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Oscar Minutes: 2011

Monday, February 28, 2011


Oscar has come and gone my friends. The time of predictions is long past, the winners are here. It was an average show, if I do say so myself, but more on that later. Did you miss the broadcast? Have no fear, Seb is here, with his annual Oscar Minutes. With the recent inclusion of twitter in my life, I now have a much easier way to jot down all this crap. So, without further ado, let's recap. 

Here we go! Red Carpet boredom for the next 30 minutes... yawn...

7:37 - Could ScarJo be prettier?? Well, if she lost that awful doo, maybe.

7:39 - Some kid from MODERN FAMILY talks about the Governor's Ball... I don't like pre-show stuff. It sucks.

7:41 - Warren and Annette get interviewed. Must ask dorm mate what they are like in real life.

7:43 - Anne Hathaway arrives, looking gorgeous, if a little scary. She'll be a good host, methinks.

7:44 - The envelopes walk up the red carpet, carried by the two most guarded men in the world right now.

7:48 - Anne is still there, still looking fine and a little scary. I have to imagine she's a little cold. I mean, it was snowing in LA, yes?

7:50 - Markey Mark is sporting some serious scruff.

7:53 - Reese Witherspoon has amnesia about when she won. She's probably had too much to drink from that bar.

7:54 - RDJ is hilarious as always.

God damn, we are so close. Enough with these Red Carpet pleasantries. Let's get the blood flowing up in this piece!

30 Minutes to go: Jennifer Hudson is looking great.

8:01 - Natalie Portman arrives in purple, sporting a baby bump. She is simply radiant. She is going home with a statue.

8:03 - James Franco is SO! COOL! He is almost too laid back.

8:05 - Justin Timberlake finally reaches the interviewer. He should have been nominated! THERE IS NO JUSTICE!!!

8:06 - TO HELL WITH SANDRA BULLOCK. And what's with the botox woman?

8:08 - Oh, Ben Lyons. You deserve so much better than you get.

8:08 - Oh, sorry, not Ben Lyons. Ben Mankewicz (sp???)

8:12 - Nicole Kidman is looking nice tonight. I always forget that she's Australian.

8:13 - Gwyneth Paltrow shows up. Ya think she'll sing something? Yup! Her song from "Country Strong". She should do a duet with Jay-Z.

8:14 - Christian Bale has an awesome beard and has gained all the weight back. That man is something else.

8:16 - Oscar Fashion Expert (forget his name) lists off the best dresses of the evening.

8:21 - about five minutes to go. We have moved inside, with Wolverine. He's supa cool!

8:23 - A montage of favorite acceptance speeches.

8:24 - Halle Berry, will you ever do another good movie again in your life? Please do. I miss the talented you.

8:25 - We are so close! COME ON!!!!

8:26 - Tom Hanks will be presenting the first award. Silent impressionistic painting? What? What is he saying?

8:30 - Now the fun begins. Here we go!

8:30 - Montage of Best Picture Nominees!

8:33 - Franco and Hathaway insert themselves into Best Picture Noms, with some help from Alec Baldwin. GENIUS!!!! This is great!

8:34 - Morgan Freeman narrates this! SO BRILLIANT!! Anne hits on Bertie, and then they both leotard up and dance the BROWN DUCK.

8:36 - Alec Baldwin's dream is a dream inside two other dreams. These three are great together.

8:36 - Ok, BACK TO THE FUTURE!!! Not bad at all!

8:37 - Why does Franco have an iPhone? They are delightfully awkward!

8:38 - Appealing to a younger demographic is great. Sorry Anne. Getting naked doesn't get you nominated.

8:40 - Anne's mom is still telling her to sit up straight. Franco's grandmother just saw Marky Mark. Lovestruck old people!

8:41 - We are looking back on enduring films from a long time ago. Why?

8:42 - Tom Hanks has nothing to do with GONE WITH THE WIND.

8:44 - ART DIRECTION. And it goes to... ALICE IN WONDERLAND. What? NOOO!!!

ART DIRECTION: Oh, stop faltering. Alright speech. Let the damn woman talk already. Come on.

8:46 - CINEMATOGRAPHY. And the Oscar goes to... INCEPTION!!! Good speech. Slightly self deprecating, and pays enough tribute to Nolan. Good!

8:51 - Franco seems kinda wooden. Kirk Douglas, cane and everything. What a pimp!

8:52 - I can't understand what Douglas is saying, but I get that he is hitting hard on Hathaway! WHAT A PIMP!!!!

8:57 - BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS! Douglas is hilarious right now! And the Oscar goes to... MELISSA LEO. Saw that coming! She bows to Douglas.

8:58 - Good speech. Stop saying "REAL." Lot of emotion right now. AND SHE'S BLEEPED!!! OH MY GOD!!!! That's what's up!

9:01 - Franco is clearly off put by that. Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake are introduced. Timberlake is Banksy. Mila's not having it.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT! And the Oscar goes to... THE LOST THING. Never seen it. Alright then. Good for them. Nice witty speech.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE! And the Oscar goes to... TOY STORY 3!!! What a surprise! Average speech. Steve Jobs created Pixar? WHAT?

9:12 - These journeys into the past are fairly pointless.

9:13 - Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem are introduced to present the Screenplay Awards.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY!!! And the Oscar goes to... Aaron Sorkin for THE SOCIAL NETWORK. HELL YEAH!!!!! Man, he is cultured! Good speech!

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY!!! And the Oscar goes to... David Seidler for THE KINGS SPEECH!!!! SCREW THAT!!!!! Oh well! Good speech! Very dry!

9:23 - Anne Hathaway sings a bastardized version of "On My Own" with not so subtle jabs at Hugh Jackman. Kind of awesome!

9:25 - Franco comes out in drag. Makes a Charlie Sheen joke. The night looking up.

9:26 - Russell Brand and Helen Mirren come out and speak different languages. Mirren makes stabs at Firth. Brand is so good!

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM!! And the Oscar goes to... IN A BETTER WORLD from Denmark. Didn't see that coming. Emotional speech. Thick accent

9:31 - Reese Witherspoon BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR!!! And the Oscar goes to... CHRISTIAN BALE! FINALLY!!! Great speech; good call out to Dicky!

9:38 - President of the Academy and the President of ABC come out and suck each other's dicks in honor of their "renewing of their vows."

9:39 - High Jackman and Nicole Kidman. They say things about sound and show scenes of Chaplin, Astaire, and the THX thing. STAR WARS THEME!

9:41 - Oscar Orchestra has chops!

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE!!! And the Oscar goes to... Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for THE SOCIAL NETWORK!!!! THERE IS JUSTICE IN THE WORLD!!!

9:45 - Reznor cleans up nice. Nice humble speech from both of them.

9:45 - Franco is six degrees of Kevin Bacon away from introducing ScarJo and Matthew Can't-Spell-His-Last-Name.

BEST SOUND MIXING!!! And the Oscar goes to... INCEPTION! No surprise there! Blockbusters always win here! Fine speech. Not bad, but not good

BEST SOUND EDITING!! And the Oscar goes to... INCEPTION!!! This is boring. Fine, quick speech.

9:53 - Franco and Hathaway welcome Marisa Tomei. She talks about the Scientific and Technical Awards.

9:55 - Franco and Hathaway welcome Cate Blanchett. LORD OF THE RINGS MUSIC!!! YEAHHHH!!! Talking about makeup and costume design.

BEST MAKEUP!!! And the Oscar goes to... THE WOLFMAN!!! Movie sucked, but the makeup was pretty solid! Alright speech!

BEST COSTUME DESIGN!!! And the Oscar goes too... ALICE IN WONDERLAND!!! Oh well. Man, that was a wooden speech!

10:02 - Obama comes on and says his favorite movie song of all time.

10:03 - Kevin Spacey sings! He introduces the first Original Song, "We Belong Together" from Toy Story 3. I can't hear Andy Newman!

10:04 - "I See the Light" from Tangled. Mandy Moore has some good pipes.

10:11 - Franco welcomes Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal. They talk about shorts.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT!!! And the Oscar goes to... STRANGERS NO MORE!!! Good, guilt-tripping speech!

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT!!! And the Oscar goes to... GOD OF LOVE!!! That man has AWESOME hair!! Wonderfully awkward speech!

10:17 - Franco gives a introduction to the Movie Musical of the Year... an auto-tuned version of Harry Potter, Toy Story, Social Network etc

10:19 - Hathaway and Franco introduce Oprah! She talks about how the movies are about escapism, and then presents DOCUMENTARY.

BEST DOCUMENTARY!!! And the Oscar goes to... INSIDE JOB!! Well, it's topical after all. Wish GASLAND won, though. Let's put the CFOs in jail

10:26 - Hathaway introduces Billy Crystal. He gets a well deserved standing ovation! He talks about the first televised Oscars and Bob Hope.

10:30 - Bob Hope introduces RDJ and Jude Law for Visual Effects. RDJ is snarky as hell!

10:31 - RDJ's and Jude Law's bickering is sooooooooo good! SHERLOCK HOLMES 2 can't comes soon enough!

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS!!! And the Oscar goes to... INCEPTION!!! Fucking hallways! Yeah! How do they work?!!! Good speech!

BEST FILM EDITING!!!! And the Oscar goes to... THE SOCIAL NETWORK!!! Alright. Bummed about BLACK SWAN, but, w/e. Nice bromance moment there!

10:40 - Franco is offended by some of the movie titles. HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON!! HA! Next Original Songs. Enter Jennifer Hudson!

10:41 - "If I Rise" from 127 Hours with Florence and A.R. Rahman! This song kicks all kinds of ass!

10:43 - Gwyneth Paltrow to perform her "Take Me Home" from "Country Strong". She has a killer voice!

We're almost done!

Sorry, "Coming Home" from "Country Strong"

BEST ORIGINAL SONG!!! And the Oscar goes to... Randy Newman for TOY STORY 3. Love this man's accent. Very good speech, very funny!

10:51 - Celine Dion comes on and sings "Smile" for the tribute to the people we lost this year. Beautiful.

10:55 - Halle Berry comes on and pays tribute to Lina Horn, the first black performer to sign a major contract with a studio.

Sorry, Lena Horne. My bad!

11:00 - Hathaway thanks Celine and Halle. The she introduces Hillary Swank! She talks about Directors, and then welcomes Kathryn Bigelow.

BEST DIRECTOR!!!! And the Oscar goes to... Tom Hooper! WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? Fincher was robbed! Alright speech. Still, it's insane!

11:05 - Franco introduces Annette Bening. She talks about the Governor's Awards, which honors lifetime achievements in film.

11:07 - Coppola, Wallach, and the other guy then come on stage to thunderous applause.

11:11 - Franco and Hathaway introduce Jeff Bridges for Best Actress. He's the most badass person ever!

11:13 - Bridges honors each nominee individually. Great stuff! Jennifer Lawrence can't believe her eyes.

BEST ACTRESS!!! And the Oscar goes to... @! Oh, wait, sorry. That was just my fantasy!


11:19 - Hathaway introduces Sandra Bullock to present Best Actor. She honors each nominee like Bridges. Again, good stuff.

BEST ACTOR!!! And the Oscar goes to... COLIN FIRTH!!!! Who didn't see that coming. Congrats to him, he owned that movie! Good, funny, speech

11:31 - Franco and Hathaway introduce Steven Speildberg for the Big Kahuna!!!

BEST PICTURE!!! Cue the montage!!!

BEST PICTURE!!! And the Oscar goes to... THE KING'S SPEECH!!! Oh well! Us young peoples lose out again. Good speech. Good night!

Well, there you have it. That was the night. In my opinion, this year's ceremony left a lot to be desired. Franco and Hathaway were not very good hosts, and all that this year accomplished was further proving that old people run this piece. Oh well. It's late. More in depth coverage to come. Cya later. 

Telomerase can reverse the aging process... sort of

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Biologists are, at long last, beginning to understand the molecular processes responsible for aging in complex (multicellular) organisms – and to investigate ways to counteract these processes. We discussed one line of research in this recent article about a particular sirtuin (SIRT3) that helps relieve oxidative stress that can lead to DNA damage, which generally leads, in turn, to cell senescence or death.

While oxidative stress is certainly a significant factor in aging, possibly the most significant, there are others. One of these is the limitation on a cell's ability to undergo cell division in order to produce new cells of the same type. This is especially important in tissues that regularly need to regenerate, such as skin and intestinal tissue. Everyone now knows about telomeres, whose main function is to constitute protective end caps on chromosomes. The limitation on number of cell divisions happens since about 100 base pairs are lost from telomeres during each cell division. When telomeres eventually become too short signals that are similar to those associated with other kinds of DNA damage shut down a cell's ability to divide further. This mechanism indirectly helps mitigate the risks of DNA damage that are present every time a cell divides – an inherently tricky process.

However, this limitation on cell division isn't acceptable during embryonic development, when an organism's cell count is doubling most rapidly. So evolution has provided an enzyme – telomerase – that can rebuild telomeres, but is most active only during embryonic development. Except, of course, in cells that have become cancerous, where the ability to divide without limit is the name of the game. We discussed telomeres and telomerase in some detail a little over a year ago in this article, so you can go there for more.

Because of the risk of cancer, it seems imprudent to reactivate telomerase for the long term within an organism, especially in long-lived animals such as humans. (In animals like mice, which live fast and die young, it's a different matter. Telomerase may remain somewhat active in mice during adulthood. (Mentioned here.)) But what if it were possible to reactivate telomerase for a relatively short period of time (compared to the whole lifespan)... might that provide an opportunity to rebuild telomeres to some extent? Even better, might that reverse, at least to some extent, the ravages of aging?

We now have some research that seems to provide a fairly unambiguous affirmative answer... in a rather special case: Telomerase reactivation reverses tissue degeneration in aged telomerase-deficient mice.

But didn't we just say that mice may retain telomerase activity throughout their lives? Yes, however it's a relatively simple matter to "knock out" the main telomerase gene in mice (Tert). When that's done the resulting strain of knock-out mice – after several generations – have shortened lifespans and a general phenotype of age-related debilities, as one would expect. (The first few generations apparently still have sufficiently long teleomeres.)

Unfortunately, that's not a good enough model, since without a Tert gene, the organism has no way to manufacture telomerase. Simply giving the knock-out mice repeated infusions of telomerase is not a good way to ensure uniform distribution of the enzyme to all of the organism's cells. What to do? The experimenters came up with a rather clever solution. Normally the way that telomerase is activated in cells is by means of an "estrogen receptor" (ER), to which a form of the hormone estrogen (17β-estradiol to be precise) can bind and enable transcription of Tert. This ER can be tweaked so that estrogen binds to it only in the presence of another chemical, 4-hydroxytamoxifen (4-OHT).

A special form of the Tert gene that includes this special ER can be "knocked-in" to the mouse germline. It then turns out that 4-OHT can be efficaciously supplied to a TERT-ER mouse (in the form of a time-release subcutaneous pellet) to turn telomerase expression on and off at the experimenter's will. With that technology in place, the researchers were then able to perform a series of experiments demonstrating, in these special mice, that a month-long burst of telomerase could actually reverse a number of the ill effects of telomerase deprivation.

The first step was to show that without 4-OHT the TERT-ER mice (after a few generations) had many of the same problems, in the same degree, as later generations of knock-out mice that lacked Tert entirely. The TERT-ER mice (all of which were male) showed no signs of telomerase activity. Tissues in highly proliferative organs such as testes, spleen, and intestines showed notable atrophy. Lifespan of TERT-ER mice was about half that of normal ("wild type") mice.

The first test to investigate the effects of telomerase reactivation by means of 4-OHT was done in vitro. Fibroblast cells from TERT-ER mice were cultured and found to be essentially senescent and not undergoing cell cycles. But when the cells were placed in media containing 4-OHT, teleomerase was reactivated, telomeres lengthened, and cell proliferation resumed.

Some TERT-ER mice were then given a 4-week treatment of 4-OHT (subcutaneous pellets). At the end of that treatment there was a marked reversal of the degeneration that has occurred in testes, spleen, liver, and intestinal tissues, as well as resumption of sperm production. Survival time of these treated mice also increased. At the same time, 4-OHT had no effects on control mice that weren't lacking in telomerase and didn't have tissue degeneration.

Noteworthy results were obtained from tests to assess nervous system condition. Proliferation of neural progenitor cells was found to resume in TERT-ER mice treated with 4-OHT. Normal numbers of mature oligodendrocytes reappeared. Lastly, high-level neurological functions were restored, as indicated by resumption of nearly normal olfactory sensitivity.

An interesting conclusion that can be drawn from the neurological results is that neural progenitor cells probably survive loss of telomeres, so that they can rebuild neural cell populations if telomeres are repaired.

The really interesting question, of course, is the extent to which these results may apply, in some form, to humans. Unfortunately, there are a number of reasons to be skeptical. For one thing, telomere shortening is only one factor, and quite possibly not the main one, in human aging. Aging can be thought of as a complex disease, like cancer, with many contributing factors. The consequences of telomere truncation are only one factor.

Further, murine biology has signficant differences from human biology. Mice are less complex organisms, with rather short lifespans. Mice seem to retain some degree of telomerase activity throughout their lives, so they are not as well adapted to going for long periods without it.

It is noteworthy that evidence was not found that TERT-ER mice treated with 4-OHT became more susceptible to cancer. Still, mice don't live very long, and they are adapted to maintain active telomerase. Humans are different. If telomerase is artificially kept active for years in humans, incipient tumorigenicity could be accelerated.

Lastly, it's not necessarily easy to raise human telomerase activity levels in the first place. Although some telomerase-activating factors are known, they have not been tested extensively in humans for long periods of time, so their safety and efficacy profile is not known.

These research results are quite interesting – but they only indicate the need for much more investigation.

Jaskelioff, M., Muller, F., Paik, J., Thomas, E., Jiang, S., Adams, A., Sahin, E., Kost-Alimova, M., Protopopov, A., CadiƱanos, J., Horner, J., Maratos-Flier, E., & DePinho, R. (2010). Telomerase reactivation reverses tissue degeneration in aged telomerase-deficient mice Nature, 469 (7328), 102-106 DOI: 10.1038/nature09603

Further reading: (* = especially recommended)

* Telomerase reverses ageing process (11/28/10)

* The Curious Case of the Backwardly Aging Mouse (11/29/10)

* Partial reversal of aging achieved in mice (11/29/10)

Harvard scientists reverse the ageing process in mice – now for humans (11/28/10)

Gene reactivation reverses aging-related brain deficits in mice (11/30/10)

Age-Reversing Drugs on the Horizon? Not So Fast (11/29/10)

Telomere Tweaks Reverse Aging in Mice (11/29/10)

Alzheimers and aging advances uncovered (11/29/10)

An enzyme leads the dance of immortality and death (11/29/10)

Scientists Find Way to Partially Reverse Aging in Mice (11/29/10)

Game Plan

Here's how it's gonna work tonight. My recent activation of Twitter has given me a far easier and stress free way to jot down the Oscar minutes. Follow me throughout the night for up to date info on the show, after which I'll throw all the tweets together into one post for you reliving pleasure! See you tonight folks. It's gonna be a trip!

They Have Issues Too

Saturday, February 26, 2011


What is it about dysfunctional families that always make them to topic of a dry, ironic, witty indie comedy with darker undertones? I thought the trend bucked with Little Miss Sunshine, but, lo and behold, we have another of this devilish subgenre vying for Best Picture rights this year. The Kids Are All Right paints the whole "kooky family" thing in a new light by having both parents be gay, and layers this new idea onto strong writing and good performances. However, I do have something to say before we keep going. All you people out there who heralded this as the best thing ever, and how Annette Bening totally deserves that Oscar over everyone else, I say to you. CALM DOWN!!!!!

They have issues too...

Nic and Jules are two women, very much in love, and raising a family. Nic is the hardcore bread winner of the group, what with her position at some upscale doctor. Jules is the more carefree of the pair, always trying out new job opportunities, but never really fitting into any comfortable niche, much to the chagrin of Nic. We enter the picture well into their relationship, and it's immediately clear that it has started to go stale. Their relationship with their two kids, however, is anything but. The eldest, Joni, has just turned 18 and is college bound. The youngest, Laser, is fifteen, and convinces Joni to one day satisfy a curiosity of his. Seeing as a lesbian couple can't have kids the natural way, Nic and Jules enlisted the help of the same, anonymous sperm donor. Laser really wants to the guy, and since Joni's now 18, she can legally make the call. Enter Paul, a cool, laid back, quite possibly perpetually stoned restaurant owner and gardener. He's the sperm donor, and the sudden appearance of his two "children" on his front step makes him suddenly want a family life. So, he begins to ingratiate himself into the family, and everything seems pretty good. But, then, shit happens, things get taking to far, and soon the appearance of Paul into their lives throws Nic and Jules' relationship out of whack.

It's a good story, and does a good job with dealing with the cliches that come with this genre. All the characters feel like real people, despite their eccentricities. They are all flawed, show remorse and guilt, and get hurt in convincing ways. The script is biting, but the dialogue sometimes gets in the way of the plot. There are few scenes that seem to have been added as a way for the filmmakers to say "Look how clever we are!" But apart from a few qualms, that Best Original Screenplay nom was well deserved... though Inception still better win.

A lot of praise has been heaped on Annette Bening, and justifiably so; she's very good. As Nic, she's a veritable badass, always tough and strong in the face of her opponents, and displaying a passive aggressive nature unlike any we've seen. She's no stiff when it comes to the dramatic stuff too; Bening has always been good at that.

But all the praise that's been heaped on her should have gone elsewhere, because I honestly believe that Bening, as good as she is, the weakest of the main five. Julianne Moore is just as good as the weaker one of the pair, going through the most significant character arc of the whole thing. Mark Ruffalo is also great as the laid back Paul. A lot of his lines come off as searingly uncomfortable, but that's the way it should have been, and Ruffalo nails every single one. Josh Hutcherson, formerly a guy who started in stupid action/fantasy films geared for kids, breaks out of that mold as Laser, and does a bang up job doing it.

But the MVP of this group is, without a doubt, Mia Waskiowska as Joni. Her's was the most likable character, and the sweetest. She had the most heartfelt and honest dialogue in the whole thing and Wasikowska knocks it out of the park. She should have gotten the nom, not Bening. Oh well.

Scene Stealers!

Despite what I just said, The Kids Are All Right is a very well acted movie. Bening is being billed as the star, so all the praise goes to her. I just think it's unfair, because everyone else was more than her equal.

Writer/Director Lisa Cholodenko makes her mainstream debut here. She does a good job handling her dialogue and her actors, but the direction seems slightly stilted in some areas. I understand that this isn't a movie that required a Fincher-esque touch, but, even so. Some of her choices just seemed a tad conventional. It's her writing that really stands out, but it does step too far into the realm of overdramatic. Pretty much all plot development is relegated to a confrontation of sorts, handled in the most passive aggressive manner possible, and this grinding stone against stone approach is really uncomfortable, but not in Black Swan way. There were times when I couldn't watch.

Let me divert your hate. Don't get me wrong, The Kids Are All Right is great, crafting wonderful characters out of archetypes we already know, and providing them with some great dialogue to boot. The story is familiar, but handled in a way that seems fresh. I just think people are making too big a deal about it. I saw it, yeah. Yeah, it was good. Was it worthy of Best Picture nom? Sure, I would make that claim. Does it find it's way into my Top 10 of 2010? Not even close, because at the end of the day, enough holds it back from achieving true greatness. I left the film feeling as if I'd seen a good movie, and that's about it. I didn't feel like I'd been changed by watching; I didn't feel like I had been taken on breathtaking journey. I was just "Yeah, that was good." And, I'm sorry, but "That was good" is not enough to enter my realm of awesomeness. Kids is good, to be sure. But, come on, people. You built this up to be the next messiah or something. Temper your expectations next time, alright?

Other Sides to the Conversation: Week of February 25th

Friday, February 25, 2011

Hmmmm... what to talk about here...

Oscars on Sunday... That's cool!

Anyway, here are some things upon which you can click, which will take you to new things, upon which you can read.

Aiden really dug to the bottom of the barrel this week, reviewing, not one, but two notoriously awful movies. A man after my own heart.

Anomolous Material muses on Movie Cliches That Need To Die!

Tom had the good fortune of living in Australia, and thus has access to Tropfest, a festival of short films. Here is his favorite of the bunch.

And finally, Simon's dashboard be illing yo! Let us pray for her!

Cya tomorrow folks with a delayed review! Be excellent to each other!!!

You Have Until Sunday...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

... to vote in The Snubbies! Get out there! Let your voice be heard!

Glee Review: Blame It On the Alcohol

Those glee kids go hard, man!

So, for some reason, there's an epidemic at McKinley. It's not, as Will fears, head lice, but rather, public drunkenness. Kids are showing up intoxicated left and right, since there are now drinks out there being marketed to kids (Not so subtle Four Loko skewering FTW). Figgins, ever the righteous sword of truth that he's deluded himself into thinking he is, declares that this week is Alcohol Awareness Week, and enlists the help of the glee club to sing a song about the dangers of alcohol. Cue kids getting drunk.

Meanwhile, Rachel is hard at work composing the original song to win Regionals, but is stuck on the idea that you have to write about what you know, and apparently, the only things she knows is her head band. Her parents are out of town for the week, so Puck puts the idea of hardcore rager at the Berry house in her head. She's hesitant at first, but folds when Finn says that living a little will help her song writing. Cue people getting drunk!

In other news, Will is still trying to move past Emma, and Bieste decides to take him out to let loose. She takes him to a honky tonk bar, complete with gold-top Gibson Les Pauls, more cowboy hats that you could shake a tail feather at, and a fully stocked bar. Cue people getting drunk!

My God! There was a lot of booze consumed in this episode. Like, seriously! It was practically Skins up there, those kids were acting so crazy! I actually kind of appreciated this. Up till now, the show had painted most of the glee kids as saints (with the exception of Puck, Santana, Brittany, and Quinn), showing them behaving like good little school children. But, at the end of the day, they are teenagers, and teenagers go out and drink on the weekends. It was nice to see the club in an environment where they could act like real people, outside of the preconceived notions the show has created for them.

Apart from that, nothing really happened in this episode. We had an interesting tryst between Blaine and Rachel, which saw Blaine questioning his sexuality, but it ended up exactly where you knew it was going to from the start. Will preaches to the club about how drinking is bad, then goes out and gets plastered himself, and then lectures the club about how he learned with them. Same! Old! Song! And! Dance!

Music this week was also "meh". The show stopper came at the end with Brittany leading the club in a tantalizing rendition of Ke$ha's "Tik Tok" but that was about it. The clubs take on Jamie Foxx's "Blame It" was alright, but it was the choreography that did it; the singing was nothing special. Rachel and Blaine's drunken duet of The Human League's "Don't You Want Me" was surprisingly weak, given how strong the two of them have been in past weeks. And don't even get me started on Will and Bieste's version of Amos Milburn's "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer". That song is just all kinds of not good!

Humor wise, however, this episode was aces! The party scene at Rachel's house was HILARIOUS, and Finn's counting down of the kinds of drunks (Santana is the weepy drunk, Brittany is the stripper drunk, etc.) was great. The best moment came when Brittany, who had finally had one too many, spews all over Rachel in the middle of their number. Rachel's face on that was absolutely perfect!

Also, Figgins referring Ke$ha as "Keh Dollar Sing Ha" was excellent.

But booze fueled humor can't really save this episode, since the stories and songs aren't up to snuff. Since nothing happened in this episode, there's really nothing to speculate on. Oh well. Until next week then.

Also, Brittany wearing almost nothing? Yes please!

According to the Movies #26

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

If the movies say it, it must be true!

Every so often, we all feel that urge. You know what I'm talking about. When you get a beat in your head, your foot starts tapping, your head starts bopping, your booty starts shaking, and the lyrics just come pouring out of your mouth. Well, maybe you don't have that feeling all that often. After all, bursting into song in broad daylight, surrounded by a bunch of people who don't know you won't accomplish anything other than the receiving of dirty looks. But, if you do suddenly find the power of the music in you, let it loose. Something magical will happen. Music is a mystical thing, and impulsively bursting into song awakens this mysticism. Sing, and you will find yourself in weird and magical worlds. Take, for example, Moulin Rouge. As Christian hits the really epic part of "Your Song", he and Satine are whisked away, riding stars and dancing on clouds. In Rent, Mark and Joanne bond over their shared disdain for Maureen's ways, and suddenly find themselves in the midst of ballroom, doing a sexy tango. In Chicago, every number that Roxie, Velma, or Billy belt out transports them onto the stage, bedecked in sparkles and spazz!

The Lesson: The power of music is unbeatable thing. Let it consume you, and you will be taking on a wonderful journey. Just make sure everyone around you is cool with it, cuz otherwise it'll end up like that scene from Sweeney Todd where Johnny Depp makes a complete fool of himself in front of Helena Bonham Carter. Just sayin'...

Cinematic Captions #9

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Alright, my little demon imps. Cleverness caps on! Time to impress me!

But first, last weeks winner!

Honorable Mention: "This doesn't look like Costco, ma." (Courtesy of Castor)

We have a new addition to the board this week.


Way to be. Don't mind rape me!

The Leaderboard
Castor (3)
Simon (2)
Univarn (1)
Fletch (1)
Kai (1)

Ok, here's this week's.

Amuse me!

Trailer Trash: Apollo 18

Monday, February 21, 2011

Not much to say on this one. Looks pretty interesting, to be sure. The idea of a horror movie set on the moon is fresh one. But, I can't see this making more than the tiniest of ripples. With Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity, Diary of the Dead, and Paranormal Activity 2 coming out in recent years, the "found footage" sub-genre is getting pretty stale. Also, since it's revealed that no evidence of the supposed 18th trip to moon was ever found, we already know the ending. Way to ruin whatever surprise there might have been. Thanks guys.

Supermassive black hole in a dwarf galaxy

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Supermassive black hole in a type of galaxy where nobody expected to find one? Henize 2-10 is a small, mostly unremarkable compact dwarf galaxy. Its estimated dynamical mass is about 1010 M, only a few percent of our galaxy's mass, and its distance from us is about 30 million light years. It is irregular in shape and does not fit in any category of the standard Hubble sequence.

The only respect in which Henize 2-10 has attracted attention – for several decades – before now is an extremely high rate of star formation in comparison to its size. The rate is 10 times that of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way that is also irregular in form and has approximately the mass of Henize 2-10.

This research – An actively accreting massive black hole in the dwarf starburst galaxy Henize 2-10 – recently published Nature, now offers good evidence that at the center of Henize 2-10 is an active black hole of substantial but somewhat uncertain mass between 2×105 M and 2×107 M. That's a lot – it could exceed the mass of the Milky Way's black hole, ~4.2× 106 M.

The evidence presented that Henize 2-10 contains an actively accreting massive black hole is pretty good. It includes detection of radio emissions with a substantial non-thermal component. In other words, much of the radio emissions is due to something besides black body radiation – perhaps synchrotron radiation typical in active black hole jets. There is also a point source of high-energy X-ray emissions coming from the same location as the radio emissions. The evidence that these emissions are due to an active black hole isn't perfect. In particular, long-baseline interferometry shows gaps in the radio source, and the radio spectrum does not have the shape of a typical radio galaxy's. But consideration of other possible explanations indicates that the alternatives are rather improbable.

However, the paper concludes "the massive black hole in Henize 2-10 does not appear to be associated with a bulge, a nuclear star cluster or any other well-defined nucleus. This unusual property may reflect an early phase of black-hole growth and galaxy evolution that has not been previously observed. If so, this implies that primordial seed black holes could have pre-dated their eventual dwellings."

The authors are implying that this black hole could have existed before Henize 2-10 itself. And further, since galaxies in the very early universe (z≥7) have many similarities to Henize 2-10 (as well as certain differences), that many of these very early galaxies could also have formed around pre-existing massive black holes.

These concluding observations should, on the basis of the evidence provided, be regarded as rather speculative. There are substantial logical gaps in the reasoning.

For one thing, Henize 2-10 is pretty unusual based on its high rate of star formation. This implies an unusual and probably chaotic recent history. And so there really isn't much solid reason to think that the central black hole predated the galaxy.

How closely Henize 2-10 resembles very early galaxies is also open to question. The earliest stars, which made up the earliest galaxies, had very low metallicity and therefore tended to be much larger, brighter, and short-lived than stars forming in the present era. The assumption that galaxy evolution would be pretty similar between now and then is hard to make.

Some of the popular media accounts go even further and suggest that "most" galaxies probably formed around pre-existing black holes. Even if that were true for Henize 2-10, all that can legitimately be inferred is the possibility, not the necessity, of that circumstance in most cases.

There have been reports of the existence of supermassive black holes in galaxies without central bulges (not just irregular galaxies) – here, for example. There have even been studies of active black holes in the early universe that may have predated their galaxies, one of which I wrote about in this article: Which came first - the galaxy or the black hole?. There are also cases of fairly normal galaxies, such as M33, that seem to have at most a very small central black hole – see here.

So it's certainly a very real issue whether, at least in some cases, central black holes form before their galaxies, but the present study is just another interesting data point, not the last word on the subject.

Reines, A., Sivakoff, G., Johnson, K., & Brogan, C. (2011). An actively accreting massive black hole in the dwarf starburst galaxy Henize 2-10 Nature, 470 (7332), 66-68 DOI: 10.1038/nature09724

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