Saturday, April 29, 2006

As in the Cylinder

Dear everyone,
To graduate does not take a direct object as a verb when used to describe an individual graduating from an institution. "Kimiko graduated college this spring" means one of the following things:
- Kimiko conferred a degree upon college this spring.
- Kimiko gradually changed college by degrees this spring.
- Kimiko arranged or divided college into steps or grades this spring.

I think people find that using graduate as a direct object verb in this way makes them sound smart or British or both (like Sir Ian McLellan), but in fact, to me, it simply sounds affected. Of course everyone will understand you perfectly, and I'm sure that in a few decades this usage will be standard and acceptable, but what is a blog for if not airing completely inconsequential grievances to a largely uninterested public? Here are some grammatically acceptable usages of to graduate.

- Hollywood Upstairs Medical School and Discount Electronics graduates a class of 200 this year.
- Elutherius Abednego Constington was graduated from Harvard in 1810.
- Barring further assault convictions, the university plans to graduate her this spring.
- I graduated from college.

Comments? Objections from Wobblies and Levellers?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Colossal Review Roundup

Alright BLOGOSPHERE, get ready for a large number of very short reviews culled from this depressing month of April.

Scary Movie 4
If the writers had chosen to parody something other than War of the Worlds and The Grudge (which is a bizarre choice, given that the last Scary Movie parodied The Ring, which you need a scorecard to differentiate from The Grudge), this would have been a much better movie. Anna Faris is charming and very funny, and it would be nice if she had some sharper material to work with. Probably worth seeing on Stars, or if you are already at the mall waiting for a hairdressing appointment.

Silent Hill
Once I played Silent Hill 2 for about fifteen minutes and then got so scared that I literally couldn’t sleep for a week. This was in January of this year. This movie is not that scary, but it is extremely grimy and skin-crawlingly unpleasant. The movie fails to evoke the “oh shit, oh shit!” terror of the games, but does manage to weave together a pretty coherent, kind of interesting plot. Laurie Holden is compelling as freaked-out police officer Sybil Bennet, and Sean Bean is entirely misspent in a secondary role that looks like it was filmed as a response to focus-group viewing of an early draft of the movie. The monsters were somehow less terrifying because you can see them clearly; some of the mystery is eroded, so there’s less room to fill in the gaps with your personal psychosexual horrors.

Game Boy Review Roundup – Normal People Stop Reading
Many of you may know that I recently purchased a game boy advance, or as some like to call it a MicroNanoBoy. I did this so I could play games on the subway or train, and in fact it allows me to achieve this goal. The games, however, are not really all that good. Most people think that the game boy is a system for children, but most of these games would cause a carefree young child to convene a Stuffed Animal War Tribunal and sentence the game boy to being used as a very small skateboard ramp. The games are very, very difficult in the manner of classic Nintendo games like Kid Icarus, games that I mastered to such a low and spastic degree that I rarely made it past the opening credits.

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
If you are autistic, you will really like this game. Very Japanese, very into punishing you down the road for decisions you make before you really know what you’re doing. I played it for many hours a day for about three weeks then got disgusted and quit. The graphics were charming but the whole experience felt somehow antiquated. The class-switching system is fun, the Laws system is definitely not fun. I liked the equipment management system. I did not like having some of my best soldiers look like deformed rabbits.

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
Very good. Too short, a little bit too difficult, but all in all a dreamboat.

Metroid Fusion
Made me want to throw the game boy into a storm drain. It seems like it consists of incredibly hard battles interspersed with fun use of your swell cyber-powers, but it’s actually just the typically annoying video game progression where by the time you get your awesome powers, they are not all that awesome. Why would I want to pay to have my alter-ego repeatedly killed by something that looks like a retarded bat wearing an airport metal detector?

Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
This made me want to throw the game boy into some kind of special storm drain that is twice as deep as a normal storm drain. Coupling graphics and inventory management straight out of Ultima Three with a delightful mechanic in which if a character dies, he or she is dead forever, this game was absorbing for about ten hours, then the scales fell from my eyes and I realized that I was replaying the same mission for the ninth time and that I secretly wished that all the characters were dead.

Advance Wars II
Shit sandwich.

Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga
Since E. Hastings endorsed Paper Mario, I thought this Mario RPG thing might work. Again, this game looks like it might be for children but is in fact better suited to mutant superchildren or baby robots or something. Puzzle minigames: way too hard and annoying. Princess Peach escort mission: abominable. Also, grow some fucking balls, Mario and Luigi! You’re like 40 years old!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Heads You Live, Tails you HOLLYWOOD MAGIC!

A Review of Domino

At one point in Domino Tom Waits shows up in the middle of the desert, driving a classic convertible, bandages on his hands and stubble on his long and wolfish face. He tells Keira Knightley, her boss, her violent, sociopathic Latin lover, and their Afghan terrorist RV driver that they must sacrifice their lives to pay for a $300,000 operation for the grand-daughter of a 28 year-old DMV clerk/ Jerry Springer guest named Lateesha. During this scene 90210 alumnus Ian Ziering (playing himself) dances in his underwear, socks covering his hands, babbling hysterically after having drunk coffee larded up with mescaline instead of non-dairy creamer. This is indeed the weirdest scene in the movie, but not by too long a stretch. How could I not love it? I give it nine thumbs up. A. O. Scott recently wrote an article about how there were no great artistic flops produced anymore, that movies were focus-grouped and noted into safe mediocrity. This movie may be neither great nor artistic, but it is definitely not mediocre.

Monday, April 10, 2006

She Blinded me with Very Poorly Conceived Science

Take this delightful test from the Harvard psychology department. Come back when you finish - I'll be waiting right here, in the BLOGOSPHERE!

Ok, basically, this test is supposed to measure your association of certain racial groups with negative ideas, in this case black people with weapons. The researchers claim that this is designed to detect the unconcious roots of racial profiling in almost everyone. In the debriefing page for the test they lament the fact that people who take the test most often associate harmless objects with white people and weapons with black people.

The test works in the following way: you can sort an object or person into one of two categories. it starts off with black on the right and white on the left; then it goes to weapons on the right and harmless objects on the left, then to black OR weapons on the right and white OR harmless on the left. Then it switches categories so that blacks are paired with harmless objects and whites with weapons. My test came back that I had a slight tendency to associate blacks with weapons and whites with harmless objects (cellphones were one of the representative examples, although I don't really think of them as harmless).

Here's the thing: the test measures how many mistakes you made and how swiftly you selected categories. I made many more mistakes in the final category (black and harmless objects versus whites and weapons). Is this because watching American History X in high school turned me into a big ol' racist? NO, it's because I got used to where the categories were on the test! It would be like suddenly having the turn signals on your car reversed: what you associate with them (left and right turns) has no intellectual or decision-making content. You simply know to push the stick down for left and up for right, and if these directions suddenly reverse you're going to make many mistakes. I cannot believe that this actually passes for statistically robust research even in a field as decayed and idiotic as psychology. Even in the dim and badly organized sociology and statistics class I took sophomore year they specifically told us not to design surveys like this, since they cause an egregious bias. The study is so flawed and so unimportant to almost every human being that only the blogosphere can pass judgement on it. The sentence? Death by drowning.