I suggested this very thing to some friends just a few days ago. I'm happy to see that (as usual) the web is way ahead of me.
It's a T-shirt that has the phrase "I'm sorry my president's an idiot. I didn't vote for him." in all of the official UN languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Spanish, and Russian. strange list...)
Probably useful regardless of the current administration, though I'm sure it was the current one that inspired it.
(via Making Light)
The Federal Election Commission has a reasonably readable guide to the rules surrounding contributions in federal election campaigns. Should you wish to get involved in the electoral processes in this way...
It is appalling how much emphasis is placed on the fundraising acumen of our political candidates, but it's also a fact of life in our current system as much as the pointlessness of third-party candidates in federal elections is.
I don't like it, but I either have to work within the system to change the system or start planning the next revolution. For now, I think the system can still be changed.
Some rings that together contain the identities of all the witness relocation program clients are stolen by some baddies and the Angels have to get them back. (Why didn't the baddies make a copy of the data as soon as they got the goods, you ask? Hush.) There's eye candy for boy watchers and girl watchers, things blow up, really dumb jokes are made, evil plots are foiled. What's not to like?
The opening sequence alone was enough to make me grin uncontrollably as director McG and his team demonstrated that there is no longer any stunt sequence that can be conceived which cannot be filmed so as to appear real. Excellent summer entertainment.
I seem to always go to Pixar films expecting to be entertained, and then being, instead, completely transported. They're good at this stuff. Nemo is a young clown fish with a single father, Marlin, played wonderfully by Albert Brooks. Marlin is extremely risk-averse following the loss of his wife and their other children (an event depicted in a pretty scary scene in the first few minutes of the film). When Nemo is captured by a diver, his father embarks on a pell-mell quest to bring him home. Early on in his voyage, he encounters Dory, a fish with short-term memory loss (think Memento) and unquenchable optimism voiced by Ellen Degeneres who provides most of the comic relief in the movie.
It was interesting how subtle the environmental messages of the film were. Subtle enough that you might not even notice them. And that's only proper for this film. The characters are almost all fish, but the movie isn't about fish, it's about risk and courage and perseverance.
My therapist strongly recommended this film though it wasn't clear whether it was because he thought I could learn something from it or just because it's a good movie. I suspect the latter because I don't have anything in common with Marlin the risk-averse clown fish. Nope, not a thing. Not even a little bit like him. Not me. Nope.
|Starring Susan Sarandon, Dustin Hoffman, and Jake Gyllenhaal, this is one of those hyper emotional movies that let actors strut their stuff. Gyllenhaal plays a young man living with the parents of his fiance who was shot and killed pretty much at random. Hoffman and Sarandon, the parents, consider Gyllenhaal their son-in-law to the point that he's offered a position in Hoffman's commercial real estate business. What they don't know is that Gyllenhaal and their daughter had broken off their engagement and hadn't figured out how to tell the parents before she was killed. This sets the stage for some fine performances and, believe it or not, some pretty funny moments as everyone works through some difficult transitions.|
|This is at the same spot as LG#1 and LG#2. Hereafter, this location will be known as the Bridge of Lost Gloves.|
Another one from Hugo Weaving's history, in this one he plays a randy gay London real estate agent. He's a relatively minor character, but the movie is worth watching in its own right. It has the feel of one of those great ensemble set-in-the-UK comedies like Four Weddings and a Funeral or Notting Hill with the only difference being that the romance in this one isn't so heterosexual-centric. The movie is directed by Rose Troche who did the indy lesbian comedy Go Fish. In this one the main character is a gay man who gets involved in a late-eighties-style Sam Keen/Robert Bly men's group and falls in love with one of the members. It's a sweet funny movie.
Verdict: 2-1/2 stars (out of 4)
|Subtitled "Three Portraits", this film is actually three separate short stories, each portraying a woman in transition. Kyra Sedgwick plays Delia, a woman in an abusive marriage. Parker Posey plays Greta, an editor set to achieve her ambitions. Fairuza Balk is a directionless young woman who experiences a clarifying event. Each actress thrives with this meaty material giving performances that make these characters real and tragic and inspiring, each in their own way.|
Verdict: 3 stars (out of 4)
I keep a close eye out for new books by a short list of writers of whom Mr. Shetterly is one, and yet I didn't know this one existed until he mentioned it in passing on his blog and sent me scrambling to google and then to the library. Thor's Hammer is the fourth volume in a series entitled Voyage of the Basset in which a ship crewed by dwarves and gremlins pick up the protagonists of the book and take them to a land of myth where stuff happens and then they go home. At least I assume that's the pattern for all the books since it's the pattern of this one.
The crew of the Basset is seeking a hero to go to Asgard and help avert the war to end time. What they find (in San Francisco of 1876) are three young boys, one Irish, one Black, one Chinese, and a dog. The crew aren't sure which one of them is their hero so they take them all. The boys are in the midst of a fight stemming from their ignorance of each other's culture when they are shanghaied and in the course of the book they become friends.
I liked it. It was a fun read. The first half of the book is all character building and getting the boys into position to be picked up by the Basset, and that was my favorite part of the book. Shetterly does a great job of showing some of the hazards of life for kids at that time in history, and I would have happily read a whole book just concentrating on these characters in their real lives with their real problems. In contrast, the myth section of the book feels over-plotted, almost like a game where various tasks are performed punctuated by expository lumps about the Norse gods' history, and culminating in the inevitable tidy resolution. The last chapter is a mere three pages long and, in just a few sentences, brings the boys back to San Francisco and resolves all the problems they were facing when they left. A little rushed.
I liked his Thor too. He reminded me very much of the Thor in Gaiman's Sandman books, though I seem to recall Gaiman's having a crueler edge than Shetterly's.
I'm having a hard time putting words to screen about this book. When I read Delany, I always feel as if I am brushing the mere fringes of what is there in his writing. And yet he is such a skilled craftsman that his books can be read and enjoyed immensely without dipping into the murkier depths. But the depths are always there just under the surface crust of plot and character. I recount this impression of his work mostly as a contrast since 1984 has a completely different feel.
The book is a collection of letters Delany wrote to various of his friends between June of 1983 and January of 1985. At the time, he was living in New York City. He was operating under severe tax debts. He was finishing his novels Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, and Return to Nevčr˙on (The Bridge of Lost Desire). AIDS was moving into the public consciousness. He was writing on his brand new KayPro CP/M computer.
His letters discuss all of these topics as well as more personal and more academic ones. There are accounts of dinner parties and discourses on semiotics. His correspondents vary from science fiction writers to an imprisoned street hustler to English professors.
The overall effect is an intricate portrait of a year in a writer's life, and through that life, a portrait of the city and culture in which he lived. For me the book went very quickly. The casual style of his personal letters welcomes the quick read that I always feel guilty for giving his novels. The feel of the book is really very blog-like, and I think it's part of the reason I've done so little blogging since finishing it (this review is dated 6/16 when I finished the book, but I'm writing it over a week later on 6/25, all the other entries in this timespan were written after this one despite their publication dates) my brain was full.
I don't think I'd recommend this as an introduction to Delany, but for anyone who's read his other work, it provides illumination of the man and his books.
I bought the book directly from Voyant Publishing. The cover image at left links to their page about the book which includes excerpts, a bibliography, and a bunch of other ephemera.
I have to share an excerpt of my own because it's so funny:
Anyway, when Nevčr˙on (the series) is finally done (in a week? two weeks? three?), I refuse to take more than six months to write the second volume of Stars (Bodies/Cities)--at least the first draft.
The Splendor and Misery of Bodies, of Cities still hasn't been written nearly 20 years later.
This thing is over three hours long which is more time than I can generally spend concentrating on a movie. I watched it in 2 or three sittings, and with the scattered plotting, that worked okay. This is the movie version of Otomo's epic manga that I finished a couple of months ago. They made major changes to the story to fit it into three hours. But enough about the plot which isn't what this thing is about. What it's about is killer visuals, and they are here. The animation and artwork are beautiful. And when you dip into the huge volume of extra stuff on the DVD and find out that this movie is all hand drawn, your brain explodes with trying to imagine the amount of effort that went into this thing. The music is pretty cool too.
Verdict: 2 stars (out of 4)
This is so embarassing! Our home pc, got infected with a virus. Actually it's a worm, but whatever. It's called W32.Bugbear.B@mm.
It seems to have forwarded an old email of mine to a bunch of places yesterday afternoon with itself attached. :-(
So if you got an email from me on Saturday with a subject of "sites to check out" and an attachment called "bfc_application_1.pdf.scr", don't open it! (This is the one I know about, but it's possible it had sent other stuff. I haven't sent anyone an email with an attachment intentionally, so check with me if you got a strange email. Same goes for mail from Becky.)
If it's already too late, the thing is easy to kill. There's a little application to remove it at Symantec's site here.
The symptoms we were seeing were that Norton Anti-virus would disappear when we ran it. It also kept our system from shutting down completely. It'd stop with just a blinking white cursor on a black screen.
This is the first time we've had a virus infection in all the years we've been messing about with computers. I know just how I got infected, and I'm not going to tell you because it's just too embarassingly stupid.
|We went to see Book-It!'s adaptation of Anne Tyler's Breathing Lessons on Friday night and had dinner beforehand at the Turntable restaurant inside the EMP. These shots were all taken up towards the ceiling from our table in the restaurant except the last one, obviously, which is looking at the back side of the building past the Seattle Center carnival rides.|
A little bit more about our trip to Lopez.
|We took the Washington state ferry Sealth from Anacortes to Lopez.|
|We drove all around the island just to see what was what. Here's a few shots from Agate Beach down at the South end.|
|Saw this caterpillar on the railing of the deck at the cabin.|
|At the ferry terminal waiting to leave Lopez, we saw this busy little sign assemblage|
That's pretty much all the pictures I took.
It would have been easy for this film to step over the line from homage into parody, but Todd Haynes and his production designers and cinematographer managed to maintain the tone of flawed innocence intact. Set in 1950s Connecticut, the film tells the story of an outwardly "perfect" family whose private life is fatally flawed. Julianne Moore plays the model housewife, Dennis Quaid her advertising executive husband. They each fail to fit with the 50's behavioral ideal in their inmost selves.
The film is shot in the style of the 1950s melodramas of Douglas Sirk and it's great fun to look at for its deep saturated colors and contrasts and for the creative shooting angles used (I suspect) partly to communicate tone, but partly also to exclude anachronistic scenery.
Nothing particularly exciting on the DVD (it has a making-of, anatomy of a scene, director commentary, etc. etc.)
Verdict: 3 stars (out of 4)
Then I found another cube made from 12 business cards which was quite a bit harder (getting all the 12 identical pieces put together without the whole thing exploding back to its component pieces was a challenge) (on the left)
An escheresque sculpture of 5 interlocking tetrahedra inscribed within a regular dodecahedron will have to wait for another day, but it's extremely cool.
|This little guy (about a foot long) was soaking up the warmth in the middle of the road under I-90. He wouldn't hold still enough for me to get a macro shot, and I barely caught this shot as he made a dash (doesn't seem like quite the right word) for the verge. I've been told that there are no poisonous snakes in Western Washington, and as I've only ever seen garter snakes (like this one) here, I've no reason to disbelieve.|
|Weird how much of my lost stuff is from this little stretch of NW Sammamish Road.
Today, a book. Torn in two pieces. The first on the left. Two views of the second on the right.
Usually with lost things, I don't disturb them, but in this case, I collected the book bits and added them to our recycle bin.
It appears to have been a FedEx driver's rate reference before it was torn asunder.
Steve and Hazel and Rosalind gave me this for my birthday so I knew it would be good. And it is. Kit Watson, aged thirteen, moves with his family back to the coal mining town where his grandfather's family had lived for generations. The mines have been shut down, but the culture of the town is still shaped by them. I can't give away too many details without treading into spoiler territory, but the book centers around Kit's experience both making friends and connecting with his family's history in the town. Kit himself is a writer, and some of the book is one of the stories he writes. It's a lovely multi-faceted gem of a book with interconnections of family and place across a scale of centuries.