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Monday, January 31, 2011

Worst. Movie. Accents.



If it's Monday, it must be The Bumbles' Monday Movie Meme.  This week Molly is handing down sentences to the criminals of bad movie accents, particularly her home state's capitol/capital offenses, namely Boston. She invited us to give our take on accents you love to hate.

1.  Kevin Costner makes everyone's list for his atrocious, in-and-out British accent in 'Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves'. Where was the dialect coach for this film? Cringe factor:  5 stars, out of 5.

2.  James van der Beek, of Dawson's Creek fame, slaughtered the unique Texas accent when he starred in 'Varsity Blues'.  Cringe factor:  4 stars, out of 5.

3.  Mickey Rooney embarrassed himself and outraged every Japanese person living here, and abroad, when he attempted to sound legit as a Japanese neighbor of Holly Golightly's in 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'. Cringe factor:  4 stars, out of 5.

4.  Brad Pitt has attempted several foreign accents, but his tongue-in-cheek portrayal of a fake WWII Nazi officer in 'Inglourious Basterds' was hilarious. This is a case of when bad accents are good. Cringe factor: 5 stars, out of 5 (but in a good way).

5.  Nicole Kidman should stick to her usual non-descript American accents, because her southern accent in 'Cold Mountain' didn't quite make it. It was one of those all-purpose, one-size-fits-all, impossible-to-place dialects of the South that clueless actors seem to think will fit the bill. (Renee Zellwegger, on the other hand, got the Tennessee mountain accent perfectly.)  Cringe factor: 2 stars, out of 5.

6.  Dennis Quaid in 'The Big Easy'. Now, I loves me some hunky Dennis Quaid, even though he cheated on perky and sweet Meg Ryan and ruined her face by making her think she wasn't young enough anymore and causing her to get "duck lips", but whatever. I'm sorry, Dennis, but throwing a cher on the end of every sentence does not a N'awlins accent make. Nobody, and I mean nobody but a New Orleans native, nails that accent. It's a combination heavily influenced by French, of course, but also Spanish, German, Irish, West Indies, and Brooklyn. What? Brooklyn? The legend goes that when the yellow fever epidemic of 1796 wiped out almost all of the nuns in those parishes, nuns from Brooklyn and surrounding areas were imported to New Orleans to teach in the Catholic schools, thus adding to the unique flavor that is the New Orleans accent. If you haven't heard it first-hand, it's impossible to explain. You'll just have to go there.  Cringe factor: 4 stars, out of 5. (I'm being lenient since I think Dennis is really, really sexy.)

Addendum:  Sandy just informed me that it was the other way around with Dennis and the slut Meg...her with Russell Crowe. Geez, how did I forget about that? Well, as I said to Sandy, he was probably thinking about it...with me, of course. Meg just got around to it first. So that negates the whole reasoning for the "duck lips". Why, Meg, why did you do it?!!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday Serenade





Margaret Whiting died on January 10 at the age of 86. Her rendition of 'Moonlight in Vermont' is one of my favorite songs of all time. Probably because I fell in love with Vermont the first time I visited that beautiful state.

Fresh Air's Terry Gross interviewed Ms. Whiting in 1988. You can read the interview in it's entirety here.  Or you can listen to the podcast in which she sings a few of her famous songs.



Comments are not required on this post...it is for your listening and learning pleasure only.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dear Haji



I received this lovely message from my dear, dear friend Haji this morning. I thought you might enjoy reading it as well.
DEAR SIR / MADAM PLEASE READ. 
  
IT IS MY SINCERE PLEASURE AT THIS MOMENT TO EXHIBIT MY TOTAL TRUST BESTOWED ON YOU IN ACCORDANCE TO MY PROPOSED PARTNERSHIP RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU OF WHICH I AM FULLY CONVINCED THAT YOU WILL REALLY WELCOME MY PARTNERSHIP WITH YOU IN THIS TRANSACTION BEING VERY SCEPTICAL ABOUT DEALING WITH AFRICANS IN SUCH TRANSACTION, RANGING FROM THE HEIGHT OF FRAUDULENT ACTIVITIES ENCOMPASSING THE AFRICAN COMMUNITIES. NOW IT IS MY GODLY NURSED INTENTION TO PROVE MYSELF TO YOU THAT I AM VERY MUCH DIFFERENT FROM OTHERS WHICH YOU MUST HAVE COME ACROSS. 
  
I HEREBY ATTESTED MY ACCEPTED CONCLUSION TO TAKE UPON MY GENTLE SELF AND TO JOIN HANDS TOGETHER TO COVER ANY UNFORESEEN EXPENSES THAT MAY BE INVOLVED HERE TILL THE FINAL TRANSFER OF THE FUNDS TO OUR CORRESPONDENT BANK BEFORE ITS FINAL REMITTANCE INTO YOUR NOMINATED BANK ACCOUNT. 
  
THIS IS TO CONVINCE YOU OF MY SPIRITED ACCEPTANCE TO HAVE YOU AS A CONFIDANT IN A BUSINESS OF THIS MAGNITUDE KNOWING THAT YOU WILL NOT TURN ME DOWN COME-WHAT-MAY, REGARDING THIS CLAIM/TRANSFER TO BOOST MY PLANNED ESTABLISHMENT OF A FUNDING COMPANY OUT OF AFRICA. IN OTHER WORDS, I WENT INTO A MORE CONCRETE ARRANGEMENT IN COURIERING TO YOUR DOORSTEP, A TOTAL OF US$10.5MILLION DOLLARS THROUGH INTER-BANK TRANSFER. THIS AMOUNT OF MONEY BELONGS TO OUR DECEASED CUSTOMER AS THERE WERE NO CLAIMS OVER THIS DORMANT BALANCE ACCOUNT FOR A PERIOD OF MANY YEARS.
THEREFORE, I AM IN NEED OF A RELIABLE PARTNER THAT WOULD COME FORWARD TO PUT CLAIMS OVER THE FUNDS FOR ITS TRANSFER INTO HIS/HER FOREIGN BANK ACCOUNT. THIS IS BECAUSE I AM THE DIRECTOR OF FOREIGN REMITTANCE DEPARTMENT OF MY BANK FOR SECURES TRANSFER OF THESE FUNDS WITHOUT ANY HINDRANCES. 
ALL I AM EXPECTING FROM YOU, AS A MATTER OF GREATEST URGENCY AND IMPORTANCE IS YOUR SINCERITY AND HONESTY AS I HAVE SOME OF THE NEEDED LEGAL DOCUMENTS TO PROVE THAT THIS BUSINESS IS LAWFUL FOR ITS ONWARD REMITTANCE.  I URGENTLY WANT YOU TO SEND ALL THE DEMANDED PERSONAL INFORMATION’S BELOW TO ME AS SOON AS YOU RECEIVE THIS PROPOSAL IN ORDER TO SHOW YOUR READINESS AND WILLINGNESS IN THIS PROPOSED BUSINESS.  
                     
                       BELOW ARE THE NEEDED PERSONAL INFORMATIONS

1) YOUR FULL NAME.......................... ...
2) YOUR AGE.......................................
3) YOUR MOBILE AND HOME PHONE NUMBER…………..
4) YOUR FAX NUMBER………………..... 
5) YOUR COUNTRY OF NATIONALITY………………..............
6) YOUR OCCUPATION.................... ........
7) SEX................................................
8) ALTERNATIVE E-MAIL ADDRESS /........................

FINALLY, YOU HAVE TO KEEP THIS PROPOSAL CONFIDENTIAL AND SECRET FROM YOUR RELATIONS, PARTNERS AND COLLEAGUES FOR OUR SUCCESS IN THIS TRANSACTION AS THE BASIS OF THIS BUSINESS IS SECRECY. I PROMISE YOU THAT I WOULD PROTECT YOUR PERSONAL INTEREST AS THIS BUSINESS IS 100% RISK-FREE.THEREFORE, I WANT YOU TO EXPRESS YOUR INTEREST TO ENGAGE IN THIS BUSINESS WITH ME BECAUSE YOUR SHARE IS 40% OF THE FUNDS IN QUESTION SO THAT I CAN SEND TO YOU THE TEXT OF APPLICATION WHICH YOU HAVE TO FILL AND SEND TO THE E-MAIL ADDRESS OF THE BANK. 
I LOOK FORWARD FOR YOUR IMMEDIATE POSITIVE RESPONSE.
  
MY REGARDS TO YOU AND THE FAMILY, 
HAJI AZIZS YUSUF
TELE 0022678430122


My dear Haji,

I am responding to your most earnest and pleasurable message in a manner most suited to your very interesting inquiry. I do not often have the bountiful fortune to receive such golden opportunities as I have not at this time been to your most lovely continent to acquire engaging friends such as yourself. I do hope the desert sands are not playing havoc with the keys of your computer, which would hamper our very soon business partnership and robbing me of the chance for depositing the awaiting funds totaling $10.5 million USD. What a useful partnership this will be for me and for you as well. 


Unfortunately, at this time, my bank account has been closed due to lack of funds. But I have a most reliable plan at my disposal. If you would please to send me a Visa debit card preloaded with $1,000 USD, I would then be allowed to reopen my languishing account and our business transaction could commence forthwith, with much pleasuring. Please keep this a secret from your many reliable business colleagues, because once they hear of this worthy plan, they too will be falling over themselves to send many Visa debit cards to me, come what may. My bank might then become suspicious of much recent activities going forth.


With your being director of a very trustworthy establishment, you will understand my godly nursed need for secrecy, and will not even whisper of it to your lovely wife, even in the throes of passion, which will surely follow such good news.


As you demanded, I will supply all the needed informations in a message to follow at a later time today. I understand the urgency with which this valuable informations is required, but first I must meet with my attorney to be sure I am not violating any pesky international banking laws. You will be most understanding of this maneuver, I am sure.


In closing, I would like to praise you on your grasp of the English language. Your lessons are coming along quite well and soon you will be able to enter any American establishment and make yourself well understood.  Please to give my utmost regards to your lovely wife and handsome children. 


Your newest partner,
Susan

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Dis-organized? Who, me?

It seems everywhere you look these days, every magazine, every helpful homekeeping website has an article on organizing. "How to de-clutter your life", "Organize your_________in 30 minutes". There are even websites devoted to teaching you organizational skills (and they will gladly sell you the containers and paraphernalia required to employ them).  I certainly need to read a few of these guidelines...maybe post them on the wall as a constant reminder. While I'm not yet in the "Hoarding: Buried Alive" category, I could envision a distant future where my loved ones might have to pull my body from a mountain of books I've acquired from Goodwill, or stacks and stacks of magazines I've kept for future reference on remodeling/gardening/cooking/you-name-it. Well, at least all the cats I will have acquired by that time will keep me warm until someone finds me.

One of the main areas needing organizing are my utensil drawers in the kitchen (thank you, Bella, for the idea!). I loved the quote she shared from a 7-year-old boy, "That's the most fantastic drawer in the whole world!" My grandkids happen to find mine pretty fascinating, too. They're always borrowing items from them to use as fight weapons, or sometimes even pretend cooking. It's always fun trying to locate said items afterward.


Yes, I admit it, I have an addiction to kitchen things...cookware, pretty dishes, gadgets, widgets, tools...anything you can use to chop, dice, slice, stir, beat...It is dangerous for me to go into Williams-Sonoma, Crate and Barrel, kitchen outlet stores, or my very favorite, Homegoods. Clearance racks and aisles beckon me, calling "Lookeee, you know you neeeeeed it!" And that's not even counting the online possibilities and Goodwill.

(Actually, that's 9 turners. I forgot about the specialty ones in the drawer.)

I've even given some of the stuff away, and there's still too much, or at least it would seem so. The thing is, I use most of this stuff...well, maybe not nine spatulas all at once, but several might be in the dishwasher at any given time, and different types have different purposes.


Okay, so I'm not the most organized person in the world, but hopefully not the most dis-organized. I know I should get rid of some this stuff. I just have to figure out what. But it won't be these things:

Ten Things I Must Have in My Kitchen

  1. My Santoku chefs knives and the W├╝sthof paring knife that fits my hand perfectly.
  2. The Cuisinart hand blender with mini-food processor attachment, which is perfect for making a cup of bread crumbs or chopping fresh herbs.
  3. The electric tea kettle.
  4. The huge bent-handled stirring spoon, which can also be used as a ladle.
  5. The different sized ice cream scoops, which make perfectly sized cookies.
  6. Microplane zesters/graters
  7. The dough cutter/scooper of chopped veggies.
  8. The convection toaster oven.
  9. The iron skillets.
  10. Whisks. A couple of large ones for mixing batters and sifting dry ingredients, and a little one for mixing slurries in a measuring cup.
I probably should have made this a list of twenty or thirty things, but then that would just be crazy.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Housekeeper and the Professor: a book review

Mathematics, baseball, friendship....three uncommon denominators which come together to make the beautiful story of The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa. This book was sent to me by Maggie of Stepping Out with Red Shoes On  in exchange for a book that I sent to her during my big book giveaway.

From page one, I was captivated by this seemingly simple, but very complex story. The Housekeeper  is a young single mother who never knew her own father (there are no names used in this book, save the nickname given to her son). Her son's father has never accepted responsibility for him. She works for a housekeeping agency, and is the ninth housekeeper who has been assigned to clean and cook for a semi-disabled former mathematics professor. She is given strict orders by the man's sister-in-law, in whose guest house he lives, to never bother her by coming to the door of the main house. She is to do her work and collect her paycheck and not get involved. However, there is one small catch; the Professor, because of a head injury he sustained in a car wreck in 1975, cannot retain any recent memory longer than 80 minutes. He keeps notes pinned to his suit jacket to remind himself of things. One such note that he affixes to the jacket after meeting the Housekeeper reads "This is the new housekeeper" and alongside he draws a rough sketch of her. Another reads "My memory lasts only eighty minutes." Even he has to be reminded of this fact.

Every day is the same. She comes in at 11:00 to cook his lunch, and she has to reintroduce herself each and every time, and again after every eighty minutes, if she has been out of his sight. He stays in his study, solving extreme math problems for a professional magazine, for which he has won many cash prizes and that don't matter to him. She cleans his house and prepares his evening meal and his breakfast for the next morning and leaves for home by 7:00 to be with her ten-year-old son. The professor finds significance in every number. At their first meeting, he asks the Housekeeper what size shoe she wears. When she tells him twenty-four centimeters, he tells her that it is a "sturdy number", the factorial of four. He goes on to ask her telephone number, he replies that it is the total number of primes between one and one hundred million. A mathematical genius.

When the Professor finds out by accident that the Housekeeper has a son, he becomes distressed that the boy arrives home from school to an empty apartment and has to be alone until she gets home at 8:00. He insists that she have him come to the house after that. Thus begins a sweet and tender relationship between the mother, the old man, and the boy, who he gives the name of Root, "because the square root is a generous sign, it gives shelter to all the numbers."

Root absolutely loves, and lives for, baseball. The Professor happens to love baseball also, but from the perspective of mathematical equations. In fact, he has never even seen a game. His favorite baseball player is Yutaka Enatsu, who played for the Hanshin Tigers when the Professor's memory stopped in 1975. Root persuades the Professor to have the ancient radio in the house repaired so they can listen to the games in the evenings; but to win this great prize, the Professor assigns Root a complex math problem to solve. Root is able, with his mother's help, to come up with the solution, and the radio is fixed.

Root is very protective of the Professor's memory. Every time they listen to a game, the Professor asks if Enatsu will be pitching. The first time this happens, Root tells him the truth. The Professor is so distressed that Root vows never to let it happen again. He concocts elaborate schemes to keep the Professor from finding out that Enatsu no longer pitches for the Tigers; and, in fact, has retired.

I don't want to reveal too much of the story, but there is a real baseball game, an injury, an illness, a separation, and a reunion. Along the way there are discoveries to make, math to learn, and a sweet surprise that brought me to tears, not the only time I found myself in tears throughout this lovely story. I was never more regretful about not learning higher math when I was in school. But, in a way, the Professor became my teacher, too.

"He treated Root exactly as he treated prime numbers. For him, primes were the base on which all other natural numbers relied; and children were the foundation of everything worthwhile in the adult world."

Ogawa, Yoko. The Housekeeper and the Professor; translated by Stephen Snyder; copyright, 2003. Picador, New York. 180 pages.


5 out of 5 stars (and I don't assign this lightly, with To Kill a Mockingbird being my standard)