IF YOU SKIPPED the site over the holidays, be sure to check the surprise stocking stuffer below for more links...
WHALE-BLOGGING: Yale Law Student and New Republic intern Will Baude's writing about a lone whale singing at 52 Hz spurred discussion along the blogosphere. The links are collected here. And when Will notes that "in the comments to Amber [Taylor]'s post folks muse about whether one is always lonelier than two," I think you can guess who those folks are. But where was our Richard Ness to keep the Nilsson flame alight?
THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU: It's definitely a Wes Anderson movie, so if you've seen Bottle Rocket, Rushmore or The Royal Tenenbaums, you know what you're getting into. Some who have panned the movie think Anderson is verging on (or has crossed into) self-parody, but it didn't strike me that way so much as a continuation of his distinctive style of cinematography and art direction. If anything, the performance of The Life Aquatic is less mannered than Tenenbaums, and perhaps slightly less stylized in appearance (at least when it is above sea level).
That being said, I prefer Tenenbaums, as I think Gene Hackman was more sympathetic as a flawed patriarch than Bill Murray is in The Life Aquatic. The movie is more often tart to sour -- more like Rushmore in tone. Moreover, The Life Aquatic is more uneven than Tenenbaums, perhaps because it is Anderson's first script written with Noah Baumbach, rather than longtime collaborator Owen Wilson (who only acts here).
Nevertheless, I enjoyed The Life Aquatic, particularly the performances of Cate Blanchett -- who is almost as good here as journo Jane Winslett-Richardson as she is playing Kate Hepburn in The Aviator -- and Willem Dafoe, who practically steals every scene in which he appears. It was also nice to see Bud Cort, as I have always imagined that Wes Anderson was deeply influenced by Harold and Maude. And given the nature of this site, I should mention that the soundtrack is intriguing: primarily Bowie classics, often reinterpreted as Portuguese cafe music.
JOHN MAYER was stopped from running through the halls of his high school, even when he was to be inducted into its Hall of Fame. I can't believe the Associated Press missed the obvious joke.
CATS AND DOGS: getting their own coffins. DOGS: getting their own ice cream.
TEEN JESUS: The computer-generated portrait was created by Italian policemen from the Shroud of Turin.
ENGINEERS probably can explain these pictures. I expect it has something to do with leverage.
DENVER SAMARITAN hands out 35 thousand dollars to the homeless on Christmas Eve.
PHARMA COS warn employees about Michael Moore, whose next film is rumored to be about the U.S. healthcare system.
MY KIND OF TOWN: YMCA director fired after the parents of young children arriving for a morning swim meet clashed with participants in an overnight transgender fashion show and ball.
FARK: What if bin Laden made albums, not videotapes?
UKRANIAN ELECTION RE-RUN: Looks like a big win for Yushchenko. Probably good news for the West.
WASHINGTON GOVERNOR'S RACE: More ballots turned up in Alaska.
WEIRD NEWS: Sky News names its top stories for 2004.
THE SCREAM: Norwegian police have identified a suspect in the theft of a version of the iconic painting.
EARBAGS: Going on my list.
STONEHENGE: A fresh theory on how it was built was tested earlier this month. And where are they now, the little people of... Stonehenge?