Yet Another Journal

Nostalgia, DVDs, old movies, television, OTR, fandom, good news and bad, picks, pans,
cute budgie stories, cute terrier stories, and anything else I can think of.

 Contact me at theyoungfamily (at) earthlink (dot) net

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» Saturday, August 30, 2003
Dragoncon Days 1 and 2

It's our yearly Labor Day pilgrimage, considering we can't afford Worldcon... :-)

Our odyssey began yesterday, with the 50-minute registration...that's the longest I've ever spent in a D*Con registration line. A fellow in an Easter bunny outfit provided amusement.

Since neither of us had any panels we wanted to go to until 4:00, we did a tour of the dealer's room and the exhibitor's hall (which is really just another glorified dealer's room) and the art show. I didn't find too many things I wanted to buy--thank God since the Yellow Daisy Festival is next week! I did buy one fanzine--most of them had to do with either Stargate or Smallville, neither which I've ever watched--that was a crossover between Crusade and M*A*S*H. (Interesting combination.) Oh, yes, and I got Jim Butcher's new Harry Dresden book, Death Masks, and from the author himself, autographed.

We also saw two panels, one with George Takei ("Sulu") and another called "Growing Up on Television," with Bill Mumy ("Will Robinson" "Lennier"), Angela Cartwright ("Linda Williams" "Penny Robinson"), and Noah Hathaway ("Boxey" "Atreyu"). I think George Takei was a budgie in a previous life--he was hilarious talking about Sulu. Bill Mumy still has that mischevious smile.

After a very strange opening ceremonies--they showed some scenes from a popular SF show called The Tribe that I've only heard of looking at TV schedules and then introduced the cast members--the Atlanta Radio Theatre did a new Rory Rammer story, "The Meteor Surfers." Writer Ron Butler's sons were both in the cast, and younger son Colin did a delightful job as a very juvenile punk. The main feature was the late Thomas Fuller's "Can You Hear Me?", a thriller set at a most unlikely setting, a phone sex business. The end still gives me gooseflesh.

Today we had an earlier day: our first panel was at ten. Peter Woodward did a mirthful and informative panel on his History Channel series Conquest. Then James attended a panel while I went to take some photos of the actors and actresses on "The Walk of Fame." I like getting candid shots of them interacting with the fans. I also bought a McFarland book--these are a small press who write detailed volumes on specialized subjects; I got their Doctor Who critical analysis this year. Last year I got their Blake's 7 book. One a year is all I can afford. :-)

James and I met back up again for the Lost in Space panel with Bill Mumy and Angela Cartwright, who act like a real brother and sister after three years of playing siblings on TV. Bill's more of a talker, though. Angela is a photographer now and loves it.

While James stayed for another panel in that same room, I went to see Brad Dourif, who had played "Wormtongue" in last year's The Two Towers. We recently rewatched his Babylon 5 episode, "Passing Through Gethsemane," a truly excellent episode. Then I returned to the room and was part of the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company's panel on SF on old-time radio. I'm more of a comedy expert myself, so I mostly listened.

After the ARTC panel we went to a fun cooking panel called "Starfleet Kitchen," and finally attended a panel on Gerry Anderson's series. Well, the hosts put up four DVD sets on the panel table and as they talked, gave each of them away for the correct answer to a trivia question based on that particular series of DVD. I fastened my eyes on the complete Thunderbirds set and hoped they'd ask an easy trivia question.

They did! They asked what alias Brains used in one episode and I won the set! (Answer: Hiram K. Hackenbacker.)

Well, the next giveaway was the series UFO. James had expressed an interest in getting the set once, but like the Thunderbirds set, it was so expensive. I wished "Please let them ask an easy one." They asked the name of Ed Straker's wife and a man answered up with "Mary," which I had forgotten.

But wait! He said he already had the set! And then they asked the question I hoped they would ask, the name of Straker's son. I whispered to James, "It's John!"

So now he has an early birthday present, along with the autographed photo of Claudia Christian I bought for him.

Now we are home, cuddling with the critters, but have another day tomorrow.


» Thursday, August 28, 2003
The Back Porch's Topic of the Week:

Let's talk about your blog/journal. Over the weekend I updated mine and added skins and since then I've been having issues with the site. If you had the time, the technology and the know how (that helps a lot!) - what would you do different to your journal? What would you add? Delete? Invent? Change to your blog/journal? What do you like best about it? What don't you like? It's "20 Questions" day about your blog/journal!

:-) Well, I like the color. Maybe it might be more stylish, but I haven't seen any designs that really "float my boat." I would like to write more, and more thought-provokingly. Style without substance is nothing.


Thursday Threesome

Onesome: Health- A loved one dies unexpectedly. You're the next of kin. Do you donate whatever organs are useful, or does the idea freak you out? Should someone have planned ahead?

Sure I'd donate their organs if they could be useful to someone. As much as we become attached to the flesh that is around someone, that flesh does not really constitute that person. When someone dies, the person that you knew is gone. The body was just a vehicle to help the person interact with the world. Yes, the idea is a tiny bit creepy because we tend to associate the body with the "soul" of the person, as it were, but that's just the way we've been brought up.

Twosome: Wealth- Your beloved Great Aunt Fern dies and leaves you two million dollars (after taxes!). But there's a catch. You have to spend it all in 24 hours. Buying stocks and bonds doesn't count and there's a $500,000 limit on a new home. You may give some of the money to charity, but don't use it as a cheat to make it work out. How would you spend the money?

Good heavens, you haven't seen house prices in the Northeast, have you? $250,000 near any city will get you only a little crackerbox these days. If you wanted a nice home "with all the trimmings" and some land around it, you might have to spend a lot more than that. I mean, I want a built in vacuum system, one of those air purifiers, good insulation in the attic, and real plaster walls, not that #$!#$ drywall. But chancing that we could get what we wanted for $500,000, I guess I'd buy James that jet he's always drooling about and maybe a Hummer. I still just want a PT cruiser, hardwood floors, a big satellite dish, a plasma-screen TV, a library with built-in bookcases, and as many books and DVDs as I can get home.

Oh, and I wanna call Dell and say, "What's the best computer you got?" With the largest hard drive, and all the trimmings.

Threesome: Happiness- John F. Kennedy defined happiness as "The full use of your powers along lines of excellence." What is your definition of happiness? Have you attained it?

To be surrounded by those I love and not be stressed out. No, I haven't achieved it yet. I still work in Government procurement.


» Tuesday, August 26, 2003
DVD Review: Paper Moon

I was a bit disappointed in the quality of the DVD, but perhaps it was deliberate. Maybe the pic always has been slightly grainy to reproduce the look of the 1930s; I would have to find my videotaped copy to see. Peter Bogdanovich isn't an inspired speaker, but his commentary was very interesting. I had no idea how many of the tracking shots were actually done all in one long shot, with no cuts; for a then eight-year-old, Tatum O'Neal's work was thus more impressive. Also he talks about using a wide-angle lens to film all the scenes so the background is as clear as the foreground, the local actors he used in the production (including several who went on to acting careers, the biggest "name" being that of Randy Quaid)--the story of how P.J. Johnson got the role of Imogene is hilarious--and the Kansas and Missouri filming locations and how some of them needed little or no change to look like a 1930s town or street. There are three mini-documentaries about the movie as well, which has not only commentary, but outtakes and little behind-the-scenes "natural" stuff.

A month or two ago, I commented about re-reading the source book for Paper Moon, Joe David Brown's delightful Addie Pray and wishing they had done the other half of the book as a sequel. Well, after hearing Bogdanovich's commentary about what the studio wanted to do with the sequel, I'm glad he passed: they did want to film the Amelia Sass portion of the story as a sequel and entitle it Harvest Moon, but they were planning to cast--gag!--Mae West in the role. I've never been much of a Mae West fan anyway, but after seeing pics of her in Myra Breckenridge, my stomach kinda turns at the idea. For one thing, Amelia was supposed to be a woman wasted with heart disease; West at the time was grossly overweight. And with all the talented elderly women character actors in Hollywood at the time of the sequel--Jeanette Nolan, Irene Ryan, Ellen Corby--it would have been a shame to waste such a good role on West!


» Saturday, August 23, 2003
I will fear no evil
You belong in I Will Fear No Evil. Your body is
your prison, and you would trade everything you
have, even your sex, for a new lease on life.

Which Heinlein Book Should You Have Been A Character In?
brought to you by Quizilla

Well, that's rich. I've never even read the book. It doesn't sound remotely interesting. I was hoping for Have Spacesuit Will Travel or Between Planets.

Besides, my body is annoying, but it's not my prison. That happens during the week...


Diverse Reviews

DVD: Casablanca. This is the new 2-DVD special edition release. Having seen innumerable showings on various channels, I can only say one thing of the quality and sound:


The picture is pristine, sharp, and bright. No scratches, end-of-reel prompts, or wavery sound. It is, in short, gorgeous.

The extras are great, too. You get a 90-minute documentary about Humphrey Bogart, narrate by Lauren Bacall. There are two shorter documentaries, a tribute to the film itself and a conversation with Stephen Bogart and Pia Lindstrom (Ingrid Bergman's daughter). There are a few outtakes and a missing scene; unfortunately neither has sound, although the missing scene is subtitled. Also included on the disks are the Looney Tunes spoof, "Carrotblanca," the original radio show production of the movie, and the first episode of WB's failed Casablanca series.

The movie also has two commentaries. Indeed an embarrassment of riches.

New Restaurant Dish: Spaghetti Warehouse's Shrimp Scampi Ravioli. I don't know if Spaghetti Warehouse is the same as the "Old Spaghetti Warehouse" I've seen mentioned. This place is in a building that is made to resemble an old warehouse. We go there when we have coupons, which we did. The shrimp scampi ravioli sounded delicious.

It was okay. Not worth raving about, but worth eating with the coupon. James thought the sauce was a bit Chef-Boy-Ar-Dee-ish, but I didn't think it was that overly sweet; it was very orange! This came with diced fresh tomatoes and peppers on top of garlic bread. We also had Italian wedding soup, and we got to sit in the trolley. Yes, the trolley. The left half of the dining room has an old trolley--not sure if it's a reproduction or not--in it. The seats have been replaced by tables.

If you want really, really, really good specialty ravioli, go to Olive Garden and try either the seafood ravioli or the three meat ravioli. In fact, go with a friend. One orders one, one orders the other. Then sample the one you don't have. Bellissima!


» Friday, August 22, 2003
Friday Five

1. When was the last time you laughed?

Five minutes ago, reading "Raising Duncan." This strip should be called "Raising Willow." It must be a "terrier thing."

2. Who was the last person you had an argument with?

Hm. James doesn't like to argue. Hell on you when you're Italian. Bandit maybe? He didn't want to go back into his cage last night and kept sidling up my arm. When I looked him in the eye and told him to get in, he burbled back at me.

3. Who was the last person you emailed?

Last night, a gentleman who had contacted me about the Sherman tank photo I had on the web page I have as a tribute to my dad. He told me more about it. I was saying thank you and wondering what it would have been like had Dad lived long enough to see the Internet. I think he would have tried to find his old Army buddies. Sigh. We could have done one heck of a WWII reminisce page together.

4. When was the last time you bathed?

Had a shower last night, as I do every night. Or do you mean like a physical bath? Wow, haven't had one of them in years, probably since I was in high school.

5. What was the last thing you ate?

It's Friday morning at work. AlphaBits, of course.


» Thursday, August 21, 2003
The Yanks Are Coming, Albert Marrin

I found this book in the history section of the library. Just the photos intrigued me, so I brought it home. I have to say I really enjoyed it as an overview of the U.S. participation in World War I. I’ve been looking for a good overview for awhile now, have been recommended several, but have resisted even reading them. As good as the reviewers claim the text is, it always seems to consist of a recitation of political motivations, dates, names, locations, etc. which is, in the end, expected in trying to boil down four years of bloody conflict to a manageable length. But even when the texts try to delve into emotional issues, such as shell shock, the wounded, the filthy conditions of the trenches, they all seem particularly distant and bloodless.

Perhaps this was why this book was shelved with the history books and not in the juvenile section, as it was written as a young adult overview of "the Great War" (the author has apparently done six young adult books about the subject). For something written for a lower age level, I find it a remarkable record of the realities of war. In one chapter, Marrin follows the typical day of a flying squadron and uses diary excerpts from WWI aviators; he addresses the real danger of the planes catching fire and the pilots being "roasted alive" in their aircraft. In another chapter, he describes the construction of the trenches, complete with an understandable diagram, and the daily discomforts of living in them. The paragraphs citing the depredations of the rats is particularly vivid. Battles and wounds, the mud of the roads and the devastation of the landscape are all described unflinchingly.

Along the way Marrin touches on some of the famous "names" of the war: Eddie Rickenbacker (who was prone to airsickness!); John J. Pershing, who had lost his wife and three daughters in a house fire before going overseas and who still mourned their loss during the war; air ace Raoul Lufbery, who met one of the firey deaths described above; Alvin York, whose whole story I'd never known until reading this book (never seen the movie Sergeant York and the history books that I've read that have mentioned him just said simply that he was decorated for heroism saving his fellow soldiers from the enemy without saying specifically what his actions were). Other men who become famous in World War II are seen here earlier in their careers: MacArthur, Patton, Eisenhower, even Hitler.

In short, if you want a detailed history of American participation in WWI, this isn't the book--but if you want a vivid portrait of "how it was" for the average Joe fighting overseas, I recommend this volume highly.


Thursday Threesome: One Trick Pony

Onesome: One- One thing that's being bandied about a bit in the communications press is the ongoing replacement of land line phones with cell phones. Hmmm... Have you ever considered dropping your wired phone and living a wireless existence?

Nope, because we're connected to the internet via DSL. And the internet's a hell of a lot more interesting than a cell phone.

Twosome: Trick- Okay, everyone one should know at least one magic trick. Do you have one? ...or is there one you really, really wish you knew how it worked?

I guess I'm not a super curious person. I like watching magic tricks--one of my favorite TV shows as a kid was Mark Wilson's The Magic Land of Allakazam, and I've read about how they are done and how to do simple ones. Yeah, I wonder how Seigfried and Roy make the tiger vanish, but I don't particularly burn to know.

Threesome: Pony- Admit it: did you want a pony as a kid? Still do? Never liked them? Nah, we know better <g>! ...and did you ever have your picture taken on one?

I've always heard about this "take your picture on a pony" for your birthday...must be a "med-i-gone" thing--Italian kids didn't do that. And you had relatives at your birthday party, not just kids.

Of course I wanted a pony. Almost all little girls want ponies. The idea that you can get on one and gallop away as fast as you can go is enormously appealing. On the other hand, as a little girl I was taken to the pony ride at Roger Williams Park and had to get off the pony because I was afraid of heights. Even that little thing was too high off the ground for me. We had a tiny backyard--where would Daddy put a stable? The field across the street was used as an outdoor gym location for the junior high school, so I couldn't have galloped a pony there. It would have hurt the pony's feet to walk too much on concrete and asphalt. Plus Daddy worked in a factory. We couldn't afford a second car, let alone a pony, shoeing and hay.

And finally, I read about how much work it was to groom, curry, pick out hoofs, and feed a pony, and to clean its tack. Trust me, I'd rather read about horses than care for one.


» Wednesday, August 20, 2003
I received a terrible, terrible e-mail today, a heartfelt plea from a man named Gregory Dennis who had just suffered a grievous family loss. It was absolutely heartrending to know what this poor man had gone through.

Let Gregory tell you, in his own words, what happened to a beloved relative:


That poor, poor woman!!! Imagine passing away because of chronic problems with her fireplace! What an utter tragedy! My, heart...goes out to him...

{Yeah, it was a variation on one of those Nigerian letters...Aunt Linda didn't want to leave her money to her prolifigate relatives so he wants to hide her money in your bank know the drill...}


The Dogfather: A Dog Lover's Mystery

Sigh. Does every mystery writer have to do a Mob-related story? I really love Susan Conant's Holly Winter books: I like the unconventional heroine, I love her malemutes, I like Steve Delaney, I like Kevin and Rita.

I'm Italian, both sides. My dad's family comes from near Rome. Mom's family was from Ischia, off the coast of Naples. I have so much Italian blood that bread is my Friend, the scent of fresh spaghetti sends me into transports of joy, I drool at the thought of proscuitto. But I hate Mafia stories. I don't understand the interest in these peculiar criminals.

I hope now that Ms. Conant has this mania out of her system we'll get an interesting book next time instead of this flirt with gangsters.

P.S. Holly: Find a good home for your cat. If you have to keep him locked up in the study all day while you fuss over the dogs, you're doing him as much disservice as those dog owners you criticize who neglect their dogs.


From the Thursday Threesome folks, I noticed their topic of the week:


Have you noticed that it's August? Has the time been flying for you this year? Or has it been dragging? Does December look like it will arrive tomorrow or sometime next year? We are 8 months into 2003 and we are curious - is everything still going as planned or did it vanish?

Plan? People plan years? They must have money. Mostly all us poor schlepps can do is keep head above water. As for noticing it's August, how could I help not? I walked outside this morning--it's six thirty, still pitch black, and already the air is warm and smothering. Take a deep breath and there is no air. Thank God for the A/C in the car to be able to breathe! The mosquitoes do a wardance around my head. Summer takes forever to go by. All the media does is show you joyful dancing people at the beach--never slogging morning after morning in smoggy air to glaringly lit workplaces. Bleak, bleak summer. Fall is 33 days away and it looks like forever--not to mention we'll have to tolerate that last gasp (and I do mean "gasp") of summer's clawing hold known as Indian summer before we get anywhere near reasonable temperatures.


Hmmm. I take it the Blogspot ad that tops this journal somehow takes into account what I've written? Is this the "spyware" they're always talking about? A few days ago I had links to budgies and today I had two links to Babylon 5 DVDs.


» Tuesday, August 19, 2003

I'm sure we were all relieved to learn that the "Blackout of 2003" was, so far as they know, not caused by terrorism, although al Quaeda has apparently taken credit for it. But the other day I heard a so-called "top official" say that it couldn't have been terrorism, because nothing "blew up." I hate to wake this apparently naïve soul, but there are other forms of terrorism which don't involve explosions. One of the theories is that a hacker caused the problem; it's not impossible to imagine a hacker might also be a terrorist.

While updating my web site last and this week, using three browsers to check my work to be sure of cross-browser compatibility, I've run into an ugly little scheme that advertiser-supported websites are now using to fend off people using ad-blocking software: although your link to a certain page is correct, you get a blank page with network error message that says it cannot reach the ad page that accompanies the site. So you cannot see that page in certain browsers unless you also see their lousy ad.


» Friday, August 15, 2003
The dimwit Channel 11 weatherman is standing out in Centennial Park rejoicing in the fact that it hit 90 degrees today.

Laser that sucker...


Friday Five

1. How much time do you spend online each day?

It can be up to six or seven hours. I frequently need to get online at work: looking up various codes, searching for small business vendors--and looking up the traffic report before I leave at night to know how long I'm going to be stuck in traffic.

2. What is your browser homepage set to?

At home, I like a blank page. At work I have our intranet page.

3. Do you use any instant messaging programs? If so, which one(s)?


4. Where was your first webpage located?

It's still there:

5. How long have you had your current website?

Actually, I had a web page before we were even online. We were on GEnie alone until September of 1996, when we decided to invest in a Mindspring account. However, in May of 1996 I had taken an Internet class at work that included how to construct a simple web page in a text editor. I fell in love with doing web pages and by the time we got on "live" in September I already had a home page and several other pages constructed, including the original Remember WENN one-page and a Babylon 5 links page.

The domain is a couple of years old, ever since Yahoo bought out Simplenet. James gave me the Simplenet sign-up fee as a birthday present several years before that, since the Remember WENN pages were getting so much traffic I was in danger of going over my bandwidth.


» Thursday, August 14, 2003
Saga of the A/C Continues

Quickly stated: the bearings are bad. They're ordering us a new motor. It could be in as soon as tomorrow. If the same repairman comes to install the motor, I hope he remembers to put on some Off! He was in the back yard for a half hour and came out covered with mosquito bites. All I did was walk him in the back yard and then went back inside, probably a total of three minutes, and I got nailed once on my hand.


First the important news: Bandit is apparently feeling better. He was perky when I got home and even tried to attack the Kleenex box last night. :-) His droppings have solidified again (if you wonder why bird owners talk so much about this subject, the state of a bird's "leavings" tell you a lot about his health).

And now: Thursday Threesome

Onesome- Sound loves: What’s your favourite song? Is there a history behind it or do you just like it because it’s great?

"The Impossible Dream." It's just a beautiful song and indicates the type of courage that I would like to have--but sadly don't. Not to mention Richard Kiley is singing it. PBS had a special way, way back in the early 1980s called "Verse Person Singular." One hour of Richard Kiley reading poetry. Oh, how I wish I could have afforded to keep that videotape (but they were $25 each back then and I only used them for time shifting).

Twosome- To revel: What’s your idea of the perfect party tunes? Some jazz to keep things jumpin’? Rock to keep everyone dancing? Or a mix of everything to make everyone happy?

Preferably not loud. I go to parties to talk to my friends, not dance or have my ears blasted out. I like Big Band and New Age best, but almost anything--no rap!--is okay as long as the volume is low enough so I don't have to shout to the person next to me.

Threesome- In a summer night: It’s a mellow summer night, you’re on your own and you’re ready to load the CD player. What’s on your playlist? Remember, there's no one around to say "Ewww, gross!" *grin*

Rupert Holmes. "Oh, you mean that guy who wrote 'The Pina Colada Song'?" No, I mean "that guy" who's written many songs, some for Barbra Streisand, who won two Tony Awards for his Broadway musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood, who also has several more drama and Edgar Awards for Drood and Accomplice and Solitary Confinement, who has a Tony-nominated one-man show starring Frank Gorshin, Say Goodnight Gracie just finishing up a respectable run on Broadway and going on the road, who just has had his first novel, Where the Truth Lies, published, and is working on another, who wrote one of the finest comedy/drama television series ever created, Remember WENN, and, along with all that, is one of the sweetest, nicest, kindest, funniest, and most generous men who ever lived.

THAT Rupert Holmes. :-) (Oh, yeah, and he also wrote "Escape," a.k.a. "The Piña Colada Song.")

Plus their

Topic of the Week

We all have cell phones, most of us do... what is the ring on your phone set to? Something simple? Funny? Downloaded the new Tones from your phone provider site? What makes your phone unique about you?

If you could change something about your phone, or you don't have one - what would you want?

Tones? Downloaded? LOL. Our cell phones will be six years old in December. We got them simply because AirTouch (now Verizon) had an el-cheapo offer and I was at that time driving a 12-year-old Honda Accord that broke down to the tune of $500-$700 every six months, usually smack in the middle of my morning commute. Thank God this was then on surface streets. I actually drove home through the freeway once, although I didn't know it at the time, with my camshaft cracking apart (thank God it broke down the next day instead). So we got the phones mainly so I wouldn't have to cadge phone calls at strange places.

We almost never have them on, unless prearranged, and they don't send pictures, e-mail, texts, or even have ring tones. There's a quickdial programming you can use, but I never sat down long enough with the instruction book to even do that. I don't get this whole cellphone thing anyway. Yah, I've seen the Sprint commercials--and I will admit that every so often one of us sees something so clever or funny while the other isn't there that it would be nice to point the phone at it and send the picture or save it. I'm always mourning one way or the other that I've forgotten my camera.

But the thought of gabbling on the phone all the time is puzzling. Why? Does this hark back to the days of the old housewife joke that all she did was talk on the phone all day, tying up the party line? (There's an entire Our Miss Brooks radio show written around this habit.) I'd say the majority of people I do see gabbing on the phone in all situations--cars, store aisles, parking lots, waiting rooms, restaurants, even museums--are women, but it's a very small majority; men seem to be almost equally enchanted by this electronic leech.

As an electronic distraction, I much prefer my PDA, which I can type on, leave memos and set alarms, read e-books.

And I'm not using it while hurtling down the freeway at 75 m.p.h. either.


» Wednesday, August 13, 2003
One of Those Days...Again

Our A/C is at least 20 years old. Last year it conked out and was resurrected by liberal applications of oil and the tender loving care of the R.S. Andrews tech.

Last Friday morning it didn't seem to have gotten as cool as it was supposed to during the night--I woke up to 73 degrees rather than 71--and I overrode the programmable thermostat to make sure cold air was coming out of the vents. It was fine and went on behaving fine.

Somewhere last night--before Room by Room of course--both James and I felt a little warm. He checked the vent in the den and although the unit was working, the flow of air was minimal and it was making a louder noise than usual. He took a flashlight and went out to the back yard to discover the compressor still going but the fan stopped.

We turned off the unit and he made sure there was no foreign matter inside, then he turned the hose on the unit. After rinsing it down the fan started to spin again, not at as high an RPM as it should be and making an almost rattling noise.

We have a service contract with Andrews, so I called up their emergency line. The tech told us we should probably turn off the unit, but we had to keep it going: it was hellishly humid out and neither of us can breathe properly with air like that. It actually worked fine during the night and it was at the proper temp this morning.

The emergency tech told me they would try to send someone out today due to our respiratory problems, but when I called in this morning sure enough there were no openings today. The woman there did make me an appointment for tomorrow morning, however.

Okay, the angle on this is that neither of us cares--much--if the A/C goes out. The service contract means it will be fixed eventually and we'd just have to swelter through it.

Willow and Bandit are another matter. Right now Wil is pretty safe. It's rained all morning, so the summer sun that usually comes in the kitchen window is past and it won't get much warmer in the kitchen, which is on a slab and should keep Little Miss cool. Bandit, on the other hand, now sleeps upstairs, which would turn into a smothery, suffering mess if the A/C conked out. He's been up there since he got sick last February; the air there seems to be better for him.

He's also not feeling well, I found out last night. He'd only eaten minimally of his seed, although he devoured a sprig of millet just before bed, which means he still has an appetite, but his droppings were watery and he's droopy and when let out, immediately hightails it for my shoulder to snuggle against my neck, which is a bad sign. He hasn't been breathing well since last year, so you can see my problem with leaving him in a house where the A/C might drop out any minute. On the other hand, if the A/C stays on, it's certainly better for him than the muggy, dirty summer air.

I ended up (a) running to Petsmart before I went to work to buy him fresh seed (as fresh as the manufacturers say packaged seed is, I've had several bags develop spores; I didn't see any in Bandit's newest package of seed, but that doesn't mean they're not there, which could be contributing to his ill health) and (b) bringing him downstairs to the den where he used to stay and where he is at night. I also brought the small air cleaner from our bedroom down and set that up. It's underpowered for the den and will not recycle the air as much as it should, but it's better than nothing. The den will stay cooler than upstairs with both ceiling fans going and should the A/C go out he should be able to breathe okay.

At least I hope so. He seemed a bit perkier this morning, and had some semi-solid droppings, but he still wanted to "'nuggle" the few minutes I let him out. Sigh.


» Tuesday, August 12, 2003
Which Fantasy/SF Character Are You?

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?If you can't see the image, I'm Princess Leia from Star Wars.

Actually, I took the test a second time. Several of the questions on the test say "I try..." to do a certain thing. I answered them the first time in what I though was the positive thing that I should be doing and that I want to be doing. However, we're not all perfect. The second time I answered a few questions by how I actually do act occasionally rather than how I want to act.

I turned out to be Inigo Montoya (which I find very funny because I'm probably the only person in the world who doesn't adore The Princess Bride, but when I do watch it, Inigo is my favorite character...).


School started yesterday--I still can't get used to school starting in August. At home it was always the Wednesday after Labor Day; of course school gets out in May here, not the third week of June as I was used to. Of course I always wished we had a winter holiday instead of a summer one--I even wrote a short poem about it when I was in junior high:

"You know what would fill me with elation?
To have--no heat, no frustration--
A winter vacation!
So here's to the school board, vehimently wishing
For school in summer--we'd really be listening,
As long as you put in air conditioning!"

Even back then I preferred winter to summer. :-)

The first day of school means more traffic, but I didn't find it too bad yesterday. I did raise my eyebrows at the number of police patrol cars out to catch speeding mummies and daddies, though--it looked like Labor Day weekend out there.

Anyway, the school prep the stores have been doing has filled me with bemusement. Several stores had lists of local schools, and what each grade needed for the first day. Wow, we got to go in the first day, get acquainted with the teacher(s) and got a "want list" from them, the inevitable sheet of ditto paper. Too, the lists for middle school and up don't faze me so much, but I'm continually surprised by seeing supply lists for elementary school kids. I went to school on the poor-to-middle-class side of town--we never had a lot of money--and elementary school students never had to buy supplies unless they wanted something special (a Batman pencil box, something like that). All pens, pencils, paper, notebooks, art supplies, etc., were supplied by the school. We spend thousands of dollars per pupil per year, can afford to have computers in school, but can't afford a box of 8 Crayolas? Wild.

When I saw the request that each child have a box of tissue, it made me smile, but I do remember back in the "dark ages" all kids were at least asked to have a handkerchief. This doesn't mean everyone used them--there were always the obligatory kids wiping their nose on their shirtsleeve--but at least we were supposed to. I usually had Kleenex ferreted away somewhere on my body, due to my allergies.

The thing that made both James and I goggle was the request that girls have a bottle of antibacterial hand cleanser and boys a box of baby wipes. Don't they have bathrooms in school? When your hands get dirty you just go to the lav and wash them, don't you?


» Monday, August 11, 2003
LodesTone Catalog -- Links

Gosh, I had no idea my Remember WENN page was listed here. I mean, these folks have worked with Norman

I've been a Corwin fan since the 1970s, when PBS recreated his Christmas radio play in verse, The Plot to Overthrow Christmas, a half-hour which was the actual production and a half-hour which was behind-the-scenes preparation for the show and an exhibition of sound effects. As I read more about old-time radio, Corwin's name came up frequently. I purchased his classic On a Note of Triumph celebrating the end of the second World War, and then some kind soul gave me the set of 13 by Corwin, stories which ranged from the versical Undecided Molecule to the somber Cromer to the whimsical My Client Curley, and my favorite, the sweetly romantic El Capitan and the Corporal, which I could imagine being performed by Kevin O'Rourke and Amanda Naughton.

If you're still wondering just who the heck Mr. Corwin is, here are some links:

Norman Corwin Bio

A Whimsical Tribute by Larry Gelbart

J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5) on Corwin

"Echoes from a Golden Time"

Transom Interview of Corwin, 2001

Crazy Dog Audio Theatre Interview of Corwin, March 2003

Script/Corwin's Notes to "The Plot to Overthrow Christmas"


» Friday, August 08, 2003
Re-reading Favorite Books

Even with the schlock that gets published, there are always new books to rejoice in.

Which of course is a pain sometimes because, here, faced with a great pile a'waiting, you find you're also longing to go back and re-read the old beloved ones as well and there's never time enough for that, either, as there never seems to be time enough to read the new ones.

While I was sick I did go back and read Mary Stewart's The Crystal Cave and The Hollow Hills. I initially bought Crystal to meet the requirements of the Doubleday Bargain Book Club and fell head over heels in love with Stewart's interpretation of the Arthurian Merlin legends. I never liked all that knights-and-ladies "thees-thous-and-thys" Camelot type material and even Disney's more humorous version of The Sword in the Stone left me cold. After reading Stewart, it wasn't that I wasn't interested any longer, but nothing could live up to her story. Her Merlin is so real to me that anyone else's verson, from T.H. White's to Barron's newest books about young Merlin, almost irritate me. Their Merlin seems goofy or otherworldly or dramatically mystical rather than this calm, competent man who is always a real human being with magical gifts and not some addled magician. (I can't tell you how much the Merlin of the movie Excalibur, with all the snakes around, creeped me out, as much as I love Nicol Williamson.)

Two months or so back when I wasn't feeling well, I also zipped through Addie Pray and Red Sky at Morning; I was reminded of this while noting that Paper Moon is coming out on DVD next week. While there are points in the story they share where Addie beats Moon all hollow, the movie is nevertheless an excellent version of the book and I always wished the promised sequel "doing the rest of the story" had come to pass. I always wondered who they would have gotten to play Major Lee, Amelia Sass, and Mayflower Goldsborough.

I only saw the film version of Red Sky once; it seemed okay, although the book was so rich it was hard for any movie to capture it, especially with 70s sensibilities.

Anyway, I'm nattering on about all this because last night for no reason I can think of I picked up another favorite of mine and started re-reading, a young adult novel called Cute is Not a Compliment. The author is Peter Filichia, the theatre critic and columnist for, and is the story of Jim Carpenter, a high-school student interested in the theatre (rather than useful stuff like computers, to the chagrin of his blue-collar father), who finally gets his dream girlfriend and also a job teaching acting to a fellow student the same year his high school is up for the top awards in a local student drama competition. I bought the book initially because I was astonished that it was written by a guy writing about a guy who actually had an intelligent ambition in life rather than being your usual male Neanderthal with interests only in sports, cars and getting laid. Jim is also short, which I immediately sympathized with, having spent a lifetime complaining about not being able to reach things on closet shelves and not looking good in clothing even when I was at an ideal weight.

Re-reading it I also love the way that Jim is so naturally flawed even as he criticizes other people for doing things like interrupting him or having bad "lapse time": he hates being judged by his shortness, yet idealizes the tall gorgeous blonde who becomes his girlfriend and initially dismisses the student he's tutoring as not being girlfriend quality, because, although she's got nice green eyes, halfway decent manners, and good "lapse time," she's overweight and has to diet. Needless to say, Jim's little prejudices get a workout during the book.

I also loved the theatre competition story itself as well as the joy the protagonists take in acting and participating. Each time I've been to a stage production it's been, to use that overworked term, a "magical experience." I'd love to indulge in that type of magic a lot more.

Anyway, I did a search on Filichia and found a nice archive of his columns, all good reading, including one on one of the nicest people in the world, Carolee Carmello.

Here's Filichia's comments about one of my favorites, 1776

And also what he had to say about Rupert Holmes's delightful stage story about George Burns in his A-Z listing of the best of the 2002-2003 theatre season:

"S" is for Say Goodnight, Gracie, which got a Tony nomination as Best Play even though its star and motor, Frank Gorshin, couldn't crack the Best Actor list. Too bad, for he does manage the ultimate achievement of an actor impersonating a well-known celebrity: He makes you forget that you aren't really watching George Burns.


Friday Five

1. What's the last place you traveled to, outside your own home state/country?

New England and New York. I haven't been out of the country (to Canada) in about 25 years.

2. What's the most bizarre/unusual thing that's ever happened to you while traveling?

While traveling? Nothing bizarre that I remember. I do recall that the first time we drove cross country, my dad was determined he would not burn out the engine of his car the way he had with his brand-new Kaiser back in the 1950s coming home from Florida. So he was going to do regular oil changes on the trip and we had stopped in Nebraska to get that done. The jerk who did the job didn't fasten the drain plug on properly, it fell off, and we had to have our oil replenished and a new plug bought at the very next exit.

The most bizarre thing that every happened to me occurred a few miles from home--at Rocky Point Amusement Park in Warwick, RI. This was sometime in the late 1960s. Someone at the park had gotten the bright idea to add some animals to the park as a "petting zoo" attraction. The first two animals were a donkey and, why I don't know, as it doesn't strike me as being petting zoo material, a camel. The Sunday we visited there, the donkey was grazing next to the fence, which was low enough that I could get my arm over it to pet him.

Was the camel jealous? Attracted by my shirt color? Dunno, but he walked up and grabbed me by the upper part of my left arm. I let out a scream and my dad ran forward and began hitting his jaw and face to get him to let me go. The pressure of his teeth was very painful and my screams drew one of the park employees, who got the camel to let me go. His teeth never broke the skin, but my arm was all swollen and bruised with very clear teeth marks on both sides. I was rushed to the emergency room and treated, and I had the marks from the camel's upper teeth on the inside of my left arm for a good ten to fifteen years before they finally faded away completely.

3. If you could take off to anywhere, money and time being no object, where would you go?

Back to New England. Or Old England for that matter--I've always wanted to see Great Britain. Runner up: a cruise to Alaska or a trip to Australia (during our summer which would be their winter; I don't want to go anywhere in the summer anymore).

4. Do you prefer traveling by plane, train or car?

Car. I've been a pushover for road trips since I was knee high to...well, you know the drill. I goggle at the parents that have video and DVD players in the car to keep the kids busy; I always thought it was the most fun just looking out to see what was on the road because it was so different from at home. Maybe it's different traveling now because there are national chain stores and hotels everywhere and all the areas look alike? I remember discovering all the different regional restaurants and their specialties. For instance, out west cinnamon toast was very popular and I ordered as much of it as I could. Now everyone just stops at McDonald's or places like that.

Trains are neat, but there's not much train service around here. In Atlanta, there's one train going north a day, and one train going south. Ho hum. We've taken the commuter train the last two times we went to Boston. It's fun, if not exactly scenic! Would love to do a scenic railway ride someday.

5. What's the next place on your list to visit?

I really, really would like to spend a few days in New York rather than a few hours. I've heard so much about the Museum of Natural History and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine; I'd love to see the Hotel Pennsylvania now that they've fixed it (when I used to go there it was still the Statler-Hilton) and show James the Macy's flagship store and where Gimbels used to be and go to the Museum of Broadcasting and Teddy Roosevelt's birthplace and the Tenement Museum. Oh, and I've never been to the Strand Bookstore, although I've heard so much about it.

We talked about this when we were in NYC to see Say Goodnight Gracie and figure we just need to get one of those New York package deals, or get a cheap Air Tran flight and find a good hotel deal on Travelocity or Expedia. There's a commuter train from Newark directly into the city now.


» Thursday, August 07, 2003
Went to a farewell luncheon for a co-worker this afternoon, seafood place I'd never eaten at, McCormick and Schmick off Ashford-Dunwoody Road. I had baby salad greens and an appetizer of steamed clams cooked in butter and white wine for lunch.

I find it ironic that I spent a week in New England and never did get anywhere for steamers, yet end up eating them when I get back to Georgia...


One of Those Days

Sigh. I occasionally have screaming nightmares and last night was one of those times. It was a bad one last night--I woke up with my heart hammering and had screamed so hard my throat was sore and I had to go get more water when I collected myself. What scared me most was the headache I was left with; I usually only get this one at work.

I got back to sleep but woke up with the headache, so took two extra-strength Tylenol and went back to bed for 20 minutes. When I did get up I thought I was doing so well; just put all my stuff together and was off, only going to be a bit late--then found out about five minutes out I'd left my badge behind. Ten more minutes lost, so I really was late then.

Seems what sleep I did get didn't do me much good. I feel very depressed and extraordinarily sleepy, not to mention a bit queasy. I'm longing for a nice futon to curl up on.


Thursday Threesome

Onesome: Two- Hey, we did 'threes' last week; let's try 'twos' this week. When you think of pairs, what comes to mind? ...and 'Bartletts' is the only wrong answer <g>!

Well, how about Bosc, then? <g> Pairs: well, horse and carriage, Astaire and Rogers, Tracy and Hepburn, salt and pepper...oh, and a series from the 1970s (?) called The Dumplings with James Coco and Geraldine Brooks. It was about a chubby couple (I think he was a chef) still madly in love with each other and had a theme song called "Good Things Come in Pairs": "He and she, you and me, a sweet blend of milk and honey. Always together, we'll go through life discovering good things come in pairs."

Twosome: Day- Which day of the week do you live for? Is it getting back to work on Monday (right!) or maybe Friday, so you're gone! One of the weekend days? Which day works for you?

Saturday! Sleeping late, time with budgie, maybe something to do, maybe just for working on the website, and chat with Remember WENN friends at night; a nice sensible rising/abed schedule altogether (but if I had my way I'd always get up at nine and go to bed at one).

Threesome: Sale- Are you one of those people who will wait until something is on sale before you buy it? ...even if it's like forever? ...or do you just haul on down to the store whenever the urge hits? Hmmm? Planner, immediate or impulse? What type of buyer are you?

It depends on how badly I need it. If the refrigerator dies, I'm sure not going to wait for a sale. On the other hand, we're eventually going to need a television. We're hoping the one we have will last long enough for the price on HDTV to go down a bit more. Maybe a nice post-Thanksgiving sale?

And the other discussion question:

We wanna know - what movie can you bat the lines out faster then the actors? What are your favorite lines from a movie? Come on - this is your chance to show off your acting skills!

It would take me forever to list all the lines I can bat out faster than the actors. There are some movies we end up just trading lines from at odd times, like taking showers at night or while on errands: we were doing 1776 last night. Then there's Big Jake, A Christmas Story, Spaceballs, Auntie Mame, Jurassic Park, TV series like Good Neighbors and Remember WENN, etc. Me, I can also do whole bits from favorite Get Smart and M*A*S*H episodes, The Homecoming, Rankin-Bass specials, etc.

Favorite lines from movies? How many pages have we got? One of the silliest but the one that can make me laugh the most is "Comb the desert" from Spaceballs. Mame's "Live, live, live, life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death from Auntie Mame (not to mention "Agnes! What happened?" "I lived!"). From Jurassic Park, usually said when we get home from errands: "Well, here we are back in the truck." "At least we're not in the tree."

For prime lines, though, just replay the entire series of Remember WENN. No finer quotes anywhere.


» Wednesday, August 06, 2003
"Wartime Disney" and Other Random "House of Mouse" Items...

While rooting around on the web today found this item about the "Wartime Disney" Treasures release (scheduled for early December 2003):

"Walt Disney On The Front Lines documents the training, propaganda and educational films Walt created over the years, as well as his contributions to the war effort. There are 32 shorts and films in this set."

According to another site, which claims the info came right from the horse's mouth (aka Buena Vista distribution), "Der Fuehrer's Face" is included, along with "Education for Death," the animated Disney feature about the education of a Nazi child, which I understand is very disturbing.

Also hunted about for some info on the film I mentioned in yesterday's entry, The Horse Without a Head, which Disney did release to video several years back. It was only shown theatrically in Europe, so many people may not remember it from the Wonderful World of Color series. It's the story of five French slum children whose only toy is a full-size Victorian-type hobbyhorse (instead of having rockers, it has metal wheels). Found decapitated in the basement of a bombed out villa (the original story takes place after World War II–I have the book, which is by Paul Berna), the horse provides the only source of amusement for these kids–until bank robbery booty is hidden in the horse's body and it's taken by the thieves. The film is stolen, IMHO, by Pamela Franklin as Marion, "the girl with the dogs." Marion loves dogs and takes injured strays home, treats them, then finds them homes, but not before she teaches them to always respond to her whistle. Needless to say, Marion's canine crew comes in handy when the kids go searching for their beloved horse. Jean-Pierre Aumont plays a police inspector with a twinkle in his eye.

Another co-star of this movie is Vincent Winter, a Disney regular in several movies, including Almost Angels and The Three Lives of Thomasina. I found out just recently that Winter died a few years ago, at the relatively young age of fifty. :-(

Which of course brings me to another Disney film that ought to be on DVD: why have they released Snowball Express, f'heaven's sake, and not stuff like Thomasina, with Patrick McGoohan in his second most memorable role for Disney, the dour Scots vet Andrew McDhui. McGoohan's tour-de-force for Disney, The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh, should also be out in DVD. I can't tell you how many websites I've tripped over where the author lovingly remembers the masked face of the Scarecrow or the words of the rousing Scarecrow theme song ("Scarecrow, scarecrow, the soldiers of the king feared his name...").

And we don't want the theatrically edited movie, Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow, either, but the full version as it appeared on television!

One of my own Disney wants probably isn't remembered by many people--no, I'm not going to harp about Gallegher again; I'll save that for another time, if I haven't talked about him enough already on his own web page. It's a Civil War-era movie called High Flying Spy with Stuart Whitman and Darren McGavin as rival balloon ascensionists and Vincent Van Patten as the inevitable kid that gets involved with them. This was a smart period piece and Whitman's character, Thaddeus Lowe, was an actual person who used balloons as spy devices during the Civil War as Spy details. Lowe later moved to California and both the Lowe Observatory and Mount Lowe are named after him. (I can't remember where I read it recently, but Lowe did something later in his career which helped World War I aviators, although he died in 1913, before the war even started.)

(This was the one case where I remember the book being more disappointing than the movie. I managed to find the source book, High Spy, to this film at the library and was bored to tears by it.)

Incidentally, Thaddeus Lowe's granddaughter Frances Lowe also figures in one of my favorite movies, just recently re-released on DVD in a special edition, The Right Stuff. Miss Lowe, who went up in her grandfather's balloons from childhood, was later known as "Pancho" Barnes.


» Tuesday, August 05, 2003
More Recent Reads:

The Four-Story Mistake and Spiderweb for Two: These are two of the four Melendy family books by Elizabeth Enright, more children's books that I never read "way back when" because I preferred animal stories. I'm trying to get the other two from the library: they were supposedly at the Central Library when I went there Friday but were not on the shelf I wouldn't be surprised if one or both were missing; libraries don't seem to keep track of "old" books anymore. Anyway, it was fun to read about the wartime adventures of the children, with no preaching about issues, just plain old-fashioned kid stuff. Kids in these books seem to do such fun stuff: exploring the countryside, putting on plays, doing creative projects.

Miss Nina Barrow: This is actually a serial story in St. Nicholas that I finished this morning, a Victorian tale about a orphan child who has been spoiled rotten by her indulgent grandmother and how a gentle cousin tries to break her of her selfishness. Part of Nina's reformation comes from a visit to English cousins who are rich but unspoiled. Nina fits into the latter of two categories of Victorian children's books. The first is that of the desperately poor child, who by perserverance mixed liberally with a great deal of luck, becomes rich and comfortable at last, or at least comfortably well off. The second category is like that of the family in Alcott's An Old-Fashioned Girl, obscenely rich and discontented people who become happy and content by losing all their money and learning to work. Nina's salvation comes in the last chapter of the book, though, after we've been entertained by her bratty ways for an entire book.


Waiting for DVDs...

Yet another discussion has sprung up in the Remember WENN newsgroup about writing to American Movie Classics, this time about perhaps releasing the series on DVD, since it seems all hope for a finale is lost. Many of us have the series on video, others forgot to tape it or have only partial collections.

I'm one of the former, but am seeing the need for those DVDs more every day. After spending the morning ill, I came downstairs this afternoon to rest on the sofa. Watched Bob Hope's My Favorite Brunette, then, remembering a favorite video, sat down to watch a special called Life Goes to War: Hollywood and the Homefront, which is a marvelous overview of the World War II era narrated by Johnny Carson, with bits of newsreels, films, training film bloopers, scenes of movie stars at the canteens and on war bond drives, footage of ordinary people doing their bit. The tape was already compromised by having been taped off a UHF station that was slightly snowy; now after 20 years it is still viewable, but there are a couple of signs of deterioration. My copy of Disney's The Horse Without a Head, which proceeds this special and which was actually taped a few years later, is in worse shape due to our bad cable reception at the time I recorded it. Since this is one of my favorite films, I'm worried about losing it completely.

Certainly wish things like Horse and this Life special were on DVD. They are much too precious to lose.

And so is Remember WENN, the best series to come out of the 1990s, and one of the best television comedies of all time.

(One bright note: Part of Life Goes to War is a segment devoted to the Walt Disney studios contribution to the war effort: Disney's goodwill trip to South America, the film Saludos Amigos, clips of various Disney wartime cartoons and the film Victory Through Air Power, which hasn't been seen since the 1940s. This year Disney will be releasing a new package of "Disney Treasures" which is to include a DVD called "Wartime Disney" which will include Victory Through Air Power and other WWII films [presumably the infamous "Der Fuerher's Face," too, and perhaps "The New Spirit," in which Donald Duck encourages people to pay their income taxes]. That will be a welcome acquisition here!)


» Monday, August 04, 2003
Presumably, She's Next...

This lady sounds like a winner:

"Woman arrested after locking daughter in trunk of car"

"Accused was visiting husband in prison"

The child was three years old and unhurt after being in the trunk for 40 minutes.


» Friday, August 01, 2003
Friday Five

1. What time do you wake up on weekday mornings?

Six o'bloody clock. This is why my favorite line from M*A*S*H is Hawkeye's "No wonder they shoot people at sunrise. Who wants to live at six in the morning?"

2. Do you sleep in on the weekends? How late?

Ten o'clock. Of course we usually go to bed between 2 and 3 a.m. on Fridays.

3. Aside from waking up, what is the first thing you do in the morning?

The first thing? Probably pull the Breathe-Right strip off my nose and toss it into the basket.

[9:48 p.m.: Actually, I was mistaken. The first thing I do is shut that wretched alarm clock off!]

4. How long does it take to get ready for your day?

On weekdays? I have to leave at 6:20. (The alarm clock is 5 minutes fast, but I leave by a clock that's correct. Your math problem for today is...)

5. When possible, what is your favorite place to go for breakfast?

Breakfast bar at Golden Corral.