Movie Review: The Secret Lives of Bees with Queen Latifa and Dakota Fanning is Sad and Spectacular

I’m a cryer when it comes to movies, and boy was this one a tear-jerker. It’s told as a story about a 14 year-old girl in South Carolina in 1964, just as Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act and made it so that black people would be allowed to vote – but for real this time.

Lily (Dakota Fanning) and her housekeeper Rosaleen run away from Lily’s mean and abusive father after Rosaleen is beaten for standing up for her right to vote. Lily is in search of information about her mother’s past, who died when Lily was four at Lily’s own hand. That’s the premise and the setting and I’ll leave it at that because truly I won’t be able to do this beautiful movie justice.

I will say a word about Dakota Fanning. She was once one of the best child actresses around, but for some reason fell off the face of the screen for a good stretch there. I don’t know why, but I always wondered if and when she’d be back and if she’d be as good as she was before. Well, it’s safe to say that she is that good and most assuredly has a long and fruitful career ahead of her. I don’t know if she truly understood the roles she was playing as a child or if she was just really good at playing, but I think she really understood the depth of the character and the situation that she was in with this film.

It was truly excellent.

9 Chocolate Salty Balls.

Around the World Pic: Cyrus (my cat) Next to Another Picture of Himself

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For those of you who don’t know him, this is my cat, Cyrus. He’s much bigger and fluffier now. He’s standing on an open Bible next to a picture of himself up on my computer screen. The other thick-ass book behind the computer is the completed works of Aristotle (highly recommended) and then a Hebrew dictionary in the background. This is my kitchen table in my apartment in Israel. I sometimes miss this funky place, even if it was freezing, the ceiling leaked and I got robbed.

Do you have a cat or dog? What’s his/her name? Any pictures you want to share?

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George Clooney’s Smug and South Park’s Hybrid Smug Create the Ultimate Smug Storm in “Smug Alert,” South Park Episode 1002

This episode is awesome and hilarious. On the one hand, I love the way it makes fun of San Francisco. I’ve been living in San Francisco for about 7 months and it really is a great city but holy shit am I tired of hearing about how great it is from every San Franciscan. These people think they are so progressive living in San Francisco. Even the carpet commercials say, “You’re a progressive Californian and you deserve a progressive carpet.” Oh my god! Suck my nuts! Though I like San Francisco, I love the way this episode captures the attitude out here. People here really do love the smell of their own farts (who doesn’t?).

Speaking of loving the smell of his own farts, let’s talk about Gerald Broflovski, who becomes ever more impressed with himself when he purchases a Hybrid and thinks that he’s saving the world. So smug is he that he eventually decides to move his family to San Francisco to cohabitate with all the other self-satisfied hybrid drivers.

In a desperate attempt to get his friend back to South Park (obviously Kyle went away with his family – and starts dropping acid in order to escape his parents who love the smells of their own farts so much) Stan writes a song that is meant to inspire people in South Park to buy hybrids. Well, it works, and ultimately the smug gathering over South Park at people’s new sense of self-satisfaction and the smug gathering over San Francisco combine into an unbelievable Smug System. When the smug from George Clooney’s Oscar acceptance speech (in which he speaks about how ahead of the times actors and Hollywood are) heads in the direction of the already brewing smug catastrophe, it’s more pressure than the western half of the U.S. can take.

See what the fallout of the smug is in “Smug Alert,” an awesome South Park episode.

What did you think? What was your favorite part?

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South Park Episode 405, “Pip,” is Pip’s Very Own Episode About His Sad Life in England

Uh, what can you say about the episode all about Pip other than, “Hmm, that’s a weird episode?” The episode is in the style of Great Expectations and is hosted by Malcolm McDowell, an English Person. Funny enough, too, is that this episode never gets reaired because, as Matt and Trey say in the DVD commentary, it is totally unpopular. But tonight for your viewing pleasure is the episode all about Pip.

Pip must make it out of his horrible life in order to win the hand of the girl he loves, Estella, and in the process he fights robotic monkeys and kills many a bunny.

Is this your favorite South Park episode? Weirdo!

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Quran Read-A-Long: The Cow 232-235 Speaks of Child Support and Waiting After Divorce

Note

I would like to begin by noting that the translation provided below is that of Asad, who is often quoted by some of Quran Read-A-Long’s finest participants. I figure I should switch to his translation and see if that helps facilitate my understanding a little. I think that my copy of the Quran is very nice, but let’s mix it up a bit.

Child Support

Verse 233 seems to support precisely the modern notion of child-support. Not only is the woman allowed to continue to nurse her child for two years regardless of having divorced the child’s father (I’m guessing that the implication here is that the child belongs to the father, not the mother, when the parents part ways and so the woman has to be allowed to see the child), but the father must be able to provide for all the children he sires.

Today we try to hold fathers accountable for their children, but it can be hard to do so due to lack of funds for paternity tests or even being able to find those fathers. By making it part of the Quran, this obvious social necessity becomes linked to God, final judgment and the afterlife, thereby providing in most cases the necessary incentive for becoming responsible for one’s children. We’ve seen this already – making a necessary social action part of a holy text from God means that it is more likely to be obeyed.

Post-Marriage Behavior

Verse 234 releases the woman from her husband after an appropriate period of time, and I imagine this is referring to a sexual situation. Not intercourse, per se, but based on an earlier verse the waiting period between her divorce and being with another man seemed to be very practical – enough time to make sure she wasn’t pregnant with the original husband’s child. Are there other reasons for this particular period? So after this proper waiting time the woman can do what she wants pending that it’s legal. Does that include sexual intercourse? What is Islam’s policy on premarital sex when you’ve already been married once? What if you had divorced the man do to sexual disatisfaction? Wouldn’t it be prudent to investigate that situation a little more thoroughly before diving into another marriage? I imagine that what would be legal is discussions about marriage with another man. Is flirting acceptable? What about kissing (for each of these things I mean after the prescribed period)?

Interesting that this leads into a talk of what a man can do in this situation: appropriately insinuate his interest in a woman (if it’s long-term and marriage guided), but not anything blatant because that would be a violation of the period post-divorce. However, God knows what you intend. The interjection of God is appropriate here (not that it would be inappropriate anywhere in the Quran or in life!) but particularly because the verses are telling us to behave properly while being the appropriate judges of what is proprietous behavior. We can do that, the Quran tells us, so long as we keep God in mind as we act. Certainly, that is a rule of thumb for all behavior. Keep God in mind as you make decisions and choices and you should make the right ones. God knows what you’re thinking and will be merciful and forgiving.

Thanks for reading along! Can you answer any of my questions? Correct anything I said erroneously or just add anything helpful for me and other readers?

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The Cow 232-235

232. And when you divorce women, and they have come to the end of their waiting-term, hinder them not from marrying other men if they have agreed with each other in a fair manner. This is an admonition unto every one of you who believes in God and the Last Day; it is the most virtuous [way] for you, and the cleanest. And God knows, whereas you do not know. 233. And the [divorced] mothers may nurse their children for two whole years, if they wish to complete the period of nursing; and it is incumbent upon him who has begotten the child to provide in a fair manner for their sustenance and clothing. No human being shall be burdened with more than he is well able to bear: neither shall a mother be made to suffer because of her child, nor, because of his child, he who has begotten it. And the same duty rests upon the [father’s] heir. And if both [parents] decide, by mutual consent and counsel, upon separation [of mother and child], they will incur no sin [thereby]; and if you decide to entrust your children to foster-mothers, you will incur no sin provided you ensure, in a fair manner, the safety of the child which you are handing over. But remain conscious of God, and know that God sees all that you do. 234 And if any of you die and leave wives behind, they shall undergo, without remarrying,* a waiting period of four months and ten days; whereupon, when they have reached the end of their waiting-term, there shall be no sin in whatever they may do with their persons in a lawful manner. And God is aware of all that you do. 235 But you will incur no sin if you give a hint of [an intended] marriage-offer to [any of] these women, or if you conceive such an intention without making it obvious: [for] God knows that you intend to ask them in marriage.* Do not, however, plight your troth with them in secret, but speak only in a decent manner; and do not proceed with tying the marriage-knot ere the ordained [term of waiting] has come to its end. And know that God knows what is in your minds, and therefore remain conscious of Him; and know, too, that God is much-forgiving, forbearing.

“Canada on Strike” (1204) is South Park’s Jab at the Hollywood Strike…and Canada

I had mixed feelings about this episode when I first saw it, mostly because I was largely bored by the Canadian Strike, even if it was meant to represent something else equally as ridiculous. And that point – that the Hollywood writers’ strike got them absolutely nothing – was great. I just found the episode to be a little slow and somewhat repetitive, and I hate thinking, “Get on with it,” while watching South Park.

The battle between the stupid people from the YouTube videos was also amusing even though I honestly hadn’t seen but one of the cultural phenomena referred to. That stuff just never reaches me. If you want to provide a link below to any of the things that were being made fun of in the episode, I’d be most appreciative – perhaps some of my readers will be too.

What did you think of this episode? What is your favorite video?

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Weird Motivational Posters about Teamwork, Finding Nemo, and Armpits

Which was your favorite?

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Zen Talk: A Common Complaint Flipped on Its Head

“So little time, so little to do.”
Oscar Levant

You start reading this and you think you know where it’s going. However, it quickly takes a turn in a different direction.

This quote struck home with me since this is a particularly busy time in my life, and I always find myself with more to do than time to do it in. I wake up promptly at 6 a.m. and begin working until my brain shuts off at 10 at night (though I still attempt to push through a little reading). The Zen of South Park is part of that day, my start-up consumes most of the time and then my newspaper column and other part time job eat into whatever might have remained to take a breath and a break. Day after day. Hence my feeling of no time to do all that needs doing.

But boy did this quote slow me down. So little time – how true – but so little to do. Hmm. Makes you think about what’s really important in life. A little note that you should stop and smell the flowers, huh? Well, I can’t say that I’ll be slowing down any time soon but I would certainly mention that I will try harder to keep in perspective what’s really important. On that note, I’m going to see Modest Mouse tonight. I can’t wait. Should be good times.

What does this quote make you think about?

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Movie Review: Lakeview Terrace with Samuel L. Jackson is Not As Bad As I’d Have Thought

I expected a pretty horrendous movie when my girlfriend’s little brother came back from Blockbuster with this, the latest of 8 million Samuel L. Jackson movies. Don’t get me wrong. I love Mr. Jackson. He screams and yells and he’s a badass motha fucka, but generally I find that he’s best not as the central focus of a film but as an enhancement and a complement to its general quality. Know what I mean? And I didn’t even think the plot revolved around him so heavily – but it does.

Jackson is an L.A. cop and a single dad to a teenage girl and a younger boy. And he’s a strict single parent. His wife died. He’s sad and misses her – and there’s a twist to her death! In next door moves an interracial couple, and Mr. Jackson doesn’t like one bit that a white guy is with a black girl. And basically he doesn’t treat them so nice. I was surprised at the degree to which the movie fleshed out a generally unexplored racial tension: older black men disapproving of relationships between white men and black women. Who knew!?

The situation devolves into a tit for tat battle of escalating proportions. The thing that gets frustrating is that you’re like, okay! We get it! It’s escalating – bring it to the next level. But it keeps escalating. Again, the movie’s not that bad. The things that happen between the couple next door and Mr. L. Jackson are interesting and sometimes a little twisted. The film even makes you uncomfortable in spots and adds a decent element of suspense. It’s just like, okay, fine, get on with it.

If you’re looking for cheap action and mild engagement then knock yourself out but otherwise, I say veer in the direction of some more classically entertaining Samuel L. Jackson – like say, Pulp Fiction.

4 Chocolate Salty Balls. Get your copy of Lakeview Terrace.

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Kyle’s Cousin Comes to Town and Mr. Garrison Solves the Airline Problems in South Park Episode 511, “The Entity”

This episode is all about Jewish stereotypes, and rather than portray them in a totally uninteresting way, South Park does a fascinating job of bringing them to the forefront. Kyle’s Cousin, Kyle (who I will call KC) comes from Connecticut to live with Kyle and his family, and he is a walking, talking, breathing Jewish stereotype. He is nerdy looking, obsessed with money and bargains and constantly complains.

Unable to stand the idea that KC is destroying all the hard work he’d done making a good name for Jews in South Park, Kyle does his best to get rid of his cousin. Kyle is terrified of becoming a stereotype himself.

“A self-hating Jew,” Stan exclaims. “You are becoming a stereotype.”

In the meantime, Mr. Garrison, finally fed up with the bullshit of the airlines and hell at the airport, invents a device called the Entity, which travels so fast that it eliminates the need for air travel. Incidentally, the seat goes up your butt and the controller is a shaft held in the mouth. Unfortunately for his brilliant invention the U.S. government refuses to let the airlines go under and shuts Mr. Garrison down.

This episode is a brilliant critique of the government’s protectionism and continually failed policies to help the American people while potentially doing them an enormous disservice and pissing them off. Reminds me of something particularly relevant that’s going on right now…

The end of the episode includes a brilliant message delivered through KC, but you’ll have to watch it to find out what it is.

What did you think of this episode and its current topicality? What was your favorite part?

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