Print Story I am not handy
Movie Talk: Shopgirl, Memoirs of a Geisha, A Prairie Home Companion
Misc. Wedding Planning Stuff
Question: Groomsmen Gifts
Crazy Work Stuff
Diplomatic Correspondence from Civilization IV
House Projects: How I learned nothing and feel like a boob.


I saw Shop Girl recently.  I was looking forward to this movie but sadly it ended up being one of those movies that I can see critics loving, but it just didn’t feel fully flushed out to me.

I felt like they tried to get the point across that these characters are boring people . . . for a great deal of the movie.   I am not a movie maker so I wouldn’t know how to tell an audience that a character or two are not particularly exciting or remarkable.  I’m also not sure it takes as many scenes as Shopgirl took. 

The character of Mirabelle might be more interesting if the movie didn’t avoid telling us anything about her for fear of making her interesting.  How did she get from Vermont to L.A.?  How long has she been there?  Besides her drawings what does she do with her free time?  What is she thinking?  What do she and Ray talk about when they’re together?

The character of Jeremy is so totally dysfunctional that it’s almost hard to believe he exists at first, and by the end of the of the film the character isn’t much more believable.  The character of Ray seemed lifeless.  Almost like some “man not in touch with his feelings” cliché.

The cinematography is beautiful but often distracting.  It seemed like every other scene was supposed to be a heavily Photoshoped photograph.  There is something to be said for saving the heavy handed filters and such for key scenes.  Movies like Traffic where they go crazy with the cinematography can work, but I think quiet scenes sometimes require a lighter touch.

Other parts of the film like the seemingly pointless conversation between Mirabelle and someone at what seems like a bank, and the reason for the final scene are such obvious plot devices that they’re a bit disappointing.

The narration during the final scene sort of pulls the movie back up on its feet, but even that seems a bit heavy handed and honestly I don’t think the Ray character came across in the film the way the narration describes him.

The movie was taken from a story written by Steve Martin so at least that gives me hope that the original story was a bit more flushed out than the movie.  Little things like some meaningful conversations between the characters might have made everyone seem less robotic.   We know they’re lonely, but it seems in the movie they’re lonely because they don’t say much.

All in all not a bad movie, but there were too many things that I felt didn’t work.  I give it 1.88 out of 3.14.

A side note.  I don’t care about L.A.  I know Steve Martin does, and I know folks in Hollywood think that everyone outside L.A. wants to know more about L.A., wants to move to L.A., and generally needs movies to take place in L.A.  Someone please tell them we don’t.

Memoirs of a Geisha

Take some good actors and actresses, add some material that baits you into thinking there might be more to this film than you see on the surface, and then mix in a painfully predicable plot.  The post war sequences and the ending made me want to claw my eyes out.  I can’t imagine why I watched this whole film.  Something that I can’t put my hand on kept me interested but the more I think about the film the less I liked it.  1.57 out of 3.14.

A Prairie Home Companion

This is the first time I went to a movie in the theater since March of the Penguins.  A Prairie Home Companion was an OK film except that the whole “lady in white” concept felt awkward and Tommy Lee Jones’s walk on appearance was one too many famous actors in the film.  If a famous actor or actress doesn’t establish their character I tend to find them distracting, more so when there is an entire horde of them.   Kevin Kline did alright except that wasn’t how imagined Guy Noir, and I thought making him a security guard seemed nearly as weird as the lady in white.

It was an ok film, probably better if you’re familiar with Minnesota and the actual A Prairie Home Companion radio show.  2.19 out of 3.14.

The Wedding Nears

The wedding date nears (three weeks I think), miscellaneous conflicts mostly involving the well meaning but unnecessarily panic ridden mother of the bride pop up here and there.  Aside from that things are moving along and even the panicky mother of the bride can be tolerated as they are paying for most everything.  I estimate that if I were paying I would be working an insane number extra hours for every minute I’m dealing with the panicky mother of the bride in terms of money.  Fine by me.

One unpredictable wrinkle has involved the older sister of the bride.  She is a level headed lady and has often selectively brandished many of the “wedding traditions” in order to keep the mother of the bride in check.  Oddly she recently riled up mother of the bride with the theory that all “out of town guests” should be invited to the rehearsal dinner.

My bride and I have never heard of this tradition and we figure this comes from the older sister’s recent experiences going to insanely extravagant weddings, ah la Martha Stewart.   Fortunately, that wrinkle was quickly ironed out when the older sister agreed that since the groom’s parents were planning the rehearsal dinner they should make the call.  The rehearsal dinner is again the small affair that we wanted, the only small thing in this wedding other than the bride.

Things I have learned:

Never make your own invitations by hand (duh).
Start making invitations ASAP.
Do not marry until your in-laws are dead.
Kill your in-laws if they’re not dead and you want to get married, unless they’re going to pay for much of it, then you’re going to have to take the bad with the good.

Things I have left to do:

Call and confirm wedding night hotel, honeymoon hotel, airplane reservations.  Figure out what all this “e-ticket” airplane ticket madness is.
Purchase groomsmen gifts.
Buy more clothing as I do not have enough clothing to last me the time I will be gone for the wedding and then honeymoon.
Give the house a good cleaning before we leave.

Question: Groomsmen Gifts

What would be a good gift for groomsmen?  I have no idea what a good gift would be.  A Swiss Army knife and this weird cooler / stool thing are the only things I’ve found that seem tolerable.  For the record the groomsmen are: 1. A family guy with one little daughter who works in the news industry.  2.  A Lutheran minister in training.

Work: You Can’t Make this #### Up!

The Human Resources department is no longer named Human Resources.  The department that I so often make fun of now has a name that is so hilarious that it has to be a joke, and yet it clearly is not a joke.  I won’t give away the name as I don’t like to give away much info about my work, and it doesn’t matter because you wouldn’t believe me anyway.

Meanwhile a group of unused cubes are being removed from a fairly common area in the building.  My guess is that my request to use that space to construct an Ultimate Fighting octagon will not be fulfilled.

Diplomatic Correspondence from Civilization IV

Dear Montezuma,

I realize that as neighbors with relatively equal territory my notably high culture score creates some tension. In addition my modest army might seem like a tempting challenge, especially as our common neighbors such as Julius Caesar or Queen Elizabeth would present a clearly greater opponent for you.

Yet after fighting two short wars I thought you would have learned that I am a more than competent general. I know when and where to maneuver my troops to present you with the greatest challenge possible. Also I expected that you would have given up on directly attacking me after conclusion of the second war where I captured a fairly large city from you. I had hoped that taking a city would have sent a message that further conflict between us will only annoy me and cost your nation dearly.

I certainly understood why you would keep troops along our border after the second conflict where I gained the upper hand both economically and in terms of strategic territory. Yet even with troops on the border I was surprised when your troops crossed that border in clear violation of our peace treaty in an effort to retake your lost city.

Did you really think that I would just leave a couple archers in a recently captured city? Were you really surprised when you found nearly half of my total military forces holding that town? Did you really think that you could take a fortified city garrisoned by forces in at least an equal number to your striking forces?

In response to your latest incursions into my territory I can only respond:



Supreme Leader of the Persian Empire

House Projects:

Water Softener: My water softener died.  Depending on who you talk to you get different opinions on water softeners.  There are the inexpensive models sold at appliance stores, and there are the midrange and higher priced models sold thru water softener dealers and service people.  All I know is my drinking glasses are fogging up over time and yet I don’t know what new softener to buy.  I get the feeling I’m going to go the inexpensive route and be done with it.

Ceiling Fan:  The previous owners of the house had a ceiling fan in the bedroom and as part of the agreement they took it with them (fine by me).  Several years pass, I bought a new ceiling fan and discovered the outlet cup is plastic and feels weak.  The new ceiling fan feels as if it is made of lead.

So I cut a little hole to see what is in there and plan to install a new metal outlet box with a crossbar that will attach to two beams.  I look inside, yeah packed tight with insulation.   I do not have attic access (townhouse).   Now I’m stuck.  I can cut a bigger hole but I’d like to limit bedroom demolition as much as possible.  Yet I can’t even get the stupid plastic cup out of there without doing so.   I’m stalled on that project and feel like an unhandy boob.

< Things | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >
I am not handy | 38 comments (38 topical, 0 hidden)
the ministry of love? by MM (4.00 / 4) #1 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 11:16:29 AM EST
the department of good feelings?

I wish n/t by duxup (4.00 / 1) #10 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 11:38:41 AM EST

[ Parent ]
department of employee by MM (4.00 / 4) #21 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 11:48:29 AM EST
commodification and standardization?

[ Parent ]
Human Executive Officers? by cam (4.00 / 1) #12 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 11:40:14 AM EST
Warf to Picard, Warf to Picard.

Freedom, liberty, equity and an Australian Republic

[ Parent ]
Huggy-Feely Inc. by jayhawk88 (4.00 / 1) #23 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 11:50:15 AM EST

[ Parent ]
Only one choice makes sense by notafurry (4.00 / 1) #29 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 01:10:51 PM EST
Soylent Green Handling

[ Parent ]
Groomsmen gifts by The Fool (4.00 / 3) #2 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 11:25:32 AM EST
I suggest beer.

Monty by theantix (4.00 / 1) #3 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 11:29:46 AM EST
He seems to have an en embedded personality which makes him all too willing to throw massive amounts of crappy forces at a superior city.  Just yesterday he attacked a city I held with grenadiers, crossbowmen, and catapults.  My machine gunners repelled his forces with great ease, thanks to the fact that my airplanes softened up the strongest units, so even though he literally threw >50 units at one city I didn't lose a single defender.  And now all my machine gunners are all 3+ first strike upgrades.  For cripe's sake, this city could defend itself from a massive tank army, let alone a crappy little set of grenadiers.

Oh well.  Monty just makes himself a fun target, I usually try to steal territory from him late in the game because he's got such backwards tech and so many stupid units.
Everything you wanted to know about Kansas City, and more.

Civ4 AI is dissapointing by MM (4.00 / 4) #7 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 11:36:30 AM EST
I mean come on, a trivial analysis will reveal whether or not you have the forces to take a city. 30 years of video games and the "AI" still relies on you being handicapped in order to beat you in almost all video games.

[ Parent ]
Indeed by duxup (2.00 / 0) #8 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 11:37:33 AM EST
He makes himself a nice target for me, especially with two slightly larger and tech advanced nations nearby.   Normally I go to war and find a bit more offensive work is needed to wear down the enemy.  This guy throws him self at me so after a few rounds of playing defense I’m ready to move into his territory and take what I want.

Taking his entire nation will be step 1 in my plan to DOMINATE THE ENTIRE WORLD!.  A.k.a. "the usual plan".

[ Parent ]
I hate that bastard by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #11 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 11:39:11 AM EST
He's on my "invade on the first opportunity" list.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
I find he is a good AI to keep around by theantix (4.00 / 1) #25 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 12:29:19 PM EST
He usually creates a very large but very crappy army, and thus becomes an effective way to prevent some of the pacifist civs from running away with the game (because in generally they will be less able to cope with his crummy AI than you.

Once I get Infantry I'll take him out with that with cannons/artillery, planes.  And when he finally techs up to deal with that I'll be at tanks and pummel him into nothingness!

I've done this the last two games with a good degree of success each time.
Everything you wanted to know about Kansas City, and more.

[ Parent ]
Well by ucblockhead (4.00 / 2) #26 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 12:31:07 PM EST
I usually play Romans and so try to be constantly at war as long as Praetorians are not obsolete.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
How did you get Monty? by cam (2.00 / 2) #14 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 11:41:07 AM EST
Is that from one of the custom games? The North African one?

Freedom, liberty, equity and an Australian Republic

[ Parent ]
So the Lago thing... by ana (4.00 / 1) #4 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 11:30:46 AM EST
was about in-laws? I think I get it now.

Can you get an exception to the no-attic-access for a fix-it project?

Can you introspect out loud? --CRwM

Oh, and... by ana (4.00 / 1) #6 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 11:32:45 AM EST
Steel thermoses are cool things to give & recieve around weddings. They last a lifetime, and the hope is that the marriage will, too. In the case of groomsman gifts, they're official witnesses, so you're inviting them to use their steel thermoses to do you harm if you break up before they wear out. Or something like that.

Can you introspect out loud? --CRwM

[ Parent ]
Good tip by duxup (2.00 / 0) #22 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 11:49:29 AM EST
I hadn't thought of those steel thermoses.  Those seem a bit more substantial.  I like that idea.
[ Parent ]
Lago was a thrill kill by duxup (2.00 / 0) #13 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 11:40:20 AM EST
Also I’m still a bit shaky about meeting internet people.  duxup is infinitely more interesting than me despite the fact that we share the same body and possibly soul.

[ Parent ]
Attic by duxup (2.00 / 0) #15 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 11:43:25 AM EST
I think I can get up there if I crack open my access portal in the ceiling of my utility room.  I don't know of any rules against it.

I'm seriously considering trying although making another pointless hole worries me.  The access is sealed via some popcorn ceiling texture and I half anticipate the portal being covered by insulation, but I might try it anyway.

I’m giving my self a 20% chance of falling into my neighbor’s bathroom or my own bathroom when doing this.

[ Parent ]
Re: fan by lolwhat (4.00 / 1) #5 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 11:31:58 AM EST
Teh Wyfe and I's house has quite a few fans in it that I installed myself. The mounting boxes for them are plastic, but the fans don't truly mount to the boxes (the boxes are just for wiring). Instead, each fan gets hung from two long-ass screws that run through shallow holes in the plastic box, and then screw solidly into a metal bracket hidden by the box.

Now, if the screws would plainly thread into the box itself, it may not be a true fan-ready setup. Otherwise, the fan shouldn't fall on you in the middle of the night while it's running full speed.

If cigarette packs are required to have pictures of diseased lungs, college brochures should be required to have photos of grads working at Starbucks.

Interesting by duxup (2.00 / 0) #18 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 11:46:01 AM EST
Unfortunately my plastic outlet cup thing is the only support.  I managed to get my hand on top of it and feel around, nothing there but insulation above it.  From the way it sits I think that was how it hung for quite sometime.

I will be sure to check again!

[ Parent ]
I feel like a boob, too by georgeha (4.00 / 2) #9 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 11:38:06 AM EST
maybe even two.

I should pick up chocolate on the way home.

Wedding tradions make weddings difficult. . . by BaconAndWaffles (4.00 / 1) #16 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 11:43:34 AM EST
I have heard of inviting out-of-towners to the reheasal dinner.  Easy to do when only a few people are travelling, and possibily quite expensive if a lot are.  I think it of as more of a thank you for people willing to travel to your wedding, but I don't think it is a must.  YMMV.

For groomsmen gifts, I gave nice leather wallets.  Everyone liked them, and even used them.

+1 Persia by atreides (4.00 / 1) #17 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 11:44:12 AM EST
Best Civ Empire EVAR!!!

Have you seen The Passion yet? Here's a spoiler for you: Jesus dies.
"...compassion is more than a 16 point word in scrabble." - MostlyHarmless

Yes Sir by duxup (2.00 / 0) #20 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 11:48:14 AM EST
I’ve only recently started playing with them.  I almost always limit myself to nations with the "Cre" feature as those fast expanding borders are an AWESOME power.
[ Parent ]
Groomsman gifts by jayhawk88 (4.00 / 1) #19 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 11:47:35 AM EST
You're on the right track. I have been given a cooler, a flask, and I think maybe a small tool set or something like that, in the three weddings I have been had sufficient involvement in to warrant a gift. Around my parts big weddings typically give smaller gifts to users and people like that, though, which is where the cooler and tool set came from.

For my wedding I only had my best man James, and I gave him a dual fuel Coleman lantern I think.

Hard water by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #24 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 12:18:46 PM EST
Vinegar has near-miraculous anti-limescale powers. Have never tried it on glasses, but a hottish mixture of water and vinegar works well on kettles, irons, coffee machines and steamers.

You could try soaking the glasses in cold, white vinegar overnight. Or mixing it half-and-half with boiling water to warm it, then leaving that half an hour or so.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

Water Softener by duxup (4.00 / 1) #28 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 12:48:48 PM EST
Once I was fiddling with my water softener and turned it way down.  Suddenly I noticed the foggy glasses and remembered I was messing with the water.  Upon turning up the water softener again the cloudy stuff went away.   I’m guessing the same will happen when I get a new water softener.
[ Parent ]
swordsswordsswordsgetthemswords by Rogerborg (4.00 / 4) #27 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 12:47:06 PM EST

Metus amatores matrum compescit, non clementia.
I finally kicked my Civ4 addiction by clover kicker (4.00 / 1) #30 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 03:47:20 PM EST
For a game that penalizes early expansion and forces you to fight, the wargame mechanics are pretty bad.

Sort of by duxup (2.00 / 0) #31 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 05:23:14 PM EST
It certainly punishes large-scale early expansion without the economy or forces to support it.  That is however one of the game’s advantages as well.  Past Civ games meant that you could generate a random map, play for ages and discover a HUGE civilization that you had no chance of conquering.  This way smaller nations have a chance to keep up in tech and fight it out with the big boys early on.

Personally I go in cycles.  I’ll play the game for a number of months and suddenly I can’t stand it, a bit later I rediscover it and I’m in love all over again.


[ Parent ]
Groomsmen gifts by MartiniPhilosopher (4.00 / 1) #32 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 05:44:08 PM EST
60 day WoW cards for the two actual groomsmen and a bundle of cigars for my best man.

Everybody seemed to be pretty happy with the deal.

Whenever I hear one of those aforementioned douche bags pontificate about how dangerous [...] videogames are I get a little stabby. --Wil Wheaton.

memoirs by LilFlightTest (4.00 / 1) #33 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 06:01:13 PM EST
the book was way better, the movie was a tiny summary of it.
Dance On, Gir!
Prairie Home Companion by riceowlguy (4.00 / 1) #34 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 07:36:37 PM EST
I thought it was weird too, but it was Robert Altman, so what you do expect, eh?  I like the radio show a lot, it was a big part of my childhood, so the stuff I found interesting probably not the stuff more traditional "movie people" found interesting (kind of how Topsy Turvy is one of my favorite movies evar and most film buffs like jacob thought it was the most boring thing they'd ever seen.

mmmm, Claire Danes by MostlyHarmless (4.00 / 1) #35 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 07:56:21 PM EST
that is all.

[Mostly Harmless]

Groomsmen gifts: Cross pens by BadDoggie (4.00 / 1) #36 Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 11:26:23 PM EST
A Cross pen was the best wedding-related gift I ever got, and that includes the gifts from when I was the one getting married.


OMG WE'RE FUCKED! -- duxup ?

Re groomsman gifts, by coillte (4.00 / 1) #37 Tue Jul 18, 2006 at 01:39:06 AM EST
the last wedding I was groomsman at, the groom paid for tuxedo rental, and bought the cufflinks to go with the suits as generic gifts, which he gave at the suit fitting, after each of us had chosen a pair we liked and then tailored unique additional gifts given privately where appropriate - the best man for instance.

It worked pretty well, as he did it spontaneously.

Arms my only ornament...

Groomsmen Gifts by jimgon (4.00 / 1) #38 Tue Jul 18, 2006 at 09:10:34 AM EST
I gave out pocket watches.  Something neat that few people would ever purchase for themselves.

Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
I am not handy | 38 comments (38 topical, 0 hidden)