Friday, December 25, 2009

Not a Creature - cat or dog - was Stirring

Sadie was the last to settle in as Spencer was already curled up like a little spotted snake. Merry Christmas!

Christmas Angels

Last night on Christmas Eve, Sadie and Spencer both curled up into a conjoining fur ball. Said was on look-out of course since there is always a chance one may drop a colorful or tasty holiday snack on the rug.

Monday, December 21, 2009

"Man Who Came to Dinner" Facts and Fun

Man Who Came to Dinner (1942) trailer.

Monty Woolley was the witty, fussy Nathan Lane of his day. He originated the role of Sheridan Whiteside on the stage before taking the role in the film. Nice when an excellent character actor is allowed to play the lead role. Two other Christmas/Family themed films that he is also excellent in are:

Since You Went Away (1944)
The Bishops Wife (1947)

Great quotes (too many to list) from Dinner:

Nurse Preen to Mr. Whiteside: "I am not only walking out on this case, Mr. Whiteside, I am leaving the nursing profession. I became a nurse because all my life, ever since I was a little girl, I was filled with the idea of serving a suffering humanity. After one month with you , Mr. Whiteside, I am going to work in a munitions factory. From now on , anything I can do to help exterminate the human race will fill me with the greatest of pleasure. If Florence Nightingale had ever nursed YOU, Mr. Whiteside, she would have married Jack the Ripper instead of founding the Red Cross!"

Sheridan Whiteside: "I simply will not sit down to dinner with midwestern barbarians, I think too highly of my digestive system."

Sheridan Whiteside: "Is there a man in the world who suffers as I do from the gross inadequacies of the human race?"

Glittered Bird Tree Top

The tree themed in golden ornaments is topped with a collection of glittered birds. They surround a nest of eggs. One is is covered in gold glass glitter - the golden egg. Velvety faux oak leaves and acorns encircle the nest.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Actress Jennifer Jones Dies at 90

Portrait of Jennie (1948) with Joseph Cotton.

From IMDB:
Unfortunately now in the 21st Century and in her 90th year, Jennifer Jones is relatively unknown in comparison to the other actresses of her time such as Ingrid Bergman, Katharine Hepburn, Greer Garson, Bette Davis etc. But for those that are aware of her and her extraordinary talent she is alluring to watch and her acting abilities extend far greater than most of her contemporaries

Movies, NY TIMES
Jennifer Jones, Postwar Actress, Dies at 90
Published: December 18, 2009
Ms. Jones, who was nominated for Oscars five times, won an Academy Award in 1943 for her performance in “The Song of Bernadette.”

The fact that the Times refers to her as a Postwar actress reaffirms her forgotten status as a Hollywood star.

The comedy-melodrama that got away.

In 1981 she purchased the rights to the novel, Terms of Endearment, as a vehicle for her. She wished to re-afirm her acting talents with the juicy role of Aurora Greenway . She was planning her comeback. However, through Hollywood politics she did not end in in the film nor did she ever find another suitable property. Shirley MacLaine would win an Oscar for the role of Aurora Greenway in James L. Brooks Best Picture winner.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Holiday Bulb Forcing Update

The paperwhites are racing ahead as we close in on Christmas day. The amaryllis bulbs are proceeding much slower than previous years. I planted them all on November 22, 2009.The terracotta - the nursery believes - isabsorbing too much moisture from the dirt and suggested increased watering. The red flowers could just be holding out for a patriotic holiday like President's Day in February. See progress so far.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dachshund Glass Martha Stewart Ornament

The ornament collection by Martha Stewart available at Macy's is now in its third year. The collection has decreased in scale and size with each subsequent year. Many factors - most notably the crash and burn economy that hit months before last Xmas - have come in to play. Very few Macy's carried them in the North Atlantic region. This was also the first year that none of the collection was available through online purchase. One of the two tree's was themed in Santa and items from his toy bag. For obvious reasons, I was fond of the glass toy dachshund on wheels ornament with a springy tail. The design is a nice mixture of novelty and realism. The other themed tree from here collection I found in New England featured white, wintry woodland creatures and elements.

Friday, December 11, 2009

"The Mouse that Roared" Airs Saturday 8 PM EST on TCM

I hope to catch it!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Christmas Favorite: "Christmas in Connecticut"

I catch at least a glimpse of this Stanwyck gem around this time each year. After seeing Remember the Night for the first time, I now know this is not her only holiday classic. Stanwyck plays a Martha Stewart type living in New York writing for a ladies magazine all about domestic bliss. The catch is that she knows nothing about cooking, cleaning or marriage. Comedy ensues when she fakes her expertise for her boss and a homesick soldier on her borrowed farm.

Cranberry Mold: A Success Story / Blooms in Waiting

I blogged about the purchase of this mold back in November. I followed the instructions for un-molding and it jiggled out to freedom on the dinner table.

A selection of bulbs prepare to awake from a dormant slumber. The collection populates a rectangular drip tray to protect the wood top of the buffet.

The week before Thanksgiving I potted a selection of paper whites and amaryllis bulbs to - hopefully - bloom in time for the holidays. I will update their progress. I have had success with bulb forcing in the past. They do grow faster when you plant in a decorative glass vessel resting on a collection of stones or river pebbles. Water level should be just to the bottom to allow roots to sprout and not begin the process of rot. This year I planted most of them in a mixture of peat/potting soil and finished the pots with mood moss. Amaryllis bulbs can last 40 years with proper care and patience. The Guy Wolf pottery mossed over nicely this summer outside. The large center pot looks like it was procured from an old English garden.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Front Door Wreath 2009 / "Radio Days" 1987

A close up view of the this year's front door Christmas wreath, featuring a ring of pine cones and a simple ribbon. I purchased both the wreath and the spool of ribbon from Mahoney's. The bear door knocker is nicely framed by the round form.

Radio Days 1987

The Woody Allen brand does not always entice me to watch but Radio Days was worth the time investment. I also tend to enjoy the ones better that (a.) he is not in and only performs behind the camera (b.) he is not dating women several generations his junior ( in this case his absence solved (b.)). The era and tone go well with the warm nostalgia feelings the holidays raise from the ashes of cynicism. On that note, I will allow today's blog to conclude since I can offer nothing else as profound or moving. Susan may believe in Santa Clause but I don't necessarily believe in my ramblings. I think I may be a tad full of myself today.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Recently Watched on TCM

A Family Affair, the first (and the best) movie in the Andy Hardy series. It is easy to forget that Lionel Barrymore was an excellent "good guy" too and not just mean Mr. Potter from It's a Wonderful Life.

I put Random Harvest up there with Now Voyager which also has an implausible story that sweeps you away. This is Hollywood sentiment at its best.

TCM teamed up with Universal to dig Remember the Night, a mostly forgotten 1940 release from the vault. A nice Christmas movie written by Preston Sturges. Farmhand (Sterling Holloway)singing in this clip would latter be the Disney voice of Winnie the Pooh. TCM's Robert Osborne on Night, "Bless the moviemakers of that era, they weren't afraid to be sentimental on occasion."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

On this rock, a myth was built

In Provincetown, chipping at Plymouth’s Pilgrim preeminence
By David Filipov
Globe Staff / November 22, 2009

Anything Goes / Cole Porter /1934

Times have changed,
And we've often rewound the clock,
Since the Puritans got a shock,
When they landed on Plymouth Rock.
If today,
Any shock they should try to stem,
'Stead of landing on Plymouth Rock,
Plymouth Rock would land on them.

In olden days a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking,
But now, God knows,
Anything Goes.

Good authors too who once knew better words,
Now only use four letter words
Writing prose, Anything Goes.

The world has gone mad today
And good's bad today,
And black's white today,
And day's night today,
When most guys today
That women prize today
Are just silly gigolos
And though I'm not a great romancer
I know that I'm bound to answer
When you propose,
Anything goes

When grandmama whose age is eighty
In night clubs is getting matey with gigolo's,
Anything Goes.

When mothers pack and leave poor father
Because they decide they'd rather be tennis pros,
Anything Goes.

If driving fast cars you like,
If low bars you like,
If old hymns you like,
If bare limbs you like,
If Mae West you like
Or me undressed you like,
Why, nobody will oppose!
When every night,
The set that's smart
Is intruding in nudist parties in studios,
Anything Goes.

The world has gone mad today
And good's bad today,
And black's white today,
And day's night today,
When most guys today
That women prize today
Are just silly gigolos
And though I'm not a great romancer
I know that I'm bound to answer
When you propose,
Anything goes

If saying your prayers you like,
If green pears you like
If old chairs you like,
If back stairs you like,
If love affairs you like
With young bears you like,
Why nobody will oppose!

And though I'm not a great romancer
And though I'm not a great romancer
I know that I'm bound to answer
When you propose,
Anything goes...
Anything goes!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Two New England Literary Lions Reside on My Nightstand

Image wraps around book's dust jacket. Inside flap is void of description.

Books of The Times
Stephen King’s Latest Cast Feels Real
Published: November 12, 2009
“Under the Dome” gravely threatens Stephen King’s status as a mere chart-busting pop cultural phenomenon.

I have not picked up a novel by King in some time. The review refers to his book, On Writing, that was a straightforward account of the writing process - a writing manual that was an informative, entertaining read. His subject and tone should be a nice contrast to the red and green festive seasons close at hand.

So, first book on my nightstand is set in Maine.

Books of The Times
Father and Son in a Vortex of Chaos
Published: October 27, 2009
“Last Night in Twisted River” showcases all of John Irving’s biggest liabilities, but evolves into a deeply felt and moving story.

And the second book on my nightstand (and on commute home because it is not cinder block size like King's latest) is centered in New Hampshire.

Interesting line that caught my eye on pages 48-49: "He was so unflinchingly calm that he radiated a kind of acceptance that could easily be mistaken for pessimism."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What a hoot! Owl checks out Faneuil Hall - Local News Updates - The Boston Globe

James Egan of Egan Acres Tree Farm took this picture of the feathered visitor. Egan recently worked on the big Christmas tree at the marketplace for nearly an hour before realizing he had company, perched just five feet away. (Boston Globe, November 19, 2009)

What a hoot! Owl checks out Faneuil Hall - Local News Updates - The Boston Globe

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Kate Hudson in "Nine", Movies

Kate Hudson always bares a striking resemblance of her famous mom, Goldie Hawn but after seeing preview to Nine - I would say she is channeling her mom's Laugh In days down to the outfit and the moves. The film appear to be an energizing, impressive confection for adult audiences this holiday season.

Three movies in three separate genres include nine in their titles this year.

District 9

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ring Cranberry Mold | Williams-Sonoma

Ring Cranberry Mold Williams-Sonoma

I purchased one of these over the weekend thinking I may take my cranberry dish up a notch this year. The mold comes with a recipe that includes using Williams-Sonaoma Apple-Orange Cranberry Relish. Should the un-molding process prove tricky, I will simply use my back-up canned cranberry sauce and watch it jiggle in all its cylindrical canned glory.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Roaring Twenties, 1939 James Cagney

Last night on TCM. A better example of a gangster film and from the golden year of 1939. A veteran reporter wrote the story based on actual events with details changed. It moves very fast and gives a very detailed portrayal of Prohibition era booze making and marketing. Gladys George portrays a well worn woman being the best lady she can be. I want to find more of her work.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

NYT The Puppy Diaries

The Puppy Diaries
Scout Takes a Splash
Published: November 2, 2009 / The New York Times
Some people swim with dolphins. I swim with dogs.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Vistit to Acadia National Park 10/27/09

Picking a nice day to go off-season was like having the whole park to ones self. Maine also has a couple of great classical music radio stations, which make for a perfect soundtrack. I must purchase a better camera.

Yes, Martin and Baldwin are older Oscar hosts.

Yes, Martin and Baldwin are older Oscar hosts. But this won’t affect ratings.

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Oscar hosts are confirmed. The two star in a new film due out Christmas. They must have good chemistry and the Academy must be wishing for a hit.

To keep track of the Oscar horse race visit Awards Circuit.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween 2009

Kitchen Fireplace Halloween 2009
Originally uploaded by Chadwick Land

Never know what you might find waiting for you in a large kitchen fireplace. Never know. The season passed too quickly but closed with a balmy Saturday Halloween.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How They Made "Where the Wild Things Are" Real

Where The Wild Things Are director Spike Jonze comparing concept art for "Ira" to the clay maquette built by the Jim Henson Creature Workshop. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

Vanity Fair features a post on the construction of the costume/puppets for Spike Jonze adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are. I saw the film in IMAX over the weekend and had mixed feelings about the overall film. However, the choice not to simply CGI the monsters was an excellent decision. They used technology, craft, performance, and artistry to make the beasts live and breath. The films tone and mood produce an overall bleak take on childhood. The childhood imagination is not presented here as a method to escape ones every day life. In the short term, there is an escape but all the reality of life seeps back in clouding the euphoric feeling an ordinary Disney ending would leave one with. Voice actors for the monsters were a well chosen eclectic bunch.
PS: Never sit closer than the middle of the theater for an IMAX presentation. Twice I have been seated too close and twice I have felt nauseous afterwards.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Forgot Sadie's Water Bowl

In a pinch, letting her drink from my hand did the job since I forgot her fold-up travel bowl. She, of course, did not mind the extra personal touch. It snowed here last night for three hours. The entire yard was covered in a thin layer of snow last night. What have I done to deserve such an early reminder of the winter months to come? People already have on gloves and winter coats. I flat out refuse to take such measures in October.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wishing for Sunshine

Last weekend we had wonderful October weather. Today it is rainy, cold and no chance of sunshine. The change of seasons is harder this year. Of course, next weekend could be beautiful. Here is Sadie bounding up and down the beach - in beautiful sunshine from a week ago.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Happy Feet, Soaking up Fall Sunshine (while we can)

A must have for a long walk along the beach is a bag full of stashed dog treats, water, toys to fetch and a leash. Also, included were people snacks too. We have already had the heat on for a few nights. I hope to have a temperature rebound. Summer was too short. A long gradual cooling down fall is what I wish for.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sadie visits Cranes Beach, Ibswich, MA

On Sunday, Sadie made a full day of it running, digging and looking for horse pooh between the shore and the dunes at Cranes Beach. Thankfully, she found none of the latter. She slept all the way home in the car.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dachshund Featured in Berkeley Breathed's New Book

Flawed Dogs: The Novel features Sam, a dachshund with a messing leg.

Breathed of Bloom County (remember Opus and Bill the Cat) fame reveals the true flaw:

So in this world
Of the simple and odd,
The bent and plain,
The unbalanced bod,
The imperfect people
And differently pawed,
Some live without love...

That's how they're flawed.

Flawed Dogs, Berkeley Breathed 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009

Today's Workout

Despite the damp, rainy fall weather, I found my way through the front door of the gym today and did the following:

arms, chest, abs

Ding! Ding! Ding! Made it three days during the working week so far. Good feeling.

"The Office" Wedding

"As you’ll all remember, this summer, the world was subjected to a terrifying wedding video where an out-of-touch, but clearly-having-fun couple turned their wedding processional into a dance party, soundtracked by the Chris Brown song “Forever.” If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you lived in a hole this past summer — or never visited YouTube, turned on a morning show, etc. The situation was, in my opinion, the most desperate, disgusting, faux fun thing of ALL TIME! Which, naturally, is exactly the currency The Office trades in. Like Jim, I should have seen this one coming." EW Tanner Stransky, Oct 9, 2009

I lived in a hole this past summer! But here is the video in case link above does not take you there.

"Out of touch but clearly having fun" is the best description. The Office did a nice send up of the "wedding dance". Bad news is that there will be those who must imitate this on their special day and cast it with a motley group of two left feet owning friends and relatives - longing to release their inner Martha Graham/Bob Fosse.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Today's Workout

Walking with a friend to the gym can be the motivation one needs to not fall off the wagon.

Legs, glutes, abs, lower back

More on Gourmet's Good Bye

Dining & Wine, NY Times
Closing the Book on Gourmet
Published: October 7, 2009

"Killing Gourmet and keeping Bon Appétit may have made business sense for Condé Nast. But to the food elite, it felt like a gut punch."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Halloween Ephemera Vintage and New

A collection of old and new Halloween ephemera

I themed the display around black cats in various shapes and costumes. The cat in the pirate costume is on of my favorites. Better photos may be ahead this year. Sorry for the quality.

Vintage Trick or Treat bags


Missed a bunch lately. But not today!

chest, arms, back, abs

Gourmet Magazine is History

"The forces assembled against print media scored a big scalp on Monday when Condé Nast announced that Gourmet magazine was finished. The 68-year-old foodie look book will close after the publication of its November issue, although the title will live on in books and on TV shows and some of its content will be folded into" Time, October 5, 2009

I was not a subscriber but picked up an issue now and again for special occasions or to prepare for the end-of-year holidays/celebrations. Pick-up the November issue for all your Thanksgiving planning.

Gourmet's Tribute Links:

Gourmet's Favorite Cocktails: 1941-2009
Gourmet's Favorite Cookies: 1941-2009

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Halloween Crepe Paper Curtins

Boo Perfect Paper Curtains

Made of black crepe paper (no longer just for prom and local parade floats), the curtains ad a bit of an ominous touch even to a yellow tinted room. I did these a few years back in the old apartment. They work best with windows with no coverings or with blinds hung inside the frame/molding. The stretchy quality of crepe paper is more forgiving than traditional tissue paper. Use double sided tape to attach them to window frame. Transfer tape would also work. This is a very inexpensive way to add more gloom to your Halloween festivities. I used the edges of different sized plates and saucers to create the scallops. To match the ones on the end, I cut out the first one then traced the outline onto the second one. Folding paper in half will also produce mirror images. If you have ebony hued furniture they create a dramatic mood.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Martha Stewart Witch Silhouette for the Yard

New Martha Stewart Holidays Yard Decor.

Grandin Road's new line of Halloween decor and decorations inspired by ideas and products featured on the pages of Martha Stewart Living is now available. I picked up the witch and cat silhouettes for the yard. They are from October 2005 issue of Living. I had thought about making them but never came back to the idea. However, they look creepy perfect with a hint of sophistication. The witch comes in several pieces and the broom and lantern, which she wields, come in a separate shipper. The cats (three, sold as set) each arrive in two pieces with detachable tails.

The construction is mostly superior. A few pre-drilled screw holes were missing on the back of the witch but I easily took care of the problem. There is a hinged slot that connects to a support on the back to keep the tall witch from blowing over. The hing is not the best quality but is doing the job so far. She has four ground stakes the keep her upright. All screws, blots and a tiny Phillips screw driver are included. I will post photos of her in a few days. Sadie barked at the cats the first couple of times she encountered their arched backs and frightened tails.

Product Details:
Constructed from heavy-duty plywood
Painted with a rich, black, water-resistant finish
Sturdy ground stakes keep each piece secure and steady
Easy to assemble with just a screwdriver (included)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Unlikely Animal BFF on NGC

Unlikely Animal Friends on National Geographic Channel

Animals have the most interesting, entertaining lives ever.

Retailers deck the halls while calendar says early fall - The Boston Globe

Retailers deck the halls while calendar says early fall - The Boston Globe

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Article explains the rationale to early holiday merchandise sightings. Someone is actually buying the stuff now. However, I agree - as much as I like the holidays - Christmas tree displays leave me a little empty as I begin to enjoy fall apples and pumpkins. Target has some holiday decorations out adjacent to Halloween candy and skulls. The holly and the ivy don't mix so well and are more off putting than the bare, distressed skulls.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Gearing Up for Halloween / Opperation Create Faux Tombstones

I begin decorating for Halloween this weekend and wish to have some photos to show soon. My biggest goal is to make fake tombstones for the yard based on ones from New England cemeteries. The earliest ones from the 1600s are very Edger Allen Poe-ish with sculls and images of the angel of death. Speaking of Poe, I do have some "Nevermore" ravens to festoon the house with.

Here is the tombstone idea I hope to accomplish this frightful season. I took a quick field trip to a Salem, MA cemetery this past Saturday and took a few quick inspiring refrence photos.

Gym Workout

Sadly, was sidetracked by a lingering cold. I told myself I was being kind by not going to gym coughing and sneezing on everyone. Still felt guilt.

focused on:
chest, back, abs, Swiss ball

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sadie as a Puppy

Puppies always seem to lighten the mood. With anger rising up even through the most esteemed ranks, sharing a puppy photo on TGIF seemed the thing to do. She loved her crate as a puppy. She no longer loves the crate and prefers my bed. The expression is misleading. One can read it as discontent of living life behind bars. This is actually the way she looks when she is contented. Big soulful brown puppy eyes are very persuasive.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The OH Lantern Family / 80s Halloween Fun

Six of the eight family members make a creepy, fun display on top of the wardrobe.

Image from the original hang tag that identifies each ghoulish family member.

Released in the fall of 1987, the OH Lantern family, created by special effects wizard Todd Masters, quickly flew off the shelves and racked up $6-million in national sales. They were only sold in gift shops and specialty stores for $9.95 each. The original release consisted of eight family members. In 1988, they also released a baby line of pumpkins that were less detailed and not as successful. The patriarch of the family - of course - is Jack OH Lantern. All members have individual names and biographies printed on their hang tags.

The pumpkins are made of a nerf type of foam that was injected into individual molds. The material allows for numerous details and wrinkles. Mold line clean up varies from pumpkin to pumpkin. They must be stored with care to keep them from being crushed by long term storage. I wrap mine in acid free tissue paper and do not crush them to preserve every toothless grin.

Spanish and other types of moss create a nice base for the spooky pumpkin patch display. Build up the area underneath the moss with blocks of floral foam or boxes to create depth and height. The decade old invasion of faux crows, ravens and buzzards onto the Halloween decorating scene provide additional creepy pumpkin patch props. Fake spiderwebs drape easily acroos the crowns of dead cone flowers inserted into the floral foam. They continue to provide seasonal fun 22 years latter.

Draining the color from the photo produces a sinister effect.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fitness Training

Meanwhile back at the gym...

time: one hour
workout: legs, back, abs and squats.

Civility can be Worth the Effort

Recently there has been much chatter about the good manners and the respect one should share with both the opposition and the home team. My posts sometimes have a snarky (blogger dictionary does not recognize the word) quality despite the fact I genuinely wish to keep to an "accentuate the positive" and "eliminate the negative" frame of mind.

Some that criticize the public for becoming too snarky or angry do not recommend an antidote for the ailment. The same critics are also known for being snarky when they speak of the irascible behavior of public figures or the public at large. Others blame the Internet and blogs for creating a culture of disrespect. Posts in a flash deliver knife wielding, hurtful words with a quick click that is preceded by an accurate spell check, of course.

I don't have a solution either. An idea I do have. Positive actions and work is the ideal way to keep from being reduced to a rude blob by cable news and inhuman capitalists. A careful plan for action may include the following: be a careful listener, offer a thoughtful critique, act without rabid zeal if the other party chooses to dis you. Humor is also a good remedy and it does not have to be snarky to make a powerful point. Now, let's see if I can follow these suggestions and make things a bit more warm and fuzzy. Johnny Mercer also suggested "latch on to the affirmative."

I was not 100% certain of the definition of the words bellow. Enjoy recalling the days when one had to look up definitions in a big red bound book.

Merriam- Webster

Snarky / Pronunciation: \ˈsnär-kē\
Function: adjective
Etymology: dialect snark to annoy, perhaps alteration of nark to irritate
Date: 1906
1 : crotchety, snappish
2 : sarcastic, impertinent, or irreverent in tone or manner

Irascible / Pronunciation: \i-ˈra-sə-bəl\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle French, from Late Latin irascibilis, from Latin irasci to become angry, be angry, from ira
Date: circa 1530
: marked by hot temper and easily provoked anger

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Keeping My Fitness Routine Honest

Today, I decided that my best intention to keep a paper journal of my exercise and fitness progress had failed. The journal is in my gym bag and I simply do not use it to record the days I go to the gym or the activities that I do to maintain my fitness level. Lately I have realized that I have to increase my frequency of working out. I eat well but my weakness for sweats definitely requires an activity to counter any unsightly gains from the indulgence of baked goods and sugar. The format of these posts relating to my fitness goals may change or be incomprehensible to those not privy to the organized chaos swirling around in my own head. But I must start with something and let my pride or disappointment be on display to keep me focused on the goal of bodily maintenance and improvements. A public record may motivate me to do better than my current best.

We don't get a spare body but can develop a spare tire if not careful by remaining too sedentary.
Sometimes it is best to keep phrases such as the above out of sight by quickly banishing such talk from one's mind.

Today's Workout
BU Gym
Arms, shoulders, chest, abs, squats.
Activity time: one hour

Friday, September 11, 2009

Bye Bye Martha Stewart Blog

I have officially removed Martha's blog from the list of ones that I follow. Perhaps, soon I will recover my interest and visit her again. It is very obvious that her blog is increasingly used only as a tool to increase time on her site to generate advertising dollars. There is noting wrong with Martha trying to rake in the bucks but I have drawn a line in the sand. Originally, the blog featured thumbnail previews of the photos and one could look at them all at once as a gallery and enlarge the ones they choose. The blog, now, requires that you click through each photo without the option of a gallery view. Today's post featured 64 photos. I'm not making the time to click through 64 photos to see what her private helicopter ride was like over the lavender fields of France. Had I not skipped breakfast this morning I would have been asking for an air sickness bag just to survive the pretentiousness of a post like this.

PS: Forget about posting a comment that offers a suggestion or a slight critique of her exploits. The only ones that will post are the ones that unequivocally offer support and undying love. My post regarding the change in photo options did not make it past the moderator. But my post were I used the word "wonderful" five times to describe Martha did. Martha's blog is her castle and she appears to be the Queen of Hearts type. "Off with their posts." Indeed!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Urban Scarecrow Called Jack

I created this gourd-headed scarecrow a few years back in my urban Cambridge postage-stamp sized yard. The Scarecrow is based on a modified version featured a few years ago in MS Living as the Frightfully Fun Scarecrow. They suggested using a Funkin instead of a real pumpkin for the head. They look more realistic that faux pumpkins sold at Michael's craft stores and are easier to carve since they are made of a firm foam. The molds are taken directly from real pumpkins and are not perfectly round. Some years they are more realistically painted than other years. I bought one that was way to neon orange to be perceived as a real pumpkin. A. C. More, Jo-Ann Stores are a couple of chain stores you can find a selection of them available. Funkins are not indestructible but will last year after year when stored with care.

Jack wears a vintage L.L. Bean plaid shirt. Excessive rains caused the shirt to do the opposite of shrink. The weight of the wet hay caused him to "fill out" even more. I also choose a classic expression that would not be perceived as trendy. I wanted Jack to last as many spooky seasons as possible. His head and shirt were reused several times but hay was bought new each year.

Wal-Mart Moves to Crush Competition

Walmart\'s Latest Move to Crush the Competition

They smell bleeding prey on the retail Sahara and they are closing in for the kill once again. Article suggests they are going after K Mart, Toys R Us and Rite Aid. The company rapildly changed shopping in the 1980s and 1990s. Is it their turn again?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Summer Movie Season Ends

Up is number one summer movie on my list.

The noisy summer movie season had a good run this year. I ended up seeing nine of the big popcorn releases. After recalling what I viewed, I found I did not venture even close to an independent film release this summer. Of the films I rank, the first six I received the entertainment I was expecting or more. Seven through nine represent slight or major disappointments. Public Enemies and Angels & Demons should have been much better since both films were helmed by an excellent director and stared an excellent cast.

The movie musical lacked representation this summer in theaters. For the previous two summers (2008, 2007), the genre was represented by an energetic release from a major studio. Last year's Mama Mia and the previous year's Hair Spray provided ample tunes to fill a summer's worth of dance cards.
Obviously, I am not the targeted audience for either District 9 or Inglorious Bastards. The previews presented before the films rolled were full of relentless violence or grossness for grossness sake. Quick flashing, quick cutting and excessively loud trailers warn me to proceed with caution. Entertainment should be more than just mind numbing escapism. One should be able to escape and still have a thought left worth sharing.
Pixar proves again that some of the best writing being done in Hollywood now is for animated 3D characters and not traditional flesh and blood actors.

1. Up
2. District 9
3. Inglorious Bastards
4. Julie & Julia
5. Star Trek
6. The Proposal
7. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
8. Public Enemies
9. Angels & Demons

Friday, August 28, 2009

Fall & Halloween on the Horizon

Now, that we will soon be entering the month of September thoughts of fall color and foliage start to come to mind. I'm not wishing away summer or longer days. I too dislike the thought of loosing valuable daylight hours at the end of the day. The trade off is that we receive a wonderful new pallet of colors. A few of my past Halloween projects have been picking up in the number of views this past week on Flickr. Take a peak.

Halloween in the dining room circa 2005 was spooky and fun. Since then I have located black tapers that tie in more with the theme. Cupcakes were featured on the center three-tier stand. The stand is basic white that on top of I added a flocked pumpkin floral pick and orange paper fringe around the circumference of each level with double sided tape. Vases filled with candy corn or dried black beans made colorful anchors for tabletop candles.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Edward M. Kennedy 1932 - 2009

Kennedy's beloved dog Splash enjoyed coming to work with the Senator.

The more our feelings diverge, the more deeply felt they are, the greater is our obligation to grant the sincerity and essential decency of our fellow citizens on the other side. . . .

In short, I hope for an America where neither “fundamentalist” nor “humanist” will be a dirty word, but a fair description of the different ways in which people of good will look at life and into their own souls.

I hope for an America where no president, no public official, no individual will ever be deemed a greater or lesser American because of religious doubt — or religious belief.

I hope for an America where the power of faith will always burn brightly, but where no modern inquisition of any kind will ever light the fires of fear, coercion, or angry division.

I hope for an America where we can all contend freely and vigorously, but where we will treasure and guard those standards of civility which alone make this nation safe for both democracy and diversity.

Ted Kennedy, Truth and Tolerance in America speech, 1983

Once I made Massachusetts my new home I was honored to vote for him in 2000 and 2006.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Julia Child Reaches New Heights

After 48 Years, Julia Child Has a Big Best Seller, Butter and All
Published: August 24, 2009 NY TIMES
Almost 48 years after it was first published, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child is finally topping the best-seller list.

Are we relaxing as a society and discovering that real food made from real ingredients plus a dash of care can possess a wealth of joy? Special occasions should be special and require food that did not come from a box. The meal need not be perfect - a word Martha Stewart uses way too much to stress the hell out of the rest of us without a staff of 40 sycophants. Have fun. If people come to your home for dinner, they will not complain if every dish is not spot on. They will know at least those who cook or occasionally throw a party will that the effort is a genuine expression of fellowship. This does not mean that one should cut corners or not try recipes or flavor combinations outside of an established comfort zone. Of course, I have to remind myself of this important rule and not let anxious little demons devil me if the deviled egg are slightly off center.

A woman , Auntie Mame, who knew how to live before there was magazine about living it to perfection said it best. "Yes! Live! Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!" Auntie Mame 1958

PS: Should people not appreciate your effort and be so ghoul headed as to grouse to your face regarding your cooking, take them off the invite list for good. No one should be surrounded by kill joys who suck the life from your time intensive labors. Family, on the other hand, you should confront with your discomfort.

Monday, August 24, 2009

"The Kind Lady" Kept Me Up Past My Bedtime

The headline of this post may appear a bit tawdry. . . but headlines can misrepresent their subject in order to entice the sensational eye of their readers. I have decided to stoop to that level today as I report on adding another classic film to my viewed list. First, I want to be clear that I enjoy Ethel Barrymore in almost everything I have previously viewed from her career. Some highlights for me are the following: Pinky, The Spiral Staircase, The Farmer's Daughter and Portrait of Jennie (my personal favorite). Last night as part of their Summer Under the Stars day-long tribute to Angela Lansbury, TCM aired The Kind Lady (1951). I had to know what happened to the captive Barrymore and ended up remaining awake until 11:30 p.m. to see the suspenseful conclusion. Source material for film was a stage play followed by a 1935 film version. In Robert Osborne's wrap-up, I learned that Lansbury's mum, Moyna Macgill, had a bit part in the film as the household cook, Mrs. Harkley.

"More regal than royalty." --critical accolade once bestowed on Barrymore quoted in her The New York Times June 19, 1959 obituary.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

District 9

Another film that proves that big A list stars have their work cut out for them if they wish to maintain their multi-million dollar pay days(see Friday, August 21st post). District 9 has an unknown cast and is directed by first timer Neill Blomkamp. Peter Jackson produced and his Lord of the Rings team handled special affects and creatures. I go see a film generally if I want to and ignore reviews or do select viewing of them because I want to be caught off guard as much as possible. Previews that give away the whole film help one easily avoid spending treasured funds on worthless rehashing of tired old plots. These days the tired old plot may even be a blessing since plots seem to be on hiatus from a growing number of scripts. The protagonist (Sharlto Copley) has hints of Peter Sellers humanity and bungling in his break-out performance.

A couple of reviews that sum up or concur with my feeling regarding this wonderful late summer big screen arrival.

"District 9 proves that sci-fi thrillers don't have to be star-studded or mega-budgeted to be visually compelling and thoroughly entertaining." Claudia Puig USA Today


"This might go down as the year that science-fiction cinema, despite the deafening crash and clangor of sparring robots, began to rediscover its brains, heart and soul." Cary Darling
Dallas Morning News

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Begonia Collection on Vintage Distressed "Boo-Fey"

Begonia Collection on Boo-fey

This summer I moved my begonia collection to the dining room to a prominent display location on the buffet - also know as the Boo-fey during Halloween. I have put many a begonia out of their misery by over watering. Secret for my plant success is to wait until the soil is dry past the top inch of soil or wait until they start to droop a bit. Occasionally I will mist them in the winter since they are no fan of dry artificial heat. Martha features them in her dining room for her September column in MSL on newsstands now.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Jimmy Stewart the Man & His Words

A clip for dog and film lovers.

After yesterday's post I found myself thinking of other films of his that I would consider favorites. We don't have movie stars anymore at least not as they were originally defined. The definition of movie star has changed. We still have many actors who are either talented or try very hard. But there seems to be a lack of people who will survive the strange process of film decade after decade. Stewart's career was in full swing for over 30 years. He was one of the first independent stars to reap a portion of the profits rather than take a straight salary. The fact that neither Vertigo or It's a Wonderful Life were popular in their day seems unfathomable. Stewart is often remembered for his stammering/starting-stopping speech pattern but he could not be typecast. He starred in almost every type of genre film had to offer and excelled. BTW: I don't remember Carson crying on another show with the exception of his finial broadcast.


A-List Stars Flailing at the Box Office
Published: August 21, 2009 / NY TIMES
Studios aren’t giving up on stars but they are trying to pay them less or looking for cheaper alternatives.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Spielberg to Re-Make Stewart's Harvey Classic

Newly flush with cash Spielberg's Dreamworks Studios plans to re-make the 1950 classic, Harvey, staring Jimmy Stewart. The original was based on a Pulitzer Prize winning play by Mary Chase. It is unclear if his role will only be that of a producer or both producer and director on this project. Tom Hanks - often compared to Stewart -would be a possible casting choice for the film should Spielberg direct. I don't understand the reasoning for touching a classic like this featuring an iconic performance. Will they keep it simple or CGI the crap out of it to suit a wider audience? Will they choose to make it a period piece or give it a modern slant. Look at last years' The Women to see what happens when they take a classic and make it modern. Despite being in development for over 10 years, The Women was done no favors by director Diane English (Murphy Brown creator).

The Women 1939 classic.

The Women 2008 better left unviewed.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Don't Think Your Way to Stress

Clever illustration from Times article uses a combination of an Ugly Doll and vintage glass teddy bear eyes to document stressed-out humans.
Vicious Stress Loop

Brain Is a Co-Conspirator in a Vicious Stress Loop
Published: August 18, 2009 / NY TIMES
Chronic stress changes the brain, but relaxation can change it back.

A few notable highlights from article:

"In humans, though, the brain can think too much, extracting phantom threats from every staff meeting or high school dance, and over time the constant hyperactivation of the stress response can unbalance the entire feedback loop. Reactions that are desirable in limited, targeted quantities become hazardous in promiscuous excess. You need a spike in blood pressure if you’re going to run, to speedily deliver oxygen to your muscles. But chronically elevated blood pressure is a source of multiple medical miseries."

"Yet habits can become ruts, and as the novelist Ellen Glasgow observed, 'The only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions.'"
A new source for information on human stress:
Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers by Robert M. Sapolsky

Monday, August 17, 2009

Memories of a Mimosa Tree

A healthy Mimosa tree with several trunks and forks.

The beans appear in late summer and early fall.

The pink flowers attract butterflies and humming birds during the summer. Fern-like foliage also closes up and "sleeps" in the evening.

I remember the pink flowers of the Mimosa tree (Silk tree) being sticky and pink like the texture and color of cotton candy. These trees served many purposes for me during my childhood. I would climb their smooth branches and trunks before building forts under them. The forts would end up having more grandaddy long-legs spiders protected behind their four walls than people. Tree foliage and fall beans provided tons of play opportunities. However, admitting to having played "restaurant" with the tree's leaves and beans sounds less adventurous than having built a fort at the base of the trunk. The small individual leaves of the fern-like fronds would also be stripped off and used as confetti. I recall also using the beans as currency for a made-up primitive or post apocalyptic world - it was the 1980s during the Cold War, after all.

How did all of this memory jogging come about? I was driving through Charlestown, Massachusetts and saw a very large example on Monday. I did not know they could thrive this far north. But we seem to be on the edge of a favorable growing zone since we are on the sea coast and have slightly less harsh winters. My garden may be the proud owner of one of these memory laden trees someday.