Thursday, July 31, 2008

Notes on seeing The Dark Knight

***Here there be spoilers!***

- For all the buzz about Heath Ledger's performance, I think that Aaron Eckhart was equally compelling. His turn to the dark side was a bit hard to swallow, but that's a weakness in the script. I only wish that Harvey Dent had been a more likable character.

- The scene in which the Joker burns the big pile of money is problematic for two reasons. 1) Gotham must exist in some very alternate reality in order for the Joker to be able to say that gas is cheap. 2) His monologue is too self-righteous. Who is he to talk about the glory days of Gotham villains?

- This film is definitely non-compliant with the Bechdel-Wallace Rule.

- In a similar vein, of the three female characters who have names, one gets killed, one is a turncoat, and one is a mom. (And isn't Barbara Gordon supposed to be Commissioner Gordon's daughter?)

- I wonder how they write action and car chase sequences for movies like this. Do they write it out specifically: "Motorcycle drives up wall and does a flip thing"? Or just "Insert badass blow-up-y stuff here" and let the action choreographers figure it out?

- I wonder how many mpg the Batmobile gets.

- The trope of a villain putting both a friend and love interest of Batman in peril and making him choose who to save always seemed really gimmicky to me. I'm glad that Batman was not able to save both in this reworking.

- I liked that Joker's exploding ferry scheme was an exercise in Game Theory. Very fitting.

- My favorite thing about Christian Bale's portrayal of Bruce Wayne is that he makes it very obvious (to the audience, at least) that the whole playboy millionaire thing is an act. This is much more convincing and laudable than previous incarnations in which Bruce Wayne has little personality and actually is a playboy. Bale's Wayne is more to Batman what Clark Kent is to Superman - an actual alternate identity - but rather than meek and mild-mannered, he goes for arrogant and air-headed. ("Should I go to the hospital?")

- It was a little too long. One too many climaxes, if you ask me.

- I want an "Ichi the Killer"/"Dark Knight" crossover Christmas special in which Joker and Kakihara go on a crime spree together.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


I am a fan of the New England Patriots. However, I have a soft spot in my heart for the Green Bay Packers because my brother has been a Cheesehead since he was three years old. For his Bar Mitzvah, we went to Lambeau Field to see them play. He has something of a shrine to Brett Favre in his room. When Brett Favre announced his retirement in March, I was sad to see him go, but knew it was the right thing. He had a remarkable run. The latest controversy regarding his possible return is therefore somewhat tortuous. This article in the Globe makes the whole thing seem like a messy public break-up:

It ended amicably. They had many fond memories together, but it was time to part ways. Brett broke the news to the Packers in a "tearful goodbye news conference."

Some people close to the couple were surprised it had lasted so long, given the near break-ups they'd every off-season for the past few years, "but it seemed to be for real this time."

They still had strong feelings for each other: "'[General manager] Ted [Thompson] always wanted Brett back,' [coach Mike] McCarthy said. 'We always wanted Brett back.'"

A few weeks later it seemed like they might get back together, but Brett felt that he "had reached a point of closure."

They kept in touch, and "regularly communicated." But there was a "rising tension" in late June. Brett wanted the Packers to take him back, but he still wavered as to whether he "was ready to make a 100 percent commitment."

Then last week, in a "text message exchange between Thompson and Favre," Brett said he needed to talk urgently. He wanted to commit.

But it's too late. The Packers are "committed to Aaron Rodgers as their starter," they "have since moved forward." No doubt this only makes Brett want to get back together even more. Green Bay hopes that there is "some role that he might play here." They still want Brett in their lives, if only as a friend.

Brett thinks it will be too hard to continue seeing each other if they can't have the relationship they once had. He wants out. But the Packers aren't ready to let go. They won't release him.

Where does that leave the Packers and their beloved three-time MVP?

In a pretty big mess.

"Quite frankly, it's a little gut-wrenching as an organization to go through it, and certainly for Mike and myself," Thompson said. "This stuff hurts a lot of people. I mean, it hurts. I'm not talking about physically hurting, but the sensitivity."
So what now? If Brett stays with the Packers, he'll be relegated to the sidelines, forced to look on in envy as his team plays with a different man in his place. His other option is a trade. But can he imagine playing football with someone else? Someone new? He may never find another team with the same chemistry. And what would happen when he'd have to play against the Packers, meeting awkwardly on the field? Would he well up with nostalgia? Or feign a stoic indifference?

Oh, Brett. Breaking up is hard to do, yes. But you should have thought earlier. Now you're left scrambling to hold it together. It isn't fair to us that you keep toying with our emotions like this. We don't want to burn any bridges, but we can't live suspended like this. You broke our hearts, got our hopes up, let us down - we can't take this roller coaster relationship much longer.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Things You Might Not Know About Me: Rachel as Sporty Spice

This post is first in what may become a series.

The summer following 11th grade, I went to Israel for six weeks on a program through my summer camp. The beginning of this post finds me panting as I climb the ridge of a mountain in the Negev desert. The rest of my group is ahead of me. The only person behind me is Elad, our armed guard of the week, who makes sure nobody gets left behind (I did get left behind at a beach in Tel Aviv, but that's another story). Elad says to me, "I don't get it. You seem to really like hiking, and you have great hiking boots, but you're so slow. You're always the last one." Israelis are pretty forward, so I know his curiosity is genuine; he's not trying to put me down. And quite the opposite, I take it as a compliment. Elad's observation is a perfect summation of the story of Sports & Me.

I am by no means an athletic person - I'd take Wii Tennis over real tennis any day - but I do enjoy being active. My general distaste for sports probably stems from the humiliation I suffered at the hands of my elementary school gym teacher. At the beginning of every class period, we'd have to run laps around the gym. Fine. No big deal. The traumatic part was when the teacher would disallow passing. At this point, the entire class would lap me and be stuck running behind me. As their frustration increased, so did my mortification, until they all finished and I was left to run my last lap alone. And so a string of similarly cruel gym teachers discouraged me early on from enjoying physical education.

I used to hate team sports - I didn't like anything where I could cause the team to lose - and so I'd goof off instead of trying to play well and failing. I liked Capture the Flag because I didn't have to make a run for the flag if I didn't want to, which I never did. I was damn good at guarding the jail, though.

To this day, the sports I really like are non-competetive. Ultimate Frisbee is the most competetive sport I play (although unfortunately I haven't played in a long while), and it's known for being laid-back, holding the Spirit of the Game holy above all else. I don't get many opportunities to be active these days. When I was much younger I took horseback riding lessons, and five styles of dance classes - ballet, jazz, hip-hop, tap, and flamenco. We haven't been on a vacation in a while, but my family likes sporty getaways such as snorkeling and kayaking in Belize or downhill skiing and snow tubing in Maine. On a school trip I went ice climbing, cross-country skiing, and dog sledding. At camp last year I was the head of the rock climbing staff. I love hiking.

When I was thirteen I tried to go to the gym at the JCC with my sister, but I got kicked out because I was a year too young to use any of the equipment. I didn't go back. Of course, It's easy to blame my lack of athleticism on bad experiences. But the real reason is that for a long time I had a lack of motivation. I'd made up my mind that I was bad at sports, so I turned my attentions elsewhere.

This past semester, I started going to the gym at school. All it took was a few friends to show me the ropes. Now, I've started boxing. I'd always wanted to learn how to box, and this summer I finally have the opportunity. I love it. The people and trainers at my gym are all wonderful. I feel myself getting stronger and more competent. I might even step into the ring to spar before the summer's over.

But don't get me wrong - I still loves mah Wii Sports.


Below: Mini Golf is totally a legitimate sport.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

About that title...

The title of this blog is a reference to the song "Less Teeth & More Tits" by Lunachicks, off the album Luxury Problem (1999). The chorus goes:
Am I smiling enough? Am I smiling too much?
Am I tucked in and buckled, do my tits touch?
Hi, how are you? How high are you?
Less teeth and more tits
It's never enough
You'll never be good enough
So a simple reversal gives me the title "More Teeth." I should note, however, that the reciprocal is not necessarily "Less Tits." Lots of teeth, lots of tits - it's all good.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Festive Cupcakes

I've always loved cupcakes, so I'm happy that they're so hip now. It means cupcake bakeries cropping up all over. Before today I hadn't made cupcakes in ages, so I was mostly on the eating end of the craze. But today I baked cupcakes. This is not going to be a cupcake or cooking blog (I recommend Cupcakes Take the Cake for that), but this post is going to be a play-by-play of my epicurean endeavor.

For the cake, I used this recipe for Love Potion Cupcakes. I used margarine instead of butter, and didn't add the chocolate chunks. Here's the batter:

The recipe said to put a frozen raspberry into each cupcake after pouring the batter into each cup. I tried a couple of other techniques as well - pouring the batter over the raspberry (Fig. 1), and pouring batter in, then placing the raspberry, and covering it up (Fig. 2):
Fig. 1 Fig. 2

End of phase one:

...and clean up for phase two!

I watched Law & Order while the cupcakes baked and cooled:

I wanted to decorate them to look like fireworks. I think they look kind of like Spider-man webs, but whatever. They're red, white, and blue, so that must count for something. This sequence shows the process:

This one looks more like fireworks:

Here's how they all came out!

Eating the cupcake:

They were good! I'm rather proud of how they came out. The texture of the cake is more turgid than I'm used to. The raspberry inside is a nice touch. I don't know if it will be as good when it's not still warm. Should be fine. The frosting is where the cupcake loses points. I didn't trust myself to make my own frosting; I worried I wouldn't be able to get a good consistency. But next time I'll have to give it a go.

That wraps it up!

(Yes, I ate two. :-P )