Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Work Project - Check 

Well, I just e-mailed copies of the various documents I produced for this work project I have due this week. Phew. Now let's see if tomorrow between work and class I can get caught up on the school reading I didn't do today. I'm really looking forward to the long weekend coming up. Plus I'm going to see my niece's college field hockey team play in the Boston area on Saturday. She's one of the team captains this year. Yes, we take our field hockey seriously here in the Northeast. I played from 7th grade through college, and my mother played on her high school team in the late 1930's. And yes, I do still have several of my sticks and hockey balls. I may have to dig out one of my old team jackets to wear. Although the college one is an unfortunately bright, highlighter-like yellow. They were supposed to be gold, but shortly after they arrived we had been dubbed the Flying Lemons. Oh well, such is life.

At least that work is done so I now have time once again to ponder these large questions.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:43 PM

No Time for RNC - Mixed Emotions 

I'm quite swamped this week, with many obligations at both work and school, so I find that I'm not able to watch any of the Republican National Convention. I really wish I could devote as much time as I did to the DNC earlier this summer, but then again perhaps it's all for the best. I feel it's important to know what is being said on all sides of the issues, but watching many hours of this stuff for several days in a row might cause my head to explode. Or send me off on so many spontaneous and nonending responses (aka rants of outrage) that The Girl might sever the Comcast cable.

So I've reached a compromise with myself. I've had NPR on all day while I'm working, so I can at least hear discussion about the previous night's events, and hear interviews with various people involved. This way I can at least have an idea of what's going on. I managed to sit through interviews with both Rick Santorum and Phyllis Schlaffly today. Oy. But no viewing of Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday's televised coverage. In exchange, I'm Tivoing about 5 hours of CSPAN coverage Thursday night while I'm in class, then I'll watch all of that last night's events over the weekend. The Girl will be off on a weekend golf trip, so I won't have to worry about driving her crazy with all the play, pause, rewind, play again, blog in disbelief, continue.

Now, back to work for me...

Posted by Beth Henderson at 3:47 PM

Laura Branigan, 1957-2004 

Laura Branigan, the Grammy-nominated singer responsible for "all the voices in your head singing Gloria," died suddenly last Thursday of a brain aneurysm. After releasing seven albums in the 80's and 90's, she had stepped away from performing from 1996-2001, when she hit Broadway as Janis Joplin in "Love, Janis." She had also been working on pieces for a new release.

Amazon link:

Posted by Beth Henderson at 5:41 AM
Monday, August 30, 2004

Deadlines and Commitments 

Why do I have to have a full-time job? Why can't I just go to classes and study? I absolutely love being a law student, but there's that whole problem of paying the rent, tuition, and other such nettlesome things.

Today I've got this big deadline looming over my head. It's been looming away for the last week or so, but it's becoming rather ominous at this point, since the project is due by start-of-day Wednesday. Much of my weekend was spent being torn between studying and working, and thinking of one while doing the other.

Sigh. I know - just get it done.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:07 AM
Friday, August 27, 2004

Extrajudicial Interpretation 

Gary D. Rowe has an informative article, "Mayors, Judges and the Constitution," over at The Williams Project of the UCLA School of Law, in which he takes a look at the history of extrajudicial intepretation of the Constitution, often in the form of civil disobedience, as an important factor in the development of this vital document. Included in his discussion are the actions of James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, abolitionists, Susan B. Anthony, and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newson. From the article:
These Americans, not to mention their less well-known contemporaries, regularly turned to the public sphere to reject statutes and existing judicial interpretations that violated their considered but contested understandings of the Constitution. Assertions such as theirs are a vital aspect of American constitutionalism, at least as important as the work of judges. What is truly remarkable is that these activists did not reject the Constitution, but instead embraced it, again and again, in order to claim equal rights. This, not a demand for orderliness above all else, has been the Constitution's lifeblood, enabling it to endure.
Prof. Rowe teaches constitutional history and constitutional law at UCLA School of Law.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:58 AM

Best.Lesbian.Week.Ever. 8/27 

Check out this week's AfterEllen.com column for news about, well, Ellen! And Anne Heche. After Ellen. She's back on tv for a Treat. There's also a release date for D.E.B.S., and news about a new tv role for Justine Bateman, and more.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:58 AM
Thursday, August 26, 2004

Headline Confusion in Oregon 

A Yahoo! headline grabbed my attention just now: "Ore. County Gays to Get Marriage Licenses." So I flipped over to the article to check it out. I had heard earlier in the day that Benton County, which had earlier stopped issuing marriage licenses to anyone since they were being prevented from issuing them to gay couples, had been ordered to resume issuing licenses. But the earlier report I heard on the radio stated that the order issued by Senior Judge Wayne R. Harris hadn't mentioned same sex couples, and that it was expected that only opposite sex couples would be able to receive licenses.

This article, despite the headline, says the same thing. So what's up with the headline stating the complete opposite?

Posted by Beth Henderson at 5:32 PM

US Constitution for iPod 

The American Constitution Society is making available copies of the United States Constitution formatted for downloading into your iPod. How cool is that? Alas, I have a Nomad Jukebox, so will not be able to take advantage of this. I'm working on getting a different version loaded onto my Palm, however.

Amazon links:

Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:47 PM

RNC Platform and Other Preparations 

I was going to put up an in depth post on the latest in RNC platform news, but really, what's the point? Is anyone surprised that:

-The platform committee approved the plank calling for a Federal Marriage Amendment and opposes recognition of same-sex unions?

-The platform committe rejected the proposed "Unity Plank?"

-That the GOP doesn't approve of its delegates getting discounted tickets to see the gay-themed and long-running Broadway show Naked Boys Singing? You're going to have to pay full price now, folks.

I admit that I didn't expect to see the list of moderate Republicans such as Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Arnold Schwarzenegger appended with the name Dick Cheney. But now that he has reiterated his earlier stance against a Federal Marriage Amendment, that's the company he's being slotted into by FMA advocates such as Andrea Lafferty and Gary Bauer.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:58 AM
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Renewed Hope for Charmed 

I followed a sideblog note on being jennifer garrett and discovered that Charisma Carpenter will be a guest star for at least two episodes of this coming season of Charmed. According to IMDB, the episodes will be "Cheaper By the Coven" on September 26, and "Styx Feet Under" (Ha! I like this title) sometime in October. The show's season premiere is Sunday, September 12 at 8 pm.

By the end of last season I pretty much just didn't care anymore. The characters and storylines bored me. There was a brief flare of renewed interest in one of the last episodes, but it fizzled again. But the addition of Charisma Carpenter is reeling me back in. It sounds like her character will be interesting and entertaining, with some sizzle and sass. Sort of like Cordelia before they made her all good and sweet and shiny.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:37 PM
Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Constitutional Clamor 

One of my classmates has taken on the position of co-president of the just revived NESL chapter of The Federalist Society. The odd thing about this is that he is in general a very lefty kind of person. We were among the first to arrive in the classroom last evening, and had a lengthy discussion about his choice not only to join but to lead a chapter of this conservative organization.

He is holding firm to the concept that the Federalist Society welcomes debate and discussion on constitutional issues, and that if their philosophy is applied rationally, they would come to the same conclusions as more liberal organizations. An example he gave was his opinion that the Federalist philosophy leads to an agreement with the Goodridge decision which paved the way for gay marriage here in Massachusetts.

He may be correct, in an ideal world where political views don't have influence on legal analysis, but that's not the case. Yes, the Federalist Society does feature speakers who hold views other than that promoted by the group, but these speakers are presented in the (admirable) spirit of open debate. Welcoming debate is not the same as agreeing with or embracing views.

Check out the Purpose page of The Federalist Society. Their first bullet point:
"Law schools and the legal profession are currently strongly dominated by a form of orthodox liberal ideology which advocates a centralized and uniform society. While some members of the academic community have dissented from these views, by and large they are taught simultaneously with (and indeed as if they were) the law."

One of their stated goals is:
"reordering priorities within the legal system to place a premium on individual liberty, traditional values, and the rule of law. It also requires restoring the recognition of the importance of these norms among lawyers, judges, and law professors."

Sorry, but I just can't see this group (whose leaders include Robert Bork and Orrin Hatch) ever coming to the conclusion that the Goodridge opinion is correct. Sen. Hatch makes this point quite clear on his website. The American Prospect has an informative article about the impact The Federalist Society has been having in recent years.

So now I'm considering starting up an NESL chapter of the American Constitution Society as an alternative to The Federalist Society. From their Mission Statement:
Founded in 2001, ACS is comprised of law students, lawyers, scholars, judges, policymakers, activists and other concerned individuals who are working to ensure that the fundamental principles of human dignity, individual rights and liberties, genuine equality, and access to justice are in their rightful, central place in American law.

I have a feeling there's going to be a lot of discussion this year on the subject. We've only had one day of classes so far, and already it's been a hot topic. I don't at all agree with those who are, frankly, pissed off about The Federalist Society gaining a presence. All views are welcome. Better to know what views people hold and have a debate on the subject. I just want to make sure that all views get a say in the matter.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:24 PM
Monday, August 23, 2004

Back to School Supplies 

At lunchtime today The Guyfriend and I took a trip to Target so I could purchase some back to school supplies. The Girl found this idea very amusing when I told her about our plans earlier in the day. I think it had something to do with my tone of voice when I said "back to school supplies." I was only picking up a few pocket folders with prongs for 3-hole paper, but I was really looking forward to it.

Yes, classes are starting in a few hours, and I was just getting around to this now. I had to get through the torture of the Big Book Purchases first. That took a few weeks plus several trips and phone calls to the bookstore before I finally got all my required texts ($425 all told). But picking up the pocket folders, that was another story altogether!

I had no choice in the text books. They're required, they're expensive, and I must have them. Period. They're big, bulky, heavy, and look like all the rest of the texts in the store.

But pocket folders!!! I can choose the style, the color, the material, the extras, and how many. I can decide which one is for which class. Perhaps a particular class will call for more than one folder? That is unknown until the professor's handout habits become more clear. Yes, choice of pocket folders is a way to express your own personality in the sea of standardization and requirements.

Plus while I was examining my choices this little girl, maybe 8 years old, hurled herself across the aisle to look at the same folders, followed more calmly by her older and more mature sister (maybe 10 years old). This led to a lengthy discussion in which the various styles were compared, and pros weighed against cons. It was a very 13 Going On 30 moment. Or in this case, more like 10 Going On 40. But you get the idea. All this excitement and good vibes, and I exited the store with four pocket folders in a variety of colors to suit my moods, to the tune of $0.63. Yes, that's right - 63 cents.

Call me a geek, but I am so looking forward to the resumption of classes. Thirty minutes to the school bus... I mean the T bus.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:50 PM

Welcome to the Dollhouse 

Another of our weekend Netflix rentals was Welcome to the Dollhouse, Heather Matarazzo's 1995 breakout movie. This film is described as a dark comedy, but the emphasis is definitely more on the dark and less on the comedy. But they're consistent, the comedy is indeed dark as well.

Matarazzo plays 7th grader Dawn Wiener, who is the focus of all the middle school taunting, bullying and humilation that her classmates can dish out. Her home life is also an adolescent nightmare, with an overbearing mother, a spineless father, an overachieving older brother and a cute-as-pie, ballet dancing little sister. Eric Mabius of The L Word makes an appearance as the high school boy of Dawn's dreams. Glad he's no longer sporting the mullet.

Everyone plays their roles well, and Matarazzo is excellent, but I just found this movie so stressful. I've read that the audience response varies depending on the middle school/junior high experience of the viewer. Personally, I'm in the "I was Dawn" camp. The Girl was not. I found many of the scenes upsetting and disturbing, she was kind of bored. I laughed at the moments of dark humor, she was kind of bored. Neither of us was very satisfied with the ending, which just sort of, well, ended.

If you're looking for a Revenge of the Nerds or Real Genius kind of story where the underdog emerges victorious (as Dawn does during her periodic fantasies), don't look for it here. If you're looking to relive your adolescent torment, or if you're having trouble describing it to your friends who didn't suffer the same fate in their tween and teen years, this would be the one to get.

Movie connection trivia: Before Heather Matarazzo played Dawn in Welcome to the Dollhouse, she was in The Adventures of Pete & Pete, as was Michelle Trachtenberg, who went on to play a different kind of Dawn on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Amazon links:

Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:38 AM
Sunday, August 22, 2004

How I Read My Summer Vacation 

Just so you can see what a well-rounded geek I really am, here are the books I read this summer, roughly in order. The ones I can remember at this point, anyway.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 12:29 PM

How I Spent My Summer Vacation 

Classes start tomorrow. Back in April I set out a number of goals for the summer. Didn't really complete many of them.

-I did make it to the gym. A few times. And I walked a lot. Didn't really have an impact on the BMI or the couture, however.
-The kayak still languishes beneath the basement stairs.
-Sky Captain isn't opening until September 17. Which is a Friday, so I might hit the opening day.
-The guitars and piano sit untouched.
-I did read many books, mostly fluff. It took me a while to get off the legal stuff, but I managed eventually.
-Went to the beach or state park a couple of times.
-My Italian skills remain the same. Avete una tavola per due, per favore? Ah, grazie!
-Left off the original list inadvertently was catching up on movies. Clearly this was largely accomplished.
-Added to the working list was to view the first three seasons of Queer As Folk on DVD. Mission accomplished! Finished them off last week.
-Also added late in the summer was to get the apartment squared away and organized. Finished that up (mostly - don't ask about the laundry room/storage area of the basement. But the music room area looks fabulous!).

But most importantly, The Girl and I spent a lot of time enjoying each other's company, something that will be in short supply soon enough. So all in all, that means that the really important stuff was tended to. The rest is just icing.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 12:07 PM

13 Going on 30 

We finally watched this one the other day, and I loved it. I was in a bit of a cranky mood over the evening prior to watching this. Nothing specific, I had simply become a grump. After dinner we popped 13 Going on 30 into the DVD player, and flopped on the couches. About halfway through we decided to pause long enough to dish up some Ben & Jerry's, and it was like I had received an emotional transfusion. I was up, happy, optimistic, cheery. The Girl may have been wondering if I was experiencing sudden onset, rapid cycling manic depression, but it was nothing more than the power of film.

Jennifer Garner plays Jenna Rink, an intelligent and optimistic but not quite popular 13 year old. Through some emotional upheaval, a teenage tantrum and some magic wish dust, she wakes up the next day as a 30-year-old version of herself, now living in NYC and working as a high powered publishing executive. The premise is similar to Big, of course, but this one takes a different approach. In Big, Tom Hanks' character is the only one that suffers the time displacement. He wakes up exactly where his adolescent self went to sleep, even wearing the same pajamas, but physically he is now an adult. He then goes to NYC to figure out the solution, gets himself a job, and slowly establishes himself in the adult world.

Jenna Rink instead did a time jump. Everything has advanced 17 years, except for her mind and memories. She finds herself in the world she created over the ensuing years, and must learn to deal with the ramifications of everything she has done but of which she has no recollection. Plus she's seeing everything through the eyes of her just-turned-13 self. She hasn't gone through all the events that occur during the teen years, the shifting friendships, the growing apart of friends, the compromises of life, or the temptations of power.

What makes this one great is Jennifer Garner. She made me believe that she really was 13-year-old Jenna, who looked out at the world and saw only possibilities, who could be happy as a clam just getting her best friend Mattie to dance to Thriller with her. There are a number of scenes where she's interacting with young teenagers, and she doesn't seem to be an adult pretending to be a kid in an adult's body. She just seems to be a teenager who had her growth spurt really early. Her performance is right up there with Jamie Lee Curtis in Freaky Friday.

Excellent performances as well by the supporting cast of Mark Ruffalo (who is currently working on the untitled semi-sequal to The Graduate with Jennifer Aniston) and Judy Greer (who is also in The Village, as the older sister to Bryce Dallas Howard's character).

Bottom line - it's fun summer fluff. Nothing deep, no Academy Award nominations, but if you're looking for something to lift your spirits, look no further.

Reality check: The Girl enjoyed it, but not as much as I did. She just doesn't get as carried away with stories as I do. Plus there was the whole time-jumping thing, which doesn't really do it for her.

Amazon links:

Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:05 AM
Saturday, August 21, 2004

Best. Lesbian. Week. Ever. 8/20/04 

This week's edition of Best. Lesbian. Week. Ever. over at AfterEllen.com has some great little tid-bits. Check it out to read about Olympic cyclist Judith Arndt, the latest Sarah Waters' book to head for the BBC, L Word insider info, Survivor, wedding announcement trends, lesbians on soap operas and my favorite, a link to a great NY Times article on Alexandra Hedison and Ellen Degeneres. It's sort of "An evening with..." sort of piece.

Early this summer I was catching up on episodes of 7 Days that had been running on Spike TV, when I was pleasantly surprised to see that the guest star of one episode was none other than Alexandra Hedison. The episode was "Daddy's Girl," and she was playing an Air Force pilot who doesn't know she is the illegitimate daughter of the Vice-President, and who has been captured in Bosnia (it's from 1999). She was good.

Amazon links:

The L Word: Season 1 DVD

Posted by Beth Henderson at 3:36 AM
Friday, August 20, 2004

Some 2LE Books 

I've heard the bookstore has run out of a number of textbooks for this semester. If any classmates are looking for them online, here are some direct Amazon links for a few of them.


Legal Research & Writing II: ALWD Manual

Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:53 PM

BloodRayne: The Movie 

A little news piece in today's Advocate mentioned that filming has started in Romania on BloodRayne, with a script by Guinevere Turner. Does anyone else still picture her as Max in Go Fish? Kristanna Loken stars, along with Ben Kingsley, Michelle Rodriguez and Michael Masden.

This is based on the computer game of the same name, but is a prequel to it. I'm not a gamer myself, but The Guyfriend assures me that it's a very cool one. The game is set in WWII Germany, and BloodRayne is a Dhampir, a human-vampire hybrid, who hunts down both vampires and Nazis.

The movie tells the story of her origins, and is set in 18th century Romania. Abandoned at birth, she ends up in a circus sideshow. There she is discovered by vampire hunters, who persuade her to join them in their cause. IMDB shows it as targeted for a 2005 release. I'm looking forward to it, but I'm sure The Girl will have a different opinion...

Amazon links:

Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:23 AM
Thursday, August 19, 2004

RNC Theme: Safer World, More Hopeful America 

Every good party needs a theme, and the Republicans have now announced the theme for their upcoming national convention. "Fulfilling America's Promise: Building a Safer World and a More Hopeful America." Doesn't exactly roll of the tongue, now does it? It's actually a more verbose, paranoid version of the Democrats recent theme: "Stronger At Home, Respected in the World." While the DNC theme projects images of a reinvigorated and confident nation, the RNC theme brings to mind a nation cowering in the corner, despondent and fearful. They couldn't even propose simply a "Hopeful America," but instead are aiming for a "More Hopeful America." Don't want to get the people's hopes too high, after all.

In addition, each day will have a sub-theme, similar to the DNC.

On Monday, August 30, we will pay tribute to the courage of a nation that has seen unprecedented challenges over the last three and a half years and the president who led the nation through these historic times.

Translation: We've been through the wringer during this presidential term, and George W. Bush is the one who led us into it.

On Tuesday, August 31, the Republican National Convention will focus on the compassion of the American people and the uniquely American belief that our best days lie ahead.

Translation: President Bush hasn't really followed through on that compassionate conservative business that helped get him elected. But the American people at large really can be compassionate, so let's focus on them instead. And let's hope that the days ahead are at least better than the ones we're going through right now.

On Wednesday, September 1, Sen. Zell Miller (D-GA), will deliver the convention's keynote address. Sen. Miller will speak about the land of opportunity created by President Bush's pro-growth, pro-American worker, pro-American entrepreneur agenda....Vice President Cheney will be the featured speaker on Wednesday. He will speak to the administration's record of creating opportunity for all Americans and the president's vision for spreading freedom around the world to ensure our safety at home.

Translation: This land is your land, this land is my land. Nothing like a sing-a-long to bring folks together. Just look at Senator Zell Miller, coming on over from the Democratic party to keynote the RNC! As far as the vision thing? "This land was your land, but now it's my land. I'm taking over so you'll have to like me. If we hold your pursestrings, then you won't bo-omb me. Your land will now belong to me." Come on - sing along!

On Thursday, September 2, President George W. Bush will lay out his vision for the next four years - a vision that will help build a safer world and a more hopeful America. President Bush will build on his record of accomplishment with new and innovative ideas to spread opportunity and prosperity to all corners of our country. Drawing inspiration from the courage and compassion of all Americans, the president will talk about his plan for building a safer world by spreading freedom around the globe.

Translation: Replay of the first three days. Americans are courageous, Americans are compassionate, and George W. Bush hopes that everyone thinks he is too and will support him in his quest for world domination.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:35 PM

Movies I Don't Want To See 

I've seen lots of trailers lately, and responded to some with "oh, cool," some "eh," and some "no way." These are some that I have no desire to see.

Open Water - Vacationing couple is accidentally left in the water when their scuba diving group miscounts patrons and heads back to shore. They are promo-ing this as based on a true story, but it's more like inspired by real events. Most of it takes place after the couple surfaces, and most of it is speculation. This just looks like an incredibly stressful case of cinematic schaudenfreude, and I don't think I've yet become that desperate in my entertainment requirements.

Cellular - Kim Basinger is kidnapped and she and her son will suffer terrible harm if she doesn't tell the kidnapper what he wants to know. She claims to have no idea what he's talking about. There's a phone in the room, but it's been smashed. She manages to touch the correct wires together and a random call goes out, landing on the cell phone of our hero. She's desperate for his help, and he commits. The catch? They can't lose the call, since she has no way of calling again, and apparently the phone won't receive a call, or the ring will alert the kidnapper, or something. I'm not sure. I'm also not sure why he doesn't go to the police. William H. Macy is the cop in the movie. He seems nice. I'm sure he'd help. But our hero goes it alone. Go hero, go! Steal a car, take a gun, hold the cellular phone store at gunpoint until they give you a charger! Whatever.

Alien v. Predator - Eh. I liked the Alien movies, but Predator didn't do it for me. Sigourney Weaver's not in this, so really what's the point?

Wicker Park - Josh Hartnett is in lurve. We think she lurves him, too. But then she vanishes. Then some psycho chick shows up and pulls a Single White Female. But Josh won't give up - true love will win!!!!! Hopefully true love will make him a better actor, but I don't feel like shelling out the $9.50 to find out.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:36 AM

Oprah Post Jury Duty 

Earlier this week I posted my concerns about Oprah Winfrey having been selected for jury duty in a Chicago murder trial. The trial is now over, and the defendant was found guilty. Before the trial, Oprah stated that she probably wouldn't be shocked by anything she saw or heard during the trial, and all involved expressed that Oprah's presence would not be disruptive to the process. Oprah at least seems to have changed her mind:
"It's a huge reality check, there's a whole other world going on out there," Winfrey said outside the courtroom, flanked by other jurors. Winfrey said she plans to do a show about the trial next week with other jurors.
The Chicago Sun-Times has a lengthier article, with additional insights:
"It's very distracting to have people who are known who are serving on the jury," said Oprah, surrounded by nine of her fellow jurors. "This is not good for the victim's family. A man has been murdered. This is not about Oprah."
But it perhaps was about Oprah's show, at least in the minds of some people involved with the case in one way or another. The jurors say that she never mentioned the idea of a jury reunion show until after the verdict was in, but I'm guessing it was at least in her fellow jurors' thoughts. Defense attorneys are expected to watch next week's show with interest, in case they are allowed a glimpse into the normally cloaked jury room and can get some evidence of undue influence on the jury decision making process.

Oprah's presence had an effect on more people than the jurors. According to the Sun-Times article:
Even the cafeteria workers were trying to impress the billion-dollar juror. Public defenders and prosecutors are accustomed to seeing food-service workers pushing a rickety cart from the second-floor cafeteria through the courtrooms and into the jury rooms. The carts normally carry unwrapped sweet rolls and small cans of Bluebird juice. But on Wednesday, the cart was covered with a white table cloth, the rolls were tightly wrapped in plastic and the juice was presented in glass carafes.
Martha must be furious. I guess being a juror instead of a defendant makes all the difference. Sorry - I stooped for a minute. But I'm back now.

According to CBSNewYork.com:
[Prosecutor Kathy] Van Kampen said all the hoopla had no effect on the trial. Juror Suzanne Goodman of Arlington Heights agreed."It was a lot of fun, it was like being on her show," said Goodman, who plans to appear on Winfrey's show.
I don't think many jurors would describe their experience in quite this manner. Or find themselves on the Oprah Winfrey Show the following week.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 6:22 AM
Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Bryn Mawr - Stone Cold Sober 

I see from Mirandala that Princeton Review has seen fit to rate Bryn Mawr College as #11 for Stone Cold Sober colleges. The staff of Mirandala question this result.

I must admit, it's quite a change from the description given to BMC when I was there. In the Insider's Guide To College at the time, in the Drinking Games section, the statement was that "at Bryn Mawr they don't play games. They drink to get drunk." And it was pretty accurate. Although in my freshman year the administration did take the action of banning grain alcohol from campus after some rather unfortunate and painful Hell Week incidents. Yeah, that was us - sorry. But we were also the inventors of the May Hole! I'm a bit saddened to see that this protest event has been incorporated into the officially listed events. Kind of takes away from the rebellious attitude behind it. Do they at least still play The Eurythmics' tune Sisters are Doing It for Themselves?

Posted by Beth Henderson at 7:25 PM

Shut Down NYC For RNC? 

I discovered through The Advocate that a group called Shut It Down NYC are hoping to convince New Yorkers, particularly gay New Yorkers, to shutter their businesses and call in sick rather than provide services to delegates at the Republican National Convention. They specifically are targeting workers and businesses in the theaters, restaurants, stores and hotels.

I don't know about this. On the one hand I see their point about providing entertainment services to the party which is seemingly determined to limit our rights, or with whom you have policy disagreements. But that is what happens every day, particularly in large cities like New York. People with varying or even opposing political, moral, spiritual and cultural views mix and mingle. They talk, they argue. Sometimes views are changed, even if a little bit. What better opportunity to ensure your views are included in the mix? If you want to make a statement, take any funds you receive as a result of Republican spending and donate it to your preferred organization. Republican dollars for John Kerry, anyone? FMA supporter funds to Human Rights Campaign? Now that's a statement.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 6:54 PM

1913 Massachusetts Marriage Law Survives Round One 

Judge Carol Ball of the Massachusetts Superior Court has declined to enjoin the state from enforcing the 1913 marriage law that prohibits marriages unless they would be valid in the couples' home states. The plaintiffs will appeal.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 6:48 PM

The Village 

M. Night Shyamalan has once more presented the world with a creepy movie. He doesn't go for horror - just creepiness. That feeling that something is there but you just can't quite make it out, that you see dead people, that something about you is different.

The village of the title is Covington, a small village in which families live a borderline idyllic life. Tragedies occur, such as the illness-related death of a 7-year-old boy whose funeral we see in the beginning, but the villagers "are grateful for the time they are given." We see from the boy's gravestone that we are in the late 1800's. After the funeral, life returns to normal, and Shyamalan shows us the small details of their everyday life: washing the dishes, sweeping the porch, pursuing young love. But something else is there. The porch sweepers freeze when they see a bright red flower, then they rush to bury it before returning to their chores. Villagers keep watch from towers at the border between the village and the woods. Yes, something is out there, but they are in a truce with the villagers. The villagers don't enter the woods, and the creatures don't enter the village. Until...

Shyamalan chose a simple style for this story. The villagers live a simple life, the people (and the actors) wear no adornments. The soundtrack for the most part is haunting violin music, provided by Hilary Hahn. The primary characters include William Hurt, Sigorney Weaver, and Cherry Jones as some of the elders, and Bryce Dallas Howard, Joaquin Phoenix, Adrian Brody and Judy Greer as some of the young adults. All are fabulous, but Bryce Dallas Howard (daughter of Ron Howard) was outstanding.

I don't want to give away any details, so I'll just say that Shyamalan rides victorious once again.

Reality check: The Girl just thought it was okay. It's a steady, patient movie, and she prefers things to move along a bit more quickly. I was entranced and thought it was done perfectly. She usually doesn't like period pieces, but she said that aspect didn't bother her this time.

Amazon links:

Posted by Beth Henderson at 4:39 PM

Cyndi Lauper - She's So Extraordinary 

The Girl and I ventured down to the South Shore Music Circus in Cohassett last night, for the Cyndi Lauper concert Live...At Last.

She rocked, she crooned, she belted, she swayed, she stood on seats in the crowd, she danced on the piano, she made us laugh, she made us cry. All this and the poor thing had a cold! Didn't seem to slow her down or limit her voice whatsoever. It was an amazing evening.

The band came on the stage in darkness, so we couldn't see them until they started the first number, At Last. This is the title track from her latest CD and the tour itself. On the CD cover she looks the chanteuse: black evening gown, full length gloves, perfect coiffe. The music starts. Violins, romantic groove, torch song feel, and the lights come on as she belts out the first notes - and she's wearing tight leather pants, a black lace-up corset over a black hoodie, and her hair is basic unkempt grunge. The contrast was fabulous!!! She's got the pipes AND the attitude. The crowd was instantly screaming and cheering, and she seemed to pour everything she had into this number. And yet she still had infinitely more for the rest of the night.

On the second number she kicked off her shoes, literally, and performed barefoot for the duration of the concert. She then goes out into the audience, climbs into the center of a row and stands up on the arms of a seat. She rocked the crowd from there, paying extra attention to the many preadolescent girls who were in attendance, much to their shrieking delight. She repeated this audience foray a number of times, and visited every section.

Between numbers she would often simply quietly thank us for our response, have some water and onto the next. Everyone "awww"-ed when some kids brought her bouquets of roses, which she carefully placed on the piano. A few times she would talk a bit about the stories behind some of the new arrangements. One new arrangement she introduced by saying she had been thinking about it, and it struck her that really it's a torch song, kind of french bistro. The keyboard player picked up an accordion and started in on a lovely little period waltz, such as you would expect to have heard in Paris in 1938. I thought perhaps it was going to be La Vie En Rose, but I was mistaken. As Lauper started in on the song, I didn't recognize it right away, until she got to the line about the pages of a Blue Boy magazine. Yes, it was She Bop, and it was fantastic.

She also modified Walk On By, edging it up and making it darker than on the CD. Apparently this new arrangement is on the DVD, though. It was like something Tim Burton would use in one of his movies. And again, it was awesome.

Later in the show she did stop to talk for a while, before singing True Colors. She talked about her close friend who died from AIDS, and reminded everyone, particularly young people, that you need to be safe. She pointed out that one of the qualities of youth is a feeling that you're untouchable, but the truth is that you're not. She then draped a rainbow flag around her shoulders and talked about when her sister and various friends came out, and that she is an active PFLAG member, and that we are all different and unique and thank god for that. Apparently various industry wonks try to get her to describe "her audience" to them, and she can't, "because it's everyone." And that was no exaggeration. This audience had everyone you could imagine: children, elderly, middle of the road middle agers, rockers, lounge afficionados, gay men and lesbians, goths, preppies, yuppies, vacationers, people dressed up, people in ripped up jeans, and even some women emulating the At Last cover outfit of evening gown and long gloves. Everyone rocked, clapped, cheered, hooted and hollered. The Girl and I had tears already by the time she launched into True Colors.

So to wrap it up - the show was excellent. If the tour is coming to a venue near you, take the night off and get there. If you can't make it, she's also made a concert DVD - I might just pick it up as well.

Amazon links:

Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:28 AM
Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Would You Want Oprah On Your Jury? 

Oprah Winfrey is a juror in a Cook County murder trial. Jury selection and opening arguments were yesterday, and deliberations are expected to begin tomorrow. Aside from being allowed to enter the courthouse through the private entrance reserved for judges and sheriff's officers, she is being given no special treatment, according to the court. It was noted that her fellow jurors cheered when she was selected, however.

I wouldn't be concerned about whether Oprah could be fair and impartial, but I would be concerned about her affect on the other jurors, and the attorneys and court personnel. When the jury was dismissed for the night on Monday, Judge James Linn gave not only the usual admonitions about discussing the case with friends and family, but also stated, "I think it would be inappropriate to talk about each other and who you are on a jury with," Linn said.

Will the jurors spend more time dwelling on their opportunity to spend three days up close and personal with such a celebrity heavy hitter rather than focusing on the facts of the case? Given the increased focus that is being put on this trial, will the attorneys and judge be influenced at all by concerns about how they will end up appearing? Is anyone thinking about possible follow up fame for themselves? Will any jurors be more swayed by Oprah's opinion than they would be if she weren't so well-known?

Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:50 PM

SJC Orders New Confession Jury Instruction 

Boston.com reports that yesterday the Massachusetts SJC ruled that if the defense requests, the judge must instruct the jury:

...that the high court wants statements to be recorded ''whenever practicable" and that the absence of recordings is evidence to be weighed ''with great care and caution."

The 4-3 decision was authored by Justice Martha B. Sossman, joined by Chief Justice Margaret Marshall and Justices Roderick Ireland and Robert Cordy. The strong dissent was written by Justice John Greaney, joined by Justices Francis Spina and Judith Cowin. The new rule has received varing response in the law enforcement and legal community, with some decrying it as "too intrusive" and likely to lead to an inability to convict anyone, while others feel that the resulting encouragement to record all confessions will lead to a rise in convictions.

The case is Commonwealth v. Valerio DiGiambattista, SJC-09155.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:35 AM
Monday, August 16, 2004

Blogger Search Bar 

Is anyone else experiencing the new addition of the Blogger search bar at the top of your blog, like here? It's replacing the ads on "some" of the blogs. It's only appeared on the one to which I've added a Google search box. The problem is that where the content based ads would appear above my blog, this search bar partially blocks my title, and is messing up the alignment of my sidebars. What's up with that? If anyone else is having this problem and has found a way to deal with it, could you please give me a hint? Thanks.
UPDATE: It's now spread to all my pages, so I dug a little deeper and figured it out. My titles are all now fully visible. I'm glad I could drop the search box I had added, since despite my best efforts it remained rather ungainly.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:10 PM

Shameless Tivo Promotion 

I love my Tivo. I've mentioned this numerous times on this website, and I'm fairly well known for proselytizing in person on the subject. All my classmates who sit in my immediate vicinity are well aware of my Tivo fanaticism. An example in writing can be found (located quickly through the new Google search bar I've added!) here. Between that and Netflix, I've recruited many onto the pop culture side of technology with me. Just this weekend I was encouraging a classmate of mine and her husband (they graciously had us over for dinner, which was delish) to get a Tivo. She was telling a story of how this outrageous commercial came on the tv, and she called her husband to come quick and watch it, so I pointed out that if they had a Tivo, she could have simply paused it until he got into the room, then rewound it and played it as many times as she liked without missing a minute of the show. The Girl added her thoughts that the way I rave about Tivo, I should get some sort of reward from the company. Well, today I discover that Tivo is making such reward possible!!! For each person I refer to Tivo and who activates Tivo service, I get Tivo points if that person enters my e-mail address as the referrer during step 2 of activation.

So here's the pitch: if you're getting a Tivo, or if you're perhaps now thinking about it because of my high praise of the service, I humbly request that you enter my e-mail address ( rogueslayerlawstudent@comcast.net ) during stage 2 of activation as the person who pushed it on you - I mean who recommended it. With the rebate they're offering now, you can get one for $99. Take it from me (and everyone who has been within earshot of me for the last couple of years) - it's worth every friggin' penny.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 7:33 PM

Princess Diaries 2: The Royal Engagement 

I didn't love it. It seemed like the entire first half of the sequel was spent in trying to remind the audience (at least some of us) of why we loved the first one, but it was like a four-year-old who got a favorable response from some unintentionally entertaining statement or act, and who then proceeds to attempt to relive that moment of glory over and over, to the point that it becomes simply annoying. The second half was much better though, once they relaxed on the forced gaffs and gratuitous goofiness. The turning point was an emotional confrontation in the stables, and it seems that baring of the characters' true feelings allowed the film to move on as its own entity.

A large part of The Princess Diaries' charms was the contrast between gawky, goofy and unrepressed Mia (Anne Hathaway) and her world and her royal grandmother (Julie Andrews) and her formal, elegant and well-coordinated world. When worlds collided and each came away with something from the other, both sides were a little better than when they started.

The sequel takes place entirely in Genovia, where Mia is the Crown Princess nearing the age of eligibility for the throne. It would seem that in the years while she was earning her bachelor's degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy and International Affairs, the entire well-oiled staff of the palace were replaced with vaudeville actors. The Captain of the Palace Guard sounds like Bill Murray in the big basic training graduation scene from Stripes, the two maids assigned to Mia tend to break out into spontaneous but perfectly choreographed mini-song and dance routines, and Joseph (Hector Elizondo) has even gotten his own youthful and awkward security intern.

Once again Mia's ascension to the throne is threatened by internal politicking, this time by a distant royal descendent (he and Mia share a great-great-great-great-great grandfather or something along those lines) who reached the age of 21 shortly before Mia, and who is not restricted by the Genovian law which requires a woman to be married before being eligible for coronation. Mia is given 30 days to marry. And hijinks ensue.

What struck me as very odd was that many things with seeming portent were established early on, and then never came back. Or people that should have been significant were brought back from the first movie, but had no importance whatsoever. Mia's mother has to leave the room to change her new baby's diaper and is then gone for a REALLY long time. Apparently this was simply so that on her return she could have an Abbott and Costello verbal exchange with her husband about what occurred in the meantime. Mia's best friend Lilly (Heather Matarazzo) returns, but she seemingly underwent a surgical removal of her frank brashness while she was in grad school at Berkeley, and she was left as a mere shell of her previous character. There was a set up for a Big Chase Scene (every good romantic comedy needs a climactic Big Chase Scene), but it was unfulfilled since we never see the big frantic arrival in which it should culminate. The chaser simply appears.

But lest you be completely dissuaded from seeing The Princess Diaries 2, let me just say that while I didn't love it, I did enjoy it. The second half was enjoyable and flowed easily (with the exception of the return of Paolo, the hair stylist). Overall it was warm and fuzzy, and Julie Andrews sang a song and mattress surfed down a royal staircase. That alone is worth the price of admission.

Cameos of note: Paul Willams, Raven, Gary Marshall, Tom Poston, Elinor Donahue, and a picture of Prince William.

Reality Check: The Girl felt this one was, like the original, just okay.

Amazon links:

Posted by Beth Henderson at 7:20 AM
Friday, August 13, 2004

Hurricane Cheney 

This one got a burst of laughter out of me. Check out Dohiyi Mir's post Floridians Flee Cheney's Wrath. It includes incredible satellite imagery.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:35 PM

Willow and Tara In Miniature 

Courtesy of AfterEllen.com's Best.Lesbian.Week.Ever. column today, I found my way to the forthcoming action figure set of Willow, Tara and Miss Kitty Fantastico. They also come with a candle (from Full Moon Rising), a morter and pestle, a purse (?) and a wooden stand.

Clearly these were based on happier days, before the backyard through the window shooting or the unspecified crossbow incident.

Amazon links:

Posted by Beth Henderson at 6:26 PM