Wednesday, February 28, 2007
farkleberries Links du Jour 171: The Mind Over Fatter Edition 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 


Thursday, February 22, 2007
farkleberries Links do Jour 170: The Coffee Is Good For You Edition 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 


Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Coming Soon: This American Life 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 

Chicago Public Radio/NPR fave This American Life comes to Showtime Networks March 22nd - if this trailer is any indication, it's a must-see. Mysterious Brahmin bulls, gun-toting grannies, Crucifixion reenactors, and elderly painters of nudes are just a taste of the offbeat treats in store. Check it out in Windows Media or Quicktime at thisamericanlife.org. [via Gapers Block]


Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Ice Hermae at the University of Chicago 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
This past week, I was perplexed by the appearance of numerous strange ice sculptures around the University of Chicago campus: armless, legless squarish torsoes a little over two-and-a-half-feet high, each bearing a Moai-like ice head and a...er, "flagstaff at attention" (although some of the statues had lost their "staffs," either through vandalism or sublimation). A white sticker was affixed to each one, bearing the Internet address herm.notlong.com. Now, the UofC campus is no stranger to odd guerilla artwork and performance pieces, but how could one not be curious when confronted by one of these on the way to work?

Turns out I've been lax in my history lessons. The priapic popsicles are a modern-day resurrection of ancient Greek hermae, protective stone statues
dedicated to the god Hermes. In 415 B.C., saboteurs from Syracuse (the one in Greece, not the one in Upstate New York) were alleged to have defaced the hermae of Athens, thereby threatening the success of the Athenian expansion in the Peloponnesian War.

Creating and deploying the UofC Ice Herms was no small task - each one reportedly weighs 140 pounds. Just think - the UofC Humanities curriculum wanted to phase out Western Civ recently. Lesson: you can set up dozens of bephallused ice sculptures on this nerdiest of campuses and they'll stand until melted. Try doing is almost anywhere else and you might get arrested for "endangering public morals." You've gotta love this place! Even though the hermae are melting, their brief presence surely put a smile in many people's day...I'd love to hear what some of the resident bluestockings (of all genders) had to say about the herms. ;)

How'd he do it? See the laborious step-by-step process at "The Erection of the Ice Hermai" (ha, ha). Since they will all likely be gone after today's 40°F thaw, view them for yourself at Neoherm's Ice Herms Flickr gallery (Image above from Neoherm's Flickr set; this one was set up outside of Regenstein Library). [Note: one of the links on the "Erection of the Ice Hermai" is broken, but with a little experimentation I found the right URL - http://picasaweb.google.com/neoherm/TheMakingPartII, where Neoherm freezes heads, torsoes and phalli after creating molds in Part I. This shot, depicting frozen phalli next to packages of hamburger in the icebox (possibly NSFW depending on where you work) is especially amusing.]

UPDATE - I took this shot of what's left of one of the ice herms Wednesday afternoon: not much to speak of.

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Monday, February 19, 2007
Dats-a Spicy Meatball 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 

Say what you will about YouTube, but where else will you find ancient television commercials like this "Mamma Mia, dats-a spicy meatball!" Alka-Seltzer™ spot from 1970. It's one of my first TV memories (that, Richard Nixon, and the Beatles breaking up) - to this day I still remember that oven door falling off its hinges at the end. Classic!

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Saturday, February 17, 2007
What if Britney Shaved Her Head and No One Gave a Damn 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Some thoughts on public shock surrounding voluntarily bald women: baldness in women connotes undesirable states like desexualization (as tonsure in religious contexts), shaming (in repressive regimes like Nazi Germany and witchhunt-era Europe (and modern-day Asia), women frequently had their heads shaved in public as punishment), disease (anything from “treatment” of head lice to hair loss associated with cancer, etc.), or “sexual nonconformity.”

We also recall the bizarre photos of the female members of Charles Manson's "Family" showing up in court with shaven heads, freshly-scabbed-over swastikas carved on their foreheads - and the bald psychopathic LSD badtrippers in "Blue Sunshine." A bald-headed woman is clearly seen as somehow evil, dehumanized...or just plain nuts.

We’ve made some progress in the past few decades - Natalie Portman’s baldilocks for her recent film role in V for Vendetta were considered slightly less shocking than the late Persis Khambatta’s in the late-seventies Star Trek films - but unfortunately we’ve still a long way to go before women can wear stylishly shaved heads without arousing pity, scorn, or bewilderment:
"Some people will think I'm a neo-Nazi or that I have cancer or I'm a lesbian," so supposed the actress Natalie Portman, who has shaved her head for her next film role in V for Vendetta and debuted the look at Cannes [May 2005], to the consternation of many. Portman is the latest in a relatively small procession of anti-Rapunzels - Sinead O'Connor, Demi Moore, Sigourney Weaver, Skin, and the model Eve Salvail being the most well-documented. Despite the fact that we can digest all manner of unorthodox hairstyles and outlandish beauty trends, a shaven head on a woman is still a look that causes shock.
I think part of the reason Britney’s new ‘do is making headlines (besides the other recent publicized events in her life, like her separation and rehab ’stint’) is its chronological proximity to Anna Nicole Smith’s death. One American starlet “goes down in flames,” and another one is starting to act mighty peculiar. The tabloid media is waiting for Britney’s other shoe to drop.

(P.S.) Joan Jett shaved her head (briefly) at the turn of the millennium, partly as a personal "turning point," partly as part of her role in the Broadway version of Rocky Horror Picture Show; few people gave a hoot. Did anyone care when Howie Mandel shaved his head? Nooo. Then again, unlike Britney Spears, he wasn't captured on video exposing his genitalia in public.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007
The Kills - "No Wow (Live)" 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
The Kills are cute, waify vocalist Alison Mosshart, who goes by the moniker "VV" for reasons unexplained, and pale, gangly guitarist/vocalist Jamie Hince, who also goes by "Hotel". They perform side-by-side on a barren stage with the beats played by a preprogrammed drum machine. It doesn't sound electronic, funky or futuristic -- just basic and hard, which is what these two are all about. They piss on everything commercial, gaudy and fake in rock music and attempt to create an unadulterated "f--k you" with rock n roll that stops where most music is just getting started.
-- From "Never Heard of the Kills? Turn Around. That's Them..." by Mike Bruno at The Black Table, who does a nice job summing up the sound of the Kills. [Warning: language NSFW, and I don't mean the f-word I bleeped above to get this post past your Net Nanny. Let's just say...Mike likes the Kills. A lot. ;)]

The Kills' official website
The Kills on MySpace
The Kills [Wikipedia]

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Longest. Commute. Ever. 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 

Have you heard about the snowstorm passing through Chicago/Illinois today? It's nothing compared to Great Lakes-area New York, but it's still horrific. It took me over 4 hours to get home tonight from Hyde Park. <20 mi./4 hrs. = ~4.5 mi/hr? Hell, I could have walked home faster with less risk of bodily injury.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007
ex-NBA John Amaechi Comes Out 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Former NBA player John Amaechi joins the rarefied category of openly gay professional athletes. From Sports Illustrated:
Former NBA center John Amaechi, who spent five seasons with four teams, on Wednesday became the first NBA player to publicly come out. His admission comes three years after his playing career ended, making him the sixth professional male athlete from one of the four major U.S. sports -- basketball, baseball, football, hockey -- to openly discuss his homosexuality. Amaechi details his life in his autobiography Man in the Middle, which will be released Feb. 14.
However, I'm a bit confused by the logic of Cavs' LeBron James' reaction to the news, which I think sheds an important insight into the emotional politics of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell":
NBA commissioner David Stern said a player's sexuality wasn't important. "We have a very diverse league. The question at the NBA is always 'Have you got game?' That's it, end of inquiry," he said. LeBron James, however, said he didn't think an openly gay person could survive in the league.

"With teammates you have to be trustworthy, and if you're gay and you're not admitting that you are, then you are not trustworthy," James said. "So that's like the No. 1 thing as teammates -- we all trust each other. You've heard of the in-room, locker room code. What happens in the locker room stays in there. It's a trust factor, honestly. A big trust factor."
On the one hand, James appears to be saying trust is the number one factor in team cohesiveness, and he says a gay player who is not honest with his/her teammates about sexuality violates that trust - yet he also says he "didn't think an openly gay person could survive in the league"? Unless James is being misquoted, to me that sounds entirely contradictory. Is he saying he'd feel more comfortable playing alongside a closeted player, or an honest [openly gay] player? Or does he mean that a player's homosexuality, open or not, is in itself a violation of team trust? To me it sounds like a mealy-mouthed way of saying gays are unwelcome on James' team, out or not: 'damned if you do, damned if you don't.'

Amaechi apparently did well enough for himself during his [closeted] career in the majors that sexuality certainly needn't have been an issue - and good on him for having the courage to stand up and be counted in a still-hostile environment.

John Amaechi: 100 Great Black Britons

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Some Things Never Change: Meet Turkana Boy 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
"I did not evolve from Turkana Boy or anything like it...These sorts of silly views are killing our faith." -- Bishop Boniface Adoyo, head of Kenya's 35 evangelical denominations, which he claims have 10 million followers.
"Is it on your grandfather's or your grandmother's side that you claim descent from a monkey?" -- Bishop "Soapy Sam" Wilberforce, to Thomas Huxley, at a meeting ["Conversazione"] of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Oxford on Saturday, June 30th, 1860, to which Huxley famously retorted withering praise, "I would rather be descended from a humble ape than from a great gentleman who uses considerable intellectual gifts in the service of falsehood."

Monday, February 05, 2007
Tiger Baby - "Girlfriend" 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 

Noise Around Me is the latest CD by Danish band Tiger Baby, the trio of Benjamin Teglbjærg, Nikolaj Gregersen, and Pernille Pang. I came across their album more or less by accident, and it's quickly become a favorite. It feels like the soundtrack to a city night seen from a high-rise, all concrete silhouette and chrome and dapple of multicolor reflections on rain-washed pavement. Layering a sophisticated groove with the translucent, shimmering quality of Pang's vocals, Noise Around Me has not only a muscular electronic core but a warm, playful heart charged with surprising intimacy and originality. If you enjoy the sound of artists like Ladytron, Saint Etienne, Depeche Mode, or Air, I think you'll love this disc as much as I do.

Enjoy the video to their single, "Girlfriend," above.

Tiger Baby's MySpace page
Noise Around Me at CD Baby and Amazon.com

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Sunday, February 04, 2007
If the Super Bowl Were Won On the Basis of Good Eats, We'd Be Champs 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 

Helsinki Complaints Choir 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Bravo! Screw "We Are The World" - this is the real hymn of the human condition.

"Old forests are cut down for toilet paper;
Still all the toilets are out of paper...
...ringtones are all irritating...
...Tramline 3 smells of pee...
...my flat is tiny yet it eats all my money,
and I've nothing left to save the world with..."

[via William Gibson's blog]

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Saturday, February 03, 2007
Floating Wiener Dog 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
This actual video clip of a dachshund in (temporary) zero-g is simply too funny.

Via: VideoSift