Sunday, February 22, 2004

Which Nineties SubCulture Do You Belong To?

I attribute this to my love as a young teen for My So-Called Life. Fun quiz though. (Link complements of Meredith at Inner Monologues)

Which 1990's Subculture Do You Belong To?

[Another Quiz by Kris

Maybe This Explains It

Why have I been lacking creativity and the will to blog lately? Creativity, attention, and your ability to keep track of multiple sources of information suffer with too little sleep. In my case, it's not so much that I'm not getting sleep -- just not getting QUALITY rest. Here's to hoping they come up with a cure (besides Ritalin) for the narcolepsy soon.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Jonah at Valpo

Before I was married and he was married, Jonah Goldberg was my imaginary boyfriend. I considered driving up to Valparaiso to see his speech last night, but I'm still sort of under the weather and didn't want to battle traffic without my better half. It still sounds like a fascinating evening though, and I'd be interested in hearing the account of any NRO-fan bloggers who might have attended.
Prelude to March Madness

A sinus infection has kept me under the weather the past week or so. However, I have never liked Mike Davis, so I wanted to link to Josh Claybourn's post on ousting him from the Hoosier basketball throne. Even if I like to see Illinois beat Indiana, I like to see the Hoosiers playing well. If nothing else, it helps that Big Ten RPI that needs all the help it can get these days.

The sports headlines have made it a bit easier to be an Illinois basketball fan the past two weeks. Between the Illini's orange-hot victory over Michigan State and the solid defeat of the #10 Wisconsin Badgers to Bill Self's recent losing streak in Lawrence, it's been much easier to root for our boys in orange and blue. The defense is finally starting to gel, enabling the Illini to shut down various foes' shooting power for almost ten minutes at a time, and my favorite players Deron Williams and James Augustine are starting to get hot.

The irony of all this is Bruce Weber left Southern to come to Illinois, and now the smooth-playing Salukis are ranked 23rd due to their domination of the Missouri Valley Conference. Meanwhile, the Illini can't get any respect and break back into the polls. Perhaps this week will change that though. Regardless, I have seen enough to judge myself a fan of Bruce Weber's coaching ability. It's taken a while for the pieces to fall into place, but now I'm feeling good about Illinois's chances of making it past the NCAA second round again this year.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

The Kerry Mess

Oh Matt Drudge, what have you started now? Drudge Report broke a story today that is likely to gain him just as much fame/notoriety as the infamous blue dress. The election has been thrown into partial chaos with the newest rumor that John F'n Kerry has a lady intern friend. Lots of speculation and strung together facts -- the words intern, leggy, blonde, twenty-something, Georgetown, AP, and Africa all factor in at this point. Josh Claybourn has a good summary of today's developments on this matter.

My gut says two things about this topic: 1) Please don't make this election all about infidelity because there are too many important issues to discuss; I really feel like the future of the country is at stake. 2) Deep down, I still wonder if the Clintons are somehow behind this. At the very least, former Gore/Kerry campaign steward Chris Lehane played an active role.

On one hand, this story bothers me less than ole Slick Willy abusing his power with interns because...well Kerry hasn't had done such deeds mid-teleconference in the Oval Office yet. He's just another corrupt senator at this point. On the other hand, I think this DOES matter as a presidential campaign issue. As Spoons has already articulately pointed out -- if we can't trust a man to uphold the vows he makes to his spouse, it's legitimate to question whether he will uphold the oath of office he takes as President. That's not just a promise to one person, that's a promise to 292 million.

Updated 2/19: We all know by now that the Poliers have come out with denials. While the rumor may or may not have contained a smidge of truth, her parents' public about-face in less than a week is still quite confusing. My guess is we'll probably never know they whole story. If you're interested though, here's Polier's grandma letting us know this story shouldn't play in Peoria. Grandmas are often the first to know about their dear little ones' illicit affairs, you know?

Monday, February 09, 2004

Not a Hummer?

Somewhat flippant NRO article from Friday, but it has some interesting information on the Dem candidates' driving machines: What Would President Jesus Drive?
Grammys vs. Bateman

Recent blogroll addition Allison Lives has up a smart summation of what's what from the Grammy telecast last night.

I really should care more about such award shows, but I could hardly stay awake for Arrested Development last night. If you haven't seen this show and you are a fan of quirky humor ala Scrubs, you really should think about giving this show a chance. Or perhaps three or four chances...which I did to appease my husband and now I am hooked. Sundays on FOX at 8:30 (that's an hour after the Simpsons ends for all the guys out there).

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Hopping on the wagon

Where I've been in my lifetime is in red, for those who really want to know...

create your own visited states map
More Divided Than Ever Before?

Good, albeit a bit snarky Jonah Goldberg piece at NRO today. File this excerpt under "He's got a point there".

First of all, until you've got more than 600,000 American bodies stacked up like cordwood, spare me the "more divided than ever before" talk. We have this phrase in political discourse which is very useful. It goes like this: "...since the end of the Civil War..." You can put it at the end or the beginning of almost any sentence to indicate that you are discussing trends that began after the War Between the States concluded. Because that period in American history is what you might call a statistical outlier. We were really divided then, what with all the shooting each other and stuff. Even in places where there was no shooting, we were very divided. The New York Draft Riots, for example, featured mobs of 50,000 ticked-off New Yorkers and Irish immigrants who burned big chunks of the city over three days and hanged a lot of black people from street lights. I know the Florida recount was a big deal and all, but let's get a little perspective.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

She Gives Liberals a Bad Name

Steal a line from Bon Jovi, start my ranting. So I was burning up at work today as I listened to a co-worker tell a young Indian tekkie her take on the primaries. I'll spare you most of the details, but to give you a short summary: she's a baby boomer with job security who thinks it's fine to spend company time and money clogging up the area printers with every e-mail / document she receives from lefty-leaning organizations. While I find it irritating, I generally avoid political discourse with this person for two reasons: 1) Both of us are set in our beliefs and previous exchanges have gone nowhere 2) I don't see this as a smart career move, especially since I'll need to maintain a business relationship with her for some time.

Today though, listening was a bit much for me. I almost lost my temper and stormed over to join the discussion. First, she gave my friend the low-down on yesterday's primaries. This was all well and good -- she's entitled to her opinions. She told him that in her opinion John Edwards was just too inexperienced, that Dean was the best candidate for the job, but that Kerry was primarily seen as the electable one and therefore going to get the nominations. No problems there -- it was actually kind of informative, helping me understand what the opposition is thinking.

Then she told him most people who support President Bush are doing so out of a misguided sense of patriotism and because they are just too stupid to think for themselves and would believe whatever Fox News told them. She then proceeded to tell him that Fox News is so conservative that half of what they put on the air is not true anyways, it's what they are paid by the corporations to tell people to think.

I'm fidgeting in my seat, trying to force myself to remain quiet at this point. Not because this lady is a flaming liberal, that's not why we don't get along. I LIKE quite a few flaming liberals. I don't believe political lefties are bad or dim people. On the contrary, I consider quite a few liberals amongst my better friends. They are generally intelligent and often some of more compassionate and well-meaning people I know. Most just want to take care of everyone -- a very admirable trait that I share with them. We disagree on the best method for doing so: me advocating the growth of various ministries, charities, and private industry to fund good works far and wide, them looking to the government bureaucracies to solve such problems.

My point here is that this lady gives liberals a bad name. This is the same beef I have with many loud Hollywood types -- that they cannot acknowledge that reasonable, thoughtful people can come to different conclusions on the best way to govern.

I'm not fighting the fact that Fox News is an opinion-based news channel. It's generally snippet reporting, full of opinions, and trends towards sensationalistic reporting. However, I do know that I can trust them to NOT ignore the conservative's viewpoint on a given issue. Can't say that for the mainstream media...which is primarily why I rely on newspapers and the Internet for my news stories anymore. But I would argue that almost all the FACTS they air are true, while the opinions are just political commentary. I'm fighting with the fact that this lady felt comfortable explaining our political system to my friend by saying "Everyone supporting Bush is just stupid and misguided". I was embarassed and angry that she felt comfortable explaining our political system to an outsider in that manner...and that she would just basically write me off as stupid. Rest assured I'll be talking to my Indian friend at a later date, explaining the conservative side's viewpoint to him as well.

I have a good friend, a twenty-something fairly staunch Dem who lives out East. Over Christmas, he admitted to me that he watches Fox News reguarly. He also said that he couldn't bring himself to vote for Dean if he won the Democrat nomination. The man just scares him and he didn't think his ideas on defense would be good for the country. We actually discussed a lot of the reasons I dislike Kerry and Edwards (general haughty attitude, preaching class warfare while making millions suing doctors and in turn raising our medical costs, etc.) He outlined his issues with Bush, we explored them, agreed to disagree. He said he'd still probably vote for Kerry/Edwards, but this conversation didn't leave me upset at all. I felt like dialogue occurred and perhaps some understanding had been gained. No opinons changed, but it didn't feel like a waste.

Baby Boomer liberal versus Generation Y interactions have been starkly different. It's obviously an anecdote that I cannot use to make a sweeping generalization about political maturity of our generation -- since I've seen evidence to the contrary on comments of many a blog. Perhaps there is hope for some solid debate (and perhaps conservative rtending on issues) if we can just get the under-thirty crowd involved in the political process.

Reality TV Update

In the blogosphere, I'm occasionally ridiculed for my household's fondness for reality television, so I'm exposing myself again. After getting very disillusioned with Bachelor Bob last fall, I've really been entertained by ABC's Wednesday night offerings lately. Yes folks, that means an update on The Bachelorette and Celebrity Mole Yucatan.

Bachelorette Meredith has narrowed it down to four gentlemen. At first, I was pulling for Ian, the blond pretty-boy former investment banker from New York City. After tonight's episode though, he strikes me as a bit too cocky and cold. As of now, I am pulling for the strapping young Texans: Matt and Lanny. None of this metrosexual thing for me -- they just have the manly, respectful, playful spirit that I really like. As for number four Chad...just not my thing. I predict he's gone next week, and that the finally two men standing will be Ian and Matt. My underdog side is holding out hope for Lanny though -- hang in there cowboy!

As for Celebrity Mole, I am actually intrigued. It's a rather interesting game-show who-dunit, kind of like a eight-week game of Clue. Each week the contestants play a series of games for money to give to charity, with "The Mole" trying to sabotage games and yet not get caught. At the end of every episode, the players take a quiz on items related to the Mole's identity, and the person with the lowest score leaves at the end of each episode. Last week, Keisha Knight Pulliam from the Cosby Show was booted, and tonight it was Tracey Gold of Growing Pains fame.

The remaining three candidates? Mark Cooper (of "Hanging with Mr. Cooper" fame), Angie Everhart (apparently a swimsuit model), and good old Dennis Rodman. Mole pick from the Illinigirl household? We're leaning towards Dennis Rodman. If nothing else because of an answer to tonight's classroom trivia game. How many minutes are in an hour and thirty-one minutes? Answer: Ninety-one... Rodman's number when he played for the Bulls. Why else would they ask that goofy a question? It's so crazy and obvious, it just might work folks.

If nothing else, both shows are harmless fluff and better examples of good clean television than the Superbowl. No, I'm not talking about the nudity. With or without the peep show, it's difficult to deny that the overall sleaze factor involved in MTV's show Sunday night was incredibly high.

Not that I'm making excuses for myself or anything. Have I mentioned how tired I've been lately? :)

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Letter from Sadaam

Bill Dennis posts this "Open Letter to George W" from Sadaam Hussein. I'd gotten the forward at work, worth a look, likely to produce a laugh or two...
Save the Carnable Wagon

Any WLS listeners out there know what I am talking about. The Chicago Report last week had a lengthy explanation of WLS's efforts (or lack thereof) to renew Roe Conn & Gary Meier's contracts so far this year.

All I know is that my drive time is much more fun with them on the air. If they bolt for another Chicago station, we likely won't receive it down here in Central Illinois. Therefore I am joining in on the Save Roe & Garry campaign. If you are a fan as well, call WLS at (312) 591-8900 or e-mail the station to request they renew Garry's contract.
Hide it like a nuclear weapon...

My husband and I got a kick out of this. Take Outkast's "Hey Ya", change the words a little, and what do you have? A hilarious cartoon "Hey Allah" video. Thanks to Kyle Sing at the Chicago Report for the heads-up on this one.
Illinigirl, Film Critic

I used to be one of those people that had seen EVERY current movie. Growing up in Central Illinois, there weren't a lot of choices for Friday/Saturday evening activities. Your best options: go out to eat, go bowling, or see a movie. We exhausted the restaurants, maintained 150+ bowling averages, and saw each new release the moment it hit the multiplex. Then we would go out for dessert after the movie and try to inject meaning into movies like Billy Madison, Reality Bites, and The Island of Dr. Moreau (which remains in contention for the worst movie I have ever seen).

Now a few years out of college, I find myself much more interested by movies. Perhaps it's just because I like to look In the years since I Perhaps it's because I have less time, so I try to see the movies that I REALLY want to see. Perhaps it's because I have a good art house within a twenty-minute drive, but I have seen quite a few good films this year. I can't exactly evaluate who should win each and every Oscar, but I thought I'd offer my two cents on the films of 2003. Listed in no particular order because they are too different to compare apples to apples...

Illinigirl's Top Flicks of 2003

1. Bend It Like Beckham -- A great coming-of-age story that effectively shows a twenty-something British-Indian girl trying to break into big-league soccer just as her family decides it's time for her to settle down with a Indian husband. As a former soccer player, I enjoyed the sports content, but I didn't think it dominated the film. Even if you hate sports, you'll be cheering for Jess (Parminder Nagra) by the end. While I've heard Monsoon Wedding may be a superior film on the same subject matter, I stand by this film for the uplifting comedy/drama that it is.

2. Freaky Friday -- Just good clean fun. This was some of the best physical comedy I have seen in years. I think it's a crime that Jamie Lee Curtis wasn't nominated for an Oscar for her performance as she nailed a 45 year-old woman stuck in a teenager's body. The scene with she and Chad Michael Murray flirting in the coffee shop was one of the funniest things I have seen all year.

3. In America -- Poignant story of a family of Irish immigrants trying to put itself back together in New York City, after the death of their young son. It's a true story set in the mid-1980s, and it's absolutely gripping. Fabulous acting by all involved -- Djimon Hounsou, Paddy Considine, Samantha Morton, and Sarah/Emma Bolger. If you can forgive the illegal immigration in the opening scene (which bothered my parents), I think you will love this movie.

4. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King -- While I am not a huge Lord of the Rings junkie, you have to admire the third installment for it's ability to wrap up the trilogy with a powerful, impressive conclusion. If nothing else, the special effects were spectacular and the storyline was tremendously engaging. In my opinion though, Sam was the real hero.

5. Lost in Translation -- The pace is a bit slow, but the film is visually brilliant, wonderfully acted, and spliced with subtly humorous moments. Bill Murray and Scarlet Johanson do a wonderful job portraying two kindred spirits who are tired of the alienation that's a by-product of their lifestyles.

6. The Station Agent -- An intriguing film about an unlikely friendship forged between three lonely "misfits" in rural New Jersey. I'm not sure what I expected from a movie that seemed to just be about a dwarf who loved trains, but it was really a wonderful character study. I'm still somewhat saddened that Peter Dinklage did not get an Oscar nomination, because he did great work in this film portraying Finn's struggle to form meaningful relationships with people of normal stature because he knew that it would eventually subject him to ridicule and pain. The film was not only moving, but it was also one of the funniest films I had seen in ages. Bobby Cannavale (as Joe) was a hoot.

7. Thirteen -- While dark and frightening, this film was gripping and thought-provoking. Evan Rachel Wood gives a brilliant performance as 13 year-old Tracy, an amiable pre-teen who falls into trouble when she becomes friends with Evie, the manipulative alpha dog of the junior high in-crowd. As her mother, Holly Hunter is the horrified spectator watching her daughter's downward spiral into sex, drugs, and self-destruction, finally taking a stand when she realizes that it may be too late to save Tracy. I squirmed throughout most of it. I'm not sure what the moral lesson of this film is, but for some reason I feel it should be mandatory viewing for parents of pre-teens.

8. X2: X-Men United -- My husband is the comic book lover, but I think the X-Men franchise just does a great job producing movies. This film had a nice blend of action, comedy, and drama. My favorite of all the "guy movies" that I had to watch this year.

I'd be interested in hearing the blogging public's opinions on these films, not to mention any other recommendations or differences of opinion. Please note that this post excludes the following films that I haven't been able to catch yet: Big Fish, Cold Mountain, The Company, House of Sand & Fog, Love Actually, Mystic River, Pieces of April, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Secret Lives of Dentists, Something's Gotta Give, The Triplets of Belleville, Whale Rider