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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Eclipse opening night

I had no intention of seeing the movie opening night, but, in the end, I found I didn't want to wait. I was sitting at my friend Diane's house in Flagstaff, on vacation, and reading something online about Eclipse (at the TwilightMoms website of course) and I thought, "Why am I sitting here reading about it when I could be watching it?" It was playing every hour on the half hour at the local multiplex, so it was easy enough to just head over and catch the next show. It wasn't sold out, but we did have to sit rather close. Matt and Caleb came with me.

I really enjoyed it. I was very aware of some scenes being condensed (e.g., when Edward comes back from the hunt and they canoodle on the bed, and then later get engaged - two separate scenes in the book and just one scene in the movie), and some minor changes (like Bella calls Edward "old fashioned" in the book and "old school" in the movie), and of course favorite lines left out, but I thought it was fun and very watchable. Lots of kissing - I approve! I thought they covered the basics of the book very well. They kept things moving along, and I thought they switched between intimate scenes and "action" quite nicely.

I can imagine that people who came for the action (like Caleb!) were disappointed (he was!) - the ads emphasized the action, but it was a total of maybe 20% of the film. Of course, I was pretty happy with the balance.

I thought Bryce Dallas Howard was fine as Victoria, though not great. I loved Rachel Lefevre, and thought she made a better Victoria - she was more substantial and more menancing (BDH is too cute & sweet looking). But Victoria was less present in Eclipse than I had expected, so I didn't think the actress change mattered as much as I thought it might.

I want to see the movie again in the theater. Partly because sitting close (and off to one side) made the all important close-up scenes a little hard to focus on. Plus, I just enjoyed it, and want to watch again. Cal asked to go with me, but he was seriously bored during the movie, which he seems to have forgotten (which is sort of sweet and sort of irritating).


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cemetary with a view

Despite the TONS of building that the university has done all around this cemetary, dad's grave still has a great view of the Peaks.


Thursday, June 24, 2010


Wow, that was fun! I was sitting at my desk in my office on the 3rd floor (of a 3-story building) yesterday afternoon and it felt like the building was doing a wiggly dance for a few seconds. I thought, "That can't be an earthquake, I wonder what it is." My building is across from the helipad at Upstate, and I thought it might be that, though a helicopter has never shaken the building before and there was no helicopter in sight. It sort of felt like the motion originated in the southeast corner of the building, but that could just be my brain trying to make sense of what was happening. Of course I went online to try to find something that confirmed it was an earthquake, but I think it was too soon for anything to be there. I went out in the hallway and talked to other people in my building and then believed that it WAS an earthquake. It wasn't scary, but it wasn't very strong either - nothing fell off shelves or anything like that.

Here are some details about what happened:

A 5.0-magnitude earthquake in central Canada has left several cities shaken up, as the area rarely deals with tremors.

Although original reports measured the quake at 5.5 on the Richter Scale, an updated assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey knocked it down to 5.0. While a 5.0-quake isn’t usually considered particularly powerful—as far as earthquakes go—the quake’s origin was thought to be quite deep, which impacts how far the effects are felt. The epicenter was in the Ontario-Quebec border region, north of Ottawa, approximately 11 miles below ground.

Apparently the tremors were strongly felt in Ottawa, where several buildings were evacuated and rescue workers were flooded with calls. “The city was in a bit of a panic, which is to be expected,” Ottawa paramedic spokesman, J. P. Trottier, told the Globe and Mail.

The last time a major earthquake hit the same fault line is in 1998, measuring 5.4 on the Richter Scale.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lunch & learn with the rabbis

This month we did a reading from Arthur Waskow's book, Seasons of our Joy, about Tisha B'Av. In the article, several calamitous events tied to the 9th of Av are mentioned, and the discussion focused on how to make the holiday (if that's the right word) relevant today.

Two issues in the article struck me. First, the assertion that the temple was destroyed because of sin. Obviously, I don't accept that. One of the group members (Mike) said that especially bothered him, since "innocent people die too." It's a provocative concept and one that I would assume members of the group have very different perspectives on. It wasn't pursued however.

The other assertion was about today's Jewish life being destroyed by Modernism (which I thought Waskow stated, but never explained). I think Waskow meant something like the "truths" of Modernism are incompatible with religious faith (though he didn't actually say that).

A member of the group (Mark) raised this second issue, but Rabbi Fellman sort of dismissed it by saying Reform Judaism has completely changed since the book was written. I don't really know what that means, in relation to Waskow's assertion (or anything else). I think that educated faithful people no longer accept the premise that faith and modernist beliefs are contradictory. But I don't know if that's what Fellman meant with his rather veiled comment. Though it would have been interesting to gnaw on the topic a bit.

We didn't discuss either of these issues in the meeting, unfortunately. It was a big group, and, for the most part, each person raised a unique topic, so there wasn't much in-depth discussion. Not our best meeting ever.


Schultz fire

It's so weird that I haven't been to Flagstaff in 10 years, and now that I'm planning to be there in a week, the place is buring down. Really shocking fire - 14,000 acres and counting.

June 23, 2010 - According to this morning's Schultz Fire update, the wildfire remains at 14,000 acres, with 20% containment. Lighter winds mean tankers and helicopters are flying today. One of the areas of great concern is the fragile Kachina Peaks Wilderness where firefighters must use minimal impact suppression tactics.

Almost 950 people are now involved in fighting the Schultz Fire, burning five miles north of Flagstaff, which was started on June 20 by an abandoned campfire.

The fireline protecting homes is holding and the evacuationa has been lifted this morning, allowing residents to return home. A smoke advisory has been updated.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Child murders in upstate

WTF is going on in Oneida County??? (East of Syracuse)

Today a 21-year old dad shot his 3-month old baby in front of his house as state troopers watched (they later shot him, but not until he threatened them).

Over the weekend, a 13-year old (male) babysitter killed a 2-year by banging her head against the floor and hitting her head with the refrigerator door, among other things. He had sat for the family before and had no known behavior problems. Comments at the news sites that I visited were mostly concerned with the sitter being too young and "kids today" being generally immature . . . as if this henious and inexplicable act was a result of watching too much TV or having "helicopter parents." Weird and creepy (both the crime and the response). The news reporting has been uneven too - some reports say the mother checked on the baby at 1 a.m., others say the sitter stayed overnight. I read one report that said the toddler had been sexually assaulted. It's unclear exactly what happened, which seems odd, considering it's 4 days later.


Monday, June 21, 2010

McCrystal's comments

I just cannot believe how much time is being devoted to analyzing and discussing what McCrystal (really his staff mostly) said in the Rolling Stone profile, "The Runaway General." PEOPLE ARE DYING. I could care less if one of his staff members called Jim Jones a "clown" or they made crude jokes about emails. To all journalists, politicians and career military leaders: shut the fuck up and fix Afghanistan.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Weekend entertainment

I can't remember when I last completely enjoyed all my weekend entertainment. I read a great book and watched 2 terrific movies.

Impossible by Nancy Werlin. I absolutely inhaled this book. I just loved it. It's an intriguing plot, based on the song, Scarborough Fair. The author wondered about the story behind all these impossible tasks being described, so she decided to make one up! It's basically a fairy tale, but it's so real too. Like the descrition of the main chracter, Lucy, and her friend talking late at night on the couch, with their heads at opposite ends and their legs tangled up in the middle. I remember doing that when I was that age. I really enjoyed all the people in this book, and I loved the way the author imagined the meaning of the song. Exactly the sort of book I'm in the mood for - a page turner, but not mindless crap. I was especially moved and fascinated by the explanation for the absent and mentally ill mother (she's being tortured by the Fairy King).

Adventureland. A really adorable movie from last year, set in 1987. James is a college grad with a degree in comparative literature who can't afford his planned trip to Europe with a friend, so he's stuck working the summer as a carny in a dumpy amusement park outside Pittsburgh. Based on the writer/director's actual experiences. Jesse Eisenberg is so freaking cute and he's just note perfect in this. And Kristen Stewart impresses me yet again with her portrayal of the tortured Emily. Great humor, great music and a wonderful rendering of the time period. Tons of cameos by terrific veterans like Wendie Malick and Jack Hader (who has the movie's funniest scene). Bonus - lots of kissing.

Dedication - a total gem from 2007; the directorial debut of Justin Theroux (a quirky character actor I remember from an episode of Sex and the City, years ago). So much more intelligent and interesting and involving than the contrived, forced, cringe-inducing crap that usually passes for romantic comedy. These two people, Henry (Billy Crudup) and Lucy (Mandy Moore) are seriously damaged, but see something in each other when they let down their guard long enough. The writing is incredible and the director has done wonderful stuff merging memory and dreams and reality that's not labored or arty or self conscious. Minor complaint - no kissing at all! Boo hiss. The only other problem I had was with the heavy-handed, distracting music. For example, when Henry refuses to answer the phone, the lyrics of the song over the scene: "I have nothing to say." Yeah, we got that. The movie is so charming that even this conceit can't wreck it. I plan to watch this again.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Twilight double feature lunar eclipse event on June 26

How fun is this! I wish I still lived in Philly, though they are live streaming the event there.

In celebration of the lunar eclipse on the evening of June 26th, Summit Entertainment is inviting everyone across the nation to “TWILIGHT Night,” a 12-city event including outdoor screenings of TWILIGHT and THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON.

The excitement of THE TWILIGHT SAGA will be delivered directly to fans in their hometowns and online with “TWILIGHT Night” special events. Moviefone will live-stream events from Philadelphia and San Diego at www.moviefone.com/twilightnight which will include interviews with cast, fan reactions, special guests and sneak peeks of THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE, allowing those unable to attend to still take part in the celebration. In addition, each event will include special cast member appearances as well as engaging activities to be enjoyed prior to the outdoor evening film screenings, including a red carpet and photo booth, both provided by Moviefone.

Events are currently scheduled to take place in the following cities and venues:

Atlantic Station
171 17th St NW
Atlanta, GA

AT&T Plaza at the American Airlines Center
2500 Victory Ave
Dallas, TX

Sloan’s Lake Park
17th Ave and Sheridan
Denver, CO

Gusman Center Performing Arts
174 East Flagler Street
Miami, FL

The Piazza
North Second Street and Germantown Avenue, Below Girard
Philadelphia, PA

Desert Ridge Shopping Center
21001 North Tatum Blvd.
Phoenix, AZ

Colonel Summers City Park
Portland, OR

Salt Lake City
Movie in the Park
Fairmont Park located
2361 South 900 East
Salt Lake City, UT

St. Louis
St. Louis Union Station
1820 Market Street
St. Louis, MO

San Diego
Park at the Park (Downtown)
10th & K
San Diego, CA

Fremont Outdoor Movies
3501 Phinney Ave N.
Seattle, WA

Washington DC
National Harbor Plaza
163 Waterfront Street
National Harbor, MD


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Twilight music

"Flightless Bird, American Mouth" is the name of the beautiful ballad that plays while Bella and Edward dance at the prom at the end of Twilight. I've heard the song many times because I have the soundtrack (thanks to Dawn) and of course I've watched the movie several times. I've always thought the song was so pretty. But of course I thought the title was rather bizarre, which is why I decided to check out the lyrics. They are even more at odds with the pretty tune and with the way the song was used in the movie (ultimate romantic scene where she agrees to be changed into a vampire at that exact moment and instead he just kisses her throat - swoon) than I had expected.

"Flightless Bird, American Mouth"
by Iron & Wine

I was a quick wet boy
Diving too deep for coins
All of your street light eyes
Wide on my plastic toys
And when the cops closed the fair
I cut my long baby hair
Stole me a dog-eared map
And called for you everywhere

Have I found you?
Flightless bird, jealous, weeping
Or lost you?
American mouth
Big pill looming

Now I'm a fat house cat
Cursing my sore blunt tongue
Watching the warm poison rats
Curl through the wide fence cracks
Pissing on magazine photos
Those fishing lures thrown in the cold and clean
Blood of Christ mountain stream

Have I found you?
Flightless bird, grounded, bleeding
Or lost you?
American mouth
Big pill, stuck going down

Holy shit!

I've been thinking more about the movie music because I've read a couple articles about the Eclipse soundtrack, including one in Rolling Stone magazine (June 24 issue). In that one, they said that 400 songs were submitted for the new sountrack album and a guy from Death Cab for Cutie is quoted as saying "how else are you going to get your music out there . . . radio is dead" (I'm paraphrasing). Music is not something I focus on a lot in movies (unless it's obnoxious or distracting), so thinking about it at all is sort of different for me. But like the actors and everything else associated with the movies, the musicians whose songs get into them get a huge boost from the association. There's even a genre, "Twilight rock," that refers to the indie/emo type music in the movies (I think I heard that on NPR).


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

BP escrow account

Not sure what to think about this. Of course, I want them to pay, but it feels like an out - to make it look like Obama and others are holding BP accountable, but what will really happen? I like Harry Reid's quote today:

"Our message to BP is as simple as this: If you drill, and you spill, we're going to make you pay the bill," Reid said.

This is from The Hill's blog:

In a letter on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and fellow Caucus members formally urged BP CEO Tony Hayward to set up a $20 billion escrow account for economic damages and clean-up costs associated with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

"Although legislative action is forthcoming, the damages are immediate," the letter states. "In order to ensure BP fully and quickly covers the costs of this disaster, we are calling on BP to immediately establish a special account of $20 billion, administered by an independent trustee, to be used for payment of economic damages and clean-up costs."

Over the weekend, President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats made a similar request.

Reid contends the establishment of the account will ensure no delay in reimbursing legitimate claims and money will be available for future claims, perhaps after the clean up effort has ended.

"The damages caused by your company are far reaching," the letter states. "While much is already visible today, history informs us that the full extent of the destruction may not be discovered for months or even years."

The letter notes that after the Exxon Valdez spilled oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound the oil company fought liability claims and ultimately paid far less in damages discovered years after the spill.

"[It] is already evident that fishermen, shrimpers, the tourist industry, and the secondary industries that support them will sustain billions of dollars in losses," states the letter about the BP spill. "It is also possible that marine and wildlife habitats will be destroyed, estuaries and wetlands will be decimated and bird, fish and animal populations will be devastated."

A study entitled Gaining Ground by Earth Economics suggests substantial oil damages to the Mississippi Delta could have a material impact on BP's bottom line.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Facebook exchange

Wow, I was completely taken aback by this hostile response from a HS "friend." Of course the guy was a smug asshole in HS, and certainly not a friend of mine then. Not sure when he decided that he's the arbiter of what should be on FB, or even how he decided it was necessary to be so insulting right out of the blue. I've read all the "bullshit" he's posted on his page without flying off the handle. Actually, I wish I had the nerve to be such a jerk to all the people on FB who I think are ridiculous. As usual, the people I respect are the ones I care about.

It all started when I posted story about how the popularity of medical marijuana is patient-driven rather than science-driven.

YVETTE: They should legalize it and tax the crap out of it.

ME: Amen to that!

BRAD: Hey Yvette even though I don't smoke it anymore, how about they take something you like and tax the shit out of it and see how you like it. You and Danielle are two of the most opinionated women on facebook and need to lighten up a bit. Both of you send out messages and posts that make me want to puke. (holier than though) If you want to be the two best women on this earth then find a way to get rid of OBAMA.

How about tax the crap out of the illegals in our country, how about tax the fuckers on wellfare that drive BMW's, how about just calling each other on the phone and leave Facebook free of your bullshit

Funny how things work out but you two were probally the least popular in High School and now think you are the shit.

and Danielle who are you AMENing to? You don't even believe in Christ let alone our God

JIM: If Danielle's opinions bother you so much don't read her posts or better yet remove her from your friends list. I don't see why anyone who would write things like you have would want to be a FB friend other than to be a jerk.

ME: Wow, Brad, hostile much? Threatened much? I'm suprised you needed to get on FB before you realized there are people in the world who think differently than you do. You need to get out more, then maybe it wouldn't bother you so much. Oh yeah, one more thing, Jews say "amen" too you ignorant ass.

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Weekend entertainment

I ended up watching several movies on video this weekend:

Whiteout. (2009) Grabbed this at the video store, because Larry and I can never agree on a film. This had action, but also a good cast and not too violent. Apparently it sat on the shelf for two years before it was released, but I'm not sure why. It's a solid thriller, with Kate Beckinsale as a federal marshall at an ice research facility in the north pole. A bit cliche, but that doesn't stop it from being entertaining (Larry fell asleep, but that's not a reflection on the film). You certainly feel cold watching it, though it was filmed in Canada, not the arctic.

Surveillance. (2008) A big disappointment. Matt and I picked this out of a lot of other choices on the Netflix Instant Play list. A great cast, with Bill Pullman and freakin' Julia Ormond. This is the sophomore effort from director Jennifer Lynch (yes, David's daughter). I shouldn't have been surprised that an intriguing situation devolved into a lot of gore and some creepy sexual stuff that I could have lived my whole life without watching. Very unsatisfying, and I felt like I had to brush my teeth afterward. What really annoyed me is that the Netflix description of the movie is totally misleading, and so is the description on imdb: "Two FBI agents attempt to understand murders occurring in a desolate region. They approach the witnesses of the latest incident with the help of the local police. All of them hide something and all have wildly different stories to tell." Sounds a lot more psychological than it turned out to be. I would have watched something else if I had known what this movie was really going to be.

The Wedding Dress. (2001) Adorable (though utterly contrived) movie with a bunch of overlapping stories revolving around an old wedding dress. Great cast, including Neil Patrick Harris and Tyne Daly. (Shame on me for being distracted by my knowledge of NPH's sexual orientation. He's adorable, but I kept thinking he would rather be kissing the hot contractor rather than sweet photographer's assistant.)

The Ugly Truth. (2009) Watched this with a couple of girlfriends. A solid rom-com with a some laughs and great chemistry between Kathrine Heigl and Gerard Butler, but, ACK, the cliches - I don't think they skipped a single one. If you can overlook the preposterous plot and exaggerated characters, it's a pretty entertaining film. Bonus - great kiss! It may be the only movie I've seen in a long time where the second half was actually better than the first half - once they calmed down and stopped trying so hard. [Double shame on me for being distracted by knowing that Eric Winter, who plays the hot doctor/neighbor appeared in a few episodes of the TV show, Brothers & Sisters as Robert McCallister's (Rob Lowe) minister brother who has a relatively brief relationship with Kevin Walker (Matthew Rhys). I'm afraid I'll always think of him in this role. To be fair to both me and him, he was very compelling in the role and very believable. And the other good news is that he played a gay character, not in some off-the-radar indie film, but on a much-watched TV show, and he still got a great part in a mainstream studio movie - clearly playing gay doesn't hurt a man's career like it once did.]

I also stayed up way too late to finish the book I was reading, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. A good read that I enjoyed. He's written 3 more books in the series, but I'm not sure if I feel obligated to read them all. He creates a terrific alternate world (about 300 years in the future) and I love his very aggressive messages about taking care of the earth and respecting humanity. But I have a big stack of books on my bedside table and I think I'll try to get through a few of those before I head back to Uglyville and New Pretty Town. Side note: the book has been optioned for a movie (supposedly) with Sigourney Weaver as the malevolent Dr Cable (awesome casting) and Dakota Fanning as the main character, Tally Youngblood. Scheduled for release in 2011.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Billy Burke weekend

O.K., so I never heard of Billy Burke before I saw Twilight, though his filmography shows a solid career over 20 years. But this weekend, I kept bumping into him. First, I was flipping channels and saw him in a scene which turned out to be from the 2008 Diane Lane vehicle Untraceable. Later, I watched Surveillance with Matt, and in the trivia for that 2008 movie, it says that Bill Pullman replaced Billy Burke, who dropped out of the film 2 months before shooting began. The timing is such that it's conceivable that he left to make Twilight instead. An excellent career move, as it turns out! (Catherine Hardwicke saw him in a "mockumentary" about a country singer called Dill Scallion; BB has played in bands since his teens and his debut album is being released this month.)


Friday, June 11, 2010

Twilight Moms

Dawn and I in our Edward shirts (Alana took this photo).


Thursday, June 10, 2010

"The Passage"

My friend Suzanne sent me a review of the summer blockbuster The Passage by Justin Cronin. I'd heard of it, on NPR of course, but had no real interest in reading it. But Suzanne also sent me this interview with the author (excerpted below) and now I feel quite differently (I almost cried when I read this).

This is the intro to the interview:

In summer, some people like a light, fun summer novel. Others like to read about the world being overtaken by blood-thirsty vampires who savage the planet and threaten to extinguish the whole of civilization. Hey, surf's up. The biggest book of summer so far is Justin Cronin's "The Passage," a massive novel in which a band of people attempt to survive in a small colony surrounded on all sides by vampires. But these are not the sexy, debonair vampires of TV and "Twilight." Justin Cronin's vampires are real monsters, a result of a government experiment gone awry.

. . .

SIMON: Tell us about the role of children then - about the sanctuary in the story.

Prof. CRONIN: Yeah, children are really central to the book. And it was part of my original idea for the story that it was really a book in some ways about what we owe to our children. The vampire narrative is a narrative of immortality. The temptation of immortality is one that essentially the human race takes up in my book. I mean a certain - a group of scientists decide let's, you know, let's tap into the biological ability to be immortal.

This is a kind of deep greed that they commit, because they fail to notice that we are already immortal, because the future we do not personally live to see is the one our children live in. The sanctuary is a protective enclave within this colony of survivors. It sits at the center. Its an old elementary school. It's fortified. It is the last retreat in the event that the Colony is invaded. And all the children in the Colony live there until the age of eight, and they live in a bubble of not knowing.

The world in which they live is one that is so potentially psychologically traumatic that the founders of this society have decided, well, we'll give people eight years not to know the truth. And so the children live there sort of sealed away, not just from other people, but from the knowledge of what the world really is. And one person, who's called Teacher, it's her job when you turn eight to tell you what the truth is, so that you dont hate your parents for it, actually. So she bears the collective trauma of this resentment.

SIMON: You know what I think will strike any parent reading that?

Prof. CRONIN: Tell me.

SIMON: That's what we want for our children anyway, isn't it?

Prof. CRONIN: Yeah. That's right. Yeah. It's interesting that I chose eight, because I didnt realize, you know, I didnt quite realize what I was doing at the time, but that's how old my daughter was when we had this conversation. And the book is full of all kinds of symmetries that have to do with my life as a parent. And, you know, at its heart "The Passage" is really a story about a father and a daughter. And that makes perfect sense because it was the father and a daughter who dreamed the whole thing up to begin with.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

"Super Tuesday for Women"

Election analysis by Ken Rudin at NPR:

Going into Tuesday's primaries, we talked constantly about a continuation of the anti-establishment and anti-incumbent theme we saw a couple of weeks ago in Kentucky and Pennsylvania . . . If there's any theme that came out of yesterday, it was not a "Bad Day For Incumbents." It was, instead, a "Super Tuesday For Women."

That's not to say yesterday was a great day for incumbents. GOP Rep. Bob Inglis managed just 28 percent in his bid for renomination in South Carolina's 4th District, though he received enough votes to advance to a June 22 runoff. And Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons got clobbered in the Republican primary, the first governor of his state, I believe, to ever lose a bid for renomination. But hounded by miserable job approval numbers and a very public (and very ugly) divorce, Gibbons was politically dead well before Tuesday.

Actually, the one incumbent everyone was watching was in Arkansas, where two-term Sen. Blanche Lincoln was thought to be in mortal danger in a runoff against Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. The left, and labor unions, went all out to defeat her, mostly over a centrist voting record that included abandonment of the public option in the health care bill and her opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act ("card check"), a cause dear to labor's heart.

But she survived. Credit the visit from Bill Clinton, Arkansas' favorite son. Or maybe credit a tough TV ad that touted her independence from the unions and the progressive left. She knew that if she allowed Halter to force her to the left — and she won — there would be hell to pay in November against GOP Rep. John Boozman.

Republican women were nominated in the nation's largest state — California — for both governor and the Senate, the latter contest against another woman, three-term Democrat Barbara Boxer. If Lincoln's experience helped her in Arkansas, it was the business credentials, and personal fortune, that aided first-time candidates Meg Whitman (gov.) and Carly Fiorina (sen.) in the Golden State. Whitman, in fact, spent some $80 million — at least $71 million out of her own pocket — for the right to square off in November against Jerry Brown (D), a former two-term governor hoping to win back his old job.

And while, in Iowa, Roxanne Conlin has been around for a long time — she ran for governor 28 years ago and lost to Republican Terry Branstad — she is a mere pup compared to Sen. Charles Grassley (R), first elected to the Senate in 1980 and whose political career in the state legislature began in the 1950s. Iowa has never elected a woman to either the House or Senate.

What the GOP likes about Fiorina and Whitman, and what Democrats like about Conlin, is their anti-establishment credentials — at least when it comes to the political arena. But other women who came out on top yesterday had fuller political resumes.

Sharron Angle, a former assemblywoman, won the GOP nomination in Nevada, won the right to take on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Angle's victory, an unlikely event not long ago, was good news for Tea Party supporters, who backed her against the establishment choice, and still another woman, Sue Lowden. [Of the 3 Republicans running, Angle is considered the weakest.]

State Rep. Nikki Haley, another Tea Party favorite, came teasingly close to winning the Republican gubernatorial primary outright in South Carolina, despite allegations from two men that she had engaged in an "inappropriate physical relationship" with them. The married Haley, who completely denied the charges, fell just short of a majority and will advance to a June 22 runoff with U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett. Haley had the strong support of Sarah Palin and former Palmetto State First Lady Jenny Sanford, as well as the dubious distinction of getting a character boost from Gov. Mark Sanford, who was term limited and whose own sex scandal ended his aspirations for higher office.

Elizabeth "Libby" Mitchell, the State Senate Majority Leader in Maine, won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination there. Her party's nominee for the U.S. Senate back in 1984 (when she lost to Bill Cohen), Mitchell has served 12 terms in the state Legislature.

Speaking of 1984, that was once known as the Year of the Woman ... partly because Geraldine Ferraro became the first woman to appear on a major party presidential ticket, but also because of the large number of women nominated that year to run for the Senate, including challengers in Colorado, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, and the aforementioned Maine. But all were defeated in November.

But this year, for an assortment of reasons, many have shots at winning in the fall. The electorate is angry and frustrated and tired of politics as usual. That could well be advantageous to the large number of female candidates running this year.

Speaking of angry and frustrated, it was a good night for the Tea Party as well. They rallied behind Angle in Nevada back when she was just an asterisk, and she won an improbable victory with a late surge. Polls all year have shown Reid losing to basically any Republican who ran against him. But Angle has some controversial positions — such as phasing out Social Security — that Democrats say are way out of the mainstream. Both parties will obviously try to make the race a referendum on the other.

The Tea Party also scored victories in the special congressional election in Georgia's 9th District, vacated by Nathan Deal, who is running for governor. In that contest, former state representative Tom Graves, defeated a fellow Republican conservative and will serve out the remainder of Deal's term.

And in Maine, businessman Paul LePage, a Tea Party favorite, won the GOP gubernatorial nomination in an upset over six opponents.

One more thought about the so-called "anti-incumbent" trend. Yes, some incumbents have gone down to defeat this year, such as Sens. Arlen Specter (D-PA) and Bob Bennett (R-UT), and Reps. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) and Parker Griffith (R-AL). But their rejections can't be lumped as part of a simple "throw the bums out" mood. Specter and Griffith switched parties and never convinced their new brethren they deserved another term. Mollohan had ethics problems. And Bennett's defeat, while blamed on some unpopular votes that angered the right, is perhaps better explained by Utah's unique convention system; had he run in a regular primary, with an expanded electorate, he may have won.


Monday, June 07, 2010

Weekend entertainment

Catching Fire - I was a little frustrated with the first book in this triology, The Hunger Games. It was a great read, but there just wasn't as much to it as I had expected. But I had already put a library hold on this book, so when it came in, I read it. I'm so glad I did. It was awesome, I absolutely inhaled it. It was everything I had hoped the first book would be and more. I loved it. I can't believe I have to wait 2 whole months before the third book comes out. I plan to be first in line at the bookstore! In the meantime, I'll definitely be checking out some of her other books.

Fantastic Mr Fox - I watched this on video with the kids. The animation was gorgeous, but what a weird little movie. The story is British, and they have an odd sense of humor, so I shouldn't be surprised (well, that's not really fair, they just have a different sense of humor from Americans). It's basically a caper movie, but that doesn't even get going until halfway through. It starts with Mr Fox relinquishing his life of crime (stealing chickens) because he and his mate are having a baby. Fast forward about 10 years, and he's bored and restless. So then there's some domestic drama, which has to be either boring for kids, or over their heads. Then eventually we get to the caper. But it was strange. Not bad, but not great. I read my book through some of it.


Sunday, June 06, 2010

MTV movie awards

I didn't see the entire show, because I was unpacking from the trip, and frankly forgot all about it. So I started in the middle, watched until the end, and then watched the first half when they rebroadcast it. It cetainly reminded me why I stopped watching a few years back - mostly stupid, unfunny, awkward, and with absolutely nothing of interest for real movie lovers. But that said, I'm glad I saw Sandra Bullock's speech and Peter Facinelli, who I thought was hilarious, dropping the "f" bomb intentionally (many of which the censors missed). Kristen Stewart was incredibly awkward, wow, she's just off the charts. She looked so amazing, but the second she has to interact with the audience, it's straight down hill.

Anyway, it was nice that New Moon won everything. I really thought Avatar would take Best Movie, so I was genuinely surprised. Yet again reminds me that I don't appreciate the intensity of the adoration for the series.

I got annoyed later, reading the MTV blogger's account of the evening because he (!) complained that the Eclipse clip they showed was too "talky" without any action. Grrr! This movie is not for him!!! If he needs action, there's *gazillion* movies he can watch, it's almost ridiculous. This is for ME. It's a romance! Why are they trying to steal even this from us? They need to get a woman to direct Breaking Dawn, at least the first half. So it can be what it's supposed to be, which is melt-your-socks, mushy romantic. Not some pumped up, chop-socky fest for the fanboys, who 90% of the movies are made for already. Sheesh!

Actually, I have a theory about the BD release date, which is November, not in the summer. I think maybe they are intentionally avoiding the implication that it will be an action movie - a holiday release date positions the movie as more serious and maybe gives them the freedom to be more sentimental, emotional, whatever (even with a male director).


Saturday, June 05, 2010

Even better

Wow, I slept better in the hotel, with 5 people crammed into one room, than I've slept in my own house for ages. Weird.


Friday, June 04, 2010

Twilight series movie grosses

Some interesting Twilight movie stats, according to Box Office Mojo:

Opening day Nov 20
Stated budget $37M
Domestic gross $200M
Foreign gross $200M
Total gross $400M

Opening day Nov 21
Stated budget $50M
Domestic gross $300M
Foreign gross $400M
Total gross $700M

Here's more fun - New Moon "shattered" the previous opening day record, held by (of all movies) The Dark Knight (which opened on more screens in more theaters!):

Claiming the record for the biggest one-day gross, The Twilight Saga: New Moon raked in an estimated $72.7 million on approximately 8,500 screens at 4,024 sites. The Dark Knight was the previous title holder with $67.2 million on around 9,300 screens at 4,366 sites.

New Moon's first day more than doubled that of its predecessor Twilight, which debuted to $36 million on around 6,000 screens at 3,419 sites. Twilight's first weekend wound up at $69.6 million, which was less than New Moon's first day. Due to fans storming theaters on its opening day, Twilight's first weekend was heavily Friday-loaded, leading to much lower grosses for Saturday ($21.3 million) and Sunday ($12.4 million). The fan fervor was even more intense for New Moon.

New Moon's $72.7 million first day included an estimated $26.3 million from its midnight opening, which was also a record. The Dark Knight made $18.5 million on its midnight opening, which means it generated more business after its midnight showings ($48.7 million) than New Moon did ($46.4 million). The Dark Knight still holds the record for biggest weekend (Friday-Saturday-Sunday) ever: $158.4 million.

FULL DISCLOSURE: The Dark Knight budget: $185M, total gross $1B ($500M domestic, $500M foreign)


Thursday, June 03, 2010



Wednesday, June 02, 2010


I didn't stay up as late last night and I didn't wake up as early this morning (though still long before my alarm), so I got more sleep, but still not enough.


Tuesday, June 01, 2010

So frustrating

I got 2 hours of sleep last night! There is something seriously wrong with my brain! I couldn't sleep in ANY of the 3 glorious days of the long weekend - I was awake at 7 a.m. all 3 days, and couldn't get back to sleep (I tried Saturday, but basically didn't bother on Sunday and Monday). Then, this morning, I woke up at 4 a.m. and could not get back to sleep. I stayed up later than any night of the weekend last night, reading, because I wasn't sleepy. I just don't know what's wrong with me. I WANT to sleep. Why can't I???