Thursday, February 28
Wednesday, February 27
Last night we decided to watch our latest from Netflix, that old classic Casablanca. Neither of us had ever seen it and we’ve both heard from any number of people what a great film it was. But after an hour, we shook our heads, turned it off, walked out, and left the building. It was just so hokey. There they all were—Peter Lorre slipping around like an unsavory eel; Sydney Greenstreet in all his corpulent splendor; pencil-mustachioed Claude Rains doing a tilt-hatted police captain; handsome Paul Henreid just doing his suave thing; Dooley Wilson on piano; Humphrey Bogart as Rick, smoking and drinking through the whole thing; and, of course, Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa, Rick’s one true love. It’s a shame what time does to the films we loved in our youth, to the music we loved in our youth. I now hear the big-band tracks from the Forties and they don’t sound nearly as good as they did when I was a young man. I hear Vaughan Monroe, Bing Crosby, Tony Martin, Jo Stafford, Billie Holiday, or Doris Day and they don’t sound nearly as good as they did when I was a young man. The same is true with films. A year ago I decided to revisit a movie I loved from my youth, High Noon, with Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly. And it was so very hokey, from the intrusive background music to the silliness of the final shootout. How could I ever have thought this was a great movie? Well, it was then; it isn’t now. That’s what time does. I wonder if other old favorites would also be as out of step—Shane, Gone with the Wind, Gunga Din, North by Northwest. I think I’d rather not know. Let them stay as classics in my memory instead of chapters in my hokey book.
Sunday, February 24
I’m watching Fox’s rather gruesome thriller, The Following, with Kevin Bacon playing a fallen FBI agent who is called back to help the bureau recapture a serial killer who has just escaped from prison. From what I’d heard about it before the pilot, I wasn’t sure I wanted to take the blood bath the previews had promised. And the promise about blood was accurate. There’s blood everywhere, mostly the result of knives to the belly or eyes. Despite the gore, I’m enjoying the tension and the surprises. Joe Carroll is a charismatic English professor specializing in Edgar Allen Poe. His charisma allows him to recruit a following of young psychopaths who do his bidding even when he’s behind bars. There are echoes of other cult leaders like Charles Manson, David Koresh, and Jim Jones, with an emphasis on the manipulation of the followers. And for anyone who’s a fan of The Mentalist on CBS, he will be reminded of Patrick Jane’s Red John. Unlike Red John, who remains faceless through all five seasons of The Mentalist, Joe Carroll is evident from the pilot on. The back story of how Carroll was originally captured by Ryan Hardy is seen in brief flashbacks as far back as 2003, when Hardy goes to see Carroll for his help with the Poe references that some killer of young women has been leaving behind. I’m sure that as the series progresses we will be shown the entire beginning as a series of flashbacks. I can hardly wait.
Thursday, February 21
Another set of words involves the suffix “-ful,” which derives from Anglo Saxon, and “-ous,” which derives from old French by way of Latin. The both mean “full of” whatever is the root to which it attaches ("harmonious, full of harmony"). We have a small group of words which can take either suffix and mean essentially the same thing: beautiful and beauteous, wonderful and wondrous, plentiful and plenteous, graceful and gracious, pitiful and piteous, bountiful and bounteous, joyful and joyous, rightful and righteous, doubtful and dubious. All of these pairs are nearly synonymous, but not quite. Each one has taken on slightly different hues and one almost has to consult a dictionary to see the proper usage for each. The best example might be graceful and gracious. “Graceful” suggests beauty of form, expression, or movement, especially physical movement. “Gracious” suggests a person showing kindness or courtesy, mercy or compassion. Both describe people who are full of grace, but one a physical grace, the other a mental grace.
But we also have many words ending in “–ful” that don’t have a near synonym ending in “-ous” and many ending in “-ous” that don’t have a brotherly “-ful.” Many of them should, though, with some fanciful (fancifous) or humorous (humorful) results. For example, “sinful” might have “sinuous,” the one meaning full of sin, the other meaning full of twists and turns, like the serpent that tempted Adam and Eve with that tasty, sinful (sinuous) apple. If there’s a “righteous,” why not a “wrongeous?” For every “sorrowful,” there should be a “sorrowous,” a “hateous” for every “hateful,” a “stupendeful” for every “stupendous,” a “malodorful” for every “malodorous,” a “ridicuful” for every “ridiculous.” And to end this discussion, we should have both a “bsifous” as well as a “bsiful.”
Tuesday, February 19
For my daughter Laura: Always be smarter than the people that hire you. (Lena Horne)
This, for my daughters Laura and Jeri: The best revenge is to live long enough to be a problem to your children. (unknown)
Better to have loved and lost a short person than never to have loved a tall. (David Chamberlain)
For my boy cat Charlie: Dogs come when they’re called; cats take a message and get back to you. (Mary Bly)
It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers. (James Thurber)
I have a simple philosophy: fill what’s empty; empty what’s full; scratch where it itches. (Alice Roosevelt Longworth)
There is more to life than increasing its speed. (Mahatma Gandhi)
For all my boozing buddies: Is life worth living? That depends on the liver. (unknown)
For three days after death, hair and fingernails continue to grow, but phone calls taper off. (Johnny Carson)
Never play leapfrog with a unicorn. (unknown) [personal corollary: Never extend the middle finger to a young man in a small green car.]
The only reason some people get lost in thought is because it’s unfamiliar territory. (Paul Fix)
Never engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed person. (unknown)
Sometimes when you look in his eyes you get the feeling that someone else is driving. (David Letterman)
Is sloppiness in speech caused by ignorance or apathy? I don’t know and I don’t care. (William Safire)
I’d rather have a free bottle in front of me than a prefrontal lobotomy. (Tom Waits)
For those of you who dislike some of my movie reviews: I am sitting in the smallest room in the house. I have your review in front of me. Soon it will be behind me. (Max Reger)
“When life gives you lemons, open a lemonade stand.” This is just one version of this old optimism saw. But Emo Phillips took it a step further: “At my lemonade stand,” he said, “I used to give the first glass away free and charge $5 for the second glass. The refill contained the antidote.”
Saturday, February 16
Last night we spent a more rewarding hour and a half with Jason Segel, who played Jeff in the quiet comedy Jeff, Who Lives at Home. Jeff is a huge fan of the movie Signs, and feels that all of life is connected and we all need to pay attention to the signs that indicate those connections. He gets a wrong number call threatening someone named Kevin. So he takes Kevin as a sign, following a young man wearing a jersey with the name Kevin on the back. All that gets him is a knock on the head and the theft of the money he got from his mother to fix a slat in a a closet door. Then he spots a Kevin’s Kandy delivery truck that leads him to his brother, who is busy following his wife and what he thinks is her lover. Meanwhile, Jeff’s mother (Susan Sarandon) is getting text messages at work from a secret admirer. All the plot threads come together, the signs really did lead Jeff to his destiny, and everybody lives happily ever after. A nice, quiet way to spend an evening, just enough laughs, just enough pathos to keep us going.
Friday, February 15
We’ve never felt tempted to take a cruise anywhere, and now we know why. How would you like to have been on the Carnival Cruise liner having to share five toilets with four thousand others? The audacity of calling these “luxury” cruises. Assuming each person might need the facilities three times a day, that makes 12,000 uses divided by five equals 2400 uses per day per toilet, or 100 per hour, or once every thirty-six seconds. At least the seat would always be warm. But it wouldn’t leave much time for friendly banter between outgoing and incoming squatters. Not much time for wiping either. And then the cruise line is offering a free cruise to those unfortunate cruisers. Wow! No thanks.
The Westminster Dog Show just crowned Banana Joe their new poster boy. He’s an affenpinscher (What’s an affenpinscher?) and cute as a little black button. How much we love loveable little dogs and cats.
Oscar Pistorius, the blade runner from South Africa who captured our hearts and admiration in last year’s Olympic Games, has now supposedly broken our hearts with the possible murder of his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Oh, Oscar, say it isn’t so. We have so few heroes anymore, we can’t afford to lose another.
Recent news from Arizona State University about campus fight clubs, a two- to twelve-person pool brawl at a campus perty. Just good, honest youthful fun. And, according to local news sources, fight clubs are popular and numerous on the ASU campus. What possesses young people to want to pummel each other with feet and fists? I don’t know. Is the adrenaline rush enough to overcome the pain? I wouldn’t think so, but I’m a pacifist. And I’m also averse to pain.
One last news comment. Has any First Lady since Jackie O been more charming and beautiful than Michelle Obama? I don’t think so.
Tuesday, February 12
Whoosh! That’s a lot of words for someone suffering from Blogger’s Block. The sphincter may have loosened.
Tuesday, February 5
Saturday, February 2
A neutral feeling for The Impossible is one thing, and dislike is another. Then there’s hate. I don’t think there’s ever been a movie I hated. I just like some less than others. And I haven’t hated a person in a long time. I guess the last one was that really hateful student I once had in one of my writing classes. But he shouldn’t have been worthy of my negative emotions. The nature of hatred is that it does absolutely no one any good. The object of one’s hate isn’t any worse off for it, but the hater often finds his own soul poisoned, life gray and grainy, nights sleepless, tension in the belly that just won’t go away, a whirling in the brain as he gets so caught up in the hate he forgets all the good stuff in life. But oh, the satisfaction of getting even. Even that, though, leads to sorrow. Such is the nature of retribution—everyone gets splattered and no one wins.
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