Saturday, June 27

"Now, Dimitri...!"

As my friends know, I'm a big film fan. I love revisiting the oldies mostly because I'm always shocked at how much I don't remember about each. Also, because there are so many great films out there, it's easy to forget about just how good some of the older flicks are.

The night before my fun girly Saturday, last weekend, I got in late. I went through my usual bedtime routine changed into pjs, washed my face and brushed my teeth. Then, while settling into bed, I came across an odd choice for bedtime viewing but it was so compelling I stayed up 'til the end. I watched the last 45 minutes or so of Goodfellas. I had completely forgotten just how good that movie is. Of course I've been jonesing to see the entire film ever since. Good music too, and that DiNiro is a psycho.

About two weeks ago I came across the last hour of Jaws. Now, that's a movie that I will pretty much settle on every time I come across it on cable. (But only commercial free. I can't watch these good movies with constant interruption. To do so would be a sin in my book.) The only bummer is that when Quint is munched in half by the shark I now think of my niece and that time I let her and her brother watch Jaws with me. I still feel somewhat guilty about that. It's just not appropriate for a 6 year old but the kid had enough sense to turn her head away from the screen every time she heard that famous music, so that helped. Jaws also makes me think of a fantastic book, recommended to me by Shandon, about the sinking of the USS Indianapolis called In Harm's Way. It tells the story Quint refers to in the drunken scar competition in Jaws and I consider it a must read.

TCM has been dedicating entire days to great film directors this month. I caught a great documentary called Scorsese on Scorsese (that was on the Goodfellas day). I saw a Woody Allen doc that I enjoyed but one of the best was on Stanley Kubrick. I often say "I'm not a fan" when his name is mentioned but it's not entirely true. The trouble with Kubrick is that he directed such an eclectic bunch of films that there is inevitably something in there for everyone. I happen to genuinely admire Lolita and downright LOVE Dr. Strangelove and The Shining. To this day I turn my head when those creepy twins show up on screen. They still scare the hell out of me. I used to believe The Exorcist was the scariest movie out there but now I'm convinced that title belongs to The Shining. (And yes, I look forward to watching The Shining with my niece and nephew some day but I'm afraid that won't be happening for another decode or so.) The flip side to Kubrick is that he also directed some of my all time least favorite movies, films like A Clockwork Orange and Eyes Wide Shut. I just never need to see those again. As for 2001: A Space Odyssey, I admit that I probably need to revisit it. It bored me to tears when I saw it ages ago. I suppose I'll watch it again some day.

Today is Hitchcock day on TCM. It's been a good day too. I woke to the last hour of Rebecca, one of my all-time favorite movies. I caught Psycho this afternoon and, again, was surprised at just how good it is. My Mom always tells me how shocking it was when it came out. It's good to understand it's place in cinematic history but even without that knowledge it's always better than I remembered. The creep factor is off the charts. I'd forgotten all about Norman doing the peeping Tom routine. I saw a really fun episode of Dick Cavett featuring Hitchcock, that too was good. The man seemed to really enjoying revealing his filmmaker tricks to anyone who would listen. Sort of like a magician who compulsively gives away his trade secrets.

So what's what's the point of this rambling? Well, I made a strange group purchase from today. I picked up special edition DVDs of Goodfellas, Jaws, The Shining and Pinocchio. Fun mix, huh? I look forward to watching them all. I think there's an opposites double feature in there too. Always a plus.

Friday, June 26

So cool





(Is it just me or does Mr. Depp look just like Tobey McGuire in that get up?)

Saturday, June 20


Today has been a girly girl day for me. I met some friends at Le Pain Quotidien in Claremont. I'd never been before but I really liked it. I hear there's one in Pasadena that I plan to visit some time soon.

After an early lunch we wandered over to one of my all time favorite shops in Claremont's village. It's called Barbara Cheatley's. It's a girly store with all kinds of lovely little things for ladies. They sell lots of little antique knick knacks, jewelry, aprons, cookbooks, books, cards, quilts, postcards... all kinds of things that you don't really need but really really want. Compared with other antiqe-y stores in the area all of Barbara's goods are reasonably priced.

A visit to Barbara's is always like a treasure hunt. Today, while buying a little book for Mom I saw a small stack of booklets about the history of the American flag. I picked one up behind the counter, flipped through it and loved it. I saw that it was only $1 and had to have it but was saddened to hear another customer had just purchased all 10 that they had in stock. Drats! The little books were ironically made in England, I thought that was the best part. I loved everything about them but sadly have no idea where to find another. It's a typical Barbara Cheatley story. You have to pick up what you like and buy it promptly or somebody will beat you to it. You could spend hours roaming through it all and still feel you haven't seen it all. The displays are gorgeous and they always play the best music. Once, while wandering around the shop years ago I heard some music so good I had to ask what it was. They told me it was the soundtrack for Gosford Park the sang was called Walking to Shoot. It has since become my favorite soundtrack from a film thanks to Barbara Cheatley's.

I was so happy to see that Barbara seemed to be good and busy today. The small independent shops are the ones I love most but worry about these days. It was good to see they were doing so well.

The rest of my day has been a good and relaxing one. Tomorrow is Father's Day and we are planning a dinner of carne asada, rice, beans (well not for me), tortillas, guacamole and salsa. It should be a good one. I just got back from picking up the fixins for my salsa. I'm doing laundry now and will make the salsa soon but mostly I plan to settle in to watch Random Harvest. It's one of Mom's favorites and I've come to love it too. It's a terribly sentimental film but one you can't help but like. I tend to like movies that feature good houses. Random Harvest has a wonderful English cottage that I've always loved. It will be good to visit it again. Also, the film stars Greer Garson and Ronald Colman for God's sake! What's not to love? I also have the latest Vanity Fair. I plan to read it while watching my movie.

Oh! And TCM has done their own version of an opposites double feature tonight. Immediately following Random Harvest is The Bad Seed. It seems Mervyn LeRoy directed both films and TCM was thoughtful enough to air them back-to-back. They've been showing his films all day. I caught the end of Madame Curie this morning and liked it enough to add it to my Netflix queue. LeRoy also directed Gypsy and The Wizard of Oz (but not credited, what's the story there?) but TCM didn't air those today. Bummer. Still, thank you TCM! Thank you Mr. LeRoy for directing such an eclectic bunch of movies. You're the best!!! I just found out you're buried at Forrest Lawn. Maybe I'll drop by and see you some time.

Sunday, June 7

Now that's more like it.

I test drove Hondas today. I saw one just like that little beauty (above) and fell in love. She's a 2008 Civic Hybrid and I heart her. The entire car buying experience surprised me this time around. Going into this weekend I really though I wanted to buy the 2010 Prius. Well that instinct quickly evaporated after yesterday's ordeal.

Today Mom, Laurie and I took Miss Alex to see Up. (It's really good and you need to go see it. It will make you cry though. Don't say I didn't warn you.) On the way home Mom and I decided to do a quick test drive at the Honda dealership we have both bought our last two Hondas. We were immediately greeted by a very nice lady named Angela. I told her I wanted to test drive an Accord and a Civic Hybrid. I then briefly told her about my terrible time at the Toyota dealership. Angela not only listened to me, she paid attention. She took my driver's license and said "I'll bring it right back. I promise!" She did. I then took the hybrid for a spin. It immediately felt like home. I suppose this is due to the fact that I've been driving Hondas for 20 years. I immediately liked it but wanted to try the Accord since that's what I've purchased in the past. The Accord is a great drive, it handles so well and is roomy and I liked it but that cute little hybrid was calling my name. I test drove the hybrid one more time because I was worried it didn't handle quite as well as the Accord. It does not have the get-up-and-go that the Accord has but it's a hybrid and I'm not in need of a getaway car so who cares? Besides, I figure it's only noticeable when doing a back-to-back test drive exercise. I really don't think it will bother me when gas prices soar over $3 per gallon by the end of the summer (as I predict). Also, I was not looking for a 2008 model but this one is fully loaded. It has every option I could have wanted and I love it. I told Angela the interest rate I wanted and what I wanted for my trade-in. When she came back with the ridiculously low interest rate I was floored. We haggled back and forth a bit. I talked her down on some things (like the Lojack I didn't even want). In the end I probably paid more than I had to, but honestly, the whole experience was so much more pleasant that yesterday's that I don't even mind. Besides, when you add tax, registration and all of the other fees I'm not sure the haggling mattered all that much. I just wasn't insulted so I walked away with the car I wanted and feeling fine.

I brought her home tonight and spent about 30 minutes sitting in the driveway presetting her XM Radio stations and the regular radio stations. I set the driver's seat to my liking and read the manuals. What a difference a day makes! I can't wait to do a road trip with her. I tried to program Graceland into the navigation system just so I could one day say "Go to Graceland" and have her guide me, but I think I did it wrong. Still, just knowing that I could go to Graceland with directions to restaurants and gas stations all along the way makes it all so much fun. And that XM radio? It's so great! I listened to the 40's station that played Ella Fitzgerald then a clip from wartime news. I stopped by Willie Nelson's classic Country station because Buck Owens was singing. I spent some time at Little Steven's Underground station and had a blast. 24 hours or Elvis, Sinatra or Springsteen anyone? How about accurate traffic and weather? Maybe some showtunes? Oh, I'm in heaven!

Now I just need to name my new car. Her paint color is called Magnetic Pearl so I may call her Pearl.

Who wants a ride?!


In other late breaking news:

Dad just started shouting "Lucy! Come here, quick!" Typically this means there is some sort of crazy nature/animal sight to behold. Dad didn't disappoint. I ran down the hall towards his office and stopped dead in my tracks about half way down. Standing at the sliding glass door about 6 feet away from where Dad was seated, stood a black bear. Holy crap! How many times does this have to happen around this crazy house? Mom and I had earlier commented that we thought there might be a a skunk outside because something smelled bad. We closed the doors and windows to keep the smell out (a common occurrence around here). It seems that poor bear had been sprayed recently. I shouldn't say "poor bear" because he/she went to town on Dad's peach and nectarine trees. Dumb bear. I asked Dad how he noticed him/her and he said "I heard a loud bump against the glass door and looked over and saw it leaning against the glass!" Dad was sitting at his desk with lots of lights on working at his computer. The outside light was on too. I'm frankly a little freaked out the bear didn't seem to be very concerned that a person in full light was in the room he/she was trying to enter. I say "him/her" because Dad couldn't tell if it was male or female because it wasn't fully grown. All I could think was "You mean they get bigger?!" Black bears are much smaller than grizzly or brown bears but when they are standing outside your Dad's sliding glass door they seem plenty big.

Man, I'm tired. What a day!

Saturday, June 6

Well, that didn't go well.

So, I'm thinking of buying a new car. My current car is 10 years old and has 140k miles on it. It currently has no problems but the miles are high and I'd like to have a new car paid for when I buy my house.

I set out today to test drive a Prius and a Honda Hybrid. It did not go well. I went to the Toyota dealership first to test drive a 2010 Prius. Well, the dealership only had one and they weren't allowing people to test drive it because apparently people like to test drive cars with no intention of buying them. (I didn't know this was a hobby.) According to the web site I could expect to pay around $25k for a new Prius. For the record THAT'S A LOAD OF CRAP. The new Prius is only available fully loaded and for close to $40k. No thank you.

I then decided to test drive a 2009 model instead. They only had ONE new 2009 model --option zero. (I didn't even know they made "Option Zero" cars.) Meaning it is the most stripped down model available. Also, it was white and I don't really want a white car. I'm more interested in a silver or charcoal grey car. Also, I'd like to have a mp3 jack and Bluetooth built into my new car. This is 2009 after all. If I'm going to the trouble of doing this, I'd like it to have a few of the modern conveniences.

I drove the 2009 and thought it was ok but was surprisingly not bowled over by it. Everyone I know who has a Prius LOVES them. I then went into the dealership and gave them my info so they could run my credit and make me an offer. After about 10 minutes I got bored. I was pretty relaxed and mellow. I was texting a friend who was telling me to walk out. At 1:25 pm I announced that I had to leave in 5 minutes. They had the nerve to ask why. I know! I told them I was picking up my niece at 2:00 in La Verne. They wanted to know how long it would take to get there. Unbelievable! After more unnecessary questioning the Manager (or whoever he was) came out and offered me $1000 for my old car.

That's when things got really weird.

I don't know what happened to me. I just saw red. I was furious! You know when Cate Blanchet's elf queen character in Lord of the Rings flips out at the fountain and the wind swirls around and she turns all ugly and freaky? I think that's sort of what happened to me. I went from being calm to entirely pissed off. I told them $1000 was a joke and that I wanted my driver's license back (they hold it while you test drive but mostly so you can't leave when you want to). The guy asked what I thought it was worth. I told him at least $2500. He asked where I heard that and I said "From YOUR WEBSITE!". He looked mystified, which only annoyed me more. He kept asking more questions. I asked for my license. He wasn't moving. He then asked "Have we done something to make you mad?" "Um, yeah. I'm mad. $1000 is ridiculous and I want my license back and I need to leave." I finally stood up, which freaked him out. He finally s-l-o-w-l-y walked towards that bullshit room where they claim to ask the Wizard of Oz for permission to give buyers a better deal. I followed him into the room which made him extraordinarily uncomfortable. I don't know what goes on in there but it if his body language was any indication, it's illegal. He said "Oh, um, I'll bring it out to you." I stood there a moment then turned to leave. He brought out my license, I grabbed it, stuffed it in my purse and walked out. He chased me out saying "If I could give you $2500 for your car could we make a deal today?" I said "No. I told you I don't want that stripped down white car." He was bummed. He had run my credit by then so I think he knew he'd blown it. He had.

I think the thing that made me so mad was that nobody at that dealership told me one thing I didn't already know except that a new Prius is ridiculously overpriced. Every other word out of their mouths was ridiculous. They really must deal with morons regularly. Do people really walk in there not knowing what the trade-in value of their car is or knowing what the different options are? The guy kept telling me I could drive away right then and I'd have a week to bring them a check. I nodded and mumbled "I know. I've bought a car before." That didn't' seem to faze him. I told them I was using a service through my credit union that would shop for the best deal and interest rate and negotiate for me. Nobody at Toyota was listening. They just told me my credit union was offering 5.9% which I already knew. I told them earlier my credit union was offering lame interest rates.

Ugh! It was a horrible shopping experience. I'm not even sure I want to bother getting a new car now.

That's pretty bad. When a person with a pink slip in hand and money in the bank is so annoyed you talk them OUT of buying a car from you... you're a bad car salesman.

I may still try the Honda dealership tomorrow but I don't know if I can stomach it.

When I finally got back in my car I just thought "I like my car. It's clean and roomy and I like it. Why am I doing this?" I figured I should cool off before I try to test drive the Honda Civic Hybrid

At this point I may even look into another Honda Accord. It would be my third and that's really boring but it's an excellent car and I like how comfy it is. Oh, I don't know what to do now...

Wednesday, June 3

A monster is born

Shandon recently featured a great post on the discovery of her love of dollhouses and miniatures. She has thought of building a kit for a long time and has finally chosen and purchased a kit that she will get started on soon.

I knew I was in trouble when I saw the picture of Shandon's kit. My inner child immediately jumped up and down, clapped, and shouted "I WANT TO BUILD A DOLLHOUSE TOO! NOW! NOW!" However, I was at work (on a 2 minute iced tea break, I swear) so I had to remain calm and resist the urge to immediately troll the internets for my dream dollhouse. Instead, I was a grown up and waited to get home before I began my search. It's kept me busy all evening long.

Mostly I'm drawn to the log cabin kits. I'm in love with The Ponderosa (top pic) but it's a bit intimidating. If I end up building a dollhouse kit I will likely start on something more modest like the Lincoln Log Cabin above (under The Ponderosa). In fact, with a few more windows, I wouldn't mind living in a place with that floor plan. With some Internet service and DirecTv I'd be in business! Well, that and some decent indoor plumbing. Otherwise, it's just the sort of tiny cabin I dream of spending time in. Beyond the log cabins I'm also oddly drawn to some of these fun kits:

I also love this little beauty. It's not a kit, it's just a great piece of art and I think it's pretty great.