Sunday, January 30, 2005

Planned "Pilgrimage" to Punxsutawney

My birthday is on Groundhog Day, a fact that has always amused me. It's one of the littlest secular holidays we note.

Even before the Groundhog Day movie, I'd planned to, someday, go to Punxsutawney and stand in the cold to watch the little rodent get pulled from its treestump. So given that the weather looks good for Wednesday, I live only about two hours away, and that I'll be unemployed after tomorrow, it looks like this year is the year. So if you see a well-bundled, round-faced woman with a sign saying something like "I'm 48 today!" that might be me.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Finicky About Flicks

Y'know, I've hardly seen a movie all year that I've loved unreservedly. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind comes close, and that came out almost a year ago! I also liked Kinsey quite a bit. We saw Phantom on Christmas (Jim's uncle loves musicals), but though Emmy Rossum is a lovely singer, the movie didn't come close to working.

So we finally went to The Aviator today. That too is rather flawed, but is, for the most part, a very watchable movie. Leonardo DiCaprio was superb. So were Cate Blanchett, Jude Law and Kate Beckinsale.

There's something about Scorsese movies that never quite works for me. I think my favorite movie of his was Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, and he made that 30 years ago! It's also the least like any of his other movies as it has virtually no violence and focuses on a middle-class woman. I like Taxi Driver but it's too violent in places.

So in The Aviator, Scorsese doesn't deal with violence directly - the most violent scene is one of a plane crash that was pretty gruesome. But he does deal directly with Hughes' decline into madness. I hadn't realized Hughes started to loose touch with reality quite so early in his career, and Scorsese really plays this up. It's as if Scorsese's greatest pleasure is in making his audience squirm. Frankly, it would have been a much better movie if about 20 minutes or so of the "Hughes is nuts" part of the movie had been cut.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

I'll Be on the Mike Romigh Show, KDKA 1020, at 9:05 Tonight (1/25)

I've been asked, in my capacity as Dead People Server curator, to go on and talk about Johnny Carson's death and dead pools.

I was on his show once before and I had a good time. If you're a Romigh listener, give us a call - be sure to say if you're a Pittsburgh Weblogger!

Saturday, January 22, 2005

The Jenny Turpish Slapped Me Humor Quiz

I love taking those online quizzes - here's a fun one Eva Whitley referenced in her blog today. If you want to take it, go to:

My results:

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Sunny/Dark: 4/10
drY/Gross: 3/10
Traditional/Offbeat: 2/10
Active/Passive: 1/10

[[Current Rankings:]]

You are a SYT--Sunny Dry Traditional. This makes you a Sophisticate.

You like conservative humor -- implied rather than explicit, and a well- timed eyebrow raise rather than a punchline. You're exactly the right kind of funny a well-bred hostess would want at her functions. You might be Jewish.

You're not afraid of a risque joke -- you just don't often make them. This means that people may keep it squeaky clean around you, and that when you do work blue it's super too so funny.

You're like Jon Stewart on that fake cover of the public domain Victorian erotica textbook in the back of America. You should get that book. You'll think it's funny as hell.

You might like The Daily Show, Remember Wenn and when Hamlet says, "Do you think I meant country matters?" You would snigger thyself all the way to the buttery bar.

Of the 7867 people who have taken this quiz, 26 % are this type.

Your Active humor score of 1/10 means you are too shy shy. Hush hush, hide-away. You could really unload a can of whoop-ass hilarity on anyone -- anyone receptive to humor at all -- but the sneaky thing here is you don't really care. You don't feel the need to be the center of attention, so you hold the big guns in reserve until the right moment. In a world full of people who think they're funnier than they are, you're exactly as funny as you want to be. Um, regardless of whether anybody else ever takes notice.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The results are reasonably close - I do like John Stewart and have been enjoying most of his textbook satire America. I don't tend to lead with jokes out of shyness, but because I don't tell jokes very well. When I start to be funny, it tends to be very contextual - with a group of people, just bullshitting.

The other quizzes are quite interesting, but I don't think I'd like to share the results here!

Monday, January 17, 2005

The Government According to Woody Allen

I've just seen Bananas (1971), written by Woody Allen and Mickey Rose, directed by and starring Woody Allen. The plot is basically irrelevent. Near the end of the flick, the Allen protagonist, Fielding Mellish, is on trial for treason.
A number of people were were questioned, including J. Edgar Hoover and Miss America:

Prosecuting Attorney: Tell the court why you think he is a traitor to this country.

Miss America: I think Mr. Mellish is a traitor to this country because his views are different from the views of the president and others of his kind. Differences of opinion should be tolerated, but not when they are too different. Then he becomes a subversive mother.

Does anyone else have the impression that Bush & buddies studied Bananas instead of political science when they were in college?

I hadn't seen the movie since I was about 14. It was Allen's second movie as a director, and it is wildly erratic. Parts of it are still quite funny particularly the last 20 minutes of so.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Prince Harry, Brad, Jen and the Death of Common Sense

During a time of economic weirdnesses, tsunamis, war and strange elections, you'd think people would have more to worry about than the state of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston's relationship and what Prince Harry chose to wear to a costume party. That these are two of the main stories of the day is a sure sign the people running media companies have contributed greatly to the death of common sense.

I do a fair amount of celebrity watching, probably more than the average reader. I've been a longtime watcher of Entertainment Tonight, but I shut it off in complete disgust over its Brad and Jen fixation this week. So what if a beautiful, busy, rich, distracted couple decides to get separated? We have such a fixation on looks, that somehow beautiful people must stay together - when they separate, it's somehow a tragedy. I'm not that surprised that Brad and Jen are taking some official time apart, after several long "working" separations. But it's not worth the kind of international frenzy this story has engendered. Despite the fact they're rich and famous, even they deserve a little peace and quiet to see if they can work things out, without all the endless speculation.

Likewise, the Prince Harry in Nazi dress feeding frenzy. Yes, choosing to wear a Nazi uniform to a costume party did show a remarkable lack of common sense. However, the people raving over an adolescent's adolescent behavior are even more guilty of not showing any common sense about the situation. If Prince Harry was sneaking off to neo-Nazi meetings, of course there should be ranting and raving. And it would be justified. But he was going to a costume party! He was not representing the royal family at an event - he was at a party!

If I go to a costume party dressed like Barbara Bush, it's not because I want to be Barbara Bush! It's because it might be funny!

Saturday, January 08, 2005

On Jobs and Housewifery...

I can't say I was shocked, I'd been warned so I sort of saw it coming.

I got laid off on Wednesday. I have a job (I think) until January 28. But, nothing's in writing so who knows.

A few weeks back, I got into a long phone conversation with a jobless person who's been looking hard for months. This person is extremely bright but, like me, doesn't play political games very much. We also either tend to be honest and direct with our employers/co-workers, or spend a lot of time just biting our tongues in reaction to stuff around us. In the course of our discussion, we both came to the conclusion that there are certain classes of jobs that are kind of like "housewife" jobs. They aren't overly sexy, but no one notices all the work these people do until they're gone. Unfortunately, these are the kinds of jobs we tend to do best.

Money, while important, isn't a super-critical issue for me right now. Jim's job appears secure, and the house and the cars are paid off. Maybe a few weeks away from work entirely might help me get out of my long-term insomnia. I can go the the gym more regularly. I can work on the house (as much as I don't like housework). Maybe the changes will help push me out of my long-term writer's block.

I was working on a mundane novel about two years ago. I recently went back and read what I'd written. While I don't have a stunning writing style (my writing, like my Web site, is very Amish - in other words, plain!), I know some of it is pretty good. But, the whole thing isn't, and I've only written about 20,000 words or so. And I haven't written much in over a year (aside from the blog and keeping my Web sites up to date).

Anyway, if there is anyone out there looking for search engine optimization, hand-coded HTML or XML, or small bits of content or research, drop me a line. My rates are completely negotiable!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Suggestion for Observing Inauguration Day (Thursday, January 20, 2005)

I've been trying to think of a way to observe this year's inauspicious inauguration.

While political protest is certainly a good thing, I really don't like the idea of going to Washington to protest the event. Sometimes, protest just gets way out of hand.

I think a quiet protest is the most appropriate thing to do.

So I will wear black on Thursday, January 20.