April 4th, 2013
I’m truly saddened by today’s news of Roger Ebert’s death. I’ve been reading his movie reviews regularly for the past 20 years, and even when I disagreed with his opinions I enjoyed reading what he had to say anyway. Here are a few quotes mainly taken from his Chicago Sun-Times movie reviews that I’ve collected over the years. I especially love the first one.
Roger Ebert on Danny DeVito:
[H]e has a way of making the taller people around him seem unsure of what to do with their legs.
From Roger Ebert’s review of City of Angels:
Angels are big right now in pop entertainment, no doubt because everybody gets one. New Age spirituality is me-oriented, and gives its followers top billing in the soap operas of their own lives. People like to believe they have had lots of previous incarnations, get messages in their dreams and are psychic. But according to the theory of karma, if you were Joan of Arc in a past life and are currently reduced to studying Marianne Williamson paperbacks, you must have made a wrong turn.
When there’s a trend toward humility and selflessness, then we’ll know we’re getting somewhere on the spiritual front. That time is not yet.
From Roger Ebert’s review of Crime and Punishment in Suburbia:
The MPAA [ratings board] counts the beans but never tastes the soup. Make a worthless movie but limit the nudity and language, and get a PG-13. Make a movie where the characters live with real problems and try to figure out what to do, and God forbid our children should be exposed to such an experience.
From Roger Ebert’s review of Gangster No. 1:
[These events] have been called Shakespearean, which is fair enough, since just about everything is Shakespearean.
From Roger Ebert’s review of Household Saints:
The fact is that modern people do worship false gods and that a life devoted to getting a big car and a town house is seen as eminently more sane than a life devoted to God.
From Roger Ebert’s review of Joe Versus the Volcano, on Tom Hanks’s character:
[H]e is an island of curiosity in a sea of mystery.
Roger Ebert on citizens of a Newfoundland town, in his review of The Shipping News:
But, lord, the characters are tireless in their peculiarities; it’s as if the movie took the most colorful folks in Lake Wobegon, dehydrated them, concentrated the granules, shipped them to Newfoundland, reconstituted them with Molson’s and issued them Canadian passports.
RIP, Roger Ebert. Thank you a million times for changing the way I watch and think about movies, and for teaching me to judge a thing on its own merits.
Note: I would have linked the movie reviews, but Ebert’s review site seems to be down, unsurprisingly. Also, this is my 999th post. !!!
March 13th, 2013
Years ago when we lived in Ottawa, there was a coffee shop in the Glebe that served this amazing sunflower-seed hummus and cucumber sandwich on triangle-shaped multigrain bread. I wasn’t a super-adventurous eater back then, so I’m not sure what exactly prompted me to try this sandwich in the first place. Maybe a friend recommended it to me when we went there for lunch, and I wanted to look cool? I don’t know. Whatever the reason, it immediately became one of my favorite foods.
Sadly, I probably only ate three or four of those sandwiches before the coffee shop closed. Shortly after that, the Navy decided they needed Troy elsewhere and we left Canada. I tried many times to recreate that sandwich at home but could never quite do it, even though I already had a go-to hummus recipe. Eventually I gave up, deciding that maybe it was the bread, or the ambiance of the place, or the company in which I ate it that made the sandwich so tasty.
Today as I was scooping some hummus onto a plate for Elliora’s lunch, that sandwich popped into my head for the first time in probably a decade. Thinking, Eh, what the heck, I threw a quarter-cup of the Trader Joe’s hummus in the food processor with a quarter-cup of sunflower seeds and some toasted flaxseed because it happened to be sitting next to the sunflower seeds in my fridge. I added a squeeze of lemon juice and whizzed it all together as best I could, scraping the sides of the processor bowl a couple of times to make sure it all got mixed in. Then I spread that on toasted multigrain bread and topped it with a few spinach leaves because I don’t have any cucumbers at the moment.
The first bite had me laughing, because it tasted EXACTLY like I remember the original sandwich tasting. Which seems ridiculous, right? The original recipe included cucumber slices, not spinach leaves; and I’m pretty sure flaxseed wasn’t involved (although who knows, maybe it was). What are the odds that I would off-handedly, randomly create an accurate replica of something I haven’t eaten since last century, when all my previous attempts at the time failed? So I’m thinking one of two things happened here: either I really did manage to fairly accurately recreate that sandwich, or it’s been so long since I ate it that my taste buds were fooled by a good-enough facsimile.
Either way, I don’t really care. I’m happy to have a delicious new sandwich filling—one that has the power to transport me to Bank Street in 1999, sitting in a cafe that doesn’t exist anymore, watching the rain through the windows and thinking about that cool kitchen gadget at the Glebe Emporium I wish was within my budget.
January 16th, 2013
My favorite hat, knitted by my friend Jen
Oh hai there. Yes, I’m still alive. Just out of the habit of telling you all what I’m doing.
So…what have I been doing? Well, taking lots of sunset photos, as usual.
Annalie has also been taking sunset photos. I’d show you the photos she took, but I haven’t downloaded photos off that camera in weeks. I love Instagram along with 100 million other people, but it’s made it way too easy for me to be lazy about taking pictures with my real camera.
Homeschooling is going really well lately. Annalie mostly does her daily lessons without complaint nowadays. It probably helps that she’s almost nine years old (!), and that she can do them in a blanket fort if she wants to. Also she’s not allowed to watch any TV or movies or play any computer games until she’s done with lessons and reading and her daily chores. (It’s all about knowing what exactly motivates your particular kid. If you’d told me I couldn’t watch TV till I’d done my chores and homework, I’d have shrugged and retreated to my room with a stack of books, content.)
A lot of art is going on lately, too. Annalie always loves to draw and paint and create, but she seems to go through occasional periods when she is creating more or less constantly. It’s like she wakes up in the morning with ideas, scenes, pictures she dreamed up and she can’t do anything else until she gets them down on paper or canvas.
And then sometimes, we’re eating dinner at a restaurant where the tables are covered with paper and Annalie picks up a couple of crayons and casually whips out a portrait of Lady Gaga before our food arrives.
Annalie’s Christmas-mermaid self-portrait. (What? “Christmas-mermaid” isn’t a thing?)
I love this beach scene. There are so many amazing things going on in it: the detailed sand castle, the far-away sailboat, the plumes of smoke billowing out of the cargo ship, the different colors of blue of the water and sky, and the huge crazy sun dominating everything else.
I thought the sun in the picture went rather well with the ceramic sun—purchased by Troy in some Mediterranean country while on a deployment years ago—that hangs in our front hallway. I’d tried several different paintings and photographs in that spot, but nothing looked quite right. I framed the drawing and hung it up, and it works perfectly.
My mom gave Annalie a stack of a dozen small canvases for Christmas, and I think it might have been Annalie’s favorite gift this year. She hasn’t been hoarding them, but—atypically for her, the kid who uses every sticker on the sheet in two minutes flat—she hasn’t blown through them, either. The first time she used them, Brenda and Bug were here visiting, and she generously and excitedly shared her gift. The two canvases on the left are Bug’s; the two on the right are Annalie’s. (Re: the canvas on the top right, Bug’s real name starts with H. Awwwww.)
I think this is my favorite thing Annalie has drawn recently. She made this awesome Narnia-themed birthday card for friends who had a Narnia-themed birthday party. Look at it! Aslan, Reepicheep, Susan’s bow and arrows! The Dawn Treader! The painting in the Scrubb family’s guest bedroom that drew them back into Narnia! What really impressed me about all of this is that it’s been probably a year or more since Annalie has seen any of the Narnia movies and even longer since we read the first book. (And can you tell that Annalie has recently discovered Cake Boss on Netflix?)
Why yes, I do have two children, now that you mention it. This one is just harder to get photos of these days, because she’s constantly in motion. She is something else, this kid. When we ask her how old she is, she tells us, “Six.” If we try to insist she’s two, she shakes her head and airily replies, “I’m not two. I six,” before wandering off to climb on something she shouldn’t be climbing on.
She flashes the ASL “I love you sign” two-handed, and tells us, “I love you too!” When someone is carrying her against her will, she demands, “PICK ME DOWN.” Troy has discovered that if he reminds her to use her manners when asking for something with the phrase, “Can I get a ‘please’ in there?” then Elliora will repeat her request for food or water or whatever and tack the phrase, “please in there?” onto the end. It makes us laugh every time. She makes us laugh a lot.
They both make us laugh a lot, these little geeklings of ours.
I think we’ll keep ‘em.
I’ve crocheted a few potholders recently. Some of them I’ve given away as gifts, but these two I’m keeping because the two crocheted potholders I’d been using for years both got burned on Thanksgiving.
Some star ornaments I crocheted for Brenda and Bekah, and a few crocheted balls. I’ve actually crocheted about 20 balls recently to give as gifts, but I haven’t take pictures of them all. Yes, I said “to give as gifts.” Only about three people got timely Christmas gifts from us this year, and that’s only because I ordered their gifts online and had them shipped directly. Everyone else probably thinks we suck and don’t love them anymore. And let’s just say I’m hoping to get our holiday cards mailed out before Valentine’s Day. I won’t even mention all the Christmas baking I didn’t do this year. Ironically, however, our Christmas tree is still up. (Was it just me, or was anyone else particularly unmotivated this past holiday season?)
An owly hot pad I crocheted for Brenda, at her request. It’s meant to look kind of like her book character, Little Hoo. I think it turned out pretty good, considering I was completely making it up as I went along.
I’ve painted some stuff, too. Have I taken pictures of most of it? Noooo. In fact, one person who had commissioned me to paint her a mug, oh, a couple of months ago sent me a very sweet note on FB, wondering if her mug had been fired. I have been very, very slow about shipping items to people lately. Lucky for me, people are mostly kind and understanding about this, but I hate the fact that I’ve been taking advantage of people’s good natures. If I have been slow about shipping something to you, please accept my humble, heartfelt apology and this reassurance: I’m so sorry I’m slow. It’s not just you. Everyone has been waiting forever for their pottery. I promise I will try to do better.
I hate to end a post on that slightly bummer note, so here! Please enjoy this photo of oranges wearing origami hats, folded by Annalie. She found a book and some paper that I had and has been folding all kinds of things entirely on her own. It’s kind of awesome to watch her figure something like that out without any help.
If you were here in my house, I would further brighten your day by feeding you a piece of rainbow cake, which I made on a random Tuesday because that’s how I roll. Here’s hoping you all had wonderful holiday seasons and that 2013 is full of random-Tuesday rainbow-cake goodness for everyone.