Archive for the 'observations' Category

Oscar Movie #3: Ides of March

Solid all around and Clooney has potential as a director. I know I’m going to get flack from lots of ladies for saying this, but the thing that stood out most was Gosling’s terrible accent: why? No need for one.

Clooney. Clooney totally wins.

I’m usually pretty good with my Eastern seaboard regionals. It might be a small thing, but it stuck out. Not Morgan-Freeman-in-Invictus-distracting, but at least that was necessary.

Full disclosure: While watching “Rescue Dawn” I noticed Christian Bale had a tinge of Lower East Side with his German- American. Turns out the guy he was playing stowed away to lower Manhattan when he turned 18 (yeah, I looked it up), so I’m thinking on that kind of level.

I know, I know: “nerd” doesn’t quite capture it.

Also, I know my reviews are calling out kind of specific things so far: that’s because the movies have been solid, good even (well not so much with Young Adult), but not extraordinary. Except in very specific ways. To a clearly specific critic (virtual air quotes!).

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Oscar Movie #2: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

The English-y-est Englishness to ever come out of England. If the BBC and WestEnd and Trench Coats and tea and mushy peas and stiff upper lips and Pimms (….) were to have a baby, it might be as English as this movie. That said, it was pretty good.

Jolly Old!

Like this, but not as refreshing...

Oldman’s great and it’s cool to see a very porn-movie-esque Bane (Thomas Hardy) as a “scalp collector,” but not a whole lot of tension or suspense. Which I would consider key in a cat-and-mouse Cold War espionage thriller. I couldn’t help but think: what if David Fincher directed this? They’d have been pulling my nails out of the arm rests.

Me and my lousy expectations.

Oscar Movie #1: Young Adult

The screeners are in kiddies, and there are several films to get through, and a wide variety at that. Wait. Since Transformers III: Dark Side of the Moon is included in this list and putting up a lot of things “For Your Consideration,” let me correct myself: there are several movies to get through.

The first is Young Adult with Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt, written by Diablo Cody and directed by Jason Reitman.

I don’t have much to say about this one. Theron’s good. She’s usually good. And she seems better because she does that she’s-so-beautiful-yet-she-plays-such-ugly-people thing. I’m not hating on the woman, I think she’s fantastic, but her role wasn’t.

Cody is over-rated, Reitman has clearly seen a LOT of John Hughes movies in is time (who can blame him?) and I will just state for the record that I do not get Patrick Wilson. To me, the most remarkable thing about the guy is that he gets so much play and he’s so patently generic. Well, other than kind of reminding me of a lobotomized Chris Pratt, who is patently awesome on Parks and Recreation.

The most promising thing about the movie is Oswalt. I thought he was good- doing a lot with so little and making a real character out of it. I hope he gets more serious roles.

Overall: pretty uneventful. Sorry, kids.

District 9 movie marketing- will the political/ cultural allegories resonate?*

I have many (mostly) male friends, nerdboys of the highest order.  Like me, they collect action figures, watch Star Wars on a regular basis, debating the merits of the chapters, characters, arc and colors of the light-sabres and generally revel in the outright fantasy without guilt or embarrassment.

And rightly so.  They are some of the smartest, most successful people I interact with and I’m proud to stand in line with them for hours to get in to see Iron Man’s first showing.  However, they tend not to know too much about international politics, or at least don’t discuss it.

So when one of them, JET, came to me and insisted I watch a preview for District 9, I was struck by the plot and setting.  Aliens have landed, neither to hurt nor to help, they are refugees and are being kept away from humans in tin roofed shacks in a contained area in Johannesburg.  I didn’t need to wait to see the credits, hear the accents or even the remaining 90 seconds of the trailer to know that I was looking at Soweto.  It kind of hit me in the stomach- I wasn’t expecting this from what is clearly a sci-fi/ action film aimed at young men.  But the setting was striking.

It’s not a coincidence, the title refers to the District 6 township in Cape Town.  I wonder if the “9” is a nod to the ward in New Orleans.  The director is South African and the set design, terminology and visuals are striking to anyone who has even set foot in South Africa- during or after apartheid.  The psychic sucker punch were nearly identical images broadcast from the  Soweto riots of a year ago, where frustrated, unemployed black South Africans, afraid for what little they’ve been able to gain in the 13 years since Apartheid ended, began attacking the refugees from Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Nigeria… anyone who might take their potential jobs, or recognition they’d so long been denied.

I’m still unsure as to why this unsettles me so much or surprises me.  Comic books and science fiction have always been social and cultural mirrors disguised in fantastic situations and characters, but mainstream studios making the connections more obvious (think Iron Man, Stark Industries and Afghanistan) is intriguing.

I suppose there are several questions which I will chew over before and after seeing this film (I’ve never been accused of under-analyzing anything, including action movies).  The question I am mainly interested in opening for discussion is this:  are the studio execs putting their money where their mouths are in making some aspect of more mainstream movies politically relevant, are they not thinking about it, or do they think their audience won’t notice, or worse, won’t care?

Click here to see trailer.

*or am I imagining all of this?

who do we call at the OED to get “adult” updated?

For numerous reasons over numerous years, I have often stopped and thought:

“whoa.  i’m an adult.” 

Clearly anyone meeting me would wonder what it is causing me to wonder.  I’ve got a serious job and a serious title, have been taking care of myself since I was 15 (and had the honors of watching out for a few others over the years), pay my bills, wear suits to work….

here are the things I have taken care of- planning and execution, without consulting a single other human being for advice:

Continue reading ‘who do we call at the OED to get “adult” updated?’

random tips and lessons learned.

the fine people at wordpress set up the site so that one may see what search terms are used when chance readers are directed to ones site.  these can be very surprising.  i get a lot for “empire strikes back,” “neurologist,” “traits of an assassin,” none of which are surprising to me.  the last because it always follows an airing of the jenna elfman lifetime movie i blogged about a while back.

the more interesting ones are “gay squirrel,” “faggot,” “what do you do with an eight year old…”  the list goes on. 

it got me to thinking that i might occasionally put something in here for the wanderers; those seeking information, of all things, from the world wide web.  thus, i have decided to put in sundry tips i have picked up of late, in no particular order and for no particular reason. 

1. take claritin if you have a cold.

a lot of people cannot handle ephedrine.  sudafed makes a lot of people jittery. great for meth labs, not great for panickers and hypertension.  even non-ephedrine sudafed will raise your blood pressure.  claritin has something called loratidine in it, the active ingredient, that neither causes the jitters nor raises blood pressure, nor makes one particularly dry mouthed.  i am not allergic to anything, but claritin will always be in my medicine cabinet.

 2. mr. clean magic eraser is a godsend.

it removes dirt, smudges, soap scum, mold, everything you want gone and nothing you don’t.  it’s amazing.  it takes crayon, fingerprints, etc off walls without upsetting the paint.  tip: they tell you to wring all the water out of it, and you definitely need to.  i also recommend going over painted surfaces with a paper towel (lightly) afterward- it will eliminate any streaking.

3. walnut oil hides scratches on hard wood floors.

you can get it at most grocery stores and it takes them out.  scratches, not gouges.  it’s a pretty neat trick.

4. osage oranges get rid of bugs.

you can order them on the net.  leave the dried fruit in cabinets and closets- bugs and rodents HATE it and it’s non-toxic to you.

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not alien testicles, but just as gruesome to bugs

5. hairspray is a great way to protect drawings.

if you like to sketch, spray your finished work with any kind of hairspray- it acts as a buffer against time and friction- you  don’t have to worry about your lines getting blurred in your sketch pad.

6. steaming foam cushions brings them back to life.

i saw this on trading spaces, tried it and it worked like a charm.  have foam pillows or couch cushions that are saggy or limp?  remove the covers and put some distilled water in your iron.   turn it on, and hit the steam button while holding the iron to the foam.  they puff up before your eyes.  and remain firm.  it’s awesome.  you may not need to trash that couch yet.

7. the best way to get the smell of garlic off your hands is to touch stainless steel.

seriously.  rubbing lemons on them helps, too, but steel does the trick for me.  if you cook with fresh garlic a lot, you know that smell can stay on your hands for days.  as soon as you’re done touching the fresh garlic, press your hands to some stainless steel (a clean kitchen sink usually does the job).

8. wear swim goggles to prevent tearing when cutting onions

shout out to ma weber for this one.  while it sounds ridiculous, and according to CS, looks hilarious, it works.  i’m saving it more for large onion projects like stuffing, but as someone with sensitive eyes, i’d rather look special in the kitchen than hurt all night.

9. the best way to prevent an oil stain from ruining a shirt?  dish-washing detergent.

got this one from my sister during her stint as a cleaning lady.  when you think about the organic chemistry, it makes sense.  since almost no one wants to think about organic chemistry, just know: it works (for the most part- you still have to get it relatively early).

10.  finally, to keep it in round numbers, the only cure for jet lag is hydration.  NOT sleep.

as a frequent traveler- both forward and backward in time zones, let me assure you, you cannot sleep away jet lag.  you’ll never get it right.  you’re body clock doesn’t adjust because you tell it to, it takes time.  we’ve all lost a night of sleep here or there- it never compares to the utter crap we feel when jet-lagged.  it’s because you’re seriously dehydrated.  an airplane is a desert- with recycled air.  relative humidity is less than 10%.  the food is salty.  you’re probably drinking.  even if you’re lucky enough to fly business, buy lots of water- the biggest bottle you can find.  i try to average one giant bottle per three hours of flight time.  so, you have to get up to go to the bathroom.  that’s actually good for your circulation anyway.  and when you land? buy another giant bottle or two and a gatorade.  your body will thank you for it. 

my next post will aim to help, too.  it’s about those of us (un)fortunate enough to wear a cup size larger than D, but aren’t 90 and want to provoke lust, not pity when seen in our underwear.  websites and everything will be included! 

the back-handed compliment vs. the behind-the-back insult

i got my first writing assignment this weekend when a friend of mine, genghis khannie, a fellow blogger, put up an entry on the butterface phenomenon.  she and i discussed the situation that caused her to write this post, and the fact that she had gone quite some time on this earth without ever hearing the term.  i believe her introduction to it (the term, not the manifestation) was this summer. 

after getting over her shock that a) this idea existed and b) that everyone else knows about it, we discussed the seeming preference for the “butterface” vs. the “shehassuchapretty face.” 

genghis and i are nice, fun, interesting gals.  we’re funny, we kick back and know how to drink, discuss the virtues of doc gooden’s curve ball and barry sanders agility, cook, are independent, but not cold, and, as she so eloquently put, “have lovely visages.”  it must also be noted that neither she nor i are heifers.  far from it.  we’ve got a few extra pounds on us, to be sure, but there are no rolls or extra chins nor cankles to be found.  in fact, if we’re being honest (and we’re always honest with each other, aren’t we, internet?) i could give an hourglass some lessons on curves.*

this led me to think about the pretty face vs. the pretty body and how the latter is definitely the more popular, at least amongst the male members of our vast urban tribes.

this is not going to be a post bemoaning the lack of gentleman callers we have (though, for reals, we should be beating them off).  rather, i want to talk about the back-handed compliment that i’ve been getting for years, and why, it is, that people feel no compunction about paying it.

would you, whilst discussing some one’s physical attributes, tell them that they have a lovely personality?  no?  i didn’t think so.  not even crazy great aunts do that.  then why would you say “oh, you have such a pretty face?”  saying “you’re pretty” in our culture implies that you are discussing the person’s face, and, possibly, hair.  “you’re hot” implies the whole package.  “you have a pretty face” implies exclusion.  by inserting that one word -face- you are implying that the rest of her is not.

now, now, i am not being unreasonable.  think of someone saying “you look nice today.”  nearly everyone i know backpedals immediately after saying that, insisting, in fact, that it’s not that you don’t look nice every day, you just look especially nice this 24 hour period. 

there is no need for the addition of ‘today’ or ‘face’ or whatever other qualifying word you want to add to a compliment.  why do it?  if you want to issue a compliment, do so only when you are sincere.  and if you sincere, there is no need to mitigate it.  let’s spread the love, people, the pure love.

all that being said, i’d rather have the back-handed compliment than have people use a positive-tinged-insult (is that the opposite?) behind my back.

* please know that i am not as conceited as this post implies.  by necessity, the subject matter dictate that i put aside my normal humility (which annoys us all anyway, doesn’t it?) and be as truthful as possible. 

post script: i wanted a visual to accompany this post, and i started thinking of famous icons of women with pretty faces, but possibly not the greatest bodies.  i went to botticelli first, but then called my sister, herself an artist, and asked her for a good renaissance artist that painted women as i described above.  she asked why i wanted renaissance- that was about painting women as they are- real faces, real bodies.  even better, said i, because that’s what i was getting at.  she directed me to michelangelo.  his works are things of beauty, but there is an underlying reality there- boobs, curves, muscles, bones, the whole shebang- and the opposite of our airbrushed rib-less, plastic doll model culture.  so, i bring you the delphic sybil.  the perfect embodiment of an archetype- the woman with “a pretty face.”

the face

* incidentally, while searching google images for an icon of a “butterface,” fergie came up quite often (the singer, not the duchess.  i mean not the english royal family duchess).  i’m just the messenger, people.

the original post

yippee ki-YAY

i will add more, my friends, when i have time to do so.  but, the moral of this story is this: don’t believe it when people tell you it’s too hard, or you’re too old, or it’s normal to be unhappy. 

go out and get whatever it is that makes you smile when getting up in the morning.  or grin the afternoon. 

it’s worth the work.

stab! bang! aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh

well, kiddies, it’s happened.  i’ve finally gotten over the first hump: i acutally feel better.  my physical therapy has begun to have a lasting, measurable effect.

i noticed this going in to stab therapy on thursday.  i was walking in, and while not pain free, the pain was less pervasive and less severe than normal.  despite the utter teddy bear debacle that rained down on monday and all the associated stress that came with it, i wasn’t a complete wreck. 

i mean, you can only imagine.  i have my most important brand in my most important territory rocking, rolling and generally kicking aussie ass when my local agency goes bankrupt.  with a whole lotta my dough in the bank.  bucks that have already been spent to make the most amazing program- something i was planning on wowing my company and the industry with.  and bam!  lockdown.  and here i am on the other side of the world, holding the bills and not much else.  to top it off, try explaining to anyone that you’re staying up past midnight and feeling severely pressured because the freaking teddy bears are in crisis.  you don’t exactly engender a lot of sympathy.  or credibility, for that matter.

anyway.  i won’t go into detail because it just sounds more and more ridiculous.  the point is, people, that i feel the difference.  despite the stress and the travel and the irregular schedules and all of it.  i feel better.  i’ve been going to stab therapy for nearly nine months and was beginning to lose hope.

little by little, i’ve been healing.  i guess i just got to the point that it was appreciable enough for me to notice. 

or maybe it’s just due to all the sex.  whatever.  i’ll take it.

(total aside: spinal tap is on.  it’s the mini-bread scene.  christopher guest is genius.  i don’t know how they even get through the takes without losing it)

the canary islands contain neither canaries nor spaniards. discuss.

it´s true.  to be honest, i have seen three or four spaniards.  no canaries and no seagulls, though, not a one.

we left girona for england del sur yesterday at four in the morning on the most uncomfortable flight ever (damn your low prices, ryan air!!).  the seats don´t recline and they don´t stop selling you things.  loudly.

anyway, here we are.  it´s british after british after scottish after british.  the only spaniard i´ve talked to was the cleaning lady.  i´m so grateful to cs lewis and her nanny for treating me with the free place, but i think we learned a valuable lesson here, which is: if you want to go to spain, don´t go anywhere in the southern third. 

 we went for a great spanish dinner last night, which sadly, shocked me. 

then we went for a walk and on to legends scottish bar where we enjoyed karaoke and ¨cabaret¨by an elton john/tom jones impersonator.  basically, it was all out of that scene in the first office christmas special when david brent goes to the bar in sussex or whatever and plays the dating game dressed as austin powers.  once again, i got down on my knees and thanked god that he made me so easily amused.

 we´ve decided to find an irish bar tonight, even if it means taking a cab.  if we´re going to be surrounded by pasty english speakers, we prefer to be amongst those that have always shown us the most kindness (read: are most likely to make out with us.  i keed.  i keed.)

actually, we´re hoping to find a pub.  all these british joints have too much of a propensity for ¨¨talent¨¨, hosts, karaoke, schtick.  we´d just like to drink with some fun people with bad house music in the background.

 fingers crossed, people, fingers crossed.


truth

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

truth

Upon common theatres, indeed, the applause of the audience is of more importance to the actors than their own approbation. But upon the stage of life, while conscience claps, let the world hiss! On the contrary if conscience disapproves, the loudest applauses of the world are of little value - john adams
November 2017
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from the man who taught me everything:

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”

bygones