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[No comments] To Stop Disturbance: I was reading to Sumana the most interesting bits from Washington Goes To War, a book by David Brinkley about the changes to Washington D.C. over the course of World War II. It's full of interesting historical tidbits, including:

  • The attempt to notify essential personnel of the attack on Pearl Harbor, without notifying the other 27,000 people in the same football stadium watching the Washington Redskins game.
  • An entirely legal scheme by which a Washington columnist and the Spanish ambassador arranged payoffs in exchange for "the columnist [writing] about previously unknown virtues he saw in Francisco Franco."
  • The controversial origins of having taxes automatically deducted from your paycheck.

But the thing Sumana wanted me to record verbatim was the policy that Washington D.C.'s Casino Royal put into place for dealing with the inevitable fistfights between soldiers and sailors. "Night after night," these inter-service resentments boiled over, and so the Casino Royal wrote down these rules and posted them "on a wall backstage under the heading TO STOP DISTURBANCE."

  1. Lower the house lights
  2. Turn the spotlight on a large American flag hanging from the ceiling
  3. Start up an electric fan aimed at the flag, causing it to flutter
  4. Have the band instantly stop playing dance music and strike up "The Star-Spangled Banner".
  5. Call in the military police and the navy's shore patrol
It always worked. The soldiers and sailors stopped swinging at each other, faced the flag and stood at attention while the band played. There was no way a uniformed military man in wartime could refuse to do this, however angry he was. Before the anthem was finished, the military police and the shore patrol were walking up the steps from Fourteenth Street.

The one that really gets me is #3. I can see how this behavior would be drilled into you as a reflex action, but #3 makes it feel like they're trying to inspire you, remind you what you're fightin' for. And then the MPs show up.

[No comments] September Film Roundup: Didn't see a lot of movies this month, so I'm going to add a new mini-feature that will run for the next few months. I'll be briefly reviewing some TV shows that, although I haven't seen (and may never see) absolutely every episode, I feel like I can evaluate the show as a whole. But first, our feature presentations:

  • Rififi (1955) a.k.a. "Du rififi chez les hommes", a.k.a. "Rough Stuff" (my translation). Where's the dividing line between French New Wave films inspired by American noir, and just plain French noir? I don't know. This is definitely on the 'just plain French noir' side, but everything in this movie—the misogyny, the stylishness, the despair—is just a more extreme version of what you get from Truffaut. Not recommended overall but the half-hour silent heist scene is black-and-white gold, everything that was promised.
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009): The first Wes Anderson film I've enjoyed rather than admired. Everything is so cute and twee but with a little edge, so the style is a perfect match. If I've read the book it was in grade school, so I don't know who gets the credit for this idea, but I love how, despite being totally anthropomorphized, the stop-motion animals are animals. Really cool seeing Mr. Fox get into a hissing match with his lawyer, casually killing chickens, etc. Also love how 'cuss' is used as an all-purpose swear word.
  • Kumaré (2001): Saw with Sumana and mother-in-law. Not really happy with the way this ended. It's common for the creator of a documentary about pulling a con job to start to feel remorse for their marks about halfway through the documentary. And this does happen to Vikram Gandhi in Kumaré, but when it's time to come clean he doesn't show the remorse. He retcons his con job as "Yes, I misled you and lied to you, but it was all in the service of a larger spiritual goal!"

    Gandhi has a degree in religious studies so he should know this is Religious Huckster Trick #2. And of course it works. He pulls it off! But he's still operating the con.

  • Desperately Seeking Susan (1985): This was on the list of great films by female directors (see previous post), and it was showing at the museum, so we caught the next train posthaste! (Actually we walked.) It's a fun movie that's very much a time capsule, not just because of the New York and the fashions and the yuppie coffee tables and the Madonna but because not one single element of this plot can coexist with cell phones or the Internet.

    Well, one element can—hyperspecific amnesia caused by otherwise harmless head trauma—but that's just ridiculous, so I'm not counting it. No, you know what, even that can't survive cell phones. "I forgot who I am... good thing I'm still logged into Facebook."

    You just know I'll like this movie because there's a very strong Celine and Julie go Boating vibe, not just in the magic show but in the way Roberta just picks up Susan's identity and tries it on for a while. Really fun.

And now the TV section. Obviously my technique of waiting until I can evaluate the show as a whole, creates a selection bias towards good television shows. I'll sit through a bad movie and then pan it in Film Roundup, but a bad TV show is outa here, especially since I watch movies on my own but I only watch TV with Sumana. But what's the problem with talking about good TV? Try this on for size:

  • The Dick Van Dyke Show (1951-1966) - Or as I just typed into IMDB, "The Dick Van." I remember reading an essay that explained that Leave it to Beaver was a groundbreaking show because it showed post-WWII parents trying to figure out how to raise children without the corporal-punishment-centric style their parents used on them. But phooey on that, because Leave it to Beaver is not funny. The Dick Van Dyke Show shows a postwar couple trying to figure out how to be good parents and partners, and it's really really funny. It's got workplace comedy, metahumor, tastefully wacky neighbors, everything good you'd want from a sitcom. Rob and Laura will have a disagreement that turns into an argument and then a reconciliation, it will be realistic and funny, and they'll shoot it all in one long take. It's so good. Sometimes they tire of the normal fare and do a sitcom version of The Twilight Zone instead.

    Best moment: Buddy, one of Rob's co-workers, is always making these awful jokes about his shrewish wife Pickles. And then in one episode all the co-workers have a night out on the town. Buddy brings Pickles along, and she's great! She's a Broadway chorus girl, she's the life of the party, she and Buddy are perfect for each other, totally in love, and you realize, of course! Why would Buddy marry someone who'd make him miserable? He's just an asshole who adopts this Borscht Belt persona at work. The show doesn't go out of its way to point out any of this; it just quietly develops the characters in ways that reward paying attention.

(Before you ask, Religious Huckster Trick #1 is "God told me to tell you to give me money.")

[Comments] (3) Top 100 Films From Women Directors: Sumana is tired of dude movies, so I went through this list of 100 great movies by female directors and noted the ones that a) I think Sumana would like (no Pet Sematary) and b) I am willing to watch (no Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, a film Sumana really likes but just thinking about it makes me fall asleep. I'm asleep right now!) There were about twenty-five such movies.

The above-linked list is very quirky, and although the idiosyncracies generally work in the reader's favor (gotta figure out a way to see Jodie Mack's Dusty Stacks of Mom (2013)), it left rhetorical space for men to come into the comments section and say HOW could you OVERLOOK this GROUNDBREAKING film, [potentially useful recommendation], for you see, I know a LOT about FILM. Which I must admit would have happened anyway.

I don't know a lot about film, but I do know how to run SQL queries against IMDB data, so I thought I would make an intersubjective list of the top 100 films directed by women, judged by their IMDB ratings. In general I copied the implicit rules of the hand-picked list. Only feature-length films are here. No documentaries, no concert footage. (There is one comedy special in here, but whatever.)

As usual, films with fewer than 150 votes on IMDB were not considered. Also as usual, there are no links because the IMDB dataset is far too ancient for such things. I did some spot checks and kicked a couple movies off the list for obvious astroturfing. I don't believe one of the movies on this list is real, but I left it on the list because it's so weird.

Here's the list:

1. The Matrix (1999)Wachowski, Lana8.7Action, Sci-Fi
2. Cidade de Deus (2002)Lund, Kátia8.7Drama, Crime
3. Voskhozhdenie (1977)Shepitko, Larisa8.3Drama, War
4. Drushyam (2014)Sripriya8.3Drama, Thriller, Family
5. Moe no suzaku (1997)Kawase, Naomi8.2Drama
6. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011)Akhtar, Zoya8.1Drama, Romance, Comedy, Adventure, Family
7. Salaam Bombay! (1988)Nair, Mira8.1Drama, Crime
8. Mr. and Mrs. Iyer (2002)Sen, Aparna8.0Drama
9. Le roman de Renard (1930)Starewicz, Irene8.0Comedy, Fantasy, Animation, Family
10. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)Tandan, Loveleen8.0Drama, Romance
11. Persepolis (2007)Satrapi, Marjane8.0Drama, Animation, War, Biography
12. Chelovek s bulvara Kaputsinov (1987)Surikova, Alla8.0Romance, Comedy, Musical, Western
13. Zero Motivation (2014)Lavie, Talya7.9Drama, Comedy
14. Chou tin dik tong wah (1987)Cheung, Mabel7.9Drama, Romance
15. Out 1, noli me tangere (1971)Schiffman, Suzanne7.9Drama
16. Tau ban no hoi (1982)Hui, Ann7.9Drama
17. Gett (2014)Elkabetz, Ronit7.9Drama
18. Sharasôju (2003)Kawase, Naomi7.9Drama
19. Gangoobai (2013)Krishnaswamy, Priya7.9Drama, Family
20. Patrice O'Neal: Elephant in the Room (2011)McCarthy-Miller, Beth7.9Comedy
21. Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)Akerman, Chantal7.9Drama
22. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)Faris, Valerie7.9Drama, Comedy, Adventure
23. English Vinglish (2012)Shinde, Gauri7.9Drama, Comedy, Family
24. Shrek (2001)Jenson, Vicky7.9Comedy, Fantasy, Animation, Adventure, Family
25. La distancia más larga (2013)Pinto, Claudia7.9Drama
26. Pasqualino Settebellezze (1975)Wertmüller, Lina7.9Drama, Comedy, War
27. Dönüs (1972)Soray, Türkan7.8Drama, Romance
28. Strangers in Good Company (1990)Scott, Cynthia7.8Drama
29. Awakenings (1990)Marshall, Penny7.8Drama, Biography
30. Dolgie provody (1971)Muratova, Kira7.8Drama
31. Ne dao Bog veceg zla (2002)Tribuson, Snjezana7.8Romance
32. Tong nien wang shi (1985)Yang, Li-Yin7.8Drama, Biography
33. Dedictví aneb Kurvahosigutntag (1993)Chytilová, Vera7.8Comedy
34. Cheshmane John Malkovich 1: Viggo Mortensen (2004)Solati, Sara7.8Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery
35. Earth (1998)Mehta, Deepa7.8Drama, Romance, War
36. Nu ren si shi (1995)Hui, Ann7.8Drama, Comedy
37. Lost in Translation (2003)Coppola, Sofia7.8Drama
38. Efter brylluppet (2006)Bier, Susanne7.8Drama
39. Water (2005)Mehta, Deepa7.8Drama, Romance
40. Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (1926)Reiniger, Lotte7.8Romance, Fantasy, Animation, Adventure
41. Rocks in My Pockets (2014)Baumane, Signe7.7Comedy, Drama, Animation
42. Kirschblüten - Hanami (2008)Dörrie, Doris7.7Drama, Romance
43. Selma (2014)DuVernay, Ava7.7Drama, Biography, History
44. Nirgendwo in Afrika (2001)Link, Caroline7.7Drama, Biography
45. Hævnen (2010)Bier, Susanne7.7Drama
46. S tebou me baví svet (1983)Polednáková, Marie7.7Comedy, Family
47. Nastroyshchik (2004)Muratova, Kira7.7Drama, Comedy, Crime
48. Die Höhle des gelben Hundes (2005)Davaa, Byambasuren7.7Drama
49. Sita Sings the Blues (2008)Paley, Nina7.7Comedy, Fantasy, Romance, Animation, Musical
50. Sans toit ni loi (1985)Varda, Agnès7.7Drama
51. Olivier, Olivier (1992)Holland, Agnieszka7.7Drama
52. Little Fugitive (1953)Orkin, Ruth7.7Drama, Family
53. Film d'amore e d'anarchia, ovvero 'stamattina alle 10 in via dei Fiori nella nota casa di tolleranza...' (1973)Wertmüller, Lina7.7Drama, Romance, Comedy
54. Le bonheur (1965)Varda, Agnès7.7Drama
55. Krylya (1966)Shepitko, Larisa7.7Drama
56. Jibeuro Ganeun Gil (2013)Pang, Eun-jin7.7Drama
57. Whale Rider (2002)Caro, Niki7.7Drama, Family
58. Frozen (2013)Lee, Jennifer7.7Family, Fantasy, Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Musical
59. Europa Europa (1990)Holland, Agnieszka7.7Drama, War, History
60. Elsker dig for evigt (2002)Bier, Susanne7.7Drama, Romance
61. Die Fremde (2010)Aladag, Feo7.6Drama
62. Away from Her (2006)Polley, Sarah7.6Drama
63. Saving Face (2004)Wu, Alice7.6Drama, Romance, Comedy
64. Tou ze (2011)Hui, Ann7.6Drama
65. En chance til (2014)Bier, Susanne7.6Drama, Thriller
66. Wadjda (2012)Al-Mansour, Haifaa7.6Drama, Comedy
67. My Life Without Me (2003)Coixet, Isabel7.6Drama, Romance
68. Neposlusni (2014)Djukic, Mina7.6Drama
69. 36 Chowringhee Lane (1981)Sen, Aparna7.6Drama, Romance
70. Depuis qu'Otar est parti... (2003)Bertuccelli, Julie7.6Drama
71. The Hurt Locker (2008)Bigelow, Kathryn7.6Drama, War, Thriller
72. American Psycho (2000)Harron, Mary7.6Drama, Crime
73. The Secret Life of Words (2005)Coixet, Isabel7.6Drama, Romance
74. Brødre (2004)Bier, Susanne7.6Drama, War
75. Yeo-haeng-ja (2009)Lecomte, Ounie7.6Drama
76. Ting shuo (2009)Cheng, Fen-fen7.6Drama, Romance
77. I Am Sam (2001)Nelson, Jessie7.6Drama
78. The Namesake (2006)Nair, Mira7.6Drama
79. Boys Don't Cry (1999)Peirce, Kimberly7.6Drama, Biography
80. Büyük adam küçük ask (2001)Ipekçi, Handan7.6Drama
81. Hanezu no tsuki (2011)Kawase, Naomi7.6Drama
82. Pora umierac (2007)Kedzierzawska, Dorota7.6Drama
83. La faute à Fidel! (2006)Gavras, Julie7.6Drama, History
84. Kazoku no kuni (2012)Yang, Yong-hi7.5Drama
85. Zir-e poost-e shahr (2001)Bani-Etemad, Rakhshan7.5Drama
86. Proof (1991)Moorhouse, Jocelyn7.5Drama
87. Ramchand Pakistani (2008)Jabbar, Mehreen7.5Drama
88. Te doy mis ojos (2003)Bollaín, Icíar7.5Drama, Romance
89. Nanayomachi (2008)Kawase, Naomi7.5Drama
90. La misma luna (2007)Riggen, Patricia7.5Drama
91. Travolti da un insolito destino nell'azzurro mare d'agosto (1974)Wertmüller, Lina7.5Drama, Comedy, Adventure
92. Samt el qusur (1994)Tlatli, Moufida7.5Drama
93. Et maintenant on va où? (2011)Labaki, Nadine7.5Drama, Comedy
94. The Japanese Wife (2010)Sen, Aparna7.5Drama, Romance
95. An Angel at My Table (1990)Campion, Jane7.5Drama, Biography
96. Antonia (1995)Gorris, Marleen7.5Drama, Comedy
97. Hooligans (2005)Alexander, Lexi7.5Drama, Sport, Crime
98. Trolösa (2000)Ullmann, Liv7.5Drama, Romance
99. A New Leaf (1971)May, Elaine7.5Romance, Comedy
100. We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)Ramsay, Lynne7.5Drama, Thriller
101. Ke tu qiu hen (1990)Hui, Ann7.5Drama
102. Mita Tova (2014)Granit, Tal7.5Drama
103. Ratcatcher (1999)Ramsay, Lynne7.5Drama
104. (2003)Lee, Eon-hie7.5Romance
105. Tin shui wai dik yat yu ye (2008)Hui, Ann7.5Drama
106. American Splendor (2003)Berman, Shari Springer7.5Drama, Comedy, Biography
107. Tian yu (1998)Chen, Joan7.5Drama
108. Cloud Atlas (2012)Wachowski, Lana7.5Drama, Sci-Fi
109. Jestem (2005)Kedzierzawska, Dorota7.5Drama
110. Korotkie vstrechi (1968)Muratova, Kira7.5Drama, Romance
111. Dogfight (1991)Savoca, Nancy7.5Drama, Romance, War
112. Across the Universe (2007)Taymor, Julie7.5Drama, Fantasy, Romance, Musical
113. Sedmikrásky (1966)Chytilová, Vera7.5Drama, Comedy

There are 113 movies in this list because IMDB ratings only have 0.1 star precision. If you're a woman and you direct a movie that gets a 7.5, congrats, you're tied for 84th place.

Susanne Bier and Ann Hui each have five films on the list. Naomi Kawase has four. Some of the directors share the credit with a man, notably Lana Wachowski and Suzanne Schiffman. Barring any titles I don't recognize because they're not in English, the only films on this list I've seen are Sita Sings the Blues, Whale Rider, Frozen and A New Leaf. My personal favorites, among movies I know were directed by women, are A New Leaf and Wayne's World.

Finally, here's the base query I used to get the info I needed out of the database. I used the same database I built for Ghostbusters Past.

select distinct(, title.title, title.production_year,,,, kind_id,, name.gender from title join cast_info on join name on join movie_info_idx as rating on join movie_info_idx as votes on join movie_info on where cast_info.role_id=8 and kind_id=1 and movie_info.info_type_id=3 and rating.info_type_id=101 and votes.info_type_id=100 and name.gender='f';

Update: The pedantry continues with Darius Kazemi telling me that Loveleen Tandan was the casting director on Slumdog Millionare, not the director who yelled "cut!" and "action!" and "it's a wrap!". If IMDB says role_id=8, that's good enough for me, but YMMV.

Update #2: danima asked about English-language films. I don't think IMDB tracks the primary language of a film, just whether a language is used in the film. So I can filter on "English", but I'll still pick up films that are primarily in French or Hindi, so long as there is some English dialogue. Our story begins right after Across the Universe, where the previous list leaves off. Basically if your film is in English you only need to get a 7.4 or 7.3 (still several standard deviations above the median) to get in the top 100. I have not vetted this list for astroturf:

57. Pismo do Amerika (2001)Triffonova, Iglika7.4Drama
58. Bastard Out of Carolina (1996)Huston, Anjelica7.4Drama
59. Frida (2002)Taymor, Julie7.4Drama, Romance, Biography
60. Chance (2002)Benson, Amber7.4Drama, Comedy
61. Kaméleon (2008)Goda, Krisztina7.4Drama, Comedy, Thriller
62. Paris, je t'aime (2006)Chadha, Gurinder7.4Drama, Romance, Comedy
63. Le fils de l'autre (2012)Lévy, Lorraine7.4Drama
64. Lifted (2010)Alexander, Lexi7.4Drama
65. Belle (2013)Asante, Amma7.4Drama
66. Desert Flower (2009)Hormann, Sherry7.4Drama, Biography
67. Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005)July, Miranda7.4Drama, Comedy
68. On Dangerous Ground (1951)Lupino, Ida7.4Drama, Romance, Thriller, Film-Noir, Crime
69. Paris, je t'aime (2006)Coixet, Isabel7.4Drama, Romance, Comedy
70. Bound (1996)Wachowski, Lana7.4Drama, Thriller, Crime
71. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)Bigelow, Kathryn7.4Drama, Thriller, History
72. También la lluvia (2010)Bollaín, Icíar7.4Drama, History
73. Monsoon Wedding (2001)Nair, Mira7.4Drama, Romance, Comedy
74. Mimì metallurgico ferito nell'onore (1972)Wertmüller, Lina7.4Comedy
75. Hollow Reed (1996)Pope, Angela7.4Drama
76. The Trouble with Angels (1966)Lupino, Ida7.4Comedy
77. The Selfish Giant (2013)Barnard, Clio7.4Drama
78. Mikey and Nicky (1976)May, Elaine7.4Drama
79. José Rizal (1998)Diaz-Abaya, Marilou7.3Drama, War, Biography, History
80. Titus (1999)Taymor, Julie7.3Drama, Thriller, History
81. Sepet (2004)Ahmad, Yasmin7.3Drama, Romance, Comedy
82. Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)Yuh, Jennifer7.3Family, Drama, Animation, Adventure, Action, Comedy
83. Put oko sveta (1964)Jovanovic, Soja7.3Comedy, Adventure, Western
84. Fish Tank (2009)Arnold, Andrea7.3Drama
85. Infinitely Polar Bear (2014)Forbes, Maya7.3Drama, Comedy
86. An Education (2009)Scherfig, Lone7.3Drama
87. The Black Balloon (2008)Down, Elissa7.3Drama, Romance
88. North Country (2005)Caro, Niki7.3Drama
89. Thousand Pieces of Gold (1991)Kelly, Nancy7.3Romance, Western
90. Funny Valentines (1999)Dash, Julie7.3Drama
91. The Secret Life of Bees (2008)Prince-Bythewood, Gina7.3Drama
92. Stander (2003)Hughes, Bronwen7.3Action, Drama, Biography, Crime
93. Shao nu xiao yu (1995)Chang, Sylvia7.3Drama
94. The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio (2005)Anderson, Jane7.3Drama, Biography
95. Craig's Wife (1936)Arzner, Dorothy7.3Drama
96. Firaaq (2008)Das, Nandita7.3Drama, History
97. Blood and Sand (1922)Arzner, Dorothy7.3Drama, Romance, Sport
98. My Brilliant Career (1979)Armstrong, Gillian7.3Drama, Romance, Biography
99. Eve's Bayou (1997)Lemmons, Kasi7.3Drama
100. The Name Is Rogells (Rugg-ells) (2011)Warner, Rachel7.3Romance, Adventure
101. The Voices (2014)Satrapi, Marjane7.3Comedy, Thriller, Crime
102. The Woodsman (2004)Kassell, Nicole7.3Drama
103. Talaash (2012)Kagti, Reema7.3Drama, Mystery, Thriller, Crime
104. My First Mister (2001)Lahti, Christine7.3Drama, Romance, Comedy
105. Big (1988)Marshall, Penny7.3Drama, Fantasy, Romance, Comedy
106. Monster (2003)Jenkins, Patty7.3Drama, Biography, Crime
107. The Secret Garden (1993)Holland, Agnieszka7.3Drama, Fantasy, Family
108. Little Women (1994)Armstrong, Gillian7.3Drama, Romance
109. Fire (1996)Mehta, Deepa7.3Drama, Romance
110. The Connection (1962)Clarke, Shirley7.3Drama

August Film Roundup: I think this month is about as close as Film Roundup has gotten to a random sample of movies. The museum did a series based on the 70mm film format, so we got three movies that have nothing in common except a decision to put really big film in the camera. Overall pretty happy with this month's crop though.

  • Stagecoach (1939): I always come into these hyper-classics expecting to be disappointed, but Stagecoach totally delivered. It's a movie full of memorable character actors and easy-to-get jokes. Its plot structure is very unusual for a western. I found it a cut above much "deeper" westerns like Red River. Recommended.
  • The Sun Shines Bright (1953): John Ford's second attempt at Judge Priest, the film I walked out of in July. I saw this one with Camille, so I was committed. Still has Stepin Fetchit doing his bit but generally achieves 1950s-liberal levels of anti-racism. I upgrade this version to "watchable." There's a scene where a lynch mob pours into town, and you see reaction shots from all the black characters, and it's filmed like the scene in a western where the bad guy walks down main street and the shopkeepers hurriedly close up shop. Also a very effective moment of cringe comedy at the beginning, like the striptease in Cotton Comes to Harlem. Plenty of good stuff interspersed between the never-explained scandals and the tepid romance between [Female Lead] and [We Can't Give An Old Guy Top Billing! Get Me a Zeppo Marx type!]

    Between this and Stagecoach I wasn't expecting how pro-sex-worker John Ford is. ("So was Jesus."—Camille) This is the one that really hammers the point home, though. So cheesy and heartfelt and effective. Not believable, but effective. People marching with a banner saying "He Saved Us From Ourselves"—the ultimate liberal fantasy!

  • Brainstorm (1983): I was really impressed by Brainstorm's portrayal of a Research Triangle tech company and the weirdos who work there. It doesn't hurt that Christopher Walken and Louise Fletcher play the weirdos. Some really clever twists, by which I mean ideas you might see in print SF in 1983, instead of film being twenty years behind like usual. It becomes kind of goofy at the end, but it's a Douglas Trumbull movie, you're gonna get some goofiness. A pleasant surprise.
  • Victor/Victoria (1982): I cut this movie a lot of slack while I was watching it because I seriously thought it was made in, like, 1965. It's a mashup of a bunch of mid-1960s movie plots, and I'm still at a loss to explain how young Julie Andrews looks in this movie. Maybe a mosquito bit her just as The Sound of Music wrapped, the mosquito was preserved in amber, and a clone of the beloved actress was created from the blood in the mosquito's stomach. I assure you, it's quite possible. German scientists brought to the United States by Operation Paperclip had been researching... but you're not here for the science lesson.

    I don't know about the politics of this movie, I guess it's pretty good for 1982. Overall it's kind of a mess in my mind. It's worth watching just to see Robert Preston (who has aged a normal amount) be a huge ham. There were a lot of funny moments but also a lot of duds, like the... bumbling private detective? What, did Blake Edwards direct this? Oh, he did? Well, he should know better.

    PS: In an act of sheer cowardice, a "nobody's perfect"-style line was cut from the romantic lead's part, leaving him nearly as Zeppo-ish as the dude in The Sun Shines Bright.

  • It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963): I'd never seen the prequels (It's a World (1956), It's a Mad World (1958), It's a Mad Mad World (1959), etc.) but it's pretty easy to follow. Also easy to see why this is where the franchise ran out of steam. Not recommended, especially since The Great Race (1965) fixes every problem with this movie:

    • Shorter
    • Less sexist
    • Better characters
    • Better jokes
    • Better slapstick
    • More Peter Falk

    So watch The Great Race instead. It's one of my favorite movies and maybe the best thing about It's a (Mad )* World is that it ensured The Great Race would be greenlit.

  • Baahubali: The Beginning (2015): Saw it again with the in-laws. My verdict is the same as before. One funny thing I forgot: there's a guy who's got all his lackeys together to carry out a coup, and as he explains why pulling a coup is the right thing to do, ethically speaking, all his lackeys intone in unison: "The right decision." It's funny the same way "The greater good." is funny in Hot Fuzz. I asked my brother-in-law if that was a translation error and he said no, that's pretty much what they say in the Telugu original.

    In our collection of Amar Chitra Katha we found a comic called "Bahubali", and although it shares some similarities to the movie it's not the same story. The comic is notable for having a conflict between two brothers which could lead to war, but is instead resolved by contests of brotherly roughhousing: backyard wrestling, splashing water at each other, and so on.

  • The Master (2012): I guess it was inevitable that some big-shot Hollywood auteur would take it into his head to make a prequel to Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966), answering all the questions no one cared to ask, like: why is Torgo's posture so poor? How did he and the Master meet? And why does the Master keep all his wives under hypnosis? Creating such an elaborate backstory to something so silly is, well, silly, but it's also something I would do, so I'll give it a pass.

    The performances in this are great, but it's ultimately another in Paul Thomas Anderson's explorations of horrible men being horrible, so... I'd stick with There Will Be Blood. At least there's blood in that one.

[Comments] (2) July Film Roundup: Sumana was gone for most of the month, and I discovered how easy it is to get to Film Forum from the library to see a movie after work. And when Sumana was around we saw a bunch of movies together, and the upshot is that I've now seen every movie ever made and there are no more movies. Here's just a sampling of the films I saw in July.

  • Young Mr. Lincoln (1939): Very hagiographic about Lincoln personally but unsparing about everything surrounding Lincoln, especially antebellum American society and politics. One of the lesser John Ford films I saw finished this month, if only because the competition's so stiff. In particular, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance does all the political stuff much better. Not bad though.
  • The Grapes of Wrath (1940): Really good and super liberal. None of the "this is all in the past, you can relax now" we saw with Border Incident. Even the unbelievable ending, tacked on by the producer to forestall a socialist revolution, is downright pinko by today's degraded standards. I'd like to give special attention to John Carradine, who turns in a really good performance as a man of God who's lost his connection.
  • Judge Priest (1934): I walked out of this movie after ten minutes because of the super-racist comedy. If this was a Serious Film I would deal with the racism, but this was supposed to be my lighthearted Grapes of Wrath chaser, so screw this movie. Also, is this guy a judge or a priest? Make up your mind! Negative one-and-a-half stars.
  • Inside Out (2015): I love movies that posit weird theories of consciousness, and this one kinda mashes up Multiple Drafts with traditional theater-of-the-mind. Great stuff. It's a kids movie that's more mature than most movies for adults: not only is there no villain, the protagonists are also the antagonists. You could sit around and analyze the world of this movie for hours (I've done it; it's fun), but then there's this bit of IMDB trivia, which undermines most of the speculation you might do:
    When asked about the genders of the emotions, Pete Docter said, "It was intuitive. It felt to me like Anger's very masculine, I don't know why... with Mom and Dad, we skewed them all male and all female for a quick read, because you have to understand where we are, which is a little phony but hopefully people don't mind!"

    I try hard not to mind, I know this stuff is difficult, but if you're making decisions you consider phony for the sake of a quick read, I don't think you're creating something that can accommodate a nerd's analysis.

  • Magic Mike XXL (2015): The bros started out a little bro-y for my tastes but over time their characters got more defined and it turned into a decent road trip/small business movie. I wouldn't watch it on the big screen unless you've got a taste for beefcake.

    I don't really have more to say about the movie but I would like to critique some of the striptease routines. Near the beginning of the movie they're planning all these cheesy soldier/fireman routines, and thankfully they move in a different direction but that makes me think the first Magic Mike must be unbearable, with Matthew McConaughey MCing these guys in Village People outfits. I liked the routines that had an improv element, like Donald Glover's rap or the Kevin Nash painting routine.

    Oh, also, Kevin Nash looks so much like Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler (2008) that for the whole movie I thought it was Mickey Rourke, that he'd beefed up for The Wrestler and really liked being that buff and that's his look now. But I guess it's just a common look. I'm not great at this movie-watching stuff.

  • Invention For Destruction (1958): a.k.a. "The Fabulous World of Jules Verne", a.k.a. "Vynález zkázy". An utterly Gilliam-tastic film, both in the animation style (a direct inspiration for Gilliam's Monty Python stuff) and in the single overarching aesthetic which requires that every piece of every elaborate set be custom built. Here's Pauline Kael from 1991:
    Zeman employs almost every conceivable trick, combining live action, animation, puppets, and painted sets that are a triumph of sophisticated primitivism. The variety of tricks and superimpositions seems infinite; as soon as you have one effect figured out another image comes on to baffle you.

    It's so fun to watch. The plot is terrible, but I don't care. It was a decent plot when Jules Verne came up with it in 1898. Recommended. I feel like this incredible movie is gonna get lost in this huge list because I don't have much to say about this except "it looks really cool", but it looks really cool.

  • Wagon Master (1950): It's rare to see cinematic depictions of Mormons, and although the Mormons in Wagon Master are mostly played like generic movie puritans, there are two big exceptions. First, Ward Bond, who is extraordinarily likable as the tough, self-deprecating Elder Wiggs. Second, the dances. Generic movie puritans would frown at dancing (and everything else), but these Saints have serious happy feet. Still not a lot of Mormon-specific content, but a fun comedic western.

    I have one major complaint: as the tension ratchets up in the third act, our two Gentile protagonists plot together to form a genius plan, but the "plan" is the same as in every other western: get the drop on the bad guys and shoot 'em. Doing a full planning scene for that just got my hopes up.

  • The Third Man (1949): I believe viewer enjoyment of this movie is highly dominated by not knowing its twist. Unfortunately, even if you don't know the twist going in it's pretty easy to figure it out, and even telling you why this is the case is enough to trigger figuring-it-out, so it's a tricky situation but rather than bemoan "the culture of spoilers" I posit that The Third Man is a fragile movie. Any other movie on this month's list you could have told me how it ends and I'd have enjoyed it just as much (or as little). But you live by the twist, you die by the twist.

    It's not ruined if you know the twist. This is a classic that people watch over and over, and I had a good time even though I went in knowing the twist. The movie looks great. But despite my general pro-spoiler stance I'm not comfortable talking about my major problem with this movie, or even minor stuff like the pacing, because I'm held hostage by this damn twist. I guess that it's own kind of accomplishment.

  • The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962): Not really fair to call this a 'deconstruction' of the western, but it's definitely John Ford being tired of making these movies and reevaluating exactly what message he's been sending for the past twenty years. In doing so he creates a much more complex story than usual and goes to some uncomfortable places. Great stuff.

    Just when you think you can finally get through an old movie without seeing John Carradine, guess who shows up? No, guess again. John Carradine, you fool! He was the Christopher Lee of his day, or maybe the Nicolas Cage.

    Amazing trivia! Woody Strode, the Dr. Phlox-esque coroner on Psych, is named after the actor who played Pompey in this movie. He was in some other Ford films as well as Spartacus. It's just about the weirdest character naming tribute possible, but there it is.

  • The Fifth Element (1997): I was really down on this movie after seeing it because the sci-fi aspects, although beautiful, are entirely superficial. It's cool to see everyday life in the equivalent of the Federation, something that Star Trek never shows you, but it turns out it's very similar to everyday life in 1997 New York. A couple search-and-replace operations on the screenplay, and this whole movie takes place in 1997.

    But then Sumana (who saw The Fifth Element a long time ago), pointed out that Luc Bresson directs action movies, not science fiction. If you're going to direct a by-the-numbers action movie, why not throw in an ancient prophecy and some really cool eyeball kicks and make it sci-fi? Otherwise no one will remember your generic action movie fifteen years later. Your only other hope is to write Laim Neeson's "special set of skills" monologue from Taken (2008)—Bresson also did that movie, so he's playing all the angles.

  • Court (2014): The most realistic Indian movie I've ever seen. There are musical numbers, but they're all where you would expect to find musical numbers in real life. I didn't mind the slow pace, but it's not as funny as I'd been led to believe. I don't think it's funny at all unless you're unfamiliar with Indian culture and you turn the culture shock into nervous laughter.

    Sumana did not see the movie, and I don't think she'd like it, but I narrated it to her afterwards and she made two really good points. First, this is a movie like To Kill A Mockingbird (1962) or Gentleman's Agreement (1935) whose goal is to get the audience to sympathize with an oppressed group, but the protagonist is not from that group. He's an outsider, a lawyer or journalist, played by Gregory Peck.

    Second, Sumana explained the ending, which I found totally mysterious. The judge goes on his summer vacation and you see that even outside the courtroom he's passing judgement on people based on ridiculous, outdated precedents. That's who he is. Makes sense.

  • Upstream (1927): Upstream Color? More like Upstream Black And White, amirite? This recently rediscovered John Ford film is full of light silliness. It's also got Sammy Cohen, a vaudeville-style actor who would have a lot of stereotypical "Jewish buddy" roles, including Ike Ginsberg, one of the cougar-hunting frat boys in The Cradle Snatchers (1928, previously on Film Roundup). In this film he's in his element as half of vaudeville duo Callahan and Callahan. That's the kind of movie we're talking about.

    But the title's off. Upstream sounds kind of ominous. Like, well, Upstream Color. Our talented accompanists did what they could, composing a theme song for the movie that tries to make it make sense:

    Broadway life is feast or famine
    But if you're like the little salmon
    You'll keep on swimmin' up-streeeeeam!

    But here's the scoop, from the National Film Preservation Society:

    The reason for the film being titled Upstream is no clearer after viewing it... According to Charles G. Clarke the film was known during production as The Public Idol: "The change in title was the result of a curious system that then prevailed. In those days, a film company sold a program of features to the theater owners for a year ahead…. In this case, a film called Upstream was scheduled to be made starring Dolores Del Rio, but for some reason it was not put into production. To make up for the deficiency, the Fox Film Company simply changed the name of The Public Idol to Upstream."

    May curious systems always prevail.

  • Ant-Man (2015): There was a lot of Edgar Wright in this, but not nearly enough. The thorax of this movie was a generic superhero movie, and it ain't no accident that this is the first superhero movie to show up in Film Roundup. I don't like 'em and I don't watch 'em. I do like the stories of ordinary losers on the periphery of a superpowered universe (the head of this movie), and I like ridiculous parodies of superhero movies (the abdomen). That's why I saw Ant-Man, and it delivered, just not all the way through.

    I should make it clear that there are a ton of CGI ants in this movie, it's not just a metaphor for a guy being really small, so if ants squick you out, give it a pass. I didn't mind. It did make me wonder if doing mo-cap on ants counts as "animal action" for purposes of ASCPA monitoring.

    No idea what was going on in the after-credits scene. Also not really clear on the difference between SHIELD and HYDRA. I was totally on board with Hank Pym's refusal to give shrinking technology to the military-industrial complex. Right on, fight the power, Tony Stark is a fascist. No need to explain anything more. But all the MCU movies have to share a common ideology, so Ant-Man then took pains to explain that the villain was working with HYDRA (bad), not SHIELD (good). It's well established that I won't do the homework to sort this stuff out, so it doesn't matter.

    Bonus: Here are the three superhero movies I would love to see:

    1. Ambush Bug
    2. She-Hulk (probably better as a Netflix series)
    3. Squirrel Girl

    You'd think I'd be excited for the forthcoming Deadpool movie, but Deadpool is too gory for me. I might see it anyway though.

  • Baahubali: The Beginning (2015): The best thing about Times Square is that the big movie theaters on 42nd are always showing an Indian movie and a Chinese movie. It's a good way to see foreign blockbusters. Baahubali is very much in the spirit of the East Asian martial arts movies we've been seeing, but it's Indian, so a) everything has to be bigger and b) the martial art in question is "enormous set-piece infantry battles".

    It's got everything I've come to expect from a martial arts movie, good and bad: non-stop action, semi-historical setting, political corruption, bandits, badass women, men creeping on those women, the CGI deaths of adorable megafauna. All that's missing is the burnt village (there was one implicitly, but at least we don't have to see it), and the priest who kicks ass for Lord Shiva. The priests in this movie are kind of craven. It's also got all the good and bad you'd expect from a Lord of the Rings type movie: magic, monarchy, quests, sword duels, horse stunts, a conlang, and a climactic battle against the dark-skinned Other. Plus the costume-change-heavy musical numbers you'd expect (blah) from an Indian movie other than Court.

    It's a huge movie, three hours long. You watch a ninety-minute action movie, then you watch its prequel in a flashback (with some actors playing different roles and some playing 25-years-younger versions of the same roles--very confusing), and then it turns out it's the first part of a two-parter. Stuff that would be CGI in an American movie, they did it for real and filmed it. (A good decision--the CGI isn't great.)

    I don't know if this movie is "good" in any highbrow sense—the plot is a pastiche of myth that gave me the overall impression of watching a big-budget Book of Mormon adaptation—but it's really fun to watch. American studios make this kind of movie all the time and they've got it down to a science. It's safe. I stayed interested in Baahubali because it didn't feel safe. There were a lot of plot twists, all from the same general mythic space, but they kept sticking 'em in and I didn't know which one they would choose next, not like with Ant-Man. Everything was so much bigger than other Indian movies I've seen, I felt at any time the director might lose control, but they pulled it off.

    PS: Instead of the boring MPAA "This trailer has been approved for all audiences" green-screen, sometimes a trailer for an Indian movie will show you a picture of the trailer's censorship certificate. Classy!

  • The Brink's Job (1978): Just after finishing the first run of Columbo, Peter Falk answers the question that was on everyone's mind: what if instead of a cop who entraps rich murderers, Columbo was a con who robs rich private security companies? I had to rearrange my whole day to catch this movie at Film Forum, but it was worth it. (It's on DVD, but the DVD costs $20. What is this, 2003?) It's a tense heist film full of slapstick that showcases Falk's ability to do comedy and drama at the same time. And his character is totally Columbo, whether he's baiting his adversaries into underestimating him, wearing shabby clothes he doesn't need to wear, or just doting on his wife. Features a solid supporting cast consisting entirely of "that guy", including Dick Van Dyke Show producer Sheldon Leonard as J. Edgar Hoover. Also features a brief Kevin Smith-esque comic book conversation.

In honor of seeing The Third Man and The Fifth Element in the same month I'd like to announce the Criterion Collection Film Festival. I call it that because I've collected movies that meet a certain criterion. I don't anticipate any trouble. Anyway, here's the lineup!

  1. The First Time (2012)
  2. The Second Face (1950)
  3. The Third Man (1949)
  4. The Forth Kind (2009)
  5. The Fifth Element (1997)
  6. The Sixth Sense (1999) <- Bruce Willis double feature!
  7. The Seventh Seal (1957)
  8. The Eighth Day (1996)
  9. The Ninth Configuration (1980)

Hope to see you there!

2015 October

2 entries this month.

Categories Random XML
Cogito, Ergo Sumana
Sumana oscillates between focus and opportunity

(0) : Preserving Your Old Art Or Activist Videotapes: These notes on a panel about digital preservation of fanvids spurred me to note down some links in a comment, and I figured it was worth publicizing further here.

I myself put vids on Critical Commons and have started also putting them on the Internet Archive. The Internet Archive is also willing to digitize and post VHS tapes (witness the John Morearty archive), but you may want to take a preservationist approach and pay someone like Bay Area Video Collective to digitize the tape more carefully and in higher fidelity, if it's particularly historic or visually artistic. In my experience that kind of preservation service might cost about USD$135 for a 60-minute VHS tape. BAVC and similar nonprofits often have grants to help with this, e.g., the Preservation Access Program.

You can find vendors for $20/tape but those vendors basically do parallel digitization, with lots of consoles going at once, so there's more risk that a problem will happen with any one tape.

The California Preservation Project's CAVPP (California Audiovisual Preservation Project), which also has a grant to make archival-quality digitizations of historic media, has put together a useful guide to identifying and taking care of various kinds of cassettes, DVDs, etc. Page 9 (Environmental Conditions) has more details on the best temperature and relative humidity for storing these things. Here's a version one can print out. And here are some more resources, including webinars, for people getting into video preservation. I went to a CAVPP workshop this summer, which is how I know their particular resources.

If you or your organization have activist or artistic videorecordings on analog media, now is a really good time to start planning to get those into a digital medium. Magnetic and other media deteriorate, and the clock is ticking.

(2) : Penumbra, Apotheosis, Friable: I had a pretty full weekend here in Queens.

Saturday morning I went to an information session in Flushing about a business plan competition in Queens. About 170 new or small businesses enter each year for a chance at one of three $10,000 grants (the three categories: Food, Innovation, and Community). I also learned more about the Entrepreneurial Assistance Program, a 10-week, $500 night course. I am thinking seriously about doing this; my MS in Technology Management focused much more on big corporate tech than on solo entrepreneurship, and it's been several years since that coursework anyway.

MergeSort logoThen I went to Maker Faire to help staff the table for MergeSort, the new New York City feminist hackerspace. A year or two ago I entertained the idea of cofounding a feminist community workshop in Astoria and decided I did not want to try without several dedicated cofounders. Then, a few months ago, I happened to meet Anne DeCusatis on the subway (she noticed my laptop stickers) and found out that she and Katherine Daniels are founding MergeSort! Right now it's a monthly meetup in Brooklyn.

I brought my zines "Cat, Dog, and Badger Each Own A Bookstore. They Are Friends." and "Quill & Scroll" and taught passers-by how to turn the letter-sized sheet of paper into an eight-page booklet with one slit and a bit of folding, just as Liz Henry taught me at that Double Union workshop where I started "Cat, Dog, and Badger." (Brendan, there are now like 150 more people who have received copies of your gorgeous illustrations of a hedgehog running an all-night bookstore.) I saw a few people I knew, and met Jenn Schiffer!

the three words I defined in oral rounds Saturday night I attended a vocabulary bee sponsored by my local bookshop. During the first round, in which we had twenty minutes to define fifteen words, I discovered I did not know the meanings of "flocculent", "phthisis", and "dipsomaniac" -- and I was slightly off regarding "trenchant" (which means "forceful" rather than "perceptive"). The MC encouraged us to write in jokes in addition to or instead of accurate answers, as the judges also appreciated and awarded points for style and hilarity. So I defined dipsomania as an obsession with the singing the "dip da dip da dip" scat from "Blue Moon", and I japed that "flocculent" is a service that lets Catholic priests monitor their congregations on Twitter during the 40 days of Lent. I made it into the oral rounds, during which I successfully defined "penumbra", "apotheosis", and "friable," each time adding a little something -- about constitutional law, about the first becoming the last, about how we, too, will crumble into ashes and dust.

my winnings - a book, a t-shirt, and gift certificates to Astoria Coffee and Astoria BookshopI won first place.

Yesterday: back to Maker Faire for more tabling. A Philadelphia visitor in an International Workers of the World shirt recognized me because of my Dreamwidth pin, but declined to sing a labor song with me. (I have been working on "Banks of Marble," personally.) It feels possible at this point that the majority of the sentences Anne has heard me say are: "Hi there, we're starting a feminist makerspace here in New York City." (A little misleading, since I am not one of the founders, but hey, clarity over precision for a carnival barker's patter.) I can stay on message and repeat talking points for many hours, and was glad to deploy these skills in the service of a good cause, while also giving away silly zines about animals who own bookstores.

I grew much better at teaching people how to cut and fold the zine; sometimes, when I said to an adult or a child towards the end of the process, "Do you see how it wants to become a book?" I saw the joy of discovery and mastery in their face. "It's yours to keep," I said, and maybe they'll unfold and refold it, to understand. I think some of those people, kids and adults both, have started thinking about what zine they might make. Maybe some kid got some paper and pen on the drive home to Long Island or Connecticut or Jersey, and sat in the back seat drawing, making and numbering eight cells on a sheet of notebook paper or the back of an old math worksheet. Maybe a couple of women, on the long subway ride back to Brooklyn, used the back of a flyer to start drafting -- maybe I'll see them at a MergeSort meetup one of these days.

We ran out of zines, and of business cards, and of eighth-of-a-sheet slips Anne had printed Saturday night, and of hastily-handwritten DIY cards cut from notebook paper and the back of a mis-cut "Quill & Scroll".

I got home to a Leonard-cooked dinner, some Internet time, and a few episodes of The Legend of Korra, then the lunar eclipse, then sleep.

: An Anger Playlist: Since a Twitter acquaintance asked for some angry songs, I present my "Angry" playlist:

  1. "Get Around" by Leonard Richardson
  2. "Sucker Punch" by Jonathan Coulton
  3. 8-bit-style cover of Weezer's "Why Bother?" by I Fight Dragons
  4. "Erase Me" by Ben Folds Five
  5. "Have You Forgotten the Bomb" by Barcelona
  6. "Everything to Everyone" by Everclear
  7. "One Hit Wonder" by Everclear
  8. "Now That It's Over" by Everclear
  9. "What You Call Love" by Guster
  10. "Either Way" by Guster
  11. "Going to Maine" by The Mountain Goats
  12. "First Few Desperate Hours" by The Mountain Goats
  13. "Southwood Plantation Road" by The Mountain Goats
  14. "No Children" by The Mountain Goats
  15. "This Year" by The Mountain Goats
  16. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana
  17. "Spiderwebs" by No Doubt
  18. "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime" as covered by Joe Glazer
  19. "The Same Merry-Go-Round" as covered by Oscar Brand
  20. "Still Alive" by Jonathan Coulton feat. Sara Quin

You may also be interested in my "Perseverance!" playlist.

: On Paint, Spock, And Anonymity: For years I have wondered why the Spanish instructions on reporting unsafe building sites used "No tiene que dar su nombre" instead of the Spanish adverb for "anonymously". While researching this question so I could ask it properly on Ask MetaFilter, I started looking through New York City legislative history around the recent permutations of the required signage. And that's how I came across this transcript of the minutes of the New York City Council's Committee on Housing and Buildings from April 30, 2013.

Only a bit of this meeting concerned the proposed changes to Building Codes Section 3301.9, but I enjoyed this moment:

Then why the color scheme. Why are we moving from blue to hunter green or green to hunter blue or whatever the-I mean why are we worried about a color scheme?

COMMISSIONER LIMANDRI: Well, currently today I do think that what we’re looking for is consistency. There have been conversations that blue is an interesting choice and so is green. What we are looking for is a color that is you know what maybe psychologists think are soothing colors. And so we chose green.


CHAIRPERSON DILAN: That’s better than hearing that somebody owns a lot of stock in hunter green paint.

Then the committee heard testimony on a proposed law affecting the sales of cooperative apartments, to reduce illegal discrimination against applicants by co-op boards. In discussing how to affect the behavior of boards considering discriminating against buyers:

COUNCIL MEMBER FIDLER: You mentioned a TV show before. I'll mention another one. Do you watch Star Trek ever?

MR. GURION: The original one.


MR. GURION: Not like--

COUNCIL MEMBER FIDLER: Actually I am going to ask you a question about the original. I think we all agree that Mr. Spock is the smartest character of the show. In one episode he says to Captain Kirk. Every revolution is one man or woman with a vision. I think you heard testimony earlier when you were in the room when Ms. Ford stood up the right thing happened. And for you to say that 188 will have no effect. If you don't necessarily you know you may know the other four members of your coop board but you may not trust all four of them, if you are the only one in the room thinking the discriminatory thought you can't communicate it if Ms. Ford is in the room. And so if there is one person and it's the same thing as 26. If everyone in the room is going to sit there and figure out a really good reason that can't be challenged to say this is not discrimination? It's the same thing. It's the one honest person in the room theory. All right.

MR. GURION: It's not and in New York City unlike on Star Trek there is no Vulcan mind meld.

CHAIRPERSON DILAN: All right, guys.

I am pained to learn that the council member misremembered the speaker of his quotation; Kirk says it to mirror Spock (video). Regardless, I find it charming that Star Trek comes up at City Council committee meetings. And I love that Gurion's response totally makes sense as shorthand in this context; we don't have Vulcan mind melds, and so we cannot see into people's minds to know with certainty whether their actions had discriminatory intent; nor does anyone have telepathic shortcuts to get fellow board members to stop discriminating.

City Council minutes are so engrossing. I could read them for days.

: Software In Person: In February, while coworking at the Open Internet Tools Project, I got to talking with Gus Andrews about face-to-face tech events. Specifically, when distributed people who make software together have a chance to get together in person, how can we best use that time? Gus took a bunch of notes on my thoughts, and gave me a copy.

Starting with those, I've written a piece that Model View Culture has published today: "Software In Person".

Distributed software-making organizations (companies, open source projects, etc.) generally make time to get people together, face-to-face. I know; I've organized or run hackathons, sprints, summits, and all-hands meetings for open source projects and businesses (and if I never have to worry about someone else's hotel or visa again, it'll be too soon).

Engineers often assume we don't need to explicitly structure that time together, or default to holding an unconference. This refusal to reflect on users' needs (in this case, the participants in the event) is lazy management. Or event organizers fall back to creating conferences like the ones we usually see in tech, where elite men give hour-long lectures, and most participants don't have any opportunities to collaborate or assess their skills. Still a bad user experience, and a waste of your precious in-person time.

Why do you think you're spending hundreds of thousands of dollars holding hackathons, sprint weeks, and conferences? And how could you be using that time and money better?

Subsections include "Our defaults", "Investing for the long term", "Beyond 'hack a lot'", "Grow your people", and "Setting yourself up for success". Thanks to Gus and to Model View Culture for helping me make this happen!

Filed under:

(3) : The Eight Mile Road Between Republic City and Massachusetts Bay Colony: Leonard and I have started watching The Legend of Korra, which is fun. In one episode, a character says to the guy who's just arrived, "Oh, hi, 'Shady' Shin." And then proceeds to let Shady hire him for a pretty sketchy job.

Leonard said that, as a rule, he would not become business partners with someone who's commonly known as "Shady." I asked whether Eminem counted; Leonard replied that for Slim Shady, "Shady" is a surname, but in any case, Leonard would insist that some non-Shady collaborator be involved. And besides, he said, what might Eminem even want to hire Leonard to do?

I said: a Twitter tool. Specifically: sometimes people tweet bits of Eminem lyrics (without attributing the song or artist), or incorporate snatches of Eminem lyrics into the sentences of their tweets, and so we'd want to monitor the tweetstream to find those, and analyze whether those people are "influencers" (and whether it's likely they and their followers buy music or pirate it). And then, based on that data, Eminem could forecast trends in sales of his music, and hook that forecast up to his investments, to automatically change his strategy towards riskier or more conservative options, as appropriate.

Leonard had been nodding this whole time. I finished: And the name of the tool could be: Increase Mathers.

(Incidentally, in other Korra-rap relations, a big reason I got interested in The Legend of Korra was this fanvid set to "Mama Said Knock You Out" by LL Cool J.)

(Also, Eminem's clothing line of course ought to be "Cotton Mathers".)

Filed under:

: What I've Been Up To: ribbon and papercraft Over the last few weeks:

I bought a bike and started riding it. I spent a bunch of time with my blood family. I saw movies and read books, including a bunch of rereading. I worked on an article for an online magazine. I talked with other scifi/fantasy fans about the Hugo Awards and sf/f that takes Hinduism seriously. I got further behind on email. I added metadata to a few videos in the John Morearty archive. I caught up with friends on the phone and by letter. I tried to stay out of the heat. I did errands.

I recovered from a difficult summer. I'm glad it's getting to be autumn.

2015 October

1 entry this month.

Categories Random XML
Leonard and Sumana's personal notebook
Peer into Leonard and Sumana's mind

20 Minute Croissant Dough | Edd Kimber | The Boy Who Bakes: Genious? Champions! If it's in Botswana, we're gonna find it.

2013 June

0 entries this month.

Categories Random XML
John Chadwick's weblog

the 'Go-to': Everyone has a go-to phrase, something they say when they don't know what to say. For Mary Poppins, it was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, for example.

For Dalton, it's 'you're funny!'

He seriously says it to adults when they say something to him and he's not quite sure how to respond. It normally gets a laugh in response, so perhaps HE is the funny one....

[Comments] (2) a funny thing happened on the way to the playground: Kids these days:

Maggie: I got invited to Ronan's birthday! Susie/John: Who's Ronan? Maggie: A boy from school. Susie/John: Are you friends with Ronan? Maggie: No, but he invited me, I think, because I'm a good example at school and he wants to say thank you. (Editor's note: Doubtful this is true, but glad my daughter has a pure heart).

John: I'm going for a walk. Maggie, want to ride your scooter? Maggie: No, I'll just walk with you dad. John: But it's going to be a long walk. Are you sure? Maggie: Yes. If I ride my scooter, I can't talk to you about things.

Dalton: Dad, I'm tired of being the cutest. I do NOT want to be the cutest anymore. (Editor's Note: Sienna is now the cutest and Dalton is the happiest).

Legoland is a pain because Sienna can't go on anything. Unlike Disneyland, the king of all amusement parks. The kids fight in line about who gets to take their turn with me. I may not have been cool at school, but I'm officially the favorite dad in this house!

ring out wild bells: Last week I was fortunate enough to have a 5-day Thanksgiving holiday, which inevitably meant I worked 2 hours a day rather than 14. Nothing beats trying to review a Chinese tax provision with a belly full of tryptophan.

Then Sunday night I took a red eye to Florida. The hotel, weather, and ambiance were very nice, and I actually slept well on the flight. The bummer was going from 50 degree weather to 80 degree weather and back again apparently reduced my defenses and now I'm sick. And I got to work those fun 14 hours days in Florida to boot. But it sure looked nice outside.

The 3-hour time change is, of course, no friend of mine either. I'm beginning now to see the immense benefit India has by being all in one time zone, even if it means they are 30 minutes off the rest of the world.

With three kids, a spouse, a demanding job, and a plethora of hobbies, I find myself constantly chasing time. I pine for the days when I wanted time to move forward. I suppose I'll see those days again in my twilight years. Until then, I merely hold on.

the way we were: Recent life highlights include:

1. Maggie fasting for Grandpa (she is suddenly interested in fasting).

2. Watching the original Star Wars series with the kids.

3. Getting extremely irritated with my career.

4. Learning more about birds than I really care to, because Maggie is into birds.

5. Trying to identify all the seed pods on different trees in our neighborhood, again because Maggie is interested.

6. Having Dalton shanghai all my evening constitutionals with Sienna into play dates at the park in the dark (daddy I want to go on your walk quickly turns into playing at the park, because every direction we could possibly walk in, there is a park!)

7. The Primary Program. I'm glad it's over.

8. Halloween. Our neighborhood does it right! I've never seen such a concentration of homes totally into Halloween! And the best part is, being on the corner, no one comes to our house so we can all go out as a family (dressed as Wreck It Ralph. Plus an owl).

9. Enjoying a wide range of weather. Some days are sunny and 80 (in November) and some days are foggy and 65. Love them both!

10. Watching my kids grow. In particular, Sienna. She loves the stairs.

: It doesn't matter how many times we sing "Child's Prayer" in Primary, I still get teary eyed. Which is not good, since I'm the one playing the piano.

2014 March

0 entries this month.

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La Vie En Rose
Rachel Richardson's weblog

I really need to check my job at the door: ...of the bookstore. The other day in Foyles I had to physically restrain myself from re-organizing some Beast Quests that were in the wrong order. Tonight in Waterstones I found myself recommending The Sky is Everywhere to someone looking for a gift for a 15 year old. What can I say? 3 years in a bookstore and old habits die hard.

Overheard in Stoke Newington:
1:"The only good thing about David Cameron"
2&3 in unison: "There's nothing good about David Cameron."
1" his taste in music."

Whigs and Tories: I went to a "mustache and wig" party as a Lib Dem supporter, but no one got it.

2010 June

0 entries this month.

the road just rose up behind me
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My Seussical Life
My Seussical Life

Backward Thinking: When planning a Redbox return, I felt a fleeting anxiety that I had not hit "rewind" on my movie. That was a strange throw-back.

[Comments] (3) On that note. . .: I'm back to the blog and intend to update more steadily than in the last five years. Among other reasons, I stopped blogging because I was overwhelmed by how popular blogging had suddenly become. Does anyone else get overwhelmed by the thought of an internet audience beyond a handful of family members and close friends? I like to be a bit more off the radar, I guess. But I'm back.

Dear Mr. Fellowes:: Is this Masterpiece Theatre or soap opera disguised in period dress? Downton Abbey, how you frustrate me!

First Sweat of Spring: I did some impromptu weeding of the garden today. Actually, first I locked myself out of the house and then dug around in the dirt while I waited for the locksmith to arrive.

[Comments] (1) Ratings: "Do I make the best guacamole in the world, Mom?" Atticus asks.

"You definitely make fabulous guacamole." I assure.

"Well. . . I am for sure in the top three."

2012 March

0 entries this month.

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Frances Whitney's weblog

Obituary: Here is the link to Mom's obituary, printed in the Bakersfield Californian on Tuesday. The death date is wrong, it was actually May 5, 2006

2006 May

0 entries this month.

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No Day But Today
Jill Whitney's weblog

Funny things: I heard today...

"There are nice ones and naughty ones like 'Hey lets make Icecream sundaes tonight' is nice, while 'Hey babe, I'll bring the nuts and chocolate syrup if you bring the cherry' is naughty."

"Can you believe I'm seventy and still wearing a g-string?"

"I'm going to choke on my ice!" "Don't worry, it should melt before you expire."

[Comments] (2) Museum of Ancient Life: Yesterday we went to the Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving point. I don't care what your philosophy is on how or when or why dinosaurs etc, existed they are still cool to learn about. I hadn't been to the museum in years but it still was fascinating to walk around. Of course my favorite was t-Rex and the giant shark. I still remember years ago when all of my cousins were in town and we pretended to throw Lorna in the shark's mouth, I ducked from the caveman skeleton that was throwing a rock, and Frances posed with the archeologists because we were sure to be related!

[Comments] (14) Precepting: Newsflash... I get to precept this semester in the ER at Ogden Regional Hospital. I am so excited!!!

[Comments] (1) lazy: I have nothing much to report except that I am LAZY. I have always known this, but I realize that I really just pretty much do nothing most of the time. I guess it's becaus I have to be so efficent at work and school, that I can't do it at home. oh well.

Current Projects: -catching up on my scrapbook. Doing ok except I haven't started BB season and I just printed 200 new pics. Yes seriously at least 200. I have an addiction. -Finishing my recipe book. I am frusterated because I can't find my 34th ward RS cookbook and it has recipes I need. Otherwise it is looking awesome. -Cleaning my room. Not doing so well, let's be honest. -Laundry. Hate it, need to desperatly do it. and for the love it's FREE finally, why don't I just do it already!?! -petting the dogs and watching TV....very good at this.

Random thought: I went to the movies (finally saw Indiana Jones) and there was a poster that disturbed me... "No children under 6 allowed in rated-R movies after 6 p.m. Keep your child safe." ummm last time I checked children under 6 shouldn't go to rated-R movies period. Not to mention before 6 anyway...

New favorite quote: "All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another." -Anatole France

[Comments] (1) My new job: I love my new job a lot. It is a lot of fun actually. I am working as a nurse at the new Intermountain Medical (aka the Death Star or Mother ship), on the 12th floor. This building is SO tall, and the view is spectacular. I can't wait until I am a registered nurse and get to play with the IV's here, but I can do everything else as an LPN. Yay for the real rocks!!

2008 September

0 entries this month.

Random XML
Michelle Walch's weblog

[Comments] (3) School: So I am currently attending UVSC. I have had an ok experience and am ready to move on. Next semester I will be attending Blinn at Bryan, TX. I am very excited because I will be 2 hours away from my house instead of 22 hours!!! I am going to get a degree in early childhood education and am very pleased with my degree. I am currently reading a book that is called A Man's Search for Meaning written by Viktor E. Frankl. If you haven’t read this book, i suggest that you do! It has changed my way of looking at things. Take care Shell

[Comments] (1) School: So I am currently attending UVSC. I have had an ok experience and am ready to move on. Next semester I will be attending Blinn at Bryan, TX. I am very excited because I will be 2 hours away from my house instead of 22 hours!!! I am going to get a degree in early childhood education and am very pleased with my degree. I am currently ready a book that is called A Man's Search for Meaning written by Viktor E. Frankl. If you haven’t read this book, i suggest that you do! It has changed my way of looking at things. Take care Shell

2006 April

0 entries this month.

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Our Family Recipes
New experiments and old favorites

() Cookie Cookie Cookie!: I was going to go to the library after Maggie's nap, but she didn't take a nap, and also it is snowing and really blowy. So, instead I made Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies. Cookies! If you have been blessed with one of mom's family recipe boxes, this is in there.

1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons flour
1 cup quick cooking oatmeal
2 T unsweetened cocoa
3/4 t. baking soda
3/4 cup butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
16-ounce package chocolate chips
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped
Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl. Beat together sugars and butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture until well-blended. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts. Drop batter by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees. Let stand on sheets 3 minutes. Remove cookies to racks to cool.

Susie the Chef says: 16 ounces of chocolate chips is a ridiculous waste of money and chocolate chips. I put 1/4-1/3 that much. I also didn't put nuts. Even though the batter was pretty dry, I felt like the cookies had a lot of butter in them so I might use a few tablespoons less next time. Next time: yes, they were very yummy!

() Yummy in my Tummy: I've been trying out a lot of new crockpot recipes in an attempt to make feeding my family easier, faster, and yummier. Yesterday I put two chicken breasts and half a jar of spaghetti sauce (Ragu was only $1 at Smith's and I had a coupon - I haven't bought spaghetti sauce in years!) and let it cook on both settings for who-knows-how-long. I served it with whole wheat pasta and parmesan cheese and it was yummy. Probably the easiest meal I've ever made!

I also made an eclair cake at John's request. I made chocolate sauce from scratch because I only use it for eclair cake and I am out of money in my grocery budget this month. It was easy and super yummy. I couldn't find mom's recipe, so I 1/3-ed one I found online:

1/3 c. cocoa
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. sugar
Boil for 2-5 minutes.

PS: I uploaded some cute pictures of the bug to our picture blog - click on "Pictures" to the right. And read all my latest articles while you're at it!

() Taco Stack: I was a good wife and made dinner tonight. This isn't the recipe I kept the page for, but it was yummy!

1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1/2 package taco seasoning
12 corn tortillas
shredded cheese

Brown ground beef with onion in skillet; drain fat. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and taco seasoning. Place 1/4 c. meat in bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Place two tortillas side by side on meat mixture. Top each tortilla with some meat mixture and shredded cheese. Repeat until each stack contains 6 tortillas layered with meat and cheese. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Cut each stack into quarters. I served it with sour cream and green onions.

Also, Tasha inspired me to make babyfood so I bought a butternut squash, baked it, and pureed it in the blender with a bit of water. It is delicious! Maggie liked it too. I'm not sure it was any cheaper though. I will have to try some other recipes.

() Apple-Cheddar Soup: I made this earlier today and it is so yummy. I think I put too many potatoes, because it was kind of chunky.

1/2 c. finely chopped onion
1 T. butter
2 med. potatoes, diced
2 c. apple cider
1 t. fresh thyme
1/2 t. salt
dash cayenne pepper
1 med apple, peeled, coarsely chopped
1/2 c. milk
2 T. flour
4 oz (1 cup) shredded cheese
fresh apple slices

Cook onion in butter. Stir in potatoes, cider and seasonings. Boil. Simmer covered 15 minutes. Add apple. Simmer 5 minutes until potatoes are tender. combine milk and flour - stir into soup. Cook and stir until bubbly. Whisk in cheese until melted. Top serving dishes with apple slices and fresh ground pepper.

() Fondue for Two: Last night John and I celebrated our anniversary at The Melting Pot. Maggie got babysat by a couple in the ward with two little boys and had the best time.

We enjoyed our yummy fondue meal, but it was very expensive and now that we've done it I don't think we'll go back. We especially enjoyed the dessert fondue. The waiter told us how to make the cookie and/or graham cracker crumb covered marshmallows (just dip the marshmallows in water), so now we can just do that at home. We were thinking what a fun FHE activity that would be to do with young kids.

2008 February

0 entries this month.

Leonard's recipies XML
Susanna's recipes XML
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Susie's Leaning Tower of Chocolate
Susanna Chadwick's weblog

[No comments] Sienna Beeps: We went car shopping tonight while the older kids went to the movie night at school with our neighbors. Sienna enjoyed "driving" the vans we looked at. I laughed out loud when he hit the horn on a Toyota Sienna. Sienna-Beep beeping the Sienna.

[No comments] Sealed and Delivered: John signed us up for our ward sealing assignment at the temple. We had one of our Primary kids (now 12) babysit. It was at a weird time, so we didn't get to go to dinner, but we grabbed smoothies after. It was nice to do sealings because it's more low key than doing a session, and easier for pregnant people.

We went to do sealings when I was pregnant with Dalton. On my birthday, so three weeks before he was born. I had somehow forgotten to seal my grandparents and we decided to hurry and get it done before another baby made it even more difficult to get to the temple. I believe that is the time we also sealed my great-great-grandma Susanna, and her husband, John.

[No comments] Wednesdays: Sienna has started a little "preschool" co-op every Wednesday. My Wednesdays now look like this:

9:30 Sienna drop off
11:00 Dalton drop off
12:00 Sienna pick up
1:00 Maggie gets out
2:20 Dalton pick up

Plus every other week Maggie has Activity Days from 2:30-3:30.

Add in driving time, and there's very little else to do. It looks like I get an hour and a half alone with Dalton (minutes driving time...) but I've been having to schedule my OB visits during that time every other week (and soon every week). It also looks like I get an hour to myself every Wednesday. Minus driving time. I have to remind myself that I'm doing this for Sienna and not for the two and a half hours alone time, because Not. Also, every few weeks preschool is at our house and that's just silly.

2015 October

2 entries this month.

News You Can Bruise
La Vie En Rose
Frugal Foreigner
My Articles
My Recipes
Pictures & Crafts
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Ruse You Can Bruise
Guests take over Crummy while Leonard is away

[Comments] (1) () The Eagle Has Landed: We made it. I'm writing this now via some neighbor's wireless.

[Comments] (13) () The Right To Bear Fardels: During a recent summit The Poor Man made some nonsensical remark denying that there's any humor in C.S. Lewis or Shakespeare. One of those half-drunk "contrarian = sophisticated" bits of bollocks.

In refutation, I've found my favorite (so far) joke in the Bard: Act III, Scene 2 of Hamlet, the bit about Guildenstern, Hamlet, and the pipe. Gertrude has sent Tweedlecrantz and Guildendee to check on why Hamlet Jr. is acting so crazay. Our goth protagonist asks Guildenstern to try playing a recorder.

I know no touch of it, my lord.

It is as easy as lying. Govern these ventages with your fingers and thumbs, give it breath with your mouth, and it will discourse most eloquent music. Look you, these are the stops.

But these cannot I command to any utt'rance of harmony. I have not the skill.

Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me! You would play upon me; you would seem to know my stops; you would pluck out the heart of my mystery; you would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass; and there is much music, excellent voice, in this little organ, yet cannot you make it speak. 'Sblood, do you think I am easier to be play'd upon than a pipe? Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, you cannot play upon me.

In the four-hour Kenneth Branagh version this little rant is especially breathtaking.

() Geeks, Fire, and Dangerous Things: Seth and I were at Defcon in Las Vegas this weekend. Seth got our friend Praveen to bring Seth's giant Fresnel lens to the con when Praveen drove out on Saturday. The Fresnel lens is roughly 1 meter in diameter. On Sunday afternoon, as the con was winding down, we took the lens (wrapped in a black sheet for safety) out to a quiet back lot behind the convention hotel and, though the sky was overcast with a thin cloud layer so that we could not focus direct sunlight through the lens, we set some stuff on fire. Seth brought four pairs of welding goggles and two pairs of sunglasses for the group, plus safety gloves for whoever held the lens. It was about 102 degrees out, scorching hot even with the clouds, but before the heat drove me back indoors, I watched Seth and David Weekly burn a brown spot into the side of an aluminum can; turn a piece of wood to charcoal; set aflame and burn through a handful of dry grass; and light an onlooker's cigarette (placed on the ground, not in his mouth!). They also tried unsuccessfully to melt a penny and a quarter. I guess it's not as easy as I thought to burn through your money in Las Vegas.

[Comments] (1) () She's an ENIAC: From phone conversations today I gather that Leonard and Frances are visiting the American Computer Museum. In contrast, I'll be enjoying Will Franken's comedy shows tonight, whose most computer-related joke is probably his absurdist "voice command for file cabinet" bit. You can get a hint of that style in his "Show!" clip.

Note to local comics I saw in the back room of a pizza place last night: it is possible to do good spam and jokes. Please try harder.

() Mr. Joad's Wild Ride: Today Annalisa and I start our drive out west. On our first trip out, we lost a mirror in the middle of Nebraska at 80 mph, ran over a tumbleweed in Colorado, got our truck towed in LA because it was in 7th Heaven's shot, and almost rented Charles Manson's quaint Topanga getaway... here's hoping for a less exciting trip. Here's also hoping that I will be able to post while I'm on the road. California, here we come!

2005 August

0 entries this month.

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The Gum Tree
The Weblog of Joe and Louise Walch

Gregg Easterbrook: The Man Who Defused the ‘Population Bomb’ -

Gregg Easterbrook: The Man Who Defused the ‘Population Bomb’ -

Amazing story. I read about this back at BYU and still am amazed at this man's life and life's work. He wrote some interesting articles debunking neo-Malthusian histeria back in the 1970s and 80s. He's a real hero and an example of human selflessness that is rarely replicated. May he rest in peace.

Interesting quote:

Borlaug told me a decade ago that most Western environmentalists "have never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for 50 years, they'd be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists in wealthy nations were trying to deny them these things."

Epicurean Delights sans the Jail-time:

We tell our kids to "Just Say No" and yet we allow them to dump cup-fulls of this addictive white powder on their Cheerios.

Favorite quote:

Though difficult to estimate, sweet sensations evoked by sugar-sweetened foods and drinks are probably one of the most precocious, frequent and intense sensory pleasures of modern humans.

Have I been missing something?!?

Ideologyweek: News as Only We Wont to See.:

The mocking introduction “Let's try” of Newsweek’s “Our Mutual Joy” foreshadowed all one needed to know about the incredibly condescending treatment of religion by another ‘general interest’ magazine going through its death throes. In an attempt to shame (the true meaning of which, like ‘tolerance’ and ‘love’ has become unfashionably anachronistic) the vast majority of Americans who are Christian, The “living” Bible is deconstructed and vivisected to reveal the Christian’s folly. The article author asserts her moral authority in calling on Christians to strive toward ‘more just’ ideals over the ‘unserious’ drive towards “chaos, depravity, [and] indifference.”

Newsweek would have us believe that the homosexual activity practiced in days of yore condemned by Paul were nothing like the civilized and enlightened homosexual practices of today, and then insinuates that David and Jonathan were gay lovers. Perhaps things have changed; not the enlightenment of gay sex, but the corruption of true brotherly love that Paul commends to his followers.

The article then goes on to explain that the overarching theme of the Bible is acceptance, citing Jesus reaching out to the woman at the well. Nary a word about Jesus’s constant injunction to sin no more, or the real theme of the Bible which is to totally deny oneself in discipleship; not indulge in ‘needy’ relationships. The doctrine of the Bible is that because of the fall everybody has a predisposition to act contrary to our true nature of Justice and Holiness, but that we are to refuse such impulses; not embrace them.

Newsweek argues:

So the frustrating, semantic question remains: should gay people be married in the same, sacramental sense that straight people are? I would argue that they should. If we are all God's children, made in his likeness and image, then to deny access to any sacrament based on sexuality is exactly the same thing as denying it based on skin color—and no serious (or even semiserious) person would argue that.

Perhaps this last bit is what I find to be the most egregious error and beneath contempt. It blasphemously insinuates that God Himself just might be a homosexual and then equats the sexual impulse to skin color or gender. It is similar to the slave-trader’s assertion (to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson) that there are those who are born with saddles on their backs and others born with boots and spurs; except in this case, those born saddled are humanity and the booted master is the animal impulse. It totally rejects humanity’s agency and responsibility, and is totally antithetical to the Bible’s core message. A person who is born black cannot change that fact. A person who is born female or male will always have that identity etched on every cell of the person’s body regardless of the number of surgeries or hormone therapy. Sexuality, on the other hand, is a learned behavior which every civil society in history has regulated and restricted, and to ignore that basic fact of biology and history is not merely unserious, but dangerously stupid.

This shockingly arrogant treatment of the Bible by an author who probably has about as much knowledge of the Bible as an 18th century grammar student (or less) wends its way through blissfully ignorant aphorisms like:

Jesus does not want people to be lonely and sad,

and then quotes such luminaries like “Miss Manners” and “My friend the priest James Martin.” Of course, if one only wants to obstinately promote one’s own viewpoint, then there’s no need to include people who may not be one’s friends or even have the same opinions as oneself. This is evident in the article which never includes any divergent opinion or even the treats the reasoning behind Christian (or classical pagan for that matter) opposition to homosexual marriage as anything but a silly straw-man.

What is the true reason that the majority of people in over three dozen states have voted in free and fair elections to affirm marriage between a man and a woman? It’s not hatred of Gays, OR EVEN HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH GAYS. It is the fact (one that is lost on the post-modern left) that there are essential differences between men and women. Those differences are profound and reach the whole dynamic range of the human experience. Those differences are etched on every cell in the bodies of Men and Women. To paraphrase Sartre, there is no escape from gender differences between men and women. Men and women are intrinsically, essentially, and absolutely different. Society has an interest in guarding the procreation and sustainability of itself. In so doing, society has every right to ensure that the healthy and diverse influences of both male and female are included in the raising of children. Both genders play essential and important roles in the flourishing and procreation of humanity.

When looked at from this light, homosexual marriage advocates are actually arguing not for inclusion, but for exclusion since it is they who would gloss over the important gender differences that are essential for the raising of properly socialized human beings. Homosexual men simply cannot parent with ‘maternal flair’ no matter how hard they try or how many flower arrangement classes they attend. Furthermore, the homosexual relationship is, by definition, barren. It is wholly impossible for a new human being to be created except from genetic material from one man and one woman. It should be in society’s interest, if society is to persist, to ensure that there is pairing of the right kinds of people (male and female are the only possible option) sustain civilization.

This is why I found Newsweek’s chief editor, John Meacham’s comment so utterly oblivious to reality:

“Religious conservatives will say that the liberal media are once again seeking to impose their “agenda” on a God-fearing nation. Let the letters and e-mails come. History and demographics are on the side of those who favor inclusion over exclusion.”

Excuse me? History and demographics are on the side of those who favor inclusion over exclusion? Has the cavalier John Meacham (of whom I expect better as a historian) seen the fertility rates of San Francisco? Does he know anything about the demographics of the barren Blue Northeast vs. the Red Bible belt south? Quite the contrary to John Meacham’s facile dismissal of the (procreating) majority of Americans, it isn’t gay families who will see the explosion of influence and power in the world. He should look at the statistics: the most common name of babies born in Brussels: Mohammad, Toronto: Mohammad, Amsterdam: Mohammad, Paris: Mohammad, Sweden: Mohammad. What would America look like if it were Muslims instead of the dreaded Catholics controlling the Supreme Court? Does John Meacham really think that the world is demographically moving towards total acceptance of Gay Marriage? Perhaps he should check his statistics and hope it’s the Bible-thumpers or Mormons (who are the only ones approaching Muslims in fertility rates) whom demographics will favor.

And perhaps John Meacham should check on the demographics of Newsweek, which is nose-diving into oblivion.

“Sources say that the magazine is considering slashing up to 1.6 million copies from Newsweek’s current rate base of 2.6 million, which would put the magazine’s rate base at 1 million. Newsweek declined to comment.”

Resources: Natural Law and Homosexual Marriage

A Biblical Understanding of Marriage

National Review: Newsweek Comes out of the Closet

"That Wasn't Quite the Change We Envisioned":

Certainly Obama's recent appointments to his cabinet have been reassuring as I've outlined in my previous post, but some in the Left seem to be getting a little anxious. This story from Politico sheds some light on this subject.

Salient Quote, National Security:

Now Obama’s says that on his first day in office he will begin to “design a plan for a responsible drawdown,” as he told NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday. Obama has also filled his national security positions with supporters of the Iraq war: Sen. Hillary Clinton, who voted to authorize force in Iraq, as his secretary of state; and President George W. Bush’s defense secretary, Robert Gates, continuing in the same role

Salient Quote, Economic Policy:

It’s that liberal Democrats say they’re hard-pressed to find one of their own on Obama’s team so far – particularly on the economic side, where people like Tim Geithner and Lawrence Summers are hardly viewed as pro-labor.

Good, Labor bosses have driven many of American Manufacturing jobs into the ground and resulted in poorer quality products.

I'll continue to look skepticaly at Obama, but for a Democrat who ran as Obama did during the campaign; so far so good.

Write to Joe
Send mail to Louise
Joe and Louise's Picture Blog
Joseph D Walch's Facebook profileLouise Nicholson Walch's Facebook profile
2009 September

0 entries this month.

Categories Random XML
Spam As Folk Art
Weird and funny subject lines from spam we've received


() Spamusement's Ten-Year Anniversary: Ten years ago today, Steven Frank posted the first Spamusement comic, illustrating real subject lines from spam emails with "poorly drawn cartoons". Leonard and I loved it, and to celebrate, here are a few of my favorites. (Spamusement had an unfortunate strain of sitcom-level sexism and fatphobia but there were plenty of strips free from such annoyances.)

I want to especially mention She cant possibly be enjoying this! which Leonard and I treasure to this day every time we ask for a to-go box for leftovers, and this assortment that I suspect of being a "Cow Tools" homage.

Anyway, Steven Frank, thanks for a fun strip.

() They don't make nonsense like they used to: A single morsel of old-school link-free "what are they even trying to do here" spam slipped through my filter last week, like a Queneau assembly of our glory days here at SAFA. Enjoy, and reflect, for do we not, each of us, parallel existing roads?

From: Mars failing before completing their missions, with some failing before they even began. <>
Subject: Madagascar and take on fresh provisions before proceeding onward toward their targets further north.

David Smith, an analyst at research firm Gartner.
Many steps parallel existing roads, but others exist on their own and are classified as city streets.
Hudswell Clarke saddle tank Tubby at Blunsdon. He died in Monrovia in 1935.

() Male Gaze: Ashley Madison spam keeps telling me I am guaranteed to sleep with a married woman. I am a married woman. I sleep with myself every night, and as such, Ms. Madison has nothing to offer me -- or, conversely, perhaps I have been using the site all along unwittingly!

I find that the Ashley Madison spam specifically bothers me, not just because it implies that I am thought of as a promise-breaker, but because it implies a new vice that I'm not used to seeing in my spam. I'm used to spam insinuating that I am greedy, obese, and libidinous, but not specifically adulterous. And the heteronormative and aimed-at-men "sleep with a married woman" spam actually bothers me less than the more equal-opportunity subject lines that aim to include me. The former I can laugh off as male gaze; the latter thinks I am nudgable.


() Monster Breakout Day:
  • Hey alabaastley, 80% OFF. encountered Neologisms
    I really prefer mangled portmanteaus.
  • Be ready in the morning for my new Gold pick!
    I wish you wouldn't stay up all night playing Minecraft.
  • Augmentin is your canon aimed at any infection.
    No, sir!
  • Scare people with your tool today
    Join your village's angry mob.
  • Mr. kevandd, get super prices. death
    Those prices had better be pretty damn super.
  • Monster Breakout day starting off with Monster News.
    It was just a regular day in Monster Town.
  • Do not underestimate the value of free pills
    I'm going to guess... "zero".
  • This Company keeps climbing! You may want to read this!
    "Employee Guidelines for Parachute Allocation."
  • Feel like you're under a pile of bricks? We carry Xanax and Valium
    Also bricks.
  • This May Never Happen Again!
    Oh, I think it will.


() Mockworthy Recruiting Spam: I feel the urge to complain about a particular kind of spam yet feel a little uncouth doing so on my main blog. So then I remembered: Spam As Folk Art! Hi, three people who still follow this feed.

If you were a tech recruiter seeking a project manager or community wrangler, I could see how I would pop up on your radar. I'm not interested -- I'm happy at the Wikimedia Foundation -- but at least I would understand.

But recruiters who think that I must be an engineer, because I've worked on GNOME and I have a GitHub account, make me laugh.

Case 1:

Subject: Hello from redacted name of big tech company!
From: redacted name native to South Asia
Hi Sumanah,

I hope you're well. I came across your profile in Gnome Outreach program.

I hope you're well. My name is redacted and I am a recruiter here at redacted.

I am writing to introduce myself and was wondering if you would be open to confidentially exploring engineering or management opportunities with redacted.

In the event that you're happily employed, but know of any engineers of your quality who may be on the market, please don't hesitate to pass along my contact information....

First: I will notice if you misspell my name. (And you have nearly no excuse, person with name native to the exact same part of India as mine!) Second: I can think of approximately 500 engineers of my "quality" who are on the job market, because I am not an engineer. Within GNOME I worked on marketing, GNOME Journal, documentation, bug triage, and project management.

Case 2:

Subject: Web Application Engineer
From: redacted name of recruiting firm
<p>Hi Sumana,</p>

<p>Are you interested in a new job opportunity? We checked out some of your git repos and we found a job opportunity that fits your skills. Twitter in San Francisco is hiring web application engineers.</p> ....

Yes, the <p> and </p> tags were in the original. Someone wasn't counting on people who read email in plain text. And my GitHub repo has exactly one item of interest (my update to someone's README file), and within Wikimedia's git repositories I've tested the system by adding some comments to an example extension. If that means that a web application engineer role at Twitter "fits my skills" then I am a tuna fish sandwich.

Bonus case:

Speaking of "wait, plaintext?":

Well hello there, and welcome to the latest Ticket Alternative newsletter!

You've opted to receive the text version which is really boring. You can't see any of the pretty pictures we've added or be wowed by the colorful design.

So, click the link at the top of this email to view the online version and we promise to make you smile....

Thanks for reminding me to unsubscribe from the "newsletter" for a service I only signed up for to buy one measly theater or concert ticket, Ticket Alternative! (Oh, and of course, there was no link to the online newsletter in the plaintext email.)
Wednesday the Ninth of May
() Plaintive: Excerpt from comment spam today:
() I pity the spam target with a narrow monitor: But good question,; I wish I knew the answer.
2014 July

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MC Masala
Sumana Harihareswara's "MC Masala" newspaper columns, reposted
Drinking Problem: We always confused Plaza Lounge and Park Kafe. At least, Leonard did. Then again, he's the one who mixed up the J, K, and M streetcar lines in San Francisco when getting directions. Yes, they share the same terminal stops, but so do we, and that's no excuse for confusing me with Anderson Cooper. We all end in the ocean; we all start in the stream; we're all carried along by [email] Whoops -- this is the start of the column, not the end. [More]
Filed under: ,
Vitamin Talisman: "Let me tell you about raisins," the professor said, prompting chuckles and heckling in anticipation of a good line. [More]
2011 February

0 entries this month.

Cogito, Ergo Sumana
An explanation of this project
Categories Random XML
Sunny 9
Kristen Smith's weblog

[Comments] (5) On death and dying: Nothing prepared me for the day one of my kids asked me why do people die?, so naturally when Lily asked me that question I was dumbstruck. We decided to buy the new Pixar movie Up. It came highly recommended by many people including Louise, who is a very tough critic. She rarely thinks anything is "really good" so I thought it really must be good.

Aaron popped it in for the kids. I was puttering around, getting things done, and still haven't seen it. It wasn't until the next day while Gunnar was napping, and Lily was watching it as I was doing the dishes. When all the sudden I heard this sad little voice and teary eyed girl peeking over the arm of the sofa almost begging me mommy, I don't want you to die. Why did Ellie have to die? When will she be back? I want Ellie to come back. I don't want you to leave. Why do people have to die? Where do people go when they die? I felt ill prepared to answer all these abstract questions in a way a 5 yr old would understand. All I could do was hug her and cry on each other's shoulder. I know it was wrong, but I promised her I wouldn't die, at least anytime soon. She was so sad and I wanted to reassure her and make her feel better.

Death is such a difficult topic and I think it is every child's worst nightmare. We talked about heaven and the resurrection and eternal families and I think we both felt better. It made me remember life is short and fragile and as a result I have not yelled at my kids as much this past week. I used to ask my mom what would you do if I died? And she would always say I would spank your little bottom. Death is something I struggle with and definitely don't want a lesson on it anytime soon. So the moral of the story is if you watch Up with your kids you might have to explain the mysteries of the universe with your kids.

[Comments] (5) for your eyes only: So last week, I tried to write a health care post about my health care of all things. A couple hours after I had posted it, my brain reflected on it and I just about died inside to think I just shared with the world my IUD problems. I quickly got to a computer and deleted it and spent the rest of the night feeling sheepish and wondering if anyone had already read my open book life.

Today, I will give it a go again, yet this time about Gunnar and with much less TMI. Gunnar's health care. My poor little baby Gunnar. I adore this little boy. I could eat him for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and still snack on him throughout the day. Gunnar is and will always be my baby. This little guy went in for his "6 month" ophthalmologist appt. He was actually a few months overdue for a proper one since the past two were right before the move and right after the move and weren't proper appointments at all. We finally got the full blown appt out of the way and have been given two official diagnoses. First, our suspicions are correct. Gunnar has intermittent exotropia. Basically, one eye wanders when he is tired or not on his A game or zoned out. He can have surgery to correct it, but it really isn't too bad yet and the Dr and I both agreed that it is something to look into when he is older like 6 or 7 when "kids start making fun of his eyes in school" as the Dr put it, since his condition is very mild right now. Kids are so mean! And they probably will make fun of him, so when he is older and if it gets worse we will look into that, but for now he is ok. Just ignore his wandering eyes if you speak with him face to face and he zones out.

Secondly, his nearsightedness is now a raging -6.50 in both eyes. A whole 1.25 higher than last dilation. He's legally blind, but with his glasses he has near perfect vision, and it is very correctable with surgery if he chooses to get lasik when he is older. All in all, it is nothing serious. He is a happy, healthy boy. Sometimes, as his mother, I wished my body had been able to make his body more perfect, but there my vanity goes thinking I am responsible for creating my beautiful children. They are Heavenly Father's children and he is just letting me borrow them to discover tremendous happiness, and just a touch of torture.

But, there it is. Gunnar's health update. He is turning 3 in exactly 2 weeks so I better get onto making his well baby check up. Then we shall see how much this boy has g r o w n!

[Comments] (2) Burr, it's cold in here: This is all quite new to me, the wearing jackets in Oct and not really letting up. In TX the year Gunnar was born, I was so excited to not have to be my largest in the summer. It may have well been summer because as I recall, it did not get cool until the day I left the hospital with him. Geez, thanks!

Oh sure you might need a zip up in the morning, but by 2:00 you were sweating. I literally NEVER EVER wore jeans from the months of May-Oct. For 6 months I wore shorts every day. Even in April and Nov, the jeans were worn intermittently. But for those 6 months I didn't even look at jeans.

Yesterday, to make more room in my closet, and because I have a large Rubbermaid labeled jeans and sweaters that needed to be unpacked (and still one in the garage), I gathered all my shorts that I haven't worn a single time in a month, and all Aaron's shorts and exchanged places in the Rubbermaid with the jeans and sweaters.

It's not that it has been too bad here, gorgeous weather actually, but if I am not dressed properly my toes and hands will be frozen by 4:00 on. In SA I remember wearing flip flops year round. If it was too cold to wear them, that's ok because I knew by the afternoon I would be fine. It goes like this in the winter-mornings and evenings it is cool. Midday is warm. For a week or two we could have a cold front and then it is chilly, but then it goes away and for 3 weeks you are left with "perfect winter weather" picnic weather if you will. And the cycle continues.

Now maybe I am a tad cold because we haven't turned our heater on past 66 degrees. Perhaps. We are trying to save money, electricity is a lot more here, and all I have to do to get comfortable again is vacuum. (Why does that job make you sweat even in the winter? You are just pushing the thing around.) OR my new favorite thing is what Aaron calls my Back To The Future vest. It is AWE--wait for it--SOME. I have it in a couple colors, and it's perfect. It keeps you cozy at the same time freeing your arms to do household chores without feeling constricted like sweat shirts or jackets do. Plus, Old Navy is having 50% off all their outerwear. (Ok, online they are not quite 50%, they are more like 30% off and they have half the color selection so go to the actual store.) Go and get you one, and if you have an Old Navy card like me, you can get it for another 30% off that making it only $14. It's that awesome.

Now I am looking for some rain boots, because every week it rains cold rain here ALL DAY LONG from anywhere between a day to 5 days straight. My feetsies get cold walking around with wet socks and tennis shoes. So if anyone one knows of awesome rain boots for cheap (you know me, it's gotta be a good deal) please let me know.

[Comments] (1) Brisk: During my early morning run today, the sweat from my hands came out on top of my gloves and then turned frosty. I could tell because I was wearing black gloves and it looked like they had been flocked a little bit. Pretty weird--I've never had this happen before. Yeah, it was cold!

There were four in the bed and the little one said: I love lazy Saturday mornings. I awoke to Gunnar's noise and decided I wasn't ready to get up for the day and that I wanted to see if Gunnar was old enough to snuggle in the morning. Lily is at the age where she will lay down for a couple minutes but I didn't know if Gunnar "got it" yet. I went and got him and brought him in the bed. He knows what snuggling is because at night he always asks for me to snuggle just a minute so when I told him that he went for it.

It's seriously one of my favorite things to do is on a Saturday morning when no one has to be anywhere, just to lay in bed and snuggle and play and laugh with the kid(s). Gunnar is the most affectionate little guy. He leaned over to Aaron sleeping and kissed his cheek and said "I love you daddy". He then snuggled into me and said "I love you mommy, you're my big boy". He calls me that because I go between saying "You're my baby" or more lately "You're my big boy" so now he calls me his big boy too. He knows the difference between boys and girls which makes it that much funnier to hear him say it.

Gunnar leaned over and was pointing to my eyes and said "eww, what's that brown stuff?" I had a little smudged eye liner on from the night before that didn't wash off and he goes "that's disgusting." lol little noodge. Lily woke up finally and came in. Then I got to really snuggle-this girl knows how to spoon. It was the complete family, all four of us in the bed spending time together. It was a great way to start off the day.

2009 November

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