Friday, August 31, 2007

More of What I'm Reading

  • A couple days ago I was delighted to learn that a blog I read has become the number one google hit for "super smoking hottie." Katebits has funniest Sabres blogger all wrapped up and her quest to select a favorite Sabre has been one of the most delightful parts of the hockey offseason. Incidentally, hits 2-5: Deadspin,, and two porn sites.

  • Vogue apparently decided that they should produce a fall magazine that is actually the size of the bible. On the front cover they announce "Our Biggest Issue Ever," which is code for "Our Most Profitable Issue Ever," because it's all ads. Reading Vogue brings to mind several questions. Some of which are:
    • Isn't it a little ridiculous to still be on the table of contents at page 186?
    • Should the constriction of a huge metal belt which serves no belt-like purpose arouse my inner feminist? And what's with the locks? Who exactly gets to unlock this contraption? And isn't the whole look fairly intriguing anyway?
    • And finally, who thought this rather phallic hairstyle might look anything other than ridiculous.

  • Apparently some Russian lady has written a 600 page attack on Anna Akhmatova, the gist of which is that she wasn't a very good person. I wasn't aware of the fact that great artists are generally also lovely people. Something that the article linked above points out, stating, "there are several hundred lines of Akhmatova's poetry that make the question of whether she was a model human being utterly irrelevant." If being a nice person was required to be considered a great writer, we'd be rather short on great writers, I imagine.
  • I've been slowly catching up on back issues of The New Yorker. Too far behind to link much, but they've got a profile of Giuliani that encapsulates exactly why he's so awful. That being the fact that he's a nasty, rotten person. It's long, but worth reading. That's "America's Mayor" ladies and gentlemen.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I love dysfunctional alcoholics! Really.

Went with my grandmother last night to see 33 to Nothing, which is at a theater near my apartment called the Wild Project, which is an "eco-conscious" theater. Taking place in real time, the play shows us the rehearsal of a band falling apart.

I certainly wasn't expecting the play to be what it was. Thank you for that, TONY. When you describe a play as "adorable," I somehow don't expect it to center on a narcissistic alcoholic. At no point during this did I think, oh, how cute! Adorable is puppies, and children who are seen but not heard, not drunkards.

Anyway, I thought the music was a bit two Coldplay for my tastes, the acting was uneven, and the play was a bit too centered on the lead singer/alcoholic/least functional member of the band, leading to the other characters not being well fleshed out. That said, while the conflict between the band members is hardly original it is believable, and the dialogue is clever and entertaining.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Drowsy Chaperone

A year and a bit ago, my roommate and I saw the following video and decided that we should really go to see The Drowsy Chaperone (and again, blogger's spellcheck irritates me by telling me I'm spelling something wrong when I most certainly am not) because it looked like a lot of fun.

As it turns out, it was more "some fun" than "a lot of fun." I imagine it would have been more enjoyable with Sutton Foster (Thoroughly Modern Millie was certainly more fun with her than with her replacement) but I still don't think I would have been crazy about the musical. And if I wasn't so tired I'd write more, or promise to write more later, but honestly I don't think it's going to happen.

Monday, August 27, 2007


I'm not generally against romances featuring a quirky male lead, provided that the lead doesn't seem too self-consciously quirky. But when said quirky lead seems not so much quirky as oh-my-lord-get-this-man-in-therapy-now crazy then it's not so cute. I'm not saying that such characters shouldn't exist in film. I'm saying that they shouldn't exist in movies that conclude in the manner of happily-ever-after romances. I'm sorry, but if I'm going to believe that the smart, nice heroine should be with this man, I'm going to need a lot more convincing than the fact that he loves her and doesn't lie to her, unlike her sleazy on-again-off-again ex. The fact that he's willing to try and get over his many, many issues doesn't make up for the fact that he's, y'know, crazy.

I feel like this movie has plenty of promise. Mandy Moore is likable and a better actress than I would have thought. Billy Crudup is always good, if not particularly likable. The dialogue (Blogger wants me to spell this "dialog." I refuse, Blogger!) is witty and interesting. Even the love story could work if done differently. The movie actually has a lot going for it. Which is why it's frustrating that it fails to deliver on that promise.

In her New York Times review, Jeannette Catsoulis writes:
That weird exhalation you hear at the multiplex these days is the sound of female characters settling for less than they deserve. Following on the wildly successful antifeminist heels of Knocked Up, Hollywood is falling over itself to introduce beautiful, smart young women to useless, possibly brain-damaged young men.
I felt like we, as viewers, are supposed to accept that Crudup's character has somehow earned the love of the heroine, has somehow become worthy of it. When the fact is, he's still a nut, and you're just left with a bitter taste in your mouth. Perhaps the point should be that he's not good enough for her, and he's not remotely normal, but she loves him anyway and that's a good thing. But if that's the case, then it would be nice if the movie acknowledged that and showed us why we should be happy about it instead of going the typical romance way. Instead, the only way to see him as a good guy is in comparison to her cad-ish ex and the other unpleasant people who populate a film in which only the heroine is a genuinely pleasant character.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Coney Island and the New York Aquarium

Kir and Wendy had decided they were, at some point this summer, going to the New York Aquarium on Coney Island. So Saturday morning Wendy and I headed out to Coney Island to spend some time at the beach before Kir met us in the afternoon for a bit more beach and the aquarium.

The day started out rather gray, as you can see in these first couple pictures, but turned quite beautiful as it went on.

I haven't really been following what's happening with Coney Island, and I certainly don't understand the intricacies of the situation but I'm glad that the Wonder Wheel and Cyclone are protected at least. Not having grown up in New York City, I don't have many childhood memories of Coney Island, but I did go there once with my grandparents and the image that sticks out is of the overgrown Thunderbolt roller coaster, which was torn down a couple years later. Anyway, I'm going to try to get there again on Labor Day weekend (along with the rest of New York, I imagine).

Anyway, it was a fun, beachy day, though of course my pale self is now burned despite my 45 SPF sunscreen.

Sparkly lines of mica in the sand, as readjusted by the waves.

Wendy and I watched a seagull catch and eat a crab. Another seagull came and grabbed a leg that had come off. I'm always glad to see city animals eating what they're meant to be eating instead of human garbage.

This was as close as they would let me get--not so tame, happily.

We went to the aquarium at about 3:30 which was good fun. I've been to aquariums before, of course, but never the one in New York City. It's quite nice. Pictures below, although most of them didn't come out quite clear. Never fun taking photos through glass, although I'm sure many people are better at it than I am.

Black-Footed Penguins

Sea Otter--very large (they can weigh up to 100 lbs) he was busily grooming and spinning rapidly around in the water. Pretty adorable.

Red-Bellied Piranhas

Bolivian Ram--these little guys share a tank with the Piranhas and lots of Tetras

Anemones--I'm quite happy with the way this picture came out.

Stingray in the shark exhibit. There were also sea turtles but I couldn't get a good picture.


Seahorses with tails entwined.

Moon Jellyfish

More Jellyfish (not sure what species)

Red Striped Sea Nettle--This is another picture I'm happy with.


As we were leaving, the walrus, who had previously been swimming around, was up at the glass, talking to people and showing off a bit. A fun end to the day.

Friday, August 24, 2007

What I'm Reading...

Well, I've mostly been reading old copies of the New Yorker because I got very behind and am trying to catch up. But in between that I've been reading various other things as well.

This week's TONY was a positive font of absurdity. First you've got the people writing into the sex columnist: a soon-to-be college student anxious about getting his masturbation time in and a guy with gnarly feet and a foot-fetishist for a boyfriend. Now maybe it's just me, and maybe it's a girl thing, but I feel like the solution to these problems is fairly obvious. Problem a) Figure out when your roommate isn't around. Or you know, discuss the fact that everyone needs a little personal space. Problem b) Get a damn pedicure. Seriously, pedicures are awesome anyway.

Then we had the summary of certain white supremacy groups. In case anyone needed a reminder of how weird people are. We've got Women for Aryan Unity which, "gathers donations for white babies in need; sends homemade Christmas cards to jailed skinheads; and distributes hate literature dotted with cupcake recipes [italics mine]," and, "claims to hate no one, but rather exhibit concern over the welfare of the 'beloved white race.'" As if they weren't enough, we also have The Pioneer Fund. TONY writes, "Current president J. Philippe Rushton has provoked widespread debate with his theory that smaller penis size is related to increased intelligence." I'm thinking Mr. Rushton is not so well endowed.

And then we've got Frank, a 32-year-old ice cream man from Long Island who says, "A black president? I'm not being racist about it, but we need a white guy. Why? Because, yo, they seem to know how to get the job done. I mean, look at Newark--Iraq got more sense than Newark."

You've just got to laugh, right?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Vacation (Pt. 5)

And so we come to the end.

After finishing our 15+ mile hike on Thursday we drove the rest of the Going-to-the-Sun road, stopping for the very short walk at Trail of the Cedars which is old growth. Erin and I were whiny about it because we wanted dinner, but wound up enjoying all 200 or so yards of the trail. I, brilliant person that I am, had never realized that Cedar was an evergreen. So now I know what they look like. The other sort of tree that the have a lot of is Black Cottonwood. I actually like them much better than the Cedars...interesting bark.

There was one Cottonwood that had a giant hole in the side and a hollow trunk large enough for my sister and I to crawl into together. The amazing thing about that one was that it was still alive.

We were driving around Lake McDonald as the sun set. It was setting into the 'v' of a mountain. And also, as a glowing orange ball, it's light streaking out over the small waves, into the lake, wavering reflective mountains stretching out behind it. I think that little stabbing knife of beauty is always sharpest when it's unexpected.

Talking about those surprising moments, two others come to mind. The first was when we were in Big Bend. The weather was miserably hot and we decided to get up early in the morning to begin our hike just as the sun rose. But, being from Northern climes, we forgot to factor in the fact that the sun would rise later so far south. So when we got up at 5 in the morning, it was still pitch black. Crawling out of the tent, we could see the stars unfurling and there seemed to be a depth and volume to the sky that we hadn't seen before, while the Chisos mountains were visible only in their unrelieved blackness.

The second was the morning after we drove into California. We'd left Las Vegas in early evening because driving through the desert in the middle of the day didn't seem like a fun proposition (and we'd done quite a bit of the driving through the desert thing by then) and when we got to the Sierra Nevadas we turned and drove north along their eastern edge. We stopped around midnight and pitched our tent using our headlights for light. The next day we found ourselves on the shore of a lake with the snow-capped peaks rising sharply behind us.

Of all the things we did on the trip, those two still, lovely mornings are among those that I remember best. This evening was very much like that.

Friday we spent wandering around, basically doing nothing. We rented a canoe and went boating on Lake McDonald. It was so windy once you left the shore that it made for some tough paddling.

And we were sure to go to the lake as the sun was setting. Nothing spectacular, but the clouds were certainly pretty all lit from below.

We were flying home Saturday, so all we really had to do was pack up the tent and drive to the airport in Kalispell. My father, morning person that he is, woke up early Saturday morning to photograph the morning mist coming off the lake (that's just some random guy in the picture).

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Vacation (Pt. 4)

Never fear, we're approaching the end of the I-took-a-vacation-weeks-ago posts. Although I'm going on the assumption that they're not actually a chore given that it's mostly just pictures anyway. Thursday was the biggest of our hikes and one we hadn't planned ahead of time but had been told about and decided sounded more fun then what we actually had planned.

So Thursday morning we drove down the Going-to-the-Sun road to Logan Pass. V. pretty drive.

From Logan Pass we took the Highline trail 7.6 miles to the Granite Park Chalet. Built at the time of the Many Glacier Hotel, tourists used to horseback ride up to the little chalet to spend the night. You can still stay there, provided you make reservations about a year in advance, but now you generally hike in.

(View from along the trail.)

(Approaching the Granite Park Chalet--that's my father in the foreground, and my sister just turning the corner.)

When we got to the Chalet, I found a nice place to sit while my father and sister did a tough couple miles up to a lookout. (You may have gotten the impression that I'm the out-of-shape one of the three of us. This impression would be correct.) So while they hiked I settled down at a picnic table to read The Master and Margarita (having finished the Millay biography) and people/scenery watch.

(The view from my picnic table)

I did meet some rather interesting people. An entire group of older gentlemen shared the table with me at one point, all introducing themselves to me by name. Apparently it was an annual trip for them. They were loud and friendly and several of them had pins that said, "Ask me about male bondage bonding."

Around 3:30 Erin and my father got back from their section of the hike--apparently it had great views but was rather difficult--and we headed back the way we'd come. On the hike to the Chalet it had been pretty crowded. On the way back we barely saw anyone. And when the trail is emptier apparently the animals come out to use it (path of least resistance I suppose).

The first animal we saw walking along was a stag. Unfortunately he stepped off the trail to graze just as we got close enough for photographs.

Erin also saw a marmoset (such adorable, fat little things) on the trail, although by the time my father and I caught up to her it had wedged itself between some rocks and all we could see was a bit of wiggling fur.

(Erin's photo of him/her on his/her way into hiding.)

Our closest encounter though, was of a Mountain goat and her kid. They had been walking on the trail ahead of us, and then the kid walked to the side and she lay down in the middle of the trail. This presented a bit of a conundrum because, although you can't see it in this picture, the mountain rises straight up to the left of the trail. So we essentially had to walk right past her on the trail. We felt bad about it both because she seemed nervous (you can't tell in the picture but she was breathing quite heavily) and because she had quite the set of horns and you never know.

As we walked past her though, giving her as much space as possible, she got up to stand between us and her baby, who didn't seem to care about us much at all.

Our final encounter was with a Bighorn sheep (my favorite of the animals we saw in Glacier--very handsome animals) who sauntered along the trail ahead of us for some time. He then stopped, peed on the trail, and trotted off.

15.2 miles, 5 new blisters, and one bruised foot later, we were done with all our hiking for the trip.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Cat Story

I've left out the part where he throws up on my rug at 2:30 in the morning. And roses aren't even poisonous.

Vacation (Pt. 3)

So...the day after the Grinnell Glacier hike we took a day off and hung around the Many Glacier Lodge, reading and spending a bit of time Grizzly watching.

(A cropped and rather blurry picture of bear and cub--they were far away)

(and another...apparently the cub was born this year but is rather a large one)

We had been planning to rent a boat and go out on Swiftcurrent Lake but as it turned out, it was too windy and cold to take a boat out. So we drove a ways down the Going-to-the-Sun Road, past St. Mary Lake.

We parked at Sunrift Gorge (nice name, that) and while Erin and my father hiked up to St. Mary Falls I sat around nursing my blisters, taking pictures, and reading my Millay biography.

(Lots of Aspen around the gorge--the bark is green because it has chlorophyll in it. Erin tells me that the younger trees tend to be greener.)

And Wednesday we decided to go up to Waterton in Alberta because the smoke was bothering my dad and he was convinced (mostly incorrectly) that it would be clearer there than in Many Glacier. They gave us a hard time crossing the border with only drivers licenses. I don't know if it's a western thing or if they're tightening up security in preparation for the upcoming--and totally stupid, for the record--passport requirement, because I've never been asked for more than my license when traveling from Buffalo to Canada. Had become quite accustomed to just crossing the border at the spur of the moment so it's a shame to lose that.

(Blakiston Valley)

We did a short walk to Blakiston Falls and saw Red Rock Canyon.

Then we drove over to Cameron Lake. On the way we saw some bears (Black bears this time), a mother and her two cubs checking out a picnic area. Now we've seen Black bears with cubs before, wandering through campsites, playing in latrines, and climbing trees in an attempts to get at bear bags, while backpacking in the Adirondacks. But they're always fun to see.
(the other cub is behind the picnic table, I think)

The Lake Cameron walk would have been boring (neither the lake nor the views around it were anything special) but it was saved by some lovely wildflowers and a Mule deer who was thoroughly unconcerned about people.

(Grass of Parnassus--wonderfully evocative name)


And then it was back to Many Glacier. Crossing back over the border the US Customs agent was sure to point out that 1-in-6 New York licenses belongs to an illegal alien.