Saturday, June 26, 2004

Judy and I went to see THE TERMINAL yesterday. We liked it a lot. Another winning performance by Tom Hanks, but the rest of the cast was terrific as well. (My main complaint is that Catherine Zeta-Jones wasn't in the movie enough.) The movie was a welcome change from the slam-bang summer movies we usually see. No car chases, no explosions. Just a cast of characters that you can care about, going about their daily lives. Stanley Tucci is the villain, except that villain is much too strong a word. I'm not sure how Tucci does it, but he does it very well. There are plenty of laughs, but there's no straining for them, and some of the best jokes are the quiet ones. Judging from the box-office receipts, the movie's a flop. I guess everybody wants car chases and slapstick. But for me this is one of the best movies of the year so far.

Friday, June 25, 2004

A good while back Richard Moore gave a big thumbs' up to Roger Torrey's 42 DAYS FOR MURDER on rara-avis. I'd heard about the book before and wanted to read it, so when it turned up on eBay, I nabbed a copy.

Torrey is one of those BLACK MASK writers like Paul Cain about whom not much is known. There's no mention of him in my editions of 20TH CENTURY CRIME AND MYSTERY WRITERS. He wrote a number of short stories for BLACK MASK, but only one novel.

The book is fast-paced, which you'd expect from a BLACK MASK GUY, and there's a bit of forced humor that might not have seemed so forced back in the day. But I didn't really see the point of the narrator's teen-aged partner. He doesn't do much to advance the story, and his "romance" didn't amuse me. The plot seems simple: a man whose wife has gone to Reno for a divorce wants the p.i. to find out why. Naturally it gets a lot more complicated, and the resolution is pretty hard to believe. That being said, I enjoyed reading the novel. Breezy narration, some interesting characters that are more complex than you might have thought at the beginning, and a brisk pace. Not a classic, maybe, but worth looking for if you like the old pulpsters. And I do.
Jayme Lynn Blaschke's Gibberish: "I am, quite simply, astonished. I had no idea an archaeological discovery of this magnitude would be possible anywhere in the world, much less in the United States. I seriously considered going into anthropology/archaeology in college, so this Range Creek find gets my blood pumping. By golly, there's the remains of an entire civilization dating back 3,000 years in Utah: Rancher keeps ancient Indian settlement secret for 50 years

Hidden deep inside Utah's nearly inaccessible Book Cliffs region, 130 miles from Salt Lake City, the prehistoric villages run for 12 miles and include hundreds of rock art panels, cliffside granaries, stone houses built halfway underground, rock shelters, and the mummified remains of long-ago inhabitants.

The site was occupied for at least 3,000 years until it abandoned more than 1,000 years ago, when the Fremont people mysteriously vanished."

So I learn this morning from Jayme Blaschke's blog that there's been a huge archelological find in Utah that I hadn't heard about. I'm almost as excited as Jayme about this, so went to the source just to be sure that Jayme wasn't kidding. He wasn't. And according to the article, the site remains "virtually untouched by looters." Actually, it's many sites, "pristine" according to people who've been there, and just like they were 4500 years ago. Astonishing. The former owner had owned the land since 1951 and allowed very limited access. He didn't sell stuff off piecemeal, and he kept his secret very close. That something like this could turn up in 2004 is almost beyond belief. Restores my faith in Romance.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

I got up this morning at the usual time, primed for a run. But it's raining, and it's been raining ever since I got out of bed. When I was younger, I didn't mind running in the rain, and I've actually been out in some terrific downpours. When we lived in Brownwood, in fact, I'd go out even in the snow and freezing rain. I remember coming in with a belt of ice around my waist and icicles hanging from the brim of my hat. These days, it just doesn't seem worth it. Just another sign that I'm getting old, I guess.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

When I go to fun runs, which I don't do much these days, I get passed by men, women, kids, and the occasional snail (and yes, Dave Barry fans, I'm aware that The Occasional Snail would be a great name for a rock band).

Here's a definition, or rather a distinction, that I read years ago. It still works for me:

Jogging: Your speed or slower.
Running: My speed or faster.

Monday, June 21, 2004

OK, probably no one with a smidgen of self-respect would admit to having watched HOOTENANNY HOOT on TMC last night. But since I'm widely known to have no self-respect at all, I might as well say that I not only watched it but that I enjoyed it besides.

The plot pretty much sucks, so I won't bother to mention it. It's the musical numbers that matter, and what you get are a bunch of lip-synching folkies from 1963. And a few rockabillies thrown in for good measure.

The folkies include Joe and Eddie (for me, the standout number of the movie is their "There's a Meetin' Here Tonight"), Judy Henske (another standout is her "Wade in the Water"), the Brothers Four, and the Gateway Trio. The moviemakers had no clue what to do with Henske, so the staging of her scenes is almost an embarrassment. But her voice really carries the day. The Johnny Cash scene was also good. Cash was very cool.

As for the rest of the movie, the cars and the hair-do's were great. And so were Ruta Lee's lounging pyjamas. Hubba-hubba!

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Once again I'm slightly bitter about an eBay purchase. Well, not about the purchase but about the old shipping and handling rip-off. I bought three magazines from the same guy, and he's charging me $5.00 to mail them by media mail. It'll cost him $1.42. Now I know he has to wrap'em and go to the P.O., but the $5.00 seems excessive to me. He could send them first class for that amount. Less than that, actually. Oh, well.