Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sometimes I just can't help myself

Matt and I were introduced to Scott Prendergast through Wholphin, and I think it's fair to say we sort of fell in love. Ok, maybe it's not fair to say that seeing as Matt isn't here to agree. But it is fair to say that we can't stop thinking about The Delicious. So here, for your entertainment, the best of independent comedy film making.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Not at all Persuading

Last night was the first in a series of Masterpiece Theatre showings of Jane Austen movies. Can I just say that is Sunday after Sunday after Sunday of happiness? Because honestly that's what it is. Emily introduced me to Jane Austen and I have to tell you I fell hard for the girl from the first word. She can be irreverent, she can be silly, she can be stupid, she can be wonderful, and she can be awful. But I love the storytelling, the search for happiness, and the longing. Oh and the love. Who doesn't want someone to say to them "You pierce my soul," and have it be true?

But, unfortunately, the first offering was unimpressive and weak. Persuasion is one of my favorite books. Anne Elliot is a shy girl who has been told her whole life sheis not good enough. She's been told by her family she's not pretty enough to be a close member of their inner circle, by her friends she's not smart enough to make her own decisions, and by her own mind which lets her believe all the people around her. She allows herself to be persuaded by a close friend that her first love and romantic interest is beneath her and to turn him down because of his prospects. But their love is strong and by the end of the book they have fought through their fears and their disappointments to find each other again. It's a lovely book.

A few years ago a very nice adaptation came out, I've seen it several times and recently broke down and bought it. I think it's one of the most honest adaptations I've seen of any book. The lead characters are not Hollywood handsome, but they are charming and like able and genuine. This, like the new series, was a BBC made for TV movie (probably following the success of Pride and Prejudice). It also seems to hold pretty close to the book. I like a movie where you know things from the book are being left out, but after a while, you can't imagine the story being told any other way.

I liked in this version especially that it shows Anne as a plain person with beauty, but she is not in the "flower of her youth" as Jane might say. But after spending some time by the ocean and doing the things that she really loves doing and being with the people she loves (in other words as she becomes her own person) she becomes attractive and almost glows. But there isn't a drastic make-up change. Her hair doesn't go from super curly to straight. Nothing more dramatic happens then she looks happy and, in a way, settled in herself. The transformation is striking all the more because of it's subtle nature.

The new Persuasion didn't have much to recommend it. The writers seemed to roughly drive over important plot points and skim the surface of the abuse of Anne by her family and friends. This Anne Elliot often looked directly into the camera with a pointed "Can you believe this is happening to me" sort of look. Or was it really a "Get that f*#king thing out of my face please." look. I don't know. It was hard to tell. Persuasion number 1 and Persuasion number 2 both seem to have problems with the Mrs. Smith question. Mrs. Smith is a poor plot devise added by Miss Austen when she needed to get information across but didn't know how to do it. Anne is pursued romantically by her handsome cousin who stands to inherit her father's baronet title. Anne's father seems to be on the verge of romantically linking himself to a young widow. If he produces a male heir, the young cousin will be SOL. Anne finds out that, to ensure his inheritance, he had decided to pursue Anne and get her to marry him. If that fails, he is also pursuing the young widow and promises to keep her as his mistress with all the financial backing he can. Talk about burning the candle at both ends. But how do we find all this out? Enter Mrs. Smith a very poor old school friend of Anne's who has met with hard times. Her husband died in the Nepolianic wars and, unfortunately, left her penniless. She is also crippled from some nameless Austin plot devise that ensures she has a nurse who is clued in to ALL the goings on in the town of Bath where the bulk of the intrigue takes place. When Anne visits Mrs. Smith, she finds everything out. Although Anne never intended on marrying the cousin, she finds the news disturbing and it ensures she will not accept the proposal even to save her family. In the old persuasion we see Mrs. Smith twice. She produces the said information at the moment it is needed. In the new Persuasion we see her once and we find out that her nurse knows all...and then we never see her again. The news about her cousin is reported to Anne her sister in-law Heather breathlessly. Why breathlessly, because they are running. Why? Anne is trying to catch her Captin and talk to him. Heather, for no reason I can discern, has just found all this out, from no source she lets on about, and has to tell Anne right away. She even runs with Anne a distance to tell her the news. So there was no reason to bring in Mrs. Smith at all...and all that important information is useless to Anne who is literally running after a different man and Heather seems to come out of nowhere.

This happened more than once in the movie. Characters came and when without much introduction and with no clear exit. Also, it committed this crime:

The longest just kiss already super close up moment I have ever seen. Sure, we all like to read about trembling lips...but watching them is a little different. Feel free to disagree. But I got board watching this. I know they've waited 8 years to kiss, but give me a break. Personally, I like this much better:

It seems more real and honest.

Here is the wonderful review by the SF Gate:

Persuasion: "Masterpiece Theatre" production. Starring Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones. Directed by Adrian Shergold. Adapted from Jane Austen's novel by Simon Burke. 9 p.m. Sunday on KQED.

Whew, give me a minute, will you? I've just watched Jane Austen's rollicking screwball comedy "Persuasion," and need to catch my breath.

There very well may be a way to jam the gentle ironies of Austen's novel into a 90-minute film, but, good grief, "Masterpiece Theatre" surely hasn't done it this time. If it weren't for the fact that viewers will at least get a CliffsNotes version of Austen, I'd wave them off altogether.

It's especially disappointing, not only because we expect "Masterpiece Theatre" to treat masterpieces better, but also because PBS has made a big deal about doing all of Austen, plus a film based on her life, in successive weeks, you'd think they'd start off with a production of better quality. Some of the films - the wonderful "Pride and Prejudice" with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, "Emma" with Kate Beckinsale and Samantha Morton - have been seen before. New adaptations of other Austen novels have been created for this series. I can't yet speak of the other 90-minute wonders in the package - "Northanger Abbey," "Mansfield Park" - but if they are as mediocre and, at times, laughably bad as "Persuasion," Ms. Austen will be whirling in her grave.

Although the basic problems of script and inappropriately madcap direction are probably inescapable, the performances don't help much. Sally Hawkins is a runny-nosed Anne Elliot, whose youthful betrothal to then-impoverished naval Capt. Wentworth (Rupert Penry-Jones) was called off by her money-grubbing father (Anthony Head). Eight years later, the Elliots are forced to rent out their mansion and move to humbler quarters in Bath, but the new tenants turn out to be the sister and brother-in-law of Wentworth, who soon reappears in Anne's life. While others go about scheming to make financially successful marriages, Anne tries to maintain her composure around Wentworth, who, for his part, all but snivels and sneers in her presence.

Hawkins is effective at times, but at too many others, she surrenders to a wide variety of vocal mannerisms and facial tics. At the end of the film, as she is about to kiss Wentworth (oh, come on, you always knew how it comes out), her mouth twitches like a bass zeroing in on a tasty side order of plankton as her face moves slowly toward its target. The shot is about the longest in the entire film, which admittedly may come as a bit of a relief after the breakneck pace of what's led up to it.

Director Adrian Shergold moves things along so quickly, it's probably hard for newcomers to Austen's story to figure out who's who and who's related to whom. But that's the least of the problems caused by this approach. More significant are the losses of nuance, character development and emotional complexity. Of course, "Persuasion" isn't a screwball comedy, but as adapted by Simon Burke and directed by Shergold, it plays like "Bringing Up Baby," without the intercostal clavicle or, you know, wit.

By the way, Sunday night's broadcast marks the debut of Gillian Anderson as the "Masterpiece Theatre" host. At least the few minutes she's on might be worth watching.

E-mail David Wiegand at

Honestly, I couldn't agree more. Even the sleeping man! Ouch! Oh, but Gillian Anderson was totally worth watching and I intend on spending some lazy weekend soon watching House of Mirth.

Next week: Northanger Abbey. I haven't read this book, so it will be all new. I'm very much looking forward to it, although the 90 minutes thing bothers me as much as it did this guy. Fortunately, like the others there is an older BBC version I can check out. I'm going to my mom's this weekend, maybe I'll take it with me.

But, while I'm at it, I highly recommend Lost in Austen (which will also be a miniseries from the BBC at some point in the near future...though I don't know how because it's a choose your own adventure book, but I look forward to it!)

One book I do not recommend is the Jane Austen Book Club. I read it because the movie was coming out and Emily wanted to go see it. The funny thing was, we were both hoping that the movie improved the book. The book was so so. It's favorite trick was to get you to care about the characters and what was happening to them, and then drop the story line and run away only to return at the end with an unpleasing and boring synopsis. Blah! The most interesting character was the lesbian, but you get the feeling the author didn't know what to do with her so her story line get's stuffed into the corners of other people's stories. The worst thing is the multiple narrator voice. Everything is the "we" so the reader never really gets inside anyone's head and you never really knew who the we was. And why are all these character's thinking the same thing? It didn't work. But, seeing as the stories and characters might be interesting, Emily and I looked forward to the movie. But we forgot to go see it and have to wait until it comes out on DVD. In fact, it probably is out already and we forgot to rent it. This just shows how much we care.

Tell me where it hurts

Saturday morning, bright and early, Pauline and I shook off the San Francisco fog and headed south to hike in McNee Ranch State Park. I highly recommend this area. The views are fantastic and there are opportunities for all kinds of hikers at all kinds of levels. Below are a few sites that I recommend that give nice pictures and information:

Although, we didn't park where everyone else in the guides says to park. (Where there are MAYBE 6 spaces for cars.) We parked a little further north where there was tons of parking. Either way is fine.

Pauline and I were out there most of the day. My Pedometer said we walked 11 miles. I highly doubt that, I don't trust that thing at all. But I would say we did 7 miles and it felt really good. Ok, it felt awful, but it felt good. And, I didn't get sunburned! What a good girl I am.

Sunday I woke up really early and walked over to the yoga studio for an early morning class. Wednesday night Rachel, Emily and I all took a class together. Rachel was unimpressed to say the least. The class was over crowded and the teacher didn't interact with her students or help ensure the crowding didn't effect the class. She also didn't seem to have a good grasp on class level. Half of the class were experienced yoga teachers and half the class were newbies. But the 8:45 Sunday morning class was great. Small class and we all got attention from the teacher.

The good news is that I felt like while there was a lot I really couldn't do, I also didn't do too badly. I felt like I could keep trying to do the moves and would eventually be able to keep up. But I was defiantly at the bottom of the class level wise. The bad news is there's something I completely forgot about that happens in a yoga class: Farts. I farted in the middle of class. Now, I had done this during the evening class too, but to a lesser extent. On Sunday it was during a move where we went from down word dog, then lifted one leg up, opened our hips then pulled the leg in then out again, in and out, in and out. It looked like this:

Well, to be honest everyone else's looked like that. Mine must have looked...interesting...

We did a similar move in the evening class, but the leg only lifted once. Here it was many times...and yes I farted more than once. It was embarrassing like no one's business. But, such is the way of things. I just hope I didn't gross everyone out. I'll remember to do that move at home before I go to class and hopefully get it out of my system.

But, it is not an uncommon things. I suggest everyone look up on Google Yoga and Farting. Enjoy!

So, I have to remember that I like Heather as a teacher, she seemed really nice and I like that class time. It gives me time to do other things on a Sunday and it's the one day I don't normally have rehearsals. Sometimes I have meetings, but that's rare. So I think I might sign up for Heather's early morning Sunday class every week. First, I'm going to use up the last of my $20 for three sessions on a back to basics class. This studio doesn't really have a beginners/intermediate/advanced. But they just started so that may change. Anyway, I haven't taken a class in four years now and I think I need some refresher on basic poses and positions.

One thing I'm not sure I liked was the restorative pose we did at the end. Rachel was really excited about it...I felt like a trussed up turkey. Below is a picture that is almost exactly what we did.

I'm sure it is really restorative and Heather was very attentive, making sure I was comfortable and that my body was positioned well. She put pillows under my knees and pulled my neck and head in a way that relaxed my shoulders and neck. But add about sixty pounds to the nice woman above and about ten years less yoga practice and you'll get the same feeling I did.

I did not walk home. It's a long walk to that particular studio and I was feeling sore from the yoga so I bussed it. How long a walk? Google says 2.4 miles. Go Claire! And!!!! I did laundry when I got home!

You might be asking why I'm taking classes from a place so far away, mostly because it's near Rachel and Emily. They both were talking about trying it out because it was near them. There are several studios near me and I think I'll try all of their introductory rates, but for now this place is nice.

Today I tried something new: I walked to work. It's pretty much a straight shoot from my place to school, which is nice. I'd never walked it before because it is a long walk 19th avenue and the side streets are actually very busy during rush hour. It just didn't seem like a pleasant walk. But, I decided to hell with it, and I gave it a try. This walk took me about forty minutes and is, according to Google, 3.2 miles. (my pedometer wasn't far off, it says 3.1 miles....maybe Pauline and I did walk 11 miles this weekend. WOW!)

So, where does it hurt? My hips and my shoulders my lower back. But, all in all I don't feel that bad, and I'm glad I didn't sit around all weekend. I do worry that I over did it, or that I don't know how to balance it. If I do yoga in the morning, can I sit around all day the rest of the day? I don't know. Either way, I should have brought my Tylenol with me because I am hurting.

Friday, January 11, 2008

It's the end of the world as we know it

Update: I took the yoga class on Wednesday...and I'm still hurting on Friday. I'm trying to shake the Western Ideas of "I need to be good at this" out of my head and remind myself that I should be thinking more like a person who is doing yoga. It's not about being good or better than the person next to me. It's about being in the moment.

In this moment, my shoulders are super sore. In that moment, I was thinking "Mother F*#KER!" In this moment I'm planning on going again on Sunday. And I'm also thinking about not doing 7:45pm classes again. Hopefully in the next moment I wont regret an 8:45 am class. But, it's all about trying.

In other news, the Chinese food place we went to last night made my tummy hurt.

Now on to something that matters.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his infinite wisdom, has decided to cut the budget without raising taxes. It's a 10% cut across the board. Almost every state institution has to cut in this fiscal year, 10%. Fun! Fun! Fun! If he gets his way then he also gets to suspend any promised money. If the voters pass one of the propositions that has a promise of money for education, the govener will suspend it. For me, this means my job is actually in jeopardy. My position was added recently and it's sort of at the bottom. But I doubt it's going to come to lay offs any time soon. What will happen? The building projects that SF State have been gearing up for may be halted indefinably. Again. Fun! He's going to close a bunch of parks, going to let go of a bunch of correctional officers, going to let out some of the non threatening criminals out of jails, and going to take away money from medical, homeless programs, AIDS programs, children's programs, drug programs... So eventually he will be laying off a lot of state employees, he will be cutting back on education, he will be cutting back on health care and programs to help these unable to care for themselves. Oh, and there is a strike going on that has taken over one of California's biggest industries. OH and housing prices are not actually going down and there are still foreclosures going on. OH! And some of those major firms that gave those sub prime loans are from California.

It means that this state as a whole will continue it's backslide into this recession. FUN! FUN! FUN!

This could have been predicted. Other things like, the fact that Blue Ray might just take over, came out of no where. Who saw that coming, and who ever they are why didn't they tell me to wait before I bought a new DVD player. I just want some stability somewhere from the tech world. Can't I have a computer, a phone, a TV, a media player for longer than two years! Please? No. Ok, well fine.

The fact that news organizations don't know what to do with themselves now that there is STILL no clear front runner in either party, is also out of left field. I mean, come on. The fact that the first two tiny states to vote in the primary's have no impact other than their electoral votes on the person who is elected president was obvious as soon as California moved up it's primary. And, come on, people have been torn about who they were going to vote for for a long time! Why are all the pundits and newsies and who ever surprised that the polls where wrong? If I lived in New Hampshire or Illinois, I would have been tired of people asking me who I voted for, who I was going to vote for, who I liked and why. I would lie after a while. Lie lie lie.

Do I know who will be president? No. And I'm still undecided, if you can believe it. It's the journey, not the outcome.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

2008 New Year's Resolution: Don't Waste Time

In an effort to feel a little more positive about everything, I thought a change in look for the ol'weblog was in order. The black was starting to feel a little oppressive and not really me. Also, I think because this is an election year, I'm feeling a little more optimistic about the future and I thought that a new look would reflect that.

I like to think that if I fell into a coma and woke up in a hospital room with the TV on, I'd only need to see the first comercial break to know what time of year it is. How can I tell a new year is upon us. So many weight loss ads! They are always there, fitting in nicely between the Applebee's and coco cola commercials, but now they seem to have a little more urgency. Phrases like "This is your year" and "Don't Wait, do it now!" are everywhere. M&M's even has a song "This is the day your life will surely change." At the top of everyone's vanity, I mean resolutions list is loose weight. I've put this at the top of my own list for more then a few years now. But, it's something I've put on the top of my resolutions list every month. Yet, like congress and like a couple of other million people all those ads are designed for , I resolve but I do not act.

And this year I've decided not to buck a trend. I resolve to loose the forty pounds I've been not trying all that hard to loose since I gained them. No, I didn't just wake up one morning to find myself not so girlish around the waist. I let it sneak up on me and I've let it stick around. Maybe it's the cold SF weather? I don't know. Anyway, here it is and here I expect it to stay like the "Golden Gate Fitness" monthly charge on my credit card, useless, unwanted and immobile. Did I say I had a membership to a gym. Yes. And one day it will run out, and I'll be free. But that has nothing to do with weight loss and everything to do with bad money management. But I didn't make any resolution in that area, so lets move on.

The moral of this story is that every once in a while you'll see a blog with numbers on them. Honest numbers about me and my weight and my exercising and my eating and my feelings about myself. I promise no consistence in my record keeping, nor religious observance to calorie counting or anything like that. I just need to be honest somewhere and I'm going to start here in this empty corner of cyberspace where anyone walking by could take a look and make judgment.

On second thought maybe I don't NEED that...but apparently I'm going to do it anyway. So, here we go:

Weight: 190pds.
Steps taken today: Less than 1,000 so far
Food: toast w'peanut butter and oj for breakfast, water and salad with chicken and mustard dressing for lunch
Feelings: I had to buy XL shirts at Target last night, not the most fun I've had shopping. But they look good so I don't feel too bad. Pauline and I did a yoga DVD last night and tonight I'm taking a yoga class with Rachel and Emily. We'll see how it goes.

Ok. More interesting things tomorrow.