Tuesday, December 27

Ye Olde Annual Movie-Fest

It's that time of year again: time to avoid the family and all its passive/aggressive snide condescension and head up north and totally ignore the holiday. So we headed out to our favorite canine friends Justin and Casey's house in Federal Way to lounge around in our sweats and watch movies all weekend. All in all, a good weekend. J&C's person knows that A doesn't really share my taste in films, so she makes sure there are several films on hand for us to watch while A catches up on her reading. This year's lineup:

The Day the Earth Stood Still
The House of Flying Daggers
Batman Begins

Oddly enough, I think I enjoyed the oldest film the most. The Day the Earth Stood Still may be more than 50 years old, but it certainly is interesting from today's frame of reference. It is both chilling that we've apparently not learned a damn thing in the last half century about blowing ourselves up, and ironically amusing as two army doctors express their amazement at an alien whose life span is 130 years while lighting up a couple of cigarettes. If you haven't seen the film, or even haven't seen it lately, rent it and see it again. It's worth the time.

Serenity was fun. The dry humor I so greatly enjoyed from Firefly was there in spades and the story was entertaining and interesting. For some reason, though, I walked away very slightly disappointed. I'm not sure if it's because, unlike most of the fans who have been ranting about how good it was, I saw it after it was confirmed that Firefly will not be making a comeback (it was still a real possibility when the film was in the theaters) so I knew the open-ended nature of the film's finale was not going to go anywhere, or because it had a bit less of the "western" feel that made the series so unique. The film was more a straight-up sci-fi action flick - something I definitely enjoy - but it lost a little of what made Firefly so addictive. I'm still glad they made it and I'm glad I saw it. Maybe some decent writer out there will pick up the stories and write a few novels on board ...

The House of Flying Daggers was, as I expected, visually beautiful. Their use of color was wonderful. The story had some nice twists that made it less predictable than so many of its peers. However, the use of color and visual themes in Hero and the story/music in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon were far superior. All three films are excellent and I will happily see them again, but I felt The House of Flying Daggers was the weakest of the three.

Batman Begins - I liked Christian Bale's portrayal of Batman. Bale was an excellent choice for the role, as were the stellar supporting cast in Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, and Morgan Freeman. Two things bothered me about the film, though. First and foremost, Gotham was too shiny and realistic. I much preferred the more stylized, darker Gotham of the previous films. Second, the Batmobile was a goddamn SUV. That's just wrong! Other than those two quibbles, it was not a bad film. I enjoyed it. I'll probably watch it a second time to pick up some of the dialog I missed the first time, but I can't say it was significantly better or worse than the other Batman films.

Wednesday, December 21

The Constant Gardener

Went to the Bagdad this evening. Saw The Constant Gardener

See it. Visually beautiful, conceptually hideous, completely true.

The film may be fiction, but the story is not. Take special note of the quote at the end of the article:
"Third World lives are worth much less than the European lives. That is what colonialism was all about," said Srirupa Prasad, a visiting assistant professor of medical history and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


This is simply brutal.

It's Craigslist, anonymous, and totally unverifiable, but I find it hard to believe anyone would bother to fake something like this.

Liberty, security, and holiday traffic

I was driving back from Salem yesterday with a co-worker and two sales reps from one of our vendors. It's an hour-long drive normally, but we got caught in some nasty holiday traffic and it took closer to two and a half hours. So we had plenty of time to talk. Since we were on the way to the airport and were running late, the topic of airport security and security in general came up. They all freely admitted to being conservative - one a deeply religious conservative, the other two secular fiscal conservatives, one of whom is also Canadian. All three of them made it abundantly clear that they had absolutely no problem with the Bush Junta's secret domestic surveillance in the name of "security".

I was horrified. I am horrified.

I'm not sure if this picture counts as a thousand words or not, but it represents my beliefs perfectly:

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
A scan of the title page of the first edition of An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania, published in London in 1759, later attributed to Benjamin Franklin

The dismantling of basic civil rights and liberties in the name of "security" and "fighting the War on Terror" are exactly the thing Franklin was describing. Yes, the world is a dangerous place, but the proper response is not to turn our nation into a totalitarian police state where everyone is "safe" but nobody is free.

When I responded to my three car-mates' statements with the quote from Mr. Franklin, I was met with a resounding silence. I have no illusions that my borrowed eloquence would sway them, but I am deeply concerned that none of them seemed even the least bit concerned or willing to accept the viewpoint as valid. In fact, they all said that the current "security measures" were not strict enough.

Has the pervasive attitude of fear so penetrated our culture that the US public is more afraid of a trumped-up terrorist threat than it is concerned about the systematic dismantling of a more than 200 year old system expressly designed to protect the liberty and freedom of its people? Has the US public fallen so far into complacency, xenophobia, and fear that it has lost sight of the original tenets upon which the Constitution was built and this nation was founded?

If so, how do we change it? How do we wake the public up and remind them that this nation used to stand for liberty and freedom and not an Orwellian dystopia where dissent equates to treason?

ANWR killed!

I'm hearing news that the US Senate just rejected the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) oil drilling rider on the massive defense appropriations bill. In the words of Trent Lott, the provision "has to come out," after the Senate failed to get the three-fifths majority necessary to override the filibuster and end debate. The final total was 56-44. Four votes short.

Considering neither side felt confident they had sufficient votes this morning ... [huge sigh of relief]. It's far from over, but I'm pleased to see the recent moderate bi-partisan activity in the Senate over bills like this and the Patriot Act reauthorization. I am happy to see the Senate is finally starting to flex its muscle and put the brakes on some of the more offensive legislation King George II has been trying to ramrod through Congress.

Thank you to the Democratic caucus for standing firm. A special thank you to Republican Senators Mike DeWine of Ohio and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island for standing up against the pressure and voting against the drilling provision. I am happy to see there are still men and women in the Senate who have the integrity to do what's right and go against what their leadership demands.

Monday, December 19

Carb Fest '05

... was a great success! Even if it did ice up and snow and cause the entire third shift (the afternoon bunch) of carb-stuffing fiends to call and deliver their regrets. So what if it did fill up our living room overnight with out-of-towners who decided that discretion is the better part of valor and sleeping on the couch is perfectly valorous.

Events of note:
Hide and seek is rather difficult in a house that has only three interior doors behind which to hide (one of which being the bathroom).
One's vehicle when parked in the driveway makes an excellent refrigerator.
Nothing clears out a living room like the appearance of outdoor frozen dihydrogen oxide.
Sometimes even a normal-sized Christmas tree can have a much larger than expected trunk.
Fred Meyer does not stock Christmas tree stands the Sunday before Christmas.

Thank you to all the longtime attendees as well as the first-timers for braving the elements and filling out house with happiness, laughter, and wildly-gyrating blood sugar stupor. It was delightful and, frankly, daunting to see we have so many friends (and so little space for them all)!

Anyone want some leftovers? We seem to have a bit of extra food left ...

Friday, December 16

Help the Oregon Food Bank

Got this today in my e-mail. Considering I've been out shopping for CarbFest '05 all morning, I can't in good conscience not do something ...

This is to alert you the local food shortage for 
poverty-stricken families, children, and single men and
women due to the empty shelves at the Oregon Food Bank.
Please send your donation checks, which can stretch their
food dollars due to buying at wholesale and deeply reduced
prices, to:

Oregon Food Bank
P.O. Box 55370
Portland, OR 97238

The Oregon Food Bank's shelves were emptied due to the need
to provide food and other basic necessities for those
fleeing the devastation caused by hurricanes Katrina and
Rita. Therefore, I am asking you to forward this email to
your extended family members, friends, neighbors and
business associates, calling for a matching $20 donation
that I have made, or more from each person or couple.

Others have matched my donation--but more is needed. Let's
do everything that we can to help those in need here in the
Greater Portland area and in Oregon. And, someday, that same
help will be available for you, if you are in need. We never
know when disaster will strike.

Bless you, for helping the Oregon Food Bank. I wish you a
happy and healthy holiday season and my best wishes to you
and your loved ones throughout the coming year.


Adrianne Page
WHALE Co-Chair

Thursday, December 15

Care Factor

Just checking my "Care Factor" for the week.

Nope... still don't give a fuck.


Um. Yeah.

That pretty well encapsulates the attitude of management toward the staff within my organization.

Thursday, December 8

Tri-Met & Google

This is so cool!

Google Local/Google Maps + Tri-Met transit schedules = beaucoup geeky public transportation goodness

It even calcualtes the fare necessary. I would have so loved to have this when we visited Boston this summer.

Wednesday, December 7

Carb Fest '05!

That's right - it's time once again to stop and reflect on the glory of Stuffed French Toast.

We look back on the things that have happened since the last Carb Fest and can truly say what an exciting trip it has been! Just for a sampler . . . Kaphine and RSG got married, FINALLY!!! Swankette and TRP got married (an entirely different FINALLY), Das Father-in-Law turned into the Story Tellin' Road Warrior, we learned that BDMama's little card shark does a pretty mean Fan Dance, Oberst Holzkopf is going to be the next sexy man in uniform, StormyBlueEyez is hot trottin' it to a book deal, and SQDancer has started swimming lessons for the cats.

Whew! And that's just a few of the highlights! You'll have to come in person to find out the rest.

Somehow, we had a record 45 carb-lovin' friends last year! We aren't really sure where we put you all, but we were so glad to see all of you. The more the merrier! We assure you, there will be more Stuffed French Toast, more hot buttered rum batter, more baked brie (and this year A will pull off *both* the labels before baking it), more teacakes, more gingerbread, more Nanaimo bars, more spiced cider, and for those need to indulge in the friends but not the carbs, more fresh vegetables. :)

Here's the scoop:

Sunday, December 18 (always the Sunday before Christmas)
10:30 AM until much later that day - stop by any time and stay for
however long you please
Stroll up Peacock Lane after 6:30
Bring your neighbors, friends, family, children
RSVP by e-mail to let us know if you think you might make it and how
many you might bring

I'm starting to believe that if we could just serve Stuffed French Toast in the White House things might start to look more optimistic for the ordinary citizen. If we could just serve Stuffed French Toast in Iraq there might be a real chance at peace. You just can't come to Carb Fest and feel bad about anything. :) So please come and indulge.