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Category: film


I was that kid who could spend hours focused on one particular thing and it would usually take over my life. As an adult, I’ve learned to multitask, but sometimes I’m still caught up in something and consumed with one particular thing. It can be a new author and I have to read all books he or she has written. Or just a particular series and I read all books written in one sitting and then wait impatiently for the new one to come out. I love Netflix because the best way to watch any show–House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, for example–is to binge watch.

And then there is the internet. YouTube sucks me in like nothing else and I’m addicted to Kid President, Tiffany Persson (A weird video blog based on a Swedish comedy character), and any cute thing dogs do.  My most recent obsession is watching Bored Shorts TV’s Kid Snippets.

These are videos imagined by kids, but acted out by grownups. For some reason it tickles my funny bone so much that I can’t stop watching them. I’ve watched my favorites over and over again. Here are some of them.

The one with the penguin:

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The Division of Gravity

I marvel everyday at humanity’s capability for resilience. So often, difficulties and challenges feel insurmountable, heartbreak feels incurable, pain unending. In a perfect world, the people we love don’t hurt us, parents don’t separate, families aren’t ruined, and everyone has enough money to live decently. But perfection is also problematic, sometimes it is too weighty, sometimes it costs too much to sustain and gets lost in the fullness of itself.

However, it is entirely possible to survive every misery, from the trivial to the desecrating, no matter how many things were solid yesterday and today disappeared beneath a fault line. After a while, the dust settles. Ruin is swept away, rain becomes important again, and air, and the sea and the sun.

The Fault In Our Scars

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For the past year or so, I’ve kept hearing about “The Fault In Our Stars,” the tale of two teenagers who fall in love after meeting at a cancer support group. I’ve seen the rave reviews. Heck, there’s a movie version coming out in June, and I’ve seen the trailers. I’ve even gone into the bookstore, picked up the book, and debated buying it, all to put it back down again and wander over to another section.

The reason: I’m feeling a very specific brand of emotional cowardice right now. I don’t think I can handle All of the Feelings the book is sure to provoke. First love + terminal cancer = Lareign Curled Up in the Fetal Position, Weeping Softly.

There are times when I want a book or movie or song to make me cry, times when I cue up Neko Case’s “This Tornado Loves You” or Cat Power’s “Manhattan” because I’m convinced I have some sadness that needs to be released. At that point, it’s like blowing your nose: Kind of ugly, and you don’t want to do it with anybody else nearby, but you feel better once it’s over.

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I’m not sure the same is true of “The Fault In Our Stars,” at least at this point. I’ve become all too aware in the last couple of years of just how fleeting life is, of how quickly people we care about can leave us. It’s not that I can’t handle reading about bad things or sad things, either; I do that every day, whether it’s checking the news or reading a novel for class. I don’t go peering around corners looking for stray emotions that snuck out of the Feelings Zoo. It just seems like a bad idea to immerse myself in this particular combination of beautiful things (like love) and sad things (terminal cancer) right now.

The actors in the trailer seem to be hitting all the right notes, and author John Green seems to be happy with what Hollywood has done to his book, which is rare enough in itself. But I think I’m just going to have to wait, on both the book and the film.

Springtime in Spokane

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I come from Texas, a land where school is canceled and the news channels go to round-the-clock coverage if two inches of snow falls. When that happens, Snowpacalypse 2012 (or whatever year) is all anyone in town can talk about. The grocery store shelves are bare. Drivers are warned to stay home unless it’s an emergency. apocalypse

Then I moved to Spokane.

I knew winter would be rough, but I didn’t quite know just how rough it could get. It snowed, and no one seemed to blink, although a few people did say, “You think that’s bad?” and shake their head, almost as if they pitied me.

The plows did not come through, at least not on my street. I am told this is not unusual, but it was still jarring to walk outside and see what looked like an ice rink that spanned several blocks. The snow fell, and it did not melt. More snow fell on top of it, and that didn’t melt either.

By early February, I felt numb, both physically and emotionally. Nothing was alive, and it seemed like nothing would ever be alive again. Everything was cold and gray. Colors no longer existed.

I bought a SAD lamp, but it was hard to even muster up the energy to turn the blasted thing on. When I did turn it on the first time, I was dumb enough to look directly at the light. Being rendered temporarily blind did nothing to improve my mood. At my lowest moment, a Lana Del Rey song came on the radio and I started yelling: “SUMMERTIME SADNESS? IT’S 3 DEGREES OUT, YOU MORON!”

Gradually, something shifted. A few weeks ago, I switched from my  heavy coat to my lighter coat (the latter being the only coat I really needed back in Texas). The snow cover started melting, and sleet and rain started falling instead of big, thick snowflakes.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I started leaving my coat in the car when I ran errands. This was around the time the sun decided to start peaking out from  behind the clouds again, around the time the clocks sprang forward and the sun started setting at 7 p.m. instead of noon.

Nowadays, I walk outside my house in the morning and feel like Dorothy leaving her tornado-battered house and entering the world of Technicolor that is Oz. There’s an asphalt street instead of a yellow brick road, and there are screaming schoolchildren across the street rather than Munchkins, but that’s OK.

There’s also no sign of a benevolent blonde witch in a puffy pink dress, but hey, it’s only April.



door’s open – walkens welcome

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Hateship Loveship

The trailer is out for Hateship Loveship, the movie based on Alice Munro’s story “Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage.” The film stars Kristen Wiig, Nick Nolte, Guy Pearce, and others.

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things you should know about cnn’s “chicagoland”


tonight at 10/9c, cnn will air the first episode of their original series, “chicagoland.”  because my employer was involved with some of the filming for this 8-part documentary, this past tuesday night i was able to attend a special debut showing at the bank of america theater in chicago.  based on the first episode that i saw, i would strongly recommend it to anyone interested in an insider’s view to how a modern american city works (or, sometimes, doesn’t).

their crews were given access to intimate & uncensored moments we members of the public rarely get to see, if ever: with the mayor, with the principal of a school which needs metal detectors, with the police chief, with grieving families, and—in the episode’s most haunting moment—with 10-year-old students who are literally scared for their lives just walking to school.

but, as someone who loves this city dearly, i want to give all of you not from chicago a viewer’s guide to the things that the cameras didn’t capture, or were edited out, or just plain weren’t explained…

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An Appreciation

philip-seymour-hoffman-portraitIn college, I remember writing “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we’re uncool” on a scrap of yellow paper—maybe a Post-It note—and carrying it around in my wallet because I needed to remind myself of the good news.

It’s strange to feel so attached to someone you didn’t know. I didn’t even know the personal details that some fans glom on to about the stars they love: ideology, philosophy, politics, etc. I didn’t know where he’d come from or how they’d mapped his rise to stardom. I only knew his work, and I adored him.

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On Rewatching Movies From Your Childhood

On Christmas day, while my brother and his wife were preparing dinner, my family told me to select a movie to watch. Because it was Christmas, I thought I should choose something happy and fun that didn’t involve serial killers. So I selected one of my favorite movies from childhood – Hook.

Rewatching your favorite childhood movies as an adult is kind of like meeting your favorite writer for the first time – you’re either going to be even more in love, or you’re going to be hugely disappointed. I know this. I’ve known this since I rewatched Never Ending Story a few years ago and Falcor appeared on the screen and I screamed, “OH MY GOD WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?”

That is what nightmares are made out of. It also might be the least dragon-like dragon I've ever seen. And adult me knows a lot about dragons.

That is what nightmares are made out of. It also might be the least dragon-like dragon I’ve ever seen. And adult me knows a lot about dragons.

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The (as if by magic) Masters of Sex

Masters-of-SexIt’s 2013, folks. We’ve got naked people on TV, pocket vibrators in the grocery stores, and a few ladies in the government. We are sexually enlightened. We’ve got this whole sex thing down.

At least that’s what I hear.

Thanks to our society’s complete acceptance of all things sexual, I’ve been enjoying a little show called Masters of Sex. In case you haven’t heard of it, it’s a Showtime series about the real sex research done by William Masters and Virginia Johnson beginning in 1957. I dig the characters, I want to chisel Michael Sheen a tiny Oscar out of my own dental fillings, and although the pacing was off at first, the interpersonal dramas are gettin’ good. But what keeps me coming back to the show is the eerie feeling I get every time I watch it that in spite of all the progress we’ve made, we haven’t really made much, well, progress.

Take, for instance, one of Masters and Johnson’s primary questions: Is there a difference between and a clitoral and a vaginal orgasm? Decades later, the debate continues.

The fact is, at least in the sexual arena, we’re not really masters of anything. Everywhere you look in sex research you find holes. Some small, others gaping. But for all we lack in understanding and even empathy, we at least try to make up for with endearing curiosity and (sometimes misguided) persistence. So today, with quotes from Masters of Sex as our guide, let’s celebrate some of the questions we’ve thought to ask in recent years, and some of the odd ways we’ve tried to answer them. Read more »

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