Saturday, March 31, 2007
Will Ferrell is completely at ease in this movie, and extremely giving with his comedy. You feel in good hands throughout. Eleven dollars hasn't bought this much rib-shaking and raucous security since "Wayne's World" -- or make that "Mean Girls"?
There are moments of total physical genius (especially in Ferrell and Jon Heder's first routine together) and Craig T. Nelson is already our pick for Best Supporting Actor of 2007.
The film is refreshingly low-key and fleeced of potty humor, but it moves! Thank goodness for this sleek, dare we say classic? gift from Hollywood. We always knew the winter Olympics, full of sports played by vikings, were funny. But we would not have predicted this much fun from ninety minutes of spandex and sports talk. A+
Friday, March 30, 2007
According to the NY Journal News:
In the seven-county Hudson Valley region, retail salespeople earn a median salary of $21,450 a year. But Cimino said the criteria Circuit City used for determining the cuts also looked at wages for similar jobs within the market.
And just to make those newly unemployed sales associates feel better:
Cimino said that if any of those workers wanted to reapply for those jobs at the new lower wage they would be eligible to do so, "but after a period of time."
Please join Betty & Bimbo in boycotting Wal-Mart, for establishing this pattern, and Circuit City, for cowering in the face of it.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Also, thank you Betty for the mention about the internship. I would be more than happy to help people get involved in Obama's campaign this summer.
In the summer of 2007, Betty & Bimbo New England correspondent Obamarama will bring his mad Obama-boosting talents to Manchester, New Hampshire, a city named after the city where industry, progressive organizing, Morrissey, and "Don't Look Back in Anger" (do I smell a campaign theme song?) were born.
We congratulate Obamarama for getting hired by Barack's fine team, and predict that Manchester will not look back in anger after he and the barrage of Hope come rolling into town.
Are any other bloggers or readers getting involved in local, state, or national campaigns?
[pictured: Barry Hussein Obama when he was Obamarama's age.]
Monday, March 26, 2007
I was stopped short by the recent criticism of Rebecca Pidgeon in the comments below. I think she's terrific, and her performances are one of the things I most look forward to in David Mamet movies. Her screen presence can be opaque, it's true. But her reserved and sometimes icy demeanor meld wonderfully with the Mamet aesthetic. She is a top-notch interpreter of Mamet's language, giving the sense that every word that spills out of her mouth adds something new in the world of the film. I do vaguely remember that in State and Main she had some silly girl-next-door part that didn't really fit. But one viewing of The Winslow Boy should convince you of her delicious way of attacking female roles that is unlike almost any other actress. She acts by holding to the center, keeping herself on a ramrod-straight, almost completely unwavering, even emotional keel, so that when she sways the slightest bit, the audience eats it up. A slight change of facial expression at the end is all that is needed to introduce the possibility of romance, though the movie ends without a kiss. A sigh toward the second half of the movie suggests the fatigue of months lived under pressure. She can reposition her scarf and convey everything there is to say about British economy and her family's sense of appropriateness.
But most of all, she pulls off the trick of acting as a woman while avoiding the conventions of acting as a woman. She's tough, and there's never a moment where she lets down that toughness. As I said before, she's delicious.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
But more compelling is an email I recently received from my friend Lindsay, who has been working with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees on the border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This email is so stunning that I felt B&B readers should experience it in its (long) entirety.
"A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behaviour, nor restrain men from doing things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story, you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. There is no rectitude whatsoever. There is no virtue." - Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried
An hour south of Kigali, the town of Nyamata is crumbling but colorful, a wide rectangle of silt lined with sundry boutiques painted in teal, bubblegum, and tangerine. The former Catholic church is an unassuming brick structure tucked several minutes walk off the main road. I heard it had been left as a memorial to the thousands massacred there in 1994, so I stopped by, not knowing what to expect. At first glance, it looked closed, but the metal gate swung inwards when I pushed it. A middle-aged Tutsi woman who introduced herself as Celephine was slumped in a chair near the door. She spoke almost no French, but I found a local kid to ask her in Kinyarwanda if it was possible to visit the church. She led me into the sanctuary, a modest room with worn wooden benches and a concrete floor. The ceiling twinkled with constellations of light as though decorated with strands of white Christmas bulbs. Bullet holes. To the left, an open closet contained a dune of decaying rags, the clothes of the dead raked into a pile after the body parts were removed. Past wreaths of desiccated flowers wrapped in garish cellophane was the altar, draped in a cloth that must once have been white. Now it is stained mahogany with the overlapping shorelines of puddles of wicked-up blood. The cement cabinet for the Eucharist wafers is scalloped by grenades, the roof discolored by smears of brain matter. Celephine narrated in gestures and sounds, acting out how the Interahamwe slashed children to pieces with machetes as though reaping grain, imitating the pow-pum-pow of clubs against soft tissue and the thud of babies' bodies hurled against walls.
After she finished, I started towards the door, but she stopped me and motioned towards a set of stairs that led to the basement. I followed her down into the pitch blackness, and she clicked on a hand-crank flashlight. Huge tray shelves… one filled with coconuts and another with enough stacked kindling to last several harsh winters? My eyes adjusted slowly. One shelf contained skulls, hundreds, split by machetes, riddled with bullets, caved in by clubs. The littlest must have come from toddlers. The other held a pile of bones: femurs and clavicles, ulnas and radii, tibias and fibias. I stared aghast.
When we ascended the stairs, I leaned against the wall and then recoiled in horror: it was splattered in blood. Celephine grabbed my hand and led me outdoors. Around back, a pavilion was adorned with strings of faded plastic flags of the sort that might decorate a county fair. We descended one of several staircases. In multiple underground chambers, crypts overflowed with jumbled bones and shelves were packed with neat arrays of skulls: kilopixels of human heads. From below, I gazed at the craggy coral topologies of countless jaws, from above at the smooth seams of fused cranial bones. There were thousands upon thousands, lying exposed on shelves in a mildewy dark dugout at an unprotected rural church. Rough-hewn box caskets shelved floor to ceiling, probably 20 ft high, in several rooms contained the minority of corpses found intact rather than in pieces. Celephine turned to me. "Quinze," she said. I didn't understand. 15 what? To my horror, she pulled out one of the coffins and lifted the lid. I peered inside and understood. There were 15 bodies to each casket.
I left the church half-drugged by what I had seen. It was raining. I felt like shit but wished I felt even worse.
The town of Nyamata, where 38,644 were murdered – nearly 15 World Trade Centers in a single village in a matter of days - is not particularly extraordinary. There are Nyamatas all over Rwanda. To this day, some village churches contain hundreds of cadavers sprawled on the floor still clothed in what they were wearing at the time of their murders.
I had planned to find a motorcycle to leave Nyamata straight away, but I didn't: my business there seemed unfinished. I had, I realized, left the church appalled but none the wiser. The bones made the genocide undeniable in its factual basis but no more believable in terms of the human capacity to comprehend and conjure – a mental state that a theologian, writing about the Holocaust, aptly called "the twilight between knowing and not knowing"- a purgatory of informed ignorance and suspended knowledge.
I thought of Tim O'Brien: if he is right, there is no sense at all to be found in places like Nyamata. Human killing is not like the Iliad. There aren't unvarnished heroes, epic struggles, easy morals. Yet to come to Rwanda is to make a conscious choice to grapple – to struggle to fit together a couple pieces in a jigsaw puzzle with as many parts as the stars, succeed marginally or not at all, and prepare yourself for the possibility that you may come away thinking that the whole notion of understanding is a naïve delusion.
So I stayed. I cheered with a crowd of villagers on the sidelines of the girls soccer match, wandered through the market, and met a few teenage boys whom I bought orange sodas. We hung out at a restaurant named after the war crimes courts (ah, only in Rwanda…) and talked about school, unemployment, and the relative merits of the Chicago Bulls and LA Lakers. Yves, who had graduated high school and was hoping to study science at university, showed me around town while the others went home for their basketball sneakers. As a kid during the genocide, he spent several months starving in the woods near Nyamata. His mother survived by hiding with relatives, and his father was killed by the French. He told me that the community now used an old mission station as the Catholic church. We arrived at the courts and started shooting lay-ups. Although we played ball for only a half hour before I had to leave for Kigali, I felt strangely better afterwards.
In Rwanda the raw horror may be senseless, but the struggle to move on, to deal with the past in order to live the future, is not. I have to believe that there is something that can be learned from kids like Yves who lived through the genocide, acknowledge it freely, and still invite you to basketball on a Saturday afternoon; from a town that annually reburies more unearthed remains yet still turns out in force for the girls soccer match; from people who lost their entire families but will stop to greet and chat with strangers on the street. Although the church must be the starting point, any meaning in Nyamata lies in its present, not its past.
Epilogue: A dust storm enveloped us on the way back to Kigali, which seemed fitting, as though the weather mirrored the turbulence in my mind. It was almost possible to come away from Nyamata with some sense of hope, but for… something. It took me an hour to figure out the source of that irking lack of resolution, but I finally put a word to it: Darfur.
Friday, March 23, 2007
There's a lot of exciting stuff happening in the film world.
I've already commented on how scary this is for humans as well as pets. I can only hope this will speed up peoples' re-thinking of global trade and manufactured foods, especially when it comes to the food they eat everyday.
Betty, Bimbo, and Cocoa send their condolences to all the pets and people who have been affected by this act of gross irresponsibility.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
so gore got invited to testify in congress about global warming. why not dr lynn margulis? or, if gaia theory is too "controversial" (despite making an awful lot of sense), any other grayer scientist, or other liberal environmentalists?
well, gore had a documentary film, and documentaries tell the truth. and he was in cannes and hollywood, some glamour must have rubbed off on him, like stardust! venus infers that once this administration is impeached, michael moore will be called in to testify about the deterioration of civil rights and economic inequality under the bushies.
in the same vein, or rather, what got v. thinking.
we just came back from seeing an amazing film by werner herzog, "the wild blue yonder." pieced out of documentary film footage and in a spoof verité style, the film uses discovery channel truism to narrate stories of aliens among us, and humanity's trip to andromeda and back. the highlight for v. was a nasa mathematician explaining "chaotic space travel" using a computerized model that was based on the tiled labyrinth at the chartres cathedral. fabulous.
so much for the truth in film.
Perhaps this show does not send the right message to kids. Surely, not every kid watching has parents who can afford to (or plan to even if they can) buy them a Lexus when they turn sixteen or throw them a party with a live performer. I even appreciated The Grind more when it was on....please dont ask me why.
How about a show about kids who do stuff for others, like volunteer or feed the homeless...........
The more shows she watches (and she doesn't watch the violent ones, so maybe this doesn't apply in those cases) the more she feels that HBO writers and producers have bought their channel's hype to the point that they excel at recycling old formulas from previous HBO shows. Curb Your Enthusiasm and Extras both resemble The Larry Sanders Show , Entourage is shamelessly Sex and the City with male leads, and Big Love is The Sopranos go to Utah. Big Love and Entourage are two shows that Betty finds addictive and pleasurable, but that ultimately leave you feeling a little nauseous since they're so derivative and slick.
Does anybody else see it this way? Are there any great shows out there that aren't ripping off (or riffing on) Tony, Carrie, Larry, et al.?
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Menu Foods, the Ontario-based company behind the recall, manufactures pet food for more than fifty well known brands of pet food, including Winn Dixie, Hannaford, Wal-Mart, Safeway, Iams (Proctor & Gamble), Purina (Nestle) and Eukenuba. That's right, the reason the store brand and the big name brand have the same ingredients is because they are exactly the same product, made by the same people and machines. Pet owners scrambling to figure out if the brand food their little friend eats is being recalled can assume it probably is.
Menu Foods issued a statement saying that tests of its food had “failed to identify any issues with the products in question.” But it did "associate the timing of the reported deaths" of more than 20 animals (from kidney failure) with its use of a new supplier for wheat gluten, a source of protein. "Associate the timing"?! To make things even less transparent, Sarah Tuite, a spokeswoman for Menu Foods, declined to name the supplier. Thanks, Sarah!!
If Michael Pollan has taught us anything, it's to see this event for what it really is - a terrifying, if inevitable failure of the mass-produced food industry. Most of the food that human beings eat is made on exactly the same scale, with exactly the same lack of consumer oversight and literal and figurative distance from the bodies being fed. We can all take this event as yet another invitation to eat locally grown food, and to think about why government subsidies to huge farms (where the ingredients for pet food come from, too) and the corporate conglomeration mindset might be less than moral, ideal, or nurturing for our bodies and the bodies of those we love.
UPDATE: Things are looking even worse for Menu Foods: it's found that 7 out of 40 to 50 animals the company tested with the new food died weeks before the recall.
Monday, March 19, 2007
Magwitch, who is currently interning at the media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), has completed a review of the media coverage of the leadup to the war just in time for the 4th anniversary of Shock and Awe. "Iraq and the Media: A Critical Timeline" is horrifying to read - as it reminds us how the hand-wringing regarding "if I knew then what I knew now" is so utterly insincere. What we knew then, really, is that there was no convincing evidence that Saddam presented an imminent threat to the US; and that there was no convincing evidence that he had weapons of mass destruction. But what we also knew is that raising questions about the march to war meant you would be tagged as a collaborator or worse.
Distortions and even bald-faced lies, intended to scare mainstream America into suppressing any doubts they might have about a war of choice, we trotted out onto such venues as Oprah. From the timeline:
October 9, 2002Then, of course, was the slim defining of the public discourse so that the only acceptable debate was whether we attack Iraq sooner or later.
—Kenneth Pollack, the influential and heavily cited war advocate at the Brookings Institution, appears on the Oprah show to discuss the impending war. "Does he have the ability to attack us here in the United States?" Oprah Winfrey asks. "He certainly does," Pollack explains. "He has biological and chemical agents that he could employ, but he'd have to use terrorist means to do so, which he's done in the past.... Right now, his capabilities to do so are fairly limited. The problem is that we know that he is building new capabilities as fast as he can.
For those who actually were protesting, mainstream media outlets found that if accusations of treachery couldn't shut them up, perhaps lies aimed at achieving their dismissal would:
October 14, 2002
—Illustrating the limited range of debate in the corporate media, Time magazine pairs a supposedly dovish piece by Wesley Clark, headlined "Let's Wait to Attack," with a hawkish article by Kenneth Adelman headlined, "No, Let's Not Waste Any Time."
October 26, 2002And then, there is the worst lie of all - one that the White House and Pentagon could not have possibly believed, or knew at least they'd never be held to account for:
—Reporting on a massive anti-war march in Washington, DC, NPR's Nancy Marshall claims that the event is "not as large as the organizers of the protest had predicted. They had said there would be 100,000 people here. I'd say there are fewer than 10,000." The next day, the New York Times reports that "thousands" attended the protest, "fewer people attended than organizers had said they hoped for." The report is under 500 words and appears on page 8 of the paper. The next day (10/28/02), FAIR issues an action alert challenging the reporting of the New York Times and NPR. Thousands of emails later, the Times re-reported the story (10/30/02), admitting that the protest "drew 100,000 by police estimates and 200,000 by organizers', forming a two-mile wall around the White House." On the same day, NPR airs a correction.
November 14, 2002Well, now we're heading into year number 5, and the party line now is that critics of the surge haven't "given it time to work."
—Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld appears on a special national radio call-in on Infinity Radio affiliates, where he says the war will be brief: "Five days or five weeks or five months, but it certainly isn't going to last any longer than that."
How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake? When will we even admit that it was a mistake, and that we didn't have to make it, and that we need to make sure not to make a similar one again?
Are we even anywhere near the end?
Might this be the worst play ever? Funny, I have seen so many bad productions of Midsummer Night's Dream, the latest being a very bad (even worse than it sounds) Hip-hop version; this new version, though, could definitely take the cake. MSND, as it turns out, also has an infamous performance history: for a long time, it was performed more as a decadent dance extravaganza/opera than a play.
This band has so much talent and energy, is it any wonder they're led by a singer named "Win"?
Friday, March 16, 2007
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
The point is, if Superman was courageous, he would have stared that Cougar down. Looked him or her right in the eye, and said "I am a man, Cougar! I am the top of the food chain, not you and I have my japanese auto machine to prove it." Keep eating meat, my friends. If we dont do our duty, the raccons and cougars could partner up and start a food chain coup!
(Curt and Shonda Schilling and family, courtesy of 38pitches.com)
I’ve been called everything from outspoken to blowhard to much, much worse. I believe those labels spring out of the fact that I care about the things people ask me as much as any other cause. I’ve never been a yes/no kind of guy, which probably hasn’t been received well by some. I don’t know that I’ll be changing my style, but I do know that getting ripped for something I say here will be getting ripped for something I actually said–with the entire contents of my comments included.
That’s not to say I’ll be preaching from the pulpit–far from it. Being a major league baseball player does not give me keen insight into politics, education, or anything else for that matter. It does give me insight and knowledge about baseball, about being part of a team, about excelling at something not many people can. Beyond that my thoughts and beliefs are my own and for the most part pretty normal.
The truth is, I’ve been wrong as many times, if not more, than I’ve been right in my life. I guess that’s part of the human package, something that makes me every bit as prone to mistakes as anyone. Like every other male on the planet I think I’m well informed on a lot of things, which usually lasts until I run into someone else who thinks he’s well informed but has a different opinion.
After getting this article from my dear M.T., I've decided to go back to over to the cause. What, after all, is the rationale we progressives have for continuing to eat meat? I eagerly await comments--will anyone, I wonder, say something convincing enough to keep me eating the proverbial "chicken nugget"?
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
About a week ago, Magwitch--irate and cynical as usual--predicted on this very blog that Ann Coulter would be rewarded for her bigoted remarks at CPAC. At first, it looks like my prediction was all to right, as cable news networks gleefully invited Coulter onto center stage. Now, however, it looks like 9 newspapers are dropping Coulter's column. Media Matters is sort of taking credit for this, but whether or not they are responsible, it's heartening to see newspapers take some responsibility for what they publish. This is why it's always good to assume the worst; then, even a minor victory can brighten your day.
By the way, I would like to say how much I agree with fellow bloggers who responded to my recent posts on Coulter by pointing out how ridiculous it is that we give this witch so much attention. I think that that's exactly right (Jack Shafer of Slate wrote a really good piece that touch on this), which is why I think that the best way to deal with Coulter is not to rant and rave, but to encourage news outlets to marganalize her. In order to make that happen, however, we've got to rant a rave a bit first--and we have to do so in a way that does make money for the very media outlets we want to influence! Enter: the blog!
Betty read Michael Pollan's lyrical builder's memoir A Place of My Own in an architecture class during her sophmore year of college. In the book, Michael Pollan sets about building himself a little study house in the woods and must consider the environmental, historical, and philosophical ramifications of doing so.
Lars, Betty's leather-pantsed German grad student TA, immediately tried to sour Betty on Pollan with the following argument: "Who does he think he is? The Unahbombah? Why does not he build a house for everyone?," but even the temptations of class warfare couldn't undo the book's thoughtfulness or make Betty appreciate its deft, light strokes of history and philosophy less.
While in D.C. for a month, Betty read The Botany of Desire, and was impressed again by Pollan's clean, clear writing and both the politics and the beauty latent in the ordinary things - apples, potatoes - he chose to document and decode.
Now Betty is reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, Pollan's book about food, its uses, its histories, and its industries, and halfway through she dares say it is his best book yet! Though it can be tediously technical at times, the payoff comes when you learn what all that technique means for the whole world, and how quickly our generation of large-scale industrial farmers, even so-called organic farmers, are changing indelibly the depths of this planet.
All of which gets Betty to thinking: Michael Pollan is the best, most gung-ho writer out there on the intersection of nature and culture. Which is why his next book should be about animals, specifically, PETS. Why do we have them? Where do they come from? Why do we differentiate between them and the animals we eat, and how did this differentiation get started? (Remember, Betty and Bimbo saw a CHICKEN up for adoption when they last visited New York City Animal Care and Control.)What psychological effects might domesticated animals bring to humans, and humans to them? Why some pets and not others? Are "cat people" really more prissy? What really goes on in puppy mills, and how is that different than what goes on with "respectable" breeders? Whence the obsession with breed, anyway? Why are the British more attuned to the horrors animal cruelty than North and South Americans are? Isn't that kind of ironic? Who are these people who go to dog shows, and who are their dogs? Do guinea pigs have souls? What does it all MEAN?
I don't know about you all, but I wasn't impressed with the cover story New York Times magazine ran on the hip new dog breeds a couple of weeks ago. The photographs were adorable, but the piece wasn't really rigorous or reflective, not did it open any history or "What is human nature?/What is dog nature?" types of boxes. Clearly, amending this problem and enlightening us about our pets is a job for Michael Pollan.
Monday, March 12, 2007
Why don’t I mind
the green dumpsters
with trash bags pecked full of grackle-holes, and
soggy cardboard boxes
whose rotting contents have spilled
onto the pavement?
and tortilla boxes are obstacles
on my sleepy walk to school.
On wet days, a trickling stream
leads from the drain,
past the piles of bike wheels,
around the corner.
In drier times, the stream becomes
in which green goo grows
happily in the scorching sun,
and grackles bathe with relish.
Tangled power lines gather,
some drooping ominously,
providing perfect perches for
the screeching, feasting birds.
But from my penthouse,
through the screenless window,
in the fading light, the rooftops
with their air ducts and fans,
and the stadium beyond,
Striking is perhaps a better word.
A well groomed lawn’s got nothing
on my alley.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Anyhoo, check out the best Bee Gees rewrite song ever. And a pretty funny skit, too.
Friday, March 09, 2007
This is all well, taking into account Newt's age and the fact that one cannot always maintain a strict log on ALL those pretty interns...Happens to all of us.
But here he is. And MARRIED to the "other woman". So, there's no way that he just forgot about her. She's there every day, for better or worse.
After confessing, he then claims for forgiveness, that he should not be viewed as a hypocrite for pursuing Clinton's infidelity.
'The president of the United States got in trouble for committing a felony in front of a sitting federal judge (...) I drew a line in my mind that said, 'Even though I run the risk of being deeply embarrassed, and even though at a purely personal level I am not rendering judgment on another human being, as a leader of the government trying to uphold the rule of law, I have no choice except to move forward and say that you cannot accept ... perjury in your highest officials".We get it. He wants to be a "possible candidate" for the GOP. He wants to come back and work. All this bruhaha can only be his cover letter. Under 'skills' we have "impeachment obsessed".
Go on, dear hormonal Newt (good for you!), go ahead and get him. The boss is out of town (in some kind of Road Trip to the Americas, looking for his roots) so he's fresh meat. All yours.
He must be lying. Must be lying. Must be lying...Somewhere, he must be lying...
Care2.com is a progressive social networking site, a Friendster for those who want to learn more about causes that move them and connect with people they can work with or talk to about addressing local, national, and world problems. It can be lonely in this world - here are some people who want to take action. You can make of the site what you want, take and leave petitions, networks, etc. You choose your path.You can also get a free e-mail address with 100 MB of storage and a unique name such as firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Global Giving is simply one of the coolest sites ever created. You should probably just experience it for yourself. All Betty can add is that here is a sweet harmony of the local (projects) and the global (internet connectivity). Enjoy!
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Winning (anything) has always been an important dream of mine, just as it has been Jennifer Hudson's dream as well. I'm just glad that I didn't lose American Idol first--this must make my win a little more valid than hers.
2. What did you think of your fellow competitors? Do you respect and draw inspiration from their work?
I certainly respect my fellow competitors, all of them have a lot of experience in the film industry, especially in the film watching industry. I am inspired by all of them for many reasons, especially by their ability to like or dislike a film that they watch. I will say though, Obamarama, it doesn't always pay to be a film snob.
3. How did you feel when you heard you'd won??
Elated, of course. Forest Whittaker's joy upon recieving his honor was nothing compared to the joy I felt when I was honored in this thrilling and profound way.
4. Would you like to thank anyone in your acceptance speech?
I would like to thank Obamarama for his financial support throughout
this long and demanding project, couldn't have done it without his
five dollars. I would also like to thank the bloggers whose continued
support helped me stay grounded and confident during the awards show.
Oh, and thank you God for sending me all the right answers in secret
messages in the graffitti in bathroom stalls and in the pattern of the
geese flying by my window. I couldn't have done it without your help.
5. To what personal qualities would you attribute your victory?
My willingness to take risks, to explore and assert the deepest and
most personal parts of my self in my work.
6. Any advice for young Oscar pool entrants? How are you a role model for
I am a role model for all those who strive for success... I hope that my achievement inspires them to keep on, keep on trying. My advice to all would be to never give up, no matter how many times people you love tell you that you don't have a chance of winning up against all the superior competitors, like Netflix members or those pursuing a minor in film. My advice for those trying to break into the Oscar pool industry would be: don't bother seeing the movies, it will only confuse you.
7. What will your next pool victory be?
2008, unless I kick ass in another Asen pool. March Madness?
(Rhode Island State Rep. Eileen Naughton, D-Warwick, and Sen. Rhoda Perry, D-Providence, at a press conference yesterday to promote resolutions against the troop surge in Iraq.)
Yesterday, a number of state legislators in Rhode Island held a press conference to promote resolutions they have introduced in the General Assembly in opposition to the troop surge and calling for an speedier process to end the war. You can read coverage of it in the Providence Journal or Pawtucket Times.
State Rep. Betsy Dennigan of East Providence brushed off the inevitable objections that the General Assembly should not be debating the war in Iraq by pointing out that state legislators have a role in our democracy of making their voices heard on important issues. She said that legislators, and all citizens, "should never be afraid to speak up" on questions that are so important.
I submitted written testimony yesterday to the House Committee on Constituent Services in support of three different resolutions, and I thought I'd share it here:
Dear Members of the House Committee on Constituent Services,
I have come before you today to testify on behalf of Ocean State Action in favor of House Bills 5195, 5222, and 5340. Ocean State Action believes that the Rhode Island General Assembly should send a strong message to our Congressional delegation and President Bush, on behalf of the people you represent, that Rhode Islanders oppose the decision to escalate the War in Iraq. We also support the recommendation specifically in House Bill 5340 that the Congress to take steps to allow the redeployment of troops out of Iraq to begin as soon as possible.
Ocean State Action is a coalition of fourteen progressive labor unions, community organizations, and professional associations committed to fighting together for social and economic justice. We believe that the War in Iraq is deeply wrong; that it has not and will not make Rhode Islanders more secure, and may make us less secure; and that the low- and moderate-income Rhode Island families who we advocate for and fight with have made the steepest sacrifices for this war over the last four years – in terms of the lives lost, the injuries sustained, and the budget cuts enacted to fund the war. More than eighty Rhode Islanders have been wounded in this war, and eleven have given their lives.
Because we spend much of our time here at the State House advocating for a fair state budget that meets the needs of all Rhode Islanders, it is important to mention the severe economic toll that this war has taken on our state – and the toll it will take so long as it is allowed to continue. Roughly 30 percent of our state’s budget comes from federal dollars.
A report released in February by the non-partisan National Priorities Project says Rhode Islanders will have paid $1.8 billion in taxes for the war through the current fiscal year if Congress grants the President’s request for additional war funding. At a time when we are working to protect our state’s health insurance coverage for low-income people through RIte Care and Medicaid from federal cuts, the cost Rhode Islanders have paid for the war would have been enough to provide public health care for more than 600,000 Rhode Islanders over the last four years.
Just as we urge you to take into account Rhode Islanders’ priorities when you pass this year’s state budget, we believe that the US Congress must look at our nation’s priorities – and at the sacrifices that we are all making in terms of budget cuts in order to fund a war that we do not believe is right. Even though our entire federal delegation have already taken the first steps to oppose the escalation of this war, it is imperative that you make your voices heard on behalf of all of us and encourage them to go further to begin ending the war. The stakes for all of us are simply too high.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
You may be wondering if it is a coincidence that my anti-Hillary post comes on the eve of International Women's Day...it is. In fact, I see Hillary's gender as one of her only redeeming qualities in terms of her Presidential Run (as a Democrat). The thing is, Hillary isn't much of a Democrat. As much as Republicans like to give her high Liberal ratings, we must see the truth. She's more of a Liebercrat if anything. She supported the War in Iraq until only months ago; will her Presidency really bring an end to American Imperialism? Barack promises that if he is elected, he will promote open talks with Iran. I don't see this kind of diplomacy in Hillary's arsenal. Secondly, under Bill Clinton, America took a few more steps to the "right" in terms of its social programs. Clinton signed "Welfare Deform" into law in 1996, sealing the coffin on many of FDR's new deal programs. Yet, amazingly, Clinton is heralded by many as being the first "Black President"... This is astonishing.
Clinton also is responsible for great military policy of "Don't ask, don't tell." This "winner" is a socially conservative policy that is antithetical to the goals of progressive democrats in this country. Of course, Hillary isn't Bill. But what else do we have to go on with her? While Barack Obama is trying to raise standards for fuel economy, Hillary Clinton voted against the 2005 bill that would have raised these standards dramatically. So for all of you who were so enamored with Al Gore's flick, it doesn't seem the environment is too big of an issue on Hillary's plate either. And for that matter, Gore was in the White House for eight years; where was his action on global warming then? COME ON!
So I pose an important question for anyone supporting Hillary: we know Edwards is seriously about changing poverty in this country; Barack cares about the environment and improving America's foreign policy decisions; so what does Hillary care about (is she another John Kerry)? This has yet to become evident to me. I don't think we should let the last seven years of GWB's reign blind us into thinking that the Clinton Administration was some beacon of liberalism. It was not. I don't think we should let our frustration with the Republican leadership force us into nominating a moderate Democrat. What good would eight years (assuming she wins twice) of Hillary really do?
Finally, if people are really concerned about so called "electability" of candidates, they ought to be aware that Hillary does not solve this problem. A poll released last week showed that while Hillary lost head to head match ups with both Mccain and Guliani, Barack beat each of them, 46-40 and 44-40.
I welcome discussion on this matter. If anyone knows Hillary's platform and would like to share it, please do.
Until then, Obama/Edwards '08
The excellent Music for America website compiled some great 2006 election data on the Youth Vote.
Some interesting facts:
In 36 "youth dense precincts" in Colorado, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin [all are swing states, too]- which were targeted by the student PIRGS [and many other grassroots groups!] - turnout was 6 times the national average.
Young voters chose Democrats over Republicans by 22% points (60% to 38%). This is more than double every other demographic.
And a conclusion:
If you ask us to participate we will. Now it's up to the Democratic party, and all the instruments of progressive politics, to reach out to our generation and help bring as many of us into the movement as possible. This means more money put into young voter programs, more training, more internships - genuine investments in building the infrastructure to engage and train Millenial voters.
This is the future progressive majority in action.
Betty would like to add one caveat to this exciting news. Based on her own work with political youth organizations, she's learned that young and first-time voters tend to be more inspired to vote for issues rather than for (usually white, male, privileged, middle-aged, so easy to relate to!) candidates, so this good turnout in 2006 may not translate into anything candidate-related in 2008. UNLESS, and this is a big unless, the candidates start getting specific (we mean beyond "hope" and "starting a conversation" here - although the "two Americas" idea isn't half bad) and start pushing hardcore issues that matter to everyone - like health care, education, the air we breathe and the quality of our environment(s), economic justice and civil rights. This may or may not begin to happen as the campaigns roll on. We ARE 18 months early for election season, SENATORS!! Get back to work.
Still, Betty knows the youth vote is critical - fostering political engagement among first-time voters goes far - especially in local races. Just look at the minimum wage victory in Ohio this fall.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
his acerbic aphorisms and essays channelled the frustration of 1968 into a powerful critique of consumer culture and media society. for baudrillard, there is no reality, but hyperreality: the media have woven a net of simulacra, images of images of images. seduction by the simulacra implies in turn that the "masses" are not oppressed, but complicit in their insistence on believing the "truth" of what is shown. and pretensions on behalf of the left to any sort of liberation or enlightenment simply play into the game of power.
a nihilist for some, a moralist for others, most probably both alternately or at the same time-- in a world of blandness, his sharp wit and scathing style will certainly be missed.
"Intellectual laziness has become the truly olympic discipline of our times."
jean baudrillard (1929-2007)
If you're feeling particularly suicidal today, watch this tv clip from foxnews, in which two pundits try to see who can come up with more outlandish excuses for Ann Coulter's hate-mongering. According to Rich Lowry, it was a joke about "political correctness"--that is Ann, champion of the 1st amendment, was pointing out that we should all be able to say mean slurs whenever we want--and not a joke at Edwards (and the gay community's) expense. Here is my favorite part:
Mattera: In fact, I would like to also point out she was basically calling John Edwards a wuss, that he was a girlie-man, and that if he were elected president he would probably embolden Al Qaeda to attack us. He's not a real man. And many at CPAC held that sentiment.
Monday, March 05, 2007
Mind you, Betty is impressed by Google. She finds Gmail to be a very intuitive email service, obviously designed by people who care about making communication and organization easy (and colorful!) for the non-technical. She enjoys Google's sense of humor (did anybody else catch their V-day prank, "Google Dating"?) and creativity, reflected in their holiday/big news graphics. This blog is sponsored by Google, and could not be easier to use or to maintain. YouTube is owned by Google. Netflix will one day be owned by Google- you heard it here first! Google Maps sometimes helps Betty find things, and their news service is excellent, especially for finding obscure pieces from small town rags. She also has a dear friend who works for Google on the laudable book project. And how can she not love stories about the company's famously laid-back offices in Palo Alto?
Maybe it's the idea of all the smartest people in America having all the money and all the books that spooks Betty.
Or maybe the problem is a failure of both intellect and imagination on Betty's part. Google's services are free and they are great, and always adjusting and improving. The internet, represented by Google's wide array of navigating services to most of us, is obviously a great equalizer in an unequal world. But on the other hand, Betty has always thought (and sometimes been told) that the key to making a better world is to focus locally, to stay off the global-one-world train to monoculture and worse.
Also, while Betty knows very little about Google's corporate politics, she does know they have sooooo much money, and that they're cool with censoring some information flow in China.
Is Betty just being paranoid, or is Google's totalizing grip on our cyber lives truly weird?
Betty and Bimbo heard from a Hollywood insider this weekend that one James McAvoy is being aggressively groomed by studio execs and PR bigwigs in the hopes that this Scottish shorty will be the NEXT BIG THING - kinda like DiCaprio and Ewan McGregor were in the mid-1990s. We saw McAvoy (whom you might have caught in The Last King of Scotland) recently in Starter for Ten and in the preview for Penelope and he certainly has charisma oozing from all pores, not to mention cuteness. We hear he is also starring in the film adaptation of Ian McEwan's Atonement, which we will certainly be checking out. What do you think? Can the kilted kid go all the way?
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Ben Schott has an amusing essay in today's NYT Book Review about book abuse, which essentially comes to the conclusion that "those who abuse their own books through manhandling or marginalia are often those who love books best". That is to say, the abuse of a book, when done out of love, is quite different from the destruction of books by the Nazis or, today, anti-Harry Potter evangelicals, which is done from the urge to censor.
What is also lovely about a book, in Schott's estimation, is that you can abuse it and that it will live on. He contrasts a book in this sense with a web site:
Indeed, the ability of books to survive abuse is one of the reasons they are such remarkable objects, elevated far beyond, say, Web sites. One cannot borrow a Web site from a friend and not return it for years. One cannot, yet, fold a Web site into one’s back pocket, nor drop a Web site into the bath. One cannot write comments, corrections or shopping lists on Web sites only to rediscover them (indecipherable) years later. One cannot besmear a Web site with suntan-lotioned fingers, nor lodge sand between its pages. One cannot secure a wobbly table with a slim Web site, nor use one to crush an unsuspecting mosquito. And, one cannot hurl a Web site against a wall in outrage, horror or ennui. Many chefs I know could relive their culinary triumphs by licking the food-splattered pages of their favorite cookbooks. Try doing that with a flat-screen monitor.
This made me start to feel bad about the fact that lovers of Betty & Bimbo have little in the way of physical abuse to show their affection. So, please, when you're reading this blog, spill ketchup on your screen! Drop your laptop! And perhaps even sneeze on the keyboard and neglect to wipe it off - at least for a moment.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Friday, March 02, 2007
Thursday, March 01, 2007
Now, let's imagine that ALL "buses" (really old trucks with new chassis) are privately owned by sub-spices with last names ending in 'nakis' with drivers that work no less than 12 hours a day.
Take all that and add -at least- 1 hour to get to your job and another hour to get back home.
Add enormous SUVs (very much like Texas) descending from Uptown, clogging up the streets, and an elderly former president and Voila, a PLAN is born.
Press fast-forward and land in reality. Santiago's reality to be more precise.
The Plan is implemented. Suddenly everybody is a critic and by default, experts in MassTrans. And everybody is complaining. Everywhere. Non-stop. The old trucks are now real buses and some kind of regulation is in place.
The old owners did like the fact that they could pretty much do whatever they wanted without ever paying the price of pollution so they promptly start to obstruct the Plan. They hire fewer drivers, letting out fewer buses. Or, they choose not to pay them.
But the new female prez is on to them. She knows what they are up to. And she will not take it. No matter how bad the Plan was made, she takes full responsibility and threatens to 'take over' those bus lines that are not 'fully operated'.
So there we have it, a new way of 'nationalizing' something that should have been in State hands from the very beginning. MassTrans...And with this, she avoids a bad legacy foretold.
As a prez, she might be unorthodox, but at least she's a MD. So, unlike the elderly former prez, she can actually help -on the spot- an 8 year old when he faints. Not for the cameras. Not for the critics. Just because she can. As she did in the 80s when treating abused children from Pinochet's dictatorship.
When the boy come to, the first thing he said to her was: "If we have to be 8 hours in school, why do we have homework?". She promised to look into it. Maybe, just maybe, it's time to look beyond the vagina/penis attributes of elected (and possibly new candidates) presidents and see if they can break the spell of a bad legacy foretold...In Santiago and in Washington DC.
So, the Free World has just entered day 238 in the ongoing saga of the Libby "Cry Baby" trial. And we have nothing more than an aesthetically accurate judge that with eagle-sharp eyes mumbled in a Cassandra-like fashion: Go home, dear 11 headed jury.
At 2 PM!
We know that this whole 'exceptional American judicial system' rests on the hard earning citizen's backs, no pay mind you, but what's going on?!
He decided to let them free "to attend personal matters" because, from the bench, he could obviously see that casual Friday starts EARLY in DC. All 6 of 11 jurors wore jeans...Which is -in itself- a perjury and blatant lie. Everybody knows that maybe 3 or 4 people wear jeans in this chinos loving town.
And because of that, and lack of glamour, NO VERDICT this week. Or ever...
Alert the press! And Anna Nicole Smith's daughter's dad...
Speaking of the little devil, is he still pissing off Asia? It's easy to find him. Follow the suicide bombers.
Bimbo attended a conference last weekend on the new green energy economy at which one panelist declared "There will be a new energy economy. The important question is who will own it." Betty would add to this wise statement that another important question is that carbon reduction is done right, and really means something rather than just raising awareness, which is never an end in itself.
Take the "conflicted couples" and their carbon offsets touted in the NYT articles I've linked to above. These offsets are actually bullshit. In fact, Betty thinks "offsetting" your "carbon footprint" (incidentally, could there be a more beautiful phrase than "carbon footprint"?) is akin to a Catholic committing a sin, but excusing herself by telling herself she will offset the sin later by confessing and repenting. Why not just donate to rainforest, tree-planting, or alternative energy organizations and NOT take that fuel-guzzling plane trip? Why not just NOT SIN?
Keep your eyes peeled in the coming months for signs of hip green culture all around you. Betty saw an ad for EXXON (of all companies!) while waiting for a subway yesterday, talking all about offsets and saving our planet. Oh my geez! See Betty's post on "Marketing Niceness" for more of what she makes of this cynical phenomenon.
And don't even get her started on "clean coal" companies, that do little for the earth and aggressively combat the development of alternative energy sources like wind and solar power in the parts of the country (Appalachia, mainly) where King Coal has long dominated, and killed. As green goes mainstream, real advances will happen, but so will real bullshit, and we owe it the Earth to learn to detect the difference. Indeed, to start really living green we must all learn more, demand more, and sacrifice more (e.g. paying more for cleaner products and changing our habits) than some people would have us know.