Thursday, November 23, 2006

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Good, wholesome family movies

It's Thanksgiving weekend--a time for hanging out, cooking, chatting, eating, and (at my parents' house, at least) watching movies with family. It can be tough to find movies that are inoffensive enough for 8-year-old kids and 80-year-old grandmothers, yet awesome enough to entertain hipster youngish adults. Here are two such movies I've seen recently:

The Parent Trap (Hayley Mills version). This is a classic from 1961. Two 13-year-olds are sent to summer camp, where they discover that they are twins separated at birth. Everything about the story is satisfying, from the gradual discovery of their twinhood (Hey, we're identical except for our haircuts! Hey, we have the same birthday! Hey, you only have a mom and I only have a dad! Are you thinking what I'm thinking?) to the clever scheme involving them switching places to get their parents back together. The movie is relentlessly positive and feelgood--they don't even get mad at their parents when they realize the parents never told them about each other. It's fantastic.

Akeelah and the Bee. This is a inspirational movie about a kid from a bad neighborhood in L.A. who tries to get to the National Spelling Bee. It's on the formulaic side, but it's based on a good formula. Very enjoyable.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Blue state

I would just like to commend my home state for not embarassing itself during this election season by passing anti-gay constitutional amendments, nominating racists, or banning stem cell research. Way to go!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

My voting experience

I voted this morning, and it was a good experience. It was in a public library, and there was a lot of indoor waiting space, so I didn't have to stand out in the cold as I have in elections past. I had no voter registration card, and no one gave me a hard time about it. Still, there were a few kinks that caused me to have to wait for about 20 minutes even though there were only 5 people ahead of me.

Some suggestions to make things go more smoothly:

1. If you are a voter who fears technology, do not opt for the touch-screen voting when you have the paper option.

2. If you are the sole election volunteer capable of helping people with the touch-screen voting, do not take a break and disappear when there are multiple octogenarians who have just stepped up to the machines.

3. If you are in charge of flipping through the a hundred-page book to find a name that begins with the letter G, and the book is currently turned to the page with names beginning with "V," you can probably go ahead and flip more than one page at a time.

Feel free to comment on your own voting experiences.


It's election day, and most of you are in a serious battleground state, so you should vote.

My predictions for the most-talked-about issues here:

*Proposed Amendment 2 (amending the state constitution to allow stem cell research to the extent allowed by federal law) will not pass. Even though a good-sized majority of voters polled are for it, the grassroots effort against it is incredibly strong. Drive around looking at yard signs in the suburbs or walk into one of the bazillion Catholic churches in the area, and you'll see what I mean. I think some will vote against it because of true disagreement with the cloning & destruction of pre-implantation embryos, some because they're uncomfortable addressing these issues by constitutional amendment, and some because they have been misled into thinking it will lead to clones walking around.

*Jim Talent will beat Claire McCaskill, in part because of the high conservative turnout on Amendment 2.

*The tobacco tax will pass (despite record turnout in the smoker demographic) because nonsmokers really hate smoking.

*The minimum wage increase will pass, because the positive effects are easy to understand, while potential negative effects are based on boring and relatively difficult-to-understand arguments about ripple effects in the economy. I'm voting for it.

*Nationally, the Democrats will take the House but remain a couple of seats short of taking the Senate. For the Democrats to take the Senate, just about every close race would have to break their way. I don't see that happening.

I hope I'm wrong about some of this. In any case, though, I love election day. Turn on some NPR and CNN and enjoy yourselves, nation!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Two podcasts

Two things I love have recently been put into free podcast form, and I want to promote them.

1. This American Life. I discussed Ira Glass's brilliant radio show in an earlier post. Downloads used to cost money, but now each week's show is available for free download on iTunes the week it airs. Just subscribe, and you'll get them automatically. I am extremely excited.

2. Savage Love. You may be familiar with Dan Savage's fairly raunchy syndicated sex advice column Savage Love, which appears in most cities' weekly alternative newspapers. The author has recently started a free, 15-minute podcast version of the column, in which advice-seekers call and record questions, and he responds to a few of them. He admits that the first episode kind of sucked, but says he hopes to make future episodes less sucky. Even with some suckiness, I find him consistently charming to listen to. Worth a listen. It's available on iTunes too.

Can't get enough of Dan Savage even with the podcast? He's also the author of a wonderful book, The Kid, a memoir about the process by which he and his boyfriend adopted their child. He is also an occasional contributor to This American Life--you can search the site for his pieces.