Sunday, July 09, 2006

Feels like we've moved to Seattle

It has rained approximately 935 days in a row here. Thunder, disrupted satellite reception, the whole bit. The good part of this is the temperature has stayed in the 80s for the most part. Normally July is boiling hot, but it's practically springlike this year. This is scary because Houston only understands "Spring" as an abstract concept, or a suburb just to the north of town. We usually have two seasons: hot, and that week when you need a jacket. So this is weird.

Other than one day where the east side of town got a huge amount of rain in a few hours, we haven't had a lot of flooding problems. I imagine the ground is getting pretty saturated though, so if we get a nasty hurricane or a tropical storm, or just the fallout from the edges of one, it could cause a lot of trouble. Everything's nice and green outside though, so as long as we don't have any cataclysms things are okay.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Plague! PLAGUE!

This article from freaked me right out. Apparently you can still get bubonic plague, even if you live in Los Angeles, so make sure to keep the flea population in your home under control!

Ooh! I think I just figured out what the next season of 24 can be about!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Movie Binge

We haven't been hitting the video store as often lately as we were last summer, mostly because work, the current TV season, and life in general have kept us busy. Maybe I'll have a chance to blog about how I was out of town four weekends in a row, but maybe not. Like I said, I've been otherwise occupied.

Anyway, this past weekend we rented a whole pile of movies. This was on the heels of a trip to the theater to see Slither, which was a good time. After the movie we went to our favorite Hollywood Video location and rented the following:

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966): I had never seen this one, but my husband had been a fan of it for years. He misspent more of his youth on musical theater than I did, which is impressive. It's a fun movie, bawdy and energetic, but ultimately everyone is happy and goes home with their own wife and/or freedom from slavery. And I had no idea it featured an elderly Buster Keaton!

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005): I'd heard good things about it, and am happy to report that it's a nice movie and I'd be happy to have my future children see it one day. There's so much crap aimed at "tweeners" and teens today, but this managed to be sweet and touching without being really stupid and saccharin. It gets bonus points for having Bradley Whitford from The West Wing in a supporting role as one of the girls' father.

Making Love (1982): This is a movie that's better for what it tried to be than what it actually is, but I still enjoyed watching it. It stars three people who I mostly know from TV: Harry Hamlin (right after Clash of the Titans, before L.A. Law and waaaay before Veronica Mars), Michael Ontkean (after Slap Shot, but well before Twin Peaks -- in fact, this role probably dented his career for awhile) and Kate Jackson (after Charlie's Angels, before Scarecrow & Mrs. King). The plot can be summed up quickly: a married doctor (Ontkean) figures out he's gay and has an affair with a hot commitment-phobic writer (Hamlin), eventually ending his marriage (to Jackson). It has occasional terrible dialogue that belongs in a play written by someone very earnest and younger than 20, and oversimplifies a lot of things, but it was a noble effort. There weren't a whole lot of mainstream movies featuring dudes making out in 1982, and even fewer that showed it in a positive light or treated the characters as people.

Longtime Companion (1990): I guess I went on a gay cinema kick when Brokeback Mountain was released on DVD last week. I bought it, but still haven't watched the movie. I know I'm going to cry buckets over it whenever I do, just like I did watching Longtime Companion. This was one of the first films to deal with the AIDS epidemic, showing its effect on a group of gay men in New York during the 1980s. The film hit me harder than I expected, but it brought back a lot of hard memories from the year I spent volunteering in a local AIDS hospice while I was in college. A solid movie, and not as awkward and simplistic as Philadelphia was a few years later.

Good Night and Good Luck (2005): I was surprised at how little of the story I knew, specific to Murrow. Very nicely directed, and crammed with actors I recognize from TV. Ray Wise from Twin Peaks and 24, Reed Diamond from Homicide and The Shield, Aaron the Secret Serice Guy from 24, and several others. There's nothing I can say about this movie that hasn't been expressed better and recently in reviews, except that George Clooney is my secret boyfriend. Don't tell anybody.

There were two more films rented, but I'm saving them for another post.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Brisco County on DVD July 18th!

Crossposted from my MySpace blog:

Finally, finally, finally, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. is being released on DVD July 18th. If you never saw the show, you're a heathen. Bruce Campbell stars as Brisco County, lawyer-turned-bounty hunter in the waning days of the Old West. It's a sci-fi western comedy drama featuring a colorful cast of supporting characters. Really colorful. Seriously, one time Timothy Leary had a small part. DVD details are available here. The set's suggested retail price is $99.98, which sounds a little steep, but it's an eight-disc set containing the two-hour pilot and all 26 regular hour-long episodes.

I have the whole series on VHS due to my laboriously taping it off TNT when it used to run at about 5 AM Saturday several years ago, but it will be nice to have the whole run commercial-free, crisp and clear, and with all the extra features.

If you see the show for the first time on DVD, you may find the theme music familiar. That's because NBC appropriated it for their Olympic telecasts several years ago, so if you watched the Olympics you heard it thousands of times as they came back from commercial breaks.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Snakes on an R-rated Plane!

The producers of Snakes on a Plane are smart people. From a Hollywood Reporter article (warning: adult language to follow!):

...the studio decided to create new scenes that would take the movie from PG-13 into R-rated territory.

The second round of filming also came about because of intense and growing fan interest in the movie, which was directed by David R. Ellis and is not scheduled to be released until Aug. 18.


...Chris Rohan of Bethesda, Md., created an elaborate, R-rated audio trailer that lovingly mocks the title and movie. "It's a genius title," Rohan said. "It's so stupid it's great. It invites satire, but it's something you just love. It's something I can't explain. You either get it or you don't."

The audio bit uses a Jackson sound-alike shouting, "I want these motherfucking snakes off the motherfucking plane!" Soon, the growing legion of fans added their voices as they demanded that that phrase also appear in the movie.

Apparently, the studio got the hint. When Ellis assembled Jackson and others for the recent shoot, the filmmakers added more gore, more death, more nudity, more snakes and more death scenes. And they shot a scene where Jackson does utter the line that fans have demanded.

Those involved with the film said the reshoots weren't prompted by fans but rather by the existing footage that already was a hairline into R territory. Within the studio, the thinking was, "We're already going to get an R, why not go all the way?" But the filmmakers do concede that the Jackson line will be in the movie for the sake of the fans.


I saw this article on the Houston Chronicle's site this morning. The headline was "Priest who worked in Houston faces child porn charges." Of course I had to read the story out of morbid curiosity so I know whether it's about one of the two or three ultra-creepy priests I knew as a teenager. Not that way, ew. But there was this one in particular who used to sleazily flirt with the women in our church choir, including me. And I was 15 at the time. Ick. Anyway, this article wasn't about him, which is good. What's giving me the creeps is the guy worked as a degree auditor at my alma mater, the University of St. Thomas, during and after my senior year. I realize his proximity to places I've been is irrelevant, and I'm glad the Church has labeled child porn "intrinsically evil", but this whole thing is just so, so awful. This guy isn't accused of molesting any kids himself, but he is accused of having kiddie porn on his computer. So parents, if you feel compelled to take your kids to church (any denomination, not just Catholic), make sure they never, ever leave your sight.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Weekend trip

Last night I got back from my weekend trip to the thunderstorm-beset Dallas/Ft. Worth area, where I visited Meredith and her family. I had a good time, despite Saturday night's crippling headache and the fact that much of the drive there and back qualified as a near-death experience.

We went to try out for a new VH-1 game show called The World Series of Pop Culture, but the non-disclosure agreement we had to sign prevents me from telling much about it. We took a written test and did well; in fact, our team was the only one from our sitting that passed. There's more to being selected for the show than just merit, apparently, as we still weren't selected to go to the next round. We were relatively sedate and acted like adults, which was probably the death knell for our team. Maybe if we'd been all coked up we'd be VH-1 material! We still had fun, which is what's important.

Sunday before I left, we went to Razzoo's for lunch. I'd never been there before, but Razzoo's is a Texas-based chain of cajun-themed restaurants. It's similar to a Joe's Crab Shack, only without your waitstaff not bringing you a refill because they're too busy singing and dancing. Eating spicy food in cold and wet weather is always good, and I'm tempted to hit the Razzoo's down the road from my office for another helping of Rat Toes, which are battered, fried jalapenos stuffed with shrimp and crab. Spicy and delicious. Yum!

Cakes on a plate

Found this photo at the appropriate LiveJournal community. I want to serve this at my next party.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Roger Ebert is a funny man

I read Roger Ebert's movie reviews every week. I don't always agree with his assessment of a film, but he's a good writer and has forgotten more about film than most people will ever learn in the first place. He's also really funny, and he had a couple of lines that cracked me up in this morning's batch of reviews.

From his review of Final Destination 3, which includes some discussion of the teen horror genre in general:

There must be dozens of films in this genre. At Sundance 2006 there was at least a positive development in "Wristcutters," when the characters discover that after you kill yourself, the world is pretty much the same as it was before, except grungy, poverty-stricken and depressing. In "Wristcutters 2," they should have a Third World suicide victim who finds the afterlife an improvement and thinks he is in heaven.

But the real zinger for me came in the Curious George review. My reaction is mostly due to my personal experience of childhood and my subsequent failure to be impressed with my parents' parenting skills:

...I know what 4-year-olds think, because I was one, an expert one, and I believe that up to a certain age all children enjoy more or less the same things: Bright colors, vivid drawings, encouraging music, a plot that is exciting but not too scary, and a character they can identify with. This character should have an older friend who guides him through neat adventures and keeps things from getting too scary. If that doesn't describe what you liked when you were 3 or 4, then I blame your parents, Mr. and Mrs. Chainsaw.

Betcha didn't know my maiden name was Annie Chainsaw!

Ken's new look

MSNBC carried a story on Ken's new look. You know, the former Mr. Barbie? He looks a little like Paul Walker of post-before-this-one fame, but he looks a LOT like Dick Casablancas from Veronica Mars. Stay away, Barbie. Stay far, far away.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Jean-Paul Belmondo of the New Preposterousness

The Austin Chronicle has a funny article on Paul Walker, star of many goofball B-movies like The Fast and the Furious and Into the Blue. A brief excerpt:

Characterized by vacant eyes, cheerfully bewildered mien, and a distinctly floppy carriage, tripping and bounding about the frame in a uniform of skater T-shirts and cargo shorts, the Paul Walker presence (at zenith in 2 Fast 2 Furious and nadir in Timeline) becomes the ultimate expression of the style through subversion so total as to push beyond any imaginable absurdity. Because no matter how slaphappy the narrative or psychotic the montage, nothing trumps the fugue state induced by seeing a badass action hero as played by a golden retriever puppy.

I haven't given huge amounts of thought to Paul Walker, but it's true that his presence in a movie is shorthand for "this movie is not precisely 'good', but it's probably fun with beer".

Thursday, February 02, 2006

No more telegrams STOP

As of January 27th, Western Union has discontinued its telegram service. Here's the official announcement on their website. It's been a dying technology for decades, but I guess email finally killed it.

I have never sent or received a telegram, and now I guess I never will. Then again, I've never owned a girdle either. Did you ever send a telegram? Receive one?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


My great-aunt Joan sent my parents some photos of my Grandma Jerry, who died in 1980. I was only four then so I didn't get to know her very well, but I've always been told that I take after her a lot and that there was a lot of physical resemblance. One of the photos Aunt Joan sent was a newspaper clipping from 1941 of my grandmother's nursing school class. I haven't seen too many pictures of her when she was that age (about 20 in this photo), but I recognized her immediately when I saw the photo, even though she was in a group of 16 young nursing students in identical uniforms (and holding candles for some reason). I compared it to one of my wedding photos, where I'm heavier than her but wearing a similar expression. Yeah, she's definitely related to me. Can you see it, or is it just me?

Thursday, January 19, 2006


I got tagged by Meredith. Here are my answers:

Four jobs you have had in your life:
-- Mad Scientist
-- Assistant Manager of a Movie Theater
-- Clerk in a Comic Book Shop
-- Marketing/Communications Assistant

Four movies you could watch over and over:
-- Dogma
-- Ferris Bueller's Day Off
-- Dazed & Confused
-- From Dusk Till Dawn

Four places you've lived:
-- Austin
-- Houston
-- San Angelo
-- Reading, England (for a summer) <-- this was Meredith's answer, but the same goes for me. I lived down the hall!

Four TV shows you love to watch:
-- Veronica Mars
-- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
-- Good Eats
-- Justice League Unlimited

Four places you've been on vacation:
-- England
-- Scotland
-- Colorado
-- The Bahamas

Four of your favorite foods:
-- The Elvis Presley Memorial Platter at Chuy's (3 enchiladas, crispy beef taco, rice & beans, and most importantly jalapeno ranch dip)
-- Chicken Parmigiana
-- Boneless Shanghai Wings at Chili's
-- Steak grilled by my father-in-law, the best steak on Earth

Four websites you visit daily:
-- IMDb (usually to answer a nagging question late at night)
-- Cute Overload
-- CNN

Four bloggers you are tagging:
-- Mark Cuban
-- Dave Barry
-- Kevin Smith
-- Robert X. Cringely

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

My Hometown

I found this hilarious and sadly accurate blog post by Richard Lawrence Cohen, a traveler passing through my hometown, San Angelo, Texas. Scroll about halfway down the post until you get to this sentence:

"San Angelo looks like the set of the beginning of a slasher movie, before anything has happened or anyone suspects."

He talks about the unfriendly shopkeepers in the downtown area, which is a bizarre concept to me. When I lived there, there wasn't anything downtown. When the mall opened near the more affluent side of town, all the stores moved there and the downtown area (which is maybe 10 minutes' drive from the mall) quickly came to resemble Springsteen lyrics.

The blogger's summary:

"The guidebook says that San Angelo is much more livable than Midland, Odessa, Wichita Falls, or Abilene, because of its diversified, non–oil–based economy. The awful thing is, I believe it."

Zing! And also true. Take that, Abilene, with your fancy zoo and smug newscasters and the only NBC affiliate that serves the San Angelo area, which has no ABC affiliate at all unless you have cable or satellite!

My aunt worked as a waitress at the Mexican restaurant mentioned in the article. As one of approximately three Texans who doesn't speak Spanish, I didn't know what the name meant until just now.

The saddest part is, I'd jump at the chance to visit San Angelo again if I didn't have to drive seven hours to get there. I'd have a corn dog at Der Wienerschnitzel and walk around my old elementary school, and play at the park across the street from my old house. Surely the death trap play equipment has been replaced by safer stuff now, right?

A funny bit from McSweeney's

A Selection from George W. Bush's Eavesdropping Tapes: Matthew Barney and Bjork Place an Ikea Phone Order.

I hope some flunky at the NSA isn't forced to listen to my phone conversations. I'm bored by most of them.

Who do you call if this happens?

Firemen's party ends in blaze. At least no one was injured.

Once I toured a fire station in elementary school, and one of my classmates asked whether the station had ever had a fire. The fireman said no, but that the smoke detector in the station's kitchen went off frequently due to the lack of cooking skills among some of the fire fighters. I think of that every time I accidentally set off the alarm in my kitchen.