The Kids Are All Right: A Review Monday, Aug 30 2010 

Over the weekend, PJ and I watched Lisa Cholodenko‘s The Kids Are All Right. We were particularly excited to see this movie, since it’s getting a lot of Oscar buzz, but also because it’s been rather controversial. I read one review, for example, in which the reviewer walked out halfway through the movie because she was so angered by its depiction of lesbian sexuality.

Here’s the trailer:

The movie stars Annette Bening as Nic and Julianne Moore as Jules, two lesbians who have raised two children together. Nic is a doctor and is somewhat stressed out and consumed by her job. Trained as an architect, Jules seems to float from one thing to the next professionally. At the start of the film she’s decided to begin a landscaping business.

More stress is added to their relationship when their oldest kid, Joni, played by Mia Wasikowska, decides to contact her sperm donor shortly after her eighteenth birthday. She doesn’t really care to meet him, but her younger brother, Laser, played by Josh Hutcherson, pushes her into it.

Mark Ruffalo plays Paul, the sperm donor. He’s thrilled to receive word that Joni wants to meet him. He’s a restaurateur, owns an organic local farm patch, and has a lot in common with Jules, as he’s also a bit feckless.

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Summer Hiatus Sunday, Aug 29 2010 

My blogging has really screeched to a halt this summer. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to write about or that I didn’t want to blog — I have lots of things I’ve wanted to post about. But this summer has been busier than I ever imagined it would be.

I’ve traveled more than I’ve ever traveled in a two month period (and that was after canceling one trip!). I’ve also been under a lot of pressure at work. While I love my job, I definitely feel a lot of stress from it. And I’ve had a lot of allergy problems this year, more than usual.

All of this has left me mentally exhausted. So much so that the thought of blogging has often been too much. I frequently think about blogging about something only to be too mentally tired to bother with it. So, for the past two months I’ve basically taken a hiatus from doing it.

But I really want to get back into writing. I find this blog is a useful way to remember what I thought about the movies I’ve seen, the music I’ve heard, the museums I’ve visited, etc. Even if no one else ever read it, it’s worth it just for that. It’s also a useful way for me to think through my work as dean and as a researcher and teacher.

So, I’m going to try my best to start writing again on a regular basis. I’ve got lots of things to blog about, so over the next few days I’ll catch up on whatever I can catch up on, and then I’ll start writing about new things. I’m hoping it will energize me a little. Maybe it will also be a good way to deal with the stress of my job. I’ve got a week left before our quarter starts. Let’s see what kind of blogging rhythm I can get into. Here goes ….

Wicked: A Review Sunday, Aug 1 2010 

Yesterday, PJ and I drove up to Columbus to see the matinĂ©e of Wicked, which is spending a month at the Ohio Theatre. My sister, my friend James and his partner, my parents, and just about everyone else I know has already seen it, so PJ and I thought that we’d avail ourselves of the opportunity to see the company in Columbus. I’m glad we did. Wicked isn’t the greatest musical I’ve ever seen, but it’s entertaining and a lot of fun! I definitely recommend it.

As I’m sure everyone knows, Wicked tells the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, i.e., the “real” story behind The Wizard of Oz. The show begins just after the announcement of the Witch’s death by water. The citizens of Oz soon recall the Glinda was rumored to have been friends with the Wicked Witch, so they want to know how that was possible. The rest of the show is told in flashback, as Glinda reveals what really happened between her, the Witch, and the Wizard.

What I like most about this re-telling is its emphasis on politics and the way in which propaganda shapes political reality. If you get people to believe whatever you tell them, then you can start telling them anything. In many ways, this production is an indictment of the Bush era and the creation of “truth” out of nothing more than lies that protect the administration in power. In this way, this musical is rather bold — I wonder how many of my fellow Midwesterners who saw it yesterday got this message too!

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