the Fabulous Fay Film Festival

Since we were housebound yesterday afternoon, we hunkered down and caught up with some backlogged movies.

American Gangster (2007), with Denzel Washington and Russel Crowe. Fascinating and true story of a debonair Harlem criminal who takes over and dominates the NYC heroin trade in the late 60’s early 70’s. This is worth checking out just to see Russel Crowe with a classic Rick Reed 70’s hairstyle. Rick: he could totally play you in the biopic.

La Vie en Rose (2007) This is the oscar-winning French language biography of cabaret singer Edith Piaf. I never much cared for her warbly vocal style, but there’s no question she had passion and emotion in her art. The actress portraying Piaf is amazing and deserves her oscar. I watched some archival Piaf clips on youtube and Marion Cotillard‘s` impersonation was uncanny. Piaf had a tough life, and died of illnesses in middle age. I nearly lost it when she was on her deathbed and recalled an isolated act of kindness by her distant father when she was a child: Over a plate of food in a dingy tavern one night, he silently opened his coat to present her with a doll.

I nearly forgot to mention:
Bait Shop (2008) A comedy starring Billy Ray Cyrus and Bill Engvall, which got some local press earlier this year because it was all shot in the Central Florida area. And its about bass fishing! How bad could it be? Turns out this didn’t go theatrical, it didn’t go straight-to-video, it didn’t even go to pay cable. It went straight to basic cable, and premiered on the USA network last week. I PVR’ed it, and Linda even agreed to watch it. It was pretty damn bad. And it wasn’t just the lousy acting and the crappy execution. The script was just plain stupid. The locations were nice though – some great shots of central Florida lakes!

11 down, 2 to go

Today is the first day of 11th grade for Gina. I didn’t even see her this morning because I left for work before she got up. The first day of the school year has led to our fair share of family stress, trauma and anxiety in years past. Gina is fully resigned to it now, although she hasn’t quite finished her summer reading list.

But you know the real hard one is going to be in 2010, when we see her off to college. (below: Gina’s first day of 2nd grade, 1999.)

Gina off to second grade

Our united planetary journey…

I like reading Kathleen Parker. Linda doesn’t care for her because her politics and gender perspectives are not what you would call progressive. But she is a very good writer. (And she replied to an email question I once sent her.)  I got a kick out of today’s column where she speculates on what Bush, Obama and McCain might have to say to Russian PM Vladimir Putin. The Obama prose is priceless:

From Sen. Barack Obama:

Dear (Former) President Putin:

I’m sorry to be writing this e-mail instead of meeting you in person, preferably in the Oval Office, where I belong. Soon, soon.

Nevertheless, and notwithstanding the foregoing, I felt it imperative that I express my deep concern about Russia’s invasion of the tiny, democratically elected sovereign nation of Georgia. It would appear that you are not familiar with my platform for change and hope. War does not fit into this template and I am quite frankly at a loss for words to express my deep, deep distress.

As the chosen leader of a new generation of Americans who speak a global language of peace, hope, harmony and change, this is simply unacceptable. Quite frankly, your actions pose potentially severe, long-term consequences. I’m not sure what those might be, but they won’t be nice or fun.

Please picture me looking very serious when I say that I respectfully request you to calm down. Life is but a flicker in time and we’re but actors strutting and fretting. That is to say, we’re all on this planetary journey together and our karma is interrelated and interdependent. Thus, it would seem that our differences are best resolved through words, not bombs.

It is said that war is a failure of diplomacy. I would submit that it is also counterintuitive. If my Kenyan father and my Kansan mother and my multinational upbringing taught me anything, it is that we are all One. That said, I am The One the world has been waiting for — and you are, quite frankly, blocking my chi.

As soon as possible, I’d like to sit down and begin talking about how we can resolve these and other differences that threaten peace-loving people, which I’m sure includes you. I haven’t looked into your eyes and would never presume to know your soul, but I do know that we share a common humanity and that we can all just get along.

Yours in Global Harmony,

Acting President Barack Obama

why men aren’t published in Dear Abby

A funny clipping on led me to this snopes item (the failblog item is not real). But at the bottom of the Snopes page is this funny bit:

Dear Abby,

I’ve never written to you before, but I really need your advice on what could be a crucial decision. I’ve suspected for some time now that my wife has been cheating on me.

The usual signs … phone rings but if I answer, the caller hangs up. My wife has been going out with the girls a lot recently although when I ask their names she always says, “Just some friends from work, you don’t know them.”

I always stay awake to look out for her taxi coming home, but she always walks down the drive. Although I can hear a car driving off, as if she has gotten out of the car round the corner. Why? Maybe she wasn’t in a taxi? I once picked her cell phone up just to see what time it was and she went berserk and screamed that I should never touch her phone again and why was I checking up on her.

Anyway, I have never approached the subject with my wife. I think deep down I just didn’t want to know the truth, but last night she went out again and I decided to really check on her.

I decided I was going to park my Harley Davidson motorcycle next to the garage and then hide behind it so I could get a good view of the whole street when she came home. It was at that moment, crouching behind my Harley, that I noticed that the valve covers on my engine seemed to be leaking a little oil.

Is this something I can fix myself or should I take it back to the dealer?

Worried in Colorado

Mad Men

The second season of Mad Men on AMC has begun, and I’m digging it. And I found this site, What Would Don Draper Do? funny stuff. for fans of the show only.

Don Draper

40. Dear Don Draper, My kids have had a lemonade stand all summer and they can’t seem to sell more than 3 cups a day. Any advice?

They’ll do much better after they get tired of sitting there and lose themselves in play and start to circle their bikes and drag their toys through the grass and mark the sidewalks with colored chalk. When that lemonade stand sits in the middle of lazy games of tag, carefree laughter and flashes of stained gingham and sun-bleached hair, no passing neighbor will be able to resist. That sweating pitcher will glow with innocence and optimism. With youth. Any man’d be glad to buy a glass and just stand there, wiping the taste of an endless summer afternoon from his lips. Hell, he’d buy four.

38. Dear Don Draper, I voted for Nixon over Kennedy in the last election because I thought that debate fiasco was all just Hollywood hocus-pocus and great make-up. Now I’m starting to think I may have voted for the wrong candidate. What should I do?

I don’t care. Or vote. I’m a white male. Election results don’t affect me.


cut the lobster shellI have never in my 53 years been much of a lobster eater, but a couple of weeks ago I had a platter at a Red Lobster restaurant that included small broiled lobster tails. They were really good and I’ve been craving some more. So this weekend I picked up some previously-frozen tails from the seafood case at the grocery. I consulted with the Publix seafood guy, and then did some additional research on the web before firing up the grill.

Linda mixed up some butter/olive oil/garlic sauce for basting. I split the shells by cutting straight up the middle with kitchen shears, then put them on a medium heat grill, shell side down until they turned red. Then I basted them again and turned belly side down for another 5-6 minutes. When finished I cut them in half all the way through from the split shell.

Once we all got past the ‘ick’ factor of dealing with such big crustaceans, it was mmmmm, mmmmm. The fleshy part peeled right out of the shell. We had some melted butter and some cocktail sauce, with a little steak and waffle fries on the side. Everyone declared it a success, and I hope to do it again soon.