February 2005 Archives

A Series of Unfortunate Events

I saw Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events last Saturday and rather enjoyed it. I've been reading the series, and had been wondering how they would make a movie based on the first three books that stayed faithful to the series and yet had a satisfying ending. Part of the point of the books is that there is no happy ending. The end of each book simply leads into the new misfortunes of the next book. They couldn't just wrap it all up in a little bow and be at all faithful to the books, and yet if they had ended it just the way each of the books do it would have been very off-putting for movie goers. "To be continued" rarely works at the close of a film.

I was pleasantly surprised at the method chosen. It certainly did not stay married to the original plots, but it kept the spirit mostly intact. There were one or two moment (especially at the end) that gave my eyes the urge to roll, but overall I found that it worked. Some of the charm of the novels was lost on the way to the screen, but there was enough charm leftover to carry us through.

I did not find Jim Carrey to be as annoying as I usually do. His Count Olaf, being a bad actor, was hammy but suitably hammy. He was leering and villianous, but in an entirely different way from, say, The Mask.

The children chosen for the leads were strong enough to carry a movie. (It seems that casting directors are getting the dream of the crop for child actors these days.) Of the Baudelaire children I liked Emily Browning's Violet better than Liam Aiken's Klaus. I'm not sure as to whther this was because of how he was acted or because of how he was written. I was also a little sad to see one of Violet's great adventure bits handed over to Klaus in the movie. (The twins who played Sunny weren't really required to do much more than look cute.)

I do recommend the movie, especially if you like kid lit and have read the books. If you do see it, stay to the end, as the closing credits are very well designed and deserve to be watched.

Oh, Honestly!

School Committee Votes to Ban Lowry Book In a 7-4 decision, media panel elects to remove "Anastasia Again" from the library; five other works are spared.

By Andrew Dunn
The Ledger

LAKE WALES -- Spook Hill Elementary's school media committee voted Wednesday to ban one of the six books by Lois Lowry that a parent found objectionable.

The book, "Anastasia Again," will be removed from the school's library and sent to the district office. The story, a chapter book for children 9 to 12, is the second in a series about the trials and tribulations of the title character, Anastasia Krupnik, a precocious preteen girl.

In "Anastasia Again," Anastasia finds out that her family is moving to the suburbs, much to her dismay.

The 11-member committee voted 7-4 to remove the book from the school's library. It voted to retain the other five books.

Lowry, the author, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Kristi Hardee, the parent who filed the complaints to have Lowry's books removed from the school, attended the meeting but declined to comment on the committee's vote.

However, in her complaint she objected to the book's references to beer, Playboy magazine and Anastasia making light of wanting to kill herself.


In the most controversial passage of the book, one Hardee and several committee members cited, Anastasia and her friend discuss a home movie her friend and another girl appeared in. The two girls ran on a beach with no clothes while one of their fathers filmed.

"Yeah, I remember," Anastasia tells her friend. "It wasn't [pr0n0] or anything, though. You were only seven years old, for Pete's sake."

"Actually it was probably a pretty good movie," her friend replies. "The sun was coming up and everything, and we were the only people on the beach. Except birds. Nobody ever got to see it, though, because my father made him destroy the film."

Spook Hill principal Matt Burkett, who serves on the media committee, objected to the passage.

"This flashback scene at the beach, that's the one that bothered me the most more than anything else," Burkett said. ". . . I am real bothered by that particular section."...

I read the Anastasia books when I was a kid, and loved them dearly. They felt real and they spoke to me and to my life in a way that many other books didn't. The idea that anyone would want to ban them just boggles me. People can be really small minded, and being parents or administrators doesn't make them any less so. If you don't want your child to read it that is fine. Why prevent everyone else's children from reading it?

I also muct say that I am bothered by the fact that a school principal said he was "real bothered". Should understanding of basic grammar be a requirement for the job? If 3rd graders are expected to know the difference between an adjective and an adverb, and when to use them, shouldn't their principal? It reminds me of the principal I met last year that used the word "confrontationy".

Movie Review...

...coming soon.

(I'm a lazy punk.)

Cutting back

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I eat way too much sugar, and obesity-linked diabetes runs in my mom's family. I have a 10-pound weight range in which I am comfortable and happy. I am currently maintain my weight with no problem, however I am at the very top weight in my 10-pound range.

I can't/won't eliminate sweets entirely. But I've come up with a rule that may get me into a better habit: until I have reached the bottom weight in my range, I am not allowed to drink soda or eat any candy with corn syrup (high fructose or otherwise) in it. If in doubt, I will assume that there is CS in it. I am leaving non-candy foods (and sweets like baked goods) out of this rule for now since I like ketchup too much to give it up, but I will try to limit my intake, and look for alternatives.

This will eliminate many of my candy-gorging options: no Skittles, no Twizzlers, no Jelly Bellies... most non-chocolate candies, in fact.

The truth is, it isn't just the sweets for me. I already refuse to eat things flavored with artificial sweeteners like Nutrasweet or Splenda, no matter how tasty they might be. So adding one more "not exactly sugar" sweetener to the list makes sense to me.

I'm not sure if I will include ice cream, ice cream toppings, or fruit snacks to the banned list.


If I qualify, this program could be really cool. I could get my teaching certification much sooner. I'm crossing my fingers.


1. Didn't get to bed till 12:30, had to get up at 5. Veeery tired.

2. Icky wet snowfall outside.

3. Left rear turn signal burnt out, so I seem like an asshole in traffic.

4. Went to the UW Astha research clinic for my appointment, and had to take 6 puffs of albuterol, even though I wasn't weezing, so was left very shaky.

5. When the sub office called, they had nothing but special ed assignments, none of them at Lake View.

6. Sarah, the study woman, was unable to find a vein in either arm, despite valient poking (it kept slipping away from the needle). Eventually she gave up and said she'd do the blood draw on my next visit.

7. Fuel gauge was a sliver above empty, so I stopped at a gas station. I put the nozzle in the tank and was about to go wash the windows, but it wasn't in firmly enough. The nozzle came rocketing out, spraying gas everywhere, including my skirt, coat, and gloves. Even driving home with the window open (in the snow) made me ill.

So, I'm rather glad I didn't take any assignment. My coat and gloves are hanging out to air on the back porch, my skirt is in the sink with some baking soda, and I am back in my pjs, doing the laundry.

Hurray for Monday.


Yesterday, I attended my first ever Badger sporting event. In 5 years of school and ten of Madison residence, the closest I had gotten was watching on the big screen at State Street Brats.

I had a free ticket in a corporate box, courtesy of MAGNET. It was fun to meet new people while watching the game. However, next time I would love to be down in the regular seats.

Unfortuately, it was not a winning game. The women's basketball team got trounced by Michigan State, 84 to 60. It was never even a close game, and the Badger defense seemed non-existant.

Still, it was great fun, despite the loss. Bucky and the band were a highlight. I wil definitely have to go again.


House of Flying Daggers was most excellent. Not as much obvious wire work as some of the others of this genre. There was certainly great leaping and jumping and spinning, but none of the characters floated in the air for three minutes, bounced off of rain drops, etc.

I really loved listening to the soundtrack. I think it was played up more (or at least I noticed it more) because the viewer knows that the girl is blind. The rustling of the bamboo, the clang of the swords, the thump of the spears, the crackling of twigs, and the rasps of breath...all of it caught my notice in a way that foley work rarely ever does. Not in a bad way, though. It wasn't distracting. Instead, it actually helped draw me in.

One outstanding way in which films like this differ from Western action movies is the use of stillness. Western action films don't tend to be still; when there isn't "snappy" dialogue or the sounds of gunfire and/or explosions, the pounding soundtrack takes care of the rest. There is no time for comtemplation.

Zhang Ziyi continues to be breathtaking. I love watching martial arts movies and seeing this delicate flower of a girl kicking ass and taking names. I suppose it is too much to ask to expect a movie were the lovers don't die. It wouldn't fit the genre. Still...I'm not ashamed to admit that I love happy endings.

Stars of the Silver Screen

I must admit that I have a terrible screen crush on Gene Kelly circa 1950. How weird is that?


As of this morning, my windows remain intact. The vigil will continue tonight, though.


In the past month, someone has started breaking into cars in my building's lot. Windows were smashed and radios were taken. Saturday night, my one of my landlord (and neighbor)'s car was hit. At this point, my apartment is the only one who hasn't had a car window smashed (some apartments have more than one car to them, but not every car has been hit. My landlord has about six vehicles, in fact).

After his window was broken, my landlord went out and got a powerful floodlight, which he set up in the yard, illuminating the lot. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my windows remain whole. I've taken the crappy face off my car radio, armed the annoying car alarm, and left lights on in my living room window so that it will be ambiguous as to when I have gone to bed. I'm hoping that and luck will hold me.

Dudes, there is nothing in my vehicle worth stealing. If I thought it would help, I would leave the door unlocked, to make it easier for you to discover that fact.

You Say It's Your Birthday


It's my birthday, too!

Ew. My eyes.

I really don't want to go into detail here, but suffice it to say that there are some people that you realy *never* want to see in fetish gear. (Which is why I've done a pretty good job of avoiding the Cardinal and the Inferno on certain nights for the past few years.) Seriously. Dude, pants are your friend.

Confessions of a half-assed coin collector.

I collect coins in a lazy way, and keep them in old Sucrets boxes. I pick them up as they come my way, but never make an effort. I've got bicentennial and state quarters, the new nickels, Susan B., Sacajaweea, Eisenhower dollars, wheat pennies, Canadian coins (don't ask me why), and assorted Latin American, European, and Asian coins.

Two weeks ago I found a Polish 10 Groszy piece in the dimes at work (just a little smaller than a dime), so I traded it for 10 American cents and took it home. Then last week I got a buffalo nickel when someone paid. Bought that one out of the till, too. I've never encountered a buffalo nickel anywhere other than coin collections before. I found that to be pretty cool.

Bowled over with misery

Second cold in a month. Nothing more to say.

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