Although it's getting a lot of flak from publishers and authors, Google Books is one of the most amazing contributions to world knowledge launched on the web in years. The ability to search the full text of thousands of books published prior to 1923 -- and hence in the public domain -- is amazing. I've been poking around it for a while, and I found something today while studying how Americans used the term "redskins" before Washington's NFL team chose that repulsive racist mascot in 1933. In the 1915 book Making ... read more

I haven't seen the film Paranormal Activity, but I did fill out a web form requesting that it be shown in my town. That's apparently enough for me to earn a spot in the credits of the film when it comes out on DVD. I got an email inviting me to add my name to the credits, and if you click the link the invitation will be extended to you as well. After I filled out the form, I was shown a list of other people who are going to be credited. The list was 3,346 people long when I saw it, and included such film ... read more

"I did not achieve this position in life by having some snot-nosed punk leave my cheese out in the wind." -- Dean of Students Ed Rooney ... read more

Roger Ebert's review of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen appears to be considerably more entertaining than the film itself: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a horrible experience of unbearable length, briefly punctuated by three or four amusing moments. One of these involves a dog-like robot humping the leg of the heroine. Such are the meager joys. If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans ... read more

The movie reference site IMDb has a parents guide feature that's useful when determining whether a movie contains sexual content that would be inappropriate for your children. (Like most Americans I'm much more comfortable exposing the younguns to movies that contain bloodshed than any film that makes even the slightest reference to sex. I blame my Catholic upbringing and spaghetti Westerns.) The feature is edited by users in the manner of Wikipedia and does not get editorial oversight from IMDb. When ... read more

As a fan of the Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons graphic novel, I thought Watchmen was a terrific movie in spite of the excessive gore and the 17-hour run time. The comic's amusingly dystopian 1985 was captured perfectly -- President Nixon did not age well over the four terms he held office -- and I'm planning to see the movie again in IMAX, primarily for Jackie Earle Haley's Rorschach and the incredible opening credit sequence. See if you can spot the tasteless metaphor in Watchmen screenwriter David Hayter's open letter ... read more

David Friedman asks a good question: Why does Skynet keep sending Terminators after Sarah Connor? Or even John Connor, for that matter? Why not go back a hundred years, or two hundred years, and kill her great grandparents? ... Future John Connor would surely send a human into the past to stop the Terminator from killing his great great grandparents. So how does this person fight against a robot killer in an age when technology is so primitive, using his knowledge from the future? And how does the Terminator blend ... read more