Leftovers before the feast.

Today on our morning walk, Spriggy and I saw a pickup truck parked on Mack Avenue. As we passed, I noticed an antler tip showing. I came closer to find an unlucky buck’s head awaiting mounting, and a nice one, too — a 10-pointer. I expect the next stop was the taxidermist. I held the dog up to take a look and get a few whiffs, which I couldn’t detect, although I’m sure he could.

Deer season in Michigan. I guess it’s as close to a state religion as we have.

Work has pretty much ground to a halt — everyone’s off, it seems, except for Alan, who’s working like a field hand — so I’m starting to prepare for the feast. I’m always interested in how different cultures make Thanksgiving their own; remember Paulie Walnuts’ great speech in that “Sopranos” episode? “First, the antipasto, then the manicotti, and then the bird.” Most of these accounts are interesting but don’t tempt me to change my own traditions. That is, until today:

There’s one thing that you’ll never see on my Thanksgiving table. In fact, it’s never even been on my mother’s table or part of my grandmother’s Thanksgiving fare.

Pumpkin pie.

I’m not sure how it clinched the title of the darling of the harvest sweets, but as far as I’m concerned, pumpkin pie is the low-test, gelatinous twin of the more full-bodied and aromatic sweet potato pie.

Mmm, you got that right. Maybe I’ll make one. After Thanksgiving, though — I eat with traditionalists.

“Rooooome” wrapped up this week, with the events of the Ides of March. Amusingly, the episode was called “The Kalends of February.” Even more amusingly, the writers managed to weave the fictional characters’ narratives deeply into the events of history; next time someone asks who killed Julius Caesar, say, “a conspiracy of senators, with the coup de grace delivered by Brutus, but ultimately it was all Lucius Vorenus’ fault, because he was supposed to be Caesar’s muscle that day, and he ran off to deal with his wife.”

I hope we see this show again, one of these days. HBO makes the best shows on TV, but it takes for-freakin’-ever for them to roll around again. I honestly cannot believe we’ll be seeing a Soprano again before 2006 is out, can you?

Finally, there’s a meme going around — name 10 movies you hate. OK. I saw one just the other night — “Spanglish.” It was strange, hating it, because while I was hating it I was recognizing how good many of the performances were, especially Tea Leoni, but that’s what moviegoing is like for me — all ambivalence. Hate is such a strong word, anyway; how about “terribly disappointed by.” I dislike “American Beauty” more with every screening, although I still think it was an OK movie. Or how about “the first movie I saw that everyone else loved, but I hated?” OK, that’s easy: “E.T.” Also, “Ghostbusters.” “Scarface” was atrocious, but in a funny way; “JFK,” ditto. “Jerry Maguire” was a bunch of OK scenes in search of a story.

When Alan and I walked out of “Dead Ringers” we gave our opinions simultaneously: “That was…” and I said, “great” and he said, “god-awful.”

I’m right.

What do you think?

Posted at 11:21 pm in Uncategorized |

32 responses to “Leftovers before the feast.”

  1. vince said on November 22, 2005 at 11:33 pm

    Funny how our views change with time.

    Let’s just say I was young when “ET” came out and loved it. Watched it last year and couldn’t imagine why.

    “Jerry McGuire” – I’ll ditto your ditto. I hated that the first time. (It’s pretty hard for me to like anything with Tom Cruise in it. He’s got a range of playing Tom Cruise or Tom Cruise.)

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  2. mary said on November 23, 2005 at 12:26 am


    Ditto squared on Tom Cruise. He plays Tom Cruise in a movie in every movie he’s in.


    No kidding, I agree wholeheartedly one hundred percent with your list. I saw Spanglish last night. It’s really hateable, and yes, I like Tea Leoni too. The only other thing I liked about it was a fried egg sandwich Adam Sandler made for himself. I wanted one of those today for lunch, but didn’t have the right sort of bread on hand.

    ET, Jerry Maguire, Scarface, Ghostbusters. I never got what the appeal was of those movies. I generally don’t like Brian DePalma movies, though, or Spielberg really, I already mentioned my Tom Cruise problem, and Ghostbusters was just dumb. But I liked Dead Ringers. Then again I usually like any movie with Jeremy Irons. Reversal of Fortune? I can watch it over and over.

    American Beauty? I kept thinking, Ok, I get it. You can move along with this movie now, ok? Another I director whose movies suck? Ron Howard. A Beautiful Mind, Far and Away, Backdraft…FEH. Gimme Martin Scorcese and the Coen Bros anyday. I even give Paul Schrader a thumbs up most of the time. At least he’s interesting.

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  3. alex said on November 23, 2005 at 12:33 am

    Hated is too strong a word. I detest most Hollywood product. Now if somebody wants a list of the ten most I’m indifferent toward I can rattle off ten along with a litany. I’ll start with anything Batman, Purple Rain and anything 007 post-1972, which probably brings me to well over ten.

    Most memorable? Johnny Depp as Ed Wood. I still get belly laughs thinking about Bela Lugosi feeding his drug habit and ego in such desperation that he’d tussle with a lifeless sea monster in a mud bath for his next fix.

    Vince, I can still remember the night I went to see E.T. not long after I got my driver’s license. God, was I a maudlin mess over that one. Couldn’t possibly be moved by it now as my rational side would be picking apart the horrid dialogue and Model T special effects. And Christine�Bad to the Bone Christine, which I saw on acid�fer sure nothing I could handle seeing in my right mind. In fact, it’d make me terribly upset contemplating the destruction of the world’s last dozen surviving 1957 Plymouths.

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  4. mary said on November 23, 2005 at 12:42 am

    Can I add to the Batman concept by suggesting that most if not all movies made from comic books or cartoons suck? Add movies made from TV shows to that list. Dukes of Hazzard, Bewitched, The Flintstones, Car 54, Dragnet, Beverly Hillbillies. Feh.

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  5. alex said on November 23, 2005 at 12:45 am

    Oh, and as for American Beauty, I always thought it a pale, Bud Lite version of Happiness, which didn’t have to resort to rose petals for special effects or the clich�d closet homo marine for shock value. It went one better�a dog lapping up the jiz of a juvenile. And Louise Lasser, hagged out and unrecognizable until the credits ran. Now that was a freak show well worth the eight bucks.

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  6. Maureen said on November 23, 2005 at 2:10 am

    I’ll jump in – Titanic. When my daughter was born it was All The Rage, and we were told endlessly that We Have To See It. So my husband and I dragged our post-natal, sorry-ass exhausted carcasses to the theatre. I�ll never forget that early scene when Leo is playing for the tickets, and he opens his mouth to speak and that atrocious accent comes out. I turned to my husband in surprise and horror, �this is gonna suck!� Sadly, we never made it to the iceberg.

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  7. Carmella said on November 23, 2005 at 7:02 am

    hate…absolutely dispise…FORREST GUMP!!!

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  8. Dorothy said on November 23, 2005 at 8:27 am

    Oh Carmella! Blasphemy! I love “Forrest Gump.”

    “Panic Room” and “Flight Plan” were unbelievably dumb. Their plots were one big hunk of Swiss cheese. “Open Range” was a big snoozer, too. To Mary’s list of bad movies made from t.v. shows I’ll add “Mission: Impossible”.

    Our exchange student is constantly telling us that Vin Diesel is the best actor in the world. One of these days I’m really going to HAVE to smack him. Hard.

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  9. brian stouder said on November 23, 2005 at 8:50 am

    The last ‘serious’ movie that I walked out of the theater with a gunuine loathing for, was The Talented Mr Ripley. I�ll readily agree that it contains beautiful cinematography, and Jude Law is marvelous in it, and so on and so forth, yadda yadda yadda.

    But the movie has no ending. It has an interesting beginning, and a jarring middle � and that�s it. I felt ripped off, walking away from Ripley.

    Made me appreciate why the awards shows honor such technical things as cinematography, because that movie was a compellingly crafted, but ultimately empty vehicle; a waste of talent.

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  10. Nance said on November 23, 2005 at 9:15 am

    Your exchange student puts his finger on one of the great truths of Hollywood — action is a better world traveler than drama, and certainly comedy. Back when I was riding, the guys who worked at the barn tended to be newly arrived Mexicans. We’d try to communicate with one another, but we never really connected until I mentioned Jackie Chan one day. They LOVE Jackie Chan.

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  11. Nance said on November 23, 2005 at 9:18 am

    And “Scarface,” oh God. I surfed past it on cable the other day, and of course hit one of my favorite lines:

    “Thees town ees like a beeg poosy, just waitin’ to be focked.”

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  12. brian stouder said on November 23, 2005 at 10:35 am

    Mary is more right than wrong about Ron Howard – but his homerun, and the thing he’ll be remembered for (aside from being Opie) is American Grafitti (directed by Star Wars man, true enough, but still) – a much-imitated bit of movie magic

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  13. brian stouder said on November 23, 2005 at 10:48 am

    Several folks up-thread commented on movies that they once were quite taken with, and which now leave them flatly unimpressed.

    TBS was running The Wizard of Oz a week ago, and the young folks and I sat down to watch it Sunday evening. Yes, we own the video – but there is a nice bit of nostalgia watching it on commercial TV with the kids, as my parents did with me back in the day.

    We made it to the poppy field when bedtime came, and after they went off to their rooms Pam and I reminisced about how far we made it back when we had ‘school in the morning’; she said she almost never made it past the crabby apple trees, and I recalled that Dorothy in the dungeon always made me cry (and then got me sent off to bed!).

    What a tremendous movie! No matter how many times I see it, it always comes across as fresh and sparkling – with crisp humor and pointed sarcasm; plus, it is a tremendous monument to salt-of-the-earth, 1930’s middle America (What’s the matter with Kansas?! – Bah!).

    “We can’t go against the law”

    “I’ve got a witch mad at me, and you might get into trouble”

    “Well how do you talk, if you have no brain?” – “I don’t know. But some people who have no brains do an awful lot of talking, don’t they?” – “They certainly do!”

    “I’ll get you, my pretty!”

    The incomparably beautiful Over the Rainbow performance by Judy Garland comes surprisingly early in the movie – and sets a very high bar for all that follows….and the genious of the moviemakers is evidenced by the fact that the rest of the movie easily clears that high standard

    What a great movie; certainly my favorite of all time

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  14. Randy said on November 23, 2005 at 10:56 am

    *Garden State – some good performances, but a so-so story that stalls at the end

    *Million Dollar Baby – melodrama dressed up with big stars

    *and a twist – I didn’t like the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but really enjoyed the remake with Johnny Depp, which I never would have seen were it not for my daughter. Depp’s Willy Wonka definitely inspires a lovehim or hate him reaction, no in-between.

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  15. Danny said on November 23, 2005 at 11:04 am

    Maureen, two things about the interminable Titanic. One, I uncharacteristically drank a Big Gulp early on and at the midway point, when the water started sloshing down the hallways, I had to exit quickly to a restroom for relief. Two, the line at the end: Something about how a woman’s heart is like the sea, “deep and full of secrets.” When I heard that, let out a loud, quick yelp of uncontrollable, laughter. The rest of the theater was serious, dead quiet, unfortunately.

    My friends, including several females who loved the movie, asked what the hell I thought was so funny about that line. I said, “You got to be kdding me. What did that line mean? Sounded like a romantic way of saying that women are liars!” They still didn’t think it was funny.

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  16. adrianne said on November 23, 2005 at 11:10 am

    Nance, I believe you and I knew we were friends for life when we shared our mutual hatred of “E.T.” In fact, almost everything that Steven Spielberg has done post “Jaws” has been a tough slog for me…Parts deux and trois of the “Raiders of the Lost Ark” series – atrocious! – and “Schindler’s List”.

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  17. maryo said on November 23, 2005 at 3:26 pm

    What?!? No “Blue Lagoon?” I saw that in high school with my best friend, and thankfully we sat directly behind four boys from another high school who did nothing but make jokes the entire way through. It was the only thing that kept us in our seats. (Kind of an early MST 3K treatment that probably explains why I loved that TV show so much.)

    I have a colleague at work who goes crazy violent whenever anyone mentions the movie “Patch Adams.” Not having ever seen it, I don’t know what that means.

    Best movies: “Miller’s Crossing,” “The Usual Suspects” and “Fargo.” I’m either a Gabriel Byrne freak or a Cohen Bros. fan. Probably both. I do love Byrne’s brogue though.

    Regarding Roooome, what a great show. The knifing scene was intense, thank God Caesar didn’t have to utter “Et tu, Brute?”, and I’m now also a big Max Pirkis fan. Oh, Sevilia, you were cold as ice, and snake-like. Best line: “Would you like some honeywater?” after she delivered the bad news to Atia.

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  18. Dorothy said on November 23, 2005 at 3:30 pm

    Oh Maryo! Gabriel Byrne makes me swoon! He’s a hottie for sure. I’d much rather talk about favorite movies than ones I hate. It’s easier to remember favorites. Like “Best in Show” or “Billy Elliott”. Saw “Millions” a week ago and loved the appearance of different saints in it. I think I’m going to have to see “Walk the Line” this weekend. It will be only the 3rd movie I’ve gone to since last Christmas. We usually rent.

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  19. brian stouder said on November 23, 2005 at 3:54 pm

    Fargo is good stuff, aye.

    Best movie I tripped into on IFC – The Dinner Game


    It is a French movie with subtitles, about a group of friends who compete to invite the dumbest guests to dinner each week.

    Very enjoyable; it was genuinely hilarious!

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  20. Joe Kobiela said on November 23, 2005 at 5:44 pm

    Fargo- Ya u betcha, Oh ya, for cripes sake.

    Hated top gun, and I am a pilot. If you took all the flying they left on the cutting room floor and left the story out, you would have a good movie. When Goose went running out to meet the wife I turned to my wife and said “he’s dead.”

    Hope you all have a great Holiday.


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  21. maryo said on November 23, 2005 at 6:10 pm

    We usually rent or watch on HBO. I couldn’t get through Spanglish this week, though I was hopeful for it when I saw Cloris Leachman and Tea Leoni in it. I can’t stomach many of the movies on HBO these days, they all seem like cineplex rejects of one sort or another — though for some reason I laughed until I cried at “Dodgeball.” I still can’t figure out why, though I now can throw around references to “The Ocho” to the twenty-something guys in my office and they seem to respect me for it. Needless to say, I live for HBO’s series.

    Going to a movie, a real movie, requires spending more money on babysitters (we have three kids, 9, 4 and 4) than on our movie, even at today’s prices. Throw in a little dinner before or after, and you’re broke to the end of the month.

    We did get to see “The Constant Gardener,” though, at the newly refurbished AFI Silver theater just blocks from our house in Silver Spring, MD. Great movie, and no driving to boot. Great theater, too, if you ever get out this way.

    And of course I managed to see Harry Potter IV on opening weekend with my HP fanatic 9-year-old daughter at the equally nearby 20-screen giant megaplex. The best of the bunch.

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  22. maryo said on November 23, 2005 at 6:15 pm

    And at the risk of getting too boring, I should note my husband, a South Dakota native, and I saw Fargo with his father, who still lives there, at a packed theater in Washington, D.C., and at one point in the movie, my father-in-law said, rather loudly and with the same Midwestern cadence as all the characters in the movie: “Well, they sure are makin’ fun of the Brainerd po-lice department!” I had to elbow him as people giggled behind us.

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  23. it-chick said on November 23, 2005 at 10:49 pm

    Oh… I have to jump in on this one, usually I lurk!

    I walked out on “Raising Arizona”

    I agree on the Talented Mr Ripley, so not worth the hype, along with ET, AND Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon…I mean it was ok, but not the movie of the century or anything like they made it out to be. Gahndi, Yentle (Yentel) So what was the big deal? Thanks, I feel better.

    And yep, loved FARGO. Wm. H. Macy ROCKS

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  24. Maureen said on November 23, 2005 at 10:57 pm

    For you Fargo fans, how about Laurel Canyon? Opposite end of the spectrum setting-wise, but Frances McDormand remains a scene stealer. And there’s something for everyone with Christian Bale, Kate Beckinsale, and Natascha McElhone.

    Our annual wrap-the-Christmas-presents movie is Diner (1982). I think it holds up.

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  25. mary said on November 24, 2005 at 2:34 am

    How about movies that are surprisingly good, or at least engaging? To Die For is worth staying up late if you see it’s on TV, as is Breaking the Waves. Hope and Glory is one I’ve seen lots of times and I still like it. Drugstore Cowboy is a keeper, I think, as is Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. But Michael Caine is in that one, which redeems most movies. The Man Who Would Be King is good if you’re in the mood for Kiplingish stuff, and Michael Caine is in it with Sean Connery.

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  26. brian stouder said on November 24, 2005 at 8:06 pm

    “if you’re in the mood for Kiplingish stuff”

    Breaker Morant is the best of the lot, if you want Kiplingish stuff.

    A marvelous, talkie movie, with lots of stars before they were stars

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  27. Dorothy said on November 24, 2005 at 9:13 pm

    I caught “Starting Over” on HBO or Cinemax today and that remains one of my faves for all time. Burt Reynolds and Jill Clayburgh – TONS of laughs in that one. The best moment comes when CHarles Durning is attending to Burt Reynolds, who is having a panic attack of sorts in a department store. He turns to the crowd that has gathered to watch and asks “Anyone have a Valium?” And of course every single person immediately goes to their pockets or purses and proffers one.

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  28. MarkH said on November 25, 2005 at 2:28 am

    I will latch on to all the Tom Cruise-bashing here. I enjoyed him in RAINMAN and felt he was brave to do BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY. But, aside from strong screen presence, he has no range. I have always felt that both Cruise’s and Ron Howard’s cover should have been officially blown with FAR AND AWAY. I will admit to TOP GUN as a guilty pleasure.

    Dittos on E.T., too. I saw it once when it came out and have never looked back. Just re-hashed CLOSE ENCOUNTERS for kids (aliens just want to talk to everyday folks; big, bad government prevents it, etc.). I cast a wary eye toward anything Spielberg since RAIDERS, as if he felt he could do no wrong when he redeemed himself from 1941. I think George Lucas and Harrison Ford had SOMETHING to do with that homerun. To listen to Spielberg now, it’s as if none of us know anything until we hear it from him.

    It-Chick – How could you go from walking out on RAISING ARIZONA to even grasping FARGO? I agree with everyone that FARGO was indeed great. Whoever wrote the film did their research on car dealers. I sold cars for a while and Macy was spot-on. Also, that floor-plan scheme goes on ALL THE TIME at car dealers; not in such a nefarious way, but they can make thousands floating the bank’s money.

    Dorothy, I agree about STARTING OVER. An unsung gem that proved to be Burt Reynolds’ last gasp at proving his acting chops before Cannonball and Stroker Ace movies did him in. Candace Bergen nearly stole the film with her rendition of “Better Than Ever” sung to Burt.

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  29. mary said on November 25, 2005 at 9:09 pm

    Yes, Breaker Morant is good, and talky movies can be good in general. We saw Harry Potter last night, and my son loved it, but I’m having a special effects burnout phase. Between all the Harry Potters and Lords of the Ringses, I can’t take any more weird creatures or strange beings with large eyes. Gimme a nice talky movie with big ideas or silly ideas or heroic fools or foolish heroes. I’m tired of trying to keep track of people, places and things with names that end in “dor.”

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  30. basset said on November 26, 2005 at 11:11 am

    Watch “A Hard Day’s Night,” all of ya. Watch it again. Come back here and discuss.

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  31. maryo said on November 26, 2005 at 2:52 pm

    Oh, this is a fun thread… I did my first post at work (bad) and now it’s Saturday.

    I’ve become a Hitchcock fan ever since my husband got a boxed set of 10 or so videos (so retro) for a steal. They include some of his less-recognizable (at least for me) films. I can’t take my eyes off “Rope,” which does several long scenes with only one camera tracking the actors around. Amazing. And even “Frenzy,” which I think was his only R-rated movie, was interesting, though it’s dated in the way early ’70s movies are; his ’50s classics are much, much better.

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  32. brian stouder said on November 27, 2005 at 8:45 pm

    Just the other evening the lovely wife and I sat down and watched Hitchcock’s 1940 movie – Rebecca. We loved all the little nuances and class-warfare tweaks…and were taken with the fact that the female lead actor – Joan Fontaine, never gets a name! (other than “the second Mrs de Winter”!)

    TMC runs the oldies without commercials, and one gets pulled right into the good ones. Indeed, Mary, I’m also maxed on faux-wildly imaginative movies which boil down to quite simple morality tales

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