Birdman

I only watched this movie because it won the Academy Award for best picture. Unsurprisingly, I found it to be thoroughly mediocre. I guess the award was because the voting members could see themselves or people they knew in the struggle of the celebrity-turned-stage-actor main character?

One annoying feature was the drum noise. It happened throughout, sometimes during dialogue, sometimes while characters were walking around. Yeah, there was an unnecessary amount of people walking — down the street, in hallways, back and forth on the stage, etc. Even more obnoxious than the drum noise was the attempt to cleverly explain it, e.g. the walking character would pass a guy drumming in the street.

There was character development that never amounted to anything. Details that had nothing to do with the main story and weren’t interesting or detailed enough to be side-stories. Too many scenes left me wondering, “what was the point of that?” This question was never answered. There was no point.

If a movie can’t have a compelling plot or an interesting story, I understand. Not every story can keep an audience interested just on the merits of its plot. Then at least the characters should be appealing. I should want to know what happens to them — I should care. And lacking both of those things, a move should at least be visually stunning. This movie offers none of the above.

The acting is mostly people getting worked up and shouting monologues at each other. The one worthwhile scene is when the main character’s daughter (played by Emma Stone) tells him that he doesn’t matter:

Actually, I think it’s a good message for everyone. Let’s say the movie wasn’t a complete waste of time. The moral is good: I don’t matter. You don’t matter. No one cares. Get over yourself. Or, to spin it in a more positive way, don’t let what others may think of you dictate what you do with your life.

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Cigarette cards: coronation series

Coronations in England were so fancy that each person even had an assigned outfit. It’s hard for me to tell someone important from servants just by looking. Well, except the guy with a horn, I guess.

Maybe the super fancy ones wear capes? Let’s bring capes back. Yes, indeed.

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Poor person fantasies

Someday, I’d like to read an essay by a rich person called “rich person fantasies” because I’d love to know what they fantasize about.

As for me, I’m poor. You might argue with me and point to a starving African orphan, but that’s no fun, is it? I’m poor by my own definition, we’ll leave it at that. For your amusement, these are the things I fantasize about, in no particular order:

A kitchen so large that even if I wanted to put every dish, pot, pan, cake pan, vegetable and spatula on a counter, I’d still have plenty of counter space left over to do gymnastics. A kitchen so large that I could have 25 people in it and none of them would have to touch to get by each other.

I’d have a washer and dryer inside my own house. The kind that dumps the washed clothes straight into the dryer and dries them.

Everything I own would work. The refrigerator roof wouldn’t be dripping water, the hall lights wouldn’t only turn on if the switches at both ends of the hall are in a particular configuration. The car wouldn’t make noises or smoke. My internet would be fast enough that videos don’t pause themselves and require a refresh to play again. I could stream NPR and not have to constantly press play twice to get the stream to restart.

I wouldn’t hear anything I don’t want to hear. No one’s leaf blowers, no arguments with gay lovers, no babies, no loud Indian phone conversations. Certainly not vacuuming from another house.

I would never smell anything I don’t want to smell. No one around me would sleep in their own urine. No one would ever smoke.

When I buy food, I won’t look at the prices. It won’t matter.

These are my fantasies. These things are what keep me feeling poor.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Okay, I guess I’m a little late. These are some valentines from my childhood. This probably dates me. That Lisa Frank one was from my bff in elementary school and I still have entire sheets of Lisa Frank stickers. Maybe that will be another collection I share with you one day, if you’re good.

I can’t find all the Care Bears and My Little Pony ones that I know were my favorites though. I must have put them somewhere special for safekeeping and then forgotten where.

My inappropriate urge this Valentine’s day was, well, let me let you in on a little secret of mine: I am good at exactly one thing. Shopping. I’m brilliant at finding good deals, at finding unusual or valuable things, and at finding the perfect present for someone. This Valentine’s day I found a purse that my ex’s new girlfriend would love. It’s right up and down her alley. I had to work to resist the urge to Snapchat him and offer to get it. Wow, awkward. But, if you ask any of my friends, I do this for them all of them — it comes naturally.

I guess I live in a fantasy world where people are friends with their exes and everything is sunshine and rainbows. I’ll settle for us all having a nice dinner together someday.

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Cigarette Cards: badges

R.A.F badges. I’m sad they’re in such poor shape. The stories on the backs seem interesting.

War decorations & medals. The King Albert medal was awarded to those who helped Belgians in distress. Oh, and it was awarded by the British monarch. Oddly specific.

Assorted badges.

 

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Gayssot Act

In practice, the Gayssot Act allows the French government to fine and imprison people for questioning the Holocaust. Historians questioning details such as the figure of 6 million killed, or the use of gas chambers in certain locations have come under fire because of this law.

Most arguments in favor of the law center on the assertion that historical revisionism, when applied to the holocaust, is motivated by anti-semitism and is tantamount to incitement of racial violence. Proponents believe that this law is a moral necessity more important than freedom of speech.

I see many contradictions. If it is correct to curtail freedom of speech in order to prevent social disharmony, wouldn’t it be more efficient for France to ban all depictions of the Islamic prophet Mohammed? After all, that has been at the root of more racial unrest and violence than holocaust denial has. If, as the law states, it should be illegal to deny or minimize crimes against humanity, shouldn’t it be illegal to deny the Armenian genocide? France did briefly have a law criminalizing Armenian genocide denial, but it was overturned after some pressure from Turkey.

In general, I don’t see the actual harm of holocaust denial as being serious enough that it needs government intervention. It’s more or less the harm of being offended: there’s no evidence that holocaust denial has caused any violence against Jewish populations. People deny the truth every day: there are the flat-earthists, those who believe the universe is 6000 years old or created in 7 days, people who thought humans co-existed with dinosaurs — the list goes on. Though their opinions offend me in their ignorance, they don’t do much actual harm. There are widely publicized beliefs which do result in actual harm, such as “vaccines are dangerous” — and it would make more sense for the government to ban these types of statements (because they result in actual harm and sometimes actual deaths) before banning holocaust denial.

In fact, I think such laws, when enacted to protect only very specific groups (though the Gayssot Act technically covers all crimes against humanity, has only been used to prosecute holocaust deniers) tend to increase racial disharmony. It’s an obvious question: why is the government giving this group special treatment? Why is freedom of speech more important than the Armenian genocide, but not as important as the holocaust? It looks like the French government privileges some groups over others.

For a more thorough treatment and similar conclusions, see this article from Humanity in Action.

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Christmas lights in France

I was in France this past Christmas, and I didn’t get enough pictures. This one is from the Galeries Lafayette in Paris. Their theme was “Noel Monstre” and I think you can see monster eyes all over the tree.

Here’s a video of the tree lighting:

Outside the Grand Epicerie of Paris were my favorite lights. (As if the bleu d’auvergne they have inside weren’t enough to make me a lifelong fan).

My church (La Madeleine) was dressed up with neon lights. It looked like a nightclub with all the strobe lights.

Not only colorful lights, but color-changing colorful lights.

The view from the entrance of La Madeleine is not bad either.

Here’s an obligatory picture of the tree in front of Notre Dame.

There was a strange bubble under the Eiffel tower, which housed a few trees.

It seemed most town centers had their unique set of lighted Christmas decorations. They weren’t all the generic strands of white lights looped around trees and lampposts. These were in Dijon’s town center:

There were German style Christmas markets but with an unusual twist. In France, there are rides. Sometimes just kiddie rides like merry-go-rounds, but in Dijon, there was a Ferris wheel.

There was a light show on the face of city hall. This part turned it into a gingerbread house.

And, as a bonus, here’s the little tree I got to help decorate at my boyfriend’s father’s house. Isn’t it sweet?

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Notes from a writing workshop

February 4, 2015

Not so much a writing workshop so far, but rather, a listening to other people talk about other people’s work… shop. Horrifying. Maybe I should try an online writing group… thing. I just don’t care about anyone’s opinions though. Maybe it’s time to go home, bury myself in Tumblr and blankets and write Holmescest.

There’s a man with a nasal-ey voice who has taken half the speaking time. Another man who shuffles his papers. A woman obsessed with getting published, insistent on reading one of her original poems to us. A black woman named “Edisa” who hasn’t learned about her indoor voice yet. And who is a little too fond of bright pink (she’s wearing 3 slightly different shades of it in her outfit). She commanded me to shut the door, but ignored me when I asked why.

The second man, loud shuffler. He’s chewing gum in an almost obscene way. He doesn’t seem to have top teeth so his jaw goes further into his head than it should. Up up up, whoa. His jaw crushed halfway into his face.

The obsessed-with-getting-published lady has left. Because she isn’t going to get to read her poetry out loud. She gathered her handful of short library pencils, her two grocery bags full of other bags and her grimy Timbuk2 messenger bag and left. She had fuzzy pilling on the back of her camel colored probably Old Navy peacoat. It made me determined to keep my coats well-shaven.

Black lady talking again. Sharing about herself: “I love to laugh, but it has to be funny.” I know more about her than I care to. She doesn’t know what “mod” means. She thinks “Pavlov” is a reference to uncontrollable desire, she doesn’t see how a narrator could possibly refer to characters as “the lady” or “the gentleman” unless the setting is Victorian England.

The nasal man writes like a poet but hates poetry.

Highlight of the evening: an Asian man told us that the last time he left the class, a shady stranger told him Market street was blocked because “there’s a suitcase full of body parts.” His was the only story I wanted to hear, and the only one we spent too little time on.

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Elephant Sushi Golden Gate

(Photo taken elsewhere… in the Mission)

Recommended: yes

A place that’s only open from 10am-2pm W-F has to be special. Elephant Sushi is tiny and easy to pass on the street. Though it’s in the iffy part between the Tenderloin and Civic Center, it feels far from that inside. Almost across the Pacific far. Inside, it’s calm and the staff is friendly — cheerfully answering questions about what to order. For me, the choice was obvious. The spicy trio:

I had been eating de-frosted cod for the week prior to this experience, so the buttery texture of the spicy scallop was heaven — melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Everything in the trio (salmon, scallop, and tuna) was very fresh. Hiding under the fish is just enough rice to be filling, but not enough to bring on food coma.

My boyfriend chose Bowl #2 with salmon, snow crab, walu butter fish, and avocado. Yes, it’s real crab.

Compared with my bowl, I found his a bit dull. The butter fish doesn’t have much flavor, nor does the snow crab. Perhaps I should’ve added soy sauce and/or wasabi. They also make their own pickled ginger in-house: it tasted closer to ginger and was thicker than the rose pink ribbons of it that are standard elsewhere.

The bowls are $12 each, and miso is an extra $3. Not bad for sashimi!

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Cigarette Cards: Flags

I’ve recently acquired a lot of cigarette cards, many from the early 20th century. I don’t know much about them, just that they’re great marketing. This would be my biggest incentive for taking up a habit like smoking, anyway. I’ll try to post once a week to share the collection. Today, the flags:

The really neat thing is that the backs have explanations. In particular, check out the description of France. It’s a synopsis of the relationship between France and Great Britain. As for the “close friendship” between the two nations, I know at least one Frenchman who might disagree.

Both of these first two sets from a series of 50. I sort of want to collect them all. I could almost justify it because they’re educational. Who knew Argentina’s coat of arms featured a red hat on a stick?

This last singleton is from a different tobacco company: Flags of the Empire. I think my entire collection was made for a British audience. This is another surprising thing I never knew. The Nigerian flag once had a Star of David? Was there ever a large Jewish presence there?

 

Until next time!

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