Thursday, March 29, 2007

SUM (B1:B4)

I have discovered Google Spreadsheets. They rock, and are extremely useful, especially if you stupidly thought "Why would I need Excel?" when buying your laptop, and therefore opted for the cheaper package without it.

Everything is now being spreadsheeted. Budget! Christmas present brainstorming! Birthdays!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

300 dance hits

Crack up every time I watch this video (and I've forwarded it a lot!), passed on courtesy of The Scot. And now every time I hear "It's Raining Men," I'll think of those oh-so-fabulous Spartans with their shaved chests and homoerotic undertones.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

If Peter Parker picked a peck of pickled peppers

For some odd reason, I've been on a comics-turned-into-movie roll (X-men, 300, etc.) The latest is Spiderman and Spiderman 2.

Hate is a strong word, especially for critters I can squash if they don't run away. But I really do hate this particular superhero's namesakes (and I'm still looking over my shoulder and on the ceiling as I'm typing.) So I didn't really see the first parts of Spiderman because I was covering my eyes for most of it. I don't care if they're CG arachnids, they're still repulsive...

The movies were kind of boring. Maybe it's just because Tobey Maguire isn't that great an actor, and neither is Kirsten Dunst. Or I'm in comic superhero formula overload (Superman Returns, Batman Begins, the X-men trilogy, and now Spiderman all within a space of five months.) At any rate, I wasn't that impressed. And during Aunt May's "There's a hero in all of us" speech, Mariah Carey's song kept playing in my head and I couldn't shake it for the rest of the movie. Also, the helpless love interests, a la Perils of Pauline, are starting to get on my nerves. Why do they always try to marry random guys just for the sake of getting married? And fall off buildings? And the bipolar villains in both S1 and S2 were practically the same character, just with different freak-of-science powers.

But I am well-armed culturally for S3 this summer...

Also, the gray, wet weather is back after a brief sun break. Which is always the cruelest joke of nature: taunt those Northwesterners with a day of sun, then plunge them back into seasonal affect disorder for three more months. Mwahaha.

On another note (but a more fascinating one), someone should write something about the role of the press in the superhero genre --mediator, rabble-rouser, voice of truth, etc. It would be more captivating than some stuff within the genre itself.

And speaking of the gym...

Back in the mid- 90s, one of my cousins moved to LA and visited at Christmas. At the grandparents', she asked if people in Seattle were into spinning yet, and if any of us knew a gym where she could take a class. Then she described what it was, and my sisters and I, along with our grandparents, were like, "Oh, a stationary bike? Yeah, all gyms have those. Grandma has one downstairs if you want to use that!" We didn't get why this was a group thing. Clearly the LA trend had yet to influence the hicks up north.

And since then, I've never gone to a spinning class at the gym. Until yesterday. Nae sae bad, either.

There was, however, a key learning moment 10 minutes into the exercising: if literally everyone else in the class is on a bike that is facing a mirror, take the hint and don't get on a bike facing away from the same mirror. Because if everybody else is facing the mirror behind you, it means yours is the only ass reflected and projected to everyone staring ahead for the long duration of the class. And there's a lot of standing up and bending involved in spinning.... the instructor didn't help anything by calling out frequently "Newcomer! You're doing great! Work it!" so that the 20 others (all really skinny people) would glance over. And in the mirror. So cruel.

Guilty pleasure #473

I reallyreallyreallyreally love the Pussycat Dolls. All of their songs. Especially the most famous one, of course. But really, they're all an automatic dance party. Who needs the gym?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Eats shoots and leaves

The only state to have the pronunciation of its name dictated by law since 1881 , Arkansas now has a law regarding how to use an apostrophe when referring to itself.

It's not Arkansas' -- it's Arkansas's.

The world can rest easy.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Really Big One

Over 300 years ago, in January of 1700 on the western calendar, scribes and magistrates up and down the coast of Japan recorded the effects of a tsunami. Various accounts told of a 6- to 10-foot wave coming in from the ocean. It was called the "orphan tsunami" because nobody in Japan felt an accompanying earthquake.

Meanwhile, in the last thirty years, geologists in Washington State have studied the tectonic plates in the western half of the state. They've examined deep soil deposits and patterns in coastal areas. By looking at topography and doing some carbon-dating of really old dead trees, and also paying attention to some local Native American lore, they figured out that there was a huge-ass earthquake out near the coast, circa 1700. A massive earthquake in Washington State generated a tsunami that reached Japan and was recorded in towns up and down its eastern coast. At first I didn't realize what the picture on the cover of the book was. When I did, it was pretty scary. And pretty awesome that the historical and geological detective work could solve the "case."

It's a great idea for a book. And The Orphan Tsunami of 1700 tries to tell the story. The primary sources, for starters, are super cool. The source material from Japan, both written and pictorial, is fascinating. And the pictures and diagrams illustrating the general concepts of geology are really neat too. So two sets of primary sources (the Japanese written accounts, and the earth itself) set themselves up for a fascinating tale.

Unfortunately, the book is written by scientists.

The chapters are horribly disjointed, and all the material is presented as boring, hard data. It's like the editors couldn't decide whether to first give the history of all known tsunamis and earthquakes, or a crash course in plate tectonics, or a crash course in shogunate Japan, or a lecture on the need for a better international tsunami response system, or a detailed survey of Washington's geology, or present the text from the Japanese contemporary accounts of the orphan tsunami. As a result, the book presents it all at once, in really confusing ways. To the point where the charts, graphics, and photos get the point across more clearly than the actual chapter text.

Also, the tone of the book suggests that a large portion of the authors' funding was intended for tsunami awareness/preparedness, because there are so many random references to what people should do in case of a tsunami or earthquake. The authors reference the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami a lot, as well as the 1960 Chile earthquake and the 1964 Alaska earthquake, and how the ensuing tsunamis affected people all around the Pacific Rim.

The 1700 event is such a gold mine in and of itself as an interesting topic; the other stuff, like the warnings about the threat of earthquakes and tsunamis, and the details about Chile and Alaska, are relevant but shouldn't take up as much space in the book as they do. Otherwise, why not just title it something generic like "Tsunamis and Earthquakes" and have a chapter on 1700?

On an entirely different note, X-Men: The Last Stand was really bad. The fun parts on the DVD were the deleted scenes, where there are like 5 alternate endings. Yes, Anna Paquin drugs herself so she can be "cured" and touch her boyfriend! No, never mind, she doesn't. Wolverine goes back to the wilds of Canada to find himself! No, never mind, he doesn't. The school re-opens, and everyone's enjoying the nice, sunny day outside! No, wait, we need to bring them indoors too. Storm kicks ass in the fight sequence! No, wait, but she should kick more.

It was really schizo and really cool. Must be fun to be a director sometimes...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Is It Really So Strange?

And the answer is yes. Yes, it is.

A friend got me to buy Morrissey's You are the Quarry three years ago in San Francisco; she did it by playing up the politics of "America is Not the World." (A good way to capture my interest in anything...) Since then, I've heard more Smiths or Morrissey songs, again mainly through other people -- I've had one song passive-aggressively emailed to me, and have enjoyed singing along when a friend has taken a personal karaoke CD of Smiths songs to various karaoke bars.

Is It Really So Strange? is a collection of interviews with Morrissey fans in and around L.A. Apparently, a huge amount of the fan base there is Latino. And/or gay. So the documentary tries to give voice to this particular fan phenomenon by recording conversations with mostly Latino kids who regularly attend Morrissey-themed events throughout the Inland Empire.

It's an interesting topic for a documentary, and I think it could've been mined for a lot more than it actually was. The most interesting points of the interviews were when fans attempted to explain why Latino kids related in such large numbers to the lyrics of a singer from Manchester. And not just felt moved by the music, either -- the kids mimic the hair and fashion of their idol as well. It's a whole fascinating subculture that has no easy or wrong explanations. (Apparently some mainstream media picked up on the Latino fan base before the documentary producer, though -- he mentions a few news agencies that did segments before him.)

The segments where the fans are speculating about Morrissey's sexuality, politics, and views on race are less interesting.

The problem is, I don't think the documentary had a budget. At all. Because the camera is a camcorder obviously on a tripod half the time, and the shots that aren't interviews are just photos on a table or wall.

And for a film about why Latino and/or gay fans in LA are moved by one artist's music, there's absolutely no music until the closing credits. So if the viewer is unfamiliar with any songs by the Smiths or Morrissey, you have no idea what everyone's talking about when they mention specific songs that they felt validated their social alientation or prompted them to come out to their parents. (Maybe there were royalty issues involved, and the writer/producer didn't feel like paying...)

I liked it, though. It could have gone deeper, interviewed more people, edited and packaged better. But for what it was, it was pretty good. Definitely creative.

My favorite T-shirt featured in the film: "Hispanic on the Streets of London." =) Hahaha!

300 laughs

Background: The Directors in the office were all at a Directors' retreat, but playing hooky was out of the question because there were a few non-Directors in the office who you knew were taking attendance. However, there were also 14 cases of beer in the office kitchen, leftover from an event. The person whose event it was announced that at 5, she'd bust out the beer. I sneaked one out at 3:30.

By the time I made it to the theatre to see 300, I'd had four, and I sneaked a fifth in, in my coffee mug. (It marked the first time I've ever smuggled alcohol into a movie theatre. Or anywhere, for that matter.)

I never read the graphic novel, but I did have to read Herotodus in high school. 300 does a good job of conveying exactly how hard-core the Spartans were. Come back with your shield or on it! Throw the kid out and see if he survives! Only Spartan women give birth to real men!

It was ridiculous. I can understand how Iranians might be a little angry. Xerxes and his invading hordes are overly racialized. In case the audience can't tell that they're Middle Eastern or drawn from various parts of the modern Muslim world, they're all wearing tagelmousts and carrying scimitars. The ones that aren't are depersonalized with spooky silver masks. So you never really see their faces, except for Xerxes, whose voice betrays that he is really a machine.

If the defending-freedom-against-the-savage-Middle-Easterner metaphors were too subtle, the queen gives a speech before the Spartan Council, where she evokes "liberty" and "justice" against tyranny.

And speaking of synonyms for freedom ... The guy who plays Leonidas is Scottish, and you can hear it in his rallying cries. So whenever he yells "Spartans!" it's like Braveheart all agonizingly over again. Plus, the entire movie was copper-tinged, a la Gladiator. Also stolen from Gladiator: meeting up in the wheatfields.

All the black guys die. They're all just messengers or henchmen, but they're the first to die.

There was one scene where the audiene cheered: when the queen gets her revenge before the Council. I'll leave it at that.

In summary, within ten minutes it became obvious the movie wasn't really about the Battle of Thermopylae (I'm pretty sure Xerxes didn't bring rhinos and elephants with him). It was about the Spartan-led Coalition of the Willing. The other Greek city-states are philosophers and sissies but know the Persians are a threat, and only Sparta has the cajones to stand up to Xerxes' army.

A friend pointed out it could also be the reverse: 300 shows what happens when foreigners invade a country (led by a leader whose father failed to invade the same country), and a small number of natives defend it. That's a cleverer interpretation, but one I doubt the record-breaking box-office ticket buyers on opening day came to.

I'm disturbed that my future brother-in-law loved (and I mean loooooved) this movie....

Friday, March 16, 2007

A Tale of Two Luke Wilsons

Idiocracy was not what I expected. But then I can't quite figure out what I expected.... There's really not a lot to say.

Okay, there's a lot to say, but it's just difficult without over-analyzing it. And nobody likes an over-analyzer. So I'll stick to the pros and cons. The cons are more disturbing aspects of the futuristic scenario, and the pros are mainly small insights into current cultural trends.

The premise of the movie is that Luke Wilson and Maya Rudolph are "average" Americans who "hibernate" as part of an experiment and end up re-emerging into society in 2505, when Americans have become complete dumb-asses due to many factors. (Smart people didn't procreate/dumb people did being the main one.) In this future, everybody laughs almost exclusively at fart jokes.

Cons/disturbing aspects:
* The dumb-ass American population of 2505 is very ethnically diverse. The (dumb-ass) President of the (dumb-ass) country is even black! The country devolves that far!
*The 2505 language is supposedly a blend of "hillbilly meets ghetto." Talk about two stereotypes of who is "dumb..."
* Women are all hos and bitches and used for nothing but sex
* Maya Rudolph's character is supposed to be "average" for 2005? Cuz I thought she fit in pretty well in 2505...

Pros/interesting points:
* Large corporations sponsor the government and economy, so everything is "brought to you by..." including the opening session of Congress.
* All citizens have to have an ID barcode tattooed on their wrist. (Because REAL ID can't come too soon...)
* The criminal justice system merges with live entertainment to become a Colosseum-like spectacle.

Rushmore was better. It's definitely quirky. But I liked Wes Anderson's Royal Tenenbaums (mainly because it's a dark comedy, and it was right after a death in the family).

It's also kind of a sad little teenage drama. Sad in that, you both like and disklike the character. (Dude, why would you think the teacher would actually date you? Oh right, you're 15... Don't worry! Life gets better!)

But it's funny.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Courtesy of the red, white, and blue

In general, the second movie in a trilogy is usually the worst (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Matrix Reloaded.) X2 was no exception. It relied too heavily on action sequences, and wrapped up some loose ends (like Wolverine's past and the whole thing with Jean) a little too neatly.

I found myself thinking that maybe the imaginary Congress should institute a registration process for mutants. Flame-throwers? Retractable hand blades? Mind-reading? Walking through walls? These powers should be regulated for the human and mutant public's safety! Even if there's an imminent war, mutant behavior should be controlled for the good of everyone! Laws to determine when they can and can't use their "talents"! Numbers on their forearms! National ID cards! Yellow stars... oops, wait...

I had to keep smacking myself.

Then I wondered, maybe I'm only thinking this way because I just finished John Moe's hilarious Conservatize Me. Moe, a local NPR guy and McSweeney's regular, decided to immerse himself in what he perceived to be conservative culture(s) to better understand America's political divide. During "The Experiment" he traveled around the country, talking to conservative political theorists, hanging out with Young Republicans, listening to conservative talk radio and country music, and visiting museums to conservative presidents. He's a funny writer, so the book is amusing. (By the end, he's telling his four-year-old not to take The Lorax too seriously because of its pro-environment message.)

It was also the kind of book that, because I grew up and live in the same city as the author, has familiar places and incidents an in-jokes. All of which were definitely cool, because Seattle is not a place that gets a lot of attention.
(Incidentally, because I live in the same city as Moe, I had momentary flashes of panic when reading the book in public, thinking people would see the big red elephant on the cover and want to beat me up. And sure enough, I did notice people squinting to read the title...)

The book is tongue-in-cheek, to be sure. And as a funny, light-hearted personal tale intended to be satirical, it's good. But as a social and political commentary, not so much.

It took Moe an awful long time to come to the very basic realization that "liberal" and "conservative" are not homogenous, monolithic entities, that they are not synonymous with "Democrat" and "Republican," and that there is indeed a ton of middle ground and grayness. He assumes liberals and conservatives don't normally associate with each other, and it's only because his own life and background don't put him into contact with folks that don't think the way he does that The Experiment can exist in the first place.

I found it jarring (and reinforcing of both privilege and stereotypes) that the people Moe spoke to on his conservative journey were all white males. He talks to women, but usually by accident, and usually only the clerks, museum workers, church volunteers, or office staff. Actually, he just needs to take the #55 bus from his house, transfer to the #54, and stay on to the end of the line, in White Center, where largely Vietnamese and Cambodian immigrant business owners have Bush signs up every election. And even if Ann Coulter didn't respond to his request for an interview, it wouldn't be that hard to find another self-identified conservative female or three to ask questions. It would have given him a better perspective, I think, on what he was looking for. Instead, he took stereotypes to the extreme and went off to a country music concert, Mormonland, the Reagan museum, and Wal-mart. (Similarly, until the end of the book, Moe assumes "liberals" all believe the same things, too.)

What I did find weird was that, unlike most people I know (regardless of how they vote or pray or not), Moe doesn't have family members or even acquaintances with differing views of politics, religion, or music. And he seems to assume the vast majority of Americans don't, either. I guess his Thanksgivings, winter holidays, Fourths of July, and other social gatherings are devoid of debate of any kind. Unfortunately, this is the premise for his Experiment.

I'm not making light of the political chasm, because despite the gray areas, there is one, and there actually are a lot of people of all leanings who don't encounter "others" very much -- whether "other" is a gay person, someone who doesn't believe in evolution, a black person, a gun rights advocate, a Catholic, a Buddhist, a Republican,
or a Muslim. But the book is written by and for and marketed to middle-class urban liberals, and it relies on certain images of "others" to make its points.

In the end, The Experiment defined the "other" purely in relation to the "self" -- a big methodological no-no in the social sciences.

Again, it makes for great satire. But not an empirical study.

Maybe I should write the author. Or just go bang on his door...

Honey, I'm Still Free

I'm not the biggest Audrey Tautou fan, because most of the time she plays the same character: hip, single Parisienne just trying to make a living and find love in a big, scary, impersonal world that turns out not to be so big, scary, or impersonal. It's the same in Happenstance.

It's kind of like the film version of The Pinball Effect. Except that instead of incidents evolving from the smallest, seemingly insignificant encounters, this basically comes to the conclusion that nothing is pure chance and every tiny action has extremely meaningful consequences. Whether it's the result of a complex set of coincidences in an urban social system or God's design or both is never really spelled out. But horoscopes, tarot cards, and the full moon all factor into the storyline.

I think the film is more concerned with making a cute romantic comedy (and it succeeds) rather than an airtight philosophical statement. Which is fine. It's a good little feel-good French film.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Carpetbaggers and scalawags

A couple of years ago my sister, who happened to be dating a Nigerian at the time, pointed out that while all the Disney cartoons that take place on every other continent feature people (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Mulan, Hercules, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Emperor's New Groove), the two Disney cartoons that take place in Africa (Tarzan, The Lion King) don't actually feature Africans. As in, black people.

I've often returned to this comment of hers, to remind myself that there is still a glimmer of hope that she can deconstruct images .... and that perhaps she will gain new insight into post-colonial social identities once she changes her last name to a Samoan one. However, this is probably not a memory to mention in the upcoming maid-of-honor speech I need to draft for her wedding....

At any rate, I was reminded of her comment recently as I was listening to the Aladdin soundtrack. Never mind why I was recently listening to it. Suffice to say, I was. (As a tween I was big into singalongs and musicals, and the parents were okay with Disney. Disney combined with church choir set the stage for the recently-discovered, out-and-proud karaoke diva.)

So since I had all the Disney cartoon songs memorized as a kid, I noticed the lyrics to the opening song "Arabian Nights" was different on a later version of the soundtrack than they are in the original.

I remember the original being: Oh, I come from a land / From a faraway place / Where the caravan camels roam / Where they cut off your ear / If they don't like your face / It's barbaric but hey, it's home.

In the mysteriously-changed lyrics, the ear and face bit is changed to: Where it's flat and immense / And the heat is intense. . . .

A quick google search reveals that the lyrics were changed in 1993 on both the audio and video releases due to protests from the ADC and others. Interesting, the stuff that goes on around you when you're an adolescent, stuff that you'll care about later (even organizations you'll work with...) but aren't on your radar at the time.

Word of Wisdom Learned the Hard Way #549

Note to self: when one of your favorite songs starts to play at the gym and you're on the stationary bike, don't try to chair dance to it. Unbeknownst to you, there might be people behind you watching, and you might start to fall off the bike and have to catch yourself on the neighboring piece of machinery. Then you'll hear their loud gasps and know you looked really, really pathetic.

Monday, March 05, 2007

I got in to grad school!

My first choice, too. In Beantown.

Must now see if combination of loans, indentured servitude, and Mom make it financially viable.

But still. Happy dance! Some committee out there loves me...

I really don't know karaoke bars at all

"Both Sides Now" by Joni Mitchell should not be remixed and have the key changed on an unsuspecting karaoke singer who was thinking she'd be singing a mellow tune, not a dance hit.

Not that there's anything wrong with dance hits. (I have like 5 remixed version of Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone." Which is, as a side note, always a dedication song for me....)

Almost anything else can be technified. But not Joni Mitchell!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

What dreams may come

I really liked Waking Life. Maybe because I also liked Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise and Before Sunset (which he gives a shout-out to by having Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy appear in a scene). Plus, I like movies that are dialogue-heavy. At any rate, the idea of the main character having conversations on the meaning of life and existence with a ton of different people, and then coming to the conclusion that he's in a dream he can't wake up from, and then suspecting he's dead, was pretty cool. I was tempted to critique the content of half the conversations, but then realized that would be moot -- the point of the movie wasn't to communicate a coherent and unified philosophy, it was partly to show that people's experiences dictate their behavior in different ways. And that maybe it all doesn't matter, if life and all its behavior is merely a "controlled" dream. The rotoscoping amplified this surrealism; it somehow stripped characters of their human fronts and left them with only their ideas.

And I finally watched X-Men. It was entertaining. I liked the idea of mutants as the new "other" and attempting to parallel historically marginalized groups: Congress has hearings to consider segregating them, there's a U.N. summit, mutants are ostracized. It also follows the standard coming-of-age story: adolescents face the drama that accompanies their changing selves, know there's a larger, bigger society out there but have to learn how they fit into it without compromising their uniqueness. The characters are all mysteries at this point (who the heck are they? What are their stories? Why is Wolverine so immediately overprotective of Rogue? Why is such a smart woman like Dr. Jean Grey with an obvious putz like Cyclops?) Must now watch the rest of the trilogy to see if there are answers....

Saturday, March 03, 2007

How now, wit; whither wander you?

Grandpa gave me this book mid-summer, and since then it's been the book I fall asleep to: read a few pages of quips every other day or so before nodding off. There also sections where the author, Mardy Grothe, explains what his definitions of ripostes, rejoinders, chiastic repartee, and oxymoronic repartee are. Most of the clever comebacks are part of legend and lore now.

The book is a bit heavy on the Winston Churchill, Mae West, Dorothy Parker, George Bernard Shaw, and Oscar Wilde. It's also sectioned off into chapters like Political Repartee, Sports Repartee, Literary Repartee, Stage and Screen Repartee, Chiastic Repartee, and Risque Repartee (which is all pretty tame, though Grothe warns readers not to read if they are easily shocked and offended).

My only quibble is the delivery style, where the smackdown delivery is formatted so that the rank-off comment is isolated and bolded, and the reader left to admire and exalt the word of wit, like so:

Oh snap! That was a good one!

I'm a little unsure why I was randomly given this book. Did some cousin complain that I was too often smacking them down (if so, I have my suspicions which one...)? Or did Grandpa think I was sorely lacking in the mental preparedness arena, and needed help formulating comebacks? I guess I'll never know for sure, though I'm confident it's neither!

So, in memoriam, here's one I think Grandpa would have liked:
"In the fourth century B.C., ... Sparta was at war with Macedonia, which was ruled at the time by Philip II, father of Alexander the Great. As Philip and his army gathered on the outskirts of the city, he send a message to Spartan leaders: 'You are advised to submit immediately. If I enter Laconia, I shall raze Sparta to the ground.' The Spartans defiantly [replied]:


Sam I Am

Mr. Coffee came out of banishment today, after three months.

I mentioned this while talking to my sister and discussing the pictures from her ultrasound (newest name consideration, based on otherworldly resemblance, is Roswell). Then she mentioned a girl in her grad program, who apparently at one point didn't have a stove. The girl used the water percolater and the heating pad on her coffeemaker to make all her meals: ramen, fried eggs, etc.

First reaction: Wow, why not just buy a cheap skillet?
Second reaction: Actually, that's pretty innovative.
Third reaction: Ooooh... Mr. Coffee's still all hot and bothered from this morning's re-emergence...

So I tried it.

Not scrambled eggs or anything (mainly because my fridge is pretty empty right now). I re-heated my toast in order to melt the butter. It took a little longer than the effort was worth. But eventually the toast warmed up and the butter pats transformed into little yellow puddles.

And now, off to yoga and the pretense of sanity. But the gym is right above a grocery store, where I could always buy a half-carton carton of eggs...

Friday, March 02, 2007

A senseless world

We wanted to watch Equilibrium because it had both Christian Bale and Taye Diggs.

The fight sequences are great. But the movie tries a little too hard to be both The Matrix and 1984. The general idea: it is the future! Civilization has avoided war by eliminating feelings, which cause things like anger and jealousy and rage. A Big Brother-like leader runs the country, and everybody has to take a drug that makes them stop feeling. But there's a rebellious underground, consisting of people who stop taking the drug (they're called "sense-offenders.")

Christian Bale and Taye Diggs are "clerics" who run around burning books and art and anything that can evoke sense or feelings in humans. For some reason, sense-offenders are packrats who hoard all of these objects behind walls. At any rate, Christian Bale goes off his meds, and all sorts of stuff goes down. There's a woman he's interested in. He saves a puppy. It's all rather funny.

There are a ton of logical inconsistencies with the film (the biggest being that all the characters exhibit feelings.) There are also a lot of questions. Is the film trying to make a statement about overly drugging individuals (à la Garden State, where Zack Braff is a zombie until he stops taking Prozac)? Is it anti-censorship? Antiwar? Anti-pharmaceutical? It's none of these things, in the end. But it's a fun thing to watch with a group and pick apart. While staring at Christian Bale.