Saturday, January 3, 2009
Speaking of 2 PM, we have a nice little visit planned for Wednesday with a fellow blogger! It turns out that Marty of Heard at Starbuck's is flying into town that day for a convention, and we arranged to meet at 2 PM! I hadn't said anything yet, because I wanted to make sure that it was going to work out for him (I told him that we're on vacation, so we're flexible!), and barring any unforeseen last minute glitches, we'll be meeting in one of the bars at the Bellagio. It worked out perfectly, because we're staying right across the Strip at Bally's! I'm looking forward to meeting him and chatting with him in person. I'm actually a little bit nervous, because this will be the first time we've met a blogger in person! Although we did meet our New York friend RaQuel a few years ago, after she and I had corresponded for a few years, and that went great, and we're still friends! Marty seems like such a cheery, interesting, and funny guy, and I have a feeling we'll all get along fine and dandy. I'm sure a Bloody Mary will help alleviate my nervousness! [wink]
But before our meeting, we've got plenty going on, including front row seats for "Love" (the Cirque du Soleil show with Beatles music), a tour of the Neon Museum's Boneyard (where aging signs go to retire), and a seafood buffet probably Tuesday night after the Boneyard. I suspect we'll be able to fit a little gambling in there, as well!We've been practicing Blackjack on Facebook, and it's good to hone our skills a bit before sitting down at an actual table. Except just like in real life, there is always a dumbass or two in the bunch...one guy last night hit on 19. I was thinking, "Dude, WTF? You had 19!" Kind of reminded me of Austin Powers. Didn't he hit on 20? Hahaha!
Speaking of Facebook, one of the reasons we've been staying up so late is because we've both become hooked on Mafia Wars. Milwaukee Dan #2 invited me, I invited Ken, and now we're both hooked. Dan is a Level 14 Mogul, Ken is a Level 12 Mogul, and I'm a Level 10 Maniac. Miss Ginger, Mort, and Barbara have also joined the Family, and they've all had my back several times! Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to save me this afternoon when we were out running errands. Turns out a little weasel named Archie put out a hit on me, and someone whacked me. Jeez, just because I fought him until I took all his money? Well, as Mark Twain said, reports of my death are greatly exaggerated, and I'm back at full strength and ready to carry on with my duties. Watch your back, Archie, whoever you are. Extra Arm doesn't forget.
In the meantime, I've got pretty much everything out that I want to take to Vegas. It was kind of hard to pack for this trip, because we're leaving cold Indiana for Vegas, which will be in the 50's during the day, but get down into the 30's at night. I've got enough variety with jeans, slacks, sweaters, and even a Hawaiian shirt, that I should be okay. I wish I didn't have to take a winter coat, but I know how cold I get!
We got in a Vegas frame of mind last night by watching "Ocean's Thirteen." I know 12 and 13 weren't as good as "Ocean's Eleven" (and I love the original with the Rat Pack!) but I still think the movies are a blast. C'mon...Clooney, Brad Pitt, AND Matt Damon? I'm just sayin'. Anyhoo, it was fun to see the Strip and to start to get into the mood. After the movie, I found the trailer for "Viva Las Vegas," and it is a kicky blast! It shows a lot of downtown (which is our favorite part of Vegas), and it's sad to see how many legendary casinos are now gone. The Mint that was downtown was such a cool building! Quite a few of the downtown casinos have survived, including Binion's Horseshoe and the Golden Nugget (and my personal fave, the Golden Gate). So many on the Strip are gone, though--the Aladdin, the Stardust, the Desert Inn, the Sands, and the "champagne tower" at the Flamingo shown in the trailer are all history. The new casinos and hotels are beautiful, but I'm old school and love the allure of the old, glamorous Vegas. I'm sure that's why I love downtown so much--those casinos have been there for decades. And Vegas Vic abides!
We're taking the laptop, both of our cameras, and my little Flip video camera, so stay tuned for the sights and sounds of Vegas, Baby! In the meantime, sing along with Elvis!
Viva Las Vegas
Bright light city gonna set my soul
Gonna set my soul on fire
Got a whole lot of money that's ready to burn
So get those stakes up higher
There's a thousand pretty women waitin' out there
And they're all livin' devil may care
And I'm just the devil with love to spare
Viva Las Vegas, Viva Las Vegas
How I wish that there were more
Than the twenty-four hours in the day
'Cause even if there were forty more
I wouldn't sleep a minute away
Oh, there's blackjack and poker and the roulette wheel
A fortune won and lost on every deal
All you need's a strong heart and a nerve of steel
Viva Las Vegas, Viva Las Vegas
Viva Las Vegas with your neon flashin'
And your one arm bandits crashin'
All those hopes down the drain
Viva Las Vegas turnin' day into nighttime
Turnin' night into daytime
If you see it once
You'll never be the same again
I'm gonna keep on the run
I'm gonna have me some fun
If it costs me my very last dime
If I wind up broke up well
I'll always remember that I had a swingin' time
I'm gonna give it everything I've got
Lady luck please let the dice stay hot
Let me shoot a seven with every shot
Viva Las Vegas, Viva Las Vegas
Viva, Viva Las Vegas!
Friday, January 2, 2009
The day after we watched "From Dusk Till Dawn," we watched "From Dusk Till Dawn 2 Texas Blood Money." I won't say that it was unwatchable, but it totally did not grab me. It was just kind of blah. It even had Robert Patrick in it (the liquid metal terminator), but really...yaaaaawn.
Last night we watched "From Dusk Till Dawn 3 The Hangman's Daughter." Now THAT'S what I'm talkin' about! It goes back to Mexico (remember, the Titty Twister strip club in the first movie was in Mexico), but is set about 100 years ago. We find out pretty quickly that one of the main characters is none other than Ambrose Bierce!
I was delighted! I've written about Bierce before, and my interest in him. He lived in Elkhart County for a while (one county east of us) and they have some of his things at my sister's museum. Bierce was a fascinating character--his satirical writing style was similar to Mark Twain's, but much more acerbic--and although his body was never found, it is believed that he traveled to Mexico to fight with Pancho Villa, and perished there. And that's where he comes into the story of FDTD3--he's on his way to find Villa and join up with him.
But the course of a revolutionary is never easy, and in a small town, he witnesses an execution gone awry. The bandit about to be hanged has an unexpected shooter who helps him escape, and the bandit grabs the cruel hangman's beautiful daughter on his way out of town. Bierce gets out of town on a stagecoach, where he encounters a pious couple determined to save his soul (considering how Bierce felt about religion, this was a nice touch).
Bierce: They say when a man drinks, he develops certain... powers.
The husband: What kind of powers?
Bierce: Clairvoyance. Second sight.
The husband: My wife is right, Mr. Bierce. You ought to take better care of yourself.
Bierce: This is a preservative, and I'm pickling myself for your great... beyond.
The escaped bandit and his gang believe the stagecoach is carrying a fortune in gold, so they ride after it and rob it, only to find there is no gold aboard. The bandits take the horses, and Bierce and the pious couple trek through the desert until they find a building.
It turns out to be a bar, as well as a house of ill repute. Things get bad for the pious couple when he leaves her in their room to get her some water, and he decides to cut loose a bit. The bandit and the hangman's daughter travel through the desert and also end up at the bar, and we find that the hangman's daughter and the madame of the house have a connection.
The bloodbath soon begins, and Bierce and the bandito end up fighting together to try to defeat the evil that thrives in the desert.
As lame as the second movie was, this one was top-notch! Not quite as fresh and exciting as the first one (and no George Clooney), but still very, very good. Interestingly enough, it seems that those involved in writing (Quentin Tarentino) and directing (Robert Rodriguez) the first one had very little to do with the second one, with both of them listed as executive producers. In the third one, they both also get executive producer credits, but Rodriguez is also listed as one of the writers. Although he didn't direct it, I think he must have steered it back in the direction of the original.
I love it that they included a historical figure in this, especially one as intriguing as Bierce. A very cool and interesting twist!
A quick spoiler for the first and third movies
One of the coolest shots in both movies comes at the very end, when the backs of the Titty Twister and the bar in the third movie are shown. We see that the front is only the tip of the building, and the back goes much further down; in fact, it appears to be a Mayan temple, and the two bars are actually the same building. It makes me wonder what birthed these nasty creatures, and what their exact origins are. Cool idea.
End of spoiler
When watching all these guys get lured in by beautiful women in the first and third movies, it made me think about how classic that scenario is. I'm not sure exactly how far back that theme goes, but the one that I think of the most is the Sirens in Greek mythology, who sang so sweetly from their island that sailors were lured to their deaths upon the rocks in trying to reach the women. I suppose that falls under the "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is" umbrella. She doesn't want your hot self. She wants your money...or your blood.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Spoilers ahead, along with some language
George Clooney and Quentin Tarentino play a couple of brothers, Seth and Richie Gecko, who are crooks and killers, and need to get to Mexico to meet a guy for a "business" deal. They hijack the motor home of a preacher named Jacob (Harvey Keitel), and his two kids. They make it to Mexico, and get to the meeting place, which is a biker bar and strip club called the Titty Twister. As the evening progresses, they find out that these girls really suck...and not in a good way!
This movie is just a heck of a lot of fun. There is plenty of subtle humor, as you can see in this exchange between Jacob and one of the bikers:
Jacob: Has anybody here read a real book about vampires, or are we just remembering what a movie said? I mean a real book.
Sex Machine: You mean like a Time-Life book?
I told Ken that all the great horror movies have a touch of dark humor. I liked this conversation, where Seth has just been through a very rough night:
Carlos: So, what, were they psychos, or...
Seth: Did they look like psychos? Is that what they looked like? They were vampires. Psychos do not explode when sunlight hits them, I don't give a fuck how crazy they are!
End of spoilers
I was surprised to see that this movie was made in 1996--I thought it was quite a bit earlier. This was made during George Clooney's "ER" time period (1994-2000), so it was when he was just starting to make the transition to movies and away from TV. Even though his character is a killer, you can't help but like him, because he ends up doing the right thing and being a bit of a hero. It's hard to dislike George, though, isn't it? Quentin Tarentino is great as the slimy Richie, and I always like Harvey Keitel--remember The Fixer in "Pulp Fiction?" I'm not a big fan of Juliette Lewis, but she was good in this, and Cheech Marin plays not one but three roles (the hawker outside the club is a riot). The guy who plays Sex Machine is Tom Savini, the legendary horror movie makeup and special effects guy who went on to act and direct.
We may have George Clooney in this movie, ladies, but the guys have Salma Hayek and her dance. I told Ken, "I'm a girl and even I have to admit that's hot!"
It's not a movie for the faint-hearted, because there is plenty of foul language, lots of blood and decapitations, melting, gooey vampires, and junk like that. It also has a totally kickass soundtrack, which I think I'm going to have to look for. This is a modern classic vampire movie, ranking right up there with "The Lost Boys." Hey, now that I think about that movie, there were a couple of brothers in that one, the Frog brothers. In "From Dusk Till Dawn," we have the Gecko brothers. I wonder if that was an homage?
Here's the trailer, and if you like this kind of movie, this is a great one. Thanks for the present, Honey!
RABBIT RABBIT RABBIT!
Some of you who have read me for a while know that I say that on the first of the month. I don't always put it in a blog entry, but I always say it at some point on the first. Chick on the Bob and Tom Show says it, and that's where I picked it up. I've been meaning to find out a little more about it and write an entry, and it seems like the first day of the new year is a good day to do so. (A while back, a reader--I think it was Estela--found a few bits of information about it, but I neglected to save her email. Sorry, Estela!)
The exact origin of the superstition is unknown, though it has allegedly appeared in print at least as early as 1920 in England. Today it has spread to most of the English-speaking countries of the world, and is related to the widely held belief that rabbits are a "lucky" animal (think of carrying a rabbit's foot for good luck).
Blog forum posts range from hearing this in the early forties from a coworker, to hearing it from their uncle who served in World War I, to their mother using it as a child in Kentucky in the late 1800's. Most accounts trace the saying to England. Maybe some of my British friends can weigh in on this. Are you familiar with this custom?
There are multiple variations:
It is believed that saying "Rabbit Rabbit" on the first day of the New Year will bring yearlong good luck, and the converse: believing that not saying it will bring bad luck.
Being the first to say "rabbit rabbit" to a person on the first of the month will bring good luck. Once someone says rabbit rabbit to you, you are no longer allowed to repeat it to anyone, and you will have bad luck for the month.
Although some of the earliest written references using "rabbit rabbit rabbit," other versions repeat it only twice, or saying just "rabbit" or "rabbits."
The earliest referenced usage may be to saying "rabbits" three times before going to sleep the last night of the month, and then "hares" three times first thing upon waking, but accounts from just two years later report it was three "rabbits" in the morning with no "hares" at all.
Another variation is "bunny bunny hop hop."
Saying "black rabbits" the night before, and "white rabbits" following morning.
Believing that the effect is stronger on one's month of birth.
Referring to the first day of each month as "Rabbit Day."
Various ways to counteract forgetting to say it, most commonly saying it backwards ("tibbar, tibbar") before falling asleep or saying "Moose Moose" upon waking on the second day of the month.
A different but related practice of saying "Happy White Rabbit's Day" to someone in order to bring good luck.
One variation involves an element of competition: Saying "rabbit, rabbit" to another person on the first of the month entitles the speaker to the luck of the listener for the duration of the month. A more modern variation is to say "rabbit, rabbit" to someone on the first day of the month, and whoever says it first wins. The idea of luck is not involved.
Saying "White rabbits, white rabbits, white rabbits."
Saying "white rabbit, white rabbit, white rabbit" as the first words of the month, before getting out of bed -- and the speaker must first reverse position, so that speaker's head is at the foot of the bed and vice versa.
Around 1920 the following belief is common in many parts of Great Britain, with local variants: To secure good luck of some kind, usually a present, one should say ‘Rabbits’ three times just before going to sleep on the last day of the month, and then ‘Hares’ three times on waking the next morning.
Another variation brought about by the Polish is the phrase "Bunny, Bunny."
In the early 1990s, Nickelodeon had a segment called "Nick days," which had an event for every day of the year. The first of every month was "Rabbit Rabbit Day." According to the segment, the phrase "rabbit rabbit" must be the first thing said to the first person you see.
In some areas of the Southern United States, e.g., Tennessee and Mississippi, campers will say "I hate white rabbits" in response to campfire smoke blowing into their face, hoping the smoke will go elsewhere.
At least I know I'm not crazy for saying it--it really is a common superstition in many countries. I'm not really a superstitious person, and it's just kind of a fun and silly thing to do. But just in case, I made this entry early enough so that you still have time to say "Rabbit rabbit rabbit!" and bring yourself some good luck for the coming year!
As for last night, I hope everyone had a safe and fun celebration. The Havarti-Cheddar fondue turned out great (it had sun-dried tomatoes and green onions in it for some extra flavor) and I loved our new fondue pot for cooking beef! Ken made the dipping sauces, and although all were good, my favorite was the honey mustard. Next time I'd like to try a soy-ginger sauce. We couldn't even eat everything I'd set out, and we were both so stuffed we didn't have room for the fruits dipped in chocolate! That might be tonight's meal--along with the champagne we also didn't get to last night! After we cleaned off the table, we curled up on the couch (Sheeba included), and watched the countdown. We (all three of us) then proceeded to fall asleep. We're a bunch of firecrackers here at Nutwood, make no mistake about it! At least we made it to midnight--when I was working, I rarely did.
Today we're going to take down the tree, since we're leaving on Sunday. We'll get that taken care of so we don't have to worry about it when we get back. Perhaps more later!
Rabbit rabbit. (2008, November 25). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17:13, January 1, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Rabbit_rabbit&oldid=254044558
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
When I got up this morning, I was sitting here in the dining room at the computer. I kept hearing little sounds coming from the garage...it sounded like something was rooting around in the recycling bins, but I wasn't exactly sure. When I opened the door to look out, the noises stopped. I sat back down, and a little later they started up again. I crept over to the door, being as quiet as a little mousie, and snatched open the door--a-HA! Nothing. I got dressed for a workout and when I opened the garage door to step out into the workout area, I saw a tail disappear under the stuff in the recycling bin. A little mousie tail. I could hear little rustles and chirpy sounds coming from the bin, so I got my coat and gloves on and took the bin outside.
I dumped out most of the cans, but still no sign of Mousie. I heard another little sound from the can and dumped out the rest, along with Mousie! He ran over by the garage door, and dived under a rock leaning against the siding. He wasn't one of those little grey mousies that Sheeba likes to find in the basement, he was a good-sized brown field mouse. I was feeling pretty good about rescuing the little fella, but then I got to thinking...
It's fairly cold here today, and it's snowed a little bit. There's a little bit of wind, sometimes gusting. Mousie somehow found his way into the recycling bin, where he had access to the small amounts of beer left in a few cans, and we have heaters out there, so it's about 55 degrees in the garage.
I bet Mousie was cursing that buzz-killing brunette lady who dumped him out of his nice, warm, beery bin and into the cold, snowy outdoors.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
You've probably all heard by now that Bristol Palin had her baby. They were reporting it on CNN last night, and I couldn't catch what they named the kid. I was like, "Trick? Track? Trig? What are they saying?!" Ken said, "I think Trig is the one baby's name," but he couldn't catch the new baby's name, either. I heard the story twice and still couldn't figure out what the name was. I finally saw it online today, and in the fine tradition of weird names that her mothah apparently decided to follow, Bristol has named her baby boy...
You heard me.
They gave him the father's last name, even though he and Bristol haven't yet entered into wedded bliss, so he's Tripp Johnston.
I'm sorry, I just can't help it. That's just a dorky name. And I'm sure there will be some teasing eventually. "Hey, have a nice Tripp, see ya next fall!" "Stop Trippin' me out!" Or maybe he'll follow in the footsteps of his paternal grandmother and "take a trip," if you get my drift (better living through pharmaceuticals, doncha know). The poor kid is innocent in this whole thing and ends up with the name TRIPP. He's probably going to end up as the answer to a trivia question one day, so at least they could have given him a cool, macho name like Clint or Rock or Steele.
If you're so inclined, visit the Hazies and give 'em a listen. "Trip Free Life" is a cool song, as is "Skin and Bones." Bristol Palin sure doesn't have a Tripp free life for a few years to come, does she? Neither does Levi. Have either of them finished high school yet? [shaking my head] Oh, and...
Author's Note: Just to clarify, in yesterday's entry about To Fight or Not to Fight I wasn't implying that if couples DO argue, they have a bad relationship. The thing is, it's different for everyone, and what works for us may not work for others. However, I don't appreciate being accused of lying when I say that Ken and I don't fight, or being told that we are dysfunctional (nobody here did that--just someone with a bone to pick and a battle-axe to grind) or that we have a bad marriage. To imply such a thing speaks more of their own dysfunction, rather than whatever dysfunction that they think they see in us. I believe the proper psychological term there might be "projection."
Monday, December 29, 2008
Both Ken and I have written at various times about how we don't fight. I suppose there are some that think that's abnormal, but as I've said before, thinking we're abnormal for not bickering with each other probably says more about your psyche than about ours! I've been trying to wade through a large stack (some might say abnormally large) of magazines that have been accumulating for a few months, and I read an interview in Good Housekeeping that made me think, "That's it exactly! " It was an interview with an actor named James Denton. I'm not familiar with the guy, but apparently he plays the sexy plumber on "Desperate Housewives," a show we don't watch. Check this out:
Q: What's the secret of a good marriage?
Denton: This might sound a little strange, but my wife is from midwestern stock, and she's not big on sitting and talking about her feelings. It's great when you can find that, because most guys--myself included--aren't really into over-analyzing things. Sharing my emotions doesn't come naturally to me, and she had that same keep-your-feelings-to-yourself upbringing. Don't get me wrong: We talk about things that are important, but we're not having those "here's how I feel about everything" conversations at 1 AM that I've had to endure in other relationships. I sound like a total caveman.
Q: Not quite. So, when you do let it all out, is it a huge explosion?
Denton: Actually, no! We don't fight, ever--and it's not because we refuse to. We're just on the same wavelength, so we say what's on our minds and move on. I do have a horrible temper, but it's usually in the garage, when I've done something stupid when I'm trying to build something.
That sums up exactly how Ken and I feel about things, and about fighting. Yes, we discuss things, but we do so civilly, logically, and calmly. Histrionics don't come into play at all, because neither of us operates that way. When Denton mentioned that 1 AM conversation, it took me back to a past relationship, when I'd want nothing more than to go to sleep and stop talking about it. He'd follow me around like an evil puppy, talking and talking and talking, if I tried to go to bed, he'd follow me there and talk some more, until I just wanted to scream, "For the love of God, will you PLEASE SHUT YOUR PIEHOLE?!" That sort of behavior is so alien to me, and it's really pleasant to be able to have a rational discussion, come to an agreement, and be done with it. No need for endless discussions, or for drama.
What's kind of funny is that both Ken and I have bad tempers, but it takes a lot to get us to the point where we lose it, and if we do lose it, we don't direct that flamethrower in each other's direction. I remember kicking a closet door in my dorm room and breaking it; punching the hell out of a couple of pillows as a young adult; and getting into screaming matches with the aforementioned ex. [shudder] My temper has definitely mellowed as I've gotten older, and I've found that you can accomplish a lot more if you ditch the drama and just discuss. It has to be a lot better for your health, too.
As far as not fighting with Ken, it's amazing what two people can accomplish when they're on the same page. We are simpatico.
Hey, I found out from our neighbor across the road that the people to the right of him will be moving out soon. Apparently they had an adjustable rate mortgage, and their payment went from $900 a month to $2000. YIKES! I don't wish ill will on anyone, but I can't say that I'm upset that they're moving. They've made the place look so trashy, and their cats wander the area and come over here to eat our birds and they agitate Sheeba! Dave said that he thought they are just going to leave all their cats and if they do, he'll kill them (the cats, not the people). I asked him to let me know if they do that, because I think there are some animal shelters that will take in cats like that. He said he'd let me know. Jamie, if it comes to that, I could use some advice! Who do I need to call to give these cats a new lease on life? And talking about my temper...I'd love to tell those people just what I think of them letting their cats wander all over the place, and Dave said that he thinks most of them aren't fixed. Grrrrr!
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Yeah, pretty lame as far as jokes go, isn't it? I got a second wind last night and stayed up late. After the rain yesterday, the winds kicked up and were really howling. The power stuttered and came back on...and then it went out. We've lived here for 6 years, and I'm pretty familiar with the terrain, so I felt my way back to the bedroom to get the flashlight I keep by my side of the bed. I had no problem getting to the bedroom, but I miscalculated when it came to the jog in the wall where the closet is, and WHAM! Face first into the wall. I broke the impact with my forehead, though. Ha! It's a good thing I'm hard-headed. It's sore when I touch it, but I didn't get a knot or anything.
I got my flashlight and used the land line phone to call the power company. Other people had already reported the outage, and it turns out that there were only about a thousand of us due to some downed power lines in the area. I sat out in the dining room while I finished my beverage and in the faint glow coming from the direction of the town, I watched the tree branches sway and listened to the winds blow. It was actually kind of neat and only a tiny bit spooky (and spooky in a good way). Sometimes when Mother Nature wallops me up side the head with a fierce thunderstorm, or intense lightning, or high winds like last night--or sometimes something as pleasant as a perfect summer day--I am in awe and so grateful for what we have here. It really is our little slice of heaven on earth, and I'm very happy that we have the privilege of taking care of it for a while.
Anyhoo, the power was off and on a couple of times last night, and came on for good around 10:30, in plenty of time for football! My Colts won in a meaningless game (sorry, Joyce!) and Ken's Bears lost in a game that could have gotten them into the playoffs.
One of the things we discovered in the room cleanup last night was a DVD of "The Village," a sort of spooky movie directed by M. Night Shyamalan. We thought we'd watched it some time ago, but neither of us remembered it at all.
Warning: Here there be spoilers!
Even though we hadn't seen it, it was obvious to both of us pretty quickly that this wasn't set in the past, and that the village in question was actually an enclave protected and removed from modern society. I suppose the big "wow" moment was supposed to be when the blind girl finds her way to civilization, but since we'd already figured it out early on, it was more like an "oh, big surprise" moment.
End of spoilers
I didn't hate this movie, and William Hurt and Joaquin Phoenix are always great, but I found it sort of blah. I guess I'm just jaded when it comes to scary movies, because I didn't find this one all that scary, or even especially suspenseful. It started verrrrry sloooooow, but picked up a little ways in, enough so that we were intrigued. But all in all, nothing overly exciting. When it comes to spooky villages, I'll take "Village of the Damned" any ol' day!