Thursday, February 28, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

photo: from the film's Wikipedia page

I'm posting this entry quite a bit after I'd seen the film because I wanted to post the entry for Silver Linings Playbook before Sunday's Academy Awards--as at least Jennifer Lawrence should win something from that very good film--and because I wanted to post an entry about the Awards show itself, leaving a few days in between each entry, to give my readers time to breathe between my entries.  And to not overdo it.  So, anyway, this post is probably happening about a week after I'd seen this film.

This film is not to be missed, and, as with The Hobbit, I'd heard some things about it that made me question whether I'd want to see a two-and-a-half hour film that ended up being disappointing.  But once again, I needn't have worried.  This was a great film and quite an experience in of itself.

That says a lot, because we all knew how this one would end up.  What we didn't know, though, is how it would get there, and for that, the experience of watching this is worth it.  The movie is essentially a director's showcase, although all of the actors deliver solid performances, especially Jessica Chastain--who is very suddenly everywhere, and in every type of movie imaginable--and Jennifer Uhle, whose character plays with your expectations for awhile until suddenly hers, and Chastain's, are good friends.

Jessica Chastain's character changes rather dramatically during the movie; the turning point is when she loses a friend quite close to her.  (This is a situation an astute viewer should see coming, though when it does, the scene still packs a solid punch.)  She's the quiet observer during the interrogation scenes (more on those later), but when she's spoken to by the prisoner, she delivers a solid, professional answer--though her character clearly feels for his plight.  (Viewers should keep in mind, as she did, that he is a professional killer and liar--and would do both again.)  This keeps her humane, yet growing in her job, and shows that she won't back down when others might.

She becomes more haggard, emotionally and psychologically, rather than physically; I didn't see it when another character comments about how she's looking like she's falling to pieces.  Frankly, Jessica Chastain never looks like she's falling to pieces.  If she lost an arm in a battle scene, she'd look beautiful doing it.   

(An aside here.  A friend disagreed with me about this, but it seemed unrealistic to me that not one single male commented to her character about how beautiful she is.  Now, I know that they were all professionals, and I know this is a no-nonsense movie directed by a very talented [and Oscar-winning] no-nonsense female director [Kathryn Bigelow], but it is not conceivable to me that not one single guy, in a male-dominated, stressful, testosterone-laden profession, would comment, lewdly or not, about how incredibly striking she is--especially given that Jessica Chastain is one of the most classically beautiful actresses to come along in quite some time, and also given that a large percentage of the shots of her in this movie are close-ups.  In short, her character did not hide her beauty [except to put on wigs to hide her red hair], and the camera constantly zoomed in to show it.  There, I said it.)

Anyway, though she gets emotionally and psychologically haggard, that seems more to do with the bureaucratic nightmare that is her job, rather than what she has to go through at her job.  This, despite the fact that she almost gets blown up in a restaurant (a very effectively shocking scene) and shot up in her car.  (Surprising that the shooters didn't wait just a few seconds longer for her there.)  But she does change, and not to the dismay, too much, of her (male) superiors.  They constantly comment on her intelligence, by the way (and she is very smart), but never once about...well, never mind.  Anyway, it gets to a point where she's writing in large red figures the number of days that have passed since she, in her opinion, positively proved where Usama bin Laden was (referred to as UBL frequently in the movie--not OBL, for those who called him Osama; keep that in mind when you hear the next Obama / Osama diatribe).  But finally she gets the deployment she's been asking for.

And what a sequence of montages that is, all of them sans Chastain's character, as the elite troops go in there, ostensibly to see what there is to see, as most of the people involved are not 100% sold on the fact that UBL was even there.  (The leader of this troop says he's still willing to go in only because of Chastain's character's bullheaded certainty.)  The scenes of how they (maybe?) did this are intense and gripping--again, despite the fact that you know how it's going to turn out.  This part of the movie alone is worth the price of admission, though it shouldn't be the only reason to see this film.

Now, back to the interrogation scenes.  One of the reasons I was hesitant to see this film is because I'd heard and read that it supposedly okayed the use of the torture that it depicts.  I don't necessarily agree with this.  Firstly, the characters clearly don't like what they're doing (the guy who's "good" at it is so disgusted by it that he leaves the area) and they know that Congressional leaders are talking about them doing it--and they know that they can't be the one caught with one of the instruments in hand.  This shows me that the movie-makers are showing that it was done, that the people didn't necessarily find joy in it (which would've been even more disturbing), and that...well, they got exactly the information they needed because of it.  If not seeing a character make a speech and take a moral stance against it means to you that the film-makers were condoning it, then you would think they were doing just that.  But, really, what they were doing is showing that it was done, and showing that nobody liked it, and showing that they knew they couldn't be caught doing it, and showing that it gave them the information that ultimately led them to bin Laden--all the while showing the reality of that whole situation.  If the movie-makers had taken a moral stance about it in this movie, that would've been completely out-of-line and unrealistic, considering what they were trying to do.  They were trying to show how one woman, and her colleagues, got the information that ultimately led them to bin Laden.  Period.  To see a film about the morality of that type of interrogation, you'll have to go elsewhere.  That particular criticism against this film is unfair and untrue.  They didn't sanitize and condone that type of interrogation.  They depicted it, and that's all.

The second reason I was hesitant to see this film is that James Gandolfini apologized for his portrayal of his character.  As I watched the film, I tried to figure out why, and by the end, I still hadn't figured it out.  I am still confused about this.  He's not in the film long enough to create a standing and unfading characterization, and his character doesn't say or do anything that would come close to needing an apology for.  He's not a weenie; he's not a blowhard; he's not too tough; he's not anything at all that would need an apology.  He questions whether Chastain's team ever agrees about anything, which is reasonable to do, because they don't agree about anything.  He questions whether anyone can concretely prove what they're asserting, which is appropriate, because they can't concretely prove what they're asserting--and they are not all, in fact, asserting the same thing, to the same degree.  He's a political businessman looking at the engineers of this thing, wondering if they're doing the right thing, wondering if he'll be doing the right thing--whether he agrees, as the CIA Director, to sell the plan to the President or not.  And he's clearly appreciating everybody while sort of shaking his head at them all at the same time--which, again, is completely appropriate for his character to do.  I don't know what Gandolfini was apologizing for, unless it was the hairjob, which was indeed terrible.  Other than that, I just don't know.

So that's it.  Sorry for the long review, but there was a lot to say because there was a lot to see.  And there's a whole lot to like, so go see this one.

P.S.--The Academy's snub of Bigelow for Best Director is much harder for me to digest than its snub of Ben Affleck, who also did a great directing job, but with immensely easier material to direct, for a movie that was much more of an actor's showcase, rather than a director's showcase, as Bigelow's film is.  This is one of the best-directed films I've seen in years (and I agree with a critic's announcement that it blows Argo out of the water, and I liked Argo), and is surely one of the best (if not the best) directed films of this year--in a year of many very well-directed films.  (I admittedly haven't seen Life of Pi yet, which is high on my list of things to do--but that film, from what I've read, is heavily CGI.)  This film was a better film, and a better-directed film, than Bigelow's own award-winning Hurt Locker, which I also liked a lot.  She has already won directing awards for this film from the New York's Film Critics Circle, as well as from similar circles from other cities.  (Affleck won the Director's Award.)  I'd have to say that she deserves the Oscar more than anyone nominated, which says a lot, since I love Spielberg's work, and he was brilliant enough to cast me in one of his films.  But this movie was better-directed, and much harder to direct, than Lincoln was.  I can only assume that her snub was due to the unwarranted political firestorm attached to this film.

Monday, February 25, 2013

2013 Academy Awards

photo: The Oscar statuette, or the Academy Award, but actually officially called the Academy Award of Merit, from

Not too much to say about this award show.  I saw most of the nominated films, including:

Prometheus, which I can't believe I never wrote a blog for.  Look for that blog entry after the next.

Skyfall, which will have an upcoming entry.

Zero Dark Thirty, which will be the subject of my next blog entry.

Lincoln (click the link for the blog entry)

Silver Linings Playbook (click the link for the blog entry)

Django Unchained (click the link for the blog entry)

Argo (click the link for the blog entry)

The Hobbit (click the link for the blog entry)

So I had a pretty good feel, for once, for the show, and who should win.  I haven't seen Life of Pi yet, or Amour, which may be way too depressing for me.  But just about everything else, so--

--Christoph Waltz over Tommy Lee Jones, in Lincoln, or Robert De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook?  Waltz, as I mentioned in the entry for the movie, essentially repeated his Inglorious Bastards role, this time with a conscience.  Jones ate scenery in Lincoln, as he does so often, and he's won twice (I think) before.  But De Niro was very un- De Niro in his role.  Both deserved it more than Waltz, who I like, by the way.  And Waltz has won for the same director, too.  Probably the one who deserved it most was Philip Seymour Hoffman, who did not repeat a role here, or play himself, which Alan Arkin basically did.  Seymour Hoffman played a cult leader, therefore having to act outside himself, but nobody saw this film, and those who did were sort of turned off in general.  Almost every prognosticator I read said he should win, but wouldn't.  Nobody picked Waltz.  This was a surprise.  Ultimately, of course, none of this matters.  Go see the films.

--Apparently, belting "Gold--FIN--GAH!!!" deserves a standing ovation.  Tripping up the stairs did, too.  But Massey and Lawrence handled themselves very well, and I was happy for their happiness.

--It would've been nice to see all the Bonds together, though I doubt Connery would've been willing to show up.  It wasn't quite the Bond celebration I was hoping for, or expecting.

--Hollywood showed its respect, big-time, for Tarantino.  Who's gotten very big, very fast, by the way.  And I'm talking, like, physically.

--I'm okay with Ang Lee winning Best Director, as he's a well-respected guy who's never gotten his due.  It doesn't matter to me because my pick would have been Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty.  The controversy centered around the non-nomination of Ben Affleck, but, as I mentioned in another entry, Bigelow had a much more challenging job with more difficult material to direct.  Probably Lee did, too, though the sheer amount of CGI in this film worries me a little.  But Life of Pi's cinematographer won, too, so maybe there wasn't as much CGI as I thought.  So I guess I'm okay with it, though again I see that Hollywood continues to give Spielberg the finger.

--Jennifer Lawrence's and Daniel Day-Lewis's wins were givens.  The surprise was that Day-Lewis was very amusing when accepting his award.  Lincoln himself may have had much more of a sense of humor than what I thought Day-Lewis had.  Speaking of Lawrence, she was the talk of the town at my job the day after the awards--for tripping up the stairs.

--As there is a separation of Church and State, maybe there should be a separation of Hollywood and State as well.  How starstruck do we want our politicians to be?  I like the Obamas, of course, but I don't know if I want the First Lady giving away the award for Best Picture.  Why couldn't Jack Nicholson have done it?

--Seth McFarlane did a good job when he didn't have the stars themselves in his cross-hairs.  The breast song was amusing, but probably a turn-off to the stars themselves, as was his Ben Affleck / Gigli comment to Affleck himself.  The Clooney joke fell flat to everyone, including Clooney, and I'll bet McFarlane was feeling the heat of those jokes, judging by the number of times he grimaced when he knew he was taking a chance with a joke.  But he was very breezy through most of it, and he gets away with a lot because of his natural demeanor, and smile.  Since the Awards ratings were up 19%, I'm guessing he'll be asked back next year.  But he'll have to lay off the comments at the stars themselves, and I'll bet many of them will not be happy to see him again.

--Argo winning for best picture, without being nominated for any acting or directing awards, smells to me like Hollywood awarding itself, as the movie could've been re-named How Hollywood Saved the Hostages.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Silver Linings Playbook

Photo: movie poster, from its Wikipedia page


[Note: The word "Crazies" here is used to denote the categorical, but not universal, behavior of the characters described, and the behavior of their real-life counterparts.  Never doubt that these behaviors cause these victims to suffer--especially when the self-realization and guilt hit.  These people are not crazy; they are ill.  They suffer, and they are victims--often of their own, often uncontrolled, behaviors.]


Can two Crazies fall in love?  And if they do, is it really love, or are they just crazy?  Do Crazies know what love is, or is what they think love is just more of the obsessive behavior that embodies their craziness?

And does it matter?  Luckily, no, not at all.  Not in this film.

Believe me, I know Crazies (not going to go there), and I assure you that they are very much like the characters played by Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro--and yet nothing like them at all.  Will they scream bloody murder at each other and slap each other in public?  Yes.  Will the girl scream that he's harassing her, in public?  Yes.  Will she then turn on the crowd and the cop who respond to her yelling?  Yes.  Will she then lie to save the guy who she's just lied about to begin with--all of this still in public?  Yes.  Because that's what Crazies do.

But will the cop--who happens to be assigned to the Bradley Cooper character--walk away from this like he does in the movie?  No.  No, he won't.  And now the Cooper character, in real life, would have violated his probation, or whatever, and that's the end.

And there are a million more examples of this throughout the movie, examples of how Cooper and Lawrence represent real-life Crazies, yet not, at the same time.  The brilliance of this movie--especially to those like me who have been there, and who have, finally, walked away from them, and who have survived the hurricane caused by the damaging winds of their illnesses and personalities--is that you don't care about the discrepancies.  Maybe most audience members will wonder how someone can stay around people who are as much of a live wire as these two are--and possibly that's a great question, even without having to deal with someone like the guy's father, who's a Crazy himself--but the reality is that you can, for reasons we won't go into.

Granted, Cooper's and Lawrence's characters have things going for them that most bipolar obsessives with anger-management issues and lots of self-hatred and self-defeating behaviors don't have going for them--namely, an avoidance of drugs and alcohol; an avoidance of really nasty characters who don't have an avoidance of drugs and alcohol; and a large-enough support group, which in this case consists of a bipolar, obsessive and angry father, a counselor who doesn't advise his clients not to go to professional sports games where there will most likely be lots of alcohol and fighting (and who shows up there himself), a rather straight-laced brother, and some friends who don't run away from them, although they do things like wake up their parents at 3 a.m., throw books out of windows at 3 a.m., walk out of social dinners in the middle of the dinner, and spout whatever's on their minds, at a million miles an hour, without a filtering system of any kind (Cooper's character).  Or, they do many of the above things, and sleep with the entire office and half the town on top of it (Lawrence's character).  These support groups don't leave because they, somehow, don't suffer from the antics of these characters.  In real life, they would leave because such characters, ultimately, and after possibly many years, leave them no other choice.  Everyone gets injured, but you wish them well.

But that's not the reality of the movie here, and by the end of it, despite all this, you're rooting for them despite yourself, because they are sweet, and endearing, and they mean well, which isn't exactly reality, either, but whatever.  You want it to be the reality, and so it is, at least for two hours.  And that's the genius of this film: That despite the (many) conventions, and despite the (many) breaks from reality, the writing and, especially, the acting--from Cooper, Lawrence and De Niro--are so outstanding that they draw you in, and you root for them, and when the two Crazies fall in love at the end (because Cooper's character walks away from his film-long obsession, which such a real-life person wouldn't do, or at least not without the emotional devastation that would accompany it), you buy it, and you forget that these people are suffering from an illness, because you like them so much that you don't want them to suffer from the illness anymore, and so they don't.  And they live life happily ever after, in each other's arms and in each other's laps.  Smiling, laughing, and drinking beer, which real-life bipolar victims and obsessives simply would not do, not if they ever wanted to recover, to manage their illness, and to live something close to a real life.

Happily, real life is not what this is, and you'll love it as I did, so go see it.  (And don't think too much of the title.)

P.S.--Normally I'd blanch at a movie that makes the thirty-seven year-old (Cooper's age at filming) main character fall in love with the twenty-one year-old (Lawrence's age at filming) love interest, and vice-versa.  But these characters are supposed to be ageless; you're not supposed to consider their ages just like you're not supposed to consider that real bipolar victims' lives don't (and won't) work out this way.  It's a fantasy movie in which such people could live like this, and suddenly reverse illness and behave like this, and fantasy characters are ageless.  Jennifer Lawrence's performance, surely one of the year's best, transcends her real age anyway, and she more than holds her own with De Niro, never mind Cooper.  If I hadn't just mentioned it, you might not have considered the ages until movie's end, anyway.  I didn't.

P.P.S.--This from the movie's Wikipedia page:

Robbie Collin of The Daily Telegraph . . . describes the lead character as a "rambling headcase", his mental illness passed off as a lovable quirk and complains that Tiffany's reasons for being interested in him are largely unexplored. [Jennifer Lawrence] does manage to create a complex character from thin material, but he criticizes Russell [David O. Russell, the director] for ogling her.

(Me again.) All true, but I disagree with Collin about one thing: none of it matters.  That's how good the film's suspension of disbelief is.  So go see it.  (But while watching, you can't help but notice how often the film's mise-en-scene is Lawrence's butt, or chest, mostly during the dance rehearsing scenes.  That did weird me out a tiny bit.)    

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

It's Been Awhile

photo: from the show's Wikipedia page

It's been ten days since the last post, and the reason for the absence, bottom line, is that I'm on vacation, so not spending too much time in front of the computer screen.  But now that I've had a moment, let's see what else has been going on:

--"Blade Runner" went from feel-good story to Batman villain faster than you can say, "Holy spring blades, Batman!"  I know that in America you're innocent until proven guilty, but, damn...and he's in South Africa, anyway.  I truly hate it when people you root for end up being like this.  Makes you cynical, and cynicism is not something I need more of.

--I was the host of a meeting with a few people and my councilman, of Ward 5.  Very interesting stuff, and I seem to be the de facto secretary of this group.  No problem.  Hey, at least I'm not the leader.  Nobody wants that.

--Lots of personal changes around here.  You'll just have to sit and wonder about that. Or not.

--I got another short story published, this one my first non-genre piece, which is really exciting.  It's not completely official, so more on this in a future post.  There was a very cool compliment given along the way, too, so more on that later, as well.

--It finally climbed above thirty-two degrees here, so the feet of snowdrifts can melt.  Can you say "coastal flooding?"  I knew you could.  But not here (knocks on wood).  I'm perched atop a hill.  And, no, it's not because I look down on everybody.

--Jackson, the Wonderdog, seems to have gotten a bit better.  We'll find out for sure during the appt. on Thursday.  (Knocks on wood again.)

--A sad note: a member of my former (?) writer's group very suddenly passed away in his sleep a few days ago, age 62.  A very good writer of nonfiction, a la Russell Baker, and a quiet-spoken guy who apparently had done a lot of things with his life.  I didn't know him extremely well, not well enough to know if he had any health issues, but still...You just never know.

--On the flip side, Spring Training started, and all players have now reported.  Soon the ballplayers will waste about a month of their time so that southern cities and towns can make mucho dollars off of them.  This time of year is only necessary for veterans to get back into shape (which they should've been in already), and for rookies and mid-level players to show their stuff in hopes of making the team.  For the established stars?  Not much to do.

--Of course, I'd drive down there right now to just play in an intra-squad game.

--Walking Dead has returned, and it has not disappointed thus far.  I'm still trying to figure out how they're getting away with so much language, violence and gore on a channel that's not a pay station.  And I'm looking forward to seeing it in black-and-white.

--The Following isn't bad, either, though the acting and directing probably make it better than it really is.  I mean, how many times can Ryan go back into the house of a witness as that person is being attacked by someone nobody knew was a follower while the entire police department mills around uselessly outside?  This show will decline rapidly if it doesn't start showing why some people become followers of such a person to begin with.  And it's not a good sign when the scariest villain is a young woman, who sorta looks like a guy, and who weighs maybe 70 pounds while holding a 50 pound weight.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Surviving Nemo

Photo: Movie's poster from Finding Nemo's Wikipedia page.

Some quick notes about life throughout the storm, a continuation of the previous blog entry here:

--One of the scarier moments of my life happened about four hours ago.  I let the dog out in the backyard (he kept me up by whining every four hours throughout the night, including about half an hour ago, when he had to go out again) and I put jacket, gloves, etc. on to shovel off the landing and steps so he could go out easier and so I could open the door with no problem.  I do this for a few seconds and he comes back to go in.  I let him in and close the door so I can do a thorough job.  Takes me maybe a minute, minute and a half.  I open the door to go in--and it won't open.  Looks like the thing you depress as part of the handle is frozen.  No problem, I think, I'll just chip away at the ice with the sharp, axe-like ice-breaker--though I'm wearing jeans, jacket, sneakers and gloves, with nothing at all in my pockets, including keys, and the wind's howling and it's freezing and it's 4 a.m.  (And I clasped the screen door shut on the front door, so I couldn't go around and enter that way even if I did have my keys on me.)  I chip away at it and I'm able to press it in--and it still doesn't open.  I begin to worry, as it occurs to me that I don't want to have to make an ass out of myself by going indoors at a neighbor's.  I think that maybe the metal bottom is frozen to the wooden platform, as I notice, finally, that the black strip has partially come off because it stuck to the ground as I opened the door.  (This happened to the strip at the bottom of my garage door two winters ago.)  So I hack away at the bottom of the door, even after I see that all the ice is gone.  Try again.  Nothing.  By this time I have frantically pulled at the door so hard that it should've come off its hinges, and I've noticed that the door doesn't even open a tiny bit.  Doesn't budge.  Finally I figure I may as well destroy the screen door, as I have a strong, thick wooden one behind it, and I so I wedge the ice-breaker between the door and its siding, where the tumbler would insert into the side, like I was trying to break into a locked door.  Nothing.  Then I insert the ice-breaker in between the door and the siding, thinking that I'll just pry the damn thing open, damaging it, but what the hell.  After a few minutes of this, it opens, and the door and siding don't seem to be injured.  The damn thing just froze against the siding, I guess.  I scrape away all the tiny bits of ice and snow all around the door and casing, and call it a night until my dog awoke me again four hours later.  I am now up for the day, and he'll sleep peacefully until about 2pm.  Total time thinking I was locked out to freeze: about half an hour.  I was cold.

--I lost power for about thirty seconds once, and for about a second to half-a-second maybe twenty times--thereby interrupting twenty phone conversations and making my Fios re-download itself twenty times--but I never did lose power.  Never thought I'd say this, but three cheers for the power company.

--The plow came by maybe seven or more times throughout the night and overnight, and only once did he plow the snow to my side of the street.  Hooray for me, but my neighbors have an impenetrable wall of snow in front of their driveways.  I'd help them out, but I don't have a snowblower.  I think another family member has it, and he lives in an apartment, and his gal pal lives in a condo.  Hmmmmm....

--Is this a named storm, or what?  Weather channel and say Yes, but NBC National News and my local NBC News say No.  Makes sense to name them.  If it's called the Blizzard of 2013, a la The Blizzard of '78, what happens if there's another one this year?  I'm just sayin'.

--I might actually be stupid enough to attempt to shovel out my driveway and steps myself--in shifts, of course.  I mean, what else could I do today for exercise?  I've got a friend of mine willing to plow me out and shovel off my sidewalks and steps for just $40, but that's after he's done all of his other rounds, as he lives down the street but has to travel as far as East Providence.  I don't know if I'm comfortable knowing I can't get my car out of the garage in case of an emergency before then.  Besides, I like the outdoors, even in a frozen winter.  My sinuses prefer it, big time, and the stain smell in here is still getting to me a little, though not as much as last night.  And, as I mentioned before, I think if I tried to open the garage doors now, the bottoms will come off again, being frozen to the ground.  We'll see.

--The snowing has mostly stopped, though it's still a little windy.  Looks like Snowmageddon out there.  But '78 was worse, as were the back-to-back-to-back Nor'easters we got in the mid-90s during April Fool's week.  About 70" of snow in maybe five days that week.  I know; I was out in it.

--If I saw someone walking outside right now, wearing short-sleeves and jeans or shorts, I'd think he was the Devil going for a stroll.  Speaking of which, if there was an evil thing lurking in our midst, this would be a good time for him to make an appearance, maybe more out in the rural areas, like Exeter.  Cuz my mind works that way.

--This is a good day to test the Post Office's "In rain, snow, sleet or hail" motto.

--My mailbox isn't covered like it had been in the 90s and in '78.  But I still have to shovel that out.

--I'm surprised I never lost power.  And grateful.  All my candles are in this really old commode (Don't laugh; it's made of wood, and has a giant mirror attached to the back, and where the slop bucket would go now is a very handy storage area, and it's in very good condition.  And it's actually my aunt's and uncle's, but they're awesome enough to let me keep it here until they say otherwise.), which is down here, but it has piles of the rest of my upstairs on it, and I have nowhere to put those things to get to it.  (In my previous post, I explained that I'm having all the upstairs floors sanded, stained and polyed.)

--I went through hundreds of batteries last night and found that maybe nine work.  But that was enough for two flashlights, plus another one I know is good that I can't find.  Total stash if I lose electricity: one flashlight from the 70s that, oddly, has a strong magnet on it, in case I want to attach it to my fridge, or something; a small flashlight that has a white light, a blue-ish light, should I ever have to track the Predator; and a red laser beam, if I ever need to assist a sniper.  And two and a half candles, including one tall one in a candle-holder with a handle that Dickens might've walked around with.  And a tiny one in a glass teardrop thing that looks very old. 

--And a ton of firewood for a ton if fires in my fireplace, had it come to that, though I wonder if I could have opened the metal grates at the top of the chimney with that much snow and ice on it.

--And a back-up generator that I stupidly put in the garage, where I would have to fight my way to since a lot of my upstairs is in the garage, and the automatic garage door opener wouldn't have worked if I'd lost power.  If I was lucky enough to somehow be able to manually open the door, I wouldn't be able to wheel the thing through 20" of snow to the backdoor, where it'd be closest to the fridge, and where I could use a squid and connect it to this laptop and to a couple of lights, and maybe to my electric stove.  Nope.  I would've had to leave it in the garage, with the door open all night for all the mice and other rodents and animals in the state to come in (so there'd be no carbon monoxide problem), and find maybe fifty feet of extension cords to hook it up to anything.  Jerk that I am.  So, power company, thank you again.  (Never thought I'd say that twice.)

--I need a snowblower.  But I'm over it.  I like being old-fashioned, but...

--Took some really good pics last night, as I was shoveling after the one time the plow pushed the snow to my side.  Figured I should get rid of the wall of ice and snow so my friend could plow me out later.  Why make him go through that, and maybe ruin his plow?  But I'm curious as to how he's going to get through the solid wall of ice and snow on the other side of the street, because I think the old ladies who live there (who're in Florida right now, because with age comes wisdom) pay him to do so for big storms.  He might have to snowblow that first.  I'd do that for him, but...I'm over it.

--I think I will be like the hard-working folks of old, before all this new-fangled technology, and go out and shovel the driveway and walks--in shifts, of course.  Snowblower?  Who needs a snowblower?

--Or a wheelbarrow?  

Friday, February 8, 2013

As I Watch Nemo Fall

Photo: Captain Nemo planting his personal flag on a cliff of Antarctica, from the first edition of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

There won't be much to do in the next few days, besides shoveling, so I thought I'd keep a running blog entry during that time.  I'll publish it when I'm done, for now,  but it might get longer as I include more over the next few days.  So, for now:

--Expected accumulation by the time Nemo leaves late Saturday: 18" to 24" minimum, with huge drifts and hurricane-force winds.  Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice.....

--I've just shoveled off the sidewalk and steps leading up to the front door, and the back door landing and steps to let the dog out--and I almost need to do it again already.  That's not good.

--You remember the first Die Hard movie?  Remember when Alan Rickman is approached by Bonnie Bedelia, John McClane's (Bruce Willis's) wife, as he's sitting in her office, when she asks for the couch for the pregnant woman, and she suggests they bring them in groups to the bathroom?  You ever notice that he's leaning over her desk, writing something with a heavy pen, that makes an obvious sound on paper when he releases it to sit down and talk with her?  Well, I have to ask: What the hell could he have been writing?  They memorably don't make any ransom demands.  They don't communicate in writing to anybody.  And he looks like a professional businessman in his suit, anyway, but he never does any other professional businessman thing.  I can see the director, John McTiernan (who's in jail for lying to the FBI about illegal wire-tapping he had done to some producers and stars), saying, "All right, he's got to be doing something when she walks in, so he can stop doing whatever that is when he asks, 'And what idiot put you in charge?' and she says, 'You did, when you killed my boss...'  I know--let's have him writing something..."  Check it out if you don't remember it.  Weird.

--Wind's picking up, as is the rate the snow is falling, and it's still two hours from when the weather folks said it would really come down over here.

--The backup generator is in the garage, as it wouldn't have done me any good in the shed, if I can't get at it with two to three feet of snow on the ground.  I went to the gas station, which was surprisingly not busy, and got three gallons of gas to run it.  I got new bulbs for the bathroom, and I got enough cereal and salad to last a few days.  I've even picked out which marathons I'll watch: The American Horror Story for this year.  I have seven episodes backed up on my DVR.  If I need more, The Lord of the Rings movies, back to back to back.

--But what simple thing didn't I do?  Forgot to check if my batteries all worked.  Since my entire upstairs is downstairs in the kitchen, in the two rooms downstairs, and in the basement, I'll be lucky to find them and get to them anyway.

--Speaking of that, one of the handymen is staining my upstairs floors as I type this, having already sanded all of the upstairs yesterday, and moved all of the upstairs downstairs the day before that.  Yup, he's working his butt off as I sit here and type this and sip my coffee.  I respect myself for that.

--The plow just went by, pushing a few inches of snow aside.  And it hasn't really even started falling yet.  Yeeeeeeeeeeeesh.....

--I should check the mail now, or I won't again until Monday.  Be right back...

--Just the mortgage.  You pay it early, they bill ya early for next time.  Thanks.

--Just opened the windows in the living room and kitchen, as the stain smell is getting to me.  I put the sawdust-covered dustpan out in the snow to let Mother Nature wash it off.  The brush, too.  Why clog up my sink with that stuff?

--I fully expect my pool to collapse with over two feet of snow and ice on it, especially after it starts to melt, as water is much heavier.  The lining has a leak in it, so most of the water drained out of it awhile ago, and the cover almost touches the bottom of the pool as it is, so I expect the snow, ice or water, or any combination, to break through the cover.  Then the ice will expand and collapse the siding, and then down she goes.

--The wind and snow have picked up even more.

--One of the houses across the street is in really bad shape, and it's been empty for a long time now.  And it's got a flat roof.  I wonder if the roof can take a few feet of snow.  (Mine had better.)

--I've seen a lot of oil trucks delivering around here.  Not a bad idea, before those folks run out of oil as they're snowbound, and now without heat, for a couple of days.

--There's one spot on my street, where a pine or spruce tree hangs over the street a bit, that's completely free of snow.  I've decided that that's where I'll stand if I want to watch the blizzard, when the wind and snow really pick up.  Of course, that's when the branches will drop all their snow on me, and I'll freeze to death, a la "To Build A Fire."

--Yeah, I do that.  I go outside and watch storms.  Hurricanes, gales, windy thunder- and lightning-storms, and blizzards.  I have a favorite spot out on my shed porch in the backyard for doing such things, but right now that space is filled up with piles of wood, because I'm a wood hoarder.  Lots of fires in firepits and fireplaces, though that's not wise during the actual storms.  Just later, when you've lost power and you don't have your heat working.

--The three wires connecting my house to the telephone pole across the street look like they want to snap right now, and the real storm and winds haven't even started yet.  I'd better finish this up before they do snap and I lose all my