Friday, November 25, 2016

Film Friday

Saint Laurent:  Biopic of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, mostly focused on 1967 to 1976.  A lot of drugs and gay lust.  It certainly didn't ignore the fashion industry, but it didn't really explain why he was so important either.  Gaspard Ulliel, Jeremie Renier, Louis Garrel.

The Blue Angel:  A professor falls for a cabaret performer in Weimar Germany.  Sad film.  Emil Jannings, Marlene Dietrich, Kurt Gerron.  Directed by Josef von Sternberg.  From a novel by Heinrich Mann.

Rocket Science:  A stuttering high school freshman is recruited for the debate team by its female star.  A quirky film.  Some funny moments, but just okay over-all.  Anna Kendrick, Reece Thompson, Vincent Piazza.   

Jeremiah JohnsonA man decides to be a mountain man in the 19th-century U.S. Rockies.  It's an interesting film.  There's JJ's struggle with the wild but there's also his interactions with various people he encounters.  A couple plot points seemed loose to me.  There's a montage that came off as corny.  But over-all, it was worth watching.  Robert Redford, Will Geer, Delle Bolton.  Directed by Sydney Pollack.   From a novel by Vardis Fisher and a story by Raymond Thorp.      

Thursday, November 24, 2016


Thankful for food, shelter, clothes, and health.

Thankful to be living in the U.S.

Thankful for books, movies, and music.

Thankful for coffee.

Thankful for Britt. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


1.  Scoreboard Update:

Tex - 1
Ericka - 1
Katy Perry - 0
Everybody Else - 0

There are still points to be won in the first two rounds of the Third Floor Reading Challenge. 

I'll try to think of something else, so people who aren't into books have a chance. 

This round ends at 11:59 PM on December 31, California time.  So if you're on the east coast of the U.S. you have until 2:59 on the morning of January 1.  If you live in the middle, you need to figure out your own time zone math.

2.  I'll be stepping away from this blog for a while.  Here are some blogs you may visit in my absence:

A.J.:  Grad student (about to graduate again), bibliophile, Colorado resident.  Unfortunately, she'll be away for a few days. But she has plenty of good posts to peruse.

Ericka:  Speech teacher, connoisseur of long-haired men, audio book aficionado.

Birgit:  Cinemaphile, card artist, animal lover.

Tex:  Movie challenge sponsor, aspiring novelist, Texan.  (It's such a weird coincidence that she lives in Texas and I call her Tex.)

Jen (not the Jen from my poems about Jen):  Author of After the Gazebo, teacher of creative writing, wife of a man.

Guilie:  Author of The Miracle of Small Things, dog rescuer, music lover.

Mike:  Free lance writer, music lover, fisherman.

Arlee Bird:  Blogging from A to Z sponsor, multiple NaNoWriMo winner, Battle of the Bands regular.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Film Friday

Zero Dark Thirty 
Maya and the CIA track down Usama bin Laden and SEAL Team Six kills him.  Spoiler Alert!
I was quite impressed by Maya's level of feist.  As portrayed by Jessica Chastain, she wasn't difficult to look at either.  It was difficult to reconcile the decade or so of real-life events with the time the film had to show them.  I wish I had gotten a clearer idea of what the CIA team did between leads.  I also think the SEAL team part of the movie was drawn out a bit too much.  But over-all, I give this a modest thumb up.      

Crime d'amour 
Corporate shenanigans at the French office of a multi-national corporation.  Kristin Scott Thomas as an executive and Ludivine Sagnier as her younger protege.
I think there are some good ideas here, but it could have been executed better.  There are plot holes I can't forgive.  Also, the ladies' man doesn't seem the part to me.      
French sci-fi about Lemmy Caution, a secret agent (Eddie Constantine) sent to a city on another planet to stop the tyrannical rule of a scientist who has outlawed love and self-expression.  Anna Karina also stars.  Directed by Jean-Luc Godard.
It's part spoof.  Pop culture references include Dick Tracy, Ferdinand Celine, and Nosferatu.  Caution seems to me like a cross between Philip Marlowe and James Bond.  There's an evil computer, a la HAL, though 2001 hadn't been released yet.       

I have now seen all of them, except the satirical version of Casino Royale*.
Anyway, seems somebody has a grudge against M and isn't afraid of some collateral damage.  Will 007 be able to stop this miscreant?
This is not one of the better Bond films.  The opening action sequence is over-done.  There are stretches of boredom.  It's one of the least sexy Bond films since the 1980's and the AIDS crisis.  That being said, Daniel Craig does a good job as Bond.  Javier Bardem plays the cray cray villain well.  There are some funny lines.
Judi Dench as M.  Directed by Sam Mendes.
* - Yes. I have seen the original TV version of Casino Royale.     

La chambre bleue  
An affair between a married man and a married woman ends with legal problems for both of them.  Stars Mathieu Amalric as the man, Stephanie Cleau as the woman, and Lea Drucker as the man's wife.  Screenplay by Amalric and Cleau.  Directed by Amalric.  From a Georges Simenon novel.
It's a bit on the short side - 75 minutes.  It's stronger in the acting department than the plot.  On the whole, it kind of ended up being a mid-range legal drama with a brief nod or two to steamy romance.  I'll never look at a red towel the same way again, though.  :)       

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Building a Better Autumn (mild adult content)

There were only seven of us: Mike, Pete, Robin and Andrew, Gary, Laura, and I.  We could have been called dreamers, or we could have been called misfits.  But we bought a parcel of land that a tax dodger lost in foreclosure and we thought it would be better than mainstream society. Not Utopia, not even a commune; just an alternative to our old lives, our lives out there.  

We were a diverse group.  Robin, the vegetarian chef, grew fruit and vegetables and made sure we all ate healthy. As though a cheeseburger would send former club owner Andrew reeling back into his drug habit.  I would have wondered why he put up with her if I hadn’t seen her in various yoga positions.  Of course, he had business acumen that I knew could help the group in some way.  Mike and Pete had experience in the construction industry.  Gary, my best friend since high school, was an artist, as was Laura.  Me?  I had given up on fitting into society, so I was determined to make a society that fit me.

I knew Gary had been crushing hard on a librarian, and I wanted to help get his mind off her.  So I tossed a few ideas around in my mind, and finally settled on building a better autumn.  You might think it’s a simple task, but it’s really a complex operation.  Perhaps that is why people don't try this at home.

Each of us had a role, a niche to fill in the project. Andrew used his business savvy to get the best deals on supplies.  Robin was in charge of the food and other household chores – a bit like Donna Reed with a pierced navel.  I was in charge of planning. Gary and Laura took care of the design and the aesthetics. Mike and Pete oversaw the actual building, which we all participated in, as there were only seven of us.

I admit I was reluctant at first, due to her hippy politics, but as the weeks passed I became closer and closer to Laura.  Eventually, we gave up the pretense and shared a bungalow.  She was a vocal lover, and Gary let it be known that the walls were thin.  But on the whole, life was good between us.  I didn’t even mind when I caught her masturbating to a photo of Eugene Debs. 

I won't bore you with the technical details, but building a better autumn requires an obscene amount of widgets, sprockets, doodads, and gizmos.  We worked from dawn to dusk, five days a week, on the project.  After a hard day's work, we couldn't wait to wash the dirt, sweat, and paint from our bodies.  But we could see the progress we were making and that drove us onward.    

Eventually, our perseverance paid off and we accomplished our task.  There were hugs and high fives and such.  A few of us posed for pictures, in victorious stances.  Then we took the rest of the day off - it just so happened to be a Friday.  After dinner that night, I gifted my co-workers Toblerone bars and delivered a short thank you speech, ending it thusly: 
“I hope everybody gets plenty of rest this weekend.  Monday, we start building a better winter.”

Gary was not enthused.  “I didn’t sign up for this, man.”

“Sign up for what?  Look at our autumn. We nailed it.”

“Why does winter have to be better? Why can’t you just accept things as they are?”

Later that night, I stood at the window of my bungalow, watching Gary load his Prius with his few belongings.  I wanted to go out and stop him, but I knew it was too late.  Laura seemed to read my mind.

“Let him go.”         

Things weren't the same after that night.  The remaining six of us tried to repeat our success with winter, but it was clear our hearts weren't in it.  Mike and Pete returned to the "real world".  Robin and Andrew went wherever it is married couples go.  Even Laura left.    In time, I too will have to leave.  But I'm enjoying my little corner of the world while I can: alone with my thoughts, the setting sun painting the sky red, orange, and pink each evening.  I think about what could have been.  But I know this: we built a better autumn.