Thursday, October 28, 2010
the gist? larry tribe, in a letter to president obama, recommended against sonia sotomayor. why?
"Bluntly put," Tribe said, "she's not nearly as smart as she seems to think she is, and her reputation for being something of a bully could well make her liberal impulses backfire and simply add to the fire power of the" conservative wing of the court.
don't believe me? see here.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Hey, errbody. Basketball is back (almost), which means the haters are too. So enjoy the video above. Btw, Duke scored 141 in an exhibition game yesterday. That is many points! They're totally gay.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Baby Anonymous, Sugar Pockets and I attended yesterday's Treasure Island Music Festival, on, well, Treasure Island, an otherwise sleepy naval base beneath the Bay Bridge in the Bay between Oakland and San Francisco. Baby A caught the She & Him set, seemed to like it, then took a nap. (Babies are weird like that.) She and Pockets had to bail shortly thereafter to make her bed time, leaving me to Broken Social Scene, Surfer Blood, The National and Belle & Sebastian.
Above is the National's rendition of "Conversation 16," which they introduced thusly: "This song is about marriage...and eating brains." These guys may not be the best band in indie world, or the most ambitious, or the most talented, but they are making a serious play to be a part of that conversation. They put on a stunning set of serious, weighty multi-instrumental indie rock, accompanied by a heart-rendingly sincere baritone. "Fall asleep in your branches," the singer pours out. "You're the only thing I ever want anymore."
I stayed till the end of the Belle & Sebastian set, and schlepped it home with a friend, a harrowing trek involving shuttle, foot and BART train. I came home to Baby A, who was already asleep, of course, which is too bad because it's my branches she usually falls asleep in.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
i'm not much of an animal buff. i've never owned a pet and i find the anthropomorphization of animals a little creepy. with that out of the way, the cove won the oscar this year for best feature-length documentary. i will not hazard a guess as to whether this film deserved that award since i think the oscars are kind of useless (except as the basis for yet another pool i will lose), and i didn't watch the other nominees. nonetheless, even an ignoramus like me can see that this film is very well-crafted: suspenseful storyline, compelling characters, beautiful scenery, all with a dramatic-without-being-overwhelming score.
the central character was a dolphin trainer who trained the original flipper--or shall i say flippers, since five different dolphins played the part. he greatly regrets his role in popularizing the capturing and training of dolphins for human entertainment. he tears up on several occasions when remarking on the intelligence and sensitivity of dolphins, and why they must not be kept captive. thus, he is now a full-time activist. his aim is to end the dolphin trade in taiji, a small fishing village in japan.
unbeknownst to me, the dolphin trade is very lucrative; one live bottlenosed dolphin can fetch around $150,000. for this reason, taiji is extremely insular and shuns any outsiders who seek to substantiate rumors that the local fishermen regularly slaughter thousands of unsold dolphins in a secret cove. long story short, the documentary traces a team of activists who are determined to draw attention to this act by obtaining visual proof of the slaughter.
the larger problem, beyond the sheer cruelty of the killings, is that dolphin meat is sold throughout japan for human consumption. often, the meat is disguised as whale meat, a coveted commodity. more alarmingly, taiji officials are trying to convince school districts to serve dolphin meat as part of their compulsory lunch programs.
this gives the filmmakers an opportunity to weave in the destructive effects of human actions. we have overfished many species to near-extinction; our disregard for the ecosystem at large means that the largest ocean-dwellers are full of mercury, and by consuming them, we are, in fact, slowly poisoning ourselves.
those are the film's brightest and most compelling spots.
on the flip side, i grew very uncomfortable at how the japanese were portrayed. the activists wryly note that they are all white and, as a result, very conspicuous in this remote japanese town. (was this an unanticipated problem? why didn't they attempt to recruit at least one asian person to their team?) the japanese fishermen's inability to speak english is mocked more than once, although you never see the team of white activists even attempting to speak anything other than english.
the activists dismiss any notions of the alleged "cultural importance" of this practice. to underscore this point, they interview japanese people in the streets of tokyo about this ritualized dolphin slaughter. the interviewees are shocked upon hearing this news, and emphasize that this is not accepted practice in japan. you have to wonder, though, would any japanese person admit to a white, english-speaking camera crew that they not only knew about this, but also condone it?
the filmmakers do show how implacable the locals are, and there is footage of the activists' attempts to cajole and negotiate with those in taiji. indeed, the fishermen rejected the activists' offer to compensate them with an amount equal to their profits from the dolphin trade. nonetheless, the activists' generally defiant and arrogant attitude makes you wonder whether those attempts were made in good faith.
there is no question that the systemic slaughter of any sentient being is cruel. however, an aggravating sense of superiority among the activists emerges throughout the film. one of the activists notes with condescension that the japanese fishermen are probably unaware of just how intelligent bottlenosed dolphins are, and this may explain their cavalier actions. the activists almost seem to affirm the most negative stereotypes about americans: they are smug, domineering and blind to their own shortcomings. no matter how repugnant the act may be, other countries don't seem to feel entitled to invade america to film how it treats its own animals, especially those kept and slaughtered for human consumption.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
so...i went to a caps game over the weekend. yes, this is a hockey reference. no, i will not talk about just hockey this entire post (party poopers), except to say that there were no less than four fights in the last five minutes of the game and that i somehow got free box seats. who knew that working at a nonprofit would yield such rewards? anyway, being at the game reminded me that i sometimes miss canada and maybe even canadians.
for example, ever hear of "men with brooms"? actual plot summary:
Paul Gross stars as the leader of a recently reunited curling team from a small Canadian town. This offbeat comedy follows the team as they work through their respective life issues and struggle to win the championship for the sake of their late coach.
who's paul gross? and how can this not mention leslie nielson, Hilarious Canadian?
tagline? "a comedy that will sweep you off your feet!" laughing out loud.
second, "battle of the blades." think dancing with the stars, except hockey players, figure skaters, and, of course, ice. Rectangular Shoe Aficionado dick button was a judge in the first season, and they've now enlisted jeremy roenick, Major Whiner and Non-Canadian.
theme song? "there will never be another tonight" by bryan adams. laughing out louder.
you know, the internet continues to enlighten. the above youtube ad features bob probert and tie domi, whose best known collaboration prior to the above gathering was this.
this blog post is so symmetrical. circle of life and the wheel of fortune.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Help me. I can't stop watching this. Also, the slowed down beat reminds me of that G Love and Special Sauce album I bought in 1994 because I was 16, unable to think for myself, and thought girls would think I was cool if I was into shitty music. That album was of course a gateway disc to other forms of douchebaggery I confess I partook in for a while. (Cargo pants!) But then I got to college and a kid on my hallway freshman year gave me a copy of that first Neutral Milk Hotel album and I was, like, Wait, What the fuck is happening? Music can be good??
If you think about it, it's actually kind of weird that Tony Danza has waited this long to cash in on his pseudo celebrity. I mean he's the consummate ham-fisted hasbeen we loutish, bulk-buying Americans love to favor with a second act. If you scour our collective unconscious, I'm sure you--or Leonardo DiCaprio--could find recessed memories of Tony Danza doing a stint on the second season of Dancing with the Amazing Idols. But the truth is, as E and I recently discussed, Danza has waited until now to unleash his realness on our TV sets.
Above is a clip from Teach: Tony Danza. Now I don't know when or what channel this show comes on. This is because I am an adult human with a job and familial responsibilities. I cannot spend my evenings with Tony Danza. I am 32. I have a 2001 Toyota Corolla that needs to have its oil changed, and there is laundry to fold. Boardwalk Empire is not going to watch itself. Still, I did want to comment on the above clip. While I assume Teach is a dumb, exploitative show in which Tony Danza attempts each episode to quote his own sitcom character whenever the opportunity arises or doesn't, the above clip is actually sort of dead on -- shockingly so. It's actually "real' in the way reality is real and not just a bizarre simulacrum of reality, packaged by a corporation and sold to us like a bag of Cheetos.
One of the most frustrating things about being a rookie teacher in a pubic school like Tony Danza's and like the one I worked in is how many middling bureaucrats and administrators there are out there who want nothing more in life than to lecture you about picking up your roster or punching in. Oh, Ms. De Naples, you punctilious minx, I knew her when.
Monday, October 4, 2010
Republicans running for governor in a handful of states could block, or significantly delay, one of President Obama’s signature initiatives: his plan to expand the passenger rail system and to develop the nation’s first bullet-train service.
agh. so so infuriating. oh well. considering my obsession with public transportation and complete lack of desire to ever own a car, i am probably a communist.