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Two Legs good, four legs bad

Significant construction disrupts traffic along the first two blocks of State Street, starting at the Capitol, and thus the buses detour down Wisconsin to Gorham. This caused few issues when I went Tuesday out to Woodman’s to pick up several blocks of cheese as well as meat and eggs. And coffee.

This is old news.

Cars, movies, brunch, and strange people.

On Wednesday I went to the department and picked up the car title that Joan retrieved Tuesday evening. A good amount of time was spent chatting with Adam, Carrie, and Julie, who is taking an interesting SLA course this summer—one of the main texts at the moment is a book on linguistic genocide, a provocative yet problematic metaphor. On Friday afternoon I went in to look for the POA letter; I also mailed a Father’s Day card and chatted with Matt. As 2:40 rolled around I realized I might be late for a 3pm car-selling-buying appointment so I rushed down Bascom Hill past a large group of incoming students and their parents.

My trip to the DMV was uneventful and business was conducted smoothly and professionally. The End.

Thursday at noon I met Mike and Sherie at the hostel; we drove to Eastgate for Batman Begins, the best Batman movie ... and I do really like the Tim Burton ones. The Onion provides a good review; the usually reliable Stephanie Zacharek gets it all wrong over at Salon ... she is clearly projecting her own desires for the character and his development into her expectations of the film in such a way that if Bale’s Batman does not portray emotional depth the way she wants, then it is a failure ... and her comment about the batmobile is so off-base that it nearly discredits the whole review.

I take that back—it does discredit it.

That evening I had to turn down coffee with Sebastien and Heather and instead went down the street to Julia’s place for a card/boardgame evening, courtesy of the GSC. A couple hours of euchre ... I will return next week for more.

Friday evening was the LUG meeting, and my last as president; I got a vote through and got two guys, Steve and Thomas, elected as my co-president replacements. The rest of the evening, once Ken and Jen arrived, could be dedicated to discussions of card games (pinocle, euchre, bridge, etc.), movies (Alone in the Dark, Batman Begins, etc.), and diseases (staph, chicken pox and shingles, syphilis, etc).

The following was posted regarding a recent story about time travel, specifically the Grandfather Paradox (“Suppose you travelled back in time and killed your biological grandfather before he met your grandmother. Then you would never have been conceived, so you could not have travelled back in time after all. Now did you travel back or not?”):

John Wyndham (Score:3, Interesting)
by jd (1658) Alter Relationship on Friday June 17, @10:36PM (#12848793)
(http://slashdot.org/ | Last Journal: Saturday September 25, @03:56AM)
I forget the name of the short story, but the female character ended up being her own great grand-daughter, as a result of a letter she received from her husband/great-grand-father.

John Wyndham (aka John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris) is the author responsible for the book The Day of the Triffids, which became a 1962 movie. There is a good deal of classic British and European sci-fi that I have never gotten around to reading. Hell, there is a good deal of sci-fi sitting on my shelves that I have never gotten around to reading.

Saturday I got up in time to eat breakfast, do some work online, and go to Brunch with Sebastien and Hal. 1 egg, toast, and fried potatoes; a cup of black tea. Lazy Jane’s. Sebastien and I then walked about four blocks down to the lake and spent an hour or so drawing. Twigs, boats, water, horizons, clouds. Pen, pencil. The walk back to the car took us to a gallery next to Lazy Jane’s where a variety of Orthodox icons and such were on display; books to be purchased were also available. Sebastien picked up a postcard or two for artistic inspiration, whereas I spoke with the artist and with the owner about a few matters of representation and church politics.

Father Daniel: Romanian Orthodox priest accused of murder after exorcism Crucified nun dies in ‘exorcism’
A Romanian nun has died after being bound to a cross, gagged and left alone for three days in a cold room in a convent, Romanian police have said.
Mediafax news agency said Cornici suffered from schizophrenia and the symptoms of her condition caused the priest at the convent and other nuns to believe she was possessed by the devil.
(Thanks to Jen for the link; to quote, “Father Daniel is not only funny-looking, but he’s unrepentantly evil too!”)

We had to leave, however, to pick up Heather and head out to Westgate for Howl’s Moving Castle; we watched it subbed, but a dubbed version (with Christian Bale, Lauren Bacall, and Billy Crystal) is also being released in the U.S. After the movie we went over to Half-Price Books, where I caved in and picked up one book by Philip Pullman, one about him, and a further book on bunny suicides. We then had dinner at a newly opened Takara outlet at Westgate.

I came home, clipped a coupon, and went across the street to 4-Star to get The Incredibles and Original Sin. I had planned on seeing the former for quite a while; the latter came to mind only after reading a recent fanboyish yet interesting Salon story on Angelina Jolie, in which the movie was mentioned. Last night it was animation, this afternoon Cuba. As Roger Ebert described the latter, it is “sweaty, candle-lit melodrama, joyously trashy, and its photography wallows in sumptuous decadence.” As he continues, however, it lack the pretention of being serious, which in a sense saves it: “[m]aybe if it had tried to be more it would have simply been watering the soup.”

As for The Incredibles, it was amusing and amazing. Although it is a different genre than Star Wars, does it not seem absurd and sad that a bunch animated figures have better dialogue and out-act the whole cast of Revenge of the Sith? Besides, it is hard to go wrong with Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Jason Lee, Wallace Shawn, and NPR’s Sarah Vowell. Then again, Revenge of the Sith had Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Samuel L. Jackson, and Christopher Lee ... and hardly a good line to be found.

Speaking of Sarah Vowell, I awoke sometime this morning to This American Life after To the Best of Our Knowledge (go Madison!). I only really heard parts of the last segment, which are based on the material one can find at Mortified ... in this case, a rather bizarre and absurdly funny fucked up teen diary (drugs, out-of-place Anne Frank references, sex, more drugs, shop-lifting, more drugs). An entry at grouphug.us seem to fit with the topic as well. As a friend stated: “It scares me to think she’s out there running around in the gene pool.”

As for Ms. Portman and company, I watched Closer this afternoon as well and was pleasantly surprised. Andrew kept telling me not to watch it, that his expectations had been dashed, etc. It was horrible, a waste of time, disappointing, etc. My brother loved it. I do not see eye-to-eye with either regarding films/movie, but my brother and I each have an appreciation for acting and dialogue and certain similarities in taste. I loved it, though in a distanced way. I would not call the following spoilers, but matters of form and content are discussed.

Only five actors/characters are credited: the four leads and a taxi driver. The idea of shifting relationships, both by association and by pattern, has been done before in literature (e.g. Schnitzler’s Reigen and Goethe’s Elective Affinities [also a not-too-old movie, recently acquired on DVD at 4-Star]) and the other arts (“Cosi Fan Tutte” for example, cited in the movie itself). Evidently the movie is based on a stage play, and if so, the movie recreates that sort of structure. Importanly, all the scenes are basically just pairings of the four main characters. On occasion a third is around, but only in a transitional manner. The narrative is mostly linear, although toward the end there are two matters of flashbacks, and I can see how turning them around would have sullied the dramatic organization and tension. Although it is mostly a collection of scenes spread over a four year period, the story has a roundness to it, as evidenced by the final scenes.

There is disclosure, although I do not think the plot but rather the matter of relationships and relating are paramount. None of the characters are particularly sympathetic by the end, but their faults or rather failures are distributed unevenly and uniquely. That is not to say that each character is a different type, but there are ways in which they demonstrate different ways of behaving in a relationship. I have commented before that the recent Lemony Snicket movie as well as The Interpretor are marred by their formal perfection; they lack urgency or tension at times, and can thus become boring. Here I think Mike Nichols manages to achieve formal elegance while at the same time maintaining the proper dramatic drive. This is, perhaps, the legacy of adapting a stage play, a work in which crafted dialogue rather than fancy shots or atmospheric establishment forms the foundations of the work.

—June 19 2005