Category Archives: Movies

Jury Duty

Well, it has happened again. It seems that every other year I am called for jury duty, and I received another letter from the Clerk of Court while I was in Minnesota, telling me I am yet again in the pool of potential jurors for the Southwest District Court for the month of July.

I have never actually been seated on a jury panel. I haven’t even had to go to the court house while they choose jurors for cases, as the cases seem to be settled before the date of the hearing. I also can’t imagine any attorney would want me on a jury, especially if it is a criminal case. It is really hard in a small community to serve on a jury if one is a health care professional. If asked if I know a defendant, I have to say “I am prohibited by State and Federal law from answering that question unless ordered to do so by the court” if I know the person from the work at my agency. That statement is, of course, a tip off that I know them from my work, and everyone in town knows where I work, but that is what our legal department has told us to say.

I expect the same thing will happen this July, and I will wait for a letter from the Clerk of Court telling me that, yet again, I won’t be called for a jury panel in July and that I am still in the pool of potential jurors for the next round of cases if my name is picked at random. That is another problem living in a sparsely populated area-there really is a limited number of people to do things, so the chances of being picked for these typed of things are high.

Would you want to be a judge, a defense attorney, or a prosecutor? What are your favorite movies or books involving court hearings or lawyers?

Old Tech

This past weekend was a “comfort tv” weekend.  After a LOT of hours gardening and then recuperating in my studio while it rained, I was all about watching some of my standard oldies but goodies.

WarGames.  Looking at the technology that was over the top when the movie came out, it’s a little laughable now.  Rotary phones.  Dot matrix printer.  Oh, and Matthew Broderick makes a call from a phone booth.  Except for the ones that they keep around in London for tourist photo ops and the one that Dr. Who uses, are there phone booths anywhere anymore?

Hopscotch.  Walter Matthau types up his anti-CIA memories on an old typewriter, which he drags with him through the movie.  It’s not even an automatic return typewriter.  Phone booths in this movie as well.  Also, all the information on agents and criminals in on paper in a file room: when Matthau shreds his personnel file, they don’t even have a photo of him any longer.

Romancing the Stone.  At least Kathleen Turner is typing on an automatic return typewriter.  There are a few calls from phone booths in this one as well which is interesting since most of the movie takes place in the Colombian jungle.

Jumpin’ Jack Flash.  Whoopi Goldberg works in a bank on a data terminal (not even actually a computer).  She doesn’t have a phone on her desk – although there is one for the whole department of workers that they are only allowed to use in an emergency.  This means she ends up in a phone booth down the street.  (Then she gets dragged in the phone booth all over Manhattan but that’ another segue.)

A few things are clear.  #1. Phone booths and typewriters were clearly a lot more prevalent 30 years ago than they are today.  A bit of research reveals that you can still buy a typewriter (Brother and Royal are the top manufacturers out there) but they’re not a cheap as you would think they would be.   #2. The plots of a lot of the movies I like would really have to be punched up if there weren’t phone booths and typewriters abounding.  #3. All my comfort movies are way too old.

Do you still have a typewriter?  Do you use it?

Mystery Musical Score

Over the weekend, I watched “Bunny Lake is Missing” with Lawrence Olivier and Carol Lynley.  It’s about a woman whose daughter has disappeared and many folks seem to think she has made up the daughter.  I hadn’t really intended to watch it but the opening credits listed a handful of characters and then I noticed “The Zombies”.  My curiosity about how you get American actress Carol Lynley, British legend Lawrence Olivier and The Zombies into one movie got the better of me.

At one point, Olivier, who plays a police inspector, takes Lynley to a pub to get something to eat.  The tv above the bar is tuned to a channel playing a broadcast of The Zombies.  They are not identified at all.  Then in another scene, they can again be heard on a radio playing in the background.  There is no reference to the band at all – and no indication of why The Zombies.   I looked it up after the movie was finished and apparently 3 of the songs in the movie were written by them.  But I couldn’t find anything that suggests how Otto Preminger (producer and director) hooked up with the band.  I guess since the movie was shot over 55 years ago, we’ll probably never know.

How long do you think you’d survive in a zombie apocalypse?

My Star Wars Name Is…..

I’m a Star Wars Fan.  Not a rabid fan and I have to admit that I haven’t even seen the last few movies because they haven’t come around for free yet.  But I will always remember when Star Wars IV came out in 1977.   I went to the first night it opened at The Grand Theatre in Northfield; I hadn’t heard anything about it but some other friends were going so I went along for the fun.  When the curtains pulled back and the screen filled with stars and the music blared out, I felt as if somehow my life had changed.

Night 2, Night 3 and Night 4 found me at The Grand again, each night with a different group of friends.  I was a bit like a CGI proselytizer – trying to get as many people as I knew to see and fall for the new special effects that were on the screen. By Night 5, my friends were starting to give me grief, so my streak ended. (There have been only two other movies that got the Night 1, Night 2, Night 3, Night 4 treatment – Blazing Saddles and Princess Bride. Oddly enough Blazing Saddles was also at The Grand.)

Over the years I’ve watched IV, V and VI over and over again. The others not as much. I’ve never been to a convention, although I’ve certainly thought about it. When May 4 began to be known as Star Wars Day, I noted it but didn’t go crazy over it. YA did give me a book a few years back on May 4, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope. Kind of my wheelhouse, right?

I do enjoy all the memes and puns that are associated with Star Wars – and there are A LOT of them. Here’s a new one I found a couple of weeks ago.

Q.  Why isn’t Leia married in A New Hope?

A.  She’s been looking for love in Alderaan places

Where is this going, you all ask? This is where it’s going. When I found the phrase “May the Horse be With Ewe” last week, I fell off my chair laughing.  Almost immediately I started thinking about making a card and ended up with the design you see above. On the inside of the card, in the Star Wars font (yes, there is such a thing), I do have “May The Horse Be With Ewe”.  I couldn’t help myself. So far a couple of folks who have received it have called and laughed with me.  I’m pretty sure that Nonny is not going to get the joke.  I’m not even sure if she has SEEN Star Wars.

Which Star Wars character do you like best?

I’m Afraid I Can’t Do That

Some movies are just so weird.

I was clicking around last week, looking for some good background noise while I addressed some cards and discovered 2001: A Space Odyssey available.  I remember seeing 2001 in the movie theatre when it came out and I remember a good deal of it; but even 5 decades later and a lot more science fiction under my belt, it is still weird.

Research led me to things I didn’t know.  First off, 2001 was a collaboration between Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C Clarke; it was not first a book and then turned into a movie.  The movie actually came out first followed by the book, although by the time the book was published it only had Clarke’s name on it.  I also found out that all the colored lights and psychedelic effects at the end were Dave becoming a “star child” after going through a star gate.  Of course I’m not sure what a star child is – I haven’t actually read 2001 (although you all know it’s on my short list now) – and the movie certainly doesn’t elucidate any of this.

It seems as if Stanley Kubrick got a little lost in his special effects.  And for 1968, they are great.  And the whole Hal sequence is, of course, fabulous:

I’m hoping the book will make a little more sense than the movie.  Fingers crossed.

Any special effects that you particularly like?  Cinematic or otherwise?

Evil Abounds

Today’s photo credit: Justin Lim

You’re a minion.  You work for an evil warlord.  For years you have cheated, stolen and even killed for him.  He pays really well and the benefits package seems great. 

One day the malevolent machinations of your boss are uncovered.  He decides to blow up his solar energy plant to cover his tracks and he heads to the helicopter pad with the damsel in distress to head away from the mess he’s made.  He closes the door of the helicopter, leaving you standing on the helipad.  Right then, as your boss flies away from his bomb-ridden plant, one of the good guys shows up.  You fight him and fight him, even though it’s just a few minutes to the big boom.

You are part of a long-standing tradition.  A truly loyal evil minion – you continue to plague good guys and fight until the bitter end, often for a boss who clearly kills off your peers rather than pay retirement and who always abandons you when the going gets tough.

Can you tell me why?

Death on the Nile

You probably all know that I’m a bit of a grouch where movies based on books are concerned.  And for some reason especially where Agatha Christie is concerned (I’m not really sure why).  The Albert Finney Murder on the Orient Express is good, very close to the book.  The Kenneth Branagh version – meh. 

But my favorite AG movies are the Peter Ustinov Death on the Nile as well as the David Suchet version from the PBS Poirot series.  The PU leaves out the secondary plot but the DS messes with the characters’ motives.  But I love them both and we won’t discuss how many times I’ve seen them (great background for while I’m in my studio).

I’ve known for many months that Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile was looming and the trailers that I found online were a bit alarming but nonetheless YA and I ventured out last weekend to see it.  Maybe I would be pleasantly surprised; after all it’s a fabulous story, how could you mess it up? 

As YA and I drove to the theatre I promised her that I would not talk during the movie as I know she hates that.  Then she said “and if you don’t like it, no big sighs”.  Guess she’s been to that rodeo before!  We bought our snacks and settled down in our seats.

I knew in the first 5 seconds that we were in trouble.  It won’t be a spoiler alert to say that Agatha Christie NEVER gave Hercule Poirot a backstory.  And a jazz nightclub in Paris?  Nope.  And I can’t even talk about how far off script the various characters were.  I suppose there is something to be said about bringing a fresh coat of paint to something, but Branagh completely disassembled the furniture before adding paint.  And I’m pretty sure that no tourist boat in Egypt in the 30s was staffed with scores of young, white women in shorts. 

I will say that the visuals were stunning.  And I will give the movie makers their due on Abu Simbel.  They show the temple right at the water’s edge, which is the original location.  (The temple was moved to higher ground in the mid-60s.)  The PU version didn’t get this right and the DS version didn’t even have an Abu Simbel scene. 

It was SO hard not to sigh and then it turns out that I could have.  As we left the theatre, YA said “who was the murderer”; she had fallen asleep.  When we figured out how far back she had fallen asleep, I could have sighed for at least 20 minutes!

Any remakes that make you shudder or that you like better than the original?

The Age of Aquarius

I was listening to the Broadway channel in the car on my way home from work the other day when The Age of Aquarius came on, a recording from the most recent Broadway revival of Hair. The Broadway cast recording came out in 1969, and I remember buying it at the record store in Sioux Falls not long after. I was about 12, I think. I never saw a production of it until I saw the Milos Forman movie from 1979.

Our public library had a set of Broadway Yearbooks that I just loved to look through. It was so fun to read about these productions through the decades. I read all about Hair, and felt a sort of affinity to it, as my zodiac sign is Aquarius and it made me feel like I was part of the whole anti-war, hippie culture as a Middle School student from middle of nowhere Southwest Minnesota. My parents hated long hair on men and the anti-war protests, but they also hated the war, and never minded what books I read or what music I listened to. Oh, for the time when I could really believe in:

Harmony and understanding Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind’s true liberation

Things like this musical and the popular music and literature of the times fueled my youthful idealism that I try to maintain at least a bit of in these most trying times.

What fueled your youthful idealism? What were your favorite Broadway musicals in the 1960’s and 1970’s? What did your parents think about your choices in dress, music, and literature when you were a teenager?

The Principle

Today’s farm/township update comes to us from Ben.

Kelly and I saw “Come from Away” last Sunday. It was fantastic. In the lobby we heard a guy walk up to his wife and say, “My glasses fogged up and I was following the wrong lady in a red jacket.”

It was so cold! How cold was it? It was so cold I wore sleeves. It was so cold I saw a duck standing on one foot. It was so cold the handle on the water hydrant by the barn wouldn’t move. Then it warmed up for a day and the chickens came out, and the hydrant worked, and the ducks just looked at their corn.

In the winter, we get pheasants coming in to eat the corn I throw out for the ducks. Each year there’s a couple more and this year it’s 9 or 10. It’s pretty cool. The crows have learned there’s free food here too. Kelly doesn’t like the crows.

Here’s a picture of some dark colored blobs down there. Those are pheasants.

I’m on our local townboard. Been on there since 1998. We have one house on a major road that is city on both sides of this house, and there is 100’ of sidewalk in front of that house. I don’t know if it’s a ‘walking path’ or ‘bike path’ or ‘sidewalk’ but It’s the only sidewalk in the township. (because the rest of the township is rural or subdivisions that don’t have sidewalks). The city clears the walking path out in this area because there are no home frontages here, but they have been skipping that 100’ in front of this house. And the property owner has never plowed it. As it’s in the middle of this stretch of path, it’s a problem for people using the path. I learned all this last winter when I got an angry phone call from a city resident who lives out there and uses this path. I didn’t even know it was a township problem. I didn’t know the homeowner and I didn’t know if he had health issues or what reasons there might be for him not clearing the sidewalk. Took me a few days to connect with him, during which, the county snowplow just pushed all the snow back off the sidewalks and so the path was open. Turns out the guy just refuses to clear the walk on principle. Huh. He figures he didn’t ask for this sidewalk, so he’s not going to plow it. We, as the township, don’t have a sidewalk ordinance and we don’t want to make one for 100’ of sidewalk when we have 33 miles of roads to deal with, therefore we couldn’t force him to clear it. And the city says it’s not theirs, so they don’t want to clear it (even though they’re clearing a mile on both sides of it). Last winter the weather warmed up and the problem went away.

This winter I’ve been watching it as I drive by this area. I’ve seen the guy out there with his small tractor and blower doing his driveway, but he still isn’t doing the sidewalk. And I can’t decide if I admire him for sticking to his principles or if he’s being a jerk. And the city now is clearing it as they’re driving through there anyway. Which makes sense, but I could also see them leaving it… on principle.

Twenty-five years ago, just after I got on the Townboard, we repaved some roads in a subdivision. One resident never paid his share believing no one would come and tear out the road. Jokes on him; the company DID tear up 100’ of blacktop, leaving a section of gravel on this road. Didn’t take long for him to pay up and the road to get fixed. Maybe the neighbors convinced him.

We have a mystery going on at our townhall. It’s an old building, looks like a one room school. (Maybe it was the school that got blown across the road in the great tornado of 1883, or maybe it was always a townhall; depends who you ask and what maps you choose to believe).

For the last 3 years we’ve been picking up Phillips vodka bottles in the gravel parking lot. I wish LJB was still around; we need a good story for this! We have our suspicions… once a week, there will be 1, 2, or sometimes even 3 vodka bottles. Very few are empty. Some have never been opened! Most will be between ½ and 2/3’s full. We’ve got a collection in the hall now of 14 bottles, and there are a lot that have been picked up and thrown out and don’t make it to the hall collection. The hall is at the intersection of two major roads. People park there in summer and ride bikes or jog. A school bus stops there. Sheriff deputies park there to do reports. 

Why are you not finishing the vodka? And why are you leaving them there? Bonus points if you can tie in the glasses fogged up guy.  

Humiliations Galore!

YA and I are working on another puzzle right now; it’s taking longer because I haven’t quite committed yet and now the workweek has come around and we don’t have as much time.

The last time we worked on a puzzle it was a Sunday and neither of us had anything on our schedules.  We settled in and we watched movie after movie as we progressed.  We took turns picking the movie; YA was very understanding of what I would stomach and what I wouldn’t.  In fact, at one point SHE chose Princess Bride – she said she knew I liked it.

I do love Princess Bride; I think I’ve mentioned here before that when it came out in the theatres, I went four nights in a room, dragging a different friend each time.  I couldn’t guess how many times I’ve seen it but suffice it to say we’re talking seriously into double digits at this point.

About halfway through the movie YA said “you know that you’re mouthing all the words?”   There aren’t too many movies for which I know huge tracts of the dialog:  When Harry Met Sally, Romancing the Stone, Blazing Saddles, Death on the Nile.  I also know the first few minutes of Laura by heart:

“I’ll never forget the weekend that Laura died.  The silver sun burned through the sky like a huge magnifying glass.  It was the hottest Sunday in my recollection.  I felt as if I were the only living being left in New York.  For Laura’s horrible death, I was alone.  I, Waldo Lydecker, was the only one who really knew her.”

But I’m pretty sure that I know more Princess Bride than any of the others.  I did attempt to stop narrating along with the movie, although I’m not sure I was 100% successful.

Do you have any irritating movie habits (well, irritating to others…)?