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Snagged from Smart Bitches. I'm just too amused by this.

Trimming the underbrush to make the tree look taller )

Dance-off

May. 29th, 2009 10:43 pm
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I have no idea what the context of this is, but it's hilarious.



Also, there were a lot of fireworks in my neighborhood this evening. ...?

Para Para!

May. 1st, 2009 03:37 pm
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In Tokyo Drift, they mention Para Para dancing. This is apparently something the extras would just start doing between takes. It's like the macarena, but much more elaborate, with different choreography to each song. And it's to techno. It's kind of mesmerizing to watch...

Para Para! )

I think this is the most Japanese thing about the movie. Cause, you know, they did a pretty good job of making sure no Japanese actors were in key roles. Except for the villains, and the obligatory Karate Kid-style mentor.

Arrr!

Apr. 23rd, 2009 09:53 pm
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With all the talk of pirates in the news lately, this is an angle I haven't seen before. Planet Money discusses the business of piracy.

It's a very interesting look into the economics of piracy, with an interview with a shipping operator who has negotiated for the release of one of his ships before. It really puts in context the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama--no American ship had been taken before. In most cases, like the one described on the podcast, the ships are flying flags from countries like the Bahamas. And it's not like they have a Navy. Clearly the pirates in this case had no idea how hard the US would come down on them.
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Two interesting stories in publishing news this morning:

New Guinea Tribe Sues The New Yorker for $10 Million
There's been a long (long) tradition of shaping stories about native peoples to fit colonial preconceptions. Perhaps that's why, in this case, the author of a story about a blood feud among New Guinea tribesmen did not bother to fact check his story thoroughly. I can't help but feel that if he'd heard the same story from an American it never would have gone to print before everyone was absolutely sure they could back up their accusations—or it would have been written in much more equivocal terms. That's why I find it so interesting that he's being sued for libel. Cause yes, he did accuse this person of theft, rape, and murder. And at least in this case, just because the accused is part of the third world isn't letting him off the hook.

Should Literary Novels Be More Like The Wire?
A professor of American literature asks literary authors to write about issues of class and social order in modern society.
In his essay, Mr. Michaels implicated three groups of writers: those who traffic narcissistically in memoir and self-examination; those who write fiction about past horrors like the Holocaust and slavery; and those who focus in their work on the tribulations of individual characters while ignoring the societal pressures that determine those characters’ lives.

By focusing on this, Michaels (I think rightfully) points out that the actual problems of modern society are being made invisible in literature. One literary agent explains that a lot of authors try to remove mentions of the contemporary world to make their work "timeless." It's an interesting sort of color-blindness—to remove all the elements that make a character what he is and therefore assume that the character's struggles are universal.

At a time when a lot of people feel that "legitimate" literature is being threatened and needs to be protected because of its inherent value to society, I think it's a valid criticism to say that literature as a whole focuses too much on the personal problems of the ruling class.

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