Living Liberally's blog

Ladies, gentlemen, treat yourself…. to Date Night

By Bec Zajac

Okay, I’m going to admit it--my dirty little secret, something I’ve been struggling with for a long time that I just can’t hide anymore: I like romantic comedies. I really do. I see them early. I see them often. I get excited when I hear there’s a new one coming out. And when Sandra Bullock won an Academy Award, goddamnit, I even cried a little!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to defend all that’s problematic about films in the “romcom genre”. And believe me, I know there’s a lot: they reinforce gender stereotypes, they promote hetero-normative paradigms, they idolize marriage; and, yes, I agree, every time J-Lo does another movie, a baby angel loses its wings.

But even with all its problems, for some reason, the romantic comedy keeps drawing me back in. Even though, after seeing one I tread a fine line between feeling warm and fuzzy inside, and seething with rage and self-hatred, I keep taking that chance. So lately, I’ve asked myself: Why? Why the hell do I keep seeing these terrible, sexist movies over and over again?

More After the Jump....

Kick off Earth Day the Lazy Way: By Watching PBS!

By Bec Zajac

This earth day, PBS is screening its incredibly engaging and moving documentary feature, American Experience: Earth Days, directed by Robert Stone. As you might guess, it is about the creation of earth day, the first of which was the largest national demonstration in American history, involving a record 20 million people in events around the country! I watched Earth Days on my Netflix ‘watch instantly’ (it is streaming both on Netflix and on the PBS site) and found it to be a fabulous way to both ease myself into the spirit of the day and learn about its significance. Moving beyond discussions of Earth Day demonstrations themselves, the film really tells the story of the birth of the environmental movement and its many accomplishments during its early years.

What was most surprising to me about the film was how similar contemporary conversations in regards to global warming, conservation, renewable energy, sustainability, innovative technology, and reducing carbon emissions are to discussions that took place during the movement's pioneering days. Far from being simply a nostalgic historical narrative, Earth Days offers a refreshing lens through which to look at the current debate, as it is told from the perspective of a group of incredibly articulate folks who have been thinking about these concepts for the last 40 years.



The film follows the personal stories of several leading figures in the early movement—among them Former Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, biologist/Population Bomb author Paul Ehrlich, Whole Earth Catalog founder Stewart Brand, Apollo Nine astronaut Rusty Schweickart, renewable energy pioneers Hunter Lovins and Dennis Hayes, Republican Congressman, Pete McCloskey, and environmental journalist, Stephanie Mills. It begins with each one discussing their formative years and is brought to life by the accompaniment of brilliant archival footage. We watch video footage of fifties TV commercials for cars and new appliances; the early nuclear tests; the launch of the interstate highway system; Rachel Carson’s book launch; and the one-mile-long gas lines during the 1973 oil crisis. Not to mention the images of the breathtaking natural landscapes that inspired these activists to begin with.

As one listens to these prolific folks wax lyrical about what events most influenced their early decisions and were crucial to the formation of their ideologies, it is difficult to not be somewhat mesmerized by their passion, thoughtfulness, and compassion for the world around them. Each one is an accomplished storyteller, and each brings something unique to our understanding of the era. Steward Udall discusses his upbringing during the depression, a time when he learned to live simply and get sustenance from the earth, and when, he says, people were conservationists because they had to be. For Stephanie Mills it was the nuclear bomb that made her realize that humanity's survival was now in its own hands.

For many of these activists who grew up in the fifties with the idea that progress was everything and the idea that more material goods meant more happiness, their environmentalism grew out of disillusionment with the ideology of the time. Incredibly, despite the fact that it is now 30 years later, and the world is a very different place, many of their thoughts could apply to the ideology of today, and much of their disillusionment is the same disillusionment being felt by our generation.

More after the jump...

Call for Submissions: Netroots Nation Screening Series!!!

By Bec Zajac

Are you a filmmaker looking to share your work with a progressive audience? Looking for ways to promote your film among the liberal grassroots community? If so, Screening Liberally and Netroots Nation want to see your stuff!

For the third year in a row, Screening Liberally will be the proud host of the Netroots Nation Screening Series. We are currently calling for submissions for Netroots Nation 2010, coming to Las Vegas in July.

The deadline has been extended to Tuesday, April 6th! Time is running out; submit your film for Netroots Nation 2010.

Click here for submission instructions: http://ow.ly/1th08

More info after the jump!

Up in the Air, Down in the Dumps

By Bec Zajac

You know that feeling you get when you walk into a Starbucks that makes you cringe? And it’s not because your coffee’s not good or because the music is bad or because people aren’t friendly to you. Actually all those elements have been designed through extensive psychological testing to provide the perfect “coffee experience.” It’s because you just know somewhere deep in your gut that there’s something not quite right about it. I got an especially bad case of the “cringes” the other day when I read that Starbucks recently opened its first unbranded coffee shop in Seattle, 15th Avenue E Coffee and Tea. It is decorated with ‘one-of-a-kind’ fixtures and customers are invited to bring their own music for the stereo system to develop what the company calls a ‘community personality.” You have to look hard to find the small print on the menus: “inspired by Starbucks.” I got another bad case of the “cringes” recently when I read about Pepsi’s “Refresh Project,” for which Pepsi is dedicating $20 million to local organizations proposed by the public to tap into a booming trend of what is called “cause related marketing.”

Even though we’re all familiar with the feeling of the cringe, it’s often tricky to pinpoint exactly what causes it to occur… But, it’s exactly that feeling of cringe-iness that’s explored, dissected, and extrapolated upon in the new Clooney movie, Up in the Air, directed by Jason Reitman. Although I went in to the theatre expecting a movie about a guy who flies a lot (which does happen) and expecting a movie where George Clooney, as always, smiles sultrily at the camera a lot (which, of course, does happen too), what was most interesting to me about Up in the Air was the way it investigates the “cringe factor” and unravels what it means to live in our cultural moment, that is the moment of spin-saturated-double-soy-frapuccino-Mc-Have-a-Nice-Day-iCorporate-culture that has become so naturalized in America today. Indeed, it is no coincidence that the opening song is a jazzed up version of Woody Guthrie’s American classic This Land is Your Land. More after the jump...

Living Liberally Oscar Trivia Quiz

Created by Bec Zajac

Yes folks, it's time for the biggest political event of the season.... More controversial than the presidential elections, a damn sight sexier than the Democratic National Convention, wackier than the Conservative Political Action Conference, and more talked about than the National Tea Party Convention... It's the 82nd Annual Academy Awards!!! And this year, to spice it up a little for all you lefties out there, we've put together a “Who Am I?” about all your favorite pinko Oscar nominees. So turn those TVs up and put those thinking caps on for this year's …. "Living Liberally Oscar Trivia Quiz"

1) I drive a Toyota Prius? Who am I?

A – Meryl Streep
B – Maggie Gyllenhaal
C – Penelope Cruz
D – Sandra Bullock

2) A former Canadian Prime Minister is my great grandfather. Who am I?

A – Anna Kendrick
B – Christopher Plummer
C – Jeremy Renner
D – Stanley Tucci

3) Despite dropping out of high school, I have an IQ of 160. Who am I?

A – Quentin Tarantino
B – Lee Daniels
C – Vera Farmiga
D – Ethan Coen

4) I said, “"There is a need, especially right now in America, to be a bit provocative."

A – Kathryn Bigelow
B – Jason Reitman
C – T Bone Burnett
D – Maggie Gyllenhaal

5) Concerned about the lack of Hispanic-oriented sitcoms on American television, I approached George Lopez about producing a sitcom with him as the star.

A – Penelope Cruz
B – James Cameron
C – Sandra Bullock
D – Jason Reitman

6) I once criticized Sarah Palin, by comparing her candidacy to "a bad Disney movie." Who am I?

A – Randy Newman
B – Mo’Nique
C – Matt Damon
D – Meryl Streep

7) I won top honors at the Rome Film festival for my role in a movie about a gay love affair between two members of a neo-Nazi group.

A – Penelope Cruz
B – Helen Mirren
C – Carey Mulligan
D – Colin Firth

8) I was involved in an anti-coal reality campaign, which aimed to debunk "clean coal" industry propaganda.

A – Anna Kendrick
B – Ethan Coen
C – Jason Reitman
D – Woody Harrelson

9) I have been spotted marching in pro-abortion demonstrations held in Washington, D.C.

A – Meryl Streep
B – Stanley Tucci
C – Matt Damon
D – Maggie Gyllenhaal

10) I founded a non-government organization, which has set up a home, a school and a clinic for homeless girls and people suffering from tuberculosis in Calcutta.

A – George Clooney
B – Penelope Cruz
C – Stanley Tucci
D – Gabourey Sidibe

11) I once said, in describing the Bush administration, “The US and the world just didn't deserve these people. They're a good deal worse. They don't even know the rules.”

A –Peter Jackson
B – Christopher Plummer
C – Morgan Freeman
D – Randy Newman

12) I once took a bicycle tour down the west coast, escorted by the “Mothership,” a Chicago city transit bus fuelled by hemp oil and powered by solar panels.

A – Lee Daniels
B – Jeff Bridges
C – Maggie Gyllenhaal
D – Woody Harrelson

13) I said, “I always want to make films. I think of it as a great opportunity to comment on the world in which we live. …. There will always be issues I care about.”

A – Morgan Freeman
B – Matt Damon
C – Lee Daniels
D – Kathryn Bigelow

14) I am such a big "South Park" fan, I got a hold of Trey Parker, the creator of the series, and asked for a part in an episode. I was given the role of "Sparky," the gay dog.

A – Quentin Tarantino
B – George Clooney
C – Matt Damon
D – Peter Jackson

15) On moving to LA, before getting involved with the film industry, I worked for a nursing agency, and then, by the age of 21, had started my own. Who am I?

A – Jeremy Renner
B – Vera Farmiga
C – Lee Daniels
D – Sandra Bullock

16) I was passionate about dancing and toured with a Ukrainian folk-dancing company in my teens.

A – Vera Farmiga
B – Anna Kendrick
C – Christoph Waltz
D – Helen Mirren

17) I founded the End Hunger Network an organization aimed at encouraging and supporting action to end childhood hunger.

A – Helen Mirren
B – Colin Firth
C – Jeff Bridges
D –Mo’Nique

18) I said, "Then the September 11th attacks happened and the idea of a domestic comedy adventure film about an anti-terrorism unit just didn't seem all that funny to me anymore."

A – Quentin Tarantino
B – Kathryn Bigelow
C – James Cameron
D – Ethan Coen

19) I am the only actress to date to have a film, which was marketed with my name solely above the title, top the $200 million domestic box office mark. Who am I?

A – Meryl Streep
B – Helen Mirren
C – Penelope Cruz
D – Sandra Bullock

20) I have been referred to as having played Obama’s favorite “movie president.”

A – Morgan Freeman
B – Christopher Plummer
C – Jeff Bridges
D – George Clooney

21) I said, “I am not loving Obama - he made this statement when they were talking about what they were trying to accomplish with the new legislation on global warming and he said, ‘Let's not let great be the enemy of good.’ That just stayed with me and haunted me.”

A – Woody Harrelson
B – Gabourey Sidibe
C – Matt Damon
D – George Clooney

22) I once said, “I feel quite strongly about anti-Americanism. I share people's grievances about the current Administration ….”

A – Nick Hornby
B – Peter Jackson
C – Helen Mirren
D – Colin Firth

23) Before entering the movie industry, I was a truck driver. Who am I?

A – Jeremy Renner
B – Peter Jackson
C – James Cameron
D – T Bone Burnett

24) I proudly support the American Civil Liberties Union, participated in anti-war demonstrations, wore a peace sign pin in support of the organization ‘Artists United to Win Without War,’ and achieved some notoriety for being quoted as saying America was "responsible in some way" for the 9/11 attacks.

A – George Clooney
B – Maggie Gyllenhaal
C – Jeff Bridges
D – Quentin Tarantino

25) I was inducted into New Orleans’ Warren Easton High School “Hall of Fame” for my help rebuilding the school after Hurricane Katrina.

A – Kathryn Bigelow
B – Joel Coen
C – Morgan Freeman
D – Sandra Bullock

26) I said, “If celebrity is a credit card, I'm using my credit. My job is to try and find ways of talking about issues that move us forward. I don't make policy, but I can shine a light on faulty or good policy.” Who am I?

A – James Cameron
B – George Clooney
C – Ethan Coen
D – Meryl Streep

27) I made a documentary about the common factors that bring women into the penal system
A – Jason Reitman
B – Mo’Nique
C – Joel Coen
D – Helen Mirren

28) When I was 11, I got a suit and a briefcase, went to the Minneapolis International Airport with a Super 8 camera and made a movie about shuttle diplomacy called "Henry Kissinger, Man on the Go"

A – Quentin Tarantino
B – George Clooney
C – Jason Reitman
D – Joel Coen

29)I said, “The myth of the liberal media is one of the great jokes played on us. The media are owned lock, stock, and barrel by the right wing.”

A – Morgan Freeman
B – T Bone Burnett
C – Jeff Bridges
D – Ethan Coen

30) In a profile of me for the NY Times Magazine I notoriously mentioned that I am in an “open marriage.”

A – Maggie Gyllenhaal
B – Woody Harrelson
C – Mo’Nique
D – Peter Jackson

31) I once climbed the Golden Gate Bridge and put up a sign that read, "Hurwitz. Aren't ancient redwoods more precious than gold?" in protest of Pacific Lumber CEO Charles Hurwitz.

A – Sandra Bullock
B – Woody Harrelson
C – Jeff Bridges
D – Randy Newman

ANSWERS:
1) A 2) B 3) A 4) D 5) C 6) C 7) B 8) B 9) B 10) B 11) D 12) D13) D 14) B 15) B 16) A 17) C 18) C 19) D 20) C 21) A 22) D 23) C 24) B 25) D 26) B 27) B 28) D 29) B 30) C 31) B

Daily News Roundup-Health Care Edition

  • The backyard of our favorite Rudy’s Bar and Grill has been unfairly closed by the city! Help us get it back by signing a letter to the Commissioner of Buildlings…TODAY!

Daily News Roundup

  • Marjane Satrapi, the author of the graphic novel Persepolis (which was released as a motion picture film last year), has come out with a new graphic novel based on the recent Iranian elections. You can download a PDF version of the novel here
  • The ousted president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, has said he will return home later this week, after being forced into exile on Sunday in what President Obama has described as a “coup.”
  • Read Bob Herbert’s article on an Afghanistan youth’s long six years in a Guantánamo Bay prison, and what happens after a confession through torture is deemed inadmissible.

Daily News Roundup

  • From Daily Kos: In "Sustainability," "Community," and How the West Will Grow," “the author here looks at Boise's unsustainable growth pattern--one created by "a legislature that seems to be dominated by men living in 1959 and all on farms"--and reported on conclusions drawn about this typical western sprawl at a planning conference last week”

News Round-up for June 22nd

By Samantha Friedwald

  • It seems high schools put more of a focus on having their students attended colleges and universities. Though more students are attending, will these places of higher learning be able to adapt to the technology generation and with the latest digital advances?
  • North Korea, lately, falls into the same pattern: it's often forgotten about in the media until it does something to remind us why we should be afraid of it, then gets forgotten about again under heaps of press about Iran, Iraq, and Jon & Kate Plus Eight updates.
  • Health News: Are pesticides a potential cause of Parkinson's Disease?
  • Looks like Paterson leaves out gay marriage in the special session he called.

Living Liberally Upcoming Events in NYC

Living Liberally has a great line-up of events for our Summer Series at The Tank. We'll add more soon, but here’s a taste of what we have to offer in the next few weeks. Take a look, grab some of your progressive pals and come check them out!

Thursday, June 18 (Tonight!)—7 PM
SCREENING LIBERALLY SHORT FILM OPEN MIC & FILMMAKER MIXER
Join Screening Liberally and guest speaker Negin Farsad to watch short films from progressive filmmakers in the the NYC area at our open mic showcase. See event page for more details!

Wednesday, June 24—9 PM
LAUGHING LIBERALLY “OFFICE POLITICS” INTERN SHOW
All interns and like-minded progressives are invited to join our Laughing Liberally comedians for a great night of comedy—stuff you’ll want to be talking about at the water cooler.

Sunday, June 28
PICNICKING LIBERALLY AT THE GAY PRIDE PARADE
Join us in the park before and during the parade as Living Liberally spends a day "out."
Location & time: TBA (contact [email protected] for details)

Wednesday, July 1—7:30 PM
LIVING LIBERALLY PRESENTS BOB MOSER & “BLUE DIXIE”
Political writer Bob Moser, author of the book “Blue Dixie,” examines the progressive roots of the “Republican” South with comedy, live music, and free beer (see more info about this event here)

Wednesday, July 8—7:30 PM
SCREENING LIBERALLY PRESENTS “EXCUSE ME, MR. SPEAKER”
Come and watch this documentary about Paul Newell’s 2008 run against NY assembly speaker Sheldon Silver. Then, join in a discussion about the challenges facing insurgent primary candidates.

Wednesday, July 15—7:30 PM
LAUGHING LIBERALLY NIGHT OF SUPREME COMEDY
Laughing Liberally comedians providing their own spin on Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings.

Syndicate content