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A Long Overdue Update, In List Form

July 13, 2008 at 9:49 pm

Today I received an email from my friend Sara -- who is currently spending her days laying bricks in Burundi -- wherein she tactfully mentioned that yes, she's been checking this blog (from Burundi!) but unfortunately hasn't been able to find updates since May 30. Sara, meanwhile, has managed to post to her excellent blog nearly every single day since arriving in Burundi.

As gentle reminders go, this will be hard to beat.

Thus, as a quick update on several topics of middling interest, I present the following.

List 1: Creatures that have visited my backyard, in approximate descending order of scat size:

1) Bear
2) Mountain Lion
3) Elk
4) Deer
5) Neighbors' dogs
6) Coyotes
7) Neighbors' (smaller) dogs
8-10) Foxes; skunks; rabbits*
11) Birds
12) Snakes
13) Insects

*order uncertain

List 2: Current writing projects, ordered by projected final word count:

1) The Coldest War (volume 2 of The Milkweed Triptych)
2) Untitled Screenplay (co-written w/ Melinda Snodgrass)
3) Wild Cards: Suicide Kings
4) Toastmaster Daniel Abraham's bio for the Bubonicon 40 program book

List 3: Movies I've seen in the past week, in descending order of excellence (or, if one prefers, ascending order of scat size):

1) Wall-E*
2) Hancock**
3) Hellboy II***
4) Wanted****

*A tour-de-force. Possibly Pixar's best. A simple tale, well-told.

**A great movie if you stop watching 1/3-1/2 way through. A bad movie if you don't.

***Disappointing and loud. Far too many plot elements, none well-integrated. Rare is the film that can get away with spending the first 10 minutes explaining itself.*****

****Utterly incomprehensible. A mashup of The Matrix and Fight Club without bringing anything original to the table. Obnoxious and loud.*****

*****Opening text is always a bad sign.

A Note on List 3: Normally I see less than one movie in the theater every four months. Four movies in a week is highly unusual and probably unprecedented.

A Note on the African Great Lakes Initiative: If you'd like to make a donation in support of Sara's efforts in Burundi, here's how:

Donations can be made via AGLI's website, by taking the following steps.

1) Click on the "Donate Now" button in the lower right hand corner of the screen.

2) Once you click on that button" the next screen will have a button saying "Donate Now using JustGive".

3) Click on that button and the next page will say "Make a Donation" and will have a series of fields to be completed.

4) Please be sure to check the boxes for them to give us "your charity" - your name, address and email.

5) In the "Designate my Donation" field type in the last name of the workcamper and the country to which they are going, (i.e., Gmitter/Burundi)

6) DO NOT use the "Dedicate my Donation" category

7) Click on the lavender "Add to Basket" button.

8) The next screen will say "Your Donations" and beneath that will show the donation is for Friends Peace Teams (AGLI's parent organization); next to that it will show the name and country of the workcamper; then to the right it will show the amount you are donating.

9) At this point in the process you can make changes if you wish.

10) Note that at the bottom left there is a field for donating $3 to JustGive. It is automatically checked so if you do not wish to make this donation you must click on it to remove the check mark.

11) Once you have determined the information is accurate you can click on the "Proceed to Checkout" button in the lower right corner of the screen.

12) Now you will see a screen with two columns, Returning Donors (left) and New Donors (right). If you have never donated via JustGive before, put your email address in the box on the right and click the small lavender "sign up" button.

13) The next screen will say "Create an Account" and ask you to create a password. Please do so and click the small lavender "continue" button.

14) The next screen asks for your "Billing/Personal Info". NOTE: you only need to complete the yellow fields. You may ignore the white fields asking for age, gender, income, etc.

15) Note that there is a field which asks if you want to receive emails from JustGive. It is already checked so if you do not want to receive emails you must click on the check mark to remove it.

16) Click on "Submit" and if everything was correctly completed you will have successfully made a donation!

NOTE: Donating via the website works well for contributions up to the level of $100. Because JustGive takes a percentage of donations made through them we strongly recommend that anyone donating more than $100 pay by check to avoid AGLI loosing a considerable sum in this process. Donations over $100 should be made by check payable to Friends Peace Teams/AGLI with a notation on the memo line with the name of the workcamper/country. Mail checks to:

Friends Peace Teams/AGLI
1001 Park Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63104-3720


Richard July 14, 2008 at 6:04 am
I saw Hancock at the drive-in a few weeks ago. This is the only way we're able to watch real movies with kids. Anyway, I thought Hancock was an entertaining ripoff of Neil Gaiman's Elementals. What's that? Lost your memory and have great powers? Huh? Oh, you're really ancient angels/demigods who have very human-like relationships and flaws? How original. Don't get me wrong; I liked the movie, probably because I liked Elementals. The one part I really liked about Hancock was the idea of a drunken semi-homeless superhero with PR problems flying all wobbly with a large bottle of alcohol. *****Opening text is OK if you are Star Wars Episodes IV-VI.
S.C. Butler July 14, 2008 at 6:50 am
But Wall-E is basically about scat.
Ian July 14, 2008 at 8:19 am
There's a drive-in theater in the Twin Cities???

Heck, that would be worth doing even without the kids. And, heh, I'll bet a lot of kids started life at the drive-in. Ba-dum-tsss!

I kill me. I really do. But anyway.

Like you, I thought the best part of Hancock was the drunken, semi-homeless superhero with PR problems. I've never bought the false "they hate you because you're different" tension that some superhero franchises (coughX-Mencough) cling to like a drunken sailor to a lightpost. But I could easily buy the negative public image when the superhero is a drunk who frequently causes millions of dollars of damage to the city.

Overall, it sort of felt like two separate movies to me. I read in the LA Times a while back that the original script was written something like 10 years ago. So I wouldn't be surprised if it underwent many reworkings since then.

*****Very well. I concede that the original Star Wars movies are the collective exception that proves the rule.

Ian July 14, 2008 at 8:30 am
But Wall-E is basically about scat.
Your wit and wordplay have no place here, sir.
Sara G July 18, 2008 at 10:17 am
Ian you are a dear, dear, human. Thanks for the plug! Everyone at Kamenge clinic thanks you too. Actually most of them say Urakoze cane! with a few Merci!s thrown in. I third the motion about the text at the beginning of original recipe Stars Wars. As if the argument needed any help from me.
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