Monday, February 25, 2008

Oscars and weather

Somehow, the Oscars were enjoyable to watch even though I didn't particularly care about any of the awards except that Marion Cotillard won best actress. Her teary, gibbrishy acceptance "speech" was, aside from Delice de Bourgogne, the highlight of the evening.

Daniel Day-Lewis' win also made me happy, though not as happy as if he had been as striking in reality as his character was in There Will Be Blood. I was equally disappointed to see Johnny Depp looking completely goofy -- his lack of excellent movies this year plus his Where's Waldo glasses and hair make me wonder what was so exciting about him a year or so ago.

Also, I think the high stance on Javier Bardem's jacket makes his already-large head look enormous. Not that the most attractive man at the event can't pull off a giant head.

Was at first very turned off by Tilda Swinton wearing apparently no make-up. Then I decided this plus simple hair and a garbage-sack dress were possibly a feminist statement against female objectification, and found it all quite appealing.

Am very happy to not need multiple layers, gloves, umbrella everywhere I go. Today I wore just a thin hoody over gym clothed to meet the 6:30 bus, and was not chilly at all! With pink blossoms outside my window, spring has appeared very suddenly after what seems like a long delay. May dig up floral print cardigan soon.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

political narrative

I'm watching the 60 Minutes interviews with Clinton and Obama, and while they're longer and more detailed than most Today Show and Daily Show blurbs, they still play out the same: He laughs politely at the presumptuous questions, a voice-over narrates his whisper-in-Springfield-to-a-movement campaign; She respectfully defends her experience and abilities against the sudden and increasing threat of new charisma and Hope, until finally a familiar defensiveness is established and it seems the reporter has become her opponent. Obama's interview is a conversation, while her's verges on interrogation.

And while Obama's interview focuses on his campaign, Clinton's focuses on ... his campaign.

Is it media bias, or is Clinton so thoroughly uncharming that she's incapable of carrying her own narrative? Does the president need a narrative, or is this personal fairytale we look for in Obama disconnected from the ability to be a strong leader? The only way I can account for G W Bush's appeal is his comfortably low-brow persona. Disregarding platform, is electing Obama on charisma, mixed-race heritage, and a big smile comparably ignorant to electing Bush based on down-to-earthiness, political heritage, and an easy laugh?

But it degrades Obama's true potential and ability to reduce him to a megawatt smile and hope, etc. In an era when everyone, everyone, is rallying for change, maybe the point is not to elect someone with the most popular opinions or the most skill, but a competent someone who is in essence clearly distinct from our last 20 years of Bushes and Clintons. Her sameness goes beyond her last name, and her gender is not enough to make her truly different.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Weekend: Part 2 -

Saturday evening, Brouwer's was crowded, so we met Nate + Melissa on the sidewalk and decided on Ballroom, across the street. We should have ran when clearly the music was loud for conversation, the plastic cups they brought with a pitcher were shipped and wet, and the menu offered only Costco frozen fried food.

Alas, we stayed. We stayed through the first pitcher, we stayed when the tube tops and sequins paraded through, and we stayed when the music became even louder remixes that made bad songs worse. Our waitress was impossible to find, and our second pitcher was impossible to finish. We left.

Sunday, I woke up late, organized my makeup drawer, and moved a laundry basket around the living room without actually folding the clothes. We went to breakfast at the Rusty Pelican around 2 -- strawberry and yogurt crepes, sans whipped creme and "tropical" sauce, were delicious, though the waiter was overly goofy and a grown woman made a face at Brian over the top of the booth.

Last time we went, we sat in the same booth, Brian talked about jobs, and I was a little distressed about his search. It's been about a month, and suddenly he's starting at Microsoft in less than a week. Excitement! Fanciness!! Crepes!

U Village, home, then more tastiness at McCormick and Schmick's. I really wish it was either not a big chain or at least had a more palatable name -- I've loved it both times we've been, but something just doesn't feel perfect to me. Fortunately the food (except our unfortunate mass of lumpy calamari last time) pretty much is.

Then, da da da dum! Lost!!! We've waited so long! So much stress! Could it reclaim it's creepy sci-fi pseudo-philosophical place in our hearts after so much time, and with only seven episodes for a season? It was pretty excellent, the hour-long reminder episode was helpful, and I almost threw the popcorn bowl at Buster in more than one scary moment.

Weekend: Part 1 - Ballet, Brahmin, Birthday

Weekends rarely feel long -- somehow both an excess and an absence of activity can make them pass too too quickly. My past Friday through Sunday, however seemed to stretch a week long, a virtual parade of friends, family, art, entertainment, and lots of food.

Friday I met Melissa for dinner at Crow before the ballet. It was fantastic. I loved every bite I could squeeze in of my mushroom/kale/squash risotto, and then I tried her incredible roast chicken. Delicious oil and vinegar with the (unfortunately tough) bread, and interesting cocktails. A bit pricey ($28+tip per person), but good atmosphere and not obscenely packed or slow pre-show, a major plus near the Center.

We've all read Romeo and Juliet at least a couple times in public school, and have seen the Leonardo DiCaprio/Claire Danes version if nothing else. Even if we haven't, I think the basic premise is ingrained in every American female's psyche by the age of seven. It's the ultimate love story, right? Tragic and beautiful.

So I was both excited to attend a ballet which I was sure I could follow along, and a little uncertain what I'd take away from a reiteration of such a well-known story.

I was also uncertain of Prokofiev's composition, which I played on repeat for three days in preparation. Lush, sweet, tinkling melodies like two chiffon-laced ballerinas prancing through the mist? No. It's a circus, upbeat and loud, crashing and overly-excited. Interesting, but not my idea of romance.

So the curtain opens on a smooth white set, bare except footprints, and the dancers emerge in spare dark and light costumes. We begin with the friar, in my mind a round bald man in a heavy brown robe, here definitely the most interesting and attractive character in the performance. His initial impassioned thrusts set the tone for the evening, vigorous and spontaneous.

With dancers, the score is not chaotic or hard to follow -- it is narrative, and entirely appropriate. Melissa suggests something about youth, and I realize this is not a love story, not the romance novel I read in high school, but a story of overzealous youth, irresponsible and irrepressible. I'm struck by how quickly the story unfolds, how ridiculous their actions are, how when we begin Romeo is chasing a different girl. It's still beautiful and poignant, but I leave feeling sad rather than smitten -- sad and old.


Saturday I peruse the Rack pre-hair-appointment, and am heading for the door when I see a fresh rack of assorted handbags. I spy a very leathery hide that must belong to a Brahmin, and am ecstatic to find it is in fact my coveted brand, reasonably priced. (Which for me means it does not produce internal debate, nor am I embarrassed to admit the price in public. Later, I confirm MSRP is about $300 more.) My slight hesitance that it's a bit small for me vanishes when I think of how I've been watching Macy's since I first saw the bags, and have seen one Brahmin on sale once. And so I clutch it to my person and look around furtively at other shoppers who may poach my catch, and in a materialistic display that would make our president proud I step into the checkout line with my wallet out.


Hair appointment, then Flexcar to Darrington where 18" of snow in my parents' driveway forces me to park early and my stepdad to come pick me up. My mom and Caitie are Wiiing in the living room, my stepdad's present for her 52nd. I take charge making fondue, which everyone scoops up by my stepdad -- he takes a few bites, then clearly decides to wait for something more meaty and traditional. I also take charge of cake, because I'm on a schedule, then I'm out the door and chasing my high-beams back to civilization.