Avatar

Feb. 7th, 2010 08:23 pm
muchabstracted: (trickster)
I enjoyed Avatar. The world, Pandora, was beautiful, and watching it in IMAX 3D was worth the price of admission all by itself. It doesn't hurt that the religion on Pandora was the sort I love to bask in: everything living has energy and is sacred, taken seriously, and seen with wonder. (Which is to say those of you do not share those tendencies towards that kind of thinking will probably roll your eyes a lot at those aspects of the movie; but it is very very pretty to watch while they are espousing these beliefs, so it shouldn't be too much of a problem.)

Wherein there are many spoilers )

I spent the entire movie waiting for the Evil Technology Money People to destroy the lives of the Noble Savage Forest People. When that conflict actually happened, instead of cringing with annoyance at the trope or with anger at the villains, I found myself thinking about my clients' often antagonistic relationships with classmates or partners. We grow up hearing, "It takes two to fight." But, you know? That's not always the case. Sometimes, if one side is sufficiently determined or powerful, the other side doesn't have a choice. They can only capitulate or fight back.
muchabstracted: (trickster)
As promised (months ago), notes from Maria Tatar's talk from Harvard Book Store.

Notes behind the cut. Be warned, I kept copious notes. )

********

Maria also spent time answering questions. This was my favorite:

Q: With the kind of immigration we have now, are there children's stories around migration, displacement, immigration, or refugees? [The man asking the question tells us he is an Indian (not Native American) who grew up on stories of colonialism.]
A: “Literature makes immigrants of us all. A child setting out in stories is often imperialist, master of all they survey.”
Q [greatly paraphrased]: No, really. Are there stories SPECIFICALLY for immigrants?
A [even more paraphrased]: Oh. Um. Not that I know of. But there’s always a shock effect; they can still use these stories to think about how to navigate the real world.

I can write out my notes from the rest of the question/answer session as well, if anyone is interested; but I found it less interesting than the talk, and I feel this is as much of an information dump as one LJ entry can handle.

Endgame

Mar. 13th, 2009 05:47 pm
muchabstracted: (Default)
I saw Endgame last night, with my brother. It was beautifully acted, I thought, and if only I liked Samuel Beckett's work, I would have had a great time. As it was, my favorite part was quietly beating him to the inevitable* Garfield and Friends reference upon an imprudent mention of a rat in the kitchen.

*Well, inevitable, considering we were in the audience.

It was well-acted, though. If you like Beckett, you should see it. There are performances this weekend and next weekend.
muchabstracted: (Default)
I'm reading Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth About Video Games by Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olson, a book about the ongoing controversy over violent video games. I'm enjoying it; they're actually dealing with the issue sensibly and thoughtfully, and are taking the concerns seriously without falling prey to the sloppy thinking of most of my colleagues. (You can guess what most of my colleagues think. I admit I am, personally, a little leery of my young clients playing Grand Theft Auto, for the same reasons.)

My current favorite quote, which is discussing The Great Train Robbery, a 1903 landmark movie:

The brief plot contains multiple murders, including throwing a body off a train; shooting a fleeing passenger in the back; several robberies; an attack on a telegraph operator and the subsequent discovery of his tied and beaten body by his young daughter; the dynamiting of a safe; and a square-dancing posse that sneaks up on and kills the thieves. (The square-dancing scene, which is interrupted by the injured telegrapher who'd been untied by his daughter, is apparently the writer's way of letting us know that the vigilantes who will eventually hunt down and mercilessly shoot the killer are just ordinary folk.)



FYI, if you are interested, Current Magazine is putting out a special inauguration issue. It has the inauguration speeches of a number of important past presidents and photos of them. There are also contemporary articles about them, written around the time each president became inaugurated. It is currently 20% off, or $8. Comment if you want me to e-mail you the order form.
muchabstracted: (Default)
In other news, I am completely charmed by one of the new designs for Whole Foods' reusable bags. It features a checkerboard of silhouettes of differently shaped bottles, and bears the inscription, "I USED TO BE A PLASTIC BOTTLE"

Much cuter in person than in description, but I have no digital camera.
muchabstracted: (Default)
Apparently, powder bleach is more effective than liquid Clorox. My bathtub is no longer spotty just in time for me to no longer use it. Yay!

Last weekend, I saw Stardust with [livejournal.com profile] lynnoxford, so I'll join the chorus of people recommending it. It was cute, it was well done, and it had a sufficient number of moments that made me think, "Neil Gaiman wrote this movie/book/graphic novel."

Glancing at movie reviews afterwards, I saw a few that compared it to The Princess Bride. Which was interesting, because it led me to realize that I am physically and mentally incapable of comparing any movie to The Princess Bride. It's not that I'm a rabid fan of The Princess Bride -- I'm not. I like it a lot, but I've never gone crazy over it the way I have, say, over The Faerie Queen or Jim Henson's Labyrinth. (Despite the good example my friends set for me.) I think the problem is that The Princess Bride isn't a movie so much as it is a collection of memories of my high school friends. It's, uh, sort of like high school, the good parts version. :)

Before the movie started, we saw the trailer for The Movie That Must Not Be Named. My opinion is behind this cut-tag, out of deference to rymenhild's request. )
muchabstracted: (Default)
Last night, I went to see Transformers with my brother, [livejournal.com profile] chanaleh and -- somehow -- my mother. She didn't hate it as much as she thought she would.

My favorite part was the moment near the end, after the advanced technology has all been busted, when they are all in a tiny room trying to figure out how to communicate with the outside world to get help. The blond female analyst points to a short wave radio (I think), and asks if the hacker can do something helpful involving hacking, computers, radios, and Morse code. My brother, sitting next to me, makes a valiant and futile attempt to keep from clawing his eyes out in scientific frustration.*

*Despite this, he greatly enjoyed the movie. Possibly he was not expecting accurate representations of science.

Yes, that was a minor spoiler. I think if you care about spoilers for The Transformers Movie, you should really have seen it already.

...Okay, fine, let me know if I should put it under a cut-tag.

Anyway, my three word summary -- stolen from a fanfic summary somewhere, I'm sure -- is "hilariously improbable crap". I was curled up in my chair cackling for the first half of the film. Don't misunderstand, I mean all this lovingly. The screenwriters did a good job. I do think they could have cut some of the plot, but I will forgive them.


By the way, the neuroscience Hangman word from last week was PARAGIGANTOCELLULARIS. If you don't understand why that's a super cool word, just say it loudly, emphasizing the "giganto" bit, and flail around with your arms. Then you'll see.
muchabstracted: (trickster)
Jake Armerding concert last Sunday. I need more live music in my life. This concert actually made me unwind a little, which is a feat at the moment. Good music and excellent musicianship from all concerned, and very enjoyable to spend a few hours in their company. I have discovered that I definitely prefer fiddle to acoustic guitar, which should surprise no one. This is a wimpy review. I am tired. I will be more entertaining next month.

So! DC area folk! He appears to be performing at Jammin' Java in the first week of April. Consider this a general recommendation to anyone who likes folk/bluegrass/acoustic type music. There are assorted links to music samples and concert schedules off of his web site.
muchabstracted: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] lynnoxford and I saw Pan's Labyrinth yesterday, with much excitement. The short, non-spoilery review is that it was beautiful, grotesque, artistically solid, and not what we were expecting. Lest I mislead anyone, I will add that, though I would recommend it (mostly for the sake of the first three adjectives just listed), I do not do so unambiguously.

Given [livejournal.com profile] ayelle's review, however, I might change my mind about that if I'm able to talk with her about it. I did pick up on some of the references, but I know a missed a number, and more allusion always makes me happy. There are certainly enough layers and allusions that I would see the movie again, to try to pick up more.

Cut for serious spoilers, for the sake of talking with the two or three people who have seen the movie *cough*ayelle*cough* )
muchabstracted: (Default)
Charles de Lint finally wrote the book where Geordie and Jilly get together! Back in May, but I didn't know until today. Anyway, I haven't had such a hard time not buying a hardcover since HP6. (Though this time, I did suceed in not buying the hardcover. Go me.)

So instead, I read it in the bookstore. Major humongoid spoilers, although I think Genarti is the only person who reads both Charles de Lint and my LJ. )

The only thing that would be more deeply satisfying is if my own characters would get closer to the dating. Alas.
muchabstracted: (Default)
I went to see Monsieur Chopin at the ART, with [livejournal.com profile] fleurdelis28 and [livejournal.com profile] lynnoxford. Monsieur Chopin is a one-man show about, of course, Frederic Chopin's life. The playwright/actor, Hershey Felder is clearly as much musician and music scholar as he is actor and playwright. According to the playbill, the play appears to be directed by the same guy who directed My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Given my general lack of interest in Chopin, I wasn't sure what to expect. But it was brilliant. The use of Chopin's music within the play was like nothing I've ever seen. It wasn't just incidental music: it was the center of the play. It was used as speech, in such a way that I felt I had some understanding of the language.

The downside of the play is that Felder is not quite as good an actor as he is at everything else. He makes a charming low-key Chopin. [livejournal.com profile] fleurdelis28 points out that the music history lecture, which Felder could not quite resist tacking on at the end of the play, contains some wonderful acting. (The music history lecture is also highy enjoyable in its own right. Seriously, I want to take classes with this guy.) His Emo Chopin invariably comes off as being a little stagey. It's a minor flaw, considering how much Felder does well. Also, I think that the things Felder does well are rare enough that the trade-off is worthwhile.

If you actively dislike classical music, don't go see it. Otherwise, I would recommend it. I'm certainly planning on seeing the prequel/"first movement" (Beethoven, premiering at some point this season) or sequel/"third movement" (George Gershwin Alone, which as been out for some time) if possible. I think I've lost my chance at Gershwin, at this point, but I imagine Beethoven is a possibility.

It runs until July 30th at the ART. Just, you know, in case you're wondering.

In other words, the promotional tickets did their job.
muchabstracted: (gorey)
[livejournal.com profile] ayelle and I saw An Inconvenient Truth just now. The short version of the review? It's good. Go see it. There is horror, unexpected humor, snark*, science**, and suspense. I would have gone to see the movie even if it were dull and unremittingly horrifying; fortunately, it is neither, and I recommend it with a clear conscience.

*Mostly this consists of insults about the environmental acumen of various Republican presidents and dodgy political appointees. It might appear to be partisan, but I suspect that the people being insulted, while arguably positive decision makers in other respects, do genuinely and unarguably have bad environmental records. Also, it was good snark. None of that low-quality brainless bashing.

**Admittedly not much of a draw, for most people.


Al Gore once again comes off as the man I wanted to see as president. But I find myself hoping he won't run again, because if he does, I'm sure he will disappear back into What The Voters Might Want.

In other news, ah, the 9/11 movie is coming out. Can I say how very much I'm not looking forward to that? I'm sure it's a brilliant movie, and one that probably needed to be made. But as soon as it's out, my older clients are going to start coming in with vicarious traumatization. Betcha.

Meme!

Apr. 30th, 2006 05:21 pm
muchabstracted: (Default)
Gacked from [livejournal.com profile] meghatronn.

Name the song/artist from the quoted line. Lines have been edited for inclusion in the next version of the SATs. For bonus points, provide a translation of the line back to its original form.

1. The Agelaius phoeniceus has chosen to exercise its vocal chords at the moment that the portion of Earth he inhabits is facing 180 degrees away from the sun.

2. The nonplussed head of state creates new arrangements of musical notes and words in pleasing harmonies for the purpose of praising the Almighty.

3. For each circadian rhythm, the Earth recommences, good meterological conditions or bad.

4. I only experience the sensation of saline on my tongue when I create a conjunction between my lips and the salty excretions from your eyes.

5. She puts compressed carbon on the undersides of the apparel protecting her lower appendages.

Technically, I should have another five, but I'm not going to.

In other news, Wicked was fun. The first half was pretty similar to the book, with the major exception of Fiyaro's character. The second half was very different. Enjoyable, and it fit the conventions of a musical much better than the book would have. I am pleased that the musical clearly considered the major relationship* to be the one between Glinda and Elphaba rather than the one between Elphaba and Sexy Male Dude, for two reasons. (1) My usual political sensibilities; ie, my belief that romantic relationships are over-explored and overemphasized while other kinds of relations are dismissed. (2) Glinda and Elphaba's relationship was just much more interesting in the musical, and far more fraught with tensions.*

*Not a slashy relationship. Not sexual tensions.

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