Monday, October 20, 2008

Movies - My Main Distraction

I really have been busy with work, but one of the main things I do when I'm not working is watch movies, so I've done a decent amount of that, too. Here are some of the things I've watched recently:

This is a movie set in Spain, starring Penelope Cruz. The premise is that her mother is back from the dead. It's an entertaining movie, and Penelope Cruz was very good, as usual. There were some serious themes that seemed to come out of no where, for a movie that is fairly light thoughout. Overall, I'd recommend seeing it.

Jeff and I are fans of Wes Anderson (Royal Tennenbaums, Darjeeling Limited, etc.) but had never seen Rushmore. It's about a student, Max Fisher, who has a horrible academic record, but involved in tons of extra-curriculars. Bill Murray plays the disillusioned father of some other students at the school. His character, who befriends Max, is hilarious - definitely one of the highlights. Max, Bill Murray, and a teacher at the school become involved in a love triangle that leads to all sorts of trouble. As with other Wes Anderson films, its a bit of an odd story, and ranges from funny to creepy to cute throughout the film.

Bottle Rocket
Another Wes Anderson film, Bottle Rocket was also quirky. The main character has just left a mental hospital and goes on a crime spree with a friend. They don't shoot too high, but still manage to boggle the job. Overall, it's a pretty funny movie - lighter and more silly than some of Wes Anderson's other films.

No Country for Old Men
This is a Coen Brother's film (like Fargo, Oh Brother Where Art Thou, etc.), but all the commercials I had seen billed it as more of a thriller film, which seemed odd. The commercial were true - don't expect this movie to make you laugh. It's about a guy who finds a bunch of money that at a drug deal in the desert that went bad. He then gets chased by Javier Bardem, who is extremely creepy throughout the whole movie. (He's got a sort of Kill Bill-like emotionless "kill everyone" style.) It's pretty violent, but doesn't show a lot of gore, which keeps it edge-of-your-seat, but not gruesome. Tommy Lee Jones does a good job playing the small town sheriff that's suddenly in the middle of everything. It's a well made and interesting movie, so I'd definitely recommend it.

The Game
The Game is a bit older, and is about a super-rich, hermit-like business man whose wild brother gives him a birthday card telling him to sign up with Consumer Recreation Services (CRS) to play a live-action. Soon the banker's life starts to go wild - his TV is talking to him, people are chasing him, etc. And "CRS" keeps showing up. The whole movie he (and you) is trying to guess what's part of the game. I thought the movie was exciting and entertaining - it was hard to tell what was real. The main issue I had was the ending. (Spoiler Alert - don't read any further if you haven't seen it and don't want to know the ending.) When he figures out that everything was part of a game - the death threats, etc., and is at the party, he seems pretty ok to me. This seemed so odd to me - like he needed no time to take everything in, and wasn't upset or in shock. I also wasn't sure how this was going to solve the issue of him being a hermit. Other than that, I did enjoy the movie.

So You Think You Can Dance
This is such a great show. I danced for about eight years when I was younger, and its so cool to see these amazing dancers do all sorts of forms of dance. It's pretty impressive, and is a quick-moving show. The competition episodes are the best. Check out the group dance on the episodes where they tell who is voted off, but you can skip the rest.

Firefly is a TV series that used to be on the SciFi channel, and was also made into a movie "Serenity". The idea is that there was a war in space, and one group (the Alliance) won, taking control. The rebels now operate on the outer edges of the galaxy. Firefly is about some of these rebels, operating an illegal cargo ship. It's almost Western-like, even in the way they dress and talk. The characters are all really great - there are lots of laugh-out-loud funny moments. There are only about 15 episodes made, so it's fairly quick to see the whole series - and definitely worth the time.

Doctor Who (and Torchwood and Sarah Jane Adventures)
Doctor Who is one of my favorite shows. It's just so creative and fun, and the current Doctor - David Tennet - is amazing. If you're not familiar with the plot in general, it centers around The Doctor, who is the last Time Lord - a species that can travel through space and time (in the Tartus, his ship that looks like a 1960's British Police Box). He generally travels with another person. The Sarah Jane Adventures are actually based on one of the women that traveled with the Doctor on some episodes in the 1960's. Now she investigates alien plots on her own in the UK. Torchwood is a spin-off based on people that work in the UK to deal with alien issues - sort of like an MIB organization. All very fun shows.

The West Wing
This show is all about the president and his staff working in the West Wing. It's really interesting to see how the interaction happens between the White House, Congress, and the media. I'm not sure how accurate it is, but they deal with realistic and interesting issues, and it's fun to watch.

Friday, October 17, 2008

I haven't posted in forever!

So what have I been up to?

Well... for the first week or so in October I was busy doing all the normal work stuff - reading, writing papers, and studying for my three classes - Cost-Benefit Analysis, Politics of Earth and Space Science, and Independent Study. I also had my one credit class - two full days of lecture and activities on Negotiations. On October 7th, I took an exam in Cost-Benefit Analysis. (I just got my score back and found out I did pretty well!)

My mom came to visit on October 9th and stayed until the 13th. We had a really fun weekend - walking around the city, eating at fun restaurants, and watching movies. It was nice to just spend time hanging out and showing her my neighborhood.

Last week was big for space-related events. On Tuesday morning, I went to a Space Foundation Correspondents Breakfast which featured George Nield, Associate Administrator for commercial space transportation at the FAA. On Tuesday evening, I went to the Women In Aerospace awards dinner at the National Press Club. It was a very cool event with lots of interesting people, incluing Mike Griffin, the NASA Administrator. Stephanie, Emma, and Jaisha were all there, too - actually, I was there because Stephanie offered me an extra ticket from her dad's company. On Wednesday, I gave a presentation in Politics of Earth and Space Science with Adam and Stephanie. On Thursday, I went to an event at the Chamber of Commerce called "A Day Without Space", which was about the economic and national security risks that would occur if space assets weren't avaialable. It's incredible how far reaching the effects would be. On Friday, GWSS (George Washington Space Society) and ISU*USA (International Space University - USA Alumni) co-hosted an event called "Welcome Home SSP08: A Taste of Barcelona." Myself and the other DC-area students that had gone to Barcelona this summer put together a bunch of pictures and told stories about the summer to past ISU alums and other space society people. We had snacks and drinks, and it was a really fun night.

This weekend I've mostly been hanging out around the house - today I watched five episodes of Doctor Who - Best TV Show Ever. I've been doing readings for class and thinking about what to write, though I didn't get much down on paper. Back to being busy!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What I Do...

I started my new job at Space Foundation, and already I've had the chance to go to a breakfast talks by Mike Griffin (the NASA Administrator) and Gary Payton (Deputy Under Secretary for Air Force Space Programs), and shake hands with each of them. For these events, I help run things, take pictures and take notes.

Another part of my job is to come up with the daily "News Clips" - basically, I get to read the news for an hour or two each morning, and pick out the top five to ten space-related stories. If you want to see what I choose each day, you can subscribe to the RSS on the bottom left of our website ( - titled "In the News".