"Why can't women get called 'irascible'?" -- LA Times columnist Margaret Carlson backs up Barbara Boxer, who's getting jeered from all sides for having the guts to stand up to the Condi lovefest on the floor of the Senate. Right on!


Nice shoes. Posted by Hello Today's ? du Jour comes from The Man Who Fell Asleep, where there's enough procrast-o-pleasure to last 'til spring. Enjoy.
"In your fantasy, how do you take Senator Boxer's life?" -- As usual, Mr. Sun does a better job than anyone, in this case in concocting useful questions for the Condoleezza Rice confirma-/corona-tion this week. I often wonder a) how she sleeps at night, b) whether she has a little Colin Powell voodoo doll hidden in a desk drawer, c) which countries she's looking forward to bombing/visiting during her tenure, and d) why nobody has grilled her on her total lack of a personal life. Hey, people thought Justice Souter was a bachelor weirdo when he arrived at the Supreme Court, and even Oprah has Stedman...
"THIS SPACE FOR RENT" -- so claims NYTimes columnist Maureen Dowd in her weekly zinging of the Bush Administration: "Freedom means the freedom to be free from reading what you promise voters and other stuff." Yeah, that sounds about right.
"Backgammon! At last, a sport I am good at!" -- Just ran across the blog that Zach Braff, the goofy, winning actor/director behind the goofy/winning movie Garden State, keeps to reach out to all F.O.G.S. Enjoy...especially Kim! :)


Let's hear it for this dude! -- Diary of an Unfit Runner chronicles the nascent athleticism of one Steve Atkinson, an overweight Yorkshireman who's resolved to kick his fitness goals into high gear by training for this half-marathon. It's sort of The Full Monty meets Chariots of Fire...or something. Go, Steve, go!


Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes... Posted by Hello Enjoy a visitor from "cloud-land," as described by Wilson A. Bentley, the first snowflake research photographer. He captured this image in 1902, in his studio shed in Vermont during a blizzard. Amazing! We had quite a few of these last night, expecting a few billion more this weekend...ah, winter.
Today's Ticket Stub will feature some unapologetic spoilers, so if you'd like to see Million Dollar Baby without an inkling, you should skip ahead. This turned out to be a dark and strange choice for Ladies Movie Night, despite the spunky Hilary Swank and her inspirational abs. Just kidding, she more than holds her own with Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman in the acting chops department -- this is some of the finest work I can remember for a long time: each of them creates a moving, authentic character out of minimal, somewhat cliched material. Each takes the cliche (one-eyed washed-up has-been, prickly Catholic codger, spunky white trash girl with a heart of gold) and pushes it to a level of intensity and resonance that is the only thing saving the movie from its own outrageous melodrama. The reason you haven't heard a peep about the dark twist halfway through this movie is that nobody would go see it -- a "boxing movie with a girl" is one thing, but a "boxing movie with a girl who gets paralyzed in the ring and then spends the remainder of the movie wasting away before stoically asking her beloved coach to euthanize her" is another. Oh, and did I mention her estranged redneck family betrays her, and one of her legs gets amputated? Like I said, outrageous. Eastwood directs this with aplomb, though, and his character's psychic torment over the mistakes he's made and bad luck he's been handed brought me back from the edge of total skepticism. That's the key here -- this movie is about him, not about Hilary Swank, so be prepared for a dark "autumnal masterpiece." (B)
"Back off my Haagen Dasz, yo" -- that's what I imagine P.Diddy is saying in this Unintentionally Hilarious Photo from the Golden Globes. The one of Nicole, Naomi and Juan Valdez (!) cries out for a caption too...
"We have nothing to fear but dudes marrying dudes." -- Create a DIY Re-Nauguration Speech over at Mr. Sun, guaranteed to be far more entertaining than GWB.
Can I just say, I am hating BlogGRRR this week, it is just not working so well over here. Damn you, free service! It's been a newsy week in the Hub -- the Harvard Prez embroiled in controversy over his comments on "innate differences" between men and women in science and math achievement; a very strange terrorist warning; and rabid Patriots fans ready to riot in the snow on Sunday night. Whew...stay tuned.


Let's go to Saturn... Posted by Hello or at least one of the moons. This 1952 Time Magazine cover presages the actual landing on Titan last week by the Huygens probe. The surface looks a wee bit different, though.
My Pet Fat -- I was really, really hoping this was a joke.
Dave Barry, "a great brain" -- as the goofy humor columnist goes on hiatus, this Slate tribute suggests he take over for NYTimes uber-curmudgeon, William Safire. Hmmmm...
"It's important for me to see my children." -- What a concept! Yesterday's Globe Magazine featured some local 30-something dads who are putting work second to family time: home by 6, helping with dinner and bedtime, the works. I've worked with some guys (read: lawyers) who seem like they haven't seen their kids since they were born, and they like it that way. This is refreshing -- though not exactly rocket science, I mean, haven't women been juggling this whole work-family thing for 30, 300, 3000+ years? ;)
Ticket Stub -- Nat and I saw In Good Company on Saturday afternoon, and thoroughly enjoyed it, refuting each bizarre criticism of the Globe's Ty Burr: the lighting was artifical and harsh [hello, it takes place in an office], the actors were caked with makeup [duh!], the soundtrack was insistent and distracting [only if you're a grumpy old man]. It's a corporate satire with a light touch, and the excellent casting is what pulls it together. Topher Grace carried the movie as a sweet but needy go-getter searching for some purpose in life. I expect he'll get some juicy parts out of this. (B-)


Darth Tater! Posted by Hello It's real -- what more can I ask for? God bless you, Hasbro!
Despite my ongoing effort to avoid dwelling on the torrent of bad news spilling from every media outlet these days, some stories shouldn't pass without comment. Here at TAI, we're committed to bringing you the pithiest, most succinct and most cynical encapsulations possible. Enjoy:

1. WMD'oh! Oh, you mean we were right all along? Whee. I expect sincere apologies from all those people who gave me the finger while I protested for peace...any minute now...

2. In this ridiculously litigious age, why why WHY were people still allowed to live on this hillside?

3. Am I the only one who thought Prince Harry's costume was...well...sort of funny? Offensive too, but hello, the theme of the party wasn't exactly P.C. either.
"There is a Pavlovian brilliance to the remote control." -- If you, like me, have a brand new TiVo at your house, you might not want to read this deep and troubling article on TV and our culture of "preference fetishism." Gulp.
What decade is your personality living in? -- Hey, it's Friday. Drumroll please...I'm a 90's girl: "You've always been rational, sensible, even a little cynical, but you've never lost sight of the fact that life needs to be fun. You like unpretentiousness and hate it when an obscure artist you like sells out." OK!


Right on, GW! Posted by Hello Today's ? du Jour comes from the twisted brush of Dutch artist Kamiel Proost, who likes to jazz up U.S. currency thusly. Sometimes art is against the law.
Lunchtime Sightings -- or today, the lack thereof. We have some serious fog going on along the Rt. 3 corridor...outside my window it looks like the scariest TV movie ever, "The Hound of the Baskervilles." As I drove over to Trader Joe's at lunch, I couldn't see beyond 100 feet ahead, and with the excellent Julie Kramer cranking out classics like "Somebody" it was easy to pretend I was in some forgotten 80's video.
"Hell, there's been more textual evidence that Serena was an Orthodox Jew than a lesbian up 'till now." -- Hmm, I guess that's true. For those of you who did not witness the hilariously over-the-top plot twist that ended last night's Law & Order, check out the comment boards over at Television Without Pity. The good news: assistant D.A./Fembot Serena Southerlyn was unceremoniously fired. The bad: she promptly came out, at 10:59! OK then.


"I don't care what shoes you're wearing, you're still Puerto Rican!" -- Well, OK then. Non sequiturs aplenty at Overheard in New York. I think my Boston version of this would divide neatly into these categories:

1. Collegiate Foolery: "Darren, wait up! WAIT UP! Ohmygod, you guys, WAIT UP FOR ME! Ohmygod, I am so out of it right now!" -- Weekend night shouts outside my off-campus bedroom window
2. Townies: "That was the weeahdest movie I've evah seen." -- Disappointed Bill Murray fan after opening night showing of Rushmore in Woburn, MA
3. Yuppie Hell: "Uh, she'll have a cosmopolitan and I'll have an Amstel Light." -- Generic bar patron couple, Watertown, MA
4. Sox and the City: "Hey, it's Johnny Damon! Nice wig!" -- Passerby commenting on Nat's semi-costume for the Red Sox Victory Parade
5. Bad Parenting: "Well OK, I guess we can get a slice of pizza now, but what about the salmon I bought for dinner? Won't you eat the salmon with me?" -- Mom pleading with her manipulative 12 year old son in checkout line, Burlington, MA
Scottsboro, Alabama -- home to the mythic Unclaimed Baggage Center, where the airlines unload baggage that never makes it off the carousel, and the goods inside are sold cheap. It's real!
A quick shoutout to my friends in L.A., which this week stands for Lots of rAin -- stay safe and dry, people, and please watch out for 25-foot wide boulders! :-0

Be very afraid. Posted by Hello This is Guy Womack: retired Marine, defense attorney specializing in court martial proceedings, lifetime Houston Rodeo member, concealed handgun expert, SCUBA diver, and NCIS interrogation methods instuctor. He's the one defending Charles Graner in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse trial. And he's the one who said yesterday, of this little tableau, "Don't cheerleaders all over America form pyramids six to eight times a year. Is that torture?" Um, no.


Inaugural Ticket Stub feature -- I've decided to keep closer track of my movie-viewing here on TAI, since this is the closest I've ever come to keeping a regular "journal," and of course it's all for your edification/amusement/holy pursuit of procrastination, so sit back and enjoy. I saw 48 movies in a theater in 2004, and while most of them appear in Nat's excellent movie diary, I'd like to do my own capsule reviews since, believe it or not, we're not always in total agreement. :)

So far in 2005, I've seen The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and Ocean's Twelve. I am a total Wes Anderson groupie, thus I loved TLAWSZ even more on this second viewing. Anderson has a way of crafting a miniature, gimcrack universe populated by semi-likeable weirdos that utterly charms me. Sure, others find this dull, precious, or just plain annoying, but I'm a sucker for magical realism and to me his movies are all about misfits creating their own more colorful version of reality. I love the music, I love the bizarrely nostalgic sets and costumes, and I especially love how the dialogue swoops erratically from goofy ["Hook this thing up and make me a latte"] to poignant and revealing ["What happened to Jacqueline?" "She...never really loved me"]. This one comes it at #2 on my all-time Wes List, after Rushmore, of course. (A)

I would've given OT a much higher grade if the last third of the movie hadn't fallen apart. I had heard mixed reviews and didn't have very high hopes for the flick -- but then it started out witty, cleverly plotted and paced, moving along winningly...to the point where I was ready to declare it better than the first installment. But right after the big meta-Julia Roberts scene, which I liked, it comes crashing to a halt and the plot ceases to make sense. Nat and I puzzled over the plot twists all night and ultimately decided we didn't care enough to sort them out, and neither did Soderbergh, apparently. Like all his movies, the ending feels abruptly tacked-on, and the glitzy camaraderie of the preceding two hours quickly fades. Disappointing. (C+)

Update: Saw Kinsey for the second time last night, and once again it gets an (A). Liam Neeson is so engaging as the nerdy yet sexually free professor, and Peter Sarsgaard leads the supporting cast as the eager yet sly research assistant/boytoy. Laura Linney is great as usual, though her role is a bit small. Most importantly, Bill Condon manages to evoke the repressive post-war era and make subtle comparisons to our own without being dull, preachy, or obvious, a feat in the biopic genre.
"Gandalf and Yoda would probably not get into a bloody no-rules fight to the death, but if they did -- oh man." God I love Mr. Sun.
La Procrastinista strikes again -- doing Kim's Special Event Friday Five on Monday afternoon! This is a good one...

Who is the most famous person you have ever hear speak in person? Unfortunately, I think it's Ben Affleck, who dabbled in the Democratic National Convention by appearing at a delegate breakfast I was volunteering at and making a total ass of himself ("God bless you! And God bless New Jersey!"). Other, far more compelling speakers include Doris Kearns Goodwin, Sister Helen Prejean, Barak Obama, and South African anti-apartheid leader Albie Sachs.
What is the largest audience you have ever addressed? Probably my law school graduation, where I helped read the names as the diplomas were handed out. This is how I wound up being the last person on the list...
What is the fanciest event you have ever attended? I volunteered at a couple AIDS Action fundraisers that were pretty lavish...and my second experience as a bridesmaid was beyond formal.
How many weddings did you attend this year? Three! All were gorgeous, one was in the pourning rain, one was in California wine country, two involved an ex of mine, all three had incredible food. Woohoo, bring on the matrimony in '05!
Would you attend the presidential inauguration if invited? No way, not even to chain myself to a buffet table in protest. Well...


Whose hippo are you? Posted by Hello I don't know about you, but I for one could use a little good news. Thus the story of Owen the orphaned hippo, and his new best friend Mzee the giant tortoise. This feels like a classic children's book in the making...


What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it? -- another provocative anual question from Edge.org, the interdisciplinary genius think-tank. Some of my favorite responses: global warming is real (duh...), cannibalism and slavery were prevalent in prehistorical societies (hmm...), the universe is infinite, animals have feelings, and there is a God and it's not me (or you). Woah...
"Honoring service is what our theme is all about." -- Hang onto your lunch and read this quick interview with Jeanne Philips, head of the Inaugural Committee that's spending $40 million on parties for a re-elected incumbent this month. That doesn't include the cost of security at the event, either. I'm sure the kids in Iraq who were eating in that mess tent (because the mess building wasn't completed yet) really appreciate this. And speaking of the tent, it appears the suicide bomber who blew it up was a Saudi -- will the Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar still be invited to party with the Bushies? You bet.
"Your luminous round bossy chum" -- that would be Simon, #41 on this list of 100 Top Old-School/British Toys. Ah, the memories...Chutes Away! Stay Alive! Mastermind!

A lot of ketchup. Posted by Hello Yup, that's what I need to do around here, after two weeks of holiday revels and flu-like symptoms. Is it really 2005, halfway through the decade already? Eeeep.


It's never too late to finish Kim's 2004 Roundup, right?

Part 2:
What was your biggest achievement of the year? Teaching a 13-week seminar on intellectual property law at my alma mater, Tufts U. Can't wait to do it again...
Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Aside from the usual suspects like Bush, Rumsfeld, and the shameful Tom DeLay, I'd say the mainstream news media was the most disappointing thing about 2004, for their utter lack of journalistic tenacity in the face of all the PR spin on the war, the election, celebrities, etc.
Where did most of your money go? Bills, bills, bills -- especially student loans, ouch, and health insurance, double ouch.
What was your favorite TV program? Chung-chung!
What kept you sane? This man. And all my friends, family, kitty...and blog, of course.

and Part 3:
What was your favorite film of this year? I'm going out on a limb here and picking Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban over my close runner-up, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Discuss.
What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned an untrustworthy 30 this year, with help from Kim's uber-theme party for me and a surprise visit from my whole family...who gave me a Crock-Pot, awwwww.
How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2004? In need of an overhaul, both in style and in organization...resolution #1!
What kept you [healthy] in 2004? Working out at this place.
What political issue stirred you the most? Despite my many Election'04 rants, I think the Darfur refugee crisis is the most serious and troubling issue of the year. I feel for the tsunami victims, but it bothers me that private donations can be raised so quickly for them, and not for less dramatic (or photogenic?) disasters like Darfur, or AIDS in the developing world. Sigh.