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Sat, Aug. 18th, 2012, 01:35 am

And in the category of Thoughts I Want To Share But Not On Facebook: I really like the Sex and the City episode where Miranda almost has an abortion. And, I mean, not in the same way I like any really Very Special Episode. I really think SATC did a good job with it.

Thu, Mar. 8th, 2012, 03:52 pm

I have finally, much later than I should have, switched my LJ-notifying e-mail address from AOL to Gmail. So now I should actually see notices of replies or comments in a somewhat timely manner, for what it's worth. (And I'll probably go from checking my AOL e-mail address about once every two weeks to once every six months.)

Sun, Feb. 26th, 2012, 07:39 pm

At 6:36 PM tonight, I finally completed the task of watching all nine of this year's Best Picture nominees, with just under two hours before the ceremony.

I think it says a lot about this year's nominees (and, honestly, the film of 2011 in general) that there were so many nominees I had to force myself to watch just for the sake of having watched them. I mean, this morning I happened to glance at last year's Best Picture nominees, and WOW, it's such a different vibe. Black Swan, True Grit, Inception, Toy Story 3, not even mentioning The King's Speech and The Social Network (which should have won)...

Really, I have to admit, it's hard for me to feel really enthusiastic about awarding ANY of this year's nominees, even the ones I liked, the title of Best Picture. Regardless of whether they're technically the best picture of the year, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, here are my thoughts on each, from favorite to least.

The Artist (watched in theatre): I did really like this movie very very much. It was so lovely, and charming, and wrenching, and just very enjoyable. But, and maybe this is just me, I still have reservations about it being named the Best Picture of 2011, not because it's not the best, but because... as someone put it in Entertainment Weekly, I don't think it captures the state of film in 2011. It's a novelty, if I can say that without any connotation that it's not also a very good movie.

Moneyball (watched in theatre): Very fun, entertaining, well-made, and features Chris Pratt as a bonus. Brad Pitt was very good in a less flashy role, and I especially liked that his character was not the textbook deadbeat dad that you would expect. This is maybe the movie I would most like to see win, if I were to give into my reservations about The Artist. But I DEFINITELY would like to see The Artist win Best Director.

The Descendants (watched on TV last night with James): A good, solid movie. I don't have much else to say about it. Although it's true that Shailene Woodley is very good in it. I wonder what else she'll do in her career.

Hugo (watched in theatre, but in full disclosure, perhaps I should mention I had an extremely bothersome upset stomach through most of it which was rather distracting): I liked it. I didn't love it. It was very enjoyable and the 3-D was excellent. I wonder if I would have loved it if I hadn't read the book, and I didn't know the story. This movie probably most embodies the "It was good, but Best Picture? Ehhhhh..." spirit I'm feeling about this year's awards in general.

The Help (watched in theatre): It was pretty good. It was very faithful to the book, and it wasn't as good as the book. As a film, I was pretty satisfied with it, but I certainly didn't find it to be extraordinary.

Midnight in Paris (watched on TV with James last week): This was a big disappointment, honestly, relative to my expectations. I knew almost nothing about the storyline in advance, but I knew a lot of people liked this movie very much. And it wasn't bad, but it was so slight while not being all that funny, at least to me. Through a lot of it, especially when he was first hanging out with all the historical characters, I kept thinking that it felt just like that South Park episode where Cartman has to write a report about the founding fathers so he purposely electrocutes himself to engineer a sitcom-style flashback where he goes back in time and just happens to end up in the same room with all the founding fathers right as they're preparing to sign the Declaration of Independence! I did start enjoying MIP a lot more when it became less about the famous people and more about the Marion Cotillard (is that right?) character. And I liked the scenes set in the present day.

The Tree of Life (watched 2/3 on TV on Friday night by myself, and finished the last 1/3 this evening): Oh, gee. This movie. I went in knowing that my parents, especially my dad, hated it, and also that there would be dinosaurs so until the dinosaurs showed up I was really just waiting for the dinosaurs. I did not hate this movie, but I can certainly understand why others would. I think I benefited a lot from watching it on TV instead of in theatres, and being able to take a break, and also knowing how long it was because if I were watching it in a theatre I know it would have dragged interminably and I probably would have wanted to shoot myself. I liked a lot of things about it; in general, I liked the parts with the family and the children and these slices of their life and the sense that the story of a life is told through the parts where nobody is paying attention. I think I might have loved a movie made of just those parts of this movie. The more abstract parts were sometimes dull, but often beautiful and engaging to watch. I had a LOT more patience for the abstract stuff at the beginning of the movie than at the end. I thought it was interesting that Brad Pitt played two very different father characters in 2011 that each could have been a simple stereotype in a worse film. Oh, and Jessica Chastain is perfect.

War Horse (watched on my Touchpad, in chunks): Ugh. Not a terrible movie, but pretty damn blah. Everything until they get to the war was a total slog to get through. I HATED the kid at the center of the movie; he's so whiny and annoying. It got somewhat better when the war started, but it was still pretty lame (no pun intended). A B- at best. If this were to win Best Picture... I think I'd just explode, I'd be so disgusted. This is why nobody thinks the Oscars are relevant.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (watched on my Touchpad, in chunks, mostly on the treadmill): Double-ugh. A lot like War Horse, this was such a drag, especially at the beginning, but it did get somewhat better later on (but the uptick in quality of WH was much more significant). Also like WH, it features an insufferable child, but unlike WH, the insufferable child stays at the center of things for the whole movie. Plus you get the fun of this obsessive, repetitive scrutiny of the most painful details of the WTC collapse. It's just terrible. I will say that Max von Sydow was pretty good and did a lot to help the tolerability of the later parts of the film.

I actually think this year's rules for nominations, that each film has to get at least 5% of first-place votes, sounds pretty good to me. I'm kinda flummoxed that this is what we ended up with, though.

Bridesmaids should have been nominated. (If it had, it would be at least #2 on this list.)

Tue, Feb. 7th, 2012, 11:54 am

I don't find it THAT weird that Amity Shlaes managed to become a senior fellow in economic history at the Council on Foreign Relations despite having absolutely no idea what the carrot-and-stick metaphor is about; I think How I Met Your Mother's episode about "knowledge gaps" does a pretty good job justifying such an occurrence.

I DO find it weird that apparently nobody else at Marketplace noticed that this piece didn't make any sense until after it had aired. I mean, it's not just that she has the metaphor wrong, it's that she doesn't even seem to understand what SHE thinks the metaphor means, making the whole thing very confusing. Particularly this part: "The president figures that businesses will tolerate the pain of the sticks for the reward of the carrots. He thinks if he pokes the stick in one corner, they'll hop over to the corner where the carrots are." These two adjoining sentences are describing totally different things.

Marketplace is a pretty good show but they seem to exercise very little discretion toward the commentaries they air. Guys, it's not censorship for a producer to decline to air a commentary that doesn't make a lick of sense, or that doesn't say anything worth listening to, like the one I linked on Facebook awhile back that was essentially "Hey, let me vaguely summarize some of the depressing and dysfunctional things going on, that every single human being listening to this is already well aware of, without adding any interesting opinions or observations of my own."

(Carrot-and-stick refers to dangling a carrot on a stick in front of a donkey, so the donkey will move forward toward the carrot, but will never actually get any closer to it. And yes, I know Marketplace did run a correction; the correction is how I heard of the story in the first place and I was compelled to look up the original. And it was worse than I had expected.)

Thu, Jan. 12th, 2012, 05:27 pm

I already posted about this on Facebook, but: someone sent me season 3 of Parks & Recreation from Amazon, and I'm not sure who, because it arrived in a bubble mailer with absolutely nothing else inside. (But the return address said Amazon.) I was thrilled to receive it and I'd love to thank the sender, and honestly I bet I do know who sent it, but I can't say anything in case it wasn't them! So if it was you, feel free to let me know, and in any case, thank you very much!

Mon, Jan. 9th, 2012, 04:40 pm

The holidays are pretty much over. (Although my naked tree is still in our living room because they haven't even announced yet when they'll be picking up our trees! I even called today to make sure we hadn't just missed it, but it's not even scheduled yet! Isn't that weird?)

Anyway, they were good holidays. I'm sorry they're gone. But they were very busy, too.

One thing I have to observe is that I got a lot of really good presents this year, from a lot of people, some of whom will presumably be reading this. And I appreciate them all very much!

But... I'm only going to write about one present here, and I hope that won't offend anyone. I think you'll understand :)

My first clue about this gift came a few weeks before Christmas, when James told me that I should stop adding things to my Amazon Wish List that he'd been planning to give me for months! (It turned out that he was talking about this.) But he also said there was at least one thing he was planning to give me that I couldn't put on my Wish List, because it wasn't on Amazon. Hmm.

A week or so later, I got a little nervous because I wondered if he might have been planning to give me tickets to a hockey game, since I'd mentioned I'd like to go to one sometime. That would be great, except that was one of the things I was planning to give HIM. So I asked him if the thing he was planning to give me could possibly be something that I could conceivably be planning to give him as well, and with complete confidence, he said nope. I asked if he was sure, and he said, "Trust me. You have no idea."

I think it was shortly after that conversation that he asked if I owned a glue gun, and if he could borrow it. I do own one, in fact (that I hadn't used probably since I made a foamboard model of a cotton gin in sixth grade), and I told him he was welcome to it. Around this time he started spending lots of time in this office, with the door closed, and telling me not to look when he came in or out. At some point he asked me if I had any construction paper (and I did, thanks to my scrapbooking days; I dug it out and he said, "Thanks, this is perfect!").

And that was the last clue I got. So it was driving me pretty nuts, trying to imagine what he could possibly be doing in there. Suffice it to say that my thoughts NEVER came close to reality.

On Christmas morning, after all our other presents were open, he told me to close my eyes while he ran downstairs, because he had something else for me that he couldn't wrap, and I "should see it all at once, anyway." With closed eyes and quaking heart, I sat on the couch and felt him slip something into my hands. I opened my eyes.

He made me a Fusilli Sarah.Collapse )

Thu, Dec. 22nd, 2011, 02:55 pm


Yeah, I have no fucking idea what holiday these people might be celebrating.

(Admittedly, I should link to the Fox News idiocy instead of the WashPost response to it, but I just don't want to read the Fox crap. So it's possible the original complaint was not really as stupid as the WashPost implies. It's also possible that Santa Claus is a Herman Cain supporter.)

Fri, Dec. 16th, 2011, 11:49 am

I saw a few minutes of Space Chimps on TV this morning. WOW is the animation in that movie terrible. Like a first-year student's unfinished class project.

Mon, Nov. 14th, 2011, 04:33 pm

WHY, WHY, WHY is it that when news sites print numbers consisting of a numeral and a fraction, they never include a space between them (but they do include spaces around the line in the fraction) with the result that one-and-a-half will always appear as "11 / 2"? (edit: Here's an example, in the second letter.) This drives me absolutely nuts because it seems to me that anybody looking at this should be able to tell that it is VERY BAD AND STUPID AND WRONG and while I'm sure it's some sort of automated thing that makes it appear like this, it should not be impossible to fix so that it appears as "1 1/2" AND YOU CAN ACTUALLY TELL WHAT IT'S SAYING! Yes, technically the numbers in the "half" are smaller, and probably positioned slightly differently, but the difference is not so great that you intuitively realize as you're reading it for the first time that it's gone from a numeral to a fraction. I AM SO TIRED OF READING NEWS STORIES THAT MENTION SOMETHING BEING ELEVEN-HALVES HOURS LONG. (And it also doesn't help when they mean 5 1/2, it gets written as 51 / 2, and THERE'S A FREAKIN' LINE BREAK BETWEEN THE / AND THE 2.)

It's not just me, right? Please say it's not just me. (It's also not just the Washington Post, right? I'm... pretty sure I've seen the same thing in other places. Just checked the NYT article about the Supreme Court hearings and they used "five and a half" which is a completely acceptable solution, but do they always use that style?)

Fri, Nov. 11th, 2011, 11:11 am

11:11 11/11/11!

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