April 2007 Archives

photos

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I took a bunch of photos of the plants I wrote about yesterday. I dated them yesterday so they would show up with yesterday's posts. I'm going to try to be better about photographing the garden projects I write about. It only takes a minute, and the descriptions probably don't make much sense without photos.

digging digging part 2

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I got so wrapped up in the bolting spinach problem that I forgot about today's garden work. Well, this morning we planted the last rose out front by the road. Again this meant a lot of bed preparation. Mostly weeding. I had to use the mattock because the roots of those weeds are so entrenched.

When the rose was in we went to work on a new bed at the end of that bank. When we tilled up there a couple of years ago, and planted all the dayllilies, we just didn't go all the way to the end. And the last few feet on the end got all nasty and weedy like the whole bank used to be. Today we dug up the most aggressive weeds, covered the rest with cardboard, and piled a thick layer of soil and leaf mulch over top. It's a small area -- about 4×5' -- but it's been looking bad for a couple of years now, and I'm so glad to finally have it dealt with. In theory it should take a year for the cardboard to break down, which should be enough time to kill the weeds underneath.

While planting the rose, we accidently knocked a branch off of it. I had read that roses can be propagated from cuttings, so I figured I'd try it. It was kind of ridiculously easy. Just strip the bottom few leaves off, score the length of the stem, dip it in rooting hormone, stick it in potting soil, water and cover with a plastic bag.

My only concern is that I didn't do the rooting immediately, I spent some time reading about how to do it, and during that time the top of the cutting wilted. I read that wilted cuttings are less likely to take root, and I really hope I didn't let it go too long. I misted the cutting to try and rehydrate it. I hope that was enough!

By this point it was time for lunch --great salad at Nosh, yum -- and Divaville. After the show I went back out, sowed sunflower seeds in the new bed we made this morning, and did some more weeding. It was easier to work in the evening, much less hot. The weeds grow so fast out there! I got the weeds cleared from two of the roses, which leaves two more to do. I still want to go back into the bed and weed around the daylilies, but the critical weeding -- the part that 1. can be seen from the road, and 2. is in danger of smothering the roses -- is mostly done.

Whew! I guess we got a lot done. I didn't even mention how Georg bought a four-way splitter for the outdoor faucet and completely reorganized our hoses and soaker hoses. That is going to be so nice, to have easy access to water wherever we need it. The only place we'll still have to lug watering cans to is the roses way out front.

digging digging

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Another wonderfully productive weekend. We started out by emptying the shed of paint cans and old cleaning products, and taking them all to the hazardous waste collection place out by the dump. Which is free! I had no idea. I guess they make it free to encourage people to do it. If they charged, people might hide their old antifreeze cans in the regular trash or something awful like that.

Next we went to the dump. Where they had free compost! They called it "leaf mulch" though I wouldn't call it mulch. Really more of a light compost made of leaves and sticks. It did have chunks of stick in it, but very few bits of plastic trash. Which the regular compost is unfortunately rife with.

Back home we spent the afternoon planting the gardenia by friend Joe had given us. It doesn't sound like that much, but we had to start from scratch and create a new bed for it. The soil was horrible solid clay. With a scruffy old rose growing there, that had to be dug out. And the location is right under the electrical meter and breaker box, so we had to be very careful not to dig too deep and cut a line. And just in case the job wasn't enough of a pain, at some point in the past we had piled up a bunch of old bricks and concrete blocks there to get them out of the way.

So basically, we had to move a big pile of concrete, then dig a big hole in heavy clay, but carefully, carefully, then remove the clay, and then finally we could plant the gardenia. I hope it likes its new home! It's a nice sheltered location against the southwest wall of the house.

After that I took a rest during the hottest part of the day, then went back out and planted a flat of marigolds that I had bought a couple of weeks ago. We also watered, which was a good opportunity to walk around and see how everything is doing. We were pleased to see that the potatoes are starting to come up, sunflower seedlings are starting to emerge, and best of all, two sugar snaps and two tomatoes have flowers! Woo!

On the downside, the spinach is bolting. I knew it would happen when it got hot, I just hoped it wouldn't happen quite so soon. Oh well, we've had several good meals from the spinach and it looks like we'll have several more before it all goes. It creates a slight dilemma though. We had planned to plant pumpkins in that spot after the spinach was done. But we don't want to plant the pumpkins until early-mid July. I hate for that spot to go unused for two months, but what can we plant there for such a short time?

We might try greens and put a row cover over them. Shaded from full sun they might do okay. Any other suggestions?

that deaf dumb and blind dog

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We suspect that Thirteen is starting to lose her vision. Because she's recently (like in the past couple of weeks) developed the habit of not eating some or all of her pills. It's not because she doesn't want them: if we get the pills and put them in front of her, she always eats them.We wrap them in cheese, and it seems that she simply can't see a lump of cheese sitting in an off-white food dish.

So we've been making a habit of checking her dish after every meal, retrieving the pills she missed, and putting them right under her nose so she'll eat them. If she misses the itchy pill she's miserable for the next twelve hours. The selegeline (the crazy pill) isn't as immediate, but is still important. Last week we screwed up and she missed two days of selegeline. Monday we ran out, and we figured no big deal, one day and it will still be in her system. So we picked up the prescription Monday evening. Tuesday she missed all three selegeline pills. And Tuesday is the crazy rush day where we have to learn really early to take them to the vet outside Pittsboro. And I forgot to check her dish, so she went two whole days without the crazy pills.

I could really tell. She was starting to act nuts on the way home from the vet that evening. She'd whine a bit, and then suddenly bark out of nowhere. Oh man, it was driving me crazy. The car isn't that big and her bark was just piercing. I couldn't even tell her to stop because she can't hear me, especially over the ambient noise of the car. And she was sitting right behind me so that I couldn't reach her to try and calm her down when we stopped at a red light. What a nightmare drive!

So anyway, we think she's starting to lose her sight. Or at least lose the ability to distinguish a light object on a light background. This weekend we had the brilliant idea to get her a dark colored food dish. It sort of worked, except that she took a couple of her pills out of the dish and then dropped them on the off-white floor. Sigh. Maybe we need to get a dark floor mat too.

I'm not that freaked out about the possible loss of eyesight. I mean, it's not great. Especially with her already mostly deaf. But I got a comment a while back from someone who had a deaf and blind dog, and she said it was fine. The dog could remember where things were, well enough to get around, and she said he still seemed happy. I'm hoping that's how it goes with Thirteen.

reet, petite, and gone

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Just got back from Divaville. One of these days I will remember to announce the show on my blog before it happens. Here's the playlist if you're interested.

I had a great time, and the show went well if I do say so:

  • No flubs, even though someone had reprogrammed the CD players to not auto-stop. (even better, Ross showed me how to reprogram them when he came in for his show, so next time I can fix it myself.)
  • One near-disaster when I misjudged the time, took a bathroom break and made it back to the MCR with 30 seconds to go before a talkset and nothing cued up -- and Georg was listening and said he had no idea anything was wrong. Whew! I thought I must have sounded like I was gasping for breath after running up the stairs in a panic.
  • Four requests, one from LA! And all of the requests were for artists I love and was thrilled to play. In fact one of the requests was for Sammy Davis Jr., who I had already played, and one was for Bobby Darin, which I had just cued up! That's only ever happened to me once before, and it's the coolest thing.

I played a couple of Louis Jordan tracks which I had never heard until that movie we watched a few weeks ago. I was able to find a 3-CD set on Amazon with a lot of those tracks for only $15 including shipping. Not bad at all! I played "Beware" then followed with "Look Out," the female answer to "Beware." Which was a lot of fun & I hope everyone else enjoyed it as much as I did.

I also did a set of W.C. Handy tracks, and was surprised not to find any Handy songs sung by Nat King Cole. This is a surprise because Cole starred in the Handy biopic. I thought for sure he'd have W.C. Handy songs popping up in all his collections, as with Eartha Kitt who also starred in the movie.

Also did a set of Duke Ellington since it was his birthday yesterday. My only goof was noticing the album Ella and Duke twenty minutes after the Ellington set! Whoops. I would have liked Ella's version of "Take the A Train" better than the one I played, I think. Oh well, I'll remember next time!

av geeks: schooladelic

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April 27 movie: AV Geeks: Schooladelic. I like these Hillsborough AV Geeks performances. Well, to be honest I could have lived without the noisy, restless, chair-kicking, floor-crawling, running-back-and-forth child who sat right behind me. But the show was about educational films for kids, so I can't be too resentful that kids came to the performance.

The theme was trippy educational films from the late 60s and early 70s. Not movies about drugs, but movies that appeared to have been made by people on drugs. It really lived up to that description. Some of the movies were so weird that I couldn't imagine how they were considered educational.

I recognized one: a Claymation animated short about two kids who change themselves into bean bags and travel to a magical land where they solve everyone's problems. It's every bit as weird as it sounds. I also enjoyed "Toes Tell," a wordless look at a girl who does everything with her feet, which reminded me very much of "You Need Feet" from the Rutles. Georg and I agreed that our favorite short was the first. I can't remember what it was called but it was a psychadelic animation (again, no words) for the Bicentennial. Skip said the animator was well-known and it looked a lot like XTC's Oranges and Lemons album cover. The best part was when the "American Gothic" couple showed up in the cartoon, and the man's eyeglasses were flashing white and red. Trippy, man!

ETA: Kevin identified the trippy bicentennial cartoon as "200" by Vincent Collins and found it online: 200

Also on the AV Geeks website I found the one about the children who turn themselves into beanbags: Malakapalakadoo Skip Two

They've also posted their very best short film ever, "Shake Hands with Danger." But maybe I just think it's the best because it was shown at the first AV Geeks performance I ever went to: Shake Hands with Danger

the archiving project

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For the past couple of weeks Georg and I have been taken up with a massive archiving project. The goal: to make it easier to transport our music to the radio station. The task? Copying hundreds of CDs, printing up labels for them, and filing them in a binder. A big, big binder.

I don't actually have the binder yet; it's on order. It's hard to find a really big CD binder in regular retail stores. Amazon and Best Buy carry the same brand. It's OK but the largest one holds only 300 or so, and the handle isn't very comfortable. I googled "dj cd case" and found one that holds 520 CDs and has a shoulder strap. That's the one I ordered. Christa uses a very similar case for her Divaville CDs and it's really nice.

That same website also had a hard case with wheels and a telescoping handle. Drool. Unfortunately the sleeves sound kind of funky -- you have to put two CDs in each sleeve so you can only see the label for the top one or something? It wasn't super clear from the description. I'm not sure if that would work as we need the ability to browse the CDs and see what's on them at a glance. Plus it's almost 3 times more expensive than the other. Ah well, I guess I'll have to live without the wheeled case.

Turns out copying CDs takes a long time if you have to do a lot of them. To facilitate the task I've brought the fast deskop computer with the big hard drive out into the living room. This way I can lounge on the couch and watch TV while working. The computer fills the coffee table though.

I have a friend with a CD duplication business & I'm hoping I can make use of his equipment one evening this week. In the meantime, copy on!

the little princess

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April 26 movie: The Little Princess. I love this movie! It's schmaltz of the highest order. Seriously, if you like corn, you have to see this. Shirley Temple is a sweet, generous little rich girl whose father goes off to the Boer War and is presumed dead. At which point the evil headmistress of Shirley's boarding school makes her wear rags and sleep in the attic and work as a servant. Plucky little Shirley spends the rest of the movie being a sweet, generous poor girl, until Queen Victoria shows up at the end and helps her find her daddy. I am so not kidding.

I read this book as a kid, and in retrospect it seems a bit masochistic the way the suffering is piled on this girl we're obviously supposed to identify with. There's something almost romance novelish about it. I haven't read any romance novels in a long time but back in the 80s it seemed like in every one the heroine had to bravely (and passively) endure a series of horrible punishments. Maybe they weren't all like that; maybe I was just bad at picking them.

(I was going to say the suffering is piled on this unfailingly cheerful girl, but then I realized that while Temple is unfailingly cheerful, I can't remember if the character in the book was.)

Anyway, back to the movie, it features dancing from Arthur Treacher, and Cesar Romero as an Indian manservant.

our man flint

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April 25 movie: Our Man Flint. After raving about The Silencers I just had to watch the first and best Flint movie again. And lucky me, my copy of the Flint collection arrived from Amazon just in time! It's a pretty good deal: for fifteen bucks I got both Flint movies and the pilot to a 1976 failed Flint tv series called "Our Man Flint: Dead On Target." Which, if you ever watch it, you will know immediately why it failed. Coburn wasn't in it, of course, and by 1976 (eleven years after Our Man Flint) the look and style was so totally different than the tv show had absolutely nothing to do with Flint. It was just a C-level detective show. We couldn't force ourselves to watch more than a few minutes.

The DVD also include trailers for a couple of movies, including Modesty Blaise. Which I've seen already, and it was so much fun that I watched the trailer again. Now I've got the theme song stuck in my head. "Modesteeeeee! Modesty!" Gahh! I've been listening to a variety of catchy tunes to try and drive Modesty away, and nothing works.

the silencers

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April 22 movie: The Silencers. A few weeks ago I wrote a bad review of The Ambushers, the third Matt Helm movie, and Dino Martin Peters posted a comment setting me straight. Based on his sheer Dinolove, I decided to give Matt Helm another try and rent The Silencers.

I'm not too proud to admit I was wrong. And pallie, I was wrong! The Silencers is terrific. Every bit as good as the Flint movies. I enjoyed it immensely. It's a must see if you like spy spoofs or the Rat Pack. It's hard to pick out one favorite thing, but I have to mention the wacky apartment with the round bed that slides across the room and dumps Helm into a giant bathing pool. And Dino sings! Funny versions of his famous songs, with new lyrics that relate to the plot.

Dino Martin Peters says Murderers Row is the best of the bunch, and Netflix doesn't have it, so I'm thinking about buying the Matt Helm series so I can see it. I'd also kind of like to see The Ambushers again. I think I would have appreciated it better if I'd seen The Silencers first.

a thousand and one nights

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April 22 movie: A Thousand and One Nights. A satiric version of the Aladdin story in the tradition of the Road movies. Lots of anachronistic jokes and breaking of the fourth wall, mostly provided by Phil Silvers. Who played Aladdin's best friend in a turban, long pointy sideburns and freaky cat-eye glasses. Well-worth seeing. Also starred Cornel Wilde as Aladdin. Who, sadly, looks more like he might be from the Middle East than anyone else in the movie. This is the whitest Thousand and One Nights imaginable. All the female characters are fair and blonde! Wilde and Silvers do a great duet called "No More Women/I Like Women", which I tried to find on CD but it doesn't seem to be available.

princess o'rourke

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April 21 movie: Princess O'Rourke. This was a silly little comedy with Olivia de Havilland as a princess pretending to be a maid who falls in love with ordinary guy Robert Cummings. Also stars Jack Carson and Jane Wyman as Cummings' friends and the wonderful Charles Coburn as de Havilland's domineering uncle.

One thing I liked about this movie was part of the mistaken identity plot: while Cummings thinks de Havilland is an ordinary girl, he jumps to the wrong conclusion that Coburn is her sugar daddy. He's understandably upset, but he tells his friends that all he wants from her is honesty. Then when de Havilland says "There's something you need to know about me before we get married," he relaxes and says she doesn't have to say anything. He was telling the truth! He really did just want honesty. No high and mighty condemnation. When de Havilland seemed about to come clean, he forgave her. How refreshing for a 1943 movie.

news flash: fish smells

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Today has been one of those incredibly frustrating days where you're busy all day and absolutely nothing gets done, except giving yourself a headache from trying to keep track of everything. Enough about that; let's talk about fish emulsion!

See, I had never fertilized my garden before. Because organic gardeners believe, at least I have read in many places, that synthetic fertilizers actually burn away the natural nutrients in the soil. So that the more you fertilize, the more you need to fertilize just to sustain normal plant growth. It's like tilling: the theory is that repeated tilling does more harm than good to the soil, and so tilling every spring is worse than wasted effort.

I wasn't inclined to fertilize anyway. Because that sounds like work, and I've already got more work than I can handle just keeping up with the garden. I'm all in favor of a theory that confirms my basic laziness (see freedom lawn) and so I was happy to swear off fertilizing.

So the only fertilizing I've done is to add compost to the garden beds every once in a while, and that's worked out pretty well I think. But lately I've been thinking that maybe my plants would do better if they had a boost. And I went over to my friend David's house and his garden is looking fantastic, much further along than mine, and when I asked him his secret, he said Miracle Gro. And my favorite gardening show host, who is all organic, uses fish emulsion as a fertilizer. So I bought a bottle of fish emulsion. What could be the harm?

Fish emulsion, as it turns out, is nasty stuff. I never really thought about it before, but of course it's exactly what it sounds like: liquified fish. It's a thick brown liquid, about the consistency of heavy cream, and it stinks! It didn't smell so bad in the bottle but mixing it with water seemed to release the scent. Lugging gallon after gallon of it around the garden and pouring it over the plants, hoo boy did it stink. The smell was probably worsened by the sun and heat yesterday too.

You mix a capful of the fish stuff with a gallon of water, then use it to water your plants as normal. I didn't realize my watering can held two gallons, and accidentally mixed it half strength. Which I'm glad about in retrospect. We had a terrible accident a couple of years ago with some improperly mixed insecticidal soap that ate away every plant surface it touched. We started with buggy squash plants and ended with sad little mounds of shriveled mush. After that I'm leery of any concentrate that has to be mixed, and happy to start out with a weak mixture just to be safe.

So anyway, I was out in the yard yesterday, in the sun, pouring this fish water over my plants and trying to hold my nose at the same time. The watering can is too heavy to pour one-handed when full, so this didn't work as well as I could have hoped. Jane on the other hand was in heaven. Following me around grinning (I know dogs don't smile, but when she's happy she sort of looks like she is smiling so I think of her that way) like "What is that wonderful smell? This is the best garden ever!" I kept her away from the area where I mixed the fish water, in case some of the stronger concentrate were left on the ground. There wasn't a toxicity warning on the bottle, but it certainly couldn't be good for her to eat it.

I used the fish emulsion on the blueberries, the vegetable beds, the hydrangeas, the butterfly garden, the asparagus and the roses. Did not use it on the tiny seedlings because I was leery of the effect on tender plants (see insecticidal soap disaster, above). Everything looked fine this morning so I guess it's safe to use it again. You're supposed to apply this stuff every two weeks during the growing season, and also you can put it in a sprayer and spray plant leaves (this is called "foliar feeding"). I don't know if I'm going to manage either of those. For one thing, that sounds suspiciously like work. And for another, the smell is only going to get worse as we head into summer.

planting day

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What a nice day in the garden. Actually, to be honest most of the day was spent on garden-related shopping. We went to the farmer's market, which has gotten really busy now that it's warm. We had a short list of things to buy -- a lime thyme, a French tarragon, an epazote, poblano peppers and tomato plants, if the heirloom tomato people were there -- and we found everything on our list except the poblanos.

The heirloom tomato people from last year weren't there, but there was an herb vendor who had heirloom tomatoes. We got Cherokee Purple and Zebra Green, a green tomato with reddish stripes. We've already got a Better Boy and an Early Girl. All we need now is a cherry tomato. I really like Super Sweet 100, it's done well for us in the past, but I've only seen it in 4-packs, which I'd rather not buy because we only need one. Here's hoping we find a single plant soon! If not I'll just buy a 4-pack and give the rest away.

We also bought a few things we hadn't planned on: borage, "toothache plant" which I've also seen described as "eyeball plant," a special gaillarda, a couple of geraniums with really unusual foliage, some hens and chickens, and one of my favorite annuals: bat face!

The garden center at the farmer's market closed last year, and we noticed this morning that the space had re-opened. It's now called "Market Imports" or something and sells lawn art as well as indoor tchotchkes. It looks to be really expensive, and I don't think we'll be buying much (if anything) there, but it was really fun to browse. I think our favorite things were the chickens and piggies made of scrap metal. They also had a watering can made of a 55-gallon drum that I really liked.

We also hit the concrete lawn ornament place across the street, where I scored the moai two weeks ago. We were looking for a bird bath, of which they have many, unfortunately none were what we wanted. At one point I said to Georg, "I'm just looking for something more contemporary." We looked at each other and I said, "I know, in that case what am I doing here." They have a pretty wide range of styles there, just not contemporary. Still, we did have fun looking at everything and I took a bunch of photos.

We ran a few errands on the way home, and then it was time to plant! I got all our purchases into the ground. Except the hens and chickens which Georg planted. I also planted a Cecile Brunner rose which my friend David gave me. The funny thing is, I went to his house yesterday to surprise him with a rose, and it turned out he had a rose for me! I gave him a Secret Garden Musk Climber, which I had just ordered for myself, because I knew how much he likes old-fashioned single roses. I planted the Cecile Brunner in a big clay pot because I'm not sure yet where I'm going to put it in the garden. It looks really nice in the pot actually; I might leave it there, as long as I can remember to water it!

The garden is doing pretty well if I do say so. It's such fun to watch the perennials get bigger every day. Some of them are starting to bloom, and luckily we have the pansies for color until the perennials get going. The only big bummer is that something ate all the artichokes I had potted up last weekend. The entire seedling was chomped right off! I still have the two that I planted in the new bed, but the eight in pots were razed to the ground. Dang.

While I was planting, Georg weed whacked down by the road. By the end of all that we were both pretty tired! So we decided to have dinner at the Q Shack instead of cooking. On the way home we stopped at Lowe's to check out their bird baths. Turns out they don't have any! While we were there, I picked up another packet of artichoke seeds. They don't fruit the first year anyway, so it doesn't matter if they get planted late. Also we browsed the plants, and discovered that they have poblano peppers! Yay! I've been looking for them for weeks, and had just about given up. In fact we were on the verge of buying some other kind of pepper at the farmer's market, but in all the hubbub we forgot. How lucky was that?

everybody's got to make a living

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Slacktivist has been slowly working his way through Left Behind, one scene at a time, every Friday for the past couple of years. Today he finally got to the most jaw-droppingly appalling scene in the entire first book, for me at least: the phone conversation in which atheist, slut and future girlfriend of the Antichrist, Hattie Durham, complains that the disappearance of all the embryos and fetuses means her sister the abortion provider is out of work!

That short description doesn't begin to do justice to the amazing awfulness of the scene. If you want to see everything that's wrong with Left Behind in a few paragraphs, check it out.

glutton for punishment

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I listened to the first half of the Gonzales testimony today. I wasn't near a radio and wasn't able to listen to the second half. Because I am a glutton for punishment, this disappointed me.

Actually the hearing wasn't punishment at all. The Senate hearings I've heard before are generally spittle-inflected rage from the opposing party and sycophantic cuddles from friendly party. Not so today; even the Republicans were down on Gonzales. The only friendly questioner I heard was Orrin Hatch. His questions were in the typical line of "Isn't it true, sir, that you like puppies and rainbows and are dreamy?" Everyone else had taken a rare blow from the clue stick. It was particularly satisfying to hear Specter rip him a new one.

It seems like everyone can agree on hating Gonzales and the damage he's done to the justice system. He even brings together the angry Libertarian and yellow-dog Democrat who argue at lunch every day in my office. Gonzales is a uniter!

If you want to watch Gonzales being read the riot act, Talking Points Memo has video clips of the highlights.

things i learned today

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1. If you buy a smoothie, not knowing whether you're going to like it or not, see if they have a small. If they don't, and they accidently make a lot extra, and they offer you the extra, but you don't know if you're even going to like it or not, don't take the extra.

2. If a guy asks you if the tribal design on the back of his new motorcycle helmet sort of looks like a face, which he doesn't want it to look like, don't say "Or a kitty cat!" Trust me on this one.

cree-pee

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Had to call a supplier today. Their hold music was the convocation for the dead at Virginia Tech. Is it just me or is that inappropriate, not to mention creepy? Fortunately I wasn't on hold for long, but still, hearing someone talk about the magnitude of our grief and then suddenly get cut off with "hello, may I help you?" was just weird.

I'm trying not to obsess about the shootings because I have to get work done. (The weepy obsessing is for the time alone in my car, which fortunately is a lot of time today.) Thanks for reminding me!

oh no, a meme

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snagged from dickumbrage, whose selections were so tough I couldn't guess any of them! I tried to make mine pretty easy.

Go to IMDB.com and look up 10 of your favorite movies.
Post three or four official IMDB "Plot Keywords" for each.
Hey guys, guess the movies!

1. lightbulb, chess, sabotage
2. parallel world, bathing, bad smell, train
3. poncho, undertaker, massacre
4. playboy, world domination, bouillabaisse
5. pest control, vicar, full moon
6. paranoia, costume party, mother son relationship
7. all male cast, gardening, motorcycle, machine gun
8. domineering mother, cigarette, psychiatry, brazil
9. telephone call, split screen, man pretending to be gay
10. rocket car, musician, escaped mental patient

ETA: if you want a hint, here's one more keyword for each movie:
1: number in title
2: witch
3: mule
4: spoof
5: vegetable
6: solitaire
7: tunnel
8: ugly duckling
9: interior decorator
10: sequel mentioned in end credits

ETA again: here are the answers, including kudos to those who guessed! Highlight the text to read the answers:

  1. Stalag 17 Georg and Kevin!
  2. Spirited Away
  3. Fistful of Dollars close enough: Georg, Lisa, Kevin and anonymous!
  4. Our Man Flint Lisa and Kevin!
  5. Wallace and Grommit in the Curse of the Were Rabbit Georg and Bummble!
  6. The Manchurian Candidate Georg and Kevin!
  7. The Great Escape Georg and Kevin!
  8. Now, Voyager also accepted Kiss of the Spider Woman from Kevin
  9. Pillow Talk Georg, Lisa and Kevin!
  10. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai in the Eighth Dimension Georg and Phil!

satte pe satta

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April 13 movie: Satte pe Satta. Amitabh Night is back! We had to take a few weeks off for me to have surgery and Sylvia to go to Puerto Rico. Which sounded like the most amazing trip ever.

It was great to see Sylvia again. We had it at our place this time, and made mini-hamburgers with spicy curry yogurt sauce, and a cucumber salad with spinach and green onions from our garden. What fun.

Satte pe Satta is a remake of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Which I had just recently seen, and I was surprised by how similar the two movies are. A lot of scenes were taken directly from the original: the drive up to the mountain house, the first dinner where the brothers act like animals, the bride stealing the brothers' clothes to wash them, the party where the brothers have a dance-off with the boys from town to win the girls from town ... They're basically exactly the same movies, except Satte pe Satta adds a whole big subplot about a beautiful rich girl in a wheelchair being the target of an attempted murder. Which was a good change, since Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was fairly low on plot as I recall.

One really cool thing about Satte pe Satta is that the family car is an art car! It's a sort of open jeep with enough seating for all seven brothers and all seven kidnapped girls, a bunch of horns attached to the front, and a kooky multi-colored paint job. And no one ever says a word about it! This crazy car is just there and no one ever comments on it. My god I love Bollywood.

Satte pe Satta also bucked the Bollywood trend in pacing: most of these movies are really exciting at first, start to drag at about the 90 minute mark, and then get exciting again to finish up with a bang. In contrast, Satte pe Satta starts out kind of dull. It finally gets going at about 45 minutes in and the pace never slackens from there. And I haven't even mentioned the kinky undertone (like Amitabh showing his love by flicking his switchblade at the object of his affection. No, really.)

The only negative to me is that the movie had more buffalo shots of portly Indian men than I ever wanted to see. Seriously, the brothers, who are not all that fit, spend the first half hour of the movie in their underpants. I could have forgiven it if Amitabh were included, but no! He's the classy brother who spends the entire movie fully clothed. Figures.

the six wives of henry viii

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April 12 movie: The Six Wives of Henry VIII. Parts 5 and 6: Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr. I read that the Catherine Howard segment was fairly ahistorical, which is sad because the rest of the series is so scrupulously accurate. And really, what's the need to fuck around with the history here? The true story is so incredibly dramatic as it is. I had the same problem with the Cate Blanchett Elizabeth; for instance that famous " I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king" speech. In the Blanchett movie she gives that speech to a few people in her privy council. In real life she said those words while riding a horse, wearing armor, to inspire her army before battle. Why the heck would you change an event like that to make it less dramatic?

Anyway. I was annoyed at the inaccuracies in the Catherine Howard segment -- they make Catherine into a villain who coldly seduces Culpeper to try and get pregnant, while I think in real life she was just a silly young girl who had never learned to control her libido.

The Catherine Parr, segment, in contrast, was one of the best of the whole series. And that's saying something! I wish I had seen this miniseries before Elizabeth R. Because the actors who play Catherine Parr and Tom Seymour show up in both series. I recognized the actor who played Catherine Parr, and it was driving me crazy through the whole episode trying to figure out who she was. Looked it up afterwards and discovered that I've seen her in a couple of things, but the one I recognized her from was surely the "Checkmate" episode of The Prisoner. She played the Queen, the woman who is hypnotized into believing she's in love with Number 6, and then given a tracking device so the watchers can track him through her.

living on love

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April 11 movie: Living on Love. Another one of those "lost RKO movies" TCM showed recently. This was a remake of Rafter Romance which they showed the week before. This time starring James Dunn (who I recognized from Shirley Temple movies) and Whitney Bourne (who I didn't recognize).

I didn't enjoy it as much as the original, for two reasons: first the pranks the roommates play on each other are much more vicious; and second there's no half-naked Ginger Rogers stepping out of her panties. The kindly Jewish landlord still provides much of the humor, but his kindly fat Jewish wife has been replaced by a kindly fat black maid. Also in the remake, the landlord sees the couple together and doesn't seem to mind. While in the original, the landlord has his son on lookout to make sure the couple never see each other (to avoid the impropriety of an unmarried couple sharing an apartment).

we were strangers

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April 11 movie: We Were Strangers. This was an excellent thriller about the Batista revolution in Cuba. Jennifer Jones and James Garfield play Cuban revoutionaries plotting to take down the Machado government. I don't know much about this event in history, but I was struck by the point of view espoused by the movie. Not to put too fine a point on it, Jones and Garfield are terrorists. Their plan is to assassinate a high-ranking government official, then blow up the funeral, killing every major figure in the government and hundreds of civilians too. But the only time the word "terrorist" is used in the movie, it's against our sympathies: an evil policeman calls them terrorists while threatening Jones.

It just goes to show that you can't watch an old movie through a modern filter. This movie was made in 1949, just after WWII ended. I guess at that time people must have been more comfortable with the idea that sometimes civilians had to die in pursuit of an important military goal. It's hard to imagine a movie today in which the heroes plot to murder hundreds of innocent bystanders.

Jennifer Jones' acting in this movie is incredible. Her character is so dark and she plays it with full conviction. I shouldn't have been surprised, having seen her range in Portrait of Jenny. But when I see her face I always think of the ethereal nun in Song of Bernadette. That character is worlds apart from this one. By the end I even forgot about the fair-at-best accent and accepted her as a Cuban woman.

(The accents are all kind of bad, kind of Speedy Gonzales, not to mention the conceit of having a bunch of Cubans speaking English with phony accents to each other. Only Garfield was spared, as his character was a Cuban-born American who grew up in New York.) The funny thing was, you could totally tell who was actually Latino and who was a phony by the way they pronounced "Cuba": Cue-ba or Coo-ba.)

on air

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From 3-5 pm today, lovely ladies and charming gents will perform jazz standards for the Divaville radio show. 88.7 if you're local, wxdu.org if you're not.

dirt under my fingernails

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Busy day in the yard today. We started out by covering the blueberries with bird netting. Last year we only got one berry each before the birds picked the bushes clean! This year we have a much bigger crop coming, which we'd like to eat ourselves. We had already done the bird netting, when we covered them with plastic. But we didn't know what we were doing, and we put the stakes too close to the bushes, and when it got windy the netting got all caught in the branches.

Turns out bird netting is annoying stuff that gets caught on everything. Disentangling the netting from the blueberries was a tricky chore. Unfortunately we pulled a few baby berries off, but only a few. We moved the stakes further away from the bushes, and pulled the netting taut over the frames so it wouldn't get tangled on the branches. And we did a good job if I do say so myself. I dare the birds to eat our blueberries now!

While we were down at that end of the yard, we noticed an open flower on one of the roses! My first rose bloom! It's the Reve D'Or, a noisette climber. It was described as a buff-yellow but it looks off-white to me. The flower is beautiful. I love antique roses. Both the single kind with only five petals, like the Tudor rose, and the kind with many many petals, like noisettes.

Unfortunately the Crepuscule up by the house isn't doing so well in terms of flowers. It has about a half-dozen buds, but they get all crumply and don't open. I think this is called "balling" (no dirty jokes please!) and we suspect it's because the weather has been wet and the rose isn't getting enough sun. That spot got full afternoon sun last summer, but the oak tree seems to have grown and is now shading that area.

In the afternoon Georg unloaded the rest of the soil from the truck and into the new bed. He also cut a branch from the oak tree to let poor Crepuscule get some sun. Meanwhile I did less strenuous work, mostly planting. Let's see, I planted a blue columbine on the north side of the house. Also two six-packs of torenia (a cute shade annual with trumpet-shaped blue flowers) under the hydrangeas. The special alstroemeria from Messenbrink went into the bank along the driveway. I had planned to put it in the bare spot where a caryopteris had died over the winter. But when I stuck in my trowel, I discovered new shoots from the caryopteris! It didn't die! What a nice surprise. Caryopteris is a small (approx 2 feet tall) woody shrub with tiny blue flowers in late summer, which bees and butterflies love. Luckily there was a space next to the caryopteris where I could put the alstroemeria. I also planted a bright red verbena in a red/orange bed down near the road.

Then I went to work on my seedlings. We started a bunch of perennials from seed over the winter. It's such a huge savings -- $3 for a whole packet of seeds vs. $6-10 per plant -- that I don't even mind that they won't bloom this year. The seedlings all did well in their little peat pots, and they've gotten to the point where the peat pots are too small and they can't grow any bigger until they get into the ground. I planted all the baby yarrows in the new bed by the house, the one where Georg was unloading soil today. I also sowed a few hollyhock seeds behind the yarrow. I understand it may be several years before the hollyhocks bloom but it will be worth it.

I also planted baby butterfly weeds, up in the butterfly garden and also down in the red/orange bed with the new verbena. And I put the artichoke seedlings in pots, because I don't have the space ready in the ground for them yet. The pots aren't big enough to be their permanent homes, but it will do for now.

And Georg and I planted another rose. I never even mentioned that after my big order from Ashdown, I also ordered a couple from Roses Unlimited (also in SC), which arrived last weekend. These are Secret Garden Musk Climber, a rare (seriously, I searched a bunch of rose vendors before I found one who had it) & acclaimed climbing rose that someone discovered in an antique garden and propagated. It's supposed to be vigorous, disease resistant and covered with clusters of single white flowers. Perfect for filling in that high slope down by the road. We got one of them into the ground today & only have one left to plant.

Well, by this point Georg and I were both exhausted. Even though I had taken an hour nap in the afternoon! I'm kind of frustrated with myself for tiring out so easily. I guess I just have to work a little every day and build back up to my prior activity level.

I had planned to make a simple dinner, a riff on Barbara Tropp's curried lamb fried rice. Until we discovered that we're out of rice! So much for that plan. Instead we had a lovely dinner at the Barbecue Joint. On the way there we drove past several chain restaurants with dozens of people standing outside, waiting for tables. I will never understand why so many people will wait 45 minutes for a table at a mediocre, noisy chain restaurant, when they could go someplace awesome like the Barbecue Joint and get better food that costs less, with no wait.

cover girl

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April 10 movie: Cover Girl. I confess I did not like this movie. Rita Hayworth and Gene Kelly play dancers in a nightclub, in love and trying to make it big together. Hayworth gets discovered on her own, as a fashion magazine cover girl. Kelly spends the rest of the movie trying to wheedle her into giving up her big break because he can't handle her success. When she refuses, everyone in the movie treats her like a pariah until she remembers her place: obedient to, and no more successful than, her man.

Ugh. At least the dancing was good. And Eve Arden was in it.

louis jordan: films and soundies

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April 9 movie: Louis Jordan: Films and Soundies. This was a fun collection of performances by Louis Jordan. They seemed to be collected from three movies, none of which we had heard of. The first part of the DVD was all screwed up -- the image kept pausing for a few seconds and then jumping ahead -- and we were worried that the whole thing would be like that. Thankfully, it cleared up early on in "Beware" (my favorite Louis Jordan song!) and was fine after that.

The big surprise of this disc was a follow-up to "Beware"! "Beware" is a cautionary tale to men, warning them not to let women get the upper hand in a relationship. "If she calls you on the phone, and asks 'darling, are you all alone?' Tell her no! You got three girls with you!"

The follow-up song, which I had never heard of before, was called "Look Out!" It had the exact same melody as "Beware," but the lyrics were addressed to women instead of men. Instead of repeating "Beware, brother, beware," he sings "Look out, sister, look out!" I'd love to find a copy of this song on CD.

Another great song on the DVD was called "Reet, Petite, and Gone." It was a complimentary description of a woman. Georg said that "reet" meant hep or cool, though I don't know what he meant by "gone."

easter parade

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April 8 movie: Easter Parade. This is a lesser movie for both Judy Garland and Fred Astaire, but I still love it. My only complaint is, when did TCM stop showing Biblical epics on Easter? They used to do that every year! It was the best thing! Just like the war movies on Memorial Day, I looked forward to it all year. I would curl up on the couch with a blanket and snacks and spend all day watching Victor Mature wrestle lions, Gregory Peck get seduced by Bathsheba, Claudette Colbert persecute early Christians, Lana Turner lead crazy sexy pagan rituals, and most importantly, Stewart Granger wear the biggest pompadour in Sodom or Gomorrah. It just isn't Easter without getting to see Stewart Granger's hair.

(And before you say anything, I know those are mostly Old Testament movies. That's what they used to show. Now they usually show The Greatest Story Ever Told or King of Kings which are both terrible movies.)

the gazebo

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April 8 movie: The Gazebo. Zany comedy starring Glenn Ford as a TV writer who kills a man and buries him under the gazebo. The murder victim is blackmailing Ford with nudie photos of Ford's wife, Broadway star Debbie Reynolds.

Put like that it sounds kind of horrible, but they made it work. It's a funny movie! The best part is Debbie Reynolds. I'm used to thinking of her as the innocent young girl of Singing In The Rain and The Tender Trap. I've heard she was a much more sexually confident person than those characters, and she gets to play that in this movie. [spoiler alert] When confronted with the nudie photos, she laughs in the blackmailer's face! She says the publicity would be good for her Broadway show. She apologizes to Glenn Ford for not telling him, but doesn't apologize for the photos. This is 1959 we're talking about here. It made me think about how rapidly social change must have been happening at that time. I can't imagine seeing a movie with this plot just five years earlier. Five years later it's almost the swinging 60s.

mid-week blues

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I've got the mid-week blues, and it isn't even the middle of the week anymore. I'm feeling a little guilty complaining about the cold snap a few days ago, seeing as how we had it comparatively easy. I heard on the radio that Henderson County lost their entire apple crop. Looks like apples will be expensive this year!

I had a headache today, which sucked, but I managed to get in a little teeny tiny bit of time in the yard just before sunset. About as non-strenuous as you can get: I stuck a bunch of tiny onion sets in the ground, and planted my tomato seedlings. Unfortunately I goofed: I meant to get one Early Girl, one Better Boy, and one Super Sweet 100. I misread the labels and got two Early Girls and one Better Boy by accident. I bought them almost a week ago, too late to take it back. Oops! No biggie, it was inexpensive and I think I have someone to give it to.

The first new seedlings up after the cold snap are the zucchini! Which surprised me. I had thought I planted them too early, and didn't think they would sprout until it got warmer. I thought the carrots and beets would come up first, but no sign of them yet. This weekend I guess I'll go ahead and plant the melon seeds. And the potatoes! I ordered fingerling potatoes from Johnny's and they just arrived today. We're trying a few new vegetable crops this year. I hope they do well!

the six wives of henry viii

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April 7 movie: The Six Wives of Henry VIII. Parts 3 and 4, Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves, were just as good as the first two. Beforehand I thought it didn't make sense to give a full ninety minutes to Anne of Cleves, to whom Henry was only married for two months. Actually it was really good, because they were able to go into the kind of depth I had missed in the Anne Boleyn segment.

The actor playing Henry, Keith Michell, is incredible. He transforms himself from a brash, fit young man to an obese old tyrant, and somehow manages to remain sympathetic. You know, I liked the first two episodes of The Tudors when I saw them. But that show is nothing compared to this.

dogtown and z-boys

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April 6 movie: Dogtown and Z-Boys. Having already seen this movie several times, Georg wondered why I had gotten it from Netflix. I kind of wondered myself. Well, it's been a couple of years. We don't get IFC anymore, which is where I saw it before. And I heard a story about Iggy Pop on NPR, and they played a bit of "I Wanna Be Your Dog," and it reminded me of this movie and made me want to see it again.

The music is excellent throughout. Actually, the amazing thing is that it isn't. A lot of the soundtrack selections are things that I would flee the room if they came on the radio. Somehow in the context of the movie, Peralta makes even the bad songs work. (With a couple of exceptions; "Maggie Mae" and "Cat Scratch Fever" still make me cringe.)

While watching Georg and I talked about what it is that makes this movie work. Somehow Peralta manages to capture the excitement of creating a new subculture. I've never gone near a skateboard but he made me feel like I understood what it was about. I saw his surfing documentary, Riding Giants, and it didn't have that energy at all. In fact I found it so boring that I didn't even finish it. Why does Dogtown and Z-Boys succeed where Riding Giants failed? Partly it has to be that Peralta was telling his own story in Dogtown. Otherwise, I don't know. Maybe it's due to my age, that I find 70s skate punks (who were only slightly older than me) more interesting than 60s surfer dudes. Do people who were teenagers in the 60s like Riding Giants better than I did?

rafter romance

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April 5 movie: Rafter Romance. This was part of a "lost movies" special on TCM: six RKO movies that got caught up in some kind of rights dispute and haven't been seen anywhere since the 50s.

This one starred Ginger Rogers and Norman Foster (who I never heard of before) as two single people who are talked into time-sharing an apartment to save on rent. He works night shift and has the apartment during the day; she works days and has the apartment at night. They meet outside the apartment and fall for each other without realizing who they are, and it's a lot like The Shop Around the Corner or maybe even Pillow Talk. The best thing about the movie is sexy Ginger Rogers taking her clothes off, pre-code style:

  1. Sitting on a bed with her skirt pulled up, removing her stockings;
  2. Close-up on her feet as she steps out of her panties;
  3. Removing her jacket to reveal that her "blouse" is actually a scarf draped over her otherwise bare torso, just barely covering her breasts. Va va voom!

Most of the good comedy comes from the kindly Jewish landlord who arranges the apartment share. Less funny is the pathetic rich older woman who wants to make Foster (a struggling artist) her kept boy.

pride and prejudice

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April 4 movie: Pride and Prejudice. Disc 2 of the Elizabeth Garvie miniseries confirms my previous opinion: there's much to recommend this version but if I had to choose just one, I'd choose the 1995 Jennifer Ehle version. David Rintoul (Dr. Darcy in the earlier miniseries) isn't as expressive as Colin Firth. One might even call him wooden.

On the other hand, I did very much like Lady Catherine and Miss de Bourgh. Miss de Bourgh's performance was much more sympathetic than in the 1995 version, and I found myself feeling sorry for her. I think that's true to the text; Miss de Bourgh never does anything hurtful to anyone that I can recall. You can think of her as being trapped by circumstance and doomed by her mother to an unhappy life (although Elizabeth never feels any sympathy for her, I do). Then again, you could say that she never does anything bad because she never does anything at all. It's to the credit of the actress playing Miss de Bourgh that she could elicit my sympthy in a character with no lines.

Another nice thing about this version is that they spend more time in the sort of epilogue, the bit at the end where Darcy and Elizabeth explain everything that went before to each other. From a narrative point of view, I think the more recent script was right to cut this. But I love the characters and it's nice to spend a little more time with them at the end.

sing before breakfast

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Many thanks to Kevin Maroney for finding a Youtube clip of the Buddy Ebsen/Vilma Ebsen/Eleanor Powell dance number Sing Before Breakfast!

The clip includes all the dancing and singing, but does have a couple of cuts: first, the clip starts with the two Ebsens silhouetted through a window, dancing. In the movie we then see Eleanor Powell in the room below doing the goofiest overacted reaction shots. Imagine an actor in a silent movie emoting "What is that sound up there? Where? There! It's someone dancing! I must go dance with them!!" and you've got the idea.

The clip skips all that (no big loss to the dance number, but it cracks me up so I was sorry not to see it) and jumps to the beginning of the dancing. Which in the movie is broken into two parts, with a few minutes of dialogue in between. Powell introduces herself to the Ebsens, some exposition that moves the plot along, and a few gags. Almost all the dialogue is cut from the clip, which jumps right to the continuation of the song and dance. Again, it was probably good to cut it, but I was sad to see it go as it included some funny lines from Buddy Ebsen. My favorite is when he spills the salt and Powell asks him if he isn't going to throw some over his shoulder. He replies "Naaah, I throw it over my eggs!" Another good line is "We like to eat breakfast at noon -- saves money on lunch!"

The Youtube clip also includes some extra stuff at the beginning and end: pictures of promotional posters for the movie, and the birth and death dates for the Ebsens. I hadn't realized that Vilma Ebsen died just this year. I think I read that she and her brother Buddy were a vaudeville team and broke into movies together, but she retired soon after Broadway Melody of 1936.

overheard in durham

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I love the website Overheard in New York, which features snippets of dialogue yes, overheard in New York, and often yields bizarre gems. But those of us who don't live in the Big Apple also sometimes overhear things worthy of repetition. Call it Overheard in Durham. Or to be more accurate, Overheard in My Living Room:

"Ed Koch! Former mayor Ed Koch in Battle Chopped Liver."

garden status report

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It hasn't been quite as cold as predicted the past couple of days. 29° on Friday night and 30° on Saturday night, according to weather.com. And the cold damage has been much less severe than I had feared.

There is some bad news: first, the heliotrope I bought a week ago is a goner. I had no idea they had so little cold tolerance. We put a little straw over it, but not much, and most of it blew away during the night. There's a teeny tiny bit of green at the bottom of the plant, which may well be gone tomorrow. Oh well, I love the smell of heliotrope and it wasn't expensive, so I'll buy another if this one dies.

All the nasturtium seedlings died. I put straw on all the other seedlings, but I forgot all about these guys. There's still time to try again with another seed packet. But honestly, I have such bad luck with nasturtiums every year that I wonder if this is a sign.

Some of the straw blew off the gerber daisies and a few of them look frozen. I expect the plants will come back though. As will the beautyberry, which lost most of its foliage. The butterfly bush also looks pretty droopy, but it will bounce right back.

Also the hydrangeas took some damage. The plants will be fine but we may have fewer flowers this year. This one wasn't a surprise, so I'm a bit bummed but not crushed.

Now the good news: most of the garden looks fine. The spinach and sugar snaps took no damage, with no protection at all. As did the roses; even the flower buds (which a couple of them have, to my delight) look untouched. And all the seedlings I remembered to cover with straw survived: basil, snapdragons, bee balm and butterfly weed. Also no damage to the blueberries, or the cilantro, or the verbascum we just planted. And the fig looks great too! I'm so happy that the fig made it through the winter.

We brought a bunch of plants inside for the night, so many that the kitchen is basically unusable. Here's hoping it warms up soon so we can put everything back outside!

Today we had our first harvest from the garden! Georg picked some spinach for a wonderful lamb and chickpea stew. Actually it was called a stew, but it was in broth rather than a gravy, so kind of more like a really hearty soup. So good. It hit the spot on a cold night.

Weather.com is predicting 26° tonight, which is a little alarming. But they were way off last night ( their prediction was 5 degrees colder than the actual low) so I'm not going to worry. Besides, we've done as much as we can reasonably do to protect the plants. If they're going to live, then they're going to live.

take it slow

| 4 Comments

Today was a busy day. Well not that busy, but I guess I'm not yet up to full speed.

We started out this morning with a trip to the dump to get more soil. Which almost turned into a disaster, when the truck stalled out about a half-mile from the house, and wouldn't start again. We sat there in the middle of an intersection trying to start it for a few minutes, feeling a bit of panic (and also gratitude at the lack of traffic due to the early hour) Luckily a kind member of Durham's finest showed up. He blocked the street and helped us push the truck into a parking lot. Where it started up again, on the first try! We think it maybe just needed to warm up. Next time we drive the truck on a cold morning, we'll let the engine run for a minute or two before starting out.

Georg had to do the world show this afternoon, so I went out to the farmer's market alone. Last week we had spoken to one of our favorite vendors, Messenbrink, about a particular alstroemeria, and he had promised to bring it for us this weekend. So we pretty much owed it to him to show up and buy it.

Turns out that a cold holiday weekend is not a good time to go to the farmer's market. Hardly any plant vendors were there! At least Messenbrink was there, and so was my alstroemeria.

There's a place right across from the farmer's market that sells concrete lawn sculptures. We've driven past it for years, and never stopped in. On a whim I stopped today. It was mostly the usual: religious sculptures, fountains, etc. But the big score: they have a whole section of tiki sculptures! I got a big moai! I've been searching online for one of these for years. Who knew I was driving right past one every weekend!

The folks at the lawn sculpture place were really nice. I talked to them for awhile. I'd really like to get a rough-hewn trough, the kind of thing that looks like it was found in an excavation, after having been used for hundreds of years by Scottish sheep farmers or something. They said they wanted to carry that kind of thing and they were looking into hypertufa.* I hope they do!

(*Hypertufa is a mixture of concrete and peat moss. After a few months the peat degrades, leaving a rough, pitted surface that looks aged. I've been thinking myself about learning how to work with hypertufa, but I'd honestly rather buy it from someone else and use my time working on my garden and my art car.)

They loaded the moai into my car for me. Good thing too, as it weighs 180 pounds and I'm not allowed to lift more than 20. I'm not sure how Georg is going to move it out to the garden. In the wheelbarrow I guess. It would be much better if we had a hand truck. Maybe we should buy a hand truck. We're going to need one anyway to build that stone wall around the new blueberry bed.

On my way home from the farmer's market I stopped at the grocery store and at Big Orange to get winterizing supplies for the blueberry bushes. About which I am fairly concerned. All five bushes have flowers and fruit at various stages of growth. And all of them are at risk from cold damage tonight. What a bummer that would be, if the first year we can harvest blueberries and they all get frozen in this wretched cold snap!

Anyway. I was toodling around the store, getting stakes and plastic sheets (and also some marigolds while I was there) and I suddenly crashed. Hit the wall as they say. This is going to sound pathetic but I actually had to rest in my car for a few minutes before driving home. It didn't seem like I had done that much. Then again, there was a lot of driving. And the truck is hard to drive when it's loaded with soil. And the weight of the moai also affected my car's handling. And there was a lot of walking around the lawn ornament place and the farmer's market and the supermarket and Big Orange. Sheesh, I guess I did do a lot.

Georg did all the work of covered the blueberries and then cooked dinner. Because as I may have mentioned, he is Mayor Awesomeness of Awesometown. I've had my butt parked on the couch for the rest of the afternoon. Just finished watching parts 3 and 4 of The Six Wives of Henry VIII.

clean bill of health

| 2 Comments

I had my followup appointment today and came away with a clean bill of health. I didn't get to see the surgeon who had done the operation. Well actually, I did see her in the hall, and she said she'd be right in, but then another doctor came in instead. A guy with a 3rd year student in tow.

The student had a small book peeking out of his coat pocket with Chinese writing on it, so I asked him if he was studying Chinese. He didn't understand me at first but when I pointed out the book he said it was a medical text on micro...something. Jeez, I can't believe I forgot already. Some medical term that starts with "micro." I told him I had studied Chinese when I was in school and he said he wished he was that talented. A pretty generous thing for a medical student to say.

Anyway, that was my attempt at breaking the ice. After that the appointment went alarmingly fast. Cursory exam, a sentence or two on my status, have a nice day! He talked more to the student than to me. At least he explained that the lump I can feel under the two larger incisions is normal and will disappear in 6 to 9 months.

He gave me no opportunity to ask questions but I interrupted him to ask about heavy-duty yardwork. He said I should wait 2 weeks, but everyone else (my surgeon and all my research) said 4 weeks. I think I'll wait a month as planned for the hard stuff, though I will start attempting light to moderate yardwork this weekend.

I suppose I ought be pissed off by the "wham, bam, here's your bill ma'am" treatment. Instead it just made me feel even more grateful to have had such a great surgeon for the rest of the process. Dr. Dreesen was the complete opposite, she took the time to explain everything and really seemed to listen to me. I was so lucky to have gotten her for my surgery.

My only disappointment was that I had made up my mind to complain about the recovery room nurse. Who pressured me to get up and leave from the moment I woke up, including making me sit up unassisted way before I was ready, and initially refusing to give me painkillers that I asked for. I thought at first that they were short on bed space in the recovery room, but eventually it came out that she hadn't had lunch yet and she couldn't leave while I was still there. Nice.

I went back and forth, and decided this morning that I would indeed tell my surgeon what had happened. I hate getting someone in trouble, but when that someone refuses painkillers to sick people because she wants her lunch, I have fewer scruples. But then instead of my surgeon I saw this other doctor, who rushed through the appointment so fast, and so clearly did not want to engage with me about anything, that I let it go. Probably for the best.

whole-lotta-lahay

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Since Raynor Grace went out instead of watching ANTM, I will step into the breach and post on last night's show. It was awesome! Dionne gave herself the nick-name "Wholahay," pronounced "Who-la-hey!" Jael pestered 50 Cent until he pushed her into a swimming pool! Tyra staged an intervention where they went around the room and everyone said why they hate Reneee! And best of all, the challenges -- make a good impression at an industry party, and take head shots representing various emotions -- resembled things real models might actually have to do!

Great episode.

some days

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Some days it seems impossible to be unhappy. Like more things are great than are not great, and the things that aren't great don't even matter, you know?

I feel pretty good, better every day.

I don't have to be afraid of food.

In three weeks I can dig in the garden.

Georg gave me a CD containing a rare Wonder Stuff song that I thought I would never hear again.

All our blueberry bushes have fruit. Even the northern highbush that hates this climate. Even the sad little one that looked like it might die last year.

And, I'm getting paid to build a pirate-themed website.

Yeah.

pc question

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I need advice from a PC user: how do I install IE 7 on XP without removing the existing installation of IE 6? I don't want to upgrade the IE that's already there. I need to have both versions running on the same computer for browser checking purposes. Is that possible?

singing in the rain

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April 1 movie: Singing in the Rain. I watched this, I'm finally caught up on the movie list, and screw it, I'm going to bed.

paris when it sizzles

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April 1 movie: Paris When it Sizzles. How could William Holden and Audrey Hepburn have made such a craptacular movie? I don't understand it at all. But really, avoid this movie.

detective story

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April 1 movie: Detective Story. Kirk Douglas stars as a detective whose thirst for justice warps him into a brutal, merciless thug. This was a great ensemble movie, where multiple stories happening simultaneously create a detailed picture of life in the squad room. Thankfully the wide focus on many different subplots means that it's not all about Douglas' scenery chewing. Which I'm really not crazy about.

the desperate hours

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April 1 movie: The Desperate Hours. Humphrey Bogart leads a gang of three crooks who hold a suburban family (led by dad Fredric March) hostage. This was an excellent, very tense drama. The premise is very similar to The Petrified Forest but I found the earlier movie too talky. That's not at all true of The Desperate Hours, no mean feat for a movie which mostly comprises people standing in a room talking.

birdman of alcatraz

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Marc 31 movie: Birdman of Alcatraz. Burt Lancaster stars as Robert Stroud, a real-life prison inmate who raised birds in his cell at Leavenworth, wrote books about birds, and discovered a cure for a bird disease. The movie was based on a popular book of the same title, and was part of a national campign to get Stroud paroled. A campaign which failed: Stroud was transferred out of maximum security but not released. He died in a prison hospital, having spent almost 55 years incarcerated.

I read that the book and movie, though perhaps not factually inaccurate, did show Stroud in a generous light. Lancaster portrays a gentle, philosophical man, not the remorseless killer Stroud allegedly was. He was first imprisoned for murdering his girlfriend (wife maybe?) and then killed a prison guard. Excellent movie though.

the protector

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March 31 movie: The Protector. This was Tony Jaa's second movie released in the US. Unfortunately, it's almost exactly like his first US release, Ong Bak. Except that instead of rescuing the revered village Buddha head, he has to rescue the revered village elephant. Which caused me a great deal of anxiety, it being a particularly violent movie. I read that The Protector includes the longest unbroken take in a fight scene ever (over four minutes).

woman chases man

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March 30 movie: Woman Chases Man. With Miriam Hopkins, Joel McCrea, Charles Winninger and Eric Rhodes, this screwball comedy should have been much funnier than it was. It seemed to run out of steam near the end, and doesn't even really have an end so much as a stop.

bird of paradise

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March 30 movie: Bird of Paradise. I can't recommend this unless you're a huge fan of either Dolores del Rio or Joel McCrea. I am a huge fan of McCrea, which is why I watched it. McCrea shipwrecks himself on a Polynesian island so he can be with princess Dolores del Rio. They run away together and live a happy Gilligan's Island life together for .. the movie isn't very clear on how long. Long enough for McCrea to build them a hut and find them a goat, but not long enough for him to need a shave. Eventually McCrea's buddies come back and rescue them in the nick of time from the evil villagers. McCrea wants to take del Rio back to San Francisco but she sacrifices herself so that McCrea can escape.

The best thing about this movie is the McCrea spends the entire Gilligan's Island segment wearing only a loin cloth. Unfortunately the print is so bad as to prevent enjoyment of the scenery, either Polynesian or McCrean. He has a couple of scenes swimming in the loin cloth that I bet were outstanding, if I could have seen anything.

The moral of this pre-code movie seems to be that it's okay to shack up with a native beauty (in a literal shack no less), but she should be considerate enough to throw herself into a volcano and save him the embarrassment of introducing her to mother.

penthouse

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March 30 movie: Penthouse. Detective story starring Warner Baxter as a lawyer with underworld connections who solves a murder mystery with the help of Myrna Loy. Based on that description this sounds like a gritty crime drama, but it was actually a light & fluffy comedic, um, crime drama. Pre-Hayes code they were fairly explicit about some plot elements. For instance the ladies' jobs (Loy and her best friend are sort of bar hostesses/prostitutes), Loy's disappointment when Baxter behaves like a gentleman, and her willingness to shack up with him. I enjoyed this, although I found the male lead didn't have much presence. I had difficulty telling him apart from one of the other characters. Loy, on the other hand, was wonderful as ever. This movie was made the year before The Thin Man made her a huge star.

broadway melody of 1936

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March 29 movie: Broadway Melody of 1936. I raved before about Buddy Ebsen and I will definitely watch this movie every time it's on, just to see Ebsen and his sister perform "Sing Before Breakfast." They have another dance number later in the movie, but it isn't nearly as good alas. I'm dying to see Born to Dance and Broadway Melody of 1938. Too bad Netflix has such a crappy selection of classic movies. Damn you Netflix!

pride and prejudice

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March 29 movie: Pride and Prejudice. This is the 1970's BBC miniseries starring Elizabeth Garvie. I watched the first half. It has much to recommend it, for instance I think this is the best portrayal of Mrs. Bennet. She's a bit less of a caricature here, a bit less unsympathetic. You get the sense that she really is trying to do right by her daughters, and it's just a shame that she's too frivolous and foolish to actually help them. And the portrayal of Charlotte is interesting. From a modern perspective, Charlotte's choice to marry Mr. Collins is horrifying. But even though Elizabeth criticizes Charlotte in the text, I think that at the time Charlotte's point of view was considered more realistic and more sensible. That comes across in this miniseries, and does not in any other dramatization I've seen.

By a nose I still prefer the 1995 Jennifer Ehle version. Mostly because of Ehle's performance. So much of this story is about Elizabeth's internal conflict, and Ehle's very expressive face and body language communicated volumes. Not intended as a criticism of Garvie. The directing choice in the older miniseries was for voiced-over thoughts, which I don't particularly like unless it's done sparingly and very well. (Think Dune for an example of how bad this can be.)

Oh, and there's one more reason I will always prefer the 1995 version: the look.

constantine

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March 29 movie: Constantine. This was exactly what I expected: an entertaining way to kill a couple of hours. Snickering at the questionable theology was at least as much of the entertainment value as the plot. I didn't know it was based on a comic book but I guessed so pretty early on. Hard to put my finger on why, there's just something comic-book-ish about the hero. The tortured superhero I guess.

st. louis blues

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March 28 movie: St. Louis Blues. I'm not sure how accurate this W.C. Handy biopic is, but the cast is amazing: Nat King Cole, Eartha Kitt, Ruby Dee, Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, Malahia Jackson and Pearl Bailey. Eartha Kitt in particular dominated every scene she was in. She should have been as big as star as Lana Turner.

March 28 movie: Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. I think this movie suffers from heightened expectations. In other words, no movie could have lived up to the hype surrounding Borat. Luckily I had read a lukewarm review a couple of weeks ago, which diminished my expectations enough that I was able to enjoy it wholeheartedly. I'm probably the last person in America to see this movie (excepting people like Georg who have no intention of seeing it) so there's no need for me to describe the plot. I'll just say that I was surprised, and somewhat relieved, to realize how much of the movie was staged. If I hadn't seen press about angry unwitting participants (like the people at the rodeo and the feminists in New York) I would have thought it was all staged. I certainly hope Pamela Anderson was in on the gag.

One interesting thing about the press surrounding this movie is how differently certain scenes were interpreted by different reviewers. For instance, the New York Times called the scene in the gun shop the most chilling moment in the entire movie. Salon.com's review singles out that very same scene as a heartening example of someone who doesn't rise to the anti-semitic bait. I remember thinking that the gun shop owner must deal with a lot of wackos, if he could take Borat in stride without even blinking.

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