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August 2, 2010
Unfortunatley, insurance doesn't cover any of these
Mood:  smelly
Now Playing: "Taylor the Latte Boy" - Kristin Chenoweth

So the other day, at the gym, I whimsically challenged myself to do an 8-minute mile on the treadmill.  "Pish tosh," said I to myself, dismissing imaginary naysayers with an airy wave while hiking up my leg warmers and setting the iPod to Extra Bouncy, "I routinely did this in under 7 minutes in high school.  Eight minutes should be a breeze."

Oh, how I do love to laugh.

The next morning, while googling "owwwwwwwww" and "alarmingly swollen knee", I came across an ailment known as Theater Knee.  At first glance, it sounded like an actors' affliction - too many genuflecting "Alas, poor Yorick" scenes on unforgiving hardwood veneer - but no, it turns out to be an affliction of  critics and specatators.  Theater Knee is the result of too many hours spent at film festivals, crammed into uncomfortable seats, legs bent at an acute angle, patellas jammed into seatbacks and whacked askew by people climbing over to get to the restrooms.  And boy howdy, it can really hurt.

My next thought was "well then...surely there must be disorders specific to David fans".  Every day, countless lives are disrupted by ailments such as Lukemia, Gingervitis, and Huangnail, to name a few (the latter caused by eagerly ripping open the newest DVD arrival, and cutting a finger in your haste.  Even though you know David isn't in it all that much).  Don't you know people who've nearly died of a Doug Overdose, Josh Palsy, or Spartan Vaporlock?  This is a serious crisis, people!  I've got an icebag going right now to subdue my Killing Time Anticipation Tic.

Speaking of Killing Time. Which we were not! But I couldn't think of a graceful way to change the subject.  Didn't you love the trailer?  OK, so it's evil David this time, but refined, elegant, Porsche-and-coke, succumbing-to-temptation evil David, as opposed to Jerky McOutback, the Outback Jerk.  (Yes, if I saw that action figure in a store, I would totally buy it.)   No flies, whips, or lizardskin boots here - instead, it's a world of police corruption, maximum-security prison, and vicious criminals.  And David gets to wear one of those Monty Python judge wigs.

One of the interesting things about Fraser, it seems, is the way in which he keeps reinventing himself, setback after setback - from small-time lawyer to high-profile criminal attorney to disgraced drug addict to prisoner to author to public speaker to comedian (yes, he has a comedy show called "High Sus", which was featured at the Melbourne Comedy Festival last year).  The guy just keeps on moving from role to role at a dizzying pace.  Next he'll show up on Dancing with the Stars.  Or he'll announce that he's putting out a CD of hardscrabble roots music.  I wonder if that chameleon-like quality is what interested David in portraying him?


Stupid Idea of the Day:  You know how 3-D glasses leave dents in your nose, and make you look like a Buddy Holly impersonator operating a bandsaw during a racquetball match?  Movie theaters really should offer 3-D contacts as an alternative.


Quote of the Day (from my 10 year old nephew):  "Oh yeah, I've heard of 300.  It's a movie about men.  It has a lot of men in it.  I think it was made for men."

Posted by dessicatedcoconut at 8:55 PM EDT
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June 29, 2010
Pope Joan: The Review of the Movie of the Book of the Legend
Mood:  cool

This week, one of my very dear friends from inside the computer loaned me Pope Joan for home viewing(Thank you, thank you, thank you!)  At last I have joined the ranks of the lucky witnesses who have Seen The Gerold.  (Was anyone else surprised to find out that his name is pronounced with a hard "g"?  Oh, I was.  I jasped out loud.)

Pope Joan is like a big loaf of raisin bread studded with plump juicy flecks of David, buttered with medieval costumery, and served with a steaming hot cup of other actors.  There's enough raisins in the loaf so you don't feel deprived, but five minutes later you're hungry again.  We fans are insatiable that way.

Before tackling the movie, I suppose we should get the inevitable Faramir-Gerold comparison out of the way first.  At first glance, of course, the two look very similar.  The long ginger mane.  The similar fashion sense (though Gerold prefers fishscale Mylar jerkins to leather).  The reluctant-soldier/closet-intellectual streak.  The similar hobbies, namely: 1) riding sadly out to battle over cobblestone streets while women stick flowers in their saddles 2) engaging in frustrating military conversations with stubborn-idiot superiors.

However, in personality the two are quite different. Gerold is far more self-assured and far less haunted than Faramir.  He's not weighed down by constant exhaustion or Daddy issues, and physically he's a little sturdier, a bit rougher around the edges.  He's a man accustomed to getting his way.  From an acting standpoint, I really enjoyed David's confident, mature portrayal.  He moves easily around the role of a Frankish nobleman, without any strain or hesitation.  One of the best moments for me: the smoldering, seething look he gives Lothar after being summarily dismissed and told to go tend to his "black sheep".  GO DAISY.

Gerold's gentle nature also shines through very well, particularly when contrasted with the loathsome specimens Joan has to deal with for much of her life, from her violent sociopath of a father (played brilliantly by Iain Glenn) to the sneaky, conniving Odo, to the backstabbing Anastasius.  Unfortunately, we don't get to see much of Gerold mentoring Joan and gradually building up their relationship.  Instead we get conventional plot shorthand, delivered in a few quick strokes:  Gerold offers to take her in, his wife hates her, then they're at the fair, then he's wowing her with the old Greek Door Trick, then he's smooching her in the brook.

As wonderful as it was to see David doing love scenes again, this was where the movie fell a little flat for me.  It pains me to say it, but there just wasn't much chemistry between Joan and Gerold.  I don't know if it was the dialogue, the washed-out color processing, the water, or Johanna Wokalek's arctic portrayal, but watching them kiss made me feel a little chilly.  In the book, this is the point where Joan's heart blossoms for the first time as she falls in love with her kind friend and mentor: the first man to answer her burning, fierce intellect with a passion of his own.  In the brook, as Gerold kisses her, Joan's eyes fly open with a sort of puzzled, thoughtful expression, like someone who's trying gefilte fish for the first time and isn't sure she likes it.

Later on, we get another water scene with full backal nudity, but unfortunately not of Gerold.  (For further research on this subject, I would refer interested readers to Better Than Sex.)  To borrow a phrase from Shane Maloney, there's warmth between Joan and Gerold, but no heat.  If I hadn't read the book, I wouldn't be sure exactly what it was that attracted them to each other, other than the fact that they're the only two normal adults in the entire movie.

In adapting the book to the screen, some of the energy and momentum gets lost.  There's little sense that the plot is building inexorably toward a terrible and tragic ending, and Joan's sacrifice is muted.  Instead of having to make a truly painful choice between fulfilling her mind's potential and a lifetime of safe domestic happiness, she gets to have it both ways.  After Joan becomes Pope, Gerold hangs around as consort, visiting her room after hours with a torch once she's finished poping for the day and is ready to knock some pontifical boots.  (I still think it's absolutely freaking hilarious, by the way, that David's curriculum vitae now includes "the pope's lover").  Later, it's mentioned in passing that Joan is with child, but we don't see her trying to hide her pregnancy from the Vatican advisors.  There's no running out of the throne room with dry heaves when someone mentions bacon, no visiting the Holy Chamber Pot nineteen times a day, no sudden craving for roasted lark with pickles.  Maybe it was the world's easiest pregnancy, but I felt there needed to be at least a little drama to call attention to the precariousness of her situation.  After all, Joan is surrounded by ambitious predators who would tear her apart if they suspected even a whiff of womanhood.

The ending was altered to be more deliberately cinematic, as well.  The papal procession scene is cut in such a way that every nasty blow and stab to Gerold appears to make Joan cry out in pain.  I know it's meant to signify a deep psychic link between the two, but I kept thinking "voodoo doll".  Except when Gerold got skewered through the chest.  Then I thought "potato-headed orc from The Two Towers".

More than that, I didn't quite understand the decision to have Joan die alone on the steps of the Via Sacra.  Of the few "facts" we know about Joan's life, the most often repeated is that she died at the hands of a frenzied mob after giving birth.  Not that I wanted to see dirt-caked peasants bashing her with rocks, but the tableau of Joan crawling slowly away from a semicircle of frozen onlookers and collapsing in a trail of blood wasn't what I was expecting.  It ended with a whimper instead of a bang, and if you were unfamiliar with the legend and missed that she was pregnant, you might have wondered what was going on.  But I did like the framing device of the little girl that followed in Joan's footsteps, grew up to become a bishop, and narrated the story.  Stay in school, kids!

There were many delightful little moments.  I loved the expression on Gerold's face when the Super Door Trick was being played on Lothar's army.  I also loved the look Gerold and Joan exchanged when the cardinals interrupted their tender moment by bursting into the room and informing Joan she was Pope.  *awkward*  John Goodman was wonderful as Pope Sergius, and Lotte Flack was spectacular as the 10 - 14 year old Joan.  I expect we'll be hearing more from her in the future.  The music was also very well done.

Overall, I'd give it a B-.  It's a great story, great message, and wonderfully cast, but the cinematic execution isn't quite lavish or sweeping enough to qualify as a massive global epic.  It has more of a small-scale, Lifetime Movie kind of feel to it.  Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it may explain the reluctance of US distributors to pick it up.  It deserves to be seen by a wider audience; certainly there are many readers around the world who loved the book, and there's always an appetite for movies that yank the Church's chain, a la "The Da Vinci Code".   Controversy often breeds interest.  I wonder if one of the cable networks would be interested in showing it?

Posted by dessicatedcoconut at 9:34 PM EDT
Updated: June 30, 2010 1:32 AM EDT
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June 13, 2010
What would you do for an Apollo bar?
Mood:  suave

In their efforts to contain the Deepwater oil disaster, BP has so far tried a cement underwater containment dome, a million gallons of sludgey mud, several thousand gallons of unregulated toxic oil-breaking-upping chemicals, and robot submarines.  None of them have worked.

But I bet the giant oil-eating dragon will do the trick.


I have to say, I was a tad disappointed that the David Wenham who slid through goose poop in pursuit of a kickball catch was not our David Wenham.  But I think he does have that same level of commitment, focus, and dedication to his craft.  Directors haven't asked him to slide through waterfowl flop (yet), but he has endured plenty of weird and uncomfortable situations with good grace while filming.  I seem to recall he had to slather his legs with meat tenderizer, or something, during the filming of "Crocodile Hunter" so the guard dogs would go after him with conviction.  There's also been heat, flies, makeup, helicopters, freezing water, and plastic Stay-Puft Marshmallow Armor, to name a few.

I once spent two hours sitting in duck poop at a local park just so I could get a promotional "Apollo" candy bar (as seen in Lost).  I really, really wanted that bar.  Love bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love is patient.  Love does not worry about avian-flu-coated grass.

If it came to it, I'd pick my way through a minefield of horse apples just to see Pope Joan.

Posted by dessicatedcoconut at 12:31 AM EDT
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May 1, 2010
I Got The Horse Right Here
Mood:  d'oh
Now Playing: The Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Minefields

Last night, during a tavern debauch with miscellaneous friends, I placed a drunken bet on a Kentucky Derby horse.  I don't really remember the circumstances which led to this, but a five dollar bill was handed over with instructions to "put it all on #3 to finish!"  (I think the technical betting term is actually "win", isn't it?).  I know as much about horse racing as I do about neurosurgery, maybe even less.  I could probably tell which end of a patient is up, especially if it was inscribed on their forehead during surgery prep, but I'm not so sure with horses.  They all look alike to me.

And thus, for the first time in ages, I found myself eagerly tuning into the Kentucky Derby to emit a lusty farrago of cheers for my randomly chosen horse.  Before the race started, the field of 20 did an introductory lap around the muddy track, the jockeys in their crisp colors, the horses looking magnificent and eager, the crowd looking elegant, the mint looking julepped.  One of the horses was named Line of David.  I wish I could report that this was my horse, and that Line of David beat the rest of the field by a mile, and that I won $10,000 with which to start a foundation to introduce David films into developing nations.  That would have made a swell story for today's Grove post.  But no.

No, #3 turned out to be a horse called Noble's Promise, with odds that were approximately the same as a basset hound writing "Hamlet" in Yiddish.  Since Denethor was played in the LOTR films by John Noble, I took this as a sign that the horse, rather than galloping along with the other charging warriors around the track, would have a natural inclination to hang back and nosh on cherry tomatoes.

But wrong again!  This horse was a goer.  When the bell went off, he sprang out to the front of the pack.  Halfway through, he put on a little burst of speed, and was out in front with 75 yards to go.  I was on my feet yelling COME ON NUMBER THREE COME ON COME ON COME ON when suddenly!  a pack of other horses surged forward, swarmed past Noble's Promise, and pipped him at the tape.  (See: Tragic Middle School Track Meet Story from the previous entry. You know what? I bet the trainers forgot to floss that horse.)

So, five dollars that could have gone towards, say, a movie ticket for Legend of the Guardians, instead spiraled down the drain in a counterclockwise fashion.  But you know, it was worth those 45 seconds of excitement, and the brief fantasy of being a hundredaire.


In the past month, Maine has had two separate topless protest marches by groups of women protesting the inequality of females not being able to take their shirts off on a hot day like men do.  Yes, you read that right.

It's actually legal for women to go topless in public in this state.  I guess the state legislators felt safe in passing that law, since most days of the year the temperature is about 83 degrees below freezing.  Portland used to have a topless donut shop, but it closed down after a fire last summer.  (Breakfast seems a tad early to be surrounded by ta-ta's, but maybe guys think differently.  I would certainly avoid a bottomless donut shop, at least before lunch).

Anyway, the female protestors, in an attempt to draw attention to the cultural inequalities of shirtlessness, took off their tops and marched down the streets of the city.  It is true that there's an imbalance in what's culturally acceptable. I can think of several roles where David went shirtless, but I'm trying to remember if any of his female co-stars bared it all.  I guess Susie Porter did (from behind).  In gym class, the boys get to be Shirts vs. Skins, but we girls have to put on those smelly mesh fungus-factory jerseys that never get washed.  It can get pretty darn hot under a sports bra.

While I admire their bravery, it's not a right I feel the need to fight for tooth and claw.  Without going into too much detail, I prefer my girls to remain snugly accounted for, in a supportive atmosphere.  But, can you imagine sending a platoon of topless women into battle against the Spartans?  I bet it would have totally freaked them out, not to mention confusing the producers of The Deadliest Warrior.  Here the Spartans are, thinking their bare chests and leather Speedos are psyching out the enemy, when over the hill comes a jiggling army led by their titular ruler.  Paralyzed by equal parts distraction and shock at their failure to keep abreast of this warfare tactic, the Spartans would end up feeling like the biggest boobs in recent mammary....

....whoa, I'm getting carried away here. 

Sorry about all the puns.  We've spoken firmly to our quality control department and nippled it in the bud.


Uh, that should read "nipped".


Have you noticed that in virtually every article about Killing Time, Andrew Fraser is referred to as a "silvertail solicitor"?  In fact, if you google "silvertail solicitor", you can see several articles that use this same phrase.  It's like a little virus that infects every press update that comes into contact with it.

I don't even know what "silvertail" means.  I'm guessing it's Aussie slang for a senior citizen with a mullet.  Either that, or Andrew Fraser was in the habit of putting on pinstripe trousers and sitting in metallic paint.

Come to think of it, Silvertail Solicitor would be a great name for a Kentucky Derby horse.  We'll get a topless jockey to ride it.

Posted by dessicatedcoconut at 8:47 PM EDT
Updated: May 1, 2010 10:48 PM EDT
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April 17, 2010
Drab Gray Birds of the Desert Southwest
Mood:  caffeinated

Today, we have two completely unrelated stories.  My segue kung-fu is not powerful enough to link them together, though I tried mightily with the Sword of Smooth Transitions and the Hammer of Non-Non Sequiturs.  There's just no common ground, I'm afraid.  Except for the casual David film references.

Story #1:

One of my favorite scenes in "Return of the King" (besides Oil-Soaked Faramir) is the beacon lighting sequence.  In the theater, it was such a thrill to see those gorgeous, swooping helicopter shots, those sparks of light leaping up out of the blue dusk one by one to carry the message to Rohan.  Gondor Beacon Guard must have been a fairly boring job, the sort of low-level duty assigned to cadets who flunked out of White Guard of the Citadel School.  Years and years of inaction, punctuated by a sudden panicked scramble to find the Middle Earth Safe-T-Strike matches and get the pile lit.  What are the odds of being caught napping on the job, staring off in the wrong direction, off in the woods taking a whizz, or staring at a termite-riddled pile of wet firewood when the Big Moment comes?

In the early days of Prohibition my maternal great-great-grandfather, Charles Neeley, was in the habit of riding horseback fifty miles up into the Arkansas Hills for mineral hunting and recreation.  It was a rough area, notorious for moonshiners.  One weekend he was visiting a friend, and they were on the back porch testing a box of cigars.  As darkness fell, Great-Great-Grandfather Neeley noticed little lights springing up on the tall mountain peaks all around.  Everywhere he looked, another light appeared.  Within half an hour there wasn't a single peak that wasn't dotted with light.

It creeped him out to see all those fires twinkling in the darkness.  He asked his friend what the lights meant.  His friend said "I'll tell you in a little bit."  The friend then went into the yard and proceeded to build and ignite two enormous bonfires, about 100 yards apart.

Back on the porch, his friend said "You see all those different lights on those different points?  They can be seen by every citizen for miles around.  They are a signal that a stranger is in the neighborhood, and for everyone to be on guard until it is known why he is here, and who he is.  My two fires are a return signal to notify the neighbors that the stranger (that is, you) is known to me and under my protection.  The Revenue officers have been giving them a lot of trouble.  Several people have been arrested and had their stills destroyed.  The lights show that, although you may not have seen anyone when you entered this locality, someone saw you."

The next day they went for a hike in the hills, and came to a large stump.  The friend said "See that stump?  Leave half a dollar on it and see what happens".  Sure enough, when they came back, the half dollar was gone and in its place was a pint bottle filled with "mountain dew", or "H___fire" as Great Great Grandfather Neeley decorously referred to it.  To be polite, he tried a sip, but decided it wasn't worth going blind and risking jake leg, so he left the bottle with the friend and rode back home.

After that trip, he never saw the bonfires again.  News travels fast in the mountains.  But it does make me wonder - did they all keep huge woodpiles on their lawn, and keep vigil like the Gondor beacon guards?  Weird.  And what was Gondor's obsession with big piles of wood, anyway?  Bunch of pyros, if you ask me.

Story #2:

Last week I was notified that a former classmate, Jill Sellers (not her real name) had emailed me on  You have to sign up for a $15 membership to read anything anyone sends you, so I don't know what the email says.  At first I was  stumped as to why she would be contacting me, considering that one of her high school hobbies was making fun of my sweaters.  If little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice, the Jill I knew in high school was made of jalapenos, napalm, scorpions, PMS, and Portuguese man o' wars (men-o-war?), all baked into a permanent orange cheerleader glare.  Picture the meanest mean girl from your high school.  Now picture someone even meaner making fun of her behind her back.  Now picture someone even meaner making fun of her behind her back, and so on all the way to the edge of the universe, where the laws of physics bend, and nerds attract and jocks repel.  The person at the very end of the line would be Jill.  She could make Chuck Norris cry ("OMG, you wore that to battle The Claw and Super Ninja?")

Why she would be emailing me, I have no idea, unless it has to do with our upcoming high school reunion.  Apparently, when the number of earth orbits around the sun since graduation is evenly divisible by five, you're supposed to gather with your former classmates and get weepy drunk to Joy Division (or Culture Club, or Elvis, or Mozart,  whatever was in style that year).  Eighties music, with its skinny ties and synthesizers, is not well suited to maudlin sentiment.  "Safety Dance" does mist me up a little, even though that dance really wasn't all that safe. 

But back to our story.  In seventh grade, at the annual middle school track meet, Jill Sellers tried to get me to throw the 440-yard dash and let her friend Kristin Lahti win (a snooty cheerleader who smirked when I broke my ankle playing basketball).  "She deserves it so much more than you," Jill told me.  My response: "Hell no".

Jill's eyes narrowed.  She glared at me with the white hot hatred of a thousand suns, hissed "You have food in your braces," and stormed off.

I was seethingly furious.  So angry I could barely see the track.  When the starter's gun went off, I did what every track coach tells you not to do:  I took off like a bat out of hell (a bat who had just dined in it), fueled by pure adrenaline and hatred.  By the time we reached the halfway mark, I had a lead of about a dozen yards on the rest of the pack, and there were scorch marks on the track.

When we hit the three-quarter turn, my lungs began to burn, there was a maroon mist swarming in front of my eyes, and I could feel my legs running out of gas.  I prayed that the lead would hold.  If only...I didn't... have food.... in my braces....    less...wind...resistance.... 

Footsteps pounded behind me.  I wasn't sure whose they were.  I hoped it wasn't Kristin.  Gasping for air, I willed my legs to keep moving forward, to stay in front.

At the last minute some girl I'd never seen before, a recent transfer from another town, streaked past and nipped me at the tape.

I didn't even care, because I'd beaten Kristin Lahti.

You know, I'm really tempted to show up to the reunion with food in my teeth.


Postscript/random thoughts:

* If you watch 300 in 2x slo-mo, does that make it 600?

* Proposed ending for Lost:  Father Damien suddenly shows up on horseback.  Turns out they were on Molokai all along!

Proposed Lost ending #2:  We find out the whole thing took place inside a snowglobe in the Cosi mental institution.  The last thing we hear is a nurse's voice saying "Time for your medication, Doug," and Hurley saying "Dude, are you gonna finish those Cheetos?"

By the way, the lovely Emilie de Ravin, who plays Claire on Lost, is voicing a character in Legend of the Guardians alongside David (possibly Eglantine?).

And for those of you who watched Lost last Thursday...without giving too much away, did anyone else wish Fake Locke/Smokey had yelled "This...Is...Spartaaaaaaaaaa!" during the scene with the well?

* I keep having to google "Legend of the Guardian" because I'm never quite sure if it's "Guardian of the Legend" or "Legends of the Guardians"or "Garden of the Legs" or "End of Ian the Laggard".  All will become clear in time, no doubt.

Posted by dessicatedcoconut at 10:17 PM EDT
Updated: April 18, 2010 3:13 AM EDT
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April 2, 2010
Cookies Are Enabled For This Browser
Mood:  hungry

April Fool's day was celebrated with gusto at the office yesterday.  We had one fake resignation, two unattended water bottles filled with sugar, a chair covered in Post-It notes, a notification from QA to development that the entire database had been wiped out, ha! ha! just kidding!, and several entertaining emails sent to the entire company by people who went off to meetings and forgot to lock their machines.  Believe me, I spent the whole day glued to my desk.  At least the tricks stopped at 5:00, which is more than can be said for the set of Van Helsing.  I hope all of you survived the day and didn't find any Glad Wrap on the dunny.  (Why does "glad wrap on the dunny" sound like a wrestling move?)

This morning, somebody brought in doughnuts to celebrate some project milestone or other, and within 5 minutes the entire box had been picked clean by the office locusts.  This got some co-workers and I talking about food, and our instincts to protect it.  Many of us grew up in big noisy Irish Catholic families where, if you didn't finish your dinner quickly enough, siblings would move in on your plate.  I can't speak for David's family, of course, but among our department it seemed to be a pretty universal experience, particularly if your family ran to brothers.  In our house, everyone kept secret food caches where treats were squirreled away for later.  If a box of popsicles came home, and you didn't feel like eating yours right then, your only hope was to stow it away in a safe hiding place in the back of the freezer.  The kitchen was studded with hidden cookies and sheltered pretzel assets left in odd places.  If you accidentally came across someone else's snack stash while looking for some nutmeg or a fork, well...finders, keepers.

Once my brothers were all out of the house (when I was well into my teens) it was finally safe to leave cookies in the box.  But I think it might be prudent to start hiding them at work.


On the commute home tonight, the radio station played Tin Man by America.  Does anybody know where the "Tropic of Sir Galahad" is?  Is it anywhere near Molokai?

Posted by dessicatedcoconut at 10:19 PM EDT
Updated: April 2, 2010 10:31 PM EDT
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March 17, 2010
Death, taxes, and leprosy. Well, not so much death.
Mood:  energetic
Now Playing: Hey! (Hey!) You! (You!) Get off of my lawn!

Did you know that armadillos can carry leprosy?

I sort of wish I'd known that before agreeing to participate in a corporate armadillo race in Texas.  Not that it really made any difference, since we wore gloves to handle them, and only a small percentage of armadillos are carriers, and it's really hard to contract leprosy anyway, since 95% of people aren't susceptible.  But maybe I could have offered them spiritual counseling.  I could have done more.  So much more.

So, Andrew Fraser is next up for David.   Ten hours:  a prospect most pleasant to contemplate.  Babies have been born and nuclear arms accords signed in less time that that.  I have to admit, I never heard of Mr. Fraser, but he sounds like quite a juicy character, what with the prison time and heavy cocaine involvement.  This marks a switch for David; his previous druggie characters have dabbled in smack, with its attendant lethargy and dim-wittedness.  (Although Lenny, I guess, didn't use, he just pushed it).  Cocaine strikes me as more of a hyper, glittery, energetic drug.  Will this addiction color David's performance?  Stay tuned.

I often wonder if it's easier or harder for actors to play actual people.  With real people, especially ones who are well-known like Father Damien or Jerry Springer, there's the advantage of tons of source material.  Books and photographs, mainly, but if there's archival TV or film footage, resources like YouTube make it easier to research the person's traits and mannerisms, and get at the character's essence.  But I imagine it also limits how creative an actor can be in bringing the character to life.  With a fictional character, a Johnny Spitieri or a Glen Owen Dodds, there's a lot of little details that can be invented, from clothing to gait to vocal inflections.  It's so interesting to hear about a little outside quirk that David brings to a character, like Eddie Harnovey's plastic shopping bags, and I wonder if there's as much scope for deviation when portraying someone real.  I suppose it depends on the internal rules of the film, and how closely it hews to authenticity.  Harry Pierpont probably isn't going to sport an interesting digital watch unless you're doing a very loose, Frank Miller-ish interpretation.

So, while we wait for filming to wrap on this newest project of David's, we continue with our regularly scheduled lives.  March is nearly half done, with its cordial, warm, but still oddly distant sun (was it something we said?) and its mean winds full of concealed hatpins and bees.  But spring is on its way.  The red-winged blackbirds are back, calling "ok-a-leeee" in the marshes, and yesterday, leaving work, an immature bald eagle glared at me from on top of the lamppost.  That is, I was leaving work, not the bald eagle.  (Dear me, we can't leave that participle dangling out there.  After all, there's children and wimminfolk about.)

Speaking of spring, here's a free seasonal tax tip: Never be self-employed at four different jobs in two different states with a rolled over 401k, capital losses, and itemized deductions, unless you want your tax return to resemble a Russian novel.  (Spoiler: at the end, my bank account throws itself under a train.)  The instructions do make for pretty amusing reading, though.  "If you had farm income, or were employed as a jazz dancer or pastry chef in the state of Minnesota, skip lines 37 - 41 and multiply by the lesser of 5% or the qualified amortization amount from Schedule K.  If my name you wish to see, turn to page 103.  If my name you cannot find, turn to page 109.  Now stand on one leg and sing 'I'm A Little Teapot'."

Next year, I plan to deduct all funds spent on acquiring the complete DVD set of Killing Time.  If I can get a doctor to write me a prescription for it, I can claim it as a medical expense.

Well, after all, I have been exposed to armadillos.

Posted by dessicatedcoconut at 9:38 PM EDT
Updated: March 17, 2010 11:23 PM EDT
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February 27, 2010
Sea, World
Mood:  lyrical

You know, every time I watch the Olympics and the Canadians win gold, I suffer from anthem envy.   Canada may be America's Hat, but "O Canada" has it all.  Beautiful melody.  Easy to sing.  Lovely lyrics in English, French, and Inuktitut.  (When playing it on guitar, I like to ham up the Quebecois "Blacque Jacque Shellacque" accent).  At the risk of sounding like less than a real live niece of my Uncle Sam, I'm not fully on board with glaring red rockets and bombs bursting in mid-air and OMG U GUYS WHAT ABOUT THE FLAG IS IT STILL THERE?  Must our national song be so explodey?  And have a one and a half octave range?

I love everything about Canada: evergreens, politeness, modesty, Loonies, Timbits, boring politicians, drunken Celtic fiddlers, Anne Murray, touques, maple syrup that isn't artificially flavored Karo.  As a matter of fact, I think I may secretly be a Canadian, trapped in the body of an American.  A transpatrite.  I understand you can get surgery to shrink your star-spangled stripes and have an artificial maple leaf transplanted.  But first you have to go on a twelve-week regime of poutine injections.

But back to the Olympics.  Aren't the medals cool?  At first glance I thought they looked like microwaved frisbees, or that they belonged in a bowl of potato chips in King Midas' house, but the Dali-esque design has grown on me:


They're based on a large four-panel masterwork of orcas by a Vancouver artist, Corinne Hunt.  The waviness is meant to evoke the oceans, and the mountains.  Each medal is laser-etched from an individually cropped section of the painting, so they're all unique:

I understand that orca whales are a popular theme in paintings.

Speaking of marine creatures, last Sunday I was going for a walk around Back Cove after hitting the gym (literally...I walked right up to the building and smacked it), and this harp seal had beached itself about 20 yards from the path:

Harp seals aren't rare around here, but they're not common either.  Mostly they hang out in Arctic waters, but they'll migrate south as the pack ice thickens.  Their winter breeding grounds are in Newfoundland.


As you can imagine, the little fella (or gal) drew quite a crowd.  We worried that it might be sick.  I found myself standing next to a cheery bearded Australian marine biologist who seemed to know quite a bit about seals.  He reassured everybody that the seal was OK, based on its behavior (it was lying on its side like Cleopatra, waving one flipper and flexing its tail):

"Oh, she's fine" he said. "Sick seals don't do that.  I think she's either lost, or she just wanted to come in to the city and enjoy the warmer water and the sunshine, maybe take a little vacation."

"Well, it's the off-season now and not quite so touristy," I said, somewhat ironically (everybody had their cell-phone cameras out and was clicking away).

Now, you'd think that chatting with an Australian marine biologist with a scruffy beard would put me in mind of Diver Dan.  Far from it.  If anything, I was wondering what an Australian was doing so far out of his usual habitat range.  Also, watching the crowd, I was remembering the episode of Seinfeld where George Costanza pretends to be a marine biologist to impress his girlfriend, and then they go for a walk on the beach and come across a beached whale, and George has to keep up the charade.  He reaches into the blowhole and finds one of Kramer's golf balls. ("The ocean was angry that day, my an old man trying to send back soup at a deli.")  Then I started thinking about how much I miss Seinfeld, and that I really should join Netflix so I can catch up with Curb Your Enthusiasm, but so many people want to see it that by the time it came up in my queue, the DVD format would be obsolete.  Which reminded me of how decrepit and non-digital my television set is.  It was a train of thought that didn't stop at Seachange, or much of anything else.

I'm not sure what the denouement was, but presumably the seal decided to head back with glowing heart to the True North, strong and free.

Posted by dessicatedcoconut at 9:39 PM EST
Updated: February 27, 2010 10:30 PM EST
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February 20, 2010
Faster! Higher! Weirder!
Mood:  suave

Ah, Vancouver!  The beautiful Pacific Northwest city that brought us Married Life is now giving us 17 days of ice-packed sport 'n' spectacle, in the form of the 2010 Winter Olympics.  I like to think that David, Patricia Clarkson, and Pierce Brosnan occasionally sneaked off to ride a shopping cart down the luge track during breaks in filming, but that seems ever so slightly doubtful.  Still, David did briefly strap into a pair of skis as Ian in Simone de Beauvoir's Babies, and give an indoor skiing lesson of the "bend-ze-knees-five-dollars-please" variety.  So we Groveians are not unfamiliar with Olympic sport.

I've always loved the Winter Olympics more than the Summer Olympics.  For one thing, there's fewer events, so it's more intimate.  The Summer Games seem so vast and diffused, with thousands of athletes and events ("Coming up next!  Women's Team 100m Normal Hill Hopscotch Round B Qualifiers!").  The TV networks breathlessly hustle you from one far-flung event to the next, and you never really get a sense of what's going on.

There's also the nostalgia factor.  Kids around here grow up sledding, skating, and skiing, dreaming of winter glory.  When I was a kid, every November the river that ran behind our house flooded into the wetlands, creating a miles-long ribbon of glossy ice which every kid in the neighborhood flocked to.  I spent countless afternoon hours gliding around in my brother's hand-me-down hockey skates, dreaming of being an Olympic speed skater like Eric Heiden or Bonnie Blair.  My feet would turn into numb blocks of ice, so cold I'd have to run home and hold them against the radiator until the feeling came back.  As dusk came on, we raced through the trees and around the hummocks of grass, playing tag and crack-the-whip, or seeing who could slide the farthest.  (We tried Marco Polo once, but that turned out to be a bad idea on skates).

That ancient itch still comes back the moment I put on a pair of skates.  I can't jog or bike for more than ten minutes without getting bored, but skates make me want to fly fast and far, forever.  It can be frustrating when the pond ice is crappy or the rink is crowded.  I ventured out last Sunday to the pond in our neighborhood park with skates in hand, and the ice was awful.  It was rutted, cracked, bumpy, and slushy.  In some spots it was soft enough that your blade would sink down abruptly, pitching you forward gracefully onto your face.  Still, there were a few patches of smooth ice, and it was fun to awaken the old dream, to chain together some 3 turns and spins and waltz jumps under a soft afternoon moon, to hear once more the hollow hiss of a blade carving through ice, the shouts of kids, and the clop-thwack clop-thwack clop-thwack of the ritual pond hockey faceoff.  It has been awhile.

And, OK, I admit it: the Winter Games also appeal to me becauase of the element of thrill and danger.  The summer events are mostly athletes puffing around a rubber track, or back and forth in a pool. Somebody might trip, or pull a hamstring, but the events are decidedly sedate and earthbound.  Once you add snow and ice and wooden planks and steep hills, suddenly you've got speed, flying bodies, and spectacular stunts.  You get entertainingly inexplicable events, like Nordic combined and biathlon (skiing and shooting?  why not skiing and cooking? Or shotput and sonnets?).  Also curling, an activity where people with brooms yell at a granite rock.  Fans are passionate about it.  I was in a bookstore in Canada once, and - I kid you not - there was an entire section devoted to curling.  There had to be at least fifty different titles.  My favorite was Burnt By The Rock, which seemed rather melodramatic for a sport that involves long periods of standing around staring at painted concentric circles.  One does wonder if David, with his lawn bowling experience, might not be a natural at this sport.  It's not as physical or rough as Aussie football, but then again, Ian Stewart never got burnt by the rock.  *scoff*  (Confession: I picked that name at random from Wikipedia.  I don't actually know the names of any players.  Thank goodness I invented the internet.)

The fourth reason I love the Winter Olympics:  the bizarre fashions.  When you think "athlete", you generally think streamlined, utilitarian, and basic.  Skintight spandex, say, or a basic tank top and shorts.  Something that shaves off those all-important hundredths of seconds.  And yet the Winter Games bring the ruffles, the sequins, the psychedelic patterns and fake jeans and general silliness. You never know what you're going to see next.  A farmer?  A gondolier?  Some guy in a skeleton outfit?  Figure skating is responsible for the bulk of these, but the other disciplines also contribute their share.   Feast your eyes on some of the imaginative outfits we've been treated to thus far:


We love you, Overalls Guy!


Johnny Weir, the Crystal Enchantress of the ice, in a pink lace-up corset.

Evan Lysacek.  By the way, his free skate won 100 points for Slytherin.


Evgeny Pluschenko, rocking the "parking valet attacked by a Bedazzler" look


Ukrainian pairs team wearing unitards made up of equal parts mithril, Unobtanium, and melted aluminum 1950s tumblers, with contrasting trim made out of that molten metal stuff from Terminator 2.  It took them five hours to get through international airport security.

The men's downhill was won by a giant candy cane.


Dig these cool Tron-like Australian short track outfits (with the 4-pack of abs!) 

Are you ready for pants?...


The Norwegian men's curling team.  I think.  They could also be harlequins golfing.


The Azerbaijan team outfits for the opening ceremonies.  Their pants are a 50/50 blend of paisley and awesome.  As far as I'm concerned, they won the Olympics right then and there.

In other news, Oliver gnaws a radiator valve, continues to have ears:

Posted by dessicatedcoconut at 6:58 PM EST
Updated: February 20, 2010 9:16 PM EST
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February 11, 2010
Things that go bumper in the night
Mood:  bright

In observance of the annual Festival of the Automobile State Inspection Sticker, aka What Expensive Yet Mandatory Fixes Can The Garage Find Wrong With It This Year?, it came to light that inside the car's bumper cover, the rear beam spent 2009 quietly transmuting into a rust-colored powder and must be replaced before the state will allow it back on the road.  Judging from the price tag, the new rear beam is made from metal mined on Saturn and flown to Earth in rockets that burn Chanel No. 5.  (Or it may possibly be forged from unobtanium, by the elf-smiths of Imladris.  I haven't ruled that one out.).  At any rate, once it's fixed, I will be able once more to back into trees, parked cars, and state motor vehicle inspectors with confidence.

Speaking of hidden rust-colored things - which we were not really, but humor me, this is an awkward segue - the other night David appeared in one of my dreams, playing the surprising role of My Nagging Subconscious. (Maybe Glen Owen Dodds has rubbed off a little?)  He only had one line, but it was delivered impeccably.  You know those dreams where you're at a huge party, and you find yourself sitting on the sofa between Jimi Hendrix and your sixth grade gym teacher, holding an eggplant in your lap and discussing whether cows can walk down stairs? (Yeah, that old chestnut of a dream.)  At some point in the dream, David detached himself from the crowd, walked past the Sofa o' Random Characters, and laughingly remarked "Your web site's gotten awfully juvenile lately."  My (equally laughing) response: "As opposed to all those earlier times when it hasn't been juvenile."   Jimi Hendrix's response: *blank stare*.  I think he might have been dead.

I think the interpretation of this dream is pretty obvious: my subconscious feels guilty about all the blather that goes on here and wishes that more DC time were devoted to serious adult discussion of David's work, and less time re-enacting "300" with marshmallow peeps.  My subconscious can be a real nudnik sometimes.  I don't think it fully understands the strange and wacky forms that fan appreciation can manifest as.  Fan appreciation doesn't always have to come wrapped in six-syllable words, wearing a bowtie and tweed jacket and trailing shades of Staniskavski.  Where's the fun in that?  The fan community has come up with hilariously creative stuff -- plays, stories, poems, dictionary entries, musicals -- that gets more directly to the heart of David's career than any sobersides film critic can articulate.  Besides, there's only so many times you can review "Australia".

If my subconscious continues to assume ever-darker dream forms in its quest for a more mature DC - say, Brett Sprague, or one of the Fletchers - then I'll sit up and take notice.  Until then, nanny-nanny-poo-poo  *braaaaaaap*.

In other news, lunch today was all that and a bag of chips.  Literally.

Posted by dessicatedcoconut at 9:26 PM EST
Updated: February 11, 2010 10:57 PM EST
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