Mary Rowe retiring from role as ombudsman
The MIT Ombuds Office, according to its mission statement, “helps people express concerns, resolve disputes, manage conflicts, and learn more productive ways of communicating” and serves as a neutral resource to the MIT community. Last year, MIT’s two ombudsmen received about 800 visitors, who collectively raised 3800 different issues, including academic concerns, interpersonal problems, and requests for referrals. Mary Rowe, one of MIT’s ombudsmen, is retiring from her position this year.
A good conversation about bad words
Jason Bateman might be well known as the affable pushover Michael Bluth on Arrested Development, but he leads Bad Words as the sarcastic antihero Guy Trilby, who hijacks a spelling bee for children and tells off anyone who questions him. The type of role is not all that’s new here: the film is also Bateman’s first time in the director’s chair. He was recently available for a college press roundtable, where he discussed the difficult balance between caustic and sweet that was needed to make this film work.
Aaron Paul has a need for speed
Aaron Paul is best known for his role as Jesse Pinkman on “Breaking Bad,” and he’s a champion of independent films as well. But while DreamWorks’ Need For Speed is a major studio release and is based on a video game franchise no less, it was too fun a role for him to turn down.
Clickbait the movie
This movie is a real mixed bag. It has the makings of a good story: we follow Guy Trilby (Jason Bateman), who has found a loophole in the rules of The Golden Quill National Spelling Bee. A contestant can’t have completed 8th grade by February 1st, and 40-year-old Guy never finished the eighth grade at all. He makes it all the way to nationals while dodging everyone’s questions about why he’s pulling this stunt, brushing off even Jenny Widgeon (Kathryn Hahn), a reporter from the news website that’s sponsoring him. On the way, he meets ten-year-old Chaitainya Chopra (Rohan Chand), a seemingly innocent foil.
High-octane and death-defying
Scott Waugh directs a film that only a former stuntman like himself would be able to pull off so well. Need For Speed is a modern homage to classic car films like “American Graffiti,” with all of the racing and stunts you’d expect and some depth that you might not.
James Ashby on Starpocalypse
James Ashby founded SMBC Theater with Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comics writer Zach Weinersmith in 2009, and they have just released Starpocalypse, the first of three planned web series.
Of aliens and orgasms
Fans of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (SMBC) rejoice — the long awaited, crowd-funded webcomic series has finally launched! Starpocalypse, the first of three series, is a space opera set in the far future where the last liberal arts professor and his brother, a physics professor, have outlived their usefulness to a society where everyone can achieve instant orgasms through existing technology. In a desperate attempt to find some purpose for philosophy, they encounter a being in outer space who claims that she is the long-lost god who created humanity. But she’s entirely mad and takes them hostage. They can either refuse to take her to Earth and die a painful, head exploding death or rely on their academic prowess to convince her to spare humanity and humanity to worship her. After all, any sufficiently advanced alien is indistinguishable from god.
Too emotionally cold-blooded for a mammalian audience
Walking With Dinosaurs draws on what is currently known in paleontology to tell a coming-of-age story about a young Pachyrhinosaurus named Patchi (Justin Long), who tries to win over his crush, Juniper (Tiya Sircar), while being bullied by his brother, Scowler (Skyler Stone). The directors, Barry Cook, who is best known as an effects animator with Disney, and Neil Nightingale, who was the executive producer of several nature documentaries, teamed up to create a fictional extension of the acclaimed BBC miniseries of the same title. The 3D computer animated dinosaurs roam a beautiful live background filmed in Alaska and New Zealand while they face predators, fires and teenage drama.
A spoonful of saccharine
It should come as no surprise that a movie with the Walt Disney Company imprimatur shows their founder as a kindly fellow, who insists that he only wants to make a film adaptation of Mary Poppins to fulfill a promise he made to his daughters when they were children.
Science fiction writer and MIT professor Joe Haldeman on his newest book
Joe Haldeman is a well-known science fiction author and adjunct professor in CMS/writing at MIT. He recently spoke with The Tech about his latest novel, Work Done For Hire.
Science fiction war memoir in a surveillance state
Joe Haldeman’s latest book Work Done For Hire is a riveting near future science fiction story of the dangers of living in a surveillance state. Former sniper Jack Daley was drafted to fight in the continuing war abroad and has been coping with the trauma for nine years since returning home wounded. He has found some solace from his memories in writing, but no commercial success, and so he readily agrees to write the novelization of a horror movie that’s in the works. It may be just work done for hire, but Hollywood’s money will spend.
Forgotten but not forgiven
Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney began filming a documentary about Lance Armstrong’s comeback at the 2009 Tour de France, four years after his last win in 2005. But after the infamous 2013 interview with Oprah, Gibney realized that Armstrong had just been using his documentary to bolster his already crumbling story. Gibney was ultimately able to weave the damning footage of his previous interviews into a story of betrayal to deliver a play-by-play of one of the farthest falls from grace in the history of sports.
Playing with the past
The Digital Den, which has had public viewing hours in the Metropolitan Storage Warehouse in recent months, held a launch party on Sunday, Oct. 20 at the Middlesex Lounge in Central Square, with guided tours of the computing equipment on exhibit, and playtime with machines ranging from early Macs to an Oculus Rift.
Princess of hearts
I admired Princess Diana when I was a kid because she was nice when she didn’t have to be. She could have just attended the requisite state functions, but instead she made an effort to reach out to less fortunate people, and she set the bar for later celebrity activists. In the 1980s, she famously shook the hand of a man with AIDS, despite the widespread fear and misunderstanding of people who were HIV positive at the time. Her complicated personal life became tabloid fodder, but to her fans her flaws only made her more relatable. But the afternoon before her fatal car accident, I remember wondering aloud to my friends as we wandered between the rides at a local amusement park whether Princess Di was really a nice person, in real life, not just on the news.
The beauty and terror of space
The film opens with sobering facts about space written on a black screen, while a sound like a rocket launching grows deafeningly loud, so it is clear from the very beginning that Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity will be merciless. But the brutal facts and gripping story are set against the incredible beauty of Earth as seen from space, with sleight-of-hand special effects, and gorgeously rendered scenes of sunrises and the northern lights from orbit.
Taking off from the ground into flight
The word “aerial” has come to connote aerial silks, trapeze, lyra, and similar circus arts, and the performances often involve more acrobatics and gravity-defying tricks than dance per se. That’s not to say that aerial silks are not graceful or expressive, but that Cirque du Soleil has set a high standard for making audiences gasp.
Intricate art with a complicated story
On Wednesday Sept. 25, the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) hosted A Celebration of Benin Kingdom Arts and Culture, an event in collaboration with the Coalition of Committed Benin Community Organization, to mark the opening of the new Benin Kingdom Gallery, which features rare art from the Kingdom of Benin in present-day southern Nigeria.
Even the dancing seems cliché
Jason Blake (Josh Holloway), a once successful basketball coach who turned to alcohol after the death of his wife and son, is recruited by his hip-hop big shot friend Dante Graham (Laz Alonso) to form a “Dream Team” of the best b-boys from cities all over the U.S. to compete in the largest international breaking competition, the eponymous Battle of the Year.
An ethereal silken globe
The Silk Pavilion is a gauzy hemisphere of sparse silk threads, with apertures arranged in an asymmetric but balanced pattern and many small, dense, circular patches of silk filaments that were spun directly onto it by live silkworms. The scaffold is composed of several panels with irregular patterns of silk thread to support the silk spun by Bombyx mori, the most widely cultivated species of silkworm.
A bloody brilliant sci-fi comedy
The World’s End, directed by Edgar Wright and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, is the third British comedy in the “Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy,” along with Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007). Aside from the creative team and similar themes, each film in the trilogy stands on its own. Shaun of the Dead was a romantic comedy and a zombie horror flick mashup; Hot Fuzz was a cop action comedey; and finally, The World’s End is science fiction, by way of a brilliant and dark comedy about the balance between growing up and fears of conformity.
We watched this film so you don’t have to
Dennis Dugan and Adam Sandler’s latest film opens with Lenny Feder (Sandler) telling a joke comparing his wife’s (Salma Hayek) Mexican mother to a moose that has wandered into their house. Then — and here’s the kicker — the moose urinates on him. If you are not falling out of your seat laughing by this point in the film, you’re in for a long 101 minutes.
Course 2 alum and squash coach runs for city council
Nadeem Mazen ’06 has announced his candidacy for the Cambridge City Council. If elected in November, he will be the second MIT alumnus to serve on the council after Leland Cheung MBA ’10, who is also running for reelection. Mazen’s campaign is focusing on the issues of affordable housing, zoning, term limits for city councillors, dedicated spaces for arts, and opportunities for mentorship in K-12 education.
A recruitment ad for Google
Wedding crashers Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn team up again in Shawn Levy’s feel-good buddy flick about two underdogs with no technical skills who talk their way into a summer internship program at Google and show that spirit can overcome even the most difficult of projects. Nick (Wilson) and Billy (Vaughn) are watch salesmen who lose their jobs and face a bleak future in which their sales skills can’t translate into anything other than selling mattresses for a scumbag boss. Billy somehow lands them an interview for internships at Google, The committee decides that hiring two charismatic guys with “life experience” who humorously BS-ed their way out of actually answering the interview question represents a nod to diversity at a company where everyone else is too predictably educated.