February 2005 Archives

busy weekend


Had kind of a crazy weekend: first Friday night, I got together with Lisa and Shayne to watch Ivanhoe. Which was a great movie which I will be writing up as soon as I get caught up on movies. We also had dinner, including this amazing spinach and cheese casserole thing Lisa made. Yum!

Saturday I spent all day working on a friend's website. I'm converting the site to MT so it will work more or less like my photolog. It will be a hundred times easier to maintain but it's kind of a pain now, to have to enter all those images into the new format. I had planned to write a perl script to enter them all at once, but then I realized that because of the information I have to look up about each image, that would be more work than just entering each one by hand.

I finished working just in time to get a shower and get dinner before Christa's birthday party Saturday night, which was a total blast. I was having so much fun that I lost track of time and stayed hours later than I had intended to. We didn't get home until almost 2 am! Nothing wrong with that, except that I overslept Sunday morning and was rushed getting ready for the Stoneline photo shoot for which they had asked me to provide on-site tech support. I was a little irked about having to miss a gallery opening that I had wanted to attend, but the photo shoot was fun and interesting so I can't complain.

I had just enough time to do the research I needed and head to Stoneline. The shoot was at their factory in Hillsborough, which I had never been to before. I planned to stop at Wendy's and get an iced tea (why is it that every fast food place in the world sells vile and undrinkable iced tea, except Wendy's whose tea is pretty good?), but the drive-in had a huge line that I didn't want to wait in just for a tea. So I ended up getting there early, which gave me a chance to walk around and check out the interesting old building they're in, and the extra materials stacked up outside.

Unfortunately I didn't get to take photos of the inside of the factory, which was a really interesting place crammed full of work samples, materials, and all kinds of things. Because when Monte got there to let me in, we got right to work. I did get this sign posted on the door to the room containing the photo studio. I think it means "keep door closed if a/c or heat is on, or if any smelly solvents or stains are being used in the workshop."

Setting up for the photo shoot meant moving the new computer to the factory. Which meant that, after we were done, I had to head to their home office in Chapel Hill and transfer their business email back to the old computer. (Which is a G4 tower and now has system X too, so it hardly seems fair to call it "the old computer.) That only took a few minutes and then finally I got home around 5:30. Lay on the couch watching the America's Next Top Model marathon -- yes I am a sucker, I watched most of it even though it was the most recent season -- until it was time for the Oscars.

We watch the Oscars every year, but we do it in a low-key way. Which means, we only watch for the clothes and to see if anyone says anything stupid. We fast-forward all the songs and commercials and we don't make any effort to see the films nominated for Best Picture. In fact, Georg and I kept track and we had only seen three movies that were nominated for anything this time: House of Flying Daggers, Harry Potter and the Prisoner and Azkaban, and Supersize Me. Georg commented that we had hardly seen anything last year. I retorted that I had seen over 200 movies last year, to which he replied that I knew what he meant. And I did.

Slate had an article bemoaning the boring lack of fashion mishaps in the Oscars these days. I have to admit they have a point. As Slate points out, Oscar gowns have become like menswear: the basic style is the same -- always a floor-length 30's-ish sheath dress -- and the only variety is in the details. In fact, Georg and I noticed that the men were more adventurous than the women last night: that Chinese-style shirt on Jeremy Irons, Johnny Depp's blue tux, and who was it who wore a bow tie under a regular collar? I forget but it was really weird looking. Another guy looked like he was wearing a black velvet tux with satin piping. It was hard to tell, but the fabric looked thick and rumpled like velvet.

Now I'm off and running -- just found out that I have a client meeting at Denovo at 10 which they forgot to tell me about. I haven't had a shower yet and I look like death warmed over because I was up late watching the Oscars. Blegh.

antm alert

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VH1 (aka the other music station that never shows music videos) is running a marathon of America's Next Top Model today. From the info screen it looks like it's the first season. Which is the best, in my opinion. Robin calling Elise a fool because she's an atheist! Ebony throwing a hissy fit because the stylist didn't shave her head correctly! Adrianne getting food poisoning and then sneaking out of the hospital to go to elimination! Elise lecturing the judges about estrogen! Janice looking somewhat less like a blow-up doll! I can't wait to see it all again.

oh lord, it's another meme

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These things are like crack: give in once and you can't resist.

Ten Things I Have Done That You Probably Have Not

(if you do not live with me)

  1. published a book containing the British royal family tree
  2. driven at 40 mph with a bubble machine affixed to the roof of my car
  3. visited the Tarot sculpture garden by Niki de St. Phalle
    had 4 different permanent colors in my hair at one time (also done by Lisa! dang!)
  4. eaten at Morimoto
  5. seen the inside of a crematorium in person, and seen film of a cremation in progress
  6. had my photo in a national newspaper
  7. cooked a dessert that included spinach as an ingredient
  8. started my blog in May 2000
  9. sewed a vintage Dior
  10. answered the phones during pledge drives at 2 different PBS stations to support Dr. Who

and now the follow-up:

Ten Things I Have Done That You May Have Too

(idea from Nellorat)

  1. hosted my own radio show
  2. debugged a webcam uplink while driving in a parade
  3. watched over 200 movies last year
  4. made more than one historically accurate corset
  5. paid more for my computer (not including peripherals) than for my car
  6. read a Chinese newspaper article
  7. slept in a yurt
  8. lied in court
  9. benched 3/4 of my weight
  10. been a daily viewer of ABC soap operas for years

r.i.p. pam bricker

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Georg just emailed to tell me that jazz vocalist Pam Bricker has died. Her website doesn't provide any details but according to the Washington Post it was a suicide. Bricker worked with Thievery Corporation on The Mirror Conspiracy, Sounds from the Thievery Hi-Fi and The Richest Man in Babylon. She was probably best known for "Lebanese Blonde" but she provided the vocals for some of my favorite Thievery tracks.

Georg and I saw her perform with Thievery Corporation at Artscape in 2003. As I recall, Rob and Eric never spoke during the show; instead Bricker did all the announcing and show patter. So in my mind she was sort of the voice of Thievery Corporation, if that makes sense. She wasn't on their new album, The Cosmic Game, but I can only assume that she would have continued to work with them in the future. It's very sad that she won't get the opportunity.

the heiress

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February 22 movie: The Heiress. The month before the Oscars is always slim pickings on TCM, at least for my tastes. Every movie is either super depressing, way too recent to be on TCM, or I've already seen it a dozen times.

This one is in the "super depressing" category. I didn't know beforehand that it was based on a Henry James novel (Washington Square) but that explained a lot. Olivia de Havilland plays a homely, awkward young woman who lives under the thumb of her cold, distant, rich father. She meets and falls in love with Montgomery Clift, whom her father suspects of being a fortune hunter. Does true love win out? Remember this is Henry James and you'll figure it out.

De Havilland is amazing. Her transformation -- first a lonely wallflower, then daring to love, finally having all warmth and compassion crushed out of her -- was magnificent, if not easy to watch. Not many actresses were willing to be so unglamorous. The father is excellent as well, giving sympathy to a part that could have been a cardboard villain. I read that there's a recent version of Washington Square that's truer to the book and goes into more depth with the father. I might get it from Netflix. Then again, maybe I should rent something cheerful instead.

the castle of cagliostro

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February 21 movie: The Castle of Cagliostro. It's interesting to see how Miyazaki approaches movies for different age groups. We speculated that this one was aimed at teenage boys: the hero is a happy-go-lucky crook, and a female spy shows up who mentions having had a sexual relationship with the hero. The plot is a bit romancey -- he rescues a princess from a forced marriage to an evil count -- but the romance is downplayed in favor of the ripping adventure story. We enjoyed it quite a bit, though (like Cowboy Bebop) it suffered a bit from clearly belonging to a series that we hadn't seen. Not that the movie was hard to follow. Just that I could tell I would have enjoyed the interactions better if I'd been following the characters.

poop test


Before talking about the poop test, which may naturally drive away some (or most, or all) readers, I just wanted to say that Thirteen and Nutty and I went to another entrance of the Eno Park yesterday and it was great. The slope down to the river is much gentler and Thirteen had much less trouble climbing back up the hill. The path was nice and wide too. There was a log that they had trouble climbing over, but that was the only obstacle.

Okay. In order for Thirteen to go to the dog park, she has to have a poop test. Or "fecal examination" if you want to sound more technical. But "poop test" means the same thing. I'm glad that they are taking steps to keep dogs with infectious nasties out of the park, but it occurs to me that a dog could pass the poop test and then six months later get parasites and no one would be the wiser.

Anyway. As you might guess, you can't have a poop test without poop. Which I collected in a bag on Saturday afternoon. Ugh. Unfortunately it was right after the vet closed for the weekend, but I figured it would be okay. Because on Friday night, Herve mentioned that he had previously worked in parasitology, and described the poop test as he conducted it. (If you are already grossed out by this post, you should stop reading now. And feel sorry for Georg and me, who heard this over dinner.) According to Herve the sample is placed in a coffee filter, and water is run over it until it completely dissolves. Anything that remains in the filter is a parasite. I'm sorry if I have ruined coffee for anyone. I did warn you.

Armed with this knowledge, I figured that it didn't matter whether the sample was fresh. After all, a dead parasite must be the same size as a live parasite, right? I left it the bag on my porch until this morning when St. Francis reopened. Handed over the bag, and mentioned that it was from Saturday and would it still be okay for their test. Her response floored me: "Was it refrigerated?" The bag of dog shit? No, I didn't put it in the fridge with my food. Imagine that!

So the upshot is that I need to get another sample for the poop test. There's no rush, because Nutty is here for another week or two. I'm not going through all this rigamarole for him too, so we'll have to wait until after he goes home to check out the dog park. I just want to get it over with so I can stop thinking about poop.

the blind swordsman's revenge

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February 20 movie: The Blind Swordsman's Revenge. I think this was one of the better Zatoichi movies so far. Zatoichi avenges the murder of his massage teacher, and rescues the teacher's daughter (along with all the other women) from a brothel where she is being held prisoner. He also befriends a single dad who runs crooked dice games, and convinces the man that a more honest career would set a better example for his preteen daughter. Unfortunately, in the final scenes we see the father clumsily practicing swordplay. As ideal careers go for single fathers, I don't think sword-for-hire is much better than crooked dealer.

marie antoinette

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February 19 movie: Marie Antoinette. Years ago, before we had a DVR, I was watching this movie on TCM one night while Georg was out with some friends. He came back just at the end, and while he was was telling me about his evening I missed Norma Shearer's big tearful final speech. Ever since I've been watching TCM's listings, waiting for them to rerun Marie Antoinette so I could see the ending. Well they finally did on Friday, and I watched the movie on Saturday. And dang if they didn't screw up their schedule and start the movie a couple of minutes late, causing the DVR to cut out just before Norma Shearer's tearful final speech! Argh!

Now I'll never find out what Marie Antoinette said right before they executed her. Because I'm not sitting through this movie a third time. It wasn't bad, but not worth three viewings. Shearer's Marie Antoinette is kind, devoted to her husband and though largely ignorant, concerned about the poor in her own way. We all know that the real Marie Antoinette never said "let them eat cake," but this figure of benevolence was a bit much. The only interesting characters were the deliciously nasty Duke of Orleans and John Barrymore as Louis XV, but neither one is on screen long enough.



February 19 movie: Gambit. Mid 60s crime movie with Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine. I recorded this because I was hoping it would have a mod sensibility, a la The Italian Job or The Ipcress File. It didn't, but I still enjoyed the movie. Caine and MacLaine had good chemistry in this story about a crime caper that succeeds, then fails, then succeeds. It's funny and actually suspenseful at times. I was annoyed in advance at MacLaine's casting as "a Eurasian," but her character was only supposed to be 1/4 Chinese so it was more believeable than Sean Connery as the most hirsute Japanese man ever. (Which I still have nightmares about.) Even if I hadn't enjoyed the movie, Gambit was worth it for this line alone: "Why is it that people who follow people always end up fingering trinkets?"

rhubarb rhubarb


The rhubarb is up! One tiny little sprout, but unmistakeably rhubarb. Yay! It looks like something has eaten one of the leaves, which is weird because rhubarb leaves are poisonous. In fact I've heard you can make an effective organic insecticide from rhubarb leaves. Be that as it may, something seems to have munched on my tiny rhubarb leaf. That'll teach it! My dad once told me that in the theater, when extras are supposed to talk to each other in the background, instead of actually speaking they just say "rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb."

I haven't done much yardwork in the past week, due to the weather and my lingering laziness. I did move a pile of rocks into the backyard. Also I got started on pulling up the vines from the yard, just inside the fence. It was nasty work because the ground was wet and mucky. It's raining so often these days that it may not dry out. Maybe I should just put down some black plastic and be done with it.

Last night we had our friends David and Herve over. Which was great fun, though of course I spent too much time cooking. I wanted to make it low key, but then I remembered that Herve is French, and cooking for a Frenchman was kind of intimidating. Still, I managed to make it look like I hadn't spent all day cooking, which was an accomplishment of sorts. David offered to bring me some heirloom daffodils. Which unfortunately won't bloom this year, but still it will be nice to have them for next year. The ones I planted last year are just now starting to come up. Much later than the ones that were here before; those are already in bloom. I wonder if the new ones are still adjusting to their new home, or if they're just later.



I'm sure no one will blame me for falling so far behind in my movie write ups. I'm going to blow through these pretty quickly to get caught up.

February 6 movie: The Abominable Dr. Phibes. It was kind of depressing to see Joseph Cotten and Vincent Price, both tremendous actors, in a piece of junk like this. They both give it their all and I appreciate that they never behave like they're too good for the material. But really, this movie is sad. Price especially looks like utter hell. With the Bible-themed serial murders, this could have been an inspiration for Se7en. And trashy as it was, I'm a thousand times happier watching The Abominable Dr. Phibes.

February 6 movie: Finding Nemo. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this sweet, funny movie. And I'm probably the last person in the world to see it, so I don't have much else to say.

February 6 movie: Intermezzo: A Love Story. Young piano player Ingrid Bergman falls in love with musical genius Leslie Howard, they run away together, and eventually she gives him up so he can go back to his family. Yawn. I only watched this because it was Bergman's first movie in English.

February 9 movie: Fight, Zatoichi, Fight! Zatoichi feels responsible for a young mother's death (she's accidently killed by bad guys who were gunning for him) so he offers to take her infant child to its father. The kid is pleasantly quiet, and therefore better for Zatoichi to play off than the annoying boy in Zatoichi Challenged. I struggled to remember anything about this movie, but I don't think it was the movie's fault.

February 10 movie: Gaslight. Charles Boyer slowly convinces his wife Ingrid Bergman that she is insane, while detective Joseph Cotten tries to help her. This is an excellent movie but I found it a bit difficult to watch Boyer mentally torturing Bergman.

February 11 movie: Guru. I thought this was going to be really funny, but actually it was juvenile and sex-obsessed, and also not that funny. It's about an Indian guy who comes to the US to get rich, befriends a porn star and asks her to teach him how to be a porn actor. She complies by telling him all kinds of goofy sex-related new age mumbo jumbo, which he turns around and repeats to Park Avenue types as "the guru of sex," at a tidy profit. Plus she's getting married to a fireman she doesn't really love, but it's okay because he's secretly gay. Which the family priest knows and is totally fine with. The priest has also seen the porn star's work. There were a couple of Bollywood numbers, but that alone couldn't save this movie.

February 15 movie: Lover Come Back. The second Rock Hudson / Doris Day movie has them as rival advertising people, but the basic premise (Hudson lying to Day about his identity while she throws herself at him) is the same. Robert Osborne called this funnier than Pillow Talk, and it may have been, but I found the deception more off-putting. Because Hudson wasn't just degrading Day, he was also destroying her career. What does that say about me, that I find the professional betrayal more offensive than the personal? Tony Randall is in both, playing basically the same character, but Pillow Talk has one unassailable advantage: Thelma Ritter in amazing performance as Day's wise-cracking maid. Lover Come Back has Ann B. Davis instead, which is no contest.

February 15 movie: Cowboy Bebop. This was pretty good. I think it would have made more sense if I had ever seen the series. The music was a disappointment, after having heard so much about the fabulous Cowboy Bebop soundtrack. Maybe the Japanese release had better music; we saw it on IFC, dubbed.

February 16 movie: Finding Nemo. Came home from Stoneline while Georg was watching this and caught the second half with him. Still sweet, still funny, I still don't have anything to say about it.

February 16 movie: The Time Machine. I love this movie. The 60s version with Rod Taylor, not the horrible remake with Guy Pierce. The thoughtful tone is so well suited to sf. I wish more movies would take that approach rather than being stupid overblown explodo-fests.

February 19 movie: The Hulk. Speaking of stupid overblown explodo-fests! Oh lordie this movie was lame. Lame! I'm not familiar with the original Hulk backstory, so I don't know how much they messed with it. But I have to ask one thing: why the heck does the Hulk jump like that? Did he do it in the comic? Even if he did, they should have dropped because it made him look ridiculous. We called him the Hippity Hoppity Hulk.

February 19 movie: Hollywood Canteen. This silly but very fun movie suggests that a GI (Robert Hutton, a Jimmy Stewart lookalike) could go to the Hollywood Canteen and in the space of a week win the love of a B movie star (Joan Leslie). The Canteen was a real place, a nightclub for WWII military men to socialize with movie stars. According to the movie it was Bette Davis' brainchild, although the movie also made it seem as though major celebrities did everything from serving sandwiches to washing dishes, so I'm not entirely sure about its accuracy. Anyway this was hardly great art, but it was fun to see all the stars. Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet have a nice little scene, intimidating a guy who danced too roughly with one of the Andrews Sisters. And Alan Hale is in it! He stands at the door and welcomes the millionth visitor to the canteen (Our Hero, of course).

on air


I will be on the air tonight from 10 pm to midnight. Will I remember my indecency warnings? Will the urban guys be ready on time, or will they still be puzzling over how to get the coffin running at 12:10? Will people call with lame requests, which I will play because I'm so accommodating? Tune in and find out! 88.7 if you're local, wxdu.org if you're not.

more outings


As Georg mentioned, we had a really nice Valentine's dinner at Elaine's in Chapel Hill. It definitely ranked up there with Nana's and Four Square as one of the best meals I've had in the Triangle. The only blot on the evening was this chick at the next table. At the end of the meal when the waiter brought her a long-stemmed rose (which they were doing for all the women present) and she turned to her date and said "This is much nicer than the ones you gave me!" Georg and I had a tough time not laughing out loud, we were so amazed at her rudeness.

The worst part was, she wouldn't let it go! She kept going on about how, no offense, but his flowers were totally dead. The poor guy tried to defend himself and say that they weren't dead, they just hadn't come into bloom yet, but she insisted that yes, they were dead. She was laughing like it was funny, but he looked so crestfallen. I felt so bad for him. When they left he came back because she had forgotten her purse, and I so wanted to say "Dump her! You can do so much better!" But I restrained myself. It would have been even worse to add the humiliation of knowing that strangers were listening to his horrible girlfriend act so horribly. But I did make a point of telling Georg that my complimentary flower was no better than the ones he had given me.

(On a related note, if two women have dinner at Elaine's on Valentine's day, do they each get a rose? Do two men get nothing? I think if I were a lesbian I would still want my rose.)

Project Exercise Thirteen continued with a trip to Pet Smart yesterday, and to the Eno park today. In case you missed the ads, Pet Smart is the store where you can take your dogs inside. With all the smells and toys and treats, it's like crack for dogs. Needless to say Thirteen had a great time. She didn't even mind not getting any treats; just seeing everything was fun for her. I took her to see the birds and the kitties, but there was so much else to see and smell that she didn't even notice them. The cats could see her though: they were all arched up and wide-eyed, staring at her. They were behind glass but it must drive them nuts to have people staring at them and dogs walking past all day long.

Today was the Eno Park. She loves it there, but there's a steep hill down to the water that can't be avoided on the trails I know of. That's less than ideal & though we only walked for about 20-25 minutes, Thirteen was totally exhausted. Which is not entirely bad: we've been having problems with her pacing, I think because she's lonely, and tiring her out seems to help. But I don't want to overdo it. Next time I'll try another entrance to the park and see if we can find a trail without that steep hill.



I never do these meme things, but this time I give in. All the cool kids are doing it and you know I can't resist peer pressure.

1. Total amount of music files on your computer?

1501 tracks. Actually a lot of the tracks are radio shows by me and other people, which I record in 15 minute tracks, so I'm not sure exactly how many songs there are. But 1501 files.

2. The last CD you bought was...

Hm. I don't buy that many CDs anymore. Oh I remember: Ethiopiques 17: Tlahoun Gessesse. It was a Christmas present for Georg. He bought me Squire for Hire by Nathan Haines and Ursadelica by Ursula 1000. Both of which I really, really wanted.

3. What was the last song you listened to before reading this message?

If music on TV counts, it was something wretched on VH1 Classic. If TV doesn't count, it was "La Mouche" by Cassius. I think.

4. Write down five songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.

It's hard to pick out just 5 tracks that mean more to me than any number of other tracks. How about my favorite tracks from 5 albums I really like:

  • "Bheer," Panjabi MC, Indestructible Asian Beats
  • "Margerine Melodie," Stereolab, Margerine Eclipse
  • "Evolution," Cinematic Orchestra, The Man with a Movie Camera
  • "Falling In Love Again," Sammy Davis Jr., Live at the Cocoanut Grove
  • "Eine Verabredung," Barbara Morgenstern, Fjorden

5. What 3 people are you going to pass this baton to and why?

Can I pick 4? Kevin J. Maroney, Bummble, Gina and Francesca Bucca (who probably won't respond because she doesn't have a blog. But it's worth a shot).

hooray for black plastic


Georg and I did some good yardwork today. First we put down the rest of the black plastic in front of the house. The sheets I had put down a week ago stayed in place really well, even though it was windy last Thursday. Which gives me hope that it will stay there until the beginning of May. When all the weeds will be dead, and we will take it up and plant dwarf sunflowers along the front of the fence. I got the seeds in bulk from Johnnyseeds.com, enough to cover that whole bank for $7.65. That's a good deal, if I can get them to grow! I have no idea what we'll plant on the slope. Maybe a vine since it's too steep for most regular plants. Flowers would be nice, but they'll have to be in the yellow/orange/red scheme to go with the sunflowers.

After the black plastic we went back to work on stump digging. And I am pleased to say we dug out the last stump from that bed along the driveway. Whew! It was the biggest one, though luckily we didn't know that until we got it out. We thought it was sparse and shrubby and spread out. Actually it had a big woody stump in the middle, which the landscapers had cut down so low that when it rained, the stump got covered with mud and we didn't even know it was there. It is huge. I haven't thrown it in the yard waste bin yet; maybe we'll get a photo tomorrow.

Now that all the stumps are out, I don't know what to do with myself! Well that's not exactly true. There are tons of things to do; I just don't know where to start next. I guess I should start breaking up the clay and turning under the straw in that same bed. Once that's done we'll have to truck in good soil. That's where the sweet peas are going to go and the bed needs to be ready for them soon. Also I need to pull up the vines growing along the ground just behind the bed. Those vines will spread right back over the bed if I let them. Maybe I should do that first.

While I was working on the the stumps, Lina used to sit right by me, just inside the fence, and chew on those vines. They were pernicious but she could pretty well clear a small area, pulling them up and chewing on them. It drove me crazy when she chewed on something I had planted, but when she pulled up the vines it was great. Normally I wouldn't want her so near while I was using heavy tools, but since there was a fence between us it seemed safe. I used to call her my gardening helper. Sorry, I'm making myself feel sappy again.

thirteen's outing


Thirteen has been taking it pretty hard. She's been pacing and acting agitated, just like when she was sick a month ago, but I'm pretty sure she's upset about being alone. She and Lina were almost never separated for their entire lives. In retrospect maybe that was a mistake. Maybe I should have regularly taken them places alone so it wouldn't be such a shock for one to be without the other.

Be that as it may, I can't change it now. So I'm doing what I can to let Thirteen be around other dogs. I took her with me to take Nutty home on Friday, brought her inside and let her check the place out. She used to live there of course, but that was many years ago and the house looks totally different inside. Whether she remembered or not, she had a great time. Sean's other dogs were outside and his cats stayed out of view, but Thirteen just walked around smelling things and following Nutty, looking happier & more engaged than I had seen her since Lina died. Sean and I chatted for a little while, but after about 20 minutes Thirteen started to look scared so I took her home. I guess it was a little overwhelming.

Then yesterday Georg and I took Thirteen with us to lunch at Fosters in Durham. I was just going to let her sit in my car while we ate, but there were no tables inside. We had to sit outside anyway so I figured we'd give it a try. We found a table next to some shrubbery where I thought she might feel protected. Unfortunately it was right in the middle of everything, with lots of people sitting around us and lots of noise. Thirteen probably would have felt more comfortable if we'd sat at a picnic table at the edge of the eating area. She would have been more exposed, but away from the hubbub.

Still, Thirteen did really well. She mainly stood there looking scared, but she did check out the people at the next table, which is pretty brave for her. She seemed really engaged when she saw another dog over on the other side. (Thirteen is afraid of people but loves other dogs.) After a few minutes she even calmed down enough to sit down! Not calm and relaxed sitting, but hey, she was sitting.

She only got to say hi to one other dog. It was a Scotty who we passed on our way back to the car, who snapped at her! Yikes! The woman apologized and I told her it was no problem, but privately I was pretty mad. Still, I was pleased by how Thirteen handled the experience. We overdid it a bit, next time we'll sit in a quieter area. But she wasn't too overwhelmed for there to be a next time.

This may sound like I'm overly babying Thirteen. But you see, Lina was always much more headstrong, and had an aggression problem with dogs she didn't know. Because of that we avoided situations where they might come into contact with other dogs. Which includes just about every place you might take a dog. (Unlike that woman with the Scotty dog who sat right in the middle where other dogs were forced to walk right past it! Sheesh!) We've pretty much kept to ourselves for many years. Add that to Thirteen's natural shyness, and a strange place with lots of strange people and noises, without Lina there to lead the way, is a frightening experience for her. I think it's important for her to get more stimulation in her life, but she needs to be introduced to it gently.

So does anyone have ideas for places I can take Thirteen where she can see other dogs and people, with relatively low stress? When she was little I used to take her to the dog club on Duke East Campus, but I think they shut that down years ago.

blame it on the assistants

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So yesterday "The Gates" by Cristo was unveiled in Central Park. It will only be on display for 16 days. We had already been planning to go up to NY this spring but there's no way we could get there in two weeks. It would have been nice to see a Cristo in person but what can you do. I hope that one of the New Yorkers reading this will go see it and write about the experience and post some photos.

In other news, Fashion Week just wrapped up. Last night the Style channel did a two hour special. Which was, as you would expect from Style, light on the fashion commentary and heavy on the celebrities. Especially celebrity "designers" like Sean John, Baby Phat and now J. Lo. I was amused that, though the Style people uniformly called Kimora Lee Simmons the Baby Phat designer, they ran a quote from Simmons herself admitting that she is not a designer. Something to the effect of "I'm the creative director, so I'm responsible for the way everything looks." Which probably means "I tell the designers in vague terms what I want to see, and they design the clothes, but my name is on them."

I don't expect hard-hitting fashion reporting (as much as such a thing even exists) from Style, but the program never even let on that the Marc Jacobs show had been controversial. We found that out from the NY Times this morning. They said it was his most controversial collection since the "grunge fashion" show he did for Perry Ellis in the early 90s. Which was a success for him, in the sense that it made him famous, but was a terrible flop for Perry Ellis, in the sense that it sold so poorly they had to pull it mid-season. I wonder if this one will be like that, and if it will be more of a problem for Jacobs now that he's designing under his own name.

The funny part was the Times reporter who leapt to the conclusion that Jacobs must have very young design assistants, and that he must have allowed them free reign this season. She kind of came across sounding like the clothes were an unsophisticated interpretation of styles that were played out fifteen years ago, and the brilliant Marc Jacobs ™ could never blow it like that, and therefore he must have passed the whole collection off to some young assistants who didn't know any better. But I might have been misinterpreting her.

I must say it wasn't my favorite Marc Jacobs collection ever. I like his delicate, pretty clothes better. Maybe he got tired of designing pretty things. (I did like the low heels & hope that catches on.) Despite her criticism, that woman from the Times professed to like the collection. In particular a coat that I dubbed the mink potato sack. I wonder if fashion reporters feel obligated to praise the clothes no matter what, to ensure continued access.

one that got away


rabanne.jpgJust happened to be checking Ebay after scoring the birthday dress, and came across an amazing -- make that unbelieveable -- find: a vintage space -age metal dress. It's a knock-off, not a genuine Paco Rabanne, but still. I copied a small scan in case the seller takes the photos down, but you should really follow the link and look at all the pictures. It's amazing.

It was my size but I didn't even bother to bid. An outstanding piece like this would definitely get bid up far higher than I could pay. In fact it went for more than 10 times my budget: $785 was the winning bid! As cool as the metal dress is, to my mind it's not worth that much without the designer label. But at least one person disagrees with me, so I could be wrong.

new day

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It's a new day and time for a new post that isn't depressing and pathetic. Well my eye is better, for starters. Yesterday I cried so much that I broke a blood vessel or something. My right eye was extremely gross, looked like I had pinkeye. But today it's just bloodshot and maybe it will look normal by the weekend. Also I went back to St. Francis to settle up the bill and return the towels they had wrapped Lina in for her trip to the emergency vet hospital, and managed to get through the whole transaction without crying. Well, just a little. I also refilled Thirteen's antibiotics, which were about to run out. Now instead of giving her 3 small capsules twice a day, I have to give her 1 small one and 1 big one (still twice a day). Supposedly this will save us some money. The big pill is still small enough to fit inside a piece of cheese that she will gobble down in one go.

Okay, that was still pretty pathetic. Let me try again. Some seeds arrived in the mail yesterday and I think now I have everything. We're planning a decent sized vegetable garden. Not humongous, but ambitious considering this is our first year at it. We'll see if I can maintain enthusiasm and keep up with it during the summer months. My hope is that writing about it here will shame me into sticking with it, so I won't end up with a blighted row of dried up dead plants and weeds by August.

It's too early to start most seedlings, but I did start the sweet peas at the beginning of February, which are up and sprouting madly. They don't like hot weather and I read that you have to start them really early in NC, if you want any flowers before the heat kills them. They sound kind of high maintenance but I figured what the heck, I'll try them and see how it goes.

If anyone is interested in sharing seeds with us, let me know. We are going to have lots more seeds than we can use, especially summer squash, peppers and tomatoes. I would be interested in either splitting the cost of packets or trading seeds.

I didn't buy all the seeds through the mail; just a few things that I couldn't get locally. The big box stores have tons of seeds, but they're pretty much all the same basic things. Whole Foods also sells seeds, but not unusual varieties, just organic.

Which brings me to the question: what is the point of organic seeds? Does it matter for the plants whether they came from organic seeds or not? If you're not trying to grow organic, then it obviously doesn't matter at all. But even if you are, how much of the pesticides and fertilizers applied to a tomato plant would end up in its seeds? And then how much would end up in the fruit of the plant you grew from that seed?

Georg told me that for the bakehouse's legal requirements, the plants have to be organic for 3 generations before they can be sold as organic. That makes sense because the soil needs time to get rid of whatever toxins are in it. You wouldn't want to pump a field full of artificial pesticides in October, then start a new crop the next March and call it organic. But it seems to me that the origin of the seeds in my home garden is not such a big deal.

Before anyone says anything, yes I am aware that organic fertilizers and pesticides are also chemicals -- duh, everything in the physical world has a chemical composition. In fact I believe that produce sold as organic can be treated with organic pesticides that may be just as harsh as the synthetics. It probably depends on the individual farm, whether they are truly into organic principles or whether they douse their produce with pesticides that happen to be extracted from a plant rather than synthesized in a lab. But I'm thinking about my own garden, where I will try to avoid harsh chemicals if possible. But who knows, maybe I will end up with a vicious aphid infestation and say to hell with organics, give me a pesticide that works!



Just wanted to thank everyone for the kind thoughts and well wishes. It really means a lot to me. My boss at HKB has been wonderful about deflecting clients from me today. I cancelled my hair appointment though I still have to go to Stoneline tonight. But Georg is coming home from work early so Thirteen won't be alone. Also Sean brought Nutty over to stay with us for a few days. Thirteen is always upset and depressed when Lina isn't around and I'm a little concerned about the effect this will have on her health. But she grew up with Nutty so I know it will help her to have him here.

I am still kind of stunned by the whole thing, feeling like Lina is here but just around the corner or something. I guess that's normal. I had been thinking recently that Thirteen might not have too much longer, she's gotten so frail, but that Lina had years left in her. Lina seemed so healthy that I hadn't thought about her death at all. The suddenness of it all has been hard for us, but when I'm not selfishly thinking about myself I have to recognize that it was better for Lina this way. She was happy and, as far as I could tell, in no pain until a few hours before she died. It's good that it was so quick. I just wish she had gone quickly a few years from now.

(I didn't want my last posted photo of Lina to be the depressing one below, which was taken on the way to the emergency vet hospital in Cary. So I dug out the photo above, which I think was taken at my birthday party a year ago.)

r.i.p. lina

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Lina died at 6:30 this evening. She had a tumor on her liver and spleen which had burst and bled into her abdomen, causing her collapse this morning. The tumor had metastasized to the extent that surgery would have given her another month at most, probably much less than that.

Georg and I did not want to put her through the ordeal of surgery just so she could suffer horribly for a few weeks. A quick end seemed like the only choice. And it was quick; at 11:30 this morning she was totally normal, playing in the yard like nothing was wrong. I don't understand how she could have so much cancer and no apparent pain, but I'm grateful for it.

more pet woes


Now that Thirteen's doing okay, it's Lina's turn. In fact she's at the vet right now. I'm really worried. Actually "freaked out" would be a better term. "Scared shitless" would be even better but this is a family venue so I need to watch my language.

We were outside, I was doing yardwork and the dogs were just hanging out. Everything seemed normal, then I looked over and noticed that Lina looked like she was kind of sleeping. Which is weird because she's normally too excited about being outside to sleep. I called her name and walked over to her, and she barely responded. Took both the dogs inside. Lina could walk, but very slowly and with difficulty. I couldn't see a limp or injury and she let me bend all four legs without complaint, but she wouldn't drink any water when I put the dish in front of her.

I called the vet, who had me look at her gums. Ack! They were pale and kind of blue. Which is very very bad. Drove to the vet's office as fast as I could (don't tell Georg but in my haste I left the door unlocked), talking loudly to Lina the whole way to try and keep her awake. By the time we got there, she had deteriorated so much that she couldn't get up the very shallow steps into the office; I had to lift her back legs to help her up.

They saw Lina right away and determined that she is in shock. They don't know why yet. They said they were first going to bring her blood pressure up, and then take some X-rays to try and find out what's wrong. They might have to do surgery or I might have to take her to the vet college in Raleigh. They have no idea at this point. I mentioned Lina's habit of chewing on plants and asked if she might have been poisoned, but Dr. Lindeke said that the symptoms of poisoning wouldn't come on that suddenly.

It really was shockingly sudden. One minute she was fine, running back and forth in the yard like she always does, even trying to play with Thirteen (who is of course way too old to play, but likes the attention). Literally five minutes later she was nearly catatonic. I'm just glad I happened to notice her. What if I had been working in another part of the yard and hadn't seen? If there's any good thing to think about right now, it's the fact that Lina got medical treatment pretty much as fast as possible. She was in the examining room about twenty minutes after the first symptoms.

I decided to come home instead of waiting there because I had Thirteen with me, and also the unlocked door was making me nervous. Dr. Lindeke said it's unlikely that Lina would die while I was gone, but of course she couldn't make any guarantees. They let me see Lina but I was so upset that I didn't stay long. I was worried about making Lina upset and also I wanted to get out of their way.

I almost didn't write this, but I can't really think about anything else. Also writing has kept my mind busy for about half an hour, when otherwise I would have been sitting here waiting for them to call.

the ipcress file

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February 5 movie: The Ipcress File. This was a nice counterpoint to Bond: Michael Caine plays a spy, and a good one, but one who doesn't really want to do it, and who lives and works in a much grittier world. The movie is super cool, even without the glamorous settings of the Bond movies. There's a great scene where Caine runs into his boss at the grocery store, and then lectures the boss on the value of the finer things (i.e. the champignon really are worth the extra money over the plain old button mushrooms). I think Bond would be down with the sentiment, but I can't see Bond cooking his own meals, much less doing his own shopping, not to mention arguing with M in the supermarket while their carts keep banging into the aisles.

As Lisa mentioned, the movie featured some very silly mind control. Which did not detract from my enjoyment. You just have to accept that anything high-tech in a 40 year old movie is going to look dated, and move on. And besides, while the technology itself was dated, the way the characters dealt with it wasn't at all. No cheap gimmicks like making a computer blow up by asking it "why?" (a low to which which my favorite show of the era, The Prisoner, did stoop).

on her majesty's secret service

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February 5 movie: On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Between this and the early Connery movies, I finally get the Bond thing. It's not just the presence of Diana Rigg, although that helped a lot. In the good ones the plots and supervillains and sex-crazed girls are still silly, but the right star can pull it off. Roger Moore just wasn't "rico suave" like Sean Connery and George Lazenby, and Moore's movies were way too campy. (Can I interject how hard it is for me to type "George" with an e? I drop the e every single time.)

It's too bad Lazenby never did anything after this movie. Well according to IMDB he did a lot, but all crap. Some Hong Kong movies, a bunch of Emmanuelle movies, even a stint on General Hospital in 1982. That was around the time I started watching GH, but I don't remember his character. He must have been on very briefly, because there's another character now with the same first name. And they never reuse first names of characters with any import. That's one of the reasons so many soap characters have stupid names: they used all the normal names decades ago. But then again, lots of real kids are being given stupid names these days so maybe they're just following the trend.

Anyway. Lisa pointed out, and I wholeheartedly agree, that Clive Owen strongly resembles Lazenby. Both of them have cleft chins so deep they look like butts. I've only seen a couple of Owen's movies -- Croupier and Gosford Park -- but he seems like he'll be a good choice for Bond. I read that the next Bond movie will be another go at Casino Royale. Coincidentally, Lisa and I decided we should watch the original Casino Royale next. The Clive Owen version isn't even listed on IMDB yet so I guess it will be awhile before it comes out.

the farmer's daughter

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February 4 movie: The Farmer's Daughter. Loretta Young plays a young Swedish woman who takes a job in the home of wealthy political insiders, and somehow ends up running for Congress herself, against the candidate handpicked by her employers. This was a funny movie with an odd combination of a sweet romantic story and a cynical political story, and a great cast: Ethel Barrymore, Joseph Cotten, Charles Bickford. I heard that they originally wanted Ingrid Bergman to play the Loretta Young character, but Bergman thought that playing a Swedish woman in a light comedy wouldn't be enough of an acting challenge.

Barrymore plays the widowed matriarch, Cotten is her son, and Bickford is the family butler and Barrymore's closest confidant. But here's the weird thing. I've always thought that Bickford and Cotten look a lot alike. So much so that I used to get them confused. So what was the deal with the casting? Was I supposed to think that maybe Bickford was secretly Cotten's father? Because that's what I was thinking the whole time. It put a totally different spin on the movie.

the corn is green

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February 4 movie: The Corn is Green. Bette Davis plays a schoolteacher in a Welsh mining town who teaches basic literacy to the unwashed masses, and helps one brilliant student (John Dall, the villain in Rope) get into Oxford. Dall's Welsh accent was terrible, but at least he tried. Davis' character wasn't Welsh, and her voice is always a bit affected so she didn't really have to speak differently.

This could have been an interesting story about preserving cultural identity vs. self-improvement, but they gloss over that pretty quickly. After a brief and easily overcome period of negativity, no one in the village is threatened or resentful that Dall stops working in the mine, starts talking differently and dressing differently from the rest of them. Which is not to say that I wanted to see the villagers trying to keep him down. Just that I think it would be more natural to see some suspicion when a member of a close-knit community isolates himself from the rest, as if "bettering himself" means "not one of us anymore."

It reminds me of that Monty Python sketch about the playwright whose son wants to be a miner. The playwright is angry and accuses his son of behaving like he's too good for the London theater community.

So was Old Mother Hubbard Welsh or something? Because at the end of the movie the old ladies in the village dress up in their best clothes to celebrate Dall getting into Oxford. And I swear to god they looked just like Old Mother Hubbard. That pointy stove-pipe hat and the big dress with the white ruffled collar and the big buckle.

the paradine case

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February 3 movie: The Paradine Case. Lesser Hitchcock movie with Gregory Peck as a lawyer who falls in love with his client, a woman accused of murdering her husband. This is really sad, but I saw the movie three days ago and I can't remember whether she really did it or not. Goes to show how unmemorable the movie was. There were some nice Hitchcock moments, like one where a witness enters the courtroom and the camera follows him walking behind the defendant, while she tries to see him out of the corner of her eyes without moving her head. It's hard to explain but it was a nice shot.

I just read on IMDB that Selznick really screwed with the movie, insisting on actors that Hitchcock didn't want and demanding extensive changes, even reshooting part of the movie himself. Maybe it would have been a better movie without all those changes.

smilin' through

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February 2 movie: Smilin' Through. This was a fairly silly movie starring Norma Shearer and Leslie Howard. Howard plays a bitter old man whose true love was murdered by a jealous rival on their wedding day. Shearer plays the ghost of the murdered girl, who shows up now and then to tell Howard how happy they'll be when he dies too. Thanks, ghost, for keeping the poor guy chained to your memory for his whole life! Good to know you have his best interests at heart! Shearer also plays an orphaned niece living with Howard as his ward. She falls in love with the son of the man who killed Howard's fiance, and Howard is a total bastard about it. Until the very end when he finally sees the light and gives the young couple his blessing, then immediately drops dead and rejoins his ghost fiance.

I hate to say this, but the more Norma Shearer movies I see, the less I like her. She more or less plays the same character in every movie; she just doesn't have the range of someone like Bette Davis to keep bringing me back again and again. I do like Leslie Howard but he wasn't so convincing as an old man. Probably I judged him unfairly because of just having seen Kind Hearts and Coronets.

the merry widow

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February 1 movie: The Merry Widow. I've fallen so far behind in writing up movies that I'm having a hard time remembering the details. But I'll do my best.

I watched this because Jaime Weinman, whose culture blog I love, wrote about it the day before they showed it on TCM. I wonder if that was a coincidence or if he knew it was on TCM's schedule? Anyway he was mainly writing about the impact of the Hayes Code on the movie, which was made just before they started enforcing the code, but came out right after. Apparently the basic plot wasn't changed at all, but many trivial and seemingly pointless edits were made to accommodate the code. For example, "Danilo (Maurice Chevalier) says: 'Let's go upstairs, to the private dining room.' In the cut version, with a jump cut, this becomes: 'Let's go... to the private dining room.'" Since they do go to the private dining room, which features a bed rather than a dining table, it's hard to see why mentioning its location upstairs was the problem.

On the other hand, one of Weinman's comments mystified me when I read it: "Danilo greets each of the "Maxim girls" individually. One line is cut: when he asks one of them: 'Do you still cry when you love someone?'" Why on earth would this make a difference? But on seeing the film it made a little more sense. First because Maxime's is clearly a whorehouse, and second because his tone of voice when saying the line makes it sound like he's talking about the noises she makes during sex.

Anyway it was a good movie, very funny. There was one hilarious scene where the King catches Chevalier in the Queen's bedroom, and they all pretend to be having a pleasant conversation so the servants won't catch on. Except they don't actually talk about anything, just mumble gibberish at each other.

change of plans

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Well, my big plans to get tons of yardwork done today had to be cancelled, as did a scheduled trip to Stoneline to help them with their computers. All thanks to eating something for breakfast that, well, let's just say it didn't agree with me and leave it at that. At least Georg wasn't here so it didn't happen to both of us.

Good thing I got some yardwork done yesterday. Took out another stump, and also worked on the black plastic at the very front of the yard, in front of the fence by the road. It's a collossal pain in the butt to get a mower up there, so we want to kill the weeds and grass-like substances, and put in flowers instead. We had put plastic down there a few weeks ago, using metal "garden staples" -- small U-shaped stakes -- to hold it down. But the plastic is about 10 feet wide, so it kind of hung over the edge of the slope. The wind goes right up that slope, got under the plastic and blew it all over the place.

I had the brilliant idea of turning the plastic, so instead of one sheet all along the front that hung over the slope, there were several sheets that each went all the way down the slope and into the ditch. Don't know that makes sense; I'll try to take a photo tomorrow. Anyway I thought that the wind might not get right under the plastic that way. The only problem was, last time Georg and I worked on this together, and wrestling several 10 × 40' sheets of plastic up and down that steep slope by myself was harder than I expected. Especially since the slope and ditch are covered with prickly brambles. After about three hours I was only half-way done, but definitely finished for the day.

In the evening Lisa and I hung out, had dinner and watched great movies. (Which I will write up as soon as I get caught up on the movie list.) Fun, fun! A nice treat after getting so much done during the day.

ebay score


My birthday present to myself arrived today! A major score from Ebay. It's a matching dress and coat, made of striped metallic fabric. It fits just about perfectly and it's in excellent condition. A few loose threads, but I think if I clip them it won't be noticeable at all. It looks handmade, and well made: nice details like the snaps are covered, and the panel running across the waist is cut on the bias so the stripes go diagonally. Best of all, it matches perfectly with one of the pairs of vintage shoes from Beggars and Choosers.

I couldn't get a photo of myself wearing it because Georg isn't here and I don't have a remote release for my camera. So here are photos of the dress and coat hanging up. Somebody invite me to a party so I can wear this outfit!

king solomon's mines


January 30 movie: King Solomon's Mines. Adventure movie based on an H. Rider Haggard story and starring Stewart Granger and his hair! Alas, this was the first major Hollywood role for Granger's hair, and it only made a few appearances. It spent most of the movie hiding under one of those safari hats. When the hair does appear, it's a mere shadow of the massive pompadour it would someday be.

Oh, and Deborah Kerr was also in the movie, playing basically the same role as Katharine Hepburn in The African Queen, but with much less gusto. The real star was the African landscape. Beautiful scenery and convincingly scary thrills, notably a stampede that nearly tramples the adventurers. There was a spider early on that was so phony it could have wandered in from Mystery Science Theater, but after that they did a great job with the animal effects. Another nice touch was using no soundtrack music except that provided by the African people they meet along the way. I have no idea how realistic their portrayal of African communities were, but at least they seemed to be aware that people in different parts of Africa would have different cultures and speak different languages.

I couldn't see Granger as Allan Quatermain without imagining him decades later as the aging opium addict in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic (the less said about the movie, the better). I've never read any H. Rider Haggard but I did read a book once (Evil Sisters by Bram Dijkstra) about negative portrayals of women in late 19th century science and literature, and early 20th century film. As I recall Dijkstra spent a lot of time on Haggard. According to Dijkstra, Haggard treated Africa as dark, mysterious, nonrational, capricious, and dangerous as a symbol of his (Haggard's) negative view of femininity, which is apparently lying in wait to snap its vagina dentata and rob men of their virile essence or something.

It's been a long time since I read that book, and I may be seriously misrepresenting it. But I do remember thinking that Dijkstra's point was a lot more convincing when he wrote about scientists who did explicitly claim that women were parasites who used sex to sap men of their life essence and intelligence through their semen. (No I'm not making that up.) But even there, I don't remember Dijkstra convincing me that this was mainstream thought at the time, or just a few wackos. And I really wasn't sold on Dijkstra's idea of late 19th century literature as rife with male authors conflating brown people with women, treating both as gaping maws of evil.

I do remember that Alien 3 came out around the time I read Evil Sisters and seemed to fit in pretty well with Dijkstra's thesis. The hero is a woman, but not all that womanly: Ripley looks quite masculine with her lean body and shaved head. On the other hand the alien is a wet, squooshy, unstoppable reproductive machine. Heck, its face kind of looks like a vagina dentata. And the tagline for the movie was "The Bitch is Back," but the alien is the bitch, not Ripley. But maybe this is one of those ideas that you see everywhere just because you're looking for it.

Well, this is a really long digression. I guess if I have a point, it's that I couldn't see Dijkstra's thesis at all in the movie version of King Solomon's Mines. Just a fun adventure movie. Which of course doesn't mean anything. He was writing about a book, not a movie adaptation made decades later.

the usual suspects


January 30 movie: The Usual Suspects. The only other time I'd seen this movie, I didn't know the big twist. Actually, I didn't even know there was a big twist, but Georg called while I was watching it (he was still living in NY at the time) and I told him what I was watching, and he said something about "the 'who is Keyser Soze' secret," and then I knew to look for it, and it was fairly late in the movie so almost everyone was dead, which made it pretty obvious who it was -- of the two who were left, it was the one they weren't pointing you towards.

This time I wondered how the movie would hold up if you know the secret already. Pretty well actually. The movie is tight and holds together well enough that there's more to enjoy than just figuring out who it is. There were a few clues early on (one that my friend Peggy pointed out to me, in a very early scene the person in question holds a cigarette the way they do in Eastern Europe, and another time he kind of smirks when no one is looking at him) but nothing that made me feel stupid for not figuring it out sooner. In a way, the knowledge that all the flashbacks were just spinning yarns makes the bulk of the movie seem kind of pointless, but I still enjoyed it.

on air


I will be on the air tonight (Thursday) from 10 pm to midnight. My first show at the new time in safe harbor, so expect some naughty words. 88.7 if you're local, wxdu.org if you're not.

sarah vs. the stumps

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It has come to my attention that at least one person in the world was actually interested in the continuing saga of me vs. the stumps. That's all the encouragement I need to keep writing!

I took two more stumps out on the relatively warm days last week. They came out super easy. Partly this is because these two were small and shrubby -- lots of small branches sticking out of the ground rather than one big stump. But also I think the ground being wet made a big difference. I know, I know, never cultivate wet ground, it's supposed to be really bad for the soil. But dang it, the wet soil was so much easier to dig up. Instead of having to repeatedly stab the digging bar into the ground all around the stump, I could pretty much just dig deep enough to get under the roots, then push the digging bar all the way under, pry it up and the stump lifted right out. Not sure if that makes sense or not. Besides, that clay dirt is so awful that I could hardly make it any worse. I'm going to have to bring in truckloads of good soil before planting.

I've still got three stumps to go. Well actually four, but I'm not sure what to do about the fourth. It may be located right over the sewer pipe, which I obviously don't want to stab into with a giant metal blade. How deep are sewer pipes? If I called the water company, could they tell me? They put it in, they ought to know. Anyway, as for the fourth stump I might just have to cut off that one at the ground and give it a good dose of Round-up to kill it or something.

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