Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Monday Quiz LIII

Great Composers

Only 15 days until Beethoven's Birthday!

1. This German composer:

…was the subject of this 1986 hit movie:

2. This Russian composer:

…wrote this famous ballet:

3. This German composer:

…is the reason we think of opera as looking like this:

4. This American composer:

…wrote this famous ballet:

5. This man:

is the most famous composer to have come from this country:

Submit your answers in the comments.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Thanksgiving Weekend Trifecta

Part I: Request For Bids

Description of Work:

I: A Masthead for this blog, The Life & Times of michael5000, created to the following specifications:
1) The Masthead must clearly show the blog's name.
2) The Masthead may, if desired, incorporate the mediaeval illustration "The Chariot of Venus," which can be found at:
3) The Masthead may, if desired, incorporate one or more interobangs.
4) The Masthead should be approximately 900 pixels wide. It may be of any height. It should be in a standard .jpg format.
5) The Masthead should convey such L&TM5K blog values as whimsy, an appreciation of art and/or history, cheerfulness, eclecticism, and dorkyness.
II: A Favicon coordinated to the Masthead, exactly 16 x 16 pixels in size.

III (optional): A "Christmas Masthead" identical to the above Masthead, but ringed with Christmas lights and/or otherwise modified with whimsical holiday decor.


A Bid for this project shall consist of two parts.

I) Content. In this section of the bid, the bidder should either
1) indicate a general plan or "vision" of their intended masthead, or:
2) mock up a rough draft or, what the heck, a final draft of the masthead, or:
3) make a vague promise to work on the masthead at some point in the future.
II) Compensation/Budget. In this section, the bidder should indicate how he or she expects to be compensated for his or her efforts. Bids may include, but are not limited to, any of the following forms of compensation:

1) lavish thanks
2) extremely flattering posts profiling the bidder
3) cookies
4) lap blankets made from 100% recycled materials
5) honorary titles
6) indulgences
7) assurances of future comments on the bidder's blog
8) labor
9) extremely modest amounts of money
Bids may be sent to M5KDecathlon[at] All submitted materials become the property of me, michael5000. Bring it, suckas.


Part II: Supplemental Reader-Request Quiz

By actual reader request, more or less, it's another non-canonical L&TM5K Quiz!
Countries of Africa: Identify 'em!










Part III: Michael Still Reads the Bible

Over at MRtB, I've closed up shop for the annual Winter Sabbatical after finishing up the books of Chronicles. I'll start it back up again sometime in January, with Ezra.

In two and a half years, I've finished 14 of the Bible's 66 books. That puts me only a woeful 21.2% of the way in. In chapters, though, I've finished 403 of 1189, which is a little more than a third of the way through (33.9%). My favorite measure is verses; having completed a whopping 12017 verses, I'm 38.6% of the way through the 31102-verse Bible. At this year's pace, I will wrap up in Summer 2011.

Those of you who have always wanted to go on a Bible-reading lag -- and who among us hasn't? -- I hardly need say that the next two months would be a perfect time for you to jump in and catch up with me. It shouldn't be too hard if you don't make my mistake and try to write down your thoughts about what you're reading. Just make it to Chronicles, and then from there we can read the read together, nice and slow! K? K.
Happy Thanksgiving Weekend.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Thursday Quiz LXII

The Thursday Quiz!

This season, the Thursday Quiz is a sequence game. Arrange the ten items in the proper sequence!

Happy Thanksgiving! This week's Thursday Quiz will be live through at least mid-day Saturday!

Remember always the Fundamental Rules of the Thursday Quiz:
1. The Thursday Quiz is a POP quiz. No research, Googling, Wikiing, or use of reference books. Violators will lose their internet privileges. All of them. Permanently.
2. As long as you made it this far, you might as well play. It's not all about winning, you know. It's about using your knowledge and reason and making an educated guess. C'mon! It'll be fun!

Here are ten well-known movies from the second half of the 20th Century. Put them in chronological order.

A: Back to the Future

B: The Big Lebowski

C: Bonnie and Clyde

D: Dr. Strangelove

E: Gandhi

F: The Godfather

G: Schindler's List

H: Star Wars

I: Sunset Boulevard

J: Twelve Angry Men
Post your answers in the comments.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Married Life With the 5000s

Mrs.5000 is reading a book about polar exploration. She remarks about how much cooperation and teamwork is required for humans to survive in that extreme environment.

michael5000: You could almost say "There is no 'I' in 'Arctic'."

Mrs.5000: rolls eyes

michael5000: Except there is, of course.

Mrs.5000: Yeah.

michael5000: thinks a bit....

You know, there's no "I" in "Belgium"...

Mrs.5000: Yes there is!

michael5000: Oh, damn, you're right!

...thinks some more...

You know, there's no "I" in "Mexico"...

Mrs.5000 (incredulous): Yes there is!

michael5000: Oh my god, you're right! There is! What's wrong with me?!

...thinks some more...

You know, there's no "I" in "Canada"...

Mrs.5000: speechless

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Great Movies: "Mr. Hulot's Holiday"

Mr. Hulot's Holiday
Jacques Tati, 1953

The first time I saw Jacques Tati's Mr. Hulot's Holiday, I didn't laugh as much as I thought I was supposed to. But I didn't forget the film, and I saw it again... and saw it a third and fourth time, and by then it had become part of my treasure. But I still didn't laugh as much as I thought I was supposed to, and now I think I understand why. It is not a comedy of hilarity, but a comedy of memory, nostalgia, fondness, and good cheer. There are some real laughs in it, but Mr. Hulot's Holiday gives us something rarer: an amused affection for human nature -- so odd, so valuable, so particular.

I quote Roger Ebert's introduction to this 1953 art-house hit at length to be fair to a movie that is undeniably quite gentle and well-intentioned. But like Ebert, I did not laugh while watching Mr. Hulot's Holiday as much as Jacque Tati might have hoped. Except, I didn't laugh at all. The film consists of a long string of episodic misadventures and sight gags, all of them relying on either physical humor or the very broadest kind of social parody ("The old man is checking out the beautiful girl, and it pisses his wife off! Awesome!") Obviously, a lot of people like this kind of thing -- witness Laurel and Hardy, the Three Stooges, Benny Hill, and so on up to the present -- but it has always left me cold.

But let me back up a minute, because I fibbed a bit when I said I didn't laugh at all. I actually did laugh a few times at and/or with the lovely Mrs.5000, who seemed to find the movie charming and even perhaps a bit funny. Since regular readers will have gathered that Mrs.5000 is no dumb cluck, I have to concede that maybe this is a nice enough movie and that I am just a humorless bastard. Can Mrs.5000 and Roger Ebert both be wrong?

Plot: A bunch of French people, including the eponymous Mr. Hulot, go for a holiday at a seaside town. They hang out for a while, often acting in an unnatural fashion so that something nominally amusing can occur. Then they go home.

Visuals: Very competently shot in black and white.

Dialog: Minimal. Mr. Hulot's Holiday could be adapted to a silent film without losing a thing. Far more prominent than human speech is the main theme, a jazzy little number that sounds hip and swingin' when you first encounter it, but makes you want to hurl something at the screen by the six hundredth repetition. I could not help but note, eventually, that it is more or less "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" rendered in 4/4 time.

Prognosis: If you are fond of slapstick, I have reason to believe that this is top-of-the-line slapstick.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Monday Quiz LII

Aerial Images: Countries

In recognition that this might be one of those difficultish Quizzes, you've got six chances to make five this week. Happy travels!

1. This image is centered on the southwest Asian country of ______________.

2. What two countries are constrasted in this night image?

3. What country is this?

4. What country can be seen in its entirety in this image?

5. This image shows ____________, which is one of the wealthiest countries in the world on a per capita basis.

6. What country can be seen in its entirety in this somewhat tricksy image?

Submit your answers in the comments.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The L&TM5K Annual Strategic Planning Retreat

Yes, it's time already for L&TM5K management to get away from the distractions of the office in order to devote some thought to the blog's overall "vision," and otherwise navel-gaze. Last year we tackled the mission statement; this year we'll be taking a closer look at the operational details. Everybody got some coffee? Donut? Copy of the agenda? Let's begin.

The Agenda

1) Overall Look and Branding

a) The "Favicon."
Was introduced about three weeks ago. Nobody mentioned it. We assume everyone is stunned into silence by its awesomeness.

b) The Masthead. Recently modified to include Interobang. Again, response was rather... muted.

Discussion: I kind of like the "Progress of Venus" masthead. It's whimsical and absurd, as I'd like to think the blog's content is, and it reminds me of drschnell's very nice complement that "this is some parade, yessiree Bob."

But not everybody loves it. What do you think? Should we stick with it, or do we need a fresh masthead?

c) The Advertising Campaign. This has actually been a lot of fun, and has generated a little extra traffic. But, it's difficult to find logical places to advertise -- where do potential L&TM5K readers hang out, anyway? Also, I'm not selling anything. Probably should not spend too much money on this.

d) The Keywords. I continue to have a hell of a time coming up with a coherent description of the content. The current description is probably still "My Life. Like you care." This is accurate enough, but not really likely to draw the crowds in.

2) Content

a) Quantity. At some point, I decided this was a daily show, and although no one in the world could possibly notice or care when I miss a day, it drives me batty. That's me -- a man with a great sense to devotion and commitment... to his hobby.

Sometimes I worry, though, that the sheer volume of blather on this blog requires more stamina that I have the right to expect anyone to read, even if you count The Great Movies as days off. Concommitant with this is the risk of burning out -- which, surprisingly, hasn't happened yet, but it's still something to watch out for.

So, there are three new innovations in the works:
1 - Fewer megaposts. Take the Advertising Extravaganza, for instance. That could have been four separate posts! Probably should have been!
2 - A few new features that are more image-oriented, less wordy.
3 - Occasional reruns! Hey, most of the current readers weren't around in 2007. And there's GOLD in some of those old posts! GOLD! Says me.
b) Quality. Hey, I do my best. Between Margaret, Rex, and Mrs.5000, I even often remember to use a spellchecker these days. Not a lot of room to maneuver here, though.

c) Quizzes. I continue to operate under the assumption that people who like the Quizzes like them more than people who hate the Quizzes hate them.

OK, at this point, let's open it up to new business, Q&A, and/or a second run at the donut box....

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Thursday Quiz LXI

The Thursday Quiz!

This season, the Thursday Quiz is a sequence game. Arrange the ten items in the proper sequence! The highly rational scoring system is described here.

Remember always the Fundamental Rules of the Thursday Quiz:

1. The Thursday Quiz is a POP quiz. No research, Googling, Wikiing, or use of reference books. Violators will lose their internet privileges. All of them. Permanently.
2. As long as you made it this far, you might as well play. It's not all about winning, you know. It's about using your knowledge and reason and making an educated guess. C'mon! It'll be fun!
Great Events of Mid-Century

All of the events below happened in the '40s and '50s.... but of ten different centuries! Put them in chronological order.

A: African Independence: The African countries of Libya, Sudan, Morocco, Ghana, and Tunisia all become independent.

B: Cape Town: Cape Town is founded by the Dutch East India Company near the southern tip of Africa.

C: The Crimean War: The Crimean War is fought between Imperial Russia and an alliance of the United Kingdom, France, Sardinia, and the Ottoman Empire.

D: The Great Schism: Pope Leo IX and Michael Cerularius, Patriarch of Constantinople, excommunicate each other. This seals the Great Schism between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

E: Japan and the West: Japan and Europe encounter each other for the first time, with the Portuguese being the first Westerners to contact the Japanese.

F: The Mongols: As the Mongols continue their rapid expansion all over Eurasia, the Hulagu Khan's armies sack Baghdad. The leading center of Islamic culture is utterly destroyed, and as many as 800,000 citizens are killed.

G: The Plague: Bubonic Plague kills as much as a third of Europe's population -- estimates vary widely, but suffice to say a hell of a lot of people -- within four or five years.

H: The Printing Press: The first European moveable-type printing presses enter widespread use.

I: The Second Crusade: European Crusaders are soundly defeated by the Suljuk Turks in the Eastern Mediterranean, but on the Iberian Peninsula they manage to capture Lisbon from Muslims.

J: The Seven Years' War: The Seven Years' War is fought between an alliance of Great Britain, Hanover, and Austria; and an alliance of Austria, France, Imperial Russia, Saxony, and Sweden.

Post your answers in the comments.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I Liked Some Books

David Sedaris, When You Are Engulfed in Flames

This new collection of essays by America's greatest living humorist is, as Karin would say, hiLARRYus! Really. When I say it's "laugh out loud funny," I mean that I was frequently howling with laughter, pounding the armrest, gasping for breath, and rolling back and forth in helpless convulsions of mirth. Mrs.5000 would glance up from her long, difficult, experimental French novel with a look that, if not exactly distainful, at least carried the hint of a suggestion that I might be overdoing it. This, of course, would set me right off again, and although at no point was I actually rolling on the floor per se, it was touch and go a few times.

Topics include, you know, things like family, language, life, death, international travel, and the struggle against tobacco addiction. But it hardly matters. Sedaris could make a trip to the morgue funny. In fact, he does.

John Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man makes me vaguely wish I was still teaching world geography, just because it would be such great fodder for classroom conversation. The author chronicles his involvement in international economic consulting during the 1960s and 1970s, and presents a lapsed insider's look at the business end of neocolonialism. His claim, in a nutshell, is that governments and the "corporatocracy" deliberately colluded to cripple the developing world, tricking countries into acquiring a massive foreign debt that would ensure their permanent subjection to the established order.

Perkins doesn't really bring much to the table that is both new and verifiable, but for people who have paid some attention to modern geopolitical history it's an interesting new perspective. For people who have not paid attention to modern geopolitical history, it could be a pretty accessible introduction. The material can be a bit depressing, but the autobiographical format and the sheer force of Perkins' personality and big-as-the-moon ego have enough entertainment value to keep you reading.

But What Next From The Reading List?

With help from Blog Dork Rex Parker and Vice Dork Rebel, each of whom selected a random number for me, I have chosen the next two books off of the official L&TM5K reading list. I am well into The Big Sleep, not exactly the most rigorous book on the syllabus. Kafka's The Trial is on deck. I'll let you know what I think of 'em. It's what I do.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Great Movies: "Floating Weeds"

At the Movies with Michael5000

Floating Weeds
Yasujiro Ozu, 1959

It's a familiar enough story -- a traveling theater group that has seen better days arrives in a remote Japanese village. The cast tries to make the show go on, pursuing their stormy relationships with each other and the locals. It's a solid vehicle for exploring themes like conflicted loyalties, the choices makes between ideals and practicalities, and the way we deal with our own relentless aging. Ozu develops the theme nicely, delivering no fireworks but an amiable blend of poignant moments, quirky vignettes, and laughs.

Ebert tells us that Floating Weeds was long regarded as "too Japanese" for Western audiences. This isn't particularly unreasonable; although the outline of the plot is easy enough to follow, it is tricky to figure out the cultural nuances. I spent a lot of time, for instance, trying to decide whether two key characters were in love, or old friends, or combatants rehashing old resentments, or all three, and for that matter whether this relationship was being presented as normal, or novel, or daring, or what. Watching as a person unschooled in Japanese domestic ritual, you recognize the human universals but have to do a lot of guessing about the cultural specifics.

Plot: The director of a theater troupe has a current girlfriend and an ex-girlfriend, the later with a son who doesn't know who his father really is. Jealous, the current girlfriend sets the boy up with another actress from the company, a match she knows the director will consider beneath his son. Personal dramas ensue.

Visuals: The film has a really interesting visual design. The camera is static, rarely if ever moving or zooming, and every shot is framed by the geometries of the village's architecture. And I mean "framed" quite literally; the right, left, top, and bottom edges of almost every scene as marked by strong architectural lines. The effect is almost like watching a drama unfold in a dollhouse, and in addition to being visually arresting it complements the quiet, contained domestic passions of the story.

Dialogue: In Japanese, with subtitles.

Prognosis: Highly recommended for fans of domestic drama, Japanese culture, or Japanese residential architecture. Not a slam dunk for general entertainment, however.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Monday Quiz LI

Sport -- a conceptual approach

1. This diagram shows a possible course of action in the game of ______________.

2. You need one of these to play a legal game of _________________.

3. What sport are these gentlemen playing?

4. In what athletic competition would you have to contend with this?

5. What is this man telling us?

5a. Or, if you come from New Zealand or Spain or someplace exotic like that, or if you are an effete intellectual, or a member of "the creative class," you may instead identify what sort of contest the following apply to. (Yes, they are in feet, but the shapes are to an international standard.)

Submit your answers in the comments.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Michael5000's Internet Funhouse 2008!

It has been a year since the first Michael5000's Internet Funhouse, and y'all are probably asking yourself "how am I going to use the internets to goof off this winter?" This year, the Internet Funhouse is focussing on casual internet games -- the most compelling way humans have devised to piss away our collective lifespans since the immortal Philo Farnsworth invented television! I'll be sharing some of my favorite game titles from the past year, and I emphatically recommend that you avoid following the links at all costs! Your time would be much better spent writing a novel or fighting for social justice.

Action Games

What red-blooded American man doesn't occasionally enjoy pretending to be one of the stars of the women's tennis circuit? The imaginatively named Tennis Game, from Gamedesign, offers you this opportunity! It features surprisingly compelling and tennis-like gameplay, plus a goofy awards ceremony if you win the tournament. Can cause carpel-tunnel like symptoms if overindulged in.

Dogfight 2, from Rock Solid Arcade, is an alarmingly engrossing and kind of pretty cartoon simulation of WWI aerial combat. Not recommended for people who don't like games in which you pretend to kill people. Highly recommended for anyone who has ever had a hankering to shoot down a really big zeppelin.

Abstract Shape Games

Magic Pen, by Alejandro Guillen, is a nicely-realized example of a new genre of "physics" games. The goal is to knock little circles into flags, and to that end you sketch ramps, levers, falling objects, and other miscellaneous shapes that materialize where you have drawn them and interact according to the laws of gravity and momentum. Good wonky fun.

The Eyeballing Game, which I was alerted to last week by MyDogIsChelsea, is extremely simple -- you are just testing and honing your skills at geometric estimation. "Eyeballing," if you will. More fun than it sounds. Would be ideal, incidently, for scientifically testing the effect of alcohol on one's cognitive and fine motor skills. Report back on what you find out!

Games Which, Strangely Enough, Involve the Google Search Engines

Guess the Google, by Grant Robinson, shows you a montage of Google Image results for a specific keyword, which you must then guess. It can be incredibly easy or fiendishly difficult, depending of which keywords you get.

Where on Google Earth is a puzzle blog that provides a weekly aerial image of someplace on Earth. You try to figure out where the place is. It is wicked hard. Ironically, it doesn't work with Reader, so you have to remember to stop by every week.

Really Odd Games

In Launch the Hedgehog, from Armor Games, you attempt to fire a small mammal into orbit with a slingshot to the strains of hard rock music. It's harder than it sounds.

Finally, American Public Media's Budget Hero is probably the most educational game you'll play this year. Make decisions about Federal spending and tax policy, and see if you can leave your grandchildren a functioning social order! It's disturbingly challenging! Hint: it's basically impossible if you leave the Bush tax cuts in place. But you knew that.

What about Comix?

The only online comic I read regularly is Basic Instructions, which is great, but I just don't feel like I'm taking full advantage of this opportunity to goof off. I welcome recommendations of other humorous drawn entertainment that's available online. 'Cause I've heard there's quite a bit.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Thursday Quiz Mixes It Up

With the dust settled on the Sixth Season of the Thursday Quiz, it's time to announce our winners!

Congratulations! the brainy, insightful, erudite, and highly attractive Sixth Season Champions -- a category that includes everyone who took the Thursday Quiz since August, but especially applies to:

gs49 -- The defending Fifth Season successfully defends his title. He dominates Season Six by earning five Stars, two of them Gold!

DrSchnell -- The Third Season champion returns with four Stars: a Gold, a Silver, and two Blues!

la gringissima -- A complete collection of Stars -- Gold, Silver, Blue, and Green -- propels la gringissima to her first Top Three season.

Mrs.5000 -- Four stars, two Silver, a green, and a Blue, earn Mrs.5K another fourth-place finish.

Karmasartre -- A Silver and three Greens continue Karma's successful run.

Season Seven: The Sequences

For 60 weeks now, the L&TM5K has hosted a weekly Thursday Quiz. Over that time, it has grown from an eclectic, inconsistently challenging puzzle with a small core of regular enthusiasts into, into, well... an eclectic, inconsistently challenging puzzle with a small core of regular enthusiasts. Except now it's like a tradition or something.

All through that long and storied history, the format has been unchanging... until now. The Seventh Season of the Thursday Quiz unveils a new format: the Sequence Quiz.

It will work like so: You will be given ten items, that you need to be placed in order. For instance, you might get this list:

...and be asked to put those words in numerical order. Except, it will generally be a little harder than that. Give it a try next Thursday, November 20!


It's a simple puzzle, but it's complicated to score. We'll do like this: for every item that you have out of sequence, you will lose 1 point for every step it is out of sequence. Here are some examples, if you are a glutton for punishment:

1 2 4 3 5 6 7 8 9 10 = -2, one point off for both 3 & 4.
1 2 5 3 4 6 7 8 9 10 = -4, one point off for both 3 & 4, two points off for 5.
1 8 3 4 5 6 7 2 9 10 = -12, six points off for both 2 & 8.
If you leave out an item, you'll lose three points and I'll fit the remaining items to your best advantage.

1 2 3 4 6 7 8 9 10 = -3 for leaving out the 5.

2 4 1 6 7 9 10 5 = -18, -6 for leaving out two items, -12 for items out of sequence.

Plausibly Asked Questions:

Why the change?

I want to try out the sequence quiz idea, and three quizzes a week sounds like too much even to me.

But the Stars! What about the Stars?!

Stars will continue the same, with one exception: on sequence Quizzes, Green Stars will be awarded to those who tie OR ARE ONLY ONE POINT BELOW third place.

Is this a permanent change?

If everybody loves it, sure. If everybody hates it, we'll switch back next season if anybody is still around. If everybody's all, like, whatever, then maybe we'll mix it up going forward. We'll see.

Could you explain that scoring system again?


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Clearance Sale Quiz: Quoting Sarah Palin

Only eight days past its sell-by date, it's
the L&TM5K Sarah Palin Quote Quiz!!!
a Karmasartre/michael5000 joint

DID she or DIDN'T she say it?

1. "As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where– where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border."

2. "We believe that the best of America is not all in Washington, D.C. ... We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation."

3. "Now you'll hear some people saying, they'll say, 'how can someone from way up there in Alaska understand what things are like here in Mississippi?' But there are a lot of things that Alaska and the South have in common that most people just don't expect. For example, I like pork rinds. But that doesn't fit the mold."

4. “I have more executive experience than Barack Obama even has.”

5. “In politics, there are some candidates who might use change to promote their careers. And then there are those who don’t, like John McCain, who would never use their careers to promote change.”

6. "Well, let's see. There's ― of course in the great history of America there have been rulings that there's never going to be absolute consensus by every American, and there are those issues, again, like Roe v. Wade, where I believe are best held on a state level and addressed there. So, you know, going through the history of America, there would be others but ―"

7. "They are also building schools for the Afghan children so that there is hope and opportunity in our neighboring country of Afghanistan."

8. "Yes" is what I say to good ideas. I'm all about "yes". That's why I've gotten so much done in all my executive position experiences, and why I'll do a good job as vice-president."

9. "I told the Congress, 'Thanks, but no thanks,' on that Bridge to Nowhere."

10. "As a governor, I have to be faced every hour of every day with the kinds of decisions about health care, and taxes, and defense -- things like that, executive decisions -- that as a Senator, Barack Obama and Joe Biden don't, he doesn't need to make."

11. "If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations then I don't know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media."

12. "I'm the mayor, I can do whatever I want until the courts tell me I can't."

13. "When it comes to maverick -- I just think the American people need to ask themselves, who is the real maverick in this election? Because it's not, not Barrack Obama. It's John McCain who is the maverick that the American people want in the White House!"

14. “Well, there’s Chief Justice Roberts of course, and that great American Clarence Thomas, and isn’t it just -- I just think it's wonderful that people of any color can rise to elected office in this great United States of America.”

The L&TM5K Sarah Palin Quote Quiz is a production of the Life & Times of Michael5000 -- michael5000, executive producer.

Based upon a concept by Karmasartre.
Authentic Quotes Research: Karmasartre
Inauthentic Quote Fabrication: michael5000 & Karmasartre
Quiz Sequencing: michael5000
Authentic Quotes Production: Governor Sarah L. H. Palin

Special Thanks to: the mainstream media

The L&TM5K Sarah Palin Quote Quiz should be played for entertainment purposes only.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Great Movies: "The Maltese Falcon"

The Maltese Falcon
John Huston, 1941

The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep are sufficiently similar that, before I started this project, I wouldn't have been able to tell you which was which. Both are about smart tough-guy private investigators who are misled and misdirected by their dodgy yet irresistible female clients. Both feature protagonists who must live in a tainted world of greed and squalor in defense of a moral code. Both are definitive movies in the film noir tradition, movies that did much to define the archetype of the hard-boiled detective in the cinematic.

I loved The Big Sleep. I expected to love The Maltese Falcon. But I didn't.

As a detective story, Maltese Falcon is certainly the more coherent of the two. The Big Sleep is notoriously indifferent to its own plot; key scenes that were necessary to understand what was going on were left on the cutting room floor. Falcon, by contrast, is rather at pains to clear up who did what, and why. Oddly, though, this turns out to be completely unsatisfying. The mysterious and randomness of Sleep made played into the dominant mood of the movie, and left you with an impression of heroes trying to carve out stability amidst chaos. The exposition of actions and motives in Falcon, though, is just kind of tedious.

As a relationship story, Maltese Falcon is nowhere near as compelling as the later movie. The Bogart and Bacall characters in The Big Sleep move us because of the plausibility of their attraction for each other; they are both highly intelligent, sensitive people stuck in social environments where their intellect is not valued. You understand why they are falling for each other -- they are just damned excited to have found someone worth talking to.

The characters in The Maltese Falcon, by contrast, are mean, cold, and superficial. Bogart's Sam Spade is unconcerned when his partner gets plugged in the first reel, when his partner's new widow throws herself at him, and ultimately when he turns his sniveling supposed love interest over to the police. He's an interesting enough study in self-absorption, and preaches a fine sermon at the end about his personal code of ethics, but the idea of him really shooting off sparks with anyone comes off as pretty unlikely.

The Falcon itself is a classic example of an item that exists only to set the plot of a movie in motion. It is a random thing that, because people covet it, it causes them to act badly. We might expect that this would be used by the movie to make some sort of point, if only the observation that the coveting of material things can lead to unhappiness. But nah. It's just there to drive events, with all of the subtlety and sophistication of a Hardy Boys novel.

Plot: Dame in distress comes to detective's office with a simple request. Next thing you know, the case gets more complicated. Everybody is looking for the Maltese Falcon, but where could it possibly be? Eventually it shows up, although in a manner so absurdly improbable it might as well have been borne into the scene by a flight of angels.

Visuals: Probably more interesting than I would give them credit for. Reading about the movie after watching it, I saw references to some cinematographic tricks that I hadn't noticed.

Dialogue: There's some cracking wise, but not with the same panache we've seen in other noir movies.

Prognosis: Well, it's your quintessential old movie. If you like old movies, it's a good 'un. If you don't like old movies, you'll probably join me in thinking that its reputation has got a bit ahead of its reality.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Monday Quiz Turns One

The Monday Quiz is back from Mexico and ready to announce

the winners of the Fifth Season!

The Fifth Season champion, who won four out of the ten possible Exclaimation Points, is: Chance! This feather in his cap should be a confidence booster as he prepares to participate in a better known, televised quiz at some point in the near future. Serious!

And there are four Fifth Season runners-up, each of whom took three Exclaimation Points: the lovely Mrs.5000, the lovely la gringissima, the lovely Karmasartre, and the lovely Nichim.


A Year of the Monday Quiz

You have now been enduring... er, make that enjoying the Monday Quiz for a full year! I'm sure it hasn't been quite as much fun for you as for me, but I hope you are having a good time with it. At the very least, it is kind of you to humor me.

In any event, I thought we would take this special occasion to take a look inside the virtual trophy cases of some the legends of the Monday Quiz World:

Fans of the Monday Quiz will be happy to hear that two (2) additional seasons -- that's 20 full Quizzes! -- have been given the greenlight by Quiz Central, and their topics are already planned and on the calendar. MQLI will kick off the second year and the Sixth Season next Monday, November 17, on the normal schedule. No disruptions or controversial format changes or anything. Not like the Thursday Quiz. For you lurkers out there, it's as good a time as any to throw your hat in the ring.

Meanwhile, of course, the L&TM5K will continue dishing up its daily helping of engaging commentary, criticism, and information. Like tomorrow, I'll probably review some old movie or something!