Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Domestic policies

La Madre, for some strange reason, wanted to watch At First Sight when it was on TV a few nights ago. It reminded me of Charlie, an old film based on the short story "Flowers for Algernon." The plot of those stories: a mentally retarded man undergoes experimental treatment that suddenly makes him a genius. He learns how to navigate in his new world, and attempts to convey what it was like in his old one. Then the treatment reverses, and he has to return to his former self. We read the short story in 7th grade and had to watch the movie. We compared. We contrasted.

Here, of course, it's blindness that is the focus, but the plot is essentially the same: Val Kilmer is a blind man who falls for Mira Sorvino, who convinces him to undergo experimental surgery to make him see. He finds it difficult to cope with the changes in worldview (no pun intended). Then the effects of the surgery diminish, and he becomes blind again. Apparently it is based on a true story as well as a book by Sir Oliver Sacks.

I was underwhelmed.

At any rate, it was kind of predictable, and even La Madre called it boring. (This from the woman who will voluntarily watch Doctor Zhivago in its entirety.) Afterwards, we watched a Hallmark Hall of Fame made-for-TV movie about a Polish woman (played Anna Paquin) who rescued 2500 Jewish children from the Nazis.

Whereupon I realized that if this was at all indicative of the next two weeks of my life, I would need several good stiff drinks.

In between writing cover letters, reminding the neffy why we don't hit auntie, jogging to the beach, karaoke-ing, and studying for the upcoming qualifying exams, I managed to watch The Hebrew Hammer.

In a nutshell: the Hammer is a Jewish superhero out to save Hanukkah from Santa's evil son, who wants to abolish the elves' labor laws and the North Pole's highly tolerant holiday attitude in favor of an anti-semitic, pro-Aryan, Christmas-only season. The Hammer enlists the help of the Kwanzaa Liberation Front to save the holiday season.

Clearly, it is a Comedy Central movie. Good for a laugh while doing crunches! But I liked it and its general (if undeniably satirical) spirit of inclusion and self-parody.

Also, who knew Adam Goldberg worked out? Just sayin' ... there's a scene where he's frolicking around in boxer briefs, for which I stopped doing post-jogging stretches in order to watch uninterrupted.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

No song unsung

IknowIknowIknow, this is probably overkill because I've posted this to listservs and Facebook, but watching this video of a Britain's Got Talent contestant is providing me with a whoooole lotta procrastination inspiration as I churn out my last two papers.

Plus, I sing the song at karaoke every now and then. :-)

And I listened to the Les Mis soundtrack nonstop when writing papers during ye olde undergrad years.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

With all the frills upon it

Mi Hermana and I both have burned champurrado (Mexican hot chocolate that is also commercially available in Swiss Miss-like packets). So it was nothing short of an Easter miracle that the two of us managed to prepare a damn good Mexican/Filipino/Anglo Easter brunch:

From top, clockwise: nopales (cactus) con juevos y tomates, lumpia (Filipino egg roll), peas and asparagus (steamed with the ham), jamón, and fruit salad with mint and orange juice dressing. I forgot to put the potatoes on my plate, but Mi Hermana made them, and Mi Cuñado y su madre said they were good.
All washed down with mimosas!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Accidental analogies

In a great unfortunate juxtaposition that vegging out sometimes brings, while packing for Ann Arbor last week, I watched the episode of 30 Rock where Alec Baldwin applies Harry and the Hendersons to everybody's life ... right before watching Mrs. Brown.

I barely recognized Billy Connolly or Gerard Butler, though that was possibly the point. Dame Judi Dench was, of course and as always, superb. Her reclusive Queen Victoria was a poignant portrait of a widow latching on to someone (Connolly's Brown) as a comforting tie to her late husband.

More unexplained, however, was that of Mr. Brown -- aside from a general "God save the Queen" reasoning, viewers don't really get a sense of why the heck he's such a devoted servant and subject.

It was awful, not being able to get Harry and the Hendersons out of my head. I saw the whole thing through the lens of taking a creature out of its element: Brown is just a wild Scot who belongs in the Highlands, where he learned plain talk and loyalty and to never doubt his instincts. To illustrate this, there's a scene where Brown and his brother run naked in
to the freezing ocean, another where he alone notices (and charges at) a potential assassin, several where he shows how dutiful he is by not gossiping with or like all the other servants, and many more where he helps the queen get out of her state of mourning just by treatin' her like other folk and makin' her have some real no-frills fun. Unlike Harry, Brown doesn't get to go home after showing the aristos how enjoyable life can be if you're unpretentious and direct; (spoiler alert!) he dies in captivity.

Gaaaaaack! Damn 30 Rock! I haven't even seen Harry and the Hendersons in decades!

Thankfully, I had the next book in my addictive medieval murder series to erase Alec Baldwin's Harry lectures from my mind.

To Wear the White Cloak
brought the LeVendeur family back home to
Paris, amidst more antisemitic riots and crusading knights. Unlike the previous books, this one had a comedic ring to it: bumbling clergy employ bumbling country servants to spy on our heroine and her family, who are entertaining bumbling country gentry and pretentious merchant socialites alike. It was one of the biggest comedies of error I've seen in a mystery series. Enjoyable, of course -- just a marked contrast to the tone of the first books.

The flight to Ann Arbor was uneventful, and the Pingüinita has been taking up most of my time. The new neffy is cute as all heck, and I need to figure out a nickname for him. He's a rather chill baby; all he does is sleep. The Pingüinita has been a diva ever since birth; and now that she's both getting her toddler molars and encountering a baby rival for adult attention, she's determined to command even more presence.

So far, we've been to playgroup, a toddler dance party at the community center, and several A2 parks and playgrounds. What strikes me most since I saw her last (over Thanksgiving) is how much she repeats sounds and can talk. The one that never ceases to crack me up: "eyes" are "ass" (or, more accurately, "assssss.")

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Freedom and Unity!

(The motto for the state of Vermont, where the legislature just overrode the Governor's veto on a marriage rights bill..)

The Green Mountain State is now the first to give gay and lesbian couples marriage rights via the legislature rather than the judiciary.

From the Burlington Free Press:
Vermont legislature overrides veto
MONTPELIER — Vermont has become the fourth state to legalize gay marriage — and the first to do so with a legislature’s vote. . . . The vote came nine years after Vermont adopted its first-in-the-nation civil unions law. . . . It’s now the fourth state to permit same-sex marriage. Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa are the others. Their approval of gay marriage came from the courts.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Our liberties we prize, and our rights we will maintain

(That's the state motto of Iowa...)

Iowa Supreme Court says marriage ban unconstitutional
It was unanimous! Woot.

Reading the opinion while packing for Michigan, and I can't stop smiling.