spears redux

Friday 29 February 2008

I’m not usually in the kind of place that sells a magazine with a name like “Blender” (I don’t recommend following that link but kind of felt obligated to put it there), but I had to get some prescriptions filled, so I found myself in just such a place today.  I’m not sure why it caught my eye, but there it was: Britney Spears on the cover.

I was a bit surprised and curious as to why she she had posed for such a cover in “her condition” (I was going to put a link to that, but I didn’t really feel like looking up articles about Britney Spears on the Internet — I’ll let you handle that if you want to), but I only needed to read a little bit of the cover to discover exactly what had happened:

“TRUTHINESS ALERT: THIS COVER IMAGE IS A COMPOSITE PHOTO.  BRITNEY DID NOT POSE FOR THE PICTURE THAT, SADLY, IS NOT HER BODY.”

It gave me quite the chuckle, to be sure — but I had, in fact, picked up the magazine, right?  Wasn’t that there intention?  Isn’t the cover supposed to be selling the magazine, right?  If I were a little more free with my money, I might have actually bought it (or read the article in the store).  I didn’t actually read any more than the cover, so I’m kind of wondering if the body double even gets any credit.

In a way, I suppose it’s a comment on our culture in itself: You want celebrities?  We’ll give you celebrities, no matter what we have to do to give them to you (be it Photoshopping one together for the cover of a magazine or chasing their vehicle at racecar speeds in order to get a picture in edgewise).

Let’s just quit the idol worship and realize that there is way too much to be had in our own lives to be wasting time worrying about what’s going on in the lives of those we’ve only seen on a screen or in print.


mismatched socks

Wednesday 27 February 2008

As I continue to think about simplicity (see here) and continue less and less to care about what others think of my looks (see here), more and more things doors seem to open for me to try, especially when you’re up for using some creativity.  I’m big on practicality, so I try to do things that are practical even if they might be seen by others as odd or “weird.”

One of those things lately has been socks.  Living out of a suitcase, I had room for only so many things, one of them being socks.  Last year someone got me wearing short white socks instead of longer “tube” socks, so for the winter here I decided to bring a mix of both.  For the “style,” I suppose, I’m supposed to wear the super short socks, but when I’m biking, I like to wear a longer pair so I can tuck the bottom of my right pant leg into my sock (in itself a defiance of style) so they don’t get caught up in the greasy chain.  However, sometime last month after about a week or so after doing laundry, I realized I had run out of pairs of long songs.

So I did what every thinker of common sense would do: I decided to make the long socks last longer by wearing a long white sock on my right foot and a short white sock on my left foot each day.  In effect, I doubled the amount of days I could successfully tuck my pants into my sock before I ran out of socks and needed to do laundry!  And that got me to thinking more about sock in general — why do we match socks?

I’m a pretty particular person when it comes to sock matching, and just because they’re long and white doesn’t mean they’re a match in my book.  But why must we even match socks?  Why not just have them in a nice drawer (or pile) where you can pick out two to wear, and that’s that?  We talk about socks disappearing in the dryer or wherever they go, but if we never matched them, it wouldn’t really matter (if we noticed at all).  Why not wear a long green and white striped sock and a short blue one?  Does it really matter?

Like so many things, we’ve been cultured to think in a certain way under a certain framework, but why not examine that framework, even to the minutest scale?  If we don’t ask questions, then what’s the point?  As Socrates said: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”  True that.


on dental hygene

Monday 25 February 2008

a question: can floss be reused?

We use one piece to go through our entire set of teeth, so who’s to say it’s not good for (at least) one more go round?


my 2008 oscar picks

Saturday 23 February 2008

So if you haven’t figured it out yet, I totally L-O-V-E love the Oscars, so I thought I’d share with you who I think will win (different from who I’d choose — maybe that’s more a post for post Oscar night). And if you still want to get in the action and it’s no past 4PM Eastern, you still can. And if it’s too late, try not to forget next year :)

And while you never know exactly what order they give out the awards in, I guess I’ll guess that, too! Play along yourself, and see how well I do! Let me also tell you just how many films I saw in each category, too, while I’m at it. And if you’re really good (at math or something like that) you might even be able to figure out some of the movies I didn’t see based on how many of each category I did see.

Looking down on my list, I’m a bit disappointed in a few things: compared to some other years, I don’t know if I did as good of a job getting to movies. I could have easily seen all the Best Picture nominees, but got lazy with Michael Clayton. Except for my refusal to see Russell Crowe in Master and Commander, this will be the first time in many years since I haven’t seen all 5 Best Picture nominees before Oscar night.

I only saw 5 of the 10 screenplay nominees, a number I will hopefully add to post-ceremony, and a sad number for the writer I claim to be. I am happy that I got to see all the short animated and live action films (today, actually, I went to see them @ a theater in DC), but there was no documentary shorts program to see, which was very disappointing (maybe after the ceremony). And only seeing 2 of the 5 documentary features, I also feel like I’m missed out on something. I can always saw I’ll get to them, and others, on video/DVD, but that rarely happens, especially with the plans I have in the coming months before the next batch of Oscar films hit the theaters this fall. And it also looks like I neglected the foreign films, but as someone said, the good ones actually didn’t get nominated, so I don’t blame myself in that category too much.

Enjoy my picks!

Actor in a Supporting Role (2 of 5)
Javier BardemNO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

Art Direction (2 of 5)
THERE WILL BE BLOOD
actual winner — SWEENEY TODD THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET

Costume Design (2 of 5)
SWEENEY TODD THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET
actual winner — ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE

Actress in a Supporting Role (2 of 5)
Cate BlanchettI’M NOT THERE
actual winner — Tilda SwintonMICHAEL CLAYTON

Makeup (0 of 3)
LA VIE EN ROSE

Visual Effects (0 of 3)
TRANSFORMERS
actual winner — THE GOLDEN COMPASS

Music (Original Score) (1 of 5)
ATONEMENT

Short Film (Animated) (5 of 5)
MY LOVE (MOYA LYUBOV)
actual winner — PETER & THE WOLF

Short Film (Live Action) (5 of 5)
IL SUPPLENTE (THE SUBSTITUTE)
actual winner — LE MOZART DES PICKPOCKETS (THE MOZART OF PICKPOCKETS)

Sound Mixing (1 of 5)
THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM

Sound Editing (2 of 5)
THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM

Film Editing (2 of 5)
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
actual winner — THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM

Documentary Short Subject (0 of 4)
SARI’S MOTHER
actual winner — FREEHELD

Documentary Feature (2 of 5)
NO END IN SIGHT
actual winner — TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE

Writing (Adapted Screenplay) (3 of 5)
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

Writing (Original Screenplay) (2 of 5)
JUNO

Foreign Language Film (0 of 5)
THE COUNTERFEITERS

Music (Original Song) (1 of 3 movies, 5 total songs)
FALLING SLOWLY — ONCE

Animated Feature Film (1 of 3)
RATATOUILLE

Cinematography (3 of 5)
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
actual winner — THERE WILL BE BLOOD

Actress in a Leading Role (2 of 5)
Marion CotillardLA VIE EN ROSE

Actor in a Leading Role (1 of 5)
Daniel Day-LewisTHERE WILL BE BLOOD

Directing (3 of 5)
Julian SchnabelTHE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
actual winner — JOEL COEN & ETHAN COENNO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

Best Picture (4 of 5)
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN


the hands that have prepared it

Friday 22 February 2008

Last night I was in a group where a prayer was said before the meal. Now the pray-er said many thanks, including thanks for the food and “the hands that have prepared it.” Now I have heard that phrase hundreds of times before, but it struck me as odd this time because the two people who had cooked the food had already been mentioned by name. So even though it was probably just a few perfunctory words from the pray-er, it got me thinking: “Did she mean to pray for them again, or did it mean something else?”

And right then and there I realized how restrictive my thinking had been (as many of our thoughts tend to be) in including only the chef as the preparer of my food. I thought of the worker who had picked the lettuce and peas and broccoli that made up my salad. I thought of the farmers who had planted the various ingredients that had combined to make my dinner. I even thought about the people at the store and the drivers who transported my food as being necessary for my dinner that night.

Do you stop to think about where you food comes from? Maybe the recent beef recall has made you think at least a little bit about what your food goes through before it hits your plate. And maybe not. In all likelihood, you read the story and maybe saw the video, got disgusted, but soon forgot about it — maybe even before your next meal. I still vividly recall seeing the horrible conditions of many chickens raised for eggs and meat while watching the documentary The Natural History of the Chicken in a morning film class and then walking to the dining hall to feast on one of their best meals: juicy, sauted chicken breast. I saw the food and saw the irony of the situation, but at that moment I wasn’t yet ready to eliminate animal flesh from my diet (that came about a year later).

But what of “the hands?” The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is a Florida group fighting for fair wages for the work they do to bring us a portion of our food. According to a recent Oxfam America post, workers earn only about $4.50 an hour on a good day. The CIW had been fighting with Taco Bell and McDonald’s for increased wages, a battle they won, but Burger King has yet to agree and continues to stall the process.

Whatever the reason, we are a people who have a hard time seeing beyond the immediate. In addition to the conditions of workers in our own country, we fail to recognize the horrible conditions of children and others in virtual “slave labor” factories around the world. We turn away from the atrocities of people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine (among others) who suffer in the face of occupation forces. We recall not the homeless as we crank up the heat in our houses with rooms no one uses and forget the homeless as we throw away food because we took too much from the all-you-can-eat buffet. “Out of sight, out of mind.

So I encourage you to think about the implications of all your actions. Check the labels to see where your clothing was made. Investigate the route your food took to reach your plate. Read the stories of the oppressed, share what you read with your family and friends, and they go do something about it. Let us not feign blindness by merely closing our eyes or act like we don’t hear when we are really only stopping our ears.

There is work to be done; go and make a difference so that others might soon give thanks for that which your hands shall prepare.


join me at the oscars

Wednesday 20 February 2008

Since people who aren’t me usually don’t care about the Oscars until they actually happen (if they care at all), I figured I’d repost this a few days before the big event to give you the opportunity to once again challenge me to pick the winners of the 2008 Oscars, since we now know the show will actually happen!

Go to the Oscars website and sign in or sign up so you can join the “Predict the Winners” game. (Your name and password would be for any of the following, if you have them: Disney.com, ABCNEWS.com, ABC.com, ESPN.com, DisneyShopping.com, Go.com, Movies.com, FamilyFun.com). When it asks you to pick a group name, search for “Anyone, Really” and join that group. I hope to see a lot of you there! (And it’s nice to put your name in the entry name in some way so we all know who is who. :) )

And if you’re in DC and want to join me for the evening, do let me know — I’ll supply the popcorn and television!


the people in your life

Tuesday 19 February 2008

Ever since my blog about 1 million Iraqis being killed in the past 5 years, I’ve been thinking about whether or not I actually might know a million people. The perfectionist in me wants to make an excel spreadsheet list of all the people I’ve met (and remember enough to write down) in the past 25 or so years of my life, but the realist in me knows that would take quite a while and probably not be worth it in the end — and it would likely become just another list I’d want to keep track of as I meet more people, kind of like my ever changing imdb.com list of movies I’ve seen (those I want to see but haven’t just aren’t rated).  Plus, it would kind of be sad, deconstructing the humanity of relationships into simple spreadsheet.

So instead of turning my life into meaningless statistics, I instead try to think about all the lives of others that have intersected mine. There are definitely people I’ve been in the same room with that I’ve ran across but I would not say I “met” and certainly never “knew” them. And there are surely people who’ve “known” me but I never had contact with — those students for who my name came up in conversation and who were aware of my presence but for who I wasn’t their teacher would be one example. If you let the idea of “knowing” someone require the act of an introduction and/or conversation having taken place, the list becomes a little more exclusive, but even then I’m still amazed at the variety and abundance of people I’ve met and places I’ve met them.

School is one of the larger segments of ways I know people. Since I went to such a small school containing pretty much the same people K-12, perhaps I know fewer people than others that way, though with that small town, too, I came to know most of the people in the community in one way or another, and they can’t be forgotten about. I also know a lot of people form college — classes, dorms, and students groups — and if facebook would have came around a few years earlier, I might have a better estimate of just how many people that might have been.

Church and groups with a spiritual aspect are definitely another big connection for me. I’ve attended (regularly) about 4 churches in my life and have built lasting relationships with people in all of them. I’ve also attended many conferences, retreats, assemblies, and gatherings where I added more people to my “list.” I’ve met and formed many amazing relationships with those associated with Lutheran Volunteer Corps — volunteers, LVC staff, and the many people I met during my trip or otherwise recruiting for LVC. And this section would in no way be complete if I didn’t mention Camp Mowana. I’ve probably worked with around 100 people who were on staff while I was there, and then there are the hundreds, if not thousands, of campers and pastors/volunteers who I met during my time as a counselor. Because I have an issue with names, many of those campers would probably be slighted in a name-specific list format, so that’s another reason not to make one.

And then you have all the other somewhat random ways in which I’ve met people — parties, game night, community organizing, friends of friends, rugby/curling/frisbee/etc., jobs/work not listed above — I’m sure I could name many more ways. I invite you to reminisce about the many people who have stepped in (and maybe out) of your life, making it what it is today, for they are the ones who have truly brought it joy and meaning.

And I invite you (as always) to leave some of your comments about ways you’ve met some of the people in your life and why you find them special — be as specific or as general as you’d like, but I think it’s good to really give credit to those who make this life worth living.