October 31, 2005

-image-october 31st, 1999

E*ypt Air 990.

Rest in Peace, Aunt M and Uncle B.

October 27, 2005

-image-the little red book 2

For all your Hallowe’en party needs, the little red book has this:

A Horror Party! Bring your favorite horror.

Each guest brings his particular aversion or the likeness of it, to add to the general awfulness of the occasion.

Comparing these horrors proves to be the best sort of fun.

One who hates rain can wear a mackintosh over her evening gown and carry an umbrella.

Another can bring a candy box, which, when opened, reveals a small green toad.

A pretty girl can come with the photograph of an admirer who will not be brought to understand that his visits bore her.

A Japanese paper snake points very conclusively to another’s particular horror.

Other horrors can be thought of, but are too numerous to mention here.

Kind of a cop-out ending, but there it is.

For some reason, I love that phrase, “the general awfulness of the occasion.”

The toad in the box trick? You ain’t doing that at MY party, princess.

And I LOVE the whole pretty girl/photograph thing. Perhaps if said admirer came to the Horror Party, he’d finally get the message ….

October 26, 2005

-image-sal’s question

All right. Sal’s question in the comment section on my last post set me a’thinkin’. Asks Sal:

Here’s another question: who else likes films about a specific subject, within a genre? For example, I love movies about submarines, in spite of the fact that I would no more actually go down in one than fly to the moon. But I’m a complete sucker for any movie that takes place on one.

So what’s your fancy? Writing/authors, fashion, survival tales, a sport, what?

So blatantly using that as my jumping-off point (Thanks, Sal!), and after thinking about my own movie-watching habits, I offer up some of my favorite subjects:

I DO gravitate to movies about writers, actors, musicians, or the creative process in general. Some favorites:

Amadeus (F. Murray Abraham was genius in that movie)

Iris (about writer Iris Murdoch and her descent into Alzheimer’s — starring some actors I love: Judi Dench, Kate Winslet, and Jim Broadbent)

Adaptation (LOVED IT!)

Quills (Geoffrey Rush as the Marquis de Sade — amazing — oh, and Kate Winslet and Joaquin Phoenix, too)

Finding Forrester (I really liked Sean Connery in this movie)

The Shining (well, pretty much the scariest movie ever — and remember, besides being a murderer, Jack’s a writer … although, admittedly, it’s more about him as a lunatic than anything else, so this one’s kind of a cheat)

Shakespeare in Love

Tom and Viv ( about T. S. Eliot and his wife, with Willem Dafoe and Miranda Richardson)

Almost Famous (plus, the kid was a writer, no?)

Shadowlands (Oh, that Anthony Hopkins as C. S. Lewis. LOVE. THIS. MOVIE.)

The Dresser (a kind of modern retelling of “King Lear,” played out in a touring theatre company, starring the wonderful Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay)

Moulin Rouge (saw it once, hated it, saw it again, LOVED IT!)

All About Eve (rent it, rent it, rent it — Bette Davis, whew! And for you men, there’s Marilyn Monroe)

Singin’ in the Rain (my all-time favorite pick-me-up movie, considered the greatest movie musical of all time — and source of my sure-to-be lifetime crush on Gene Kelly)

Sunset Boulevard (Sweet Moses! Sunset Boulevard! William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Billy Wilder! A masterpiece, really)

All right, that’s off the top. I KNOW I’m forgetting some.

I’m also embarrassingly partial to movies about dancing/dancers:

Strictly Ballroom (SO much fun!)

Centerstage (a guilty pleasure, well, many of these are that, watched just for the dancing, even fast-forwarded to the DANCING!)

Save the Last Dance

Dirty Dancing

Saturday Night Fever

The Red Shoes

Okay. I’m done — mostly because I gotta run here. I’m sure I could go on and on, given more time. Now it’s your turn.

What specific subjects do you gravitate to in movies?

And if you’ve got a blog, you can list them there, if you’d like. Just lemme know!

Love this question, Sal! And I love that you love movies about submarines. It’s just so … wonderful and quirky.

October 25, 2005

-image-a movie for all seasons

I have this thing I do. A sort of ritual.

I watch certain movies only during certain times of the year.

Like last weekend. I wasn’t feeling well, anyway, and it’s blustery October and the smell of fireplace fires in the air means it’s time to watch “Little Women.” The one with Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon and a younger Kirsten Dunst. I know it may seem quaint or silly, but I watch that movie every year at this time and I feel FULL. I feel RICH. And I rewind over and over the moment where Mr. Laurence gives his little girl’s piano to Beth so that I can extend the good cry moment and sniffle accusingly through my tears what I always sniffle when a movie makes me cry: “stupid movie.”

I don’t know. For me, certain movies and certain seasons go together. And I’m not talking about “Oh, I watch ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ every Christmas.” (Which I do, but that’s a no- brainer.) I mean that other movies just FEEL like a certain season to me and so I must, I MUST watch them during that season. The funny thing now is that My Beloved has become an avid participant in the ritual. He tries to sound nonchalant, as if he’s just reminding me, but, ahem, he sits down and watches the movie, too. And this last weekend, he actually made sure we both had freshly brewed coffee and one of the pumpkin chocolate chip muffins I’d made. It was just cozy and warm in a way that San Diego isn’t usually cozy and warm. You have to be prepared to pounce if the day even hints at it — with coffee, muffins, blankets, popcorn, whatever enhances the coziness of it all.

But I wasn’t done when “Little Women” was over. No, because after that came my well-worn copy of “Sense and Sensibility,” another one of my “Autumn Movies.” I still just have it on VHS, so it wrinkles a bit at the end, and I have to plead with it to behave. But, oh, how I love it! Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet and the molasses-voiced Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon. His voice kills me, but it’s his eyes I watch, all the subtleties that are there. And I do so love the moment when Marianne is sick and he’s been so unrequitedly in love with her and he’s loitering about her sickroom door and practically begs Elinor, “Give me an occupation, Miss Dashwood, or I shall run mad.”

Love it. LOVE. IT.

Oh, and the matchless Hugh Laurie in a small, but hysterical role as Mr. Palmer, the beleaguered husband to an annoying flibbertigibbet of a wife, who has a gift for prattling on endlessly. But I thank God for her character Charlotte (and really wonderful performance, by the way, from Imelda Staunton) because it gives Hugh Laurie the chance to have exchanges like these:

CHARLOTTE: Oh! If only this rain would stop!

MR. PALMER (from behind the paper): If only you would stop.

And that’s a little running gag in the movie — Mr. Palmer hiding from it all behind his paper and muttering these dry, sarcastic, hysterical lines.

CHARLOTTE: ….. Is it really five and a half miles? No! I cannot believe it.


(And he’s still hiding behind his paper.)

Ah! How I’m running on about this one! Well, this movie, too, has a certain resonance and richness to it FOR ME that just begs me to watch it in the autumn. These are just a few of them. I’ll spare you any more at the moment.

But when winter comes, I’ll share some of my “Winter Movies.”

Am I the only one who does this — the “this movie goes with this season” thing?

(And all you men can just leave off making fun of me for this. I’m warning you. With love. But I’m warning you.)

October 24, 2005

-image-you just break my heart ….


I open up my heart to you — just a little bit — because you were pretty good to it last year and this is the thanks I get? THIS? This 20-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles? A game you were losing, THEN WINNING, with 2:25 left in the game, THEN LOSING after an attempted field goal was blocked and run back an unreasonable number of yards by some Eagle fellow for a touchdown.

Of course, moments later, you had a chance to AT LEAST tie the game, perhaps score, but, NO, you wieners, you FUMBLED THE BALL and it was recovered by one of those wretched Smeagols!

I hates them!!

And take your pick which team I mean when I say that.

How can you be so good and be so BAD, Chargers? You don’t deserve me and my foolish, screaming devotion. You’ve now lost 4 games by a total of only 12 points and my feeble heart can’t take it anymore. Are you trying to lose me to Figure Skating on Sunday afternoons? Don’t you want me anymore? You say you want my love, but I just don’t feel it. I don’t believe it anymore. All those promises. The promise of LaDainian. The promise of a stellar defense. The promise of a fearless Drew Brees and his magic mole. I feel so … alone and stupid and betrayed.

You leave me no choice but to cheat on you, find a team that will not abuse my love, not disdain my devotion, not force me to chow down mindlessly on Cheetos out of sheer angst and horror.

Hellloooo, Indianapolis and your sweet, sweet 7-0!!

October 21, 2005

-image-the thing that’s buried

It’s awful and surreal, really, to hear on the radio something having to do with my life, my family.

It’s happened more than a few times in the 6 years since my aunt and uncle were murdered on E*ypt Air Flight 990. I’ll be flipping the dial around, absentmindedly, and something will catch my ear and the host will be talking about IT.

Well, it happened again today.

And I’m always angry and irrational when I hear it. And I’m always sure, for a split second, that the host is not talking about it. Then my hearing focuses and the breath goes out of me and I want to pick up the phone and call that host and tell him to “shut up, SHUT UP!”

It doesn’t matter what is being said, really; my reaction is the same, every time.

Just don’t talk about it. Don’t talk about it in that blithe, passing sort of way. You don’t know. YOU DON’T KNOW. YOU HAVEN’T EARNED THE RIGHT TO TALK ABOUT IT IN THAT BLITHE, PASSING SORT OF WAY!

Because, I’d tell him, my family doesn’t even talk about it.

No. It is the thing that is not discussed. It is the thing that is buried and frozen and silent and ruinous. My dad cannot speak of his sister, not anymore. Still, there is that lingering shadow of terror. Still.

So when I hear random radio voices casually analyze the thing that makes my family horrified and mute, I admit, I become a little unhinged. Still.

I’m sorry this is a rambling mess. I just really do get unhinged.

-image-the little red book

I’ve got this little red book, published in 1907, that I bought at a garage sale several years ago. I think I paid 50 cents for it.

It’s a dusty old thing entitled, “Parties and Entertainments” and I absolutely love it. It’s chock full of ideas for hosting ANY kind of gathering, circa 1907, of course. But therein lies the beauty of it, the simple, quaint antiquity of it all!

So with the holidays virtually upon us, I thought I’d share some party ideas from the little red book. You just never know when an old idea might seem new again. And if not new, then just old and weird and funny.

Here’s a portion of the little red book’s ideas for “Hallowe’en”:

If you are fond of entertaining, Hallowe’en is an ideal night for a party of young men and maidens. Your invitations may read —

“Miss Blank requests th pleasure of Mr. Blank’s company on Monday evening, October the thirty-first at eight o’clock.

She begs that he will come prepared to participate in the celebration of Hallowe’en.”

I like this one:

In the center of the room is suspended the “pendulum,” a paper bag laden with sweets for the guests to break by means of a sharp sword or knife, while blindfolded.

(Ah, yes — wielding a sharp sword or knife WHILE BLINDFOLDED — that’ll liven up a party!)

Then, there’s this, too:

Half walnut shells may be floated in a tub of water by means of tiny sails made from toothpicks and bits of paper. On the paper is written one’s own initial and those of another. The boats are all started at once and the water is agitated. If your ship goes down at sea, you will not win your lover, but happy are the ones whose ships come safely over the troubled water.


But these are not ships on troubled water. These are walnut boats. With toothpick masts. And paper sails. Floating in a tub.


(Stay tuned for more ideas from the little red book …. later ….)

October 19, 2005

-image-“mawidge is a dweam ….

…. wiffin a dweam,” says The Impressive Clergyman in “The Princess Bride.”

Ah, yes. It’s a dweam, awwight.

In honor of last weekend’s nuptials of my blog buddies, WordGirl and Teflon from MoltenThought — and because they decided to take my suggestion to have a “Virtual Wedding Shower” — here are my “virtual” contributions to the happy couple, now honeymooning in Ireland. Perhaps you’ll sense a theme. AND sense that I know absolutely NOTHING about my theme. But I am stubbornly undaunted by my ignorance, which is a hallmark of the truly ignorant.

So here we go.

Well, lovebirds, start your day with a little bit ‘o’ this. Uh, don’t get up. Someone can bring it to you, I’m sure:

irish breakfast tea

Along with that, goes this, of course:

lucky charms

And don’t worry. I learned years ago that that creepy leprechaun can’t really see you.

Later, you may find yourself wanting an energizing snack. These looked good to me:

oh ryans

Now, actually, I believe these have absolutely no potato in them at all. They are coconut creme and cinnamon and … well, one would ASSUME potato-free. But coconut has heaps of healing properties and cinnamon is some kind of antioxidant, so even though this is, well, candy, I’m sure it’s tremendously good for you. Let’s face it. Someone has to look after your health at a time like this. I’m sure you’re not.

Let’s see. I think I have another little snacky for you. Hang on. Okay! I think I got yer potatoes! They’re “crisps” of SOMETHING, so I’m guessing — POTATOES!


Have them with a wee bit ‘o’ this:


And don’t you worry your tired little heads. I’m buyin’. And apparently, sparing no expense. Holy Moly! Turns out, this stuff is tres expensive, with each bottle having its own serial number and whatnot. Wow. Such extravagance. I either really like you or have my own reasons for getting you drunk. Watch your pockets. My hands are small, but lightning fast.

Now, sightseeing can be SO exhausting, don’t you agree? And we all know how HOT it is over in Ireland, especially right now …. you know, this time of year and all, what with the humidity and “the heat, MY GOD, the HEAT!”

At least this is what I’ve always heard and what my public education taught me. I mean, am I wrong?

I imagine you’ll need a refreshing shower after a day of such enervating activities. So take your pick:


This is some kind of Irish Wool Fat Soap. I’m both repulsed by the name and mesmerized by little Fiona Bo-Peep and her perky bonnet and the cozy cottage on the hillside. But don’t let Fair Fiona’s loving hand on the wee woolly lamb fool you. Oh, no. Because after she’s done stealing his wool fat and making a batch of pretty, fatty soap, you can bet she’s gonna be making a big ol’ pot ‘o’ this.

Yummy! Have it with a pint of this:

Wait. Sorry. I forgot. The other refreshing soap. Well, there’s always a classic:

 irish spring

You just might be needing an icy blast about now. 😉

Now, how about a movie starring that great Irish actor, Peter O’Toole:

I’m inordinately fond of “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Lion in Winter,” and “My Favorite Year.” Just some ideas for when you’re tired of sightseeing.

Or maybe you’re not tired.

Now, let’s not forget the great Irish actresses. For instance, who doesn’t love that Rosie O’Donnell:

Really, what to say except that I’m inordinately grateful that she quit her show and got her face OUTTA MINE and never sullied a Peter O’Toole movie by being IN a Peter O’Toole movie.

Then I thought this was rather nice and might remind you of The One who knits you together:

And finally, you lovebirds, this traditional Irish blessing, from me to you:

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
May the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
May the Lord hold you in the palm of His hand.

Oh, wait. This guy wants in on it, too:

Well, seems it’s not an event until Lord of the Pants shows up. So sorry. He insisted. Don’t worry. I kicked him hard in the groin with my own freakishly fast feet, so they’ll be no Flatley Foot Flailing at THIS wedding.



October 18, 2005

-image-halloween is HAPPY!

This is good — both Greg and The Anchoress have said it, so now I don’t really have to. But what the heck:

Halloween is kewl.

GASP! SHAME! Christians aren’t supposed to utter that, right? Because, says Greg:

Apparently the more acceptable thing to do now – the more scriptural, i.e. “biblical” – thing to do is shutter the house and pack the kids off to church for an “alternative” evening of fun and games. zzzzzZZZZZZZ…. Oh, sorry. Um, where was I? No ghosts or gremlins allowed here, by golly. The only costumes you’re going to see are going to be Bible characters. The good ones, of course. No Pilates or Jezebels, that’s for sure. And although I understand with our culture in profound disarray it was almost inevitable that such a safer alternative come to pass, I still have to wonder if this is the best we can do. As Christians, you know. Is this just one more time when we boycott our culture, insulate ourselves from real life, and distance ourselves from our communities for reasons that only we know and understand? I mean, do you think the rest of the neighborhood is really hip to why we do what we do? Really? Remember what I said at the top about America spending almost as much on Halloween decorations as it does on Christmas decorations? I wonder if we’ve really thought this whole thing through – what our darkened, shuttered houses say to our neighbors on the one night they can be guaranteed to visit us.


And The Anchoress shares some personal memories of Halloween … and the FUN of it all! For Pete’s sake!

Last year, My Beloved and I went trick or treating with our then-4-year-old niece, Piper. She was all decked out in her pink and blue tulle princess regalia and her little light-up tennis shoes. A proper princess, indeed. She was enchanting and utterly, smushably cute. And her teensy “beech” (speech) problems made her just that much more irresistible to everyone. I’m tellin’ you true.

She’d charge up to each house, with us holding back a bit, ring the doorbell by herself (“I can do it, Tee Tee!”), wait for that door to open, rocking back and forth on her feet, and when that glorious moment happened, when that door FINALLY opened, she’d cry out:


Oohs and aahhs ensued, with many a neighbor giving her extra candy — for sheer cuteness’ sake, I’m sure.

Then she’d stare down at the fresh booty in her bag and, wide-eyed, say:


Every house, the same. Good, neighborly feelings all ’round, a little girl’s candy-coated dreams coming true, and some vigilant adults, giddy with glee at her antics …. and her unabashed, slightly mispronounced good manners.

Back at home, she dumped out her bag and proceeded to give most of her candy away — to her older brothers, her parents, My Beloved and me. She shared with everyone. She gave us the good stuff, too. There was no parental exhortation for her to share; she simply did it, out of her open and generous heart.

There was nothing of evil. There was nothing of demons.

But there was magic, though. The magic of family giggling together, abandoned to silliness. The magic of a neighborhood sharing the spirit of this annual candy beg-fest. And the magic of a little girl’s sweetness, far sweeter than any candy.

Somehow, I think Jesus was smiling down on our tiny frick or freater that night.

October 17, 2005

-image-life intervenes

No blogging until probably Wednesday.

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