Monday, November 29, 2010

Movie Monday: Bells Will Be Ringin' Part 2

As Thanksgiving draws to a close, do you find yourself dreading the weeks of dark chill before Christmas? Want to keep the fun alive? Then you might want to consider popping a movie or two into the ol' VHS (or, you know, stream it on Netflix). Here are a few more worthy holiday movies to choose from:

Why it's good: Really, the only Thanksgiving movie out there. And who can go wrong with two kings of comedy?

Why it's good: When you put a grown man in an elf suit, good things happen.

Why it's good: Ok, not technically a holiday movie, but the hostages were attending a Christmas party...and sometimes you just want to watch things blow up.

Why it's good: This proves dysfunction can be heartwarming.

Why it's good: A perfect compromise for holiday fanatics and humbugs who find joy in a drunk Santa.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Workshop: Oh, Ode-ee oh!

Since this is the time of year to reflect on what we're thankful for, I thought, what better time than now to write some odes? The ode is a form as ancient as the Greek myths, used to exalt an extraordinary person or event. It was originally put to music and had a regular rhyme scheme:


Keats wrote the most famous set of odes, which together are known as the Five Great Odes of 1819 and include "Ode to a Nightingale" and "Ode on a Grecian Urn." These more traditional odes are intellectual and ruminative in tone. If that's your style, try writing one using the rhyme scheme above.

Or, if you prefer flights of fancy and joyful praise, you might want to refer to Pablo Neruda's wonderful odes for inspiration. He turned the ode on its head by writing in free-verse about such mundane things as ironing, artichokes, and the smell of wood. So if you're really in love with your Snuggie, or you would like to expound on the wonders of mashed potatoes, this is definitely the way to go.

Happy writing, friends, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

I'm Thankful for...

home ownership! Here's a sneak peek outside:

And inside:

More details to follow...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Regional Pride

Northern Californians, both natives and transplants, take note: a fabulous new publication is now available to celebrate the place we call home. California Northern: A New Regionalism is a beautiful magazine full of long-form journalism, memoir, and creative writing with a focus on our region's particular concerns and culture. The first volume includes a history of the eucalyptus, an examination of Jerry Brown's political past, and a "mythology" about Beat-era poet Nestor Groome.

The second issue, which includes poetry, photography, a piece on water issues, and another on borders, promises to be just as substantive. Be sure to attend their release party at the Avid Reader in Sacramento on December 9th to hear a preview from contributors and purchase a copy. Or, if the rainy winter weather keeps you indoors, you can buy a subscription from their site for only $11. And if you live in Northern California, consider submitting your work for future issues. Visit their submissions page for all the details.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

On Princesses

I learned some lessons about princesses recently. For instance, they're easy to fall in love with. We saw our princess (scientific name: Tibuchina urvilleana) on a day trip to Half Moon Bay. She was fascinating and exotic and absolutely beautiful. We had to have her. The gentleman that sold her to us assured us that she needed moderate watering and loved full sun. Perfect, we thought, for our sunny little piece of farm.
Pretty, pretty princess

But we should have known better. Princesses are, after all, delicate beings. Remember that beautiful girl who was terribly bruised by a single pea in her bed? Our princess was the same. Sun curled and scorched her fine purple petals, and she never seemed to have enough water. Even now, when the mornings bring a blanket of fog to the orchards and fields around the house, she suffers, parched. Apparently, full sun and moderate water mean different things on the Pacific coast.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Movie Monday: Bells Will Be Ringin'

Can you believe that there are people out there who have never seen A Christmas Story? I met one recently. She mistakenly thought we were discussing a movie version of the Nativity. That is, until mention of the leg lamp was made.

Perhaps it was this conversation--or maybe it's just because it's chilly out and I'm already bundling up in sweaters and slipper socks--but I feel like the holidays have come early. So, to celebrate, I've decided to compile a list of must-see (or must-see-again) holiday movies (of the mostly irreverent variety). Enjoy, boys and girls.

Why it's good: Any movie that gets played for a full 24 hours during Christmas has to be at the top of the list.

Why it's good: Randy Quaid is funny before he actually goes crazy, and Clark Griswold tells it like it is: Hallelujah! Holy ****! Where's the Tylenol?

Why it's good: Well, Bill Murray, for starters. Who doesn't want to watch him slowly lose it as he is visited by three weirdo ghosts?

Why it's good: The perfect mash-up of fright and cheer...and you gotta love a holiday movie with a black light.

Why it's good: My mom will be happy to see this here...and anyone my age will understand. Macaulay is, essentially, Ralphie Redux.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Weekend on the Farm

Mt. Diablo and the Delta

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Movie Monday: I've Been Watching...

viewing partner: solo
stars: **1/2
notes: A strange mash-up of fifties noir and seventies kitsch. Not Altman's best.

viewing partner: Isaac
stars: ****
notes: Ingredients for a great comedy: Kristen Bell and Aldous Snow--check. Kenneth from 30 Rock--check. Full frontal male nudity--check. A musical about Dracula--check. That's all, folks.

viewing partner: Isaac
stars: **
notes: This could have been so much better as a moody period piece, but it suffers from Hornby's bro-lit touch.

viewing partner: Isaac, George (no relation to Clooney)
stars: ***
notes: What can I say that the many sterile hotel rooms (or George's empty apartment, for that matter) do not already?

viewing partner: Isaac
stars: ****1/2
notes: Surprisingly, a Netflix recommendation does not disappoint. We laughed, our hearts were warmed, and we did not once think of Twilight.