Mindless Philosophy’s 100th Post!

So here it is ladies and gentlemen, the post you have all been waiting for!  This is Mindless Philosophy’s 100th post!  Huzzah!  Break out the champagne, send in the strippers, and let us commence the debauched celebrating!

Actually this post probably won’t really be all that exciting.  When I realized number 100 was approaching I started thinking about what sort of epic post I could create to exclaim my 100th blog installment to the world.  I thought about listing 100 of my favorite things, or sharing 100 bits of my personal observations, or some other such list of 100.  As I began to really mull it over however, I realized that would be rather wordy and quite an undertaking just to come up with 100 various items and then type it all out here.  So I kept putting it off, and putting it off, until finally several weeks have gone by without any posts whatsoever!  I was forced to postpone a couple of Friday Funny Pages because I didn’t want those regular segments to be my grand 100th post.  Now however you just get this. (Cue fanfare).

To start off let’s take a look back at a few of my personal favorite posts from the 100 thus far.  These aren’t necessarily the ones that have had the most views but the ones I enjoyed writing or have a real connection to:

#3 – Updated!  Possible New Series For Babylon 5?

This particular installment does actually happen to be one of my most read blogs on the site.  I really am proud of this one because I was on the forefront of this news at the time.  Thanks to the efficiency of Google Alerts I happened upon this story rather quickly.  In my continuing mission to raise the general awareness about Babylon 5 I hurried to address the rumors and tossed in a few of my own opinions as well.  I’m usually not the type of person to be on the forefront of knowledge, generally information like this goes through several filters before it comes to me.  I’m pretty sure my post here actually was a primary source for a few people, and I’m kind of proud of that.  Sadly however the rumors were false, and the hopeful talk of a new B5 series was swiftly squashed which necessitated this follow up article:  Babylon 5 NOT Returning According To JMS

#2 – Listening To Star Wars

This wordy proclamation regarding all things Star Wars, and the radio dramas in particular, is a favorite post of mine.  It has not been heavily viewed over the course of its life here on the blog, but it has incited a few comments and pushes of the like button.  I have a tendency to ramble in some of my blogs which generally is a detriment to articles in this type of forum.  More often than not people are just looking for a humorous picture, short review, or relatable anecdote.  Generally if a blog post is more than a few hundred words long folks just pass it by.  I’m as guilty of this as anyone, a story has to focus on something I’m truly interested in if I’m going to invest my time reading it, either that or it has to lure me in with the promise of some sort of revealed knowledge at the end.  Anyway, this article is just me sharing a portion of my love for the Star Wars films and my obsession with the Star Wars Radio Dramas which have been one of my favorite elements of Star Wars since about middle school.  It focuses mostly on how I believe the radio dramas are wrongly overlooked these days, how they fill in some crucial moments that are absent from the movies, and how I think real Star Wars fans should be as excited about them as I am.

#1 – Two Cents From Two Witsamans. Our Oscar Picks.

This one has lost some of its relevancy now that this particular group of Oscar nominees has come and gone.  The one nice thing about that however is that you can immediately see which of our Oscar picks were correct and which were way off.  The reason I enjoyed this so much was because I was able to convince my wife to participate in this mundane little blogging hobby of mine and I think with our combined talents we were able to come up with some good picks with some fairly solid reasoning to back them up.  Plus there’s no shortage of witty banter between us.  My wife is incredibly amusing, if you haven’t read her interview in my very first People I Know segment I suggest you do so now by clicking HERE.

Now over the course of my 100 posts I’ve somehow prompted a few misguided souls to actually subscribe to my blog!  Sure I only have 13 regular followers, but hell, that’s one more than Jesus!  So I’d like to take this time to personally mention and thank the loyal readers of Mindless Philosophy and encourage them to keep reading and make sure to comment and share their thoughts on my writings, after all that’s what this is supposed to be about right?  (Of course at this point those Mindless Philosophy email notifications have probably been flagged as spam.)

But without further ado I say thank you to:

Eldon

LouLaMay

secretcastle

pimpdaddylovemuffin

RiverUnderWater

Arlo J. Wiley

comfortingstrangers

Scott

Hannah

Carl

Brian

ryuk8488

and last but certainly not least

salsabiscuit82

Please continue to read, tell your friends, and share your thoughts!  You guys are the best group of mostly anonymous blog subscribers a fella could ask for!

Moving on now to the future!  In the next couple of days I will have my next installment of People I Know in which I interview Jason Lemmon, a friend of mine and fellow blogger, one of his blogs can be found HERE.  During our chit-chat before and after the interview we casually discussed the idea of starting a combined podcast where we would talk about the various plethora of things that interest us in the humorous manner in which we generally discuss such things.  Since then we’ve been toying with the idea more and more and have tossed a few ideas around.  While I won’t confirm or deny anything at this time, I will say that it is quite possible that there just might be such a production in the very near future.  Expect to read more news about that here as it develops!

And finally, I would like to know what you the readers would like to see on this blog.  After 100 posts of me spouting off randomly perhaps there might be some unexplored or underexplored topics you’d like to see get the Mindless Philosophy treatment, what subjects should be subjected to the Joshua Witsaman filter?  Therefore I present to you this poll with which you can help shape the future of my random spoutings.  Vote.

So there you have it folks, big ol’ post 100.  Now as always . . . .

That is all!

People I Know: My Wife

Dedicated educator. Loving wife. Frustrated puggle wrangler. Iconic woman. These are phrases I regularly use to describe my wife Lauren.

I was lucky enough to catch up with Lauren during one of her rare moments of relaxation, between grading papers and catching up on favorite shows from our DVR.  She was stuck sitting in front of our computer enduring the long drawn out process of updating her iTunes.  I made use of that captive, vulnerable moment in order to ask my wife the following questions and snag my first interview for this new section of my blog, People I Know.  The interview began somewhat distant, perhaps because I shanghaied her when she was least expecting it, and she wasn’t a fan of my impromptu interviewing technique.  Eventually however Lauren seemed to relax and really gave some insight into the life of this amazing woman.

Joshua: I just want to say first of all, that I’m glad I could sit you down here today Lauren.

Lauren: Why thank you, thank you sir.

Joshua: And second of all, I’d like to just say before we get into the questions that I love you very much.

Lauren: I love you.

Joshua: Ok, question one.  Where did you get your shirt from? It’s grey and has what looks like, water color flowers seemingly painted on it in a Japanese type of artistic style.

Lauren: Kohls. I got it from Kohls.

Joshua: And how much of your wardrobe would you say is from Kohls?

Lauren: 50%

Joshua: 50% ?!?

Lauren: Easily, yeah.

Joshua: Where do you buy your puggle’s clothes?

Lauren: Mostly Petsmart, but that one time we got that one outfit from Pets Pajamas.  It was really cute and expensive, but unfortunately it was too small, so we gave it to our friends Jeff and Mandy, who have a smaller dog.

Joshua: So would you say that Petsmart is the Kohls equivalent for pets?

Lauren: On the contrary, I would say that Kohls is the Petsmart for people.

Joshua: That’s actually a pretty good comparison.  There’s a whole lot of stuff at Kohls that you don’t really think about.  It’s more than just clothes.

Lauren: Yes.

Joshua: Here’s another question.  Who’s your favorite Ninja Turtle?

Lauren: Michelangelo.

Joshua: And why is that?

Lauren: Orange.

Joshua: Fair enough.  Now, if you had to describe yourself in just seven words or less, and I’ll give you a second to think about it, how would you describe yourself.

Lauren: The TLC album Crazy, Sexy, Cool.  That’s it.  That’s all I need.

Joshua: Ha ha! I like that!  Yes.  Ok now how much time do we have for your iTunes update?

Lauren: (laughing) 34 minutes!  Please don’t interview me for 34 minutes!

Joshua: Sum up for us, what you do.

Lauren: Like right now what I’m doing?

Joshua: What do you do?

Lauren: What do I do? Like on the planet, or you want to know what I do for a job?

Joshua: What . . . do you do?  Paragraph, roughly.

Lauren: Here’s what I do with my life.  Of my waking hours 25-30 percent of my time is spent caring for my physical appearance and the appearance of my house as well as feeding myself and other people who happen into my home.  Food is really the number one thing that I think about and spend time on I have to say.  So about 30% of my day is all of that.  I spend a lot of time guiding young minds, much of my best guiding happens when I’m not actually doing my standard teaching.  I would say that I spend a good 10-15 percent of my time repeating myself for the benefit of those same young minds.  I think about the future a lot, I plan ways to horde my money, and I evaluate a lot during my day.

Joshua: What types of things do you evaluate?

Lauren: Did I do a good job on my lesson? Was dinner ok? Are we saving enough for retirement? Will I have enough gas money? What would taste good in two hours when I want a snack? Was the snack I made what I really wanted?  Do I look ok in this outfit?  Am I getting big chunky love handles, and how do I get rid of them?  Did I do a good job of buying pants that hide them?  Those things.

Joshua:  And my last question for you is this.  As an educator there’s a lot of education talk in the media these days and some heavy debate about teachers.  What do you think are some of the best fictional portrayals of educators in media.  Movies, television, fictional teachers.  Who are some of your favorites?  Top 5.

Lauren: I sort of hate fictional teachers. Though I really like Mr. Hand from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.  Everyone always says Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society, but I don’t give a crap.  Mr. Holland’s Opus, he was a good educator.  Also I often refer to that movie as Mr. Holland’s Anus on a regular basis, so that’s always a good one.  But in all honesty I don’t really pay a lot of attention to, or enjoy watching, teachers in movies.

Joshua: What about Mr. Kotter, from Welcome Back, Kotter?

Lauren: I never saw it.  But you know who I do like? Miss Lippy from Billy Madison!  Because some days I want to send the children outside to play dodgeball while I stay inside and spread paste on my face and do interpretive dance.  That’s all.

Joshua:  So just three fictional teachers?

Lauren: Yeah, and that wasn’t even a very good list.  If you gave me some time maybe I could come up with some better ones.

Joshua: No.  No time.

Lauren: That’s it.

Joshua: Alright, well I’d like to thank you for this time and I hope that your iTunes updates happen in a prompt fashion, that they don’t time out on you, and that in 29 minutes you’re listening to some good tunes.

Lauren: Thank you.

Joshua: Any final words?

Lauren:  Thrombosis.

Joshua: And that is all!

Two Cents From Two Witsamans. Our Oscar Picks.

Well it’s that time once again, time for the academy awards. Big stars, hollywood glamor, and a whole lot of ego boosting. Currently every asshole with a computer is flooding the interwebs with their own Oscar predictions. Well prepare to add me to that long list because I am about to drop my awards precognition on you all! However how many people do you know who have their wife offering a counterpoint to their predictions? Probably not many! This is the first in a, hopefully, ongoing series of posts where my wife weighs in on my plethora of geeky interests. This topic though holds equal bearing for us, as we both like to think of ourselves as pretty enthusiastic cinephiles. So without further ado, I present my Oscar Predictions Husband and Wife Point/Counterpoint!

"And the Oscar goes to . . . . "

Original Song:
Joshua: Coming Home from Country Strong. I have not seen this movie or heard this song but that movie seemed to do well, it was about music, and it has an original song so my money is on that!

Lauren: We Belong Together from Toy Story 3. Not because I think it’s good. In fact, every Randy Newman song in the world now reminds me of Family Guy. However, that fat bastard has a lock on heart-warming songs for animated features (see his 2002 Oscar win for Monsters Inc.).

Original Score:
Joshua: Inception. The score of this movie was a central part of the whole experience, if anything the score was one of the viewers only links to sanity while watching this movie. Some of the other scores have some big names attached to them, but Hans Zimmer is no lightweight and I personally think this one has the upper hand.

Lauren: The Social Network. The score contributed to the buzzy energy of this film. In a movie that could have so easily felt nerdy, dry and boring, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross composed a score that helped make computer programming feel sexy and edgy. Well, done, my friends.

Sound Editing:
Joshua: True Grit. I don’t really have a strong case for it at all but the film really drew you in to the scenes, like you were out on the trail with them. If Ben Burtt has taught me anything during my repeated viewings of the commentary reels of the Star Wars movies, it’s that sounds can make or break a scene. I assume with as much ambiance and picturesque landscapes filmed in this movie there must also be a great deal of detailed, subtle sound editing.

Lauren: Who gives a shit? Eh, I’m going with Inception.

Sound Mixing:
Joshua: Inception. There were a lot of crazy sounds coming together in so many scenes of this movie, I can’t really see it going to any of the other choices.

Lauren: Agreed.

Ben Burtt won an oscar in Sound Editing for Star Wars (1977)

Film Editing:
Joshua: Social Network. A wonderfully edited movie, that’s it.

Lauren: Agreed on this one as well. I really felt that this film had good pacing. Black Swan, The Fighter, and The King’s Speech all had moments that could have been cut.

Costume Design:
Joshua: The Tempest. I didn’t see the Tempest, but I did see Alice in Wonderland, and as much as I like Tim Burton, I really don’t think that movie should win any awards even for costuming.

Lauren: I’m going with Alice in Wonderland on this one. I like the use of Alice’s increasingly tattered and strangely sized dress to indicate the changes that our fair heroine goes through in the film. Though I agree the movie sucked, I think the visuals were fairly stellar. And many of those visuals were created through exciting costume choices.

Visual Effects:
Joshua: Inception. This is a tough call, I really want Harry Potter to win, just because I think Deathly Hallows Part 1 really stepped the game up on effects, but I think Inception was just perfect on the effects, very cool, very trippy, and interesting original concepts.

Lauren: Inception. I agree with Josh about Harry Potter, but regardless of my personal feelings, HP is just not Oscar Bait. No matter how much I love it. Inception, on the other hand, was made wonderful by the dizzying visual effects. I sincerely hope the Academy doesn’t screw this category up. Why was Iron Man 2 even nominated, btw?

Live Action Short Film:
Joshua: God of Love. I have no idea, this is purely a guess.

Lauren: Na Wewe. I was going to go with this one anyway, as it has a foreign title, thereby making it automatically more Oscar worthy. However, after reading up on the short film category, I think this one has even more of a shot. It takes place during the Rwandan genocide, and tells the story of a group of people who are pulled over in Burundi. The guerillas demand that the Hutus go to one side of the road and the Tutsis go to the other. The Tutsis will be killed. In a show of solidarity, both groups refuse to move. I think given the current political climate abroad, Oscar voters will go with a film that has a message that highlights our shared humanity. OR maybe they’ll go with Wish 143, about a dying kid whose last wish is to lose his virginity. Who knows.

Animated Short Film:
Joshua: Day & Night. This is actually the only animated short I saw, but honestly it is great. It is very original and harkens back to the earliest days of Disney and other big animation studios. When animation was still an art form and an experimental one at that. Just a great concept and execution.

Lauren: I agree with Josh on this one. I loved Day and Night.

Art Direction:
Joshua: Harry Potter. This is one I just really want to win, pure and simple. I have loved the look of the last few Potter films and like I said earlier Deathly Hallows Part 1 is a great looking film all around.

Lauren: I’m going with Alice in Wonderland on this one. The movie was bad. Hella bad. But it had such a great visual point of view.

Makeup:
Joshua: The Wolfman. Sure why not?

Lauren: I’m going with Barney’s Version. Not because I’ve seen it. Or because I give a shit about this category. I’m just imagining this as a serious take on the children’s program, Barney, that I was forced to watch with my brother as a child. Don’t ruin my vision.

Cinematography:
Joshua: The King’s Speech. I think there were just some really great shots in this film and I really liked the way it was shot, along with everything else about this movie!

Lauren: True Grit. Classic Western in a new and Coen-y way. Great shots of the wide open prairie, and that cool sequence near the end when Jeff Bridges rushes our delirious heroine to the doctor amid a swirling sky of trippy stars.

Adapted Screenplay:
Joshua: The Coens for True Grit. Here the brothers Coen do what they do best, write good dialogue, and they really make use of the already great words at their disposal. I think they have this hands down.

Lauren: I’m going with Social Network here. I’ve heard alot of badmouthing of Sorkin lately, and I’m not sure why. I don’t know much about the guy. I was not a watcher of the West Wing. However, I enjoyed the dialogue in this film and I think the liberties he took with actual events made for a well-rounded and moving story.

Original Screenplay:
Joshua: David Seidler for the King’s Speech. This was a bit of a tough call, but once I thought about it, there’s really no contest. This isn’t just a good screenplay, it’s also part historical research paper, part detective work, part biography, etc. There’s a lot going on in this screenplay, a big workload that really came together in the film. Inception was close, and although it is a highly original concept for a screenplay I don’t think it had the same level of dynamism, if that makes sense.

Lauren: I agree with Josh on this one as well. A huge amount of research went into this, and a lot of work to present the royal family as both regal and relatable.

Foreign Language Film:
Joshua: Biutiful. I haven’t seen any of these and this is the only one I’ve heard anything about.

Lauren: I agree, although I’ve heard that the film is inconsistent and Bardem’s performance is the only truly good thing about it. So we will probably be wrong.

Animated Feature:
Joshua: Toy Story 3. If this doesn’t get the Oscar it will be a crime.

Lauren: I’m rooting for Toy Story 3, but I think the Oscar will go to The Illusionist (brought to you by the creators of 2003’s The Triplets of Belleville). In 2003, the award went to Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo. I think the academy will be showing the French Folks some love this year to make up for their last slight. Plus, I don’t care how you slice it, hand drawn art just feels like it has more craftsmanship than the computer animated stuff. Also, Toy Story 3 was just a little too maudlin for me.

Documentary Short:
Joshua: Sun Come up. I literally just heard about this on NPR and it sounds really interesting and very topical. It’s about a small series of inhabited islands that are being overtaken by rising sea levels. The documentary deals with the people being displaced and having to cope with their former home becoming submerged.

Lauren: Yes. Those of you who “don’t believe in climate change” can suck it.

Documentary Feature:
Joshua: Exit Through the Gift Shop. Again I have not seen any of these but I have come across a few articles mentioning this one, so my guess is Gift Shop.

Lauren: Three way tie here between Exit Through the Gift Shop, Restrepo, and Inside Job. Exit is about “guerilla art” and I’m sure the Academy just salivates over the very idea, but Restrepo and Inside Job are topical and represent good investigative journalism (on the war in Afghanistan and the Wall Street debacle, respectively). I will be shocked if one of these three doesn’t take home the prize.

Director:
Joshua: Darren Aronofsky. I think Arononfsky has it this year, it is close, but honestly his track record speaks for itself. Darren Aronofsky makes good, interesting movies.

Lauren: I’m going with Aronofsky here as well, because I know that Black Swan is not going to win for best picture and darn it, someone needs to be recognized for that film.

Supporting Actress:
Joshua: Hailee Steinfeld. I really want her to win, I think she was awesome in True Grit and the only one that might give her trouble is Amy Adams, maybe. But I think she deserves it, she was very strong up against her talented male co-stars.

Lauren: I really want Hailee Steinfeld to win also, but I don’t think she will. I think the Oscar will go to either Melissa Leo or Amy Adams, both of whom turned in solid performances in The Fighter. I’m putting my money on Amy Adams. Leo’s portrayal of the matriarch of a boxing family is over the top and just. too. much. (Although, from what I hear, so is the real life woman she portrays). Amy Adams’s Charlene is much more nuanced and strong. I won’t be upset if she walks away with the award.

Actress:
Joshua: Natalie Portman. I think she was perfectly cast for Black Swan and I think this role will get her the Oscar. If she doesn’t get it, I will be very surprised.

Lauren: Agreed. And to be honest, I’m not sure why Annette Bening is even in this category. Yes, she turned in a good performance, but I was more focused on Julianne Moore in The Kids Are All Right, and she didn’t even get a nomination.

Supporting Actor:
Joshua: Geoffrey Rush. He is always great, and I think had he not been in the King’s Speech the movie would not have worked. That is not to say that the other actors weren’t great, but he was truly a support in this production. Give the man an Oscar!

Lauren: Christian Bale. Dude knows how to transform himself into a brawling, crack-addicted nutjob. Not sure if he should be proud of that (?) but it was a performance with phenomenal range.

Actor:
Joshua: Colin Firth. This is a really really tough call, but I like Colin Firth and hope he wins. I think he did a phenomenal job in the King’s Speech and really brought his emotional A-Game. He played the stutter up well without over doing it, and as we all know from Tropic Thunder you “never go full retard” just enough of a disorder to express that gut wrenching pain. I think he’s got this one.

Lauren: Colin Firth. Because this was a carefully crafted, restrained and lovely performance. And because the King’s Speech is not going to win for best picture.

Best Picture:
Joshua: The King’s Speech. I already know Lauren will disagree with me on this one but I think it was the best. The academy loves movies about the royals. This was one particular monarch that had gone by the wayside in modern memory and was ripe for a movie to bring him back to the forefront. World War II, personal struggles, family scandal, the man who would be king, overcoming the odds! There are just so many things in this movie that I can’t think of any reasons why it shouldn’t get the oscar!

Lauren: I loved The King’s Speech. But I also love A LOT of things that 83 year old ladies love–reading, baking, the BBC, wearing elbow length gloves, etc. I think the audience at the theater when we went to see this illustrates perfectly exactly why this film will NOT win the Oscar. Nothing but white-hairs as far as the eye could see, and there were more than a few “Hush Mabel”s from well-meaning family members who had sprung Granny from the retirement home for the day. This is an example of the old academy. The Social Network, on the other hand, is a film that is both well-crafted and of-the-moment. It has love, betrayal, ambiguous heroes and villains, sex, drugs, money, power, hubris, and redemption–all of the good stuff. But it plays out in a very “now” kind of a way. For me, this is a bigger accomplishment than doing a period piece about the royal family. Also, and Josh disagrees with me on this, The King’s Speech lacked a clear narrative arc. For me, it felt like it was about to end at approximately 3 different times. I hate it when movies do that. So, for what it’s worth, I’m putting my money on The Social Network. And I’ll be way pissed if Winter’s Bone wins.