Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Oscar Time

Ah yes...

It's that time again. I already know that the Oscars are a contrived, celebrity lovefest. I already know that hardly anyone watches the movies that are nominated. I already know that there are better things to do with my time. I already know all of this and still I don't care. Take that!

Actually, I should be honest. I took a short, one year hiatus from my normal Oscar craziness. Something about living so close to the epicenter of the event may have put me off my feed for awhile. But I'm back and better than ever.

This year I have already seen all five best picture nominees. When the list came out I had seen 3 (considering there are still two movies nominated last year that I haven't seen, I'd say that is pretty good).

Though I could go on and on about this year's crop of films, I'll keep it brief. By the way, the nominees are: No Country for Old Men, Atonement, Juno, There Will Be Blood and Michael Clayton. If I were to select a winner it would be No Country for Old Men. If I were to choose my favorite it would be Juno. (Favorites rarely have anything to do with artistic can be so, well, artsy.)

Some thoughts on the nominees...

No Country for Old Men was the consumate blend of art and entertainment. It was shockingly violent, intense and portrayed a sad, but honest perspective of American life.

Juno, meanwhile, was fun and touching. It turned out to be a sweet, little love story that I wasn't expecting while keeping itself just above sentimentality. I read an article about the new prevelance of quirkiness in the world and Juno would definitely be full of quirk.

I was less enamored with Atonement but found myself thinking about it several days after I had seen it. It started as an ordinary WWII love story with a unique framing of the story. Then, there at the end, just when you've settled yourself into a contentment with the plot...SMACK...they knock you down a peg. I was a little shocked that they'd do such a thing to me. Time may allow for this movie to grow on me.

On the other hand, time only made me grow more resentful of There Will Be Blood. I've decided it best to not feel too badly when I disagree with critics, even when it seems I disagree with all of them. At first I just thought There Will Be Blood was boring. I tried to make the movie better by considering Daniel Day Lewis's fine work. Didn't help. At the the end of the day I accepted what I truly think of the film - it was a boring, laborious study on the inhumanity of capitalism with ham-fisted metaphors and long stretches of wasted screen time.

That leaves me with Michael Clayton. It was okay. That's all I can manage. It was like a plain farm girl dressed up for a night in the big city. It was a John Grisham movie with art house touches. Besides, I don't like George Clooney. I think he's a hack. I was entertained by Michael Clayton. That's what I pay the money for, after all. I could have rented The Client and been happier, though.

So that's it. That's my take on the movie up for best picture this year. I'm sure there will be more to come.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Saw This Result Coming Miles Away

Your results:
You are Chewbacca

Obi-Wan Kenobi
Qui-Gon Jinn
Lando Calrissian
Luke Skywalker
Boba Fett
Han Solo
Sure you're tall and hairy,
but you've got heart!

(This list displays the top 10 results out of a possible 21 characters)

Click here to take the Star Wars Personality Test

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Mexico and Family

Sunday, to make ourselves feel more cultured and international, we drove to Tijuana, Mexico. This was a first for all of us. For some of us this was even the first time we'd ever crossed an international border at all.

We parked on the U.S. side and walked across the border. It is surprisingly easy to get into Mexico. There are no guards, no checkpoints and no waiting. The most difficult thing is operating the full body turnstyles. In fact, if you aren't paying attention you won't even see the placard telling that you've made it to the border.

Once across the border capitalism kicks in. Everyone is trying to sell you something - cab rides, Chiclets, necklaces, donkeys (and donkey shows, God help us), food, drinks, blankets, arts, crafts and probably drugs and sex if you are in the market for such things. I was prepared for the little kids looking sad and hungry, tugging at your shirt sleeve and pushing little knick knacks. I was not ready for the intensity of the guys running the little shops up and down Revolution Avenue.

We didn't stay too long in Mexico, but we left a lot of money. Thaddeus and Michelle bartered like pros. I slipped off on my own and bought some paintings done on cuts stones from a guy that didn't really appear to care if he sold me anything. He had a cat named Junior that kept causing trouble when the guy was wrapping up my stuff. I can get used to a place like that.

Meanwhile, someone from worked spotted me while I was in Mexico. It truly is a small world.

We returned to Los Angeles early enough in the evening that Thaddeus and I had to entertain ourselves for awhile. (I believe Michelle was off reading Magic Street by Orson Scott Card, which she finished in the few days she was here.) Anyway, years ago I stole my sister's genealogy hobby after being assigned some writing project in a sociology class and Thaddeus has recently taken up a more concerted effort to track his own roots.

Thaddeus and I came to discover recently that we had a shared name in our family trees. We spent Sunday night finding out whether this man was indeed the same person. It turns out that Thaddeus's Samuel Marvin and my Samuel Marvin were indeed the same man. Suddenly it became possible that my best friend was also my cousin. I started to enter Thaddeus’s family tree into my genealogy software to see just what sort of cousins we are.

At this point, I should mention something else about family. Some of Thaddeus’s renewed interest in genealogy comes because his family tree contains a number of notables. One of his great grandfathers, Thomas Hinckley, was a governor back in colonial times. The current president of the LDS church, Gordon Hinckley, is from that same family. As it would happen, a newspaper article had reported that Gordon Hinckley is related to both Presidents Bush, therefore Thaddeus is too.

And the connections don’t stop there, my friends. After discovering the Marvin connection in our family trees, it turns out that I too am related to George W. Bush. Thaddeus is related to the Bush side. I am related to Barbara (Pierce) Bush’s side. The genealogy software boiled it all down as Thaddeus and I have no direct relationship because of this fact. However, we would not be deterred. George W. Bush and Thaddeus are 9th cousins. George W. Bush and I are 11th cousins. Thaddeus and I agree that we were therefore 9th cousins by marriage, twice removed. (Disagree with this all you want; we are sticking with it – that’s what family does.)

All in all, it was a full day.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Foncks Day 2

We aren't much for rising early on vacation days. This is usually because we aren't much for going to bed early on vacation days either. After a long Friday out and about we struggled to get out into the world until after lunchtime. We did have time, however, for geocaching in Santa Monica.

The best way to describe geocaching is a GPS treasure hunt. You are given coordinates and clues and must find a box of varying size filled with tiny treasures and objects called travel bugs. The treasures and travel bugs are traded and the location of the travel bugs tracked through a coding system. It's an activity that has its charms, but I'm far too lazy to find myself sinking to far into this sort of wacky subculture.

After geocaching it was off to ILD Global's Vision Conference for the remainder of the day.
The members of ILD belong to a different sort of subculture than the geocaching crowd, but a subculture they are. This group just happens to be passionate about dreams, human potential, family, country and making money. I'm always impressed by them if never willing to fully buy into their program. Over the many years I've been attending the random ILD function with my friends I've always hoped their passion and ability to dream would sort of wear off on me but I struggle with buying into any one program be it business organization, religion, diet or brand of politics. Simply, I'm just no good at commitment. There, I said it.

Anyway, Day 3 has dawned and if we stay committed to earlier plans I'll be crossing the border into Mexico this afternoon.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Day of Two Rons

The Foncks are in town for a couple days. To start off their visit we had a day of two Rons. We started with President Ronald Reagan, visiting his library and museum in Simi Valley.

Here I study the ranch part of the exhibit.

Thaddeus and I doing our best impression of President and Vice President (I look more presidential, don't you think?).

The second half of our day was with our second Ron (but first in our hearts). Here we are at Ron's favorite pizza place, Casa Bianca in Eagle Rock. We waited for 45 minutes, ate too much anitpasta so that we couldn't finish the pizza and then went back to Ron's place to talk about politics while interweaving Thaddeus and I's stories about our days making pizza for a living.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Birthday Portrait

I felt I needed to share this. Over the last week I was talking with a guy that said the future of the internet is simple - people will never get tired of looking at pictures of themselves. Here's my little contribution (actually it's from Eloise and Maria). This is from a party I went to which turned into a quasi-birthday party. This would be the last moments of me being thirty. Goodbye 30. (The dog and I bonded - shortly after this he rolled over on his back and went to sleep.)