Sunday, February 27, 2005

Oscar Picks 2005 

UPDATE (3/1/05, 8:34 am): Now that I've recovered from my very late night Sunday night, I've put an asterisk next to my correct picks. Only 9 10 11 correct for me this year, while I had 16 last year. Full list of 2005 winners here.
**********************************
Okay, it's time to put it out there. Here are my picks for the 77th Academy Awards:

*Picture: Million Dollar Baby
Director: Martin Scorcese, The Aviator
*Actress: Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby
*Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett, The Aviator
*Actor: Jamie Foxx, Ray
Supporting Actor: Thomas Haden Church, Sideways
*Animated Feature: The Incredibles

Art Direction: Finding Neverland
*Cinematography: The Aviator
Costume Design: Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
Documentary Feature: Super Size Me
Documentary Short Subject: The Children of Leningradsky
Film Editing: Collateral
*Foreign Language Film: The Sea Inside
Makeup: The Passion of the Christ

Original Score: The Village
*Original Song: "Al Otro Lado Del Rio," The Motorcycle Diaries
Short Animated: Guard Dog
Short Live Action: Little Terrorist
*Sound Editing: The Incredibles
Sound Mixing: The Aviator
Visual Effects: I, Robot

*Adapted Screenplay: Sideways Million Dollar Baby (I checked my ballot when I got home last night, and was reminded that I had changed my vote - before the awards began(!) - to Sideways.)
*Original Screenplay: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 12:18 PM

Oscar Night Final Prep 

The Girl and I have watched the last nominated films we're going to be able to squeeze in, and now it's time to prepare The Castle for tonight's event of the year, Oscar Night!

We braved the wild parking safari that is a trip to the West Newton Cinema, to see Vera Drake. I dropped The Girl off to procure the tickets, and about 30 minutes later I walked into the theater to join her. We ended up sitting in the 2nd row, as that and the 1st row were the only ones with available seats. Thank goodness for many, many previews, as I think we only missed the first few minutes. Then last night we watched The Story of the Weeping Camel, and this morning we finished up The Motorcycle Diaries.

The Girl says that if anyone had told her seven years ago that she'd be spending a Saturday night watching a British film about abortion in the 1950s and then lying on the couch watching a foreign language documentary set in Mongolia, about camels and camel herders in the Gobi desert, she'd tell that person they were crazy. Yet there we were. My, how times change.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 12:03 PM
Saturday, February 26, 2005

Saturday Quickie 

Ohmygod! It's a weekend post!!! That NEVER happens lately!

Yes, I've been a scarce online presence this semester. I've found I can get a lot more studying in if I

1) Go to the library instead of trying to study at home. The calls of the fridge and the Tivo are just too strong otherwise.

2) Leave the computer in the locker on the 5th floor while I'm in the library. There are a few workstations in the library I can consult for such things as this.

But we're in the final countdown day before Oscar Night, so I just couldn't stay away. Here I am at a workstation. The Girl and I will be seeing Vera Drake this evening, which is the last of the major category films we haven't seen. We watched one of those 2004: the film year in review shows last night to ratchet up the Academy Award spirit, and the party preparation will commence this evening, with the putting away of the Christmas decorations. What? They look nice, okay?

I'll post my picks tomorrow morning.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:19 AM
Friday, February 25, 2005

Friday Random Ten 

Being once more rather pressed at work, and not wanting to post up my Oscar picks until Sunday morning (maybe Saturday - we'll see), I'm instead hopping on feministe's Friday tradition of setting the MP3 player to random and listing the first ten songs it plays. I have a Nomad Jukebox2 which is a few years old, and I haven't upgraded the firmware in quite a while, so I have no easy way to random play from every track. Instead I just random played from the ton of stuff I already happened to have loaded into Now Playing. And here are the first ten. Hmm, seems I've been on a bit of a soundtrack kick:

  1. Tuesday Morning - Melissa Etheridge (Lucky)
  2. Spectres in the Fog - Hans Zimmer (The Last Samurai)
  3. Take Your Time - Lori Carson (Simply Irresistable)
  4. Over the Rainbow - Jane Monheit (Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow)
  5. All I Ask of You (Reprise) - Christine & Raoul (Phantom of the Opera film soundtrack)
  6. We Close Our Eyes - Susanna Hoffs (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
  7. Just One of Those Things - Diana Krall (De-Lovely)
  8. That Old Black Magic - Jessica (Simply Irresistable)
  9. Rhythm of the Night - Valeria (Moulin Rouge)
  10. The Phantom of the Opera - Phantom & Christine (Phantom of the Opera film soundtrack)
There you have it. Perhaps I'll check for firmware updates this weekend and I'll be able to play with more randomness next week.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:44 PM
Thursday, February 24, 2005

Manure Piles and Air Quality 

The Guyfriend sent me a link this morning to the burning news story about the Nebraska feedlot owner whose 2000-ton (yes, a ton of tons) manure pile had spontaneously ignited and then smoldered for four months until finally being extinguished last week.

What changed this little article from being just another "oddly enough" items and into a postable piece was that the owner was assisted in his efforts to extinguish the steaming pile of poo by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (Air Quality Division). It seems that the smoke, pollutants and/or particulates were getting him into deep shit with the Clean Air Act and it had to be stopped. Yes, I'm taking Environmental Law this semester, so these things now attract my attention.

Feedlot owner David Dickinson believes that the addition of grass clippings from the City of Milford may have played a part in igniting the manure, as the clippings are more combustible than the cowchips. He won't be taking the clippings in the future. Seems like something he might have researched before mixing them on in.

In case you're considering starting your own massive dung pile, better check out the Nebraska DEQ Livestock Waste Control Regulations first. FYI - here's Dickinson's notice of completed DEQ application for his Midwest Feeding Company's livestock waste control facility.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:27 AM
Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Concerned Women of America - Smut-mongers? 

Kevin The Sleepy Sage has brought forth a post of genius, which will leave you on the fainting couch from laughter.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:27 PM

Lilly's French Bakery and Cafe 

There was a 4-alarm fire a few blocks from my office last night, which destroyed 7 small businesses. One of the losses was Lilly's French Bakery and Cafe, my absolutely favorite place for treats and sandwiches. I often met a friend from school there for breakfast of croissants and Earl Grey, and loved their sandwiches at lunchtime. Even when I was avoiding treats, I could just walk by at lunchtime and inhale the wondrous aromas wafting through the doors and windows, and feel treated nonetheless.

Just yesterday I was telling a coworker that he should try their chicken salad sandwiches, as he had been saying how much he loves chicken salad but can never make it just right himself. Last week The Guyfriend and I were in there (I was picking up just such a chicken salad sandwich, on french bread, with lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo and roasted red pepper -mm), and we both noticed the great cake topper they had on display atop a wedding cake. Rather than the usual standing still, side-by-side couple, they instead appeared to be in mid waltz, with her gown twirling around in a spin. We both said it was so ... kinetic.

As was Lilly's. Always lively, full of old and new friends, and that delicious combination of chocolate, fruits, breads, cakes and conversation. Here's hoping the Sidiropoulos family is able to rebuild or relocate. We'll all follow.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:00 AM
Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The L Word - Life, Loss, Leaving 

The new season has begun. Much of this first episode felt a bit clunky to me, mostly I suspect because they were trying to sum up all the previous season's storylines in such a way that new viewers could catch up fairly quickly and develop some quick investment in the characters. Unfortunately, I found that the sum-ups necessarily flattened the stories and characters.

They've also revved up the opening. I like the new tune, but I'm not so hot on the visuals. It's kind of a pasted up flash animation utilizing cutouts from People Magazine, and I found it distracting that the various actors' names weren't shown at the same time as their faces. More typically the name and the face were a mismatch. That's not Jennifer Beales! What did Katherine Moenig do to her hair? Oh, it's Leisha Hailey.

Lots of personal responsibility issues in this ep, particularly for Bette. It's been a while since we last tuned in, as Tina is now visibly pregnant, or at least it's visible when her stomach is bared, as it was in the doctor's office. It seems she knew she was pregnant when the big Candace fight happened, but she hadn't been telling Bette because she didn't think Bette could handle another miscarriage. Now she's determined to have the kid on her own.

Bette has continued to see Candace all this time, but broke up with her one morning and then marched on over to The Planet to announce her undying love for Tina and to beg her to come back. Tina's not buying it, and gets Bette to admit that the mistake relationship had only ended that morning. Only Tina uses much more colorful language. And knocked the table over. And spilled coffee all over Evil Tonya. Bonus points!

Bette spends the rest of the episode sort of taking responsibility for her own actions, but then going through a litany of reasons why it wasn't really her fault. I'm really not liking Bette this season. I'm bordering on calling her evil. I'm definitely already calling her an asshole. Kitt calls her a pootie-chasing dog. Go, Kit!

Shane is trying to go back to her heartbreaking ways, and collides with a personal assistant/dj who works at the tv studio where Shane was hired to do Ariana Huffington's hair for an interview. The PA, Carmen, seems very cool, so Shane totally alienates her one night soon after their backroom dalliance by making out with some other chick in front of her at Milk.

The writers handled Marina's disappearance by turning it into a running gag of incredibly poor taste. She checked into the Bel Aire Hotel and tried to kill herself, but the particular method changes depending on who's telling the story. Finally we get the real story from Robin, who breaks the news to Jenny. The hospital called Robin because they found her phone number in Marina's purse. And by the way, Marina had been calling Jenny's name in the ER while they were treating her for her drug overdose. She recovered, and her mother whisked her back to the family villa in Umbria. Yes, Robin managed to locate the family based on Marina's passing comment that she was from Umbria. Whatever.

Gene gets sick of Jenny checking out women wherever they go, and decides to break the news to her that she is not bi, but is totally, completely gay. Period, get over it. Tim has taken a job in Ohio at Oberlin College, and makes his petty exit after pretty much blaming Bette for introducing Jenny to Marina and ruining his life, and then he sneaks into the studio where Jenny is sleeping, strips naked and climbs on top of her for a little goodbye sex, despite Jenny's quiet protests. After about 30 really distressing seconds of Tim sex, he climbs off and heads for the road. Bye Tim!

Kit is still dancing with Ivan and goes in for a kiss, but Ivan stops her "until you're really sure." Later Ivan freaks out when Kit comes into his apartment and catches a glimpse of him mostly au natural.

The best part of the show was Alice and Dana, who give in to temptation in the restroom of The Planet, then meet for a run at Runyon Canyon to figure out what to do. They embark on a plan to avoid temptation - no meeting alone, especially in rooms with beds, couches, tables, floors, or in the back seats of cars. They're really cute, their dialogue was fun and they have good chemistry.

So all in all, I'm looking forward to the rest of the season, especially if it involves less Bette being evil and more Alice and Dana sharing scenes.
*****************************
UPDATE (2/23/05, 9:17 am): I forgot to point out that we were treated to several more demonstrations of Jenny's pretentious writing, plus her display of the many, many rejections letters she has received thus far for Thus Spake. I think for me the pinnacle of her verbal assitude came when she returned her engagement and wedding rings to Tim, but asked to keep his stopwatch because, "I don't want our relationship to evanesce." The first time I watched, I thought she said "I don't want our relationship to have an S." Have an S? What, like as in stop? The stopwatch represents the never-ending quality that is them? What? Then when The Girl got home from her weekend conference and we watched it again, we both thought she said, "I don't want our relationship to F and S." But just as The Girl was expressing her puzzlement at this, it dawned on me what she was really saying. "Oh, evananesce! What a pretentious ass." Thus spake Rogue Slayer Law Student.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:12 PM

Academy Award Musical Performers - Update 

This evening's Oscar blog entry reveals additional performers who will be providing their renditions of the Best Song nominees: Santana, and Antonio Banderas. Since the performers for the other songs had already been announced, it seems likely that they'll be performing jointly on "Al Otro Lado Del Río" - THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 7:17 PM

Head of the Table: Justice O'Connor 

With Chief Justice Rehnquist out of commission today due to complications of his thyroid cancer treatment and with Justice Stevens stuck in Florida due to flight delays, Justice O'Connor today presided over the Supreme Court today, the first time a woman has filled this role.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 6:14 PM

Attack Iran? Absolutely Not! Today... 

Once again the Bush Administration has flatly denied planning an attack on Iran. This time the statement comes directly from the big guy, Pres. Bush himself:
"This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. Having said that, all options are on the table," Bush said.
This follows Secretary of State Rice's earlier statement that attacking Iran is, simply not on the agenda at this point in time." Sec. Rice's statement was often quoted as "simply not on the agenda," but it sounds a little different, and more in line with the presidents little mixed message when you include the "at this point in time."

So it's ridiculous that the US is "getting ready" to attack Iran? But all options are on the table. If all options are on the table, I'm guessing that there are a number of plans that have been developed, some of which would include an invasion. Is this a question of semantics over the difference between "planning" and "getting ready?"

It's not like Bush has issued any warnings or veiled threats to Iran in the past. Or like Sec. Rice has singled out Iran as a threat to global security or anything like that.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:09 PM

Charles & Camilla: No White House For You 

Is this for real? 365Gay.com reports that President Bush, in his ongoing efforts to "strengthen traditional marriage," has moved on from isolating and alienating gay families, and is now targeting people whose "traditional" marriages didn't work out. The incident that prompted this statement was reported in London newspapers. According to the news reports, the Bush administration has cancelled plans to host Prince Charles and Camilla at the White House during their US tour after their marriage this spring. The reason given? Camilla is a divorcee, and their being invited dinner guests at the White House would be "inappropriate."

What? The prince himself was divorced from Princess Diana prior to her death. Does her subsequent death erase the divorce? Or does the Bush White House simply not recognize divorce, which would make Charles simply a widower, while Camilla is technically an adulterer? Since when does being divorced make you inappropriate for the White House, anyway? What about Reagan? What about every other divorced person who I'm sure has been a guest at the White House during the current administration? Are any Bush appointees divorced? What the fuck is going on here, and what's next?

Since when is it appropriate for the US President to pass judgment on the spouses or traveling companions of heads of state and heirs to thrones? Would this decision have been different if Charles were King and not Crown Prince? Will there now be routine screenings of all dinner guests at the White House? Are you now or have you ever had an extramarital affair? Premarital sex? Have you ever been divorced? Have you ever had any homosexual experiences? Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your savior?

Other speculation is that the divorce status is simply a means to avoid alienating the many, many people who cherish the memory of Princess Diana and might feel that hosting Charles and Camilla would be a violation of her memory. I'm still not buying it. What would have been the White House reaction if Bush were turned away from dinner with European leaders on his "mending fences tour?" After all, lots of Europeans are opposed to the current administration and current policies, and hosting the Bushes for dinner might alienate those people.

But maybe this is all just reporting in error. I really hope so. Otherwise, I'm really nervous about what the next White House policy will be.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:19 PM

Joan of Arcadia - Independence Day 

I'm referring to this as the Gullibility Episode.

The main Joan story is that she and Adam want to go to a garage band festival, which will involve sleeping one night in Adam's dad's camper-equipped pickup truck. Will, Helen and Adam's dad all say no way. Joan and Adam get angsty, but acquiesce.

The main police station of the blue tones story involves two adult brothers feuding over the key to their dead mother's safety deposit box. Will and his hungry partner respond to a disturbing the peace call, and find the brothers beating the crap out of each other. Will tells them to stop it, and the brothers say they're okay and will play nice with each other.

What parent and what cop would just accept and walk away at that point? The vigilance would be up! The keen eye for spotting a scam would be on high alert!

In Will's story, he gets called back to the House of Disputation in a short while, and finds one brother dead on the floor, safe deposit key in hand and bloody trophy lying near his very bloody head. The other brother claims he didn't mean to do it. But he did. In the ultimate One Tin Soldier moral, down at the station Will gives The Lone Survivor the safe deposit box, which contained childhood photos of the brothers.

In the teenage choices story, Joan tells Helen that she's going over to Grace's for the night. Yes, the very night of said forbidden concert. Helen, who can usually spot something amiss from 100 yards and a differently tied scarf, tells her to have fun and sends her on her way. Adam meanwhile has told his dad that he's working at the hotel all night, and needs the truck to move some equipment. What a coincidence!!! Off they go to the concert.

In the next phase of the teenage choices storyline, Adam wants to, but Joan isn't sure. She's pretty sure she doesn't want their first time to be in the back of a pickup truck, camper attachment or not. Adam, whose facial features are becoming more manly, demonstrates a little testosterone fueled pouting skills, and rolls over in a huff. Upon returning home, Joan cracks under the stress of the situation and 'fesses up to Helen, who is glad she made the choice she did regarding Adam, but who is also completely grounding Joan for the defiance choice that put her in the situation. But it was a nice scene. They bonded, talked through the issues, and didn't yell or accuse. They probably ate some Valentine's cupcakes when they were done.

In really uninteresting news, the new group attachment, Stevie, is completely smitten with Friedman. Her overtures are completely without success, much to Luke's shock and dismay. Friedman finally tells Stevie that it's basically a survival response, because they have nothing in common, she's all hot and cool (in the good ways, not the infuriating mixed signals way), etc. She plants one on his nerdy lips and he comes around to her point of view.

Next week: There's something about Stevie...

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:20 AM

Eyewear Decided and Obtained 

The Girl and I went to Lenscrafters Friday night so I could try on many, many pairs of frames. Going in, I had in mind either a pair of rimless rectangles or some black plastic geeky frames.

The rimless were immediately removed from my sphere of consideration once the optician got a glimpse of my prescription. I'm very, very nearsighted, and the rimless just don't work with the thick lens that's required. He strongly recommended full frames, preferably plastic. Geek it is.

But I also have a fairly small head. It's proportional, but I'm a small person. Most of the rectangular geeky glasses I tried on were too wide for my face, plus the lens gets thicker the wider the frame, so smaller really is better.

After trying on frame after frame, with endless comparisons ("This one, or this one? Okay, this one or this one?"), we came up with a pair something like these. I haven't been able to find the exact pair online, and don't yet have a digitial camera (I know, I know). The really cool thing is they have a little light blue line on the face side of the frame, which gives them a lighter, funkier tone. Sort of stylized geek. Everyone's happy. I got the geeky retro look, no longer appear to be a certain student at Hogwarts, and The Girl gets to look at someone more fashion plate than lab partner.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:01 AM

Lost - Outlaws 

Eye spy... More tales of Sawyer. His daddy was a real boar.

We find that Sawyer was in Australia to exact his revenge on the Original Sawyer, whose con led Daddy-Boar to kill Sawyer's mother and himself, while little Sawyer was hiding under his bed. After getting a tip from a fellow grifter, Sawyer heads off down under, buys a gun on the black market and heads off to shoot 'em up. Only he can't. Instead he goes to a Sydney bar to drown his sorrow about his own inadequacy as a vigilante.

Here's the part where we discover that Jack's daddy was a Bore. He and Sawyer were barflying at the same establishment, and in the way that drunken barflies do, Daddy-Bore proceeded to regale Sawyer with his tale of woe. I was chief of surgery, my son done me wrong but I'm really proud of him because he's strong and I'm weak. He thinks I hate him, but I'm so proud of him and I love him so, and I could fix this all with a single phone call. From that pay phone. Right there. But I won't. BECAUSE I'M WEAK!!!!! But he uses big words, because he's all bookified and pretentious. He then inspires Sawyer to take care of whatever it is that's keeping him down, because he shouldn't end up like Daddy-Bore.

Off Sawyer goes, and he guns down Original Sawyer, who has the courtesy not to die before saying enough for Sawyer to realize that the dying guy isn't Original Sawyer at all, but just some ass who owed money to the tip source. Yes, Sawyer, you've been manipulated again. You've spent your whole life being controlled by other people, and nothing you do in your Can't Beat Em, Join Em game will ever change you from being Life's Mark. That's sort of like being Fate's Bitch, but not as funny.

In less interesting news, Kate and Sawyer bonded a bit over a game of I Never. The only thing of note that we learn is that Kate was married briefly, and that she killed a man. Well, that wasn't really news, because she mentioned in an earlier episode that she had killed the man she loved. We don't know for sure if the love object/dead person was also the husband, but it's looking more likely.

Meanwhile, Charlie's been post-traumatic-ing his way out of his friendship with Claire right into psycholand, so Hurley sends Sayid for an intervention. Sayid tough talks him and reminds him, "You're not alone. Don't act like you are." And magically everything is all better.

In a brief conversation with Jack by the woodpile, Sawyer pieces together the identify of Daddy-Bore, but doesn't tell Jack. Clearly he's just hoarding information in the same way that he hoards supplies, and will no doubt pull it out at a more useful time. Whether it will be used to show what scum Sawyer is or what a good guy he really is, only future episodes will tell.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:14 AM
Friday, February 18, 2005

The Ethics of Beverages 

NESL has a policy of no food in the classrooms, and no beverages unless they are in spillproof cups. This policy is posted on the door to every classroom.

Now, this policy does get pushed. Evening students who arrive at school directly from work and haven't had time for dinner do tend to make the most of those 10 minutes between classes, and will polish off their brown bag sandwich at their seat. I got a little lazy last semester and sometimes didn't bring my Starbucks Extreme Tumbler, and would instead simply use the paper cup with the splash guard lid. I learned my lesson the hard way, though, when I indeed spilled one of those cups on my computer during class and was reminded of how those splash guard lids simply eject on impact. Occasionally someone will spill a cup on the table. But that person will generally do as I did - calmly get up without disturbing the class, get some paper towels from the restroom, and clean up the spill. And vow never to forgo the actual spillproof mug again.

Until last evening during Law and Ethics of Lawyering. A guy I have dubbed Homer Simpson because of his unfortunate facial similarities to that character (except he still has his hair), plus the even more unfortunate similarity when he speaks, had a "D'oh!" moment when he accidentally knocked his grande Frappucino off the desk and it splatted on the nice new carpet. Rather than just getting up and dealing with it, Homer instead just put his face in his hands. The professor paused momentarily and said, "Well, there's no use crying over spilt coffee. I'm supposed to remind you about the spillproof cup policy." And then he continued his previous discussion. Homer simply returned to his notetaking. Many of us sat there staring in disbelief, with the words, "Aren't you going to clean that up?" hanging just inside our lips, but not making it out.

Over the next hour and forty minutes, the icy, creamy, coffee laden beverage slowly seeped its way into the carpet, with nothing but a plastic cup and a wet spot left by the end of class.

One of the topics of the day was the duty to report. After establishing that we all agreed that a person who is regularly overbilling lots of clients should be reported, he modified it and asked how many of us would report a colleague who had overbilled one client by one hour. Nobody raised a hand, and eventually he admitted that he didn't know of anyone who would turn someone in for that, although even that is a violation that we are obligated to report, and even though if we saw that person steal $250 directly from the client's wallet we wouldn't hesitate to turn the attorney in. He then asked if anyone could defend the position we all took about not reporting the single hour overbiller.

Via IM conference I suggested to a couple of classmates that it's for the same reason that not one of us spoke up when Homer didn't clean up his wallow. It's just not worth the trouble. They concurred. It drove us crazy, we all thought it was wrong and really wanted to do something about it, but this professor has a habit of shutting you right down if you interrupt him or make any statements not directly in response to the question he has posed. It was clear the professor, who is a judge by day, didn't consider this breach of school rules and hygiene to be important enough to merit any kind of functional response. Who wants to contradict this man in whose hands our grades rest, and before whom we each might find ourselves standing in court in the not so distant future?

It's just not worth it. But we'll see if we change our minds when the dairy portion of the spot starts reeking. And what we'll think any number of years from now when an attorney we let slide over that single hour decides to try it again. And again.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:54 AM
Thursday, February 17, 2005

Governmental Activity 

Sort of a news of note post:

In a ray of hope, New Mexico's House of Reps has killed a gay marriage ban bill in committee. This one would not only have banned same sex marriage in Mexico and barred recognition of out of state same-sex unions, but would also have "imposed fines on anyone allowing gays and lesbians to marry including members of the clergy." I wonder if that would have applied only to persons performing "official" marriages, or if it also would have applied to clergy who performed commitment ceremonies or other relationship blessings as allowed in their particular church. And this from the same general group of people who try to claim that if gay marriage were legalized, all churches would be forced to perform the ceremonies (which doesn't happen, by the way. No church is forced to perform marriages - such as the catholic church with divorcees or noncatholics). But apparently they feel it's okay to bar other religions from recognizing relationships if those relationships wouldn't be recognized in the anti-gay denominations. Go figure.

In a smaller ray of hope, but a ray nonetheless, a proposed Virginia bill also died in committee. This one would have required social workers to determine whether or not applicants for adoption were gay. Originally the bill would have then barred gay applicants, but the final version would have "left the final decision" up to the social worker. Sort of "Oh, we won't hold it against you, but we have to know as a matter of law." One state senator said of the bill:
"This thing comes awfully close to being pretty bigoted, so I can't support it," said Sen. Richard Saslaw (D-Fairfax).

Bigoted? You think? Anyway, it's gone.

In a ray of incredible darkness, a subset of the Department of Health and Human Services "requested" that the title of a federally funded conference in Newton, MA change its name so as not to use the following words: gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or gender identity. Hmm. Sort of problematic, when the conference is on "Suicide Prevention Among Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Individuals." The Suicide Prevention Resource Center received funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which also requested that the conference include information on faith-based suicide prevention.

According to the SPRC's website, their mission is to "support[] suicide prevention with the best of science, skills and practice." I don't see anything about religion in there.

Mark Weber, a SAMHSA employee, responded to the criticism stemming from the requests by stating that "it was only a suggestion." When pressed on the nature of the suggesion, he also stated that the group does "need to consider their funding source."

Yeah, just a little suggestion.
***************************************
UPDATE (2/18/05 11:53 am): After many complaints and a few phone calls from US Representative Barney Frank (D-MA), the policy has been "clarified" by SAMHSA administrator Charles Curie. The clarification came as a statement that the administration has "no policy" regarding or restricting the use of the terms in question. The original conference name will be used.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:15 PM

Eyewear Fashion? 

Given that my current glasses are 7 years old and make me look like Harry Potter, I've decided to get a new pair. So armed with my less-than-1-year-old prescription and a 50% off frame & lenses coupon for Lenscrafters, The Girl and I are headed to the mall tomorrow to pick out some hip and stylish frames.

I realized the extent to which I no longer like my glasses when I recently got down to the last pair of my one-day disposable contacts, and rather than wear my glasses during the day I simply kept reusing that one pair over and over (the new contacts should be arriving today). Given the number of hours I spend reading the fine print of casebooks and online opinions, it really would be nice to have a pair of specs to slip into even in public places like the law library.

Yesterday I had lunch with Not a Freak and her wife (they took part in the May rush last year) (I think she'll be known hereafter as Not a Geek), and afterwards we went to the For Eyes store in the same plaza, as Not a Freak had broken off one of the nose pads from her glasses and wanted to get them fixed. While NAF was with the optician, NAG and I were trying on frames. I was torn between the black plastic geek frames and the minimalist nearly-frameless frames.

After I had tried on many, many pairs NAG and I concluded that this one small geek pair was very good, but this one minimalist pair was the winner. NAF agreed.

But then in the car on the way back to work, I was talking about watching Star Trek: The Original Series while I exercise, and NAG interrupted and said, "I'm sorry, I've changed my mind. You'll have to go back to the geeky glasses."

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:43 AM
Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Mixed Emotions 

For once I'm the one who brought home a cold and pretty much passed it on unscathed. Usually The Girl brings something home from work, sniffs for a couple of hours, and is fine, while I then pick it up and run with it for several days. This time I brought home a respiratory viral gift from the five story cesspool of snot, sniffed for a couple of hours, and was fine. The Girl, on the other hand, has been renamed Snot Head since last Friday. Given that she so rarely gets sick, she's not handling the various discomforts very well. And she's snoring. A lot.

So when 5:00 am rolled around today and I could no longer sleep because of the symphony of nasal orchestration going on, I got up to work out. I was a little miffed at not being able to sleep, but then I felt good that I was going to get some exercise and movie watching in. I'm in between Wonderfalls DVDs (the 3rd and final one should be arriving from Netflix today), so I popped in Return to Me, one of my Valentine's Day recommendations.

Overall this is a romantic comedy, but there's a bit of tragedy at the beginning that's needed to set up the situation for the rest of the film. I forgot how very much this segment affects me. Pretty soon I'm Gazelling away, working up a sweat, feeling really good physically... and crying and sobbing out loud. I couldn't help feeling exposed, like I was standing on stage, singing, with my eyes closed.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 4:12 PM
Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Beyonce Showcase 

In last night's Oscar blog post, Gil Cates revealed the performers for the various Best Song nominees. Hope y'all dig Beyonce. The nominees are:

"Accidentally In Love" - SHREK 2 - To be performed by Counting Crows, who are also the songwriters and film performers.

"Al Otro Lado Del Rio" - THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES - Performer yet to be named. Film performance was by Jorge Drexler.

"Believe" - THE POLAR EXPRESS - To be performed by Beyonce and Josh Groban. Film performance was by Josh Groban.

"Learn To Be Lonely" - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA - To be performed by Beyonce. Film performance was by Minnie Driver.

"Look To Your Path (Vois Sur Ton Chemin)" - THE CHORUS - To be performed by Beyonce, accompanied by the American Boychoir of Princeton, New Jersey. Film performance by Les Petits Chanteurs de Saint-Marc Choir.

I'm not sure anything can beat the kinetic performance of "Belleville Rendez-vous" from The Triplets of Belleville last year. Plus there was the puzzlement we all struggled with when faced with the unusual instrument Sting was playing on "You Will Be My Ain True Love," from Cold Mountain. FYI - it was a hurdy-gurdy.
********************************************
UPDATE (9:47 am): I had to hold off on this until I received confirmation that I wasn't mistaken, and I wasn't. I'm very excited about the performance of the American Boychoir of Princeton, since my beautiful and talented niece Jen worked with that group while she was an undergrad at the Westminster Choir College. Whoo-hoo!

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:10 AM
Monday, February 14, 2005

Academy Awards Format Changes 

I've been reading Gil Cates' Oscar blog, which is really more of a daily PR hype, but occasionally does provide something new and interesting from behind the scenes. I found it interesting that one of the purposes of the Nominees' Luncheon is to remind everyone of their acceptance speech time limit, and to suggest stylistic approaches that have worked in the past.

Friday's post (2/11) brought news of some format changes for the upcoming show. They won't be showing five separate clips for the Best Film nominees (does this mean they'll run them altogether, or what?).

They'll be doing some presentations in the usual way, with the presenter reading out the nominees from the stage, and the winner goes on up. For others, the nominees will all be onstage already when they're introduced, and the winner gets to step forward like at a beauty pageant. For still others, the nominees will be in their seats, but the presenter will be standing in the aisles. I assume the presenter will then walk over and hand them a microphone, a la Phil Donahue.

I'd be REALLY pissed off if I were to have worked hard for years, finally got the recognition of my peers and was then prevented from taking the Walk of Glory up onto the stage while everyone applauded. Especially if I were in one of the lower level categories. I mean come on - this is pretty much the only public recognition these people ever get.

We'll see how it goes.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 7:02 PM

Valentine's Day Movies 

The Girl and I had our Valentine's Day yesterday, since I'll be in class until 9:40 tonight, and won't be home until about 10:40, which is well after she'll have gone to bed. We spent the day doing things we don't often get to do together during the school year - like making fabulous omelettes for breakfast, protein shopping (i.e. meat & fish) at Whole Foods Market, and produce shopping at Wilson's Farm. We also watched two of this year's Oscar-nominated documentaries, Super Size Me, and Tupac: Resurrection, and the thrice-nominated Passion of the Christ. And since what is Valentine's Day without a romantic comedy, we saw The Wedding Date on the big screen. All of this done with no discussions over when I would put down the Criminal Procedure and the Professional Responsibility casebooks. She had my full attention for the day.

We also shared the experience of a cold which I graciously delivered home from school, the building which has been dubbed "this five-story cesspool of snot."

But since movies were such a part of our (early) Valentine's Day festivities, I thought I'd set out my (alphabetical, not in order of preference) list of suggestions for Valentine's Day movies. Please feel free to add more suggestions in the Comments:

50 First Dates
About a Boy
American President, The
Butcher's Wife, The
Chocolat
City of Angels
Love Actually
Moonstruck
Notting Hill
Return to Me
Runaway Bride
Simpy Irresistable
Sleepless in Seattle
When Harry Met Sally
While You Were Sleeping
You've Got Mail

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:52 AM
Friday, February 11, 2005

Other Posts of Note 

I'm a little swamped today, so in lieu of picking something upon which to ramble extensively, I'm just going to supply the following links to posts of note on other blogs. I know, how lazy, but such is life.

ThinkProgress has some interesting notes on the Clear Skies initiative and the clouds that are gathering in it.

Also on ThinkProgress, news about a Washington Post poll that shows the level of misinformation among supporters of Pres. Bush's proposed Social Security changes, and how their support would likely change were they to learn the facts.

One last link to ThinkProgress, with their detailed tips on how to counter the various arguments presented in support of the above-mentioned proposed plan to change Social Security. This post is also available in PDF form so you can print it out and distribute it.

Over on the ever-entertaining yet incredibly-detailed World O'Crap is a post detailing the Jeff Gannon/Jim Guckert White House press issue and an analysis of White House Press Secretary Scottie McClellan's discussion/explanation/whitewash of the situation.

Sentencing Law and Policy has what looks like an interesting post on the Ninth Circuit, sentencing and "basic procedural fairness," with links to many sites for further detail.

Ernie the Attorney calls attention to a feature now being offered over at Naked Ownership. Their weekly news roundup summarizes and provides links to some of the hot topics that have been debated on the various blawgs in the preceeding days. They base the post on submissions from readers, so if you've got a suggestions for a hot topic, send it on in!

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:56 AM

Bloglines 

I've recently begun using Bloglines, and it's a pretty cool little tool. I previously endorsed Kinja, but I must admit that I like Bloglines better. Kinja would display recent posts from the blogs to which you subscribed, in order, with posts from various blogs intermixed according to time published. It was a nice timesaver.

But with Bloglines you can set up various folders for your categories of subscriptions, and you can then view all the new postings in all your subscriptions, in one folder, or in one particular subscription. You can also tell it to display all postings from a certain (preset) time periods. I really like the Clip option, where you can "clip" a particular post and put it in a separate tab area. I hate when I'm reading a bunch of blogs, find something of interest and tell myself that I'll come back to that one later, or I'll post on that one later, but then later comes and I can't remember where the heck it was, and it's too recent for Google to have indexed it. This way, I just clip and save, and go back and view the list later when I have more time. Right now I have several posts clipped, and I'll put up a separate post about them. Then I'll clear out the clipped tab for next time.

You can specify whether you want a particular subscription to be public (the ones that will be shared through this type of link) or private. You can also use Bloglines to display a blogroll on your own site, but I haven't tried that out yet. Here's the link to my subscriptions. For the public view it doesn't automatically show the number of new posts since last viewing, since as a guest you don't have a last viewing. When I'm logged in, it bolds the subscriptions with new postings, and lists how many there are.

The post display is chronologic by blog, and you can collapse a particular blog's display. It also shows how many blogline users have subscribed to a particular blog, and displays the users that have public subscriptions.

One request - they could make their alphabetical blog directory easier to navigate. You can go directly to a letter, but then your only option is to scroll page to page.

Anyway, check it out. You might like it.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:10 AM
Thursday, February 10, 2005

Judge Thompson (Ret.) Update 

Last year I posted here and here on that wacky judge in Oklahoma who was being investigated for allegations that he had been using a penis pump under his robes during trials.

The Houston Chronicle yesterday provided an update on how things are going for Judge Donald Thompson. He retired from the bench last August in the midst of the investigation, but that didn't help him with the criminal charges that were filed against him last month for indecent exposure. Then there's the matter of the many former defendents who may appeal his decisions in their trials.

I'm thinking hes retirement isn't going as well as he might have anticipated over the years.

(Shout-out to The Dark Lord and The Creeping Unknown for alerting me to the latest.)

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:14 AM

Lost - Homecoming 

After the last episode, I wrote that Claire looked thinner when she stumbled back into the show, and speculated that Ethan was now in possession of the evil-without-Claire's-influence baby. I was wrong. Not only is she still pregnant, but she's two weeks closer to her due date. She is missing something, however - her memory of anything since being on the plane. The crash, her two weeks with the survivors, her friendship with Charlie, her two weeks with the psychotic but incredibly strong jungle man - nothing.

Crazy Ethan shows up and tells Charlie to return Claire, or Ethan will start killing off survivors - one for each sundown that goes by without Claire in his possession. And he'll save Charlie for last, as a reminder that he could have saved them all. Except Claire, of course. While delivering his ultimatum in no uncertain terms, he is also giving Charlie a friendly reminder of his brief foray as a windchime, by holding him off the ground by the throat. With one hand. Damn, this guy's strong! And really, really crazy.

Charlie blames himself for not taking better care of Claire in the first place, and this triggers this week's flashback storyline. We all know that Charlie's a heroine addict, and this episode we get a closer look at his experience with using people to get cash for his habit. We also see that he fell for one of his marks and tried to return to the clean life (including taking a job as a copier salesman for her father), but failed miserably. After his jig was up, she tearfully asked why he even took the job, and he replied that he wanted to be respectable, and for her to think he could take care of her. She replied, just before slamming the door on that idea, that he will "NEVER BE ABLE TO TAKE CARE OF ANYONE!" Slam.

In a slight bit of misdirection, the return from commercial break at 21 minutes opened with a closeup on someone sharpening a knife. I steeled myself for some more deep and meaningful yet rather cryptic words from Locke (most likely to Boone, Locke's devoted apostle). But the camera pulled back to reveal Jack. Psych! Then Kate walks onscreen for the first time this episode, and suggests that it's time Jack utilize those four 9mm pistols and ammo rounds that are locked in the Briefcase of Sawyer's Frustration. Jack rules this out, as he feels that a bunch of scared survivors are more likely to shoot each other by accident than to take out Ethan.

Jack's mind quickly changes when that night, despite the manly men maintaining an all-night security perimeter (except Boone - he fell asleep until Prodigal Vincent tripped the alarm at dawn and lured Boone into tripping on his own feet so Vincent could then lick his face and make sure everyone know how useless and comical Boone is. It worked quite well), Crazy Ethan managed to sneak in One if By Sea and kill off Survivor Scott. I know what you're thinking - maybe Scott just drowned? Yeah, Hurley asked the same thing. Kate pointed out that Scott's neck, both arms and all his fingers were broken (maybe some leg bones as well - I don't remember), so it probably wasn't a random drowning coincidence.

Jack and Locke (who of course is also a firearms expert - I briefly thought he was going to confess that he's a purist and only uses knives and other hand-to-hand type weapons, but nope) retrieve the 4 guns and roughly 100 rounds, and get Syid to join them on their Crazy Ethan Hunt. Charlie wants to play too, since he's got those responsibility issues to work out, but Jack says no. I don't really blame him, since Crazy Ethan had actually KILLED Charlie (temporarily, but still), plus Charlie's got that whole withdrawal thing going on, so I don't think I'd want to rely on him keeping a cool head under pressure either. They do go recruit Sawyer, since he's a manly gun wielding type guy. Okay, he didn't aim so well with the dying Marshall, but he took down the attacking polar bear quite efficiently. Of course since Jack and Sawyer are going off into the jungle with deadly weapons, Kate wants in on it. Jack pulls his protective crap again (come on - Kate probably has more weapons experience and nerves than the rest of them combined), but Sawyer for once makes a logical decision, and pulls out the 9mm he took from the Marshall. Off they go, to take Claire to her set-up rendezvous.

Claire appears very calm, but that's mostly because she has no recollection of Crazy Ethan and how very, very scary he can be. Until he slinks into the clearing with a particularly wacko look about him, and she takes off screaming. The hunters all move in, but Jack gets there first and manages to get a little payback for the beating Ethan gave him a couple of weeks earlier. They all congratulate Jack for his victorious show of testosterone, and prepare to take Ethan back to camp where they plan to interrogate him regarding the secrets of his psychosis and the island, when suddenly a series of gunshots ring out and Ethan falls down into a bloody pile of corpse. Seems Charlie tagged along and picked up the gun when Jack dropped it, and decided to work out his responsibility issues on Ethan's ass. Actually, on Ethan's torso, but the result is the same - Dead Crazy Ethan. Everyone stares at Charlie in shock and disbelief.

In the closing moments around the campfire, Jack asks Charlie why he did it, and Charlie goes for the obvious - because "that animal deserved to die." He points out the other obvious, that there was no way in hell that Living Crazy Ethan was ever going to tell them anything, and would simply continue to be a threat to everyone. Jack nods knowingly to his companion of the Testosterone Brotherhood, and clears out so Claire can take over. She remembers the imaginary peanut butter, and has decided that she can trust Charlie and be his friend. Gee, you think? They guy just killed for you. Of course, that didn't work out so well for Gunn and Fred, but the circumstances were different there.

Oh, and I think Jin may be figuring out that Sun can talk to the animals.

NEXT TIME: Back to the Jack, Kate and Sawyer threesome. Not that way. Well, maybe. Secrets, revelations, jealousy, longing glances, multiple aimed guns and possible revenge.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:11 AM
Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Virginia Jumps on the Low Riding Wagon 

Virginia Delegate Algie T. Howell has gotten approval from the House of Delegates on his bill (HB 1981) to impose a $50 fine on anyone wearing low slung pants that reveal the person's underwear. The bill passed 60-34, and is now headed for the state Senate. He must have been inspired by the efforts of Louisiana state Representative Derrick Shepperd.

Delegate Lionell Spruill, Sr. protested the proposed bill at length during the legislative session.

Here is the text of the bill:
Any person who, while in a public place, intentionally wears and displays his below-waist undergarments, intended to cover a person's intimate parts, in a lewd or indecent manner, shall be subject to a civil penalty of no more than $50. "Intimate parts" has the same meaning as in § 18.2-67.10.

So if the undergarments must be "intentionally" displayed, that lets off the hook any workers whose pants are inadvertently lowered by the weight of their toolbelts. How will they prove intent on this? If the Fashion Police (which would be literal if the bill were to become law) stop you, couldn't you just say, "Oops, sorry officer. I hadn't noticed. You see, I've lost a lot of weight recently, and haven't yet been able to afford better fitting garments." What about beachwear? Would those qualify as "undergarments, intended to cover a person's intimate parts?" What makes a Speedo acceptable while the elastic band on a pair of boxers is not?
*************************************
UPDATE (1:46 pm): Additional thought - The person's undergarments cover up the "intimate parts" just as well as do the outer garments, perhaps better, depending on the particular material of the outer garments. Where exactly is the assault on public decency? What if I had a pair of pants custom made entirely out of boxer short material? Nothing more would be visible than if the boxers themselves were visible, but I'm guessing that as long as they were pulled up, I'd be okay. Perhaps the next step will be mandatory restrictions on type of material used and the number of layers required.
*************************************
UPDATE (2/11/05, 10:33 am): The bill died by unanimous vote in Senate committee yesterday, at a standing-room only hearing.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:30 AM

This is Tolerance? 

Yet another uproar has come up in response to the formation of a Gay Straight Alliance in a high school, this time in the central California City of Hanford. Several other area high schools already have similar groups, but some parents of Hanford West High School students don't want one at their kids' school.

Principal John Davis viewed the complaints as stemming from the habit of people gossiping without having any facts about the issue. In response, he sent a letter to parents:
In it he says the law is clear, a school cannot refuse to allow a student group to meet because parents, teachers or other students object. Davis says, "I explained in the letter that the federal government had passed an Equal Access Act in 1984 which allows all groups to use school facilities during non-instructional time."
One parent quoted in the news article provided a fitting demonstration of the need for the club. Objecting parent Catherine Willis stated one of her concerns:
"The advisor of the committee is professing to be in the gay and lesbian lifestyle and I just don't want it to be a bait for children versus a tolerance committee."

She further stated her case that the group simply isn't needed:
But Catherine Willis says kids shouldn't even have to deal with this issue at school, "They just think it's a joke that number-one, that you would have to have a club to teach tolerance because they feel they live in 2000 and nobody is committing hate crimes in this community."
I see. There's clearly no need to educate in this modern and enlightened community where it is assumed, at least by some, that the only reason a gay teacher would become involved with advising a gay straight student alliance is to seek out victims for her perverted ways. No one is beating or killing gay students, so everything must be okay, right? Yep, no need for bridge building there.

An earlier article quoted some other parents, who voiced reasoning similar to that used by objecting parents in Bedford, MA. In the Hanford debate, some parents claim not to have any problem with gay people, but don't think that there should be any reference to sex or sexuality in the name of a club, and that students under 18 shouldn't have to face anything "dealing with sex" at school. The groups advisors pointed out that the group isn't about sex or even sexuality, that some students are gay, some are straight, some have relatives who are gay, and some just want to show their support for diverse student populations. One parent responds that her son has attention deficit disorder, but there's no tolerance or school group for him. Perhaps she or he should take inspiration from this group and look into forming an ADD group, rather than using the hardships faced by one group as an excuse to condone intolerance for other groups.

The school committee was to address the club's formation at last night's meeting.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:05 AM
Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Perks for the Political 

Massachusetts Lt. Governor Kerry Healey has apologized for allowing her state trooper driver to utilize the vehicle's blue emergency lights to get through a traffic jam last week. The pair hit the usual Rt. 128 traffic in Burlington while on their way to Newton for a speaking engagement, and the trooper independently opted to pull flash and get moving. The article about the situation also mentioned the time then Lt. Governor Jane Swift found herself in hot water in 1999 for catching a ride on a state police helicopter to get from Boston to her home in the Berkshires for Thanksgiving. That incident was compounded by her requests that aides babysit one of her children.

I understand the criticism of former Gov. (she became acting governor when Paul Cellucci was appointed ambassador to Canada) Swift. She used state resources for personal use, and in the case of the helicopter, pretty pricey state resources at that. Certainly the governor would have been in the right had she used the helicopter to get back to Boston to deal with an emergency of some sort, but not to go home.

Then again, it's all a matter of degree, isn't it? It's common for the State Police to drive the governor and lieutenant governor around in official vehicles. Why? I assume it's for security and efficiency. So if the trooper's job is to safeguard the official and get that official to the destination as efficiently as possible, why not use the lights? Wouldn't the risk to the official be greater if they're sitting in traffic for hours? Otherwise why use a marked cruiser to begin with? I've been in 128 Burlington traffic - she could have been stuck there for quite a while.

The President uses Marine One and Air Force One to get to vacations in Crawford and Camp David all the time. And have you ever seen the Commander in Chief waiting patiently for a traffic jam to thin out? I don't imagine VP Dick Cheney has to spend much time stuck on Dupont Circle. So it's okay for the leaders of the country, but not for the leaders of the Commonwealth? What about a United States Senator? If it's okay for a US Senator, what about a state senator? Mayor of the City of New York? Then what about the Mayor of Northampton? Is there a sliding scale that determines when a perk becomes a necessity due to the political power of the person wielding it?

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:27 AM

Early Patriot's Day  

So you thought Patriot's Day was in April, eh? Okay, if you're not from Massachusetts, you probably have no idea what Patriot's Day is. Remember the Longfellow poem you had to learn in 8th grade, about the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere?

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

Paul Revere's ride preceded the Battle of Concord and Lexington, officially kicking off the Revolutionary War. Here in the greater Boston area this kind of event is taken seriously, so the Monday nearest to April 19th (the ride was the night before, on the 18th) is a state holiday, and people go out in droves to watch or take part in re-enactments of the ride and the battles. Fifes and drums galore, and much parading. Oh yeah, and the Boston Marathon. And the Red Sox game.

But this isn't that kind of Patriot's Day, except for the parading. Today is the day that the once-again World Champion New England Patriots will have their victory parade through the streets of Boston. The crowds were assembling before dawn today, and the satellite trucks are clogging up the streets around Copley Square. Someone on my bus spoke with a woman who had been there since 5:15 am. Now mind you, the event doesn't kick off until 11 am today. The route passes within a block of New England School of Law, so I expect the library will be emptying out around that time. But alas, I'll be at work in the inner burbs, so I'll have to miss the chaos. I'm sure the crowds will still be lingering upon my return to town this afternoon, however.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:35 AM
Monday, February 07, 2005

Weekend Wrap Up 

No movies were viewed, and no legal reading was done this weekend. Intensive speed reading will be going on in the library this afternoon before classes.

The Girl tried on a vast number of gowns at David's Bridal on Friday evening, finally deciding on one, but we decided to sleep on it and possibly return the next day with additional eyes. We indeed returned at noon on Saturday, with The Girl's sister and The Creeping Unknown in tow (these are both experienced brides with keen senses of fashion). After much ooh-ing and ah-ing, and directives to The Girl to walk this way, stand that way, pretend she was dancing, and stand up straight, the choice was made. Now, going into this she was still undecided on a dress or flowy pants. She's gone Full Bridal on me, and will be wearing a gown, short train and all. She drew the line at any veil or tiara, even though Lorna, our David's Bridal Consultant, kept placing them in The Girl's hair anyway. Can't blame a commission-based consultant for trying. The Girl's sister at one point, stated, while The Girl was standing on a pedestal (literally) in full gown"This is one day I never thought I'd see." The Creeping Unknown begged me to try some on (complete with a begging dog pantomime), but I respectfully and repeatedly declined.

I continued my working out on The Gazelle, in hopes of looking good in whatever I wear, which might perhaps be this much less voluminous dress. Unfortunately, the nearest Nordstrom's is in Providence, so there will have to be a road trip in the next couple of weeks. It could be flowy pants though. Who knows? I've been watching Wonderfalls while working out, and after watching the four episodes that aired before the show's untimely cancellation, I've at last watched a new episode - Fabulous.

Went to the ends of the earth to attend a distant but fabulous party in Hillsboro, NH on Saturday, hosted by a college friend of The Girl's. The food and other guests were all fun and festive, and a wonderful time was had by all. Except our host's very long-term live-in boyfriend, who nearly passed out whenever any mention was made of engagement rings or wedding gowns. We passed a copy of the David's Bridal catalogue to a guest who was staying overnight, and she tucked it into the boyfriend's fly-fishing magazines. I hear he was not convinced.

Sunday was household chores, then off to Gloucester for a Superbowl party, hosted by some extreme Patriots fans. Needless to say, a good time was had by all there as well.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:16 PM
Friday, February 04, 2005

NY Court: Marriage Licenses for Gay Couples 

The Supreme Court of New York for New York County (note that in NY, the Supreme Court is the district level court, while the Court of Appeals is the state's highest court) today issued a decision that New York's Domestic Relations Law violates the constitution of New York by prohibiting gay couples from marrying. The court declared that "husband, "wife," "groom" and "bride" shall be read as "spouse" and be equally applicable to both men and women. The City Clerk of New York City (named Defendant in the case) is enjoined from refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples who otherwise meet the requirements. Enforcement of the order is stayed for 30 days.

The full 78-page decision, written by Judge Doris Ling-Cohan, can be found here, on Lambda Legal's website.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:27 PM

Oscar Blog 

Gil Cates, producer of the Academy Awards ceremony (this will be his 12th), will be launching a behind-the-scenes blog covering the ongoing preparations for Oscar night. The blog, which will be linked to from Oscar.com, is set to launch on Monday (2/7). I'll update this post Monday with a direct link to the blog.

Cates sounds like a cool kind of guy. The 70-year-old has 6 kids, 5 grandkids, and is Phoebe Cates' uncle. He dresses in jeans and sneakers, and "often zips" around the Century City production offices on an electric scooter. In past productions he had a statuette sent into space and then announced via satellite from a space shuttle, and originated the memorial clip segment of the show. Look for Ossie Davis to be featured prominently on February 27.

Cates, as producer, is also the guy in charge of deciding when to bring out the orchestral hook to cut off winners who are blathering and when to hold back when an otherwise well-done acceptance is running a little long. His goal this year is to wrap by 11:30 pm Eastern Time.
********************************
UPDATE (2/7/05, 6:22 pm): I've been checking all day, but have yet to find a link to the Oscar blog that was supposed to be up today. I'll keep checking. If anyone else has found it - could you leave a comment with the link?
********************************
UPDATE (2/7/05, 9:40 pm): Blog's up!

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:33 PM

Ossie Davis: 1917-2005 

Ossie Davis has died. This epitome of the good we can accomplish in our lives was found in his hotel room in Miami. He was in Florida working on the film Retirement.

Davis was honored at the Kennedy Center in 2004, and received many other honors throughout his acting career. He was also known for his ceaseless civil rights activism, along with his wife, Ruby Dee. He introduced Martin Luther King at the 1963 March on Washington, and spoke at the funerals of both King and Malcolm X.

The world is a better place for his having been here.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:00 PM

Another Quiz: What Cat Are You? 

From feministe comes the latest online quiz to which I've submitted. Today I am told that:

Maine Coon
You are a Maine Coon! You are larger than life, a gentle giant. You are independent, but very affectionate with your friends and family.
What breed of cat are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

In truth, I'm not so much an actual giant as a virtual one. I've been told that I have a "tall personality." Many people have known me for several years before suddenly coming face to face (or face to top-of-head) with the reality that I'm only 5'2".

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:02 AM

New Blog Term: Wedblog 

This is the term devised by The Creeping Unknown in response to my informing her that the St. Croix resort where The Girl and I will be honeymooning has an "internet room."

Me: Blog updates on the fabulosity of the honeymoon!
TCU: Wedblog is a must!

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:48 AM

EPA IG: Bush Administration Compromised Mercury Project 

Environmental Protection Agency Inspector General Nikki L. Tinsley has issued a report strongly critical of instructions given by agency political appointees to the agency's career staff in the process of developing a proposal for controlling mercury emissions from coal-fueled power plants, the largest emitters of mercury in the US.

The proposed rule and information about it can be found on the EPA's website. The report from the Office of the Inspector General can be found here, and the IG's statement regarding the report can be found here. From the report:
Evidence indicates that EPA senior management instructed EPA staff to develop a Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standard for mercury that would result in national emissions of 34 tons annually, instead of basing the standard on an unbiased determination of what the top performing units were achieving in practice. The 34-tons-per-year target was based on the amount of mercury reductions expected to be achieved from implementation of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2 ) controls under a separately proposed, but related, air rule. According to EPA officials, 34 tons represents the most realistic and achievable standard for utilities. However, because the results of the MACT standard were prescribed and prior estimates were lower than what was proposed, the standard likely understates the average amount of mercury emissions reductions achieved by the top performing 12 percent of utilities, the minimum level for a MACT standard required by the Clean Air Act. Further, this MACT standard, as proposed, does not provide a reasonable basis for determining whether the MACTor cap-and-trade approach provides the better cost benefit.

The investigation was requested by members of the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee. The committee on Tuesday held hearings to evaluate the Clear Skies Act of 2005. This is the "separately proposed, but related, air rule" mentioned in the above excerpt from the EPA IG report. Senator Barbara Boxer opened her statement to the committee as follows (from her prepared statement):
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate having a hearing before this Committee on the challenges of cleaning up the air. It is, however, unfortunate that you have chosen to focus this hearing on legislation that would actually increase pollution.
Perhaps this should be renamed the "No Lungs Left Behind" bill.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:01 AM
Thursday, February 03, 2005

Revisiting Acronyms 

It seems that the Bush administration is continuing its nuanced use of phrasing (to which Bush himself will then apply his nuanced use of delivery style) on some of their target issues.

The whole Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) issue and search didn't work out so well, and the current administration would probably rather not remind anyone of it, but at the same time they still see value in the core issue, so in the State of the Union they have been redubbed Weapons of Mass Murder (WMM). It also ups the ante a bit, since "destruction" can be interpreted as simply property damage, while "murder" leaves nothing to interpretation.

Last year's congressional attempts to pass a Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA), which would bar gay couples from marrying, failed. But the administration clearly wants to hold on to the issue in an effort to please one of their core constituencies, so the effort will continue. However, the president is now referring to it by the actual name of the bill, the Marriage Protection Act (MPA). This removes the reminder that this is a proposed constitutional amendment designed to limit rights rather than protect them, and places the bill in a frame of actual protection. They're not trying to prevent marriage, they're trying to protect it! And that's what the Constitution is for, right - protecting us? It must be okay!

We need some progressive strategists with this much savvy and polish. Please.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:49 PM

No Marriage Blood Tests 

Well, we can cross one item off our wedding To Do List: blood tests. Since 1943, couples applying for marriage licenses in Massachusetts have been required to have blood tests to screen for syphilis and at the same time were offered a voluntary test for rubella. But due to the long term extremely low rate of infection in the population, most states have stopped requiring the screening, and as of last Friday it is no longer required in Massachusetts either.

On a side note, while I was checking the official Commonwelath of Massachusetts website to see if the change is reflected there (it is), I noted that the main "Getting Married or Sharing a Household" page also has a link to "Mass. Law About Same Sex Marriage." This page, maintained by the Massachusetts Trial Court Libraries, provides one-stop shopping for background information as well as links to a wide number of relevant court documents relating to marriage in Massachusetts, including the Goodridge decision as well as several court briefs, the proposed constitutional amendment, the Journal of the Senate in Joint Session during last year's constitutional convention, the decisions in the cases that attempted to halt implementation of Goodridge, links to the current laws, information for out of state couples, and a number of information links including the procedure for waiving the three-day waiting period after obtaining a license, tax issues, a "marriage toolkit," and various news stories.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:08 AM
Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Another Star Trek Bites the Dust 

Well, it frequently just bit anyway, but now the biting has become terminal. Star Trek: Enterprise will not be renewed for a fifth season. May 13 will be the final frontier for this iteration. I really thought this season was a turning point, and the series was turning into something good. I should have known - that's the death knell for a TV series.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 7:27 PM

Solomon (Amendment)'s Singing Voice is Rusting 

The US District Court for the District of Connecticut has granted summary judgment for the plaintiffs in Burt v. Rumsfeld, the case brought by Yale Law School faculty members in protest of the application of the Solomon Amendment. Full details at NESL OUTLaws. The key paragraph:
Accordingly, the Solomon Amendment is hereby declared unconstitutional as applied, and the defendant is enjoined from enforcing it against Yale University based upon Yale Law School's Non-Discrimination Policy. The Clerk is ordered to close the case.


|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 4:38 PM

Grades En Route 

NESL has announced that they are mailing out grades today. Well, perhaps "announced" is too emphatic a verb. They quietly placed a small posting on the student-faculty discussion board. Mind you, there's a prominent spot on the school's main web page for posting important announcements, but apparently this one didn't rate that kind of spotlight.

Receiving grades nearly two months after exams is really anticlimactic. By this point we're all deeply involved in this semester's classes, and have neither the time nor the energy to futz about anything that happened last semester. I e-mailed a few friends to let them know of the mailing, and only one managed to muster up any sort of reaction: "Uhm...goody?"

Then again, I'm wondering what the line will be like at the Registrar's office come Friday, which is the day you can go get a copy direct from the source if they haven't yet arrived via USPS. I have a feeling that all the claims of "Oh, whatever. I'm really don't care at this point," will be tossed out the window.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:03 AM
Tuesday, February 01, 2005

BYU Film Student on Michael Moore 

Steven Greenstreet, a former (I don't know if "former" means graduate or dropout, but anyway) Brigham Young University film student, has completed his documentary, "This Divided State," which covers Michael Moore's appearance at Utah Valley State College last October. The film will be shown at UVSC this week, is being entered in many upcoming film festivals, and may go on a national college tour. Greenstreet is also seeking a distributor.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:30 AM

Alison Bechdel Demonstrates "Detainee" 

Last week's "Dykes to Watch Out For" installment is fabulous. How many comic strips do you know of that include use of the phrase habeus corpus followed by a Stevie Wonder tune?

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:43 AM

More Worlds Colliding 

The Girl and I are getting married in July. Yes, we live in Massachusetts, so we will be legally married. Life has now taken many odd turns. Think all that bridal stuff is for the straight girls only? Ha. No one is immune.

We each have an engagement ring, and let me tell you - it's like instant entree into the Girls' Club. Large meetings at work have ground to an instant halt once one woman gets a glimpse of the finger bling. Conversation devolves into talk of wedding date, honeymoon destinations, catering plans, attire, and other details. Everyone knows I'm gay - doesn't matter. All that matters is that there is A WEDDING TO DISCUSS!!!!! I'm reminded of Debbie Reynolds in In & Out. Her one concern when the rumors fly about whether her engaged son (Kevin Kline, engaged to Joan Cusack) is actually gay, is whether the wedding is still on. "I need that wedding. I need some beauty and some music and some placecards before I die. It's like heroin."

My sister in Pennsylvania has taken on the job of wedding planner, and spent the weekend up here in cold New England for an intensive Bridezilla Planning Weekend. My world has now become filled with catering menus, the comparative attributes of gowns vs. flowy pants, color schemes, linen napkins, invitation designs, song lists, vows (I'm still trying to work in some of the vows from Worf and Jadzia's wedding) and halter vs. strapless. We approved the design for the wedding bands, which my sister is making (she's been studying jewelry making, and will be making them under her teacher's watchful eye). Here's the photoshopped approximation:


I myself walked voluntarily into David's Bridal after lunch with Not a Freak yesterday, just to check out their big sale and to look into a fitting appointment for The Girl. When we first went in, it was all Not a Freak could do to restrain herself from announcing to the sales associate that I was in need of a dress for the prom, and that I would be attending with the captain of the football team. She can laugh - she and her (now) wife went with the less-involved private ceremony shortly after May 17 of last year. But the sales associate was quite helpful, and wasn't fazed when I said that there are two brides, and that the other one needed to come in and try things on. She took the much more wise business approach and moved right into working me over as to what I would be wearing. From her point of view, two brides just means twice the profit potential. God bless the free market system.

Before class last evening, I caught up a few of my friends on the details of the weekend. Within moments and with no prompting from me, two of them were each online researching for bargains on linen napkins as an alternative to renting. It really is like heroin!

Sunday morning The Girl went off to the grocery store to pick up some blueberries (for pancakes) and orange juice for brunch with my parents. She came back with six bags of groceries, one of which contained the 810 page tome that is Bride's Magazine. Here's the link to the very issue she brought home. Note the lower left article title: "Clueless About Color?" That one was written just for me. I shrieked in fear when she pulled it from the bag, but my sister assured me that it was inevitable.

But the final blow came in the middle of last night, when I awoke from a dream that somehow combined wedding planning, law school, exercise and Star Trek: Deep Space 9.

The transformation is complete. Resistance is futile. I am a bride.

|
Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:32 AM