Sunday, June 10, 2007

Me, Drew and our friend Ammon are hitting the road for some summer fun. When it is all said and done, we will have traveled over 4000 miles, spent 60 hours in the car and passed through 8* states. I will have said the word "vacay" approximately 1 million times. In the process, we will see a lot of friends, family and countryside. We will sing off-key to lame songs that sound better in the car. We will take touristy pictures. We will probably fight. I will read. I will write. I will do nothing. I won't, however, be doing a lot of blogging. I'll probably do some when I have a stable internet connection. Or maybe not...I'll be busy--summering. I'm on vacay, people....

See that crazy look in my eye? Imagine that at mile 2,500. Scary.
* By 8 I really mean 15


Words about Words
When I was in elementary school, I was in a club called "Word Masters." While I shudder at the title now, the group was a lot of fun and it helped me kick ass* on one section of the GRE. We learned new vocabulary words, did analogies and other fun word puzzles. I loved it. (Lest, you think I was a complete nerd in those days, it was school sponsored and I was invited to join by my teacher--this was not something I put together myself and *ahem* mastered alone. I was far too busy organizing groups called "The Nifty Niners" and "Girls Who Like Sports.")

I've always liked words, their origins and definitions. I just don't like spelling the words. Words=good. Spelling=bad. I'm also pretty bad at the pronunciation. I think it is because I do so much silent reading (or because I'm actually NOT a word master), but I often say words aloud (like while I'm teaching, perhaps) and think to myself "Is that how you say that word? Crap, did I just say the wrong word?" Other times, Drew gives me a blank stare and says, "What word is that?" and I realize that I made it up.

I did pretty well at THIS. American Heritage Dictionary has put out a list of 100 words every high school graduate (and their parents) should know. Fun!

*By "kick ass," I mean "do average" but do WAY better than I did on the math section**.

** And by "math section," I mean "the part of the test that made me feel like the dumbest person on the face of the planet.


Friday, June 08, 2007
A Little Hope...
Recently a couple of friends recommended we watch Cash Cab--a game show on the Discovery Channel that takes place in a New York City cab and involves asking the randomly selected passengers trivia questions for money.

I'm addicted. You should watch it. Seriously.

The best part is that I've seen some VERY smart people on the show. Impressive people. People who give me hope that our country isn't as dumb as I thought.

I love t.v. that boosts morale.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Conversations with Other Women
As part of the aforementioned Weekend Move Marathon, we watched Conversations With Other Women.

A man runs into a woman at a wedding. They start to flirt and talk and find that they get along. Throughout their discussion, the man talks about certain memories as if they were common to the two of them. We gradually learn that there may have been a previous connection between these two when they were younger. This just leaves more questions as their past is slowly revealed.

I enjoyed the movie immensely and my fondness has only grown with further reflection on the plot, characters and dialogue. The movie is both laugh out loud funny and completely tragically sad. Both emotions speak to the powerful connection between the man and the woman.

While the movie is very short (about 80 minutes), it is so intimate and emotionally charged that I don't think I could have taken many more moments. I felt intrusive and uncomfortable.

The biggest source of discomfort for me was that I was simultaneously angry at the couple for violating their current romantic commitments and hopeful that they would decide to stay together, locked away in their hotel room.

Adding to the pleasure of the movie was the spit screen throughout. For me, it was a powerful visual narrative of the thoughts and memories going through the couples' heads during their extended conversation.

Great, great film.

P.S. Just in case I don't have time to write about them--I would also recommend Venus and Little Children. Especially Little Children. But settle into a deep, dark depression to watch it. WOW. You'll feel violated after viewing it.


Sunday, June 03, 2007
Pop Culture Abortion Politics
This weekend was movie marathon weekend. I will probably talk about all of the movies we watched at some point or another but the most pressing thing on my plate is to chat a little bit about Knocked Up--the new comedy by Judd Apatow (Freaks and Geeks, 40 Year Old Virgin). I am picky about my comedies. But I find Apatow's material VERY funny. Laugh out loud funny. This movie was no exception. I enjoyed it immensely as did the other 8 people I know saw it that day. As did the 1500+ people on IMDB.

The dialogue was realistic, the story line wasn't cheesy, and Paul Rudd was in it. I lurve Paul Rudd. Only, since the movie was about a one night stand gone wrong (Alison gets pregnant after sleeping with a guy that has no job, no motivation, no money...) you'd expect at least a [albeit funny] conversation about abortion. Alison is a young, successful woman not planning on becoming a mother. But the only option after she finds out she's pregnant is to have the baby. Granted, if she decided otherwise, there wouldn't be much need for the movie to continue. However, the lack of discussion is what bothered me.

Obviously the word "abortion" is never once uttered. There are two characters who address the option in a vague way. Jonah, a friend of Ben [the father], refers to it as the thing that "rhymes with 'shmashmortion'. " This discussion is not productive, however, because of Jonah's lack of ethos throughout the movie. He doesn't have a job. He doesn't have a successful interpersonal life. He smokes a lot of pot. The list could go on and on. He's a joke. And he is built as a character who is completely out of touch with reality. How fitting, then, that he would approach the subject of abortion. HIM. The guy totally out of touch with reality.

The second person to address abortion is Alison's mother who urges her to "take care of it." "IT." She is represented just like abortion advocates in the mainstream media--you know, the crazy people who hate babies and ignore the extremely personal aspect of mothering. She was cold and unloving. The more loving and mainstream characters never mention abortion or choice as a possibility for Alison. Alison is instructed by a doctor to "take care of" the "baby"shown on the screen at her first check up. Shortly after the visit, Alison tells Ben that she's "keeping the baby." The movie never addressed her thought process or the impact of that decision. An unrealistic storyline about her workplace struggle follows but most of the material realities of her decision are overlooked.

I know there will be people who think/comment that this is a "movie" and should be treated as such. I'm "over-reading the significance of the film" a reader may say. Obviously I disagree with that assessment. Media helps us make sense of complicated events. Even entertainment media. Maybe even especially entertainment media. This film sends a specific message about choice and responsibility. The message is covert, yes. But that makes it all the more dangerous.

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