Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

16 Feb 2008, 11:00 a.m.

Tax History Saved For A Future Post

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2008 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

In the last few months, I've seen and read a few things and had opinions on them. Here we go.

I Chose a Parson is a 1956 memoir by Phyllis Stark, an American woman who went to Gustavus Adolphus College, married a seminary student, had two kids, and helped her husband as he rose to a bishopric in the Episcopal Church. I got it for a few bucks at Sam Weller's in Salt Lake City, in the cheapo-books room crowded with out-of-print manuals and histories and children's primers, where the pipe on the ceiling's dripping into a bucket on the floor. Never was there a greater diamond in the muck. Stark writes with the dry eloquence of the Brits and the earthy humor of the Midwest, and every page has a great anecdote. I kept reading stuff to Leonard:

In the original list of repairs new pews had been included, but later that item had been deleted because, as usual, expenses were exceeding the original estimates. I felt very strongly, however, that the new beauty we were seeking to achieve would be completely lost if the crude and wretchedly uncomfortable pews were to remain. With the hope of persuading Leland to press the point, I presented the case to him a good many times, but without success. Then one day I decided to drop my reasoned approach and try instead a more feminine technique.

'Darling,' I said sweetly, 'I've got my heart set on new pews.'

He pulled me up short with the trenchant reply, 'That, my dear, is the only part of your anatomy that will ever set on new pews.'

I'm glad to say, however, that the other members of the committee were more amenable to my importuning, and before the repair work was finished, not only did we have new pews, but also new kneelers upholstered with the best quality surgical foam rubber!

I think Rivka and Rachel would especially like this book. And I have more to quote from it in another entry.

Ratatouille is good. The animation of water is amazing. I got creeped out by all the rats. The critic's flashback is moving.

Juno is not the most comfortable movie to watch with my Mormon in-laws. The banter is great and all the actors were spot-on. I could have done with a less monotonous soundtrack. For the first half of the movie Jason Bateman is basically Michael Bluth, but he and Michael Cera really break out. Ellen Page makes me want to see the upcoming Smart People which is evidently this year's Little Miss Sunshine. Some people find Juno's choice to bear the child unbelievable, but I can see a bunch of reasons, implied strongly or subtly, why she'd do that. However, I do want to find a comedy-drama that is specifically about abortion, just to see if it can be done.

An Affair To Remember: Leonard and I saw the Cary Grant/Deborah Kerr version. All the annoying plot devices of screwball comedy without actual chemistry. That Italy scene takes forever! And the second half is a huge Idiot Plot. From my recollection Sleepless in Seattle is a much better film.

An American In Paris: I had an argument with Will Franken about this movie. I couldn't stand it because the lead, Jerry Mulligan, is a sleazeball stalker. Evidently Will wishes men could be more "romantic" in that manner today and feels castrated by feminism and the need to take a single rejection as a final rejection. I pointed out that I've been the aggressor in every romantic relationship I've ever had, and have been rejected many, many times. And yet somehow I got a husband without stalking him! And lots of men and women find each other without sexually harrassing each other!

Will asked, basically, what if it's love? What if you're in love with someone and they don't love you back? Isn't it just and true to persist in professing your love? The answer is no and it's a contradictory question anyhow. One-way romantic "love" is obsession, infatuation, lust; love is a conversation, two minds meeting as one. And how can you love someone if you don't respect their wishes (namely, "stop asking me out")?

The average Futurama is better sci-fi than the average Star Trek: Voyager.

Scott Westerfeld's Uglies is great, easy-to-read teen-focused sci-fi. The characters make sense while growing and displaying new depths, the worldbuilding is exciting, the action scenes and dialogue are all page-turners, and now I have another trilogy to finish, which I can't afford right now. See you again in May, Westerfeld.

If you can believe it, The Matrix was on American Movie Classics the other day. This is kind of embarrassing for me. I taught The Matrix enthusiastically in my Politics in Modern Sci-Fi class and in my prior Politics of the Midlife Crisis class. I still think the plot and visuals are fun and interesting, but most of the dialogue and acting hasn't held up well for me. I do still like Keanu Reeves's part, though.

The September 11th film anthology was on Sundance and I TiVo'd it mainly to watch Inarritu's segment. It was unbearably evocative and I couldn't watch the whole thing. The whole collection is worthwhile: see it with Brendan and followed by the original Shall We Dance?