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Tuesday, June 12, 2007



Maybe I'm too forgiving. Maybe I forgive The Sopranos too much because of it's sterling quality for so many seasons. That being said, I thought the finale was very good. Not knock your socks off incredible, but a satisfying and fitting conclusion.

Tony still has mother issues. He has not grown. He is a sociopath to the finish. Will he be killed? Sent to prison? Who knows, but the show ended on a subtly tragic note. Tony will grow old and die as Junior. He will always live in fear of death, prison, and he will never arrive. He will always have to jockey for position with the next Phil. Tony is in a hell of his own making. Stasis.

Would the series have been better with Tony holding a bullet-ridden Meadow/Carmella/AJ in his arms bemoaning his life of crime and where it got him? No. It certainly wouldn't have been The Sopranos. Tony will continue to lose those lieutenants, live to fight for survival another day, and someday fade as Junior has.

David Chase was clearly screwing with fans in the final moments. Preparing us for eminent tragedy. Setting us up for the ironic montage of death and loss while Steve Perry wailed hopefully in the background. And that didn't happen.

Chase avoided the obvious and chose stasis. For those who tuned into The Sopranos for the whackings this episode was surely anger inducing. I found it nearly pitch-perfect, although maybe the ending was a bit too meta, too aware of its own finale-ness.

Still, loved the episode for its quiet moments and extra helpings of the fantastic Tony Sirico. A satisfying ending to one of the two best series in television history. The other being The Wire, course.


On Chesil Beach

It's 1962 and two young lovers enter their honeymoon suite, one eager and the other dreadfully anxious. The two are sexually inexperienced and come from a culture in which sexual function and dysfunction are only understood through practice. This first encounter and its aftermath are the subject of Ian McEwan's new novel On Chesil Beach which should quickly move to the top of your summer reading list.

As the two lovers prepare to consummate their marriage, the narrator takes us on a journey through the characters' pasts, from their childhood to courtship. It's a fascinating journey, finely drawn and intimate in more than just its romantic detail. Though the book does contain some frank descriptions of sex, these moments are more straighforward--and at times hilarious--than erotic.

Surprisingly, in this morally laissez-faire age, the book is very much a moral tale about the fragility of love. McEwan asks us to be aware of the small moments and to take care of those to whom we entrust our bodies, secrets, and hopes. Physical intimacy can strongly bind two individuals, but also tears down their defenses and leaves them vulnerable to one another. McEwan understands this and crafts a story about the importance of caring for those with whom we share intimacy.

A great short novel that stuck with me long after I finished it.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


A Death in the Family

My Accord has been running a little sluggishly lately. Now I know why.


Perving it up on your DS

The biggest thing to hit the Nintendo DS in Japan is...well...pretty damn horrible.

Maybe it's a giant sting operation and they're going to arrest anyone who purchases this game. This story would certainly be great fodder for Dateline or Oprah.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


The post Memorial Day malaise

The news cycle really slows down in the summer.


Faux News

As most of you have probably heard, Fox News--while covering the indictment of William Jefferson (D-LA)--mislabeled African-American Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) as Jefferson.

Because to Fox News, all Democrats look the same.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


The Higher Power of Lucky

Prepping for a children's library position, I have been reading some picture books and novels for children. This year's Newberry winner The Higher Power of Lucky has garnered some controversy for the use of the word "scrotum." (This word appears on the first page and this location more easily leads to snap judgments of the work.) Some libraries have banned the book and many parents have asked that the book be banned in their school and local libraries because of the word.

My judgment? Well, I found the use of the word to be frank and appropriate, but you might decide this is not something you want your child reading. The main character Lucky frequently eavesdrops on twelve step meetings and overhears one man's story of his bottoming out, his lowest moment. In this story, the man's dog is bitten by a rattlesnake in the scrotum and he is too drunk to help the dog. Lucky becomes fascinated by the word, but the book is not about scrotums. I find the controversy to be a little ridiculous, especially after reading this excellent book.

The book's title refers to the 12-step goal of finding your "higher power." Lucky doesn't quite understand the 12-steppers and their terms, but she is seeking answers to larger questions and latches onto their verbiage and oragnizing principles. She spends the book trying to decode them and make them her own. She desires to make a moral inventory and find a higher power. This quest takes place during a traumatic period in her life. She has lost her mother and is living with a guardian who may or may not be temporary.

The book is surprisingly poignant and works on two levels. Children will be sucked in by the adventure of the book--Lucky lives in the California desert and has to contend with its sometimes dangerous conditions--while parents will immediately understand that the book is about Lucky's attempts to come to terms with grief and an uncertain future. Given the few moments of frank language--Lucky also encounters the word "sperm"--and complicated themes, parents will want to read this book along with their children. Both parent and child, however, will be rewarded by this rich, humorous, and touching story.

Monday, June 04, 2007



The MPAA just sunk further into irrelevance by ruling that in the near future any movie that features cigarette smoking--the legal kind--will be given an R-rating. This is so incredibly ludicrous and is, given the power that ratings really can have over a film's success, censorship. Want to have a PG-13 action film to open over the 4th of July, better not feature your hero or villain smokoing.

Ludicrous and insulting.

UPDATE: The MPAA is not irrelevant as I first said. In fact, they are very relevant and can help doom a movie with an R or NC-17 rating. I just found their ruling to be a little clueless and needlessly reactionary. The whole idea of a punitive ratings system is ridiculous. Parents should be reading reviews and checking the websites that list possible offending elements in a film. Parents who are worried about a particular film's content should watch it themselves first.

Smoking makes good short hand for showing that a character is dangerous, impulsive, unhinged, anxious, or very relaxed. It can be a great and humorous shortcut for showing that two characters have just had sex. Smoke curling out of a cigarette--correctly lit--can make wonderful images. It would still be ridiculous, but telling parents that a movie features smoking would be a less punitive and more useful warning.

And what are we worried about here? Children being encouraged to smoke. Is this more dangerous than showing a character picking up a handgun, knife, or sword? But then all action movies be rated R and this would wreck the summer movie season.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


The Prez

Via Atrios:

We are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government. This is a sovereign nation. Twelve million people went to the polls to approve a constitution. It's their government's choice. If they were to say, leave, we would leave.

Atrios reminds us that, of course, Iraq was also a soveriegn nation prior to our invasion.


Bush's speech to Coast Guard Academy

Yesterday in a commencement speech at the Coast Guard Academy, the President revealed that bin Laden--whose capture the White House hasn't exactly made a priority--spoke with al Qaeda bigwig Zarqawi about using Iraq as a training ground for further attacks against the United States.


If this intended to a be a justification for the war, it's a bit of the old bait and switch and proves the anti-war talking point that invading Iraq would make it a more fertile ground for terrorist activity.



Pretty great finale. Who knew that Lost was going to have a similar ending to Return to Gillgan's Island?


Likely explanation of conclusion is that future Jack made a deal to get off the island and come back for the other castaways, but upon return home cannot find his way back and this crushes him.

Feel free to use comment section to discuss and trade Lost theories.

I was toying around with the idea that the island is like the infamous Stanford prison experiment. Thoughts?

Monday, May 21, 2007


Year of the Dog

Some spoilers ahead.

More than a few critics have blamed the new Mike White film about a pet owner who loses her way with pulling its punches. But how refreshing to have a comedy that's about love, care, and a search for meaning that doesn't reach the sad, cynical conclusion that it's all BS to begin with. Sometimes a bracing satire where everything falls apart and a character's life spirals into total destruction can be invigorating, but at this point it's de rigeur for indie films. How much more subversive it is to make a film where happy endings are possible and love is not a pipe dream.

All this to say, I enjoyed Year of the Dog. It's great to see Molly Shannon (SNL most notably as schoolgirl superstar Mary Catherine Gallagher) again and her performance is extraordinary. It's a difficult role that asks us to be at times sympathetic toward and simultaneously horrified with her character. She refuses to turn her animal loving heroine into a caricature. The film also features a great supporting cast including John C. Reilly, Regina King, Peter Saarsgard, and Laura Dern.

A very solid film worth checking out.


New Fall shows

The networks unveiled their Fall schedules last week and TV Week posted the clips of the new shows. Be sure to watch Cavemen. Looks really bad.


Where I've been

Having just finished school, I've been on vacation and looking for work. So I haven't been on the internet much. Stay tuned for updates.

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