Sunday, January 27, 2008

Book Club

R and I have discussed starting a kids' book club. I think it's on its way to existence. In the meantime, here's a list of 100 books every child should read, according to the Brits. I think I found this via kottke.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Sex in the 1820s and 1960s

I've very much enjoyed the Jane Austen series on PBS. This is PBS's attempt to reinvent itself, and I think I like it. They even kept a tiny bit of the Masterpiece Theater song. At any rate, I finally watched Northanger Abbey today, and the NYT was right that in many ways it's better as a movie than a book. A lot of that may be thanks to Andrew Davies, who adapted it as well as he does all Brit lit. But also, as NYT says, Northanger Abbey is more explicitly about sex than any of the other Austen novels. This is nice, since sex in most Austen novels is tucked away or relegated to roguish men and silly young girls who almost ruin their families and middle-aged couples who find themselves in ill-matched loveless marriages. It turns out, in Northanger Abbey, that normal people want to have sex.

In my random schizophrenic way, this reminds me of my recent realization that something like 20 percent of oldies are songs trying to convince some chick to have sex. I mean of course guys join bands to get laid. And they write love songs to get laid. But apparently they used to say so in their love songs. And apparently they included lyrics where they tried to convince women that they really shouldn't worry about the repercussions of having sex. You know repercussions like having their reputations ruined, or getting pregnant, or catching stds, or whatever else "tomorrow" might bring. Since the "today's" in these songs were in the mid-sixties when the birth control pill had just been or not yet legalized in all states, and abortions weren't legal, and welfare was actively being stigmatized, I have to ask-- Did this work? I mean obviously people had sex, but I think I'd be pissed if I was fed this kind of bullshit before I decided to have sex. Spare me, you know? That said, they're pretty good songs. Just further evidence that good art sometimes has wonky politics. (Maybe another time I'll talk about how another 40 percent are about what cheating sluts ex-girlfriends are).

Anyway, my evidence: The Grass Roots' song "Live for Today":
We were never meant to worry the way that people do
And I don't need to hurry as long as I'm with you
We'll take it nice and easy and use my simple plan
You'll be my lovin' woman, I'll be your lovin' man
We'll take the most from living, have pleasure while we can (2-3-4)
Sha-la-la-la-la-la, live for today
Sha-la-la-la-la-la, live for today
And don't worry 'bout tomorrow, hey, hey, hey
Sha-la-la-la-la-la, live for today
Live for today
Baby, I need to feel you inside of me
I got to feel you deep inside of me
Baby please come close to me
I got to have you now, please, please, please
Gimme some-a lovin', gimme some-a lovin'
Gimme some-a lovin', gimme some-a lovin'
Baby gimme some-a lovin'
(I also love how gender-bender this is).


the lyrics to The Four Tops' Baby I Need Your Loving:
Baby, I need your lovin'
I got to have all your lovin'
Baby, I need your lovin'
Got to have all your lovin'


the Beach Boys' Don't Talk:
Come close, close your eyes and be still
Dont talk, take my hand and let me hear your heart beat
Being here with you feels so right
We could live forever tonight
Lets not think about tomorrow
And dont talk put your head on my shoulder

or Gary Puckett and the Union Gap's Lady Willpower:
Lady Willpower, it's now or never.
Give your love to me and I'll shower
Your heart with tenderness endlessly.
I know you want to see me but you're afraid
Of what I might have on my mind.
One thing you can be sure of
I'll take good care of your love
If you will let me give you mine.
Lady Willpower, it's now or never.
Give your love to me and I'll shower
Your heart with tenderness endlessly.
Did no one ever tell you the facts of life?
Well there's so much you have to learn.
And I would gladly teach you if I could only reach you
And get your lovin' in return.
Lady Willpower, it's now or never.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Johnny Walker

Johnny Walker shows up in Murakami's Kafka on the Shore as a living walking character. He has a comfy spot walking with a lot of other stuff at Eastbourne's Museum of Shops and Social History. And he showed up in my possession after I found him walking at an antique mall in southern Indiana. He's really small. And walking. And I love him. Even though I rarely drink Johnny Walker. Maybe I should start. Maybe I already started. This post is a little weird.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Audio Visual
The New York Times has a trailer page, which includes vintage films like Bambi and American Movie.

The Library of Congress is putting its images online so that people can post comments and information to them. I use their online index for class all the time, but this might make it easier to find a category like "boston marriage." (not posted above)

Steven Hill has an index of the title images from nearly 5000 films.

3 revelations that blew my mind

Paris from Gilmore Girls is in multiple episodes of Pete & Pete (c.o III)
A.O. Scott is Joan Scott's son (c.o J)
Anne Perry is Juliet Hulme from Heavenly Creatures (c.o III)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Thoughts about and deriving from Project Runway

So not last week, but the week before, there was a really nice episode of Project Runway. It was the Hershey's challenge, which I expected would be lame, but was quite fun. It also pointed out what I have decided is the fatal flaw of competitive reality tv: eliminations. Let me set the stage: Zac Posen critiqued Chris's dress as not being exuberant enough. And Nina and Michael Kors kind of corrected him, saying that Chris had actually reigned in his design in a really interesting way. Now, for those of you who don't watch, Chris had been voted off earlier for being too exuberant. Then through a series of bizarre events, he was brought back and since then has seemed to take earlier critiques to heart and create much better pieces. This was a nice dress. So that leads me to ask, WHY do competitive reality shows insist on voting people off week by week? Why? It's unnecessary. It can still be competitive even if everyone stays the whole time. Someone can still win based on points or total portfolio or even just the final project. But I think you can't really tell who will excel over time as opposed to being strong from the start. Some of the early frontrunners turn out not great (ie Wendy from season 1). People pointed to the non-elimination factor as one of the best features of Kid Nation this past summer. I'd like to see a reality tv show that just allows various designers/models/cooks/etc. to develop over time, and see what happens.

That said, it was nice to have Zac Posen on Project Runway, especially since I recently read that Zac Posen's spring 2008 collection was based on another of my all-time favorite movies, Days of Heaven. This collection was really nice. There are some stunning pieces in there, but I'm struck by the collection not necessarily as clothes so much as for really evoking Malick bizarrely enough. Some of the clothes look like Abby's clothes, others look like Bill's or the Farmer's. But then there's some pieces with literal wheat on them or other clothes that look like wheat fields. It's just all really nice.

It also involves a lot of bonnets. I've been wanting to knit a bonnet for winter, but I could also have joined Angry Chicken's mail order club way back in the day. In the second set, the surprise sewing project was a bonnet. The mail order subscription is one of the coolest products I've seen for sale online, though I've never managed to justify the $. Anyway, see here:

And finally, Zac Posen also uses amazing music in his Spring 2008 show, including "The Movers and Shakers" by Herbert and the Beach Boys. You too can listen and watch the models model Days of Heaven, the fashion show:

(photos courtesy of, the Project Runway website, and

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Movie Tree--Teresa Wright

If I were accomplished at photo-shopping, this post would be much cooler. Here goes anyway. I have a tendency to track actors and actresses I love from one project to another. I guess this isn't that surprising, other than it has led me to discover certain things in all the wrong directions. Anyway, here is the origins story of my love of the Thin Man, and in a later post, how the same movie also leads to Touch of Evil.

It all begins with Shadow of a Doubt. I watched this in college in a Hitchcock class. It became not only my favorite Hitchcock movie but also one of my all-time favorite movies. Somewhere there is a really good article comparing It's a Wonderful Life and Shadow of a Doubt. The premise is that both explore the dark side of American life and particularly of the small American community. The difference is that Capra has situated it as both outside the family and outside of reality itself. In Shadow of the Doubt, however, the dark side of American life is inseparable from the good. It's in the town--the seedy bar where one of Teresa Wright's classmates works. It's in the family--Uncle Charlie is the dangerous murderer. And finally it's in the protagonist herself--Teresa Wright in the end pushes Uncle Charlie off the train in what might be an accident and what might be self-defense or it just might be murder on her part. It's also the first time I ever noticed or cared about editing, since Hitchcock edited the movie as a romance even though it's a thriller about a serial murderer.

Teresa Wright led to the Best Years of Our Lives, which is also so good. Three vets from three different ranks and three different class backgrounds take the same plane back to their home town. It deals with each of their difficulties integrating back into civilian life, and the difficulties of each of their families in having them back. All three are heartbreaking in their own ways, though the movie ends as sweetly as you can imagine. I'll also say that it's a reminder that having a draft is really the only fair way to do things. Everyone cares about the war, and everyone has something to lose. Which doesn't mean everyone ends up the same after the war, but it's a far cry from the current war where the vast majority of kids serving in the war are underprivileged and the vast majority of people that care about them have a relatively small political voice. At any rate, Teresa Wright's mother was played by Myrna Loy . . .

Which led me to the Thin Man. I had read that there was nothing quite like the banter in the Thin Man, but really there isn't. Myrna Loy and William Powell are so good together, so fun, and so believable. It's hard to pull off a characterization of a relationship anywhere between the beginning or the end, but The Thin Man manages and throws in a mystery for good measure. And that is the history of how I came to love all three films.

Monday, January 07, 2008

If I Were a Foodie . . .

So I kind of wish I were a foodie, especially after having watched so much Alton Brown recently. Unfortunately, I think there are a few qualifications to being a foodie that I don't qualify for: being able to cook, eating at nice restaurants, having some knowledge of what some basic ingredients are (I still don't quite know where to find shallots or cream of tartar in the grocery. Are they vegetables? shortening? a seafood product? See. Not a foodie).

That said, I really enjoy food. Here are a few foods I have a weak spot for. You know what I mean. Stephan will order anything on a menu with sweet potatoes or with apple integrated into a savory dish. I can predict his choice from a mile away. Similarly, a friend of a friend will immediately pick out the item with bacon. Here are mine:

***soft pretzels and pretzel bread. I haven't yet tried my hand at baking this myself, but I have found some recipes. This is necessary because I usually buy pretzel bread at the farmer's market, which isn't so active at this time of year. That said, I can buy pretzel bread at Trader Joe's or choose it as my bread option at Jerry's. But really I need it more readily than that.

***honeycrisp apples. oh dear lord. these are the best apples in the world. I can't believe how expensive they are and even worse, how hard they are to find.

***soup. I think that R is an even more devoted fan than I, but I can rarely resist soups on the menu. My favorite is probably split pea soup, which my dad does a very stupendous version of.

***citrus. I guess this is similar to Stephan's apple thing. Citrus flavored savories are awesome. As are citrus flavored sweets including lemon drops, key lime pie, lemon meringue, etc. And my all time favorite cookies were these really thin light lemon flavored cookies at my local grocery store in London. They were the generic grocery brand, and you had to buy them in a three pack with two other kinds of cookies. They were so good, and I can't seem to find something similar anywhere. One of my past bosses, and I shared this love of citrus. She told me once that she had a dinner party where one of the guests finally pointed out to her that every dish she had served was lemon flavored. Lemon fish, lemon rice, lemon soup, etc. Ha!

***asparagus. Oh man, for a veggie I didn't like as a kid, I will readily order something I'm not otherwise excited about if it's accompanied by asparagus. Also we make it on the grill a lot.

Yay food!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Great Links in Thursday history

On language: (via kottke)
On crossing the picket line:
On the passing of Julia Carson:
On a dad who wanted to draw:
On Iowa:
On google Earth:
On the image above: (image care/of quote of the day. Also, what a great movie).

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Bun B

I promised pictures, so here they are. Awesome awesome bunnies. I really want a rabbit, which I would name Bun B after the rapper. But after researching it on the internet, I've decided that a bunny is not a good idea. 1) They would eat my dissertation. 2) They allegedly smell. 3) They eat better than I do. You're supposed to give them hay and pellets and three different kinds of green leafy vegetables a day. 4) Stephan objects. Or rather has declared he won't help me take care of little Bun B. So I have to make do with pictures of the fattest, cutest, and most ambitious rabbits on the internet, care of§ion=careguide

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Politics for the New Year

New York Times chart on the presidential candidates positions on health care, abortion, immigration, the environment, Iraq, and Iran:

I can't believe that Blackwater and other corporations function in Iraq without the rule of law, with only profit in mind, and whose employees' earnings outpace soldiers.

An editorial that breaks my heart:

The WGA strike:
This is all old-hat by now, and with Conan and Jay Leno crossing the proverbial picket line at this point, I'm not sure how things will go from here. I will say this, however. On blogs, I've noticed a lot of crew vs. writers sentiment, particularly at the point that staffs were being fired from shows and with Letterman paying his crew for some time during that period. I've also noticed that people feel torn between the two sides: writers deserve the profits of their labor but the other staff is losing their homes, savings, etc with no tangible benefit. So I want to hop onto my old hobby horse at last and say that this is the whole problem with guilds and trade unions to begin with. When you organize by trade instead of by industry, you pit workers against each other, instead of against the corporation they deal with. Too many workers, the least paid, aren't in the unions in the first place. They're losing wages without a support network and without the prospect of improving their own lot through the strike. Moreover, each union has only its own gains to make, at the expense of the workers in other unions. When you organize by industry, it's in crew workers' direct interests to support the strike--they're part of it and have their own gains to make. We shouldn't have to choose between various workers. This whole battle was largely lost in the postwar with repressive federal labor law and anti-communist purges from unions. Moreover, unionizing as a whole has faltered in its failure to unionize white collar work and the service industries. Nonetheless, that doesn't make me any less sad about the problems that trade union organizing has created.

Depressed yet? Worst of all, I can't figure out how to make links on blogger. I am an idiot. How do you make links? My link tool never works! Argh. Anyway, pictures soon!

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