Thursday, December 31, 2009

Re-arrange / 2010

New Year's Eve.

I don't do "Resolutions."

However, I'm psyched with an idea to Re-arrange my home.

Re-arrange means, to me --
to arrange everything for maximum ease and pleasure,
and minimum time / effort necessary for maintenance.

When I visited my Aunt Kathleen and Uncle Grant in Ohio a couple of years ago, Aunt Kathleen told me that when she had first started out as a young bride, right after WW II, she had decorated her house with various items -- the "knickknacks" -- things -- we women buy because they're beautiful and we think they will make our homes beautiful.

Aunt Kathleen said she found that she didn't like to take the time necessary to clean the many small items -- she likes an immaculate house; on the other hand, she & my Uncle Grant are active people even now, in their 80s -- they go, go, go....ball games, cook-outs, out to supper, dancing, dinner theater, Lake Erie, Key West -- whatever-ya-got. And I can imagine that back in their younger days, they put the miles on!

She wanted to limit the time necessary for home maintenance, so she gathered up all the small, fussy decorations and gave them to her mother.

And, she told me, "In a few weeks I went to visit my mother, and I could see that she wasn't dusting them either."


I've thought of that story several times since, while cleaning, and other times.

I want to use my time for my Writing project and exercises, and for working out, and for pure enjoyment, whatever it might be that day.
Life is short.
I want to streamline my house-cleaning / upkeep routine.

So I am psyched up with this idea that over this New Year's weekend (starting tonight, even!) I will engage in a major Stuff Removal Project at my house.

I think I will gather all the decorative pieces and
a) throw some away -- enough, already -- and my taste has outgrown some of it; and
b) keep things that are true favorites and --
I. store some away;
II. display some, in one spot;
III. rotate things a few times a year, letting the stored things & the displayed things trade places; and
IV. let most of my decorating consist of a few large items that I really love -- framed Bob Dylan poster; a few framed Impressionist prints, etc.

Keep it simple & easy to take care of.

I'm visualizing; I'm ready.


This is going to --
A) free up some of my time, and
B) look different, for the new year, and
C) look good.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

even balance: Obama

Ten days ago Frank Rich wrote in The New York Times,

> > > > Though the American left and right don't agree on much, they are both now coalescing around the suspicion that Obama's brilliant presidential campaign was as hollow as Tiger's public image -- a marketing scam designed to camouflage either his covert anti-American radicalism (as the right sees it) or spineless timidity (as the left sees it). The truth may well be neither,... < < < <


My turn:
The extreme types on both "right" and "left" are criticizing President Obama: that means he's doing things right -- that's true, I believe, for every president in recent memory -- Clinton, Reagan, Bush-1, Bush-2 -- when you're getting it from both sides, you're right on.

The extremes are not there to lead.
The extremes there to speculate, offer alternatives, in a free society, and make us think (or to create public personas for themselves to sell books etc. which is free enterprise, fine, but not useful information or commentary).


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

funk-blues INSPIRING

On yesterday's post, was discussing the excellent music that plays over the opening credits of "The Sopranos" -- the priest says he wasn't drawn to that show because "I think it glorifies organized crime."

I didn't have a counter-argument to that -- he's not wrong.
On the other hand, -- oh never mind, about that excellent song:

one can go on YouTube and find it and play it!

Several - to - many versions are on there.
The one titled "The Sopranos Woke Up This Morning Video" (from Flavario) has interesting visuals; I like the Sunoco sign; but the sound is a little muffled; I'd recommend listening to this one FIRST, then listen to the others listed below -- the clear sound breaks out and carries you forward -- it's great if you appreciate the song as I do.
you only have to type in the title that's in quotation marks --

"Woke Up This Morning / A sopranos tribute video" (BackRockDelta)
"The Sopranos Opening" (Peppe93cv)
"The sopranos intro" (malakatandrunas)
"The Sopranos - Intro (Season 1-3)" (monsta666)
"The Sopranos Intro" (tonysoprano159)
"The Sopranos" (alexforeverr)

and -- this one is a Variation -- a remix?? -- there's talking over the song part of the time; he talks about jazz and blues, mentions Muddy Waters, one of my favorites -- you might find it irritating because of the talking, it's not the pure, plain song, or you might appreciate it as I did -- very interesting & inspiring

"The Sopranos-great tribute" (cuuldude)


Monday, December 28, 2009

snow-stress, music

People think they did not have a good Christmas because weather caused stress and worry and upset people's plans.

I was sick and blizzards swept through; maybe it's better to get both of those things overwith at once: "time management." Or -- negative-item-management. Except none of it's managed.

One co-worker said they had "a horrible Christmas."
Nobody got hurt -- it was just, no one got to where they were going, for family get-togethers.

It was still Jesus' birthday.
At least there was no "manger malfunction."
That Story stays stable throughout Time.
So that's good.

My friend insisted, "No, no...the Wise Men were snowed in."

The Wise Men were stranded at a Conoco off the Interstate, we think.

What are you going to do?

After feeling sick and taking over-the-counter cold/flu medicines and resting, for several days, woke today with enthusiasm to eat an orange, shovel, and go to work.

Fifty minutes of unrelieved snow-shoveling dampened (chilled?) my enthusiasm somewhat.

While getting ready for work, "The Sopranoes" came on TV. I haven't had a chance to hook in to the characters & become a true fan of that show, but I give it a chance, if it's on, and definitely love the song they play at the beginning, over the credits -- can't understand most of the words, but it's great: some kind of fantastic funk - blues fusion, or something.

Ba-da-dah, "Ah-woke-up this moh-nin' -- got myself a gun..."

Not once in my whole life have I ever woken up and got myself a gun -- guess it isn't the lyrics, but the Sound that I relate to.

And, think it says, "Shotgun - shy."
Is that an expression?
Or is he saying something else? - can't tell.

Danced; a Tina-Turner-inspired combination.

(It is a good thing there is not a web-cam in my living room...")


Monday, December 21, 2009

"Dr. Zhivago"

"Dr. Zhivago" on Sunday, T-C-M.


Dr. Zhivago is a poet, in Russia, in early 1900's when Bolsheviks are trying to take over.
(Trying -- and succeeding.)

Scenery; trains going, cross-country, taking people away from the war;
people using other people.

(Sounds like Saturday night.)

No, seriously, really good.
Have to see again, to absorb.

The phrase that stood out when I heard it -- I wrote it down --
"our cursed capacity for suffering."

(The guy pronounces "cursed" with two syllables.
Not rhyming with "worst"
But rather -- "curs - ed.")

"...our cursed capacity for suffering."

It was a narrator's voice-over: you see train, snow-covered land as far as you can see, soldiers -- sort of a blend of war-time scenarios,
and the narrator is talking about Russia's history of repression and injustice and war.

And with hindsight, the viewer knows that the Bolsheviks taking over saying they're going to make everything better, are communists, and they're going to make everything worse.

That phrase grabbed me -- because it sounded like the author was saying maybe all of these terrible ills befall Russia because the people have the strength and endurance to suffer through it.

Like -- he's thinking if the Russian people weren't so good at endurance (suffering) and living through it, they would have got fed up earlier and demanded positive change from their government...

I'm not sure.

Based on novel by
Boris Pasternak.

(That name has always been familiar to me, but haven't read him -- since that movie, think his name is part of the "wallpaper" of popular culture of late 20th century.)

Plus, when you watch this movie, you want to keep in mind, the setting of the movie is early 1900s (or teens) but the film was made in the Sixties, and Communist Russia (Soviet Union) was biggest threat we worried about. I think people believed communism would go on forever -- I don't think anybody predicted 1989 ...

What year did Pasternak write the novel?
now, want to know that.

"Our cursed capacity for suffering."


Friday, December 18, 2009

stand here with me

CNBC this morning mentioned "Avatar" -- new movie that's Supposed To Make A Lot Of Money.

I don't see movies like that.

Too big.

I like films where people are talking to each other, or relating to each other somehow, or pursuing their goals, or trying to figure things out. Usually indoors.
(Don't know why...)

Intimate stories.

For example: "Body Heat."

! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
"You can stand here with me if you want, but you'll have to agree not to talk about the heat."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

oh oh oh

"Dr. Zhivago"

on Sunday, December 20
12:30eastern time
TCM (Turner Classic Movies)

A high school teacher whom I admired told me more than once that I needed to see "Dr. Zhivago."

Still haven't.

Sunday, will do that.

She used to say,
"Oh! It's a wonderful movie!"
"Oh! It's the most romantic movie!"
"Oh! You have to see it!"

It's on my schedule.

Now, have to decide:
Do I -- look it up on the internet and read about it and discover ahead of time what I am supposed to appreciate about the movie? Get the stories behind-the-scenes? Research and try to understand the sources for the movie / story?

Or --
Watch it "cold" on Sunday and let my own impressions and ideas be free to form, while trying to figure it out?

Sometimes you appreciate / enjoy things more, if you know more about them.

On the other hand, I'm tempted to -- just Turn It On And Watch It.

(I live on the edge.)


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

made in China / crap

A government inspector who visits the plant where I work got a flat tire, driving here, last night.

7 - degrees below zero, without wind.

There he is.

He had a tire & the skills to change it, but --
the jack wouldn't work.

His technical explanation:
"It's a made-in-China-piece-of-crap."

A guy stopped to check on him, didn't have a jack with him, but drove to his farm to get a jack to bring back.

Meanwhile, another man stopped; this one had a jack,
and inspector -- ultimately -- arrived & got his work done.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Parliament: Question Time

I had almost forgotten how much fun "Question Time" is,
until I saw it on C-Span, late Sunday night.

That is, it used to be called "Question Time" -- it's questions & answers & debate in the British Parliament.

In the Thatcher era it was called "Question Time"
-- now it's "Prime Minister's Questions."

P.M. Gordon Brown presides.
It's sort of semi-hilarious, in an off-hand sort of way.

The representatives call out questions and show support or opposition in choruses of shouts; yet there are boundaries and a certain decorum is observed; it never degenerates beyond a certain point, noise- and interruption-wise.

You can tell everybody knows the rules; it's like steeped in tradition.

Last night a proposed investigation was mentioned:
"an inquiry into binge drinking and loutish behavior."

The British just have a way with phrases.

On the topic of wind energy, someone accused somebody else of being "all talk and no action; all wind, and no turbines."

It's a really fun and interesting mixture of impenetrable dignity, intellectual elegance, and -- boisterous hollering.

I had thought they had two parties: Conservative; and Labour. But noticed last night, several of the reps appeared with their names on the screen, succeeded by the title "Liberal Democrat." So that's three parties, at least.

I'm many parties have they got? Surely not 10 or 12 more.
If they had that many, they would be Italy, not England.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

new book

This morning while shopping for Only A Few Essentials at Wal Mart, I treated myself to a copy of Julie & Julia, by Julie Powell, in paperback.

(Have not seen the movie; will.)

I was inspired to read it because I thought maybe I would learn something about blogging.

I think what the premise is, a woman decides to cook every recipe in a famous cookbook by Julia Child, & Blog about it.

The USA Today critic says, "Readers will come away from this year of cooking with a deeper apapreciation of all things culinary and a renewed determination to follow Powell's lead and master the art of living."

Master the art of living.

OK, then.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Spencer Tracy !!

Saturday night,
December 12
11pm eastern time
TCM (Turner Classic Movies)

"Father Of The Bride"


Not the Steve Martin one, the Spencer Tracy one.

I love it.

May not get to watch it due to work -- but that's hanging in the balance -- I could still get to see most of the movie -- will miss beginning.

The gentle humor and story-telling style of this movie put me in mind of "The Cosby Show" (the one in the 80s) -- just sort of reflecting, riffing, & spinning on the basic, routine things that happen and feelings you have about them, in family life.

A wonderful movie.

A guy I work with, José, has watched every movie I've recommended to him, on that channel -- "The African Queen"; "Pat And Mike"; "Casablanca".

So tonight, gave him a small square of scratch paper with the relevant info for tomorrow night's movie.

(I wonder if they have all these movies in Puerto Rico, where he's from? I know very little about Puerto Rico.)

I think when you're a person who needs to learn, you are often astounded by how many things you don't know.

Or maybe it's just me.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Glad you got 'em

and speaking of Good Conversation --

last year in the spring the plant where I work laid off a hundred workers (seasonal thing)

I noticed a phenomenon -- remarks made, and conversation-openers I was encountering around town --

and somehow I was inspired to share an observation with a man who works here.

Thought he would -- or might -- appreciate the point of view I offered, and the way I planned to tell it.

And what I found was, he answered mine with one that was better -- and he had not had time to prepare!

I said, "You know, I have always thought that a greeting was something like, 'Hi how ya doing' or 'Hello, nice to see you.'

Well lately in the last two weeks people around town have been greeting me with,
'Ehrm, I hear there've been some lay-offs at the plant!'

You know, their tone just dripping with eagerness, or knowingness, or something, you know? As if they're going to start rubbing their hands together in glee."

His expression changed right away, and a slight look of disgust passed across his features.
I added some comment, analyzing it: like, somehow at times people like to hear of something bad happening to someone else, for some psychological reason -- like, at least it's not happening to them, or something....

And this man came back with this, right on the spur of the moment, off the top of his head:

He told me, "Lou Holtz gave an interview once..."
I was looking mystified...
"Do you know who Lou Holtz is?"
"A coach at Notre Dame."

"So -- " he continued, "when he went to Notre Dame, they'd been having some problems.
He was asked, in the interview, what he was going to do about the problems.
And Lou Holtz says, 'Let me tell you about problems.

When you've got problems,
and you talk about them,
you find --

that 30% of the people don't care.

And the other 70% are glad you've got 'em.' "


I found that funny -- laughed, & re-told it.
And then wondered, later, Why do I think that's funny?
It's freakin' depressing!

One of those cynical truths which, when told right, makes you laugh.

One of Life's Mysteries.

Mysteries and Gifts.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

intelligent handsome

I guess I am a fan of Good Conversation.

Last night I unexpectedly had one.

Off from work at 10pm -- Wal Mart, with a short list.

In the pets' aisle, by the kitty litter: I encounter this very intelligent, very attractive man who, like me, has a variety of interests and he's a talker.

(I know him -- slightly -- to say Hello to...)

We go from His New Puppy to

He's So Busy, He Eats But Keeps Losing Weight Anyway, to

War In Iraq, to

World War II --

strategies; secrets; Pearl Harbor

Joseph P. Kennedy's dreadful "Let's appease this hitler-dude -- let him have Czechoslovakia, already...!" moment --

Afghanistan effort --

dogs' names --

cats' names --

...and, at the end, "Nice talking to you!"
and he said, "Nice talking to you!"

... I didn't go in there for Conversation, but I take Life's gifts when they are given.
Thank -- you.

And by the way this guy is more handsome than Benjamin Bratt and -- I don't know -- trying to think of other Latino men...anyway -- beautiful person to look at.

Not available; married, but -- you know -- that's like being in a museum.

You cannot take the Renoir home;
but you can certainly

admire, and


Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I made an Outline
for my novel.

Not the whole book.
Just an informal "Outline" of the stuff I intend to write about Next.

That's the way I'm doing it -- pretty much, just -- what's Next.

If I sat down and made an outline for the whole thing,
I would be too intimidated.

Once you sit down with that pen and paper, + 3x5 note cards, and just concentrate for only a short time, it is amazing what your brain will give you.

It's like -- it's all there, you just have to access it.


Monday, December 7, 2009

guess who's -- dinner

Watched "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner"
(1967, Spencer Tracy; Katharine Hepburn; Sidney Poitier)
yesterday, TCM.

"Well I'll be a son-of-a-bitch."
I remember watching this movie when they showed it on network TV: my father said, when Spencer Tracy spoke the above line, that it was very unusual and not ordinarily OK to say that phrase on television.

He said something to the effect that because this movie was so good, and so important, that the network could make an exception and have a cursing phrase like that in there.

(Yes, yes, I'm a thousand years old.
Today, we consider ourselves fortunate to hear such polite, elegant, and lovely phrases, if we hear "son-of-a-bitch" on TV -- !
We're like, "Oh, great! They're raising the standard!")

In the scene toward the end where Sidney Poitier kind of tells off his father -- or, tells him to get off his back -- I got to looking at the actor playing the part of Mr. Prentiss, the father -- I kept thinking, I've seen that actor in something else; his face is so familiar. Finally I came up with it -- he played the part of Heathcliff Huxtable's father on "The Cosby Show" in the 80s.

I was so psyched this morning -- I was 99.99% sure I was going to look up The Cosby Show and find that the same actor that was Sidney Poitier's father in "Guess" -- Roy E. Glenn, Sr. -- was going to be listed as Cliff's dad on Cosby --

I was WRONG.

Different dude.

The shape of the face was so similar -- at least, to me, it seemed...

Turned out Glenn WAS in another movie I remember from my childhood --

Watched that on network TV years after it was made

Wiki pedia tells me:
> > > > "...tick...tick...tick... is an American movie made in 1970 directed by Ralph Nelson. Racially provocative for its time, it stars Jim Brown in the role of an African-American man elected as the sheriff of a rural county in the American South. It has become something of a cult classic for its cutting-edge portrayal of racial relations and its tense narrative. < < < <

(Think that's "race relations," not "racial relations" ...)

When I saw that movie on TV, I remember I went to school the next day -- I was a junior or senior in high school. I told my history teacher, Mr. Wiblemo, about the movie. I thought he would be impressed with my re-telling, or maybe he had seen it and would relate to it, but he just made fun of the title. He thought "tick tick tick" was weird.

At the time, my confidence was somewhat shaken but I still thought it was a good movie.

Now that the Internet encyclopedia tells me the movie was "provocative," "cutting-edge", and had "tense narrative," I feel vindicated. My history teacher should have been less quick to scoff.


Friday, December 4, 2009

play it

The movie: "Casablanca"

I watched it on T-C-M last Saturday.

What do I want to say about it?
Why do I like it so much?

It's in black-and-white.

It was made in 1942. World War II is backdrop of the movie; and when they made it, in 1942, the people writing, directing, producing, and acting in the movie did not know for sure that the Allies would win the war. Audiences going to see it in theaters when it was new, didn't know if the war would be won by our side, or whether we might all be speaking German before the dust settled!

Humphrey Bogart.

Ingrid Bergman. So beautiful, and such a wonderful actress.

The song: "As Time Goes By."

"You must remember this,
A kiss is just a kiss,
A sigh is just a sigh.
The fundamental things apply,
As time goes by."

Sung by the character "Sam" played by actor Dooley Wilson -- he's great; plays the piano in accompaniment, too.

The layers, twists, and turns of the story.
It begins, and as it goes, characters reveal themselves and the choices, desires, goals, and fears which make up both Plot and Backstory at a pace that's somehow perfect.

Courage, desire, disappointment, and desperation.
Make a plot that doesn't let go.

Unforgettable characters.

And humor, at moments (in spite of Nazis). -- "I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!"
"Your winnings, Captain Renauld."
"Oh, yes, thank you."

Woody Allen made a movie called "Play It Again Sam" where he plays the main character, Allan Felix, a guy who's hung up on Bogart as a role model -- a guy who's brave and tough, and confident with women, unlike Allan, who's shy and self-conscious and nerdy.

In the opening scene of "Play it..." you see a movie screen and on it, the final scene of "Casablanca" playing.
Then the camera switches to the audience and you see a close-up of Woody Allen's character, watching the movie in mute fascination and adoration -- his facial expression changing as he follows the plot which he already knows by heart; you see him with his mouth just hanging open in astonished emotion; you see him smiling shrewdly and nodding...

It's hilarious. I think I am like Woody Allen in "Play it" -- I just sit there staring with my mouth open, totally overcome.

And by the way, Humphrey Bogart never said, "Play it again, Sam" in "Casablanca." He said "Play it!" and Ingrid Bergman's character says, "Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By.'" but no one says "Play it again Sam."

I don't know how many comedians used to do a Bogart imitation that included the phrase "Play it again, Sam." There was an impression that he had said that phrase and the phrase became representative of "Casablanca" and of Humphrey Bogart just through repetition.

People "knew" it, even though it wasn't true!


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Compatible concepts: war strategy

New York Times had article yesterday, [News Analysis] "Two Messages for Two Sides."

(I like to read it, if it says "Analysis.")

[excerpt from top two 'graphs]:

> > > > WASHINGTON -- President Obama went before the nation on Tuesday night to announce that he would escalate the war in Afghanistan. And Mr. Obama went before the nation to announce that he had a plan to end the war in Afghanistan.

If the contrasting messages seemed jarring at first, they reflect the obstacles Mr. Obama faces....For those who still support the war, he is sending more troops. For those against it, he is offering the assurance of the exit ramp. < < < <

The article uses the phrase "the contrasting messages":

I don't actually think that
"escalate the war in Afghanistan"
"end the war in Afghanistan"
are "contrasting" messages.

I see where the writer of the article is coming from, but ESCALATE and SET AN END DATE are not mutually exclusive.

I'm not an expert on war, but the people I know who went to Vietnam say that the reason the U.S. did not come out with a clear win there is because we never committed the troops, etc., necessary to DO THE JOB and WIN. And to be DONE WITH IT.

We just kept slogging along at it, and never even called it, officially, a war; I think it was known as a "police action" in Congress, throughout the conflict (correct me if I'm wrong).

Since the Vietnam experience,
any military action with no end-date projected for it, is going to acquire the label "quagmire." That isn't productive toward either garnering support or winning and being done with it.

It appears to me that Pres. Obama's attitude on military actions in general is, "Do it, or don't."
"If we're going to do it, let's --
set a goal
set a time-frame

That's my impression.

Escalating the war -- i.e., sending more troops -- is, most certainly, compatible with setting an end date.

As the Vietnam experience taught us, it's when you don't send enough troops and weapons, etc., to do the job, that the job doesn't get done.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Last Saturday, on TCM (Turner Classic Movies)
it was "Casablanca"

This morning on YouTube: "State Of The Union."

This coming Saturday on TCM:
"My Fair Lady"


It's "an embarrassment of riches."


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I was right!

Yesterday I was thinking that "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" was referring to big, scary concerns of the time (1950s):

atomic bomb

Read about the movie on the internet and found an article where it mentioned those same three items!
I was so excited!
Why? Not sure.

Because I discovered I was sort of on the right track.

In today's world one of the things making people "lose their humanity" is the gigantic prescription drug craze. They want us all on drugs, and I think that's the worst idea ever.

They should make a black-and-white horror movie about that.
"Invasion of the pharmacists."
"Invasion of the A-M-A."
"Invasion of the pill-pushers."


Meanwhile, there are no pods in my basement.
Not that I checked.
Just happened to be down there and noticed -- that it was pod-free.

No pods in trunk of my Buick, either.