Back by FM

Jan. 28th, 2014 02:24 am
howeird: (Danvers Sings)
The M stands for Magic.

Somehow the Seamagic connection to LJ mysteriously fixed itself. I'm back to offline editing with full wysiwig features.

Monday Monday, can't rust that day. Everyone knows that no oxidation occurs on Mondays, especially of one's brain cells.

Up with the alarm, for the 5th time in so many weekdays started to change the alarm radio channel from KOMO in Seattle to something else, and for the 5th time reminded myself that it's more interesting than waking up to a Bay Area station until the Superbowl is over.

After that, probably not so much. Read more... )

I'd had a difficult night, thanks to scarfing up way too many cheezy poofs without first lactose-proofing my tummy. Finally fell asleep about 2:30, and had to be up and out the door before 9 to be at work with enough time to dry run the demo I was giving at the 10 o'clock meeting.

Accomplished that somehow. Demo was visited briefly by Murphy, but one of my teammates pointed out that the firewall I had disabled last week was back. Nuked that and had a flawless demo.

By lunchtime the gastro-intestinal was still unsure of itself, so as I aimed the car in the general direction of food, I let my combination steering wheel/dowsing rod steer me to where there was fiber. Denny's wheat pancakes FTW. IHOP might do them better, but they are in the opposite direction and lunchtime service is glacial.

Left work at 5:30 to get to downtown SJ in time to get a good seat for the 6:30 show at Camera 12. There is no good way to get there from work before 7 pm when the commuter lanes open to all, and I didn't get there till 6:20. Turns out the FB event had the time wrong, it actually was a 7 pm start. :-( But that meant I got a good seat, right in front of the cast. One of my best buddies from Menlo Players days was the lead character in this indie, called The Devil in White. It's a sci-fi slasher flick. A scientist develops a white powder which enhances the senses. Rub it on your eyes, you can see better. But over time it will draw away from your other senses. And it gas cocaine/LSD-like side effects. Well acted, a tightly written  script, very good makeup and effects for an indie, some audio drops and a few abrupt transitions, but generally well directed and edited. And all the women in it are sexy. Even the mom. Which was nice because they were sitting right behind me. I don't usually like slasher thrillers, but I had a good time. Better than BASFA, but fewer puns.

Home, Domino kept yelling at me, she hates it when I am not home to give her treats at a reasonable hour. Banquet piece-o-crap alleged chicken fried steak dinner, yummy fudge brownie ice cream for dessert.

During the day, the director of Sunnyvale Players' upcoming Little Shop of Horrors messaged me on FB asking if I was interested in auditioning for Mushnik. I don't know him, don't know who suggested me (my last gig there was in 2000), so it's quite a compliment. They are doing the version where Mushnik sings, which I am not familiar with, so I told him I'd have to check on the piano if I had the G2-F4 range they listed on the audition sheet. I did that tonight, I have more than that range (F4 turns out to only be F above middle C), so I messaged him about that. But I also saw on the sheet what it was which kept me from auditioning, they were going to make everyone dance. So I added to the message that I don't dance anything more intensive than character dances (I am not someone who benefits from extensive warmups or can stay upright through a production number). I suspect that will be fine. Next step is to arrange a time/place to read & sing for him. I looked him up online, he appears to be directing his first show, and his background is the SF comedy competition in 2006 with a routine which made fun of The Annoying. Parts of it were clever, parts were annoying & stupid. But he showed good comic timing.

Plans for tomorrow:
Wait for the piano tuner, due at 10.
Work from home while he's raising the pitch (right now A is 433 instead of the desired 440) and tuning, and making any necessary repairs. I need to ask if it's possible to put wheels back on the thing.
To the office, if there is time
howeird: (Party)
But first, how my day went. I slept in, which did not amuse Domino who wanted her morning treats. Procrastinated until about 12:30, went to Home Depot with a list of things I needed for the house, expect to actually to the work tomorrow:
Hummingbird feeders
Brackets to hang them from the porch posts
An indoor bracket to mount somewhere in the kitchen for my 3-tier fruit basket
A fire extinguisher, because the house was supposed to already have one but didn't
Wood screws and anchor screws
did not find the kind of box cutters I wanted. Probably need to get those at Lowe's.

Continued on to Central Expwy and Menlo Park, an hour early for my coffee/movie meetup. As I was walking to Starbucks from the parking lot, a friend in Seattle called who had received a calendar, wanting to know what that metal tube thing was. She was the occupational health nurse at Moffett back when it was still a Navy base, but she and her husband retired up north before AT&T Park was even on the drawing board.

Janice was right on time, we had a short (for us) chat and then walked to the cinema, just in time to be a minute or three after the movie started. Philomena. Oh my, what a story. And so much good acting! Excellent tech, and the flashback 8mm home movie snippets are priceless, a fine example of how a movie can improve upon the book. One thing which threw me is how often the title character makes surprisingly out of character statements and decisions for a thoroughly indoctrinated middle aged Irish Catholic woman.

J invited me to join her and a couple of our mutual friends for dinner, but I was wanting to stay up for midnight, which she doesn't do, so I went home, planning to stop at the nearby mega-Safeway for egg nog. They were completely out. In the spaces which were labeled for 7 varieties, here were 186 quarts of house brand vanilla cinnamon flavored, and that was all.

I did get the rest of my short shopping list, turkey franks, pizza dough, ice cream, Ritz crackers and cheese in a can. The first two for making pigs in blankets, which is my traditional NYE snack.

Obsessed, I detoured to Piazzi's, and got a quart of their over-priced Bud's egg nog, which is all they had. Not satisfied with that, I turned off the freeway at the first of my two possible exits and turned right instead of left to go to Lucky's, which had insanely cheap half gallons of both regular and light egg nog, so I bought 2 regular. The egg nog is really an excuse to use up some of the bulk nutmeg which I bought a couple of years ago and have barely made a dent in.

Home, unloaded the car, gave Domino her treats, took a nap until 9:30, gave her her half can of Fancy Feast, poured a glass of nog, opened the crackers and cheese and finished a roll of ritzes and shared some canned cheese with the cat. Finally cleared all the flotsum off the kitchen island and made the pigs n blankets, put them in the oven, and watched some Bones on TV. Which I rarely do, but everything else on was total crap.

Flipped channels, settled on KRON 4 which is now a local all-news channel except when they are playing failed syndicated junk and paid misinfomercials, because they claimed to have live from SF complete with fireworks from three angles. Unfortunately they chose their three least attractive, non-talented staff to host, outside in the cold. So I also had a button set for Ryan Seacrest, and managed to catch Miley Cyrus' act, including her finale, a touching rendition of Wrecking Ball. Not just the song, but the fact that the audience sang along so loud she was able to hold out her mike to catch that for a few words. One thing filk has taught me is few things are as rewarding for a songwriter as hearing the audience know all the words.

Pigs in blankets turned out excellent, I only ate half (they are great leftovers) and set KRON to record while I watched the NYC ball drop. Toasted the new year with egg nog.

Then played back the KRON recording, and saw spectacular fireworks with craptastic sound track, I would rather hear the bang of the explosions. So I muted the TV and did hear explosions - there was probably a fireworks show on my end of the bay, but where the house is located I can't see. May have been from the Hindu temple across the street, they are big on blowing things up.

Plans for tomorrow:
One last morning to sleep late
Put up hummingbird feeders
Hang the fruit basket
Install two more towel racks in the main bathroom
Find a lace for the fire extinguisher
Drink more egg nog
howeird: (Default)

Mostly reprinting here what I said on FB:

Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence in dueling cleavages. An ending which makes The Sting's look straightforward. Christian Bale learning a Bronx accent little by little until by the closing voice-over he sounds like he was born under the bleachers of Yankee Stadium. Bradley Cooper winning this year's award for Most Overacting in a Feature Film. And the hair. This movie is all about the hair. My hat is off (so to speak) to:
 Kristen Barry ... hair colourist / hair stylist
 Stacey Butterworth ... wig maker: Jennifer Lawrence
 Elizabeth Cecchini ... hair stylist
 Kathrine Gordon ... department head hair stylist
 Raul Hernandez ... hair stylist
 Michelle Johnson ... assistant hair department head
 Amanda Miller ... wig maker
 Shayna Passaretti ... additional hair stylist
 Emma C. Rotondi ... hair stylist
 Rene Vaca ... assistant department head hair stylist
 and to Jeremy Renner for rocking a classic Elvis do, as well as portraying the challenging role of sincere politician.

Amy and Jennifer ran through lots of costumes, most of them very sexy. The men's outfits did not work for me - the costumers made too big an effort to not dress any two people the same, in an era where most men did dress the same. The FBI supervisor's boss looked more like a mobster. The supervisor looked more like a farmer making a court appearance.

 Schemes within schemes within schemes, and a who's doing what with/to whom with whom (or is it who?) to make your head spin. It's a long movie, 138 minutes, but I only wanted to check my watch twice (but I wasn't wearing one).

 Excellent acting, directing, cinematography and a soundtrack made up of pop music of the disco era, often with a mean sense of humor. Almost fell out of my seat when they played "White Rabbit" in Arabic. The original parts of the score were spot on, by quadruple Oscar nominee and Emmy winner Danny Elfman. Audio was mostly excellent, there were a few lines which I couldn't hear. There was one scene showing Amy from the back which was probably done with her stand-in, because it was out of sync (her head was moving in the wrong way for the words she was speaking). Those scenes are shot blind - they are easy to screw up.

 Some great character acting by Paul Herman as the mobster lawyer, Elisabeth Röhm as the sincere politician's wife, and an uncredited Arabic-speaking Robert De Niro.

Worth full price.

howeird: (Default)

The first half of Plan A was to see American Hustle at 11:50 at the AMC, which is pretty close to home. Matinee senior price was $7. The second half was to see The Hobbit in IMAX at 2:20. But with 20 minutes of trailers, 138 minutes later was too late to do the second half, and the place was packed, so I went home. Met my next door neighbor in #6, she said she was widowed 3 years ago, she had company which saved me from a real conversation. She has a pretty thick accent, I think Philippines.

Was hungry, but it was too early for a meal. I made popcorn, but that wasn't enough so I cut up more sourdough batard and had a triangle of goat brie with that, as Domino stood on my lap trying to intercept the cheese as I spread it on the bread-ettes. I gave her a few fingertips worth.

Tivo had one episode of Restaurant Stakeout, which was another miracle success. This time Willy totally failed with most of the staff, and what finally saved the place was the owner doubling the staff, and the chef providing cheat sheets to the dumb as rocks android wait staff for the daily specials.

Elementary stepped into the future, I am thankful they resisted the pressure to make it a Christmas tree festooned episode. Instead they promoted the Christmas spirit by nailing the head of a Holocaust victims' fund for triple murder, money laundering and drug dealing.

Since I had time and a decent kitchen, dinner was a minor production number. Put some egg noodles (twisty) on the boil, sauteed two slices of onion and a tablespoon of crushed garlic in corn oil, added 1/4 lb of ground beef, a dash of sage and a dash of ginger, and when it was almost cooked poured in a few shots of Canadian whiskey.

Drained the noodles and put them on a plate, dumped the ground beef on top. Should have used a bowl, it got cold quickly. Domino loved the little bits of beef I gave her.

Afterward she got her Fancy Feast and I got my Breyers Thin Mint ice cream.

Watching high school football, a local school called De La Salle is very good. There are some college teams they could hold their own against.

Made a poor man's egg cream. Love my SodaStream because now I always have seltzer handy. Just fill a glass halfway with seltzer, top it off with chocolate milk. They make lactose free 2% now. Yummy.

Plans for tomorrow:
Post office, buy a lot of stamps and apply them to envelopes with calendars in them.
Maybe see The Hobbit, but not in IMAX.
Visit the office, request a larger garbage bin.

howeird: (Inigo Montoya)
Today was a company day off. They give us two days for Turkey, Jesus and Janus. My plan for a while was The Big Shed Project.

It was amended a little because mornings have been cold, but afternoons have been warm. So this morning I hit the matinée showing of Frozen in 3D, which has been getting rave reviews.

It started out charming, with some enjoyable music, but soon degenerated into a very violent plot with forgettable songs and a frenetic score to match the heart-stopping action.

Idina Menzel, who was the green witch in Broadway's Wicked played the ice princess. This is an actress with a gorgeous singing voice, but they kept her to mostly dialog and much of it shouting. OTOH,  Kristen Bell plays the younger princess and sings quite a bit, including a duet with Prince Hans, voiced by Santino Fontana. I can find no evidence of either of them singing professionally before. They did well, but the songs didn't require much range.

Olaf the snowman is ridiculous, and a great attraction for the kiddies, but I would not have brought a child to this very violent movie.

As is my habit, I stayed through the 10 minutes of credits for the Easter egg. It was there, but it was a throw-away. However, there is a disclaimer cleverly hidden in the credits toward the end which was worth the wait.

Speaking of movies, my biggest disappointments this week are that two movies which I otherwise would have loved to see are starring men who both do not fit the part, and can't act. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was a childhood favorite book, and the movie starring Danny Kaye was pretty good. It would be spectacular re-made with modern technology and a Mitty who was of Kaye's calibre. But Ben Stiller? Gag me. And Saving Mr. Banks would have been fun if someone with enough acting chops to make us believe he is Walt Disney was playing opposite the extraordinary Emma Thompson. But Tom Hanks? Save me.
By the time the film was done, it was in the 60s outside so instead of catching The Hobbit 2: Spare The Air Day, I went to The Milk Pail and spent about $65 on cheeses. And that's even though they didn't have my favorite French sheep cheese. Some cheeses for snacking, some for fondue.

Then home, to do The Shed Project™.

This has been on the drawing board since I moved in. The house has a storage shed out at the end of the driveway. The previous owner had shelves installed left, right and back wall. The shelves on the right were too deep to get the door open wide enough - you had to shove stuff inside, close the door and then move the stuff where you wanted it. The shelves at the back made the space too short for my bike. And they were too close together vertically to hold any of my stuff.

So the Project was:
- Completely empty the shed
- Remove all the shelves on the left and back and one from the left and stack them off to the side
- Knock off all the shelf holders from those (this needed my heavy plumber's wrench. Well, a hammer really but I was too lazy to get it out of the closet)
- Put the bike in facing the door
- Stack all the tubs of stuff against the back wall
- Put all the camping gear on the left-hand shelves
- Add musical instruments, music stands, the big cooler and the microwave

It took about 2 hours. But now it's done, yay!

Parked myself in front of the TV and played the currently recording Tivo of the Hawaii Bowl. Boise State got clobbered early by the Beavers, but managed to raise their score to something less embarrassing at the end. I think Oregon State's coach gave them some help at the end to try to make a game of it.

Also watched some of The Long Island Medium marathon. One of the best cold readers on the planet, but she's strident and I can only take so much of her.

Dinner was duck soup. Yes, I know it is Marxist. But I had in the freezer taking up too much space the ribcage and other assorted bones from the duck I roasted the weekend I moved in. Threw those into a pot, covered with water, added a little salt, a tablespoon of crushed garlic, a couple of twists from the pepper mill, some bay leaves and a few leaves from my Kaffir lime tree. Then a tablespoon each of split peas and barley, and two of dried lima beans. Simmered for 90 minutes. The whole house smelled ducky. And it was yummy. Could have used more salt and barley. After two bowls of it, there is enough left for another meal.

After I write this I am running a bath in the lovely deep "garden style" tub because I am sore all over from the shed project.

Plans for tomorrow:
RMA a couple of Amazon purchases
See another movie
howeird: (Both Ends + Middle)
So my plan was to save up PTO time for London in August, I was planning on working Thursday and Friday. Monday was already claimed as a day off to make up for putting in for the day after I moved but working that day.

It was dead boring, nothing at all to do at work today so I followed boss' lead and made it my last work day of the year. We have 24-25 off and 31-1, so with just 2 more PTO days it's 24-1. 9 days.

I may take a train ride, I may drive down to Morro Bay and take another whale watching trip (the grey whales are in town, and I want to give them one of my calendars, which has a cover and one month of whale pix).

Also planned is re-do the shed. Pull out the shelves on the right side and back, probably install bike hooks.
While at work, Costco emailed that the calendars were done, so I went there after work. Since I was there, I also picked up the 4 things on my list, and though there were tons of people there were also tons of cashiers, none of the lines were more than 3 deep.

All the time I was there, parents were murdering their children. Stupid parents don't know enough to duct tape their mouths shut first, so the screams don't give them away. Some day I am going to call 911 and report child abuse in progress.

Home, started playing the Tivo of the 49ers game in progress. The absolute best way, skipped through the commercials (they kept playing the same 5), and a lot of the "last game at the stick" schtick. At about the 2 minute warning it was almost in sync with real time, so I was able to turn on KNBR radio and listen to the post-game, which was still going when I finally got tired of it at 11.

After that was over, I slapped return address labels on 30 calendar-sized envelopes and fired up my Excel address book. Sadly, removed an uncle and a brother-in-law (my aunt and older sister lost their husbands recently).

Fired up Word 365, which was HORRIBLE at trying to decide what kind of mailmerge I wanted. It has a nice feature called Address Block which will fill in everything for you, but they expect a 2nd address line, and I would have had to re-do my spreadsheet with several more column, which is a PITA and I won't.

Finally got it after six or seven tries, and then the stupid program wouldn't print from the tray with the label stock. It kept going to the default tray, even though it insisted it was using the rear tray. Had to load the label stock in the cartridge, and while it worked it was not quite centered, and I was lucky that bending the stock like that didn't peel and jam the printer.

Slapped address labels on the envelopes, counted them up. 19 domestic, 7 foreign (which will probably grow to 8 when I get a new address from a friend who moved from Germany to Sweden). says the domestics are $2.75 apiece, which is 6 Forever stamps. I don't have that many. The Canada ones are $8.55 and all the rest are $12.75 which is a hoot because that's more than the calendars cost.

I have a few $2 and $1 stamps, but not nearly enough.

Plans for tomorrow:
See Frozen 3D at the Mountain View cinema. Mercado is not playing the 3D version. I may follow that with Hobbit 2 or I may do that for Jesus's post-solstice fantasy birthday celebration.
Empty the shed, etc.

Sunny Day

Nov. 17th, 2013 11:44 pm
howeird: (Default)

Yesterday's library trip netted three audio books, which I ripped last night to the iPod. Listening first to The Scarlet Letter. It was required reading in school but I never read it, I can't remember why. There are two possibilities - one is that I was expert at listening to the class discussions and gleaning enough from what the teacher and students said to participate and pass the tests. The other is that it was required before 9th grade in Seattle but after 9th grade in suburban NY (I moved west in mid-9th grade). I doubt that, though, because in every subject I took, except Washington State History, I had already learned everything they taught us in 9th grade in Seattle. And some bits of 10th, 11th and 12th.

Also on the list but not read, I picked up Pride and Prejudice. The third book is a posthumously published Michael Crichton work called Pirate Latitudes.

The plan was to see the 11 am showing of Thor in 3D, as I was en route my youngest sister called, we had a very short chat since it is not far to the cinema from my place. Long enough to catch up a little bit at least.

Turns out Flixter was wrong, the showing was 11:10, which meant I could have chatted a lot longer.

I also saw Ender's Game playing in 2D at 11, but I want to see that in 3D. I suppose I should look online to find out if there is a 3D version, not IMAX.

Thor II, actually. I liked the premise, that the 9 worlds are entering convergence and barriers between them are becoming fuzzy, but the special effects did a miserable job of showing this. There is some fine acting from Anthony Hopkins as Odin, and Tom Hiddleston as Loki. In a league of his own is the actor playing Bad Guy™ Malekith. Telling you who would be a spoiler. Jaimie Alexander's warrior princess is far more attractive to me than Natalie Portman's completely unconvincing astrophysics PhD. Tadanobu Asano is completely wasted in a barely larger than cameo role, while Idris Elba does a fine job in what should have been a tiny role (Heimdall) but the writers have made him a pivotal player, bringing diversity which was not in the original Asgard.

There are some attempts at comic relief, which fell flat for me, there is not a lot of humor or clever repartee in the script. The score is excellent. Audio mixing is so good I didn't even notice it. 3D was used to give depth to the movie, not to throw things at the audience or make us dizzy. Some of the makeup and costume special effects were very well done, some may have been CGI. Hard to tell anymore. But it all boiled down to effective design.

The Loi Krathong scene was very touching.

Way too much gratuitous violence and destruction.

Worth senior matinée price.

A quick trip home turned into a bit of football watching, the Raiders got off to an excellent start. Not so the 49ers.

Was meeting Janice for coffee in MV at 5:30, I usually get there an hour early to play on the laptop and secure a good seat. Loaded up a shoebox full of chef's knives and other extra kitchen implements I never use, and another small box of coffee cups and small glasses and soup bowls which are breakable and I have too many of, and a mattress cover and took them to Goodwill. GPS said there was a drop-off in MV either by Target or across the street by DQ, but I didn't see one so went to the one in Palo Alto. Despite the detour, I was at Starbucks at 4:00. Almost ran out of things to do online.

Had a good chat. Janice is to blame for giving me the idea of buying a mobile home so I told her all the crapola it put me through. She missed out on the FB stories because she was off for the last 3 weeks touring India, which she said was a daily revelation. Mumbai was a lot cleaner and more modern than she expected. The Ganges funeral pyre industry is a nonstop fire factory. And so on. I'm looking forward to photos. India is not on my list of places to visit.

Home, made the second container of Costco split pea soup for dinner. Yum! And a piece of Black Forest cake for dessert.

Earlier in the day as I was on the computer, Domino tried to jump up onto my lap, I gave him a boost and she stayed parked on my right thigh for about half an hour. And she sat on my thigh while I was watching football. She knows something is up. Not too surprising, since (a) I keep the bedroom door shut and (b) all the shelves are empty and there are lots of boxes stacked up. Kaan also has done his share of jumping on my lap, and I had to chase him off the top of the piano twice.

I was going to bring the CPAP to Goodwill, but decided to try to find the paperwork and return it to the place that sent it to me, but it looks like I threw that out. Maybe Kaiser knows.

Plans for tomorrow:


howeird: (Default)

At least I felt like I was this morning when the alarm went off as usual at 7, but I turned it off and turned off all the lights (they go on automagically at 7 too) and slept for another hour. Still got to work on time.

Needed 2 trips to the car, one for the very heavy package going to an eBay customer in FL, and the other for my cooler and netbook. While looking in closets for packing projects I found my ASUS netbook, which used to be my main travel computer, but it was slow and the screen is half height which meant I couldn't use it to work remotely. It is light and has an 8-hour battery and fits in a very small space. And then came tablets, but tablets don't have keyboards, or if they do they grow to be as big as a netbook.

Anyway, I took it to work, logged it in to the guest network, and started with Norton updates, which took more than an hour. And then there were 91 Microsoft updates. And after those installed there were 3 more. Took most of the day, but most of the time the machine just sat behind me cranking away. The new guest network is frustratingly slow.

In other news, apparently tomorrow my lab network connection will be by laser beam. In an attempt to bypass the idiotic firewall which Moto & Google had put in place [long story], our lab guy bought some relays which are hard-wired from the lab to something that looks like a UFO spy saucer, which shoots the data over a laser beam to a receiver which looks like a miniature anti-aircraft gun, and then is hardwired to our GigE adapters.

Continued verifying old bug fixes, took on one which soaked up way too much time because it needed me to force an update to fail multiple times.

Lunchtime UPS, two packages, an order from American Reading Glasses and a DVD I bought on eBay of a star-studded 1969 sci-fi movie called The Monitors. Susan Oliver (Peyton Place regular), Guy Stockwell, Larry Storch, Avery Schreiber, Sherry Jackson (teen daughter in Danny Thomas' Make Room For Daddy), Keenan Wynn, Ed Begley Sr., Adam, Alan and Matthew Arkin, Xavier Cugat, Senator Everett Dirksen, Stubby Kaye and Peter Boyle. 

Slight panic when mfg rep called and asked if I had heard from my insurance agent. Apparently the escrow people were having trouble reaching the woman who did my estimate. I reached her first try, she had been out sick, and yesterday was a holiday. she was about to fax the final quote over (we had to add flood insurance, because there's a slight chance of flooding in 100 years, based on surveys done before the freeway was built between the house and the Bay).

Also got a call from the school teaching Friday's uke class asking if they could change the time to 6:45 instead of 7:30. I said no. The time was the main reason I chose that class over the earlier one.

Home, watched  The Monitors, enjoyed seeing a stellar cast's video application to The School of Bad Acting. Misdirected by Jack Shea** (whose later discredits include Sanford and Son and The Jeffersons, Silver Spoons and Designing Women), shot on what looks like super-8 film boiled in developer fluid (contrasty & grainy). It was shot in non-contiguous scenes which were chopped together in a Cuisinart by rookie film editor Patrick Kennedy who went on to edit Airplane!, and while the video editing was horrible, the audio is pretty good except when the alleged music (by Fred Kaz) blares out or is so far in the background it can barely be heard. This was Kaz's first movie score, nd  was only hired to score a movie once more, in 1971.

The plot is simple: The Monitors are bowler-and-overcoat-wearing nondescript space aliens who have invaded the Earth, imposing peace and prosperity by gentle force and a barrage of propaganda. Most of this is on TV PSAs, complete with inane jingles sung in 4-part harmony. And lots of testimonials. Leading Man falls into an anti-Monitors group and along the way attracts two gorgeous women, both of whom are Monitors lackeys.

The film is interrupted several times by poorly done dream sequences, daydream  snippets and special defects.

Base on Hugo and Nebula nominee Keith Laumer's 1966 novel, It could be a really good movie if it was remade with a world class movie director, film editor and composer.

**Shea died in April at age 85

Today's packing achievements were small. I put the B&W negatives from the scanning company back into the box they came from and sealed that up. And I filled a medium sized box with whatever was on the top & bottom shelves of the small clothing/linen rack in the bedroom.
Plans for tomorrow:

howeird: (Default)
In the continuing saga of the buying of the abode, the appraisal came in at almost exactly what the sales price is. Can I get an Amen? No don't, I'm an atheist.

But what this means is two things: the seller won't ask for more $$, and the lender won't ask for more $$.

And I don't feel cheated.

Morning blood sugar was way too high.

Stripped the bed, put the stuff in the wash, made the bed with bright orange cotton sheets, Kaan helped by playing submarine attack.
Went online and then put the wash in the dryer before heading for work.

Got to work a little early, had a lot of planning and thinking to do about the project I am on. Spent all day cranking out test cases for the new java app. Found a couple of minor bugs. Was unpleasantly surprised when the fellow who created the tool told me he cut and pasted everything from a previous version, and didn't really know what it did. Ouch. Because he included the active ingredients of the code in his documentation, and it was mostly simple stuff which non-programmer me understood.

Anyhow that took all day except for the half hour it took to write my weekly report.

Lunch was at Starbucks. The economy is getting better because there were parking spaces for the car and for my butt. I had a free drink on the app, but they have discontinued the cookie crumble frappe till next summer, so I settled for mocha frappe.

Much eye candy, but mostly to go orders. I didn't stay long. Finished half my drink at my desk.

Phone showed voicemail at about 3 pm, but the phone had not rung and there was no call on my phone log.  It was the mfg rep with the news about the appraisal. Made an appointment for tomorrow morning to sign some more papers. Disclosures. Forgot that I wanted to go to NASA for the model rocket launch, probably the last one of the year. But my arm isn't up to holding the Nikon yet, so no harm done.

Home by way of the French Store, where I bought a new tennis elbow strap, the original one is losing its cushioning. Also got another birthday card for my sister. I'm almost covered till June, her actual birth month. It's a lovely store, but their checkout maze is insane.

Watched some TV, bull riding and fantasy football suggestions. With the helmets and padding the bull riders wear these days, they could combine the two.

Dinner took some time to cook. Roti with Penang curry dip. And some thawed ham slices.

Got the comforter out of the dryer and finished making the bed.

Plans for tomorrow:
Morning. Maybe watch some college football.
Mfg rep appointment
?? See a movie. No, everything I wanted to see is no longer playing. It's all drek this week
Call the moving company for the current prices.
howeird: (Default)

The only useful things I did today were:

  • See Gravity in 3D at the local cinema
  • Change one of the litterbox cartridges
  • Vacuum up Domino fur in her three favorite places on the carpet.

The rest of the day was spent at home, watching a very sloppy 49ers victory, an even sloppier Redskins loss, and sitting on the patio reading from the Kindle app on my Nexus tablet.

For the last hour or so of the Sunday Night Football game, Kaan curled up under my right arm and went to sleep. Domino climbed to the top of the short cat tree and stared at us.

For lunch I made a banana malt. Dinner was a Marie Calendar frozen thingie. I really wanted to make the lamb shanks, but those are in the fridge, and after making them I would need to put one in the freezer, but there was no room in the freezer. With one less frozen dinner, now there is.

Gravity review
I was expecting something else.

I kept waiting for the space alien invasion. This definitely hampered my enjoyment of the movie. The trailers I saw did not say why everything was exploding on the space shuttle, so I was not prepared for a completely earthborne phenomenon. The space alien invasion never came. And space aliens did not even kidnap Sandra Bullock and torture her until George Clooney sacrificed himself to protect her.

It was simply a story of survival against overwhelming odds, using Good Old American Know-How®™.

I saw it in 3D. It was also available in IMAX 3D, but IMAX theaters give me vertigo just getting to my seat. And 2D for a movie set in earth orbit, I am sure, would fall flat. They only pulled the "corpse comes from nowhere and pokes its head into your face" trick once. The rest of the time 3D was used effectively and realistically.

The realism was almost total. They missed two very obvious things. Sandra's underwear and Sandra's hair. Astronauts wear what looks like long johns with catheter tubes. Sandra wears a grey athletic half-T and black boy shorts. Astronaut hair poofs up into a halo. Sandra's hair maintained its Pantene Pro-V silkyness. Her undies were very distracting for me, because they were not form fitting and left too much to the imagination. And they were not authentic. I figured if you were going to dress her in something non-spec, you may as well chuck it all and go with sexy. 

They have her go into panic attack mode, and Clooney says all the right things in all the right ways to calm her down. The script is well-written, I think, except for one little racist detail. Toward the beginning while Clooney and Bullock are EVA doing actual work, Paul Sharma, playing the voice of a character named Shariff, with an Indian accent, is playing bungee jumping with his tether close to the craft. He sounds like a childish idiot, not like a qualified astronaut who knows we are all listening to him.

They went for the subtle ending. We really don't know for sure if she makes it home. Helicopter sound effects would have been nice.

Speaking of sounds, the score, such as it was, was way too loud at the end, and way too loud everywhere else it poked in. Which was not often, thankfully. Which reminds me of one other technical mistake. They have Clooney broadcasting Bad Country Music™ from his EVA suit for all to hear. AFAIK, there is no way to do that in a EVA suit, and it would be a safety no-no even if it was possible.

Ugliest credits ever. I didn't stay for Easter eggs, if any.

Worth matinée 3D senior price. Especially because there were only about 10 other people in the theater, not enough for misplaced laughs or cheers to reach critical mass.

Plans for tomorrow:
Work (team meeting as usual)
Doctor? Or at least call the advice nurse. My elbow is killing me, despite icing it half of the day.
Ask for employment verification letter & apartment verification letter.

howeird: (Default)
Today many loose ends were tied up, tomorrow some more will be, and soon after that the waiting begins, I hope.

Today started at Kaiser, had my quarterly fasting blood test. Already have most of the results, and they are contradictory. Still waiting for the A1C which is kind of the key to everything. The best news is my cholesterol numbers have been improving dramatically.

On my way out I saw a sign there was a farmer's market in the outdoor space between the clinic and the hospital, so I went to check it out. There were two excellent vegetable stands, though the one which had stuff I would have liked to buy was still setting up. Two flower stands with lots of pretty blooms, also setting up. Salmon also setting up. Indian baked goods were ready to sell but had nothing I wanted.

So, to work. Got there at 9, at 10 drove a few blocks to the CU and had a teller deposit the check from the brokerage. Didn't trust the ATM to make it immediately available, which the teller did. So my deposit on the home is covered.

Back to work. There was actually some work to do, a new build came in on the older product, which I have one of. Verified one fix, punted another back to Engineering. They never really fixed the bug because they couldn't reproduce the customer's issue. And neither could I.

For lunch I went to Birk's, a swanky place which is supposed to be a steak house, but they don't serve any steaks at lunchtime. WTF? Had the pasta paella. It was very oily, the pasta was not something I recognized, long straight tubes slightly less in diameter than macaroni. There were small shrimps and a couple of overdone pieces of lobster claw meat, but most of the seafood was some grey fish meat. The whole thing was disappointing. Dessert was great, a small slice of chocolate and mocha fudge cake. A $3 slice for $9. Oh, yeah, a $1 cup of pretty good clam chowder appetizer for $5. The pre-meal bread was warm and tasty. Service was excellent, at first, but slowed down at the end. And even though I was all the way across the place from them, the rowdies at the bar were distractingly buzzed and loud. I should probably try it for dinner, but if they can screw up paella that bad maybe I don't want to know what they do to steak.

Not much else at work except my weekly report.

Got a call from mfg rep, she was picking up the park application and wanted me to come in tomorrow to go over disclosures and make an appointment for the park interview. Still trying to decide what costume to wear to that.

Home, was planning on seeing Gravity but then I realized I'm free Sunday matinée, which gets me the reduced price and also the senior price, without having to fight for a seat.

Dinner was in two parts. A very small Banquet entree of Swedish meatballs, then I warmed up one of the packets of Thai curried chicken drumsticks from the potluck. Need the freezer space. Mint chocolate chip ice cream for dessert.

Netflix delivered a copy of Prometheus, which was recommended to me by Automation Guy. Horrible acting all around but it looked like it might turn into something interesting so I stuck with it. Until the flame thrower came out, and   the flamee exploded inside his helmet. . That's when I hit the eject button.

So here I am on the computer.

Plans for tomorrow:
Meet with the mfg rep
Dump all the dead plants in the patio planters, except the catmints, which I'll bring inside, which means finding a place to put them.
Pick up a package at UPS
Maybe watch the UW-OR game. Something tells me the Huskies are not going to look too good this time.
howeird: (Default)
Finished the video class I was taking, there were even more audio WTFs  near the middle of the final session, it sounded like a tour group was being let loose on the cafeteria. I would not be surprised that the class was taught in the back of the cafeteria. Good stuff, though a chunk of it was an in-depth review of a piece of equipment I rarely use. Looking up the names of the instructors later, the guy with the Irish accent is actually from the Ireland office and is the resident expert in that piece of equipment.

There was no test, the training site just has me push a button to say I've seen the whole course, and issues a certificate. I tried to launch another, more recent class, but got a 404 error. Email to them was too late in their Atlanta day to respond to.

Lunch at Sweet Tomatoes, which is not as good a salad buffet as Sizzler, but the clientèle is more attractive. Continued to read 50 Shades and finally, at Chapter 6, we get past the juvenile giggling and into the very detailed sex scene. There was a small preview of the Dom/Submissive stuff, which is probably when I will delete the book from the Kindle, having my curiosity satisfied as much as it needs to be, and move on to that Margaret Atwood number which is next in the queue.

Back at work, Engineering asked boss to have me repeat the boring hour-long test 10 more times. It ties up my test machine, so I can't do any other work, but was able to used Candy Crush as a timer for between runs of the test (after each test the machine is programmed to not allow that particular activity to occur again for another 15 minutes).

6 pm, dove into the usual bad commute traffic to downtown San Jose. It's horrible from where I work to Hwy 87, where it is always a surprise, sometimes 65 mph, sometimes bottlenecked. Downtown to the parking garage I like best is one lane 25 mph with several long stop lights. Found a good spot in the garage and walked down the block to Cinema 12, where they were showing the 48-hour film festival. This is not (thank goodness!) 48 hours of films, it is two 2-hour evenings of locally made - last weekend - films which had to be done start to finish in 48 hours. They ranged from absolutely horrible to "they accomplished that in 48 hours?"  I was there because my theater buddy Jeremy was posting about it a lot on FB, which I thought meant he was in the film he was plugging, and would be there. He wasn't and he wasn't. :-(

To add to the amateur quality of the evening, the audio was WAY TOO LOUD, and about halfway through the lamp went out on the projector, and the projectionist was nowhere to be found. It took about 20 minutes to get that fixed and the video/DVD/whatever to be cued up to the start of the movie which was almost done when the video disappeared.

And it happened again twice after that, but they were right on it those times.

The one I went to see was called "Please Hold", about a call center where one woman is covering about six phones, all for different companies. She is crisis line, travel agent, tech support, customer service, phone sex and advice line.

They laid down some rules which sometimes helped but usually hindered the films:
There must be a BBQ spatula prop
There must be a character named Michael Loy who is a researcher
Someone must say "She didn't have to be that way"
And each team (there were 22 this year) drew a random genre which they had to use. Some were strange, like "Assassination Bromance"  and some were basic, "Mistaken identity" and "Dark comedy". Some of the films were much more successful than others with their assignment.

Two other films I especially liked were "The Hit" which was the mistaken identity one. A couple who are paid assassins find their quarry already dead - killed by a BBQ spatula. Great production values and good acting, lots of clever banter, including a bit where the couple's deal was whoever made the kill got to choose where they went afterward for dinner. And "21 Pieces" where the victim of a carjacking (by spatula) turns out to be the high school pal of the carjacker, who is collecting art works, usually against the wishes of the owners. Up in his attic lair, we see pieces of a Last Will and Testament jigsaw-pinned to a bulletin board. Apparently the thief's dad was an artist and hid the pieces of his will in 21 of his paintings.

The best production look & feel was a "skype drama" with a name which was a play on the name Donna, I think. We see a Skype window on Donna's computer, but we also see Donna's face close up, and a curtained pair of doors behind her. During the chat, a figure appears behind the curtain, and when her friend warns her, she turns around too late to look. The ending is predictable, as is the murder by spatula off-screen, but the video quality, audio and lighting was the best of the night.

And as with most indie film events there were all kinds of beautiful women. Also outside the cinema, since Bally's fitness is across the pedestrian mall.

Home, dinner was gluten-free chicken mild Italian sausages from Costco. Yummy. Almost made a third one, but there was one more slice of cake to be consumed.  

Plans for tomorrow:
Busy weekend, though, a show Saturday night and a photo thing Sunday afternoon, both in SF.

howeird: (Default)
Finally got around to it:
- Fixed the valet button for the car alarm, added a foot of wire and repositioned it where it can be reached
- Took all the month+'s cardboard from online purchases out to the dumpster
  and also the last used crystal litter container
- Started a full backup of drive E, which has all the big stuff (photos, videos, etc) about 1.6TB
- Adjusted the settings for the car audio so the same source plays in the whole car. I'd guessed wrong previously, and had the iPod playing in the rear speakers no matter what was playing in the front. This also disabled the equalizer

Lunch of baked beans and ham with a pickle, out on the patio with the cats.

4:30, drove to Palo Alto, went to Stanford Theater with a group of librarians to see Desk Set, and stayed for the organ interlude and Adam's Rib. Two very different movies, despite having the same leading players. In the first movie, a little old lady named Ida Moore showed that small actors in small parts could make a big impression.

Home, though I was starving and very tempted to have dinner in one of the many open-late places on University. And oh, so much Stanford eye candy.

Had falafel with hummus, pickles and orange crystal lite for dinner with a banana for dessert. With chocolate syrup. And malted milk. And whipped cream. 

Plans for tomorrow:
howeird: (Default)
Drove to Redwood City, had a snack at The Melt (grilled swiss with bacon) and went to see the third and final reading of Sexbot 2600 at the Dragon theater. Over the course of three weeks, with changes by the playwright each week, most things improved, some stayed the same. He added two words to the end of a many-times repeated line (repetitive testing of software games was a theme) which made it so much better. The company CEO is the Bad Guy, he's a lot more crude and abrasive than anyone I know who has the smarts and personality to develop computer games. Casting was flipped from what I'd have done - the sexy blonde played the QA tester nerdling, while the woman of size played the sexbot.

But all in all, a well written show, and do-able in a theater with more access to special effects. Of the three shows I saw, The Killing Jar was the most suited for a Dragon production. I still don't know where the name comes from. Nobody gets killed. There are no jars. Possibly, since it is set in the Vietnam War era, and two of the characters was in a war, it is a mistaken reference to the Plain of Jars.

After the play and a feedback session, I went across the street to the 20-plex and saw Ironman3 3D. Pretty good, but I think they went a bit too far in making the heroes fallible and the villains indestructible. I lie what they did with Pepper's character, but I don't think her one-night-stand rival was nearly pretty/sexy enough. Ben Kingsley does it again - incredible character acting job. Didn't know it was him till they showed the final credits. Which, BTW, were the best final credits concept I've seen in years. The Easter Egg was almost worth staying through 9 minutes of boring B&W credits to see. The house was half full, only 7 of us stayed.

Home, completely forgetting to stop off somewhere and get a new food dish for Domino. Oh wait, 7 pm on a Sunday the pet stores are closed.

Dinner was steamed dim sum (Ha gow & Sui Mai) with celery & hummus & PNB appetizer.

Plans for tomorrow:
Work (early team meeting)
howeird: (Default)
The latest Star Trek was today's entertainment. I've seen a lot of bellyaching online about it, and went in expecting the worst.

My no-spoiler answers to some of the whining:

W. It has no story
You must have been watching Babylon 5. There is a very clear story line, with a couple of sub-plots and a love story.

W. It was all about special effects, which were not that good
You expected maybe a national geographic special? Of course it had a lot of special effects. None of them impressed me, but I did like what they did with the "go to warp" view of the Enterprise.

W. The new actors were like caricatures of the originals.
Not hardly. Each of the main characters did a decent job of acting the parts we know and love.

Having said that, I'll add that physically many of the main characters did not match the originals. Spock is too chubby. Scotty is way too tiny. Sulu is Korean. The Bad Guy is way too tall and his eyes are very not-brown.

OTOH, I think Kirk and Uhura were excellent matches, and Checkov was spot-on. Bones was pretty close, too.

W. Next time they should hire writers
The script was fine. It wasn't Poetry, but there was nothing which was downright stupid, and there were plenty of clever lines.

Speaking of which, there were also a few LOL-worthy sight gags, plays on the previous movies and TV shows.

W. It was all pore-examination close-ups and long shots, no middle shots
Those are pretty much your only options about a ship. They did have mid-range shots in the outdoor scenes.

Bottom line: worth full 3D price (I paid matinée senior price)
howeird: (Default) said to look at the Mazda3. I did, and it has Tom Tom nav with voice commands. I had a previous entanglement tonight, so I'll bug them after work tomorrow. Nearest one is Stevens Creek, PIA to get to during rush hour.

Work was another scriptfailfest. Team meeting was short because we're done with our projects, and the next one is a few months away. So the word is to hone automation skills. :-(

Yesterday I found a command which did not work, today I found a command which errors out, telling me I am missing a variable, but the syntax dictionary doesn't list another variable. Automation Guy is out till humpday, I'll have to ask his backup. She's fun -she grew up in a town in Malaysia which I visited often when I lived in southern Thailand.  It was basically the next major town on the train line south of where I lived. I amused her once with the number system in malay being one off from Fijian. Well, not really, just that "dua" is 2 in Malay and 1 in Fijian. And 5 is "lima" in both.

Lunch was split between waiting in a SLOW but not all that long line at Costco for gas. It was apparently National Drop Your Credit Card Under Your Car Day. Coupled with Oh, I Have To Swipe My Costco Card First? Day. That gave me just enough time for a Western Bacon Cheeseburger and a shake at Carl's Jr.

After work I headed for one of my old haunts, Cupertino's Oaks shopping center, which has the cheapest (in every way imaginable) cinema in the Bay Area, now aptly named Bluelight. It was Oaks for the longest time, then went under, and is now reborn. I got there early enough for dinner at Togo's, but not early enough to hang out at Coffee Society.

At the cinema was the world premier showing of an indie movie (which had, I am told, and $3k budget) called Black Cat Whiskey. My long-time theater buddy Jeremy Koerner stars as the creeptastic gangster. The plot is basically: Vulnerable Southern woman is married to a moonshiner, but she doesn't know it until he gets killed by his gangster customer, who comes around to collect the 300 cases of prime whiskey he thinks her husband had hidden in their house. Tired of being slimed, she goes to the FBI where one agent pretends to help her, but really just wants One Thing™. No spoilers version, much violence ensues, orchestrated by FBI guy. And then by her. The opening scene is what happens at the end, but not quite. I would bet real cash dollars there were other endings written.

Very well acted and directed, photography was very good throughout, as was audio. It screams for a higher effects budget, but they did well for what they could afford. There is one scene which I thought was far more violent and long then it needed to be, in part because it is way over the top compared to the rest of the film.

Worth missing BASFA for. Well worth missing car shopping for.
Plans for tomorrow:



Mar. 11th, 2013 12:49 am
howeird: (Default)
Woke up at 6:30 but the internet clock said 7:30, so I went around the apartment changing all the clocks which needed it. Microwave was one of the first. The bathroom clock radios have DST buttons, but the one in the main bathroom was set backwards. The in-dash unit still has the Fall-winter time, because I thought it took the time from the GPS, but it doesn't. Finding settings on that thing is difficult.

Did not get out in time for the 10:30 showing, so relaxed and made the 12:45 of Silver Linings Playbook. Jennifer Lawrence earned that Oscar. Otherwise it was meh. The writing was average with far less clever lines than the plot required, film editing was inconsistent, definitely not a powerhouse best picture. De Niro played himself, with a little bit 'o' tears. Jacki Weaver wasn't given enough of the script to show what she could do. Bradley Cooper did not measure up to the rest of the Best Actor field. I would have tossed in a best audio editing nom, because it was seamless and when they had a chance to be annoyingly loud they weren't. There were some great spandex scenes, and the mock dance competition was very well done by the pros. Utterly predictable telegraphed ending.

Went from there to Costco, surgical strike shopping was sabotaged by several of their fridge banks being out of commission and lots of things I was looking for relocated to the other side of the building. Plus palettes of baby wipes at one end of each aisle to keep us from passing through (probably protecting exposed wires or something from the dead fridges).

Met Janice for coffee, she had a lot of news. She's going to the Caribbean this week, her first time there. I told her the Jamaica penis joke, since she had not heard it. She laughed a lot.

Back across the street to see Oz The Great And Powerful, which did not live up to the hype. James Franco is not nearly convincing enough, Mila Kunis rocks both her characters, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams not so much. Great costumes, hair & makeup. Some killer special defects, lots of beautiful CGI. Audio was a little mumbly in places, WTF is with flying baboons? Opening and closing credits were so artistic it was hard to tell who was in the show. Way too violent for the G rating it should have aimed for. Sam Raimi got hypnotized by the power of fireballs and green lightning. spoilers here ) Barely worth senior 3D price.

While the trailers were playing I saw there was voicemail on my phone - it never rang...again. Starbucks (which was closed by then) telling me they have my laptop bag. So I'll go there in the morning and snag it.

Home, put the food away, registered the Fastrak gadget which I'd bought at Costco, which will get me onto the HOV lanes on 237. And across any of the bridges. The tag is free, but Costco bundles $30 of tolls for $24. I may even try it out on the Golden Gate.

Made 3 of the 6 crab cakes I bought at CCo, these are Baltimore style, no fillers. So I was not surprised when they completely fell apart in the frying pan. But after draining off the oil and half an inch of paper towels, it was very good. Probably should have had it over bread, but all I have is Health Nut.

Dessert was an impulse buy - CCo house brand cashew clusters w/almonds and pumpkin seeds. Yummy. Good snack to take to work. Not as sugary as Payday bars. I really wanted dark chocolate hollow Easter bunny, but they didn't have those.

Looked at the new backup cam, to see if I could adjust it upward, but it needs a very small torx screwdriver. I have a set, I'll try to adjust it tomorrow in daylight.

Plans for tomorrow:
Brigadoon rehearsals which was supposed to be music TBA but is suddenly an Act I run-thru. We really need to get off of Act I and on to Act II.

Full Day

Jan. 19th, 2013 01:45 am
howeird: (Default)
Got to work on time, somehow. Will make up for it tomorrow. Work was all about figuring out how to do loops with the automation script program. Frustrating stuff.

Lunchtime I went to the Mercado Starbucks, mostly to see if they were still there. The last time I went the place was being gutted. It is still there, they have addressed the problem that lining up to order was confusing with the problem that there is no longer room for more than 4 people to line up. The bar by the window has been shifted from north of the doors to south of the doors, and the in-the-way display shelves have been moved out of the way, and replaced with two 4-person tables with AC outlets. I snagged one of those.

Home after work just long enough to get the mail (one of those annoying ads for insurance which had a faux membership card), pet the cats, and head out to the Retro Dome for their final weekend. I wanted to go to the closing on Sunday, but we have a potluck/rehearsal for Brigadoon at 6, and I need the time to make something for the potluck. And tomorrow night is a crab feed I already have a way too expensive ticket for. I had to blow off a Bad Movie Night tonight too. :-(

The Dome was doing a "Quote-along" Raiders of the Lost Ark, but there aren't  lot of memorable quotes in it. They made it fun, though. Everyone got a plastic fedora to wear, and some goodies including a kazoo, a skull-shaped golden lollipop, blowdart-like candy sticks and a tiny plastic snake. During the show they handed out non-alcoholic shots and dates at appropriate times. They rolled a huge mylar ball down the aisle during that scene, and there was a surprise at the volcano-like scene. The only non-fun is the MC walked onstage during the credits and talked over the one kazoo-able theme music section.

Plans for tomorrow:
Process more slide scan photos
SBMT crab feed in Saratoga
howeird: (Kaan On Top)
Both cats had decided to camp out in the livingroom, so I closed the bedroom door overnight. Tried to sleep in, but only made it to 9:30. When I opened the door, Kaan was right there, but all he wanted was to play fetch with his pink pretzel toy. :-(

Put the fondue victims into the dishwasher. Had a piece of bread pudding for breakfast. Watched some football, then went to the movies. Les Miz review in the previous posting. In a nutshell, there was a lot of fine acting, often at the expense of fine singing. There were a lot of close-ups, usually at the expense of the close-up-ee.

It was starting to rain, and I needed to call the vet (they had called while I was in the theater), so instead of hanging at Starbucks and scoping the eye candy, I went home to confirm that all the cat poop was normal. Called the vet. talked to an assistant, she gave me some stupid ideas for how to dose Kaan, all of which required Cthulu Grip™. She said she would ask the vet if he could have an antibiotic shot instead, and she would call back. While we were talking he jumped up on my lap and gave me a couple of head butts. I think he's feeling fine.

In the meantime I was able to get him to chow down on some dosed canned food, after he nearly took off my hand while I tried the most likely-sounding of the stupid suggestions. She called back too late, said an injection would be okay if I could get him there by 5, or Monday. No, not going back there for a while. Three times in 2 weeks is enough.

Dinner was dolmathes for appetizer, and reheated roast duck, which both cats got nibbles of. Mint chocolate chip ice cream with lactose-free whipped cream, chocolate syrup and malted milk for dessert.

More football, mostly in the background as I wrote the Lez Miss review. Checked in just in time to see the final Futile Effort® by the Vikings.

Did laundry - shirts. Opened up the dishwasher to put the clean stuff away, but much of it was not clean. This is a small dishwasher, and a cookie sheet has to lean halfway across the bottom rack. Note to self: anything on the top rack above a cookie sheet will not get washed. Did a second round, much of it from the first round.

Plans for tomorrow:
Two potentially excellent football games on TV. I'll Tivo the second one
Shop for a pair of sink racks. The 2-section sink curves toward the drains instead of being flat like a normal sink, so nothing stands up.
Coffee w/Janice
Maybe hit Cheetah's. It's been a while.
howeird: (The Gov - Arms Wide)

The music of Les Mis found me through auditions and Lea Salonga's concert albums. There is some powerful, tuneful stuff, most of it needing phenomenal voices. So I also bought the 10th anniversary concert CD and the 25th. World class voices, unencumbered by blocking, props, set, the demands of cinematography or any of that acting stuff.

Many of my musical theater friends have seen and commented on the movie, and most of them said Anne Hathaway deserves an Oscar, Russel Crowe croaked his way through the songs, and Hugh Jackman did okay vocally.

I have never seen the show done on stage with all the trimmings. I have not read the book, and only vaguely knew the plot. To give you an idea of how vaguely, I kept wondering why they cut the part about the knitting.1

What I saw in the theater I was totally unprepared for, despite all the comments and reviews. Here's what I saw:

Director Tom Hooper chose acting instead of singing.

This was not Les Mis, The Musical, this was Les Mis, the stage drama, with occasional singing.

Anne Hathaway has major league pipes. I heard her sing the hell out of Fantine's number on a talk show a few weeks ago, can't find it online now. It was the concert version, sung with clarity and power. In the movie all of that is lost, but what we get in exchange is a believable scene with hints of her singing talent far overshadowed by her acting talent.

Russel Crowe I think does just fine with his musical numbers, he is actually allowed to sing a lot, but I'm pretty sure he is at the edges of his vocal range. He gets to wear a series of uniforms, increasingly ornate as he rises in rank. Again, the acting justifies the borderline singing.

Hugh Jackman (I will never know why he chose to keep his porn star screen name when he went legit) has some pipes too, but again and again Hooper has him emote instead of sing.

The show opens with a chain gang chanty followed by a full ensemble number. Both of those were thin and weak musically, but the visuals were superb. Okay, maybe the obviously artist-drawn galleons weren't very good, but the rest was.

And that brings me to another conundrum. There is a lot of scenery. Some of it is real, some is artist renditions. For the most part, indoor scenes did not match the fascades.

Cinematography mostly sucked, with flashes of brilliance here and there. Way too many close-ups where we really needed to see the whole scene. Hand-held cameras during the battle scenes are a total WTF/FAIL. The super-fish-eye lens used in the Empty Chairs scene made me want to throw up, but only after I had slapped the director and cameraman upside the head.

Audio is great. There were only three times where I reached for the non-existant REW button because I couldn't make out a word or two, the score never overpowered the dialog and I never needed to plug my ears, even during the battle scenes.

A highlight of the film for me was the acting of street urchin Gavroche played by Daniel Huttlestone, but his cockney accent was out of place among all the American accents. I see from IMDB he was plucked from a London production of Oliver!.

Another excellent child performance was by young Cosette, 10-year-old Isabelle Allen. She and Jackman totally clicked on screen. However, Amanda Seyfried who played older Cosette was insipid. There was no hint of the strength of the young orphan she had been. And her vibrato! She is one of the few characters who is allowed to sing out her solos in full voice, and she sounds like a chipmunk. There were several women in the cast who had better voices and were, to me, more attractive. Samantha Barks won my heart as the older Éponine, and was lucky enough to be allowed to sing On My Own without choking on emo. She was not so lucky with A Little Fall of Rain, again the sacrifice of music to make a more realistic scene.

There was some stand-out singing by Eddie Redmayne as Marius, Aaron Tveit as Enjolras, though both were a little inconsistent.

I am going to ignore Sasha Cohen and Helena Carter, except to say they were victims. Repulsive makeup and costumes, over-choreographed numbers, pushed way over the top. And neither of them were playing old enough for the parts by half.

There was a lot of repulsive costume and makeup in the show, mostly among the peons and prostitutes. Which is amusing because in most of their close-ups, Crowe, Jackman and Redmayne did not appear to be wearing any make-up at all. In his Empty Rooms close-up, you could count the freckles on Redmayne's face and the hairs in his wanna-be mustache.

I liked what they did with the finale sequence. Hathaway is allowed a little more vocal freedom. There was one minor puzzlement - why didn't Fantine have long hair in Paradise?

All in all, I give it 3 stars out of 5. Worth matinée.

1 That was in another revolution story, A Tale of Two Cities.

May 2017

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