Monday, January 31, 2005

Pacific Legal Foundation - Writing Competition 

The Pacific Legal Foundation is running their 6th annual Judicial Awareness Writing Competition, with prizes of $5,000, $3,000 and $1,500 for the three winning entries. I must note that I'm not exactly in synch with the PLF's libertarian bent, as I consider myself a progressive, but there's some common ground in there. Anyway, if any law students or grad students in other related fields are interested, the deadline for submissions is May 31, 2005, and the three topics can be found on the PLF's Writing Competition page.

In an entertaining demonstration of "it's a small blawg world," a week ago I had e-mailed the PLF's Legal Publications Coordinator for the Program for Judicial Awareness to request an info packet for one of the topics, using my regular e-mail account. A couple of days later I received an e-mail in my rogueslayerlawstudent Inbox, from that very same person. She had been reading my blog, is also a Buffy fan, and wanted to let me know about the competition.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:23 PM

Space Shuttle on the Mend 

The revamped space shuttle is on looking good for its return to space, as early as May 12. Two new components have arrived at the Kennedy Space Center: a tool that will allow inspection of the shuttle's skin while in orbit, and redesigned fuel tanks taht NASA "guarantees" will not shed chunks of the insulating foam that triggered the damage to Columbia two years ago tomorrow.

The first shuttle back in the air will be Discovery, carrying STS-114, commanded by Eileen Collins.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:55 PM

Netflix Mystery 

For some reason, Netflix shipped the 15th selection on my queue, even though numbers 4-14 were all marked as being available now. Numbers 1-3 are the Wonderfalls DVDs, which aren't being released until tomorrow, but this shipment went out on Friday.

This puts me in a quandry, as the selection shipped is Vol. 13 of Star Trek: The Original Series. I've only watched Vol. 1 at this point, and I wanted to watch them in order. Should I just suck it up and watch this one out of order, or should I suck up the alternative and ship it back without viewing it, but put it back in the queue in the desired order? I do still have a couple of Angel Season 4 DVDs to watch while I work out in the mornings while I'm awaiting the next shipment.

Sigh. What's a girl to do?

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:54 AM
Friday, January 28, 2005

Who Dresses Dick Cheney? 

Looks like Vice-President Cheney should have consulted with Protocol before heading out to yesterday's memorial ceremony at Auschwitz. He rather stood out in the somber, black-wool clad crowd, what with him wearing a green parka with a fur-lined hood and a knit cap sporting "Staff 2001" in embroidery.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 5:24 PM

These Said, Those Said 

In Social Security news:

Bush's advisors okay'd his plan. Of course they did. He hasn't exactly surrounded himself with opposing viewpoints.

Senate Democrats, as expected, have spoken out vehemently in opposition. The also presented two Social Security Administration employees who revealed that internal memos have directed employees to promote the new plan.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:47 PM
Thursday, January 27, 2005

Maria Full of Grace 

The Girl and I watched this on DVD, the first of our Oscar-nominated DVDs that are lined up on our Netflix queue. Newcomer Catalina Sandino Moreno has been nominated for Best Actress for her starring role as Maria, a 17-year-old Columbian who has been thrust into the role of primary supporter of her mother, sister and sister's toddler. Having quit her job as a thorn remover at a rose plantation, she is given an opportunity to be a mule - to smuggle drugs into the United States by swallowing large numbers of drug filled plastic "pellets."

We see Maria trying to deal with her lot in life while at the same time struggling to improve it, and balancing her loyalties to her own future and those of the people around her. Some of the early scenes of the plantation workers being bussed to work reminded me of Casa de los Babys, which took place in Mexico.

Moreno is very good in the role, and I'm glad the Academy once again went out of the mainstream for this nomination, but there's no way she'll win. I equate it to last year's nomination of young Keisha Castle-Hughes for her starring role in Whale Rider: a great recognition of the early work of a young actor, which hopefully will help open doors to many more opportunities, but she didn't stand a chance against Charlize Theron. Look for Castle-Hughes in the upcoming Revenge of the Sith.

Reality Check: The Girl in general studiously avoids subtitled films (Maria Full of Grace is in Spanish), but she didn't mind the subtitles in this one, and enjoyed the movie.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:31 PM

Love Poetry for Geeks 

Okay, I admit it. I cracked up at this e-newsletter subject line from ThinkGeek:

Roses are FF0000 at ThinkGeek

I'm such a geek.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:29 PM

Star Trek: The Corbamite Maneuver 

Day two of the Star Trek exercise marathon: The Corbamite Maneuver. This episode originally aired one week before my second birthday. In case you were wondering.

We've now been joined by Uhura and McCoy, slightly better crew adherence to discipline, and some changes in uniform. Spock makes a comment indicating that his father is a rather stern man, and that his mother is human. In the last episode he speculated that perhaps some ancester of his had married a human, but by this episode he's regained the obscure piece of information that the long-lost ancester was his father. He also tells Kirk, "I regret not having any better alternatives." One of the early "AHA- EMOTION!!!" moments for Trekkies everywhere. Yes, "regret" would indicate an emotion, which Spock claims not to have. And he still sounds like a drill sergeant.

The uniform shirts now come in the well-known but often ill-fated red variety, appear to be of a better quality fabric (but I'm sure they'll still conveniently tear to expose muscular flesh), and have smart little black collars on them. McCoy is sporting a much better quality medical scrub type top over his uniform shirt than the papery looking thing his elderly predecessor had.

Early in the episode, McCoy has Kirk in sick bay for his physical. Apparently this is or at least is to become a long-standing tradition of starship captains avoiding their physicals at all costs, as McCoy deliberately withheld from Kirk that the red alert signal was flashing, in order to get him to stay. Picard, Sisko, Janeway and even Archer all drove their respective medical staff crazy on these exam schedules as well. Anyway, once Kirk finishes his upside down running type exercise in which his feet alternate pressing these blocky things into the wall (is it really a good plan to have your head lower than your heart during a strenuous lower body workout like this? I'm just asking.), he gets off the table and sees the signal. He then exits sick bay with his uniform shirt draped over his shoulders like a towel, and walks around the ship's corridors with his sweaty, manly torso exposed for all the crew to see. Very subtle.

Since the navigator from the last episode got himself killed in the line of god-hood, we have a new unstable navigator this week, the apparently too-soon promoted Lt. Bailey, who slouches, smart-mouths and freaks out for way too long before being relieved of duty. Then after being in his quarters for a full 5 minutes, he returns to the bridge and is allowed to return to his post. Yeah, that makes sense. The guy should have been sedated and tossed into sick bay, if not the brig.

"The Corbamite Maneuver" is named after a poker-style bluff that Kirk pulls on their apparent captor, Balok, who has declared his intention to destroy the ship and all life inside it in 10 minutes. He gives them 10 minutes to make peace with their "deity, deities or other such icon as gives them comfort." How multiculturally inclusive. He'd have been quite a hit in the US last month. Kirk's plan eventually succeeds, starting with convincing Balok that all Earth ships are lined with "corbamite," which deflects all attacks and returns an equally strong force in exchange. In other words, "I'm rubber, you're glue. It bounces off me and sticks on you." Balok then fakes a distress call to lure Kirk, McCoy and Bailey to his ship, then discloses that it was all a fun little test, they have a tea party and Bailey stays on board to share cultural exchanges. Who will be the navigator next episode? Will we finally get to meet Chekov, before Walter Koenig moves on to become the creepy and slightly vampiric looking Bester on Babylon 5? We also discover that Balok is really a tiny little man played by then 7-year-old Clint Howard, who next appeared as Grady, the unstable but harmless homeless man on the ST: DS9 episode "Past Tense, Part II" in 1995. Poor Clint. He was doomed to be a freaky little man from childhood, and the Balok makeup very accurately foretold his adult visage.

This episode also introduces the banishment of women from slacks and into short, short dresses. We also meet Kirk's subservient yeoman, about whom he curses Starfleet for assigning him "a female yeoman." Yikes. Weren't the 60's fun? I think even I, at the age of two, was about to enter into my refusal to wear dresses except under extreme duress.

Next episode: Mudd's Women.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:30 AM
Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Star Trek: Where No Man Has Gone Before 

My first Star Trek DVD arrived from Netflix, and I watched Production Episode 2 (the pilot episode isn't included, and they're listed by production number rather than in order aired) this morning while I worked out. Now, I'm a total Star Trek Geek when it comes to the newer series, but have only seen sporadic reruns of the original, so this is all new turf for me. And quite exciting. Geek.

Thoughts:
-Who is that playing the psychiatrist, Dr. Dehner? She looks like Geena Davis, but this originally aired in 1965, so that's not likely. Damn - I know that face. Check credits - it's Sally Kellerman.

-No voiceover or singing during the opening. Guess they added that later.

-The women in Starfleet had yet to be consigned to short, short, impractical skirts. I wish they had kept that up. The pants are so much more functional. But they did treat the women much more protectively than in the later shows, and at one point Dr. Dehner apologized for her "cold" personality by saying, "Professional women do tend to overcompensate." Ouch. I liked how they bridged the uniform issue in the early episodes of ST: The Next Generation, where Starfleet personnel seemed to have a choice of skirt or pants, and it didn't seem to have any gender restrictions, as some of the male crew were wearing the skirts/short dresses. Still, I'm glad that as the show evolved they shifted over to pants for everyone. Even better is on ST: Enterprise, where they all (except T'Pol, who wears sort of "essence of Starfleet") wear the very utilitarian coveralls with lots of pockets.

-Spock's lineage and history hasn't been fully determined yet, as first he appears not only to deny being frustrated, but he has to ponder a moment to define this human emotion. When he loses his chess game and Kirk suggests that Spock now understands frustration, Spock speculates that perhaps one of his ancestors had married a human. By later in the life of Star Trek we know that in fact Spock's mother was human and he had battled his emotions all his life.

-Ah, the initial use of the ripped shirt to highlight Kirk's hunky muscles. Hard to believe he turned into Denny Crane.

-We've got Kirk, Spock, Scotty, and Sulu in this episode. I guess the rest of the eventual core cast were added later. No red shirts yet. The uniforms are yellow or blue. There may have been a peach, but that could have just been a yellow in odd lighting.

-The crew's a bit lax in protocol and demeanor. They lean on their workstations, and use first names much more than rank or last name.

-Spock sounds like a drill sergeant on the bridge. Glad they toned that down eventually.

-They started right out with their cautionary tales about humanity advancing abilities without the benefit of the time in which to develop the wisdom to utilize those abilities.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:14 PM

Another Commute From Hell 

Another big storm in Boston today. Morning commute sucked for all concerned. Today I had the added bonus of slipping on the steps at the parking garage at the Wellington T Station. Fortunately, I landed flat on my back instead of going forward and landing on my already damaged knees.

They've already announced that NESL classes are cancelled as of 2:30 today, and the buildings will be locked up at 6 pm. Add another day to the schedule in April.

We managed to have a speaker at school last night for the NESL OUTLaws (GLBT group), and despite the bad weather, limited parking, and lack of classes Monday at which a reminder announcement was to have been made, we still had a turnout of a dozen or so, which isn't bad for a 6 pm Tuesday speaking event.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:05 PM
Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Tru Calling - Flatlined by Point Pleasant 

It's official. No do-over-days for Tru Calling. While several additional episodes have been completed, the show won't be returning to the regular schedule, although Fox exec Gail Berman has stated that the 6 unaired eps will be shown at some point.

Fox's new supernatural show Point Pleasant apparently elbowed Tru Calling right off the 9:00 Thursday night schedule, with its compatibility to The O.C., which airs at 8:00. I didn't watch the premier of Point Pleasant, but described my impression of it (based on commercials and reviews) as being Twin Peaks meets The O.C. Guess I was right.

Ironically, the show starring Buffy alum Eliza Dushku was bumped by a show headed by a Buffy production alum, Marti Noxon. Former Buffy baddie Adam Busch is currently on Point Pleasant, and Noxon is hoping to secure Buffy and Angel alum James Marsters for a future role.

Perhaps not so ironic after all: Fox Entertainment President Gail Berman is the same Gail Berman who was executive producer on both Buffy and Angel. At least it's all staying in the Buffy family.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:50 AM

Commuting Postscript 

New piece of information on yesterday's commuting hell: my co-worker was on the same Orange Line train.

He lives 1.5 blocks from the Commuter Rail, so he trekked over to the station in the hopes of catching the train. Unfortunately, it was running on a Saturday schedule and even that wasn't running well. So he hopped onto the 131 bus that runs from Melrose Highlands to Oak Grove. His fate was sealed. He was on the same Train of Doom that I had boarded, but he was at the other end, which wound up being closer to the stairs at Malden Station.

After we were booted from the train at Malden, he noticed a few people waiting for the Commuter Rail, so he went over to that platform for a bit, but no train was in the offing. He gave up a bit earlier than I did, and went downstairs in hopes of catching the 8:00 bus back. When the bus didn't show, he called his wife and she drove over and picked him up. If he had spotted me, they would have given me a lift back to Oak Grove. Damn!

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:24 AM

Oscar Nominations 2005 

I watched the Oscar Noms with a friend in the office kitchen. How exciting!!! And the nominees are:

BEST PICTURE
THE AVIATOR
FINDING NEVERLAND
MILLION DOLLAR BABY
RAY
SIDEWAYS

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Annette Bening - BEING JULIA
Catalina Sandino Moreno - MARIA FULL OF GRACE
Imelda Staunton - VERA DRAKE
Hilary Swank - MILLION DOLLAR BABY
Kate Winslet - ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Cate Blanchett - THE AVIATOR
Laura Linney - KINSEY
Virginia Madsen - SIDEWAYS
Sophie Okonedo - HOTEL RWANDA
Natalie Portman - CLOSER

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Don Cheadle - HOTEL RWANDA
Johnny Depp - FINDING NEVERLAND
Leonardo DiCaprio - THE AVIATOR
Clint Eastwood - MILLION DOLLAR BABY
Jamie Foxx - RAY

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Alan Alda - THE AVIATOR
Thomas Haden Church - SIDEWAYS
Jamie Foxx - COLLATERAL
Morgan Freeman - MILLION DOLLAR BABY
Clive Owen - CLOSER

DIRECTING
THE AVIATOR
MILLION DOLLAR BABY
RAY
SIDEWAYS
VERA DRAKE

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
THE INCREDIBLES
SHARK TALE
SHREK 2

ART DIRECTION
THE AVIATOR
FINDING NEVERLAND
LEMONY SNICKET'S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT

CINEMATOGRAPHY
THE AVIATOR
HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS
THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT

COSTUME DESIGN
THE AVIATOR
FINDING NEVERLAND
LEMONY SNICKET'S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS
RAY
TROY

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
BORN INTO BROTHELS
THE STORY OF THE WEEPING CAMEL
SUPER SIZE ME
TUPAC: RESURRECTION
TWIST OF FAITH

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
AUTISM IS A WORLD
THE CHILDREN OF LENINGRADSKY
HARDWOOD
MIGHTY TIMES: THE CHILDREN'S MARCH
SISTER ROSE'S PASSION

FILM EDITING
THE AVIATOR
COLLATERAL
FINDING NEVERLAND
MILLION DOLLAR BABY
RAY


FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
AS IT IS IN HEAVEN
THE CHORUS
DOWNFALL
THE SEA INSIDE
YESTERDAY

MAKEUP
LEMONY SNICKET'S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS
THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST
THE SEA INSIDE

MUSIC (SCORE)
FINDING NEVERLAND
HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN
LEMONY SNICKET'S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS
THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST
THE VILLAGE

MUSIC (SONG)
"Accidentally In Love" - SHREK 2
"Al Otro Lado Del Río" - THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES
"Believe" - THE POLAR EXPRESS
"Learn To Be Lonely" - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
"Look To Your Path (Vois Sur Ton Chemin)" - THE CHORUS

SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)
BIRTHDAY BOY
GOPHER BROKE
GUARD DOG
LORENZO
RYAN

SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)
EVERYTHING IN THIS COUNTRY MUST
LITTLE TERRORIST
7:35 IN THE MORNING
TWO CARS, ONE NIGHT
WASP

SOUND EDITING
THE INCREDIBLES
THE POLAR EXPRESS
SPIDER-MAN 2

SOUND MIXING
THE AVIATOR
THE INCREDIBLES
THE POLAR EXPRESS
RAY
SPIDER-MAN 2

VISUAL EFFECTS
HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN
I, ROBOT
SPIDER-MAN 2

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)
BEFORE SUNSET
FINDING NEVERLAND
MILLION DOLLAR BABY
THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES
SIDEWAYS

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)
THE AVIATOR
ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND
HOTEL RWANDA
THE INCREDIBLES
VERA DRAKE

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:58 AM
Monday, January 24, 2005

Back Home, Frozen 

Well, that didn't go very well.

6:30 - Left the house. No additional snowplow bank blocking the driveway. On my way.

6:44 - Stop to assist two guys trying to push an Audi out of a snowbank, while third guy operated the car. They were pushing and spinning to no avail, but my tiny additional musculature did the trick, because we got it out on the first try. Turns out the two pushing guys were also passersby, whose car was parked across the intersection. Feeling warm with the glow of friendly New Englanders helping each other through bad weather, I continued on my way.

6:58 - Board the Orange Line at Oak Grove.

7:15 - Jam-packed train departs Oak Grove. Stops a few times en route to the first stop, Malden Station.

7:30 - Arrive Malden Station. This is normally a less than 5 minute travel segment. Much kerfuffle arises, with the train operator opening and closing doors, apologizing for delays, etc. Around 7:40 they cleared out the last car, as they couldn't make the train move, and hoped that lightening it up would help. My confidence for the day is going down.

7:45 - Train goes out of service, and we all must jam onto the Malden Station platform. Unfortunately, the platform had not been fully cleared of snow, so this trainload of commuters were packed onto the narrow walkways that had been cleared.

8:15 - After standing on the platform for 30 minutes without a single train coming or going in either direction, I give up and leave messages for my boss and coworker that I would be going home. I go down to the street level to catch the 8:30 132 bus back to Oak Grove. My fingers and toes are quite cold.

8:25 - I finally arrive at the bus stop downstairs, after working my way slowly and steadily through the masses of frozen commuter pops on the platform, jamming the stairs and crowding the lobby. A number of people have been standing at Malden Station since 6:30, waiting for a train into Boston. Several other people are also waiting for the 8:30 bus.

9:05 - A woman waiting for the bus is assisted inside, as she is not feeling well.

9:15 - Ambulance arrives, and same woman is assisted back out of the building and into the ambulance, where hopefully they will fill her with warm IV fluids. Can I have some too?

9:45 - The 132 bus at last arrives. My toes are numb, my fingers feel swollen, and I am shivering uncontrollably.

9:55 - Arrive back at Oak Grove. If my legs would respond to my commands, I would run to my car. Instead I slowly make my way to my car. As I exit the parking lot, NPR informs me that it has warmed all the way up to 8 degrees, but the wind chill is around -15 to -20.

10:15 - Arrive home. There is a brand new, 3-foot high plow bank across my driveway. It is full of heavy, compressed snow boulders and I am unable to bash through it with my Jeep. I park on the street, climb over the snow mountain, and retrieve the ergo-fucking-nomic handled snow shovel. I return to the plow bank and bash through it with sheer willpower. My wrists, forearms and biceps object to this, as they are still sore from yesteray. I tell them to shut the hell up.

10:30 - The Jeep is in the driveway, having safely navigated through the 1.5 car width opening I cleared. My slow process of warming up begins.

I will now retreat to my reading on the couch, under many blankets.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:46 AM

And the Snow, Snow, Snow Came Down, Down, Down 

And crept right into Boston.

Yes, we had a massive snowstorm this weekend. It was predicted to hit the Boston area in the afternoon, so I went on in to the NESL library Saturday morning to do some (okay, a bunch of) reading. My goal was to get Property and Environmental Law done for the week, then if time allowed I'd get a start on Law & Ethics of Lawyering. The weather planning was to leave the building when the first flakes hit, so I could walk to the T, get to Oak Grove and drive home before any real weather set in.

I had about 7 pages left of Environmental Law at 3:05, when I looked out the window from my Upper Mezzanine carell and spotted the snow whirling around the intersection of Charles and Stuart Streets. Bim, bam, boom I packed up the books, dumped them back in my locker, grabbed the books for Law & Ethics and Criminal Procedure, and headed out. Made it home no problem, except that The Girl didn't answer her phone when I called to let her know I was heading out. Turns out that she had tackled the maddening challenge that is the grocery store the afternoon before an expected blizzard. Brave, silly Girl. But she made it out, eventually, and we were able to hunker down with a fully stocked fridge and pantry.

11:00 pm Saturday night: Little more than a dusting, but the rate of snowfall seemed to have picked up.

9:00 Sunday morning: We're snowed in. Literally. We had to fight the doors to push them open through the drifted snow. But then the side walkway around the house was completely clear. The snow was extremely powdery, and the drifts were wild. We had about 3 feet all told, but some of the drifts were deep enough that some cars in driveways had only antennae visible. The plowbank at the end of our driveway (2 cars wide) was about 4.5 feet high, and about 6-7 feet deep (from our side to the street). But we grabbed our ergonomic handled snow shovels and tackled it head on. Later in the day, that is, after the snow tapered off.

By 3:30 we had a lovely, clear driveway once more. We were also dripping in sweat and fully of aching muscles, but the cars could exit onto the street. I'm not so sure how far they'll be going today, though. The T lists that the Orange Line is "experiencing significant delays" due to weather conditions, and who knows what the parking lot will be like? I can't drive to work, as Newton is still under snow emergency, which means I won't be able to park. But off I go, a brave little toaster, to give it a try. Whatever the work situation is, I won't be going to school tonight, since NESL was closed yesterday and is closed again today.

Update later.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 6:04 AM
Friday, January 21, 2005

US Commission on Civil Rights - Redefining Relocated 

Back in October, I posted about the draft copy of the report by the US Commission on Civil Rights entitled "Redefining Rights in America: The Civil Rights Record of the George W. Bush Administration, 2001-2004," and the ruckus that was being made by the Republican members of the Commission that the draft had been posted on the Commission's website. The posting was done according to the Commission's own policy.

It's interesting reading, and I encourage everyone to follow the link above and read it. Unfortunately, you can no longer access it directly from the Commission's homepage. The link has been taken down to conform with a new policy. The document itself is still where it was, but they've made it more difficult to find it. In case you hadn't guessed, the report is rather (very) critical of President Bush's civil rights record during his first term.

Tip from Pacific Views, in turn from Paper Chase.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:33 PM

Social Security - The FactCheck 

FactCheck.org, a fabulous site that analyzes the factual bases of statements made by politicians from all segments of the political spectrum, have a new article on the "$11 Trillion Deficit" that Pres. Bush and VP Cheney are stating is the future of Social Security.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:40 AM

Things Not to Do During Class 

So there's this website that has a stickman, and it has a box where you can type in a command for it to perform. It used to be that no matter what you told it to do , it would give you the finger. It was hilarious.

Last night during Law and Ethics of Lawyering, when class was winding down and getting incredibly boring, I decided to give my friends a giggle by bringing up the subservient stickman on my screen. They've upgraded him, and he will now actually do all kinds of stuff! They have a bunch of commands that you can select, or you can type your own. to see the original, type "give the finger"

I made him vomit and then I made him spontaneously combust, then I sent the URL to my two IM conferenced friends, one of whom was sitting next to me. A few seconds later I glance at her screen, and she's on the site. She made the very unfortunate choice of selecting "Make the Helicopter." Go visit Subservient Stickman and check it out - but only when no one is watching, as it's not particularly workplace or child friendly (no sound, though).

She rapidly closed her screen after turning 17 shades of red, and I then IM'd her that she's a pervert. Then, without knowing what was going on, my other IM conferenced friend chose the exact same command!!!

It was difficult to make it through the remaining minutes of class without bursting out into uncontrolled peals of laughter. As soon as the professor left, I lost it. I couldn't breathe, and tears were running down my face.

So let this be a lesson. No matter how far the classroom conversation has drifted from useful, no matter how dull it has become, be warned that if you try to surreptitiously liven things up, you might regret it.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:19 AM

Million Dollar Baby 

We finally got to see this much praised film this past weekend, at its early release at the Lowes Boston Common (the most comfy and well-appointed theater in Boston). I haven't gotten around to writing about it until now, mostly because I couldn't come up with words that would appropriately convey the utter fabulosity of Million Dollar Baby and all those involved in the project.

Hilary Swank and Clint Eastwood star in this story of a woman (Maggie) seeking to become a champion professional boxer, and the trainer (Frankie) she is trying to persuade to help her get there. Morgan Freeman plays a retired boxer (Eddie) who now works in Frankie's gym. Eddie also provides the narration that is the glue and universal translator of the story.

You may be thinking, "Why do we need yet another boxing movie? Haven't there been enough? Rags to riches, underdog fighting to the top, life lessons through physical brutality." To this I answer: You really need to see this movie, and see it at the theater. Don't wait for DVD release. Go to a big theater with a big screen and a good sound system, and pick a time when there will be a good sized crowd. This is one of those shows where everyone laughs, cries, sniffs, groans and winces as one, and where applause is apt to burst forth spontaneously.

The characters and the portrayals of them are complex and rich, with more layers than are worked through over the course of the 137 minutes. The story is nuanced and well-paced, and never lets you go.

Million Dollar Baby is raking in the awards and nominations, and I have no doubt that there will several more nominations come Tuesday morning when the Academy Award nominations are announced. I'm putting my money firmly on Hilary Swank to take home her second Best Actress Oscar.

Just spectacular. Go see it. Now.

Reality Check: The Girl absolutely loved it.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:29 AM

The L Word - Site Relaunch 

Showtime has launched a redesigned website for The L Word. I've been carefully avoiding the spoilers for the season, but I do see that there are two additional featured characters (Helena and Carmen), while Tim and Marina are gone, as had been announced.

I really don't like the new main page cast picture. It makes the show look like it must be one of those late night Cinemax soft porn shows. I'm not referring to the group hug shot, where they're all nude but tastefully and discreetly arranged. I mean the banner arrangement of individual shots, where they're wearing outfits that seem completely at odds with each characters' attire history. Well, I can't really tell when it comes to Helena and Carmen, as they have no history on the show, but you know what I mean.

Oh, on the Characters page there's another new character, Mark. I guess he's the new token boy. I can't say I'm sad to see Tim go buh-bye. He was just a collection of bad choices. Of course that made him perfect for Jenny, but still.

So mark your calendars: the new season begins Sunday, February 20th at 10:00 pm Eastern Time.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:03 AM
Thursday, January 20, 2005

Inaugural Speech? 

I didn't get to hear the speech. I had the NPR coverage going on my radio at my desk, and just as the announcer first introduced Pres. Bush, the building fire alarm went off. Interesting timing. I took a quick look through some of these excerpts, and it just looks like more of the same.

He did a good job with wrapping his own previously stated goals for this term into a package that will promote those goals:
"We will widen the ownership of homes and businesses, retirement savings and health insurance - preparing our people for the challenges of life in a free society," Bush said. "By making every citizen an agent of his or her own destiny, we will give our fellow Americans greater freedom from want and fear and make our society more prosperous and just and equal."
Lots of people have dreams of owning their own homes and businesses, and by popping the idea of "ownership" of "retirement savings," in with them, he's laid the foundation for acceptance of his Social Security privatization program. After all, who wouldn't want to be "an agent of his or her own destiny"? If you argue against his privatization program, does that mean that you are denying people their destiny? Sort of like being either for the war in Iraq or for the terrorists.

On foreign policy:

"All the allies of the United States can know: We honor your friendship, we rely on your counsel, and we depend on your help," Bush said. "Division among free nations is a primary goal of freedom's enemies."

Good thing he put that in there, because the administration's actions over the last four years certainly haven't left most people with the impression of such honoring, reliance and dependance. And by following that declaration with the comment about division being the goal of "freedom's enemies," he presents his administration as being rational, cooperative and seeking unity, while the enemies of freedom want division, so the message would be that if you are a government that doesn't agree with the United States, you are giving in to the enemy. Not that the US has turned away from cooperation, but that other countries have failed to unite behind the US.

I just heard this bit in the post-speech analysis on NPR: "Self-government, in the end, relies on the governing of the self." Huh, who knew?

And as for domestic issues:
"Americans, at our best, value the life we see in one another, and must always remember that even the unwanted have worth," he said. "And our country must abandon all the habits of racism, because we cannot carry the message of freedom and the baggage of bigotry at the same time."
Who do you suppose he is lumping into the category of "the unwanted"? Unwanted by whom? As judged by whom? Is he referring to immigrants, gays, certain unborn children, the mentally ill, who? It seems fairly clear that he's signalling to anti-abortion groups, but the placement opens it up to more expansive interpretation. Toss in a call for an end to racism, and he's got himself on record as being against bigotry and division, without actually leaving himself open to any confusion about wanting to end other types of division from other groups.

Well-written and likely to help him greatly in his goals. Not that I agree with it, but it was well-crafted for his needs.
*******************************
Updated 1:44 pm: Here's a link to Boston.com's full text of the speech. I haven't had a chance to read the whole thing through, but I will.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:20 PM

Lost - Special 

Eyeball cam on... Michael!

In a nutshell: Michael was a doting father when Walt was a baby, but his girlfriend Susan left Michael and took Walt with her. After much sacrifice and many years, she died and Michael was once again a father. Michael fights with Locke and once again blames him for his problems with Walt. But they bond and understand each other later, as oft occurs on The Island.

Boone has cut his apron strings to Shannon, and she's none too pleased with the situation. Sayid and Shannon discovered that the maps are an overlapping set of maps that when put together show a particular spot on the island. Kind of like on Angel when they had to overlap the writings of what Wolfram and Hart sucked out of Lorne's memory. But the one of the island is not drawn to scale, so it's also not particularly clear where it is.

Walt apparently can create animals out of thin air with the help of his preadolescent emotions, and this time it's a polar bear, which aids in the Michael-Locke bonding. He also demonstrates a knack for knife-throwing, under Yoda-Locke's guidance. Kate and Jack make brief appearances as exposition. Charlie fights temptation and loses, eventually reading Claire's diary. As we all knew by the fact that Claire was in the previouslies, she shows up by the end of the episode, looking rather bedraggled and bewildered. And noticeably thinner. Looks like the possibly evil kid's being raised by someone else after all.

***********************
More details, should you care to read them:
Michael continues his frustration with his lack of instant success at parenting skills, and continues blaming Locke for everything. Locke, of course, recognizes that Michael is just trying to sort his way through the tangled jungle confusion of parenthood, while Hurley thinks Michael just plain hates being a father.

Through the flashbacks, we discover that Michael was a young artist who sacrificed his career so his girlfriend Susan, who refused to marry him could go to law school and begin her career. He doted on baby Walt, but apparently Susan became dissatisfied with Michael. She accepted a job in Amsterdam, and took Walt with her. She eventually married another attorney, Brian, and they moved first to Italy and then Australia. Just after Michael declared his intention to reclaim Walt (before the move to Italy), he stormed away from the payphone and right in front of a car. Give the man his prize for blind storming: shattered leg, surgery and a year in rehab. But Susan flew all the way back to the States to visit him in the hospital (after she hadn't heard from him for a COUPLE OF MONTHS), and even brought him a little something - a request that he relinquish his parental rights so Brian can adopt Walt. Nice.

Over the years Michael continued writing to Walt and sending him drawings, but he never heard from Walt. Meanwhile, we fast forward to life down under, and see that Walt may have an ability to mold reality when his emotions are in turmoil. He wanted Susan and Brian to look at the cool and very rare Australian bird in the book he was studying for school, and when he shouted out, "You're not looking!" a bird just like it immediately flew into the sliding glass door and fell dead on the deck outside. Kind of like in one of the first shows when the mysterious polar bear appeared just after Michael dissed Walt's spanish comic book, which featured a polar bear. Coincidence? I think not.

Anyway, Susan dies suddenly of some sort of unnamed blood disease, Brian leaves Walt with the nanny and shows up on Michael's doorstep, pretty much begging him to take Walt back. Brian only adopted Walt because Susan wanted that, and he wanted Susan, but the kid freaks him out. Wicked nice. Michael shows up in Australia, alone, and introduces himself to his son. The nanny shows more concern than Brian, who didn't bother to mention any of this to Walt. She gives Michael a box that contains all the letters and drawings he had sent over the years. Michael takes the high ground and tells Walt that Brian didn't have a choice, but that Michael is Walt's legal guardian and he made the decision. He also stretches the truth beyond its elastic limit when he tells Walt that Brian will still be part of his life, and he'll write, and visit when he can. And that Walt will have his dog. "But Vincent is Brian's dog." Pause. "Brian said you could have him." Go Michael!!! The high road can be so tiring.

Back Island-side, Walt and Michael continue to bicker, Locke tells Michael that he should stop treating Walt like a child, and let him "realize his potential" with the assistance of The Island. He also points out that Walt is "special" and "different." This kicks off Michael's brain-based tripwire, because Brian had also told him that Walt is "different." Michael burns Walt's spanish language comic book... and guess what comes next? Yep, Walt runs away and gets chased down by a polar bear just like the one in the comic book. I thought maybe the polar bear was one of the animals from Crazy Danielle's research ship, but the appearances are a bit less than random. Locke and Boone help Michael rescue Walt, and Michael shows Walt some respect and trust by giving him a big knife with which to protect himself. Michael and Walt exchange manly nods of the head, and Michael and Walt bond over the box o'letters that Walt's mom had kept from him.

In other news: see the nutshell summary above. Plus, Hurley organized another golf tournament, with the winner getting the last of the deodorant sticks. Yay - an acknowledgement of limited island hygiene!

Coming next week: Rerun of Sayid and Crazy Danielle. Maybe I'll post on it, since I didn't the first time around.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:35 AM

Inaugural Facts and History 

Here's a handy link for anyone wondering things like, "Why January 20th?" This was the getting coffee conversation in the kitchen this morning.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:48 AM
Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Sci-Fi Geek 

I've added yet another layer of confirmation to my status as a sci-fi entertainment geek. My new "Exercise" Netflix subqueue is already loaded up with a payload of (mostly) sci-fi DVDs to keep me distracted while gliding away in the morning:

All 40 series DVDs for Star Trek: The Original Series
All 30 series DVDs for Babylon 5
All 10 Star Trek movie DVDs
18 DVDs for the first 3 seasons of Angel (The Girl gave me Season 4 for Christmas)
All 12 series DVDs for Dark Angel
All 4 series DVDs for Crusade

Does it seem odd to you that ST:TOS would comprise that many DVDs? It is odd. Paramount only put two episodes on each disc, while most TV-to-DVDs have 4- 6 episodes per disc. Oh, plus you can only get the bonus materials if you buy the box set for each season.

Anyway, these should keep me busy for a while, since I get through one episode per exercise session, and will probably get through maybe half a movie per session. The Girl is just happy that she doesn't have to watch them.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:51 PM

McCorvey (Roe) v. Hill (Wade) 

Norma McCorvey, formerly known as Jane Roe, has petitioned the Supreme Court to reconsider their 31-year-old decision in Roe v. Wade, in which she was the original petitioner. Her request for reconsideration has been turned down by both the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas, and the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:29 PM

Pre-Inauguration Approval Ratings 

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Behold the Power of Gay 

A group of parents in Gwinnett County, Atlanta claims only to have the best interest of the students at heart in their demands that Berkmar High School's "Gay, Lesbian and Straight Society" change its name.
"I submit to you the name itself is very sexually explicit, provocative and inflammatory," the group's spokesperson Faye Caldwell told the school board.
"People have very strong opinions about homosexuality. . . . There could be a confrontation. We must protect the well-being of the students."

Wow, who knew that just use of the words "gay" or "lesbian" could incite violence from which the students must be protected. Then again, if the students are that likely to start assaulting each other at the mere mention of "gay" or "lesbian," I'm thinking that alone justifies the need for the group.

I wonder if the school has a Republican Club or a Democratic Society. People have strong opinions about political affiliation.

The school principal earlier pulled a pair of point-counterpoint type editorials about the forming of the club, again based on the claim that the discussion would be inflammatory and disruptive. The principal also would not allow the newspaper editors to run blank pages with "Censored" printed across them, essentially censoring information about the censorship.

Last April the school paper (The Liberty, ironically) did run a story about a proposed state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, titled "State entrusts marriage definition to voters." Apparently stories about limiting the rights of gay men and lesbians isn't inflammatory, but stories about groups dedicated to building alliances and understanding are.

I do find it noteworthy that the school symbol is the exact reverse of the New England Patriots logo. What's up with that?

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:21 PM

Quest for Health - The Home Front 

In my ongoing quest to regain my previously healthy fitness levels (including reducing that nasty cholesterol), I purchased a piece of home exercise equipment this weekend, the Gazelle Edge. This is the basic Gazelle model, a cable-based elliptical type thing. The knee surgeon I had to see for my bashed-up knee recommended elliptical training for its nonimpact features, and it seems to be working. It was less than a hundred bucks and seemed worth a shot.

It's great, at least for me. It really does fold up easily and slides alongside the bureau when I'm not using it, and by doing the various styles they recommend in the manual, I've been getting a good workout on it. Okay, it's only been four days, but I've used it every day so far (twice on Saturday), for 45-60 minutes each session.

For me, the key was the environment. I put it in the guest room, which is where all my clothes are (The Girl requires the full use of the storage space in our bedroom, plus the hall and office closets), and I picked up a cheap DVD player to hook up to the TV in that room. Of course, the TV I had in there (which was hooked up to nothing) didn't work since it's old enough that it only had a coaxial input, while the DVD player had no coaxial output. Fortunately, The Girl's drumming TV in the basement music room is only hooked up to a VCR via coaxial, has additional input jacks, and is the same size, so I swapped them and everyone's happy. Now I have my geeky DVD library of stuff The Girl doesn't particularly care to view (Firefly, Angel, The Sound of Music, Tomb Raider), and I watch movies while I work out. Fabulous!!!!

Now I've also found that Netflix has added another feature, that allows you to split your queue into multiple queues for the household. We're on the 5-movie at a time plan, so I'm going to allocate 1 movie at a time to Exercise. I'll put all the selections that only I want to see, and when I return one, it will send another one from that queue. When we return one from the Household queue, it will send another one from that queue. Now there's no chance that we'll get three Babylon 5 DVDs at the same time, while Under the Tuscan Sun is languishing, waiting to be shipped. Everyone's happy, life is good.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:09 AM

Enterprise - Daedalus 

Now that they've finally put away the temporal cold war storyline, the show seems more solid. The three story arc on Vulcan was fabulous - maybe because it involved slightly less Archer, but maybe the show's just finally finding its feet. This week's was also better than most of the previous two seasons, although there goes Archer holding his breath in order to have explosive exhalations through which to display his frustration and resolve. Yeah, we've seen it a few times already. I liked the little touch when T'Pol was going back down the ladder in Engineering after talking with Tripp, how she turned around and went down backwards so she could steal another look at him and his new equanimity.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:49 AM

Joan of Arcadia - Queen of the Zombies 

Fabulous. Go Glynis! Good job in Spiderman 2, by the way. When Joan started singing perched atop the rising moon, I thought her voice was a good high school show voice, okay. But then the aptness of the words, and the heart she put into it... Sniff. Pass the Puffs Plus. I had to rewind the Tivo and play it again. I didn't see the Director God twist coming. I guess after De-Lovely, God's gotten kind of used to the Director role. I'm glad Kevin apologized to Andy for not believing him, but I didn't buy that he would have accused him of lying in the first place. Andy hadn't lied to this point - he'd been whiny, self-loathing, self-centered and shirking of his own responsibilities in life, but to my knowledge he hadn't lied. I'm also glad some of the seething but unacknowledged anger is dissipating from the Girardi household. It just didn't fit in that lovely arts and crafts house.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:12 AM
Friday, January 14, 2005

Weather Whiplash 

Just as I'm accepting the idea that Boston has been transplanted to Ferenginar, apparently now we're moving to Ice Station Zebra.

We've had wet snow, sleet, rain, mist, and yesterday the fog was unbelievable. The current temperature is 60 degrees. Last night as it was warming, the snow on the side of the highway was sublimating, and the resulting mists were forming phantom-like tendrils that danced on the edge and stretched out toward the passing cars. Very creepy. Then closer to home, the golf course at the end of the block was generating so much fog that The Girl drove right past the turn for our street!

But by this afternoon the temperature will have dropped to the 30's, with a possibility of snow. By tonight we'll be in the teens. I didn't even need a jacket on the way to work today, but I had to be prepared for the cold wintry commute home this evening. It felt odd carrying a winter coat while walking on such a warm spring-like day.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:12 AM

Scheduling Reminder: Golden Globes 

Don't forget - the Hollywood Foreign Press Association will be holding the 62nd Annual Golden Globe Awards on Sunday, which will be broadcast on NBC from 8-11 pm EST. I've managed to see many more nominated films since they were announced in December, but alas some haven't yet had their wide releases.

At least I'm confident I'll have seen the major award films by the time Sunday, February 27th rolls around and brings the Academy Awards on my favorite holiday of the year, Oscar Night. I'm counting the days until Million Dollar Baby is finally available for those of us in the masses to see. FYI - Oscar nominations will be announced on Tuesday, January 25 at 8:30 am EST.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 7:51 AM
Thursday, January 13, 2005

Showtime Command: L Word a Go, Queer as Folk a No-Go 

AfterEllen.com reports that Showtime officially announced today that they've given the green light for a third season of The L Word, but that the upcoming (beginning in May) season of Queer as Folk will be the last.

The L Word will start its second season on February 20, for those wondering.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:49 PM

Lost - Hearts and Minds 

I spy with my little eye - several layers of mindfuck.

Last night's iris cam was dedicated to Shannon and Boone, and through their flashbacks and Boone's conversations with the continuingly inscrutable Locke we learn:

  • They are stepsiblings. Shannon was 8 and Boone was 10 when her father married his mother.
  • Shannon has stepmom issues.
  • Shannon has a habit of using people without regard for the consequences.
  • Boone has a habit of paying off Shannon's poorly chosen boyfriends to dump her.
  • Shannon at least once set up the Boone payment in order to get the money herself.
  • Shannon's Australian bloke double-crossed her and left town with Boone's $50K.
  • Shannon got drunk, confronted Boone about his being in love with her, and they have sex in Boone's incredibly pricey hotel room that overlooks Syndey Harbor, including the Opera House. She then resumes her usual disdainful attitude.
We also get a glimpse of Sawyer being hauled in handcuffs through a Sydney police station, where Boone is trying to bully some cops into checking in on Shannon and her seemingly abusive fella.

In other news, we are led to believe that Locke is more of a psychofreak than we thought when he assaults Boone for wanting to tell Shannon the Secret of the Mystery Bunker. Locke, after telling Boone that Boone needs to let go of some things, whacks Boone on the head with a knife handle, ties him to a log in an incredibly intricate manner, slaps some homemade wound treatment on his head, and leaves him there with a knife just out of his reach. He assures Boone that he'll be able to cut himself loose when he has the right motivation. That motivation comes in the form of Shannon tied to a nearby tree with the Screaming Meemie Monster closing in. He gets loose, cuts her loose, and they run, hide and run some more. Shannon is just too tempting a treat, though, and the Screaming Meemie Monster chews her up and spits her out, bloody, with gaping wounds, and very much dead. That night Boone tries to kill Locke (ha - like that's going to be successful!), and discovers that the whole thing was a hallucination induced by the mystical faux head wound goo and the magic of the island. Locke seems surprised and intrigued that Boone's motivation was Shannon - I think he now knows their sultry Sydney secret. See TV Tome note below.

Hurley and Jin have an amusing B-story in which Hurley sucks up to Jin in order to learn the secrets of fishing. Apparently Hurley's been eating nothing but fruit, and it's wreaking havoc on his digestive system. They come to an amusing settlement.

Everybody else is there for exposition purposes, but we do learn that Sun, now joined by Kate, has been cultivating a garden and grove, and Kate figures out Sun's linguistic secret when Sun laughs at a joke in the garden. It also appears that Sun is falling back in love with Jin now that he's out from under the evil influence of Sun's mobster father.

There's some vague compass mystery involving Jack, Sayid, Locke and a compass. Either the magnetic fields on the island or freaky or Locke is up to something. Again. But I'm sure if it's Locke, it's something really deep, meaningful and ultimately for the greater good and involves becoming enlightened.

Next week: I have no idea, since ABC is screwing around with their broadcast times again. Tivo stopped recording at 9:01 (it extended the time on its own due to the published broadcast schedule) and yet still cut off the last moments of the show. According to TV Tome, I missed Boone telling Locke that he felt relieved when he thought Shannon was dead, and Locke saying that Boone needs to let Shannon go.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:48 AM
Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Geek Shame 

One of the great features of blogs and the world of blogs is the speed at which corrections can be made and at which additional information can be brought to the discussion.

I've already been made aware of a glaring error in my guest post. Not only is it a glaring error, but it's the kind of thing I usually pride myself on avoiding by meticulously checking details. IMDB is usually my friend. But alas, I neglected my companion last evening as I was putting together my discussion of Boston Legal. Mea culpa, mea culpa.

I noted that Boston Legal is a spinoff of The Practice, which is true. I unfortunately then mistakenly attributed The Practice as having sprung forth from Ally McBeal. It did not. The two shows were connected, but not in story origin. Fortunately, Bill Childs of MassTort.org was jarred by the simple wrongness of it all, and did the digging which I should have done. On a side note, I'd like to let Bill know that I just looked out my office window and gave a friendly wave to the west, where he is a professor at the nearby Western New England College School of Law. Hi Professor Childs!!

But back to the world of David E. Kelley. He's the source of my troubles. That and the fact that I didn't watch the early episodes of any of these three shows, but waited until later and jumped in midstream. These are all David E. Kelley creations - you know, the shows that close with the old lady knitting in her rocking chair in front of the tv, who then says "You stink!" So, Kelley created The Practice, which takes place in Boston and first aired on 4 March 1997. Then Kelley's second Boston-based legal show, Ally McBeal, aired on 8 September 1997. The attorneys of the two shows first collided in an internetwork crossover event on Ally McBeal's 27 April 1998 episode "The Inmates" (this episode also had guest star Daniel Dae Kim, currently of Lost), and on that same night's The Practice episode "Axe Murderer."

So while one show did not spawn the other, they are related. They're more like siblings that see each other only on special occasions.

Boston Legal is a definite spinoff of The Practice (which I suppose makes it a niece or nephew of Ally McBeal). William Shatner's Denny Crane first appeared on The Practice in the 21 March 2004 episode "War of the Roses." James Spader's Alan Shore and Rhona Mitra's Tara Wilson were regular cast members by this point, and now the three are among the cast of Boston Legal.

We'll just ignore David E. Kelley's legal show Girls Club. Instead, let's focus on the memory of some of his other shows I loved, such as Chicago Hope (creater/writer), Picket Fences (creator/writer), Doogie Howser, M.D. (creator/writer), and yes, L.A. Law (writer).

I'm hoping my efforts at digging up and making available this vast amount of marginally useless trivia will renew my geek status.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:29 AM

Guest Blogging Across the Universe 

Evan Schaeffer, multi-blawger extraordinaire, graciously invited me last week to be one of his guest bloggers on Notes From the (Legal) Underground, and I enthusiastically accepted. My guest post, titled "Boston Legal: What's In It For You?" was published this morning.

Today's other guest blogger is Georgia State University Professor Martin Grace, whose own blog is RiskProf. His post is titled "Continuing the Med-Mal Debate: Insurance as a Whipping Boy?" and continues the medical malpractice and tort reform debate that has been going on over at Notes from the (Legal) Underground and in the Bush Administration. Okay, maybe the Administration hasn't been holding a debate as pushing an agenda. Oops, have I given away my position on the subject?

Anyway, check out the guest post. Hopefully I've been able to make an enjoyable contribution to Evan's always entertaining and enlightening blog.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:17 AM
Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Chocolate Overload 

The Guyfriend and I at lunch today decided to try out Starbucks new chocolatey beverage, the Chantico. Yikes. It only comes in a 6-ounce size, and even that was way to much. Neither of us could finish it. It's like a super rich, dark hot chocolate concentrate. If you're feeling the urge to try it out, I'd suggest sharing it with 3 friends or combining it with a quart of milk.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:31 PM

Blow, Gabriel, Blow 

When it comes to timing, this would be hard to beat.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:49 AM

Critics' Choice Awards for 2004 

The Broadcast Film Critics Association yesterday announced the winners of their Critics' Choice Awards for 2004.

Best Picture: Sideways
Best Actor: Jamie Foxx - Ray
Best Actress: Hilary Swank - Million Dollar Baby
Best Supporting Actor: Thomas Haden Church - Sideways
Best Supporting Actress: Virginia Madsen - Sideways
Best Acting Ensemble: Sideways
Best Director: Martin Scorsese - The Aviator
Best Writer: Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor - Sideways
Best Animated Feature: The Incredibles
Best Young Actor: Freddie Highmore - Finding Neverland
Best Young Actress: Emmy Rossum - The Phantom of the Opera
Best Popular Movie: Spider-Man 2
Best Family Film (live action): Finding Neverland
Best Picture Made for Television: The Life and Death of Peter Sellers
Best Documentary Feature: Fahrenheit 9/11
Best Foreign Language Film: The Sea Inside
Best Song: "Old Habits Die Hard", Mick Jagger and Dave Stewart - Alfie
Best Soundtrack: Ray
Best Composer: Howard Shore - The Aviator

The full breakdown of all nominees and how many votes were received by each (a very nice feature, by the way) can be found here.

I just can't get on board with the big ravings over Sideways. Overall I liked it, but many of the scenes just felt too drawn out and/or like poor attempts at being deep and intense. The Girl really didn't like it, and let me know partway through that in her opinion "this movie sucks." I'm fully on board with Martin Scorcese (Aviator) for Best Director.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:23 AM
Monday, January 10, 2005

Lost - Whatever the Case May Be 

This seemed like kind of a set up episode. Nothing incredibly exciting, no big news, but lots of groundwork for future episodes and revelations.

This week's flashback is again spotlight on Kate. We first see her as an innocent bank customer seeking a loan for her photography business, when she's taken hostage during a robbery, but it turns out she was actually the mastermind behind the crime. So, Kate's a bad girl.

BUT, then it turns out that she shot her three cohorts in order to prevent them from shooting the bank manager. So, maybe Kate's undercover or something.

BUT, then it turns out that she set the whole bank robbery scenario up in order to force the bank manager to use his key to open a security deposit box to which she has the co-key, but to which she is not a signatory. She then removes the only item in the box, a single envelope. So, Kate's once again and still a mystery.

On the island, Kate and Sawyer run into each other in the jungle and recommence their junior high sexual tension banter. They then discover a waterfall and fresh water pool and decide to have a celebratory swim. For some reason, Sawyer decides to remove only his shirt and shoes, and dives in with his jeans still on. Wouldn't that be incredibly uncomfortable? We've already seen him walk out of the ocean stark naked in front of Kate and taunt her with his own lack of embarrasment, so why wouldn't he have taken off the jeans? Kate, on the other hand, strips down to her pricey looking skivvies. How is she keeping those things so clean and looking like she just picked them up at Victoria's Secret? They've been on the island for WEEKS now. Even if she had several pair and managed to find them, she'd have to be doing some serious scrubbing after all this time.

But back to the actual story. While diving in the pool, they discover a row of airplane seats which still have the designated passengers strapped in, and the under-the-seat luggage still in place. Sawyer digs right in with the looting, and Kate surprisingly joins in, but her choice of the spoils is the locked metal briefcase under the seat. Sawyer pulls out his bully routine and takes it away. The fight over possession and entry into the briefcase consumes most of the rest of the show, and includes some amusing scenes in which Sawyer tries to pop open this apparently super-security brand of case. Even Michael and Hurley recognize the futility. Kate goes to the Shiny Knight in Waiting, Jack, and convinces him to dig up the Marshall, as it's his case and contains several guns and ammo, which shouldn't fall into Sawyer's hands. She also manages to further alienate Jack by lying to him about not finding the key in the Marshall's wallet, when he saw her palm it. Big argument, emotional turmoil, and Kate fesses up that the envelope belonged to "the man I loved. The man I killed." Jack stalks away, and Kate opens the envelope to reveal a tiny little die-cast airplane model. What?

In other low level action, Charlie and Denial/Faith Lady (with the Missing Tail Section Husband) bond over grief and knowing when to ask for help. Shannon and Boone fight some more about Shannon's alleged uselessness. Sayid and Shannon attempt to decipher some mathematical equations and notations in French that Sayid lifted from Crazy Danielle. Shannon continues to protest that she barely speaks French, and then proceeds to demonstrate great proficiency, but no one seems to notice, and Sayid says that their efforts are useless, which clearly Shannon takes to mean that she's useless. Turns out the notations were the French lyrics to Beyond the Sea, which she then sings. Boone and Locke are continuing to work in secret on their mysterious metallic find in the mud. Claire is still missing. The tide is shifting, the fusilage will soon be underwater, and the beach group shifts up the shoreline a bit.

One more question - shouldn't the survivors have been more concerned about getting the rotting bodies out of the new source of fresh water than on who gets to keep the shiny, shiny briefcase?

Next week: Locke gets cranky, Boone gets a headache, and Shannon gets airlifted. Not in a good way.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:52 AM

Book Muscles 

Oof. I loaded up the wheelie bag AND a big messenger bag this morning to transport my computer, power cords and books for the three classes I have this evening, and headed for the T.

I decided to detour over to NESL this morning to drop off the books and computer in my tiny little locker, so I wouldn't be hauling them back and forth to work, plus now I can just leave the wheelie bag in my office for the rest of the week, since the books will be taking up residence in the locker. No point bringing them home when I don't get home until 10 or 11 pm and have to leave at 6 am the next day.

Wheelie bags are great, but you still need to hoist the things up and down stairs, in and out of the car, over slushy curbs, etc. My book muscles are definitely out of shape - forearms and wrists are already aching, and my lower back isn't whistling show tunes either.

I really need to start working out again.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:13 AM
Friday, January 07, 2005

Corporate Politics Through Calendars 

The Guyfriend and I did a bit of 2005 calendar perusing at lunchtime today, at both Newbury Comics and Wal-Mart. I was actually at Wal-Mart to pick up some cool new folders and a portable 3-hole punch, but that's another geeky story.

I found it amusing that among Newbury Comics' various offerings featuring bands, tv shows and various retro themes (I need to let The Creeping Unknown know about the Curious George calendar and the Pulp Movie Calendar) was a Bill Clinton Calendar. I actually considered purchasing it for my office, as a reminder of auld lang syne.

But then, as we were checking out the calendars at Wal-Mart, I saw that among all the cutesy, inspirational and semi-religious calendars (including the Passion of the Christ calendar) was a Ronald Reagan calendar.

The secret is now out. To help you determine the corporate ideology of a given retailer, check out the calendar selection.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:30 PM

Publicity You Can't Buy. Oh, Wait... 

USA Today has published a report that the Department of Education paid commentator Armstrong Williams (a former aide to both Clarence Thomas and Strom Thurmond) $240,000 to comment regularly on No Child Left Behind, to interview Education Secretary Rod Paige for TV and radio spots that would broadcast during Williams' show, and to persuade members of America's Black Forum (an association of black broadcast journalists) to likewise discuss NCLB in their respective media venues. Williams states that he did not disclose the contract to his own audiences, but did disclose it to his professional contacts, and he defends his taking the contract because NCLB "is something I believe in."

Others are criticizing the arrangement as an illegal use of taxpayer funds to lobby or promote a piece of legislation. The Government Accountability Office determined that a similar arrangements promoting the administration's Medicare prescription drug plan and an administration anti-drug program were illegal.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:09 PM

Kids of Gay Parents Have Cooties 

CNN reported this week that a group of parents with children enrolled at St. John the Baptist School, a catholic school in Costa Mesa, CA, are enraged that the school has enrolled twin boys into the kindergarten class, despite the fact that the boys' parents are two gay men. The group is demanding that the school institute a policy whereby only families who "pledge to abide by Catholic teachings" be allowed to send their kids to the school.

The superintendent of diocese schools, Rev. Gerald M. Horan, has wisely pointed out that such a policy would require a large cut in the number of students presently enrolled, as any student whose parents were divorced, used birth control or were married outside of the church would be barred.

The upset parents are threatening to remove their own children from the school, and may appeal to the Vatican to intervene. One parent had this to say:
"The boys are being used as pawns by these men to further their agenda," said Monica Sii, who has four children at the school.

Huh. It seemed to me that the men were simply trying to put their kids into school. If they had been trying to further an agenda, you'd think they would have presented their views to the LA Times, which originally published the story. That story and another LA Times article provide more details, such as that the twins are baptized Catholics, and quotes other parents who are supportive of the school's current admission policies.

On the other hand, the angry parents do indeed appear to be using a couple of 5-year-olds to advance their own agenda of hatred and exclusion against the kids' parents. FYI - the parents making the demands are represented by Newport Beach attorney Michael Joseph Sundstedt.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:44 AM

Bookstore Blues 

Made the semesterly trip to the bookstore yesterday. Of my four classes, one is the second half of a full year course, so no new books for that one. One of the required texts for Environmental Law is A Civil Action, which I already have, so that was a small savings. Total cost for remaining required books: $280.10.

Okay, okay. Total cost for remaining required books minus the Reese's Cup that was my reward for making the trek: $279.35.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:31 AM
Thursday, January 06, 2005

Back from the Vacation Abyss 

I took a few days off this week, to coincide with my last week of break from school, and delved deep into the world of cinematic entertainment. But alas, the time off had to end and I had to tear myself away from the box office and the DVD player and return to the world of work.

Among the activities of the New Year's weekend and the Mon-Wed following:
  • Attended a horrifying New Year's Eve party, in the company of a number of people who had been drinking since 9 am that day, most of whom were also chain smokers. We had been asked to arrive early, around 5:30 pm, so The Girl could practice with the band. Unfortunately, the other band members had also been drinking heavily for many hours, so while the drums (The Girl) were fabulous, the rest of the musicianship left something to be desired. Plus there was no food at all until about 10:00 pm, when a bowl of tortilla chips, a bowl of Ruffles and a bowl of salsa appeared, followed at 11:00 by a platter of bread with melted cheese and pepperoni. Around 12:30 some more substantial food appeared, after several obnoxious folk had sprayed champagne around the room and passersby at midnight.
  • Left the horrifying party and stayed at the home of The Creeping Unknown, where we regaled her and the Dark Lord with tales of the party, and where we ate wonderful french toast made with eggnog and challah bread.
  • Had a classmate and her husband over for steak and a movie on New Year's Day. A wonderful time was had by all, especially when we dug into the turtle cheesecake they brought along.
  • Movies at the theater: Being Julia, Kinsey, Sideways.
  • Movies on DVD: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Spiderman 2, Garden State, Mary Poppins, Hijacking Catastrophe.
  • Shows on DVD: Several episodes of Firefly and Angel Season 4.
  • Shows on Tivo: Much Buffy and Deep Space 9, plus finally a new episode of Lost!
  • Plus some laundry, snow shoveling, shopping, and a couple of meals at restaurants. We got some great deals on candles at Kohl's, and picked up two new snow shovels.

And now, back to work.


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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:34 AM