Boo to the Brothers Bowl
Published on January 20, 2013 by Sara Foss

You know what I don't want to hear another word about?

The Harbaugh brothers squaring off in the Super Bowl.

Ray Lewis' swan song.

The 49ers.

The Ravens.

It's going to be a long two weeks.

Musings on "In the Realm of the Senses"
Published on January 20, 2013 by Sara Foss

The provocative Japanese director Nagisa Oshima died last week at 80.

I've watched several of his films over the past couple years, and I've been amazed by how daring, subversive, violent and explicitly sexual they are. His most notorious film is "In the Realm of the Senses," from 1976, which is based on the bizarre true story of Sada Abe, a Japanese woman who erotically asphyxiated her lover, and then cut off his penis. But his lesser known films are also pretty intense. I watched Oshima's 1967 film "Sing A Song of Sex," in which a group of disaffected teenage schoolboys drink, talk constantly about sex and fantasize about raping a girl from their classes. What distinguishes the film is its no-holds-barred attack on Japanese politics and society, eye-popping visual style and relentless and intellectually stimulating cynicism.

Over at Slate Dana Stevens has written an appreciation of "In the Realm of the Senses" that captures the film's unique power. She describes it as a fusion of art and pornography, which seems pretty accurate, although pornography is mainly intended to turn people on, and "In the Realm of the Senses" made me feel sort of sick and dirty. (But it's a great film, really!)

Anyway, click here to read Stevens' piece.

NFL Conference Championship Picks
Published on January 17, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I make my NFL Conference Championship Picks.

Click here to read them.

How To Tell if Your Friend's Girlfriend Is Not Real
Published on January 17, 2013 by Sara Foss

Gawker has a handy guide.

The Inspirational Fake Girlfriend
Published on January 17, 2013 by Sara Foss

This Deadspin story about Manti Te'o's inspirational fake girlfriend is excellent.

When Your GPS Leads You Astray
Published on January 15, 2013 by Sara Foss

My parents got me a GPS for Christmas, which made me really mad. I've never wanted a GPS, and I distrust technology. But I've since warmed up to the idea. I get lost from time to time, and a GPS would probably make my life easier.

However, a recent news report about a woman who drove 900 miles in the wrong direction due to a GPS error suggests that maybe I was on to something. This story has a great lede, too: "Put too much faith in technology and you may wind up in Croatia." The horror! Anyway, there's a lesson here: Pay attention, and look at a map every once in a while.

Watching "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Django Unchained'
Published on January 15, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about this Oscar season's two big controversial films, "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Django Unchained."

Here's an excerpt:

"Oscar nominations came out last week, and I decided to just go ahead and get the two most controversial nominees out of the way. And boy am I glad I did! 'Zero Dark Thirty' and 'Django Unchained' are both terrific, thought-provoking films that raise interesting and disturbing questions, are incredibly well-crafted and well-acted and approach their stories with creativity and intelligence.

'Zero Dark Thirty' tells the story of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, and I’ll say up front that unless a film is a documentary, I expect the events depicted on screen to deviate from what really happened. So I approached ZDK as a work of fiction, based on a true story. I mentioned this because the film is under fire for its depiction of torture; critics say that director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal wrongly suggest that the torture of detainees played a key role in helping nab Osama in Laden, while others have defended the film, saying it actually suggests that torture was not the most effective tool for tracking the elusive terrorist leader. I mostly fall into the latter camp, and feel that the debate over whether Bigelow and Boal are endorsing torture distracts from some of the more interesting themes and issues contained within 'Zero Dark Thirty.'"

Click here to read the whole thing.

My Favorite Kid's Books
Published on January 14, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about some of my favorite kid's books. The list includes Roald Dahl's "The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More" and Stephen King's "The Eyes of the Dragon."

Click here to read it.

Running For a Flu Shot
Published on January 13, 2013 by Sara Foss

In my column at the DG, I write about how I finally decided to get a flu shot.

Here's an excerpt:

"My flu shot record is sporadic.

Sometimes I get one, and sometimes I don’t.

This lackadaisical attitude can probably be explained by the fact that I’ve never had the flu. And the fact that when I’m not sick I find it difficult to imagine being sick. The flu has been picking off colleagues left and right, but I rarely get sick, which gives me a feeling of invincibility. My thinking goes something like this: 'I don’t need a flu shot, because I feel great!'

I didn’t always think his way.

When I was a kid, I got sick frequently, coming down with colds and more serious ailments, such as pneumonia and bronchitis, every winter. Unhealthiness was the norm rather than the exception, and unless I was very, very ill, I went off to school and about my business as if nothing was wrong. Who knows how many kids I infected?

But that was a long time ago, and on days like today, when I’m healthy and functional, I find it difficult to remember what it’s like to be really sick. I can remember that I was sick, but not how it felt. In fact, sometimes when I’m feeling tired and in need of a change of pace, I find myself wishing I would come down with something. Not something super serious (like the flu).

However, the ominous news reports about this year’s flu outbreak have officially freaked me out.

Clearly, this was not the year to skip getting a flu shot.
When The Gazette made flu shots available last fall, I should have gotten one. Or I should have thought to make an appointment at my clinic and gotten one there. But I did neither of these things. And now I want a flu shot."

Click here to read the whole thing.

Recent Viewing: Films
Published on January 13, 2013 by Sara Foss

Azur and Asmar: The Princes' Quest (2006) ***1/2

Silver Linings Playbook (2012) ***1/2

The Beaches of Agnes (2008) ***1/2

Black Death (2011) ***


NFL Divisional Playoff Picks
Published on January 10, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I make my NFL divisional playoff picks.

Click here to read them.

Watching "Silver Linings Playbook"
Published on January 8, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I review the new David O. Russell movie, "Silver Linings Playbook."

Here's an excerpt:

“'Silver Linings Playbook' is a movie that rings true, even when it’s absolutely absurd. This is a movie that gets the details right, while involving its characters in ridiculous plot twists straight out of a classic screwball comedy. It’s one of those rare movies that manages to be both contrived and utterly genuine. There’s a reason that my friend Hanna’s brother, who has bipolar disorder, called it the best depiction of bipolar disorder that he had ever seen on film.

'Silver Linings Playbook' tells the story of Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper), who has spent the past eight months in a mental health facility after nearly beating his wife’s lover to death. Pat has bipolar disorder, but he refuses to take his medication, saying it makes him foggy; during the film’s opening scenes, we see him spitting a pill onto the floor of the hospital. I think this was when the movie won me over, because I’ve had numerous conversations with mentally ill friends about why they do not want to take their medication.

Pat’s return home does not go smoothly: Despite the restraining order against him, he is determined to get in touch with his wife and show her that he’s changed, and he wakes up his parents, played by Robert De Niro, in his best role in years, and Jacki Weaver, in the middle of the night to rant about Ernest Hemingway. (Pat is deeply disappointed by the ending of A Farewell to Arms.') After visiting the school where he used to work, the local beat cop lets Pat know that he’s got his eye on him."

Click here to read more.

Favorite Albums of 2012
Published on January 7, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about some of my favorite albums of 2012, such as the Alabama Shakes' "Boys & Girls," and Dr. John's "Locked Down."

Click here to read the whole thing.

Miracles Every Day
Published on January 7, 2013 by Sara Foss

In her column Greenpoint over at the DG, my colleague Margaret Hartley writes the miracles that are all around us, every day.

Here's an excerpt:

"I’m thinking of Walt Whitman’s 'Miracles,' the poem where he talks about walking and watching and taking notice of everything around him: a cityscape or a stranger, the shore or the forests.

“Or watch honey-bees busy around the hives of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles. . .”

It’s easy to overlook these miracles. We are busy, modern humans, living complicated lives that take a lot of energy — physical and fossil-fuel driven — to run. Sometimes we are just too busy to step outside, even for a minute, to take a deep breath and open our eyes.

To me, there are lots of reasons that taking notice is so important. It is reinvigorating and renewing. And it is real."

Click here to read the whole thing.


Don't Root for Notre Dame
Published on January 7, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at The Nation, Dave Zirin explains why we shouldn't root for Notre Dame.

I don't normally pay much attention to the sordid world of college football, but I will be rooting for Alabama.

Roll tide!

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