimate form of Dead Media: inscribed in cuneiform on a baked clay tablet.” Maybe that’s what Realms needed to do. Maybe that’s what I should do with Kaleidotrope. It’s a funny and clever stunt if nothing else. [via]

Wednesday various

Giant inflatable beavers?

Not a whole lot to say about today, actually. It was the tail end of my unexpected three-day weekend, and I spent it mostly doing the same things I did for the past two days. I did finish a short-short story I’ve been working on recently, and I e-mailed it out to a small-press magazine for consideration. So, y’know, fingers crossed and all that. Regardless of what happens to the story, it’s nice to finish a piece and send it out. That’s not something I do often enough.

I spent the rest of the day reading through accumulated links in Google Reader and watching some stuff online and on DVD. There are scant few extras on the DVD for A Serious Man, but I was amused when one of the production crew discussed how, in re-creating the ’60s, they couldn’t use cars made later than 1960, since these look too distinctively flashy, too later-century, to our modern eyes and therefore don’t read as believable on the screen anymore. I remember this sort of thing coming up a few years back in my viewing of Lost and Deadwood, and how those shows had to diverge from reality in order to make things look more real.

What I didn’t watch today was the winter Olympics — though from all the talk on Twitter, I gather I missed one heck of a hockey game between Canada and the United States and I am, right now, missing one very interesting closing ceremony. I watched a lot more of this year’s Olympic games than I have in recent years, and from the little I saw I think Vancouver did a splendid job of hosting the events. It was nice to regain a little of the Olympic spirit I really haven’t felt too strongly since the early ’90s, but I’m afraid that didn’t translate to watching a parade of flags and Nickelback. Not when there were episodes of The Mighty Boosh and Being Human I could watch.

Though if someone had told me there would be giant inflatable beavers, I might have reconsidered.