Archive for June, 2010

Happy Father’s Day!!!

Posted in Random, Thoughts with tags , , on June 20, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

Don’t forget to call him!

What if there’s something in it?

Posted in Finds, Random with tags , , , , on June 16, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

The fact that this guy can hold his breath for more than four minutes is pretty amazing, but that’s not what this post is about.  The footage itself is definitely beautiful – watch it in HD if you can – but that’s not what this post is about either.

No, this post is about raw, uncontrollable, terror. The kind of terror that stays in the back of your mind, no matter what you do, no matter where you go, no matter how safe you think you are.  This post is about the kind of terror that hides, but never leaves you, and comes out at just the wrong time.

Nobody could pay me enough to walk up to the side of this abyss and throw myself in.

There could be real, live, swimming, fish in there! [Shudder!]

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Pop Life: Porn, a dead horse and really expensive t-shirts

Posted in Music, Thoughts with tags , , , , on June 13, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

I went to see Pop Life: Art in a Material World at the National Gallery over the weekend.  There were some great pieces, there were some OK pieces, there were some incredibly juvenile pieces.

I should admit upfront, I am generally not a fan of contemporary art.  It’s not that I don’t think there are great artists around – for sure, some of my friends are wonderful artists.  But I have a very strict notion of what I am willing to consider art, and a lot of the stuff that has come along over the last 30-ish years definitely fails my test.  Essentially, my rule comes down to this:

Ignoring the question of inspiration, and presuming access to the right materials, if I personally could recreate a piece well enough that the average observer could not tell the difference between my copy and the original – it is not art.

To me, art is not about inspiration and a message.  It’s not enough to simply have an idea, know what you think it means, and then give it physical form.

Art is about skill.

Leonardo da Vinci created magnificent, timeless paintings. He did so with primitive canvases and paints, but he had the skill to bring life to his work.  Unfortunately a lot of the pieces I saw on Saturday were stark, simple and lifeless.  One piece, that I wish I had noted the information for, was nothing more than coloured dots on a white background.  Some people were asking, “What does it mean?”  I was answering, “Who cares.”  It failed my test.

Then of course there were the controversial pieces.  I don’t have any issue with nudity in art. If it passes my initial art test, I will accept pretty much anything – even if I personally don’t like it.  As such, Richard Price’s piece depicting a 10-year old Brooke Shields nude passes the test.  It took skill to craft the photograph out of colour and shadow.  Brooke Shields is nothing more than a 10-year old canvas.  However, another piece which is essentially just a close-up photograph of a penis near a woman’s mouth, does not pass.  Why? Because it took nothing to create.  A woman wearing lipstick opened her mouth in front of a blank background and a penis was put close to it.  Zoom in, snap! Picture taken. That’s all.

The piece relies solely on the shock of the observer.  Without anyone to be shocked by it, the piece would be nothing.  I can take a picture of a penis close to a woman’s mouth.  So can anyone with a camera.  And even passing acquaintance with the internet will show you that there are millions of people who do exactly that.  They are not all artists.  And was I shocked? No.  I’ve seen lots of porn.

Strangely, the Gallery decided that 10-year old Brooke shields should not be displayed, but the penis and mouth should.  I’ve seen the Brooke Shields piece elsewhere, I can tell you that it is infinitely more appropriate than the penis and mouth.  Even the piece depicting a dead horse – made with actual horse skin and eerily realistic – was more interesting.

Moving on…

The Pop Shop piece was interesting.  I haven’t decided how I feel about being used as a part of the art, but I will admit that I came “this close” to buying a t-shirt from the girl in the window.  That is, until I discovered that they were selling for $32.99.  That is a really expensive t-shirt.  I’m not paying that much for a shirt unless I am at a concert.

The twins were good.  I liked that they were allowed to talk to the observers, though I didn’t talk to them myself. (Again, I’m not sure how I feel about being a part of the art.)

For me, the absolute best piece involved the below video. I won’t explain it, because I really, really, can’t.  But just watch it. It’s awesome.

Did you watch it? Good.  Now go see the rest of the show! (Just try to ignore the porn.)

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Add a background picture to Google!

Posted in Finds with tags , , , , on June 8, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

I feel like a chump.  I don’t know when it happened, but I just learned that you can change Google‘s plain white background!  I knew that you could choose different themes for the iGoogle portal, but I’ve never liked that – nor have I any use for most of the widgets on it.

Google Background Changed!

Google Background Changed!

But I use the Google homepage more times in the day than I can count, and I only just noticed the “Change Background Image” link that pops up near the bottom left corner of the page when you wiggle the mouse long enough to fade in the top menu.

Granted, you have to have a Google account, and be signed in … but I do and I am! Check out the picture. (Click for a bigger version.)

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Thieving octopus knows a quality camera when it sees one!

Posted in Finds, Random with tags , , , on June 8, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

Watch this in HD if you can – you rarely get the chance to see such high quality amateur video on YouTube. Turn up the volume too.

Oh, and pay attention to the subtitles – it won’t make much sense otherwise.

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I don’t care about the music industry

Posted in Aggravations, Music, Random with tags , , , , , on June 7, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

I was thinking about the new copyright bill last night, when I suddenly realized that I just don’t care about the music industry.  (Yes, I know the bill isn’t just about the music industry, but this post is. Relax…)

It’s not that I don’t like music – I really like music.  And it’s not that I think artists should go unrewarded.  It’s just that I don’t think music should be a commodity.

Industries are for cars and forestry. Industries are not for art.

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Law of Conservation of Intelligence

Posted in Random, Rules, Thoughts with tags , , , , , , on June 6, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

Leuraner’s Law of Conservation of Intelligence states that intelligence can be neither created nor destroyed.  Since there is a finite quantity of intelligence in the universe, this requires that the greater the population of intelligence receptacles (beings capable of intelligence), the less intelligence there is available for each receptacle.

This is not to suggest that intelligence is spread evenly throughout the universe.  Just as some areas of the universe contain greater or lesser quantities of mass, so certain intelligence receptacles are capable of containing greater or lesser quantities of intelligence.  However, the only way to increase the average quantity of intelligence available for each receptacle is to limit the creation of, or destroy, unnecessary receptacles.

This leads to Leuraner’s Intelligence Dilemma, which postulates the following:  In order to increase the average quantity of intelligence across the universal population of intelligence receptacles, it would be necessary to destroy either a lesser quantity of receptacles with high densities of intelligence, or a greater quantity of receptacles with low densities of intelligence.

The destruction of a lesser quantity of receptacles with high densities of intelligence is obviously a more efficient method of redistributing intelligence.  This is because it requires the destruction of fewer overall receptacles, and each receptacle is likely to have a greater understanding of the need for its destruction.  However, those specific receptacles are the least likely to contribute to the creation of new receptacles. Moreover, they are more likely to be of significant importance to the general population.  Indeed, they are likely to have been involved in the discovery of the Law of Conservation of Intelligence in the first place.

On the other hand, the destruction of receptacles that are of lesser importance would be of significant benefit to the population in the longer term, since the removal of these receptacles would be less obvious and would help to limit the creation of more receptacles.  However, these receptacles, having lower densities of intelligence, would likely fail to understand the Law of Conservation of Intelligence. As such, they would be more likely to resist any attempt at destruction, causing even greater inefficiency.

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Sex and the City 2 is bad

Posted in Aggravations, Movies, Thoughts with tags , , , , on June 6, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

Let’s get one thing straight – I didn’t want to see this movie.  My aversion was not because I thought it would be bad – I try to have an open mind – but because I was simply not interested in a story about middle-aged women coming to grips with the fact that they are middle-aged.  Unfortunately, I saw it anyway.

And it was bad.

First, there is no plot. This movie uses a Seinfeld-esque methodology in that a lot goes on, but nothing really happens.  This would be fine if we were still living in 1998, and I were talking about a 30 minute sitcom.  But this is a movie – a very long movie – and I generally expected that something would happen.

Next, the messages that this movie sends are deplorable:

  • We have woman #1 who is clearly getting bored with her two-year marriage. In her words, it has lost its sparkle, because she wants to go out partying on a Monday night while her husband would prefer to stay home and relax.  She ends up taking a few days to live away from her husband (in her old apartment which she has apparently kept fully furnished despite being married for two years), and when she comes back she gets upset that her husband wants to be able to do the same thing once in a while.  Somehow, checking out of the relationship for two days was just fine when she wanted to do it, but not when he wants to.  Then woman #1 goes to the United Arab Emirates where she purposely entices and kisses an old boyfriend – a man who has been married for years and has three kids.  Make no mistake, she does purposely entice the old flame, and while this certainly doesn’t let him off the hook, it at least puts her on it with him.  After all of this, woman #1 tells her husband what happened, and how does he respond?  He buys her an enormous diamond ring, which she must wear as punishment! What? How is that punishment?
  • We also have woman #2 who is having so much trouble taking care of her two children that she hires a full-time nanny.  She hires the nanny, but when everyone points out that this nanny is hot and doesn’t wear a bra, woman #2 gets worried that her husband is going to cheat on her.  But in the end she finds she had nothing to worry about because the nanny is a lesbian. Huh? So she doesn’t actually trust her husband, or the nanny – she just figures they won’t have sex because of clashing sexual preferences?
  • Then we have woman #3, who is so completely liberated as a woman that she goes well beyond the realm of equality and into basic indecency.  We are supposed to laugh because she does all sorts of indecent things in the UAE that supposedly embarrass and enrage the highly conservative culture.  The problem is, most of what she does would embarrass and enrage people in Manhattan too.  I won’t go into the gory details, but I can assure you that if she was acting that way at a restaurant table next to mine, I would be just as angry and far less restrained in my response than the caricatured Muslim people in this movie.
  • Finally, we have woman #4 who has a terrible job that pays buckets of money but keeps her from spending time with her family.  So what is the solution?  She quits and finds another job that is equally fulfilling, but less demanding.  This is of course the obvious and sensible thing to do, but for some reason she is made to seem like a hero.  I’m sorry, she’s not a hero – she’s a normal, sensible person.  The writers were clearly trying to use the “inequality for women in the workplace” card here, but it fails.  Why?  Because she isn’t your basic underpaid, overworked, single parent stuck in a dead-end job.  She is a highly paid lawyer who happens to have a crappy boss.  She doesn’t need to courageously quit her job – she knows that she can find another job, and has more than enough money to keep her going in the mean time.

Even ignoring all this, the movie is one long homage to luxurious American excess.  The four women go on vacation for a week and each one gets their own butler and car – while they stay in a suite that is supposedly $22,000 a night. Plus it seems that they each have a new outfit for each hour of the day – none of which are respectful of the culture they are in.

There are definitely some funny moments in this movie, and there is a long scene in a karaoke bar that is clearly meant to be a woman power moment.  Unfortunately, they are all completely overshadowed because of the incredibly unlikable women involved.

This movie is about offensiveness for its own sake – a goal that makes even less sense coming from a middle-aged woman comedy than it does from a teen comedy.

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