Monday, February 26, 2007

Extemporaneous Post

One of the great things about my neighborhood is the large number of cool activities we can do that include the sentence fragment 'we walked to." Here's some of the things that are within walking distance:
  • A Chinese restaurant
  • An Indian restaurant
  • A contemporary Japanese restaurant
  • An Afghanistanian restaurant
  • A 1940's-era dining car converted to a diner
  • A Chinese grocery
  • A fitness club
  • A library
  • The National Toy Hall of Fame
  • A barbershop
  • A Mexican pottery store
  • A movie theater
  • Two Greek restaurants
  • A park designed by Frederick Law Olmstead
For some of you who live in large cities, this may not mean much. But Smugtown is not a big city. Populatio-wise, we're barely a neighborhood compared to some metropolitan areas. I mention this because it still feels real cool to write Last week, the kids and I walked over to the cinema and saw two films that just won Oscars. Because that's what we did. They were showing Happy Feet and Little Miss Sunshine as the double feature.

Reason number one jillion and three why I love my kids so: They liked Sunshine much more than they liked Happy Feet. So did I. I didn't see Dreamgirls,* or any of the other films with Supporting actor nominees in them,** but I will say that Alan Arkin deserved an Oscar for the role. As did Greg Kinnear. And Steve Carrell. And Paul Dano, and Toni Collette, and the freaking Microbus for that matter. It was just a damned good movie.

Happy Feet...not so much. Actually, not at all. Cars was by far the better film. Better story, better acting, and much better CGI. It was so much better, in fact, that the only possible reason it won was because of THE MESSAGE. Because this little film had THE MESSAGE written all over it. And THE MESSAGE was layered on so heavy-handedly that it would be impossible not to get THE MESSAGE, even if you were in the next room. THE MESSAGE was prominent enough for me to write words that I thought I would never, ever write:

Michael Medved was kinda, sorta right about it.

The Hollywood elite chose an inferior movie to a superior one because the former dealt with human-initiated extinction, and the latter was about NASCAR.

Now, I don't argue that the ruination of the earth due to the shortsightedness of a few very rich men is not a topic worth discussion, only that if it didn't have THE MESSAGE, Happy Feet would have been no more considered than Doogal. Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but no way did it deserve an Oscar.

Which worries and pisses me off not a small amount. I do not deny that humans are the root of much ill in this world, but jamming THE MESSAGE into a kids flick will do nothing to rectify the situation. I'm as liberal and as green as they come, but if we start heading back into anything even remotely resembling nineties-style Political Correctness, I swear to God I will drive through the night to Oberlin, and start bashing co-eds over their heads with baby seals.

Subject Change

I needed to get in touch with an old friend Sunday night. We used to work in the same department, but we got split up during a reorganization. I looked up his name in the phone book, and it listed the address and phone number of a house he moved out of two years ago, when he and his wife built a new home in the suburbs. I thought that maybe I was using an old phone book and I called directory assistance, but they gave me the same number. So I wrote him an email instead, pointing this out to him, and here's his reply:

The joys of having digital phone.[***] We've never been a [local phone service] customer at our current address so they won't include our correct phone # in their book. I asked them "OK, you won't print our correct number because we're not one of your customers. I get that. Does this mean you print thousands of wrong numbers because they are not your customers?".

An interesting development in the telephone wars, eh? Phone book exclusion. I wonder how many other folks are being left out because of things like this.


*It's playing there this week, so maybe I will.
**Or maybe I did; I have no freaking clue who else was nominated except Murphy, and I only knew he was from the NPR report this morning.
***We work for a cable company that offers telephony service to its employees for a drastically reduced rate, so when they built their house, of course they went with the cable phone service. The telephone company ran lines up to their house, and they just lay there unconnected.


Blogger Miss 1999 said...

That's quite a bit! Here in cowtown, there's nothing much going on. If you like fast food and Wal-Mart, you'd love it here *LOL*

Anyway, glad at least you were able to find your friend :0)

1:01 AM  
Blogger Colleen said...

I haven't seen Little Miss Sunshine yet. It is coming this weekend from Netflix and I am so excited!

9:11 AM  
Blogger Heidi the Hick said...

I've been wanting to see Little Miss sunshine for ages.

You know, none of us has been particularly excited about seeing Happy Feet. I don't even know what it's about. I love penguins, sure, but I dunno...didn't really grab us.

but you know how much we loved Cars.

We can walk to the library if the weather's nice- it's about a 20 minute walk. We bike there a lot in the summer. We're in close range to a greasy spoon and a nice Sushi place too.

However I've never quite lost that country mentality that you can't just get up and go. You have to plan trips. You have to have a list of errands to justify a trip into town. It gets easy to just fire up the motor and drive everywhere but I try to avoid that. Gas is too expensive. And it does feel good to walk or bike!

9:40 AM  
Blogger cadbury_vw said...

i thought that deregulation was supposed to give people better service because then these fiercely competitive companies wouldn't do anything to upset a potential customer?

i'm glad our telephone company is owned by the government. lower rates, better service, universal highspeed internet (if you are within 2.2 miles of a town of more than 150 people you have high speed internet - even if you are a gazzilion miles from nowhere)

12:51 PM  
Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

Cad--we do get better service when we're customers. I'm guessing the phone book's about to go the way of the postage stamp. Think about it--my phone stores the names and numbers of the people who call, and the ones who are blocked don't have their names listed anyhow. In addition, more and more people are using their cel phones as their primary phones, and those have never been included in directory assistance. And when I couldn't get his number, I emailed him.

Who needs phone books anymore?


1:10 PM  
Blogger terry said...

i actually pay to stay OUT of the phone book, but i'm weird.

"sunshine's" a wonderful flick. loved it. loved everyone in it.

i hate movies that hit you over the head with A Message. gah. thanks for helping me avoid this one.

9:50 PM  
Blogger Åsa said...

I loved the movie Little Miss Sunshine!!! Cried actually. Happy tears. Glad you liked it :- )

Not sure why you guys don’t have cell phone numbers in the directory? We do in Sweden. On the web at least. Unless you have a “pay and talk” kind of number. No directory for that.

Good assortments of restaurants where you live! I love food in general and Greek in particular. And it’s probably good that you have to walk to get there. A new Thai restaurant opened next door to me and I’m getting tired of the cooking smell from it. Not so much fun.

On that happy note…

Have a good week!

11:38 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Glad you get to spend time with your kids. At least one of the movies was good.

I may end up renting Miss Sunshine, I can curl up with my kitty cats and watch one weekend.

It's nice to have things so close in distance in one sense. However, I have my heart set on a few acres one day as to have some SERENITY along with peace and quiet.

12:13 PM  
Blogger Timmy said...

what the hell happened to your blog? its all kind of messed up!

9:17 AM  
Blogger Notsocranky Yankee said...

We can't walk to any restaurants, but we have taken the snowmobiles...

I want to see Little Miss Sunshine, but I have no interest in Happy Feet.

Hope you're having a nice weekend!

7:17 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Would that we could all live in your neighborhood. :)

1:43 AM  

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