I am trying to be truthful

Not a red rose or a satin heart. 
I give you an onion. 
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper. 
It promises light 
like the careful undressing of love. 
It will blind you with tears 
like a lover. 
It will make your reflection 
a wobbling photo of grief. 
I am trying to be truthful. 
Not a cute card or a kissogram. 
I give you an onion. 
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips, 
possessive and faithful 
as we are, 
for as long as we are. 
Take it. 
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding ring, 
if you like. 

Its scent will cling to your fingers, 
cling to your knife. 

it's best to be as pretty as possible for destiny

Do you prefer to avoid or confront conflict?  confront—but that takes two grown-ups, and therefore doesn't happen very often

Do you take notes or jot down ideas online or with a pen and paper?  I have ideas all over the place: on my phone, laptop, Kindle, scraps of paper, journal, notebooks, sticky notes... Every now and then (like this weekend, as I'm writing this) I pull them all together and compile into one list - or, more likely, just throw the whole thing out and start again. (I sincerely hope that made some Type A's gasp in horror!

Say you were given a kitten, what would you name him/her?  Bob or Tom or Trina

What board game are you unbeatable at?  not "unbeatable," but I quite like Chinese Checkers

a much nicer board than mine

What book are you currently reading?  Turn to Stone, the seventh in the Ellie Stone mystery series by James W. Ziskin

What book would you recommend other people read?  The Monk Downstairs by Tim Farrington

What do you cover your frozen yogurt with?  strawberries

What is the best date you have been on?  a southern-style pizza and drinks and a surprise band, on a patio with fire-pits, on a warm summer night. It was fun, unexpected, not expensive, funny, great people-watching, comfortable, and uniquely (and low-key) romantic.

What is your favorite Christmas movie?  Holiday Inn 
Holiday Inn (film)

What is your favourite store?  anyplace with books

What is your go to movie theater snack?  fresh, hot, buttery, salty popcorn and a Coke

What was the last movie you attended? 1917

Who is your least favorite actor?  I just don't get Will Ferrell 

[from here; the title quotation is by Coco Chanel]


they are driven to experience the impossible

You’ve seen them at dusk, walking along the shore, seen 
them standing in doorways, leaning from windows, or strad-
dling the slow moving edge of a shadow. Lovers of the in-
between, they are neither here nor there, neither in nor out. 
Poor souls, they are driven to experience the impossible. Even 
at night, they lie in bed with one eye closed and the other 
open, hoping to catch the last second of consciousness and 
the first of sleep, to inhabit that no man’s land, that beautiful 
place, to behold as only a god might, the luminous conjunc-
tion of nothing and all. 

the course of true love... ...gathers no moss

A slate of classics. Just see how well that works....

Sunset Blvd
 Blvd. (1950) - "A screenwriter develops a dangerous relationship with a faded film star determined to make a triumphant return."
Source: I borrowed the Blu-ray from the public library
I watched it because: William Holden is a favorite, and this is a classic
AFI: 100 Years ... 100 Movies (original list 1998) #12
100 Years ... 100 Movies (10th anniversary edition 2007) #16
IMDB: 8.4/10  -  Rotten Tomatoes: Tomatometer: 99% Audience: 95%
notable quote: "'I'm not an executive, just a writer.'
    'You are, are you? Writing words, words, more words! Well, you'll make a rope of words and strangle this business! With a microphone there to catch the last gurgles, and Technicolor to photograph the red, swollen tongues!'"
story: down on his luck writer happens into a gig ghostwriting for a silent film star whose career has not gone the way she'd planned
visuals: gorgeously shot, lit, and carried out - the way that the characters move through the scenes
costumes, hair & makeup: stunning, theatrical but believable at the same time
acting: I'd expected to find it melodramatic, but I was sucked in completely, right away, and it wouldn't let me go. Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond is one of the finest performances I've ever seen on film. 
intangibles: Sunset Blvd. has been called the best film about moviemaking, which I absolutely believe. I was riveted from start to finish, amazed by how many lines I knew, and utterly drawn in by the plot. 
Academy Award winner:
• Best Writing, Story and Screenplay—Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, D.M. Marshman, Jr.
• Best Art Direction—Set Decoration, Black and White
• Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture
Academy Award nominee:
• Best Actor—William Holden (Joe Gilles)
• Best Actress—Swanson
• Best Supporting Actor—Erich von Stroheim (Max Von Mayerling)
• Best Supporting Actress—Nancy Olson (Betty Schaefer)
• Best Director—Billy Wilder
• Best Cinematography, Black and White
• Best Film Editing
• Best Picture
overall: very highly recommended

 (1950) - "Due to his insistence that he has an invisible six-foot-tall rabbit for a best friend, a whimsical middle-aged man is thought by his family to be insane—but he may be wiser than anyone knows."
Source: I borrowed the DVD from the public library
I watched it because: it's about a rabbit, and it was Easter
AFI: 100 Years ... 100 Laughs (2000) #35
10 Top 10 (2008) Fantasy #7
IMDB: 7.9/10  -  Rotten Tomatoes: Tomatometer: 86% Audience: 93%
notable quote: "Years ago, my mother used to say to me, she'd say, 'In this world, Elwood, you can be oh so smart, or oh so pleasant.' Well, for years I was smart.... I recommend pleasant. You may quote me."
story: profoundly ineffectual, mentally ill man lives with his sister and her daughter, under an extreme psychotic delusion that his family and various townspeople not only accept but encourage. Hilarity ensues.
visuals: pretty basic sets
acting: painfully effective 
intangibles: this is supposed to be comedy, and it is supposed to be good cinema, but I found it excruciating. I don't think it is a matter of how film, or life, has changed since the 1950s, that I am embarrassed and disgusted by it because of my 'modern sensibilities,' but that I am missing some kind of comedy gene that others seem to have in abundance.  I thought this movie was God-awful and sad.
Academy Award winner: Best Supporting Actress—Josephine Hull (Veta Louise Dowd Simmons)
Academy Award nominee: Best Actor—James Stewart (Elwood P. Dowd)
overall: not recommended

Ben Hur
 (1959) - "After a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend, he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge."
Source: I borrowed the DVD from the public library
I watched it because: it's on the AFI lists
AFI: 100 Years ... 100 Movies (original list 1998) #72 
100 Years ... 100 Thrills (2001) #49
100 Years ... 100 Cheers (2006) #56
100 Years ... 100 Movies (10th anniversary edition 2007) #100
10 Top 10 (2008) Epic #2
IMDB: 8.1/10  -  Rotten Tomatoes: Tomatometer: N/A% Audience: 74%
notable quote: "When I find him, I shall know him."
visuals: big and elaborate
costumes, hair & makeup: mini-togas for the guys, and strangely form-fitting shroud-y gowns for the ladies
acting: big and elaborate, like theater in a thousand-seat house
intangibles: I hated it. Boring, way overlong (212 minutes), repetitive, and of course Charlton Heston (Judah Ben-Hur), the pre-Shatner, chewing the scenery throughout. I am not especially fond of epics, and this is the prime example of why.
Academy Award winner:
• Best Picture—Sam Zimbalist
• Best Actor—Heston
• Best Supporting Actor—Hugh Griffith (Sheik Ilderim)
• Best Director—William Wyler
• Best Cinematography, Color
• Best Art Direction—Set Decoration, Color
• Best Costume Design, Color
• Best Sound
• Best Film Editing
• Best Effects, Special Effects
• Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture
Academy Award nominee: Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium
overall: not recommended

The Philadelphia Story
The Philadelphia Story
 (1940) - "When a rich woman's ex-husband and a tabloid-type reporter turn up just before her planned remarriage, she begins to learn the truth about herself."
Source: I borrowed the Blu-ray from the public library
I watched it because: I knew nothing about it except that it was on the AFI lists
AFI: 100 Years ... 100 Movies (original list 1998) #51
100 Years ... 100 Laughs (2000) #15
100 Years ... 100 Passions (2002) #44
100 Years ... 100 Cheers (2006) #20
100 Years ... 100 Movies (10th anniversary edition 2007) #44
10 Top 10 (2008) Romantic Comedy #5
IMDB: 7.9/10  -  Rotten Tomatoes: Tomatometer: 100% Audience: 93%
notable quote: "'Dexter, are you sure?'
    'Not the least, but I'll risk it. Will you?'
    'You bet!'"
story: Tracy and Dexter married when she was young, and divorced almost immediately thereafter amid a flurry of fights. When she decides to marry again, Dexter appears - but to help, or to disrupt? - as do a couple of tabloid reporters. 
visuals: crisp and lovely, beautifully lit and shot
costumes, hair & makeup: gorgeous! The costumes are incredible.
acting: Katharine Hepburn (Tracy Lord) is the undisputed star of the show, with such marvelous range of emotion. I thought she was absolutely wonderful.
intangibles: this is an outstanding film, funny and romantic, smart and silly. I can't wait to see it again.
Academy Award winner:
• Best Actor—James Stewart (Macaulay Connor)
• Best Writing, Screenplay
Academy Award nominee:
• Best Picture
• Best Actress—Hepburn
• Best Supporting Actress—Ruth Hussey (Elizabeth Imbrie)
• Best Director—George Cukor
overall: most highly recommended

The Marrying Kind
The Marrying Kind
 (1952) - "Florence and Chet Keefer have had a troublesome marriage. Whilst in the middle of a divorce hearing, the judge encourages them to remember the good times they have had, hoping that the marriage can be saved."
Source: the film is part of my "Silver Screen Romances" box set
I watched it because: I was in the mood for something uncomplicated to watch while distracted by mundane tasks
IMDB: 7.0/10  -  Rotten Tomatoes: Tomatometer: 67% Audience: 65%
notable quote: "Maybe it's a good thing to know it's possible."
story: wow, this is so NOT uncomplicated! Detailed, shown mostly in flashbacks, and far sadder than I ever could have expected.
costumes, hair & makeup: an effective plot point
acting: Judy Holliday (Florrie Keefer) is really good here
intangibles: hard to watch, but worth a view
overall: recommended

[the title quotation is from The Philadelphia Story]


we suddenly collapsed, intoxicated, gratified, both sinners

I shed my clothes in the lush air 
to bathe naked in the spring water, 
but the quiet night seduced me 
into telling it my gloomy story. 
The water's cool shimmering waves 
moaned and lustily surrounded me, 
urged with soft crystal hands 
my body and spirit into themselves. 
A far breeze hurried in, 
poured a lapful of flowers in my hair, 
breathed into my mouth Eurasian mint's 
pungent, heart-clinging scent. 
Silent and soaring, I closed my eyes, 
pressed my body against the soft young rushes, 
and like a woman folded into her lover's arms 
gave myself to the flowing waters. 
Aroused, parched, and fevered, the water's lips 
rippled trembling kisses on my thighs, 
and we suddenly collapsed, intoxicated, gratified, 
both sinners, my body and the spring's soul. 

when the final result is expected to be a compromise, it is often prudent to start from an extreme position

How much money would it take for you to give up your smartphone for a month?     
    is someone offering? I'll negotiate.

If you could try any food, what would it be?  
    surprise me! I'd love another "open a menu and try something new" experience.

On a scale of 1–10, how much of a team player are you? 

What celebrity do most people say you look like? 
    Drew Barrymore + Susan Sarandon + Helen Hunt. With the right photos you can absolutely see it

my three twins

What emoji best describes how you are feeling right now? 

What is one thing that could happen to you that would make you leave your current job? 
    there is any other way that my bills would be paid. 
    ANY. other way. 
    Legal or not.
    Just sayin'.

What is the best romantic comedy? 
    at the moment, I think it was The Unbelievable Truth
The Unbelievable Truth

What is the worst advice you have been given? 
    "Try to think more like a lawyer"

What is your favorite color and why? 
    "and why"? Is there an answer to that question?

What is your favorite musical instrument? 

What is your favorite type of sandwich? 
    roast beast

What movie do you wish you could watch again for the first time? 
Strictly Ballroom - the rooftop scene

What was the last thing you ate? 
    frosted mini wheats

Where is your favorite vacation spot?  
    the little C

Would you support “National Avocado Day” as a work holiday? 
    I would support damned near anything as a work holiday

[from here and adapted; the title quotation is by John Maynard Keynes, from The Economic Consequences of the Peace]


deep in private thought

Back at the hotel, watching her loosen, then comb out 
her russet hair in front of the window, she deep in private thought, 
her eyes somewhere else, I am reminded for some reason of those 
Lacedaemonians Herodotus wrote about, whose duty 
it was to hold the Gates against the Persian army. And who 
did. For four days. First, though, under the disbelieving 
eyes of Xerxes himself, the Greek soldiers sprawled as if 
uncaring, outside their timber-hewn walls, arms stacked, 
combing and combing their long hair, as if it were 
simply another day in an otherwise unremarkable campaign. 
When Xerxes demanded to know what such display signified, 
he was told, When these men are about to leave their lives 
they first make their heads beautiful. 
    She lays down her bone-handle comb and moves closer 
to the window and the mean afternoon light. Something, some 
creaking movement from below, has caught her 
attention. A look, and it lets her go. 

I don't fear death because I don't fear anything I don't understand. When I start to think about it, I order a massage and it goes away

Do you enjoy cooking or baking?  yes
a recent lunch

Do you enjoy rollercoasters?  I suppose I enjoy in the abstract that such a thing exists, though I would never ride one. They are a marvel of engineering ingenuity, bizarre resource management, and insurance.

How do you feel about pets in the office?  fish, yes (as long as someone not on staff is caring for them). Fur, no. There's just too much about distraction and allergies and liability. The lawyer in me is shuddering.

Do you have any short term goals?  
the sapphire pendant
    1. sell the plant stands & the sapphire pendant

    2. order kitchen (etc.) flooring
    3. place my next set of holds at the library

How do you spend your weekends?  read, write a lot, and usually cook something different than I will make during the week

How many pairs of shoes do you own?  61 - I just counted. Seems low, though; I may have missed a closet.

If you could add anything to the office what would it be?  a nicer chair, and a heated hardwood floor

What book do you wish you could read for the first time again?  The Brothers K

What has been on your ‘to-do’ list the longest?  having my tattoos re-inked

What has been the greatest accomplishment of your career?  not getting sued (yet)

What is something you are looking forward to?  having a massage

yeah, right there

What is your cocktail of choice?
  just a shot of Limoncello

What is your preferred jelly bean flavor?  "white"

What’s one part of your morning routine?  checking my blog post for formatting, accuracy, and any weird issues that may have cropped up

 [from here; the title quotation is by Hedy Lamarr]


I like small kindnesses

Do not think I am not grateful for your small 
kindness to me. 
I like small kindnesses. 
In fact I actually prefer them to the more 
substantial kindness, that is always eyeing you, 
like a large animal on a rug, 
until your whole life reduces 
to nothing but waking up morning after morning 
cramped, and the bright sun shining on its tusks. 

anam is the Gaelic word for soul; ċara is the word for friend. So anam ċara means soul friend

Choose two-coworkers you would want on your team during a zombie apocalypse. 
    from the whole company?? Uhm, my girl LG and her crush. She can kick-box and he can charm them - or run them over with his combine.

Do you prefer classic Disney movies (think The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, and Beauty and the Beast) or more current favorites (Frozen, Tangled, Brave)? 
    the classics

Have you ever told someone Santa is not real? 

Imagine you can instantly learn any language. Which would you choose? 
    the Gaelic - so beautiful

Pull out your phone; what is your most used emoji? 
    surprised to see that it's the sideways LOL

What did you want to be when you grew up? 

What food will you never eat? 

What is something you did at work that no one noticed? 
    I've completely reorganized the department in subtle ways to make it function more like an office and less like a throwback to the 1950s. Thank God nobody noticed or they'd have changed it back to "the way it's always been."

What is the earliest book you remember?  
    Fox in Socks

What is your earliest memory of Christmas?  
    gloves in a small box, from my maternal grandma. She always gave us something practical and a toy. The gloves were a big deal because the practical gift was almost always socks or underwear. They had nearly 30 grandchildren—it must have been a significant sacrifice to buy and wrap all those presents, to recall our ages and approximate sizes, to accumulate the toys and whatever we got when we were older. She died when I was in high school, and for several years by that point my pleasure gift was a book. She died the day after Christmas, in fact. It's always a bittersweet time.

What is your favorite holiday? 

What is your least favorite part of working from home? 
    taking crap for "not being productive" and being threatened with return to the office, from my boss 

Which superpower would you give to your arch enemy? 
    the ability to hear everyone's thoughts at once (except mine)

Would you rather have a pet sloth or a pet parrot? 
    sloth. Birds are not meant to be in cages. (Neither are sloths, but at least they're furry.)

 [from here and adapted; the title quotation is by John O'Donohue, from Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom]


unable to pull away

Fourteen, late for church, I stood in front of the mirror, fumbling 
with the new tie until my father's face surfaced behind me. 
Reaching in front of my chest, he led
the red and blue silk around and
under, under and
around in some mysterious
pattern. Nothing to a tie, he said.

For those few seconds, his big arms were my arms—
I watched the thick fingers
working the tie, each time a little
too short or too long.

He leaned his face alongside mine,
and I smelled a sharp scent of Old Spice, heard the hiss of sighs
through his nose, like a car tire losing air,
as he focused on the broad wrinkled pillar
that would not tie.
Arms that hadn't surrounded me for years
now wrapped me like ribbons. His elbows swung
like rhythmic pendulums, and 
for and instant it looked like we could have been
dancing, so I stood still,
unable to pull away from the rough kiss of whiskers
against my smooth cheek.

He finally finished a crooked knot, slid it
up to my tender throat, too tight, too tight.
Just right, he said.
Then I understood 
that being an adult meant
you looked a little older, but you couldn't breathe.
            I watched my father    
            back away in the mirror and
            disappear, and all I could see was myself,
            the knot at my throat, a soft, angled
            embrace of cloth.
[Bill Meissner {1948- } 'First Ties: The Father in the Mirror', from 33 Minnesota Poets

'zhis ees Chevalier, Montage, Détente, Avant Garde, and Déjà Vu.' 'Haven't we met before monsieur?' 'I don't think so..?'

Do you have a bucket list? 
    not as such. I try to live my life less structured than that, and it seems like a way of setting oneself up for disappointment. Why not just take opportunities and rewards as they come?

Have you checked anything off your bucket list? 
   of course. I've gotten tattoos, and traveled for surprisingly dumb reasons, and drunk everything you can think of (including something on fire). I've gone nightswimming. I've kissed more than one of my FB friends (shh!) There's loads left to do, but I've made a start.

How much money do you make? 
    almost enough to get by

Is it better to be late for work or to leave early? 
    either one is lovely! Recently I've been more prone to leaving early.

Show us your phone background and tell the story behind why you picked this image. 
    left is my home screen, right is my lock screen. I chose them because they are colors and shades I like to look at, the images themselves are restful, and they don't remind me of anything. I prefer to use more personal pictures, but that has been more disruptive than comforting lately.

What dog breed would you be? 
    Basenji. They're loyal and calm, they are not big barkers, and they're stoopid. Plus, that curly tail! OMG - so cute!!

What is an item on your bucket list? 
    COVID shots

What is the best piece of advice you have ever gotten at work? 
    always bring your own pen

What is your favorite childhood gym activity? 

What is your favorite movie? 
    War - to share an example that I haven't mentioned lately

What is your favorite type of ice cream? 
butter brickle mmmmmmm
   butter brickle

What is your worst dance move? 
    there are no good ones

Which movie made you laugh the most? 
    Top Secret!

Who is your favorite author? 
    at the moment: Alisa Kwitney. Several of her books are among my very favorites. I reread them often, and hand-sell them to anyone I can. She writes deeply funny, thoughtful, moving stories - for grownups.

 [from here; the title quotation is from Top Secret!]


always I'll be only one more moving part

Each day the city unhinges its jaw and I climb inside. 
I sing show tunes and polish its teeth. At night, I ride 
its lit scales into glittered, showstopping dreams. 
Sister, the desert is more even than I dreamed. On each 
rock rests a bowl of water, a wooden flute, a lizard. 
The clouds swoop into the shape of my fears, then 
blow off into the next county. 
I live between mountains and take my smallness, 
like a pill, on waking. Always I'll be only one 
more moving part, blurred in snow and stone. 
I'll never fall for the slick con of consequence. 
Bright, or secret, or ghosted, towns fall into place 
like the corner pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. All the sky 
pieces look the same. I can't fit the fragments 
of clouds together. 
This place is as I never left it: the neon sub shop 
on the corner, the junior high. My house is an aquarium 
filled with tulips. My mouth is a tulip filled with dust. 
[Catherine Pierce, 'Postcards from Her Alternate Lives', from The Best American Poetry 2011]

Are you alone? / Isn't everybody?

Four AFI winners and one inexplicable mistake. Nobody's perfect! Western, noir, courtroom drama, science fiction, and animation: something for everyone.

High Noon
High Noon
 (1952) - "A town marshal, despite the disagreements of his newlywed bride and the townspeople around him, must face a gang of deadly killers alone at high noon when the gang leader, an outlaw he sent up years ago, arrives on the noon train."
Source: I borrowed the DVD from the public library
I watched it because: I love Gary Cooper
AFI: 10 Top 10 (2008) Western #2
100 Years ... 100 Movies (original list 1998) #33
100 Years ... 100 Movies (10th anniversary edition 2007) #27
100 Years ... 100 Cheers (2006) #27
100 Years ... 100 Thrills (2001) #20
IMDB: 7.9/10  -  Rotten Tomatoes: Tomatometer: 97% Audience: 89%
notable quote: "Don't shove me, Harv. I'm tired of being shoved."
story: everybody likes the marshal, who cleaned up the town and "made it safe for women and children to live." Now that he's retiring to marry and leave with his Quaker bride, though, some bad guys are coming back to get revenge. Will the grateful townspeople stand by him or leave him alone at high noon?
costumes, hair & makeup: classic dusty Western, particularly in the difference between the dirt on the men and the pristine women
acting: Grace Kelly (Amy Fowler Kane) is a barbie doll in this, plastic and emotionless (and with an inexplicable accent that goes well beyond Mid-Atlantic). However, Gary Cooper (Marshal Will Kane) and Lloyd Bridges (Deputy Marshal Harvey Pell) more than make up for her. Cooper, especially, was phenomenal, expressing Kane's reluctance and resolve and the effects of aging with understated skill.
intangibles: one of the best Westerns you could ever see
Academy Award winner:
• Best Actor—Cooper
• Best Film Editing
• Best Music, Original Song—"High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin')"
• Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture
Academy Award nominee:
• Best Picture—Stanley Kramer
• Best Director—Fred Zinnemann
• Best Writing, Screenplay
overall: highly recommended

 (1974) - "A private detective hired to expose an adulterer finds himself caught up in a web of deceit, corruption, and murder."
Source: I borrowed the DVD from the public library
I watched it because: it's one of those classic films that I'd heard of but knew nothing about
AFI: 10 Top 10 (2008) Mystery #2
100 Years ... 100 Movies (original list 1998) #19
100 Years ... 100 Movies (10th anniversary edition 2007) #21
100 Years ... 100 Thrills (2001) #16
IMDB: 8.1/10  -  Rotten Tomatoes: Tomatometer: 99% Audience: 93%
notable quote: "You're a very nosy fella, kitty cat. Huh? You know what happens to nosy fellas? Huh? No? Wanna guess? Huh? No? OK. They lose their noses. ... Next time you lose the whole thing. Cut it off and feed it to my goldfish."
story: noir, hard to describe and somewhat hard to follow. I was surprised after watching it to discover that it rated so highly on the "100 Movies" lists.
visuals: dark & gritty, with some mesmerizing direction and remarkable shots. Pretty sure this was my first Roman Polanski film.
costumes, hair & makeup: dashing and flamboyant
acting: John Huston (Noah Cross) was outstanding.
intangibles: it's a bizarre movie, very deep and gnarled, but if you follow the twists and turns it is worth it in the end
Academy Award winner: Best Writing, Original Screenplay
Academy Award nominee:
• Best Picture—Robert Evans
• Best Actor—Jack Nicholson (J.J. Gittes)
• Best Actress—Faye Dunaway (Evelyn Mulray)
• Best Director—Polanski
• Best Cinematography
• Best Art Direction—Set Decoration
• Best Costume Design
• Best Sound
• Best Film Editing
• Best Music, Original Dramatic Score
overall: recommended

12 Angry Men
12 Angry Men
 (1957) - "A jury holdout attempts to prevent a miscarriage of justice by forcing his colleagues to reconsider the evidence."
Source: I borrowed the DVD from the public library
I watched it because: it's a law movie I've never seen; I kinda had to
AFI: 10 Top 10 (2008) Courtroom Drama #2
100 Years ... 100 Movies (10th anniversary edition) #87
100 Years ... 100 Cheers (2006) #42
100 Years ... 100 Thrills (2001) #88
IMDB: 9.0/10  -  Rotten Tomatoes: Tomatometer: 100% Audience: 97%
notable quote: "'You think he's not guilty, huh?'
'I don't know. It's possible.'"
story: what is "reasonable doubt"?
visuals: as basic as it gets, yet genius for all that. How can what is essentially a one-room set be compelling? Well, this movie will show it.
acting: Lee J. Cobb (Juror #3) and Henry Fonda (Juror #8) own it, completely. I also loved Cobb in Call Northside 777 (reviewed here)
intangibles: this is as close to a perfect movie as I've seen in a long time. Mesmerizing, thought-provoking, and tremendously well done.
Academy Award nominee:
• Best Picture—Henry Fonda, Reginald Rose
• Best Director—Sidney Lumet
• Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium—Rose
overall: most highly recommended

Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
 (1978) - "When strange seeds drift to earth from space, mysterious pods begin to grow and invade San Francisco, California, where they replicate the residents into emotionless automatons one body at a time."
Source: I borrowed the DVD from the public library
I watched it because: I was in AFI mode while placing holds at the library, and had not realized that there were two versions of this film—the award winner from 1956 and this remake. And now I know. 
IMDB: 7.4/10  -  Rotten Tomatoes: Tomatometer: 93% Audience: 81%
notable quote: "Here I am, you pod bastards! Come and get me, you scum!"
visuals: quite, um, floral. Viney.
costumes, hair & makeup: see above
acting: not a masterpiece by any definition
intangibles: it's not even funny-bad. Just bad.
overall: not recommended

 (1940) - "A living puppet, with the help of a cricket as his conscience, must prove himself worthy to become a real boy."
Source: I borrowed the Blu-ray from the public library
I watched it because: it's on the AFI list
AFI: 100 Years ... 100 Cheers (2006) #3
810 Top 10 (2008) Animation #2
IMDB: 7.4/10  -  Rotten Tomatoes: Tomatometer: 100% Audience: 73%
notable quote: "'Say "hello" to Figaro.'
'"Hello to Figaro."'"
story: sweet, more complicated than I'd remembered, and a little frightening
visuals: extremely well-drawn
intangibles: it is not surprising that we expect so much from animation, when films like this set the bar--81 years ago already. 
Academy Award winner:
• Best Music, Original Song ("When You Wish Upon a Star")
• Best Music, Original Score
overall: recommended

[the title quotation is from Chinatown]


if in thine my life thou waste, That art the best of me

Sweetest love, I do not go, 
     For weariness of thee, 
Nor in hope the world can show 
     A fitter love for me; 
         But since that I 
Must die at last, 'tis best 
To use myself in jest 
     Thus by feign'd deaths to die. 

Yesternight the sun went hence, 
     And yet is here today; 
He hath no desire nor sense, 
     Nor half so short a way: 
         Then fear not me, 
But believe that I shall make 
Speedier journeys, since I take 
     More wings and spurs than he. 
O how feeble is man's power, 
     That if good fortune fall, 
Cannot add another hour, 
     Nor a lost hour recall! 
         But come bad chance, 
And we join to'it our strength, 
And we teach it art and length, 
     Itself o'er us to advance. 
When thou sigh'st, thou sigh'st not wind, 
     But sigh'st my soul away; 
When thou weep'st, unkindly kind, 
     My life's blood doth decay. 
         It cannot be 
That thou lov'st me, as thou say'st, 
If in thine my life thou waste, 
     That art the best of me. 
Let not thy divining heart 
     Forethink me any ill; 
Destiny may take thy part, 
     And may thy fears fulfil; 
         But think that we 
Are but turn'd aside to sleep; 
They who one another keep 
     Alive, ne'er parted be. 


set out from any point. They are all alike. They all lead to a point of departure

Are you a G-Cal kind of person or do you still prefer a physical planner? 
why bother?
why plan? My schedule is at the whim of the rest of my office.

Did you have an imaginary friend as a child?  no

Do you consider yourself a trusting person?  I did.  I don't. 

Do you have a favourite sports team?  Steelers. Cubs. M Go Blue.

Do you know any good jokes?  no

If you could act in any movie, what movie would you be in?  I'd like to be a voice in something animated. I give good voice.

If you could start any business in the world, what would you start?  just a little bookstore

If you had to move to another country, where would you move?  feh, maybe Canada

Is there a dish you cook exceptionally well?  rice

Is there a habit you want to change?  eating the wrong things at the wrong time

What is one place you have always wanted to visit? 
Boston. I want to see The Garden and Fenway. Want to walk along the Charles. See all the museums and historic sites - and the public library, which looks absolutely outstanding. Take a couple of days to tour the best bookstores. Visit The Common, the Public Garden and Arboretum and Aquarium. Photograph everything, and sit in silence and breathe it all in.  

What is your favorite photograph?  'Bodieson and Riley'

What is your favourite local joint?  the Alma Hotel

Where do you spend most of your day?  in my home office

Where were you born?  in a small hospital in a small town in a big state with not too many people

[from here; the title quotation is by Antonio Porchia]


vows you spout would fill a stadium empty as your chest

When you climb the next lady's steps 
            with your frat boy bounce, fist 
gripped around some peonies, fresh steaming dough
            baked on your homely stone for her
alone, she should know that vows you spout
            would fill a stadium empty
as your chest; that the good emails you sent
            to grease her up ("'twas but a dream
of thee" and that ripe crap) were writ by Donne
            and meant no more than worms
you'd feed a stupid fish; that the hot girl slang
            you'll naked whisper came
from Bambi (sexysluts.c0m) and has been pitched
            as underhand and low to schoolgirls
you did con to bed—and yes, to me: dumb cunt.
[Mary Karr {1955- } 'Reference for Ex-Man's Next' (after Catullus), from Sinners Welcome]

people give flowers as presents because flowers contain the true meaning of love

1 What is the dumbest thing you made your parents buy for you as a kid? 
    hiking boots, when I was about 10. They were heavy and clunky and I wore them probably 10 times total
giant, heavy hiking boots on a really little kid
before outgrowing them, which was fine because I hated them SO much. All the cool kids had them, so I had to have them, too. What a dumb reason for kids to do things.

2 What topic do you wish was a college major but isn't? 
    Making a Life, rather than Making a Living

3 What is your earliest childhood memory? If it’s something "mundane," why do you think it stuck in your memory? If it’s something unusual/unique, what do you remember most vividly about it? 
    watching my siblings getting on the school bus and crying my head off because I wanted to go, too. Not that I wanted to be with them, but I wanted to be in school. 

4 What is your favorite compliment of all the compliments you've ever received? 
    "you're closer than a girlfriend—you're like a sister"
5 What are you looking forward to right now? 
    Friday - forecast 48º+ for the weekend
6 What random stranger from your life do you think about or (even talk about) regularly? 
    a toll-taker outside Chicago who gave me a carnation on Mother's Day, 1991. It was my first time driving out to Ann Arbor to see my then-boyfriend. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong over the weekend, the worst being getting inaccurate directions on the way back, getting horribly lost, and adding roughly four hours to the ten-hour trip. The good side to that was cruising into Chicagoland at the absolute best time of the morning, encountering almost no traffic, and having clear sailing all the way. 
    That toll-taker was handing off flowers from a pickle bucket in his booth, presumably to every woman of child-bearing age. He took my cash, gave me my change, and handed over a flower. He said, "You look too young to be a mother, but you're so pretty and you look so sad. Let this brighten your trip." 
    I drove with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face for the next 50 miles.

7 What famous masterpiece painting or sculpture would you like to own? 
    No. 6 - Violet, Green and Red by Mark Rothko. It is one of the most expensive paintings in the world.
No. 6

8 If you went into the witness protection plan, what identify would you like to assume? 
    I think that the whole point of WITSEC is that you don't get to/have to choose. I couldn't walk in and say, "I want to be a wealthy idler" and have that happen overnight.

9 What food would you recommend to visitors to your home town? 
maple longjohn, from B's
    maple longjohns

10 If you could only be one of these things, which one would you choose: rich, smart or beautiful? 
11 If you decided to run away, where would you go?  
    not tellin'
12 What is a boring fact about yourself? 
    my feet are size 7.5 without socks, and 8 with socks

14 Which book did you read in college or high school that was actually interesting enough that you still think or talk about it sometimes? 
    A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
15 If you had one opportunity to permanently change someone's life (better or worse) who would it be and how would you change it? 
    I would make someone appreciate the good things about himself, stop automatically accepting bad ideas about himself, and open the door to believing that changes are not only possible but can be wonderful.
[from here—it's an ongoing site!; the title quotation is by Paulo Coelho, from Brida]


April Comes like an idiot

To what purpose, April, do you return again? 
Beauty is not enough. 
You can no longer quiet me with the redness 
Of little leaves opening stickily. 
I know what I know. 
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe 
The spikes of the crocus. 
The smell of the earth is good. 
It is apparent that there is no death. 
But what does that signify? 
Not only under ground are the brains of men 
Eaten by maggots. 
Life in itself 
Is nothing, 
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs. 
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill, 
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers. 

it’s the unknown that draws people

from This or that

Batman or Superman?  Batman 
Christian Bale as Batman

Books or movies?  books

Chocolate or vanilla?  vanilla

City or countryside?  country

Clean a litter box or walk a dog?  litter

College or high school?  college

Company retreat or company holiday party?  party (it's shorter)

Desks or tables?  desks

Emails or conversations?  emails

Family or friends?  friends

Girl friends or guy friends?  gender notwithstanding

Hang out with little kids or old folks?  old folks

old folks cool

Instagram famous or infomercial famous?  I'm fine with toiling in obscurity

Introvert or extrovert?  intro-

Ketchup or ranch?  ketchup

Looks or personality?  apparently personality

Massive success by accident or modest success on purpose?   modest

Night or morning?  night

Night out or night in?  in

Ninjas or pirates?  I read this as "ninjas or pajamas," which has a far more obvious answer!    
    But yeah, still ninjas.

Physical planners or digital planners?  no planner

Predictability or excitement?  excitement

Reality shows or documentaries?  documentaries

Sandwiches with crusts or no crusts?  crusts

Science or History?  as if there's any question about that....

cheese-eating bastards

Share food or don’t share food?  
share food if it's a normal meal, don't share food if it's An Expensive Meal (not because it's expensive, but because there's a flavor-balance protocol that makes sense)

Sight or sound?  while each is vitally important to me, sight is more so

Skill or popularity?  fuck. popularity. ! 

Sneezing or coughing?  I would always rather sneeze 

Wash dishes immediately or wait until the sink is full?  depends on the dishes. If I'm baking, I'll wait until it's in the oven and then do all the dishes. If I'm eating a normal meal, then I might wait until there is more to do at once. Anyway, running the dishwasher is more efficient than sink-washing!
[from here; the title quotation is by E.A. Bucchianeri, from Brushstrokes of a Gadfly]


love is a long trial, a wending, and an uneven effort

We love what's best in our beloved, what's worst in them. 
You have to like what time does. Each day I talk to the part 
of me that is my beloved from a tiny telephone in me. 
I communicate in the clicks and beeps of our abbreviated tongue. 
Love is a long trial, a wending, and an uneven effort. 
I hate the word faith, but that's all there is. Only 
the last one standing knows the score. Think of the types 
of violence on a continuum, and toward the mildest 
end is love. I’m torn by you! I scream when my beloved 
pulls at our bond. I'm an alien host or we are two yous 
subsumed by a single body. The beloved says, You changed 
my brain; and I am at that mercy, which is meant 
as a warranty for longevity, but there is no real promise: 
you keep knowing each other and knowing each other. 

either give me more wine or leave me alone

Do you eat breakfast regularly?  every day of my life
mmm Cheerios!

Do you have a guilty pleasure?  yes - in fact, I have been told that I am one

Do you have any tattoos?  ayup - but none on my back, thank God

Do you prefer to dance in the rain or stay cozy inside?  rain

If you won the lottery and you had to spend the money on yourself, how would you?  go nuts upgrading the house to what it could be, and then sell it and get a smaller place that's easier to take care 
and the occasional spa day
of. The occasional mini spa day. Take some really nice trips. Buy the good mac-and-cheese.

Is a hot dog a sandwich?  yep - it's a filling between bread

What is something you do that you don’t like to do?  go to bed early

What is the greatest gift you have ever received?  a book about Switzerland

What is your Starbucks Order?  something terribly sweet and extra-caffeinated, with whipped cream, and usually a baked-thing on the side. If I'm gonna do it at all, I'm gonna do it up.

What management style do you prefer?  absentee

Where would you love to go for a relaxing holiday?  Four Seasons at Île Desroches—the main island of the Amirante Islands, part of the Outer Islands of the Seychelles

Desroches Island

Which is typically better, the book or the movie?  the book, always always always

 [from here; the title quotation is by Rumi]


wonderfully stupid

People trying to get a handle on death remind me of Roy and 
Janet's wonderfully stupid border collie. Roy and Janet would
take Tommy and me back to their place after the bars closed.
The four of us would walk their dog and it was the same every
time. Always the neighbor had her sprinkler on, one of those
swiveling handlebar kinds that shoots out two long ropes of
water. And damn if that dumb dog didn't stalk it every time.
He'd crouch at the lawn edge and drop to his elbows, advance
like a soldier under gunfire. The dog was mostly black but with
a white tail. In the dark, it was like a flag waving us in. He was
young, that dog, and he'd almost make it by the time the water
came his way, almost but not quite, so he'd have to leap back,
yowling mournfully. After it had passed, he'd crouch and begin
the whole thing over. The dog would go on doing this and the 
four of us would laugh like idiots until the neighbor's light
came on and we had to walk away, just when we were begin-
ning to think he might get it.
[Beth Ann Fennelly {1971- } 'People Trying to Get a Handle on Death', from Open House]

Fat man, you shoot a great game of pool

Three from the AFI lists, with a couple "normal movies" to rest my cinematic-appreciation muscles. All this quality can be fatiguing, y'know? It turned out to be a weird mix, even for me. 

 (1976) - "A small-time boxer gets a supremely rare chance to fight a heavyweight champion in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect."
Source: I borrowed the DVD from the public library
I watched it because: it's on the AFI lists
AFI: 100 Years ... 100 Movies (original list 1998) #78
100 Years ... 100 Thrills (2001) #52
100 Years ... 100 Cheers (2006) #4
100 Years ... 100 Movies (10th anniversary ed. 2007) #57
10 Top 10 (2008) Sports #2
IMDB: 8.1/10  -  Rotten Tomatoes: Tomatometer: 94% Audience: 69%
notable quote: "Women weaken legs, huh? Women. weaken. legs."
story: boxer and thug Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) lives a life of routine—gym, no-challenge fights, enforcing debt collection for a local boss, and visiting his dream girl at the pet store. This all changes when the champ picks him - out of the blue - for an exhibition-style match that anyone would expect to be no contest.
visuals: gritty, dark, and realistic
costumes, hair & makeup: likewise realistic and evocative, particularly in the outward transformation of Rocky's pet shop girl Adrian Pennino (Talia Shire) from wallflower to blooming rose
intangibles: it is easy to write off this film as cartoonish and stereotyped, but upon seeing it again - for the first time in decades, and since watching Raging Bull (reviewed here) - I found it deeper, more sad, and more honest-to-goodness inspiring than I had remembered. 
Academy Award winner:
• Best Picture—Irwin Winkler, Robert Chartoff
• Best Director—John Avildsen
• Best Film Editing
Academy Award nominee:
• Best Actor—Stallone (the third person to be nominated for both acting and writing in the same year, after Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator and Orson Welles in Citizen Kane)
• Best Supporting Actress—Shire
• Best Supporting Actor—Burgess Meredith (Mickey Goldmill)
• Best Supporting Actor—Burt Young (Paulie Pennino)
• Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen—Stallone
• Best Sound
• Best Music, Original Song—"Gonna Fly Now" (a.k.a. our junior high marching band theme)
overall: recommended

The Sound of Music
The Sound of Music
 (1965) - "A woman leaves an Austrian convent to become a governess to the children of a Naval officer widower."
Source: I borrowed the DVD from the public library
I watched it because: it's the AFI again.
AFI: 100 Years ... 100 Movies (original list 1998) #55
100 Years ... 100 Passions (2002) #27
100 Years ... 100 Cheers (2006) #41
25 Greatest Movie Musicals (2006) #4
100 Years ... 100 Movies (10th anniversary ed. 2007) #40
IMDB: 8.0/10  -  Rotten Tomatoes: Tomatometer: 83% Audience: 91%
notable quote: "These walls were not built to shut out problems. You have to face them. You have to live the life you were born to live."
story: nun meets boy (and family) and falls in love
visuals: very, um, Swiss
costumes, hair & makeup: it's every 1950s interpretation of an Alpine dream
intangibles: Look, I'm not gonna lie—it was a pain for me to watch this. It is as close as I can get to all the "never, ever, ever" movies on the AFI and other best-of lists. It is so cloyingly sweet and ...good. Undeniably well done, I still cannot bring myself to like it, personally. And I admit skipping through the musical numbers, because there's a limit to my patience. 
Academy Award winner:
• Best Picture—Robert Wise
• Best Director—Wise
• Best Sound
• Best Film Editing
• Best Music—Scoring of Music, Adaptation or Treatment
Academy Award nominee:
• Best Actress—Julie Andrews (Maria)
• Best Supporting Actress—Peggy Wood (Mother Abbess)
• Best Cinematography, Color
• Best Art Direction—Set Decoration, Color
• Best Costume Design, Color
overall: recommended with the obvious caveats

Strange Culture
Strange Culture
 (2007) - "A documentary in which actors interpret the legally touchy subject of artist Steve Kurtz, who is being held as a suspected terrorist because of his work."
Source: I bought the DVD from Amazon (seller)
I watched it because: I admire Thomas Jay Ryan's work
IMDB: 6.1/10  -  Rotten Tomatoes: Tomatometer: 91% Audience: 60%
story: this is a meta-documentary, so the viewer observes 
a) the story
b) the filming of the story, and 
c) background commentary and discussion about both the filming and the story
visuals: bare-bones
costumes, hair & makeup: likewise, pretty limited
acting: Ryan is a cult favorite, one of my acting heroes, and (I can say this without revealing anything worth a damn) the basis of one of my most secure passwords. THAT is how much I admire his work... when he is given something to do. 
intangibles: this is an important cautionary tale, but not a good movie. It ought to be shown to graduating fine arts and media students, and every grad student in those fields should do detailed studies of it because they could live it at any time. For the rest of us, it is not necessary viewing.
overall: marginally recommended

The Solid Gold Cadillac
The Solid Gold Cadillac
 (1956) - "A minority stockholder takes on the crooked board of directors at a billion dollar corporation."
Source: it's in my "Silver Screen Romances" box set
I watched it because: I wanted a reliable, happy movie
IMDB: 7.5/10  -  Rotten Tomatoes: Tomatometer: 100% Audience: 67%
notable quote: "Now, McKeever—that's what I call love talk!"
story: woman—who seems to be a dumb blond—disrupts shareholder meetings and then life in general at the corporation at which she owns a few stocks. CEO gets involved, to sort things out.
visuals: it was filmed in the best, most crisp black and white, so the ladies look beautiful and the gents seem very dashing. And everything at the company appears extremely modern!
costumes, hair & makeup: if you like the 1950s, you'll love this
acting: Judy Holliday (Laura Partridge) was fantastic. A great blend of innocence and resilience. And Paul Douglas (Edward L. McKeever) was awesome. I'd loved him in A Letter to Three Wives (reviewed here) and this film added a new layer of appreciation.
intangibles: not quite like any movie I've seen before, this was smart and funny and I liked it a lot
Academy Award winner: Best Costume Design, Black and White
Academy Award nominee: Best Art Direction—Set Decoration, Black and White
overall: recommended

The Hustler
The Hustler
 (1961) - "It tells the story of small-time pool hustler 'Fast' Eddie Felson and his desire to break into the 'major league' of professional hustling and high-stakes wagering by high-rollers that follows it."
Source: I borrowed the DVD from the public library
I watched it because:
AFI: 10 Top 10 (2008) Sports #6
IMDB: 8.0/10  -  Rotten Tomatoes: Tomatometer: 98% Audience: 93%
notable quote: "Boy, is he great! Jeez, that old fat man. Look at the way he moves: like a dancer.... And those fingers, them chubby fingers. That stroke... it's like he's, uh, like he's playin' the violin or somethin'."
story: Fast Eddie Felson learns pool
visuals: dark and gritty, pool rooms and hotels
acting: Jackie Gleason (Minnesota Fats), Paul Newman (Fast Eddie Felson) and Piper Laurie (Sarah Packard) put in outstanding, heartbreaking performances
intangibles: a much sadder film than I'd anticipated, I absolutely loved it nonetheless
Academy Award winner:
• Best Cinematography, Black and White
• Best Art Direction—Set Decoration, Black and White
Academy Award nominee:
• Best Picture—Robert Rossen
• Best Actor—Newman
• Best Actress—Laurie
• Best Supporting Actor—Gleason
• Best Supporting Actor—George C. Scott (Bert Gordon) (refused even to be nominated)
• Best Director—Rossen
• Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium
overall: highly recommended

[the title quotation is from The Hustler]