Saturday, April 30, 2016

Family Keepsakes Fun, Part 3

To read more of this series, click on the family tag at the bottom of the post.

In the recent move, my family keepsakes were transferred into banker's boxes. This was done by my husband, so I have no idea what's in each box. Opening one up is like a treasure hunt. Someday, I would like to organize them so that each box is cohesive, but for now I enjoy going through them and finding random stuff. This post is going to be picture heavy because that's most of what was in this particular box.

I don't know who this dapper young man is, but I really enjoyed the various poses and props in this photo booth-like strip:

I like the juxtaposition of the two following pictures, both of which feature my great uncle (grandma's brother) and his wife and child (they're in the middle in the second picture), likely taken only a few years apart. I remember this great uncle, and his daughter. In fact, his is the first funeral I remember going to.

In the second picture, that's my great aunt (grandma's sister) playfully hiding her face, with her husband on the far left. My grandma is on the far right.

Once again, I'm not sure who these men are, but I'm amused by the high-water pants of the two men on the right. I wonder if this car actually belonged to any of them, or if posing in front of a fancy car that's not one's own has been a tradition since the dawn of cars.

I think Iola, WI is where my grandma's family lived before they moved to Michigan. I understand wanting to keep mementos from there. I don't understand wanting to keep a postcard that features the starch factory. I mean, honestly, the vast majority of my grandparents' postcard collection is downright perplexing (think lots and lots of banks).

My mother was pretty bad at taking pictures. She would often send me photos of my nieces and nephew that would make me think, "Why on earth would she think I want a blurry picture of the back of this kid's head? I can't even tell which kid this is!" And so on.

After finding the below pic, I've begun to wonder if it's a family trait. What's going on here? Why would someone want to memorialize it? I have two theories: 1. Something was buried in the sand, either as a joke or as part of a scavenger hunt, and the picture taker wanted to remember the moment it was found or 2. The picture taker really appreciated dat ass. In my heart, I believe it's #2.

I'm not 100% certain, but I think is my grandpa's sister, who owned a rock shop near where I grew up and was alive well into my adulthood:

I wonder if this is my grandpa's other sister, who I never met, but who sent me money when I graduated high school. I wanted to include this photo because I find her very beautiful, and because she's so 1930s:

This is the Daily Advance from Lynchburg, VA. The date on it is November 30, 1933. It hails from the time that my grandma worked as a telephone operator there, and it's so fragile that I don't dare open it. I'm not sure which story caught my grandma's eye, making her want to keep it. Maybe there wasn't one particular story. Maybe it was simply the last one she picked up before she moved back to Michigan.

At any rate, I wanted to include it for two reasons. 1. The copy in the subtitle under "Killer's Body Found In Ditch Skull Crushed," which (paraphrased) says, "underworld does what cops can't." A very Great Depression/Prohibition anti-cop sentiment. and 2. Under "Habeas Corpus Frees 4 Lynch Mob Suspects," the article that states that the prosecutor had the evidence to convict the men but chose not to present it AND the judge agreed.

The mind boggles.

I'm frequently blown away by how terrifying kids' Halloween costumes used to be. This is my mom as a witch:

And finally, I'll leave you with something cute, my uncle as a baby, wearing his dad's police hat:

Thursday, April 28, 2016

AIIW: Populaire

Once again, it’s been a while since I wrote a review for this series. Click HERE for a refresher on what it's about. You may be seeing more of these reviews for a few weeks while I adjust to life in my new city.

Movie Stats:
Released 2012 (France)
French & Belgian, in French (small amounts of English & German; everything subtitled)
Director - Regis Roinsard
Stars - Romain Duris, Deborah Francois

Plot Summary:
In 1959 small-town France, insurance agent Louis Echard (Duris) quickly discovers that his new secretary Rose Pamphyle (Francois) is terrible at her job, with one notable exception: her crazy good typing skills. Speed typing contests and romance ensue.

Very brief female nudity (breasts only); minor, non-graphic violence (slapping, a punch); minimal blue language.

Bad Stuff:
It’s too long for a frothy romantic comedy. Definitely could have used fewer scenes of women frantically typing.

The storyline involving Louis’s feelings for his now-married childhood love Marie (Berenice Bejo) seemed unnecessary to me. Other aspects of his past/family life were enough to explain why he might be reticent to chase after Rose. Marie felt like an afterthought.

Good Stuff:
All the “background” stuff was PERFECT. The set design, costuming, cinematography, and music made me instantly fall in love with this film. I want to own every single thing that Rose wore.

I really enjoyed everyone’s performances, but particularly liked Shaun Benson, who played Louis’s American best friend Bob (who is also Marie’s husband). He was incredibly charming. I was amused by how his character was so “1950s American male as viewed by the French.”

It’s so cute and sweet!

The Verdict:
This movie was in my queue for years, and I think this is definitely a case of “right movie watched at the right time.” Mentally and emotionally depleted from our recent, sudden move (short version for those not in the know: husband lost his job when company unexpectedly folded, got a new job an hour and a half away from where we were living, we moved, whole thing took place in less than a month), I really needed to watch something that I knew would have a happy ending. This fit the bill perfectly. It was such an adorable homage to 1950s romantic comedies. It’s neither deep nor meaningful, but it’s not trying to be. It’s the kind of movie you watch so that, at the end, you can say to yourself, “Now that was satisfying.” If you like cute romantic comedies, choose this one when you need a pick-me-up.

I give it 4.25 stars.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

AFI Top 100, #20: "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975)

This movie was previously reviewed as part of my Best Picture Project. Below is the pertinent information about it: the movie stats, plot summary, and the rating I gave it. You can read the full text of my review HERE.

Movie Stats:
Released 1975 (USA)
American, in English
Director – Milos Forman
Stars – Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Will Sampson

Plot Summary:
When chronic troublemaker R.P. McMurphy (Nicholson) lands in prison yet again, he fakes insanity to get what he thinks is going to be an easy stint in a mental institution. Once he’s been committed, he butts heads with ice-queen Nurse Ratched (Fletcher) and befriends deaf-mute Native American Chief Bromden (Sampson).

4 stars

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Music Love: "Peacemakers" by Marcus Marr

You’re not going to see a lot of instrumental music during this series, because I’m more of a lyrics and voice person. Every now and then, however, I fall in love with an instrumental song, as I have fallen in love with “Peacemakers.”

There’s not much out there on the ‘net about British DJ Marcus Marr. He doesn’t have his own Wikipedia page, although he does have social media. If you want to find out (a little) more, you can click HERE. I first heard this song in December 2015. I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned before that I enjoy listening through end-of-the-year “best songs” lists. It’s where I find most of my new music, and it’s where I found “Peacemakers.” (If you’re looking for specifics, I believe it was on NPR’s Top 100 of 2015 playlist, which was nice because they featured many different genres and had them all in their entirety on a channel on their website but was largely a bust for me. I only downloaded 3 songs from it.)

The song drew me in with its great beat, and its deep, funk-style bass. I’m a sucker for some good, funky bass. This isn’t a song for dancing. Nor do I imagine using it for workout motivation. This is a grooving song, one that will make you feel cool while you’re walking down the street, or sitting in your car/on public transit, or even (in my case) while you’re writing.

So pull out something you’ve been working on, turn up your volume, and tell me, after, if you could resist bopping along to this groovy song.

Friday, April 15, 2016

AFI Top 100, #21: "The Grapes of Wrath" (1940)

Movie Stats:
Released 1940 (USA)
American, in English
Director - John Ford
Stars - Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, John Carradine

Plot Summary:
Follows the exploits of the Joad family, Depression-era Okies trying to make it in California. Fonda co-stars as the eldest Joad son, Tom; Darwell as his mother, Ma; and Carradine as former preacher, and family friend, Jim Casy.


Bad Stuff:
The slow pace makes it seem much longer than it actually is.

It’s like one of those movies that they show in history class when you’re a teenager. I felt like I was being taught something rather than watching something that was meant to be entertaining.

There’s a little too much “stare off into the distance while monologuing” for my tastes.

Good Stuff:
There were a lot of good performances. I particularly enjoyed Carradine and Darwell. Darwell did such an excellent job of playing Ma Joad that I completely fell in love with her.

Loved the language, the way all the characters talked like Okies. It could have felt forced but it didn’t.

It did a good job of depicting the pain that people caught in the Dust Bowl felt. Losing the farms that had been in their families for generations, watching their homes bulldozed, given false hope over and over, treated like dirt wherever they went. It’s heart-wrenching, and if you feel any different after you’ve watched this movie, you probably have no soul.

Oh, the music is great!

The Verdict:
I’m not a big fan of how slow it is, and I’m not the only one. My husband, who watched the beginning with me, left to go play video games, and came back near the end, said, “Is this still on?” Watching was a bit of a chore, and I occasionally felt like I was being preached at. However, it’s a good story with great acting and excellent music. I also think it’s an important period of history. The country is likely one wrong step, and/or one major natural disaster, away from another Depression, where we could face such problems again. Have we learned the lessons of the past? It’s difficult to say (probably no). If you’re in the mood for a bit of history, and you’re feeling fairly upbeat so multiple deaths and police beatings won’t get you down, you should pop this one in the DVD player.

I give it 3.5 stars.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

AFI Top 100, #22: "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968)

Movie Stats:
Released 1968 (USA)
American & British, in English (very minor non-translated Russian)
Director - Stanley Kubrick
Stars - Keir Dullea, Douglas Rain (voice)

Plot Summary:
On a mission to Jupiter, things go awry. Oh, and there’s a bunch of stuff about evolution. Dullea co-stars as Dr. Dave Bowman, one of the scientists on the mission, and Rain provides the voice of his on-board computer, HAL 9000.

Some violence; very minor gore.

Bad Stuff:
Thumbs down on the last half hour. I was pretty into it up until that point.

The pace could best be described as “plodding.”

I’m not completely sold on Dullea. He seemed to have only one facial expression/emotion for any given situation. Even in a situation that should have induced butthole-clenching panic, his affect was flat. Not sure if it was bad directing or bad acting. (I assume it was a director choice because, honestly, everyone seemed to behave that way throughout.)

Good Stuff:
The cinematography was amazing. Nearly every shot (even indoors) was stunning.

Similarly, I loved the set design. Favorites were the lobby with the hot pink chairs & the circular room onboard the ship.

Loved the liberal use of classical music. It was quite fitting.

The Verdict:
It’s visually stunning. The concept is interesting. Even though it took a really long time to get to the point, it held my attention. And then the last half hour happened. I just don’t have a lot of patience for weird, acid trip type stuff. It’s not my thing at all, and it’s a huge downside to a lot of 1960s and 1970s films. I looked around a little bit online and this seems to be a common complaint. A lot of people don’t like the ending, so you can add my voice (and my husband’s) to the masses. Also, there was a lot of product placement toward the beginning, which is really unusual for such an old film. I’m guessing it was very expensive to make, however, so they must have needed all the financial help they could get. I will say that, for a large portion of it, my husband and I had a good time discussing what they did and didn’t get right about 2001, how sound the science was, and guessing what was to come next (neither of us had seen it before).

I give it 3.5 stars.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Up with Geography: Cameroon





African continent. Cameroon outlined
in dark ink & shaded.

A close-up of Cameroon & its neighbors.

Nigeria, Chad, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea

Water Borders:
Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad

Total Area:
183,569 square miles

Five Largest Cities:
Douala, Yaounde, Bamenda, Bafoussam, Garoua

Famous Geographical Point:
Mount Cameroon, an active volcano that most recently erupted in 2012

Famous Person:
Manu Dibango, musician (saxophone & vibraphone)

Book Set In/About:
Dog Days: An Animal Chronicle by Alain Patrice Nganang

A look at tumultuous early 1990s Cameroon, through the eyes of a dog.

Movie Set In/About:
"Chocolat" (1988), directed by Claire Denis

No, not the Johnny Depp movie. This movie features one woman's recollection of her childhood in colonial Cameroon, where she learned the intricacies of class and racism through her relationship with her family's houseboy.

Headline of the Day:
"Boko Haram Violence, Climate Change Drive Hunger in North Cameroon" on Reuters.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Last Text of the Day: Month Four

Day 1
To Blue: Here. Closer to [redacted street name]. Couldn't get over in time.
Picking my husband up from work. I would usually try to park right in front of his office but on that day I couldn't get over in time on the busy two lane road to do so.

Day 2
To Blue: Here alley.
And sometimes I had to pick him up in the alley behind his office.

Day 3
To Indigo, Red & Brown: *lol emoji* I can already imagine how that went.
Indigo told us she had a funny story from work that she was calling "the invisible door." It didn't quite go as I imagined, but it was indeed funny.

Day 4
To Blue: On street. Just saw a bunch of open meters.
He asked me if there was parking where we were meeting our friends.

Day 5
To Orange & Yellow: I'd be up for both of those things. *yellow smiley emoji*
Not totally sure what "things" I was talking about. Probably coffee and happy hour. Perhaps coffee and beach clean up.

Day 6
To Brown, Red & Indigo: It's hard for me to even get a laugh out of this stuff. It's too real.
We were talking about Donald Trump.

Day 7
To Red, Indigo, Brown & Gray: I'll practice my Blue Steel!
In a conversation about what movie to watch for movie night, we were joking around about watching "Zoolander 2" instead of one of the Oscar nominees.

Day 8
To Indigo: If I see one I'll immediately throw myself on its claws so I don't have to live through what Leo did. Lol. Thanks for the ride!
We ended up watching "The Revenant," which we all found incredibly traumatizing. I was going on a hike the following day, and Indigo told me to be on the lookout for bears.

Day 9
To Red: I can already hear [redacted] saying something like, "It wasn't that violent! You guys are just wimps!" He watched this movie called Ironclad a few months ago that had positively revolting violence & loved it.
Still discussing "The Revenant." She wondered what my husband would think of it. He still hasn't seen it.

Day 10
To Brown & Indigo: I'll prob get there around 7-7:10.
Coordinating for a movie showing (Oscar nominated shorts) we attended.

Day 11
To Brown, Indigo & Gray: I saw a dead cat in the road on the way home. Like I wasn't depressed enough already. *yellow sad emoji*
Some of the Oscar shorts were very depressing (but so good).

Day 12
To Silver: Thanks. So sorry to cancel last minute. Hope you ladies have a blast!
I was supposed to go to a ladies night but I wasn't feeling well. I think I was dehydrated.

Day 13
To White: Awesome, thanks!
She offered to look up something we were talking about going to.

Day 14
To Blue: I put my foot down a little too hard while walking and now I have all the pain.
I started out the year on a Couch to 5K program and somehow injured my leg (bad shoes I think). I nursed this injury for a couple of weeks. It's better now but I haven't restarted the running program.

Day 15
To Blue: Here darling.
Picking him up from work.

Day 16
To Blue: Correction: I would consume the shit out of that.
Haha! I no longer recall what delicacy we were talking about.

Day 17
To Pink: Sounds good! :)
Making plans to go see a play.

Day 18
To Pink: Ok, just text me when you get here and I'll come out!
Still talking about the play. It's called "Swarm Cell." It was super interesting & very well-acted but one of the actresses had a medical emergency halfway through and so the audience was asked to leave. I never got to see the rest of the play & never heard if the actress was okay.

Day 19
To Red: Hope you guys find something to do in [redacted city name] tonight! Good luck at your run tomorrow!
This seems self-explanatory.

Day 20
To Gray: Will do!
She asked me to save a seat at our friends' show.

Day 21
To Indigo: I hope so! Especially since it's so nice out. Sucks to be sick in nice weather.
She hadn't been feeling well.

Day 22
To Blue: Okay, be right down.
He was picking me up for once!

Day 23
To Sienna: Thanks again for the invite! I had a great time.
We went to Korean BBQ. Om nom nom.

Day 24
To Red & Gray: I can meet at either place, no problem!
Coordinating for a trip to the LA County Museum of Art.

Day 25
To Red, Indigo & Brown: The phenomenon is spreading: [website link]
A few days before, we'd discussed, via text, the severed feet phenomenon, which I'd heard of before, but none of them had. It had been a while since I'd heard of any more feet being discovered, so I was surprised when an article about fresh feet popped up right after our conversation.

Day 26
No texts sent.

Day 27
To White: Looking forward to it!
Hiking, I think.

Day 28
To Gray: Haha! I would totally be like, "Om nom nom, sorry, got lost."
She went to a maze made of cake. I was jealous.

Day 29
To Red: Should be fine. I may take the ride both ways, depending on how late it is. We'll see!
We were going to play tennis. I didn't have the car, and so I was planning on walking there and having her drive me home after. She offered a ride both ways. In the end, it rained and we didn't get to play tennis at all.

Day 30
To Gray & Red: Curse you! /shakes tiny fist
I believe Gray sent a picture of the precursor to the awkward sex scene in "Anomalisa."

Friday, April 8, 2016

AFI Top 100, #23: "The Maltese Falcon" (1941)

Movie Stats:
Released 1941 (USA)
American, in English
Director - John Huston
Stars - Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet

Plot Summary:
When beautiful dame Brigid O’Shaughnessy (Astor) walks into the office of private detective Sam Spade (Bogart), he immediately finds himself embroiled in the dangerous hunt for a valuable artifact. Lorre co-stars as the simpering Joel Cairo and Greenstreet as the wealthy Kasper Gutman, two men who are also after the artifact.


Bad Stuff:
It’s confusing with a side of the ridiculous. Basically, it’s a lot of “I’m double crossing you!” “No, I’m double crossing YOU!” and “You’re lying!” “Yes, but you are ALSO lying!” to the point where I just felt annoyed.

Poor character development. I really didn’t understand who anyone was or what their motivations were (other than basic greed). Nor did I care about anyone. Literally everyone could have died and I would’ve shrugged.

Sam Spade has the uncanny ability to knock out a person with one punch. Is his fist made of steel or something?

Astor’s performance was terrible.

Good Stuff:
On the other hand, the rest of the main cast was really good, but I particularly enjoyed Greenstreet and Lorre. Peter Lorre makes everything better. The scene where he throws a temper tantrum made me laugh out loud. I’m not sure if it was supposed to be funny, but it was.

I liked the ending. It was very fitting.

Costuming did a good job.

The Verdict:
I don’t get the love for this film. I’d seen it once before, and could remember not liking it, but wasn’t sure why. Now I remember. The whole thing is complete mess. It's nonsense. It’s so tiresome that it couldn’t hold my interest. Perhaps that added to my confusion [SPOILER] Did they show the boat captain before he stumbled into Sam’s office and died? Because I was like, “Who the F is that guy?” and Spade is like, “Why, it’s the boat captain” and I’m like, “How does he know that?” [SPOILER] but I honestly think I’m blameless here. Make your movie more interesting and my attention won’t drift. The only thing it really has going for it is some quality acting.

I give it 2.25 stars.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Up with U.S. Geography: Massachusetts

State Name:


Date of Entry:
February 6, 1788


Map of USA. Massachusetts outlined in dark ink,
shaded, & with an arrow pointing to it.

A close-up of Massachusetts & its neighbors.

Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York

Water Borders:
Cape Cod Bay, Atlantic Ocean, Nantucket Sound, Buzzards Bay

Total Area:
10,565 square miles

Five Largest Cities:
Boston, Worcester, Springfield, Lowell, Cambridge

Famous Geographical Point:
Cape Cod

State Nickname:
The Bay State. As you can see from the map, Massachusetts is bordered by some pretty famous bays.

Famous Person:
Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin, one of the key inventions of the Industrial Revolution

Book Set In/About:
The Crucible by Arthur Miller

A fictionalized account of the Salem witch trials.

Movie Set In/About:
"The Departed" (2006), directed by Martin Scorsese

I'm going to quote myself from my own review: "While undercover cop Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) tries to get close enough to big-time crime boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) to make a bust, Frank's man Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) infiltrates the police department. It's a race to see who discovers who first."

Quite honestly, I was going to list "Good Will Hunting" (a film I don't much care for) here until I remembered that "The Departed" (an all-time favorite) is set in Boston.

Headline of the Day:
"Massachusetts Man Kills Self After Shooting at Former Co-Worker" on Reuters.