Archive for the ‘media & arts’ Category
Cheri and I had some extra energy, so we hopped off the couch and went for a drive. We ended up at Fountainhead Regional Park and Occoquan Regional Park. I took the opportunity to shoot away.
We were surprised by the ham that floated up to us while we were on the pier. I think he was used to people feeding the geese at the park. I was very close to him taking this shot. I probably could have reached out to touch him.
The rest of the photos from this group can be found on my flickr.
NPR has saved my morning commute.
Ever since I started at my current job, I’ve had to endure an hour long commute. Luckily, its against traffic, but still — an hour is an hour. I’ve more or less been content with listening to my iPod during these drives, but after a while I feel like I’ve listened to all my favorite songs way too many times. I don’t have the income to constantly buy new music to freshen up my drive.
This past week I started listening to NPR on my way to work. Specifically, I’ve been listening to 88.5 WAMU, American University’s NPR broadcast. During my morning trek I get to listen to Morning Edition and The Writer’s Almanac (hosted by A Prarie Home Companion’s Garrison Keillor). In the afternoon, I catch All Things Considered.
NPR’s news stories feel more in depth than any of the news bites I hear on television or elsewhere on the radio. I almost feel like I know absolutely nothing when I hear NPR go deep into the Middle East conflicts or critically analyze the current economic plight of our country. But NPR has a way to educate while it reports, which makes me feel more in tune with what’s going on in the world.
Now I want to get a radio to keep in the house to listen their other great shows like Car Talk, This American Life, and A Prarie Home Companion on the weekends (I could just download the podcasts, but I rarely sync my iPod anymore). I feel like I’m stepping backwards into a time when people listened and digested the news rather than just tasted news bites.
Consumer advocacy blog, The Consumerist, used my photo of a half empty (or is it half full?) peanut butter jar in a post of theirs regarding the peanut butter salmonella scare. You can see the post here.
The Consumerist has a flickr group wherein readers can submit photos of their own for possible use in posts on The Consumerist. This is the second time one of my photos has been used. It makes me feel tingly and special :-).
Last night, Cheri and I ventured out to see Clint Eastwood’s new film Gran Torino.
At the center of this movie is Walt Kowalski (played by 78 year-old Eastwood). He is a racist, retired Detroit autoworker who’s just become a widower. He is alienated by his family because he’s just seen as a brutish curmudgeon and he finds himself to be the only American left in his neighborhood filled with Hmong immigrants. After his sheepish teenage neighbor Tao attempts to steal his mint condition 1972 Ford Gran Torino in a forced gang initiation, he slowly begins to befriend the boy and his sister along with the rest of the Hmong community.
Walt is a man that’s always taken care of hostile matters himself. He’s a Korean War veteran who is haunted everyday by decisions he made there. As he begins to confront the hoodlums that are bothering his neighbors, he becomes a community hero. His actions may cause some problems, but he knows to fix them and does so in a very heroic way.
Eastwood’s performance and direction are top notch. I’ve never seen any of the Dirty Harry movies, but I have a feeling that he was channeling some of that performance here. Not only was his dramatic performance outstanding, but his comedic timing was perfect as well — allowing for a number of hilarious comedic relief moments to ease the tensions building in the film.
5 / 5
Amidst the rainy afternoon that was today, Cheri and I streamed Persepolis off Netfix.
Persepolis is an animated tale based on the autobiographical graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi. The movie recounts her experiences growing up during the Iranian Revolution in Tehran, Iran. Through Marjane’s rebellious young eyes, we witness how Iran transformed from a relatively free country to the radical and suppressing country many Westerners view it today.
By using animation that was in the same art style as the novel, the film presents the story flawlessly. The black and white with the ocassional hint of color allowed Marjane’s interpretation of Iran to come to life in a great way. This method reminds me of the sorrowful tones portrayed in other works like Schindler’s List or Maus.
Satrapi’s story made me realize that I had almost no knowledge of Iran’s history. The dichotomy of the fondness she holds for her childhood home versus the spite she feels for the government’s suppresive regime makes me want to explore more about Iran and the Middle East’s rich history.
3.5 / 5
Cheri and I hunkered down tonight to watch the bizarre indie comedy Hamlet 2.
This comedic farce is about a washed up actor who teaches drama at a high school in Tuscon, Arizona. His drama program loses its funding, and he has to go underground to produce his extremely obscene and deeply strange stage musical “Hamlet 2.”
The film stars Steve Coogan (you know, the director from Tropic Thunder) as the weirdo drama teacher. His sad attempts at inspiring his drama students (ala Dead Poets Society and Dangerous Minds) is painful to watch at times and only borderline funny. It felt that Coogan just kept trying too hard to make mediocre writing better than it really was.
The only truly funny part of the movie was during the performance of the rock musical number “Rock Me, Sexy Jesus.” Only in its absurdity and its self-aware campiness was I able to enjoy it. Too bad the rest of the movie wasn’t as funny.
Ray Bradbury had an amazing way at predicting the future (or was he merely observing the present) in Farenheit 451 (of which I’m currently reading):
Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of the state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information.
This statement describes the exact way our culture is today. We’re more concerned with Seinfeld trivia rather than the political issues surrounding our everyday lives. Its because we can feign intellectualism by quoting The Simpsons or spouting on and on about the life and times of Kevin Bacon. Today’s intellect is not about education or social justice — its about trivial knowledge that makes us believe we’re cultured.
Bradbury wrote these words almost 56 years ago and it has sadly come to fruition. I admit that I am susceptible to the trivial; I find it easy to learn and I have a knack for remembering it fluidly. But Bradbury’s words make me want to lessen how much time I focus on the these ‘facts’ and try to focus on more important things.