Monday, February 22, 2010

She's a dream

We are enjoying our new cat, Ramona, so much.

When I first brought her home from the shelter, she walked around purring at the top of her lungs and rubbing her face on every surface she encountered, especially us. It was like she recognized her new home for what it was and could never express her gratitude if she took even a moment to breathe. We started calling her Love Machine because she wanted to be touched every waking second.

We also called her our little motorboat, because all the purring sounded almost like an engine propelling her around the place.

We're out of that honeymoon phase now, and her personality is becoming a bit more balanced and cat-like. She purrs less often, but now she meows all the time instead, and it's an adorable scratchy little meow we never get tired of hearing. Unfortunately, as she recovers from being spayed, we find her channeling excess energy into some pretty rough play. Our fingers and feet are suffering a little as we learn how to use toys to keep her worn out! But responding the first time she cries for attention, instead of making her wait and resort to other measures, has helped too.

Ramona's big social debut will be this Friday, when we're having a bunch of friends over to celebrate Russell's birthday and play with the new Wii I bought him. We think everyone will notice quite a difference from Omar! And we look forward to many more years with this funny, spoiled girl, during which I'm sure you'll hear plenty more about her.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Not snow much

In a recent admissions blog post, I commented on our weirdly dry weather as the "snowpocalypse" hit elsewhere on the East Coast the other week:

It got me thinking how much less snowy this winter has been than last year. I remember a lot more white on the ground, a lot more of the time, the first time around. It's been nice to avoid how dingy the snow gets when it sticks around too long, but the beauty of a fresh coat is something you start to miss. So the couple days of heavy snowfall we did get after I wrote that post were pretty welcome.

Of course, we're moving into the annual craziness that is February, so most of that has melted by now. It's been getting warmer, with a peak in the mid-forties today that I celebrated with a long, sunny walk to lunch in the Square. It was important to take advantage because (did I mention it's February?) we're due for at least ten days of snow, sleet, and the dreaded wintry mix starting tomorrow.

At least this year I know what to expect!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Assorted updates

Life up here has been good lately - crazy, but manageably so. I feel like I'm getting into a swing with spring semester courses, extracurriculars, and life around the house, although I haven't had much time to bring you up to speed about them until now.

For one thing, my involvement with Intake at the Tenant Advocacy Project has hit a pretty good rhythm. After a few easy decisions, some others requiring a bit more investigation, and one fairly complicated one that should wrap up tomorrow, I can sense my judgment in whether or not to take a case developing. What they say about Intake Committee - that it shows you much more of the variety of housing issues out there than working individual cases - is definitely true. And I'm finding it easy to balance with my schedule of classes and other projects, since the work comes in relatively discrete, short chunks.

Things are also going nicely at the journal. In my capacity as Senior Article Editor this semester, I'm actually the direct supervisor of my dear friend Anush, who was special enough to be made an Article Editor in charge of three other 1L's already. Until later in the semester, when my duties with the Tech Department will ramp up, my main responsibility is keeping her on schedule and checking her work to be passed up the chain. As the future head of Tech, I'm also sitting in on weekly meetings of the current leadership, learning a lot more about how the journal works - all fun and easy so far.

Also doable have been classes: Constitutional Law is serious but manageable, Housing Law engaging and a great affirmation that I could work in that area for life. The high point of my week is weirdly Corporations, with its unconventional, hilarious professor and illuminating material. And in Community Action, we're working to schedule weekly meetings with our inner-city youth and planning lessons we can't wait to bring them.

In personal news, it's been three weeks since we lost Omar, and I think we're moving on well. That feeling of grief, which to me is so much like having your guts pulled out and replaced with lead, is receding pretty quickly now and my usual energy (well, usual for winter) is returning. But the place still feels a bit empty without an animal, so Russell and I began wondering last week or so whether it was time to adopt a new kitty. Once I started browsing the websites of some local animal shelters, our wondering turned into impatience.

So we got to talking about timing, and with a weekend trip to Maine coming up and Spring Break a week after that, realized we would either need to act soon or wait until late March. That suddenly seemed so far away that we were out the door and on the subway to MSPCA Boston before we knew it.

The result is Ramona, a two-year-old female calico who caught my eye the moment we walked into the surprisingly cheery cat enclosure. She was sound asleep and not attracting much attention from other visitors, though, so we actually made a full round of the room before deciding to reach in and try to wake her up. Pretty soon after doing so, we were sold on her sweet, lazy personality, great face, and taste for being picked up.

We really didn't expect to have another cat by now. But "Chica," as the shelter was calling her (we didn't like the name, but decided to stick with the Latina flair, picking Ramona from among many lists of Spanish girls' names online), comes home tonight after staying the weekend to be spayed. We're anxious and excited, but mostly confident that now is the right time and we are more than equipped to handle anything she throws at us. Which I doubt will be much, but the self-assurance is nice.

So wish me luck getting to the shelter in the snow we're finally having. Luckily, an amazing friend with a Zipcar account has offered to chauffeur since Russell will still be at work. And of course, as both school and the kitty situation develop, I'll be sure to post more updates (and/or pictures!)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Honorable mentions

I thought I’d wait a while to bombard you with another part of our Best of the Decade list. But inspired by The Onion’s AV Club, which posted a separate list of films each of its editors would have liked to see make the cut, we allowed ourselves a few “honorable mentions” outside the set fifty. They are:


American Gangster (2007)

I think this was the great, complex urban crime saga of the past decade and would have put it in at least the top 25. But it really didn’t do it for Russell for some reason, and he kept letting it slip down the list to ranks I was sad to see. So rather than fight, we made a trade—see his list below.

Hustle & Flow (2005)*

Like the others here with asterisks, this is one Russell somehow hasn’t seen. I plan to rectify this ASAP, but in the meantime we found these difficult to rank with him unable to give input. So I agreed to make honorable mentions of the best few, like this incredible, gritty underdog story with Terrence Howard at his best and rap music I actually like!

La Vie En Rose (2007)*

Hands down the best female performance—possibly the best performance, period—of the decade and a tear-jerking, beautifully musical story to boot.

Billy Elliot (2000)*

This quirky, tenderly acted story of one weird kid’s single-minded triumph over ignorance is one I could watch time and again and look forward to sharing with Russell.

Whale Rider (2002)*

An underdog like so many of my favorites, this small, beautiful movie from a remote location mixes girl power and the supernatural in ways I would have loved to honor.

The Matador (2005)*

Another major sleeper, this features Pierce Brosnan as a washed-up assassin and Greg Kinnear as his unwilling sidekick—top roles by far for them both. Between surprisingly touching reflections on age, talent, and purpose, it made me fall down laughing repeatedly. I couldn’t recommend it more.

Harry Potter films

These hold up increasingly well to one of the greatest series of books, and certainly one of the largest phenomena, of the decade. No Lord of the Rings by any means, but they have something special I would have honored given more space.


There Will Be Blood (2007)

I recognize that this is a good movie, but can’t understand why everyone is so crazy about it. The pacing is totally bipolar and the last half hour could have been completely cut. I kept doing to this movie, which Russell adored, what he kept doing to American Gangster. So we agreed to remove them both and battle it out in honorable mentions!

Friday Night Lights (2004)

I’m so glad Russell listed this, since it’s kind of an honorable mention for me also.

Moon (2009)

Some of my favorite acting of the decade, but facing hard choices I had to decide that didn’t cut it, and Russell agreed to move it here.

Rescue Dawn (2006)

Eastern Promises (2007)

District 9 (2009)

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these as much as we enjoyed assembling them. Back to law school, Cambridge, and—gasp—kitty news next time!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The decade's best

Inspired by friends and reviewers who made “best of the decade” lists toward the end of last year, and despite running a bit behind the trend (blame Omar), Russell and I have had a blast (and a couple of fights) over the past several days putting together a list of our top fifty movies of the 2000’s.

I posted them in a note on Facebook last night, but kept the commentary to a minimum and thought (especially since this final list results from a big last-minute reorganization I did by myself and only tweaked slightly where Russell took issue) it might be fun to say a bit more here.

So this is what we came up with:

50 Night Watch (2004)

We loved this wildly creative Eastern European vampire epic, and I fought hard to keep it among these other amazing films.

49 Bowling for Columbine (2002)

An ambitious, unexpectedly personal documentary from a controversial filmmaker we thought deserved a nod.

48 The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)

In the particular kind of loud, colorful, lewd comedy that got so popular last decade, this was our favorite. Knocked Up also nearly made this list, and The Hangover was almost one of Russell’s honorable mentions.

47 Almost Famous (2000)

Well-made, cult-followed, and full of classic millennial nostalgia.

46 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

When this came out, it made us roar with laughter and looked like nothing we’d ever seen before. Judged apart from its sequels, it’s exactly the kind of icon that belongs on this list.

45 Love Actually (2003)

A decade of bad romantic comedies basically tried to be this perfect one.

44 Kill Bill Volume 2 (2004)

This was our favorite of the crazy, classically Tarantino flicks in this modern martial arts-revenge saga, so we used it to represent them both.

43 Ocean's Eleven (2001)

This one made the list mostly for its staying power. It’s still incredibly slick, appealing, and watchable today.

42 Gangs of New York (2002)

I have a particular soft spot for this sweeping urban epic with its jaw-dropping performance by Daniel Day Lewis. Go figure…

41 Moulin Rouge! (2001)

Another one with fantastic staying power, this was a leader in the great revival of musicals last decade, but stands out from most others in sheer creativity.

40 Iron Man (2008)

The best-reviewed superhero movie until The Dark Knight, this one resurrected Robert Downey Jr. and has a serious kick-ass factor.

39 Wall-E (2008)

We could probably have every Pixar movie on this list, but to be fair we let this revolutionary, beautiful, moving love story stand in for a few.

38 The Bourne Identity (2002)

The best, smartest action franchise of the decade.

37 Walk the Line (2005)

To represent the ever-present biopic (of which we aren’t always fans), we chose this great story with fine acting and even better music.

36 Frost/Nixon (2008)

I like small, low-budget movies about the small, low-budget moments at the heart of history. This is one of the best (but several more are still to come.)

35 City of God (2002)

This one’s a favorite of Russell and many of our cinephile friends. My sense that Slumdog Millionaire does a bit better at something similar kept this low-ish on the list, but I still loved it (besides, this one’s actually true.)

34 The Incredibles (2004)

Our other favorite Pixar release, this joined in the superhero fun without a moment of cliché.

33 Super Size Me (2004)

I love documentaries, and this one is so personal, fun (yet gross), and relevant to everyday life that I had to see it included.

32 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Russell only saw this recently, and I’m so glad he agrees that it’s the best acted, most beautiful, and generally greatest export of a certain kind of martial arts film to America.

31 Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)

Outstripping its also excellent companion Flags of our Fathers by a mile, this evocative and beautifully-acted story shows the grimness this past decade brought to the war movie.

30 Michael Clayton (2007)

An outstanding twist on the otherwise tired business law genre.

29 Lost in Translation (2003)

We love this one’s atmosphere and quiet comedy, and between the themes of aging, disconnectedness, and indecision, it’s as 2000’s as they come.

28 The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

Its ensemble cast, family dysfunction, and Wes Anderson aesthetic captured the decade’s taste for quirk and paved the way for many other classics.

27 Spirited Away (2001)

I kept ranking this Miyazaki favorite higher and higher for its singular beauty, creativity, and representation of a decade that saw us all fall back in love with animation.

26 Children of Men (2006)

The subject and scope of this dystopian thriller couldn’t be more representative of the decade. I adored it (go figure) and would have ranked it higher, but Russell only let it climb this high due to its rave reviews.

25 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

This ranks near or at the top of many people’s lists of movies. We buy that memory and forgetting are among the decade’s most important themes, but think there is too much noteworthy filmmaking elsewhere for this to win.

24 Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

Possibly the most fun I had at the movies all decade! I must have watched this five times with different groups of rapturous friends. And its repertoire of 90’s and 00’s influences is magnificent.

23 The Wrestler (2008)

A searing, heartbreaking little movie, one of the most anticipated ever in our household. On a list of best performances of the decade, this would shoot straight to the top.

22 The Hurt Locker (2009)

The decade finally brings us a film worthy of the futility and life-changing brutality of the wars that dominated it.

21 Gran Torino (2008)

Though understandably controversial, this movie stays near to our hearts by reminding us of real men we’ve reluctantly held in them.

20 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

Part raunchy, catchy drag-rock spectacle, part unexpectedly personal journey of identity and love: where has this been all our lives?

19 Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

We loved this sprawling third-world epic combining harsh reality with gleeful childhood resilience and goofiness with genuine magic.

18 Star Trek (2009)

In a decade of series reboots, the most improbable, ambitious, and anticipated turned out the very best. I would rank this much higher; Russell says time will tell.

17 Amelie (2001)

Treating events in 1990’s Europe with the playfulness of perspective, this unconventional love story combining cutesiness with naughtiness still begs to be watched.

16 Memento (2000)

Another movie about forgetting, this time combined with a murder mystery (as only the 2000’s could) and filmed unforgettably (as no one had before, has since, or will again.)

15 Stranger than Fiction (2006)

Apart from bringing us the sexiest female character of the decade, this seriously underrated literary comedy has some of the greatest smarts, self-awareness, and genre-busting acting the 2000’s had to offer.

14 O Brother Where Art Thou (2000)

Also underrated and still peerless in comedy, creativity, appearance, and soundtrack.

13 Crash (2004)

Tackles race issues head on and makes us cry and cry.

12 Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Offers so many of our favorite things: sports, girl power, controversy, and Clint Eastwood.

11 Milk (2008)

Incredibly timely and unbelievably acted, a joyous, fearless film that packs an emotional punch in terms of both characters past and politics present.

10 An Inconvenient Truth (2006)

A lot of what happens to our planet, big and small, in this decade and the next will be traced back to this movie.

9 Good Night and Good Luck (2005)

Another small movie with a big lesson for us all. I loved the messages, characters, and rhythms of this one and luckily didn’t have to fight hard to give it this ranking.

8 The Dark Knight (2008)

In terms of scale and popularity alone, this would have been this decade’s Titanic. Happily, in other areas—like acting by icon Heath Ledger—it blew Titanic out of the water, so to speak. This represents the 2000’s in so many ways: it’s a superhero movie that changes our expectations of superheroes, recognizes that action doesn’t negate expectations for good acting and writing anymore, and engages with deep questions of what exactly are good and evil.

7 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

Another big-budget, high-tech crowd pleaser. Except in this case, the crowd included legions of die-hard fans of the beloved literary series. Peter Jackson exceeds all their expectations with this gorgeous, thrilling middle film we’ve chosen to represent the trilogy.

6 Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

I would have ranked this “little comedy that could” within the top five: its emphatic stance that dysfunctional families are some of the best ones makes it a quintessential 2000’s story for me. Blonder heads prevailed, but we did agree that the superb ensemble cast, hysterical script, and underdog story (both within plot and without, in critical success) make this a winner.

5 Brokeback Mountain (2005)

This powerful and timely romance definitely wins tearjerker of the decade. The soundtrack alone had me spontaneously breaking down for weeks. Nevertheless (or therefore?), we consider it the true American love story: a love that outlasts but can’t overcome great adversity. We also wish we knew how to quit Heath Ledger.

4 28 Days Later (2002)

We may have ranked this higher than anyone else on the planet would, but I stand by it. Turning every weakness of our beloved zombie genre on its head, the film creates a nightmarish apocalyptic vision still scary after years and years. Add to that a relentless pace, brilliant acting (who among us can forget the scene after Frank looks up at the dead bird?) and timely yet timeless political undertones, and you get something surprisingly watchable time after time.

3 Traffic (2000)

An ambitious, heart-wrenching treatise on the drug wars that had almost flawless reviews and should totally have won the Best Picture Oscar over Gladiator (conspicuously missing from this list, we know.) We hadn’t seen it in years, but found there were multiple scenes we would never forget. I’ve wanted to watch it again since seeing it near the top of others’ lists of favorites, though I expect to be depressed by how little things off-screen have changed since it was made.

2 No Country for Old Men (2007)

This movie does something I would never have guessed possible outside Cormac McCarthy’s prose: it tells an ugly story, set in an ugly place, signaling ugly changes in the ways of the world—yet does it with impossible beauty. Javier Bardem brings the fright, Josh Brolin the tenacity, and Tommy Lee Jones the poetry of one of my favorite authors’ works to the screen. I can’t say enough about the Coen Brothers’ masterful adaptation of this stark, masculine, yet eerily tender drama; I’m so glad Russell agrees.

1 The Departed (2006)

This was a no-brainer for me, and Russell was quickly convinced. This movie combines a half-dozen spectacular performances across two generations of great actors with a razor-sharp screenplay and a powerful sense of place (a place especially relevant to us.) It runs wild with some of the decade’s favorite themes, from identity and deception to aging and obsolescence, and cunningly pairs classic gangster tropes with a healthy dose of today. It also pulls off some of the decade’s best, make-you-miss-whole-lines-of-dialogue laughs. Altogether, it’s one we could watch over and over (and have, and will again.)

Monday, February 8, 2010


This week I told the admits about an interesting little bit of Harvard Law logistics.

Monday, February 1, 2010

As promised

Three things to cheer us all up from last week's funk.

Adorable Super Bowl trash talk between two art museums:

And in an unconscionable case involving Halliburton (, the hilariously apt name of their lead attorney: Note, the "Texas Super Lawyers" feature mentioned under "Professional Recognition" is a paid advertisement!