Monday, January 04, 2010

resolving to...

...before i continue with my flurry of book/film reviews, i'd first like to take a minute to think about what i'd like to do in the year to come. people can get mighty uppity when you start talking "new year resolutions" - like it's something bad or shameful or like you're putting yourself up for ridicule by being reflective and marking areas for (perceived) improvement.

to me, self-reflection is a good thing - and it makes sense that the changing of a year would engender the conditions that facilitate taking stock. it would be nicer if people took a mental inventory more often, but i'm not going to chide people for doing it during a new year. i think personally, taking stock is something that i'm constantly doing, but there are different degrees of reflexivity...the micro-level stuff (your garden variety, ever-morphing "to-do" list) and the macro-level, big-picture stuff that tends to happen more irregularly for most people.

i'm lucky in that i came from a talky family - we do our macro-level reflexive talk in front of each other, often at the instigation of one sibling or another's behavior - the airing of grievances, if you will. as a child saturday afternoons were frequently occupied with epic, "family meetings" - when the problems (real or imaginary) of one or the other of us would be put forward for the whole family to weigh in on. while the concern was sometimes needlessly inflated, misdirected, and unnecessary, the ability to address issues head-on, in a forum, with the ringing echo of lagerfeld house rule #1 "honest, honesty, honesty, honesty, honesty" as our guiding principle (note: there is/was only ONE house rule in the lagerfeld home), had a profound effect on the development of my ability to dissect and examine my self and sense of self.

most of my deepest, long-standing friendships (dr. rei, the roomie, montreal I, the dotytron) are with people with whom i can hash things out - about myself, each other, the wider world. there are no secrets, per se. don't get me wrong, the rules of etiquette and tact are more or less followed...but there's a dizzying, addictive freedom in the ability to talk through your issues with your nearest and dearest. i think that's one of the reasons why i'm so close to dr. rei, my sister, the dotytron - there are no barriers. there's a supreme comfort and care in working out your own ish in an environment where people really see you and understand you (for the most part).

this is all a circumlocutious way of prefacing my resolutions. maybe resolutions is too strong a word - "resolve" is kind of heady and stern. in the new year, i'd like to:

- pay off my debt, so that i can then turn around and ask the bank for a loan so that i can get the roof, kitchen, bathroom, stairs, air conditioner, humidifer/dehumidifier, deck, washer and dryer that i want. [digging out the basement so that we have a rec room and the dotytron's garage/studio ambitions are on the 5-year goal list].
- do a little more regular cardio, get back on practicing yoga more, work on my muscles a bit more
- recalibrate the "holiday" eating : daily eating ratio
- read more theory - stir the dusty annexes of my theoretical brain
- get my G2
- get my first aid certificate, learn CPR, etc.
- have a few more professional development rungs under my feet
- get on the assorted organizational things that go hand-in-hand with being slightly OCD and being a home owner.
- make this blog look prettier. i think we all pretty much know that i'm in it for the long haul with this here space...it'd be nice if i could make it look a little nicer...maybe migrate to wordpress? maybe have a new header? learn to do small visual/formatting tweaks myself?

oh blurg...where would i be without you? i'm so glad a stupid school assignment brought regular writing back into my life. i'd like this blog to be a little more thoughtful - not so rushed - i'd like to work on my writing skills some more.

i've almost finished my holiday film reviews...just 4 more to go and so, once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more -

in a moment of profound weakness of discrimination, i rented "sunshine cleaning" - there's absolutely nothing to say about this film, other than it's a rote, plodding, paint-by-numbers indie film that's trying to be "quirky" but does so without any attempts to ingratiate itself upon the audience or credit the audience with any intelligence. boooooooooring!

"extract" was also pretty bad, but not terribly so. better than "sunshine cleaning" for sure. it was short on laughs and the scenarios were a little too ridiculous and not satirical/incisive enough to make it live up to the legacy of "office space."

"sneakers" is an oldie but a goodie. the dotytron bought it for me for xmas. this was precipitated by the fact that for the past 8-odd years that we've known each other, when the movie would come up in conversation (i would average that this happens maybe once a year), i would inevitably say, "like in 'sneakers' - that's a really good movie." the dotytron finally cottoned onto my unwavering loyalty to the integrity of the flick and so bought it for me and we watched it together and i gotta say, it holds up like whoa. to the point where we've thought about watching it AGAIN within the week (we saw it on xmas eve day) and we always feel the need to proffer the half-hearted attenuation, "i'd watch it again, for sure." guys, this movie is SICK. first of all, look at that cast. you've got: sidney poitier, robert redford, dan aykroyd, river phoenix, david strathairn, and mary mcdonnell. in a HEIST/CAPER. i freakin' love heist/caper movies. ESPECIALLY when the heist is pulled off by a bunch of nerdlingers, each of whom has a special/unique skill (this is years of voltron/mission impossible enculturation talking). i'm not talking "oceans 11" coolios, here. nuh-uh. nerds. when we tried to rent it at the film buff i was in the mood to see that kind of movie and even the capacious human-film-database minds at the film buff were unable to provide a suitable substitute that provides the same magical combination of smarts-nerds-laughs-caper. go get it. you won't be disappointed.

finally, on saturday night, back from the farm and unwilling/resistant to facing reality, we went on a date night, courtesy of some mcdonald's coupons (the new baked smore's pie is decent - but still nothing compared to fried apple pie) and "the fantastic mr. fox" at my favorite movie theatre, the yonge-dundas AMC.

be still my heart! my instincts nailed it on this one - it was an out-and-out, non-stop delight. total laugh-out-loud funnies! and believe me, i say this as someone who was getting sick and tired of wes anderson adulation - the tendency of hipsters to confuse smug and twee for legitimately funny and smart. the big improvement here is that we actually have A STORY instead of a collection of art-directed-to-the-teeth vignettes/tableaus. and the story is quite engaging as are the characters. something about anthropomorphizing woodland creatures and doing it in the dearest, sweetest, naive, homespun stop-motion style wins you over like whoa. the kind of trademark wes anderson-isms are all present, but by using animation instead of actors, it's SO much more palatable. the voice actors: jason schwartzman, george clooney, meryl streep, mario batali (!), and bill murray amongst others, all do top-notch work, imbuing their characters with individual identities that are then enhanced by the expressiveness of their quivering, furry faces. the realm of animation really allows wes anderson the freedom to give into his desire to obsess over every detail and construct elaborate sets without giving too much weight to the force of the art direction and having it overwhelm the plot (where there is one). the film never devolves into a series of hipster sight gags, which was a welcome respite from what i've come to expect from anderson's work. the whole film came together in a cohesive whole that was endlessly entertaining. definitely one of my top films of 2009. so charming! something i would definitely want to own, to re-watch again and again.


the dotytron thinks he's getting sick so tonight for dinner i made chicken noodle soup with chicken legs, skinned and shredded, orzo pasta, and diced up onions, carrot, celery, sweet potato and plenty of dill and parsley. we ate this with toasted, buttered ace bakery baguette. that should set him right.

last night we ended up bailing on the roomie, l'army and montreal I - we were all too lazy to leave our respective houses. speaking of houses - i noticed a house on our street is getting gutted for what looks to be a complete flip. the house listed at $329,000 but the sign said it sold for over asking...so i asked our agent today...it sold for $372,700 with multiple offers. WTF?!??? and they're GUTTING it - i mean, down to the studs. AND it's attached to a co-op!!! AND it had knob and tube and outdated kitchen, bathroom, and oil heat. i'm still reeling that we got such a decent deal on our place.

i've spoken enough for one day - i'll have to finish my book updates a demain.

fin.

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