Gone is Gotham.

Everyone can stop complaining about the heat, please. Don’t you know I’ve been waiting years for a summer with weather as perfect as this one has been? And after such a horrible winter! It hasn’t been a summer of rock and roll, bike rides, and carefree painting, it hasn’t been a summer of weddings and budding romance, it hasn’t even been a summer of decomposing apartment managers (thank God!) But it’s been a hot summer, and therefore a good one, if uneventful.

Well, I did see The Dark Knight, and since everyone has been pouring forth the same obvious praises (It’s the best Batman film to date, Heath Ledger’s performance was un-flippin-believable, No other superheroes need apply, etcetera, etcetera) I will take a minute to make two slight criticisms. Slight because the sheer awesomeness of this movie overshadows most of my nitpicking. I don’t think there are any spoilers here, but if you haven’t seen it yet you might want to play it safe and skip this one.

Nitpick number one: A Missing Character. No, Batman was present and accounted for, as was Commissioner Gordon, Lucius Fox, Salvator Maroni, Harvey Dent, and of course the Joker. They even kept the girl around, which seems very un-Bruce-Wayne-like. So anyway, who could this missing character be? I’ll give you a hint, it’s not a person. It’s Gotham City! This movie was over two and a half hours long, and at no point in it did Gotham make an appearance. Sure, they called it Gotham, but come on. It was Chicago, baldly. I’ve heard opinions and read reviews that praise this decision, to leave the Windy City undisguised, to shoot so many scenes in daylight, because it brings the movie to a very real level, makes it relevant and timely in an age when America is scared of criminals but even more scared of itself. Well that’s nice, but here is what I think: it’s still a movie. It’s still a movie about a man who wears a bat suit and swings around in the dark beating up thugs. Sure, there is crime in Chicago and every other regular looking city in America, but we can see that on the ten-o’clock news. When I watch it on the big screen I want to be taken somewhere else, I want there to be an element of playful darkness and dark playfulness, and no other city has come close to being as delicious to watch as Gotham. Until now. I really missed it in this movie.

Nitpick number two: Christopher Nolan… I love the man, I love the movies he makes, including The Dark Knight. But there is something about his storytelling that pushes my limit. Maybe after making Memento he felt that each transition in all of his subsequent movies could be just as jarring, I’m not sure. I didn’t notice it in Batman Begins, but there were definitely moments in The Dark Knight where I felt like I had been running along with the movie and suddenly, with a scene change, was made to stop where I was, losing some momentum and taking a few extra moments to get back on track. It makes you conscious of the fact that you are sitting in a theater, staring at a screen, and not actually there where the action is taking place. Granted, this happened very few times (maybe twice?) but it left me feeling a little like I did after watching The Prestige, which was, “Am I sure that this movie was made to its absolute greatest potential?” And I don’t think it was. Of course I watched The Prestige a number of times after the first viewing and came to terms with the parts that bothered me and liked the film more and more each time I saw it. Which is what I imagine will happen with The Dark Knight. But as awesome as The Dark Knight was, for now I’d have to say (and I don’t say this lightly!) I liked Batman Begins better. Anyway, considering what I just said about Christopher Nolan, I’d still list him as one of my favorite directors and I really hope he signs on for the next Batman movie. Is it too early to start talking about the next Batman movie?

Well, okay, I don’t like writing reviews. I hope we can consider the above post to be more of a conversation starter than a review. What did you think of the film?


Last night I was told, for the one millionth time, that I look like I am in high school. I know it was the one millionth time because I have been keeping track in my head. When the man said those words, “Do you go to East High?” the sky opened up and a flurry of balloons and streamers fell with celebration to the earth. A marching band gathered round us in a semicircle and played something by John Phillip Sousa, heavy on the cymbals. “You are the one millionth!” a loudspeaker declared. “There were nine hundred ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred ninety-nine before you!” I followed the pomp by saying with a well-rehearsed smile, “Actually, I’ve been out of college for three years now.”

I may be the only woman in her mid-twenties who delights when she looks in the mirror and finds a wrinkle here or there. I’d like, someday, to look my age. Yes, yes, I know. “You’ll be happy when you’re 35 and look like you’re 21.” I know. I know you think that. It’s okay to stop telling me, though.

Tomorrow marks my one year anniversary at my current job. I am a lover of landmarks in time and space, and this one is no exception. There have been quite a few changes since I started last year, both professionally and personally, and maybe this is a sickness but I really enjoy reflecting obsessively on those changes. I love growth.  And I love this job. One year later I can still say that. Anyway, there are some other major landmarks coming up, including the anniversary of my birth, including the one-year anniversary of the disbanding of The Art Table, which we intend to commemorate by playing a reunion show, which you probably shouldn’t miss, if you can help it.

Who invented popcorn, I wonder, or was that one of those “happy accidents”? In this day and age, one cannot freely wonder those types of things anymore without someone sighing “why don’t you Google it?” That’s what you were thinking, weren’t you? “Why don’t you Google it?” Let’s not do it, okay? Let’s not look it up, let’s just wonder. Let’s let that be enough.

Trading one life for another.

Sometimes I have the internet, sometimes I don’t.  I have to check it from time to time, it’s like some kind of variable-interval reward schedule, which is something I learned in my psychology class this summer.  And as long as we’re talking about my psychology class, I might as well tell you that I had my final tonight and I’m pretty sure that I came close to acing it and am pretty confident that I got an “A” in the class, so hooray, there is still a bit of the high school brat in this head of mine.

I’m not going to try catching you up to what may have happened while I was offline; that becomes a very tedious game once a person decides to play it, especially a person whose internet connection is as precarious and unpredictable as mine.  The drunken tightrope walker, which way will she fall, if she falls at all?  No, instead I will just jump right in with a little story that happened yesterday.  It is a nature story, because July is the perfect time for nature stories.

Sunday, yesterday, was a glorious day, and I’m not saying glorious to be flashy, it really was.  That’s the only adjective that could describe it.  Words like “Glorious” exist for a reason, that reason being yesterday.  Anyway, I spent a pie-slice of this glorious day sitting out on our deck doing my last bit of psychology homework, and in this context even that became less of a chore.  From time to time I would glance up from my text book and take in a bit of my surroundings.  I think I wrote here sometime last summer that our deck feels a bit like a tree house because it is on the second story, has a roof, and is surrounded by, well, trees.  So I’m not sure if it brings me back to my tree climbing childhood or what, but from this perch everything about summer seems heightened, or inflated, or magnified, or whatever the appropriate adjective would be.  Glorious.  During one of these breaks my eyes drifted to a spider web in the corner.  I could see a beetle was tangled in its strings, working frantically to free himself.  Within seconds it became clear why: a spider about half his size was lashing out at him, trying, I’m sure, to kill and eat him.  This was highly disturbing, if only on a micro-level.  I tried going back to my text book and leaving nature to its brutal self, but it was as if the screams of this tiny beetle were lashing at my ears.   Absolute terror.  I put myself in that beetle’s shoes, I put myself in that web, and imagined myself tangled up helplessly with a hostile arachnid thrashing at me.  Not so glorious.  So I got up out of my chair, I wish I could say calmly, but actually my heart was racing.  Racing over a beetle.  I picked up a twig that was laying near the scene of the crime and I scooped the beetle right out of the web.  This took a couple tries because he was pretty tangled up.  I felt like I was rescuing a child from the jaws of a bear.  With shaking hands I set him down at the edge of the deck and used the twig to scrape the remnants of web from his back, and seconds later the beetle had scampered off, alive but shaken.  He would be more careful in the future.

Satisfied, I sat back in my chair.   I was a hero, and the sun was shining.  Before returning my attention to my text book, I glanced back at the spider web which was now blowing around in the breeze, in shambles, collateral damage.  The tiny spider that had moments earlier seemed vicious and hateful was now scrambling around desperately, trying to repair his home, robbed of his hard-earned meal, robbed of his very identity as a spider.  I had taken it from him, I had left him humiliated and hungry.  I sunk down in my chair and felt badly for the spider, but it was too late.  I was just another human who had disrupted the natural order of things.  Glorious. (Said this time with irony.)

Beatrice Quimby takes the Bird Quiz.

I’ll be in St. Louis this weekend visiting a dear friend, so let’s pretend it’s for that reason, and not the lack of internet, that I won’t be blogging.   Well actually, my visit is the main reason.  I wouldn’t waste a second of our time together on the computer, and that’s not to belittle my affection for blogging, but to emphasize how much I’m looking forward to this time with my friend!  Plus, as bonuses, I get to see one of my buddies in Milwaukee and another in Chicago on my way down.  Since I’ll be away for awhile, though, I wanted to leave you with a little something to chew on.  The Bird Survey.  (Feel free to leave your own answers in a comment!)

1. Where in the world do you live? I live in Madison, Wisconsin.

2. What kind of habitat do I live in? Madison is a unique habitat in that a large portion of the city is located on an isthmus (a strip of land between two large bodies of water).  The weather in Madison is fairly typical for a Midwestern city, with hot and humid summers and cold, white winters.  Madison is home to a variety of wildlife including humans and red-wing blackbirds.  Politically, the climate is fairly liberal.

3. What does my house look like? My house is a 3-flat in a nice neighborhood.  It looks like a pale yellow barn.  I like it.

4. What do I look like? I have two eyes and a mouth that smiles to reveal 28 teeth (one of them crowned).

5. What color am I? My skin is a Caucasian flesh-tone with somewhat of an olive cast.  I also have brown hair and grayish green colored eyes.

6. How big am I? I am fairly average in height for a female.

7. How much do I weigh? (Maybe birds don’t consider these types of questions too personal.)  I am fairly average here too.

8. What do I eat? I am an omnivore, which means that I eat both meat and plants (but probably a lot more plants).  My favorite types of food are spicy ones, particularly Mexican dishes and curry chicken.  I also love potatoes, avocados, and mangoes,

9. How do I protect myself from my enemies? I try to avoid any people or animals who would be hostile to me.  I try to diffuse potential aggression with kindness.  If I have to curl up in a ball and play dead I will do that also.

10. What is so interesting about me? Well, hopefully some of these interesting things have already been hinted at in other areas of this blog.  As far as birds go, I cannot fly, I don’t have a beak or even feathers.  I have never had a pet bird and I don’t usually feed the birds.  Sometimes I eat them (see question number 8).  I was once pecked violently in the head by an angry red-wing blackbird, and yes, I’ve been pooped on mid-flight.  But I like birds.  They are all right with me.

Birds.  Okay.

Maybe after this you’ll be happy I’ll be taking a few days off from writing.

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    Breena Wiederhoeft
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