Saturday, August 31, 2013

Rolling Out Obamacare

TPM has a great round-up of various states' ads for their new health insurance exchanges and marketplaces that will open on October 1st and hope to cover seven million people in the next year. A lot of the campaigns are clever and fun. Some are more informative than others, but I think they're all interesting enough to get people who need insurance or pay high premiums for individual insurance to take a look. I really like the one that emphasizes that when insurers compete, you win!

Who doesn't like beating the insurance companies and getting better coverage?

Choice: Texas, a Very Serious Game

There's an interesting campaign on IndieGoGo to help develop an interactive, online game designed to show how difficult it is for women in Texas to gain access to reproductive healthcare and abortions, especially after the controversial passage of the omnibus abortion bill earlier this summer. It's an interesting concept, and could be a good way to get more people to understand the difficulties women face when trying to gain access to reproductive services, as well as the devastating effects these new state laws can have against the right to choose.

[via ThinkProgress]

Otter Conservation Does a Global Climate Good

Otters, who help manage kelp forests by keeping urchin populations in check, sequester an estimated $200-400 million worth of carbon, according to an analysis (of European carbon markets) by UCSC. So in case anyone ever asks why it's worth protecting animal species aside from their inherent adorableness? Boom. Answered.

[via ThinkProgress]

Rob Thomas Making Our Generation's 'Les Miserables'

Rob Thomas has yet to do any wrong in my mind (don't screw up the V-Mars movie, please!!), so I hope that his modern adaptation of 'Les Mis' recently picked up as a script commitment for Fox is as awesome as it should be. There are hundreds of scripts written for pilot season, so we'll probably never see this show, but I bet it would be seriously awesome. How many gender roles do you think he'll reverse? What norms will he subvert? Will our Jean Valjean be as bitingly funny as V-Mars or Henry from Party Down? We might know!

[via /Film]

'Gates' Parody Trailer

If Jobs was about Bill Gates instead...

I can't agree with the joke about who still uses PC's (most companies do, not just car mechanics...), especially considering how much cheaper they are and better for certain job types (Adobe anyone?). But it is true that Bill Gates seems like a loveable nerd who is more interesting in function than design. Also weird that they made fun of him for being a philanthropist and wanting to use his money for good... but still pretty amusing!

[via Happy Place]

Former Prisoners' Thoughts on 'Orange is the New Black'

The Cut held a screening of Orange is the New Black for formerly incarcerated women. Here's what they thought.

This paragraph was particularly interesting:

"Orange Is the New Black’s frequent flashbacks provide depth for its formidable ensemble cast, but they might erase one of the hazards of forming relationships inside: You never truly know anyone. “Prison is the largest stage ever,” Morales said. “And the Oscar goes to ... Everybody is somebody else.” Women are not just “gay for the stay,” added Donovan. They’re religious for the stay. Degrees are invented."
I had never thought of it that way... I bet that must be really weird/stressful to go through.

Show Us the Dongs, HBO!

I know this is a few weeks old, but I've been on vacation! So here's another funny comedy video making the rounds, also with Sasheer Zamata. Careful, though some Season 3 Game of Thrones spoilers ahead...

For serious! We got some Rob Stark butt and some Jon Snow chest (and maybe also butt) last season, but there were no wangs. And there were many, many boobs and vaginas. Netflix, you are not excluded from this, either! I know Orange is the New Black is set in a women's prison, but still. All we're asking for is equality. Not equalititties.

How to Politely React to Your Friend's Terrible Engagement

I hope no one did this to me, and I certainly haven't done this to anyone else! But some very good tips in case it ever does come up. Although, I think if someone was a 'medium racist' who uses 'feminist as an insult' I would probably say something very impolite to him, if not to his fiancee.

Funny stuff!

[via The Hairpin]

Zen Pencil's Bill Watterson Advice

Gavin Aung Than drew another fantastic, inspirational comic over at Zen Pencils, this time from advice by cartoonist Bill Watterson of Calvin and Hobbes. 

Intriguing start, right? You can read the full comic at his website.

Benedict Cumberbatch Name Generator

While I wish it would produce all names that are just as silly as Benedict Cumberbatch, this name generator that produces sound alikes is pretty darn great. My favorite is Bombadil Gigglesnort. A little J.R.R. Tolkein and a little Harry Potter all rolled into Cumberbatchiness..

[via The Hairpin]

Does This Explain Why I'm a Failure, but my Relationship is Great?

A study out of UVA suggests that straight men feel worse when their partners succeed, even when they're not in direct competition with them. I guess it's true that I feel much better knowing the person writing this article didn't succeed in giving the study the enormous grain of salt it deserves. It was done on 32 college-aged couples. First of all, 32 is way to small of a sample size to make such a wide-ranging conclusion. Second of all, college-aged guys are idiots. They probably would feel bad if they themselves scored in the top 12% of a test because then they might be a nerd. I know the article tries to back it up with the two studies it cites in the bottom, but a) the Netherlands? Really? and b) Does anyone seriously trust an online study? Come on.

Orange is the New Throne

The Hairpin's Survival Prognoses for OITNB characters if they were in Game of Thrones is a delight. I particularly like Taystee's and Pornstache's write-ups. Check it out!

Chris Christie signs Equal Pay Bill

I'm not a huge fan of Chris Christie. He has shut down helpful infrastructure projects that were years in the making, and vetoed several key bills passed by New Jersey's Congress (gun control, gay marriage, medical marijuana, to name a few). But it was heartening to hear that he signed (and more importantly that NJ's congress passed) a new equal pay bill into law. The act forbids employer retaliation for sharing wage and compensation information between employees. This kind of information is key to rooting out gender and racial pay discrimination, and relieving the fear of retaliation is a step forward. Yay for New Jersey!

'Side by Side' on PBS: Digital vs Film

Alyssa Rosenberg over at ThinkProgress has a nice write-up on a PBS documentary I'm going to check out called Side by Side. It compares the merits of film vs digital photography, the strengths and weaknesses of each. Very interesting!

I've always shot on digital because I didn't go to a proper film school, and all we had were little handy cams available. It certainly made learning how to shoot and edit much easier and simpler than had I worked with film, but of course the product wasn't as great (though, to be honest, are any film school products that great?). As a viewer, though, there's such a beauty in 35mm that (at least as of yet) cannot be achieved with digital, and similarly, there is an ease and flexibility with digital that cannot be achieved in film.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Poodle Snuggletime

This is how I feel on a perfect day.

And it is also what I want to do one a not-so-perfect day.

[via A Place to Love Dogs]

Happy Ending for another "Happy Endings" Star!

Eliza Coupe snapped up the recurring role of Will Arnet's ex-wife in his new sitcom, The Millers. We should approach this news with caution, since unfortunately Will Arnet has not had the best of luck with his last couple of sitcoms (Running Wilde and Up All Night were both fairly well-reviewed but never really caught on), but maybe third time's a charm? Either way, I'm happy that I'll get to see Eliza on TV again this fall, along with other awesome Happy Endings like Damon Wayans, Jr. and Adam Pally! It's almost (... actually not at all) as good as having Happy Endings on the air...

Bob Peterson off "The Good Dinosaur"

Bob Peterson has been taken off as director of The Good Dinosaur. No replacement has been made yet. Pixar has replaced directors in the past (most controversially Brenda Chapman from Brave, possibly leading to the addition of a bunch of unnecessary, goofy humor that didn't really fit in with the mother-daughter story... though we'll never know whose idea it was to - spoiler alert - turn the mom into a bear, which was really the part of the story that took away from the strength it had in the first act). In one instance, this worked really well - when Brad Bird took over for Ratatouille and made it a truly beautiful, heartfelt, original movie. Of course, it very well may have been just as wonderful had it been with the original director, but Bird certainly produced a great product. In other instances, it certainly hasn't turned out bad, and probably was for the best (it's really impossible to know).

Honestly, The Good Dinosaur is not the Pixar film I'm looking forward to most (that would be Inside Out, although the untitled Day of the Dead movie is a close second), so I really don't think it'll be that big of a deal. That being said, it always sucks to get replaced. It's a lot easier when they bring in a co-director to help out instead of full-on replacing (like Jennifer Lee is doing with Frozen, although that movie may have issues even she can't fix - goofy snowman and dog-like reindeer-sized issues). But it seems like here he's getting fully taken off the project, leaving co-director Peter Sohn to stand in until the Brain Trust finds a replacement (or maybe they'll just let Peter finish it up). I mean, it does premiere in less than a year after all!

Bob obviously knows how to make a great movie, as evidenced by his work co-directing Up. So here's hoping he's off working on something else great, and that the break was at least somewhat mutual. And, of course, let's hope that The Good Dinosaur is as brilliant and original as every Pixar film should be.

Go, Go Power Rangers!

The original American Power Rangers recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. That's a little sad for everyone who grew up watching it and wants to pretend they're not an adult yet. It also marks the 20th anniversary of my first crush, on the oh-so-swoon-worthy Red Ranger, Jason. I agree now, looking back, that he may not have been quite as swoon-worthy as I once believed, but when he left the show, I cried for hours. I remember staring out my bedroom window and realizing that life would never be the same. There were things in this world that I couldn't change. There are people in your life that will leave and never return. It was a profound moment. Thank you for that, original Power Rangers. Might you morph forever on in our millenial memories.

Curious about the best new comedies this fall?

Here's what HuffPo TV and other critics think:

Not sure I agree with everything (especially the faster list at the end), but good to know what there is to look forward to! Brooklyn 9-9 definitely has potential. I wasn't as fond of the trailer for Enlisted, but mainly because I think the last thing we need is a sitcom starring three straight, white men and the Italian jokes fell flat. I do really like those actors, though, so I'm sure it's got potential. We'll see!

Natalie Dormer in "Mockingjay"!

Natalie Dormer can do no wrong (or at least has not yet done wrong) in my eyes. She's been so amazing as Maergery Tyrell on Game of Thrones and as Irene Adler on Sherlock and also lots of other things. She's going to totally rock as Cressida in Mockingjay. Mockingjay was by far the craziest of the Hunger Games books, but I'm sure she can pull it off. Go Natalie!

New Tina Fey Series on Fox!

Ok, well it's not starring Tina Fey (at least not yet), and it's also not written by her, and it's not going to be on Fox until next fall, but it is being executive-produced by her and will be about a women's college that recently began accepting male students - still very exciting news! Another Fey comedy, written by Colleen McGuiness, was bought by NBC earlier this month, and is about a workplace comedy about a woman rediscovering her family on Fire Island (I don't get it, either, but I bet it's awesome).

Save the New Amsterdam Market!

One of my favorite things about living in lower Manhattan (in addition to the many, many subway stops) is the New Amsterdam market. Usually held on Sundays from May to December, it's the best place in New York to pick up local ingredients, produce, and delicious, delicious meals, snacks, and desserts. For years now, Sunday has been my husband and my's favorite day of the week - heading down to the market for a great breakfast or lunch, grabbing fun new or old favorite provisions for the week, and then wandering around the weird little side streets around the South Street Seaport. Unfortunately, the Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC) is threatening to end all of it. They want to bulldoze the whole seaport and replace it with condos, hotels, and even more retail shopping (like the already gross Pier 17 mall and strip of now-abandoned-thanks-to-Sandy Abercrombie and Fitch and the likes). There's hope that the new mayor will put a stop to the development, since it needs to rezone the entire area before it buys up all the land, but candidate Christine Quinn (who said she supported the market) voted for the rezoning back in March. Lame. Honestly, I can't imagine who would be idiotic enough to put up hotels and condos in an area that was devastated by a hurricane less than a year ago, but that's neither here nor there. What is here and also there is a great article about this whole mess over at Serious Eats. It's a medium-sized read and well worth it. And in the meantime, I'm going to make sure I hit up all the now-monthly (because of the uncertainty, I think) market this fall.

Go See "In A World"!

The Spectacular Now is pretty heavy, so if you're in the mood for something lighter, check out In A World. The concept is weirdly original (for a movie about the film industry), a voice-over legend's daughter also works in voice-over, and tries to find success in the industry, very much without her father's support. Here's the trailer:

Doesn't it look like so much fun? Spoiler alert: it IS so much fun!

There are several things I love about this movie. It has a slow comedic burn, letting you adjust to the setting and characters before the jokes and set pieces really start rolling in. The secondary characters are all super unique and weird and funny in a way that's unique and fun. The relationship that the main character and her sister have is so supportive and great. It feels very real and positive. The B-plot with the sister and her husband is really well-done, too, which is a relief because it could have been a mess. The main character is really fun - she's weird not "quirky", she has strong goals, she makes strong choices (even if they're done in a subtle way), and she feels real. I get her. The dad and the voice-over rival are both delightfully douche-y without being contemptible. Overall, great writing, acting, direction, and most importantly (for a comedy), it's funny with a great story! So go see it!

Oh, and if anyone else picks up on the director of the Amazonian movie also being the Irish guy in the hotel but there never being a payoff for noticing that, let me know what you think. I'm not sure if it's just a funny coincidence that's never brought up intentionally, or if there was a payoff that got cut. Interesting!

Go See "The Spectacular Now"!

It's August, which means all the good indie movies that are itching for a "Best Original/Adapted Screenplay" Oscar are out! I'm sure most years there are a great crop of them, but for whatever reason I'm really responding well to this one's. So first, go check out The Spectacular Now. I'd say it was from the guys who wrote 500 Days of Summer, but I didn't really like that movie (I thought the structure was super interesting, the musical post-sex scene was of course a delight, but the story and characters were lacking). I'd say it's adapted from a great novel, but I haven't read it and the reviews actually make it seem like the movie is better... So I'll just say go see it because it's great. I'm not posing the trailer because it makes the film seem like a comedy, when it is very much not a comedy.

What I loved most about it was that at every turn, instead of taking the dramatic movie choice, it took the real-world-consequences choice. While they may seem like the stakes were lower, they actually felt higher because I could see it really happening. I've had friends like these characters, had moments where I felt like them, where I've made similar decisions, suffered similar defeats and aches. That was so refreshing. I also appreciated that it was a teen movie where all the teens weren't inexplicably rich. I loved that the characters felt three-dimensional. I wish Shailene Woodley's character had a bit more screentime, or maybe a few scenes without Miles Teller's character, because I felt she was so rich and wanted to know more about her. Also, it has probably the most realistic virginity-losing sex scenes of all time. For serious. Overall, everything was excellent - writing, action, direction, story in general.

So go see it already!

SNL hires

Unfortunately, I don't mean Saturnalia in high-resolution, but Saturday Night Live hired some new people. Check them out over at Splitsider.

Judd Apatow Producing Amy Schumer Script

I love Inside Amy Schumer. It's super funny (The selfies-photoshoot sketch! The women-killing-themsevles-over-not-taking-compliments sketch!). I hope that the feature she wrote and will star in that Judd Apatow picked up is just as awesome, or maybe even more awesome! I'm sure she's really excited for the opportunity. Hooray for Amy!


'Bunheads' Goodbye Dance

This summer I've watched a lot of So You Think You Can Dance because it is one of the few reality shows where I feel like I actually learn something watching it and it's culturally enriching (where do you see contemporary dance routines on a regular basis? Or fox trots? Or Venetian waltzes?). So when Amy Sherman-Palladino released this goodbye dance for Bunheads it reminded me that that was also a show with good dance (and some really fun characters!), and I'm sad that it's not coming back.

[via Videogum]

Your Cover's Blown - Belle & Sebastian Video

I'm really digging this new Belle & Sebastian video for "Your Cover's Blown" - not only does it star Game of Thrones' Gilly (Hannah Murray), but it addresses the en-cute-and-old-timey-ification of women right now in a weird, playful way.

[via Stereogum]

YA Novel to Movie Alert: 'Divergent' Trailer

After I heard it was going to be a movie, I read Divergent (and its sequel) to see what the fuss was about. It's an easy read, and an interesting (if pretty unbelievable) concept. The characters are certainly fun and the plot moves along well. It's no Hunger Games, but I like Shailene Woodley and, of course, Kate Winslet, so I'll give it a shot.

Get More: 
2013 VMA, Artists.MTV, Music

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Try to Be Kinder

George Saunders, of incredible short story fame, wrote an incredible short graduation speech. It makes me want to be a better person in an entirely achievable way (which makes me think I can really do it), and I think it will make you feel that way (and really do it), too.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Why Does Everyone Have a Woman Problem?

No idea why, but The Hairpin has a great list here. So many problems! Also, I should clarify in most cases they mean a "woman problem" not a "woman's problem" which some might take to mean like, a period or something.