The Universe and Me

Monday, January 30, 2006

Not so simple

Movie: The Plain Truth. This was disturbing in so many ways and, being a Lifetime movie, I doubt in ways it was meant to be. First, none of the Amish had accents. One of the male actors tried towards the beginning, but it sounded more Irish (which, if it hadn’t been so irritating, would have been funny) but after a couple scenes, he seemed to give up even trying an accent. Secondly, while I don’t know any Amish personally, it’s my understanding that they are not at all narrow-minded and do allow their children to choose whether they want to stay in the community or leave and live in the outside world. Disowning them for attending college can’t possibly be common practice. This made the Amish father seem psychotic. Then, the daughter apparently sees and talks with the ghost of her dead sister? This subplot was never developed, but it made her seem psychotic too. Then, everyone who knows her insists she wouldn’t lie, but as the movie unfolds, you find practically every word she’s said is a lie. Also, it’s made an important point in court that Amish don’t commit murder. Ever. I don’t know if it’s true that no Amish person ever has killed anyone, but hitting the viewer and jury over the head with this point and then having one of them turn out to be a baby killer couldn’t be more disturbing. It would have been better if this character had said, the baby was already dead due to the infection the coroner later found and she just disposed of it. Instead, the movie completely contradicted itself. That’ll teach me to watch anything Lifetime has to offer.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Country Mouse, City Mouse

Movie: Junebug. I’m not sure I came away with the understanding it wanted me to, having been raised in the country myself and preferring its simplicity to the hectic, often shallow, hedonistic, and mercenary lifestyle of metropolitan areas. So, with my background, I couldn’t tell if the country family was supposed to be seen as backwards or not. To me, they seemed like much better people, caring about their family and faith, than the city girl who visits, who only cares about her job and making money. I was hoping seeing her husband in that atmosphere, in a new way, was making her appreciate his true qualities, which she didn’t seem aware of at all. But then at the end, they’re so glad to be leaving the embarrassing hick family and going back to “real” civilization. So I guess they learned nothing. The best part of this movie was the amazing performance of Amy Adams as Ashley, the sister-in-law. When she first appears, you wonder if she’s slightly retarded or mental. Within a few minutes, her exuberance and charm win you over and you become as captivated with her as she is with life.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

What's your major?

You scored as English. You should be an English major! Your passion lies in writing and expressing yourself creatively, and you hate it when you are inhibited from doing so. Pursue that interest of yours!





























What is your Perfect Major?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Lost: Fire + Water

Lost. 2.12. Were those bunny slippers Little Charlie was wearing? I used to have some cat slippers at about that age. Since Liam’s wife named her daughter after his mother, chances are Megan’s no longer living, would we say? Charlie’s pushing his brother (who somewhat resembles my pseudo husband, or perhaps I’ve gone totally batty) to get clean after the baby was born nicely parallels his trying to take responsibility for Aaron and staying off drugs to do so. Only trouble is, he can’t be honest, so Claire can’t allow it. Claire’s hair seems to have grown very fast these past few weeks. And is there a stash of mascara and lipstick in the hatch that she’s using?

The real question is, did Locke somehow drug Charlie to cause him to have those dreams/visions since it appears the one thing Charlie is telling the truth about, as far as we know, is that he’s not on drugs. Apart from losing his mind, everything’s peachy. Locke follows him to the heroin stash and packs up the Mary’s, believing Charlie feels like he has to save the baby since he can’t save himself. To take attention away from Aaron so he can steal him, Charlie sets a fire. Locke punches him and no one feels bad about it. So why does Locke save the statues in the hatch? For future medicinal or nefarious purposes? And why change the door’s combination? His punching Charlie seemed harsh, unless he meant it to be an example to the Lostaways not to step out of line. Nice authority complex, there.

Hurley/Jabba has a little love connection brewing over Libby but he’s waiting for his moment, which, with Sawyer’s big mouth, is now, Hos. While folding the laundry, Hurley thinks he recognizes Libby from more than stepping on her foot while boarding the plane. Could it be from his days in the mental hospital? And what are the odds that Libby is lying and isn’t a psychologist at all, but was once a patient? Interesting she noticed what viewers did last fall: the washer and dryer are newer than everything else in the hatch. Meanwhile Eko’s marking the trees he likes. Claire decides Charlie’s revelation that Aaron needs to be baptized isn’t so loony after all. Eko’s Biblical interpretation is a bit off again, so we’re guessing he’s a self-appointed priest, not a real one. Most astute line: Locke’s “Trust is a hard thing to win back.” Next: They’re not scared enough.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Íslensku tónlistarverðlaunin 2005

The Icelandic Music Awards were held yesterday and the winners are:

Pop record of the year:
Fisherman’s Woman - Emilíana Torrini

Rock record of the year:
Takk - Sigur Rós

Adult conntemporary record of the year:
Ást/...Í 6 skrefa fjarlægð frá paradís - Bubbi

Artist of the year:
Sigur Rós

Song & Lyrics of the year:
Pabbi þarf að vinna - Baggalútur

Female artist of the year:
Emilíana Torrini

Male artist of the year:

Video of the year:
Emilíana Torrini - Sunnyroad

Album cover of the year:
Sigur Rós - Takk

Best newcomer:
Benni Hemm Hemm

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

24: 11 a.m. - 12 p.m.

24. 5.5. Quite the slower pace than the first four hours. Yellow Tie Guy was picked up on surveillance cameras heading to hangar Double B so Curtis and his op team check out the dead rats there. Sure enough, there’s trace amounts of nerve gas in the rats’ systems. But who manufactured it? Logan and cronies hope to readmit Martha to the Loony Bin or Vermont. Walt has someone inside CTU and I suspected last week it was Spencer. Turns out it’s Spenser. With a last name like Wolf, they should’ve seen it coming. The McGill hobbit is cleverly usurping Buchanan’s authority. Edgar’s not happy with the way Chloe’s been speaking to him and the secrets she’s been keeping from him. Well, when everything returns to normal, they can have some chamomile tea and she’ll tell you all her secrets, okay? Diane gets a dig in at Audrey by saying she accepted Jack for who he was, implying Audrey didn’t. Ouch. Chloe doesn’t want to make a big drama out of it, but she needs to get into Spenser’s utilities volume. She observes the computer he was working on has a clearance level of 5 instead of 3 and bolts to Buchanan. How many times do we have to tell you: do not mess with Chloe. Spenser’s been tracking Jack and in his spare time let in Hank from outside support. And he has the nerve/stupidity to ask for a lawyer. This is CTU, man. He should consider himself lucky he hasn’t been tortured yet. Martha’s in the bathroom but when Logan checks the Ladies, she’s not there. Maybe he should have checked the men’s room. Tony’s conscious and wants to talk with Jack. In the monitor conveniently placed beside the bed, Jack sees assassin Hank ready to shoot him and uses the old scissors in the throat trick. Spenser admits White House aid Walt Cummings recruited him as part of an investigation to make sure CTU was operating within the rules. CTU may be, but Jack has no intention of it. Best exchange: Spenser and Chloe’s “No one talks to me like that.” “Really? I just did.”

Monday, January 23, 2006

Belgium, man, Belgium

Movie: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The good: Martin Freeman as Arthur and whoever did the voice of Marvin (did they even mention he was a “paranoid android”? I don’t remember hearing it.) The special effects were good, if a little downplayed. The Vogons were excellent, bumbling bureaucrats. “They can’t think. They can’t imagine. Most of them can’t spell. They just run things.” The not so good: The Guide was intended to be more of a full-fledged character. In this production, it’s only given little blurbs, and in large sections is missing for so long that I presumed it had gone out for a spot of tea. Many of the other major characters seemed severely miscast. I know we’re so used to the originals that any variation is going to seem odd, but there no way Ford was American. Mos Def’s mumbling didn’t help. He ended up fading into the background. My main gripe is Zaphod, who in my mind is a very hip and charming aged hippie. Not a Southern redneck or hillbilly, not childish and shallow, rude and annoying; not, as described in this movie, a “narcissistic moron.” And then there was Trillian who sounded a combination of bored and annoyed and subsequently was boring and annoying. Overall, the movie was a failure, I believe, due to poor casting and even worse directing. The sense of comedic timing was off. Too slow, too serious, and not comedic at all. Also, Adams wrote this less as a story and more of observations on the often absurd British way of life. So much of that was stripped out and replaced with a Hollywood love story. Funniest line: “I’m British, I know how to queue.”

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Tending the weeds

Movie: The Constant Gardener. I watched this a few weeks ago and wanted to make sure I mentioned it because I thought it was extremely well done. So much so that, when it ended, my first thought was “somebody give that movie an award!” Last week at the Golden Globes, star Rachel Weisz won the award for best supporting actress. The upcoming Bafta awards nominations were announced last week and this film tops the list with ten. Based on a novel by John LeCarré, it’s a “socially conscious spy yarn” about a humanitarian cause worker who seeks to expose a pharmaceutical corporation’s exploitation of the poverty stricken and ill in Africa. Though portrayed on a global scale, the parallels to corporations in America wielding too much power struck home. I don’t think this is what our founding fathers had in mind when they set up a democracy for the people, by the people. These days we find our health care, our food and water, and pretty much our entire lives dictated by what will provide the most profits to whatever company we’re at the mercy of. The power and money they have has corrupted so many of them, that our best interests are their last consideration. Another point this movie made was how the scale of world poverty is so immense, it’s overwhelmed us into doing nothing. Instead of focusing on fixing everything at once, we just need to begin.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Lost : The Hunting Party

Lost. 2.11. Flashback: Some possibly Italian guy with a spinal tumor wants miracle worker Jack to perform surgery even though he’s not a candidate and Jack (ego not checked at the door) agrees. Italian daughter, Gabriella, distraught when the surgery fails, kisses Jack who actually goes home and confesses to his not pregnant wife Sarah who confesses she’s leaving him because she’s seeing someone else (named Desmond, perhaps?) So, was she lying about being pregnant? Who knows. Back on the island: Michael goes as wild and crazy as his hair, locks Locke and Jack in the munitions room (whose combination does not appear to be any of the Numbers) and goes searching for Walt so Jack, Locke and Sawyer have to hunt him down. It’s boy’s day out or something and Jack refuses to give in to Kate’s whines of not wanting to be left behind to play who’s got the button.

Locke is curious about Sawyer’s name but wonders more how Jack plans to convince Michael to return with them as “something tells me he might be past listening to reason.” At least 7 gunshots sound out and Jack runs towards them, as any one would. Anyone insane. Deliverance Other Zeke corners them for a talk. Walt’s fine but the island belongs to the Others and they’re only letting the Lostaways live on it. If they cross this line, he’ll shoot Kate who he’s conveniently kidnapped because she couldn’t mind Jack’s orders. The guys give in and trek home, with no one asking Kate if she found out any Other information. Or wondering what’s on the Other’s side of the island that they don’t want the Lostaways to see.

Meanwhile, Jin’s not thrilled with the cute hat Sun makes him wear, but she didn’t like him dictating her life back home all those years either. Charlie and Hurley wonder who the band Geronimo Jackson was. Mostly Hurley wonders if he has a chance with Libby. Claire continues to bond with Locke. Jack questions Ana Lucia about training an army. So many good lines. From Locke: “Who are we to tell anyone what they can or can’t do?” From Jack: “Why don’t you go back and see if I hurt her feelings?” And a bunch from Sawyer whose perpetual sarcasm could make the weather report funny: “Did you just throw a banana at me?” “Maybe they went out for ice cream.” “There’s my favourite leaf!” “All you need is an earring and a mop” (re: Locke looking like Mr Clean.) “I probably would have gone around Mt Vesuvius.” Next up: it’s not looking good for Baby Aaron.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

24: 9-10 & 10-11 a.m.

24. 5.3. Jack climbs into the ceiling to avoid capture by and to spy on the Hostiles. He calls Buchanan and sends photos of Hostiles to CTU to identify. The Hostiles are sporting somewhat Russian accents and explosive vests controlled by scruffy Lead Hostile named something like Baresh who may be a grown up Berus from Season 4, graduated past shovels. He’s part of a faction called the Dawn Brigade who do not want the impending anti-terrorism alliance, but rather, national sovereignty. If the summit isn’t cancelled and the accord refuted, they’ll execute hostages like so. Yikes. Curtis (oh great, I have to worry again for the next five months that he won’t survive the day) and his CTU field ops are on the scene but they can’t seem to get themselves prepared to attack. Jack interrupts Chloe counting her violations. He needs the secondary detonations trigger frequency, whatever that is. Chloe turns to Spencer for his expertise bandwidth processing and can you blame her? The phone’s slow on the reboot, but Jack manages to blow up one Hostile and postpone Grunge Boy’s execution. Martha tracks down the phone records in the men’s bathroom, then the archive room where written transcripts are kept as backup. Walt clues in Head Honcho Blofeld and his big screen TV’s that Jack’s in the airport so Baresh jams his cell phone. If Jack doesn’t come out of hiding, they’ll shoot Grunge Boy. Well, if Blofeld keeps watching TV in the dark, he’s gonna have a whopper of a headache. Best line: Chloe’s sarcastic “Do you want me to figure out whose face that is or I could just go wait in holding?”

5.4. Logan is advised to continue the signing because if he gives in, the Hostiles will kill the hostages anyway. Good we can all trust each other. Enter into CTU hobbit/micromanager Lynn McGill who made me wonder if Peter Jackson really had to use much if any forced perspective on Lord of the Rings. McGill wants to see the playbook, so perhaps the football game is still on. Baresh has Jack call Curtis and tell the ops to storm the emergency door south of Gate 12. Jack throws in that he’s in a Flank 2 Position but Curtis is too slow on the uptake to catch his meaning. Walt threatens Martha’s handmaiden Padme/Evelyn. Jack hawks the Intel chip in his spare time. McGill’s not satisfied with Jack’s being out of touch for over twenty minutes and wants transcripts of the calls. Talk to Martha, Sam. Jack sees Baresh hand a hostage in a conspicuous yellow tie a key card. Then Baresh starts spouting some psychotic, surreal poetry about the black night being broken. Huh? McGill figures out that Flank 2 was the duress code (nothing like the dress code) when Jack was active so Curtis has the troops stand down. They buy time by claiming there’s a malfunction on the entry charges, giving Logan and his way too Naziish arm wave the chance to sign the treaty. Then half the place explodes. Jack shoots Baresh in the wrist before he can off himself, but he can’t stop him from blowing up the Hostiles. Yellow Tie Guy goes missing. He sneaks the key card to some pals who open and lift the lid off a big metal box containing canisters of nerve gas. Walt chloroforms Martha and steals the phone transcript she stole. Next up: Chloe and Edgar form a pairs ice skating team and prepare to compete in the Olympics.

Monday, January 16, 2006

24: 7-8 & 8-9 a.m.

24: 5.1. Jack goes undercover as a football quarterback… or the NFL’s poor scheduling pushes back the season premier 15 minutes. The bumpy ride has begun. President Palmer’s writing his memoirs and is feeling melancholic when a bullet crashes through the window and shoots him, in the neck, dead. What will Allstate do without him? Logan is still too short to be president, but so far he’s not as wimpy as Day 4. The Russians are coming (repeat for effect) to sign an arms agreement and he won’t postpone the visit. Chloe’s had some action with co-worker Spencer but doesn’t want the rest of CTU to know because she doesn’t “want everyone thinking I’m some kind of slut” though Spencer will easily spill the beans/brag within the hour. Jack learns of Palmer’s demise and is noticeably verklempt during breakfast with his hot new girlfriend Diane and her son, Grunge Boy. Before we can sing “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Michelle’s car is blown up. She’s a goner too and Tony’s in critical condition with head trauma. Edgar thinks there’s a connection and gives Chloe the heads up before she unlocks her car. She gives the Bad Guys chasing her the old sliperoo and calls Jack. He suggests she meet him at an abandoned oil refinery. Logan’s wife Martha My Dear is off her meds and looking like a wedding cake, but she’s a few tiers short, we fear. She claims Palmer called her and wanted to meet to tell her something that concerned national security. Logan thinks she’s delusional. Suspicious Grunge Boy follows Jack who has to take him to LA where the Bad Guys find them. Chloe guns down Main Bad Guy who confesses that they’re trying to make it look like Jack killed Palmer but he really did it. He received his orders via closed circuit so he doesn’t know who’s in charge. Oops. Lights out for him. Best line: “I will have your family eating dog food out of a can.”

5.2. Security cameras in the building Palmer’s sniper fired from picked up Jack’s image. Bill Buchanan figures out Jack staged his death though Audrey doesn’t believe he’d murder his friends. Jack switches clothes with an FBI agent so he can sneak into the crime scene and somehow his flimsy disguise of that and sunglasses works. As he’s searching Palmer’s computer, brother Wayne finds him. Strangely, Wayne believes the evidence was fabricated and Jack wants to find Palmer’s real killer. In Palmer’s encrypted version of his memoirs, they discover a name and address belonging to a bagging supervisor at Ontario Airport which isn’t in Ontario at all, but rather LA. Back at CTU, Spencer can’t log in under Chloe’s access code because she’s already logged in, remotely. He and Edgar scramble to find her location. Using some sort of cloaking device left over from Star Trek, Jack and Grunge Boy escape while Chloe creates a diversion and gets herself caught by CTU. She tells Buchanan she heard the dying Bad Guy’s confession at the refinery. Despite 4 seasons of Jack always being right, they don’t believe her. Russian President Suvarov (sounds like Superoff)’s helicopter lands safely, though everyone insisted it was targeted. Jack arranges to meet hot new girlfriend at Ontario to deliver her son, but when he leaves them to enter the building, Grunge Boy sees more Bad Guys entering and runs in to warn him. Jack finds the bagging supervisor but the airport’s raided and the bagger crunches down a cyanide capsule before Jack can shoot him in the thigh. Palmer’s phone call to Martha My Dear concerned a charity dinner but we’re the only ones who know presidential advisor Walt Didntcatchhislastname really altered it. Best line: “You are gonna tell me what I want to know. It’s just a question of how much you want it to hurt.”

Friday, January 13, 2006

Lost: The 23rd Psalm

Lost. 2.10. First, it has to be said that six weeks is too long to wait between new episodes. There. Now on with the show. Claire seemed to have chosen Aaron’s name for no particular reason but Eko knows the writers better than that. He tells us of the Biblical Aaron who spoke for his brother Moses and through the hour we see the parallels between Eko and his own brother, Yemi, whose priestly role he has assumed. Some themes are brought up again. Sacrifice: as a child, Eko sacrificed his future to save his brother’s. Stolen children: Much like The Others, the Nigerians were also stealing (or enlisting) children.

Charlie proclaims he’s lost and I second that. I don’t understand why Yemi called the military to stop the plane taking off. Seems he would have known they’d use guns to do so. Why would the missionaries have airplanes? We were never told why Eko was in Australia. For some unknown reason, the swirly black smoke monster showed him scenes of his life. So what did it show Locke? Did Eko purposely leave behind his “Jesus stick” after the encounter? Why would Locke and Michael waste a jar of perfectly good ranch salad dressing for target practice? How did Locke know or know how to crack the combination on the door?

Well, clearly Dom needs some tree climbing lessons from Evie. And Evie needs some haircutting tips from anyone. Good on Claire for kicking Charlie out. Best wisecrack was Sawyer’s “Yo yourself, Pillsbury” to Hurley, the doughboy, or boy with the dough. The commercial made me hope someday Sawyer will choose to call Kate “sugar pie honey bunch.” Next up: Michael goes commando and The Others get possessive of their little island.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Just asking...

If Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have a daughter, will they use the Paltrow Fruit Naming Method and chose to call her Peach, as in Peach Pitt?
About a week later: Jean suggests Mosh Pitt. Yup, that'll do.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

At the top of the dial

Last week Blogcritics had an article about what whoever wrote it considered some of the best last lines of songs. Before I read the list, the first one that popped in my poor brain was The Beatles song, “The End” which was mentioned. Without spending three weeks going through my entire record collection’s liner notes, here’s some I like:

“Creeque Alley” – Mamas and the Papas – “And California dreamin’ is becoming a reality.
“Subterranean Homesick Blues” – Bob Dylan – “The pump don’t work ‘cause the vandals took the handles.”
“My Old School” – Steely Dan – “I can’t seem to get to you through the U.S. mail.”
“Hotel California” – Eagles – “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”
“Supper’s Ready” – Genesis – “The Lord of Lords, King of Kings, has returned to lead his children home to take them to the New Jerusalem.”
“Vatnið” – Sálin – “Alltaf beið öldungurinn og siðan dó maðurinn.”
“Good Weather for Airstrikes” – Sigur Rós – “En það besta sem guð hefur skapað er nýr dagur.”
“White, Discussion” – Live – “Look where all this talking got us, baby.”
“London Calling” – Clash – “I never felt so much like…like…”
“Thunder Road” – Bruce Springsteen – “It’s a town for losers, I’m pulling out of here to win.”
“Whiter Shade of Pale” – Procol Harum – “Although my eyes were open, they might just as well’ve been closed.”
“Crystal Ship” – The Doors – “When we get back, I’ll drop a line.”

Saturday, January 07, 2006

No little events within the heart

Movie: Balzac and the Little Seamstress. Way back in the other century, when I was in college taking Russian History, my professor used to continually urge us students to, “Read, people! Read!” Throughout history one of the major forms of oppression has been the suppression of literature given to the masses. Certain forms of government become exceedingly paranoid of intellectuals and try to stamp them out one way or another. So my professor told us, since we had the freedom to read whatever we wanted, we should take advantage of it for the millions who do not have that privilege. In this movie, two sons of reactionary intellectuals (or more likely people with a middle class education) are placed in a labour camp to be “re-educated” (or dumbed down) during China’s Cultural Revolution. The camp is located in an isolated rural mountain village near the Yangtze River which provides the movie with gorgeous scenery and a tone that is probably far more idyllic than such an existence could have been in real life. While there, the young men fall for a charming, young girl whose life is changed when they begin reading her forbidden foreign literature. Sweet and bittersweet. And I learned chicken can be bourgeois. Who knew?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

She wrote me a letter

Movie: Broken Flowers. Bill Murray continues his quest for minimalism. A moody, slow moving piece with virtually no end payoff other than retrospection. And I’m guessing retrospection is the main theme of the movie. We’re told Murray’s character is or was quite the playboy, though there is no evidence of anything enigmatic or interesting about him. Rather, he’s turned into a couch potato. Juxtaposed against this is his neighbour’s idyllic family life that he lacks. Speaking as a hopelessly single person who keeps getting older every year, one tends to look at the potential lives one could have had that slipped by, for one reason or another, and how they had the potential to be so much more fulfilling than what little exists in the present. Murray’s neighbour Winston (played by excellent actor Jeffrey Wright who is once again brilliant) spurs him on a quest to find out if an anonymous letter he received is true and who wrote it. So he reflects on a handful of past relationships by visiting the women he was involved with. They mostly seem to have moved on and created lives for themselves while Murray has remained in the same rut, contributing nothing, leaving no legacy. Also worth pondering: if one’s name is associated with a certain type of person but one is unaware of that type, is one obligated to become that type?

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Wedding Bell Blues

Movie: Wedding Crashers. If it’s true that humour is generational, then I may be a little too old for this movie. Which isn’t to say I didn’t find a lot of it funny. The first third, in particular, was fast paced and exceptionally clever. The ideas of wagering over things like which clichéd Bible verse the couple has chosen or whether the bride is a crier, and how the Crashers insinuate themselves into these families by creating elabourate backstories were hilarious. As were their numerous Crasher Buddy Rules. But when Owen and Vince (advice to Ms Aniston: run Jen, run like the wind!) go home with a dysfunctional socialite family, each one of whom is more certifiable than the last, the movie takes an ugly, crass, crude and unacceptable turn. Are all millennium men stuck at age thirteen? So much promise, gone so fast. Anyway, some good lines: “The real enemy is the institution of marriage.” “Please don’t take a turn to Negative Town.” “I’m not picking on love because I don’t think friendship exists either.”