Winter’s Bone

I’ve gotten on a movie kick recently, which started off with a visit to a local theater that shows independent movies, Landmark Bethesda Row. The very first movie I saw there was Winter’s Bone, and let me tell you, it is amazing. I had read a lot of hype about it beforehand – Jennifer Lawrence, the main actress (from Tennessee!) gives a “watchful, precise, and quietly heroic performance,” and the film is “close to flawless,” the “American film of the year.“, etc, etc, etc. Even so, I tried to keep  my expectations down. I’d heard a lot of hype about Let the Right One In, too, and turns out I thought that was just a weird Swedish vampire movie with all the excitement sucked out of it (lol, pun).

But Winter’s Bone did not let me down. I found it pitch-perfect. Everything about it was amazing. The acting was fantastic, the story was real and made sense, and it had a ring of authenticity to it that really resonated with me. I caught myself thinking “I’ve been in that house,” or “I’ve met those people.” Let me be clear, I have not actually been in a meth dealer’s house, but the look and feel and sound of the people and environment of the poor South rang true to me.

The movie also made me evaluate my privilege. It happens sometimes that I bump into people who’s worlds are so much smaller than mine, and it’s always disconcerting. Ree, the main character in the movie for example – going to college is probably not even something she imagines as an option. The best she hopes for is to provide for her family in such a way that they don’t go hungry and don’t become homeless. Her dreams are not particularly relevant, and “career goals” is not a phrase she’s likely spent much time on. And having a healthy family life, making a legal living, would be miles above what most of the people she knows have, and so is a goal to strive for, rather than something to take for granted. And by some quirk of fate I’ve landed in a place where my options have always seemed limitless. Going to college was not a question – of course I would go. I want to get a Master’s degree, so I put off getting a job in my career field to pursue more education. If I want to be a lawyer, I can go to law school. If I want to be a doctor, I can go to med school. Same for psychiatrist, pharmacist, politician, engineer, accountant, physicist – all of these careers were (and are) mine to choose from. I’m aware that I have disadvantages that work against me, but compared to Ree, they’re laughably small. And that’s a valuable piece of perspective.

But I don’t think it’s enough to watch Winter’s Bone and think “Wow, I’m so lucky I was born in Nashville and not in the Ozarks!” and then forget about it. Working to make it so that the Ree’s of the world can have a big, boundless world like ours is the only acceptable course of action once you’ve realized that her world is limited through no fault of her own, and yours is limitless for reasons you can’t take full credit for.

You can watch it to provoke thoughts on class and gender, or you can watch it cause it’s a great suspense thriller, it doesn’t matter. The point is – watch it!

Here’s a link to the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bE_X2pDRXyY

And a link to the official site, where you can find out where it’s playing near you: http://www.wintersbonemovie.com/

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Obama Visits AU

Last week Obama came and gave a speech on immigration policy on campus. He spoke in our brand-new School of International Service building, which was pretty cool. The speech itself didn’t disrupt campus life too much. They closed the SIS building at 5 the day before, and all staff and faculty with offices in that building got the day off with pay (nice!). They also closed off the quad in front of the building and the library.

The closed area of the quad, complete with officers.

I didn’t see any snipers, but two of my co-workers said they did! On my way back from my errand, the police were closing off more of the quad, and they were really freaking me out because they were being so polite. They were like pleading with us, “Please go through this building. Please step off to this side.” It was like they were trying to soothe us because they thought we’d explode into a rage at any minute! But I guess that’s preferable than how the G20 protesters got treated, so in the end, I win!

Stuff I like from the internet.

I have found a lot of things I want to buy recently. Unfortunately, I am not yet super-rich, and so I am reduced to the internet equivalent of window shopping. Let me share some of the stuff with you!

These adorable toys are part of Poketo’s FriendsWithYou series. They have bells inside them and wobble. I want the long one that looks like a worm!

Also from Poketo are these adorable candles. They come in a matchbook, and they last for five minutes. A set of four matchbooks is only $6 – pretty good, right?

And again from Poketo – these awesome capsule notes. They come with a strip of paper that you write on, then roll up and insert into the capsule. Then you put the capsule into the syringe and deliver it. Cute!

And from White Rabbit Press, these toy animals that transform into their Japanese characters. I love them!

And the last one, also from White Rabbit Press, a take-off of the Great Wave off Kanagawa woodcut by Hokusai, but this time with bunnies!

These things cheer me up, and I hope they cheer you up too.

What’s that deer doing there?

While driving to work the other day I glanced out of the passenger-side window and saw this:

I grabbed my camera and snapped a quick shot before having to proceed through the traffic circle. It was really weird to see a deer in such an urban area!

Soccer in the Circle

I haven’t been posting recently – sorry about that! I’ve been busy with work at my temporary job (which I just learned on Friday will not turn full-time, as the Dean denied the request for funding), and not been feeling so great. But I’m back on my feet, and ready to resume posting more regularly!

This last Saturday I went to watch the US v. England match of the World Cup in Dupont Circle. The event was organized by the same people that organized a snowball fight during the Snowpocalypse, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ll come up with next!

Lots of people watching the game!

They had to raise $20,000 for permits and expenses, and with donations from some businesses and individuals they were able to put two giant screens on the circle.

A view of one of the two screens.

A couple thousand people (in my estimation) watched the US/England match with me and my friends. It was really cool to see so many Americans caring about soccer, if only for 90 minutes!

American flag waving above the crowd. The USA!USA! chanting was fun!

I met up with some friends and friends-of-friends at the circle, and we had a good time watching the game. The only downside was, it was HOT! And I hate being hot.

Pals on the circle, trying not to melt in the heat.

So it was a good time, but unless the US is in the final (and probably even then!), I’ll pass on another outdoor viewing experience.

Round House!

The other day while driving through my neighborhood I found the most delightful house. It’s painted yellow, and it’s totally round! It is so adorable! When I went to get ice cream with a couple friends from Centro Maria I insisted that we take a detour to see the house on foot so I could take a great picture to share with you. You’re welcome, world!

Chinese New Year 2010

I went to the Lunar New Year Celebration in Chinatown yesterday, along with friends Michelle and Florangel. We got there too late to see the parade, but we saw a bunch of dragon dances and the smoke from a five-foot tall tower of fireworks!

The Friendship Arch, with tons of people gathered for the festival.

There was a group of women drumming away, providing the music for the dragons to dance.

This long dragon was trying to eat a round thing on a stick.

Eventually a red dragon hopped onto the stage, and the people on the stage began feeding it envelopes of something – maybe money?

The dragon eating an envelope.

Next, the people on stage filed through the crowd to the area with the fireworks. I’m assuming they then lit them, but there were so many people (and the fireworks weren’t on a stage, just the ground) that hardly anyone could see what was going on. I saw plenty of smoke, though, and heard plenty of bangs and pops, so I assume everything went off correctly.

Lots of smoke!

Next came the most exciting part for me. The dragons retreated through the crowd, and did one final dance. I was able to maneuver  my way right in front of them, and got some really good shots! Hooray! Close to the action at last!

Dragons - so close!

At one point, I think one of the dragons spit out a whole bunch of black cats, which popped like crazy on the ground and terrified a little girl in front of me. Pretty exciting.A

After the dragon’s last dance was over, the crowd began to disperse. It was fun, and I’m really glad I went! Please check out my Flickr page for more (and more artistic) photos of the event.

Clean-up has already begun.