Romancing the Stone.

The other day I went to see that totally forgettable Total Recall remake and this was waiting for me out in the theater lobby afterward…

A historical “action drama” movie featuring cops and gangsters and Sean Penn and Josh Brolin and fucking Nick Nolte. Ugh. All pretty high on my list of least favorite things at the cinema, and yet… Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone? That’s chemistry goldmine right there. (As opposed to featuring Bryan Gosling, that loser.)

I’m not saying that the presence of those two together will get to go see this movie, but it will seriously make me wish that they were in a different movie together.

They were the best thing about Crazy Stupid Love, right?

Why can’t they do a movie where they fight vampires or something. Or a Shakespearean adaptation. Only… set in the future. But maybe it’s really the past? And taking place on a holodeck? And Mercutio is a robot! And a ghost. And a traitor! And it’s all really a dream. Of course.

Anyway. Anything other than gangsters next time, please?

It’s just sad because I want to say that Emma Stone clearly has more onscreen chemistry and just works better in a movie with Gosling than her actual boyfriend, offscreen and on (in Spider-Man), Andrew Garfield. But, you know, whatever.

Meanwhile… have you been checking out our podcast?

If not, you should be. Obviously. Check out the Time Travel Murder Mystery site, or find us in itunes. The last two episodes, “Bad Nudity Batman” and “The Jon Snow Show” were fun, I thought. And a new episode should be up in a few days.

You could have it all.

Mad linkage:

What happens when the scary predictions of speculative fiction start to come true earlier than expected?

I guess you could say that I’m excited to see A Dangerous Method.

Best Coast and WAVVES.

An interesting interview with Steven Soderbergh about Contagion.

Did Chris Martin cheat on Gwyneth Paltrow?

J.J. Abrams is doing some cool new shit.

Science fiction magazines and The Joy Of Sex.

from here.

Noah Baumbach is developing Jonathan Franzen‘s The Corrections as an HBO series.

Post-apocalyptic porn. Sure, why not?

Matthew Fox could be in some trouble.

Saturn is beautiful.

The critics of Joan Didion.

This is Peanut St. Cosmo’s new favorite picture on the internet.

What does clitoral stimulation do to your brain?

Post-Sept. 11 Saudi Arabia is modernizing, slowly.

Mos Def will no longer be Mos Def.

Kitty Ravenhart’s selection for The Best Of Yahoo Answers.

Did you drain your balls at DragonCon?

More leaks from David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

from here.

A guy jerked off to me in the subway and the NYPD didn’t do a thing.”

I feel like with each passing day I’m a little more amazed that The Avengers movie is happening.

The beginning of the end for Yahoo?

Johnny Depp to star in another fucking remake, this time of The Thin Man.

Female blogger threatened with defamation suit after writing about TSA rape.

Jeff Tweedy and the Black Eyed Peas.

Tech company to build science ghost town.

A new story by Haruki Murakami.

Very cool fan art.

A huge list of deleted scenes that are awaiting you on the new Star Wars blu-rays.

Yelping with Cormac McCarthy.

NYC bans dogs from bars.

A movie about Keith Richards?

Reality as a failed state.

The year in film.

This is a fun little montage:

from here and here.

Feed the tree.

For no real reason, from a recent interview about his upcoming movie Blue Valentine (which may or may not be stuck with it’s NC-17 rating), here’s Ryan Gosling’s thoughts and feelings on Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree

That book is so fucked up; that story’s the worst. I mean, at the end the tree is a stump and the old guy just sitting on him; he’s just used him to death, and you’re supposed to want to be the tree? Fuck you. You be the tree. I don’t want to be the tree.

Hear that? Fuck you. You be the tree. There’s something zen in those words.

Who is Natalie Portman fucking these days?

Came across this gem on the internetz the other day:

Oh, that gave me quite the chuckle.

And, from that, I have some points to share with you, all of them only barely related to each other…

1. The other day, while speaking to Benjie, I was just bullshitting and joking around, as I am wont to do, and I retorted to something or other that I should start a single serving website called Who Is Natalie Portman Fucking These Days?

I think I actually called it Who Is Natalie Portman Dating Now? in that conversation, but let’s get right to the bottom of it: No one cares who you’re dating. Or, if they do, that’s only half as interesting who you’re actually fucking.

2. Case in point: Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore. They’re still married. They have stayed married for five years past what the expiration date on that joke should’ve been. Congrats! You’re boring celebrities! But now we find out that he’s fucking around or perhaps they’re in an open relationship, whatever. Whoever you’re walking down a red carpet with will always pale in comparison to who you’re rubbing your genitals on. Of course we wish it wasn’t that way, but it is. Right?

1, continued: Meanwhile, Natalie Portman has certainly had an eclectic dating history. I don’t know all of it, which is probably a good thing, but Moby, for one. When I heard about that way back in the day I thought, “Well, great, that’s when I reach for my revolver. Ha ha. Bad joke, sorry.

But she also dated Devendra Banhart, which is… Well, regardless of whatever it is, that’s a thing that happened.

Perhaps she dated Hayden Christensen, an actor of dubious charm, too. I remember that was rumored around when they were filming the Star Wars prequels.

Though, again, were they dating or were they just killing time together while stuck in Australia spending hours and hours surrounded by green screen on movie sets? You can hardly fault an actor for the sexual shenanigans they get up to while filming a movie down under, methinks.

Also, Jude Law. Maybe. Face it, straight dudes, whoever that young ingenue that you have a masturbatory fantasy about, well, Jude Law’s probably gotten there first.

And, possibly Sean Penn. That’s weird, and kind of sad, but I’m not one to judge. At least it’s not Mickey Rourke, you know.

Some fashion designer/former male model or a British millionaire. Or Ryan Gosling or Gael García Bernal. Who cares? Those are less than tremendous choices for an inamorata.

John Mayer. Let’s just be thankful that, as far as I know, she hasn’t gone down this street yet. Thank God. That’s the kind of dead end that far too many cars have ran out of gas on or broken down on. I sincerely apologize for comparing women to cars in that metaphor.

But, speaking of John Mayer, there are a lot of things Natalie Portman is: a competent and incredibly inspiring actor that’s fun to watch, an Academy Award nominee, a good role model, a Harvard graduate, Jewish, someone with an Erdős-Bacon number, a director, a producer, a democrat, a vegan, a fashion designer (she has her own line of vegan shoes), a nonbeliever in the afterlife (good for you, Nat), someone whose birth name is Hershlag, an outstanding spokesperson and fundraiser for many fine organizations and causes around the world, a friend of Lukas Haas, a fan of NBC”s new hit comedy, Outsourced, and fluent in Japanese, German, French, and Arabic.

And thankfully there are a lot of things that Natalie Portman is not and one of those Jennifer Aniston.

And, of course, I made up the part about her liking Outsourced. Nobody likes that show.

I just typed “Natalie Portman” and “boyfriend” into google the other day and was informed that she is presumably currently dating a professional ballet dancer.

3. I really want to see Black Swan. It looks interesting and kind of b-movie cheesy brilliant. That perfect sweet spot where artsy films meet b-movie plots and Roman Polanski-esque level creepiness (I’m referring of course to the director’s movies, which I’m a fan of, and now his IRL creepiness).

4. Benjie Light and I were discussing that the other night and ruminating on what a poor year it’s been for movies. Also, we were kind of upset that we find ourselves having to say that thing every single year, it seems.

But 2010 has especially been strange since it seems like The Social Network, which is a fine, solid movie, will probably have serious Oscar potential (certainly Best Adapted Screenplay, but I’m talking Best Picture here too, party people)  just because we’re not going to have a lot of just stupendously great movies to nominate. Black Swan will probably be there somewhere in the Best Picture nominees too, I bet.

That said, I’d still prefer to see Aronofsky doing Superman rather than Zack Snyder, but that’s also kind of like saying I’d like to keep typing rather than sticking my hand in a blender, I know.

from here.

5. Because of The Social Network (and it’s strong success), I think a lot of blogs are having to step back and get a little meta maybe and also start thinking about the story of themselves. The amateurs map themselves onto the percieved personas of your Mark Zuckerberg/Jesse Eisenbergs and your Eduardo Saverin/Andrew Garfield/Peter Parkers, but that’s something you do after running around in the yard and peeing on plants and right before it’s naptime.

The big leagues is analyzing yourself, really getting into the dark and nasty places of your own blog/website, the twisted nitty gritty of your own origins, and pondering who’ll play you when your story of internet conquest hits the big screen.

Seriously, blogs o’ the interwebz, I am posing that question to you.

Benjie Light and I were contemplating that the other day ourselves. In a fucked up scorched earth production of the Counterforce story, we’d probably cast Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau as ourselves. But that’d be just so we could be dicks to each other about it.

Or, the recession era variation of that casting would probably be Vince Vaughn and Kevin James, I guess. And directed by Ron Howard. Ugh.

6. And Jeff Goldblum as Occam Razor.

7. And Kristen Stewart as Peanut St. Cosmo.

8. No, I’m just kidding about that. I wouldn’t even presume to guess at who could capture the bold essence of either Peanut or Maria, nor do I want to risk my testicles in the gambit of making a choice they’re not pleased with. They know who should play them far better than I could ever hope to guess, I imagine. That is, of course, if they’re too busy to not play the parts themselves.

9. But if they don’t comment on my fucking post then I swear to God I’ll combine them into one amalgamation character as played by Christine Hendricks!

10. You could probably cast any old twink as August Bravo. As long as they smell like straight up mayonnaise (that’s an inside joke that you don’t really want to nor need to get too inside on, believe me). Or maybe his favorite character on Mad Men (see above)? Or maybe one of Will Smith’s kids?

11. And, August Bravo, before you even say it…

…trust me, it could be worse. It could be Vince Vaughn playing you.

12. That said, I’ll say this in defense of Vince Vaughn: He’s probably the hardest working actor in that particularly bleak game of comedy films these days. Unlike the Owen Wilsons of the world, Vaughn is the long distance runner in this game. Just look at a sleazy guy like Bradley Cooper and tell me that you honestly think he’s got Vaughn’s stamina at this shit. No fucking way. That said, I’d say that Vince Vaughn is a lot like Magic Johnson in that he’s not necessarily great on his own, but he’s a great team player. If you pass him the ball in a really interesting way, then he’ll do something extra interesting when he shoots for the basket. And a little sleazy, as that’s the default of where his comedy riffage always seems set at (but still feeling classier than your average Bradley Cooper… anything). If he’s got no one to work with then it’s just a sad study in a man running up and down the court while dribbling.

13. Extreme side note there: I feel like every time I see a picture of Winona Ryder now, I’d describe the look on her face as if you had literally just caught her in the act of shoplifting.

14. In conclusion: Going back to point #1, Vince Vaughn, thank you for not being John Mayer. I mean, don’t get me wrong, you’ve gotten pretty fucking close to that territory more than few times, but you’ve still yet to fully cross that line and we appreciate it. I don’t think I could quite believe you as the romantic companion of Natalie Portman, but then again, I’ll believe just about anything these days.

…In Translation.

Japan unveils humanoid robot that laughs and smiles.

Weekend At Bernies 3!

Holy fucking shit, there’s going to be a 2010 Lollapalooza.

Virtual hugs. Seriously.

Pictures of 16 year old Elian Gonzalez in a military uniform drive the Internet crazy.

Today’s mad linkage comes with a pictorial refresher for last week’s episode of Lost, with pictures courtesy of Videogum, which we discovered via Lola.

Erykah Badu charged with disorderly conduct for naked video.

The parents of bullies.

The right time and place for a conservative victory.

Ryan Gosling gives advice on how to get booty.

George Lucas to  team up with writers from Daily Show and Robot Chicken for a Star Wars sitcom.

Air Force to launch robotic winged space plane.

There are 4 women in orbit right this minute.

Female African-American Robot Designers.

What exactly is a Kraken? And why should he be released?

Hairless “Oriental Yeti” stumps experts.

10 crazy medical inventions that (thankfully) never caught on.

20 strange and mysterious medical syndromes.

“Holy Ghost” relocates his flock to Montana.

A preview for the next episode of Doctor Who, “The Beast Below.”

The Pentagon springs a WikiLeak.

Apparently there’s a certain four-letter word in tonight’s Lost that’s super important.

What happened to the water on Mars?

When the telepaths attack!

Early nearly cut off in machete attack!

Court rules against net neutrality!

Miniature Eiffel Tower attacked!

Humans being.

So, it started like any other conversation between Marco and Lollipop, who sometimes operates under her real name, Maria Diaz, with Marco asking Lollipop for advice about something – since she frequently acts in the capacity of an Oracle – and then her telling him about a new writing gig she’s got coming up, something that will have her getting down and dirty, rubbing elbows up close with celebrities. She mentions a slight nervousness about it and Marco, being Marco, suggests, “You could always achieve worldwide internet notoriety by throwing red paint on Megan Fox or something, right?”

Maria Diaz: Noooooo. Not what I want to do. She terrifies me. Especially since she’s completely man-made.

Marco Sparks: Yeah, she looks like she was put out by the same company that releases those Todd McFarlane action figures.

MD: Someone somewhere on the internet dug up some photos from before she got all that plastic surgery. It was remarkable.

Marco: How significant were the changes?

MD: See for yourself. Plastic surgery is so insidious. All the doctors get taught the same techniques, so everyone comes out looking the same. But I can see how it could get addictive.

Marco: Yeah, there’s always a disorder in which you need more physical alterations to your appearance.

MD: Until you turn into a CAT LADY!

Marco: Like on Nip/Tuck?

MD: Yes. But really… there is something neat about getting to say, FUCK YOU, NATURE!

Marco: I believe in the swarthy, unbridled power of the human intellect,

for the better or the worse, that we can rise above what we are given and change that which we don’t like or that which could hurt us. I mean, there’s a reason that the life expectancy is like 60 years longer now than it was for people our age, what… 100 years ago? Of course, with that comes new disorders and syndromes that can be very harmful.

But I’ve been reading more and more lately about augmented reality, AI, and sentient/spiritual machines (a la Ray Kurzweil) and probably within 200 or so years, the new plastic surgery won’t be changing your face, your body, etc. It’ll be about making yourself more machine-like.

MD: I think that’s so far off, though. Substantially far off. We won’t ever see it.

Marco: No, we won’t, certainly. Like I said, easily 200 or so years.

Benjamin Light and I were just talking about Terminator 2 earlier, and how the vision of… 2019, I think it was, from back in 1997, was homicide bots with working mobile laser cannons and hover attack drones and the future there, while so grim, was so futuristic-y! But realistically? No, not so soon.

But we’ll start to see the slow advances of it. Within 15 years there’s a good chance that for under a $1000 you could be able to own a computer that has at least the computing powers and space of the human brain.

MD: You really think it’ll be that accessible?

I always hesitate to make these kinds of statements because I think they’re American-centric and specific to people with a certain amount of education and/or money. It’s going to take a long time till everyone is up to speed and these kinds of futuristic robot-people become the norm. Even Real Dolls are still out of most people’s price ranges and I think that’s certainly an indication of how future factory jobs/cleaning jobs will turn to. Kind of like the ending of Shaun of the Dead.

Marco: You’re right about the financial aspect of it, but then again, it really becomes a matter of time and manufacturing costs and, of course, the basis for American business language: supply/demand.

But I think it’s coming. Though I can’t put a serious guess on how fast or over the course of what timeline. I can only guess.

That’s one of the things I like about these highly celebrated futurists, and the game of the future in general, that you’re not so much an oracle as just half making educated predictions, and half selling fables of the far off tomorrow that only have to sound a little credible. You go read an article in Wired about the amazing new things that nanotechnology can do each day and then you come back to me and I tell you that within six months, all plastic surgery will be nanosurgery and for just a moment, a scary moment, it sounds half way possible.

MD: Oh, totally.  It’s like a few years ago when the tech came out for identifying things via a thumb-print that would have your ATM pin, and all of your info on it and all the “sky is falling” press that came out of that. You start to get spooked and think it is all entirely possible.

Marco: And, while jumping over body modification a little here, we don’t talk nearly enough about the good things that could be coming, with science and medical breakthroughs and what have you. Maybe partly because it’s so locked down, like stem cell research. Or maybe because all people want is cures of AIDS and cancer, the regrowth of lost limbs, and the Higgs-Boson. Or cold fusion!

MD: Cold fusion! That’s a pop culture reference I’m forgetting.

There’s lots of good things that come out of this, like robots performing surgery. I think there is one called the Da Vinci arm? They can do surgery in a much more precise way than a doctor who maybe had too much coffee or gets distracted for a milisecond and one tiny move can mess the whole thing up. Or robots who dispense medication. Those are a complete trip to see, but again, save lives and do a lot of good since they remove a lot of the error. Of course, it all depends on humans who program these things.

Marco: Until the robots start programming the humans who program the robots. And, of course, I’ll take the low road and speak for every man who just read that someday a robot might be performing surgery on him: Where’s the robot that can jack me off too?

There’s actually a joke on the new Patton Oswalt album about robots that can deliver babies better than human doctors, except for that rare 1 in 100 times glitch in which the robot skins the baby and turns it into an ipod case. “Murder spasms,” I think he called it.

Be honest: How shocked would you be if tomorrow it was revealed that Megan Fox was actually a project the Japanese started ten years ago in crafting the ultimate pop starletbot?

MD: The answer to any and all questions is always the Real Doll. Do you reallly want a robot giving you a handjob? Let’s be real, here.

And to answer your question: I would not shocked at all.

Marco: Would I really want a handjob from a robot? Well, a handjob is a lot different from other kinds of sex, which is a bullshit kind of kind that I could intellectualize to death for no real good. No, I probably don’t want to fuck a robot. Not in a way that I could imagine right now. Though I have a very unique, very special, very disturbingly fun imagination, so ask me again later. But then again, by the time we all get oral pleasure bots, we may be living in a very different type of world, morals-wise.

Megan Fox being a robot created by the Japanese to star in a Michael Bay movie about fighting giant super Robots that can turn into cars and shit would be a fascinating movie all of it’s own. Didn’t Al Pacino star in some movie years ago about a computer generated starlet?

MD: You can’t say something like that and then not follow up, son. “Not in a way you could imagine right now…” Then what way? Would sex with robots be more akin to masturbation? Would it just be novelty? Would it replace human interaction entirely? I’m sure for some people, it would.

Yes, Pacino was in such a movie. It was called Simone and it sucked.

Marco: As I was typing out that paragraph, I was remember the future episode of Newsradio where they talk about how sex with robots is so much better than sex with humans. You have to remember that I’m an old school sci fi geek so, on this subject, my brain is a mash up of Asimov’s three laws and the Jane/Sex bot counterpart to Jude Law’s Gigolo Joe from Spielberg/Kubrick’s A.I.

Would sex with robots become masturbation 8.0 or a new novelty or just replace human interaction entirely? Yes. And for some people, that may be a good thing. We’ve all seen that documentary on the Real Dolls, right? As much as we snicker at guys like Davecat, I can’t help but think where he and that old British man would be if they didn’t have those real dolls in their lives, you know? I clearly remember the British man taking his real dolls on holiday, a nice drive out into the country, but before he goes, he puts a sign on the doll saying, “I AM A DOLL,” so should he get into an accident or something, no one will risk their life trying to safe her. Because she’s not a real human being. A bit off subject, but that fascinated me. The man lived on that very blurry edge of fantasy and reality, but he knew which was which. And he made a happy little home for himself there.

Part of the real I say it’s hard to answer the question now about sex with robots in a future point is look at our ever evolving hang ups about sex. We’re so quiet and insecure about so much, yet even that changes bit by bit. Years ago a man probably wouldn’t have openly admitted to masturbation (and especially not a woman)(and I’m thinking of Betty Draper on that washing machine as I say that), but now it can be dinner party talk for a bunch of yuppies between discussing the latest gossip of what’s going on down at the tennis club and how socialist they think Obama’s health care plan is. “Ha ha, so Janet and the in-laws walks in on me jacking off to the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue…”

Now just replace that same dinner party with one 50 years from now. “Ha ha, so Edmund walks in on me on all fours getting a spanking from LX-9000…”

MD: You know, when I saw that real doll documentary, I always thought that if Davecat had just hung out in the right chat rooms or gone to a small, liberal arts college where nerds get laid, he never would have needed that real doll. It doesn’t seem happy to me at all, it just seems sad. Especially that other guy who was so clearly completely paralyzed by the death of his mother.  They did bring them some joy as he took her out on drives and such, but so much of that was just projection. They’re just setting themselves up for failure, they will never be able to relate to a woman who talks back. I could see sex robots becoming the new sex worker in that way, you know?

Marco: Yeah, exactly. But imagine in this bright new future where we have sex robots aiding us in our carnal needs, these robots actually get respect. As much as a robot can. Now, I know it’s a sad thought that a robot as a sex worker would get more respect than a human as a sex worker, but isn’t that just how humans work?

MD: I see it going the opposite, that the robot would get treated much worse. Since you know, it’s just a robot and would be seen as even more property (if that’s possible) than a human.

Marco: That’s true. And part of me hopes it stays that way, not from a sex with machines perspective, but from a relation between robots and humans kind of way. I don’t want to get into the idea of the human soul or spark or noumenon too much, but hopefully in the future, when they make the robots… they’ll leave that out…

Of course, that would suck for WALL-E, wouldn’t it?

But then again, if they ever build robots with programming advanced enough to satisfying us sexually – which, granted, I know isn’t that complex since bored and curious guys have been getting the same thrill from the hose on the vacuum cleaner – who knows where AI and sentience in machines will be. To take it back to the language of pop culture nerdery: Data from Star Trek: TNG. Ever evolving, creating himself as an existing being, and fully functional sexual and “programmed in a variety of methods.”

MD: Well…for it to really work, it would have to beyond that base level of just getting you off. If that’s all that mattered, then women would just stick with vibrators, which, let’s be honest, are usually better/more efficient at getting the job done than any man. And I’d reckon that a vacuum cleaner probably gives a more proficient blowjob than any girl/guy. HOWEVER, if they could program the robot with human touches, that would change the game. Do you know what I mean?

Marco: Exactly. Like I said, it wouldn’t be about getting you off. It’d be about being a lover.

I love how we’ve gone from talking the future and robotics to… fuck machines.

Maybe that’s how the machines will eventually kill us. They’ll give us what we seem to all secretly want: to have sex with a machine. They’ll learn how to plug themselves into the wall and then they’ll jackhammer us right out of existence. Death by Kiwi, people.

MD: Speak for yourself!  I can think of nothing less appealing. Well, I can think of a few things, but that’s pretty high on the list.

Ultimately, I think that’s the thing here.. we think we want robots to automate everything, but it’s not easier. It just creates a new set of problems.

Marco: And that’s how we work, right? Today, tomorrow, yesterday. We like to make things simpler. And then we make them more complex!

MD: To use the words of Sean Combs… mo money, mo problems. Or … mo robots, mo problems?

Marco: Jesus, look at us. From Megan Fox to plastic surgery to robots to robot sex to Diddy. That makes sense, I think. Right?

MD: From two crazy people, yes.