April 30, 2003

Tolerable pink

The woman who lived here before us was a great lover of the color pink. We don't have anything really against pink in moderation, but there's just so much of it that it becomes kind of cloying and overwhelming. We're slowly getting rid of a lot of the pink things, but we actually like this pink dogwood in our front yard. It seems like the blossoms (not really blossoms, but whatever) are coming out really late this year, but it sure is pretty.
Posted by jeffy at 11:01 PM in Photo Log | Comments (0)

Lost sock

Parking lot outside Staples
Posted by jeffy at 10:40 PM in Photo Log | Comments (0)

April 29, 2003

Lost glove #4

Lost pair.

On SE 51st Street just before Siemens' driveway.

#3 | #2 | #1

Posted by jeffy at 09:39 PM in Lost Gloves , Photo Log | Comments (0)

Butterfly details

butterfly says hiCool gallery of close up photographs of butterflies from Kjell Sandved, the guy who brought you the Butterfly Alphabet. The site includes some interesting background on Sandved's 24-year project to find the alphabet in butterfly wings (though the site seems to mostly be about selling posters.)

(note to Mozilla users, the site's thumbnails won't bring up the full-size versions, so if you want to see the bigger pictures, fire up your backup browser. Bummer.)

(via MetaFilter)

Posted by jeffy at 12:49 PM in Bloggage | Comments (0)

April 27, 2003

Human Nature

Another from the twisted mind of Charlie Kaufman, the fellow who wrote Being John Malkovitch and last year's Adaptation. Patricia Arquette fearlessly plays a woman who has a genetic disorder that results in the growth of hair all over her body. Rhys Ifans (who I'm sure is looking forward to the day when he won't be remembered primarily as Hugh Grant's crass flatmate in Notting Hill) is a man raised in the woods as an ape by his delusional father. Tim Robbins is a research psychologist attempting to teach table manners to mice (and then to Ifans).

Between those descriptions and the title, you should be able to surmise that the movie takes all the conventions of civilized life and tweaks them until they break. The result is occasionally funny, but more often just made me wince, whether from sympathy with the characters or the actors or my own mildly offended sensibilities, I can't really say. I find myself wanting to pick at all the ways in which the film wasn't quite as good as it could have been. As audacious as it was, I feel like it was still pulling its punches, wavering on the line between full-out farce and satirical commentary, achieving neither.

One of the most fun parts of the film was Miranda Otto as the faux-French lab assistant femme fatale who could easily be an older version of her hilarious Dimity Hurley from the bizarre Love Serenade.

Verdict: 2 stars (out of 4)

Posted by jeffy at 10:37 PM in Movie Reviews | Comments (0)

April 26, 2003

The Scholars of Night by John M. Ford

I got this used from Powells Books when I needed a few more items to get my order to $50 for free shipping. Which makes it sound like it was a shot in the dark, but actually I always have an eye out for books by Ford. This one has been out of print so long that I had to scan my own picture of the cover to adorn this entry. It's a cold-war spy novel. Nicholas Hansard is a history professor at a small Eastern US college who does a little side work authenticating historical items for a mysterious government agency. He is asked to investigate a newly found manuscript of a previously unknown play by Christopher Marlowe. I keep getting some of the events in the book confused with those in Possession since they share the conceit of hunting down events of hundreds of years before through the analysis of documents and the imagining of the circumstances under which they were produced. As with any spy story, it's pointless to try to describe the plot because there are so many twists and turns that you've no idea what the plot is until it's over.

Ford does a fine job with the story, writing a whole raft of characters who do believable things for believable reasons. The plotting moves at a breakneck pace throughout. Apart from a few genre references from the characters themselves, you'd never suspect that Ford has written mostly science fiction or that the publisher of this book, Tor, publishes mostly science fiction.

Posted by jeffy at 11:31 PM in Book Reviews | Comments (1)

Rivers and Tides

Becky saw a review of this film in the paper on Friday and forwarded it to me at work. I read ten words of it and fired back a "when are we going?"

I've been a fan of Andy Goldsworthy's work for a number of years. He goes out into nature and makes art out of what he finds, then records the results in photographs. His works range from egg-shaped obelisks made from stacked stones to autumn leaves laboriously arranged in lines revealing their subtle gradations of color to structures laboriously contrived from sticks, often with a dark hole at their center.

The movie is a documentary filmed by Thomas Riedelsheimer showing the construction (and destruction) of many different works interleaved with interview footage. Riedelsheimer has done us a huge service by making this film. Inherent in Goldsworthy's art is its ephemeral nature. Piles of rock are upset, leaves blow away, stick assemblages are lifted and dismantled by a rising tide. The pieces are integral to the places where they are made, and part of the art is how the place interacts with Goldsworthy's strange imposition of human order on the more natural order it began with. Goldsworthy's still photographs give his pieces an illusion of stability and permanence. Even when multiple photos show a gradual change in a piece, the frozen moment is all we see. Riedelsheimer's motion picture reveals the fragility of the pieces, and draws out the fourth dimension of the work, revealing an even more complex depth to Goldsworthy's vision.

Verdict: 3-1/2 stars (out of 4)

Posted by jeffy at 06:26 PM in Movie Reviews | Comments (0)

April 25, 2003


I suspect it was a good thing I hadn't read A. S. Byatt's acclaimed novel before seeing this film adaptation. For one thing, the first few minutes of the director's commentary track revealed that they changed the male lead into an American for the film which probably would have bugged the heck out of me had I known it while watching the movie. What little I know about the book suggests it's dense with literary detail, and that shows here by the fact that there were several places where I felt like important details were missing.

I read some reviews when the movie came out which were commenting on how unlikely it is to have English lit academics played by gorgeous movie stars like Gwyneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart, and I have to agree. There are an infinite number of ways that humans can be attractive, and the narrow selection of them accepted by Hollywood is obnoxious. I had less problem with Jeremy Northam as his usual charming Englishman and Jennifer Ehle being sweetly impish as his lady love.

The movie is okay, but I suspect I'd enjoy the book more.

Verdict: 2-1/2 stars (out of 4)

Posted by jeffy at 08:44 PM in Movie Reviews | Comments (0)

Lost Glove #3

This one is just off Gilman Blvd behind the caboose.

#2 | #1

Posted by jeffy at 08:25 PM in Lost Gloves , Photo Log | Comments (0)

April 24, 2003

Beggars and Choosers by Nancy Kress

Beggars and Choosers is a sequel to Kress's Beggars in Spain. The book takes up pretty much where its predecessor left off. The US is stratified into the genetically modified ruling class and everyone else who makes up a completely dependent leisure class. Early in the book we find out that the super-enhanced characters from the first book are up to something, but we don't really find out what until the very end of the book. Kress depicts a US on the verge of some kind of revolution. She rotates through a half-dozen point of view characters, none of whom have any idea what is really going on. Technological gadgetry is breaking down, but no one knows why. While all of this uncertainty is, perhaps, a realistic situation, it doesn't make for a very compelling story line. The plot feels like a setup and conclusion laboriously pried apart to book length by a meandering series of minor occurrences. Not to say that it wasn't fun to read. Kress is a good enough writer to make the book a page turner, it's just that when you get to the startling conclusion, it's hard to look back and see what all the stuff you read had to do with getting there. Maybe that's the whole problem. Maybe the book is really a subtle musing on the nature of human society (all the stuff in the middle) artificially bracketed by a gee-whiz sf-nal conundrum. Or maybe I'm missing the whole point.

Posted by jeffy at 10:00 PM in Book Reviews | Comments (1)

April 23, 2003

Hats for cats

This site is all in Japanese, but the pictures speak for themselves. The pictured felines all look to me like they're doing everything in their power to call down lightning strikes on their tormentors. Gotta admit they're kind of cute, though.

(via MetaFilter)

Posted by jeffy at 04:58 PM in Bloggage | Comments (6)

April 22, 2003

Low-rez Benaroya

We went to Benaroya Hall with some friends to see Chucho Valdes on Monday night. I didn't bother even trying to take pictures during the show, but here are a few shots of the building. The first two are in the lobby, the second two inside the hall. Benaroya is home of the Seattle Symphony and opened to great fanfare a few years ago. This was our first visit. It's a lovely room, and the sound seemed as good as the hype about the place. But then Valdes and his quintet (usually a quartet except on the four tunes his sister came out to sing on) are so hot they'd sound good in a high school gymnasium. It was a phenomenally good show.

Posted by jeffy at 10:21 PM in Photo Log | Comments (0)

Lost glove #2

Rachel was entertained by my last lost-glove picture (from my pre-"Mad Times" photo log) so when I saw another one I thought I'd start a series. The weird thing is that this one is in almost exactly the same spot as the last one.
Posted by jeffy at 09:50 PM in Lost Gloves , Photo Log | Comments (0)

April 19, 2003

The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz

This book is subtitled "A practical guide to personal freedom". My therapist suggested I read it after our first session. I'm not sure if this recommendation was specifically in response to my personal neuroses or if he just recommends it to all his patients. I'll have to ask him. The latter is certainly possible because the "Agreements" of the title are high-level axioms for a fulfilling life. The author is a Toltec shaman and the book claims to be a presentation of a part of the wisdom of that tradition.

The "four agreements" are printed on the flyleaf of this small book, so I'm not giving much away by listing them here:

  1. Be impeccable with your word
  2. Don't take anything personally
  3. Don't make assumptions
  4. Always do your best

2-4 mean pretty much literally what they say (though 4 comes with the understanding that "best" is relative, so your best on Monday may not be the same as your best on Thursday), but 1 isn't that clear. By "be impeccable with your word", Ruiz means the obvious "say what you mean and mean what you say," but also the more abstract admonition that you should use the power of language only for good. This means shutting down any internal monologue of self-derision as well as any externally-focused negative communication like gossip or other verbal abuse.

It's hard not to be glib when reviewing a book like this. Hard not to call it, for example, "new age solipsism". Yet the seeming self-evidentness of these principles may also point to the presence of some fundamental truth. Ruiz's overall premise is that in the process of learning to be human beings from infancy to adulthood we accept a vast number of things on faith, and an enormous number of them are not necessarily true. They may have only been assumed to be true by the people who taught them to us, or told to us in place of a truth that was inconvenient to our teachers. The four agreements are supposed to help you to start the process of filtering out the sludge of wrong assumptions by which we live our lives.

Like many fundamental truths, these are easily stated, but perhaps not so easily implemented in one's life. Ruiz could have spent a bit less time in the book explaining what he meant, and a bit more explaining how to implement. I'll certainly play with them as a framework for self improvement on a trial basis and see how it goes.

Posted by jeffy at 10:08 PM in Book Reviews | Comments (0)

Spy Kids 2

Last night we watched Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams, director Robert Rodriguez's follow up to the hit kid-flick from 2001. (Rodriguez is almost a one-man production company on this movie. He's also credited as writer, cinematographer, editor, production designer, sound effects editor, and visual effects supervisor plus he shares credit as producer and composer!) The first movie wowed audiences with a spy movie for the pre-teen set, complete with gadgets James Bond would kill for. In this follow up there's more action, more gadgets, and more laughs. Relative unknowns Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara reprise their roles as the children of spy parents. This time the kids are spies in their own right and head off on a mission of their own. Their parents (Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino) follow after them to try to protect them, and their grandparents (Ricardo Montalban and Holland Taylor) tag after them cause they don't have much confidence in the parents' ability to bail out the kids.

It's a very light movie with a PG rating for action and some rude humor. But unlike some kid movies where there's nothing for the parents, this one has fun details that the kids probably won't notice. Like homages to Raiders of the Lost Ark and Spider Man and a skeleton fight scene that would make Ray Harryhausen proud. And the adult actors are fun to watch, especially Steve Buscemi as a mad geneticist and Montalban looking like he's having the time of his life as Antonio Banderas's father-in-law.

The DVD has a boat-load of extras. The most fun is a "10-minute film school" segment narrated by Rodriguez showing how he makes fancy shots for cheap (and not just by not paying anybody else to do all the stuff he's doing himself).

Verdict: 3 stars (out of 4)

Posted by jeffy at 08:37 PM in Movie Reviews | Comments (0)

April 18, 2003


Meetup is a site that facilitates the organization of face-to-face meetings of affinity groups around the world. You find a city near you and sign up for topic areas. Meetups get scheduled for a topic area and the people who signed up for it get to vote on where the meetup will occur, then once a location is chosen, RSVP with their intention of attending. Cool way to meet people in your area with similar interests.

(via thenyoudiscover)

Posted by jeffy at 01:32 PM in Bloggage | Comments (0)

April 17, 2003

Introducing Cocoa and Cricket

(Click on the thumbnails for bigger versions of the pictures.)
Joyce and Marty have two new babies. Cocoa and Cricket were born on January 7th. They're Yorkshire Terriers and should grow to be about 5 pounds each. From all accounts, they're an energetic and loveable pair.

Posted by jeffy at 10:04 PM in Personal Interest | Comments (0)

This war is a disaster

And I doubt anyone will more eloquently point out the reasons why than Teresa Nielsen Hayden has over on her must-read blog, Making Light. Of especial interest is her catalogue of the ever-changing array of reasons the administration has advanced for why this war is necessary. With rebuttals. It's long, but read it anyway.

Posted by jeffy at 07:00 PM in Soapbox | Comments (0)

I remember that sign

a road signApparently there is an activity known as "Phooning" that consists of striking a static pose as if one is running, and then taking a picture of the resulting scene. I was unaware of this phenomenon until it appeared on Boing Boing today. Xeni Jardin's entry on Boing Boing includes a link to this picture (thumbnailed at left) of a sign which stands along Interstate 5 right before the San Onofre Border Patrol Check. The sign is meant to warn you of the potential for people hoping to avoid the border check running across the freeway in front of your speeding car. When Becky and I saw this sign back in the early 90s, we thought it was a pretty sad commentary about the state of US immigration policy in general and border check handling in particular. We've bored at least a few people with this story, but didn't have a picture of the sign (we were too busy looking out for frightened families to take a picture), but now we do.

Posted by jeffy at 05:31 PM in Bloggage | Comments (0)

American Yakuza

I don't usually go in for mafia movies, but since American Yakuza stars Viggo Mortensen, it was a foregone conclusion that it would show up on our stack at some point. Mortensen plays an FBI agent in deep cover attempting (rather successfully) to infilitrate a Japanese mafia family in Los Angeles. The Japanese mafia is in the midst of a war with the American mafia, and the movie explores this scenario in a pretty predictable fashion. Lots of gun fire, lots of blood, lots of dead mafia guys. The conflict for Mortensen's character is that his friends in the Yakuza have so much more integrity and honor than his bosses at the FBI that his allegiances start getting fuzzy. Mortensen's performance and some interesting camera work ratchet this a notch above typical shoot-em-up standards. We looked to see if director Frank A. Cappello had done anything else, and he has one other film out there called No Way Back about an FBI guy (played by Russell Crowe) mixed up in a conflict between the American mafia and the Yakuza. Hmm...

Verdict: 2-1/2 stars (out of 4)

Posted by jeffy at 04:06 PM in Movie Reviews | Comments (0)

April 16, 2003

Lichen landscape

On my way to work on Tuesday I saw a guy with a camera with a foot-long lens on a tripod set up about a half an inch away from this boulder which sits behind a dumpster which sits behind the Pickering Barn. I thought about going and taking a picture of the guy taking the picture, but I was late for a meeting so I just went to work. On my way home, it still being light, I swung by the rock to see what he'd been snapping at. I think it must have been this little landscape of lichens and mosses. Probably his picture is better than mine. Still, it makes me think of the little garden down in the corner of Escher's Waterfall

Update: Becky and I bicycled to the Farmer's Market at the Barn (too late, it turned out) and I showed her the real-life scene. She thought I should point out that the little white tubule thingies in this picture are only about 3/8-inch high (one cm).

Posted by jeffy at 09:53 PM in Photo Log | Comments (0)

Spirited Away

I took a break from work today to buzz out to the North Bend Theatre with Becky to see Miyazaki's Oscar-winning animated film Spirited Away. The movie is about a little girl named Chihiro who is moving to a new city along with her parents. On the way to their new house they take a wrong turn (note Audi product placement) and, well, strange stuff happens resulting in Chihiro having to rescue her parents. The plot makes exactly zero sense, but when you've got images like the ones on this screen, who cares? The spirit world denizens are a kick to watch, and the artwork is eye-poppingly luscious throughout the 130 minute run time. We saw it in a half-full theatre of which half the people were kids, and we barely heard a peep out of them. Lots of fun. Am I the only one who thought that the boilerman could have been drawn by R. Crumb?

Verdict: 3 stars (out of 4)

Posted by jeffy at 08:06 PM in Movie Reviews | Comments (0)

April 13, 2003

Design and food

Here's about as odd a selection of photos as you're likely to see in close proximity.

The door handle cluster in the back seat of a Toyota RAV4
A slug snacking on a springtime dandelion.
Go, slug, go!
Salad with feta cheese made by Becky who's on a low-carb diet
The score computer at Sun Villa Lanes bowling alley taken at my last league bowling session for the season.
Posted by jeffy at 10:58 PM in Photo Log | Comments (0)

Sign Language by Viggo Mortensen (text by Kevin Power)

More Viggo connections. This is the catalog that accompanied an exhibition of his photographs and paintings in 2002. The introductory text by Kevin Power is kind of amusing in a let's-talk-about-art-like-it's-intrinsically-ultimately-profound way, but the images themselves are interesting enough to make up for it. Mortensen's photographs are daily snapshots with a painterly eye to composition and salvaging evocative images out of shots that as representative photographs seem like complete failures. Many of the photos seem to have been doctored in post-production with scratches and flares and radical exposure effects that didn't really do anything for me, but when he can bring himself to just present an image on its own, the result is worth looking at. The paintings are more interesting. Most are palimpsests of paint and image and random squiggles and written words that come out looking like snapshots of brain states. This book and Mortensen's other books are available from his own Perceval Press.

Posted by jeffy at 10:38 PM in Book Reviews | Comments (0)


I finally got around to writing book reviews for a couple of things I completed quite a while ago. I'm sticking with the practice of putting the review on the day I finished the book rather than when the review was written, so I'll stick a pointer in here when things happen far out of sequence for any of my readers who might just scan back until they see entries they've seen.

Akira by Katushiro Otomo

Feed by M. T. Anderson

Or just view All the book reviews

Posted by jeffy at 10:04 PM in Administrivia | Comments (0)

The Good Girl

The Good Girl was written by Mike White and directed by Miguel Arteta, the same team who did 2000's loved-hated Chuck & Buck. Jennifer Aniston plays Justine, a 30-year-old Texas woman who works in a small department store, is married to a dope-smoking house painter (John C. Reilly doing his usual bang-up job), and is almost completely numb to the monotony and meaninglessness of her existence. A disaffected 22-year-old who calls himself Holden (after Salinger's character, of course) (Jake Gyllenhaal in a scenery munching turn) gets a job at the store, and the two become friends and then lovers. Things start getting complicated for Justine as Holden lets his first love become an obsession.

Arteta does an incredible job with this material, making a movie with a very even affect which isn't that easy with a screenplay that's basically a really depressing comedy. Aniston is surprisingly believable as the depressed housewife. The supporting actors all do nice work, especially Zooey Deschanel who is reason enough to watch any movie she's in and actually made one of her lines one of the most poignant moments in the film for me (When she says "You need a ride?" to an uninterested Holden, you get a look at a whole alternative course of history for all of these characters.) Tim Blake Nelson is creepy-endearing as Justine's husband's painting partner/buddy who has a sizeable crush of his own on Justine.

The DVD has deleted scenes and two commentary tracks, one with just Aniston, the other with Smith and Arteta lamenting all the great lines that had to be cut from the screenplay in the editing process. There's also a "gag reel" which consists mostly of shots of the actors bursting into laughter and is a welcome reassurance that they had some fun making this grey little movie.

Verdict: 3 stars (out of 4)

Posted by jeffy at 08:27 PM in Movie Reviews | Comments (2)

April 10, 2003


Mike Stanfill has done a flash animation of Tom Lehrer's "The Elements". There's a dialup-sized version for all you poor people who are still bandwidth-challenged.

(via YAWL, the only blog I know of with its own ISSN number.)

Posted by jeffy at 07:11 PM in Bloggage | Comments (1)

How the other lives

I'm not sure how I stumbled onto The Androgyny RAQ (Rarely Asked Questions) today, but strangely enough it wasn't directly from the author's long-defunct-but-still-worth-reading weblog.

This RAQ makes very interesting reading and clarifies some of the mysteries of gender and sex, at least it answered some questions I had the last time I had occasion to ponder gender issues. The R in RAQ is apt in a couple of senses, but mostly in my case the sense that the subject doesn't come up very often. Beware that the dictionary portion of the site has a few bad puns (not the other kind) embedded including one that requires some knowledge of Star Trek: the Next Generation.

The site includes an interesting essay about the protagonist in Emma Bull's novel, Bone Dance, but even mentioning that book in this context is kind of a spoiler, so if you haven't read the book, forget everything you just read. Okay, now go read Bone Dance by Emma Bull.

Oh, and you could also go read The Fortunate Fall, the excellent novel by the author of the Androgyny RAQ, Raphael Carter. (That wasn't how I found the site either.)

Posted by jeffy at 06:42 PM in Bloggage | Comments (0)

Babatunde Olatunji

Diabetes finally took Olatunji's life on Sunday. I somehow didn't manage to ever be in the presence of the man on the few times he visited Seattle when I was clued in to the hand drumming community. My teachers had all worked with him to varying degrees, and the impression I got from them was that there was not a kinder more gentle teacher of African hand drumming traditions.

Washington Post Obituary

(via Boing Boing where there's more links including some sound samples)

Posted by jeffy at 03:36 PM in Bloggage | Comments (0)

April 09, 2003

Flour pictures

No, that's no typo. Manuel Wanskasmith over at buffoonery.org has taken some startlingly cool pictures at an old flour mill in Seattle. They're a strange melding of the mechanical and the organic. Beautiful stuff.

Posted by jeffy at 05:51 PM in Bloggage | Comments (1)

Horsey wins 2nd Pulitzer

David Horsey, political cartoonist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has won his second Pulitzer Prize. His first one was during the Clinton Lewinsky fiasco, so he's an equal opportunity skewerer of the madness of US culture. We use the PI as our main daily news source, and Horsey's cartoons are always worth a look.

Posted by jeffy at 05:20 PM in Bloggage | Comments (0)

April 08, 2003

Strange day

On part of one of my normal routes to work today I noticed that signs have been added banning bicycles from what has been a multi-use path. There's another sign like this one at the other end of the trail. It's weird because this is the principal bike route for West-bound traffic along SE 56th street since the on-street bike lanes go away for this stretch. I need to make a call to find out what the story is.
Today was my birthday and Becky had this great basket of plants sent to me at work. How cool is that? I guess she likes me.
Posted by jeffy at 11:02 PM in Photo Log | Comments (0)


Neal Pollack has a piece in the Portland Mercury subtitled Everyone in America--Myself Included--Has Been Driven Insane by This War

What he said. I can't completely hide behind that as an excuse for my less than stellar behavior over the last few weeks, but for damn sure it is a factor.

Found via the uniformly excellent Electrolite, and the comment thread attached to the Electrolite post is (as is often the case), even more interesting and valuable than the article itself. Go read it.

Posted by jeffy at 02:05 PM in Bloggage | Comments (1)

April 06, 2003

"Pride and extreme prejudice"

This one is just for Rachel. Some loony people (including SF author Brenda W. Clough (whose name I still have no idea how to pronounce)) have somehow begun writing The Terminator in the style of Jane Austen ala Pride and Prejudice over on rec.arts.sf.written

A sample:

"Well, Mr. Terminus, I am all attention." Mr. Connor said.

The tall and handsomely dressed figure of Mr. Terminus stood a moment with an expression of resolution upon his features, as does a man contemplating a plunge from a precipice, or perhaps a proposal of marriage (the two carrying nearly equal terror to most). Then he began to relate the most astonishing tale Patience had ever heard.

"As you know, Miss Patience," he began, "I am, to a great degree, a machine; my exterior, and some portions of my interior, are made as are those of Mr. Connor and yourself, but the greater part is metal and other materials, some of which you would recognize, and others of which you and even the wise men of your universities would know nothing at all.

"Now, I have in a sense misled you, for I have not denied the assumption that I come from some distant land; in a sense, this assumption is true, but the distance is not that of space, but of time."

Patience blinked at that. "Now, Mr. Terminus, there is but one way that one crosses time."

(via Boing Boing)

Posted by jeffy at 11:59 PM in Bloggage | Comments (0)

Daylight driving

We drove over to the tri-cities (which in this part of the country means Richland-Pasco-Kennewick, but probably means something completely different elsewhere) to see Rachel on Friday night. Had a fine time mostly eating and watching movies with a brief interlude of gardening. We took a few snaps on the drive back along highways 82 and 97 and 90.

Posted by jeffy at 11:34 PM in Photo Log | Comments (0)

April 03, 2003

Ma femme est une actrice

Last night we watched Ma femme est une actrice (My wife is an actress), a cute little self-referential French romantic comedy.

Yvan is sports writer who never seems to actually work (played by Yvan Attal who wrote and directed the film). Yvan is married to, yes, an actress who is known throughout the film simply as Charlotte (played by Charlotte Gainsbourg, Attal's real-life spouse, and a well-known French actress.) There's also an understated performance by Terence Stamp as Charlotte's leading man in the film within the film.

The film circles around the issues Yvan has with Charlotte's life in the cinema. It's funny and sweet. Sort of a cross between Nora Ephron, writer of When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless In Seattle, and Nick Hornby who wrote the novels that were turned into the movies High Fidelity and About A Boy. (Hornby also wrote the book Fever Pitch (also a film) about a rabid fan of Arsenal, a football team. In the deleted scenes on the DVD of Ma femme..., there is a very long scene of Attal riding around in a London taxi. At one point he's making small talk with the driver who mentions being a fan of Arsenal. We wouldn't have had a clue what he was talking about had we not seen Fever Pitch.)

The DVD features are basic. A bunch of trailers (which is actually kind of unusual on DVDs for some reason. I personally like having a bunch of trailers on the disk. Always looking for more movies to watch, don't you know.), a short not-very-informative making-of featurette, a few (rightly) deleted scenes (outtakes, really), and a director's commentary (which we didn't screen).

Verdict: 2-1/2 stars (out of 4)

Posted by jeffy at 09:55 PM in Movie Reviews | Comments (0)

Feed by M. T. Anderson

I picked up Anderson's Feed at the recommendation of my friendly local young-adult librarian (Hi Mike!) It's told from the point of view of a teenaged boy named Titus growing up in a future USA (though the book opens with an extremely Heinleinian spring-break trip to the moon.) It's one of those SF books that takes a current societal trend and postulates that the trend continues unabated for a long long time, then uses the resulting dystopia to make comments about the current state of the real world. The trend to which Anderson is applying this recipe is that of ubiquitous product marketing. The "feed" of the title is a direct connection to the future information service that looks an awful lot like the AOL portal. You can get information and entertainment over your feed and you can do work over your feed, but mostly what comes over is advertising specially tailored to your personal consuming habits.

Now I'm no disciple of the Capitalist religion, but I had a hard time wading through all the message to get to a story that's really pretty thin. Titus meets Violet, a girl who got her feed late. Soon after he meets her she finds out that her feed is starting to malfunction and will eventually kill her. (the malfunctions are brought on by an incident on the moon where a member of a dissident organization hacks their feeds, but this potential subplot never goes anywhere.) To his credit, there's no tidy solution to the problems of his world inside the bounds of the book, but the world is so implausible to me that I had a hard time even finishing the book to determine that. Better to go re-read Janet Tashjian's The Gospel According To Larry for some of the same message without so much hyperbole.

Posted by jeffy at 09:07 PM in Book Reviews | Comments (2)


I have a friend who thinks highly of the Enneagram's ability to identify personality traits. I've never been able to completely grok the system. I have less trouble understanding the Keirsey Temperament Sorter which files me reliably in the INTP basket.

Anyway, here's the results from an online Enneagram test:

Conscious self
Overall self
Take Free Enneagram Test

This makes it look like I'm strongly aligned with that type, but the description is kind of hit-or-miss ("You are extroverted and you prefer talking to listening"?! I don't think so.) One of the diagrams in the test results shows my scores just the tiniest bit outside of a central region that I take to mean "could be anything".

Posted by jeffy at 05:48 PM in Bloggage | Comments (0)

April 02, 2003

Springtime critters

These first two shots were taken at downtown Issaquah's sheep pasture. It's easy to not know these sheep are even here, but their field is nestled in between Interstate 90 and Gilman Blvd. If you know the area, it's just West of Pogacha behind the antique store. In the first picture you can see two adult sheep. The second shows a mama with her two little black lambs (not that you could tell that's what that black smudge next to her is if I didn't tell you so)

This shot is in the parking lot at work where a couple of Canada geese were hanging out in a couple of puny little puddles. Lots of nice chemical-laden grass for them to graze on nearby, so I guess that tells you something about a Canada goose's priorities.

Posted by jeffy at 10:40 PM in Photo Log | Comments (0)

Picture me agog

You might get a hint about what it is from the thumbnail at left which will make you more prepared than I was to view this piece of mind boggling kitsch.

(via Making Light)

Posted by jeffy at 01:42 PM in Bloggage | Comments (0)

April 01, 2003

Sign of spring

This is the blossom of what I believe is a "Star Magnolia". It's just a little bush in our yard, but there's one a few blocks away that is full-fledged tree size. This is one of my favorite spring flowers.

Posted by jeffy at 10:29 PM in Photo Log | Comments (0)

Nit pickery

Will Shetterly posted a quote from Ben Franklin yesterday:

Ben Franklin told John Paul Jones, "Hereafter, if you should observe an occasion to give your officers and friends a little more praise than is their due, and confess more fault than you can justly be charged with, you will only become the sooner for it a great captain. Criticizing and censuring almost every one you have to do with, will diminish friends, increase enemies, and thereby hurt your affairs."

And I need to keep reading that over to myself.

Brief aside:
We recently saw one of John Cleese's (of Monty Python fame) Training Videos which was all about the importance of managers giving praise to their reports. This quote summarizes the message of that video quite well.
End aside.

I was always frustrated in school when I'd get a paper back with a grade marked on it but without any guidance about what specifically was wrong, and what specifically could be improved.

I've tried to combine that frustration with the golden rule, and always let people know when I see something amiss with their work. I've become notorious with one member of my group at work for always having some little comment or change request whenever he shows me a prototype or draft. But it's not just him, I do it with everyone.

I have to stop myself from firing off email to a webmaster when I notice a typo on their site. (this is one of the reasons I love Wikis) I mark typos in books I'm reading. When I'm doing user support at work I point out when I see people doing things in sub-optimal ways.

I'm afraid that rather than seeing these actions as a sincere desire to see entropy fail, people just think I'm an annoying nitpicking twit.

I suppose both could be true.

Anyway, multiple points here:

  1. I probably need to sprinkle praise more widely so that my criticism is seen as coming in the spirit of improvement, not denigration.
  2. If, as you you encounter my presence in the world, whether virtual or actual, you see ways in which I could improve my effect, I'd be delighted to receive your suggestions.
Posted by jeffy at 07:03 PM in Personal Interest | Comments (0)