Thursday, July 27, 2006

Blank slate!

Stupid five justices on the state supreme court. Their majority opinions are so snidely written, too.
Still a little numb and sleepless after having to unexpectedly mobilize for the ruling, deal with the shock of the ruling, and then get beyond the judicial branch to the legislative one.

Now it's on to changing the law through the state legislature. My money's on the bill passing in five to ten years. That's the optimistic side of me, the one that spent three hours with plaintiffs on Wednesday, listening to their stories and hearing how they're still hopeful.

My brain's a little blank right now.

Off to recharge in Beantown for five days with good times and good friends.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Up there in the 2nd

Who'd have guessed Rick Larsen, one of Washington State's congressional delegation, would have done okay on the Colbert Report? Throughout the whole interview, he looks like he knows it could be worse.

I love the "Better Know a District" segments. They're even funnier when you know the district!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

And name him George

I think the fascination with mythical creatures is.... fascinating. It's partly folklore obsession with the uknown, partly a subconscious insistence on separating humans from nature, partly an acknowledgement that despite massive development and technological advances and exploitation of natural resources, maybe we can't control everything.

Whether it's Nessie, Sasquatch, the yeti, or the ninki-nanka... there might be something out there...

And now, the webcam might catch it.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Spanish pudding, Russian dolls

Four years ago, L'Auberge Espagnol was one of my favorite movies. It was trite and cheesy and fun, and dubbed the "Friends" of the EU, but I liked it. The sequel, Les Poupées Russes, is now playing Stateside.

Much like two similar (but far, far superior) films, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, the Cedric Klapisch movies follow the lives of twentysomethings as they're just becoming independent, and then follows up with them years later as they've been dealt blows. Both first films are happy and idealistic and focus on identity and philosophy and changing the world, and the sequels are slightly cynical and bittersweet and focus almost exclusively on finding love. (Both sequels take place in Paris, I might add.)

Les Poupées Russes didn't profile all the characters from L'Auberge Espagnol, just three or four. It also alternated wildly from comedy of errors to tragedy of errors... but maybe that's one of the points Klapisch was trying to make. I get the feeling he didn't know how funny or how serious to make it, and so the result is a kind of schizophrenic montage that left me wanting more details about the characters' lives. Instead, their stories and emotions are glossed over in favor of visual antics, and the overall plot summary is reduced to "Oh, okay, so those two end up hooking up after all." Even the final lines, where the narrator explains the "Russian doll" metaphor, are clichéd. And one of the underlying themes of globalization was largely ignored, whereas national-identity woes were pretty central to the Econ students' lives in the original film.

I was disappointed.

And the soundtrack wasn't as good as the original.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Hot Spot

Outside the theatre today, two people in line in front of us were taking their time with the automated ticket machine. One of them asked "What's An Inconvenient Truth?" and the other answered, "Oh, that's Al Gore's PowerPoint presentation." Put that way, I almost didn't want to be seen buying the tickets.

In a highly irregular move, I've been watching a lot of movies lately. The latest, of course, being Al Gore's PowerPoint presentation.

It was half depressing, half inspiring. A friend I ran into on the street last week was slightly disturbed that Gore "dumbed down" his lecture, but that was fine with me, since I ususally fall asleep when there's too much science involved in something. But I enjoyed all the data. It was compelling and well-presented. The slightly weird parts were Gore's reminisces about his childhood, his family, and the 2000 election (bad, bad flashbacks when that footage played). I know the point was to humanize him, but it didn't seem to fit.

But in general, the film is preaching to the choir. The partisan comments were disguised as critique of the Bush administration, and ultimately I think that's what makes the film a bit ineffective. People who need to be convinced to change policy and personal habits won't go see a ...PowerPoint presentation... by Al Gore.

At the end of the film, there was a list of ways to take action (set to a cool new Melissa Etheridge song): a website and a ton of suggestions for little ways to make a difference. This one reminded me of a go-getter friend: "Write to Congress. If they won't listen, run for Congress." This one made my sister leap to mind: "If you believe in prayer, pray that people will have the courage to change." (And I think I know what her next birthday present will be, after realizing consumer changes can happen when you switch the frame of reference.

But in the meantime, we should all buy mountaintop property and practice swimming.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Reporting from the Daily Planet

Saw Superman Returns with my Smallville-obsessed sister. I thought it was a good movie, a good way to spend an afternoon. The basic plot is that Superman returns to Earth after a 5-year absence, having gone through his adoptee identity crisis.

Costumes were all retro, as they are in most superhero flicks. It's like a visual reminder that though the rest of the story involves 21st- century technology (cell phone pics, fax machines, laptops), the story originated in an era believed to be less complicated, so everybody has to dress as if Krushchev has just denounced Stalin. It's hyperreal, but something the audience just accepts.

The only person of color in the film was on Lex Luthor's side (which I'm stunningly okay with, because it's Kal Penn). I am also stunningly okay with ignoring all the Christ metaphors so inherent in any Superman narrative. The film also had rampant product placement, but what film doesn't these days? Either the return of Seattle's gray sky has made me complacent, or I'm losing my anti-apathy drive!

And the Man of Steel makes his international debut! Maybe he did this in the old movies and I just don't remember, but in this one he spreads truth, justice, and the American Way around by also saving non-Americans. Although Metropolis is, of course, always the priority. Not to mention Mama on the farm in the heartland.

Good, cheesy fun for the Fourth of July! Although there were the awkward moments in the theatre when I found a scene uproariously hilarious, and nobody else did. But then that always happens...

Two lives running parallel for a while

I watched The Motorcycle Diaries the other day. (The scenery was gorgeous. So was the lead actor. Both of those sentences are extreme understatements.)

The film progressed excellently from privilege to utter poverty -- in the people the two journeying friends meet, in the state of their transportation, even in the music and dancing. But it struck me as slightly ironic that it took leaving Argentina and encountering the dispossessed in Chile and Venezuela to "realize" that people are oppressed; technically oppression always existed, hidden at home, in Buenos Aires too. It's also slightly hilarious that in the film, Argentina is home to educated snobs and an unfaithful girlfriend -- and further and further away, the people are "real."

Admittedly, the Cult of Che has always irritated me somewhat. (The ironically mass-distributed icon associates the image and the person with the glamorization, never the specifics, of the word "revolution." Somehow real ideas and real people get lost when everything is emblazoned in and reduced to black and white and red. But hey, it's cool to buy a T-shirt "in solidarity" and spout vague notions about CIA plots. It's uncool to acutally know anything about the complicated histories of Cuba, the Congo, or Bolivia.)

If I ignore all this baggage I bring to the film, and approach it simply as the tale of two friends travelling up the western coast of South America, then it's good. Each community encountered, from the family in Argentina to the homeless communist couple to the leper colony, displayed a sense of love and human connection. And I appreciated the small subplot about brutal honesty being the better form of communication.

I would read the book.

Monday, July 03, 2006


Having way too much fun with this in a half-empty office the day before a holiday.

(Click the mouse to change the colors).

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Word, yo

At my last job, I would do the NYT crossword puzzle during my lunch break. For the few week or so, since I was the newbie, the six others in the office (small nonprofit!) let me finish it alone. But after a while, it became a team effort, and nobody could get back to work until we'd finished the entire puzzle.

Wordplay is awesome. It centers around an annual crossword-off that was started by puzzlemaster Will Shortz (who, btw, designed his own major -- "enigmatology." How awesome is that?!)

Totally nerdy, but I really enjoyed the scenes where Merle Reagle is designing a crossword puzzle, and the audience gets to watch the thought process behind how words are chosen. And I missed some of the dialogue during the competition, because I was trying to solve the puzzle tidbits on the split screen.

Blatantly Blissful Ad

Popped into a new soap store on the way to see Wordplay. Apparently it opened a month ago, a mere three blocks away from me, and I never knew it. (Last weekend I even had sushi next door to it, just never noticed.)

The really cool thing was the chalkboard of daily specials. The Saturday special happens to be 2-for-1 bath bombs, so we got those.

But then for some odd reason, the owner took a liking to us and kept giving us free samples of a ton of stuff. So now I have a ton of little chunks of colorful soaps, as well as samples of bubble bath. Happiness will ensue.