Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Dead Shows: Fairly Legal

05 November 2012

Rick and I were discussing my favorite kinds of shows as I was whining about Fairly Legal being canceled. He pointed out I liked smart shows with good dialogue, complicated plots, and layers to them — and that most people simply couldn’t relate to them. I also really like a good sense of humor in a dramatic piece, but it’s not something that’s absolutely necessary for me.
My three favorite movies, in order, are: The Player, Duplicity, and Inception: all but the last have a great sense of humor; Inception probably would be my favorite movie if it were warmer and funnier.
So let’s go over those doomed series. This will be the first of a one-post-per-show format.

For this show, I really loved the writing. There were lots of places where things were left far more open than in a typical series, and I just love that kind of pointilist dialogue.
There were, unfortunately, a lot of fans of the soon-to-be-ex-husband on the show, aka #TeamJustin. Having built that up for a year, introducing Ben was bound to cause some of the fans to become disaffected, though many of us who liked Justin in the first season switched to #TeamBen. For me, I liked Ben from his first episode, though I saw his flaws, but for others, it didn’t happen until around episode 8 (“Ripple of Hope”) of 13 episodes, which was, imho, way too late to get people on board. Some people stopped caring about the show as a consequence. Side note: iTunes claims I’ve watched Ripple of Hope 192 times. Ahem.

The other aspect is that Justin comes off as a stronger male character (in the classic romance novel sense) than Ben does. For me, Ben comes off as a more modern character: he makes the fundamental assumption that women know what they want and are generally able to communicate it. There are a lot of layers in the dialogue, such as this opening scene where Kate and Ben meet.

K: (plays with rim of glass)
B: Plymouth and tonic.
K; Check, please.
B: Do you always come in the door leaving?
K: Umm, it is Not My Scene.
B: But, here you are, so you were either born on that bar stool or you came in here disguised as a woman who wants attention.
K: And you’re wearing a $3000 suit with a pocket square.
B: I believe my motives are clear.
K: Sorry. It has been a while since anyone’s offered to buy me a drink.
B: Really? Did the world go blind?
K: (Laughs) I’m married. Was married. Now I’m not. Anyway, the ex is on his way to sign the (waves hand) whatever, but it looks like he has blown me off.
B: Well, it’s just as well, or he would have changed his mind.
K: (Laughs) Nice try. Maybe it’ll feel normal some day.
B: Do you believe in fate?
K: Wow, was that a line?
B: It’s a question. Takes the edge off picking up strangers in bars.
K: I’m 29. I’m, uh, nearly divorced, recently orphaned, more recently out of a job. My life is kind of at this unexpected turning point, so yeah. I do believe in fate. And I believe she is a fickle, fickle bitch. [nice recap for people who didn’t watch Season 1]
B: You seem broken.
K: (laughs)
B: I like that.
K: And you’re a fixer.
B: No.
K: Yeah.
B: No, I tend to make things much worse, and then I disappear.
K: Well, at least you’re decent enough to be honest about it, you don’t see that much.
B: Oh, you must be a lawyer.
K: (lying) Schoolteacher.
B: Right. You’re a schoolteacher and I’m a decent guy, so (raises glass) cheers to honesty.
K: Hey, cheers. Yeah. (laughs) And good night. (gets up, starts leaving)
B: Is truth the way to your heart?
K: (turns)
B: Withdrawn, counselor, I misspoke. We have not yet established that you have a heart.
K: The way to my heart would be to do everything and to say nothing. No negotiation, no foreplay, no strategy. Just be who you are and take me.
B: (stares)
K: (whispers) Too late.
B: (stares after her as she leaves)

Justin winds up telling Kate what she wants (and is wrong) and keeps trying to assert his dominance, like in this scene from the Finale.

K: Oh, Justin.
J: Here we go.
K: Oh, God, what?
J: Nothing. I just know you, that’s all.
K: Look, this is the, uh … , right needle, wrong haystack. I’ve been fighting this feeling–
J: Oh, my, Kate–
K: …and I keep hoping–
J: Don’t do this!
K: …that this is going to feel right–
J: It does feel right. We’re not who we used to be, don’t do this.
K: I know you think that I’m running away.
J: Yeah, because you are. I knew you were gonna get scared.
K: I’m not scared.
J: (nods his head)

It also doesn’t help that Kate is the patron saint of lost causes, and while Justin has given up on her, she hasn’t given up on him. Then, to make matters worse, when she starts getting scared at Ben’s advances, she runs back to Justin, who then becomes fully engaged again. That all works as far as the plot goes, but some of the ways it plays out make Kate less sympathetic and Ben seem less strong a character as far as many women might see him, and that loses audience.
Justin tries to manipulate Kate directly, but he’s bad at it. Ben’s a far better manipulator, but he’s discovered that manipulating people doesn’t make for good long-term relationships, so he’s the kind of guy who manipulates the underlying situation and let the people cards fall where they will. As an example: knowing it’s complicated and it’ll take her days to decide, they fly to Lake Tahoe “for the day” for a case for which he’s gotten her appointed as a Special Magistrate. Naturally, with Kate, it becomes a multi-day affair, with the two of them spending two nights in Tahoe. The second night, there’s a hot tub scene where Ben’s out there and Kate comes to give him some news about the case, then a different conversation follows. I see Ben’s strategy: he’s made an advance, she’s run to someone else, and if Ben makes the next move and closes the gap between them, he will never know if he manipulated her into it or if she truly picked him. On the other hand, if he gets her close by, within inches, and she closes that last mile, that’s something else. Thus, the hot tub scene, which parallels the season’s opening scene.

K: What’s that?
B: It’s a rock. Found it up there today, it’s sort of shaped like a heart.
K: Do you think it’s ever possible to feel that way again?
B: Like what?
K: The way it feels when you fall in love for the first time. Do you remember that? It just feels like this wave just washes over you, but you’re not afraid to drown. Wow. It’s just so easy the first time.
B: Love is never easy. You don’t have to be 17, you just have to be brave. I knew you couldn’t just pick a side and then fly home. I wanted to stay the night, because I do care that much.
K: (looks up at him)
B: So do you. (crosses over to her) That’s why you went back to Justin, because he’s safe. And this you can’t control and it scares the hell out of you. You want that wave. (reaches for her hand and pulls her into the water) No strategy. No foreplay. No negotiation. You just have to have the guts to dive in. (beat) Do you?
K: (freezes)
B: Too late. (walks off)

One of my other favorite bits is when Ben’s ex Lydia is the opposing counsel in episode Shine a Light.

B: She’ll have another Tanqueray and tonic.
L: You trying to get me drunk, Ben?
B: Don’t need to get women drunk.
L: Ah, so they just fall at your feet without lubrication.
B: My cross to bear.
L: He’ll have a Plymouth and tonic.
B: You remember. I’m touched.
L: I didn’t need any help, either.
B: Except for that one time in Sausalito.
L: We were both pretty sauced up then.
B: And Alcatraz.
L: That was work related.
B: Oh. (incredulous) That was work.
(Ben crosses behind Lydia as she’s laughing)
B. I thought about your offer.
L: The $125,000?
B: Yeah, it doesn’t really work for me.
L: I could knock it down to 75 if you’d like.
B: How about a million. See, here’s the thing. Karl was so peeved about that settlement that I failed to bring him that I started to wonder: who did tell him about it? Do you know?
L: Search me.
B: It’s perplexing, isn’t it? Because whoever did would have communicated with my client without me being there — which is an even bigger ethics violation than failing to mention a settlement agreement in the first place.
L: (says nothing)
B: You spoke to my client without me being there. The bar association will be so crushed. See, it’s not fair that you’re the only one who gets to be satisfied here, Lydia. Do you know what I mean?
L: Alcatraz.
B: Exactly. (Pause) So. Bring me a cashier’s check for a million dollars by the end of the day and I’ll see if he’ll bite.
L: You’re bluffing. And I should have left you handcuffed to that cell.
B: Is that a yes or a no?
L: (turns and leaves)

They know each other well enough to have secret metaphors that are never explained, but you can almost read between the lines.

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Voting Is An Act of Kindness

03 November 2012

Why Voting Matters
I’ve heard a bunch of people say that their vote doesn’t matter, usually followed by some rationalization about why it doesn’t matter. It’s true, any individual vote isn’t likely to decide an election, but it’s the collection of votes that does, much like the collection of acts of kindness keep a society together.
Let me give you an example. Rick and I went to Egypt in 2007, and we kind of had a rough tourist day in Cairo: plenty of super-aggressive people wanting to be bribed (I had to photoshop out a guy from a pic with Rick because we weren’t going to give money just for that). I was thoroughly prepared to continue to hate Egypt for several reasons, not the least of which was the threatened migraine from all the screaming in Arabic from the tourist police.
The next day, we went to the catacombs in Alexandria. It was brutally hot, and there were kitties all over the place. They purred awesomely, and one woman went across the street to get them some milk and cat food. Unfortunately, none of us had Egyptian currency, the store didn’t take any currency we did have (US and Euros, mostly). So the woman asked the Egyptian woman at the catacombs if she could change any money. She said she couldn’t, but she went across the street and bought cat supplies on her own dime, then refused payment of any sort.
We loved the woman for this, and the kitties, and the kitties had so much fun.
It’s a small gesture, but it completely reframed how I felt about Egypt.
Voting, however, is more anonymous. It’s more like going into a Catholic church when no one’s around, lighting a candle, and sticking $2 in the box marked “Widows and Orphans Fund.”
You see, voting for one guy this time around will be stuffing, on average, a lot more than $2 in the widows and orphans fund, where voting for the other guy will be taking more than $2 from the widows and orphans fund.
As a (remarried) widow who once got a whopping $255 when my first husband died (and had food stamps and medical coverage for 2 months when I couldn’t work after his death), I thank all of you who voted over the years to help keep people in need from starving. I have repaid that in taxes many times over in the years since.
If you can’t vote, for whatever reason, please just do some small kindness when the opportunity presents itself.

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The Show Killer. Me.

01 November 2012

Here are some series I have loved in Season 1 or 2 that have died an early death, in approximate reverse order. These are all series where I became a fan within the first two seasons in real time and was religious about not missing an episode.
Fairly Legal
Alcatraz
Terra Nova
FlashForward
Caprica
Stargate Universe
Firefly
The Agency (CIA show with Jason O’Mara and Paige Turco), brilliant in Season 2, never on DVD. 🙁
The Lone Gunman
Crusade
Cleopatra 2525
Prey
Space: Above and Beyond
oh, and Twin Peaks
Notice anything about the show longevity?

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My Favorite Show Was Canceled

01 November 2012

Sorry to see you go, Fairly Legal.
There’s really only been two shows I’ve fully bonded with in the last few years: that one and FlashForward, but they appealed to me in completely different ways.
I’ll write about that later.
nu9sr

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Going for Memorable

25 October 2012

Kate showed me this video of an an audition.
Not just any audition. One where a comedian with a character as a geek gamer crashes a music video dance audition and acts like a goofball (and specifically asks for a rules exception). Despite no formal dance training (but impressive dance skill despite that), he gets the gig.
It’s about rules, about expertise, about genius, about knowing when to throw away something perfectly usable and go for memorable instead.
There are a lot of solid, good dancers in the audition. No question. One comment, though. When people ask what reading slush is like, I point to the guy who does a solo right before Keith at around 47 seconds in. Imperfect execution, some solid grasp of concepts, but not able to stand out from the crowd.
For both of these, may be NSFW due to adult themes, but worth watching when you can.

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And the resulting video, clearly re-written to take advantage of their new dancer…..

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Pop Quiz Answers

24 October 2012

I found the diversity of political spectrum very interesting here. Hope you do as well.
Sarah Palin “We need to prioritize our law enforcement efforts, and if somebody’s gonna smoke a joint in their house and not do anybody else any harm, then perhaps there are other things that our cops should be looking at to engage in….”
Melissa Etheridge “It’s wrong to arrest adults for using marijuana, and it’s even more wrong to allow gangs and cartels to profit from selling marijuana.”
Snoop Dog “If marijuana were legal, t]here would be less high-speed chases, less robberies, less crime. Go to Amsterdam or the Netherlands where it is legal and you see that the crime rate is nonexistent.”
Pat Robertson “I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol.”
Glenn Beck “I think it’s about time we legalize marijuana.”
Aaron Sorkin “It’s a good idea.”
Rachel Maddow “[W]e’ve got a new drug czar to continue waging the decades-old drug war, which maybe we should start thinking about differently since it is decades old and we don’t appear to be anywhere near winning it.”
Rick Perry “[If] you want to go somewhere where you can smoke medicinal weed, then you ought to be able to do that.”
Source: Marijuana Majority (which has links to where the quotations were taken from)

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Pop Quiz

22 October 2012

What political issue do all eight of the following agree upon (at least in the larger sense)?
Sarah Palin and Melissa Etheridge
Snoop Dog and Pat Robertson
Glenn Beck and Aaron Sorkin
Rachel Maddow and Rick Perry

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Ellsberg Has Some Good Points

21 October 2012

Daniel Ellsberg has written a great piece about why he’s recommending people in swing states vote for Obama (rather than for a third party) even though he himself does not support Obama. Also, he points out that people, especially progressives, should get out there and vote even though they feel disheartened.

In the eight to twelve close-fought states — especially Florida, Ohio, and Virginia, but also Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin — for any progressive to encourage fellow progressives and others in those states to vote for a third-party candidate is, I would say, to be complicit in facilitating the election of Romney and Ryan, with all its consequences.
To think of that as urging people in swing states to “vote their conscience” is, I believe, dangerously misleading advice. I would say to a progressive that if your conscience tells you on Election Day to vote for someone other than Obama in a battleground state, you need a second opinion. Your conscience is giving you bad counsel.

Ellsberg does mention some of the very real problems I have with the Obama administration.
While I know people voting for third-party candidates in California, and while I’ve considered doing so myself, the fact is that Obama repealed DADT, and he gets my vote for that alone. No one else has had the political clout to accomplish it.
Right now, it looks like everything south of the Mason/Dixon line (edit: as Ron Newman pointed out, save for Maryland) is probably going Romney’s way.

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California Ballot Initiatives

20 October 2012

First of all, I want to point you to Jim Keller’s proposition guide which has some good commentary, as do Nick Mamatas’s and Scott Martin’s posts on the initiatives. We agree on about half of the propositions, but have different reasons for agreeing or disagreeing on the rest.

Proposition 30: Voting Yes

Summary: Funds education through a mix of sales and income tax hikes.
This proposition combines a progressive seven-year increase in income tax for those earning over $250,000 with a regressive four-year quater-percent increase in sales tax. I am almost never for regressive taxes as they disproportionately affect the poor, and if it were sales tax alone, I’d vote against it.
Unlike Jim, I do think California needs this to fund education, and the terms of this proposition are less odious than Prop 38, so we will vote yes. Also, Prop 38 only covers K-12 where Prop 30 also covers higher education.

Proposition 31: Voting No

Summary: Changes state budget process.
When you get the California Democratic Party and the East Bay Tea Party to agree that a proposition should be defeated, that’s probably a good sign that the measure is flawed.
The problem is that there’s so many aspects to it, some of which may be good and some of which may be bad, but as a whole it’s just too confused.
Rick says, “This is kind of a whack-job utopian attempt to impose a bunch of expensive reforms on the state budget process, tying the hands of the legislatures.”

Proposition 32: Hell No

Summary: Limits the ability of unions (among others) to contribute to political campaigns.
This is a union-voice-busting measure. Make sure the Koch brothers and their cronies waste their money and vote no.
“This is the third ballot measure in 15 years that businesses have put forth to limit unions’ political fundraising.” Unions spend less money in political contributions than businesses, PACs, and Super PACs, so what’s really being quashed is the voice of the worker.

Proposition 33: No

Summary: Poison pill auto insurance “reform.”
All you really need to know about this one: “Prop. 33 is almost entirely funded by George Joseph, the chairman of Mercury General Corporation, an insurance company. In 2010, Mercury Corporation spent $16 million on a similar measure, Proposition 17, which was defeated. As of late September Joseph had donated $8.4 million to the current campaign.”
While loyalty discounts may seem like a good idea, there are other gotchas that would cost more people more money. Joseph wouldn’t have poured so much into it if it were going to save you money.

Proposition 34: Yes

Summary: Eliminates executions and changes death penalty to life in prison.
Executions are not a deterrent to crime. My sole gripe about this is victim restitution, because I feel that should be a civil, not criminal, matter.
No one should be slated for execution because they stole three golf clubs.

Proposition 35: Hell No

Summary: Attempt to modify California’s already-good human trafficking laws and punish non-trafficked sex workers and their families, all while reducing focus on non-sex-trafficking.
As many of you know, I’m quite anti-trafficking, and have read up on the law here. However, this transforms the existing law, which is about all forms of trafficking, to specifically a law about sexual trafficking. That is far from all the trafficking there is. So, for example, people like Marc and Claire Headley would be less protected under this proposed statute (as their trafficking case did not involve sexual assault) than they were already. Granted, they lost because they were in a religious order, but the point is otherwise valid. Read Claire’s complaint for an example of what non-sexual human trafficking can look like. Is that something you want to protect more of by voting yes here?
Here’s the primary text of the existing law.
The new law’s title is: Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act.
Jim says, and I agree with him, “It’s not clear if this was written by idiots or if the intention was to create a law so vague that it could be exploited throw anyone involved in the computer, entertainment, or bookselling business and their friends and family in prison, but that’s what it does. The stated goals of this proposition are to stop things that are already illegal, and already carry stiff penalties, and then it goes on to strike those penalties and criminal definitions out of the legal code. Even if you’re opposed to all forms of commercialized sex, this proposition is over-broad, unnecessary, and, frankly, dangerous.”
Some of the re-organization of the existing bill makes no sense to me, either. Also, if one’s modifying the section about passports or immigration papers, why not add other documents that affect a person’s mobility, e.g., driver’s license or other identification?
Please also see Nick Mamatas’s commentary on this initiative as he makes some very good points.
Personally, my biggest fear is that this will take funding away from prosecuting the difficult cases and instead prosecuting the low-hanging fruit, leading to even worse trafficking in our state.

Proposition 36: Yes

Summary: Revises the three strikes law to require the third strike to be a serious or violent felony. Other third felonies will be double the typical term.
There’s no reason that, if someone stole three cars (as three separate strikes assuming grand theft auto), they should be doing life in prison.

Proposition 37: Hell Yes

Summary: Requires labeling of genetically engineered foods.
“In 2011, 88 percent of all corn and 94 percent of all soybeans produced in America were grown from genetically engineered (GE) seeds, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Other common GE crops are canola, papaya, sugar beets and zucchini.”
As you know, Bob, soy’s added to most everything that corn isn’t already in. Funny, though, I didn’t know about zucchini.
It’s not that I think all GMO food is bad. I just want the ability to actually determine whether or not that’s what I’m having for dinner.
I have reservations about the wording, but I think it’s a long overdue and necessary start.

Proposition 38: Hell No

Summary: Proposition for Education funding.
(Rick’s description) Molly Munger’s Tax Increases for Early Education and K-12 Alternative to Prop. 30, increases state income tax across the board (not preferentially on the wealthiest Californians) until 2025 to fund K-12 schols and early education programs, but not community colleges. Because this measure would not kick in immediately, the automatic severe cuts to education and public safety programs would trigger for the current budget cycle ($5.9B). Basically, this measure clobbers the middle class.
Hell no.

Proposition 39: Grudging Yes

Summary: Increases Taxes on Multistate Business, Funds Clean Energy.
Rick says: “Tricky measure, changes the way businesses are taxed that operate in multiple states: Currently, such businesses are allowed to choose any of three formulas (allowed to formula-shop) about how to divide their tax burden among the states they operate in. This measure would change
that to percent of sales, which brings California in line with how other states do it. The measure also earmarks up to $550 million annually for five years to fund alternative energy projects, out of additional revenue raised, which is expected to be $1B/year.
“I don’t like the earmark, which has no business being in a ballot proposition — but that’s only for the first five years. The rest of it’s rational and good.”

Proposition 40: Yes

Summary: Referendum: Approves Current State Senate District Boundaries.
Rick says: A ‘yes’ vote keeps State Senate boundary-drawing under the Citizens Redistricting Commission formed a few years ago to end gerrymandering. A ‘no’ vote would move State Senate redistricting to a panel of officials appointed by the California Supreme Court. This measures was
originally sponsored by the California Republican Party, which for some bizarre reason decided they disliked the boundaries drawn by the independent commission.

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In Bruges

09 October 2012

When we were in Bruges, I heard what I thought was a pipe organ and headed for the campanile.
No pipe organ, just some awesome buskers. Enjoy. Sorry about the length of the clip — it had already started before I got there, and I was running out of space on my phone.
I think my single biggest regret of the entire trip is not picking up one of their albums.

Toccata & Fugue, Bruges from Deirdre Saoirse Moen on Vimeo.

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