Category Archives: Media

Simon’s Cat

I don’t recall how I stumbled upon this, but I love this little series of animated “films” called Simon’s Cat. Click on “films.” They’re great for cat people — accurate and funny — and he really nails cat mannerisms.
"TV Dinner"

My Brush with Fame, or Honey, You Never Had a Chance

I went to the post office today to mail some post cards and to buy some low denomination stamps, as we still have staps left over from out wedding three years ago. Rates have increased at least twice since then. There was only one person working at the counter, so I waited in line a long time, so long that a guy behind me and I joked about ringing chairs in the future. But the fun began when I left.

As I walked into the post office, someone was taking photos of the building. I walked in front of the camera before I noticed and hoped that they did not get me in a shot. When I came out, a young man said he was from the Hartford Courant and asked if he could interview me, because the state recently announced they might close this branch. I expressed sadness at the prospect of the branch closing, and the reporter replied that he was speaking the the right person.

I agreed to be interviewed, thinking this might be my opportunity to be on the cover of the Courant. Then he asked me, “So, do you come here often?”

I couldn’t let that go, even though I knew exactly what he meant, and I replied, “Whaddya hitting on me?” It took him a moment or two to register why I’d said that, and then he could not stop laughing.

Whe he finally composed himself, he asled me how many times a week I came there. “A week?” I queried, “a week?”

“Yeah, for business, personal needs…”

Here I was after just mailing postcards to my Creative Writing class with summer writing prompts and buying small denomination stamps because we still have stamps from three years ago. I said, “I come here once every three months or so.” I noticed he was not writing anything down on his notepad.

He quickly ended the interview with, “I’m sorry to have wasted your time.” Thus my moment in the spotlight quickly passed over me.

TV Campaign Ad History

Check out this site, Living Room Candidate, which has presidential campaign commercials since 1952. It’s pretty interesting to watch the progression, lack of progression, and even regression. When you watch several years in a row, you get a clearer sense of advertising machinations.

What’s the Difference?

I just wanted to write a quick post about the odd discrepancy I see — and I’m not sure why there is a discrepancy at all between these two cases. As I was looking at various web articles last night, I came across this AP story about Pfc Jesse Spielman getting 110 years in prison with an opportunity for parole after 10 years for being involved in a rape and murder case. Three other soldiers were also given sentences — sentences that ranged from 5 to 100 years. The group of soldiers entered a house, took turns raping a 14 year old girl, and murdered the girl, her parents, and her sister.

Does this sound familiar at all? This is almost the same crime against the Petit family. I am mainly anti-death penalty — and it is the kind of viewpoint I want to develop in a non-emotional state of mind, because obviously, emotions will affect my rational decision making ability. And yet, I could be convinced of using the death penalty in a case like the Petit assaults and murders. The Connecticut prosecutors have charged the perpetrators with capital felony — which would either get them life imprisonment without the chance of parole or death by lethal injection. I think in this case, I actually see the merit of that possibility (though I still am very conflicted and need to think further on this).

Why, then, weren’t prosecutors seeking the same for the pfc’s who committed an almost identical crime on an Iraqi family? They raped a child. They killed two children. They murdered an entire family. The sentences range between 5 years and 110? 5 years!?! I’m not necessarily suggesting that the soldiers involved should receive the death penalty, but parole in 10 years? And a 5 year sentence? People make a lot of noise about making sure sex offenders are registered and publicly known. How about the punishment fitting the crime? How about at least some consistency? I realize the two cases are being tried in different realms — one the world of civilians, one the world of the military. I also understand that the stress of war, and the stress of being overseas in a less than successful mission drives people to do some pretty horrible things, like <a href="My Lai, but this was premeditated — they planned it.

My Minneapolis

All this news about the collapsed bridge in Minneapolis makes me sad. I’m certainly saddened by the loss of lives and by the injuries people sustained, and it was a horrifying event. I can’t help but think of the terror people felt.

I’ve been trying to figure out which bridge it was, because I used to walk around Minneapolis. I used to enjoy crossing the bridges over the Mississippi. While I would not have been walking across I-35, I must have walked across the neighboring bridge a number of times. Here is a map of where I used to live with a route to the bridge. I was trying to figure out if this was a bridge (the neighboring bridge, that is) I used to go over on a favorite bike ride. Without really being there, it’s hard to tell.

Then I remembered Nicollet Island and the Nicollet Island Inn. I used to ride by it on that bike ride. I’d been wanting to eat there for a very long time, and I finally went one Easter. It was lovely. I also loved the “industrial” waterfront — the grain elevators, the Pillsbury factory. I would not mind going back. I miss Minneapolis in a nostalgic way.

On a closer look at the map, I know right where the bridge is. There were a few theaters in that area, and it’s right by the university. I have a distinct image of Cedar Ave — and of an Indian restaurant in that area.

I am very sorry for all the pain people are going through because of this tragedy, and I feel compassion for them.

NYT Article on Family Leave

I am so digging Eyal Press! It seems when I begin reading an interesting, well-researched and well-written article, it is often by Eyal Press. I have previously posted about his book Absolute Convictions. Today I was reading his NYT article on family leave discrimination. Check it out.

Tagged

A Night at the Movies

While I wanted to see Sicko on opening night, we went to see Ratatouille instead. So tonight, we finally went to see Sicko, even though I pledged on MoveOn.Org that I would see it Saturday evening — Sorry, MoveOn. My first reaction when I left the theater was — I really want to feel empowered and inspired, yet I feel a sense of despair and powerlessness. It seems the lobbies in this country are magnanimously strong. But I’d like to try to get beyond an initial feeling of powerlessness.

Ironically — or not ironically, I suppose — the movie was not playing at one of the major cinemas in our area. We saw Fahrenheit 911 at the cinema in Plainville, and I was going to get tickets to see Sicko there on Friday afternoon, yet it was only playing at one of the Hartford “arts” cinemas (and a mall cinema that is fairly far from us). I was surprised it wasn’t at Plainville, and Sujal told me his theory that it might have something to do with the fact that Hartford is the insurance capital. Makes sense…

Take the time to look at Michael Moore’s website, as it has lots of info and resources.

Here’s an interesting YouTube link in which Moore responds to potential attacks on 911 rescue workers.

[fmvideo movie=”http://www.youtube.com/v/QFD61O-EKiE&#8221; width=”425″ height=”350″ /]

Finally, at the end of the film, it lists this site, Hook-A-Canuck, a dating site for Americans to find a Canadian mate so the American can get free healthcare — though it is not serious, of course.

[fmvideo movie=”http://www.youtube.com/v/XbdwoaI_5eI&#8221; width=”425″ height=”350″ /]

I truly hope this does open a national healthcare debate and movement. It is high time!

Genealogy

Today I received Henry Louis Gates, Jr’s newest book, Finding Oprah’s Roots. While I’ve never been a huge Oprah fan, I have enormous respect for her, because I think she’s a great role model. The fact that she has her extremely successful book club got many people reading again. She’s enormously generous and intelligent. I’m sure you can find her praises much more passionately laid out in many other places, so let it suffice to say that she’s clearly influential, and mainly in a positive way.

That she has let herself be the centerpiece for this work of research is inspiring. I’ve never given a lot of thought to tracking down my genealogy — for a number of reasons, I’m sure — I’ve historically been young and therefore a little less sentimental in the family roots sort of way (though each year, I feel it creeping up on me more and more — as my Polish roots become more and more important to me), and I know a decent amount of my genealogy already, in that I’ve heard lots of stories from grandparents and parents. It’s pretty clear that all of my relative emigrated from Poland, most likely in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This white immigrant privilege is not something I though about much, either, until I began Gates’ book. While I was aware in the abstract that African Americans who are descendants of slaves do not know their ancestry in terms of what country (part of Africa) their ancestors were brought from nor would they necessarily know who their slave ancestors were because of lack of records, I never thought of it in contrast to my own experience. I was just teaching Toni Morrison’s Sula, and there’s a passage where the narrator describes not knowing who one is, not having a language, a history, etc. The narrator speaks of this in reference to a character who is shell-shocked, but there is an obvious connection to African American history. But to think that here is yet again another form of institutionalized (even is historical) racism. If I wanted to research my genealogy, I would doubtless have an easier time than, say, Oprah. Granted, she has a lot more money at her disposal. Gates says as much, so I’m not sharing anything new, just the fact that I hadn’t yet realized it. I agree that it is important for people to know where they came from. I’m not too far into the book yet, but in flipping through, it looks very interesting.

A coincidental intersection — Sujal was just exploring this website, Geni, and he signed up for it and began getting our relatives to fill it out. As I’ve said, I really hadn’t been into genealogy much, but I’m finding it a bit more interesting suddenly. I don’t think I’ll develop a great passion for it, but at least I’ll have a better understanding.

Colonialism Sucks

In order to keep the grim tone to the week, Sujal and I watched Hotel Rwanda. My school’s Amnesty International showed it at a movie night last year, but I was unable to go, so I was glad to finally see it. It was a powerful story powerfully told. As my neighbor said today, “Anything with Don Cheadle is great.”

On a purely filmic level, it was very well executed. The actors gave believable and stirring performances, and the ineffective characters were effectively portrayed. Nick Nolte did a great job playing an overloaded and sadly ineffective general. Such is history. I found one specific scene particularly powerful. After witnessing the carnage (BTW, for a movie about genocide, the carnage is kept to a minimum, though the filmmakers clearly get their point across. Sometimes the hint of violence is more potent that watching full-blown terror, as we become desensitized and/or we shut down from the horror.), Cheadle’s character, Paul Rusesabagina, (based on the real Paul Rusesabagina) showers and tries to dress himself. It is in doing the mundane activity of tying his tie — that semblance of normalcy — that he has his emotional breakdown. It is so visceral and real. It reminds me of the character of the wife in the novel The Sheltering Sky who must put her makeup on as her daily ritual, even though she has lost her husband and cannot get home. This is like the film version of the objective correlative.

Aside from being a strong film — holy crap! While I knew there was a genocide, I had no understanding of it. What frustrates the hell out of me, and I am only beginning to learn and understand the never-ending effects of colonialism, is that Hutus and Tutsis fought with each other eventually ending up in the Rwandan genocide of the Tutsis, when really, their aggression would have been better aimed at their oppressor: Belgium. Colonialism was and is such an evil institution.

The film is ultimately very inspiring. I hope you are inspired to learn more and to donate to NGO’s to try to right some wrongs put into motion by colonialism.

Amnesty International is an excellent organization.

Donate here to the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation.

NPR’s info on Paul Rusesabagina.

Snow Day!

Everyone loves a snow day — well maybe we could find a few people who don’t, but most people do. I called my mom to tell her I had a snow day and reminded her that it was one of the perks of being a teacher — hell, it’s also one of the perks of being a schoolchild, too.

One of the best parts of snow-daydom is Chris Kasprak’s The Snow-Day Predictor. It is very fun to check his blog when you hope to have a snow day. Since I linked to it when he first got it running, my own rate of site hits has gone up. I love to brag to my husband about my international readership, but now I have a local readership as well. Okay, truth be told, they are mainly just “hits” — and not even that many, but I like to pretend. I’m obviously not much of a real blogger, but it’s kid of fun to track from where people “hit” my site.

My posts about Lost and Naveen Andrews have been the main sources of my international readership, as I like to brag to my husband. My posts about the indian soap opera “Kahin to Hoga” also increased my international hits. I’m up to about 25 hits per day — more if we are on the brink of a snow day.

My snow day has been mainly devoted to getting through a pile of grading and a pile of sleet. I went outside to shovel, and it was like shoveling sand — very weird. I am happy to say I’ve had more luck with the pile of grading.

To any students stopping over on their way to Kasprak’s site — remember to wear your PJ’s inside out. Have a great snow day.