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There was a story in the Journal about a secret group of Americans whose shameful secret is…watching Hallmark Christmas movies. Of which apparently there are a multitude.
Well, Netflix has gamely entered the lists, as I may have mentioned before.
OK, as I DID mention.
So, as it turns out, I have watched a couple of these.
OK, maybe quite a few.
See, nobody is killed with gouts of blood and severed limbs, no children are threatened, there is always a happy ending (usually a festive wedding) and even the dogs are well treated. Though I must say, I haven’t noticed many CATS.

So here is the plot:

  • Christmas is coming!
  • But poor Patti or Sharon or Marie or whoever has NO ONE to celebrate with, or alternatively she does but he is a jerk.
  • But [very handsome] man is suddenly on the scene!
  • It is (of course) snowing, and festive drinks stand by.

And, there is always a moment when the guy must remove his shirt–a spill? an accident?–and it is immediately obvious that he has spent much time in the gym.

=Eye candy for the ladies.
Also, these are not superstars. They are very good looking, but not the gods of real movies.
So we’re comfy, do you see.

And Netflix has kindly added a superstar contender.

And I’m saving this one for when my children are home. I KNOW they’ll want to watch it with me.

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Now that Thanksgiving with all its revelry and happy gatherings is past, we must put on our smiley faces and WELCOME THE CHRISTMAS SEASON! Make that credit card SING!
And meanwhile, one notes that Netflix is entering into the jollity sweepstakes with so very many Christmas movies. I watched in horrified fascination as one after another the cheesy shows popped up on the screen. AND I WAS ENSNARED! I clicked. The first one was so ridiculously cheery and unbelievable I couldn’t, just couldn’t keep watching. The second was JUST as cheery, but a little less vapid, not to mention–a handsome prince! And a princess! Also fabulous cakes! Lord, how silly this movie was–The Princess Switch it was called–and yet, I must admit, I watched the whole movie. Actually, not so bad, keeps the wolves away sort of thing.
Amazon kindly provided an actual big time movie, called The Man Who Invented Christmas–Charles Dickens as a blocked self doubting writer who eventually succeeds in writing Christmas Carol. If you can ignore the falsity of the title, not to mention its breezy blasphemy, there is some fun to be had with this movie. The lead is an amiable fellow, very good to look upon–and many venerable favorites add their luster to the proceedings–Jonathan Pryce! Christopher Plummer! Really, you could do worse than spend an evening watching this one.
So, set the kettle a-going, pour a little rum in the cup, add some honey and lemon, and top it off with a bit of hot water and take that hot toddy to the sofa with you for a Christmas Treat.
Though the thought intrudes, why not watch Christmas Carol itself?

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In my new job, there are meetings JUST LIKE in my old job. However, instead of well meaning people talking about public health, there are well meaning people talking about missile defense. It is at least more entertaining.
Yesterday was just such a meeting. The day began late for me as my alarm clock which I had carefully set for 5:20 PM naturally did not awaken me at 5:20 AM–but, I awoke at 5:45 and by dint of eschewing my morning exercises managed to be out the door and on the road in time to enter the meeting room by 7:30. To find that NOTHING WAS PREPARED. For once our stellar support team had fallen through. Frantic endeavor ensued, made more complicated by the interpretation team, who had to set up the (partly) sound proof cubicle, and link up all the microphones. Except, there were no microphones. But our AV guys found some, or maybe it was the interpreter guys, but in any case, the room–rather small, November is a busy month and all the large rooms taken–was soon webbed with lines and cords and wires, and people were coming in, dodging the lines and nibbling on the lox and bagels we had thoughtfully provided. Except, not the Russians, they were stuck in traffic of course.
Well, well, eventually they came in, large ruddy men, all past middle age–and the meeting commenced. I had never before encountered simultaneous translation–and am still astonished at it. The two interpreters sit in their little booth and speak as the meeting participant speaks, instantly translating the words as they are spoken, into either English or Russian as needed. The participants hear the translation through their earphones, the language according to which button they have pressed on the headset. Miraculous!
My job was to make sure all went well, to put up the PowerPoints (luckily very few, unlike the public health meetings) and make sure the coffee and tea didn’t run out. Mostly, I looked at pictures of my new grandson on my phone.

The world is STILL not saved but a Good Start has been Made. Further conversations will be held.
And the baby is keeping his parents hopping!

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2 movies

Desperately trying to move away from this shaming Beach Detective addiction, I managed to find 2 movies which were–moderately–entertaining.
Now, be aware that these are fairly OLD movies. Netflix is POWERFUL, the voice of Netflix is full of majesty. Netflix does not lightly give away what it can get good money for.
The first was a modest but comely little piece, Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing and Charm School, with Robert Carlyle–AKA Hamish Macbeth, the whimsical Scottish policeman–as a heartbroken recently widowed baker, who comes across a dying man (John Goodman) and makes him a promise to go to the dancing studio–and, he finds comfort there, and manages to escape despair. YES, this movie is sentimental. But Carlyle has such a sweet face, and he plays a good man. There could have been a little less time spent gazing up John Goodman’s nostrils as he talks about his boyhood, but as I said–entertaining.

The second movie is much less virtuous.
Because, Hugh Grant. I know duty demands that we despise the man, so silly, so foolishly charming. But, there it is, he IS charming. This ancient movie (2002) concerns a VERRA wealthy man, and a VERRA worthy woman. Things happen, they battle, they encounter distressing events, and in the end–they admit that they love each other. Sigh. I can’t resist this kind of movie. It’s called Two Weeks Notice.

OK, back to beach detective now.

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Being a good citizen sometimes requires extraordinary diligence.
Had it NOT been raining, the day would have been a little less heinous–the short walk to the polling center could have been pleasant had the sun shone, and waiting in the line outside a mere expenditure of time.
Instead of which it was tense exercise in tricky umbrella wielding.
However, I waited my turn, eventually entered the church hall, and cast my vote, leaving that place to return to my commute. And there was the bus clipping along merrily on the other, unreachable side of the avenue–heavy unrelenting traffic would not let this good citizen pass. Not to worry! There is a traffic light at the corner, and a covered bus stop! However, as I waited to cross, the SECOND bus whisked by. They have ardent vows, to follow each other closely. So I finally waded across Mass Avenue and achieved the haven, a dry spot with a benevolent bench. And then the THIRD bus darted by, ignoring my frantic shouts and umbrella wavings. I will own that some bad words passed these saintly lips. The FOURTH bus grudgingly came to a halt and soon enough I was putting my little brown bag into the office refrigerator and settling down to work.
A little damp, but with a fine feeling of duty done.

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I have settled into to watching an apparently endless detective series, which manages to keep within the rather strict limits I have set for such fripperies: not too violent, and not too sad. The Death in Paradise series is fairly restrained–no severed limbs, no buckets of blood-and the good hearted Caribbean vibe keeps things cheery. We have an awkward British detective who longs for the frosty land he’s left behind and who has very poor social skills–but who is of course a BRILLIANT detective. His team are a bunch of lovable natives, one of whom has the most adorable accent, really, it gives me joy just to hear him. AND of course one of them is a VERY beautiful lady. Disreputable people do various wacko things, there is puzzlement, there is a lizard nipping about (CGI), there is a certain amount of drinking, and it is all worked out in an hour and a half.
BUT.
The charming actor who played the befuddled Brit had to desert the series–his wife was having a baby. SO–he was killed off. THAT was the mystery that week, who killed him? With an ICE PICK no less. It made me very sad, no matter how carefully the writers dealt with it. And then, ANOTHER clueless Brit came clomping in, this time as played by Kris Marshall, known to us all as the pathetic Colin in Love Actually who goes to "a fantastic place called Wisconsin" and finds FOUR American Dream Goddesses to bring home with him. I preferred his predecessor, but there, one can’t always have what one wants. And the lovely lady’s grief at the loss of her previous colleague has begun to diminish, I can’t help but notice.

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La Straniero

Saturday is of course OPERA day, though we are still listening to various previously recorded and eminently worthy operas–because why? Because the Met Season has not yet begun. Today was La Straniera, one of Bellini’s lyrical pieces–lovely music, beautifully sung.
However–the story.
Every review of this piece politely indicates that while the plot is of course–so very exciting–it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. La Straniero (=the STRANGER) is a beauteous lady living as a HERMIT in a hut by the lake. The local villagers think she is a WITCH. The tenor, Arturo, is all set to get married to Isoletta, but is entranced by the lovely hermit. Isoletta’s papa is worried, but NOT TO WORRY, says his friend Osburgo, he will set Arturo to rights. Of course, he fails, and meanwhile, Valdeburgo, the baritone is causing unbearable pangs of jealousy in Arturo–but the baritone is La Straniero’s brother! Except before Arturo finds this out they fight a terrible duel! One of them falls in the lake, I forget which, but neither is killed for the time being. So then La Straniero INSISTS that the wedding take place, pushing Arturo and Isoletto into the church, EVEN THOUGH her heart is breaking ("I have abandoned, not love, but hope", she cries. (Aria: Ciel pietoso, in sì crudo momento, / Al mio labbro perdona un lamento ). Very SAD indeed–but Arturo bursts from the church, he CAN’T DO IT, he wants La Straniero–except then, the Prior appears to announce that La Straniero is…QUEEN AGNES. And she must now return to the King. So Arturo KILLS HIMSELF.
Applause!
End of opera.
One of the reviews reminded us that after all, Darth Vader is revealed to be Luke’s dad, and this ridiculous plot device is beloved by all the world, so stop being so harsh to Bellini for heaven’s sake.

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