Number of Days Since We Referred To That Song At Nogglestead: 3

Borepatch has an interesting trivium about the “Sisters” number with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye in White Christmas:

This scene was ad lib, with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye reprising the song from Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen. It started as Bing goofing around and everyone thought it was funny so they filmed it. They filmed it several times because people were laughing so much that it was hard to get a clean take. The laughter you see here is genuine.

When we were watching the football game on Sunday night, an ad used that song as the background music for…. Well, I don’t remember what the ad was for. But I asked my youngest what film it was from as (I think) we watched it together a couple of years ago. But he could not recall.

I’m working through some Christmas/holiday films to start the month, but I haven’t yet put the true holiday movies (Holiday Inn, White Christmas, The Bishop’s Wife, Die Hard, Die Hard 2, Lethal Weapon, Invasion USA, etc.) into the queue yet as I have so, so many movies to watch that I have not seen before and/or which are not hidden somewhere amongst our media library.

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Movie Report: The Heartbreak Kid (2007)

Book coverI think of this movie as coming after Ben Stiller’s peak period, but to be honest, something happened in 2006 that killed our cinema-going days for a while (before the insipidity of modern movies completely killed it). My oldest was born in 2006, so I missed a lot of movies between then and forever except for those I’m catching up on via home media (whose reach is already waning as streaming takes over). Looking at his IMDB listing, Stiller has remained active, although mostly on sequels to things that came out before 2006. So I guess we don’t have to pen a “Where Are They Now?” entry about him just yet.

At any rate, in this film, Stiller plays Eddie, a sporting goods shop owner in San Francisco who feels pressure to get married because his long-time fiance is getting married and because his best friend (played by Rob Corddry, who also was in How To Be A Latin Lover and the Hot Tub Time Machine movies–so I’ve seen him often enough to learn his name), because his friend (he repeated because that other parenthetical grew long) who extols the virtues of marriage whilst being a henpecked husband, and because he, Eddie, is forty. So when he attempts to help a woman getting mugged on the streets of San Francisco, he meets an attractive woman who seems perfect. After a montage of them snogging in various locations over a couple of months, they marry and go to Cabo for their honeymoon.

During the trip, though, she starts to annoy him, and starts slipping things about her past (cocaine addiction and apparently a lot of varied sexual adventures, along with the fact that the “mugging” was an ex-boyfriend trying to reclaim his wallet which she stole from him). They don’t agree much on what to do, and on the first day, a beach day, she gets sunburned terribly and refuses to leave the room. So Eddie goes out to dinner and meets a woman in Cabo with her family, and then meets her family, and has a montage of pleasant trips with her whilst his new wife is laid up. So much so that she falls for him, too, but when she discovers he has a living wife (not a murdered wife, which is part of a story he told to kids at the wedding in scene 1 who also happen to be in Cabo at the same time), it’s over. Eddie has a montage of him trying to cross the border without papers as his wife burned all his belongings before returning to the U.S. When he arrives in Oxford, Mississippi, he finds that Miranda (played by Michelle Monaghan) has married an ex-boyfriend and is happy. Eddie reflects on his life and decamps from San Francisco, having lost his sporting goods store in the divorce, moving to Cabo and opening a business on the beach. Some time later, Miranda returns to Cabo separated from her husband and looking to rekindle her romance with Eddie, but the very last scene is Eddie telling his new Mexican wife the same lies he told his first wife when he was going to sneak off with Miranda.

So, basically, the whole thing is a deconstruction of marriage. I mean, he rushed into his marriage after a couple of months, only to discover some things about his new wife that he didn’t learn in those months when they were together all the time, apparently snogging but not shagging. And, in the end, he has not learned anything and is in the same place, with the same shortcomings.

This is a remake of an earlier film starring Charles Grodin. I haven’t seen it, but the Wikipedia entry makes it sound like Eddie was a less sympathetic figure. A cad, but in the end he marries the girl (and ends up at the kids’ table, which is where Eddie begins in this film). So there is some recognition of the value of marriage and that Eddie is outside the bounds of the mainstream or the “good.” But Ben Stiller plays, well, Ben Stiller, so the character comes of as sympathetic, it could happen to anybody, even as he plies deception and continues the deception to the end of the film and beyond. So I didn’t like the film and ultimately found it morally repugnant.

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The AI In The Social Media Algorithms Doesn’t Get It

I posted this on Facebook and LinkedIn, and nobody liked it.

One knock-on, downstream effect of the AI revolution is that Alberts, Alfreds, Alphonses, and Alistairs will probably stop using the nickname Al.

I presume this is because the algorithms don’t have a sense of humor or have flagged it as misinformation.

It would never occur to me it’s just not that funny.

The joke came to me when I read an article about climate change, and the name Al Gore was broken so Al was on one line and Gore on the next, and I just scanned Al as AI. In the serif font of the WordPress text editor, it’s clearly different. But in the sans serif fonts of the Internet, it looks the same.

One more reason to study calligraphy: If one can read it at all, one can tell the letters apart.

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My Undocumented Purchase

You might think, gentle reader, that I document all my raging consumerism and materialism here just because I often mention books, videos, records, and other music I buy. Ah, gentle reader, but I do not tell you everything I buy! I mean, I might, if you cheap rascals would have ever clicked the Amazon links when I had them. But you did not, and Amazon disassociated me because apparently keeping my links active was too much of a hassle for them. So updating 20 years of book reports was all for naught.

Where was I? Oh, yes, I was about to tell you about something else I bought.

When I went to Hobby Lobby at the beginning of November (when I bought the Santa which my beautiful wife now claims to have seen without mentioning it), I also bought some calligraphy supplies. A calligraphy kit which came with a cartridge-based stylus with different nibs and a calligraphy book and some calligraphy markers.

Because I remember calligraphy units in art classes in middle school, and I was not completely bad at them.

So I thought that I might try again. I have them at the desk in the parlor, currently overwhelmed with Christmas records, and I have sat down a couple of times to work on trying to write the alphabet. Unfortunately, the calligraphy book that came with the kit only had one calligraphy-looking alphabet/font. Most of them were in block print, and the book has text in several languages taking up some of its bulk.

I mention it because I ran across an article, St. Louis calligrapher can personalize everything from holiday ornaments to perfume bottles, about a woman who has a business doing calligraphy and engraving, including “event” gigs where she goes to a party and does on-demand calligraphy and engraving.

Not something for me as I’m nowhere nearly consistent nor steady enough for professional work. But cool.

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Movie Report: Funny Farm (1988)

Book coverI bought this film late last month and popped it in as I’m more in the mood for films than reading these days, perhaps spurred by the realization that even though I know I will not finish reading all my books, I have a shot at watching all my unread videocassettes and DVDs if I put my back into it. So I have been a bit.

In this ultimately forgettable comedy from the 1980s, Chevy Chase is a sportswriter who quits his job in the city and moves with his wife (no children) to a…. Well, a hobby farm sized parcel way out in the country. Hijinks ensue as they deal with movers who get lost and are days late (with only a truckload of furniture, but I guess they are moving from an apartment to a home), the eccentric locals, the wildlife, and so on. Chevy Chase wants to write a book, and he starts on it. When he shares the beginning of it with his wife on their anniversary, their romantic mood is ruined when she says it’s not good. So their marriage founders, especially when she writes a children’s book that she sells and starts working on others. They plan to sell the house, hiring the townsfolk to act Norman Rockwellish for a couple who is interested in the property, but they decide to reconcile and stay. And finis!

You know, the 80s brimmed with “New Yorkers Move To The Suburbs/Rural Areas” comedies. Well, okay, maybe I’m only also thinking of The Money Pit just because I watched it earlier this year. But these fish-out-of-water tales really miss the proper zeitgeist of rural areas (and adding meth to them a la Winter’s Bone and whatnot does not correct this flaw).

I didn’t care for the film, as it was kind of shallow and hollow at the same time. The characters are underdeveloped, even for a comedy–in the best of movies, you get the sense that the characters have some sort of life off screen, but the characters here are just ciphers for cinematic manipulation. And it wasn’t that funny.

Although it did speak to me a bit: 1) When I first met my beautiful wife, I brought a manuscript of The Courtship of Barbara Holt and watched her while she read it at a coffee shop called The Grind in the fashionable Central West End. And 2) Something about the marriage rankled me–both participants showed some selfish tendencies, and the husband’s poisonous envy of the wife’s success was off-putting. I don’t know. Maybe I thought it would be too easy for me to become that person.

So I have seen it, and although I asked my boys, including the Chevy Chase fan, if they wanted to watch it, I ended up telling him (the fan) that he made a good decision as the film was insipid.

You know Chevy Chase made a fair number of films in the 1980s, but he’s mostly remembered for the National Lampoon’s Vacation films. And fittingly so. They were family-oriented films, which made the adults adults and not childish. Well, not completely childish. Which is often lacking from modern comedies.

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Another Christmas Game At Nogglestead

Not hide and seek with decorations which leads to the annual festival of The Christmas Straggler in January. This one is for the whole holiday season:

What Is That On My Freshly Vacuumed Floor? A Kitten-Mauled Decoration Or A Candy Wrapper?

False dilemma: It could be both!

They went through a phase where they would just let their candy wrappers, snack bags, or soft drink containers–and sometimes glasses–fall from their hands when they were done with them, leaving the detritus on the sofa or floors of the family room.

Which is odd: When I was a kid in the projects, I thought nothing of just dropping trash on the ground even though Milwaukee had public trash cans on just about every block (the green Keep Milwaukee Clean bins which are probably gone now). But I would not do that in the house. But my boys are the opposite: They get almost belligerent when someone throws a cigarette butt out of a car window, but they just drop garbage in the house (and take their shoes off when they come in the house, presumably to keep the dirt out but more likely because that’s what their friends from years ago did at their house).

Maybe they’re not yet out of that phase; maybe it’s that they’ve got devices/televisions in their rooms these days and don’t spend as much time in the common areas. So perhaps (probably) they’re still doing the same thing in their bedrooms now but it’s less noticeable as I don’t go into their rooms that frequently.

At any rate, the floor in the family room was briefly more festive than the rest of the house. Which is on a light decoration protocol this year to regular Kitten-Orchestrated Crashes (KOCs) as I mentioned.

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Movie Report: Grumpy Old Men (1993)

Book coverThis film also came out when I was in college (although I guess Don Juan DeMarco was shortly after). I would not have been the target audience back then. No matter how grumpy I was, and I was a curmudgeon before I graduated, this film is about grumpy old men. So although I might have caught glimpses of it on television from time to time in the intervening years, this marks my first viewing of the film now that I’ve grown into closer to being an old man.

In the film, Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau play John and Max, neighbors who live alone next door to each other and who spend their days ice fishing and insulting each other. John’s hiding from the IRS which is about to foreclose on his house. When an attractive English professor played by Ann-Margaret moves in across the street, they both watch her and hope to court her, with John eventually emerging victorious at winning her heart, enraging Max. But John breaks it off when Max learns of John’s debt to the IRS and how he can offer her nothing. During the exchange the two have, we learn that their feud stems from when they were young friends, but John stole Max’s love and married her–a marriage that proved to be unhappy, while Max married another woman and was happy. But they eventually reconcile, partially because their children, played by Daryl Hannah and Kevin Pollak, are attracted to one another.

The film has a great supporting cast, including Burgess Meredith as John’s 94-year-old father and Ossie Davis as the local bait shop owner.

It includes several scenes on a lake while ice fishing, which I would have found helpful for our Trunk or Treat “Trunk” this year where my youngest son and I dressed like we were ice fishing. Because, you see, in years past, the night of Trunk or Treat has been cold, and we’ve been outside for almost three hours in nothing but costumes. So, this year, planning ahead, I lit upon costumes where we could wear coats, hats, and gloves–ice fishing! Unfortunately, the night was so cold that the church ended up moving the event indoors, so we were indoors bundled up for several hours. But I’ve never been ice fishing, so although I had us bundled up, a nice metal bait bucket to use for the candy we were to pass out, ensafened fishing rods, and a flopping fish cat toy, we did not have a ladle to use to dip into the open water and pour it onto the edges of the hole to keep the ice open. I don’t think the Trunk or Treat attendees suffered from the lack of verisimilitude. But we were amongst the most frightening trunks for the little children, who were nonplussed by the monsters and other Halloween things but demurred at the sight of two men with northern accents, one spot-on and the other mixed with Southern and Indian accents, and more likely the squirming fish which looked real until its USB-charged battery gave out.

At any rate, you know, I enjoyed the film more than I enjoy more recent fare. And I’m hoping to find the sequel somewhere. Because when it comes down to the debate our forefathers had and never resolved, between Ann-Margaret and Sophia Loren, I am definitely on Team Sophia.

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We Wish You A Xeria Christmas

So the company for which I work has been naming sprints after bands starting with the letter A at the beginning of the year and then progressing every two weeks. When they asked for an A band, I said Amaranthe, of course, and the product manager running the video meeting played “82nd All The Way” up until the unclean vocals.

Which means my coworkers rock less than I do, but to be honest, they’re mostly not in QA.

I’ve suggested proper bands for every sprint since then, but have only had a few suggestions elected via poll to the sprint name.

When we came to the X sprint, I was at a bit of a loss. I didn’t have any bands in my library that start with X. So I did some research (visited the Encyclopaedia Metallum) and started working through some bands.

I found one, Xeria, from Spain, who sings metal in Spanish. Which is unlike many European metal bands who sing in English.

So I went to their Web site, in Spanish, and ordered their CD Tierra, paying the Value-Added Tax and everything.

It arrived today, cell-wrapped and unsigned, but it did include a couple of postcards. Which maybe are a thing still in Europe. Also unsigned.

Well. Also on my desk were a couple of Christmas cards. We have traditionally hung Christmas cards on our living room walls during Christmas, and I’ve made room and have put up the Christmas cards from the overachievers who mailed their cards in November, and, well….

We will see if anyone notices.

Just to update you on the Santa Claus I put on the mantel the first weekend of November to see how long it would take anyone to notice: Nobody did. No one really spends much time in the living room except me, and I did the Christmas decorating this year as it was limited to unbreakable things since the Three Negritos would look upon all Christmas lights and decorations as cat toys.

We’re not even putting lights on the trees this year. Probably just wrapping them a bit with garland. And planning to spend December cleaning up shiny hairballs from the rug.

And now if anyone sees the Santa Claus, they might think we’ve had him all along.

The Xeria post card, though–that will likely be noticed. Maybe.

UPDATE: Actually, my beautiful wife noticed it almost immediately. Perhaps because the Christmas cards are hung basically at the top of the steps from the lower level.

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Movie Report: Date Movie (2006)

Book coverLast-in, first-out (LIFO) appears to be my film watching philosophy, gentle reader, but that’s partly because the results of my most recent trips to book sales or antique malls end up jumbled atop the cabinets beside my entertainment equipment, so of course I watch them first. This is not holding true for the Marvel movies I have been accumulating for some time now–perhaps I’m going to put them together and watch them in order sometime. But it took me only a couple of days from purchase to watch this film.

I watched Not Another Teen Movie relatively recently, but perhaps before I started doing movie reports, and it was silly but not odious. So I expected something similar from this film, even though apparently it was not from the same people–this is from the people who wrote Scary Movie. Perhaps that was an early 2000s trend, to just give a generic Movie name for a parody. I’ll have to think on whether other unrelated examples exist. With or without National Lampoon Presents above the title.

At any rate, Alyson Hannigan in a fat suit starts out deciding she will not give up and will find a man. So she consults Hitch who gives gets guys a la Pimp My Ride to give her a makeover, and like Nia Vardalos in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, she becomes pretty. Well, she becomes Alyson Hannigan, which is several steps above pretty. She meets the man of her dreams, who has quirky parents (played by Fred Willard, who made every movie he was in better, and Jennifer Coolidge). When they are engaged and planning their wedding, she discovers he wants Andy to be his best man–and Andy is an attractive woman who wants him back. Hijinks ensue.

Amusing in spots, although I am pretty sure I would have written something similar in high school. There are spot hits/gags based on Michael Jackson trying to prey upon a child, a brief spot from the frame of Mr. and Mrs. Smith which I would not have gotten two months ago, a not-necessary-to-the-plot Napoleon Dynamite gag, and just a bunch of other things machine-gunned in. It’s similar to the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker films, but the characters in the film do not play it as though they were in a serious film.

And since Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker have been out of the game for a while now, if anyone is going to make a Samurai Cat movie, it’s these guys. Wait a minute. This movie is almost 20 years old now. Perhaps they, too, are out, and we will never get the Samurai Cat movie we deserve. Because we have been very, very bad.

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Book Report: The Barrabas Kill by Jack Hild (1989)

Book coverNot long after I read The Barrabas Fire, I picked this up, the last volume in the series. I mean, I have only read a handful of them and have not seen them in the wild recently–not that I’ve been looking–so it’s not as satisfying as reading the last of The Executioner novels on my shelves. But it’s a little sad to reach the end, although I have plenty of books in the gaps in my collection if I am so inclined.

At any rate, I had thought that the book would not wrap things up or address the ending of the series as I expected that the books/stories would have been farmed out in such a fashion that the writer would not know this was the end, but I might have been mistaken. In this book, Barrabas wonders whether he’s getting to old or if he’s lost his focus, and he considers retirement. But first, one last job: to reclaim a Soviet scientist who defected but was snatched from a safe house in the Ozarks and whisked away to Scotland by a tech millionaire with communist sympathies who wants to return him to continue work on Icefort, a Soviet space weapon.

Barrabas assembles the remaining elements of his team, and, well, does that thing they do. Set pieces, assaults on heavily defended positions, and finis. In this case, finis finis.

The book was dated whilst it was still on the book stands. It mentions going back and forth across the Berlin Wall, and the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. The collapse of the Soviet bloc must have had a crazy impact on these monthly subscription thrillers with that international flavor. The ones in the actual printing pipeline–what would you do with them? The ones already on spec–do you have them re-written, or do you just pump them out there and hope for the best? Perhaps it explains why non-international thriller series like The Executioner and The Deadlands would continue on for another decade or two.

But this one does feel a bit like the end of an era, which is probably just me retconning my own midlife crisis onto it.

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Movie Report: The Sacketts (1979)

Book coverIt’s been a while since I’ve read Bendigo Shafter, but based on that reading and A Trail of Memories: The Quotations of Louis L’Amour, when I saw this two-videocassette set at the Friends of the Library book sale in April, I picked it up. And given the long Thanksgiving weekend coming up, I figured I could make it through the whole miniseries. To be honest, I was not sure whether it was a major two-night or four-night event when it aired when I was seven years old. The videocassettes themselves said the running time was 198 minutes, but I was not sure whether that was each or total. When I got to the end of the first part, the end titles played, but they used the same stock western footage as the beginning titles, so I thought two episodes per videocassette. But, no, it turns out this was a two night movie event. Maybe it was a couple years before miniseries stretched to four or five nights.

The story is based on two L’Amour novels, The Daybreakers and Sackett featuring basically two stories that tangentally intersect–one can almost see the stitching lines. Sam Elliot plays Tell Sackett who is working in a mining camp when he shoots a card sharp cheating at a camp poker game. He has to leave before the Bigelow brothers come to avenge their brother. He ends up discovering a gold mine and a woman who has been hiding from the Indians who slaughtered her family. Meanwhile, his brothers Orrin (Tom Selleck) and Tyrell (Jeff Osterhage) run from a Tennessee feud, join a cattle drive, gather their own cattle, and then make their way to Santa Fe where Orrin gets elected sheriff just as an Anglo cattle baron (John Vernon) is preparing to square off against the Mexican natives.

The stories continue independently except for a couple crossovers ending in a climactic shootout where the brothers dispatch the Bigelow brothers and their hired hands. The brothers reuinte only after a frantic cable to Santa Fe summons Orrin and Tyrell who ride out and arrive just in time and not tired at all.

I am sure that the books cover most of the threads in greater detail. Orrin’s romance with the cattle baron’s daughter probably encompasses more pages than the couple minutes of screen time we get. One of their friends from the cattle drive and business partner develops a grudge against Orrin that leads to a shootout, but it happens in a couple of short scenes. Tyrell also has a fellow cowpuncher from the cattle drive that for some reason decides he’s an enemy, and they have a near-shootout where Orrin spares but humilates the man; one wonders if he would return later. But if you’re going to make a miniseries out of two whole books, you’re going to chop a lot.

Still, it’s Sam Elliott, Tom Selleck, and Jeff Osterhage as brothers in a western. It worked so well that they later did another L’Amour book together, The Shadow Riders (which I had previously seen). If you’re a fan of the western genre, you could do worse. However, I’m not sure if I’m quite the western fan. After all, the genre often relies on minutes and minutes of stockish footage of men riding horses in Western expanses, rivers, deserts, and so on. I guess my favored genre might be noir as I’ll take black and white shots of dark streets, alleys, and rooms over horses and farms.

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Book Report: Moonbeams and Ashes by Margarite Stever (2021)

Book coverOh, gentle reader. I confused this author with V.J. Schultz, whose book Truth or Dare and Other Tales I read in August. I thought it might be another book by the same author, but it is not. One could perhaps easily make the mistake as both write short stories with a little paranormal twist to them set in southwest Missouri, and the authors undoubtedly know each other as members of the same writing groups in Joplin and attendees of the same book signings (as they were in in July when I bought both books). They’re similar in those regards.

This book collects fifteen stories:

  • “Clean Heist” wherein a woman discovers her boyfriend has stolen several cases of sanitizer for COVID-era profiteering. Quite a product of its time, and easily the most dated story in the bunch. COVID-era concerns dated very quickly, did they not?
  • “Aunt Rose’s Cabin” in which a woman inherits her aunt’s cabin, hidden armory, and a secret that can put several government bad actors away–if she can survive their onslaught.
  • “Gold Grand Prix” wherein a woman walking home after a bad date is picked up by a strangely familiar man in a Grand Prix.
  • “A Bigfoot’s Dreams” wherein a freespirited female Bigfoot rankles against her traditional male counterparts.
  • “Silver’s Curse” wherein a woman is saved from her abusive ex by the werewolf of her dreams.
  • “Aunt Ida” wherein a woman inherits her aunt’s cabin, hidden armory, house and a secret that can put several government bad actors away is keeping Aunt Ida’s ghost from moving on.
  • “Devil Rooster” about a family with a rooster that attacks them until they eat it. To be honest, it started like it might be a more horror story like Cujo or something, but instead it’s a slice of chicken life vignette.
  • “One Foggy Night” wherein a woman has a car accident and is rescued by someone who looks vaguely familiar.
  • “Grandma Dottie’s Secret Recipes” wherein a woman receives a collection of recipes from her disinterested cousin and wins a cooking contest/publishes a cookbook based on the overlooked recipes.
  • “A Terrible Neighbor” wherein a woman detective looking for a missing person visits her neighbor and hears that the missing woman is a terrible neighbor with men coming in and out of her house in what was a respectable neighborhood. But DUN DUN DUH! The respectable neighbor being interviewed is the real terrible neighbor.
  • “Gwen’s Used Books” where a used bookstore owner, upon receiving books from an estate, opens an old book and releases a ghost. Or is it a demon?
  • “Yellow Bicycle” wherein a woman receives a gift of a yellow bicycle from an older neighbor whose son is moving her into assisted living, and the bike comes with a ghost.
  • “Lost Sheep” wherein Little Bo Peep goes looking for her sheep. A modern mash-up of nursery rhymes.
  • “Ashes in the Evening” wherein a woman becomes the victim and protector of a child-sized vampire until she is rescued by the werewolf of her dreams.
  • Runaway Asses” wherein a woman calls the police because of some donkeys in her yard and earns the handsome responding officer’s respect when she steps between them and her little dog.

A little better written than the Schultz stories and a little less formulaically DUN DUN DUN! than Caroline Giammanco’s Into the Night. At 148 pages, definitely a quick read. I am pretty sure this author and Schultz are in some of the same writing groups, so it’s not surprising to see some cross-pollination. Perhaps even with Giammanco.

A pleasant read, not unlike the stuff the other members of Marquette Writers Ink and I would bang out in college. Well, more like I would as topically the other writers in the group were more less interested in genre writing.

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Book Report: Sheriff Without A Badge by James R. Wilder (2021)

Book coverI got this book at ABC Books in June 2021 when it must have been fresh off of the presses. Heaven knows that it had numerous typos in it, but that did not really impair my enjoyment of it. This series–I’ve already read Terror Near Town and Tough Times in Grubville–has rather grown on me.

This book takes place right after the events of Tough Times in Grubville. Chet Harbison has taken the deputy sheriff’s position in Jefferson County, but he gets a field promotion when the current sheriff has a heart attack and can no longer run the department. He stands for election and narrowly defeats a DeSoto barber / county commissioner, but as he learns, politics ain’t beanbag. He has to deal with a near-lynching of a pedophile held in his jail along with attempts to paint him as corrupt.

The book, like the others, is more of a Western in the Louis L’Amour tradition than a mystery, although the cover says they’re “A Harbison Mystery”. You get a fair amount of detail in raising cattle and farming during the Great Depression than a whodunit, but that suits me fine.

As I mentioned, the book has some typos in it, which lead to some false positive ackshuallys on my part. It mentions the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and I verified that the Post-Dispatch papers were combined before the 1930s. It mentions Eagan’s Rats, and I thought, aha! I’ve got you now because I know the St. Louis gang was Egan’s Rats, but apparently the first mention was a typo as the secon mention spells it correctly. There’s a spot where he mentions a quarter mile hike into the woods that might be taxing to an old doctor, and I was going to call that out, but then I recalled when my elderly friend “Roberta” came to Nogglestead, and we went to the Battlefield Park for its Independence Day festival, she had trouble with far less level ground. I am a little less forgiving in him saying that someone is going fishing for perch. Perch, as native Wisconsinites know them, are not found in Missouri. Not walleye, not yellow perch. They have a couple species down here classified as perch, but they’re not really the eating fish we know up north.

Still, I liked the book, the pacing, the style of writing which is more Hemingway than Faulkner (or L’Amour) suit me well. I bought the fourth book in the series last August, and I will probably pick it up before long. And probably before I have to go to ABC Books to buy newer entries in the series.

I’ve also decided to pick up one or more of these books for my brother for Christmas. So don’t tell him if you see him.

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Movie Report: How To Be A Latin Lover (2017)

Book coverWell, after watching Don Juan DeMarco, I thought watching this film (bought in my massive haul in September) would fit in thematically. Well, sorta, but not really.

This is an independent comedy, which means it has a large number of name actors working in what turned out to be an overlooked film. Maximo, a Mexican whose father was a hard worker but who died comically in the intro flashback, decides he wants to be a trophy husband as a career. So he charms and seduces an older widow who visits a resort where he’s working. The bulk of the film takes place twenty-five years later where Maximo, played by Eugenio Derbez (not a recognized name actor here in the U.S.), checks every morning to see if his elderly wife has died. He leads a pampered, spoiled life, but he finds that he has been cuckholded and supplanted by a McLaren dealer (played by Michael Cera). He’s thrown out without a penny. He turns to his fellow trophy husband Rick (played by Rob Lowe), but Rick does not have room to help as he has to satisfy his wife Millicent (Linda Lavin) who likes a lot of role-play sex. So Maximo goes to his estranged sister Sara (Salma Hayek) and moves in with her. When he finds that his niece nephew attends an expensive school on a scholarship, he vows to help the boy win his crush whose grandmother (played by Raquel Welch) is loaded and single. It all goes awry, of course, comically.

So I laughed a couple of times–the Weird Al cameo was unexpected and very welcome.

Did I say Salma Hayek? I did, and not Salma Hayek Paz Vega.
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Movie Report: Don Juan DeMarco (1995)

Book coverI was vaguely aware of this film when it came out. I was just about a year out of college, and either my friend Mike mentioned it, or perhaps the premise reminded me of Mike. But I did not see it in the cinema, nor had I seen it any time before now.

Johnny Depp, fairly fresh from 21 Jump Street, plays Don Juan DeMarco, a man who dresses in black and wears a mask like Zorro. He is a great seducer, but he has decided to end his life. So after one last conquest, he scales a billboard and plans to end it all in a duel with his greatest adversary. However, the responding police send up a psychiatrist played by Marlon Brando who plays along with Don Juan to get him into the bucket of a bucket truck and from thence to a mental hospital on a ten-day hold for evaluation.

Dr. Mickler, Brando’s psychiatrist, goes against the wishes of his colleagues and does not drug DeMarco but instead listens to his fanciful story of his life. The child of an American and a Mexican property owner who falls in love with his tutor but the affair leads to his father’s death in a duel and DeMarco’s running away and his mother’s entering a convent. He then has a variety of adventures told in flashback, including being in the harem of a shiek and then meeting a beautiful woman on a beach after a shipwreck who would go on, after their parting, a centerfold.

The authorities locate his grandmother, who tells a different story. The father died in an automobile accident, which might have been a suicide based on his wife’s affairs, and the mother did enter a convent. The fanciful stories that DeMarco tells have enough touchpoints with the grandmother’s story to introduce some ambiguity as to whether his stories, although fantastic, have some truth to them, or if he is really deluded.

Meanwhile, Mickler is learning from the stories to alter his outlook on life to be more romantic and legendary even in the everyday. This helps him to rekindle his marriage with his wife, played by Faye Dunaway.

So I liked the film more than I expected. Thematically, it questions our every day epistemology and outlook. How do the stories we make of our everyday life make our lives better? How did I save the planet today by defeating the invading mildew in my bathrooms? I guess the movie did not cover the last case explicitly, but it’s implied.

I’m surprised that this film is not more fondly remembered today. Perhaps its fanciful nature limits its Seriousness, so it is not thought of as meaningful as, say, Girl, Interrupted. Which I am not inclined to watch twenty-five years after its release because it was so serious and probably more a product of its time.

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Good Media Hunting, Saturday Wednesday, November 22, 2023: Relics Antique Mall

I received a couple of gift certificates for $25 from my beautiful wife for our anniversary. As I have mentioned, Relics sells gift certificates and not gift cards, they do not give change for the gift certificates so any amount under the face value is lost if you don’t spend it all, and that the gift certificates have very short expiration dates. So I had to spend the certificates in the next month or they’d be lost as one or more others have been in the past. I thought I might be able to pick up a Christmas gift or two for the dwindling number of people for whom I buy gifts, but I came across a copy of White Men Can’t Jump which was on my list of things to look for, and I was off to the races.

I got several movies which will not fit into nor atop my to-watch cabinet:

Titles include:

  • Meet Me In St. Louis. Given that I lived in St. Louis (for, what, twenty years off and on?), you might think I would have already seen it. Oh, but no.
  • White Men Can’t Jump. My wife was surprised that we did not already have this. I, too, have been surprised that we don’t own films which I’ve seen on home video, but back in the old days, we rented an awful lot of them.
  • Rampage, the Rock movie based on a video game. Probably one of many.
  • The Wolverine, the origin story film. We saw it in the cinema, but I am coming to build our DVD collection as well. Although I passed over Deadpool because it was $3 at a booth early in my journey. Had I come across it later, when my calculation changed to I have to make sure to spend the full $50, I would have picked it up. But I did not go back for it.
  • Death Wish, the remake with Bruce Willis. I tried to watch this on Amazon Prime in 2019 but could not (or did not finish it due to annoyance with the service at the time).
  • Grumpy Old Men. Now that I am getting therer, I might appreciate the movie more. Although apparently if I want to see Sophia Loren, I have to get even older until I acquire the sequel.
  • RED. We also saw this in the theater. Man, we went to the theater a bunch in the old days. Now that I am a grumpy old man, I don’t think there’s much in cinemas that I want to see.
  • Titanic. Not the James Cameron one.
  • Ma and Pa Kettle Back on the Farm. These films were huge back in the day, but they didn’t interest me when they were in syndication when I was a kid. Now I live in the Ozarks and perhaps I can appreciate them more.
  • Funny Farm. A Chevy Chase movie I’ve not seen. You’d better believe I’d jump on a $1 copy of Modern Problems.
  • Date Movie, a modern(ish) spoof of date movies from the people behind Scary Movie and, likely, Not Another Teen Movie.
  • District 9.
  • Live Free or Die Hard. Quite the Bruce Willis haul today. I think I have the others. Are there four or five now?
  • Men in Black 3. I was not aware there was a third with Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. Apparently so.
  • Revenge of the Pink Panther. When I reported on Return of the Pink Panther in June, I said:

    I don’t know that I have seen any of the other films or reboots in the wild, but I might pick them up in the future if they’re a buck or so (as this was when I bought it in April).

    This has proven true.

  • Married: With Children: The Complete Second Season. This early Fox comedy was considered crass at the time. We will see how crass it is relative to modern things thirty years later. Also, Christina Applegate.

I also picked up some records. I couldn’t even tell you what I bought!

Which is true, because the bundle above with the twine was sold as ten LPs for $2.95, and I will just now untie it to see what I got. I told the young lady ringing me out about how Mainstream Records in Milwaukee used to cell-wrap ten singles pulled from juke boxes and sell them together, and how I loved to buy them a lot because one never knows when one might find something one liked in them, such as a Prince side project. But I predicted that the bundle was one Percy Faith record and nine copies of Bob and Thelma Sing The Lord’s Glory

Well, I know I got:

  • When Lights Are Low by the George Shearing Quintet. I paid $5 for it which is a bit outside my normal price range, but I like George Shearing.
  • A Jean Pierre Rampal/Robert Veyron Lacroix collection of classical works. It was only $1 at the same booth as the Shearing record, so I was able to tell myself that I only paid $3 per record between the two of them.
  • 30 Trumpet Favorites by Jim Collier. It was $4 at that booth, so the amortizing was not going so well. But I was looking to make sure that I spent the $50. Actually, more than $50, as I did not want to get to the checkout and find that one of the booths was 20% off so I only spent $46.87. Something similar has happened once or twice. So some of the records I bought were more expensive than I’d normally spend. Well, now. In a couple of years, they’ll all be expensive.
  • Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsodies by Balint Vazsonyi. I remember mention of them from the lecture On Great Master Liszt: His Life and Music.
  • Sinatra’s Swingin’ Session. I will mention this record was only $3.50. Which is odd as anything remotely noteworthy tends to go for $7 to $20 in some booths.
  • 52nd Street by Billy Joel. I might have had this another time, another place–in college, when I had a record player and bought some Billy Joel at Recordhead in Milwaukee when they were cheap as people were switching to cassettes for their musical libraries. It might have been one of my records that actually sold at one of my mother’s garage sales. I paid $7.50 here for it. It helped to put me over the top. And, coincidentally, “Zanzibar” from this record played on WSIE while I’ve been typing this post.
  • I’ve Gotta Be Me by Sammy Davis, Jr. A lot of relatively inexpensive Rat Pack to be had. Although I had a little difficulty remembering this afternoon all five of the major members of the 60s Rat Pack until now.
  • By Moonlight by Wayne King. A saxophonist I’m not sure I’ve heard of.
  • Bill Pearce Trombone. A collection of gospel songs on trombone, I reckon. Actually, all I saw was trombone at the antique mall, but it is on A&M’s Word records, and I looked at the back, and it is. So I will play it tomorrow morning.
  • Swingin’ by Dean Martin. I think I have it already, but, if so, then now I have two.

All right, now for the unveiling of the bundle. It included:

  • Malaguena: Music of Cuba by Percy Faith and his Orchestra. It was inevitable that I would someday begin to collect his work as well. This one came with bonus discs.
  • Solisti di Zagreb, a collection of classical string material conducted by Antonio Janigro.
  • Mozarto Concertos 21 and 23 conducted by Alfred Wallenstein.
  • Elman Jubilee Record by Mischa Elman, violinist.
  • Buxtehude Organ Music by Walkter Kraft. A collection of preludes and fugues for organ.
  • Dream Along with the Singing Strings, a collection of string songs with “Dream” in the title.
  • Dream-Time Waltzes by Reg Owen conducting the Vienna State Opera Orchestra.
  • Stadivari Strings Sampler, a sampler disc of some line’s string records.
  • Pop Concert Favorites by the Morton Gould Orchestra.
  • Sweet Voices of Inspiration, a Longines Symphonette Recording Society platter of choir songs.

Holy cats, did I luck out. I thought it would be a collection of the family gospel group records that sellers cannot give away. Instead, it’s not far off of things that I would maybe buy at the Friends of the Library book sales on half price day. Except fewer Pretty Women on Covers (PWoC). I laughed out loud in relief and joy.

So, at any rate, although every booth seemed to have a sale going running up to the holidays, I managed to go over the gift certificates by about $15. Still, a respectable haul for that amount.

Of the films, I am most likely to watch White Men Can’t Jump first (it is the one I was keeping an eye out for). As to which record I will listen to first, c’mon, man, it’s the Shearing record, ainna? I shall go listen to this presently as I start baking pies for tomorrow.

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