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Showing posts from January, 2012

At the End of the Day

Movie Review: The Iron Lady (2011)

Warning: this review features INTENSE FAWNING.

First, let me be clear: The Iron Lady is not a spin-off of Iron Man, although if it were, Meryl Streep would have us all convinced that a woman in her 60's can and will invent a suit of iron, get in it, and blast bad guys to smithereens, all while being attractively conflicted about her own role in the military-industrial complex, and sporting a devil-may-care attitude to hide her intense attraction to her loyal secretary.

...Excuse me, I must now write that screenplay.

(type type type)

All kidding aside, I went into The Iron Lady with no preconceptions and came out bloody moved. (Full disclosure: I was not yet born when she became Britain's first female Prime Minister, and I was a little kid during her days of ultimate power and glory.) The film is a loving answer to the question: what happens after power? What is it like for the formidable Lady Thatcher in her twilight days? Unlike the woman in the bathroom after the movie who …


Movie Review: Haywire (2012)

Gina Carano is badass. She stars in Haywire with a slew of excellent Hollywood male specimens, and beats the crap out of most of them. Her Mallory Kane is a sympathetic character -- she's smart, capable, beautiful, and a decent human being. Director Steven Soderbergh teams up with composer David Holmes, which is why the soundtrack is very Ocean's Eleven. Soderbergh also chooses to cut the music during fight scenes, so the sounds of grunting and fist meeting face and foot saying hello to solar plexus and body hitting the ground are available in their full, painful glory. There's plenty of tension, lots of shadiness, and, surprisingly, a ton of laughs. The target of Kane's wrath definitely isn't laughing as she races up behind him, but the audience was howling in anticipation of a righteous beating. And whoo, does Kane deliver!

Oh, and there might have been a plot in there somewhere.


Xīnnián kuàilè! Happy New Year!

Legend has it that the Moon Rabbit fell in love with a princess of the Kingdom of Woo, and it descended from the sky to, appropriately enough, woo her. The Moon Rabbit lavished upon his love many gifts, including a jade cut into the shape of a paperweight, a sapphire fashioned like a comb, and a bathrobe with inlaid diamond snowflakes. The princess cast her eyes demurely upon these gifts and protested that the Moon Rabbit did her too much honor, whereupon they totally got it on, please don't ask me how. When the time came for the Moon Rabbit and his princess to return to the moon, their children -- again, don't ask me how -- vowed to celebrate their parents' love every spring with a festival. And that, dear readers, is about as far from the true origins of Chinese New Year as I could manage. You're welcome.

Back in the real world, Boston is below freezing, driving above 40 mph is dangerous, and the howling winds of death come from every direction.

But I had been invit…

Phases of the Cat

The Land of the Rising Rice Cake, and Beantown

I miss Japan. I'm all natsukashii (nostalgic) for the good ol' times in Kyoto. I spent all morning parallel processing -- working on a spreadsheet and also wracking my brain to see which part of my year abroad rocked the most. So many things instantly come to mind: the mouth-wateringly delicious yet simple food (takoyaki, onigiri, donburi); the social acceptance of youthful raging alcoholism; the hyaku-en (dollar) store where I bought the cute tupperware that still gets compliments to this day; the all-night karaoke joints; the free packets of tissue passed out in street corners; the giant manga stores... AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH SO WONDERFUL

It could be any and all of these things, but I think it's the intertwining of nature and food that featured so prominently during my stay there. Lemme 'splain.

We once trekked up a mountain during fall to visit three temples. I remember a certain someone having to be bribed with chocolate to make that first daunting ascent up a sixty-de…


Let's Move! with First Lady Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama started the Let's Move! program as a way to combat child obesity in the US. Just to give you an idea, one in three kids in this great nation is a fattie. Not a cute fattie where you go, "Awww, I could just squeeze your chubby cheeks all day!" No, this is the kind of fattie where you learn to your horror that little Bobby is at extremely high risk for diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and asthma, although let's face it, everyone and their dog is at risk for asthma thanks to industrialization. But more about my three-step plan to eliminate noxious gases from the atmosphere via osmosis later. This post is about having fun while shaking your booty.

Mrs. O is game! Just check out this video:

Inspired by her example, I have now upgraded my morning routine to a Beyoncé dance. Previously, my SPAMER (SPoradic A.M. Exercise Regimen) consisted of pathetic attempts to follow a four-minute routine from Just Dance 3 via YouTube. Try "Boom B…

Some Light Entertainment

I managed to squeeze in some downtime between plotting world domination (phase 1: elaborate graphs), hacking up my lungs, and emotional eating. Dear readers, I share with you some stuff that entertained me this holiday season:

#1: It will make you go, "Ooooh" -- Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (2007)

Brothers Chip and Dan Heath take a break from teaching business to tell us about stickiness, a concept that they attribute to my very favorite author, Malcolm Gladwell, and by "very favorite" I mean "his very name makes me sneer in disdain." Made to Stick uses a lot of examples from the advertising, business, and urban myth worlds to make their argument that "sticky" ideas can be taught. My favorite example was the "Don't mess with Texas" ad campaign that proved effective in reducing roadside litter, by having Texas celebrities play on Texans' identity as non-litterbugs.

The authors' handy mnemonic tool is …

So Special

Note: Medicare is a US government program that provides health insurance to the disabled. Read more about Medicare!

Cold Like My Heart

Last night Sheba and I came home to a chilly apartment. At first I didn't notice anything amiss, because I immediately flew into a flurry of sweeping and mopping. Before you allow yourself to be dazzled by my dedication to next to godliness, let me add the disclaimer that 400 square feet only takes about 10 minutes to tidy up, before the next wave of hair, fur, and dust comes along. Anyway, I finished up, teeth-fully and facially hygiene-icated, and plumped myself into bed.

Then I realized it was cold. Like my heart. I checked and it was 56°F (13°C) inside my apartment! I cranked the thermostat to 70°, but couldn't hear the pinging sounds of my baseboard heater working. I shoved my bed aside and peered at the poptop control valve, which looks like a little box with a skinny lever poking out. I fiddled with the lever a bit and accidentally lifted the top of the box off, exposing the thingybob inside, you know, the doohickey connected to the pipes. It was warm. So why wasn'…

Cat Tranquilizer

Bring It, Cheesecake

I beheld my moon-shaped face this morning and knew that last night's fried apple cheesecake was laughing at me. The perfect roundness of my cheeks told a dark story of defeat, of a bitter battle waged and lost. My close resemblance to a dumpling was proof of the saying: "In old country, cheesecake consumes you."

The FAC (fried apple cheesecake) came courtesy of The Tavern in Central Square, where I dragged Boyfriend to because I felt entitled to comfort food after being unable to eat most of the day due to my body's vigorous attempts to expel phlegm via unstoppable coughing fits at work. My, that last sentence was so long it deserves to be written in Spanish. Pero no hablo español, so sad.

Moving on, prior to FAC, I'd had my beer of choice, a black & tan, and half of a grilled filet sandwich (thanks to McDonald's, I always thought filet was a type of fish). I also finished a side salad in between stealing chunks of Boyfriend's mashed potatoes. The gr…

Oscar Meets Sheba