Wednesday, December 31, 2008

We got a couple inches of snow here today, so Cowboy and I are spending a quiet New Year's Eve at home, playing with Dano and drinking hot Dr. Pepper with lemons. So I raise my mug to you and wish you a wonderful new year full of health and happiness. L'chaim!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

When I was three or four, I loved "The Night Before Christmas." I made my parents read it to me over and over and over -- I had it in this wonderful extra-big book with amazing pictures. They read it to me so often, I memorized it. The whole thing. Word for word. My parents used to get me to recite it for their friends -- it was my first party trick. I still remember the first couple stanzas, though I won't recite them for you here. I'll just give you the very end, with my warmest compliments of the season:

"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

Saturday, December 20, 2008

We have snow! Lots and lots of snow! More than nine inches, and more heading our way :-D Woo! I've done about 19 Dances of Joy, as you can imagine. And you should see Dano playing in the snow! He's practiced walking in his new boots since that first snowfall a couple weeks ago, so now he can run about like a tiny mutant snowman. He spent this morning picking up chunks of snow, helping Cowboy brush off the car, and scaling the new snow mountains along the edges of our parking lot. We'll proably do it all again tomorrow. And as soon as there's good packing snow, we'll build his first snowman!

Of course, this means Mom's trip up here tomorrow might turn into an Adventure, but you need one of those every now and then, right?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

This is the awsomest display of "dancing Christmas lights" I have seen. I like it better than the vids of Disney's that I've found. They synchronize everything perfectly, and they have different things personify different parts of the song.

Thanks to Cowboy for finding this! Dano loves it too -- he requests it about half as often as "Jingle Bells."

(Note to DKoren: it involves flashing strings of Christmas lights and parts of "The Nutcracker" played on metal instruments. You might hate it.)

Monday, December 15, 2008

"Australia" (2008) -- Initial Thoughts

I've been trying to figure out how to write about Australia. I went to see it last night, and I loved it. Adored it. Wanted to turn around and go watch it again.

I was pretty sure I would at least like it, because it has cowboys, soldiers, horses, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Jack Thompson, and David Wenham in it. Plus, it's set in Australia, home to my most favoriteset movie of all time, The Man from Snowy River (1982). And I really like Baz Luhrmann's storytelling abilities. Plus, Mom, Dad, Johnnycake, and Dimples all liked it.

My expectations were more than met. They were exceeded on every hand. The sweeping story of love and good vs. evil, the breathtaking panoramas, the sweeping shots of a cattle herd on the prod, the enjoyable acting... it was all grand.

And I know Hugh Jackman "learned to ride" for this movie, but holy horsemanship, Batman! The man looks like he was born in that saddle, and you could tell he did most of the riding himself. Yeowsa. The sight of him on a horse galloping full-tilt as he drives a herd of brumbies past the camera... it was almost like watching Snowy River for the first time again.

Actually, parts of it did remind me of The Man from Snowy River (the original, not the Disneyized sequel), and not just because they both have Jack Thompson in them. The loner hero who has a special way with horses, the pretty heroine who's tougher than she looks, the various characters out to prove themselves... mmm.

Oh, it gets one Warhead, if you hadn't guessed.

While writing this scattered, unfocused, effusive review, I've been looking for pix to add to this post. Three of them remind me so much of other movies, I can't help but think they're deliberate hat-tips.

This pairing makes me think Gone with the Wind! You too?
This shot of Hugh Jackman is pure Clint Eastwood from his Spaghetti Western days. I blogged before about their similarities....
And finally, this shot has to be homage to John Wayne in Hondo. It has to be.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dano has a favorite Christmas song right now: "Jingle Bells," specifically the jazzed-up Barbra Streisand version. He recognizes it as soon as it starts, and he dances to it and 'sings' "Jing, jing, jing" while it plays (which is also how he asks to hear it).

He's fourteen months old now, and has a vocabulary of nearly thirty words. A lot of them are only recognizable to us, but anyone could understand quite a few, like "daddy," "apple," and "up." And is that boy ever strong! Yesterday he grabbed a forty-two-pound dumbell and started dragging it across the floor. Not rolling it, dragging it. We're doomed.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Our library had a book sale today, and I got the coolest book! True Grits: Recipes Inspired by the Movies of John Wayne by Lee Pfieffer and Michael Lewis. I swear, they wrote this book with me in mind. Not only does it have lots of recipes, but it has movie photos and trivia too. And the recipes have silly titles, like "Sandwiches of Iwo Jima," "She Wore a Jell-o Ribbon," and "The Flan Who Shot Liberty Valance." What's not to love? I'm gonna have as much fun reading this recipe book as I will trying some of the recipes.

And I swear they found shots of every time the Duke ate in a movie to put in this book -- what a fun task that must have been! The authors actually included their email addresses at the end of the book, so I will probably have to write them and tell them how much I dig this book. Maybe after I've made one or two of the recipes.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I did it! I did it! Woooo! I finished NaNoWriMo 2008 a day early and with several hundred words to spare! I crossed the 50,000-word finish line this afternoon. I finished four whole stories and wrote a goodly chunk of a fifth, can you believe that?

So now I am going to go bake some gingerbread and stop ignoring Cowboy and Dano :-D

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I have finally had roasted chestnuts! They weren't roasted on an open fire, but hey. Cowboy found a recipe online and roasted them in our oven, and we ate them when they were still warm, as if we were in a Sherlock Holmes story or a Christmas song.

I'd like to try some that were roasted over a fire, as they're supposed to get a smoky flavor going on. These were pretty good, though. They smelled just like baked ham, and tasted a little like it too. The only thing I didn't care for was their texture, which was akin to baked potato, and as we all know, I am not so much a fan of potatoes.

But still, I have now had roasted chestnuts, which I happen to think is quite cool.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Note to 007 filmmakers: stop trying to make James Bond into Jason Bourne!!!!! If I wanted to watch a Jason Bourne movie, I would have stayed home and watched one. I go to a Bond movie expecting a sleek, stylish ride in an Aston Martin, not a turbulent jouncing in somebody's old Jeep. I realize the Bourne movies are fantastically successful, but that doesn't give you a reason to copy them -- Casino Royale was fantastically successful too, on its own terms.


So yeah, I went to see Quantum of Solace yesterday. And it had its fun points, for sure. The Wondrous White Pants made another appearance, to great effect. There was a motorcycle. Daniel Craig is 100% enjoyable as Bond. I like Dame Judi Dench so much as M, I want to adopt her as my snarky great-aunt.

But most of the action sequences were a big disappointment. I know the herky-jerky, in-your-lap camera style is supposed to make us feel like we're in the thick of the fight or car chase, but these were shot so close and cut so quickly that I couldn't tell what was going on a lot of the time, and that's not cool. Even in the second two Bourne movies, which this seemed to be copying, I can still tell what's going on. In Quantum's opening car chase, I could barely tell who was chasing who. And during the fight on the scaffolding, I literally could not tell which guy was Bond and which was the baddie. And that's not just uncool, that's bad directing and editing. Never confuse your audience like that, people! You will only annoy them.

Also, the plot was kinda scattered. I love the tight focus of Casino -- it feels like riding a racehorse through a tunnel. Quantum feels like running a three-legged race on a golf course. It's way shorter than Casino, but feels longer.

And hey! Beating the snot out of people using an everyday object is Jason Bourne's turf! I think the number one thing that bugged me about this movie was the fight where Bond kills the guy with a cuticle scissors. The whole thing, from the guy bursting through the window through the death-by-manicure, just reeked of copying Bourne. Grr.

And I kept wanting the bad guy to be played by Sam Rockwell instead of this Mathieu Amalric guy -- Rockwell could've pulled off the skeezy thing with more fun and zeal.

That said, it's a fun romp, and it served the very important purpose of defunking me out of a seriously cranky mood. And it had the Wondrous White Pants. But it gets two Warheads for dragging in the middle.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I just passed the NaNoWriMo halfway mark! I now have 25,045 words written. Yay me! I hope to celebrate by going to see Quantum of Solace this weekend once Cowboy gets back from his business trip and I'm not a single mommy anymore.

And as if on cue, I hear Dano waking up from his nap. Adios!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

You know I lurve Wolverine. You know I lurve the X-Men movies. If you do too, you've gotta read this article on how they made Wolvie's claws for the movies!

(Many thanks to Noumenon for pointing me to this article!)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thanks to all your excellent input both here and via email, I have started a new blog to discuss my craftiness. The literal kind of craftiness, not the sneaky kind I get up to now and then -- I'll still post about that here ;-) Anyway, my new blog is at and you are hereby invited to check it out!

And don't worry, I'll still post about craft projects here now and then.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Did you know they make peanut butter-filled Oreos now? I guess I'd seen them a few times, but we tried them for the first time this weekend, and they're pretty good! About on par with the mint ones, I'd say. Like the mint ones, the filling isn't as sticky as ordinary Oreos, but other than that, they're grrrreat! They're not as strongly flavored as the minty ones either, just a nice chocolate-and-peanut butter mix.

And yes, they're of great assistance when one is pounding out 2,000 words a day. I'm past 16,000 words now, and I put a new snippet up last night.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

NaNoWriMo is going really well so far! I've made my word count every day so far, plus a little extra. I'm shooting for 2,000 words a day so I can take Sundays off and do stuff like go to a movie or just take a break.

This past Sunday, I went to the library and saw I Want to Live! (1958), the true story Susan Hayward got her Oscar for. It was quite cool -- I especially dug Simon Oakland as the reporter whose story inspired the screenplay... I'm used to him as the other sergeant in "The Long Way Home" (Combat!). And it was neat to see Theodore Bikel as something other than a Mountain Man or a Russian submarine captain obsessed with American scenery.

And in other news, I'm considering starting another blog. Yes, a third one. Because I'd like to have one to link to from my Huggermugger shop, a blog that deals with crafting and stuff like that. But at the same time, I feel like maybe I should just link to this one, and stop fracturing myself. I already have a seperate writing blog -- would a seperate crafting blog be too much? I like having this blog be mostly for friends and family, just talking about random stuff, and so I don't particularly want to link to it on Huggermugger. Hmm. Any thoughts, anyone?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

True Confessions time.

I can't open the bags inside cereal boxes. Either I yank and yank on them until they burst apart and spill cereal all over the kitchen, or else I never get them open and have to resort to using scissors.

The thing is, it wasn't always like this! I distinctly remember opening many a bag of cereal when I was in high school. Obviously, it's a skill I unlearned during college.

There, now you know.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I just made my first sale on Huggermugger! This afternoon I listed a set of three tiny crocheted snowflakes, and like an hour later, someone bought them! Wooooooo! I'm so excited about this, can you tell? I only started my shop 18 days ago, and already I've sold an item :-D And the money I made covers the yarn I bought on Saturday.

That's actually my main aim for my store: to make my crafting hobby pay for itself. If I can keep my restless fingers stocked with crafting supplies, then I'll feel successful. If I make a little extra spending money on the side, then that's bonus.

Oh, and in case you haven't noticed, if you look at the left column here, under my profile, you'll see a little advertisement with my shop. It shows the four most recent things I've listed, so it'll change somewhat almost every day.

And in other news... only four more days of freedom before Nanomadness descends!

Friday, October 24, 2008

So, I've obviously gone entirely mad. Again.

Yes, I signed up to do NaNoWriMo for the fourth year. I'm signed in as Hamlette as usual, and you can view my personal page here.

As you can see, if you visit my page, I'm doing fanfic this year. It's not strictly a novel, but instead a collection of short stories in which Sgt. Saunders tends to save the day. Which is why I'm calling the collection "Saunders Saves the Day," since it's nice to have a title to put on my the Nano profile.

I'm doing fanfic this year for a couple of reasons. One, I still haven't finished Salem, the novel I started for Nano last year. And two, I have a whole bunch of Combat! ideas bopping around in my brain, and this will be a great way to get several of them down on paper.

Actually, I had planned on skipping Nano entirely this year, but I've become something of an addict to this month of write-your-fingertips-off madness. Daniel is still taking at least two hours of naps a day, and that should be enough time for me to get my wordcount in. I just won't be able to do little chores like sweeping the floors or putting away laundry unless I've made my wordcount for the day already. Or at least, that's my plan!

And if you think I can't write 50,000 words of fanfic, well, my three Marc d'Yae stories ("Hide and Seek," "Finders, Keepers," and "Ashes, Ashes") total 46,499 words.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Do you ever wonder what your life would be like if just one thing in your past had turned out differently?

Last night, we stopped at the Walmart where I worked as a cashier between my freshman and sophomore, and sophomore and junior years of college. It was about 8:30 and the store was fairly empty, so when Dad and Dano and I got up to the registers, most of them had short lines. He chose the shortest, and to my sudden flummoxation, who should be the cashier at that line but a guy I was truly, madly, deeply infatuated with my first summer there: my Jedi Knight.

I had never expected to see him again. That was nine years ago! No way would he still be working at that Walmart, right? By now, he should have a great job writing music for cartoons, or at least be in Walmart management. But there he was, still cashiering. And my brain said, "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!" and crashed for about three seconds. To avoid talking to him, I picked Dano up from the cart so Dad would have to do all the interacting with the Jedi Knight, since a) my brain still wasn't all systems go, b) he probably didn't remember me anyway, and c) I suddenly felt really guilty that I have this awesome life now and he's still working there.

And then I began to wonder. What if he and I had gotten together that summer? Would I have gotten my AA from Bethany and then gone somewhere in NC for my BA? Possibly to App State, where he was going part-time? What if we'd gotten married? Would we both be working at Walmart still, maybe on opposite shifts so our kids wouldn't have to go to daycare? Or would his life have turned out differently too?

Totally pointless speculation, I know. And it made me realize just how great my life is. Sure, I live in a tiny apartment in the middle of a city, but I have a wonderful husband with a cool job, a beautiful and talented baby, and a writing career that's not exactly stagnating. Yay me!

But I think I should hire my Jedi Knight to be my writing muse, because I got not one but two new story ideas from this encounter. And nine years ago, he inspired dozens of poems (some of them pretty good!) and a fanfic story that I'm still really fond of. Weird, huh?

Friday, October 10, 2008

I am starting my own online craft shop! I call it Huggermugger, which is an archaic word from Shakespeare's time (it's used in Hamlet, natch) that means, among other things, "jumble." Since I will be selling a jumble of different kinds of items, I thought the name fit. My shop is hosted on, just like Jewels' store Knitsational. I only have a few things up right now, a bunch of these cute crocheted baby hats. Once I get home from NC later this month, I'll be adding more things, so stay tuned here and there! If you want to give handcrafted gifts for Christmas but don't have time to make them yourself, remember my shop, will ya?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

If you ever want to take the ferry to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, but you forgot to leave your pocket knife at home, there is a nice street vendor selling hats and t-shirts right outside the line for the ferry who will hold onto your knife for you for $10. I know, because we went there this weekend with Johnnycake and Dimples and a bunch of Cowboy's coworkers, and I forgot to leave my Swiss Army knife at home. The one Dad got me for my Confirmation. It was one of those hectic mornings, where Dano didn't wake up as early as normal, so I had to wake him up and then he was cranky, plus there were two extra people using the bathroom, etc. And I forgot to leave my pocket knife at home, even though Cowboy reminded me. We also forgot to bring along the water bottles we'd put in the fridge, or Cowboy's backpack to carry stuff. It was one of those mornings.

But other than me spending the whole time on the islands with half my mind worrying that I'd lost my Swiss Army knife for good, we had a lovely time. We all got to go up the base of the Statue of Liberty, we took a tour at Ellis Island, and we got to spend time with Johnnycake and Dimples, which is always pleasant. And when we got back to the mainland, the guy gave me back my knife! I was so happy, I tipped him $5. So all's well that ends well, as Ma Ingalls says in the Little House books.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

Dano fed himself with a spoon for the first time! Sorta. He was playing with a plastic spoon while I fed him breakfast, and he dipped it into his cereal and eventually got some cereal to his mouth. We had a repeat performance at lunch involving applesauce.

Now the real fun begins.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dano and I accompanied Cowboy on a business trip these last couple of days, and while we were away, I had my first professional massage! Thirty-five bucks for thirty minutes, and I felt like a completely new person when she was done with me. I think I would have anted up for another thirty minutes if Cowboy and his coworker the Secret Agent Man hadn't had appointments after mine. Sigh. If I had the money, I would get one every month. Maybe every week, if I was truly wealthy. It was divine.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What a crazy couple of weeks!

Two weeks ago, we got a couple of apartment-improvement projects done. First, we bought a dry-sink at the Salvation Army to use as a changing table because Dano is getting too heavy for the one we have that's attached to his crib. When we got it home and cleaned up, it turned from a dark cola color to this pretty molasses color. It works perfectly as a changing table -- there's a ledge all the way around the top, so Dano can't roll off accidentally, and the top is a sort of early version of formica or something, so it wipes up easily. Plus, I can put my diapers and wipes and other baby supplies in the drawer, and then underneath is just storage space. I can never have enough of that!

(Yes, that's Dano in the background.)

And then we finally put up shelves in the kitchen for our spices. There've always been these brackets above the stove where we could just put up a couple shelves, but we didn't get around to it for months and months. But Dano is now tall enough to reach the pantry shelves where we'd been keeping our spices, and I didn't feel like hunting all over the apartment under all the furniture to find the parsley or chili pepper whenever I cook, since he loves to just carry random things around the Crow's Nest. So we got some boards from Lowe's, I primed and painted them, and Cowboy installed them. Aren't they great?

Anyway, then last week, the cold Dano'd been nursing the week before got weird -- he started sort of wheezing, like every time he breathed, it sort of rattled or gurgled. So I took him to the doctor and got him some medicine (which makes him hyper, oh joy) and had to rent a nebulizer to give him medicated mist treatments like asthmatics have to have. But he's all better now, thank the Lord, and he took the last of his medicine yesterday, so maybe by tomorrow it'll be through his system and he'll go back to taking normal naps and not being so hyper.

So that's kind of why I haven't blogged for a couple weeks: I've been busy cleaning dry sinks and painting shelves and giving babies nebulizer treatments. Maybe this week will be calmer!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

From now on, I'm going to have to be sure I check inside the washer before I put any clothes in it. We have a front-loader, and we leave the door open to dry after every load. Dano loves looking into it, and I guess he also now likes putting things inside it -- he just reached in and pulled out a Cheerio. I know I didn't put a Cheerio in the washer, and I'm pretty sure Cowboy didn't either, which means Dano now thinks it's a nifty place to store stuff. Oh goody.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I'm not dead! Neither did I run away to join the circus. Dano and I were in NC visiting my parents since the 2nd, and we were too busy having fun for me to do more on the computer than check my email every few days. While there, we got to meet Lady Garand, so that was nifty. But now I'm so behind on blogging, reading friends' blogs, and keeping up with my Combat! groups that it's not funny. Honestly, it's not -- stop laughing :-D And to make matters worse, Cowboy, Dano, and I are leaving tomorrow afternoon to spend the week in NH. Cowboy has to go there for job training, so Dano and I are tagging along because a) it'll be fun, and b) we miss him. But my computer time there will undoubtedly also be limited/nonexistent, so who knows when I'll be in touch with the real world again. Er, I mean the online world. Anyway....

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dano started doing the cutest thing this afternoon: making little kissing noises! I tried to get it on video, but it was nearly nap time and he got cranky when I wouldn't let him play with the camera. Still, it was adorable, these little smacky kissy noises.

Today he also figured out how to turn on the hot water in the bathtub. At first he just turned it on a little, and was fascinated by watching the water come out, but then he turned it on more, and then he got scared. For some reason, he gets really upset if he's in the bathroom while Cowboy or I are taking a shower -- he gets all squirmy and whiny and worried. He started doing the same thing when he turned the water on more and it got louder. So maybe that'll keep him from playing with it all the time. (Know what 'fat chance' means?)

All day, I've had Coldplay's new song "Viva La Vida" stuck in my head. The lyric are rather... surreal, but I don't really pay attention to them anyway, the tune is the cool part. This is doubly odd for me, as I'm usually all about lyrics, and I don't like most of Coldplay's stuff because their songs never seem to go anywhere. Except this one.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

This is going to be a long, rambly, possibly not entirely coherent post. It may even get a bit maudlin now and then. I don't even know if you'll want to read it, but I need to get it out of my system, so here goes.

I went to see The Dark Knight yesterday.

I was not sure if I wanted to see this movie. Not sure at all. I figured it would be awesome, but I also feared I would spend the whole 2 1/2 hours in tears. Or at least every moment Heath Ledger was on screen. So I waited for Johnnycake to go see it last weekend and asked him to tell me if he thought I would want to see it on the big screen. He said he thought I ought to, so I figured maybe I would. Maybe. If Dano took a nap at the right time, if I didn't chicken out, if I wasn't busy doing other things like... alphabetizing my spice shelf. Cowboy predicted I would drive to the theater and then circle the parking lot and never make up my mind to actually go inside. Or I'd go in and decide to see something else. Like Space Chimps, cuz that just looks sooooo good.

But Dano took a nap just in time for me to run down to the car and... turn the wrong direction out of my driveway. Apparently, part of me wanted to go see the movie, but the part controlling the steering wheel wanted to go to the mall. I realized my mistake, turned around, and made it to the theater in time to stand in a very slow line for tickets where I had plenty of time to read through the show times for everything else currently running and see if there was anything else that I had any interest in seeing at all starting at about the same time. But nothing else started for at least another half an hour, not even Space Chimps. So I got my ticket for The Dark Knight and found a seat just as the hot dog stopped singing about popcorn.

I did not cry. Not once. I did hug my knees a lot. And chewed on my lower lip quite often. Watched some scenes from beneath lowered eyebrows. And spent quite a few minutes with my hands in a tent around my nose and mouth, because that's what I do when I'm worried/frightened by a movie. But I didn't cry. I did clap once, though. As did everyone in the theater -- I'll say this for Connecticut theatergoers: they are not afraid to clap and cheer.

But I'm glad I saw it. I think I needed to. I came out of it feeling empty, almost cleansed, as if I had rid myself of an oppressive mantle of gloom.

And it was a good movie. It had all sorts of deep themes and complicated emotions and complex characters. Very meaty. Even Maggie Gyllenhaal, who usually strikes me as a sort of off-brand Kirsten Dunst, pulled off her role with style.

Once again, my favorite character ended up being Jim Gordon. I completely dug him in Batman Begins, and he's even more wonderful in this. Of course, he's played by Gary Oldman, so odds of me liking him are pretty high, since I've never seen Oldman turn in a less-than-intriguing performance. Don't highlight and read this next part unless you don't mind spoilage. In fact, the closest I got to tears was when they killed Gordon off -- I would definitely have cried if I hadn't been so outraged. I spent the next section of the movie fuming that they had dared kill off such a morally upright character -- and that they never let him become Commissioner Gordon like he's supposed to! Then, of course, it turned out he wasn't dead after all, and that's when the whole theater clapped. Definitely one of my favorite moments in the movie.

I'd say the one thing I really disliked about this movie was Two-Face. Not that Aaron Eckhart portrayed him badly -- he did a good job, full of conflicted morals and juicy emotions. No, what I disliked was the makeup effects they used. They were so... unbelievable. One of the things I like best about this incarnation of the Batman world is that everything is fairly plausible. The Batmobile, Batman's gadgets and suit, even the bad guys and their weapons all seem like they could exist. The whole world feels very real. Very solid and... crunchy. But Two-Face looked too much like the Mummy, all stringy muscles and popped-out eyeball. I did not buy it at all. IMHO, cheesed-out Tommy Lee Jones in Batman Forever had more believable Two-Face makeup. I would have liked to have seen them go more Man Without a Face with it, because that would have been so much more believable.

But all in all, it was well done. And like I said, I'm glad I saw it, because I now feel very released.

Heath Ledger is dead. I wish it weren't so, but it is. Nothing will change that. He left behind one last brilliant performance, one worth me spending $8.50 to see it on the big screen. I don't think I will ever watch this movie again, but I'm glad I saw it.

Oh, and it got one Warhead.

Monday, July 21, 2008

"Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N." (1951) -- Initial Thoughts

Guess who I found at the library this week? Gregory Peck as Captain Horatio Hornblower!!! I just watched it this morning, and oh boy, is it a good one! It's going on my Christmas list straight away.

I've been wanting to see this movie ever since I first heard about it when I was introduced to the character ten years ago. One of my mom's friends loaned her three of the A&E Hornblower movies starring Ioan Gruffudd and told her about the old Gregory Peck version as well. Of course, I instantly fell madly in love with both Ioan Gruffudd and the character of Horatio Hornblower as soon as I watched the A&E movies. Although I regret to admit I haven't read any of the books by C. S. Forester, I'm hoping maybe this library will have them.

Anyway, great swashbuckling tale! Gregory Peck makes a wonderful Hornblower, as one might expect. And you know, he even almost looks a little like an older version of Ioan Gruffudd, so it all works very nicely. This movie is based on what I believe was the first HH book written, while the A&E series begins with the beginning of HH's career as a midshipman, which Forester seems to have written about later. This involves his affair with Lady Barbara Wellesley, played adeptly by Virginia Mayo. Of course, it also involves several naval battles and lots of fun sailorly stuff.

And now I'm totally in the mood for more Hornblowerful adventures, so I think as soon as Dano takes his next nap, I'm going to put in "The Duel." This is turning out to be a rather nice Monday after all!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Act III of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is up. It's incredibly Joss-ful. My comments are below, written in invisible ink so you won't get spoiled by them.

Um, wow. That took a sudden turn for the ultra-serious, huh? I totally did not see Penny getting killed, though I guess I should have, since this is Joss Whedon we're talking about. A show where a main character does not die is not a Joss Whedon show. Or something like that.

Dr. Horrible had a lot of thematic similarities to other Joss shows, don't you think? Dr. Horrible is like an older version of The Trio from season six of Buffy. Penny reminded me a lot of Anne Steele from season two of Angel, all helping the homeless and something of an angel herself, but somewhat willing to do whatever it takes to further her cause. The good guys aren't necessarily all that good, and the bad guys aren't pure evil. And, of course, a good character dies. How often hasn't that happened, huh? Hmm. Jenny. Angel. Buffy. Tara. Spike. Doyle. Fred. Cordelia. Okay, okay, on Firefly no one died, but Wash died in the movie follow-up, Serenity.

Anyway, I dug it, though no songs in part three are running manically through my head. But I've only watched it once, so that could change. Now I need to find time before it all disappears to watch all three acts in a row.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Act Two of "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" is now up!

I'd write more, but I'm going to go watch it again.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Duuuuuude! Joss Whedon has created a brand new art form! Okay, not exactly, but sort of. He's created an online episodic supervillain musical called "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog," and it's available for free until July 20, so you have to go check it out RIGHT NOW! Actually, only part one is available right this moment, with part 2 coming online tomorrow, and part three on Saturday. But you have to go watch part one right now because it is full of Jossful hilarity. Funny lines, silly songs, and oh, did I mention Nathan Fillion?!?!?!?! Yes. Nathan Fillion.

Mmmmm. Nathan Fillion. Here, have a random picture of him just because. It's not him as Captain Hammer, but it's a fun picture anyway.

I think I'm gonna go watch about 9 eps of Firefly. Okay, maybe 2. As many as Dano's naps will allow, let's put it that way.

Many thanks to DKoren for pointing me to this site!

(Oh, and yes, that's Doogie Howser in the title role. Just FYI, in case you ever watched that show. I didn't, but you might have.)

Monday, July 14, 2008

It seems the library has run out of musicals that I haven't seen before. I'm sure the whole library system has more that I could get through interlibrary loan, but for now, I'm going to sum up what I've seen over the last five months. I watched fourteen musicals, and here they are in order of how I liked them, from best to worst:

The Pirate
Royal Wedding
Yankee Doodle Dandy
Band Wagon
Easter Parade
Bells Are Ringing
Lullaby of Broadway
Love Me or Leave Me
Meet Me in Las Vegas
The Stars and Stripes Forever
42nd Street
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Actually "The Pirate" and "Royal Wedding" are kind of tied for second place -- I totally dug both of them.

It's been a fun five months, that's for sure. Hmm, should I see if the library has a lot of some other genre that I haven't seen and start reporting on them?

Monday, July 07, 2008

"Get Smart" (2008) -- Initial Thoughts

I went to see Get Smart yesterday. I laughed, I cried, it moved me, Bob.

Okay, the movie didn't actually make me cry. The trailer for Dark Knight did. When it ended, I realized I had both hands forming a triangle over my mouth and nose. That's usually what I do when I see something horrifying or shocking or scary. So yeah -- not at all sure I'll be going to see that. It might be just too doggone soon.

But anyway, Get Smart was really fun! I was hoping hoping hoping it wouldn't be lame or stupid or reduced to juvenile humor, because I love the original show. And I was not disappointed! It was a good mix of slapstick, one-liners, and gags, with just a little inanity thrown in. And they included so much of the original show, from the Cone of Silence to "Missed it by this much!" to Hymie to Siegfried to the old "explain what someone just did" trick. Dug it.

Plus, Dwayne Johnson! Though, can you believe this? He never appeared even so much as sleeveless! It's like he's starting to be taken seriously as an actor and not just a big, muscly guy. He has a good sense of comic timing, so this worked really well for him. And he looked better in suits than he did in The Rundown. Either they were tailored better, or he's been streamlining himself. Don't highlight the rest of this paragraph if you don't want to be spoiled: Of course, he turned out to be a mole, and I must admit I suspected that a while before it was revealed. Mostly because he turned evil in Doom, but also because he was being just a little too slick the whole time. But that's okay, he made a fun villain too.

And hey, has anyone else noticed how much Dalip Singh looks like Richard Kiel? I was convinced they must be related or something, but they're not.

Sadly, I must give Get Smart three Warheads. It got a little draggy a couple of times, enough for me to think, "Hmm, how about some more sour and tasty candy?" But I still really enjoyed it.

What I decidedly did NOT enjoy was this old woman sitting next to me. She was in her late 60s/early 70s, and there with her husband. When they first sat down, I thought maybe they would be really fun to be near, because they probably remember the original show and would laugh at all the references to it like I would. Plus, they were kind of a cute couple. He put his hand on her knee, and they were sharing a bag of popcorn and whispering. But then the movie started. And every single time something slightly implausible or unbelievable or don't-try-this-at-home-ish happened, this woman said, "Yeah, right." Out loud. Every time. And believe me, that got very old, very fast. Finally, about two-thirds of the way through, I waited for her to say it again, and when she did, I leaned over and whispered, "I'm sorry, ma'am, but you are really annoying to sit next to during this movie." And then I moved over one seat and sat next to two teen girls who were thoroughly enjoying the movie the way I was.

I did. I'm not making this up. I really did.

After the movie, before the girls left, I turned to them and said, "I just want you to know that you have great theater manners, and were much more fun to sit next to than an old lady who said, 'Yeah, right,' every time something happened." They giggled and said, "Thanks!" and left.

What is it with these Nutmeggers and their deplorable theater manners? First the evil mother who wouldn't take her child out of a movie that was scaring him, and now this hag! Yuck! It's a good thing I have neither the time nor the money to go see as many movies as I watched back in Ruralsburg, or I might end up punching people out or "accidentally" spilling slushies on them or something. Yeesh.

Monday, June 30, 2008

So Mom was here last week, Monday through Saturday. As usual, we had lots of fun. We watched the first five eps of season one of Bones, two movies (How to Steal a Million and Shadow of a Doubt -- mmm, Peter O'Toole and Joseph Cotten!), and a couple of NCIS eps. We also baked several batches of cookies (haystacks, peanut butter cookies, and cinnamon ice box cookies) and sent them off in care packages to the Leatherneck and Quikie (Cowboy's best buddy from college). We took Daniel on a walk downtown and toured our library (always a highlight of any visit!). Cowboy and I introduced her to Vietnamese food at a little place not too far from the Crow's Nest. AND on Thursday, Mom babysat Dano so that Cowboy and I could go out to celebrate our anniversary a few weeks late! It was the first time we'd been anywhere without him since he was born, so that was a bit interesting. It felt kinda wrong not to at least be talking about him at first, but we got used to it.

Then on Saturday, Cowboy, Dano, Mom, and I all went to Cambridge to visit Johnnycake and Dimples. It was our first time there, although they've visited us several times. They have a cute apartment (with air conditioners, swoooooon!), and Johnnycake showed us around the Harvard Law campus and other interesting sites near there. We went to three different bookstores, one pretty famous (the Harvard Book Store, one of the largest independently-owned bookstores in the country), one really tiny (the Grolier Poetry Bookshop, which is one of two poetry-only bookstores in the country), and one underground (literally -- a used and rare book store in a shop below street level). We all went to church with Johnnycake and Dimples on Sunday, and ate lunch at a Thai restaurant. Then we played Taboo while Johnnycake welded some chrome back onto The Tank for us. It was a short, but fun, visit. Mom is spending this week with them now, but Cowboy and Dano and I are back home.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Dano took his first solo steps today! He took two steps from the coffee table to where I was sitting by the computer. Now I'm really in for it!

(Will post tomorrow about the super fun week we had with my mom.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I've been tagged by Jewels on her Knitsational blog. Here goes!

1. What I was doing 10 years ago.

Waitressing and looking forward to my freshman year at Bethany Lutheran College.

2. Five things on my to-do list.

  • Read Albert Baker's new fanfic story "Full Moon"
  • Clean the bathroom
  • Sweep all the floors in the house
  • Catch up on email
  • Work on either Salem or my new fanfic story, "Unforgiven"

3. Five snacks I enjoy

  • Oreos
  • Popcorn
  • Pretty much anything chocolate
  • Practically any cookie
  • Hot chocolate

4. Things I would do if I were a millionaire

Invest most of my money so I can just live off the interest, pay off the rest of our car, and buy a house out in the country (preferably in WI or NC).

5. Places I've lived.

I was born in Iowa, moved to Michigan when I was three, moved to North Carolina when I was twelve, went to college in Minnesota and lived there for a year after I graduated, moved to Wisconsin and lived there for four years, and now I'm in Connecticut. Yeesh!

Now my tags:

Lady Garand

Lily Snape


If you don't wanna play, that's okay ;-) Don't feel obligated just cuz I tagged you!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dano and I are home from our big adventure. We spent the 7th through the 11th with Cowboy's parents, Banana, her Papoose, and Noumenon. Dano got to know his grandparents a little, and he and his cousin got along very nicely. He and I also went to visit ED and spent the night at her sweet little house. Man, do I miss living near her! We had so much fun going to a coffee shop, eating lunch at a drive-in, browsing her library, and watching a couple of movies. Good times.

On Wednesday, the 11th, DKoren picked us up in a rental car, and we drove off to our friend DocB's home for this year's Combat! fanfic Recon, dubbed Reconlan for reasons you will soon learn. We drove about 3 hours that night before stopping.

On Thursday, we drove about seven hours, arriving at DocB's around 4:30pm. The only squaddie to arrive before us was BQ, who had helped DocB decorate the front hall with USO banners and WWII posters. They also lined DocB's driveway with tiny USO flags so we'd have an easier time figuring out which house was hers. Other squaddies arrived throughout the afternoon and evening, including one all the way from Australia! We watched a C! ep in the evening, and when I sacked out at 12:45, the partying was still going strong.

On Friday, the rest of the squaddies arrived, including the Canada contingent. We spent most of the day just hanging out and watching a post-C! Vic Morrow movie called Target Harry that was surprisingly good. Dano adjusted to his new surroundings and started getting to know his new friends.

On Saturday morning, we cleaned up our HQ and got ready for our Guests of Honor, Conlan and Betty Carter. Yes, we got to meet the man who played Doc! He and his wife arrived around noon, and after spending an hour or so answering our myriad questions, he had lunch with us. Then he autographed our fanzines and anything else we proferred (such as my official Reconlan t-shirt, which was designed by Dimples)(yes, I was wearing it at the time). We kind of expected he would leave then, but he sat down in the living room again and visited with us until 6pm!!! He and his wife were both gracious and lovely, and I am honored to have met them both.

That evening, we played Combat! Trivial Pursuit and bid on all kinds of C! memorabilia Jen was auctioning off. I won a bunch of awesome photos, including one from my most favoritest ep ever, "Walking Wounded," and a spent shell casing from Franklin Canyon!

On Sunday, we watched a post-C! Rick Jason movie called Eagles Attack at Dawn (which took place entirely at night) and visited a militaria collectibles shop, where all I bought was a Bobbsey Twins book, go figure. We also went to Walmart and pooled our resources to buy gifts for some British troops that DocB befriended while in Iraq.

Quite a few squaddies headed out Sunday evening, but a few (including DKoren, Dano, and I) stuck around until Monday. Then we three drove to the airport and went our separate ways.

I think this was the best Recon yet! Atlanta was great, because I got to meet a lot of my fellow squaddies for the first time. LA was loads of fun, what with meeting Pierre Jalbert and tramping around Franklin canyon. But this one trumped them all, and not just because we spent six hours with Conlan Carter. For four days, I basically lived in a Combat! commune, surrounded by friends and having fun nearly every second of the day. It rocked! And we even managed not to trash DocB's house... much ;-)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Man, am I late in posting this or what? Johnnycake and Dimples were here all weekend, and since then I've been busy preparing for my upcoming trip (to visit my in-laws and then go to this year's Combat! Recon).

Anyway, last week's musical was Gypsy (1962). It added Karl Malden to May's selection of Unexpected Male Musical Stars. It was okay -- I didn't dislike it, but I didn't particularly like it either. It seemed to lack emotion and, I dunno, zing or verve or something. Rosalind Russell was competent in the role of Pushy Stage Mom, Karl Malden filled a Nice Guy role with alternate long suffering and bluster, and Natalie Wood occasionally shone in the title role of Gypsy Rose Lee. I think the best scene was when Gypsy's mother pushed her into her first burlesque appearance -- Natalie played it completely flat, no emotions, like she was sealing herself off from what she was about to do. It seemed really realistic and was probably the most poignant scene in the movie.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Praise the Lord! Dano's heart murmur is "innocent" and nothing to worry about, according to the pediatric cardiologist he went to today. Hooray!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dano is growing up so fast! On Thursday, he started cutting his first tooth, the upper right front one. On Saturday, the left top front top tooth appeared under the gum and the one on the left of it came through! The left front top tooth came through yesterday, and today, the tooth to the right of the top front one showed up and will probably come through in a day or two. Yikes!

And so far, he hasn't bitten me while nursing. What a nice baby! He used to chomp down a few months ago, and I pretty much broke him of that, so here's hoping :-D

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Um, yeah, so... wanna know my reactions to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull?

Giddiness. First and foremost, there's giddiness. It was all I could do not to actually cheer when the Lucasfilm logo appeared on screen and I truly realized I was about to see Indiana Jones on the big screen for the first time. On the way out of the theater, I had to try very hard not to start skipping. Or jumping up and down. Even now, nearly 24 hours later, I'm still giddy when I think about it, full of giggles I can't suppress. I'm actually thinking about ordering an Indy t-shirt online. Yeah.

It's not a perfect movie -- it's nowhere near as brilliant as Raiders of the Lost Ark. But I'd put it on par with Last Crusade, and it's head-and-shoulders above Temple of Doom (which I've only seen once and, despite my devotion to both Harrison Ford and Indiana Jones, don't wanna see again). The plot is complex, but not convoluted, and my suspension of disbelief was only over-stretched once. I'll put more spoily comments below, but put them in white, so only highlight them if you've seen the movie or don't mind spoilage.

Okay, the only time my disbelief was stretched instead of suspended was when they went over the three waterfalls in their little WWII Duck-like vehicle. That did honestly make me go, "Yeah, right." Other than that, I could go with everything as much as any other Indiana Jones movie. The aliens, the weird power of the crystal skull to communicate if you look in its eyes -- I could deal with those. Even Indy surviving a nuclear blast by hiding in a refrigerator (and surviving being tossed around in said fridge a whole lot) -- I could accept that. This is Indiana Jones we're talking about, after all.

I went into this movie hoping to like it, and I did. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to like Shia LaBeouf, who I was feeling the most iffy about pre-viewing. He had a good presence, good chemistry with Harrison Ford, he wasn't snotty enough to tick me off, but had a nice slightly rebellious thing going on. Plus, what a great entrance he had, so hat-tipping to Brando in The Wild One. I laughed out loud at that, which made a couple of people around me look at me funny, but it just tickled me.

So yup, I dug it, I hope to see it again next weekend with Johnnycake and Dimples ( who were supposed to come up this weekend, but J got a cold), and I expect to own it on dvd. It gets only one Warhead, so hooray for Indy!

Monday, May 26, 2008

I went to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull this afternoon. I'm a little too tired right now to blog about it properly, so let me just say this: when I got home, I still hadn't stopped grinning.

More later!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

"Jumbo" (1962) -- Initial Thoughts

I watched Jumbo (1962) yesterday. I think this must be my month for unusual casting, because first there was Peter Lawford in Easter Parade, then Clifton Webb in Stars and Stripes Forever, and now... Stephen Boyd?

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, he-who-played-Messala-in-Ben-Hur made a musical. He even sang a song, though I'm sure the voice was dubbed. And he actually looked quite at home, not just on the set of a musical, but in a circus tent! DKoren, if you've never seen this, you really should, because he is 100% lunchable here! He shows up in a turtleneck, and I normally loathe turtlenecks, because most people cannot wear them well (Val Kilmer being a notable exception). But Stephen Boyd doesn't just wear that turtleneck well, he makes it look sexy! And that's a pretty rare feat.

So anyway, the Jumbo in the title is a trained elephant who's the star of a little family-owned circus. Jimmy Durante and Doris Day are father-and-daughter circus owners and performers back when circuses had one ring and paraded down main street of every small town they set up near. Jumbo is an exceptionally well-trained elephant that this other circus owner wants. A lot. This other owner, played by Dean Jagger (what? Dean Jagger as a bad guy? Noooo!), has tried repeatedly to buy Jumbo, or the entire circus, but Jimmy Durante always refuses, even though he's up to his famous schnozz in bills and has a gambling problem.

Enter Stephen Boyd in a turtleneck. From the first time we lay eyes on him, we can tell he is Up To Something, but it takes most of the movie for Doris Day and company to figure that out as well. Mostly because he keeps distracting everyone by walking tightropes or wearing tight white t-shirts that show off all those muscles he acquired by driving chariots a few years earlier. After some skulduggery and remorse and penitence, there is a happy ending, and when you get to the part where they start singing about spangles and stardust, just stop the movie. Because they go on for about ten minutes, singing the same song in an ever-more-elaborate parade of costumes. So just end it after one chorus, and all is well.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Here is a pretty cool discussion of Shadow of a Doubt, the Hitchcock film that got me started on Joseph Cotten. It's on Todd Alcott's blog, which Noumenon just turned me on to. Todd Alcott was one of the screenwriters of Antz, among other things, and his blog is quite groovy. He's got great comments on all the James Bond movies too. If you're a movie nut who likes reading about movies (like I am), you'll probably dig him.

Monday, May 19, 2008

"The Stars and Stripes Forever" (1952) -- Initial Thoughts

My "new" musical last week was The Stars and Stripes Forever (1952), a musical biopic of John Philip Sousa that stars... Clifton Webb??? Yes, that's right, the very man who brought weasely Waldo Lydecker to life in Laura, eight years later plays a lovable, if very control-enthused, Sousa. He's got a beard and a much less nasal voice, and it's hard to believe it's the same guy.

Most of the musical numbers are either bands playing marches, or a few staged songs. On a whole, it was okay, though it never grabbed me the way Yankee Doodle Dandy did. I don't have much to say about it -- it was a solid biography of a man who wrote music.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Dano just crawled for the first time about four minute ago!

"Prince Caspian" (2008) -- Initial Thoughts

Just got home from Prince Caspian, and I have this to say: If your small child gets frightened by a scary battle and starts wailing, "I don't like it! I'm scared!" then for the love of Mike, take him out of the theater!!!!! Do not tell him to shush and make him stay in his seat. You are an unfit parent and I hope someday, someone straps you to a chair and dangles scorpions in your face.

As for the movie, I think I liked it. I didn't love it, but I liked it. In fact, I think I liked it better than The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. We didn't have to go through all the "introduce the world and its concepts" stuff, we just jumped straight into the action. And the plot felt more... unified. It gets two Warheads, though, for slowing down partway through and getting a little too much in love with faceless warriors building bridges and marching around.

Also, Edmund (Skander Keynes) doesn't do anything horrifically stupid in this one. In fact, he gets to save the day at one point. (Also helps that he's starting to be rather dashing -- by the time Dawn Treader comes out, we could have a hot young star on our hands.) Peter is still nice, but getting a bit stolid in his old age, lol. And Susan is pouty and annoying as always, plus she looks like someone's botoxed her lips. Lucy is still wonderful, but not quite as utterly charming as she was in the first movie.

They did get WETA to do more than just the armor and weaponry this time, but they also got four or five other FX companies as well. Sigh. Will they never learn?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I meant to watch a Bobby Darin movie yesterday to celebrate his birthday, but I just didn't have time :-( I've been busy this week proofing a Combat! fanzine, and the deadline to have it to the printers looms large on the horizon, so I didn't even have time to blog and wish him a happy birthday. But today I finished the proofing, and while I don't think Dano's going to give me a chance to watch a movie, I've at least been watching some YouTube videos. Dano and I are warring over whether or not he's going to take a nap this afternoon right now, and Bobby's been easing my troubled mind a little and mellowing me out. So here are three mellow Bobby songs:

Friday, May 09, 2008

Oh dear. I think I've got a crush on Peter Lawford. I just watched Easter Parade (1948), and oh my goodness! What is wrong with Judy Garland in that movie? Sweet, dashing Peter Lawford falls in love with her, and she refuses him because she's in love with Fred Astaire? Join me as I shake my head, squeeze my eyes shut, and say, "HUH?" Not that Fred wasn't playing a nice guy, but Peter's character was no slouch either. And I'm sorry, but Fred Astaire looks like some kind of insect, with a shiny head and sticks for arms and legs. Whereas Peter Lawford, especially at the tender age of 25, looks like... okay, the only comparison I'm coming up with is a slice of mocha cheesecake, smooth and rich and delectable. And did I mention he has dimples?

I admit it -- I'm a sucker for dimples. Cowboy has them, Dano's developing them, and yeah, if they're not doofy, over-emphasized dimples, but natural and only there when a guy flashes a roguish smile... bring me my swooning couch!

But wait a minute -- I've already got a fling going on this spring! I can't start crushing on Peter Lawford when I've been crushing on Joseph Cotten for a couple of months now! Ack! Too many handsome new men in my life! Ack! Whatever shall I do?

Yes, it's true, I got a thing for Joseph Cotten when I first watched Shadow of a Doubt (1943) a couple months ago. He's a bad boy in it, and he intrigued me, so I picked up Gaslight (1944) at the library the next week, and he was a good guy in it, and I was hooked. So then I watched The Third Man (1949) and decided I definitely need to find more of his movies. He's got this nice guy thing, mixed with a sort of lost puppy look sometimes, like a little baby Beagle that needs a home. Yes, definitely a Beagle. Whereas Peter Lawford is more of a sleek black Labrador.

I suppose I shall just have to deal with two new men in my movie life and keep finding more of their movies to watch. I do have Ocean's 11, so I can see Peter in that, and I have a couple of Joseph Cotten's movies recorded off tv that I've never seen yet, so I can keep seeing him as well.

Good thing my real love life is so uncomplicated!

Oh yeah, I liked Easter Parade a lot, although some of the numbers got a bit long and "why are we here?"-ish. But some, like "A Couple of Swells," were magical. I liked it a lot better than the first time I saw it back in high school, probably because I'm used to Fred Astaire now. This was the first thing I ever saw him in, and I didn't much care for it, being in a major Gene Kelly groove at the time. I still prefer Gene, but I'm used to Fred now. But of course, I mostly liked it better now because of Peter Lawford :-9
The Crow's Nest was filled with sadness last night. Dano slept all night in his crib for the first time. Which might not sound very sad, but the way it came about definitely was.

For the last three months, Dano's been sleeping in a travel bed on the floor next to our bed. At night, I mean -- he naps in his crib in his room. Last night, I put him to bed as usual and came out here to write in my journal, and he didn't want to go to sleep, so he cried. After ten minutes, I checked on him and patted him and told him to go to sleep. Ten minutes later, the crying had not diminished, so I went to check on him again. And he had managed to get out of his travel bed (I'm assuming he rolled out, but he might have gotten up on all fours, hooked an arm over the edge, and tumbled out) and slither his way to the door. He was trying his hardest to come find us. And for that, we banished him to the far reaches of his room :-(

He slept pretty well over there, despite the guilt-pangs his parents were suffering for their cruel treatment of such a sweet little boy. He woke up at the same times he always does to nurse, and that's about it. But still, we're so mean to reward his devotion that way :-(

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

I expected to post a birthday greeting for Rudolph Valentino here today. And probably link to something nifty on YouTube that celebrates him. Like this montage of Rudy's smiling scenes. Who can resist that grin or those eyes? Swoon. Rudy certainly knew how to cast a spell.

What I didn't expect to post today was a complete reversal of my opinion of Dano's pediatrician. We've been to her twice before, and I fully intended to talk to the receptionists today and ask to switch to another doctor in the pediatric group, because this doctor and I just do not mesh well. The first two visits, she was all about telling me what to do, not discussing different options, and was just really brusque and... okay, I'll say it: she was too much of a Yankee.

But today, this doctor was all smiley and friendly. She called Dano "cutie" like nine times and complimented what a strong, healthy boy he is. She discussed possible new foods for him to try and a time-frame for him to try them, rather than handing me a sheet of instructions and saying, "Follow this." In short, I would be wondering if she was either bi-polar or had an evil twin, but for one fact:

She's now pregnant. With her first kid. And this seems to have made all the difference.

So I'm sticking with this doctor, at least for now, although she'll be on vacation the next time I need to take Dano in, so I'll end up seeing a different doctor anyway. But yeah... rarely have I had my opinion of a real person so utterly reversed. I change my mind about actors from time to time (usually when I find out someone I'd labeled "airhead" or "pretty boy" actually has talent), but I can't remember the last time I decided someone I had strongly disliked was actually okay after all. Probably because people I dislike rarely have such a marked reversal in attitudes and personality.

And okay, I need to link to one more Rudy vid: "The Shiek's Physique," a short he filmed during his big dispute with his studio. They refused to let him make any movies, but he was able to make this short, which kept him in the public eye. If you watch nothing else, watch 0:50-1:00 of this -- it cracks me up every time I watch it.

And okay, okay, one more.

If that's too much smooching for you, check out The Menace Collection.

Happy birthday, darling Rodolfo!

Friday, May 02, 2008

I can't believe it's Friday night already! Where did this week go? Okay, part of it was taken up by a visit from Dad, albeit a brief one -- he arrived Wednesday evening and left last night, but we had a nice time while it lasted. He was here long enough for Dano to warm up to him and spend lots of time bouncing on his lap.

And now it's the end of the week and I'm ready to report on this week's musical: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967).

I didn't like it.

Partly I didn't like it because I think it was trying to be a clever commentary on the pointlessness of the business world, but it just came off as silly and improbable. More improbable than most musicals. Also, the only song in it I'd ever heard before was "I Believe in You," which I don't even like very much when Bobby Darin sings it.

But mostly, I disliked this movie because it starred Robert Morse. And he annoys me. He looks like the love child of Dave Barry and Dave Letterman and acts like a five-year-old. He has a nasal voice, rolls his eyes too much, and worst of all, whenever I see him, I'm reminded of this reeeeeeeeeeally freakish old movie called The Loved One, which he also starred in.

So of all the "new" musicals I've watched since February, I disliked this one most of all. In fact, it's the first one I've actively disliked, rather than just thinking it was not all that great.

Friday, April 25, 2008

"Royal Wedding" (1951) -- Initial Thoughts

Today, I watched Royal Wedding (1951), which stars Fred Astaire, Jane Powell, Peter Lawford, and Keenan Wynn. Kind of an interesting cast, huh?

Astaire and Powell play a brother-sister team of singers and dancers, but not all the musical numbers are part of their show. Jane Powell sings several songs as she falls for Peter Lawford, and Fred Astaire does two of his most memorable dance routines off-stage as well: dancing with a hat tree, and dancing on the ceiling and walls of his hotel room. Their numbers together on-stage are pretty good, particularly the classic "Why Do You Believe Me When I Tell You That I Love You When You Know I've Been a Liar All My Life?" :-D They had a nice, friendly chemistry, and you could believe they were siblings.

But I enjoyed the two supporting guys, Lawford and Wynn, most of all. I've only seen Peter Lawford in a handful of things like Ocean's Eleven and Easter Parade (which I barely remember and should really watch again -- maybe next week?), and I was unprepared for his dry, boyish charm. I may have to try to find more of his movies!

As for Keenan Wynn, well, who doesn't love Keenan Wynn? He's always funny, whether playing a Disney villain or an overbearing Combat! colonel (I did half expect him to belt out, "Don't just stand there suckin' on a prune pit!" in this). And he plays twins in this, one American, one British (a difference that is never explained), so we get several split-screen scenes of him confusing himself with British- and Americanisms.

It ended a bit abruptly, but not unenjoyably so. I think of all the "new" musicals I've watched so far this year, this is one of my favorites.

Oh, and how's this for some interesting trivia? According to, Jane Powell and I currently reside in the same county!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Yesterday, I tried out a new recipe for my birthday. I decided to make "Tuxedo Bars," so called because they have white and semi-sweet chocolate chips in them. I've had the recipe for years, but never got around to trying it. So I figured, hey, it's my birthday, I can make me whatever I want, right? Right.

Good thing I wasn't making them for someone else's birthday. They didn't exactly turn out the way I'd anticipated. After baking for almost ten minutes longer than the recipe suggested, the top was done and the bottom was done, and the inside was a gloopy mess. As they cooled, they fell, and the top cracked, so it looked like a dried-up watering hole in the desert. Never let me kid you and say that everything I bake is a masterpiece!

Once they were cool, I stuck the pan in the fridge, and eventually they got solid enough to cut. They're actually not too terrible -- sort of like funky fudge with a crust and a cracked top. Cowboy took a bunch to work and returned with none, so I guess I fooled the public with them. But it's not a recipe I'll be keeping.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

"Love Me or Leave Me" (1955) -- Initial Thoughts

This week, I watched a kind of unusual musical: Love Me or Leave Me (1955). It wasn't unusual in form or content, or in who it starred; it was a biopic of 20s jazz singer Ruth Etting and her gangster husband Marty Snyder, and it had lots of songs and dance numbers, all of the entertainer-doing-a-show-for-an-audience variety. It starred Doris Day and James Cagney.

Wait a minute -- Doris Day was a singer, James Cagney played gangsters a lot -- what's so unusual?

How about the fact that Doris Day played a pretty unsympathetic character? That strike you as unusual? She was manipulative, she was greedy for fame, she pouted and threw tantrums. Not the Nice Girl Next Door that she usually played.

As for James Cagney, while he played a crook and a jerk and a self-serving jackal, he actually ended up getting more of my sympathy than Doris Day. Because for all his faults, Marty Snyder really did fall for Ruth Etting, and she used him to get famous and then divorced him. There were a couple scenes where Cagney nearly had me misty-eyed.

Of course, it's a fictionalized account of their lives, so who knows what they were really like. But that's how they struck me in the movie.

Monday, April 14, 2008

We've had two Red Letter Days in a row here!

Yesterday, Dano and I were separated for the first time since his birth. For the first time in six months, I was more than shouting-distance away from him. I went to the library to watch a foreign film: The Wages of Fear. It's a French suspense film from the 50s, rather like cynical Hitchcock with subtitles. I was gone three hours and fifteen minutes, and when I got home, both Cowboy and Dano were still alive :-) Dano napped for almost half of it, so neither of them were too traumatized. But after an initial wide-eyed, jaw-dropped reaction when I walked in, Dano gave me the cold shoulder for about fifteen minutes, just to remind me not to make a habit of abandoning him to the devices of his daddy.

Today, I introduced him to solid food. I mixed a little baby rice cereal with some breast milk, and after he figured out we weren't playing some new gnaw-the-spoon game, he caught on pretty quickly. More than half of what went in his mouth ended up back out on his bib, but he did swallow some of it, so I consider that a victory.

Friday, April 11, 2008

"Meet Me in Las Vegas" (1956) -- Initial Thoughts

After a couple of weeks off, I'm back to watching and reviewing new (to me) musicals. This week it was Meet Me in Las Vegas (1956), starring Cyd Charisse and Dan Dailey. I'd never heard of this movie before, and that's probably because overall, it's not very memorable. It has some splendid moments, like Charisse dancing to a 50s jazzed-up version of "Frankie and Johnny" narrated by Sammy Davis, Jr. And I'm liking her ballet more and more -- until I saw Band Wagon a few weeks ago, I didn't realize how seriously good at ballet she was. Zowie! There are several numbers here that showcase her classiness, including one ballet that involves volleyball (yeah). And Dan Dailey gets to sing a couple times in his crumbly, down-home way that I can't help but smile at.

The premise is that a rancher-gambler discovers a that snooty ballerina is his lucky charm when they bump into each other in Vegas. This is the Rat Pack's Vegas, not CSI's, so no one ends up dead, they just gamble and bump into celebrities. Among those providing cameos are Frank Sinatra (of course), Peter Lorre, Vic Damone, Steve Forrest, and Debbie Reynolds. We also get treated to entirely superfluous songs by Lena Horne and Frankie Laine, I suppose to make us feel like we're really in Vegas seeing famous people at the casinos. If you watch really closely, you'll also catch a young George Chakiris, who went on to win an Oscar six years later for West Side Story.

Paul Henried and Jim Backus round out the real cast, as well as Agnes Moorehead. She's provides the most fun in the whole movie, as Dailey's sensible mom. She's less acid-tongued than in some roles, but still plenty feisty. The scenes with them all out at Dailey's ranch are my favorite part of the whole movie, hokey modern cowboys and all.

All in all, it was a fun enough way to spend two hours, but I can see why it's not on lots of top ten lists. Enjoyable, but not particularly enchanting.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

They have a new limited-edition Snickers bar out called the Indiana Jones Adventure Bar. It has a hint of coconut to it, but is otherwise like a normal Snickers. Of all the variations-on-a-Snickers they've come up with, this is my favorite, and not just cuz it's got Harrison Ford on the wrapper :-) I think that's because they're the most like a normal Snickers, and you really can't improve on those.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Mmmmm, I'm enjoying the last few swigs of the first cup of coffee I've made with an early birthday present from my parents: a personal-sized French Press coffeemaker. This thing is ingenious! And it makes tasty coffee, too :-) I have an espresso machine and a traditional coffeemaker, but they both require being plugged in, and the Crow's Nest's kitchen has limited counter space as well as a limited number of outlets. And Cowboy doesn't like coffee, so both of my coffee-making apparatuses are in their boxes, sitting on top of the fridge. Because I can't see using precious counter space for something only I use. Especially since I don't drink coffee every day.

So Mom found this French Press thingie at a local coffee palace and got it for me as an early birthday gift. It's perfect! It makes one cup at a time, I can adjust how strong I want it by how much coffee I put in, and it's easy to use and clean. What you do is put in coffee grounds (coarse grounds so they don't sneak past the filter), pour in hot (not boiling) water, let it steep for 4 minutes, and then press down on the filter, which squishes all the grounds down to the bottom. Then you pour out the coffee and enjoy!

You do end up with a little sediment at the bottom of your cup, but that's really just a bonus caffeine jolt :-9 And it's less sediment than I usually get from instant coffee. If you think this is way nifty, the brand I got is called Bodum and here's the exact model I got. Drink up, me hearties, yo ho!