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The most recent entries are first. If you haven't been here for a while scroll down or click on a date. And remember most pictures are links to a larger version.

Comments? Your movie reviews? I would love to hear from you!

Enough about you, let's talk about me....

February 28, 2004

Sad Stories
For living in the city we have a lot of woodland area nearby. Here are some more neighborhood pictures. Joe made up a story for the first one.
Tiny Tradgedy
Saturday Night
Little Billy knew better. He should have said no to that third sippy cup of warm milk. But it was too late to worry about that now, with the long evening rays of the sun slanting through the trees, reminding him that it was, after all, long past naptime. His drowsy eyes barely registered the sharp bend in the road. He jerked the wheel, and then it was just a flurry of rocks and trees and a long, almost slow-motion arc into the icy creek. You make up your own story for this one.

Some more movie/DVD reviews
This is a Japanese movie by Takeshi Kitano (aka Beat Takeshi) who was a standup comedian before he became a director. He now specializes in violent Yakuza (Japanese mob) movies but takes a break every now and then to do something different. This is one of the different ones. The film has 3 sad love stories. In each there is a small ray of hope but it vanishes fairly quickly. The film is pretty (it is hard to make cherry blossoms and bright red japanese maples ugly). The stories are modern but there are nice little elements of traditional Japanese theater (not counting the initial puppet theater. I am not fond of puppet theater). I would recommend it but it's only available on Japanese DVD . Some of his other films are available here. I would recommend his Yakuza movie Hana-Bi (Fireworks).

February 22, 2004

You've probably all been wondering what the Halfsies are up to.
Halfsies Update
Well now you know.

Some more movie/DVD reviews
The original version of this movie was 3 hours long and in Russian. This version is half the length, in English, and, if you are interested in this sort of thing, shows George Clooney's naked behind at 00:27:55 and 00:39:02. The movie is a sci-fi romance, a cross between 2001: A Space Odyssey and Truly Madly Deeply. George Clooney, a psychiatrist, is on a space station type ship above a planet called Solaris. He has been sent there to investigate strange events. When he arrives there are only 2 very strung-out people left alive and they cannot really explain what is going on. Pretty soon the Clooney character's dead wife appears and he starts to understand more about the situation. This is a simple movie as sci-fi movies go. It has a nice look. It is slow paced and only has 4 main characters. Jeremy Davies is particularly good as one of the ship survivors. Joe has suggested I watch the 3 hour original (which he has on laserdisc) to "compare and contrast". I say "No thank you".

Mystery Train
A 1989 Jim Jarmusch movie with three intersecting stories all taking place during about a 24 hour period in Memphis, Tennessee. Much of each story takes place in a seedy rundown hotel next to the railroad tracks. Elvis figures prominently. I like Jarmusch movies. He is very good at creating a mood and he always has great quirky characters.

February 19, 2004

My New Idol
We like to watch the early episodes of American Idol mainly to see the baddest of the bad. As soon as they start the real competition we bail and go watch My Big Obnoxious Fiance (just kidding, I'd rather eat glass) Anyway, this time around one of the baddest was William Hung but he was fascinating. He is a nerd - a engineering major at UC Berkeley. He has crossed eyes. He has bad teeth. He can't sing. He can't dance. He won a talent contest in his dorm so he thought he should try to go all the way to American Idol. Simon said "You can't sing, you can't dance, so what do you want me to say?". But he was charmingly clueless, deeply earnest and optimistically cheerful. His choice of Ricky Martin's "She Bangs" was brilliant. The image of him dancing stayed in my head long after the other losers' auditions were replaced in my brain by more important stuff (that's how the brain works, doesn't it?)

Apparently, we were not the only people charmed. William Hung is now a Reality TV celebrity. Last night he was on one of the celebrity news programs because he was asked to sing at the halftime program of his school's volleyball game. They showed him rehearsing with his backup singers/dancers. The reporter said there was going to be a big surprise for him. We thought it would be great if Ricky Martin appeared. That would be just what Ricky needs to restart his career and it would be sweet to see them together. Well, the surprise was a recording contract offer. Oh well....

Need to know more? See it all (including his audition) at the fan site

February 15, 2004

The Simple Life
Went to a movie, took a long walk and had a great dinner tonight - fried rice. We use peanut and sesame oils, onions, celery, carrots, red pepper,water chestnuts, broccoli, day-old rice, soy sauce and the secret ingredient - slivered almonds. It is better than any Chinese restaurant fried rice we know.

We bought new cotton sheets and large bath towels on sale today.

And a new episode of Arrested Development was on tonight.

All in all a nice Sunday before a Monday holiday.

Some more movie/DVD reviews
Touching The Void Film about two climbers who climb a mountain in Peru but only one returns after feeling he has no choice but leave the other for dead after an accident. You know from the start that both men survive but the suspense is still intense. The film is based on a book by the left-for-dead climber. Very well done.

Shiri Korean action/thriller about a female assasin and two cops trying to find her before she kills again. It was ok. The story was a bit confusing to me but even though I did not really know what was going on I guessed the plot twist early on.

February 11, 2004

Recent News Events
So in my bathroom (the Girls bathroom, it's pink) I have a piece of art that my dad did in pastels of the old teddy bear that I've had since I was three. The picture is recent and reflects the teddy's missing eyes.

Teddy Bear

I put the picture in the bathroom about a month ago and since then it has undergone mysterious "enhancements", mostly with the use of the gell-like glass/mirror decorations. First it was the eyes ....

Teddy Bear's New Eyes

There were some other entertaining changes and then after all the news about the superbowl performances...

Teddy Bear's Publicity Stunt Teddy Bear's Publicity Stunt Closeup

Some more movie/DVD reviews
Y tu mamá también I had heard good things but what I heard also made me a little wary. I thought it might be a yuppie's dream - a foreign art house movie with lots of sex. Jerry Seinfeld made fun of movies like this. In his sitcom the movie was called Rochelle, Rochelle. Anyway I decided to try it and after the first 15 minutes I was ready to send it back to NetFlix. I was prepared for the gratuitous sex but not the farting jokes. I decided to let it play and it turned out to be decent. Yes, it is a coming of age type story about the two young fun-loving male leads who are confronted with realities regarding their future, their families and their friendship. But it is equally about the woman that has asked them to drive her to the beach that they told her about, a beach that they made up while they were trying to impress her. The filming and the story is interesting and there is also a message about saving the environment.

February 2, 2004

It's been a really cold winter. I am getting to wear all my wool clothes and wool accessories (Latvian mittens and hats). The last couple of winters have been wimpy. It's been a long time since I have had to wrap a scarf around my face to keep it from freezing off.

Here are some pictures Joe took. One is of the Potomac River and Georgetown University. The other is stonework at the new Pakistani Embassy down the street from us.

Potomac River snow grass

I made a small Quicktime movie using footage from a film Lyla's friend Wayne made of their beach vacation over 20 years ago. Lyla asked me to extract footage of Lynda and make a movie for her 45th birthday. So if you need some beach scenes after all that ice and snow take a look here.

Some more movie/DVD reviews
The Royal Tenenbaums
This completes the trilogy of rented Owen Wilson movies. Owen, his brother Luke, and friend Wes Anderson have made three movies now. Bottle Rocket is still my favorite because of Owen's character, Dignan, and what they did with so little money. Rushmore had its moments but was ultimately disappointing. I am happy to say The Royal Tanenbaums is great. Every one in it is great. The story is great and well thought out. The style is great. The scenes are framed carefully and artistically and are as memorable as the characters and the story.

Gene Hackman plays a crusty washed-up and broke father trying to get back into the family he abandoned years ago. Gwenyth Paltrow, who I really don't think is a very good actress, is perfect in her part as the tortured-soul sister. Ben Stiller, who is usually too enthusiastic in his comedy roles, is subdued and also perfect. Luke Wilson, who is mostly a pretty face in his movies, is still a pretty face here but it works. Owen Wilson plays his usual charming bad boy character that always works for me. There are several other supporting characters who play wonderful enablers to this totally dysfunctional family. It reminded me a bit of Hotel New Hampshire in its deadpan dealing with tragedy and life's misfortunes. As is obvious, I totally enjoyed it.

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