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Archive for January, 2009

six-million-dollar-man-by-seeingdeniz

Six Million Dollar Man photo by seeingDeniz (Flickr)

… you are incapable of defacing a book even if it’s for a good cause.
I took a bookmaking class (yes, I’m a “bookie” now :-)) and while I can make blank books and pamphlets from scratch, I am congenitally unable to “alter” books, even extremely boring, out-of-date ones. “Altered books” are regular books (usually discarded ones) that have been changed in some way by the artist. Sometimes this means that they have been cut into different shapes, sometimes this means that the pages have been cut up and painted in order to tell an entirely different story.

Knowing this, I decided that I would probably be okay just reusing old book parts so when I saw a battered copy of “Tom Brown’s Schooldays” on the library book sale pile, I didn’t hesitate to shell out 50 cents for it. My plan was to save the cover which had an interesting design, cut out the old text block (a text block is the pages that have all the printing on them), insert a new text block (blank journal pages), and add new endpapers (endpapers go on the inside cover of the book).

I was doing fine until I made my fatal error: I started to actually read the book. And enjoy it. And then my whole plan fell apart. Gosh, I said to myself, with some new endpapers and a little glue on the spine this book could be as good as new.

[insert “Six Million Dollar Man” theme music here]

Gentlefolk, I can rebuild it. I have the technology. I can make this book better than it was before. Better, faster, stronger …. YES, I CAN NURSE THIS BOOK BACK TO HEALTH!!!!

*Sigh* Well, so much for nabbing art materials from the book sale table ….

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No matter how bad the last eight years have been, folks, it’s always important to remember that it might have been worse. YouTube user TheNegativeDude remixed “Dark Knight” footage in order to make this trailer for Oliver W. Stone’s “W” movie. Watch for who he casts as Karl Rove. I was hysterical.

And what look back at G.W.’s presidency would be complete without this footage of his handling of the Wall Street bailout? Gotham’s gangsters, Wall Street bankers, same thing really.

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bush-obama-embrace

Nothing in his presidency became him like the leaving of it …..

The transition was the part of the job he handled the best. A sad coda.

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obama-inauguration1

Barack Obama places his hand on the Lincoln Bible held by his wife, Michelle, in order to take the oath of office as the nation’s 44th President. The Lincoln Bible was on loan from the Library of Congress.

I had a dream, I had an awesome dream …–Lionel Richie, “Say You, Say Me”

Yesterday was the best Martin Luther King’s Day ever largely because of today. The University of Arnor Library had live coverage of Barack Obama’s swearing in ceremony in the library’s media room. A bunch of staff and some early rising students sat quietly in the semi-darkness this morning and watched history happen.

Today everything is possible and nothing is beyond our grasp. Today I feel the hand of destiny upon us all, I feel the tide of history sweeping us forward toward a bright and shining future. America is in the throws of birthing a new age, an age of wonders. I truly believe that America is on the verge of a renaissance that will remake every corner of our society for the better. In years to come, future generations will look back and say “this was the turning point.” No matter what setbacks we encounter along the way, we cannot fail as long as we let hope and our dreams sustain us.

But the work of changing our world is not the responsibility of one man or one administration. Nothing good or evil happens in America that we as Americans don’t all have a hand in and nothing can change unless we all pitch in and do our part. Real change begins at home, home by home, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, city by city, state by state, and region by region.

Can we transform our country? Yes, we can. Darn it, yes, we can!

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squirrels-coffee

We have small red squirrels here on campus, much smaller than their larger cousins elsewhere. What they lack in size, however, they make up for in sheer chutzpah. One day, while walking to lunch, I saw what appeared to be a bagel rolling rapidly across the grounds. Closer inspection revealed that a squirrel had seized the bagel, which was twice the size of its head, and was hauling it off to its underground larder.

It’s only a matter of time before they begin insisting on having coffee with their baked goods. Highly caffeinated rodents: another sign of the impending apocalypse.  Run for the hills!

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Chinese Zodiac: Year of the Ox

Originally uploaded by djwudi

Happy Chinese New Year everyone! 2009 is the Year of the Ox.

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During the long, dark days of winter, I often find myself watching a lot of videos and DVDs at home and this holiday break has been no exception. Without further ado, I now present Miss Method’s guide to recent (and semi-recent) releases:

Two Opposable Digits Way Up:

batman-dark-knight

Batman: The Dark Knight

Apart from beating the Batman franchise to death, I was put off from watching this movie because I thought it was much too violent. However, I have to say that I was pleased and even surprised by how well-done “The Dark Knight” is . This is a very anti-heroic superhero picture. Briefly, the forces of organized crime have re-grouped and are fighting back against Batman and the reformers within City Hall and the police force. To do this, they decide to hire the Joker, a professional assassin, to take out Batman and the others, but the Joker is no ordinary killer and events quickly escalate.
Although there are action sequences, they aren’t the focus of the film. The real message of the movie is that defeating the forces that threaten society isn’t as easy as blowing up the bad guys. The draconian measures that Batman and Gotham employ have unforeseen consequences. In failing to understand his enemies, Batman has inadvertantly created a much worse villain in the Joker.

An especially nice touch: the presence of wanna-be Batman vigilantes.

kung-fu-panda

“There is no charge for awesomeness. Or attractiveness.”

Kung Fu Panda

I laughed, I cried, I laughed some more through this animated story of a panda fan-boy who is chosen to be the Dragon Warrior and defend his community against the outlaw Tai-Lung. If you were exposed to very bad kung-fu action movies during your formative years, as I was, you will enjoy the way this flick parodies the genre.  The central theme of the movie, however, is the special bond between teacher and student. Po the wanna-be warrior can’t achieve anything even remotely resembling competence at kung-fu until Sifu, his snappish teacher, not only believes in him, but works out the best way to teach him.

tin-man

Tin Man

Two words, folks: Steampunk Oz. If you get the SciFi Channel, you may have already heard of this excellent mini-series. If you don’t, you will be pleasantly surprised by this dark, modern re-telling of L. Frank Baum’s classic story, The Wizard of Oz.

Dorothy (D.G.) is a restless young woman, bored by her humdrum existence as a small-town waitress and troubled by strange dreams at night. Her life as she knows it is abruptly brought to an end when her family home is attacked by stormtroopers and she and her parents have to jump into a tornado to escape. Waking up in the O.Z. (Outer Zone), D.G. seeks to find her parents, her memories, and her past. Hunted by the evil sorceress Azakadellia who is hiding secrets of her own, D.G. is helped by Glitch, an enemy of the state who has had his brain literally removed, Raw, an abused, lion-like psychic, and Wyatt Caine, a former law officer or “tin man” imprisoned in a suit of armor for remaining loyal to the previous regime. Can Dorothy find her power and save the O.Z. before darkness descends on the land forever?

“Tin Man” is hampered by a slow beginning, cheesey, made-for-TV special effects, and a largely uninteresting performance by lead actress Zooey Deschanel as D.G. who seems to have been chosen for her big blue eyes as opposed to any acting chops.  Pluses: a script (and scriptwriters) who refuse take the easy way out and winning performances from experienced character actors like Alan Cummings (Glitch) and Neal McDonough (Tin Man).

This ain’t your mama’s Oz, friends, but it is a complex, noirish, modern day fairytale. Watch it.

Good, But Not Great

Something New

Sanaa Lathan plays Kenya, a successful, black, female professional who is looking for the perfect man. She has a little list–well, a long list, actually–of all of his traits. He has to be white-collar, college-educated, and definitely African-American. However, she finds herself unexpectedly attracted to the free-spirited, blue-collar Brian (Simon Baker), a landscape architect she hires to renovate her backyard. Brian is everything she doesn’t want in a man–he likes dogs, he works with his hands, he’s outdoorsy, and most of all, he’s white. When Kenya meets Mark (Blair Underwood), a handsome black tax attorney and the living embodiment of her perfect man list, she has to decide where her heart truly lies.

While the film’s interracial romance and strong message about the importance of following your heart and opening yourself up to new experiences elevate it above the common fare, the movie is held down by a formulaic script. The actors turn in great performances, but there is never any doubt in our minds about which boy the girl will eventually wind up with.

The intense Afro-centricism also seems very forced. Upper class black professionals are portrayed as a group so snotty and pedigree-conscious that President-elect Obama (a bi-racial guy from a multi-racial family) couldn’t get an invitation to their events. A more subtle approach to showing the racial prejudices of the characters would have worked better.

This movie is a great one to watch around New Year’s. I know that it really made me question how open I was to new experiences that were outside of my comfort zone.

The Bucket List

Good end-of-the-trail movie. Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman play two very different men with terminal cancer who opt to spend their final days doing things they’ve always wanted to, but have put off. Along the way, they have to come to terms with the life choices that they’ve made. Nice twist at the end.

16 Blocks

The biggest flaw of this movie is its extremely slow pace which blights an otherwise fine noir drama about a broken down cop and the petty thief he’s trying to deliver to the grand jury, just sixteen blocks away from the jail.  Bruce Willis stars as Jack Mosely a washed up, alcoholic NYPD cop just going through the motions. Jack is given an easy assignment: transport Eddie (Mos Def), a whiney petty thief to the court house just down the street, but this quickie errand turns into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse when crooked cops including Jack’s ex-partner try to kill Eddie before he can testify. The focus of this movie is not on car chases and gunplay, but on Jack and Eddie’s internal drama as the characters bond and face hard truths about themselves. For the record, I preferred the theater ending to the alternative ending.

Penelope

A charming, modern fairytale about a young woman who is cursed with the nose of a pig. Only when one of her own class accepts her can the curse be broken. Tired of waiting for the right suitor to come along, Penelope leaves her secluded life at home to find her own way. It sounds lame, but it really is a fine movie. Christina Ricci stars as the title character and Reese Witherspoon is the producer.

Two Thumbs Down

Mamma Mia!

You know a film just isn’t going to make it when you find yourself reaching for a book less than half-way through. This isn’t a film so much as it is an extended music video–a pastiche of ’70s songs with a very thin storyline. Yes, the music is toe-tapping in an easy listening sort of way and yes, Meryl Streep is always watchable, but I expect a bit more from my movies.

Wall-E

This is one of those movies that looks very promising, but then doesn’t deliver. Part of the problem is that I think the movie-makers just couldn’t decide what the story was really all about. Is it a love story between Wall-E and EVA? Is is the usual, hackneyed tale about machines declaring dominion over human beings? Or is it a cautionary tale about the effect of overconsumption on the environment? The animators clearly had a lot of fun here, but the script needs a complete overhaul.

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