I had somebody read about the cat feeding station I built (I needed a way to clean the cats' eating area easily), then email me to ask just how messy Jenny could be when eating. The answer is... very. She loves loves love wet food, but she won't bite it. She always licks it. Problem is that she barely gets any in her mouth that way, so I bought a small blender so I can liquify her half of the wet food for every meal. That way she can lick it all up and be happy as a clam.
After she's done eating it looks like a murder scene or something...
That was after last night's dinner. This was after this morning's breakfast...
I always clean it after breakfast, though in the summer I usually clean it after breakfast and dinner because I don't want to attract bugs.
Is it a lot of trouble? Yes. Would my life be easier if I fed my cats only dry food instead of dry and wet? Sure. But I love my cats entirely too much, and this is what you do to keep them happy.
They're totally worth any amount of trouble...
Last night I watched my two Quarantino movies after I had blogged for the day, so I'm going to plop them right here. My double feature was Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight...
Django Unchained is one of my all-time favorite movies. Period. It's a really cool flick filled with terrific characters and fantastic performances by everybody involved. Easily my favorite movie each from Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio, the biggest surprise was Samuel L. Jackson playing one of the most loathsome characters in cinematic history. He is vile. Christoph Waltz didn't have the exceptional material that rocketed him to stardom in Inglourious Bastereds, but he makes the most of his every scene.
My least favorite Tarantino film is Death Proof... not because I don't like it (on the contrary, I love it), but because the rest of his films are just so amazing. The Hateful Eight is in the same boat, coming in just ahead of Death Proof. I love it... and if it were in any other list it would come out near the top... but in a list for Tarantino is comes out near bottom just because some movie has to. This movie is more subtle all the way around, giving us a closed-door mystery with some decent intrigue and stellar performances. It's also one of the most beautifully-shot Tarantino film with the second best red herring in "The Lincoln Letter" (#1 would be "The Briefcase" from Pulp Fiction).
And now all that's left is Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which I will be watching tonight.
After which I will have to resist the urge to watch all of Tarantino's movies all over again.
I worked extra hours over the weekend and through Wednesday so I could take the rest of the week off. It's time for my seasonal cleaning ordeal to prepare for Spring houseguests. This year, thanks to COVID-19 quarantining, I won't be having any houseguests until June or July, at earliest, but I still want to get a jump on my filthy home.
Well... it's filthy to me. It's not like I ever let my house get overrun with dirt and grime. It's just the little things that bug me. Walls need to be wiped down... rooms need to be torn apart so I can scrub the floors... books and furniture needs to be pulled out and cleaned... windows need to be washed... that kind of thing. I decided today I would jump on the kitchen when I fed the cats at 7:00am, then work my way to the living room.
I went back to bed after feeding Jake and Jenny, then slept and lounged aroud until 10:00am. Then ate a late breakfast. Then read a book on world mythology.
I wanted to beat myself up over wasting half my day, but I so rarely get time to do what I want that I decided to congratulate myself instead. Cleaning can commence tomorrow.
Originally I was going to have my Quarantino Double Feature be Tarantino's Grindhouse: Death Proof with Robert Rodriguez's Grindhouse: Planet Terror (since they were originally released that way), but I was anxious to get to Inglourious Basterds, so I resisted...
Now, Death Proof is just an excuse to have a car chase with tons of stunts worked into it. There's not a lot of brainpower that the viewer has to summon. Kurt Russell is a sadistic bastard who picks a fight with the wrong women. Zoë Bell, cars, and violence ensue. Surprisingly, as is the case with most of Tarantino's films, dickhead reviewers based their critiques on what the film WAS NOT instead of WHAT IT IS. Go in with the proper mindset, and it's just a fun thrill ride that's a terrific movie experience to have. Go in expecting Shakespeare and you're just an idiot. Not my favorite Tarantino flick, but I do like it a lot.
Inglourious Basterds, on the other hand, is escapist revisionist history cinematic genius. I love this film to an unhealthy degree. I've seen it at least twenty times. After Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill, it's likely my favorite Quentin film. But there are days I like Basterds better than both of them. From the gorgeous cinematography and brilliant performances to the fantastical story and crackling dialogue. It's the complete Tarantino package all wrapped up in a war movie, and an experience I never get tired of. God bless Christof Waltz for giving Quentin his movie.
And God bless us all as the Coronavirus death toll keeps climbing. Due to our complete lack of preparation and our government completely ignoring and denying what was happening, the deaths here in the USA yesterday were double the worst daily death toll from the flu. And we're just getting started. The highly contagious nature of COVID-19 along with extended incubation period and overall lethalness... not to mention dumbass governors who are still not quarantining the public at large to prevent spreading... are all going to make sure of it.
My mom loved peanut butter. She would be happy to eat a peanut butter sandwich for lunch and dinner every day. When her memory was failing her, I saw her eat them for breakfast on more than one occasion. Whenever she was bored and hungry, a peanut butter sandwich was her go-to snack. I once remember her laughing while reading an article out loud to me which had somebody saying that peanut butter breaks down after three months and shouldn't be eaten. For a jar of peanut butter to last her more than two weeks was a rarity.
After I had to move her out of the house, I threw out a jar with a few spoonfuls left in the bottom and stopped buying peanut butter.
That was almost four years ago.
Yesterday when I was buying groceries for a friend's mom, one of the items on her list was peanut butter. It sounded delicious after so long not having it, so I bought a jar. Mom preferred creamy JIF, but she would buy Extra Crunchy JIF too because she was happy to eat it as an occasional change of pace and knew that it was what I preferred.
And, oh yeah, that loaf of bread I bought yesterday? I thought I would try the new Franz "Keto" bread in case I couldn't find flour to bake my own. But before I stuck the loaf in the the freezer, I pulled out two slices and put them in a baggie to give it a try with lunch today. People were raving about the stuff, so why not? Well, to start with, there's the $6 price tag. Secondly, the loaf is a small.
Turns out there's a third reason why not... it tastes like crap.
Maybe it's because I'm used to the delicious breads I bake, but this dry, tasteless, boring "Keto" bread was awful. Don't get me wrong... if you can't have carbs, it's definitely better than nothing... but I will not be buying it again, that's for sure. Even when loaded with tons of Extra Chunky JIF peanut butter I had a tough time choking it down.
As tonight is my third night of Quentin Quarantino I watched the next two films in his catalog... Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2...
Likely one of the most stylish revenge flicks ever put to film, Kill Bill features Uma Thurman hacking her way through her former fellow assassins until she gets to her former boss, Bill. It's a brilliant and bloody spectacle with amazing fight sequences. The movie features cool wire-work which gives it a magical quality... but not so much that it feels surreal. The dialogue is pure Tarantino and, because he decided to cut the movie in two rather than cut down on the dialogue, it makes for a good balance.
Like the balance between my delicious homemade bread and this here JIF peanut butter I'm eating while blogging.
Can't believe I waited four years.
I have enough groceries to last another two or three weeks. Probably longer. I may be eating pasta with frozen vegetables and cheese for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but I will survive just fine. My cats have enough prescription food for another month. I also have two bags of "regular" dry food with a year left on the expiration date (which I keep on-hand for emergencies), so Jake and Jenny are good.
Because I've got food for a while I hadn't planned on a grocery store run... until I got a call from a friend in Seattle. They were wondering if I was headed to the store any time soon and, if I was, could I please pick up some things for their elderly mother who can't risk going to the store due to health concerns in our new COVID-19 Reality. I could drop them on her back porch and they would happily Venmo me money to cover the cost.
And so... off to the grocery store for me.
I figured that since I was going, I might as well cash in a bunch of Safeway Monopoly Instant Winner Free Product Tickets and Instant Winner Discount Coupons I won before they expire. I would also pick up ingredients I need to make more of my mom's Applesauce Bread...
Well, silly me, the four things I needed were all out of stock. They did have applesauce and walnuts, but they were the tiny containers which cost a fortune, so I passed.
The lack of flour had me concerned about not being able to bake bread for much longer, so I ended up buying a loaf that I could freeze. I also bought Coke Zero, Lay's Potato Chips, and Quaker Brand Chocolate Rice Cakes. They are not things I need, but they are things I want. Surprisingly, produce was in good supply so I picked up some onion, garlic, cilantro, scallions, tomatoes, and tomatillos to add some nice variety to my meal planning.
Plus I bought two apples, just because it would be nice to have a fresh fruit treat in the face of armageddon.
The store had everything on my friend's mom's list except paper towels and toilet paper, of course, but I had some extra rolls to stick in with her groceries so it was all good. Most of the things she wanted were prepared foods like soups and boxed/frozen meals, all of which were in good supply.
Atmosphere at the store was generally cheery. People didn't seem overly-angsty or angry. A few people with facemasks and gloves and everybody trying to keep their distance... but otherwise it was just like any other shopping day.
Except I won free AAA batteries, free cooking spray, and a free sesame bagel playing Safeway Monopoly, so that was a bonus. And these days I'll take as many bonuses as I can get, thanks.
Tonight I continued my Quentin Tarantino movie marathon, but I watched only one Tarantino film, Jackie Brown. That way I can have Kill Bill parts 1 and 2 as a double feature tomorrow night...
Jackie Brown is an adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel Rum Punch, a book I ran out and bought immediately after finding out it was the basis for this amazing movie. Surprisingly, the movie follows the book fairly closely. There's some elements jettisoned from the secondary characters out of necessity, but Jackie's story is pretty much left intact. She's an airline flight attendant running drugs for the wrong people and just trying to get by in life and get out of a life of crime. It's really smart and surprisingly funny in spots. What's nice about reading the book after seeing the movie is that you can imagine Tarantino's version of the characters while you read plus get additional details as to everybody's back-story and motivations. Rum Punch is a sequel to another Elmore Leonard novel called The Switch, which is also very much worth reading (which could be said of most everything Leonard ever wrote).
And because the prequel to Jackie Brown was The Switch and because that book had been adapted into a movie called Life of Crime (starring Jennifer Aniston and Tim Robbins), I decided to watch it to complete my double feature since I hadn't seen it before (iTunes $7.99)...
Surprisingly, it's a decent movie! I mean, not Jackie-Brown-level-great, but still worth a look. The plot is the same as Ruthless People in that a wealthy woman is kidnapped and held for ransom only to have an adulterer husband who wants her dead anyway and refuses to pay. Ordell Robie is played by Mos Def instead of Samuel L. Jackson... and Louis Gara is played by John Hawkes instead of Robert DeNiro... so there's a considerable adjustment you have to make mentally, and yet there are certainly worse actors you could have cast as younger versions of the originals! The movie is definitely worth a watch if you're a fan of Elmore Leonard and Jackie Brown (though I thought Ruthless People was more entertaining).
And now I think it's time for a crisp apple and a Quaker Brand Chocolate Rice Cake to top off my evening's events. Good thing I ended up at the grocery store today.
I am still lucky enough to have work to do, which means my days aren't quite as boring as they could be (knock wood). But, like everybody else, it is a little tough not being able to hang out with my friends. March is usually a month where I spend a lot of time traveling to see friends... going out with local friends... working on projects with friends... and it's just all... gone.
I'm spending some of my extra time cleaning and getting projects completed around the house, which is always a good thing. I'm also playing some Animal Crossing: New Horizons and catching up on television shows. I've also been checking to-do's off like list like cutting my hair, baking bread, washing windows, repairing clothes, and getting ready for planting my flower beds (assuming that's something I get to do this year).
But there's also something I've been meaning to do for years that I've never found the time for... watching all of Quentin Tarantino's films in the order he made them. He's my favorite director and I can't watch his films enough times. So tonight I've decided to wrap up my March Foreign Film Festival and watch two Tarantino films a night until I've run through them all.
Tonight was a double feature of Resevoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction (I am saving True Romance and Natural Born Killers until the very end since he wrote them but did not direct)...
It's interesting seeing how Tarantino's story and dialogue were equally excellent in both films... but how his directing game improved quite a bit. Pulp Fiction is so incredibly polished and beautiful to watch because so many points were conceived and implemented so incredibly well.
Not that he had a ton of room for improvement. Resevoir Dogs is about as perfect a debut movie as you'll ever find. Almost unbelievably so.
If only I could say the same about my debut blog post.
My favorite director is Quentin Tarantino.
I love every one of his films, and the fact that he writes his own material is just icing on the cake. His encyclopedic knowledge of cinema gives him the perfect toolbox for creating perfect movies. He knows what works and what doesn't work, and puts only the stuff that works into his art. The only thing I don't like about Quentin Tarantino is his long-standing proclamation that he is stopping after ten films. I hope he ends up ignoring that and only stops when he feels he's done, because I can't believe somebody with his talent and success could ever just... stop.
Which brings us to his 9th film... Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which was just released on digital. As with all of his movies, I absolutely loved it...
Spoiler Alert. There are spoilers below.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is the story of Rick Dalton (perfectly captured by Leonardo DiCaprio) a fading star who had a famous TV show in the 50's called Bounty Law... along with his best friend and stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt being as amazing as ever). As his career eventually becomes playing a series of bad guys in movies... and a run of Italian Westerns... he has to grapple with the approaching end of his career and an uncertain future. At the same time, Dalton and Booth have the misfortune of becoming entangled with The Manson Family during the Summer of Love thanks to Dalton's home being next door to Roman Polanski and his wife Sharon Tate.
At this point you need to know that, in real life, Sharon Tate (who was 8 months pregnant) and the friends who were staying with her were murdered by Manson's followers at her home.
But in Tarantino's alternate history accounting of events, the Manson followers recognize Rick Dalton and decide to kill him instead. Unfortunately for them, they proceed to be brutally killed by Cliff Booth and Booth's dog (and Rick Dalton with a flamethrower). It's glorious. Much in the same way I loved to see Hitler and his brigade of upper-echelon Nazi fucks get brutally murdered in Inglourious Basterds, it's pure cinematic joy to see the Manson pieces of shit get the tables turned on them and get killed in the most painful, horrendous ways possible.
They call that cinematic justice. Which is a nice departure from the world we live in.
And that's the movie.
It's not as complex a narrative as the time shifts in Pulp Fiction or Kill Bill, but this allows Quentin to be laser-focused on the characterization, which is pretty close to his best yet. And a film I highly recommend, if you're so inclined.
And because it's bound to be asked by somebody, here is where I rank the nine films of Quentin Tarantino (that he both wrote and directed)...
In reality, they are all #1 films to me. The only reason I can rank the movies at all is because there are specific things that register in my head for many of them. Pulp Fiction was the first Tarantino movie I saw. Kill Bill had some of the most remarkable fight scenes of all time. Inglourious Basterds and its revisionist history blew my mind, Jackie Brown was sublimely character-driven with a fun twist... that kind of thing. And any time I re-watch Jackie Brown it becomes my #1 film for a few weeks just because Pam Grier is flawless.
Rumor has it that Quentin Tarantino is working on a Star Trek film. I have no idea how it will fit in with the various Star Trek properties... perhaps it won't, which would be fantastic because Tarantino could just go nuts and do a true Quentin Tarantino film that heads wherever his imagination takes him. I'm not sure this if this is what I'd want to be his final motion picture... if, indeed, he sticks to his ten-and-done promise, but I'll take what I can get.
Tarantino has yet to go wrong in my book.
Blergh. Muh head is assploding on Buwett Swunday! Sinus infections suck.
• Oscar. Look, I liked The Hurt Locker as much as anybody (I saw it twice in theaters and bought the Blu-Ray), but winning Best Original Screenplay over Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds? What the hell? I can see The Hurt Locker taking Best Picture over Basterds, I'm right there with that... but Screenplay?? Seriously? It's things like this that makes me want to swear off ever watching the Academy Awards each year.
• Can't. I have had at least a dozen people tell me that I need to see The Cove which just won Best Documentary. I love films of all kinds and am a huge fan of documentaries, but I cannot watch anything where dolphins are slaughtered. That's a weakness I'm perfectly willing to live with...
• Strange. Katheryn Bigelow was well-known to me long before she directed The Hurt Locker. Mostly because of this poster which has hung on my bedroom wall for the past 13 years...
Her movie Strange Days is one of my all-time favorite films. Written by (her then husband?) James Cameron, it's just cool entertainment. It has a great cast (I fell hopelessly in love with Angela Bassett after this performance), a really good story, an intriguing premise, and most everything else I love about the movies. The fact that it was so beautifully directed was just icing on the cake. All I can do is hope that the Oscar win for Kathryn Bigelow will mean we finally get a release of Strange Days on Blu-Ray.
As an added bonus, Kathryn Bigelow also directed a movie in 2000 called The Weight of Water starring the incomparable Elizabeth Hurley... TOPLESS!! I owe Kathryn Bigelow a massive debt for that astounding moment of brilliance in cinematic history, so congratulations on your Academy Awards!
• Teaser. The stupid-ass "teasers" that television news shows do during commercial breaks are getting more and more asinine. Shows like "Entertainment Tonight" always waste time before taking a break telling you what's coming up after the break. It's stupid, but nobody cares because it's not like you'll die if you miss anything on "Entertainment Tonight." You can, however, die from missing something on the news...
"And this just in... another big auto-maker launching a recall. We'll show you what cars pose a risk for your safety this time! It's eleven minutes of uninterrupted news at 11:00 on KIRO 7... tonight!"
Yes, let's not just come out and say which cars might kill you as a public service in the name of safety... instead let's keep it a secret so we can whore out our shitty local news program. Whatever.
And now my sinuses are smooshing into my brain, so I should probably go to bed.
My head-cold only lasted 24 hours, but the resulting sinus infection is ongoing. Yesterday the pain was so bad that I had to leave work early, which meant that my planned half-day of work today turned into a full-day of work. I wouldn't have minded so much, except the weather outside was so beautiful. It makes me miss my motorcycle.
Of course, right now what I really miss is having the energy to stay out of bed all day. The antibiotics really wipe me out, so pretty much all I can do is work and sleep. This is a darn shame, because I've got a to-do list a mile long before I start traveling again in two weeks.
Hopefully I'll have the energy to make it through The Oscars tomorrow night...
In general, I find The Oscars to be a load of crap, but it still makes for an interesting evening of television.
My "best movie" last year was Star Trek. For sheer entertainment value, I just can't seem to get enough of it. But it wasn't nominated for Best Picture, so I'd probably have to go with Inglourious Basterds, followed closely by District 9 and The Hurt Locker which were all amazing films. So was Moon but it wasn't nominated either. The odds of Inglourious Basterds winning Best Picture are slim, but I think it's a lock for Best Original Screenplay (and deservedly so).
As far as Best Director, I think that Kathryn Bigelow nailed it with Hurt Locker, but I wouldn't be unhappy if James Cameron got it, because his fingerprints are on every frame of Avatar, which is a magnificient achievement in filmmaking. And, of course, I'm not going to have any complaints if Quentin Tarantino wins. Ever.
I don't care about any of the actor categories except Best Supporting Actor for Christoph Waltz. His incredible performance in Inglourious Basterds is about as Oscar-worthy a role as you will ever see.
Speaking of Inglourious Basterds, it's my pick for Best Editing. Quentin's films are always paced impeccably, and the way the various storylines are so perfectly woven together in the editing room is a testament to Tarantino's vision.
The Best Animated Feature Film I saw last year was probably Up, which had a really good story behind it (though I thought the actual "traditional" animation on either Ponyo or The Secret of Kells was the best of the lot). That being said, I also enjoyed Fantastic Mr. Fox, Coraline, and Princess and the Frog so I'd be happy with any of them winning. As for Best Animated Short, that clearly has to go to Nick Park for his Wallace & Gromit short A Matter of Loaf and Death.
Art Direction and Visual Effects are clearly Avatar's to win. This is the future of filmmaking, and has opened entirely new worlds in movies.
I'd give Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Makeup to Star Trek on principle.
The other categories I don't have enough information to make an opinion on.
Of course, this is The Oscars, so I'll be lucky if even one of my picks is actually a winner. But there you have it.
My day wasn't spent wandering around Denver as planned... but working.
I did get out for a quick walk down the 16th Street Mall in the afternoon, but the heat eventually drove me back to my air-conditioned hotel for still more work. And though I didn't finish nearly enough of what I needed to get done, I finally threw in the towel around 4:30.
Because it was time to meet up with Tug, Hot Doctor's Wife, and Howard at the Hard Rock Cafe for Daveorado!
As usual, good conversation and good times ensued. That I get to continuously meet amazing people like this in my travels is a gift for which I'm wholly inadequate at expressing my gratitude. All I can say is thanks to the three of you for taking valuable time out of your Saturday to let me hang out with you. Hopefully it won't be another six years before I am able to come back!
After dinner, Howard and I decided to get our Tarantino on and see Inglourious Basterds. The film was total genius, and I loved every minute of it. Particularly shocking to me was how amazing Brad Pitt is in the flick... this is easily his best performance since 12 Monkeys. But the hands-down standout, scene-stealing role in the film belonged to Christoph Waltz's brilliant portrayal of Col. Hans Landa. The guy had to walk a very fine line to get just the right balance of humor and terror, and did it so admirably that the film was elevated to an entirely new level of greatness...
I have no idea how Quentin Tarantino does it. He always manages to write exactly the right dialogue, then cast exactly the right actors to speak it, then direct the entire film flawlessly, then pick precisely the right music to drive it all home. I don't think "visionary" manages to adequately express how astounding a talent he is when it comes to crafting a film, but it's the best word I can think of to describe what it is he does.
Which, in this case, is to create a film that has many levels, yet blends them all so subtly that they disappear into a singular brute-force narrative. By the time we get to the film-within-a-film theater scenes (which seem to be a thinly-veiled commentary on all the killing that the audience has been manipulated into rooting for thus far), all I can do is shake my head in disbelief that any one man can possess such talent...
I can hardly way to see what Quentin comes up with next.