Friday, January 13, 2006


I would like to point out that I am in Evanston and it is snowing.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Cameron's Top 10 Movies of 2005

Now, I must say a few things before I go ahead and list my favorite movies of the year. I haven't gotten around to Mrs. Henderson Presents or Crash, which I hear is fantastic; The New World hasn't yet been released here; and The Best of Youth left theaters without telling me. So I'm not considering these films, all of which have gotten lots of critical acclaim and which I'm sure I would probably like. I doubt they'd edge out any of these Top 10, but you never know.

These are not the "best" movies as judged by cinematic artistry. However, they are also not simply my favorites, as judged by how many times I'd be willing to watch them over and over again (that's how I judge my Top 100 Movies of All Time list, and this is not that). This list is a delicate balance of both of these qualities. If you have questions as to why the hell things something is on here, please don't hesitate to ask.

And so, without further ado:

Cameron's Top 10 Movies of 2005

1. Brokeback Mountain
2. Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
3. Match Point
4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
5. The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill
6. Capote
7. Goodnight, and Good Luck
8. Howl’s Moving Castle
9. Batman Begins
10. Munich

and a few runners up...

1. The Aristocrats: SO almost made it, I went back and forth and back and forth between Munich and The Aristocrats for #10. In the end, I figured I should give it to the film with the Important Message as opposed to the film with the amazingly dirty joke.
2. Mad Hot Ballroom: Such a great, adorable movie, but not quite Top 10 material.
3. The 40-Year-Old Virgin: I laughed harder at this movie than I've laughed at any movie in a long time (this was before I saw The Aristocrats, mind you), so it was in serious consideration, but how can you put a movie with a very long scene about Steve Carrell's chest hair in your Top 10?
4. Walk The Line: I liked it a lot, and I thought Reese Witherspoon was amazing, but it had a few key downfalls that prevented it from placing. Ha, placing. Like I'm some big important film critic.
5. Confusions of a Wasted Youth: I was sooooo tempted to put this in there, because it would really irk Tim, but I figured I should keep it to theater releases. And sorry, everybody, the CRC Screening Room does not count as a theater.
6. The Family Stone: Great movie, but a couple plot holes kept it humble.

I thought 2005 was an admirably strong movie year, despite all of Hollywood's moaning and groaning about how they didn't make much money. Perhaps, Hollywood, this is because you are starting to make better movies, and the American People are such idiots that they can't recognize them for what they are. Perhaps you (Hollywood) ought to continue to make good movies, and then the Stupid American People will realize what is going on and start going to them anyway. Perhaps I am dreaming. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

As to the theory that the first movie you see of the year dictates how that year turns out: last year the first film I saw was Ray, which was sort of too long and overall meh, and my year turned out pretty good. This year it was Match Point, which of course is third on the list. So hopefully it's a true theory, and this year will be SO GODDAMN FANTASTIC that in the future I will subscribe to said theory as a sort of religion. This, however, remains to be seen.

Onward, with 2006.

glory days


Wild elation does it no justice. I haven't been this happy since... well, since New Year's, but that was a different kind of happy.

This is the first time we've won in like 6 months (well, we sort of won once before, but it was on a really lame night when like no one was there), first time we've won with The Brain Trust (Larkin, Alex, Jig, and I), first time in FOREVER that we've gotten the California City Unscramble question (Orange Vale... dad you should be proud of me, I have your genes), first time WE WERE SO INCREDIBLY AWESOME. Towards the end we started calling people to double and triple check answers so we didn't lose our lead, because really, with the advent of cell phones cheating is rampant and practically encouraged. Not even the music round could bring us down. A whole $30 to split between the five of us (Alex and Jig's friend Julia was there too). Hopefully I'll have a photo up in a day or so of all of us.

The best part was that it was Jig's last trivia night before he goes back to Tulane and is gone until July. Won't quite be the same without him, but I'm sure he'll be only a phone call away for those football and military questions that no one else in the entire bar knows.

And so we pocket our $6 each and depart in the rain, full of hugs and New Castle and pretty damn cocky, if I do say so myself.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

this is the sort of thing that i probably don't have to say, but

I hate cancer. The number of people I've known recently who have had cancer, whether they died or not, is insane, and I wish it would stop killing all these people who mean so much to me and so much to the people I love.

My kitty Pogo has cancer and is slowly, slowly dwindling, but hanging in there, and she's such a good girl and it just kills me to watch her deal with the fact that she can't do all the things she used to.

Natalie and Alec's father, Ken, had Hodgkin's lymphoma, had a stem cell transplant, got Hodgkin's lymphoma again, had another stem cell transplant, and is now in critical condition with a case of pneumonia and failing kidneys and being air-ambulanced back to Evanston to be with his family. From afar, it sounds like things don't look good, and they've already been through so much that for the end to look so bleak is just eating away at my heart. I don't know what the case will be when I go to Evanston next weekend.

Jack's dad died of leukemia last June.

Zach's dad Laury, who we go to Camp with, had colon cancer a few years ago and while he doesn't anymore, his health has never been good since and it's all very scary.

Uncle Owen had prostate cancer, but thank goodness it's gone now.

Rachel's dad learned he had stomach cancer two summers ago and died within four months.

Tim fought and won a battle with testicular cancer, which took a big chunk out of his young life when all things should be about having fun. Happy ending ultimately, though.

Mrs. Burness died of pancreatic cancer on Thanksgiving.

Erica Rosenthal's dad died of cancer last summer, I'm not sure what kind.

Kate's dad had prostate cancer and come to think of it, I don't know how he's doing. I'm assuming he's ok, because I probably would have heard something if he wasn't.

JP Riley had testicular cancer but it sounds like he's doing ok.

Josh Elder had brain cancer but is fine now, which I suppose is another happy ending.

It's just so awful that there's pretty much nothing to be done about any of this, and one by one these amazing people are dying before their time. And in the end, there's nothing I can do about it. I can be a friend all I want, bring them cookies and give them hugs, but it doesn't really do anything. And if there's one thing I hate, it's being useless.

all the Whos down in Whoville, the tall and the small

Big Sur from Napenthe

There are some weeks when I go about the world thinking that all I want is an apartment full of kittens, so that I'd have one for my pillow and lots for my blanket and I could take the best naps in the world, because naps are always better with kitties, or at least with someone else. This was one of those weeks. Everyone was grumpy to be back at Pacific Primary. The kids had trouble leaving their parents, and the teachers were all a little mad that a week off is not as long as it sounds. Me, I missed my friends, missed the amazing New Year's I had, missed the cheerful thought that I had something to look forward to. There was nowhere I wanted to be less than licking envelopes in the Sunroom; patience was in short supply.

But sometimes little things happen that make it not so bad. "Watch me be a robot!" cries Joseph, and he dances about the room in a swirl of pipe cleaners and a fluttery flapping of paper dragon wings. Robots have never been so agile. He jumps over a chair and almost-but-not-quite trips, and Elliot, who is curled up in my lap missing her mom, giggles at him in spite of herself. "Excuse me," says James, his giant brown eyes staring up at me intently. "Yes Jamesie" I say, pulling him close for a hug with my spare arm. "Um... um... um..." James is one of those children who says "Um" a lot. "Um, I, um... I don't like question marks," he says, and wriggles away, mission accomplished, leaving me bewildered in his wake. It's the crazy times when I am plunged into a child's world that make me love my job... but I'm getting sick of the rest of it.

No coincedence, really, that I start to hate my job after spending a weekend with my friends. It would be tedious and likely boring for all of you to read about the minutae of what we did while Jack and Tim were in California, but indulge me for a few moments, because it really ought not to be forgotten.

Tim and Jack showed up in the San Francisco airport one at a time, exhausted, and it was such a happy moment to have two of my favorites sitting in my car, to hell with 2am and delayed flights. It was cold and yucky but the city put on its best show for them as we drove over Potrero and Twin Peaks and saw all the sparkly lights strewn out below, straight down to the water's edge. The view never changes, but somehow it seems to intensify when it's Christmastime.

In the morning (afternoon?) we took Tim to Amoeba for the first time. Watching him was like watching Augustus Gloop in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. Perhaps showing him the Criterion section was a little bit of an overkill; I think he may have had an embolism. We then went to Sutro Baths and tottered about on the ruins of the old bathhouse, slopped through mud in the cave to the cliffs beyond and took goofy pictures of each other; and drove to Point Bonita to see the rickety old Lemony-Snickett-style lighthouse, which was closed, but we did make friends with a gopher. You take the good with the bad. After Indian food for lunch and burritos for dinner we drove to Oakland to see Danielle and Katie and Jamie at Fenton's, and to even be graced by the presence of the ever more elusive Jonathan Snowden. Fenton's recalls memories of orange sherbet with Zach when I was a little kid and surprise parties in high school; I hadn't been there in two or three years.

The drive down Highway 1 on the coast the next day was astonishingly beautiful. We had lunch at a (unexpectedly expensive) restaurant at the top of Big Sur and stopped and took photos galore every chance we got. The weather held up surprisingly well; it only rained until we got through Santa Cruz. We found a beachful of elephant seals just past Big Sur, and of course took lots of pictures them. They were so big and furry, and they all had babies, who were small and black and wet-looking. I want one for my birthday. We only got lost once (in San Luis Obispo, where we accidentally "followed the highway" into a train station parking lot, go figure) and, after a couple good rounds of The Movie Game, made it into LA around 10:00, just in time to ambush Steve at work at the LA branch of Amoeba.

New Year's Eve Day was spent doing nothing particularly of note. We went grocery shopping for dinner and hunted down a boxed set of karaoke music to use in Jack's brand new karaoke machine (courtesy of Tim and yours truly for Christmas). Will joined us and when Steve got off work we had a makeshift "Christmas morning" to exchange gifts under Steve's Christmas tree. Jack and I made Steve a stocking because he didn't get to go home for the holidays, and Jack brought coal made out of sugar all the way from Spain just for Steve.

New Year's dinner consisted of, in true post-graduate-poor fashion, green beans, scalloped potatoes, and bacon. Ellen came over and we made up a drinking game to How the Grinch Stole Christmas, in which one drinks every time the word "who" is said. That was about all any of us needed to feel up for karaoke and competitive Dance Dance Revolution, which is what we did for the rest of the night, stopping only briefly for the Times Square ball-dropping and toasts at midnight. Arielle came by and we generally made fools of ourselves, including over-the-phone fools to the likes of Carol and Kate and Lyssa, until the wee hours of the morn. It was easily my best New Year's ever, especially considering how last-minute and scrambly the night usually is with my Lick friends. I only hope that starting the year in such a grand fashion will have some bearing on the quality of the year to come.

New Year's Day was, not surprisingly, lazy lazy lazy. We tried to see a 2:00 show of Match Point, the new Woody Allen film, but it was sold out, as was the 4:00, so we got tickets to the 8:00 and Tim and I resigned ourselves to driving back to San Francisco under cover of night (and, as it happened, rain). I for one spent New Year's Day lounging about Steve's apartment in my pajamas, alternately napping and watching Home Movies on dvd, and I couldn't have asked for anything better.

Match Point was amazing, but I'm going to have to save the review for my next post, because it's late and I'm tired. The drive back to San Francisco was both the best and worst experience I've ever had on I-5; best because Tim was there to keep me company (and bless his heart for staying awake the whole time), and worst because it was raining and foggy and the grapevine is never my favorite place to be driving, let alone at night. It was hydroplane-central, and we were both a little freaked, but once we got onto the I-5 straightaway it wasn't so bad. Tim and I have very similar tastes in music, so we broke out Kerouac (my ipod) and sung along to all our favorites.

Now everyone is gone and I miss them so much, Jack and Tim and Steve and Will and Arielle and Ellen, and really just the feeling that I have friends to have fun with and do stupid things with. Sure, I have friends here, but they all have jobs that keep them from doing pretty much anything. Granted, I'm going to Evanston in 5 days to see Kevin and help him with a film shoot, and I'll see Jack and Tim and hopefully Matt and Pedro and such as well, but still... it's not the same. I hate that I can easily foresee the next big decision of my life: deciding between moving to LA and being around my friends who have the same interests as me, or staying in the city I love and resigning myself to my friends who I love and adore but don't understand massive parts of my post-college personality. I can just see it sitting there, this dark cloud on the horizon. I'm not good at decisions. I wish everyone would just come to San Francisco, including the film industry, and then I'd be a happy bear.

Happy New Year, everybody.