Egypt Coverage: A Primer

28 Jan

Andrew Sullivan as always is good at curating updates from a variety of sources and providing links to new video and audio –

Here’s The New York Times lead article on Egypt. Read this if you know nothing –

Al Jazeera has been absolutely dominating this story like nobody’s business. Their live video from Cairo has been especially gripping. This is the place to watch events as they unfold (and yes, the channel’s in English) –

Here’s a pretty good liveblog of the on the ground situation –

Mediaite does a good job tracking how the media is covering the Egptian issue. Check here for coverage of the coverage –

This story from The Times about Al Jazeera’s centrality to the Egypt story –

And last but definitely not least, The Guardian, who has excellent live updates and opinion –


A Best Picture Oscar Prediction

25 Jan

Oscar nominations were announced today. Of the 10 films nominated for best picture, I’ve seen four. I’m a bit disappointed in my poor showing.

Yet, I think the ones I have seen are the ones to truly see.

Inception, The King’s Speech, The Social Network and Toy Story 3.

Now, let’s be honest, Toy Story won’t win. It just won’t. I simply don’t see the Academy giving the honor to an animated film. That isn’t to degrade animation, yet to award the ultimate honor to an animated film would almost seems a snub to live action.

I’ll put my money on The King’s Speech, though I think The Social Network should get. It was the best movie of the year. Personally, however, I enjoyed Inception the most.

A spirited and completely biased defense of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

22 Jan

I was somewhat horrified this morning when I read this economic critique of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in the Paris Review (h/t The Daily Dish).

I can’t even pretend to be objective about this – FBDO stands alone as my favorite film of all time. Nevertheless, the critique, which seeks to interpret the film as some kind of capitalist pean, profoundly misses the point.

Before my eyes, therentier class was daydreaming a special dream, a dream of getting away from the drudges and the scolds …

It continues…

But I would like to argue that the movie advocates not supply-sider ideology per se, or not only supply-sider ideology, but something more pernicious.

Perhaps there may, in some way, if you look at it right, be some evidence that maybe Hughes was making some kind of pro-market allusions (though I doubt it). But if you’re watching FBDO for the first time (or at least the first time in a decade, as the author claims) and your first thought is What A “Pernicious” Pro-Capitalist Film, you are profoundly missing the point.

FBDO is at its heart a romantic story. It drives its characters into the coming great unknown of adulthood while urging them to hold onto the beauty and humor that makes life about more than just existing – a beauty and humor that children grasp easily but adults (such as the principal) lose sight of.

The film is precisely NOT about economics. None of the decisions Ferris, Cameron and Sloane make sense from an economic perspective, but that’s the point: that sometimes living is about throwing your concerns to the wind to embrace a moment that points to something more important than day to day normalcy and existence.

The setting of FBDO is not universal. It portrays a midwestern, middle to upper-middle class teenage experience. But the aspiration to break free, at least temporarily, from the bonds and responsibility of daily life to experience something grander, I believe, is much more universal.

This comment on the Paris Review post put it best:

I think this is a gross over-analyzation of a movie that was really vicariously being the person we all wanted, but were all afraid, to be: Ferris.

After reading this, I went to my husband. I said, “Remember the movie, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? Remember his friend, Cameron? Remember the Ferrari? What was the deal with the Ferrari?”

To which my husband replied without missing a beat, “He thought his dad loved the car more than he loved him.”

Catfish meshes screens with real life

12 Jan

It’s the final stretch of winter break and that means boredom. Not that I’m complaining all that much. In just a few days my schedule will once again be revved up for the new semester.

But for a a few days I have a lot of time on my hands and that has meant ample opportunity to watch films.

Watching The Social Network last night followed by Catfish today has provided two spins on social networking.

Both films are controversial, but The Social Network has clearly been the more successful. You’re probably familiar with the story of TSN, but Catfish is hard to describe in any great detail without giving much away. It should suffice to say the story, shot in documentary style and presented as true, shows a young New York filmmaker’s burgeoning relationship over social networking with a Michigan family. Trust me, there is a big catch, but I won’t spoil it.

What kept my attention in Catfish was not so much the story but how the film interweaves the virtual and the real so well on the screen, and in a way that’s not really done in The Social Network (even though it’s about Facebook). At least in the early part of the film, shots of Facebook and smart phone screens and Macbook desktops are as numerous as shots of real people, real places, real things. A flight from New York to Colorado is shown as a Google Earth flyover. When Nev, the filmmaker, receives a text, we see the text on his iPhone screen.

I found the interweaving shots of the real and the virtual in this film very true to how many people, especially the 20-30 something young professionals crowd the documentary seems aimed at, actually live. In our lives, young people especially make less and less distinction between real interaction/real life and virutal (or electronic) communication. We spend our days in a blur between screens and physical reality. We don’t separate those realms as much as we use to.

Catfish is one of the first films I’ve seen that acknowledges this reality and embrace it visually on screen.

Last three weeks the twilight zone of the semester

30 Nov

Noon came Monday and I was sitting in my room, surfing the internet. Monday at noon also happens to be the time for my Western Civilization lecture.

As much as it is sometimes tempting to skip this class on Monday mornings, I didn’t skip. My reason for not attending is much simpler, and much more sad.

I simply forgot.

I wasn’t watching some awesome YouTube video, or pouring over that day’s Wikileaks documents (which you all should, by the way) that caused me to forget. I wasn’t doing anything amazing at all. The fact that I had this class simply escaped my mind.

It’s a bit odd that this would happen on the second to last week of class. I’ve been going to this class for at least three months now. I’ve never forgotten before.

So what happened? Break happened.

Thanksgiving break was a wonderful, glorious time. Reconnecting with old friends, seeing family, spending leisurely afternoons at the local coffeeshop and sleeping in served as a great recharge. I came out of break with more energy than when I started – a true success.

But there’s also a darkside to breaks like these, a downside not realized until you try to return to your daily rhythm. Thanksgiving break gives you just enough time – five days – to start to get comfortable in your old digs. It’s just enough time to settle into an old routine filled with old friends and familiar locales reminiscent of summer.

Normally, that’s great. I am fond of my summers and generally enjoy spending time back home (despite the neverending lack of “things to do”). But when a break gives you just enough time to reacclimate and then rips you out of your warm bed and back into bitter-cold Lawrence mornings, only pain can result.

Not to get all psycho-analytical, but I think subconsciously I’m still on break. My mind deep down doesn’t really want to be here. It’s all I really want to think about, too. I actually paused from writing a paper that’s due tomorrow to write this column (yeah, weird study break, I know, but that’s my point).

These last three weeks are the twilight zone of the semester. Your mind’s wandering away but your body’s still here. The trick is to either reconcile the two or figure out a way to get your stuff done while disconnected.

That’s the trick I’m still pondering. If you have it figured out, let me know.


Thanksgiving reading

25 Nov

Need some reading material? Waiting for dinner?

Here’s a few Thanksgiving-themed links from around the web:

Adam Sandler’s Thanksgiving Day Song – Hulu

People who own turkeys as pets – The New Yorker

Struggling to be grateful – Robert Wright at The New York Times

Turducken Desert – The Wall Street Journal

Rick-rolling the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – YouTube

The sweet potato has its moment – The New York Times



Thanksgiving Day

25 Nov

As the clock strikes midnight it’s now Thanksgiving Day

Thousands of bodies huddled together

In insulated fortresses that shield the weather

Others in alleys, caves, beds of paper and hay


The sun rises on a blue sky and chilly morn’

Alarms break peaceful slumbers

Responsibilities of the day murmured

While frost and freeze welcome the forlorn


At midday ovens roar and refrigerators hum

Homes buzz, preparations made

The bird is slayed, the table laid

The poor outside stay dutifully mum


As evening comes, time for the feast to begin

Appetites sated and tummies stuffed

For pie and candy the children huff

On the scraps the lowly mend


The sun sets once more far in the west

Families of all kinds take their leave

driving, flying, however they please

Another day ending for the least earthly blest


Without a word in their beds the masses lay

To sleep until another day

But the poor man looks heavenward to say

“Thank you, Lord, for this Thanksgiving Day.”