Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mid-afternoon data dork-out!

Damn, that statistics course ruined me. As if I wasn't overly eager about data crunching before taking it, now I'm really overly eager to crunch numbers and scrutinize methodology.

Today's polling geek-out is from the Pew Research Center, a perennial favorite that I've relied on in many, many papers this past year:

McCain's Negatives Mostly Political, Obama's More Personal
Clinton Backers Cool to Obama - White Female Support in Question

The age breakdowns in Section 4 are particularly interesting....

Perspective, form, vision

Sydney Pollack's recent passing reminded me of Jackson Pollock, and that I had a certain documentary about abstract art out from Netflix.

My Kid Could Paint That was an indie documentary about Marla Olmstead, a 4-year-old abstract painter (now 8) whose work has sold for tens of thousands of dollars. The film began as an exploration of the age-old question "What is art?" -- especially modern or abstract art, which is already highly criticized. The interviews with Marla's parents, family friends, art collectors, and art critics at first all addressed the issue of defining art, especially if a preschooler can outsell lifelong artists. The other underlying issue was whether or not Marla is an artistic prodigy, creating sophisticated abstract art. The local paper first featured a story on Marla, which was then picked up by the New York Times, and eventually international press.

Then 60 Minutes aired an expose, featuring a child psychiatrist who declared that Marla was not gifted and insinuated that Marla's paintings were touched up by her parents. The film then became an exploration not just of the nature and definition of art itself but of childhood, the media, and cynicism as well. I thought the ending of the film was great -- the filmmaker expressed his own doubts to Marla's parents, but through a series of interview excerpts (harping back to the notion of how "Art" is selective, including documentaries!) brings it back to Marla herself, leaving the viewers to project their own social meanings, cynicism, and biases.

In the end, who cares? The paintings themselves clearly speak to some art buyers. Personally, I think that's all that matters. I like some of her paintings, though I can't afford them!

The only painting I have was one a friend painted for me as a birthday present a few years ago....

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The heart and stomach of a king

While I'm waiting for the next installment of Sharan Newman's medieval mystery book to arrive in the mail, I borrowed Karen Harper's The Poyson Garden from the library. (It is also a murder mystery series, though it is not medieval...)

The first in a mystery series where Elizabeth I is the sleuth, the story was rather generic (except for the future-queen-of-England-as-detective thing, obviously). Someone is out to kill off the extended Boleyn family and prevent Elizabeth from inheriting the throne (the story takes place the year Mary I died, so it was a little obvious how the last chapter would end). But Harper seemed more concerned with assembling characters to appear in future stories, not necessarily with developing a compelling murder mystery. Personally, I think mysteries are kind of cop-outs if the villain winds up being a lone crazy woman, dubbed a witch, who poisons everybody she has no connection to .... and they're surprisingly common in the genre (sometimes they're men, though). The characters were all fairly one-dimensional, and several loose ends were not wrapped up (like one character's amnesia) -- clearly some themes will keep running throughout the books later in the series.

I held out hope that the story wouldn't be mediocre. Obviously, the heroine couldn't come to any harm (historically, at least) . But Harper threw in one character who was supposed to resemble Elizabeth, so I thought maybe she'd pull a Dumas and have a double become the Princess. (What's the obsession with royal lookalikes, btw?) But alas, the few signs of creativity were minor homages to history: Harper skillfully refers to but doesn't interpret the Tom Seymour affair. She also deliberately resurrects Mary Boleyn, whom the reader is supposed to believe has been secretly alive for over a decade. Plus, the ending scene where Elizabeth finds out she's been made Queen (conveniently just after solving the mystery) has Elizabeth uttering the line she supposedly actually did when she heard her half-sister died, though it was bizarrely out of context with her very modern speech patterns throughout the rest of the story. Despite those small tidbits, though, the mystery itself still wasn't overwhelmingly good.

I've ordered the second book in the series, to see if it gets any better.

Gather 'round people, wherever you roam

A Field poll released today shows, for the first time in 30 years, that a majority of Californians support marriage for same-sex couples (which, fingers crossed, bodes well for defeating the constitutional amendment measure on that state's ballot this fall...)

Data dork that I am, the tables and variables and statistics will keep me occupied and happy for the next couple of hours...

Here's my story, it's sad but true...

So obviously this highlights some serious procedural problems, but this headline cracked me up as I walked past newsstands this morning:
Runaway kid fools Sea-Tac security — again

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I'm just saying...

Not that the obsession needs justification, but in an interview, Hrithik Roshan quoted one of my favorite Robert Frost poems.

(I barely beat Ms. Tungsten diving through the computer screen to jump him...)

Speaking of block(buster) parties...

Memorial Day weekend was basically one big veggie-fest. Since I twisted my ankle while walking off the bus in heels, however, long movies provided great opportunities to ice the injury with an emergency-purchase bag of frozen peas.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was disappointing. I feel bad disliking such an icon as Indiana Jones, but at least it was slightly better than Temple of Doom. For starters, the movie didn't showcase the usual amazing locations around the world -- you could tell the entire thing was a set. And come on... aliens??? (Or inter-dimensional species, whatever...) One thing I did think was hilarious, though, was the scene with the very unsubtle line letting kids know they shouldn't copy Indiana Jones by climbing into a refrigerator to escape a nuclear blast in Area 51. In general, though, the film was predictable, from the appearance of Shia LeBoeuf and the welcome re-appearance of Karen Allen, and it was filled with the typical accented villains (Russians, not Nazis this time) and leaf-skirted, ooga-booga jungle inhabitants. Quite frankly, it was really, really difficult to watch 66-year-old Harrison Ford trying to re-live his glory days. I left thinking National Treasure was way better than this fourth IJ film, and I will also never look at a Duck the same way again...

After Dr. Jones' disappointing return to the silver screen, Ms. Tungsten and I embarked on a much more eye-pleasing Hrithik Roshan spree.

Yaadein was a slightly preachy tale of a father whose three daughters have various stumbling blocks to marriage. The main love story, though, is between Hrithik and Kareen Kapoor, who is surprisingly and very refreshingly not playing her typical ditzy, popular character. The two play childhood friends who are so obviously crushing on each other but whose parents are so blind to it they arrange for the (conveniently wealthy) Hrithik to marry a business ally's daughter. (It helps, of course, that the other chick eschews anything Indian and traditional, so the audience knows who to root for.) But though Kapoor finally gets to play an interesting character who predictably tries to sacrifice love for family honor and friendship, and though there were some excellent shots of Hrithik in impeccably tailored and flattering colors and clothes (we even rewound a few scenes just to see him in an amazing suit), the story itself wasn't that believable or strong. Not that it had to be, but it also seemed suspiciously like Muhje Dosti Karoge, which we watched a few weeks ago.

Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai was only slightly better. (This was the film that catapulted Hrithik to stardom.) In the first half of the movie, Amisha Patel plays a spoiled rich girl who falls for Hrithik the struggling singer, who is then killed by mobsters. In the second half of the movie, her mafia don father sends her to New Zealand, where she encounters her dead boyfriend's lookalike. Of course he immediately falls for her and helps her bring the mobster villains to justice. There is a very hilarious dance scene where Hrithik turns a feather into a phallic symbol; however, this was the hotter musical number. (It rivals Shah Rukh Khan in "Dard E Disco" from Om Shanti Om.) I was a little weirded out by the ending, though -- rather than appreciating the new guy for being different, he simply stepped into the life of her old boyfriend and assumed all of his roles, which was really, really creepy.

Krrish made up for the first two films' deficiencies, though. It rocked my world by taking a masked superhero to a different level. Though Krrish dresses like Zorro and saves innocent bystanders by flying like any other common superhero in any other metropolis, the fight scenes and flying sequences borrowed heavily from Chinese action flicks. It was an interesting amalgamation of different icons.

The movie is a sequel to Koi Mil Gaya, which I haven't seen, but the plot stands capably alone: the child of a prodigy who died under mysterious circumstances has superhuman abilities, so his grandmother raises him in rural isolation. Naturally, he leaves his podunk village to follow the first hot cityslicker he encounters. Once in the city, he uses his abilities to help people and save the world from the power-hungry mad scientist who killed his father. Awesome.

In all, my ankle got some good icing after hours and hours and hours of Hindi films!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Far, far away

Next up in the Connie Willis sci-fi obsession was a collection of short stories she co-edited. (I will read all of her books by the end of the summer!) I've always loved books of short stories -- they're perfect for ADD lapses and/or busy schedules.

A Woman's Liberation: a Choice of Futures By and About Women seems like it should have presented different possibilities for a feminist manifesto. Which would have been ubercool. But there were no differing views of feminism, and no manifestos. Not by a long shot. Maybe I need to stop seeing politics in everything, but I can't (and quite frankly won't.)

Except for the last and longest story (which was also the most depressing because it linked the brutal history of American plantation slavery with women's enfranchisement and sexual slavery, and recast it in a future in outer space), it's really just a group of stories with female protagonists. The spectrum is good, though -- like any good ensemble it includes funny, bizarre, and sad tales. Connie Willis' introduction discusses the notion of flexibility within the sci-fi genre. So Vonda McIntyre's "Of Mist and Grass and Sand" and Katherine McLean's "The Kidnapping of Baroness 5" are sort of borderline fantasy stories, not stereotypically sci-fi. And S.N. Dyer's "The July Ward" is really just a ghost story (and my favorite of the bunch -- it's about doctors and patients who die).

As someone who is new to appreciating sci-fi (history nerds, sociologists, and political wonks can be harsh critics of alternate societies created, imagined, and marketed entirely within the existing and highly problematic ones), Connie Willis has been instrumental in helping me overcome my irrationally lifelong distrust of the genre. And now I also have a list of other great female authors to investigate at the library.

Also, I was excited to see McIntyre's story included, because she volunteered for us a lot, and was really nice.

Five for fighting

Courtesy of the FG via WendyB again... and unlike the last time I continued a meme from the FG, I've been promised this one comes in just one installation! ;-P

5 things always in my purse:
(this is no doubt hilarious to some folks, because I eschewed anything "girlie" like purses and makeup and nail polish and skirts and pink stuff and jewelry until well after college... and look at me now...)
1. cell phone
2. wallet (until the unisex one I've had for a few years, I preferred men's wallets. More functional.)
3. hand sanitizer (I am OCD...)
4. I-1000 petitions (at least for the past week, and for the next month)
5. a pen

5 things in my room:
1. a picture of me and my sisters, the only year we were all in high school together
2. a stack of library books
3. a tray filled with dozens of earrings, arranged by length, shape, and color
4. my laptop
5. a glass of water (I make sure there is always one on the nightstand)

5 things I've always wanted to do:
(I see this as intrinsically different from the "Things I want to do before I die" from the last meme)
1. be a dancer in a music video
2. be able to bid thousands of dollars at a live auction for something really, really cool
3. see Earth from space
4. invent a time machine
5. write the Great American Novel

5 things I'm currently into:
1. Prolific (a Boggle-like game on Facebook)
2. Hrithik Roshan (thanks to Ms. Tungsten)
3. gin and tonic
4. Connie Willis' books
5. bows on shoes (I have four pairs with bows now! So atypical!)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I heard he had a style

So because Dave Chappelle's Block Party was not a good first introduction to Dave Chappelle the comedian, I queued Killin' Them Softly in Netflix, and was satisfied.

Of course, I was playing Boggle online while listening to the standup routine, so I wasn't too vested in watching. But at any rate, I chuckled at a lot of the bits. Like many comedy shows, there were political jokes and there were sex jokes, and since the show was filmed circa 2000, there were the Bill and Monica jokes that combined both. (Talk about a run down memory lane!) A lot of Chappelle's routine also focused on racial profiling, which has obviously also changed considerably post-9/11.

All in all, a decent and generally funny performance. I wasn't blown away, but I wasn't repulsed either. Might reorder the queue to get something a little more recent, though.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Hazy lazy

Today's Google theme commemorating the 48th anniversary of the invention of the laser is totally geeky, and I love it.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

B is for ...

So apparently today was the day for crying while reading. It started with a happy episode, while reading the California Supreme Court opinion. But those were mere sniffles and blink-aways of gladness, compared to the sob-fest that accompanied The End of the Alphabet.

While home on Winter Break, some friends mentioned they were reading it for their book club, so I added it to my list of books to read.

It's a quick read, but there's so much emotion packed into the few pages of the story: a man has a month to live, so he and his wife attempt to visit places around the world for every letter in the alphabet, a different city each day. Some of the destinations are new and foreign and exciting, some are familiar and memory-laden. Traveling helps them reminisce about their childhoods, remember their life together, privately despair, and in some way cope. It's a beautiful little vignette about love and life and death, and Richardson writes beautifully (and, almost paradoxically, very directly) as well.

La Madre heard me snuffling from the living room, and asked if I was okay. I told her I read a sad book, but divulged no other details about the plot. Seven years on, La Madre still gets really quiet at the mention of anyone's husband dying prematurely and unexpectedly.

Now I think there's hope!

Seriously, I am crying as I'm reading the opinion! All 172 pages, including all the concurrences and dissents and dissenting concurrences...
"These core substantive rights include, most fundamentally, the opportunity of an individual to establish — with the person with whom the individual has chosen to share his or her life — an officially recognized and protected family possessing mutual rights and responsibilities and entitled to the same respect and dignity accorded a union traditionally designated as marriage. As past cases establish, the substantive right of two adults who share a loving relationship to join together to establish an officially recognized family of their own — and, if the couple chooses, to raise children within that family — constitutes a vitally important attribute of the fundamental interest in liberty and personal autonomy that the California Constitution secures to all personsfor the benefit of both the individual and society.

Furthermore, in contrast to earlier times, our state now recognizes that an individual’s capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual’s sexual orientation, and, more generally, that an individual’s sexual orientation — like a person’s race or gender — does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights. We therefore conclude that in view of the substance and significance of the fundamental constitutional right to form a family relationship, the California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex couples ..."
[bolded portions my emphasis, italicizations not]
This is totally going to be one of the defining issues this November! Maybe bigger than immigration, which I thought was going to be the sole decisive theme.

Fingers crossed the anti-gay initiative there doesn't pass!


The California Supreme Court just struck down the state's ban on marriage for same-sex couples!!!

This just officially made my day!!! \(^_^)/

The opinion...

This is one Golden State trend I hope makes its way up the west coast... and eventually across the country, state by state.

I think I'm going to cry!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hilarious website

This website has been making the rounds, but one friend forwarded it with an essay addressing woes about being considered age-ist in a complicated world...

Things Younger Than McCain: the chocolate chip cookie, the Cobb salad, Mount Rushmore (completion, not the start -- I looked it up), the polio vaccine, FM radio...

Mid-afternoon data crunching dork-out

Am looking at Census data tabulated for Washington State's legislative districts, and it turns out my district, despite the past decade's massive influx of yuppies and million-dollar condos, is still ranked in the top ten (out of 49) for number of seniors (65 and over). It's 13% for the district, and 11% statewide.

My old district has the highest number of renters in the state and the highest median home value, as well as the lowest number of veterans, single occupancy vehicle commuters, and mobile homes.

I find this all fascinating.

Lessons learned the hard way no.s 1745 & 1746

#1745: PACs, as opposed to 501(c)3s, actually start the workday at 9am.
The building I'm in for the summer is basically all PACs or partisan or campaign offices, and when my non-morning ass crawls in "early" at 8:50, I swear I'm the last person reporting for work...

#1746: If, for some very, very good reason, you delete or hide someone's contact information from yourself so that you're not tempted to drunk dial/text/email, don't secretly write it down in code so that you'll only decipher it when you're sober.
For starters, the information might actually come in handy someday, unexpectedly... and also, figuring out your own wacked-out cipher might be much, much harder than you thought. Which I suppose was the point, but still...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Boobus Americanus

As always, Connie Willis blew me away. Inside Job is a thoroughly enjoyable novella about a magazine writer who exposes psychics and mediums (apparently not "media").

But it's basically an homage to H.L.Mencken! What student of the 1920s wouldn't love it?

A spiritualist in Hollywood starts channeling the spirit of H.L. Mencken, a notorious skeptic of all thing nonscientific. The magazine writer, with his drop-dead gorgeous assistant, sets out to prove it's all fake.

Willis' brilliance shines through with the ending. She makes a reference earlier on to the fact that Mencken left the Scopes trial early, before Clarence Darrow famously cross-examined William Jennings Bryan on the stand, and that he never got to see the end of the trial. Throughout the story, the question is, why would a modern-day medium channel Mencken, of all people? Why not the usual Cleopatra or Alexander the Great? The answer, in the last few pages, comes from a schoolroom in Tennessee as well... the debate over intelligent design! There's still a lot of unfinished business there ...

Loved the irony!

Hips don't lie

The library books have only just arrived, so I've been continuing my vegetative state in front of the TV.

I've never seen any of Dave Chappelle's standup routines, and everybody raves about his Block Party, so I bumped it up in my Netflix queue. Turns out, it's not a comedy routine, it's a documentary about, well, a block party he organized in Bed-Stuy. Oops. It's basically just interviews with residents, participants, and all the performers (everyone from Mos Def to Lauryn Hill), and isn't exactly the best "first" exposure to Chappelle. Still, as a portrait of a neighborhood and an event it's a good film. Just not what I was expecting!

In a similarly disappointing film, this week's Hrithik Roshan viewing with Ms. Tungsten was Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon. The premise was the typical case of mistaken identity: a rich guy is interested in a girl whose family mistakes his employee for him. She falls in love with the employee, but then the boss arrives to meet his potential bride and Bollywood drama ensues.

The film had some good twists (turns out the boss likes the same poetry as she does, and the employee has nothing in common with her but other than that he's really sweet and outgoing, so the girl gets all confused), but once again the ending wrapped everything up too neatly. And, bizarrely, the family pets were half-cartoon, for no apparent reason. It was a little jarring. And Kareen Kapoor, the lead actress, had really annoying, ditzy friends.

However, there is also a very, very, very excellent music sequence where Hrithik is all oiled down by an outdoor fire, then rolling on a beach à la From Here to Eternity, then half shirtless in the back of a car ... all in what we thought was supposed to be a metaphor for sex, but in a future scene it's established that Hrithik and the daughter were merely out until 4am half naked on the beach, in the rain and in the car, doing nothing but singing their love for each other. Still, after all that, by cultural standards you could kind of tell who she'd end up with in the end!

I'm also very excited to read the Connie Willis books I requested from the library.

Yay summer!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Let the madness re-begin!

The first two days of the internship had me joining a national all-staff conference call, sending PDC notices to candidates about in-kind donations, and then heading out to the coast for the 6th Annual Native Women's Leadership Forum.

The speakers were great, especially:
  • Mary Kim Titla, an Apache and former news anchor running for Congress in Arizona's 1st District.

  • Claudia Kauffman, a Nez Perce and Washington State's first Native woman elected to the state senate
Amazing and very inspiring women! As was everyone else at the conference.

Before the conference started, however, I was forced to wander around the hotel/resort/casino. I forgot my laptop back in the Emerald City and the gift shop didn't have any inexpensive, interesting books, so I wandered around the grounds. It's been a while since I've been in an establishment that permits legal smoking inside... and that's how I remembered that the statewide smoking ban doesn't apply to tribal casinos. Which meant I also forgot to pack Febreze....

Also, casinos don't have guided tours or "How to Gamble" brochures for patrons. Or at least this one didn't. (I asked.) So as the (mainly very elderly) tourists played the slot machines (also only allowed on tribal casinos), I had to try and hover inconspicuously to figure out how it worked, while still being the cheap intern unwilling to pay $5 to find out for sure....

Because the conference was running an hour behind schedule, we got back to Seattle too late for the meet-and-greet with another candidate. But Day Three promises more madness.


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Once upon a time in reality, there lived a cynical viewer

Because I miscalculated when the books on my reading list would arrive at the library, I decided to watch Enchanted to see what all the fuss was about. Friends raved about it; three of the songs were nominated for Oscars...


Amy Adams was the best thing about the movie. She was brilliant as Giselle, the Pollyanna-ish fairy tale princess who is transported to New York City. Her voice is clear and crisp and perfect for a Disney fairy tale heroine, and she managed to actually behave consistently like a Disney cartoon character throughout the film. Genius. Other than the lead actress, though, the film was pretty sadly mediocre. The songs weren't that great, the plot had gaping holes, and the whole thing was predictable.

My biggest problem with modern takes on fairy tales is that they still reinforce strict gender roles, so perhaps for this reason I'm always extra-critical. Enchanted was pretty bad. Even though it tried to reverse some of the traditional roles (she saves the prince in the end, though not very convincingly), it never actually attempted to break down the myth that marriage brings the ultimate happiness for all people.

Then there were the weird moments of randomly throwing in people of color. There was the black couple trying to get a divorce, and in one scene Giselle goes up to the woman, touches her hair, and comments on how pretty it is. I know it was supposed to illustrate how charming and friendly Giselle was (she reminded them that marriage is a commitment and that everybody has problems, and that divorce is a cop-out and everyone just needs to be happy and work things out!) But seriously. How many groups have I been in where black or half-black people have hours' worth of stories about random white strangers coming up and touching their hair and making comments ("exotic/different/pretty/interesting/fascinating"), and how it is not charming and friendly? I was really, really, really disturbed by that scene. In another bizarre attempt to somehow break away from the Euro-centric roots of the fairy tale genre, one of the song sequences featured African drummers and Mexican trumpet players (and German maypole dancers, to be fair). NYC is a diverse city, of course, so this is supposed to be normal. (As long as both fairy tale characters and "ethnic" people are running around the Big Apple dressed in their "traditional" garb, all is well with the world. But wait, no drag queens? They run around the streets of big cities in "costume" too... Oh, wait. They don't fit so nicely into the fairy tale story arc.... hmmm, why was that, again? Something about boxes...)

Oops, this rant turned out longer than I planned. Suffice to say I disliked Enchanted pretty intensely. But two good fairy tale films I absolutely loved are Ever After and Shrek (the first one). The small quibbles in those two are definitely outweighed by the overall positive tone of the movies, which Enchanted lacked.

And now, off to a benefit for an organization that has been the target of a lot of classist and xenophobic attacks lately.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Going once, going twice

I am addicted to silent auctions. There's a weird endorphine rush from bidding on a number of items and then having to rush around figuring out how much you owe and whether or not you want to keep bidding. I've won some interesting items at nonprofit silent auctions. At any rate, a friend from high school is involved with the PTSA at her sons' school, and the school had fundraiser. There was a silent auction, a live auction, and a dessert auction.

Suffice to say, the Eddie Izzard tickets I had my eye on quickly bid out (for $275!), as did the tickets to the Seattle show of "Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me" (for $225!), the roller blades, and theatre tickets. I did, however, win the tickets to the Seattle Shakespeare Company's June production of As You Like It. Woot. Hmmm, apparently I tend to bid on tickets to shows...

I expected the event to end around 8, because it was a Saturday and I swear every teacher and parent at the school was at the event, so all of West Seattle's babysitters must have been booked. However, apparently it was the place to be that night -- there was only wine and beer during the silent auction, and I had to beg a bottle of water from the volunteers' secret stash. (Alcohol helps with bidding -- I've been to silent and live auctions at nonprofit dinners where there was no cheap or free alcohol, and the bidding is always significantly lower...)

Also, I recall parents and teachers dressing in frumpy, unstylish outfits. But as parents and teachers are now my age or even younger, I found that almost everyone there was très, très chic! And the event did not end at 8... it had barely started by 8:30, when the dessert auction was scheduled to wrap up, so I had to apologize to my table as I took my leave to head over to Ms. Tungsten's to finish watching
Mujhse Dosti Karoge.

Mujhse Dosti Karoge seemed like two different movies before and after intermission. The first half reminded me, bizarrely, of both Cyrano de Bergerac and The Truth About Cats and Dogs: Raj and his family move to London when he's a kid, and for 15 years he thinks he's corresponding with Tina, one of his cute and popular female friends back in India, when it's really Pooja, the other nerdier friend. Years later, he returns and can't seem to figure out why Tina is significantly ditzier than her decades of letters seemed to show, despite the fact that Pooja knows more details about him. This first half was decent, alternating between funny and heartbreaking, even if some of the transitions between scenes and/or songs were rather abrupt.

The second half, however, becomes a weird revenge tale. Since the first half established that Raj and Pooja belonged together because they poured their souls out in their letters for 15 years, the last half focused on the manipulative games they play with each other in determining whether to sacrifice their love or their friendships with other characters. The film keeps tossing in promises that different characters make to each other, and they all have to be honored --vows of love, vows of friendship, prayers to various deities, business transactions, arranged marriages, etc. Wondering how it would end so that Raj would stop being scheming and angry and Pooja would stop being sulky and martyr-like was half the fun, but the ending was a bit of a cop-out. It wrapped things up too neatly for the huge emotional transitions the characters have to go through. Also, reminiscent of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, I didn't find the male character's sudden switch from "wrong" female to the "right" one very believable.

Still, a decent film.

And I found out today that the school raised $40K at the fundraiser! On the one hand, it's a little sad that public schools are so underfunded that they have to rely on contributions. But on the other hand, DAY-am! Their goal was only $4k...

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Plugging in and cleaning up

While unpacking in the Emerald City, I watched the documentary I toted to Michigan but didn't watch.

Who Killed the Electric Car? was decent, if predictable. The title pretty much says it all: the film attempts to figure out how and why the electric car didn't take off in the mid-1990s, despite there being electric vehicles on the market and despite California adopting alternative-energy regulations. The movie's answer to its own question is also fairly obvious: oil companies are the root of all evil.

The cool part was that one of the alternative energy pioneers, Stan Ovshinsky, was someone whose innovative business projects I had to research during my assistantship last semester.

As I was unpacking and listening to the documentary, I discovered the extent to which La Madre has taken over my old room, and I have personally tossed 19 scarves, 9 pairs of gloves, and 13 pairs of her shoes out of my reclaimed space and into storage or giveaway piles...

I think being a packrat is hereditary! Well okay, not really... I think the behaviors are more subtly learned and ingrained. When my grandmother passed away four years ago, it took months to go through her three rooms of clothes, shoes, and jewelry. Imelda jokes aside, La Madre has about three times as many clothes and shoes as me, and I have a hell of a lot!