Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Well, movie #7 was not The New World… that about sums it up.

I actually did like Match Point quite a bit, although I wouldn’t say it’s one of Woody’s best. Some of the dialog was a little weak, and what exactly is his obsession with super-rich posh people? I guess since he’s been one of them for awhile he can’t really approach anything from a different viewpoint anymore. Did anyone else catch the line about one of the characters marrying his distant cousin, and how “weird and inbred” the family was? What was that about? Maybe he realizes his relationship with his pseudo-daughter is gross, too. But hey, I’m not here to judge. I’ve stuck with Woody and his movies longer than most people.

Shelf Life

Cultural Event #4

On Friday, I attended the opening of the Shelf Life exhibit at the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul. It was a joint venture between CVA and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. The collection included a number of pieces that stretch the definition of "book" to extremes. One book included a single sentence on a ripped piece of paper next to other small objects. Other books looked more standard, but reading them required that you move to different angles around the opened book to see the pictures and story in full. I'd never seen anything like most of these pieces, so it was a very fun experience.

As for the food (which is always an important piece to a gallery opening)... I couldn't eat most of it. I'm off desserts until March 11, just as a personal challenge, so all the beautiful mini-cheesecakes and eclairs and chocolates were entirely wasted on me. They did have those cute mini bottles of soda and water, and fruit (including strawberries that hadn't been washed - they tasted dry and gritty), but not a lot of salty snacks. Better luck next time, CVA.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Viewing #4 of Movie #6

Yes, I saw The New World tonight. OK, I have bad news. I picked up the Chicago Reader, and The New World is not in theaters as of tomorrow. Laugh all you want, but I am not emotionally prepared for a week without this movie. I think that whatever scrap of mental health I have right now is due entirely to repeated viewings of The New World. I’m seriously lacking at this moment, and this movie hit something that just kept me going. I’m in complete denial. Maybe it’ll hit a budget theater… this is Chicago, after all.

One side note: Chicago movie-going audiences are awesome. I’ve seen at least 250 movies in the theater since I moved here, and I’ve only had maybe 3 or 4 bad experiences. Maybe I’ll detail them in my blog later.

I’ve been reading the online “reviews” of The New World done by random people on the internet… I love reading what idiots think. It’s hilarious. And I’m glad that I saw the movie four times, and not a single idiot was in the audience any of those four times. Here’s the best “review” I read today, from msn.com:

Not for People Who Like Simple Movies (review by Movielover):
“I love movies and I saw Badlands too. The New World was a great movie, the scenery, colors, lifestyle then, I had to see this and the only drawback was no subtiles (sic) when the natives were speaking. But that was what happened back then, sign language and not knowing what the other was saying. Be realistic that was the way it was, learning to communicate, so it was somewhat realistic. Guess what, Q’orianka got to kiss both Colin Farrell and Christian Bale. I had to see that. 4 out of 5 stars.”

Wow. No commentary necessary. Unfortunately both this person and I apparently liked the movie a great deal, even though she was under the impression that Native Americans didn’t have an actual spoken language, but spoke in grunts and clicks like dolphins.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Something New

Movie #4

Something New is like cotton candy on film. Light, fluffy, delicious, immediately forgotten. Everyone is so cute and pretty and charming! Look at that picture up there, people! This immediately precedes one of those "only-in-the-movies" paint fights - the kind that would actually earn you a punch in the nose if you tried it in real life. But that's what these cheesy movies are for! Paint fights! Hilarious run-ins with animals! Getting caught in the rain, and consequently making out because what else are you going to do when you're all wet and Simon Baker is all wet too and you've finally figured out that he's a hot piece of ass!

About a quarter of the "jokes" in this romantic comedy fall flat, and Sanaa Lathan's character should have been given more real personality and fewer quirks. But who cares? This movie is about nothing more than both leads being pretty, and even prettier when they're together. And that's all it needs to be.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

And Again...

Movie #8 for Maya

The New World

I am only doing this to ruin your blog! Ha HA!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Julie and Julia

Book #3 - Julie and Julia, by Julie Powell

I'm not sure why I've been so into food (and food writing) lately. I can't work out due to incessant knee problems, so I really shouldn't be eating much right now, but I am instead eating more than ever. I'm a big boredom eater. I don't eat when I'm stressed or sad; I eat when I'm bored. When you're bored, your mind tends to wander, and maybe you start thinking about things that make you unhappy. Like your job, or your crappy apartment with its stopped up shower drain and its crappy landlords who can't seem to figure out that FOR GOD'S SAKE DRANO ONLY WORKS FOR ABOUT THREE DAYS SO JUST SUCK IT UP AND CALL A GODDAMN PLUMBER ALREADY, for example.

Julie Powell could probably relate. In fact, I'd guess that distraction from the nagging problems in her life was the impetus for the Julie/Julia project in the first place. A glorified receptionist for a government agency by day, Julie finds herself unsatisfied, and one day takes on a crazy challenge. She will cook every recipe in Julia Child's classic "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in the course of a year, and blog about it. As inspirational as the book is (and honestly, it really is), its ribald sense of humor is what makes it one of the most joyful reads I've had in a long time. At this point, Boyfriend Bud can recount Julie's misadventures with calf's marrow, the effects of moving on her three cats, and her declaration of love for Buffy the Vampire Slayer - because I couldn't help myself from reading passages aloud to him. Julie's writing has a biting edge to it, an irritable pessimism that is downright adorable, as strange as that may sound.

The project comes to symbolize more than just the title of the cookbook suggests - it represents possibility. If Julie can cook all of this, maybe she'll also be able to quit her soul-sucking job; overcome her reproductive problems; move out of this rundown apartment; change her life. It's that sort of possibility - the type that allowed the titular Julia to learn how to cook for the first time at 37 years old and go on to become the First Lady of Cuisine in the second half of her life - that makes Julie and Julia so invigorating.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Oregon Ballet Theatre

Sandy's cultural event #4

Something about stage performance lends itself to daydreaming... the #1 daydream I bet everyone in the audience of this show was having: "Oh, I wish I had a dancer's body!" I'm sure even the men were thinking this, given that the male dancer's costumes were essentially tighty-whities and nothing else, allowing us to see every muscle in their bodies (except for the one obscured by their cod pieces.) We saw the "Winter Program," which was a series of three one-act shows. As the Artistic Director described it, "Active, physical and a little steamy." Not surprisingly, Portland audiences' penchant for twittering extends to the fine arts. During one risque dance move, I heard at least two different people behind me say, "This must be the steamy part."

A little ballet goes a long way, so we ditched before the third act. That's the beauty of comp tickets: no pressure.

Never Let Me Go

Sandy's book #3: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Carrie wrote about this book so eloquently already, I'm not sure what's left to say. I wish I had read this for a book club so I could discuss it with people. Or I wish it at least had some "For Discussion" questions in the back! This almost seemed like a young-adult novel to me. Or maybe it just reminded me of the kind of stuff I liked to read when I was 13. That's not a dig on this book; I thought it was excellent and I plan to recommend it to everyone I know who's 13 and older. 

Anybody read Ishiguro's other books?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Belles of Skin City

Cultural Event #3

My second time seeing The Belles of Skin City play was not as good as the first. That's not to say the music doesn't stand up to a second go-round, but the performance wasn't as good. Or maybe it was just the fact that I was on Day 6 of the virus from hell, and could barely breathe through the smoke in the Turf Club.

Which brings me to: the Smoking Ban issue. For those who don't know, our fair Twin Cities have been divided by cigarettes. Minneapolis has banned smoking in restaurants and bars, while St. Paul has stuck to its blue collar guns, and its accordant blue layer of smoke. Though I'm a non-smoker, I've actually always sided with the smokers on this one. Smoky hair and clothes are part of the bar experience. Saturday night was the first time I've ever realized how kinda awesome it is to be in a smoke-free bar. I still would never fight for a smoking ban, but I'm not gonna fight against one either. All I'm saying is that had I not been choking and wheezing all night, maybe I could have rocked harder to the awesomeness of the Belles.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Blue Monk

Sandy's Event #3

We were invited by our friends Jeff and Mia to see a jazz group called Di Terra at The Blue Monk, a not-smoky basement jazz club with a really long beer list. I'll start out by saying that the cover was $8, which is more than I would normally ever consider spending for a band I've never heard of, but I was really desperate for social interaction. The music was abysmal. It sounded like the half hour before a band actually starts playing -- when they are just, like, tuning their instruments. At one point the bassist was actually beating the strings with his bow. This is all especially interesting given what transpired about 20 minutes into the show. Audience members began "shhhhing" those of us who were talking (quietly, mind you) with one another at our tables. This led my party and I to stop conversing and look toward the stage, where the bassist (who looked like Larry David) was standing, hands on hips, and glaring demonstratively at a particularly chatty booth. At one point he raised his hand like a bird beak and did the universal hand motion for "blah blah blah." Incredible! Since when is it expected to sit with hands folded and devote 100% attention to BAR MUSIC? The promoter actually made some cockamemy announcement at intermission, like "Please show respect to the band by not talking..." I felt completely justified in walking out in the middle of a "song." What a bunch of dickheads! These cultural events are really on a roll...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Movie #3

I took a sick day yesterday and went to see Philip Seymour Hoffman in the role that is finally getting him some of the attention he's deserved for years. As he wins these awards, it's funny to watch other actors in the audience recognize what kind of hacks they truly are when compared to PSH. Not all of them of course, because the Best Actor category is pretty solid this year.* I mean, any other year, Heath Ledger would probably own that award. But this year, he has to contend with PSH, David Strathairn, and my pick, Joaquin Phoenix.

Yes, even though I really liked Capote, and loved Hoffman in it, I still want Joaquin to take it all home. Perhaps that's because I never had a chance to see footage of the real Truman Capote, or because he's a more difficult character to understand. In fact, I can come up with a very strong argument for why Hoffman's performance is better than Phoenix's simply because of difficulty and subtlety. But damn if I don't still want Joaquin to win. He made me feel more than any other actor this year, and I guess that's what I'm basing my worthless vote on. It was probably all the singin' and hollerin' but that's the way it is.

*Meanwhile, Reese Witherspoon should be thanking her lucky stars that the Best Actress field is such a joke this year. I mean, who has seen any of these movies? Can we just stop nominating Judi Dench for everything she ever craps out? And I will not even discuss Charlize, who had her moment, or Keira "Underbite" Knightley.

Aesthetic Apparatus at Ox-Op Gallery

Cultural Event #2

So, the boyfriend attended a design camp last fall where he saw the Aesthetic Apparatus boys speak. He also bought a print of the poster to the left for his lucky girlfriend, because he is sweet. Anyway, the Ox-Op gallery is a small space next to a bar called Grumpy's. This information is germane to the discussion because I'm mainly going to talk about the food Grumpy's provided for the opening. While I've heard tales about the legendary Ox-Op Bacon Wraptures for many moons, they were sadly amiss on Saturday night. Instead, the spread included pita toasts with egg salad (um, ew, but the pita toasts were yummy), three kinds of mini eclairs (awesome - particularly the mocha ones), strawberries with some sort of chocolate dipping sauce that looked like Jello™ pudding, and some cheesy, meaty rollups that I also didn't try but which I'm told were yummy. Oh! And they also had those tiny cans of soda which are awesome.

As for the show itself, it was pretty cool, but sort of odd considering the work I've seen from them in the past (mostly concert posters). This was all experimental stuff that I think they just did to entertain themselves. Which is fine, but hard to describe if you didn't see it.

One More Time

Movie #7 for Maya

All right folks, I sense some trouble. I haven’t been this gripped by a movie in years. I don’t know if it’s my retarded emotional state, or the time of the year, or what, but ever since I saw The New World I absolutely could not stop thinking about it. So then I went to see it for a second time three days later. Now I’m already worrying about whether I’ll be able to fit it in a couple more times before it’s unceremoniously yanked from the theaters. I won’t go on too much longer, but suffice it to say that after midterms are over, I’ll be posting about The New World at great length on my blog (as if anyone cares). This movie definitely has my favorite shot/reverse shot sequence in recent memory (towards the end). If anyone has seen it I’ll elaborate. The first time I saw the movie it seemed kind of long… The second time I saw it I actually was wishing it just wouldn’t end. I love it when this happens, this is the reason I watch so many movies. I’m not exaggerating; this movie has a very good chance of leaping from my best of 2005 list to my Favorite Movies of All Time list.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Match Point

Sandy's Movie #5

Jonathan Rhys-Meyers was almost convincing as a straight guy in this clever tale of lust and deceit. I heard somewhere recently that when it comes to movies, there are only about four stories told again and again, and what makes a film original are its characters. Hmm, where does that leave Match Point? This film will definitely remind you of a few others (Melinda and Melinda and Talented Mr. Ripley spring immediately to mind), but nevertheless it seems unique. It's not hard to see why Woody calls Scarlett his new muse, but I'm split on this one. I give it one thumb up and one thumb down. But my up thumb's a little higher than my down thumb is low.

Chinese New Year Cultural Fair

Sandy's Event #2

I don't think my Chinese New Year celebration quite beat Maya's in the lameness department, but it was below even my low expectations. When we first arrived at the Oregon Convention Center, a long line was serpentined around velevet ropes, leading into a room with music and dancing. When we handed the usher our complimentary tickets (from F.X.'s tai chi master), he said, "Oh, Chinese New Year is downstairs. This is Vietnamese New Year." Chinese New Year, it turned out, was not much more than a trade show at which local businesses handed out their brochures in Chinese. Wells Fargo bank offers free checking to Chinese people! Panda Express hires Chinese people! How to ride Tri-Met in Chinese! Oh, and there were a couple food carts dishing up noodles and dumplings. Not many non-Asian faces there at all, except for adoptive parents. We spent about 20 minutes wandering from booth to booth, which was 15 minutes too long.

Fortunately, the next day we went to "New Chinatown" and had excellent HK-style dim sum. We also visited the brand new FuBonn Supermarket, which was like a Chinese + Vietnamese + Thai grocery combined (with a few overly priced Japanese goods too.) So our East Asian weekend was only halfway lame.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The New World

Movie #6 for Maya

I really liked this movie, but this is another one I wouldn’t recommend to many people. It’s more like a hypnotic succession of images than an actual film. At the end I really felt like I was in a trance. I’m still a little dazed. There’s no real story to speak of, but the movie is structured into three very distinct segments which are all filmed perfectly. It’s basically about the transition from passion to civilization. I like movies which play with the typical progression of time, and this one certainly does that. Colin Farrell rocks the scruffy beard and girlie hair pretty hard. I don’t think he’s a great actor, but he’s starting to peak my interest. Christian Bale is lovely, but only in the movie for like 15 minutes, so don’t rush to the movie expecting him to get lots of screen time. This movie was definitely worth my time, and I hope the 5 other people in the theater enjoyed it too.

Chinese New Year

Cultural Event #1 – Perhaps the First and Last

If all the Cultural Events I attend this year are as lame as this one, I’ll skip them in advance. This was the gayest parade I’ve ever seen. Thousands of people from Chicago flock to Chinatown, jamming the trains, and the parade consists of… one lion dancer, one small dragon, a painting of a dog carried by some Chinese people, two kilt-wearing bagpipe bands (TWO), two high school marching bands (95% African-American), some trolleys, and Ronald McDonald in a shoe. Yes, as we all know, Ronald McDonald ensures a lucky and healthy Year of the Dog. Then we waited in line for 45 minutes to eat lunch since all the restaurants were jam-packed and totally understaffed (as if the restaurant owners were totally caught off-guard by the crowds of people there for Chinese New Year). There were no firecrackers! Since the last time I attended the parade, they’ve been outlawed! The lion dancers blessing the stores after the parade were pretty lame too. They were just some old dudes, not even lion dancers from a kung fu school, so no jumps or kicks or anything. I can have a more authentic Chinese experience without leaving my freaking house… next time I’ll know better.