Archive for the ‘What I'm Watching’ Category

Most. Depressing. Birthday. Evar.

January 25, 2012

This is why the Hubby usually doesn’t get to plan our outings.

Yesterday (Tuesday) was Hubby’s 38th birthday. Hehehe – my old man! Last week I asked what he was thinking about doing for his birthday, and I was pleasantly surprised when he told me that he was toying with the idea of going to an indoor paintball range or an indoor waterpark. I LOVE that kind of stuff, but he’s usually not into the running around and being goofy like I am. But it’s January so maybe there’s some cabin fever going on.

I should have known it was too good to be true. On Monday he changed his mind and told me he wanted to see The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo over at the West End Icon Theater VIP Lounge. Normally this would have been cool, ‘cuz I like movies and swanky, overpriced movie theaters, but I had no desire to see TGWTDT. I had heard that while it was very good, it was also very dark, that there was a graphic rape scene and that it was a pretty depressing movie all around. I tend to skip movies like this because I don’t like the way they make me feel. My take on most horror and a certain subsection of suspense/thrillers is that I know there’s heinous, offensive, horrifying shit out here in the world; I don’t need to watch it for entertainment. That’s just me, and I don’t begrudge or think less of people who enjoy dark movies. But my $10, my three hours…this isn’t how I usually want to spend them.

But it was the hubby’s birthday, so I put on a smile and went along. Please know it wasn’t traumatizing for me to watch the movie, I just wasn’t looking forward to it. *sighs* And I was right. I was in a funky, depressed mood afterwards. Here’s my facebook writeup:

It’s certainly not the first time I’ve been introduced by media to the concepts of evil, cruelty, revenge, abuse of power, rape, incest, familial battery, serial murder, sadism, mafia business dealings, corporate greed (to name a few of the story’s highlights) but I was angered, offended, depressed, horrified, revolted, saddened and wearied during and slightly after the movie. It was a well-made dark movie that evokes dark emotions.

But…it was Hubby’s birthday, so I shook it off.

Afterward we went to Pizza Luce for dinner, which was ridiculous because we were stuffed on salty, buttery popcorn and Raisinets. We had a rousing discussion on politics, including a comparison of  liberal and conservative philosophies. That meandered its way to a discussion of the corporation city of Shenzhen, China, which he posed as an example of what no-government rule over corporate interests looks like. Which got us talking about corporate greed, consumer responsibility, and a shared disbelief that companies would so callously act like…ya know, companies…all of which ended up being horribly depressing.

I finally put the kibosh on the whole depressing trend by jokingly telling the Hubby that this was the most depressing birthday party I had ever attended, what with the cat killing and unsolvable problem of slave working conditions in China. I was going for “Hahaha – what a night, amiright?”, but some of my down mood must have really come across, which made the Hubby depressed and upset because he was having a good time and didn’t know that I was depressed. Plus, by the time we were done with popcorn-raisinets-gallons of soda-pizza there was simply no room for ice cream, which usually makes things all better.

But you know what did make things better? Presents. I got the Hubby a couple of things he had been wanting (tattoo magazines, a gift certificate for range time at Bill’s Gun Shop in Robbinsdale), but at the last minute I had also picked up this silly gorilla holding a cheesy red heart, which I had debated throwing in for the very nature of its intense cheesiness.

And would you know it – that silly damned gorilla broke the mood. Who can think depressing thoughts with this guy around?

But seriously…next year I have veto power on the Hubby’s birthday. No I don’t. Dammit!

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HPV Vaccine: Making It Personal

September 15, 2011

I watched the CNN Tea Party Republican debate on Monday night. I disagreed with a lot of the issues that the candidates presented, and my blood really boiled when the candidates skirted direct questions to make snarky personal attacks on each other and President Obama. And I really, really mourned for the human race when it became clear that the audience went wild every time a cutthroat comment was made, regardless of the comment’s bearing on the question at hand. But every now and then there was a bit of level-headed debate from some of the candidates on some of the issues.

The HPV vaccine was not one of them.

Four years ago Rick Perry signed an executive order that required Texas girls to be vaccinated against HPV. He was lambasted for that decision on several fronts. Some people believe that vaccination against the STI condones premarital sex (excuse me while I go weep in the corner), some  think that Perry abused the executive order to mandate health care, that he threatened parents’ rights to decide what is best for their children (even though the executive order allowed for parental opt-out), or that he signed the mandate in order to reward political donations from Merck, the producer of the vaccine. Michelle Bachmann, in an amazing show of moral self-righteousness, predatory fear-mongering, and willful ignorance of vaccine safety used all of these arguments to rail against Perry on Monday’s Republican debate.

Dear American voters – lead us not to Michelle Bachmann, but deliver us from her evil. For thine is the will of the people, and…you are our only hope. Or something like that.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a big supporter of vaccines. We have regulatory bodies as well as an informed medical and scientific community that is able to evaluate the safety and efficacy of vaccines. Also, we have science! Science that any layman can access with a little bit of internet searching! If the majority of the medical establishment supports a vaccine, I’m behind it. Because you know what sucks? People suffering and dying from preventable illnesses.

The HPV vaccine offers hope to women because we are susceptible to HPV-caused cervical cancer. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection – 50% of sexually active Americans will become infected sometime in their lives. We need to stop viewing HPV infection as a punishment for having sex and start viewing it as a risk that we can decrease when we do have sex. Sex happens, so does HPV. Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate!

I found the following personal story from Quiche Moraine on the Almost Diamonds blog. This is the kind of heartwrenching stress, agony, physical pain and emotional trauma that the HPV vaccine may help prevent. The vaccine is a medical wonder, and I shame those who pervert it into a political tool.

From Quiche Moraine:

One day your doctor calls. You think to yourself, “Huh. Last clinic, it would have been a nurse. Whatever.” And the news is good: Blood work, even the special stuff they did because you’ve not been feeling well and you have a family history, is perfectly, beautifully normal.

Oh, except the Pap smear came back abnormal and here’s the number for a gynecological clinic and tell them “CIN 2-3″ when you call to make the appointment for a colposcopy.
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Cruise, Costumes and Chores: A Weekend

August 9, 2011

I had my first full weekend all to myself in three weeks! Work is finally slowing down for TheBigProject. All of the testing is done and now it’s paperwork, documentation and repeat. There are still some late nights, but it should be tapering off to a more normal pace around here.

Friday night after work I hung out with friends until about 9:30pm, then came home and went to bed. I managed to make it through about two paragraphs of The Ship Who Searched before succumbing to sleep. I barely managed to set the book on the bed stand before going under, and I slept in until 9am the next morning. Ahhhh! I needed that.

Saturday was COSTUME AND CRUISE day! I didn’t have time to pull together a costume for this past CONvergence, so I’ve gotten a bee in my bonnet to actually make a costume (or two) for Dragon*Con. I reaaaaalllly wanted to make a Minion costume (from Despicable Me), but because I’ll be flying to Dragon*Con I didn’t see any cheap, easy way to get the finished costume from Minneapolis down to Atlanta. So maybe I’ll save that one for CONvergence 2012.

I actually ran into that a lot during planning. I want to be able to transport a costume (or two) in one carry-on (EDIT: checked) bag. The only large luggage that I own is soft-sided or I could pack a sturdy cardboard box. So I’m limited by size, weight and durability of a finished costume (as well as breathability – I’m going to be in Atlanta, GA at the beginning of September and I hear that’s still hot season). And for some reason I’m all about constructing a costume. I may purchase a secondary costume from an online store – something that consists of easily pack-able themed clothing and a few small accessories, but I want one uber-costume that takes a little thought, is maybe (dare I hope) original, and requires some hardware. If it doesn’t require at least one trip to Home Depot, it’s out of the running.

I spent all of Saturday morning bouncing ideas off of The Very Patient Hubby and I think we’ve finally got something good. It took longer to collect supplies than I thought; I spent Saturday, Sunday and Monday shopping all over Minneapolis and the greater metro area. Here’s the list of stores that I’ve visited:

  • Saturday: Border’s (book store), Michael’s (crafts store), Walgreen’s, Jo-Ann Fabrics, Walmart, Home Depot (there – a Home Depot stop! We are now legit.).
  • Sunday: SR Harris Fabric Outlet
  • Monday: The Paper Depot, Office Max and a second trip to Home Depot (now we’re double legit). 

Phew! The final purchases now include

  • 1 children’s story book
  • 45 yards of fake ivy
  • 4 red poster boards
  • 15 feet of 8-gauge copper wire
  • 4 wire connectors
  • 2 yards of green upholstery fabric
  • 1 package of business cards
  • 1 rubber stamp and green ink pad
  • 1 themed paper punch
  • Adhesive jewel dots
  • Adhesive foam scrapbooking spacers
  • 1 regular paper punch
  • 1 red fine-tip Sharpie
  • Gorilla glue
  • Twine (because what project is complete without twine?)

Now to put them all together…

In between running around for costuming supplies on Saturday, the Hubby and I took a Minnesota Riverboat cruise. We drove to Harriet Island in Saint Paul and boarded one of the Padelford paddle boats for a 1.5-hour trip south along the Mississippi. We managed to snag chairs outside on the lower deck, so I had some great opportunities for taking photos of the people, birds and structures that we passed along the way. Plus, they had a bar. So there was that.

Old Factory

Fishing the MIssissippi

Bald Eagle Soaring

Osprey

St. Paul under the High Bridge

I have more pictures of our cruise here on Flickr.

Sunday was no fun, but it was fulfilling. I woke up in a cleaning frenzy and straightened up the living room, cleaned the bathroom, vacuumed, took out the garbage and recycling and did two loads of laundry, and all of that between the hours of 8:30am and 10:30am. Then I went costume supply shopping and errand-running (ewwww…Costco on a Sunday afternoon). I certainly racked up the FourSquare points that day. The Hubby came home from running his own errands and we cooked brats on the grill and watched The End of Time: Parts 1 and 2 on Netflix. How did I not see this before??? Why wasn’t this part of Season Five of Doctor Who (did I just miss it because of a Netflix mishap)? It was good…I almost started crying when David Tennant…you know…did that thing where he became Matt Smith.

And then it was Monday. Wheeee!

Is everyone on FB right now, or what?

October 16, 2010

Seriously, stop with all the awesome, I’m trying to work!

I love that the people shown here didn’t get mad and seemed to genuinely think about the question and the implications of the answer.

And this one is just good fun.

You go, Mister President, Sir.  You smoke that cigarette!

 

TV Good

September 29, 2010

Oh hai!  Here I am!

On Monday night I entered the timedrain called House M.D., Season 6. 

On Sunday I bought the 22-episode set from Target.  I had a very nice gift card to spend and there was apparently nothing more useful or relevant to my life that I needed from the Target superstore. 

The Hubby was scheduled to go out of town on business for the week, so I figured I would use the five days to watch the hell out of Season 6 while he was gone.  I also bought some of the food that I love – and he does not – to eat while he was gone: Ham sandwich meat, tofu, artichoke, brussel sprouts.  Yum!

I neglected the blog these last two days, it’s true.  House is like vicodin crack and I’ve literally been watching it from the time I get home from work until I go to bed.  I watched five hours of House on Monday night.  I watched three episodes last night.

Watching a TV series is like a chore – a lovely, wonderful, enjoyable chore – or a box on a checklist that I want to mark off so I can move on with my life.  I rarely re-watch movies, I just want to take in the story and be done.  I kinda wish more of my favorite TV shows were two-hour long movies.  

This is why I’ve begun to resist starting shows that I think I would love: Chuck, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, MythBusters.  And I’ve put the kabash on continuing some shows that I started and know I loved: BattleStar Galactica, Glee, Will and Grace, CSI: Las Vegas, Eureka, 24.  We don’t have regular TV access; everything we do watch is very deliberately downloaded from Hulu or Netflix Instant Watch.  Not having television makes it much harder to get exposed – and addicted – to new shows.

This fascination with stories is also why I’m not a gamer…I would be That Gamer who doesn’t leave the house until I solved the game.  Hell, as a kid I stayed glued to Super Mario Bros 3 for about a week until I thought I had unlocked every secret, and then I bought the cheat book and played again from the beginning.  There’s no way I could take on an adult video game and not starve to death (new diet???).  And forget about games that have no end, like WoW  – that would be my undoing.  I want spend my time getting ready to go back to school and going on trips and volunteering and doing active outdoorsy activities.  So instead I’m minimizing my TV watching, and I shall try to focus my efforts elsewhere.

You know…after I’m done with House.  

~~~~~

Dr. House: We are selfish, base animals crawling across the earth, but ’cause we’ve got brains, if we try really hard, we can usually aspire to something that is less than pure evil.

Season 3, episode 12 “One Day, One Room”

2010 Twin Cities Pride Intro

June 28, 2010

This past weekend was the Twin Cities GLBT Pride Festival.  I had a blast and wore myself out!  I hung out with friends at the 19 Bar in Minneapolis on Thursday night, and then at Rumours/Innuendo in St. Paul on Friday night (I love the name of this bar!). 

On Saturday morning I picked up Ashley (the 13 yo I mentor) and one of her friends and we went to Pride in the Park.  Yesterday I went to the Pride Parade and then spent more time at Pride in the Park with the Hubby.  And finally last night I joined my friend Courtney and her roommates at their place for Rocky Road sundaes and a British movie called The History Boys, which was reminiscent of The Dead Poet’s Society except with fabulously dry British humor.

I can’t wait to get home and process my pictures from the weekend!  I’ll post those tomorrow, but for now enjoy this collection of photos from last year’s Twin Cities Pride that was put together into a video by admanbobw and uploaded to youtube.

Weekend Report: Kick Ass and Psycho Suzi’s

April 26, 2010

I saw Kick Ass this weekend with a bunch of coworkers from the bookstore, and I LOVED it.  Seriously, I heart Hit Girl – she’s one of the baddest ass action heroes that I’ve ever seen.  Check her out, but not at work because much like Hit Girl herself, this video is violent and crude.

~~~~~~~~~~

On Saturday night me, the Hubby, and our good friend Courtney went to Psycho Suzi’s, a fantastic hipster tiki-themed bar in Nordeast Minneapolis.  They’ve got famous tiki drinks like The Native’s Curse, the Crummy Scoundrel and their over-sized version of a group punch bowl, the Flaming Pele. 

I ordered a drink special that had a really geeky chemistry theme –  the Tikium Euphorium, chemical symbol “Te”.  I was hoping to be able to read the description on the sign in this picture, but sadly it’s a leeetle to small to see.  I don’t know any cool computer tricks to blow it up and maintain the resolution, but hey – it’s still a cut pic of moi!

Another great thing about Psycho Suzi’s is the trailer-trash appetizers – we ordered tater tots and pickle roll ups – dill pickles rolled in ham and cream cheese…mmmm….

~~~~~~~~~~

On Sunday I took Ashley to the Como Zoo in St. Paul.  We were going to take an Adventure Drive down to Manketo…oops, so an Adventure Drive is when you decide how much time you want to spend going in any one direction, then you draw a radius around your starting point, pick a direction or a highway and go explore.  But sadly, at our fueling stop (that’s the Carribou Coffee, not the gas station), I discovered that I had left my wallet at home.  By the time we got back to Minneapolis, we didn’t have nearly enough time to make it to Manketo, so we decided to shelf the Adventure Drive and go to the Conservatory and Zoo.

Ashley at the Sunken Garden

Dah-link, it’s been ages!

March 31, 2010

I want a computer in my brain.  Sign me up – I’ll be an early adopter for that one. 

I’ve been housesitting since last Thursday, and I haven’t had access to my desktop computer, so my online activity has taken a dive.  I do have my iPod Touch, and the house in which I’m staying has wireless, but everything was so slow…and the keys are so small…and everything’s in mobile content mode…ugh.  Very little Facebook, no checking my favorite blogs, and no additions to my personal blog.  It’s all very sad.  So, I’m writing a quick update via the ol’ office ‘puter just to let you all know that everything’s fine…life is good. 

I unexpectedly earned a little bit of money – just enough that I’ll be able to visit Mom in Europe this summer!  She’s taking a month-long class in Italy, and on either side of that she’ll have some vacation time.  I wanted to join her, but wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to manage it financially, so this was very exciting.

Housesitting is going well.  I’m living in Burnsville this week with my friend’s daughter, and four cats and a dog.  The daughter has her driver’s license and access to a car, so I don’t see her much.  Also, my second job at the bookstore is minimizing our face-to-face time, so we’re doing a lot of note-leaving and texting.  Last night was cool though: We both had the night at home so we had Taco Tuesday and vegged all night long.  Seriously, I haven’t watched that much TV…well, probably since the one time I was fired, and totally depressed, and I watched all 24 hours of 24…in 24 hours (well…22-23 hours with commercials, probably).   

One of the shows we watched was CSI: Special Victims Unit.  Last night’s episode presented some of the same topics that I just finished reading about in Half the Sky.  This is an incredible book  about the injustices and inequities suffered by women throught southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa.  The book focused on forced prostitution in SE Asia, rape as a weapon of war in Africa, repression of women in the Middle East, female circumcision, maternal mortality, and how lack of education is probably the number one issue contributing to subjugation, abuse and death of women the world over.  The book also focuses on how each and every person in this world can take a stand against these injustices.  It is a brutal and inspiring book.

So, in this episode of CSI: SVU, a woman was raped and another woman walked in on the attack.  The witness grabbed the man off of the victim and punched him in the face.  Turns out that the witness was an illegal immigrant from Congo (i.e., Democratic Republic of Congo) who was a victim of rape by a rebel army.  Her and her five year old daughter were raped in front of her husband, who fled while the rebels were attacking his family.  The daughter died as a result of the attack.  The man returned home afterwards and cast his wife out because of the shame she brought to the family by being raped.  The woman escaped to a refuge camp, which was later attacked by a (US-defined) terrorist group.  All of the women were raped and forced to marry soldiers and leaders of the terrorist group.

So…cheery… 

But very, very good to see.  The more we hear, and the more we learn about these unbelievable  (to us in industrialized countries) circumstances in which our fellow human beings are existing, the more able and likely we’ll be to put our heads, hearts and hands together to end this barbarism. 

I’m currently researching a microfinancing website called Kiva (kiva.org).  Microfinancing is so simple a solution to poverty and inequity as to be mind-boggling (so simple, that there’s an app for that, literally). 

The College of Wikipedia textbook says this about microfinance:

Microfinance is the provision of financial services to low-income clients, including consumers and the self-employed, who traditionally lack access to banking and related services.

More broadly, it is a movement whose object is “a world in which as many poor and near-poor households as possible have permanent access to an appropriate range of high quality financial services, including not just credit but also savings, insurance, and fund transfers.” Those who promote microfinance generally believe that such access will help poor people out of poverty.

There was an entire section about microfinance in Half the Sky, and I’ve just picked up a copy of Banker to the Poor, by Muhammed Yunus, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his efforts in microfinance.  Kiva is a microfinance organization that lets anyone provide lending to projects or groups in any area of the world.  Check it out – it will blow your mind.

Review of “Creation”

February 17, 2010

The vote is in:  I was mesmorized by John Amiel’s Creation.  I mean sure, I may be guilty of liking the movie because I wanted to like it.  And certainly, the dragged-to-the-movie-by-his-woman dude in front of us who fell asleep and started snoring (followed quickly by being elbowed in the gut by the aforementioned lady-friend), may disagree with my assessment of the movie.  But, the music was haunting, the set and camera work was beautiful, and as predicted in my earlier post, I cried. 

Below are a list of my personal take-homes:

Note:  These are my thoughts from the movie.  I haven’t read Darwin, His Daughter and Human Evolution or Emma Darwin’s diaries, so I’m not going to attempt to draw a line between the movie and actual events.

1) “What’s popular isn’t always right, and what’s right isn’t always popular”.  This is a well-known aphorism, but Creation did an excellent job of showing us what it might be like to actually be put in this position.  However, in the movie Darwin appears to be swayed more by his wife’s reluctance for him to publish Origin, than by any external, peer criticism.  It would have been interesting to have seen the academic push-back that was alluded to by the Joseph Hooker character (paraphrase: “you have many enemies, but you also have friends, Charles”)

2) Losing a family member sucks, and it’s really too bad that Darwin didn’t have access to modern psychotherapy.

3) Hydrotherapy was a crock back then, too.

3) If you can convince a theist to read a good book on evolution, they can’t help but “see the light”.  Oh sure, maybe Emma didn’t burn the manuscript because it was the culmination of twenty years of her lover’s work and life…but I prefer to believe she was swayed by the evidence Darwin presented.

4) It’s a wonder On the Origin of Species made it to the publisher.  Seriously, the scariest moment of that whole movie for me was when Darwin tossed the papers – wrapped in brown packaging paper – on the back of the open-air horse-drawn mail carrier.  Did he back up his work?  I didn’t see any photocopies of Origin laying around!  What if it had rained?  Agh!

I knew going into the movie that it was going to mostly be focused on Charles Darwin’s relationship with his wife, Emma and daughter, Annie.  But as I hinted above, I would have liked to have seen more of the public drama surrounding the publication of the book.  So, whenever John Amiel gets around to making the sequel, I’m sooo there. 

All in all, Creation was a very good movie, and I’d see it again.  But next time I’ll remember to bring Kleenex.

I’m going to see “Creation”!

February 16, 2010

I am so thrilled to be seeing Creation tonight.  Darwin, Evolution, Paul Bettaney, Jennifer Connelly – hooray!  Oooo…the previews look great.  I think I’m going to need kleenex for this one; what little I head of the musical score was haunting and giving me that tight chest, breathless feeling.  I’m a big crybaby sucker when it comes to dramas, though.

I heard Richard Dawkins giving his thoughts about Creation on Freethought Radio podcast (2/6/10), and was interested to hear him disagree with what appears to some of the main elements of the movie – namely, the degree of tension between Darwin and his wife, Emma, and the portrayal of Thomas Huxley.  Others reviewers have questioned the reality of the over-the-top anguish and inner turmoil about the existence of god that has been written into the Darwin character, as Darwin was raised in a manner that allowed allowed him to critically analyze religion.

Creation is based on Randal Keynes’ book, Darwin, His Daughter and Human Evolution, which tells the story of the years Darwin spent writing On the Origin of Species.  There’s another trip to the bookstore!  I also want to pick up Charles and Emma: The Darwin’s Leap of Faith, and maybe reread Michael Keller’s On The Origin of Species: A Graphic Adaptation  *sigh*  I should just have my paychecks delivered to Barnes and Noble and save myself some effort.