Monthly Archives: January 2012

Trippin’ the creepy meter III

Not really creepy at first, as much as disgusting.  From this article in last Saturday’s Wall Street Journal:

Many Asians regard all cheese, from processed American slices to Stilton, as utterly disgusting—the equivalent of cow excrement.

Hmmm. And I turn up my nose at bird poop soup. Maybe it’s the same thing. I mean really, what is cheese? Rotted, fermented animal juice. And my wonderful Velveeta? The cast-off waste product of rotted, fermented animal juice.

Food for thought. :P

And speaking of head scratchers, I humbly submit the following for your consideration:

Have a lovely day, fiends. :-)

Review: The Tree of Life


I’ve deleted several sentences right out of the gate this morning. Talking about this film is like spooning up mercury, or herding cats. First, let me tell you what type of movie this is not:

  • a date movie
  • linear in its narrative
  • “feel-good”
  • transparent; without deep symbolism
  • for the easily bored or impatient viewer

Au contraire, mon frère. This movie takes work. With a 2.5-hour runtime — some scenes going as long as 10 minutes with no dialogue — and a seriously convoluted plot presentation, one has to pay attention. Bigtime.

Amidst back-and-forth scenes from the late 1950s to the present day, we’re shown the troubled life of a man named Jack (Sean Penn), who, while now in his mid-50s, still struggles to reconcile the death of his brother (we’re led to believe during the Viet Nam War) at age 19. Through Malick’s eyes, we see Jack’s choices in life as a comparison to the ins and outs of basic survival from the beginnings of time.

No, really — he shows us stuff from the beginnings of time:  a dinosaur conflict (one dinosaur emerges from a thicket to find another on the shoreline, wounded and unable to defend itself), exploding nebulae, the dawn of the universe, a giant asteroid hitting Earth, the seas forming, prehistoric ocean creatures…he runs the gamut. For a while (during the first extended period of wordless scenes), I thought I was watching a tribute to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kubrick-like images like this, this and this took over the screen for lengths of time that seemed to push the edge of what the average moviegoer would tolerate. After a while, I became a bit suspicious. Was this going to be one of those pretentious outings by a reeeeeally serious director who just likes to hear himself talk about abstract concepts? Is it one of those movies that’s so weird, people will automatically ooh and ahh and call it art and nominate it for Best Picture? It also won the Cannes Film Festival’s top honor, by the way.

Fortunately, the acting of Brad Pitt saved me from jumping to that conclusion. As Jack’s strict, inventor father, Pitt gathers the pieces together for us. Tragically frustrated (he chose, out of necessity, to be an engineer rather than pursue his love of music), Pitt delivers the perfect picture of a man so driven by his failures, he is determined beyond all else to see that his sons don’t repeat history. The effect on his eldest son (Penn) is profound and long-lasting — as things like this usually are.

So after all these words, I’m still not to the core of the thing. And as it’s 5:54 and I’m running out of time, I won’t get there today. Suffice it to say that if you watch this film, open up your mind and forsake all preconceived notions of storytelling. Enjoy the stellar performances by Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain, and let other chips fall where they may.

On the Rat-O-Meter scale of five cheeses, I give The Tree of Life:


L’hiver est arrivé

Sure looks like it. And about time, too.

Rousseau, at his relaxed happiest at 6:30 this morning…

You know, as much as I complain about the weather (and lack of weather on school days when I’d rather stay home in my jammies), winter is very pretty here. Peaceful and quiet.

Until, of course, you get in your car.

Happy Saturnday, fiends — hi ho, hi ho…

What I like about today


  1. It’s Finkday. And there was much rejoicing.
  2. I’m spending part of the day at beautiful Terra Community College, in a planning session for the proposed Jazz and American Music Festival. Fun.
  3. It’s 6:25 a.m., and I don’t have to get ready to leave yet.
  4. Basically, it’s a 3-day weekend. Score!
Too bad it’s filled with work, but hey — we take what we can get. Happy weekend, fiends! I’m going to try and squeeze in some baking time. What’s up for you?

New England on the brain

No, not the Patriots — are you kidding? (I’m officially pulling for the G-Men.) Actually, I mean our upcoming New England Odyssey.

Last night, we nailed down the final lodging arrangements, thereby sealing our itinerary in wet cement. I mean, everything’s changeable, but we’re basically sticking with this plan, which is slightly different than our previous skeleton outline. We’ve decided against Canada and Detroit on the way home, and we’ll bypass some points in New York. But bring on all the rest, baby. I am ready today.

We’re especially looking forward to Bangor, Bar Harbor, Cape Cod, and the fabulous scenery on the Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train. Then there’s staying in the historic Hawthorne in old Salem. BoooOoOOooooOo (I understand the Hawthorne is haunted — terrific). Driving through — and stopping along — the countryside towns will be unforgettable, I’m sure. Lots of photography.

Fort Ticonderoga will be fantastic, but I still doesn’t wants to go on the ferry. :-| Hershey, Philadelphia, Atlantic City, Foxwoods:  all fun diversions. Man, snap your fingers and it’s June. Don’t I wish…

But nope, it’s still January, and I’m still going to work. Working all weekend, too. Innat nice? How about you? Any fun plans?

5:30 a.m. edit — Just got the call for a 2-hour delay. Now that definitely makes the list of Things That Do Not Bite. 8-)