Monthly Archives: February 2011

Razzies recap 2010

 

Worst Picture:

 

The Bounty Hunter

The Last Air Bender (winner)

Sex and the City 2

Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Vampires Suck

 

Who should have won: The Last Airbender

 

Worst Actor:

 

Jack Black

Gerald Butler

Ashton Kutcher (winner)

Taylor Launtner

Robert Pattinson

 

Who should have won: As deserving as Mr. Kutcher is, this is a result of Twilight fans flooding the forums after the nominees were announced thus splitting the votes between their respective camps. It was a major snub for Mr. Butler.

 

Worst Actress:

 

Jennifer Anniston

Miley Cyrus

“The four gal pals” of “Sex and the City 2” (winner)

Meghan Fox

Kristen Stewart

 

Who should have won: I have no qualms with the winners, but they basically won because (like the previous category) the Twilight fans flooded the forums after the noms were announced to protect their precious heroine.

 

Worst Supporting Actor:

 

Billy Ray Cyrus

George Lopez

Dev Patel

Jackson Rathbone

Rob Schneider

 

Who should have won: Jackson Rathbone

 

Worst Supporting Actress:

 

Jessica Alba (winner)

Cher

Liza Minelli

Nicola Peltz

Barbara Streisand

 

Who should have won: Ms. Alba may have the most movies on her docket (four), but the award should have gone to Cher .

 

Most Eye-Gouging MIS-use of 3D:

 

Cats & Dogs 2: The Revenge of Kitty Galore

Clash of the Titans

The Last Air Bender (winner)

The Nutcracker 3D

Saw 3-D

 

Who should have won: The Last Airbender

 

Worst Screen Couple\Worst Screen Ensemble:

 

Jennifer Anniston and Gerald Butler

Josh Brolan’s face and Megan Fox’s accent

The ENTIRE CAST of The Last Airbender

The entire case of Sex and the City 2 (winner)

The entire cast of Twilight Saga: Eclipse

 

Who should have won: The cast of Grown-Ups: Kevin James, Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider and David Spade. I have no idea why they were left out of the category they helped create – especially since (judging from forum response) they probably would have won in a landslide.

 

Worst Director:

 

Jason Friedman and Aaron Seltzer

Michael Patrick King

M. Night Shyamalan (winner)

David Slade

Sylvester Stallone

 

Who should have won: M. Night Shyamalan

 

Worst Screenplay:

 

Categories: entertainment, movies | Leave a comment

How skyscrapers can save the city, but flawed arguments can't

The latest issue of The Atlantic (February 2011) has a lengthy article asking the question: “Can skyscrapers save the city?” (by Edward Glaeser). Yes, this is the classic density vs. sprawl debate of New Urbanism, but its flawed arguments aren’t likely to win any converts.

 

The piece starts with a serviceable history of skyscrapers beginning with the ancient Babyloniansthrough it’s heyday in the early 20th century to a look at possible heights for future buildings. He even briefly discusses the discontents and their fears of tall buildings “blocking out their sunlight” (his advice: give them “a set amount of money” and tell them to move elsewhere). He rails against height restrictions and the government agencies appointed to control such matters (the same ones who are supposed to set the bribe amount from the neighborhood NIMBYs).

 

The main problem with Mr. Glaeser’s arguments is that rest on the assumption that people and businesses will rush into the building into the building as soon as it is completed begging for leases. Building a skyscraper is one thing, leasing it is quite another – especially in a bad economy. Without renters their building sits empty, and everyone’s time has just been wasted as the building disintegrates in foreclosure.

 

Not only that, but no matter how slick the ad is, no fancy building can realistically hope to compete with the idea of a owning a home with a white picket fence with a husband, wife, 2.5 kids and a dog in some people’s minds. This confounds urbanites, but some people actually like suburbia. It may be soul crushingly banal, but it gives them a sense of safety for their family.

 

The author and I agree that not every “historic” building can (or “should” be saved), but he seems to think we should raze every building under two stories to make room for the next mega-structure. There are companies out there that specialize in renovating older buildings for more modern uses, but sometimes progress is more important than forcing an expensive, tax-payer funded restoration of a vaguely significant (and boarded up) venue that may or may not be able to draw the very high paying tenants they were trying to attract in the first place.

 

We also agree that more options for housing are a good thing (as it forces rents to go down), but developers generally aren’t building fancy condos for low-income buyers. Sorry, the whole egalitarian concept of “rich people living alongside poor” is just a feel-good marketing sham. Contrary to Mr. Glaeser’s point, no matter how many spacious skyscrapers India builds the vast majority of people in Mumbai will still live in overcrowded slums (though you could probably use your bride money to buy a condo there and get your old job back!).

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for Smart Growth, Transit Oriented Development, increased pedestrian safety, and even a few tall buildings, but unlike Mr. Glaeser, I don’t think skyscrapers are the only answer for what ails our cities.

Categories: editorials, news | Leave a comment

Museum review National Museum of Dentistry

Its been a while since I've written one of these, so I hope I'm too out of practice.

The first thing I noticed upon entering the permanent exhibit “32Terrific Teeth” at the National Museum of Dentistry in Baltimore is that it reminded me of Disney’s Hall of Presidents with its bright blue walls and royal blue carpets.

 

Than I got to look at the exhibit itself: one wall was a collection of celebrity smiles (including: Whoopi Goldberg, Will Ferrell and Barack Obama), and a few busts of cosmetic dentistry procedures from around the world such as teeth filing (practiced by the Banto tribe of Congo ), teeth blackening, knocking out of teeth and installing gold crowns ( USA ). The third wall was cartoons about humans and animals with toothaches and wall text about folk and religious lore about teeth.

 

There was a case of dental toys from the 1940s and a hallway tracing the evolution of teeth from mollusks to modern problem of tooth decay. The hallway ended with a large, teal colored room divided into sections on prevention, hygiene and dental assistants (first school for dental hygienists opened in 1913) and featured a kid sized mock-up of a dentist’s office. A yellow side room had capitalistic posters for toothpaste from communist Germany , and that same color continued into the adjoining (and labyrinthine) dental history gallery which included double-sided timelines, several historic chairs and equipment collections. A spiral staircase near the back of the gallery led to the exhibit’s second level.

 

The first thing one sees at the top of the steps is a life-sized recreation of G.V Black’s 19th century office (along with a mannequin of its owner) and nearby texts describe the move the profession’s from traveling town square dentistry to main street offices. Additional wall texts describe various pain relief methods (cloves, laughing gas, etc) and other innovations in modern American dentistry concluding with a model of a modern dental office. A short hallway leads past the George Washington Gallery (which displayed a pair of the founding father’s Ivory dentures) and the “ADA theatre” – both in the same atrocious green color from downstairs (at least the theatre was dark)

 

At the end of the hallway was the museum’s newest traveling exhibit: “Your Spitting Image” which was further divided into two sections: the creepily titled “Bioengineering: Making a New You” about the role of stem cells in replacing missing or damaged teeth. It also has a wall display of how people throughout history went about replacing teeth (ancient Egyptians used gold bands, one ancient Roman used an iron filling, and the process of crowning teeth which began in 1938). There was also a computer station about DNA analysis, and a small but conspicuously empty space near the gallery’s entrance.

 

The other was creatively enough called “Forensics: Solving Mysteries” about using forensic anthropology to identify missing persons (illustrated by a real life case study) as well as disaster victims and something about bite marks to solve crimes (which just seemed out of place). They also had wall text describing historic cases of postmortem oncology such as Paul Revere identifying a man based on his silver fillings (inserted by Revere himself).

 

Exiting the temporary gallery led directly onto the balcony directly over the admissions desk and museum store and eventually coming to the “spitting” part of their traveling exhibition’s name – a small room dedicated to the digestive power of saliva. Yes, it’s as exciting as it sounds, and right next door were the stairs to the lobby.

 

At the bottom of the steps next to the saliva room was the other special exhibit – “Open Wide: Toothy Toys that Make Us Smile.” It consisted of five relatively small cases, but seemed bigger with the three oversized comic book covers that dominated the tall walls of the atrium.

 

There were actually quite a few different toys in said cases, even if they were all basically variations on the same theme (toothbrushes, electric toothbrushes, toothbrush holders, etc). They had licensed products from: Snoopy, Barney the Dinosaur, Star Wars, Spongebob Squarepants and, yes, even Chuck Norris gets into the grime fighting action!

 

They also had a case with various dental themed games: Toothache (a clone of Operation), the Dennis the Menace Dental Play-set (1960s), and an early handheld game called Plaque Attack! (1983). Of course, America ’s favorite career hopper – Dentist Barbie – was also on hand (in both Black and Caucasian versions!).

 

I briefly considered a walk through their gift shop, but I had already spent 2 hours in the museum and that was more than enough.

Categories: attractions, Baltimore | Leave a comment

Five reasons to read The Baltimore Guardian

I've been writing stories for a website called The Baltimore Guardian for just over a month now. As of yesterday, they posted my fifth story to date.

February 01 – Theatre review: Shooting Star

February 01 – Theatre review: The Homecoming

February 04 – IMAX  film festival

February 09 – Art reviews: Beasts on Parchment and Zombie Nation

February 11 – Theatre review: The Trial of the Catonsville Nine

Categories: Baltimore Guardian, news, writing | Leave a comment

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