Saturday, October 29, 2016

Fangs...

...are in...at least around our house.  That's my daughter Sarah sporting her new eye teeth, just in time for All Hallow's Eve.  Thankfully they're removable...also pretty believable.  Do not wear shirts without a protective collar for the next few days.

Sarah's not the only one preparing for the big day...

...busy putting together treat boxes for the trick or treaters...a gospel tract, candy and a "crackerjack" type prize included...

...we enlisted the help of former blues harp legend Elwood Bones and his faithful dog to guard the booty until All Hallows Eve...

...plus we have the Tree Creature standing by to help just in case...

...we're flying the Jolly Roger to let folks know we're taking no prisoners...

So we're getting close...they're predicting 60 degrees and dry for October 31 so we may break 100 again for the first time in several years.

This weekend we watched my favorite Halloween movie, Young Frankenstein...the Mel Brooks / Gene Wilder classic from 1974.  It is the definitive spoof of the horror movie genre for pretty much all horror films made up through 1950...but focusing of course on THE classic, Frankenstein.

My favorite scene in the film is where Wilder, as the grandson of the original mad scientist Victor Frankenstein, is out in the thunderstorm summoning the forces of nature...

 to reanimate his creature (played brilliantly by Peter Boyle)...

Every time I watch this film I laugh at the sight of Wilder's crazed command that the forces of the universe "give my creature....LLLLIIIIFFFEEE!!!!"

So much fun.

Later, mcm fans...


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Sunday, October 23, 2016

All Hallows...

...preparations...kinda like the climbing skeletons...and Jack Skellington...and the Creature from the Black Lagoon...

We did actually downsize our Halloween decorations this year, but I admit I've bought a few new things as well...hoping for decent weather a week from now.

proof that smoking kills...
So this explains what Jack Skellington was so upset about in Nightmare Before Christmas:
It's October 23rd and Halloween has been pushed to the background in the world of retail...all shoved in a far corner while Christmas dances on center stage...is that an evil laugh I hear coming from Santa's mouth?  And could someone please help him trim his beard?

This weekend we watched Cafe Society again...


...mostly for the beautiful art deco architecture, fashion and ambiance.  I'm more convinced than ever that Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart can't act and have absolutely zero on screen chemistry.

Karen then wanted to see Bridget Jones' Diary...watchable, since I enjoy almost anything with Colin Firth and Hugh Grant in it, but def not my kind of movie.  Not a Zelwegger fan.

Nature is quickly shutting down in preparation for the arrival of Old Man Winter...beautiful fall colors now...our grape leaves are turning yellow, and we finally have some morning glories...

Drove Mr. T a couple of times this weekend...

...needs a tune up I do believe...running a little rough lately...Steve's Antique Auto will be happy to see me...again...

Other than that it was a quiet weekend...felt busy both days but nothing major accomplished I guess.

Haven't been writing at all lately...lacking creativity at the moment...I'm happier when I'm writing so I'm trying to get back there, but writing crap doesn't help...searching for some inspiration.  If you happen to have some extra laying around that you're not using, please send it my way.

Later, mcm fans...


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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Shadow...

...Of The Vampire...'tis the season, y'all...a couple of weeks away from All Hallows E'en...


...so we're sprinkling in a little spooky with our regular movie experiences...nothing too gruesome...def don't go in for the cut and slash garbage that seems to have taken over horror movies nowadays.

Thought it would be interesting to see the 2000 production of the fictionalized making of the original Dracula, Nosferatu.  That was a 1922 classic silent film production by famed looney tunes German film maker F.W. Murnau.

Nosferatu has some very serious creepy factor going for it, and it is definitely worth your time if you enjoy A) silent movies and B) horror films that have a brain and not just a blood and gore budget.



In the original an actor named Max Schreck played the part of Count Orlok, the thinly disguised stand in for our pal Drac:

Bram Stoker was the author of Dracula, of course...and his widow took exception to the movie Nosferatu...mainly because Murnau had asked permission to bring Dracula to the screen and she had declined.

Murnau proceeded to do it anyway; he just renamed a few characters, tweaked the plot here and there and voila!  Nosferatu.

Stoker's widow eventually sued for copyright infringement and won, and copies of Nosferatu were destroyed (most of them...a few remained, from which we get today's DVD's)

In the 2000 retelling of the making of Nosferatu, John Malkovich plays the famous film maker Murnau, and he's got an ugly secret: Max Schreck is not an actor playing Count Orlok; he is Count Orlok, bona fide bloodsucker (played brilliantly by Willem Dafoe).

The movie is a fascinating look a the silent movie era and how this cult classic came into existence; and it rises to the level of true horror in the fantastic, gruesome ending, when insanity is on full display.

Even if you're not a horror movie fan, this one is worth watching just to see the brilliant interplay between Malkovich's Murnau and Dafoe's Orlok.  You will be amazed at Willem Dafoe, especially, as the revolting Orlok.  He was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of this creepy undead specimen.

Our second movie was unrelated to All Hallows; we took a trip back to 1993 and viewed In The Line Of Fire with Clint Eastwood.
This is a great film and a turning point for Eastwood: he actually acted in this one, displaying a previously unseen vulnerability and range of emotions unknown in earlier efforts.  He's not just Dirty Harry in the Secret Service; he's a real person with flaws and demons as well as admirable strength and courage.

It's fast paced and interesting throughout, and Malkovich does his usual brilliant turn as amoral, intelligent, conscience-less villain...this time he's an ex-CIA assassin bent on exacting revenge on the government by killing the president.

The cat and mouse between Malkovich and Eastwood is worth the price of admission.  If you haven't seen this one, you're only hurting yourself.  Give it a look and don't forget to say thank you; you're welcome.

Switching gears...actually sold a few books recently...I'm in no danger of being confused with a best selling author at the moment, but after a long dry spell it's been mildly encouraging to see some activity on the sales front.

Even got me thinking about working on book six of the Papa's Model T series.  (After a flurry of creative activity I ran out of gas when my advertising efforts seemed to be yielding goose eggs.)

Any train aficionados out there?  Yeah, me too...

That's the view outside my office window...there are days I wish I was on that train.

This morning dawned dreary and rainy...the view from the garage:
That's Mr. T's fender on the bottom left, of course.

We toss out unsalted peanuts for the small army of squirrels that inhabit the area, and I've been surprised at the other species that seems to love our peanuts:
Yep, that's a blue jay.  Did not know they like peanuts, but apparently that's a well known fact among serious bird watchers, among whose numbers I do not count myself.  We'll get a half dozen of them swooping down, snagging a peanut, and flying off to wherever they go to do whatever it is they do with peanuts in the shell.  Go figure.

That's it for now...

Later, mcm fans...


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Sunday, October 9, 2016

A Hologram...

...For The King...this is a quiet little movie that came out earlier this year...my sense is it slipped in and out of the theaters with little fanfare.  I know from browsing IMDB reviews it was not well received.

Now I don't usually start a blog entry with a movie review...but this one intrigued me enough that I rented the DVD and gave it a look...
...and it's considerably better than most of the reviewers said it is.  Some of the criticism centered on the unlikelihood of an aging American businessman falling in love with an older Saudi female doctor who's going through divorce...
...the idea being the strict muslim culture with its abusive treatment of women would never allow for such.

And I admit there is a somewhat forbidding overtone to the movie, as if at any time things could turn dangerous, even deadly for the American in a humorless culture known for its extremist, terrorist actions around the world.

Thankfully that's not what the movie is about, so if you're looking for two hours of grim reality, watch a documentary.

This is a Tom Hanks movie, for crying out loud, and he delivers his reliable product.  It won't change your life, but it will make you think, and it's an interesting peek inside the challenges of an American trying to find his way both professionally and personally in a very different culture.

I liked it and will watch it again...you might want to give it a look as well.

The other movie we watched this weekend is Genius...
...highlighted by an astounding performance by Jude Law of all people, as the brilliant, doomed writer Thomas Wolfe.

I'm a native Texan, and though I willingly relinquished my southern accent in grade school when we moved north, I was raised with Southern being spoken in our home daily...my mother was born and raised in Louisiana, and she never lost that sweet drawl that makes listening to a cultured southern lady so entrancing.

So when I heard Jude Law, he of English extraction, would be playing Thomas Wolfe, the bombastic southern genius from North Carolina, I had my doubts.  Few things grate on my nerves more than an inept imitation of a southern accent.

An English guy with a southern drawl?  Fuggedaboudit!

I am amazed.  Jude Law's performance as Wolfe is Oscar worthy and this period piece movie held our attention from beginning to end.  Colin Firth does his usual excellent turn, this time as editor Max Perkins who edited both F. Scott Fitzgerald's and Papa Hemingway's masterpieces, and successfully reigned in Wolfe's expansive writing and cut it down to marketable size.

Nicole Kidman is excellent as Aline Bernstein, Wolfe's older, married - and neurotic - muse and lover...and Laura Linney takes a break from unlikable characters (The Truman Show, Mr. Holmes) and is sympathetic as Max Perkins supportive wife.

Obviously I'm a fan of literature and early 20th century Americana, so admittedly this movie is in my wheelhouse...but for pure acting genius, it's worth your time.  As always Hollywood takes some liberties with timelines and events, but you'll come away with a sense of the massive brilliance of Thomas Wolfe, the patient expertise of Max Perkins, and witness a breakthrough performance for the amazing Jude Law.

4 stars on this one.

Random pics from recent ramblings...
While cleaning out the garage I came across the above...#3 son playing in the state finals back in 2001...Ev's 6'6" and was a very fine three sport athlete...I've always liked this shot of him bringing the ball up the court.

Old glory flying proudly on a sunny day in front of the ol' homestead...blessed to live in such wonderful country, in spite of the choices facing us in the upcoming election.

Still the breakfast of champions on a chill, sunny dayspring...liked the shadow cast by my morning libation, set against the autumnal backdrop of our backyard's fading glory.

These next two pics are objets d'art we found while browsing Lost and Found antique store:

There's a story here that propriety renders unrelatable.

Love the art deco look and feel of this sign.

The following are Art Prize entries:
Christmas Eve, 1933...I enjoy history and this room caught my attention.

Don't remember what the artist called this...these are hanging pieces of lumber and they move up and down, pounding against the floor yielding a sound like a bunch of clumsy jackbooted thugs tap dancing.  Don't know if it's art, but it's interesting, mildly clever, and probably a lot of work to set up (and take down, now that Art Prize is over).

This is just weird.  It's part of a series of displays made in abandoned homes in poor sections of town.  Two months ago it was urban blight, shunned and ignored by everyone.  Splash some paint on the floors and walls, cut away some floorboards, hang various assemblages of random junk, erect a few moderne signs with pretentious, self-important explanations of thematic elements and artists' bohemian intent and voila:  "Aht".

Yes, I know...I'm too bourgeoisie, too rooted in mundane reality to comprehend...alas, if only I had a few more - or at least the right kind of - IQ points...

Much to do before the onslaught of another work week, so off to the many tasks at hand.

Later, mcm fans...


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Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Lost...

...weekend...but it was for a good cause...one of Karen's niece's got married.  Gotta hand it to the Catholics...they do know how to build sanctuaries that evoke the magnificent grandeur of the Lord God Almighty.

a huge stained glass window in the worship center...
The reception was first class as well...at the University Club downtown, 10th floor with a beautiful view of the Calder Plaza and surrounding area.

all lit up at night...
The "happy couple" seems truly happy...he's a native of China and the speech his mom gave in broken English brought tears to my eyes...filled with gratitude to live free in the U.S. where she can work hard to support her family and enjoy the fruits of her labors.  If every citizen had her attitude this country would a hundred, no a thousand times more productive and better off than it is now.

So there were many good points about their wedding and reception, but it did in fact take all of Saturday...from preparation in the morning for the 2pm service to the reception in the evening from 6pm until 11.

Since I'm hearing impaired and can't endure three or four hours of crowd noise mixed with loud pounding dance music, I occasionally left the reception and wandered a bit...


...which means for the very first time I actually did a little bit of the art prize thing...and I kinda liked the Michigan map composed of individual pictures of birds, wildlife, etc,

So Saturday disappeared in a flurry of commitments and unfortunately, Sunday had its share of system issues: our main server failed over to the disaster recovery data center...cleanup of that mess took several hours so I feel like I'm headed back into another work week without any real weekend in between.  So sad....

Switching gears, after giving away more than half my Halloween decor in an effort to declutter our house and garage, I've succumbed to the temptation to buy one small prop for the big night:




should be fun for the little trick or treaters...

But now work is screaming at me again, so off to complete a couple of "before Monday" tasks.

Later, mcm fans...

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