Friday, March 30, 2012

the happiest day

starring Justin, Gregg, Sam, William, Macario and the squirrel

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Currently Reading/Watching/Listening

I've recently been invited into an elite group -- the Index skateboarder wives inner circle. They're cool. They brunch. They have a book club. I desperately miss having a social life since I moved back to TX, so this is very exciting for me. I don't know if I'm actually "in" or not yet, but when they invited me to join the books-to-movie club, I didn't take it lightly. This month they're reading The Hunger Games and, though I was told they don't really even talk about the books anymore, I decided to not take any chances. Despite my rabid Potter fandom, I generally avoid YA novels. I'll take great writing over a good story 9 times out of 10, and there are just so many books out there, ya know? But I picked up The Hunger Games and read it over the weekend and really enjoyed it! You probably know it's a very similar story to Battle Royale, which is one of the coolest movies ever, but where it differs is where I found it most interesting. [MINI SPOILER ALERT] The coolest part of HG to me is the post-apocalyptic world it's set in, how the government rebuilt itself and how people who are not very far removed from us are coping. I was in the middle of reading Dante's Inferno when I picked up HG, so my mind was already in an awesomely dark, twisted, imaginative place, which made for a really good read. I'm thinking of reading the next book in the series but am a little concerned that it's going to veer into a Twilight-esque love triangle and I haaaate that. What do you think? Should I read Catching Fire?

Taso and I have been journaling our movie watching on Letterboxd, and I'm hooked. I like being able to see everything I've watched this year and remember what I thought of each film. This weekend we had a date night of Jeff, Who Lives at Home and 21 Jump Street. Honestly, Jeff is my favorite movie I've seen in the theater so far this year (I've watched a lot at home, but still). It was so much more than I was expecting. Funny, touching and has stuck with me. The Duplass brothers are becoming a force to be reckoned with, and this is their best. The performances are all wonderful, but I think this is the best Jason Segel has been, and Susan Sarandon is heartbreaking and refreshing at the same time. The whole movie centers around the name Kevin, which is totally weird because we originally went to see We Need To Talk About Kevin, but it was sold out. Sometimes the universe knows what you need, even if it's just a spectacular date night. 21 Jump Street was worlds funnier than I expected it to be. I don't think I've seen chemistry like what's between Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum... ever? It's crazy how good they are together. We cracked up the whole time, dick jokes and all (not usually my thing, let's be honest), and I loved the cameos. Even in its most overdone, ridiculous (and probably offensive) moments, I dug it.

Finally, this is my favorite song right now. The whole album is great -- best of the year so far -- but this is my anthem. I listen to it every day. Enjoy!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Slice of life: March


The birthday came and went and now it's almost April. Time is always slipping through my fingers.

B's been saving his money for a long time, so we decided to meet him halfway for his birthday and help him get an iPad 2 (now discounted since the new one came out). It was Taso's idea, but I'm really glad we did it. B is part of a generation that will never have lived without the Internet. Being as familiar as possible with all kinds of technology can only be a benefit to him. It's also super awesome as a sheet music reader and he can use Garage Band. He's happy and I bought myself another year or two before I have to get him a cell phone.
Those blissful first few years of your child's life crawl by and then, out of nowhere, you have a 10-year-old who texts you pictures he took of himself in Photo Booth.

We've done quite a bit of fruitless wedding location scouting. Nothing ever works out. I've been ready to throw in the towel and elope countless times, but he has a big Greek family and we have so many mutual friends who saw us through the rough times... so it's really not an option. 

I've been enjoying the weather lately. By June it will be so hot that my climate-change anxiety will be in full force, so I'm happy for the rainy March days (always my favorite) and the days that the sun peeks out, allowing me to sit in the grass and go bare-legged.

I'll leave you for now with my favorite picture from this month, because he still looks little when he sleeps.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

B's Big Surprise

My boy turns 10 tomorrow. TEN! I can't even.

He deserved the best party ever this year for so many reasons, and I thought long and hard about how to make that happen. Obviously it had to be a surprise because those are just more fun, and why not couple it with one of his favorite things in the whole world? Since he was a baby (I swear!) he's had a thing for airplanes, his favorite being WWII fighter planes and bombers, specifically the P51 Mustang. He did a huge research project and presentation on it in third grade, and has every book, video game and movie we've found on the subject. I did a little detective work and found out that there would be a real P51 Mustang at the Frontiers of Flight Museum this past weekend, and the Best Birthday Party Ever was born.

Taso created an elaborate story that totally had him fooled, while I planned, shopped, decorated and set up. My friend Sabrina of SAB Cakes made delicious cupcakes for everyone, and I stuck those 10 candles in a big apple pie, B's favorite! Everyone played along with the big surprise like champs (although, sadly, I never convinced them to dress in '40s attire) and the whole thing went off without a hitch.

There were lots of veterans on hand to tell us all about the P51 (and keep me company while I set up)! I think they got a kick out of Taso's big ruse. I know B did! 
 He was SO surprised and embarrassed. Look at those red cheeks!
He kept saying over and over that this was the BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!
And then it finally happened... He met Betty Jane. I think I saw a tear in his eye.
 
 She was really loud.
 After watching the P51 take off and fly around, he got to tour the other WWII bombers that were there.
 Taso checked them out too.

 Taso's cousin David gave him a model P51 and it now sits on his nightstand next to him while he sleeps. The party was officially a success, and I don't think there's any doubt that 10 will be his best year.

The celebration isn't over yet. Sunday morning we went to Spiral Diner to have their endless vegan pancakes, and it's like they knew it was his birthday - the pancake flavor of the day was Apple!


Wednesday is the actual big day and I have even more plans up my sleeve! My boy has been a real trooper the last few years, so it's great to show him how valued he is and see him so stoked on life.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

footprint

I've been playing around on this blog for several years now, not to mention jumping into and out of social networking sites since the late 90s, and I've only just now started thinking about possibly taking it a little more seriously... maybe. I'm not talking about becoming a Super Networker or selling ad space on my blog so the 50 or so people who read it can make me a couple bucks. As much as I may joke about it, I don't actually want to become Internet famous or have any delusion that my online footprint could help my career (at this point). I just want to get organized and try a little harder to be relevant and have a purpose.  

I have about a thousand bookmarks and there are always multiple tabs open in my browser. There are starred tweets, liked pins and Amazon wishlists (just to remind me what books I want to find and read next) that I haven't looked at in months. It's getting a bit ridiculous... and I don't even have a Facebook (happily deactivated since 2008)! In the meantime, I neglect this blog -- meant to be a place where I publish my thoughts, feelings, moments and photos for the purpose of personal preservation and connection to my family and friends -- and I put off the real writing I want to do and should be doing. With all of the opportunity it provides, why do I use the Internet so inefficiently? For that matter, am I doing anything to contribute to a cause greater than myself? 

Let me derail for a moment: I read all of these insanely condescending articles written about Millennials (particularly educated, middle class 20/30-somethings living with their parents and not giving a cuss about the world outside their self-absorbed bubble) and I feel a combo of anger, extreme eye rolling, amusement (lol, old people), guilt and self-loathing. I think any article written about a particular demographic by someone not in that demographic is kind of pointless, but I also know that 90% of what I write -- and what I do with my time in front of this screen -- is too, so... I don't have much room to be cranky, do I? I'm feeling an increasing sense of panic as the world seemingly slides into chaos. Women are under attack in this country, the world's problems rage on and people seem to talk more about them but actually do less, the planet is hot and volatile, trashy reality TV is a thing... I guess I just want to be conscious of what I'm contributing to and not contributing to, and take a little more accountability for the part of my life that has made its way to the vast everywhere that is the Internet. 

I'm going to blog more often and more meaningfully here to keep my own record. I'm also toying with a more professional (though still personally-motivated) blog and am just looking for the right place to host it. My thesis turned into a passion project that has kept me up many a night and spiraled into this thing that I can't stop talking about. The topic of the film industry's conversion from film to digital, and the impact it's having on archives, art house theaters and film studies is constantly changing and my thesis (completed less than a year ago) is already way outdated. I find all of this endlessly interesting, and often very stressful, and I think a blog would be a more useful place to keep my opinions than, oh, say, the inboxes of everyone I've ever met... David Bordwell wrote this amazing blog post that sums up my thesis plain and simple, without all the half-page-long footnotes and trailing off into incoherence. My friend Moya writes brilliant stuff like this amidst being a professor and writing books. And I feel lazy. So, yes, I'm going to try to be more disciplined and actually have something to say, whether it's an on-time post about my son's birthday party or a thought-out manifesto on the shortsightedness of Virtual Print Fees. I also want to write about the movies I've been watching.

I'll be honest, I have no idea where to start when it comes to actually being useful, you know, in the world... but maybe I can at least be slightly less useless. I'm thinking more about what I read, watch and what sites I join. There is so much irresponsibility on the Internet (there are 100 stories I want to link to right now and I can't narrow it down, but you know what I'm talking about anyway) and, yeah, maybe by sticking to my personal life and the topics I actually know about I'm not really taking great strides to make a difference, but maybe if I try a little harder I can be sure I'm not a part of it. Besides, why do anything without a purpose, a plan and commitment, right? I make no promises about cleaning up my sentence structure.

More soon.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

lately

Beauty and the Beast was the first movie I saw in a movie theater. When it was nominated for an Academy Award I stayed up all night on a school night to watch. I was six. 

Taso and I went to see it last week, my first time in 20 years. I didn't like the 3D, or they way they've reworked it for the 3D, but it did make me so happy to see it on the big screen again. Taso and I were the only people in the theater so we put together one of each of the lenses on our 3D glasses and took this picture through them. I'm not ashamed to tell you that or that I cried a little bit through the ballroom scene. I'm happy I got to share it with Taso.
My bff Gregg's birthday was last weekend, so we went to visit him out in the middle of nowhere. I miss him. It was great to see him so happy. And just to see him at all (for only the second time since December).
We've been unsuccessfully scouting for wedding venues. Nothing has worked out yet, maybe because I don't like Dallas. I feel like I'm always wearing shoes that are too small here. If anyone knows of a pretty spot in North Texas that's not pretentious and a trillion dollars, please tell me!

(one of the not-as-awesome-in-person locations)

Forgive my thinly veiled crankiness. I haven't been posting because I feel like every time I try to write, I just end up complaining about the same things. If there was any doubt about Taso's love for me, his patience with my melancholy (and endless support) the last couple months have proven him. I'm not going to go into my unemployment woes or my frustration with the city I live in (and longing for the one I left behind). Instead, I'll just show you what does make me happy and grateful:
(saying goodbye to the last couple baby teeth *tear*)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Oscar Roundup

I have a sick, demented relationship with the Academy Awards. The Oscar voting pool is 90% white, 77% percent male, with a median age of 62 (look it up). They have consistently made some terrible decisions for the last 80+ years and I hate them. However, every year from December through February I forget this, watch all the movies and obsess over every single nomination. When the big day comes I settle in with my Chinese food and sparkling beverage and spend the next 3 (or so) hours going on a roller coaster of emotions. I don't actually believe that winning an Oscar means much, but there's something about Hollywood desperately seeking to legitimize what they do that reels me right in. I also love dresses. All the dresses.

This year Taso and I kept ballots for our predictions and ended up tying at 11 out of 24. We also chose our favorites in each category and I think maybe two of mine won - Woody Allen was one of them! My only real beef with the Academy right now is that they're giving cinematography awards to CG films, so they're basically redefining what cinematography means and I'm not cool with that. When that category went to Avatar in 2009/10 I almost threw something through my TV. 

Despite being disappointed with what a shoddy production the Oscars have become in recent years, I really wasn't expecting to be so bored this year. As for the red carpet, Gwyneth Paltrow's cape made my heart skip a beat (if she hadn't taken it off it would have been my favorite of the night) and Ellie Kemper looked UNBELIEVABLE but otherwise the dresses were kind of a snoozefest.
Billy Crystal... Bless his heart. The video segments looked like they were done in iMovie and Keynote, the music was boring and there were some glaring omissions from the In Memoriam montage. Despite the inevitable disappointments that come with watching the Oscars, I did think it was a good, if weird, year for movies. Here's my take:

The Artist
This movie was basically Singing in the Rain but the opposite, right? Same story, but silent rather than a musical. Obviously I love Singing in the Rain and I love a gimmick when it's good (and what's not good about silent films?), so I totally enjoyed The Artist. The nitrate fire was delicious, but can't compete with the one in Inglourious Basterds. Everyone in the film was delightful and I had a great time in the movies watching it, but I don't know that I was bowled over the way everyone seemed to be. Still, while it's not what I would have chosen, I'm pleased that it won so many awards. Now more people will see it, fall in love with silent cinema, and go revisit the real stuff. I read something yesterday that said DVD sales of silent films have gone up by 40% just since the Oscars. Wonderful stuff.

The Descendants
Did not/will not see because Alexander Payne is the WORST.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
I just can't... but I did quietly root for Max von Sydow to win Best Supporting Actor because he deserves a lifetime achievement award and I fear this is the closest he will get.

The Help
How - HOW - did Jessica Chastain get nominated for this and not for Tree of Life?!?!?! The Academy's choices never cease to baffle me.

Hugo
I really liked Hugo. The fragments of Méliès films interwoven with Scorsese's imaginings of what his sets looked like brought tears to my eyes. I was bored by the story and the CGI, and thought the pacing was a bit strange (it feels like he had a hard time cutting things, which is understandable). But seeing Marty's deep love of cinema shine through in those Méliès scenes, feeling so proud of the importance of film preservation and seeing my son get excited about film history made me a weepy mess.

Midnight in Paris 

Moneyball
This is a classic in my book. A good story, great writing and acting, and fantastic camera work made it feel like the opposite of a sports film. It reminds me of a great 70s-era American movie, but with slightly flashier lighting. No qualms at all with any of its nominations and I even felt it more deserving than the winner in a couple of the categories.

War Horse
Again, I can't. My interest in this film is less than zero.

Tree of Life 
Hands down the best film of the year and the best film in many years. That more people don't see its beauty and value to cinema makes no sense to me, but I have learned (thanks to working for film festivals and going to NYU) that everyone experiences art differently and in their own context and that's cool. For my money, it should have swept.

Just for fun, here are a few photos from Oscar night:
My Academy Award manicure and my side of the couch/ballot vs. Taso's.