Friday, March 30, 2007

Question of the Day

Is it possible to have any pretensions to intelligence when you've watched Dancing With the Stars twice now?


I thought you'd say that.

In my defense, I watch it after it's aired on the computer (we don't do regular television, just rent a few shows via Netflix or watch via the 'net) and I can't vote. Even for Billy Ray Cyrus who is trying so hard.

Not that I would vote, of course.

Absolutely not.

Oh, just be quiet.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Desert Island Books

I've been meaning to write about this ever since I saw Under a Blue Moon tackle this question a while ago.

The question is: "What three books would you choose to take on a desert island?"

This is difficult. What exactly would one take if one could only have three books ever? Aside from the fact that it's difficult to imagine being limited to three books for the rest of my life, there is the worrisome fact that I will actually be on a desert island. Forever. I've seen Castaway. I know how ugly things can get. Then again, if Tom Hanks' character had the foresight to bring along his three favorite books maybe he wouldn't have gotten so attached to Wilson. Of course, if he knew enough to remember to pack his three favorite books, that simply begs the question of why on earth he stepped on that plane in the first place?

We'll just accept that by some miraculous circumstance I managed to have the foresight to bring my three favorite books on what was supposed to be a three hour tour. (Hmm, maybe I should check out the other passengers? It's possible that they knew about this whole desert island/favorite book thing and they brought along their own favorites. It could totally happen.)

Without further ado, here are my three choices:
*My Jane Austen Anthology. I realize this is cheating, but officially this is a single bound volume containing all of Ms. Austen's novels and correspondence.
*My Complete Works of Shakespeare. I know, I know. More cheating, but really it is, again, a single bound volume. Of course after living on a desert island and eating only roots and berries, I won't be able to lift either volume, but at least at first I'll be able to.
*You know, I think I'm going to have to go for the Complete Calvin and Hobbes, a huge treasury that came out last year. It'll be perfect for those days when I can't face another tortured prince, mischievous sprite, star-crossed lover, murdering king, or Marriage Minded Miss.

Well, that's my list. Not terribly intellectual, but I think it will suffice, especially if the skipper from the tour boat survives as well and wants a mutual read aloud or Wilson washes up on my beach.

Things Not to do When the Computer Crashes

1. Stare uncomprehendingly at the "Blue Screen of Death".
2. Decide that the BSoD the computer sent to you is obviously just its way of kidding around.
3. Since the computer has developed a sense of humor, pretend that nothing has happened. Keep restarting and Scarlett O'Hara the instructions on the page, as in: "if this is the first time this screen has appeared, restart. If it isn't, you're screwed" (or some such techno speak to that effect). Simply restart the computer over and over.
4. Presume that since the computer is just fine, you've got plenty of time to back up all the stuff that needs to be backed up.
5. Swear colorfully and with deep conviction when it becomes obvious that the computer isn't kidding. Wait, that's fine. Just make sure that the 10 year old isn't around to tell you that the language you're using "doesn't sound like words a mother would use."
6. Assume that your stay with the friendly folks at tech support will be relaxing and rejuvenating.
7. Assume that the friendly folks at tech support have a clue about what they are doing.
8. Stand corrected in your assumption that the friendly folks at tech support (who you now loathe on a deep, visceral level) know nothing since they appear to have just fixed your computer.
9. Cry when it becomes obvious that they didn't. Wait, that's okay. Just don't cry in front of the 17 yr. old, who rolls her eyes and wonders aloud why we all call her the drama queen.

A few things to do when the computer crashes:
1. Eventually get wise and hand the phone over to your husband so he can talk about the BSoD to tech support.
2. Laugh when he starts looking like he's fraying at the edges. Sweet, sweet vindication for all the times he's said words of wisdom like: "It's just a computer, honey; an inanimate object. It's not out to get you. Really. Just relax. It'll be fixed soon."
3. Finally get a technician to come out and replace hard drive and system memory, both of which checked out fine in diagnostics.
4. Be completely assured that will most definitely not address the problem.
5. Decide the hell with it and buy a new laptop while the other waits for repairs.

I will leave you with this public service announcement:

If, while standing in line at Target to purchase the *second* copy of Norton Internet Security in a month, you think the Trident "Cool Colada" gum looks tasty, don't buy it. It isn't.

Monday, March 19, 2007

More Movie Talk

I really love movies, so when I saw this movie meme at The Sheila Variations I couldn't resist.

1. Name a movie that you have seen more than 10 times.
Impossible to name just one. Here's a short list (I've restrained myself):
Sense and Sensibility
The Matrix
A&E's Pride and Prejudice
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
While You Were Sleeping (what can I say? Chick flicks are completely underrated)

2. Name a movie that you’ve seen multiple times in the theater.
Star Wars
Lord of the Rings Trilogy
The Matrix
Looking over this list of films I see that it was completely unnecessary to tell you that I was an RPG geek in my "about me" section.

3. Name an actor that would make you more inclined to see a movie.
Clive Owen
Meryl Streep
Helen Mirren
Leonardo DiCaprio

4. Name an actor that would make you less likely to see a movie.
Russell Crowe
Angelina Jolie

5. Name a movie that you can and do quote from.
Oh, the list is extensive.
The Matrix -
~"No" (make sure you use the appropriate physical gesture of hand held out in front of you)
~"Mr. Anderson" drawled in a seriously bad approximation of Hugo Weaving's voice. Poor guy. Elrond doesn't stand a chance with us in the room. Typecast forever.
~"I know what you're thinking . . . why oh why didn't I take the *blue* pill?" -used whenever a choice has been made that perhaps didn't have quite the outcome hoped for - like having children.
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me:
~"How 'bout no, Scott?" - a seriously handy phrase for mothers
~"We don't gnaw on our kitties" - Don't worry, kitties are in no danger in my house. Well, not too much anyway.
Dirty Dancing:
~"No one puts Baby in the corner." - used extensively when moving furniture.
The Exorcist:
~"The power of Christ compels you!" - used whenever and wherever obstinate, stubborn children reside.
Okay, now I'm bored so I'll stop even though there are numerous films we quote from on a daily basis. I'm sure you're bored too. Looking back over this list, one thing I notice is that the films I list are awfully lowbrow. Not a Shakespeare or even an Orson Wells in the bunch. Sad commentary on all of us, but apparently true.

6. Name a movie musical that you know all of the lyrics to all of the songs
This is truly pathetic, but the only musical that I know all the lyrics to is Grease.
Does the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer count?

7. Name a movie that you have been known to sing along with
Anything with a song that I know a handful of words to. From State Fair to Chicago.

8. Name a movie that you would recommend everyone see.
My Father's Glory
and its sequel,
My Mother's Castle
Absolutely sublime films. Beautifully filmed and acted.

9. Name a movie that you own.
Only one? Okay. Signs

10. Name an actor that launched his/her entertainment career in another medium but who has surprised you with his/her acting chops.
I think Denis Leary would probably be high on my list. I was never a big fan of his when he was a stand up comic, but I think he's amazing before the camera. His work on Rescue Me is terrific. And, please. Someone do M. Night Shyamalan a favor and sign him up for an acting class or two. Cameos are good, but big roles? Um . . . how 'bout no, Scott?

11. Have you ever seen a movie in a drive-in? If so, what?
Sadly, I think answering this question in the affirmative dates me significantly. Truth however, must win out. So, yes, I've seen numerous films at the drive-in.

12. Ever made out in a movie?
Well, yeah. That was the whole point of going to the drive-in.

13. Name a movie that you keep meaning to see but just haven’t yet gotten around to it.
Any Ingmar Bergman film, especially The Seventh Seal.

14. Ever walked out of a movie?
Only one. The Entity with Barbara Hershey. Dear God, what an appalling film.
I just checked Netflix to see if it's out on DVD and it is. What's more shocking is that it gets nearly unanimous good reviews from everyone. Huh. The mind boggles.
I came close to walking out on Pulp Fiction. The S&M scene was just too intense for me. I was terrified for everyone. If I hadn't felt the need to fake blase' sophistication with the friend I viewed it with, I probably would have walked. Interestingly, this scene felt like it lasted *forever* when I saw the film in the theater. When my husband watched it after it came out on video, I was shocked to see how short the scene really was.

15. Name a movie that made you cry in the theater.
I get teary often, but since I hate to really cry, especially in public, I generally keep things pretty contained. There are a few flicks though that just slayed me.
Little Women (the new one) - that scatter of rose petals over Beth's dolls does it every time.
Sophie's Choice - Bad enough before you have children. After? No way.
The Green Mile - I can't even describe for you the sobbing the ensued at the end of this film
Whale Rider - This was interesting. I'm not sure why I cried, but I could barely breathe through the deep, gulping sobs at the end. I wasn't sad, just emotional. Seeing it the second time though barely raised a ripple of emotion from me.

16. Popcorn?
Almost never. I hate to eat during films.

17. How often do you go to the movies (as opposed to renting them or watching them at home)?
As often as I can. Scheduling issues are a challenge.

18. What’s the last movie you saw in the theater?
The Queen. Phenomenal. I'm seriously in love with Helen Mirren.

19. What’s your favorite/preferred genre of movie?
Like the books I read, I'm very eclectic in my taste. I'll generally watch nearly anything. I love documentaries, dramas, romances, historical epics, and witty romantic comedies. I'm also pretty fond of sci-fi and have a terminal weakness for nearly any disaster flick. I can't wait for Cillian Murphy's Sunshine. I'm thinkin' that this one will rival The Core in its plausibility and complexity. We're talking some serious excitement here. Oh yeah, I almost forgot! Any zombie flick that comes out must be viewed as well. We can thank my oldest for that obsession.

20. What’s the first movie you remember seeing in the theater?
I remember Mary Poppins at the drive-in. I must have been preschool aged.

21. What movie do you wish you had never seen?
There have been films I really dislike, Babel was the latest, but I can't think of one that I wish I'd never seen. For a while I guess I was sorry that I'd seen a snippet of Nightmare on Elm Street. The imagery of Freddy stayed with me for a while. Ridiculous now, but at the time it really stuck with me. Once I had children, as I said before, Sophie's Choice haunted me.

22. What is the weirdest movie you enjoyed?
Not exactly a film, but The Kingdom, originally made for Danish television, struck me as bizarre when I first saw it.

23. What is the scariest movie you’ve seen?
Totally The Birds. I still view robins with deep suspicion. And sparrows? Starlings? Forget it. I still won't watch that film as an adult. Give me Scream, The Others, or any other slasher flick/villain and I'm okay. But don't give me those damn birds!

24. What is the funniest movie you’ve seen?
I have no idea. I must just not watch many films that are classified as "comedies". I can think of several films that make me laugh out loud (Kevin Smith films, Christopher Guest films and Much Ado About Nothing for instance), but nothing that I'd characterize as "the funniest movie I've ever seen".
Just Watched . . .

Shut up and Sing.

Whether or not you agree with the group, the film or what the group members have to say, the fact that they can say it means something to me. The fact that we can discuss it means something to me. The fervent wish that we can discuss even inflammatory topics without issuing death threats to one another and attempt to come to some respectful knowledge and understanding of each other is something that I have to believe we can still do.

This Most-Definitely-Not-A-Country-Fan is off to buy the Dixie Chicks latest album . . .

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Crafting? Well, Maybe . . .

I've written here in the past about my lack of creative drive. I become interested in a project, but lose steam before really starting it. I'm surrounded by crafty women who constantly create (try saying that three times fast) but have remained uninspired. Part of my problem is the absolute chaos that reigns downstairs, where all of my crafting materials abide. One is never quite sure what one will find when exploring a drawer or a cupboard. Occasionally it's a lovely surprise. More often than not it's an environment that the CDC would insist on hazardous material garb being donned before entry.

That was last week. This is the dawning of a new age. The dawning of the Age of Organization, which will of course give way soon to the Age of Creativity. I spent hours last weekend going through all of my craft supplies. Now I already did this once this year, or so I said to my husband. Obviously I was mistaken. I must have dreamed my craft supply purge since the disorder that met my attempts at organization was significant. No matter. I rose to the challenge and actually organized my supplies.

I bought this large '30s/'40s era kitchen cupboard a while ago. For some time it resided in my kitchen. My children were distinctly less than thrilled that it had taken up residence there. They quickly christened it "The Ugliness", which I found startlingly unfair and inapt. No amount of attempting to awaken a spirit of appreciation for retro-chic worked. They remained appalling prejudiced against it. The final nail in the coffin of the attempt to engender goodwill was when it "attacked" my youngest daughter, apparently seeking revenge for past slights. It, according to her, jumped right on her. Whether it jumped or not, it's true that it ended up right on top of her - along with all the china and glassware that it housed. Fortunately, other than a couple of bruises and scratches from the frosted glass doors that shattered on impact, my daughter was fine. Shaken, although not as much as her mother, but fine.

After that, it was relegated to the downstairs, firmly anchored to the wall. Now, it houses some of my craft supplies. Even though it has a bit of a checkered past and could use a measure of cosmetic attention, I still love it. I love it's yellow and aqua paint, it's little red capped spice jars and it's drop down "table". I have to admit as well that It still gives me a thrill that the mother in A Christmas Story has one that is very like it in her kitchen. Regardless of it's appearance, I'd love it for the space alone it provides to me for my supplies. Along with several other cupboards, sets of roll away drawers and bins, I've finally gotten everything in one place.

Let the creative process begin!

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Like I imagine most of us do, I have a love/hate relationship with my computer. While I admit to some level of fondness on occasion for it, last week I could cheerfully have pitched the idiotic, not-even-one-year-old machine right straight out the window.

In the interest of total disclosure and fairness toward the electronic monster sharing my family room with me, the problem that crashed my computer wasn't of its making. This basic fact wasn't readily apparent to me, or to Carmen, my helpful tech support person until we'd spent serious quality time together doing various exciting and thrilling diagnostics. What this basic fact was irrefutable proof of though was that my software was irredeemably corrupted. Totally unusable. Carmen told me in an appropriately somber tone that the computer had apparently given me the blue screen of death in order to protect itself. She then went on to suggest in an encouraging tone that we would now try and start the computer in "Safe" mode, thereby attempting to preserve all of my data. I'm sure you can guess how that went. If I had any question about the diagnosis, Carmen's sorrowful tone as she gave me the bad "we've done everything we can, but it's simply not enough" spiel was enough. I had to do a factory restore. Wipe everything. Start clean. Yippee.

So, here I am with most of my important stuff gone. Address book? Nope. Links? Nada. Vast amounts of clip art culled for all over the 'net? Yeah, right. I will now repeat 50 times to myself "Back-up tools are my friends".

After having to pull apart my entire desk in order to access the computer's innards, I actually decided to clean the space up as well. Not generally my reaction, but hey, I was on with tech support for hours. What else was I going to do? Mari-Nanci over at SMILNSIGH posted ages ago a fun entry showing where she blogs. I told her when I was brave enough I'd post the pic from the dungeon that I spend my time blogging from. Unfortunately, you'll never get the full effect of the pit that I work from simply because that space and its documentation is gone forever. So, while looking at these pictures, remember - it was way worse before the computer crash.
I've included helpful numbers drawn in with paint to facilitate easier navigation and understanding of the space.
  • 1. Firefighters calendar given to me by my middle daughter. Hey, it's for a good cause
  • 2.Numerous RPG games that I waste time with instead of writing scintillating, erudite and fascinating prose.
  • 3. Dear God. Filthy monitor. What can I say? This is probably the last item in my house that I would clean. Look though, Kristin! I think that's the view from our tropical island. We'll find a firefighter or two from my calendar and head off any day now.
  • 4. Sustenance. In the form of chocolate. There is nothing else that need be said about that.
  • 5. Yet more games. Did you think I was kidding about my RPG gaming addiction? Thank goodness Bob has forgotten that he lent us those Diablo discs 2 years ago!

Just in case you needed one more shot of the space. There's more to the left, but I'll spare you.