Ain’t so smart

Posted in Whatever Else on October 30th, 2007 by bill

Marilyn v. Savant has the biggest brain on the planet and likes to sit on motorcycles.

It's a happy day for me when I can catch Marilyn vos Savant, supposedly the world's smartest woman, in an error. For those not familiar with the suspiciously named Ms. vos S., she — according to her Web site — "was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for five years under 'Highest IQ' for both childhood and adult scores" and "has since been inducted into the Guinness Hall of Fame." She also publishes a weekly column in Parade magazine, where she shares stimulating brain-teasers and smarty-pants opinions on all sorts of random subjects. Well, I hate to gloat, but I've found a case where Marilyn got one wrong. In a recent column, she printed the following question (note the clever Three's Company reference):
Jack, Janet and Chrissy meet at their corner coffeehouse and buy half a dozen doughnuts. Each friend always tells the truth or always lies. Jack says that he got one doughnut, but Janet says that Jack got two, and Chrissy says that Jack got more than three. On the other hand, all three friends agree that Janet got two. Assuming that each friend got at least one and that no doughnut was cut and divided, how many doughnuts did each friend get?
Marilyn's answer was as follows:
Chrissy must be a liar because she said that Jack got four or more doughnuts and that Janet got two, which left none for herself. As Chrissy is a liar, Jack and Janet must be liars too, because all three friends agreed about Janet. As all three friends are liars, Jack must have gotten three doughnuts. (Jack lied when he said he got one; Janet lied when she said Jack got two; and Chrissy lied when she said Jack got more than three.) Janet must have gotten one doughnut. (All three friends lied when they said she got two. If she got three, none would be left for Chrissy.) Which means Chrissy got the two remaining doughnuts.
Can you spot the error? That's right — the correct answer is: Who gives a fuck?

Seen on 2nd Avenue this morning

Posted in Whatever Else on October 26th, 2007 by bill
Outside Dewey Academy, where all the tough kids go:

A gangsta-looking kid in dreadlocks, walking down the street, openly and flagrantly...flossing.


Movie title du jour

Posted in Moving pictures on October 22nd, 2007 by bill
Today's title is for a comedy set in the world of higher learning — maybe Harvard, or maybe Yale, which as the alma mater of George W. Bush is an easy target. It features the madcap hijinks of a couple of unsuccessful standup comedians who, for reasons yet undetermined, are on the run from the mob. While hiding out on a college campus, they are mistaken for visiting professors and zany hilarity ensues. The title: "Academia Nuts."

Not everything is illuminated

Posted in Moving pictures on October 11th, 2007 by bill
I work very hard to be judicious with the vast power conferred upon me by this blog. This means, as much as possible, keeping to the positive, focusing on the good things in life and in culture. But every once in a while I feel obligated to warn you, the innocent and delicate public at large, away from something particularly pernicious. For instance, you may have read Jonathan Safran Foer's novel Everything Is Illuminated and be asking yourself, why don't I go ahead and see the movie as well, just for curiosity's sake? Or conversely, you may be thinking you can save yourself the trouble of reading it by the age-old subterfuge of watching the film instead. I'm here to tell you that in either case, you are making a tragic error. Leadfoot and I both recently read the book and figured we would further stimulate our intellects with Liev Schreiber's cinematic adaptation starring Elijah Wood. In a word: Ugh. I tried, really tried to give this film a break — partly because I hate to be one of those snooty people who always want to tell you how much better the book was, and partly because I'm a fan of Schreiber's acting work. Certainly I was fully forewarned that it would be very different from the book; there was no way Safran Foer's use of multiple voices and novelistic flights of fancy could be rendered visually. But even taken on its own terms, the movie is dreadful (I hesitate to call it Everything Is Illuminated; it doesn't deserve to be called that — maybe "Everything Is Clunky and Unconvincing" would be better.) This is some kind of perfect storm of bad movie adaptations: They take the title, the names of the characters, and one of the plotlines, throw it up onscreen with a few Holocaust references and a character's death that seems totally gratuitous in this context, and call it a day. If I were JSF, I would sue everyone involved in this disaster. I'm sure he got well paid and all, but it must be mortifying as a writer to have your work so heinously misrepresented. Not only do you have people all over the world mistakenly thinking that the dreck they just sat through is the same as what you wrote, but suddenly the most common edition of your book is one with an image from the movie on the cover. Could any amount of money be worth that? Well, probably. If anyone's interested in buying this blog entry and adapting it as anything at all, please write a number on a napkin and mail it to my representatives at the Tainted Lake Agency, Oakland, CA. We'll sit down over the Thanksgiving holiday, toss back a few Manhattans, and talk turkey. In the meantime, best avoid any movies purporting to be based on novels, just to be on the safe side. That means The Kite Runner is out, and also the new Coen brothers movie. Too bad, but how can I help you if you don't do as I say?

Paranoid android? Maybe. Maybe not.

Posted in Dancing about architecture on October 2nd, 2007 by bill
radiohead.bmp Note to Radiohead: Stay off the streets.

All the music biz talk these days is about Radiohead, how they've broken free of the industry by selling their new album without the help (or is it, now, burden?) of a record company. And good for them. Their approach is extremely smart: by letting people name their own price, they look groovy and egalitarian. By offering a deluxe $80 version for the hardcore fans, they guarantee that they'll still make tons of money. And by cutting the jackals of the Long Plastic Hallway out of the loop, they get to keep all the lucre for themselves. But if I was Thom Yorke and company, I would be watching my back. I wouldn't walk the streets without protection, and I'd get the corner table in the restaurant and sit facing the door. Don't forget that the record industry and the mob are, for all intents and purposes, one and the same. Am I saying that goons hired by, say, the RIAA will try to make an example of Radiohead? Only in my most paranoid delusions would I think that. But your most paranoid delusions sometimes turn out to be right. It won't look like assassination, of'll be an "obsessed fan," or maybe mysterious overdoses...anyway, I hope I'm wrong. But, seriously, Radiohead, be careful out there.