30 November 2010

A Tale of Two Harvards

Justin here. By now most people have either seen The Social Network, or decided you didn't want to see this year's best picture front runner. It's a great film, whether or not it follows the facts of how Facebook was created is another story that will be debated as long as Mark Zuckerberg is a private citizen. I've recently read the book which inspired the film, Ben Mezrich's The Accidental Billionaires, and noticed a few things the readers/viewers should take into account. According to the author he was never able to get an interview with Zuckerberg himself. The accidental billionaire apparently never called him back.

That may have been a mistake on Zuckerberg's part, or maybe not.There are sections of the book that are blatantly noted to be pure speculation, such as how he hacked different dorm's facebooks by breaking in and hooking up his laptop while hiding under a desk, in order to get his facemash.com site launched. Maybe the flaw with this book is that everyone who has a stake in bad PR for Zuckerberg was interviewed for this book, but no one from the Zuckerberg camp threw in their two cents. That said, this book is highly entertaining, and can be pretty funny from time to time.

More after the jump

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25 November 2010

We're away getting stuffed!

Be back soon!


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24 November 2010

Our Beautiful Dark Twisted Review

Kanye West's new album came out Monday and we've spent the last two days listening to it on repeat so we could tell you what we think.  While we (especially Mallory) may not care for him as an individual, it's hard to deny him respect as an artist.  He seems to have the idea that he outdid himself with this one, considering the amount/type of promotion his camp put out leading up to the album's release.  For each of the 13 Fridays leading up to November 12, Kanye released a remixed or original version of a song on his website for free download.  About a month before the album came out Kanye put out his acting and directorial debut in the form of his short film, "Runaway." 

Yes, it involves a Phoenix, some bad acting by West, and some odd cinematography but it showcases the music from the album in an original way. We halfheartedly approve.

With the exception of the song "Runaway" (his response to last year's VMA/Taylor Swift fiasco), the singles were pretty well chosen.  "Power," "Monster," and the upcoming "All the Lights" are all standouts.  However our favorite song is the album opener "Dark Fantasy."  The song is a much grander opening than previous efforts. It samples 1987's "In High Places" by Mike Oldfield, in which Oldfield sings out "Can we get much higher?!" which brings the music to a stop with a chorus of singers and piano followed by an interlude with a nice string sample.  It's the pauses in the song that show this is album has a greater presence.

"Monster" features some striking lyrics by the incredible Jay Z (Justin's favorite rapper behind Notorious B.I.G.).   But the winner for best flow on the entire album would have to go to Nikki Minaj in this song:

 And if I'm fake I ain't notice cause my money ain't
 So let me get this straight, wait, I'm the rookie?
 But my features and my shows ten times your pay
 50k for a verse and no album out!

Her rapping it sounds much cooler than us typing it. It also sounds much cooler than Kanye's pitiful attempts at singing, which he interjects into a few songs, but is most prominent in "Runaway." Stick to your day job, Kanye. However poor choral skills is something you do have in common with Taylor Swift, so maybe y'all can continue to make amends over that.  Jay Z probably said it best on "Death of Autotune" on the Blueprint 3 that T-Pain should be the only one to use the studio trick.  

While this album is definitely not for everyone, especially those who don't like explicit lyrics, it is a game changer.  If you have an opportunity to check out (probably away from work) you should.  Love him or hate him, Kanye has come out with one of the best rap albums of they year.

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22 November 2010

For the Love of Fur!

Mallory's turn. Now you- being the savvy blog followers that you undoubtedly are- probably already know this, but fur had a big presence during fashion week for fall 2010 and transitioning into winter. Lots of designers (think Lanvin, Roberto Cavalli, Marc Jacobs) sent fur-clad models down their runways, and I've got to say I couldn't be happier about it. Fur is classic in the way that only pearls, Jackie O and Chanel could be. That said, not every look we saw from these designers would necessarily be appropriate to wear to the office... or anywhere for that matter...

One even had a dress embellished with what looked like human fur, er, hair-

Joking aside, they've actually made it easy on us in that there are plenty of wearable pieces available out there. Even the most skeptical fashionista (or fashionisto?) could find something that she (or he!) could feel comfortable sporting. One great way to ease into the trend is to carry a fur adorned bag. You can get the swanky look without too much risk.

If you're feeling a little more daring, opt for a vest or coat. Either can completely change the feel of an outfit. A simple, girly dress becomes a luxe dinner ensemble with the addition of boots and a fur coat. A fur vest and some necklaces can transform a tee and jeans into a pulled together look. Not to mention these pieces will keep the warm in and the cold out! You can bet that a mink vest (a gift from when I was a child, does that make it vintage?) is going to be part of my Thanksgiving 2010 ensemble!

Now I probably should have come to this earlier, but because not everyone is comfortable wearing actual fur, there are boundless options in faux. You haven't been left out, vegans! Now to those of you who think artificual fur looks a little garish, I present this challenge: Tell me which of two vests below is faux and which is real.


You can't tell, can you? Sorry, but that's information I'm not going to disclose. Happy shopping!

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21 November 2010

Kinecting With Folks

Justin here. I was lucky enough to receive an Xbox360 Kinect for my 28th birthday. It is a lot of fun for everyone. Our friend Bob came over tonight to see what all the mess was about and it already looks like he's got the fever.

A lot of people might ask, "why would I want a kinect when I already have a Nintendo Wii?" which is a valid question and one I hope to answer here in a few. The Kinect has a "Big Brother-like" ability to recognize your face, meaning it identifies a player when he or she just stands in front of the camera. In the picture below Bob is running the Kinect ID facial recognition program.

The facial recognition is actually a great feature for families to control kids' behaviors. For example, since the Xbox can tell which family member is playing, if you don't want your 6 year old to play a Grand Theft Auto type game the Kinect will know which child has signed in and not allow them to play. The Kinect also features an incredible voice recognition software. I've suffered from a nasty cold lately, and even with my nasally voice I was able to command the Xbox to pull up the recently added ESPN application. It live streamed USA vs South Africa in the Nelson Mandela Cup in Capetown. I did this all whilst under a blanket without moving any part of my body. Did I mention I was watching it live?
There are a few other features I have yet to try out like the Video Kinect, which is mostly due to the lack of friends who have Kinect. Right now I only have one other friend who has one, and we can't seem to catch each other online at the same time to try it out. However the Kinect itself is similar to the Wii in that it does get you off the couch to play it's games. Right now I have only played Kinect Adventures and Fighters Uncaged. Both will wear you out, but thus far we're still playing it and if this were a Wii, we would have stopped by now and not picked it up for 10 months.

Now its still important to note that not every game for the xbox is suddenly hands free. Halo: Reach is definitely still a controller based game and still a lot of fun if you enjoy the Halo series. The Kinect is something that will (fingers crossed) help get America into shape through aerobic exercises disguised as games. If you can try to get your hands on one.

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20 November 2010

Beginning With An End

It seems slightly ironic that our first post would focus on the conclusion of an institution. However, the film projector hasn't even cooled off yet and we already can't wait to discuss Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (part I). We might be what one would call fanatics- having read all the books and seen the previous movies- and fanatics, as you may know, are not easy to impress. 

As many fans of the books have come to realize since the first film, this film did not contain every scene from the book.  One from the book we would have liked to have seen in the movie was a scene at the beginning with Harry and his cousin Dudley, in which Dudley actually apologizes for being awful to Harry for all those years and thanks him for saving him at the beginning of Order of the Phoenix.  Instead the filmmakers opted to show a more emotionally impressive scene with Hermione removing her parents memories of her from their lives.  For the first time in all seven of these movies Emma Watson has really stood out amongst her cast mates.  While the filmmakers often frustrate the hardcore fans of the books by excising these scenes, it is understandable why they do, especially when in this film they've split it in two just to get as much of the book in there as possible.  The stakes haven't been higher, and for the first time our protagonists are actually embarked upon a quest, sent out into the real world with no help from the adults they have always relied on. 

While most of the reviews out there will focus on how this is a dramatic movie (we don't disagree), and this is the most dangerous and serious of the lot, a six year old would probably switch back and forth from fear to boredom quickly, we do appreciate the occasional wit.  We don't want to ruin anything for you, but Justin found one scene involving a flame to be quite hilarious.  Mallory tends to fall asleep in movies and/or gets squirmy after a while, but this time when the credits began to role even she had no idea that 2 and a half hours had passed.  Having read all the books we knew what was going to happen, but it's been two years for Justin and one for Mallory so we were excited to see what was to come.  A fellow patron two rows behind Justin was way too excited and would announce what was about to happen every couple of scenes.

There are some truly touching scenes in this film, and being a film about magic and wizards it is still capable of maintaining the most realism of all the films.  This isn't the children's film you saw ten years ago at Thanksgiving with your family.  Watching this film we felt we had just as much at stake as the Weasley family (and if you don't know who we are referring to you might want to start at the first film).  We both highly recommend fans of the series see this.  We won't tell you what the Deathly Hallows are, you'll have to watch the movie for that.  In the meantime here's a clip to pique your interest, in case we haven't already.

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