Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Not Number One!

Just heard another song I like featured in a TV ad, this time for Target! At first I thought I'd accidentally started my media player, but then realized it was the TV and stared in horror.


Monday, November 27, 2006

Confession: I rigged the music charts...

Continuing the post-turkey veg-out, I finally watched A Mighty Wind. I have no idea how I managed to not see it before, seeing as how it's about folk music. And wow, there are some good songs featured by the fake folk groups. The faux-documentary itself is funny too, especially since you can kind of make parallels between real-life '60s folk singers and the film's fake ones. But mainly I liked listening to the songs.

Which reminds me of the incredible folk-related guilt I've been carrying for several years: I pseudo-rigged the folk charts at WMHB by recommending only the political, call-to-arms songs for airplay. Or ones that told cool stories. Not that everybody went with the recommendations, but a surprising number did.

Yesterday, after building-hopping home in an attempt to escape the snow and the cold, I also watched another Colin Firth movie. Of course, it was also a Kevin Bacon movie, and it was pretty bad. I've seen worse. It was supposed to be a noir-esque murder mystery. But I think it was just a vehicle for as many people as possible to get naked onscreen. Plus I figured out the murderer early on. And Alison Lohman got on my nerves. And Colin Firth can do better.

I think this is more movies than I've watched in the past couple of months...

Cultural Learnings ...

Saw Borat. Overall, it was hysterical. The opening scenes, I admit, were awkward, where Sacha Baron Cohen relies on demeaning misconceptions about developing countries and small towns. I couldn't really laugh at all that, in part because there are probably people out there who believe every little shtetl really does have its own lovable town rapist. But of course, the rest of the film only works because nobody Borat encounters knows anything about Kazakhstan. I had no problem laughing after the first ten minutes.

And geez, the people say the most shocking things. The drunk frat boys go on an unprovoked rant about the proper place of women and minorities; the rodeo owner goes on a homophobic, xenophobic tirade; the etiquette society members get up and leave when the (black) prostitute (fake, I'm pretty sure) arrives for the party. And it all works amazingly well, because in pretending Kazakhstan is a sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic, backwards place, Cohen is able to get self-righteous Americans to unknowingly expose those elements in themselves.

There are people, like the driving instructor, the humor coach, and the car salesman, who don't come off so badly. Mainly because you can see in their faces how they decide to just do their job and not react to the particular weirdness that Cohen throws at them.

The whole thing isn't just interviews intended to get red state folks to embarrass the U.S., though. There's a loose plot involving an obsession with Pamela Anderson, and some of the scenes were obviously faked (like the Jewish couple, the prostitute, and Pamela Anderson). At least all logic points to those ones being faked, but maybe I was overthinking it. Along the way, there's also a bizarre nude scene.

My favorite line, though, has to be when Borat is at the rodeo and shouts into the microphone in his fake accent that Kazakhstan "supports your war of terror," and people cheer. That took guts. I don't know how Cohen didn't laugh or cry while filming the movie, but I'll give a fellow history dork mad acting props.

I still like Ali G better, though.

Post-turkey vegging

Either the tryptophan has made me extra-happy and uncritical, or the post-Thanksgiving movie fest (to avoid the shopping frenzy) has been particularly good this year.

Technically the vegging started the night before the turkey was carved, with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which both I and a friend hadn't seen in like ten years. And for good reason. This is the odd film out in the trilogy --Indiana Jones is at his best when he's fighting Nazis and protecting biblical relics, not
eating shock-value foods that have nothing to do with real Indian cuisine. Besides, IJ's love interest in Temple of Doom is a ninny. We had fun heckling. And I won't watch it again for another ten years or so.

Batman Begins was cool, despite Katie Holmes and (again) the vague "yellow peril" undercurrent. (Wooooo, Asia as the source of ancient, mysterious secrets that teach truthseekers how to master the mind and body.... It's been done and overdone. But the scene with the ninjas, where Batman outsmarts his mentor, was really cool.) And Batman has some sweet gadgets and gear. Good superhero movie overall.

Shanghai Knights was good, despite all the anachronisms. Normally anachronisms irritate me (a la Zorro), but this was all done in good fun. Everyone in this movie is portrayed ridiculously, from the evil duke in line for the throne to the London street urchin to the keeper of the seal of the Forbidden City. I saw Shanghai Noon a long time ago and remember I liked it, too. It was delightfully goofy. And Jackie Chan always has some creative fight sequences and funny bloopers.

The old classic White Christmas was good, as always. I could sing along to most of the songs, as well as happily ignore the man-as-knight-on-a-white horse idea. It's the holidays. I love holiday specials. And holiday music. And holiday commercials. And all that cheese.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Ahoy, matey!

Was not expecting to have minor surgery this afternoon, but it turns out the small bump underneath my eyelid could be removed with a small incision after applying local anesthesia. I got to wear an eye patch for two hours afterwards, and pretend to be a pirate! My mom was not amused. Now it just looks like I have the remnants of a tame black eye, but I can still pretend to be all hardcore.

Avast, me hearties!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Rebus

+ =

(Izze sparkling pomegranate pop + my favorite movie = good times)

Friday, November 17, 2006

If Only Big X had Obi Wan's powers!

Not so much the Star Wars geek, but The Great Escape is the movie I've seen the most and can quote most easily. Watched it every Friday one summer in middle school. Long story.

This has been the week from hell. Have gotten little sleep each night since Tuesday, hope I never have to visit an ICU again, sent a soppy, depressing email to half my address book, and will miss a very dear friend.

So this video, passed on by Torgo, made me laugh a little harder than I probably should have. Wish it had really happened, and that they'd all been saved!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Trilogy blues

When Sharon Kay Penman wrote Here Be Dragons, which I liked, I don't know if she intended it to be the first in a trilogy. Because she ended it so perfectly, on a happy note, with the protagonists finally reunited and the little Welsh clan momentarily at peace.

But, since she's writing a historical novel and these people actually lived and died, in book two she has to kill off everyone she didn't in book one. Since it's the early 13th century, most of them died either by some horrible (and now probably preventable) disease or in some gruesomely violent act.

First of all, one of the main characters is Simon de Montfort, so I knew it couldn't end well; reading descriptions of the Battle of Evesham in college was enough to burn lasting, horrifying images into my mind. Because the story spans 30 years and skips around between de Montfort's attempts to bring representative government to England and Llewellyn ap Gryffud's attempts to save Wales from both itself and the English, none of the characters that are dying off have been fully developed. There's no time to get to like any of them.

And geez. It can only get worse from here! Penman leaves the story with Henry III still alive and his son Edward, who grows up to be the Hammer of the Scots, running around all power-hungry. He's also the one that eventually steals the title of Prince of Wales for his son after conquering the Welsh, which means half the characters and families from books one and two will suffer humiliating and cultural defeat. Not sure if I want to read the third and final book, because it won't be a happy one.

Book one was about Llewellyn the Great. Why would I want to read about Longshanks? This is the guy that steals the Stone of Scone! I might as well just pick up where Grandpa made me start reading as kid, with the slightly boring Balliol saga.

But I can cross that bridge when it book three arrives from the library.

One Republican I'll miss

Toby Nixon. State legislator from one of the Seattle suburbs. He was trounced by a totally random Democrat last Tuesday. But he was a moderate, and he stuck out his neck on a lot of privacy issues, when a lot of Democrats were too chicken, and I'm sorry he won't be back in Olympia in January.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Moved a couch today. In the rain. In the pouring rain. That sounds like a Hemingway story, but it's not. And actually, it wasn't raining too hard. And the couch was fairly light. Moved it from Fabulous Girl's near-empty apartment to the basement apartment of Friday's shopping buddy. Whose dad technically helped move the couch too. . . .

But still!!! I feel all buff and capable and hear-me-roar-ish!

Little turquoise dress

After Stranger Than Fiction, I went shopping with a friend, who now has her entire winter wardrobe. The problem when I go shopping with others is that I don't buy anything, but I get all these ideas. Then in the next day or two I run out and overdo it. So yesterday I went back to Anthropologie and bought the most expensive dress I have ever bought (not counting the formal dress for Torgo's wedding and the bridesmaid dress for my sister's wedding -- participation in weddings doesn't count. Plus my mom paid for those. . . .) Anyways, wore it to the Emerald City Swank, the Seattle Works annual fundraiser last night. Must also wear it to the annual dinner for work next weekend, and every other possible outing this winter.

I realized that, though it's been about five years since I've salsa'd and a few months since I've done swing dancing, I can fake both pretty well!

It was also incredibly ironic that this year, I cut back on the number of silent auctions items I bid on, and yet won tickets to an improv show. For the past four years I've been attending the Swank, I'd rush around bidding on a ton of items, then panicking that I'd have to pay for them all, then getting outbid on everything. It was kind of like crack. Very addictive. Very bad. Messed me up in the head. I'm over all that now.

The Truth Can Sometimes Be ...

Saw Stranger Than Fiction on Friday. Normally I don't like Will Ferrell (except in SNL), but this one was good. He plays a guy whose life is mysteriously narrated by an author. Emma Thompson was brilliant as the eccentric artist who has writer's block and can't figure out how to kill her main character. Dustin Hoffman is almost the same character as his existential detective in I Heart Huckabees, but is still quirky and cool.

As I mentioned to a friend, while playing Taboo until 3 a.m., Will Ferrell's character reminded me a lot of J. Alfred Prufrock. He calculates life so exactly and has such a predictable routine, while people all around him are having fun and laughing. he knows death is imminent and feels he has to change his life somehow.

Still, you can't approach the film as if it were a serious commentary on life and death. There were some holes in the plot: Emma Thompson's mysterious narrative power is never explained, Will Ferrell's fate can easily be changed, and I doubt Harvard Law students live in dorms. But it was a good time.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Mas y mas

Muchas gracias to Xtina, who let me know that her home state just elected its first black governor. In my euphoria, I missed that. I've been mapping my new state legislature, and there are 10 new Dems, with 10 more races still too close to call. I should say, I've been mapping it in an impartial and nonpartisan manner for our lobbyist's impartial and nonpartisan presentation to the Board this weekend.

THIS is a good morning for America!

Now having to map out the state-level results for session-prep at work, but there's more good news from outside the Evergreen State: South Dakota defeated a horrible anti-choice initiative, as did California and Oregon.

Though my brother-in-law might be the last Latino to get a degree from the University of Michigan, the state at least voted to save the birds.

And Rumsfeld is stepping down.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Uber-happy dance!!!

This is awesome. And it's not just the 3 strong drinks at the election night parties.

The first female Speaker of the House. Two more women elected overall (because 76 is sooo much more representative than 74, out of 535 voting members). The first black guy elected from Minnesota is also the first Muslim ever elected to Congress. Rick Santorum went down (smirk very much intended). Bernie Sanders moves on the the Senate! Cantwell re-elected here in WA, defeating her blatantly anti-immigrant opponent. Allen looks like he's losing by 1% in Virgina, but it's still too close to call. The estate tax in WA will not be repealed. It's been a good night, despite the fingernail-biting. And that's not counting the local state races, which are also looking good.

There's the bad news, of course. Michigan's constitutional amendment to ban affirmative action passed overwhelmingly. Arizona now has English as its official language (though it defeated a ban on marriage for same-sex couples, forbidding one form of discrimination doesn't make up for enacting another).

The two Independents I know, both running against incumbent Dems, didn't do so well: Linnea only has 4% right now here in WA , and Dexter has 9% in Maine. Obviously, the numbers will change as more ballots are counted. But more power to them for having the courage to run in the first place. They're both my heroes!

Happy dance!!!

I get help during legislative session (the first 3-4 months a year when I have no time during the day to eat or chit-chat)!!! Our Executive Director just approved a part-time temporary position to help with all the non-legislative stuff I still have to do.

Now I'll have time to eat lunch and smile!

Monday, November 06, 2006

More than just the shoes

It was just a matter of time. Imelda Marcos is opening her own fashion line.

Maybe there will be sub-collections called "Martial Law," "Political Prisoners," and "Aquino Assassination."

Anniversaries and birthdays

This is a terrible movie to watch if it's anywhere near the anniversary of a death in the family. I sniffled and sobbed through almost the whole thing.

I have no idea why I thought it was a comedy. I think it was a good movie, though. All the yelling and screaming and weird behavior and crying seemed true to life. I didn't quite see how the sexpot teenager character fit in, though; she added unnecessary drama, and her failed attempt to seduce the older married guy did nothing to further the plot.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

To Catch a Thief

I never saw the original, but I've seen both Ocean's 11 remake and Ocean's 12 on planes, with no sound. Watched them both today as I was -- finally!-- cleaning the apartment.

I liked 12 better. Maybe because I like art heist films. I thought the whole film was funny. Or at least, it was all pretty funny after sniffing various household cleaning fluids.


Saw The Prestige yesterday. I didn't read the book, but a friend gave me the synopsis, and it sounds really good too.

Two magicians (stage magicians, not Harry Potter types) start out as colleagues but end up as rivals. They try to outdo and sabotage each other's acts. The movie is told in several sets of flashbacks -- one is being tried for the other's murder. As a storytelling device, the trial-as-narrative is usually a good one. Overdone sometimes, but here it works well. The story is also moved along by each magician's journal entries, and flashbacks within flashbacks. It was very well done. I figured out one of the twists about 2/3 of the way through the movie, which took away the shock of the ending shot.

The story also switches back and forth between London and Colorado Springs, where electrical engineer Nikola Tesla has a lab and works to advance science, not magic. It's kind of funny that the (true) rivalry between Tesla and Thomas Edison, Edison is the thug hiring hit men to squash his opponent's ideas. In that way, the two scientists' rivalry mimics the two magicians'.

I disagree with the central notion that people like magic shows because they want to be deceived, though. I think it's a combination of curiosity and appreciation. There's a moment where, if you can't figure out how the magic is done, you clap for the good presentation of a clever ruse. Small children, I think, who aren't as cynical, will clap because there's the possibility that it really is magic, and there's more to the world than the easily explainable.

The film explores the darker side of magic acts. Some of the tricks to the acts are clever, some are just downright cruel, and the audience is blissfully happy because it is ignorant of everything that happens behind the curtain. That still doesn't mean they want to be decieved; they realize they're being tricked, they're just fine with not knowing how.

There's a segment where Hugh Jackman's character needs to find a body double, so his friends search the London streets and drag in some random guy that resembles him. The delightful irony of "trick" photogaphy goes so well with the movie's theme of magic --it took a good couple stares before I realized the lookalike was also played by Hugh Jackman. On a side note, it was also great to see Christian Bale (always a Newsie, sometimes a Swing Kid to me) not faking an American accent; and Scarlett Johanssen does a good job of faking her accent, too.

I'm putting the book on my reading list. Don't know when I'll get to it, but from my friend's description, it's very different and has entirely different creepy moments.

Friday, November 03, 2006

But I like the Q!

I had to wake up at 7am to drive back over the mountains to make a noon meeting, but I stopped at home to change. I wore one of my favorite new T-shirts:

And our resident Latin Scrabble champion got really excited and asked me different scenarios: If you could get rid of 2, which 2 would they be? If you could get rid of any of them, how many, and which ones? In my travel fatigue, I managed to think about it and respond. My answer to the second question was apparently different from what a league-level expert would do.

Like a band of ... Roma... we go down the highway

Took me 3 hours to drive over the mountains for a meeting. It should've only taken 1.5 hours (like it did to get out of Dodge and come home), but it was snowing on the way there and there were about 7 accidents slowing traffic on the way. I think I spent more hours on the road than in the town itself (which has the coolest Best Western I have ever stayed at, btw, but then again I've only stayed at like 3).

My favorite techno station copped out before I even reach the mountains --it's run out of a local high school communications class, so that's understandable. NPR lasted almost to the summit pass. But after that, the only clear station I got for a while was the local country station. Learned some interesting songs, like "Monday Mr. Mom," which made me happy in spite of the homemaker parent duties being associated with "Mom" and not "Dad" too. The other one I remember was "Tequila Makes Her Clothes Come Off," which wasn't as misogynistic as I thought it was going to be after the first chorus. The rest weren't as memorable, but I remember the content of some songs included a single mama working at a diner taking crap from all sorts of customers, but having it be worth it when her son graduates from college; an absent father being likened to an angel without a halo; one guy planning on talking to his grandpa as soon as he gets to heaven; and one about teenagers stealing wine, drinking it by the river, and driving through the countryside. And shucks, I liked it all.

And then when I reached the city limits I could switch back to beats and lyrics about dropping e and staying up all night at the dance club, shaking booty, and driving on pavement.