Friday, August 22, 2008

Not a Trekkie, but ...

I would TOTALLY watch this!
The Onion| New 'West Wing' Animated Series
SAN DIEGO—On day two of the 2008 San Diego SorCon, the biggest Aaron Sorkin convention in the world, screenwriter and producer Aaron Sorkin revealed plans for his next project, an animated continuation of his most popular franchise, The West Wing.

"I'm excited to bring my Emmy Award–winning writing to the field of animation," Sorkin said in a speech before approximately 30,000 screaming fans, many of whom were dressed up in the business-suit costumes of their favorite Sorkin characters. "[A]animation technology will enable us to provide fans with extended
40-minute walk-and-talks, digitally compressed dialogue for faster delivery, and a cast of over 70 main characters."

...The pilot ends, Sorkin said, with a 15-minute speech from President Santos about holding unpopular ideals.

"And I can promise SorCon that there will be at least two filibusters in the first season."


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A beach, a highway, beautiful ...

In the first post-SCOTUS testing of Washington State's Top Two primary system (in which the top two vote-getters advance to the general election, regardless of party), all of our candidates advanced! Also, at one election night celebration, I got a kick-ass T-shirt and won a dim sum gift certificate. Causes indeed to celebrate...

The morning after brings much reflection on the summer's bizarre connection between keys, cars, karaoke, and campaigns. Such introspection almost always calls for the Second Person Narrative and the illusion of emotional impartiality.

Maybe mental notes are the same thing as speeches you imagine giving to the person you were three weeks ago, before the madness...


Lesson learned the hard way #1749: Keys are tricky, sneaky creatures
When you're holding down the office fort, they sometimes make you lock the doors without remembering, and then magically reappear inside the locked office. You then have to wander around the building to search for the security guard to let you back in. (Also see Lesson #1755.)

It being your podunk hometown, said security guard might recognize you from your previous job because the same company manages many buildings downtown. He might decide to tell you about several personal issues that went unresolved even after repeatedly contacting the legal department at your old job... You have no qualms about playing a ditz to get out of this awkward scenario. (Also see Lesson #1756.)

Lesson learned the hard way #1750: Cars are tricky, sneaky creatures
Cars are also in cahoots with the American Automobile Association to humiliate spacey drivers everywhere. Weeks and weeks ago, while dining and theatre-going with The Scot, it took AAA an hour to get downtown to let you back into La Madre's car, where you had locked the car keys.
(Unlike Pastor X, you did not leave them in the ignition with the engine still running in the middle of rural Maine while on your way to Torgo's rehearsal dinner).

Then, about a week later, you allegedly killed the battery by leaving the overhead light on overnight, thus making La Madre late for work in the wee hours of the morning.... Once again, it took AAA an hour to get to a neighborhood with a lot of auto body shops, to jumpstart the car.

Which brings us to...

Lesson learned the hard way #1751: If you're no longer young, you need sleep
The one night you leave the regular karaoke place before midnight so you can get a full night's sleep the day before your state's primary election, you somehow also kill the battery in La Otra Hermana's car and have to call AAA again, to jumpstart a different vehicle. Thankfully, it took less than an hour ... but you lost an hour's worth of much-needed sleep the night before a busy, busy day.

Sleep was especially needed since you only got 4 hours of sleep the previous night. You had a few glasses of wine with one friend and then had to sober up at a different friend's house after closing down a different karaoke bar.

And somewhere, in the glasses and glasses of water and a 7-11 hot dog and Cheetos, you encountered...

Lesson learned the (frustratingly) hard way #1752: You have moments of quasi-maturity after all.
Even if kind of hurts. Again. See Lesson #1748.

Lesson learned the (not-so-) hard way #1753: Choose the whisky
Again, 100% of your PAC's candidates survived the Top Two primary, advancing to the general election. When your drink ticket at one of the evening's many parties gets you either a bottle of beer, a glass of cheap wine, a mixed drink, or a dram of Talisker, there is NO contest. The family whisky gods might even bless you with a server who pours a generous portion into a wine glass...

It being podunk Seattle, you might run into an old family friend who tells you, "Days like this I miss your grandfather" and you can reminisce together about how unapologetically partisan he was. So when your coworkers say "Hurry up and drink your wine so we can get to the next party," you can tell them "This is not wine, it's scotch." Then you can let them know it was also your Grandfather's favorite, that you and four of your cousins downed an entire bottle at his ash-spreading ceremony, that he was the first person in your life to talk to you about political events and take you precinct-walking, that you get your rambling tendencies from him, and why you miss him a hell of a lot this election cycle.

A hell of a hell of a hell of a lot...

Lesson learned the hard way #1754: J-Lo's "If I Had Your Love" is difficult for karaoke
It's also OK to sing only if election night is also your state director's birthday and she specifically requests it. Never, ever anytime else!

Lesson learned the hard way #1755: Post-election "mornings" bring spaced-out behavior
You might wake up at noon, then accidentally leave the house with your purse (and cell phone, wallet, and keys) still inside. With nothing but your bus pass, which is inexplicably in your pocket, and sporting your newly-acquired blatantly partisan gubernatorial T-shirt, you can head to the office and email La Otra Hermana to pleasepleaseplease bring you the spare key, after the peak hour bus fares go back down to regular prices in six hours and you can once again head back to the Westside.

Lesson learned the hard way #1756: You might be crazy after all
Additionally, the Second Person Introspection process might make you realize you have boozylicious and slightly schizophrenic tendencies. (But tell yourself at least you're not in denial, and to buy yourself a drink sometime...) ;-P


If Present Me had only imparted these words of wisdom to Past Me several weeks ago!

Eh. I probably still would've chosen the red pill.

C'est la ... quelle?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Surveying Mr. and Mrs. Smith

The Drum Major Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, has just released its First Annual Survey on the Middle Class and Public Policy.

A telling highlight:
"When it comes to gas prices specifically, adults are skeptical that gas prices will normalize – despite regular reports of Hollywood breakups, 56% of households believe that Brangelina is more likely to celebrate their 25th anniversary (56%) than gas prices are to return to $3 per gallon (19%). (Another 18% believe neither option will come to bear.)"
Also in the report: Americans disapprove of Congressional job performance but overall don't know how their members of Congress voted on certain issues or bills. (Actually, that seems like a contradiction, but it's not.)

More fascinating data to mine while waiting out today's state Primary Election!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Pop goes the...

I have long been obsessed with the pop/soda question, and finally, a linguist has made a map of it! I love how it's broken down by county...

Our long national nightmare is finally over.

Also, I remember freshman year in college, sitting around with some friends in a dorm lounge, we ascertained that the pop/soda border was somewhere in central Pennsylvania. Guess we were right!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Woo hoo, $10.50 so far this summer!

Though I loves me my medieval mysteries, sometimes I accidentally stash them underneath old Atlantic Monthly magazines, and leave them to fester. (This can cause momentarily delight upon re-discovery of the books, followed by severe panic and heart palpitations at the thought of the overdue fines incurred.)

The fifth book in the Catherine LeVendeur series has our heroine travelling to Scotland and northern England with her four-month-old baby, to help investigate gruesome murders in her husband's family. The book is filled with the typical detective work, mysterious goings-on, and dramatic end-of-tale confessions.

A major theme for the series is Jewish life in medieval Europe. Obviously, said life was not the happiest, though some areas were less anti-Semitic than others. Cursed in the Blood compared Jewish history in various French cities (the previous four books) to the diaspora's English contingent. In this fifth book, though, Newman adds another new element: the gays! There's a minor subplot involving a nobleman and a man of the cloth.

Newman had a shocker for an ending, too. Whereas the previous four books have ended on relatively happy notes, this one was both shocking and heartbreaking. I did not expect the violent ending with the dismembering of a major character! It'll be interesting to see how Newman develops this in the next few books...

... which I will make sure are not overdue at the library.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Space oddity

Connie Willis' and J.K. Potter's D.A. was a quick read, which took all of like 20 minutes. Since I'm nowhere near approaching my self-imposed moratorium on the word "cute," I can use it to describe this short story (which, bizarrely, is not in a collection with other short stories).

It was cute. A high school senior is mysteriously selected for an elite space cadet program to which she did not apply, and she and her computer hacker friend try to uncover the conspiracy that launch her into orbit in the first place. Sarcasm and mucho mocking of teen speech patterns abound.

The book, along with several others, is also about a month overdue at the library. So much for trying to live debt-free...

Municipal charters and the 25th Amendment

I've been a little obsessed with the Detroit text message scandal, and today's news brings such political horror on several levels:

Kilpatrick will spend night in jail
Judge unmoved by mayor's apology

[Judge] Giles’ jailing of Kilpatrick leaves no clear line of authority in who is running the city ... because there currently is no deputy mayor.

... "Last week was a tremendous wake-up call to me," [Mayor Kilpatrick] said, referring to Giles' rebuke last month after he allegedly assaulted law enforcement officials trying to serve a subpoena . . . . Kilpatrick further said he was not "frolicking" in Windsor [Canada] but trying to make a deal that would let him avoid laying off more than a thousand city workers....

"The defendant left the state of Michigan, left the country, without prior notice to the court," [Prosecutor] Moran said, referring to a recent trip to Windsor. . . .
Suddenly Seattle's mayor's problems seem really small.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


This is somewhat belated, but I finally saw the long-awaited new Batman movie a few weekends ago. A couple of friends had warned me that I would be uncomfortable with the many, many blatant civil liberties violations in the film. And I was -- very much so! It was disturbingly prescient. Warrants? Telecoms? Yeah....

But all that aside, the movie kicked ass. There's really nothing more to say other than that I concur with The Common Man's review. Heath Ledger and Aaron Eckhardt were both incredible. Great action sequences, especially the car chase scenes involving the Batmobile.

And also, I spotted two blatant rip-off scenes: one suspiciously similar to Pan's Labrynth, and another highly akin to Inside Man. (Those are just the ones I caught, and I don't really watch movies that often....)

But again, aside from all that, the movie kicked ass.

It did get me thinking again about the superhero genre, though. A coworker mentioned that Batman doesn't actually have any superpowers, he's just a guy who has a lot of money and awesome gadgets, and uses them to fight crime. I hadn't really thought of that before, but she's right.

I waffle between loving the genre and being suspicious of it. I'm suspicious of it only in that in most superhero flicks and books, "the City" is almost always a place of evil, where people are greedy bastards and everyone's lost in violent and crime-ridden anonymity, and the happy Jeffersonian idyllic farm is where the "true" values of family and love and innocence are. And I am, after all, a die-hard City Mouse....

But car chases and explosions and shootouts onscreen are totally seductive.