I've created a monster

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I'm going to go finish my November movies in 2 posts, one today and one next week. I went for quality, not quantity in November, and as a result really enjoyed myself.

200. (507.) Inherit the Wind (1960)
Why hadn't I seen this sooner? Gene Kelly's character, a super-cynical reporter, may be my new personal role model.

203. (510.) It Should Happen to You (1954)
Jack Lemmon's first film is essentially the Paris Hilton story of a talentless woman who buys her way to fame. Very cute.

205. (512.) Go West (1925)
Buster Keaton knew funny; each of his movies is a master class in comic timing.

206. (513.) Crossfire (1947)
This morality play pairing Robert Mitchum and Robert Young is a little heavy-handed on the "antisemitism is bad." I read that the original novel keyed on homosexuality instead. That would have made a little more sense than watching a bunch of GIs after World War II murdering the same people that Hitler had just been killing. However, it would probably be a hard sell for a studio even in 2013.

207. (514.) The Party (1968)
This movie is fantastic until the climax, when a bunch of hippie teenagers arrive with an elephant and take a bubble bath. They really do still make movies like this, generally directed by the Farrelly Brothers.

208. (515.) The Valley of Gwangi (1969)
This drive-in fodder is nothing more than a King Kong remake featuring some impressive Ray Harryhausen effects. Worth a look if you like stop motion, but perhaps the worst movie I watched all month.

More to come.

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Every year, I say I'm going to post more art here. This counts.

Gus & Uga

That's the Georgia Southern mascot Gus and the UGA mascot Uga drawn for a nursery wall. As I understand it, one wall of the nursery will be painted to look like a football field. Isn't it good to know that some babies are still raised with the right values?

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Mom went out of town for the Thanksgiving holiday, so she wasn't here when I backed over the mailbox. She felt so bad when she scratched the rear bumper on her car last month, I felt it was only fair to scratch the rear bumper on my car to match. I'm considerate like that.

If at first you don't succeed, run over it with your car and start over

The up side of running over my own mailbox and having to reset the concrete base is knowing what I did wrong on my first try. Last time, I put it too near the road and wasn't able to sink the post low enough. Problem corrected. While I was at it, I went ahead and used the pickaxe to properly embed the flower trellis in the rocky ground behind it. (Previously, it just leaned sadly against the mailbox.)

All said and done, the mailbox looks good, maybe even better than before. But please don't tell Mom. I'd prefer she didn't know I ran over the mailbox. (It's kind of embarrassing.)

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December 2 marks the one year anniversary of the last time my brother spoke to me — or communicated with me in any way. He has ignored my telephone calls, emails, and texts. He moved out of the state, and I don't even know where he lives now.

I had been convinced that at the end of a year, Trey would break his self-imposed silence and make an attempt to communicate with me. It now appears clear that my conviction was unfounded.

Oh, well.

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I'm skipping ahead a little in my movie list today to spotlight the films I watched in November that featured Gene Hackman, the actor I saw more than any other last month. I think I've said before that Hackman was one of the actors I hated as a kid, probably because of Superman. But Royal Tanenbaums turned me around, and now I seek him out. He rarely disappoints.

201. (508.) The French Connection (1971)
I've been on the lookout for this famous film for years, and I have to say that the wait was worth it. The subway chase scene is deserving of its reputation, the procedural aspects are engrossing, and the ending is perfectly fitting and memorable. One thing I know for sure is that I never want to live in 1970s New York City.

202. (509.) The Conversation (1974)
This is a character study of an ethical man who begins to suspect that he has been an instrument to murder. I was really enjoying it until the character's loneliness leads him to make a few terrible mistakes about mid-movie, and then I found it nearly excruciating to see him pay for that breach of trust through to the end of the film (the end of his sanity?). It wasn't what I was expecting, and I find those movies to typically be the movies that stick with me.

204. (511.) French Connection II (1975)
I described French Connection to a friend as "watching Gene Hackman walk around a dirty New York City for an hour." He told me I didn't need to see the sequel. "It's watching Gene Hackman walk around dirty France for two hours." That's an apt description. In typical sequel fashion, it's more of the same, maybe more action, less procedural. Sadly, it takes twice as long to get to the action as the original — the ball doesn't really get rolling until 4/5 of the way through the movie! Not a bad movie, but nowhere near as good as the original.

I'd recommend all three movies.

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I'm beginning to think Victoria likes baths

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The 28th annual U.S. Public Interest Research Group Trouble in Toyland toy safety survey was released yesterday, and one of the offenders this year was the Captain America Soft Shield. The USPIRG is bent out of shape that it contains too much metal. What's it supposed to be made out of? Shields made of wool don't stop nearly as many bullets.

This shield is a small, soft version of Captain America's famous flying shield designed, you know, for kids. Apparently the manufacturer's idea of "softening" the shield is to make it with a soft metal, namely lead. USIPRG reports that its tests indicate the shield has 2,900 parts per million. Who cares if the federal limit is 100 ppm? Political Correctness really has gotten out of hand if we're now protecting Nazis from lead poisoning!

Is this really something we need the government to get involved in, anyway? One of the well-reported side-effects of lead poisoning is that children who have been poisoned become listless and stop playing with their toys. See? A self-correcting situation!

Another side effect of lead poisoning on the young is the common development of behavior disorders, including mental retardation. Only the mentally feeble would read Marvel Comic books, so this sounds like a comprehensive market strategy to me. Remember, The Walt Disney Company wouldn't do anything to hurt you or your children. They need consumers like you just as much as you need them.

The Free Market works, people. Leave it alone.

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October movies, part 3 of 3.

192. (499.) Brief Encounter (1945)
This romance was a reluctant recommendation. I had read that it was an inspiration for both Billy Wilder's The Apartment and John Carpenter's Starman. That may be true, but I liked both of those movies far more than this one. I'm not very sympathetic to movie characters who lie or cheat, and these protagonists do both.

193. (500.) Movie 43 (2013)
I hadn't planned it, but Movie 43 was the 500th movie I've watched in the two years I've been tracking. I think it was better than some of it's reviews allowed, but it does rely heavily on the "shock" nature of some of its extreme content for laughs when many of its vignettes could have used a little more time on script rewrites. (For the record: just showing the audience breasts or shit doesn't qualify as a joke.) The "Homeschooled" scenario was the stand-out home run of the film, the true nugget of comedy gold in thus unpolished mess.

194. (501.) The Ringer (2005)
I get that this film was an excuse to bring Johnny Knoxville into a scripted comedy that could be as offensive as Jackass. and I'd be lying if I said it was all bad. But in hindsight, if I can't remember a single laugh-out-loud gag, I have to wonder about the wisdom of a film that that uses retarded athletes as a setup for a punchline.

195. (502.) Incubus (1966)
William Shatner's infamous Esperanto movie! This damn thing was shot like a silent picture, and most scenes go on far, far too long. Shatner loves to hear himself talk, even in made-up languages! The ending is enjoyable, if a little nonsensically forced. (I had a problem with two people falling in love in one afternoon in Brief Encounter. In this movie, they fall in love over the course of a solar eclipse!)

196. (503.) The Nitwits (1935)
This is a comedy with the plot of a crime drama. I had never heard of Wheeler and Woolsey, but they apparently made 21 comedy films together in the 30s. If Nitwits is typical of their comedy, the other 20 are probably worth watching as well.

197. (504.) The Walking Dead (1936)
This is a crime drama masquerading as horror. Boris Karloff comes back from the dead to extract revenge on those who killed him. It's a little like D.O.A. meets Frankenstein meets Final Destination.

198. (505.) I Walked with a Zombie (1943)
This is a romance with the trappings of a horror movie. Looks great, with a lot of spooky moments, but it's really about a woman doing what she can for the man she loves.

199. (506.) Cat People (1942)
A woman turns into a cat when she feels she has been betrayed. That's not fiction, it's a documentary! Seriously, though, this is widely regarded as a b-picture classic, and its easy to see why. There's an over-abundance of atmosphere, and withholding the truth until the end is just the right amount of mystery.

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We probably should have seen it coming. After the injury-plagued season the Bulldogs have had in 2013, it shouldn't surprise anyone to see Senior quarterback Aaron Murray be carried off the field of his final home game with a knee injury.

UK 10, UGA 56

Otherwise, the game was all Georgia. Kentucky never put up anything amounting to a fight in this 56-10 rout. The biggest obstacle for the Dawgs was the cold. Boy was it cold!

The fans turned out despite the cold (and wind) to say goodbye to the departing seniors, including Aaron Murray. Poor kid. Friend Brian insisted on blaming Murray's knee injury on his decision not to slide on a play near the end of the first half with the score already out of reach. I prefer to blame a conditioning staff who have seen a disproportional number of kids in their care leave games with knee injuries this season. I'm no doctor, but when I see the top 6 offensive skill players miss playing time on the season with knee injuries, it seems to me that you're doing something wrong, guys.

(In fairness, there was a rule change this year that penalizes players for hitting helmets. I've heard that this has caused players to start tackling much lower, endangering knees. Maybe Georgia coaches have just been slow to adjust to this new style of defensive play. In any case, I expect better next year.)

Perhaps I should add that I overheard many fans lamenting the fact that UGA didn't wear black jerseys for the game. I didn't hear this rumor until the broadcasters discussed it on the pregame radio show. Who knows who started it. I'm glad the team wore their regular red jerseys. I don't think you should celebrate four years of hard teamwork by wearing someone else's jerseys.

With the 2013 home schedule in the books, I'd like to go on record as saying that this was probably the most talented Georgia team I've ever seen. If we hadn't been hit so badly by injuries, if the defense had managed to give up just one fewer touchdown per game, if the special teams hadn't played like retarded teams.... Oh, well. It was an exciting season anyway, with the game against LSU standing out as among the best I've ever seen in person.

Here's hoping that today's game won't be the last time we see Murray behind center for the Bulldogs. He'll be hard to replace.

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To be continued...