“Express Train to Davis” — or, 21 was AWESOME! Sunday, Mar 30 2008 

Lisa and I went to see 21 last night.  What an awesome movie!  We both absolutely loved it, and Jim Sturgess is the hottness.  (We also thought that the film’s lackluster reviews were largely undeserved.)

Before anything else, I want to mention an error that irked me a bit.

There are two scenes that take place on the red line.  Each time, the sign on top reads “EXPRESS TRAIN TO DAVIS.”

I’ve lived in Davis for over a year, and I have NEVER seen an express train to Davis.  There’s no point — Porter may be less significant, but Harvard is a major stop and Alewife is the end of the line!  Express red line trains go to Alewife.

Also, on the second red line scene, it reads “EXPRESS TRAIN TO DAVIS” and Kate Bosworth’s character gets off at one of the Quincy stops.  That’s impossible.

Anyway.

If you’re not familiar with the movie, it’s a loose adaptation of Ben Mezrin’s book Bringing Down the House, which is based on the MIT Blackjack team that went to Las Vegas and made millions counting cards at Blackjackc.  They robbed Vegas casinos of quite a bit of money for quite a long time before they were caught.

Card counting technically isn’t illegal.  However, as the movie so deftly shows, if you’re caught, there’s a chance you’ll be beaten up by big, beefy security guards.  From what I’ve read, if you’re caught, you’re likely be asked to leave the casino.

I loved seeing the glamorous scenes in Las Vegas, and I always love to see Boston on film, too.  I thought that Kevin Spacey was absolutely electric in his role as the math instructor and leader of the team.

It was so thrilling — it gets your adrenaline.  My heart was racing the whole time, especially during the scenes in Las Vegas.  It made me so excited for my upcoming trip there in June.

(There’s one part when one girl on the team is sitting by a pool, getting a back massage and a foot massage from two different guys at the same time.  Lisa and I geeked out over that.  “That’s so us!” we crowed.)

In runs a bit out of steam later in the film, and there is absolutely no chemistry between Jim Sturgess and Kate Bosworth, but I thought that it was an overall enjoyable film.

Also, I guess I have to say something about the alleged racism.  There has been a lot said in the news about the film being purpotedly racist against Asians.  The real MIT team was primarily Asian, including the guy it’s based on, Jeff Ma, and in the film version, there were only two Asians on the team.  Both of them were goofy, one of them being a total klepto.

First of all, the fact is that casting never reflects real life — at the very least, much more attractive people are cast in the roles than they ever would be in real life.  Not everyone who goes to MIT is hot!  As my college writing advisor said in our classes so often, “Just because it happened that way, that doesn’t mean it makes good fiction.”

Secondly, there are hardly any well-known Asian-American actors.  I can only name one: John Cho (a.k.a. Harold in the Harold and Kumar movies).  Should they have cast more Asians on the team?  Honestly, I didn’t expect them to cast two in the first place.  Maybe one more would have been slightly more relevant, but I don’t think omitting any further Asian characters was an act of malice.

Additionally, plenty of other characters were used for comic relief, including the main character’s two white friends.

In conclusion, I think people are seeing what they want to see when it comes to alleged racism in this movie.  People are making mountains out of molehills.

Try to get out and see 21 this week or next weekend.  I bet you’ll love it!

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Bad Kittehs Saturday, Mar 29 2008 

My favorite LOLcat in a long time:

“Try recycling the newspaper.” Jackass. Friday, Mar 28 2008 

I read the Metro every morning on my way to work, though it’s biased, limited and full of errors.  It’s free; they literally put it into your hands each morning.

I finish the paper somewhere around Park Street and get off the train at South Station.  I, along with everyone else, would dispose of it by throwing it in the trash.  Surprisingly, South Station had no recycling bins — until a few days ago.

A new recycling bin was added next to my default trash can.  Perfect!  I started throwing my newspaper in the bin, along with everyone else.

Yesterday, however, I didn’t recycle it.  I didn’t even realize I forgot to recycle it — it was early, I hadn’t slept much over the past few nights, and I was pretty out of it.  Out of habit, I must have thrown it in the trash can by mistake.

How do I know this?

Because as soon as I got to the top of the stairs, a middle-aged guy turned to me, gave me a dirty look and said, “Try recycling the paper.”

Are you kidding me?!

What a jackass!

Yes, I forgot to recycle my paper yesterday.  It was an honest mistake.

But let me tell you something — that guy has no idea that I am environmentalist who no longer eats meat, who rarely drives, who is planning to buy a hybrid if she can ever afford a new car, who adopted a manatee back when newspapers had to clarify that it was “an endangered marine animal,” and who participated in her first environmental protest at the age of six!

And who the hell does he think he is?  Does he go around yelling at people?  He waited until we got ALL THE WAY UP THE STAIRS before he said something to me!  He had time to think it over!

I said nothing back.  I was too shocked.  (My friends say I should have yelled back at him.)

Okay, guy.  Thanks to your overt rudeness, I will make sure that I never zone out in the morning and accidentally throw my paper in the trash again.

I just hope you know that your attitude is far more poisonous than the environmental damage I could ever cause.

La Pequeña es muy famosa! Wednesday, Mar 26 2008 

I am thrilled beyond belief!  One of my dlisted favorites, La Pequeña, has earned national recognition — on CNN!

First, she was La Pequeña Prohibida, then, she was La Pequeña Amy Winehouse (which I wrote about in this earlier post).

This time, she’s outdone herself.

I present: La Pequeña Hillary Clinton!

This is the greatest thing on the internet right now.

Check out her feature on CNN:

Get rid of the American Idol “mosh” pit!!!! Tuesday, Mar 25 2008 

I am watching American Idol right now.  God, this show sucks you in, even though it’s so easy to hate it.

I mean, it’s obvious that plenty of these contestants (including Carly and Kristy Lee) are plants.  Come on, Carly and Randy Jackson were at the same label at one point!  David Archuleta has family ties to the producers at American Idol!

It’s a cheesy karaoke contest.  There’s enough filler to fill a swimming pool.  Randy has become more incoherent than Paula.  And if I have to hear “Against All Odds” one more time, I’ll be throwing limp Boca patties at the TV.

Still, these things don’t bother me.

I love this show.  I love obsessing about it on the boards, I love the contestants’ stories; I love the near-daily analyses on ew.com.

There is just one thing that bugs me.

THE “MOSH” PIT.

There is a group of tweenage girls that fills a pit in front of the judges’ stand.  While that’s only a minor change, the difference is that these people are always standing, they’re much closer, and they SWAY THEIR DAMN HANDS OFF-RHYTHM TO ANY REMOTELY SLOW SONG, AND PLENTY OF OTHER SONGS, TOO.

Not only is this excruciating to watch from a distance, the hands are now starting to get in the way of the cameras!  There is a great shot of a performer and it’s disrupted by a hand with sausage-like fingers on it waving, or worse, weakly almost-clapping, smack dab in the middle of the screen.

(Carly’s singing now.  Did anyone else think she would sing the Old School version of the song?  Is it bad that I think of that as the default version of the song?  TATTOO FACE!  TATTOO FACE!  THEY SHOWED HER HUSBAND IN THE AUDIENCE!!)

American Idol producers, pretty much every commentator has said the same thing.

GET RID OF THE MOSH PIT.

Or at least restrain the audience from waving their arms.

Highlights of St. Paddy’s Day 2008 Tuesday, Mar 18 2008 

St. Paddy’s Day is one of the many reasons that I am so happy to be living in Boston today.

I don’t have too much to say about the festivities of this year, so I’ll just let this picture speak for itself:

Yeah, that’s me and Lisa with Willie at the Burren in Davis!  Willie from Reading, whom I have known since the first grade!  He moved to my neighborhood a few months ago, so I’ve seen him around from time to time.

I love this picture.  You can see how glad we were to run into each other.

(I also told Surina about the time in the eighth grade when Willie told Lisa that he was going to crucify her and she freaked out until he told her that he meant the wrestling move, not an actual crucifixion.)

Here are the highlights of the night:

  • Lisa and I spent a while talking to a guy who is actually planning a trip to Somaliland!  I have NEVER met anyone who has even heard of Somaliland, let alone planning a trip there!  Somaliland is a region of Somalia that is SAFE, wonderful and so much better than Somalia that it has declared independence — only nobody in the world will recognize it as its own state.  (And how did I find out about this place?  Lonely Planet’s BLUELIST!)
  • I had fun with green eyeliner.
  • Lisa, Surina and I went to Diva for Indian food before our night out and had our usual tasty meal with horrible service.  And I had wonderful coconut and apricot naan.
  • At the Burren, we were sitting right near the ladies’ room and watched a guy walk in by mistake, then come out, holding his hands up in panic.  We laughed for a good ten minutes.
  • We met a guy who teaches science at Parker, one of the middle schools in Reading!  (My sister went there, but Lisa and I went to the other one.)  And he knows our friend who teaches there!
  • Apparently, when a guy walks in with a handlebar moustache, it’s socially acceptable to just point and yell “STAAAAAAAAACHE!”
  • Lisa can jig just as well as her Irish mother!

As always, a great time.  It wasn’t the epic evening that last year was, but it was also a Monday and not a Saturday.  It was relaxing and fun.

Say what you want about Amy Winehouse… Sunday, Mar 16 2008 

Yes, she’s a drug addict and alcoholic, and yes, she’s falling apart.

But don’t ever say that she lacks talent.

This acoustic performance of the Zutons’ “Valerie” proves why she deserves every award she has ever won.  This girl is unbelievable. She blows me away. Best of all, there’s nobody else out there like her.

Check it out:

And, just for laughs, I present you YouTube’s newest star: La Pequeña Amy Winehouse!

Traveling the U.S. Sunday, Mar 16 2008 

Most of the travel-obsessed people whom I know clamor at any opportunity to visit a new country, the more exotic, the better.  Unfortunately, those from the U.S. tend to shun U.S. travel a bit, and I know that I’m guilty of this as well.

Even for the most serious, most hardcore traveler, there’s something to enjoy.  And for a traveler like me — someone who loves exciting cities, beautiful landscapes and interesting people — there are plenty of places that I want to see.  I would especially love to road trip for a month or so.

Here are the top 10 places that I want to visit in the United States:

1) Miami.  Specifically, South Beach.  I send a lot of my super-rich clients there, and I just want to experience the dancing, the restaurants, the beach, the Latin culture, the hot Cuban men everywhere…it sounds fantastic.

2) Las Vegas.  Pure decadence.  Dancing all night, eating fantastic food, gawking at the ridiculous, partying like a celebrity (and likely among celebrities).  The shows!  I want to see Wayne Brady!  And rumor has it you can gamble on occasion.

3) Hawaii.  The most exotic place in the 50 states is definitely a place that I want to visit.  I just want to see and experience the stunning beauty of the islands., from the jungles to the beaches.  And I’d love to learn to surf.

4) Southern Utah.  The bright orange and red rock formations in Zion and Bryce National Parks look gorgeous, and I’ve always loved the southwest.  Moab is supposed to be a really great vacation town, too.

5) New Orleans.  It’s always been edgy, and now even more so, but it has such spirit and vitality.  I’d love to check out the music, the architecture and especially the food.

6) Puerto Rico.  It’s technically part of the U.S., and although I’d love to spend time on the beaches, I’d really like to spend time exploring colorful San Juan.  Again, the music, the food, the attractive people…it’s pretty much the same thing everywhere…

7) The Deep South.  I’d love to explore the antebellum mansions of Mississippi and Louisiana and feel the heavy, humid, magnolia-scented air.  You know I love humidity.

8) Chicago!  It’s one of the major cities in the U.S. that I haven’t yet visited, and I have to visit my friend Jen!  And, of course, there’s shopping in the Magnificent Mile, eating at Charlie Trotter’s and doing all of that legendary clubbing until 5:00 AM…

9) San Diego.  I’ve been doing a lot of San Diego for work, and the more I read about it, the more I want to visit it.  I want to surf, check out restaurants in the Gaslamp District, and spend time on the beaches in La Jolla.

10) And yes, it’s lame, but I really want to visit the Mall of America in Minnesota!  IT’S THE LARGEST MALL IN THE WORLD!!

Kate vs. Katelyn Thursday, Mar 13 2008 

My full name is Katelyn, but I’ve gone by Kate to some since I was eight and to everyone since I was thirteen.  That was until I started my job a year and a half ago.

I introduced myself to my training class as Kate, and I’ve always been Kate to them.  However, as the weeks went by, it started to make sense to go by Katelyn instead.  It’s because I’m listed in all employee directories as Katelyn.

I started identifying myself as Katelyn, just so it would be easier for everyone and result in less confusion.

I work for a large company spanning multiple sites.  If I get a call from someone outside the company and he or she only has my first name (which happens all the time, no matter how often I leave my last name), it takes long enough for my co-worker to figure out who this person is talking about.  If I identify myself as Kate, it will take forever.

So it makes sense to go by Katelyn.

But I’m not sure that I like it.

These days, outside of work, the only people who call me Katelyn are my parents or sister when they’re angry or aggravated with me.  I don’t identify with the name itself.  Whenever I speak to a client or vendor with my name, I always write down “Kaitlyn” or “Caitlin” — it’s like I’ve completely removed myself from the name!

And it’s starting to get on my nerves.  I internally wince whenever I say it.  That’s a bad thing, but it’s true!

(It goes back to when I was little.  My parents told me that they spelled my name the way they did so that I could easily go by “Kate” when I was older.  Always impatient to grow up as quickly as possible, by the age of eight, I interpreted their reasoning to mean that “Katelyn” was a babyish name, and I had to cut myself loose from it as soon as possible.)

So, even though it will cause a bit of confusion, I’ve decided to just be Kate at work from now on.  Most of my good friends at work call me Kate already.  It’s mostly my acquaintances who call me Katelyn, but there are some friends, too — and I should give them the, “Well, actually…” conversation.

My name is Kate!  Kate is retro, bold and sexy as hell!

And NOT Katie, either.  I’ve freaked out after being called Katie since I was little (unless it was a guy to whom I’m attracted, even just a little bit — then, I’m sorry to say, it feels sexy, but probably because of the familiarity a nickname he coins on his own entails).

I don’t hate my full name, and I don’t dislike it, either — I just don’t think it’s me.  I’m a Kate.

Stuff White People Like: Study Abroad Thursday, Mar 13 2008 

I have recently gotten hooked on the site Stuff White People Like.  This blog is hilarious — it examines white people from an anthropological perspective, writing in-depth about things like Bottles of Water, The Wire, Breakfast Places and Threatening to Move to Canada.

They are HILARIOUS.

My favorite?  Study abroad.  Of course.

By attending school in another country, white people are technically living in another country.  This is important as it gives them the opportunity to insert that fact into any sentence they please. “When I used to live in [insert country], I would always ride the train to school.  The people I’d see were inspiring.”

LOVE IT.

If you need to make up your own study abroad experience, they all pretty much work the same way.  You arrived in Australia not knowing anybody, you went out to the bar the first night and made a lot of friends, you had a short relationship with someone from a foreign country, you didn’t learn anything, and you acquired a taste for something (local food, beer, fruit).  This latter point is important because you will need to be able to tell everyone how it is unavailable in your current country.

So true, it’s scary.  The arrival, the bar, the friends, the bar, the friends, the bar, the flings…

Well, I didn’t have a passionate affair with a foreigner (though God knows I wanted to), but it was QUITE a semester, nonetheless.  It was the best thing that I’ve done, ever.

And the thing I developed a taste for was blood orange juice.  I love blood orange juice — and you can’t find it ANYWHERE around here!!

Michigan and Florida do NOT deserve their delegates. Wednesday, Mar 12 2008 

With the race for the Democratic nomination nearly deadlocked, much has been made over the validity of the votes in Florida and Michigan.  Here’s the background:

The Democratic National Committee chooses when the states have their primaries.  Traditionally, the first states to vote include Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.  This year, Nevada was chosen as well, reflecting the demographics of the nation today.

The states of Florida and Michigan decided to move their primaries earlier so that their states would have a greater say in determining the nominee.  Like most of us, the leaders of these states thought that the nominee would be more or less determined by Super Tuesday and that they would miss their chance.

The DNC warned the states not to do this.  Chairman Howard Dean told the leaders of the states that if they had their primaries earlier than scheduled that they would risk losing their delegates and their seats at the convention.

Florida and Michigan ignored the DNC and had the elections anyway.

The Democrats pledged not to campaign in either state.  In Michigan, of the top three contenders at the time, Hillary Clinton’s name was the only one on the ballot.  As a result, 40% of the vote that day went to “Uncommitted.”  Hillary herself garnered 55% of the vote.

Though all three names were on the ballot in Florida, Hillary won the vote there as well, 50% to Obama’s 33% and Edwards’s 14%.

Now that we’re more than three months into the primaries and the race is nearly neck and neck, Michigan and Florida are clamoring to have their votes counted.

They do not deserve their delegates.

Here’s why:

  1. Michigan and Florida were aware of the rules long before they decided to hold their elections early.  They were repeatedly warned by the DNC and threatened with the possibility of losing their delegates.  They went ahead and did it anyway, and now they expect to be rewarded.
  2. If we allow Michigan and Florida to have their votes counted, more states could pull the same stunt four or eight years from now.
  3. Yes, it’s too bad that voters in Michigan and Florida won’t get their votes counted and their voices heard, but it’s also too bad that they elected leaders who chose to selfishly cut corners.
  4. Obama’s name wasn’t on the ballot in Michigan.  It’s not a fair vote.
  5. Many Michigan and Florida voters intentionally stayed home on election day, thinking that it was pointless since their votes count in the long run.
  6. A re-vote would cost around $30 million.  $30 million!  And the states want the DNC to pay!
  7. It’s clear that the candidate who would benefit the most from a re-vote is Hillary.  Is it a coincidence that Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm is a Hillary supporter and Florida governor Charlie Crist is a McCain supporter (as well as, I believe, a likely running mate) who would rather have his candidate face off against Hillary than Obama?  These protests are largely self-serving.
  8. Still, Obama is leading in delegates by so wide a margin that counting the Michigan and Florida votes could prove meaningless.
  9. Most of all, the more time the Democrats spend fighting each other, the more fractured and weakened the party will become, and we need to concentrate on winning back the White House.

You all know that I’m supporting Obama — but I think that these reasons speak for themselves.

So, what do I think should happen?  Seat the Michigan and Florida delegates at the convention.  Split them 50/50.  Chris Dodd (now an Obama supporter) was the first person to suggest that solution, and it’s stunning in its simplicity.

Will it happen?  I don’t know.

Four years ago, though I hoped and prayed that John Kerry would be our next president, some inkling in the back of me was skeptical — John Kerry?  Really?  Most people were ambivalent about him in general, and so was I.  He was the nominee.  He was a great senator.  But the person to put the end to the catastrophic Bush regime?  Did I really, truly believe in his potential?

Now, four years later, we’ve got two fantastic candidates, two inspiring candidates, two candidates who are passionate about repairing our country and making it better than ever before — the greatest Democratic candidates since Bill Clinton, and I think they’re even stronger.

I never dreamed that this would turn into a nightmare.

LifeWater: I’m not impressed. Wednesday, Mar 12 2008 

When LifeWater came out a month ago or so, I knew I had to try it. I love Vitamin Water — it’s full of sugar, but so yummy! But most of all, it was because of their awesome Super Bowl commercial:

I decided to go with pomegranate cherry for my first try. I love both of those flavors on their own, so it was perfect.

Not very exciting. Not very flavorful. It felt empty, and almost like it had a chemical-sugar taste. There was hardly any fruit.

Well, I thought, maybe it was the flavor. The other day, I tried blackberry grape.

COUGH SYRUP. Watery cough syrup. And not the yummy Dimetapp kind.

Yeah, I think I’m going to stick with Power-C and Multi-V Vitamin Water for now…

The Current Best of Overheard in New York Wednesday, Mar 5 2008 

And Relieve You of All Unwanted Currency

Sales clerk: Can I help you with anything?
Depressed girl: I just want to find the nearest window to jump out of.
Sales clerk: I can escort you to the highest point of the store.

–Toys ‘R’ Us, 42nd St

They’ll Have Their Own Reality Series within a Week

Girl #1: Okay, let’s go around the table and tell horrible hook-up stories.
Girl #2: Can anything top the time I woke up stark-naked in London after a night partying in New York?
Girl #3: No one can top that. Unless you consider the time I stole a guy’s car in the middle of the night so I wouldn’t have to do the walk of shame.
Girl #4: Don’t forget the part where you wrecked it and went to jail…

–Spice Market, 13th & 9th

Where Have You Been?

Drunk, to queer: Fag!
Queer: … Dad?

–14th & 8th

Shut Up, T!

Old lady: My grandson Brad and his Jewish wife had a baby.
Old man: That’s very nice. And they’re all doing well?
Old lady: I guess.
Old man: What is the baby’s name?
Old lady: I don’t know. Some long Jewish name.
Teenager: They named her ‘Amy,’ Grandma. Her name is Amy.

The United Nations, Encapsulated

Dude #1: They have been underestimating my power.
Dude #2: What?
Dude #1: They have been underestimating my power for quite some time now.
Dude #2: What are you, a supervillain? Who’s been underestimating your power? The justice league?
Dude #1: No, the electric company. They say I owe them eight hundred dollars.
Dude #2: Dude, you and I were having two totally different conversations.

–Penn Station

And my personal favorite:

Unassailable Logic: A NYC Short Story

Conductor: Ladies and gentlemen, our train cannot proceed because of the passenger on the tracks.
Young black dude: If he is on the tracks, he is not a passenger. Let’s go!

–N train

Johnny D’s Trivia Names Wednesday, Mar 5 2008 

I got to experience the wonder that is Trivia Night at Johnny D’s in Davis Square.  I knew that there would be teams, and I knew that they would have names, but these names were FANTASTIC:

  • Will Ferrell’s Big Balls
  • Happily Ever Afterbirth
  • Dorothy Mantooth
  • I’m Barbara F—ing Walters
  • Food & Thug Administration
  • Check Out My Sideburns
  • Vladimir Poontang

Basically, quote any Will Ferrell movie and you’re in.

I’m going next week, and actively competing, and I can’t decide if I want my team name to be Dr. Kenneth Noisewater or the Glory Holes.  Maybe the Glass Case of Emotion or Pete Doherty’s Crack Kittens.  Or R. Kelly’s Underage Lovers.

Suggestions?

Charlie Bit Me — the best YouTube EVER Wednesday, Mar 5 2008 

Words cannot describe how much I adore this video.  I’ve watched it dozens of times and it never gets old.

Check it out:

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