Tuesday, July 29

Vampire & Doctor

The tagline for this post should be something like: why I am going to see Twilight as soon as it hits theaters!

For those of you unfamiliar with the trilogy written by Stephanie Meyers, Twilight is the first in a series that follows a love story between a girl, Bella, and a vampire,Edward. I have already professed my unabashed love and admiration for Buffy many times, so it should come as no surprise that I made a mad dash for these books when I saw them in the library. I won't spoil any of the plot lines or interesting bits for those of you who want to read/watch..but I will note that the doctor, Dr. Cullen, in the story is one of the most interesting characters.

I think I find Dr. Cullen interesting because he is a vampire (with all the vampiric urges..blood lust etc), but he spends his days saving humans and resisting this innate urge to do harm. I'm not sure what the author wanted to show with this character, but this type of struggle somehow brings to mind pedophilia and other socially unacceptable sexual interests. Actually, knowing that Stephanie Meyers is Mormom, I'm sure she'd be horrified that I just compared one of her character to a pedophile, but for me there is a connection. Pedophilia harms others and some law enforcement and health professionals believe that it is not something that can be controlled or changed with medicine and or therapy. This has led to convicted pedophiles serving their jail sentences, and then being remanded to mental institutions/hospitals for the public good. While I am not advocating for a certain correctional approach, I think that Twilight is asking some big questions about the essentialness (is that a word!?) of human nature and our ability to control urges.

Dr. Cullen is a sympathetic character in the book..despite the fact that some part of him, no matter how suppressed, is attracted to human blood. I wonder if he would be so likable if he was interested in small children? By making him a monster somehow his perversions are interesting and he maintains his status as a hero of the book. I've already pre-ordered the fourth book, so I'm certainly not complaining, but definitely worth giving a little more thought!

Why am I attracted to flowery blogger templates?

I have changed my blogger template three or four times in the last few weeks. At first I used one of the standard ones offered by google, and then I began to branch out into the world of download-able templates and custom tweaking.

I have noticed a pattern in my template choices. I try to stay away from really dark colors, and I like graphic designs that incorporate a lot of swirls or intricate shapes. I also like flowers. Does this mean that I'm buying in to all the gendered ideas about femininity? Or do I just really like flowers? Is there any way to know?

In the grand scheme of things, I'm not sure it matters if I use flowers or swirly patterns in the background because I write this blog for fun. I noticed an article the other day though that said that although there are tons of women blogging, their blogs are often not taken as seriously as those written by men. I know that my blog is not really on the radar in terms of social commentary, but I wonder if my critiques are somehow blunted by the perceived expression of femininity.

Sunday, July 27

White Squall= :(

Well, the ship sunk. The captain's wife, Alice, died as did one of the crew members. I'm all for destruction, but that was sad. The movie did not follow the rules (the guy who had sex survived), and this was more about the teenage angst than the disaster.

I'm going back to B-movies for a while..

White Squall

Enough with the teenage angst..where is the shipwreck?? I have been watching this movie for an hour already and so far 0 ships have sunk.

If I wanted a teenage drama I would have rented The Outsiders. I rented White Squall because it sounded promising...kind of the Perfect Storm but withfamous actors when they were teenagers.
So far I am STILL waiting for the disaster part.

Tuesday, July 22

Thinking about the last few disaster movies..

I've been thinking about the last few disaster movies I've watched. I think I am turning into one of those people who can't 'turn off' their hot-button issues, even when engaging in totally mindless entertainment. One of my favorite professors from undergrad used to talk about this in the context of 24. She LOVED the show, but was infamous among her group of friends for yelling at the tv whenever something really sexist or rape-friendly happened (she works with a lot of sexual assault stuff on campus). I think she was half proud half exasperated by her own rape-o-meter.
I'm pretty sure I've developed a bs/sexism meter, and it's been beeping or something a lot lately! I know that I really like watching movies that are targeted towards male audiences. I know the male audience assumption is a whole other conversation, so I'll focus on what bothers me about the films themselves and not the advertising or perceived market.

Basically, I'm getting a little frustrated that the women in most of these movies are totally useless, or superfluous. There are of course exceptions, like the doctor in Deep Blue Sea, but she only escapes being useless/superfluous because she's also kind of crazy and definitely portrayed as a cold-hearted bitch (ie not feminine). Otherwise, the women just aren't usually that interesting in these movies.

Even in my all-time favorite shark chompfest, Jaws, the men completely and totally steal the show. It's up to the womenfolk to get eaten, seem hysterical (with good reason!), or simply act nervy. The horrible shark prop is male (Bruce) too!
I know that I usually make a list about all the things I've learned from the movies, and a lot of my snarkiness would go to waste without all the ridiculous things that happen..but I wish that I could direct a little more humor towards the portrayal of useless men!

Sunday, July 20

More on Stranded

Here are some valuable lessons learned while watching Stranded:

1) If you are shipwrecked on an island in the middle of nowhere, all of the members of your family will be able to swim. They will also be able to make it all the way from the ship to the island and will have enough basic construction knowledge to help build a shelter.

2) There will probably be dangerous animals such as wild boars and snakes. If you are bitten by a snake, it will be poisonous, but the really slow acting kind of venom. This will give you plenty of time to concoct a remedy using a hot knife and local fauna (all of which are in season and ripe at the needed moment).

3) No one in your family will fall ill (exception, see above animal injuries).

4) You will be able to build a BOAT, but will not make a vessel large enough to try to sail to another island.

5) The desert island you are stranded on will not actually be deserted, and your family will make friends with a kindly indigenous person but never consider learning his language or seeing if you can travel with him to his home for help. You would rather live alone on your island than live with 'savages.'

Stranded is just like Swiss Family Robinson..but not

I've been watching the made-for-TV movie Stranded and am a little confused. It was billed blockbuster as a re-imagining of Swiss Family Robinson but I think they've taken a few too many liberties! I don't actually mind that they've changed the nationalities of the characters, or changed some of their names/sexes but why does some of the action take place off the island?? Hellooo..this movie is called Stranded..not 1/2 the family is stranded and half is a on a merchant ship.
Also, you are not stranded on a desert island if there are other people, even if they are just 'savages' or whatever they want to call them. Savages are clearly people too and you are not alone if they are stopping by for some harmless trading. Also, the father is kind of a big jerk. He refuses to swear fealty to the English government and gets sentenced to serve 8 years on a penal colony. His family joins him on the ship and tada..they're shipwrecked. Then they see another ship in the distance and he dilly-dallies because he does not want to be saved by the Brits. He also yells at all of his kids a lot and roars "I am the Father. I will be obeyed." Blech.

Friday, July 18

<3 Jaws

I love Jaws, like Jaws 2 and appreciate Jaws 3 for its total ridiculousness. Jaws 4: the revenge does not exist in my world, mostly because I hate the first 10 minutes and the fact that they kill off one of Brody's sons. Small children are not supposed to die in disaster movies unless they are totally superfluous character or really annoying (the same theory applies to small yappy dogs). Jaws IV breaks the rules and is thus stricken from my list of good shark/disaster movies.

Anyway, AMC continued its reign of awesomeness (they created Mad Men) by showing Jaws and Jaws 2 back to back last night. Jaws is a far superior movie for a lot of reasons, but Jaws 2 is kind of a forgotten B-movie masterpiece. So, some things I love about Jaws 2:

1) Jaws 2 was not directed by Stephen Spielberg, but the average person is totally unaware of this fact. It was actually directed by some woman named Jeannot Szwarc, but you can sometimes trick people into thinking Jaws 2 is way better than it is by reminding them that SPIELBERG was attached to the first movie. This practically makes it Saving Ryan part II in their minds.

2) The movie lightly treads around the idea that the shark is on some type of revenge mission. This idea is totally ridiculous (at least, I hope it is..) and yet only the annoying fish lady disputes this idea. Then it's kind of dropped, but it seems pretty obvious since the first 2 people killed in the movie died at the site of the sunken Orca- i.e. the place shark #1 was blown to bits.

3) A lot of the people die in sets of 2. Could this be because it's Jaws 2? I will have to test this theory next time I watch Jaws, but I think this means the movie has a sense of humor. First the 2 divers get eaten, then the 2 women on the boat (well 1 in the boat, 1 out..and only 1 gets eaten). 2 teenagers are terrorized in their boat..and after that my theory starts to die a little because only 1 of the teenagers gets eaten and then a whole bunch of people die..but it was a good idea.

4) Sex, drugs and rock & roll = death. I love when movies play by the rules.

Thursday, July 17

I need to re-vamp my blockbuster Q ...

I like watching movies and try to get a nice mix of mindless fun (Lake Placid 2 is coming any day now) and films that have a little more substance. Unfortunately, Blockbuster refuses to work with my system. I request 2 good movies and 2 truly crappy ones and they send me the 2 good ones and tell me there is a really long wait for the other ones.

I blame my mother, but I have this thing about having a nice even mixture of movies that will fry my brain and those that will not (or at least not as quickly). When I was little she used to make us read 3 'good' books (newberry medal, etc) before we could pick a 'junky' book out from the library. Well, now this theory has extended to my renting preferences and blockbuster is messing with me. Luckily, AMC is my new favorite channel and they played Jaws and Jaws II back to back last night!!

Wednesday, July 16

Mad Men

Ben and I just finished watching Season 1 of Mad Men. Set in the early 1960's, the show is set in the fictional advertising agency Sterling Cooper. While Buffy will forever and always be my favorite television show (disaster junkie and feminism all in one place..just like my blog!), MM is one the best things I've watched this year, and maybe even ever. While I could rave about the show for ages, I can't help but also comment on the show from a feminist perspective.

From the first episode it is clear that the office of Sterling Cooper are filled with a hazy film of cigarette smoke, racism, and sexism. The show confronts all of these things head on, but sometimes the 'we're sending a message that this is bad' can be a little heavy handed. Honestly though, it's amazing to see how much leeway the creators have been given in showing the attitudes of white upper class men in the 1960s,because it's a far from flattering portrait. Yet, the main characters manage to convey interesting and important things about marriage, adultery, class, and women's health with boozy abandon.

Several of the main characters (Don Draper, Sterling, Pete Campbell) are married; yet they have dalliances with the secretaries, affairs with women they meet in bars and restaurants and a barely contained disdained for their coddled suburban wives. All three men also seem to genuinely feel love and affection for their partners, and the women they believe to be oblivious and satisfied with their lives of house cleaning and shopping are often working just as hard to maintain the illusion of happiness and calm. A few of the men at Sterling Cooper are unmarried, but only one, Sal, is visibly struggling with his homosexuality. In one episode he and a client send clear signals during a meeting, have dinner and then Sal flees the restaurant when the man makes an obvious advance. At the office he audibly oggles the other women, but it seems clear that he does so out of habit and to fit in at the homosocial environment.

One of my other favorite (ie interesting..not necessarily good favorite) parts of the show is the interactions between the secretaries and the ad execs. Joan, the head secretary is supposed to be the shining example of the modern 60s woman: she's carefree, she's sexually independent, and financially secure. Yet despite her seemingly careless affair with one of the partners, Joanie is a husband hunter and her financial security is partially dependent upon her ability to inveigle the men around her. She plays the 'game' like a pro-brazen, in control and sexually confident, yet she can't see beyond a narrow conception of femininity and her role in the office. Joan is on birth control, but she she probably allowed the doctor to make disparaging remarks about her morality and sexuality in order to obtain the pills (she sent Peggy to the same doctor and he made very gross comments).

Anyway..tapped out for now..but more on MM later!

Tuesday, July 15

Buffy is the best!

I didn't jump on the Buffy bandwagon until long after it was off the air. My best friend from home, Alice, happened to have all 7 seasons on DVD (her mommy loves Buffy!) and I started watching season 1 while home on break during college.

I haven't really been writing that much lately because I am gearing up for a big move half-way across the country, and Ben and I might be watching all of Mad Men in order as quickly as humanly possible. Anyway, I have been re-watching Buffy in order as a pick-me-up while I pack. So far I'm already through most of seasons 1-4 and will probably finish the entire show before I have to move! I had forgotten how much I love this show, and I think that Joss Whedon might be my hero.

Buffy might look like it's all about silly looking demons and vampires trying to bite people, but it's also about a little blonde girl who totally kicks butt. She may have super-human strength, but she also has to deal with navigating life in the real world where being a girl is hard and being weird makes it even harder. She's also complicated and often does the wrong thing--falls for the wrong type of guys, can be totally impetuous, is sometimes super shallow--but she seems like a real person in a strangely similar world. I think my everlasting love for Joss Whedon and Buffy was cemented when I found this quote:

Responding to why he wrote so many great roles for women (in Buffy):
"Why aren't you asking a hundred other guys why they don't write strong women characters? I believe that what I am doing should not be remarked upon, let alone honored, and there are other people doing it. But, seriously, this question is ridiculous..because equlity is not a concept. It's not something we should be striving for. It's a necessity."

See! Joss Whedon is my hero!

Favorite episodes (seasons 1-4 only) include:

1. Passion
2. The Wish
3. Graduation Day (1 & 2)
4. Hush

Friday, July 11

Poor Shia LeBeuf

I watched Transformers last night and was alternatively bored and appalled. The first few minutes were OK, despite the fact that one soldier repeatedly told another to stop speaking Spanish. I don't really understand why this interaction was in the least bit useful or necessary. The Latino soldier did not add anything to the plot by speaking Spanish and highlighting it made it seem more like a strange self-aware movie device (Look! Our soldiers are all different nationalities!), except that it just seemed racist.

As for the rest of the movie, it was just not a very good action movie. It had bag dialogue, and the actual fight scenes were too fast and too loud to really see anything. At some point I let the entire thing become background noise as I baked cupcakes. One of my co-workers was also correct in pointing out that the Animatron (is that right?) Jazz, was clearly the black robot. He spoke in Ebonics and he was the one robot that died..it was just painful to watch that whole tackiness in action.

Anyway, here are some things I learned:

1. Avoid disaster movies that involve some type of toy marketed strictly to young boys. Get what you deserve on that one (real men are brave and resourceful! gr! hot girls want to sit on our laps!)

2. Hot girls who know about cars are cllllleearly juvenile delinquents and/or the child of convicts. Only a crazy soon-to-be incarcerated person would teach their daughter all about cars.

3. If a large alien robot-like life form comes to our planet, they're going to be secretly impressed with the underlying goodness found in humanity. They will then want to hide in plain sight and become our protectors.

4. Said sentient being will also be excited to babysit teenagers, and will be happy to let them make-out while sitting on top of them.

5. The government is very sneaky and patriarchal, but will probably listen to you even after you've stolen gov't secrets (and not lock you up in Guantanamo Bay or another similar place) if you are a young, hot, accented blonde girl.

I'm now going to post a picture of the cupcakes I made. It was a much better use of my time:

Thursday, July 10

Wedding Ring Drama

Don't worry, I'm not engaged! But I did just finish reading both of Jessica Valenti's books (Full Frontal Feminism & He's a Stud, She's a Slut) and am feeling a little attacked. Again, I am not engaged or even considering an engagement in the near future, but I think I would be theoretically interested in one day getting a ring and having a traditional Jewish wedding.

I'm glad that Valenti spent some time talking about engagement rings and other marriage related issues in her books, but I was really put off by her attitude. I don't think I have ever thought critically about engagement rings, and I now realize that there is a strong connection between consumerism and patriarchy in the way we go about announcing and celebrating our partnerships. And while I do love things that sparkle, I don't think I would want a ring just because it flashes 'i'm taken and my MAN has lots of money.' That's not to say that I wouldn't want a ring, just that I would be cognizant of the fact that I'd be declaring that I'm in a heterosexual partnership and that my fiancee does have enough money for jewelry.

I also would hate to have the biggest shiniest ring possible for no reason; if I think about the type of ring I'd want I know that I would like something really unique. I want a ring that my partner had to spend time looking for and that actually says something about how well he knows me, and not something you pick out at Zales in an afternoon (I know I'm difficult!). I believe that jewelry is both a token of affection, and a memory keeper of sorts. Kind of like a yearbook without the tacky notes! When I think about my favorite pieces of jewelry, I can remember exactly who gave them to me and why. Wearing a ring is also a visible reminder of your partner, and not just because it says I'm straight/taken. It reminds of me of a reason that some traditional Jewish men wear a kippah on the heads or tzizit (fringes)-it's a constant visual reminder to both themselves and others that they have have a responsibility and a relationship with god. I don't want to bring god into the engagement or marriage issue per say, but I think there is definitely something to be said about showing others (and yourself) with a visible sign that you have somebody important in your life.

Anyway, the reason I'm ranting about all of this is that I felt like Jessica Valenti's attitude about marriage and rings was very my way or the highway. She spends several pages talking about how good feminists don't accept engagement rings or take their husbands names because it's all part of the PATRIARCHY (all caps definitely necessary.) That may be, but I thought the point of feminism was to empower women to make personal decisions using their own logic. Diamond rings and name changing are definitely part of the patriarchy, but so is watching shows that demean women and I definitely do that on occasion (ANTM..I can't seem to stop). Being aware of your motivations is a really important part of any decision, and I think it's A-OK to do something as long as you're doing it for your own reasons (mine: sparkly, visible reminder, unique expression of partnership, and did I say sparkly?) and still try to challenge the status quo. If I get engaged, I want a ring but maybe I'll make my partner wear something visible too!

Monday, July 7

Things I learned from Robinson Crusoe on Mars

1) Mars isn't really that hot, as long as you have a nice space suit with removable gloves. In fact, you just might need to make a fire using some handy crystals you've found in a cave and your previous (and limited) supply of oxygen. I get that you might need it at night.. but he ran all over the place during the Martian day without any gloves or cover!

2) Almost suffocating is gross. But you can breathe right from a metal tube of compressed air if you start to run short.

3) Clue: Mona the monkey goes off every day and never needs any water. Hmmmmmmm.. I wonder if Mona might know something. It's 40 minutes in, and I'm betting that Draper will figure it out by 50 minutes.

Update: I was off by 3 minutes. It's 46 minutes in and he's followed Mona (the monkey) down to an underground cavern (filled with more stupid looking crystals!) with water. On such a hot planet, wouldn't it at least be warm??

4) Remind me to have someone else survive the end of the world/crash onto Mars with me. Going bat-shit crazy due to isolation seems to be a pretty consistent point in these movies.

ps. NOOOOOO.. my movie skipped and I can't get it to play 5 minutes! Of course I am missing the most important part of the entire movie, because after I've skipped past the bad part there is another person on Mars! And he's wearing stupid clothing! Where did he come from???

Robinson Crusoe on Mars.. I kid you not

I think I have been straying too far from my real disaster movie base recently. I'm only a few minutes in and I can already tell that Robinson Crusoe on Mars is going to be fantabulous. It was made in 1969 and looks like it shares the original Lost in Space special effects, which are pretty much limited to a little cartoon ship flying through space and lots of really cheesy costumes.


Sunday, July 6

My plants are so cute!

I know I'm a big dork, but I'm really excited that my plants are doing so well (so far!). I am still waiting for my tomatoes to ripen, but I've already picked one of the peppers. The eggplant won't be ready for a while, but I'm also really happy that it seems to be doing well and growing. Here are some recent pictures of my patio garden:

Wednesday, July 2

Victoria's Secret= :(

I work in a very female friendly office, and by female friendly I mean all of the full and part time staffers are women. During lunch today we started talking about our bras and the trials and tribulations of trying to find underwear that fits correctly. Two of us are petite in terms of height, but definitely not waify-we both have generous curves and are rather well-endowed. Sadly for us (I guess?), Victoria's Secret is pretty much a waste of space. Despite being in what seems like every mall in the country, they rarely stock bras in the larger sizes and add extra padding to the few that you can find. Why would you want extra padding when it's already nearly impossible to find clothing that fits over your breasts?

Talking about bra shopping made me think about shopping in general, and of course I can't help but weigh in on the ongoing fashion model industry debate about skinny models. One thing that really bothers me is the attitude of designers. I think that designing clothing is an art form, but I do not understand why that art form has to embrace emaciation. Instead of claiming that a flat canvas in necessary to showcase their art, designers could be looking at the human body a facet of their medium instead of a hanger.

After the discussion we started joking about opening a store that catered to petite women with curves. Instead of being relegated to the petite racks in department stores (grandmother appropriate clothing) or to clothing meant for truly tiny people (excuse me for having hips), we would like to buy clothing that actually fits. It might put a few tailors out of business, but it be an exciting change. Please feel free to contact me if you'd like to finance our endeavor...!

Tuesday, July 1

Upcoming Movies!

I'm still waiting for Megalodon (see earlier post on my utter disbelief that there are other people actually waiting for this movie) but have a few doozies coming in the next few weeks:

1. Robinson Crusoe on Mars (don't ask..but I couldn't resist)
2. Stranded
3. White Squall
4. Aliens

I also have some non disaster related movies in my Q, but I will try and watch the fun ones first so that I can write all about them. I'm especially excited for Aliens!

Brussels Sprouts

I made one of my favorite recipes last night and ate it all for lunch today! Yum! Here is the recipe and a picture (Ben made the bowl):

1-1 lb bag of brussels sprouts
2-chicken apple sausages
2-pieces bacon (turkey works too)
2 capfuls maple syrup
1/4 cup gently crushed walnuts
1 apple

Fry bacon in pan until crisp. While it's cooking chop the bottoms off of the brussels sprouts (throw this part out..or compost!) and chop them all into small shreds. Take the bacon out of the pan and lay on a paper towel. You can clean the pan, or use the bacon grease to cook the shredded b sprouts. Cook them on LOW for 10-12 minutes. Do not let the shredded b sprouts burn or they will taste funny. While the b sprouts are cooking on low, microwave the chicken sausage for 2 minutes or grill until warm. Cut into slices and add to pan, along with the apple (which should already be cut into small pieces). Let all ingredients soften for another 5-10 minutes on low, pour syrup and nuts in and stir. Salt to taste and serve!

You can also make this recipe without the bacon. Use olive oil instead of bacon grease and follow the recipe.