Monthly Archives: March 2009

Ten Things Tuesday

Ten more movies!

We’re sliding down the second half of my 100 Movies effort; today. we’ll knock off 51-60.  Ready?

51.  Die Hard.  I really like Bruce Willis as an action hero, and this first outing of – what is it now, four? – movies really, really works for me.  It’s funny, it’s harrowing, it’s gritty and scary, and just when you think it’s over, it’s not.  Besides, I’m not sure there’ll ever be a movie line to top “yippee-kay-yay, Motherfucker.”

52.  To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Numar.  Aside from the absolutely gorgeous and completely convincing performances of Patrick Swazey, Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo – which is nothing to cast aside, I tell you – this film is a touching, heartfelt, and, at times, laugh-out-loud funny look at people trying to figure out where they fit in the world and who believe, rightly, that there should be a place for them.  Swazey’s performance hits me especially hard – the scene where s/he stops the car in front of the family home and watches as her mother steps back into the house is one that gets me every time.

to-wong-foo

53.  Coming to America.  There was a time – and I know some of you remember it – when Eddie Murphy was funny.  This film – which, I think, was the first in his attempt at a more family-friendly brand of humor which would lead him away from his Delirious-like material to do things like Dr. Doolittle and the voice of Mushu in Disney’s Mulan – blends a kind of self-deprecating humor with Murphy’s keen eye for the ironic in our everyday lives.  This film, like To Wong Foo, manages to be both critical of its material and respectful and sympathetic to it, too. Arsenio Hall is a screaming RIOT in this film. Don’t forget to check out Murphy and Hall in the barber shop!

54.  The Negotiator.  I’m not a huge fan of either Kevin Spacey’s or Samuel L. Jackson’s.  Don’t get me wrong; I have a great deal of respect for the work they do, I’m just not in awe of them the way I know some people are (I’m still not sure I truly understand either American Beauty or The Usual Suspects).  That being said, I ADORE the Negotiator.  It’s tight, it surprises me every time I see it, and it’s satisfying at the end.  When your friends betray you, the only people you can trust are strangers.

55.  The Lord of the Rings; The Fellowship of the Ring.  There is so much to love in this film.  It is breathtakingly beautiful to look at, for starters.  It does a perfectly thorough job of introducing us to the story and familiarizing us with the history.  The film shows us the important characters and establishes their personalities and the relationships between them (and it does that without beating us over the head with it; we really do come to know them).  There’s action and suspense, romance and heartfelt friendship, magic and love.  We saw this almost as soon as it came out in the theatres (we had to wait for all the die-hard LoTR fans to give up their seats first, though) and grabbed this film on DVD as soon as it hit the shelves (then got it again when the extended version came out).  I never hesitate to put this series back in the DVD player, and the first installment is, like the two that come after it, a masterpiece.

thefellowshipofthering

56.  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  I think this may have been my favorite of the books, and while I was disappointed by how little of the wonder of the book the film was able to convey, it still did a grand job with some pretty complex material.  The kids are getting older and their feelings are getting more complex.  The story is starting to get darker and more dangerous.  The stakes are getting higher and, now more than ever, friendships and alliances are important.  I remember reacting almost viscerally to Delores Umbridge and the feelings of frustration at knowing something that people in authority deny, and I remember the feeling of utter vindication when Umbridge gets hers in the end. Things really start to come together in this film.

57.  Glory.  I know I said that there’s no particular order to this list, but I can’t believe that I made it more than halfway through before getting to this film.  If I were doing this list in order, Glory would easily be in the top ten.

glory-dvdcover1

This film is stunning in both its scope and its emotion, and it deserved every award it won (and all that it it didn’t, too).  The acting in it is incredible; I thought, when I first heard about the cast, that I was going to have a hard time with Ferris Bueler as a Civil War commander, but about ten minutes into the film, I was hooked.  Denzel Washington kills me in this film, and I regularly use the desertion scene in my literature classes (just look at the looks on their faces!).  Morgan Freeman is, as usual, outstanding (“Shoes, suh.”).  Not that it matters all that much to me, but I’ve heard, from someone who is an historian of the Civil War, that even though the film is an amalgam of a lot of different experiences, the feel of the movie is just about right for the time.

58.  Moonstruck.  This is just fun.  I love Cher, I love Olympia Dukakis and I love Nicolas Cage, and they all did amazing work in this film.  It’s tender and funny, it’s frustrating and frenetic, it’s over the top and ridiculous, but I love it.  Mr. Chili can’t even hear the name Nicolas Cage without making a claw with his hand and shaking it in the air, but that’s a small price to pay for this thoroughly enjoyable love story.

59. National Treasure. Since we’re talking about Nick Cage, let’s knock off another of his films, shall we? National Treasure is an entirely enjoyable, family friendly action-adventure film that feels to me like the love child of Indiana Jones movies and The Da Vinci Code. Cage’s character is a treasure hunter who’s trying to unlock the secrets of a fabled treasure no one believes exists. The clues lead him through history to our Masonic founding fathers, and ends with the Declaration of Independence. He’s racing against his nemesis (played by a very creepy Sean Bean) and fighting against disbelieving officials and the security of the Smithsonian in an effort to see what he knows is there. The film combines edge-of-your-seat adventure with humor and a bit of U.S. history (and a huge dose of willing suspension of disbelief, but that’s part of the fun, really) to make a really engaging ride.

60. Batman Begins. I’ve enjoyed most of the Batman outings – I even got past my incredulity to accept Michael Keaton – Mr. Mom! – as Batman – but this one is truly my favorite of the franchise.

For someone who never in her life read comic books, I nevertheless have a great affection for the films that were inspired by them. Sometimes, I think that my ignorance of the original stories makes me a better consumer of the the films; I come to them with no pre-conceived notions of how the set is supposed to look or of which actors are appropriate for which roles, so I heartily enjoy them (even some of the “bad” ones) for what they are.

That being said, I think that Christian Bale is a wonderful Batman. He is in turns brooding and mournful, vicious and careful, self-assured and tortured, and I love that he can play all of those things in such a way that I’m entirely convinced. The supporting players – Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, and Liam Neeson especially – all contribute to why I really love this film. Someone can come to this movie with no idea of the Batman story and come away, two hours later, with a solid understanding of the character and his motivations (without feeling like they’ve been spoon-fed or bashed over the head with the blatantly obvious). The feel of the film is just right, and it’s one that I am only too happy to pop into the DVD player on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

Happy Tuesday, Everyone!

11 Comments

Filed under movies, ten things Tuesday

Monday Meme

A list of 100 movies, from Yahoo by way of NurseExec.  That reminds me; I’ve got to continue chipping away at MY 100 Movies list.  Maybe tomorrow’s Ten Things Tuesday will see another installment in that effort….

12 Angry Men
2001: A Space Odyssey
400 Blows
8 1/2
A Hard Day’s Night
African Queen
Alien

All About Eve
Annie Hall
Apocalypse Now
Battle of Algiers
Bicycle Thief, The
Blade Runner
Blazing Saddles

Blow Up
Blue Velvet
Bonnie and Clyde
Breathless
Bridge on the River Kwai
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Casablanca
Chinatown
Citizen Kane
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Die Hard
Do the Right Thing

Double Indemnity
Dr. Strangelove
Duck Soup
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Enter the Dragon
Exorcist, The
Fast Times At Ridgemont High
French Connection, The
Godfather, Part II
Godfather, The

Goldfinger
Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, The

Goodfellas
Graduate, The
Grand Illusion
Groundhog Day
In the Mood For Love
It Happened One Night
It’s a Wonderful Life
Jaws
King Kong

Lawrence of Arabia
Lord of the Rings, The
M
M*A*S*H
Maltese Falcon, The
Matrix, The
Modern Times
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
National Lampoon’s Animal House
Network

Nosferatu
On the Waterfront
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Paths of Glory
Princess Mononoke
Psycho
Pulp Fiction
Raging Bull
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Raise the Red Lantern
Rashomon
Rear Window
Rebel Without a Cause
Rocky
Roman Holiday
Saving Private Ryan
Schindler’s List

Searchers, The
Seven Samurai
Shawshank Redemption, The
Silence of the Lambs, The
Singin’ in the Rain
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Some Like It Hot
Sound of Music, The
Star Wars
Sullivan’s Travels
Sunset Blvd.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Third Man, The
This is Spinal Tap
Titanic
To Kill a Mockingbird
Toy Story
Usual Suspects, The

Vertigo
When Harry Met Sally…
Wild Bunch, The
Wild Strawberries
Wings of Desire
Wizard of Oz, The
Woman On the Verge of Nervous Breakdown
World of Apu, The

I find this list (as I find most lists) decidedly lacking.  Oh, well; that’s why I’m putting together MY list, I suppose…

Happy Monday, Everyone!

8 Comments

Filed under Little Bits of Nothingness, meme, movies

Monday Meme

I boosted this one from NurseExec over at Driven to Distraction.  Thanks, Babe!

Make a list of 5 things you can see without getting up:
I can see a cup of pens, pencils, and those little metal, hook-type bookmarks with pretty bits of fused glass on their ends (I wonder if she misses me as much as I miss her…); I can see a quote from MLK that says “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”; I can see a mirror in a frame my mom carved about 20 years ago; I can see a picture of my husband wielding a golf club like a homicidal maniac while his brother makes a “RUN FOR THE HILLS!!” gesture behind him; and I can see a small, brown and white stuffed owl.

How do you style your hair?
I wash and condition in the morning, let it damp-dry, flip my head over and scrunch in a little gel.  I’m very low-maintenance.

What are you wearing now?
Black fleece pajama pants, a long-sleeved tee-shirt, woobie socks and glasses.

What was the last book you read?
I’m making my way through the Outlander series.  I’m just about finished with Voyager.

Coffee or tea?
Tea, preferably green, generally hot and unsweetened, but that’ll change once the weather warms up.

Who was the last person you hugged?
DUH.  Mr. Chili.

What’s your current fandom/obsession/addiction?
I’m trying to exert a little less force on the earth right now, so my new mantra is “no empty calories.”  I’m doing marginally well; we’ll see how long that lasts.

If you could get a tattoo of anything right now, what would you get?
I don’t want a tattoo, actually.  I used to think I did – a small, discrete dragonfly on the outside of my ankle – but Mr. Chili has expressed a PROFOUND disapproval for such a thing, so I’ve let the idea go.

If you had the money for it, what would you purchase right now?
I’d buy Mr. Chili a new car.

What websites do you always visit when you go online?
Google Reader, and any of my blog buddies who’ve updated their sites since I was last on.

What was the last thing you bought?
groceries

What would you like to be listening to right now?
I’d LOVE to be listening to sweet, tweety birds outside my open window, but that’s not going to happen around here for another month and a half.  As it is, I’m listening to my refrigerator hum and my wheezy kitty snore.

What’s the last song that got stuck in your head?
Drift Away by Dobey Grey

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I’d like to have precognition.  Failing that, transporter powers would be cool.

What is your favorite weather, and why?
Anything that doesn’t involve temperatures under about 75 and snow.  I’m happiest when it’s warm (“gee, Chili, REALLY?! We didn’t know!“)

If you could play any musical instrument, which one would you play?
I’d choose acoustic guitar, I think, or maybe the piano

What would your theme song be?
Huh!  I don’t know.  Any suggestions?

Your dream career?
I’m kind of doing it, actually.  I love being a college English teacher.  While I’m looking forward to NOT doing that for a few months, I really do think I’m going to do a little job-hunting while I’m waiting for Local U. to start back up; I’d like a more steady gig.

1 Comment

Filed under Blogroll, Little Bits of Nothingness, meme

Spring Cleaning

Even though the weather around here isn’t exactly spring-like (though it IS raining, which is a typical condition for New England in the springtime), my thoughts have turned to organization and tidying.

I’ve been trying to marshal a plan for putting Chez Chili in order.  The realization has hit me that, because I have a bit of storage need,  I have to begin from the bottom and work my way up.  In order to clear out a couple of spaces in the house, I need room to store things in the basement.  All this means that I ought to spend some time getting things put to rights down there.

Half of the basement is “mine,” and half belongs to Mr. Chili.  In my half are a couple of tables, the laundry machines, various holiday decorations, sewing machines,notions and swaths of fabric, clothes that are either too big for the girls (and need to be put in attic storage in properly labeled bins) or too small (which need to be put in the back of my car and brought to donation centers) and various bits of kitchen equipment that are important enough to keep but that don’t get used all that often (the clay baker, for example, and a punch bowl; that sort of thing).

All of those things are not, however, in any kind of reasonable order.  I can probably find anything you asked me for, but I wouldn’t be able to send you into the basement with “third shelf on the right” kinds of instructions so you could find it.  I yearn for clean, organized spaces, and I drool over images, like I’ve seen in the Real Simple or Living magazines, of streamlined, highly efficient basements (and garages, but we won’t go there just yet…).

photo1

Today is not the day to begin, however.  Today is set aside for visiting grandparents and spreading love around.  Tomorrow, my dearest wish is to be able to spend some time with O’Mama.  Between her funeral and my stupid-busy schedule last week, I feel as though I’ve not seen her in forever.  I’m thinking, though, that I’ll try to meet her for lunch and spend the afternoon with her as a reward to myself for spending the morning in the basement.

3 Comments

Filed under concerns, Friends, General Bitching, Home and Family, Little Bits of Nothingness, my oh-so-exciting life

I Got Nothing….

Here; have a cookie.

chocolate_chip_cookie

image credit

6 Comments

Filed under Little Bits of Nothingness

F-F-F-F-F-F-F-Friday

I mentioned once, a while ago, that I play a little game with myself to see how many Fs I can legitimately put into Fucking Floral Friday titles. Today’s is “Fabulous Friendship, Fantastic Fungi Fettuccine, Fucking Floral Friday.

First, the fabulous friendship. Ms. Sooza and her woman folk are coming to visit tonight (I’d thought it was last week, but it turns out I’d misunderstood our plans). Her girls love my girls, and the feeling is decidedly mutual; as a matter of fact, Punkin’ Pie is busily cleaning her room in anticipation of the Wayfarer Girls’ arrival (and sleep over party). I’m looking forward to having one of my oldest friends in my house for the evening; the guest room is ready, dinner is in the making, and I’m slightly giddy with anticipation. Mr. Chili is going to be otherwise occupied with the latest SU basketball game tonight, and I have visions of Sooza and me curled up on the chairs in the great room with big glasses of wine in our mitts.

The fantastic fungi fettuccine refers to dinner – well, half of it, anyway. I’ve put together a big old pan of this for Sooza and me to dig into tonight. The rest of the clan is, at best, lukewarm about mushrooms, so they’re getting a pan of homemade mac and cheese (which, let’s be honest, doesn’t suck, but I’m really looking forward to the mushroom pasta). Since no one in my immediate family likes mushrooms very much – and since this stuff doesn’t freeze well at all – I only break this recipe out when someone who does love mushrooms comes to visit. Yet another in the long list of reasons I love Sooza is that she likes mushrooms, and I’m practically salivating at the idea of tonight’s dinner. Mmmmm.

Finally, here’s the fucking flower. It was a TOTAL impulse buy in the grocery store this morning. I was thinking that I’d pick up a bunch of carnations or something, both for the joy of having them and because I needed a flower for today’s post, but there were literally no bouquets of anything by the market’s front door – perhaps the cut flower people are a little behind on filling the store’s order. I thought I’d have to resort to taking a picture of the silk forsythia and daisies I have in the front door wreath, but then I walked by this pretty little thing. I discovered, last year at Gerry and Honey’s place, that I love begonias. Now I’ve got to do a little research to see if I can learn how to keep her alive (and blooming); I’ve been having quite a run of really great houseplant luck lately, and I’m hoping to branch out a bit beyond African violets, Christmas cacti, and spider plants.

img_2916

Happy Friday, Everyone!

4 Comments

Filed under celebration, cooking, F-F-Friday, Friends, fun, Home and Family, love notes, my oh-so-exciting life

Stand By Me

Punkin’ Pie had her 6th grade band concert the other night.  Before the musicians started playing, however, the band teacher showed the collected parents, friends, and family this video:

He meant us to see the ways in which music unites us as human beings, but I saw something much deeper in the message.  I keep coming back, again and again, to the idea that we are, all of us, interconnected.  Not only do we share the universal language of music (though some of us speak it with more fluency than others), but we also share a need to be seen, heard, and understood.

I find this need expressed in a number of different traditions.  In the Bantu languages of Africa, the idea of ubuntu is used to describe someone who, in the words of Desmond Tutu, is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed. In yogic traditions, the word namaste essentially means that there is a place in you where the Divine resides, and there is a place in me where the Divine resides.  When you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me, we are the same being.

I think that this video goes well beyond the wonder of a shared musical experience.  It reaffirms – at least, for me – the understanding that we are all in this together; that we belong to and are responsible for one another; and that if we can learn to make room for each other and to approach one another with an attitude of compassion instead of aggression, we might just be able to figure this thing out.

10 Comments

Filed under compassion and connection, general kid stuff, ideas and opinions, ruminating, social issues, yoga - theory and practice