Tuesday, March 27, 2007

They have liveoaks here

Another point for Southern California. And to think, I used to actively not ever want to live in this state. It just sounded too big and trendy and irritating. I have found it amazingly accessible. This photo was taken on a ramble at Eaton Canyon, just outside Pasadena.

Today's book: "The Mystery of Edwin Drood." I picked this up without remembering it's Dickens' unfinished novel. This library copy has been "finished" by someone else. The first three chapters are marvelously moody and strange - the book begins in an opium den - but it's very frustrating to start and know that nobody has any idea how Dickens meant it to turn out. The mystery, apparently, is quite obvious, so the theory goes that he was planning something really complicated. But it is not known what. I emailed my sister to tell her I was having regrets about getting involved in this, and she crisply replied that she always has regrets about getting involved in any Dickens novel.

Art Boy and I are still trying to get over the "Battlestar Galactica" finale. When he wakes up I'm going to propose we rinse our brains out with bleach. The big revelations were fine, it was just the song, the song... dear God. Oh well. I heard the series finale of "Rome" was worse. Maybe the lack of an ending isn't so bad.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

This is a delightful woodland romp, with many of the best scenes featuring a roly-poly toad

Art Boy and I are sorry to learn that Ricky Gervais' "Extras" is over after two seasons. It's quite worth Netflixing season 1. Although, like his "The Office," many scenes are impossible to watch without your hands over your eyes. I can't decide if this agonizing style of comedy should be called "embarrassment horror" or "embarrassment porn." Anyway, we love Ricky almost as much as we love the CNN "Story Highlights" boxes. And we love this Sir Ian McKellen scene, although I am not going to do one of those YouTube links with the little screen on my blog because I don't feel like it.

Today's beer: Black Toad dark ale, featuring a handsome Bufo exsul on the label.

Plants, food, books, sun = happy

Finally the sun is out. It fought through the clouds while I was at the farmers market getting lettuce and avocadoes, as well as allowing myself to be seduced by a black krim tomato plant as well as another black variety, this one from Japan. On the way home I stopped at the library and got "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" and "Savage Beauty," that Edna St. Vincent Millay biography. Last night I started Arturo Perez-Riverte's "The Club Dumas" and almost immediately lost patience with it, so am happy to have something else. TCD may not end up being bad, but it gave me "Shadow of the Wind" flashbacks, and nobody wants those. Well, actually, a lot of people probably do but not me.

Going outside with leftover pizza and a beer to get some work done.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Is there a word for ...

... when you're walking home from the grocery store and suddenly know with a dismal certainty that you have piled everything in your shopping bag - which includes laundry detergent, frozen-food items and a bottle of sweet vermouth - on top of your eggs? Because there should be. Miraculously, not a one was broken.

Today it was foggy and cloudy and it rained. It's been like this all week! I cannot stand this weather. Art Boy has been going around piously saying things like "You need the bad to have the good" and "You need the yin for the yang." I have been kicking him in the crotch. A pox on cloudy weather.

To the lists at right I am adding:
- the fair Bury my lovely, who writes as well as she sings, which is to say very very beautifully;
- the lovely Final Girl, who liked "The Descent" and "High Tension" as much as I did and whose "Dog Soldiers" review title I stole without meaning to;
- and the erudite You Don't Say, where the grammar is always impeccable.

I am also restoring Tavern Wench, which I took down after moving away from Cincinnati, because I keep checking it anyway. If only she would update more often... but the posts she has are worth the wait.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Last bachelorette night

I am enjoying my last night as a temporary bachelorette (how was the St. Patrick's Day dance, Art Boy?) with a nice cigar and a viewing of the last half-hour of "Revenge of the Sith." I really feel Lucas covered a multitude of ills with this. The last shot alone, of the sunset on Tattooine, is so very beautiful. It doesn't matter that Obi-Wan just rode in on a CGI creature that doesn't look like part of the "A New Hope" world. And it is nice to hear the pretty pretty Luke and Leia musical themes. Not good, exactly, but marginally less evil... sort of like voting Democrat in 2008 is going to be.

Sebastian is the only cat in this house oblivious to cigar smoke. Isis and Anastasia are off hiding, convinced as usual that the house is on fire. If the house ever does catch on fire, catching one of our good cats is going to be a real hassle.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Plunge and scrub

Happy St. Patrick's Day, my little Shannons and Josephs! I caught myself reciting "Far and Away" dialogue while washing my stockings this morning. Unfortunately for Art Boy, I have not done very much household-type scrubbing while he's been away. The floor sorely needs vacuuming. But updating my blog before work is more important. Sorry, Art Boy! The world needs this post!

I am just in from a chilly walk around Santa Monica's Main Street. The coast is all socked with fog, and I imagine about two miles inland it is sunny and gorgeous. Everyone on the beach was under towels or had their arms pulled into their T-shirts. On my way down there I made eye contact with a Paul Bettany lookalike (mrrow! Sorry, Art Boy) who grinned at my green "Save Ginny!" T-shirt and said "Gotcher shirt on? All ready to go?" I realized what he meant when I got to Main Street. It's like Mount Lookout Square on steroids. Everyone is wearing green T-shirts and those big Dr. Seuss hats and shamrock antenna headbands. There are lines around the block to get into bars already. I am so happy not to be living next door to Millions and MLT this year, people, I could just scream. I walked around watching everyone stand in line, and then came home to my nice peaceful house for a nice bottle of Mackeson.

Be safe on the roads today. And if you find yourself all crowded up into the front window of a bar, for God's sake don't lean against the window....

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Beware the... ah, forget it

Happy Ides of March, little caesar salads! I am back from a short trip to Nashville. It was really, really lovely to be at home, sleep in my own bed, tromp through the woods with my mom, and eat homecooked food. A couple of good friends came out to the house, as did my brother's wonderful family, so I did not even need to leave the old homestead. The nephew is into Star Wars now, which is an infinite relief after his years of NASCAR obsession.

Now there's some plant work to do - an orchid is inexplicably dying, and the carnivores need water - and a tax appointment to make. I apparently owe the government money this year... yuck. And, of course, there are the cats, one of whom was just bathing himself on the table until he lost his balance and fell off. Never a dull moment.

Here is the niece, practicing her "I'll never be hungry again" pose:

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Awoo! Werewolves of Scotland

Art Boy and I dispatched some rare steaks yesterday and settled down with "Dog Soldiers," the previous film by "Descent" director Neil Marshall. Having cherished "The Descent," I was willing to set aside my aversion to movies about soldiers, particularly since this group of soldiers comes under attack by werewolves in the Scottish wilderness. Outstanding! For the first hour, this movie is just about perfect. There's a good opening scare followed by a quick but chilling scene introducing two of the main characters. By the time it's over, Marshall has efficiently established his hero, his villain, his monster, his setting and his mood. He is so good.

The excellence continues as our soldiers tramp through the woods, gradually coming to realize that they're up against something bad. As in "The Descent," Marshall does a nice job setting up a group of individual characters, who bicker and tease each other, and who respond to the increasing stress in their own idiosyncratic ways. And as in "The Descent," there are witty film references. The soldiers, along with a fetching zoologist, take refuge in a farmhouse that they board up and defend "Night of the Living Dead"-style. "Short, controlled bursts," their commander advises, echoing an order from "Aliens." And one of the guys is even named Bruce Campbell - a reference that feels especially fitting as notes of high camp start to intrude.

Really, once the soldiers are inside the house, it all goes downhill. This is a real shame - I love horror movies set in houses. But here, none of the defenses are logical (sometimes the windows are boarded, sometimes they aren't), and keeping track of the soldiers' positions becomes impossible. They make an NOTLD-inspired run to an outbuilding to retrieve a car, then once it's back at the house, they sit around and listen to the zoologist play "Clair de Lune." What? It's like Marshall decided to have it go several directions, shot several different second halves, and then spliced them all together. At one point I turned to ask Art Boy what was going on, and he had fallen asleep. Let's not even get into the werewolves themselves, who are admirably not CGI creations but who unfortunately resemble interpretive dancers wearing silly masks.

Still, since the first hour was so good, and considering it was direct-to-video, I recommend "Dog Soldiers." You might try drinking a lot during the first half so you don't notice the second half as much.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

"Come on, let's go" visit a famous grave!

Some of my readers are now sighing and rolling their eyes in what I can only hope is loving exasperation. Yes, today I headed into the San Fernando Valley to visit the grave of deceased teenage rock star Ritchie Valens, subject of the film "La Bamba," which wrought havoc with my 11-year-old hormones. The cemetery, San Fernando Mission, is very easy to find and its employees are happy to help visitors find the headstone for Mr. Valens and his mother, who died in 1987 (the year the movie came out!). The employee that I asked said "Ohhh, Ritchie Valens!" in delighted tones and gave me very good directions. It was a ways off, and when I got closer I asked a second employee for help. "Ohh, Ritchie Valens!" he said delightedly and led me to the stone you see above. I studied it a bit self-consciously, and he used his shovel to trim a bit of grass from the edge, before realizing this was perhaps not conducive to a solemn graveside experience and walking away.

It is impressive to contemplate that this boy was only famous for eight months before he died. They are extremely proud of him in his nearby hometown of Pacoima; at least one public building is named for him, and the city went bonkers when he got inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. Do you remember the opening scene in "La Bamba" where the planes crash into each other and destroy the school? That really happened at Ritchie's Pacoima school, and he was really not in class that day because he was attending his grandfather's funeral. The Times had an article about it a few months ago.

I strolled around the cemetery a bit more, and the first employee drove by and saw me, apparently wandering hopelessly lost many yards from where I was supposed to be. "Over there!" he called, vigorously pointing to the grave. I smiled and waved, which he took as a sign of imbecility and pointed with even greater vigor. I finally had to bawl "Yes, I found it, thank you!" across the placid cemetery lawn.

Bob Hope is buried there too, but I don't care about him.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

spring at the edge of the desert

A thousand apologies for the recent lack of updates. I have not been up to a whole lot. Last week I got sick. This week I had to attend a meeting about the Internet in which such concepts as blogs were explained to us. Tonight I shall have to cope with the Libby verdict (which is a genuine surprise, although I suppose it shouldn't be, since Rove has to be protected at all costs. It's a recurring nightmare of mine to be charged with perjury based on memory lapses, though. I would be doomed. Poor Scooter).

This week has felt oddly springlike. It's hot and dry all of a sudden, and there's no smell of mud or new growth or any of the other things I associate with spring. A certain giddiness has just entered the air. The other day I put a chocolate egg in my pocket and forgot about it until hours later when it had melted all over my pants; I hadn't done that since about age six. Anastasia, normally a calm cat, upended a flower pot yesterday afternoon. Something is brewing.

Photos TK of my lovely new carnivores, who all seem to be adapting to life on the patio. One of the sundews is unfurling in four directions like an adorable little octopus. Meanwhile, every fan of "Jane Eyre" should be reading "Villette." This book is incredible.