January 2008 Archives

klaatu barada nikto

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Just read a rumor at the AV Club that Keanu Reeves is going to play Klaatu in a remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. Not the worst choice they could possibly make, but not a particularly good choice either. Klaatu is supposed to be, oh, what's the word. Intelligent? Cerebral even. I don't think I've ever seen Keanu play cerebral. (Wooden doesn't count.)

Georg and I tried to think of a good actor to play Klaatu and didn't have much luck. Mainly because it's late and the brains, they hurt. David Strathairn was the only name we came up with. Johnny Depp could do it, if he hadn't played so many over-the-top weirdos. As it is I'd spend the whole movie waiting for him to bust out the funny walk and gestures.

I'm not sure if I'd see a Day the Earth Stood Still remake. I'm not offended by the idea of it or anything. It's just that a new version of that movie wouldn't really improve my life in any way that I wouldn't get from just watching the original again. Same reason I haven't yet seen the remake of Solaris. Although I might break down and rent that one eventually.

marathon afternoon

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Today was just one of those days. This morning I had to prepare for today's Jerome Kern tribute show. I had a rough idea of how much time it was going to take, and felt like I had just enough time -- and then remembered in mid-morning that the schedule changed today and I had to be there an hour early. Ack!

I did get everything done in time, barely, got to the station on time, got started -- and then discovered that I had screwed up the CDR I had just burned, with about 10 songs I had bought on iTunes and needed for the show. Ack!

Georg saved the day: he fixed what I had done wrong, reburned the CDR and brought it to me. I was able to rearrange the first couple of sets to work around the songs I didn't have. I don't think the chaos behind the scenes was apparent on the air, at least I hope not! And after that the show went well. Still, all that stress at the beginning got my nerves all wired up.

After that I had a meeting at 6 at the station, so I was stuck hanging around for a couple of hours. Santa Salsera was there too and we ended up going over to Ninth Street for about an hour. Where we witnessed a pair of well-meaning customers totally hassling the lady who runs International Delights. She handled it pretty well actually. When they asked her where she was from, she said "Why?" They persisted and she told them her family was Lebanese. Then they said "you've been here a long time" and she replied "Because I speak such good English?" Santa Salsera and I were like, you go girl!

The meeting went pretty well and I got home a little after 7 to a dinner of chicken saag Georg had made. Which was wonderful because I am sooo tired. When I stopped moving and sat down, it just hit me all of a sudden. I had been planning to do some work on my website tonight but I think I'm just going to stretch out on the couch and watch a movie (Young at Heart with Frank Sinatra and Doris Day) until I pass out.

great day

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Today was a lavishly great day. I figured out how to print op logs for the station, we had a fabulous meal with Santa Salsera at Taqueria Lopez, we saw King Britt and Sylk 130 perform at Duke, then had another fabulous meal with D. and S. from the late night menu at Watts Grocery. Who were mobbed because they just got a rave review in the N&O.

I decided the the King Britt show, billed as the "History of Philadelphia Soul," was my early birthday present. It was even a surprise because I had completely forgotten about the tickets. Georg got them early so we had great seats. Actually there are no bad seats in Reynolds. But ours were particularly good.

The show was superlative, in fact I'm having a hard time describing it. So I will just mention that among the four vocalists was the singer who did my favorite 4Hero track, and she sang that song tonight. And it was revelatory. So energetic that it was almost a different song. And it was already one of my favorites!

Also, on the way out I heard a hilarious conversation between two younger guys (probably students I would guess):

"What did you think?"
"I was floored. You?"
"Eh, I'd give it a six and a half."
"Yeah, Philly just isn't my city for soul."
"What is?"

I'm with the first guy, I thought it was outstanding. There's room in the world (and on my iPod) for Philly soul and Memphis soul.

evelyn prentice

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January 24 movie: Evelyn Prentice. Ye gods, no more 1934 legal dramas starring William Powell and Myra Loy! I can't take another. This movie was actually pretty good until the courtroom scenes at the end. Then it becomes one of those silly parodies of a courtroom: "Your honor, instead of a closing argument I'd like to strip to my underwear and question Sniffles The Cat." "Hmm. Unorthodox, but I'll allow it."

Also, this was Rosalind Russell's first movie and I didn't even recognize her.

from here to eternity

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January 23 movie: From Here to Eternity. What a great movie. I can't believe I never saw it before! All the principal actors are outstanding: Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed, and especially Frank Sinatra. Even small parts like Ernest Borgnine and Mickey Shaughnessy are ably played.

manhattan melodrama

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January 21 movie: Manhattan Melodrama. I hated this movie! But I can't say why without major spoilers. Let me just say that I try not to view old movies through a modern filter, but I found this 1934 perspective on the justice system and death penalty repulsive. Oh well, it was nice to see Clark Gable, William Powell and Myrna Loy, even in a hateful movie.

January 21 movie: Sing Brother Sing: The Mills Brothers & the Delta Rhythm Boys. A collection of soundies, half the Delta Rhythm Boys and half the Mills Brothers. I had heard of the Delta Rhythm Boys but I don't think I had heard anything by them before.

The DVD included a performance from the Nat King Cole television show, which was also on that Net King Cole DVD we just watched. But the highlight of the disc was the Mills Brothers singing "Caravan." Wow.


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I posted the first two seasons of Women of Ninja Warrior (Kunoichi) on my Ninja Warrior site. Because I am a total dork.


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January 20 movie: Fiesta. I had forgotten how much I love this movie. The best part is when Ricardo Montalban dances with Cyd Charisse. They were incredible together. There's also a very moving scene where Montalban plays the piano. And while I'm no expert on piano playing, he certainly appears to be actually playing the piece. There are plenty of shots where you can see his head and his hands, and the fingering appears to be exactly right (unlike the typical movie where the actor randomly bangs away at the keys and then they cut to a close-up of an actual pianist's hands). It's a difficult piece, too! I wonder if Montalban played the piano, or was he just really good at faking it.

I almost forgot, the best part isn't really the dancing. Well it is, but the other best part is the bullfighting. Fiesta takes place in a magical world where no bulls are harmed during a bullfight, and the goal is for the matador to get close enough to tap the bull on the forehead. At which point the matador turns his back on the bull and slowly walk away, and the bull is too busy groveling in shame to, you know, gore the matador. It's brilliant.

the bourne ultimatum

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January 19 movie: The Bourne Ultimatum. What fun! It's rare that I enjoy part 3 of a series just as much as part 1. I don't have much else to say. If you were interested in this, you've already seen it.

the ex mrs. bradford

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January 17 movie: The Ex Mrs. Bradford. I really enjoyed this screwball comedy with William Powell and Jean Arthur as a divorced couple who get mixed up in a murder mystery.

after office hours

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January 17 movie: After Office Hours. Fun romance/mystery starring Clark Gable and Constance Bennett. At some point I realized I had already seen the movie, but I didn't mind.

till the clouds roll by

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January 16 movie: Till the Clouds Roll By. Biopic on Jerome Kern. It was research for a special Jerome Kern tribute I'm doing this Sunday. What I learned from this movie was that Jerome Kern had an uneventful life. The entire plot focused on Kern's fictitious best friend (an arranger played by Van Heflin) and the friend's fictitious daughter. The movie contained almost no drama related to Kern's actual life. It was really kind of strange.

Robert Walker, an actor I love, played Kern. For once he had a normal adult voice, not the squeaky adolescent voice he used in so many movies. I wonder if the voice in this movie was Walker's real voice? Walker played so many awkward kids that it was a treat to see him play a mature man, even without that much to do.

don't forget the salt

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This morning I learned that home-baked biscuits taste really weird without salt. I guess probably all baked goods taste weird without salt, but I just happened to accidently try biscuits that way. It's a sign of how good my biscuit recipe is that they were still basically okay. With the salt, this recipe makes the best biscuits in the world.


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This morning we have about an inch of snow on the ground, nothing on the road. The few cars I see on Cole Mill seem to be driving at the normal speed. Whether that means the road is ice-free or the drivers are fools is open to speculation.

Yesterday we bought straw to cover the garden. We have more tender plants to protect than I had remembered: the fig, the gardenia, the gerber daisies, the bay leaf, the hydrangeas, the crinum lilies, the amaryllis, the dahlia, the artichoke (which looked like it had already been killed by previous cold nights, oops), the fuschia and the snapdragons. We used up the whole bale of straw and didn't quite have enough for the snapdragons. Well they're supposed to be annuals anyway. I never expected them to survive the winter before, so the years we've gotten out of them have been like a bonus. They'll be easy to replace if they don't make it tonight.

We also got some firewood and I bought some yarn to make a hat. Last night we had a nice dinner of lamb with cashew curry sauce, lit a fire and watched The Bourne Ultimatum. I had hoped to finish my hat in one night, which I didn't manage, but I did make good progress.

The sun is out today and even though it's supposed to stay below freezing all day, I have no concern about driving to my show this afternoon. I'll leave early so I can drive slowly, and I'm sure it will be fine. Tomorrow morning may be another story, though. Anything that melts today will freeze into ice tonight.

dr. bloody bronowski centennial


Yesterday was Jacob Bronowski's 100th birthday. I fondly remember watching his BBC series on science, The Ascent of Man. And good news! Netflix has it! When I checked a couple of years ago the DVDs were hard to get in the US.

Steven Hart Site has a nice essay on Bronowski. and the comments at PZ Myer's post tell how to download The Ascent of Man in avi format.

the weather outside is frightful

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Or maybe not. It was supposed to be raining by now -- in fact, weather.com thinks it is raining -- but it's completely dry here. As for snow, I'll believe it when I see it. I didn't realize how long it had been since we'd had snow. Yesterday my boss told me he bought a sled for his daughter 3 years ago, and still hasn't used it.

While I'm dubious about the snow, I'm a bit alarmed by the temperature predictions for the next couple of days. I'm going to go out in a bit and get straw to cover the plants. We've got lots of plants that are supposed to be iffy in this region and will need protection. Like gerber daisies, artichokes, a fuschia and a bay leaf. Actually I planted the gerber daisies as annuals and was surprised when they came back. That was several years ago and they've done really well, even didn't seem to mind the drought. So now I really don't want to lose them.

the incomparable nat king cole

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January 15 movie: The Incomparable Nat King Cole. A collection of performances from Nat King Cole's TV show, I think it said they were all recorded in 1957. Netflix has a lot of DVDs like this and if you don't mind the blurry picture it's a nice way to see performances by great stars.

The best thing for me were the duets, which I guess had been guests on the show: Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Mercer, the Mills Brothers and best of all Sammy Davis Jr., who did his impersonation of Cole while Cole played piano. Then Cole joined in and started impersonating himself, exaggerated gestures and all! It was really funny.

Many of the arrangements were that horrible schmaltzy style that was so popular in the late 50s. You know, all strings and sappy choruses. (You might guess that I'm not fond of that style.) Fortunately it wasn't all like that. Cole had Nelson Riddle backing him on many of the numbers, and the Oscar Peterson Trio on a few. And there's one spectacular number, the highlight of the DVD, where Cole sings "Stomping at the Savoy" backed by the Oscar Peterson Trio, Roy Eldridge, Coleman Hawkins and Stan Getz. That's a lot of star power on one stage.

special agent

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January 14 movie: Special Agent. Fair to middling gangster movie starring George Brent as a government agent posing as a newspaper reporter, Bette Davis as a bookkeeper working for a mobster, and Ricardo Cortez as the mobster.

cocktail music


A friend of mine is getting married in a couple of months. She asked me to help her with music selections for the reception. She acted like it was a big imposition, but not at all -- to be honest, when she start talking I thought she was going to ask me to DJ the reception, and when I realized she just wanted music suggestions I was so relieved that it seems like nothing at all.

She asked me for three kinds of music: "cocktail hour," "dinner hour" and "dancing." I have a pretty good handle on dinner music and dance music, but what the heck is cocktail music? How does it differ from the other two kinds? Somebody help me out, please! I want to do a good job with this.


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January 13 movie: Persuasion. A new adaptation they showed on PBS' Masterpiece Theater. Except now it's called "Masterpiece Classics." Or maybe just "Masterpiece," it was hard to tell. It was introduced by Gillian Anderson, and what the hell happened to her face? Her mouth moved and the rest of her face looked like it was molded out of plastic. Was she just trying to look serious, or was it Botox run amok?

Anyway. This version doesn't replace the Amanda Root/Ciaran Hinds version as my favorite, but it was well worth watching on its own merit. The acting was good, I especially liked Anthony Head as Sir Elliott, and the guy playing William Elliott was excellent. A little too good maybe, as Captain Wentworth tended to fade into the background when he was around. Nice sets as well, they made good use of the locations of Lyme and Bath.

I only have a few criticisms: first, I thought Anne was too emotionally demonstrative. It's tough to show the the character's emotional development because it's all so internal, but Amanda Root managed it. Sally Hawkins could have too. Also showing her writing snippets of the original book in her diary, that's kind of the easy way out.

Second, that scene near the end where Anne runs back and forth and back and forth, over and over? I guess they were trying to show her sense of urgency, but it went on way too long and ended up being unintentional comedy. I mean knee slapping. I laughed out loud, so loud the dog came out to see what I was on about. One lap fewer around Bath would have gotten the point across without being quite so ridiculous.

Last, I didn't much like the epilogue they tacked on where Wentworth buys Kellynch Hall for Anne as a wedding present. I don't mind added material that's true to the original source, but this bit rang false to me. I can't imagine Anne could enjoy living at Kellynch when it had been bought out from under her father and sister, knowing what a slap in the face that would be to them. That's the kind of thing they would do to her. And it's been firmly established that she's not like them.


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January 10 movie: Paprika. Yes, I watched it a second time so I could see it with Georg. It was that good. I'd love to read the book on which it was based, but cursory research indicates that it hasn't been translated into English. The Duke library does have a book of translated short stories by the same author. I heard that if I get my alumni card renewed I can check books out of the library. I ought to do that.

joan of paris

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January 10 movie: Joan of Paris. A decent WWII thriller, tense and exciting, starring Paul Henreid as a Free French pilot trapped in Paris, and Michele Morgan as the Frenchwoman who helps him escape. I read that it was his first movie in the US, though he had made a few movies in Britain. Henreid is much more convincing as a Frenchman than he is as an Arab. It must have been Paul Henreid day, they showed several of his movies. I didn't watch The Conspirators because I've already seen it, and now I wish I had.

that was easy

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Sean was right, getting a job as a poll worker is easy peasy. I did a phone interview just now and I'm scheduled to be trained on April 17 and work at the May 6 primary.

The woman who interviewed me told me the qualifications for the job are to be a registered voter in Durham County, to be able to read and write, and to be "of good repute." I asked her what that meant and she said she didn't really know. I laughed and said I don't have a criminal record or anything like that, and she said "You pass."

The board of elections website doesn't seem to be strictly correct: the website says that the judges are all appointed in August of odd-numbered years, but the woman on the phone told me they're still sorting out the judges now. Though she said I would probably be an "assistant" since I've never done it before. That's fine with me! I'd rather learn how things work and let someone with experience take the more responsible positions the first time out. Besides, judges are legally required to be there from 6 am to 8:30 pm, while assistants can choose to work a half-day. I told her I was willing to work the full day, but if they turned out to be overstaffed they could cut me back to half. It doesn't sound like overstaffing is likely so I'm expecting the full day.

She told me that we aren't allowed to leave the precinct during our shift, but they make sure we have a bathroom and kitchen available. (I seem to remember Sean telling me about that years ago.) She also advised me to bring a book for the slow times. I imagine there will be a lot of downtime on May 6; turnout is usually pretty low in NC primaries. I'm glad I called in time to work the primary, so I'll have a chance to learn the ropes before the general election. Which I'm sure will be much more intense.

She also told me that it's acceptable for a poll worker to also be a partisan activist before the election, in fact they encourage it. But on election day all poll workers are required to be non-partisan: no wearing buttons, no advocating for candidates or parties, etc. In other words the "no campaigning within 50 feet" rule applies to poll workers too. It seems like that ought to be self-evident but I guess it's good that they remind people.

She looked up my voter record while we were talking (that was kind of a surprise actually) and told me she'd try to get me placed in my home precinct. But she couldn't guarantee it because sometimes the chief judge already has a team in place. I told her I'd be fine with going to whatever precinct they needed. It's all within Durham County after all.

So, that was easy! She said they really need people because they're expecting record turnout this year. If your job would allow you to take the day off on May 6 and/or November 4, and you like the idea of helping democracy, consider giving the Board of Elections a call. They have evening hours for the training sessions so you only have to miss work for the actual election. It even pays a nominal amount.

now what do i do


The past few years I've gotten more interested in / involved with politics, and have volunteered in the past two major elections (2004 and 2006). Nothing impressive or exciting, just the grunt work of knocking on doors, phone bank, sorting flyers, glamorous tasks like that. I've enjoyed it and plan to volunteer again this year.

The one thing I didn't find worthwhile was going door to door on election day itself. Not to put too fine a point on it, both times it has felt like a total, 100% wasted effort. I'd be happy to pound the pavement for twelve hours if it accomplished something -- even the tiniest impact would be worth it. But I'm not interested in spending all day wasting my time and annoying people. As heinous as cold calling can be, I still felt much better about the time I spent doing phone bank in the week before the election. (I guess I don't mind annoying people if it accomplishes at least something!)

So, no more knocking on doors on election day for me. Instead I had planned on volunteering for Election Protection. I talked to their poll monitors at a couple of precincts in 2004, and it seemed like meaningful work. Also a good friend of mine volunteered for their legal hotline in 2004 and spoke highly of the experience. However, I just went to their website to volunteer today. And if I read their site correctly, this year they're only sending poll monitors to a few "high risk" counties in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania. As a non-lawyer I (obviously) can't volunteer for the legal hotline. So Election Protection is out, I guess. Too bad; it would have been great to do something to help democracy on election day.

I had also thought about applying to be a poll worker, but in Durham County all poll workers have to be recommended by one of the two major parties. I'm an independent and I doubt either party would recommend me. Besides, the poll workers were appointed last August so I missed the deadline anyway.

I'm kind of at a loss here. Anyone have any suggestions for election day volunteering?

tivo alert: tokyo drifter

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s39.jpgTCM will be showing Tokyo Drifter on Monday morning (Sunday night) at 2 am. This is a classic, crazy cool Japanese gangster movie from the mid-60s. I highly recommend it if you like things that are good.


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January 10 movie: Paprika. Wow. Wow. What a movie. Animated film by the director of Millenium Actress and Tokyo Godfathers. It's fun and funny, and strange and creepy, and sad and beautiful, and even a little romantic. I can't recommend it highly enough.

In one of the DVD features they said it was rather loosely based on an experimental novel about the barrier breaking down between the real world and the world of dreams. The movie does an extremely good job of capturing the nonlinear, surreal quality of dreams. The author of the novel said that he didn't consciously invent any of the dream imagery; all of it was taken from his own actual dreams. Georg described that as "method writing" but I think it was a wise choice. It's difficult to make up a dream without it seeming silly and contrived (like the dwarf in Living in Oblivion). They said the movie isn't exactly the same as the book, but still I wouldn't be surprised if they had retained a lot of the dream imagery. There's an authentic strangeness to the dream world.

the siren of baghdad

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January 9 movie: The Siren of Baghdad. This was an extremely silly movie starring Paul Henreid as an Arabian magician who has to rescue a princess from the evil sultan and eviller grand vizier. It reminded me a lot of the Cornel Wilde Thousand and One Nights. They both had the silly humor and in-jokes (for instance in this one, Henreid likes two pipes on a hookah, Now Voyager style). Austrian Paul Henreid is ridiculous as a Middle Easterner, but no more ridiculous than Phil Silvers.

the great american songbook

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January 5 movie: The Great American Songbook. I think this was originally a PBS special, it was narrated by performer Michael Feinstein. Lots of great old clips, although there was way too much of Feinstein singing the old songs instead. I'm not crazy about Feinstein's "cabaret singer" style. Still, he clearly loves the music he was talking about.

the return of fake news

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I was never a fanatical viewer of the Daily Show and Colbert Report, but I did watch them on and off, and I made a point of tuning in on Monday and last night. Both shows were enjoyable, worth watching, though I felt like it showed that they didn't have their writers. I think Colbert was consistently funnier overall (Georg said Colbert has an improv background which probably helps in this situation). But Stewart wins the prize for the segment with John Oliver accusing himself of crossing the picket line and begging not to be deported. That was the one thing that had us laughing out loud.

I wonder how the shows work now. Obviously they're preparing in advance, but they're not allowed to write anything down, right? Are they just talking the material out beforehand and then trying to remember? Can they take any notes at all? Are non-WGA members allowed to write, or is that considered scabbing?

good ideas, bad ideas

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Taking Jane for a brisk walk on a nature trail in the park today? That was a really good idea. Reading the signs wrong and walking five times farther than intended? Not such a good idea. We're both so out of shape that I intended to start with short walks. Oops! At least it was all in the shade, and the last half was along the water so Jane could stop for a drink periodically. And thank goodness I figured out about a third of the way that we were on the wrong path and slowed down from "brisk" to "stroll."



This weekend we did some sad but necessary housekeeping: going through and cleaning up Thirteen's stuff. I was surprised by the physical evidence of just how much our lives had become about accommodating Thirteen. There was:

  • The shelf full of medications, complete with one of those day-of-the-week trays. I have a friend I can give the Rimadyl to, we're going to save the tray and hope we don't need it again for a long time, and I don't know what we're going to do with the other meds and the pill pockets. For now we put them all in a bag and scrubbed the shelf, which had gotten sticky from a leaky tube of Nutrical.
  • The shelf in the bathroom with all the prescription bathing products. We kept the shampoo for Jane but got rid of the lotion and spray conditioner. The bottles were gross and Jane has healthy, oily skin, she doesn't need that stuff.
  • The beds in every room -- cooling water beds for summer, orthopedic beds for winter. We picked the one that was salvageable (grossout alert: Thirteen hadn't gotten sick on it nearly as much as the others), laundered the cover and gave it to Jane. The rest are outside waiting to go to the dump.
  • The floor mats throughout the house. Thirteen needed them because the hardwood was too slippery for her arthritic legs. We rolled them up and put them in the shed. Who knows, maybe we'll find another use for them someday.
  • The ramp to the front door. It was just a plywood sheet covered with outdoor carpet. Georg dragged it around to the side, and this weekend it too will go to the dump.
  • Last but not least, we got a new mop and disinfected the kitchen floor. Accidents (of all kinds) were almost a daily occurence. We used to clean them up with clorox, but it still never seemed really clean.

I don't want to sound like I'm complaining; I don't regret a minute of it. She was our girl and I was happy to take care of her. It was just an eye-opener. It had happened so gradually that we never noticed how much our lives had changed.

top hat

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January 1 movie: Top Hat. An auspicious beginning to 2008's movies. Georg said he thought Top Hat was the best Astaire-Rogers movie because of the cast. He has a point: with Edward Everett Horton, Helen Broderick, Eric Blore and Eric Rhodes, it's the best all-over supporting cast in any of their movies. The bickering between Horton and Blore provides some of the best comedy in the movie, I think. "On my eye means on my eye!"

that's entertainment

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January 1 movie: That's Entertainment. I was zonked out after my night at the emergency vet and I barely remember this. I do remember that Show Boat was the only movie they talked about at any length that I hadn't seen already. Although of course there were a lot of short clips I hadn't seen, including a funny sequence of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney introducing themselves over and over, from all those "Hey kids, let's put on a show!" movies. I also remember a lot of bad wigs; Debbie Reynolds and Gene Kelly stood out particularly. Fred Astaire had on a terrible wide tie. I read that he was quite the fashion plate, even late in life. I guess being up on the latest trends in the mid-70s wasn't such a good idea in the long run.

swing time

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January 2 movie: Swing Time. Georg and I debated whether this or Top Hat is Astaire and Rogers' best. I think At the time I argued for Swing Time, although maybe Georg is right and it's Top Hat. Swing Time has the advantage of a less ridiculous plot (Top Hat's entire plot hinges on the characters never saying each other's names). Plus Swing Time has "The Way You Look Tonight," my favorite of their songs, and the superlative "Never Gonna Dance" dance number.


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January 2 movie: Carefree. Going back to catch up on a few movies I didn't write up at the time because, well. Carefree is a lesser Astaire/Rogers movie with a weak supporting cast. It has some great moments though, like Astaire's dance number on the golf course, and the hilarious "shot down like dogs" scene later in the movie.

spirited away

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January 4 movie: Spirited Away. This was just what I needed: a delightful, beautiful, magical movie.

emotions are strange

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I expected to be a basketcase about now, but I'm really okay. To my surprise, my main emotion about Thirteen's death is relief. It was so hard for her at the end, and hard for us to take care of her. Of course I'm sad. I just ... I think I got all the emotional trauma out over the past few days. I'm sorry she's gone, but I'm not sorry it's over.

r.i.p. thirteen


Thirteen died at 5:30 this evening. She was miserable, and there didn't seem to be anything the vet could do to make her feel better. If anything, she continued to get worse during the day.

She'd been having a harder and harder time of it for the past few months, and we've known this was coming soon. I had been watching for signs that she was no longer happy to be alive: a disengagement or depression, not caring about being near us and not wanting to be touched. She reached that point, rather suddenly, last night. I don't know what happened to her yesterday but it seemed like something in her just shut off. This afternoon at St. Francis, she hardly responded to us at all. Just before the end she did lie back and let me scratch her stomach one last time though.

We're both upset of course, and I cried a lot at the vet's office. But I think we're not as distraught as when Lina died. That was so unexpected, the shock was like a physical blow. This is terribly sad, I feel like I've just lost one of my oldest friends. (Probably because I have; at 16 1/2 years Thirteen had been in my life longer than all but a very few friends.) Still, I've been thinking about her death and trying to mentally prepare for months, and I think that does take the raw edge off.

I do regret that she spent her last day at the vet's office instead of at home. But I had to be out all day and I really couldn't have left her alone. And besides, they were all so nice to her there. I'm grateful to the wonderful doctors and staff at both St. Francis and Cole Park for all the kindness they've shown Thirteen and Jane both.

Aside from that I have no regrets, I know we did everything we could for her. It's been hard for her recently but I do think she was happy to be with us up until the last day. I've been thinking about all the times I put down my dinner and got on the floor with her (she had a talent for deciding she wanted attention just as we sat down to eat) to scratch her stomach. It was her favorite thing, ever since she was a puppy. I used to grumble about cold food at the time, but I almost always did it. Because I knew there'd be a day like today coming soon, when I'd be grateful for those moments with her. And I am.

not a good day


I think you all might be getting sick of reading about my dog, so I'm putting this behind a cut, and will try to keep it brief also.

man with a movie camera

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man-with-a-movie-camera.jpgJanuary 3 movie: Man With a Movie Camera. I can't believe it's been two years since I watched this. I'm feeling low (it's been a bad day for Thirteen, a really bad day) and this movie was just what I needed. Really nice to stop worrying and focus on something beautiful for an hour.

I found out about this movie when we got the soundtrack at the radio station a few years ago. I love the album so much that sometimes I put it on repeat and listen to it over and over while I'm working. The liner notes said the Cinematic Orchestra had toured with the movie, and I'm so crushed that I didn't find out in time. I would have traveled anywhere on the East Coast to see it.

I had a DVD of the movie with the other soundtrack (by Alloy Orchestra) which isn't that good, and I used to watch it on mute and try to sync up the soundtrack album. Which never, ever worked, because as I found out later the movie starts with 3 minutes of silence. Anyway, I kept an eye on Amazon Marketplace and eventually a copy of the Cinematic Orchestra DVD turned up. It cost $30 and I didn't realize how lucky I was: I haven't seen it again for sale anywhere until tonight, and now they want $150! This is a great movie but that's a little ridiculous.

I was trying to get a good screen cap of the DVD, and fretting because the movie's appeal is so hard to capture in a still, when I remembered that thing called Youtube. Duh!

Digitizing for Youtube was not kind to this film, which was a bit grainy to begin with. But if you like that clip, I'll be more than happy to bring the DVD to your house. Or you can just watch the whole thing on Youtube if you don't care about the blurriness.

one life to live: a year of days, 2007

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Another year of improbable storylines, gaping plot holes, over-the-top acting and days that last for weeks.

Strange time discontinuities are par for the course on soaps, but the last couple months of last year were particularly bad. I've heard that they film episodes three weeks before the air dates. And strangely enough, the crazy time problems started almost exactly three weeks after the writers strike began. I wonder if the writers are involved in editing the episodes together coherently? That would explain problems like it being simultaneously early morning in Texas and late night in Ireland. Or a character driving from New Orleans to Paris TX in the time it takes another character to go to the grocery store. Or the episode where it was explicitly the same day in Texas but a new day in Pennsylvania. (Did they relocate the international date line when I wasn't looking?)

When the strike started, I heard that the ABC soaps all had enough scripts to get them through January. Well, it's January, and I wonder what they're going to do? Have they hired scabs? Are the producers doing the writing? Are they allowed to do that? I tried to find out online but I'm 100% spoiler free which means I have to avoid any soap site with any actual information.

And now, on to the inanity!

thirteen update

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Well Thirteen has been fine since we got back from the emergency vet. Very sleepy, which is normal for her these days. Plus I'm sure the experience tired her out. I'd rather see her sleeping all day than pacing compulsively. And no more throwing up.

She seems to really like chicken. We've been chopping it up fine and mixing it with brown rice and a blob of Nutrical. She ate it right up. I think she would have eaten more but I was afraid too much food too fast would make her sick. Maybe we'll try some more later tonight.

So, I don't know what Monday night was about. We have an appt. at Cole Park first thing tomorrow and I'm going to ask them what I should do if it happens again. Also, the emergency vet faxed their records from Monday night over to St. Francis, who called this morning to check and make sure Thirteen was okay. That was nice.

ETA: Just gave Thirteen another bowl of chicken and rice, which she ate right up. I wonder how the calorie content compares to kibble? She ate a much higher volume of food today than when she was eating kibble, but that might not mean more nutrition.

happy new year.

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My 2008 started with a trip to the emergency vet. Fun!

Everything is basically fine, Thirteen is okay now, but the post is long so I'm putting it behind a cut.

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