Friday, July 25, 2008

Ditat Deus indeed

Last night, I watched Raising Arizona against the base of this building, which freaked out Torgo when he was briefly in town last month:
(Every Thursday, there's a free outdoor theatre on the rooftop of a lower building.)

Of course, it being podunk Seattle, I went with one set of friends and ran into another group of friends, sitting two blankets away.

After three glasses of wine with a light dinner, though, I was more easily distracted by seagulls flying around the buildings downtown at dusk. (It was really cool. Seagulls rock. And they look neat soaring between skyscrapers against just-emerging stars.)

The movie, not so much. I know everybody loves the Coen Brothers, but I tend to be hit-or-miss with them, and this was definitely one of the misses. One of the friends I ran into muttered afterwards, "I hate campy." I don't, but this one wasn't my thing. Also, for some odd reason I thought the plot of the movie would be similar to Losing Isaiah, so I was a little thrown off.

For one, I'm not the biggest Nicolas Cage fan (except for National Treasure). In this one, he and Holly Hunter play a cop-and-felon couple who can't have children and so decide to take one quintuplet from a local business owner.
Inexplicably, everyone in the film has an unidentifiable and yet very strong Southern accent.

Secondly, the whole time I kept thinking that all the characters kidnapping a baby should have had to feed him and change his diaper and make him take a nap more frequently than they do. And the baby never cries! Obviously, this was on my mind only because I babysat for the first time ever last weekend (yes, ever -- never had younger relatives, never had an afterschool babysitting job). The stint lasted twice as long as anticipated, and I ended up having to change the neffy's diaper after all, which I'd previously managed to avoid for his entire five months of existence. And feed him. And walk around with a squirming 20-lb bundle. (Yet again, btw, "Flower of Scotland" seems to be the magic lullaby song.) Anyways, if I suffered while watching a pretty chill baby for a mere two hours, the various kidnappers and bank robbers and bounty hunters should have had to suffer more in the course of their adventures, with an even chiller fictional baby! Damn it...

Lastly, as is well documented, I dislike endings where "they get married and have kids and grandkids, and live happily ever after."

Then again, the seagulls were awfully distracting, so maybe I missed a lot of subtleties.

But now I have a default Thursday night outing for the rest of the summer!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Signs of life

For some bizarre reason, I had no idea Wall-E was a pro-environmentalist animated film. Maybe I merely scanned the reviews... but I thought I was going to see a simple robot love story and adventure set 700 years in the future.

Oops. Turns out, the only reason Wall-E the small trash compactor is alone on Earth is because humans have produced too much garbage and abandoned their home planet. Eve, a robot probe, is sent to Earth centuries later to find signs of life. Most of the story takes place not on Earth but on the huge Noah's Ark-type spaceship where all of humankind lives in an obese, lazy, desensitized existence, unknowingly governed by their gadgets. (Incidentally, Wall-E seemed like a PC and Eve like a Mac: he kept having to reboot, and she just looked sexier, sleeker, and more hip...)

Yeah, was not expecting any of that! Innovative story, though, if you accept that robots or computers are inherently gendered and can evolve feelings. There is one little robot close to my heart, though: the little OCD guy perpetually vacuuming. Cute.

What was really fascinating, though, were the bits where actors or scenes from The Music Man were inserted into the animation (which was also at times eerily lifelike). Through the same repeated image vestiges of human life on Earth, these snippets of actual humans, their music, and their films reminded both Wall-E and the brainwashed homo sapiens (not to mention viewers) of what humanity really is, or at least once was.

I cringed, though, when the CEO of the "Big N Large" Corporation urged humans to "stay the course" and not change their diets or wasteful habits. The scene shortly after that one is the creepiest in the film, where the same character admits off-camera that humans have made Earth uninhabitable, and need the wool pulled over their eyes in order to maintain a happy, consumerist facade of life. The Matrix, indeed!

Overturning precedent

Lesson learned the hard way #1748: Stare decisis doesn't have to prevail, at least not in the personal arena.

Emerging from Lesson #1747, certain policies and attitudes and behaviors can be reshaped and redefined (possibly fueled by a lot of whisky, possibly in a not-so-smooth manner). But maybe the skeleton disintegrates when you open the closet.

It's best to travel light anyway. . . .

Friday, July 18, 2008

Wonderflonium ist wunderbar

As I've been watching Season 1 of How I Met Your Mother as the DVDs arrive via Netflix (I AM TED, btw) and have re-watched a few episodes of Firefly with Ms. Tungsten, perhaps it's appropriate that Joss Whedon's latest project rocks my mid-July house. An internet short, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog features both NPH from HIMYM as a lovable wannabe villain and Firefly's Nathan Fillion as his seemingly purer nemesis.

I love it. It's brilliantly clever as well as that word I vowed not to use in my last post....

However, all things being political because I can't turn my brain off even when I try, Penny the love interest needs some serious lessons in how to gather signatures on a street corner. My God, it was awful watching her. I know the scene was supposed to show insight into her caring, selfless personality as well as illustrate her insecurities. But how did the Helping Hands Homeless Shelter ever let her out in public with a clipboard for something as serious as petitioning the City for a new location? Helloooo, train your volunteers! Messaging, people! If they can't speak in public, highlight another talent of theirs in-office!

Or just hire me in 10 months as a consultant...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Damn, I just looked over the last few posts and realized I overuse the word "cute."

Note to self: do not use "cute" in consecutive posts.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Action shots

Packed between happy hour, a house party, a beach trip, brunch, and time with the neffy, watching movies is a great way to escape what passes for a weekend heat wave in Seattle.

racie was the typical girl sports story, about a girl who wants to join her school's all-boys soccer team in the late '70s because there is no girls' team. It followed the predictable formula: personal tragedy, professional humiliation, ultimate shot at redemption in the final minutes of the championship game. But though it's formulaic, I have a soft spot for the sport-film genre. Especially soccer movies. And movies that mention Title IX. (What I didn't know was that the movie is loosely based on the childhood experiences of actress Elizabeth Shue, who plays Gracie's mother. Also, it was a little weird to see Dermot Mulroney as a gray-haired New Jersey father.) But overall it was a cute movie. When the cutest niece in the world is older, maybe I'll re-watch it with her.

Then Ms Tungsten the chem nerd wanted to watch Main Hoon Na, in which Shah Rukh Khan has crush on his chemistry teacher. To be fair, he's actually supposed to be India's top military operative under cover at a school to protect a general's daughter from a terrorist kidnapping plot aimed at preventing an exchange of prisoners between India and Pakistan. And whereas the adult-posing-as-a-student thing was really, really creepy in Never Been Kissed (seriously, I felt gross watching it), it worked a little better with SRK because there were jokes thrown around constantly about him being a decade older than the other students. They didn't try to pretend he was a minor, thus virtually negating the ick factor.

The film was hilarious, though -- it was the perfect combination of campy, parodic, and cute. (The ending credits were also fun and creative and, like the tongue-in-cheek nature of the film too, bore a resemblance to Om Shanti Om, possibly because Farah Khan directed both.)

Good stuff.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Ursus Americanus

The Bear Went Over the Mountain was a cute, easy read. (It was on last summer's suggested reading list from the library, but I never got around to cracking it open.) The idea: a bear in Maine steals an English professor's manuscript for a novel, gets it published as his, and becomes a bestselling author. The bear just wants to be seen as human, but is paranoid that everyone will see through him. (Plus he can't quite shed his animal instincts.) As he navigates the publishing world in NYC and goes on his book tour, he encounters different types of humans, each of which is a hilarious caricature (the corporate lawyer, the Hollywood agent, the radio talk-show host, the TV evangelist).

I think it's meant to be a humorous indictment of human interactions: with no exceptions, all the humans project their own opinions and thoughts onto the bear's very simple (often one-word!) statements and ignore what he is actually trying to communicate.

The chapters alternate between the bear's journey through various chaotic human cities, and the wronged professor's gradual decline into paranoia back in Maine.

Decent, light reading while sweltering in the summer heat!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The sixth sheik's sick sheep

Doing more research at work, and saying this slogan from a great national organization makes me feel like I've been drinking on the job (and I haven't at this one yet, I swear*):
"When women run, women win"
It's impossible to say twice correctly!

*except for the work-related happy hours or late-night events

What a difference a day makes...

... especially if it's the first Tuesday in November!

On a slightly more uplifting note, my internship lets me say all the partisan and election-related stuff I couldn't at my previous (excellent) job.

Such as: people in Pierce County need to vote out homophobic councilmembers who refuse to even pass a Pride Day proclamation! (I get to say this now, instead of merely urging constituents to contact their already-elected officials... It's very liberating.)
Gay advocates blast Pierce council over lack of support
"Proclamations — in which government leaders go on record to support an event or group —rarely face opposition. Elected officials approve dozens every year. It usually takes about five minutes to rubber-stamp the mostly ceremonial items.

The amendment failed 4-3 on Tuesday, with [four councilmembers]casting the “No” votes. They’re all Republicans...."
One more progressive Democrat could swing that vote the other way...

However, I'm still holding out until the end of the summer to figure out if I like the election or legislative side of politics more...

Warranting a reality check

So the Senate FISA vote was not cool. Daily Kos had a really good post about Democrats kowtowing to the Bush administration in an election year, and the nature of presidential electoral politics. TechCrunch also had a good post, as well as this great image:

But at least my two Senators voted on the side of the Constitution ... as did one in the state where I go to school (the other one didn't vote), and the two in the state where the cutest niece in the world lives. (Oh yes. Yes, I check the roll call votes...)

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