Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Gimme some sugar, baby

Army of Darkness saved my sanity this past weekend.

It was the perfect post-wedding, non-thinking/nonsense, zombie/time travel ridiculous movie to watch after an alcohol-free, dance-free, perpetually late-starting event.

I had previously only seen A Common Man's poster of it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

1933 and where?

This made me irate:
A modern-day book burning
Midtown shop owner protests what he sees as a diminishing support for the printed word. (AP)
Yeah, yeah, yeah, First Amendment rights. It's just incredibly ironic.

I got an email alert to sign a petition to the guy. I did. Apparently he's considering donating them to one of several organizations that's offered to take them off his hands.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Let me not to the marriage...

My brother-in-law tells me that I looked livid during the whole wedding address, which focused on the sanctity of marriage, how it is being attacked today, and defined marriage as between a man, woman, and God. He was sitting in the front row and took pictures as evidence. Apparently it's very obvious in the video -- I was standing behind the speaker.

My maid of honor speech went over well. I got the most laughs. Not that it was a competition or anything...

The quick highlights:

* Island time! Everything started at least an hour late. So yes, the Palmer side all got there early and had to wait forever.

* The photographer, who was booked very last minute, basically followed the guests around and sponged off of their shots. He didn't direct any photos or make any suggestions. It was actually kind of hilarious, to see him trailing behind the small crowd of camera-carrying guests.

* The groomsmen were all huge fans of The 300. So we kept hearing their rallying cry of "Spartans! Spartans!" in Kiwi accents. Everywhere.

* The bride put the wrong hotel on the invitations, so half the guests went to the wrong hotel first for the reception.

* There were 11 total toasts or speeches on the reception program. The first one was offered to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. With water. Which I find a little ironic, given Jesus' first miracle, at a wedding in Cana. The Martinelli's arrived late, sometime during the fourth or fifth toast.

* The bride's family accidentally stumbled upon the reception program in the limo from the church to the reception. That's when we realized half of the insanity of the wedding planning was the bride being flaky, and the other half was her hiding the fact that the pastors were orchestrating the whole thing.

* The first dance was some random song I wouldn't even recognize if I heard it again. But at least it wasn't "Bless the Broken Road"!

* Turns out the "first" dance was also the only dance, unless you count the Polynesian troupe of girls from the church that performed twice.

* My brother-in-law was asked to put together a PowerPoint presentation of the couple's respective childhoods and then eventual life together (we were joking that they wanted a photo montage of "the broken road.") Problem was, there are only like nine pictures of them together to begin with. Then there was the issue of the groom's childhood pictures being in black and white, which made him look a hell of a lot older than he really is. The bro also had to try valiantly to mask the huge age difference between the two, by sticking in a lot of the bride's pictures from college.

* Most people who spoke from the groom's side mentioned the fact that it was a wedding of "widow's children." But they referred to the bride's childhood as if her dad had died when she was 2 and not 20. As a sibling of the bride, I was a little offended. It's not like we were raised fatherless. And the bride didn't correct anyone! La Madre eventually did, in her allotted speech time, but still. By then, it had already been harped on at least five times.

There were also so many layers of ethnic, cultural, and religious factors to deconstruct. When missionaries arrived in Samoa in the early to mid-19th century, traditional Samoan community leaders became pastors. They were then recognized as leaders by both their people and the British/Americans/Germans.

The groom's entire family are pastors.
So by default, all of the speeches by family members were mini sermons. Which meant I was the only speaker at both the ceremony and reception that didn't mention God.

And damn! Coming from an oral tradition means not only a lot of speeches, but long ones too! And we thought Palmers could blab...

In the end, despite the fact that the bride's family had to spend six hours venting to each other yesterday, the couple themselves seemed happy.

Now accepting bets for when the first kid arrives...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Alive, alive-o

So, a small victory and a new and infuriating "WTF?" moment in the wedding plans.

The good news first: there might be a different song for the first dance, because they don't actually have a version of "their" song, "Bless the Broken Road." They do, however, have an entire CD my sister and I burned of other songs. When I left the house, it was playing, so we think they might switch.

A related tangent, speaking of songs: as a kid I always liked the song "Molly Malone." I didn't, however, realize there was a statue of her in Dublin's fair city until about eight years ago, when I zipped over to Dublin for a weekend trip, and stumbled upon the statue. There were various reactions in our group, ranging from "Damn!" to "Cool!" to "Go Molly!"

And now, the bad news regarding the wedding: the pastors have decided (two days before the wedding) that I'm showing too much cleavage in the bridesmaid's dress. (The bride emailed them a picture of me in it...) The fourth bridesmaid is considerably larger, and they've determined that the two of us will detract from attention that should be focused on the bride alone. Which is doublespeak for "We're uncomfortable with how comfortable you are in that dress."

I fail to see how this is anyone's business but the bride's. As in, the one who chose our dresses in the first place. But whatever....

So after brainstorming every solution (scarves, strategically-placed bows, shawls, camisoles) and buying lengths of silk that kindofsortofnotreally match the dresses, four screaming Palmer women and the larger bridesmaid and pastors (via phone) reached a happy medium: pinning pieces of silk across the front of the dresses. Artfully.

I plan to light the bra-burning bonfire sometime after the cake-cutting...

The revolution will not be televised.

Can't take the sky from me

I finished watching the Firefly series a few days ago, so I finally watched the follow-up movie Serenity.

Normally I don't like sci-fi. But the series was innovative enough to capture my interest for the 4 DVD discs. By "innovative" I mean it's really only half sci-fi. The other half is western, and I like westerns. The random insertion of Chinese phrases, chopsticks, and Asian decor was also kind of fascinating. The TV series felt more like a post-Civil War drifter story. It just happened to take place in a galaxy far, far away.

The movie, though, was a little different. Instead of focusing on all the characters, it really only focused on River, the psychic child prodigy who was tortured by . The evil Alliance sends the Operative to capture and kill River, who is having gruesome flashbacks, and the crew of the rogue ship travel through territory infested by zombie-like creatures to the scene of a crime River has buried in her subconscious. They escape and try to tell the world.

There are some kick-ass kick-butt action sequences. There are also some scenes where I involuntarily yelled "Nooooooo!!!!!" when they kill of characters I didn't think they'd kill off.

The movie was darker, though. There weren't as many light moments or humor that a TV series allows. The camera angles are also really different (wide shots as opposed to the series' up-close ones). And all the actors are noticeably older, which is weird, given that the movie was made only three years after the series ended.

As finales go, Serenity was good. It focused more on just ending it all, rather than on character development, so that fans could finally get closure.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

More things in heaven and earth!

So in the fourth Thursday Next book, the soap opera drama ends and her husband is finally re-actualized. The heroine also has to save Hamlet from character insurrections; a croquet match and cloned neanderthals determine the fate of England; an escaped fictional character manages to become a real-life dictator; there are several journeys to the Jasper Fforde equivalent of the River Styx; and, of course, the time-traveling breaks every preconceived notion about the plot that the readers might have had. Once again, it's sheer brilliance!

The most hilarious and brilliant part: Thursday's 2-year-old son Friday babbles in Lorem Ipsum, the nonsense placeholder text. Awesome!

The second coolest part: the aforementioned croquet match gets to have attorneys challenging accordance with the rules of the game, as if the whole thing were in court. So the lawyers frantically searching for case precedents also get subs!

The one thing I smacked myself for missing the whole time: the pun on the Hamlet quote. Despite one character's rarely-mentioned first name being Yorrick and the presence of the Danish prince throughout the book, I didn't see the line coming. Mmmph!

Book Five comes out in July!

So Far Ordinary

No idea how I ended up with two Netflix movies with "Life" in the title. But I did, and neither was that great. (Oddly, they both also had a Scottish theme....)

In A Life Less Ordinary, Cameron Diaz is essentially the same character she always is (spoiled and gregarious), and Ewan McGregor's character was essentially ripped from Moulin Rouge. The premise of the story is that Ewan accidentally ends up kidnapping Cameron, and two angels are dispatched to make sure they end up happily ever after. I actually didn't think they had any chemistry, so the whole idea of them falling in love didn't seem very believable. It was a dark comedy, which I appreciated, but it seemed like it was more a patchwork of a lot of other movies (like, say, anything with angels and/or road trips) than its own.

Then again, I might be projecting, since I'm a little cynical about anything lovey-dovey or wedding-related right now. Maybe I should lay off the romantic comedies for a few weeks and watch a lot of war movies instead.

My Life So Far, based on the memoirs of a British TV mogul (according to wikipedia), was similarly clichéd. The story is told from the point-of-view of a 10-year-old boy in 1927 growing up on a huge Scottish country estate. There are adults having affairs, dying, and agonizing over adult things all around him, but The Boy is Just a Boy, and is too innocent to understand it all just yet. It's the typical idealized post-WW1 idyllic childhood, where jazz --gasp!-- epitomizes loose morals and carefree attitudes that are so shocking and yet so alluring.

I, um, put it in my queue because it stars Colin Firth as the kid's father.

I think I'll watch The Great Escape for the billionth time...

Saturday, May 19, 2007

America's Finest News Source

Gotta love The Onion:

Idaho Legislature Declares English Only Language They Know

May 18, 2007

BOISE, ID—The Idaho Legislature passed a unanimous resolution Monday declaring English the only language the elected assembly knows how to speak, write, or understand.

"We're putting into law a general feeling that everyone here has had for years: English is the only language we know, and English is the only language we want to know," Lt. Gov. James E. Risch said during a press conference outside the State Capitol building. "It's a good language, serves us well in matters of communication, and we can't think of any good reason to go around knowing some other language that we have no use for."

The legislature is expected to pass a separate resolution later this week officially declaring out-of-towners "suspicious."
Seriously, I swear that's what xenophobic English-only laws are really about...

A nice bottle of Glenfiddich for the flask, I think

I think some people get married for the wrong reasons. (Note to the four known married people who read this blog --your respective weddings and/or Seattle celebration dinners rank in my Top Five Most Fun Weddings Ever. I don't mean you.) Namely, I think some people get married because they think they "should" -- based on how old they are or what their careers are or what they think will bring them "stability" or "respectability" or whatever else they think is "expected" of them.

Am a bit agitated about the idea of marriage because a few more things have emerged about my sister's wedding, which will be in a week:
  • They don't know what their vows will be; they plan on repeating whatever the minister tells them, and may not even practice at the rehearsal. They could potentially hear them for the first time at the altar.
  • There's no plan for the reception. My other sister and I were aghast when we found out and had to sketch out a suggested timeline (as in, if the room is only reserved from 1-7 p.m., designate an emcee or DJ now, have the bridal party announced at 1:30, lunch served at 2:00, speeches at 2:30, first dance at 3:00, etc. They hadn't even thought about any of this yet....!)

  • They haven't seen the decorations. A lady from their church is taking care of it all, but hasn't shared her vision for the "look."

  • We might have to dance to Michael W. Smith or Avalon. The bride loves to groove privately to hip-hop, Latin pop, and R&B, but doesn't want to have "questionable" lyrics at the wedding for the teenagers in her youth group (or her new in-laws the ministers) to hear. Putting aside the inherent hypocrisy in this, the other sister and I figured out that this means we should make the DJ playlists with a ton of Spanish techno, pop, and hip-hop. Because if nobody understands the lyrics, does it really matter what's in them? (If a tree falls in a ...) My bro-in-law will be the only native Spanish speaker there, and he's cool with the plan so he won't be scandalized. We don't really want to dance to Michael W. Smith or Avalon. And neither does the bride, who's too timid to stand up and assert herself and dance to the music she dances to at home.

  • The lechón has not yet been ordered. It's not like it's a side salad! Caterers need at least two weeks to get a roasted pig!

  • There won't be a rehearsal dinner after all because culturally, the groom's side doesn't exclude people for food, so saying "Sorry, just immediate family and the bridal party" is unheard of. And "family" means "village," which Mom won't pay for and the bride refuses to delicately ask to pay for themselves.
But hey, there's a Hummer limo. And "Bless the Broken Road."

Women in my family tend to be very stubborn, opinionated, and loud. =) My mother threw up her hands tonight and said (for the millionth time) that she's giving up and just stepping back from the whole thing.

Here's my theory, which I've told to both sisters and my mother. One sister (happens to be the youngest and arguably the most mature of the three of us) got married first, waited a bit, then got pregnant. The next sister saw everybody go ga-ga over the picture-perfect dream wedding (and now new baby) and wants that for herself, started dating the first available guy at her church a few weeks afterwards, and then five months later suddenly becomes engaged and wants to get married within four months. In the back of her mind, she knows it took a year and a half to plan the other wedding, and that the future neice/nephew's birth was planned, but she also just turned 26 and thinks she's running out of time.

It'll all go well in the end, I'm sure. We'll have fun. As long as there's smuggled whisky and Thalía remixes...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Policing plots

Finished book three of the Thursday Next series on the plane back home.

Unfortunately, Thursday's husband, who had been eradicated in Book Two, was not reactualized in this one either. It's like a soap opera now -- maybe the whole series will be her trying to make him re-exist. I hope it isn't.

At any rate, as with the previous books, Fforde shows his continued brilliance and imagination. Thursday is back as an apprentice with Jurisfiction, a sort of police agency that patrols the pages of books. She's supposed to be taking it easy while she's pregnant, hiding in the pages of a book that has never been published. There are all sorts of new and fascinating concepts in The Well of Lost Plots: a text sea, "Generic" book characters, characters who seem to want free will as much as a "role" in a book, a "mispeling vyrus," BookWorld Awards similar to Oscars, reading program upgrades similar to computer operating systems . . . the list goes on. It's SO COOL. The only thing I can draw a slight parallel to is Toontown, except with characters from books rather than cartoons; and even that seems to cheapen it somehow.

Personally, I found the idea of all the characters from Wuthering Heights being made to attend anger management class really, really hilarious.

The cool thing about Fforde's Next series is that it always keeps you guessing. At first I thought Tennyson's "The Charge of the Light Brigade" would be a huge part of the plot, along with Thursday's brother not dying in the 180-odd-year Crimean War. But no.

On to Book Four!

Monday, May 14, 2007

The four-day marathon comes to an end!

I have an apartment!!! A studio with a separate kitchen and (amazingly) a non-sketchy bathroom. In Allston, literally two houses away from Brookline, two blocks away from the B line on the T, and a ten-minute walk to the C line and Coolidge Corner. The B line is kind of gross, but I'm okay with that, because I won't have to look at it outside my window.

The only weird thing I have to do is have a co-signer (thanks, Mom!), which is apparently standard practice for anyone who doesn't have a definite job in the state. Even if their bank account proves they can pay rent for several months. Hmmph. But whatever. I'm slightly miffed but can try to understand the landlord's logic behind that requirement. I also remember friends who were international students who had to scramble to get co-signers on Boston apartments after graduation.

However, the realtor, who was otherwise cool, was highly misinformed about the neighborhood. I kept saying "Isn't Allston just a neighborhood in Boston?" and she kept saying "No, it's its own city." But it's not. I will be in Ward 21, District 9, in terms of electing a councilor to the Boston City Council (which, btw, has both at-large and district representation, a system I supported but which failed by a citywide initiative in Seattle a few years ago). I still have to master the precinct system (it's an east coast thing, re-dividing burroughs into smaller burroughs), as well as possibly give up voting in state primaries because I grew up with the blanket primary and don't want to formally affiliate with any specific political party outside the general election. In other legislative news, I will be in the MA 8th congressional district ("8" has bad connotations for me, given the WA 8, but I can shake off Dunn and Reichert from that number.)

But the MA legislature's website kind of sucks. The districting process is wacked out, too. I've never understood states that have different districts for the House and Senate. (Why? Why?) However, I now know my state representative (just one) and senator.

So now I can start causing trouble. =)

If nobody minds crashing on the floor of a decent-sized studio, y'all are welcome, come September 1st!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

So much for free time!

It is not going well.

Luckily the realtors I've encountered so far aren't pushy. I just have a really, really hard time believing them when they say the really, really crappy places they're showing me will "go fast." Who? How? Why?

However, I now know another good new brunch place, thanks to Xtina.

Thursday Next might have to wait until ... Wednesday this. Rainster Now is kind of freaking out, planning on skipping dinner while in grad school, and has frantically raised her rent ceiling considerably at the last minute.

There will be no shopping this trip. Except DSW and H&M, but that hardly counts...

Friday, May 11, 2007

While I pondered, weak and weary...

Finished the second book in the Thursday Next series a few days ago. And now I'm addicted and must finish the third book this weekend.

Lost in a Good Book has Literary Detective Thursday Next jumping into Great Expectations, "The Raven," and time-travelling as usual. The cool thing is how Jasper Fforde's brain works -- he just keeps the reader mindboggled at the intricately creative world he's made up. Footnotes for communication! Literary detectives within books! Puns, puns galore! It's hilarious and brilliant at the same time. And the best part is that you just take for granted that people care passionately and rabidly about books and literature.

Plotwise, the really heartrending story is that Thursday's husband is eradicated (a la Harry in It's a Wonderful Life -- he was never saved from a fatal childhood accident). And Fforde doesn't bring him back at the end! I was waiting the whole book for that to happen, and it didn't. But it ended on a hopeful note. Hence the urgency to finish the third book.

Jetlagged, caffeine-deprived west coaster

Wi-fi should be free. It is wrong --WRONG!!!-- that I should be paying for wi-fi in a Starbucks in Brookline, and that all other networks in the area are security-enabled. I guess I can head over to Northeastern to see if there's a student wi-fi network I can log on to, but I'm too lazy.

And why did Peets not have access to The Internets?! That is also very wrong.


Sunday, May 06, 2007

No Day But Today!

I finally watched Rent. Partly because I've spent the past week pondering rent -- setting up apartment viewings and hopfully signing a lease in the next week, as well as encountering a recurring econ problem set about how rent controls are bad, bad things and why don't politicians only understood the laws of supply and demand? So rent in various forms has been on my mind lately. It's only appropriate that I sing along to the musical!

I'd heard most of the songs and knew the storyline (it's La Boheme in NYC, mid-90s). Rosario Dawson was great. So was Taye Diggs. I know that some of the actors were the original Broadway cast, but overall the production failed to wow me. Maybe it's just that the medium of the stage (particularly the musical) doesn't necessarily transfer well to the medium of the screen. Some of the characters struck me as stylized and ... tin. But on a stage it would've been different. Also, it's possible that I couldn't get cost-benefit angles out of my head, and kept looking at the city tenements and thinking "Ack, I'll be living there soon!"

That Tangerine Glow

The bridesmaids dresses arrived yesterday and now we just need to have some last-minute tailoring done. New information from the bride:
1. The bridal party, despite pleas from the bride's two sisters that it is all kinds of wrong, will be riding in a HUMMER LIMO.

2. The first dance, despite pleas from the bride's two sisters that is is all kinds of wrong, will be to the Rascal Flatts song "Bless the Broken Road." (The maid of honor thinks the first line of Elvis' "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You" is more appropriate....)

3. The reception hall is only booked until 7 p.m.
Brother-in-law #1 will be running frequent flask refills...

From the Mixed-Up Files of ...

Was at the Seattle Art Museum from 2-4 am, for part of the "35 hour marathon" for the Grand Reopening. The whole museum was free, provided you had a ticket, and from 1am onwards there was a DJ and a dancefloor, there were drinks and food during legal serving hours, and the gift shops were open. A pretty good move on the Museum's part -- I've never seen that many people under 40 in an art museum before.
It was kind of funny, you could hear the techno music everywhere in the museum, which gave the modern art section an appropriately Euro feel; but it didn't quite mesh with the pre-20th century exhibits, the African masks, or a bunch of other wings. But the whole affair was really cool. I like it when people are out and about in a city.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I prefer the more stable world of politics

Arrrggghh! Why are some real estate agents so sketchy?

It can all be so efficient!

At any rate, have a few leads on places. Will be a packed four days of appraising small studios. Next week.

And on another tangent (also one week late): what was up with Asia winning on the Search for the Next Pussycat Doll? It should've been Melissa R! That was the most anti-climactic contest ever.