Thursday, September 27, 2007

Happy Birthday To Me...Another Non-Birthday

Ok, so today is my birthday, and I've been trying to analyze why I call it "another non-birthday", along with nearly all past birthdays. Well, for one thing, I'm usually on the road working/showing in Texas on this day. This year is an exception, as my usual shows for this weekend have been moved from this time of year to Spring. Hence, I'm home instead of on the road. Being on the road doesn't make for a real "birthday" somehow. But, it may go deeper than that.

When my father was alive, I always knew my phone would ring early in the morning with his cheery "Happy Birthday, Missy"! Now he's gone.
When both my parents were alive, they always took me out to dinner with all the family. Most of the time, it was a nice thing to look forward to, but as they got older it somehow wasn't fun, but a chore to endure. I"m not sure why, but I was relieved when dinner was over and we all left the restaurant.

Then there was the "asp" incident when I was 9 yrs. old. Following the usual skating party with my classmates (I was a so-so skater), the family returned to my house for gift opening. Now that was fun! Tons of presents to open!!!! This particular year, we had the event on our screened-in porch. The wrapped gifts were piled on top of an old twin bed on the porch. I plopped down on the bed, anxious and excited to open up the goods, when I felt this intense burning pain on the underneath part of my upper thigh and screamed as I jumped up in agony. I heard someone say "it's an asp" that got her. The pain was numbing my mind by this point. It kept intensifying which made me scream more. I got over it, of course, and eventually got back to opening gifts...a couple of hours later. But, it was ruined for me. I hated that porch from that time onward, and was wary of being out there. Maybe I'm scarred for birthdays, too?

Whatever the reason, my birthday has really not been a date I've really ever paid much attention to. I mark it mentally as another year older and that's about it.

On this birthday, I'll celebrate by eating lunch with my son, Lee. We eat together a lot when I'm home, so that in itself isn't momentous. But, I am grateful that I at least have his company as all the rest of my family reside elsewhere. His birthday is one week later than mine, so these days we are there for each other to mark the occasion of our birth.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Aunt Betty

My mother's sister, my Aunt Betty...I was thinking about her today. She died several years ago, before my mother by a few years. She was the youngest of 3 children in my grandparent's family. Without a doubt, she was my favorite aunt, being one with poodles and all. She used to raise Mini's in her younger days. My first poodle, Jet, was one of her puppies she gave me (my mom in later years always insisted that Jet was *her* dog, but we both knew the truth).

When I was very young, Aunt Betty lived "somewhere north", meaning Wichita Falls, Tx..which was north of where I lived in Ft. Worth. I never saw her home there, but my two sisters did. I was horribly envious of pictures and stories I heard about their going to visit her and riding her horses. Eventually, she moved to a lovely lakefront home that became our holiday destination for family gathering and good food, coupled with swimming off the dock and tanning, always tanning. During those years, and they were good ones, she was so easy to be around, although a bit bossy . But, she was never bossy to me. She had a son, Frank, that sometimes was there and sometimes not...and he always seemed to be causing her worry. I later figured it out..he drank beer a lot, and I think she was afraid he'd take the boat out too drunk, etc. Frank did a nose dive into his breakfast cereal one day when he was about 42, and just keeled over with a heart attack.
Aunt Betty took it well. She was sitting with him when he died.

Her poodles were wonderful...I remember all of them. It was she who took me to my first dog show. It was she who encouraged me to love dogs and learn more about them. We always had that bond in common.

Hers was a mysterious marriage to Edgar. I can't ever recall their actually living together. Sometimes he was at the lakehouse, but more often he wasn't. He was the son of a former mayor of Ft. Worth, but he certainly wasn't an asset to that family. As time went by and I became an adult, it was revealed that he had another woman, and even represented her as his wife to those in Wichita Falls. Aunt Betty never did divorce him...but when Edgar died there were TWO wives at the funeral in mourning...I bet that was a weird sight. Hard to imagine this man led the life he did, having a mother that wrote a book entitled "All The Women of the Bible".

Aunt Betty raised all but two of her grandchildren...and there were quite a few. I have no clue where they are now. One ended up in prison and may still be there for all I know. The mothers of these children basically abandoned them...Frank's wives (lost count at 4 of them), of course.

And then there was Bobby, her other son. Mentally injured as a toddler by falling under a truck on the road, he was her constant worry. He lived with Aunt Betty until she died. I think he is in Florida now...with cousins. He's an older man now...still very child-like.
Nothing amazed me more as I was growing up, how she cared for him and all those grandchildren, while still having a career as a landscaper for a large nursery. She was so active in the Garden Club, the Woman's Club, and many other 'clubs'.

She was a drill sargent, funny in her own way, conservative beyond belief, very strict but at the same time, so giving. The last time I saw her, she was in poor health, and I knew it would be the last visit. I cried when walking away from her front door that day. She didn't know I had silently said my 'goodbyes'.
She died about 6 mos. later in a nursing home, out of her mind with dementia. I called her on the phone before she died, and I'm quite sure she knew who I was for just a second, but then lapsed into her fantasy world. I softly hung the phone up that day, knowing it was the last time I'd hear her voice.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Movie Review of The Prestige

Having just been introduced to Christian Bale, via seeing 3:10 to Yuma yesterday, I went in search of another of his films today at the rental store. I'd done a bit of digging on the internet movie data base site I favor (IMDb) before renting "The Prestige", just so I'd be sure and view a good example of his work. However, I did NOT see any spoilers beforehand, so my viewing of this film was completely unsullied by advance knowledge of the plot twists and turns. I won't reveal them here, either. What I do want to discuss are the actor's roles and their portrayals. The plot is up to you, if you have either already seen it, or plan to see it in the future, to decipher and untwist.

Christian Bale, as the turn-of-the-century English magician and Hugh Jackman as his rival, are the two main characters. Supporting them are Scarlett Johannson. as the eye candy assistant on stage for Jackman's character and Michail Caine as his "manager/trick inventor. All did fine jobs with this intricate story and their characters.

Bale's character, Borden, was an obsessed young magician, willing to do just about anything to get ahead in his career. Ditto for Jackman's character, Rupert Angiers. It is difficult to really get into a discussion on their roles without giving away too much of the plot twists, here. There are more twists and turns in this film than a bag of pretzels!
It kept me scratching my head, trying to listen carefully to the dialog, plus visually keep up with events. It didn't help any that the plot line was non-linear (fancy term for "it jumped around chronologically).
We know from the beginning that Borden is in prison, for murdering Angiers. That much is told to us/shown to us from reel #1. But, by film's end, we have no idea who really died for sure or who was really in prison for murder! Apparently from what I've read on other sites, the movie departed quite a bit from the novel's plot line. So, going to the book won't be much help with the film. Scenes jump back and forth from the past to the present, making me crazy, but I stuck with it, mainly due my being determined to figure it out.

Beautifully filmed and costumed, I might add. There are even scenes that take place in Colorado Springs, way back before it became the huge city it is now...a lovely place, nestled up against the front range of the American Rockies. This was where Angiers travelled to secure the trick of all tricks, a Transporter machine from a Russian scientist named Tesla (played by David Bowie, who turns in a fine performance as well). One might ask why a Russian scientist would be in Colorado, which would seem to be a weird place for such a man. He explains to Angiers over lunch that he was exiled to a "retirement", thus he chose this place. Since I happen to love that city myself, it wasn't hard for me to understand his choice, even way back then...a great place to retire.

But, most of the film took place in old theaters in London, where an audience would gather to be amazed by various magicians, much as we go to the movies today.

This is a dark film, not any happiness nor comic relief to be found. Pure drama, which is what I love in films. Nearly all of the characters are tortured by something..either obsessions, or jealousies, or both. The only character that didn't seem to be really troubled was Caine's, as he was content with his role as the man behind the magician.

It is true that towards the end of the film, that things get a bit weird and venture into the not-so-possible. This is essential for the plot, but it does not lie to us, but we know we have to leave the grounded world for the fantasy one, to keep on with it. Still, tho, it's a decent flick, and it did demonstrate that Christian Bales can play a very different role that the one in "Yuma".

The Train Was Late: Should have been 3:20 to Yuma

What *IS* it about bad boys that we love???? Well, That's exactly the appeal of Russell Crowe in his latest offering, director Mangold's 3:10 to Yuma. Crowe plays heartless, handsome -in- black Ben Wade, perpetrator of many stage coach robberies, murders and seductions of bar maids with his smooth pick-up lines delivered using a velvet voice. He had me in his spell after the first 5 min. of film! He is no common outlaw, being familiar with the Bible and quoting from it often and making frequent quick sketches of the world around him.

Glenn Ford, from the original filmed in 1957, playing the same part, was NEVER as cool and smart as Crowe's Ben Wade.

Now, I'm probably one of the few people on earth that hasn't seen Christian Bale in a film before. His role as down-on-his-luck rancher, family man Dan is the opposite of Wade's. This poor excuse for a role model to his sons, is about as depressing a character as one can get. He sucks the life out of every space he occupies, oozing darkness and defeat. His older son, William, thinks he is a wimp...and he's right on. His wife looks down upon him as a failure. A serious drought as caused his land to dry up, thus making it hard to make any money to make his loan payments to the cold-hearted lien holders. They send out thugs to burn his barn as a warning early on in the film, that his house will be next if he doesn't come up with the next installment.

The two of them meet as Dan accepts in desparation the task of accompanying Wade to Yuma, Arizona in order to put him on a prison bound train, thus clearing the territory of a dangerous outlaw. His pay for this very risky job is $200. Risky as there are Wade's gang of vicious animals hot on their heels, pissed off Indians along the way, and revenge-seeking railroad men, quite happy to torture Wade when he rides into their camp for all his murdering mischief making with their trains and stage coaches carrying payday money for the railroad crews.

It's worth mentioning a supporting character here, one of Wade's top animals, Charlie Prince, played chillingly amoral by Ben Foster. His loyalty and devotion to Wade is almost sexual, but I really don't think he was gay, just one of those extreme brown nosers, intent on keeping Wade happy, thus insuring Wade didn't get ticked off at him and shoot him dead for some indiscretion. That said, his portrayal with his piercing eyes and focus on Wade did make for a great performance.

After a dash through the badlands towards Yuma over a 2 day ride, Wade and Dan end up in a hotel room in Yuma, waiting for the train to arrive. The dialog exchanges in that room are soft and revealing of both men's characters, as different in backgrounds as could be, yet a weird bond has formed between them. Not exactly friendship, but most likely some level of respect. It turns out that Wade has killed those that he felt deserved it, not just for the love of killing. He steals from the railroads mainly because they used slave Chinese labor. Dan, on the other hand, is a casper mild toast due to his stint in the Civil War Union Army, having had his leg shot off, hence his wooden stump, making him less of a man in that unforgiving culture of the West. But, Dan is determined to change all that by seeing this task through of making sure Wade gets on that train. If he does not accomplish this, he fails in finally being the man his family is needing/wanting. Wade probably envies Dan for having this family in the first place. Down deep inside he feels some admiration for this man.

It isn't a perfect film, with plenty of holes in the plot that makes no sense. But, if you can let yourself become immersed in the characters and not look too hard for reality of situations, then these storyline issues won't bother you. There is a twist ending, that some find objectionable and full of complete character reversal on Wade's part. After reflection, it isn't that bothersome to me at all. I can't really discuss it here in detail, as some that read this review might not have seen the film yet...and I don't want to spoil it.

This could be Oscar material for several of the actors, and other areas of recognition for the filmmakers.

One other interesting note...there is a bit of dialog delivered by Wade where he talks about his visits to Dodge City, KS! lol Of course, this is where I live I found this humorous, and there were quite a few giggles and laughs in the audience during this scene from fellow residents of Dodge.

Long live the Western.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

This Week Has Been Diastrous

It started out OK on Monday, but has steadily gone downhill from there. I found out I was going to have to put a bitch on a plane from an airport 3 hours from my house on Thurs. As I was already running short on time to prepare for the shows this weekend, I knew this extra added side-trip was going to cost me somewhere. Next, came the tests results. I've been waiting for about 2 weeks for these to come back on a bitch that aborted her puppies 3 weeks ago. Now dogs don't just abort for no reason, so I crossed my fingers that it wasn't anything serious or career ending. The first results came back last week and all were negative. So far, so good. Then the bomb dropped on me this afternoon...the last two tests came back in the 'terrible dept.' Positive for CHV (canine herpes virus) and Pasturella. Of course, I had to call off two breedings I was to do, plus call the breeder in Calif. and tell her NOT to breed the bitch I sent out there. That was a fun phone call to make. My phone never quit ringing once the bad news was told to all parties. I found myself saying over and over "I just don't know the answers to your your vet, maybe he/she will know. By late afternoon, I was suffering an anxiety attack. Hadn't experienced one of those in years.

On top of all that, my William had been mauled by a couple of my other poodles, almost killed the poor old man. I canceled my shows for the weekend so I could stay home and care for him, hoping he would make it. He was nearly dead when I picked him up off of the shock. Only his strong will and my pleading with him not to die on me saved him. His neck was raw meat, bleeding and laid open. He managed to make it through the night and now 3 days later, he is up on his feet, eating and drinking, and even barking a little. He'll make it. But, the stress of that plus the tests results has just about done me in.

I don't know what will happen to my breeding program. I'm taking two more in on Monday for testing to see if they have contracted either infection. I'll know more when those tests come back.

It's been a difficult week.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


If there is a God, PLEASE don't allow Hillary to be our next Pres.!!!!! ( I had to say "if there is a God to cover all the bases..that is how much I REALLY don't want her to get elected).

Why, you might ask, do I have such negative feelings about her? First off, I have not liked her since she popped onto the radar when Bill got elected. I almost didn't blame him for all his philandering, being married to HER. She is shrill, annoying, and tries WAY to hard to appear to be in control of herself. I have this sense that underneath she is a seething bitch, and absolute hell to pay if you get on her bad side (remember Travelgate?). I also sense that would not be hard to become (on her bad side). I have known other women like her in my in particular, named Lynn F. back in Ft. Worth. I hated this woman...she was the type of person that was ALWAYS right about everything. Opinionated and shrill...pushy and arrogant...and would go out of her way to make sure you'd pay dearly if you crossed her. Hillary reminds me of Lynn F.

Politically ( and I suspect it would carry over to a personal level if I knew her or met her), this woman would make an equal mess of things as our current Pres. , but only in a different way. Whereas Bill didn't have the stomach for the tough decisions (he could have had Bin Laden but just didn't have it in him to go get him), Hillary would have the moxie, just not the instinct. She reads the people incorrectly, or just doesn't give a damn, or both. Bill understood how to pander to the people, she doesn't.

Hillary is a chameleon, or tries to be....adapting her voice and approach to whatever group of people she is addressing. To me that is scary. You get a different Hillary on the surface, when underneath I know she is out to prove she is right at any cost. Poor Vince Foster found that out.

She is fairly harmless as Senator of New York, but as our Pres. it would be a disaster, so we would have TWO administrations that are disasters in a row. Our country and people deserve much better than that. We just can't handle another Pres. that believes he/she is right ALL the time, to make such awful mistakes in judgment.