February 2nd, 2007

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A Month of Movies

I don't know if I'll manage it every month, but here a list, with some notes, on all the movies I watched last month!

The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik Yak
This is the kinky 80s "erotique" I got Caleb for Christmas, after hearing him go on and on about his obsession with it as a kid. (Yes, as a kid, he was all about Gwendoline!) Starring Tawny Kitaen! Very high on the hilarious camp, the highpoint of which is probably the scene with the chariots being pulled by warrior women wearing not much more than helmets...

Not entirely bad dark fantasy / sci fi, with definite Lovecraftian overtones. A whole lot of it doesn't make sense, however, and I don't know WTF Anna Paquin is doing starring in it.

Children of Men
Probably among the best movies I'm likely to see this year. The dystopian theme, the acting, and the awesome cinematography blew me away. Too bad Americans are too big on happy themes to have gone gaga over this.

Finding Neverland
This poor Netflix rental sat around for a couple of months before I watched it. I was probably just putting off mention of Wendy Darling, because there's not much rational reason to avoid a Johnny Depp movie -- or a Kate Winslet movie. Beautifully done.

The Saddest Music in the World
Awesomely bizarre and stylish movie by Canadian auteuer Guy Madden. My favorite part is definitely all the scene with Isabella Rosselini, as the beer magnate, but I also love the ridiculously over-the-top gothic cellist. If you want to see something different, really different, from Hollywood stuff, this is it.

Bad SciFi Original telling of Beowulf. Ugh, ugh, UGH.

It's been remarked that it's really amazing how much money this money made, considering it's not really the best thing ever. But yet... it kind of IS one of the best things ever, because it has an absurd number of memorable lines ("He slimed me!" "Don't cross the streams!" "I am ZEUL!" etc.) and is funny as hell. *shrugs*

For all its absurd romanticisms and total improbables, this movie seems to have stood the test for me. I cried numerous times.

I found this movie rather disappointing compared to my memories of it, although I will say Jack Nicholson is amazing as The Joker.

Pan's Labyrinth
Although I went into the movie with the false impression (given by ads) that this was a fantasy movie, I wound up being very impressed by this new Del Torro movie. Most of the movie takes place in the real world, not in the girl character's fantasies, and it's quite harsh, with killings, miscarriages, torture, abusive language, etc. Excellent stuff, however!

X-Men: The Last Stand
Those posters with Angel Boy (or whatever) totally turned me off watching this (Gay Cheesecake Alert!) thing when it came out, but in truth it wasn't that bad at all. And the ending -- gah!

The Mysterious Lady
One of MGM's last silents, starring Greta Garbo as a Russian spy who seduces a good Austrian officer to steal his secrets, but actually falls in love with him. Garbo is obscenely beautiful in this and pretty much all you do is stare at her going "For real?!"

I've seen only the first half of this Oliver Stone epic so far, but I liked what I saw.
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From thefridayfive - Family History

1. How far back can you trace your family tree?
1630s, further back if I tried. My dad's side of the family is descended from the likes of Anne Hutchinson and Wiliam Pell, some of the bigwig settlers of the NYC area. I've never looked too hard at Mom's side of the family, record-wise, because it would involve immigration records and then looking into stuff in Germany. I doubt any of it would be in good shape as the cities my family comes from were heavily bombed in the first and second World Wars.

2. What is the most interesting (or strange) thing you've heard about one of your relatives?
I've collected lots of stories from both sides of the family. For now I'll say it's the fact that my great-greatmother ran, single-handed, a harborside tavern in Bremen, Germany, and had 16 kids. Her hubby was off at sea, except when he was home making babies, I guess! So I think it's no surprise my family is known for strong, self-sufficient women.

3. How do you feel about legacy names like John Henry Smith IV or naming children after other relatives?
Not much into it at all and feel sort of bad for people like that.

In my own family, nobody has really done the whole Jr., Sr., I, I, III, etc. thing, but on my dad's side, my own genealogical research shows that the males of the family have always had the same few names, skipping generations: Raymond, William, Henry, Richard, and Thomas. Thus my grandfather was Raymond Darling, my uncle was William Darling, my dad's uncle was Thomas Darling, my brother is Thomas Darling, and my dad is Richard Henry Darling.

On my mother's side, the names appear to be all over the place and, as was German tradition, a lot of the women had a lot of names (e.g. one of my great grandmothers had a name like Greta Henrietta Wilhemina Mina). My mom's parents were Franz and Frieda and Mom's name is Hannah.

4. Would you consider yourself and/or your family to be traditional?
Yeah. One side springs from English colonists and the other from German immigrants. Also, there's no record of any divorces in my family, which has got to be pretty unusual these days. All my siblings have two kids each. I'm the least traditional of the bunch.

5. What is one tradition you have passed on to your children and/or plan to pass on to them?
I don't plan on any kids, but I do think it's very important to pass on cultural traditions, family stories, etc., and know where your family came from, geographically and culturally speaking. The combo of English WASPs and north German sort of merchant-class people has produced a particular culture in my family.
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Recycled Clothing

Everybody who knows me knows I'm kind of obsessed with clothes, shoes, accessories, etc., i.e. I loved getting dressed up, no matter for what. What people may not know is that a surprising amount my get-up is stuff I've gotten from friends, relatives and random people for nothing! There are also many oft-worn items I've gotten from thrift stores for nearly nothing, like dresses I got for $1, shoes for $2, etc.

For example, for today's interview, I was wearing a whole bunch of hand-me-downs:
- Expensive black wool Eddie Baeur suit from Caleb's ex-boss Alycen
- Purple silk blouse, also from Alycen
- Black square-toed Italian men's dress shoes Caleb didn't want anymore

Items I got used:
- Alligator leather briefcase that's definitely older than I am; from a tag sale
- 1960s black plastic & rhinestone eyeglasses.

Stuff I bought new:
- Socks
- Bra
- Underwear
- 13-year-old black trenchcoat

Sources for my hand-me-downs: Caleb, Alycen (gave me $5000 worth of clothes and shoes), Mom, various college friends, siblings. Some of my favorite clothes are things people just didn't want and gave me.


Luckie is doing this thing (see icon) right now, in her cat bed, which is now in my office. She's totally zonked out, left leg over her face even, to block out the light. As soon as I stand up (even quietly) she'll wake, but for now it's fun to watch her when she can't stare back.

Luckie Speaks

Here's a short bit of audio from a couple of days ago, done on my digital recording thingy. It was morning and she was lying on top of the still-covered birdcage sunning herself. I wish I could get her doing one of her really long dialogs, but you know how cats are -- as soon as you *want* them to do something, they won't do it for anything!

Luckie responds to questioning (WAV file, small download)
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Alexander: Going Down Like A Lead Zeppelin

Caleb and I just finished watching the second half of Alexander. I've never seen a movie take such a nosedive! The first half/disc I'd give a B -- exciting, well-paced, good production values -- but the second bit? Rubbish! I cannot believe Oliver Stone actually directed it; I want to think he went on vacation and handed it off to some no-name director who normally does SciFi Original Movies. What a train wreck! It loses all sense of pacing, has sex scenes, fights and flashbacks that go on way too long, commits all sorts of sins on history and is just plain boring. When the end finally came and Ptolemy is making his long-ass speech, Caleb and I were like "FINALLY!" I couldn't bear to watch the extras on this so I just had Caleb bring the Netflix mailers down to the lobby mailbox to get them out of here as soon as possible.
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