Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bing "similar images" fail

Bing has been very impressive with its home page. I find myself checking out just to see their daily image. The landing page images are generally beautiful and generally very engaging. However, looking past the landing page, the features offered can do interestingly weird things.

Take the image search for example: I love their image interface! I felt it was better than Google's and then Google confirmed my opinion by aping Bing's interface. So, I find myself exploring Bing's image search every so often. Today, they had a really "cute" (ack.. i said it) image of meercats.


Clicking on one of the boxes brought me to the Bing image search page. There amongst several photos of kissing meercats, I spotted an add looking doll. Interestingly it was even labeled "Creepiest Dolls". No kidding. Check it out below:

the zoomed image is below for your viewing pleasure!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Robbin' my head

I am a movie buff. There, I admit.

There are some actors and directors I hold in high-esteem and I expect good enriching entertainment from them, e.g. Ridley Scott's Gladiator starring Russel Crowe was superb. A superlative and engaging yarn about, Maximus, an awe inspiring Roman General wronged by a vain and vengeful despot. Fate lands the wronged warrior in the shoes of a slave warrior and leaves him a man bereft of his rights and individuality, battling as much for his survival as for the entertainment of a savage audience. He claws, guts and chops his way into the hearts of his ruthless, cheering spectators and ascends to command the vox populi and, with their support and of a few patriotic Republic-wanting Senators, rids Rome of the inept tyrant. All this in gritty, dramatic and high-production value, Hollywood style.

Needless to say, when I saw the same director-actor team the helm of another legendary tale, I expected nothing less than "Gladiator magic": Robin Hood "re-imagined", or as per the movie's implicit ambitions: "with the record set straight".

Alas, the movie was all but an entertaining fare. A two hour hodge-podge "origins" yarn of a yeoman archer muddling his way through a nebulous war against a whimsically pusillanimous Prince Phillip of France left me feeling robbed of my time and intellect . The movie certainly stole from me, though I wonder if any were enriched by the looting.

Admittedly, the movie's premise is engaging: that Robin was not a nobleman, but a simple, honest man, one who was as straight as the arrows he shot. The straight shooter was, through a twist of fate, coerced to assume the identity of a knight, Sir Robert Loxley. The newly minted Sir Robert was forced to suffer the indignity of inheriting the vast lands and vassals of Pepper Harrow. Robin's torment is exacerbated when he must bed the knight's wife to keep up the charade of being Sir Robert. Along the way, Robin also learns that he is long lost son of a free-mason who happened to be the original author / instigator of the Magna Carta.

Following these revelations, Sir Robert of Loxley is thrust into an immensely academic debate on the limits of a sovereign's authority over the other feudal barrons, which he wins with aplomb while yelling his thoughts from a hillside while riding down on his trusty steed (which I think happened to be erstwhile King Richard the Lion Heart's horse).

Needless to say, the Sherrif of Nottingham is displeased, and all this confusion leads a British / French double-agent to attack Nottingham and Pepper Harrow. At this point, Lady Marion befriends forest urchins who have been regularly stealing from her estate, and becomes their leader.

Meanwhile Sir Robert Loxley/ Robin of Loxley, a.k.a Longstride, finishes his debate and marches with the entire British army composed of militia from the various Lords and Knights mentioned above and lands on a beach to greet an invading French army. A nonsensical battle ensues, which is briefly interrupted when a horse riding Maid Marion stumbles into the battle field along with a rag-tag guerrilla group of previously mentioned forest urchins riding on ponies.

As is expected, the French are defeated, the Magna Carta is burned, and Robin is declared an outlaw. Robin escapes, naturally, to Sherwood forest and his men make merry.

If your head hurts reading the above, I implore you to not watch the movie. This is exactly what happened. It doesn't make sense when I narrate it, and it didn't make one iota of sense when British knights battled with French troops on a beach in all their medieval gore and glory for no coherent reason.