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December 25th, 2013

Okay, Now what?

Today was a company day off. They give us two days for Turkey, Jesus and Janus. My plan for a while was The Big Shed Project.

It was amended a little because mornings have been cold, but afternoons have been warm. So this morning I hit the matinée showing of Frozen in 3D, which has been getting rave reviews.

It started out charming, with some enjoyable music, but soon degenerated into a very violent plot with forgettable songs and a frenetic score to match the heart-stopping action.

Idina Menzel, who was the green witch in Broadway's Wicked played the ice princess. This is an actress with a gorgeous singing voice, but they kept her to mostly dialog and much of it shouting. OTOH,  Kristen Bell plays the younger princess and sings quite a bit, including a duet with Prince Hans, voiced by Santino Fontana. I can find no evidence of either of them singing professionally before. They did well, but the songs didn't require much range.

Olaf the snowman is ridiculous, and a great attraction for the kiddies, but I would not have brought a child to this very violent movie.

As is my habit, I stayed through the 10 minutes of credits for the Easter egg. It was there, but it was a throw-away. However, there is a disclaimer cleverly hidden in the credits toward the end which was worth the wait.

Speaking of movies, my biggest disappointments this week are that two movies which I otherwise would have loved to see are starring men who both do not fit the part, and can't act. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was a childhood favorite book, and the movie starring Danny Kaye was pretty good. It would be spectacular re-made with modern technology and a Mitty who was of Kaye's calibre. But Ben Stiller? Gag me. And Saving Mr. Banks would have been fun if someone with enough acting chops to make us believe he is Walt Disney was playing opposite the extraordinary Emma Thompson. But Tom Hanks? Save me.
By the time the film was done, it was in the 60s outside so instead of catching The Hobbit 2: Spare The Air Day, I went to The Milk Pail and spent about $65 on cheeses. And that's even though they didn't have my favorite French sheep cheese. Some cheeses for snacking, some for fondue.

Then home, to do The Shed Project™.

This has been on the drawing board since I moved in. The house has a storage shed out at the end of the driveway. The previous owner had shelves installed left, right and back wall. The shelves on the right were too deep to get the door open wide enough - you had to shove stuff inside, close the door and then move the stuff where you wanted it. The shelves at the back made the space too short for my bike. And they were too close together vertically to hold any of my stuff.

So the Project was:
- Completely empty the shed
- Remove all the shelves on the left and back and one from the left and stack them off to the side
- Knock off all the shelf holders from those (this needed my heavy plumber's wrench. Well, a hammer really but I was too lazy to get it out of the closet)
- Put the bike in facing the door
- Stack all the tubs of stuff against the back wall
- Put all the camping gear on the left-hand shelves
- Add musical instruments, music stands, the big cooler and the microwave

It took about 2 hours. But now it's done, yay!

Parked myself in front of the TV and played the currently recording Tivo of the Hawaii Bowl. Boise State got clobbered early by the Beavers, but managed to raise their score to something less embarrassing at the end. I think Oregon State's coach gave them some help at the end to try to make a game of it.

Also watched some of The Long Island Medium marathon. One of the best cold readers on the planet, but she's strident and I can only take so much of her.

Dinner was duck soup. Yes, I know it is Marxist. But I had in the freezer taking up too much space the ribcage and other assorted bones from the duck I roasted the weekend I moved in. Threw those into a pot, covered with water, added a little salt, a tablespoon of crushed garlic, a couple of twists from the pepper mill, some bay leaves and a few leaves from my Kaffir lime tree. Then a tablespoon each of split peas and barley, and two of dried lima beans. Simmered for 90 minutes. The whole house smelled ducky. And it was yummy. Could have used more salt and barley. After two bowls of it, there is enough left for another meal.

After I write this I am running a bath in the lovely deep "garden style" tub because I am sore all over from the shed project.

Plans for tomorrow:
Dishwasher
RMA a couple of Amazon purchases
See another movie

Plan A To Be Continued

The first half of Plan A was to see American Hustle at 11:50 at the AMC, which is pretty close to home. Matinee senior price was $7. The second half was to see The Hobbit in IMAX at 2:20. But with 20 minutes of trailers, 138 minutes later was too late to do the second half, and the place was packed, so I went home. Met my next door neighbor in #6, she said she was widowed 3 years ago, she had company which saved me from a real conversation. She has a pretty thick accent, I think Philippines.

Was hungry, but it was too early for a meal. I made popcorn, but that wasn't enough so I cut up more sourdough batard and had a triangle of goat brie with that, as Domino stood on my lap trying to intercept the cheese as I spread it on the bread-ettes. I gave her a few fingertips worth.

Tivo had one episode of Restaurant Stakeout, which was another miracle success. This time Willy totally failed with most of the staff, and what finally saved the place was the owner doubling the staff, and the chef providing cheat sheets to the dumb as rocks android wait staff for the daily specials.

Elementary stepped into the future, I am thankful they resisted the pressure to make it a Christmas tree festooned episode. Instead they promoted the Christmas spirit by [Spoiler (click to open)] nailing the head of a Holocaust victims' fund for triple murder, money laundering and drug dealing.

Since I had time and a decent kitchen, dinner was a minor production number. Put some egg noodles (twisty) on the boil, sauteed two slices of onion and a tablespoon of crushed garlic in corn oil, added 1/4 lb of ground beef, a dash of sage and a dash of ginger, and when it was almost cooked poured in a few shots of Canadian whiskey.

Drained the noodles and put them on a plate, dumped the ground beef on top. Should have used a bowl, it got cold quickly. Domino loved the little bits of beef I gave her.

Afterward she got her Fancy Feast and I got my Breyers Thin Mint ice cream.

Watching high school football, a local school called De La Salle is very good. There are some college teams they could hold their own against.

Made a poor man's egg cream. Love my SodaStream because now I always have seltzer handy. Just fill a glass halfway with seltzer, top it off with chocolate milk. They make lactose free 2% now. Yummy.

Plans for tomorrow:
Post office, buy a lot of stamps and apply them to envelopes with calendars in them.
Maybe see The Hobbit, but not in IMAX.
Visit the office, request a larger garbage bin.

American Hustle

Mostly reprinting here what I said on FB:

Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence in dueling cleavages. An ending which makes The Sting's look straightforward. Christian Bale learning a Bronx accent little by little until by the closing voice-over he sounds like he was born under the bleachers of Yankee Stadium. Bradley Cooper winning this year's award for Most Overacting in a Feature Film. And the hair. This movie is all about the hair. My hat is off (so to speak) to:
 Kristen Barry ... hair colourist / hair stylist
 Stacey Butterworth ... wig maker: Jennifer Lawrence
 Elizabeth Cecchini ... hair stylist
 Kathrine Gordon ... department head hair stylist
 Raul Hernandez ... hair stylist
 Michelle Johnson ... assistant hair department head
 Amanda Miller ... wig maker
 Shayna Passaretti ... additional hair stylist
 Emma C. Rotondi ... hair stylist
 Rene Vaca ... assistant department head hair stylist
 and to Jeremy Renner for rocking a classic Elvis do, as well as portraying the challenging role of sincere politician.

Amy and Jennifer ran through lots of costumes, most of them very sexy. The men's outfits did not work for me - the costumers made too big an effort to not dress any two people the same, in an era where most men did dress the same. The FBI supervisor's boss looked more like a mobster. The supervisor looked more like a farmer making a court appearance.

 Schemes within schemes within schemes, and a who's doing what with/to whom with whom (or is it who?) to make your head spin. It's a long movie, 138 minutes, but I only wanted to check my watch twice (but I wasn't wearing one).

 Excellent acting, directing, cinematography and a soundtrack made up of pop music of the disco era, often with a mean sense of humor. Almost fell out of my seat when they played "White Rabbit" in Arabic. The original parts of the score were spot on, by quadruple Oscar nominee and Emmy winner Danny Elfman. Audio was mostly excellent, there were a few lines which I couldn't hear. There was one scene showing Amy from the back which was probably done with her stand-in, because it was out of sync (her head was moving in the wrong way for the words she was speaking). Those scenes are shot blind - they are easy to screw up.

 Some great character acting by Paul Herman as the mobster lawyer, Elisabeth Röhm as the sincere politician's wife, and an uncredited Arabic-speaking Robert De Niro.

Worth full price.

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