"Yes, eyes are for seeing, but these and all the other purposes in the natural world can be generated by processes that are themselves without purposes and without intelligence. This is hard to understand, but so is the idea that colored objects in the world are composed of atoms that are not themselves colored, and that heat is not made of tiny hot things." -- I think Dan Dennett, behemoth intellect and my first philosophy professor, not only smites the Intelligent Design goons once and for all here, he came up with a great new Bright Eyes album name!


Bookcrossing -- how have I not heard of this before? "The practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise." It's like intellectual littering-slash-resource management. Brilliant!
40-Year-Old Virgin Alert -- just a quick Ticket Stub blurb today, a glowing review of this sweet, sometimes stupid, and overwhelmingly hilarious Steve Carrell vehicle. I want to go back in time and not laugh so hard at Wedding Crashers after seeing this movie -- had their release dates been reversed, I would've seen W.C. as the far more puerile, generic film it is, Vince Vaughn notwithstanding. A simple premise ("Men are dogs -- hijinks ensue") and a witty, thoughtful script elevate this far beyond what it could've been: an extended SNL sketch, with dirty vocab. Carrell manages to make Andy, the titular neophyte, sympathetic rather than pitiful, a tall order. Extra points for Paul Rudd's ass and a Doug Henning poster, both prominently featured, plus the awesome dance number. Dare I say it: this is what a Male Chick Flick should be! (A) for laughs, (B) overall.
"Soon our collections will be all ones and zeroes stored deep in hard drives, instantly transferable and completely unsatisfying as possessions." -- The death of the Rock Snob is upon us, now that any fool can carry 10,000 totally obscure songs in his pocket. Boo hoo, Rock Snob, boo hoo.


"Too many Hollywood movies these days, they say, just are not good enough." -- Earth to Tinseltown: DUHHH! A NYTimes reporter is present for the dawning of reality among the studio heads. Check out the last few lines, where the Universal chief admits some of his summer movies "should never have been made." No kidding, dude. As NKW would say, it's like no human was involved in making this junk, it just gets extruded from a tube. Take a lesson from the audience favorites this summer: smaller is better, and just plain BETTER is better.


Nighty night. Posted by Picasa With one lovely exception, it's been the kind of week where I wish I was asleep in a room like this instead...so enjoy a taste of William Joyce, one of my favorite author/illustrators. Zzzzzz...
Hail Mary on the Half-Shell -- Flickr gallery of Somerville's vast array of yard shrines. Awesome! (Via Sushiesque)
Behold Boston Uncovered -- heh, funny that it's sponsored by The Globe, then. As Boston Magazine always says, thank god we're a two-newspaper town (for now). Anyway, B.U. (oh wait...) is the latest outreach-marketing ploy by the people who bring the Metro and Sidekick to the floors of the T all over town each day. Favorite sights, bars, movie theaters, eateries (including the IHOP in Brighton?!), blah blah blah. Better get uncovered while you can, new college kids, before the long, dreadful winter begins again...on, say, November 1.
I admit it, I'm addicted to Yahoo! Buzz -- no, it's not some new, cross-marketed energy drink, it's an entertaining little bog/sidebar where anonymous wags write up little blurbs on who & what people are looking for in the Yahoo! search engine. They list "movers" and "decliners," like the stock market, and it's all very meta-pop-cultural & wacky. Unfortunately for them, I still do all my searches on Google...but thanks for trying.
"The Dread Pirate Bin Laden" -- interesting treatise from Legal Affairs on using old laws against piracy to fight modern terrorism. All Hollywood incarnations aside, pirates were described by Daniel Defoe as "stateless persons at war with all the world." Al Qaeda et al. seem to fit that definition as well.
Waiter, there's an Allegra tablet in my soup -- The always entertaining WaiterRant launches a new technique: subtly diagnosing customers with free drug pens. Nice!


Heigh-ho, wedding cake unicorns, away! Posted by Picasa Please join me in the vast ocean of wedding tchochkes -- until a few weeks ago, I had no idea how deep and wide it was. God help me.
Today's M u l t i Ticket Stub feature will encompass a wide variety of recommended leisure activities, from theater to your summer reading list to the multiplex. Get out there, folks, only a few weeks of summer left...(shiver):

* Mad Hot Ballroom -- This is truly my favorite movie of 2005 to date, and you can take that as you will, but GO SEE IT. NYC public school kids taking a ballroom dancing class for P.E. -- the premise doesn't convey the wonderfully poised, gawky, funny, honest moments the movie catches on the faces and feet of these middle schoolers. Far less heartwrenching than Hoop Dreams, and much more upbeat than Spellbound, which seems like a festival of schadenfreude by comparison. (A+)

* Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim -- David Sedaris' latest recollections of his nutty family show a maturity and self-reflectiveness that somehow make the antics even funnier: the tale of his raunchy brother ("The Rooster") getting married is a highlight. His writing is so impossibly smooth, the poignant lines sneak right up on you. (A)

* Slanguage and The Syringa Tree -- OK, so it's too late for you to catch either show on the Boston theater scene, but keep a lookout in the future. Utterly different in production, both shows explore identity and how it's shaped by childhood environment: in one case the barrios and ghettos of northern Manhattan, in the other a divided household in apartheid-era South Africa. Creating a unique language of expression is central to each -- the performers of Universes, who developed Slanguage out of the NuYorican poetry slam scene, literally bang out their words with their bodies and voices onstage. Pamela Gien, the one-woman theater troupe who play all characters (young and old, black and white) in TST evokes a whole world with just her body, swinging on a swing across an empty stage. Both are powerful. (B) and (A)

* The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency -- I'm not a mystery person, but I fell swiftly under the spell of this book...probably because it's not a mystery, even though cases get solved and the plot unfolds in neat, satisfying, Austen-esque steps. Mma Ramotswe, the titular lady detective, tells her own engaging story of life, love, and death in Botswana in between tracking down philandering husbands and man-eating crocodiles...or both. (B+)

* The Quilts of Gee's Bend at the MFA -- The quilts are amazing, but you should make tracks over to Huntington Ave for the sociological smorgasbord in the exhibit room alone. With the continued self-examination of Boston (link to yesterday's Globe article on cross-cultural socializing) as a city stonily divided along race and class lines, this exhibit drew a most diverse crowd: young families, wizened grandmas, polished businesswomen, each represented in black, white, brown, and more. But best of all, it was the biggest lesbian pickup scene since Sister Spit; I felt like we were extras in an L Word episode. (Q)

* Centre Street Cafe in Jamaica Plain -- At this perenially popular slow food joint, I had the salad of my life, a huge panzanella with perfectly ripe red, yellow and purple farmer's market tomatoes, cukes, onion, olives, chewy bread cubes, and rich olive oil. OK, maybe it was more of a fattoush. Whatever, it was well worth the trip. (A+) for salad, (B) overall.

* Wedding Crashers -- I admit, my expectations were low, despite many recommendations from fellow Vince Vaughn-o-philes. And he does make the movie: Owen Wilson is starting to dry up like an old flip-flop, and Vince was on fire with his signature random ad-libbing all over the place ("Im gonna choose not to eat with ya..."). The plot is cookie-cutter bedroom farce, which goes down easily enough, but the quirky casting (Christopher Walken and Jane Seymour are married, yet hardly interact onscreen) is wasted by the frantic hopping from joke to joke. That is, until the ponderous last 20 minutes, when it suddenly turns into a chick flick -- the best guy friends fight, grow up a little, and make up, awwwww. Points off for Gratuitous Cameo of the Year (I'm sure you can guess who), and for Rachel McAdams' very poorly-colored hair, but overall an amusing diversion. (C++)

* Eastern Standard, Kenmore Square -- The enormous new bistro in the Hotel Commonwealth is finally open, seating on the sidewalk and in a classy room filled with oversized red leather booths. There's something for everyone on the menu, from liverwurst to steak to addictive, skinny, salty fries. I had the ultimate grilled cheese, oozing from buttery brioche -- it should come with a side of Lipitor. Great for an outing, but probably insane on a game night. (B)
Here's one for the Only In This Town file -- Boston City Council candidates are invited to perform in a talent show just before the primary election, to "humanize" and connect them to voters. In typical fashion, Mayor Menino's boasting is the funniest thing about the article. Buy your tickets early and often, people.
Contemporary literature = "endless kvetching"-- Long, rambling, juicy interview with Camille Paglia in The Morning News, in which she waxes on about everything from Oscar Wilde to the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile, and not even in the same sentence! This is for all you fellow ex-English majors out there...
Let's play The Exciting Game of Career Girls! -- Check out a vintage 1966 board game all about the "wide" world of the working "girl." I especially like the heart-shaped tokens you collect showing which attributes you'll need to succeed: "quick thinker" and "pretty" are good, but "overweight" and "failed Biology" are bad, I'll try to remember that.


God Save the Needlepoint! Posted by Picasa I want one of everything from Etsy.com, an online craftopia for buying and selling all manner of handmade things...like this cuddly Johnny Rotten portrait. Yes! Must bookmark for the holidays...
What did Americans do with their Jesus Pierogies before EBay? -- Eat them? Shellac them? Keep them in the freezer indefinitely? I'm still awaiting my own Jesus/Madonna-in-food sighting...and I love pierogies, the more old-school the better, mmmm.
"Both Texans will be tarred by history for having waged disastrous, unwinnable wars. Both holed up at their Texas ranches whenever they wanted out of Washington." -- You guessed it, GWB and LBJ have some striking similarities. The big difference? Johnson had empathy, and that made him a great leader, despite the ongoing horror of Vietnam. Can't say the same for W., folks. And speaking of his lack of empathy, "peace mom" Cindy Sheehan, camped in front of Compound W., is facing not only runaway pickup trucks and a neighbor firing off his shotgun, but a petition to restrict the protesters to somewhere, you know, less public. Nice.


First with the same-sex marriage, now the same-sex swans -- Head down to the Public Garden, behold the swan couple that's brought a touch of romance to the pond for 16 years, "Romeo" and "Juliet." Except it turns out they're both female -- please insert your own "Boston Marriage" joke here. And speaking of which, just think of how many cheesy wedding photos those swans are in...rock on, swans! And in related news, see the NYTimes Style piece on that old standby, the Girl Crush.


"I just saw a sign for LEE-O-minster." -- Ah, that particularly Massachusetan disconnect, between the spelling of our place names and their pronunciation...behold a Bostonist rant on same. I grasped Worcester (that's "Wuss-tah!") right off, but come on, who came up with "Billa-RICKAH" for poor Billerica? Thankfully I now live in one of the many Arlingtons in the USA, that's an easy one.
"Men may have their first real chance in forty-five years at having a voice in the reproductive rights discussion. The question is: Do they want one?" -- Intriguing look at the forthcoming male contraceptive pill, potentially on drugstore shelves by 2010. Unless anti-choice pharmacists get wind of it, presumably...grrrr.


Eeeek, it's Bridezilla! Posted by Picasa Or not. Yes, it's true, I am betrothed -- huzzah! Let the Woodwardification commence! :D But...I promise not to turn TAI into Royal Fairy Princess Barbie ConeBride Hell along the way. I've already gotten lots of advice from my married friends (like "Elope! Elope! Elope!" Thanks, Marky!) and the internet is packed with diversions like Going Bridal, the work of delightfully crafty/evil Sara. See also EtiquetteHell, IndieBride, and of course, Corpse Bride.
Which Country Are You? -- I never get tired of these quizzes. Of course, I'm Canada.
Step right up, make your own One Word Movie -- this is really cool. Thanks, Lindsay!
Flip-Flopping America -- No, I'm not referring to our new national footwear choice, I'm talking about plummeting support for the war in Iraq. Eric Boehlert at Salon rounds up the latest conservative smear campaign, against military mom Cindy Sheehan: her son was killed last year, and now she's camped in a ditch outside Bush Vacationland in Crawford, TX, waiting for Georgie to accept her invitation to chat. GOP true believers rush to discredit her, because she used to think Bush was a decent guy. What's changed? As she puts it: "Over 1,100 more soldiers are dead since then, the Downing Street memo report came out, the Senate intelligence report has come out, and the 9/11 Commission report has come out. Saddam is gone, they've had free democratic elections in Iraq, and our troops are still there." And yet GWB wants to "stay the course." What a flop.
Let the Hobbit Feast begin! -- And pass the popcorn topped with mushrooms and bacon, please. Check it out, the coolest movie theater in America is hosting a LOTR trilogy marathon with 7 Hobbit-a-licious meals to go with! Oh, Karen, we may have to return to Austin just for this... :)
If On A Summer's Day A Television... -- diverting photo gallery of castoff junk on the curbs of San Francisco, by Heather Champ. God I love the summers out there, nothing but jeans and fog.
"There's no reason why, if there's 'Wedding Crashers' for boys, there can't be something really funny yet intelligent for women, that has something to say for women." -- So true, Gwyneth, so true...but is that "something" a short-film collection sponsored by Glamour magazine? Yes, the project has a great collection of women in the entertainment biz, but, in the words of Jerry Seinfeld, "Glamour?!?" Gwyneth is directing a short called "Dealbreakers" about bad first dates, of which I'm sure she's had many. She's also portrayed an impressive range of female heroines onscreen, from the spoiled Emma Woodhouse to the star-crossed transvestite Viola DeLesseps. We'll leave the trailer-trash stewardess and karaoke star roles alone.

Mmmm, the chocolate planet. Posted by Picasa Well, OK, it's just Mars, but it does look rich and fudgy...with a crunchy blue water ice center!


Holy Shtetl -- prepare yourselves, theatergoers! None other than Irish-American professional lesbian Rosie O'Donnell will be taking over the role of Golde in Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway this fall. Of course, her husband Tevye is played by Harvey Fierstein...oy! Get this, the show's original lyricist says Rosie "is certainly strong, and down to earth, with a certain peasanty quality to her." Indeed: check out the babushka in this photo!
Whaddya mean, the Air Force isn't in the Constitution?! -- Here's a little primer on our much-misunderstood founding document, and what it doesn't include, little things like the word "democracy" or the right to vote. See also the Kids page -- maybe this should be distributed to certain members of Congress, and FoxNews pundits, to help them grasp the basics?


"Regular lipstick wearers will ingest up to four and a half kilos during their lifetime." -- Mmmmmm! You might think twice about flipping through the latest Vogue after this review of Beauty And Misogyny: Harmful Cultural Practices In The West by Sheila Jeffreys, last of the radical lesbian feminist critics. I'm not sure if moisturizer and hair dye are always tools of the patriarchy, but I do think the sexual infantilization of women in our culture really can't sink much lower -- in my lifetime we've gone from power suits (ie "dress like a man, except with eyeshadow") to low rise jeans to the current style of flip-flops, flowered skirts, and teeny camisoles on women of all ages. Um, no.
The Adventures of Art Lad -- the coolest blog by a six-year-old who likes to draw EVER.
Soooo many ticketed events, sooooo little time -- I'll save the theatrical Ticket Stubs for next week, but the movies can be dispatched quickly:

* Charlie & The Chocolate Factory: Ah, the pleasant clinking sound of two well-matched minds colliding, those of Roald Dahl and Tim Burton. Finally puts the 70's "classic" version on mothballs with a darkly zany update that stays much closer to the written story, including the lyrics to the OompaLoompa songs! I admit I actually like the earlier Charlie more than Freddie Highmore, who's a bit dull here, but Johnny Depp is the real star anyway, totally in his element as the socially stunted, foppish Candyman. Bonus points for Christopher "Saruman" Lee as his sinister yet loving dad! (A)

* Must Love Dogs: Will there ever be another decent romantic comedy? This stumbler wastes Diane Lane (we're supposed to believe that she's too plain to get a date) and John Cusack (we're supposed to believe he isn't John Cusack) as a pair of divorcees dipping their toes into the shark-infested online dating pool. Weak hijinks ensue. There are a few hilarious moments (chasing down an open drugstore at the end of a date, ahem) but they're smothered by inflated side characters like Christopher Plummer (faking an Irish brogue!), Stockard Channing (don't ask), and Elizabeth Perkins (resurrected from the 80's RomCom graveyard). Awful, tacked-on ending and gratuitous touches like couples talking into the camera and a "spontaneous" family sing-along drag it down to Lifetime Movie Channel level. You could follow this on a plane without the headphones. (C-)

* March of the Penguins: Very cute and inspiring, those penguins, the stay-at-home dads of the avian world. After Winged Migration, I found this a little stagey, like a PBS documentary that builds a "plot" around the raw footage ("But now the mother senses danger..."). But the visuals are great. The Morgan Freeman Voiceover™ I could do without. (B)