Thursday, April 30, 2015

A to Z Challenge - Fail

*Warning – this is a very long winded post*

Sorry I’ve been away, and sorry I didn’t finish the A to Z Challenge. Again. I did get farther this year, though!
Les was in the hospital all last week; he came home on Sunday afternoon (the 26th). I noticed over the last few weeks that he just wasn’t himself, you know? He seemed to be having more “weak” days, and in the days leading up to his hospital stay he was often out of breath for either no particular reason, or after having done something that wasn’t normally strenuous (like wrestling with the blankets on the couch). I mentioned it to Sissy, and so she was eyeballing him pretty closely on the weekend.

I’d been writing my challenge posts several days in advance, but got behind by Monday, the 20th. I was down at Mom’s and figured I would do a double post on Tuesday, writing my content at work (v bad). I got a call from Sissy during the afternoon asking me to bring Mom home with me that night; do not spend the night, do not pass GO, do not collect $200. I normally stay over Monday night and head to work Tuesday morning from Mom’s place. I asked what was going on; she said that while she was in the shower that morning, she heard Les say, “Oh look, my stoma is bleeding!” (A stoma is a surgically created opening on the abdomen which allows stool or urine to exit the body). When she peeked around the shower curtain, she did not see what she expected – a little oozing or small blood drops or similar – but rather a stream of blood squirting from it. (Sorry, getting a little TMI here). It wasn’t like he was going to bleed to death or anything, but the sight of that caused Sissy to do a little panic dance and zip out of the bath tout de suite. She called the doctor and they said to take him to the ER, and they could also address why he is out of breath as well.
So they hustled on over there. While in the examination room, Les suddenly went into full respiratory distress after laying him down flat on the bed. They immediately sat him up, gave him a breathing treatment, hooked him up to oxygen and admitted him. When his blood work came back, it showed his hemoglobin count was five (normal range is 14 to 18 in men). Hemoglobin is a protein used by red cells to distribute oxygen to other tissues and cells in the body. Since his count was so low, there wasn’t enough oxygen being taken to his lungs, so he could not breathe. He was also extremely anemic, so he had a decreased blood volume as well. He has been really anemic ever since his surgery to remove his bladder; no one seems to know why, and there has not been a lot of pursuing the cause (which frustrates the snot out of me). They called for a couple of units of blood for a transfusion, wherein we discovered another problem: since Les has had blood transfusions in the past, he has developed an antibody in his blood. This antibody must be matched exactly or his body will reject it, which is BAD. So it took them almost two days to get the blood he needed. It had to come from Seattle, after waking up the lab supervisor at home. After x-rays, CT scans, an endoscopy, and a colonoscopy, they could not find where all his blood went. He had trouble breathing for days, and was on oxygen until the day before he went home. The good news was that with all the tests they ran, they didn’t see any signs of additional cancer. Yay for that!

Eventually they did an EKG (electrocardiogram – where does the K come from? Another mystery…) and determined that he has Congestive Heart Failure; his involves his whole heart, whereas Sissy’s is only one side of her heart. His legs and hands were really swollen with retained water, so they put him on a diuretic to get rid of the fluid he was retaining, which was accumulating around his heart and lungs. Finally, he was well enough (and could finally breathe normally) to come home on Sunday. They still don’t know why he is so anemic; they think that he may have had some sort of upper GI bleed a while ago and he just could not manufacture the blood cells necessary to keep him healthy fast enough to make up for what he lost. He is still a little weak but seems to be getting stronger every day. To say he is milking it would be wrong, but I think he is just a little. He likes to be waited on! We were really happy with his care in the hospital; the nurses all get A+’s across the board.
I took Tuesday and Wednesday off last week so that I could keep an eye on Sissy while she was keeping both eyes on Les. She is not healthy herself, and I wanted to make sure she had everything she needed/wanted, actually ate real food, and got as much rest as she could (which wasn’t much). Mom, bless her heart, stayed at the house with all the dogs (six of our little ones plus one big one, and her two that she brought up with her – yep, nine dogs in total, plus our two cats! Oy!) and cleaned house like a maniac while I was up at the hospital with Sissy (or running around getting/buying/shuttling things). She cleaned things that we totally forgot we even had until she uncovered them! I took Mom down to Portland the Sunday Les came home so that she could work on Monday, then we came right back Monday night and Mom continued her stay here this week. She’ll be going back home tonight with Sissy and probably won’t be back for a while. I personally look forward to sleeping right smack dab in the middle of my bed, free from mothers and their little dogs (I didn’t mind too much, but I’m fat and take up a lot of room on my own without the added company).

How’s that for an excuse to miss the rest of the blogging challenge?
I hope to make some cards on Saturday; my crafty mojo is screaming to be released and I have some new stuff that I ordered/bought locally that I am dying to play with. It’s hard with my new schedule to fit in time for me and what I want to be doing; I’m up at 5am to be out the door by 6am to be at work by 7am so I can be home by 7-8pm (depending on if I need to run errands after work or not) and be in bed by 9pm so I can get up and start all over again the next day. So no time for crafty fun Tuesday-Friday; Sunday I go to Portland so that I can take Mom to work on Monday morning, take my sister’s paycheck to the bank for her in Vancouver, then pick up Mom from work. Tuesday then starts the whole cycle over again. Saturday is pretty much the only day I have to run my own errands, do chores - laundry, etc., and get a little sleeping in time. I often feel guilty for playing back in my room when Les is out in the living room by himself; he is alone all week and loves to have my company just watching TV on Saturday. I’ve tried hauling my stuff into the dining room to work there while watching TV with him, but it doesn’t work out very well. But, since the house has been full of women this week while he’s been home, he may very well welcome some solitude!

I am currently reading a smashing book by Gretchen Rubin called Better Than Before – Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, and I think it’s going to change my life. I love it; very enlightening and in some spots I keep expecting her to call me out by name. You might be familiar with her first book – The Happiness Project. I haven’t read that one yet; I had it on hold at the library, but when it came in last week I couldn’t get to the library quick enough and it went to someone else. Which, ironically, made me unhappy. *shrugs* Go figure.
One thing that happened did make me very happy: I got one of those shellac/gel manicures. Wow – it is awesome! I never paint my fingernails because I am absolute rubbish at it. Since I am right-handed, my left hand comes out marginally passable, but my right hand turns out a complete disaster. I lurve nail polish but never buy it because what’s the use? So I splurged and did the professional manicure route. I was just going to do the regular kind, but the gel one was loitering in the back of my mind. When the beautician suggested it, I thought what the heck? Normally polish lasts about…oh…five or six hours on me (outside of the initial buggering up I manage within the first five minutes). The polish will usually chip, then I start worrying at it until it peels off all in one big piece. Nice. Now I have one naked nail; however, the rest soon follow suit. This polish You can see where it has grown out, but there is not a chip or flake or bubble to be seen. I feel pretty! Totally worth the $22 it cost, and I plan to make it a regular thing (see book on habits above).

Well, there you have it. Everything you didn’t want or need to know this week. I hope to have something crafty to show on this blog next post.
Until then my lovely friends – TTFN.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A to Z Challenge post – P is for a Lake in Canada and Pan’s Labyrinth

Hidy-ho all! Today is Saturday and I have a ton of stuff to do. My truck is overflowing with trash and recyclables – mostly fast food wrappings/bags and soda bottles – and is in desperate need of a wash. I’m kind of afraid to wash it; I fear the dirt and road grime is all that is holding my dear Rodeo together! Wish me luck that it doesn’t disintegrate in the car wash. I need to do laundry as I am out of fresh knickers and socks (but you probably didn’t need to know that), and I need to strip the bed and wash all of that. Last weekend I had to take laundry down to Mom’s in Portland because we had TWO live mice in the washing machine. Teddy sat on the edge of the wash tub looking at them for about an hour but never got up the courage to get in there with them. Les finally went in there and dispatched them with his heavy wooden walking stick, but by then I had already loaded the laundry in the truck.
Anywhoozles, today’s “P” word is: Pekwachnamaykoskwaskwaypinwanik Lake. This is a lake in northeastern Manitoba, Canada, near its border with Ontario. The name is Cree for “where the wild trout are caught by fishing with hooks”, which is a lot easier to say than Pekwachnamaykoskwaskwaypinwanik. At 31 letters long, it is the longest place name in Canada. I couldn’t find any good pictures of it, but you can find it on Google Maps. Apparently, the satellite picture of the lake was taken in the winter, as it appears to be completely frozen over.

So, onto today’s film selection: Pan’s Labyrinth. This 2006 film was directed by Guillermo del Toro and stars Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil, Sergi Lopez, and Doug Jones to name a few. Try to find the movie that is in the original Spanish with English subtitles (if you don’t speak Spanish); I find dubbed versions to be wooden, flat, and distracting.

Here is the storyline from IMBd: In 1944 Falangist Spain, a girl, fascinated with fairy-tales, is sent along with her pregnant mother to live with her new stepfather, a ruthless captain of the Spanish army. During the night, she meets a fairy who takes her to an old faun in the center of the labyrinth. He tells her she's a princess, but must prove her royalty by surviving three gruesome tasks. If she fails, she will never prove herself to be the true princess and will never see her real father, the king, again.
This movie is beautiful, yet very brutal. It is quite violent, but none of it is gratuitous; each moment, though graphic, has a purpose. The photography is brilliant; the score is hauntingly beautiful and perfectly woven through the film. I loved it, and it haunted my thoughts for several days after watching it. Although you would think this is a film directed at children (since the heroine of the tale is only 12 years old), this is by no means a children’s movie. I highly recommend it.

This film won 102 awards and was nominated for a further 72. The movie took home three Oscars in 2007: Best Achievement in Cinematography (Guillermo Navarro), Best Achievement in Art Direction (Eugenio Caballero – art director, Pilar Revuelta – set decorator), and Best Achievement in Makeup (David Marti, Montse Ribe). It also won three BAFTA awards for Best Film not in the English Language, Best Costume Design, and Best Make Up and Hair.

Well, that’s it until Monday (well, Sunday for me, since I can’t post anything on Mondays while I’m at Mom’s). Have a smashing weekend!


Friday, April 17, 2015

A to Z Challenge post - O is for obeliscolychny and O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Mornin' all. Welcome back to another A to Z Challenge post. Today's word is: obeliscolychny. It's a lighthouse, and unfortunately, that is pretty much all of the information I can find on the word. I can't find any history or anything! Hopefully that is really what it means, and it's not some obscure swear word or mother insult. So...yeah. There you go.
Today's film selection is a really good one: O Brother, Where Art Thou? This 2000 film stars George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson, John Goodman, Holly Hunter, and Charles Durning. The Coen brothers once again bring an unusual yet endearing story to the big screen. Here is the storyline from IMBd: Loosely based on Homer's "Odyssey," the movie deals with the picaresque adventures of Ulysses Everett McGill and his companions Delmar and Pete in 1930s Mississippi. Sprung from a chain gang and trying to reach Everett's home to recover the buried loot of a bank heist they are confronted by a series of strange characters--among them sirens, a cyclops, bank robber George "Baby Face" Nelson (very annoyed by that nickname), a campaigning governor and his opponent, a KKK lynch mob, and a blind prophet who warns the trio that "the treasure you seek shall not be the treasure you find." 
Not only is there great acting, but there is wonderful music. Not a musical per se, there are some outstanding musical numbers in the movie. Again, from IMBd: The film's soundtrack became an unlikely blockbuster, even surpassing the success of the film. By early 2001, it had sold five million copies, spawned a documentary film, three follow-up albums ("O Sister" and "O Sister 2"), two concert tours, and won Country Music Awards for Album of the Year and Single of the Year (for "Man of Constant Sorrow"). It also won five Grammys, including Album of the Year, and hit #1 on the Billboard album charts the week of March 15, 2002, 63 weeks after its release and over a year after the release of the film. I own the soundtrack and have pretty much worn it out! Even the guys I work with here in the lab like to play it on the lab's stereo. If you enjoy old gospel/folk type music, or if you are a fan of Alison Krauss, you will love the soundtrack.
I don't remember a lot of swearing in the film, and any violence is more slapstick in nature. It was nominated for two Oscars, and George Clooney won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical. I highly recommend it.

Until tomorrow and the letter "P" - TTFN my friends!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A to Z Challenge post - N is for Nef and Name of the Rose

Howdy do, all! I am very proud that I am still managing to keep up with the challenge. It gives me hope for other things in my life.

Today's "N" word is: nef. There are many definitions of this word; some references are historical, people (with Nef as a last name - many of them are Swiss), places, acronyms, mathematics, biology and chemistry, photography, and electronic filing.

But the definition I am choosing today refers to metalwork; specifically, an extravagant table ornament and container used in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, made of precious metals in the shape of a ship. Sometimes it was just decoration, but sometimes it held salt or spices, cutlery, or even napkins. Nefs are recorded in France as early as 1239, initially consisting of just the hull and was probably used to drink from; by the 15th century the more elaborate had masts, sails, and even crew, and had become too crowded with details to be used as containers to hold anything.

A nef was usually made of silver, silver-gilt or gold, often further embellished with enamel and precious jewels. Some nefs had wheels to allow them to be rolled from one end of the table to the other, but most had legs or pedestals. It was placed in front of the most important person at the table as a mark of their status.

Here are a few lovely examples:

 Today's movie selection is an oldie but a goodie: (The) Name of the Rose. This 1986 film stars Sean Connery, a very young Christian Slater, Helmut Qualtinger, Valentina Vargas, F. Murray Abraham, and Ron Perlman. I'm pretty sure this is the first movie I had ever seen Ron Perlman in.  Sean Connery won a BAFTA for Best Actor, and he and the film won several other foreign film awards.

Storyline from IMBd: 1327: after a mysterious death in a Benedictine Abbey, the monks are convinced that the apocalypse is coming. With the Abbey to play host to a council on the Franciscan's Order's belief that the Church should rid itself of wealth, William of Baskerville, a respected Franciscan monk, is asked to assist in determining the cause of the untimely death. Alas, more deaths occur as the investigation draws closer to uncovering the secret the Abbey wants hidden, and there is finally no stopping the Holy Inquisition from taking an active hand in the process. William and his young novice must race against time to prove the innocence of the unjustly accused and avoid the wrath of Holy Inquisitor Bernardo Gui.

Due to the period of the film, swearing does not make up the bulk of the speaking. There is one brief sex scene, and - trust me - fast forwarding through it makes it worse. So if kiddies (or those of a delicate nature, like...your mother) are in the room, just mute the sound and cover their eyes.

I love Sean in this movie; I find that he is most delicious and yummy during the '80's and '90's (see Hunt For Red October). Throw that man in a kilt and give him the phone book to read out loud and I'm melted into a puddle so fast there is a sonic boom.

Erm...yes. Well.

Until tomorrow and the letter "O" - TTFN!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A to Z Challenge post - M is for muffineer and Michael Clayton

Howdy and happy Wednesday! One nice thing about working Tuesday-Friday is that this is only my second work day of the week and it's already hump day!
Today's "M" word is: muffineer. A muffineer is a metal cruet or shaker with a perforated top used for sifting sugar onto muffins or other condiments onto food. It can also be defined as a covered dish to keep muffins, etc., warm. So, regardless of how you want to look at it, it definitely involves muffins.
Image result for muffineer definition
This is probably what comes to mind.

But this one is really cute.
Muffineers were part of the Victorian tableware along with so many other serving utensils that seem foreign to us now. Many were quite elaborate and they are very collectible today. They were made from china, porcelain, glass and/or silver.

Today's film choice is: Michael Clayton. This taunt legal thriller stars George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, Michael O'Keefe, and Sydney Pollack. Again, a great storyline summary from IMBd: "Michael Clayton, a high-priced law firm's fixer, leaves a late night poker game, gets a call to drive to Westchester, and watches his car blow up as he's taking an impromptu dawn walk through a field. Flash back four days. He owes a loan shark to cover his brother's debts (Michael's own gambling habits have left him virtually broke). His law firm is negotiating a high-stakes merger, and his firm's six year defense of a conglomerate's pesticide use is at risk when one of the firm's top litigators goes off his meds and puts the case in jeopardy. While Michael is trying to fix things someone decides to kill him. Who? Meanwhile his son summarizes the plot of a dark fantasy novel".
This film was the only one at the 2008 Oscars to receive more than one acting nomination; it received three: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (George Clooney), Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Tom Wilkinson), and the Oscar went to Tilda Swinton for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role. Great acting, great plot, great film all around.
Image result for michael clayton
Well, that's it for today. Hope your week is going well; only two more days 'til Friday!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A to Z Challenge post - L is for one of the longest words in the world and Lucky Number Slevin

Holy cow, do I have a word for you today! It is: Lopado­temacho­selacho­galeo­kranio­leipsano­drim­hypo­trimmato­silphio­parao­melito­katakechy­meno­kichl­epi­kossypho­phatto­perister­alektryon­opte­kephallio­kigklo­peleio­lagoio­siraio­baphe­tragano­pterygon. And you will never guess what it means. It is a fictional dish mentioned in Aristophane's comedy Assemblywomen (a play from 391BC). This word has been translated to mean "name of a dish compounded of all kinds of dainties, fish, flesh, fowl, and sauces". The original Greek word has 171 letters and is listed in the 1990 Guinness Book of World Records as the longest word ever to appear in literature.

When you think, as I did, why the heck didn't he just say what the dish was instead of this monster of a word, maybe this is why: In an English prose translation by Leo Strauss (1966), this Greek word is rendered as "oysters-saltfish-skate-sharks'-heads-left-over-vinegar-dressing-laserpitium-leek-with-honey-sauce-thrush-blackbird-pigeon-dove-roast-cock's-brains-wagtail-cushat-hare-stewed-in-new-wine-gristle-of-veal-pullet's-wings".


I think the original word is more appetizing. You pretty much lost me at oysters, but the shark's heads and roast cock's brains really did me in (not to mention gristle of veal). Yuck.

I think I'll move swiftly along to today's film choice.

Today's film is: Lucky Number Slevin. This 2006 film stars Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsley, Lucy Liu, Stanley Tucci, and Josh Hartnett. I could not describe the storyline any better than how it is stated on IMBd, so here it is: "In an airport waiting room, a man in a wheelchair tells a stranger a story about a fixed horse race in 1979 that resulted in a family's deaths. In Manhattan, two bookies and the son of a Mob boss die. A young man just out of the shower answers the door to a neighbor woman and explains that he's visiting, has had a bad week, including being mugged, and doesn't know where his pal, who lives there, is. The neighbor is chatty; she's a coroner. Two thugs arrive and, believing the visitor to be the guy who lives there, take him to see the boss with the dead son, who tells him to kill the son of his Mob rival. Mistaken identity? What connects the threads? Cops are watching."

This is another film that I love, love, love. Get your snacks together, go to the bathroom, turn off your phone - you need to pay attention to this movie or you aren't going to get it. This plot has more twists and turns than the Matterhorn ride at Disneyland. The film won four 2006 Milano International Film Festival (MIFF) awards: Best Film, Best Actor (Josh Hartnett), Best Editing, and Audience Award (Best Film). There is liberal use of the F-word (of course), so just a warning there.

Lucky Number Slevin (2006) Poster

Well, this post is late, but it is still on Tuesday! At least here in Washington state, anyway. Hope you are still enjoying the challenge, and I'll have another post for you tomorrow. TTFN!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A to Z Challenge post - K is for Kylin and Kill Bill (volumes 1 & 2)

Today’s post is coming in a little early (unusual for me); it is supposed to be Monday’s post, but I need to post it on Sunday because I will be down in Portland with Mom and without internet access. So, here we go:

Today’s “K” word is: kylin. This is actually kind of cool; I’m kind of liking it for a tattoo. Maybe. What is it? It is a Chinese mythical animal; a kind of unicorn with the tail of an ox and the legs and body of a deer, with horns on the head and scales all over the body. The kylin is said to be an animal of longevity that could live for 2,000 years. It is also believed that the beast could spit fire and roar like thunder. The Kylin is one of the "Four Divine Creatures", the other three being the phoenix, the turtle and the dragon. Of all animals, the kylin was ranked second only to the dragon.

In ancient Chinese culture, there are lots of legends about the relations between kylin and emperors. It was widely believed that the animal would convey the will of Heaven and therefore dictate the rise and fall of a dynasty. In folk culture, common people regard the animal as a divine creature bringing children to them. It is said that Confucius was brought by a kylin. The animal is also used to describe a brilliantly talented person.

In traditional Chinese folk customs, various ornaments bearing kylin images are made and given to children as a talisman that could bring luck and protection. The images of the kylin can still be found today. The most famous ones are the guarding creatures in the imperial mausoleums of the Southern Dynasty located in Qixia Town of Nanjing.

I am decorating my room in an Asian style, and I may have to order this print to go with some of the other cool Asian art that is waiting to grace my walls:

Chinese Flying Kylin Catching The Sun

Hmmmm...or maybe not.

In keeping with the Asian theme, my "K" film selections are Kill Bill Volume 1 and Kill Bill Volume 2. Now, please bear in mind that these are Quentin Tarantino films, so we probably don't need to discuss how violent and bloody they are. If you are unfamiliar with his films, you may want to stay that way; but if you don't mind your films being somewhat gruesome and at times almost hilariously bloody, then you may enjoy them as I do. Also, this is Tarantino's first full length film to use the "F-word" less than 100 times; it is only used 17 times. Just so ya know.

Volume 1 stars Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox, Daryl Hannah, David Carradine, Michael Madsen, Julie Dreyfus, Chiaki Kuriyama, Shin'ichi Chiba, and Michael Parks. Story line: The Bride awakens from a four year coma. The child she carried in her womb is gone. Now she must wreak vengeance on the team of assassins that betrayed her - a team she was once part of.

Michael Madsen and David Carradine are actually barely in this movie; in fact, you only hear Carradine and never actually see him. Madsen only has a few lines, and then they are right at the end of the movie. They have much larger parts in Volume 2.

Volume 2 has a lot of the same actors, some are now background and some that were background in Volume 1 are now main characters. Story line: The Bride continues her quest of vengeance against the reclusive bouncer Budd and the treacherous, one-eyed Elle; and it's all leading up to the ultimate confrontation with Bill, the Bride's former master and the man who ordered her execution.

I don't think this one is quite as bloody, but it is still pretty violent. Both movies (which was actually supposed to just be one but it would have been waaaaaaaay too long) are inspired by the 1970's styles of martial arts films. I think Tarantino totally nailed that. They are action packed, the amount of violence is almost silly, the soundtracks completely evoke that 1970's cinema aura, and are pretty much unrealistic in what really happens in the real world. But I think that is kind of what makes them fun to watch! If you are interested in learning about how much Tarantino weaves all sorts of stuff into his films, check out the trivia section of these two movies on IMDb; but do it AFTER you watch the films since there can be some spoilers. Then, once you know what to look for, you can enjoy the movies again!

Well, that's it for today! Thanks for stopping by, and again, thank you so much for all the nice comments. They truly make my day!


Saturday, April 11, 2015

A To Z Challenge post – J is for juglandaceous and Julie & Julia

Hidy-ho campers! Well, it’s official. I made it farther than last year, and I feel good about making it all the way through!
Today’s “J” word is: juglandaceous. And it has nothing to do with jugs. Or boobs. I’m sure some of you are disappointed by that, and that’s just too bad as this is not an episode of Family Guy. I love that show. (Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Conway Twitty…)

Sorry – got a little distracted there for a moment. Juglandaceous means of, related to, or belonging to the Juglandaceae. Wow! That was super helpful, Heather; thanks for that! Nah, I’m not gonna leave ya hangin’ like that. Juglandaceae is a family of trees that includes walnut and hickory. This would be an awesome word to throw down in a game of Scrabble, but I’m not sure you get that many letter tiles.
Today’s “J” movie is Julie & Julia. I loved this movie. When I saw it in the theater, I was really surprised at how many men there were; about half were all by themselves. I guess they were really into cooking. Or Meryl Streep. Or both.

This 2009 film stars the aforementioned Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, and Chris Messina. Jane Lynch is brilliant as Dorothy, Julia’s sister. This is a sort of combined biography – the telling of Julia Child’s life, how after working for the head of the Office of Strategic Services and traveling the world for her work, she met and married her wonderful husband, Paul; how after moving to Paris and not fitting in with the other wives and ladies of Paris, she signed up and attended the famous Le Cordon Bleu cooking school; her emergence into the world of television, up to the year before her death (she died in 2004 and the movie's timeline ends in 2003) – and autobiography of Julie Powell, who in 2002 decided to challenge herself to cook all the recipes in Child’s first book – the 726 page Mastering the Art of French Cooking – that Julia and her good friend Simone Beck fought so hard to get published (whew! Was that a run-on sentence? It felt like a run-on sentence). Julie is determined to master every single recipe, and her determination nearly causes her to lose sight of what was really important in her life.
I love, love, love this movie. Meryl is spot on playing Julia, and just makes you want to sit down with the real Julia Childs and just be her BFF. It also kind of makes you want to run out and buy your own copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking – even if all you use it for is to keep doors open and kill spiders with it. I highly recommend it (the movie and the book!).

Friday, April 10, 2015

A to Z Challenge post - I is for inaniloquent and Insomnia

I think we all know some people that are inaniloquent. That means that they tend to speak inanely; are loquacious or garrulous. In other words (ha!), they chatter on and on, tirelessly, about purposeless and pointless stuff, often to the point of annoyance. I think that this term could also possibly be used in reference to certain reality programs, like Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

Anywhooser, there is your awesome insulting-word-to-call-your-workmate of the day. Just don’t blame me if you get beat up in the parking lot. You never know who might be reading this blog!

Today’s movie choice is Insomnia, a real favorite of mine. This 2002 film stars Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Martin Donovan, and Hillary Swank. Two LA cops, facing some professional issues, are sent to a small town in Alaska to investigate the murder of a teenage girl. While there, Dormer (Pacino) manages to accidentally shoot and kill his partner (Donovan) while trying to apprehend a suspect. Instead of admitting his guilt, he unexpectedly manages to secure an alibi, but this only magnifies his feelings of guilt. There is also the problem of a local detective (Swank) that is conducting her own personal investigation into this partner’s death. Oh, and there is also the blackmail and framing of an innocent bystander being orchestrated by the man they were chasing. Will Dormer be able to hold it together? Or will his insomnia caused by the incessant midnight sun help to do him in?
No nominations or awards for this film, but I still highly recommend it.

Well, that’s it for today! TTFN.
PS - is it just me, or does the font keep changing? It's like this blog has a mind of its own...

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A to Z Challenge post – H is for humpenscrump and House of Flying Daggers

I chose today’s H word because it’s kind of fun to say! Humpenscrump. Definition: a crude musical instrument like a hurdy-gurdy (bonus – another fun "H" word to say!). I thought it kind of sounded like a Shakespearean insult of some sort ("You mangy humpenscrump!") Unfortunately, I could not find a picture of an actual humpenscrump; but, here are some pictures of hurdy-gurdys:

Hurdy-gurdys (gurdies?) go waaaaaay back – they are thought to have originated from fiddles in either Europe or the Middle East sometime before the 11th century A.D. One of the earliest forms, the organistrum, was so large that it was actually played by two people. The hurdy-gurdy is a stringed instrument that produces sound by a crank-turned, rosined wheel rubbing against the strings. The wheel acts like a violin bow and the notes played sound similar to those of a violin. But, there are also keys; and the keys press tangents – small wedges, typically made of wood – against one of more of the strings to change their pitch. Most have multiple drone strings, resulting in a sound similar to that of bagpipes.
Kind of an all-in-one musical…erm…thingy. Oh, and one who plays a hurdy-gurdy is a hurdy-gurdyist. How fun would that competition be? WHO WILL BE THE HURDY-GURDYIST HURDY-GURDYIST?

Ok, well, now I’m just getting silly.

Today’s movie selection is: House of Flying Daggers.
If you enjoyed Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon or Hero (another excellent “H” movie which this film is actually a companion to), then I highly suspect you will enjoy this one as well. This film was released in 2004 and stars Ziyi Zhang, Takeshi Kaneshiro, and Andy Lau. It was nominated for an Oscar in 2005 for Best Achievement in Cinematography (Xiaoding Zhao), and also nominated for multiple other awards including nine BAFTA’s.

The plot summary, in brief: A romantic police captain breaks a beautiful member of a rebel group out of prison to help her rejoin her fellows, but things are not what they seem.
This film is gorgeous, a real treat for the eyes. Ziyi Zhang is a very skilled dancer – joined the Beijing Dance Academy at age 11 – and it shows in one of the very early scenes of the movie. The scenery is just beautiful and the fight scenes are rather breath-taking. I am not normally a huge fan of this particular genre, but I sure do love this one. I even own the soundtrack! The theme song, sung during the end credits, is performed by world famous opera diva Kathleen Battle, and it brings me to tears Every. Single. Time.
Oh, and the literal English translation of the film’s title? Ambushed From Ten Directions.
I highly recommend it.

Well, that’s it for today! TTFN.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A to Z Challenge post - G is for gabardine and Gaslight

Mornin' all! 

Today's G word comes from the world of fashion and textiles: gabardine. Gabardine is a tough, tightly woven fabric of worsted, cotton, polyester or other fiber with a twill weave used to make suits, overcoats, trousers, uniforms, windbreakers, and other garments. 
Image result for gabardine
This is what gaberdine looks like up close.
It was invented in 1879 by Thomas Burberry, yes - founder of THAT Burberry fashion house - and was patented in 1888. The original fabric was waterproofed before weaving and was worsted or a worsted/cotton combination, tightly woven and water-repellent but was more comfortable that rubberized fabrics. The fabric takes its name from the word "gaberdine", originally a long, loose cloak or gown worn in the Middle Ages. Later, that name came to signify a rain cloak or a protective smock. 

This type of clothing was worn by polar explorers like Roald Amundsen, the first man to reach the South Pole, and Ernest Shackleton, who led the 1914 expedition to cross Antarctica.

So, there you have it.

Today's G movie is a classic: Gaslight. This 1944 film stars Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotton, and a very young Angela Landsbury. The plot is about a beautiful young woman and her new, handsome husband returning to the house her aunt was murdered in. However, he has a secret to protect, and he will do anything to keep it hidden - even driving his wife into insanity. I love, love, love this film and watch it every chance I get. The film won two Oscars in 1945: Best Actress In A Leading Role (Ingrid Bergman) and Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Black and White.
Gaslight (1944) Poster

This is a great film to watch while wrapped up in blankets, in your jam-jams, eating popcorn while it's raining outside. Or just, you know, whenever.