Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Hamlette's Guide to Surviving Spider Attacks

Spiders are everywhere! Yesterday alone they attacked me three times. It is important to remain constantly alert, so as to avoid being caught unawares by their fiendishly sneaky onslaughts. Routinely inspect all suspicious markings on the walls and ceiling of your home to ascertain whether they are new enemies or simply the remains of eliminated attackers.

In the event of a Spider Attack, follow these simple steps:

1. Sound the Spider Alarm. Simply open your mouth and emit a loud naaarg naaarg naaarg noise.
2. Step a safe distance away from the spider (about 5 feet).
3. Point to the attacker while continuing to emit the Spider Alarm.
4. If the spider is above you, cover your head with one arm.
5. Wait for Cowboy to come dispose of the spider.

Of course, you don't have access to Cowboy, so you'll have to find someone else to eliminate the threat. But the steps remain effective, regardless of the name of the Spider Squasher.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Here follows one of my favorite poems of all time. It's positively wonderful! And highly appropriate for the season, I might add. I've finally read a book by John Updike (Gertrude and Claudius), by the way, and I enjoyed it greatly...


"Seven Stanzas at Easter"
by John Updike

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells' dissolution did not reverse, the molecules reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His Flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that--pierced--died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck's quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Here are my Bottom Ten Least Favorite Movies Of All Time:

10. House On Haunted Hill (1999)
9. I Accuse My Parents (1944)
8. Time Bandits (1981)
7. The Troll (19??)
6. The Last Panzer Battalion (1969)
5. Cruel Intentions (1999)
4. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)
3. El Condor (1970)
2. Final Destination (2000)
1.Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Some of them are dumb, some are boring, and some are just plain gross. And all of them are things I never ever ever will see again, and I advise you to do the same! Just think: those represent about 20 hours of my life that I totally wasted! Grr...

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

There are a couple lines in the middle of "My Last Duchess" by Robert Browning that I've always felt apply to me. These are they:
...She had / A heart--how shall I say?--too soon made glad...
That really describes how I often think of myself, except I don't see this as a flaw. I enjoy my rampant joie d'vivre and I don't intend to ever permanantly lose it. I like the fact that I am quick to be delighted, that I can enjoy simple things like a daffodil or a fresh dusting of snow. A well-turned phrase or an unexpected-yet-perfect description in a book. An actor twitching their eyebrow just so, or leaning against a wall. The exultant soaring of a trumpet. Playing a song on the piano exactly the way I wanted to. Cowboy when he first wakes up and has that pleased flush of childhood lingering about his face. There are infinite and myriad things that cause me to delight and rejoice. I don't have to wait for a Creed concert or visiting the Louvre or attending a live performance of Hamlet or visiting John Wayne's birthplace to be really, indescribably, overflowingly happy. (BTW, I've done two of those things, can you guess which two?)

This subject comes up because the theater here in town (only a few blocks from my house!) got the new film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera for one week only. I saw it on Sunday night, before going to work. And it enthralled me! Enchanted me! Swept me off my creative feet and carried me to new heights of artistic ebbuliance! In other words, I adored it. It wholly delighted me. I think I'll have to put it in my top 15 movies of all time, at the least. I think I'll go see it again before it leaves on Thursday.

But all the reviews of it that I've read, before and since seeing it, have been...less than complimentary. One person thought it would have been great, without the music. Another hated the music and the plot and the acting and the entire concept. Another liked the concept, but found it poorly presented. I was left wondering if they even saw the same movie I did!

And then I remembered that I am delighted by things that cause others to turn up their noses. It seems to me that a lot of people think that denigrating and pooh-pooh-ing something (be it a movie, book, play, poem, painting, photograph, idea, whatever) makes them sound knowledgeable. Discerning, even. More intelligent than those around them. To me, however, they just sound stuck on themselves and unwilling to enjoy (or admit they've enjoyed) anything.

This doesn't mean I like everything, however. I dislike a good many things. But I am willing to like things too, to enjoy life and its accouterments.

Friday, March 11, 2005

I've got two more Combat! fanfic stories posted! One of them, "Far From the Reason", is new, and intercuts lyrics from the Hoobastank song "The Reason" with internal dialogue during the first-season episode "Far From the Brave". The other story, "Shepherds Watch", is a Christmas story that I wrote in December, but didn't get posted until now. It's dedicated to my mom.

Also, check and see if those quotation marks in "Searching" are working better now for you, Housekarl.
So I took a personality test to see what Classic Movie I am, and here's the result!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

I have a new second-favorite Shakespeare play! Obviously, Hamlet is always my favorite, but I periodically decide I really like another of his plays. For a while it was The Merchant of Venice. Then Much Ado About Nothing, then King Lear. Now it's Henry V. I haven't read it yet, but on a whim I picked up the Kenneth Branagh version at the library last night. I mostly got it cuz Christian Bale and Dame Judi Dench are in it. Whenever I'm not watching a Kenneth Branagh Shakespeare movie, I always have this "who does he think he is?" attitude toward him. And then when I'm watching one of his movies, I realize who he is--a guy who really likes bringing Shakespeare to the big screen. Which can be way fun--I love his versions of Much Ado and Love's Labour's Lost. His Hamlet is okay, but some of the cameos annoy me.

Anyway, last night I watched Henry V and I adored it! Any play that begins with "O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend/The brightest heaven of invention"--yeah, that's just gotta rock! And people talk all the time about the St. Crispin's Day speech...there's a reason they do that.

I'd ramble on some more, but Cowboy wants to go grocery shopping...

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

I have just successfully completed a very delicate operation...on a vhs tape. It's the third such surgery I've performed since we moved here. My first was just a simple transplant of the little flippy plastic flap that shields the tape. Those are really easy. My copy of Support Your Local Sheriff got a bit broken during the move here, so I just took a flap from a blank tape and put it on my good tape.

I kept the crippled blank tape just in case I ever needed it, never thinking I really would. Turns out it's a good thing I did, cuz last spring my copy of The Searchers had some internal damage--one of the bits of plastic that holds the tape in place broke off, and obviously the tape wouldn't play after that. So I opened that cassette, removed the spools and film, and put them inside the intact cassette that I'd taken the flap from. I put the good flap from the original Searchers tape on the new cassette, and was good to go!

And finally, yesterday I was watching a tape that my work buddy recorded for me (he's my NCIS, CSI: Miami, Battlestar Gallactica, and now Numbers provider), and suddenly it went clunka clunka clunka and stopped working. I pulled it out, very relieved it hadn't gotten stuck inside and killed my vcr. The right side of the tape had wound crooked, with a big lumpy loop in it. I shook the tape and it rattled--obviously something inside had broken, and a piece of it got caught between the tape and the spool. I had to go to work in about ten minutes, so I didn't have time to fix it then, but I knew I wanted to try, because there are still eps of NCIS and CSI: Miami on it that I haven't seen yet!

So tonight I rewound the tape, which it fortunately could still do, then got out my trusty tiny screwdrivers and opened up the cassette. Sure enough , two little nonessential bits of plastic fell out. I put it back together, screwed it tight shut, and now I'm watching Battlestar Gallactica. Hooray! I love fixing things successfully!

Monday, March 07, 2005

Here's a list of my ten favorite poets, and in parentheses the title of my favorite poem by each poet. I'm currently working on saving each of these poems on my other blog, so go there if you're interested in reading them ;-) You can dialogue with me about them via the comments here or at that blog if you want to!

My Top Ten Favorite Poets
1. Kenneth Koch ("Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams")
2. Robert Frost ("Nothing Gold Can Stay")
3. Langston Hughes ("Mother to Son")
4. Shel Silverstein ("It's Dark in Here")
5. Robert Browning ("Porphyria's Lover")
6. T.S. Eliot ("The Hollow Men")
7. Walt Whitman ("Hush'd Be the Camps To-Day")
8. Carl Sandburg ("Love Is a Deep and a Dark and a Lonely")
9. Shakira ("The One")
10. Louis L'Amour ("I've Never Read Gone With the Wind")

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

I've had about sixteen ideas for blog posts in the past three or four days. I can't remember a single one of them. Obviously they weren't very interesting after all.

So I think I'll write about the reasons I don't have a digital camera.

First of all, I am occasionally a tightwad, and when I have 3 perfectly good (okay, 2 perfectly good and 1 that died, mysteriously ressurected itself, and cannot be trusted not to die again) cameras already, why would I buy another one? Yes, it might be cool to upload pictures onto my computer and send them to family and friends instantly. But I don't have kids yet, so I'd be sending them pictures of what? Cowboy and myself cooking supper? Woooo, that's exciting.

Second, I like not knowing instantly if a picture I took will turn out or not. There's that tinge of mystery, the suspense of wondering if I've gotten a brilliant shot of that old ramshackle barn. The anticipation when I drop the film off at my one-hour photo developer, and have to wait to pick them up. Or, back when I was actually the one working in the photo lab, the joy of feeding little cartridges of rolled-up secrets into the developer and having them come out as long curly strips of memories, then sliding them into the printer and watching them turn into tangible images.

Also, taking pictures with a digital camera takes away some of the magic, some of the art and spontenaity. How often haven't people I know taken a picture with their digital camera, looked at it, then said, "Uh-oh, we need to reshoot that, so-and-so blinked." And they end up taking nineteen more shots, by which point most non-camera-lovers want to strangle them. With real film, you take two shots, and pray one of them turns out.

Third, I love the noises my 35mm cameras make. It's like my attachment to my old computer keyboard. I have this ancient keyboard that came with my parents' first computer, a 386 or something. It makes lots of noise. When I type, it clicks, kind of like a typewriter actually (I remind myself of "that nut that's in love with his typewriter" from You've Got Mail sometimes). This keyboard doesn't make the swanky swooshy noises of modern keyboards...it clacks and clicks and taps. If I type fast enough, it almost sounds like percussive music. It's so old I had to get an adapter to hook it up to my newer computers, but I refuse to replace it until it dies. Anyway...back to cameras....

My Kodak PaS (Point and Shoot) makes a particular winding noise that is like an old friend clearing their throat when they just wake up in the morning. I've had that camera since I was about 11--it's just a cheap thing my parents got me for Christmas, to replace an earlier even-more-elcheapo camera that went kaput (sometime I'll tell you about the related Sault Ste. Marie Camera Tragedy). I've dropped it, sat on it, taken it to Ukraine where it got fogged upon...I don't even remember how it got the scar on its lens cover. But this little junky Kodak PaS takes lovely photos with really devine colors. And I can load it with my eyes closed. And it makes that winding noise.

Gabriel, my first SLR (Single Lens Reflex), is the one that died back when I first started this blog. Then when we moved here, he magically came back to life. He makes cool noises too, especially when he focuses for me--it's a zeeeeeet zeeeeeeeet sound, and then he chirps when he's satisfied with the focus. When the shutter closes, it makes a satisfying chuh-chuh-chkkkkk.

But the coolest-sounding camera I have is Marlowe, my Chinon SLR I picked up at a pawn shop when I thought Gabriel was no more. He's fully manual, which means I have to do all the focusing myself, and also that its easier to control his aperture and shutter speed, at least for me. He makes that fantastic loud chk-CHK noise that I always associate with "real" photographers. Also, he smells like old mechanical things.

Digital cameras are too sleek for me, too stylized. They're an accessory, not a tool. It's like stilletto heels versus sneakers. The mystery and enchantment of wondering what that shot you just took will really look like--that's gone. And it's too simple to manipulate digital photos. Sure, you can center things, crop out unwanted intruders, fix red demon eyes...and what else? Fix your hair? Shed a few photo pounds? Whiten your smile? The possibility to lose truth is just too great for me.

This is not meant as a slam on any of my friends or family members who own digital cameras. I love the pictures I get of my neice and nephew, of my friends's kids, etc. This is just an explanation of why I do not personally at this time own a digital camera. Who knows? I may get one in the future. I've been known to change my mind, after all...