Archives for the Month of July 2009 on Cereal Monogamist
Ah, the infinite joys of the Internet.
Remember a few months ago I posted pictures of myself and Jeremy that had been Simpsonized? See the original post here.
AMC television has established the same deal for Mad Men. As usual, I couldn't resist.
Here I am pitching the Jackie-Marilyn campaign to the gentlemen of Sterling-Cooper.
Here's me hanging out with Betty Draper. No thanks, Betty, don't need any coffee--got my martini here, as you can see.
Try it yourself here. And watch Mad Men when Season 3 opens on August 16!
Some Thoughts on Audiobooks
Earlier, I wrote about my reluctance to join the Kindle movement. I now must acknowledge one form of literary technology which has me completely sold: audiobooks.
I got hooked on them last fall, because the audiobook is, without a doubt, the commuter’s best friend. In fact, I listened to sixteen of them last year, including Madame Bovary, which—let’s face it—I probably would not have finished in print.
Our move into Cleveland Heights, and the slicing of my commute down to seven minutes, could have been a real blow to my love for audiobooks, but actually I am finding ways to integrate them into my home life as well. I’ve been listening on my iPod while I walk the dog, and I’ve started playing them while I do chores at home. I’ve found that if I turn it up enough to compete with the sound of running water, I can even listen while I do dishes. Which will perhaps encourage me to do dishes more often.
There are a few considerations to choosing a good audiobook. More, after the jump.
Notes for a Tuesday night
On Boxing Movies
I've had a super busy day, but even so, I'm forcing myself to watch Rocky right now so I can mark a movie off my list today. I don't have anything against the movie necessarily--I understand that the stupidness of the many sequels is not a reflection on the value of the first. But, I gotta say--I hate boxing movies in general. They are so sweaty and armpitty and...and what's with that goo they rub on the boxer's wounds? It's just the grossest sport in existence.
Raging Bull, which I did not much care for, is not at all exempt from this.
Epic Wednesday for July 29
Here is tomorrow's viewing schedule for Epic Wednesday: (Vietnam) War is Hell edition.
3:00pm: The Deer Hunter
I went to a money management seminar tonight on Case's campus (my parents will be extremely excited to hear this) and one of the people who ran the seminar said something very quotable. This is not a direct attribution, of course, but it was something along these lines:
"People want to say that the hit the economy took last year was just a speed bump. The truth is, it wasn't a speed bump, it was a pothole, and when we hit it, the tire came off."
Who knew a financial analyst would have such a flair for metaphor?
Excerpt, When We Were Orphans
I’m reading this book right now, my second by Kazuo Ishiguro (I read The Remains of the Day earlier in the summer). It’s about a British boy living in Shanghai whose parents disappear under mysterious circumstances. He goes on to attend prep school in England and, as a young man, begins working as a detective in 1930s-era London. His success does not settle his mind about his parents, their disappearance representing the one case of his life that was never solved.
I wanted to reproduce the passage in which Christopher’s mother is abducted from their home, but it was both too long and too spoiler(ish) for people who might still want to read the book (not because of the abduction, which is part of the plot from the beginning, but because of which characters turn out to be involved in that scene).
This passage, which I chose instead, represents a major theme in the book—the unreliability of memory (especially that of a child) and how our perceptions of events may be shifted according to what we know and what we only think we know.
I suppose I must then have told her a few further things from the past. I did not reveal anything of any real significance, but after parting with her this afternoon—we eventually got off in New Oxford Street—I was surprised and slightly alarmed that I had told her anything at all. After all, I have not spoken to anyone about the past in all the time I have been in this country, and as I say, I had certainly never intended to start doing so today.
But perhaps something of this sort has been on the cards for some time. For the truth is, over this past year, I have become increasingly preoccupied with my memories, a preoccupation encouraged by the discovery that these memories--of my childhood, of my parents—have lately begun to blur. A number of times recently I have found myself struggling to recall something that only two or three years ago I believed was ingrained in my mind for ever. I have been obliged to accept, in other words, that with each passing year, my life in Shanghai will grow less distinct, until one day all that will remain will be a few muddled images. Even tonight, when I sat down here and tried to gather in some sort of order these things I still remember, I have been struck anew by how hazy so much has grown. To take, for instance, this episode I have just recounted concerning my mother and the health inspector: while I am fairly sure I have remembered its essence accurately enough, turning it over in my mind again, I find myself less certain about some of the details. For one thing, I am no longer sure she actually put to the inspector the actual words: “How is your conscience able to rest while you owe your existence to such ungodly wealth?” It now seems to me that even in her impassioned state, she would have been aware of the awkwardness of these words, of the fact that they left her quite open to ridicule. I do not believe my mother would ever have lost control of the situation to such a degree. On the other hand, it is possible I attributed these words to her precisely because such a question was one she must have put to herself constantly during our life in Shanghai. The fact that we “owed our existence” to a company whose activities she had identified as an evil to be scourged must have been a source of true torment for her.
In fact, it is even possible I have remembered incorrectly the context in which she uttered those words; that it was not to the health inspector she put this question, but to my father, on another morning altogether, during that argument in the dining room. (70-71)
The Champagne is on Ice
Last night, Jeremy and I watched Unforgiven, a Clint Eastwood-directed, Oscar-winning flick about amorality in the Old West. This movie, from 1992, is one of just a handful of films that landed on all three of the top 100 lists that I’ve been working through this summer.
The big news is that it also represented the last of one of those lists for me. As of last night, the Entertainment Weekly list has been completely exhausted!
So, the champagne is on ice, so to speak, but it’s not ready to drink yet. One list is down, but 17 movies remain. Still, with Natural Born Killers and Drugstore Cowboy out of the way, I feel safe in assuming that the worst is behind me.
I have a viewing schedule all set, which, including my two remaining Epic Wednesdays, will finish me on all lists completely by Wednesday, August 5.
Bride and Groom Get in the Groove
So, it doesn't resemble any wedding that I'll ever have, but you've got to admire the playfulness and creativity of the couple in the video below.
My guess how this unconventional processional came into being: one of them said, "Hey, let's do that song 'Forever'," and the other said, "That's a dance song," and the first one said, "Then let's DANCE!"
Hats off to the bridesmaids and groomsmen who were game.
The Most Wonderful Time of Year?
In case the word hasn't been adequately spread, I love movies, and especially old movies. I got hooked on them in 1994, when I was thirteen years old and the dual successes of Pulp Fiction and Clerks had every director in Hollywood filling his movies with comic violence and profanity. Age restrictions kept me out of the local cineplex and, out of desperation, I tried a new aisle in the video store.
These days, Turner Classic Movies in one of my go-to channels. For the past couple years, the month of August has been designated "Summer Under the Stars," with each day dedicated to a single legend of the silver screen. Here's this year's schedule:
August 1: Henry Fonda
August 2: James Mason
August 3: Marion Davies
August 4: James Coburn
August 5: Harold Lloyd
August 6: Judy Garland
August 7: Glenn Ford
August 8: Bette Davis
August 9: Cary Grant
August 10: Dirk Bogarde
August 11: Audrey Hepburn
August 12: Clark Gable
August 13: Gloria Grahame
August 14: Sidney Poitier
August 15: Deborah Kerr
August 16: Elvis Presley
August 17: Jennifer Jones
August 18: John Wayne
August 19: Red Skelton
August 20: Miriam Hopkins
August 21: Gene Hackman
August 22: Sterling Hayden
August 23: Angela Lansbury
August 24: Fredric March
August 25: Merle Oberon
August 26: Yul Brynner
August 27: Ida Lupino
August 28: Frank Sinatra
August 29: Peter Sellers
August 30: Jean Arthur
August 31: Claire Bloom
Some of my favorites have been moved out of the rotation, like Katharine Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, and Jimmy Stewart. Their absence leaves room for more obscure stars, though. I'm excited about Ida Lupino day; she was one of the first female directors to make it in Hollywood. And I know I'll be glued to the TV on August 9, when the dapper fellow above gets his day: My Favorite Wife, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, To Catch a Thief and Notorious are all first-rate.
A Moveable Text
I first read Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast in high school, where it held inexhaustible charm for me. It’s got everything I was into back then—writers in Paris in the twenties. Man, how I loved the twenties.
The book is made up of sketches Hemingway wrote about what he was doing back then, in Paris. He wanders around museums and cafes and converses with some of the biggest literary names of the era: Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ford Madox Ford, Ezra Pound, James Joyce. He details the disillusionment that his youthful generation felt in the wake of World War I, and quotes Gertrude Stein coining the expression “lost generation.” (“That’s what you are. That’s what you all are,” Miss Stein said. “All of you young people who served in the war. You are a lost generation.”) The book is heartbreaking in its simplicity—it’s like the blueprint for an art film, just Hemingway walking around and having conversations with people—and it’s written in some of his best terse, powerful prose.
But what’s really most wonderful about the book, for me, is the glimpses it gives the reader of a writer’s mind and process, and the advice that can be gleaned from Hemingway’s account of his work. At the time, he had yet to publish any of the literary works he’s known for today; he made some money as a journalist, but in many ways, he was literally living the life of a starving artist. In fact, he titles one chapter, “Hunger Was Good Discipline,” and describes trying to focus his mind on his words while his stomach growls over its skipped lunch. Much more practical advice abounds, too: write a story, and then put it in a drawer and return to it in six months. That I learned from Hemingway. Also, when it’s time to finish writing for the day, cut yourself off before the action ends, so that you’ll be able to pick it up immediately when you begin the next day.
What you will also find in A Moveable Feast is Hemingway’s unvarnished opinions of the people he consorted with at the time. F. Scott Fitzgerald has an entire chapter devoted to his antics, in which he is portrayed as a paranoid, hypochondriac, henpecked, unmasculine alcoholic who sells out his work for the money. (“He had told me at the Closerie des Lilas how he wrote what he thought were good stories, and which really were good stories for the Post, and then changed them for submission, knowing exactly how he must make the twists that made them into salable magazine stories. I had been shocked at this and I said I thought it was whoring. He said it was whoring but that he had to do it as he made his money from the magazines to have money ahead to write decent books.”)
Also getting the warts-and-all treatment: Hemingway’s first two wives, who both make appearances in the book. Scarcely any words are wasted on the second wife, who appears in the last chapter, but in true Hemingway fashion what words are there are bracingly effective: “We had already been infiltrated…using the oldest trick there is. It is that an unmarried young woman becomes the temporary best friend of another young woman who is married, goes to live with the husband and wife and then unknowingly, innocently and unrelentingly sets out to marry the husband. …”
Well, the son of that woman’s child, one of Hemingway’s grandchildren, apparently has been seething about this portrait of his grandmother for awhile. Sean Hemingway, working from the original manuscripts (archived in the JFK Presidential Library in Boston) has created a “restored” edition of the book, making changes that include adding bits and pieces of Hemingway’s material which is more complimentary of second wife Pauline.
This blog post by young Hemingway at Powells mostly steps back from the “be nicer to Grandma” angle in favor of the “it was butchered the first time; this is what he wanted,” angle. This is possibly true; Hemingway died at the tail end of the book’s publication process, and his fourth wife worked together with the publisher to get it finalized. However, a competing theory ran in the New York Times; the opinion of A.E. Hotchner, longtime friend and biographer of Papa Hemingway remembers the publication of A Moveable Feast quite differently. “I recount this history of A Moveable Feast to demonstrate how involved Ernest was with it,” he writes, “and that the manuscript was not left in shards but was ready for publication.”
Will I read the new edition? I don’t know. I was pretty happy with the old one. Also, I think there’s something a bit ridiculous about trying to make notoriously mean-streaked Hemingway seem a bit more cuddly—like when Lisa Simpson dated Nelson Muntz and made him wear a tie. (“I feel like punching myself.”) Kind of a sticky mess, but scholars are used to this kind of thing. The regrettable truth is that nobody writes a text from beginning to end; they’re all movable texts. And the archiving frenzy of the last fifty years or so means that writers’ notes, first drafts, and galley proofs are all floating around, accessible to scholars and just waiting to contradict each other as to what the writer actually meant to say. So that we could all spend the next fifty years making a living arguing about it.
Epic Wednesday: Ghetto Life
Today's viewing schedule:
I have six movies left on the EW list, these three and three others. All six are on my shelves right now, and so I could conceivably finish the EW list in as much time as it takes me to watch those movies.
Unfortunately, two of the other three that remain are Natural Born Killers and Drugstore Cowboy, which both look terrible. The last is Unforgiven, which I would quite like to watch, but which I'm saving to for Friday night to watch with Jeremy.
It Doesn't Kindle My Desire
Sorry for the pun. It's late!
There’s been a Kindle-themed controversy in the news this week. You can read here for the complete story and here for a pretty shrewd prediction of the fallout Amazon can expect to experience; if you want my concise summary, here it is. Basically, two classic books by George Orwell which were purchased by Kindle readers were deleted from the readers’ systems when the publisher decided against making them electronically available. Money was refunded, but the situation has reminded consumers of the difference between purchasing a physical product and purchasing electronic data from a public network. It would be the equivalent of me waking up to discover all the Jane Austen books had been removed from my shelves over night, with a ten-dollar bill in the place of each. (Ten and a five for those fancy Broadview editions.)
It’s an interesting situation, and I think it’s a good thing that it came up; now policies can be developed and instated that will protect the consumer from this kind of ambiguity of possession (or, that will protect the producer/publisher from this kind of thing and sink the product, as the second link shows).
In the meantime, I am contentedly avoiding electronic books. It’s hard to explain what doesn’t interest me about the Kindle without sounding like Andy Rooney, but I can give it a shot.
I’m used to the tactile experience of holding a physical book in my hands, and turning pages. The Kindle is attractively small and light (so I hear; I’ve never seen one in person), but I expect there are elements of the reading experience I would miss—for example, the feeling of progress I get when I can see that I have read more than halfway through the book and will most likely finish it. If I get in bed and notice that my bedtable book has got just a small sliver of pages left to be read, I might pick it up that night when I wouldn’t dream of picking up a Kindle. For purely sentimental reasons, I would miss the smooth, glossy covers, the heft of the pages, and the springiness of the binding. (You will find I am not one of those people who fetishize the smell of books. In fact, I prefer my books to have no odor at all.)
Another factor is that I keep books. I can see the extreme benefit of consuming newspapers and magazines via the Kindle; getting a full newspaper delivered every day generates a lot of paper and a lot of clutter. I always hate throwing away magazines, too, because they cost so much, whether I subscribe to them or pay the newsstand price. But if you keep them, they pile up overwhelmingly. That’s why on TV those weird shut-in characters always have piles of newspapers built into forts around their furniture. I had an entire trunkful of old New Yorkers until my boyfriend made me throw them all away.
Some people don’t keep books, either—that’s why you’ve got programs like PaperBack Swap and Swaptree and Book Mooch and Title Trader, not to mention eBay, used bookstores and libraries. But I do. My book shelves have grown more and more packed—and that’s a huge commitment, considering how many times we’ve moved in the past few years—and they give me a sense of accomplishment when I look at them. I think, "I’ve read that, and that, and that. Oh, and I haven’t read that yet; I’ll get around to it sooner or later."
Another benefit of the Kindle is that it can hold multiple books at a time. I do tend to be in the middle of more than one book at a time, but I don’t need to be offered my pick of any of them at any time. I read different books on different occasions (this one is the bedside book, this one is in the afternoons, this one I only read in the library, etc.). Also, sometimes I am more likely to finish a book when it’s the only book available to me at a given moment. There have been times when I’ve read from a book I’m only lukewarm about when the book I really want to read is in the next room, all because I’m too lazy to get up and get the good one. And I have to embrace any limitations of access which end up having a positive motivational effect on me.
This may all become moot in a year; I hear some colleges are going to begin equipping their students with Kindles instead of requiring physical textbooks. Case is among them.
But for now I'm pretty happy with my paperbacks.
Excerpt, An Experiment in Love
I've been reading a lot of great stuff lately, but I just let the opportunity for reviewing it all slip by. I've decided that I'm going to start posting excerpts--or single paragraphs, or even single lines--that really speak to me from the books I'm reading.
This excerpt relates the narrator's first moments as a college student--it felt particularly familiar to me.
I rubbed my elbow. It felt disjointed, irretrievably strained. Should I be here? A vision came into my head of the home I had left, of the stuffy room, with the glowing electric coals, where I had performed the study, where I had formed the ambition, that had delivered me to this room. A horrible longing leapt up inside me: not the flames of apprehension, but something damper, a crawling flurry in my ribcage, like something leaping in a well. The suitcase lay across the doorway, at an angle and on its side. I stooped, crouching to apply a final effort to it, bracing my knees; as if they had been waiting for the aid of gravity, tears ran out of my eyes and made jagged patches on the sleeves of my new beige raincoat.
I straightened up and opened the wardrobe door. Six metal hangers clashed together on a rail. I took off my coat and hung it up. I felt that it had somehow been spoilt by my crying on it, as if salt water would take off the newness. I could not afford to spoil my clothes.
A clock struck, and as I had no watch—I travelled without such normal equipment—I counted the strokes. I sat down on the bed nearest the window. It would be mine, and so would the bigger of the two desks, the better lit. It was more natural to me, and perhaps easier, to take the worse desk and bed, but I knew that Julianne would despise me for any show of self-sacrifice.
So, I sat on the bed. My fingers stroked the rough striped cover. The sheets beneath were starched and crackling like paper: tucked strap-tight into the bed’s frame, as if to harness a lunatic. There seemed to be no traffic in the street below. A lightbulb burned in its plain paper shade. A silence gathered. Time seemed to have stopped. I sat, and looked at my feet. Certain lines of verse began to run through my head. ‘Then we let off paper crackers, each of which contained a motto / And she listened while I read them, till her mother told her not to.’ I could hear my breath going about its usual business, in and out. I was eighteen years old, plus one month. I wondered, would I ever get any older: or just go on sitting in this room. But after a time, the clock struck again. ‘And dark as winter was the flow / Of iser, rolling rapidly.’ I got up, and began to put my clothes into the drawers, and my books on the shelves. (pages 6-8)
Upcoming Movies (with trailers!)
I swear that over the next few days I will write some posts that are not about movies. People are getting burned out on them, I understand that.
What may surprise you is that I have not reached that point at all. In fact, I'm beginning to anticipate the end of my Summer Movie Watch by thinking about the movies I'll get to prioritize when the challenge has been exhausted.
There's plenty of them on DVD--my Netflix queue has almost two hundred movies in it, and I Love You, Man! (which comes out August 11) has been on our rewatch list for months.
There are a few hitting theaters soon that I'm eager to see, too. Usually I'm pretty reserved about announcing this before reviews come out; my interest can chill considerably when the Metacritic number hovers on the wrong side of 50. Still, barring any unforseen flops:
Julie and Julia comes out August 7. This one has got your name on it, Mom. Should we see it next time I'm home?
Funny People is supposedly Judd Apatow's big dramatic opus, coming out July 31. You can see the trailer anywhere on the web--many people are complaining that it tells too much of the story, often a problem with trailers.
Here instead is a marketing video they created for the movie; the character played by Jason Schwartzman (from Rushmore, and one of my favorites, The Darjeeling Limited) is apparently a sitcom actor on a cheesy show called Yo Teach! a portion of which you can see here:
Also looking to indulge in some thrills and chills courtesy of Marty. Here's Shutter Island, coming out October 2.
I had to shift my epic day this week; yesterday I was out of town.
It's the Depression Special! All Holocaust, all the time.
For anyone who, like me, is obsessed with my list statistics, the viewing of Schindler's List will finish me on the top ten films of both AFI lists. I have quite nearly finished the top twenties as well; just One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (AFI 1998) and 2001: A Space Odyssey (AFI 2007) will do it.
Schindler is on EW's list, too, being less than 25 years old. (Such a serious movie, and it's just a teenager! That's so cute!) It doesn't fall within the top twenty at all, but at number 21, below such masterpieces as The Matrix and Casino Royale. When I mark it off, I will have just one film left in EW's top twenty-five, Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing.
TOO LONG. Too long.
Look, I think Julie Andrews is legitimately wonderful. I watched Mary Poppins about a thousand times as a kid. I may have even sat through one of the Princess Diaries movies just to see how a class act maintains her dignity throughout the Disney cheese. (The answer to that one seems to be, by having a British accent and by looking approximately twenty years younger than she actually is.)
This movie was too long, though, for the amount of actual plot that it had. The problem is (bear with me, I know how this sounds) they just kept breaking into these pointless, story-stalling songs. I remember at least two songs which seemed to be primarily about birds that went “Cu-ckooo, cu-ckoooo.” Giving up three hours of your afternoon, being forced to watch a bunch of perky children singing about cuckoo birds just begs the question…what’s the point? (It might also have been just one song, but sung twice.)
OK, I know what the point is. They’re juxtaposing the innocence of the children with the evil of the Nazis. I get it. I just find it really boring—and I feel better admitting that since I read the Wikipedia entry of the movie, which reveals that legendary film critic Pauline Kael panned the movie so bad she was ultimately fired from the magazine that was employing her at the time. Pauline Kael rocks!
Click ahead for Jimmy Cagney, Fred and Ginger, and more musical bashing!
Reviews: Sweeping Romances in Remote Locales
I read this book about two years ago; I found it a bit of a slow-go at first and then devoured the second half. The author/narrator, Isak Dinesen (a nom de plume for Karen Blixen) has a bit of that intellectual reserve (comparable, I think, to Joan Didion’s in The Year of Magical Thinking) and rather than be drawn into the story, I had to meet her in the middle; it ended up being worth it, in the end.
The only thing I knew about the movie version—other than that it starred the divine Meryl Streep and the also quite divine Robert Redford, and that it was on the list—was that back in 2000 I was in a women’s literature class and we read a short story by Dinesen. My professor (an awesome lady who later oversaw my senior thesis) recommended Out of Africa as a great read and then said, with a roll of the eyes, “Not like that horrible movie version.”
Now having seen it, I can answer as to what’s horrible about it. The answer is, objectively, nothing. It was beautifully acted (not that there would’ve been any doubt about that), the scenery was breathtaking (even on a grainy VHS copy). The love story sweeps one up, as love stories attempt to do. Here’s the problem: Out of Africa, the book, is not a love story at all. In fact, the character that Robert Redford plays is barely in it. He’s mentioned a few times, and his (SPOILER!) death is recounted, emotionally, by Blixen, as one tells the story of the death of a friend. The only reason the characters get together in the movie is because the real-life people were rumored to have had an affair (because of course Karen Blixen was married to someone else).
More on Out of Africa, and later, wolves are danced with.
Epic Wednesday: Films of David Lean
I've been looking forward to this Epic Wednesday--today I watch two films from master director Sir David Lean, Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago. Lean was known for sweeping epics full of beautiful camerawork. I'm halfway through Lawrence now, and even on my modest TV the desert seems to stretch a hundred visible miles in each direction. Seeing so much empty space involves the viewer in Lawrence's journey, makes us feel as though we too must take each step. Here's an article on the work of David Lean that perhaps does his genius a bit more justice than I can.
IMDB reminds me that Lean also directed one of the best list movies I have watched so far, The Bridge on the River Kwai--and amazing movie about prisoners of war struggling to maintain their dignity in the enemy camp.
Yet I think my favorite Lean film might still be Brief Encounter, one of the most beautiful thwarted romances ever. If I have any stamina left after today's two films, both of them 3 hours and change, then I will put on Brief Encounter, which doesn't appear on any of my lists but is a masterpiece regardless.
By the way, if anyone is interested in my summer movie watch statistics, here are today's calculations:
After today's two films, I will have a total of 38 films left to watch. That's 42% of the total films I needed to watch; I passed the halfway point last Wednesday amidst the westerns.
Fourteen movies will finish the EW list; twenty-seven will finish both the AFI lists. (Note: There are three films which appear on both the EW and AFI lists which are being counted on both sides.) My plan right now is to exhaust the EW list first and end on the AFI list--I want the last movie to be a fantastic one.
Notes to Dog Owners
On behalf of Skylar.
To dog owners everywhere, but especially in my neighborhood:
- Yes, you have to pick up your dog’s poop. Don’t think that because I have a dog that I am secretly with you on this whole “leaving it there” thing. I walk these sidewalks and yards every single day. I don’t want to step in that pile any more than the nice person who lives in that house does. Don’t want to pay for poop bags? Use grocery bags. Don’t buy groceries? Who are you?
- Retractable leashes are stupid. They allow you basically no control over your dog. I’m talking especially to you, teenage girl from the other day whose collie raced into the road while you waited patiently on the curb. That’s because the dog pulled a bunch of extra leash out of that contraption in your hand. And what could you do when that happened? That’s right. Nothing.
- My dog will not give your dog smallpox. It’s OK for you to walk it over to mine and let the dogs say hello, rather than giving me that wide berth on the sidewalk. My dog will not fight yours; she is sweet and just wants to say hello. If you expect that your dog might try to fight mine, it should be trained to not do that. P.S., that is your responsibility.
- On a related note, “socialization,” i.e., regular exposure to other dogs, is healthy, normal, and widely recommended for your little princess there. Look into it.
- Training your dog in the basics is not that hard, and you should do it for the benefit of you, your dog, and anyone who comes in contact with you. Associate bad behaviors with bad results (saying “NO!” or “bad” in a harsh tone) and good behaviors with good results (petting, saying “good girl”). Also, learn the difference between a dog doing something bad, and a dog who is simply distracted. Nine times out of ten Skylar only does something bad because she is bored or being ignored. Saying “no!” and then demanding that she sit in front of me and shake hands pulls her right back out of it.
- “Controlling” your dog is not a bad thing. Neither is “leading” nor “bossing.” Dogs are pack animals and want to follow someone’s lead. If your dog is acting out, it might be because the dog senses that you are ineffectual. Dogs do not want to act independently, to be left alone, or to follow their bliss. The dog does not need to be prepared to someday leave the nest and fend for itself. You can and should tell it what to do.
- Having said that, dogs are neither our punching bags nor our home furnishings. They are living creatures and deserve respect, kindness, and attention.
Skylar thanks you for reading.
My Epic Journey
The other day I wrote about the difficulties I’ve encountered trying to obtain Lawrence of Arabia. By some miracle, I got my hands on a copy yesterday, checked out of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights library system.
Another problem had already taken its place: the Lord of the Rings problem.
Jeremy and I have been planning an Epic Sunday in which we watch all three Lord of the Rings movies back to back. (In case you’re curious, the first LOTR movie appears on the AFI redux list from 2007; the complete trilogy appears on the EW list--in one slot, cheat much EW?)
Unlike most nerds of his caliber, Jeremy does not have the LOTR movies on DVD. We've been trying not to pay for any of our rentals if possible (libraries are free, and my Netflix account is a standard expenditure) so I set about trying to obtain the movies that make up the trilogy. In the following story, I will identify the three films as LOTR1, 2 and 3 respectively.
Earlier in the week, in preparation for Epic Sunday, I checked Case’s library. LOTR1 and LOTR2 are in the system, but not LOTR3. No problem; I’ll get #3 via Netflix. I put what I think is the right movie in my queue. It'll be here in time for the weekend.
I go to Case’s library Tuesday of this week and discover that, while LOTR2 is on the shelves, LOTR1 is “missing.” Code for “someone took it out and then they disappeared off the face of the earth,” usually. Jeremy says no problem, we will download LOTR1 from one of the many nefarious web outlets that he knows about. We check; only the extended edition is available for download. I would prefer not to add 30 minutes of probably unnecessary extra scenes to a 9 hour+ movie viewing. We will return to that only if necessary.
Friday, we get the Netflix disc in the mail. I open it and discover that it is LOTR2, not 3. Let’s recap: two days to go, and I have two copies of LOTR2, and zero copies of the other two movies. The mix-up is my fault; I got confused between my queue and Jeremy’s (both of which are filled with my movies right now, incidentally).
I know I’ve already checked the Cleveland Heights library system; on Friday, I try Cuyahoga County. The closest branch, South Euclid-Lyndhurst, has LOTR3 in DVD and LOTR1, in video only. Good enough; I still have a working VCR. I go to that branch and find LOTR3 easily enough; the video wall is a bit of a mess and I’m unable to find LOTR1. Anybody I ask for help just tells me to request it from another library. Easy enough; wish I’d thought of that four days earlier when it would have mattered.
I go back to Cleveland Heights library because a book I wanted (unrelated to this story; but also a book I’ve been attempting to track down for weeks which was “missing” from two different libraries, story of my life). I wander into the audiovisual section just to see. What do I find? Lawrence of Arabia! Also, LOTR2, because apparently that’s the wallflower of the trilogy--the one who never has a date on Saturday night and is thus always available. LOTR1, needless to say, is currently checked out.
I go home and check the online catalogs again. I’ve only been looking at libraries I know; is it possible I can find it at a library that’s not familiar? I checked Clevenet—a consortium of a huge number of libraries in the Greater Cleveland area. I filed away the names of a few branches that were relatively close to me. Then I searched on the first movie again, and lo and behold, the DVD of LOTR1 was available at the Rice branch of the Cleveland Public library, less than 4 miles away. The only drawback? They don’t deliver, because at this point I am so done with driving to and searching around libraries.
I head out anyway. The library is easy enough to find, but I sail right past it in my car because the parking lot is closed due to construction. No problem; I U-turn around a fast food parking lot and park in the street. I wander around the library for a few minutes, find the DVD section, and scan over the L's. Nothing. I try the F's, in case it's filed under the subtitle, "Fellowship of the Ring." It's not. Increasingly desperate, I begin asking strangers standing nearby who have DVD cases in their hands if they have Lord of the Rings. I'm too frantic to even be embarrassed.
And then, there it is. Its alphabetic identifier sticker missing, filed amongst the K's. Somewhat breathlessly, I check out the disc and bring it home.
And so, tomorrow is Epic Sunday: Lord of the Rings edition. Jeremy is excited, I am dubious.
But that's tomorrow; today is the remainder of the 4th of July. In honor of our nation's birthday, here's a clip of Homer Simpson buying fireworks. Enjoy.
Reviews: Foreign films
I recently ranted about the quality of the movies on the Entertainment Weekly 100 New Classics list. I will now, and not grudgingly, point out one positive attribute of the list: it has foreign films on it. The AFI lists necessarily would not—they’re explicitly counting down great American movies (though they have slipped a few films in there which are arguably British)—but it’s been a treat to experience films from other countries, not in the least because I have no prior knowledge of them.
This I knew about, of course. I was conscious and following award ceremonies back in 2001 when it was the biggest thing. "They fight crazy Asian fights and fly over trees and stuff!" was pretty much all anybody had to say about it. I knew that it was important artistically, but I had no idea that the plot would be so compelling, and that was an unexpected pleasure for me.
The story was interesting from all angles--who was avenging who and who had trained who and who was the masked bandit and who’s going to defeat who--even the romantic angles of the thwarted romance between the two older characters and the potential romance between the younger ones. I don’t have a problem with movies having love stories in them, just with movies foregrounding the love story and leaving everything else in the dust. Crouching Tiger did it exactly right; the love stories were interwoven with the more action-oriented stuff, and not a minute of storytelling was wasted.
I also have to mention how awesome it was that chicks fought dudes, and chicks fought chicks, all through the movie and without anyone batting an eye. Not only were the women as well-trained as the men in whatever kind of martial arts this was (never said I was an expert), not only did women meet men as equals in combat, but the fights between two women were just as important as the fights that had men in them. There was no indication that the director ever thought, “This scene with the two women fighting? The men in the audience are gonna get bored…better have them rip each other’s clothes off.” They just took it for granted that the women’s plots were as important as the men’s. That is so…not the way things usually go. And it was quite beautiful to behold.
Two more great films, after the jump.
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