From 1997: Titanic
I think I'm one of the last people in my age bracket to see this movie, so I'm going to skip the plot summary (read "The Phenomeon of Titanic" here). It also aired on cable this past weekend--that could've saved me a bit a trouble, but then again I'd planned to watch it by the end of last week. Oh, well.
Generally speaking, this movie was way too long (more on that later, but seriously, how on earth did people sit through this in the theater??? On a date, possibly???) but was redeemed by its attention to detail and special effects. It's kind of corny for a love story--or could it be I just got sick of all the quoting (misquoting) and parodies from the past ten years?--but the last hour really works as a disaster film. I totally dug the action. Or perhaps just welcomed it after having watched the movie creep along.
What surprised me:
*How the movie started. I didn't know there was this whole framework that Grandma Rose had to take a trip to the actual wreckage site in order to start the whole story. All these years I'd thought she had been telling the story just to her granddaughter. To be honest, it was kind of lame and annoying. I've never seen so much exposition, so slowly.
*The impressive staging, sets, props, etc. I know there was a lot of money sunk into the production; it paid off.
*The heavy-handedness at times. Like, we get it, Rose's fiance is a jerk, but do you have to underscore it a million times? He frames Jack for theft. He slugs Rose. He squirts his breakfast grapefruit into his valet's watchful eye. (Well, maybe not that last one. But the audience must know he is mean.) And if we didn't know Rose felt trapped, well, we must have run to the restroom forty-seven times to have missed those hammerings.
*It is the second most award winning film in Oscar history.
What didn't surprise me:
*Best Picture & Best Costume Design wins. (Best Screenplay loss, interestingly enough.)
*A great cast like that worked really well together. Man, I love Kathy Bates and she was great as the Unsinkable Molly Brown.
So, what did you think? Did you see it in the theater and survive? I'm curious!
Next up: The Crying Game
(pinch-hitting for Dead Man Walking. Even thought I know the surprise! twist! I know it wasn't listed as an alternate, but I just wasn't in the mood for any of them.)
The groom's brother? Very, very cute. (My dad was giving him sartorial advice about wearing his jacket open because he had a full-length vest. Yup, that's my dad.)
The bridesmaids wore long purple dresses. . . and I'm pretty sure the bride's nails were painted purple to match those and her purple bouquet. It sounds weird in theory but it looked kinda cool.
I lost my place during that dumb song but nobody noticed. I rocked "You Are Mine" (the only Haas song I like) so everything after that was gravy.
When we left church and went to my dad's car, there was a parking ticket on the windshield claiming his car was parked too close to the bus drop-off. So not true, but hey, it's the end of the month and there are quotas to be made.
I hope he doesn't have to pay it--we have other plans for our gig money.
I know what I'm gonna do--a spring pedicure, and the rest squirreled away to savings.
It's all about balance.
Me, I'm getting hit with one "hey, you're single" reminder after another.
One teacher kept calling me "Mrs." every time she referred to me as she talked to her classes (three in a row).
Right after 8th period today, one of the science teachers, a substitute for a teacher on maternity leave, came in to the library to borrow a laptop. My co-librarian took him to the front laptop cart to sign one out to him because our one library aide was busy walking around shutting down our many desktop PCs. When my co-librarian was done, she walked back into the office, where I was taking care of some things.
At that point, the aide is right on the other side of the office windows and she calls through the windows, "Did you ask Kate?"
"Ask Kate what?" replies my co-librarian.
"You know!" She's gesturing grandly in the direction of front door where the tall, dark and handsome teacher who just borrowed a laptop had exited.
I knew where she was going. "Married!" I yelled back. I'd met him at the faculty happy hour right after he'd started back in December. "They're all freakin' married!" (What? It's true. There are maybe two straight single men in the entire faculty. In fact, the entire male contingent of the English department went from half single to all married and one engaged in just the past couple years. Must be the water.)
After school, I attended happy hour (first one not to be canceled by snow in over a month). The organizer, one of the math teachers, revealed that his longtime girlfriend will be moving into the house he recently bought come summer. He's eight years younger than I am. I hope my "I'm happy for you" smile didn't look too forced.
Did I mention that almost the entire time, I was sitting next to the science teacher I kind of like? I have no idea how old he is or if he'd be even remotely interested in me. But we had a funny conversation about digital natives and teaching technology to mom and dad. . . and now I have an excuse to follow up with him because he said he'd give me a URL for something else interesting along those lines. I think.
Then I get home and there's an e-mail from my mom apologizing for making me feel invisible/too visible because of this article. (Don't read the comments; they're really negative.) Not that she has, really. She just really really really thinks my sister and I are terrific. (And wants us married off. O.K., I'm paraphrasing here.)
Maybe I set something off the other day.
This article about Seraphic's new book was of some timely comfort.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go practice this song because tomorrow I have to sing it at a ceremony after which two more people won't be single anymore.
I can't comment on a lot of blogs I used to. I try commenting and the comment vanishes.
Do I need to convert my blogger account? Every time I work on my blog, I don't see a Dashboard option even though I'm signed in--it still has "Sign In" at the top. Weird.
Originally, the plan had been to do the ritual at sunrise. I’d watched the Weather Channel’s “Local on the 8s” because with the time change I’d been arriving at school in the dark once again. Around 7:03 a.m., it said. Saturday morning didn’t work out; I’d been working up a sleep debt all week and needed to lounge around until 8:30.
Maybe that wasn’t totally true. I’d been putting the whole thing off. I wasn’t even sure how I’d pull it off—how to do it. I was afraid to start, mostly out of fear of breaking down into a sobbing mess and being unable to finish. I thought about one friend who might kind of hold my hand, but I didn’t want to wait until I saw that friend later in the week. It had taken me until Friday night to sit on the living room floor with one of those note cubes and a hot pink gel pen (which later proved useful).
Thirty-five negative things from the failed relationship, the horrible break-up, the fallout. I threw in five things that sucked about being single in general just to make it an even (significant) forty. Each little square folded up and over and tucked into one of those tiny department store bags for transporting. With “Silence” playing in the background.
Tomorrow, I promised myself. I could get up and take care of it at sunrise, and then go back and get ready for
If I’m letting go, leaving behind. . . the sun should be setting on all of it. After 7 p.m. it would be, then. Sunday night.
Daylight started to fade. I waited until I no longer heard the cries of children playing outside. If their parents had called them in, then it was sufficiently dark to carry out the rite. I gathered the tiny bag stuffed with notes along with my keys and, armed with a lipstick called Willingness and an Aim ‘n’ Flame, walked out the front door.
Community rules: No barbecue grills on patios or decks. No burning anything close to the buildings.
There’s a little strip of grass on the far side of the parking lot that I guess one could call a park. It’s got official signs and some picnic tables and benches. Not to mention a couple of charcoal grills. As I made my way in the street-lit darkness, the wind started to pick up. It felt cold and damp. I considered the lighter in my hand and decided to stand with my back to the wind once I reached the grill.
The streetlights’ distance made reading difficult, but the neon pink gel ink gave the words a faint glow. Unfold-read-drop on the grate had been the plan. Forty times.
- The checking-hand-for-ring ignominy. A few more papers in, a pair of teenagers cut through the so-called park from the adjoining street. I ignored them. Their conversation never faltered, so I guess they ignored me, too.
- Not knowing WHY. A prickle in my left eye.
- People were happy to see me hurt. The breeze swelled up and I wondered if #1-30 would be flying across the lawn before I got to #31-40.
- Confidences broken. A thought that I might touch the lighter to that one first. (I changed my mind about that a few more times as the pile grew.)
- SHAME. Definitely a tear in my left eye; the cool wind made it sting.
Finally, #40 landed on the grill. A couple of clicks and the fire was going, about eight inches above the grill in a matter of seconds.
Just about as quickly as they had taken on flame, the papers shriveled and disintegrated into a fading red glow and then a pile of grey ashes.
I turned away and walked straight ahead, my shoulders back, my pace quick in order to escape the air that had grown in dampness and cold. It seemed pointless to look back at the ashes sitting in the grill.
Those that sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing. (Ps. 126: 5)
P.S. Thanks, Amy. Keep cheering me on.
P.P.S. Anybody who thought I was going to burn somebody's house down. . . hee.
It’s time for the giveaway!
- I am raffling off my prize copy of Amy Spencer’s book, Meeting Your Half-Orange, because I already have a copy I purchased (and am dog-ear-ing to death).
- I’m not sure I have a ton of single blogreaders—unless certain people need to de-lurk, *ahem-ahem*. . . if you’d like a chance to win (and non-singles and/or fellas, maybe there's a sister or friend you think would enjoy it), mention it in the comments. Send your single friends and blogreaders over.
- Non-prize-related comments welcome as well, natch. And thanks for all the comments so far!
- Deadline for entry is Thursday (3/25), midnight, my time.
- Winner announced Friday (3/26).
the things of long ago consider not;
see, I am doing something new!
Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? (Is. 14: 18-19)
I haven't talked about it, but something interesting happened to me a couple of weeks ago.
Via Jen, I have been reading a blog and following tweets by The Dating Optimist (a.k.a. Amy Spencer, a writer whose various articles you might have read in magazines and online) and reading her book. A tweet came up about entering a contest at ThreeDayRule to win a copy of her book and an hour of coaching.
Guess who won?
So, arrangements were made, and on a Wednesday after school, I sat on my couch on the East Coast and phoned Amy Spencer (uh, probably not on a couch) on the West Coast.
She asked me about my dating history. I confessed I hadn't been on a date in nearly two years, and that the last long term relationship I'd had, my only real one post-college, had ended in disaster--but had spared me a lifetime of disaster--nearly five years ago.
She asked me how far I'd gotten in her book. I told her I'd written my "Big Love List" (I know, it sounds cheesy, but it's actually awesome), and I read it to her. She told me I'd done well, but I confessed my doubts. That I just didn't feel as if I trusted my judgment anymore. That I felt as if wanted what I wanted to give and receive in a relationship wasn't justified. Wasn't possible. Not after I'd failed, big time.
In the end, that's what kept coming up. That big-time failure. That horrible break-up. All the pain, all the fallout. . . some of which still taints my daily life and makes me feel ashamed that I even waste a single thought about it. I think it's because I keep trying to find the reason things failed, so it doesn't happen ever again. But the bottom line is all that residual stuff is holding me back, and Amy knew it.
She suggested something that--again, like that "Big Love List"--sounded cheesy, but I agreed to do it. She probably had no idea of the logistics involved in carrying it out.
I had, and that's why I had to wait until tonight to do it.
From 1993: Schindler's List
I'm guessing that most of my dear blogreaders have seen this movie, but feel free to contradict me in the comments. I think the movie can be summed up in just a few lines of dialogue (courtesty Wikiquote):
"The list. . . is life."
--gentle but creative accountant Itzhak Stern, played by Ben Kingsley (whose performance was snubbed by the Academy for Best Supporting Actor), as he finishes typing the list of the interned Polish Jews who will be saved under the pretenses of being transported to work in Schindler's relocated enamelware factory.
"'Hath not a Jew eyes?'"
--Amon Goethe, the depraved SS officer (played frighteningly well by Oscar nominee Ralph Finnes), quoting Shakespeare's Shylock mockingly as he molests and pummels his timid Jewish housekeeper (Embeth Davidtz).
"I will not be mistaken for your wife by the doorman or maitre d' any more."
--Emilie Schindler (Caroline Goodall). . . calling her estranged husband on his obvious catting about and offering the terms of her permanent return. (As the notes at the end indicated, it didn't last. . . but she outlived him.)
"I didn't do enough! . . . This pin [his party member pin]. Two people. This is gold. Two more people. He would have given me two for it, at least one. One more person. A person, Stern. For this. I could have gotten one more person. . . and I didn't! And I. . . I didn't!"
--Oskar Schindler (Best Actor nominee Liam Neeson), bidding his factory workers farewell upon their liberation and his urgent need to escape to avoid prosecution for war crimes. . . his lament that he didn't do more represents the fullness of that belief which had been growing in him all throughout the movie--revealed bit by bit in how he treated his workers decently, how he asked for hoses (even bringing some from his factory) to spray water on the Jewish captives herded like cattle into sweltering train cars, how he kissed the young woman and little girl who brought him a birthday cake on behalf of his workers. . . how he relented to Stern's plea to build the list, to save as many as he could, ultimately using up his entire fortune. What Peske and West describe as beginning "to embrace the part of himself that values people over profits." (page 47)
The filming (with titles and in black and white--except for the red coat of a little girl whom Schindler first notices wandering alone among the chaos, and then ultimately sees heaped as a corpse headed to incineration--gave it the feel of a documentary).
The dialogue (see above)
The acting (excellent cast who gave 110%).
There's a reason people were upset, moved, blown away.
Why it won Best Picture and Best Director and received several other nominations.
You know me--I watched many scenes through my fingers. I cried a little, often. But I kept watching, all three-plus hours of it. Absolutely compelling.
Speaking of the length, why on earth do we have to flip over DVDs for long films, like an LP? Is that no longer necessary nowadays? Was the size limit of a DVD side really that small at the time it was manufactured, or was it just a gimmick?
Next up: Titanic
I am sort of dreading watching it. Is there a drinking game associated with it I should know about?
The good news is that the cat's claws finally got trimmed. Now she can chuck me under the chin with her front paw--her new little quirk--without nearly giving me kittypuncture.
There's much to do tomorrow, but I'm hoping I can make it through Schindler's List and have the post up late Friday/early Saturday--it's due back, anyway.
Is it Easter yet? That chocolate stashed on the bottom shelf of my fridge is sounding awfully good right about now.
From 1992: Unforgiven
One of the "50 Best Guy Movies of All Time," Unforgiven is a western unlike any other. William Munny (Clint Eastwood) is a formerly wild gunslinger who has left his past behind as the result of the influence of his wife, raising a family, the subsequent loss of his wife (which already has transpired as the movie begins), and just the plain passage of time. Growing older and having a different perspective on life.
Munny is lured back into his old ways when his farm begins to suffer and he hears news of a bounty offered to whoever bumps off the two cowboys responsible for assaulting a, um, "good time lady" in a nearby town. (Note: I found it interesting that Cinematherapy did not comment on the sisterhood of the uh, "billiards ladies" who pool their earnings to offer the money to get justice for one of their own.) Anyway, Munny calls upon fellow "retired" gunslinger Ned (Morgan Freeman) and they catch up with the eager young man known as the Schofield Kid (Jaimz Woolvett) who had brought the news in an attempt to bring Munny out of retirement.
As they hunt down their targets, Munny struggles with his commitment to his late wife--that he had left those ways behind. One very important thing that haunts him is that he hardly remembers all his previous murders; he had been drunk all the time back then. Being sober opens up a whole new perspective on what he must do: Kill. Not just kill, but kill and feel nothing.
It was interesting to see that the compassion his wife brought out in him colors his response to events to which he would have responded differently in the past:
1. The call for vengeance on the cowboys who hurt a woman (regardless of the fact of what she is--how little regard everyone else has for her). I doubt he would have paid that much attention to something like that in the past, except strictly for the money. I really got the sense that he saw her as more than a disfigured lady of the evening who was told she'd have to wear a veil before any man would take advantage of her services. They have a poignant scene together when she is tending to him as he is recovering from a fever.
2. Dealing with the Schofield Kid. It becomes apparent that the Kid can't see very far, and is a horrible shot. Munny coaches him, and gives him chances that are not practical but rather kind.
3. The offing of the first cowboy. After the Kid botches the shot and hits the cowboy's horse, Munny has to finish the job. It's his first shot in years, and with a strange rifle, so the fatal wound renders a slow death. The dying cowboy is calling for a drink of water. . . Munny promises the cowboy's group there will be no more shots, and demands the man is brought some water as he dies.
In the end, it seems that acting with compassion is too much to bear--he can endure the things that are occurring as they would have in his former life, in his new life. He tries to impart the facts of, well, death to the Kid after having given the Kid the opportunity to shoot the second cowboy. But there seems to be an unmistakable tone that they both acknowledge that this is the taking of a life. The real catalyst for his reversion to his former character is what happens to his friend Ned, who parts ways after the first killing but gets caught by the hypocritical sheriff "Little Bill" Daggett (Gene Hackman) who uses violence to keep the peace in town. Little Bill tortures Ned for information, then kills him and props up his corpse in front of the saloon, as a warning to others seeking the bounty.
He hadn't drunk whiskey in years--even had refused it while coming down with the fever--but he embraces it in order to finish the job and deal the justice he believes he must. He dispatches Little Bill and entourage responsible for what happened to Ned in what I only can assume was a masterful wielding of his gun. . . because I watched it through my fingers.
Then Munny, we are told through some words on the screen, packed up the kids and was never heard from again. He left the property where his wife was buried. I find that significant.
Had he left out of guilt or shame over the fact that he could not "eliminate the bad guys without becoming one himself" (Peske & West, 42)? I don't think we can know.
The bottom line: For me, this was the "sensitive new age guy" (remember that from the '90s?) version of a Western. A gunman who not only thinks but feels. Not necessarily a bad thing, because it makes for a complex film, and ultimately an award winner--Oscars for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Hackman), and Best Director (Eastwood).
Next up: Schindler's List
And of course we are being called to help hither and yon--and right as second period is about to start, our secretary, who went to deliver some A/V equipment, calls for help because apparently nobody in that room has even a basic grasp of technology. Especially our secretary. My co-librarian took the call and tried to resolve the issue over the phone. BAD IDEA. She asked the secretary to check the back of the computer to see if the network cable connection had flickering lights to indicate the connection was live.
She got put on hold so long she hung up the phone and headed downstairs to the classroom.
In the meantime, the secretary called back. "[Co-librarian]'s on the way," I told her, as I was watching students start to filter in for second period.
"Oh," she says. "Well, do you know about these lights I'm supposed to be looking for?"
Seriously? Does she not get why someone is on the way down to her? And that the result is I'm the only librarian (and unbeknown to her the only one there at all) and I have classes and free period students in need of my immediate attention?
She does this all the time. One of us will ask her to do something tech-related, she'll say "O.K.," and then she'll go to somebody else because she doesn't understand what she was just asked to do. Wasting everyone's time. She's been at this school way longer than I have but doesn't seem to have any comprehension of half the things the library deals with on a regular basis.
There's a lot of talk about the budget right now. Cuts sound inevitable. It's created a sourness among our aides that is at times somewhat unprofessional. We've got a secretary who can support us only when paperwork or phone calls are involved, or if there's a request for equipment she can identify.
If I can survive a day like today, maybe staff cuts won't hurt too badly.
That is, if I have a job next year.
On the way home from pilates class, I was behind one of those little Corollas. The bumper sticker on its trunk read,
I'm not that kind of car!
That cracked me up.
From 1991: Thelma & Louise
The story: Best girlfriends Thelma (timid housewife kept on a tight leash by husband) and Louise (tough talking waitress with a secret past life) embark on a road trip that turns into much more after an unexpected incident outside a bar.
What I liked:
* Solid cast. Both Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon) were nominated for Best Actress. Neither won. Some dumb movie about cannibals wiped the floor with them.
* It's Ridley Scott--everything looks amazing. (Nominated for Best Director--first time for Scott--also lost.) The title characters drive through some really beautiful landscapes.
What I didn't like:
* It was really hard watching them basically give up and start heaping crime upon crime. Thelma more or less went mad--although the question remains, what was the trigger? Nearly getting raped? Realizing her husband hadn't come home and didn't care where she was? Her apparent sexual awakening at the hands (limbs, extremities) of Brad Pitt's con artist cowboy?
* The ending seemed a bit dragged-out. (Surprisingly, Scott wanted a longer final scene, which is included in the DVD bonus features.)
* Winner of Best Screenplay, the only win out of six nominations for the film. I don't quite get it.
I forgot how outrageous and shocking this film was when it came out. Maybe because I wasn't finished high school at the time. We still make and see references to "Thelma & Louise" sometimes, don't we? On TV shows and on the radio and in movies? It definitely changed the landscape of all things feminine, but was it in a good way?
Peske and West say that the title women "strike back at men's cruel sense of entitlement" and although they do admit that T&L wind up on a path "lead[ing] to a point of no return," they applaud the "bad girl" characters of the 1990s for basically letting their freak flags fly high (p. 40).
I disagree with the observation about this particular movie--Louise refused to believe any of the sympathy and compassion coming from detective Hal Slocumb (Harvey Keitel, in an excellent performance ignored by the Academy) and almost seemed to resent it, react violently against it.
I also disagree with the general idea that this was the new (proper) face of feminism, the way women ought to be and behave. Beat up the men, especially the nasty truck driver who made lewd gestures at you, and score one for women everywhere. It's not ugly because women are supposed to be demure--it's ugly because it's vigilanteism.
But it happened--it really was the mentality that arose in the '90s. Is its impact still felt today? Maybe subtly.
But I don't think we'll see a movie like this again.
Next up: Unforgiven
Chapter list here.
Tuesday I spent getting errands done that I'd intended to take care of Monday.
Wednesday, instead of going home after school, the teacher friend who was going with me to the musical suggested we do shopping and dinner first. I scored a kitchen cart (originally $100) and a queen sized fleece blanket for under $70. The musical ran late, which shouldn't have mattered, because. . .
Thursday I got to sleep in late and hit the post office prior to going in for parent/teacher conferences. We librarians have a district meeting, and I was not happy with the discussion of what could happen to my position if the person for whom I'm subbing decides not to come back. In spite of the fact that recent documents from the school board said that dropping the position was a rejected budget cut proposal. It really bothered me that some people are telling me to hang in there and others (well, one other so far) are telling me start looking. That whole conversation is still bothering me today.
Friday, well, after having to be at school until after 8 doesn't make it easy to get up for a teacher in-service the next morning. Nor do the antics of a certain Outspoken Calico at 3:45 a.m.
I wound up sleeping through my alarm and barely made it to school on time. The morning went all right; I was doing an informal presentation on databases at the top of the day and had a better than expected turnout--but the afternoon went by way too fast and a needy non-tech-y teacher sucked up quite a bit of the time I'd set aside to get some things done that I can't when there are a zillion kids in the library. I went home with a blinding headache that put me out of commission for the remainder of the day.
Today was crazy. There was a training meeting for my new side job, but the location was nearly an hour's drive. . . and every idiot seemed to be on the road. Yes, please pull out in front of me and drive 15 miles under the speed limit. Don't use your turn signals. Brake for no reason and hesitate at every intersection. Please. Arrgh! So I got to the training nearly 20 minutes late and missed out on some stuff. People on the road were just as bad on the way back. And I don't know how this whole thing is going to work, so it's just stressful.
Tomorrow, I can finally get to the last of the laundry after church and watch this week's movie.
I can hardly wait to start the new week.