September 29, 2012

Best Twilight Comment Ever

As we watched Breaking Dawn Part I last night, and Bella defends her decision to carry her baby against the  pleas of Edward and others:

Jay: Wasn't this all decided in Roe v. Vlad?

September 22, 2012

Flesh Tone, by Kelis

I would never have picked up this album if I hadn't heard a cut on So You Think You Can Dance. The cover art is not my thing and I'd assume the same about the music. But wow. I love this album. It is soulful, smart, tuneful, and I listen to it approximately three times a day.

September 20, 2012

Anna Karenina

The movie with Keira Knightley (directed by her Atonement / Pride & Prejudice director Joe Wright) comes out in October. So I'm reading the novel for the first time and trying to pay attention to what makes Tolstoy such a master. He's a great storyteller, but I suspect that his portrayal of the psychology of everyday social interactions was his real innovation. Those little missteps that make a person blush, the feeling of seesawing between something going well and suddenly feeling all wrong.

September 17, 2012

Kenneth Branagh's Greatest Role?

One critic claims so, and I'm not sure about that. But I do know that he is amazing as Kurt Wallander. I'm late to the Masterpiece Mystery game on this one, but I read some Wallander novels long ago, and I can't imagine a better actor for the role.

Example: A man comes out of a trailer with a shovel, smacks Wallander's partner on the head, she drops, and Wallander looks up in shock at the man, still holding the shovel, a little bit in shock himself. Wallander looks at him wide-eyed for a second, and says "Drop it."

I'm sure many an actor would have delivered that line with a fierce "Drop it!" But Branagh says it quietly and yet utterly convincingly. He's a pro.

September 10, 2012

Caitlin Flangan

Flanagan is a writer of articles for publications like The Atlantic and an author of full-length books, like To Hell with All That: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife. She tends to get flogged as anti-feminist, and in person she can be a bit cloying in her insistence on traditional values. But while you (and I) may think that her defense of traditional family structures is problematic, there's no denying the truth in much of what she writes.  To Hell with All That is full of dead-on insights, like how our (modern, white, middle-class) culture tries to strategize our way out of the shortcomings of our (modern, white, middle-class) life. We schedule date nights rather than just having sex already; we look for tactics to create a sense of family togetherness that used to emerge from simply spending so much time together. I've read scathing critiques of her work that blast her for being contemptuous, but half of what she writes about is how contempt for old-fashioned ways of life has impoverished our understanding of how to create a healthy, happy home. I'm not a big fan of contempt in writing about culture, but it seems unfair to call her out for that, when it's the most salient feature of most such writing today. Plus, she is funny as hell.

September 4, 2012

I Don't Know.

The Dark Knight Rises was kind of a mess, and I'm tired of

1. Seeing New York bombed

2. Being asked to be afraid of a big sicko.

On the other hand, I do like

1. Christian Bale

2. Anne Hathaway's scornful smirk

3. This guy