April 20, 2001
| April 20, 2001
Joe Dirt, the latest from director Dennie Gordon, is at its core the archetypal search for one man’s home. Surrounding that core, however, is a ring of inconsistency and vulgarity that ultimately envelop the inner meaning and contributes to the creation of an overall waste of a movie.
The film relates the story of Joe Dirt (David Spade) through a radio talk show narration hosted by the mocking Zander Kelly (Dennis Miller). Joe has had an interesting life — left behind by his family at the Grand Canyon at the tender age of 8, he has been on his own for most of his life, attempting to reunite with his long-lost parents. This is harder than it sounds, even though Joe’s surname Dirt is unique to himself. Preferring the pronunciation “DEER-TAY,’ Joe had earned it at birth from his father for some ill-explained reason. In any case, Joe tells Zander and all of Los Angeles of his many adventures, his trials and tribulations, and the people he encounters on his journey to find his family. These characters range from the borderline-normal, love interest Brandi (Brittany Daniel) to the enigmatic ex-mobster Clem (Christopher Walken).
Joe Dirt attempts humor, it simply doesn’t succeed, mainly because of its crude nature. This includes the catalyst for Joe and Brandi’s first meeting, a situation involving Brandi’s dog Charley. In the chill of the night Charley has been plagued with a peculiar problem involving his reproductive organs – just imagine what can happen to a tongue when it sticks to a cold surface in the winter and you’ve got the idea. This scene may have potentially approached the realm of humor, had the filmmakers not found it necessary to include ample footage of the dog stretching his genitalia to unusual lengths in an attempt to get free.
In addition, that ubiquitous staple of modern comedy, fecal matter, makes its all-too anticipated cameo appearance in
Joe Dirt not once, but twice. First a huge chunk of the stuff falls from an airplane, a frozen orb of egested airline food which Joe promptly adopts, thinking it to be a lucky meteorite. In the second fecal-related gag, it spews from an old septic tank, completely (and predictably) covering our luckless hero. When will Hollywood writers realize that this sort of scatological humor isn’t funny, but just plain disturbing?
As Joe somberly stands before what he discovers to be his parents’ home (now abandoned), a random passerby assures him that “Home is where you make it.” However, due to a speech impediment, Joe interprets the message to be a crude comment about the passerby’s private life. This very scene is a microcosm of the film itself. The film’s message — that home is indeed where you make it — is there, but it just comes out all wrong, as it is shrouded by the illogic, dwarfed by gross spectacle, and covered in a lot of poop.
Archived article by Adam Cooper
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April 23, 2001
This month, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced that it will spend 10 years in order to offer lectures notes, syllabi, reading lists, assignments and other materials on the World Wide Web for every one of its classes. Anyone with access to the Internet will have access to all of these materials. MIT will encourage more “technically-oriented content,” according to its website. “We’re not trying to offer courses, we’re trying to offer the materials,” said Prof. Steven Lerman, civil and environmental engineering and faculty chair. “This is much more in the spirit of a textbook,” Lerman said. “There’s no interactivity expected,” said Cornell Prof. Charles Van Loan, chair of computer science. According to MIT professor Harold Abelson, who was involved in developing the OpenCourseWare (OCW) project, the decision to begin the OpenCourseWare initiative required widespread discourse among MIT faculty. The faculty decided that OCW would be the best way for the university to use the internet for its academic programs. “This is the most extensively [discussed] issue ever at MIT,” Abelson said. Cornell Prof. Kenneth Birman, computer science, agreed that taking a class differs from reading all of the materials on the Web. “There was a sort of false perception that there was a tremendous amount of value to those web pages, wondering if we should limit access to course websites,” he said. Both Birman and Van Loan said that Cornell would probably not embark on a project to post and systematize web pages for all of its classes. “Doing things in a fixed way becomes a bit ponderous,” Van Loan said. Birman stressed that interaction with professors, not access to materials, is the crucial part of taking any college class. “[By offering free access], MIT has shifted back the attention to the professors,” he said. To many, the move seemed completely logical. “[Professors are] making a lot of this stuff anyway,” Abelson said. “I couldn’t understand myself what the big deal was,” Van Loan said. MIT, as well as Cornell, already has websites for many, if not most of its courses. “Right now it’s random, some people put [materials] up [on the web and some don’t],” Abelson said. However, the difference with OCW is that the formatting and much of the content of each course’s site will be made uniform. “Computer science [at Cornell] has course websites which are open to the public,” Van Loan said. “What’s dramatic, I suppose, is the 100 percent part [of the OCW initiative].” Abelson made a clear distinction between offering course materials on the Web and offering classes. “We think that education is about interaction,” Abelson said. “Once you take the instructor out of the loop, you’ve really lost a large part of the learning experience,” Birman said. Justin Paluska, an engineering and computer science student at MIT agreed that posted course materials are not the same as participating in a course on campus. “MIT is about pressure and getting things done in a short amount of time, [which is] also why an MIT education is worth so much more than the mere material we learn,” Paluska said. “The phrase ‘Getting an education at MIT is like taking a drink from a firehose’ is more than accurate,” he added. MIT has also emphasized that making their materials available on the Web will allow for a greater amount of intellectual discussion among students and professors from universities around the world. “We see a lot of potential for use in developing countries,” Lerman said. “This will help them to get started.” According to Lerman, other universities and professors will be able to use these materials to improve their own courses and knowledge of a particular topic. “Many of us have experience situations where professors from other countries have wanted to use our materials,” Lerman added. OCW will allow students to look at materials from courses that they are not able to take. “I do think that it is a good idea to offer material on the web, because I know that I have been grateful that I could find material related to my classes at other universities,” Paluska said. MIT has stressed that OCW will be free and open to whomever logs on. “It’s making a statement, saying that everything is going to be open,” Van Loan said. “This can be used just as advertising for how good the courses are [at MIT],” Birman said. “MIT has been creating free things for ages,” Paluska said, citing the Kerberos system as an example. Kerberos is the security system that that authenticates NetID passwords and then issues the “electronic ticket” that is visible on the screen when using applications such as TravelersMail, WebEmail and other applications restricted to a particular group of users. This initiative is a different approach to using the Web. Many other universities, including Cornell, have chosen to use the Web to offer courses that users must pay for. “I have to tell you that we went into this expecting … frankly .. that it would be something based on a revenue-producing model,” said MIT President Charles M. Vest. Cornell introduced eCornell last year as a company which offers for-profit, non-credit professional courses in a number of fields. MIT has no equivalent to eCornell, although it does offer some online non-credit courses for profit. Online distance learning has had “much rougher sailing than expected” for universities that have undertaken the venture, the New York Times reported Vest as saying. “Something like that’s going to grow up at MIT in spaces,” Abelson said. “We want to be really careful about things that will divert MIT faculty from MIT students,” he added. Paluska also noted that, although many MIT classes already have web sites, requiring every class to have one will help him as an MIT student. “It’s helpful because I can just log into any computer and print out something that I missed,” he said. Archived article by Maggie Frank
April 23, 2001
The 76th annual Hotel Ezra Cornell (HEC) weekend of “panache” officially ended yesterday at a breakfast in the Statler Hotel. There, HEC student directors handed back the ceremonial key of the hotel to its regular personnel. The weekend engaged around 400 students in “taking over” the operations of the Statler while hosting leading hospitality benefactors for a variety of events, according to Scott Weisz ’01, the managing director of the weekend. David Butler, dean of the School of Hotel Administration, said in a speech during Saturday’s Gala at Chateaux Blanc, that the hotel’s ceremonial key is so “large and heavy” because of the many talents that hotel students use in order to create the weekend. “[The students] have indeed demonstrated that they can produce the complete hospitality experience, stimulating the five senses, and the mind,” Butler said. He noted one of the weekend’s recurring themes, education within entertainment. Along with Friday’s Cirque du Panache, a circus-centered reception, an afternoon Asian tea, wine tasting and other culinary focused events, the weekend’s coordinators added educationally-driven programs on Saturday. These were primarily to illustrate “the more well-rounded student,” Weisz said. “Obviously the operational side of things, running the hotel, that’s very well known, but you don’t see that there’s a great deal of academic knowledge within the students here. I think that we were able to showcase that,” he said. Although all the educational events were successful according to coordinators, guests particularly enjoyed Experience Innovations, a seminar produced by Master of Management in Hospitality (MMH) graduate students. “Experience Innovations has been designed as an interactive forum of renowned industry executives, HEC guests, professors and students that will challenge our industry’s status quo,” stated the MMH’s pamphlet for the event. Innovations featured experienced hospitality speakers including B. Joseph Pine, the co-author of the business book The Experience Economy. “All the educational functions, which were our focus, were very well- received and I think guests have really agreed with the direction we’re heading … and felt that the events they attended were worthwhile,” Weisz said. Guests attending the weekend’s main function, the Gala at Chateaux Blanc, also agreed with Weisz and approved of the HEC board of directors’ addition of educational functions. “[Innovations] was one of the best attended functions; it was standing room only,” said Dennis Sweeney of the consulting firm Joseph Baum & Michael Whiteman Co., Inc. Sweeney was also an industry advisor to coordinators for the weekend. Faculty, industry guests and staff found the weekend a good way to wind down their week, interacting with and supporting the HEC and the Hotel school in the process. “[The gala’s] great. I’ve been here every year for ten years so I thought I’d come tonight,” said Henrik N. Dullea ’61, vice president for University relations. Michael Mitchell ’99, who now works for the business development firm Arthur Andersen, agreed. “I think it’s delightful to be able to get the educational events with seeing friends and influential people in our industry and also meeting with companies,” Mitchell said. “We work for Marriott, so we’re keen on relationships … we want to support this one, this program,” said James Deranek, manager of college relations for Marriott hotels. Some HEC volunteers said that while they were pleased with giving their time for the hotel and the events, they could have used some support with the weekend’s busy workload. “It’s been pretty hard work but it’s been fun,” said Sarah Daniels ’04, a volunteer who served patrons during the Gala. Students volunteered for the events as well as for working in the hotel performing all duties except those of the custodial staff. Allen Weiss ’01, an HEC public relations director commented on the process hotel students undergo to establish the weekend. These steps include the election of the 17 member HEC board of directors, some of whom earn college credit for planning the weekend. For Weiss, the HEC weekend is worthwhile because of the attention and appreciation of hospitality industry leaders. “What’s great about these events is that you have [industry leaders] walking by you … people who’ve been successful in our industry,” Weiss said. Archived article by Carlos Perkins