Super Bowl Pick
Published on January 31, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I make my Super Bowl pick.

Click here to read it.

Winter Concert Preview
Published on January 29, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I list some of the concerts I'm looking forward to this winter.

Click here to read it.

Revisiting "Dodgeball"
Published on January 28, 2013 by Sara Foss

The 2004 film "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story" is one of my favorite comedies, and I decided to revisit it after Lance Armstrong confessed to doping in an interview with Oprah.

Armstrong, as fans of the film no doubt recall, has a small but pivotal cameo in the film: Peter LeFleur has just taken a bribe from rival gym owner White Goodman and abandoned his dodgeball team, who are getting ready to compete in the championship. He's sitting at a bar when Armstrong introduces himself, and says he's a big fan of LeFleur's dodgeball team; Fleur says he's quitting dodgeball. Here's how the rest of the conversation goes:

Armstrong: Quit? You know, once I was thinking about quitting when I was diagnosed with brain, lung and testicular cancer, all at the same time. But with the love and support of my friends and family, I got back on the bike and I won the Tour de France five times in a row. But I'm sure you have a good reason to quit. So what are you dying from that's keeping you from the finals?

Peter LeFleur: Right now it feels a little bit like... shame.

Armstrong: Well, I guess if a person never quit when the going got tough, they wouldn't have anything to regret for the rest of their life. But good luck to you Peter. I'm sure this decision won't haunt you forever. 

This exchange is just as hilarious as I remembered. Lance is very funny, and the fact that he's since been exposed as a liar and a cheat doesn't detract from the scene one bit, though it may add a layer or two of subtext. In fact, Lance's participation in this movie actually makes me like him a little bit better. He might have been stripped of his Tour titles, but he'll always have this great scene in "Dodgeball" to be proud of and show his kids.

The rest of the movie also holds up pretty well. After we watched it, my dad proclaimed it "one of the best movies about sports ever," which sounds hyperbolic, but might actually be true. Those scenes where Rip Torn flings wrenches at the dodgeball team and screams, "If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball!" never stop being funny.

Is Football Over?
Published on January 28, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I wrestle with my feelings about football.

Basically, I enjoy watching it, but I'm becoming more alarmed by the research suggesting it causes an array of health problems, such as CTE, later in life.

Here's an excerpt:

For Christmas, I received two New England Patriots-themed gifts: a winter hat with the team’s logo on it and a hooded sweatshirt just like the one coach Bill Belichik wears on the sidelines, minus the cut-off sleeves.

The sweatshirt is nice and warm and I wear it at home. I wear the hat when I ski and go for walks, and hope people don’t throw rocks at me or yell nasty things. Up until last weekend, when the Patriots were summarily embarrassed on their home turf and sent packing, I was proud to wear this hat. Now I feel a little silly when I put it on.

The Patriots’ loss marked the end of the NFL season for me. Yes, I’m bitter. And I hate the Baltimore Ravens.

But there’s more to it. I’ve become increasingly troubled by football and what we’re learning about the game’s impact on players. I’ve enjoyed watching games this season, but as the season has progressed, I’ve also felt increasingly guilty.

My guilt peaked early last week when researchers at UCLA reported that signs of the crippling degenerative disease known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, had been identified in living ex-NFL players for the first time. Using brain scanning technology, the researchers detected the presence of an abnormal protein associated with CTE, which is linked to dementia, memory loss and depression, and is triggered by repeated head trauma, such as concussions.

Click here to read the whole thing.

Recent Viewing: Films
Published on January 28, 2013 by Sara Foss

Holy Motors (2012) ***1/2

The Impossible (2012) **

Enter the Void (2009) **1/2

I Capture the Castle (2003) ***1/2

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964) ***

New Prince
Published on January 24, 2013 by Sara Foss

Musical Traditions
Published on January 24, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about listening to U2's "The Unforgettable Fire" in honor of Martin Luther King.

Here's an excerpt:

"There are songs for all sorts of big events — birthdays, weddings, funerals.

But I like to find songs for other types of occasions, such as election day. On election day, I pull out my copy of The Replacements song 'Election Day,' and play it before I go vote. The song reflects a far more apathetic attitude toward elections than my own, what with lyrics such as 'I don’t care who gets elected/til I find me one to love,' but listening to it has become something of an annual tradition.

This week I pulled out my copy of U2’s 'The Unforgettable Fire' in honor of Martin Luther King. This 1984 album contains two songs about King: 'Pride (In the Name of Love)' and 'MLK.' 'Pride' compares King to Jesus, and describes his assassination: 'Early morning, April 4/Shot rings out in the Memphis sky/Free at last, they took your life/They could not take your life' before shifting into the song’s catchy refrain. 'MLK,' the final song on the album, is a haunting elegy disguised as a lullaby: 'Sleep tonight/And may your dreams/Be realized.'"

Click here to read the whole thing.

Are Cats Evil?
Published on January 23, 2013 by Sara Foss

I love my cats.

However, this piece over at Slate makes a good case for not owning cats.

Of course, my cats are spayed and neutered, and they stay indoors all of the time. So I don't think they're hurting anybody, or very likely to kill any endangered birds any time soon.

How I Feel About Frank Ocean
Published on January 23, 2013 by Sara Foss

This piece over at the A.V. Club sums up how I feel about Frank Ocean pretty well.

Watching "The Impossible" and "Holy Motors"
Published on January 22, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I review the new movies "The Impossible" and "Holy Motors."

Here's an excerpt:

"I’ve always had a soft spot for disaster movies. Take the 1997 movie 'Volcano.' This dumb and schlocky film managed to keep me pinned to my seat simply by filling the streets of L.A. with lava, and depicting terrified citizens attempting to stay out of harm’s way. The 1996 film 'Twister' offered similar thrills. So I was looking forward to 'The Impossible,' about the devastating tsunami of 2004. If nothing else, I figured the film would offer a terrifying glimpse of one of the worst natural disasters of all time.

And it does. 'The Impossible' is impeccably crafted, features fine performances and tells a suspenseful, gripping tale. But I found the whole experience of watching it deeply unsettling, and as the film progressed, I found it increasingly offensive. I knew going in to 'The Impossible' that the film focuses on an upper class family vacationing in Thailand, and their efforts to find each other after the tsunami destroys their resort. And I understood that this might be problematic — that by telling the story of the tsunami through the eyes of rich white people, 'The Impossible' would give short shrift to the storm’s real victims. However, I thought it would be possible to overcome my reservations and simply enjoy the film. But I was wrong."

Click here to read the whole thing.

No Guns For Me, Part II
Published on January 21, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the American Prospect, Paul Waldman does a pretty good job of articulating some of my basic feelings on guns.

I don't mind the Second Amendment as much as he does, but I agree with his overall take on the gun issue - that those of us who choose not to own guns have some rights, too, and that living in a country where every social interaction necessitates entering a room full of armed citizens is not something we want to do.

I like Waldman's post because I think we need non-gun owners to stand up and explain why they don't own guns, and why they don't want to. I feel like I've really made an effort to understand why people own guns, and be respectful of this part of American culture, and that I'd like to see gun owners make a similar effort to understand people who don't want to be around guns. Maybe they believe they've done this. But I'm not completely convinced. I do know this: We're constantly being bombarded with the message that gun owners consider owning a gun an intrinsic part of their identity. Well, not owning a gun is an intrinsic part of my identity. It's not like I've never had the opportunity to own one, or think about owning one. As a matter of fact, I've thought deeply about guns. And I'm not a gun person. And that's not going to change.

You can find my previous thoughts on guns here and here.

Banning the Bottle
Published on January 21, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, my colleague Margaret Hartley writes about the need to reduce the consumption of bottled water in her weekly column Greenpoint.

Here's an excerpt: 

"In Concord, Mass., the new year brought with it a new law: a ban on single-serve bottled water.

The town, the first in the nation to issue any ban on bottled water sales, voted in the new law last April with the aim of reducing waste and the amount of fossil fuels used to make the plastic bottles and ship the water.

In Burlington, Vt., a similar ban went into effect this month at the University of Vermont, where the sale of bottled water is now officially banned on campus.

UVM announced its plan year ago, with the university’s Office of Sustainability saying the push came from students who worried about the waste, the environmental costs of producing and transporting bottles and the privatization of a natural resource like water by multinational corporations.

Over the past year, UVM has retrofitted its drinking fountains to make it easier to fill reusable water bottles that students can carry with them.

Adding and promoting “hydration stations” has become popular on college campuses. When my daughter and I were touring campuses last year, we were often shown water filling stations and told how the schools encourage their students to carry their own refillable water bottles with them to reduce waste and to take advantage of the fresh, clean water the U.S. has in such abundance. Even campuses that don’t ban water sales have removed bottled water from their vending machines.

Whether an outright ban or simply offering alternatives is the best way to go, reducing the use of bottled water — especially single-serve bottles — certainly makes sense."

Click here to read more.

Calling Names
Published on January 21, 2013 by Sara Foss

I'm not big on name calling, but I do make exceptions, some of which I describe in my column this week at the DG.

Here's an excerpt:

"I’m not a big fan of name-calling, at least in a public forum.

My opposition stems not so much from the fact that it’s rude, but a belief that it’s bad strategy. When you call someone a wingnut or a fascist or some other derisive name, they are going to be less inclined to listen to you and more inclined to call you names, leading to a vicious cycle of name-calling. You see this all the time in the media or on the Internet — incensed people, screaming past each other.

I’m not sure how to solve this problem, but the least I can do is not participate in it.

However, I’m only human and occasionally a situation arises where name-calling seems not only appropriate, but imperative.

Like the emergence, last week, of the so-called Sandy Hook 'truthers.'

Perhaps you’ve heard of them — the people who think the Sandy Hook shooting was an elaborate hoax engineered by the media, government and a large cast of duplicitous actors, as part of a strategy to drum up support for gun control.

One of the truthers’ main targets is Gene Rosen, the Newtown man who took in six scared schoolchildren on the morning of the shooting and is now receiving phone calls and emails accusing him of lying and asking him how much money he is being paid.

The Sandy Hook truthers get my blood boiling.

They are insane. And stupid. And hurtful. And bad.

I see no need to listen to them, or try to understand them or learn about their crazy conspiracy theory. I’m sorry, but these aren’t people you can have a meaningful dialogue with and I don’t want to nod politely while some unhinged lunatic explains how the deaths and funerals of 20 first-graders and six adults were faked. The only thing I want to do when it comes to the Sandy Hook truthers is call them names. In fact, I can’t think of enough names to call them."

Click here to read more.


The Patriots Blow It
Published on January 21, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I offer some thoughts on the Patriots loss to the Ravens.

Click here to read them.

Recent Viewing: Films
Published on January 21, 2013 by Sara Foss

Zero Dark Thirty (2012) ****

9 Souls (2003) ***

Consuming Spirits (2012) ***1/2

Django Unchained (2012) ***1/2

The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl (1993) ***1/2

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