Crash – Movie Round Up Part II – Amelia

Yes, the blog has been having a bit of split personality disorder lately.  Or maybe it’s not the blog, maybe it’s me.  Hmm, I’ll have to think on that one. 


After Joe picked Law Abiding Citizen, it was my turn to roll the cinematic dice – we’re diplomatic that way – if you blow it, you lose picking privileges until forgiven.  So, I picked Amelia, which I thought would be a fascinating story of how a woman of her era became such a feminist, a pioneer for women in the field of aviation at a time when women driving cars was frowned upon.  No such luck.  The film opens with Ms. Earhart’s first trip to New York to essentially auditition for  George Putnam,  he would later become her husband, for the prize spot of becoming the first woman to fly across the Atlantic – as part of the crew, but really as a celebrated passenger.  Where’d she come from?  Unclear.  Why does she fly?  Who knows.  Family?  General information about her father having problems with alcohol.  Instead of getting to the heart of Earhart, the movie chooses to center around the relationship between her and George, with a side trip to Vidal land – which because we know nothing about her other than she is a freewheeling free thinker not to be tied down, or earthbound, but artificial constructs such as marriage, makes very little sense.


So, what should be an enlightening biopic turns into essentially Titanic in the air – a rather boring, trite romance, with Richard Gere looking all misty eyed — and you know behind his glazed over eyes, he’s just counting the money that he’ll make from this movie, and how much he’ll be able to give to the Dalai Lama, laughing at everyone who bought a ticket to this Oscar contender in sheeps clothing – ha ha, fooled ya!  And, I guess in order to perpetuate the fraud that this is actually a good biography and a serious film, it is critical of Earhart – how many times can it tell us that in actuality, she wasn’t a very good pilot, had little training, and probably shouldn’t have been soloing across the globe in the first place?  And, because we have no back story, no insight into Amelia aside from her relationship with George, it’s hard to come away from the movie without thinking – silly woman, what was she thinking? 



And, Hilary Swank really doesn’t help matters.  Sure, she could be Amelia’s twin, yeah, she’s got that strange androgyny thing going – but all of this really serves as a distraction.  Like her teeth – I find it hard to watch Swank because of her teeth – just a little aside.  Here, Swank affects what I suppose is a Kansas accent – puts on masculine, boyish clothes, and has her eyes permanently affixed straight ahead, in a wide eyed stare, I guess signifying honesty, and a rose colored glasses way of looking at the world.  Just doesn’t work for me.  And, I don’t believe it – I look at pictures of Amelia Earhart, and the one thing you know from those pictures is that she was a player – and everything she did, she did full throttle – those pictures show hard living – and you get none of that from Swank.  The accent, the strange speech patterns, the clothes – she wears them like a Halloween costume – it all seemed very unnatural – she didn’t become the character, she just wore her.


So, will the Academy be fooled – accents are biggies at award time, along with gaining weight, and playing Nazis.  Heck, Richard Gere could be nominated for best support actor his “subtle” (he mailed it in) performance, could be a nice enough performance for the Academy to throw him a body of work bone.  And her – if she gets nominated, it’s definitely what I’ve called in the past, the Emperor’s New Clothes Syndrome – this wasn’t a great performance, but she has all the trappings to fool a fool – accent, teeth, clothes.  We’ll have to see.

Foxx Does Philly – Movie Round Up Part I

While I still have several posts written in my head about San Diego, they’ve failed to go live due to technical difficulties – I lost my USB cord for my camera, and need to buy a card reader, I accidently deleted the pictures I meant to upload from work from my flash drive, just bonehead stuff.  So, still more San Diego to come!

In the meantime, I figured I do a movie review round – up.  Because, yes, even on our honeymoon, we went to the movies.

lawabidingcitFirst up, Law Abiding Citizen with Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler.  Perhaps, this movie was a little too close to home for me – literally and figuratively.  Filmed in Philadelphia, and at times, almost in my own backyard, Law Abiding Citizen is dark, oh so dark – with ominous clouds, gloomy weather, and with so little color, that the movie could have been shot in black and white.  While appropriate for the story, I suppose, it does nothing for the Philadelpha aesthetic — or city could not have looked uglier.  I guess you couldn’t possible film a taut thriller on a sunny day in Fairmount Park, that would have been too much to ask.

But city love aside, Law Abiding Citizen was just too preposterous for me to bare.  I must have knocked Joe a half a dozen times as I squirmed in my chair, restless with annoyance.   When a District Attorney actually stepped foot in a prison, he got an elbow to the side.  When a capital murder defendant had a bail hearing, he got my foot to his knee.  I just couldn’t take it.

Why does cinema verite not apply to the law?  Why does no one care if they get it right if they’re making a “legal” thriller?  From the moment this film begins, it gets it all wrong.  The movie’s premise is the following – Gerard Butler’s character’s family is slaughtered in a home invasion/sexual assault by two sceevy looking thugs.  The perpetrators are caught, and arrested.  Somehow, the more culpable of the two manages to cut a deal with the prosecutor to testify against the less guilty guy for a hugely reduced sentence.  When the prosecutor explains this to the grieving father Butler, he says things like “there’s a technicality.  We can’t use the DNA found at the scene – the defense was able to suppress it because it was tainted.”  Blah blah blah.  First of all, suppression hearings happen in open court, generally right before the trial starts.  They are not back room maneuvers.  Secondly, this DNA was supposedly DNA found on the little girl, in the house – not DNA recovered from the perpetrators.  An attorney could not suppress it because his client has no privacy interest in the evidence recovered from the crime scene.  I suppose it could have been “tainted” upon collection, but that doesn’t get you suppression, that gets you an argument at trial.  Whatever – why get it right eh?   And there’s Gerard Butler, crying, begging him not to cut a deal, because he was there, and he can identify the perpetrators.  Eh, the Assistant District Attorney Jamie Foxx says, you blacked out, no one will believe you.  I blacked out after, says Butler, I saw everything.  Not good enough.  Not good enough?  Eyewitness testimony to the slaughter of his family is not good enough?  Hmmm — I wish the jury knew that during the last case I lost, where there was no DNA and only eyewitness testimony.

Obviously, I could go on and on about the inaccuracies in the movie.  And, I won’t – go on and on and on – but I will go on a bit more – here’s a for instance:

Jamie Foxx, a star Assistant District Attorney,  interrogates Butler’s character in a state prison facility, in a kind of star chamber, equipped with one way glass and a sound system, in what looks like Eastern State Penitentiary.  A.  Assistant DA’s do not go to prison, unless it’s for line-ups or detainer hearings.  In fact, I’ve met many a DA in the parking lot, completely lost, and befuddled about how to actually get into the prison.  Instead, if a DA needs to talk to an incarcerated individual (a witnesss, not the actual defendant – that’s next), they have their DA Detectives go up to the prison, put them in a van, and either bring them down to the Criminal Justice Center (not City Hall, because DA’s do not work in City Hall) or their office (again, the DA’s off ice is not in City Hall).  Law-Abiding-Citizen-And that’s not because they’re not doing their jobs – on the contrary – C. an Assistant District Attorney is not allowed to speak to a charged murderer, or any charged defendant for that matter.  I guess in this movie, since he was acting as his own attorney, I suppose communication would have been possible, but Police question suspects, not DA’s. There are so many reasons why this is this case, so just trust me on this one.  And, this star chamber, apparently housed at Eastern State Penitentiary, exists no where in Philadelphia.  Murder suspects are brought to the Roundhouse, an incredibly ugly building, rotting from the inside out, in the heart of the historic district, where they are placed in a small interview room, equipped with cameras that are only turned on if the suspect decides he wants to recreate the crime for the camera.  Suspects, during interrogation, are often given hoagies or chinese food, but not Craft-o-Matic beds, or steak dinners from Del Frisco’s. 


There I’m done – I could go on – like I said – and on . . . but let me just finish with a word for the nonlegal minded, those of you who just want to go to a good movie.  This isn’t it.  Even if you know nothing of the law, this movie just doesn’t do it.  The plot, involving high levels of gratuitous gore, is uninspiring, and frankly unoriginal.  Vigilante justice is nothing new, and Butler’s character doesn’t bring anything to the table.  In the beginning you are lead to believe that he’s an ordinary law abiding citizen, but you come to learn he’s actually a government terminator, with a brain so sophisticated only Jamie Foxx and his army of one detective can diffuse it.  Whatever.  If I had any sympathy for the guy – an ordinary shlub taken advantage of and betrayed by the criminal justice system – it was gone once I found out what hypocrite he was.  Here he is, raging against the criminal justice machine, yet he himself was employed as a lethal execution – judge, jury, the works – did his victims get to negotiate – was justice ever served? 


There’s no suspense in this movie.  Of course, Jamie Foxx will find redemption, rise in the ranks, and learn to appreciate his family, his long ignored wife and children.  Whatever. 


Next:  Amelia

Post o’ Panda – San Diego Zoo 2009

Many people wondered why Joe and I got married so quickly; we were engaged in August and married in November. Luckily, this isn’t the 50’s — people weren’t huddling in corners, and whispering in hushed voices, “Is she pregnant?” – no I just got straight forward questions – are you knocked up? The answer to that would be – no.


The real answer is that we already had a vacation planned in November – a trip to San Diego to see the Eagles v. the Chargers at Qualcom Stadium, and we planned around what turned out to be a lovely preplanned honeymoon. The answer to why Eagles v. Chargers is a more complicated question, actually. My dear husband, even though a lifelong PA resident, somehow emerged a Chargers fan. Something to do with Dan Fouts, something to do with the West Coast offense – I don’t know.


So, over the next week, while I will not attempt to explain my husband’s Charger nature, I will try to blog about our trip. Today’s post is my favorite part of our trip – besides being with my new hubby, of course.


Joe’s not really a zoo enthusiast, but after seeing his team win on their home field, it wasn’t too hard to get him to go to the San Diego Zoo, and spend some quality time with their Pandas.


The San Diego Zoo has been home to at least 2 Pandas since 1987. Now, they have a whole family of Pandas. The women in the family are not camera shy, and can be viewed sleeping and eating – it’s nice to be a Panda. The new baby Panda can be observed on a monitor, and you can watch him coo and wriggle all day long – and if Joe hadn’t pushed me along, we probably would have been there all day long.  503

When we were there, this new little guy didn’t have a name, but on Tuesday, he had his naming ceremony, and he is now Yun Zi, “son of cloud,” which is appropriate since his mommy’s name is Bai Yun, “white cloud.”



 Yun Zi’s daddy, unlike his mommy, is camera shy, and I got the impression he is never available for viewing.  Apparently, Pandas are not the little sweethearts that they appear to be, but rather are creatures who have little patience, and do not, under any circumstance, want to be interrupted when eating.  Lemon will not be playing with any Pandas any time soon.


The other somewhat disappointing Panda fact I learned is that their fur is not soft at all – in fact, it’s coarse, and much like steel wool.  Now, I’ll never wonder why we don’t knit from Pandas, like we do from Alpacas, or LLamas, or sheep.  No Panda sweater for me.


So, here are the pictures I took of the two lady Pandas – Su Lin and Zhen Zhen.



I probably took a gazillion pictures of the pandas, and I don’t even know if these are the best ones. But, here’s a video Joe shot – I think this is Zhen Zhen-

Of course, Pandas are not the only highlight at the zoo. While I think Philadelphia can go toe to toe with San Diego as far as variety of animals, and attempting to create the most natural environment for the creatures, San Diego definitely has the upper hand when it comes to surroundings and layout – the zoo is, after all, in the middle of Balboa Park, surrounded by a harbor town and neighboring foothills.  There’s a 30 minute guided tour bus, and the footpaths glide easily up and down sloping hills, adjacent to animal habitats.  The newest exhibit is called tIMG_1230he Elephant Odyssey, and while the main attraction is the elephants, its supposed to be an archeological stroll through California’s indigenous animal population.  Within this exhibit, there are not only elephants, but a few lions, and a jaguar – so close behind the glass you can almost smell the carcasses they’re chowing down on. 


Anyway, I won’t post all 30 billion pictures I took at the zoo – but you can see some of them here


And, of course, I did come home with my Panda t-shirt.  But, riddle me this – why, in this new world of souvenir t-shirts, am I a size large child or an size x-large woman?

Keep it Spinning

So, now that the life has calmed down, the tornado of thoughts that swirled through my head has settled, and the dust is clearing.


And, now I remember what the point of my cultural graffiti post (see below – what the heck was my point?) was going to be – it was supposed to be a book review singing the praises of Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann, easily the best book I read this year.  Oh yeah, that’s what I really wanted to talk about . . .


let-the-great-world-spin-0809-lgAnd what does Let the Great World Spin have to do with cultural graffiti, my theory about spray painting crap on top of art (Sea Monsters swimming in Bath in Jane Austen), or crap on top of crap (Matt Damon’s endless voiceover in The Informant) as the case may be – Let the Great World Spin is a richly layered novel, that dispenses with gimmicks and writer tricks, creating a story set in 1974 that easily could be lifted and transposed onto 2009 – timelessness isn’t a trick, it’s writing that transcends – lifting the subtance above the story, rather than burying it under guck.


Let the Great World Spin takes place during the course of one day in 1974, when Philip Petit danced and romped joyously on a tightrope strung between the Twin Towers, with intersecting stories of the lives of ordinary people – drug addled prostitutes, mothers mourning sons, an immigrant priest, among others – who all experience a moment that makes them extraordinary.  And this moment — whether it be a moment of love or loss –  is a moment brimming with extraordinary humanity.  This story, that draws from Watergate, Vietnam, and the counterculture of the 70’s, is a mirror of our younger, American selves – it’s about how the past informs the present, and as Esquire Magazine put it, it’s “the first great 9/11 novel,” and tells us more about that day, than any book that actually tries to describe that day or strives to tell a 9/11 story. 


Anyway, so I must thank Oprah – you are now forgiven for those disgusting Turkey burgers – Oprah spread the word about this book through a free e-book giveaway (love my Kindle!!!!), and after the Turkey burgers, it would have to be free, because Oprah endorsements had gone sour for me.  Oprah, you are redeemed, because this book was truly a gift.

Catching Up!


What can I say? Sigh – a picture IS worth a thousand words.  Isn’t my husband handsome!


As anyone who attempts to follow this blog knows, my posts may trickle off for no reason, or a good reason, or something in between.  This particular hole in in the blog was due solely to lack of time, and then technical difficulties.  The last three weeks have been crazy.  Not only did I manage to put a wedding together, I was on trial for 2 straight weeks, and without going into detail, it was a nightmare. 


In the midst of this perfect storm of obligations, I was writing blog posts in my head – but, unfortunately, what was in my head was never realized “on paper.”  When I finally did find time to write, it turned out that my website had been hacked, and Dreamhost had moved all of my files into a temporary, unpublished folder.  I got this long, involved email from Dreamhost about how to find the corrupted files, update software, etc., but really, in the middle of trying a shooting case that seemed to drag on into eternity, making ridiculous wedding favors, and counting the days that my wedding dress wasn’t in (it came in the week before the wedding – just when it was supposed to, but nervewracking nonetheless), I was flumoxed.  So, after the wedding, I wrote Dreamhost a rather pathetic email about how inept I am at anything other than one button installing, and they graciously fixed my problems.  Thank you Dreamhost!


Anyway, here are some of the blog posts I thought about writing, but never did –


1.  Cultural Graffiti – Joe and I saw The Informant when it came out (that will tell you how long ago I started writing in my head, and not regurgitating on the computer).  I had a total eggheady post planned about the new trend in art, literature, movies, whatever, to graffiti on top of original material.  In the Informant, there’s a rather dull, straightforward corporate espionage thriller that is falling flat on the bottom, and then, there’s a running internal monologue that Matt Damon’s character is having with himself superimposed on top in the form of a voice over.  Instead of being able to craft a tongue-in-cheek movie with just the primary script, the director failed so miserably that in order for people to get it, he had to carve open his main characters brain in order for us to get that the guy was really a bungling sociopath.  And then there’s the new fascination with Jane Austen and Vampires, and Jane Austen and Sea Monsters.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this desire to put crap on top of art (or in the case of  The Informant, crap on top of crap), and, since I never wrote the post, I’ll guess I’ll figure out my final thoughts on the subject some day.


2.  Dancing with the Stars – I can’t even begin to tell you how incensed I was about Tom DeLay buffooning around in our Stars and Stripes on national television.  I wanted to write to the show so they could change his introduction from “former congressman” to” disgraced former congressman.”  His prancing around in tights and liederhosen is just another sign of our nation’s call to tackiness.  It is no wonder that Serena Williams told a line judge that she was going to shove a ball down her f-ing throat, that our President was called a liar by a heckler in a joint session of Congress, that Kanye West crashed the stage at the Grammy’s.  If we can collectively support an indicted, but not yet tried, thief in a ridiculous ballroom dancing competition which gives Japanese game shows a run for their money, really . . . we have to start asking when we draw the line between entertainment and offense. 


3.  My wedding shawl.  So, um, yeah – Brad Lidge failed miserably in his one closing appearance at the World Series, and I failed to close the handknit accessory of my wedding ensemble.  Sort of.  I started out knitting Miralda’s Triangle, as you will recall, but my original idea had been to knit something worsted since the weddingcapewedding was November 1.  So, when Ysolda’s capelet, Emily, came out, I totally switched up, put aside the fingering weight shawl, bought some Manos silk blend, and knit this.


I was so excited – perfect, I thought.


And then I tried it on with the dress – P1100498

And, as you can see, I’m not wearing it.  It didn’t match – at all.  The color was completely wrong.  How could I go wrong with cream, I thought?  But, I did.  Sigh.  So, I thought about reknitting it, with a whiter yarn, I thought about the new Manos Rittenhouse blend, a yummy, smooth merino, but I only had a week until the wedding, I was still on trial, and I had another case to try in the middle of the one I was already trying – so I just gave up, gave in.  And, it was fine – it was  a warm day.


4.  And, to end the suspense for all – it being a warm day, no hose!  And no one said a word . . .wendyandjoe

And see, you can’t even tell!

Tea, Crumpets, Paper Dolls and Owls

katedavisOn Sunday, during her whirlwind romp through Philadelphia, Kate Davies stopped by Rosie’s Yarn Cellar for pastries and chat. 


And, with her, she brought the original Paper Dolls (much shorter than the pattern – definitely inspiring me to rip the bottom our of mine, since I used two different dyelots of cream), and another Paper Doll incarnation – paperdolls

Sweet colors!  Every time I see a different version of this sweater, I feel this pull to knit another one . . . but then I realize that’s silly – although, the beret version would be sweet . . .






And, she also brought the original Owls sweater – if it weren’t almost 80 degrees, I would have tried it on! 


Anyway, I just had time to say hi, knit a few rows, and dash off to Michael’s to buy stuff to make wedding favors.  Does this post seemed rushed – that’s the way everything is these days.  Everytime I think everything is done, I remember something else I have to do.  I was in Macy’s after court this morning, and I noticed some crystal earrings – uch, have to get a hair doo-hickey for the back of my hair.  Then later, I was telling someone about our stupid favors, and I that made me think about the tables, and I remembered that I hadn’t forwarded our table placecard list to the printers – gar!  All is well, though, I have plenty of time — 25 days, two homicide trials, 2 Springsteen concerts, and one Them Crooked Vultures Show to go!

Taking one for the Team

I really took it on the chin this week.




On Wednesday, day two of the case I tried this week, I walked in the courthouse, stood in the ridiculously long security line, put my bag on the conveyor belt, and walked through the metal detector.  I went back around the metal detector to retrieve my bag, and the next thing I knew, wham!  I got socked in the chin by the sheriff.  The Sheriff was trying to help a guy in a wheelchair navigate through the crowd, and instead of pointing with his pointy finger, he pointed with a fist – and whack! 


And people think I should be afraid of my clients . . . sheesh.