December 9th, 2005


The Update & The Rival

Someone like David Edelstein, film critic of Slate (my current favorite), said words to the effect that December is to film critics what April is to accountants. There's lots of screenings of stuff, some of which won't open in Atlanta until January or February, and it's also a time to play catch-up for stuff I missed (like 'March of the Penguins' and 'Murderball') for both best/worst-of-the-year list fodder and, in my case, voting for the Southeastern Film Critics Association superlatives -- the deadline of which is either Dec. 17 or 18, I'm not sure which. So until then, I need to watch as much as I can squeeze in, which takes time away from the blogging (as do little distractions like my job and my family).

The blog has another kind of rival in 'A Feast for Crows' by George R.R. Martin, a 650-something page fantasy novel and already looks to be another major page-turner. It's the fourth book in Martin's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series, and it's the SHORT one -- the others each are 800-900 pages. Trying not to sound defensive, I'll point out that the first volume ('A Game of Thrones') has virtually no "magic" in it, apart from the prologue and epilogue: it instead reads like a sweeping historical epic set in, oh, the England of 'King Lear.' Of course, with literally a couple of thousands of pages of text ALREADY, it's complicated to keep track of who the players are in the epic power struggle, and the books have appendices of the rival "houses" and their main players (that run DOZENS) of pages. Want to know how hooked I am on it? I've seriously thought about reading the first three books a SECOND time, even though I just read them three years ago.

I can't wait to dive into it more -- but instead I'm blogging before bed-time. I hope you appreciate it.

My nephew went home from the hospital Tuesday with a clean bill of health, after several scary days suffering from viral meningitis. (He had to have a spinal tap, an MRI and an EEG, as well as lots of IV stuff.) But my sister- and brother-in-law have their baby back, and he's supposedly back to his old self. We're all relieved.

I saw 'King Kong' tonight, all three hours (not counting closing credits) of it. My review will go up on-line Wednesday afternoon, but for now I'll just saw that my favorite part was the...

Other things I've seen recently are 'Pride & Prejudice' (very pretty and painterly, but while Keira Knightley's pretty good, she seems about 12 years old); 'Capote' (great!), a French film called 'Cache' (also great but disturbing -- touches on themes of revenge, violence and racial scapegoating that have turned up a lot in movies of the post 9/11 period); and 'Brokeback Mountain' (very good, especially the first "act"). Between the latter three I probably won't have room for 'The 40 Year Old Virgin' on my Top 10 list, but part of me really wants to.

Would've seen another movie this morning but they sent the prints to the wrong place. Tomorrow is the screening for Spielberg's 'Munich.'

More blogging soon. Maybe. Between the movies. And the book. And the holidays.

A tree comes down. A tree goes up.

Every since goudabonbon and I moved into our house, we've had a scary tree looming over our heads. It's a big, thick, unhealthy pine with a ghastly gash on one side, standing precariously a few feet from our dining room, with droopy, claw-like limbs poised over the roof. I remember pointing it out to our realtor (an old and dear family friend) and she said, regarding the prospect of it falling on us "That's what homeowner's insurance is for!" Which is one of those statements that you glide over at the time, but come back to after the fact. I mentioned the tree to a friend this week and he said "Oh, the Sword-of-Damocles tree?"

Before we bought this house, we were like any good environmentally-friendly liberals when it came to trees and, like The Lorax, would feel incensed and despondent when we saw people having them taked down from their property. That was before we spent several years living with pine trees on our lot and in our neighborhood -- pines seem to specialize in growing too high for their brittle would to support, and in snapping in half or toppling over in high winds. So every time there'd be a bad storm, goudabonbon would lay in bed and listen, wondering "Is this it?" Once there was a hard freeze and the power went out one night, and we could hear ice accumulating on branches (all over the neighborhood apparently), weighing them down until
one would go crashing to the ground (or somebody's roof). It was like living through the blitz. Fortunately, nothing hit OUR roof.

So after a few years of that hanging over us, we're like "Pine trees? Get 'em outta here! TIM-BER!" And this week, thanks to some holiday-related generosity from my mother-in-law, we finally had the big monster tree taken out. The guy and his crew were supposed to call Sunday night, because they weren't going to come if it was raining, and since it was rainy Sunday and Monday, we didn't hear from them. Tuesday afternoon goudabonbon and Sweetness went out somewhere, there was a knock at the door, and there was the tree crew, popping by at 2:30. Oh please, don't call ahead. A half-dozen guys clambering on our roof with chainsaws and ropes and backing a woodchipper into our driveway? How could THAT possibly be inconvenient? Pshaw!

They finished Wednesday and did a good job, scurrying up the tree, first cutting off the branches, then taking off the trunk in sections. I stood in the backyard and watched as they sawed through the base of the stump and guys pulled on ropes so the trunk fell back into the yard, and not forward into our kitchen. It hit the ground hard: WHUMP! which was kind of exciting.

Simultaneously, we've put up our Christmas tree, having bought one at Home Depot last Sunday. I had remembered that we had a $25 Home Depot gift card lying around (it came with the new hot water heater we had to buy a few months ago -- ugh). I felt like a genius. The tree's not decorated, though: two of our three strands of lights are out, and there's no point in putting on ornaments without lights, so we've got this massive plant in our living room with a little skirt of lights, and otherwise nothing. With luck we can get it looking all Christmasy this weekend.

P.S. Like the new name for the blog? It came from a long-ago exchange with goudabonbon. We were talking about the phrase "a quiet dignity" (as in "Doesn't Lou the cat have a quiet dignity?") and I asked, rhetorically "As opposed to what OTHER kind? goudabonbon suggested "Loud, honking dignity?"
Anyway, it seems to go with my photo.
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    O tannenbaum, O tannenbaum, you're such a lovely tannenbaum!