May 2008 Archives
The movie "Sex in the City" was released today. My reaction is "meh." A friend sent around an email to a group of us asking if we wanted to go to lunch or to see "Sex in the City". I voted for lunch. Date to be determined.
Now let me make a few caveats:
1) I have not ever owned my own TV. In fact, I have not lived in a household with a TV since college. That is nearly two decades of TV-less living. I am VERY behind in my TV watching by choice. So, I have never, not once, seen the HBO TV series "Sex in the City".
2) In recent months, to not appear to the the serious computer savvy luddite or jacobite that I can be at times, I got a Netflix subscription of 2 movies a month, of which I watch on my MacBook Pro with headphones. My Netflix movie subscription has most comprised of Bollywood romantic comedies (no kissing, no real handholding), Jane Austen movies (Extensive handholding in the countryside), an odd happy indy foreign film, and a few indy cinema classics.
Basically, I did not grow up in a happy, intact family in the 'burbs, so I really don't like horror movies, film noir, serious complex indy films, and throw away sex movies. I grew up in a constantly divorcing & moving family in the sometimes burbs and now I like nice, happy movies with redemptive endings. Mock me all you want to, I lived the shit and now I want a happy ending.
3) New York is a foreign country to me. London and Mumbai are much more familiar cities to me. I have been to NYC a number of times and could not wait to get out. My last visit, I stayed for only four hours to go to dinner & see a band, and then got out as fast as possible. I love London, I go there all the time. I fell in love with Mumbai this February and plan on going back soon.
Movies and TV shows about New York are odd to me. It is another culture, a bizarre one at that, that I really don't get. Los Angles, London, Istanbul, and Mumbai, I get and like. I will watch films about those cities.
4) If you have met me then you know a very important fact about me, I have a case of terminal nice girl. Forget the funny colors in the hair (honey, that is all about art & color), forget the tendency towards loud & fast music, forget the tendency towards outrageous stories (I am a Hanen after all!), but remember I am a nice girl despite the colorful external trappings. Viva extensive handholding in the countryside!
End of caveats.
One thing I have done for years, to make up for my lack of TV watching and movie attendance, is to read the LA Times' film review section in the Friday Calendar so that I can at least know some of the plot and the critics' opinions on the latest movies. I surprise friends with my skimmed knowledge of the latest flicks at times even when I have no intention of seeing them at all, not now in the theatre or later on DVD.
After my friend's email and all the hype about "Sex in the City" to women of my age group (post-25, pre-60), I made sure that I read today's LA Times review about the movie. It was glowing. It made love to Carrie, Samantha, et al. The LA Times critic, Carina Chocano, seems to think even though they would deny that they ever stepped into the theatre that men would like the movie. The LA Times asserts that the film is quite revolutionary for Hollywood, in that it depicts middle-aged women (40-50) having a complete, fulfilled independent life.
"Sex and the City" can't rightly be called a romantic comedy in the dismal, contemporary sense, though it is at times romantic and is consistently very funny. It's also emotionally realistic, even brutal. Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Samantha (Kim Cattrall), now in their 40s and 50s, continue to navigate the choppy waters of urban life, negotiating relationships, work, fertility and friendship, only now the stakes are higher, the risks are bigger and decisions feel more permanent.
For a film that delights in indulging in frivolity at every possible turn, it examines subjects that most movies don't dare graze for their terrifying seriousness. And when it does, the movie handles them with surprising grace, wit and maturity. In other words, it's a movie for grown-ups of all ages. The press and industry screening I attended was uncharacteristically packed with women in their 20s, and my guess is that their interest had zero to do with the inclusion of Jennifer Hudson as Carrie's personal assistant -- though her character, Louise, is likable and allows the writer to expand the scope of the film from a story about four friends living in New York into a tale about the contemporary lives of urban women from early adulthood to maturity.
After I read this review, I thought, "Hmmm... maybe I will put it in my Netflix queue to watch much, much, much later."
But then the New Yorker's film critic, Anthony Lane, panned the movie as an extendede TV show on steriods, ending his review with this quote:
In short, to anyone facing the quandaries of being a working mother, the movie sends a vicious memo: Don't be a mother. And don't work. Is this really where we have ended up--with this superannuated fantasy posing as a slice of modern life? On TV, "Sex and the City" was never as insulting as "Desperate Housewives," which strikes me as catastrophically retrograde, but, almost sixty years after "All About Eve," which also featured four major female roles, there is a deep sadness in the sight of Carrie and friends defining themselves not as Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, Celeste Holm, and Thelma Ritter did--by their talents, their hats, and the swordplay of their wits--but purely by their ability to snare and keep a man. Believe me, ladies, we're not worth it. It's true that Samantha finally disposes of one paramour, but only with a view to landing another, and her parting shot is a beauty: "I love you, but I love me more." I have a terrible feeling that "Sex and the City" expects us not to disapprove of that line, or even to laugh at it, but to exclaim in unison, "You go, girl."
I really am not interested in watching a movie about NYC consumerist fashion obsessed women. If I wanted to watch something vaguely similar, even if the West Coast version, I could go to any upscale bar or restaurant in Newport Beach or the Westside of LA and watch it live and in person. Bah.
What ever happened to hand holding and true love or at least love that is concerned with others as well as self? I guess I will be missing "Sex in the City" and I could watch a Jane Austen flick or a Mira Nair movie. Or maybe I will read a book instead.
Thur 05.29.08 - Alongside the beach bike path between Dog Beach and Bolsa Chica State Park.
Thur 05.29.08 - As seen at Dog Beach in Huntington this afternoon. Gorgeous.
Wed 05.28.08 - Dave Irish and Alex Hernandez in the parking lot at Alex's.
In a fit of moblogging journalist fevor, Scruffy McDoglet and I went over to Alex's at about 6:30pm to watch the fun as folks waited in line to get into the Foxboro Hot Tubs (Green Day + 2) show. We stayed until 7:40pm and I will return later for the show (sans camera phone, per the rules, and sans Scruffy McDoglet).
Here are my two qik.com/msjen videos streamed from my Nokia N95:
Beer Truck tests the wand on Green Day's drum tech before any of the line is let in.
The Line to get into Alex's for the Foxboro Hot Tubs Show Tonight. There were hundreds more folk standing in line than capacity in Alex's.
Wed 05.28.08 - As planted by me yesterday and today.
Tues 05.27.08 - Morning vs. evening...
Tue 05.27.08 - The extra-late winter storm moved on and today was clear and beautiful all day long. I could see and count 13 oil tankers & container ships within a couple of miles of shore. More oil tankers than I have seen in a long time off the coast of Long Beach, waiting for their turn at the Port. Hmmm...
Sun 05.25.08 - At the annual Scottish Games / Highland Festival at the OC Fairgrounds.
Sat 05.24.08 - Walking about Culver City.
Fri 05.23.08 - Othewise entitled "Winter Storm in Late May".
The light streaming into my apartment this morning with the cold wind that was making my curtains billow was not the bright light and warm winds of May or even the dull, clouded light of early June gloom, but instead this morning was the completely out of season winter storm continued its assault on the whole of the West Coast (from BC to Baja), as well as the Western States.
The light this morning was intense with a bright gray light streaming in and the curtains puffed out with chilly wind. Now it is Friday evening and I can't walk the dogs for the rain.
If you live in a wet place, this is not strange. But SoCal is on the edge of the desert. We are a "Mediterranean Climate" in the best of years or a "Semi-Arid" climate in the worst of years. In the best of years the rainy season starts in late Oct. or early Nov. and lasts until March or April, in the worst of years we are lucky to get rain in Feb. & March. Coastal SoCal (within 100 miles of the Pacific Ocean) does not receive the "North American Monsoon" rains in the late summer that Arizona and New Mexico receive. To get rain, real rain, not sprinkles from the inversion layer clouds, anytime from May all the way to Oct. is a very rare event and considered strange.
The last two days with near gale force winds, rain, and chilly weather in late May have been strange. This is weather we expect Dec - Feb, not months later.
Odd, but welcomed. When you live on the edge of a big desert, any rain is welcome.
The above title sounds odd, but it is true. I am one of those people who exfoliates and moistures every day. Instead of having dry, flaky elbows & knees, mine are very soft and supple.
Maybe too soft, if that is possible.
Three weeks ago, I went to dinner with a friend and we were sat at a wooden table with heavy varnish. About half way through dinner, in between courses, I noticed that my left elbow slid about 2 inches across the table and was very painful. I looked down and saw a 3/8 inch diameter, many layered skin patch sitting on the table top.
I was very surprised. I wasn't leaning heavily on my elbows. It was bizarre. I looked at my friend and said, "Am I missing skin on my elbow?"
"Yes," said the friend, "It is red and looks like it is going to bleed."
Fast forward to having tea with Abhi this last Sunday at Apostrophe's in Notting Hill, tea and coffee has been consumed, we are sitting and chatting. The table top is either lacquered wood or plastic (sorry, I can't remember), my elbows are resting on the table top and, again, my elbow slips and skin scrapes off my right elbow.
Here I type tonight with both elbows scrapped and scabbed up. Why?
Yes, if one falls on concrete or asphalt or gravel, one expects to get a good scrape, but not off a table in a restaurant or coffee place.
Have you every heard of such a thing? I googled it to find out if this is a skin condition, but only got results for dry, flaky elbow skin, not soft elbow skin that is coming off with very little provocation.
Odd, but true.
Thurs 05.22.08 - Local house sparrow gets nosy and watches Scruffy intently.
Wed 05.21.08 - Hanging out on the Greenbelt with Scruffy and Belle after walking down to the Library to return a book.
Tues 05.20.08 - Photo taken by Ms. Jen out the window of her 4th floor hotel room in Bayswater, London, with her Nokia N95 way too early in the morning before departing to the airport.
Mon. 05.19.08 - Last evening in London before departure back home.
Mon May 19, 2008 - Today, my last full day in the UK, I was supposed to go to Bath, but due to exhaustion which turned in to a sore throat I stayed in my hotel room all day.
Sun 05.18.08 - Abhi lives in London and we met up for tea / coffee at the Apostrophe's in Notting Hill today. We hung out chatting and having a good deal of fun before I went off to the Food 2.0 Nom Nom Nom event and Abhi went back to studying for his CFA exams.
Today was a big day* in the Neighborhood. I am exhausted and Lifeblog is not sending any of my photos here even though it worked yesterday and I have all my settings correct. I will suss out the problem tomorrow. Now bed.
Sat 05.18.08 - The first Geekyoto at Conway Hall in Holburn, London.
Sorry the photo is slightly blurry, but I was trying to get a photo of Ben jokingly doing jumping jacks without the Nokia's flash on.
Fri 05.16.08 - Photo taken by Ms. Jen with her Nokia N95 while waiting for the Circle Line train at the St. Pancras / King's Cross Station after a lovely evening of hanging out with M. and various other nice Moo.com folk at the Prince's pub.
Twitter is currently out, and not out getting a Flickr style message, but appears to be on a tweaking binge and is not to be found, when found Twitter just might be manically vacuuming your house at 3am.
Yes, Twitter is down and out, so I have not place to post short, 140 character witticisms. Thus, I will actually write a textual blog post.
Several quick thoughts:
1) Am quite tired / jet lagged.
2) Am sad that my flight & budget require me to go home on Tuesday. Can I please stay in London for least another 3 days?
3) As it stands today and Friday are my only two days to pitter putter / bip bop around London, every other day is fully booked. Can I have another 3 days?
4) Bah. Budget. Bah.
5) You know that Ruby on Rails application that I have been working on? After watching Twitter struggle, I am defecting to Django. Ever heard of a Django app having such troubles and outages?
6) Today I had a lovely dim sum lunch with @SteveMarshall at the Jade Garden. Drinks at Villanders with the Carsonified folk & the folk who attended Andy Clarke's CSS workshop. Plus a big walk in between.
7) I really wish that Clark's in the US would carry good and cute shoes rather than icky hippy crap. I have had to buy my last 3 pairs of favorite cute walking flats in either the London or Dublin Clark's stores in the last 3 years due to the fact the US branch of the shoe giant has been beaten with an ugly stick. Good thing that the Clark's store on Regents street had my fave pair of black flats on sale for a significant discount today.
8) Did I mention that I was tired and not thinking well? If the above makes no sense, well then...
Wed 05.13.08 - Anytime that Chris and Alec want me to conduct a market research interview about my opinion on Nokia, I am available... ;o)
The only downside to my trip to the Nokia store is the did not have any wired headsets available for the N95, neither does nokiausa.com. Bluetooth is too crackly to listen to music on and the pair of earbuds that came with my N95are broken. Thus the trip to the Nokia store on Regents St.
Tue 05.13.08 - London Day 0.5. Dinner with Donna, Siobhan, and Colin at The Aphrodite Taverna on Hereford Rd, Bayswater, London. The evening was so lovely we ate outside. Delightful.
LAX -> DEN -> LHR
The following post is brought to you by a layover at the Denver airport and Joiku Spot wifi via my Nokia N95.
After a long drive home from Arizona last night, I found myself at home backing up my work computer, charging the old school 12" powerbook, targeting them together to transfer needed files and mail, and going to bed way too late. Seven-thirty a.m. came much too quickly and the rush to walk Scruffy, pack, and then get out of the house by 10:30am. Done.
There was trouble at the United counter at LAX, as the person who booked the gift ticket for me was not with me upon check in and the United folks would not check me in without the giftor and their credit card. Really. Truly. Very frustrating.
Interwebs, please note the following, United's system is currently such that if you purchase a ticket or gift a friend with your extra miles and then you pay the taxes on the phone or in person, then the giftee can check in without you.
But if you purchase a ticket online or gift your miles online to a friend and then use your credit card, then you either need to call United to get the "fraud" hold taken off the reservation and paper tickets issued or go to the departing airport before departure (even up to a month beforehand, I was informed by the 1st check in agent) to prove to United that you really do want to gift these miles to your friend or purchase the ticket for them. <sarcasm>As we all know, fraud only happens online and a company must protect itself</sarcasm>
After an incredibly unproductive conversation with the check in agent who was convinced that United was protecting my friend from me the fraudster, and she kept saying that because the ticket was booked over a month ago that gave my friend ample time to come on down to United at LAX to show her credit card (said friend was in Turkey & Germany most of the last month earning more United miles). When we reached an impasse of which neither of us wold budge and I was on the verge of losing my temper, she informed me that I should go to ticketing who could refund my friend her "substantial" ticketing fee & taxes and they could use my credit card instead.
The "Future Ticketing" agent was much more helpful. He took my passport & reservation confirmation number, looked at the file on his screen, and asked me how he could help me. I explained that the trip was a gift from friends who used their miles to book the ticket, said friends were at work and could not come to LAX to prove that the reservation was legitimate. He told me the rules and that anyone could use anyone else's United frequent flyer mileage number to book a ticket with a miles reward and that the credit card that paid for the fees and taxes was needed to prove that the miles were not used fraudent. He asked if I would be willing to have my credit card charged and my friend's card credited. I said yes and handed over my card. He took it and continued to stare into his screen.
A minute or two lapsed, the agent passed my card back to me uncharged and said, "Over a month has passed since this ticket was issued, so I can let it pass because if it was fraud the person would have complained about a wrong charge to their card." He issued my ticket, weighed my bag, put the bag onto the conveyor belt, and told me to have a good trip.
Many kudos to the Future Ticketing agent who used logic and reasoned out the situation, but minus kudos to United for having a system that allows anyone to cash in miles as long as they have a person's mileage number and then put the security check at the airport which harasses the travellor and not where it should be in the first place - which is at the time of ticketing.
A possibility for United, if they are concerned with online fraud, is to call the frequently miles holder to confirm that they were the person to book the gift ticket or miles transfer ticket rather than harass the giftee at the airport or force their frequent flyer miles holder to take extra steps (like take a day off work to go to the airport to present their credit card). I have a credit card of which they will call me every time a purchase is made over a certain amount to confirm that I made the purchase, once they even called while I was at the Apple store to confirm the purchase.
The upswing is that I know my friend and someone at United is going to hear all about this. The other upswing is that United did not gain another customer today but after this bit of making my birthday gift a trial, I will make sure I fly American even if United is a tens of dollars cheaper.
Why American? Well, American does not quibble with you if someone has gifted you a ticket and can't accompany you to the airport, they check you in without a half hour of hassle and raised blood pressure.
Sun 05.11.08 - Eoin and the front half of Joe's boat gets soaked while on a Mother's Day cruise of the Colorado River. Ms. Jen gets blamed from some corners for driving the boat too fast into a choppy wind driven swell, but gets kudos & clapping from other corners of the boat for catching such a great wave at the right angle.... ;o)
Video captured by Ms. Jen whilst driving brother Joe's boat on the Colorado River with a Nokia 95.
Sun. 05.11.08 - The windmills in the pass between the Coachella Valley and Beaumont/Banning along the 10 Freeway / Interstate.
Sun 05.11.08 - Belle and Mom on Joe's boat today in Parker, AZ.
Sat 05.10.08 - Photo taken by Ms. Jen with her Nokia N95 camera phone while boating on the Colorado River in Parker, Arizona.
Sat 05.10.08 - 9:23 am. I am the designated Rhino driver for the b-day boy.
Fri 05.09.08 - Photo taken at Love's Gas Station, Dillion Road, Coachella (Indio), CA, whilst driving out to Parker, Arizona, for my brother Joe's birthday and Mother's Day.
This week Sandra and I are working on an iteration or somewhat-redesign of her Debutante Clothing blog. The other night I went over to her house and used a photo of Justin's sister to make a big bold splash of a banner header.
But by the time I got home and all through yesterday day, I felt it was too bold for the rest of Sandra's blog and overwhelmed the content. This afternoon, I plugged my Wacom tablet in, turned on Fireworks, opened up the photo of the roses outside of Sandra's front door that I took on Tuesday evening and started to draw over the photo with colors from her blog.
I wasn't sure if Sandra would like the drawing for her masthead or if she liked our big bold statement, or if I should take the the drawn over roses and weave them into the new masthead I created on Tuesday evening.
Tuesday Evening's Masthead:
This Afternoon's Rose additions to the Bold Banner:
Now looking at the two ideas above, I thought of a subtler iteration:
What do you think?
For a variety of reasons, fast cars and even faster panicked dogs at the vet, the last few photos I have moblogged here have been blurry.
I am happy with them. Yes, blur is good.
When Greg took off before I could capture the photo of him & Ryan in the hot rod, I was afraid that my Nokia N95 could not and would not take the photo fast enough to capture Greg's peeling out on to Electric avenue. But the N95 did get the photo.
Last evening, as I drove north-east to Sandra & Justin's house in Ontario, I wanted to get a photo of the golden Brea Hills that were speckled with oak trees and shrubs. I kept pointing the N95 to shoot while I was driving at the or a bit over the freeway speed limit. Due to the fact that the sun was going down, the light was all wrong and I kept getting a bright sky with dark hills. I decided to fool the light meter in the N95 by pointing it low and then moving it to see a bit of the sky as the shutter was releasing, which caused the white out effect. I love it when I can get a Nokia camera phone to white most the landscape out but leave a few saturated objects, in this case the red car speeding by on the other side of the freeway.
This morning I took Scruffy for his yearly vet check up and shots. He gets nervous and shakes violently when he is at the Vet and the Groomers. This morning it took a while for the vet, Dr. Kali, to come into the examining room, so to distract Scruffy I tried to take photos as he attempted to jump off the exam table and into my arms.
It wasn't that bad. Scruff survived. I love how the N95 focused on his legs & paws on the exam table but everything else is slightly blurred.
Which brings up one of the major reasons I primarily shoot photos with my camera phone: the gift of a good shot within the randomness of very little control and the constraints of capturing good photos with a mobile phone.
Wed 05.07.08 - At Scruffy's annual vet visit. Dr. Kali rocks. He is very calm and he calmed Scruffy down.
Mon. 05.05.08 - Happy Cinco de Mayo!
Greg & Leah stopped by this evening in "Ojitos - Hecho en Nuevo Mexico", a fun 1927 modified hot rod owned by Greg's friend Thomas. Thomas wants to sell Ojitos to Greg, Leah is wary, so they have Ojitos for one day/evening.
Ojiotos, she was the toast of Seal Beach. And danged loud, too.
Sun. 05.04.08 - Happy Sunday to you from four local iris-type flowers making their May debut into the big bright world.
Last Sunday I made a note for myself of four things I wanted to blog about this week, but due to busy-ness I have not gotten to a single one of them until tonight.
Let's talk about work vs. rest or how to take a day off when you are a freelancer:
I have blogged a few months ago that I have spent the last year traipsing down a variety of career avenues in search of the perfect post-graduate-school career position but there has been no perfect path, only the path to being overwhelmed and over-committed as I have found myself involved in a wide swath of interesting projects and working many days in a row without a true day off. Then I get frustrated with spending all day every day with my computer and then I start to slow down & procrastinate about finishing things up with the excuse that I need time off.
Add it up and you get....
A desperate need to catch up, finish up, and actually take a day off. But the worst part is that when I do take time off, I feel too stressed out and guilty to enjoy it. This is bad.
Enter Ryan's article on the 4 Day Work Week. Carsonified says the 4 day work week makes their office more productive as folks arrive on Monday actually rested.. The 37 Signals folks found that they were honestly only productively coding a certain amount of hours every day so why not distill that time into 4 days and have 3 days off.
There also is the guy writing/talking about the 4 hour work week. The trick to this is outsourcing every task in your life and then writing a book about it and it selling well.
I don't think that I will want to whittle my life down to a 4 hour work week, but I would like to set a goal to a productive 4 day work week rather than a stressed out with productivity falling 7 day work week.
Where to start? Just do it? I love being online and on my computer, my work merges with my passion. My computer is also my main tool, next to my mobile camera phone, for my creativity and art. When I create art with these tools, the Protestant Guilt Ethic creeps in and asks why I am playing instead of working.
How do the Carsonified & 37 Signals folk walk away for 3 days? Or do they separate their job work on their computer with their love / passion for being online and creating?
If you are freelance or your work & love are on a computer, how do you manage the work / life / creativity balance?
Fri. 05.02.08 - I meant to post this over at the Happy Tastebud, but I did not fully inspect Lifeblog before I pushed sent. Oh well.
This is a photo of the diary-free Shrimp & Argula (Rocket) Risotto I made tonight. It was tasty.
I woke up early this morning from an involved dream fresh in my memory that included a river flowing under my house / apartment, and the back room opening up into a wide staircase that went down into a grotto with a Virgin Mary on the riverside.
The river was clear, fast flowing, and deep. The statute of the Virgin Mary was in a light blue robe with a white robe underneath. The grotto was well lit, of which people freely came and went. The house / apartment was a mash-up of my last few favorite historical places I have lived in: shaped two rooms in a row like the 1860s brownstone apt. I lived in in Boston, hardwood floors (Misty's side of the duplex) and the back room of the Victorian in Orange, and the plaster & lathe walls of my current 1930s/1940s flat.
It was a peaceful dream and even in it, I yearned to live all the time in this 2 roomed apartment with its subterranean river of life and stairway of people come and going. This is the first ever dream I have had with Mary in it. I did not grow up Catholic and tend to find the veneration of the Virgin to be a bit bizarre. Upon research today, see links above, I found out that May is considered the Virgin Mary's month.