October 2005 Archives

the 47 ronin part 2

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October 26 movie: The 47 Ronin Part 2. When Part 1 left off Lord Asano was dead, his retainers were scattered, and the chamberlain was secretly plotting to avenge his death by killing Lord Kira, the man who provoked Asano. Part 2 is kind of political: to throw people off his trail, the chamberlain appeals to get the house of Asano reformed. Unfortunately his appeal looks like it may be successful, which would remove his cause for revenge. I didn't really get this part: it's clear that killing Kira is a crime and all the retainers will be sacrificing themselves regardless. So what do they care if it looks justified or not? Also, everyone seems to know exactly what the chamberlain is planning, so his attempt to conceal his motives wasn't very effective.

Lady Asano isn't dead, by the way, nor did she seem to have lost much social status. So maybe the hair-cutting in Part 1 was done to show her grief at the death of her husband. Or maybe her shame at her husband's disgrace. I don't know, it was never explained. Anyway the 47 ronin get their revenge about an hour in. The second half of the movie deals with them visiting their lord's grave, then turning themselves in and calmly awaiting their sentence. They all seem pretty happy. I guess maybe the pressure was off once they'd achieved their goal. And since they knew death was inevitable, they weren't upset about it.

October 25 movie: Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Having greatly enjoyed the three Wallace and Gromit shorts, I expected to love this. And I did. It's terrific! Very funny and happy, but the gentle fun it pokes at the villagers prevents any trace of saccharine. Georg and I both laughed our asses off. And though uber-tech CGI animation has its place, there's something incredibly charming about Nick Park's clay animation. I think it's the tactile quality. You can even see fingerprints on the faces at times.

The movie began with a hysterical animated short about four penguins on Christmas day. Even if hadn't enjoyed Wallace and Gromit (perish the thought) it would have been worth going for the short. Georg told me later that they were from the movie Madagascar, which I haven't seen. But I'd like to, if those penguins are in it.

No good trailers, although we did get one "what the ???" moment in the pre-trailer ads: a Honda Civic ad featuring music by MIA. First she's the darling of the music press, and now this. Can the media backlash be far behind?

the seventh victim

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October 23 movie: The Seventh Victim. I recorded this because the info screen described it as a young woman searching for her mising sister who discovers Greenwich Village satanists. Hey, I'm there! Actually the satanists are kind of dull, they look like a middle class bridge club or something. And the plot is really nothing to write home about. But the movie does have a nicely creepy atmosphere.

getting to be a habit


In the past couple of days we've had a full physical for Thirteen, a full physical for me, and an acupuncture visit for Thirteen. That's a lot of trips to the doctor! Although the regular vet is very near our house, the acupuncturist and my doctor are way the heck out, so it's a lot of time driving too.

On the bright side, everything went fine. Thirteen has a few minor ailments -- the creaky noise in her hip that I mentioned before, and also she has a minor infection in her ears. She isn't shaking or scratching her ears so I didn't even know about it. They gave me some goo I have to put in her ears every day. Unfortunately the vet with expertise in orthopedics is the one we didn't get to see. They were supposed to consult and call me back yesterday but they haven't yet.

Jane always goes to vet appointments too, for moral support. Thirteen is so much calmer with Jane there. Jane can be a bit of a pain though. She's not too rambunctious, but she tends to put her head right in the way while the vet is working on Thirteen (requiring me to hold Thirteen still and pull Jane away at the same time). The acupuncturist and the regular vet disagree as to whether Jane is curious, or trying to protect Thirteen.

I'm inclined to think the former, curiosity. Jane doesn't seem to be warning off the vet; she looks like she just wants to know what's going on. On the other hand, she does show some protective behaviors with me. For instance, I usually get dressed in the corner of the bedroom, kind of behind the bed. She likes to follow me, then turn around just in front of me and sit down. So she's sitting with her back to me, looking out of the room. She does it almost every time. It really does seem like she's guarding or protecting me. Maybe that's the shepherd in her. It's very sweet.

We go to the vet all the time for Thirteen, but I hardly ever see my doctor. Which means that I tend to save up questions & concerns, and bring a list with me to my rare physicals. This time I had Thirteen's list and mine on the same piece of paper, which was kind of funny in an efficient way. The list was like:

  • bald spot on foot
  • creaking in hip
  • compulsively licking front leg
  • stomach pain: ulcer?
  • headaches

Good thing I could remember whose list was whose! It would have been really funny if I had told the vet that Thirteen had a possible ulcer, and my doctor that I have a bald spot on my foot.

I like my doctor a lot, but I do not like having to get into that horrible robe and then sit by myself in a cold examining room for forty minutes. I think they should let the patient stay fully dressed for the discussion part of the visit, and then have the doctor leave and let the patient undress for the exam. Come to think of it, seems like they used to do it that way. I wonder what changed.

By the way, he thinks I do not have an ulcer. Whew! He did agree that those bad headaches are probably migraines, and gave me a prescription specifically for migraines. I don't get them often but when I do, it will be nice to have something that actually works. I didn't even know how to get the prescription filled: I thought they would do it at the front desk of the clinic. That's what we always do at the vet! The doctor said I should be glad that I've had so little need for prescription medication.

what's up, tiger lily?

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October 21 movie: What's Up, Tiger Lily? Another movie to watch while working. I've seen it a bunch of times and I have to admit, it doesn't really hold up to repeat viewing. It has very funny moments, but it tends to drag. This is a reminder to myself not to watch this movie but once in a long while.

van helsing

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October 21 movie: Van Helsing. BW Ventril was right: this movie has everything. Everything! It's got Dracula, Dr. Frankenstein and the monster, werewolves, vampire bat creatures, James Bond-meets-steampunk type gadgets, superheroes, it just kept going.

It was kind of like a deranged Abbott & Costello movie: Abbott and Costello Meet The Wolfman and Frankenstein and Dracula and the Vampire Bat Creatures. It wasn't just bad, it reveled in badness. Gloried in it. It was a glorious celebration of bad. All Van Helsing lacked to be absolutely perfect was mummies. Mummies and Godzilla.

pride and prejudice

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October 20 movie: Pride and Prejudice. As I mentioned in my last post, I just rewatched the Jennifer Ehle /Colin Firth movie. I've been working a lot lately, and much of it has been repetitive work that requires partial but not complete attention. Perfect for bringing the laptop out to the living room and watching a long movie I've seen many times before.

I've seen 3 versions of Pride and Prejudice. (this one, the Greer Garson/Lawrence Olivier Hollywood movie and a BBC miniseries from the 70s) and this is by far my favorite. Mostly due to Ehle's acting. She has a communicate a lot, often without speaking, and she succeeds tremendously well. And the 6 hour length allows far more completeness than is typical for a book adaptation. A few things still had to be left out (for instance most of the friendship between Lizzie and Colonel Fitzwilliam) but still, it's gratifying how much they were able to keep, and how true it is to the letter and the spirit of the book.

This movie is truly how I visualize Pride and Prejudice when I'm reading the book. I'm kind of dreading the new Keira Knightley version. The bar is set so high, I can't imagine it will satisfy me in comparison. I don't think I'm going to see it.

not a great reader

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Pride and Prejudice fever seems to be in the air. I guess it's that new Keira Knightley movie that's got everyone excited. A few days ago Georg gave me a link to an interesting essay on common Pride and Prejudice myths. I had heard most of the myths before, and identified them as such, but it was still interesting to read it all collected so well. And then the next day I heard a radio talk show about the book, in which most of the misconceptions in the essay were repeated! I did enjoy the program very much. But it was still kind of depressing to hear not just the callers but the scholars stating matter-of-factly that Elizabeth Bennet was a rebel, she reformed Mr. Darcy, etc.

The radio show also trotted out a myth that I've heard many times but wasn't mentioned in the web essay: that Elizabeth was a great reader. "She's seen reading many times," said one of the scholars, and I must say I'm dismayed to hear a self-proclaimed Austen expert say something so totally unsupported by the text.

Aside from correspondence, Lizzie is shown reading exactly one time: one evening while she is at Netherfield, during Jane's illness. She joins the party after dinner, finds them playing cards and decides that the stakes are too high for her, so she will read instead. Mr. Bingley offers her full access to his library, but she declines, saying that the few books lying on a table nearby will suffice. Miss Bingley sneeringly calls her a great reader who takes no pleasure in anything else, and Lizzie replies that she is not a great reader, and takes pleasure in many things. The party begins to talk about other things and Lizzie finds their conversation so fascinating that she can't concentrate on her book, soon putting it aside to stand by the card table and listen in. When they stop talking, she leaves the room.

Hardly a depiction of a devoted reader. I'm inclined to take Lizzie's word for it that she is not a great reader; instead her hobbies seem to be needlework and especially walking, both of which are mentioned many times. Other Austen heroines (Anne Eliot and Marianne Dashwood for example) are convincingly portrayed as avid readers, but I think Lizzie is more like Emma Woodhouse: lively, intelligent, and reasonably well educated, but not devoted to books.

Why do so many people assume that Lizzie is a great reader? My theory is that the devoted fans of Pride and Prejudice tend to be women who themselves love reading, and who identify to some degree with Lizzie. Lizzie is intelligent and witty, and therefore she must be well-read. Also I think the scholar on the radio's comment that Lizzie is "seen reading many times" was telling. Lizzie is often seen reading -- in the movies. I just rewatched the Jennifer Ehle movie and she's reading all the time. I guess that must have influenced the way people think of the original story.

bpal reviews

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More BPAL reviews from the big Halloween order:

Black Opal, redux: After a couple of hours it turned to baby powder. Alas!

Morocco: I just put it on and it's too soon to tell, but it's not impressing me. I was expecting sandalwood and spices, but all I'm getting is a sort of vague perfume. Kind of like a men's scented soap. At least it's not overpowering and/or headache inducing. So I can give it a little while and see if it improves.

Perversion: The smell in the vial scared me a bit, and on first application it smelled strongly of wine. But that disappeared quickly & it softened to a yummy scent that's so well blended I can't pick out the notes. I don't really smell tobacco or leather, and definitely not rum, and I don't know what tonka smells like. But it's really nice. I thought it would be a strong scent only suitable for boozy nights out, but I think with a light application it would work during the day.

Dia de los Muertos: Last year's version of this was described as smoke and dried leaves and sweet chocolate and tobacco. In other words, yummy nummy. But all I get from this one is jasmine. I hate jasmine.

Trick or Treat: Now this is a winner. In the bottle it smells weird, like sugar and creamed corn. But on me, it's pure sugar, but not overpowering like Sugar Skull. I do get a little bit of corny scent from it at first, but I'm not sure I would be able to identify it as corn if I hadn't known the scent was based on candy corn. Which is funny considering candy corn doesn't smell anything like corn. After a couple of hours it settles down to a nice light sugar. This is what I hoped Sugar Skull would be..

Looks like I have 2 winners from the Halloween series: Devil's Night and Trick or Treat. And 3 losers: Samhain, Dia de los Muertos, and Sugar Skull. I still have a bunch of catalog scents to try from that order.

swing time

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October 16 movie: Swing Time. I think I've run out of things to say about this movie. So I'll just say how much I love it. It's one of those obscenely silly Fred and Ginger plots (although at least this one doesn't hinge on everybody neglecting to say the one sentence that would clear everything up instantly, like Top Hat). I think my favorite song in the movie is "The Way You Look Tonight."

waterloo bridge

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October 16 movie: Waterloo Bridge. Good God this movie was depressing. I wouldn't have recorded it if I had known how it was going to turn out. Robert Taylor and Vivian Leigh play a soldier and a ballerina who fall in love in the early years of WWI. He's called up before they can get married, then lost for dead during the war, and she's alone and poor and ends up whoring to survive. Lo and behold, he's not dead after all! They reunite, but she can't handle the shame so she throws herself under a truck. Ugh.

the life aquatic with steve zissou

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October 15 movie: The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. I enjoyed this, but not as much as I expected to. It had its great moments, but it seems like with every Wes Anderson movie I see, the beautiful moments get sparser and the meandering self-indulgence gets more intrusive. Great soundtrack though. I thought about buying the soundtrack album but I settled for downloading Seo Jorge's version of "Life on Mars?" from iTunes.

state fair

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The state fair was great! We ran into Lisa B. (in front of the mini donut stand, where else?), saw the cool new exhibition building, and the duck races, and I got to assist with the warmup show at the doggies of the wild west! Eeee! It was before the dogs came out, alas, but it was a fun magic trick with "Calamity Jo." For most of the trick I held a bag containing a potato, an apple and an orange. Then I picked the orange and Calamity Jo cut it open to reveal a playing card. It was fun!

Unfortunately I have to get some work done tonight but I'll try to get my photos posted tomorrow.



Looks like the anti-spam features work a little differently in MT 3.2. For one thing, I can't figure out how to make it close comments on old posts. In the interests of not wasting my time deleting comment spam, I have turned on moderation for the time being. Don't be offended if your comment doesn't appear immediately. If you're a real person and not an evil spammer, I'll approve it as soon as possible.


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I just upgraded to Movable Type 3.2. Everything seems to be working fine but please let me know if you notice anything odd or broken.

I got burned by the mt-blacklist bug, and though it isn't the same thing at all I played it safe this time. I did a clean install: instead of overwriting the old program files with the new version, I installed a fresh copy of Movable Type into a new directory, made sure it worked, and then renamed the directories. In a few days when I'm sure everything is OK, I'll delete the old version.

the manolo he invented the shoe blog


The Manolo Shoe Blog is deranged. Be sure to check out the Gallery of the Horrors.

"Why? Why would someone wear the shoe that looks like the slipper that belongs on the foot of the mental patient?"

bpal halloweenies

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My Halloween BPAL order arrived today! Yay! It was a big one, with scents from the Poe series, "A Demon In My View," the Halloween series, and some imps from regular catalog too.

Here's what I've tried so far:

  • Devil's Night: I was worried that this would be too much for me, but it's a beautiful light, sweet smoky scent. Smoke like an outdoor fire, not like incense. I think this may be that perfect autumn scent I've been looking for.
  • Samhain: Mainly apple and spice, kind of a cidery scent. But really strong and cloying. Like falling into a cider press. It was threatening to give me a headache so I washed it off.
  • Spirits of the Dead: Gorgeous tea scent. My first thought is Embalming Fluid without lemon. But I'll have to try them side by side to get a better comparison.
  • Black Opal: Mmmm. I think this is the first scent I've tried that was vanilla but not sweet. It's wonderful. Very light. Unfortunately I am an idiot, and didn't close the imp properly. I lost about 1/4 of it to leakage. Time to order a bottle!
  • Sugar Skull: This is the biggest disappointment. It was horrible. And I was so sure it would be fantastic! It was overpowering and sickly. Like nasty burned sugar. And really strong too. I only put on the tiniest dab and it was wafting that awful smell all around me. Oh well, time to do another sale post.

And that's all I can try in one day. I'm feeling a bit overloaded with the scenties.

the 47 ronin part 1

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October 15 movie: The 47 Ronin Part 1. I stumbled onto this on IFC about 20 minutes in. It's really interesting to me to see movies about iconic, semi-historical people or events from other cultures. (Like Chinese movies about Wong Fei Hung.) I imagine it's sort of like someone who didn't know much about the US watching a movie about Davy Crockett or Abraham Lincoln. They might not learn that much about who Davy Crockett really was, but they'd learn something about the values we have assigned to Davy Crockett, what his story means to us.

Anyway, the 47 Ronin is a famous story about 47 samurai who avenge their lord. According to the movie, the lord was unfairly forced to kill himself after a fight with another lord. The other guy was at fault but was in good with the emperor, so the 47 ronin's lord took all the blame. I'm not exactly sure of the details because I missed the first few minutes. When I came in the lord was just killing himself and the lord's wife was instructing her servants to cut off her very long hair. I don't know if that meant she was about to kill herself too, or if she was going to be banished to a lower class or something. She isn't seen again so I guess the hair-cutting tells you everything you need to know, if you're familiar with medieval Japan.

Part I dealt with the death of the lord and the arguing among the samurai about what to do. The chamberlain, who I gather was the head samurai in charge of the household, comes up with a plan to avenge the lord, gathers the loyal 47 (actually I guess that would be 46, since the chamberlain would be the 47th), and fakes out the other samurai who aren't part of the plan.

I didn't really understand that part of the movie. All the samurai want revenge, but most of them don't trust the chamberlain enough to sign an oath of loyalty in blood before knowing his decision. He tricks the ones who didn't sign into thinking that he's a dissolute drunk who doesn't care about revenge. But they all want the same thing! Why did he have to shut them out? Clearly I was missing something. I hope Part II clears it up. Which reminds me, I have to schedule that in the DVR right now.

harbingers of fall

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It's finally starting to feel like fall. The weather is sunny and cool and -- well, I can't go all the way to dry, but at least it's not 1000% percent humidity anymore. It's on the way to dry, which is always a harbinger of fall. I'm able to wear tights and sweaters during the day, and I'm wearing my fuzzy slippers for the first time tonight! Also we put the flannel sheets on the bed. In the garden we started our fall planting this weekend, with 3 hydrangeas plus a few perennials. And we mowed the lawn for possibly the last time till spring (though realistically, it will probably need it one more time). I ordered 400 daffodils for the bank along the driveway, and I have plans to get a truckload of compost next week.

And the fair is in town! Yay! The fair! We're going on Wednesday afternoon. I can hardly wait. I've been watching the faircam obsessively to tide me over.

The birds are flocking to the feeders again. We got a new feeder that fits inside the bathroom window, and is mirrored on their side so we can get right up close and watch the birds without them seeing us. It's the coolest thing.

Also, in what I hope will be a new autumn tradition for me, today was the most excellent BPAL Yule update. I restrained myself, only ordering things that sound like sure bets:

  • Gingerbread Poppet: just like you would guess, it smells like gingerbread
  • Hearth: candied chestnuts with brown sugar, honey, cedar and pine
  • Lick It: peppermint candy canes!
  • Snow White: the lab description didn't turn me on, but reviews of last year's formulation describe it as creamy vanilla goodness.

I also ordered this month's lunar blend, Beaver Moon. I was expecting it to smell dark and animalistic, all musky and woodsy and maybe even civety (the dreaded cat butt). In which case I wouldn't have ordered it. But instead they went for the goofy joke and made it like cheesecake and cupcakes! Ha! I'm hoping it won't smell too much like cheese, but even if it does I have to at least try it.

It looks like I went for all sweet and foody scents, but I have a "watch list" of several others, for which I want to see the reviews before I order. There's another mint scent called Nuclear Winter which I'll probably order if it isn't too ozoney, and another called Talvikuu, "skeletal limbs of birch and fir coated in a thick, impenetrable blanket of snow," that could be really good. The Yule scents will be available until January 15 so I can wait and see what other people say about them.

The lab have sped up their turnaround to about 6 weeks, and my massive Halloween order may arrive tomorrow! Well, probably not. But maybe Tuesday. The first reviews are just starting to be posted and I can't wait to try them. I may even start posting reviews again. Best of all, the Halloween scents are still on sale for another month. So I can fill out the collection if any that I didn't order get rave reviews.


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October 13 movie: Dangerous. This was part of a series on TCM a couple of nights ago: they showed Dangerous, Slightly Dangerous, Dangerous When Wet, Dangerously They Live, and wrapped it up with Safety Last. Ha!

Anyway this was a Bette Davis weeper. Davis plays a jinxed actress who is taken in and given another chance by Franchote Tone. She works her jinx mojo on him, ruining him financially and socially, but then she sacrifices all to pay her moral debts. It wasn't a great movie, and without Davis it wouldn't even have been good.


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October 12 movie: Horsefeathers. The movie has my all-time favorite Marx Brothers' visual gag -- burning the candle at both ends -- and a couple of my favorite songs: the "Whatever It Is, I'm Against It/I Always Get My Man" medley and "Everyone Says I Love You." I tried to learn that wacky Groucho dance from the opening number where he swings his leg in a circle, and I couldn't even begin to do it. Did he have double-jointed hips or something? I need to take up yoga.

Everyone says "I love you,"
but just what they say it for I never knew
It's just inviting trouble
for the poor sucker who says "I love you"



October 11 movie: Serenity. This was fantastic. I was a fan, though not an obsessive fan, and it really lived up to my memory of the series. Nice to see that Whedon's sense of humor and timing translates well to movies. I wonder how the movie would play to someone who had never seen Firefly. I hope it has a wider audience than just viewers of the show. I'd like to see Serenity make a big success and Whedon get more work.

Now, to rent the Firefly DVDs! I haven't watched the series since it originally aired. I remember I missed a couple of episodes, then I saw the one in the big hospital, thought to myself "wow, this show is awesome! I'll watch every single episode from now on!" and it was immediately cancelled. That was the last one they ever aired. Timing is everything.

October 9 movie: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Now this is a great Harry Potter movie. Fun and funny and exciting and scary. Gary Oldman, Emma Thompson and David Thewlis were great additions to the cast. I think Michael Gambon was a good replacement for Richard Harris. His Dumbledore seems a bit more enigmatic & a bit less harmless. For instance the scene near the end where he's patting Ron reassuringly, but accidently pats his hurt leg, hard. That reminded me more of Dumbledore as he is in the books.

harry potter and the chamber of secrets

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October 9 movie: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. On Sunday I decided to revisit the Harry Potter oeuvre, but I didn't think I would get through three movies so I started with the second one. This is my least favorite of the three so far, for a few reasons: Ron's excessive mugging in the spider scenes, Moaning Myrtle's voice was annoying, and the final scene was over the top with Chris Columbus schmaltz. But there are some great things about it, not the least of which is Dobby. I can't wait for the fourth movie!


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The gas station near my house has been selling regular and plus for the same price. Then they ran out of plus, and now regular and supreme are the same price.

What does it mean? I've never seen gas pricing like that before.

the guns of navarone

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October 9 movie: The Guns of Navarone. Another great war movie. It's really interesting to compare this movie, made in the 60s, with movies like 30 Seconds Over Tokyo that were made during the war. The wartime movies are generally pretty straightforward. The GIs are heroes, the war wives are brave and supportive, the enemy are evil. It makes sense, since the movies had to inspire the homefront and lift people's spirits.

Ambiguity creeps into later movies like The Guns of Navarone. The Allied soldiers have conflicting motivations and are sometimes just wrong; and some of the Nazis are just soldiers, on the other side but not monsters. There's also a cold war sensibility: instead of talking about how they will end war forever and make the world safe for their children, the characters in Navarone wonder why peace is so much more complicated than war. Anyway, it's a great movie.

October 8 movie: Lemony Snicket's a Series of Unfortunate Events. Georg already wrote about this but I can add my wholehearted agreement that the movie would have been a lot better if Jim Carrey hadn't been in it. I really cannot stand Carrey, and Count Olaf unfortunately seemed to be an open invitation for him to indulge in his worst mugging and clowning.

When this movie first came out I heard an interview on the radio with the author. The interviewer confronted him with a previous quote in which he had said, "as long as they don't cast someone like Jim Carrey as Count Olaf." Whoops!

He covered well, saying that of the choices they had, Carrey was the best, and that the movie had gotten too big to cast someone interesting like Richard E. Grant. I'm kind of sorry I had heard that interview, because I spent the entire movie thinking about how much better it would have been with Richard E. Grant. Also admiring Violet's clothes. You just know that gothlings around the world have run up copies of her outfits. Hell, that's not my look at all and I want her clothes.

cry 'havoc'

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October 8 movie: Cry 'Havoc.' As possibly the only all-female war movie ever, this was an interesting novelty. As a movie, not so good. It's about a group of nurses at a field hospital in Bataan. There are men playing extras in a few scenes, I think only patients in the hospital. (Including Robert Mitchum in an uncredited cameo: he says "I'm alright" and then dies.) The Women handled the absence of men pretty well, but the strain of making a WWII movie without male actors had a negative effect on this one. The dialogue was stilted and stagey at times; I'd bet it was based on a play. The movie was really depressing too, as movies about Bataan always are, what with that whole "death march" thing on the horizon.


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October 7 movie: Undercurrent. Katherine Hepburn stars as a country girl who marries sophisticated Robert Taylor. She gradually learns that he isn't what he seems, while both of them develop a growing obsession with Taylor's absentee brother (Robert Mitchum). This movie suffered from a plodding pace and a story worthy of the Lifetime Movie Network. The message seemed to be that marrying a man you barely know is a really bad idea, but falling for his brother, whom you've never met, works out pretty well.

son of the gods

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October 5 movie: Son of the Gods. Oh my god (or is that gods), this movie was awful. It's about a Chinese man named Sam Lee who falls in love with a white woman, except she doesn't know he's Chinese. She learns the truth and freaks out, screaming at him, calling him "dirty Chinaman" among other names, and whipping his face in front of a hundred people. Lee goes home to New York, his beloved father dies and he decides that he hates all white people. There are a couple of scenes in a dance hall with white girls and Chinese customers, which is described as "disgusting" by the racist woman and her racist father. Then it turns out that Sam Lee isn't Chinese at all: he's a white foundling who was taken in by a wealthy Chinese couple and raised as their own.

It's so appalling I don't know where to start. This guy never noticed, in his whole life, that he didn't look like the rest of his family or community? And now that he's actually white, it's okay for that hateful bitch to be with him? About the least revolting thing in the whole movie is when Lee finds out his true ancestry, he does not abandon his adoptive family and run back to his erstwhile girlfriend. Instead he decides to honor his father's memory by continuing to live as a Chinese man and continuing to hate white people. Eventually of course he relents and reunites with the racist bitch. I'm assuming they don't live in his Chinatown mansion, she would never stoop to that. But the movie ends with the clinch so who knows.

And that, friends, is my 200th movie this year. Too bad it was such a stinker.

kill bill vol. 2

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October 3 movie: Kill Bill vol. 2. I love this movie, are you surprised? The first one was so good, I was afraid I wouldn't enjoy this one as much. But I did. There was less blood than in the first one, but one scene that extremely grossed me out. This time we noticed in the credits that the same guy who played Pai Mei was also one of the Crazy 88's (the bald one).

I read an interview with Tarantino in which he said that he would probably never do another Kill Bill sequel. Because the only good sequel he could think of was having Vivica Fox's daughter grow up and seek revenge against the Bride. But that would require Uma Thurman still wanting to make the movie 15 years from now, and also he couldn't call it Kill Bill because Bill's already dead, but Kill Bride is a dumb title. He's right about that. But then again, Kill Kiddo wouldn't be so bad.

between two worlds

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October 3 movie: Between Two Worlds. John Garfield and Paul Henreid star as part of a group of people who die and then wake up on a mysterious ocean liner. They're your basic cast of cliches: the rich snobby woman, her hen-pecked husband, the arrogant self-important businessman, the kindly working class woman, etc etc. They all sit around talking endlessly and making each other miserable, reminding me alternately of No Exit and that Simpsons episode where Homer ends up on the Ship of Lost Souls. Then Sidney Greenstreet shows up as God's representative and sends them each to their eternal reward or punishment. That part of the movie was moralistic and creepy. It would have been better if they'd let Greenstreet ham it up and act evilly gleeful about condemning people to eternal torment. But since he was acting on God's orders, he was all restrained and sanctimonious about it.

I normally love Paul Henreid but this was a stinker. There wasn't even any suspense about what happened to the people, because Henreid and his wife figure it out right way. The only character I really liked was Edmund Gwenn as the ship's steward.

double wedding

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October 2 movie: Double Wedding. Screwball comedy starring Myrna Loy and William Powell, in between the Thin Man movies. I don't know if I was in a bad mood or what, but I didn't enjoy this half as much as a I thought I would. Powell plays a free spirited bohemian artist who lives in a trailer, and Loy is a stuffy businesswoman trying to marry off her sister.

dark victory

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September 30 movie: Dark Victory. One of Bette Davis' best movies I think. I already described the plot so this time I'll say that Davis' clothes are amazing. The first time she goes to George Brent's office, she wears this coat trimmed with fur that had me drooling. I so want to make a version of that coat. Hancock's has some nice fake fur that would work, but it's $40 a yard. I'm waiting for one of their "50% off a single cut" coupons so I can buy a yard of it.

30 seconds over tokyo


September 28 movie: 30 Seconds Over Tokyo. I think I've mentioned before how much I love this, a dramatization of Doolittle's famous air raid on Tokyo. It may be my favorite war movie. Spencer Tracy stars as Jimmy Doolittle but he's actually not in the movie that much. The story focuses on one bomber squad, led by pilot Van Johnson, and follows them from volunteering for the mission, through training, the attack, crash landing in occupied China, their rescue by Chinese rebels and escape from the Japanese. I guess I just gave the movie away but come on, it's a (fictionalized) true story.

While I'm giving things away I'll mention one of my favorite scenes: the Chinese have to amputate Van Johnson's leg and the anaesthesia wears off in mid-procedure. Johnson falls into a delirium in which he hallucinates talking on the phone with his wife, while in the background two men cut down a tree with one of those giant two-handled saws. It sounds like a cheap, gross laugh, but the way they do it is creepy and surreal and highly effective.

Robert Walker is in the movie also. There's something strange and sad about him that always makes me feel sympathy for his characters. You just want to hug him and bake him a pie to make him feel better. Robert Mitchum (who does not inspire feelings of pie-baking) also has a very small part as the pilot of another plane.

ed wood


Sept 27 movie: Ed Wood. Hoo boy, I have fallen behind on the movie list. I think I have some kind of low-level cold. I'm sleeping more than usual and I'm still tired all the time.

Enough about that. On to Ed Wood. This movie is such a weird combination of gleeful and tragic. So many wonderful performances, all with such sympathy for the gang of crazy kooks -- Martin Landau, Johnny Depp, Jeffrey Jones, Bill Murray, Lisa Marie, and Vincent D'Onofrio in such a good impersonation of Orson Welles that I thought at first they had dubbed in old clips of Welles' own voice. I love this movie, but I have to admit I fast-forwarded some of the most depressing parts. Especially when Bela Lugosi was in the hospital. I'm going to check if Netflix has the Ed Wood documentary. What was it called? Look Back in Angora I think.

it's good to want things

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Sarah wants to see the Council Tax scrapped and replaced with a fairer alternative based on a persons ability to pay.

The document Sarah wants us to print out and return is at the bottom of the page.

Sarah wants recognition as a leader in her sport, not as a disabled person excelling in a disabled sport.

Re: Sarah wants to contact you I am soooooo sorry Everyone!!!

Sarah wants to know about fare incentives to discourage people from arriving by car.

Only Sarah doesn't want to go up the hill with her father. Sarah wants to go up with her best friend.

Right now, Sarah wants people to know: she can't live without her sister, Sabrina, who's a constant inspiration

Sarah wants to walk, so she has new shoes (maybe we should be spending on something to relieve our lower-back instead).

Sarah wants to do 14 things.

Jareth doesn't represent a true father figure though because that isn't what Sarah wants or needs.

back to the garden

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Managed to get some yard work done before the rain got going this morning. I started moving a pile of clay to prepare a bed where we're going to plant a fig tree. Unfortunately, said pile of clay is only there because that's where I was dumping the clay that came out of the big hole in the ground. So in essence, this morning was all work I had made for myself. But what can you do, when I started dumping the clay there five months ago, it was just wasted space. I didn't think it would present itself as the perfect spot for a fig tree.

We had a little rain last night, enough to loosen up the clay but not enough to saturate it and make it really heavy. So the work was a little easier; in an hour I managed to move four wheelbarrows full. By the end of the hour, well let's just say that if sweat is an indicator of a good workout, then I had the best workout of my life. I looked like I had gone swimming in my clothes.

Rather than making another pile of clay that I'll just have to move again, I dumped the four wheelbarrows on the front lawn. In years past when Lina and Thirteen were young doggies, they used to dig for voles. They never caught one but they sure loved digging. They dug one hole so deep that Thirteen was all the way underground except for her butt and tail sticking out! I wish I had a picture of that. Anyway, the holes are mostly filled in now, but there are still shallow depressions here and there. Which shallow depressions I'm filling in now. It's awful soil to put on your front lawn, but we don't have any actual grass so I don't think it matters.

The only interesting thing that happened was finding a snake in the pile of clay. I guess it was nesting in there. I thought at first that I had chopped it with the shovel, but I watched it and it didn't seem hurt. It also didn't look dangerous: it was small, uniform color, and had a narrow head. I scooped it up with the shovel and tossed it into some brush back up in the yard.

In other gardening news, the hydrangeas arrived today! I unwrapped them, gave them some water and set them in the shade. Today was perfect weather for introducing mail order plants to the yard: overcast and gently raining. Saturday we'll have time to plant them, so they won't sit around too long.

Speaking of mail order plants, I found a source for bulbs that I'm really excited about: Terra Ceia Farms. Their prices are fantastic, especially the "bulbs by the bushel" specials -- 400 daffodils for $75! I found rave reviews of them on an online gardening forum. And best of all, they're from North Carolina, so I have confidence that their bulbs will grow in my yard. A lot of bulb nurseries are in New England which gives me some concern that their bulbs, daffodils especially, are grown for cold climates and wouldn't do well here. I'm going to order a bushel of daffodils, some white and blue muscari, some alliums, and maybe a half-bushel of daylilies. I wish I had found out about this company before I got those daffodils from Home Depot.



A couple of things I forgot about yesterday's vet appointment:

First, Thirteen's weight was way down. 2 whole pounds less than the previous visit, 10 days ago. They told me that they suspect problems with the scale, which is a relief. If I thought Thirteen was really losing weight that fast I'd be in a panic.

She's been averaging a 1/4 pound loss per week, which seems reasonable for her size. Last week I increased her food a little bit because we went on so many walks, and she seemed hungrier than usual. I think she does look a little slimmer -- there's a teeny tiny visible waist indentation, and I can feel her spine more easily than before -- but she has a ways to go before the vet would call her a healthy size. I deeply hate making her diet, but with all these joint problems we have to do it.

Jane on the other hand is so slim that I wish she would gain weight. Maybe my perceptions are warped by Thirteen's squidgy figure. To me Jane looks underweight, although everyone else says she looks just right. I increased Jane's food too because of the increased exercise, but she just isn't that interested in food. She'd much rather be out in the back yard trying to flush rodents out of the woodpile.

Jane gave me a scare after the appointment yesterday, just as we walked out the door. She was startled by a delivery truck pulling up, twisted away from me and pulled her collar right off. I averted disaster by yelling "Jane, get in the car! Let's go for a ride!" She ran right to the car and stood by the door until I got there. Whew! Good thing she loves car rides more than freedom.

she has moxa, but does she have moxie

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Still trying to convince myself that I'm sleepy. Maybe I should stop playing my favorite hyperactive dance mix on iTunes.

This morning was Thirteen's acupuncture appointment. I had a couple of questions for the vet: first, a small dark spot I just noticed on Thirteen's foot. I didn't think it was a major problem because I couldn't feel a lump, and Thirteen didn't mind me handling and pressing the spot, even though she hates being touched on her feet. Dr. Pagel agreed that it's nothing to worry about, just a little bald spot. Kind of weird place for Thirteen to go bald, but whatever.

Second and more worrisome, on last Friday's walk Thirteen started making this popping sound with every step. At first I thought she was walking on twigs or something, but no, I'm pretty sure it was one of her joints popping. She didn't act like she was in pain -- no more than usual, I should say -- but she did slow way down. She seemed fine the next day though, and hasn't made any popping noises since.

Dr. Pagel manipulated Thirteen's legs and found some joint instability in the knee of the left front leg. Which is the same leg where she already has that huge arthritic swelling on her ankle. Dr. Pagel suggested I start the walks again and if the popping happens again, see if I can confirm which leg. Unfortunately Dr. Pagel said that we're pretty much already doing everything we can do, though she can teach me some massage techniques.

They added "moxa" to this round of acupuncture. Moxa means heat apparently. They have this thick stubby thing made of mugwort that looks sort of like a lit cigar, and they touch it to the needles to heat them up. The mugwort smelled nice, in a BPAL sort of way. They hold onto the needles below the moxa thing, both to protect the dog's fur from getting singed and to keep from overheating the needles. Thirteen did get a little ash on her, but it brushed right off.

The vet tech was having trouble reaching around Thirteen to get to all the needles, so I offered to do the ones closest to me. Dr. Pagel didn't take me up on it, but she did seem to like the idea of teaching clients to apply moxa to their own pets. We have to sit there and wait while the needles are in anyway; I might as well mox her while we wait. Maybe next time Dr. Pagel will let me do the moxa.

new project


I ought to be in bed now, and an hour ago I was pretty tired. Then I had the brilliant idea to eat some coffee ice cream. I didn't have much, but man, I feel a little jittery. It didn't even have sugar in it.

So I'm too wired up to sleep, but not focused enough to work on my new sewing project, so I'll talk about it instead. It's a bag for carrying my camera. I've been looking all over for a good camera bag, but the only bags I can find are horribly unstylish. I've been using a Cafe Press messenger bag with some foam inside, which isn't at all safe. The foam slides around in there and I'm always afraid my camera is going to get banged up. The Cafe Press bag is also lacking in the pocket department. There's only one huge front pocket where you have to keep everything, and my keys are always getting lost in the bottom.

I found a messenger bag pattern with lots of pockets that will work I think. Also found some cool upholstery fabric on sale. Because I can't do anything the easy way, I decided to add piping. That's what the light green fabric is for. Also got some heavy-duty interfacing to give the bag stability. (the pattern doesn't call for any interfacing at all! ugh, the bag would get all crumpled up!) I'm going to use fleece to pad it but I didn't need to buy the fleece. I have tons of it lying around. For the lining I'm using a raincoat fabric I bought on super-cheap sale last year. It's hideous but waterproof, which is a good thing for a camera bag. I think I'm going to use another layer of the main fabric to line all the visible parts, and keep the ugly raincoat fabric hidden in between layers.

I'm a little concerned about how many thick layers there will be in this thing. There's the 2 layers of main fabric, the waterproof lining, the fleece and the piping. (I trimmed the interfacing to just inside the seamline, so it won't add to the bulk that has to go through the machine. I guess I'll just baste it to one of the lining layers.) There's also the strap, which will be that nylon web stuff and will have to be sewn in. I've never worked with that before. The pattern called for a strap made of the same fabric as the rest of the bag. But I think the nylon web will be more comfortable, more durable and look better too. I better make sure I have upholstery thread, & I might have to get a sturdier needle too.

All I've done so far is cut all the fabric and interfacing. Since everything is lined I probably don't need to zigzag all the edges, but if the fabric frays a lot I probably will anyway. I'll post an update when I start sewing.

the red shoes

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Sept 25 movie: The Red Shoes. Another one in the Michael Powell series. Again the use of color is impressive, and the dancing is beautiful. But I have to say, the two male leads really annoyed me. They were both so awful to Moira Shearer.

black narcissus

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Sept 20 movie: Black Narcissus. I'm a sucker for movies about nuns. This one is Deborah Kerr as the leader of a group of Anglican nuns getting their spiritual asses kicked by the Himalayas. They showed this as part of a special series on Michael Powell on TCM last month. The use of color is what people always talk about with Powell's films, and it is impressive. But the thing that struck me most was Deborah Kerr as the harsh, imposing sister superior. She made this movie the same year as The Hucksters, and the contrast with the querulous, timid mouse she played in that movie is shocking. I didn't know she was capable of it.

hunka hunka burning love


So Georg and I have decided to get married. I feel kind of weird about announcing this in a blog post, but not talking about it in the blog has made me feel like I'm hiding it or something. So here it is.

It probably won't surprise you that we don't want some big formal ceremony type thing. Instead we're going to go to Vegas with a couple of close relations. It looks like it will be early next year, and our biggest decision now is which Elvis impersonator will perform the ceremony. Did you know that there are 6 wedding chapels in Vegas with Elvis impersonators? You can pick young, gold-lamé-suit Elvis, Blue Hawaiian Elvis, or bloated white-jumpsuit Elvis. (My vote is for the gold lamé suit.) Some chapels let you choose the songs. Georg tried to pick "In the Ghetto" or "Suspicious Minds" but I said no. I really like "Suspicious Minds," but not at my wedding.

We've been living together for a long time and I don't think this is going to change our lives in any major way. (Except for our taxes.) We just felt like it was time.

shoe advice


I've recently discovered a major gap in my shoe wardrobe: shoes for cool weather that can be worn with pants. I used to wear only skirts to work; the only pants I own are a single pair of jeans, plus some grungy knits for gardening and running. My only shoes that go with pants are my sneakers and my gardening clogs.

But Stoneline really isn't a skirt place. I look way out of place in a skirt, plus if I ever go into the work areas I risk damaging my tights. I've been wearing my jeans with sandals, but that won't work anymore. And so I need a pair of shoes. I love these and these, but each is well over what I wanted to pay.

Any suggestions?

survivor confession


I have a confession to make. I hate Steph. HATE.

I didn't hate her last season. I didn't love her, and could have done without the show cramming her down my throat. But she seemed like a basically likeable person with two strikes against her: her own total lack of understanding of Survivor strategy, and her bad luck to be on a team that couldn't get their act together.

Unfortunately, she seems to have spent the entire break between seasons reading her own press. She returns as Prom Queen of Survivor, a snot with a massive sense of entitlement. When she chirped "I'm finally on a tribe with as much heart as I have!" I wanted to strangle her. Self-reflection doesn't seem to be Steph's thing. She still doesn't understand that "heart" has nothing to do with winning Survivor. And her endless losing streaks are clearly the fault of everyone but her.

She's like Rupert, only worse. Rupert annoyed the bejeezus out of me but at least he did accomplish things for his team. Sometimes clever things, like that time he stole the other team's shoes and traded them for supplies. And he singlehandedly won several challenges. (though he singlehandedly blew others, like that "build a shelter" challenge.) Steph seems to think that being proclaimed a great athlete and beloved castmember is all it takes: you don't actually have to win anything or contribute to the team effort.

The ball game on Thursday was a perfect example: she waits until two seconds before her game starts, then says to two women who are clearly not athletes, "Do you know what a pick is? You look like you're going to go like this but then you go like this." And then she rolls her eyes and complains endlessly because they have no idea what the hell she's talking about. I didn't know what a pick is and I didn't get it from that. Why didn't she explain it to them in detail while they were sitting on the sidelines? She seems like a really bad team player who's quick to blame failure on everyone around her.

I also don't buy this hype about Steph being the greatest female athlete ever on Survivor. If we go by results, that title still goes to Kelly Wigglesworth. Even this season, Danni is a match for Steph and then some.

Steph might be a perfectly nice person in real life, but on Survivor she's insufferable. I can't wait for her to be gone so the show can stop telling me how much I'm supposed to love her. I just hope she gets the boot before jury selection.

(PS: Georg explained what a pick is after the show. I pretended to have the ball, he was the defender, and we used Jane as the person doing the pick. I guess "sit" is a useful command after all!)

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