Saturday, March 05, 2011

I am such a geek

Most of you already know this but a few of you may not know the depths to which my geekdom can go.  Someone directed me to this and I practically squealed with delight.  I was saving up for the BrainPort device but since the FDA has turned down it's use in the US and I can't find any research to support its benefits for those with cervical vertigo, I may as well switch gears.  Not sure how many zeros are in a septillion (I'm assuming 7 sets of zeros and I could look it up and pretend I knew it off the top of my head but I should at least confess that my geekdom has its limits) but that won't stop me from getting my plans in place.

Oh wait.  Didn't Nathan Fillion say he needed far less to resurrect Firefly?  I may have to make a choice here.  Death Star?  Firefly?  Death Star?  Firefly?  Invest in Firefly to build revenue for Death Star!  Hot damn!  I'm ready!

Friday, March 04, 2011

Satia Slideshow

Last year I had fun sharing images of things I found online that are called Satia.  Today, exactly one month before my birthday, I stumbled upon this slideshow.


Your pictures and fotos in a slideshow on MySpace, eBay, Facebook or your website!view all pictures of this slideshow

While I don't think any of these actually look anything like me, I can't complain.  I think I would be happy to have most of these things in my home for me to enjoy.

Weekly Quotes Part 9

for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf

We discover that by sharing with each other we find strength to go on (3)

So much of the work I’m doing for the Wellness & Writing Connections organization focuses on how effective writing is in healing.  One of the things I’m discovering is that in sharing stories we are also building community.  It is this facet of the process that I especially find interesting.  Whether in a journal or sharing over a cup of coffee or pouring our words out through tears as we hide our face in another's shoulder, the story we shape becomes something important in the sharing.  How often do we feel alone in a struggle we are facing only to find that, when we are vulnerable to say " I am hurting because . . ." there are others who come forth and say "I am hurting too"?  It is this vulnerability of the self that allows us to connect with one another lovingly and beautifully.

sing the song of her possibilities
sing a righteous gospel
let her be born
let her be born
& handled warmly.  (19)

lady in red
i waz missin somethin

lady in purple
somethin so important

lady in brown
somethin promised

lady in blue
a layin on of hands (84) 



When I remove the different speakers of this part of the performance poem and have only the poetry itself, this part becomes:

i waz missin somethin
somethin so important
somethin promised
a layin on of hands 

Again, the idea of touch, of connection, of community.  So important.  So very important.


i found god in myself
& i loved her/ i loved her fiercely (87)

Anne’s House of Dreams

[N]either of them seemed to entertain much fear, or hope, that their married life would cure them of romance.  (14)

I can write pretty, fanciful little sketches that children love and editors send welcome cheques for.  But I can do nothing big.  (15)

I suppose, like most readers, I can’t help but assume that Anne occasionally speaks for the author much the way I imagine that Jo speaks for Louisa May Alcott in Little Women.  It is sad to think that Montgomery didn’t see her writing for children as something worthy of esteem. I suppose it could just be polite humility but I know enough writers to suspect that this is not the case.

[W]e mortals all shrink from to close contact with God or devil.  (34)

This just made me laugh because it is so true.  We are just as frightened of those who have a touch of greatness about them as we are of those who are hateful and vile.

I reckon the gods laugh many a time to hear us, but what matters so long as we remember that we’re men and don’t take to fancying that we’re god ourselves, really knowing good and evil.  (87)

I found this deliciously ironic because this is so far removed from how many Christians seem to think, labeling one thing a sin and another a virtue, believing without question that they do indeed know the difference between good and evil.  Not that non-Christians are not guilty of this as well and even my suggesting that Christians are “guilty” of this is my giving a label of “evil” to such judging.

Death grows friendlier as we grow older.  (101)

The p’int of good writing is to know when to stop. (144)

Big Girl Small

What good is there in seeing your situation clearly if there’s no escape from it? (8)

[I]f you have the capacity to experience huge, engulfing joy, then you can also feel its equal and opposite level of pain . (15)

I’ve been thinking deeply about equanimity lately and how it relates to emotions.  Jesus, himself, was accused of lacking compassion for not reacting (although he did respond) to the news that Lazarus was dead.  The Buddha suggests that the person who has equanimity is “without ill will.”  Can one experience fully the emotions of life and still maintain an equanimity, neither trying to hold onto the “engulfing joy” nor pushing away the pain that is also a part of life?  There seems to be a direct correlation between acceptance and impermanence with equanimity; that the awareness of acceptance and impermanence would inevitably lead to equanimity.  And this is why, even when I’m reading a novel, I end up thinking entirely too much about things.

Maybe we all eventually become calcified chunks of our own essence.  (23)

His eyes were blue, dark blue, like where the sand bar ends and the water changes into the color of drowning.  (47)

There is nothing philosophical or curious about this quote except that the author manages to take a clichéd image (drowning in someone’s eyes) and rephrase it in such a way as to make it feel new and interesting.  I think it was at this point in the novel that I thought it might be better than I had initially expected.

[B]eing a teenager isn’t gradual, that’s the funny thing.  It happens all of a sudden, and your bedroom can’t quite catch up with you immediately.  (82)

True love isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime event.  (132)

I was just talking about something along these lines with Rob.  There used to be a beer commercial on the radio in which a guy describes a perfect relationship that lasted only 17 minutes, or something like that.  How he sees this stunning woman, buys her a drink, they talk, they laugh, they say good-bye.  And that was his perfect relationship.  Given that all relationships end badly, “true love” (whatever that means) is not a guarantee of happiness nor of ease but simply an emotion manifesting as an experience, sometimes reciprocated, but inevitably ending even if you live long enough to have a “lasting love” because death cannot and will not be denied.

Adults who talk about themselves endlessly in front of young people are unacceptable narcissistic freaks.  They should do the asking.  (154)

The narrator of this novel is a teenager but when I read this I thought, “We should all do the asking.”  I remember once asking someone I chatted with online and had been talking with for years (approximately five or six at the time), “What are my children’s names?”  I had noticed a tendency in this person to focus on his life and experience.  I often felt exhausted and drained after our talks or chats and I eventually realized that we rarely talked about me or any of my experiences.  So when I asked him this question, it was a test of sorts.  He failed but it highlighted to me the importance of being present, of also being balanced.  There are times, of course, when we reach out to one another in pain and grief but we need to bear in mind that sharing our joys is just as essential and being there when the other person is suffering is also important.  Relationships are mutual, within the ebb and flow of life, and when we give generously we should receive generously.  Asking is an expression of presence.  Asking a question says, “I am here.  I am listening.  I care.”

Being alone can make you lose track of what’s real and what’s not.  Maybe because most of what’s ‘real’ gets confirmed by how and whether we talk and write about it.  (262)

Again, this ties in with the work I do and how telling our stories gives them meaning, often reframing the details into something metaphoric and relevant beyond the individual.

The Illustrated Discovery Journal

It takes courage to be authentic in a culture content with only conformity.  (viii)

[H]appiness is dependent on one thing: self-worth.  (viii)

This resonates very deeply for me.  I know that a lot of people think I’m strong because of some of the things I’ve lived through and how I remain optimistic in spite of setbacks, etc.  My mother’s husband pointed out that my mother and I both have an unusually high happiness set-point.  We may get depressed, even fall into that “opposite level of pain” I quoted above, but we tend to rise sooner rather than later.  Rob and I both comment on our happiness which, contextually, doesn’t make sense.  If you look at the surface of our lives, there is little here for which we should be happy and yet, inside ourselves, we are.

I hadn’t equated any of this with self-worth, however.  It is hard, sometimes, to look around me and not appreciate all I have.  It is equally easy for me to think that I must really be full of self-loathing if my life isn’t any better than this.  Of course, that latter has more to do with the endless and erroneous messages that come from those who expound the “Law of Attraction” philosophy.  After all, if I were vibrating on the right emotional level then my life would be better and the only reason Rob has diabetes and I have vertigo and I don’t have a job is because I am attracting this into my life.

Ummmm . . . okay.  I obviously think that’s a bunch of nonsense.  I’ve certainly written as much before in this blog.  I have no patience for this irresponsible teaching that has become some ubiquitous.  But I digress . . . Back to the quote.

I love what it says about how we carry our own happiness, regardless of our circumstances, because of our self-worth or, as is more commonly said, self-esteem, because when we are happy within ourselves then we carry that happiness with us wherever we go.  Perhaps this has something to do with equanimity as well, that our set-point of happiness is our leveling off emotionally and although we may rise above or fall below the line occasionally in a normal healthy emotional response to circumstances, over all the happiness we feel, the peace, the love, and the deep down joie de vivre, the tujours gai, remains steady throughout.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Synecdoche, New York - Review

I can't recall if I attempted to review this movie upon viewing it but, after watching it, I knew it was brilliant beyond words and if I did try to write a review, I didn't do it the just that this movie does.
This is also the movie that made me begin to fall in love with Michelle Williams. I honestly think that, left to my druthers, I'd grab everything she was ever in and absorb it in a mad marathon of Michelle immersion.
Funny Side Note
When I first woke up with vertigo, I was often stuck in bed. At the time, Dawson's Creek was on a seemingly endless rerun and I managed to avoid it for quite some time. Eventually, I surrendered and about once or twice a week I would catch an episode.
As it turns out, although they played two or three episodes a day, I could watch one episode once or twice a week and still keep up with the endless soap opera of the story.
After three months of this, and into about season two or the beginning of season three, the station changed its programming and dropped poor Dawson and his crew altogether.
I still don't know what happened to any of them. I only know that the first time I watched an episode I thought, "Hey! Isn't that the girl from Brokeback Mountain?"
So I suppose at this point I should add an addendum to my above effusion and say that while I would happily immerse myself in her work, I probably would just as happily not watch Dawson's Creek.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

As Promised . . . One Week From Today

I said I would make an announcement regarding Ash Wednesday which is, as we all know, one week from today.  And I likewise promised I would share with one and all what I would be sacrificing for this year's Lenten Season.

As Saila mentioned in her comment, there are many reasons for observing Lent even if you yourself are not Catholic or even necessarily spiritual.  For me, this year's sacrifice is about discipline and simplicity, about appreciating what I have and honoring where I am.  About acceptance and minimizing.

Your curiosity must be horribly piqued by now.  Well, with no further ado, except for a quick reminder to please be comfortably seated before reading further because I don't want anyone to fall out and hurt themselves, I have decided to give up  . . .

Cobb County Public Library
Lewis A Ray Branch
Yes.  I am giving up the use of the public library for the duration of the Lenten season.  No borrowing books.  No requesting videos.  Not even their online resources.  I won't search for books or about requesting the library order new material.  I will focus on my own library collection at home and read only the books I have on hand.  Given that I am also on a book buying freeze, this is a double whammy of discipline because I will not buy any new books.  I am also going to not borrow any books from friends or family.   However, with my birthday falling in the middle of Lenten season (give or take a few days), I am going to allow myself the right to be gifted with books.  After all, it would be rude for me to say, "I'm sorry.  I can't accept your gift of this book, for you see, it is Lent and I, a non-believer/non-Catholic, have chosen to observe this tradition for some inane reason."

No library books.  

None.

Do you think I can stand it?

We shall see . . . 

Moving the Movie/Television Reviews Back Here


I know that I was doing the reviews on my review blog but given the little feedback thing at the end of the posts over there now, it didn't make sense to put these reviews there.  So I've moved them back to this blog.    

Shinbone Alley

Why would they do this to archy and mehitabel?  The songs are too cute to be a worthy complement to the dark themes of the text and even the more profoundly philosophical moments are watered down in animation that is clearly influenced by its generation rather than that of the author’s.  There are a few interesting moments (manifestations of Krazy Kat and Ignatz, the artist who also illustrated archy and mehitabel for publication).  Please, skip this animated mess and read the book if you’re curious.  I grew up with a collection of Don Marquis’ writing in my home and I have fond memories pouring over the pages, trying to understand his more political commentary and feeling sad for some of the brutality I found in the poetry of archy’s cockroach voice.

Band of Brothers

Rob has been encouraging me to watch this miniseries for a while.  I believe Spike television regularly airs it but they typically air it either as a weekend long marathon or a week long one with back-to-back episodes that air so late I can’t stay up for them.  Plus, to be honest, going to sleep after watching a war movie is typically not a good choice for me and my dreams will reflect the violence I have been viewing, something not conducive to a good night’s sleep.

I can see why Rob wants to own these dvds because the story is incredible.  These young men, some of them boys really, facing truly horrific experiences.  I give a lot of lip service to saying I am a pacifist and that I do not believe in a “just war” but the truth is I have always thought that America’s involvement in World War II was a good thing.  I still do but when I think more honestly about it, the war should never have happened to begin with and no no no there is no such thing as a just war.  I’m reading a book right now that discusses some of the repercussions of World War I, the war that was supposed to end all wars, and how the massive loss of young men resulted in a change in how we, as a society, grieve.

Watching this miniseries killed the last bit of romantic thought I had regarding World War II.  I don’t know how we, as a global society, can reach a place where war and violence are no longer the answer but I know it begins with asking ourselves how we might be violent in our own lives, in small ways, in gestures and in words.

But I am getting too deep and this is supposed to be a frivolous post about reviews so let’s move along to the truly ridiculous.

Lost Boys: The Tribe

Why do I do this to myself?  Because I am not feeling well.  Because I have spent the day reading deep things and thinking deep thoughts.  Because the weather is bad outside.  Because I am dealing with a lot of things that make me feel sad.  And because I just want to get outside of my head for a bit so some mindless nonsense should work.

But seriously, why why why?  Lost Boys was a quirky vampire movie and I like a good vampire movie.  Not brilliant but good with good acting and an interesting perspective on the whole vampire world, with a little tongue-in-cheek nonsense that showed the movie wasn’t taking itself or the whole vampire thing seriously.  This second movie is just a waste, with jokes that fall flat and a story line that is not even clever enough to be considered derivative.

Lost Boys: The Thirst

Which begs the question, why make yet another sequel if you can’t get it right the second time?  And this time there isn’t even an attempt at humor.  Or if there was I missed it altogether.  At least with the previous movie I could say “Oh, that was supposed to be funny.”  This time there was nothing, absolutely nothing, to like.  And the few flashback scenes that incorporated moments from the first movie into this one, were merely a reminder that these movies couldn’t come close to the quirky charm of the first.

So why did I suffer through this second one?  The young woman, Tanith Phoenix, is apparently being considered for the part of Wonder Woman.  I never liked the television show but I’ve always wanted to see a good version of Wonder Woman made, if possible.  And surely, it must be possible.  Look at Superman’s migration from television to movie and even to remakes for television and movies.  And what about Batman?  From cheesy television to good movie to even better movie.  If I had to vote, Phoenix wouldn’t be my choice for the new Princess Diana/Diana Prince.  Who would be?  I don’t know.  I’d have to think about it and the whole point in my watching these movies was to not have to think.  Let’s move onto the next review.

Californication

Or maybe we should have stayed with really pointless sequels because at least then I could allude to the better original that started it all.  And yet, it was something original that made me want to check this SHO television series: The Big C, a show which Rob and I have both enjoyed very much.  I figured that since we really enjoy some of Showtimes’ series, surely I would enjoy this one.  Not so much.  The characters are interesting and the acting is solid but the main character sort of wanders through his life trying to be glib and mostly being an asshole while the women around him are unbelievably enchanted.  The plot is so contrived that it is inanely predictable right down to the final moments of season one.  In fact, the final scene is so utterly derivative that I have no desire nor intention of watching further.  I wouldn’t have watched as much as I did if I hadn’t been in pain and on muscle relaxers.  It took my being doped up to tolerate this dreck.

Hancock

Just what I needed–a bit of mindless fluff.  Okay, let me admit up front that I am a Will Smith fan.  I know that some people find him annoying and ubiquitous but I have yet to see him in something where I didn’t walk out thinking that I like him.  This movie was no different.  And sort of like a dark version of The Greatest American Hero.  Anyone who has seen the trailer knows the premise: guy with super abilities drinks too much and alienates the general population.  Enter a PR guy and his lovely, little family, add a few unsurprising moments and you have a typical and fun movie.  There is a time and place for the occasional mindless fluff film and Will Smith delivers.  Not one I would take younger children to see and there is one truly stupid moment in the film that could have been dropped altogether.  But if I had adolescent boys who wanted to see something with a little blood in it, this film fits the bill perfectly.

I Can’t Think Straight

Completely mixed feelings.  I really wanted to like this little movie but . . . something was missing.  Is it because the script was overflowing with clichés and that the narrative arch follow so closely the typical romantic movie that I may have watched any of the plethora of chick flicks I typically dislike?  Was it the poor acting or the weird dubbing that made the acting seem somewhat off?  I have no clue what it was that left me so apathetic.  I liked the music a lot and the actresses are both lovely.  There are quick nods to the political context and religious implications but these are addressed in such a superficial manner as to suggest that women are unable to really understand such deeply relevant matters.  Especially when they are in love.  I don’t know.  But meh . . . most of the movie left me bored.  However, there is a soundtrack available.  Too bad I am on a buying freeze.  Otherwise, I’d totally jump on a used or like new copy because I’m not spending $20 something for a single cd.  Are they mad?  They must be.

Strictly Sexual

I love Amber Benson and I think I need to stop watching her movies and read her books because ever since her stint on Buffy, she keeps playing these amazing girls who keep being told they are overweight and need to lose weight.  This woman with a simply gorgeous face and amazing figure, I suppose by Hollywood standards she is “fat” but it only ends up pissing me off when another character says something hurtful or snide or even well-meaning about her needing to watch what she eats or lose weight or some other bullshit.

And of course, she’s wonderful in the role, which is a sharp departure from what I’ve seen her do before.  She knows how to deliver emotion and infuses her characters with such honesty that it is hard not to believe that they exist out there in the real world and not merely on the screen (or on the page of the script).  Independent film with the typical (why?) jerky camera crap which I suppose is meant to be arty but mostly ends up being annoying for me.  Okay. I have vertigo so I would find it annoying regardless but it especially detracts from some of the more emotional moments of the movie.  I never understood the relationships and the conclusion is satisfying only in its being predictable.  Great music.  No soundtrack.  Damn.

American Teen

Let me be honest here and admit that the primary reason I wanted to see this was because the cover is so obviously referencing The Breakfast Club.  The concept is unsurprising–the director of this documentary follows a group of teenagers, each typifying a particular stereotype, for one year of high school.  Not sure I get the connection between the “heartthrob” and the character Judd Nelson plays but I suppose there’s a tenuous relevance that is eluding me.

I have mixed feelings about this documentary.  On the one hand, it does sort of invite other adolescence to recognize themselves in the various people to sort of invite a “you are not alone” identification.  However, all five of the real life people are slender.  What?  There are no overweight stereotypes to be explored?  And truth be told, they are also all not unattractive.  None are drop dead gorgeous and one could argue that the boy with the severe acne is not immediately handsome but I’ve seen teenagers grow through these things into attractive young adults and there are moments when one can see that he will be a good looking man someday.

On the other hand, by focusing so closely on the problems that these teenagers face they are given a weight that perhaps reinforces the “drama” of the moment rather than the ephemeral nature that these situations truly convey.  A far more integral issue in one person’s life (an older sister’s suicide) is given less relevance than getting into college or finding a date for the prom.  Not meaning to suggest that going to college or not going to college won’t define a person’s future, the truth is that many people happily survive not going to prom and a sibling’s suicide is going to have a lifelong impact.

To be honest, I only really cared about one of the young people presented on the camera.  I suspect most people would feel the same way, caring more about one of these teenagers than any of the others, probably the one within whom they recognize themselves.  I realize that is what I did, feeling an empathy for the one that I did offer the others.

But I watched the whole thing so I guess I was more engaged in that one person’s experience enough to suffer through the rest of the stories.

Fantasia 2000

I was a bit underwhelmed by this movie mostly because I didn’t like the use of famous people in between the segments.  I felt the music should stand on its own inarguable merit and, although I realize that Leopold Stokowski was hardly unknown at the time of Fantasia, I assumed that the sections in between each number would be in keeping with the original and not so much an opportunity to pander.  I especially enjoyed the pieces Pines of Rome by Ottorino Respghi and George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, the latter as much for its homage to Al Hirschfeld’s line drawings that were a delight to me as a child.  And because I watched it with Bibi we both enjoyed the silly flamingos in the section taken from Saint-Saens’ The Carnival of the Animals.  The section inspired by Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite definitely recalls the final number in Fantasia (Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain) but was less heavy-handed with the religious theme.

I had heard or read somewhere ages ago that the original conception for Fantasia was to release it occasionally, adding a few new pieces and mix them up with the familiar older pieces.  Naturally, Paul Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice remained in this “sequel.”  I think it was a wonderful and ambitious idea. I’m sorry that the studio chose not to follow through with it.  If not going to the trouble and expense of rereleasing a new version to the theater, at least offering a straight to video/dvd option.  It would not surprise me to learn that the only exposure some children get to classical music is one or both of these films.  Not to suggest that there are no other ways to be exposed to classical music but it is a disappointment that such a grand vision was never fully realized.  I doubt they will go so far as to resurrect the idea.  More’s the pity because occasionally the animators do such a wonderful job of creating a visual that works well with the music that they truly do create magic.

The Aviator

I have to say that I love Leonardo DiCaprio and he is yet another actor whose talent surprises me every time I see him in a film.  My children and I had planned on seeing this movie when it came out in theaters, prepared to choose it as our “Christmas Eve Flick” but it ended up being released on Christmas day and we went to see something else altogether.  (I forget what we eventually chose.)  DiCaprio’s portrayal of Howard Hughes is remarkable and he’s brilliantly directed by Martin Scorsese; together they manage to convey Hughes’ charm as well as his compulsions.  Taking a lot of liberties with the backstory, obviously adding details that could only be guessed at and creating a life that was both excessively public and extremely private.  DiCaprio is absolutely brilliant in the role and is surrounded by other actors who rise to the occasion.  A lengthy yet gratifying movie but one I’m glad we didn’t watch on Christmas Eve because it definitely isn’t a happy little walk in the park type of film.

The Pillow Book

I’ve wanted to see this movie for a long time, ever since I first started reading Sei Shonagon’s writings.  I lost interest somewhere along the way when I realized that the movie couldn’t possibly be like the text but eventually wondered if there was any real connection between the two.  The film is clearly inspired by the text and does an interesting job of using intertextuality to tell the story of obsession and fetishism.  I had heard this film described as erotic and sexy; I found it to be neither of these things, often getting close to one or the other only to lose direction somehow, shifting into a subliminal perversion that gives this film a psychological depth I was not anticipating.  This is the sort of film one almost needs to watch more than once to get a full grasp on everything that is happening.  And even then, I would suspect some layers would remain hidden.

The Bourne Supremacy

This was just a bit of escapist fluff while I was suffering from back pain.  Not fun at all.  So watching something that doesn’t require a great deal of thought was ideal.  This movie is about all I expected it to be.  Nothing more.  I’ll watch the third movie mostly to complete the trilogy but I really wish someone would get the jerky camera out of being vogue so we could move back to smooth shots that are easier for me to watch.






Best in Show

Ha!  A mockumentary about dog shows.  Hey!  The Siberian Husky won best in division but not best in show.  Oops.  Did I give away the ending?  I was just happy that the husky had any screen time.  The characters are funny, over the top, and all a bit ridiculous in their own ways.  Not that they are completely unrealistic.  At best, these people are caricatures of real people who are just as frighteningly obsessed or weird about their dogs.





Triumph of the Will

From mockumentary to documentary?  Hardly.  This is a ponderous bit of propaganda and, although I have often heard it praised, I cannot see what the praise is for.  The visuals are tedious and the film goes on endlessly, so over the top contrived that it is hard to watch without falling asleep.  One slight allusion to racial purity makes the viewer wonder what parts of the various speeches were excluded.  About halfway through I stopped watching and confessed to Rob that I simply didn’t understand Hitler’s appeal, having long heard he was a charismatic speaker.  He seemed so angry in his mannerisms and Rob said it probably had to do with the way the German language sounds–so hard and clipped–and that the gesticulations were more passionate than hostile.  I continued watching and I think Rob is right, that I am seeing these speeches with too much hindsight and am unable to watch this man objectively.  At the end, however, I also realized that this political rally, as it is woven into this film, is not unlike every other political rally–including Democrat and Republican conventions.  The only thing the film lacked were stupid and insipid jokes and the only thing our contemporary rallies lack is the apparent adoration and the worshipful rhetoric.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed

This was a surprise find in the Netflix instant queue.  Purported by some to be the first animated film, it is mostly done in shadow puppet form filmed in stop motion.  Beautiful imagery with a story drawn from traditional Arabic literature.  The story is told in five acts and I think it would be great fun to see if a young child, not yet reading, would want to watch this and perhaps create a story for what is happening on the screen.  I suppose some children would find it all dreadfully dull but, as I watched it, I remembered my own fascination with older films, watching black and white movies with more enthusiasm than I did more current cinematic efforts.  Then again, I grew up when Disney studios were losing their grip on quality so it makes sense that I would prefer older movies over the newer ones.  But I digress.  I recommend this silent (with music) film because it is different from anything most children will ever enjoy on television or in the movie theater.

Beautiful Daughters

Eve Ensler, with the help of Jane Fonda, created an all transsexual version of The Vagina Monologues and listening to these women’s stories, sharing their own experiences with being transgendered.  Some of the women are talked to more closely than others and the stories are all different and evocative.  Ensler interviews these women and listens to what they have to say about being bullied, abused, even raped, until they came into their own, and how they made the transition in their lives.  She then adds monologues to specifically address these unique experiences.  Interestingly, in the wikipedia.org article for the play, no mention of this particular production or the documentary is mentioned.  And I am unable to find it available on dvd in amazon.com.  (Click the link and you'll see what I mean.)

The Odessa File

When I was growing up, I remembered seeing this movie’s poster and hearing about the book.  Perhaps there was a copy on a bookshelf somewhere.  For these reasons, that I remembered seeing the book and poster so clearly, I wanted to watch the movie.  I was incredibly bored as this supposedly suspenseful thriller gradually moves into what is an interesting twist at the end but, because everything that precedes it is so dreadfully predictable, the few who manage to sit through the film to the twist will probably be so numb with boredom that it won’t matter.  Or maybe I was still numb with boredom from watching The Triumph of the Will . . .   I noticed, as I was watching the movie, that there were certain lyric themes that reminded me of Evita and it came as no surprise when I later learned that Andrew Lloyd Webber composed the music for this movie.

for colored girls

What the hell?  I remember reading the text for this play ages ago.  I never saw it when it was on Broadway but I remembered wanting to see it, thinking that the title was intriguing and the poster (again with the posters!) alluring.  For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf.   The acting is hands down brilliant.  But to make the text of the play work, the producers or someone thought they had to add a bunch of melodramatic crap that reinforces so many stereotypes as to almost make the film feel like a blacksploitation effort.  And yet . . . the poetry, the few moments when the women are given a chance to speak in Ntozake Shange’s words . . . well, then the magic and then the beauty and then the breathlessness.  These are the things I remembered from reading the book and which were nearly lost on the screen.  I commend Tyler Perry for taking on such a challenging vision, to translate this play into a movie.  I only wish it had been done better than this.  So much better than this.

(Okay Satia, how would you have done it?  I think they had a good idea in wanting to offer some threads between the different poetic monologues.  However, I would have filmed these as though they were a silent movie, music but no words.  Let the women’s voices when they share their individual stories, be the only words expressed and the rest be visual.  Silent.  Evocative.  And don’t add melodramatic crap to what is already happening on the stage/page.  It wasn’t necessary; this won many awards from the Obie to the Tony as well as numerous nominations and it doesn’t need filler to make it powerful.  And it would have made the movie shorter, for crying out loud.  Over two hours of horrifying abuse and pain and experiences . . . no wonder the movie exhausted me.)

NOTE:  I have since reread the text and updated my review blog with a review of the original "script."

Anna Karenina

Ahhh . . . Greta Garbo and beautiful costumes and . . . only about half of the amazing novel.  I guess the producers knew that to do the entire novel justice they would have to make a very long move (like Gone With the Wind or Dr. Zhivago) and rather than bother with that, they just read the first sentence of the novel and said, “You know, Tolstoy’s right so let’s just tell one story and not bother at all with the other.”  It’s a shame, really, because I loved how the two stories intertwined and ran parallel to one another but the part that is dropped is mostly philosophical and internal growth versus the outward drama of Vronsky and Karenina.  I suppose there is no real way to communicate the beautiful and more simple story of Levin and Kitty’s relationship.  But now I am curious to watch other version, the mini-series or longer film versions, to see if they do the same thing, removing the secondary story altogether.

Whatever Works

What with all my reading being so heavy lately and my watching depressing things, I thought a little Woody Allen would do me a world of good.  I have to say that I disliked this movie almost as much as I disliked Mighty Aphrodite.  It isn’t that the acting is not wonderful.  If nothing else, he knows how to cast his roles.  But the characters are lacking something.  I am not quite sure what it was.  Having the protagonist talk to the audience (break the fourth wall), I thought that in some ways Allen was harkening back to his earlier works but I couldn’t understand to what purpose?  I expect more from him and haven’t been getting it lately.  Perhaps I’m the one who needs to harken back to his earlier works because this one left me saying, “Whatever.”

All About Eve

After so many poor choices, I simply had to choose a movie I knew I would enjoy.  This was a good choice if not a perfect one. I mean, it’s a good movie but not very cheerful.  Great lines and brilliant acting.  But I didn’t really understand Bette Davis’ character at all, to be honest.  Margo Channing is so insecure about being with a man eight years younger than herself?  Should I be insecure too?   Golly, I hope not.  Maybe not.  Rob’s not eight years younger than I anyway.  But still . . . didn’t quite understand it although she is clearly in a world that is more age sensitive.  I enjoyed the whole Broadway versus Hollywood mentality though.  It made me a little homesick.


His Girl Friday

Ahhhh . . . finally I figure it out.  And I forgot that Cary Grant’s character is charming but a manipulative cad to boot.  The dialogue is so crisp, though, and Rosalind Russell is a great match for Grant.  The two play off one another so well that her fiancé played by . . . well, whomever . . . is simply out-shined in every way.  Ridiculous story but in many ways so forward thinking: a man loving a woman who loves her career.  It definitely romances “back in the day” but I know better.  Typing on a typewriter would drive me nuts!  I don’t even like using my qwerty on my phone because the keys are not sensitive enough for me and I move too fast for it.  But I digress . . . or maybe I try to share these little asides so you might want to pay attention . . . great movie with everything spot on fabulous.  Love it love it love it!

Children of a Lesser God

In keeping with my need to watch movies I am confident I’ll enjoy, I decided to watch this movie again.  I haven’t seen it in over a decade and I had forgotten how beautiful Matlin is.  Just lovely.  I’d also forgotten what an incredibly dysfunctional relationship the protagonists have.  Leave it to me to watch a love story and walk away feeling sad for them.  I had also forgotten some of the political implications of the movie about how deaf people were perceived in society and what how, even within the deaf community, there is a presumed statement being made when one chooses to learn to speak without sign language (or as a complement to sign language) and those who do not choose to do so.  It is obvious why this was so lauded when it came to the stage and it is good to see a play that is translated onto the screen so well.  (I remember reading the play ages ago, long before I saw the movie, in fact.)

Wallace & Gromit: Loaf and Death

I’m a sucker for W&G and Rob wanted to watch something lighter than my usual fair.  This was a natural choice.  Claymation, cheese-loving characters who are now bakers.  You still have the silly ways in which Wallace is gotten out of bed and Gromit’s silently reproachful and long-suffering glances.  There isn’t much mystery, to be honest, behind the mystery of the story.  Not that there needs to be.  Charming through and through.  I’d happily invite these two over to the house for some cheese.





Dreamchild

Well, I don’t know what to think of this one.  You have the Jim Henson studios making the “wonderland” sequences absolutely grotesque, more nightmare than wonderful.  The performances are wonderful, however.  Subtle and understated throughout.  The subplot involving the young woman who accompanies the adult Alice to America and the reporter who is trying to exploit the elderly woman for all he can is silly and a waste of time. The real plot is in the character of Alice herself, as told through flashbacks and occasional delusional side-trips.  There is a psychological depth to these sections which is intriguing and, if not for the ugliness of the creatures created by Henson’s studio, would have been perfect.  The problem is that the creators thought they had to make Carroll’s creations look grotesque but this is an unnecessary and even redundant choice.  By making them so ugly on the outside, the truly grotesque qualities of the characters themselves is lost.   Better to have had them devolve into ugliness, if one must have them ugly at all.

Enchanted April

And after watching an ugly film, I wanted to watch something I remembered as lovely.  I originally watched this movie when I was still happily married, or at least thought I was.  That was about 20 or more years ago.  I loved this movie then.  I love it now.  (I would highly recommend this movie to you, Saila, as I think you would adore it.)  For those who read my movie reviews, you probably know I am not terribly fond of romance movies and tend to avoid chick flicks on principle because I find them foolish and tedious, at best.  Having said that, I love this romantic BBC production chick flick.  Love it love it love it.  The actresses are beautiful.  The costumes are beautiful.  The scenery is beautiful.  It’s just a lovely movie.  I want to read the book but I’ve never been able to find it at the library.

A perfect movie on which to end this month’s many movies

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Monday, February 28, 2011

Reiki Links for February

It's been a rough month for Reiki. One church has come out attacking a popular pastor for being a proponent of Satanism and one man was fined for hugging his employees which he claimed was helping to release negative energy.  A third was arrested for sexually assaulting a patient--but since those articles disappeared from the internet my guess is that the case has been settled out of court.

In any event, here are the links for February regarding Reiki.

Good advice for those who practice Reiki.
5 Ways to Help Reiki Flow Stronger When Someone Is in Pain

Finding websites where a Christian argues that Reiki is Satanic is pretty easy.  Finding websites where Christians are sharing their experience with Reiki is not so simple.  Not all Christians agree, of course.  My aunt, who is a practicing Catholic, is also a Reiki master in spite of the council of bishops in New York saying that sincere Catholics should never receive let alone practice Reiki.  Oh well.  Good article.  Enjoy!
Is Reiki for Christians ? | GreenReiki

This is an article about one of the many hospitals that are allowing Reiki practitioners to help patients in the healing process.
A touch of reiki | PoconoRecord.com

As I said, there are Christians who do not agree with the practice of Reiki and, in the attempt to be fair, I present this article that speaks out about why Reiki is not acceptable to some Christians.
Reiki is a sin, Brodheadsville pastor warns | PoconoRecord.com

I thought this article was interesting because it says a great deal about non-attachment without actually mentioning the Buddhist teachings on impermanence, etc.
How I Lost The Feeling Of Reiki Flowing Through My Hands After An Attunement

I hope you have enjoyed this month's Reiki articles and I shall continue seeking these resources out and sharing them at the end of the month.  See you next month if not before then!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Satia and Rob Moment


Me: (handing Rob my bag of caramels) Here, hide these from me so I don’t eat them all up too quickly.
Rob: Okay.
Me: (after walking out and returning) What’re you doing?
Rob: (clearly chewing on a caramel) Nothing.  Why?
Me: I asked you to hide them, not eat them.
Rob: I am going to hide them.
Me: Give them back.
Rob: No.  Why?
Me: Because I don’t think I like where you’re hiding them now and I’m sure I’m going to like it less later.

Things-To-Do List Reviews


Work Related
Sign up for online course and begin working at it
Organize desk and desktop
Organize files
Sort through basket
Apply to jobs (monthly ttl 59/annual ttl 97/interviews 0)



Of course, I had hoped to get more done but I didn't.  I probably need to sort the basket if for no other reason than we couldn't find some necessary paperwork earlier this week and I can only hope the missing documents are in the basket.

Conference Work
Upload conference call notes to blog
Reschedule workshop committee conference call
Reschedule ejournal committee conference call
Create mid-month note
Upload and post-date poems to blog (started but unfinished)
Listen to Lifelines and take notes


I am still trying to coordinate one conference call.  I had thought I'd try to get them both scheduled but I was so confused by the different times suggested by the first one that I knew if I tried to do a second one it would just add to my confusion.  I opted to keep it simple, coordinate one and then get to the other.  So it's taken me the entire week to confirm that we might have a conference call tomorrow afternoon.  Not good enough.


Email
Get email inbox under 200 unread (currently 365)
Write Patrick (re 2010)
Write Mary Emily (re gift)
Write Momma (re book and box)
Write Evi (re package)
Write Saila
Write Greg (re holidays)


I really need to make time to just sit and write one email.  It is silly that I don't just devote an afternoon or a morning to this.  Maybe Friday.  I think that if I just look at my calendar and highlight a specific time, give one hour to what I want to say, and then write until the time is up, I could get through most of this list in a few weeks.  As it is, it never changes because I never really begin.  At least my inbox is under 400 unread.  (I think that my new goal will be to get it under 300 and then create a new one that has me reaching for getting it under 250, etc.  Smaller increments will help me feel more successful.)

House
Laundry
Organize shelves in guest room
Organize shelves in great room
Holiday decorations in attic
Scrub kitchen floor



This week I hope to really begin some of this.  I say that but then I don't act on it.  I'm only frustrating myself.  But at least the laundry is done, folded, etc.


Personal
Reiki meditation 5x per week (3x)
Strength training 3x per week (1x)
Cardio 3x per week (1x)
Yoga daily (4x)
Update well-being blog twice (1x)
Update personal blog twice (1x)
Update body blog daily (4x)
Get driver's license renewed (Friday)



I completely lost track of most of these things.  I think the problem is that I don't really know how to keep track of it.  I will vaguely recall that I made a post but then I can't always say with confidence whether it was to the one blog or the other and then I can't remember if I already counted that post or not.  Rather than give myself posting credit where none is due, I just don't update that item on the list.  


Social
Saturday Morning walk with Kanika
Schedule new game day
Schedule coffee or something with Rossana
Call Love


This seems to be the only list that ever really sees fulfillment, or gets close to it, anyway.   Probably because it involves other people.  It is easier to let myself down than others.


Reading
A Voice of Her Own
Insecure at Last
Moving On
Anne of Windy Poplars
The Self-Compassion Diet




I returned A Voice of Her Own to the library.  I've read it before and had borrowed it to read as a resource for an upcoming newsletter.  That issue is not scheduled until June so I have plenty of time to borrow it again after Easter.



Write Reviews
Moving On
Insecure at Last



There is no reason I couldn't have filled this one and marked it as complete.  I just kept postponing and postponing.   Lesson learned.  I know I have shit to do so I had better stop putting it off and just do it, dammit!