30 November 2007

last week as i hurried across campus on the day before thanksgiving so i could get home and head up to l.a. with my mom and sister and nieces, i encountered this:

i glanced at it as i approached and then continued on my way before stopping to think about what it meant. and then it made me laugh so hard that i went back and took a picture of it. and sincerely hoped that whoever created this masterpiece of signage did it intentionally.

alas, the boring did not occur. nor did the occurring bore. because today looked like this:so no caution necessary. except to avoid puddles and streams while walking across campus. i do love a rainy day.

14 November 2007

more simple (and small) things that make me happy:
  • discovering that when my 2-year-old niece B plays wii and sees my mii, she repeats my name: 'amy, amy'
  • waking up smiling
  • long meandering conversations with a friend
  • my nieces wearing the hats and scarves i made them for christmas (in july)
  • walking into my favorite thai restaurant on a busy saturday night and being greeted as a friend by all the servers i know
  • knowing that saturday will bring family for a week-long thanksgiving visit--yay!
  • 'lively discussions' and 'fun exchanges'
  • fall in california--it feels a lot like summer, but it's different in little subtle ways
  • the anticipation of pumpkin pie and homemade rolls
  • having B tell me all about her snack and playing wii and her halloween costume on the phone; hearing her say 'i love you'
  • dates that involve wandering through bookstores
  • squeezing snapdragons so they snap
to be continued...

09 November 2007

every morning i wake up to NPR. which means that every morning i get a dose of politics. did the clinton campaign leave a tip or not? what shall we do about the alternative minimum tax? what will happen in pakistan? and is bhutto in cahoots with musharraf? i like being well-informed. but i have to say, it can be disheartening. there's not a day that goes by that i'm not frustrated with the state of american politics.

perhaps the biggest problem we have in our politics right now is that members of both sides of the political spectrum engage not with each other (liberals engaging with conservatives; republicans engaging with democrats) but rather with stereotypes of each other. rhetorically flamboyant engagements with straw men of the opposing political persuasion tend to sell better—both on the evening news and at the ballot box—than actual conversation and interaction. i listen to the “debate”--whether presidential or issue-driven--and recognize again that our politicians do not actually talk to each other; they talk, through soundbites, to their perceptions of their constituents (they don’t even actually talk to their constituents; only to what their advisers tell them their constituents are like). and i am frustrated. because no policy, either domestic or foreign, will succeed in furthering liberty and equality when those policies are designed to woo voters rather than to address problems, whether the policy has to do with health care or tax law or waging a war (and i think this is true of the fighting the war as much as it is of the protesting the war).

anyway. i’m pretty disgusted with american politics on both sides of the spectrum. my personal convictions line up with the liberal side of the spectrum on certain issues and the conservative side on others and the libertarian side on still others. i try to vote for candidates and measures that seem in best keeping with my convictions. it’s all i can do. well that and ending my day with a healthy dose of satire. thank you john stewart (and may the labor gods resolve the current WGA strike; if i have to survive much of the current presidential campaign without the release valve of political satire, i may just go bonkers).

06 November 2007

i think it's time to reinstate posts about recent discoveries. because there have been so many good ones lately. i'd list a bunch of the stuff i discovered in the bay area when i was up there, but i've already done that. so instead, this edition is dedicated to

  • the darjeeling limited. which i've actually seen twice now. an absolutely stunning film visually, full of vibrant colors and gorgeously shot. and funny. in many ways it's more understated than wes anderson's other movies. but that simply underscores its humor. it also draws attention to its realism, in spite of the absurdity of so much of its content. and, in true wes anderson style, it juxtaposes life and death, exuberance and tragedy, beautifully. and then there's the fact that i have crushes on both owen wilson and adrien brody. and who knew that adrien brody could be funny?
  • dan in real life. i love steve carrell, so that was all the incentive i needed to see this. and juliette binoche? she's wonderful. it was entertaining. not a great film. it's a romantic comedy and it has the problems so many romantic comedies have (implausible premises; too-fast falling in love). but it made me laugh. and that's really all i ask of my romantic comedies. that and a romance that makes me want to fall in love.
  • the jane austen book club. another romantic comedy, this time for austen-lovers. i read the book a few years ago and enjoyed it (though it's entirely entertainment reading; nothing serious--not even as serious as bridget jones's diary). the film was about the same--mostly fun, even if it lagged at moments. i do think it failed to translate some of the austen parallels the book made, which is too bad. but if you're an austen fan, it's worth seeing.
  • lars and the real girl. saw this one last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. lars is delusional and his family and friends go out of their way to turn his delusion into reality in an effort to help him. it had so much potential to become simply absurd, but the quality of the acting and the matter-of-fact presentation instead made it heartwarmingly funny. if you get a chance, see it; and don't read a plot summary before you do. just go. let yourself be surprised.
non-film. just because these two are too good not to list.
  • tamarind. which i ate for the first time today at thai nakorn. they served it up slightly sweetened, slightly salted, and spiced with chili powder of some sort. it was delicious.
  • public displays. as in public displays of affection. after the movie. who would have thought people made out under bright lights in the middle of a parking lot? i must admit that, given how chilly it was last night, it would be a good way to stay warm. and there's something a bit romantic about kissing out in the open...

05 November 2007

on the weekend, i asked a friend what his top five movies were. to which he responded first by groaning and then by pulling out his trio on which he has a list of 'top ten' movies (as well as a few other 'top ten' lists; in quotes because most of his lists exceeded ten). i found the idea of making 'top ten' lists, preserving them, and carrying them around amusing. and appealing. because i've found myself in that grasping-to-come-up-with-a-list of movies (books, museums, restaurants, or whatever other object you'd like) position more often than not. because the lists fluctuate--there's always more than five or ten; the ones i would include on my list shift based on any number of variables; and then there's the deer-in-the-headlights freeze that happens when i'm put on the spot to name my favorites, which happened later that night when my friend turned the question around on me. i think i could only name four favorite movies.

so i decided i'd do a series of 'top ten' lists on the blog. of various and sundry things, not just the usual suspects. but i think i'll start with one of the usual suspects. movies. of the 'serious' variety sometime in the future i'll post a list of the 'guilty pleasure' variety. not that the 'serious' ones have to be serious in content; just that they're what i would consider substantial in some way, rather than fluffy. with no further ado:

top ten(ish) 'serious' movies (or should i call them films?):

a room with a view: period piece, romance, and hilarious nudity. that's right, hilarious nudity.

13 conversations about one thing: a compelling look at the random intersections of lives, with one of the most life-affirming moments i've seen on film.

the sweet hereafter: stunning. a searing look at tragedy, grief, and anger.

little miss sunshine: i laughed so hard in the theater that i cried, which almost never happens. and a wonderful critique of the beauty culture.

lost in translation: beautiful. and bill murray was shafted when he didn't win the academy award for best actor.

on the waterfront: the film that convinced me marlon brando is a great actor. 50's hollywood at its best.

pride & prejudice: maybe this should go on the guilty pleasure list, because i'm in love with darcy. but it's so very well done. and austen's novel is such an insightful look at human relationships. so 'serious' it is.

the royal tenenbaums: darkly hilarious. my first exposure to wes anderson.

in the company of men: dating games turned destructive. and in showing how destructive they are in extreme settings, it also shows their innate deceptiveness.

being there: i like to watch. don't miss it.

in the mood for love: visually gorgeous. i think it actually captures what love looks like. literally.

amadeus: such a wonderful film. a thoroughly entertaining examination of genius and desire.