Friday, August 21, 2009

Arbitrary Stuff About Various Actors

I know I haven't posted in a while.

Shut up. Just...shut up.

So I discovered the "celebrity tomatometer" on RottenTomatoes (what an unique gimmick, by the way. Rotten? Fresh? Awesome.) The Celebrity Tomatometer works just like you'd expect it to: it calculates the percentage of the actor's films which are rated "fresh" by RT. So, naturally, I began goofing off, checking on various peeps, and found some interesting stats. At least, they were interesting to me. I like stats. Maybe you don't, invisible reader; but this is MY blog, not yours. Which means I do what I want, not what YOU want.

Customer service? A moot point.


Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise have the same CT: 62%. That means that for the both of them, about 3 out of 5 films are critically acclaimed.

Samuel L. Jackson (one of my all-time favorite actors) is at 53%. For every good movie he makes, he makes a terrible one. Interesting point: his highest-rated film, The Incredibles, is an incredible 97%, and he didn't appear on-screen for it.

De Niro is another one at 62%. Tom Hanks, who's had his share of huge commercial and critical successes, is one percent higher at 63%.

Here's a shocker: George Clooney (yes, that George Clooney, the Batman with the...realistic suit) is at 66%. I honestly didn't expect that.

Al Pacino, whose name sounds like a gangster's (I'm sorry; it's just me...), is just behind him, at 65%.

Christian "Batman Smokes Four Packs A Day" Bale is at a respectable 68%...which was quite surprising indeed to me. I suppose he's been in one or two goodish flicks.

Charlton Heston's CT is 59%. The lower rating is not quite surprising, given some of the pulp the man starred in. In contrast, another tough-guy actor, Clint Eastwood, whose CT is at an impressive 78%.

Compare Eastwood, who apparently knew how to pick his movies, to folks like Bruce Willis (38%), Arnie (42%), and Val Kilmer (38%).

Among directors/producers, Martin Scorcese is understandably near the top, with a CT of 86%. George Lucas isn't far behind (83%), and James Cameron, known for his work on Aliens, The Terminator, and Rambo II, is at a respectable 75%.

However, the most stellar--almost unbelievable--score I found was John Ford's: his CT is at 97%. 97%! His lowest-rated film on RT is Donovan's Reef, which is at 56%. It's his only non-fresh rating.

Now, I know that RT is not in the least the ultimate in movie criticism, but I love stats, and these stats were cool, sometimes surprising, and inevitably awesome.

Long live pointless ramblings!

Monday, August 10, 2009

So I just found out about this so-called "snitch" program,'s "" initiative, from WorldNetDaily's unsurprisingly biased article about it. Of course, since it's impossible for humans to be unbiased about anything, WorldNetDaily's bias is understandable, if evident.

Apparently the "snitch" program has attracted a lot of attention out here in the blogosphere, a community of which Ian the Pontificator is a reluctant member. The more I think about this program, the more I think that perhaps the outrage, if florid, is at least somewhat merited. Of course, a percentage of the outragers are morons who want to believe a certain way, but there's some reason for indignation/concern.

So what's the commotion about? Well, apparently the White House is concerned about the negative press that ObamaCare (what a stupid nickname, btw) is receiving. So they've launched a PR campaign to give the public the real facts about ObamaCare, and to answer popular myths about ObamaCare. It's called Reality Check, and it looks very slick.

However, the part of Reality Check that's receiving all the attention is...well, here's what says about it:

"There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to"

Now, I'm willing to give the White House the benefit of the doubt. It's possible that they want to just keep tabs on this "disinformation", and no more. In support of this hypothesis, note that they don't ask people for information about the propagators of the disinformation; they just want citizens to forward "fishy" stuff. They could be just trying to keep tabs on the "disinformation" out there.

For the record, I'm NOT going to enter the debate about the validity/invasiveness of ObamaCare. By extrapolation, I won't give an opinion on whether or not the "disinformation" is actually true or not.

But that's a minor point. I'm willing to give the White House the benefit of the doubt, because it's possible that it's all PR-related; they just want to know what's being said out there about their plan. The danger, of course, is that they'll stop asking "What's being said?" and start asking "Who's saying it?" And then...well, that's what some of my fellow bloggers are concerned about.

As long as they're still saying "What's being said?" I'll trust them. But...this is a terrible, loaded comparison, but remember what the Inquisition asked people to do...

I hope we're not headed in that direction.

Also, Joel Schoeneck wants me to say that Hulu sold out to the man. I think he sold out to the Youtube. And is working for them. And spreading disinformation. So...take his words with a grain of salt.

Long live free speech!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Unproducable Literature: or, Books You Can't Make Into Movies

So I'm reading Fyodor Dostoevsky's (absolutely wonderful and brilliant) book The Brothers Karamazov right now. Among other things, the novel deals with psychology, guilt, the existence of God, tradition, the meaning of life, and a whole bunch of other amazing and deep philosophical/religious/cultural questions.

Well, being the theatre addict that I am, I began thinking about a stage adaptation...I mean, it would be interesting to see such a simultaneously epic and focused storyline translated to the stage--or, even better, to film. So I did some research, and I discovered that The Brothers Karamazov actually was made into a movie. And it starred Yul Brynner and...wait for it...William Shatner.

Apparently, the movie wasn't that great. Understandable...

And then I began thinking about other classic novels which really would have trouble translating to the screen well. Books like Moby Dick, Bleak House, Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion--okay, that one was a joke--Catcher in the Rye, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy...well, I'm sure there are others. Not just books, either: think about a movie based off of Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Or Milton's Paradise Lost.

The problem is that all of these wonderful excellent classics are great books, and when the movie industry hears "great book" they think "fan following" and then they think "blockbuster" and that's when the dollar signs start dancing before their eyes, if said dance hadn't started previously. Most of the works I mentioned do have captivating stories: just story-wise, think about a movie based from the Rime. Gripping, no?

But the sticking point is that these classics go beyond just a cool story. They touch on Themes, and as a rule Themes don't translate well from the page to the screen. Think, if you will, of Moby Dick, one of my personal favorites. The book deals with questions of identity; it talks about theory of authority; it discusses revenge (of course); evil is symbolized and explored; death, community, friendship, race relations...the book is a veritable wealth of psychological and philosophical discussion. And then there's the detailed--nay, exhaustive--descriptions of how a whaling vessel works, along with whaling history, whaling superstition, and whaling tall tales!

It just wouldn't work. Even theatrical productions of books like The Brothers Karamazov would end up being shallow narrative-centric failures. Which, to some extent, is a good thing...

I do wish, though, the laws, the Way Things Are, would take a vacation for a while, because a Rime movie would kick butt. I'd see that.

Long live impenetrability!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Narcissism, Misspelling, and Other Evils

So I was at first at a loss, deciding what I should blog about. But some conversations from the weekend (a good time, by the way) renewed themselves to my mind, so now I have some topics to pontificate about.

1. Appeals to human reason should be used wisely and sparingly. People like to argue, people like to debate, people like to think they're being super-rational. But the fact remains that in the Fall, our reason fell. Logic itself didn't fall; the rules that govern how ideas work and how the universe works are the same as they were before the Fall. But human perception of logic fell: therefore, it is impossible for a human to make perfect logical sense. Just like it's philosophically impossible for humans to produce inerrant truth in literature, no fallen human--which means, no human any of us will ever have contact with--can make a logically perfect statement. Thus, any appeal to human reason will be inherently flawed, and such appeals should be used sparingly.

2. Those most like us are the ones we hate the most. I've noticed this before, but it has been reinforced to me strongly, of late. "Opposites attract" for a reason: when we find someone very like us, we dislike what we see of ourselves in the other person.

3. Football is the American pastime. Every year the coverage of the NFL voluntary team stuff/training camps/preseason--it expands, it grows. And that's not even taking into account college football, which is in a golden age right now, as it were. The fact that the UFL, or whatever the latest attempt at a separate pro football league is abbreviating itself as, has gotten as much press as it has...

4. Stemming from this, creating a new franchise in ANY sport has become more and more difficult. Why? It may have something to do with expectations. Also, regulations. Also, the rising cost of publicity. Also...well, that's pretty much it. Even moving an already-established franchise is pretty horrible: I give you the Oklahoma City Thunder. Also, the Florida Marlins.

5. We have it pretty good here at my school. It could be a lot worse.

6. I wish I could do this. It's the definition of a niche skill.

7. Scared? Find out what your fear is called. Also, related to this, I can't wait for the final season of Monk to begin this weekend. RAH Monk!

That's all for now, folks. Tune in next week, or sometime in the future, to catch more of Ian the Pontificator's Uninformed Opinions. You never know what he'll talk about: radishes, movies, constabulary, innovation, philosophy, redaction, fanfics--now THAT sounds like a snappy blog--cheese sticks...the list goes on. You stay classy, San Diego?

Long live linguistic literacy!

Also, long live alliteration!