First of all, that isn’t true. I just watched The Simpsons on Hulu. But after that delightful nonsense, I headed to school.

The Khan Academy is a series of over one thousand videos (and growing) teaching subjects ranging from calculus

Whoa! Too complicated. REWIND! Read the rest of this entry »

I’m ashamed to admit it, but I recently watched the Lifetime “Pregnancy Pact” movie. I’m not going to try to pin the blame on anyone else (though I should probably blame our commenter Kerry, who covered the real story extensively at bostonist); I watched the movie because I wanted to see what happened to Thora Birch.

If you asked me years ago, I would have bet that Thora Birch would have become a major actress. There’s nothing delicate about her performance in “American Beauty,” a role that doesn’t require her to leave the archetype of sallow, disaffected teen, but her performance in “Ghost World,” showed an actress of real complexity. She easily could have fallen into the trap of reiterating her character from “American Beauty,” but instead she added nuance and charm to Enid. You can see it in her mannerisms; she carries Enid with what can only be described as an awkward strength. It’s a very physical performance, even as it’s mostly static; Enid is often still or stilted, turning the frame into a comic book panel.

But then she disappeared into a glut of Lifetime and low-rent horror movies (these are arguably the same thing). And when Ellen Page burst on the scene, Thora Birch became the former Ellen Page.

So too, it seems, did Claire Danes. In a profile this weekend, the New York Times referred to Danes as “the Ellen Page of the 90s” given her clear on-screen intelligence. This intelligence became blunted by a series of roles that saw her as nothing more than love interest.

“For quite a while I was bemoaning the fact that I kept playing people who fell in love,” Ms. Danes said. “That was their primary job and experience, to become gaga over a man. It was just starting to feel routine.”

The Times goes on to mention “Shopgirl,” where it’s more correct to say that she is the object of affection rather than the emotional one. Still, the point is taken: in “Shopgirl,” our proto-Ellen Page hardly had to stretch herself.

Are there only two emotions for women on screen: to be scared, and to be in love? Read the rest of this entry »

While stalking some of my favorite academics on the internet today I stumbled upon an interesting network of blogs.  The flagship site appears to be the Campaign for the American Reader, though I originally arrived there through one dedicated to authors discussing what they’ve been reading recently. There is a lot that could be said about a community that advocates reading and seeks fellowship on the internet, usually thought to be a medium at odds with the written word. I’ll leave it up to those more ensconced in cultural and media studies to do the heavy lifting on that one.

Two of the websites linked to this community are devoted to a game I only recently learned about. You open a book to a certain page (one version has it as page 69, the other as page 99) and you simply read. I’ve seen this go around Facebook as well, the idea being that you post whatever you find on that page as your status for the day. Page 99 is apparently inspired by the following quote which graces its masthead: “Open the book to page ninety-nine and read, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you.” –Ford Madox Ford

Try reaching for the book nearest you.  Not the coolest one or the most interesting, but whatever is physically closest.  Open to 69 or 99 and read.  If you’re so inclined, share with us what you found.  What I ended up with was rather pleasant and quite fitting, but I won’t share its contents in public because it’s of a sensitive nature.  But please, let us know what you find and if if “the whole” is in fact “revealed to you.”