Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I Want To Be Under The Sea



Years ago, I had the honor of watching Lisa Barcy perform a piece which she later turned into the film, Mermaid. It was an incredibly wonderful, envy-making performance piece and Mermaid is a beautiful film and if you ever have the opportunity to see it, jump at the chance (you will be moved. Also, you will also find yourself wishing you could be Lisa and have all of her talent). Andrew Bird liked it so much, he has adapted it as a video (above, watch it, you won't be disappointed) and asked Lisa to direct a video which has just debuted on Rolling Stone. I would embed it here if I could, but I cannot, so I encourage you to watch it over there.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Insurance Companies Need Our Support Because They Keep Our Selfish Priorities In Check When We Can't"


Call Congress: tell them we need a strong public health insurance option-- 202-224-3121

What am I, some kind of Capitalist, expecting companies to compete in the free market?

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fun Fact I Wish I Had Known 20 Years Ago


There is a group of jellyfish called Discomedusans (or Discomedusae, if you prefer).

How did this never come up?

My mother is a biology teacher and she never mentioned this to me. Sure, she is retired now, but she was still teaching back when I was a teenager, you would think that somewhere in all our back and forths on the topic of whether or not I could go to what I then had reason to believe was one of the coolest places on earth, she might have said something. Anything. "No, young lady, I am not letting you go turn yourself into a jellyfish!" Of course, I would have assumed she was making some oblique reference to drug usage and would have insisted that I only wanted to go there to dance.

And even though my mother did not make the obvious connection, how about the rest of the world? Medusa's was prominent enough that someone really should have made this connection. I mean, if the history of Dave Medusa is to be believed, Medusa's on Sheffield was the Chicago answer to Studio 54 and I am 100% sure someone would have pointed out if a group of sea invertebrates were known as Discostudiofiftyfourans.

All I am saying is I should not have had to learn about this from Prolific on Facebook.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

From the Perspective of the Storm Troopers...

The Jedi were terrorists.

I have always loved Star Warsand I have always hated terrorists.

When I was in high school, there were kids who were very supportive of the IRA because they were "freedom fighters." I was pretty vocal that those kids were idiots (this made me very popular at my Irish Catholic high school). However, I am glad to have encountered such people because they made it clear that one's reaction to terrorism is influenced by one's sympathy for the terrorists' cause.

I recently read a book which was interesting in that it presented an alternate view of reality regarding our current struggles with terrorism.In The Name Of God is Young Adult novel written by Paula Jolin who wanted to write a book whose characters resembled people she met in the Middle East. Nadia, the main character, is a teenager in Damascus who grows increasingly more frustrated with the lack of jobs for her male relatives, the secularism of her female relatives, and her government's oppression of its own citizens (something she is unable to accept on its face, insisting it is the fault of the United States and Israel). While I was happy to read the book, I found Nadia to be a fairly obnoxious main character. Her smug self-righteousness and her complete ignorance of the world outside her own experience of it made her an easy to manipulate recruit for a terrorist cell. Every time she had a condescending thought about how much happier her cousins would be if only they wore the hijab or refused to listen when people told her that Muslims are not automatically put in prison in the US or that The Bold and The Beautiful is not an accurate depiction of American life and morality, I found I wanted to reach through the pages and give her a good shake and shout, "Don't be such a tool, think for yourself you silly girl!" In terms of Nadia being an accurate representation of Syrians, she may be. However, it should be noted, that not all the characters in the book are like her. Most of her peers are embarrassed by her extremism and the views she espouses, and I must assume that they, too, are like young people the author has met in the Middle East. And the only difference, I feel, between Nadia and some people in this country (like Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck) is the religion they claim to follow and the people they vilify due to their own ignorance.

I find that despite my frustrations with the main character, the insight this book gave me into an alternate view of the world was invaluable. It is easy to accept that the terrorists hate us "for our freedom" because that means we are above reproach and don't have to bother seeing the world through their eyes. It is far harder to accept that for some people in the world, we are like the Empire and the people who commit acts of terror are like the Jedi. So maybe instead of just hating terrorists and the people who support them, we need to teach them who we really are, we need to redress our wrongs and give them accurate information to correct their ignorance. Otherwise, there will always be cowardly evil purveyors of hatred who can manipulate impressionable young people to carry out their acts for them.

And, finally, funny though this video may be, it doesn't change my views about Star Wars or terrorists. Though I suspect that wasn't ever the point.

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The Odds Against You


"Lotto sales increase every time there's a bigger jackpot--precisely correlating with how often statisticians cry."--read more at cracked.com

But the real question is: If Lotto tickets told the truth, would that have any effect whatsoever on their sales?

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thank You, Joe Wilson

And the rest of the Republican Party for showing your true colors last night. Guess respect for the Office of the President only applies when it is someone from your own party. As someone who heard the "the president deserves respect even if he isn't someone you voted for" admonition from the Republicans in my life more than once, loved ones who tried to explain away all the Clinton bashing of the nineties as resulting from the Lewinsky scandal, I am holding your feet to the fire on this one. Because whether you voted for him or not, Barack Obama is the elected president of the United States. You claim the President needs to be more conciliatory, but when was President Bush conciliatory? When he was telling us we needed to go to war in Iraq because of the threat their weapons of mass destruction posed to us? Yeah, no member of congress held up signs or broke decorum and called him a liar while he was giving a speech, even though history has demonstrated that he was less than truthful with us. As I said, I guess respect and decorum only are required for people who have an R after their names.

I know, I know, the "Liberals are Liars" meme is a strong one in right wing circles, so maybe Wilson just forgot he wasn't on Fox News last night. Unfortunately for him, he chose to have his outburst before people who fact check statements (and found that his was false).

So, yeah, thanks Joe Wilson for showing us all the content of your character. Now that we know, we can choose to petition Congress to censure you for your behavior and we can decide to give money to your opponent (that's what we crazy liars do, we give money and volunteer for candidates we like).

Oh, and thank you because someone decided to dust off this old web chestnut, just for you.


P.S. Politifact also fact checked last night's speech.


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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Back To School

How we spent our last day of summer and the first day of school:

We began the morning with breakfast and then some building. Julian wanted me to help him make a semi-truck with his bristle blocks, but that quickly morphed into a demand to create a bus.


He declared this to be the best thing I ever made for him.

Our plan for the afternoon was to go to the Children's Museum at Navy Pier and I capitulated to Julian's request that we have McDonald's for lunch. That conversation went like this
Julian
And we can go to McDonald's.
Alison
Really? Because I get the feeling you don't really like McDonald's food, that you just like the toy.
Julian
No, I like the food. I like the apple juice and the chicken nuggets and the french fries.
Alison
So you would be happy if you didn't get a toy.
Julian
You always get a toy. Even if you ask them not to give you a toy, you will get a toy.
Alison
(chuckling)Honey, I don't have to buy a Happy Meal. I am pretty sure I can get the food without a toy.
(silence while Julian thinks this over and plays with his bristle blocks)
Julian
Mama, if you ask them not to give me a toy and they give me one anyway, it's okay.
I saw that this was an argument I was unlikely to win. However, I insisted that we bike down to Navy Pier. Julian was opposed to this idea ("we can take a bus"), but couldn't argue with my logic ("I have no money for the bus") and we eventually began our journey.

As we biked past Oz Park, Julian announced he didn't want to go to the Children's Museum, he wanted to play at Oz Park instead. I asked if he was sure, he insisted he was. I suggested we could go to the zoo later and he agreed.

After an hour or so, Julian announced that he was starving and wanted to go to Starbucks. I pointed out that Starbucks doesn't really have food. We negotiated a stop at Starbucks (it involved agreeing not to buy a prepackaged sandwich and making sure they didn't put whipped cream on his drink because he swears it makes the drinks taste yucky).

Afterwards, we went to my mom's house. Julian took a much needed bath.

We stayed for dinner and then came home. I worried that since Julian stayed up a bit later last night, he would not wake up, so I set the alarm. This was not necessary. Julian was up early, packing his lunch box and talking about the things he would need for his full day at school (i.e. a sleepy toy and blanket for his nap, his classroom slippers, and lunch). I had a hard time convincing him that even though he was taking lunch to school, he still needed to eat breakfast. He was very anxious to get going.

After maneuvering the crazy traffic and parking, we arrived at school. Julian was excited to be back and to see his new locker.

I had to remind him to hug me good-bye before he dashed into the classroom.




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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Elephants Are Made Of Elements


The Periodic Table is cool. They Might Be Giants are cool. It was only a matter of time before the two were brought together to form a combination that made peanut butter and chocolate weep from jealousy because they could never be so wonderful.

Remember kids: science is fun!

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Monday, September 07, 2009

Hidden Talents

I used to joke that I was going to run for Alderman because I thought it would be a hilarious thing to include on an acting resume.
Special Skills: Juggling, soprano with strong belt, expert knitter, good with children, Alderman of the First Ward...
As this video shows, not only is he the junior senator from Minnesota, Al Franken has talents which make my juggling and knitting abilities look downright puny.



When I was in eighth grade, our homework for social studies was to draw the map of the United States freehand (I guess this was what the Chicago Public School system considered arts education). I don't think my mom saved the map I drew, nor was the map worth saving, however, it was a respectable attempt (as I recall, it looked like a map of the US if it were reflected in a funhouse mirror--New England was stretched out and the Plains states were scrunched). As I watch this video, I realize I should have drawn it out state by state instead of doing the outline first and filling in the states afterwards. Alas, I should have practiced so that I, too, would have this cool party trick to whip out to wow an audience (though, to be honest, I am not sure I would ever have an opportunity to demonstrate this skill in an audition and/or conventional theatrical setting, but then, I'm never asked to juggle either).

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

It's A Thin Line Between Facebook and Stalking



I kindof love this.

I think a lot of us who live a portion of our lives inside our computers feel like it doesn't matter if we put all sorts of private information on the computer because almost no one is looking. Like being naked in the locker room at the gym. I mean, yes, we know strangers may see us and even may be making judgments about us based upon what they see ("oh look, she has more cellulite than me" or "those breasts don't look real") but we expect everyone to follow the rules of decorum and pretend they saw nothing. Is this an irrational expectation? I mean, yes, on the face of it, it sounds like it is. Except the only way this whole public display of private information shabang (blogosphere/facebook/youtube) remains afloat is if we all continue to at least say we are averting our eyes and not talk about it. It's like one big Speak Out where, of course, we are talking about the stories we heard, but we are respecting the storytellers by not talking directly to them about their stories unless we are already friends with them and, even then, we proceed with caution.

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Art and Commerce



A few months back, I encountered this commercial on YouTube and proceeded to call all my friends and shout "Oh my god, Wim Wenders made a commercial for Barilla." It is every bit as beautiful and creepy as you may expect it to be. It inspires me to eat more Barilla pasta.

This commercial featuring Salvador Dali shilling chocolate does nothing for me.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Happily Ever After

One half of Britain's longest married couple has died at the Plymouth residential home where he lived with his wife of 81 years.
Frank Milford met Anita, both 101, at a YMCA dance in Plymouth, Devon, in 1926 and they married two years later.

Instead of filling kids' heads with stories of princes swooping in and rescuing princesses, maybe we should tell them about the couple who credited the success of their marriage to "making up after rows with a kiss and cuddle." Forget the glass slipper, I would much rather have 81 years of happiness.

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Genius

Mr. Taxi Cab Over Accessorizer

I have always been a fan of the "Real Men of Genius" radio campaign. This one, honoring Mr. Taxi Cab Over Accessorizer, may be the best--after I stopped laughing (something which was compounded by Julian repeating that he had junk in his trunk) I called Fred and told him that Budweiser would have to stop this ad campaign because I didn't think it would be possible to surpass this one. However, Wikipedia tells me there are hundreds of these ads and this one has been around for a few years, so obviously, they haven't run out of ideas and I will probably run across one I find even funnier. But for now, I too would like to raise a glass to the people who use glitter and christmas ornaments in order to turn their vehicles into carnival floats. I only wish I actually liked the taste of beer.

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