Thursday, September 20, 2007

Hope springs eternal

Is it wrong that I hope these two crazy kids can somehow make it work?

A Bosnian couple are getting divorced after finding out they had been secretly chatting each other up online under fake names.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Disneyland Vacation, Part 1

I’ve been meaning to blog about my trip to California, but as always, life keeps interfering with blogging. I’m not sure how other people manage to do it all.

In the last 15 or so months, I’ve made four trip to the west coast. My grandmother had a stroke in April ’06, on her 81st birthday, and she has been living with my mother since she left the rehab facility the following August. To say the situation is stressful is putting it mildly. Grams is basically bed-ridden. She has no movement in her left side. She can sit in a wheelchair but becomes uncomfortable after just a few hours. My mother has a nurse come in Monday-Friday to take care of Grams, but after 5:00 and on the weekends, her care is provided by my mother and sister. To top it off, Grams view of reality is, well, distorted. The problem, however, is that if you were to ask her the right questions (Who is the President? What football team do you like? What are the names of the baseball teams in the L.A area? Where do your granddaughters live?), she can answer you and seem perfectly lucid. On the other hand, she gets very worried about me if she hears that there are tornadoes in Florida (Is the airport OK? How are you going to get home?), and she asked me if I felt the recent Peruvian earthquake.

For this trip, I wanted to try to get my mother and sister to relax. It was my mother’s 60th birthday, and my sister and I asked my aunt to come stay with Grams so my sister and mother could get out of town for a few days. We decided that it might be fun if we went to Disneyland for a few days.

Please note that, as Orlando residents, T and I have annual passes to Walt Disney World, and we make good use of them. We go to the parks several times a year and are very familiar with certain details. My observations below are based in large part on my experiences here.

We stayed for three nights (Saturday through Monday) at Disney’s Grand Californian Resort. The hotel was just gorgeous. This is the premier hotel at the Disneyland Resort (DLR) and is most comparable in quality to the Grand Floridian at Walt Disney World (WDW) (you can tell by the way the names are similar). Stylistically, the resort is closer to the Wilderness Lodge at WDW, although it's actually based on the art and crafts movement and not really a rustic Pacific Northwest theme. There was a tour offered about the hotel and its design, but I didn't get the chance to go, as it was right in the middle of the day.

It was very nice hotel though. The entrance way is a gorgeous stained glass. I was able to get a quick, not-too-terrible picture of it when it was briefly closed.



The room was a standard room, two queen beds and a day bed, mini-fridge, DVD player. The shower curtain was decorated by images of Bambi and Thumper (this will be a funny detail later). Prints from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves were on the walls.

The lobby was a comfortable place to sit and relax. The floors were a mix of inlaid wood and soft carpeting, that was sunken to be level with the wood floor. There was a lovely stone fireplace. Also, the house phones in the lobby were real rotary phones with cloth-covered straight cords! When I dialed our room number (3205), I had to wait until it turned all the way back from the 0. It was very exciting.

Our first night there was Mom's birthday, so we made arrangements to have dinner at their signature restaurant: Napa Rose. I wish I had the menu so I could tell you exactly what we had, because I forgot to take notes. We started with appetizers: Mom had some sort of eggplant dish that she said was "OK"; my sister (Sis) had sea scallops that she just loved; and I had the "summer tart" -- honey-mustard roasted rabbit in a tart shell. Mom and Sis were alarmed at my choice of appetizer. Rabbit? Really? shouldn't I be concerned about eating a cute fuzzy bunny? I simply explained that rabbits were hardly endangered, and I had never tasted rabbit meat before. I must say I'm looking forward to eating more. It was really good. For the main course, Mom chose the safe filet mignon. Sis was aiming that direction, but I knew she would be happier with the side items accompanying the beef short ribs, so she chose that. I had lamb chops cooked two ways; Osso Buco-style and ____(?) At any rate, they were delicious. I was eating cuteness everywhere. Dessert was a cappuccino mousse and chocolate torte. It was good and very rich, but I couldn't eat it all.

Upon arriving back at the room, and taking care of my business, Sis asked me (kiddingly) how I could possibly look at Thumper on shower curtain without feeling guilty. I just started referring to my appetizer as the "Thumper Tart".

Now, I spent my teenage years in the southern California desert. I've been fortunate enough to have visited Disneyland a good half-dozen or so times in my life. That said, I haven't visited the park since 1996, when I took T out west to visit my family before we got married. The DLR is a whole new animal to me, and if you've never been, I highly recommend it.

Unlike WDW, the DLR has been set up for everything to be within walking distance. Directly outside one exit of the Grand Californian is the Downtown Disney (DTD)entertainment complex, with shops, restaurants, and movies. At one end of DTD are the entrances to the two theme parks: Disneyland and the newer Disney's California Adventure. At the other end of DTD are the other two Disney-owned hotels. Another exit from the Grand Californian (and one of the great side benefits of staying at the hotel) is a private entrance/exit directly to California Adventure.

Sunday morning we wandered around DTD briefly and had breakfast at the La Brea Bakery (tar pits were nowhere in sight). It was a good meal, though I thought over-priced. Although, I did enjoy a couple of lovely cinnamon-apple sausage links.

We spent the rest of Sunday at California Adventure. This was the first time any of us had been to this park. Overall, I think it's a nice enough park, and it has some gorgeous details: The giant sun fountain in sunshine plaza, the "Paradise Pier" area.





Mom suggested we ride the Grizzly River Run rapids water ride first thing. I think we got her to do four or five other attractions that day, so it was exciting that she actually volunteered to go on one of the more "thrilling" ones and the one guaranteed to get us soaked. The ride is centered around Grizzly Rock. I'm pretty sure this is the park's icon. Anyway, it's pretty neat looking for Disney rock, although not nearly as subtle as the Jaffar rock at Animal Kingdom (note to self: get picture of Jaffar rock).



Sis and I rode the Golden Zephyr, which was a nice calm spaceship ride that went around in about 3-1/2, maybe four, times. On the up side, there were no lines for it. I also fulfilled my promise to Sis and went on the two roller coasters: California Screamin' and Mulholland Madness. California Screamin' wasn't too bad, although I have no intention of riding it again. Mulholland Madness, a "mini-coaster" terrified me. It was filled with all these tight hairpin turns, and being the fat girl I am, I was afraid my weight was going to shift the balance of the car right off the tracks. At least the cars themselves don't spin, ala Primeval Whirl at Disney's Animal Kingdom.



We tried to get Mom to go on the Sun Wheel (giant Ferris wheel), but she wouldn't go for it.

We did see Golden Dreams, the movie about California. It was kind of depressing in places: Spanish missionaries bring terrible diseases to the native peoples; Chinese railroad workers get blown up; a Japanese picture bride gets pelted by tomatoes by bigots. But, they overcame their hardships to build the great state of California. Why Whoopi Goldberg was chosen to play Califa, the spirit goddess of CA, I'll never know. Also, the film begins with the statue of Califa becoming "animated", just like the statue of Thetis is animated by Maggie Smith's face in Clash of the Titans. I kept expecting her head to roll off as she cursed us to a horrible doom!

We also saw Muppets 3-D, which is always fun. And we rode the Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sully to the Rescue! ride; a dark ride basically re-telling the Monsters, Inc. ride. Very cute. The two attractions had some of my favorite exterior designs. The first is a door just outside the exit to Muppets 3-D. I love the signs. The second two are the facade to Monsters, Inc., which reminds me of a trippy version of the "it's a small world" ride and the next is one of the "posters" in the queue for the ride. Look closely.







We also decided that Triton's Carousel was Mom-safe. I don't have pictures of that, but it did appear to have a real, honest-to-god, calliope making the music.

We toured the animation exhibits, which were very neat, but I wish we could have toured a real working animation studio, like we used to be able to do here before they shut it down. (grumblemumblebittergrumble)

Finally, we rode Soarin' Over California, or just Soarin' as we call it at Epcot. This is just an awesome ride that I insist all visitors to Disney Parks take time to see. It's a hang-glider simulation over the California landscape, complete with sweet smells. The line for this ride was only 25 minutes. I've never seen it shorter than an hour here.

Which gets me to my next observation. We went to California Adventure during the last Sunday in August, a week before Labor Day. We waited in almost no lines. The park was not even a little crowded, by park standards. It was a little weird. I'm not sure why it's not doing better, but I was definitely surprised.

We ate dinner at Wine Country Trattoria. Mediocre Italian food. Eh. This was probably my most disappointing dining experience at any Disney Park. I've had better Italian food, and much better choices, at Macaroni Grille.

We finished Sunday night by stopping by the candy store (where I got my favorite candy: dark chocolate honeycomb, yum!) and watching my favorite parade ever: The Main Street Electrical Parade. Of course, since it's at California Adventure it's just called Disney's Electrical Parade, but whatever. It's the old traditional parade, with the same floats and music. It just makes me happy. The entire parade route was lined with people, but they were only one or two deep. We found a nice bench and sat for the parade the whole time. We couldn't have asked for better seats. I loved it!

Anyway, that captures Saturday (the arrival and dinner) and Sunday. I'll tell you about Tuesday later.

EDIT: OOPS! I meant to promise that I will blog about Monday and Tuesday later, probably this weekend. As it turns out I'm too verbose to write much during the week.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Meanwhile...

Several many days ago, Bill, over at So Quoted, had this post about greats songs of the 90s. My first thought was "The 90s had great songs?" (What? I'm an 80s girl, now and forever!) My second thought was "Wait! How many can I choose?"

So, in no particular order, my list of great 90s songs that I've thought of during the last several days. I've tried really hard to stay away from most covers and showtunes unless they were really exceptional.

"Lucas with the Lid off" Lucas
"Mysterious Ways" U2
"As I Lay Me down to Sleep" Sophie B. Hawkins
"Winter" Tori Amos
"All I Want" Toad the Wet Sprocket (They also win for best band name of the 90s.)
"Mmmbop" Hanson (I dare you to listen to this without smiling.)
"Mr. Jones" Counting Crows ("I felt so symbolic yesterday")
"Man on the Moon" R.E.M.
"Wicked Game" Chris Issak
"Under the Bridge" Red Hot Chili Peppers
"What a Good Boy" Barnaked Ladies
"Little Bird" Annie Lennox
"Tom" Audra McDonald
"The Air that I Breathe" k.d. lang
"Nothing Compares 2 U" Sinead O'Connor
"Hello (Turn Your Radio On)" Shakespear's Sister
"Nothing Else Matters" Metallica
"Stay" Lisa Loeb
"Buddy Holly" Weezer
"Sometimes Always" The Jesus and Mary Chain (with Mazzey Star)
"My Ship" Dawn Upshaw
"Zoot Suit Riot" Cherry Poppin' Daddies (Worst band name. Ick.)

Why?

Biblical toys grace Wal-Mart shelves

Ok, granted, I'm not Christian, and I'm barely spiritual, but something about this idea gives me the heebie-jeebies. I can't help but think that this is just wrong.

Maybe it's got something to do with the Commandment prohibiting graven images or some such. Maybe I have just enough awe of whatever Holy Spirit that may be "out there" that I don't think it should be cheapened by plastic, rubber, and space-age polymers. I think I like the gods to be more inscrutable and not so easily commercialized as to be purchased at Wal-Mart.

Ick.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Vacation -- So Happy To Be Home

I meant to post some comments about my vacation last week, but I acquired some sort of food poisoning or something and wasn't really interested.

Short version: Fun was had. Family is, well, family.

Longer version later in the week, maybe even pictures. I promise.

Univision #1 Network for Entire Week Beating ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and CW

Yeah, like there's anything to watch in Spanish either.

Friday, August 24, 2007

C Ya Real Soon!

Things will be a bit quieter than usual for a few days, as I'm flying to the Left Coast to spend a few days in HELL.A. On the up side, I get to spend three days at the DisneyLand resort and have at least one fabulous meal. On the down side, I have to spend it with side of my family that causes me the most stress -- my own. After that I get to spend another couple of days in the middle of nowhere (seriously, the nearest movie theater is an hour away!) with my poor dear Grams, who just hasn't been the same since her stroke more than a year ago. Also, T gets to stay here to take care of the kitties, and I'll miss him awfully. I trust he'll watch plenty of Ninja Warrior.

So, I will be back soon with Tales from the Flip Side.

If you have any spare karma, send it westward. I could use just a wee bit less stress. At this point, I just want to get there with no trauma.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Squee!, Part 2

Look! Wee baby fuzzies!


Squee!

It's here! It's here! Finally, at long last, it's here.

Branagh's Hamlet has been finally been released on DVD!

I know this movie has its detractors, but I love it. A word-for-word adaptation of what is arguably Shakespeare's greatest play on screen. I saw it during my final undergrad semester at UF, when I was, conveniently, taking a course in Shakespeare. (Oddly, Hamlet wasn't on the syllabus that semester.) Anyway, it played at the Hippodrome for a week or two, then it went away, then it came back in the summer due to popular demand. I actually paid real money to sit my considerable bottom in a movie theater seat for 4+ hours at least two, and I think three, times. I was fortunate that, at that time, I had no issues whatsoever understanding the language because I had been immersed in Chaucerian Middle English and Shakespearean "modern" English for two semesters. I probably could have spoken in iambic pentameter if I had been asked.

I love this movie!

First, the movie is absolutely gorgeous. The cinematography, the sets, the costumes, the actors: It's all just so pretty! Turn the sound off and just let the scenery be your wallpaper for a while.

Second, the acting is really quite good. Yes, Branagh-the-Director allows Branagh-the-star to be a little over-indulgent, but come on, it's Hamlet. One should be allowed to chew a little scenery. My Darling Boy is a big fan of Kate Winslet (as should all straight males), and I love her Ophelia; she's just heartbreaking in her mad scene. Charleton (Chuck!) Heston as the Player King recites the Fall of Troy with the Voice of God, and I'm spellbound. Derek Jacobi's choices as the murderous uncle are intriguing: neither ruthless nor terrified, he walks the tightrope between them with grace and skill. The biggest revelation to me is Billy Crystal. You know, that City Slickers/Fernando guy. In playing the Grave Digger, Crystal speaks the words of the Bard effortlessly. You would think he's a genuine Shakespearean actor, all trained up with the Royal Shakespeare Company. It's one of those rare moments of stunt casting that just works. Oh, and Rufus Sewell as Fortinbras? Smokin'. Hot.

Last, and in no way least, it's freakin' all of freakin' Hamlet! By William Shakespeare! Unedited! I could just close my eyes and listen to the language.

There are some failures. Ok, in my opinion, really just two.

Jack Lemmon is/was a great actor that perfectly embodies the late-mid-20th-century American male. His performance in Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross as the latter-day Willy-Lomanish Shelley Levene is heartbreaking and riveting. He's utterly relatable as Ensign Pulver in Mr. Roberts and as Felix Unger in The Odd Couple. He should never have been allowed near Hamlet; he's clearly out of his comfort zone, and he's jarring and unconvincing.

Robin Williams is a great-ish actor, depending upon his facial hair. Unfortunately, in Hamlet, he looks like a refugee from the Emerald City. I'm usually too distracted by his appearance to pay attention to his performance. My overall impression is that he's too uncomfortable in his over-the-top costume to give a good performance. Also, I think his part would be better played by a 14-year-old page boy.

Now, all these opinions are based on opinions I formed upon seeing the movie 11 years ago. I can't wait to watch it again to see if I've changed my mind. We'll see.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Stardust: A Review

Now that life has settled back into a normal routine, at least temporarily, my Darling Boy took me to the movies yesterday to see Stardust. I have wanted to see this movie more than any other this summer, except for Pirates of the Carribean: At World’s End. As a member of the generation that grew up on The Princess Bride, I have wanted another good, quirky, romantic fantasy for many years. No, Shrek doesn’t count.

As I have rambled on at length on bill’s blog today (so sorry, bill), I love Neil Gaiman’s work. I first heard about him sometime in the early ’90s, then I found out he was a good friend of Tori Amos’, and was, in fact, the “Neil” she often mentions in her songs. (I loved early Tori in my younger “college girl” days.) I never had time to read anything he had written because I was too busy becoming too over-educated for my own good. When I finally recovered my senses and started reading for fun, I saw Gaiman’s Neverwhere at a bookstore, remembered all the good things I had heard, and picked it up. I’ve been a devoted little fan girl ever since, even going so far as to purchase all ten volumes of his Sandman series of graphic novels (at $20 a pop) and the associated spin-offs and add-ons. I have not gone so far as to buy the new Absolute Sandman, but only because I haven’t entirely lost my mind.

Anyway, Stardust is the first of Gaiman’s novels to make it to the big screen, and I have been aquiver with anticipation since they started filming. This might be the most successful book-to-film adaptations I’ve ever seen, and it way out-classes the Harry Potter movies. To be clear, many of my favorite moments from the book didn’t make it into the movie, and the movie added some action sequences not found in the book. That’s ok. They are entirely separate media, and the movie remains true to the heart and soul of the book, which is the most important thing.

Some thumbnail impressions:


First, Claire Danes is absolutely luminous as Yvaine. When I first heard she had been cast in the role, I wasn’t sure if she was pretty enough for the part. She is definitely pretty enough and just marvelous in the role.

The producers of the The Pirates of the Carribean movies need to hurry up and cast Charlie Cox as Will Turner III right exactly now; he is the heir apparent to Orlando Bloom, only not quite as girly-pretty. I just figured it out: He looks like the secret love child of Robert Sean Leonard and Orlando Bloom.

Michelle Pfeiffer is perfect as Lamia. Given how great she was in The Witches of Eastwick so long ago, it’s clear she should always play witches.

The roles of Princes in the movie are worth at least half the price of admission; you'll just have to trust on on this and see for yourself.

Critics seem to be raving about Robert DeNiro’s performance, and, to be sure, he’s quite the charmer in the role of Captain Shakespeare. I, personally, would give up his scenes in exchange for more exposition about the town of Wall, the mysterious market, and the exotic visitors who come for the market. I also would have liked Una to have been released from her captivity as described in the book. You’ll just have to read the book yourself to see what I mean.




In contrast to Stardust, the first four Harry Potter movies (I’ve not seen the fifth yet) try too hard to literally translate entire sequences from the books, and, in doing so, end up without the time to really explore the heart and soul of the story. As a result, the Harry Potter movies seem more like visual Cliff’s Notes of the books; they look great, but the deeper points of the stories are somehow lost.

So, anyway, if you want to see a good old fashioned romantic adventure with a heart, go see Stardust. Preferably with someone who makes you glow inside.

When you've done that, go buy the graphc novel for another tasty treat. If the movie is like a really good chocolate chip cookie, then the graphic novel is like a great chocolate chip cookie with butterscotch chips and vanilla ice cream. (The non-illustrated novel is a really good chocolate chip cookie with fewer chocolate and butterscotch chips and no ice cream.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Please send good vibes

Icepick/T/my Darling Boy's mom is being admitted to the hospital with an undiagnosed infection and abdominal pain (appendicitis is one possibility). If you have any to spare, please send prayers/positive thoughts/good vibrations toward Orlando. She's almost 80, so we're concerned.

Thanks. I'll try to update later.

UPDATE on T's blog here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

There Goes My Street Cred

As a follow up, I took the below referenced "Sublime Philosophical Crap Test", and my results are below.

Let me just say "Huh?" I'm pretty sure this wasn't covered in my Intro to Philosophy class in Junior College.


Your Score: R-A-O


You scored 44% Non-Reductionism, 88% Epistemological Absolutism, and 55% Moral Objectivism!



You are an R-A-O: a metaphysical Reductionist, an epistemological Absolutist, and a moral Objectivist. What does this all mean? Well, keep reading to find out.


Metaphysics: Reductionism (Monism or Positivism) In metaphysics, my test measures your tendency towards Reductionism or Non-Reductionism. As a Reductionist, you like to cut away the metaphysical fat as opposed to multiplying concepts and entities like so many baby rabbits. The two broad categories of Reductionists that my test recognizes are Monists and Positivists.

1. Monists do not cut away the metaphysical fat so much as they just put the meat into a grinder and synthesize the fat into the meat. They tend to condense particular things and ideas into a Unity or Absolute, in other words. If you believe that reality is ultimately a unity and that mind and matter both exist but are simply two different ways of looking at the same substance, then you are a neutral monist in the sense of Spinoza. If you believe that reality is ultimately an Absolute because a whole is more than just the sum of its parts, proven by the fact that we can never have knowledge of a particular thing unless we also grasp its relations to the ultimate Absolute or whole of reality with which it is bound up, and if you feel that this Absolute is characterized by Spirit or Mind, and not matter, then you share the same views as Hegel and even Plato to a degree. A monist--because he or she believes that reality is a Unity or Absolute--tends to synthesize all particulars into universals, deny the reality of matter (Hegel) or mind (Spinoza, sort of), and so on. These concepts are all cast into the meat grinder and come out as a unified whole. Famous monists include philosophers such as Hegel, Spinoza, and Parmenides.

If none of the above sounded like you, then you are most definitely the other type of Reductionist. 2. Positivists, unlike monists, do not synthesize two apparently competing views into one--instead, they do away with one of the views, that being the one that cannot be empirically verified. A positivist, then, cuts away the metaphysical fat as meaningless conjecture about nothing in particular. He relies primarily on a tool called Ockham's Razor to shave away these ideas. Ockham's Razor states that we should do away with any hypotheses that needlessly multiply explanatory entities. For instance, in regards to the dispute about the existence of universals, a positivist tends to adopt the position of nominalism--which is the belief that only particulars are real. A universal is only a linguistic construction we use to put particulars into groups--meaning we can reduce all universals to the sum of their parts, that being particulars. After all, we can never have empirical experience of "whiteness", only particular things that are white--nor have we ever observed the universal "mankind", though we can observe individual men. On the mind-body problem, a positivist will be likely to do away with the concept of "mind", reducing it to a material product of our brain functioning. This position is often referred to as the Identity-Theory, because it equates mental states to states of the brain. Clearly, a positivist tends towards a materialistic outlook. Positivism will also revile any idealist conception of reality, which maintains that the world of experience and perception is merely a phenomenal world, whereas the "real" world lies underneath experience and is fundamentally unknowable. A positivist will tend to do away with the idealist hypothesis as needless and unverifiable. Well-known positivists include Carnap, Ayer, and Wittgenstein.

*****


Epistemology: Absolutism (Rationalism or Pragmatism) My test measures one's tendency towards Absolutism or Skepticism in regards to epistemology. As an Absolutist, you believe that objective knowledge is possible given the right approach, and you deny the claims of skeptical philosophers who insist that we can never have knowledge of ultimate reality. The two types of Absolutists recognized by my test are Rationalists and Pragmatists.

1. Rationalists believe that the use of reason ultimately provides the best route to truth. A rationalist usually defines truth as a correspondence between propositions and reality, taking the common-sense route. Also, rationalists tend to believe that knowledge of reality is made possible through certain foundational beliefs. This stance is known as foundationalism. A foundationalist believes that, because we cannot justify the truth of every statement in an infinite regress, we ultimately reach a foundation of knowledge. This foundation is composed of a priori truths, like mathematics and logic, as well as undoubtable truths like one's belief in his or her own existence. The belief that experiences and memories are veridical is also part of the foundation. Thus, for a rationalist knowledge of reality is made possible through our foundational beliefs, which we do not need to justify because we find them to be undoubtable and self-evident. In regards to science, a rationalist will tend to emphasize the foundational assumptions of scientific inquiry as prior to and more important than scientific inquiry itself. If science does lead to truth, it is only because it is based upon the assumption of certain rational principles such as "Every event is caused" and "The future will resemble the past". Philosophy has a wide representation of philosophical rationalists--Descartes, Spinoza, Liebniz, and many others.

If that didn't sound like your own views, then you are most likely the other type of Absolutist: the Pragmatist. 2. Epistemological Pragmatists are fundamentally identified by their definition of truth. Truth is, on this view, merely a measure of a proposition's success in inquiry. This view is a strictly scientific notion of truth. A proposition can be called true if it leads to successful predictions or coheres best with the observed facts about the world. Thus, for the pragmatist, knowledge of reality is possible through scientific reasoning. A pragmatist emphasizes man's fallibility, and hence takes baby-steps towards knowledge through scientific methodology. Any truth claim for a pragmatist is open to revision and subject to change--if empirical observations lead us to call even logical rules into question (like quantum physics has done for the law of the excluded middle), then we can and should abandon even these supposed a priori and "absolutely certain" logical rules if they do not accord with our testing and refuting of our various propositions. As a consequence of this, a pragmatist doesn't feel that scientific knowledge is based upon unfounded assumptions that are taken to be true without any sort of justification--rather, they believe that the successes of scientific inquiry have proved that its assumptions are well-founded. For instance, the assumption of science that the future will be like the past is adequately shown by the amazing success of scientific theories in predicting future events--how else could this be possible unless the assumption were true? Pragmatism borrows elements from realism and yet attempts to account for the critiques made by skeptics and relativists. It is essentially a type of philosophical opportunism--it borrows the best stances from a large number of philosophical systems and attempts to discard the problems of these systems by combining them with others. Famous pragmatists of this type are Peirce and Dewey.

*****


Ethics: Objectivism (Deontology or Logical Positivism) In Ethics, my test measures your tendency towards moral Objectivism or moral Relativism. As a moral Objectivist, you are opposed to Subjectivist moral theories and believe that morality applies to people universally and actually describes objects and situations out in the world as opposed to just subjects themselves. The two types of moral Objectivists my test recognizes are Kantian Deontologists and Utilitarians.

1. Kantian Deontologists believe that the one intrinsic good is a good will. As rational beings capable of making decisions, the moral worth of our decisions is ultimately derived from the intentions behind our actions, not their consequences. A moral being does the right thing not out of recognition of any consequences, but out of a sense of moral duty. For Kant, a good will is the ultimate good because to deny the will is to deny the one thing that makes us rational, moral beings. If an act will accord with or further our status as free, rational beings, and it is possible to will the universalization of such a moral principle without infringing upon our good wills, then an act is good. Kant's categorical imperative provides an objective standard to judge moral worth--it is not hypothetical in the sense of other imperatives, which hide a latent if-clause. For instance, "Eating razors is good" is good ONLY if you tack on an if-clause that says something like: "If you wish to destroy your gums." Thus, the categorical imperative is good, not just IF something is the case, but in ALL cases. It requires people to treat others as ends, and not means to ends, for to treat everyone as a means to an ends would be to deny them their ability to function as rational, free beings--which is what makes morality possible in the first place. The major propnent of this view in the history of philosophy is, quite obviously, Kant.

If that didn't sound like your position, then you are probably the other variety of moral Objectivist--the Utilitarian. 2. Utilitarians define "happiness" or "pleasure" as the sole intrinsic good, and the principle "The greatest pleasure for the greatest number" best reflects a Utilitarian view of ethics. Utilitarianism is a consequentialist moral theory, meaning the consequences of an action--not the intentions behind it--determine the act's moral worth. Even if you intended to do great evil with a certain act, if the act produces a net gain of pleasure and happiness for the greatest number, then it was indeed a good act because your intentions weren't realized. What matters in this scenario, obviously, is the consequences of the act. Utilitarianism, of course, can also be reduced to Hedonism. If you do not feel that the greatest happiness of the greatest number matters, but only pay heed to the greatest happiness of individuals, then you are more adequately classified as a Hedonist. But both Utilitarians and Hedonists define "pleasure" as an intrinsic good and determine the moral worth of an act through its consequences. The only difference is whether we measure the collective pleasure of a group or only an individual's pleasure. Prominent Utilitarians include Bentham and Mill.

*****

As you can see, when your philosophical position is narrowed down there are so many potential categories that an OKCupid test cannot account for them all. But, taken as very broad categories or philosophical styles, you are best characterized as an R-A-O. Your exact philosophical opposite would be an N-S-R.

About the Author


Saint_gasoline is a crazed madman who spends all of his time writing OKCupid tests and ranting about philosophy and science. If you are interested in reading more of his insane ramblings, or seeing his deliciously trite webcomic, go to SaintGasoline.com.


Link: The Sublime Philosophical Crap Test written by saint_gasoline on OkCupid, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Yeah, that sounds right

I bring you The Personality Defect Test, by way of my Darling Boy. If you were to realize just how appropriate our results are, you would know beyond all doubt that we are a pretty unbearable pair. How other people stand being around us, I'll never know.


Your Score: Haughty Intellectual


You are 57% Rational, 0% Extroverted, 28% Brutal, and 71% Arrogant.



You are the Haughty Intellectual. You are a very rational person, emphasizing logic over emotion, and you are also rather arrogant and self-aggrandizing. You probably think of yourself as an intellectual, and you would like everyone to know it. Not only that, but you also tend to look down on others, thinking yourself better than them. You could possibly have an unhealthy obsession with yourself as well, thus causing everyone to hate you for being such an elitist twat. On top of all that, you are also introverted and gentle. This means that you are just a quiet thinker who wants fame and recognition, in all likelihood. Like so many countless pseudo-intellectuals swarming around vacuous internet forums to discuss worthless political issues, your kind is a scourge upon humanity, blathering and blathering on and on about all kinds of boring crap. If your personality could be sculpted, the resulting piece would be Rodin's "The Thinker"--although I am absolutely positive that you are not nearly as muscular or naked as that statue. Rather lacking in emotion, introspective, gentle, and arrogant, you are most certainly a Haughty Intellectual! And, most likely, you will never achieve the recognition or fame you so desire! But no worries!


To put it less negatively:

1. You are more RATIONAL than intuitive.

2. You are more INTROVERTED than extroverted.

3. You are more GENTLE than brutal.

4. You are more ARROGANT than humble.


Compatibility:

Your exact opposite is the Schoolyard Bully. (Bullies like to beat up nerds, after all.)

Other personalities you would probably get along with are the Braggart, the Hand-Raiser, and the Robot.

*

*

If you scored near fifty percent for a certain trait (42%-58%), you could very well go either way. For example, someone with 42% Extroversion is slightly leaning towards being an introvert, but is close enough to being an extrovert to be classified that way as well. Below is a list of the other personality types so that you can determine which other possible categories you may fill if you scored near fifty percent for certain traits.

The other personality types:

The Emo Kid: Intuitive, Introverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Starving Artist: Intuitive, Introverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Bitch-Slap: Intuitive, Introverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Brute: Intuitive, Introverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Hippie: Intuitive, Extroverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Televangelist: Intuitive, Extroverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Schoolyard Bully: Intuitive, Extroverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Class Clown: Intuitive, Extroverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Robot: Rational, Introverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Haughty Intellectual: Rational, Introverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Spiteful Loner: Rational, Introverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Sociopath: Rational, Introverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Hand-Raiser: Rational, Extroverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Braggart: Rational, Extroverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Capitalist Pig: Rational, Extroverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Smartass: Rational, Extroverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

Be sure to take my Sublime Philosophical Crap Test if you are interested in taking a slightly more intellectual test that has just as many insane ramblings as this one does!

About Saint_Gasoline


I am a self-proclaimed pseudo-intellectual who loves dashes. I enjoy science, philosophy, and fart jokes and water balloons, not necessarily in that order. I spend 95% of my time online, and the other 5% of my time in the bathroom, longing to get back on the computer. If, God forbid, you somehow find me amusing instead of crass and annoying, be sure to check out my blog and my webcomic at SaintGasoline.com.

Link: The Personality Defect Test written by saint_gasoline on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Baby?

The Darling Boy and I have finally made the decision we’ve been inching toward for many years now. After sitting on the fence and dithering for the last ten years(give or take), T and I have set a rough time line for having a baby.

If I’m being completely honest with myself (and with whomever may be reading this), I have to admit that I’ve never really not wanted children. Sure, there were those summer jobs with the Park & Recreation Department and various babysitting jobs that made me swear I would never have brats of my own (See how you feel after teaching arts & crafts to a group of 30 kids between the ages of 3 and 12; I dare you!), but my habit of compulsively buying used children’s books betrayed the truth. I want a child; I want to be a mom.

The urge hit me hard sometime between 1997 and 1998. I really wanted a baby, pretty much right exactly then. I think the “Monica wants a baby” storyline on Friends woke up the urge. That, and the adorable “Classic Pooh” baby items I kept seeing in stores. I bought some pregnancy books, to try to sort of prepare myself for having a baby.

Originally, the plan was that T and I would have a baby as soon as one of us finished grad school. That turned out to be me in 1999. Then, we decided waited until T finished grad school. Then, the bills started rolling in, and I couldn’t get a decently paying job to save my life (over qualified, doncha know). Then, T decided to leave grad school and get a job. Then, we basically got thrown out of our apartment but were saved when T got a job in Baltimore. Then, more bills started rolling in; I still couldn’t get a decently paying job; and we almost had our power shut off in the middle of winter. Of all the “never an ideal time to have a baby” times, that was the worst time to even consider the possibility.

Our time in Baltimore was an emotionally difficult one for me. I didn’t have really secure employment for the first two years of our three-year sojourn, and I was very aware of our (lack of) money. My dad died from prostate cancer, and I couldn’t imagine raising a child without Daddy in my life. I was pretty depressed November through March each of the three years we were there; I just didn’t react well to the cold, the dark, and the never-melting snow. I started to have doubts about whether or not I really wanted to be a parent. It seemed that every time I turned around, there was another article about the joys of non-parenthood, the pleasures of adults living for themselves, and the trials and pains of childrearing. Throw in the uncertainty of the world after September 11, and maybe you’ll understand the doubts, concerns, and outright fears I had.

Finally, after our worst, truly horrible, winter, T got a job back in Orlando: the city where we met and that has always felt most like home to me. My outlook on life improved; although I still had a hell of a time finding good, steady employment. Our financial situation, while still not good, now is at least secure and improving. I have a job that I love and which loves me back. It’s a very secure position, which isn’t overly dependent on any one market sector. I have some insanely generous benefits, and they’ve just given me a rather large bump in salary. I’ve been there just over two years now; I can be fully vested in my 401(k) plan in another three years. I have no reason to think they won’t work with me on my schedule.

Through the years, I would ask T to give me his thoughts on the whole parenthood thing. I admitted to being most decidedly undecided, but I didn’t really know where T stood on the issue. How much did he want children? Did he want them only because he thought I did? Would he be hurt or relived if I said I did or didn’t? He continued to state he was undecided as well. And we allowed our mutual indecision to carry us along for a while.

As a Christmas/10th Wedding Anniversary present, T’s present to me was a decision: Yes. Let’s start a family. Let’s make this final decision and work toward this goal. The fact that I was so happy I cried should tell you how much that meant to me. I hadn’t dared admit it to myself how much I wanted a child.

So, that leads me to where we are now. Over the Fourth of July weekend, T and I had some heart-to-heart talks and finally decided on a plan. At this time, T and I have decided that I will get off The Pill at the start of the year. We will start trying to have a baby in early April. After that, it’s up to biology.

So, having made this decision, which I’m very happy about, I’m still pretty damn well freaked. Is this the right decision?

First, I have to admit that I am fat. Not just pleasantly plump. I love food. I hate exercise. The rest is pretty self-evident. Considering that I’m over 35, can I have a “normal” pregnancy? My doctors have said there may be some complications but nothing to really worry about. Would I be better off losing weight? Almost certainly, but I don’t want to lose weight only to put it back on by getting pregnant. Also, I would be even older than I am now and still risk complications, including the chance of decreased fertility. You know, I’ve been on The Pill for over 15 years; I’m just concerned about getting pregnant. I’ll deal with the rest later.

Then, what if I actually get pregnant? Then what? What if the baby has genetic problems? What if it’s not “normal”? What if I have a miscarriage? What if…?

You get the picture.

And, of course, I still have doubts about my ability to be a good, or even reasonably not horrible, parent. I am not a patient, tolerant person in general. I don’t do especially well around sick people (ask T about it sometime). I spent most of my late childhood and adolescence taking care of my little sister, and I have greatly enjoyed not being responsible for really anyone except myself for most of the last 18 years. I mean, T is perfectly capable of getting his own dinner and bathing himself. I dislike the idea of setting an alarm on weekend mornings because we have to get ready for the little league soccer game. I don’t have any friends, and I’m not much of a joiner; how am I supposed to help a child develop healthy social lives? I hate putting down my book in the middle of chapter; what if I never get a chance to go on a good reading jag again?

Yeah, I’ve got doubts. I’m also ridiculously excited. . I’ve only told one other person, a co-worker, because I had to tell someone. I will tell my family when I go out there at the end of August; these plans will impact how much I’m able to travel to California to help with my grandmother. I hate to put extra burdens on them, but I can’t afford to fly out there three times a year if we’re trying to save money. I’ll probably let my supervisor know after the Christmas break.

So, that’s where we are. I feel like a nervous wreck, just waiting for time to pass so we can get on with it. (We need to pay a few things off, which is why we’re waiting until the end of the year.) I’m not sure how T feels about it. He’s not a super-expressive guy (unless he’s playing chess or watching football), but he seems relatively unflapped by this rather major decision. Not that I’m complaining; I supposed it’s better than having him running around like a crazy man, preemptively handing out cigars. Still, it feels like there should be more. I’m sure I’m just being insane. Welcome to my reality.

My emotions seem to be running really high, and I’m not sure if it’s normal. Again, we’ve only decided on a rough timeline; there are no physical issues yet. But, seriously, I started reading a book in which the main character’s girlfriend has a miscarriage in the opening pages, and I thought I was going to just fall apart right there. Good thing I was at work and reading on my lunch break. I’m just aquiver with anticipation. I can’t wait to see what I’m like when the hormones start raging.

So, to sum up: We’ve decided to try to have a baby next year. I’m freaked. I don’t think T is. And I don’t know what to think about any of it.

Any questions? Advice? Comments from the Peanut Gallery?

Best HP7 Foiler I've heard today:

Via the "Today's New: My Take" column at TVGuide.com:


Voldemort's a sled!


(If you need me to explain it, I will, but I promise it won't be funny in that case.)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Things I promise to blog about soon

1) Baby? Done. See above.

2) Essay writing and higher education

3) Books, books, and more books

4) The joys (or lack thereof) of a low-starch diet

Stay tuned!

Cookies!

I made cookies over the weekend: Chocolate/butterscotch chip cookie bars with lots of walnuts!

I don't make cookies often. Actually I think this might be only the second time since the Darling Boy and I have been together, and that's been over 13 years.

These cookies rule! I might make more next weekend, after the big reading binge. (See the post below.) Stop by if you're in the area, and maybe I'll share.

Who has time to blog? (aka Some thoughts about HP7)

The Darling Boy keeps poking at me to write. I want to post more; I really do. But blogging cuts into my reading time, and I do love my reading time. Anyway, don't expect me to be around next weekend at all. (Not that anyone expects me to be around on any kind of regular basis at this point.)

This weekend is Harry Potter weekend. Yes, at long last, the last book. What will befall our bespectacled hero? Will he live? Will he die? I suspect that certain segments of the internet will be quite deserted Saturday, as millions of readers tune out this world to enter the other. My Darling Boy has generously (and wisely) decided to abscond to the chess shop so that he won't disturb me. No telling which of us will be in greater emotional distress at the end of the day.

Personal predictions:

(Spoiling Books 1-6)

(Spoiler Space)

(No Book 7 spoilers here, I swear. I do intend to speculate some, and I don't know if I will hit the mark on any of them. Read at your own risk.)

(Non-Spoiler Spoiler Space)

(Sorry. People tend to get awfully sensitive about spoilers where I tend to lurk.)


So. Personal Predictions:

Harry lives. Harry has to live. Since Book 1, Chapter 1, Harry has been "The Boy Who Lived." To kill him now would make his survival in infancy and his death-defying Hogwarts career pointless. Harry doesn't die. It would render his entire 17-year existence pointless. Harry will be "The Man Who Survived". (I will it so.)

Ron, Hermione, and Ginny will probably live too. I can't quite articulate why. Rowling doesn't seem to mind killing popular and important characters, but I think this group of friends (and lovers, in the adolescent kind of way) will, like Buffy and the Scooby Gang at the end of Season 3 (Graduation Day Parts 1 & 2), survive the devastation, take a moment, and move on to the next stage in life. There's always a good fight waiting to be won.

Snape is toast. I actually think that Snape is one of the good guys. Lord knows he's not nice, kind, sweet, lovable. Like Sondheim says in Into the Woods, "Nice is different than good." Fact is Snape killed Dumbledore. Even if he did it under Dumbledore's orders, he can't take back that act. He can't return to the Order of the Phoenix (OotP); even if they understand, they won't forget, and they can't pretend that everything is normal. Snape might be able to hide out for a while with the Death Eaters, but as soon as he's ordered to kill Harry or anyone in the OotP, he will falter and be found out. I believe he will be killed, while saving Harry, by Voldemort himself. It sounds cliched, but I think it's the most probable outcome for Snape. On a side note, I don't believe the Lily/Snape 'ship that many internet fans seem to be sailing. I do think that Snape was in love with Lily, but I don't believe for a minute it was reciprocated. Snape will save Harry because Harry has Lily's hazel eyes. (Bonus cookie for anyone who can name that particular reference!)

I think Hagrid is also marked for death. I don't have a good reason, but it just seems right.

I think Mr. and Mrs. Weasley are safe thought. Harry can't lose his entire surrogate family. Percy, however, will die after seeing the error of his ways, apologizing profusely to his family for being a relentless boorish prat (the family, of course, forgives him in a shower of tears and hugs), and defending them all by flinging levitating cauldrons (regulation strength) at Peter Pettigrew (stupid family rat). Fred and George Weasley's various practicale jokes wreak havoc among the Death Eaters; it turns out Bellatrix has a uncontrolable sweet tooth that plays right into the Weasley twins' hands.

Neville is going to have gloriously heroic death. His parents would have been so proud.

The Malfoys survive, but find the family fortune was replaced by leprechaun gold and must now (shudder) work for a living. Malfoy will follow his favorite teacher's footsteps and become the most hated teacher at Hogwarts (except among the Slytherians).

McGonagall will hold down the Hogwarts fort until Harry is ready to assume the mantle of youngest Headmaster in Hogwarts history, but only after his glorious career as the greatest Quidditch Seeker known by the wizarding world.

So. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Until Saturday anyway.

Monday, June 25, 2007

What I've Read Lately

I'm not going to review everything I've read, because as my Darling Boy could tell you, I read way too much to even keep track, and I'm reading too much to blog about it.

Anyway.

I finished the new Michael Chabon book, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, about a week ago. I got it from the library, and I'm considering buying it so I can have it with me all the time. I really enjoyed it, but I didn't quite have the time or patience to appreciate the way I think it should probably be appreciated.

It seemed that the first two-thirds of the book were focused on character development and the outline of a plot. The plot rushed forward rather quickly during the last third. I'm not that familiar with the noir genre or detective stories in general, so maybe that was intentional. I can't tell you if it's true to the genre, but it felt like exactly what I would expect noir to be.

Chabon's writing, though, is just gorgeous. Metaphors and similes were just pouring out at every turn, and I could feel the air and see the quality of the light. It was so dense and rich and flavorful. And then I wanted him to stop with the prose and get on with the story.

Yiddish words and phrases are used heavily, and the meaning is pretty clear by context. The use of Yiddish gave me a strange double vision feel of watching this segregated culture from the outside, but, by being outsider, I understood their feelings of isolation and exclusion from the world.

I loved Landsman, in that way that made me want to kick him a few times, strictly for his own good.

Overall, I don't think I would recommend it for people who need a lot of action in their plots, but I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who wants to get to know characters, warts and all. I'm not sure that I love this book as much as I did Kavalier and Clay, but I want to read this one again soon, and I haven't felt that urge with the aforementioned Pulitzer Prize winner

But, lest you think that all I read are literary novels by trendy authors, I need to confess that as soon as I finsihed the Chabon, I curled with the new book in my favorite fantasy series and read the 700-page book in fewer than 24 hours.

Believe me, after the week I had, I deserved the time away. Pretty people, pretty clothes, pretty scenery, adventure, romance, and porn. Somtimes a girl just wants the simple things.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day

Today marks the fifth Father’s Day without my dad. Daddy died five years ago this month: June 4, 2002. To think I’ve lived five years of my life without talking to him, hearing his voice, getting his advice is almost unreal to me.

Daddy and I were very close. I moved away from home (with my mom and sister) in California a month after high school graduation to go to acting school in New York. When that didn’t work out, I decided to move in with Daddy in Florida. I lived with Daddy for just about five years, just the two of us. I worked, went to school, dated, and eventually met my guy before moving out and moving on. Through all of it, Daddy was a constant in my life: encouraging, lecturing, supporting; worried, surprised, disappointed, excited.

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy, wherever you might be. I am who I am because of you.


P.S. If you are over 40, please consider getting a routine physical, complete with prostate exam and PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test. The people in your life will be grateful.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Apropos of Nothing

and just because I feel like it, I present the greatest commerical ever made.





P.S. It's 2007, and, as my Chipotle calendar has pointed out, there are still no flying cars.

P.P.S. I love YouTube.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Why I shouldn't watch TV

So, Tim Minear has a new show. I love Tim. He's a semi-regular poster to a Buffy-fan board I (mostly) lurk on. He's smart and funny. He loves Sondheim. He's good to the fans.

However, I have real issues getting to his new show, Drive. In case you haven't heard, it's a show about "a secret, illegal, cross-country road race". Naturally, they start in Key West. Naturally, the majority of the three-hour, two-night premiere event took place in Florida, my adopted home state.

Here's what I posted in my forum:

I want to like this show. I really do. I have an unreasonable love for the way Nathan Fillion flares his nostrils. I like Los Hermanos Salazar. I have a healthy desire to throttle almost everyone else, which is a helpful way to channel my post-rush hour on I-4-commute agression.

However, as someone who has lived both in the middle of the Mojave Desert and in Gainesville, Florida, I can tell you with absolute certainity that the two landscapes look nothing like each other.

The biggest, longest laugh I had in tonight's episode was Corrina complaining that they would never leave Florida at the exact, precise moment that she was backed by the stunning mountains of California.

Tim, dude, you can make a Wax Lion talk. Why can't you photoshop out the mountains? Why can't you add some greenery? My disbelief can only be suspended so far.

I hate that I'm complaining about this, and it upsets me that I am this thoroughly agitated by this. I remember driving from Gainesville to Orlando when the swamps along the sides of the roads were so flooded that alligators were roadkill. You could drive 75 miles an hour down the highway and count dozens of gators lurking in the ditches along the side of the road.


I hereby offer my tour guide services of Central Florida to any entertainment producer type. I will even throw in a trip to Disney World. Please come to my home; take pictures; make some home movies; take notes. As Vi told us tonight, it's important to get the details right.

Alternately, don't show us the landscapes, because you're only going to annoy people in other states.

Ok, done now.

So, how about NF's nostrils?


I suppose I shouldn't get all worked up. The show's on Fox, which has a history of cancelling Tim's shows within six episodes (12 if you count Firefly, which is really a Joss Whedon show). The ratings for last night were not good. I should be stressing about the ratings instead of the production values; but really, I expect a lot more from Tim. I guess I'm just reacting to the sudden yet inevitable betrayal.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Finished! (mostly)

The DH and I have finished cataloguing our books, or, rather, the ones that are on shelves or otherwise easily accessible. We still have four or so boxes of language books (mostly Latin) and children's literature that will get catalogued next time we can actually get to said boxes. Current tally is 1430 books, but there are a few multi-volume sets that we only entered as a single item, so our actual volume total is closer to 1445.

Go on, take a look . We still have to edit some entries and add tags, but you can get a good feel for what we own. It appears as though the DH owns ways more books than I do. I think that surprises me.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

And One More

Over on Ann Althouse's blog, she has a topic regarding favorite buildings. I did something rare and commented (I think for the second time ever). (What? I'm shy!)

There is one building I didn't mention, mostly because it's a little embarassing. I have always, always loved the clock tower facade on the "It's a Small World" ride at DisneyLand. I remember it being so bright and shiny in white and silver and gold. The last time I was there (around summer '97) I was very surprised to see how very colorful it was. I don't know if I misremembered or if it had been repainted, but I was still in love with it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

As I was saying...

So, back here I mentioned Camille Paglia's Religion and Culture speech that was broadcast on C-SPAN. I promised to write some comments on it. Well, her monthly Salon column just came out today, and I remembered that I forgot to comment on the speech.

Alas, I did not take notes, so I will probably be a little scattered.

Let me start by saying that I have been a fan of Dr. Paglia's for many years, since my undergrad days at UF. I agree with most of her politics, but where she tends to go liberal/libertarian in her search for candidates to solve problems, I tend to think more moderately/conservatively. I think her opinions regarding cultural issues are just dead on.

What I liked most about Dr. Paglia speech is her insistence that religion must be understood and embraced, at least on an intellectual level. I, myself, am an agnostic, but I have always had an interest in people's religious beliefs and how those beliefs shape the cultures they create and the stories they tell. I believe that the movement to keep Judeo-Christian ideas out of public schools is misguided and that students would be better served if school districts included comparative religion courses in their curricula. Of course, such courses would need to be taught carefully, to ensure one religion is not taught to be above or below others, but I truly believe that these courses need to be taught.

I had something of an odd upbringing. I often say, "My daddy was raised Baptist, My mom was raised Lutheran, and I was raised." I remember going to Sunday school as a child, but, for me, it was another way to hear stories. When I was around 8 or 9, I came across D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths and was completely enthralled. At some point, my brain made the connection that the Bible stories from Sunday school and the stories about the Greek gods were basically the same. Nobody could tell me why we were supposed to believe in God but not Zeus. I decided to not decide and to believe that everybody had an equal likelihood of existing. I'll sort it out later.

What I found was that my interest in these different religions made my appreciation of history, art, and literature much stronger. I remember being appalled when one of my classmates in an upper-division Shakespeare course was having difficulties understanding some of the mythological allusions. How can anyone study Shakespeare without a foundation in Christianity and the classics?

I grant that there will be people who have no use for such matters. Another point that Dr. Paglia brought up during her speech is the necessity for the re-building of technical/vocational training in schools. Let's face it. There are a lot of students who have no interest in and no business participating in higher education. When did the school system decide everybody had to go to college? It's no longer true that only college-educated people get decent paying jobs. I'll bet your plumber and auto-mechanic make as much if not more than you do. The education system should re-open the auto and wood shops and bring back sewing and home ec. You might actually improve your graduation rates.

So, those are my thoughts. Go Art! Choose Religion! Literature Rocks!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Things that make you go "Hm"

Anyone else wonder how well Miss Ross and Little Sanjaya got along at their mentoring session?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

My New Obsession

I've found a new hobby: Library Thing. It was mentioned on a Buffy fan board I frequent (mostly in lurker mode). It is so cool. You can catalog your books and share your library with people. I promise to share mine (and Icepick's because I'm not about to try to separate our books) as soon as I have it done.

In the meantime, maybe you'll want to give it a try. I'll be back when (if) I'm done.

Update: Nowhere near done, but I have catalogued just over 300 books (four small sets of shelves) so far. I still have nine or ten sets of (larger) shelves to go. This project is way more fun than cleaning house or organizing paperwork. You can see our list here.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Oh No!

The following is the opinion of this blogger only and may or may not be factual. This ISP is not responsible for any idea expressed herein.

Huh. Whaddaya know? TV network execs in Australia are completely flummoxed by the idea that nobody came to their Save the World from Global Warming Party. (Link provided courtesy of Drudge.)

"Truthfully, we're confused," says Ten's network head of programming, Beverley McGarvey. "They didn't come. It's not like they came to the show, sampled it and went away. They didn't come.

"We had study guides in schools, we had the full support of the print media, both editorially and with advertising, and an extensive [Ten Network] on-air campaign with a number of different creative treatments and different stances.

"We spent a fortune to get the audience there and it didn't work. We've talked about it quite a lot internally. We're disappointed."

Study guides in schools? Support of the media? By god, why won’t we, the public, eat our broccoli when we're told to? Don't we know it's good for us? Next thing you know, we’ll be thinking for ourselves!

Sigh.

One more time people: Just because you, the media, think some idea or issue is important does not mean the rest of us actually care. This concept also applies to celebrity gossip and political wrangling. 24/7 coverage of Anna Nicole’s funeral is not necessary. We aren’t really dying to know. You say that you’re only covering the stories that get good ratings, but they only get good ratings because it’s the only story you're covering.

Here are some real news flashes:

  • Globe? Possibly warming; reasons to be determined.
  • Anna Nicole: Still dead. Please provide an update if, and only if, her zombified corpse rises from its grave to point to the father of her baby.
  • Britney? Nobody cares!

The viewing audience does not need to be told what's important or what to think or even how to feel about it. Please stop trying to indoctrinate us. Please stop preaching at us. Entertain us. Educate us even. Doing otherwise will cause you to risk losing your all advertisng revenue as we continue to turn to Netflix and pay cable to turn off the constant flow lecturing, posturing, and posing.

This just in: I am not the father of Anna Nicole's daughter. In related news, neither is my DH. Film will not be shown at 11.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Surprise?

I'm Tifauxing tonight's Idol results so I can catch up on Lost. I want to be on record with this prediction, however.

There is supposed to be some bigger than big announcement on Idol tonight. It's supposed to be so big that it just might change the world.

I believe that they have finally, at long last, found Elvis and are bringing him in to coach the contestants.

Will I be right? Tune in to find out.


UPDATE: Alas, no Elvis. Instead we have Idol charity. I have credit cards bills I'm willing to donate to the cause.

Worth the time?

I just finished reading Black Sun Rising, the first book in the "Coldfire" trilogy by C.S. Friedman. I found one of the central characters, Gerald Tarrant, to be interesting, but the overall plot left me, well, cold. I'm not sure that I'm interested in reading the rest of the series. It's not as if I've got any money invested from having already purchased them, since I get them from the library.

Has anyone else read the series? Any thoughts?

Why?!?!?!

This weekend, AMC (so very formerly known as "American Movie Classics") is showing Catwoman. More importantly, they keep advertising it like it's something to be proud of. Seriously. I've seen ads all over TVGuide.com. I assume they're just in it for the ad revenue.

To be fair, I haven't seen the movie. I can't say for certain that it is absolute dreck, but I haven't heard anybody say anything good about it. Never. I'm not even certain Halle Berry's attractive visage redeems any part of the movie.

What has poor AMC gotten itself into? Maybe TCM should just buy any remaining good films in AMC's library and put the channel out of our misery.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Melinda Does-a-Lot

Yes, I watch American Idol too. I tried to resist; I really did. But, I love the idea of Idol, that a talented person from the middle of nowhere could be discovered and successful. I, as a semi-talented person from the middle of nowhere, get really excited for the contestants. I often wish I were several years younger so I could try out myself.

I'm not really interested in doing weekly recaps. Other people have better and snarkier recaps, and I can't really add to that body of work. (But really, Jared, argyle? I kept waiting for you to shill for Jell-o pudding pops. And Jordyn, Pat Benatar didn't need the backup singers to hit the high notes. She did it herself.)

I like to focus on the good performances, and that's all about Melinda Doolittle. This former backup singer astounds me every week with her flawless vocals and nuanced interpretations. The DH thinks Lakisha has more pure talent, and that may be true. Lakisha seems to be singing arrangements that are nearly identical to the versions that made her famous. The fact that Lakisha has been talented enough to successfully pull off that feat has saved her from the judges' "copycat" label. Melinda has chosen different arrangements of well known songs that best show her range and versitility, and she has shown every week that practice and experience make talent shine even more brightly. I hope both women go far, but I'm rooting for Melinda.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Interesting viewing for insomniacs (or people like me)

I just finished watching (God bless the Tifaux) this Camille Paglia speech that was broadcast by C-span, as part of their American Perspectives series. I'm too tired to write much about it now, but the link goes to a viewable version of the speech. The topic was Religion and Art, which is one of my own scholarly interests.

Click over and watch, if you're interested. I'll share some thoughts on it later in the week, after I've had a chance to digest it.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

"Fun, Fun, Fun"

You know how I said below that I'm just a big old musical theatre geek. Well, I really am. One of the shows I've gotten hooked on in recent weeks is NBC's "Grease: You're the One that I Want", I confess that it's not exactly high art. I mean nobody ever said Grease was one of the classics of Broadway history. It's no Show Boat or Carousel. But it's bright and fun and popular, and the movie was one of the few successful of movie musicals after the 60s.

Anyway, I am completely hooked on this show. I love the fact that they are giving these kids to live out a dream. I'm sure it can't hurt Broadway either. While I wish they were doing this for a revival of some other show, or, better still, a brand new original
Jason Robert Brown show, I can't deny that Grease is the best show for NBC to showcase in this manner. Everybody is familiar with it (see above re: movie popularity), and Danny and Sandy are rather iconic characters at this point in time.

So anyway, I 'm hooked.

I'm personally rooting for Ashley, aka "Ballerina Sandy". She's absolutely beautiful, has the voice, the dance talent, and the right sexy ingenue look. Laura (aka "Small-town Sandy") seems to be Ashley's biggest competition, but she leaves me cold somehow. The only remaining contender is Allie ("Baby Sandy"), and I just don't think she's can really compete with the other two.

I'm split on the choices for Danny. Austin (aka "Hot Danny") is most assuredly hot, and he's got a great voice, but he's too polished in a way that Danny shouldn't be polished. Derek, also known as "Wholesome Danny", has the perfectly look for Danny; he's definitely talented, but I'm not sure he can hold up to eight live shows a week when he seems to have trouble getting through one. Max ("Slacker Danny") is really growing on me, and that's surprising. He's got talent and charm to spare, but he's no dreamboat, and I'm not quite sure he's the studly macho ladies' man Danny is supposed to be. He managed to be convincing tonight though; his hands have been all over the girls for the past couple of weeks, and he seems to enjoy it. Chad ("Ambitious Danny") just doesn't have enough charisma or energy to project to the back of a big Broadway house.

By the way, hundred years and another lifetime ago, I dreamed of being a Broadway star. My critiques come from hard-earned experience of my own. I know what these kids are going through, and I applaud them for getting this far. It's a hard, hard road they've chosen. I hope this show grants them many more opportunities.

P.S. In case you're not watching, the title of this post comes from the name of the Beach Boys song that Austin sang tonight. It's really not completely irrelevant.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Perfect Movies

I have a sort of mental list of, what I consider to be, "perfect movies". These movies aren't necessarily classics or award winners. They may or may not be critically or publicly acclaimed.

They are, however, in my estimation, perfect little jewels of filmmaking. Perfectly cast, perfectly paced, perfectly accomplishing whatever it is the filmmakers have managed to accomplish.

They are movies that I have seen dozens of times, often from somewhere in the middle, because once I stumble upon it on TV, I sit down and watch the entire rest of the movie, regardless of whatever task I was in the middle of performing.

There are several movies on my list. This is the first in a series of posts focusing on some of those perfect movies. I don't have a particular order for them, but I am am going to try to group them by genre. Today, because one of the many things I am is a great big musical theatre geek, I am going to start with musicals.

Victor/Victoria: I defy anyone to watch any scene with Robert Preston or Leslie Ann Warren and not laugh off their posteriors. The score, by Henry Mancini, is beautiful and whimsical. And Julie Andrew is, as always, practically perfect in every way.

Singin' in the Rain: This movie is so very joyful. There are whole scenes of dialogue that are always quotable. ("Dignity. Always dignity.") Jean Hagen, as the not-quite-as-dumb-as-she-sounds Lina Lamont, steals every scene she's in. ("'People?!' I ain't 'people'! I am a 'shimmering star in the cinema firmament.' It says so. Right here.") One note: The fabulous "Make 'Em Laugh" number is taken almost note for note from "Be a Clown", a song from another great Gene Kelly (and Judy Garland) movie, The Pirate.



Cabaret: This might be the first movie musical to avoid the controversial convention of movie musical: the idea that whole towns burst into the same song at the same time for no apparent reason. Bob Fosse very beautifully showcases all the musical numbers as acts within the cabaret and frames them to comment on the action. I've never been fortunate enough to see a stage version of this show, so I'm really not sure how much the stage version uses this convention. I know it works here regardless of the idea's origins. Also Liza Minnelli performs the role of her lifetime as the downtrodden Sally Bowles. If you ever wondered where the love for the downtrodden Liza comes from, look no further than this movie. Some fans of the text prefer a less obviously talented Sally; I prefer the idea that Sally's life choices are responsible for her (lack of) success. Her character seems much more tragic that way.

Contradictions

Today is one of those days where I'm annoyed enough with the world to write about current events.

Today
Drudge has a link to a CBS News/NYT poll that states the majority of those polled think the government should be more involved in the healthcare system.

This is the same government that is having
issues running its own flagship Army hospital.

Please understand that, while I have a lot of problems with the Bush administration, my criticism of the Walter Reed issues and of government-run healthcare in general have nothing to do with those objections. I just wonder when the
last time was that anyone expected the government to run a public service efficiently.

It seems to be that most people should be concerned about any kind of government-run healthcare system. Isn't the whole premise of the pro-choice movement based upon keeping government out of women's bodies? Of course, there is also the
ruckus about whether state and/or local governments should require school-age girls to take the HPV-vaccine. I guess feelings about government involvement in healthcare decisions comes down to what side of Debate X a person wants to take on a given day.

But, really, do you want anyone in Washington involved in your day-to-day healthcare decisions? Do you want them knowing, or caring, that you have a runny nose, a hurty tummy, an achy ear? How about an itchy rash on your private places? Feelings of depression? Chest pains? Cancer?

How involved should the government be in your medical issues? And do you trust them to treat you properly, efficiently, and with care or compassion?

And, as one last point, when was the last time the government spent less money on a program than the private sector?

Count me as highly skeptical if this idea should ever move forward.

Hello and Welcome

So. Huh. I guess I've started a blog. That was...unexpected.

Who am I?

No one special really. Female, happily married, thirty-something, no children, two cats. Too overly educated for my own good. Self-described "extreme moderate." Love my job. (When was the last time you heard that?)

Why am I here?

Sometimes I have thoughts that I need to share with someone other than my DH. And when I get annoyed with his refusal to
blog about something, he says, "Well , why don't you start a blog?"

Ok. Alright. You win. I've started a blog.


More about me:

I love media: music, movies, TV, and books. If this goes the way I hope, I will be writing mostly about these things. Occasionally, I'll dip into current events or politics, but that will mostly be when something has annoyed me enough to spend time thinking about it.

Oh, and one more thing;



If everyone would just elect me King, I could solve the world's, or at least the country's, problems. Really.