Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Soup Of The Day

mmm... lunchtime...


i hate not feeling well, i always think staying home for a day will be nice and restful, but mostly it just feels weird and uncomfortable. You just want your body to work right again. Stupid nose that won't stop running! I will say that if you watch Morning Joe on MSNBC with a slight fever? It starts to make a whole lot more sense. Today they were outside the White House and it was like negative 10 degrees outside and it almost killed them all. It really raised the stakes throughout the telecast. Joe Scarborough reminds me of a character Fred Willard would play in a Christopher Guest movie. And I like that nice lady who sits next to him. I can never remember her name, but I know her Dad used to work in the White House and she's got lots of dimension to her.

I'm gonna go take a shower and make a list of things I can get done from my couch that will make me feel like my day is slightly productive as their are now slightly less than 10 hours til the presidential address tonight. i also need to see how the Presidential Address is gonna affect Biggest Loser and American Idol. Crucial stuff... now where are my tissues...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

If I Were A Betting Man: Oscars 2009

Here are my pics for wins at tonight's Oscars. Let's see how well I do. The hardest one for me to pick was Best Actor, which I eventually gave to Sean Penn. But that's a tough race between him and Mickey Rourke. Also best supporting actress is a crap shoot. Tomei has surprised in this category before and Henson seems to have a lot of momentum, but I'm still going with Cruz.

Best Picture: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Director: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Best Actor: Sean Penn, Milk
Best Actress: Kate Winslet, The Reader
Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Christina Barcelona
Best Animated Feature Film: WALL-E
Best Foreign Film: Waltz With Bashir
Best Original Screenplay: Milk
Best Adapted Screenplay: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Documentary Feature: Man on Wire
Best Original Score: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Original Song: WALL-E "Down to Earth"
Best Film Editing: The Dark Knight
Best Documentary-Short: The Witness
Best Cinematography: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Costume Design: The Duchess
Best Sound Mixing: The Dark Knight
Best Sound Editing: The Dark Knight
Best Live Action Short Film: Spielzugland
Best Animated Short Film: Presto
Best Makeup: Benjamin Button
Best Art Direction: Benjamin Button
Best Visual Effects: Iron Man

Debating Dollhouse

Joss Whedon's new show Dollhouse premiered last week. You know, I love Joss Whedon. I love Eliza Dushku. I love Amy Acker. I love Tahmoh Penikett. I didn't really like Dollhouse. If it was not a Mutant Enemy production, I would not have watched it again. But sometimes Joss needs time to get the REAL story of a show going, so it pays to hang in there for a while. This week's episode was much better than the pilot, but there are still a few problems that seem like inherent design flaws that will hold the show back. Despite liking the creative team involved here, I don't see how the premise can sustain itself over a series.
Let's have wikipedia and TWOP do most of the heavy lifting in explaining what's going on: In Dollhouse, Dusku plays a young woman called Echo, a member of a group of people known as "Actives" or "Dolls." The Dolls have had their personalities wiped clean so they can be imprinted with any number of new personas, including memory, muscle memory, skills, and language, for different assignments (referred to as engagements). The new persona is not an original creation, however, but an amalgam of different, existing personalities. The end result incorporates some of the flaws, not just the strengths, of the people used as templates. The Actives are then hired out for particular jobs -- crimes, fantasies, and the occasional good deed. On engagements, Actives are monitored internally (and remotely) by Handlers. In between tasks, they are mind-wiped into a child-like state and live in a futuristic housing unit/laboratory nicknamed "The Dollhouse." Although the Actives are ostensibly volunteers, the operation is highly illegal and under constant threat from Paul Ballard, a determined federal agent who, for unknown reasons to the audience, wants to be like Mulder and risk his reputation as an FBI to prove the Dollhouse is more than just an urban legend. The truth is out there, Helo!
But the main focus of the story is Echo, who over time, seems to be retaining bits of her wiped personas. Beyond Dushku's doll, we also have met the people who run the mysterious Dollhouse, and a rogue Doll, named Alpha, who had what they call a "composite event," which means he was able to hang onto a real (and as it would seem, psychotically violent) personality, and went slasher flick on the facility, killing a bunch of staffers and his fellow Dolls. He left Echo alive for unexplained reasons, but continues engaging her from outside the facility.
So that's the story! Confused? Intrigued? Here's my problem with it. The people running Dollhouse aren't likable characters. They mostly run around bickering with each other about how to stay a secret organization. They are not fun. Fran Krantz as the guy who imprints and mind-wipes the dolls is almost unbelievably a creepy jerkwad. My distaste for this character is extreme. If we don't like the Dollhouse staff, we won't root for them or want to know more about them. It's like a show about the combined staffs of the Initiative and Wolfram & Hart! Where are the white hats? That leaves us wanting Echo to break free of her mind-wiped restraints and for Agent Ballard to expose the Dollhouse. And how long exactly is that going to take? Thirteen episodes, max? Where does the show go after that? Why, as a viewer, should I want the Dollhouse to exist? I don't really get it. But I'm willing to spend a few more weeks with Joss and the cast trying to explain it to me. Grr... Argh...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Letters To The President: Wrong on Rights

As written to the President via whitehouse.gov

Dear Mr. President.

I am extremely disappointed to learn that you are continuing the Bush-era policy wherein detainees at Bagram Airfield cannot use U.S. courts to challenge their detention. It amounts to the U.S. military holding people without charges, repeatedly interrogating them without any means to contact an attorney. We cannot create prisons outside the law. I have a lot of faith in you and your administration to create change, but this is very discouraging. These kinds of policies hurt our standing in the world. I strongly encourage you to reject Former President Bush's plociies. I hope you reconsider your position.

Respectfull Yours.
Owen Panettieri

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Shea Has Gone Away

Also saying good-bye to us today is Shea Stadium, which has now been completely taken down. The area on which it once stood will now be paved over for the parking lot for [Failing-Bank-Saved-By-Tax-Payer-Dollars]Field. I hadn't been to Shea in a long long time, but it will be a missed landmark that I always passed travelling from my apartment in Astoria to my family out in Suffolk County. I liked it's style. Reminded me of the 80's. Bye Bye, Shea Stadium. You'll live in my heart. No matter what they say.

Conan! Come back, Conan!

Oh, Conan. Can it be true? You are actually leaving NYC? I know that it's been 5 years in the making, but I still don't think I'm ready for this. I renember when my friend Brigie was so pleased that your little show got renewed by NBC, for like 3 weeks in your early days. Where has the time all gone to? Right now, it feels like an old friend is giving up the Broadway Dream and heading out of town forever! Don't give up on The City, Conan! Sure, you are taking over the Tonight Show, but NBC is still kinda shafting you with the Leno deal. I will miss you and your 12:35am ridiculousness. I hope LA doesn't change or tan you too much. You know you don't have the skin for it. Check vigilantly for abnormal moles.

I can't quite see what your version of The Tonight Show will look like. Will you still leap and hiss at the camera? One hopes. I will check you out and throw you some support. Just remember, it seems it never rains in Southern California. But Conan, don't they warn ya. It pours, Man, it pours.

While I wait for your premiere this Spring, I will enjoy this one final invisible string dance off with Stephen Colbert.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sexy Veggies

Fox News has HAD IT with PETA and their sexy lesbians in Texas. It's amazing to me how much Megyn Kelly hates what PETA is doing. Perhaps she protests too much? Judge for yourselves.

Remembering Comic Con

Things have been super busy since Comic Con, so much so that I didn't have the time to upload my pictures and make witty comments. Comic Con was fun, huge, and a little intimidating. I love being a bit of a geek and a nerd, but I realize after my trip to Comic Con that I'm ONLY A BIT of a geek and a nerd, There are many many levels of knowledge about the makers of Science Fiction and Fantasy that I have not attained. Aside from all the toys and comics and costumes available for purchase, there were tons of writers and artists there featuring their work, and the people walking around seemed to actually know who these artists were! I did not. But I still had a good time. I was also just amazed by the multitudes of people there. The Javits Center is a big place and I couldn't believe how difficult it was to walk around. Everyone seemed to be having a good time though. I was happy to find myself in front of the Square Enix booth a lot, but they didn't have a wide range of character figures to buy. I would have bought something if you'd brought more, Square Enix! I was also a bit sad to look at the Catalog for June '09 and see that Square STILL won't release a Riku figure from Kingdom Hearts 2. He's my favorite. There's a $130 version they finally released, so maybe by year's end I'll get my normal priced toy. Please, Square Enix? Let there be a Christmas Miracle.

So Pictures:

Welcome to Comic Con!

So Many People!

Even MORE people!

Luckily The Hulk is killing people who are in my way and clearing a path for me.

Look! It's... Bizarro He-Man...?

Harry Potter dolls a'plenty! Even Crookshanks!

The Edward doll bears an uncanny resemblance to Alex Timbers.

Unfortunate wardrobe choices.



Saturday, February 14, 2009

In Dreams: Part II

In addition to the dream with my mom, I had this totally hilarious dream Thursday night that I have to try to capture in words because it was so much fun.

It started out that I was at the doctor getting a yearly physical. This is not the fun part. The doctor's office was in the lay out of the Blockbuster Video I used to work at on Long Island. While they were running tests on me. I saw my co-worker from the office, Kim, working in the back. She was in a lab coat and working in the pill depository, measuring out medications. She seemed very very calm and focused. "Kim?" I asked, "You work here?" "Yes," she she serenely replied, "This is where I work on the weekends."

I turn around and I see another co-worker, my Suki, standing by the reception desk. "Owen!" she calls to me excitedly, "Come on! It's time to get out of here!' So I follow her out of the office and we start walking down the street and we're in this very hilly neighborhood with these beautiful giant houses. "Omigod I love these houses!" Suki enthuses, "This is exactly where I want to live some day!" We stop in front of a particularly nice house with a big stone staircase leading up to the house. "Let's go inside!" Suki cheers. "We can't," I protest. "Someone lives there." "They're on vacation!" Suki says, and up the stone stairs she runs, with me right behind her.

The inside of the house is very nice. Very colorful, like it's all out of a Crate and Barrel catalog (which knowing my brain, it probably was!) and we're exploring this living room on the second floor, when suddenly a car pulls into the driveway out front. "They're home!" Suki shrieks. "I thought you said they were on vacation!" I demand. "They came home two weeks early," Suki explains as if that makes total sense, "Quick! Hide!" So i go crouch under this desk and Suki goes and stands next to this grandfather clock at the top of the stairs and we're both totally visible still, but this is us "hiding" Suki looks at me with this grimace and shrugs her shoulders as if to say "i don't think this is gonna work, but it's the best I can do! Maybe we'll get lucky and they won't notice that we're literally just standing in their living room?"

The couple comes up the stairs and they miraculously don't see Suki. (I don't recognize the couple.) The wife had stuff in her hands and she walks through the living room into the kitchen. The husband lingers in the living room. Suki is freaking out. I am freaking out. Then I notice that we had moved their answering machine. I know that if he sees the answering machine slightly off , he'll know that someone was in the house and we'll be discovered. So i try to quietly get up to fix it, but the husband sees me. He's so shocked that he doesn't say anything, but falls down on the rug. He's having a heart attack. Suki runs over (big smile on her face) and drags the guy into a bathroom, so the wife won't see him lying on the floor. Suki literally picks him up over her shoulder to haul him away. When she picks him up, I notice he has a big pee stain on his pants too, so we managed to really scare this guy and possibly kill him. Awesome.

After Suki dumps him in the bathroom we both try to fix the answering machine. It has this part that's like a pop-up lid on a cd player, and we pushed it down and we can't get it to open up again. We know if the wife comes in and sees it messed up, she'll know we were there. No matter what we do, we can't fix it so we decide to just make a break for it. We run down the stairs, out the front door, down the stone steps and then book it down the street. We are both laughing the whole time. We get about 4 houses away and I hear the wife shout from down the street, "Owen! I saw the answering machine! I know you were in the house! You have to come back here right now and help my husband!" Suki and I hide behind a car parked in someone's driveway and agree that we are just gonna hide there until the wife gives up and goes away. We laugh and laugh, because it was such a close call. Then I wake up.

Thinking about it now, I am still laughing at how ridiculous and fun it was, even with that guy sorta maybe dying. I keep seeing Suki in my head standing by the grandfather clock making that face at me, knowing the situation was bad but holding on to hope that MAYBE we could pull it off, through the power of positive thinking. So silly. Too fun.

In Dreams: Part I

Friday marked the 11th anniversary of when my Mom passed away. Yup, back then it was also a Friday the 13th. Over the past eleven years, I have traditionally not slept well in the first weeks of February as if my mind and body know the anniversary is coming and decide to revisit the psychological weight of the trauma. . For the first few years after her passing, my mom always showed up in my dreams at her sickest state. Obviously, this was very upsetting as it's not how I wish to remember her. Then after a few years, the action in the dreams changed so that my mom would be dead, come back to life, and then die again, which became very confusing when I would wake up. I've dreamt that scenario so often it's hard to believe that didn't actually happen at some indefinable time in my past. Only in the last few years has it been that my mom can show up in my dreams and it doesn't have to be something majorly emotional.

This year I didn't have bad dreams in February. This year they all came in January! I don't know what that was about. It had a lot more to do with me, and not so much about mom. Luckily, by the time February rolled around it seemed my subconscious was all nightmared out. Thursday night, on the eve of the anniversary, i actually had a bunch of really fun dreams, one of which featured my mom. I was a much younger version of myself and she was sitting in an arm chair, my head was in her lap and she was reading me bedtime stories. I half-woke up in the middle of the night and I remember saying out-loud, "no, more stories... i want more stories" and i tried to go back to the dream. I can't recall if I got back to it though.

When I woke up later that morning, I remembered the dream. And then I remembered the date. And I was very thankful to have had a such a tender dream moment with my mother. I hope I get more of those in the coming years. She is never far from my thoughts. I miss her. We deserve to have lots good times together in Dreamland.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Letters to the President: Post Prime Time Press Conference Edition

As submitted to whitehouse.gov (where there is a limit on how many characters you can type.)

Dear Mr. President,

Congratulations on your first prime time press conference! You were great. All weekend I've looked forward to hearing what you had to say. The partisan rhetoric in Congress over the stimulus package has been distressing. I appreciate your perspective. You voice thoughtful responses to complex questions, and I think, "How did we GET you?" I mean, I know. We voted. But we've voted before, and we never got YOU. Be well, Mr. President. I'lll write again soon!

Warmest Regards,

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Aussie Open: You've Got Me Feelin' Emotions

Today (which I guess is technically tomorrow for the Aussies) Rafa Nadal won his first Australian Open Title over Roger Federer 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-2. Vamos Rafa!!

The match was over 4 hours long and very intense. I saw about the final two hours of it live. Luckily I was able to see match point around 8am EST before I had to run off to my race in Central Park. It was a great match... until the 5th set, where for no real reason, Fed kinda gave up. I mean, "gave up" is too harsh. He certainly didn't want to lose, but after 4 hours of playing, it seemed like Fed suddenly didn't believe he would win. It's often said that the 5th set comes down to heart, and Rafa is all heart. For some reason Rafa has Federer's number. Evidence? Fed's record against non-Rafa opponents in Grand Slam Finals? 11-0. His record against Rafa in Slam Finals? 2-5. Rafa is 3-0 in the last three slam final meetings and has a13-6 edge on Federer in career meetings. It was clearly on Fed's mind as he lost serve twice in the final set.

So I went off to the race content in the knowledge that Rafa had won and that I could watch the speeches on DVR when I got back. What I was not expecting, upon return to my apartment was that Federer was totally distraught during the Trophy Presentation. He was crying! He couldn't address the crowd. The crowd went crazy for him, trying to will him into composure by showering him with cheers of love. He couldn't do it. He went back to compose himself while Rafa got his trophy which led to this awkward moment.

I felt so bad for him! Federer is a classy guy and I DO believe when all is said and done that he will get the 15 championships he wants so much. He'll have many more chances. Rafa can't win every major for the next 5 years! And Fed can beat anyone else on the planet. So it will happen. Don't worry too much, Fed!

A lovely moment at the end was when Rafa, seeing how broken up Fed was, reached around and hugged him around the neck. It seemed to snap Fed out of his emotional state and gave him the opportunity to step back up and say some gracious closing remarks. Best of luck for the season, Roger!

I love my Rafa. Champion on Clay, Grass and now Hardcourt. And on the tennis court of my heart. Rest well, young man. You've got a long season ahead of you. I'll be watching!

Trapped In The Closet

Part of my New Year's Resolution was to go through each room in my apartment and get rid of the stuff i don't need or use anymore. Organization in '09, baby! This has been a fun ongoing project. Great progress has been made in the Living Room and the Kitchen. The dresser drawers were a challenge. But the biggest obstacle was my closet. There were too many articles of clothing I never wore or that no longer fit or that I hated taking up too much space. I had no idea what was being stored on the shelves. A giant bin of comics was taking up space where shoes should be. So bit by bit i purged the old clothes to make room for new ones. Got nerd-style boxes for the comics i felt like saving, moved the shoes back, and restocked the shelves. I am now ready to reveal the beauty of my new closet to the world. Behold the splendor!!