Friday, December 28, 2007

Juno and RudeGirl...Girl Power, as they say...

Well, hello there. It's been a while. It's been a whirlwind. All those people I know and love that live far from here are !BOOM! and the funtime never stops!

Just saw Juno finally last night and guess what? It's fucking GREAT. It really, really is. And you know, anticipation has a habit to set you up for does overhype and overexposure. But, a wonderfully written, beautifully acted and directed movie can't help being awesome. So see it, and decide for yourself...I would be surprised if you didn't like it. Oh, just make sure you buy your tix in advance and show up early. Dude at the ticket booth told me it's been sold out, every night since the damn thing opened. Fuck Little Miss Sunshine. This is where it's at. (I only say that because *everyone* keeps saying it in the same breath as Juno and yeah, I get it, but this movie is FAR BETTER, people.)

It's a story that you think you might be predictable or hokey or too simplistic about a big-deal-issue: 16-year-old gets preggers and shit--what do you do? Well, it's handled so well in the film--I marveled at it. It's still a *movie* of course, but the realistic bits are good n' plenty enough to make it hit hard and feel true.

My one and only complaint: the music throughout the movie *sucked*. A lot. Whew. It's chiefly made up of songs by the Moldy Peaches. Yeah, I'd heard of the chick...but had no idea how shitty the music was. All of the songs are annoyingly sing-songy, the lyrics are full of child-like simplicity and it was so bad to me, it was actually *distracting* at times. Just really weak and disappointing. I guess it's supposed to be cutesy and we're meant to assume it represents what "Juno would listen to," but that doesn't ring true for a second. One of the best little bits in the movie for me was when Jason Bateman's character (a music man, actually, who hails from the School of 1993 Grunge) is trying to describe the appeal of Sonic Youth. Juno then cites her "top three" fave music acts (this is a radically accompanied by black white photos flashed quickly on the screen): Iggy and the Stooges, Patti Smith and The Runaways. Fucking right on!!! She says that music was magical and perfect in 1977 and loves the punk rock, clearly. So, why, I ask, do we NEVER hear any punk? It's a goddamn shame.

Ellen Page is a damn revelation. She is the Jodie Foster for her generation. Smart, pretty, sassy, (maybe gay?) fantastic young actor, she is ideal for this role. And good fucking job, Ms. Cody. I had my doubts, I won't lie. I have been reading about story (sorry) for YEARS now, and I wondered what the final product would be like. It's a beaut. It's something I could see again and again, too. It's so layered and filled with that pure sugarpop culture dialogue that just pops and crackles and flows and *works*. It's not Clueless. It's far more creative and far more *real* than that. For as slick and clever as the words that flutter fast as fire from Juno's mouth, there's real moments of awkwardness. Other characters have their very own way of speaking, too. She's a great screenwriter! Bring on the backlash, my ass. Arctic Monkeys, Diablo Cody, bring it on! Bring on the praise and the opportunity.

You deserve it.


Also--I did this little thing on Saturday...I was lucky enough to participate in the Rude Girl project: An all female tribute to the Clash! This group of women who put it together are a total inspiration. Emily B on guitar has only been playing the axe for 4 months! How punk rock is that!? She fucking rocks. Well, all the chicks rock and they were so kind and welcoming to me...I only made it to two rehearsals, and it was such a great experience...really kinda magical. Just that whole playing and singing punk rock in a basement kinda thing. Such a glorious thing to be a part of--something I always wanted to...try.

We played the Triple Rock and a lot of people actually showed up! I sang the closer, the Clash cover-version of "I Fought the Law." What a fun song to sing. I used to sing along to that bad-ass anthem when I was just a wee lass. It was totally on those Time Life cassettes I worshiped. 1965, totally. Bobby Fuller Four. Awesome. Then, the Clash does their kick-ass version with some more dangerous lyrics--I just had to wear sunglasses on stage.

Check out photos and the review here, at

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Power to the people, right on.

THIS rocks.

December 18, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
The Obama-Clinton Issue

Hillary Clinton has been a much better senator than Barack Obama. She has been a serious, substantive lawmaker who has worked effectively across party lines. Obama has some accomplishments under his belt, but many of his colleagues believe that he has not bothered to master the intricacies of legislation or the maze of Senate rules. He talks about independence, but he has never quite bucked liberal orthodoxy or party discipline.

If Clinton were running against Obama for Senate, it would be easy to choose between them.
But they are running for president, and the presidency requires a different set of qualities. Presidents are buffeted by sycophancy, criticism and betrayal. They must improvise amid a thousand fluid crises. They’re isolated and also exposed, puffed up on the outside and hollowed out within. With the presidency, character and self-knowledge matter more than even experience. There are reasons to think that, among Democrats, Obama is better prepared for this madness.

Many of the best presidents in U.S. history had their character forged before they entered politics and carried to it a degree of self-possession and tranquillity that was impervious to the Sturm und Drang of White House life.

Obama is an inner-directed man in a profession filled with insecure outer-directed ones. He was forged by the process of discovering his own identity from the scattered facts of his childhood, a process that is described in finely observed detail in “Dreams From My Father.” Once he completed that process, he has been astonishingly constant.

Like most of the rival campaigns, I’ve been poring over press clippings from Obama’s past, looking for inconsistencies and flip-flops. There are virtually none. The unity speech he gives on the stump today is essentially the same speech that he gave at the Democratic convention in 2004, and it’s the same sort of speech he gave to Illinois legislators and Harvard Law students in the decades before that. He has a core, and was able to maintain his equipoise, for example, even as his campaign stagnated through the summer and fall.

Moreover, he has a worldview that precedes political positions. Some Americans (Republican or Democrat) believe that the country’s future can only be shaped through a remorseless civil war between the children of light and the children of darkness. Though Tom DeLay couldn’t deliver much for Republicans and Nancy Pelosi, so far, hasn’t been able to deliver much for Democrats, these warriors believe that what’s needed is more partisanship, more toughness and eventual conquest for their side.

But Obama does not ratchet up hostilities; he restrains them. He does not lash out at perceived enemies, but is aloof from them. In the course of this struggle to discover who he is, Obama clearly learned from the strain of pessimistic optimism that stretches back from Martin Luther King Jr. to Abraham Lincoln. This is a worldview that detests anger as a motivating force, that distrusts easy dichotomies between the parties of good and evil, believing instead that the crucial dichotomy runs between the good and bad within each individual.

Obama did not respond to his fatherlessness or his racial predicament with anger and rage, but as questions for investigation, conversation and synthesis. He approaches politics the same way. In her outstanding New Yorker profile, Larissa MacFarquhar notes that Obama does not perceive politics as a series of battles but as a series of systemic problems to be addressed. He pursues liberal ends in gradualist, temperamentally conservative ways.

Obama also has powers of observation that may mitigate his own inexperience and the isolating pressures of the White House. In his famous essay, “Political Judgment,” Isaiah Berlin writes that wise leaders don’t think abstractly. They use powers of close observation to integrate the vast shifting amalgam of data that constitute their own particular situation — their own and no other.

Obama demonstrated those powers in “Dreams From My Father” and still reveals glimpses of the ability to step outside his own ego and look at reality in uninhibited and honest ways. He still retains the capacity, also rare in presidents, of being able to sympathize with and grasp the motivations of his rivals. Even in his political memoir, “The Audacity of Hope,” he astutely observes that candidates are driven less by the desire for victory than by the raw fear of loss and humiliation.

What Bill Clinton said on “The Charlie Rose Show” is right: picking Obama is a roll of the dice. Sometimes he seems more concerned with process than results. But for Democrats, there’s a roll of the dice either way. The presidency is a bacterium. It finds the open wounds in the people who hold it. It infects them, and the resulting scandals infect the presidency and the country. The person with the fewest wounds usually does best in the White House, and is best for the country.