Monday, November 30, 2009

Darn That Dash Cam

Saw this over on Boing Boing. A man walks into a bank. Hands the teller a note demanding money. A short time later, a man is pulled over and arrested on suspicion of being said bank robber. The officers place him up against the hood of the cruiser and begin to empty his pockets. In an attempt to make himself appear less guilty (or so I imagine) the man leans over and eats the note.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

7 Things: NaNoWrimo Again

1. I cannot write 1667 words a day for 30 days. I can however, apparently write somewhere between zero and 4000.
2. This year I actually even had some plot left over when I hit 50,000.
3. That does not mean that I don't have a ton of sitting and talking scenes.
4. It turns out that butt in chair thing really works. Or butt in couch.
5. There will always be someone who makes your progress look ridiculous. Whether it's the person who - despite having kids and stuff crossed the finish line two weeks ago or the person who had the flu and started late and still made up all that time and finished.
6. Editing is for December. Or January.
7. Still, 50k - whether you get there slow and steady, or in ginormus bursts is awesome.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Ballou Marching Band

Ballou High School is fairly well known, notorious even in the DC area. The school made the news several times in 2004 when they closed down a few times and experienced violence. People called for the school to be just shut down. But of course, if you have ever found yourself attached to a group getting news coverage, you know it is only the extremes that make the news. So, now it's time for the other extreme.
Ballou has a marching band. The seniors in the marching band always graduate (sadly that is not the case for the rest of the senior class at Ballou.)
The marching band is the subject of a documentary. They have been featured on "The Ellen Degeneres Show". They marched in the Inaugural Parade. And they were asked to appear in the Rose Bowl parade. (And I recommend that article, it explains very eloquently about the value the band is providing. In fact I want to send it to everyone who suggest cutting music programs.)
And now, they were the first DC school band ever to appear in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

Squirrels in the Basement

Sometimes, deep into a manuscript something happens. One of the characters suddenly does something that you, the author, did not expect. Some people attribute this to a muse or divine intervention. Stephen King spoke of a guy coming up from the basement and depositing something on the table in front of you. Jennifer Crusie often refers to the girls in the basement, the idea that no matter how much plotting or outlining you do there's always a moment when your fingers put down something and you go, huh, well, that's not quite how I had planned that but interesting. And still others talk about how those ideas rattling around in the back often create something (it turns out they're brothers) that ends up adding a new layer or wrinkle that's really kinda cool.
So, I was pointed to a story from this summer. This couple were on vacation, and they wanted to take one of those - Here's us in front of the lake - photos. And they setup the camera and set the timer and got into place, and just before the picture was taken a squirrel popped up intrigued by the sound of the camera. So, their picture ended up looking like this.
So, sometimes in writing you end up with surprise squirrels.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It May Look Like Just Hanging Out

The UUA President Peter Morales said this, in the latest UU World,
"I am convinced that we too often fail to recognize how much our children, youth, and young adults need to give. Hanging out is not a spiritual practice. Joining hands to work for something we care about is. Service is an essential part of faith development. We need to do so much more to engage the idealism and energy of our young people."
Now here's the thing, I absolutely agree that service to and for others is an important part of being a spiritual community. But there are three things that bother me about this.
(ChaliceChick has also chimed in wonderfully over here.)
1. While the column does address the needs of congregations as a whole to give, he has chosen to particularly single out people under the age of 35*. I don't necessarily believe his intention was to imply that these groups are somehow slacking, but here's the interesting thing about these groups - many in congregations assume that they are slacking. Or that they are available for free labor - to look after the young kids while the adults have fun, or to help move a couch. One youth ministry coordinator used to respond to requests for youth to assist with something by asking what other groups had been called on. Her feeling was that if you wouldn't also make this same request of the choir, or the coffee groups, then maybe picking on the youth wasn't the best approach either.
2. I understand that contributing to the greater good is important part of congregational life. I also understand that studies show that congregants participating in such events end up feeling more deeply committed to their congregation, so it serves the congregation well too. But it also means the congregation has to figure out how to offer options that don't require a monetary commitment (young adults are often in transitional life phases), have easy access to public transportation so that kids, youth and young adults can get there without having to rely on parents for a ride, and fit well into their busy lives. Some congregations assume that if you can get there on Sunday, you must be able to get there any other time too, forgetting the complex arrangements that might entail.
3. Hanging out is important. It helps bond you to your fellow congregants. It helps remind you that there are others who believe similar things, which for UU kids, youth and young adults is really important. They often face confusion and even mild harassment for their beliefs in school, they need to be reminded that there is a place where they are the norm. And these kids, the number one reason we don't see a youth for a few weeks is usually because they were too busy with sports, homework or theater work. It is rarely because they chose to sleep in (although if they did, I could hardly blame them). I'm not saying that the other things they do (which ChaliceChick listed well, although I would add the Murder Mystery Dinner Theater and the Coffee Houses that they run, with the money from these events going to charity). And the youth enjoy those things too, in fact most of these came from a youth coming up with the idea and now it's just one more thing we do each year. But they should also have space to hang out with each other.

*For RE purposes, the UU definition of child is 0-14, youths are usually high school aged 14-22, and young adults are 18-35.
Edited for spelling.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sign I am Easy to Please

I think "NCIS: Los Angeles" is sort of a placeholder show. It's got potential, but sometimes, I feel like it is a better show if I don't look to close. But, I adore Hetty, played by the lovely Linda Hunt.
Well, so, although I know she is fictional and all, I feel somewhat proud that Hetty and I have the same phone.

Monday, November 23, 2009

There's So Much That We Share

So, I purchased tickets over the phone for a play. When I started to give my address, it turned out the ticket taker lives in my building, on my floor, about six apartments over from mine. So, the address part went really fast.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

So Jealous!

Seriously, while the no tolerance policies high schools some high schools are sporting these days kinda suck, there are things about high school today that (almost) make me wish I could do it again. Things like this high school in Canada that will now get their textbooks downloaded to their Sony e-readers. The e-readers (as do most of the dedicated readers) allow for notations so students can not only read but make notations.
Also, one reader has got to be so much lighter than carrying six or seven textbooks. Although, it does make it harder to forget your books. (Or, well, easier too.)
Hat tip to Dear Author for the link.
ETA the word policies.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Denominator Gets Lower

I want to state that I do not think reality television, in and of itself, is evil, bad or mind-rotting. But certainly there have been some really horrid premises. Yes, well, over in the UK, plans are in the works for "Plane Crash". A plane will be deliberately crashed so they can view the wreckage. Supposedly this will provide insight into safety issues.
The promoters are very proud of the idea that nothing like this has been attempted before.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Found One!

The DC quarter was released in January. (I was very excited, even with the modified design change.) Which means in January I started bugging cashiers. Using bills to get as much change as possible. (I am also making the Coinstar people happy). By summer I was ready to spout conspiracy theories, but then someone got one, so I knew they did exist, I just had to acquire one. I actually got a Puerto Rico one first.
But now, finally, cashiers in the area can relax.
Quarter 2

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I am Cool Like

In case it wasn't clear, I am a big sucker for group musically inclined type projects. Add in a charity and/or a seemingly plausible grassroots - type story, well you might be able to sell me the Brooklyn Bridge. Or a least a song about it.
So we have the Chartjackers, with the crowd sourced, "I've Got Nothing".

Hat Tip to the Monkey See Blog.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

All By Myself

Okay, my cat disagrees with this assessment, but nonetheless, apparently a huge portion of folks in the DC area live alone. I find this fascinating mostly because I would think rents in this area would force a higher number of people to have roommates. Goodness knows that's the only way I was able to live in most of the places I lived.
But it's nice to know I'm not alone. Well, you know what I mean.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Where I Gleek Out

I am going to bring together two things that have been talked about a little recently. One involves "gLee". (Did you know the first gLee soundtrack is out soon? Did you know I may get tired of typing it gLee?) Now people always say that muscial TV shows don't work, pointing to "Cop Rock" and "Viva Luaghlin". I actually think "Cop Rock" wasn't that bad (can't say the same for "Viva Laughlin", even having Wolverine there didn't help). But clearly "Cop Rock" didn't find the right audience and got pulled early. Of course, there was this little show called "Fame" that had singing and was also had other things that people say don't work (movie spinoff, diverse cast, high schoolers that actually graduated) and it managed to survive pretty well.
(Did I mention that the gLee soundtrack is coming?)
With the apparent weak opening of "Amelia" the latest discussion is whether or no women can open movies and if it's that women won't watch movies about women that aren't fun group movies. I think honestly when I can watch movies on my phone, getting me to a theater has to offer me an experience that justifies my needing to be in a special place, at a special time, for a "special" amount of money, with only "special" snacks and surrounded by people who might cough or whisper about where they saw that guy before*. It has to be something that I think the movie screen will make better than watching on my couch. That's why I think visually interesting movies are doing well. Or movies where you can gather all your friends for dinner and a movie (because my couch is only so big.)
So, in the Post article about the end of movies with strong women, I think it totally ignores the possibility that people didn't want to see "Amelia" because it's possibly boring, or a movie where you know the main character dies in the end and instead said, oh, it must be because it's about a woman. (I am not unbiased on the subject of Amelia Earhart, but still.)
I think the important thing is this quote from Dergarabedian "Ultimately, everything comes down to the movie. If the movie's good, it can cross over all kinds of lines and break all sorts of rules."
And that's really the end result, people see movies that intrigue them. People watch TV shows that intrigue them. I ignored "Buffy" because vampires creep me out. (And it was on opposite "Ally McBeal".) But I heard and read enough things that made it sounds like something I might like until I finally checked it out. And loved it.
I love "gLee". (Did I tell you the sound track is out soon?) I love it despite it's faults. I love the singing and the dancing and I love the little moments they get right, the little bits in the midst of the crazy.
Now, I agree with the point by March Hirsch over at Monkey See that more live singing, or less produced stuff would make it even better. And yes, the kids sitting around singing was better than the crazy over produced version of "No Air". ("No Air" was still fun, but let's face it, it was clear we had crossed over into a music video with not even the tiniest bit of reality left.)
I also think a great point is made by there, that yes, we know it's a TV show, but there is a point where all the things that remind you this is just TV add up to too much and it starts to be less fun. (My tolerance level is usually raised when people sing for me. The gLee sondtrack is coming, had you heard?)
So in the end, I think the point is people watch stuff not because it's "good" or "about a strong woman" but becuase they think they will enjoy it. And while everyone's standard for that is different (and certainly about a strong woman might well be your benchmark) people watch stuff they wouldn't necessarily choose in a survey when it looks good enough to get over their other issues with people singing, or period pieces, or biographies or blood and gore or whatever their normal not for me's are.
Hey, had you heard about the gLee soundtrack? Since the Monkey See Article had the jam session, I will leave you with this. (Yes, it also looks like a video, but it;s so great, that I don't care.)

*It was George Clooney! And no this wasn't young people being disruptive, they were senior citizens.