Saturday, August 31, 2013

An Elegant Blogger? Me?

I'm not sure I've ever been described as 'elegant' before.  In real life, I lack the poise and finesse and clothes that I imagine one requires to be elegant.  However, Emma Jane has kindly bestowed the Elegant Blogger Award upon me, and humbly, I thank you, Emma Jane.  You're too kind!


The rules:

  • When you receive the award, link back to keepcalmandsparkle1099.blogspot.com and the blog that nominated you (in this case, For the Beauty of the Earth)
  • Display the award button in the post 
  • Answer all of the 12 questions given in this post (do not make your own questions) 
  • Nominate 8 bloggers (see below)
  • Notify them that they have been awarded.  

The questions:

1.  What made you start blogging?

A newspaper article.  Back in the fall of 2002, I picked up a newspaper in the break room at work and read an article about these new things called "blogs" that were cropping up all over the internet.  I'm not sure why I was reading the paper, as I always took a book along to read on my breaks.  Maybe I'd finished it or something.  Anyway, I decided to try my hand at blogging because I liked the idea of having a way to put my words before the public, as it were.  I'd graduated from college the previous May, gotten married in June, and kind of needed a new way to express myself, I think.

2.  What is your fashion style?

Comfy.  I wear jeans or denim shorts 6 1/2 days a week, and tank tops or t-shirts depending on the weather.  Many of the t-shirts are decorated with movie-related things :-D  

That other half day?  That's Sunday morning, when I dress up to go to church.  I love to wear jewel tones and brown, and I'm very drawn to long peasant skirts and simple tops.  These are similar to things I wear:




3.  What is something none of your followers know about you?

Dude, my mom, my husband, several in-laws, and three of my best friends follow my blog.  I'm not sure there's anything that none of them know about me.  But here's something you wouldn't know just from reading my blog:  I don't like ginger ale.  Shocking, I know.  Even more shocking is that I've spent 20 minutes thinking about this question.

4.  What are some of your blogging goals?

Throw my Tolkien Blog Party of Special Magnificence on my other blog without a hitch.  Finish the four unfinished posts that are waiting for me.

5.  Where is your favorite place to shop?

Etsy.  I try to only spend the money I've made from my own shop there, but when I'm getting gifts for others, I spend more.

6.  What would your ideal amount of blog followers be?

Enough that I get a comment or two on most posts.  Which I do.  I'm not real hung up on numbers of followers -- I don't blog to be popular.

7.  What are your talents?

Writing, music, baking, crocheting, learning new crafty things.

8.  Are you a leader or a follower?

I would rather not be a leader, but I tend to end up leading a lot of things because I have this drive to get things done, and if no one else is going to get them done, I'll step up.

9.  What is one of your favorite quotes?

One?  Just one?  Okay, fine:

"Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks; but I thank you."  (Hamlet in Hamlet, Act II, Scene 2)

I say that a lot.  In my head, anyway.

10.  Do you have a favorite book or series?

Yes, I do.  Here's a list of my 40 favorite books.  My favorite is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, if you don't feel like following the link.

11.  Out of all the synonyms for elegant, which would you describe yourself with?  (smart -- stylish -- dressy -- graceful -- dainty -- fine)

Um, none of those?  I'm smart, as in intelligent, but not as in stylish.  I care very little about styles, I don't like dressy clothes, I'm too klutzy to be graceful, I'm too much of a tomboy to be dainty, and um... fine?  As in fine china?  Not at all me.

12.  What is your favorite flower?

Daffodils!


Okay, now I'm supposed to nominate 8 bloggers.  I'm going to do 9.  Because I can.  Bwahahahaha!  They are:


Play if you want to!  Don't if you don't.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"Planes" (2013)

I saw Planes twice this weekend.  Not because I loved it (though I did like it), but because my five-year-old son wanted to see it, so I went to see it myself on Saturday to make sure I approved of it and that would meet his stringent requirements of Nothing Scary and No One Gets In Trouble.  It did, so I took him to see it on Sunday.  It was his first time seeing a movie in the theater, and I think he may have slept about twelve minutes the night before, he was so excited.  He did amazingly well -- by the time the trailers were finished, he'd gotten into the groove of only whispering, and he didn't get impatient or want to leave before the movie was over.  When it ended, his two thoughts on seeing a movie in the theater were, "It sure was dark!" and "I need to go home and run around -- that was too much just sitting."  He did like the movie, and wants us to buy it on DVD so he can show it to his sisters.

Fortunately, I enjoyed the movie.  Once again, I'm annoyed by what critics are saying.  I don't think this is a Cars retread.  Yes, there are similarities.  Dusty is a rookie racer, like Lightning McQueen.  Skipper is a crusty mentor, like Doc Hudson.  Chug is a rustic, goofy friend like Mater.  However, you can find the same types of characters in many sports movies, like Rocky (1976) (Rocky's the rookie/underdog, Mick is the crusty mentor, Pauly is the goofy friend) or The Natural (1984) (Roy Hobbs, Red, and Pop fill those roles).  These are character types that resonate with audiences, that's all.

And the story line and themes are very different too.  Cars is all about realizing that friends and integrity are more important than winning.  Planes is all about being true to yourself, following your dreams, and being honest.  Very different, folks.

Did I love Planes the way I love Cars?  No.  Planes is lighter and doesn't hit as many of my sweet spots.  But I will greatly enjoy watching this once a week for months, as I undoubtedly will be as soon as it comes to DVD.

Is it family friendly?  Yes.

Oh, and I chose to use this particular poster because I got a huge kick out of Val Kilmer and Anthony Edwards doing the voices for the fighter planes.  They even designed their little canopy thingies to look like their characters' helmets in Top Gun (1986).  I dig it!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Library is Done!

Today, I hung up the last of the artwork I got framed for my library, which means it's now completely decorated!  Not only that, but I'm done decorating most of our house, other than the kitchen repainting project that I'm in the middle of.  More on that some other time when it's going better, but for right now, pictures of the stuff in my library!

I got these all framed at the local frame shop, and while it was more expensive than I was expecting, the results also surpass my expectations, so yay!

The first three are taken from a calendar I bought from the Etsy shop ImmortalLongings a couple years ago.

Hamlet

Much Ado About Nothing

The Taming of the Shrew
I bought this next one online a couple years ago, intending to frame it and hang it up when I had my own house some day.  We've been in Tir Asleen for over two years now, so it's high time I got this done, don't you think?  Anyway, Richard Burton is one of my favorite Hamlets, and I love this pensive shot.  The framer built a deep frame for this so that the whole magazine can be included instead of just the cover.


And this last is the Playbill from when I went to see Hamlet on Broadway a few years ago.  Yes, that's Jude Law, and yes, he was wonderful.  You can read what I thought of it here.


So, here are a few shots of how these are grouped in the library, along with the quote decal I put up a few months ago.




And yes, there's all kinds of stuff piled on top of all my bookcases.  About the only way I can keep a lot of things away from my kids.  And yes, my house is full of so much light that even on a rainy day, I can't get good pictures of these that don't have all kinds of reflections in them.  Did the best I could.

The two magazines are opposite the wall with the quote on it, and the lone Hamlet is opposite the two comedies.

Anyway, I love my library even more now!  Kind of spent a lot of time today just wandering around and admiring the pictures :-)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Joss is on the cover! Joss is on the cover!

Just pulled this week's edition of Entertainment Weekly out of my mailbox, and look who's on the cover:


Wooooooooooooooooo!  If you're not a subscriber, go pick up a copy at the book store or something.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

"Taken" (2008)

My Mom says that Taken is about a parent's worst nightmare.  I say it's about a stupid parent's worst nightmare, because what intelligent parent would let their seventeen-year-old daughter go to Paris with an eighteen-year-old friend?  Not a single chaperone in sight, just the promise of them staying with the friend's cousins.  That's just asking for trouble.

Also, they stole their tagline from the Harrison Ford movie Frantic (1988), which had "They've taken his wife.  Now he's taking action."  Which was also set in Paris, IIRC.  Hmm.

Okay, so yeah, the plot of this is that ex-CIA agent Bryan (Liam Neeson) has an ex-wife (Famke Janssen) and a pretty daughter named Kim (Maggie Grace).  Kim goes to Paris, gets taken by bad guys, and Bryan goes to rescue her.  Lots of violence ensues.

The most interesting part of the movie, for me, is how well the writers utilized the classic "quest myth" structure.  (This is totally spoily, just so you know.  Skip this paragraph if you want to avoid the spoilage.)  We first see our hero in his home environment so we see what he has to lose and/or gain.  Then he gets the call to action, which in this case is a literal phone call from his about-to-be-kidnapped daughter.  He calls on a magical helper, a fellow agent, to help him out before he sets off.  He flies to Paris, entering a mystical woods of unknown surroundings.  A frenemy there serves as the threshold guardian, warning him to turn back and go home.  Bryan ignores him and heroically goes after his prize/daughter, overcoming all obstacles the villains throw at him.  He enters the lion's den and gets captured, and almost has a symbolic death and rebirth, though not quite.  He confronts the villain there, but learns of another villain, so has to enter another lion's den and confront the other villain.  And then he gains his prize/daughter.  We end with him returning the prize to his usual world, where he is welcomed and praised for his efforts and successes.  About the only things he doesn't have that could get crammed into this are a sidekick and a mentor.  He even meets up with a lot of the female archetypes, such as woman-as-whore and woman-as-mother and woman-as-virgin.

Pretty classic stuff for an otherwise kind of forgettable action flick.

It was neat to see Maggie Grace in something other than Lost, and Famke Janssen's character was kind of like a less-loving version of the mom she played in Don't Say a Word (2001), which also involved a kidnapped daughter.  Hmm.


If you want to know more about all this "quest myth" mumbo jumbo I'm rambling about, I suggest reading The Key:  How to Write Damn Good Fiction Using the Power of Myth by James N. Frey or The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell.  They will expand your mind.  In a good way.  The former is technically a how-to-write book for writers, but it can be fascinating to non-writers too.  The latter is really long and I haven't managed to finish it yet, though I need to.

Is this movie family friendly?  No.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Is There a Pig Inside the House at Longbourne?

Okay, I'm going to address all this nonsense about there being a pig in the Bennet house during the 2005 Pride & Prejudice once and for all.  I found my mom's copy, found the infamous pig scene, and shall now examine the evidence.

First, the pig comes swaggering past an open door:


Next, Mrs. Bennet stops beside another open door at the top of some steps and calls through a little room, toward where the pig was:


Last, Mr. Bennet follows the pig into view outside that first open door and engages Mrs. Bennet in a little conversation:


Now, examine these pictures.  What's that beneath the pig's feet?  Looks like sawdust or chaff to me.  Not floorboards or even flagstones, certainly.  When you look at Mr. Bennet, you can see all kinds of things wrapped in fabric and hanging from hooks -- those look an awful lot like cured meat to me, at least compared to what I've seen at all the living history places I've visited over the years.  That is clearly some kind of cellar or place for storage, possibly even open to the elements a bit -- you can see sunshine pouring in from behind the pig.  The flooring in that dividing room is dirty slabs of stone, probably some sort of entry way where the servants bring things in, store things for the kitchen, whatever.  The chair we can see in the first picture certainly doesn't belong in any of the nice interior rooms where the family lives.  The walls in the middle room aren't painted either.

But look at where Mrs. Bennet is -- that's the part of the house where the family lives.  There we see painted walls and some sort of light fixture.  It looks to be the hallway leading to the front door, as several of the girls race past her in a few more frames, all ready to go to town to see the militia. 

So.  Do the Bennets have a pig in their house?  No!  They have a pig being herded by Mr. Bennet and an employee through a storage area (underneath the remains of some of its previous companions, no doubt -- the pig's, I mean, not the employee's).  The only animals ever seen in the house itself are a couple of dogs.  Fitting household companions for a gentleman.

Ladies and gentlemen, to me it is clear:  no pig in the house.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Theory Concerning Differences Regarding Jane Austen, Etc.

For a while now, I've been formulating a theory about why I enjoy both the 2005 and 1995 versions of Pride and Prejudice, while others would rather give birth to a watermelon than ever admit that there is any worth in the 2005 whatsoever.  Okay, I exaggerate (I think), but it's the myriad discussions about the 2005 P&P that got me thinking about this.  And then I was reading the introduction to the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Persuasion (2003), written by Susan Ostrov Weisser, when I had an epiphany.

Weisser says:
"Those who are attracted to Jane Austen because of nostalgia for the stability of class and clarity of old-fashioned values in picturesque English villages..."
And I realized that that is probably the difference!  That most of the people who revile the 2005 P&P because it has pigs and dirt and unkempt hair and too much sarcasm and untucked shirts and all the other minutiae that get cited as wrong -- the reason those people hate it is because they want to believe that once upon a time, people were much nicer than they are now, and life was simpler and therefor better, and everyone knew their place and how they should behave and where they belonged.

And while it's true that in Jane Austen's day, there were more rigid hierarchies and more conservative social mores and clearer expectations of how people should behave, I do not believe that people were nicer or better than they are now.  People since Adam and Eve have all been filled with original sin, and while sometimes society as a whole conforms more strictly to one set of values or another, that doesn't mean they were better or worse.  People are still people.  Life is still life.  And when you live in a rural setting, there will be dirt.  There will be animals.  Women who are spirited and given to walking for several miles until they look positively wild will not always behave in a perfectly ladylike manner.  Rich men will behave the way they see fit, knowing people will cut them slack because they have money.  Gentlemen who are not particularly rich will have to be more closely involved in the workings of their farms than gentlemen who have plenty of money.

So.  Because I'm not particularly attached to the idea that things and people were all that different in the past, I like movies and shows and books that portray real people doing real things in a way that strikes me as realistic.

What do you think?  Can we discuss this without getting bogged down in minutiae?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

"Return to Me" (2000)

So, this is possibly the sappiest, corniest love story I have ever liked.  And I really do like it!  Can you believe that?  Hamlette, scorner of all that is mushy, implausible, and predictable -- Hamlette has seen this movie four times.  Of my own free will.

Because it's really sweet.  And it has these four cranky old guys, and I have to admit, I love cranky old guys.  Not mean old guys, that's a way different thing.  But cranky, growly, crusty-on-the-outside-and-gooey-on-the-inside old guys?  Love them.  In real life and in movies.  And books.  And TV shows.  (This bodes well for my husband in forty years.)  Also, David Duchovny cries really well.

Okay, so the completely implausible and corny story is this:  Whatshisname (David Duchovny)'s wife dies.  Whatshername (Minnie Driver) gets his wife's heart as a transplant.  Whatshisname and Whatshername meet.  They fall in love.  The four cranky old guys (Carroll O'Connor, Robert Loggia, et al) aid and abet this romance with lots of great old music from Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, etc.  They even have a discussion about who the greatest crooners of all time are, and Bobby Darin gets a mention.  Score!

Of course, then complications have to ensue because Whatshername finds out that it's Whatshisname's dead wife's heart that's now beating madly in her chest whenever she sees Whatshisname, enabling her to ride a bicycle, and generally making all of Whatshername's wildest dreams come true.  Whatshername is convinced that if Whatshisname finds out, he'll always think of his dead wife when he sees her, and it'll freak him out or make him sad or... something.  Reasons, ok?  Because of reasons.

But all ends well (sorry, kinda spoiled it all there, didn't I?  On the other hand, if you couldn't see all of this coming from about the first 4 minutes of the movie, you're a dimmer man than I, Gunga Din) and everyone lives happily ever after.  Except Whatshisname's dead wife, of course.

I was going to go back and plug in the character names after looking them up on imdb, but I think it makes just as much sense this way, plus it amuses me.  "And precious little amuses me, at my age."  (Quick!  What's that from?)

Yeah, I need sleep, don't I?

Oh, but if you name your movie after a Dean Martin song, would it kill you to play it during the finale or something?  Not just once at the beginning?  We Dino fans would greatly appreciate it, 'kay?

Hang on -- forgot to say if this is family-friendly or not.  There's a surprising amount of profanity, most of it supposed to be funny as James Belushi's character cusses at his kids to try to get them to stop cussing.  I don't find it funny.  But there's no nudity or love scenes or even kiss-and-fade-to-black scenes, though there's a lot of innuendo that a married couple like to have sex.  Shocker!  Married people have sex!  EEEEEEEEEEEEIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!  Run away!  Run away!!!!!!!!!

Must.  Sleep.  Now.

Monday, August 12, 2013

"The Violent Men" (1955)

Well, no wonder I found Glenn Ford so compelling and attractive in this!  It was released the same year as my beloved Blackboard Jungle.

Okay, so anyway... this is not a great western.  But it's a reasonably good one.  The plot is your standard "rich guy trying to force the poor ranchers and farmers to sell their homes so he can have all the land, bwahahahahahaha!"  It actually reminded me a great deal of Gunfight in Abilene in that respect, and also because the hero is very reluctant to strap on a gun and be the hero.

John Parrish (Glenn Ford) came west a few years ago for his health after getting shot through the lungs while a cavalry captain during the Civil War.  Now he's ready to marry an annoying brunette named Caroline (May Wynn), sell his ranch, and move back east to start his life over again.

But this rich guy named Lew Wilkison (Edward G. Robinson) is trying to acquire all the land in the whole valley by any means necessary.  He promised his wife Martha (Barbara Stanwyck) years ago that he would give her the whole valley, and for twelve years he's been stymied by farmers and small ranchers like Parrish.  During the initial range war years ago, Wilkison got shot and has been crippled ever since.  His wife persuaded his brother Cole (Brian Keith) to come help run the ranch.  His daughter Judith (Dianne Foster) is convinced that her mother and uncle are plotting against her father, but Wilkison won't listen.

Judith arguing with Parrish

The first twenty minutes consist of Caroline and her parents insisting Parrish sell his ranch and go back east, while every one else in the territory is trying to convince him not to.  Guess which he decides?

The title is really accurate -- once the violence starts, it's nothing but beatings and shootings and burnings for quite some time.  I'm pretty sure only about three pieces of the set remained standing by the end.

Okay, so much for the story.  What I really want to talk about here are the characters and acting, and this is going to get spoily, so skip down to under the picture of the four Wilkisons if you think you want to see this and don't want to know lots of details and how things go.

First, Glenn Ford as John Parrish.  Yowza!  He is looking prime in this movie, all square shoulders and jaw, lean and sharp and dangerous, but with that yummy Glenn Ford sweetness too.  Also, he spends a lot of time on a horse, and while he rides in that older style with his arms up in front of him (which can't be comfortable), he also spends a lot of time mounting and dismounting, which is a joy to watch.  Especially the one scene where he dismounts before his horse has quite stopped, so he swings his right leg over, kicks his left foot free of the stirrup and slides down, all in one smooth motion.  Also some wonderful instances of him swinging up onto his horse without using the stirrups, which... okay, honestly, it's one of the sexiest things a guy can do, in my opinion.  It swoonifies me instantly.  To be that good a horseman, to be in that kind of shape... yeah.

Also, he has this really lovely horse.

Sorry.  Digressing, I know.  I really liked Parrish as a character, because he was full of integrity -- he stayed by his decision to sell and leave until the Wilkison's lied to him and tried to bully him, and only then did he decide to stay and fight.  And once he'd made that decision, he stuck by it even though his fiancee tried everything in her (inconsiderable) power to change his mind and make him take her back east.  When he wouldn't, she gave back his ring and left in a huff, and good riddance.

I think my favorite moment in the whole movie was when Parrish warned the Wilkisons that if they pushed him into fighting them, they wouldn't like his style of war at all.  Ford played it perfectly, quiet and calm and deadly serious.  Mmmmm.

No, my favorite moment is when Parrish finally picks up a gun and goes off to avenge the murder of one of his ranch hands.  He squares off, slyly and smoothly, against a hired gunman (Richard Jaeckel), and you feel through the whole scene that he's just playing with his opponent.  It's beautiful -- I may end up buying this mostly on account of that scene (and all that horsemanship).

A cat toying with a mouse that thinks it's the cat.

But let's not neglect Barbara Stanwyck!  Not that she'd let us.  Her Martha Wilkison is like a negative image of her Victoria Barkley from The Big Valley.  Both are strong-willed, determined, wealthy women who have helped their husbands build an empire in the west through hard work and shrewd business savvy.  But while Victoria Barkley is also strong morally and ethically, Martha Wilkison seems to have no morals at all.  She's willing to do absolutely anything to get what she wants.  And by anything, I mean sleep with her brother-in-law, try to murder her husband, manipulate her daughter, lie to everyone about everything... yeah.


In fact, the whole Wilkison household reminds me a lot of Hamlet.  Martha is an evil version of Gertrude, trying to get Cole to be her Claudius and help her get rid of Lew-as-King-Hamlet so the two of them can rule the kingdom.  Judith is young Hamlet, all suspicious of her mother and uncle's actions.  Only in this version, it's Martha/Gertrude who does the murdering, while Cole/Claudius sees her for what she is and tries to leave... but then comes back when Lew/King Hamlet is out of the way so he can usurp the ranch/throne.  Very nicely done.

Brian Keith, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Dianne Foster

Okay, so, yeah.  Not a great movie, but an enjoyable one with some intriguing themes and characters.  Would I recommend it?  Only if you're a fan of westerns, Glenn Ford, or Barbara Stanwyck.  Don't see it just for Brian Keith, cuz he spends all his time slumping and leering and being kind of cartoonishly villainous.  Except for the scene where he tells Barbara Stanwyck off for loving the ranch more than him, that was quite good.

Is this movie family friendly?  Well, good triumphs over all the evil, there's no bad language and no graphic violence, though there's an implied extra-marital affair and a good bit of pawing and smooching.  But overall, it's about as family friendly as a movie called The Violent Men can get.

He has two guns, one for each of you.  And a coat and hat I covet.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

"The Great Game" (2010)

(Source)

This is the third -- and final -- episode of Sherlock's first season, and I think it's my favorite so far.  Partly, that's because it really suited the longer format.  I think "The Blind Banker" suffered from being an hour-long plot that got stretched out, but this one filled every minute with important stuff.

The backbone of this episode is based on the canon story "The Bruce Partington Plans," which is not a huge favorite of mine, but I like it fine.  But then it threw in a very twisty ticking-time-bomb thing.  And then another.  And another.  And kept upping the stakes and cranking up the tension until my heart was actually thudding in my chest by the end.  Really well paced, scripted, acted, etc.

Random note -- I totally dig Rupert Graves as Detective Inspector Lestrade.  He's competent, but not brilliant, and so very annoyed at how he really does need Holmes' help.  I keep feeling like I've seen him somewhere, but all I can dig up is that he played Freddy Honeychurch in the 1985 version of A Room with a View, which I saw about 15 years ago and barely remember a thing about, so it's not that.  Huh.

Watson, Holmes, and Lestrade

(SPOILERS AHEAD.  Skip to below the picture of Holmes looking pensive if you don't want them.)


And we got to meet Moriarty!  Oh my.  He's completely off-the-wall wacky, which makes him really scary in his unpredictability.  I was totally not expecting him to crop up already -- I thought they'd have him lurk about until the second season.  And goodness, can Andrew Scott ever chew the scenery!  By the time the episode ended, I was surprised the building was still standing after how much he'd gnawed on it.

Moriarty (Andrew Scott) about to take another bite

Also, holy horrifying cliffhanger, Batman!  I won't get to start season 2 for a couple of weeks -- woe is me!


So.  Yeah.  Wow.  Great episode, can't wait for more.  Totally putting this on my Christmas wish list!

Thursday, August 01, 2013

"Arright. Let's do this."

Over the past couple of months, several people have asked if I'd be willing to share the story of how I met my best friend, Deb Koren.  I have four best friends, and I met three of them in fairly conventional ways (4-H group and college), but the friendship between Deb and I has a more unique origin story.  With her permission, I've decided to share it here.

It all began on this train to the little town of Colby.  I'd finally finished earning my law degree and was heading home for the first time in far too long.  And Deb was on that train too, but while I was in a fairly comfortable passenger car, she was manacled and chained up in a cattle car, on her way to face justice...

...no, sorry, that's our alter-egos.  

To tell the truth, it all started one night back in June of 2005.  Cowboy and I worked third shift, and I had the night off, but he was working.  I was bored and decided to search LiveJournal for bloggers with similar interests.  One of the things I searched for was "Vic Morrow."  One of the journals that popped up belonged to Deb, and I started reading post after post after post, leaving her comments all over the place as I discovered more and more interests that we shared.  Combat!, old movies, westerns, John Wayne, writing... the list went on and on and on.

As far as I can tell, this post is where she first commented on my blog.  Her comment is dated June 14, 2005, so we probably first 'met' a day or two before that.

By the end of a week of exchanging blog comments, I was calling her my friend.  We exchanged email addresses when it became obvious that blog comments just weren't good enough.  (Eight years later, we still exchange multiple emails most days.)  For several years, we also had long instant-messenger conversations every evening before I went to work.  

About eleven months after we first met online, we met in real person.  Deb flew to WI and spent four or five days with us.  We read each other's NaNoWriMo novels from the previous November.  We watched lots of movies together.  Deb got horribly sick.  Her sister thought she'd been kidnapped.  Good times!  

The funniest thing happened during that first visit.  One day, I showed up at her hotel to pick her up, wearing my "The Force is strong in this one" t-shirt.  When she opened the door and saw me, Deb began to laugh and laugh and laugh.  She pulled off her sweatshirt to reveal... the exact same shirt!  Neither of us knew the other owned it, but we both knew the other would get a kick out of it, so we quite randomly wore it on the exact same day.  Thus started a long, long tradition of (purposely) wearing the same t-shirts at the same time, which we've continued on most of our get-togethers.

Yes, get-togethers.  As in, multiple ones.  All told, in the eight years we've known each other, we've gotten together seven times.  I've met her whole family, she's met my whole family and some of my in-laws... it's awesome.  We've seen a bunch of movies together in the theater (we're both nuts about movies, and about many of the same movies), and we've developed a way to watch movies together even when we're on opposite sides of the continent:  we start them going at exactly the same time, then discuss them via instant message as we watch.  It's crazy fun.  Only works for DVD/VHS/digital, though.  BUT we have been known, on occasion, to surreptitiously call each other from a theater while watching a movie just so the other person can hear a bit of dialog that they love.  Can you imagine answering your phone on a bad day and hearing Thor say, "You give up this poisonous dream!  You come home."  I tell you what, I gave up all my poisonous dreams right then and there.

So yeah... that's the story of how Deb and I became best friends, beginning eight years ago and continuing to this day.  I was going to illustrate this with a picture of us together, but I can't seem to find any where we both aren't grinning like total goons, which we tend to do 99% of the time we're together.  So I'll leave you with a shot of our alter-egos:


That's totally us.  Except we're closer-matched in height.