Babypalooza: Last night we went to an infant and child emergency/cpr class given by Richard from Save a Little Life. It was excellent. Scary for sure but also very interesting and de-mystifying. Have questions about baby? Ask Dr. Sears. Dr. Sears and his wife have written many books on babies, and we've read (and bought cause they were so good) four so far: The Pregnancy Book, The Birth Book, The Baby Book, and Attatchment Parenting. The hardest question for me is this: How old do they have to be before you let them watch South Park?
posted by Greg 11:13 AM
The North Star (1943) - Good Good Good Good - This is a propaganda movie made during WWII to convince Americans that the Russians were good allies worth fighting for. Directed by Lewis Milestone, who also made All Quiet on the Western Front and A Walk in the Sun among others, it's a very interesting and gripping film, and unique in it's rosy view of communist Russia. The movie centers on a communal farm in the Ukraine near the Polish border called North Star, and begins in the summer of '41, just before the German invasion of Russia. It shows the communal life as utopian and idealistic, with the happy peasants smiling and joking, singing and dancing and looking forward to going to University and serving the motherland. (Apparently all the morose and misanthropic peasants had been killed in Stalin's purges and forced communalizations of the '30's.) Things change dramatically when the Germans invade, bringing death and destruction. The village men head for the hills to become gorilla fighters while the rest must burn their own homes to keep them from the Germans. They are only partially successful in this, and the Germans use North Star as a hospital town, cruelly killing children by using their blood for transfusions. There are side plots including Dana Andrews as a Russian Air Force bombadier who deliberately crashes his disabled plane into German tanks, and a group of teenagers who are tasked with bringing a load of guns to the gorillas after seeing their father gunned down by a stuka. This movie is especially interesting because of it's positive portrayal of "comrade" spouting russians happy on their communal farm. It was an expensive picture, staring Andrews, Walter Houston, Walter Benjamin, Ruth Gordon, and Eric Von Stronheim, but I'm sure it was put away and never shown throughout the cold war. In fact, as I learned in the post film discussion on History Channel International, in the '50's the communist parts were edited out and the film was re-released as "Armored Attack." It's fascinating to see it in it's original form. Even though you know the history is all wrong and it's pure propaganda, Milestone is a talented director who knows how to pull the heart strings and get you ready to kill nazis!
posted by Greg 1:17 PM
Go For Broke! (1951) - Good Good Good Good - This movie was a nice surprise. It tells the story of the Japanese-American 442nd division in World War II, following one squad through training, to Italy, France, and back to the United States. Van Johnson stars as a Lieutenant from Texas who is blatantly racist when he is first assigned to this squad, but who comes to respect them over the course of the movie. This movie is startlingly honest in it's portrayal of racism, and the dialog astonishingly real for a 1951 movie. It touches on all the hot issues like the troops' bitterness about the treatment of their families in the intenment camps and other stories of racism back home. Each character is well drawn and you find yourself rooting for them and sad for those who don't make it. Lots of great details make this film a winner. PS: Go for Broke is the 442nd's slogan.
posted by Greg 12:51 PM
I was a little behind on my movie reviews, but I'm all caught up now:
It Happened One Night (1934) - Good Good Good Good - This Capra film won oscars for best picture, actress, actor, director, and We watched this on 9/11 and it was the perfect antidote to the day's gloom. Clark Gable is a wise-cracking hard-drinking newsman who stumbles on the big story when he meets a rich debutante runaway on the bus. He follows her for the story, but ends up falling... Oh, just see it!
Blade II: Bloodhunt (2002) - Bad Bad - What's up with this steaming pantload? I remember liking the first Blade, but this one is just stupid, and the action scenes are unconvincing. I certainly don't need the action to be realistic, and I don't mind it stylized, but this one really misses the mark.
The Rookie (2002) - Good Good Good - This is a great feel-good Disney movie. Very uplifting and all that good stuff. It gets extra points for a couple of father/son relationship side plots.
Love Me Tender (1956) - Bad - This was Elvis' first movie, sort of a test to see if he could do it, and he does well. It's a western with a story that's a bit convoluted, and unfortunately you don't really care about the characters that much. Plus he only sings four songs (though watching him do is trademark hip-shaking moves in what's supposed to be 1860's Texas is pretty funny).
posted by Greg 12:48 PM
It's a tough day. Instead of reading my petty remembrances, go read Layne or Pierce or Lileks or Instantman or Little Green Footballs or Tim Blair. M and I talked about how last year when the alarm-clock went off, instead of the usual Sam and Dave or Beatles song (I wake to K-Earth oldies,) we heard someone serious talking about a plane hitting the World Trade Center. In that haze of half-sleep I reached over and turned it off, somehow thinking it wasn't a big deal. I remember thinking of a Piper hitting the building; sad but not a huge deal. It was only later on the way in to work I heard what really happened on the radio and frantically called home. M had heard from her sister and was already watching the TV. I came over the hill on Glendale Blvd. where you can see downtown and was relieved to find it intact. I searched the skies with aprehension for planes coming down. When I got out of work that day I went to the roof of the parking garage where you can usually see several planes lined up to land at LAX and confronted the sad and eerie site of empty skies. This morning work let us come in 2 hours late so that we could be with our families. Even though I didn't have to set my alarm, as soon as I woke up I turned on the radio, and much to my relief I heard Ray Charles singing America the Beautiful.
posted by Greg 1:53 PM
Tuesday, September 10, 2002
Here's a fascinating interview with research psychologist Steven Pinker. He's written a book called "The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature" about how new scientific discoveries about human nature are being fought by various groups, particularly postmodernists, totalitarians and marxists, and others who seek to re-shape human nature rather than build a society and government compatible with hard-wired (and unchangable) human nature. It touches on child rearing, politics, morality, and the arts, and on the whole I find it to be very encouraging. Here's some of what he has to say about the arts:
By their own admission, the humanities programs in universities, and institutions that promote new works of elite art, are in crisis. People are staying away in droves. I don't think it takes an Einstein to figure out why. By denying people's sense of visual beauty in painting and sculpture, melody in music, meter and rhyme in poetry, plot and narrative and character in fiction, the elite arts wrote off the vast majority of their audience—the people who approach art in part for pleasure and edification rather than social one-upmanship. Today there are movements in the arts to reintroduce beauty and narrative and melody and other basic human pleasures. And they are considered radical extremists!
It's very insightful and makes these ideas relatively easy to understand. I found this through the always interesting Arts and Letters Daily site.
posted by Greg 12:01 PM
Monday, September 09, 2002
Our co-ed baby shower was truly awesome, a great time with a swell bunch of folks. Everyone was extra nice and excited, and there was great food and lots of music which made for a perfect night. There's too many people to thank so I'll do that privately, but Kim must get special kudos for hosting. And here's a general thank you for everyone involved: Thank You Thank You Thank You Thank You Thank You Thank You Thank You Thank You Thank You!!!!!!!
By popular demand I'm posting the video of Ken and Matt's excellent epic, "Whatcha Namin' That Baby" here. It is a sweet and funny number that brought down the house and elicited some tears and lots o' smiles.
National Lampoon's Van Wilder (2002) - Good Good - This movie is the lightest of light entertainment, but it has a good heart and a fast pace which keeps the laughs coming. A few gross-out scenes are balanced by a nice "believe in yourself" message to make for a satisfying rental. And Booger is in it. Plus on the DVD you can see a video by Sugarcult, our old friend Marco (he was in Popsicko) from Santa Barbara's band who seem to be doing very well these days.
posted by Greg 10:17 AM
Al Qaeda’s Fantasy Ideology - Policy Review, No. 114 - Not exactly light reading, but well worth the effort. This is a novel and very insightful analysis of our current situation, using history, sociology, and psychology to see things in a new way and draw some interesting conclusions.
posted by Greg 10:00 AM
Thanks aplenty to everyone for coming out and supporting my art show. It was a lot of fun to share my work with people I love who came together to celebrate the art spirit. I personally feel extrememly gratified and thankful for having such a supportive group of friends and family. Knowing that there is an audience for your work is extremely important for any artist, and I feel very lucky that interesting people are interested in what I do. Here are some great pictures from the opening posted by Emmanuelle and a patented photo essay by Tony. Also see nice posts by Marc Brown, Ken Layne, Matt Welch, and Laura Crane. I'll post some pictures I took soon. Special thanks to Martin Brown winery for supplying their high quality vintages. Please support them during this current wine crisis.
posted by Greg 10:14 AM