Archive for October, 2004

Movies (continued from last post)

Sharon October 3rd, 2004

On movies. Several people have emailed me (believe it or not, there are actually people reading this!!! Stunning, isnt it? This claim would be more credible if I had the faintest idea how to download a hit counter, wouldn’t it? Anyone know how?) and asked me if I really hate all movies, as my profile claims. Of course I don’t, but there’s some truth to the statement. If you are movie buff, I am not a good person to go out with (as poor Eric has found to his grief). I have a semi-hostile relationship to the movies. First of all, on the rare occasions on which I actually get to leave my house, I have no profound wish to spend the time sitting in a darkened room. Much of the time in the last few years, doing so would be a recipe for unconsciousness, since neither of my first two kids slept through the night before they were a year, and Isaiah seems to share his brother’s timetable (yup, out of the last five years, I’ve been sleep deprived for more than 3 of them!)

I also resent paying $10 for anything that is of lower quality than what I get for free on television. And that isnt saying a great deal. If it is less good than a West Wing episode, I’m not going. I don’t think I’m setting the bar too high.

I also have a particular distaste for pretentious movies that pretend to plumb the psychological depths of anyone. _American Beauty_ is the perfect example of a movie most people liked that made me want to throw up. Yeah, yeah, Kevin Spacey, whatever - I liked _The Usual Suspects_ too. But long angsty movies about how alienating suburbia or the 1970s or motherhood or jet lag, etc… really annoy me. The Victorian period piece equivalent pisses me off even more. The simplistic nature of the way psychology is used in literature and film makes me nuts - the “cause - effect” theories of the human mind. You’d think I like that stuff, since I’m a lit geek and in many ways a Freudian, but what interests me about psychoanalysis is its precise failure to choose the stupid, linear way of thinking.

Some movies everyone else liked that I hated:

1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - I know it was beautiful and poetic (and tedious), and the culmination of the martial arts drama (a genre I actually kind of like), but it rather went on a bit, didn’t it. Admit it, it would have been better at 45 minutes.

2. Lost in Translation - I love Bill Murray. Bill Murray is a brilliant actor. He could stand buck naked in front of a white wall and masturbate for 2 hours, and he’d be wonderful. This movie was almost as good as that. Please, someone, put Scarlett Johanson back in her bottle!

3. That stupid movie about migrating birds, set to music. Dear G-d, is there no level we won’t sink to?

I can list more, but you get the point. I’m no fun at all to go to the movies with, not least because everyone who goes with me eventually ends up agreeing with me.

But I do like some movies - movies that don’t try to be more than they can, truly good movies, movies that are generous rather than petty in spirit (they don’t take the cheap jokes, the cheap shots, the cheap sex scenes, the cheap dialogue or the obvious plot points), the occasional weird thing that I like despite the fact that it breaks all my rules. Here are some movies I like:

1. Anything by Robert Altman, except Pret A Porter. Just finally saw Gosford Park, and it was glorious. Weirdly, Popeye is a favorite movie of mine - weird and wonderful.

2. Danny Devito movies. I love how deeply he mocks the urge to moralize or psychologize. Drowning Mona was flawed, but a wonderful antidote to the tripe done in good movies. Matilda was everything Roald Dahl should be. The War of the Roses is still a favorite.

3. Farenheight 9/11. Yeah, it was filled with cheap shots, overblown and tacky. It was also strangely moving, and better than I expected it to be. Moreover, I genuinely admire Michael Moore, not something I can say about many people.

4. Chicago. Yeah, that one. Sure, it is a musical (modern musicals are generally loathsome) and has the inevitably tedious Renee Zellweger(sp?) in it, but how can you not love a movie whose essential message is, “you’ll regret heterosexual sex - go lesbian!” and still gets an Oscar? Plus, Queen Latifah is hot (Catherine Zeta-Jones doesn’t really do it for me, although I can see her appeal) and Richard Gere can both dance and sing (I had been resolutely hostile to Gere, who has never appealed to me, but I was impressed despite myself).

Mostly, I like old movies. I just watched _The Magnificent Seven_ for the thousandth time (Eric had never seen it) and I kept thinking, “Why is it we needed _Unforgiven_ again? I tend to think that the majority of films are simply pointless redundancies. And I think that about books, too. Yeah, I know that retelling stories can be cool, but it often is merely annoying.

Ok, I’ll get to books next, but I’m tired and cranky now ;-).


Socks, Books, Movies

Sharon October 2nd, 2004

So I actually figured out how to knit socks today! I’ve avoided socks because I am possibly the least coordinated person on earth, *and* I have no sense of spatial relations (literally true - a friend gave me an IQ test some years ago, and I think I tested out as mildly retarded in the part where you have to put the little blocks together). In case you don’t know, socks are knitted on four or five teeny tiny needles held carefully together, while you slide stitches from one to another. This, for me, is a recipe for disaster.

And yet, I like warm feet, I like wool socks, and socks are cool. So I knew I wanted to knit socks. And foolishly, when nephew Jake (4 1/2) was visiting last week, and asked me to knit him rainbow colored socks, I agreed. So it was determined I had to learn.

Unsurprisingly, I cannot, in fact, manage to knit with teeny tiny yarn (I am not a delicate person - in appearance, in taste, in personality) on teeny tiny needles that have to be held carefully together. But I was frustrated, and convinced myself that there must be some way to knit socks on circular needles. I sort of figured out what that would look like, and then searched the web to find out if anyone had figured it out better than I could. And lo, and behold, the angel of the web spoke, and there it was - a way to knit socks on either one or two circular needles at How cool is that? I practice knitted four inches of a pair of thick socks for my Dad (who likes to wear birks in January - which isn’t quite as crazy in Bellinham WA as it would be here, but still), and they looked cool. And I started socks for Jake (or maybe some other child, if my gauge turns out to be off, as it faintly appears)! I can do it. And not only can I do it, but I sort of even figured out the general gist of how to do it without help. Given that I visualize only slightly less well than I tap dance, I’m pleased with myself. Next stop, mittens!!

The Next 25 Things you can do to get ready for Peak Oil

Sharon October 1st, 2004

The next 25 out of 100 things you can do to prepare for peak oil.

1. Acquire Countryside Magazine issues that cover late 1997 - 2000. Those issues, JD Belanger’s last, were focused heavily on Y2K and sustainability, and contain tons of useful information. Definitely worth every penny of the money - they covered things like making pectin, making lye, feeding your animals without the feed store, food storage, etc… I got them kind of by accident, and they are wonderful, well worth whatever the cost.

2. Make a pair of socks. Knit them. Crochet them. Felt them. Sew them. I don’t care. But cold feet really suck, and working outside in cold weather means that your socks are the primary barrier between you and frostbite. Make warm ones, ideally out of wool, and make lots of them - they wear out when you really work in them.

3. Build a root cellar, and store some garden produce. If you didn’t grow any, buy it from a local farm. Storing a couple hundred lbs of potatoes, onions, carrots and beets will a. make you more food secure and b. give you practice at the storing, use and care of root vegetables. For anyone in a cold climate, they are going to be your staples.

4. Offer to do a presentation on peak oil at your local synagogue/college/church/community center.

5. Teach a neighbor child to garden.

6. Dehydrate some food, and actually use it. Dehydration is energy efficient, the food stores well, and it retains a decent amount of nutrition, and you can do it after peak oil.

7. Plant garlic - now is the time, and garlic is so good, so tasty, so healthy.

8. Dig up a few biennials (parsnips, parsley, carrots, cabbage, kale) from your garden and put them in either a sunny spot or a cool dark one. Try and winter them over, and grow out seed. You’ll need to find space for them.

9. Look over your food storage, and try to imagine that the grocery stores close tomorrow. What will you eat? For how long? What do you need? Try and fill some gaps.

10. Buy shoes and boots on sale in adult sizes and in larger childrens sizes (if you have kids) and store them.

11. Learn to hunt - there probably won’t be much game out there after peak oil, but it is a useful skill, and an excellent way of making friends with the neighboring men.

12. Get a dog - a good one. Get a dog who can be trained to work your animals (and your children), to protect your property (not aggressively - that’s a recipe for lawsuits) and run critters out of your garden. Plan ways to feed him without the grocery stores.

13. Learn to ride and drive a horse.

14. Develop a repetoir of recipes that use only local produce, herbs and ingredients

15. Make a compost pile. Right now thousands of suburbanites are throwing away leaves - collect them, pile them and use them to fertilize your garden.

16. Build something - a toy train, a shed, a bookcase, whatever, using hand tools.

17. Pick up used down clothing at your local thift shop - you can turn those used vests into blankets and pillows.

18. Read Keeping Food Fresh and try some of the methods of food preservation.

19. Join a local food coop for bulk buying.

20. Consider volunteering to work on “Preparedness” for your county, your town or your state. No one has enough money to hire people, and every kind of general preparation applies to peak oil.

21. Whenever you buy something that will be in short supply after the peak, pick up a second one for your storage - an extra pair of sneakers, another box of nails, an extra pack of pencils, a second pair of sheets. It all adds up.

22. Send a letter to disbelieving relatives informing them of your preparations and giving them your ideas for handling the coming crisis. Ask them to save the letter, even if they think you are nuts. That way, when your Mom and sister are bugging out to your place, they’ll know you want them to pack all of the blankets, canned goods and garden tools.

23. Try and keep up important religious and family rituals even in hard times. Don’t give up the bedtime story by candlelight. Make gifts. Store the ingredients of favorite holiday foods. Your family will remember, and it will make things better.

24. Study herbal medicine, homeopathy and anything else you can think of. It is worth a shot.

25. Learn about breastfeeding, so that you or your children can do so. Consider extended breastfeeding or volunteer feeding the children of friends and relatives, to keep your lactation going after you are done childbearing. The more women who can nurse in a given community, the lower the infant mortality rate

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