Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A Suitcase that Really Goes

A friend and I recently walked into a Sanrio store, where I noticed a suitcase with not two but four wheels on its base. Of course an empty suitcase will roll easily across a tiled floor, but I could tell that the suitcase also met with less resistance because the "additional" two wheels allowed it a greater range of movement. According to my friend, such suitcases are common in Japan. I'm not sure why such suitcases haven't crossed over to the United States, at least not in any way that I've noticed. But I think these suitcases would make life a little easier at the airport (where I always seem to be flying out of the gate farthest away from check-in).

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Monday, November 21, 2005

The Latest Rage in Mail

If hearts and flowers aren't for you, or you want to get that perfect shade of green to match your wedding invitations, you might want to consider personalized stamps (as long as your chosen image is deemed "'acceptable' by the general public," according to one vendor).

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Most Popular Sperm Donors

I had a thought when I was reading this article on the New York Times site. The article is about children conceived through donated sperm who find their half-siblings through the Donor Sibling Registry. Interesting idea that I'd never considered.

Illustrating the online version of the article, however, are two pictures of two different sets of half-siblings. The eight children in the pictures all happen to be blond. The article describes one sperm donor as being "6 feet tall, 163 pounds with blond hair and blue eyes" according to his sperm bank profile.

Given that fewer people in the population have blond hair than brown or black hair, I wonder why these pictures show only blond-haired children. Is it because these photographs were the best of all the ones the photographer took? Is it because of the newspaper's preference for images of attractive, blond-haired children? (I realize the print edition of the article probably includes more photographs.) Or is it because the mothers interviewed deliberately looked for blond-haired, blue-eyed sperm donors? That would lead me to wonder about the most popular sperm donors -- are they all men over 6 feet, for example, because our society values height? Just some thoughts.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

It's in the Details

The writer of this Associated Press piece is a genius. An excerpt:
The store was filled with shoppers at about 2 p.m. Sunday when the Subaru station wagon plowed backward through picture windows in a reading area in the store's northwest corner. The car took out the travel section and barreled about 40 feet through the bookstore before coming to rest in nonfiction. ... People screamed and shrieked and dodged the car as it headed toward the fireplace, jerked right, and smashed into shelves of travel and history books.

Notice how the writer gets all the details.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I Am Surely Going to Hell

A little late on this, but Pat Robertson, founder and chairman of The Christian Broadcasting Channel, issued this warning on "The 700 Club" last Thursday: "I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God. You just rejected him from your city."

Later the same day, he issued this statement clarifying what he'd said:

God is tolerant and loving, but we can't keep sticking our finger in his eye forever. ... If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin. Maybe he can help them."

I appreciate it when people take it upon themselves to inform others the punishments God has in store for them. It proves that they have a true and direct connection to God.

On a completely unrelated note, I flipped the TV on Sunday evening and "Charmed" was on the air. It was an old episode because Shannen Doherty was still on the show. Following "Charmed" was "What I Like About You" (which I've never watched, I swear!), co-starring Jennie Garth. Who would have thought that a decade after "Beverly Hills, 90210," the two actresses would appear back-to-back on The WB?

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Monday, November 14, 2005

"Cronicas" and "Awful Normal"

I've seen two films about child molesters in the past two days, which makes for depressing viewing. The first is Cronicas, directed by Sebastian Cordero and starring John Leguizamo. I remember hearing an interview with Leguizamo about this movie -- he speaks Spanish throughout most of the movie, which, if I remember correctly, is a relatively new experience for him -- and thinking that the premise was intriguing.

A man in an Ecuadorian town accidentally kills a boy with his truck. Leguizamo is a star reporter from Miami on assignment in Ecuador to report on a serial child rapist and murderer. While Leguizamo is out chasing interviews, he witnesses an angry mob try to lynch the man who struck the boy. He interferes, saves the man's life and is subsequently hailed as a hero. But that proves to be just the beginning of the story.

The movie's a thriller, but it also concerns the power of the press and the role of journalists.

The second movie that I saw is Awful Normal, directed, written and produced by Celesta Davis. The movie's a personal documentary of sorts, as Davis prepares to confront the man who sexually abused her when she was five.

Unfortunately the film has not gotten much of a distribution because Davis has not been able to secure insurance covering possible lawsuits brought against the film. Apparently theaters and cable channels won't show any films that don't have this insurance. (The movie is being released on DVD, however, which are available here.)

The movie is powerful, though, and important I think because so many children are abused and so many people who have been abused as children have never reported it. I've read about the numerous lawsuits involving priest molestation, but this movie made it personal by allowing me to understand what the individual sexual abuse victim goes through. It's really amazing that the viewer is with Davis every step of the way as she talks about the abuse with her family, makes a plan to confront the man and then puts the plan in motion. By granting viewers such access, she will hopefully make it easier for other people to come forward with their stories.

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Sunday, November 13, 2005

Stanley Kubrick's "Lolita"

Note: My thoughts on Lolita were originally posted in my sidebar and was written a few weeks ago.

I really enjoyed Kubrick's 1962 version of Lolita. Shelley Winters blew me away as Charlotte Haze, Lolita's mother. I'd seen Winters in The Night of the Hunter, another great movie, but she wasn't onscreen for very long. Winters played Charlotte as both a disgusting and pitiful woman.

James Mason was also excellent as Humbert Humbert. His Humbert struck me as being a much more despicable than Jeremy Irons's Humbert in Adrian Lyne's version of the story. Now that I think about it, I would say the same goes for the two Lolitas. I could sympathize with Dominique Swain's Lolita, but as far as I can remember, Sue Lyon's Lolita was closer to the precocious brat depicted in Nabokov's novel.

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Saturday, November 12, 2005

"Shiri" and "Lost"

I was rewatching the Korean movie Shiri last night, just the conclusion -- so sad -- and realized that the actress who plays the movie's female protagonist is on the show "Lost." Though Yoon-Jin Kim speaks with a foreign accent on "Lost," she grew up on Staten Island, attended the High School of Performing Arts (the school in Fame) and earned an acting degree from Boston University. Anyway, I thought that was interesting how an Asian-American actress would end up playing a foreigner on an American show. At least "Lost" is careful with character development, and I appreciate the fact that two Asians feature so prominently on a primetime sitcom.

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Thursday, November 10, 2005


I've wondered before why one doesn't see the amount of physical variation in domestic cats that one sees in dogs. Although domestic cats can have different kinds of coats and face shapes among other things, all the cats I've seen, in particular the domestic shorthair cats that dominate shelters, are about the same size.

Then I found out about the munchkin. A fairly new breed, the munchkin is relatively normal in size and appearance except for its very short legs. The cat kind of looks like the feline version of a dachschund. I've read that munchkins move quickly like ferrets and exhibit a similar playful nature. Apparently the shortness of their legs is due to a random mutation.

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Odds and Ends

I've had to interview some children this week for two articles I'm writing. One child, a nine-year-old girl in Georgia, was flawlessly polite on the phone. She would say "yes, ma'am" and "no, ma'am." When I finished questioning her, I asked her if her teacher wanted to talk to me. She answered, "I don't reckon." That's not something one hears up in the North.

Today I talked to another kid, this one an eleven-year-old in Nevada. He also used "ma'am" at the end of his answers. It made me feel old; at the same time, I appreciated the fact that they were so well-mannered. I know I wasn't that articulate when I was their age.

And people thought I was crazy with my big raver pants. Hammacher Schlemmer is selling upside-down Christmas trees this holiday season, which just seems wrong (even though it is an old tradition in some parts of the world). NPR did a story on it today.

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Tompkins Square Dog Run Halloween Parade Photos

I've posted on Flickr another set of photos that I took. The photos are from this year's Tompkins Square Dog Run Halloween Parade.

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