Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Lie Which Refuses to Die - Black Tape for a Blue Girl

This week I'm taking on the issue of those pesky ambiguous traffic signs. I think I only have two to discuss, so it won't be quite the diatribe that the grammar post was.

The other day I was driving in Royal Oak and saw someone turn from the far left lane into the right lane. This might not seem to be a problem to you, except that the second left lane also can turn left…I think you see the problem.

I'll set it up for you. There are five lanes of eastbound traffic at this particular intersection (I696 service drive & Woodward). I was in the fourth lane with my turn signal on to indicate that I was turning left at Woodward (that lane can also go straight to turn at Main Street). The car that had been in front of me got into the fifth lane (i.e., far left lane), where he didn't have a choice, he had to turn left or hit a curb and cement guardrail doohickey. I made my turn into the far right lane as I wanted to head up Washington. I notice that the dumbshit in the car that had been in front of me made an exceptionally wide turn into the right lane, thankfully behind me. But, really, people. If two lanes can turn left (or even right), let's think about where we're turning. Far left lane into the far right lane is STUPID!!!

My other issue is the Yield sign. This sign actually means something!!!! It's NOT the same as NO SIGN!!! My problem location for this is the Southfield service drive southbound at Michigan Avenue. It means you're supposed to YIELD to traffic coming off the freeway. They aren't supposed to YIELD to you! And sometimes with a YIELD you actually have to STOP. I swear damn near nobody on that service drive even *thinks* about yielding. They just go and people coming off the freeway have to slam on their brakes to avoid hitting them. Dumbshits. I really wish they'd put a STOP sign there (like the Ford Road exit), because then people would at least contemplate YIELDING!

Monday, my sisters, niece and I took Grandma out for dinner for her 89th birthday (isn't she just the cutest?). She got to pick where we went and she chose The Olive Garden. Just an explanation for what follows.

Open Letter to The Olive Garden

Dear Olive Garden,

I just wanted to send you an FYI: Budweiser, Bud Light, Miller Lite, Coors Light, Michelob Ultra & O'Doul's are generally not considered to be "premium" beers – by anybody. Just because you call them that on your menu doesn't fool anybody. I'm guessing it's just so you can charge "premium" prices.

That is all,

I've almost done with my Christmas shopping. The only person left is my 17-year-old niece. I know what I'm going to get her, the problem is that I try to avoid malls this time of year and I've decided on a gift card to The Body Shop. I refuse to buy the girl clothes. I'd like to give her money for the college fund, except that as far as I know there is no college fund and she'd just use it to buy clothes. I'm hoping that she'll buy more than just make-up at The Body Shop and start taking care of her skin. Maybe I should just buy some skin care products, instead of the gift card, eh? My mother didn't teach me at all about skin care, so I want to rectify that wrong. I didn't get Grandma done until late last week when I ordered her a beautiful silk scarf from National Geographic and it's already arrived! It's a combination b-day/Christmas present as her birthday is so close to Christmas and she's impossible to buy for. She's been known to tell people what she wants for Christmas, but then buys it for herself before Christmas. I even got to the post office yesterday to mail presents off around the world. I had bought the LB's (little brother) Christmas present back in Sept. or Oct., but getting to the post office is a complete chore for me, so I had to make myself go yesterday so that it would get to CA before Christmas Day. I also mailed out a scarf for my aunt – it's technically her b-day present which was in October, but again, I'm not so good at getting to the post office. And lastly, there's a box heading to Iraq and Blue Meany. Nothing spectacular, just a little something to remind her that there are people stateside thinking about her.

This weekend is going to be hectic, starting with a Christmas concert Friday night. Saturday is Fucking Cookie Day followed by a party at Martha's. Sunday is church, followed by brunch at Grandma's country club, after which we all go to Grandma's and hang out and complain about how full we are while Grandma putters in the kitchen trying to put out snacks. She's so darn cute. I'll sit in the "knitting" chair because I'm still knitting furiously trying to get everything done that needs to be done. Although if Aunt Joanie suggests a game of Scrooge, I will put the knitting down because there's nothing as fun as a high stakes (pride) game of Scrooge (although if Mom plays, it's automatically less fun as she takes after her father – we all loved Grandpa, but he was a well known poor loser – and she's an even worse winner. She's lucky I don't slap her as she whines her way through the game.).

I just told you about two family traditions (F'ing Cookie Day and Brunch) – do you have any family traditions you either hate or absolutely love?

P.S. I swear FWG, I'm working on the book post.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

November's Reading and Watching List

I am in the middle of some serious knitting for Christmas, filling orders for other people, and figuring out what I need to do for myself as well. No time for slacking and blog reading, sadly.

On to November's reading and watching list.


I started reading Norman Mailer's latest book about Hitler, but after about 100 pages I gave it up (at least for now) because I was hating it. I can see me going back to it at some point, though, so hopefully, all is not lost.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman – 370 pages – I had read this a few years back but found the TV series at Netflix and wanted to read the book again before watching the miniseries. Until Neil Gaiman I wouldn't have said that I enjoyed the fantasy genre, but I can no longer say that, or maybe I just like Neil Gaiman. The story focuses around Richard Mayhew who stumbles across a bleeding girl, named Door, one night on his way to dinner with his snotty fiancée. He insists on helping the girl which pisses off the fiancée. The girl turns out to be from London's underworld – literally, not criminal underworld – and he helps her get back to where she belongs, but somehow that makes him invisible in London Above. Door is investigating the deaths of her family and Richard ends up helping with that task. I quite liked this story.

Silence by Thomas Perry – 439 pages – If you have not yet discovered Thomas Perry (although why that would be when I know I recommended him quite strongly last year), you are doing yourself a disservice. Why John Grisham has the following he does makes no sense to me when there are writers like Thomas Perry and John Sandford out there who write (grammatically and thematically) so much better than he does? Mr. Perry's plots are well thought out and flow effortlessly, even while he's keeping you in the dark about certain things. I can't say the same for Mr. Grisham's although perhaps he has gotten better since The Firm and The Pelican Brief. Silence is about a husband-wife assassin team who are trying to silence somebody who can turn their initially behind the scenes employer into a jailbird. If you enjoy murder type thrillers, pick this one up!

Nightlife by Thomas Perry – 404 pages – I missed this one when it came out last year, much to my chagrin, but it just meant that I got to read TWO Thomas Perry books in a row and that's all good to me. Nightlife starts with somebody getting killed, then abruptly shifts to Los Angeles where the reader follows Hugo Poole to a meeting about which he is leery. Turns out that Hugo is a bit of a criminal type, although how much of one is never really explained. There's a psychotic serial killer, a female detective, a male private investigator and sundry other murder victims and they all make up a very intriguing story.

Dark of the Moon by John Sandford – 373 pages – John Sandford's very latest novel in which he makes someone, Virgil Flowers aka "that fuckin' Flowers," introduced in his last Preynovel into the primary character, giving Lucas Davenport a break, I guess. I love John Sandford and have read every single one of his novels. I even got engineers at work who haven't read more than two books in their lives reading him, and let me tell you, that's saying something! The man can write! The man can create kick-ass plots! In this book, Virgil is investigating the murders of a retired doctor and his wife in the back of beyond Minnesota. The night he shows up in Bluestem, MN, another elderly person turns up dead (obviously murder, too). Virgil has his work cut out for him as in this small town everybody knows everybody and everybody's business. He, of course, solves the murders. Sorry to give away the ending.

It's tough picking a Book of the Month as I loved all three, but I have to go with Nightlife by Thomas Perry.


I'm back to knitting for Christmas and not going to the gym which means LOTS of movies were watched.

11/2 - Pride and Prejudice - This was actually a high school in which my friends' daughter had the lead role of Elizabeth. I am a sucker for high school plays and I loved this. I might even try to read the book at some point (I tried reading Wuthering Heights back in high school and couldn't get past three pages, so I've had a tendency to avoid this Victorian type literature).

11/4 - Control - 2007 - (Theatre) – 89% - This was my third and final time seeing Control in the theatre. If you want to know how I felt about it, go read last month's listing. ;-)

11/6 & 8 & 10 - Neverwhere 1996 - (N) – Episodes 1-6. I found out while watching the Neil Gaiman commentary that the miniseries came before the book, so obviously I was happy in that it followed the book. DUH. He also explained away the few discrepancies as money or directorial differences made while he was off doing something in another country.

11/7 - The Matador - 2005 - (Encore) – 75% - I saw this was playing on one of my many digital cable free movie channels and DVRd it. I enjoyed this movie. I liked that Pierce Brosnan played the seedy assassin, because I like it when actors/actresses don't rely on their looks, but on their acting ability (see Johnny Depp vs. Richard Grieco) when taking a film role. It's not complete fluff as moral decisions are made and discussed. If you have a chance to see this, I'd give it a chance (although I found the sex scenes a tad uncomfortable, so I wouldn't watch it with your children or your mother). I still remember the discomfort of watching Pretty Woman with my mother and the piano scene. Oy vey.

11/10 - Divorce: Italian Style - 1962 (TCM) – 100% - I had this in my Netflix queue, but then found it on TCM, so once again I made judicious use of my DVR. I realise this movie is a comedy, but I guess I don't find murder as an answer to an unhappy marriage as a good alternative. I realise it's all related to era and Italy and the Catholic Church, etc., but I guess there are too many people (mostly women, it seems) being murdered these days by their husbands as an answer to their marital problems for this premise to amuse me. And it was a bit creepy Mastroianni having an affair with his young niece/cousin (I remembered it as niece, but IMDB says cousin).

11/10 - Bogie - 1980 (DVR) – This was a made for TV movie and dear God, did it scream "I'm a 1980s Made for TV Movie." It was horrendous. The music reminded me of the Love Boat as did the lettering used for the title sequence. The guy who played Bogart seemed to make his living playing Bogart, simply because he signed like him. I could fool myself that it was Bogie as long as I only listened to this. Do yourself a massive favor and don't waste your time on this waste of celluloid.

11/11 - Finding Nemo - 2003 (K) – 98% - I babysat for my friends' 11-month-old baby and took this along. He seemed fascinated with the colors which is all that's really important. I had a lovely time babysitting him (what a sweet baby).

11/14 - The Jazz Singer - 1927 (TCM) 78% - I knew the gist of the story as I had seen Neil Diamond's version a thousand or so years ago. I know that there's all sorts of controversy because Al Jolson appeared in black face in this movie, but my question is WHY??? Why did he appear in black face? It made no sense to me, and I didn't catch any kind of explanation. I'm not being overly sensitive, just wondering what thought process went on behind the scene. It's known as the film that introduced the idea of talkies which isn't completely true (two previous movies had had sound), but it's credited with making the conversion inevitable. For that reason alone, it's worth seeing. And the opportunity to hear a great singer from a much earlier era.

11/18 - Bob le Flambeur - 1955 (N) 96% - This was the movie that inspired the original (Frank Sinatra's) Ocean's 11. Bob the high roller decides to try robbing a casino and gets various and sundry people involved, etc., etc., etc. You know the premise. The fun part is that this movie is as different from Frank's Ocean's 11 as that one is from the modern Ocean's 11. I recommend them all most enthusiastically.

11/18 - Outing Riley - 2007 (N) - I rented this movie because Nathan Fillion was in it. It's the story a gay man who is Irish Catholic but hasn't come out to his family (save his sister) yet. The movie begins at his father's wake and is told in a kind of 1st person style with thought balloons, per se. It wasn't the best "telling the family I'm gay" story as I thought it had some fairly stereotypical (brother is a Catholic priest) and trite scenes, but as a whole it was a good movie.

11/23 - Shrek the Third - 2007 (rental) 42% - I remember the critics not liking the latest installment of the Shrek movies, but I have to say that I laughed and generally thought it enjoyable. I sometimes think it helps to go into a movie expecting it to suck because then it doesn't take a lot to make you happy. The ogre babies were pretty damn cute, too.

11/27 - Slither - 2006 (N) 84% - Another movie I rented solely because Nathan Fillion was in it. I was wondering what the hell I was thinking of, since I hate horror movies, but I watched the entire thing. It's a zombie movie with a twist in that they aren't created from the dead, but by some organism that fell to earth from a distance planet/galaxy/universe. I enjoyed it much more than I had expected.

11/27 - Millions - 2005 (IFC) 88% - I saw the preview for this back in 2005 and made a note that I wanted to see it. I don't think it ever made it to the Netflix queue, but when I saw it was playing on IFC, I DVRd it. I loved this movie. The little boys were so cute (the younger one fascinated by the saints and helping the poor and the older one fascinated by money and exchange rates), but not so cute as to be saccharine. It was a little bit classic Disney in that the mother had died and the father is raising the two boys. They move into a new house and the younger boy has a cardboard fort where he is visited by saints near some railroad tracks. A bag of money falls from the sky and he makes it his duty to feed the poor and give the money away while the older boy wants to invest it. It's British so it's not overly cutesy. I definitely recommended this movie.

11/28 - The French Connection - 1971 (Enc) 97% - Another movie people are always shocked to find out I hadn't seen. It was another one in my Netflix queue that I found playing on digital cable, and therefore, DVRd it. I had no clue that Fernando Rey was in it or I might not have taken so long to see it. A fabulous Spanish actor who did lots of French films, mainly due to Franco, I think. It's a tad violent, but what do you expect from a movie set in NYC in the early 70s and based around drugs. I have yet to see The French Connection II.

11/29 - Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - 1941 (TCM) 72% - I'm a little surprised at the rating. I thought Spencer Tracy was fabulous as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He was CREEPY as Hyde. I trust we all know the story and I don't have to give a synopsis. Besides Spencer Tracy, it had Lana Turner and Ingrid Bergman.

11/30 - Chicken Little - 2005 (Enc) 37% - While I wasn't overly impressed with this, I didn't think it deserved such a low rating. I thought Chicken Little himself was cute, but the study of cliques in schools to be a tad heavy-handed, especially when shown as sanctioned and encouraged by teachers. Still, it's better than watching a Dubya press conference, right? ;-)

Whew! Finally got through this! Right now I'm reading an absolutely excellent book. I'll tell you all about it next month, but I'm going to tell you right now that you all must read Three Cups of Tea. I am so in love with this book, I want to give it to everybody for Christmas. And I'm only halfway through it.

Oops, Movie of the Month was Millions!

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