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Movies

Journal Journal: movies & top 10 considerations 11

There are still a few films that came out in 2002 that I want to see, but this concludes those I actually _saw_ in 2002. I'll make my first stab at my top 10 films of the year after going through the flicks of the week. After one retro flick, I saw two 'real' movies over the weekend, and saved 2 more for New Year's Eve so I could do a "Not Without my Daughter!" comparison. I am such a movie geek that I was (too) highly amused at getting the chance to ask for tickets to each of the 'Government abducts kids' films. The cashier immediately knew which films I wanted.

First the retro flick, Performance, made in 1970. If you don't like the late-60s English genre this film typifies and/or don't get to see it on a big screen in a silent room without distractions, then skip it. Since I have the two PreReqs I had a great time with it. Mick Jagger is soo pretty. :-)

Chicago: Musical. Great costumes. The movie seemed torn between wanting to do big numbers, and dwelling in cynicism. The clash didn't work for me, so this film is just a 'maybe'.

Talk to Her (Hable con ella): Writer/Director Pedro Almodóvar should be taken out and shot. Here we have a spectacularly beautiful film filled with perfect cinematography, scoring, and cast. Then, Almodóvar writes all the women out of the story so the two men can talk about how women are desirable sex objects, yet problematic. I was so offended that Almodóvar cut the women out of the film that I couldn't enjoy it. He has a history of depicting women in a questionable light, but he's never so completely and needlessly silenced them. Others surely won't have this problem with the film, but I can't get past it. I can't consider the atypical perspectives the men have. I can't remember hating a director as much as I now hate Almodóvar. Since my feminist bias on this is overpowering, ignore my lack of recommendation for the film. I can't recommend it as anything but a teaching example of unimaginably perfect technical aspects -- which are laid to waste by a deplorable script.

Here's the "Not Without My Daughter!" Duo :
Rabbit-Proof Fence: True story of Government taking children from their family. Australia 1931. Less sentimental than the next, the film has a few small problems but is generally enjoyable. Expansive vistas show the vastness of Australia and the loneliness of the children. Film quality is often grainy, but the characters seem real (despite some stretches in the adult characters). Despite some lags, this is a must-see.

Evelyn: True story of Government taking children from their family. Ireland 1953. The slums are clean, and everyone is filled with Goodness. Compare to a movie about the same sort of poverty in Ireland 20 years later, Ratcatcher. Pierce Brosnan gets to take over the film as a down-on-his-luck dad who is likeable even when engaged in drunken attacks on the clergy. If you want an interesting court case, skip this as the details of the arguments are sidelined. If you want an enjoyable film, you might want to give it a try. The movie is a feel-good fest of sentimentality complete with warm light and gushing music.

Here's my first stab at a list of Top 10 films playing in the U.S. in 2002 (in no particular order).

What's your list look like? Given that two of mine are documentaries, and two more are based on actual events, it is fair to say that I have a bias towards ever-so-slightly-'educational' films. Also note my bias AGAINST Hollywood films (more than half aren't even from the U.S.). My opinions on all of the above are still at my main movie page, but will soon only be on an archive page.

Christmas Cheer

Journal Journal: History in the U.S., or: Glad it wasn't *my* family. 3

I spent Xmas with friends and _their_ family. While I was there, the house experienced an upheaval of personal conflicts that sent cascades through the night. I was asked what my impression of the events were, so I'm recording them here while one of the players records the ACTUAL account in his journal.

That is the point. Two perspectives on one event. Mine will certainly have more details of the debate, while the other journal will have the more interesting parts of people's motivations.

The important players are all intelligent, educated, and pretty liberal. They are as follows.

  • Girl: 25 yo female. Teaching school in day. Worked/works in the Theater business (as in Broadway). Visiting host. Lives in NYC.
  • Dad: 60-something male. Father of Girl. Retired school teacher (high school, I believe). Visiting Host. Lives in Texas.
  • Mom:50-something female. Wife of Dad. Visiting Host. Lives in Texas.
  • Aunt:40-something female. Sister of Mom. More actively artistic than Dad. Lives minutes from Host.
  • Host: aka Uncle 50-something male. Brother of Mom. Capitalistic as well as liberal. Also more actively artistic than Dad.
  • Hubby:30-something male. Husband of Host. Most fluent of group in Technology. Less interested in Arts.
  • The Ex:50-something male. Older male, friend of Uncle. Not at ease with arguments. Interested in allowing people to be expressive, but preferring more harmonious exchanges than aggressive debate. Travels frequently.
  • (me): 30-something female. One of the minority of my family to NOT teach (though the above are not my family). Less liberal than most the crowd. Likes debates. Lives an hour from Host.

Host and Hubby have invited me over to their family Xmas festivities. I've been a friend of Hubby for many years, and have met the Host's family before, but never been that close to them. I show up at their house around 9:30 AM so a bunch of can see LotR:TTT (again) before getting down to Xmas festivities. Some of Host's family are staying behind. Most all (except Aunt, who lives close by) have been and will continue to be sleeping over for most the week.

We saw the movie, loved it, made it through some nasty snow and back to warm confines. We found the Girl and Dad engaged in a debate of the institutionalized biases of text books. While the topic was interesting, the Girl leading the attack (one of male bias, and the exclusion of women) was so personally offended, that she could not contain herself. Dad was agreeing with Girl, but hedging some, and Girl was furious.

This was going on in the family room, which adjoins the kitchen. Us movie-goers originally started off mostly in the kitchen to offer help with dinner preparations, but we were mostly in the way, so we went over to involve ourselves in the discussion.

The debate itself was pretty interesting and I joined Aunt on the sidelines to throw in remarks here and there. The main point was that U.S. schools teach History with a bias towards male figures engaging in male activities. That is, U.S. schools teach History as a series of men and their wars. There is little mention of how societies changed except in reference to or because of war.

Example: the rise of the middle class may be cited as leading to the French Revolution, and it *may* be mentioned that the rise happened because of the Plague, but it is highly unlikely that any women or minority groups will be mentioned, nor will their culture nor will the changes in their cultures. If there isn't a body count, a new type of weapon, or a change in national boundaries, it probably won't get covered in a History class taught in a U.S. school (K-12 -- we weren't counting colleges).

Girl complained that this bias affected and still affects her whole life. It affects how women see themselves -- and how men see women (namely, that they don't) -- and it is another hurdle women must overcome. Despite all the efforts of the Civil Rights movement, women are still making less than men, and the work they do is still not considered worthwhile -- not worth payment. She complained that study after study shows that when women take time off to have children, they get left behind in their chosen career, and never catch up to the positions and salary of their male counterparts.

I argued against this last bit. I countered that saying while she is correct that far, I believe if men took an equal amount of time off to have children, raise them, refuse long hours and such, they'd face the same problem when competing with those who did not. I expect that anyone who leaves their career track for an extended period will get left behind, and that such will continue until such time that EVERYONE starts doing it.

In fact, I argued, any group that has power will seek a means to retain that power. If you leave a position any rank, when you return, you can expect that another has taken your place, and you'll have to fight to get back to where you were.

Aunt came in on this with and a previous point on what powers women have. Aunt mentioned studies of how female apes (chimps and the like) assert power in this very way. A male leads the group. Male is eventually ousted by upstart. Male doesn't treat the babies (which aren't his) well, and the females unite to remove him. They let a friend of the old leader take over, and when the upstart returns, he is ranked low.

Mom (who was fairly quiet, and used to this behavior from the ones she loved) added that she thought it was great that for ONCE the girls were debating matters of world import while the MEN were cooking dinner. Someone added, "Yeah, ONCE. The rest of the year, the girls have to do it." I think it was Young Friend or Aunt who pointed out how inaccurate both ideas were. Given that 3 of the kitchen crew were gay men, they were not subject to male/female generalizations. In fact, no matter WHO cooked in this house, it would ALWAYS be a man.

Somewhere, things led to a discussion of what power females have, and how the sexes are not the same (upper body strength, exploratory drive, ability to discern emotions, influencing groups). We got back around to the point that the things women do aren't covered in school. Aunt emphasized Girl's point by explaining how when she went to High School, they made her repeat math that she'd already covered in her previous advanced placement courses. Bored to tears, she got a 'D' in her freshman math. The school counselor told her parents not to worry, as Aunt didn't need that sort of training. They needed to get her into Home-Ec. classes to prepare her for life as a housewife. Aunt grinned, and didn't need to mention how very single she's intentionally kept herself -- and how she's managed quite nicely without a husband, thank you. Aunt also brought up "The Alphabet Versus the Goddess" and how once men wrested power from women, they used reading as a tool of power.

Girl got back to berating her dad. She used Aunt's school example as another plank in her platform for why schools must get rid of text books. There are plenty of works out there, and it is wrong to force children to think in such restrictive ways. Dad agreed with the basic idea, and suggested a comparative discernment approach. His point was that there will always be bias -- even in original sources, so rather than teaching a text book, it might be better to look at how different original sources view the same subject. He suggested looking at property as discussed by Thomas Paine's Agrarian Justice and a Karl Marx's essay on Private Property and Communism -- they have very different approaches to one issue. Have students read along while someone reads a paragraph. Discuss, go to next paragraph, discuss, etc.

He started mentioning another topic, and other authors when Girl stopped him saying, "You see?!?!? Even when you're talking about a more reasonable approach, you're STILL using MALE sources!"

So he listed off two women with opposing views on birth control.

Girl threw up her hands and let out an exasperated scream of frustration. "That's the same thing! Are you saying that the only things women can talk about are women's issues?!?!!?"

Dad interjected that he didn't mean that -- it was just the only two women authors with dramatic differences in stance he could quickly recall was for that issue. Girl replied that Dad was making her point for her. That there are lots of sources out there, and even SHE doesn't know them because they were never mentioned in school. She only became aware of them in college. Her life was being demeaned by Dad and the rest of the teachers of the U.S. that only taught one sort of thing.

Dad had reason to get a bit upset at being lumped in with everyone else. Girl was on the verge of tears. Aunt and I exited the room to let the Father/Daughter conflict go on without spectators to witness. The discussion was no longer about the issues, but about how Dad treats his Girl. We didn't need nor want to be in a discussion that intimate and wrought with so much emotional weight.

Since the boys were still busy working on dinner, we went onto the patio. I mentioned to Aunt that while they'd all heard my comment that I _did_ find warfare an appropriate topic for history, I hadn't had the chance to add my follow up: we DID learn about Queen Elizabeth, and how today students were learning about Margaret Thatcher. Heck, I even remember a bit of sociology regarding how Eleanor of Aquitaine influenced Europe's Nobility to art and Courtly Love -- thereby showing a woman of power changing society in a feminine way, and breaking ground for the Renaissance (though that was still centuries away).

When we went back inside, the fight was over, and the Girl was not in evidence. Come to find that she has left. She's gone for a walk. Hmmm...

More interesting. It wasn't her Dad that set her out. It was the Host. Seems he was so frustrated with the endless family quarrel, its length, its increasing loudness, and his own problems trying to get everything set for the big Holiday meal, that he had stopped his preparations long enough to stick his head in the family room to angrily yell at the Girl to shut the fuck up.

  • ...

No more talk of that for a while. It was time for a new topic. Everything calmed down for a bit. Girl eventually came back to the house, but headed straight for the guest room that held her luggage. We all said nothing, and let Dad and Host do what they would. Mom probably talked to Girl, but if so, Mom was so discreet that I didn't notice.

Dinner was divided into two tables. I was at the more intimate of the two, and away from the home owner. Host's ex-boyfriend (still very close after so many years together) and Aunt were next to me, and the Ex wanted to defend Girl, while I defended Host's right to be bothered by a disruption in his own home. It was very hard t talk at all with Host at the next table. Our discussion did not become heated, and I think we all made strides to NOT offend anyone. It actually became humorous at times. The gist of the Ex's argument was that the Girl is young, and the young should be passionate. The world will break her down, but her parents and family should not. She should be allowed to express her thoughts with those who love her most. My counter was that Christmas dinner isn't the time for it -- especially not in someone else's home where they've been kind enough to put you up. Aunt retorts that we're both right, but given that Girl doesn't see Dad that often, this is one of the rare chances Girl has to confront Dad and express her independance. Aunt also points out that everyone in Dad's family argues this way (though usually with less of themselves at stake), but Host does not. Aunt also believes that Host had *just* enough wine to tip him into surly jerk mode.

Between dinner and dessert, Dad went up to talk to Girl. Despite good sound proofing, much female screaming could be heard echoing through the walls. Dad came down, and the family opened presents. No one commented on the missing Girl.

All in all, it was a sad affair on a happy day. Girl had the misfortune of bringing up a topic her Dad would happily argue on an intellectual level *just* so there could be discussion (and Dad is want to do that -- he and I had a great debate over the good & evil of Microsoft some time ago -- and we were both happy to have an opponent). Girl should know her Dad well enough to know he'd react that way -- even if she disapproves of him doing that.

It felt like what she really wanted was a way to show her Dad how she'd become her own person. What I think she heard was Dad still treating her as a child, and saying, "Daddy loves you, but daddy knows better than you".

Uncle and the rest of us were just more examples of how no one over 30 'gets' Girl. None of us understand.

Movies

Journal Journal: stuff & movies: LOTR:TTT, Adaptation, About Schmidt 8

There were lots of personal adventures for me in the last 7 days (Thursday night last week to Thursday morn this week). Lots of people, driving, buying, chaos, and of course, a few movies. Adventures with two different couples deserve whole JEs, but I probably shouldn't write about them, as they and/or their friends read me. Don't want to talk about the lives of those who might be recognized. Sooo.... on to the movies! This is Oscar season, and the movies are kickin!

The Two Towers: Woohoo! Saw it last Friday, and again on Xmas day. Some things that bothered me the 1st time around were more acceptable the 2nd time, but the 2nd theater sucked (did things like brighten the house lights when previews ended & film began). Watch the films, buy the DVDs, read the books, and do it in that order so the books don't spoil the movies for you. I'll forgive all the problems*** because I love the world the films describe.

About Schmidt: Lovely little film. Perhaps this will show the younger set that Jack Nicholson can act! Despite Hollywood's attempts to ONLY cast him as himself, the man can act! For once, he has a role where he gets to do just that. You'll know the ending within the first few minutes, but the point is the journey.

Adaptation: If you liked "Being John Malcovich" even a little, you'll like this film by the same folks (and with several cameos from the previous cast). This is a Tounge-in-Cheek flick with lots of humour. Go in with the understanding that it is self-mockery, and enjoy.

More complete reviews over here.

***All the things that bugged me about LOTR:Two Towers on their own spoiler page .

News

Journal Journal: Philly PR? 2

Hopefully, junkies don't read newspapers. Otherwise this article in today's paper might bring my city a hoarde of vermin. To quote columnist, Marina Walker:

Federal data show that the heroin here [in Philadelphia] is the purest found in the major U.S. cities - 73 percent pure in 2000 - and costs less than half the national average.

Woohoo!!!

Movies

Journal Journal: 3 movies

They : (aka Wes Craven Presents: They) I wanted to fear for the characters or at least be creeped out, but it never happened. In fact, this is the first time I can remember where I've watched a horror-genre flick and wondered about the motivation of the force of Evil. Avoid this.

Solaris: I saw people walk out on this. I may have enjoyed it more than others because I spent a lot of time comparing this remake to the original. I'm thinking that anyone who wants to get into this should first see the original movie (newly reissued on DVD!!!), then watch the remake and only THEN read the book. The remake is like a Cliff-Notes version of the first film, and I'm betting the original will lose appeal if you already now the main plot. Books are so different from film that waiting to read the original source can work -- the written word conveys more, and allows for multiple rereads into a book's universe. If reversed, you may get bummed out by the missing stuff. I am completely lame because I have NEVER read the book.

El Crimen del padre Amaro : (aka "The Crime of the Father" or "The Crime of Father Amaro") : This would have been more interesting if it came out before the scandals now plaguing the Catholic Church. Young priest shows virtue at the outset, but can he keep it after seeing how his elder priests sin? Too many caricatures and too much melodrama. It is watchable, but not great.

Tiny bit more on these films. My film page will contain different info starting in January, when the existing page will only be on my 2002 page.

Movies

Journal Journal: 2 quickie movie reviews 3

Ararat - an ok film, but it goes in so many directions, and has so many messages that the main point seems to get lost in the fray. I adored "The Sweet Hereafter" (director Egoyian's previous big film), but Ararat isn't even *close* to the earlier film's level.

Personal Velocity - chick flick narrated by a guy. What? Why'd they *do* that? Based on the book of the same title, the narrator is there to read text verbatim rather than having the information incorporated into the story line. Bleah.

as always, a little more info over here.

Side note: been seeing previews for "Love in the Time of Money" (which I saw earlier this year in a festival), and keep noting that the preview was rated R! I can't remember when I've seen a preview that was rated above PG. They even a different color background for the MPAA rating information for this naught rating -- RED (not green or blue). Seems the rating was due to a bit where BF asks GF is she cheated on him, she says yes, and then we skip to him hounding her about it, asking, "Did you cum?" By the way, the movie sucks (in my not so humble estimation). The only thing good about it was seeing Steve Buscemi and Carol Kane (though that *is* pretty nice).

United States

Journal Journal: PA to mark non-citizen Driver's Liscense 6

Excerpt from article by Maria Panaritis and Thomas Ginsberg (this link won't last forever):

  • All Pennsylvania driver's licenses or photo identification cards issued to foreigners will be stamped "noncitizen" and will be timed to expire with entry visas, according to antiterrorism provisions of a law signed yesterday by Gov. Schweiker.

    The new requirements are part of a push by the Governor's Office to tighten security statewide while also adopting elements of federal homeland-security measures enacted after the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington.

If I'd seen the above in someone's journal and didn't know it was a verbatim outtake, I'd assume they got their facts wrong. We couldn't legally discriminate like that, could we? And even if we could, we wouldn't really stigmatize people that way, would we? Yes, I'm for protecting citizens from terrorism, but I gotta believe that the vast majority of non-citizens are NOT a threat of any form.

Also, if you haven't done so already, consider checking out claudia's JE that includes the response she got from her U.S. Senator, Dianne Feinstein, about the Homeland Security Act. Especially amusing was Feinstein's acknowldgement that, "Unfortunately, the final version of the Homeland Security Act contained a number of provisions giving special treatment to pharmaceutical companies, airline and rail companies, offshore tax evaders, and companies engaging in grossly negligent conduct."

For a lighter note, check out Chacham's JE on PA's poetic Judge.

The Almighty Buck

Journal Journal: want Northwest Airlines bankrupt -- not United 13

aka "A belated Thanksgiving tale of airlines woes"

Remember a couple of years ago when the Northwest Airlines' antics in Detroit made the COVER of "The Wall Street Journal"? Well, here's an update on how little they've improved. My mother booked herself and me on a round-trip flight on Northwest from Philly, to a small town in Michigan, Ravenna -- near Muskegon -- to visit my 93 year old grandmother for Thanksgiving. Our flights were for Thursday morning, and Monday afternoon.

My luggage lost before we got to Muskegon. After too much time trying to figure out what went wrong, it turns out that when I checked in at Philly, the Northwest agent who had my ticket and i.d. IN HER HAND put a luggage tag on my bag for a different passenger (an Elizabeth Read, it seems) who was only going to Detroit. Airport Security, anyone? As a result, the luggage only went to Detroit. That was bad enough. The folks working the desk in Muskegon eventually figured out the problem, and assured me that my luggage would be flown in ... but no one put it on any flights for the rest of the day! That was worse -- especially because I have medication I'm supposed to take every morning, and I'd TOLD them that, and since the first flight in on Friday wasn't until noon, I was going to have to miss it.

I guess I could have verified that the luggage slip with my ticket had my name on it -- if I'd *known* that they printed names on luggage slips (I thought it was just ID numbers) -- but I don't know how much that would have helped given that the erring agent chucked the bag down the chute before returning the paper trail to me. I guess my 'failure' to know this justifies all my free time on Thanksgiving going towards trying to find out if my bags were finally in Muskegon. We were given one phone number that failed to work, and another with no options for people without touch-tone phones (which excludes my grandmother), and stuck talking to the newly hired employee in Muskegon who admitted that she'd no idea on how to get anything accomplished.

But, after a couple calls on Friday morning, it seems the luggage *did* arrive in the afternoon while my mom & aunt dragged me out shopping. Unfortunately, and FAR worse was that Northwest lied to the contractor who delivers the lost luggage. As a result the contractor (who has visited grandma's house several times over the years for similar reasons) found my grandma at home alone, and repeated the lie to her: "It was her [my] fault the luggage was lost because she abandoned it in Detroit".

MY fault? Do they mean because THEY mistagged the bag while HOLDING my ID and ticket?!?! When I heard this, I grew yet more pissed with Northwest. Luckily, the vacation itself was great, because the return trip was a complete disaster.

For our return trip on Monday afternoon, there was a light snow falling, but the roads were good and the sky was bright. There was a delay in our plane *leaving* Detroit, so it was going to be delayed in picking us up, then flying *back* to Detroit. Okay, so we check at the front desk about whether we can make our connection, and are assured we can because the flight to Philly is also running 20 minutes late. Since we're back in line to do this, I ask if I can sit in the Exit row to get more leg room. As this is accomplished, and the new ticket prints out, we hear an announcement that our plane will be another 30 minutes late -- which would leave us with just 17 minutes to make it to the delayed Philly plane. So.... the agent leaves our original reservations in place, but *also* books us on the next flight to Philly -- or so we *think*.

We get to the Detroit airport around 4:30 pm, and expect that we've missed the 3:30 flight to Philly. But no! It is still here! The delay has been extended 1.5 hours! We rush over to join the throng waiting to board. Whew! We made it! The visibility outside isn't great, and it is getting dark, but there is very little snow. Maybe an inch or two. It seems odd that we're so delayed over such a minor bit of weather. Still there's nothing we can do about it, so we wait.

And wait.

Every 20 minutes, they announce an additional delay, until around 6pm, the original flight is 'delayed' until Tuesday morning. My mother is unable to miss work on Tuesday, so we rush to see if we can catch the 2nd flight to Philly, which is also running late, and still on the ground. We make it to that gate, present the information the agent in Muskegon gave, and find that she had NOT booked us both on this flight -- she'd only booked my mother. She'd put me on a third flight that wasn't due to leave until 9pm! My mother and I worry about how I'm going to get home so late at night. She's got her husband to pick her up (and he's already waiting for us in the Philly airport -- we we're supposed to have LANDED by now), but she doesn't think they can hang around all night. I tell her not to worry; things will work out. I ask to be put on stand-by for the 2nd flight, and am 24th on their list. Crossing fingers, we wait.

And wait.

Heh. What 'works out' is that there is no crew to fly the 2nd plane. Again, every 20 minutes or so, they back up the 'delay' a little further, until they finally CANCEL the 2nd flight. Now there are two plane loads of passengers trying to get to Philly, and we all rush over to the 3rd flight's gate where *it's* passengers await the 9pm departure. By now it is after 8pm, and neither of us has eaten since breakfast. I ask my mom if I can get her something, but she doesn't want to either of us to leave the gate and miss the plane. She's on standby. I have a seat. I plan on giving her my seat if she can't get one, and I've told her so, but she still doesn't want to move from the spot. She's tired and worried, and feels bad for her husband who's been waiting for us in Philly for almost 4 hours. So....we wait.

And wait.

And of course, they keep delaying the departure time, and by 9:30, I've already wandered over to the 4th flight to Philly, and asked for us to be put on the stand-by list. We're 71st and 72nd in the standby queue. Uhg. When they cancel the 3rd flight, and 3 plane-fulls of people join the 4th plane full of people at the gate of the final flight to Philly, I confront my mom with this idea: there's a delayed plane going to Newark NJ -- two hours from our homes. There are available, unsold seats on that flight, where as on the 4th flight to Philly, we're stuck Waaayyyy down the standby list. She calls her husband (again) and asks if he'd be willing to drive two hours out of his way. He sighs and points out that while *we've* been bumping from one cancelled plane to the next, he's been sitting in Philly watching ALL OTHER PLANES FROM DETROIT COME IN TO PHILLY. *Only* Northwest is screwing with its passengers.

So we were going to go to Newark, NJ. This flight was ALSO delayed (we were supposed to leave Detroit @ 3:30pm, and were still there at 10pm), *but* the delay for the Newark flight was needing a total of 6 flight attendants when only 4 were there. They'd called in stand-by staff, and those folks agreed, but (as one announcement told us) were stuck behind an accident on the highway. The extra two bodies eventually made it through the highway congestion and we got on the plane. Yay!

THEN we waited some more on the runway. It took an hour to get the plane de-iced. Finally made the 1.5 hour trip to Newark.

During all this time, and even with the flight attendants, we were not given ANYTHING to help ease the strain. We didn't even get peanuts or sodas. Not even during the flight. While I understand that the primary function of attendants is to control the passengers in the event of an emergency, they generally DO serve sodas/juice, and there seemed no excuse for the failure. The plane wasn't close to full.

We made it to Newark, but Of COURSE we had no luggage. We got in around 1AM, and could not find a human to ask in the luggage area, then also couldn't get back to the gate because security was closed. By then, it was past 1:30AM, and we were all exhausted -- especially mom's husband, who'd worked most the day, then drove 1 hour to the Philly airport, then drove another hour back home to let the dog out (who'd been holding it from 6:30AM to 10PM), then drove 2 hours up to Newark, and now had to drive 2 hours back home. I volunteered to drive, but he refused.

Got to my mom's house, picked up the dog, and then drove another half hour home. It was 4AM, and I still had to do the pet chores. Uhg! I got all the essentials covered, and had no time nor energy for other stuff, and collapsed around 4:30.

I woke at 9:30, called work, explained the situation and asked for the day off, but they needed me in, so I came in VERY late (10:30) instead of taking another vacation day.

Let me stress that during all the hours of running from one airport gate to the next, Northwest gave us NOTHING. They claimed it to be the fault of inclimate weather, *BUT* while mom's husband was waiting for us in Philly, he saw every United Airlines flight come from Detroit while ours were all cancelled. So.... it seems like the weather wasn't so much to blame as the airline. Grrrr.

So on Tuesday, I fixed up the critical error, and tried calling Northwest about the missing luggage. I'd had little sleep, much stress, no meds (again), and just wanted to know where the hell our stuff was. This was especially important to me because I'd picked up presents for a toys-for-tots program for kids with AIDS (through Leake and Watts). After 3 phone calls, I got the number to the Northwest baggage claim line in Philadelphia. It was busy. By putting the number on auto-redial, I was able to get a ring around 11:30AM. This connected me to a message saying they couldn't take my call, and to leave a message. I did. By 3pm, I'd heard no reply, so I tried calling again, couldn't get through, went to the web site, filled out a form, and eventually left a SECOND message just before 5pm.

No replies. My mom reported a similar experience trying to contact Northwest. No replies, no information, no way to track, no way to fill out a missing bag claim.

Finally, around 7pm I got in the car, and drove the hour to the airport luggage area. I wanted to report the problem to someone -- ANYONE. The luggage area was void of Northwest employees -- just some passengers lingering around -- *but* lo and behold, there's this big pile of luggage lying on the floor for anyone to take! I had my ticket and luggage slip, but not my mom's. I briefly wondered if anyone would stop me if I happened to find our things, but quickly realized no one was THERE to stop me. After about 15 minutes, I found our bags in the massive pile, and walked off with them. No one cared. Drove to my mom's, gave her the bags, and she reconfirmed that Northwest was STILL being completely unresponsive.

On Wednesday at 2pm, Northwest FINALLY called. They said that they'd HAD my luggage, and were wondering if I'd picked it up. I considered lying and freaking out over losing it, but I couldn't muster the energy to be that mean. I later decided that was not only the morally right thing to do, but probably wise, too, because even if no one stopped me, they probably have security cameras that recorded my 'theft'.

So I'm home. I have my meds, presents, and the rest. The ordeal is over, but I NEVER want to repeat it.

My advice to all: NEVER fly the evilly incompetent, careless and cavalier Northwest Airlines through their Detroit hub, and ESPECIALLY not in winter. If you do, be prepared to watch all other carriers take off while you sit on the ground.

Movies

Journal Journal: no movies - just rentals this week.

Being busy with Holiday preparations, I didn't get out to the theaters this week. I did watch a bunch of rentals, but that doesn't count for much.

I've fallen to gmh's addiction of rating films at movielens. I am embarrassed to say I've rated 1200 films -- DESPITE them not listing a slough of interesting flicks that I WANT to rate.

For examples, it doesn't list some favorites, like: Onibaba, Throne of Blood (Macbeth done Japanese style), Amarcord, The Leopard, The Devils or Paragraph 175. It also doesn't list some hokey films that I don't honestly expect it to have, like: The Sex Monster, or Trash.

With all the data, I decided to look at the results. Though there are only 5 possible ratings, it seems I rank more or less in a bell curve (skewed slightly to the low end). Here's the numeric break-down:

..Film #... = sum@rating ~ % of total
0001 - 0080 = 080 @ 5 ~ 6%
0081 - 0390 = 310 @ 4 ~ 26%
0391 - 0756 = 366 @ 3 ~ 31%
0757 - 1063 = 307 @ 2 ~ 26%
1064 - 1200 = 137 @ 1 ~ 11%

I don't know whether to blame the low percentage of top ranking films on my choices in film, or on studios for their choices in what to make.

Movies

Journal Journal: weekly movie reviews 5

Antonio das Mortes: good luck finding this one! Its from 1968, and doubtful to tour much (if at all). Great pic, tho.

Harry Potter [et al]: about the same as the original, but not 'new' this time. Maybe a tad deeper. An elementary school teacher I know says the kids aren't in to this one as much as the last because adults have co-opted it (like in the South Park Pokemon episode).

Standing in the Shadows of Motowtown: Man, Detroit is getting a *lot* of movies this year! 'Bowling for Columbine', '8 Mile', and now this one! Short on description. Lots of tunes, and pleasant. This is a better than average choice for folks who don't mind the documentary style.

Far from Heaven: beautiful! As an homage to John Stahl, it works best if you know that going in. The film has almost nothing to which a modern audience would object, but if it had been made in the 50s, it would not have been releasable. Best bet of this lot.

As always, slightly more complete reviews on my personal page.

Slashdot.org

Journal Journal: hooked a friend

Not like /. is lacking for users, but I am happy that my frequent mention of the site seems to have convinced a real-life friend to make an account --especially given how long /. has existed.

I don't know if cb900crdr will become active user or not, but the interest seems there for now. Perhaps it is all a ploy to get feedback for questions -- like the first journal entry/question. I'm happy to spread the call for comments.

Technology

Journal Journal: newer != better 3

My local theater (Regal CineMedia's child Regal Cinemas -- and their bought-out child United Artist Theaters) replaced their pre-show projector slides with Christie Digital Projectors, and the drop in quality is dramatic. Sure, they can now the can animate, but it is jumpy and pixilated. It seemed the frames per second (ok, they aren't frames, but the lingo is good for comparison) is reduced from film -- I counted (yes! slow enough to COUNT) about 10 fps, so I'm guessing that it was really 12 fps. Worse, the 'pixels' were about the size of my pinkie fingernail. I went up to the screen to measure and since fingernails vary in size, lets say the pixels are about the size of the line spacing for college-rule paper -- only there are bigger gaps between the squares than in the inked blue lines of college rule. This means that any time the image isn't mostly black (white being the worst) it looks like a grid was imposed upon the screen. Small text is illegible. I was dumfounded by how bad it looked.

Next, I was appalled to see an ad for HDTV on this piece of crap projection. Not only was there the obtrusive grid and slow fps, but the HDTV ad had additional jumpiness -- showing car racing at some relatively set speed then skipping forward for a brief moment staggering at that point, then reverting to 'normal', then jumping forward again. Constantly repeating the time discrepancy. I couldn't believe they'd introduced what *should* be a great innovation such that it looked WORSE than what we've had for decades.

In disgust, I made a brief, half hearted attempt to question the staff, but the best I could find was an assistant manager (read "guy with no knowledge nor authority"). He gave me the 'it's great!' spiel, but I still voiced my complaints. Since I know that won't go anywhere, I also filled out a complaint at their online comment card. I don't think that will do any good, either, but I can't let it go. The wastefulness of deploying such BAD technology grates against me like nails on chalk boards.

Movies

Journal Journal: movies.

Real Women Have Curves: Chick flick with tiny bit of commentary. Poor girl in LA struggles with her desire to love and be loved by her mother. Enjoyable.

Frida: Great eye-candy. If I have to suffer a horrible, debilitating problem, *I* want one that only interefers when the plot of my life story needs a dramtic boost. The film could be seen or missed. Ca m'est egal.

8 mile: Mixed race story where the just the white people all come out well. It'd be offensive if it wasn't so boring. Oh yeah: there's some rapping, too.

Slightly more depth on my movie page.

P.S. I'm purposefully missing Naqoyqatsi, but I did pick up the original, Koyaanisqatsi, on DVD. It came with the less interesting Powwaqatsi. Having done the same movie twice before, I'm not sure why they bothered making a third. If they'd tried an all-new form, I might have been interested.

News

Journal Journal: 7.9 earthquake in Alaska last week 2

For those who didn't catch it, last weekend there was a 7.9 earthquake in Alaska about 75 miles south of Fairbanks (where my father and many friends live).

I found out about it on Monday upon checking my email. My dad had written that he was at work, and they'd just had a pretty big quake (there'd been a 6.7 during the night about a week before -- he'd have slept through that one had not the dog gone berserk).

I asked him and others about it, and I heard that it lasted for what seemed like 10-15 minutes, but was probably only 2 minutes. No one I know had significant damage done, but many lost breakables. A coworker of my dad reported that she'd been driving right in the vicinity of the quake when it happened, and thought to herself, "Gee, the road is sure a lot rougher than it looks." A friend who'd been sleeping in woke to it, slowly realized it was a quake, and decided he'd better put on pants in case the house fell down around him. He said he had time to wake up, think this, and act on it before the shaking subsided.

I've put together three sections of links. The first is always changing, the second is short-term news stories that will probably disappear, and the last is a series that are more likely to stay around longer.

Ever-changing map of the current quakes in the area
Cool-ass Seismic Monitor
(less related) Western Canada's Site with Daily seismographs

==================
News
CNN's story

Local (AK) stories:
Fairbanks lead quake story
Quotes from above:
  - "The quake disrupted travel in several regions, closing an 80-mile stretch of the Richardson Highway"
  - "One lane of the Parks Highway was closed at Mile 258 but the highway had been repaired and reopened by late evening."
  - "In Mentasta Lake, at least one home was destroyed and others are unlivable without fuel"
  - "In Northway, home to about 300 people, underground water shot through the broken earth like geysers"

Big bunches 'o text:
  - Quake sends scientists scurrying
  - Quake workers cast ballots

Anchorage paper's lead quake story and another text-only story from the same day
Quotes from above:
  - "In Seattle, more than 1,400 miles away, some houseboats shook loose from their moorings."
  - "Crews also closed 80 miles of the Richardson Highway between Delta and Paxson, 178 miles south of Fairbanks. Around Mile 197, the quake crunched the road like an accordion and left cracks 2 feet wide and 5 feet deep. Gaps along the highway between Mile 205 and 210 are up to 8 feet deep"
  - "The pipeline is rated to withstand earthquakes of magnitude 5.5 to 8.5 depending on the area. The section south of Delta Junction where the damage occurred Sunday is designed for an 8.0 quake"

Big buncha text:
  - Pipeline restarted, governor seeks disaster money

==================
More or less 'stable' links

Text summary of the quake's stats

This is a picture of where the quake occurred 75 miles south of Fairbanks next to a Glacier on road to Mt. McKinley (Denali)

Sand mud and water spewed out of the ground see side-menus, too.

Pipeline supports down and/or dangling

The college's page, UAF's Seismology page, is good,and has links to other good photos:
  - Northway 'fountain features'
  - Richardson Highway
  - many pics (slow loading)

Seismo-watch reprints

Below are two pictures from within the USGS's event info :
  - Where the Earthquake epicenter was located oct 23rd and Nov 3rd quake
  - Animation of Earthquakes from Oct 23rd to Nov 7th south of Fairbanks east of Denali (Mt McMcKinley)

Kinda distant report from the University of Washington

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