Youtube symphony orchestra

How ridiculous is this?

Another excellent example of the collaborative power of new media. YouTube’s done a great job setting this up, with help from Tan Dun (a top notch composer) and the London Symphony Orchestra.  I can’t wait to see the finished video. Check out the Youtube Symphony Channel for more info. They even have master classes for each instrument as well as some unintentionally hilarious “personal conductor” videos:

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Congrats to Al!

Al Franken finally gets his senate seat. The senate could use a little more humour among its ranks. Here’s a great clip of him debating Ann Coulter:

Clip from Eaves.ca, via Saskboy

Speaking of Coulter, according to this Slate article on media divas who refuse to appear alongside other pundits, she is the most objectionable  personality in the business. Gee, I wonder why.

And since we’re on the subject of media personalities, CNN medical reporter Sanjay Gupta is apparnetly one of the leading candidates for Obama’s surgeon general job. This real-life McDreamy was named as one of People’s 100 sexiest men in 2003. Gawker says it best: “Obviously Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, is the big loser here.”  Really though, if any TV personality should have this job, my vote goes to House.

For the word nerd in us all

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For the etymology nuts in the audience (and their scrabble-playing brethren) I give you “My Favourite Words,” a site where users can share their favourite words and phrases.

Current top-rated words include:

Lugubrious:

I have loved the word lugubrious ever since I first heard it in the Disney movie Hercules. (”Coming, your lugubriousness”). I soon came across it in literature, and to this day to see it in print gives me a feeling of deep pleasure and amusement. Lugubrious…”Mournful; indicating sorrow, often ridiculously or feignedly; doleful; woeful; pitiable; as, a whining tone and a lugubrious look.”

Hapyodysphoria:

It relates to the uncomfortable sensation one gets when touching soft things, like cotton balls or peach fuzz. I just love that a word exists for such a feeling; also, I often experience haptodysphoria, and it’s nice to have a word to describe it.

Defenestrate: (my Grade 7 latin teacher’s favourite word).

Because a word meaning “to throw out a window” is so amazingly awesome.

My personal favourite word is probably “ethereal.” I rarely get to use it- but there’s something weirdly soothing about all those vowels.

Ahoy 2009!

Happy New Year!

cityhall_newyear_fireworks_2009_011

Image from DDOI.

I hope everyone had a restful winter break. Mine was delightfully unproductive, although still surprisingly hectic. As per usual during the holiday season, I eschewed  my online persona in favour of some real face-to-face interaction. As much as I love the Internet in all of its distracting glory, I find a strange pleasure in being completely disconnected from everything (and everyone).  This particular holiday, I had some outside help from my three-year-old Toshiba, which also decided it was going to take a break. Apparnetly, Santa didn’t get my letter for a new MacBook.

Anyways, in between spurts of gluttonous over-eating (not to mention over-sleeping), I managed to see a panoply of movies. [Yes, my first post of 2009 is going to discuss movies released in 2008.]

It’s quite difficult to dislike a movie like Slumdog Millionaire (even for someone as cynical as myself). It’s a well-paced thriller, with incredible cinemetography and an engaging (if unrealistic) plot. That being said, I thought both adult leads were guilty of a bit of over-acting. Did anyone else get tired of Dev Patel’s one facial expression? His character apparnetly spends the entire movie frozen in a perpetual state of anxiety. [Ironically enough, Patel is actually incredibly gregarious in his press interviews- but you’d never know it from his less-than-exuberant portrayal of adult Jamal. ]

Anyways, the most endearing performances come from the  children in the first half  of the movie, all of whom are real “slumdogs” (the term used to describe those who have grown up in the slums of India).  Funny, but also poignant and  sad, the movie  is a keen reminder of just how lucky we are- a point that’s easily forgotten amid these times of economic turmoil.

The movie also has a great soundtrack! Here’s a clip:

Completely switching gears, I want to talk briefly about Milk.  The movie portrays the unlikely rise to power of Harvey Milk, California’s first openly gay politician.  It’s  hard to believe that just thirty years ago, it was practically illegal to be gay. As far as society has come since that time, it’s also a bit scary to think that things haven’t actually changed all that much. In fact, there are some eerie parallels between the Brigg’s initiative (Prop 6) and Prop 8, which sadly passed in November.

Another thing that struck me is the timelessness of “hope” as  a political maxim. A one point in the movie, Milk is told that you “gotta give them hope,” which eventually becomes his signature lines. Here’s an excerpt of  one of his most famous speeches (some of it might  seem familiar from another more recent campaign):

Why you shouldn’t Google your date

NYT’s Modern Love column (which can be pretty hit or miss) warns us about the perils of Googling your date– best avoided, despite obvious temptation!

Anybody else think unlimited access to information has catapulted us into a “way too much information” age (at least when it comes to certain social scenarios)? Facebook has  even created a whole new category of social relationship: the “pseudo-acquaintance”- who you know more about than you should.

I actually wonder whether Facebook stalking will ever become a legitimate way to meet new people. If that happened, we could all stop pretending we don’t recognize each other and just start introducing ourselves instead. I guess for now, I’ll just revel in the fantastically awkward situations that result from these information asymmetries.

NEWSFLASH: Pre-drinking’ a symptom of high bar prices

captobvious

The most insightful article of the week can be found here.

This piece of brilliant journalism obviously took a lot of time to craft:

Samantha Wells, a Centre for Addiction and Mental Health scientist and associate professor at the University of Western Ontario, posits a hypothesis: that elevated prices at the bar promote drunk driving, violence and binge drinking through pre-drinking.

Call the Pulitzer committee!

Who’s your daddy?

[This piece is really really old news by blogosphere standards, but it got a little lost in the exam shuffle. Here it is anyway]

For those of you who haven’t already seen it, the Daily Beast recently ran a piece last week written by a Melissa Beech (pseudonym) on her sugar daddy relationship:

Some might call it prostitution. I call it a “mutually beneficial arrangement” that pays for my killer wardrobe.

Well, this isn’t strictly a 21st century phenomenon,  it’s certainly made more accessible by such quality websites as Seeking Arrangement (the “Elite Sugar Daddy Dating Site”). The article is clearly meant to stir the controversy pot, but all the same, there are so many questionable things going on here. Whether or not you agree with the morality of what she’s doing is one thing, but I am going to have to  object to the tone she uses throughout the article- it reeks of smugness. In her humble opinion, she’s clearly struck the jackpot and isn’t shy about letting everyone know:

As for the allowance, he doesn’t just cut me a check. He simply ensures that I need never worry about expenses. I rent a $1,600 apartment in the city, for which he pays the rent in full. I carry an AmEx Black card in both our names, and use it for things like shopping, spa trips, manicures, and tanning; the bill goes to him.

In a time of massive downsizing and economic turmoil, I’m glad she still has the wherewithal to continue her weekly spa trips and tanning sessions. Not that I don’t love money and “nice things” as much as the next girl, but there’s a vapid, utterly soul-less materialism here that’s hard to handle. I’m happy that she seems to have found an arrangement that works for her, but the fact that she feels the need to shove it in everyone’s face is a bit excessive.

What really guiles me is this sense of post-feminist empowerment she uses to justify  her actions. It’s like she’s saying: I’m smart, reasonable and perfectly capable of “making it” the normal way-BUT why bother? This is a far better deal:

Besides career advancements, he’s given me a chance to live the type of life I never would have experienced on my own. We went to London and Paris last spring, where we saw the sights and shopped at stores like Chanel and Dior. How many other college students are wearing Christian Louboutins to class?

Like all business relationships, this one’s probably going to come a premature (for her) end.  Let’s hope by the time that has happened, she’s a found a way to fund all the fancy trappings she so clearly enjoys. I can’t imagine those Christian Louboutins come cheap.