Tips for cross-country moving

Hey everyone! Dwane and I are moving to Oregon in just a couple of weeks. Has anyone

a) made a cross country move before?
b) driven across the country?
c) driven across the country with a cat?
If so, do you have any tips? Right now we're taking

Luna on practice runs.

She is an indoor cat and I just got her a collar and a harness, both of which she squirmed out of at first. Also, we are planning on using PODS to move – anyone have any experience with them?
This is my third move in a year and a half and Dwane's third in two and a half years. You'd think we'd be pros at moving by now, but is still is such a drag to pack casino and clean everything!
another thing: anyone want a globe made of interesting stones?

EDIT: Wow, some fantastic advice already. Mike D readers are the best. I thought of a couple more questions:

– Does anyone keep an emergency kit in the car? Besides jumper cables, I mean. If you do, what's in it?
– Packing extreme breakables (we're talking champagne glasses, heirloom pieces, etc etc) – would it be wiser to take them in the car?




Sahara. It was one of those movies that I knew existed only because of the heavily paparazzi'd romance between its cialis 5mg costars (in this case, Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz). It did not have a school writing paper very long theater run, and I almost considered not watching it on my plane ride from Reagan to Salt Lake City. However, it was free, and I figured it would help time pass. Plus, Mr. McConaughey and Ms. Cruz ain't so bad to look at.

Note to Alicia: short theater runs generally mean that the movie sucked.
I've decided for this review to make a little list. Hopefully, I will save you from any movie that even remotely resembles “Sahara.”

1. Curse you, Dan Brown, and your terrible writing and bad adventure genre. You and your ridiculous “novels” have spawned American interest in tremendous wastes of time and money, such as “National Treasure” and this movie, “Sahara”, wherein MacGyver-like “normal guys” search out buried treasure and conspiracy secrets and END UP SAVING THE WORLD from bad guys, the Illuminati, and/or disease! And by god, getting the girl!
Note to America: Guys!! Dan Brown can't write!! Try Steinbeck!!

2. Penelope Cruz, you are stunningly beautiful. In fact, I am very jealous of you, because you're not only gorgeous, you have a cute accent, and guys go for that accent thing. And, you're quite a good actress – in “Abre Los Ojos” you were incredible. However, does moving to Hollywood mean that you have to perform in schlock? I mean, seriously, this dialogue was pitiful. Who is your agent? My advice is: get a new one. And stop dating your co-stars. (Do you regret the Tom Cruise thing? I bet you do.)

3. Why doesn't the funny sidekick ever get the girl? Ever since “Pretty in Pink”, when it was so obvious that Ducky should have gotten the girl, not Mr. I-Have-Money-But-No-Personality, I have been saddened by the lack of geek romance in films. I guess that's why the 1988 TV movie “Dance 'Til Dawn” is one of my personal favorites: the beautiful popular girl falls for the nerd after an eventful prom night. Ahhh. Teen angst and romance. I am sucked in so easily.

In any case, in Sahara, Steve Zahn plays a very funny and cute sidekick who dismantles a bomb at The Crucial Moment and lets Mr. McC save the lovely Penelope. He gets no reward, yet MM gets to frolic with PC on the shores of Monterrey. What's up, Hollywood? Let's give these sidekicks hot girlfriends. And no, purple multi-tentacled aliens (a la Galaxy Quest) do not count.

4. Dear movie directors of America,
If you stretch the limits of reality more than once — as in having main characters defy rebel gunfire in the middle of the Sahara Desert over and over again without any visible means of obtaining drinking water, and then having them climb onto a moving train from the backs of camels that they just learned how to ride (and by the way, that thing about the Civil War-era iron clad ship being depicted in a cave drawing was totally ludicrous) — I will lose interest in your movie and get up and go to the bathroom.


"Born into Brothels" and "Gunner Palace"

Today I'd like to review and compare two documentaries that I've recently seen, “Born Into Brothels” and “Gunner Palace”, hereby referred to as BIB and GP.

BIB caught my attention even before the Oscars. I saw the preview before “Hotel Rwanda” and thought it looked fascinating: woman goes to Calcutta, teaches children of the lowest caste to take artistic photos. Will the children rise up and out of their poverty?

If only for the exploration of how art brings beauty into life, it looked worthwhile.

So Nancy, Hadas, and I checked it out after a fine meal at Pho Lemon (spicy curry tofu, yum).

I left the theater with more complaints that praise, however. BIB did show that art lifts us up. But the documentary was not art itself: shaky camera work made it hard to view, and incomplete background information made for confusion during the first half of the show. Where exactly was this taking place? How long had the filmmaker been there? And differentiating between the children became a little difficult, especially when some of the girls happened to look alike.

Believe it or not, I don't feel that BIB truly showed the destitution of the brothels of Calcutta. The shots were not wide and didn't fully encompass the area. One did become emotionally involved with the kids, though, especially with Avijit, the boy whose artistic talent brings him prizes and good fortune, only to be held back by the confusion of the Indian bureaucracy. (By the way, at first I totally online casino spelled bureaucracy wrong. That's a tricky word to spell!) The ending was not quite an ending, since life never has an ending when you're right in the middle of it; I was saddened but not surprised by some of the epilogues. On the other hand, there were a few children who surprised me in their tenacity and ability to get out of their situations. Even though BIB won the Oscar for best documentary, I wouldn't recommend seeing it, unless it's on video and you really, really enjoy photography.

GP was a movie I didn't expect to enjoy, but I actually did. It was made a year ago, and thus it was filmed before most of the American casualties in Iraq had occurred. GP is a picture of the lives of soldiers in Iraq, one that hadn't been presented as well in “Fahrenheit 9/11.” This was less of a political missive and more of a video diary of Charlie Battery, a group of soldiers who live in and work out of a decrepit old palace in Baghdad. They have a pool, a band, and some parties, but for the most part, they spend their days in fear that an IED on the street will blow up their poorly armored vehicles. They break into houses at night, searching out members of Hussein's party; sometimes civilly, sometimes violently. The variety of people serving over there was fascinating: women and men, people of all ethnic backgrounds. I thought the film portrayed quite well the different reactions the soldiers receive from the Iraqi people — some help and serve as translators and informants, some join groups that are being trained to police Baghdad (“Only for the money,” said one soldier), some throw rocks and build bombs and aim to get Americans out.

I got bored a couple times during the movie, but I think that's because the soldiers' lives actually get a little rote at times. There were a couple things that stuck with me — first, a soldier commented that he doesn't feel like he's protecting the USA anymore – he's now concerned with protecting himself. And at the end of the documentary, we learn that a few soldiers we met in the previous eighty minutes have died in various altercations.

I recommend “Gunner Palace.” It's very easy to forget that 1500 American military have died in Iraq already — these are our fellow citizens, and their stories should be heard, whether one agrees with the war or not.


Alicia's THING review


On October 7th, Mike K. and I went to see Cake perform at the best american essays Orpheum Theater in Boston. A longtime fan of Cake, I was excited for weeks about this concert and couldn't understand why neither my brother nor my sister wanted to have a night out on the town. I prepped, and repeatedly played “Motorcade of Generosity,” “Comfort Eagle,” “Fashion Nugget,” and “Prolonging the Magic” on my computer.

I was worried about one thing, however: the newest album, “Pressure Chief.” Sure, “No Phone” is a good song, but upon purchasing the rest of the CD, I was sorely disappointed with the other tracks. I felt like John McCrae's voice was weaker, and the songwriting lacked the biting flair of their previous attempts. Then, to make matters worse, I learned that “Northern State” would be the opening band, and after visiting their website,, I discovered that they were possibly the worst “band” I have ever experienced, even if only for a second.

(Note to self: do not join all white female rap group – bad career move. Especially if one of the members has renamed herself “Hesta Prynn.” Actually, let me insert a little review of right now: easy to navigate, yet FEARFULLY WRONG.
Why, oh why, does your font change to street graffiti when I run my unsuspecting mouse arrow over it? And why does your music suck? And why does this woman exist:
And why does she call her records “rekkids”? NO. STOP.)

Anyway, I had nothing to fear, for we skipped out on Northern Suck, and hit Chinatown instead. Here is my review for out Chow Chou City dinner: Yum. I ordered the delightful green beans and beef, and Mike got something equally as good, but I must confess I don't remember what it was. The service was speedy, though, and the Tsing Tsao beer was fizzy and relaxing, setting the stage for: CAKE.

We had seats way in the back, but they were great! We were right in front of the projection booth, so we didn't have to worry about blocking anyone's view. The Orpheum's temperature that night was pretty much how I would imagine a theater-sized oven's would be – we were like little appetizers, slowly being cooked for some sort of gargantuan creature's pre-game h'ors d'ouerve. That didn't happen, though. No roof was taken from the building and we weren't plucked from it like ants.

The audience was mostly aging frat dudes, which I thought was kind of funny. In fact, at one point during the night, the heady odor of pot wafted over us. I pictured a 28 year old guy, hanging out with his buddies from Xi Theta Epsilon, the BU Chapter, hearing “Daria” and saying, “Dude, remember how awesome it was when we heard that song that time with that chick at that bar? And then we smoked up and it was awesome and we watched Robocop and then we threw your sofa out the window? And then we smoked pot? Dude, you have some? No way! For old times, dude, for old times…”

Set List:
Sheep Go To Heaven
Frank Sinatra
Is This Love?
something by someone named Buck Oates????
Stickshifts and Safetybelts
Rock 'n' Roll Lifestyle
Never There
No Phone
Haze of Love
Carbon Monoxide
The Distance
I Will Survive

It was such a relief to hear so much old material. And McCrea's voice was fabulous — no weakness there! He did engage in banter with the audience that bordered on angry, belligerent derision, though. You'd laugh, but then you'd think, “Is he actually angry at the audience?” Especially when he was trying to get the crowd to sing. I am proud to say that we were on the side that sang the loudest. We pleased John McCrea. The other side didn't so much.

The audience lots its momentum during the Buck Oates (still not sure if that's who it was) cover, and I worried about the vibe diminishing even more. But man, to put Stickshifts and Safetybelts right afterwards was a swift and clever recovery. In fact, we learned that the band doesn't actually have a setlist with them — everything's on the fly. Good work, CAKE. Also, congratulations on really doing LIVE versions of your music! It's so fun for the audience to hear songs in a new way.