Monday, August 30, 2010

Too Long

I've been neglecting this blog in favor of my Tumblr. But for the sake of greater accessibility, I'm putting something out here:

I'm not a film student anymore.

No, I know: I still occasionally work on adaptations & visual compositions, and I know a lot about movies, and I have seen a lot of movies, but I'm not working on critical interpretation of films primarily. I've had people introduce me to other academics as a film studies person, which doesn't bother me; it just means they haven't been keeping up with me. I'm not a famous scholar (yet...) so that's forgivable.

What I don't like, however, is people being surprised, nearly personally offended, when I haven't seen their New Favorite Best New Favorite Movie Ever.

I even understand this to an extent, I guess: I live in Los Angeles and I am interested in movies. Therefore, I should have seen it.

But here's the other problem: I live in Los Angeles. Ticket prices: high. Drive to the theater: takes time. Sitting through the movie: takes more time. Finding parking: annoying time taker. For the cost of the ticket plus the cost of time I'm spending, it's not worth it to me to go see movies in theaters when I could be doing other things.

Here is a short list of movies I haven't seen recently that EVERYONE is apparently losing their crap over:
~Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
~The Expendables
~The Last Exorcism
~Toy Story 3
~The Kids Are All Right
~Mesrine: Killer Instinct

And then they refuse to talk to me about them because either "they don't want to ruin it" (I don't care if you spoil it, I didn't bother to see it in theaters) or else "they don't want to spend the time catching me up" (then don't be rude: change the subject).

To give you an idea, the last movie I saw in theaters was Iron Man 2, on a date (i.e. with someone I wanted to be spending time with, so the experience didn't feel self-indulgent; much the more delight when he got all traditional on me and paid).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

It Only *Sounds* Like Gum

I've been seeing this commercial a lot during prime time.

Okay, sex sells. I dig. But every time I see this commercial, I'm waiting for a disclaimer that Dentyne Ice does not protect against pregnancy or STDs. But there is no such warning.

Now I'd like to imagine that nobody is so stupid as to think this. Certainly not you and I, gentle reader; we are of the intelligent kind, let alone the kind with basic common sense.

And yet, ads for birth control pills remind users that "[Brand of OCP] does not protect against sexually transmitted infections and diseases." Let me reiterate: common sense. If you're mingling essences, so to speak, you're at risk. If you're mature enough to decide to use oral contraception, you should be smart enough not to need a warning. But there it is.

There are similar warnings, arguably more disconcerting because not attached to as taboo a subject as sex, on food packaging. You know, "remove plastic and cardboard backing from pizza before placing it in the oven." Really? I mean, there's a difference between not knowing about safe sex because you're too embarrassed to ask and being an utterly oblivious moron who has to be reminded not to melt the plastic on the pizza.

When I consider that something as common sense and *not* controversial as food preparation has to be explicitly stated, I can't imagine how soon we're going to be hearing the news story about some kid suing Dentyne Ice because he thought it would keep his girlfriend from getting pregnant.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Pet Names: A Hate Song

Okay, so not all of them. I happen to know a certain Charles who would object to my cessation of this term of endearment. But there's something, and it's not just my personal history talking, that feels really wrong about the word "babe." I feel like the noun form (e.g. "S/He's a ~ .") is less irksome, but is still kind of obnoxious, especially when paired with the qualifiers "total," "hot," or "totally hot."

It's also not just that it reminds me of the Two A-Holes skit from SNL, because I'm sure they were inspired by a like-minded-thinker's like-minded distaste for this specific pet name.

It's also not just the Oleanna feminist anger saying "Don't call your wife 'baby'." Somehow, I have less of a problem with baby, perhaps because my dad uses that one, although the infantilization of women in this practice can absolutely be debated. One of my aunts uses the term "babes" generally like others use "sweetie" or "darling."

Indeed, and ultimately, as this seems to be my problem with other relationship weirdness, it's certainly not because I've never been verbally marked with this moniker. I've had a handful of guys "babe" me, and it's always taken me out of the mind of affection: it always sounded forced, patronizing, and placating, and it always made me awkward and uncomfortable. [Please note: I did vocalize this distaste to the guys in question, and they were respectful, but it's such a strong part of casual "dating-speak" that they would say it unwittingly, in much the same way professed atheists will slip "oh god..." into casual conversation.]

But in spite of all these qualifications regarding why it *doesn't* bother me, there's something about "babe" that just really makes my skin crawl. It comes across less infantilizing than proprietary, particularly when it's a man saying it to a woman. If "baby" is infantilizing, then is "babe" your way of saying "I'm too lazy and casual to give you a second syllable because you don't deserve it"?

Maybe I don't like it because I can't put my finger on why it bothers me: infantilization is bad, and something on the lines of "dat my girl" is a whole different can of disgusting worms puking up cans of other worms, but this one is kind of just plain annoying.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

And the Winner Isn't...

Okay, without getting into too much depth here, it's been a while since I posted and I thought Oscar night would be as good a time as any to say that I really don't like that they've gone back to saying "And the winner is..." instead of "And the Oscar goes to...". To some of you this might sound like loser talk, but you've just been told that you're among the top five performances of that year. That, in my book, is a win.

And there has already been all kinds of uproar about Avatar not winning and about Sandra Bullock winning and... grumble, grumble, blah blah blah. That's why they have the People's Choice Awards.

You know what other movie didn't win best picture? Citizen Kane. You know what did win that year? You don't? For the record: How Green was My Valley. Did you ever see it? You know what other films didn't win? The Wizard of Oz and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington didn't, the same year Gone with the Wind did.

Okay, yes it matters. But ultimately, it doesn't matter.

But here's the bottom line: the Academy is just as predictable as it's not.

Sometimes they pick the box office favorite (cf. Titanic), or the one that everybody expects to win (cf. Slumdog Millionaire) and sometimes they take the surprise (cf. Crash when everybody was sure Brokeback Mountain had it in the bag). What's predictable is the chance to make an easy political statement: Crash vs. Brokeback was a case of "What's a bigger issue for everyone in America today: gays or racism?", which is shortly followed by Sean Penn in Milk (because let's give the gays the voice that they complained about losing to Crash).

This year, without any intended denigration to the people who do this in real life, it had to be The Hurt Locker for that same reason. Racism is a problem, so here's an Oscar for Crash. Homophobia is a problem, so here's an Oscar for Milk. Feminism isn't where we thought it should be, so here's an Oscar for Kathryn Bigelow. Our president is promising to bring the troops home, but we need a reminder, so here's an Oscar for The Hurt Locker.

So if it's really about what movie is the "best," or what performance is the "best"... well, let's face it. It's not about which is the best. It's about which is best *for that year*, and *under those political circumstances*.

And if you don't agree? You can cool it and make your own awards ceremony.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Doppelgäng Wars

Facebook's Doppelgänger Week has inspired me to devise a few variants that have less to do with vanity and/or celebrity worship. So instead of Doppelgänger Week, here are five viable alternatives:

~Change your profile picture to an image of Lucille Bluth: Doppel-Gangy Week

~Change your image to Vampire Willow or Vampire Xander: Doppelgangland Week.

~Post a series of letters in your status that might be rearranged to form other words: Doppelganagram Week (or alternately, Boggleganger Week).

~Update your status with a sequence of your favorite medical conditions: Doppelgangrene Week.

~Over increasingly small increments of time, subject your friends to water-torture-like update frequencies: Dropletganger Week.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Rollin' with the Homies

I just saw this advertisement during early-evening programing for this product.

Yes, L'Oréal Paris has developed the most ingenious device to make absolutely certain your makeup doesn't smudge, smear, or streak!

But wait, doesn't this device sound a little familiar? Oh yes, here it is.

That's right, ladies. Just as you apply an even coat of paint to match your new living room, so can you now apply makeup to your face. Why stop there? Why not spackle over your pores? Sand down the acne? Don't forget the layer of primer before you finish it all with two coats of a durable acrylic latex matte. You'll never have to buy makeup remover again!

Friday, January 1, 2010

"Your time... begins now!"

The coveted prize in the Beck Family white elephant gift exchange was a copy of the Top Chef Quickfire Cookbook. After frequent confident hand-changes, the last number, my number, was called and I quietly claimed the shiny desirable.

I'm not going to pretend that I wanted it most, or that I didn't feel guilty after having watched cousin after cousin eye the book with delight. I promised to blog the recipes and the results. I'll try to have a weekly recipe experiment (not always on here) in which I divulge the relative success and deliciousness.

Tonight's reciperiment: Joey's Scallops with Jasmine Rice Risotto

1 c. jasmine rice
2 c. coconut milk
8 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
1 mango, peeled, pitted, and diced
1 T. thinly sliced fresh mint
1 T. thinly sliced fresh basil
8 scallops
cayenne pepper
1 t. peanut oil for frying

1. Over medium heat, stir together rice & coconut and cover. Bring to slow boil & reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until creamy (~ 15 min). Remove from heat, then stir in mushrooms, mango, mint, and basil.
2. While rice is cooking, season scallops w/ salt & cayenne. Over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan, heat peanut oil. Add scallops & sear for 1.5-2 minutes on each side (mine took longer than this, but the rice & scallops were done at exactly the same time).
3. Spoon rice onto each plate & top with scallops. Garnish with mint and basil if needed.

Prep: 35 minutes; serves 2-4

Okay, this was basically the perfect serving size of food for me, but I think my dad was a little let down that there weren't more scallops (I used mini-scallops, about 12 oz.). Also, my mom acted as sous-chef (a.k.a. cutting up the mango and mushrooms), so the prep time including cooking was maybe 20 minutes. At the most. Outstanding.

Judges? What do you think?
Linda: 9/10 a very yummy birthday dinner treat!
CMDP: 6.5 or 7/10 using the TC judges' scale. The rice was a little overcooked, and the plating wasn't particularly inspired, but the play of flavors was very delicately balanced.
Dan: "Yeah, it's good."