The Bet

A ladies man is perhaps not a phrase to be taken lightly.  I have known my share of people who, for one reason or another, have been able to connect with whoever they want to, whenever they want to, trading on sexual energy that way an average person will trade on kisses, already looking to dump whoever they’re with for whatever new conquest might come along while the other guy is still just hoping for his date to turn into something more.

It’s clear from the minute that Tom Wilson walks into our dorm room, throwing his stuff down on the empty bed and putting his hand out that he’s one of those guys.  He’s testosterone walking on two legs.  We’ve already talked a bit, exchanged a couple of letters, after learning we would be roommates.  Now he’s walked in and any pre-conceived notion I might have had about him is gone in an instant.  He clearly didn’t spend high school just hoping to get a glimpse of a female breast; his virginity was probably gone before his sixteenth birthday.  It’s clear that if I want to score with someone this year my best bet might be to hang around and catch those who fall away. (more…)

or, what I did when I got pneumonia over Thanksgiving for a second damn time.

deathstar (that’s a Powerpoint presentation)

img_1512So, I recently sold some books and my deal with Veronica was that if I made enough off the sale, that I would be spending that money on the new version of the LEGO Death Star that was being released this fall.  Well, I made enough and when this was released, I immediately ordered it.  It arrived on September 25.  And then it sat.  And sat.  And sat.

See, I knew I needed the dining room table to put it together.  I also knew I would need several days to do it.  Which meant I needed a break from Thomas’ ABA so that I could have the table for enough days.  So it sat and I waited.

Then I got pneumonia.  For the third time (I had it in 2010 and I had it the first time way back during Thanksgiving of 1995).  So, last Monday, I finally opened this box that I have had for two months and the building began.  There were 10 numbered bags (the way LEGO works these days that actually meant there were something like 50 bags, but you open them in groups by the number), which meant I could do it in 10 sittings essentially.  So, two on Monday, two on Tuesday, two on Wednesday, only one on Thursday morning, then moving it to the Star Wars LEGO cabinet (of course I have a cabinet entirely for Star Wars LEGO – in fact, my Star Wars LEGO no longer fits in just one cabinet) and clearing the table and adding in the leaf for Thanksgiving dinner, then one sitting each on Friday, on Saturday morning and then on Sunday evening during the Chiefs – Broncos game (which was still tied and scoreless when I finished, so clearly they were waiting for me to finish before starting the scoring).  So, it’s finally done.  Enjoy the link above, which is a Powerpoint presentation I put together with all the pictures.

dark house

by Bruce Yale
© 1999, And Other Stories
how about how it good it feels to finally forgive you
a morissette

She draws as she waits to see the director.  It is a light sketch, free form castle she can use later on after the meeting, when she knows for certain what direction the look of the film will be taking.  When the shouting in the office gets loud she turns toward the receptionist but the woman at the desk seems not to have noticed.

“Well, fuck this then,” comes a shout as the door to the inner office slams open.  She tries not to move, to stop even her breathing.  She is in luck as the young man turns away and yells back into the office.

“I will write what I want, Terry!  Just fucking direct it!  King sold it, so it’s mine now.  Don’t go bonkers with the damn set pieces and launch the budget into the stratosphere.”

She has recognized him instantly, would always know his voice.  She closes her eyes and struggles to breathe.  When she opens her eyes she sees the director standing in front of her, smiling.  The crooked smile gives her the urge to bang two coconuts together.

“I hope he didn’t scare you.”

“No.  I’m fine.  Ellen Stevens.  Pleasure to be working with you.” (more…)

Probably my mother's favorite movie, at least in part because Chris Cooper actually plays the hero.

Probably my mother’s favorite movie, at least in part because Chris Cooper actually plays the hero.

You can read more about this year in film here.  The Best Picture race is discussed here, with reviews of all the nominees.  First there are the categories, followed by all the films with their nominations, then the Globes, where I split the major awards by Drama and Comedy, followed by a few lists at the very end.  If there’s a film you expected to see and didn’t, check the very bottom – it might be eligible in a different year.  Films in red won the Oscar in that category (or Globe, in the Globes section).  Films in blue were nominated.  Films (or directors) in olive are links to earlier posts that I don’t want to have show up in blue and be mistaken for a nominee.  Films with an asterisk (*) were Consensus nominees (a scale I put together based on the various awards) while those with a double asterisk (**) were the Consensus winners.

I’m listing the top 12 in the categories but only the top 5 earn Nighthawk nominations.

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture
  1. Lone Star
  2. Trainspotting
  3. The English Patient
  4. Fargo
  5. Hamlet
  6. Secrets & Lies
  7. Jerry Maguire
  8. In the Bleak Midwinter
  9. Cold Comfort Farm
  10. The Crucible
  11. Romeo + Juliet
  12. Emma

Analysis:  There are a lot of years that have a better #1 film than Lone Star.  But not many have a better #2 than Trainspotting.  Even fewer have a better #3 than The English Patient.  The Top three films are tied with several others years for third best to-date (behind 1946 and 1950).  But Fargo is the best #4 film to-date (actually, it’s almost certainly the best #4 film ever).  And only a handful of years have a #5 film as good as Hamlet.  As a result, this year is tied with 1946 for the best Top 4 to-date and Top 5 to-date (and, probably, all-time).  There is a three point drop after that, so it’s only the second best Top 6, then another two point drop.  But, because all 10 films are ****, it is in the 6th best Top 10 to-date, behind only 1989, 1960, 1994, 1962 and 1991.
One thing I must make mention of here.  I don’t count documentaries, as I have mentioned in the past.  That is particularly relevant in this year, a year in which I actually went to see two documentaries in the theater (The Celluloid Closet, Looking for Richard) and there are a couple of others which are phenomenal (When We Were Kings, Paradise Lost).  I went with 12 films because this is my whole list of **** films.
Two of these films rank among the films I have watched the most over the last 20 years (Trainspotting, In the Bleak Midwinter). (more…)

Last Light over Hayden Rock


The girl is dancing, a swift swirl of hair and grace in rhythmic movement across the kitchen floor.

“You make me feel like I can fly!  So high!  El-e-vation!  Elevation!” she screams in a tender voice that understands the words.

Rebecca Logan is smiling from the doorway.  She has come to the house in search of her boyfriend, the young girl’s father, in hopes that he will shed some light on her Existentialism paper.  She watches with a smile as the ten year old girl, Kayce Yale, takes a wooden spoon from the dish drainer and sings at the highest note her voice will hit, a scream of passion and joy for rock and roll. (more…)

They may have passed up my recommendations, but they got it right.

They may have passed up my recommendations, but they got it right.

I have been asked by several people for my reaction to Bob Dylan’s recent Nobel Prize for Literature.  Part of that is because I have written about the Nobel Prize before.  Part of that is because I am a fan of Bob Dylan.  Part of that is because I write a lot about literature and know even more because I’ve read my way through all the great books lists and have made my own lists.  Part of it is just because I’m really opinionated (“the most opinionated of my children” my mother says on days when she forgets that this description also fits three of my four siblings). (more…)

The River

Looking back, I suppose we have to wonder why.  Why did we let it get so far, he asks me, how could things have gone so wrong, what could make people do this kind of thing?  What could make us stop?  But none of the questions came when they were supposed to.  It’s easy enough to ask the questions now, to think about what we should have done, after you can take it all in and reflect back.

He looks at me and I’m just staring back, my hands crossed, my fingers pointing along my nose, my thumbs joined together under my chin, but I’m not saying anything.  This is the way it happened, he says to me, it’s the way the world was.  You know, I’ve escaped your life, he tells me.  Four friends dead and I never had to be there.  I’ve never seen anyone die.  I never had to brush the taste of death out of my mouth, somehow always managed to escape it, hiding in my room, down in the city, getting the calls, hearing the news, never having to face it.  It’s so much easier to take when death comes second-hand.  I imagine so, anyway, he says.  He looks at me again.  Because it’s always been me.  I never get to hear about it second-hand.  I just get to see it. (more…)