Tuesday, January 29, 2008

"I have my books..."

My reading list is remarkably similar to Art Garfunkel's:

The King of Reading

I couldn't be more pleased!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Two little Oscar addenda thingies

The Bad News
Well, I found out why There Will Be Blood is not nominated for Original Score, and it saddens me immensely. Jonny Greenwood's brilliant compositions, used to such powerful effect, such stirring, amazing, musical moments...well, they were "diluted by pre-existing music" and thus disqualified by the Academy. Greatly, greatly saddened am I. I suppose he could have been considered to have composed an Original Song instead? Or do they have time limits for those? Argh. Besides then I suppose Enchanted would have had to sacrifice one of its three spots in the song category. Jesus.

The Good News
Michael Moore rules! In his latest newsletter he thanks everyone who's congratulated him on Sicko being nominated for Best Documentary Feature. He says that every reporter calling him this week has asked him whether, if he wins, he will make another anti-war speech. Remember 2003 when he said he makes non-fiction films but we live in a fictitious time with a fictitious president who takes us into his war for fictitious reasons? I loved it. You'll notice, as Mike points out in this newsletter, that whereas five years ago he was critiqued by many, this year three of the five Documentary Feature nominees are about how f**ked the Iraq war is. Well, well, well. I don't want to say "we told you so"...so I'll just go back now to watching Snakes on a Plane.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Oscar nominations today! I'm at school* so this will just be a quick take on my thoughts, with further detailed analysis in the next few weeks. And by the way, all you striking writers, actors in solidarity, et. al? Yeah, how about you try to remember this oldie but goodie: The show must go on!

(*normally I wouldn't be at school because I don't have classes on Tuesday, but because of the multiple Monday holidays this semester, Hofstra turned today into a Monday, so I had to come to school for my Monday 8 a.m. class toDAY, which meant I could not be home on my couch watching the live announcement of the Oscar noms. instead I was sitting in Constitutional Law. where I tried to watch the live stream on Oscar.com -- with headphones, duh -- but despite installing the plug-in it still didn't work. however, i chatted online with Brian who informed me as it happened. because, no, for your information, getting the news posted online twenty minutes later would not be soon enough, thank you very much. O brave new world, that has such university-wide wireless networks in it!)

There Will Be Blood! It well deserves to lead the pack, tied with No Country for Old Men at eight nominations, although it is absolutely criminal that Blood did not get a ninth nomination for best original score. It was the most haunting, original, effective, amazing music I've heard in a movie in some time, possibly ever.

Instead, Atonement and Ratatouille get nominated for score? Hello? I am officially annoyed by pretty much all of Atonement's seven nominations, with the possible exception of cinematography (which category it decidedly needs to lose to The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, no offense to There Will Be Blood), and I would hereby commit to working full-time on the Atonement backlash if I weren't so busy working on my Juno backlash. I saw Atonement, and it is my official UGH of the year. It's this year's In the Bedroom. And even though I have yet to see Ratatouille, although I have it at home from Netflix, it is just ugh by association because it's from someone who was also responsible for The (not-so) Incredibles.

Meanwhile, hello, let's just not nominate Into the Wild for picture, nor director (Sean Penn!) nor actor (Emile Hirsch!) nor song (Eddie Vedder!) but let's nominate Juno for best picture and director. And let's nominate THREE songs from Enchanted. Really? Planet backlash.

This is still one of my top three films of the year. It is SO unbelievably good. It had one of the single most compelling scenes I have ever seen on film, entirely due to its amazing cinematography and visual brilliance. It also had a spectacular script. Which did not get nominated, maybe because there were about eighty-six good movies based on books this year among the contenders, so the adapted screenplay category can ALMOST be forgiven for leaving Assassination out. ALMOST. It was a better script than No Country for Old Men, and far superior to Atonement. UGH! No one can explain why they like that film. I swear they are just being told it's fantastic and they'll love it, so then they do. It's the Obama of Oscar contenders. Furthermore, poor Casey is in like the most amazing line-up of all time in the Supporting Actor category, so I'm pretty sure he will lose, and I'm OK with that, because Hal Holbrook! (From Into the Wild...at least someone's brilliance was recognized for that film! It got nominated for Editing, too, actually.) And Javier Bardem, of course (No Country), which will be a shock to everyone if he doesn't win. But I'm telling you, Hal and Philip Seymour Hoffman in the fantastic and tragically overlooked Charlie Wilson's War are strong competition.

It, along with Into the Wild, should have been nominated for best picture, instead of Juno and Atonement. It is also yet another that should have been nominated for Adapted Screenplay.

But while all these books were adapted into screenplays, the Original Screenplay category is clearly all about Juno. And I would be supportive of that except I'm already over Juno. Diablo Cody (who invented that name for herself, a move which as Brian has repeatedly pointed out exemplifies all the reasons why Juno backlash is justified, although I'm more annoyed at all the people who love it! oh my god! so much! who apparently have never seen a film with an edgy but well-written script before. Try looking past the latest mainstream action blockbuster and walking down the hall to an independent film once in a while, people) ... um ... actually after that parenthetical rant I forgot what I was initially going to say about Diablo Cody. But it was probably that her good screenplay aside, her writing is decidedly mediocre in her new Entertainment Weekly column. Diablo, get over yourself, and everybody else, get over Diablo. Ready, go! On Oscar night I will hope for an upset and then maybe the Original Screenplay Oscar will go to Lars and the Real Girl or even Michael Clayton. A girl can dream.

Sicko got nominated for Documentary Feature! Hurrah! However, I fear it might lose to No End in Sight. That was OK, but it was kind of like watching a PBS new show about the Iraq war. Also, it wasn't all that surprising or new to people such as myself who have a brain, because it basically thoroughly documents that Bush & company have been lying and doing shady underhanded things about the war from the beginning. Gee, ya think? Unfortunately, there are apparently STILL millions of you out there who somehow don't know this. Why don't you know this? Why didn't you know it in 2004? Why didn't you know it in 2002? You amaze me. No End in Sight is this year's An Inconvenient Truth, on many, many levels. Only minus the lesbian-with-guitar. It also proves that if you would just listen to me, you could be ahead of the curve on not only political issues, but Oscar nominations to boot.

Which means you really should get behind me on the Atonement backlash. Even though I think it would be funny if Saoirse Ronan won supporting actress, since Keira and James didn't even get nominated, I am officially hoping for no wins for Atonement, especially because Cate Blanchett needs to win for I'm Not There, which was also an amazing film, unless Amy Ryan blows me away in Gone Baby Gone, which I haven't seen yet but is saved in my Netflix queue for when it releases on DVD next month.

Back to schoolwork now...man, I really shouldn't have to be at school on a religious holiday such as this...

Monday, January 21, 2008

I still don't get it

Hmmm. Kim D. sort of mostly got my point, Joyce less so. I think this could be my fault, so I will attempt to clarify: I'm not saying "why did Jesus have to die?" I am saying, how ever does dying translate into saving others and giving them life?

I mean, it sounds like we're talking about meat. In meat I see how it works: something dies, and by that death we live.

In Christianity, I am just not getting it. I am so down with Jesus Christ the person, who lived and died, and all his goodness. He definitely was an enlightened person (and I don't necessarily use "enlightened" in the buddhist sense, although it could apply). But I would hasten to point out that the Romans crucified a lot of people. Jesus was hardly alone. Famously, he wasn't even alone that day, what with reassuring the thief next to him this was just a "see ya later" and all.

So out of all the people to be crucified, this one saves us. HOW?

EVEN IF you are saying "It's because He is God's son..." "He gave his life for us..." (greater love hath no man, etc.) "He was half divine...." I am saying EVEN IF I accepted those statements, then HOW this dying-for-us business?

Come on, someone's got to see that this is at least as wacky as the Mormon notion of everyone eventually getting their own world to populate.

This is not about "why did s/he have to die?" Everyone has to die. (And pay taxes.) This is, why are you ascribing random consequences to this death?

I mean, MLK Jr died, eh. Today we remember this. But no random consequences of his death. Rather, decidedly less random consequences of his LIFE are what I consider to be his legacy.

I now have two things I am just waiting for someone to explain to me satisfactorily: this and Obama.

I shall keep waiting....

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Why Jesus is confusing

OK, please note that I am in a random state of mind right now, so I totally started thinking about this in a weird manner. I was curled up on the couch in closed-eye bliss when a character in the movie (to which I'm not paying attention) said "cavalry." For some reason my brain seized upon it and I started saying "cavalry" over and over in my head. Then I started saying "Calvary. Cavalry. Calvary. Cavalry." I've always been fixated on how similar those words are. As a child I had to often say them both before I figured out which word I wanted.

So there I was in my head thinking about sending in the cav-cav-cavalry, and about CaLvary/hiLL, and I started thinking about Jesus dying there on Calvary, "for us," as the story goes. So I lay here thinking about this bloody, violent death by crucifixion and all the world has done with it. (I told you I'm in a weird state of mind, just accept that.) Here's the thing: this used to puzzle me when I was younger, too, but you're supposed to just kind of suspend your disbelief, I guess. Right now I'm not in a disbelief suspending mood, though, and my inquiring mind wants to know.

How does Jesus die, for us? What I mean is, how is it for us? Even if you buy the legend. You've got crazy Roman colonial terrorists occupying Judea or whatever and they crucify this Jesus of Nazareth. So, how does that become for my sins? What is the deal? I mean, like I said, even if you are into the whole atonement, forgiveness, repent for your sins, God loves us, blabbity blabbity blah.

The whole thing just doesn't make any sense. I mean, he's up there bleeding and suffocating and starving on a cross, and then dies. What on earth has that got to do with me? How does his blood do anything? I am not asking for some faithful testimony about how much it means to someone that Jesus saved him/her. That won't answer my question. I'm asking how is it even SUPPOSED to work? Like, God is sitting around saying, "Boy do I love these crazy wayward humans o' mine. But they're really messed up. Hey, I know! We'll have Jesus die. That way, humans can be forgiven and have eternal life." Huh?

How does that give me or anyone eternal life? How does that even make sense? Seriously. My poor little brain has been puzzling over this. Nails + blood = forgiveness? It seems so arbitrary. Like, what if I said, "Hmmm, this is a problem, I have a bad grade in law school. I know! We'll have the subway drivers play poker and one will end up with all the chips by the end of the night. Then, we can be better off!" It's so random! I mean, how does nailing anyone -- human, divine, or otherwise -- help anything? What does it even mean?

I'm serious. I don't get it. And here's a final thought: all these right-wing Christian, Protestant, or evangelical sorts are questioning whether Mitt Romney can be the President, what with him being a Mormon and all, and I've seen more than a few articles explaining the Mormons' weird beliefs. But, um, where exactly do they get off? I think they'd best stick to explaining their own fundamental Christian belief. Why do people who think nailing someone to a cross all of a sudden makes everyone else acceptable to be in God's presence get to call anyone else's belief bizarre?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A wintry mix

Oh, the joys of school. Winter break has come to an end and a new semester is upon us. The weirdest thing about that is -- get this! -- I'm halfway through law school. That's right, 1.5 years down, 1.5 to go.

It has gone by fast, yet I'm really used to this lifestyle. Law school is definitely something with which one can have a love/hate relationship. But what trips me out the most is thinking that exactly two years ago I had not even applied to Hofstra! Weirdness. Twenty months ago I was still in Korea. Eighteen months ago was my first time on Long Island. And so on.

Today, of course, was one of those days on which one is forced to ponder one's choices vis-a-vis law school, to think long and hard about what one is doing here, to consider what it all means. I refer, of course, to the day on which we have found out our last semester's grades.

I do so fondly recall one year ago, when I received my first ever law school grades, and they decidedly Did Not Suck. Neither semester since then has been quite as stellar, but I must say I have yet to find any rhyme or reason to the grades I get. Most of my classmates and I have found the same phenomenon. We think a final was easy and clear, and we get a B-minus. (Or worse. ) A final makes us want to stick our head in the oven, and it's an A-minus. Who's to say? Maybe this guy has it right after all.

This time around, I had one pleasant surprise, one unpleasant surprise, a couple sighs of relief, a couple could-be-betters. The funny thing is, I find myself not caring about the grades themselves whatsoever. I just want scholarship money. What a change from the competitive scholar I was in high school and most of undergrad! I don't see our law school grades as reflecting our intelligence, how much we learned in the class, or even necessarily how hard we worked. None of us do. What exactly do they reflect? No one knows. When we find out, surely the jig is up. That's why they keep it from us. To keep the racket that is law school going endlessly on...

What I want to know is this: is it a coincidence that on grade revelation day -- which is a day that makes me feel annoyed, relieved, frustrated, pensive, hopeful, hopeless, and broke all at once -- suddenly "why go to law school?" and "what to do with my life?" e-mails and thoughts start flooding my inbox? That suddenly people are crawling out of the woodwork with their "OH I just saw this thing about what it's all worth incurring all that debt for a degree and thought of you..." Thanks a lot, people! On today of all days!

Coming soon, though, I will tell you all about my new semester, which promises to be busy and exciting. The theme of the semester is immigration. Interestingly, someone casually implied to me that I don't generally/often/as a matter of course think about immigration issues. I daresay that person was wrong. It's all I think about. I want everyone in this country to get over their fear of immigrants, for starters. I am excited for this semester's theme. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Live free or cry

Oh my god, are we still talking about this? Really? So tears welled in Hillary Rodham Clinton's eyes the other day and no one can stop analyzing it. And this is on public radio, by the way, and not some squawking TV crap channel that generally acts as a mouthpiece for the Bush-Cheney-Rice et. al. war machine.

Um - do I really need to point out the obvious here? If tears well in the eyes of Barack Obama, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, or even Mitt Romney (wait, do robots cry?) then everyone would say, look how passionately patriotic he is. If John Edwards shed a tear everyone would probably say he feels so much compassion for his wife, etc. If Bush weeped, surrounded by soldiers and their weapons of mass destruction, everyone would slap their hands over their hearts.

Gee, what makes Clinton different from any of them?

You might also consider why you refer to her alone among the politicians by first name only. (Not that she isn't as terribly cool as Cher, Oprah, and Madonna...but I digress.)

Allow me to quote Meg Ryan as Captain Walden in Courage Under Fire, when the tears came: "It's just tension. It don't mean shit!"

(*spoiler alert* But they let her die anyway. Denzel couldn't save her...)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

There Will Be Oscars

Since my post of a few days ago, we saw There Will Be Blood. It was stunning and I will be pleased if it wins, among other things, Best Picture. The score was stunning, like nothing you've heard before. If it doesn't win the original score Oscar, it will be a tragedy.

An even bigger tragedy will be if there is no Oscar ceremony at all. Maybe you've heard that the Golden Globe winnners will be announced this Sunday in a press conference because of this damn writers' strike. I am all kinds of annoyed. I can't even talk about it. I'm just livid and I want these people to work their crap out. Strike against creative content for new shows, if you must, but let the awards ceremonies go on! UGH. Cut off your nose to spite your face much?

I'm actually, honestly, possibly even more distraught about Awards season and the loss of the Golden Globes than I am about election season and the loss to this fool nation if you don't put Hillary in office.

I have officially, therefore, lost faith in just about everybody. If in one week, Hollywood, D.C., Iowa, and New Hampshire let me down? Time to flee the country again, I suppose.

But I title this blog post with the audacity of my own hope...

Spare the change

Let me just be clear from the beginning: I think there are many of you out there who will not vote for Hillary Clinton because you do not want to vote for a woman, and you should be ashamed of yourselves.

The scariest thing is that for most of you, this is subconscious. You don't actively think that you don't want to vote for a woman, it's just embedded in our culture. Every talking, squawking head goes on and on about how Hillary Clinton is "divisive" "scripted" "tough persona" "gasp-what-does-it-mean-she-showed-emotion" "bitch" etc. Every right-wing conspirator has babbled on about how "America" "could never" vote for her. And in their Prozac hazes, many United Statesians believed that and said, Oh, I couldn't? Oh, right, OK, I couldn't. I won't, then.

As usual, the wisest words in the issue have come from Gloria Steinem: Women Are Never Front Runners (Note particularly the part where she writes, "What worries me...")

While everyone rambles on the campaign trail about change, Dave Barry may have offered up some of the most salient words on the issue: Will Change do you good? He's writing from New Hampshire this week. This whole thing is freaking me out. I hate pollsters, "double-digit leads," and so on, but all last fall I also hated everyone who kept reporting in this sort of mystified way that Hillary Clinton was in the lead and was becoming a "sure" thing. I knew that would backfire. Do I believe in jinxes? Sometimes. But I also believe in vast right wing conspiracies, having been the victim of one myself before, so there you go.

"Change." Obama bases his campaign for the Democratic nomination on change. That seems silly to me. He should be distinguishing himself from other Democrats at this point. Of COURSE there's going to be a change once Bush is FINALLY removed from the White House. It's going to be a change from a psychotic, murderous, megalomaniac to a more thoughtful, rational person. Even if (forbid forbid forbid) Romney or Giuliani got in there it would be a more thoughtful, rational person. Dubya is a terrible, terrible blot on humanity and his presidency has been alternatively evil or an absurd joke, and sometimes both at once. There is no one else out there remotely like the Bush-oil-wealth-connected-Daddy's-warmongers machine. OF COURSE there will be a change. I'm with you, Dave Barry. It's absurd to base a campaign on that.

I'm still waiting for someone -- anyone -- to tell me why we shouldn't have Hillary Clinton now and Barack Obama in 2016, but no one seems to be able to tell me that. Obama supporters generally answer that question with something terribly off-topic.

I feel immense frustration, and it reminds me of 2004. And something else that reminds me of 2004, I just heard some New Hampshire voter interviewed on the radio who is "undecided" as I write this at 10:34 a.m. My response is, really? You're really undecided? How is that even possible? I would really like to get inside the mind of an undecided voter, just for once. And just to visit, I might add. I don't want to stay there. I just want to understand how you can really be "undecided"? And as Brian pointed out as I just ranted about that, how then do you decide? What happens in that moment when you step into the polling booth? Do you hear some slogan at the last minute and base everything on that? Fascinating.

Anyway, back in 2004 I volunteered on Kerry's doomed campaign and lived in Massachusetts. This led to a lot of assumptions about me, chief among them that I was a Democrat and that I was an advocate of same-sex marriage. True or not, assumptions are dangerous. (I actually spent most of my time in Mass. registered Green, by the way, though I have *not* voted for Nader in any general election...) And at that time I was baffled by undecided voters, but still not attacking them as people.

One day, around political convention time that summer, I received e-mails from THREE family members in the space of a week that said they were none too fond of Bush but had not yet "decided" if they could/would vote for Kerry. This horrified me, because at that point Kerry was the only sane choice. Now, you can go on about how there should be more choices (duh, unlike many of you I have long hated the two-party system) or you can question what "good" it does to cast a vote "against" a candidate instead of for? For whatever that's worth, when we reached August 2004, we had only one choice to make: Bush or Kerry. More Bush, or no more Bush. CHANGE, indeed. I couldn't believe people related to me were actually considering voting for Bush, and so I told them so, in what I thought was a terribly clever "Dear Family" e-mail. I said, "Dear Family, Please come out of the closet. If there are any more of you secretly harboring I-can't-decide-whether-to-vote-for-Kerry desires, just tell me now. After three such revelations this week I can't take any more surprises..."

I apparently no longer have that original e-mail, but I received a slew of responses to it from family members, most of them angry, although not all. So then I responded to those, and I do have my response, which I share now partly to recollect a time when the choice was clear and yet this fool country couldn't figure it out, a time when no one believed me that Hillary was going to run in 2008...change indeed.

Here's that e-mail, if anyone wants to reminisce...the allusions to algebra, etc. are from a prior discussion...

from Linda Napikoski
date Aug 3, 2004 8:33 PM
subject Top 10
mailed-by gmail.com

hide details 8/3/04 Reply

1. "Dear Family, Please come out of the closet.." was a metaphor.
They don't have those in algebra, but they do have letters that
represent numbers.

2. Same-sex marriage is quite possibly the least important issue to me
in this election.

3. Don't forget, oh ye in McCain territory, that my friend Mercy and I
went the distance. We temporarily registered Republican to vote for
McCain (and, well, against Bush) in the 2000 California primary!
Alas, to no avail.


5. Oh my goodness. What if JOHN MCCAIN and HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON ran
for president in 2008?!! I would clone myself so I could vote twice.

6. I challenge you to find what I said against people who haven't decided yet.
(I believe the part of my e-mail that mentioned that was the part that
said "I'm OK with people who haven't decided yet whom to vote for").
And if your opinion scares me I am totally allowed to tell you your
opinion scares me, especially if I am scared three times in one week.

7. What I did say was that the following sentiment bothers me:
"Wow, I don't like Bush and I think he is psychotic/a fool/fascist
but you know one day I heard that John Kerry left his bicycle out in
the rain when he was ten years old and so I just don't know if I can
vote for him, I mean, hello? He neglected his bicycle. I don't know
anything else he's done but that just gives me a bad feeling."

8. For all who referenced: "two sides," "both sides," "either one,"
"the left and right" etc. I don't like false dichotomies. Most
dichotomies are false. I don't believe in dividing issues into two
and only two sides, I don't like the two party system, and what looks
black and white is really a mix of lots of colors. I don't like
"you're either for us or against us" etc.

9. Isn't avoiding debates for the sake of avoiding debates just like
starting debates for the sake of starting debates? Or is that the
ultimate paradox, asking that question? But I wouldn't know because
I don't start debates for the sake of starting debates. I just say
things that sometimes upset people instead of specifically not saying
anything when something might upset people.
9a. Is it a coincidence that participation in the e-debates is
directly proportional to the amount of e-mails sent in general on the
family gang e-mail? If someone hates debates (<---rhyme, rhyme,
rhyme, I love it) so much, why not e-mail about something else --ever?

10. I don't really have a tenth thing to say. Oh yeah I do. I'm
going to be e-mail-less for large portions of August while in D.C.
Can you all send things to my much-more-storage gmail.com
account instead of Hotmail now? Thanks.

who did student government, mock trial AND speech & debate club in high
school in addition to algebra

p.s. #5 above contained sarcasm

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Your favorite blogs

OK, so I'm not one of those mad blog readers. I don't check in with a bazillion blogs every day; in fact, much like with television and YouTube, I often find blogs I come across to be frankly not that interesting. However, also like television and YouTube, I'm sure there is much that I'm missing solely for not having yet come across it. (Maybe not so much with the YouTube.)

Instead of being a blogophile, I tend to read the same dozen or so blogs regularly and frequently, with a few that I check regularly but infrequently, and then of course all my friends who blog on MySpace. (That counts, it's just part of my "MySpacing" in my head, rather than my "blog reading." Different life categories, I tell you.) Unfortunately, several of the friends whose blogs I adore reading are in serious dry spells right now. (You know who you are.)

And so, I decided, what better time to ask everyone to suggest to me a blog or blogs I should be reading?

Here, or via email, or whatever, tell me your favorite blog or two that I'm absolutely missing out on. I kind of would prefer personality-driven general bloggage, but I'm open to considering specialty/subject matter. There are some things I don't want, however. No crafts only blogs (I must admit my eyes start to glaze over when it becomes all about stitch-n'-bitching), no more "all about me parenting my fabulously cute kid" especially if it involves multiple stories about bodily functions, and no photos only blogs. Actually, I don't mind suggestions for photography blogs, but suggest me something to READ, too. OK? Thanks.

New Year, new blogs!

(And to those of you neglecting your blogs, may I suggest a new year's resolution...?)

Friday, January 04, 2008

In which Linda passes judgment on the films of 2007 (the ones that she has seen)

As I make my way through this year's winter break (aka "21 Days, 21 Movies"), I see that it is high time to check in and report to the blog faithful some of my thoughts on the films of 2007.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Into the Wild
Charlie Wilson's War

The Treatment
I'm Not There
Lars and the Real Girl

American Gangster
Away From Her
3:10 to Yuma
La Vie En Rose
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
The Simpsons Movie
Meeting Resistance
The Wind That Shakes the Barley
Michael Clayton

No Country For Old Men
Eastern Promises
Sweeney Todd
No End in Sight
Avenue Montaigne


Death at a Funeral
The Brave One
Lions for Lambs

28 Weeks Later
We Own the Night

I Am Legend