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MovieLog: The Terminal

The Terminal

While I’ve pretty much managed to repress Always, and have never had the misfortune of seeing Hook or 1941, it would seem to me that The Terminal may very well be Steven Spielberg’s worst movie. While the film wants us to root for a number of its characters, most of them are so annoying that’s it’s very difficult to do so. That’s not even touching the situations they find themselves in and the decisions they make. The movie tries to play everything straight, but it comes off as contrived and ridiculous.

On the bright side, the set is pretty cool, but the fact one has to reach for something like that suggests the movie probably isn’t worth seeing. 4/10.

Posted in MovieLog at 11:54 pm

MovieLog: Inside Man


Inside Man probably could’ve been tightened up a bit, but overall was a pretty enjoyable twist on the bank robbery convention. The acting was very solid—Jodi Foster specifically put in an excellent performance—and the characters were generally interesting and believable. In typical Spike Lee fashion, there were plenty of bigoted white characters, although in this case they were pretty much restricted to those in the NYPD. The movie also had a very good look, and although this probably doesn’t matter to many, from a graphic design stantpoint the opening credits were downright sexy. 7/10.

Posted in MovieLog at 11:21 pm

Items Noted Elsewhere: Local Media Edition

Posted in Items Noted Elsewhere at 10:48 pm

Jane Jacobs, 1916-2006


Jane Jacobs died this morning at the age of 89. Her passing is an incredible loss for cities and those who care about them.

(And yes, I’m a bit weirded out by the fact that just yesterday I wrote a brief entry on The Death and Life of Great American Cities.)

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:05 pm

Items Noted Elsewhere: Jane Jacobs Edition

Posted in Items Noted Elsewhere at 11:05 pm

BookLog: The Death and Life of Great American Cities


Jane Jacob’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities is one of those books I’d always meant to get around to reading, and now that I’ve done so, I thoroughly regret not doing so earlier. I have a few quibbles with it–while I agree that odd intersections make things interesting, I believe the grid is one of the greatest features of American cities–but for the most part find it a fantastic work, and highly recommend it to anyone curious about how effective large cities grow and thrive.

Much of the recent criticism I’ve read of the book and Jacob’s philosophy centers around the belief that her ideas are outdated, that they were OK for a half century ago but aren’t really relevant to a society where people move around a lot, cities are increasingly losing families for young couples and empty-nesters, and industrial jobs are replaced by knowledge or service work. At best I think these criticisms are missing the point, at worst I think those pushing them are being disingenuous. (While I have seen academic criticism, most of it has come from news articles where some developer or architect is justifying some huge development project they’re involved in.)  If a city does turn into a place that’s just for the wealthy, retired, or young and childless, how can it retain the mix of life and cultures that made people want to move there in the first place? This book better illustrates than anything else that I’ve read that a disappearance of families, children, or industry is not just a demographic shift that should just be accepted but a serious warning sign that demands attention.


For what it’s worth, I’ve found that this book works nicely with How Buildings Learn by Stewart Brand, in which Brand explains in detail the value of the kinds of buildings Jacobs frequently spends time defending. It also works well with a trip to Toronto, arguably the most effective large city in North America, which happens to be the place Jacobs currently calls home.

Posted in BookLog at 7:25 pm

Journal for 23 April 2006


This weekend fell somewhere between the “lazy” and “busy” categories. Original plans called for me finally getting around to buying a bike, but I decided to try to retrieve my old one from a former residence instead. That process is still ongoing, but if nothing comes of it by Friday, we’ll probably go the new bike route.

On Saturday Lisa and I caught a movie at the mega mall, followed by a thoroughly disappointing dinner at the Highland Grill in St. Paul. Today we headed up to Interstate Park—the Minnesota side—for three hours of hiking. There was the small issue of the under-construction trail that wasn’t labeled as such (although there was a sign stating “rock face unstable” at the end of the trail), but aside from that it was pretty good afternoon.


Every year there’s always a week where spring finally announces itself, where the leaves on the trees finally overpower their branches and the grass decides it’s going to be green regardless of what’s thrown at it. I think this past week was that week.

That said, there’s a chance of freezing weather tomorrow night, so maybe I’m being a bit premature.

Posted in Journal at 11:13 pm

Journal for 19 April 2006


It seems I’m behind on everything these days.


Lisa parents were up this past weekend. It was good to see them, show them the condo and take them around the neighborhood. To some extent the weekend turned into an unintentional restaurant tour, with the four of us hitting Ike’s, JP American Bistro and Figlio’s, with Lisa and her folks also managing to squeeze in Cafe Latte Saturday afternoon. Needless to say, everyone was pretty full by the time the weekend was over, and in retrospect Easter Bruch at Figlio’s was probably unnecessary. The food was good, though, and Don and Ann seemed to like everything, especially JP.

On Saturday Lisa’s dad and I visited the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting in St. Louis Park while Lisa took her mom shopping in Edina. I had a bad feeling about the Pavek Museum as soon as I saw it–it’s housed in an utterly nondescript building in the middle of a small industrial park–but we got there just in time for a guided tour, and it actually turned out to be pretty interesting. If you’re a broadcast nerd, I’d recommend paying it a visit. (If you’re not, maybe wait until you can visit with someone who is.) Beyond that, Lisa gave the requisite work tour on Saturday, and the four of us toured the Minneapolis park system on Sunday. In all, a good weekend.


I hope my parents will be able to travel up to see the house sometime, but due to my dad’s health, and his associated troubles traveling, that may not happen in the near future, if it happens at all. I’m not mad about that or anything, of course–his health is obviously much more important, and I’d never want him to do anything to jeopardize that–but I am kind of saddened that he may never see our first place.

Posted in Journal at 11:42 pm

Journal for 13 April 2006


What a crazy day. Lisa’s car keys somehow made their way into my backpack this morning, resulting in a doubled commute and a lot of frantic phone calls. Toss in an 80+ degree afternoon and windows at home missing their bug (or, in our case, kitty) screens, and I’m pretty much ready to write off the day as a loss.

Up tomorrow: Six hours of meetings. Up this weekend: Lisa’s parents visting from Madison, plus some holiday I haven’t celebrated in a long, long time.

Posted in Journal at 11:34 pm

Journal for 11 April 2006


Kind of a rough day financially. I finally start to get caught up on everything, and then I get hit by scheduled maintenance on the Saturn equivalent to 1/10th of the purchase price. Crikey.

(Yes, I knew the maintenance was coming. What I didn’t know was that my car didn’t have brakes.)

Posted in Journal at 10:17 pm
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