Monday, September 29, 2008

Paul Newman & September Books and Movies

I'm outta here tomorrow right after work and I'll be gone for two weeks. Woohoo!!!


Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich - 310 pages - As you obviously tell, this was the fourteenth installment in Ms. Evanovich's Stephanie Plum's hapless bounty hunter series. While they are enjoyable, I have reached the point of being somewhat annoyed by how hapless Stephanie is. I had announced before I read it that if another of her cars gets blown up I was done with the series. For the record, her POS car did not get blown up in this book.

Phantom Prey by John Sandford - 373 pages - While this is the 18th in Mr. Sandford's Prey series, it has not reached the formulaic point of Ms. Evanovich's. This one was particularly interesting because Lucas Davenport has to venture into the "goth" world. I kind of object to the impression the world has of "goths," since it's not all dark and evil. Mr. Sandford handled it with a light hand and that was nice. I will always recommend a John Sandford book as he's a very good writer.

The Sewing Circles of Herat: A Personal Voyage Through Afghanistan by Christina Lamb - 339 pages - This is a book that ranks up there with Three Cups of Tea which I told you all last December that you should fact, that everybody should read. This is another of those. Ms. Lamb writes about her affection (my word) for Afghanistan gleaned from her years as a foreign correspondent starting from when she rode with the mujaheddin against the Soviets until she went back after the fall of the Taliban. The Sewing Circles of Herat refers to the way the women in Herat taught the girls in that city under the Taliban under the guise of sewing circles. Instead of sewing they were being taught literature, etc., but if the Taliban were making the rounds, they had a little boy playing in the street watching who would run in when danger was near and the books would go into hiding and a makeshift sewing project would come out. Please read this book (and Three Cups of Tea).

Conservatize Me: How I Tried to Become a Righty with the Help of Richard Nixon, Sean Hannity, Toby Keith, and Beef Jerky by John Moe - 313 pages - This book was not as funny as Sweet Jesus, I Hate Bill O'Reilly, but it was darn amusing, especially his footnotes. By the end of the book, he had discovered a bit of man-love for Richard Nixon, but still didn't love George W. Bush. The stories of his 4-year-old Sierra Club member son were very cute. I definitely recommend it.

Book of the Month: The Sewing Circles of Herat: A Personal Voyage Through Afghanistan by Christina Lamb (but you all knew that, didn't you?)


I See A Dark Stranger 1946 (TCM) - Not enough reviews at for a percentage - This movie portrayed a young Deborah Kerr who was raised by an Irish father who hated the British to the point where during WWII she went to London to join the IRA, but was rebuffed as there was a truce (I guess) on. But she ends up recruited by the Germans. Watch the movie to see how it all ends up. You can't go wrong with Deborah Kerr and Trevor Howard.

Escape to Witch Mountain 1974/5 (TCM) 67% - I was flipping channels last Sunday (9/21) and found this. I hadn't seen it in a very long time, but always loved it, so I took the opportunity to do so. You've all seen it, you all know the story - and if you don't you're probably young. ;-) I thought it was interesting that supposedly some movie studio is going to make a new version of this movie but are going to call it Race to Witch Mountain or something like that. I'm not betting money on me bothering. I object to studios just regurgitating the same movies all over again. It's been done. Find something else to do.

The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep 2007 (N) 73% - I loved this movie, but I've always been a sucker for the mystery of the Loch Ness monster. I like to believe that it exists. I have no idea why the mystery enthralls me so, but it does, so there ya go. This was a cute movie.

Movie of the Month: The Water Horse

I'm sure you've all heard by now that Paul Newman died this weekend. Although I was expecting it, I wasn't really prepared for it, as I was hoping that him going home to die of cancer was untrue. He was 83 and while a former co-worker thought he was a "minor" actor, we all know better. I shall treasure my exceptionally cool jacket signed by PLN (on the orange vertical stripe) at Road America a couple of years ago. I shall also treasure this picture. I did not take it and I don't know who did or I'd give him/her credit. All I know is that it shows how much TFG wanted PLN at his shitty May race that he didn't stop PLN from wearing his ORANGE (which kind of clashes with the Icky Racing League's red/white/blue colors) Champ Car Championship hat while at that shitty May race.

Here is the article about Paul Newman that you probably didn't see, as it's all racing related. You all know about his movies, so I'm here to broaden your horizons.

God speed, Mr. Newman. All Champ Car fans everywhere thank you for years of complete support. I'm just sorry you had to see the demise of Champ Car, the racing series you loved. I shall never forget your Daytona 24 Hour GT class win in the Nobody's Fool Mustang in 1995 at the age of 70. You will be missed.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Trivia and Sadness

I haven't been sleeping well of late, but did sleep Sunday night which was a nice change from my usual Sunday nights. I went to bed around 8:00 p.m. which was so necessary. I have so much to do and so little time to do it. I really need to do laundry, I need to figure out what I'm taking with me next week (I leave one week from tomorrow for San Francisco), I need to figure which pair of boots I'm keeping from Zappo's, I need to clean the apt. since I'm going to be gone for two weeks, etc.

Now I leave next Tuesday right after work which means I'll be packing on Monday, especially, since I have a full day of plans for Sunday. I told Grandma I'd come over and see her new place and teach her to knit since the knitting classes haven't been happening. And then my brother scheduled my nephew's birthday party for Sunday as well (since I won't be here for his actual birthday – oops).

There's no way in heck all the knitting I need to get done is going to get done either. I really need to get moving on scarves for people I'm going to be seeing in SF. I wanted to knit this cute lace skirt-overlay for the The Crüxshadows concert in SF, but it's just not going to happen. I haven't even finished translating the lace chart into English (charts give me a headache and make me want to cry). Here's hoping I can get it done in time for them to come to Detroit on November 8.

Friday HRH came down to Windsor, so I went over to hang with her for the night. This was planned a few months back, and then a month or so ago she sent me an e-mail asking if I wanted to see Air Supply that night as Casino Windsor was offering her free tickets. I responded with a "Heck yeah!" She thought I was joking and replied with "Really?" Yup, really. I loved Air Supply when I was young and how could I pass up free tickets, for heaven's sake? It was about as cheesy as you'd expect and the crowd was a lot of older than I had expected. The lady next to HRH had a cane, for heaven's sake, and was easily in her 70s. HRH lasted a whole lot longer than she said she would, mostly because she didn't want to disturb the lady with the cane.

On a whole other note, life can suck really badly sometimes. At work we got moved (not physically – YET), but organizationally to yet another department. Anyway, the Kathleen equivalent in that group sends out the department-wide e-mails re: births, deaths, etc. And lately, her portion has been having the births, while mine has had five deaths within the past month, and the fifth one was this week: a co-worker's 8-month old (or so) daughter. We have absolutely no idea what happened. Until this morning when he sent me the funeral arrangements, we didn't even know which daughter (he also has a 2.5 year old). He got a phone call while at work on Tuesday and left suddenly and in a great panic, from all accounts. I wasn't here as it happened after I leave for the day, but a friend called me at home and I was just stunned by the news. Whenever I would ask him about his daughters, his face would just light up as he'd tell me about them. A co-worker who's in Europe right now called the second he got the e-mail and said that when he was home back in August he had been talking to the co-worker and that the co-worker was all excited about his daughters and even said, "I caught up to you, I now have two children." And then they talked about their kids.

I can't even begin to understand his and his wife's pain and anguish at this, but I feel as if my heart is broken for them, as ridiculous as that sounds. Tears keep welling up in my eyes as I think about it and I used my last bloody tissue yesterday and forgot to bring a box in, and I really need to invest in waterproof mascara.

It seems petty to bitch about packing and boot deciding in the face of tragedy, so I'll end this now.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Today is Mom's birthday and I'm due at Grandma's country club at 7:00 p.m. for dinner. Problem with the country club is the "no jeans" rule. *sigh* Makes Grandma happy though and isn't that what is actually important? I gave Mom her presents on Sunday after church when I took her out for breakfast - we went really high class and hit the IHOP. I knit her a fabulous silk/alpaca scarf in a very pretty blue. I told her that I wanted it to be her signature piece. She didn't seem to know what I meant by that.

Grandma moved into assisted living and somehow managed to get a two-bedroom apt after all. She moved into a one bedroom and then the following week or so a two bedroom opened up, so she moved right up into that and apparently it's the biggest apt. in the place. She has new furniture and she's looking forward to taking knitting class which they supposedly offer there, but they haven't had one since she moved in. I gave her some yarn and two pairs of my favorite knitting needles Labor Day weekend and now she's just waiting for the class.

This past weekend we, as in southeast Michigan, got rain the entire freaking weekend - 3-6" apparently. I thought about Fermicat the whole time wondering if we were getting Georgia's share. Sure we hadn't had rain since July, but nothing compared to them and I feel guilty getting rain when they're in such dire straits. Not that we don't need it, too, but I think they need it worse. Of course, I'd rather get the rain now and let them get the wet stuff in the winter when here it would be white crap falling from the sky.

Have I mentioned that I'm heading off to San Francisco at the very end of the month (late on Sept. 30) and spending 9 days there and then off to Vegas to spend time with my racing friends who I haven't seen since April (except for HRH who I just saw Labor Day Friday and will see again this Friday)? The plan is to go back to the Valley of Fire. Other than that, my only plan is to get my Champ Car tattoo with HRH. She wants hers on her ankle. I'm against the ankle as I hear it's really painful there. I discussed the tattoo placement with Ursula who is my tattoo guidance counselor. I want it somewhere which isn't too obvious, too painful, too white-trash or too tramp-stampy...which leaves the inside of my left wrist where I can hide it with my watch.

Oh, I never updated you on the Big Milk Issue. I hated the soy milk - had I told you that part? - so I went with rice milk/drink the next time around and I have to say that it's MUCH better. I haven't tried cooking anything with it yet, but it's working out fabulously with my cereal, which is 90% of my milk usage.

I have no clue what's going on in my city but there are police sirens going constantly! When I was walking home a police car went SCREAMING down Oakwood. And I had to walk *in* Oakwood to get home because of all the roadwork occurring on all the streets around my home - including my very own street which is torn to hell. In fact, I'm not sure there's a street in the western half of my city that's not under construction. I'm wondering if they'd be better off doing ONE street at a time and concentrating all the workers on that one street for a shorter period of time than disrupting a good number of streets and displacing numerous people's parking spots. Of course, if this helps the drainage issue (supposedly they're putting in much larger pipes for the sewage or whatever) and it's done quickly enough, I might regret my whining. I'll keep you posted on how long I have to fight for parking with the apts. dwellers on the other street.

See why I haven't been posting? You'd have been even more bored with the nothingness I have to report. ;-)

Have a lovely week!

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

August's Books & Movies

I know I've been completely MIA of late. I just haven't had the wherewithal to blog. I don't know why but I've been feeling a little punky - not depressed, per se, but just not myself. I go to work, I come home, sit on the couch, watch whatever is on my DVR and play Rise of Atlantis. I have nothing to tell you about and don't even feel like e-mailing people I really need to e-mail. I just want to sleep - and to that end I went to bed at 6:30 p.m. on Friday night. How sad is that?

I got my hair cut this morning, so we'll see if my punky mood was just related to having too much hair on my head.

Here is the requisite book and movie list for the month of August.


The Wrath of God by Jack Higgins - 248 pages - I had picked a copy at a church rummage sale for 25 cents not realising that I already owned it and had already read it. Oops. Still can't go wrong with a Jack Higgins, especially an old one before he got overinvolved with his Sean Dillon character - don't get me wrong. I love the Sean Dillon character, and the books, but I think he's gotten a little formulaic in the past few years (not that it'll stop me from buying his new book when it comes out in October).

Savage Arena by Joe Tasker - 264 pages - This is the last book Joe Tasker wrote before he headed off for the then yet unclimbed North East Ridge of Everest where he and Peter Boardman were last seen. In it he talks about how he got interested in climbing and describes a number of different climbs including his version of some climbs that Peter Boardman also wrote about (i.e., Changabang from The Shining Mountain). It was interesting to see how each of them approached the same mountain and viewed issues. And how they viewed each other. The power of words is very evident in this book where Joe describes an avalanche that hit while they were sleeping and I felt as if I were suffocating right along with him. I swear I gasped for air while reading it.

Sacred Summits by Peter Boardman - 258 pages - This was the last book that Peter Boardman was to write before he went off to climb Everest for a second time. In it he describes climbing three different peaks in one year (1979), starting with the Carstenz Pyramid the highest point in Indonesia, and one of the seven summits (the highest points of each continent) with his then girlfriend, eventually to be wife, Hilary. That was a fairly illegal climb since they had been told that they weren't to climb it, but they made it. The 2nd sacred summit was Kangchenjunga on the Nepal-Sikkim (India) border. It means "The Five Treasures of the Snow" (picture link) and has five summits. The third peak of 1979 for Peter Boardman was Guari Sankar which according to Boardman "has deep religious significance for both Hindus and Buddhists. Sankar (the North Summit) is the Hindu god Shiva, married to the goddess Guari (the South Summit). The Buddhist Rolwaling Sherpas living south of the mountain can only see the South Summit and call it Jomo Tseringma, Throughout Buddhist Lamaism, to as far away as Sikkim, Tseringma is considered the most holy mountain of the Sherpas." (p. 181, Sacred Summits, The Boardman Tasker Omnibus)

I'm not sure I can pick either Sacred Summits or the Savage Arena over the other as book of the month. Of course, you can only pick either of them up as The Boardman Tasker Omnibus, so if you're going to, you might as well read both of them.

I did better movie wise than I had done previously.


8/3 - La Vie en Rose (N) 2007 - This is not what I would call a happy movie. It was also very disjointed timeline-wise and a little hard to follow. It jumped back and forth and not between two different times or something semi-logical, but it was literally all over the bloody place. It intrigued me enough to do a little research on Edith Piaf, but I'm pretty much over it now.

8/3 - Notes on a Scandal (N) 2006 - 87% - I think the 87% favored rating this movie got from rotten is a clear indication of why I should never ever listen to critics. I pretty much hated this movie. Judi Dench was incredible, as always. As was Cate Blanchett, but I just don't handle movies (or TV shows) where I can clearly see that someone is going to do something incredibly stupid. And another person is going to take complete advantage.

8/4 - Lewis Black: Screwed (Comedy Central) 2006 - I'm pretty sure I didn't see the whole thing as this was on Comedy Central and cut to hell with commercials, but this was pretty bloody funny.

8/6 - Keeping Mum 2005 55% - I borrowed this from the Libertarian (he offered) and I think this is another indication that I should go by my own judgement vs the critics as this was definitely a better movie than Notes on a Scandal, at least in my humble opinion. You just can't go wrong with Maggie Smith and Kristin Scott Thomas. And while I can't stand Patrick Swayze and never thought he was all that and a bag of chips, I have to say he was PERFECT for his part as the pastor's-wife-seducing-golf pro. The scene with him in bikini underwear is hysterical. It's definitely dark, as British black comedy can be, but worth it, I think.

8/7 - Stargate: The Ark of Truth (N) 2008 - It was 2 hours worth of Stargate can an SG-1 lover go wrong? Truthfully, it was so long ago, I barely remember it. A sign of the brain getting old?

8/9 - Stargate: Continuum (N) 2008 - Definitely the better of the two SG-1 movies, and some fantastic footage of a navy (real) submarine coming up through the ice in the ARCTIC! I've decided that Michael Shanks is a prime donna - from having to have his name last in the credits at the beginning with the whole "And Michael Shanks as Dr. Daniel Jackson" and how he refused to go to the Arctic to do the filming. Whatever. Get the hell over yourself. Bring back Corin Nemec! ;-)

8/10 - The Man Who Fell To Earth (DVR) 1976 86% - I truly think this is a movie I should watch a second time in order to understand it better. It's David Bowie, so you know it's worth watching, but I have to confess that I was very confused at first. And I'm not sure that the ending didn't also confuse me. I'm betting money a number of you have already seen it and can actually explain it to me. And if you would, that would be so greatly appreciated. ;-)

8/10 - In Bruges (N) 2008 81% - I had heard about this movie through the Very Short List daily e-mail that I get. While I normally am not a huge fan of blood-filled movies, this one sounded very interesting, and I have to say that I was glad that I followed the recommendation of the VSL because I quite liked this movie. It was clever w/o being over the top and parts were very funny. Other parts were enough to make you cry. All in all, I'd say this is definitely to be seen.

8/14 - P.S. I Love You (N) 2007 20% - Another movie which I liked a whole lot better than the critics did. In fact, I loved this movie, even though I cried my way through it. What can I say? I'm a wuss for sappy love stories (some days more than others). Any movie that starts with the Pogues' Fairytale of New York can't be all bad.

8/16 - The Dark Knight (Drive-In) 2008 94% - A group of friends went to the drive-in to celebrate two birthdays and to watch The Dark Knight. I have to say that Heath Ledger was definitely creepy. I thought it was very good and I want to see it again. Does Heath Ledger draw from Jack Nicholson's Joker? More than likely, but I think Heath gives it an extra edge of creepy with the snake-like tongue-flicking. I spent most of the movie trying to see Heath Ledger through the make-up and couldn't, while I never had that problem with Jack Nicholson's Joker.

8/24 - The Brothers Grimm (N) 2005 37% - An interesting take on the Brothers Grimm of fairy tale fame wherein they pretend to save towns from witches and such by manufacturing the witches themselves. Then one day they're forced to save a town which turns out to have a real witch, however, it takes them a while to figure that out. It's The Brothers Grimm, so you might figure on a happy ending.

Movie of the Month is a tie between In Bruges & P.S. I Love You - how's that for some disparate movies?

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