About my camera? I won't say it, but you know what I'm thinking.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Well, you know what I always say. There's no stopping two girls armed with excellent taste, a goodly supply of wine, and a cheeseball. And tonight was no exception. My fellow music-o-phile (is that a word?) Christa and I got together for food, fun and a little light mixing. The resulting CD is something we plan to copy and distribute to family and friends in lieu of Christmas cards.
That's right, just another of our little Holiday Projects.
I'm listening to the resulting mix CD is I type this entry and, people, it's groovin', not to mention eclectic. We didn't limit ourselves except that we should only contribute cuts from the CD's that are so wonderful they seem to have taken up permanent residence in our usual CD rotations throughout the year. There's some really old stuff, some ultra new stuff. We took turns contributing cuts and you'll just have to guess which are whose. More than likely, if you're a regular reader and I know who you are, you are already on the mailing list to receive the "'06 Mix" as I've taken to calling it. If I don't know you or your mailing address, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and you too can enjoy a copy with our compliments. I expect we'll have them burnt and in the mail within the week just because we love you.
In other news, just to bring ya’ll up to speed, I still have my bangs, and I’m still living in Satan’s house and married to Satan despite his protestations about the state of my bangs and threats of eviction due to said banging. I did not receive a large suitcase for Christmas.
HOWEVER, that’s not to say Satan is taking this bang thing sitting down. No siree. Satan’s New Strategy is to ceaselessly and relentlessly point out bang-free women to me. Yes, people, it is searingly effective.
For example (as we’re watching TV):
(referring to beautiful model type in a commercial) See, now THERE’S a woman without bangs. Oh, yah, SHE SURE IS UGLY.
Um, hello? That woman is a supermodel.
(not pausing for a breath) Oh, YAH, she looks SO BAD without bangs. JUST PLAIN UGLY, you might say.
With a face like that, she’d look okay without hair.
OH, NO! Wouldn’t want THAT hair-do WOULD WE?
Okay, let me explain this to you, that woman has a whole different face, body type and ethnicity than me…
Yep, can’t imagine why that woman wouldn’t want her a nice SET OF BANGS.
She looks totally different than me. This matters.
(looking at me as if, after this exchange, his opinion is now somehow irrefutable) God-a’mighty, woman, what is WRONG WITH YOU?
Oh, I don't know. Let's see. I married Satan and he needs therapy?
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
#10. Staying up late/sleeping in like a teenager.
#9. Shopping on line (but for me this time, xmas gift certificates ROCK).
#8. Reading (see photo).
#7. Jacuzzi, jacuzzi, jacuzzi.
#6. Reacquainting myself with the dreaded treadmill.
#5. Teaching myself Moonlight Sonata.
#4. Thinking about vanilla.
#3. Selflessly disposing of all that pesky leftover holiday wine in my very own stomach leading Satan to ask me earlier this evening, "Are you drunk?" to which I replied, "Nell ho!".
#2. Dreaming up music projects for me and my friends (more on that later).
and the number one way I'm spending my Winter Holiday (so far):
NOT THINKING ABOUT WORK. EVER.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
To recap the big day, I woke up sort of insanely early, at 6:15 a.m., and stumbled into the kitchen to wrestle a nine pound ham and glazing sauce into an oven bag to begin warming. I then showered and awoke my stepson Matt who had agreed to chop the vegetables for the pico de gallo. The pico is the first step to making “megas” (ME-guhs), a yummy and delicious Mexican egg dish that was the centerpiece for our little xmas brunch. There were attendees at the brunch who asked for the recipe and, of course, Satan refused. So, I’ll just be rewarding all my faithful readers by posting the coveted recipe it here on the internet.
Pico de Gallo
1 large or two small tomatoes, chopped
1 large or two small onions, chopped
1/2 a medium Jalapeno, finely chopped w/seeds for hot, w/o seeds for medium heat
1 half bunch of cilantro, very finely chopped (don’t use the bottom stems, but leave the top ones)
Juice of ¼ to ½ a lime
1 tablespoon of cumin
2 tablespoons salsa
Stir all the above ingredients together. Adjust spices to taste. Throw in more tomato as if you think you should. You can use this relish for all sorts of things, tacos, chip dipping, etc.
6 eggs (approx)
1 cup shredded taco or nacho cheese
½ cup crushed tortilla chips
½ chopped onion
1 small can niblet corn (in the miniature half-sized can--drained)
2-3 big spoonfuls of Pico de Gallo
In a large skilled sauté the chopped onions in some butter until softened, then add the corn (drained) and stir fry for a minute. Beat the eggs in a bowl, then pour into skillet and begin scrambling. Add the Pico (to taste, really). When the eggs are almost done, throw in the cheese and continue scrambling, stir in the crushed chips just as the eggs are finishing. This dish actually goes pretty quickly, it’s the making the Pico that’s a bit time consuming.
The recipe here will probably serve 4-6 people, give or take, you’ll have lots of leftover pico, which is a very good thing. It will keep in the fridge for 4-5 days in a sealed container.
Our guests began arriving around 10:00. Along with the megas, and the aforementioned glazed ham, we served oven fried spicy potatoes, and Christina made a yummy mandarin orange salad that, along with the orange, incorporated sugared almonds, greens, chopped celery and scallions. For dessert, Matt made a delicious homemade cherry pie, and I contributed two Mocha Pecan Mud Pies with chocolate sauce. To drink we had mimosas, which, for those of you not in the know, is a clever way of making champagne okay to drink before noon by mixing it with an equal part of orange juice.
We had all the kids here and it is the first time in recent memory that has happened. Nothing is quite as satisfying as having all your kids in one place on Christmas morning, all happy and healthy. After brunch, we opened presents, and I think it’s safe to say that the remote control cars you see pictured in my last post were the hit of the day. We had a great time.
After everyone left, Satan and I took in “Shopgirl” at the MAC. We both agreed it is a four out of five star kind of picture. It's difficult for me to review this movie as I have irrational love for both of its stars, Claire Danes and Steve Martin.
Shopgirl is the story of, guess what, a lonely shop girl, Mirabella Buttersfield, played by Danes, who works at Saks in LA and lives a solitary life in her sterile little apartment. Until she meets Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman) at a laundrymat and they begin an offbeat dating relationship. A few weeks later, enter Steve Martin/Ray Porter. Porter is suave, sophisiticated, rich, and the polar opposite of Schwartzman's character.
It seems to me nigh on to impossible that this story isn't autobiographical for Martin, and not just because of the the syllabic similarties name-wise. The screenplay is based on his novella and it's hard to imagine Martin hasn't found himself in exactly this situation at least once or twice. Mirabella and Ray embark on a relationship while Schwartzman's character embarks on a cross country bus tour with a rock band.
Shopgirl is a retelling of the story as old as time. Who is Mirabella's destiny? This movie works, I think, becaue the characters are just so darn likeable. And the situations are so true to life. And, face it, Martin and Danes are just plain wonderful. Schwartzman does a pretty fine job as well. Don't miss this one.
Lastly, I am once again committing myself to adhering to an exercise routine. I'm writing this having just gotten off the dreaded treadmill (after unearthing it from under huge piles of crap). 2006 will be the year that I finally learn to incorporate regular exercise into my daily life.
Pray for me.
The good news is I'm OFF WORK ALL WEEK..woohoo! I hope to be posting more often.
Monday, December 19, 2005
We hosted a farewell party last night for our friends Mark and Beth who will soon be departing for points north and embarking on a new life as a married couple with new careers to boot. It’s an exciting, and also sad time for them and all of us. Saying good-bye is never easy, especially when you must say good-bye to people so close to your heart and so dear to the community. There were a few vah-klempt moments.
The New Year won’t quite be the same without our friends and neighbors just across the alley. And while we can always send them an e-mail, there’ll be no more spur-of-the moment Sunday night dinners. They’ll only be a phone call away, but we won’t be seeing them escorting Rudy and Santina on their nightly walks. We can always make plans to see each other, but we won’t be the lucky beneficiaries of Beth’s homemade (and home grown) cherry pie handed to us across the back fence.
The arts community will go on, but it will always be missing one very tall, very gruff bastard and his girl.
And so will we.
(Sadly, once again, my camera wasn't up to the occassion. I suppose technically, one can only capture so much in such dim light. There was actually mostly only candle light and a few Christmas lights. And I was too busy to focus on pictures as much as I would have liked.)
Here's a better picture that I posted earlier taken at the wedding reception.
As for the rest of the weekend, saw King Kong AGAIN. Still pretty much fun the second time around. Also, “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” at the MAC. Robert Downey Jr. is funny as ever. I don’t have the energy for a full review, but definitely thumbs up. Best line of the movie (from Val Kilmer):
“I shot him with a small revolver. I keep it in my balls.”
Oh, ALSO, while we're on the subject of "bangs", my bangs are (at least partially) BACK..woohoo! I have been informed by Satan that, since I’ve had the audacity to re-bang myself against his wishes, he will be purchasing a large suitcase for me for Christmas into which I’m to load up all my belongings prior to taking permanent leave of the premises. Which, you know on the face of it, that’s preposterous. Because if I WERE leaving? I’d need a MUCH BIGGER container than a suitcase in which to haul away everything that belongs to me. (Namely, everything.)
By popular demand, a recent chat with Satan:
(shouting from one room to the other) Hey…would you marry me again?
I say would you MARRY ME AGAIN?
(faintly still) Are you kidding?
No…you would, right?
(walking into the room he’s in) So, you’re saying you wouldn’t?
Ask me if I’d marry anybody again.
But we’re not talking about anybody. We’re talking about ME.
(beginning to sniffle) So…you wouldn’t marry me again?
(walks over. Sighs.)
(more sniffling). So, I guess that’s no then.
(sighs again. Hands on hips.). Okay, YES. Yes, I’d marry you again.
(brightening suddenly) I know.
And one final bit of information. Satan is threatening to get HIS OWN blog in which he would dispute my 100% true and accurate depiction of our lives. Of course being the creative one in the family I had to feed him his blog name, “Satan Says” (cute, huh?) which he has now latched onto, proclaiming to anyone in the vicinity his plans for "Satan Says". Actually, I really don’t think he has the time. But in case he does? I say bring it, suckah!
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Saw the first (or at least nearly the first) showing of “King Kong” at my local theater last night. Thinking tickets would surely be in great demand for this much-anticipated movie, I arrived an hour and a half or so before show time to purchase in advance. It makes me feel a wee bit puny to report that there really wasn’t much demand for the tickets, in fact the ticket counter was nearly deserted, despite the fact that there was a showing in twenty minutes.
Sometimes this town just makes me feel bad. But that’s a whole ‘nother post.
“King Kong” a re-make of the 1930’s original is a film by Peter Jackson, the same guy that brought you the insanely successful “Lord of the Rings” Trilogy. His Midas touch continues with this offering, a movie of positively super-epic proportions. What “Raiders” was to the eighties, "Jurassic Park" was to the nineties, “Kong” is to the double-oughts.
Jackson made some interesting and, I think, refreshing casting choices. Jack Black plays Carl Denham, the filmmaker, and Adrian Brody, Jack Driscoll, the kidnapped script writer. These two somewhat ordinary looking men, at least by tinsel town standards, add considerably to the whole believability factor. There is, in fact, only one man cast that is handsome in the Hollywood sense, and Jackson makes sure he is a fop. This leads us to the other leading man. A very tall, very hairy and let’s just say nontraditional looking co-star. Against this foil, Naomi Watts is radiant as Anne Darrow, the movie’s updated Fay Wray.
The film opens with a long and brilliant sequence of images and period music, setting the stage of a 1930’s depression era New Yorkish city. We meet Jack Denham, a shifty-eyed fast-talking filmmaker, as he is trying to sell his investors on funding a sea voyage to an uncharted island where he will film “never before seen footage of a lost civilization”. When he finds his investors are less than enthusiastic, Carl rushes to the pier along with cameras and cast and sets off to sea to make the film anyway before anyone can stop him.
We spend quite some time at sea getting to know the characters as Carl begins filming his movie. The ship’s engines churn constantly and rhythmically in the background, a portent of the ominous sound of a native drumbeat. Jackson takes his time telling the story, with nearly an hour of the movie elapsing before the crew arrives on “Skull Island”.
Once the ship makes landfall, this movie of off to the races with a vengeance with special effects that are simply amazing. Whether that’s because they are new innovations or because they are skillfully employed, I’m not savvy enough to know. What I can say for certain is they at times left Eva (my intrepid movie going companion) and I actually squealing OUT LOUD in our seats. And people. We are not squealers. Kong sets a new standard for action/adventure. Just when you think the action has gotten as complicated and as incredible as it can get, Jackson takes it to the next level. And then the next.
And that's not the best part. Jackson is masterful at telling the unlikely love story of the monster and the girl. Kong's incredibly articulate facial expressions alone are worth the price of admission.
Of course, I have a few quibbles. While I appreciate an unhurried story, this movie is just a tad long. Jack Black's "incredulous face" gets a little old. And, although the effects are fabulous, there are times when things are just very obviously computer generated. There was an ongoing bit about a relationship between two members of the crew that didn't really advance the story and should have hit the cutting room floor. None of this overwhelms the movie, however, or keeps me from recommending it unreservedly.
If you plan to see this movie at all (and I think you should), please for the loveofGod, see it in the theater. People who have issues with heights may be seriously effected as I'm not one of those people and I found it positively dizzying.
For sheer escapism, you simply cannot beat "King Kong".
Sunday, December 11, 2005
"Proof" is at the MAC, and I'm happy to report it was well worth the price of prime time admission. Gwenyth Paltrow is wonderful, Jake Gyllenhaal is also wonderful and hunky as ever, and an aging, but still quite capable, Anthony Hopkins did not embarass himself.
"Proof" is a smart story told in large part by flashbacks. Which is, I must admit, one of my more favorite movie devices. Anthony Hopkins plays Paltrow's father who is already dead by the time the movie begins. A brilliant and important mathmetician in his youth, Hopkins had become senile in his old age with his daughter dropping out of college to nurse him at the (very difficult and prolonged) end of his life. Also a mathmetician, Paltrow is plagued by fears that along with a proclivity for math, she may have inherited her father's madness. We join the action on the night before Anthony's funeral.
Hope Davis also stars as "Claire", Gwennie's annoying older sister who flies in from NYC (the movie is set in Chicago) for the father's funeral and to attempt to "manage" her sister. It took me a while to place Davis, but I finally remembered her from another movie, "The Secret Lives of Dentists" a Campbell Scott film in which she pretty deftly handled the role of a philandering and confused wife. Davis is no less adept here and is a great addition to the cast.
It will come as a surprise to no one that Gyllenhaal, who plays Anthony's math student, and Paltrow become lovers fairly early on in the movie. The camera in fact spends a whole lot of time about an inch or two from the faces of these talented actors. And while I'm not complaining, they're both so incredibly good looking that it's almost a distraction. Paltrow is especially luminous with seemingly no make-up (and no pores) and those incredible china blue eyes. Paltrow's performance is intense and oscar-worthy.
Eventually, Paltrow's sanity is questioned by just about everyone. The title of the movie refers to a "proof" as in a math problem and eventually takes on another meaning as the story unfolds. The movie is cleverly told and does not disappoint.
I give it four out of five stars. The movie doesn't quite manage maintain the same level of intensity throughout, but overall it's great. Don't pass this one up.
I did have a chance to inquire of the MAC staff if we are EVER going to get "Capote" and the answer is 'yes', albeit not any time soon. In fact we're talking at least February and the same for "Brokeback Mountain". As I've become fond of saying, they should probably just go on and mail everybody in "Brokeback" their oscar now, if the buzz is any indication. Although, far be it from me to complain about a double-dose of Gyllenhaal. Yummy.
Friday, December 09, 2005
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Today was the day of our holiday Christmas party at work. Which is just swell unless, of course, you’re the person responsible for arranging same. Hey….THAT’S ME (clucky chicken)! So, there’s a mite bit of stress involved there. I’m happy to report it was a success but that didn’t stop me from being just a little wrecked in the days leading up to.
Also, CHRISTMAS IN GENERAL.
No matter how much shopping I put behind me in October and November, come December, I start feeling the Xmas panic. Heck, is ANYBODY out there immune to the Christmas Panic? If so, e-mail me. Though, I can’t decide if I’ll want a list of your secrets for a stress-free yuletide season or if the rest of us will just run on over and beat the hell out of you on general principle.
And then, there’s my hair.
SWEET JEEBUS MY HAIR.
I hate it. To cut or not to cut? To bang or not to bang? These are the questions.
These questions are not made easier by having a husband with very definite ideas about what MY hair should look like and a tireless capacity for vocalizing said ideas. HIS hair he just shaves off every couple of weeks (lucky!). As for my hair, his big idea is for me to let it get all one length and then grow it out Pentecostal style (no-bang).
I know. Very inventive of him.
Actually, after giving it a little thought (for ten years), what I really think he has in mind is this:
And, yah, I wish my hair (or any part of me) looked like that too. Unfortunately, my hair will NEVER look like that not even if you chopped me (and my hair) into little pieces, processed me in a blender, and resurrected Da Vinci to re-sculpt me using the resulting mush would I look like that.
Right now, having (finally) taken my husband’s hair style advice I look totally, TRAGICALLY, (let's face it) Pentecostal.
That's right, I'm bang-free and SCARY.
Actually, he did have one other idea about a hairstyle for me. Years ago, we went into a restaurant where we were served by this tiny little blonde waitress with dreadlocks almost down to her knees. The amazing dreads were gathered up in a huge, gigantic pony-tail so thick that I could not have spanned it with both hands. After she took our drink order and left, Satan leaned across the table and said (in all sincerity), “Your hair would look GREAT like that.”
And then I fainted.
Okay, well, no I didn’t faint, but PEOPLE. Knee-length dreadlocks? ME?
Really, the aforementioned is but one of many incredible quotes by Satan regarding my hair. Here's just a couple of examples:
(Frowning and looking at my hair critically)
(Wondering what the hell the problem is)
(sneeringly) You look like the Breck Girl
You look like the Breck girl (he re-sneered)
Seriously. You look like the Breck girl (he spat)
But, that's a compliment, right?
HELL, NO it's not a compliment
And, this leads us to the grandaddy of all Satan's comments about my hair. It's kind of incredible, but I swear to you this actually happened one winter at our former residence.
(Standing at the front door with his coat on getting ready to go out)
(Sitting in my favorite chair telling him good-bye)
(Suddenly and without warning)
Your hair is too clean and shiny.
And, re-reading those quotes, leaves me with only one obvious question:
I'm taking this man's hairstyle advice....why?
I'm SO re-banging, baby.
Now if someone would just finish my Christmas shopping for me.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Fifteen Things about Books
1. Aside from my Mom reading me a bedtime story, my first memory about books is one of visiting my local public library as a VERY young pre-schooler.
I can remember becoming fascinated by one particularly large particularly heavy (heavy at least to me at the time) leather bound children’s book and wondering WHAT IN THE WORLD it was about and what the words said. The words seemed like a magic code that I just couldn't break. For what seemed like years, but was probably months, I visited The Book and wondered what was inside. What was the story? Which leads me to my next point…
2. My Mom says that, upon coming home after the first day of kindergarten when she asked me how it went, I sighed and told her in an exasperated tone, “We didn’t even learn to READ today.”
3. In case you can't tell, books went on to become a huge part of my childhood. "Anne of Green Gables", The “Little House” series, GWTW, The “Mary Poppins” books, "Wizard of Oz" (I was flabbergasted to discover a book preceded the movie), "Jane Eyre", "Charlotte's Web", "Little Women" to name a few. Most all of these I read more than once. "Gone w/the Wind" in particular became almost a mantra for me. I can remember reading the last word, and then flipping back to page one and beginning again immediately. As for "Charlotte's Web", I was in shock for DAYS after she died. No, seriously, DAYS.
4. I read "Helter Skelter" at much too young an age. Scared the be-jeezus right outta me.
5. I know it's cliche, but, ohmygosh, "Catcher in the Rye". "The Great Gatsby".
6. I actually prefer to read a library, borrowed, or used book. I love knowing that I'm not the first to drink in the words and won't be the last.
7. Like alot of people, I spent a chunk of the 1970's and a good portion of the early 1980's waiting for the next Stephen King book to come out. My love for King began when my cousin, Cindy, read "Carrie" aloud to me one lazy summer at my Grandmother's house.
8. Apologies to the locally owned bookstore, and I know it's wrong, but Amazon is just about the best thing to happen to the book since the printing press.
9. My name came from the book, "Song of Years" by Bess Streeter Aldrich. I have an antique copy of the book and love that and many others by Bess.
10. Dr. Seuss is my favorite poet. My son once spontaneously recited "Green Eggs and Ham" in the waiting room of the pediatrician's office (he was about four). It was about the cutest damn thing you ever did see.
11. I might as well admit it, I love a good true crime novel. Ann Rule rulz. "Fatal Vision" got me started back in the day. It is a fascinating and chilling read .
12. You can almost always find a book on CD in the player in my car. Right now it's "Atonement" by Ian McEwan. (Satan says it is incorrect for me to say I've "read" a book that I "listened" to. I say balderdash.)
13. There are, I'd say, upwards of 300 books in bookcases and otherwise in my house. Satan's vehicle is currently crammed with additional boxes of books that need to be housed (from the dreaded storage shed).
14. The book currently on my night stand is Carlos Castenada's "The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge". I came to the startling realization last night that Castenada achieved a PhD by dropping acid. Like, wow man.
15. "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn blew my mind. Satan recommended it and I found it so fascinating that I read it in a single setting. And on a work night, too. I'm the proud owner of an autographed copy. Now, if I could just FIND the damn thing.
Okay, I now tag Semi...will this get you started? (Behold my [2nd, mind you] LINK...Walter Brennan indeed!)