Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Time for the rest of the story. Finally.

Thursday was our only glitch-free day during the trip. On Friday, we ran into yet another storm, and it slowed us down a lot. So much that we hit the edge of the city in which we now live (working on coming up with suitable nickname for it), it was rush hour (insert ominous music here). It took us something like an hour and a half to go five miles. Which meant that Daddy missed his 7:30pm flight out of Hartford and had to book a new flight for Saturday morning. It also meant it was too late to unload everything that night, and of course the mattresses were some of the first things put on, so they were waaaaaaaaaaaay back and impossible to get out. So we had to stay in a hotel again.

But on Saturday, Johnnycake and Dimples arrived from Bawstun and helped us unload. I should say helped Cowboy unload, as I mostly stayed inside with Dano and directed them where to put boxes. We encountered another fun fun fun incident when the boys tried to get our white couch inside and we discovered that the doors to this place are really, really narrow. We'd expected getting it up the stairs to be the problem (we live on the second story), but that turned out to be a breeze compared to getting it in the front doors. But by 7pm, everything was inside, and we had a jolly supper at a little Vietnamese restaurant nearby. And we even made it to church on Sunday!

But the glitches, mishaps, and unfortunate events did not end with our arrival. Oh no. We've had everything from the delivery man bringing us the wrong pizza for lunch that first Sunday to the internet only just finally working today to the electric switches for the gas stove making an ominous ticking noise whenever it's plugged in... at least none of us have gotten sick or injured (yet)!

And then there's the laundry. We thought we would just do laundry at a laundromat until we got more settled and had time to shop around for a washer, but one trip to the laundromat quashed that -- $3.50 to wash one load! We were paying 75 cents in Ruralburg and expected it to be maybe $1.50 here. But $3.50? Just to wash? Eeep! So we ran to Sears and bought a (Whirlpool? Maytag? I forget) washer that same day. Getting it delivered today. Whew! At those prices, this washer will pay for itself in 18 months.

We have had a piece or two of luck, though as Sam Gamgee might say. Our new church (one of only two Wisconsin Synod Lutheran curches in the whole state of Connecticut) has a nice pastor and a friendly congregation. And the library not only has a nice selection, but supposedly the interlibrary loans are free here as well! Still need to check that out for sure, though. But I just looked up Bobby Darin on their website and he comes up with 92 entries, so I could be in love with this library very soon :-D It looks like maybe I'll get to see some of his movies I couldn't find before... oooh, I should see what they have for Rudy!

So yes, an eventful move, but the Lord watched over us and kept us from having any bad accidents or getting robbed or having a vehicle break down or anything else that could have happened. Cowboy is starting his second week of work and next week it will be Christmas! And I'll be home for Christmas for the first time since 2001!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

If I wrote a novel about this trip, it would seem so preposterously aggravation-ridden that it would have to be a comedy.

We didn't get everything loaded and hit the road until like 2:30 Tuesday afternoon. By then, it was snowing, so MamaRuth generously offered that she and Banana would clean our apartment so we could get on the roadahead of the storm. But we had to drop the piano off at Banana's home first, and by the time it was unloaded, the roads were pretty awful. We ate supper at her place, then got a hotel and watched Amazing Grace on pay-per-view. I'll try to blog about it some time -- for now I'll just say Ioan Gruffudd is getting even better looking, if that's possible!

It's a good thing we stopped when we did, because we saw 2 semis and several cars still in the ditch when we set out yesterday morning, and lots of tracks where others had already been rescued. We ran into the storm again in IL/IN and that slowed us down for a while. But we survived it. We have to stop about every 2 hours to fill up the truck/clean someone's wiper blades/go to the bathroom/get food, so we don't make the greatest time. Plus, the truck can't go above 70.

By supper time last night, Dano was ultra-cranky (he cried for almost 45 min straight -- he loathes his car seat), Daddy and Cowboy were pretty tired, and we were going to have supper with the Chameleon and her Gonna-Be Preacher Man yet, so Dad started calling hotels to see if we could get rooms for the night. All the ones he called were full, so we decided to pull off at a La Quinta we spotted because Dad had liked the one we stayed in the night before.

And that's when we encountered the latest glitch for this mission: Dad nicked a car in the parking lot with the step that sticks out from the passenger side of the truck cab. All it did was make a scratch on the car's wheel well, but it turned out the car was a rental. Thankfully, the guy turned out to be super nice (he's from the Bronx -- guess the good guys didn't all leave with Bobby Darin and Vic Morrow). He said if it had been his own car, he would've said forget about it, but since it was a rental we had to report it, of course. Calling the rental company and the insurance companies dragged on and on, and the cops took forever to show up to make their report, so Daddy finally told us to go ahead and go to supper without him. That was really sad because we were going to this restaurant he and Mom loved when they were in the Seminary, and now he had to miss out :-( We had a nice time with the Chameleon and her Gonna-Be Preacher Man and got to see their apartment afterwards because it's really close by, and we got a piece of German chocolate cake to go for Dad at the restaurant, so he didn't miss everything, at least.

This morning, Dano woke up at 5am again, so at 6, I came down here to the lobby because that's when the continental breakfast starts. So I'm checking email and sipping coffee mixed with hot chocolate and nursing Dano and waiting for it to be time to wake Cowboy and Daddy up. They have to go see a State Farm insurance agent this morning, so that will be another delay. The big question now is: will we get Daddy to the airport in time for his flight tomorrow night? It doesn't matter that we most likely won't get the truck unloaded while he's here, because Johnnycake and Dimples are coming up on Saturday, so they can help with that.

Never move in winter.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A moving update for all you out there wondering how the moving is going: thanks to my Dad, Noumenon, Cowboy's Mom, Banana, and the Papoose (who loved helping his Uncle Noumenon pull the handcart), the last few boxes are in the process of being loaded onto the truck we've rented. Random stuff like cd racks and the card table and chairs are being left for tomorrow, because we've been at this forever and we're getting really really really tired -- Dad's been up since 4am, Cowboy's been up since 4:30, and I've been up since 5:30... and yeah... forming coherent thoughts is getting tough for both Cowboy and me. Especially for Cowboy, since he had food poisoning yesterday and is still feeling not particularly up to par.

So we're heading to a motel for the night in just a bit, and we'll come back in the morning to finish loading the truck and to clean the apartment (oh joy, oh rapture). We had a few setbacks (Cowboy's food poisoning put our final packing way behind schedule; Dad's flight was delayed), so we won't be leaving first thing tomorrow like we'd hoped, but hey, what can you do? At least it hasn't snowed again, we look like we've got clear sailing for the next few days... and what are plans for but to be rearranged, huh?

And I'd like to say a big thank-you to Noumenon, Banana, and Cowboy's Mom for coming over to help with the last-minute packing and loading the truck, and to my Dad for flying up here to to help with all the loading and driving. We'd be sunk without you! Hope you liked the brownies.

(And to everyone who disagreed when I told them I wouldn't be done packing everything by the time Dad arrived today, I say: I told you so!)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Not only did Dano start smiling last Friday, but yesterday, he sat in the vibrating chair while fully awake while I took a shower and never cried!!! Wooo!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Right, so I just finished rewatching Kenneth Branagh's version of Hamlet to see if I like it better now that I know he meant to make Hamlet a more cheerful fellow than is generally portrayed.

And I do. I really wasn't annoyed by him at all this time around, and got all sympatico with the character the way I usually do in other versions. I had always been rather annoyed with Branagh for getting Hamlet so monumentally weird and chipper, but now I kind of dig it. Although why his hair and mustache are so very mismatched still puzzles me, but oh well.

That's not to say I now readily embrace this version and want to run out and buy it. A few things still bug me, like the overblown spookiness of the Ghost scene (Joss Whedon could teach Branagh a thing or two about creeping people out without seeming silly), some of the excessively showy cinematography (that scene where he makes his "my thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth" speech is just funkily shot), and the doofy chandelier thing at the end (a thrown sword through the chest isn't enough to finish Claudius off? We have to whack him with a giant chandelier too? Why?). Oh, and the big militaristic invasion by Fortinbras' army at the end annoys me, because I don't want to hate Fortinbras for being a liar, I just want to be annoyed by him for being opportunistic. But he's played by the bad guy from A Knight's Tale here, so I guess I can hate him happily.

But there are several things that used to bug me that didn't this time around. Chief among those is Osric. I guess I'm just used to Osric's weirdness now, because I remember absolutely hating Robin Williams' performance here, and now it didn't bother me at all. In fact, considering it's Williams, I think it's pretty restrained.

This version does have my absolute favorite Horatio: Nicholas Farrell. He makes me weep at the end, more than Hamlet himself. He is the sweetest Horatio ever, and if I ever buy this version (yeah, yeah, I probably will get it eventually), it will be because of him. He does justice to the role of Horatio the way Liev Schreiber does to the role of Laertes in the Ethan Hawke version. It's exactly the way I always want Horatio to be played, sympathetic and brave and intelligent and loyal and trustworthy and perfect. I've never seen the performance matched, not in the filmed versions I've seen, anyway.

One of these days, when I'm not madly packing for the big move, I shall post a really long discussion of all the versions I have seen and what I liked and disliked about them, along with a list of my favorite portrayal of the main characters. Won't that be fun? :-D

Friday, November 16, 2007

Well, so much for NaNoWriMo. Cowboy finally got hired for this new job he applied for in November of 2005 (yes, it's with the government, why do you ask?), and so we're moving to Connecticut. By December 10th. And while there is much rejoicing around here for the long-awaited job offer, there is also not a little moaning and groaning from the person whose task it now is to pack up our worldly goods: me. Because most of said goods are mine, and because I'm home all day, not finishing out the last two weeks of coal-mine-ish drudgery. But I also have Dano to deal with, which means that on a good day like today, I manage to pack 9 or 10 boxes, total, between nursing, changing diapers, and assisting the baby star with his latest costume change. And that means that, alas, I have no more time for Nano :-(

(Truthfully, I'm not as sad about this as I'm pretending to be, because my novel was being difficult and I was struggling to crank out my required 1,667 words per day. I was keeping up -- got 20,242 words as of the 12th -- but I wasn't enjoying it. But don't tell anyone I said that, huh?)

Friday, November 09, 2007

I have finally put tags on practically all of my posts, all the way back to the beginning of this blog! Quite a task, when you think that I've been blogging almost as long as I've been married, albeit not completely continuously.

So now you can read a new post about, say, snow, and then read all my old posts on the subject just by clicking on the little "snow" tag at the end of the post. I think that's nifty.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Blast it all, I'm going to have to watch Kenneth Branagh's version of Hamlet again.

Wait a minute, you say, Hamlette adores watching Hamlet! She owns multiple versions of it, she has huge chunks memorized... she named herself after it, for cryin' out loud!

Yeah, but I don't like Branagh's version very well and don't own it. The only version I've seen that I liked less was Laurence Olivier's, as I've come to disagree quite strongly with his belief that the play is about a guy who can't make up his mind. The main reason I don't like Branagh's is because he's just so doggone cheery-looking through most of it. Branagh works fine for me as Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing and as the title character in Henry V, because neither of them are terribly serious characters. But I do not dig him as Hamlet.

Or I haven't so far. But I got the soundtrack for his version from the library to listen to do while working on my Nanovel, since part of it involves a college production of Hamlet. And in the liner notes, Branagh writes:
"Our Hamlet is not presented as a man predisposed to melancholy. His usual character, described so often in the play, is vibrant, curious, positive... For me, the play is partly a search (through Hamlet's extraordinary mind) for what makes life worth living. When afforded a glimpse of those things that occasionally inspire Hamlet -- love, friendship, the theatre -- I wanted the music to soar with Hamlet's temporary optimism and hope."
That is rather a different view of the character than I've ever taken, but it's one I'm very drawn to, because, well, I identify greatly with Hamlet in many ways, except I'm ordinarily a very happy, optimistic, hopeful person. But I've never thought that, before his father's death and his mother's o'erhasty remarriage, he might not have been a Broody Boy at all. And that's a really cool thing to think about, and makes me even sadder for what he goes through in the play.

So now I need to rewatch this version, to see if it works any better for me with all this in mind. Hooray for free interlibrary loans! I'll probably get to see it next week.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Dano is sick :-( It seems he has picked up the evil rotavirus. So far he just has a mild case -- diarrhea only, no vomiting or fever. So we're just keeping him as hydrated as possible. The doctor said he should be over it in 5-7 days, and that he just needs to let his body purge itself of the virus. Ie, have a LOT of diarrhea. Oh goody.

Friday, November 02, 2007

So NaNoWriMo this year is a very different experience. The first year, I did it in 3 weeks so I could go on vacation the last week -- that was nutty and kinda stressful, but fun. The second year, I did it in 30 days like a normal person, and it was still a bit stressful, but mostly because I didn't know quite where my novel was going.

This year, well, you'd think having a 3-week-old would make it ultra stressful, right? That Nano would be an extra stressor I don't need. But it's not true -- this year, Nano is my escapist relaxing place. The thing that reminds me I'm not just a combination wet bar and warm furniture for the Little Dictator. Okay, we're only two days in, but so far I'm getting my word count in just fine, albeit in little slices here and there when he's either eating or napping. Mostly when Dano's eating, since I can't do a lot when he's nursing. But I can type with one hand, so I get my word count in slowly but surely :-)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Obviously, I've gone utterly mad. I've signed up to do NaNoWriMo again this year. Even though I'll have a month-old baby to deal with. I realized he does sleep now and then, I'll be home 24/7 now, and it usually only takes me a couple hours a day to get my word count in, so why not try it? What's the worst that can happen? I fail to complete the challenge -- which is exactly what happens if I don't try it at all. And I actually have a plot outline for this novel, which is more than I had last year.

This year's novel is going to be Salem, the third book in the yet-unnamed trilogy that started with Josey and continued in Pike. If I manage to finish it, that will make three novel first drafts in three years, which is pretty doggoned impressive, if I do say so myself. And then maybe I can really force myself to start seriously revising them? Here's hoping!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

We have a Gumdrop! Except now we call him Daniel instead ;-) If there's anyone out there who hasn't seen pics of him yet, here's one:
He arrived at 9:11 on October 9th, after the Lord answered our prayers and granted me a safe and speedy delivery -- my entire labor was only four and a half hours, and without pain medication. Completely crazy, especially for a first baby! He took to nursing right away, too -- in fact, he's feeding as I type this one-handed. We got home from the hospital today about five hours ago.

Cowboy and I are so grateful to God for blessing us with our healthy, happy baby (which we also prayed for for the last nine months). I think we'll keep him!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

I've been having very real contractions for a couple hours now, and they're getting pretty strong, so we're going to the hospital to get me checked out -- they may send me home again for a while, who knows. Anyway, just letting you know :-)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Ohmygiddyaunt! I just bought ice cream from an actual-factual ice cream truck!

I was walking home from the gas station when I heard this calliope-like version of "The Entertainer" somewhere up ahead. I thought, "Wow, somebody has a really loud cell phone." And then here came this little white truck toward me through the dusk, and I thought, "If I didn't know better, I'd think that was an ice cream truck." And then when it passed me, I read the side of it and it WAS an ice cream truck! But by the time I had identified it, it was past me, and I just didn't feel up to chasing it down -- it's icky sticky hot outside right now and I was carrying a gallon of milk in a plastic bag... so I chalked it up to being cool just to have seen an actual-factual ice cream truck and continued on my way home.

While I walked, I thought about the clown on top of an ice cream truck that Booth shot in an episode of Bones last season, and about my favorite ice cream man ever, Tim Conway in The Shaggy D.A. I remembered how kids in books from the 50s and 60s got visited by ice cream trucks all the time, but because I was a kid in the 80s instead, and a kid living out in the middle of nowhere, I never had. Oh sure, sometimes I've gotten ice cream or cotton candy or something from one of those big concession trucks parked outside Walmart or at the fair, and I suppose those are technically ice cream trucks. But they are not the same as a little white truck emitting tinkly music and toodling down your street.

But as I neared home, I started to hear the music again in the distance, like the truck had gone up the street I was on and then turned and was coming back down the next one. When I turned onto my block, all the little kids that live in our duplex complex were lined up on the curb, hopping up and down and discussing whether or not the ice cream truck would really come all the way back there, or if it would turn down another street and miss them completely. By the time I got to our driveway, the truck was in sight, definitely headed for us. So I quick took the milk in, dumped it unceremoniously into the fridge, grabbed some cash, and got back outside in time to be the last person in line.

He didn't have tubs of ice cream that he dipped out of like Tim Conway in The Shaggy D.A., but that's okay. I bought an ice cream sandwich and a sno-cone and walked back to the Crypt with tears in my eyes because I was so excited to have finally bought ice cream from an ice cream truck. I put the ice cream sandwich in the freezer for later and am eating the sno-cone now :-D

Yes, ladies and gerbils, it takes very little to make a Hamlette happy.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Here's an intriguing blog: A Soviet Poster a Day. Along with each Soviet propaganda poster, you get a little history lesson and sometimes some art criticism. The guy who writes it, Alexander Zhakarov, has a cool sense of humor too. Like, the most recent post is titled "In victory, you deserve Champagne, in defeat, you need it." Another one is titled "Plowed ground smells of earthworms and empires." He also includes Russian proverbs here and there, which are interesting as well.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Finally! Some good news! Jon Stewart is going to host the Oscars again! Woo! My boycotting of them this year paid off!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Today is my official due date, but as you can guess, I haven't had Gumdrop yet (tho there are still 4+ hours left in the day, so you never know, lol).

When I do go into labor, I plan to post something here about it, time permitting. So just check back every day or so to see if there's an announcement about me leaving for the hospital :-D

Friday, September 28, 2007

Just got back from a checkup about 20 minutes ago. I am now about 3cm dilated and 90% effaced, I have lost 1 pound, and the baby has indeed dropped. Last week they could move his head up out of the birth canal, but this week they couldn't. His head is happily corked in there, so when my water breaks, I don't have to worry about the cord prolapsing. Yay! Also, my nurse said she actually could have broken my water this morning, but she didn't cuz I'm not all "Get it out of me NOW!" yet, so she swept my membranes again and sent me on my way.

Oh, and she guestimates he's about 7lb right now. Nice normal-sized baby.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

FINALLY!!!!! You can now download individual episodes of a TV series at Amazon! They call them "Unbox video downloads" and they cost about $2 each. They have mostly current series so far, including some like NCIS and Bones and Eureka that I really like. And off-the-air things like Buffy and Firefly (but no Angel yet). But they do have Classic Star Trek and I Love Lucy, so there's hope that they'll start offering other older shows too. They don't have all the seasons for every show -- I think they only have seasons one and two of Buffy available so far. But it's a start. A brilliant start.

Because for a couple years now, Cowboy and I (and others, like DKoren) have been wishing that we could pick and choose individual episodes of certain series and make our own "best of" collections. For instance, I get the biggest kick out of the character Colonel Flagg on M*A*S*H, but he's only in about five episodes, scattered over several seasons. So I would love to just download his eps, burn them to a disc, and have them to enjoy without shelling out for several full seasons.

I'm not sure if you can burn these to a dvd once you download them, but I'm assuming you can, because you've paid for them. And they've got some movies available too, for about $10 apiece, except some of the movies are only $2 and say "rental." Which makes me believe that the individual eps you download are going to be yours to keep. Especially since you can download them to either your computer or your TiVo.

Anyway, I am way excited about this!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cowboy got his results back for his final exam -- 100%! In fact, he passed "with distinction," and so has now earned his Masters degree in Comparative Politics. The professor who administered the exam commented that "This was an absolutely brilliant exam, among the best I've received."

I married a smart one! :-D
Blech! Remember how I said it had gotten cold really suddenly a couple weeks ago? Well, that only lasted for about a week. We had frost once, and then last week, it got warm again. I just took some laundry out to the little laundry room in our duplex complex, and it's so warm and muggy I wanted to peel off a couple layers right then and there. And last night, it was so hot I had to curtail my walk (I try to go on a walk every other day, like down to the library and back, which is about 2 miles round-trip).
Nope, no baby yet -- but my due date is still a week from today, so I'm not getting all antsy and anxious or anything. At least, not about the baby. I am getting impatient about this job Cowboy almost has... we were supposed to find out if they'll hire him during the first week of September. It is now the last week of September, and the answer is still the same: we're not sure yet, if you haven't heard from us by next Monday, give us a call.

Grr. I could be packing right now, people! I'm not working, I have all kinds of time to pack. I mean, it's good in a way that they haven't hired him, because every week that goes past that they haven't made up their minds is another week before we'd have to move. And I'd really like to not have to move until Gumdrop is at least three weeks old. Long enough for me to get the hang of this whole mommy thing a little and for him to have a couple of checkups before I have to find a new pediatrician.

Anyway, that's life right now: waiting.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Hooray! Cowboy took his final exam for his Masters degree last night! He's done done done done done! He was allotted 6 hours for it, and it took him 5 hours and 45 minutes. He had to answer 5 essay questions, and his responses added up to 22 double-spaced pages. Whew!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Well, I could have baby news of an official sort in the next week or so. As in, I visited my nurse/midwife this morning for my weekly checkup, and I am approximately 2 cm dilated and 80% effaced! So she went ahead and stripped my membranes (far less painful than it sounds). I've been having mild Braxton-Hicks contractions for the past few days, like two or three a day, usually up in just the top half of my tummy and usually lasting 15-30 seconds. So it seems I'm warming up for the big day. Guess the raspberry-leaf tea and Evening Primrose Oil pills I've been taking have been doing their jobs of stimulating my uteran muscles and ripening my cervix.

Which means I probably should actually pack my bag for the hospital instead of just tossing random things into a pile. And clear out the baby's room at least enough so that you can walk around in there.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Oh, how I love the Guard Duck!

"16 Blocks" (2006) -- Initial Thoughts

I watched 16 Blocks tonight. It's good little Bruce Willis movie -- not spectacular, but enjoyable. Bruce is all scruffy and paunchy and not pretty -- he's a cop who's down and very nearly out, like if John McClane gave up fighting the good fight and got very in love with alcohol.

I thought I would be really annoyed by Most Def's character, and he was annoying at first, but then he kind of grew on me and by the end, I liked his character.

There's one nice twist at the end, not one of those that stands you on your head, but one where you're like, "Aha, that makes sense." Or that's how it hit me, anyway.

I like the theatrical ending best, but the alternate is more poignant. The dvd has both. I recommend watching the theatrical version, then checking out the alternate afterwards if you feel like it.

Anyway, if you're ever in the mood for an actiony Bruce movie with very little cussing (one F word, a handful of other things), some violence but nothing ultra-graphic, no sex or nudity or even any smooching, check it out!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Avast! Don't be forgettin' that Wednesday, the 19th, be International Talk Like a Pirate Day! To aid ye in yer preparations, ye might want to read up on the Ancient Laws of the Pirate as Written by Blackbeard Himself. Arrrrrr!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

So I guess my coworkers are actually going to miss me. Or they're really happy I'm leaving, lol. On Monday night, my HBA cohort and her sister made spaghetti and garlic bread for lunch for everyone on third shift in my honor, and they also had gone around and gotten everyone to sign a farewell card and also a baby card. And they collected donations from people too and got me a gift card. To the tune of $100! Wow. I don't think we've ever raised that much for someone who was leaving before. Pretty crazy.

I'm glad to be leaving, honestly (tomorrow, Wed, is my last night). Sure, I'll miss a few of the people. And I'll miss my employee discount. But I've been sick of that job for a long time now; the only things I enjoy about it are working with my HBA cohort and reading on my one-hour lunch break.

It's a little scary, though, to be unemployed for a reason other than moving away. Not that I fear for our financial stability, cuz Cowboy makes enough to take care of all three of us if we just tighten our belts a bit (most of which will happen automatically when I stop driving 40 miles a night and paying $3+ for gas). It's more like, whoa, I get all this freedom suddenly? I don't have to punch a time clock and be accountable to a boss? It's kind of like when I graduated from college, actually. Sort of a big blank space ahead of me.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

It's amazing how quickly our weather changed this year. One day I'm making iced tea, and the next, hot chocolate and hot cider seem more appropriate. Seriously, we went from weather in the 70s at the end of last week to me being able to see my breath after work in the morning. Weird.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

"3:10 to Yuma" (2007)

Tonight I went to see the remake of 3:10 to Yuma. I love love love the 1957 original, which stars Glenn Ford as bad boy Ben Wade and Van Heflin as upright rancher Dan Evans. This remake gets two Warheads, as it got draggy in the middle. Let me elaborate....

The original is basically western noir about a down-and-out rancher making a desperate attempt to save his family by agreeing to get the captured bad guy on the 3:10 train to Yuma prison in exchange for money that will help him keep his ranch through a drought. Not the wisest decision ever, maybe, but one he sticks to. Van Heflin is all worn-out but stolid, like a tree stump you can't get out of your field even if you chop it, burn it, and pull on it until your arms go numb. Glenn Ford is smooth and wily and devastatingly charming, almost always relaxed and acting like he's in charge even though he's the one in handcuffs. You like him, and you fear him because he gets you to like him even though you know all too well he's the bad guy.

A big chunk of the original takes place in a little hotel room where our hero and our villain are waiting for the train to arrive. Things get tenser and tenser as one by one the other people helping keep Wade there turn chicken and leave. Pretty soon it's just Evans, but he won't give up no matter how many of his friends tell him he's an idiot for sticking it out, no matter how many of Wade's gang show up to try to stop him, and no matter how much money Wade offers to pay him for just looking the other way for a minute or two. The movie plays out like the coiled spring inside a pocket watch, things building and building until you think your TV set is gonna explode from the pressure.

In the remake, we have Russell Crowe as Ben Wade and Christian Bale as Dan Evans (I hear originally they wanted Tom Cruise and Eric Bana -- perish the thought!) Now, as much as I love Christian Bale, and I do love him a lot, this is Russell Crowe's movie. The original belonged to Glenn Ford, and Russell does an equally smooth job of owning this one. He's charming and scary, like Ford was, but he's also got this coldness that Ford didn't have. I never got to the point where I thought, "Hey, maybe this guy ain't so bad after all." Even at his nicest, you still felt like he'd cut you down with no more remorse than I'd have when I kill a spider.

Which works. Ford's Wade was lovable, had these lapses of niceness and decency that you couldn't ignore. Crowe's Wade never has lapses of decency -- even when he's doing something that's not evil, you know it's because it serves his purposes. It makes him scarier than Ford, but not quite as complex somehow.

Now about Christian Bale as Dan Evans. Christian can do better. Not that he wasn't lots of fun to watch, all solemn and simmery, but I kept feeling like he was just walking through a lot of scenes, like he knew what marks to hit and what lines to say, but he just didn't quite care. About halfway through the movie, he improved somewhat, so maybe he just didn't like the earlier material or something. Once he got angry and not just determined, scared as well as stubborn, he got interesting. Besides, when he'd get mad, he'd smile and give us a glimpse of his fangs, and then you got the feeling he could stand toe-to-toe with Ben Wade.

But they cut down the amount of time spent inside the hotel room, the stuff that makes the original so much cooler than your run-of-the-mill "take the bad guys to justice" western. Instead we have more scenes involving Wade's gang of cutthroats, who were pretty much all either boring or annoying. And they lengthened the trip from the town where Wade is captured to the town where the train is, even threw in some Indians just to um, spice things up? And we got this long, implausibly drawn-out chase to the station at the end. See, in this new version, Dan Evans lost a foot in the Civil War and wears a wooden prosthetic. I'm sorry, but having him running over rooftops and jumping about just stretched my suspension of disbelief a leeeetle too thin. Then once we got to the train, we had to have more shooting. I hear the director thought that the way the original was done would be too boring for modern audiences, so he put in lots more violence. When will Hollywood stop underestimating the number of intelligent viewers out here? But anyway...

Alan Tudyk is in this! He is never ever dull, is he? I mean, from 28 Days to A Knight's Tale to Firefly to even having a robot based on his performance for I, Robot, I have never been anything but enchanted by him. And he delivers once again. Small part, sweet acting. In fact, he's one of the brightest spots in the film!

One more thing about Russell Crowe's performance -- I especially loved how he would make little tk tk tk noises to his horse to urge him forward, just the way real people do when they ride horses. He also posts really well -- if Dan Evans' son (who tags along in this version and spends most of his time looking young and naive) really admired Ben Wade so much, he should've taken note of how Wade posts while trotting, instead of lurching around like a sack of feed.

BUT they did one thing that really really really really really ticked me off. They changed the ending.

The original ending rocks! It's the perfect capstone to the whole tumultuous almost-friendship that springs up between Wade and Evans. Neither of them stops being who he really is, but they come to understand a little of who the other guy is too.

But in the remake? Nooooooo, we have to make Wade suddenly feel sorry for Evans and decide to help him. And then... (Do NOT read the hidden text if you haven't seen the remake and want to! Otherwise, highlight the next few lines to see what I say.) ...Dan Evans gets killed. Shot by Wade's gang. And Wade proceeds to shoot every single member of his gang in retaliation, then climbs on the train and heads for prison. It was weird and I've gotta say that even as I was hoping and wishing that Wade would do just that after Evans got nailed, it totally didn't fit his character. The Wade in the old version, maybe -- he did nice and decent little things here and there. But this cold, calculating Ben Wade? He woulda high-tailed it.

So yeah, not pleased by the changed ending. Maybe they thought it would be more realistic somehow, instead of sort of nice and neat like the original. But instead they betrayed the characters and it just didn't work. Not for me, anyway.

Oh, one funny note from the credits, and then I'll shut up and post this. All through the credits, when they listed like the drivers and hair stylists and stunt doubles for the stars, they listed them for C. Bale and Ben Wade. Not R. Crowe, Ben Wade. Hmm. Really wondering why they did that. Did Russell request that? Did the person doing the credits think it would be funny? Quite odd. (And people wonder why I sit through all the credits! Because you find weird stuff like this, that's why!)

Friday, September 07, 2007

I am happy to report that I survived all four of my forays into Shelob's Lair. I may have only had a Twinkie hat and rolled-up newspaper instead of Sam and Sting, but it seems they did the trick.

I'm actually very proud of myself for going back in there three times after I knew there was a large and scary spider in there. I must be having a brave day.
You know, I love kids. As I was walking back from my second excursion into the den of the vicious laundry room spider, this little kid that lives in our complex rode up on his bike and said, "Hi!"
I said, "Hi!"
He said, "Whatcha doin'?"
"In the laundry room over there."
"Where do you live?"
"On the end down there."
"By the flowers?"
"Yup. Where do you live?"
"Right here." He pointed to his duplex and then rode off.

Not once did it occur to him to ask my why doing laundry necessitated carrying a rolled-up newspaper and wearing a baseball hat that says "Twinkies" on it. Not that explaining it to a kid would have been difficult -- I could've said, "Oh, there's a big spider in the laundry room, so I took the newspaper to kill it if I had to, and the hat is to protect me from aerial attacks." And he would probably have understood. Try telling that to most grownups and see what kinds of funny looks you get.
There is a horrifying spider in the little laundry room in our duplex complex (I call the Crypt an apartment, but really it's a duplex in a little grouping of duplexes). I went in there just now to start my weekly laundry, and there it was, lurking in a corner with evil obviously on its mind. It didn't move while I was in there (and believe you me, I watched it every second), but who knows where it will be by the time I have to go in and start my next load. And Cowboy is at work and cannot come to my rescue :-( And I can't put off the laundry until tomorrow because then I will have nothing to wear to work. So I have to go back in there. I shall take a rolled-up newspaper for protection in case it attacks, but I'm really wishing I had some spider-killing spray to take instead so I could just put an end to the horror. Why don't I have have an arsenal of spider-killing spray? Why? Why? Why?

Or a Thompson. Why don't I have a Thompson? Man, I loved cradling that submachine gun last year in Atlanta. That would make quick work of a malevolent spider. Very quick work. Hee -- it's a good thing I don't have any firearms of any sort or I probably would be tempted to go packin' when I do my laundry and maybe give the laundry room some new ventilation.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Only four weeks left to go! Give or take, but how many people actually deliver on their due dates anyway?

As of my checkup this week, I had gained 23 pounds, so that's right in the healthy range between 20 and 35. My nurse/midwife checked my cervix and said that it's softening and maybe starting to thin a little bit, but not effacing yet, so I'm likely not going to be delivering in the next week or two. Next week, number 37, I'll be considered full term and Gumdrop will be ready to be born at any moment and not be considered premature. He's a good boy, even if he does kick me in and pummel me and head-butt me all the time -- he's positioned head-down and with his back to my front, which means if he stays this way he won't be breech, and also means I probably won't have back labor. What a good Gumdrop! Now if we could just do something about those feet shoving against my rib cage all the time....

Anyway, I don't have any pictures of just me at this stage, but here is one of me and Pierre Jalbert at Recon last month -- it's about 4 weeks old already, but you can at least kind of see how I'm developing. Now that I have my new digital camera, I'll try to get Cowboy to take some pics in the next day or two. But for now, this'll have to do. Plus, Pierre! Woo!!!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Groovy quote from Liev Schreiber about adapting movies from books, as quoted on imdb.com:

"That's the hard thing about adapting a book that's so well loved. It's like playing Hamlet. The audience doesn't buy it, because they're Hamlet. How could you possibly be Hamlet when Hamlet is them? It's one of those difficult things where a good writer gives the reader ownership of the material. They develop an intimate relationship with it and become its protectors, and rightly so. Whether they like the movie or not, there is something a bit outrageous about exploiting their private story."

I can't improve on that, that's exactly what it's like when a book I love gets made into a movie. It's never quite right because I am not there being the character I identify with most.
I got another new camera :-D This could become an addiction. Who am I kidding -- it's already an addiction. Anyway, this one is a Canon Powershot SD1000. My very first digital camera! If you don't count the DVD camera we got on vacation, but I haven't taken still photos with that, just movies.

Anyway, this camera is a gift from DKoren so I can keep her supplied with pics of Gumdrop once he arrives. I'm sure his grandparents will appreciate that as well :-)

I haven't actually gotten to play with my new camera yet, because I'm really tired these days -- I tend to nap or sleep in before I go to work, and then when I get home in the mornings I'm so wiped I just lie on the couch until Cowboy has supper finished (yes, he is the bestest husband ever!). But I'm off work tonight and tomorrow, so I plan to spend some significant time playing with the camera now.

I haven't actually named it yet -- I can't decide between 'Elrond,' 'Haldir,' and 'Glorfindel.' You see, this camera is a Digital ELPH, and those are my three favorite elves from The Lord of the Rings. Elrond is by far the coolest elf ever (IMHO), but I'm really fond of Haldir in the movies. Glorfindel is highly awesome in the books and I wish he hadn't been cut out of the movies. So I can't decide -- anyone have any thoughts or advice?

Oh, and I haven't named the dvd camera yet either, though I'm kind of thinking about 'Yakima,' after Yakima Canutt, who was a dear friend of John Wayne, an innovative stunt man, and assistant director/second unit director of some of my favorite movies ever (Ben-Hur, The Swiss Family Robinson, Where Eagles Dare, etc).

So yeah, now I have two 35mm SLRs, one 35mm point-and-shoot, one DVD camera, and one digital point-and-shoot. Holy camera collection, Batman, huh? :-D

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Things I Hate About Being Pregnant
  • Being expected to love being pregnant.
  • Being expected to think every single thing made for a baby is cuuuuuute.
  • Swollen feet that feel bruised because I have to wear shoes to work.
  • This muscle in my upper abdomen that never quite stops aching.
  • The matching muscle in my back that's never totally happy either.
  • Having so much baby inside that my stomach is squished and I can't eat much.
  • People who would rather talk about the baby than anything else.
  • People who think I'm a bad mother or something when I want to talk about something other than the baby.
  • Hemorrhoids.
  • Awkward sex.
  • All the piles of baby stuff squatting in my living room because I haven't gotten around to cleaning out enough room in the Play Room to put the baby stuff in there.
  • Lack of energy.
  • Lack of desire, motivation, and sometimes ability to write.
  • Needing to sleep more and then feeling guilty about it because I have other stuff to do.
  • Knowing that once the baby arrives, I'll be even more tired for a while.
  • People who already act like the baby is more interesting than I am. I'm still a person too!
  • The fact that the words "I'm still a person too!" bring tears to my eyes.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Well, I'm back home again. Which is great, as I was really missing Cowboy for the last few days of our week apart, although tonight he's at work and I'm missing him again and suffering from the post-vacation blues. Anyway, here's a day-by-day rundown of the California half of my vacation:

I landed at LAX on Friday, where DKoren picked me up, and we headed off to the Pink Palace, aka a Days Inn in Santa Monica. There we met up with our fellow Reconites, four of them newbies and the other six veterans like us (aka they were at last year's Recon.) They threw a Combat!-themed baby shower for me that night -- you wouldn't believe how much camo baby stuff they managed to find! And we played this fun new board game that DKoren created. It's based on "the baby episode," aka "One More for the Road," and basically follows the path of the ep, with places where you have to answer trivia questions about the ep and others where something from the ep happens and you can get penalized or rewarded (eg "Doc revives baby, go ahead one space" or "Stroback gets killed by a mine, go back to start.") It was highly fun, and I actually won by the skin of my teeth :-D

On Saturday, we went to Franklin Canyon, where parts of many eps were filmed, and guess who met up with us there for a little while? Pierre Jalbert, aka Caje! He lives not too far away and is friends with a couple of us Reconites, and they asked if he'd come meet the rest of us, and he did! Totally unexpected and awesome. He's waaaay cool, still all trim and wiry even tho he's in his 80s. Told us several fun stories about behind-the-scenes stuff from Combat! and let us take our pictures with him, etc. When I get a chance, aka when I get them developed and scanned in to my computer, I'll try to post some pics from the whole week.

Anyway, after Pierre left, we went on a tour of Franklin locations led by none other than Dodger and Green Recruit! We used to call Dodger "Mr. E-head" which stood for "Mr. Encyclopedia-Head" -- he has an amazing knowledge of WWII history. Then for lunch, we had real MREs! And they weren't bad! And I'm not just saying that because I'm pregnant and hungry a lot, hee.

On Sunday, we drove to a couple of cemeteries and visited the ashes of Rick Jason (aka Lt. Hanley) and the grave of Vic Morrow (aka Sgt. Saunders). We tried to go to the beach, but it was just too crowded, so we went back to the Pink Palace and played C! Trivial Pursuit instead.

And on Monday, we all left. DKoren and I headed up into the hills above Hollywood to see if we could find Rudolf Valentino's home, Falcon Lair. We found it all right, at the top of a steep, narrow, twisty road. I shudder to think of Rudy with his terrible eyesight driving up and down that thing in his big cars. Anyway, I took some dvd footage of the gateposts, which are still the originals with the name on them, although the great wrought-iron gates of Rudy's time have been replaced by black board ones you can't see through. So then Deb took my photo by the gateposts, but I must have gotten to close to them, because this crabby bald man came running out from around the corner and yelled, "This is private property! You're setting off alarms!" We'd seen what we wanted to see anyway, so we left, although I'm pretty sure that a sign posted on the fence beside the gates that says "No Trespassing" means that you can't go beyond that fence, not that you can't stand in the road outside the gates. Especially since the road was not marked "Private Drive" (and there were lots of other houses on the same road). Whatever.

Anyway, we drove out to Paramount Ranch next, where they've filmed lots and lots of westerns, and also where they filmed the town for Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. The church is gone, though the bridge near it is still there, and the tree where Grace had her outdoor cafe is there too. But we didn't get to look at all the buildings and walk down the streets like we wanted to because some small production was actually filming there! But we got to eat our lunch on a picnic bench under a tree a ways away from the action and watch them a little, so that was exciting. From there, we headed up to DKoren's new house, which she just bought and isn't yet unpacked in. We ate supper at her sister's house, which is right next door.

On Tuesday, we went digital-camera hunting, moved some of DKoren's stuff into the house from her yard, and hung out with her family next door.

On Wednesday, we drove up into the Sierra to visit DKoren's parents. We made a bunch of cool stops along the way. First, we tried to find this vineyard that was used as a set in a C! ep, but alas, it's been refaced and renovated and turned into a business complex. From there, we drove out into the Mojave Desert, which DKoren kept calling "boring" and "ugly," but which I thought was really pretty in a rugged way, and a nice relief from the ultra-populated cities we'd been in up to then. You're supposed to have really awesome views of the mountains as you drive up into them, but because of the huge fire over in Santa Barbara, we could barely see the mountains because they were obscured by a thick haze of smoke. But that's okay. I got to see some cool lava flows and cinder cones along the way.

Our next stop was Red Rock Canyon, where they filmed lots of old westerns, both movies and TV shows. We walked around a little, but it was too hot to go exploring much. I think I got some nifty pics tho.

From there, we headed to a western film museum in the town of Lone Pine. Lots and lots and lots of things are filmed around Lone Pine, from western (The Lone Ranger and tons more) to film noir (Bad Day at Black Rock) to action (Gladiator). The museum is full of things like hats worn by John Wayne and Steve McQueen and Dean Martin, costumes, movie posters, etc.

Next we stopped at the Alabama Hills, where they film a lot of westerns and sci-fi stuff. They're totally amazing hills -- some of them are all rough and jagged and westerny, and some are really alien, all rounded and burbly. Hard to describe -- I'll post some pics soon. One of the most famous things they filmed there was the 1930 Cary Grant movie Gunga Din.

After stopping at DKoren's parents' house, her mom drove us out to the Laws Museum, which was originally a town built for the Steve McQueen western Nevada Smith and is now a museum full of all kinds of cool antiques and a big train.

From the museum, we headed up to Hot Creek, where the main set for the John Wayne movie North to Alaska was once built. DKoren's mom is really into geology and geothermal activity, and Hot Creek has been changing and growing progressively hotter and more active, so she likes to go there and see how things are changing. The path we walked on there was only about a mile above active volcanic lava, and the pavement cracks and splits over time because the earth moves. We also stopped by this pretty (and deliciously cold!) lake called Convict's Lake on our way back to her home.

On Thursday, DKoren and I drove back down to San Bernardino. We stopped at this tiny little restaurant in the town of Aberdeen -- whenever John Wayne was shooting a movie around there, he would insist on eating at that restaurant because he really loved their food, especially their beans. Alas, the owners of the restaurant were on vacation this same week too, so it was closed :-( Which means I will have to go back again, right? We also stopped at Manzanar, which was a Japanese Relocation Camp during WWII. Not much is left of it except some foundation slabs and stones, but they have a nice air-conditioned museum, and it looks like they're restoring one of the housing unit things too.

We got back to San Bernardino on Thursday afternoon, only to have the power go out about half an hour after we arrived. YUCK. No air-conditioning, no fans -- I was not a happy person. We ended up going out for supper, and when we came back, the power had returned, so I was able to finish doing some laundry and packing, and we watched a couple movies, one a Bobby Darin western and the other a Dana Andrews/Hoagy Carmichael drama.

Friday, I flew out of the Santa Ana John Wayne airport, had a layover in Phoenix, ended up in Chicago, and took a bus to WI, where Cowboy picked me up. I've spent the last couple days unpacking and trying to switch back to 3rd shift. I have to go back to work tomorrow night and I really don't want to, but that's life, I guess.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

You know you're having a good vacation when it's half over before you get around to blogging about it.

Cowboy and I left home on Tuesday morning (the 31st). We stopped in Illinois to visit our favorite college professor, who is now a church pastor, and ended up staying the night in the same town because we were just too sleepy to go any farther.

Wednesday, we drove to Petersburg, KY to visit the Creation Museum, which was completely awesome. I took a whole roll of film there. We drove on a ways farther that day, ending up nearish they KY/TN border.

Thursday, we drove home to my parents' house in NC, arriving in the afternoon. Dad grilled his fabulous steaks for us for supper, which is always one of Cowboy's vacation highlights.

Friday, we all went and saw The Bourne Ultimatum, and Cowboy and I bought our very first dvd camera so we can record Gumdrop's every waking moment once he arrives :-D

On Saturday, my home church had their second annual Bluegrass Jamboree. We went for about three hours, until I got too hot and had to get back to the lovely air-conditioned house. It was lots of fun, though, and they raised lots of money for the local pregnancy crisis center.

Sunday was church in the morning, of course, and in the afternoon we were guests of honor at a baby shower thrown by the congregation. I haven't been a member of this church for five years, and Cowboy never has been, but they were amazingly generous toward us -- they really love my parents, that's for sure.

On Monday, um... what did we do Monday? Oh yeah, I spent the afternoon hanging out with Freestargirl and Jewels and their daughters.

Mom and Cowboy and I went up to the mountains on Tuesday and visited Carl Sandburg's home. Very nifty, as both Mom and I like his poetry, and I got to try out the new camcorder.

Yesterday, Cowboy left me :-( He's driving back to NC with all our baby gifts in the Tank's trunk. I was most sad.

Today is time to do laundry, write thank-you notes, and pack. Tomorrow I will fly out to LA for Recon! Woooo!

Oh, I have had one pregnancy complication arise because of this trip: I tend to retain water in my ankles and feet ever since the day we started driving down here. They get puffier throughout the day, but then they go back to normal every night. I'm drinking as much water and other fluids as I can to keep it manageable. I think a lot of it has to do with the heat too, as it was 105 here yesterday.

Monday, July 30, 2007

I love it when companies keep their promises! Today I got my free Harry Potter t-shirt and my $50 online gift certificate that Scholastic Books promised to send me in return for me waiting to read HP until it was officially released. Woo! So now I have a new shirt to take on vacation with me, and I went and ordered a boxed set of the Chronicles of Narnia and a Harry Potter journal with my gift certificate (have to pay shipping and handling still, but oh well). Wooo!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I am finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I read the whole thing from 12:15am-10:15am, pausing only to eat supper and do some laundry. When Cowboy came home at 6:30am, I had 250 pages left to read, and he very sweetly did the dishes and made supper so that I could keep reading and finish the book, since he knew very well I probably wouldn't be able to sleep until I did.

I will not post any specific spoilage here, I'll just say that I cried a whole lot, but not always because I was sad. And it's a perfectly wonderful book, all kinds of loose ends get pulled together and stuff suddenly makes sense that you've been kind of wondering about through the first six books.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I have only read the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows so far. I read it this morning before I went to a dr. appt. This afternoon (while we were asleep), we got this call from Scholastic Books saying that Deep Discount had mailed out my book early by mistake (DUH!), and offering me a $50 gift certificate for Scholastic books if I agreed not to read the book until Saturday, when it officially comes out. And a free t-shirt while supplies last.

Well, I'd planned to read the book on my two nights off, Thursday and Friday. But for $50 in free books, I figure I can hold off until 12:01am Saturday (which is 3/4 of my Friday night off anyway). They said they'd email the certificate to me, but it hasn't appeared yet. If it's not there, or some message from them, by tomorrow night, I guess I'll go ahead and start reading it again.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Oh. My. Giddy. Aunt. I have the new Harry Potter book already!

On Saturday, the 14th, I finally realized that I would not be at work at 12:01am on Saturday, the 21st, to buy the new Harry Potter book when it comes out, because I'm off Thursdays and Fridays now. So I decided to preorder it online, figuring it had a week to get to me, and I had a decent chance of getting it on or around the 21st anyway. Plus, I found it at Deep Discount for $18, which is way cheap, as they don't charge for shipping and handling.

I had secret hopes that it might get here like a day early, since I know whenever Dkoren preorders movies, she gets them a day or so early. But four days early? No WAY!

I solemnly swear that I am up to no good. Er, I mean, I solemnly swear not to post any spoilage here. After the 21st I'll probably post about it again, but anypossible spoilage will be written in invisible ink.

Mischief managed :-D

Saturday, July 14, 2007

"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" (2007) -- Initial Thoughts

Went to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix tonight. I don't think it's a good idea to go see one of these only about a week and a half after reading the book. Because this movie just felt really patchy to me. Yeah, the book is huge, so even a two-and-a-half-hour movie is going to have to skip a lot of stuff. The others have skipped lots. I was expecting this one to skip things. But it felt more disjointed than I was expecting. They did one or two good montages that sort of glossed through large chunks of the book, like Umbridge taking over Hogwarts decree by decree, and those were okay. It's when they messed with stuff just to cobble parts together that I got kind of mad -- like having it be Cho that revealed DA's meetingplace so that drives her and Harry apart instead of them falling apart more organically. It works, I guess, but it felt all wrong. And I really did want to see Firenze in at least the scene where he gets brought in as the new Divination professor.

At least Sirius got to be in this one more than one tiny floo-powder scene. I actually got more teared up over two of his earlier scenes with Harry than I did in the Department of Mysteries. (Being a bit vague here because certain people, namely my parents, have neither read the book nor yet seen the movie, but plan to).

But all in all, I felt like the last movie, Goblet of Fire, flowed much more smoothly. It was a shorter book, and I suppose had more of a central focal point, but I think this one could have been less jumpy.

Oh, and they radically changed the look of the Dementors, which I didn't much care for. And I was rather disappointed by the wizarding duel in the Dept. of Mysteries between the Order and the Death Eaters -- too much swooshy special effects and too little real people dueling.

But the casting was, as usual, superb. Of course, the main three are brilliant, and the professors and other students at Hogwarts. Fred and George Weasley were particularly amusing. Jason Isaacs just gets creepier and creepier as Lucious Malfoy. The only off-note for me was Helena Bonham-Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange. She's good at being wacked-out and evil, but she seemed a little too... cute. And her hair was much too bee-hive or something, just unbelievable. I wanted her to be more mad Ophelia and less fairy-tale-witch.

But it got one Warhead, or maybe one and a half, as I did once consider getting another one out of my pocket, but then got interested in what was going on again and never got around to eating a second Warhead.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Did you know your night can go from Great to Crap in the time it takes to open the refrigerator door? Well, it can.

I was having a great night off. First I wake up with my wonderful Rudy dream lingering in my head, then I get like 50 pages of the fanzine proofed, then I go to see Live Free or Die Hard, which completely rocked in an over-the-top, unbelievable, but pulse-poundingly fun way. I give it one Warhead, although it might have deserved two, except I was enjoying my annual cherry slushie and so didn't need another Warhead. We'll give it one just because it was such a fun ride.

So then I get home and spend almost two hours chatting with some pals, one of whom, I found out tonight, actually reads my blog (dude, that makes like what, seven people reading my blog now? Eight? Two of whom are my parents and one of whom is my husband....). And I have a great night of relaxing watching lined up: three eps of Remington Steele and four of Wanted, Dead or Alive. A night full of Pierce Brosnan and Steve McQueen -- what could be better?

Then I went to make lunch. When I left the theater, I considered running across town to Taco Bell and picking up a couple of supreme Beef Gorditas to have for lunch later, as I've had a hankering for them for a few days. But I said, "No, there are tortillas left from that weird turkey taco thing we had for supper a few nights ago. I'll just make a microwave quesadilla and that ear of corn Orance* said he left for me, and save myself the money and the gas." Right. So I open the fridge around 1:30am, and... no tortillas!

Fine. Orance had a few extra days off from work this week, so he probably had them with the leftover weird turkey taco stuff. I get out my ear of corn, shuck it, and put it in the microwave. I can just nuke a couple of my beloved Ball Park franks and have them on slices of bread for the rest of my lunch.

Except there are no Ball Parks in my freezer. There are no hot dogs of any kind in there. I distinctly remember there being several packages of Ball Parks a few months ago, and I'm quite sure I've eat maybe 8 hot dogs since then. Ball Parks are my special hot dogs, they're the only ones I really like, so we get several packages when they're on sale and just buy cheaper hot dogs for Orance whenever he needs them, because he's not picky about hot dogs. But it seems someone who is not me has eaten all my hot dogs.

So I have one ear of corn. And sure, there's other food in the house, but I wanted something kind of salty and meaty. It's one in the morning, though, so Taco Bell is long closed. Fine. I know that McDonald's' drive-thru is open 24 hours, so I will get the car out of the garage again and drive all the way across town and get a Big Mac. I haven't had a Big Mac in a long time, and it sounds quite tasty. And I can try one of those new cold coffees they have now.

Except when I get to McD's, they inform me that they only make six particular value meals between midnight and six am. And the Big Mac is not one of them. Which to me seems very very stupid, like Taco Bell not selling tacos at night, or Burger King not serving Whoppers.

So I get a Quarter Pounder value meal with coffee instead of soda, except they charge me extra for the coffee, but by then I'm too pissed off to care. I don't get a supreme Beef Gordita, or a quesadilla, or a Ball Park hot dog, or a Big Mac. I get a Quarter Pounder, which is probably cold by now, and an over-charged-for coffee.

And when I get home, there is a big, ugly, spiky spider on the living room ceiling right above where I usually sit when I watch movies by myself, so I have to kill it with a fly swatter at great peril to life, limb, and the light fixture nearby.

The only good parts about this story are that the hazelnut iced coffee is really great and they're salting their fries again at McD's. And I got a much better ratio of limp fries to regular fries than normal.

*"Orance" being what I call Cowboy when I'm miffed with him.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I just had the coolest dream. I should be working on proofing the 2007 Combat! fanzine right now, but I need to record this dream before it fades into the ether.

In the dream, Johnnycake, Mom, and I were swimming in this giant swimming pool at some hotel. It was at night, and we were the only people in the pool, which was bigger than Olympic-sized and surrounded by all these bushes and things on the two longer sides. It was inside like a green-house sort of glassed-in edifice. Mom, of course, was sticking to the shallows by the broad steps that led down into the pool on one of the shorter sides. And on the other short side they had a big-screen TV that changed via a waterproof remote near where Mom was hanging out. So she channel-surfed for a bit until she found some TCM-like channel that was showing a Rudolph Valentino movie.

This is where it gets really good. Because I got to swim around in a giant pool and watch a brand-new Rudy movie. In the dream, I had seen it before and kept having to explain plot points to Mom and Johnnycake, as it was kind of an incomplete print (like what survives of The Young Rajah). But it was a Rudy movie that was never in real life made, because... it was a talkie. And Rudy was older in it, probably in his 40s, getting these distinguished little smile-wrinkles around his mouth and eyes and looking devilishly handsome as usual. Obviously, this movie couldn't have ever been made, as Rudy died before reaching 40 and before the dawn of talkies.

Anyway, one of the cool things about the movie is that I actually remember the plot right now! I have no idea what it was called, but in it, Rudy played one of his rather usual characters, sort of a rich playboy with no real job who likes to pick up cute chicks and have eyebrow-raising flings with them. The costumes were all 1930s, rather than his usual 1920s, in keeping with it being a talkie and him being in his 40s. And the plot revolved around him pursuing this reckless young girl who had just arrived in Hollywood and was making a name for herself as a big flirt and also as a rising young star, as she'd been discovered by some movie producer and made this big smash movie. I clearly remember a scene involving a big Hollywood party where she's having a grand old time and he's sort of watching from the sidelines, chatting and smiling with a couple acquaintances but keeping his eye on her and obviously plotting how and when to make his move. Now, the girl is accompanied to Hollywood by this old maid aunt who's supposed to be her chaperon and spends most of the movie making scary faces in close-up and warning the girl not to make a fool of herself, not to talk to worthless older-man playboys like Rudy, etc. Actually, I don't remember her talking at all, just the scary warning faces she'd make that sort of implied all the rest of it.

So of course, Rudy pursues the girl, who is all young and carefree and they do the usual stuff like go picnicking and sailing and horseback riding, always trying to evade the old maid aunt. And of course, Rudy actually falls in love with this girl, instead of just dallying with her and discarding her as has been his wont in the past, but right about the time he figures this out, and before he can declare his true feelings to the girl, she leaves him and starts running around with this nancy-boy actor she's making her next movie with.

Cut to some great brooding scenes with Rudy sitting alone at a table in a little posh bar. Could have used a few more of those scenes, they were lovely. So finally he gets all determined and smouldery and storms onto the set of the movie, past the furious old maid aunt who thought they were well rid of him, and tells the girl just exactly how he feels about her, and that he's leaving Hollywood because he can't bear to be there without her and going back to Italy where he belongs. At which point she, of course, throws herself into his arms and declares her love for him, and that the whole reason she came to Hollywood was because she'd read about him in glamour magazines and thought he was a despicable womanizer, so she came here to meet him and teach him a lesson, but now that she's in love with him, she can't bear to do that, and will he ever forgive her, etc. Which necessitated putting on some thick black-rimmed glasses rather like mine, for some reason, which prompted Rudy to put on the cutest pair of little wire-rimmed specs. And so, defying the old maid aunt, they climb into Rudy's car and go driving off the set and into the glorious future.

And just before "The End" could be scrolled across the screen, our phone rang and woke Cowboy and me up. But I know it was the end of the movie anyway, so all is okay.

And the other best part of this dream? Hello? Talkie! I got to hear Rudy talking! With this lovely smooth baritone voice with the most delicious Italian accent, about as thick as Antonio Banderas' Spanish accent in some of his earliest American roles. Understandable, but oh-so-very-Italian. I've never heard Rudy's voice in real life, as there's only the one recording of it that I know of, but I did dream about him once before, and this was the same voice he had in that dream. And also the one he has in my imagination ever since that first dream (which was much shorter and involved Rudy making his first talkie and me being the script girl who had to keep prompting people with their lines).

So yes, delicious dream. Love all the detailed, lengthy, memorable dreams I've been having while pregnant, they're quite cool. Woke up in the best mood after that dream, singing "S'Wonderful" in my head cuz I think it was playing in the background at the end of the movie. What a great start to a night off, huh?

Okay, time to actually go work on proofing the C! fanzine for a while now.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

I picked up Bon Jovi's new album, Lost Highway, a couple weeks ago.

I'm disturbed. Miffed. Somewhat disappointed.

Since when is Bon Jovi a country band?!?!?!?! They are supposed to be rock! Pop rock, yes, but I want guitars and percussion and bass, not twangy fiddles. I know that their duet version of "Who Says You Can't Go Home" with country singer Jennifer Nettles on their last album became the first number one single by a rock band on the country charts, but does that warrant making the next album almost entirely country-flavored? What about people like me that aren't particularly country fans and like Bon Jovi for their rockiness? I'm pretty sure their core fan base isn't any more fond of country than I am. Sure, we all bought this album cuz we couldn't tell from the first single ("[You Want to] Make A Memory") that the majority of the songs would be country-influenced (although I had my suspicions, since it features artists like Leann Rimes and Big & Rich on a couple tracks). But are we going to buy the next one? I don't know if I am.

Here's Jon's explanation and defense of how this album sounds. The first two-minute segment is specifically addressing this issue of countrification.

Of all the songs on Lost Highway, "Till We Ain't Strangers Anymore," is actually my favorite so far. Oddly enough, it's probably the most country track, but it's the kind of country I like, sort of old-fashioned-sounding or something. Here's a link -- it's just a slideshow of pics of Jon, but at least you can hear what I mean. I like the way Jon and Leann's voices blend, and I really like the line, "It would be so easy/To live your life with one foot out the door." Also, if you know the songs on Have a Nice Day, you'll recognize a little riff from "Welcome To Wherever You Are" running through this song.

Monday, July 02, 2007

I suppose a baby update is in order about now. I'm starting my 27th week, so I'm basically six months along now. Gumdrop should be about 14 inches long, head to heel, and weigh nearly two pounds. And he's now capable of having hiccups, although I don't know if he ever has yet, as I haven't really noticed sustained rhythmic movement that lasts for more than like five movements. And his lungs would be capable of functioning, with assistance, out in the real world if I should have him prematurely.

As for me, I've gained about 13 pounds, which isn't much, though my nurse/midwife isn't concerned, but she did say stress could be a factor, so I'm trying to switch my days off at work to give myself a less stressful schedule. I have a little heartburn now and then, but rarely bad enough to even make me take a Tums. I'm not retaining water yet -- my shoes and rings all still fit, and my ankles aren't swollen or anything. It's harder to bend over, as there seems to be this baby thing in the way, so I do a lot more squatting and kneeling at work to stock the lower shelves now. Plus, blood rushes to my head if I bend over for more than a couple seconds, which is not terribly joyous. I avoid lifting boxes I know will be really heavy (over like 25-30 pounds), and most of my co-workers will not allow me to pull anything other than empty pallets anymore.

Anyway, the baby blanket is progressing nicely and I might make another one just cuz I like crocheting. This baby will have lots of blankets -- he might have to share with later siblings ;-)

Friday, June 29, 2007

How shiny is this? Firefly is in space! An astronaut took a copy of the series DVDs with him to the international space station!

(Thanks to Noumenon for the link.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

"Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" (2007) -- Initial Thoughts

I just got back from Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. I quite liked it, actually. It's not the most amazing movie I've ever seen, but neither was the first one. Although it's not something I was dying to see, I did want to see it on the big screen because I knew the effects would be much cooler than watching it on my little TV. And cool they were -- particularly the Silver Surfer, who was done by WETA Digital and therefore rocked, of course. I actually liked it better on a whole than Spider-man 3, as it didn't devolve into gooshy angst-ridden slop. It just stayed fun and rompy -- light-hearted without getting silly.

Besides, hello? Ioan Gruffudd!

Anyway, it got two Warheads. Hmm, seems to be a trend this summer.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I finished making my baby books last week, so now I've started crocheting a baby blanket for Gumdrop. But I thought I'd tell you a little about the baby books and show you some sample pages. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I decided to make four baby scrapbooks at once, since Cowboy and I would like to have up to four children. All four are basically the same, in that they have the same pages in the same order. But each individual page is unique, so that no two pages and no two baby books are identical. They might have slightly different wording or different scraps or stickers decorating them, or be on different kinds of background pages.

Some of the pages, like the Family Tree and the one about what the world is like when the baby is born, I can fill out before the actual birth. Others, like the Growth Chart and list of achievements, will obviously have to be filled out as the baby grows up (provided Mommy has time, hee hee).

Not all the pages have lots of writing on them or spaces to fill in, though. About half of them are designed for displaying photos, like for Christmas and birthdays, or just random photos. Since I'm a camera fiend, I figure I should manage to accrue enough cute pictures of all my kids to fill the pages up, even if it takes me until they're 18 to find time to put them all into the books. And there are blank pages at the back for whatever I want to add.

I've designed these books to take the child through the age of three, which is where I kind of think of babyhood as being officially over. I figure after that, maybe I'll start another scrapbook for each kid, one where they can make pages themselves. You know, fingerpaintings they've done, special art projects from elementary school like those turkey drawings where you trace around your hand, whatever. Or maybe that will end up being WAY too much work, and I'll just set up a photo album for each kid the way my parents did. They did a photo album for themselves and one for me and one for Johnnycake, so that they could have memories of our childhood and so could we. Which I think is pretty brilliant. Also a great way to use up extra photos, since my Dad is as much of a shutterbug as I am (maybe even more so!).

Anyway, you can click on each of these pictures to see a (much) bigger version of each page.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Tonight, I fulfulled a longtime ambition. I painted the walls of a room. Not a room in my own Crypt, but that's beside the point.

When I was in high school, my friend Jewels decided to paint her room green. And for some reason, maybe I was sick or on a family vacation or something, I didn't get to help her. Freestargirl did, but I didn't. And it seemed like the coolest thing ever to be able to paint your walls a color other than some variant of white.

Growing up in a pastor's family, I always lived in parsonages. And the walls of the parsonages were invariable white or off-white, because before a new pastor came to a church, the congregation would paint the walls of the parsonage. But who knows what colors the new pastor's furnishings will be, right? So paint the walls white, because white goes with everything. Makes total sense, but because the house didn't belong to us and had just been freshly painted anyway, my dad would never let us repaint any rooms. I could put up posters and hang pictures to my heart's content, but not paint the walls.

So when Jewels painted her room grass green, there was born in me the great desire to paint walls. It seemed like such a fulfilling activity, seeing the new color take over the blank blah-ness of the old white walls. The whole concept of the paint roller fascinated me. I used to walk through the paint aisles in home improvement stores or hardware stores and imagine opening a can, pouring it out into a pan, and rollering it onto the walls. But I never got to.

I almost had the chance to paint walls when my parents moved into a new parsonage the summer between my sophomore and junior years of college. They were staying at the same congregation but moving into a different house, and the whole thing needed to be repainted. Sure, my dad insisted it all be painted white or off-white so that the next pastor wouldn't be stuck with mauve walls or whatever, but it still would have been exciting. Except they managed to schedule every single painting session for the exact times and days that I was working at my summer job. Room after room got painted, and I had nothing to do with any of it.

So now, ED just bought a house and is in the process of repainting nearly every room. I went over there tonight and she and I primed and painted her guest bedroom. We painted it this greyish purple color (more purple than grey) called Phoenix. And it was awesome. It was every bit as fun as I'd imagined :-D

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

So, you're probably wondering why I haven't posted anything about Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End yet, since I'm such a pirate fiend and all. Well, I saw it on opening night, May 25, and liked it. Better than Dead Man's Chest, but not as good as Curse of the Black Pearl. It left me in a much different mood than did the other two, however. When I left the theater after seeing the first two, I was totally pumped. Ready to do a little buckling and swashing myself. After I saw At World's End, I was sort of quiet and contemplative. But I thought it might have been because I had to head straight to my icky job from the theater, and that was enough of a downer to kill my mood. So I wanted to wait to blog about it until I'd seen it again, and was planning to go see it the following Tuesday with ED. But that fell through.

So I went to see it tonight with Cowboy. And I agree with my first assessment, that it's funnier and better than the second, but not as good as the first. But I ended up in the exact same contemplative mood at the end, so I guess that's how this one leaves me.

Anyway, Johnny was much less silly this time around, back to being seriously funny. Loved Keith Richards' appearance, wish he had more scenes. And I think my hands-down favorite part is when Barbossa, Elizabeth, and Jack meet up with Will, Davy, and the evil East India Co. dude to have a parley. They land on opposite ends of this sand spit thingie and the music goes all Ennio Morricone (think A Fistful of Dollars), and they do the slow-mo swagger-toward-each-other thing. Love it.

And once again, Johnny Depp was the hottest, but Orlando Bloom got more studly even than the last one -- and I'm not really an Orli fan! But starting with the aforementioned parley showdown, he just got cool. Like he finally figured out how to walk in his boots or something. The little earring helped too.

Anyway, it got two Warheads because it got a little slow in the middle and I actually unwrapped a second piece of candy. So not magnificent, but not shabby either.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Waaah! It's been so humid lately that my Oreo cookies have gotten chewy! Yuck :-b

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Time for some lists. Haven't done any of those lately, have I? These are prompted by a discussion on Cowboy's family's chatboard site.

First, here are what I believe are the very
Best Westerns
(not necessarily in any particular order)

The Magnificent Seven
The Searchers
Rio Bravo
The Ox-Bow Incident
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
3:10 to Yuma
Winchester '73
High Noon

Those are all movies that practically transcend the Western genre, actually. They're not just good Westerns, they're good movies overall.

Here, on the other hand, are
My Favorite Westerns
(in a very particular order)

1. The Sons of Katie Elder
2. The Magnificent Seven
3. Rio Bravo
4. Silverado
5. Tombstone
6. A Fistful of Dollars
7. The Lone Ranger
8. The Mask of Zorro
9. North to Alaska
10. Tall in the Saddle
11. The Rare Breed
12. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
13. Support Your Local Sheriff
14. The Fastest Gun Alive
15. El Dorado
16. The Quick and the Dead
17. Texas
18. Hondo
19. Texas Across the River
20. Maverick