Saturday, June 30, 2007

I'm escaping to the Ivory Tower just in time!

The married-35-days sister, on whose ears many, many pleas to use any method of birth control fell silent, had three home pregnancy tests show positive results. Official doctor's visit is this upcoming week, but I hear those home tests are pretty accurate. And three of them had the same result...

Plotting politicization of future niece or nephew.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Next up: a national teen curfew

Still reeling from two recent Supreme Court decisions.

Where is inhaler?

Language regressing.

Weather gray.

Drinking doesn't help.

Eating might help.

Maybe retail therapy.

Must hibernate!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Ohana means . . .

Families are interesting social units. It's one thing to analyze the structure of the family from a sociological or anthropological standpoint. It's another thing entirely to realize, analyze, and deconstruct all the various emotions that come with being part of a family, however small or broken or big or happy that family is. Their craziness becomes the stability in your own life.

Grandpa's memorial service was this weekend. Grandma had his ashes scattered in the garden, in a private family-only ceremony --"ceremony" consisting of Grandma reciting "The Green Hills of Tyrol," a bagpiper playing a lament on the hill in the backyard while an uncle scattered the ashes around, and everyone going inside to drink an entire bottle of Grandpa's favorite whisky.

But it also dawned on me that my two brothers-in-law, as well as my cousin's husband and new baby, were meeting the entire extended family for the first time (not everyone could make it to their respective weddings), and that the stoicism and quirkiness that are normal in unspoken context -- along with the background stories to present realities-- probably appeared oddly devoid of meaning.

Today a third of the grandkids leave to go home to California, Michigan, and Nova Scotia. By October, another third will have moved to Boston, New York City, and Madrid. So I'm stealing this appropriate poem from my cousin's myspace profile.

Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Please, sir . . .

I'm pretty sure I could think of better ways for school districts to collect parents' lunch money debt than by punishing children and creating entirely new traumatic social stigmas. From the LA Times:
On school menus: cheese sandwiches, parental debt
CHULA VISTA, CALIF. — When too many parents fell behind on paying for school lunches, the Chula Vista Elementary School District decided to get tough — on the children.

They told students with deadbeat parents that they had only one lunch choice: a cheese sandwich.

The sandwich, served on whole wheat bread, came with a clear message: Tell your parents to pay up — or no more pizza and burgers for you. . . .

Setting aside the whole debate about what foods should be served in school cafeterias, that's just plain cruel.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Anchors Aweigh, Away

There'll be time enough for reading in grad school. For now, I'm enjoying my Netflix subscription while I still have time and income....

Dear Frankie was a cute story. A sad one. It's the story of a boy whose father left him and his mother, but his mom tells him his dad's on a boat that's travelling the world. The kid writes his dad letters, and the mom answers them by pretending to be the nonexistent dad. Unfortunately for the mom, the boat name she made up exists, and the actual boat comes to port. So she finds a total stranger to pretend to be Frankie's dad while the ship is in town.

I also really liked it because it didn't try to be a romance between the mom and the stranger. It was a story about the kid and his mom. It ended realistically. Everything wasn't spelled out; I appreciate films that don't wrap up everything neatly.

And, it turns out, the guy who played the stranger was also Leonidas in 300. So I immediately got "Spartans! Spartans!" stuck in my head in New Zealand accents, which reminded me that I haven't seen or heard from my sister since the day after the wedding.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Three Billies Gruff

This front-page headline of today's P-I cracked me up. Then I realized it was serious. Pretty cool, though.

Rent-a-goats gain foothold
Critters grow popular in city as cheap, chemical-free way to clear vegetation

... With their four-chambered stomachs and insatiable desire to nibble on anything even resembling a plant, goats have gained credibility as land clearers among Seattle-area government agencies and private developers. . . .

Friday, June 08, 2007

Brain candy

Am craving happy minimal-thinking movies.

Since I just watched Legally Blonde, I decided to watch the sequel, Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, and Blonde.

It's a movie about lobbying! It might be horribly unrealistic and inaccurate on so many levels, and it's no Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (the original Pollyanna-does-the-Beltway movie against which everything else is measured). Reese Witherspoon really does look like Capitol Barbie for half the movie, and the timeline for legislation was ridiculously out of whack. But still, how many movies out there are about lobbying? I can overlook the fact that it steals plot devices from the original. It's a movie about lobbying. Very exciting and laudable in and of itself.

In a similar vein, Johnny English was silly but good fun. John Malkovich was great as the overdone/caricatured Frenchman bent on stealing the crown. Rowan Atkinson is typical Rowan Atkinson, this time as a bumbling secret agent.

And I recognized Robbie Williams in the opening (and closing) credits song. Also very exciting.

Show Me!

Oh, community theatre! Even if it's a fictional production in a fictional town in Missouri.

Watched Waiting for Guffman last night. It's only the second Christopher Guest film I've seen. A Mighty Wind was the first and I think I liked it better, although they're both good. I know the formula is the same for many of his movies: mockumentary/improv leading up to a big public show, hilarity along the way.

Where I laughed nonstop at A Mighty Wind because of the folk music connection, I laughed from a once-removed vantage point at Waiting for Guffman. It brought back long and necessarily-buried memories of watching friends and family perform in school and community plays, of writing one play for a high school performance, of the teen poetry/spoken word scene, of anything performance-related. Gaaaack!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Looking for a loophole!

In my attempt to get away from anything wedding-related, I watched Legally Blonde.

Oops. The movie begins and ends with the idea that what will make Reese Witherspoon's life complete is a proposal, and the whole movie is her following a guy to law school to win him back, then trying to get even, then winning everybody's heart and a court case. It's all very formulaic and predictable and filled with many moments of "Yeah, right."

But other than that, it's a fun movie. It's like Clueless, in that lovable-Valley Girl-who's-inadvertently-smart kind of way.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Booksters and wordsters

Xtina recommended Ella Minnow Pea, a cute little story about an island that has to stop using certain letters of the alphabet one by one. As its subtitle says, it's a progressive lipogrammatic epistolary fable: the tale is told through a series of letters; and with each removal of a letter from the alphabet, the vocabulary in the letters the characters write gets more and more creative.

It's brilliant!

Saturday, June 02, 2007


With the "sanctity of marriage" sermon still fresh in my head, I watched Mambo Italiano, a nice indy Canadian film about a gay Italian-Canadian boy.

It was the typical gay coming-out story as well as the child-of-immigrants identity tale, but it served as a kind of salve. It had its funny moments.

And of course Paul Sorvino was in it. I swear he's in every movie that has anything to do with Italians in North America.

X and Y

Am wedding-ed and engagemented out. Yet somehow I ended up with two very different movies about relationships: one cynical but realistic, the other cheesy but funny.

I loved Conversations with Other Women. I guessed the not-so-secret plot twist about fifteen minutes in, but it didn't detract from the interaction between the two characters. Aaron Eckhardt and Helena Bonham Carter were great as two ex-flames who meet at a wedding years later, and end up having sex in the hotel room. Most of the movie is dialogue, just the two of them flirting and catching up. And the brilliant thing is, the entire film is in split-screen format, and half of the screen is always either a different angle of the same conversation or a flashback.

I also really loved Her Minor Thing. It was way, way better than The 40-Year-Old Virgin, with a similar plot (the main character is dating a TV anchor who reveals on live TV that she's a virgin. Hilarity ensues...) But maybe I only think it's better than The 40-Year-Old Virgin because it has a female protagonist. I am admittedly biased like that.

The movie was deliberately and delightfully campy. I first saw a review of it in a film festival; then more recently, with my failed please-use-birth-control scheme for my sister only just forming in my mind, saw it at my local indy video store. Which I guess is appropriate, given that the only thing flashing through my mind during the inevitable ending scene was "Aaaah! Please use protection!"

The supporting cast is great, too: Rachel Dratch, Kathy Griffin, Ivana Milisevic. And yowsa! Both Estella Warren and Christian Kane are hot!