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The Happy New Year I’m Not (Yet) Wishing You

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Department Of A Year (Almost) Of Seeing Movies

As I’ve probably/previously declared   [1] in this space, I love seeing movies in a movie theater. Dramas are more dramatic, romances more heart-tugging, thrillers more suspenseful and comedies funnier in a large venue, surrounded by gasping and/or weeping and laughing strangers.  Even the turkeys –  is there any category of movie worse than an un-funny comedy? – are made worthwhile during the brief bonding moments when strangers turn to one another, make eye contact in a dark theater, point at the screen and exchange incredulous, Really? Someone thought that would work? looks.

 

This is the time of year for thoughtful or professional critics and amateur ass-snipers alike to trot out their, “best of 2018” lists.  When it comes to judging movies I’m somewhere in the middle of those two categories.  Nevertheless, here is my blog before me, with space to fill; thus, here is my list. Only it isn’t a best of, it’s an all of.

I have moiself’s own criteria for what made it on the list: virtually every (theatrical release) movie I saw. The following movies (listed in random order – not quite alphabetical and not quite by date seen) were all theatrical releases; some of them were late 2017 releases that didn’t make it to our neck of the theater woods until early 2018.  The asterisk * denotes movies I’d intended to see in the theater but which were briefly released in our area, i.e., they played in a Portland theatre for a week (or even less) before disappearing and then reappearing on video and/or streaming.  [2]  Titles in bold are recommended, whether for artistic merit or sheer and mere entertainment value. Titles italicized are…well…not exactly recommended, but not also the worst use of two hours, as I essentially saw them for free (via the once cool but lately lame and much-maligned MoviePass   [3] ).

 

 

 

“That’s your problem; you don’t want to be in love – you want to be in love in a movie.”

 

 

-Pitch Perfect 3
-Ladybird
-I, Tonya
-The Disaster Artist
-Phantom Thread
-The Post
-The Greatest Showman
-Call Me By Your Name
-The Florida Project
-Roman J. Israel
-Mudbound
-Annihilation
-Game Night
Love, Simon
-Jumanji
-7 days in Entebbe
-Chappaquiddick

 

 

 

 

 

-The Leisure Seeker
-A Wrinkle in Time
-Molly’s Game *
-I Feel Pretty
-All The Money in the World *
-Black Panther
-Book Club
-Avengers: Infinity War
-Solo
-A Quiet Place
-Life of the Party
-Tully
-First Reformed
-Deadpool 2
-The Rider   [4]
-Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

 

 

 

-Thoroughbreds *
-The Artemis Hotel
-The Seagull
-Hereditary
-Oceans 8
-Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
-Sorry to Bother You
-Three Identical Strangers
-The Spy Who Dumped Me
-Eighth Grade
-The Meg
-The Miseducation of Cameron Post
-Searching
-BlackKlansman
-Crazy Rich Asians

I haven't seen a walk like that since Jurassic Park.

 

 

-Peppermint
– A Simple Favor
– A Star is Born
-Bad Times at the El Royale
-Bohemian Rhapsody
-Can You Ever Forgive Me?
-The Front Runner
-The Wife
-The Favourite
-Free Solo
That Spiderman spiderverse thing   [5]

 

 

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Department Of There’s Just No Pleasing Some People

Dateline: December 23. MH and I are having the roasted veggie hash at our favorite breakfast place in Manzanita. The background music playing at the café is always eclectic, although on this day they are playing what appears to be a somewhat standard, Christmas-themed mix. I hear a version of “O Christmas Tree“– O Tannenbaum, sung in German, by Nat King Cole (a version hitherto unknown to moiself, but holy fucking phonetically pronounced lyric sheet, I must have heard it 50 times this Yule season!)

Then Oh Holy Night begins wafting over the café’s discretely hidden speakers. I sing along, adding my own lyrical substitutions to the first chorus, not loudly enough to annoy the other patrons   [6]  but so that MH can hear:

(original version)
Fall on your knees!
O hear the angel voices!
O night divine…

 

(my variation)
Fall on your knees!
O skin your knees for Jesus!
‘Cause Christ loves your scabs…

 

MH eyes me across the table.

“Do you like my version?” I ask him.

“I don’t like either version,” he replies.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Partridge [7]  Of The Week

As per an earlier warning post, we will be hosting a different Partridge, every week, in our front yard’s festively lit pear tree. Can you guess this week’s guest Partridge?

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you (mostly) not regret paying for a movie ticket;
May you realize that life is short and you’ll get over the 45 minutes you wasted seeing that !#(? Spiderman movie;
May you always sing the alternative lyrics;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] I’m turning into my father, in the repeating-my-stories personality aspect.

[2] So if you want to get technical, like one of those ass-snipers, perhaps those movies don’t “count.”

[3] Which, supposedly, is revamping for 2019, so I’ll wait another month and give it a chance before cancelling my subscription.

[4] I want a movie like the based-on-a-true-story The Rider to get its own category. I’d recommend the movie because I think it was well done and shows a compelling if head-banging-against-the-wall-in-frustration-for-me-to-watch story. Translation: it is very difficult for me to just sit there and watch, for “entertainment” purposes, people do stupid things/make short-sighted or self-defeating life choices.

[5]  Another movie meriting its own category – and one of the few I saw with MH this year – because although I want to not recommend it I didn’t see the entire movie. I left midway, telling MH that he was of course was welcome to stay, but I just didn’t care what happened to the “characters,” and also/mostly, I was aesthetically offended by what was on screen:  I was tired of BEING SHOUTED AT WITH LOUD CONSTANTLY FLASHING AND CHANGING IMAGES AND QUICK CUTS as if I had the attention span of a five year old cocaine addict.

[6] Uh, yeah, that’s disputable.

[7] In our pear tree.

The Songs I’m Not Defending

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Department Of Seasonal Surprises

Is there anything as incongruently optimistic as the appearance of a yellow rose in winter?

 

 

 

 

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Department Of Just Wondering

Regarding the Baby It’s Cold Outside controversy I’ve a confession to make: up until this year, Baby It’s Cold Outside was just one of those background holiday songs for me. I knew it existed, but I’ve never seen any of the films within which it had appeared, nor had I ever even heard the original or any of the cover versions in their entirety.  I just plain hadn’t paid attention; it was, to moiself, an earlier generation’s “classic,” of which I caught snippets every now and then on radio or TV.   [1]

What with all the brouhaha about the song, I finally listen to it the other day, and found moiself thinking, Is this really what I’m hearing? And so I googled the lyrics.

I simply must go (but baby, it’s cold outside)
The answer is no (but baby, it’s cold outside)…

The neighbors might think (baby, it’s bad out there)
Say what’s in this drink? (no cabs to be had out there)

Yep. I heard what I thought I heard.

 

 

“I don’t know about you, darlin,’ but nothing gets me in the holiday spirit like a retro duet about impending date rape….”

 

 

 

It was a different time;

it’s a relic of our heritage;

back then it was all in fun….

Many are the defenders trotting out these (and more) defenses for the song’s lyrics – about which, BTW, I am not horribly offended (nevertheless…ick).

And I do understand the complexities of judging the art of the past by the standards of the present. Still, I wonder about such things, and how we judge what is OK, and what needs to be relegated to the trash pile of cultural history.

It has long seemed to moiself that far too many people, especially certain Well-Meaning Liberals ®, give sexism a “cultural” pass in situations where they do not do the same for racism:

* The segregation and subjugation of black Africans – e.g. Apartheid –  is wrong and there are no excuses for it!  [2]

* The segregation and subjugation of women and girls in Muslim countries…well, it’s their culture, so hold on a minute, don’t be an anti-Muslim bigot!

I know, I know, it drives me crazy, too.

 

Coon Songs,  a genre of music that presented stereotyped images of black people, were wildly popular in the United States circa 1880 to 1920, so much so that the 1905 song “If the Man in the Moon Were a Coon“, sold three million copies (which would be the equivalent of 11 million copies today). Some of Tin Pan Alley’s greatest composers, including Irving Berlin, were enlisted to write coon songs with such cringe-worthy titles as, “All Coons Look Alike to Me”, “Old Black Joe”, and “Pickaninny Paradise.”  These songs are an undeniable part of our past, and most of them had quite catchy, sing-along melodies.  Would such a defense – It was a different time; it’s a relic of our heritage and back then it was all in fun –  survive if someone should try to revive, say, coon songs as a remembrance or acknowledgement of our legacy?

Coon, coon, coon
I wish my color would fade
Coon, coon, coon
I’d like a different shade
Coon, coon, coon
Both morning, night or noon
I’d rather be a white man
Instead of bein’ a coon
(chorus to “Coon, Coon, Coon,” Max Hunter Folk song collection)

 

*   *   *

Department Of Yes, I Want It All

While I’m on the subject of art from the past… Category: Christmas movies. I really like It’s A Wonderful Life ,   [3]  but not for the reasons so many people heap praise upon it – praise I believe to be…well, predictable and even/ultimately shallow.  Because if you think IAWL is the “ultimate life-affirming, feel good holiday classic,” you are missing the point.

The idea that the love and support of one’s family and friends ultimately trumps any financial woes  [4]  is manifested in the movie’s heart-wedgying end scene, by the arrival of war hero Harry Bailey, who toasts his big brother George: “…the richest man in town…”  And I weep like a bitch baby, every time, at that line.

But, that doesn’t change the fact that the movie is dark.

Sure, IAWL is filled with some memorable characters and great dramatic and comic lines – and dreadful/sexist trope or two  [5] – but the darkness permeates it, IMHO, and, despite the Happy Holiday Ending ® George Bailey’s existential gloom is never fully resolved.

 

 

 

 

George Bailey is filled with the frustration of a lifetime of unrealized desires and seemingly unattainable goals, compounded by the guilt that comes from that over arcing/underlying message from your society/culture/religion that whatever you have should be enough to make you happy [6]  or at least content with your lot in life.  And it usually is….but what if you also want something more?

The protagonist’s dilemma was presented as a choice between two conflicting destinies:

(1) George Bailey can have a happy domestic life; or
(2) He can shake off the dust of his one-horse town, hop on a cattle boat and see the world.

It was either/or, not and – to choose one path would be to negate or even erase the other.

But, every time I watch that movie, after that joyous, cinematic denouement, I want an addendum. Just give me one scene, as the credits roll, showing George and Mary hitching a ride on that cattle boat, or rafting down the Zambezi river, or sipping espressos at a Parisian sidewalk café….

 

 

 

*   *   *

Blog Department Of Isn’t It Funny, The Things You Miss

My first official  [7]   Happy Birthday wish came from a friend on the East Coast, ~ 6:30 AM. I was already up to feed the cats, and was delighted, while getting dressed, to see the message.  [8]  I thought of how my parents (back when they were both alive…which probably goes without saying but oops, too late) used to call me way way way early in the morning on my birthday – we’re talking around 5:15 am – and sing the Happy Birthday Song ® to me.

They started doing that when I was in college, and kept doing it for years afterward. Once upon a lifetime I would go running in the mornings, before college classes and then before going off to work, which provided my parents with justification (in their minds) for the early intrusion wakeup calls, which they said were my “fault” in that they wanted to call me before I was up and gone out for the day (yes, kiddies, those were pre-cellphone days).

Sometimes I would pretend to be grouchy about the timing of the calls, such as when my birthday fell on a weekend and, for just once, sleeping in (until 7 am – is that too much to ask?) on my birthday might be nice… And although I always/ultimately loved and appreciated the birthday calls, I also have always loathed that damn tedious birthday song.

On more than one occasion I asked my parents to please sing me something else – how about The Mary Tyler Moore Show theme song? Ah, but what I’d give today, to be able to complain about having them sing me that damn song again….

 

 

           

*   *   *

Department Of The Partridge [9]  Of The Week

As per an earlier warning post, we will be hosting a different Partridge, every week, in our front yard’s festively lit pear tree. Can you guess this week’s guest Partridge?

 

 

*   *   *

 

May you be serenaded with the song of your choice on your birthday;
May you be surprised by your equivalent of a yellow rose in winter;
May you judge the art of the past by the past, present, and future;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Even though a portion of it was used in a scene in Grey’s Anatomy, which is Must-See-TV for moiself.

[2] It was indeed the culture of the white/Afrikaners to discriminate against black south Africans…but the world ultimately did not allow them that excuse.

[3] I like it in spite of the ridiculous Clarence The Angel angle, not because of it.

[4] A sentiment I think is usually – but not always – true.

[5] In an alternate reality, Mary is revealed to have…gasp…suffered the worst fate for a woman – without George, she never married, and became an OLD MAID LIBRARIAN!

[6] A Buddhist message from early Hollywood?

[7] As in, on the day itself. There is a committee to certify such things – but , you knew that, didn’t you?

[8] Via Facebook messenger. No Russian hacking involved that I could see.

[9] In our pear tree.

The Tradition I’m Not Missing Anymore

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Department Of How To Find Out If You Really Want To Continue A Tradition

You can take a break from it, and then see how much you miss it, that’s how.   [1]

 

 

 

 

The Ladies Lefse Party, referred to in last week’s post, was a smashing success.  Looks like it’s back on the Yule holiday schedule.  [2]

 

*   *   *

Department Of Food Porn

 

This stunning pavlova was made for the lefse party by JR, a fan of The Great British Baking Show (and excellent pastry/dessert queen in her own right).

We got to eat it; you didn’t. I’m so, so, so very sorry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Lame Excuses For An Almost Content-Free Blog

 

* The altitude

* The (non-existent) War on Christmas

* My Upcoming Birthday

* Still Recovering from the Lefse Ladies’ Licentious Luau   [3]

 

 

But you promised there would be leis and shirtless dancing boys….

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Partridge [4]  Of The Week

As per an earlier warning post, we will be hosting a different Partridge, every week, in our front yard’s festively lit pear tree. Can you guess this week’s guest Partridge?

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you continue the traditions you enjoy;
May you create that which will be tomorrow’s tradition;
May you be mindful of future Partridges;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] This is the first footnote.

[2] Why, look – it’s another footnote.

[3] No leis were distributed, nor Hawaiian kapus violated, in the misuse of this party metaphor.

[4] In our pear tree.

The Pop-Up Ad I’m Not Expecting

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Department Of Authenticity

Next week I am hosting my annual Ladies Lefse Party. Well, once upon a time it was an annual event. After a hiatus of two years, following my mother’s death, I’m ready to get back in the saddle – or lefse griddle, that is.

 

 

This versatile appliance can also makes an adequate alien landing pad and/or satellite dish substitute.

 

 

After my paternal grandfather, a full-blooded Norski-American married to a full-blooded Irish-American,  [1]  died (ca. 1963), my grandmother no longer felt up to making the lefse her husband had so adored and that she’d come to love as well.  [2]  My mother’s eldest sister, my late Aunt Erva, lived in Spokane, and after her husband died  [3]  Erva would drive down south every year in autumn, ahead of the first Spokane snowfall, to spend the winter with her mother in Santa Ana. Thus, Erva assumed the mantle of lefse maker in our family. She made meatcakes (Norwegian-spiced meatballs, a traditional lefse accompaniment) as well.

Like many traditional ethnic dishes, lefse has foundational ingredients, and also variants in composition, preparation and serving. Evey family I’ve met who also “do the lefse thing” have their own favorite recipe which, of course, they consider the “most authentic” way to make and eat lefse.

I’ve been making lefse for longer than I can remember. I took Erva’s recipe and evolved it over the years (or made it “kooky,” as Erva would likely say  [4] ).  The lefse is still delicious, if dairy-free, and the “meat”cakes I make are now sans meat (a plant-based version, main ingredient tempeh).  Back when I did eat (some) meat I used ground turkey when I made meatcakes, instead of Erva’s more traditional pork-beef blend, but what with my using the distinctive/traditional spices  [5] my parents said, when they were  guest at my Christmas Eve table, that they couldn’t taste the difference. Still, moiself always felt my version was missing that certain tinge of maternal family authenticity, which, I came to realize, had nothing to do with the kind of ground meat used.  Here is the “flavoring” my versions of meatcakes have always lacked:

(1)  an overly crisp exterior (read: I didn’t burn them, which Erva did without fail);   [6]

(2)  the ash from Erva’s cigarette.    [7]

 

 

What other key ingredients am I missing? One tablespoon repression, ¼ cup disillusionment with life choices….

 

 

 

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Department Of Look Who’s Talking, Considering What’s On The Back Of My Car….

Dateline: Monday morning, on my way to yoga class. I’m driving behind a big ass truck that has three bumper stickers, which I read when I’m stopped at a traffic light and which get me to wondering about what goes through someone’s mind when they purchase and then apply to their vehicle stickers which proclaim,

My grandson is a Marine

and

Gulf War Veteran

My car’s stickers are a combination of puns/whimsy and opinionating, meant to make a few salient or silly points or in a (hopefully) humorous manner.

 

 

 

 

 

The truck’s third bumper sticker was some variation on the Gun Control Means Using Both Hands rant, and while I disagree with those stickers’ inherent pro-firearms sentiments, I appreciate the jests of the message. As for the previous two stickers I mentioned, I’m curious: why does the person driving that truck think it’s important for moiself, the person stuck behind them in traffic, to know that their grandson is a marine, or that they (the truck’s driver) are a veteran of the Gulf – or any – War? Is it because, as son K has opined, [8]  they want, blatantly or slyly, to brag (ala, My Child Is An Honors Student At Schlemfarght Junior High School   [9] ),  or have people think highly of them and/or give them receive special treatment because they’ve been in the military?

Perhaps a more generous interpretation would be to ask questions re their motivation along the lines of, Is it that they take pride in their family’s history of military service and/or they wish to raise awareness of such in a society where such service is not mandatory?

Of course, it’s much more petty (read: fun) to impugn their motives using the scant evidence available.

Anyway…just curious.

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of ‘Tis The Season For Surprises

Dateline: Wednesday am, 12/5. After posting a Happy Krampusnacht message on Facebook I went to my yoga class. After class, when I turned my cellphone on, I saw this message from daughter Belle:

MOM
You gotta change that link you posted on fb about krampus
The very first thing you see when you open it is a huge picture
of someone’s VERY spread open butthole
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry

 

 

 

 

Before I could panic, the message continued:

Wait I just clicked on it again and it wasn’t there????
I’m sorry I don’t know what’s going on haha
I think I might have gotten a very terrible pop-up ad?

I quickly checked link I’d posted on FB – as intended, it merely led to the Wikipedia article on Krampusnacht. I haven’t heard any other OOPS feedback, so if any of y’all followed the link and got the…unexpected pop up…Happy Holidays!

 

 

Well, maybe some of us prefer the other picture.

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Partridge [10]  Of The Week

As per an earlier warning post, I will be hosting a different Partridge, every week, in my front yard. Can you guess this week’s guest Partridge?

 

 

           

*   *   *

 

 

May you evolve your own holiday culinary traditions;
May you have patience with those of us who don’t give a flying fart
where your child is an honor student;
May you enjoy the petty thrill of impugning the motives of strangers;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] That was considered somewhat of a mixed marriage in Northern Minnesota;however,  “Bapa” (my Irish grandma) told me that her husband’s parents would have considered it “worse” if he “had married a Swede.”

[2] No great surprise that an Irishwoman took to loving something which is essentially a potato tortilla.

[3] In the later 1960s.

[4] “Kooky” was Erva’s catch-all descriptor for things of which she did not approve, which could range from one’s choice of life partner to haircut or clothing to your career or political opinions. Deciding to open a boutique, which the wife of one of my cousins did, was, according to Erva, “a kooky thing to do.”

[5] Nutmeg; allspice;, white pepper.

[6] She swore that’s the only way you could tell if they were “done.”

[7] More than once I “caught” Erva in grandma’s kitchen frying the meatcakes, a cigarette clenched between her lips, the cigarette’s inch long ash column precipitously dangling over the frying pan.

[8] K is very, very, “unfond” of such announcement-type bumper stickers.

[9] I love those immodest stickers for one really great reason: they led to the plethora of “response” or parody stickers which read, e.g., “My golden retriever is smarter than your honor student.”

[10] In our pear tree.