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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Six Word Saturday

Reunion with family I've never met



Want to play along? All that's necessary to participate is to describe your life (or something) in a phrase using just six words. For more information, try clicking here. Feel free to explain or not explain. Add an image, a video, a song, nothing. I love seeing what everyone does with their entries.

Each week (probably on Sunday or Monday), I use random.org to select a bunch of entries to visit.  Or I visit everyone. Or even numbered entries. Or odd numbered entries. Or multiples of three. Depends on what's going on that week.  In addition, please visit the person ahead of you on the list (or visit everyone if you like!). That way everyone receives at least one visit!

If you play along in your blog, please add a link to the Mr. Linky. I appreciate a link back (shiny code below if you like!). Otherwise, you're welcome to leave your six words in this post as a comment.

Please be sure to link either to your main page or (preferably) directly to the 6WS post. Links to blogs that do not contain a 6WS entry will be removed (sorry, just the button in the sidebar doesn't count as participating).



Friday, June 24, 2011

The Westing Game movie: Turtle Doesn't Have a Braid!!!

This post is only going to make sense if you've read the amazing young adult book "The Westing Game" by Ellen Raskin. This was book #2 for our Twitter book club, #jhbc. (We've actually migrated from Twitter to web-based chat. Our next book is "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett and we'll be discussing in early August if you'd like to join us.)

If you haven't read this book, you might want to skip this post you should go read it RIGHT NOW! Even as an adult, the book is just that good. And then come back to read this post. With the exception of one clearly marked paragraph, I'm not going to spoil the actual ending but I will be talking about a lot of plot points along the way.

What follows is a somewhat detailed comparison of the book "The Westing Game" to the 1997 childrens' tv movie "Get a Clue." The latter claims to be based on the former. (There is a Lohan movie of the same name - not that!) If you don't want either of these spoiled for you, you should probably skip this post. However, the movie is horrifically bad, which is why this post exists at all. See, I took one for the team, buying the movie with the intentions of circulating it among the other #jhbc members but since it's so terrible, I'm saving them all 90 minutes and writing this post instead.

You're all very welcome. Now, let's get started.

The foreward of the book discusses how Raskin did not write down to children because she didn't know how. It's not a surprise then that a movie aimed at children but based on the book fails on many levels because it tried too hard to simplify the story for their young audience, therefore dropping key elements from the book.

A major issue with the film is that it cuts out many of the original characters. I'll concede that it was tough keeping everyone straight when reading but by disposing of key characters, the movie lost out on the heart of the story. For example, there was no Flora Baumbach and her relationship with Turtle was one of my favorite bits in the book. Mrs. Hoo was absent, leading to the elimination of the entire storyline about theivery in the Towers. Mr. and Mrs. Theodorakis and son Theo were also no-shows, though Chris was still wheelchair-bound in an apartment with no real explanation of his family situation.

Remaining characters are quite changed in both superficial and substantial ways. The brunette Angela Wexler is now not only beautiful but also very entitled. Her fiance is no longer Dr. Denton Deere but instead she is engaged to the chauvinist and bumbling estate attorney, Edgar Plum. Dr. Denton does make a brief appearance as Angela's former biology professor and current doctor as the result of her superficial bombing injury. Jake Wexler is now a suspended stockbroker with a gambling problem that has caused his family to have major financial issues. Sydelle is a loner who comes across as crazy instead of desperate for attention (Angela barely tolerates her existence). Chris Theodorakis is no longer a birdwatcher but a computer programmer and the computer is used as a major crutch for solving the mystery. Grace Wexler is not nearly the heartless soul described in the book, at one point even standing up to Mr. Hoo when he references "the pretty daughter" by asserting that BOTH of her daughters are pretty.

Changes to the storyline are endless. With some characters completely MIA from the film, they still felt it was necessary to remove even more of those remaining from the actual game, leaving only ten possible heirs. Angela and Sydelle, Grace and Mr. Hoo, Otis and Bertha, Sandy and Judge Ford, and Turtle and Chris are the teams in play to inherit the $20 million. The rest of the clues play out largely as they do in the book, though Turtle and Chris spend a lot of time typing clues into his computer before eventually coming up with "America, the Beautiful".

There are a lot of other small changes that on their own weren't major but the totality of them was bothersome. Hoo's restaurant was on the first floor (there was no coffee shop). The heirs did not define their own professions, rather they were assigned. Grace hid the fact that she was remotely related to Westing, admitting it only after Chris and Turtle found his birth certificate. The will was read graveside, though there were a few scenes inside the Westing house. No smoke to start out the movie though, just a Halloween dare.

BIG SPOILERS HERE: One final major change was the character of Sam Westing himself. He was not generally portrayed as a very nice man (though he did have his moments). He was nice as Sandy but quite rude to Turtle when she comes to Eastman at the end. He does ask her to keep him in the loop about future events such as Otis and Bertha's wedding, Angela's graduation from medical school, Sydelle's trip to Hawaii, etc (this was actually a nice touch because the movie showed scenes of these things all happening at some point in the future) but then he basically said goodbye to her and there was no indication that the two of them developed any kind of relationship or of Turtle's future. And since Westing was actually shown in his disguises from the very start, it was very obvious that all four were played by the same man, often in horrible wigs. END OF BIG SPOILERS!

NO MORE SPOILERS, come back! Even with all of those changes, the movie could've been saved if there had been better writing and acting. There were some recognizable names in the cast and I know they're capable of better - Dianne Ladd, Ray Walston, Sandy Kirkland, Shane West. Shane, as Chris, was probably the worst - the stuttering was just painful. Very far away from the performance given by Colin Firth in "The King's Speech". Not that you would expect the same level, but it was really bad. Also, Mr. Hoo was overly exaggerated in a way that felt racist to me and I hate to see that kind of stereotype played out in a childrens' movie.

And so there you have my review of the movie. The fact that Turtle has no braid on the cover should've been a warning to stay away. What's Turtle without her braid? (Though she did do plenty of shin-kicking.) Sorry this was so long but even if you took 10 minutes to read it, that's 120 minutes less than you would've spent watching it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sweaty Seppuku

I've blogged before about my gym, including my freakout when they announced a move to a new location because I was afraid there would no longer be a dark workout room.

For those of you who don't remember and/or are too lazy to click that link, my gym has a "cardio getaway" room that involves several levels of cardio equipment, a few tvs on the front wall (pre-tuned, you can plug-in to listen but you can't change the channels), and no light. Well, not NO light. But no BRIGHT lights - it's all just ambient light from the tvs and some windows. And they did eventually create a similar room at the new location.

Anyways, I have been timing my trips to the gym for 11am so I could workout while watching Tiny Drew because The Price is Right is kinda fast-paced with bright lights, and it's easy to watch while sweating on the elliptical for an hour. It also continuously humbles me because I would be the worst contestant ever. But then, someone in the control booth changed around the channels and there was no longer TPIR on tv #1. Instead, I had a choice of two sports channels, Comedy Central (which is always in the middle of a movie at that hour), Bravo, CNN, and Fox "News".

Ugh, seriously? Fox "News"? Not only do they take away my Tiny Drew but they have to put Fox "News" on tv #5.

I found myself watching either tv #2 (Bravo) or #6 (CNN), trying hard to avert my eyes from the ickiness on tv #5. In fact, I was watching some show about starving bitches America's Next Top Model last week when suddenly there was a horrible CRASH and something came FLYING OFF THE WALL!!!

Since this room is usually so quiet (just the whir of the machines while everyone works out with headphones on), the crash and resulting obscenities shouted by the other lady in the room made quite an impression. I, of course, with my nerves of steel, may have peed myself a bit barely reacted.

So what was the noise? Seems tv #5 was shared my anti-Fox "News" feelings and decided that rather than continue displaying such atrocious programming, it would commit harikiri, hurling the cable tuner box from the top of the tv onto the floor below.

Despite my usual annoyance at the sight of non-functioning equipment at the gym, considering how much they charge for membership, I must admit to a big grin every time I see the dark tv #5. I may stop by the front desk to ask when they expect it to be fixed. And maybe suggest that they use that opportunity to restore Tiny Drew to avoid any further fatalities.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Announcing a Winer!

You've had about ten days to enter your guess regarding how many wine corks were in my big glass barrel jar:



The rules stated that closest guess without going over wins.

Actual number of wine corks in the jar? 407.

This means the winner of the $25 gift certificate to Uncommon Goods is Melinda, with a guess of 364.  Congratulations, Melinda!

Also, you may notice that Melinda won on her second guess and references that I said the current guesses were too low.  No, the competition wasn't fixed and Melinda didn't receive a special hint. I tweeted: "A tip for my Twitter followers: All of the guesses are WAY low on the Guess to Wine game. http://bit.ly/lJ1yd7 You may submit a 2nd guess.". Sometimes it pays to follow my gibberish on Twitter!

Joe and I made our own guesses when I did the counting. We started off with guesses of 250 (him) and 200 (me). With 100 corks back in the barrel, we revised our guesses to 350 and 300. We were both shocked at the final number!

Also, someone expressed concern for my liver. Please keep in mind that the barrel holds almost two years of wine corks, including a few parties. My liver thanks you for your concern as it often feels left out since my head receives most of the attention.

Thanks to everyone that entered a guess. It was fun! Now I have to figure out what to do with all these wine corks. Did you know that you can recycle them at some stores? I think Whole Foods is one. However, I'm planning to make something from my corks but I'm not sure what yet.

Disclaimer: Nobody sponsored this post. Except maybe Joe because I'm still unemployed so technically he's paying for both the wine AND the prize.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Six Word Saturday

blogging mojo seems to be nomo
also
Be sure to make your guess!


Want to play along? All that's necessary to participate is to describe your life (or something) in a phrase using just six words. For more information, try clicking here. Feel free to explain or not explain. Add an image, a video, a song, nothing. I love seeing what everyone does with their entries.

Each week (probably on Sunday or Monday), I use random.org to select a bunch of entries to visit.  Or I visit everyone. Or even numbered entries. Or odd numbered entries. Or multiples of three. Depends on what's going on that week.  In addition, please visit the person ahead of you on the list (or visit everyone if you like!). That way everyone receives at least one visit!

If you play along in your blog, please add a link to the Mr. Linky. I appreciate a link back (shiny code below if you like!). Otherwise, you're welcome to leave your six words in this post as a comment.

Please be sure to link either to your main page or (preferably) directly to the 6WS post. Links to blogs that do not contain a 6WS entry will be removed (sorry, just the button in the sidebar doesn't count as participating).



Saturday, June 11, 2011

Six Word Saturday

productive week means a happy Cate



Want to play along? All that's necessary to participate is to describe your life (or something) in a phrase using just six words. For more information, try clicking here. Feel free to explain or not explain. Add an image, a video, a song, nothing. I love seeing what everyone does with their entries.

Each week (probably on Sunday or Monday), I use random.org to select a bunch of entries to visit.  Or I visit everyone. Or even numbered entries. Or odd numbered entries. Or multiples of three. Depends on what's going on that week.  In addition, please visit the person ahead of you on the list (or visit everyone if you like!). That way everyone receives at least one visit!

If you play along in your blog, please add a link to the Mr. Linky. I appreciate a link back (shiny code below if you like!). Otherwise, you're welcome to leave your six words in this post as a comment.

Please be sure to link either to your main page or (preferably) directly to the 6WS post. Links to blogs that do not contain a 6WS entry will be removed (sorry, just the button in the sidebar doesn't count as participating).



Friday, June 10, 2011

Prescription Refills

Despite having been on the same meds now for several years, my doctor makes me come in every six months for refills. I had one of these appointments this morning. It went something like this:
Doctor: Still allergic to everything?
me: Yep.
Doctor: Still get migraines?
me: Yep.
Doctor: Still have reflux?
me: Yep.
Doctor: Still crazy?
me: Yep.
Doctor: Okay, here are your prescriptions. Come back in six months. Crystal will take your money on the way out.
Grr...

Also, as a result of Destination Resignation, I'm now on my husband's insurance. And it hates me. Under my insurance, all visits to that doctor cost $10. Today, his insurance came up with the magical number of $44.20. They pay 80% of the "customary" amount. So that means the "customary" amount was over $200? Good grief.

I should've had her also prescribe me something for the pain and nausea caused by the billing department.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Guess to Wine! Err, Win!!!

Four score and seven years ago (or, if you prefer, last August), I announced a Drinking Game. If you don't want to go back and read, it goes something like this:
I bought my husband a big glass jar in the shape of a barrel to collect our wine corks. I offered a slumped wine bottle (a melty-flat bottle for decoration or cheese board, etc) as a prize to the commenter that guessed when we would fill the jar. Then I promised a second contest for the commenter that most closely guessed the number of corks in the full jar.
THE DAY HAS COME!!!



We have filled the bucket! Actually, we filled it a couple of weeks ago but I'm too short to pull it down from it's storage spot on top of the cabinets so I'm just now getting around to this post.

Looking back at the comments, that means the winner is C. Beth with a guess of June 1, 2011. Congrats, Beth, and I'll be in touch to coordinate your prize.

And now, PART TWO: Guess to WINE WIN!!! You are guessing the number of corks in the jar. Joe and I counted them last night and we were both WAY off. I hope it's even half as much for for all of you to guess as it was for us. A few points: the jar is 13 inches tall, 29 inches around at the thickest point. It is full of corks, to the point of having to really squash on the lid. There are no other fillers inside. Also, it's worth noting that it took us approximately two years to fill it.

Here's how to enter:
  1. Leave a comment on this post with your guess.
  2. You must enter by Sunday, June 19th.
  3. Closest guess without going over wins.
Try not to guess the same number as someone else but if there are two guesses, I'll come up with a tie-breaker. Maybe natural vs synthetic corks. Though that means I have to recount them all again and I hate math.

Winner will be announced on Monday, June 20th. The prize will be a $25 gift certificate to Uncommon Goods, where you can purchase any number of wine-related or recycled items. I recently used a birthday gift certificate to buy a necklace made of glass from wine bottles.

That's it! Have fun guessing!

Disclaimer: Husbands of Cate not eligible to win the prize. Husbands of Cate got to drink the wine, usually WITH Cate, which is enough of a prize. Also, Husbands of Cate will likely benefit from proximity to whatever Cate makes from the corks. Tonya and Rusty not eligible because they are cats. Nobody sponsored this post in anyway, nor do they know about it. Probably they wouldn't approve even if they DID know. So shhh.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Meet Lila

I've been remiss in introducing you to my new BFF. Friends, meet Lila.



Lila replaces my first smartphone, Gwen. A moment of silence for Gwen because she was a very faithful companion. I had very few issues, which I thank her for, considering Joe's Blackberry was a complete piece o' crap.

But, Lila... She's so shiny and new! Lila is a Droid2 Global. Aka: the Google phone. Know who's Google's slave? This girl! It was just meant to be. She's so much faster and easier to use. I can actually browse and go through my rss feeds in a reasonable amount of time.

Why didn't I get an iPhone? Besides the whole Google-owns-my-soul thing? I can't run amok internationally with the iPhone (at least not from Verizon - and I'm quite happy with their service). And since Joe can't sit his booty still and has also taken on some new international job duties, I don't want to be without my phone if/when we travel abroad.

Oh, and her name: Lila is in a purple case. Purple = lilacs. Lilacs = this time of year. Plus, Twitter liked Lila. Very scientific.

So, anyways, that's the biggest happy in my life right now. Maybe it seems a bit sad that I'm so excited over a phone, but I try to take my happy wherever I can find it.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Six Word Saturday

it's getting better all the time



Want to play along? All that's necessary to participate is to describe your life (or something) in a phrase using just six words. For more information, try clicking here. Feel free to explain or not explain. Add an image, a video, a song, nothing. I love seeing what everyone does with their entries.

Each week (probably on Sunday or Monday), I use random.org to select a bunch of entries to visit.  Or I visit everyone. Or even numbered entries. Or odd numbered entries. Or multiples of three. Depends on what's going on that week.  In addition, please visit the person ahead of you on the list (or visit everyone if you like!). That way everyone receives at least one visit!

If you play along in your blog, please add a link to the Mr. Linky. I appreciate a link back (shiny code below if you like!). Otherwise, you're welcome to leave your six words in this post as a comment.

Please be sure to link either to your main page or (preferably) directly to the 6WS post. Links to blogs that do not contain a 6WS entry will be removed (sorry, just the button in the sidebar doesn't count as participating).



Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Getting There

Saturday, I was feeling better. More optimistic. More energized. I had turned a corner and was ready to take on the world again. I wrote a post stating such and scheduled it to post Monday morning.

Then Sunday night happened. I haven't written much (at all?) about our recent trip home. It was a good trip, overall, but the primary reason for it was to try to help my father-in-law. You see, he's old. He's not doing so well. In addition to physical issues (most concerning are heart problems and circulation/infection issues with his feet), he is bi-polar. This manifests in extreme ups and downs, plus a strong side of OCD.

Anyways, we came home from the trip feeling positive about some progress we had made in finding him a few solutions that would help him stay well enough to remain mostly independent. Sunday night, he called Joe and told him that he's undone everything we did for him. He told off the volunteers arranged by the County. He accused us of screwing up his medications. And so much more...

That set me back. Something I had felt really good about and suddenly I was slapped in the face. Yet another reminder, much like the event that set me off the week before, that despite my greatest efforts I had really accomplished nothing. The impact of my actions was fleeting at best, completely in vain at worst.

I realize this isn't true. I know I can only control myself and that I need to do what I can live with. I know the FIL situation is about supporting my husband and not about me. And I know I'm not a failure. The fact that I can see this and start to recover from it much more quickly than the events of last week means I'm making progress.

All of this is my long way of saying what I originally planned to say in Monday's post: Thank you. To everyone who has left a comment, sent an email, tweeted encouragement. For every shoulder, ear, and hug. Thank you all.

I'm getting there. I'm just not there yet.