“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
– T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets
The Amazing Spider-Man is amazingly similar to 2002’s Spider-Man. But it’s a perfectly enjoyable and competent summer blockbuster, and though I’d estimate about two-thirds of this film’s DNA comes from the earlier one, it’s fun to notice the small differences between the two Spideys.
This time it’s UK-bred actor Andrew Garfield (whose American accent is, as far as I could tell, flawless) who plays high school loser Peter Parker, a dorky photographer constantly bullied by cooler classmates but who attracts the notice of pretty Gwen Stacy (The Help star Emma Stone, blonde this time). Peter pursues the unfinished genetic experiments of his scientist father (Campbell Scott), who disappeared one night and left him in the permanent care of his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen, slightly overdoing the doddering act) and Aunt May (Sally Field). Those experiments take Peter to the lab of Dr. Curt Connors (veteran Brit actor Rhys Ifans, still best known for playing Hugh Grant’s wacky roommate in Notting Hill), where, in one of the film’s many groan-inducing coincidences, Gwen also works. Despite heavy security at the super-secret lab, Peter sneaks into the unguarded inner sanctum where he learns more about experiments meant to regrow human limbs — Dr. Connors is missing an arm. It’s here that he’s bitten by a genetically altered spider.
The usual sequences of discovery of super-powers follow, and there’s even a scene with Peter getting the idea of wearing a costume from accidentally falling into a wrestling ring that features masked combatants. But to me Spidey 2.0 is more interesting than the likeable goody-goody played by the mild Tobey Maguire. First, Peter Parker has been picked on for a long time, and turning the tables on his tormentors gives him a license to act like a jerk himself for a while, for instance in a scene with the bully Flash (Chris Zylka) on a basketball court, where Parker’s arachnid grip and reflexes are simply used to humiliate the other boy. Peter is even unforgivably rude to his guardians. Making Peter less sweet and innocent makes him seem more human and real, and I think we’ve all seen that teens are fully capable of being arrogant and obnoxious.
From Rielle Hunter’s interview with George Stephanopoulos:
GS:You would still walk up into that room six years later, knowing everything you know now?
RH: Would I do that again? No way.
RH: Absolutely not.
GS: So in the end, even though you got this lovely gift, of Quinn. The relationship was a mistake.
RH: I don’t, many things in the relationship was a mistake, but I don’t regret loving him.
GS: And you still love him.
RH: I do.
GS: And he still loves you?
RH: You’d have to ask him that, but I think he does. I mean that I feel that he does.
GS: So how does that work going forward? You have a daughter together. You are a family.
RH: We are a family but as last, the end of last week, John Edwards and I are no longer a couple.
Watching this interview, it’s hard not to notice Hunter’s vivid, immature fantasy life.
As she talks about her relationship with former presidential contender John Edwards, you can practically get whiplash as she swings between reality and make believe, going from giddy girl and back again to sensible woman.
David Swindle recently pointed out how sad it is when a 50 year-old man hasn’t grown up sexually since he was 13. Hunter demonstrates the female version of this aberration. Like most adolescent girls, she embraces idealized definitions of love, marriage and family.
Hunter says, “We are a family” but admits they are “no longer a couple.” This “family” only exists in her imagination. Just because her fantasy life produced offspring it doesn’t mean she’s built a family.
A mature woman knows that it takes an immense amount of self-sacrifice to create a family. You can’t just wave a magic wand and conjure up one.
Has Hunter inadvertently exposed the underdeveloped mental anatomy of a mistress?
Im delighted to announce that Simon and I are expecting our first child together. I wanted you to hear the news direct from me, obviously we’re over the moon and very excited but please respect our privacy at this precious time. Yours always, Adele xx
Continuing with the war theme, check out the latest round of men don’t do their domestic share from The Nation:
What’s irked me is the continued assumption that this is a women’s issue. The problem isn’t that women are trying to do too much, it’s that men aren’t doing nearly enough…
Dismissing socialization and gender roles as piddling compared to this amorphous idea of “maternal imperative” is part of the reason progress is stalled for family-friendly policies. I don’t believe we must ignore how much we love our kids and want to be with them in order to effectively fight for better parenting policies—but the assumption that women want to be mothers above all other callings in their life directly impacts the way we talk and work on these issues….
This isn’t about wanting “it all,” it’s about wanting fairness and justice—something that’s only possible if we radically change the gendered expectations of parenting. Anything less will keep us talking in circles.
First a point about terms: what is “choice feminism”? For most casual feminists, “choice feminism” is the idea that feminist accomplishments gave us the opportunity to choose our own lives whether it be domestic or professional. This is real feminism. (See here and here for examples of such discussions.)
Intellectual feminists, however, hate choice feminism, and the above quote illustrates why. They want pure equality where men and women do the same amount and types of work. Therefore, they cannot accept any notion of “la difference.”
Feminists only use the language of choice when they want us to feel empowered for the choices they would have us make. See Cherie Blair who thinks it “dangerous” that stay-at-home-moms “married rich and retired.”
So what about the men? First, articles like The Daddy Wars fuel wifely assumptions of husbandly incompetence. “Why can’t you do something right?!” barbs are common and are relationship poison. Second, the evidence is rather murky that husbands are slackers. A Time magazine piece from last fall challenged the notion that husbands do less work than wives. It is an interesting read, so do read the whole thing if you subscribe, but this caught my eye:
But what we weren’t seeing was that there was a mounting body of evidence that women were not, in fact, workhorse wives picking up their husbands’ slack, that there are several variables in the dual-earner equations… So does that mean that my sense of injustice and that of so many other women have all be a result of an accounting error? Thankfully, it’s not quite so simple.
Thankfully? The gist of the article is that men have been slandered for decades, yet the author is “thankful” her sense of injustice was not entirely misplaced? Either men have been wrongly accused and reduced to annoying sperm donors or the evidence shows that men are still sometime slackers. Neither bothers her as much as the horror that she might have been mistaken.
And feminists wonder how they get a reputation for bashing men.
See Leslie’s previous blogs on the gender and family wars
Manolo says, on the occasion of the actress Katie Holmes announcing her divorce from her husband of six years, the petite superstar, Tom Cruise, the Manolo is reminded of something that he noticed when the romance was in full blossom seven years ago. Tom Cruise’s body language was most peculiar, it was, the Manolo noted at the time, as if he were “trying to choke the Xenu right out of her.”
Here are the few samples…
Yes, Tom Cruise’s pimp hand was strong.
Indeed, over and over again, at least the dozen times, Tom Cruise was photographed grabbing Katie Holmes by the neck, so many times, and so hard, that the Manolo began to refer to it as the “Death Grip of Super Masculinity”.
It was very peculiar, and clearly did not bode well for the long term viability of this marriage.
Of the course, the Manolo has more thoughts at his humble shoe blog, including who he thinks will be next for Tom.
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are divorcing after 5 years of marriage, People reports.
The action star and “Dawson’s Creek” actress married in 2006 at an Italian castle, after making waves with their whirlwind courtship and Cruise’s infamous couch-jumping on “Oprah.” Many media outlets speculated about the legitimacy of their relationship, as well as Cruise’s Scientology views.
A new study published by the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California – Irvine revealed that being cut off from email during the work day reduces stress levels and focus.
This merely adds further proof as to how distracting (and dare we say addicting?) it is to constantly check your in-box and smart phone.
Researchers from the University of California, Irvine and the U.S. Army asked subjects to stop checking messages at work. Keeping in mind it was a rather small study with 13 subjects in total, employees without email access reported they felt better about doing their job and staying on task. Plus, there were less interruptions throughout the day. Here’s the scoop…
Rest enough for the individual man, too much and too soon, and we call it death. But for Man, no rest and no ending. He must go on, conquest beyond conquest. First, this little planet and its winds and ways. And then all the laws of mind and matter that restrain him. Then the planets about him, and, at last, out across immensity to the stars. And when he has conquered all the depths of space, and all the mysteries of time, still he will be beginning…
– Things to Come, H.G. Wells
Her voice was low, steady, and unfamiliar:
“We haven’t met. I know you just moved in not too long ago. You have a boy about ten, is that right?”
With a rapidly growing concern swelling in the base of my throat, a hesitant “yes” was all I could muster.
“He’s made friends with [the boy that lived behind us]. I’m not going to say too much. But please don’t let him play inside their house.”
With little else said, she hung up. There really wasn’t much more to say. She articulated the unspoken message quite well. I took her advice without any further questions.
Our kids learned about “stranger danger” beginning in grade school. We followed up at home by making it a point to tell them that we would never send someone they didn’t know to pick them up — for any reason.
We also took the experts’ advice and established a secret code word for safety. I worried about, and took many deliberate precautions against, abduction.
Like most parents, I didn’t have to read these statistics. I could practically feel them:
US Department of Justice reports, nearly 800,000 children younger than 18 are missing each year, or an average of 2,185 children reported missing each day.
Abductions happen. We see the children’s faces on the walls at the store, and cringe with every Amber alert. But we don’t mentally subtract the fact that of those 800,000, only 115 children were victims of the “stereotypical” kidnapping of a stranger snatching them — what we fear most. With all of the attention drawn to it, we tend to think sexual assaults are more likely to come with abduction.
In all my precautions, it never occurred to me to tell my son that not all moms and dads were good. And I certainly wasn’t prepared to explain to our ten year old that I suspected his new best friend’s dad was deeply disturbed.
Most children can’t begin to comprehend the depraved acts a person with a friendly face can do. They’re still looking for bad guys with black hats and a sinister laugh. How do you protect a child’s innocence physically without devastating him mentally?
The FBI tells us that predatory pedophiles, like the obscure man behind us and Jerry Sandusky, the Penn State assistant coach just convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse, have a pattern of seduction.
It sickens me to admit that, had I not gotten that call, I don’t know that I would have recognized the signs.
Ask yourself these questions…
The San Diego Comic Con is scheduled for the middle of July. Today, Marvel Studios announced its panel for the event:
Marvel Studios: Saturday, July 14th 6:00pm – 7:00pm (Hall H) – Marvel Studios presents Iron Man 3. Join Producer Kevin Feige and special guests as they provide an inside look at the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures: Thursday, July 12th 2:05pm – 3:05pm (Hall H) – A Q&A panel featuring the imaginative director of Frankenweenie, Tim Burton; A special look at the world of Oz The Great and Powerful with director Sam Raimi; the illustrious voice cast of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Wreck-It Ralph, including John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman and director Rich Moore.
I’m guessing Robert Downey, Jr. will be present for the panel. I’d also expect some details on the upcoming Thor and Captain America sequels.
But overall, doesn’t it seem a bit, well, underwhelming? After all, they have some other movies in the works besides Iron Man 3.
Haven’t we all learned, after Manny Pacquiao was falsely quoted last month as saying all gays should be “put to death,” that the Examiner is not a source to be aggregated?
CBS2 didn’t get the memo. “Lebowski fans, lift up your white russian!” the local news site wrote this morning. “The much-anticipated sequel to the 1998 hit “The Big Lebowski” is set to start filming in October, according to the Examiner.”
And where, pray tell, did the Examiner get its information?
Although there is no sourcing in the story (which should have been a tip-off in itself), LAist points to the possible inspiration: A piece on joke website Super Official News called “Announced – The Big Lebowski 2: The Dude Goes To Washington.”
Other stories on the site, which is sort of an indie Onion, include “Joe Arpaio Announces New Zombie Bath Salt Task Force Called SALTS” and “Gay Zombie Attack In Louisiana From Bath Salts Leaves 7 Dead.”
Remember a few months ago when Hilary Rosen stoked the Mommy Wars by insulting Ann Romney and stay at home moms as too uninformed to have an opinion on anything outside the home? Well, the UK’s Mummy Wars flared up this week when Cherie Blair, Queen’s Council and wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair made some disparaging comments about stay-at-home-mums.
One of the things that worries me now is you see young women who say: “I look at the sacrifices that women have made and I think why do I need to bother, why can’t I just marry a rich husband and retire?” and you think how can they even imagine that is the way to fulfil yourself, how dangerous it is.
Ah, yes, that is what we stay-at-home moms have done, married a rich man and retired. What exactly do some working women think that we SAHM’s do all day? And how do SAHMs handle the inevitable “what do you do?” and “isn’t it boring?” questions that we field from working women, with or without children?
Beyond the Mommy/Mummy Wars, however, I see doubt and regret. Older feminists talk about how we need to be independent for our own good, how we need to fulfill ourselves, but what really seems to irk Blair and other feminists of her generation is that younger women don’t herald “the sacrifices that women [of Cherie's generation] have made.” They want assurance through our endorsement, and they aren’t getting it.
Sometimes it’s worth remembering where we came from. This is the Nile Delta, image from the ISS. Somewhere down there was the Library of Alexandria and Cleopatra’s Palace, and 5000 years of human history.
The great Jewish playwright William Shakespeare knew everything (and okay, not all scholars agree he was Jewish but, let’s face it, that’s the only thing that could explain it!). When Martin Luther touched off the Reformation by hammering his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg (next to the “Tear off Number for Guitar Lessons” and “Volkswagen for Sale” notices), he set loose the process that would fragment the authority of moral and spiritual truth. From then on, it was inevitable that men who once took Jesus at his word when he said, “I am the Truth,” would now raise the banner of Pontius Pilate with its proud declaration, “What is Truth?” You may say, hey, that’s not a declaration. Shut up.
Anyway, Reb Shakespeare dramatized the all-too-likely outcome with a little play he liked to call “Hamlet.” Because that was its name. Hamlet, returning from university in, you guessed it, Wittenberg, can’t tell the truth from a hole in the ground. As such, he is perfectly placed to prefigure virtually every stupid French theory that will ultimately grow out of the 16th century’s crisis of authority. Most importantly, he demonstrates the inevitable rise of relativism with his famous pronouncement, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
When Hamlet says this he is pretending to be mad — because Shakespeare understood that relativism is not just madness, it’s make-believe madness because no one who professes it really believes it. And yet many an academic in the centuries to come would say virtually the same words while pretending to be sane.
Enter Roger Kimball. Our brilliant PJMedia colleague and New Criterion poohbah has been exposing the stupidity of relativist thought and defending the verities of western culture at least since his excruciatingly wonderful Tenured Radicals, a book that made such mincemeat of our professoriate it actually made me feel bad for them.
Now, Roger has returned with The Fortunes of Permanence, Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia, an exquisite collection of linked essays that pits the wisdom of the ages against the relativist idiocy of the age. The writing’s great, the thought is terrific, the subjects are fascinating and Roger is the best company in the world — even when he’s only there on paper when it’s a lot harder to get him to pick up the tab. Best of all, when you’re reading Kimball, you know you’re getting the thoughts of a man who knows just about everything.
Cross-Posted from Klavan on the Culture.
Drinking alcohol while pregnant is risky business. Studies have proven that a heavy dose of alcohol can bring the risk of serious birth defects. But the complicated thing about risk is that it can be a pretty vague term. Where do the limits of drinking while pregnant lie? Is there a chance it’s actually OK to enjoy your wine with a baby on board?
It turns out that yes, you can. No one has been able to determine exactly how much alcohol is considered safe or unsafe during pregnancy. As a result, the CDC advises all women to abstain from imbibing during pregnancy as a general precaution to nip any potential risks in the bud. When it comes to their baby’s health, any risk, no matter how vague, is probably one most women are simply not willing to take.
But new research shows that the window of safe alcohol consumption while pregnant might be a bit safer than necessary. The study, funded by the CDC, suggests that light drinking (1 to 4 drinks a week) and even moderate alcohol consumption (5 to 8 drinks a week) might be OK.
Last time, we looked at some of the secrets to winning on Jeopardy. But knowing how to win means nothing if you can’t get on the show. How do I try out for Jeopardy? What should I expect when I get there? What happens during show tapings?
A lot goes on before a contestant ever sets foot on the Jeopardy sound stage in Los Angeles, and once there a lot happens that viewers never see on their TV screens. Here’s a look at a few of those behind-the-scenes secrets.
9. The Highest Hurdle
You can have a head stuffed full of trivia, but if you can’t get on the game, it’s not doing you a whole lot of good short of impressing (or boring) your friends. The first problem is getting the attention of the Jeopardy producers.
In years past, the Jeopardy crew conducted contestant searches in major cities around the country. Local network affiliates announced the upcoming search, urging viewers to send in a postcard with their contact information. Potential contestants were then chosen by random from those cards, meaning the highest hurdle had nothing to do with your Jeopardy skills; it was, quite literally, a matter of luck.
I thought myself clever for sending in 10 cards. I found out later than some people sent more than a hundred. Yet on the first try they chose my card. I received a phone call telling me to report to a certain hotel ballroom at the appointed time to take the first portion of the tryout, a written test.
These days, the random postcards are dispensed with and you can take the test online at the Be a Contestant page on the Jeopardy web site — but only when they announce a contestant search, which is only a few times a year. Still, this method gives you much better odds than hoping your card is pulled from the pile.
We all know Ke$ha can get pretty wild when she has one too many sips from “a bottle of Jack,” but her new mouth tattoo is definitely taking wild to brand new heights!
The pop rock diva debuted her new ink on Twitter, posting a photo of the tattoo reading “Suck It!” on the inside of her lip.
In the adorable files, how cute is this? Last year Mila Kunis accepted an invitation to accompany Sgt. Scott Moore to the Marine Ball in North Carolina. She didn’t only attend, she recently said they still keep in touch!
Mila told Fox411, “We are still in contact.” The star of the new movie, Ted, added, “We email back and forth, and spoke on the phone about a month and a half ago.”
On June 27, 1972, Atari Inc. was incorporated in the state of California. That makes today the 40th birthday of the company that pioneered coin-op gaming, and six years later Atari would unleash the Video Computer System, later renamed the 2600.
The console gaming industry was for all intents and purposes born with the Video Computer System, and home entertainment would never be the same. The console with the one-button joystick and the game cartridge changed everything and introduced some great interactive entertainment along the way. Here are my Top 10 Atari 2600 Games.
10. Realsports Football. Atari’s first football game was horrible. It was barely football at all. But with Realsports Football, Atari tried and mostly succeeded in creating a decent football sim. You only had a Pop Warner size team, but the players looked pretty good and you could do most of the things you could do in the real sports world: Breakaway runs, first downs, passes, interceptions, punts and so forth. The AI was pretty stupid, and before long every player had figured out how to blow it off the field 99-0. But Realsports Football and the other Realsports games foreshadowed the massive Madden, MLB, NBA and FIFA simulation franchises that dominate today.
9. Missile Command. Defend Cities. ‘Nuff said.
8. Star Raiders. This game required a pad separate from the joystick to control all the various functions of your space ship. It was way ahead of its time for its complexity and replayability.
The Kidd here…
Start saving your pennies for September, ladies and gents, because there’s plenty of awesomeness you’re going to want to drop money on to fill out your home collection… and that includes a pretty incredible Alfred Hitchcock box set just announced by Universal as part of its 100-year anniversary celebration.
15 Hitchcock titles, 13 of which are making their first appearance on Blu-ray, make up ALFRED HITCHCOCK: THE MASTERPIECE COLLECTION, which is set for release on September 25 for a limited time, but is already up for pre-order (I’m not sure how limited of a time we’re talking about, but, if you want it, I’d suggest jumping on it before you find out you’re too late).
Modern parents struggle with how much responsibility to give to children and when. Typical American practice calls for parents to keep children available so they may have the time for enriching, resume enhancing activities or for just being kids. Yet even once we found our houses dominated by spoiled kids from 20-somethings down to toddlers, we still use a ‘less and later’ responsibility pattern.
Modern parenting stories are loaded with unintentionally humorous “paradoxically” comments. From a New Yorker review of a slew of books about how to avoid raising spoiled kids, “Paradoxically, [an author] maintains, by working so hard to help our kids we end up holding them back.” That hard work by Group A on behalf of Group B results in less work from Group B? This is not a paradox. It is cold reality.
I’m tempted to be smug on these chore wars. My kids are expected to do chores, but I usually have to be “instructionally repetitive.” (That is my husband’s polite phrase for “nagging.”) The New Yorker review suggests — and I think she is on to something — that we get “kiddie whipped.” Describing her own experience with chore assignment:
[M]y husband and I gave [our children] a new job: unloading the grocery bags from the car. One evening when I came home from the store, it was raining. Carrying two or three bags, the youngest, Aaron, who is thirteen, tried to jump over a puddle. There was a loud crash. After I’d retrieved what food could be salvaged from a Molotov cocktail of broken glass and mango juice, I decided that Aaron needed another, more vigorous lesson in responsibility. Now, in addition to unloading groceries, he would also have the task of taking out the garbage. On one of his first forays, he neglected to close the lid on the pail tightly enough, and it attracted a bear. The next morning, as I was gathering up the used tissues, ant-filled raisin boxes, and slimy Saran Wrap scattered across the yard, I decided that I didn’t have time to let my kids help out around the house. (My husband informed me that I’d just been “kiddie-whipped.”
That I would have made my children clean up the grocery and garbage messes doesn’t change the fact that it would have been easier to do the jobs myself. That thought undermines my resolve to have my children help around the house. Even though I’m trying to raise responsible kids, they still see that I don’t always expect them to do chores, and so they don’t.
Any parents out there who avoided becoming “kiddie-whipped?” I’d love some advice.