Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘The City and the City

Summer Classes Syllabi! “Science Fiction” (Sophomore Survey) and “The Law of Genre” (Grad Level)

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This weekend marks the tragic end of my research leave — I’m teaching two summer classes beginning Monday, a newly revamped version of my sophomore survey on science fiction (swapping in Never Let Me Go for Slaughterhouse-Five, Black Mirror for Avatar, and Ted Chiang for basically everything else) and a new graduate-level course on genre studies. I’m excited about both, but especially the grad course, which is laser-focused on books I find interesting.

I pulled back a bit on the writing assignments compared to last year because I think there’s a bit more reading, but some of that reading is deliberately structured as “secondary” so hopefully it won’t feel excessive. Main texts after some reshuffling are Never Let Me Go, The City and the City, Beloved, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Lolita, with guest appearances by Get Out, the Kubrick Lolita, The Twilight Zone, and Donald Barthelme…

Here’s the week-by-week:

M May 22 Introduction to the Course

viral video: “Too Many Cooks” [YouTube]

T May 23 Daniel Chandler, “An Introduction to Genre Theory” [D2L]

Donald Barthelme, “The Joker’s Greatest Triumph!” [D2L]

W May 24 Darko Suvin, “On the Poetics of the Science Fiction Genre” [D2L]

China Miéville, “Cognition as Ideology” [D2L]

(in class) The Twilight Zone: “The Eye of the Beholder” [Netflix]

 

secondary:

Gerry Canavan, “The Suvin Event” [D2L]

Th May 25 John Rieder, “On Defining SF, or Not: Genre Theory, SF, and History” [D2L]

Ted Underwood, “The Life Cycle of Genres” [D2L]

M May 29 MEMORIAL DAY—NO CLASS
T May 30 Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (Part One)
W June 1 Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (Part Two)
Th June 2 Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (Part Three)

 

secondary:

film trailer: The Island [YouTube]

Martin Puchner, review of Never Let Me Go [D2L]

 

LESSON PLAN #1 DUE

M June 5 Carl Freedman, “Marxism, Cinema, and Some Dialectics of Science Fiction and Film Noir” [D2L]

China Miéville, The City and the City (first half of Part One)

T June 6 China Miéville, The City and the City (second half of Part One)
W June 7 China Miéville, The City and the City (Part Two)
Th June 8 China Miéville, The City and the City (whole book)

China Miéville, “Notes on Walls” [Web]

 

secondary:

Carl Freedman, “From Genre to Political Economy: Miéville’s The City & The City and Uneven Development” [D2L]

China Miéville, “Unsolving the City” [Web]

S June 10 THINKPIECE #1 DUE BY 5 PM
M June 12 Toni Morrison, Beloved, pgs. 1-63
T June 13 Toni Morrison, Beloved, pgs. 63-165
W June 14 Toni Morrison, Beloved, whole book

 

secondary:

Carl D. Malmgren, “Mixed Genres and the Logic of Slavery in Toni Morrison’s Beloved” [D2L]

Grady Hendrix, “Beloved: The Best Horror Novel the Horror Genre Has Never Claimed” [D2L]

Elizabeth B. House, “Toni Morrison’s Ghost: The Beloved Who Is Not Beloved” [D2L]

Th June 15 film: Get Out

 

secondary:

Steven Thrasher, representative Get Out thinkpiece [Web]

 

LESSON PLAN #2 DUE

M June 19 Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (first half)
T June 20 Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (second half)

Charlotte Sturgess, “The Handmaid as a Romance Heroine” [D2L]

W June 21 Margaret Atwood, “Historical Notes on The Handmaid’s Tale

Margaret Atwood, “The Road to Ustopia” [Web]

 

secondary:

John McAdams, “Marquette Gender and Sexuality Resource Center: Demonizing Men” [PDF ON D2L]

Margaret Atwood, “What The Handmaid’s Tale Means in the Age of Trump” [Web]

Lili Loofburouw, “How Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale succumbed to the feminist curse” [Web]

The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu series)

Th June 22 READING/WRITING DAY—NO CLASS
M June 26 Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita: “Foreword” and Part One, Chapters 1-22
T June 27 Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita: Part One, Chap. 23, through Part Two, Chap. 22
W June 28 Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (whole book, including “On a Book Entitled Lolita”)

Stanley Kubrick, Lolita [Netflix]

Th June 29 VIRTUAL SYLLABUS WORKSHOP DAY! POST YOUR SAMPLE SYLLABUS AND COURSE NARRATIVES ON D2L AND SHARE QUESTIONS, SUGGESTIONS, AND OTHER HELPFUL COMMENTS!
S July 1 THINKPIECE #2 DUE BY 5 PM

Tuesday Night Links!

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* In case you missed it, last night I put up my syllabi for the fall, on J.R.R. Tolkien and American Literature after the American Century.

* Mark your calendars, East Coasters: Jaimee Hills reads from her award-winning book How to Avoid Speaking at the Folger Shakespeare Library in DC on October 26. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that preorders are available now at Amazon and Waywiser Press.

* The world’s most popular academic article: “Fuck Nuance.”

That is the kudzu of nuance. It makes us shy away from the riskier aspects of abstraction and theory-building generally, especially if it is the rst and most frequent response we hear. Instead of pushing some abstraction or argument along for a while to see where it goes, there is a tendency to start hedging theory with particulars. People complain that you’re leaving some level or dimension out, and tell you to bring it back in. Crucially, “accounting for”, “addressing”, or “dealing” with the missing item is an unconstrained process. at is, the question is not how a theory can handle this or that issue internally, but rather the suggestion to expand it with this new term or terms. Class, Institutions, Emotions, Structure, Culture, Interaction—all of them are taken generically to “matter”, and you must acknowledge that they matter by incorporating them. Incorporation is the reintroduction of particularizing elements, even though those particulars were what you had to throw away in order to make your concept a theoretically useful abstraction in the first place.

See also: nuance trolling as academic filibuster.

* More ACLA CFPs: Utopia Renewed: Locating a New Utopian Praxis. Innovation, Creativity, and Capitalist Culture.

* Trying to figure out what percentage of instructors are adjuncts is the world’s most dangerous game.

But Thrun and other MOOC founders seem less than concerned about living up to their earlier, lofty rhetoric or continuing that tradition of bringing education to an underserved population. True, they haven’t entirely abandoned their rhetoric about equal access to educational opportunities. But they’ve shifted to what’s becoming a more familiar Silicon Valley narrative about the future of employability: a cheap and precarious labor force. That’s the unfortunate reality of “Uber for Education.”

* Artisanal college. Cruelty free, cage free, farm-fresh.

Aggrieved students find books dangerous; neoliberal administrators say they’re useless. I’d take the former any day.

From Corporate Leader to Flagship President?

Reform Higher Ed? Treat Badmin Like Bankers.

Literary magazines for socialists funded by the CIA, ranked.

* The strategic value of summer.

* Forty years of Born to Run. But you don’t have to take my word for it.

* Fun Home at Duke: 1, 2.

* Meanwhile, in today’s exciting new anti-academic moral panic: UNC’s The Literature of 9/11.

As Murray Pomerance points out, plagiarism is a form of theft, and we don’t steal our own work. On the contrary, we expand its reach, and build on it, thereby making it more relevant as the contexts that produce it change.

UT Knoxville encourages students to use ‘gender-neutral pronouns.’ Washington State University disavows syllabus with ban on certain words.

The Largest-Ever U.S. Gallery Of Jack Kirby’s Comic Art Heads To California.

* And no one talks about it: Barack Obama will leave his party in its worst shape since the Great Depression—even if Hillary wins. More here. I’m an outlier on the progressive side of the fence insofar as I think Clinton might really have to pull out of the race over the emails — so it’s even worse than it seems.

* The cartoon bodies of Mad Max: Fury Road.

How Many Men Did The Golden Girls Sleep With, Exactly?

* The FBI’s surveillance of Ray Bradbury. And the Sad Puppies.

Cold Opening: The Publicity Campaign for Go Set a Watchman.

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina serves as a reminder that resilience is a function of the strength of a community. Gentrification’s Ground Zero: In the ten years since Katrina, New Orleans has been remade into a neoliberal playground for young entrepreneurs. The Myth of the New Orleans School Makeover.

* Incredible essay by Lili Loofbourrow on her sister’s death by suicide this summer.

* Psychology is bunk.

Žižek Says Thing.

* Against the Anthropocene.

* Whatever happened to DC Comics?

* Being Stephen Colbert.

* The free encyclopedia anyone can edit.

* Tinder as video game.

* Another Samuel Delany interview.

Janelle Monáe Vows To ‘Speak Up’ On #BlackLivesMatter.

* I love dumb stuff like this, when the corrupt screw up and lose: Business owners try to remove all voters from business district, but they forgot one college student.

Cancer cells programmed back to normal by US scientists.

British Library declines Taliban archive over terror law fears.

Upstate New York Secessionists Demand Freedom From City They Mooch Off Of.

* I told you that if there were something beyond the grave, I would contact you.

* RIP, Oliver Sacks.

* Inside Wisconsin’s Slender Man stabbing.

* I confess I am totally stunned by the Jared Fogle case. I thought I was cynical enough.

* The arc of history is long, but at least that Coach reboot has already been cancelled.

* The Racial Politics of Disney Animals.

* Mars by 2039?

* Renaming Denali.

* Why Dolphins Are Deep Thinkers.

Fall In Love with Your Job, Get Ripped Off by Your Boss. Related: workers shouldn’t work for free.

Firstborn Girls Are the Best at Life. Any Zoey could have told you that!

* The law, in its majestic equality, allows rich and poor alike not to clean up their billion-dollar toxic oil spills.

* The New Servility.

* Militarized drones are now legal in North Dakota.

Future Jails May Look and Function More Like Colleges. And, you know, vice versa…

* Never say “unfilmable”: The BBC is going to try to make a show out of The City and the City.

* Declare victory and go home to your panic room: America Has Lost The War Against Guns.

* And some things mankind was just never meant to know: See how easily a rat can wriggle up your toilet.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 1, 2015 at 7:38 pm

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Weekend Links! So Many!

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Harris Wittels has died. I really loved his appearances on Earwolf, but the one I keep thinking about is his appearance on “You Made It Weird” last November, where he spoke about his addiction at length. The humblebrag.

* Oliver Sacks writes about his terminal cancer diagnosis in the New York Times.

* The Midwest Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference began today. This year’s theme is “Animacy” and both Lee Edelman and Lauren Berlant are keynotes.

* TNI has a great excerpt from the beginning of Creepiness.

* A President’s Day remembrance of Ona Judge.

* Neill Blomkamp is making an Alien. ​The Man In The High Castle Gets Series Order From Amazon. Amazon should greenlight this next.

* The City and the City may be a BBC drama. I would have said it was unfilmable, but sure, let’s give it a try.

* Boston’s winter from hell. What the massive snowfall in Boston tells us about global warming.

A Siberian blast—seriously, this air is from Siberia—has turned the eastern U.S. into an icebox featuring the most extreme cold of anywhere on Earth right now. Looking ahead, there’s plenty more where that came from.

* Rudy Giuliani, still horrible.

Melodrama is so powerful, then, because by promising heroic emancipation from terrorist villainy, it implies that US citizens can overcome their feelings of diminished political agency and lost freedom. Melodrama promises that both the US state, and individual Americans, will soon experience heroic freedom by winning the War on Terror. They will cast off their feelings of vulnerability and weakness through heroic action—even when the villain they attack is not the primary cause of their powerlessness or suffering.

* The fastest way to find Waldo. You’re welcome.

waldo-ga-optimal-search-path-680x442

Would you like to understand how the “new” Harper Lee novel, “Go Set a Watchman,” came to be billed as a long-lost, blockbuster sequel to “To Kill a Mockingbird” — one of the definitive books of the American 20th century — when, by all the known facts, it’s an uneven first draft of the famous novel that was never considered for publication? Would you like to get a glimpse into how clever marketing and cryptic pronouncements have managed to produce an instant bestseller, months before anyone has read it?

* Republicans think this is their moment to kill higher education in America. And they might be right.

Congressman Says We Don’t Need Education Funding Because ‘Socrates Trained Plato On A Rock.’ Checks out.

* The outlook for the rest of Illinois isn’t much better. We Need Syriza in Illinois.

* That there are any homeless children anywhere in the country is an unthinkable national tragedy.

* Save the Wisconsin Idea. You may have to save it from its saviors.

* The inexorable tuition explosion that will result is proving to be politically untenable, and Walker has moved immediately to head it off, consequences be damned. And UW leadership, having adopted a posture of supporting the public authority on principled grounds, is left in the politically deadly position of having to fight for the power to raise tuition arbitrarily.

Meanwhile let’s kill all the state parks too.

* Meanwhile Milwaukee is one of America’s poorest cities. Though it still has one thing going for it.

* “Scott Walker says he consults with God, but his office can’t provide documents to prove it.”

* Thank goodness we were able to take all that valuable real estate we were wasting on schools and turn it profitable again.

Ideology Seen as Factor in Closings in University of North Carolina System. No! It can’t be!

New Education Initiative Replaces K-12 Curriculum With Single Standardized Test.

* The best and worst presidents. The hottest U.S. presidents. The beardiest presidents.

* Mother Jones loves Minnesota governor Mark Dayton.

* Gender and J School.

* The visiting professor scam.

We don’t need more STEM majors. We need more STEM majors with liberal arts training.

* “The academic atmosphere, produced mainly by the humanities, is the only atmosphere in which pure science can flourish.”

* Academic interviews are horrible, mealtime edition.

Oklahoma Lawmakers Vote Overwhelmingly To Ban Advanced Placement U.S. History.

* The end of Miami.

* The West Coast cargo strike.

* Charting the Bechdel Test.

* DWYL, porn industry edition.

* Defund DHS.

What is going to happen to all of those African-languages-speaking, archive-obsessed, genre-discovering graduate students? Listen, I have some terrible news.

* The death cult called the MLA wants you to have hope for some reason though. Really strange study.

Florida Passes Plan For Racially-Based Academic Goals.

* Meanwhile, affirmative action for men in college admissions.

* “A Superbug Nightmare Is Playing Out at an LA Hospital.”

In the current movement against white supremacy and the police we can see the beginnings of a new Black Arts Movement.

But one of America’s ugliest secrets is that our own whistleblowers often don’t do so well after the headlines fade and cameras recede. The ones who don’t end up in jail like Manning, or in exile like Snowden, often still go through years of harassment and financial hardship. And while we wait to see if Loretta Lynch is confirmed as the next Attorney General, it’s worth taking a look at how whistleblowers in America fared under the last regime.

Boston Using Prison Labor To Shovel Heaps Of Snow In Frigid Temperatures For Pennies.

* Revealing scenes from the deranged thinking in the tech industry.

* SMBC messing with the primal forces.

* LARoB reviews Kelly Link’s Get in Trouble and Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s Guantánamo Diary and Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1.

* Clarissa Explains White Supremacy.

* Iceland begins to jail bankers.

* “College Apologizes for Way It Gave M&Ms to Children.”

* “Can There Be Too Many Museums?”

* “Which sexual positions are more likely to break your penis?”

Giant Ron English art-book: Status Factory.

* An excerpt from David Graeber’s The Rules of Utopia.

* Oral histories of the early days of the HIV epidemic.

* National Adjunct Walkout Day is growing near. It’s Time to Review Your Adjunct Employment Policies.

* Trying to create a promotion track outside the tenure stream at Denver.

* The adjunct unionization movement. And more on that.

* Campus cops prepare for National Adjunct Walkout Day.

* Here’s a thing about @OccupyMLA that uses me as its stooge for part of it. Yay?

* Interesting Kickstarter: “Pioneers of African-American Cinema.”

* “DoJ report on Montana justice: Don’t get raped in Missoula, even if you’re only five years old.”

Justice Department ‘seriously examining’ Ferguson race case.

* Another piece on the rise of the Title IX industry. Provocative Harvard Law Review forum on Title IX overreach. However bad we’re doing, though, we can certainly always do worse.

Perhaps with each tuition bill, students should receive a breakdown of how their dollars are spent.

* Academic hiring: The Trading Places hypothesis.

How Arizona State Reinvented Free-Throw Distraction.

* Best wishes, Ed Balls.

* The Oscars and racism. The Oscars and sexism.

* The Brazilian town where the Confederacy lives on.

* DC Comics is bringing back Prez, this time as a teenage girl who gets elected president by Twitter.

Holding Out For a Heroine: On Being a Woman and Loving Star Wars.

10 Worst Misconceptions About Medieval Life You’d Get From Fantasy Books.

* A rare piece from NRO worth linking: The Right-Wing Scam Machine.

Former Nazi Guard Charged with 170,000 Counts of Accessory to Murder. Take the plea deal!

The CIA asked me about controlling the climate – this is why we should worry.

To misappropriate the prophecy of another technological sage: the post-human dystopia is already here; it’s just not evenly distributed yet.

* Mark Bould has another post on Jupiter Ascending trying to wrangle its treatment of gender. Lots of good discussion of Princess Leia here too.

* Plans to whip us up into another invasion in the Middle East are proceeding apace.

* When horrific child abuse becomes quirk.

* Florida police officer: “Planting evidence and lying in your reports are just part of the game.”

* Cuteness in history. Why when you see something cute you (sometimes) want to destroy it.

Another Reason To Worry About The Measles.

Wearable Workplace “Mood Monitors” Are About To Become A Thing.

* A People’s History of Franklin.

* Asexuals and Demisexuals in Wired.

* Five-alarm nerd alert: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality has begun its final arc.

* Settlers of Catan: The Movie.

* And in case that’s not enough here’s some more proof we as a nation are still capable of great things.

clownarmy1

Written by gerrycanavan

February 20, 2015 at 11:37 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Tuesday Shazbat

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* The world is awash in Robin Williams remembrances today, but for my money I’d recommend his recent appearances on WTF and Harmontown. Louie. Longreads has also collected four essays and his appearance on Charlie Rose. Robin Williams’s Best Bad Movie. Suicide contagion and social media. How to report a suicide. The MetaFilter thread.

* It’s primary day in Wisconsin. Endorsements from Shepherd-Express.

* Eyewitness to Michael Brown shooting recounts his friend’s death. Police Reportedly Refused Offer to Interview Man Who Was With Michael Brown During Shooting. Police in Ferguson Fire Tear Gas on Protesters Standing in Their Own Backyard. Ferguson Police Cite Safety Risk in Decision Not to Name Officer in Shooting. Ferguson, MO, is 67 percent black, and its police force is 94 percent white. The FBI steps in to investigate ultimately sign off on everything’s that happened. Dystopia as how-to manual.

jamisonfoser_2014-Aug-12

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* Paramilitary Police Are Changing Law Enforcement in the Suburbs. Jon Burge, Torture, and the Militarization of the PoliceAmerican Gulag.

* Against civil forfeiture.

* Hillary Clinton’s campaign will be predicated on “peace, progress, and prosperity,” with “peace” defined as “forever war.”

ISIS Post PR Photos They Took With John McCain.

* CFP: Mean Girls.

* Nnedi Okorafor’s syllabus for ENGL 254: Science Fiction.

* On the greatness of Metroid.

* The NCAA Is a Wreck Now.

What’s less known, however, is that in the 2012 constitutional case, these same challengers filed briefs describing Obamacare to the court in precisely the way they now say the statute cannot possibly be read. Namely, they assumed that the subsidies were available on the federal exchanges and went so far as to argue that the entire statute could not function as written without the subsidies. That’s a far cry from their argument now that the statute makes crystal clear that Congress intended to deny subsidies on the federal exchanges.

* Ursula K. Le Guin: About Anger, Part I.

* The City and the City watch: a proposal that Israel and Palestine become grosstopic, overlapping states.

* Cary Nelson keeps digging: Zionist groups planned to lobby Univ. of Illinois trustees over Salaita appointment. Corey Robin has been coordinating some boycott campaigning for English and Political Science / Philosophy, though personally I think the English statement’s extension to tenure review cases is just too self-undermining to commit to.

* Announcing The Daily Show Podcast, without Jon Stewart.

* Marquette will give John Lewis an honorary degree at the new student convocation on August 20.

* California debates ‘yes means yes’ sex assault law.

Legislation passed by California’s state Senate in May and coming before the Assembly this month would require all schools that receive public funds for student financial assistance to set a so-called “affirmative consent standard” that could be used in investigating and adjudicating sexual assault allegations. That would be defined as “an affirmative, unambiguous and conscious decision” by each party to engage in sexual activity.

Silence or lack of resistance does not constitute consent. The legislation says it’s also not consent if the person is drunk, drugged, unconscious or asleep.

For some reason that escapes me, this is hugely controversial.

* The time Bruce Wayne had an affair with Barbara Gordon while she was dating Dick Grayson, impregnated her, before prompting her to head out and have a miscarriage while crimefighting. You know, for kids.

* Uber vs. Lyft: whoever wins, we lose.

* Apple’s workforce after 30 years of operation is still 70% male. And that’s better than most of the tech sector.

* Hoarders are the new Luddites.

Help a hoarder consolidate and safe-keep their things today. Lend them money to rent a storage locker. Volunteer to help them keep their things at your place. Their stuff is the final shred of resistance to the destruction of all non-Apple-approved human endeavors.

* Activision is making a new King’s Quest. Space Quest and Quest for Glory next!

How American Universities Have Destroyed Scholarship in the U.S.

* And because everything is a bummer today: Ponzi Scheme Capitalism: An Interview with David Harvey.

My question would be: can we not foresee a continuation of that ridiculousness for the foreseeable future, where you have one fiction built on another fiction, one crisis to the next?

Yes. I raise that question a bit in the book by saying there are these fictitious forms of capital that can continue to circulate and feed off each other, and they’re all Ponzi schemes, which can sometimes go on for a long time. Yes, there may be some possibility we’re moving into this era of fictitious capital formation and circulation, which is then managed by the central banks because they can just add zeros to the money supply at the drop of a hat, and have been doing so. First off, it seems to me increasingly senseless, and I suspect that people will start to say, well what’s the point of all of this? Secondly, I think the internal contradictions of that are that there’s going to be crashes, but then there have been financial crashes popping off all over the place for the last 20 years and capital has survived. For instance, there’s one in Indonesia, one in Argentina and then there’s one somewhere else. Dubai World goes bankrupt, somebody else goes bankrupt, there are all these asset bubbles popping up all over the place, and maybe we can continue in that vein for a while. But at some point, I think the possibilities will run out.

Written by gerrycanavan

August 12, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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The City & The City & The College

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Lee Skallerup Bessette talks The City & the City at College Ready Writing. I’ve mentioned before on Twitter how much I like teaching this book in my science fiction courses (as I’ll be doing this semester in just a week or so). I find that students key into the central seeing/unseeing trope immediately, especially in materially and psychically divided cities like Durham (where I used to teach) or Milwaukee (where I teach now). Students here know they live in an enclave; they know there’s a second city all around them that they aren’t a part of and that isn’t a part of them, with very clear territories and boundaries and no-man’s-lands that are an implicit part of their instruction from freshman orientation on. They recognize immediately that they’ve been taught and are being taught to unsee that other city’s life.

And a Few More Weekend Links

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* Someone has adapted China Miéville’s The City and the City for the stage in Chicago. Sold.

* Republicans legislating what answers should get full credit on homework in Oklahoma.

Last year’s program copped to the death of Hollywood cinema-as-art. All that was left was looking backward over a once-hallowed institution and weeping over the corpse. This year, though, the tears have dried. What we see instead is a clear vision of the utility of cinema. The 85th Academy Awards, like no show before it, will elevate films that are openly ideological, weaponized tools of the state.

Evil Middle School Teachers Prank Students with Fake Disney World Field Trip.

* And your headline of the decade: U.S. Government Plans To Air Drop Toxic Mice To Fight Snake Invasion.

‘Unsolving the City’

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Written by gerrycanavan

July 11, 2012 at 11:48 pm