Letters to Holly

Monday, June 4

A Lot Actually

The weather was nice enough Friday for us to eat outside Jason's on Main Street. I like drinking Bass Ale on what amounts to a front porch while tourists wander by.

On Saturday, after Your Sister filed grades at school while I did laundry and ran a 5k. I went back to the college and again ran 3 miles within 30 minutes. I didn't have a talk podcast to work with this time, but the random music playlist helped quite a bit:

Welcome to the Black Parade -- My Chemical Romance
(such a good running song, I replayed it immediately)
Jive Talkin' -- Bee Gees
Head Like A Hole -- Nine Inch Nails
Four Leaf Clover -- Abra Moore
Battle of the Planets theme
a KRS One/Celtic music mashup
La Discoteque -- The United States Of Electronica
Come On Home -- Franz Ferdinand

And just like that, I was done. I tried to keep going, but it grew hot very quickly, and I didn't want to hurt myself. I'd like to do this at least twice a week, and I bet I could do it everyday if I made myself.

We ate again at the new steakhouse diner, which is as close to a Japanese Waffle House as you'll find, but the food is great. We rented two films, and watched one that night.

Tristram Shandy is an odd duck. I'm not sure it even qualifies as a movie. Half of the film is an adaptation of the novel; the second half is a mockumentary of the making of the adaptation. I can't even say I liked it. It's smart and funny (Your Sis was laughing out loud very early), and it has quiet, real moments of backstage interaction. But it doesn't feel like a finished product. Maybe it needs another 20 minutes to simmer. It also has the cinema verite comedy of both versions of "The Office," a style that leaves me bored and shrugging.

Stranger Then Fiction, however, may be my new favorite movie. It shouldn't work at all. At first blush, this is The Truman Show, complete with a noted funnyman trying to play it straight. I'm no fan of Will Farrell's continued use of blithe confidence shouted long and loud. And he is clearly the least interesting character in this film. I can't tell if he is purposefully trying to be bland or if he cannot muster intriguing, normal reactions. Literally, anyone can play this role, and the movie would be the same. But the film has two things in its favor:

1) A fantastic script. This is a film about writing, and it may be the best film about writing I've seen, surpassing possibly Adaptation. As the story unfolds, we can clearly see the script refers to its own efforts to make a story work. And when the movie is over, the finished product stands as a work much smarter than I gave it credit for. I rooted for it to make the pieces fit, and it does. It does very well.

2) Emma Thompson. Without her, this film withers. She plays the writer narrating Farrell's life and flummoxed with a satisfying manner to kill him off. While Maggie Gyllenhaal is incredibly adorable and Dustin Hoffman equally intelligent and comfortably odd, Emma makes this movie work. She is the core of the film, not Farrell. It's her struggle that emerges as the central churning. Queen Latifa, like farrell, is just there.

It should be noted that the DVD packaging does absolutely nothing to properly sell the movie. It's bland and simple and cheerful, and it prepares you to see a similar film. But this is a lovely, intelligent movie that establishes its own rules of progression without breaking them later. It's a standout film, and had I any idea, I would have watched it in the theatre and cried my eyes out.

Unfortunately, Your Sis became violently ill this weekend. She was flattened by severe vomiting and stayed home from work today. I think the worst is over. Apparently, this is a bug flying around the school, and now we wonder if I'll get it too. I hovered over her (from a polite distance) all of yesterday. We watched a little bit of the miniseries of Stephen King's "The Stand," and, holy cow, it doesn't hold up at all.

Potatoes of the Day
The garden is getting greener. They're about five inches tall at most, and they're almost halfway to harvest time. We're managing to grow something edible on purpose. We're stunned. None of the neighborhood animals have bothered them. I guess cats and dogs don't eat potatoes.

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