The Beguiled

What’s there to like?

The Beguiled is a dark, sometimes mysterious story. What drew me in was the detailed world of Civil War-era Southern manners and customs. The way they talked, the propriety of how men and women interact with each other, and so on. And most of all, the restraint. But all that wasn’t just a historical curiosity or part of the art direction–it really drove the plot forward. You’ve got this soldier (Colin Farrell), a representation of brutality and power, of masculine brutality and power, entering a secluded girl’s school (led by Nicole Kidman’s headmistress, Kirsten Dunst playing a teacher, and Elle Fanning as one of the students)–this bastion of only women. He’s injured and he needs their care. But the restraint and the polarization between masculine and feminine highlight the sexuality in the air. So you’ve got a blurring of the lines between danger and sexual attraction, at least from the point of view of all these women towards this unknown, scary soldier. Continue reading “The Beguiled”

The Big Sick

What’s there to like?

It’s been a little while–a few months at least–since I’ve seen a nice little indie comedy. In The Big Sick, Kamail Nanjiani plays a Pakistani man in Chicago who falls in love with an American woman played by Zoe Kazan. Cultural obstacles present themselves, and then a serious illness sends everything sideways. Continue reading “The Big Sick”

Recursing History

It occurs to me, my newly rediscovered (and still going strong!) interest in chess is the latest in a string of returns to activities I’d let lapse in recent years. Musical theater, bodybuilding, using a handgun, riding a motorcycle, actually considering the remote possibility of not necessarily returning to New York to live (I mean, maybe), are all things that remind me of my life before moving away from Utah. Or at least they could have flowed directly from those days without much influence from my decade-plus away.

I mean, it’s pretty weird. I’ve spent most of my grownup life extremely happy to be out of Utah, and I was kinda bummed to be heading back temporarily(?). So what’s the deal? Continue reading “Recursing History”

Minimum Wages and Lefty Science Denying

My default stance is to say only a small fraction of what I think when it comes to politics. There’s usually no way to come out ahead. But this is my blog, designed for me to write about what I want to write about. So eff it. Of course I’m really not altogether qualified to evaluate the research first-hand, but I’ve had enough economics training to talk out of my ass in a vaguely informed-sounding way.

The Seattle Minimum Wage Study has come out with an NBER working paper (meaning, as I understand it, the results are somewhat preliminary and peer review, among other things, has not been completed) analyzing the effects of the recent minimum wage hikes in Seattle. (Here’s a brief summary of the findings.)¬† Continue reading “Minimum Wages and Lefty Science Denying”

Dinner With Beatriz

What’s there to like?

To be honest, Dinner With Beatriz started a little slow for me. I wasn’t quite hooked in. Salma Hayek is more off-putting than appealing as a frumpy holistic healer. But then Jay Duplass and Chloe Sevigny (what a pair!) show up as a striving, hopeful, 1%-wannabe couple, and I knew I would enjoy this thing.

The story, centrally, is about a fish out of water. Wealthy people are having a dinner party to celebrate a business deal that will make them all a lot of money. Hayek’s Beatriz, comparatively much poorer, ends up attending the party because she gave a massage to the hostess earlier in the day and her car wouldn’t start. Continue reading “Dinner With Beatriz”

Nutritional Injustice!

As I read more and become more convinced of the insulin resistance model of why people get fat, I find myself becoming disappointed at what Gary Taubes (in Why We Get Fat)¬†calls the injustice of it all: for those more predisposed to get fat by eating carbohydrates (like I am), there’s probably no way of completely getting over it. It’ll probably always be the case that carbs will make me quite fat. Continue reading “Nutritional Injustice!”

Land Of Mine

What’s there to like?

I’ve been hoping to get to Land of Mine for a while now. It was nominated for the best foreign film academy award this year. I remember seeing previews for it at some point. (Must have been when I was still in New York?) But I’ve liked most of the several Danish movies I’ve seen, even though I’ve never seen any of the work of director Martin Zvandliet. So, put all that together, and I was happy to be able to see this one. Continue reading “Land Of Mine”

American Chess Players #gettingafterit

This probably isn’t news to anyone following chess in the last few years, but I’ve just come to realize that it’s a great time to be following the elite international chess circuit if you’re an American. There are three(!) Americans in the top ten rated grandmasters right now. I’m not enough of a chess historian to know whether that’s ever happened before, but I strongly suspect this is the first time.

There’s even a high level tournament going on right now in Norway. World champion Magnus Carlsen has been a little shaky. Rumor has it he’s got a new girlfriend or something. Whatever it is, he’s in ninth place out of ten as of today. American Hikaru Nakamura is currently in second place, just a half point out of first.

I know it’s totally dorky, but I’m enjoying the hell outta following this!

Pairing Boots with a (Leather) Kilt

The thing about acquiring a kilt–as I did on Sunday–is that along with it you get an entire set of new sartorial concerns. Kilts are normally worn with a sporran, special socks, garters, jacket, and ghillie brogues. Plus probably more than that, for all I know.

But since my kilt is the decidedly nontraditional leather, I’ve already taken it out of consideration for formal occasions, like, say Scottish Prom. So I’ve got a little more freedom in crafting the complete outfit as I see fit. Continue reading “Pairing Boots with a (Leather) Kilt”