Tuesday, February 24, 2009

April 25, 2009

I’m going to shamelessly use my post this week to promote an event that is near and dear to my heart. Almost two years ago I found my way to the INVISIBLE CHILDREN website and have been following this organization ever since.

In the spring of 2003, three young filmmakers traveled to Africa in search of a story. What started out as a film making adventure transformed into much more when these boys from Southern California discovered a tragedy that disgusted and inspired them, a tragedy where children are both the weapons and the victims.

After returning to the States, they created the documentary "Invisible Children: Rough Cut," a film that exposes the tragic realities of northern Uganda’s night commuters and child soldiers. The film was originally shown to friends and family, but has now been seen by millions of people. The overwhelming response has been, "How can I help?" To answer this question, the non-profit Invisible Children, Inc. was created, giving compassionate individuals an effective way to respond to the situation.

Here’s the latest from the Invisible Children blog:

"Our new film, ‘The Rescue: of Joseph Kony’s Child Soldiers’ is now streaming on our brand new website! This powerful new piece of media profiles rebel leader Joseph Kony and the untold story of child soldiers under his reign. It speaks of the urgency to end the war and rescue the child soldiers.

Check it out, and sign up to receive updates, and start spreading the word about The Rescue Event on April 25th. Since the website’s launch a few days ago, over 5000 people have already signed up for The Rescue. When you sign up, you choose the city you will be at on April 25th, and you’ll receive updates about your specific city. With over 100 cities worldwide hosting the Event, you’ll be sure to find a city in your area.

When you click the ’sign up’ button on the main page, you’ll be directed to the three ways you can take action. You can buy the Gray Rescue Bracelet DVD, the two Rescue tshirts, and sign up for TRI to help fund the event.

We’re really excited about The Rescue, but we need your help. We’ve got 60 days to make history, so watch the film and sign up today."

So take a minute or two and visit the site, sign up for updates, and partner with a generation as we come together in cities across the world on April 25th to raise awareness and hopefully end this war.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

2nd Annual Oscar Picks

The Academy Awards are tomorrow! As you know, I absolutely love the Oscars. It's like a holiday or something! Naturally I've once again made my selections for who I think will walk away with the gold, so read on for my picks in all 24 of the award categories. And take note, because I am never wrong.*

Best Picture:Slumdog Millionaire” has been sweeping nearly every awards show this season, and it has so much momentum I really don’t see any other movie swooping in and stealing the spotlight.

Best Director: So many times Best Director and Best Picture just go hand in hand. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but it’s a pretty solid bet. This year is no exception, as Danny Boyle will undoubtedly win for “Slumdog.”

Best Actor: Sean Penn is a possible upset, but this is most assuredly Mickey Rourke’s year. Hollywood loves a comeback (just look at Robert Downey Jr.’s supporting actor nod for “Tropic Thunder”), and Rourke has had himself a stellar one.

Best Actress: Finally, finally finally. Finally my very favorite actress will win her first Oscar, after previously being nominated an astounding five times (and now the youngest actor to receive six nominations). I will be most distraught if Meryl Streep takes home the award instead, and I think it could possibly happen, but my money is still on Kate Winslet.

Supporting Actor:
This is the most locked category, and has been for months. The only question that remains is who will be accepting Heath Ledger’s Oscar on his behalf. Probably his “Dark Knight” director Christopher Nolan, who has picked up several awards for Ledger already this season.

Supporting Actress: I am having such a hard time calling this category. Ever since they pulled Kate’s performance in “The Reader” and named her a Best Actress nominee instead, I have been lost. So I’ll be doing this by process of elimination. I think Marisa Tomei would have won if she didn’t take home the Oscar so unexpectedly back in 1993; the voters won’t be inclined to honor her again, especially when so many consider her first award undeserved. I’m not sure Viola Davis has a powerful enough performance to catch the Academy’s attention. Taraji P. Henson was great in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” but it’s not enough to take the category. That leaves me with Amy Adams and Penelope Cruz, and I’m mostly certain it will be one of them. But I have to say a name, so I’m going with Penelope Cruz.

Animated Feature: It was enough of an issue that “Wall-E” wasn’t nominated in the Best Picture category, so you can be sure it will walk (roll?) away with this award.

Art Direction: I’d love it if “The Dark Knight” won, but I think “Benjamin Button” has it in the bag.

Cinematography: So… it’s either “Slumdog,” “Dark Knight,” or “Benjamin Button.” Can I just leave it at that? No? Hmm… I guess then I’ll stick with my Best Picture winner and officially pick “Slumdog Millionaire.”

Costume Design: I love love loved the costumes in “Australia.” In my dream world, “Australia” would win. But the Academy loves them some corsets, so I’ll go with “The Duchess.”

Editing: I must confess I am probably not the best person to recognize when a film has particularly good editing. I’m inclined to think “The Dark Knight” might get some love here, but when all else fails, stick with the Best Picture: “Slumdog” it is.

Makeup:Benjamin Button.” No question.

Original Score: When a movie’s music is getting almost as much attention as the film itself, you know you have a winner, so again I’m picking “Slumdog Millionaire.”

Original Song: Did you see the closing credits of “Slumdog?” Jai Ho is most definitely a safe bet here.

Original Screenplay: It’d be great to see “Wall-E” get some love here, but I think “Milk” will win this one.

Adapted Screenplay: I’m really torn between “Slumdog” and “Doubt” in this category, and wouldn’t be surprised if either of them won it. But once again I’m using my strategy of picking the Best Picture winner, so I’ll say “Slumdog Millionaire” again.

Sound Mixing: I…have no idea. How about “The Dark Knight?” I remember lots of…sounds….in that movie. Done.

Sound Editing: And those sounds were edited so well, too. Let’s keep it in the sound family: “The Dark Knight.”

Visual Effects: Have you seen what they did to Brad Pitt? “Benjamin Button,” fo sho.

Documentary Feature: I have not stopped hearing about “Man on a Wire” all season, so I’ll be shocked if anything else wins here.

Documentary Short: I stumbled across the title “The Witness: From the Balcony of Room 306” several times when looking up tomorrow’s Oscar nominees, so I’ll go ahead and pick it to win this category.

Foreign Language Film: I listened to a really interesting story about France’s “The Class” on NPR today. Now in addition to thinking it might have a shot at winning tomorrow night, I actually want to see it now! In my heart, though, I think they’ll be awarding “Waltz with Bashir.”
Animated Short: How could anybody not love “Presto?”

Live-Action Short:
I have absolutely no idea here. How about “Spielzugland (Toyland)?”

*Except for all the time.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I know, I've taken a dreadfully long while to post. Mom flew in last Wednesday evening and I've spent all of the big holidays trekking around the area like sight-seers.

We had a great time shopping, hiking, eating (woo hoo!), and playing speed scrabble. If you are not currently addicted to the game, I can guarantee that it's only a matter of time. The most entertaining sight of the entire weekend? I'm going to go with the 20 unicyclists we passed on our hike Saturday morning. I always thought the fools on bicycles were crazy, but we for sure gave these guys the right of way. I'm now choosing to let photographs finish off the rest of this post for me.

Trying to beat the timer...

A fairly uneventful intersection.

I don't know which portion of the photograph is my favorite. Perhaps the metallic cacti?

Giant boot. Big spur. Small mom. The end.

What is with Arizona and the joy of brand new dead things?

Thanks again for coming Mom! Much love...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Sometimes at work I laugh at things that no one else finds funny and I realize everyone is just shaking their heads at the crazy girl, so I just put my head down on my desk and sigh. And laugh a little more.

My office area is typically freezing. As in “sit on your hands so you can start feeling them again” cold. I have friends in another section of the building where it is typically uncomfortably warm. As in “What is this, Arizona?” hot. There is nowhere that seems to be a happy medium. We’re expecting the three bears back any day now….

My friend Stephanie totally thinks I work for Dunder-Mifflin. Reasons: a nearly all day health insurance talk, office olympics, a mouse loose (mouse...bat... close enough!) in our hallways, Lake Day, staff Christmas party…. And probably a lot more.

I don't have an actual office with a door that closes. I'm not in a cubicle, though, I'm in the middle of our marketing department suite. So does this mean I don't have an office? Or does it mean I have the BIGGEST office.... Just something to think about.

Because of the location of my desk, a lot of people think that I am the marketing receptionist, and therefore must know where all of my co-workers are at all times. As cute as Pam Beasley is, I am not her. I am not my colleagues' keeper.

About ten minutes of my commute to work involves driving down a little tiny two-lane country road. There are lots of trees, lakes, and trailers that line this lovely little lane (alliteration...WIN!). I have also seen plenty of deer crossing the road in the morning (crazy cool), as well as animals who didn't quite make it all the way across (plenty of possums, raccoons, and unidentified furry objects). In addition, I see PLENTY of freakishly slow drivers, but that's another entry for another day....

I had a terrifically awful headache today. And it’s been coming back in waves tonight. I think the seven dwarves must be up there mining for diamonds in my brain.

One of these days I will send a copy of one of these emails about cleaning out the breakroom fridge (or a picture of the PICTURE on the fridge of some of the gross food) to Passive-Aggressive Notes. Keep an eye out.

I roll my eyes a lot, and unfortunately this includes while at work. With my eyes closed, while walking down the hall, even while remembering something that happened earlier in the day-- though hopefully not where anyone can see me.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Get out of the car.

I really don't enjoy being in a situation where I do not know a majority of the company present. When I first moved to Arizona I was forced to do this on a weekly basis. I was constantly forcing myself to get out of the car and walk into my own personal version of torture. Ok, maybe torture is too strong. So how about a different metaphor. It was like going to the dentist. That's it. Slightly painful and not overly enjoyable until the very last few minutes.

The thing is that in these situations, I know that I will be fine... eventually. I’m just really good at arguing with myself. Often the discussion goes a little something like this:

Ginger: You need to get out of the car and go into this Bible Study.
Ginger: But I don’t know anyone in there..
Ginger: That’s WHY you are going. So you can make some friends.
Ginger: But I have friends.
Ginger: Um, it doesn’t count if they are 18 hours away.
Ginger: I know, but what if these people...

Ginger: Stop making excuses.
Ginger: You know, I’m probably at the wrong place. I don’t see many cars. I should just go.
Ginger: Ok!! I’m going! Gosh! (Yes, I say gosh.)

I’m getting pretty good at getting out of the car. So good, that I’m picking up quite a few new things this year. 2009 has officially become my break-out-of-my-introverted-shell-for-good year. Because really, I’m not a turtle, so I’m ditching the shell already. I’ve joined a small group, spoken for a college ministry, run a 5K with my running group, put together some Ikea furniture, and even tasted sushi for the first time. 2009 has been big and we’re really only a few weeks in.

But this Wednesday night I’m about to push my limits again. Somehow I’ve agreed to attend a Hip Hop dance class. I’ve gone to dance classes before, but the last one was in college and I was a theatre major…so come on, dance was a given. But me being graceful or remotely capable of HIP HOP?? Dancing is not my spiritual gift. I’m great at car dancing, but learning a routine in a room full of tiny, blonde, coordinated women? Dear Lord.

Help me get out of the car.

I will let you know how it goes. Maybe I will sneak in my camera.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

And there's Marla Hooch. What a hitter!

If you don’t like to read about movies, then I am really really sorry about my half of this blog. I’m sure it must get old, but I just love film. I am in a movie club that watches movies every Sunday, I follow all award season news like crazy, and my DVD collection continues to climb well into the 200’s. It’s just part of who I am! I feel like I need to explain this to you, because I plan now to periodically visit some of my favorite movies and try to express to you why I find them so fascinating. I don’t know if I’d exactly call it a review (maybe a retrospective?), but read on for a few of my thoughts on the 1992 film “A League of Their Own.”

A League of Their Own” is truly the brainchild and labor of love of director Penny Marshall. It was Penny who upon learning about the history of the All-American Professional Girls Baseball League, questioned “Why hasn’t anyone made a movie about this?” and enlisted writing partners Marc "Babaloo" Mandel and Lowell Ganz to draft a feature film script featuring this forgotten bit of America’s past.

The story is structured first and foremost around the creation of the AAGPBL, commissioned to carry on the tradition of baseball in America while the male players were serving overseas in World War II. Most of this league history is covered (though partially fictionalized) in a faux news reel used to bridge the two past and present storylines. Director Penny Marshall’s older brother Gary plays Walter Harvey, the “Candy Bar King,” modeled after real life Chicago Cubs franchise owner Phillip Wrigley, who helps get the league started.

Enter the second most important storyline, the two sisters. Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) provides the bookends for the movie. We meet her first as an older lady in the present day (1992) preparing to attend what we will later learn is a reunion of all the former AAGPBL players. Five minutes after the movie starts, we fade into Dottie’s memory and find her and her sister Kit Keller (Lori Petty) playing small town softball in 1943 Willamette, Oregon. It’s not exactly the big times, but Dottie still finds a way to beat Kit out for the winning run and become the hero of the game. This lays the groundwork for the relationship of the sisters throughout the rest of the movie; Kit feels overshadowed by older sister and baseball star Dottie, and though Dottie cares for Kit, she can never seem to understand why Kit feels so threatened by her. They will spend the rest of the movie grappling with their relationship.

Finally we have the third component of the story, the Rockford Peaches. The Peaches provide us with an interesting and compelling cast of characters, including Madonna’s promiscuous Mae and her best friend Doris (Rosie O’Donnell). Their coach is the incomparable Tom Hanks, perfect in the role of baseball wash-up Jimmy Dugan, whose loathing of the idea of women’s baseball (“Girls are what you sleep with after the game! Not what you coach during the game!”) gradually melts away to genuine affection and admiration.

I truly feel like I’m a fan of the girls, always rooting for the team and its members, as we follow them from tryouts, through games with dismal attendance, and finally to the World Series. I love the realities of the team, with some forced to bring their children along, much to the chagrin of their teammates (“Evelyn! I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to KILL! Your son!”), many of them constantly fighting and antagonizing one another, but in the end always a team.

Perhaps the most hilarious character in the movie is Ernie Capadino, played to perfection by Jon Lovitz. Capadino is the scout that originally discovers Dottie and Kit, and persuades them to come try out for the league. In the process, he spouts off endless one-liners (“Hey cowgirls, see the grass? Don't eat it.”) that make for a truly memorable appearance, especially from someone who’s only in the first 20 minutes of the movie. If the role seems tailor-made for him, that’s because it absolutely was! This was the first time writers Mandel and Ganz ever wrote a role specifically for an actor, but they said they couldn’t see anyone else as Mr. Capadino. Though it’s hard to pick, I think my personal favorite Ernie Capadino line is delivered to Marla Hooch, who’s reluctant to leave the platform and actually get on board the train: “Are you coming? See, how it works is, the train moves, not the station.”

I pretty much actively loathe the original theatrical trailer for “A League of Their Own.” It feels like someone who’d never even watched the movie stitched it together, with the dopey organ music and the tragically awful song that seems to make a mockery of the actual league. It tells you nothing of the story or anything about the movie, just the simple novelty of girls playing baseball. But I’ve embedded it below for your viewing “pleasure.”

A League Of Their Own (Theatrical Trailer)
Uploaded by NakedBrotha2007

Perhaps a better clip to show you would be Siskel and Ebert’s original “Two Thumbs Up!” review of the movie, that also includes a lot of great clips I think you’ll really enjoy seeing:

The movie concludes back in the present day of 1992, reuniting the girls for the opening of the AAGPBL Hall of Fame. This leads to a reunion of not only our Rockford Peaches, but of sisters Dottie and Kit. I can't watch the last ten minutes of the movie with dry eyes. I just can't do it.

I can’t tell you exactly why I love this movie. I just know that I can watch it every single day and never get tired of it. I find it simultaneously hilarious, heartwarming, and enlightening. I love the tryouts montage, the swing dancing scene, the bus trips, the music, and Dottie's reunion with husband Bill Pullman. I love knowing that there were once scores of women who played baseball in dresses and did it because they had a passion for it. I love escaping to 1943 to spend a few hours with Dottie, Kit, Jimmy, and all of the Rockford Peaches.