Sunday, November 23, 2008

In Pictures

I've recently become a fan of the Flickr Photo Blog - check out these shots from the Flatiron group, snow, or these peephole fisheye lens shots. There's this fascinating motherlode from the Life magazine archive, courtesy The Daily Dish. Those blue leaves are alas not mine, but still gorgeous (from Bostonist). Also, in addition to being such a cool cat, I didn't realize my old friend/roommate Mike Powers from my Stainerd days in Allston was such a great photographer.

Speaking of blasts from the past, check out Cassettes from my Ex. It's getting turned into a book soon but without the music (huh?), which means the blog with the songs posted is a much better way to check out this project. I have mixtapes but none from my exes, but maybe you do? They're collecting stories for the book so if you have one, drop me a line and I'll send on the directions.

There's some crazy statistic about how many fictional acts of violence we witness in a typical year if you watch an average amount of television. You can't help but become somewhat immune to it. That's why Danny Boyle's new "Slumdog Millionaire" was unique: I felt the enormity of the little violence there was. That's, of course, also the mark of good filmmaking: caring about the characters and what happens to them.

Anyway, "Slumdog Millionaire" was thoroughly enjoyable and had no song and dance numbers, for those of you averse, except for the ironic one at the end that felt like it was out of Dirty Dancing via Bollywood. I don't think it's a spoiler to say that boy meets girl, lots and lots of adversity happens, boy gets girl at the end. Even though you know that five minutes in, it's still a fun afternoon.

The End. (Hat tip to Boing Boing).

Thursday, November 13, 2008

True North

Weather VaneA few years ago Sarah Vowell pointed out this truism in "The Nerd Voice", an essay in "Partly Cloudy Patriot": it's the height of uncool to like learning in this country. The cool kids copy eachother's homework and are distinguished by how well they're able to get away with it. After high school, of course, the geeks all find each other and realize that they live more interesting lives anyway, but for 12 years, we live with the idea that you have to hide being interested in the past, the future and the world around you.

Welcome to Graduation Day Redux, boys and girls.

That's one of the developments I'm most looking forward to since the night DC exploded into cheers and honks and screams and high-fives and hugs: the geeks are out and proud again.

Two remarks that struck a cord:
  • As I walked to the White House the night of the election, the crowd was chanting "Pack yo' shit! Pack yo' shit! Pack yo' shit!"
  • My friend Emily's facebook status the next day: "Food tastes better, drinks are stronger, steps lighter, strangers nicer. It's like Mr. Rogers neighborhood."

  • As hopeful as I am about the coming four years, I'm dismayed to see the successful and accomplished Michelle Obama further morph in the public eye into mommy, fashion icon, and supportive wife. Hopefully, the fact that her husband seems to understand the compromises she's made will make a difference in domestic policy.

    In other explosive stuff, I keep coming across examples of high speed photography of stuff while it's exploding - vases with flowers, teddy bears and balloons. Beautiful.

    Also, I finally cleaned out my Netflix stash when I watched The Triplets of Belleville. It was a charming if occasionally slow animated film about a French kid who grows up into a Tour de France bike racer who gets kidnapped and later rescued by his grandmother and three fading stars of the French stage. The best part: when the tough, crusty, French grannies all turn out to be expert percussionists who play bicycle rims, newspapers, and their shoes with equal ease. It was beautifully rendered in an over-the-top caricature. Check out the trailer.

    Monday, November 3, 2008

    Inside Baseball

    The job that I moved to DC for was a tele-fundraising gig. I never made a single call, but I managed other people in their calls to raise money for various progressive causes. I'll admit to being a chickenshit - the fear of mean strangers on the other end of the line does me in - so it only seems a fair comeuppance that I made some calls for Obama over the last week. For all my skittishness though, they went really well. The first round of calls was to potential volunteers who were so pleased to hear from the campaign and eager to help. The second round was to NH voters who'd probably been taking these calls for weeks. The only notable call was to a woman who said she wasn't going to vote, maybe because I called for her ex-husband? Was it something I said?

    I am indubitably and undoubtedly obsessed with the election. Between the current frenzy and Richard Ben Cramer's "What It Takes", my life has been taken over by one election or another. No wonder I'm watching Alias Season 4 for fun.

    "What It Takes" is an inside-baseball look at Bush I, Dole, Dukakis, Gephardt, Hart, and Biden, their 1988 Presidential campaigns, and the modern political process. Reading it has been akin to watching the elections play out from both sides of the looking glass: 1988 from inside the election with a candidates-eye-view and 2008 from outside the election albeit from the most plugged in place in the country and in a time when it's easier to be plugged in. I'm more than ready to move on, but it's been fascinating getting a fuller picture of the characters in the play, many of whom are still around.

    I now need something thoroughly frivolous to read. Maybe I'll catch up on my unread Buffy Season 8 comic books or Y: The Last Man?

    In other randomness, I caught DC's High Heel Race and went to a couple of Halloween parties, including Puck's birthday party, but I punked out of putting together a real Halloween costume this year. Got a fabulous idea in waiting for future years though.

    I leave you with this awesomeness. Off to distract myself and see Federal Reserve Collective tonight...toodles.