Monthly Archives: January 2011

Brief review: The Kids are All Right

I just rented The Kids are All Right, with Annette Bening, Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo. Heard of it? It’s about a lesbian couple (Bening and Moore), their two kids, and the sperm donor (Ruffalo) who made said kids possible.

It’s great, but in an emotionally-raw kind of way. There were definitely some wince-inducing moments, but as I cringed at the screen I couldn’t help but think “that’s how a real person would react.”

If you’re looking for something fluffily entertaining, with a predictable, satisfying and neat plot / ending – this ain’t it. But if you’re want to watch something and get that “wow… just… wow” feeling by the end, this might be a good pick.

4/5 stars

p.s. Annette Bening won a Golden Globe for her performance. Well-deserved, I think, but the category was “Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical.” Definitely would not classify this as a comedy (though there were some very laugh-out-loud moments)… maybe a dramedy, perhaps.

sotd 1.19.11

Important: Anyone who likes music and likes words and likes reading words about music should read Nick Hornby’s Songbook. I should hope that it would inspire you to think hard about songs you love and why you love them. And now back to regularly scheduled programming.

I first heard this song at a point in time I initially dubbed as “much too late,” meaning: Where was this song for the first 20-plus years of my life? I could have been listening to it and chewing it up and digesting it this entire time and I’m only now experiencing it? But these thoughts were fleeting, and pushed aside in favor of just taking the song in again. And again.

I like the Beatles. I’ve met few (if any?) folks who claim to “hate” them, and few folks who claim to “love” them and then give me concrete evidence to support this declaration. My brother falls into the latter category; his fascination and fondness comes from some sort of organic place where music and culture and history converge into some sort of divine emotive stew.

It was he who introduced me to this song, my favorite of their catalog.

Thanks, brother.

“Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” / the Beatles (1965)

sotd 1.18.11

TRUE STORY ALERT: My brother’s friend lives in an apartment in rural-ish Minnesota. The friend’s landlord? Oh, this guy:

“Rubber Ball” / Bobby Vee (1960)

auto-grat gone wild.

For years, servers and other service-industry personnel have generously benefitted from my fundamental lack of arithmetic skills.

Until very recently, I rarely-if-ever did actual math when calculating how much I should leave as a tip – at restaurants, at the salon,* at the bar… Instead, I just arbitrarily picked a number in my head that seemed “right” and, usually fearing I was undercutting the recipient, added a dollar or so.

But it was only when I began working in a “real” restaurant (and started seeing firsthand the importance of leaving a fair tip!) that I took the time to think about the amount I was leaving behind. I pulled out some old receipts and a calculator to see how I’d been doing, and was surprised at what I discovered.

First off, the pizza delivery folks must freaking love to come to my house. I mean: seriously. Holy hell. Because we’re generally not ordering fourteen pizzas and ninety orders of breadsticks, our total is usually pretty small: one pizza, and if we’re feeling especially wild, add on some breadsticks. Total: under 15 bucks, and generally less because I am a coupon addict / hoarder. Let’s just say that Delivery Person walks away happy. I about swallowed my tongue when I actually calculated out how much I tipped the last guy.

Second, I’ve not come across a receipt (where I used my “mental dartboard” method of calculating gratuity) that didn’t have a fair (at least 15%) tip. I guess this means that I’m doing something right, but still: the possibility for error exists, and I’d feel pretty terrible if it turns out I tipped a server 8% on accident. I give my parents endless grief about relying on the “tip calculator” function on their cell phones when it comes to settling a bill. I mean, they went for decades and decades without doing it; I don’t know why they think their mental faculties have spontaneously deteriorated to the point where they’re mathematically helpless without their cells. Decades and decades, I might add, of fair-to-generous tipping.

…okay, okay. I’ve since become a Tip Calculator Convert, tacky as it seems (to me, at least). I still refuse to leave change on a credit card tip (i.e. leaving $4.87 instead of $5.00). Don’t ask me why. The numbers just aren’t pleasing to me, I guess.

It all comes down to this: I just don’t have a brain for numbers. Somewhere along the way, those neurons just didn’t get connected up there and when it comes to rationalizing these sorts of things, I get tripped up every single time. I can only think of quantities of things in the abstract – ask me to estimate how many people are in a crowd, or how much something weighs, or how big a room is, and I am baffled. Because I never developed the mechanism to properly estimate these sorts of things, I’ve come up with other (read: arbitrary) methods of guesstimation. To articulate the mental process I go through is basically impossible, and I couldn’t really explain it without using phrases like “what feels right” anyway.

I’ll close with this, one of my favorite clips from Third Rock From The Sun:

* “at the salon” ! Ha! What I meant to say was “At the place in the Wal-Mart next to the payday loans kiosk.”

sotd 1.17.11

The only song I know that includes the word “peacoat” (“pea coat”?).

“American Boy” / Estelle ft. Kanye West (2008)

Really? again.

For less than 50 dollars, you too can own this fashionable “Lariat Necklace” from Ann Taylor Loft.

Now if only I could fashion something similar at home… Oh wait, I can.

Because it’s rope. Tied in a fucking knot.

films du cinema

Movies that are currently playing in theatres that I’d probably actually pay money to see:

Tron: Legacy
Yogi Bear 3D

wait. I think I copy-and-pasted the wrong list here. Ahem..

Blue Valentine
Rabbit Hole
Black Swan
The Fighter
How Do You Know

Eventually* I’ll see them all. Maybe I’ll even regale y’all with a review or two.

*Meaning, within the next 15 to 25 years.

assorted zodiac-al thoughts.

I Netflix’d “Zodiac” a few years ago and I fell asleep watching it. I think it was good? I think I liked what I saw? I think it got good reviews?

Know what else I think? This zodiac-sign-changing biznass is an entertaining little blip on my brain’s radar.

Holy shit! This is the exact shirt I had! Thanks, Uncle Google! You never let me down!

I “am” “no longer” a “taurus.” Basically, this means… Eh. I don’t know what it means. I’ve only been interested enough to consult a new astrological chart to see how things have changed. I’ve not actually, you know, read why the chart has shifted. Perhaps the world is ending. Perhaps I should care more. Or not.

When I about – oh, eight or nine? – I owned a Garfield nightshirt – heathered pink, with the giant sleeping cartoon cat on the front. “A Taurus works hard…and sleeps harder,” it said. I thought it was funny (hilarious, even!).

I’ve only picked up bits-and-pieces of what my “sign” means. Tauruses are stubborn, I know. And some other things, I think, but I sort of latched onto the stubborn part, because I reeeeally am. Stubborn, that is. Not latched on. But am I stubborn because someone told me I’m a Taurus? Or is it just how things ended up? I’d consult my genetic history, but both of my parents are also Tauruses. And, because / in spite of it, stubborn as hell.

A few weeks ago, a Wal-Mark clerk checking my ID commented that I was a “Taurus, too.” I didn’t really know what to say to him, because about four seconds previously I realized that I’d unloaded an entire cart of groceries when his lane was, in fact, closed. When I realized what I’d done, I apologized with heartfeltness and desperate sincerity: “Uh, oops. Uh, sorry.” He’d been nice enough to stay open for me, but asked that I tell anyone who came behind me that his lane was closed. Except I turned my head, and when I looked back, another schmuck was piling a cartload’s worth of things on the belt behind me. Uh, oops. Uh, sorry. Then he made the Taurus comment, and I didn’t know how to respond. So I smiled and said something eloquent like, “Uh, cool.”

Aries Spears: Nice hat, dude.

But now I’m an Aries. I don’t know anything about this, other than Ares-no-i is a mythological god of war and that Aries-with-an-i Spears was part of the cast of MadTv for awhile. I don’t know. He was funny. Maybe being an Aries isn’t bad, after all.

Also, I hear there’s some “new” sign, and that some people now have two signs. Not that astrology previously made complete sense to me or anything, but I don’t get how this works. I also don’t know what this new sign is. It’s something like an ouagadougoupitchicus, I think. Maybe I want to be an ouagadougoupithicus. Not sure. Jury’s still out on that one. Stay tuned, I guess.

Or not. Entirely your call.

sotd 1.14.11

When I was in elementary school, I had a friend named Megan who owned a dog named… crap. I can’t remember. Anyway, Dog was a tiny fluffy thing that would wet itself from excitement whenever someone would come to the door. I think maybe if I were to ever see Radiohead perform live, I might pee down my leg, a la Dog.

“Creep” / Radiohead (1993)


sotd 1.12.11

Admittedly, I only first heard this song on the soundtrack of the film Garden State – which, for the record, is probably in my top ten favorites. Also, skip the vid.

“The Only Living Boy in New York” / Simon & Garfunkel (1970)