Saturday, August 14, 2004


What a strange film.
There was a long dry spell for me in Tim Burton's career. He made such fun, wonderful, beautiful films at the beginning of his career which culminated in Ed Wood, which I might argue as his best film up until that point (although Pee Wee's Big Adventure is my favorite.) Then there was ten years of little and what little he directed in those years was utter crap. I just figured he had too much money to be in touch with his art ever again. He finally proved me wrong with Big Fish, which I might argue as being his best film so far. I'd be wrong though. Edward Scissorhands is clearly his best work.
Sleepy Hollow came right in the dead center of his crap decade. I might argue it's the best of his crap decade. I mean, it's sure as hell better than Planet of the Apes if for no other reason than I can watch Sleepy Hollow without once throwing something really hard at the screen.
I also like it because it fits so well into what Tim Burton does. Part of his genius and part of what I like about him is that he's a genre buster. I mean, what section of the video store do you put his films in? Sleepy Hollow has elements of a love story, horror in a big budget way, dark comedic elements, and it's a period piece. Kind of.
Also in typical Tim Burton fashion it's definately his story. It has little more than names in common with the Washington Irving story.
It's not often you see a hundred million dollar blockbuster that revolves around people getting their heads chopped off. That was kind of nice too.
Johnny Depp gives another great performance. He's good in everything, even when he's in bad films. And he's steered clear bad films for the most part. I can only think of Secret Window and The Astronaut's Wife (although From Hell and Chocolat were pretty uneven, don't you think? And I'm not counting anything Pre-Jump Street.) Everything else he touches seems to be gold.
It's got a great character cast. Michael Gambon, Christopher Lee, Michael Gough, Lisa Marie, Martin Landau, and Christopher Walken. Christina Ricci and Casper Van Dien don't ruin it either.
But I don't think anyone will be terribly angry if I point out that the film doesn't really work. It missteps a lot. The plot is convoluted. Washington Irving's story wasn't quite so bloody and certainly not quite as much raucous fun, but it's a straightforward potboiler story that's simply told. The film is written by the cat who wrote Se7en. Tim Burton's stumbling block, especially in his early career, and the point that the critics like to harp on is how episodic and disjointed of a storyteller he is. I think he proved he's overcome that in Big Fish. I think Sleepy Hollow was a film where he was working on his chops in that department.
All in all, though, it's a good autumn movie and maybe if more of us watch it right now the heat will go away and the leaves will start falling. And hell beasts will behead people. But they'll probably deserve it.

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Friday, August 13, 2004

I won't lie to you. That's a whole lot of Hemingway. Posted by Hello
I just heard that Julia Child died. Wow. I mean, I guess it wasn't a big surprise because she was in her 90s. But she was one of those icons I never expected to die. Like Brando.
We all owe a lot to her and probably don't even realize it. The fact that we have such a diversified, melting pot (as it were) of a world kitchen to choose from when we eat is largely due to Julia Child. The cooking shows I watch (or watched when I had a television) from my sainted Alton Brown to that rat bastard Bobby Flay all owe their livelihood to Julia Child. If it weren't for her, I'd probably do all of my cooking from recipes passed down through my family. A very ethnocentric, Pennsylvania Dutch kitchen that would be.
Plus the fact that that's pretty much all of the old guard who created Public Televison gone. Julia Child, Fred Rogers and Jim Henson.
I'm afraid this will be a passing that people wont properly mourn because they really aren't aware of what they lost and how important it was to their everyday lives. As a gustatory experimentor and a ragamuffin gourmet, I'm finding that I'm much sader at this loss than I expected to be.

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Thursday, August 12, 2004

 Posted by Hello
My day actually wasn't half as bad as I expected. It was quite pleasant. After my usual morning work and lunch I walked to get some more books for inventory. It wasn't mind-numbingly hot. It was sweaty hot, but not too bad.My personalized, autographed Caitlin Kiernan book with accompanying original art arrived today. That perked me right up.The jeep (one of Pat's family's two cars) broke down at the mall, so Pat and I went to try and fix it. Between Pat and I we've got all the knowledge that our father instilled in us on how to fix a car. We know doodly squat. So we called Don who figured it out right quick.I had some really thick lentil soup for dinner (I need to get over my fear of water in my soups. My soup rabies.) I went to the Farmer's Market again. That was neat. Then I drove far out past Durham for no good reason aside from seeing what was out there under the pretense of finding thrift stores and libraries in Durham. It's quite a lovely drive out there, especially right after sundown when there are large fires going on. It looks like an area where Nick Cave songs happen.

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All indications point to today being a bit rough. About four hours after trying to eat my ruined dinner my stomach told me, "For what you have done to me, I shant let you sleep tonight."
I told it that sleep would make both of us feel better, but it would have none of it.
When I came out of my half sleep fog to the radio alarm this morning, the cat on the radio said that it was supposed to be in excess of 100 degrees farenheit today. It already felt close to it. I decided to go quickly and do my walking chores. I also decided to take it easy today.
Sorry to vent. I got some pumpkin granola at the store to try out. Also got some popcorn kernels to try a popcorn recipe I found in Alton Brown's book. Also ingredients to make my own lentil soup.
Also I forgot to mention that yesterday, when I was driving back from Paradise, I looked over out in the wild hill land part of the drive, and saw a huge plume of smoke out about 30 miles or so. The plume was several miles wide. They were working on it because half of the smoke was white and half black. I know it was a lot of destruction, but I was filled with awe looking at it.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Books to ship, checks to deposit. Then I sat around editing for far too long.
I decided on a whim to go to Paradise (as a quick aside, Leon Redbone is coming to Paradise in September. I'm a little miffed because I won't be able to afford it since I'm going to see Nicki Jaine a few days later. But it's okay. I've seen him before and he's one of the best performers I've ever seen.) I hadn't been to Paradise since it was very cold and snowy. I thought I'd try and find myself a copy of Caitlin Kiernan's Silk, which is the next book I want to read. I didn't find it, but I found many many books for my inventory and a Poppy Z Brite novel for myself, which is better than a kick in the teeth.
I came home, put the new inventory online and royally screwed up my dinner. I saw it happening. It was the moment of pouring the garlic powder into the rice when I realized I had the "pouring large amounts" side of the garlic powder top open instead of the "sprinkling lightly" side. I tried to save it by spooning out as much powder as I could, but I still ended up with garlic cakes. After eating what I could stand to, I decided I needed an ice cream cone (yes, that's two days in a row of ice cream products. I know I know I know. It's also two days in a row of over 2 1/2 hours of walking in heat near 100 degrees farenheit.)
After my ice cream I decided to check for the licorice Altoids at a major chain store because I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel of places to check. I'm coming to the conclusion that they aren't for sale anywhere in Chico.
I went to the major chain discount store and found black light christmas lights, which aren't for Christmas at all but rather for sale for Halloween. I thought they'd look nice on my ceiling as a soft light. They do. They make the room look kind of sexy, which would be helpful if anything sexy went on in my room.
That was my day.

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This is how I feel today. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

A few quick updates. There doesn't seem to be a single liquorice Altoid in all of Chico. There is a store called Shubert's, though, that sells a drink called a Brown Cow which is mighty nice when you've been walking for two hours in the Chico heat.

I don't understand the esoteric timetables of Chico poetry, if any. I tried to go to one over a month ago and the place was closed for the night like an hour before the reading was supposed to have started. Tonight I went to one where I thought there was a poetry reading on Tuesday nights but I was the only person in there besides the counter guy. I would like to meet some other artisic minded folk in town but so far I've been horribly unlucky at every attempt. Oh well. I suppose I should accept it as Providential and trust the right moment will come when it's damn good and ready to.

Tempeh looks like the healthiest thing in the world on paper, but it seems to be a black hole of flavor. It's so bland that you have to practically marinade it in Tabasco after you've already marinaded it in red wine and olive oil and cooked it brown just to get a little flavor out of it. I'm sticking to straight up tofu from now on. It's much more subordinate.

These are all negatives though. There's got to be a positive from today. Well, there was the Brown Cow. Oh, here's one. I read this little story today that I can share:

A poor man went to heaven. When he got to the Pearly Gates a rich man came behind him. Saint Peter welcomed the rich man with much enthusiasm and opened the gates. Inside were trumpets and parades, a great celebration at this man's arrival.
Saint Peter came back out for the poor man and said, "Okay, now you can come on in."
The gates opened on heaven, but with no trumpets or streamers or anything special. The poor man said, "So this is how it is even in Heaven? The rich still get treated much better than the poor?"
Saint Peter said, "No, buddy, you've got us all wrong. It's just that poor men come up every day. It's been a couple hundred years since we've had a rich man arrive."

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 Posted by Hello
So I went in and changed the comments thingee so now anyone can post a comment. You don't have to have a blog. Anybody can. Anybody. Bueller.
I found this because I was reading some of the Live Journals that I read (I really only do about six hours of actual work a day. Sometimes less. You would too.) I don't care about the emotional cartoony thing, but I would kind of like the feature where you can write what you're listening to when you're writing. I found that blogger didn't have it but they did have a way to let anyone comment. So there you go.
I see from the recent comments that I was right about the Carnival of Souls remake. I'm hard pressed to think of a good remake of anything. Ever.
I have to keep this short. I've got some minor work of pushing books around and a story to edit before I have to go start marinading some tempeh for a recipe. Then I'm spending the afternoon on a mad quest for liquorice Altoids. I read that they exist, but haven't been able to find them in Chico yet. They do sell them online on the Altoid website though ( in case there's a secret admirer or (NPI) sugar daddy who wants to send me a box or eight.

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Monday, August 09, 2004

 Posted by Hello
My brother and I like to joke that I'm on "The Fat Guy Diet." We call it that because I was reading Dr. Andrew Weil's 8 Weeks to Optimum Health and Pat said that Dr. Weil always looks fat to him. I said it's probably because of the beard (if you have no idea what I'm going on about, try I'm sure there's a picture of him there somewhere.) But I admit that Dr. Weil seems to have a simular body type to mine. Not fat, but certainly robust.
I usually wouldn't read anything by anybody who has ever been on Oprah, but when I started going vegetarian I realized that I didn't know some simple, very important things. Things like how to get protein and how to structure a meal around something besides meat. I tried PETA's vegetarian starter kit but it doesn't really tell you much and, my only critique of PETA, they like to use negative examples. There were a lot of things on how milk is bad for you and how you already get too much protein anyway. So I went to Dr. Weil.
Longtime readers know that I had awful, constant, painful hives for 2 years many many years ago. Doctors did nothing but giggle at my pain and take money from my insurance company (back when I had the great privledge of being able to visit a doctor when I was sick. Ho ho.) I took a lot of Benedryl, about three times the recommended dosage, until I had a nervous breakdown (for a variety of reasons, but the drugs were a hefty contributor.) Then I read Dr. Weil's suggestions on hives and it cured me quickly and permanently.
But reading his book I understand the Oprah thing. Optimum health is for the rich and I feel poorer every day. Hey hey hey. He wants you to buy all kinds of expensive crap.
But there are some good recipies and I got out of it what I needed. I learned how to get protein (here's a hint: learn to really like nut products.) But I'm not really on The Fat Guy Diet. I can't afford The Fat Guy Diet.
Boy, this was a dead end of a topic. Fun talking about though.

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Sunday, August 08, 2004

Something screwy is happening to my browser or my blog. My profile is gone and so are most of my recent postings. So let's get on to my other rant and see if that jogs things back into order, eh what?
Yesterday was Faith's birthday party. Pat got me up early (yeah, if you're paying attention that makes three consecutive days of getting up early) to help move tables and things. There were a lot of kids. It was at Andi's parent's place.
Andi's stepdad is a good man, but a really dumb Republican who buys any piece of Republican propaganda no matter how sloppy. That's okay. My dad is the same way. He was saying that he was going to knock on a neighbor's door who had a Kerry cardboard sign on their lawn and tell them how Mrs. Kerry contributes to terrorist organizations. He said he'd read an article on it. I didn't say anything. Then when Pat and I borrowed his truck to take the tables back to Pat's church, the article magically appeared on the passenger seat.
It was awful. It was one of the worst pieces of writing I've read in a long time. It was written by some John Bircher who, if they were a wiser organization, they would know better than to let that guy represent them. It wasn't really the John Birchers, but it might as well have been. It expected you to know names that caused a knee jerk reaction of some kind. It called charities "terrorist" without giving any information on who they are, why they're terrorists, what they believe, what they do with the money, or any other information other than the author called them terrorists. Maybe he's a terrorist.
Maybe I'm a terrorist. Maybe you're all terrorists. Oh god.
Then Pat asked me what I thought of it. I told him and we went into the first political discussion we've had since I've been up here. I told him that I didn't trust either of the two candidates who actually have a chance. I told him it reminded me of 1972 (the Democrats running an "anybody but the incumbent" campaign with a candidate that nobody likes.) I told him that I'd rather see Bush out of office but I don't think Kerry has my best interests at heart. I told him that I didn't even trust Nader anymore and I didn't know what I was going to do in the voting booth. Maybe just cry.
I told him that I didn't trust anyone who wanted to go into politics. The ones who've done awful things I hate and the ones who haven't had the chance to yet I mistrust.
Pat thought about that for a minute. He said, "Hey, that's how you are with churches too, isn't it?"
I was surprised but I had to agree. Then he said, "And that's kind of how you are with people in general, isn't it?"
I think he meant new people that I haven't known for years, but I saw his point. And that's something I need to work on because I do think it's a bad thing. Or at least something I should be more selective on when I use it.
That's why I researched candidates today.
I like Cobb. I'm still interested in Nader mainly because I like Camejo, but I no longer see Nader as an idealist. I think he's another politician, but one who happens to be the one who says things that I agree with in order try to get people like me to like him. I think about Kerry because I think about checking the news websites in November and finding that Bush defeated Kerry by one vote. My vote. Hey, it could happen. But when I think about Kerry I want to climb in bed with a pint of ice cream and stay there for a week. Which I suppose is better than Bush who makes me want to climb under the bed and do the same.
But my point here, what I'm driving at and the reason I've brought up a subject I shy away from as much as possible, is that I came to a realization. I've been looking at this same situation for years and wondering when the paradigm shift is going to come and make it so that it's not about choosing evils. The conversation with Pat made me realize it's high time I shifted my own paradigma and stopped being so jaded about everything.
There is a phoenix waiting to rise out of me and when it does none of this crap will matter. I think in the last few months you've seen a little shift in my thinking, especially since the identity crisis right before my Orange County trip. I think the phoenix hasn't burned out yet, but I think I've figured out how to play with matches in the past few months.
Now let's put this behind us and never think of this again. Study war no more.

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I have a few things to spout off on and I might make it in one go or I might have to separate it into two postings, the other to be finished later.
I woke up this morning about two hours earlier than I normally like to. I woke up to the sound of my fan turning off and I fumbled instinctively for my hunting knife until I realized that the power had gone off. I went out to the fuse box and that looked alright. It turned out that the power was off in the whole house. So I went back to sleep.
I got up again about twenty minutes before I usually like to get up and there was still no electricity. In my head I thought that it wouldn't effect me in any way in the morning besides shaving. I thought with a little sneer that I didn't need to use electricity anyway because I was a conscious and green minded person.
Ho ho.
I went into the bathroom, went to turn on the light switch, realized I was a robot, and shaved with a straight razor, which took more time and now I had to rush to get to my Quaker meeting. But I decided to make some spiced hot chocolate to get me going. I put the powder in my mug and went to get milk so I could zap it in the microwave. Luckily, before I got the rapidly defrosting milk out of the fridge, I realized there was a flaw with that plan.
And that was when I realized I'm a lot more dependant on electricity and a lot less conscious than I like to think I am. It was a bit of a wake up call.

Now a film review. This film was a double feature on the same DVD of Carnival of Souls. I have no idea why.


You know it's a B movie if it's been released under a variety of titles, especially when it seems like those titles are probably on like a dozen other films out there. This film was released in 1962. It's got Christopher Lee in about three or four scenes. It's got a young actress named Venetia Stevenson who is in a scene that so gratuitously shows her changing in her underwear that I gufawed pretty loudly at it. She talks to someone, closes the door, takes her clothes off, and then they cut to another scene. It's as though they forgot to cut it earlier. Oops. I thought to myself, "I guess this is what they call an Exploitation Film." Because I felt like that poor actress was terribly exploited in that scene and I felt like they were also trying to exploit me.
It's also got the lady what played Domina in the film version of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. During the scenes in Horror Hotel when she's talking to the mute cleaning lady I caught myself thinking:

Everybody ought to have a maid,
Daintily collecting bits of paper n' strings,
Appealing in her apron strings
And graceful as a grouse.
Pattering through the attic,
Chattering in the cellar,
Clattering in the kitchen,
Flattering in the bedroom,
Puttering all around the house

It is a silly movie.
But there's some great elements to it as well. There's lighting that borders on the Expressionist. There's great use of fog.
But what bothered me about it was the premise. The premise was that the famous New England witch burnings was a bit of history where they really burned people who were witches, all of whom seemed to have deserved it. These witches were people who worshiped the Christian version of the Devil (pointy horns, pitchfork, tail, red tights, goatee, you know) and that they sacrificed unwilling living beings to same.
I'm a Quaker, so I hope my pagan friends out there will forgive me if I get any of this wrong, but it seems to me that a very small portion of the people burned as witches were actually witches. Mainly they seem to have been unpopular people in the Puritan communities. Granted, if you really did get caught practicing the craft by the Puritans, they would most likely have killed you in an unpleasant way, but I doubt seriously that those people worshipped the Christian version of the Devil.
The Puritans also treated the Quakers pretty shabbily as well, by the way. If I were alive back then I'd be hiding out in Pennsylvania.
If I were a witch I'd be pretty danged offended by this film. I'd especially be offended by the climax scene and what it seems to imply. Actually, I probably wouldn't be offended. I'd probably laugh a lot at how ignorant and backwards it was. Which is what I did anyway. Others might be offended by it though.
Christopher Lee was really good in it. He's good in everything and he's been in a lot of plain awful movies.
So I guess what I'm saying is that you probably shouldn't see this movie, but if you happen to find yourself in front of a screen that's showing it, be prepared. You're going to see something ugly on many levels. Also be prepared for the last moment of the film which don't make no kind of goldurned sense a'tall.

The rest of my spouting off will wait. I'm sick of sitting here.

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