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!!!