March 2007 Archives

the three musketeers

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March 26 movie: The Three Musketeers. The Gene Kelly version from 1948. What a fun movie! This has been done as a movie several times, and I'm most familiar with the Michael York version from the 70s. It's interesting to compare the two. One unsurprising difference is that the Gene Kelly version way downplays the adultery, which I recall being largely the point of the Michael York version. The casting is interesting also. Vincent Price is perfect for Richelieu, and Lana Turner equally ideal for Lady de Winter. June Allyson as Constance, though, that gave me mental whiplash. How can the same character be played by June Allyson (who specialized in sexless girls) and Raquel Welch (who specialized in, well, sex). It boggles the mind. Also we noticed that the ending of the Gene Kelly version is fairly true to the end of the book -- Constance and Lady de Winter are both dead, the Musketeers are disbanded, and D'Artagnan is working for Richelieu -- but they somehow make it seem like a happy ending. How they manage that, I do not know.

On the concert album Live at the Cocoanut Grove, Sammy Davis Jr. does a hilarious riff on this movie. I read in Sammy's biography Black and White that he loved watching old movies, he really absorbed them. You can totally tell from the routine that he's seen this movie a million times. He describes it accurately, in great detail. The funny thing is that the routine is funny even if you've never seen the movie. Then when you finally do see the movie, that makes the routine even funnier.

love is a ball

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March 26 movie: Love Is A Ball. Charles Boyer heads up a team of con artists trying to entrap an American heiress into marrying a poor European nobleman (Ricardo Montalban), but she falls in love with the chauffeur (Glenn Ford) instead. Uh oh, he's in on the plan!

I probably wouldn't have watched this if any of my Netflix movies had arrived, but I really enjoyed it. Glenn Ford is good as the understated romantic lead, even when he's too old for the heroine. The supporting cast were the best part of the movie for me. I've mentioned before how much I adore Ricardo Montalban. Here he takes a terrible character -- the pauper grand duke is basically an incompetent oaf -- and makes him not just sympathetic but totally likeable. Telly Savalas is also wonderful as the heiress' uncle.

jack of diamonds

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March 26 movie: Jack of Diamonds. Caper movie starring a very young George Hamilton as a cat burglar and Joseph Cotten as his mentor. I enjoyed this much more than I expected to, especially after the opening credits announced the "special guest stars" Zsa Zsa Gabor, Lilli Palmer and Carroll Baker. "Special guest stars" in a movie is usually a really bad sign. Like Mystery Science Theater bad. Thankfully, not so in this case.

I read somewhere that Jack of Diamonds was the American answer to a European genre that included Danger: Diabolik. Which I haven't seen in a long long time, so I can't comment on that. Except that when Hamilton put on his cat burglar outfit, he did kind of look like Diabolik. Also, there's a scene with Hamilton working out on gymnastics equipment in an old European mansion, which Georg said reminded him a lot of Lara Croft. (I never saw or played Tomb Raider so again, can't comment.)

the mad miss manton

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March 26 movie: The Mad Miss Manton. Speaking of silly movies that work because of the high-powered chemistry between the stars. This was an amateur detective story, essentially yet another Nick and Nora imitator, starring Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda. Boy howdy, talk about chemistry. Stanwyck plays a socialite heiress (a strangely popular character in 30s screwball comedies) who stumbles onto a murder. Fonda is a newspaper reporter (another popular character) who ridicules her in his column, then helps her solve the crime. Do they fall in love? Do you have to ask?

elephant walk

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March 25 movie: Elephant Walk. All through the movie I was hearing this in my head, and you probably heard it in your head as soon as you read the title. Okay, now that's out of the way. On to the movie.

Elephant Walk was a Dieterle movie starring Elizabeth Taylor, Peter Finch and Dana Andrews as tea plantation owners in Ceylon. According to the intro, the movie originally starred Vivian Leigh, who had a nervous breakdown early on in the filming. Taylor was cast mainly for her close resemblance to Leigh, which allowed them to use the long-shot and over-the-shoulder footage they already had of Leigh.

With the setting and premise they had to work with, this movie should have been more than it was. The most interesting part of the movie to me was the conflict between the British and the indigenous culture, represented by the elephants. Do the British bring progress? arrogance? improvements? imperialism? Are they helping the Sri Lankans or destroying their culture? It's a complicated question that is touched on, frustratingly, but mostly dropped in favor of a romantic melodrama that reminded me somewhat of Rebecca. That's not a criticism, I love Rebecca, but if I want to see Rebecca I'll watch Rebecca.

I probably wouldn't watch this movie again but if I could time it right I would gladly watch the final scene. Which kicks all kinds of ass. Elephants rule, tea farmers drool!

golden arrow

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March 25 movie: Golden Arrow. Bette Davis plays a phony heiress who arranges a phony marriage to newspaperman George Brent, to help her fend off a throng of fortune-hunting Europeans. It's a silly romantic comedy which works because of the tremendous chemistry between Davis and Brent. I could watch them in anything. Except Front Page Woman. I hate that movie.

the six wives of henry viii

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March 24 movie: The Six Wives of Henry VIII. This is a six part BBC miniseries from the early 70s; one episode for each wife. I adored the followup series Elizabeth R, and I heard this was equally good. I agree. Keith Mitchell's Henry is really interesting, much more sympathetic than other portrayals I've seen.

I watched the first two episodes: Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. My only disappointment was that the Anne Boleyn episode dealt entirely with her falling out of Henry's favor and her death. Not at all with her rise to power or her political influence, which I've read was enormous. With only ninety minutes to cover such an important and eventful life, I guess they felt like they had to focus.

casino royale

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March 24 movie: Casino Royale. I haven't done anything except lie on the couch and watch TV for the past few days. Which means I have a lot of movies to write up!

Georg and I both enjoyed Casino Royale very much. I'm not a Bond expert but I have seen quite a few of them at this point, and I would call this one of the best. Probably the best since On Her Majesty's Secret Service. We both felt that the new guy -- what is his name, Daniel Craig? -- is much closer to the Sean Connery style of playing Bond than anyone in a long time.

Although the time-warping aspect of the movie was a bit odd (it's about Bond as a new agent, pre-Connery, but set in the present day) I very much liked that the movie had something to say about Bond's character and motivation. I'd seen a couple of the Pierce Brosnan Bond movies and they always came off like generic action movies with a somewhat effete star. This movie felt like it was specifically about James Bond. It wouldn't have worked as well if the main character had been Generic Action Hero Guy.

my favorite jane

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Today was my first day of any serious activity since my surgery. In fact, aside from a short drive yesterday (just to make sure that I could comfortably drive), it was my first time leaving the house.

I worked for about an hour in the morning, then took the dogs to the vet, went to the grocery store and the mail center, and cooked dinner. Doesn't seem like much, but I'm totally exhausted.

The vet was great, as usual. Cole Park is a long trip (almost 45 minutes today since I was driving extra cautiously) but it's totally worth it. Everyone there is so nice to the dogs. The vet was very understanding about the appalling state of Thirteen's grooming. I've been instructed not to lift more than twenty pounds, and couldn't even bend down to the ground unassisted until today. So there was no chance of Thirteen getting the bath she desperately needs. Maybe this weekend I'll be able to bathe her, if Georg carries her to the tub.

There was a veterinary student sitting in on our acupuncture session today. She was really nice; she sat with Jane the whole time. Of course Jane adored the attention. I was very pleased with Jane for being so calm and sweet. She can be skittish and nervous, but didn't act that way at all today. Both the dogs were so mellow during the appointment. After the needles are in they always leave us alone for about 20 minutes to let the acupuncture do its thing. I sat on the floor next to Thirteen, and Jane lay down on the other side of me, and then both of them settled down and went to sleep with their backs resting against me. It was so damned sweet.

I probably shouldn't have cooked on top of everything else, but I just hate feeling so helpless. I made a big pot of chili & used stew beef so there wouldn't be much prep time. Tomorrow I don't have to do a thing except watch movies. And maybe take a nap.

knitting oops

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So as I mentioned, I've been knitting a sweater. Started on it right before surgery, and spent most of the day yesterday working on it. Knitting, knitting, knitting .. just finished the back and realized that it's too long. Way, way too long. I wanted it to hit the top of the hip, but it looks like it's going to hang down below the butt. D'oh! If I were sewing I would have known to shorten the pattern.

Do I have to rip out the entire thing and start over? arggh! Can I just rip out the bottom half and knit new ribbing onto the bottom, or will that throw off the proportions? This is the pattern.

I think I'm going to delay the problem and work on the sleeves while I figure it out.

cut of the stone

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So here I am, gallbladder-free. They said the surgery went smoothly, with no complications. Thank goodness! My surgeon, Dr. Driesen, was wonderful. I think I was randomly assigned to her & I feel very lucky for it. Everyone at the hospital was incredibly kind and helpful. With one notable exception: the nurse in charge of me in the recovery room was pretty awful, so much that I'm thinking about filing a complaint. (Not right now, as I was instructed not to make any major decisions while I'm still on oxycodone.)

But enough about her. Everyone else was great. The OR team really dug my tattoo. One of them saw it when she put the stethoscope on my back, and then everyone gathered around to look. The lead anesthesiologist was hilarious: she said she had been thinking about starting a business providing anesthesia during tattoos, and wanted to know how much I would pay for that! I told her that for some areas, especially over the spine, I would gladly have paid double.

They really push you out the door as fast as they can! We left the hospital at about 3:30 and I was still so out of it, I was nodding off in the wheelchair while they wheeled me to the car. Pretty much spent last night dozing in and out. I was warned that my shoulders would hurt, because they inflate the belly during the laparoscopy and the gas moves up into the shoulders, but it wasn't that bad.

Today I feel almost fine as long as I'm sitting still, just as if I were having cramps. Standing up or getting in and out of bed is a bit difficult though. The worst part was that the breathing tube gave me a sore throat, but coughing or even clearing my throat is fairly painful. Who knew one uses the stomach muscles so often!

Georg has been totally wonderful, getting things for me, helping me stand up, making me food, even scratching Thirteen's tummy since I can't. This morning he walked me around the garden so I could see everything. This is such an exciting time of year, with new plants sprouting up almost every day. The asparagus we planted last fall is starting to emerge, and we were delighted to see that several of the gerbera daisies survived! I thought all of them had been frozen those two nights it dropped below 15°.

So I'm sitting around, watching TV and knitting, and feeling kind of bored to be honest. I really want to start eating real food again but I feel I should take it slow. Nothing too rich just yet.

home

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I am home. Full of drugs, and sleepy.

mirrormask

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March 22 movie: Mirrormask. What do I say about this movie? It's visually spectacular, so inventive that the word seems insufficient. In almost every scene I found myself wishing the characters would stop and linger so I could see more detail of this incredible world. I can't call it a great movie, alas. Maybe not even a terribly good movie, if you define good in terms of plot and character development. If you aren't engaged by Dave McKean's art style you probably won't enjoy this very much. I am, and so I did. Very much.

ballooning

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I dreamed I was running a dog race with Jane. Dogs and owners had to run a long course together. The course was along a suburban street that had been blocked from traffic. It was an old neighborhood with pretty houses from the 20's. There were wide sidewalks and massive oak trees lining the street. It was autumn and the leaves were all bright orange.

We ran and ran. At some point I realized my slower pace was holding Jane back. So I floated up into the air and flew behind her. She pulled me effortlessly, as if I were a balloon attached to the end of her leash.

Without me holding her back Jane did run much faster. Even though I couldn't see her face clearly, I could see how happy she was to be running unchecked. From above I watched her shoulder blades and the muscles in her hips move back and forth as she ran. She was beautiful.

Jane caught up with another dog, a black standard poodle with neat clipped fur. They ran side by side and I thought, good, Jane will match her pace to this other dog and won't tire herself out.

At this point I floated up too high and got pulled through the branches of a tree. I had to push a sea of bright orange leaves out of the way. I was worried that I might have made Jane lose her position in the race, but when I came out of the tree she was still alongside the poodle.

I think this dream means that as soon as I'm recovered I should take Jane running in the park.

footsteps in the dark

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March 20 movie: Footsteps in the Dark. Errol Flynn plays a novelist and amateur detective in this comic mystery. It's a funny movie which I would definitely watch again. Great supporting cast including Ralph Bellamy, Lucile Watson, the wonderful Allen Jenkins, and best of all, Alan Hale! Yay, Alan Hale!

go ahead, flatter me

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Today at the vet, the woman who checked us in said that Jane and Thirteen are the sweetest, most good-natured and most well-behaved dogs they see there. I can't imagine how that could be true, and I suspect she might say something like that to everyone who comes in, but I don't care, I still liked hearing it!

Later in the day I had a really nice conversation with two ladies about my car. It was a woman and her elderly mother. The mother was a retired anthropologist and asked me if I was an architect. Because my car looked like it had been done by an architect. That was one of those "thank you ... huh?" type comments. But she was a nice older lady so I thanked her sincerely. The daughter approached me first, introduced herself and said "You must be a happy person!" Which I have to say, is one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about my car. I told her that I hoped so, that was my goal. Then she said she wished there were more cars around like mine, so I told her to check artcars.com.

I met the two ladies in the parking lot of Michael's. Where I was buying yarn for a sweater. See, I had this brilliant idea that while I'm flat on my back after my surgery, instead of just lying there feeling bored, I should knit something. And I really need a cardigan sweater for spring. Alas, I didn't have this idea in time to do much research on patterns, or to order yarn online. With some tips from raynorgrace on pattern sources I settled on this striped cardigan from knitty.com. It's pretty much exactly what I wanted, except I don't like my sweaters that fitted. I guess I'll just make the body in a larger size so it will be a little looser.

Since my recent knitting experience includes nothing more complicated than a cap, I didn't want to invest in super-expensive yarn. (Plus, I don't have time to deal with the yarn stores and their crazy short hours before Friday. Are all yarn store customers ladies of leisure or something?) So I went to Michaels and bought super-inexpensive cotton yarn in bright colors. I had a sweater made of this very yarn years ago. I remember it not having much give, but feeling nice against my skin. Much better than the poopy-doopy acrylic most cheap yarns are made of. I figure if the sweater turns out well, then I can splurge on decent yarn for the next one.

the umbrellas of cherbourg

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March 17 movie: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. What a beautiful movie. I watched it on Minty's recommendation, and I am so glad I did. All the dialogue is sung, and all the sets are in pastel candy colors, which make the movie seem fantastical. But the plot and dialogue are all terse realism.

All the actors are great, the standout being the radiant Catherine Deneuve. It's easy to see why she became such a huge star. With a lesser cast the conceit of singing all the dialogue might have been gimmicky and annoying. In fact it quickly came to seem perfectly natural. The music is lovely, especially the recurring theme which really added to the movie's emotional impact.

phffft!

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March 16 movie: Phffft! Romantic comedy with Jack Lemmon and Judy Holliday as a married couple who divorce, try to date other people (Jack Carson and Kim Novak), then get back together.

Jack Lemmon and Judy Holliday were great, of course. Kim Novak, who I usually love, does a weird imitation of Marilyn Monroe that doesn't suit her at all. She comes off like an airheaded slut. Novak is much better at characters who are sexually confident and not stupid.

I enjoyed this, although if I had the choice of a repeat viewing I'd watch Mr. and Mrs. Smith again instead. No no, not the one with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie! I mean the one with Robert Montgomery and Carole Lombard. Which is structurally very similar to Phffft! According to Robert Osborne, "phffft!" was an expression coined by Walter Winchell to describe failed marriages.

wish list

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I'm trying not to dwell on the fatty foods I can't eat right now. Because for one thing, I've don't have time to sit around obsessing about food I can't have. And for another, I'm not sure how my system will react to high fat content after the surgery. If it turns out I can't ever eat super high fat foods, then promising them to myself now will only make me miserable in the future.

That said, I don't care whether it makes me sick, and I don't even care that the recipe comes from Stuff magazine. As soon as I can I'm going to make deep fried bacon cheese hot dogs.

So I guess I do have a food wish list, with one item on it. Well, two: the hot dogs and a fresh, hot Krispy Kreme. Which I would like to try at least once in my life.

honor the kraken

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I am heartbroken, heartbroken I say, to have missed Air Kraken Day.

last chance

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It's been a series of last chances the past few days: yesterday was last chance to take Excedrin Migraine, which contains aspirin. Luckily I haven't been having headaches since I started eating normally, and that particular milestone went unnoticed.

Today was the last chance to get soil from the county landfill. They're open late because the free dumping is still going on, and we had a grand plan to get two truckloads in one day. But somehow we never got around to fully unloading last week's truckload until this morning (I know, I know!) and as it turned out I had to go in to work in the afternoon. I'm just glad we had time to even get one.

It was so cold this morning! It wasn't so bad when we were unloading the soil; I guess the work warmed us up. But out at the landfill, brrr! The sun went behind the clouds, and the wind picked up, and it was so damn cold. It took us three times longer than usual to tie down the tarp, because the wind was blowing it all over the place and our hands were too numb to tie the knots. And we were just out in it for a few minutes. I felt bad for the guys who had to stand out there all morning helping people unload their junk.

We've been getting so much dirt lately that the guy who runs the backhoe (is that the right term for that thing? When I was a kid I used to call it a "picker up dirter and putter it downer") recognizes us. When he finished he said "See you next week!" I didn't have the heart to tell him that we won't see him next week. I think I'll be up to going back by the week after, but probably not up to unloading dirt. The surgeon said I have to avoid heavy yardwork for a month. Maybe we can get something lighter like mulch. I still probably won't be able to shovel it off the truck, but I might be able to spread it on the flowerbeds.

Last night Georg and I must have been in the same mood, because we both came home with ingredients for soup. Really it was a no brainer: this weather calls for comfort food, and if you can't eat fat, that means soup. We had Georg's soup last night: Thai hot & sour soup with shrimp. Tonight we had mine: Mexican tortilla soup with chicken. Both were excellent! The funny thing is, they had ingredients in common (chicken broth, lime juice and cilantro) and were both zingy, but they tasted quite different. Both great recipes though.

Now I'm killing time playing the Linguist List's Lexicon puzzle game (thanks to Suzette Haden Elgin for the link). I've only needed one hint so far, for puzzle 3, and it was only "remember this game was written by linguists." Not much of a spoiler! But now I'm stuck on puzzle 16, which is vaguely embarrassing since puzzle 17 is the one that seems to give people trouble. Ah well, I'll figure it out eventually.

such a sap

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How much of a sap am I? So much that when I found out Kirby the lost dog had been found, I started crying. At work!

I've never even met the dog or his owners, but I kept thinking about the poor thing all alone, roaming around such a high traffic area -- he was spotted at the McDonald's by the Green Weenie and also at the K-Mart all the way on the other side of the mall -- and on a cold wet day like this. And about the kid in the hospital and how distraught he must have been. And all the people who made flyers and drove around looking for the dog and got the newspaper & tv station to do stories. Dammit, I'm crying again. I am such a sap. I need to go look at pictures of kittens and lollipops or something before I dissolve into a blubbering mess.

awesomeness of awesome

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The roses are all in the ground! Thanks mainly to Georg. Who is King Awesomeness of Awesome. I did lots of weeding too. I was pleasantly surprised by how nice the soil is up there. I remembered it being horrible, hard clay. But the top few inches were actually kind of loamy and soft. (No wonder the weeds like it so much!) I guess mixing in a truckload of compost and then piling a truckload of mulch on top does make a difference. Who knew?

We used the "poor man's irrigation system" recommended by David Terry: poke holes in a plastic milk jug, bury it next to the rose, and fill with water. I was kind of surprised by how fast the milk jugs drained. I thought the water would trickle out for 15 minutes or more, but actually it drained out so fast, it was almost hard to fill. I guess it doesn't matter since the water is getting deep into the soil & not sitting on top or evaporating.

We wanted to get the roses planted by today since it's supposed to rain a lot overnight. Although I read it was supposed to be pouring by midnight, and it's 11:30 now, and it sure doesn't look like it's going to pour in a half hour. Maybe it will just start a little late.

I hope the roses like their new home! It will take them a few years to get big if the saying is true: "first year, they sleep; second year, they creep; third year, they leap!" In the meantime I got morning glory seeds to cover the bank. I hope it isn't difficult to make them grow down instead of up. I guess I can encourage them by staking strings down the bank for them to twine on. I seem to recall they like twining.

reveille with beverly

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March 14 movie: Reveille with Beverly. Ann Miller plays a swing music lover who hosts an early morning radio show dedicated to GIs. This was a very silly movie with fabulous music. Frank Sinatra, the Mills Brothers, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Bob Crosby, and Ella Mae Morse all appear. None of them were characters in the movie; instead Ann Miller would put on a record and then it would cut to a performance by the band. Georg was annoyed that Ellington played "Take the A Train" but his performance was staged not on the A train, rather on a train, that looked like it was out in the Midwest somewhere. I don't know, I thought it was funny.

I was also amused by Miller's terrible DJ skills: she would announce a song, then pick up a record, stroll over to the turntable, cue it up and turn it on. Ack, the dead air! It was like that bad dream where I'm trying to get to the board, moving in slow motion, and the dead air just drags on and on.

We enjoyed this so much that we found ourselves laughing at even the silliest jokes. We laughed the most when we were able to call out the punchline just before it happened. IMDB says this movie was based on a real wartime radio show called "Reveille with Beverly." Strangely, the host of the real show wasn't named Beverly.

the ambushers

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March 13 movie: The Ambushers. This was the third of Dean Martin's Matt Helm spy spoof series. In brief, it was a flat, unfunny Flynt. I'm sorry, Dino, I love you but you are no James Coburn. It wasn't just the star, it was the script too. I never thought that Our Man Flynt had such a great script, but this movie made me realize that it really did.

What the The Ambushers did have going for it was the clothes. If you're into mod fashion this was a treat. Lots of color-blocked minidresses and matching thigh high gogo boots. And the hair, oh my god, the hair. How did they get their hair so high?

I'm being harsh, maybe overly so. I wouldn't watch this movie again, but I heard that the first two Matt Helm movies were better and I'd be willing to give them a try.

the odd couple

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March 12 movie: The Odd Couple. Hard to believe I had never seen this movie before. I remember the TV series of course, from when I was a kid. Actually, all I clearly remember is Jack Klugman dropping a cigar butt on the ground and Tony Randall picking it up with his umbrella. I must say, Klugman and Randall were perfect to replace Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon.

Anyway the movie is terrific. I think my favorite gag is "You leave little notes on my pillow! I've told you a hundred times I can't stand little notes! 'We're all out of corn flakes. FU.' It took me three hours to figure out 'FU' meant Felix Unger!"

kudah gawah

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March 5 movie: Khuda Gawah. Amitabh Night continues! Khuda Gawah is a multigenerational epic romance starring Amitabh as an Afghan prince who goes to India to kill his bride's enemy, and through a series of adventures ends up spending decades in prison for a crime he didn't commit. The overarching theme of the movie is the conflict between the tribal justice of Kabul and the institutional justice of India. Much of the movie was filmed on location in Afganistan and Nepal, and the mountain vistas are extraordinary.

But forget about themes and locations and whatnot. There's one thing you need to know about this movie: goat ball! Amitabh and his honey fall in love during a tribal game of goat ball. Which is sort of like capture the flag, played on horseback, with a ball made of an inflated goat skin. The whole skin, with head and legs still attached. Must be seen to be believed. The end is even better: they renew their love by playing goat ball using their enemy as the ball, then crack his head against a boulder.

My only disappointment of this movie was the love interest, played by Sridevi. At the beginning of the movie she's a rival tribal leader, and does a great dance number about how she'll kill Amitabh rather than submit to him. Alas, when they get married she's tranformed into a helpless, clinging whiner. Then when he leaves her to have his series of adventures, she goes insane. I guess being deprived of the Big B's big love can do that to you.

for your consideration

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March 4 movie: For Your Consideration. I kind of don't know what to say about this movie. It was funny and all, but I feel like I've seen the same movie several times now. Structurally it was very similar to Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show and A Mighty Wind. The main difference of the top of my head is that in this one, the epilogue was more uncomfortable to watch. I think it's because the characters were all so unhappy. Unlike, say, Best in Show, where at the end, the characters seem satisfied with their lives and have no idea they're pathetic. That seemed to make it all more charming and less painful.

theodora goes wild

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March 4 movie: Theodora Goes Wild. I know I had something interesting to say about this movie when I saw it, but that was over a week ago. Now all I can do is refer you to my first write-up and add that this movie is brilliant. Well worth a repeating viewing.

here comes mr. jordan

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March 4 movie: Here Comes Mr. Jordan. Robert Montgomery stars as a boxer whose soul is taken too soon by overeager assistant angel Edward Everett Horton. James Gleason is Montgomery's boxing manager, and Claude Rains plays a more powerful angel (and the title character) who sets things right. I loved this movie. With such great actors in the main roles, how could I not? It was remade as Heaven Can Wait with Warren Beatty. I confess I haven't seen Heaven Can Wait, but Here Comes Mr. Jordan is delightful. Rains is such a tremendous actor that he tends to dominate his movies, but Montgomery and Horton are able to hold their own I think.

shaft

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March 3 movie: Shaft. Who's the black private dick who's a sex machine with all the chicks? Right on!

They showed this on TCM, I think on a night that all the movies had won best song. I hadn't seen it in a long time, and enjoyed it as much as ever. Though I have to admit, one of the best parts was Robert Osbourne saying "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song" in his intro. It was so funny I had to rewind and hear him say it again.

i gotta be me

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What a relief to feel like myself again! I hadn't even realized what a mess I was. I think yesterday was the first day I truly felt back to normal. I only worked a couple of hours in late afternoon, but it was a good productive couple of hours. Weeding the bank by the road, where we're going to put the new roses, and digging one of the planting holes. That makes 2 of the 5 holes dug. Unfortunately those were the two easiest holes & the rest won't go so quickly. Still, I feel confident that we're going to get all the roses in the ground before my surgery. Another relief.

I didn't see any more aphids when I watered the roses today, but just in case I bought some neem oil from the organic gardening store in Carrboro. Which seems to be 1/3 organic gardening supplies, 1/3 fancy flowerpots and lawn art, and 1/3 hydroponic gardening supplies. I guess it's the store for rich hippies who grow pot organically, in fancy containers.

Tonight I didn't get home in time to do any gardening, but Georg did an amazing amount of weeding. We will defeat the weeds! They are no match for us!

We had a wonderful dinner tonight. Grilled pork tenderloin and vegetables with bourbon molasses barbecue sauce. I love barbecue so much.

As a lark this year I decided to try growing artichokes. They're doing great so far: ten cute little seedlings. Today I realized that to figure out where to plant them, I need to know how big they're going to get. My vegetable garden says to space them 2 feet apart, but doesn't say how tall they grow. So I searched Dave's Garden for photos, and found this. Holy moley. I think ten of those would fill the entire front yard. That photo is from Southern California; here's hoping they don't get that big in this part of the country!

free dumping

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Did y'all know the Durham County landfill is having free dumping every Saturday this month? They're open late too: from 8 to 3.

We discovered this when we showed up there yesterday morning, and found a line about 4 times longer than normal. Luckily the line moved very fast, since no one had to go over the scale. Unfortunately we weren't dumping, just there to buy a truckload of topsoil. The topsoil is gorgeous. Black, rich, and crumbly. We're adding it to the new bed at the front of the yard. Which is coming together, unfortunately not as fast as I would like. I think it's going to take another 2 truckloads after this one to fill the bed, but we only have one more weekend before I have to take a month off. Well, we can only get done as much as we can. As long as we get enough dirt on there that I can plant my seedlings, I'll be happy.

After the dump I had to go to a work meeting for a couple of hours, and Georg did a ton of weeding on the bed along the driveway. Because he is awesome. On my way home I got my roses from the mailcenter, which took up some time getting them unpackaged and watered and so forth. After that I dug the hole for the Crepescule by the house. The place where I had intended to put it had a couple of big tree roots right under the soil, so I decided to remove a big salvia a couple of feet over and put the rose in that spot. Problem solved! I think the Crepescule is going to look really nice there. The flowers are orange & it's supposedly a robust good repeat bloomer, and disease resistant. Which is important to me because I'm not willing to spray synthetics. I figure I'm making a one-time investment in roses as an experiment. If they can survive with good soil and the occasional treatment of organics like "Cornell formula" (baking soda and horticultural oil), fantastic. If they need constant pampering and weekly fungicide sprays, then I don't want them in my garden.

We also put down landscape fabric and bark chip mulch on the path around the septic tank bed. I really need a better name for that bed. I mean the area where we took out the septic tank a year ago. Last fall I planted asparagus in there so maybe I should call it the asparagus bed. Although there aren't any signs of life yet from the asparagus.

Anyway, last summer the path around that bed got all weedy and it was kind of hard to walk around it. So we put down landscape fabric and that big chip mulch. I must say, I was surprised by how much better it looks. That whole area looks so tidy and pulled together now.

I feel like I did some other things here and there, but now I can't remember. Still, it was a lovely day. Beautiful weather, nice to be outside getting things accomplished. I'm trying to focus on garden tasks that, if I do them now they will save us work later on. Like covering the path now, before it gets all weedy.

Today hasn't been as productive, because first of all, we're both tired from yesterday. And secondly, Georg had to work and then we had a party to go to. Which was a lot of fun, it was the birthday of a friend we don't see nearly enough. We have an extra hour of daylight tonight so I may still get something done.

a gentle request

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1. If a friend tells you they are having surgery in two weeks, do not tell them about the scare story you just read in a news magazine about that very surgery.

2. If your friend stops you and says "I have to have this surgery, so if this is a scare story that's just going to cause me anxiety, please don't tell me," do not insist that in order to be fully informed they must know about the scare story.

3. If you misremember a scary statistic from the scare story by a factor of 10, and your friend (the one who is having the surgery and already knows about this scary statistic) corrects you, do not tell her that her doctor must be wrong because Newsweek said so. Especially if you are wrong and Newsweek gave the correct statistic, amidst the FUD their story is full of, about the surgery that is not optional for your friend, so why are you trying to scare her.

4. Oh hell, just don't read Newsweek. Everyone will be better off.

moses supposes

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My rose order from Ashdown arrived today! They had sent me a statement saying they were being shipped on Tuesday, and by yesterday when they hadn't arrived yet, I was beginning to get alarmed and wondering if they had been lost in the mail. But no harm done, they were actually shipped Thursday and only spent two days packed up in a cardboard box.

Two cardboard boxes actually: their big box holds four, and they shipped the fifth in its own box. (I had ordered a sixth, a pale yellow/apricot climber called Lady Hillingdon, but it died over the winter. No big deal, I have plenty enough for what I need.)

Here's what I got:

Crepescule
Awakening
Mme. Alfred Carriere
Reve D'Or
Colonial White

They're all climbers. Most of them are for the bank along the road, but the Crepescule is for the side of the house. The roses all look healthy, and came in big pots which were still moist. I was expecting tiny little babies based on customer reviews on the Gardenweb forums. Well either the Gardenweb folks have higher standards than I do, or Ashdown paid attention to the feedback and started selling bigger roses, because mine are a nice healthy size. Much bigger than other shrubs I've ordered by mail. (I do concede that a couple of them are a bit small for the pot size, and I guess they must have agreed because they gave me half-off the smallest one.) A couple of them even have flower buds already! That was a nice surprise.

I gave them all a good watering and put them on the shady side of the house, to give them a chance to get used to sunlight again. By the time I get the holes dug they'll be acclimatized and ready to plant!

Now, the bad news. One of the roses was infested with aphids. That one was shipped in the big box with three others, and after two days inside a cardboard box, the other three have aphids too.

I wrote to Ashdown and asked them if they have a policy about sending roses with aphids (i.e., is this normal, do they give a credit for the hassle, etc), and also what should I do. In the meantime I isolated the one with really bad aphids from the others, and also isolated the one that had been in a box by itself.

Also while watering them I used a blast of water to knock off the aphids. Which worked better than I had honestly expected. I guess aphids don't hang on that well. I probably didn't get them all, but if I do it again every day, that might actually get rid of the little bastards.

eat a sandwich

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So, I haven't posted lately. I haven't been feeling well, mostly tired and headachy, and I didn't want to whine, and I was too tired to write about anything else. In the middle of the week I started feeling lightheaded, and having some difficulty remembering things, a sort of "brain fog." And on Thursday when I tried to work in the garden I almost fainted.

I thought I had some kind of weird flu at first, and then it occurred to me that it might be my diet. I've had to go on a very low fat diet because of the gallstones. (Which, I don't think I even mentioned that my surgery has been scheduled for March 23.) I've never tried to eat low-fat before so I thought it would be easier if I followed a specific diet plan. Instead of going for a low-fat diet like Weight Watchers or (heaven forfend) Ornish, I had the brilliant idea to follow the South Beach diet and just cut back even more on fat. Because I'm already quite familiar with eating low carb, it's comfortable to me. And South Beach is much lower fat than other low carb plans I've read about.

As it turns out, it's really hard to cut way back on fat and starch at the same time. I did it for a couple of weeks. But my eating choices were so limited, the monotony started to get to me. Yesterday, out of concern over the "flu" symptoms, I ran the past couple of days before through fitday.com just to see what I had been eating. Not nearly enough, I discovered. Without realizing it I had started eating less and less, until my food intake dropped to about half what I want it to be. Not nearly enough calories to function. I had no idea until I saw the numbers in fitday.

I spent a day thinking it over and trying to continue a modified South Beach, and then decided that it's just not going to work. I have to eat as little fat as possible until my stupid gallbladder gets the hell out, and it's too difficult to do that without eating starch either. I'm a little alarmed by how easy it was to drop my calories to an unhealthy low without realizing it. I never even felt hungry, just exhausted and depressed. I will never again make such a drastic change in my eating habits without keeping track.

We celebrated my decision by going out for sushi. Which was fantastic. Wonderful food and almost no fat. Just what I needed. Tomorrow I'm going to buy bread and make a sandwich for lunch. And then maybe have a Locopop!

plan b

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This evening I finally got around to filling my Imitrex prescription. Did you know that Imitrex is crazy expensive? It's totally ridiculous. I hardly want to use it except for extreme headaches. Good thing Exedrin Migraine works pretty well most of the time.

While I was there I asked the pharmacist for Plan B. Not that I'm planning on needing it, but that's the whole point of emergency contraception -- to have it in case of an emergency.

I've heard news stories about people getting hassled when they try to buy Plan B, and I was wondering if that would happen to me. In fact, it was no hassle at all. The pharmacist just said, "let me go check if we have it," walked away and came back with the head pharmacist. Who asked to see my ID, told me not to use it as a primary means of birth control, and asked if I understood that it has to be taken within 72 hours. That was it. Kind of expensive -- $37 for one dose -- but if I ever needed it, it would be well worth it.

So if anyone is keeping track, the Eckerd Drugs on Hillsborough Road is a fine place to buy emergency contraception.

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