Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Quote of the Day

"You know, I don't think I could take a mellow evening because I - I don't respond well to mellow. You know what I mean? I have a tendency to - if I get too mellow, I - I ripen and then rot, you know."

Woody Allen as Alvy Singer in Annie Hall (1977).

Hard to pick a single line from such a juicy script. This film is 30 years old. GULP.

The Following Post Contains Language that Some Readers Might Find Objectionable

I love cooking shows, no two ways about it. But the shows I'm drawn to more and more are not the Food Network ones, but those homey PBS ones, with quiet hosts who don't seem entirely at home in front of the camera, who are obviously fine chefs, with soft voices. They're full of wisdom and great cooking tips and have no special theme tunes, soundtracks, crazy camera angles or personalities that get in the way of the food. Like the sort of waiters I like: informative, there, but not in your face.

Begone huge personality chefs! I'm tired of you! I'm tired of being warned that the following cooking program contains language that some viewers might find objectionable. This is a cooking show you morons! FUCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Poem of the Day

Sonnet 61

Is it thy will, thy image should keep open
My heavy eyelids to the weary night?
Dost thou desire my slumbers should be broken,
While shadows like to thee do mock my sight?

Is it thy spirit that thou send'st from thee
So far from home into my deeds to pry,
To find out shames and idle hours in me,
The scope and tenure of thy jealousy?

O no, thy love though much, is not so great,
It is my love that keeps mine eye awake,
Mine own true love that doth my rest defeat,
To play the watchman ever for thy sake.

For thee watch I, whilst thou dost wake elsewhere,
From me far off, with others all too near.

William Shakespeare

Quote of the Day

"How do I define history? Well it's just one fucking thing after another."

Russell Tovey as Rudge in The History Boys (2006).

Smiling in a Dopey Fashion

My post was going to be titled "Smiling Dopily" but then I thought, I'm not sure that I've spelt "dopily" right. Dopeily? Dopily? This is what happens when you look too hard at a word. It just looks odd anyway you spell it.

I'm smiling in a dopey way because I have just had a few days off work after a long stretch of stupidly-long days. And it feels so good!

But now for some updates:

First up is The Breakup (2006). A whole lot of talent gone to waste on a film that doesn't know what it wants to be when - if - it ever grows up. SPOILER ALERT: So, pre-credits, we have Vince Vaughn not at his funniest, attempting to pick up Jennifer Aniston, doing what she does least effectively, which is to be kind of uptight and unfriendly. During the credits, they turn into the sort of annoying people who have to photograph every social event they partake in and document thusly their process of falling in love. Post-credits they have moved into their gorgeous condo and are throwing their first meet-the-families dinner party.

BUCKET OF COLD WATER ALERT: OMG! Vince has turned out to be Neanderthal man #1 and refuses to help Jennifer do anything as he spends every waking minute playing video games. OMG! Jennifer has turned into a shrewish, misunderstood home-maker who collects injustices like they are going out of style and just wants Vince to want to be the man she wants him to be.

At no point in this movie do you understand how or why these people got together. At no point is there a shred of evidence to show they were ever attracted to each other on any level or enjoyed each other's company, other than the strained collection of opening credit photography.

HEAPS O' TALENT GONE TO WASTE: Judy Davis as Jennifer's art-gallery boss, a character who deserves a movie all her own - what an actress! Vincent D'Onofrio as Vince's earnest older brother, wonderful except for a weird moment where you think they might have been cracking up each time they tried the scene... he seriously looks like he's about to start laughing right when he shouldn't. Justin Long as the art gallery receptionist - almost unrecognizeable with a dreadful hairdo but I always love him. Two words: Ann Margaret! And finally, the surprise of the night: Peter Billingsley all grown up from A Christmas Story (1983) as Jennifer's brother-in-law. You can see Ralphie in him, but he's playing a dad now. A Christmas Story is so timeless I forget it was made over 20 years ago.

Things got way better with Breach (2006), with Chris Cooper as real-life renegade FBI spy Robert Hanssen, Ryan Phillippe as the FBI man who helped to bring him down, and Laura Linney as an FBI special agent who masterminds the bring-down. The cast is rounded out by such great actors as Kathleen Quinlan, Dennis Haysbert and Bruce Davison. It's earnest and surprising, and only predictable in that the wonderful Chris Cooper manages to be completely wonderful. I will see any movie with this man in it. In fact, after a conversation about him, we decided the next movie to see (DVD conveniently always at hand) would be Lone Star (1996)... one of my top eleven movies of all time, as you know. We watched it, yet again, and yet again I got more out of it, noted some new subtlety. When a script is this dense, and this rich, and this true to every character, it never fails to teach you something. It's like Hamlet for crying out loud! John Sayles is a film god.

The History Boys (2006) is based on Alan Bennett's Tony-award winning play, set in 1983, about a small group of English school boys being groomed by a trio of teachers to be accepted into Oxford or Cambridge. The film is directed by Nicholas Hytner and the script is adapted by Alan Bennett himself. The actors are perfectly cast: Richard Griffiths as Hector, a lonely, married homosexual whose passion for learning and teaching is so eloquently expressed. There is so much to discuss here just about one character. Frances de la Tour is Mrs. Lintott, another devoted teacher, which leaves me gasping with the question: where were these teachers when I was growing up? I seem to recall an endless line of burnt-out, embittered child-loathing, original-thought despising old farts. Stephen Campbell-Moore is perfect as Irwin, the younger teacher brought in by the ambitious headmaster to put the finishing polish on the boys as they prep for the entrance exams and interviews. He is exasperatingly and perfectly wishy-washy. All the actors, including the excellent young guys who play the students, played the same roles on stage at the National Theatre in London. I don't know the path by which it came to NY, but I gather that both Griffiths and de la Tour won Tonys for their performances there. What an opportunity... to play those roles on stage, then to film them. And what performances you get then, when actors have lived with those characters for so long. It's a rich experience.

I celebrated the slight drop of temperature this weekend by making some chocolate chip cookies using the Callebaut chips. Someone help me! HELP ME!!! Can't... stop... eating... It's soup season too, so made heaps of chicken stock in preparation for the soups to come. The fridge and freezer are stocked and ready. And now I have some free evenings to bash and crash about in the kitchen. Not food-related, but have to report that instead of cut flowers this week, I bought a sheaf (I guess) of wheat and stuck it in two vases. My place is now redolent of a barn full of hay (and no other smells thank goodness). Just lovely hay. It's quite fragrant and surprising.

On the long-time recommendation of L and J, I have finally taken to reading The Golden Compass, (known in the UK as Northern Lights) which has been made into a movie. This is just part one of three. It's already infiltrated my imagination and Lyra is a wonderful young heroine. I'm just a third of my way into the book and it has proved a powerful distraction from knitting, hee hee. I suspect I shall be buying the other two parts of the complete trilogy before the week is out.

Mad Men finally ended it's 13-episode run. It's such good television in all respects - production values, casting, writing, acting, editing, music - it seems flawless. I can't wait for season two which - I believe - will be aired next summer. The last episode was a great finale, with more of the now-expected twists that turn any possible cliche into a surprise.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Quote of the Day

"We were born thousands of miles apart, but we were made for each other."

David Niven as Peter Carter in A Matter of Life and Death (1946).

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Early to Bed on a Saturday Night... This too will Change ere long

Well done boys. World champions four years ago, and second place this time. First again in four years.

So busy of late, I've not really cooked anything for myself. I've taken solace in the brand of Amy's Organics. The cream of tomato soup and the cream of mushroom soup are very yummy. My recycling bag has more cans in it than I care to admit to. Tonight I had a bowl of vegetarian chile with some cheddar cheese grated on top and a pint of Guinness. That's two more cans for the recycling. Gor blimey. And me, so proud to do things from scratch usually.

Anyway, my late dinner was very comforting, especially in light of the rugby. Off to bed early as I worked a long day and will work again tomorrow.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Quote of the Day

"You smell like a real man."

Jean Simmons as Sister Sharon to Burt Lancaster as the title role of Elmer Gantry (1960).

I finally saw this movie on PBS tonight, after reading about it for years. It tells the story of Elmer Gantry, a fast-talking, self-indulgent salesman who becomes a revival preacher in the 1920s. I was spellbound from the first moment. Burt Lancaster is his usual brilliant self: magnetic, larger-than-life, with such range, such manly grace, and able to successfully play the role of an irresistible rotter, a truly likeable rogue. I think Shirley Jones won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as the hooker Lulu Baines. I'd had no idea Jean Simmons was in it at all and she was wonderful as Sharon Falconer.

And yes, I finished the first scarf.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

What the ~ ?!

How did it get to October 16 and I have half a scarf knitted for Christmas???? What in Sam Hill is going on? I have one and a half scarves to go and I have... just over two months!!! All I have done is work the last little while and this is what happens! My favourite time of the year (Christmas) is jeopardized! ARGH!

OK OK OK. No panicking. Here's the deal. I get to post no more blogs until I have finished at least one scarf. That's it. I mean it. Seriously.

And by the way, all I've ever knitted is scarves. That's as far as I got. Scarves!

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Yes, it's a cold one tonight. Got the DVD fireplace going... nice and toasty now. Heh heh heh.

Ahhh... the power of suggestion. I am so susceptible. A waggish friend of mine declared that my X-Men name should be "Sway" and my nemesis would be Dr. Convince-o.

Hmmmm... okay!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Our Boys Through to the Finals!


(Fawh fawh fawh... you know who I'm talking to!)


14 - 9

........................... THUD

Five Minutes to Go! England in Lead...

11 - 9

Where are my salts????

World Cup Semi-Final in Paris!

At half time:
England 5
France 6

I'm not worried.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Quote of the Day

"Until I met you I never knew anyone who challenged enough of the real heart and mind of me..."

Clare Booth Luce to Henry Luce

She also posed a questionnaire to him, her future husband, and he carried off his answers with great aplomb:

Q: If your lady suddenly takes it into her head to elope with a belted earl or an Egyptologist, will you pursue her with a poker and knock her gently on the head and nurse her tenderly until she comes to her senses?
A: Am not quite so dumb as to answer this one - let the lady take her own chance of being left with her goddamned earl.

Q: Are you prepared to leave your lady a small inviolate section of her life concerning which you must ask no questions and will you be intelligent and foresighted enough to do the same?
A: Yes - but you help me to this wisdom.

Q: Are you prepared for the worst?
A: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Quote of the Day

"Do you want to dance? Or do you want to DANCE?"

Pierce Brosnan as Thomas Crown in The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)

Monday, October 8, 2007

Music and Driving

I spent the day listening to a mixture of music... J. J. Cale and John Lee Hooker gave way to the Clash, courtesy of Brand New Cadillac (first recorded in 1958). The title of the song got me thinking about the music I like to drive to. "Drive" is the word. This music has to have a powerful beat and a sense of movement and forward motion. Or... it's just about driving.

I love driving, the sense of escape, the zen effect of concentration. And I love driving alone. I remember one fall night driving back from up north where I had done some work... it was very late, the streets were empty, fields on either side of me, the window wound down. I was probably going way too fast, but I felt like I was flying, like I was in a little space ship. I love to take off sometimes, just head off, no idea where I'm going. I let the day take me. I know I'll find my way back, with or without a map.

Pretty much all of London Calling and all of my Bond theme songs CD are great to drive to (barring the obvious must-misses like A View to a Kill, Tomorrow Never Dies and Die Another Day - ugh.) But that made me sift through my music and my driving playlists. Many of them are just about a journey to a yearned-for lover, and so here are JUST A FEW of my favourite driving tracks, with - on occasion - the lyrics, and in no particular order. More playlists another time.

Brand New Cadillac
As performed by the Clash.

Cover Me
As emotional to my ears as it was when I first heard it in my 20s.

Bring me to Life
By Evanescence. This one is good at keeping me awake, let alone bringing me to life.

Go Your own Way
This song has stayed with me for... well, for decades now. From Fleetwood Mac's Rumours album... I had it on vinyl, then on tape, now on CD.

Run to You
Recorded by Bryan Adams. Okay, so he's not driving, he's running... but the movement is apparent. :)

Boys of Summer
I love everything the Eagles did, and this one by Don Henley on his own.

Hollywood Nights
Another one that wakes me up. Now I've given up caffeine, I just drink my decaff tea scalding hot as I'm driving... definitely keeps me on my toes, as it were. I can't believe I missed the Silver Bullet Band last January when they hit town for the first time in about a decade. Kicked myself hard for that as I have yet to hear them live.

Live and Let Die
Fine when driving through Death Valley (no cops, no habitation, no other cars, no nothing). Not good elsewhere, as the speedometer creeps up.

License to Kill
How many geezers does it take to write a damn song? Another great Bond song.

My Love Is
Performed by Little Willie John. Used as a driving song in the movie Lone Star, and now used by me.

99 Miles from LA
(H. David/A. Hammond)
This was sung by Art Garfunkel in the version I know. I've not got it out of my head since I was a kid.

Keeping my eyes on the road, I see you
Keeping my hands on the wheel, I hold you
99 miles from L.A.
I kiss you, I miss you, please be there

Passing a white sandy beach, we're sailing
Turning the radio on, we're dancing
99 miles from L.A.
I want you, I need you, please be there

The windshield is covered with rain, I'm crying
Pressing my foot on the gas, I'm flying
Counting the telephone poles, I phone you
Reading the signs on the road, I write you
99 miles from L.A.
We're laughing, we're loving, please be there

The windshield is covered with rain, I'm crying
Pressing my foot on the gas, I'm flying
Counting the telephone poles, I phone you
Reading the signs on the road, I write you
99 miles from L.A.
We're laughing, we're loving, please be there

I Drove all Night
(B. Steinberg/Tom Kelly)
I loved this song first time I heard it recorded by the late Roy Orbison. Celine Dion later did a dancey version of it but my favourite by far is the recording by Cyndi Lauper. One of my favourite songs... ever.

I had to escape
The city was sticky and cruel
Maybe I should have called you first
But I was dying to get to you
I was dreaming while I drove
The long straight road ahead, uh, huh

Could taste your sweet kisses
Your arms open wide
This fever for you is just burning me up inside

I drove all night to get to you
Is that alright
I drove all night
Crept in your room
Woke you from your sleep
To make love to you
Is that alright
I drove all night

What in this world
Keeps us from tearing apart
No matter where I go I hear
The beating of our one heart
I think about you
When the night is cold and dark
No one can move me
The way that you do
Nothing erases the feeling between me and you

I drove all night to get to you
Is that alright
I drove all night
Crept in your room
Woke you from your sleep
To make love to you
Is that alright
I drove all night

Could taste your sweet kisses
Your arms open wide
This fever for you is just burning me up inside

I drove all night to get to you
Is that alright
I drove all night
Crept in your room
Is that alright
I drove all night
I drove all night to get to you
Is that alright

I drove all night
Crept in your room
Woke you from your sleep

Where No One Knows Me

(Jann Arden Richards/Russell Broom)
I love the words to this.

Born to be Wild
(Mars Bonfire)
Pirelli did a great campaign using Steppenwolf's version in the 80s. Fantastic photography and fantastic music.

Born to Run
(B. Springsteen)
I still have the vinyl LP... carefully taken care of as I was very much a music nerd in my 2os. Now just a nerd.

In the day we sweat it out in the streets of a runaway American dream
At night we ride through mansions of glory in suicide machines
Sprung from cages out on highway 9,
Chrome wheeled, fuel injected
and steppin' out over the line
Baby this town rips the bones from your back
It's a death trap, it's a suicide rap
We gotta get out while we're young
'Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run

Wendy let me in I wanna be your friend
I want to guard your dreams and visions
Just wrap your legs 'round these velvet rims
and strap your hands across my engines
Together we could break this trap
We'll run till we drop, baby we'll never go back
Will you walk with me out on the wire
'Cause baby I'm just a scared and lonely rider
But I gotta find out how it feels
I want to know if love is wild
girl I want to know if love is real

Beyond the Palace hemi-powered drones scream down the boulevard
The girls comb their hair in rearview mirrors
And the boys try to look so hard
The amusement park rises bold and stark
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist
I wanna die with you Wendy on the streets tonight
In an everlasting kiss

The highway's jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive
Everybody's out on the run tonight
but there's no place left to hide
Together Wendy we'll live with the sadness
I'll love you with all the madness in my soul
Someday girl I don't know when

we're gonna get to that place
Where we really want to go
and we'll walk in the sun
But till then tramps like us
baby we were born to run


Then I needed a change, a real change. Like a sorbet to cleanse the palate. I watched the leaves falling and listened to Ella Fitzgerald singing "Moonlight in Vermont." Sigh... I love Vermont. I love Fall. I'm so happy the weather is cooling off to normal-for-the-time-of-year temperatures.

Twit of the Wild Frontier

Wot a twit!

I wondered why I felt a bit overcome by heat today. Thought I might be feverish. No... it's just the unseasonably hot Thanksgiving weather. Humidex of 39 degrees today. (That's 102 F for you Mmrcans.)

Blimey! Note to self: check forecast yeh great eedgit before heading out again. I have a bad habit of not doing that. So on a sunny January day, I'll look out the window and say, "Why, that looks lovely out there," forgetting that sunny winter days are usually bloody cold. By the time I've lost use of my extremities, half way down the road, I'm thinking... yeah... twit of the wild frontier.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Top Ten Reasons to be Grateful This Thanksgiving

10. My family and friends
9. My family and friends
8. My family and friends
7. My family and friends
6. My family and friends
5. My family and friends
4. My family and friends
3. My family and friends
2. My family and friends
1. My family and friends

I'm still here and I will be back in the swing of things before long!

Quote of the Day

"Free was I born, and free shall I die!"

Paraphrased from Carmen, the opera by Georges Bizet with libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy.

Kind of like Scarlet O'Hara, Carmen is impossible and irresistible, with a great personal motto.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

On a bit of a Roll...

Memories of the rugby world cup, 2003.

Pictured centre, with the ball... I give you Lorenzo Bruno Nero Dallaglio (6'4" and 250 pounds), surging forth on Guinness-powered thighs against a French player.

Suza and I went a bit spare over Lawrence four years ago. He captained the English team to victory. This time he's a veteran of the sport and he's there in reserve.

Grateful... Damn Grateful

So, under the Rugby Union website, we find Guinness merchandise. Here we see the "Tall, Dark and Have Some" boxers. But these would be more accurately described as boxer-briefs.

Either way, it's a look. And it takes rugby-playing thighs to fill them out.

Rugby. Rugby-playing thighs. Guinness. Guinness-marmite. Chocolate. Okay... I don't know how I can make the chocolate connect, but right here you have five things I am grateful for this Thanksgiving weekend. Barbara, when I'm back in the swing of things, we're definitely visiting some games here in Toronto. Preferably on muddy days.

Yes, you Americans, we're celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend. It's 22 degrees Celsius with a humidex of 31 (meaning that's what it feels like). In Fahrenheit, that would be 71 degrees, with a humidex of 88. Not bad eh? Too hot for turkey in my book. Hmmm, that's my motto of the day: Drink a Guinness, Save a Turkey.

I Love Thunderstorms!

Totally uncontrollable. Destroyers of humidity. What's not to love?

Oh... and seen recently on a t-shirt designed like a vintage postcard:

"The weather is here... wish you were beautiful."

Man of the Moment... Nay, of the YEAR!! Or... Make that Four Years

I give you... Jonny Wilkinson.


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Quote of the Day

"At home by the fire, whenever I look up, there you will be. And whenever you look up, there I shall be."

Alan Bates as Gabriel Oak in Far From the Madding Crowd (1967).

I love this film, based on Thomas Hardy's novel. It stars the ruggedly handsome Alan Bates as Farmer Oak, Peter Finch and Terence Stamp, and the radiant Julie Christie as the exasperating and beautiful Bathsheba Everdene. I loved her in Hamlet (1996). In the scene after Ophelia has been discovered drowned, she was magical. As for Far From the Madding Crowd, she was worthily cast as the object of desire for the three supporting male characters.

Human Catnip

My favourite scent is anything pine-based, like cedar or balsam. In fact, it's kind of like a drug to me. If I'm driving through a pine forest, I am likely to roll down the window and stick my head out to soak it up. No messy accidents yet.

When I was in Maine several years ago - wow, must be seven now - I visited Acadia National Park and at their gift store, I bought a small bag of dried balsam (pictured). It had the most intoxicating scent and still does. All it is is a little cloth bag packed tight with dried balsam leaves.

On humid days, like the last two, it releases still the most amazing scent and I inhale like an addict. I'm not kidding, it's like catnip to me, and I can't... say... no.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Rainy Day

Rainy mornings are the best sort of mornings to stay in bed... all day.

And this is how I would play it, if it were not Tuesday (and deadlines a-brewing) but next Sunday:

I'd open the curtains, make the tea, get back into bed, burrowing under the blankets, looking out of the window at the grey sky, hearing the patter of the rain on the window. Being inside, warm and dry on a rainy morning is the best feeling, especially with a cup of tea at hand and a long, warm body to cuddle up to.

The only rule for today is: no getting out of bed. Seriously.