Friday, January 30, 2004

Angel - Damage 

This episode gave me a little lift this week just when I needed it.

Andrew as "top man" was excellent. He practically swooned over Spike. It was nice having a little storyline update on the Scooby Gang, although imagining Xander on his own on "The Dark Continent" gives me a headache. I can picture Buffy and Dawn settling in on Rome for a while, though.

The first shots of Dana in the hospital reminded me of a cross between Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and Samara in The Ring. The bonding between Spike and Angel at the end was interesting. They say that Dana has crossed over, and is "one of us" now. What does that portend? Do they feel she won't be able to recover? They're moving along fine. Faith seems to be on the way to redemption.

The scene of the army of slayers ("none of whom have dated" Angel) enveloping Dana and taking her into their circle was excellent. Much more of a healing and hopeful vibe than the old Watcher's Council approach of "drug her and chain her up, and if that doesn't work, shoot her" to rogue slayers. Ironic that when the old Watcher's Council was in charge and there was only one slayer at a time, the slayer was viewed as expendable. Kill one, we'll get another. Now that there are scores of Slayers, they are each valued and respected as "One of Us."

I found it odd that everyone kept referring to Giles as "Rupert Giles." I know that's his name and all, but what's with the sudden full name references? He's just "Giles."

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:57 PM

Sad Note- Foofur 8/1/89 - 1/28/04 

I've been incognito for the last couple of days. On Wednesday I had to have my dear canine companion of nearly 15 years put to sleep. She had experienced some seizures and all indications pointed to a brain tumor, which left her blind and pretty much immobile. The Girl and I were with her to the end, and she passed away with her chin resting in my hands.

She was named Foofur after a cartoon dog whose theme song tag line was "the coolest dog I ever knew." Her middle name was Whoopi, after Whoopi Goldberg. She was indeed a very cool, fun-loving dog with the most gentle disposition around, a border collie - black lab mix. She was born in Colorado, where I adopted her from the Colorado Springs Humane Society. The vet who first examined her for me said she was no more than 4 weeks old at the time. From there she traveled across the country with me many times, living in LA, Minneapolis, Oklahoma, and here in New England. She loved running on the beach and in the woods, digging in the sand and dragging around "sticks" the size of small trees. Although she could bark when she felt like it, more often she preferred to make a more cow-like "moo"-ing sound.

While she had slowed down significantly in these recent years, I like to think that she's now free to run and dig on the perfect beach, bordered by a forest full of leaf piles to explore and branches to drag around and chew on.

Go Foofur, Go!

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:37 AM
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Monster 

The Girl and I had a double date on Sunday afternoon to see Monster before the Golden Globes. I'm glad we did, as by the time Charlize Theron won her Best Actress, Drama award The Girl and I were both firmly in her camp. This is one of those movies that you'll never gush "I loved this movie," as it was so incredibly disturbing. I think it's a great movie, I would recommend it to each and every person out there, and I think Charlize Theron deserves to win the Academy Award for which she's been nominated.

Monster is based on the now-executed Florida serial killer Aileen Wuornos, and her transformation from a downtrodden, suicidal prostitute with no human connections to a serial killer who feels entirely justified in her actions, who is clinging desperately to apparently the only person (played by Christina Ricci) who has ever shown her honest affection, her lover Selby Wall. Speaking of transformations, nothing could have prepared me for the complete transformation Charlize Theron makes in this role. The physical changes are significant - she has the appearance of being streetworn, with highly sundamaged skin, more weight, and lifeless hair. But beyond that, she takes on the bearing and carriage appropriate to the part. Theron's Wuornos alternates between entitled and arrogant posturing to terrified and humiliated trembling. She presents someone who is able to present what the character would feel to be a socially appropriate front, and in an instant change it to someone furiously lashing out at the occupants of a world to which she is denied entry. Through it all, Theron allows us into the workings of the character's mind as she navigates Wuornos' self-made minefield.

Theron and Ricci take us through the story of two people in tough circumstances (Ricci's character has recently come out to her religious family, with very bad results), who in an ongoing series of small and large choices find themselves further and further on the outside of a world they each desperately wish to be part of.

The scene that has stuck with me the most strongly is after the second killing. Wuornos is standing in a clearing, smoking a cigarette, and the moonlight illuminates the smoke as it swirls around and obscures her face. It's the exact moment when you realize that she has taken the irreversible step over the line.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 7:11 PM

When Worlds Collide 

I had a great time with Criminal Law last evening. We started discussion of actus reus and mens rea, and why we aren't criminally liable for our thoughts. The casebook included a discussion of Minority Report, and that discussion continued into the classroom. Our professor confessed that she has not yet seen it, but she did relate the discussion to an episode of Star Trek (the original series) which involved a "Truth Chair." I have to admit I didn't see that one, and I can't find a reference to it online. Can anyone point me to the episode? An alternate would be Wonder Woman's magic lasso...

I thought a great one to include (unfortunately, the discussion moved away from sci-fi and back to actual cases) would be Star Trek: Voyager, "Random Thoughts." The situation on this particular planet was slightly different as the inhabitants are all telepathic, but still. On that world, violent thoughts were criminal. Anyone found to have a violent thought would have it purged from their memory. This had the unfortunate effect of creating a black market in violent thoughts, one of which was "stolen" from B'Elana Torres. She was then slated for the purging process, so Janeway and Co. had to move into high gear to uncover the thought police dissenters.

I was discussing this with The Guyfriend this morning, and he also brought up the classic Next Generation episode, "Justice," in which Wesley Crusher is nearly executed for unwittingly violating the one law on the planet - crossing the innocuous looking white barrier that pops up in random places. That one is great for all sorts of discussions - notice, arbitrary laws, retribution v. utilitarianism (although I'm not sure what purpose at all would have been served by this law, other than blind obedience to the powers that be), appropriateness of punishment given the seriousness of the crime, not to mention the Prime Directive.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:57 AM

Oscar Nominations 

The nominations are posted on Oscar.com. I thought I had a good jump on the films likely to be nominated, but now I see I have my work cut out for me over the next 4.5 weeks! At least I can say that I've already seen all five of the Best Picture nominees:

-LOTR: The Return of the King
-Lost In Translation
-Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
-Mystic River
-Seabiscuit

The Guyfriend is quite perturbed that Master and Commander was nominated for Visual Effects, but Matrix Revolutions was not. Of course he hasn't seen M&C, and I haven't seen Matrix Revolutions, so I really can't debate it with him.

Quite a blow to Nicole Kidman, though. Both her Cold Mountain co-stars are nominated, but nothing for her. With the exception of Diane Keating for Something's Gotta Give, the rest of the Leading Actress nominees are from quieter release films:

-Keisha Castle-Hughes in Whale Rider
-Diane Keaton in Something's Gotta Give
-Samantha Morton in In America"
-Charlize Theron in Monster
-Naomi Watts in 21 Grams

I've yet to see In America, but of the remaing four I'd have to say that I enjoyed all their performances. Diane Keaton is always fabulous, but I don't think she stands a chance against the others this year. Keisha Castle-Hughes did a great job, and I hope to see more of her as she moves from child actor to actor (she'll be in the next Star Wars pic), but (again, without having seen In America as of yet), my vote is between Naomi Watts and Charlize Theron. They were both spectacular, but I think Charlize Theron's complete transformation in all aspects of her character (mannerisms, appearance, attitude, speech patterns, etc.) puts her over the edge and into the Winner's Circle.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:14 AM
Sunday, January 25, 2004

21 Grams 

Continuing on the Naomi Watts theme, after watching The Ring on DVD on Friday, we went to 21 Grams at the theater on Saturday. This film stars three of the best actors today, Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro and Naomi Watts, in the interwoven story of three individuals and their families, linked together through a tragic event. All the many awards and nominations that 21 Grams is racking up are surely well-deserved.

The official website posits the question, "How much does life weigh?" 21 Grams leaves you pondering many more questions than that. What would you do or overlook for your family? When does grief become despair? Despair become vengeance? What happens when that to which you have attributed your salvation vanishes? When does a belief become blind faith? Where is the line between accepting your fate or destiny and abandoning all personal responsibility for your actions? Tragedy strikes the victims, survivors, families, those responsible and their families, and countless others. This is the story of how all these people deal with the blows life brings. The timeframe jumps around quite a bit, but in a way that draws you into the story and forces you to analyze the characters' motivations and what has changed between one time and another.

21 Grams also prompts questions about punishment. What is appropriate punishment, and who is the appropriate person to make this determination? What roles do remorse, forgiveness, retribution, and amends play in the grand scheme?

Lesbian trivia: Naomi Watts played a lesbian (again, in a variety of settings and characterizations) in Mulholland Drive, and Clea Duvall, who plays her sister in 21 Grams, was Natasha Lyonne's girlfriend in But I'm A Cheerleader. Natasha Lyonne was one of the '70's lesbians in HBO's If These Walls Could Talk 2, with Chloe Sevigny, who in turn was the love interest for Hilary Swank in Boys Don't Cry.

For you Buffy fans, Clea Duvall was also Invisible Girl in season one.

Reality Check: The Girl was at first a little thrown by the time cuts, which is something that will usually turn her right off a movie. But not this one - she agrees that it was intense but excellent.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 12:55 PM

The Ring 

Wow, The Ring is one well-done, scary-ass movie. The premise, which is revealed in the trailers and in the opening minutes of the film, is that watching a particular VCR tape condemns the viewer to death exactly 7 days later. This is one of those thrillers that could have been just another run of the mill cheese-fests, but it absolutely was not. It's also one that could have become very bizarre in the hands of David Lynch, but instead was simply breathtaking.

The brief intercuts, both in the video of death and in the movie itself, are subtle and intriguing. The overall texture is rather grainy and washed out, which makes the occasional use of bright colors and sharp images stand out. The various symbols and themes which present themselves early on aren't hammered on or explained in a lengthy monologue. A statement here or there, or even just a changed facial expression, in a moment of understanding, and the story moves on.

The Girl and I knew that Amber Tamblyn was in this, but neither of us knew that a larger role was played by David Dorfman, who played Rocky on the recent heartbreaking episode of Joan of Arcadia. Their character dynamics in The Ring are similar, yet rather reversed.

Naomi Watts was, as always, outstanding.

Reality Check: While The Girl generally doesn't go for artsy stuff, which is aplenty in The Ring, she loved it, and feels that it's one of the scariest movies she's ever seen. She keeps repeating, "She never sleeps..." around the house.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:07 AM
Saturday, January 24, 2004

Star Trek: Enterprise - Proving Ground 

That had to be the longest previously I've seen on an episode that wasn't a season opener or a series finale. It was longer than all the combined previouslies and flashbacks from an episode of Tru Calling!

Two things stood out for me on this episode. First, the Andorian bridge. It's so clean and retro. And kind of pink, which is ironic given that Enterprise's bridge is mostly blue. Speaking of pink and blue, why do the Andorians refer to humans as pink skins? The humans they've interacted with are of all different hues, none of which really looks pink to me. Maybe Andorians have a limited color palate available in their vision, and everything is either blue or pink. What color would they have interpreted as the Xindi command room being? To me the Xindi are always cast in shades of green and brown, except for the good Xindi-Sloth on the science planet - they had a full range, with an emphasis on nice neutral beiges. And what impact would this color analysis have on T'Pol's new fashion palette? Hmm.

Mentioning T'Pol brings me to the main thing that stayed with me throughout the episode. It's all about the antennae. Oh my god are those things cool! I was watching them more than I was watching any of the characters. I love that when Shran is talking to most people, his antennae also face that person, but when he's talking with T'Pol, they're focused straight down her jumpsuit. As he was walking through a room with beams projecting from the ceiling, the antennae would duck under them and then straighten themselves out. Actually, the way they move reminds me of The Game on The Next Generation. Do they have production crew with remote controls maneuvering them off camera? The early shot of the back of Archer's head in front of the viewscreen with the antennae appearing to come from his own head was classic!! I don't care if it was cheesy, it was fun. And they coordinated very well with his uniform.

When Talas was bonding with Reed, her antennae sort of lowered and spread out. I thought it was a flirtatious response kind of thing, but then Shran did the same thing when he was trying to slick his way out of being caught in his deception by Archer. Oh well, I guess flirtation and deception can go hand in hand, and either would have worked in either of these situations.

Back in the mess hall before Talas entered the picture, I thought it was great that Reed was foregoing tea (and crumpets) for coffee, as he felt he needed all the caffeine he could get. I immediately thought of the episode of Buffy where for once Giles turned down tea in favor of coffee. "Tea is soothing. I wish to be tense." I'm wondering if that was the same episode on which Dominic Keating appeared as a Watcher's Council flunky soon to be vamped? I just looked it up - nope, that was Graduation Day, Part 2. I hope caffeine doesn't make Reed more tense than he usually is. You could bounce a quarter off that guy.

I had a law school moment during Shran's chat with Tucker. Apparently Trip has moved past a retributive approach to punishment and is leaning toward a more utilitarian philosophy, while Shran although he later posited the utilitarian position that having The Weapon would prevent the Vulcans from crossing the border, I get the feeling that he would much rather have The Weapon to avenge his brother's death on the front lines.

In the end, we can rest easy knowing that Archer continues to rely on the kindness of strangers. First The Weapon defect, then the surreptitious scan data transfer. I guess he's just so darned good, righteous and wholesome that a brief exposure to him can sway others to defy orders and betray their governments, because "it's the right thing to do." Because, you know, we've seen how efficiently that works in our own timeframe.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 12:26 PM
Friday, January 23, 2004

Tru Calling - Reunion 

I think I identified too much with this episode. First the foam, then the bully story. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

Davis asks Tru about foam on a drowning victim, to which she looks puzzled, and he then clarifies that drowning victims often have what's known as "foam cone." She then immediately responds, "You mean when the body goes into rapid shock, and responds with the formation of mucus around the throat and windpipe?" This from a woman who three seconds earlier appeared to have no idea what he was talking about. Maybe his use of the phrase "foam cone" triggered some memory of her having learned this in one of her premed classes, but I would have found it a tad more believable if she hadn't been so precise with it. Something along the lines of, "Oh, that's right. Doesn't that have something to do with rapid shock and mucus formation?"

I've discovered another situation which can cause foam cone. It can be an unfortunate side effect of tv viewing when the show you're watching goes through multiple freezes and blackouts followed by minutes of the local affiliate logo emblazoned on the screen. Is this what the Spirit rover has been going through? For once I was grateful for the mid-episode recap - at least I was able to see a tiny piece of what I missed while the technical difficulties were being handled. To top it off, after having at least 4 of these incidents over the course of the show, it happened again at the end and entirely blocked the last five minutes, from when Tru was starting her Reunion Queen speech.

I think it was a conspiracy by the network to get me to like the show. From what I was able to see, it seemed reasonably well-done tonight (above foam cone dialogue notwithstanding). Tru's speech was probably another of these over the top, saccharine, give peace a chance, we should all love each other now because who knows what tomorrow might bring types of closing speeches I've come to dread. Since I couldn't actually see it, I'm going to imagine it as a well-written, amazingly-delivered, heart-warming and thought-provoking wrap up of the evening's events. I'm also imagining that I'm better off not knowing what became of the showdown between Harrison and his former bully.

At my 10 year high school reunion, I got it into my head that I was finally going to speak my mind to the guy who bullied me for four years. Yes, I was a target in high school. Sure, being a geek is cool now (what? be quiet!), but not so much in 1982 at the age of 17. Anyway, I go to the reunion, full of confidence, out and proud, wearing a way cool outfit (plus I've grown a couple of inches), and I spot him. Bad news for my big plan - he seems like a really nice guy now. Turns out he was battling with internalized homophobia back then, and apparently acting overly macho in an attempt to hide his own gayness (sounds like Larry on Buffy, only this guy didn't get eaten by a giant snake at graduation), but by the 10th reunion he was out and (I know this sounds like a stereotype, but here it is) a successful hair stylist. Does anyone know if Harrison's bully had a similar story?

So glad to hear (albeit briefly) that Meredith's doing fine and will be out of rehab in a few weeks. I guess they have really good quickie miracle-working rehabs in whatever city this show inhabits.

I have to go find a detailed episode guide now.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 5:19 PM

Angel - Soul Purpose 

Thank you, thank you, thank you Spike. Thank you for being the cynical yet gullible, wary yet enthusiastic, dangerous yet reliably incompetent guy who always manages to accomplish the task at hand, sort of. You make me laugh and keep me watching.

It's about time someone scolded the maidens in distress who are walking through back alleys of downtown LA in business suits and heels in the middle of the night, alone, and are then surprised when something bad happens. I'm not for blaming the victim of violent crimes, but I'm with Spike here - take a little personal responsibility! And he didn't even back off when she indignantly replies - "Hey - I'm just trying to get home!" he asks if she's ever heard of a cab. I hope she didn't continue to protest, perhaps that cabs don't come to that part of town. We know they do, because Meredith managed to get one to take her to her DRUG DEAL!!! From her LAW OFFICE!!!

Now on to some questions. What is Lindsey up to with the Doyle impersonation, especially with Cordelia apparently popping back on in a couple of weeks? Why does Lindsey assume Spike won't be having any guests in his bed in the near future? It's not like he's so hung up on Buffy that he didn't grab Harmony and go off for a nooner within two minutes of his recorporealization. What does Angel's heart really look like? Granted, it did look pretty shriveled (although more like a prune than a walnut) before Gwen applied her tingly touch, but that interaction seemed to put a nice batch of zing into it. Would it have shriveled back up so fast? Why have they never come back to that? When will be get to see things burst into flame because Harmony attempted to read runes? I'd enjoy that...

I'm looking forward to seeing how this Spike-Lindsey-Eve-Good Guys-Bad Guys-Grey Area storyline plays out. Will Spike discover he's being used and turn it around for good (like with the Necromancer)? Will he realize too late that he let his ego lead him into being used for evil? Will they ever let Fred look as good in nondream sequences as she did in the field hallucination? Only time will tell. Unless this story is like Gwen's, and it just drops off into the abyss. Or comes back out of nowhere next season with no explanation, like Sandy and Kerry's baby storyline on ER. That would apply to Gwen's storyline as well, so I'm going with that. Maybe they could just put Fred and Gwen together, adding another lesbian couple to primetime TV. Gwen has a love for gadgets, so she and Fred would get along quite well. And they could compare notes on Gunn.

Next week: Slayer Activation Fallout! Andrew! Yay!!

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 7:18 AM
Thursday, January 22, 2004

Uncharmed on Charmed 

When I started this blog at the end of last year, I expected to include Charmed as one of the shows on which I would comment. The episodes since then have really left me feeling rather blah. Nothing great, nothing horrible - just empty entertainment. It's as if a lethargy demon has infiltrated The Manor, and is working towards removing all remnants of zip from the show. Even Grams in her recent appearance seemed a bit resigned. Maybe this is how Wyatt ends up power-crazed evil destroyer of San Francisco - he was bored.

I think Wyatt needs to start acting up a little more. The last time I saw some backbone and spark in the sisters was after Wyatt conjured the dragon out of the television and was temporarily removed by The Cleaners. I loved that their solution was to go on a visible magic spree in order to make The Cleaners' lives so hectic that they found returning Wyatt to be the easier solution. A little less mature restraint - a little more wheeeeee! - and I might be a happy viewer once more.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:23 PM

Economic Analysis of Bush Marriage Initiative 

Former Secretary of Labor Robert B. Reich has an Opinion Column in today's Washington Post (via How Appealing) in which he applies an economic analysis to Pres. Bush's recently announced $1.5 billion (heterosexual) marriage initiative based on developing better "interpersonal skills," particularly among poor Americans. The article is a thorough analysis, which boils down to the conclusion that marital status is not the cause of poverty, but to some degree the reverse is true. Poor people need better education and better paying jobs, yet funds for schooling and job training have been cut.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 7:56 AM
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Movie Quote To Live By 

American Rhetoric has posted one of my favorite movie speeches of all time. It's from The American President, with Michael Douglas and Annette Benning, written by Aaron Sorkin. This speech comes toward the end of the film, after Michael Douglas' character Andrew Sheperd (the American President of the title) has resisted character debate baiting from Richard Dreyfus' character Senator Bob Rumson.

In these times of presidential elections and patriot-baiting, this monologue still rings true.

I recommend reading it through, but this excerpt is a good example:

America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You've gotta want it bad, cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say, "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours." You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the land of the free.


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Posted by Beth Henderson at 4:55 PM

State of the Union and Gay Marriage 

The Human Rights Campaign has published this statement concerning Pres. Bush's State of the Union references to "activist judges" and the constitutional process regarding gay marriage. The HRC statement provides a compact analysis of the history and role of the judiciary in the social progress of our country (ending segregation, ending miscegenation laws, etc.).

I'll just add that my own feelings border on outrage at his characterization of the situation as one in which "judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people." He clearly didn't read the incredibly well-reasoned and expressed opinion of the Massachusetts SJC in the Goodridge case. This case and resulting opinion did not spring from the whims of the court. It was the result of a legitimate constitutional issue brought into the judicial system through the established channels for resolving these issues, with both sides competantly argued and supported by amicus briefs from a variety of organizations. It was a case on behalf of 14 representatives (7 couples) of the people.

Does he truly not understand the role the judiciary plays in protecting citizens from the sometimes oppressive will of majorities? Or does he feel that his agenda is worth misrepresenting current and historical events and the system of checks and balances which defines the essence of our system of government? The Constitution lays out protections to which American citizens and others in our country are entitled; such an amendment would instead establish a right for certain groups to impose their prejudices on others.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:51 AM

Wesley Clark '04 

Anyone who has perused my sideblog may have inferred that I'm a Wesley Clark backer. Absolutely. I heard him interviewed on NPR back in 2001 when his book Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo and the Future of Combat was first hitting the bookstores and was intrigued. After reading his book I was sold, and from that point hoped he would indeed enter the 2004 race.

He's intelligent, articulate, thoughtful, able both to lead out and to build coalitions, believes in the value of all people, understands war and therefore values peace, and from what I've seen takes the time to form a well-deliberated stand on each issue but once he determines his position, sticks with it.

For his own presentations of his positions on a wide variety of issues, check out his On The Issues page. He discusses topics from gun control, prescription drugs for seniors, government openness, the USA PATRIOT Act, the civil justice system, the environment, "community" issues: GLBT, African-American, Native American, Hispanic, Asian Pacific Americans, seniors, veterans, women, disabilities, DC Voting rights, and more.

He has a broad appeal. Among his endorsers are Michael Moore, a variety of Native American leaders, members of Congress from all regions of the country, Hispanic leaders, Madonna, the founder of Earth Day, civil rights leader Mary Frances Berry, and many others. He reaches out to and connects with people of all classes, races, education level, region, and a wide range of the political spectrum.

You can find websites run by all sorts of groups for Wesley Clark, including Republicans! This page on Clark's website lists a number of grassroots sites by group and location.

Do the research, and you may find yourself to be as enthusiastic as I am about Wesley Clark.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:03 AM
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Joan of Arcadia - Recreation 

After a few nights catching up on Tivo'd shows, I'm now ready for the new week to begin! Before we watched Joan of Arcadia, I commented to The Girl that after last week's emotional wringer the show was in need of a light-hearted episode. Once again, Barbara Hall delivered.

The shot of Grace perched on top of the stairway rails reading, with everyone else walking by without thinking anything was strange was perfect. The follow-up of her surfing down the rail while talking to Joan made it complete. That was as defining a moment for Grace as crashing into the railing was for Xander on the first episode of Buffy.

I even moved a touch towards being okay with the concept of Grace and Luke when Grace made the anthropological comment about the party being like a particular mating ritual only without the evisceration, and without skipping a beat and appearing (plausibly) to know exactly which ritual she was referencing, Luke replied that the night was still young. They're both geeks, it's just that Grace is cynical about the world and those in it, while Luke is blindly enthusiastic about discovering the universe and the secrets it holds. Hopefully they'll continue providing an amusing balance.

Joan's reaction when the police appeared at the door was perfect - who hasn't been relieved when an authority figure has taken the heat off of you for shutting down something that you know has gotten out of control? I was a bit fearful that the Joan-Adam thing was going to turn into a run-of-the-mill teen angst storyline, but by the time they were slow-dancing on the front lawn my faith had been restored. Of course, if Adam really cares about Joan, he followed up the dance by going in and helping clean up the party evidence before the parents' return.

Speaking of the parents, that brings me to my one issue with this episode. I understand they tried to explain away Will's unusual behavior as being a post-traumatic effect of his abduction, but I didn't buy it. Yes, he does seem like he's not a spa kind of guy, but the development of his character thus far doesn't support his ruining the entire romantic weekend with Helen. His entire motivation (including his expressed internal handling of his reaction when he felt he was about to die) revolves around his family. I know I wished for something more light-hearted this week, but his spa behavior was bordering on the level of sitcom. I also find it beyond comprehension that he would not have found some way to contact Toni, who he knew was awaiting his signal outside an active meth lab. Yes, it worked out well - Toni and the rest of the officers would likely have been killed in the explosion had they gone in - but it was as far out of character for him to forget about his fellow officers as it was for him to sabotage his alone time with his wife.

But I can let this slide, and perhaps these questions will be explored in future episodes. They have a good track record of not leaving plot points hanging, or plot holes open.

Last note - the idea of recreation being as important as every other aspect of life, and essential for redefining and starting anew, is one I hope more people grab onto.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:13 AM
Monday, January 19, 2004

Notes to Note 

This month's ABA Journal Online (via How Appealing) has an article about blawging titled Blogs as a Disruptive Technology which serves as both an introduction to blogging, particular as related to law practice, and predictions of their potential growth as tools.

On the academic side, for any other 1L's (or 1LE's, as in my case), here are some interesting articles I've found that provided good supplemental material to my current courses. You should be able to get these from Lexis or Westlaw, or the good old reliable law library. See my sideblog for occasional postings of other articles of interest to fellow law students.

"An Economic Theory of the Criminal Law," Richard A. Posner, 85 Colum. L. Rev. 1193, October 1985. Judge Posner takes Learned Hand's BPL formula from negligence liability and adapts it to assist in analyzing various approaches to criminal law and punishment systems. It can get a little weighty, but if you're pressed for time (aren't we all), gloss over the technical stuff just enough to get the idea, and stick with the discussions.

In "Positivism and the Notion of an Offense," (88 Calif. L. Rev. 335 [March 2000]), Claire Finkelstein takes a look at different methods of defining offenses, and the effects those changing definitions would have on Due Process, individual liberty and double jeopardy. She breaks her arguments down into very basic terms and discussions accessible to those of us new to the field.

The Hon. John C. Coughenour's "Canary In the Coal Mine: The Importance of the Trial Jury (26 Seattle Univ. L.R. 399 [Winter 2003]) is subtitled "Reflections on Russia's Revival of Trial by Jury: History Demands That We Ask Difficult Questions Regarding Terror Trials, Procedures to Combat Terrorism, and Our Federal Sentencing Regime." Judge Coughenour discusses the history of the jury system in Russian history, and compares the events surrounding each phase to events in US history and as they are unfolding today. He doesn't present any specific roadmaps for the future, but ends with a series of thought provoking questions which we will all hopefully keep in mind.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:52 PM
Friday, January 16, 2004

Fat and Sugar - The New Ketchup 

AP via Yahoo! News reports that US Health and Human Services opposes the World Health Organization's recommendations on reducing the level of obesity of the citizens of many of the world's nations.

Apparently WHO recommends eating more fruits and vegetables, eating less fat and sugar, limiting child-targeted food advertising, and encouraging citizens to eat healthier foods in general.

HHS objects to labeling fatty and sugary foods as targets for reduction, and prefers to emphasize that a healthy diet can include all foods, and prefers "emphasizing personal responsibility" in food and lifestyle choices.

My take on this: The WHO didn't say "eliminate all fat and sugar!" They simply said it should be reduced, and indeed I would say that "encouraging" people to eat healthier foods is encouraging people to assert "personal responsibility" in making those food choices. What would be the problem with providing people information with which they can make those responsibile food choices? The Bush administration's approach seems to be: Advertise the junk food all you want - people (especially children) should inherently be able to sense that the responsible choice would be to make healthy choices, which still includes fat- and sugar-laden foods of course, because there's a lot of money tied up in those industries.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:16 PM

TWOP Rules 

Major huge props to Deborah at Television Without Pity for the kick-ass recap of last week's Joan of Arcadia. I alternately teared up and laughed as many times reading it as I did watching it. The interweaving of the background lyrics with the visuals of the science fair were phenomenal. Laugh. Cry. Read it.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:59 PM

Tru Calling - Murder in the Morgue 

High points:
-Opening with her in mid-do-over.
-The woman she saved from being run over threatening to call her attorney about Tru stalking her.
-Meredith's car.
-Davis revealing why he works in the morgue.
-"They freak me out."
-Meredith's car.
-A few non-telegraphed plot points.
-Meredith breaks into tears and asks for help.
-Did I mention Meredith's car?

Low points:
-"I know what you're going through."
-Meredith arranges a back alley drug deal that far in advance?
-Meredith takes a taxi directly from her law office to a back alley drug deal?
-Repeatedly showing Tru activating the alarm on Meredith's car.
-Harrison not believing despite all the times she's proven it to him.
-Harrison believing (again) and turning it into all about Harrison (again).
-Meredith calls from a pay phone. Tru: I'lll be right there." Tru hangs up before finding out where is there.

Prediction which I fear will come to pass:
-Tru's mother is the person who previously saved Davis' life.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 12:54 AM
Thursday, January 15, 2004

Angel - Harm's Way 

Hee. I enjoy Harmony so much. It seems her reach always exceeds her grasp, and she knows it but just won't give up. Even back in Sunnydale, she so wanted to be the alpha of the in-crowd, but never had the long-range bitch vision and confidence that kept Cordy in the lead. The idea of her having minions after she was vamped simply made everyone laugh. When other characters were turned, the Scoobies always immediately approached them with the same caution and readiness to stake that they would accord a previously unknown vampire. But Harmony always provided good entertainment value more than any sort of dread and fight-readiness. When she was with Spike, she came across as a sympathetic character, because even though she was evil and so happy that she finally got the vampire equivalent of the star quarterback, she knew that he was treating her like shit. Part of her wanted something better, but part of her figured it was the price she had to pay and maybe it was what she deserved. I loved that she was part of the walking triangle of romantic sorrow at the end of "The Harsh Light of Day."

I think that inner turmoil of wanting something more and wanting to be liked for who she is, not what she can kill, is how she's been managing to stay off the human blood and playing relatively well with others for so long (8 months now, by her count). She wants a nice apartment and neighbors who chat with you on the way out to work, not a dingy lair with minions always expecting guidance and fresh kills. As she said last evening, she tried being evil, and "wasn't any good at it."

So she keeps trying to move that rubber tree plant of goodness, because even though she "doesn't have a soul, and has to work a lot harder at it," she's got high hopes, she's got hi-i-igh hopes...

High Points:
-Demonstration of Harm's vampire strength to find her shoe.
-Her jewel-encrusted thermos.
-Harmony makes Fred appear mature, wise and professional. The Guyfriend would add "and hot."
-"I totally owe you guys dinner."
-Harmony's fighting skills have improved since her Xander slap-fest.
-"Chanel. Is NOT. TACKY!"
-Threaten Harm's unicorns, and you're dust.
-The ritual splitting of the chopsticks.
-"That works for me." "I'm good."
-"She totally wanted me dead. I DO matter."

One thing that did bother me (and The Guyfriend agrees) is that Angel was being such an a-hole last night. It wasn't his usual dark broodiness, and it was beyond his usual dismissiveness of Harmony, and he's always at least been appreciative of her tasty spiced otter blend. I've decided to go with the notion that we were seeing the world through Harmony's eyes, and since Harmony felt she really didn't matter and that Angel hates her, that's what she sees. I'm wondering if we're going to see some changes in her now that she somehow managed to get a confidence boost from the fact that someone hated her enough to plot a grand scheme of destroying her.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:49 AM
Wednesday, January 14, 2004

E-mail Annoyances 

I got an e-mail today with a transcript of a statement made by US Federal District Court (MA) Chief Judge William Young during the sentencing hearing of Richard C. Reid. It was a very lengthy, patriotic, anti-terrorist and I would say inflammatory and rather non-judicial exhortation. But that's his prerogative. However, the e-mail also lambasts the media for not covering this statement on radio or TV.

I really can't speak for what was or was not broadcast on radio or TV that week, but it's not often that a District Court judge's statements such as this are indeed broadcast on either radio or TV. I usually get my news from the print media (or NPR), as those are the outlets better able to provide more in depth coverage. However, a quick and simple Google search let me to pages and pages of links, many of which were timely (same or next day) articles from major media outlets such as CNN, USA Today, and The Guardian. I was also able to locate what seemed to be the origin of the editorial - BushCountry.org. This is a website whose stated objective is " “Providing truthful, news and commentaries. We believe by educating our readers about the common sense that conservatism affords, we can help them use their own minds in interpreting the political landscape. This should effect the way they vote and help in bringing our nation back to it’s Judeo Christian roots.”

I won't go into detail on my thoughts on either the separation of church and state or incorrect grammar (it's vs. its). I will point out, however, that it is apparent that fulfilling their mission statement doesn't include providing the complete information with which their target audience can "use their own minds in interpreting the political landscape." Reminds me quite a lot of the MFI and their poll statistics.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 12:52 PM

Money Matters 

The NY Times reports that Pres. Bush will be promoting a $1.5 Billion initiative for next year to "help couples develop interpersonal skills that sustain 'healthy marriages.'"

AP via Yahoo reports that Pres. Bush will be requesting $1 Billion over 5 years for the new missions to the moon and perhaps Mars.

I'm all for the increase in the NASA budget. It simply astonishes me that he is looking to come up with 50% more money to promote "healthy" (aka heterosexual) marriages, while at the same time he's advocating amending the United States constitution in such a way as to restrict couples who are actively seeking the right to the recognition of their already healthy but not legally recognized relationships. The constitution is supposed to protect citizens from oppression from the majority, not to impose fear-based limitations on the citizens.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:32 AM
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Gigli 

I have to give the creators of Gigli credit. This isn't just a bad movie, it's a memorably bad movie. A standard bad film is one which you watch, perhaps checking the clock at some point, and then its over. It leaves no lasting residue in your brain. Soon you can recall only that you saw a bad picture recently -"What was it called..."

Gigli transcends this fleetingly recalled category. Some of the dialogue and plot holes are so dreadful that you find them permanently etched in your memory, from where you will frequently pull them in order to inform the world how bad it is. Unfortunately, its the kind of movie that you really have to see.

So during my vacation, we put Gigli at the top of the Netflix list and it arrived two days later.

Ben Affleck plays Larry Gigli, a low level mob thug who is assigned to kidnap the mentally disabled brother of a federal prosecutor. After the acquisition of said brother, Gigli is upset to discover that another contractor, Ricki (Jennifer Lopez), has been assigned to make sure he doesn't screw up. Although his pride is wounded at first and he lashes out angrily, he then decides that the situation isn't so bad, since he now has a hot chick seemingly at his disposal 24/7. On the occasion of their first bedtime, he flexes, preens and practices his lines in a dreadfully long mirror scene. He then puts the moves on Ricki, who deflates his balloon by informing Gigli that she is a lesbian. Hijinks ensue.

The unfortunate hijinks include bizarre dialogue, a cameo by Christopher Walken which leads nowhere, occasions where the characters' motivations eluded me entirely, an amusing but implausible cameo by Lainie Kazan, a couple of entirely predictable plot "twists" involving Baywatch and the entirely forced sexual tension between Ricki and Gigli, a moderately plausible (and of course well-acted on his part) cameo by Al Pacino (how they managed to sign him on I'll never know) and an ending that almost partially redeemed the preceeding film but which was followed by what appeared to be another scene tacked on after focus groups didn't like how it would have been left without it. Some of the dialogue and plot points are incredibly bad, but the badness doesn't really shine in print - live impersonations do the job much more nicely. Ask a friend who has seen it to recount the "pearls of wisdom" monologue. Leave the turkey time lines alone.

I have to admit that Ricki's monologue while she is quietly intimidating a group of teenage thugs was quite effective. Of course why they thought taking their much sought hostage out to breakfast in such a public place was a good idea... well, there you go.

I recall hearing that the ending was redone several times, and that some focus groups expressed a desire to see the two main characters suffer gruesome and painful deaths at the end. I think it would have been a better service to the world if the entire collection of raw footage had met a disfiguring and permanent shredding in the editing room. Since that didn't happen and the final product was unleashed on the world, you might want to check it out just to see how bad a wide-release movie can be.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:45 AM

Scooby Doo 2 Ditches Lesbian Subtext 

While Linda Cardellini's character Velma in Scooby Doo, The Movie was played as perhaps being in love with Sarah Michelle Gellar's Daphne (particularly in the deleted scenes and the original crooning in the nightclub scene), it would appear that such hopes will be dashed in Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. Sci Fi Wire reports that she will have a male love interest, who of course will also be a suspect.

The good news is that said love interest will be played by Seth Green, Buffy's very own laconic hero Oz. Huh.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:09 AM
Monday, January 12, 2004

Joss Whedon alumnae teaming up 

I saw two news items of interest on Sci Fi Wire today.

Marti Noxon, the sometimes loved, sometimes reviled former exec producer of Buffy is heading a new show, Still Life, on Fox. One of the stars of the new show is Morena Baccarin, formerly Inara on Firefly. Her character seems to be straight, so chances are we won't be getting any of the lesbian subtext (or all out text) that we were treated to on Firefly. Here's the full article.

In other news, Sarah Michelle Gellar is about to start filming on the remake of a Japanese horror movie, The Grudge. Full article here.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:17 AM

Lost In Translation 

I almost walked out of the theater in the middle of Lost In Translation, an act which for me has not occurred since 1982, when my high school friends and I decided to spend an evening of our first holiday break from college seeing Caligula.

What kept me in the theater (aside from my reluctance to concede defeat to The Girl's pre-viewing predictions) was that when I wasn't bored out of my skull to the point of saying "Oh, move it along" out loud, I was enjoying the movie. It was as if a very talented group of writers produced a set of hysterical sketches, then handed them over to a group of stoners to come up with a vehicle in which to showcase the sketches.

Lost In Translation follows Bob Harris (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) as they muddle their way through the downtime on their respective business trips to Japan. A large part of the tale is spent demonstrating how bored, alone and unable to sleep they each are. Their boredom was most definitely not lost in translation. It reached out from the screen and dragged me into its web.

The film comes to life when Bob and Charlotte interact, either with each other or on their own with the people they meet. The scene in which the highly animated and extensive instructions given by the director in Japanese for the commercial Bob is shooting are conveyed as "More energy" by the staffer assigned to translate as well as Bob's appearance on a local Japanese youth-oriented talk show are fabulous, and Bob's solo venture into the hotel's gym had my laughing uncontrollably. And I really mean uncontrollably - I tried to stop and couldn't, to the point I thought I would pass out from lack of oxygen. On the more introspective side, the quiet scene with Charlotte wandering in to a flower arranging class, and the day trip to Kyoto were entrancing.

But these wonderful moments were linked together with overly long scenes, such as Bob clicking through the TV channels in his hotel room at 3 am. I was reminded of About Schmidt, another movie which I would have enjoyed if the silent scenes in which we watched Jack Nicholson driving or staring at a clock had been edited down a bit.

I'd highly recommend this movie once it comes out on DVD, or if you can Tivo it off of cable. That way you can rapid-fire through the slow scenes once you've gotten the idea (you'll know it's time when you shout, "I GET IT" at the screen), and replay the good scenes over and over.

Reality Check: The Girl didn't want to see it, would have run from the theater if I had suggested it, and responds with, "Uck - it was AWFUL" when asked.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:31 AM
Sunday, January 11, 2004

Mona Lisa Smile 

I saw Mona Lisa Smile when it first opened, and have been putting off writing up my comments. I was having difficulty wording my thoughts so as not to reveal too much about the story. But I got a little prompting from jeanneatsundance, so here goes.

I really liked this movie. It was an enjoyable couple of hours which gave me a lot to ponder, and which was interesting in that it didn't take the predictable path in most of the storylines. I recommend it to everyone who likes chick flicks, and especially to anyone who attended a women's college (as I did). I'd definitely see it again.

Rather than being the story of a larger than life heroic teacher/professor who sweeps in and changes everyone's lives (think Dead Poet's Society), Mona Lisa Smile tells the story of Katherine Watson (Julia Roberts), an art history professor from Oakland, CA who finds herself teaching at Wellesley College. Rather than being larger than life, Katherine is simply determined that life can be larger than what is expected in 1950's mainstream America. She meets great resistance from the administration, the alumnae and most shocking to Katherine, the students.

The four students who feature in the story are played by Julia Stiles, Kirsten Dunst, Maggie Gyllenhall and Ginnifer Goodwin. At first they seem like rather thinly written stock characters, but as the story progresses they each reveal that there's more there than you would have thought at first. You'll have mixed emotions about each one of them, but they pull you along for a great ride.

What particularly endears me to this film is that the characters have profound, but in some cases quietly understated, influences on each other. It's about working through the conflicts everyone faces between the desire to be true to themselves and their fear of the consequences if they do. Is self-determation worth the possible loss of social status, employment and comfort of fitting in? Are your personal goals of less value if they actually do mesh with mainstream expectations, or are you selling out without admitting it? These were questions my classmates and I were still wrestling with in the mid-80's.

There's one acknowledged lesbian character, who serves two purposes: provide Katherine with amusing but cynical insights into Wellesley politics, and demonstrate what can result when you live by sticking to your principle, consequences be damned. Jaded lesbian as cautionary tale...

I've heard and read disparaging remarks on the "You can bake your cake and eat it too!" line, as a weak embodiment of the "you can have it all" mindset. I found this line to be more an expression of Katherine's desperation to find a way for one of her students to achieve her academic and professional potential while still pursuing the expected paths. The scene marked for me the beginning of Katherine's own growth in realizing that everyone does have to take their own path, even if that path doesn't venture as far from Main Street as Katherine herself would prefer.

Reality Check: The Girl loved this one at first, but as time has passed she has modified her opinion to it was okay.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:09 PM
Saturday, January 10, 2004

MA Gay Marriage Poll Manipulated 

Now we all know that statistics can be worked to show anything you want. That's why it's so important to reveal all your data, so others can take a look at how you drew your conclusions and whether those conclusions are reasonable. 365Gay.com (courtesy of The Gay New England Daily Blog) has published this article titled "Conservative Group Admits Twisting Gay Marriage Poll."

At a rally at the MA state house this week, the Massachusetts Family Institute revealed some statistics that seemed to support their cause of amending the MA constitution to ban gay marriage. The polling company, Zogby, has since released the full data and stated that this is standard practice for advocacy groups. When presented with the full results, the MFI's stated conclusions are rather shaky.

To top it off, MFI is standing by their decision to present the selected results while not making the rest available at all, and is apparently pondering legal action against Zogby for the disclosure.

I have a deep conviction that all groups have a right to their positions, and a right to discuss those positions respectfully in a public forum. Such discussions cannot take place if relevant information is deliberately withheld or quashed. If the MFI wasn't happy with the full results of their poll, they could have highlighted what they did like and quietly make the full data available for those willing to dig it up and analyze it, or not released any of it. Either make it all available or keep it out of the discussion entirely.


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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:47 AM

Joan of Arcadia - Jump 

Still loving this show! Dialogue that on Tru Calling would be schmaltzy and productive of eye rolling, on Joan is touching and productive of eye welling if not all out tears. Did anyone not cry and laugh at the same time along with Joan and Rocky's mom at the funeral?

I love how they just develop the characters, not force them and their exposition down our throats. We can comprehend that Joan and Grace have been continuing their growth as friends by Grace's echoing the Chief's "koala bears?" comment later in the show. When her dad said it, Joan replied that she hadn't had that nightmare since she was five. When Grace said it, we the viewers can make the connection that at some point Joan has shared with Grace the memory of her childhood nightmare.

On Tru Calling, Grace's comment would have sparked a flashback to the Chief's comment and Joan's response, followed by Joan also reminding Grace that she hasn't had that dream since she was five, but that it's great Grace remembered Joan telling her about it, and that Joan is "sogladthatthey'vebecomethebestoffriends!" probably followed by a quick hug. And can you imagine the amount of flashbacks we would have been saddled with during the scene where we learn that Roebuck has accepted the Under Sheriff's job? And the basketball scene? Oof.

But back to Joan, where they stick with a simple exchange, silent acknowledgment, and move on with the story. This is just such a freaking good show.

High Points:
-"Koala bears?"
-Luke leaving a message with Grace's rabbi father about them spending the night together to build a gun.
-Joan's funeral monologue.
-"I need a beverage."
-Hospital Staff God's scene
-The good ripple letter.
-Ms. Lischak's daring rescue of Glynis.
-Ms. Lischak and Glynis covered in goo after the daring rescue.
-Joan and Adam kiss.

I had to replay Ms. Lischak and Glynis popping back into the picture several times while I laughed hysterically. The Girl thought I had gone over the edge. Maybe it's just me, but that was one of the funniest things I've seen. The look on Glynis' face was amazing! Shock at her near death experience, gratitude that Ms. Lischak put herself in danger to save her, incredible disappointment that her science fair project is destroyed, and astonishment that the rail gun actually worked.

I'm still processing the closing montage. Part of me was saying "Awwwww, nice" when Adam and Joan kissed, part of me was thrown by the surprise of it (I totally didn't see it coming), and part of me was wallowing in my disappointment that they've now had Grace kiss Luke and Joan kiss Adam when what I really wanted was for Grace to kiss Joan! Oh well, I can still hope for there to be lingering sexual tension among the various characters.

The only subplot I think they're forcing a bit is the Kevin-Rebecca storyline. It's usually accompanied by some predictable dialogue and a little too much exposition. But it's still well done, and it's always good to have a slight mar in the perfection so as not to offend the gods.

Next week: Party at Joan's!!!

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:38 AM
Friday, January 09, 2004

Tru Calling - Closure 

Since last evening's episode of Tru Calling was more of a personal growth episode than a whodunnit, Schmaltzy Speechifying filled in for the usually featured Obvious Misdirection. But fear not - Gratuitous Skimpy Outfit still made an appearance. Not that I really minded that.

I had high(er) hopes for this episode at the start. Tru's expositional dialogue with Davis was quippy, her mood was lighter, and Tru seemed to have accepted her Slayer calling... I mean her Gift of helping dead people. I guess Not Death is her Gift . They even seemed to be going in a new direction in sibling dynamics for a while, since Tru was the one avoiding issues while Harrison and Meredith took some (half-assed) steps to deal with things. But by the final phone message to Dad, Tru was back to her usual broody, overly-emoting, most-insightful-of-all, burdened-and-troubled but grateful-nonetheless self.

Inevitable Questions: Since Tru took such care in analyzing the news clipping from Dead Jake's pocket JUST BEFORE she flashed back, why did she forget about it until it conveniently popped back into her head? She said in the Romy and Juliet episode that she makes a point of memorizing all the details in case she needs to recall them after warping back, which she demonstrated by rattling off the license plate number. Yet she temporarily forgets one of the two items lifted from Dead Jake?

When the doctor (after inexplicably revealing confidential medical information to a total stranger - although she was in a very tight, very short nurse's uniform at the time) mentions that Jake has no relatives, did anyone out there not anticipate the immediate flashback to her reading the clipping? When Bridget lamented not having heard from Jake since he shipped out, did anyone doubt that Mean Dad sent the telegram? Why would Tru be so eager to help Davis get in good with the drug abusing Meredith? But since she was giving him date tips in spite of this, perhaps she should have made sure he knew that he was meant to use this information to spur conversation, not to impersonate his date?

How is Tru always able to get campus Registrars to give her the exact location for students? Do the students all have GPS transmitters embedded in their hands? Why would a professor know off the top of his head Bridget's schedule for picking up Phillip from daycare? Why does she feel that she can "almost" refer to Luc as her boyfriend? They seem clearly to have moved into the boyfriend phase of the relationship.

And, as always, why do they feel the need to recap the first half hour of the show immediately after we've watched it? Will the writers ever step up to make this the great show it could be?

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:48 AM
Thursday, January 08, 2004

Mulholland Drive 

The Girl was telling me about a bizarre dream she had the other night (the details of which I won't reveal here), and she speculated that it would be wild if you could have your dreams turned into a film. They'd make sense, but then get strange and illogical, then make a little sense, and on and on. I immediately replied that I think that's exactly what David Lynch does.

Back when Mulholland Drive was garnering all sorts of awards, The Girl agreed to go see it at a local art house cinema (they have the BEST popcorn), even though she adamantly clung to her opinion that she didn't care what awards it was getting, it's David Lynch and he's psychotic. Nevertheless, off we went.

So the story is moving along, and while it did have some Lynchian oddness, it was actually shaping up nicely into both a suspenseful mystery and a nice lesbian love story. I was speculating about how it would turn out, I was rooting for the characters, when BAM!!! It went into full Lynch mode. Not only did it go off into all different directions, with a cast of bizarre characters and flashbacks, but it managed totally to take all the enjoyment I had been reaping from the film to that point out to the back of the theater, beat it to a pulp, turn it inside out and upside down, and throw it back into the theatre, slowly to stew into a bitter resentment.

My theory is that David Lynch's dreams make sense, and that the first part of the movie was a big-screen depiction of one of those dreams, but then the end was what he created after he woke up. Of course he had to impose the responsibility for the dream onto one of his characters, just to tie it all together.

If you see a little wooden box on your nightstand, just let it be. Silencio.

Reality Check: As I think you could guess, The Girl not only hated the movie, but loves to remind me that she warned me. The Guyfriend is adding it to his Netflix list, just to see what he thinks of it.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:03 PM

Vermont Civil Unions Didn't Cause Havoc. Huh. 

USA Today has an article about Vermont civil unions causing neither a gay invasion into the state nor a rash of legal battles since their institution in July 2000. Apparently the opposition groups have been on the decline - half the lawmakers elected on a civil union backlash platform have since lost re-election. Hopefully the recalcitrant Massachusetts legislators will take a look at the article.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 5:44 AM
Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow 

I saw the trailer for Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow before Return of The King. Oh. My. God. I cannot wait until August when it's scheduled to be released. It's retro yet futuristic, alternates between black/white and color, has amazing effects yet a very old-fashioned gritty feel. The Girl is steadfastly refusing to attend, despite my insistent sleeve-pulling throughout the trailer. The Guyfriend is floored and counting the days to the premier.

You can see the trailer at the official website (linked above). It takes a bit of time to load, but is worth it. Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie. Geekroar has some nice screen captures posted if you don't have time for the trailer. What can I say about Angelina's character? Flying Ace with an abundance of confidence, snug uniform and an eye patch. This description has swayed more than one person onto the "can't wait to see it" side of the fence. Her one line in the trailer ("I always wanted to meet the competition"), plus the descent of the dirigible and the sea of hands pointing as one to the darkening sky combine to have me swooning.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:07 PM

Skin Care Tip 

Apparently I've been turned into a skin care monster, or so goes the rumor The Girl is spreading. When we were in San Francisco this summer, we got some sample Boscia skin care products from a little store on Castro Street. They sat in our medicine cabinet until a few weeks ago, when I finally tried a few out. They're fabulous!!! I've tried out the cleansing cream and the facial polish. Then The Girl gave me some Clinique products for Christmas, and now I have this whole morning and evening skin care regimen - who would have thought I'd become a girlie-girl?

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:22 AM

Continuing movies on vacation - The Last Samurai 

The Last Samurai was also excellent, although I'd rate Cold Mountain (see below) higher overall. The Last Samurai stars Tom Cruise as former Union Army Captain Nathan Algren, who was in the 7th Cavalry under Custer during the horrific campaigns against Native Americans. Just after having an alcohol assisted meltdown while demonstrating the Winchester rifle to a crowd eager to see a "genuine hero," Algren is approached by his former commanding officer to travel to Japan in order to train the Japanese army.

While in Japan, Algren continues to clash with his commanding officer, and is captured during battle against the remaining Samurai warriors. During his stay in their remote village (he must remain until the spring), he learns of their culture, attempts to deal with his own past rather than numbing the memories, and develops an internal value system that functions beyond the next payday.

While at times Algren is portrayed a little too much as the troubled but still heroic soldier seeking honor, fortunately the film doesn't fall into the trap of holding up the "other" culture as perfectly noble and enlightened while vilifying the West as the sole haven for greedy capitalist exploiters... Okay, so maybe it goes there a little bit, but overall the two cultures are portrayed as being only as good or bad as the individuals within it. Those individuals are a mixed lot, as is any society.

Reality Check: The Girl enjoyed this movie, even though it's both a period piece and involves samurai-fu action sequences. She wouldn't rush out to see it again, but she went willingly and didn't regret it.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:42 AM
Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Movies On Vacation - Cold Mountain 

Caught several movies during my holiday time off.

Cold Mountain was excellent!! It explores the lives of several individuals from a small South Carolina town during the Civil War, working through alternating timeframes. Some characters struggle to hold on to their hopes and moral center, others exploit an opportunity to wield their newly found power over those around them, and others find themselves shedding their ethics for survival in the uncertainty of the times. It's an interesting companion film to The Last Samurai, which takes place after the Civil War but also deals with moral and ethical struggles in the face of life-threatening situations. Cold Mountain should be an Oscar nominee in any number of categories, but especially for Renee Zellwegger in her supporting role of Ruby - she brings life and humor to the screen to keep the film and the audience from falling into despair.

Reality Check: The Girl loved this movie as much as me. The story, the acting, the cinematography and soundtrack overruled any qualms she might have with it being a period piece which goes back and forth in time.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 4:35 PM

Religious discrimination case by anti-gay H-P employee dismissed 

9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirms lower court's dismissal of religious discrimination charge against Hewlett-Packard by anti-gay employee.

Opinion for Peterson v. Hewlett-Packard Co.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:33 PM