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Archive for May, 2008

I just got back from watching Nanette Burstein’s American Teen advertised as a documentary version of The Breakfast Club. The film follows four teens during their last year of high school in Warsaw, Indiana.

It’s amazing how formulaic high school is. Warsaw High was the same as my high school only with different players and I could readily tell you what the names of the characters would be if this was my high school.

There was the spoiled popular rich girl who selfishly can only think of herself. This movie rang so true that even the most popular girl at school isn’t really that pretty. Why is that? Next was Hannah, the attractive and quirky alternative girl. Similar to Juno, Hannah gains the attraction of a jock– who unfortunate for him can’t come to terms with the fact he fancies a girl that’s different. Finally the nerd, Jake, whose social skills mask an otherwise sensitive guy, and then there’s Colin the nice basketball player.

This film gives you a nice trip into the past as you remember your own youth. The emotion in these kids is so on the surface. They have no idea how easy they are to read.

I never liked high school and I couldn’t wait to get away. Thankfully I didn’t have it that bad, I just knew that I didn’t fit. I knew that there was more to life than being popular for dubious reasons. Where are they now? Jennifer? Stephanie? David? Michael? Where did they all go and what happened to them?

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It seems that Starbucks in suing the Rat City Roller Girls because their logo looks too much like Starbucks’. Well I love the Rat City Roller Girls’ logo and here are some of my other favorite Seattle logos.

1. Essential Baking Company

2. Pagliacci Pizza

3. The Seattle Storm

4. Caffe Ladro

5. Uptown Espresso

Update:

6. Fuel Coffee

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Remember 4 years ago when all the networks played over and over the video of Howard Dean after the Iowa caucus. His wheeee replayed hundreds of times over several days probably had a lot to do with his poor showings in the primaries.

Yet John McCain acts like a crazy man and no one is replaying it over and over. Look at the 2:10 mark of this video. The way he shakes and quivers while say he will never surrender in Iraq. Anyone watching this can see he is deluded and mentally ill at least so far as Iraq is concerned. So why aren’t the networks playing this clip over and over?

Compare:

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Pen-Ek Ratanaruang is perhaps Thailand’s most internationally known director. His last film Last Life in the Universe was an indie hit here in America. What strikes me most about this director is what a great visual story teller he is. His characters have sparse dialog. The audience is mesmerized by the pace, photography, music and mood that is created. It’s extremely subtle and very watchable.

In Ploy, we see a couple in love and then perhaps not in love at all. You never really know what is real and what isn’t, what is a character’s fantasy and what really occurred. Even at the end, I wasn’t exactly sure what had happened. Midway through the film, you get a completely out of place Thai pop song performed by a character in the film who turns to the camera and in doing so breaks the fourth wall of theater. It’s a great film if an odd one.

I’m not sure I liked it as much as Last Life in the Universe, but I definitely preferred it to 69. You can watch and listen to music videos and learn more about the film here.

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Here’s a clip from Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s Last Life in the Universe. Tonight I’ll be watching Ratanaruang’s latest film Ploy.

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So the mayor of Seattle, Greg Nickels, wants people to stop buying bottled water.

“Americans used 60 billion pint bottles of water last year,” said Nickels. “That required 1 million tons of plastic and generated 2.5 million tons of greenhouse gases.”

“What flows from our taps is some of the finest-tasting, purest-source water in the world,” he said. “That’s why it makes little sense for Seattleites to waste their money on bottled water.”

I completely agree. I love Seattle tap water and I have lived places where I didn’t like the tap water.

But if Nickels wants to encourage people to drink tap water then he should ensure that people have an alternative source. The only reason why I ever buy bottled water is if I am outside of the house and I’m thirsty. Anecdotally, I can say that the number of working drinking fountains in the city has been reduced.

Take for instance this photo from the new Seattle Art Museum Sculpture Park. There used to be a water fountain here for users of Myrtle Edwards park, but it was removed when the Sculpture Park moved in. Why it was removed, I can’t say. But it looks like there is a water source in the vicinity.

So my question is why are public drinking fountains disappearing and what can we do about it?

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Quite frankly, I don’t think that the people who say they think Obama is a Muslim really think that. I believe it’s code for we don’t feel comfortable electing a black man as president but we can’t think of a good reason. If they do, then I have to wonder how gullible are they in other matters.

So here are some comparable falsehoods.

  1. O.J. is innocent.
  2. The Apollo moon landings were staged.
  3. Dick Cheney is responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
  4. There were WMDs in Iraq when we invaded.
  5. Iraq was responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
  6. There are really nice men in Nigeria who need you to cash a check for them and who will pay you handsomely for the service.
  7. The AIDS virus was created deliberately to infect African Americans.
  8. Elvis is alive.

I bring up these ridiculous falsehoods to show what category you are putting yourself into if you believe that man would go to a Christian church for twenty years of his life pretending to be a Christian when he was in fact a Muslim with the stray possibility that maybe, just maybe he would run for President of the United States some day.

Please feel free to add more urban myths to the list. And if you still think Barack Obama is a Muslim, may I suggest you visit this site.

Update:

Via Politico:

Jonathan Martin and I wrote last week about the deep, viral spread of a variety of myths about Obama’s beliefs and his behavior.

And indeed, according to Pew (.pdf), about 10 percent of Americans believe Obama’s a Muslim; other surveys have found higher numbers.

One relevant piece of context: Large minorities of Americans consistently say they hold wildly out-of-the-mainstream views, often specifically discredited beliefs. In some cases, those views should make them pretty profoundly alienated from one party or the other.

For instance:

22 percent believe President Bush knew about the 9/11 attacks in advance.
30 percent believe Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.
23 percent believe they’ve been in the presence of a ghost.
18 percent believe the sun revolves around the Earth.

What this means: Obama may well be elected president with a substantial minority of the citizens despising him and convinced that his beliefs are irreconciliably foreign to theirs. Which, after all, is the current state of affairs. It’s only that the people who believe those things about Bush and the people who believe those things about Obama live in different parts of the country.

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Perhaps the most polished of the films I’ve seen thus far at SIFF, Fumihiko Sori’s Vexille is a great example of science fiction. In the future, Japan has withdrawn from the UN because of international law that they not make androids. Japan isolates itself with a complex security system called RACE that prevents any country in the world from spying and knowing what exactly has become of Japan.

As a child, I would pretend I was a woman fighter like the character Vexille. This movie gave me the opportunity to fantasize once again.

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A movie in English that is dubbed into Hungarian with English subtitles. I just saw at SIFF Opium: Diary of a Madowman. Unfortunately the dubbing was so distracting I was unable to enjoy what might have been a good film. The film stars Ulrich Thomsen and artist Kirsti Stubo and Stubo is fantastic.

Here’s a trailer for another film with Ulrich Thomsen, Adam’s Apples. I notice this film is on DVD in your average video store. It’s dark comedy at its best and also stars the great Mads Mikkelsen. Don’t judge by the clip. This is a good film.

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The Arctic Building is associated with one of the lesser-known facets of the Klondike gold rush–the formation of social institutions for the men who returned from the Yukon gold rush after “striking it rich.” Though most who headed north found no gold, a small percentage did return to Seattle with more than just memories. The Arctic Club, originally located in the Morrison Hotel, provided an exclusive social community for those Seattlites who had returned from the Alaska Gold Rush with money in their pockets and a repertoire of stories to tell about their adventures in the Yukon. In 1916, they commissioned A. Warren Gould, one of the city’s most prominent architects, to design the building that would become their institution’s new home.

This building will soon be used as a hotel/condo.

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Each year in Seattle during the Memorial Day weekend, the Folklife Festival takes place. Folklife is a celebration of international folk music and arts. An odd location, no doubt, for a shooting. What is the world coming to?

I’ll be going to Folklife tomorrow, and I hope this incident won’t have soured the festival. For any gun nuts reading this, the guy had legally obtained this weapon.

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Elite Squad

Yesterday I saw Elite Squad at the Seattle International Film Festival. It was perhaps the most disturbing movie I’ve ever seen. About a special police force that wars with the drug lords, this film was as fascist as they come. The message of the film: these cops are the only non-corrupt ones in Brazil and they will torture and kill in order to accomplish their mission of bringing down the drug lords. Oddly enough, marijuana was the drug of choice in this film with a bit of cocaine thrown in.

I was surprised how the Seattle audience gave an uncomfortable giggle when the Elite Squad brought a broom to sodomize a man. Truly disturbing.

The film was unforgiving to rich kids who smoke pot though. There was definitely a classist message and it was almost impossible to like these kids because they kept quoting Foucault. Elitists, indeed.

Was it otherwise a good film? The direction and photography were great and I liked the actors, but I can’t get over the overall message.

I’ll be attending films for the next 3 weeks while the festival continues .

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It seems Alex Ferguson is a little upset that Real Madrid are openly wooing Cristiano Ronaldo to play for them. Best quote:

United have sold David Beckham, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Gabriel Heinze to Real in recent years, but Ferguson insisted the case of Ronaldo was different.

He said: “Yes, we sold them Van Nistelrooy and Beckham but we did that because we wanted to.”

Ouch. Not too flattering for Nistelrooy or Beckham and further proof that Ferguson has a sixth sense about football.

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Last Call is a Seattle organization whose mission is to reduce alcohol-related driving accidents by encouraging ride sharing and cab rides. I saw this ad on a bus today and thought it was interesting. First of all because James Dean was in a car accident, and second because James Dean appears to be played by an Asian American. Unfortunately, this was the largest photo I could find.

You can see what your supposed to do with this poster.

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Yes, that’s a highway in between this sign and the waterfront.

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I agree with Dave, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a great movie. So Dave, this Burt’s for you.

You have to appreciate an odd film like this which includes a song completely out of the film’s historical context. But it works somehow.

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard in this election that Democrats are going to raise taxes and that the single most defining thing about the U.S.A. is not paying taxes. Ignoring infrastructure does indeed have costs.

Transportation officials’ concerns that fixing or replacing a Minneapolis bridge would be a “budget buster” may have led to bad maintenance decisions before its deadly collapse in August, a report released Wednesday concluded.

“Financial considerations, we believe, did play a part in the decision-making” over repair of the bridge, said Robert Stein, who oversaw the report prepared for lawmakers by the law firm Gray Plant Mooty.

“Sometimes it’s easier just to take the least expensive alternative or just commission another study,” Stein said.

For example, instead of a $40,000 ground-penetrating radar survey of the bridge deck in 2006, engineers dragged a chain across the span to listen for unsound concrete. The radar test, an internal e-mail notes, “was not completed due to lack of funding.”

That same year, officials from the state’s bridge division examined rehabilitation and reconstruction options. In meeting minutes, they noted that a replacement bridge would cost $75 million or more, a project they concluded would be “cost-prohibitive” and not in the cards for 20 years.

In 2004 and 2005, presentations assembled for top-level department meetings had the Interstate 35W bridge on a list of “budget buster” bridges, referring to the major spans that were due for costly renovations or replacements over the next 10 years.

The new bridge, expected to be completed by this fall, will cost at least $230 million.

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I think it’s a valid question that the pollsters should be asking. Clinton scores well with white working class voters without a college degree, especially in the Appalachian region.

Many voters in Clinton’s base core say they won’t vote for Obama unless Clinton is the V.P. Would the voters in Appalachia do the same? Would they like Hillary Clinton just as much if she were the Vice President for an African American President?

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I wouldn’t call myself an avid sports fan (with the exception of tennis) but I do nonetheless end up watching a lot of sports. More for the symbolic significance of sports than for anything else. For instance, I support Celtic instead of Rangers (I like Catholics), and in the English Premier League I support Tottenham because the Hotspurs make me think of Henry V.

Today being the Champions League Final, I set out to find a place to watch the game in downtown Seattle where I work. Migliore is bar far your best bet. It’s an Italian café that resides where Torefazzione used to be before Torefazzione got bought out by Starbucks. They only bring out the TV for soccer, and the great thing about Migliore is that since it’s a café, you’re not tempted to order a beer. Which could in turn be a bad thing.

But Migliore does not have wireless internet, and in a ridiculous attempt to get some work done, I decided to try somewhere else. I called Tap House Grill, an interesting fancy pants tavern in a basement location where once Planet Hollywood used to reside. Yes, we have wireless internet they said. But upon arriving and once again confirming that they had wireless internet I ordered food only to find out that it the internet didn’t work. We tried to tell you when you called but you hung up, they said. Oh really. Did you try and tell me when I arrived and asked again. It’s sometimes spotty, they said. Spotty as in it doesn’t work? That’s not really spotty is it? As anyone who has a home wireless internet knows, unplug it and re-plug it. Sheesh.

So I headed over to World Sports Grille. Don’t you love that e on the end of Grille? Must be a classy place. When the server asked if I wanted something to drink, I asked her if I could first check to see if I could get any internet. She had no problem with that, but the restaurant itself had no internet. As I was checking, she asked again if I wanted anything. I told her I didn’t want to order and then find out I had to leave. She said that she could get me water or something, and that she didn’t mind. So kudos to Lynda at World Sports Grille. Her kindness went a long way and I decided to stay even though sadly I could not connect. I can’t say much for the Asian chicken salad though.

Probably the cheapest place to watch soccer in downtown Seattle is your local gym. These days soccer is shown on basic cable, so as long as you don’t find yourself sharing the gym with a rabid As the World Turns fan, you should be okay.

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I’m on a bit of a Paul Newman kick right now. A few months back I saw Slap Shot for the first time and last night I saw Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Here’s a clip from Slap Shot with the famous Hanson brothers.

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Whoever takes the presidency in November will have difficulty finding a solution to the mess of Iraq. Though perhaps one individual may be worse than the others, Obama, McCain and Clinton are doomed to failure because this administration never considered part two of playing war.

In reference to the prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay here’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates explaining there is no good solution for releasing the prisoners.

Efforts to close the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are at “a standstill,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates told a Senate subcommittee Tuesday.

“The brutally frank answer is that we’re stuck, and we’re stuck in several ways,” Gates told the defense subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday.

Gates said that he favors closing the detention center, which currently holds about 270 detainees, but that a number of problems stand in the way.

For one, Gates said, there are about 70 detainees ready for release whose home governments either will not accept them or may free them after they return.

He referred to former Guantanamo detainee Abdullah Saleh al-Ajmi, who killed himself in a suicide attack last month in Mosul after being released from Guantanamo in 2005.

Who can say if this man would have blown himself up had he not be imprisoned? I can imagine that a lot of anger would have built up over the years being held. As for the the fact that some governments may free these men — if we don’t have enough to charge them with a crime how can we expect their home countries to.

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When you click on this link you find out that the friend is Warren Buffett. I think Warren Buffet has accomplished enough in his lifetime to be valid on his own.

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Actually idiots don’t apologize.

It says a lot about our president that the BBC puts “Bush apology” in quotes. I don’t get what the issue is with Bush. Being a leader sometimes requires that you have to have uncomfortable conversations that may include gasp! apologizing. That’s what real leaders do, and quite frankly people who live in this crazy thing called a society have to do it all the time. It’s called diplomacy and it’s required for people who don’t live as hermits. I know that must be difficult for a spoiled brat like Bush, but it was he who decided to play president so he should learn how it’s done.

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Don’t be fooled by the cute little kid in Deniece William’s video “Let’s Hear it For the Boy” from the Footloose soundtrack. This song is about a woman and her adult boy toy. He’s not that talkative and he can’t do much, but by golly he gives her the best orgasms. Don’t believe me? Lyrics here.

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In his own words, John McCain tells us what his judicial philosophy is. I am struck with how the current president and John McCain really do speak in code. He never uses the word abortion yet there is no doubt that the primary purpose of this speech is to ensure that he will appoint the same kind of judges that have approved bans on some abortions. Instead he uses more widely agreed upon examples of undesirable decisions like the following:

A local government seized the private property of an American citizen. It gave that property away to a private developer. And this power play actually got the constitutional “thumbs-up” from five m embers of the Supreme Court.

And then there’s this knock on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals:

Then there was the case of the man in California who filed a suit against the entire United States Congress, which I guess made me a defendant too. This man insisted that the words “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance violated his rights under the establishment clause of the First Amendment. The Ninth Circuit court agreed, as it usually does when litigious people seek to rid our country of any trace of religious devotion.

John McCain cannot be more specific when he says:

I have my own standards of judicial ability, experience, philosophy, and temperament. And Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito meet those standards in every respect. They would serve as the model for my own nominees if that responsibility falls to me.

There probably isn’t a person out there who isn’t disappointed in our Supreme Court in some way although those ways may be drastically different, but I think the above shows McCain’s willingness to continue the tradition that George W. Bush has set — however favorably or unfavorably you think that tradition may be.

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