Big Love for Sacramento
Feb 28th, 2009 by Dr Karma

Real quick: This week’s episode of Big Love has the family taking a road trip (and reminding me why I refuse to take road trips). One scene is supposed to take place on the Mississippi, but it was apparently shot in Sacramento. See our familiar Old Sac (with weird faux-southern flags) and golden bridge in the background.

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Rude People
Feb 28th, 2009 by Dr Karma

Last night I went to the opera.  Figaro was my first.  When I was in theatre, we would make fun of opera–too much singing, too little acting, but I had to go, especially when the chance presented itself.

I enjoyed it, but I have to say that sometimes the art of the singing did get in the way of the plot/acting.  I was taken out of the moment each time a character told another to whisper (because they were hiding) AT THE TOP OF THEIR LUNGS. 

I was also taken out of the moment by the incessant tapping of shoes.  The man seated behind me kept tapping both of his squeaky shoes (not in time to the music).

There were a surprising number of kids at the show (and the show went past 11:30).  One was seated to my right and in the fourth act, she got tired enough to need to whisper a lot.  She wasn’t rude, though–her mother was.  She decided that her tired little girl needed to leave the theatre before everyone else, so she waited until the last line to leave.  So I didn’t see the last line, I was too busy standing up to let her pass.  I sat down just in time for the curtain to fall.

The last rude thing of the show–the director came out and bowed with the cast.  WTF?  Who does that?  Is that an opera thing?  No wonder we theatre people made fun of them.  Our directors are pretentious off-stage, not on.

But the winner of the rudest person of the week contest:  Richard Williamson.  Yes, our favorite Holocaust-denying Bishop is back.  (Did you know that he hates The Sound of Music, not because its pap, but because it portrays Nazis in a bad light?  Seriously.)  He issued an apology and the Vatican has said it’s not good enough.

He said:  “Observing these consequences I can truthfully say that I regret having made such remarks, and that if I had known beforehand the full harm and hurt to which they would give rise, especially to the Church, but also to survivors and relatives of victims of injustice under the Third Reich, I would not have made them.”

Karma’s quick translation:  If I’d known everybody was going to get upset, I wouldn’t have said it.  (Note that he doesn’t say he was wrong.)

He also said:  “On Swedish television I gave only the opinion… of a non-historian, an opinion formed 20 years ago on the basis of evidence then available and rarely expressed in public since.

“However, the events of recent weeks and the advice of senior members of the Society of St Pius X have persuaded me of my responsibility for much distress caused. To all souls that took honest scandal from what I said before God I apologise.”

Karma’s quick translation:  Twenty years ago, I think we were all agreed that the Jews were overexaggerating things and I haven’t learned anything since then.  The Church has ordered me to say I’m sorry, so I am.  Saying it.

1988?  I think we all knew about the gas chambers in 1988 (I did, and I was 13) and it’s the gas chambers that he’s really not convinced about.

Note: no one from the Church is asking him to recant any of the sexist bullshit he believes or even make him agree to Vatican II.

New Matchflick Column and an Atwood update
Feb 27th, 2009 by Dr Karma

The matchflick column is here:

I reported a little while ago on Atwood not attending a conference in Dubai because the conference censored an author whose book had a gay muslim character.  Atwood (and the rest of us) have since learned that the conference says they didn’t censor the book or author, but that they did not choose the book for inclusion in the festival.  The author seems to have exaggerated.  Atwood is going to appear at the conference via satellite for a panel on censorship.

I think there’s going to be a lot to talk about.  Her own book, The Handmaid’s Tale, is still under review by a school system after a challenge.  Part of that book was inspired by Atwood’s visit to Islamic countries and her experimentation with a burka.

Also, while the conference says it didn’t censor the other author’s book, one interview I read did say that a conference organizer felt the text was “too controversial.”  As we asked in book group last night, what’s the line between “I censor your book!” and “Sorry, due to its content, we won’t work with this book–it’s too controversial/thought-provoking”?

Good news and bad
Feb 25th, 2009 by Dr Karma

First, the bad:

Steven Page is leaving Barenaked Ladies. Perhaps it has finally occurred to him that he is a bloke who is often dressed? Will miss his voice.  Am trepidacious about his upcoming “solo” career, even though he’s incredibly talented.

And now the good news: Stillman (aka Chaz) had one of his songs featured at isound. This is an older one, but it’s the one who got him a contract. Check it out here:

You can also listen to other songs on his myspace page.  I recommend “The Thaw.”  If/when he ever puts up the song about our summer together, I’ll let you know.

Chaz at work

Chaz at work

Also, we can rejoice because Michael Cera has agreed to do the Arrested Development movie.  There’s always money in the banana stand!

Working (on the book) avec crumpets
Feb 25th, 2009 by Dr Karma

So I tried crumpets for the first time day–Trader Joe’s rarely does me wrong.  Are they supposed to taste like doughy english muffins and sit heavily in the stomach?

I’ve been watching The Simpsons all week (from the beginning), making notes, and checking the wikipedia entries for things I may have missed (this has led to my new hobby of wikipedia editing–sometimes it’s grammar, sometimes factual.  The boy says I simply must do this service.  It makes me even whiter and nerdier than before!

<object width=”425″ height=”344″><param name=”movie” value=”″></param><paramname=”allowFullScreen” value=”true”></param><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always”></param><embed src=”” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true” width=”425″ height=”344″></embed></object>

(Yes, the lego version.  I can’t embed the real one for some reason.)

Am also reading everything other people have written about my favorite show.  This in itself isn’t a problem (except that it’s taking a lot of time and I like reading more than the requisite taking of notes).  I’m going crazy with the little and big mistakes and growing increasingly more paranoid that I’m going to make some. 

But really, I’m tired of reading the same two things over and over again (especially when they’re in every article in a book).

1.  One may think it’s strange to write/study/learn from The Simpsons, but . . .

2.  (some description of the characters, e.g. Bart is the troublemaker . . .)

It’s all cliches now and I think I’m going to go mad.  Am tempted to keep a chart with how many times the same words are used (hapless, moral center, etc).

Review of The History of Love
Feb 23rd, 2009 by Dr Karma

history-of-loveA little ways into The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, it occurred to me that the book had a lot in common with Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.  I read Foer’s book with my book group, but I wasn’t that fond of it.  Krauss seems to be doing what Foer was trying to do–but actually pulling it off.

The History of Love has multiple points of view and books within books.  I enjoyed all of the voices and found them touching.  Ultimately, this book is about two people.  Leo escaped WWII only to find his love married to another and the book he was writing lost.  We meet him decades later, as he struggles to feel seen in a world where he’s been erased as a man, father, and writer. 

Alma is a young girl trying to find her widowed mother a new love interest, to shake her mother out of depression.  She must also contend with a younger brother who consols himself in religious devotion (to the point of building an ark) and a foreign born male friend who wants to be a boyfriend.

Are the lives of our two heroes going to touch?  Of course.  Will all secrets be revealed?  Not exactly.  And even those that are will be more clear to you than to the characters.  While there are amazing coincidences in this book, the realistic streak comes from several characters dying before they find out secrets or before cathartic confrontations.

Speaking of coincidences, Krauss and Foer are married, but they didn’t meet until they had written the books about writing and love that I find so similar. 

I highly recommend this.

The Russians are reading (and invading?)!
Feb 20th, 2009 by Dr Karma

These days, the only people who are commenting on the blog are people from .ru. At first, I was getting a bunch of messages that said “yoooo, dr-karma is the best name ever!” They were accompanied by links to other pages, which basically made them ads. Today I have five comments all pending for “A Proper Blog,” the blog that included the glossary at the very beginning of all this:
You may use Yahoo for this question, it can be interesting.
Most interesting blog of this month!
How may I begin won journal?
I agree with all in this post! Thank you
I should find morer infprmation about this post
These are not accompanied by ad links, though they may be a gateway (once you get approved, you get to post whatever).
Am I being too cautious about spam or should I embrace my Russian fan club?

Margaret Atwood News
Feb 18th, 2009 by Dr Karma

Atwood has pulled out of an appearance at the International Festival in Dubai after a British author was banned from the conference due to homosexual content in her work. Dubai is supposed to be the Vegas of the Arab world, but as many countries’ leaders have told us (I’m looking at you, Iran), there are apparently no gay people in the Arab world. This is especially funny since the Arab world seems fond enough of Michael Jackson (maybe they have it mixed up and think he likes little girls?)

In other news, the school board in Canada who heard a complaint about The Handmaid’s Tale has decided that the book is still recommended and has value to students. The newspaper story I read about it quoted the father who complained about the book as saying he wasn’t sure what his son was supposed to be learning from the text. Maybe he’d like to come to book group and we could help him out with that?

First lesson–the book teaches you that the freedom to read is more important than the freedom from having books out there you don’t like.

Eddie Izzard has won an award for Stripped!
Feb 16th, 2009 by Dr Karma

Just a quick note. Eddie has won “best solo performance” at the British theatre awards. Yea, Eddie!

St. Valentine’s Day
Feb 14th, 2009 by Dr Karma

So, I don’t have to celebrate this holiday, right?  I mean, I’m not Catholic, so I don’t have to do Saints’ days.  However, Jeopardy! just taught me that some believe this holiday was actually based on a Roman fertility festival.  So if I’m feeling pagan . . .

I’ve never been that into this holiday.  It’s not out of bitterness.  I’ve been partnered for more of them than I’ve been single.  And they’ve all been more or less adequate, as far as these things are supposed to go.  In fact, some of the times when I’ve been single have been better (as I used to have pizza and beer and watch The Hunt for Red October).

I think what mostly turns me off to this holiday is the bullshit expectation in heterosexual circles that this is the day men are supposed to go broke for their mates.  It’s about flowers and candy and cards and sometimes rings, but always about spending money on her (in rather predictable ways).  So, two things:

1.  If this is supposed to be a day about love, women should be contributing.  (And fine, if that means the guy wants a bj for all the money he spent, whatever, but that does bring up how close to prostitution this all is.)  In my perfect world, the couple should be equal, even on v-day.  (That’s why Ken and I bought each other a roomba last year).

2.  While I’m not knocking flowers and candy on v-day, I don’t think it’s the height of romance.  Because a day when that kind of thing is mandated is not about romance.  If your partner is only romantic on v-day and anniversaries, your relationship must suck.

Let me clarify, though.  Romance is not candy and flowers exclusively.  Ken washed my car inside and out this week because I complained about the dust aggravating my allergies.  That’s more romantic than holiday-nazi mandated flowers because the washing indicates that he listens and cares and is willing to take actions to make my life better.

On another note, I feel sucky this Valentine’s Day because I didn’t get out any cards or anything to my friends, though they made me cards and cookies and such.  In fact, am tempted to scan the card MD made because it was hilarious. 

I just hope they know I love them without the cards. 

Speaking of love, The Simpsons premieres in HD tomorrow.  I wonder if I’ll actually be able to tell the difference.

People who should get Valentines this year:

Obama (duh)

George W Bush (I love that you’re not President; many happy returns).

Creationists (I love that you give me something to write about).

Weird Al Yankovic, Eddie Izzard, Colin Firth, and many other crushes.

The forefathers (if only for Free Speech).

Panama City Beach, which Joy Turner on My Name is Earl declared “classy” a few weeks ago.  Hooray for one of my hometowns!

Margaret Atwood, but I already send her birthday cards, and it’s only my affiliation with the Atwood Society that doesn’t make that slightly creepy.

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