URLs du Jour

2007-12-18

  • I can report that the War Against Christmas is doing poorly again this year, as I had no problem buying baby Jesus stamps at the Rollinsford, NH, Post Office. Apologies to any pagans on our card list.

  • Charles Paul Freund wins the coveted Pun Salad "Read the Whole Thing" award for today. His American Spectator article involves (a) property rights, (b) the separation of church and state, and (c) architecture, all as they relate to the hideous Third Church of Christ, Scientist in downtown Washington DC.
    If at first you don't at first recognize the Third Church of Christ, Scientist, as a church at all, don't be embarrassed; most people probably mistake it for a fortress intended to protect the president's house against a tank assault. It's a largely windowless octagonal tower made of raw, weathered concrete, and it's surrounded by a sterile "plaza" that seems to have been emptied to keep the line of fire clear. The site inspires few people with a sense of spirituality.
    Freund describes the situation well: not only is the building butt-ugly, it's also dysfunctional and a maintenance nightmare. Its parishoners despise it, but its demolition is being blocked by the local preservationists, who have the force of DC's government, such as it is, behind them.
    So why has the city's Historic Preservation Review Board unanimously declared the Third Church of Christ, Scientist to be an official D.C. landmark, preventing not only its demolition, but even its unauthorized alteration? Because, it turns out, it is a sterling example of the mid-century school of design known as Brutalism.
    Now, I know (to a first approximation) nothing about architecture, but when I saw the word "Brutalism", I said: "Hey, sounds like Boston City Hall."

    And guess what the first pictured example on the Freund-linked Wikipedia "Brutalist architecture" page is?

    Prince Charles might be a nitwit, but Wikipedia credits him with a pretty good line about Brutalism:

    "You have, ladies and gentlemen, to give this much to the Luftwaffe", he said in 1984, addressing the Royal Institute of British Architects, "when it knocked down our buildings, it didn't replace them with anything more offensive than rubble."

  • Are you a music fan Of A Certain Age? Check out Donald Fagen on Ike Turner.

  • Drew Cline makes up a useful word: Hucklemencies.

  • I watch a lot of movies, but I've managed to (so far) avoid all but one of the AV Club's sixteen Worst Films Of 2007. The one I watched: Smokin' Aces. Personally, I would have left that off the list, but added Perfect Stranger.

  • OK, so maybe you're having a bad day. But at least a black hole in a neighboring galaxy isn't showering the Milky Way with enough radiation to kill you and any other life forms within 100,000 light years. That would totally suck.


Last Modified 2007-12-19 1:18 PM EST

The Lookout

[Amazon Link] [4.0
stars] [IMDb Link]

A neat little noir movie. We have a fallible protagonist in Chris Pratt, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, once a high school golden boy whose driving misadventures have left him brain-damaged, with a truckload of guilt. He needs to leave notes for himself so that he (for example) doesn't forget to turn off his alarm in the morning. He struggles with some physical tasks, and speaks inappropriately at times. And he's very aware of how much he's lost, so he's bitter and resentful, and there's nobody to blame but himself. So he's a good candidate for getting roped into a bank heist masterminded by a smooth-talking sociopath, played by Matthew Goode.

In addition to a decent plot, the movie has a wealth of three-dimensional supporting players. Jeff Daniels plays Chris's blind roommate as a blunt-speaking ex-druggie. Isla Fisher is a hooker (name: Luvlee Lemons) with a heart of—well, not gold, but not brass either; she's the sociopath's bait to lure Chris in. And D-Day himself, Bruce McGill, plays Chris's father; he doesn't know how to deal with Chris's situation, but you can see he wants to try.

Anyway, the heist happens, plots get twisted, and it's certainly worth a look.


Last Modified 2012-10-15 3:07 PM EST