Sunday, February 24, 2008

Randy Pausch

We had a (Swiss) friend over for dinner last night and at some point after dessert, our conversation turned to the most shared video on Google Videos. I am not a big fan of YouTube or other online video sites, but he kept insisting we watch it--I think because he wanted to talk about it. The actual video is almost two hours long, so he found an abbreviated clip from when he spoke on Oprah (yes, I too rolled my eyes). But we watched the clip (about ten minutes long and I was in tears). Of course, we had to talk about the professor, who is dying of cancer. Our friend was commenting on what a uniquely American concept it was to look at something so hopeless and grim as death and be so upbeat and positive about it. He and M were talking about the French, whose favorite pastime seems to be complaining about something, anything. M was saying how, when he had first moved there, he felt left out when he didn't have anything to complain about. They didn't mean that Europeans were negative or depressed, but that their habit is to talk about things and 'complaining' until they get better conditions etc. And of course, they would never disclose something as private as their terminal illness to the world. Anyway, we talked for almost 2 hours about a 10 minute video clip.

Today, I watched the full 'Last Lecture'. I cried like a baby.

I obviously have never met Dr. Pausch, but feel a great deal of admiration for a man who can live his life with so much sincere enthusiasm, optimism and energy. He has inspired people and 'achieved great' things, as much for his influence on people and the loyalty he has inspired as for the work he has done.

I don't know if you'll have patience to watch the whole thing--but I found it to be quite inspiring (despite the Oprah endorsement).

Am I the Only One?

I was working and watching the Oscars in the background. I haven't seen to many of the movies that were nominated this year, but was thrilled that Atonement won best score. Never has a typewriter been so musical.

One thing I noticed was that all of the winning actors were foreigners. French, Scottish, Spanish and British. I thought that was really cool.

After the show was over, Barbara Walters had her special with a bizarre mix of people. I won't even comment on her guests, but I just realized--that woman is crazy. She's just nuts. I have never been a fan--but tonight she seemed seriously deranged. The look on Ellen Page's face throughout the interview was classic. Frankly, after seeing bits and pieces of the red carpet coverage, and Barbara Waawaa's special, I'm pretty sure all of these entertainment hosts are the dumbest people on the planet. Why is she supposed to be this great interviewer again?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Atone for Your Sins--II

My friend and I saw Atonement today. The movie made me cry, whereas the book left me in shock, and some outrage once I finished it. Even though I knew how it was going to end, I still cried. James McAvoy may very well be my newest favorite British/Scottish actor (he was halfway there with Last King of Scotland).

Considering how I knew the story, there were few surprises in the movie for me--but I still enjoyed it and want to see it again. The exception was the musical score. I loved it. The click-clack of the type-writer has never been so musical and melodious.

If you're on the fence, wondering if you should see the movie or read the book first, I think I'd recommend the movie, which did a fairly good job of staying loyal to its source. Visually, it is beautiful and the acting is great. The book can be too wordy at times and dwell on minutiae, which even I occasionally got impatient with. Still, I enjoyed and recommend both.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Atone for Your Sins

I am going to see Atonement this week, and felt I had to read the book before I saw the movie. So I spent a good part of the weekend not doing the millions of things I needed to get done, and reading the book instead. I was so shocked at the ending, I had to re-read the last 40 pages or so to make sure I understood. Shocked! Shocked I tell you! I want to talk about the book with someone, anyone but fear that they will either roll their eyes and imply I'm crazy (psha) or yell at me for ruining the ending. Either way, I have Atonement on the brain and can only rest easy after I have seen the movie. Maybe.

Which made me think of a few things:
  • Books are incredibly addictive for me. I just can't put the damned things down. I practically drown in them. I give up cooking so I can continue reading. Which is the real reason I had to stop reading for a while. I could easily lose my job because of my reading habit. As it is, I am sneaking reading sessions in between phone calls and meetings. That can't be good.
  • Any Man Booker Prize books that I have read so far, I have loved. So far, I've read about half a dozen books (out of forty). I think I need to address that situation immediately.
  • I need to go to the library more often. As it is, I walked away with a box of free books that were sitting there begging for a new home. Next thing you know, I'll get paid for reading. Weeeee! (Seriously, is there a job that will pay me to read books?)
That's it for now. Thankfully, I returned Atonement and can't rehash and re-read it. I am moving on. I have now borrowed Enduring Love by the same author. See, I'm expanding my horizons.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

This Bizarre Valentine

These past couple of days, I realized there are some truly bizarre things that are marketed to people for Valentine's Day. Things like 7' gorillas that will be delivered to your girlfriend's doorstep; pajamas that say just how much you like to snuggle with that special someone; chocolates in exotic flavors that you can buy for just $9.99 at CVS; or a romantic dinner for two at your favorite neighborhood Chili's. All those special gestures that show how much you care for that special someone in your life.

I dislike the idea that less than two short months after the shopping bonanza of Christmas, people need to be reminded that they should tell their significant other that they love them. Why? Don't we remember to say 'I love you' if we don't see red and pink signs EVERYWHERE? Is there ever a need for a 7' gorilla in the room? But still, I figured that just because I don't appreciate these things doesn't mean that someone else doesn't. And if these things bring a little bit of happiness to someone, who am I to play the cynic* and say they have fallen prey to marketing tricks?

But there are times that people take things too far. I mean, how on earth can you advertise a show about a brothel and its sleazy clients--with its season premier on Valentine's Day? Maybe I'm not getting the romantic angle here. Do you talk your girlfriend into staying home and watching a bunch of women soliciting men? Is this supposed to give her any ideas? Are these the kind of ideas your girlfriend should be getting?

I think I'm offended.

(*I just want to say that I don't hate holidays. I love holidays. I don't like my senses being assaulted and told that I must buy tacky gifts to prove that I love/care/think about people. My mom does a perfectly good job of that, thankyouverymuch).