Saturday, October 20, 2007

My New Footwear

Here are pictures of my footwear. Pretty "classy," right?


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Traffic Jam From Hell

Ok! I promised to write about the "adventure" of my 45th Class Reunion from High School! Well! Karen Weaver and I got a lot more excitement than we had expected! When we had originally-planned our road trip, we had agreed that Karen would pick me up at 11:00 AM. We would then head south on I-5 and stop for lunch at the Mitzel's restaurant in Tacoma. Karen and her daughter, Tara, had spent a weekend recently in Ocean Shores on the Washington coast and had stopped there to eat. Karen was looking forward to having another Oriental Chicken Salad, which she had enjoyed immensely. She also said their desserts were "to die for." (Note: Karen's ex-husband, Ken, managed a Mitzel's restaurant in the Seattle-area for a number of years.)

But there were "glitches" in our plans! First of all, the car rental agency did not have the car ready for pickup at 10:00 AM. Karen had to wait while they vacuumed the car before she could take it. By the time we left our house, it was already noon. But, that was OK. The Class Reunion was scheduled to start at 6:00 PM. We had lots of time! However, as soon as we entered I-5 going south, we knew we were in "Big Trouble." The traffic was not moving! Let's see--at one mile an hour--we wouldn't reach our destination until the function was over! This was the Traffic Jam to end all traffic jams! What could have happened? Finally, we managed to get one traffic report which said there had been a multiple car collision near the south Pierce county line. No details, of course! Karen called her brother, Bob, who lives in Kelso, our destination. He told us that a driver traveling north on I-5 had crossed the dividing barrier and managed to hit 6 or 7 other cars! Anyway we inched along and inched along for hours! We hadn't even left Federal Way, and it was already 3:00 PM! And, of course, Karen, who said she normally packs something to eat had not done so that day Why should she? We had thought we would be having lunch shortly after leaving my house! Just south of Federal Way, all southbound traffic was detoured going west. We had no idea where we were or where we were going! We finally saw a sign saying this was the way to the Algona-Pacific "SuperMall." Neither of us had ever been in Algona or Pacific and didn't even know they "had" a supermall! We also went through lots of other communities we had never heard of! Including one place which had a campaign sign up for someone named Larry Carney! Carney was my maiden name. I wondered if we were related! Anyway, after hours of driving and lots of turns, we somehow were heading east on our way to Puyallup! We saw signs advertising the upcoming fair there and also promoting tours of the historic Ezra Meeker mansion. Suddenly before us was the South Hill Mall! At last a place where we could have "lunch." It was 4:45 PM! Luckily they had a McDonald's! I treated Karen and myself to Southwest Salads and Hazelnut Iced Coffee. Food at last! Joy! By the time we had finished, it was 5:15 PM! We had not yet left King County, our home county! However, Karen got good directions from a service station attendant, directing us to I-5 south from there. We soon were on I-5 heading south, with a normal flow of traffic and had no further delays. We rolled into the Red Lion parking lot in Kelso at 7:23 PM! Yeah! Later, I found out that that traffic jam had lasted for 12 hours! That was a trip to remember!


Monday, August 27, 2007

The Return of the Ring

This is the surprise they promised me at my class reunion. Dagmar is a 90-year-old lady by the way. She is very ill and wanted to see this ring returned to its owner. Her wish has been fulfilled! I, of course, had forgotten that I ever owned a class ring. And, guess what? The ring still fits! lol Here's the story:
Dagmar was walking along 13th Avenue when she noticed a shiny object along the side of the road. She picked it up and discovered that it was a Kelso Senior Class ring. She advertised it in the newspaper as lost, but no one came forward to claim the ring. She even contacted the school to ask for help, but they could not do anything. So the ring sat. She was unwilling to let it go feeling that it belonged to someone who possibly treasured it. Her daughter Patty had worked for the school district for quite a few years in the Transportation Department. In the spring of 2006, she applied for and was awarded the position of Administrative Secretary for the Maintenance Dept. Dagmar would stop in from time to time and got to know Jim Livingston, her daughter's supervisor. In conversation one day, the subject of the ring came up. Jim asked if he could see it. When Dagmar brought it in, he said that he might be able to help find its owner. He did some research, and with the help of his wife, they felt sure that they had identified the owner. And the rest is history as this ring that has been lost for so many years is restored to its owner.

The Way We Were

Left to right, my sister, Linda, me, our friends and neighbors, Vicki, Rodney and Betty Rae. I was like six at the time.

Friday, July 27, 2007

My New Feet

How do you like my "space age feet"? These were fashioned just for moi--to fit my own quirky feet and even have a label on the bottom of each with not only my name but my podiatrist's name! How classy is that?

But I guess I like them so much that I overdid the "road testing" of them yesterday and ended up with a throbbing foot. Needless to say, today I am being a good girl and am staying off my feet more--to speed up the healing of the inflamed tendon in my left foot. With my "advanced" years, the podiatrist said the healing would probably take 6 months! Argh! That means I will be healed just in time for my trip to Italy in November.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

2007-2008 Italian Film Series

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

A comedy relating the tales of three very different women, all played by Sophia Loren, and their relationships with three different men, all played by Marcello Mastroianni.
119 minutes.

A trio of comedies with Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni portraying the leading roles. Each story tells how each woman uses sex in various ways to attain her desires. This film contains Loren's now-famous striptease scene. Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for 1964. 119 minutes.

Bicycle Thief

In post-war Rome an impoverished father and son search desperately for their most essential possession: their newly-purchased bicycle, stolen on the father's first day of work. 90 minutes.

An impoverished man in post-war Rome spends all his family's savings to purchase a bicycle, essential to obtain a job putting up posters. When that bicycle is stolen on his first day of work, father and son embark on a desperate journey to get it back. Directed by Vittorio De Sica, this is considered one of the most important and influential masterpieces of neo-realism. 1949 Honorary Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. 90 minutes.

Facing Window

Old relationships change; new relationships emerge. Past and present intertwine, as a young husband is drawn to a mysterious old man and his wife obsesses over the attractive neighbor viewed nightly through their front window. 106 minutes.

When a young couple meet a confused old man with a mysterious past and the wife obsesses over the attractive neighbor she views nightly through their front window, they are each drawn into new relationships which change their own. Winner: 2003 Italian Golden Globes (Best film, actor, actress) Winner: our own 2004 Seattle International Film Festival Golden Space Needle (Best film). 106 minutes.

Life is Beautiful

A celebration of the human spirit! An irrepressibly-optimistic father so loves his young son that he finds a way to protect him from the horrors of a World War II concentration camp. 116 minutes.

A unique and beguiling film that celebrates the triumph of the human spirit. A father successfully creates a world within a world to protect his young son from the horrors of the World War II concentration camp to which they have been sent. 1998 Oscars: Best Foreign Language Film, Best Male Actor in a Leading Role (Roberto Benigni.) 116 minutes.

The Nights of Cabiria

Oscar-winning Fellini film in which we follow Cabiria, a prostitute living in Rome, through her many adventures as she seeks true love but finds only disappointment. Despite this she retains her sentimentality and optimism. 110 minutes.

A powerful performance by Giullietta Masina as the waif-like prostitute, Cabiria, highlights this film. We follow her adventures on the streets of Rome as she seeks true love but finds only disappointment. However, optimism always picks her up. This film has one of the most powerful endings on film. Directed by Fellini. 1957 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. 110 minutes.

Bread and Tulips

When a disillusioned housewife is accidentally left by her family at a roadside cafe while on a bus tour, she rebels and hitchhikes to Venice. 114 minutes.

While on a bus trip with her family, a disillusioned housewife is accidentally left behind at a roadside cafe. Seeing an opportunity for a new life, she rebels and hitchhikes to Venice.
114 minutes.

Comedy in which a housewife on a bus tour with her family is "accidentally" left behind at a roadside cafe. Told by her unfaithful husband to wait for him to pick her up, she, instead, rebels and hitchhikes to Venice to begin a new life. 114 minutes.

Two Women

Sophia Loren's highly-emotional portrayal of a mother fiercely-protecting her 13-year-old daughter in World War II Italy earned her the 1961 Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. 99 minutes.

World War II Italy: Cesira and her 13-year-old daughter flee to Cesira's home village to avoid the bombings in Rome. Cesira is fiercely-protective of her daughter both on the road and in the village. But when both are raped by soldiers, Cesira suffers a breakdown. A powerful and gut-wrenching performance by Sophia Loren as the mother, earned her the Best Actress Academy Award for 1961, the first ever for any actor or actress in a non-English speaking role. 99 minutes.

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis

It is 1938 and soon brutal outside forces will render asunder the perfect life of the wealthy, Jewish family, the Finzi-Continis, who obliviously play in their lovely home with a gorgeous garden. 94 minutes.

How easy it is for the wealthy, aristocratic Jewish Finzi-Contini family to ignore the outside world of politics as they play in their large, beautiful villa with a marvelous garden, oblivious to outside forces closing in on them. It is 1938 and World War II is poised to brutally intrude upon their "perfect" life. 1971Oscar: Best Foreign Language Film. Director Vittorio De Sica's fourth and final Oscar. 94 minutes.

Golden Door

A poor Sicilian peasant family journeying to America in the crowded hold of a ship lives on hope and their "golden dreams" of a new life. 118 minutes.

The title of this movie refers to the "Golden Door" of Emma Lazarus' poem engraved on a plaque on the Statue of Liberty. Traveling in the crowded hold of a ship, a Sicilian peasant family is buoyed on their journey with promises and ecstatic dreams of anticipation of a sublime new life in America. 118 minutes.

Seven Beauties

Small-time crook and womanizer, Pasqualino, has "only" one motivation: survival! Director-Writer Lina Wermuller's masterpiece follows him through World War II battles and a German concentration camp.

In this masterpiece, written and directed by Lina Wertmuller, we follow Pasqualino, a small-time crook and womanizer--whose only motivation is to survive--through World War II battles and a German concentration camp.1976 Oscar nominations: Best Foreign Language Film, Best Director, Best Actor in a Leading Role.

The Postman

This is a moving tale of the friendship between the famous Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, exiled for political reasons, and the simple postman, Mario, hired solely to deliver Neruda's mail.

Pablo Neruda is a famous Chilean poet exiled to a small Italian island for political reasons. Mario is the simple man hired solely to deliver the huge quantities of Neruda's mail. This moving tale of their friendship shows how they learned much from each other. 1995 Oscar nominations for Best Picture and for Best Actor in a Leading Role. 113 minutes.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Seattle International Film Festival Finale

Well, the Film Festival 2007 has come to a close! It was fun, but it is nice to have quiet time at home once again. I was hoping that one of the films I had seen would have received the Golden Space Needle for this year. However, that was not to be! The winner of that was Outsourced. It sounds like a really good movie, with a Seattle connection, which I will have to see. However, I "did" see the following movies and have something to say about each of them. I feel each of them is worth seeing.

Out at the Wedding USA, 2006
This was a quirky and gentle comedy, which I enjoyed very much! It concerns a young Southern woman, living in New York City, who has recently become engaged to an African American and hasn't told her family yet. To complicate matters she has told her fiance and his parents that her entire family is dead! When she attends her little sister's wedding, a misconstrued remark leads family and friends to think she is gay. From these beginnings emerge quite a set of romantic and funny situations, with lots of amusing lines! And quite a few surprises remaining!

French for Beginners Germany/France, 2006
This was another coming of age romantic comedy, with lots of very attractive actors playing the roles. I like this one a lot, too! The main characters, Henrik, and the object of his affection, Valerie, are both very clean-cut and believable in their roles. The story is about Henrik, who wants to get to know Valerie. However, the first thing he tells her is that he loathes everything French. We then find out that her mother is French and the reason Valerie is at his school is to encourage students to take part in a German-French exchange program. To get Valerie he enrolls in the program and gets to fumble through his attempts to adapt to the French culture and language. I think this is an outstanding teen romantic comedy, which stays clear of cliches.

Noise Australia, 2007
This is a very unusual mystery set in Australia just before Christmas. A serial killer has killed seven people on a commuter train, leaving one young woman as a witness. Then a few days later the body of another woman is found. The police connect the two murders but you see very little of their investigations. The investigation is seen through the eyes of a young insecure policeman who is suffering with tinnitus (ringing in the ears). He gives his superior a doctor's note about this, hoping he will get medical compensation. Instead his superior assigns him to work in a trailer located on the peripheracy of the area of investigation. Through a background of periods of almost unbearable sound, we meet the people involved in the case and how this violence has changed their lives. This is an interesting film which makes you think but was also uncomfortable to watch in certain places. From their clever use of sound, one can really experience the horror of living with not only tinnitus but also with the aftermath of violence.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Seattle International Film Festival 2007

This year I have bought tickets to 15 films--out of 400--offered! What an ordeal in making one's choices! Very difficult, but I won't go into the torturous process! I will just list the titles with a short statement about each of the films I have seen so far.

Death at a Funeral British, 2007
This is a droll comedy. To give one a taste for what could wrong at a funeral, the first error was the delivery of the wrong corpse! Things went down hill from there! I enjoyed this film very much. I laughed from beginning to end.

Tell No One French,2006
A mystery with enough twists and turns to make one dizzy! It is about a French physician whose wife was abducted and murdered 8 years ago while vacationing at a secluded lake. He has rebuilt his life and now, new evidence emerges implicating him in his wife's death. This one kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. Recommended!

Man in the Chair USA, 2006
This is a touching coming-of-age film about a L.A. teen-ager from a broken home who is dead set on becoming a film director--without the resources of his wealthy peers. With the help of residents of a retirement home for aging Hollywood film folks and a legendary, but forgotten screenwriter, he enters a student film contest with his docu-drama about neglected 0ld-timers in nursing homes. Wonderful Oscar-worthy performances, especially by Christopher Plummer as the teen's alcoholic mentor. This was a heartwarmer that I liked very much. It was fun to see all of the older actors do their stuff again.

Love & Dance Israel, 2006
Another inspiring coming-of-age film, an Israeli "Billy Elliott," in which the main character tries to resolve the marital conflicts between his Russian-born mother and Israeli-born father through the power of dance. An uplifting ending. A sweet film that I highly recommend.

2 Days in Paris French/German, 2006.
Story about a couple--she a French photographer and he an American interior designer--who visit her parents in Paris after their European vacation. This is a comedy which I didn't find to be very funny. It must have been everyone's obsession with sex! However, Daniel Bruhl's cameo performance as a "real" fairy was priceless!

White Palms
Hungarian/French, 2006
The story of an injured Hungarian Olympian gymnast, turned coach. He has come to Canada to begin his career. His authoritarian methods appall his Western employers. However, they give him one more chance--a chance to train a brilliant, yet tempermental gymnast. This a true story acted by a real gymnast and is brilliantly-acted and photographed. I especially liked the scenes at the end where the present and his past "career" in a circus performer cut in and out.

Her Best Move USA, 2007
This a sports film, the sport being women's soccer, but is more than that. It is a gentle love story and coming-of-age film about a gifted teenage soccer star, who is torn between working to become the youngest ever member of the national hockey team (her father's dream for her) or allowing herself to grow and become a more well-rounded individual.
This is a pretty accurate depiction of the teen years. I enjoyed this one.

Hula Girls Japan, 2006
Wow! This film, based on a true story, really captured my heart! And from the applause and cheering of the other audience members, I think everyone else seemed to really enjoy it, too! This was set in 1965 Japan in a remote northern mining town which was having an economic setback after the end of the Korean War necessitated mass layoffs. To rescue the area's economy an unlikely scheme was hatched: to build a Hawaiian cultural center to attract tourists. For this many women and girls were recruited to learn the hula and a sophisticated teacher from Toyko was hired to teach them the art. This was the best of show as far as am concerned. Get it!

Getting Home China/Hong Kong 2006
This is a gentle comedy, with lots of wonderful characters--not to mention lots of lovely Chinese scenery. The story is about a Chinese man who vows to take his buddy, who has suddenly died while they were out drinking together, to their hometown for burial. The next scene shows them both on a bus, the dead man disguised as a drunk. Needless to say, his deception is revealed--due to an encounter with some robbers who attempt to hold up the bus--and Zhao and his dead buddy are kicked off the bus! What ensues is an epic and comic and resourceful journey for both! I highly-recommend this film. I just "loved" the actor who played Zhao!

The Life of Reilly USA 2006
This film is the autobiography of the actor, Charles Nelson Reilly, and was filmed from his last two performances of a monologue which he staged under the title of Save It for the Stage. It proves my theory that, out of much pain, often comes great comedy! I enjoyed this film very, very much and am glad to hear a three-hour uncut version will be coming out late this year. I highly recommend this one!

A Parting Shot France/Switzerland 2007
This is the story of a young woman who is seriously depressed because she is estranged from her father, broken up with her boyfriend and does not find satisfaction in her job as a nurse. She, a champion marksman, therefore, decides to shoot herself. She takes her rifle to the woods, is about to shoot herself but, just before she is going to do this, she is distracted and annoyed by two quarreling teenage boys passing by and impulsively shoots at them, wounding one in the knee. She then runs off and tries to forget about the incident. When her victim is admitted to her hospital and she is assigned to nurse him, she is challenged in her relationship with him. For some reason, I did not "like" this young woman and couldn't feel sympathy for her. I didn't like this film.

Ballets Russes USA 2005
This is a wonderful documentary chronicling the rise and fall of the Ballet Russe from its beginnings in Paris in the late 1920's until its demise in the 1950s. With all of the vintage film footage of the fantastic ballets with elaborate costumes and scenery, plus interviews with the stars of the company, you are transported to the inside world of the ballet. Many of the stars--now in their 80's and 90's--were still dancing and teaching. This was such fun! I really enjoyed "getting to know" such fabulous and eccentric personalities. They demonstrate how the love of their art has kept them eternally young! This will soon be available as a DVD. It is a "must have."

More to come . . .