Showing 1 - 10 of 47 posts found matching keyword: dear diary

November wasn't only about pies and movies!

When I was a kid, my favorite Christmas decoration was a pair of legs painted on plywood mounted to the top of a chimney. They were connected to a windshield wiper motor and kicked, like Santa was stuck face down. It was a good gag.

Cue earlier last month when Mom said that she wanted a new Christmas yard decoration. She was looking at lit Santa Claus blow molds like she had on her door as a child, but when she tried to convey the idea, all I could think of were those kicking legs.

I didn't manage the same level of technical innovation, but I think I got the nostalgia angle right.

Ho, Ho, Ho

Kind of looks like a bit of Photoshop there, doesn't it? Here it is a little closer.

The Taste of Christmas

My next door neighbor seems to like it. He's already asked where we bought it so that he could get one of his own. Mom had to let him down easy. This Santa stands alone.

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Two years ago, I helped my mother with invitations and other aspects of preparing for her 50th high school class reunion. Part of that included developing art and layout.

The reason I mention that now is this placard recently spotted in the local public library:

I note that my class is not listed

That's my design at the top of that flyer, presumably taken from the reunion website.

It's kind of cool to see something that I had a hand in placed in a cultural archive. I'm immortal!

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Last night while behind the wheel dodging deer and listening to DJ patter, I was inspired to consider what my oldest memory might be. They say that the average person's memories begin at the age of three. That might be about right for me, too.

I remember that the master bedroom in our house in Stone Mountain had green carpet and a split level with black railing along the single step separating the bed from the sitting room/attached bath. (What can I say? It was the late 70s when even builders had bad taste.) I recall looking up through the bars of the railing at my mother in bed with my baby brother. I must have been about three years old.

Is it a real memory? I think so. It seems to me that most of what I remember of my childhood comes from pictures and videos my family took. Birthdays, Halloween, Christmas, all of these are things I remember secondhand from pictures and film, seen again much after the fact. To the best of my knowledge, no such pictures were taken through iron bars at my mother and brother in bed.

If that's not my oldest memory, I'm not sure what is. Playing with Kenner Star Wars toys in my sandbox? Going with my neighbors to see Raiders of the Lost Ark? Listening to Joan Jett's I Love Rock 'n Roll record? My memories after 1981 get very good. Those are real, but they aren't my earliest.

Honestly, I don't think about the past much. It's a habit I've cultivated. Most of what I do remember is the unpleasant stuff, so it's best to avoid it. Live in the present, knowwhatimean?

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What? I skipped a post again? Dammit.

In my defense, I've been busy these past few days. As you know, I've been supervising Dad's medications and dog-sitting Rambo and Scarlett (and trying to make July not jealous). Also, there have been issues with our commercial rental property, including an AC failure and an (unrelated) fallen tree that damaged the roof and destroyed the gutter over the back door that has a bad tendency to flood. Add to those that I have an end-of-July deadline on a coding project. And I helped one friend build some shelves and another fix her cable system. And my own ISP was down for most of Friday and Saturday. And I've been trying to find time to write more. And and and and.

But that's all just excuses.

On the up side, I did just recently discover that my phone takes great panoramic photos, a feature which I have been using exclusively to take photos of clouds.

Beautiful Clouds: Polution's one redeeming feature

So that's good. And that's enough.

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Where were we? Oh, yes. Movies!

88. (1527.) My Man Godfrey (1936)
William Powell plays William Powell as a down-on-his-luck fellow in the Depression who lands a job as butler to a family of rich cads. Very entertaining. (It's easy to see why William Powell was Cary Grant's mother's favorite actor.)

91. (1530.) Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness (2019)
Someone got the breakdown of a typical Hallmark Movies and Mystery channel movie... and shot it as-is. The result, as you might expect, is average.

90. (1529.) Moana (2016)
Catchy songs! Not much else to say. Are all Disney animated films so bland? I think the answer is yes. That's why you have to get kids watching while they're so young.

92. (1531.) Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)
Watches like a marketing exercise in "How to squeeze more blood out of the Harry Potter franchise." This is only the second movie I've ever seen in said franchise, and frankly, that's two too many.

94. (1533.) The Trip to Bountiful (1985)
I really think I watched this character study of an old woman coming to terms with living in the imaginary past in a civics class in 1989. It's not my usual cup of tea, but it's well done.

95. (1534.) The Chocolate War (1988)
I can best describe this as A Separate Peace done right. I've read that the ending differs from the book, but it's about as dark as "Hollywood" can manage. (I was the right age for this in 1988. Why hadn't I seen it before? Was I too busy watching old ladies visit Bountiful, Texas?)

96. (1535.) Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)
This much maligned sci-fi Christmas film is much maligned for a reason (low budget, bad acting, bat-shit crazy story...). But it was clearly made to entertain children, like television's Batman of the same era. Watched through that prism, its flaws are forgivable (and its imagination, laudable). I chuckled at the intentionally camp sensibilities more than once, especially when Santa Claus escapes an air lock shaped like a chimney without further explanation.

More to come.

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In 1996, I was in the mood to watch a sad movie, so I asked my co-workers at the Chili's in Toco Hills for a recommendation I could take to the Blockbuster Video across the parking lot. Their suggestion was Two Moon Junction. I don't have a great memory of that film, but I do remember ultimately being disappointed by it. It was sad enough, I guess, but not in any poignant way. It's no The English Patient. (Which is just as well. I hated The English Patient.)

That's really the thing about movie reviews: it doesn't matter so much whether a critic likes or doesn't like something, it matters whether you and the critic like the same things. Therein lies the value of a film critic.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution used to have a critic named Eleanor Ringel. (She still writes criticism for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Why the Atlanta Business Chronicle runs movie reviews is another question altogether.) Ringel has long been my favorite critic because I know that anything she likes, I'll hate, and vice versa. She has the anti-Walter's taste in film. For example, she hates The Incredibles and loves Avengers: Infinity War. That's just wrong. Wrong, but useful. Compare Ringel to Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers, who earned his reputation by giving any blockbuster summer movie a great pull quote to use for their marketing. That's not useful.

Anyone who is capable of separating what they like from why they like it can be a critic. Sadly, that's too high a bar for most. I mean, it's fine if you like Aquaman, but you have to be able to explain why for anyone else to find value in your subjective opinion. "It was a fun thrill ride" is not a helpful blurb if my idea of fun is an episode of NOVA about the construction of medieval cathedrals and yours is watching idiots eat Tide PODS® on YouTube.

For going on 8 years now, I've been obsessively tracking on this site the movies I watch. I do that mostly for my own benefit, though I do try to put what I've watched into some context of why I did or did not enjoy it. If that helps anyone else find a movie to watch, great. But stay away from Two Moon Junction. It's not good.

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I have tiny moguls on my face that indicate the first hints of an outbreaking rash. If this is what I think it is, poison ivy, then I can definitively say that summer has arrived. Sigh.

UPDATE 2019-05-02: Yes, it is poison ivy. Double sigh.

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Mom woke me up early because she couldn't turn on the television. The cause? Dead batteries in the remote control.

Dad complained that his washing machine was leaking water all over this pantry floor. The problem? The intake hose, which he had connected himself, was too loose and was spraying water everywhere.

No wonder my brother excommunicated himself from the family.

In 2003, co-worker Jeff showed me a lighter he couldn't get to work. I took it from him and tried it myself. It was a joy buzzer. Jeff laughed at me and said, "I knew you'd fall for it. All anyone has to do is tell Walter that they can't do something, and he'll do it for them."

Jeff, wherever you are now, know that you're still right. I'm still a sucker.

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This is an introductory paragraph telling you I'm about to talk about movies.

40. (1479.) Asterix and the Vikings (2006)
I first met Asterix in, as I recall, 1981 on the bookshelf of my friend, Greg. Greg and I grew apart after I skipped the 4th grade, but I've retained a nostalgic fondness for the comedic adventures of Asterix and company. This movie contained several dated pop culture references, though if this encourages viewers to hunt down a volume or two of the original comics, the dissonance is worth it.

43. (1482.) My Girl (1991)
After so many years of resisting this movie, I think I might have guilted myself into watching it. It's not bad. Dan Aykroyd reprises the well-intentioned but generally clueless character he played in Driving Miss Daisy, and Jamie Lee Curtis reprises the street smart, free spirit she played in Trading Places. Their protagonist is their daughter, and the film works best, as a sort of female Stand By Me, when the focus stays on her.

44. (1483.) Quicksilver (1986)
Someone said, "Let's make a movie where Kevin Bacon quits his lucrative stockbroker job to become a bicycle courier and runs afoul of a drug-dealing pimp." I wish it was as good as it sounds.

45. (1484.) Rabid (1977)
This is fundamentally a zombie movie where the outbreak is caused by experimental plastic surgery. Ugh. I don't think I like David Cronenberg films. One of these days, I'll probably force myself to watch Naked Lunch, but I really do think that will be the last one. They're just not for me.

46. (1485.) Mystery Street (1950)
Ah-ha! A great police procedural staring Ricardo Montalban. Highly recommended if you like that sort of thing (and judging by CBS's primetime lineup, most people do).

47. (1486.) John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)
Rubbing some of the mystery off of the original world teased in John Wick serves only to lessen the thrill, but I still liked it. There will always be room at my mental multiplex for stylish action films.

More to come.

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Not so long ago, conservative columnist Kathleen Parker wrote an editorial for the Washington Post complaining that Donald Trump should not be called "Putin's Poodle." She did not write this because she is a fan of Trump — she very openly considers him an albatross around the neck of the Republican party — but because poodles deserve better than to be called "weak" or "submissive." I couldn't agree more.

In fact, I wrote a similar editorial myself about a decade ago.

If you don't recall, in the winter of 2003, British Prime Minister Tony Blair was called "America's Poodle" for blindly supporting George W. Bush's push to invade Iraq in search of weapons of mass destruction. (Remember W? Remember when we thought he was the worst president in American history? Ah, the good old days!) That led to the University of Georgia student newspaper, The Red & Black, to run this editorial cartoon:

The British Bulldog represents Tony Blair, all bark with no bite. The poodle represents France, a vocal critic of the US/UK plan to invade Iraq. And the guy in the stove-pipe hat represents Colonel Sanders.

My response, which was more a reaction to an overreaction to the previous day's editorial cartoon than a reaction to this cartoon itself, read as follows:

Poodles no often angry or mean dogs. As a proud owner of a poodle, I found Mack Williams' portrayal of the snarling poodle in the editorial cartoon on Thursday to be deeply offensive. Obviously Williams has never even met a dog of the poodle breed or he would not so callously depict them as aggressive or mean-spirited. Poodles may tend to be high-strung but never, to my knowledge, are they malicious or cruel as Williams' dog with a curled lip and a ferocious accent implies. Anyone familiar with the breed would agree that poodles are loyal, good-humored animals deserving of our love, not our spite. To take the poodle breed so badly out of context in his cartoon dictates to me that Williams is indeed a twisted mind with no respect for anything decent in this world. It seems to me the truly rabid creature with the foaming mouth is not the libeled poodle, but Williams himself. WALTER STEPHENS, Staff, Athens, Administrative Secretary Lamar Dodd School of Art

I assure you, that was written with tongue firmly in cheek. Something tells me that Kathleen Parker was being a little more serious.

(You can see responses to my editorial in the blog post I wrote on Christmas Day 2006.)

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To be continued...

 

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