Three sentence movie reviews: What a Girl Wants

This movie purports to be a remake of the play the Reluctant Debutante, rather than a remake of the 1958 movie, and I can see why.  Very little remains of the 1958 plot.  This was clearly developed as a vehicle for Amanda Bynes and she does her Amanda Bynes best, as does Colin Firth,* but nothing is going to save this mediocre movie.**

Cost: $2.99 (I could have watched it for free on some site called bmovies, but I feel less okay about finding free versions of movies from this century.
Where watched: on my computer.***

*Apparently, there was a time in Hollywood when Amanda Bynes got top credit and Colin Firth wasn’t even mentioned on the poster.
**I do always appreciate a sighting of Anna Chancellor, whom I first encountered in Four Weddings and a Funeral.
***This will probably be the last movie watched on my desktop computer.  I bought us a brand new TV the next morning on Black Friday.

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Three sentence movie reviews: The Reluctant Debutante

Set your mindset to 1958 to enjoy this delightfully funny film.*  Rex Harrison and Kay Kendall show off their physical comedy skills, and Sandra Dee is perfect as the slightly bored American being put through the debutante wringer.**  Aside from having a great selection of 1958 fashion to take in,*** it also clips right along, avoiding any of that “old movie” slack.

Cost: free, because I wasn’t going to pay to watch a movie from 1958.  I googled “Reluctant Debutant free” and used one of the services.
Where watched:  at home, on my computer.

*Because if you don’t do this, you won’t enjoy it, given the 17-year-old girl paired with a 23 year-old-man. There’s also several instances where a girl being wrestled into a kiss is played off as a minor irritant/no big deal.
**If a trivia note in IMDB is to be believed, she was 14 when this movie was filmed.
***I first encountered this movie at quite the impressionable age, maybe 12 or 13?  The scene is set early on with a title card saying simply:  London: The Season.  I can remember quite clearly thinking with awe, “What is the Season?”  I could tell from the title card it was a Big Deal.  From that point on, I would intermittently wonder what my life would be like if I had a big debut when I was 17. (Which, given that I was an American middle class teenager, was never going to happen, even if I suddenly was transformed to a British citizen, but I didn’t know that.)

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Three sentence movie reviews: A Street Cat Named Bob

Based on a true story, and a good movie to watch with your mom on Thanksgiving.* I could have done less with the prominent use of camera angles from the cat’s perspective, but those fade by mid-movie.  Luke Treadaway’s performance was solid, and he did a good job sharing a screen with a cat.

Cost: Netflix
Where watched: at Mom’s house.

*She picked it out.


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Stickers on my guitar case

Back when I got the Forty Dollar Guitar, I also got this case. I immediately set out to cover it in stickers, because that was the cool thing to do.  Here’s a retrospective.  (To simulate the full effect, I didn’t rotate any of the photos, so some of them are upside down.)

One of my favorite Edward Hopper paintings, also featured in the movie Singles as a title card. (Alas, blurry picture.) Internet research for said title card has turned up nothing. Instead, I found this really great Rolling Stone interview with Cameron Crowe which told me that Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament got a job in the art department for the movie, and it was his handwriting that was featured on the title cards.

College part II

I do not remember the origin of this sticker.

My roommate Erin Feldman made these in college.  I had one on my sewing machine, and when I took it in for repair, the scrubbed it off without asking.  Not cool.  This is the surviving sticker.

Gotta have V. Mars.

Boise band.  Also fond memories.  I still have the t-shirt.

From our first visit.

TriMet swag.

My first Public Radio Station

More TriMet swag.

This bumper sticker is often seen in the Boston area.  When I climbed Mt. Monadnock, I made sure to buy the sticker.

This cracked me up when I saw it on a car, so Matt bought me my own copy for my birthday.

My first without-parents vacation.

I’ve been several times.  This might be from my visit with Jan and Kelly.

He wasn’t my guy, but I admired him.  And I liked the alliteration.

Rebuilding Center.

One of the more recent, from my February visit to Arizona.

My mom brought me this from a Massachusetts trip.

More V. Mars.  These are from the movie kickstarter.

This came from College part I, I think.

If you live in Oregon, it’s good to have this sticker.

College part I

Also from College Part I, this was a song that we sang a lot my second year there.  I’ve never heard it in its original form, but we had our own tune.  (This was before you could find ALL THE SONGS on the internet.  If you had no recording and no sheet music, you were out of luck, or made up your own tune.)

From an “insider” tour.

My brief foray into thinking this computer manufacturer was for me.

I think this was another NOW sticker. Sorry feminist sticker, you didn’t hold fast.

Restaurant in Fort Collins?

When I was selling the guitar, one of the store employees laughed at this one.

College part I, back when the focus was on girls.

Overall views.

Three sentence movie reviews: Lady Bird

Good depictions of mother-daughter relationships are hard to come by in film.* That makes this coming-of-age story a rare gem that manages to capture the senior year attempts at growing up, as well as lay the patchwork for the eventual mother-daughter separation.** Ronan & Metcalf are brilliant as the mother-daughter pair, and props also must go to Beanie Feldstein as the stalwart best friend, and Odeya Rush as the vapid rich girl.

Cost: $9.00 (pre-Thanksgiving treat!)
Where watched: Hollywood Theater. My showing sold out. (!!)

*This is partially because of the general absence of women in film, but also because it’s hard to get the nuance of loving someone who also drives you crazy.
**It’s also a very funny film.

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The Orange Door: Guitarless

In the spring or summer of 1989 my mother drove us to a music shop on Chinden Boulevard, where she paid $40.00 for an acoustic guitar.  (It may have been $60, but for years I’ve called that guitar the Forty Dollar Guitar.)

She bought me the guitar–and also lessons–so that I could be in ninth grade Jazz Band, playing jazz guitar. When it came time to pick who was going to be in Jazz Band, there was another guy who was very good at the guitar and would have made a great addition to the West Junior High Jazz Band. But he refused to take both Concert Band and Jazz Band. I said I would take both, and thus I became the jazz guitarist. This was a terrible idea, as I’m not the kind of person who can go from no knowledge of an instrument to jazz-level competence over a few months.  We placed last at the 1990 Lionel Hampton Chevron Jazz Festival, though I like to think I wasn’t the only cause.

After that failure, I picked up the guitar intermittently.  My musical talent includes learning new instruments quickly, progressing to a certain point of mediocrity, and then going no further.  I played a lot in 1995, when the transition between College Part I and II didn’t go as smoothly as I wanted.  And I made a full push to really learn this guitar, dammit, in 2006, even taking lessons and practicing regularly.  That’s when I bought the current guitar.  That push ended when we bought the house in 2007.

I have fond memories including guitars. There was my introduction to Rise Up Singing, that day at Cottey when Jennifer Comeau got out her guitar and we sang together in the parlor.  The year my boss turned 50, we had a summer plan to assemble a songbook for her 50th birthday party.  Daily, we got out our guitars and worked through songs, getting the song in the best key for singing and the chords in the right place for people to play along with. We used the forty dollar guitar for a couple of years when we sang every day at 10am.  She would play and we both would sing.

And that’s the problem.  I never really took to the guitar.  I think I’m a horizontal musician, not a vertical one.  When you learn chords on the piano, there is a straight line of keys laid out before you, and it’s easy to see how they are formed, and easy to move up or down an octave.  On the guitar, you first learn the pattern your fingers take, then maybe eventually the notes that make up the chord.

Also, with a guitar, when you want to play you have to remove your instrument from a box (or hook, or stand) and fiddle with it to make sure it’s in tune.  When you go to play piano, you just sit down.  For some reason, those extra steps were more of a barrier to practice.

I never got good enough at the guitar so I could play and sing at the same time.  And since I love singing more than guitar playing, it made sense to let the guitar go. Even knowing that, it was hard to do.  I still have the fantasy of an impromptu jam session breaking out in the living room. But it’s been 10 years, and that hasn’t happened yet, so it’s time to let the guitar go.

Here’s to admitting something isn’t going to become my thing.

Bleachers Tiny Desk Concert

It’s the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I have the day off, and I’m working on getting the gumption to go work on the side yard project.  To distract myself from that unfinished project, I’m working on the another (endlessly) unfinished project: the Great 2017 Blog Catch Up.  Having written Song of the Ponth posts for October, I was letting the Mountain Goats autoplay while I wrote and edited.  At some point I clicked back and the computer algorithm that YouTube uses suggested a bunch of Tiny Desk Concerts.  And here were Bleachers.  Given how often they’ve been on my song of the month list (either as Bleachers or as one-third of the now-defunct fun.) I clicked.

And what a great Tiny Desk Concert.  I loved the first song a lot. It manages to use saxophone without inducing terrible 80s-pop-song flashbacks.  There’s a funny bit where Jack Antonoff asks, “how often do you do this?” and disappointment or uncertainty flashes over his face when someone answers.

It’s also interesting to see this version of “Don’t Take the Money,” (In contrast to the Tonight Show Version I referenced previously) and to see how he fights to keep up with the drum machine that is coming out of the boombox.  It doesn’t quite work, which, in an era of overproducing music, I quite enjoy.  Stick with it thorough the end of the song and you will get to see a different charming mistake.

For contrast, here’s the album version of the first song, Everybody Lost Somebody.

Three sentence movie reviews: Kingsman: The Golden Circle

I came prepared to not like this movie, as it was not reviewed favorably, and thus I was less than impressed.  The main problem for me was that there was even more violence in this film than in the first one and it was spread throughout, so I spent a goodly amount of time covering my eyes.*  I was in it for Channing Tatum, and he had maybe five minutes on screen.

Cost: $5.00
Where watched: Jubitz Cinema

*Most of the first film’s run time consisted of training sequences; the violence was mostly saved for the end.

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Side Yard Update: Spreading Sand.

To review. We’ve dug out four inches of dirt, we’ve put down two-ish inches of quarter minus crushed rock.  Now we are to the phase where we put down landscape cloth and spread the sand. Then we place the pavers.

Wish us luck.  I took no photos of the pavers being set into place. More photos coming soon.

Three sentence movie reviews: Spider-Man: Homecoming

I put off seeing this, due to superhero fatigue, but thank goodness I caught up with it, as this movie is an exercise in excellent storytelling.  As someone who loves a good high school film, I can say that this is an quality high school film, with bonus superhero elements. Tom Holland is a great Spider-Man, but special props go to Jacob Batalon as Ned, who aspires to be “the guy in the chair.”

Cost: $1.50 from Redbox
Where watched: at home, with Matt (his second viewing)

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