30 December 2002

Didn't see Bond, but saw Catch me if you can, which was very good. Tom Hanks is brilliant, and the music is quite good. I'm not a big Leo fan, but he did ok, though he spent too much of the movie as an unpleasant person for me to actually like him. There are also a lot of very memorable lines, and some nice Harvard references.

29 December 2002

Yeah, the main page is finally working!

Yes i've seen the Two Towers, my favorite line: "That doesn't make any sense to me, but then again, you are very small." Anyway i liked it, but not as much as the first one. The level of acting in this one wasn't nearly as high, probably because Boromir is dead, and Gandalf isn't around much. Gollum was surprisingly good, thought they nailed the whole frodo-sam-gollum-ring dynamic. Eowyn has some great dresses... Well those are my random observations. Oooo, my favorite crazy special affects observation: in helm's deep the valley is surrounded on three sides by mountains, two sides are real, and one side is not. I didn't notice this the first time i saw it.

Gotta run, more later
Yup. I'm going to try to persuade Robby to see Bond tonight. (He's seen it and I haven't.)
Haven't seen any Two Towers discussion here yet. Have we all seen it?

Speaking of Tolkein, we rented Fellowship on DVD a few weeks ago, and while watching it, I was struck by the most unintentionally hilarious line in the entire series thus far: the description of the Ringwraiths as roaming the countryside "disguised as riders in black."

Because those riders in black don't look the slightest bit suspicious....

27 December 2002

Saw The Godfather for the first time tonight, with my Dad and his wife. The running commentary kind of got on my nerves: "This is a famous scene." "Who's that actor?" "The car's going to explode." I managed to remain silent.

26 December 2002

My theory is our cutting-edge social and political commentary threatens the traditional media establishment and so they brought us down. Are other blogs working?

23 December 2002

Anyone more tech savvy than I have any idea why this hasn't been publishing for the past week or so?
My brother AJ, the hot one who is 14, has the Sims on his computer so i decided to try it out. My first shocking discovery is that it isn't heteronormative. I'm also told you can marry multiple people. The best story though is that my friend Ben (from high school) founded a Sims orphanage by inviting families over and then locking in the parents with furniture until they died and then raising the kids, so he had two dozen orphaned kids. Sick and twisted, yes... But also brilliant.

21 December 2002

Terrific article from the Globe and Mail about Daniel Day-Lewis, who gives what is easily the performance of the year as Bill "the Butcher" Cutting in Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York. The highlight of the article, for me, is the scoop that Day-Lewis prepared for the role by listening to loads of Eminem...which, if you've seen the movie, rings absolutely true. The bit about his apprenticeship to a Florentine shoemaker is interesting, too.

As for the movie itself...on an emotional level, admittedly, it never quite connects, and DiCaprio doesn't provide much of a heroic center...but if you just sort of sit back and let those ripe images of decay and bloodshed wash across you, after an hour or so you may find Gangs slowly exploding and expanding inside your head like a mushrooming bullet. I was vaguely disappointed throughout much of it, but after it was over, I couldn't wait to see it again (and I probably will, before the weekend is up). At the heart of it all is Daniel Day-Lewis's amazing performance, which seems to have sprung full-formed from some twisted Zeus's brain: part Thomas Nast cartoon, part Dickensian silent villain, but weirdly human and affecting. For all its problems, Gangs of New York is more of a movie than anything else I've seen all year, even if it's easier to admire than to love.

20 December 2002

Everyone, please let me know when you've seen the Two Towers so I can start talking about my likes and dislikes.

Regarding Yao, it's too early to tell. He could snap his knee next week.

Now, as for the article in the Weekly Standard saying that this Lott thing actually helped conservatives, I have to say I'm very suspicious. Yes, it was the conservatives who fanned the flames to get him out of there, and some of that was probably righteous outrage at his comments. But they still don't have a clue about minority identity politics. If black people still think they're being discriminated against in this country, which they do, there's no reason to expect them to flock to the Republican party, especially the neoconservative wing, which is basically telling them: "there's no discrimination in this country, we've created a level playing field, if you don't succeed then it must be because of some problem on your part, so stop whining." I think that the Lott thing gives Democrats a tremendous opportunity to shore up their black base if they get out the message that they are actually in touch with the problems that black Americans face today.

Incidentally, I think a big part of Bush's (and Reagan's) edge with white voters is his ability to play identity politics with them -- they don't agree with (or really understand, for the most part) many of his policies, but they identify with him as an honest, patriotic guy and he gives them a sense of pride with his bold stance on terror, so they support him.

18 December 2002

I'm going to have some courage and step out and say i was wrong: the rockets were right to take Yao over J Williams.
So, I hope this doesn't sound disrespectful or anything, but...is Strom Thurmond completely senile yet, or what? I'm honestly curious as to whether his silence on the whole Lott issue (now in its second week) is the result of political prudence, or of genuine mental enfeeblement. (He certainly didn't look too well in the recent Onion infographic that preceeded the controversy.) If there's been a sound bite or statement by Thurmond that I've missed, by the way, please let me know.

For those interested, The Smoking Gun has a copy of the actual Dixiecrat plaform on which Thurmond ran in 1948. It's basically what you'd expect.
An Onion-caliber article on the situation.
Here's a great post of Matt Yglesias on balistic missile defense. Of course you all already read him every day, so there really wasn't a point to my posting this.
Here's an interesting article in the Daily Standard (link from instapundit) on why this Lott situation was such a good one for conservatives, and why the right wing jumped on him so quickly.
Oh dear...only four months, and already California has become synonymous with America in Noah's mind. I'm pretty sure that most states do not have laws prohibiting smoking indoors.
"The happy, flexible clique with an undertone of sexual tension." A totally foreign concept...
One funny story from the concert... Right after the Counting Crows came on i saw this huge puff of smoke a few rows in front of me and thought "they're smoking indoors? How rude... This is america, you can't do that!" and then a few seconds later as the smoke wafted about I realized they were smoking pot and my first reaction was "oh, that's not nearly so rude"...

The odd thing is I think this reaction is relatively common, it is also somewhat strange.
Matt Yglesias posts on this article from the Weekly Standard on the sociology and dating ethics of Ivy League students. This article does have a lot of astute observations and is roughly correct. Having read the Two Towers today, this article really gets me thinking about whether there's some epic battle going on between good and evil as to whether love really matters or if we should just all devolve into selfish transactions... And I find that there are fewer and fewer willing to fight and be hurt for love. And I find myself wondering whether the wounds are really worth it or whether I'm about to turn traitor to the enemy...
I saw the counting crows with toad the wet sprocket tonite in san francisco. Toad was not quite as good as I'd have hoped, however, any show that ends with the line "we don't even have pictures, just memories to hold, that grow sweeter each season, as we slowly grow old" has my stamp of approval. The Counting Crows were great as always. The first half of the show they did acoustic which was great fun. Adam was in a great mood, and they were clearly glad to be back "home" in northern california. I wonder whether Adam Duritz being happier than I is something i should worry about, but at any rate tonite was a great time.

16 December 2002

The New York Times Magazine has come out with its annual Year in Ideas issue. For the first time, I read through all of the ideas, and there was a lot of cool stuff, and a lot of scary stuff. One idea of note is Cup Holder Cuisine, which announces that Kellogg's is marketing cereal containers designed to fit in cupholders. They have not, however, discovered a good way to let someone eat the cereal without a spoon. Alec, does D.E. Shaw do inventions?

On the scary side, Climate Jumping, Material Support, Remote Controlled Rats, Robotic Warfare, and Total Information Awareness all sent shivers down my spine.
If i were an investigative reporter right now, the story i'd be trying to track down is a good recent pete rose betting story. something like, yeah he bet on baseball: last month.

15 December 2002

Another one for the "wait, you mean that isn't an Onion headline" books:

Demi Dating Bill Clinton

(thank you fark)

Here's a piece of bizarre Sept. 11 news.

It seems as though this woman, who was reported missing in the Trade Center attacks, is actually alive and well. The problem is, she hasn't bothered to notify her mother. So, you get this weird article where they tell you where the woman is living and then quote the mother as saying that she should still be considered missing.

Even though the woman's relationship with her mother is "strained," it still might behoove her to call her mother, at least this once. Then again, one might wonder why she would want her mother to think she's dead...

I met an older couple on the campaign in Florida when they came in and volunteered. They did so because the Congresswoman was helping them find their missing daughter. The problem: she was eighteen when she went missing. And she's been missing for 20 years. And, as our congressional staff had learned when they tried to help these people get their daughter entered into the missing persons database, the couple could get very nasty and abusive. Now, they might not have been abusive before they lost their daughter, i.e. they could have become embittered by her loss, but they could also have been that way when the daughter was growing up, and then the daughter could have just taken off one day and never looked back. Again, something to wonder about...
I would say that this country is still enormously segregated. Wasn't self-segregation the reason for housing randomization at Harvard? Of course, in most places, we can say that it's self-segregation and people could move to a different neighborhood if they wanted to. I would venture to say that that is not the case in Mississippi, at least not in Trent Lott's hometown. From my brief experiences in rural Florida (which was not, by the way, the deep South), racism was just sort of expected. There were areas where black people knew not to go, and there were areas where white people never went. (We sent a bunch of white Washington staffers into some of the black areas to get out the vote, and they were probably some of the only white people who've been to these places in a long time.) Race wasn't talked about too much, but when it was, there were a lot of off-the-cuff comments that I would call racist. One of my co-workers had been invited to a Klan meeting by a girlfriend's father. So I'm sure things are much better now than they were in the 50s, but that doesn't mean they're gone.

14 December 2002

So in recent years i seem to have developed this habit, sometimes purposeful, sometimes not, of reading books in appropriate locations... The Name of the Rose in front of the pope's palace in Avignon, the hunchback of notre dame in said belltower, the chapter on the wreck of the medusa of the history of the world in 10.5 chapters in the louvre, AHBWOSG in berkeley, etc. Today I added another, on my way to pick up counting crows tickets from this guy in emeryville (the guys from SF but we were meeting halfway) i was reading some James Baldwin short stories on the emeryville bus...

I must say with all the hoopla about Trent Lott and all the self-congratulation in the blogosphere about how so few conservatives are still pro-segregation, we may have forgotten the fact that, even in the liberal fantasy world of the bay area we're still pretty much segregated. Even for someone like me, with a black younger brother, who went to a black church every other month, who rode the city busses accross town all the time in highschool, it still feels like visiting a foreign country to take a bus to emeryville. Not like visiting china or something, but like say England. Everythings a little different, people talk a little different, I constantly stick out like a sore thumb, etc. People are friendly, and I'm friendly, but in the way you're friendly to a foreigner... Its sad to think it, but segregation is still pretty alive and well in america, and if its like this here, i can't imagine what its like in mississippi.

13 December 2002

Here's a post by someone other than Noah.
Here's a good apology:

Correction: Because of inexcusable misreading and poor note-taking, in Wednesday's column I took a sentence out of context from Eugene Volokh's article on the Second Amendment in the National Review. When Volokh wrote "Shouldn't courts read the Second Amendment as part of an evolving Constitution?" he was posing a question someone had asked him. He did not endorse the evolutionist perspective, but argued against it.

I apologize.
So this afternoon I was reading the diary critic'sold entries and finding interesting online journals... The two best so far are Soap which is really quite a fascinating read and makes me nostalgic for the college life i never had. Somewhat soap opera-ish, but fun to read in a very guilty pleasure sort of way, exactly the sort of way reading someone else's very private diary should feel. The other one is Soliloquy, which is written by a surprisingly intellegent and literate 14 year old, but with at least the usual amount of 14-year old screwedupedness, and reminds me of the highschool life i did have (as in the friends i had, not as in me). I'm a sucker for using "innocence" and "regret" to mean back and forward respectively. This recent entry on cutting was really powerful and made me squirm (nohting bothers me as much as slow violence... well nothing except the last half an hour of vertigo) and makes me more and more worried about how on earth i'm going to manage to be a passable parent to a 14 year old girl. Sometimes I wonder if this can possibly be a real 14 year old, or if its just someone writing a fiction to keep in practice for novel writing, but its too real, and looking back i remember people who were smart and articulate then and whose diary's just might have looked like this.
So while away at a party tonite I had an away message saying i was at a party, which prompted the following message from a friend:

Maybe I can assume that the fact that it is now 4 in the morning and you have not come back from the party means that you have found the girl of your dreams and are having a wonderful discussion curled up on her sofa....
Or that you are roaring drunk and having an animated arguement about Rush and appologies to a cat skeleton somewhere.
Or that you are asleep under the desk of the host of your party and that you will wake up, have no idea where you are, stand up and bump your head and have the most prodigious headache when you get up.
Or that you suddenly decided that you *must* go to New Zealand and hopped a midnight flight there. I should be getting a post card in a matter of weeks.

Two questions:
1. do i ever do anything interesting enough to warrant that sort of speculation?
2. is converting time zones that difficult?

12 December 2002

I wish someday after I die I could go back and read all the letters written to me which were never sent.
Prudie reveals a real-life example of Bunburrying.
Clarence Thomas speaks in oral arguments!! A shocking development. He apparently gave a long impassioned speach on why cross burning should not be considered protected speach. As usual How Appealing is all over the matter. As usual Dahlia Lithwick is funny and brilliant.
The onion is wonderful...

11 December 2002

Wow, you know you're in trouble when... Rush Limbaugh says:

"What Lott said is utterly indefensible and stupid. I don't even want to attempt to explain or defend it. Yes, there's a double standard on this stuff, but you have to take this into account before you open your stupid mouth."
Good post on what makes for a real apology.
Apparently 10 year olds nowadays want cell phones... This is the first time i've begun to realistically worry that my children will think of me as a backwards technophobe since although I will have highspeed internet I just don't agree with this whole mobile communications thing... and who knows what the next craze will be..
Unlike some sites who actually get lots of readers, we publish all letters to the editors, whether critical or not:

First off, since "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," I mean to
flatter you sincerely, not surely. Surely this is so.

Second (off or on or wherever), the title of my blog is "EDF's Eatery
(half-baked words)." What you quoted was the blog description. Will I
always be misunderstood? (sigh)

Sincerely (I swear),

10 December 2002

Imitation is the surest form of flattery... Our dear friend Ezra has started a blog. Its titled "New words learned, written, read, and argued over" which is very aptly Ezra-ish, as is the rest of the blog, as well it should since it is Ezra's. Have a surf on over.

09 December 2002

The Paper of Record has this article on a study claiming that people are more likely in a video game to think that a black person is carrying a weapon than a white person (as opposed to objects like cell-phones). Since the difference is so small, i wonder whether anyone's thought of chalking it up to how much more visual contrast there is with a white hand holding a gun than a black one... It'd be simple to test, just have them put gloves on. (please no OJ jokes.)
I can't believe this... its the Belief-O-Matic
Great wine quote from cooped up:

This is a wine to scare neophytes and small children—its flavors are unusual and vaguely savage, not at all like the pure fruit flavors that frequently emerge from California. But it's really fantastic stuff, and it complemented the chicken's flavors perfectly.
Not sure how i missed this the first time around, but this PA supreme court decision in rhyme is priceless... The ending is a classic:

Love, not suspicion, is the underlying foundation
of parties entering the marital relation;
mistrust is not required, and should not be made a priority.
Accordingly, I must depart from the reasoning of the majority.
What am I doing these days? Reading about Hurwitz groups...
I'm sure i've said this a million times (the wonderful thing about the weblog is i can call alec for the first time in half a year and still repeat stories...), but if you ever want to have a pop song that lasts attach it to a part of the year. This year like most of the past half dozen years i find myself walking through a cold drizzle singing "i drove up to hillside manor sometime after two am and talked a little while about the year... i guess the winter makes you laught a little slower, makes you talk a little lower about the things you could not show her and its been a long december and there's reason to believe, maybe this year will be better than the last, i can't remember all the times i tried to tell myself to hold on to these moments as they last..."

but for the first time "if you think you might come to california, i think you should..." actually refers to a place i not only know but am actually living in.
Its always amazing when things that can't be true nonetheless are true...
Speaking of that newsweek article, look who gets quoted:

“Google is a fabulously important central resource, and bears something of a unique responsibility,” says Ben Edelman,
Google the verb makes newsweek.
I'd forgotten how good white russians are.

08 December 2002

Salon's advice columnist is talking about making amends today, which i think is a dying art and we could all use a read.

Not quite as forceful as his wonderful quote on apologies to the cheater last week, but more generally applicable. But that one was still a doozy, i couldn't link to it because it required a subscription but here was the key quote:

"You must suffer that grievous shock of self-recognition where you say,
Holy shit, that was me that did that, wasn't it? It wasn't my hormones,
it wasn't the alcohol or the man's attractiveness -- that was me, just
deciding on my own to go have an affair! Wow.

"Once you see that you simply did these things because you felt like it,
perhaps you will be a little humbled and you will see why one might be a
little outraged that you are asking how you can "end this and still feel
some sense of power and control."

07 December 2002

So for some reason the quote, "She loved me. She loved me. She loved me. Or at least I think she did." was bouncing around my head and i decided to try googling it and see what would come up... Turns out there was only one link, here it is. Are you surprised?

06 December 2002

"Proceeding eighty miles into the northwest wind, you reach the city of Euphemia, where the merchants of seven nations gather at every solstice and equinox. The boat that lands there with a cargo of ginger and cotton will set sail again, its hold filled with pistachio nuts and poppy seeds, and the caravan that has just unloaded sacks of nutmegs and raisins is already cramming its saddlebags with bolts of golden muslin for the return journey. But what drives men to travel up rivers and cross deserts to come here is not only the exchange of wares, which you could find, everywhere the same, in all the bazaars inside and outside the Great Khan's empire, scattered at your feet on the same yellow mats, in the shade of the same awnings protecting them from the flies, offered with the same lying reduction in prices. You do not come to Euphemia only to buy and sell, but also because at night, by the fires all around the market, seated on sacks or barrels or stretched out on piles of carpets, at each word that one man says--such as "wolf," "sister," "hidden treasure," "battle," "scabies," "lovers"--the others tell, each one, his tale of wlves, sisters, treasures, scabies, lovers, battles. And you know that in the long journey ahead of you, when to keep awake against the camel's swaying or the junk's rocking, you start summoning up your memories one by one, your wolf will have become another wolf, your sister a different sister, you battle other battles, on your return from Euphemia, the city where memory is traded at every solstice and at every equinox."
--Trading Cities 1, italo calvino, Invisible Cities

The thing that struck me about invisible cities is that for just about everyone i bet there are a few pages in that book that you'll like enough to like the whole book, but probably not the same stories for everyone. For me they were Euphemia and Zobeide.

"you lie on the ground in somebody's arms, you probably swallow some of their history."

05 December 2002

Noah, you sicko. And thinking those thoughts in my own home, of all places! Shame on you.

Incidentally, if you are like me, and have no earthly clue what marmite is, this website is wonderful. "Spread on toast or sandwiches..drug-like qualities...addictive...'sludge' with a more or less meaty flavor...in some neighborhoods it is common for nursing mothers to dabble a little on their nipples before feeding their infants... " Sounds charming, eh?
So Nat's mom said something about how she hadn't done such and such in 20 years, and I said that i didn't think there was anything i'd done ever which i could say that about. And Nat said, there's gotta be something, like drinking from a bottle for example. And i said immediately, but i haven't done that recently, it has to be a 20 year gap between the times you've done that. At which point i began to chuckle and nat managed to keep a straight face despite both of us thinking of the example of something you go a long time in your life without doing, which is exactly what all of you are thinking right now.
So i spent thanksgiving in the natural habitat of the Nat (aka Santa Fe) visiting him and Meg. Its quite an interesting little city, i've never before seen so many BMW's on dirt roads, for example. For some reason, not only are all the buildings brown (and one story), all the yards brown, all the plants brown, for some reason the roads need to be brown too. The cool thing though is that all the browns and reds have this dramatic change of color when the sun is setting and its quite stunningly beautiful in a shades of red and brown sort of way. The raging Santa Fe river is also quite a sight (i'm told that 4 or 5 years ago it had some water in it). Nat and I went up a mountain to 9,000+ feet. It was also winter there! It was nice to leave this weird perpetual september, even though it is nice not to be freezing. Also, one of the fun things about not drinking in highschool is the chance to see old friends of a decade under the influence for the first time (errr... that's parsing funny... i mean first time seeing not first time under influence, if i were a better writer i'd make that clear in the first place instead of explaining it). It was, all in all, a splendid break.
Time to kill two birds with "One Stone," as this fulfills dave's request for soemthing to be posted, and meg's request that i post this quote:

"So, if those years were the Arkansas of your life, would that make David Fetterman your Bill Clinton?"
As Noah will attest, much of my Thanksgiving was spent ranting about whether yams and sweet potatoes are, in fact, the same thing. I contended that they are interchangeable, but no one seemed to know for sure, and this cookbook says that they are different. Thankfully, however, some researchers in North Carolina have settled the question. Now we can be authoritative next year!
I leave for France this afternoon...I hope that when I get back there'll be a post that's not about Bessie's mom.

04 December 2002

Very cute article, courtesy of Bessie. And it's very true that both daughters love Marmite, or at least one. (I was treated to a vintage jar in Connecticut a few months ago.)
It's official.

And even more official.