Monday, December 10, 2007

Are You for Real?

Hello super conservative PR machine posing as "The General Public,"

Are you for real? Is it a joke that you are publicly concerned that an author of some incredible fantasy books is an atheist? Who is bankrolling you? How did you get the attention of so many media outlets while not making any sense?

I mean, seriously? You are telling people in the "melting pot" of the USA to beware of people with no organized religion while shoving CHRISTMAS down Everyone's throat and waging war on people of other organized religions? This just makes me feel so apologetic to my daughter for having brought her into this culture. WHO ARE YOU? I realize our education sucks here. I realize you all need escapism from the terrible truths of our times and have gotten all brain-washable and tumble-dried up. But then shouldn't you find some solace in fantasy? Oh right, you have your religion.

And let's talk about the have not actually read these books, have you? They are genius, widely regarded and awarded for being some of the best novels of all time. Here is a decent synopsis of The Golden Compass on Wikipedia. It may surprise you if you've just been riding the hype. If you wanted to choose some book as a poster child for anti-religiosity (oh, the horror), you've better choices than this one anyway.

So, seriously, who are you, and what drugs does your church make you smoke? Is your media campaign a cry for help? Or does spewing hatred and fear help your cause? Is that part of your religion?

I would just like you to know that my 7-month-old LYRA is named from those books (though pronounced slightly differently) and that she makes more sense than you.


Friday, December 07, 2007


In case you haven't heard about these short films made with a slew of famous actors and actresses in support of the Writer's Guild strike, they're pretty great. Take a look.


Friday, November 16, 2007

No Country for Young Babies

Lyra and I went to see a "baby-friendly" matinee of No Country for Old Men today. What a perfect movie. If you like the Coen brothers, if you like the dark, stark Cormac McCarthy, then this adaptation is for you. It's very violent; Lyra slept through those parts, of course. I believe my question is one I'm meant to have...but it could be because I had to change L's diaper toward the end of the movie...but tell me, WHO HAS THE MONEY?

You just gotta love a psychopath with a peculiar, inconvenient choice of favorite weapon (a pneumatic hammer of sorts?) and a bowl cut worse than any I had as a six-year-old....


Sunday, September 23, 2007

You, Me, and We

I spend a lot of time considering different perspectives. Most creative activities require this skill. I enjoy managing groups of people into systems that play on the various strengths of individuals as well. And of course marriage requires this skill, and clearly understanding our parents or being parents does. So, as I age I’ve been attempting to expand this ability. I am aware that I am mainly only tolerant of those who share the same intolerances, and I keep trying to change this.

I believe that my key to growth is to comprehend fully that we can share the most intimate times and still our individual experiences of this reality are different. It’s hard to accept this in private, cherished relationships, but it’s obvious when you discuss the past with siblings or become a parent and suddenly have a new gratitude toward your own parents. I try and try to incorporate this into my day-to-day life, but still I struggle. I also harbor a fear that we as a people may need to have a similar reality in order to change our habits in drastic ways right now.

I had all this in mind when Lyra and I went to see the movie In the Shadow of the Moon. I always respect people who gain perspective by going away for a weekend to write, or live abroad, or spend time in serious wilderness, or have walked through serious trauma and emerged anew on the other side. And this movie offered perspective from the handful of people who have actually left the planet entirely and looked at it in its bigger context.

Facing things far out of our control, forces just plain bigger than we are, these are the things that can define our existence, point out our boundaries. People may choose to understand and adapt in different ways, but no matter what, those who look the storm in the eye are typically the people who are more likely to have foresight, who take action without being caught up in self-involved pettiness.

Those who have really lived, really love, really lost, and are still forging their way vividly forward -- well, they just have a different sort of flow. They sometimes turn to an existing construct to explain the chaos, but occasionally they articulate a new one. And sometimes this is what we need to make or save history. Of course I want to know what someone who has stood on alien soil has to say.

Me, I want to float in my big picture perspective, but I often feel dragged down by my baggage. I have a gorgeous, funny, amazing baby, yet I don’t go to sleep sighing happily. I have nightmares, I worry, I mourn losses. And I cannot stop being terrified about her survival, and as a result the speed with which we are destroying our home on the pretty blue marble.

I am looking for a perspective and some extra tolerance to move forward in the face of fear. I need to keep onward when I cannot see the way. I need to accept my life may be a a bit of a rantum scoot, so I may as well do what I can and enjoy it. I need this; my daughter needs this from me. We need balance: we need to accept the ebb and accept the flow of more than just our own lives, whatever direction we end up sailing.

The astronauts in the movie still looked completely wildly moved by their experience 38 years later. One discussed his new devotion to the religion that helped him understand the largeness of his experience, and one considered how fragile the little blue planet looked. But what struck me most was when one of the men described feeling the great vastness of space, and he felt the moon below and the Earth beyond and it was so clear that all of this, including him, was one thing. We are all part of this one thing. And he felt lucky.

This is what I want to hold on to: that together we are whole, and I am lucky to take part. People in my life this year have spoken a lot about the physical and spiritual benefits of expressing gratitude on a regular basis, and perhaps this is the same as accepting our luck.

I am lucky that I am here, I may have experienced a great deal of various kinds of perspective that I wouldn’t have chosen for myself, I may struggle every day to grow my pool of tolerance. I may face danger and despair. The balance of the biology we are part of may be aging toward an end. And I do think every one of us must take action. However. despite every terrible thing, every day I am lucky.

Today I am grateful for the cold Saturday afternoons when I spread out my dad’s map of the moon on the living room rug in the sun. I would trace my fingers over the named features on the map and marvel at how we could be so familiar with such a big alien place.

I was one-and-a-half months old when men walked on the moon. I got to grow up with a generation of people who saw the image of our whole planet as one, together in a great flow of space for the first time, before it was a ubiquitous symbol. Maybe that will help us now.

Today I am also grateful for the warm Saturday afternoons when my dad rowed our dinghy The Eagle out to our boat, Tranquility Base, and we sailed to where I couldn’t see anything but blue in all directions.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

No Miles

Sure I've walked plenty, but I didn't get the feeling anyone was going to post their miles with me, so I'm dropping that little attempt at posting daily mileage here. Anyway, my new pedometer is far less reliable than the old one.

Today I walked very few miles. Lyra and I were doing errands and at the "baby friendly" movies again before it started pouring. Lyra has now seen Shrek 3, The Namesake, Sicko, Evening, Oceans 13, Once, and Waitress. We're hoping the Simpsons movie shows up as a baby-friendly movie soon! Anyone seen it?

Here's the Simpsonized version of Lyra, touched up by a graphic artist friend (the Simpsons site wouldn't let me give a baby lots of hair):

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Wack Attack

Lyra is sleeping more and it makes everything So much better. She and I have been keeping busy this past week. We’ve rocked out with rattles and laughed at mobiles and gone for long walks (she likes trees better than anything inside). We’ve been to new parent groups, seen both The Namesake and Sicko at baby-friendly movie showings, attended her second wedding, and examined the jewelry exhibit among others at the Museum of Fine Arts.

Also this week while feeding her I have read The Ha Ha by Dave King and half of The Zen of Fish by Trevor Corson, watched several episodes of Man Vs. Wild (I so love that show) and watched and fast-forwarded through 22 hours of Live Earth concert footage and related short films. I’ve had a leisurely lunch out by myself one day, and then of course there was the one dud day, today.

This day started off stupidly, though I did find it pretty amusing. It went like this:

I decide to skip the new parent coffee down the street from my house and go on a walking tour of former factories in the ‘hood that was leaving from the main library branch. It was the first time I’d been to this branch with Lyra.

The tour started at 10AM and we get there at 10:02 and rush up to the door. It’s situated atop two steep stairways, and I have Lyra in the stroller. I know there are a lot of parent activities at this library and assume there is an easier way inside. I follow the handicapped accessibility sign around the entire large building and finally get to the open door in the back. Two signs on it say NO STROLLER ACCESS, which confuses me.

So I walk all the way back around the other side of the building, seeing no other entrances and I then haul the stroller with Lyra up the stairs and inside past a group of teenagers leaving as part of some group. I wait for what seems like an eternity while the one person ahead of me in line talks about computer programming with the guy behind the counter. I ask if the tour left and where they went first. He points me up Broadway toward Harvard Square.

I leave the library and aim the stroller for the Square. I see ahead of me the group of teens I had huffed past and realize that maybe they are my group – I’d been expecting more of a senior set at this and perhaps I had made a stupid generalization. So I rush and catch up. “This the walking tour?” I ask a kid lagging at the back. “Yeah,” he nods.

The group stops and everyone oohs and ahhs over the baby for some time. The kids are super friendly for a tough looking bunch. The sound like they might be Haitian. I tell them not to stop on account of me, “I was just trying to catch up.” The leader is a young white woman with a bag with folders and I quell the urge to ask if I missed anything and just tag along with her hoping she tell me. I chat and try to make eye contact with everyone as we are all on this trip together and I don't want to monopolize the leader just because I'm older and have a cute baby. The leader talks about when she was a nanny for her sister and asks me various questions about Lyra, and I stop and go, staying purposefully in the middle of them for at least five blocks.

I am wondering what the first stop will be as I thought all the factory buildings were concentrated the other direction when they all peel off to the right suddenly…to go into the high school. “Bye!” they all yell. “It was very nice walking with you,” says the leader, “Enjoy your day.”


So yes, wrong group. And yes, I just spent twenty minutes being a friendly neighborhood total friggin’ wack job.

After I got some coffee and recovered a little, I headed back to my neighborhood and attended the New Parent group after all. A mom there told me people routinely leave their strollers on the sidewalk at that library. She doesn’t like that much. I looked at her stroller and realized it’s one that cost at least $700.

From there Lyra and I headed to the movies in Brookline and Lyra would not eat and started getting Very Fussy. Everything I tried failed, but we made it through the movie. At home the fussiness continued and the hunger strike went on and on. Twelve hours after her last good meal she ate again finally and is now asleep. My nerves are shot and I will now do the same.

Today's moral: Be nice to your neighborhood wack jobs. They could be me.

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Friday, June 29, 2007


Lyra and I just returned from the Box Office Babies series at our favorite art house, the Coolidge Corner in Brookline. Unlike the slightly more suburban and better publicized baby-friendly movies in Arlington that were mobbed with an army of strollers outside, this movie was barely attended. There were less than ten moms and one super cranky woman who had somehow not understood she was at the Box Office Babies showing despite being told several times while getting her ticket and coming in. "This is just ridiculous," she groused. "Where can I sit where there aren't babies? This is AWFUL." I mentioned there were less than ten in the theater, right? Babies sleep. It was quieter than plenty of movies I've seen where babies would be unwelcome for sure.

Anyway, we saw the movie Once, with Glen Hansard, the guy from The Frames. I highly recommend this movie. I'd read that it was a "rock musical" and was afraid of it. However, it's really a lovely movie. The characters don't stop the story and break into a performance, it's rather a movie where the characters have happened upon each other on the street and begin literally making music together working on their songs. Through the song lyrics and especially the emotion conveyed in them you get the story. It has very much the feeling of Before Sunrise as a result, but with a screenplay that probably was one percent of the length.

When Lyra and I emerged from this movie, she was all smiles.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

On the Lot

I haven't written in some time, mostly due to adapting to being an underslept mom to a very hungry boo. I intend to change this. Well, the writing part anyway....

For now, I'm going to do something a bit out of character and ask you to watch some reality TV. My friend Hilary Graham is competing the the show "On the Lot" which is airing on Fox. The short film she submitted got her chosen to be one of the 50 contestants and she's made the first two rounds of cuts and is one of 18 currently. This is the show that pits film makers against each other to win a development deal at Dreamworks.

The Monday night 5/28 episode is a two hour show where you get to vote afterwards on the website. It's on at 7/8c and since Monday is my birthday, please give me the present of voting for Hilary after the show airs, whether you watched it or not. I used to assign stories to Hilary when we worked at the same television show, and she's amazingly talented, so worth your vote, and she deserves it; I promise.


Friday, November 17, 2006

Borat: Funniest Movie of the Year?

(Not!) Thank You for Smoking and Little Miss Sunshine are two movies of this year that come to mind quickly as way funnier than Borat. . . . but neither of those allowed me to eavesdrop on incredibly funny dumb teenagers in the bathroom talking about how "oh. my. gawd. that was like. that was like supposed to be the funniest thing evER? And oh. my. god. It Totally was. I mean, I'd seen the previews, and like thought it was funny? But it was so. Gawd." "Yeah. I didn't even watch the previews. On purpose. Like I wanted to save it all for the movie." "Gawd."


Saturday, November 11, 2006

Stranger than Fiction

Yesterday I was on doctor's orders to be a "lady of leisure" so I went to a matinee of Stranger than Fiction. I was looking to laugh, and I did, but it's not a guffaw kind of movie. Not just because it's basically a one-joke premise, but because Will Ferrell plays the straight man. Super straight – he's an IRS agent with an uncanny mind for figures and little else. And everyone else plays their part with some seriousness too. Their earnest portrayals are what is most funny in some ways.

So Ferrell's character is hearing a narrator, and the narrator is an angst-ridden chain-smoking author working on a book (played by Emma Thompson). The problem arises when it becomes obvious to Ferrell's character that the author is planning his character's death.

He seeks help from a literary expert played by Dustin Hoffman, and this was the source of one of my favorite scenes. Hoffman comes up with a list of seemingly ludicrous questions for our fictional friend to answer. "Do you have any special powers?" "Was any part of you once part of something else?" etc. After insisting on this totally ridiculous list for a number of questions he then reveals he has just ruled out something like most of the classic Greek stories, most fairy tales, and a good part of Chinese mythology in his effort to figure out what kind of story Ferrell is in.

I think if this movie was a little more complex it would have scored on the order of something like I [Heart] Huckabees, not Adaptation. Its unbelievable parts might have just been more expected in the surreal order of things. Like Queen Latifah's author's assistant character was only there to make the author's side of things not all internal so it would work in the film probably, but I didn't buy it. And the beautiful punk waif baker falling for the IRS agent? Yeah, right.

There is a real charm to the movie, though. The main character is a left-brained IRS agent with autistic-like mental powers for rational thought -- particularly numbers. We can see his calculations and counting of things overlaid on the screen. And like many people we know who rely so heavily on their rational sides, this makes him admirably smart And really kind of boring. He's flat and machine-like.

But as his character feels lust/love, some of this eases. As the character interacts socially it eases, as he interacts with his senses, it eases, and as he faces a severe fear of death he starts to live and appreciate and find his soul. Then, he's willing to face death.

When I was watching, the movie ended, the credits seemed about to roll, and then the reel appeared to suddenly end or be ripped out. I actually rather liked that unintentional abruptness as the ending to the


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

30 Year Secret Revealed

Recently a friend of mine was able to tell me exactly when he learned about death as a child. I had no idea when I learned about it. I recalled a time when I was very small and I couldn't sleep because I was crying with the heavy burden of guilt. I had opened up a robin's egg because I had to know what was inside. I felt so terrible about this. That was the earliest related thing I could think up.

However, a revelation came to me the other day. I was flipping channels and the movie version of Watership Down was on TV. I saw this movie in the seventies when I was a wee lassie. There is a massive death to a rabbit warren and (this movie is a cartoon) there was an image of dead rabbits floating down lots of tunnels.

It was completely startling to me because one of the two recurrent dreams I had as a gradeschooler was of friends of mine and I all slithering down these sewer-like tunnels that somehow I associated with the river behind our house... and I knew it was bad and meant death. It was a simple but scary nightmare. (The other recurrent dream involved a parade, Humpty Dumpty, and a fabric warehouse...that one might need more therapy to decipher...) The movie Watership Down probably came out around the time my first relative -- my grandfather -- died, too.

After I made this connection while watching the movie I thought about how nicely that movie deals with death as hand in hand with life, both in it's sudden extremes and the inevitability of joining that black rabbit in the sky. Kids today are allowed to see all kinds of gory violence but not generally to have to deal thoughtfully with the concept of death. It seems healthy and yet I had recurrent nightmares from it. Hmm.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Movie Report

I have seen too many movies in the last month to even keep them all straight. That's what happens when you end up having to "take it easy" but can't concentrate enough to read. Worth mentioning:

Little Miss Sunshine: totally funny. Go see it. This is one of my favorite movies of the last few months.

A Scanner Darkly: Cool rotoscoping for a few minutes of it, then it gets a bit old. Not the best adaptation. Don't bother.

The Matador: Greg Kinnear and Pierce Brosnin. It's fun, it's a different role for PB and it's very silly.

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada: Tommy Lee Jones' movie. It's slow but captivating because it's heavy while somehow balanced with the funny things we are as humans. Captures the heat, the reverse revenge concept, and some interesting characters. Memorable use of antifreeze.

Dave Chappelle's Block Party: This is a fun movie with good performances but why does everyone keep saying it's so hilarious? It's not like a super laugh riot at all, but it is in good fun and is a good concert film.

The Devil Wears Prada: You already know how amazing Meryl Streep is and she'll still blow you away. This is a simple but still entertaining flick.

Pirates 2: I do love Monsieur Depp. I did have a fun time at this movie (which I saw free, thanks to my credit card company), but some of the fish faces were a little too cartoony. But not Davy Jones. His tentacles are excellent.

Clerks 2: Only if you have ever laughed (or known real life versions) at Jay and Silent Bob or Clerks I. I did. It's stupid. And it's funny. Sometimes I need that.

Ten Things I Hate About You-- I watched this Again. A teen movie I contend is one of the most fun adaptations of Shakespeare I've seen. (Taming of the Shrew)

My Neighbor Totoro -- I saw the English dubbed version for the first time in an art house (I'd watched it subtitled previously) and it gave it slightly different nuances. It was fun to see with a lot of other laughing people. But where were the kids? Not a kid to be seen at a 7pm showing.

Bringing up Baby -- Somehow I've never seen this one. Hepburn is so nutty in it, it's very fun.

I watched a number of oldies. I hadn't realized how much James Van Der Beek (Dawson) looks like Errol Flynn.


Sunday, June 25, 2006

Movie Report

A few films I've seen recently:

X-Men: The Last Stand – I love the X-Men movies. Except why does Storm have to be reminded she has interesting powers she could use? It was exciting, and how about them tattoos? And hey, we get to see how Grover turned out as an adult.

Georgy Girl – I've known the song my whole life so late one night I watched the movie. It was fascinating morally. The dumped on girl gets the silly mod boy, but then he's not really for the getting, but she gets the cold fashion girl's baby, and then she marries the gross lecherous old rich guy who works for her dad? "Bring out all the love you hide, and oh what a change there 'd be," indeed.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang – This is a really clever and darkly hysterical movie. I'm surprised it didn't get a wider release or more acclaim. Robert Downey Jr. is brilliant as always and Val Kilmer is fantastic and really funny. They're great together and their dialogue is sharp and runs over each other realistically. It's successfully self-referential and a slick combo of dark humor with film noir and hardboiled detective flicks, studded with Bond and Raymond Chandler references. I recommend this one.

District B13 – What is it that would make this movie so much worse if it was American? It's Paris in the apocalyptic future and the bad section of town has been walled off. Maybe it's coz our US action heroes for this sort of thing are too pumped up and stiff to run and jump like cats.

The Family Stone – I enjoyed this movie quite a lot. It's in the vein of Home for the Holidays. Sarah Jessica Parker is surprisingly good in this. Irreverently heart warming and genuinely funny and moving in turns.

A Sound of Thunder – I have had to ask glenn the title of this movie three times after he reminded me that I saw it, and then I had to ask him what it was about again. Ah yes, the incredibly, painfully bad time wave movie where the past alters the future and the results are incredibly violent ape reptiles rather than apes in SUVs like we got.

The Lake House – Only the dog time jumps in this one. I think. Two comments for those of you who see this: First, don't you think the father actually Did believe in interacting with his environment if he built a house with no bathroom? And second, when the credits rolled I yelled "Bring back Jack!" I have some questions for that dog. This is of course a silly movie to see for a romantic lark with logic left at home.


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Movie Report

Some films I've seen in the last few weeks

Thank You for Smoking – a very smartly written, well cast, very funny movie. Go see this one.
American Dreamz – I'm not sure what I expected, I mean its point is to be fizzier than TV
Friends with Money – it forgets to have an ending
Brokeback Mountain – nicely made film full of heart pangs and scenery.
Rent – Fun to see a modern musical – I thought they adapted it to film fairly well.
Lonesome Jim – More of what I would have hoped Jersey Girl was gonna be like, a downbeat misfit amusement directed by Steve Buscemi, with Casey Affleck instead of Ben, and this time Liv Tyler is the one with the kid. Affleck's character was too unlikeable tho, and it wasn't clear whose point of view it was from exactly.
The Aristocrats – this is more entertaining than I anticipated; fun.
Russian Dolls – fun if you enjoyed Aubergine Espagnole. I love seeing European 20-something lives where romances and jobs and weekends can all so easily encompass other cultures and countries
Chronicles of Narnia – disappointing, even for an airplane movie. Would have been cool as super trippy Japanese anime.