Ian’s Out

Filed under:Television — posted by Anwyn on May 16, 2007 @ 1:42 pm

While I was out watching Waitress last night, Ian got booted from Dancing with the Stars. No surprise to anyone, really, including him, and kudos to him for having made it this far. I’m forced to retract what I said last week about Apolo–he now has the dance presence, the weight, that I said he lacked.

As for Ian–the guy just tries too hard. He looks phony to me all the time, as if he feels he has to act a certain way to fit in. His exuberance never looks like it bubbles up naturally, the way it does on Joey. As Carrie Ann said earlier in the competition, it doesn’t come from “a place of authenticity.” I really wanted to see what he’d be like when he broke through that shell, but alas it didn’t happen. Good luck, Ian.

With Increasingly Frantic Apologies and Movie-Hero Love to Nathan Fillion

Filed under:Movies,Reviews — posted by Anwyn on May 15, 2007 @ 10:32 pm


But his new movie, Waitress, didn’t serve up properly. He was fabulous in it, and I can only hope that to all the people in the right places who still need to notice him, he was set off to advantage by all the cartoony facades of characters around him. But his character got royally shafted by the movie’s weak resolution. And the shafting of Fillion is the only the beginning of my problems with this film.

The movie’s tag line is “If only life were as easy as pie.” Well, isn’t it lucky, then, that for the heroine, Jenna (Keri Russell), it is! She gives birth to a baby she adores, is given a boatload of money by a conveniently expiring, lovable crank (Andy Griffith, lovely in the only believable role besides Fillion and Russell), which she uses to buy his pie shop where she will continue to do for a living what she does best (make the pie), tells her piece-of-shit husband to take a hike, ditches the suddenly superfluous other man as well, and lives happily ever after.

Yeah, really. The no-account husband never comes around bothering her any more; despite the fact that she goes on living in the same town, he never even makes a power play for his daughter. The doctor (Fillion) who hung on her every word and lived for her every kiss apparently settles for going back to his cloying wife without trying to win back the pie queen. Her cartoony friends are just as loving and convenient as ever, continuing to waitress for her at the new pie shop.


Fracking Oregon

Filed under:It's My Life,Wacky Oregon — posted by Anwyn @ 9:36 pm

It sprinkled rain here tonight out of a clear blue sky.

Kid you not.

Church has “Tension” over “Speaker,” now Cancelled

Filed under:Church of Liberalism,Cool,Priorities — posted by Anwyn on May 12, 2007 @ 8:58 am

If by “tension,” you mean the members of the church threatened to picket if the speaker used the church space.

If by “speaker” you mean “anti-war mom” Cindy Sheehan.

If by “anti-war mom” you mean “crazy nutty loon.”

If by “crazy nutty loon” you mean “somebody who is being ‘talked into’ running for a seat in congress.” (Via the rock star at Hot Air.)

Seriously, how great is it: This is a California church, one that a friend told me his in-laws left because it was getting too liberal and “creepy.” No wonder the pastor “didn’t anticipate” his congregation’s unrest. Emphasis mine:

[Veterans for Peace guy] Swann said he understood [Pastor] Green’s position, especially when parishioners threatened to form a picket line.

The church didn’t invite Sheehan to speak there, Green said. Veterans for Peace just asked if they could use a space for the event and he approved, he added.

“I didn’t anticipate it was going to be as big a deal as it was,” Green said.

I’d take a flier on the idea that there’s probably more than a quiet minority at that church who are almost as anti-war as Sheehan is. I’m betting it’s less about that than about her general lunacy, her cozying up to dictators like Chavez and her fantasy of killing G.W. Bush in his cradle. When you’re too outspoken for “the greater good” for a church in California, you’ve officially wacked off the charts.

Fortunately for Sheehan, there are still places in California more welcoming to her particular brand of folk-rock-loony charm. After the church pulled her platform, she landed at … City Council.

H/t: My friend with the in-laws opposed to creeping creepy in their church.

Save Lileks (Bumped)

Filed under:Priorities,Sad — posted by Anwyn on May 10, 2007 @ 9:15 pm

How to run a newspaper: Make Dave Barry cover school board meetings.


Then I guess we’ll just have Lileks cover whatever local beat happens to be vacant.

What is the Star Tribune thinking about? Having James Lileks cover news is like having James Taylor play rhythm guitar–it’s a necessary job and I’ve no doubt he’s up to it, but it seems an incredibly short-sighted waste of talent.

Which is pretty much what I told the “Strib’s” Reader Representative, Kate Parry, along with a reminder that if bringing in web traffic is one of the papers goal’s, they couldn’t do worse than to shut down Lileks. If anything he should be writing more in the Trib’s online edition.

If you like Lileks, maybe you’d like to tell the paper something similar. Contact Reader’s Rep Kate Parry here.

Update: Analogies abound. Dave Barry:

This is like the Miami Heat deciding to relieve Dwyane Wade of his basketball-playing obligations so he can keep stats.

Hugh Hewitt, quoted by Michael S. Malone at ABC:

Hewitt, I think accurately, compared it to the New Yorker asking E.B. White to switch to restaurant reviews, the L.A. Times transferring Jim Murray to the county government beat, or — in an analogy especially appreciated by this longtime Northern Californian — to the San Francisco Chronicle asking the late Herb Caen to give up his column and cover the police blotter.

The latter via Ace, who is on fire here discussing a possibility that had uneasily occurred to me, that the paper was punishing Lileks for being a nationally read conservative, but which I decided not to pursue, charitably choosing the lesser of two evils, that the new owners of the Star Tribune just have no idea what the $#@% they’re doing. But Ace’s take makes sense in light of the disgusted, high-and-mighty noises the paper’s editorial staff made over having to run conservative columnists.

Evidently the paper’s left-wing bias is so strong that people routinely call them the Red Star or the Star & Crescent. Just goes to show you a small slice of their irrelevance that even having read Lileks for over a year, I had no idea. Biased hacks.

Weekly Tolkien: Break Your Heart

Filed under:Tolkien — posted by Anwyn on May 9, 2007 @ 11:14 pm

Tolkien threads are popular around here, largely thanks to faithful commenter Professor (not student) of Physics (not engineering) LagunaDave. I’ve taken note. Back to the roots, then: Tolkien exploration and commentary, once a week and shorter (hopefully also a bit pithier) than it used to be at the ol’ Green Books hacienda. I may get into some of JRRT’s contemporaries in future as well, like (of course) Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, and others.

First up: a little tidbit in The Fellowship of the Ring as the Company sets out from Rivendell, emphases mine:

At that moment Elrond came out with Gandalf, and he called the Company to him. ‘This is my last word,’ he said in a low voice. ‘The Ring-bearer is setting out on the Quest of Mount Doom. On him alone is any charge laid: neither to cast away the Ring, nor to deliver it to any servant of the Enemy nor indeed to let any handle it, save members of the Company and the Council, and only then in gravest need. The others go with him as free companions, to help him on his way. You may tarry, or come back, or turn aside into other paths, as chance allows. The further you go, the less easy will it be to withdraw; yet no oath or bond is laid on you to go further than you will. For you do not yet know the strength of your hearts, and you cannot foresee what each may meet upon the road.’

`Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens,’ said Gimli.

‘Maybe,’ said Elrond, `but let him not vow to walk in the dark, who has not seen the nightfall.’

‘Yet sworn word may strengthen quaking heart,’ said Gimli.

`Or break it,’ said Elrond. `Look not too far ahead! But go now with good hearts! Farewell, and may the blessing of Elves and Men and all Free Folk go with you. May the stars shine upon your faces!’

A moderate amount of language to set up the short, pointy part: Sworn word may strengthen quaking heart/Or break it.

Tolkien generally reads very linearly. These people have a duty to do; some do it, to the benefit of the world; some don’t, to the detriment of their companions; but it’s generally taken for granted that Frodo will do what he said he would, right up until the devastating declaration at the lip of the crack. It’s fascinating to me, then, that Tolkien took the time explicitly to give Frodo’s companions an out. For a devout member of a religion so often accused of excess rigidity, of making unreasonable demands on people’s commitment, with all his book’s emphasis on the results of people doing or not doing their clear duty, this seems like something of a departure.

Note first, though, that even though a charge is laid on Frodo, it is not placed until after he freely accepts the duty. Though he is encouraged to believe the duty marked out for him, yet nobody commands him, for as Elrond says:

`But it is a heavy burden. So heavy that none could lay it on another. I do not lay it on you. But if you take it freely, I will say that your choice is right; and though all the mighty elf-friends of old, Hador, and Húrin, and Túrin, and Beren himself were assembled together your seat should be among them.’

It’s so heavy that Elrond won’t tell Frodo to do it, yet what would he have said if Frodo had declined? “Your choice is wrong?”

Tolkien finesses the frustrating balance between judgment and personal relationships–how to tell somebody what they should do without spooking, demeaning, or angering them–by the fact that Elrond and Frodo belong to different classes of being. The distance between them is vertical; Frodo looks up to Elrond as almost a spiritual adviser. But there he is in the very next chapter giving Frodo’s companions, chosen for his aid, free permission to desert him. Why?

Because “not even the very wise can see all ends,” because “you cannot foresee what each may meet upon the road,” and because Elrond knew, as Gimli did not, that the problem is not people who leave when the road darkens, but solely because it does. People may be drawn into their own path at the moment when you think you need them most, but still be helping your cause even though separated from you. Most notably, the fact that the Walkers did not vow to stay with Frodo absolved them from a probably fruitless, dangerous search for him when Frodo himself decided that to wait any longer for any member of the fractured Company would be counter-productive and deadly to his mission.

Ultimately, this one little passage plays out in miniature the theme which is expressed in the lives of each of Tolkien’s characters: each must follow his or her own road. I’ve remarked on it before in the context of Tolkien’s handling of female characters, and Tolkien here bears it out one more time: Frodo chose his road, and others agreed to help him on it to the best of their abilities, but even among a group all working toward the same ends, a time may come when each must help in ways that are most effective for him or her, and they may not be what he or she originally set out to do.

Leaving room for the theme of Iluvatar to operate in one’s life, for Tolkien, means to be very careful what one vows, as the song may intend to take you to other places that you may forfeit by your own vow. It has less to do with fear of commitment and more to do with caution as to what specific path you vow to take rather than what general goal you plan to reach. If the remnant of the Company still free after the attack above Rauros Falls had dared all to reach Frodo, they might not have found him, and if they had, they certainly would have been abandoning more important duties that would have helped Frodo’s goal more than their presence with him. I don’t have to spell those out for the Tolkien fans in the crowd.

In short: plan for the goal, but don’t vow the means, or you may find yourself abrogating the goal to keep the now-worthless vow.

Channeling Len

Filed under:Television — posted by Anwyn on May 8, 2007 @ 7:39 am

Okay, here’s how the watching of Dancing with the Stars went last night in my house:

Somebody would dance. I would comment. Judges Carrie Ann and Bruno would say something, and then Len Goodman would say exactly what I said and soak up huge amounts of abuse from the audience and his fellow judges.

He was right that Apolo & Julianne’s tango was “a cacophany of noise and movement.” When it came on I said it was too fast, but Len’s word “hectic” described it far better. Julianne is good at pushing boundaries, and I’ve liked some of her stuff that Len didn’t, but not that. Here’s Apolo’s problem: no weight. He’s a little, light, young, fast guy–why not? That’s what he’s supposed to be on the speed track. It hasn’t translated well to dancing. Well enough, but not well, which I think is Len’s point with him every week. The two of them need to separate the sting from the wisdom of Len’s critique and use it a little. I’m on track to vote for Ian and Cheryl next week just to try to help ensure that Apolo goes home first. Who can even look at him with firecracker Julianne on the floor? There are only a couple of occasions when he has really been able to hang with her–the rumba and the paso, and maybe the jive. I give him the props for last night’s paso–it’s a hugely difficult dance and he managed it with some aplomb.

Len was also right about Laila & Maks’s choreography, no matter whose idea it was, hers or his. I said at the time: “Her father in the audience, this huge occasion, and she’s lying down while Maks spins around for 30 seconds?” Ridiculous. Len’s right. Dance.

Let’s see, who else did Len bash? He’s going to be bashing Bruno in the teeth if the man doesn’t shut up and let him have his say. I like Bruno; he’s mainly a shrewd judge and hugely entertaining, but shut up already. I think Julianne’s appalled hyperventilating was more due to the two judges going at each other than to Len’s criticism, and I felt a bit bad for her.

Poor Ian. Foxtrot panned by all three judges and unable to melt the plastic persona even for the romantic rumba. He’s an actor, for goshsakes. Why can’t he pretend he wants Cheryl more than anything in the world and then let that show when he dances? For that matter, who wouldn’t want her while she’s dancing? She’s hotter than a biscuit. Wanting people was what they supposedly portray best on soaps like 90210. Use it, Ian, or go home before Apolo does.

P.S. What was the deal with Joey’s mambo? The music was awful. Horrible awful (as was Ian & Cheryl’s rumba to an entirely unromantic political hack tune). He stomped around far too flat-footed for somebody of his talent. I wonder if the mambo’s just not his dance.

P.P.S. Let’s see the judges dance. They’re all professionals, and I realize they might not want to show off any potential deterioration of their skills due to age and having moved on to choreography and teaching, but let’s see them do something non-demanding, like a waltz. The men could cut in on each other and whirl Carrie Ann around the floor for a few minutes. It’d be lovely.

Update: Joey and Kym in the bottom two? Looks on everybody’s faces indicated they were just as bewildered as I.

Off by One

Filed under:Television — posted by Anwyn on May 7, 2007 @ 3:58 pm

While I was gone, as I feared, my prediction for Dancing with the Stars’ top five went awry: John Ratzenberger and Edyta Sliwinska were bumped. Too bad. While you could put his dancing skills into a bag with Billy Ray Cyrus’s and take bets on which would fall out first, still, I liked his charm and gumption a little better than Billy Ray’s charm and constant hillbilly references. No matter–he’s sure to be gone tomorrow night.

I hope Apolo Anton Ohno’s attitude that judge Len Goodman is just looking for something to say when he says Ohno’s performance isn’t great is just an act. Goodman’s right–Ohno’s got the moves, but he remains a bit sloppy. His teenage fan base may keep him in next week, but it’ll be a close one between him and Ian Ziering, who is finally starting to shed his plastic persona just enough to make some progress.

Speaking of close ones, I have no prediction for the Laila Ali/Joey Fatone shootout that’s sure to wind up the season. They’re both fabulous, with no clear-cut distinction like the one between Mario Lopez’s excellent skills and Emmitt Smith’s charisma, charm, attitude, personality, and oh yeah, surprising depths of dance talent.

One thing’s absolutely clear from last week’s results show, however: Meat Loaf sounds awful these days. Awful.

It Starts Early

Filed under:It's My Life,Mothering — posted by Anwyn @ 3:47 pm

Back from vacation. After flying 3,000 miles and back with a three-year-old, I may need another vacation in a couple weeks.

I got a haircut today, and amid some standard mommy-son tickling/general “woolling,” as my mother used to call it, he mussed my hair with the following dialogue:

“Are your hairs long?”


“I like your hairs long.”

Woo! Validation! Followed immediately by this declaration:

“I’m tying Mommy’s hair together.”


Filed under:It's My Life — posted by Anwyn on May 1, 2007 @ 10:34 am




































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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace