Zero Dark Thirty.

So, this weekend it was “Zero Dark Thirty,” at an actual cineplex. It became evident very quickly that I wouldn’t “enjoy” this film in the are-you-not-entertained sense of things, so I settled in to watch it with a certain detachment, trying to appreciate what was there to be appreciated. These things include:

Kathryn Bigelow’s always-arresting cinematography, which must have more to do with her than her directors of photography, because she seems to work with different ones on every film, but they all share a certain look. That is to say, very beautiful, with at least one shot or sequence you remember for a long time after — like the opening sequence of “The Hurt Locker,” or, in this film, the raid on the bin Laden compound, seen almost entirely in either underlit moonglow or in the green of the soldiers’ night-vision glasses.

Otherwise, visually, the film seems to consist of 90 percent closeups, usually on Jessica Chastain’s clenching jawline. I’m indebted to David Edelstein for this observation:

There has been speculation that Maya was inspired by the same (covert) CIA agent as Claire Danes’s bipolar Carrie in Homeland. As Mr. Spock would say, “Fascinating.” The parts and actresses could hardly be more different. Danes is a skin actor. She’s soft: You read her pores. Chastain is a muscle and tendons actor: You read the tension in her body.

That’s exactly right. She doesn’t have a lot of lines in this script; you spend many moments watching her eyes scan computer screens or watch a colleague torture detainees. But you never doubt where her head is at, and despite her lack of blah-blah, you can see the change in her from 2003-2011, and it rests almost entirely in her body. Great acting.

The torture. Yes, it’s hard to watch, but it’s presented in such a way that what goes on in these dirty rooms — the Middle East we see resembles a hotter, sun-blasted, better-populated but essentially desert version of Detroit — is just part of what has to happen. Again, Edelstein:

The torture is efficient and gets results. The outcry alluded to over abuses at Abu Ghraib screws up intelligence-gathering. The anti-torture stance of President Obama — who made the hunt for bin Laden a priority after Rumsfeld’s military let him slip out of Tora Bora, and gave the go-ahead to proceed with a mission that could have brought him down the way the catastrophic Iran rescue mission felled Jimmy Carter — is presented (via a TV interview) as an impediment. Dan the ace torturer tells Maya, “You don’t want to be the last one holding a dog collar when the oversight committee comes.” Crap: There go the dog collars.

The best you can do, going in, is be aware you’re being manipulated. This isn’t journalism.

Finally, I liked the way Bigelow avoided the easy audience-pleaser of letting us watch Osama bin Laden take the bullet that splatters his life on the wall. We follow the soldiers into the Abbottabad compound as though we’re the fourth man through the door — the camera jumps, the light is never where we want it, the kids are howling, the women are howling, the shots don’t go blam-blam-blam but pop-pop-pop. In the end, the best we get is an incomplete view of a Semitic nose and a gray beard, and Chastain’s face as she looks at what’s in the body bag. She doesn’t exult; she doesn’t even smile. Like many of us, she seems to know that even though this particular mission is accomplished, the war goes on and on and on.

It occurs to me that this is the second movie I’ve seen in about a year — the other one being “Contagion” — that manages to make problem-solving by smart people interesting and even exciting. The reality-based community shall prevail!

And now, it’s on to pot No. 4 of National Soup Month — roasted sweet potato.

And just one piece of bloggage today. How many of you live in a neighborhood or subdivision with a homeowners’ association? And how many of those homeowners’ associations have been taken over by petty tyrants? If so, you should enjoy this piece by the Evansville Courier, but you should especially enjoy the embedded audio clip of a telephone rant by said tyrant, who wants you to know that if the paper runs this story, there will be a legal lawsuit against them, and he wants to speak to the legal department right now, and rant some more, too.

May the Monday be with you, but not too much so.

Posted at 12:14 am in Movies |

69 responses to “Zero Dark Thirty.”

  1. jcburns said on January 14, 2013 at 2:20 am

    That Homeowner’s Association tyrant is hilarious. The reporter who was able to soberly listen while Reed went on and on and on deserves an award, and maybe should teach a class in how to let someone who is inclined to fume do it without fanning the flames.

    Stuff I’ve read, Nancy, says that Zero Dark Thirty doesn’t really do much to raise reasonable questions about torture. I’ve got a long way to go in my own head before I can sign on to it being a part of “what has to happen.”

    And one final grumpiness: I’m quite tired of Lena Dunham and her fellow daughters of privilege who play, well, daughters of privilege who have (by their standards) really bad days. Please take your Chad Lowe in-jokes and retreat, out of my sight, behind HBO’s paywall.

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  2. Jakash said on January 14, 2013 at 2:32 am

    As for the Golden Globes, I thought the thread-winner, had it been a thread, was Amy Poehler’s early joke about Kathryn Bigelow.

    “Perhaps the biggest laugh came when Poehler spoke about Kathryn Bigelow, who was nominated for her director work on the “Zero Dark Thirty.” Poehler said she hadn’t been following the torture controversy surrounding the film, but that “when it comes to torture, I trust a lady who spent three years married to James Cameron.”

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  3. Jakash said on January 14, 2013 at 2:36 am

    But really, Argo is the Best Drama? I don’t think so. I liked it, but it’s the third best of the three nominees we’ve seen so far, behind Lincoln and ZD30.

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  4. coozledad said on January 14, 2013 at 5:25 am

    That tape explains a lot about Indiana’s recent voting history. Pure hillbilly skuzz with a side of Martin Bormann.
    It would take Samuel Beckett a good three hundred pages to document the yawning emptiness that stretches away into the vast nothing of that sadass.
    And that’s just the chapter about his legal knowledge.

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  5. coozledad said on January 14, 2013 at 5:53 am

    Oh, and this:

    Imagine there’s no crabgrass
    In your neighbor’s lawn
    No pressure treated swingset
    all the gazing balls are gone
    Imagine all the people living just like you

    Imagine there’s no beater
    parked in your neighbor’s drive
    Reducing property value
    It makes you feel alive
    Imagine all the people keeping shit shipshape

    You, you may say
    I’m a dildo, but I’m not the only one
    A Burger King has lost its line boss
    And you’ve signed on to get you one.

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  6. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 14, 2013 at 6:55 am

    I am president of our HOA, not that I have time or inclination or any interest at all in doing this, but simply to keep our four or five (out of 47) homeowner fascist-wannabes from taking over and cutting down 200 year old sycamores because they leaf out late in the season, or putting liens on properties because of lateness of dues paid in full.

    On the other hand, the whole danse macabre with three or four homeowners each year over the dues, and the one or two homes where the residents insist on building up their car collection to five and more with an indeterminate number in working order, etc. gives those smoldering angry embers just enough oxygen to keep on ranting each year’s general meeting about unsightliness and the sacred chant “our property values.” And I’ve been threatened twice in five years with personal litigation over breach of fiduciary responsibility for not being militant enough about trash bins left outside and and poor landscaping choices. So we beat on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly back into the illusory future of the escalating real estate values of the 90’s.

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  7. alex said on January 14, 2013 at 6:57 am

    I am subject to a homeowner’s association. Seats on the board are like hot potatoes and no one in the association is interested in playing the game. I’ve been asked to volunteer a few times but managed to beg off. Fortunately the never-changing board members are constructive people and willing to take on the one duty that no one else wants: Dealing with cranks all the time and being called to mediate ridiculous feuds.

    Much different from the condo association I lived under previously in Chicago. There were plenty of volunteers willing to run but few were successful in their bids to unseat the clique of petty tyrants who ran the place, all retirees. They hired a very gruff property manager to shield themselves from the cranks, and she didn’t have any patience with the cranks and would flat out tell them to fuck themselves, but she’d do the same thing even if you were a normal person coming to her with a legitimate concern. Eventually the old farts were all routed and a new generation of busybodies took their place, but it was a gradual process over the course of the fifteen years I spent there.

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  8. David C. said on January 14, 2013 at 7:04 am

    I was once president of a HOA. It was only 9 houses though. We did one smart thing when we took over from the developer. We went through the rule book and threw 90% of them out. Only the basics were kept: mow the grass, no unlicensed cars, etc. We did have a hard time collecting the dues, but never foreclosed on anyone. It’s just something you don’t do to your neighbors. We has only one serious dues scofflaw who claimed he didn’t have to pay because nobody told him about it when he bought the house, which was nonsense, because we had the paper he signed. In the end, the unpaid dues just went on account and when he sold the house, he had to pay. Which pissed him off royally, but we were rid of him. After my experience, I will never own a home in a HOA.

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  9. Linda said on January 14, 2013 at 7:07 am

    My brother lives in a coop, and the board usually has a fascist or two. One nut had an obsession with people having non-regulation sized patios, and he ran around one day measuring each one. My bro and his then-wife used to keep their gun collection in a locked safe. When a busybody told her that if she planted vegetables in the front yard (taboo) he would rip them up, my brother just turned to her and said in front of the guy, “Honey, you know the combination to the safe.” Nuff said.

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  10. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 14, 2013 at 7:08 am

    Was it fear of litigation that left out the detail I was looking for: how to vote the clown out? Because I guarantee, there’s a way to do that if enough of the neighborhood wants him gone. It might take a full year or two, but that’s always in the covenants and guiding documents. How many, and what process — I’d think that’s a fair issue to publish. Half? Two-thirds?

    Anyhow, you have these problems usually because, vile clown though he is, I guarantee there’s a cadre egging him on in the name of “protect our property values.”

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  11. nancy said on January 14, 2013 at 7:20 am

    JC, I said the torture was presented as such, not that I was on board. It was hard to watch.

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  12. Dorothy said on January 14, 2013 at 9:00 am

    I have only seen Argo, Lincoln and ZD30 of the nominated movies and I am thrilled that Argo won the top award last night. I thought it moved at an amazing pace, and I was literally on the edge of my seat through much of the movie. (Really, I sat on the edge with chin on my hands!) Tina Fey and Amy Poehler should host again. And again. They were fabulous. Now I’m looking forward to Tom and Lorenzo’s commentary on the fashions.

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  13. Julie Robinson said on January 14, 2013 at 9:18 am

    No HOA here, and property values have deteriorated along with the neighborhood. I’m not sure it matters too much since I don’t see home ownership as the goal for many in our kids’ generation.

    We’ve been too busy for many movies recently and have only seen Lincoln and Les Mis. But I loved Tina and Amy, and that they weren’t afraid of a few Gervais-like (Gervaisian?) zingers. And forgive me, I was dozing off, but did Jody Foster both come out and retire at the same time?

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  14. brian stouder said on January 14, 2013 at 9:40 am

    Julie, I couldn’t quite figure out Ms Foster’s speech, either – other than that she seemed to be saying that she’ll be very (very) picky about any future endeavors.

    Aside from that, I was wondering what Nance’s Tom & Lorenzo will say about that red dress with the Who-ville style breast coverage….can’t recall who was wearing it? It was a blonde who won an award.

    Plus, the censor/editor/blipper people were working overtime, and I thought it was somewhat petty to show the over-the-speaker’s-shoulder camera angle; toward the audience and the flashing red “WRAP IT UP” sign.

    Anyway, I was happy to see Les Mis do so well, and I was especially happy to see Ms Hathaway graciously acknowledge Sally Field’s work on Lincoln.

    I may catch Zero Dark when it hits the Red Box; but I’m almost certain to miss Mr Tarantino’s Django (just sayin’)

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  15. Jakash said on January 14, 2013 at 10:43 am

    “the Who-ville style breast coverage” I thought I was pretty familiar with the Grinch story, Brian, but what style of breast coverage is featured in Whoville does not immediately come to mind, I gotta say.

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  16. Bitter Scribe said on January 14, 2013 at 10:43 am

    I’m president of my condo building and so far have been spared most of the travails detailed above. The only irritations are one guy who seems to think I’m responsible for everything that happens there (he complained once he thought a skunk had sprayed the doorway. What was I supposed to do, come over and scrub everybody there with tomato juice?) and a woman who gets excessively “helpful.” Once she misread a painting bid, contacted a painting contractor on her own and got a “lower” bid that was actually higher.

    Oddly enough, those are the only two in the building younger than I am. I get along just great with the so-called old farts, which is perhaps a sign that I’m becoming one myself.

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  17. Dorothy said on January 14, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Forgot to ask if you’ve made that particular soup recipe before or is it a first attempt? We cooks might need to ask you for the recipe. The Kenyon Inn had Apple Cheddar Butternut Squash soup one day last week. I wasn’t really keen to try it but the day I bought lunch from there for take out, they coaxed me to have it as my side dish. I’m glad I tried it – it was scrumptious! Just thought I’d mention this in case anyone wants to Google those ingredients and find a gem recipe.

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  18. brian stouder said on January 14, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Jackash – the one on the left (so to speak) looked to me like a designer who actually doesn’t like the person who wears it

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  19. MichaelG said on January 14, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Thank goodness I’m not subject to a HOA. That Hess guy was too funny.

    Maybe one of you newspaper people can explain. The SacBee has a column headline on the front page this AM that reads: “France jets hit Islamist havens”. Why ‘France’ and not ‘French’?

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  20. Catherine said on January 14, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Brian, that’s Jennifer Lawrence, aka Katniss, though she’s there for Silver Linings Playbook. I’m stunned that your daughters haven’t dragged you to The Hunger Games.

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  21. Catherine said on January 14, 2013 at 11:00 am

    And, yes, the dress is weird.

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  22. brian stouder said on January 14, 2013 at 11:05 am

    Could be a sentence from a pulp-fiction love scene:

    “And then, with ardent desperation and passionate abandon, Lujah unleashed french jets upon Kardawiyah’s Islamist havens”

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  23. brian stouder said on January 14, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Oh – they dragged me there alright; and indeed, I liked that movie.

    Last night we tuned in for the red carpet pre-show, and that was suitably entertaining, and all a blur of familiar faces and unique clothing.

    Pam’s pet peeve are those strapless dressed wherein the women invariably hike the thing up at least once or twice

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  24. adrianne said on January 14, 2013 at 11:17 am

    I thought Amy and Tina were hilarious co-hosts – especially when they appeared with cocktails after losing the best actress/TV comedy series to Lena Dunham. She didn’t bug me too much, seemed genuinely thankful for getting the award and gave shout-outs to everybody. But she’s got to lose the upper-body tattoos!

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  25. Prospero said on January 14, 2013 at 11:43 am

    HOA types, the theme song. Condo HOA’s must be the worst, particularly where a large number of the actual property owners are absentee. I’ve had my battles with ’em, particularly over paying for full time security that has managed to let five of my bikes get stolen in ten years. I’ve put them on legal notice, next one is on them. It’s the past officers that are the worst. They call the HOA office constantly with complaints. Worst of all, they do a poor job of publishing the “rules” After renovating our place, we bought custom bamboo blinds to complement our bamboo flooring. I started getting messages that there is an HOA rule that window treatments visible from outsiide must be white, always prefaced by the infuriating phrase “as you know”. I didn’t know anything of the sort, despite having kept in touch with the HOA through an entire month of reno work. I was told we had ten days to “change” the blinds to white, or face a $50/day fine. I called bullshit and we hung some white sheers between the shades and the window panes.

    We went through a period of corrupt management a few years ago that tried to foist outdoor building renovation requiring a soft-coat stucco installation for a $few mill, that would have doubled the regime for two years. In my opinion, this was a terrible idea, because the finish system is notorious for easily being damaged and the project cost was excessive. The actual EIFS system proposed and the installer from which the non-competitive bid had been obtained were the defendants in two class action lawsuitsI got a friend that works for a competitor company to tot up a thumbnail estimate for a far more reliable product which came to about 1/4 of what the HOA was proposing. I took a sample of the proposed material to the HOA annual meeting and dented it with a tossed softball, and suggested there was something screwy about the whole deal. Nipped that shit in the bud.

    Strange thing is, I get along with all of the current HOA types, meretriciously officious as they can be. I did get a strange response when I suggested setting up a bike share as a means of cutting back on bike thefts. Like I was some sorta commoniss.

    Reading about HOAs and covenants and codicils always reminds me of Milhous’ pal Rehnquist, who managed to get to be Chief Justice despite having purchased a vacation home the deed for which enjoined him from future sale of the preoperty to members of the Hebrew race. Ol’Bill claimed they slipped that one by him. One way or another that should have kept that bastard of the SC:

    I recently saw a photo on the net of a house painted with an American flag motif after he was prohibited from flyin a flag or something. The whole subject also reminds me of an excellent X-Files episode in which Mulder and Scully went undercover in a gated community called Arcadia. Abraham Benrubi was in it (Kubiac from the late, great Parker Lewis Can’t Lose.)

    Lady Edith, on the other hand, always loses. I almost called that, but I figured Old Fart Anthony was going to give up the ghost, which would probably have suited Edith perfectly.

    Howard Stern has taken to the webs to complain about Lena Dunham’s naked appearances on TV. Damn Howard, you own a mirror? You look like Slash’s homely brother. I watched Season 1 of Girls in the interest of domestic tranquility, and I can’t say I like it, although it’s occasionally funny. But the last time a TV show had so many characters I’d never want to spend a minute with was Seinfeld, and the Girls (with the exception of neurotic as hell Shoshonna) are obnoxious as shit in the same way Jerry, George and Elaine were.

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  26. Kirk said on January 14, 2013 at 11:49 am

    “I’m livid with you.”?? What a turd.

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  27. Dexter said on January 14, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Oh boy oh boy oh boy! Great news:

    Detroitblogger John Carlisle reports:

    “Big news! I am joining the Detroit Free Press as a features columnist. I’ll essentially be doing what I’ve been doing for the past five years for detroitblog and the Metro Times, but now my beat will be not just Detroit, but the entire state as well (watch out, you Iron Mountain dive bars!) Look for my first stories in the next couple of weeks. And thanks as always for reading!”

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  28. Judybusy said on January 14, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    We skipped the GG in favor of a special on Chatsworth and then Downton Abbey. I’m really squeamish about scenes with intimate violence, so won’t be watching Zero Dark Thirty.

    I could never live in a place with a HOA–and rules. I like to be able to do whatever I wish with my yard/garden. There are, of course, city rules, but I’m well within the bounds. I’ve been very fortunate with my neighbors, too. No cranks on the block, and in fact, quite wonderful people.

    I hope the next two weeks are fun around here–we’re leaving for Puerto Rico tomorrow, so see all of you on the flip side!

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  29. nancy said on January 14, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    OK, I scanned a bunch of Golden Globes gown pictures during lunch. (The soup was a little disappointing, but still good.) Verdict: Lena Dunham’s tattoos are fucking ghastly. So are 90 percent of all of the others, but if you’re going to have a big, complicated ink snarl on your shoulder AND you’re invited to a formal event, either cover it with makeup or wear a sleeve. Her “look at me, I’m a big girl and I do nudity” act is getting tiresome. Although I like “Girls.”

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  30. Dexter said on January 14, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    hey jc…I panicked when I read the Homeland Security warning telling us to immediately disable Java and Java updates, and I already uninstalled all of it…did I do wrong?

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  31. alex said on January 14, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Only tuned in and out of the Globes, but I did happen to catch Jennifer Lawrence receiving her award and the picture Brian linked to above doesn’t even do the dress justice. I can see why someone might call it a Dr. Seuss creation. The boobage portion of it really was weird, sort of like Madonna’s silver dunce caps from her Blonde Ambition tour.

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  32. Jeff Borden said on January 14, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    I still think a growth industry in the next several years will be tattoo removal services. I’m not ashamed to admit I don’t understand the tattoo sub-culture or the whole piercing thing for that matter, but I’ve long subscribed to the theory that every generation finds its own way to piss off the generation before it.

    One thing I’d never thought of regarding tattoos is that they need to be recolored every so often. One of my former coworkers –a really lovely woman with a big-ass angel tattooed on her back– came into the office thrilled a few years back because for Christmas her husband had given her the money to have her elaborate design reinked.

    One of my very best friends from Charlotte, who is now retired and enjoying a life of leisure, laments his lost status as an edgy guy. He’s had tattoos since the `60’s and an earring since the late `70s, but now all the guys have them, LOL. He now looks like an elderly dude trying to keep up with the young ‘uns.

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  33. Jakash said on January 14, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    I’m not in the target demo for tattoos, so, though I found them repellent, my reaction was mainly “Kids, these days.” My primary concern was with Ms. Dunham’s shoes, which I never saw. She walked as if she had two broken ankles. (Or was the dress somehow responsible for that? Or is she actually handicapped? — I know nothing about her.) I don’t recall ever being in more suspense as to whether a winner would make it up to and then off the stage without falling down.

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  34. Heather said on January 14, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Yes, definitely make sure you can walk in a dress before wearing it outside. I liked the color of Lena’s gown but I wished she would stand up straight.

    I noticed a lot of long-sleeved dresses even on younger people, an elegant choice. Maybe because it was so chilly in LA? I especially liked Savannah Guthrie’s purple version. (No cable here so I watched NBC’s red carpet coverage.)

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  35. Dorothy said on January 14, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    My theory is that Ms. Dunham wore shoes that had incredibly high heels, and she was unfamiliar with walking in them. I thought they were going to have to bring in a crane to hoist her up on the stage, she was teetering so badly.

    My favorite anti-tattoo story: My niece saw my brother-in-law’s rose tattoo on his arm back in 1980 or so. She was 5. “What’s that?” she asked. Answer: A picture of a rose. “How did it get there?” A man put it on there. “Why didn’t you get out of his way?!”

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  36. Prospero said on January 14, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Silver Linings Playbook is a very, very good movie.

    Howard Stern and Slash: proof Cousin Itt was not a virgin.

    It’s time to start booting some states the hell out of the Union.

    Poehler calling ex-President Clinton “Hillary Clinton’s husband” was pretty damned funny. The Tina and Amy show is an absolute class act. The crack about Anne Hathaway being bereft on stage alone with James Franco was right on the money. That guy rises to douch-levels only attained by John Mayer and Russell Brand, and, I suppose, Ricky Gervais and Larry David. I’ve always wondered why anybody would give Ricky G. a moment’s attention when there is a perfectly good Eddie Izzard in the world of show business.

    Jakash@33: In Ms. Dunham’s case, that would be cankles. But I thought she looked very nice compared to her schlubby self on her TV show, despite the awful tat.

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  37. nancy said on January 14, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    Stop with the cankles cracks. Some women are larger than others, and thank God for that — I think Anne Hathaway looks skeletal. I know she lost weight for her part in Les Miz, but honestly, she needs to eat a sandwich.

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  38. coozledad said on January 14, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Tats are a total crapshoot, anyway. Even an accomplished neorealist has his off days.

    I think he confused “mommy’s finger” with “baby’s head”.

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  39. Scout said on January 14, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    Tattoo removal is already a thing. We have giant billboards in Phoenix advertising a certain Dr. Tattoff. I guess I sound like an old fuddy duddington saying that I think ink is ugly and looks especially stupid on middle aged women. But it is and it does.

    I used to be on the board of an HOA and trust me, it is thankless. There are always way too many big mouths who think they could do it so much better but refuse to step up to serve. We no longer live in that community and have no HOA where we are, which I much prefer. We own a rental house in an HOA neighborhood, though, and we are constantly being harrassed by the nazi property manager who seems to hate the fact our house is occupied by renters even though our tenants are a quiet Mormon couple with two toddlers who keep the place immaculate. We get at least one letter a month complaining that the couple had overnight company and a car parked on the street or a blade of grass is too long or they left their trash can out two hours too long. It’s always something. I f’ing hate that guy. My overall assessment is that HOAs can be a good thing, but most of the time they are a pain in the ass.

    We missed the GGs last night and it sounds like it would have been worth watching just for Amy and Tina alone. I’m glad Argo won. We liked it so much we saw it twice. The second time was only slightly less nerve wracking. The tension was all psychological, there was almost no actual violence in the movie. Very well done.

    Because of the torture scenes, I doubt ZD30 is for me. The torture scenes were the reason I didn’t like Slumdog Millionaire as much as I might have.

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  40. paddyo' said on January 14, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    I’m with Jakash on the wobbly Dunham thing. As we watched the Globes, we wondered why she didn’t just shed the shoes altogether once she was at her table in the dining room/awards hall. It’s not like bare feet were going to show beneath the gown when she walked up to accept her awards. It was painful to watch, especially the second time. And aren’t the Globes the ONE show where (thanks I guess to bottomless bottles of champagne) the participants are basically encouraged to break with the stuffy tradition of the other (I’m talking to YOU, Oscars) awards shows?

    As for tats, I was blessed at birth with an unusually large “port wine stain” birthmark that reaches from the knuckle of my right thumb up my arm and over the shoulder. I never gave it a thought and don’t recall any childhood teasing; I’ve always been proud of it. Interestingly, unknowing folks who think perhaps I was the victim of a fire will not inquire — but often they have shushed their kids who, understandably, have stared, then pointed and asked, “What’s THAT on your arm?” I’d smile and explain nicely and then parents would be relieved.

    Now I sometimes say, “Oh, it’s a tattoo that my parents gave me before I was born.”

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  41. nancy said on January 14, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    One of the prettiest girls in my high school had a port wine stain that stretched from one cheekbone down her neck. I always thought it made her really interesting, and she never lacked for male attention.

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  42. Sherri said on January 14, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    We live in a neighborhood with a HOA, but my interactions with the HOA have been pretty reasonable. We got all the mailboxes in the community replaced with locking mailboxes soon after we moved in, but that was opt-in, you weren’t required to do it. (We did, it’s really convenient not to have to remember to stop mail delivery is you leave town for a few days.) The only other interaction with the HOA was over having our roof replaced. The original roofs in the neighborhood were cedar shake, which are expensive to put on and maintain and only last about 20 years in our climate, but the original CC&R’s require cedar shake. You have to get HOA approval for anything else, but the board has come up with a list of pre-approved materials and colors which were quite reasonable.

    I lived both with an HOA and without, and not having an HOA doesn’t protect you from the neighbor who wants to “protect property values.” They just use city ordinances rather than CC&R’s to harass people.

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  43. Prospero said on January 14, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Sorry Nancy, but I would have no idea what “cankles” even means if I hadn’t seen it on this blog, and not from a male commenter, either. And I did complement how she looked in her GG dress. I have observed that Ms. Dunham describes her own ankles with that word, and she certainly plays up that portion of her anatomy in dressing Hannah.

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  44. jcburns said on January 14, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    The Java thing: Oracle (these days, the proprietor of the Java plugins that show up in your browser) pushed out an update on Sunday the 13th that fixes the vulnerability. Folks with Macs who have modern-ish versions of the OS found that the Java plugin was (remotely) disabled by Apple pretty much the moment the vulnerability was discovered last week. And now if Mac users click on the ‘inactive plug-in’ thing they get the newest and the latest from Oracle. Is Java safe? It’s kind of a complicated issue, because there are those experts who say that Java has a raft of core-level vulnerabilities that this latest fix kinda duct-tapes over. And you notice how I used the word “vulnerability” several times back there? Well, that can mean about a zillion things with modern operating systems and browsers, but it starts with you, the human, clicking and authorizing and saying “yes” here and “please go right ahead” there and then and only then if someone has placed an exploit out there, it might, um, do nasty stuff from your machine in the background. That’s really way different from your computer being plunged into instant darkness or serfdom.
    But asking that question is a good idea: Do you need Java? For most people, increasingly, the answer is NO. (Just like Adobe Flash is becoming less and less useful as a plugin.) Maybe just to play that sudoku game you’re addicted to?

    Oh, and one more thing, Java has NOTHING TO DO with JavaScript, despite the unfortunate name-sharing.

    JavaScript is pretty darn secure and an essential part of your modern browser’s path toward presenting you with stuff from the Internet.

    Happy motoring!

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  45. basset said on January 14, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Pros, I share your ignorance on that topic.

    Meanwhile, a doggy birthmark, actually a mutation:

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  46. brian stouder said on January 14, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    So today I learned the word “cankle”!

    The ‘ankle’ part I could understand, but it took Uncle Google to inform me where the ‘c’ came from (calf-into-ankle)

    Men with ear hairs bother me (and we’ll skip right past nose-hair); what should we call that?

    I mean, I’ve seen guys who reminded me of one of those Buick Electra Deuce & a quarters, with curb-feelers….but we digress

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  47. Brandon said on January 14, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Should Osama have been captured and put on trial instead of being killed on the spot?

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  48. Bitter Scribe said on January 14, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    Brandon: Why are you linking to some stupid thing Ron Paul said more than six months ago?

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  49. Julie Robinson said on January 14, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    It’s good to know I’m not the only one who thinks tattoos and formal wear aren’t a good mix; I’d been feeling very old-lady-judgmental about it. And forget Anne Hathaway’s skinny body, what about Claire Danes? She gave birth on Dec. 17, and she’s in a skimpy evening gown with no pudginess at all. Unfair!

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  50. Prospero said on January 14, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Does Ron Paul actually know anything more than anybody else about what happened in Abbotobad?

    Who knew Maureen Dowd knows football:

    If I want to see self-serving behavior, warped decision-making, dangerous rationalizations and chuckleheads mortgaging the future, I can go back to watching Congress.

    Makes me wonder about the short careers of Terrell Davis and Olandis Gary playing for Shanahan.

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  51. alex said on January 14, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    I think Ron Paul ought to be captured and put on trial for naming his son Rand.

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  52. MarkH said on January 14, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Nancy —

    Will you be tripping down to the Detroit Auto Show and provide us with your usual great selection pics with the NN interpretation? Inquiring motorheads want to know.

    JC, thanks for the Java explanation. You more than earned today’s pay.

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  53. nancy said on January 14, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    I’ll be there Friday night for car prom, i.e., the charity preview. Will take my camera. Otherwise, my connection to the car show this week is to buck up my husband, who left the house at 6 a.m. today and isn’t expected back until…well, well after 6 p.m. today.

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  54. Heather said on January 14, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Julie–same thing with Megan Fox! I think she had a baby three months ago and she was all svelte. Talk about setting unrealistic standards in people’s heads. I know it’s their job to be in shape, but geez.

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  55. MarkH said on January 14, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Prospero, Shanahandjob can go to hell.

    He rightfully is being held to account for RG3’s injury aggrivation. And it’s my view that, yes, he’s done it before. Davis especially was a gifted athlete and there was talk around Denver about his role in playing him injured until he actually broke. It’s also my view that he was hellbent on doing the same thing to Jake Plummer as a way to get him out of there and make way for Jay Cutler. Toward the end of the 2006 season, the Bronco OL clearly refused to protect Plummer, ensuring his ineffectiveness. It came to a head at the final KC game when they had a shouting match on the sideline and Jake was out after being allowed to get pummeled. A lot of good it did the Broncos. Cutting no slack for Mike here, obviously.

    paddyo’ was there then as well; his view may vary.

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  56. nancy said on January 14, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    When I was post-natal, the doctor said nine months to gain the weight, nine months to lose it, but then, I didn’t have a hit cable series to support, either. I doubt Claire Danes is breastfeeding.

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  57. Prospero said on January 14, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Can’t believe I typed the wrong compliment a while back.

    I do get what’s to like about Girls, aned Dunham writes scenes that crack me the hell up, but the characters for the most part make the bunch Seinfeld and David put on TV seem guileless, involved and not self-centered at all in comparison. Zoisia Mamet’s Shoshonna excepted. If a character can be delightfully neurotic, i.e. Virgil Starkwell or Fielding Mellish as opposed to Alvy Singer, that’s Sho:

    The crack accident in the Bushwick episode was hilarious.

    Alex@51: Or for giving birth to the AquaBuddha. I sincerely hope nobody is telling Rep. Loose Lips Gramps classified information. That’s as bad an idea as Bachmann knowing shit that should be secret, like the identities of the Muslim infiltrators.

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  58. Prospero said on January 14, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    GGs fashion note: Victor Garber’s purple tie ruled.

    Here’s what I’d really like to see at the AutoShow in Detroit:

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  59. Deborah said on January 14, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    What is this Java thing of which you speak JC? Did Apple announce a problem or something? I haven’t heard anything about it except for here. Since our TV isn’t hooked up for anything but watching DVDs I didn’t see the GG last night, but I did look at the photos of the gowns. I like the way Helena Bonham Carter looked. She looks artsy and interesting to me.

    Our neighbors in Abiquiu had an HOA for awhile, it was a fiasco,eventually everyone hated everyone else, they decided to disband it. It was all because of one guy too, the scourge of the community. His house has been up for sale since then, thank goodness. We didn’t have a house on our property yet so we didn’t have to deal with the stinking mess, I never want to have anything to do with an HOA.

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  60. Basset said on January 14, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    Pros, I would disagree with the Athens article about ” The Corvette’s been a favorite of adrenaline junkies for 60 years”… The first ones were dog slow, “Blue Flame” six-cylinder and a two-speed Powerglide.
    No desire to own a Vette myself, and apparently I’m in their main target demo.

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  61. Prospero said on January 14, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    Basset: My interest was piqued by the idea of a Vette that gets 30 mpg. That is a rare indication of sanity in American automotive circles.

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  62. MarkH said on January 14, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    For a long time, the Corvette was rated at 28 mpg highway, but it appears that number was (like most EPA mileage ratings) a little bogus.

    GM has long threatened to produce a mid-engine ‘vette, thereby quashing any debate about which American sports car handled best. A number of design exercises and prototypes have been produced over the years, but alas, the C7 (for Corvette generation 7) does not deliver. It’s easy to see why, cost being a factor especially with GM’s recent financial issues. Here, the price stays low and die-hard front-engine fans still have a car with amazing handling.

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  63. del said on January 14, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    I second Brandon’s query. Always gotta consider the possibility of a trial, it’s the decent thing.

    Beware of Condominium Associations whose bylaws allow special assessments for attorney fees.

    A lawyer may talk his way into being hired by the Board with the pitch that his fees will be shared by all the co-owners. When the fees turn out to be higher than anticipated, sometimes much higher, the lawyer then liens the units of nonpaying owners, as permitted by the bylaws.

    In one case I know of those fees amounted to $9,000 per condo owner (to resolve a lake use ordinance).

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  64. MaryRC said on January 14, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    Heather, at least Claire Danes admitted when she was being interviewed backstage that she was wrapped in layers of Spanx. She said she was so strapped into her dress that she would have to take it off in order to go to the bathroom. She also admitted that she worried all night about leakage.

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  65. basset said on January 14, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    >>the idea of a Vette that gets 30 mpg

    About time, if you ask me. I have driven a Vette once, across the parking lot at the factory in Kentucky… despite being a mid-50s male, if I was gonna spend $49,600 on a car I’d spend it on… well, actually, I wouldn’t. Probably use it on guitars, cameras, and travel.

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  66. alex said on January 14, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    I second Brandon’s query. Always gotta consider the possibility of a trial, it’s the decent thing.

    Now this is some Monday morning quarterbacking to beat all. Let me be equally ridiculous in saying that it’s a good thing that this didn’t transpire because what if some lib jury acquitted the motherfucker?

    All’s fair in love and war.

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  67. del said on January 14, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    I didn’t say a trial was called for Alex, just that the possibility of a trial should always be considered. And no, not a jury trial, a military tribunal. Of course “military justice” is an oxymoron, so there you go.

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  68. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 14, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    It sounds pretty clear that Claire Danes is breastfeeding from her comments to Extra!, and I was not in control of the remote when I learned that, seriously.

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  69. Brandon said on January 15, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    I wonder if Osama were captured and tried right after the September 11 attacks, how many lives could have been saved.

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