4/27/2010

Indulge/Resist Day

Indulged: A timeout with Bookshelves of Doom in the midst of library chaos.

Resisted:
Telling my "favorite" third-period-free seniors what I really thought when they asked me if I'd miss them when they're gone. (Nah, they're not that obnoxious. . . most of the time.)


Indulged: Killers CD/DVD at the bookstore while looking for b-day present for Younger Sister

Resisted:
Ally McBeal Season 1 box set


Indulged: Gave empty tuna can to The Cat while I made dinner.

Resisted:
Any lovey-dovey attempts by Cat to get a taste of dinner.


Indulged: 3 chocolate cookies

Resisted:
cookie #4 (or 5 or 6, for that matter. . . even if they do contain fiber)



I'd say it was a pretty successful day.

4/25/2010

Oscars Project: Movie #14

(Explanation of the Oscars Project found here. And need I say it? This post contains SPOILERS.)

Trying to get caught up here. . .

From 1981: On Golden Pond

Summary: Senior couple Ethel (Katharine Hepburn) and Norman (Henry Fonda) arrive at the summer cabin somewhere in New England with different ideas of how the summer's going to go. Ethel plans on picking strawberries and hanging out with the loons; Norman is painfully aware he's losing his mind and thinks he might be gone by the end of the summer.

Enter dippy and distant daughter Chelsea (Jane Fonda) with slightly uptight boyfriend and boyfriend's teenage son. Peske and West incorrectly state that Chelsea "flees to the city, inexplicably leaving" the boyfriend's son behind (p. 70). Um, no. She went to Europe with the boyfriend (where they abruptly get married). . . there's kind of a reasonable need for someone to watch the kid in that case. Whatever, ladies.

Of course, Norman is all crotchety and doesn't like the kid at first, but eventually they start going fishing together in search of the elusive trout nicknamed "Walter." Yes, they catch Walter. I seriously thought Norman was going to buy the farm after that, but no, he doesn't, in spite of an accident he and the boy get into because he's all mixed up and they hit some rocks. He's way too stubborn to die.

The movie wraps up with Chelsea's return and her sort of reconciliation with Norman (after Ethel urges her to leave behind her baggage of being the "fat girl who never could do anything right" in her father's eyes--an oddly handled side story too shallowly dealt with in the film). Ethel and Norman share a final moment of care and concern for each other when Norman suffers a bit of heart trouble, and Ethel seems finally cognizant of Norman's (and their relationship's) mortality. They close up the summer cabin with hopes but no illusions that they will be back again.

Overall, not particularly a movie I loved, but it told a good story. It was based on a play, so that might explain a few things. I did like watching Hepburn and Fonda together. The edition of the movie I watched contained a little tribute to her (either she recently had died, or it was the 10th anniversary of the movie--not clear to me), and it was interesting to learn that while both actors had been in show business at pretty much the same time, they never had met until they worked together on this film. They were great at portraying a couple that had been together a long time.

The Oscar Movies book said that this film "established Hepburn as the only performer in Oscar history to earn four major acting awards--a record that is likely to stand for several years to come." I think it still stands today.

Another interesting stat:
"All four of the acting awards winners were elderly, aging actors --the oldest collection of acting winners ever assembled, averaging 70.75 years old."

And you hear all the time that you have to be young and beautiful to get anywhere in show biz.

Next up: Chariots of Fire (one of this film's competition for awards that year)

I realized I forgot to mention which other movies are coming up for this chapter:

Amadeus

Out of Africa

An Officer and a Gentleman


Play along at home, if you'd like.

It's a Scotland Kind of Sunday

The priest who helps out with Mass at our church (he is president of a couple high schools but lives at our parish) said Mass today. It's Good Shepherd Sunday, so named because of the Gospel reading.

In the homily, he talked about the time several years ago when he chaperoned high school students on a trip to England/Scotland/Wales, and while in Scotland the kids got to go see a shepherd working with four herding dogs. His point was about how the dogs had to listen to the shepherd's commands so they knew what to do, and they had to pay attention and not get confused or distracted by other things. He compared that to the voice of Christ among all the other voices we hear today (other people, news, blogs, TV, radio, etc.). That was neat.

And right now, I'm listening to a Travis CD.

There ya go.

4/23/2010

Oscars Project: Movie #13

(Explanation of the Oscars Project found here. And need I say it? This post contains SPOILERS.)

I think I might be a week behind. Tonight I'm doing the movie I watched last Sunday, and I probably will watch and post on the next movie tomorrow or Sunday.

From 1980: Ordinary People

Summary: Based on the bestselling book by Judith Guest. A teenage boy, Conrad (Timothy Hutton), returns to his broken family after being hospitalized for a suicide attempt in the wake of his (wonderful, hailed-as-Adonis) older brother's death in an accident while the boys were boating together. As he struggles with survivor's guilt, the stigma of past events, and just plain dealing with high school, he starts to find his way with the help of a straight-talking psychiatrist (Judd Hirsch), a nice girl from the choir (Elizabeth McGovern--I knew it was an Elizabeth but I wasn't sure which one!), and his dad (Donald Sutherland).

But definitely not his perfectionist, elist mom (Mary Tyler Moore). Man, she was horrible. You totally could tell Conrad's older brother, Jordan ("Buck") was her favorite. Conrad was the "good kid" and never did anything wrong--and never got any attention. Mom probably didn't know how to process Conrad without Buck as a reference point once he'd died. Peske and West highlight this "Passive-Aggressive Mom Moment" (p. 69):

Conrad (Timothy Hutton): I made a 74 on a trig quiz.
Beth (Mary Tyler Moore): Oh really? Gosh, I was awful at trig.
Conrad: Oh really? You took trig?
Beth: No. . . wait a minute. . . ha, did I take trig? Huh. . . anyway, I bought you two shirts. They're on your bed.


Seriously, WTH was that??? The poor kid can barely sleep, doesn't eat, and can barely concentrate at school. . . and you can't commend him for bringing his grade up? I cheered when she left the family at the end.


What I liked:


--Obviously, excellent cast. Timothy Hutton won Best Supporting Actor. (Oddly enough, Filmsite thought it was wrong to give Best Director to Robert Redford. . . If I had to guess, it was because it was his first movie--and for pete's sake, look at the pedigreed list of losers!)

--The story was good, but the adaptation was even better. Maybe I'm saying that because I saw the movie first, but right now I'm reading the book during lunchtime at school (yes, it's in our catalog--circulated 13 times since 1998! It feels so cool that I can access our catalog from home!) and I can see the changes. Sure, there are some things communicated better in the book, but there are definitely a few scenes that didn't contribute much to the story and were cut/moved around.

--This was a no-frills production. . . about a suburban family. . . and yet it won Oscars. The biggest winner, according to this little gem of a book I found in my library. (First time checked out in over ten years, apparently.)

--Chuck fans will notice that Conrad, in pretty much the only angry outburst he's ever dared to have, punches out a very young John Casey.


What I didn't like:

--No nomination for Donald Sutherland. He was fantastic as the dad!

--Hutton was 19 but played a teen. That's not the problem. The problem is that I've had a crush on him since he played angsty piano-playing cutie Willie in
Beautiful Girls. . . and it was a little difficult admiring him and his handsomeness because he's in high school in this film, and I do what I do for a living. (I know, ew, right?)

--This film made me cry. Sure, at the scene listed here, but also. . . other places. Place I don't want to talk about, really, but. . . oh, parents. Teen years. Siblings. Feelings. Some of that dialogue was spot-on, even though I wasn't in high school until about another decade after that. There isn't enough money in the world to entice me to be a teenager again. At least not teen me, anyway.


So it was good. Upsetting. In a good way. It's a serious film (most of the time) but a great one. See it if you haven't before.

Next up: On Golden Pond

Who Knew. . .

. . . that a book like this would lead to such division in the comments?

(Me, I laughed so hard at the illustration I cried. Read some of the other posts and I guarantee at least one will make you laugh like crazy.)

4/21/2010

Quick Tech Quiz

What is the correct response to the following question?

"The computer says, 'Control-Alt-Delete'; does that mean I have internet?"


Bonus points if you can guess who asked me.

4/20/2010

What is UP with this week?

The good news was that my whiz-kid mechanic didn't have to replace any tires on the car; he fixed the plug or whatever and didn't charge me. (My dad slipped him a couple bucks.)

The board/finance meeting. . . I don't know. Early morning reports from co-workers who attended said that the A word came into play: "Attrition." (See definition #4.) I don't know if it's straight across the board or case-by-case, but what perfect timing that was, a resignation just a few days before the board talks about where they need to cut. My co-librarian seemed a bit stunned.

I have a formal observation on Thursday--I almost want to yell, "What's the point???"





The point is that I need to stay in the moment. Not think about what to add to my resume' and not think about the possibility that my health insurance would expire at the end of June. Just put down my stuff and help a kid out. Heck, maybe a whole class.


4/18/2010

More Angst, Car-related and Otherwise

So I just got new brakes on the car, right? At that time, it was inspected and I'd asked about the rear passenger tire that kept running low no matter how many times I put more air in it, and my whiz kid mechanic said it was fine. I had forgotten to ask about the clacking noise I'd been hearing on and off, and this past week it had been getting on my nerves but I hadn't had time to call and ask about that. I was almost afraid to, because I'd heard sort of a clacking noise in the weeks leading to the demise of Cylinder #3 in September.

That darn tire was almost completely flat today. So I took the short drive to my parents' and showed my dad. He borrowed the bike pump from the next door neighbors and refilled the tire so I could get down the street to the mechanic.

This of course means that I will be toodling to work in my mom's decidedly unsexy station wagon (something like this guy), complete with two (2!) baby car seats in the back and 90K on the odometer.

And I can't wait to get the bill for two new tires and Lord only knows what else.

In other news, on Friday the principal called my co-librarian to tell her the person for whom I'm subbing officially resigned. She asked if that was good news for me, and the principal said it was too soon to say anything about there being a job opening. I don't know if this means the only reason they decided not to cut the position last go-around a few months ago was that they were bound to hold it for the person on leave, but that's possible, so. . . Next finance meeting is tomorrow. I wonder if anything hinges on that. Thanks for all your kind words; I just don't know if my performance has any impact at this point.

Some weekend!

Oscars Project: Movie #12

(Explanation of The Oscars Project found here. And need I say it? This post contains SPOILERS.)

That's right, I've watched a dozen movies so far. (And half of another movie, but I'll get to that tomorrow--so tempted to look up who plays the love interest and I'm leaning towards Phoebe Cates but I'm just not sure. No spoiling!)

From 1995: Dead Man Walking

Summary: (Does anyone not know what this movie is about?) Based on an autobiographical book by Sister Helen Prejean (played in the movie by Susan Sarandon), this movie shows what happened when a convict (played by Sean Penn) on death row contacted Sister (who until then had been serving a poor rural community in Lousiana) for spiritual guidance as he faced his execution.

What I liked (hard to say "liked" for a movie about this subject matter):

--Well put together cast. Everyone seemed to fit into his/her role, even the minor ones.

--I think Sarandon deserved the nomination for Best Actress. . . can't say about the win because I haven't seen a couple of the other movies, but at the very least she deserved it over Emma Thompson in S&S.

--I think it was a decent screenplay. It dragged at the end, but then again, maybe that conveyed the feeling of what it's like on the last day in the life of someone about to be executed. I don't know.

--Seeing Jack Black as practically a kid (one of the brothers).



What I didn't like:

--Um, I don't know if there was anything I specifically didn't like. Looking over the nominations list, I can say that I didn't like realizing that I wasted my time renting Mighty Aphrodite (as much as I love Mira Sorvino) because this movie probably was on the shelf of the little video store by my parents' at the same time. (Also, I was reminded that I saw Il Postino on a date with my first and only college boyfriend. Whatever. Good movie, though.)

--Maybe also I didn't like that it reminded me how undecided I am about the whole issue. I mean, if the state wants to put a convict to death, I think they would have to be really, really, really sure the person did it. All of it. To that degree that it merited execution. (Just my honest opinion; not looking for a real heavy discussion here.)

I think I do find myself agreeing with Peske & West that it was the "story of one man's redemption through the power of a woman's pure light and love" (56)--but I think I'd add that it also was through the grace of God, working through Sister.

Do see it, if you haven't before.

Next up: Ordinary People





4/14/2010

A Quick Update

I am behind in my movie viewing, but I did finish Dead Man Walking this afternoon (so I could return it on time) and will be posting on that--tomorrow, I hope. We are done with the '90s and will be stepping back a decade next time, so in case you are playing along at home, the first movie from the '80s is Ordinary People. On Golden Pond is on its way to my mailbox for next week. Mousse your hair, scrunch your socks, and slip into some parachute pants to get yourself in the mood.

Today, my co-librarian said she got a bit of unofficial news about what's going on with the person for whom I'm subbing. . . via a personal e-mail, so she couldn't say much. I think she wanted to tell me the job is definitely open but she can't just yet. So it's slightly good news but not much. I just want to know what I need to do to clinch the job if it really is up for grabs. Maybe the administrators don't get to witness it, but I get a lot of thank-yous (in person and via e-mail) from faculty I've helped (and/or whose classes I've helped) and they frequently ask if I know if I'm coming back next year. They'd be crazy not to keep me.

In any event, I'm crazy for still being awake. I gotta hit the hay. Later, blogfriends.

4/11/2010

She Said It Well

It's a question that has been asked often as of late, I think.

"Why be Catholic?" by Red Cardigan

It's pretty much all there, at least as to how I feel. Things have not been easy for Catholics lately. . . events and comments have hurt. We hurt. Anybody who thinks we are shrugging at this stuff is mistaken. Or not looking closely enough.

I'm really not a great apologist or theologian--I tend to say more by what I do than what words I use. Heck, I don't even claim to be a decent Catholic, unless that means a Catholic who tries her best to serve the Lord and her brothers and sisters, and acknowledges her sins and tries to make reparation for them. I'm down with that.

I don't really use my blog for evangelism, and I hope everyone who reads it feels welcome here. And if anyone ever has a question, I hope he or she feels comfortable with asking. All I can do is try to answer as best I can.

It really pains me that some people would look at the devout, devoted priests I love--my pastor, the parish assistant who administers not only to our parish but also to hundreds of high school students as school president, a former parish assistant who is one of my dad's best friends, the pastor of the other church where I sing, several of my classmates from college--and automatically call them abusers.

It hurts. And I don't know what there is to do about it.

Except keep showing up, every day.


4/09/2010

Random Stuff from a Very Full Friday

Whew! Today was crazy.

Got up early to finish a cake I was planning to bring to school (so hard to test recipes when you live alone). It went over very well with my staff and some random teachers who took me up on my offer of chocolate.

First period was insane because we were trying to help set up seating areas and equipment for group presentations to 200+ 9th graders for the following two periods. The presenting group dropped the ball on notifying the custodians they would need, oh I don't know, a cart full of chairs and help setting them up and moving our big heavy tables out of the way? It went O.K., though, and we had a bit of time to get some administrative stuff done because the library was closed to everyone else.

Fourth period, I had to abandon the post-presentation cleanup to hit the auditorium, because I was recruited to round out the team of Student Services (f/k/a Guidance) for "Faculty Feud." We won the first game (vs. Social Studies) but lost the second (vs. Foreign Languages). Total technicality. I have to ask the math department to help the game creators convert raw survey stats into percentages so the points are actually fair. You know, for when I'm around next year. Not that I know that for sure.

That said, all the seniors who had free period were there at the game and gave me a shout-out as I walked back up the aisle after our defeat. Those kids drive me crazy in the library but I think they secretly like me a lot.

I am very thankful for the lovely English teacher who was very kind--not to mention flexible--when I had to relocate her class due to a lunch schedule overlap. If I'm there next year I am determined to find a way to fix the computer labs schedule so we know who goes to lunch when.

I'm not sure I really had much of a lunch break, but most times I don't mind, because people need help and there just aren't that many of us.

More dealings with the secretary who doesn't want to listen to me. I realized today that when she asks me a question, as I'm responding she's not listening to my answer because she's so fixated on the problem. Then she keeps asking more questions, not realizing that I said everything the first time. Seriously, if she asks me about what the deal is with a pile of magazines, and I tell her, "I don't know; I saw [Co-librarian] having a conversation with [some teacher] about them so maybe they're going to somebody's classroom." Does she draw the conclusion that I don't know about about them and decide to talk to Co-librarian? No! "Well, do you think I should do something with them?" What? WHY? And why would I speculate anything further about their fate when I just said I was not part of the conversation???? Arrrrrgh. It's like OMG there's a strange stack of magazines in the office and I must do something with them right now.

On top of that, I'm trying to locate a piece of damaged video equipment that I now might know how to revive, and it's nowhere to be found, except for its box. She is insisting it was damaged and gone long before the school year started, but I remember when this item went bad. I don't get why the #$%! was the box kept if it was trashed. Or why there is no real record about it. My co-librarian got so frustrated with the conversation at the end of the day that she bailed. I suspect she had a bit of a migraine, too, but she rarely ever mentions when she gets them.

I rented Dead Man Walking and Disc 1 of Season 1 of Glee. Not really sure I am going to like either of them but I want to see what all the fuss is about. After that, I stopped at my parents' to drop off leftover cake. They were out with Niece and Middle Nephew, so I fed the three desperate-looking cats dinner (after having prevented an escape by Younger Sister's cat as I was trying to take in the mail at the front door) and left a love note on the counter with the cake.

Other than feeding The Cat and making dinner, I haven't done much of anything since I got home. Oh, I bought an $80 dress for only $52 courtesy of coupons from Younger Sister and survey rewards, plus free shipping because Younger Sister was very nice and let me borrow her charge card. I have been searching for a decent casual summer dress since I lost weight years ago and I couldn't wear my Eddie Bauer pique dress anymore. They don't make good dresses now. [/girly stuff]

I had some good laughs with The Soup and now I think it's time for bed. Gotta sing for another wedding tomorrow and watch some movies.




4/06/2010

Oscars Project: Movie #11

(Explanation of The Oscars Project found here. And need I say it? This post contains SPOILERS.)

This post might be a bit brief and/or random--it's way hot here and I discovered that my main AC unit is not cooling anything. Heck of a way to find out. The bedroom one, which I never use, seems to be running O.K. but I'm worried I won't hear my alarm in the morning. Really hating July temps in April/paying way too much for an apartment with no central air/that stupid non-cooling AC unit right now.

**Unplugs recharged laptop and moves to bedroom with working AC.**

Anyway, let's talk movies.

From 1992: The Crying Game (synopsis under letter C)

Filmsite.org says its tagline is "Play at Your Own Risk."

The characters may play the game, but all of them also play with other people's lives--whether they're men/women in the IRA, soldiers or volunteers, love interests, obsessed lovers. It's almost like a chain of manipulation, hurt, and murder. No one is immune. And at what point, if any, do people lose their right to be treated as human beings in the light of atrocities committed or contradiction of traditional gender roles/orientation? That question made me think of the themes from Unforgiven.

It was an outstanding cast but had few names I knew. I was surprised by Forrest Whitaker, who played Jody, the British soldier held hostage by the IRA. His scenes with Fergus (Stephen Rea) as they develop an odd rapport in the beginning make the first half of the movie far tighter than the second. Cinematherapy cites this "fragile kinship" as one of the examples of movies in the '90s depicting prisoners and showing that "not even maximum security bars can lock out the light of love" (p. 55). Once Jody is killed, and Fergus flees his IRA group, the movie follows almost a circular pattern, perhaps even a spiral, as Fergus practically stalks and then dithers about falling in love with the unusual singer-hairstylist Dil whom Jody left behind. In spite of the dragged-out feeling of the second half, it was a more swiftly moving film than the others I've watched lately.

Six nominations but just one win (Best Screenplay, which was written by the director as well, Neil Jordan--who has an interesting repertoire (scroll down))

It was funny to see how young Jim Broadbent looked as friendly bartender Col--my first thought when I see his name is the chubby, thin-ponytailed "Mr. Boo," the nightclub owner in Little Voice.

I don't know what else to say about this movie. Sure, it's kind of controversial and it was definitely very violent and/or awkward (at least for me) in places. But overall I can see some reasons it got as many Oscar nominations as it did. And now I can say I've seen it.

Next up: I think I'm going to take another run at Dead Man Walking, because at Good Friday pasta & aioli my cousins strongly urged me to watch that instead of The English Patient. I wonder why.


Also, I owe you posts about a pretty good book I read recently and my mosh pit nightmare experience (that one's for Cullen).


4/03/2010

Informal Poll

Informal polls are probably the distant cousins of Tracey's "nosy surveys."

I might have mentioned a while back that my stereo is on its way out. First, the tape decks went, which really sucks because I have a ton of tapes, many of which were made by my late friend J when we were in high school and college. (Yes, at some point I will be getting a digital converter but that's a ways off.) Then, the remote conked out. A lot of the good functions--CD shuffle, sleep, I can't even remember the rest anymore--were on the remote, so they were lost. Basically, to operate it I have to open the TV stand door, and leave it open. And then bump into the door a million times because it's glass. . . or shoo the cat out of the stand. So warm and cavernous.

It's been at the top of my wish list to replace the stereo. There was an impromptu training for my side job this morning, and I noticed on my way that I was passing by the electronics store where my parents bought their TV (and mine). On the way home, I stopped in to check out the audio.

Did I ever luck out--the first salesperson to say hi to me turned out to be a huge audiophile. Thousands of dollars of audio equipment in his collection, including a top-of-the-line turntable. This guy was serious about music. So I told him my predicament, and that in light of the fact that there aren't many mini-systems with tape decks and/or with the capacity to play more than one CD, or even mini-systems in general, I was contemplating building my own system. He showed me some options.

Definitely I will get what I want if I build my own system. But at what cost?

Receiver--this one, I think, he showed me on the computer. $250.

CD carousel--6 discs--I currently have 3. $220.

Cassette decks--there's only one--surprise! $200.

I can use my current speakers--saves money, I guess. He told me that if a receiver's good, it can make even junky speakers sound amazing. Mine, believe it or not, aren't too junky.

The setback is that he had every component except the receiver in stock. I took his business card and said I had some thinking to do.

I didn't mention I had polling to do. So. . . about $700 when all is said and done. What do you think?

I know I fret about money, but I'll have some money left from my tax refund(s) after paying for my new brakes, and I've been stashing away some of the money from singing. These pieces are good quality and should last. I take good care of my stuff. I've had my Phillips minisystem for about eight years now (well, seven good ones, anyway) so these could go the same or longer. There really aren't that many options out there.

Should I do it?

Or should I keep looking, even though there aren't that many places left to look?


4/01/2010

Happy April!

No jokes here. . . well, actually the joke's been on me twice already today:

1. I finally remembered to file my local taxes and it turns out that I overpaid on my quarterly payments--I'm owed $55. (What is the proper emotion? Annoyed that I overpaid? Excited that I'll be getting money back?)

2. Tried looking up the times for church services* tonight and tomorrow online--Easter Sunday's bulletin is already up! I had to go make a phone call and listen to the recording.

That's about all that's going on right now; I'm on vacation and loving it. The weather is beautiful, my car has new brakes (we won't discuss the cost), and I'm getting enough sleep.

Also, I'm not too tired to cook. (I think Dave might feel the same way.) Here's a new recipe:

Easy Mini-Pizzas

1 small roll (I used an Alexia rosemary ciabatta, slightly thawed.)
Spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce
Mozzarella cheese, a couple slices or several pinches of shreds (I used 2 slices of Tofutti)
Olive oil (optional)
Toppings (optional; I caramelized onions on the stovetop)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Split roll and place face-up on cookie sheet. Optional: brush tops with olive oil. (Or drizzle oil on one half and squish halves together to distribute.)

Spoon a thin-to-medium layer of sauce on each half. Layer cheese on top. Stick in preheated oven and check after five minutes to see if cheese has melted and/or bread is getting brown. Leave in a bit longer until desired melty-ness has occurred (or before bread gets too brown).

Remove from oven and let sit for about a minute. (You can make a salad or side veggies in the meantime.) Place on plate and enjoy!

It's kind of funny to be talking about food when I'll be fasting tomorrow. I'll also be fasting from radio, TV, and internet, so I guess I will see you all on Saturday.



*I "defect" from my parish every year for Holy Thursday and Good Friday. The satellite church where I normally sing doesn't have services (they're at the main church and are just. . . too much, if I can say that charitably). So I'm going where I guest-cantor once a month and do the occasional wedding or funeral. Kinda nice to be a civilian in the pew for a bit, so to speak.