Inside the Actors Studio Meme

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From Frog.

What is your favorite word?
Evervescent

What is your least favorite word?
Squirm, squish, pretty much anything with a squ sound

What turns you on?
Full mouths, the smell of that brown herbal conditioner, thunderstorms, Macy Gray's voice

What turns you off?
Feeling like I'm being scrutinized, having a full stomach

What sound or noise do you love?
Someone else's breathing while they sleep, real laughter, prayer or incantations

What sound or noise do you hate?
Vacuum cleaners

What is your favorite curse word?
Ass

What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?

Midwife, personal shopper

What profession would you not like to participate in?
Beautician

If heaven exists, what would you like God to say to you when you arrive at the pearly gates?
Hey there darlin', come see some folks who have missed you...

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Patriot

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It is not uncommon, in the circles in which I travel, to hear someone say that s/he is going to emigrate to Canada (or Sweden, or whatever, but it's usually Canada) if Bush is re-elected (or if a constitutional amendment against gay marriage is passed, or if abortion is outlawed, etc.).

Well, I'm not going. Not because I don't think things might not be more pleasant elsewhere--they certainly might be. Not even because I don't believe the sky is really falling right now, I think we're just in a trough and things will get better again, even if we have to endure four more years of Shrub first. Because this is my country and goddammit they are not going to chase me out!

The way I figure it, I am a descendant of three types of people. The first are the people who owned this land before there was such a thing as owning land and who had it stolen from them. The second are people who were chased out of other places due to their religious beliefs, economic circumstances, etc. and landed here to try to make something for themselves, often at the expense of others, for centuries. The third are people who were abducted from their countries of origin and brought here to be enslaved. All of these folks have more right to this land than any imperialist power or any government built on greed, and I, as their descendant, have a responsibility to stand on this soil and fight for this country for as long as I possibly can.

I am not so naive as to believe that this country is the best place in the world. It may well be, but having not traveled outside it, that's not for me to say. Best or worst, though, it's mine and I plan to defend it. Yes, I could go to Scotland or to The Netherlands and find reminants of my history there, long-dead ancestors who stayed in their motherlands. But those are not the ancestors to whom I would pray, were I to pray to ancestors. Rather, I would pray to the Dutch immigrants in Missouri, stealing mules to feed themselves until they could move west. I would pray to the stubbornly Catholic Scots who landed in Pennsylvania and waited for the real winter to begin. More than anything, maybe, I would pray to the long-lost "digger" Indians of the Pacific Northwest. People who hundreds of years ago built their lives in the same valleys I dream about more and more the longer I am away from them. These are my ancestors, and they were violently chased out of their homes by bigots and imperialists, the intellectual, if not literal, ancestors of our current regime. I owe it to them to resist being chased out of mine.

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Things to do before you die

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According to this, I have done 5/10 Things to do in Portland before you die and 2/10 Things to do in Austin before you die. Not terrible, but not great, for cities I have lived in.

For cities I have visited, I'm a measly 1/10 Things to do in New York before you die and 1/10 Things to do in Cleveland before you die.

Even though I have been to the cities, I haven't done anything on the list for San Francisco, Baltimore, Boston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, or Philadelphia.

Guess I'd better get on it.

**To check out your city, go here.

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Miami Slice

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Why do you watch those shows? An answer for my critics.

I'll admit it--I love plastic surgery shows. Not that horrifying fictional one, but the real-life ones they have on the Discovery Health channel and stuff. I am enamored with surgery in general, and I am especially amused/horrified/conflicted about surgery for the sake of vanity. Plus the people crack my shit up. So I was mildly excited to see advertisements for the upcoming Miami Slice. Trailing five Miami plastic surgeons through their professional and personal lives for six episodes? What could be a guiltier pleasure?

Well, it is unmitigated awful. I really, really want to believe it's fiction, because the idea that these are real people is simply too disturbing for words. Not one of the plastic surgeons (all men, by the way) seems to have any identifiably good characteristics (except that one of them has a super-cute dog). Every single woman on the show, including one doc's 76 year-old mom, has fake boobs and an over-tightened face. The show is very big into Miami!. All the stars play in Miami!. If you live in Miami!, you have to have a tight face and big fake breasts (and lipo'd ass and an eye tuck and...). Everyone wears a bikini and listens to Latin music in Miami!. And on and on. It goes beyond enough to make you barf and moves right into enough to make you writhe on the ground in spasms of laughter and pain and humiliation at sharing a species with these people.

So why do I keep watching it? Well, for one thing they show some surgery, although it's not in as much detail as the much better programs on Discovery Health (to be fair, they did have an extensive liposuction scene last night). But it's something beyond that, something...sadistic? I find it oddly comforting that by the standards of these folks, I am not only obese, I am also too old, my nose is too long, my chin is too strong, etc. The fact that they have invented a standard for "beauty" that can be met only through invasive surgical means makes me feel all the more satiated about being middle-of-the-road, kinda-cute, a bit chunky, and 100% real. The more plastic breasts and plastic asses and ab implants and Botoxed faces I see waltz across my screen, the more in love I am with my cellulite, my glasses, my breasts that are going to sag, my unplucked eyebrows and belly roll. I don't know if that's a normal reaction, but it's the reaction I have. And that's why I watch these shows--they make me feel like shit about humanity, sometimes, but they also make me feel beautiful. And because I know their business is the opposite, I feel like I'm pulling one over on them.

None of this is to say that my reasons are unobjectionable. I mean, I've written many a rant against reality TV chastising people for this same thing--using the misfortunes of others to make themselves feel better/smarter/sexier/fill-in-your-needed-attribute-here. And I know that's exactly what I am doing. It's a habit I'd really prefer not to have. But at the same time, I feel like I am seeing something here that other people aren't. Watching a rhinoplasty performed makes me really, really happy with my nose. And that's a good thing, right?

All those plastic people
Got their plastic surgery
But we got a big, big beautiful
And we got it for free

-Ani, "Imperfectly"

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Art, once in awhile (Hero review)

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I am often critical of present day films, music, and especially literature. It is not often that I will experience two pieces of art in one weekend that take my breathe away. This weekend, I did. The first was The Time Traveler's Wife, which is quite simply the best book I've read in at least a couple of years, the second was Hero, a Chinese film I went to last night to placate Mark and ended up enraptured with. I feel blessed by both of these experiences.

Hero

I mostly watch movies for storyline, acting, dialogue. I rarely pay attention to scores, I'm not much for cinematography, etc. I guess I'm just more a verbal than a visual person. But this movies strengths are visual, and they are strong enough that even an imbecile like me can't miss them.

The story is simple--a warrior, played by Jet Li of all people, stands before the king explaining how he has come to defeat the king's three most deadly assassins. A series of flashbacks ensue, from different perspectives. The same story is told three times, or at least parts of it are told three times, and each section has a different color (the first is red, the second green, the third white). The color is easily the most remarkable part of the film. It saturates the scenes, encases the viewer. Watching it is an almost hypnotic experience, in which you don't just register the color on the screen is red, but you feel red, taste red, smell red.

I am not a fan of martial arts movies. Even the much-ballyhooed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon didn't do all that much for me. Sure, it was cool when they flew around and stuff, but one scene started looking an awful lot like the next, I thought. That being said, the use of color, light, sound, film speed tricks, etc. in Hero's fight scenes turned them from martial arts cinema to art. I felt less that I was watching a movie and more than I was watching paintings move across a screen. Visually, the only movie I can even think to compare it to is Frida, and it made Frida look like it was shot in pastels.

So go see this movie. It doesn't matter if you don't like martial arts movies (I don't), it doesn't matter if you don't like subtitles. Just sit in your seat, listen to the awe-inspiring score, and drink it in. If you are anything like me, you will come out of the theater noticing the variation of the green grass and the green trees, the amazing blueness of the sky's blue, and the crispness of image all around you. Not only is it a beautiful film, it's a film that makes you realize the beauty in everything else. What more could you possibly ask for?

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