Tuesday, March 30, 2010

This is not a lending library

In my brain, I have a happy place. This place is permanently recorded in a 1974 Architectural Digest stored in my personal archive, of a nook filled with overflowing bookshelves, more piles of books on a steamer trunk, a soft silk loveseat, Flocati rug, reading lamp and dappled sunlight. Some day when we settle down, I'll have a nook like this.I love books. I love their heft, the way they feel, the way they smell, the various fonts, the flow of a story, fiction or non. Between Lori and I, we have a small fortune tied up in the literary arts. With as often as we've moved since our wedding, it's tough to keep track of everything we own. However, I still know when I'm missing a book. When I arrange them alphabetically, fiction before non-fiction, I know when something isn't where it should be.More recently, I acquired a Sony Reader, allowing me to carry 100 or more books with me whenever I travel. Since I am a voracious channel-surfer, it should come as no surprise that I also read four or five books concurrently. Doing so when traveling was tiresome when I had to carry them with me, buy another when I finished, and cart them all back home. I don't find the reader a poor substitute for the printed word, since I still have other books I read in their traditional form for the rush that musty pages bring. The reader, in addition to solving the issue of transport, of accessing free and reasonably priced digital editions, and gaining some space in our home, also means I can't lend a book to someone once I've finished my first read.

I never want to be one of those 'Indian givers', if you'll forgive the potentially politically incorrect term, but I get nervous any time I loan a book out, knowing the likelihood that I'll ever see the book again is slim to none. I get just as nervous, knowing friends who have loaned me books that still show up in our collection despite having moved 1300 miles from their rightful owner, knowing that they'll likely never be returned at this point.
Lisa, I'm sorry I still have your hardbound edition of 'The Stand'. I never made it past chapter one. I'm pretty sure you have my 'Skinny Legs and All'. Leah, I'm sorry I have your 'Letters from a Nut', or at least I did. I might have a Shel Silverstein of yours, too, I don't know why you left these at my apartment. Holly, you have my 'Me Talk Pretty One Day'. It's probably still on your old desk in the corner of the office. Sarah, I don't know if I ever gave you back your 'Fish Fries of Wisconsin' book. If not, I'll get it to you. Kathy, you have 'Bone in the Throat', I hope you're enjoying the read, it's a fun story, no? I really don't expect to get it back.

"Neither a borrower nor a lender be", spoke Claudius to Hamlet, in Shakespeare's play about the Danish prince. Sadly, I don't have my own copy of this play, it's one we never read in school. Could I, perchance, borrow yours?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Movie Mania Monday - Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains

A big hearty congrats to Mary, for officially identifying last week's quote from Bull Durham.   Of course, Samsmama, despite 'never watching movies', dropped a pretty big hint in the comments to indicate that she knew the film too, but refused to take credit.
I may not agree with her politics, but damn, did Susan Sarandon's legs look nice in this movie.  Oh, and there was some baseball, too.  Either way, if you haven't seen it, you probably should.

The weekend was kind of a bust, weekend-wise.  Worked on a few projects, which meant I spent about 15 hours staring at a computer screen without the benefit of a high score or viral YouTube goodness.  It was 85 and sunny on Saturday, less so on both counts Sunday.  But we're in peak allergy season in Florida, so it's not like I'm craving the great outdoors, anyway.  It has actually rained so much already this past week, the pool is within half an inch of overflowing.  I always wanted a 'negative edge' pool, but not this way.

Faithful readers are used to this by now, but we must always review for anyone just tuning in. Identify the film being quoted below using only your noggin. No Google, Bing, Altavista, Yahoo, Ask Jeeves, the like. If you're first, you win the peoples' ovation and fame forever, along with the coveted title of Iron Quote Guesser. Voici la quote de la semaine:

We just clipped a Piper Cub. Pilot's okay, I just saw him parachuting.

Allez guessing!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Fun Fact Friday - An' Ahhhh Hepped!

I know stuff.  Lots of stuff, much of it useless, except when it's not.  

So I've been fighting a compulsion today.  I like to be helpful, even if I wasn't asked.  If I know something, I want to share.  However, it really isn't my place to answer questions posed by others on a third party's blog.  Even if I know the answer.

Because I want to be helpful.  And since nobody asks me questions directly, I have to resist the urge to answer questions that weren't asked of me.

Because I know stuff.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Random Acts of Thursday - A Test in Three Acts

First off, let me just say once again that I was remiss in my posting.  Tuesday would have been Akira Kurosawa's 100th birthday, and I missed the chance to do an appropriate tribute.  TCM was running his films all day, but I only saw a little bit of Nora Inu.  Pity. 

However, if I start quizzing you on Kurosawa films, I will hear blog crickets, as I'm doubtful any of you are quite the fans I am, and I'm horrible.  

However, I do have a brilliant little quizzo for you kids today, and unlike most of these, there are ten questions, a simple 10% for each question.  Some characters are timeless.  Like Urkel.  Some are so timeless, real or fictional, that more than one actor has portrayed the character historically.  I believe the record I found was the one time I researched Santa Claus for last December's quizzes, and found that over 600 actors have played the right jolly old elf in the history of film.  These are hopefully easier.

Three actors, one common role.  To make life a little more difficult, several actors show up more than once.   Because they are, after all, actors.  Identify which character each set of actors has portrayed.

1:  Peter Cushing, John Pertwee, David Tennant

2:  Ethan Embry, Johnny Galecki, Anthony Michael Hall

3:  Dean Cain, Christopher Reeve, George Reeves

4:  Barbara Stanwyk, Elizabeth Berridge, Ethel Merman

5:  Val Kilmer, Robert Lowery, Michael Keaton

6:  Kevin Costner, Robert Stack, Tom Amandes

7:  Kurt Russell, Shaun Weiss, Bruce Campbell

8:  George Lazenby, David Niven, Timothy Dalton

9:  Kirk Douglas, Val Kilmer, Douglas Fowley

10: Burt Lancaster, Kevin Costner, Kurt Russell

Let's see your guesses!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

This is just a note to say

Akira Kurosawa would have been 100 years old yesterday.  And I spent the day ranting about social stalker sites.

I suck.  

But I would still like this for my birthday:

That's difficult, considering that I won't tell anyone when it is, I know.

You'll get over it.  Maybe if you just buy it for me now, we won't have to go down that painful road.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Into your life it will creep

I love conspiracy theories. Even better, I love theorists who shoot down other conspiracy theories for being 'too predictable'. Because what conspiracy is predictable? (For example, Lady Di faking her own death? Conspiracy theory fail.)

But man, paranoia is striking quite deep of late. And it has nothing to do with diet pills or 'Saved by the Bell' reruns played in sync with Dark Side of the Moon. Come on, MyLinkedAlumniTwitLifeBookScape, don't you think things are getting a little out of hand?

Years ago, the daughters were on MySpace, and being the concerned parents we were, we joined as well. I got sucked into groups, started a blog, made MyFriends and had MyConversations with people around the world, pulled MyHeists in MyMafia and wrecked MyCar in MyStreetracing. Suddenly, it became all too junior high, and everyone I knew disappeared over to Facebook.
Which is where things actually got a little stalker-like.
Facebook instantly suggested people I hadn't spoken to since high school, or in some cases, elementary school. For better or worse, I've linked to them, and gotten more requests from other people who found them, and I've linked back to the MySpace friends I cared about in the first place, along with some of you, dear readers. As of right now, I only have one person on the list that I can't identify, no matter how many old yearbooks I fan through. What's next? A friend suggested, long ago, that I check out MyLife, whose ads grace the sidebar of Facebook. Why she suggested it, I don't know. But despite my refusal to pay for social networking, and my generally slim participation in the existing social outlets, I still get teaser emails from them, telling me random facts about the people who searched for me. Based on the demographic info they've provided, I can almost guarantee that at least 75% of these people weren't looking for me when they typed my name into a search engine. And it does prove to be less than a perfect marketing tool, when the same four searches come up each time and they all happened two or three years ago.

I'm not opposed to Googling the whereabouts of an ex, or that girl I went on one date with in college, figuring that if they aren't completely hooked up to the matrix by a plug on the back of their skulls, they could be dead, and not all obituaries come up online. Perfectly acceptable to think they couldn't bear to pine their lives away for me anymore. But it doesn't mean I have any interest in reconnecting, I'm usually just curious about their arrest record or death by speeding locomotive.

But when I went to delete the MyLife spam the other day, I noticed it was different. Instead of "Look who's searching for you", they've added a twist: "Look who's searching for your significant other!" Think your spouse is cheating? Confirm that by throwing their junior high school boyfriend at them during a fight. "Who's this 23-year-old Male in Branson that searched for you in 2006?" That's constructive. Because if someone searches for you, obviously it's because you sent out that 'I'm available and yearning for your 7th grade hotness all over again...' vibe.

Just because I can eat an entire pumpkin pie in one sitting doesn't mean I should. Just because I can add bacon to something for .25 doesn't mean I should (but yes, I should, really.) Just because you have access to the Internet 24/7 doesn't mean you have to seek out those long-lost romances or the fat kid you picked on in 3rd grade. Stop making the planet smaller.

In theory, preying on people's innate paranoia isn't wrong, I just want in on the action. If I'd thought up CreepyStalkerInYourCloset.com, for example, I'd want advertisers to cough up big bucks. (And for the record, I did think up CreepyStalkerInYourCloset.com, I demand credit for it and all subsequent ideas contained in this paragraph.) People could go on there and search through the deleted items folder on their stalkee's computer, looking for keywords like 'I love my stalker' or 'she's the only one who gets me' or those shower photos that accidentally showed nipple (while they were afraid to wash their hair). You could then link to everyone linked to your victim love interest, to stalk take an interest in them, too. Make sure they're not unhealthy influences on your stalkee, suggesting such ridiculous things as 'restraining orders' and 'witness protection'.

But make sure you keep it safe and above-board, people. Because if you do step out of line, maybe 'the man'
will come to take you away. Then you'd better hope they offer Internet privileges in the pokey, and that CreepyStalkerInYourCloset.com isn't blocked.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Movie Mania Monday - Just cut them up like regular chickens

Saturday was a beautiful, sunny Florida day. Tough to appreciate that when mulch was on sale, and buying 50 bags that have to be loaded onto a cart, into the truck, into the wheelbarrow, and then into the flower beds, that's 200 or so lifts. Check out my abs! (No, you don't really want to do that...)

The yard looks much nicer, though, and the roses are in full bloom out front. Still not sure what the deal is with the bush in back, it keeps growing and growing, but it just won't bloom despite fertilizer and encouragement. We lost so many tropical plants with the hard freeze this winter, though. I keep hoping a few more will re-emerge, the yard looks so plain. Another plus, though? Mower started on the first pull, even after sitting for four months.

course, I figured I could finish up the rest of the mulch on Sunday, once I was done with some work projects I've been fighting with during the week. Of course, after all the lifting on Saturday, I could barely move. Plus, it rained most of the day, and nothing says biting insects like rain and wet tree bark.

Today is our daughter Melissa's 21st birthday. Amazing how time flies so quickly by, I remember her and Steph being so tiny, so bright-eyed and innocent mischievous. Now Melissa tells me the beer I drink is nasty and that Bud Light is the be-all and end-all of deliciousness. She's young, she'll learn.
Of course, at least as of when I wrote this, nobody ventured a proper guess last week's quote. What a shame. Netflix, anyone?

On to this week's contest. Once again, kids, let's review the rules. Identify the film being quoted below using only your noggin. Don't Google, don't Bing, don't Yahoo, don't Ask Jeeves. If you're first, you win the peoples' ovation and fame forever, along with the coveted title of Iron Quote Guesser. Voici la quote de la semaine:

The rose goes in the front, big guy.

Allez guessing! If this happened to be on over the weekend, I apologize for making life so simple for you. I picked the quote two weeks ago, as I did with next week's quote as well. Consider it a 'gimmie'.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fun Fact Friday - Talk Amongst Yourselves

I'll give you a topic...how has the Internet allowed the world to become smaller, making my cross-country moves nearly insignificant in the lives of most people with whom I interact? Discuss.

Forewarned is forearmed. So are these guys.

I start a new job in less than two weeks, 1000 miles from our current home. We are selling our current home, and trying to find a nice place to live in parts unknown, so we can be full-time Ohioans by the second week of May. Before I start that new job, I have lots to accomplish in the current one, to make my departure less painful. (That's my ego, they're probably planning the party already.)

As such, I have no 'fun fact' today. Because nobody has taken advantage of the email button in the upper right to Ask the Nerdy Fat Guy the 'question of the ages', and because I'm a little preoccupied, there's very little in the way of content today.

Go read a book or two instead. It's good for you.

Please take this as an apology, dear reader. You mean the world to me, expressing your joy at each and every one of my new posts (unless it falls on a Saturday.) However, because of the amount of travel and work coming in the next two months, posts may be sparse. Some of you may be called upon to take up the torch, to fill in the gaps, nerd-wise.

On the up-side, my sister, who claims I currently "write too much" for her to keep up with, might actually start reading CDS again. One can only hope.

If she does, I'll be verklempt.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Do you dream in color?

I've said it before, nobody pays me to say nice things about their products. Therefore, if I talk about something here, it's from the heart.

My friend, Sarah J. Bradley, is celebrating the release of her first novel, 'Dream in Color'. Through the miracle of the Internet, I just finished listening to her on Milwaukee radio, despite being 1300 miles away in Florida, and I can't express how happy I am about this book.

I met Sarah in a writer's workshop sponsored by the Waukesha Parks & Recreation department 13 or 14 years ago. She's insightful, intelligent and funny, and I've always enjoyed reading her work. She also has a borderline unhealthy obsession with Rick Springfield, but we mock forgive her for that.

When she started work on 'Dream...' six years ago, it felt good. It felt right, that Sarah found the perfect outlet for her voice and had truly built on the education she gained from her first and as-yet-unpublished novel. You can check out an excerpt at her publisher's site, Wild Rose Press. The book can be purchased there, or from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She informs me that the book will be available for electronic download in the very near future if that's your preference, as is mine normally. This one, I want to make sure I get it signed. Make sure you check out her daily blog, too. She's got a lot of insight for writers and a great sense of humor for everyone else.

Just don't let her talk you into harassing me about my as-yet unfinished books. That wouldn't be very nice.

Random Acts of Thursday - Home Sweet Home

As (1) we will soon be visited by a Realtor to list our sun-dappled Florida home, and (2) as we are on the quest for temporary-to-permanent housing elsewhere, and (3) as I had you identify many television home-away-from-homes a few weeks back, I thought it only appropriate to show a selection of movie and television homes, places that warmed your heart and mine, no matter what Thomas Wolfe may have said about it. Your job is simply to place the house in its proper setting.

With that in mind, some of these are simpler than others, I'll admit. Two of these are from movies I've never seen start-to-finish, one is from a film I've never seen at all, and the final one should be considered a bonus, since the photograph is modern, but the film is from 63 years ago.

So? Have at it, quizzlings!

Bonus points if you identify both directors who have two films in this list.

More bonus points if you're willing to help me move. Anyone?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Crouching Fat Kid, Crying Dragon

I know it's St. Patrick's Day. I know that convention would dictate, therefore, that today's post be full of Guinness chicks and ginger-haired dwarves in green velvet suits. Or is that a David Lynch film? I'm never sure. However, since I was on my yearbook kick already, I felt this story was long overdue to you, oh faithful reader.
I hope, dear reader, I can only hope! that you are enjoying this painful little walk down memory lane we're taking this week. Take heed, and think of the future of your children. It's too late for you to do anything about your school pictures of years past.

Sometimes I find it a wonder that I managed to survive to adulthood. Being 'husky', as the Sears catalog so quaintly phrased it, and really having no patience to try and part my hair, meant I got picked on a lot. Being picked on a lot meant I had little to no self-esteem. Having low self-esteem meant I needed to puff myself up, act cooler than I and everyone in a three-mile radius knew I really was.

All that changed when I got my kewl new Timex digital watch, with genuine Twist-o-Flex watch band. I was stylin'.
I'm shocked that they've re-released this watch, I can't imagine anyone wanting this watch. Mine wore out well before its time, the buttons didn't make contact properly, and I had crammed bits of aluminum foil into the openings so the buttons would, occasionally, respond as expected.

And no, the irony of a fat kid whose athletic feats could be measured in cramps and barfing owning a watch with fraction-of-a-second accuracy is NOT lost on me.

My least favorite part of owning this watch was that the alarm was stuck on, and would go off, without fail, at 7:06 am. Rain or shine. Daylight savings time or not. But at least it kept accurate time, so I could count down the minutes to lunch. (Yes. I said it. Wasn't gonna let you get that jab past me.)

One Saturday, after a round of $0.63 games of bowling at Landmark Lanes and half-price pizza at Pizza Man, my friend Chris and I were taking the North Avenue bus home from Milwaukee's east side to his parents' house in 'Tosa. (That's what the cool kids called it, 'Tosa'. Much hipper than 'Wauwatosa'. Trust me.) We must have bowled well, meaning I broke 80, because somehow we thought it would be a good idea, two husky eleven-year-olds, to sit in the back row of the bus. Cool kids did that. Hoodlums. Players. Not fat pre-teens. But we figured we could hang.

I was so cool, one of the other cool guys asked me if I had the time. Because I was the proud owner of a Twist-o-Flex-laden Timex Digital Chronograph timepiece, I responded that indeed, I did know what time it was.

I don't remember a whole lot about my new, cool friend. I vaguely recall that he looked like this:
...that he was (to my eleven-year-old brain) about seven feet tall, and that he was wearing a long women's parka, much like the one on the left:When the bus reached his stop, my new 'friend' grabbed my arm, and demanded that I relinquish my groovy-cool Timex Twist-o-Flex Chronometergraph. When I protested, I believe his response was along the lines of "I wouldn't do that, bitch", while simultaneously digging the longest fingernails I'd ever seen on a man into my pudgy arm and wresting the watch from it's due place.

As soon as he exited the bus with his friends, I ran to the front of the bus, to the closest figure of authority I could find. "Bus driver, bus driver! That man stole my watch!"

Yeah. Not sure why I figured that would cause a stir, that the vice squad would come barreling up North Avenue, sweeping the neighborhood for the hooligan that stole my watch. Somehow, I think the driver just thought I'd been taught a valuable lesson.

And I had. To those of you who inquire as to what time it now is, my lips are sealed. Buy your own damn watch. Eventually, I comforted myself only in the knowledge that my mugger would be awakened, without fail, at 7:06 am. Rain or shine. Daylight savings time or not.

(An aside: This was not my first assault, or my first mugging, but it was certainly the costliest. On my first or second day of sixth grade, I was approached right in front of school by one of the eighth graders who demanded whatever I might have of value. Fat kids with full backpacks can't run very fast, but he let me go. Apparently being a fat crybaby can work as a defense mechanism in a pinch. Just sayin.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Movie Mania Monday - a conjuring trick, that's what it is

It was a bright and sunny weekend, and other than an afternoon drive, I felt quite unproductive. Not that an afternoon drive is productive, by any means. Had the wind been calmer, it would have been beautiful bike weather, but I don't feel like getting slammed into the side of a moving car by Mother Nature.

Of course, daylight savings time always throws me off, too. I really have no clue what time it is right now, not that knowing would matter.

Back in third or fourth grade, one of the projects I got to participate in with some classmates was a 'radio recording' (more precisely, a cassette recorder) of 'The Invisible Man'. This was something, reading lines and trying not to sound stilted and nervous, despite hating my voice on tape. I was the man, invisible as I was. Of course, dying at the end kind of sucks. It obviously wasn't too traumatic, as I went on to star in such middle school theater performances as 'Blanche Neige' as the level-headed Doc, leader of les sept dwarfs. I rocked it for those seven parents and two other French classes, let me tell you. "Au palais, mes freres, au palais."

I've had my yearbooks piled in a box by my desk for some time now, meaning to scan them in. Sunday, I came to the conclusion that my awkward years weren't necessarily consecutive.
3rd grade, I was smart-looking, adorable, and dapper in my turtleneck and green sport coat. Yes, my mother cuts my hair. Wanna make something of it?4th grade? Let the awkward commence! Those teeth, that I subsequently knocked out in 8th grade, early attempts at parting my own hair, the ivory fly-collared shirt with brown detailing and a sweater vest? I really wore sweater vests? Must have blocked that out of my head, since I remember this shirt in great detail, but I don't remember ever owning a sweater vest. Because yeah, that's the worst part of this picture. Fifth grade? Who knew 1981 was the year of the collar. I can only hope that was a white shirt, because I distinctly remember the navy blue sweater with the periwinkle collar. Because bulky layers is just what a fat kid needs for his school pictures. I'm sure I was wearing powder blue corduroys with this, because that's how I rolled. Fifth grade was also the year of our trip to Quebec, which included such highlights as me projectile vomiting in a mall, having scalding tomato soup spilled on me and my powder blue cords by a maitre d', and getting two black eyes on my first attempt at roller skating, ever. At least I didn't pull a Sarah Moylan, walking dead into a parking meter on the streets of Montreal. Because two solid days of public barfing is far less embarrassing.

Enough reminiscing, though. Obviously, last week's movie was The Invisible Man, the 1933 version drawn closely from the original Wells novel and a brilliant piece of early cinema. Credit goes to Ms. for picking this one out of the lineup.

For this week, a cursory review of the rules. Identify the film being quoted below using only your noggin. No Google, Bing, Altavista, Yahoo, Ask Jeeves, the like. If you're first, you win the peoples' ovation and fame forever, along with the coveted title of Iron Quote Guesser. Watch this space for the wall of Iron Quote Guessers of yore, I'm also debating the relative merits of declaring a three-and-out rule, or at least a three-and-Tuesday rule, just to give everyone a fighting chance. Voici la quote de la semaine:

Oh, I don't know much of anything.

Allez guessing!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fun Fact Friday - Under Pressure

If salt was a drug, I could sell it by the gram.

What was up with those Queen dudes and that Bowie, ripping off a fine artist like Robert Van Winkle like that, anyway?

Saw a brief
news article that made me cringe, the food nazis are back at it again. A New York state legislator has introduced a bill that, if passed, would ban the use of salt in restaurant cooking. Thankfully, and understandably, the restaurant community is up in arms and fighting back.

The bill, A. 10129 (if you cared) states, in part: "No owner or operator of a restaurant in this state shall use salt in any form in the preparation of any food for consumption by customers of such restaurant, including food prepared to be consumed on the premises of such restaurant or off of such premises."

The legislation, which Assemblyman Felix Ortiz , D-Brooklyn, introduced on March 5, would fine restaurants $1,000 for each violation. (No word on the regulation of Pepa or Spinderella.)

I agree that some fast food chains could probably cut their sodium use 90% and we'd never notice. Fine dining establishments, those that rely on the more delicate balance of the five tastes our bodies perceive, are less guilty of this, in my opinion.

Some, especially my darling wife, would suggest that I use far too much salt. I may not agree, but I can see that. However, what are they really driving at here with actual legislation to control our health, what could they hope to achieve? If I go to my grocery store, buy a Hot Pocket from the freezer for my lunch, that's almost half of my RDA of sodium right there. And who eats one Hot Pocket? Instead, I cook many of our meals at home, use fresh vegetables whenever possible, and try not to season heavily when I cook.
However, I like salt. I like salty things. Buttered egg noodles with salt and pepper, salt on eggs, tomatoes, meat. Salt on my French fries when I do eat out. But I don't salt apples or melon or pizza, like some are apt to do. I don't salt desserts, though I did just have a sea salt caramel pretzel ice cream that was wonderful, and a Lindt sea salt dark chocolate bar a few weeks ago, with the hint of salt once the mouthfeel of cocoa butter had passed. And yes, I'm being treated for hypertension. I take a little generic pill once a day and all is right with the world.

I like fat, too. Much like the evils of salt that 'those in the know' like to force upon us, foie gras faced a similar fate in Chicago some years back. Foodies are a powerful lobby, I guess, and some creative chefs found a loophole until the ban was ultimately lifted. Because foie gras tastes good. Bacon tastes good. Cheese tastes good. Salt makes things taste good, complimenting sweetness or cutting oily or acidic flavors.

Salt is a preservative. A flavor enhancer. Even a required mineral to keep all liquid from evacuating your body like a fire drill. Salt was once currency. Will legislators outlaw money next? Perhaps just in restaurants.

And they said there's no such thing as a free lunch.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Check it out...

I may have mentioned, once or twice, that Lori is a photographer, something she pursues with great passion and talent. She recently started a '365 Days of Photos' project on her blog, and last week we moseyed out to the fairgrounds to get a night shot of the Cavalia circus tent.
Between posting that shot Monday night and checking her email Tuesday morning, Cavalia's national marketing firm (based here in Tampa) saw the shot and invited her to today's press review. This meant an almost private performance, and she was in heaven.

Go check her blog. Check it now. And don't be afraid to follow her, you'll be rewarded every day. Go!

Random Acts of Thursday - Pick a Side

What, me worry expound on the glory of the James Bond series of films, or the spaghetti westerns graced by Clint? You're shocked, I know. No quiz today, either, dear reader. You have plenty of work to be done on past Thursdays where you've feigned ignorance, so today is simply about adding to the growing trivial knowledge of the mundane that is Cheesehead Displacement Syndrome.

Growing up, my father would always point to someone in a movie and tell me "he's a great character actor." I didn't understand that as a kid, either you were famous or you were just there to give the famous person someone to shoot. It wasn't until I got a little older that I saw these actors again and again, filling role after role without much fanfare, and realized just what he meant.
Danny Trejo has never been a marquee name, but he's everywhere in film and you know him when you see him. Same thing with Brion James. Keith David. W. Earl Brown. Anthony James. All actors who make (or made) a living working, not taking down $20 mil a picture. This started to make sense to me after a few years. What still threw me, though, were the actors who assumed assorted roles in a single series of film or television. Gian Maria Volonte played, essentially, the same character in Per Un Pugno Di Dollari and Per Qualche Dollaro In Piu. (That's A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More, in case you were wondering.) In both films, Clint Eastwood played, essentially, the same character as well. However, The Man With No Name was timeless, and could easily have taken part in both settings. Even his wardrobe followed him through the films. Add Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo to the list, and you have Lee Van Cleef playing, again, a similar enough character between For a Few Dollars More and this film, despite having different names (and dying in G,B,U). Can you see how this could be confusing to an eight-year-old?

Similarly, watching the entire catalog of James Bond films, secondary characters have been played by repeat actors for years. M, Q and Moneypenny, until those actors retired, were played by the same actors for decades, in many cases appearing in more films than the actors playing Bond himself. What gives me more pause, though, are the actors who switched identities and allegiances between films.
Walter Gotell started his Bond career in From Russia With Love, as the S.P.E.C.T.R.E. training camp leader, Morzeny. Then, beginning in the Moore years and carrying through several subsquent Bonds, Gotell was featured as Soviet General Gogol. This portrayal began in The Spy Who Loved Me, and continued in A View to a Kill and The Living Daylights, to name a few.
Charles Gray similarly took a break between Bonds, first showing up as Connery's quick-to-die informant in You Only Live Twice, before taking on the role of villain-to-end-all-villains Ernst Stavro Blofeld in Diamonds Are Forever. (And then going on to do the Time Warp. Again.)
Joe Don Baker showed up as the unscrupulous arms dealer Brad Whitaker in The Living Daylights, then after an eight-year absence, suddenly turned up as CIA agent Jack Wade in Goldeneye, reprising the role in Tomorrow Never Dies (the only film, near as I can tell in all my film-watching history, where the sinister, world-dominating character gets to be named Elliott, instead of the simpering, nerdy loser.)
Finally, Maud Adams. Oh, sweet Maud Adams. Succumbing to Roger Moore's charms (SERIOUS ACTING ABILITY!) in The Man With The Golden Gun, she's killed by her lover for turning to Bond. She then turns up in one of the rare 'empowered woman' roles in Bond films as Octopussy and coming to Bond's rescue not once, but three times in the film.

Hopefully this has shed some light on things you didn't know you wanted to know, this knowledge might come in handy for past or future quizzes, too. If nothing else, at least it builds character.

Oh, and I finally figured out how do do strikethrough text. My mad HTML skillz is growin', yo.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The SPITWAD Chronicles - Pull the string!

It bothers me to see an actor, know who he is, but have no idea why I know that. This is what has led, in part, to the SPITWAD phenomenon. Martin Landau is only 81, old enough to have a special term (octogenarian) specifically for people of his decades, but not medically phenomenal. However, as I look back at his impressive list of work, I can't say I've seen two of his collected works in their entirety. And yes, I will confess now to having never seen North by Northwest in its entirety. It will be rectified at my earliest convenience. Please accept this, my apology, dear reader.

Somehow, though, I got it in my head that Marty was no more. He had ceased to be. Shuffled off this mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible. But I was wrong. In fact, he's still working actively, something many younger actors cannot claim. On the opposite end of this is Walter Matthau, whose name and visage pops into my head when I hear 'Martin Landau', some sort of social disconnect. Walter Matthau, whom I truly thought was still making contrived Neil Simon-inspired films with Jack Lemmon within the past few years, like The Odd Couple III in 3D and Grumpiest Old Men. Somehow I missed the memo, or just haven't realized the rapid passage of time, since Mr. Matthau kicked the bucket, snuffed it, became the ex-Mr. Matthau way back in 2000.
Leaving, of course, Jack Lemmon. As it turns out, also also dead, since 2001. Where has the decade gone?

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