Sunday, November 27, 2005

Walk the Line

Well, hooray, hooray, I went to see a movie.
And it was fantastic.
You know Joaquin Phoenix is going to be good. The enjoyment came from Reese Witherspoon's fantastic performance. I'm so tired of her as cute and fluff and this role let her get beyond that and into the realm of a real character.
Anyway, enough has been written on it. I do hope that Oscar nominations come around for them, and for the writing as well. And a few more: director, costumes, maybe best picture. I did like the film.
And since I'm on the topic of movies, here's what else is on my mind:
The new Harry Potter film was just what it promised to be: an action flick. Choppy beginning, scary monsters, good pull-you-in with the Ball, tears shed at the end. I also loved the bit with Moaning Myrtle.
Spanglish came on HBO this month. I missed it in the theaters but I simply LOVED it, and the DVD arrived from Amazon today. (HBO didn't replay it often enough for me.)
And last but not least, finally in February The Best of Youth (La meglio giovent├╣) is coming to DVD. I saw a review of it on CNN.com forever ago--it's seriously been at least a year. I saved the review to my desktop so I wouldn't forget to keep checking up on it. Of course, it came nowhere near here in the theaters, but here's the review and you can see for yourself how good it sounds. I can't wait to get my hands on it:
'The Best of Youth'

Reviewed by Lisa Schwarzbaum

Were "The Best of Youth" to air on national television, as it did in its original incarnation in Italy two years ago, I can assure you that everyone would be talking about it for weeks.

As it is, I can promise you this: Every lucky moviegoer who commits to the six hours this magnificent Italian drama requires -- ingestible in two discrete three-hour installments -- won't be able to stop thinking about gentle, empathetic Nicola Carati (Luigi Lo Cascio) and his broodier, more tempestuous sibling, Matteo (Alessio Boni), the two brothers whose lives come to embody nearly four decades of modern Italian history in one grandly engrossing experience.

Have I convinced you yet to invest the time? "La Meglio Giovent├╣," as director Marco Tullio Giordana calls his prizewinning narrative masterpiece, begins in Rome, in 1966, when the Carati boys -- two of four children born into a middle-class family -- are just launching their adult lives. Nicola wants to become a doctor (to which end a kindly professor urges the young man to move away because "Italy is a dying, useless country"); Matteo has more longings -- he's a passionate reader of books -- and fewer plans.

Nicola identifies with liberalism and enlightenment; Matteo becomes a soldier, then a cop. And as the lives and fortunes of the Carati clan wax and wane, expand and intertwine, their intimate struggles, joys, and accommodations reflect the rhythms of societal life on a larger scale: The 1966 Florence floods, Italy's 1982 World Cup championship, the terrorism of the Red Brigades, and the violence of Mafia murders share equal, gracefully apportioned weight with personal history. (The geography shifts too, from Rome to Florence to Turin to Palermo to the Tuscan countryside, with a magical stop in Norway.)

Like a great novel from a more expansive bygone age, "The Best of Youth" is full of big thoughts; like a great soap opera, it's also full of sharp plot turns, vibrant characters, and great talk. It is, in short, the best of cinema.

EW Grade: A

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Little Dubbi

Amilynne and I were on the phone last weekend and she started play-cheering for wilderness areas that are lost to human development. So I started to call her Little Dubbi. Here is a picture:
Isn't that a lot of fun?

So we were talking this weekend (she didn't see the picture until I finally got the kinks worked out on Friday) and she said "What's that on my head?" and I said "It's a cowboy hat." Come now. It's not beautiful, but even our brother the scientist recognized it as a cowboy hat. Amilynne is refusing to use her immagination. "Oh. I thought it was a squirrel or something." Then she asks, "Where are the ground squirrels?" "Obviously, they are on your head, Amilynne." "Oh."
And the conversation turned to other things, like eggnog. At home, we always cut eggnog with sprite or ginger ale or something, and as I have gotten older, I have decided that I do not like this. Too wierd, the bubbles and the dairy product all together. So I say to Amilynne, "I don't like my eggnog cut with pop." Amilynne explodes with laughter. "Pop! You said pop!!!" Yes, I exposed my roots there.
So Amilynne agreed that I could post the picture of Little Dubbi if I would also admit that I say "pop." Usually I say soda now. But yes, pop comes out of my mouth from time to time. Or out of my nose if someone makes me laugh while I'm drinking it.
Enough said. Just please call Amilynne "Little Dubbi" the next time you see her.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Paperless Voting

I went to the polls today and to my dismay they have replaced the old dinosaur lever pulling machines with fancy new computerized voting systems--only they're the paperless kind, and I just can't say how much I don't like that. Not very much at all. I firmly believe that there should be a paper trail in case there is any suspicion (or knowledge) of an electronic failure. But just because some idiots in Florida who don't know how to punch a paper ballot made a careful recount necessary, the trend now seems to be to eliminate the possibility of such a recount by creating a paperless system.
I don't trust it. I don't trust it because as much as we depend on computers, we all know that they fail from time to time. For example, as important as is the state-mandated testing in schools, when that testing takes place on a computer, there is generally some kind of glitch that makes it difficult. And as important as that is, elections are immeasurably more so.
Big brother is taking over, and I find myself with misgivings.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Failed Experiment

I really prefer Daylight Savings time to normal time. I would rather see the sun later than earlier. So last week when normal time took back over, I rebelled and stayed on Daylight Savings. Everything was so much nicer. I got to go to work at 8:00 instead of at 7:00. At first, I got so much more done in the mornings! But the week wore on, and Thursday morning I found myself getting up at 6:30 (daylight savings), which was not early anymore. Friday as well. So yesterday I gave in and changed the clocks, defeat admitted.

I was telling my dad about this last night and he told my how my grandmother hated daylight savings because it meant the heat of the day would hit earlier, making her miserable while working in her garden. So I see that there could be some resistance toward my plan of keeping Daylight Savings time permanently. My suggestion would be that since Daylight Savings is not practiced in Arizona, non-practicers could flock there. Another suggestion would be that of carefully choosing which side of the time zone to live in. The closer one lives to the western edge of one's time zone, the later the sun will rise.

My deal is, if the government thinks that daylight savings would save us on energy until November, why don't they think it would work into and beyond November? Can't we just say "Hey, we're a daylight savings country (except Arizona)!"? Better yet, we could just move Arizona to Pacific time and be a daylight savings country all around.

Stop looking at me funny. I really think I'm on to something.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A Word to the Wise

Swiss Miss Chocolate Sensation is the hot chocolate of the year. In a not-too-big mug, 2 packets, mixed with a bit of half & half and some flavor syrup (black cherry & almond or raspberry) and filled with water hot from the teakettle, and suddenly I'm looking forward to a chilly winter. This cocoa mix is actually chocolatey. So nice.