Thursday, September 30, 2010

#mff2 Part 1 - Opening Weekend

Last week I shared my anticipatory Milwaukee Film Festival schedule that included a - for me - quite strenuous run of films.

Well, it's a woman's prerogative to change her mind. More importantly, if you know me, then you know I'm a bit on the spontaneous side and not wont to follow a schedule too closely.

Therefore, I must now present to you my actual Milwaukee Film Festival schedule - as has happened thus far, and broken down into 3 parts for your reading pleasure. Here is Part 1 - Opening Weekend.

Blue Valentine
I'm not sure how I feel about this film. That I'm still trying to work it out should tell you something favorable. Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling gave great performances - genuine, heartfelt, and all those other buzzword accolades you've likely been hearing.

But I'm just not sure how I feel about this film.

For one, I'm not sure that I ended up where I was supposed to. I heard two reactions from my non-random sampling of friends who saw the screening - either they were right there with the film to the very end, or they were like me and left convinced there's more to the story.

If the former is supposed to be the case, then I don't buy it and I think the plot is too simplistic and easy to be the gritty, honest, intimate portrayal of a relationship that it's been billed to be.

If the latter is the case, then I think it truly is a thought-provoking film - as evidenced by my continued musings, 6 days after the screening. If the end - rather than wrapping up the dual-timeline plot - is instead meant to leave us wondering, hoping, and drawing our own conclusions...then I think it truly is an honest view of falling in and out of love. Because that process is never ending, always evolving, and, ultimately, leaves you questioning.

Kids Shortz: Size Medium
They tell you when you sign up to volunteer with the film festival that you won't be able to see any films while you are actually volunteering. This is probably more true than not, but I was fortunate enough to be able to jump in the theater during a slow morning.

Not only is this the first year North Shore Cinema is screening, it is also the first year for the Children's Festival, which includes films, shorts, education, and activities.

My thoughts on the Size Medium (ages 7+) shorts:

Favorites: Story

Cherry on the Cake
This story of the plight of the middle child made me scrunch up my face, hold my breath, and try not to bawl like a baby. I'm no middle child, but the metaphor of poor little Cherry getting smaller and smaller as her family ignores her on her birthday is one that any of us can relate to.

Gerald's Last Day

It's clear why some of these shorts are meant for older children and not the toddler set. Poor, fat (but cuddly) Gerald has one more day to find an owner and doesn't seem to be having much luck. Personally, this short made me want to run to the humane society and adopt every animal on site. Don't worry, though, the end is a happy one.

Sooner or Later
This cute little film is about two formerly solitary animals - one nocturnal, one not - coming together when the world experiences a little hiccup and time gets a bit, er, rescheduled.

Favorites: Humor


Don't you just love it when they put 'em on YouTube?

Pigeon: Impossible

Yep, totally awesome.

Favorites: Art & Style

Breaking the Mould
Life through the eyes of an apple. Not what you'd normally think of as an enticing short film, but it is harvest season in Wisconsin, and I do love myself some cider.

View it here.

Life Leaf
This was my absolute favorite of the bunch. As the description says, "a little girl finds the whole world inside of a leaf." It's a great metaphor for our interconnected natural world. You can read environmentalism and conservation into it if you want. The Pacific Northwest aboriginal artwork is absolutely breathtaking.

You can read an interview with the award-winning animator and creator here.

FYI - If I could buy the soundtrack for each of these short films - or if they could be packaged together in one low, Milwaukee film festival price, then I would pay whatever you wanted me to...within reason, if I'm being honest.

Azur & Asmar
I heard this film was beautiful, but that just doesn't do it justice.

If they sold framed prints of the film's screenshots I'd buy them and decorate my house.

This film has won so many audience awards you know something's gotta be right. The documentary balances just the right amount of humanity with education and technical merit. It was filmed over three years, primarily in Gramacho Garden - the ironically named world's largest garbage dump, and even with the lowly setting still manages to be beautiful. It's as much a story of the individuals who work as recyclables pickers as it is of world-reknown artist, Vik Muniz, as he struggles with the documentarian's greatest dilemma - how to share the important stories of others without fundamentally changing their lives.

Ultimately, lives are changed - some for the better, some not. Above all, I think the greatest accomplishment of this film, is showing how much beauty can be found in what we perceive to be garbage.

It's films like this one that make me proud to live in a city with such a fantastic arts and culture community. The Milwaukee Film Festival is just one example of an organization giving us the means to change our perspectives and learn more about global issues through art.

I'll elaborate more on this in #mff2 Part 2, but I encourage you to get out to the cinema while there's still time and see some films you likely won't get the chance to see elsewhere. Challenge yourself - your tastes, your perspectives, what you thought you knew about the world.

Give these films a chance, but most of all, support the rich arts and culture community in Milwaukee.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Happy #NationalCoffeeDay!

Enjoy with your favorite cup.

Myself, I like my coffee like I like my men.


I'd say I like my coffee like I like my soul (black), but that's not really true.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Best Weekend Ever

This weekend happened to be the best weekend ever. Pretty strong words, coming from a gal who lives in the land of summertime festivals, free music, and outdoor livin'.

But it's true.

Here's what happened.

Saturday: #mff2
Saturday was a day spent with the Milwaukee Film Festival at the North Shore Cinema. This is the first year the Mequon theater took part. I started the day with a volunteer shift - helping the little kiddos get to their shorts programs. I also then got to view some of the shorts. As will happen during the first time for anything, technical difficulties were kind of a problem at North Shore. Not to worry, festival-goers. This volunteer doesn't mind "working" an extra hour when it means she can sit in on Azur & Asmar to ensure no other technical difficulties arise.

I heard this film was beautiful, but that didn't prepare me for what ended up being the most delicious treat for my retinas. My rods and cones still won't stop complaining about how real life - even Wisconsin in all it's fall glory - can't compare to the breathtaking artwork in this film. Crotchety ol' visual acuity sensors.

After this viewing, I turned in my volunteer time for a movie voucher, promptly purchased a ticket to Wasteland, and used my film festival coupon to Zaffiro's for some pizza before the show started. Seriously, Milwaukee Film, you're awesome for being so affordable.

Wasteland was, in a word, incredible. If I had two words I'd call it incredibly heartbreaking. Seriously. The lady next to me was bawling throughout most of the film. Vik Muniz is amazing, and even more amazing are the folks he worked with to create this documentary.

All accolades are very well deserved. If you have the chance, go see the second or third screening of this film:

Thursday, September 30
Oriental Theater
5:00 PM

Saturday, October 2
North Shore Cinema
12:15 PM

Sunday: Go Brewers!
I was lucky enough to get free tickets this weekend to the Brewer's last home game (Thanks Shotz!). I knew the seats would be good when my contact said to pick them up at Will Call 6, we get there, and it's the VIP window. Sure enough...

That's the view from my seat of the bratwurst losing the Sausage Relay.

The Brewers won 7-1, Trevor Hoffman got to take a bow, so did Prince - in what may have been his last home game as a Brewer - and Ryan Braun received a nice standing 0. Michael Hunt of the Journal Sentinel gives a nice perspective on it.

Following the Brewers game, if you don't watch it and so didn't know, was the season premiere of Dexter. Last season ended with one heckuva mindf***, and it was interesting to see where we think they might take it. If you don't watch the show, I'd say catch up online, but you can't do that with premium cable channels. I don't know why. They'd make a mint. But you can at least Netflix the last two seasons.

And thus ended the coolest weekend of Twenty Ten. Here's looking foward to the rest of this week, which is sure to be a grand time as well.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

#socialgood Day

For those of you not into the whole "social media thing," you may not know that today is Social Good Day. In an effort brought to you by @mashable and @joinred, we are asked to put on our thinking caps and use our collective brain power to "unleash fresh thinking about how social media can raise awareness and create solutions for social issues around the world."

The great news is that our dear Milwaukee community is far ahead of the times. If you're not in the Twitterverse, check out Sue Spaight's blog post that recaps how Milwaukee's Twitter community banded together to save Tim, Jess, and Clara Cigelske of The Cigelske's home was - for all intents and purposes - destroyed during the Brew City Flood. Folks on Twitter got word of it, and came together to put on a fantastic - and effective - fundraising event, helping them to pick up the pieces and rebuild.

This example was the result of a process that happened organically, but what if we harnessed the power of these "activaters" to do something just as awesome on a regular basis?

The Idea:
Wouldn't it be great if Milwaukee's Twitter community came together every month (or so) for the purposes of social good? There are so many people struggling in our area, that surely we can utilize our collective networks to make a difference on an ongoing basis.
Monthly meetups of interested and connected Tweeters could be the grounds for social good planning.

Individuals who are struggling could informally propose their issue (statement of the problem) and craft a possible solution (action steps for the Twitter community) using free software like Scribd, Issuu, Slideshare, Prezi, and others. This would help others vet each proposal and choose a recipient.

Milwaukee tweeps could then use an online polling system to choose a #socialgood recipient. With regular, small-scale, local #socialgood successes, we could make a huge difference for Milwaukee.

You can read more about Social Good Day here.

If you have ideas for Social Good Day, or if your organization is already doing something great, then tweet it using the hashtag #socialgood.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

MKE Film Festival

Okay Milwaukeeans, get your butts and popcorn buckets ready and put your cell phones on vibrate...tomorrow is the beginning of the 2010 Milwaukee Film Festival.

Here are my selections. I'm doing my "going to the movies alone" thing, which I know some of you find weird. Feel free to join me if one of these spikes your interest.

The best part? I'm volunteering for free tickets. Thank you, Milwaukee Film for being so awesome and affordable.

September 23
Blue Valentine 7:00 p.m.,
Opening Night Party @ Discovery World
A film about "...falling in love - and out of love," this opener will be the meat of my Happy Hour sandwich - Von Trier's before the show, and opening night party at Discovery World afterward.

September 24
Baraboo 7:30 p.m.
Small town WI? Check. Past it's peak resort town? Check. Disillusioned residents? Check. Anyone with me? (check)

September 26
It's Kind of a Funny Story
I'm a fan of Zack Galifianakis, and this film, which takes place in a psychiatric ward and also includes Emma Roberts, Aasif Mandvi, and Jim Gaffigan, is a "darkly humorous coming-of-age story" that I'm excited to see.

Note: I'd also love to see Waiting for "Superman," but it's sold out.

Editor's Note 9/23/10: Since I can probably see It's Kind of Funny in theaters (aka: matinee ticket prices), I think I'm going to see Kings of Pastry 4:15 p.m. instead. Yes, I could see both in one day, but I'm on a budget.

Tuesday September 28
Cooking History 3:15 p.m.
Food Network if it's cooking shows took place in Europe. During wars. And I can actually make it to this one; I just have to see if I can leave work half an hour early.

September 30
Katalin Varga 4:30 p.m.
Mostly because it was shot throughout the Romanian countryside and Carpathian mountains.

Sidenote: Gosh, I'm a sucker for anything that relates to Eastern Europe...

October 2
The Best Damn F*#&ing Midnight Program Ever. Sh*t. Midnight. Duh.
As the promo says, the title says it all.

October 3
Feed the Fish
How wisely they schedule this showing, leaving enough of a cushion after the Packer game that we can still get to the theater to see this WI film. Naturally, this one is sold out, but I might try rush tickets - along with hundreds of my fellow Wisconsinites, no doubt.

other October 3rd options, considering the likelihood of Feed the Fish rush tickets is nil:

About Elly 11:00 a.m.
Budrus 3:00 p.m.

I'll also be volunteering at the North Shore Cinema THIS SATURDAY from 9:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. if you'd like to stop by and see me.

Monday, September 20, 2010

@NickBarnett's Fangs

Last week I made a small reference to Nick Barnett's fangs...or, what I thought looked like fangs during one quick camera shot of the Packers/Eagles game.

You'll be happy to know I was right. If you're a Packer fan, you'll be happier to know that Nick Barnett is bada$$, then again, you probably already knew that.

Intimidation is the sincerest form of bada$$ery.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Tweeting the 1960's

Did you know that Mad Men is a fantastic show? No? Well, then, I have nothing else to say to you.

If, however, you love Mad Men as much as this PR (oh the horror!) gal, then you'll want to fire up your Twitter account and start following the fine folks of Sterling Cooper Draper Price.

The Crew
Don Draper Only slightly demeaning to women.
Peggy Olson A bit of an identity crisis in the happening.
Pete Campbell You can see him swirling the scotch in his lowball as you read through the tweets.
Roger Sterling Does he still come into work?
Ken Cosgrove Only 97% jerk.
Paul Kinsey Takes his sensitive side seriously.
Sal Romano Alas, not with SCDP, but still relevant.
Bertram Cooper I don't think he actually works either.

Joan Harris Ballsy yet classy.
Miss Blankenship Crotchety.
Secretary Practically non-existent, unless SCDP needs to get some work done.

The Ex and the New Mr.
Betty (Draper) Francis Poster Mom for the blog Really Bad Parenting Advice.
Henry Francis Character with an unclear purpose.

The Kids:
Sally Draper Definitely an identity crisis, but she's a pre-teen child of divorce, so it's expected.
Robert Draper Lots of questions.
Gene Draper Few answers.

The Workhorses:
Xerox Machine Could be more snarky.
Vending Machine Sets the precedent for office machine snark.

There are so many bit players that it's hard to list them all. Like Bethany Van Nuys and Anna Draper (now a Twitter user from beyond the grave, apparently). And there are multiple accounts for each character, so it's hard to know who's authoring them. Certainly none of the accounts have been verified (wink), but take a look, follow along, and enjoy the convo.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Journal Sentinel Point-Counterpoint: Indian Mascots

Today the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published two community commentary pieces that look at both sides of the Indian mascot debate. I commend them for providing an astute point-counterpoint on a, sadly, still relevant topic (read about the recent Mukwonago mucky muck here).

What I am ashamed to see - as a proud citizen of this great city (I had my reservations when moving here, but you've grown on me, Milwaukee) - is that all of the comments to these articles appear in response to the article in favor of changing team names. This article argues in favor, not because every Native American is offended, but because it should be enough that some are. And commentors are ripping the author a new one for being so sensitive.

Jane, you ignorant slut.

The other article, rather than taking a hard stance in favor of keeping Indian mascot names, merely suggests that our society's collective effort toward political correctedness sometimes gets out of hand.

Dan, you pompous ass.

But seriously. The first article is titled, "It's Time to Simply Do What's Right," while the second article is titled, "All References Aren't Derogatory."

Guess what? I think they're both right.

It's at this point that I should disclose that I am a Native American. And guess what? I don't have a problem with most Indian mascots. But to claim that you can't possibly understand how such caricatures could insult another human being is the worst sort of ignorance.

Case in point:

Seriously, Cleveland? How have you gotten away with this for so long? Why don't you just change your logo to a black guy with a big nose and an underbite and call yourself the N****rs?

Did I just make you uncomfortable? Did you know that "Redskin" is the Native American equivalent of the "N" word? The fact that I can write one and not the other in print is argument enough that something is wrong in our society.

But Washington's logo is actually pretty cool.

My point to all of this is not to stir the pot, but to point out that, yes, some Indian mascots are demeaning. And worse, it's not usually the names or the mascots that are the problem, but rather the 30,000 fans in an arena doing tomahawk chops and chanting war cries wearing war paint that ultimately fail to "honor/celebrate [an] ethnic group." I know it makes me feel welcome at a sporting event to see a white guy hopping around in neon colored "traditional" Indian regalia with a handful of stodgy old white guys (aka: regents) telling me I should feel honored about it (I'm talking to you Fighting Illini).

Not to mention dozens of commentors spewing hate speech toward someone who's simply pointing out that a portion of our citizens are demeaned on a daily basis because of their race, and we should consider graciously doing something about it.

Maybe if we can somehow find a way, like the FSU Seminoles, to work with those that are depicted to create a dignified rendition, then all can be proud and honored?

Monday, September 13, 2010

This Week in Wisconsin Sports

There’s nothing quite like sports in Wisconsin. Maybe it’s our Midwestern lifestyle that encourages pro athletes to be nice guys instead of d-bags. Or maybe it’s simply the 9 months of soul-crushing winter that leaves us little to do but gather together for warmth, I mean, camaraderie around our hometown teams.

Either way, it’s pretty cool to be a sports fan in Wisconsin. And here are the four most recent reasons why.

1. Mark Tauscher: Football Phenom. Blogger Extraordinaire.
FYI – Packer’s offensive tackle, Mark Tauscher, has entered the blogosphere. In a series hosted by Travel Wisconsin, our homegrown talent will be sharing his favorites of all that Wisconsin has to offer this, sometimes, unappreciative world. Read it here.

Also, something cool I learned whilst Googling Tauscher? He organizes Trifecta Foundation to “enhanc[e] the education and literacy of children in Wisconsin.” I kind of want to make some witty comment about Tauscher and Pizza Hut (read: Book It), but would rather not distract from the awesome mission of this org.

2. A Rod’s ‘stache
By now we all know that number 12 loves experimental facial hair, and we all love seeing what shapes and fu manchu’s will surface every Packer’s preseason. However, this author thinks it’s a travesty when all that grizzled wonderment is shaved for every season opener. After all, what could be more intimidating to an opponent than Grizzly Adams coming at you?

Except, maybe, Nick Barnett’s mouth guard giving the impression he has fangs – did anyone else see that shot in yesterday’s game?

Regardless, wherever you fall on the A-Rod Beard Fence (there’s an idea for that yellow monstor across from Lambeau Field), you can cast your vote here (look for the poll on the right side of the screen).

3. Joe Heller’s Cartoon: What Kind of Fan Are You?
We’ve all known THAT guy. But are you that guy? Take a look at Joe Heller’s slideshow of fandom.

Fun Fact: I once went to a Green Bay Blizzard game (I cannot recommend arena football more – it’s a blast! Go to a game. Do it), and sat behind a guy who clearly drank too much beer and instead of being obnoxiously drunk, he was being odorously drunk. You know what I mean.

Let me just put it this way for our younger readers. His tummy was feeling bad because of all that carbonation, and he should’ve gone to the little boy’s room.

For our adult readers: instead of going to the bathroom, the guy kept ripping the worst butt stenches known to man’s rotten intestines and I nearly lost my lunch.

So yeah.

View that slideshow up there and see if you fit into one of those fan categories.

4. Fear the Deer
And last, but certainly never least as evidenced today, Bango, the Buck’s mascot, was named NBA Mascot of the Year. Booyah all you Clutch fans (I Googled “ridiculous NBA mascot” and got this result. Bygones.). If you’ve ever been to a Buck’s game you know that Bango is one bad mickey fickey.

Congratulations, Bango, on your domination. May you survive Wisconsin’s upcoming hunting season and live to serve up more crazy stunts like these:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Man Shows

Man Shows. There's a title to get the ladies excited. Too bad I mean "TV shows with an audience demographic of male ages 18-39" and not "chippendales." Ew, skeevy. As far as eye candy goes, gimme any sporting event with athletic sweaty men over a skeevy strip show any day.


Maybe I have an abnormally high level of testosterone flowing through my veins (probably not as evidenced by the mammaries), or perhaps I'm just your classic tomboy (ding, ding), but I love a good Man Show. And what better way to celebrate the season premiere of just such a delight than with a blog post that espouses the wonders of my favorites? Let's get crackin'.

1. Deadliest Catch
I love me some Blue Collar Reality TV. I've said it before and I'll keep saying it, but Deadliest Catch is boss.

2. Tosh.0
Yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking. It's politically incorrect. Daniel Tosh is a dick shine. Whatever. I'm sure he's heard it all, and I'm sure you're right. But there's something very appealing about a show - even a comedy show - that doesn't pull any punches. In this day and age when every celebrity, politician, water cooler Kathy, whathaveyou is verbally walking on eggshells in an effort to not offend any person, place, thing, or idea, it's refreshing to watch a show that makes an effort to equally offend everyone. Not THAT'S equality. In the "man" sense, I assume.

Tosh.0Weds 10:30pm / 9:30c
Beach Flip
Tosh.0 VideosDaniel ToshWeb Redemption

3. Sons of Anarchy

Perhaps it's because I grew up so close to the Rez (that's "reservation" for you non-native folks), but I've got me a soft spot for SoA. The lawlessness, the tattoos, the theme song co-written by Velvet Revolver's David all adds up to one thrill ride of a show about, let's face it, a motorcycle mafia. Your two favorite things in life, right? Harleys and assassinations? I thought so.

Last season ended with quite a bang, and I know I'm not the only Lady Fan anxiously awaiting the premiere tonight.