Anyway, Uncle Billy gives Potter the paper so he can read about Harry, but fails to notice that he's folded up his bank deposit of $8,000 inside that paper. Potter watches from his corner office (he took over the bank on George's wedding day, remember) as Uncle Billy fumbles for the money at the teller's window, then races frantically about the lobby. If I were Potter, I'd be wondering why I didn't go after Uncle Billy sooner; he's always been the weak link in that partnership.
It's so weird how the very day Uncle Billy loses all their money is the day the bank examiner is auditing the Building and Loan. It's also the day Violet Bick comes in asking for a loan so she can move to New York and make her fortune. She apologizes to George because she has no collateral and few prospects, but he tells her the same thing he tells all his neighbors: he knows her, knows she's a good person, and he's sure she'll pay him back in her own time. She kisses his cheek, leaving a lipstick stain that the bank examiner stares at pointedly.
(I'm emphasizing this part, by the way, because I think it's going to be important to understand the options women have in Bedford Falls as opposed to ... other places.)
Uncle Billy bursts in, staring into corners and shuffling papers like he expects to find thousands of dollars in cash in them (but it is Uncle Billy, so you never know). George is like "Dude, will you just act like a normal person while the bank examiner is here?" and Billy freaks out and yanks George into his office. A few seconds later, they both come out with Billy Disease, the symptoms of which involve acting very distracted and staring anywhere one might have absently laid $8,000.
Potter watches as the men march up the street, eyes firmly on the ground. With every passing minute, he feels more and more confident that Billy won't remember the newspaper. (He was exercising a businessman's caution by being worried at all, because when has Uncle Billy remembered anything, ever?)
So, after a few hours of searching, George finally screams at Billy and storms off, and it's way less satisfying than you'd think, because while somebody really ought to come down hard on Uncle Billy, it shouldn't be George. George is too smart to rail futilely at sad old men, Potter only excepted.
Then George goes home, where Mary can tell that something's up but can't get it out of him, and then we get the Zuzu's Petals scene. (In case you don't remember, daughter Zuzu is ill because she was given a flower at school and kept her coat open so as not to crush it, which makes not a lick of sense, but then again Zuzu herself doesn't make much sense, seeing as how she acts like she's never seen a flower before today. When a few petals fall off the bloom, George pockets them.)
In the face of his sick, flower-obsessed daughter, George shows admirable self-control, (although she is far more annoying than Pete, who only wants to know how to spell things properly. If I ever become a parent, I vow to never get upset with my children for asking how to spell difficult words). He's gentle with her - saving his wrath until he gets downstairs, then unloading it on Zuzu's teacher (who calls to see how she's doing), the "drafty old house," and his three healthy children.
Mary knows George has a rough time of it at work, but she'll be damned if he's going to talk to their kids that way. Finally, he shambles off, and Mary calls up Uncle Billy to find out what the heck happened at work that day.
Meanwhile, George has gone to Potter for help. And while Potter could use this opportunity to own George's whole life, he instead decides to give his own speech (um, drink?) about how George ain't so big now, is he? And then he calls the cops on him. But the main point of this scene is that George has a life insurance policy for $15,000.
So George runs off and does the only thing he can think of to do: have a few stiff drinks. This would be a good plan, all things considered, except: you know how George cussed out Zuzu's teacher earlier? Well, her husband decided the best way to comfort her would be by going out to the bar. So he attacks George, but he only gets in one good punch before the bar owner, Martini, tosses him out. Martini is one of the earliest residents of Bailey Park and a big fan of George.
(One of the brilliant things about these scenes is that even as they show George imagining that he's losing everything, they emphasize what he still has. As the bank examiner is demanding the B&L's books, Violet is saying, "I'm glad I know you, George Bailey." As the angry drunk is punching George in the face, Martini is calling George "my best friend.")
But George doesn't notice what Capra's trying to point out, so he wanders off and drunkenly plows his car into a tree. And then some guy comes up and yells at him about THAT, and you know. that is just the LAST STRAW, mister.
And that's how George Bailey comes to be standing on a bridge at "10:45 p.m. Earth time," holding his $15,000 life insurance policy, staring into the churning water below, and thinking about what Potter said before: "You're worth more dead than alive, George."
And then, something else falls out of the sky and into the river.
(on to Part 8)
Wonderful Life, part six: "In the whole vast configuration of things, I'd say you were nothing but a scurvy little spider!"
- George, it turns out, has all the work ethic that his father had, and far more business sense too, so the Building and Loan prospers.
- George starts a whole new subdivision of low-income homeowners called Bailey Park. (Incidentally, the Potter-owned slum where most of Bailey Park's residents seem to come from is called Potter's Field, which tells me that for all his faults, Potter at least has a wicked sense of humor.)
- From Potter's perspective, the B&L goes from being a minor annoyance to an actual threat to his business model (which seems to be "charge customers more than they can afford for less than they deserve"). So he calls in George and offers him a job for a ton more money and a lot of travel opportunities. George (who is fresh off a run-in with Sam Wainwright and his wealth) is momentarily dazzled, but he quickly recovers and gives a heartfelt speech (drink!) about how Potter thinks he can just buy everything he sees, but it won't work on ol' George Bailey, no sir.
- George goes home, head spinning, and Mary tells him she's pregnant. Well, there goes his shot at ever skipping town. (Up in heaven, Joseph also thinks this is obvious, but Clarence is still shocked to hear it. Oh, Clarence.)
- War were declared. Everyone in Bedford Falls helps out, in their own way - selling war bonds, sewing for the Red Cross, all that stuff you hear about the home front during WWII. Mary, now with four kids (dude!) is the super-housewife who also finds time to run the USO. Even Potter helps out by running the draft board, but as much as I'm sure he'd like to send George off to get blown up in Belgium, George's deaf ear makes him ineligible.
- So while his friends are off winning medals and parachuting into foreign countries, George deals with the only Americans we've ever seen in popular culture who are grouchy about making sacrifices during the war. They squabble for more ration points; they ignore his air raid drills. But George keeps going, just like he always has.
- Harry Bailey becomes the big hero, shooting down 15 enemy planes, two as they were about to go kamikaze on a ship filled with soldiers. (Remember when I said he's the guy movies usually get made about?)
On Christmas Eve, Harry Bailey is awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. And that brings us to the day that George Bailey is going to kill himself.
(on to Part 7)
When they come up for air, Ernie asks them what they're going to do for their honeymoon. George has been saving up for a long time for his trip around the world, so they're just going to go to the most awesome places ever and live it up until the cash runs out. Sounds good to me, and I bet it sounds good to all the people in the street who are muttering and dashing over to the bank as fast as they can go. Yes, the Great Depression has hit Bedford Falls, because this movie never met a piece of early 20th century American history it didn't like.
George is like, better check on the Building and Loan real quick before we skip town. Mary doesn't want him to go. (Even Mary, who loves Bedford Falls as much as anyone we've seen, is trying to get away. It's George, who says he hates the place, who makes them go back to make sure everything is all right.) He pulls up short at what he sees - a locked B&L door and a silent, staring mob in front of it.
George goes, OK, OK, we're gonna get all this sorted out, and he unchains the doors and leads the mob upstairs, where they catch Uncle Billy drinking straight from the bottle. (Jeez, Uncle Billy is like 10 kinds of worthless. Also, he forgot to go to the wedding.)
So I'm a little fuzzy on this part, but it seems like what happened was that because there was a run on the bank, it (the bank), trying to grab as much cash as possible, called in a loan the B&L had, so Uncle Billy had to hand over all the cash in the building. (Can banks seriously do that?) Now they have no cash for their members, they still owe the bank money, and Potter (having already covered the bank's deposits, because he's richer than God) is trying to gain control of the B&L, telling members he'll buy their shares for 50 cents on the dollar.
(This movie is about suicide and banking. How in the world did it get branded as "sentimental"?)
George tries to give another inspirational, populist speech about standing up to Potter, reminding the people that at some point, they've all known what it's like to be under Potter's thumb, and now they'll be going right back there for a few dollars. "We can get through this thing all right. But we've got to stick together! We've got to have faith in each other!" But the crowd is like, "Dude, sticking together is for people who can afford to eat. See you in Pottersville, buddy." And they start heading toward the door.
Mary didn't want to go back, but they did, and now Mary is seeing all this. She hears his speech, and she sees to the heart of what her husband tries to do every day, and she sees it all slipping through his fingers. Mary didn't want to go back, but now she stands up, flashes the Honeymoon Wad, and calls out, "How much do you need?"
And George, relieved that he still has something to share with his neighbors ("This'll tide us over till the bank reopens!") doesn't protest. He also doesn't notice when Mary slips out.
Several hours later, the B&L staff is counting down the seconds to closing time. They've given out all the money except $2 (good thing Mrs. Davis decided she could get through the week with $17.50 instead of $20 - George kissed her on both cheeks for that), and as the clock strikes, they lock the doors and cheer and take shots of whatever Uncle Billy's been drinking because they're still in business.
(This is another banking dealie that I don't understand - don't they have to open tomorrow? How are they going to get any more money if all their members have to borrow money from them just to keep living for a week? And then: "Let's put them in the safe and see what happens." Well, what do you think is gonna happen, George? You'll come back tomorrow and still have $2, and God help you if Mrs. Davis decides she needed $20 after all.)
Anyway, George realizes with a start that this is his wedding day, and just as he's about to run out looking for Mary, she calls the B&L and asks him to come home. "What home?"
Cut to the old house where they broke those windows years ago, and from the looks of the interior, bits of the roof have broken off over the years, too. But Mary and some wacky neighbors have covered the broken windows with travel posters and set up a "bridal suite" in a few of the downstairs rooms, and there's music and a chicken roasting on a spit over a fire, and there's also (the camera pointedly notes) a bedroom. George doesn't know what to say, so they just hold each other for a while - while outside, Bert the cop and Ernie the cab driver (supposedly a coincidence) serenade the couple.
"Remember the night we broke the windows in this old house?" says Mary. "This is what I wished for."
And, like Bert and Ernie, we'll take that moment to slip off and leave the lovers to their own devices.
(on to Part 6)
(You know, Harry Bailey is the kind of guy movies usually get made about. Near-death experience in childhood, glamorous college career, whirlwind romance and surprise marriage - and that's not even counting what happens later.)
Anyway, George is counting on Harry to take over the Building and Loan so he can finally go off to school and to see the world, but Harry's new father-in-law has offered him some awesome job somewhere far away from Bedford Falls. But Harry loves his family, and he'll stay if only George tells him that now it's his turn.
All this is on George's mind as he studiously avoids Harry's homecoming party. Everyone is inside laughing and having a good time, and George is sitting alone, thinking about what's best for Harry and for the town. (Lord, that's so George.)So his mom comes out and reminds him that Hottie Donna Reed is back in town, which would be good for him and the town, because then the town wouldn't have to watch them moon over each other and never do anything about it.
So George goes, "All right, Mother, old Building and Loan pal - I think I'll go find a girl and do a little passionate necking." That's not my modernist paraphrase of the situation - that is a direct quote from Jimmy Stewart. It is also now my second-favorite line in a Christmas movie ever.*
But George doesn't go call on Mary. Instead, he heads for swingin' downtown Bedford Falls, where he knows he'll run into Violet Bick.
George wishes he wanted Violet. She seems exciting - the type of girl you could take around the world with you. (Or you could just leave her in Bedford Falls, and she'd find someone else the next night.) So he gives it a try, telling her about all the impossibly romantic adventures they could go on just in that one night. But he and Violet speak different languages, and he loses her at "take off our shoes and walk through the grass." Violet does many things, but she doesn't do bare feet.
I love this next part.
So George wanders aimlessly, and it's so weird how he just happens to wind up pacing in front of Mary's house. Mary fluffs her hair, puts "Buffalo Gals" on the phonograph, and invites George in. He sits on the sofa and looks miserable and answers questions in the rudest way possible, because he doesn't want to feel the way he does, and he certainly doesn't want Mary sitting there, looking the way she does, trying to get him to remember how they harmonized to "Buffalo Gals." And then the best thing ever happens.
MRS. HATCH. Mary? Who's down there with you?
MARY. It's George Bailey, Mother.
MRS. HATCH. George Bailey? What's he want?
GEORGE. Me? Nothing - I just came in to get warm.
MARY. He's making violent love to me, Mother.
HAHAHAHAHA - and THAT is my favorite line in a Christmas movie ever.
Just then, Sam Wainwright calls, because apparently he's been seeing Mary? I dunno - I never understood this part, because clearly Sam + Mary are all wrong. But it gives her an opportunity to get George's hackles up ("yes, Sam, old moss-back George") - and then Sam says he wants to talk to both of them at once.
So they put their heads together so they can both hear the phone, and their lips are almost touching so they can both speak into the receiver, and honestly I don't have any idea what Sam is saying (something about a soybean factory?) because they are so clearly attracted to each other that the tension is unbearable. It's like back in that high school gymnasium when they're devouring each other with their eyes; Mary is almost crying by the end: "I, I-I'm here, Sam," she manages.
Sam is still talking, in fact, when George drops the phone, grabs Mary by the shoulders - and starts shaking her. He grits that he's leaving, d'you hear, and he doesn't want to ever get married, not to anyone! But he's all out of bluster. "Oh, Mary, Mary, Mary ..."
And they fall into each other's arms. Looks like George will have a traveling partner on that trip around the world.
* The line that used to hold the silver medal is from Holiday Inn:
"How'd he get that far in five minutes?"
"The lady must have been willing."
(on to Part 5)
Wonderful Life, part three: "I'm gonna shake the dust of this crummy little town off my feet, and I'm gonna see the world!"
(Side note: my sister's favorite line in this movie is George asking for a larger suitcase in the most Jimmy Stewart-y voice ever. "I, I, I want a BIG one!")
Harry Bailey is graduating from high school today. Most of George's friends are in college, but he had to stay behind and work at the Building and Loan until he saved up the money to go. (Here's a fun drinking game you can start now: take a drink every time George has to stay behind and work at the Building and Loan. By the end of the movie, you'll be very drunk and very depressed.)
George's dad tries to convince him to stay on, but George wants to do BIG things, not insignificant stuff like running a tiny B&L in a tiny town. Mr. Bailey says the B&L is important in its own way, seeing as how it's the town's last line of defense against Potter. George is like, "Good thing you're around to keep it going, then! I'm off to drink bathtub gin with Harry's high school friends, and tomorrow I'm taking two aspirin and getting on that boat."
So off he goes to Harry's graduation party. There, he meets his old pal Mike, who's back from college and who asks George to do him a solid and make sure his kid sister Mary isn't alone all night. George mutters about baby-sitting until he sees that Little Mary Hatch has turned into Soft-Focus Hottie Donna Reed, and then there's this excellent part where they look like they're trying to eat each other up with their eyes, they're staring so hard. They dance a wacky new dance that all the kids are into called the Charleston - and honestly, the way everyone in the room is carrying on, it looks pretty fun. (My guess is that bathtub gin makes everything more fun.)
But even more fun is when a spurned would-be suitor of Mary's decides to get back at George by opening up the gymnasium floor to reveal the pool just underneath the dancing couple. George and Mary get back at him just by being themselves; they have such a good time splashing in the pool (still dancing the Charleston, by the looks of it!) that everyone else jumps in too, including the principal of the school - and eventually, the bitter suitor himself.
Later, George walks Mary home, she in a bathrobe and he in an old-timey football uniform. They harmonize badly on "Buffalo Gals" and pass by an old abandoned house. (Trivia time! The house and the song are the inspiration for the production card of My So-Called Life production company The Bedford Falls Co.) George says the boys used to make wishes on rocks thrown through the windows of the house; he demonstrates on one of only two windows left. He says his wish is to get the hell out of Bedford Falls, explore the world, do big things in big places, and never settle down.
Mary is silent for a moment. Then she picks up a rock and shatters the last unbroken window. Dude, after a throw like that, I want to marry her. "What'd you wish for?" George asks. Mary stares at him for a few seconds, then wanders off singing "Buffalo Gals." George doesn't press the point - he's just happy to be walking home with a total smokin' babe.
So, walky walk, flirty flirt, there's some business with a grouchy neighbor, and the upshot is, George accidentally steps on Mary's robe, and it slips off. She screams and flees into the bushes. George is delighted. There's some banter ("I'll call the police!" "They're down the street; they won't hear you. Plus, they'd be on my side."), but it's cut short when a car pulls up and George's Uncle Billy shouts from it, "George, come home quickly! Your father's had a stroke."
A few months later, George and Uncle Billy are standing in front of the B&L board wearing black armbands. George had to cancel his pre-college trip around the world to help out after his father's death, but he's leaving for school (you guessed it!) tomorrow. Maybe even tonight. Then Potter pipes up (Mr. Bailey let him on the board to try to shut him up about closing the place all the time) with a motion to dissolve the B&L. (So, um, guess that plan didn't work out very well.)
Potter says the place doesn't make any money because it gives loans to deadbeats, but when he starts naming off people George knows - and George knows everyone in Bedford Falls - George gets upset. Another drinking game you can start playing now is taking a drink whenever George makes an impassioned, populist speech against Potter. Man, by the end of this movie, you're gonna be schmammered.
So George and Uncle Billy go outside to wait for the board's decision and tell their staff to start getting their resumes together. But the decision comes back: the board voted to keep the B&L going! Under one condition: George has to stay on as Executive Partner. George is like, what about Uncle Billy? The board goes, "Dude, have you met Uncle Billy? Right this second he has 14 strings tied around his fingers, and one of them is to remind him to breathe."
Fair enough, sighs George - and for the third time in this section alone, he's staying behind to work at the Building and Loan.
P.S. It's pretty clear that I underestimated the number of posts I'd do on this movie, since I haven't even gotten to the Great Depression yet. Sorry! I just keep coming across scenes I love and want to describe them in detail.
(on to Part 4)
"That boy?" says Clarence.
OMG you are a dummy, sighs Joseph. It's 1919 in this scene, and George is 12 years old. He and his friends are sledding down a hill on snow shovels, because when George Bailey was your age they didn't have your fancy toboggans and saucers. They did have catchphrases, though ("Hee-haw!" shouts little Sammy Wainwright as he zips past), and they clearly didn't have to walk 10 miles in the snow uphill both ways to slide all the way across the pond and into the unfrozen creek, because Harry Bailey does that on his very first try.
"George saved his brother's life that day," says Joseph as we see George dive in after Harry and arrange a human chain to fish him out. The hero's reward? An infection that left him deaf in one ear.
A few months later, George is on the mend and back at his job at the drugstore. He serves ice cream to Mary and Violet, who are like 8 years old - but you can already tell that Violet is going to be trouble. She calls George "Georgie" and asks him to help her off the stool. He looks disgusted. So does Mary, who waits until George is busying himself under the counter, then whispers, "Is this the ear you can't hear anything out of? ... George Bailey, I'll love you till the day I die."
Then George pops back up and tells her that first chance he gets, he's gonna blow town and be a dashing explorer who travels the world and leaves trails of devastated women in his wake. Good choice, there, Mary.
What with all this romance, I forgot to mention that George's boss, Mr. Gower, is extremely drunk and sobbing in a corner. George noticed this as soon as he walked in (ya gotta have sharp eyes to be a good explorer!), and now he finds out why - there's a crumpled telegram on the cash register informing Gower that his son has died of the newfangled influenza.
You guys, you do not want your prescription filled by a drunk pharmacist. Gower stumbles around, unwittingly makes some pills out of POISON, and calls to George to deliver the pills. George takes the pills and runs off to ask his dad what to do.
Dad is at the Bailey Building and Loan, arguing about something or other with Potter. You all know Potter. You all hate Potter. So does George Bailey - he blows up at the old man and Dad tosses him out before he can ask whether he should deliver poison to a kid with diphtheria. Luckily, he decides on his own that the answer is no.
When George returns to the shop, Gower grabs him and starts throwing him around, demanding to know why he got a call from the family saying they didn't get their pills. He smacks George on his infected ear, which starts bleeding. "Don't you know that boy's very sick?" he shouts. Gower knows how it feels to have a sick child.
Through the blows, George finally gets out that the pills are poison - "I know you didn't mean it, you just feel bad about the telegram" - and thrusts them at Gower. Gower tastes one, and even though it's a black-and-white film, you can see his face go ashen. He falls to his knees - "Don't hit my ear again!" shrieks George - and throws his arms around the kid. They're both crying. (So am I, again. This movie!) "I'll never tell anyone," George vows.
So, within a couple months, at the age of 12, George Bailey saved two lives. Surely even Clarence can handle this case, right?
(on to Part 3)
These prayers soar up to - heaven? It looks like outer space. God and St. Joseph are represented by star clusters, and they discuss the part that everyone remembers: George Bailey is about to kill himself, and Clarence Oddbody is the guardian angel who's got to stop him. What people might not remember is that Clarence is a bit of a screwup (he's been trying to earn his wings for two centuries!), and Joseph doesn't think they should entrust him with something as important as a man's life. Space God thinks Clarence's faith will see him through.
So they call over Clarence (represented by a tiny star), and he's happy for the opportunity. He's got an hour before George bites it, and he thinks the most important thing to do with that hour is to dress to blend in with the 1940s folks he'll be meeting. Joseph is like, "Seriously, dude? No, you're going to watch this movie of the life of George Bailey so you'll know how to deal with him when you do meet him. You're going to tell him you're a 200-year-old wingless angel anyway - may as well be dressed like a visitor from colonial Williamsburg while you're at it. No wonder you're still AS2."
(I like how Joseph is pretty much only in this scene, but you still get a sense of how exasperated he is with Clarence. Space God says pretty much the same thing, but he's much gentler about it.)
The screen goes dark: we're seeing from Clarence's point of view, and apparently the watching-movies-of-people's-lives power comes with having wings. Joseph, a little sarcastically, helps Clarence see, and gradually the picture comes into focus: George Bailey as a 12-year-old boy.
(on to Part 2)
This is a movie that gets unfairly categorized as "saccharine drivel" (ahem, Dan) because the only part of it anyone remembers is the happy ending, which is meaningless if you don't recall the heartbreaking story that got us there.
It's a story about a man who gave up everything he always wanted to do because he couldn't let other people down, couldn't let Goliath beat David, and so he watched his peers vault past him and get the adventures and experience that were rightfully his. He tried to be happy with his lot, and for a time he was. And then one day, Goliath cheated to win.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
I'll probably do five or six posts on the movie, so watch this space.
EDIT. Here's my series:
I saw it on BongBoing, where the consensus is "OMG Obama uses a Mac and how cute is that sticker" with a smattering of "well now I wish I hadn't voted for him ;) ."
The Mac thing is cool and all (and the sticker is cute!), but I mostly just think it's a great photo. Here's a link to the original, taken for Rolling Stone.
(How do you put captions under photos in Blogger, like Gina does? I want Violet to be saying, "What? I'm Sarah Vowell?")
And from Vowell's Wikipedia page, another fun fact:
The makers of The Incredibles discovered Vowell from episode 81 – Guns of This American Life where she and her father fire a homemade cannon. Pixar made a test animation for Violet using audio from that sequence, which is included on the DVD version of The Incredibles.
Which I own, of course. Guess I know what I'm doing this afternoon while my banana bread is in the oven.
- Best Week Ever's daily Best Night Ever video, which today makes fun of the ridiculous use of charts, graphics, and "holograms" in the coverage:
- A Salon article on how the conservative crew at Fox News handled the election. It was interesting to see Fox News next to CNN on the bar TVs last night - the former was much quicker to call states, red or blue. We didn't have the sound on, but it looks like they spent the evening gearing up for an Obama administration:
From the beginning of the Fox election broadcast at 6 p.m., it was brutally clear that Hume and Shep Smith and Chris Wallace and all their guests and commentators had seen the exit-polling data and were not laboring under the delusion that those numbers reflected some 2004-style miscalculation. Sure, earlier in the day the network had ventilated a certain amount of unfounded racist paranoia, endlessly repeating some footage of a surly-looking fellow outside a polling place in Philadelphia who apparently represented the leading edge of a massive "Black Panther" conspiracy to intimidate white voters. (I guess it worked!)
But in general, the Fox team displayed an oddly jolly professionalism. They seemed determined to take their medicine, with the stick-to-itiveness of a losing football team dreaming of bright days far in the future or the past (and the near certainty that their core audience was going to bed, by the millions, in despair). Though it went briefly wobbly on Ohio, Fox didn't really show any particular reluctance to call states for Obama, and after New Hampshire (at 8:11) and Pennsylvania (at 8:30), its commentators quit pretending there was any serious doubt about the outcome and began arguing about what kind of president Obama would be -- and what kind of country he was inheriting from you-know-who.
Make sure you click to the second page to watch Juan Williams choke up a little.
And as I dug into my blog breakfast, I found these tasty links: Newseum's roundup of today's front pages and a big collection of editorial cartoons on the Obama victory. (After seeing those cartoons, I realized I never knew what we had in Jim Borgman until it was gone. some of them are just godawful.)
(Windows users need not despair; Hamm wrote a previous post on TSD listing 30 such programs for Windows.)
Universal Healthcare. Everyone I know that freelances or works a day job and wishes they could quit and follow their dreams of launching a company complains about the lack of healthcare. Whenever I used to talk about freelancing at tech conferences, the first question was always about healthcare coverage. I've heard that in places like Berlin where you don't have to worry about where your healthcare is coming from or how much it costs, up to 35% of working age adults are freelancers. It may sound crazy and anti-capitalist to consider healthcare for all, but if we flipped a switch tomorrow and everyone had health coverage I swear a million small businesses would launch overnight. I know lots of people that keep a job just to get healthcare that are wasting their creative talents because they had a cancer scare or were born with a defect or otherwise are deemed uninsurable on their own.
I never thought of it this way before!
Yeah on the catwalk, on the catwalk, yeah, my mom takes blurry cell phone pictures of me on the catwalk.
So this is the bridesmaid's dress I'll be wearing in my sister's wedding, sort of. (They didn't have any red dresses in the store, so I had to try on a purple one and have the red one shipped.)
It's a very pretty dress: one I would feel comfortable wearing again, which is unheard of in bridesmaid-dress-dom. I got a compliment from a random girl in the dressing room, too, which is always nice.
My mom sent these photos to my sister and got a reply to the effect of, "I can tell she likes it; she's doing that little Kelly smile."
Some people like to flavor their roasted-ground-up-subtropical-cherry-pit brew with a solution made from the dried seed pods of one of three species of a rare orchid. (These orchids don't self-pollinate, so in order to get the pod, you either have to trust the pollinating power of insects and wind, or go around harvesting the pollen and brushing it onto the flowers' pistils yourself.) This flavor is now so widely used that it is sometimes used as a synonym for "dull."
Isn't that crazy?
And boy, was she surprised!
As she looked around and saw all her friends and family, she kept making great new surprised faces. This one was the best:
I think that's when she saw Katie G., a friend of hers from high school who also drove up from Cincinnati.
OK, since I posted that picture, I am obligated to show you one where she looks like her beautiful self:
We had a toast. (My family is constantly wandering around with upraised glasses of whatever liquids are available, searching for someone to clink with. Of course we had a toast.)
And then we got down to business - "business" in this case meaning tables and tables of food. I finally met my sister's friend Ali, who brought these beautiful little cookies (and is totally welcome to grab this photo for her site if she wants, BTW).
I heard rumors that one of the treats might even be considered "healthy," but I was too busy digging into chili and salad to investigate.
Here's me, my lovely sister, and Katie G.
After the party, not even making the dull drive down I-71 for the second time in one day could get me down. (The new CDs I had bought for the trip helped, too.)
When I flipped on Morning Edition this morning, it wasn't the top story. The program kicked off with efforts in Washington to address the financial crisis, then segued into the WaMu story: Speaking of the economy, a bank you've actually heard of failed overnight ...
I'm not slamming NPR's news judgment. I totally believe that compared to the wacky will-they-or-won't-they drama in Washington yesterday - especially considering its potential effect on the debate tonight, not to mention the fact that $700,000,000,000 is at stake - the failure of one more major U.S. financial institution could be considered less newsworthy. I mean, by now it's basically business as usual, right?
Which is why it's scary.
- John McTini
- Obama Bahama Mama
- Scotch on the Baracks
- (Whiskey,) Straight (Up) Talk Express
- Champagnes We Can Believe In
- Amber Barack
- Rolling Barack
- Palin Ale
- Red State Stripe
- Blue State Moon
- Hefe-Biden (too much?)
I think of fantasy football as a socially acceptable form of Dungeons and Dragons, in that it involves elaborate management of statistics in an attempt to better your odds against a roll of the dice. (Carson threw to your guy TJ instead of Chad, even though both were open? Natural 20!) I always imagine it would be even better if you could collect stuff like a +3 Shoulder Pads of Defense.
This video doesn't really get at that aspect of it, but it's still funny if you're a fantasy football outsider.
P.S. In case you were wondering, my fake fantasy football team name (fantasy fantasy football?) is Dr. Kelly's 100 Percent Natural Good-Time Football Solution.
On Monday night, I began by trying out this recipe (found by Googling "heirloom cherry tomato recipes" and picking one that didn't require, like, two pounds of tomatoes). I used cod instead of halibut 'cause that's what I had on hand, and I added a couple tablespoons of wine to the tomatoes as they cooked. The result, served with couscous:
OK, so the fish was overcooked (the result of trying to sear cod) and the couscous was dry (because it came out of the freezer instead of fresh from the pot), but I didn't care, because those tomatoes? Holy crap, those tomatoes were good. I mean, seriously, wow. I loved them so much that I was really happy the recipe called for only half of them, because that meant I got to make them again on Thursday night! (That time, I served them over chicken and had roasted potatoes on the side.)
(By the way, is there any better smell in the universe than garlic sautéing in olive oil? Why is there no Yankee Candle for that smell?)
Tuesday, I boiled some pasta and opened up my paper bag of mushrooms - only to find that they had shriveled to about half of their original volume. But no matter: a half-hour soaking in some water perked them back up.
So, butter and a little olive oil; garlic; the mushrooms, all diced up; some wine; sea salt and pepper; some basil at the end. (It's basically the tomatoes all over again.) Add the pasta to the pan and toss; serve with lots of Parmesan. (No picture this time; I forgot, but it wasn't that pretty anyway.) It was tasty, but the reconstituted mushrooms still wound up being pretty insubstantial. $4 for 4 oz is probably not the best use of your farmer's market dollar.
So that just leaves the rest of the basil, which I stripped the leaves from yesterday. I've got about two cups, so I think I'll halve this pesto recipe ...
LATER. Welp, that's done. I took a picture but decided not to post it because it didn't look very appetizing. Good thing it tastes so delicious.
So that's the end of the farmer's market veggies! Yay! Aaaand I've got a special treat for anyone who was interested in the fate of Wilty the Kalewhale: he did not get thrown out! Instead, he and some of his veggie friends (who I save in a freezer bag for just such an occasion) got tossed into a Crock-Pot with some water for 12 hours. The result: six cups of vegetable stock, which are now stacked neatly in my freezer:
The V written on each container stands for "victory over wastefulness"! (OK, it also stands for "veggie.")
Heirloom cherry tomatoes ...
... sweet basil, and ...
... oyster mushrooms! (OK, the mushrooms are a little hard to see.)
Finding myself actually awake and dressed before noon on a Sunday, I decided to walk over to the farmers' market (in Hyde Park, to be known henceforth as Oakley near) to see what I could see. $9.50 got me this lovely produce, which I am bound and determined to use before it spoils for once. (Wilting bunch of kale in the fridge, this is for you.)
Ever since then, I can't help but notice that my dishes don't seem to be getting as clean as I remember.
Am I giving the dishes more scrutiny since he said that? Is it the cheap-o soap I recently bought? Or is it that my dishwasher just can't handle knowing that someone out there doesn't believe in it?
I think it's the last one. So I added a quarter-cup of vinegar to the rinse dispenser and told the dishwasher it was magic elixir. Already I've been seeing improvement.
- Horses (many, including one rolling around on its back)
- Llamas (!)
- Goats (I had been looking for sheep, but they worked too)
- Deer (one, a fawn, nibbling grass off the side of the highway)
- Pigs (at first I thought they were sheep, because they were huge and kind of pillowy)
- Sheep (finally, between Columbus and Cincinnati on the way home - and in a pen with one llama!)
Hmm - thanks to my jam-packed weekend, I think I have the privilege of being both the first and the last to blog about the first-ever Greater Cincinnati Bloggers Convention. (UPDATE. Harrumph - Joe and Kevin proved me wrong.) It was a fab time, and I met plenty of cool people. Here are links to them:
- Cincinnati Locavore
- Cincinnati Commercial Real Estate
- Cincy Chic
- Buy Cincy
- Queen City Survey
- Juliet and Juliette
- Live Green Cincinnati
There were lots more folks there, but I get a little shy meeting new people. So I spent a lot of time talking with the people I already knew - Gerard, Chris, and, of course, Mr. W.
Here's what other attendees had to say:
- Building Cincinnati
- Cincinnati Blog
- Clark Street Blog
- Die Fledermaus
- Juliet and Juliette
- Journey Is The Reward
- Kate's Random Musings
- Not Really a Book Blog Book Blog
- Report This!
- wine me, dine me (in cincinnati)
Oy vey, now I've totally got to update my blogroll. But those Mercantile folk know how to put on a shindig, and I look forward to hanging out there more often. (Also, I found out that some of the librarians are fans of my languishing copy editing blog. Guess I'll have to make a special effort to start updating that again.)
When I log in, this is what I see:
So right away, that's some pretty good info. And you can break that down in graph form.
But Sitemeter also pulls information about my individual visitors. Like, crazy amounts of data. Like what monitor resolution they have. (I can actually see how this would be helpful, depending on what you're trying to do with your site; you could scale your design up or down to fit the majority of your viewers' monitors.)
Also, you can pull up a world map that shows where all your visitors come from. This is the most fun part.
The cursor disappeared when I took the screenshot, but what's happening is that I'm mousing over a little green dot on the eastern edge of China, which causes a white box to pop up with the viewer's server and location.
So if I click on that visitor from T'ai-pei, I discover that he found this old post on a Google search for "something told the wild geese" (OK, wow, that post is the #1 hit for that search in Google Taiwan!) and stayed for 0 seconds. Guess he didn't find what he was looking for. Also, he was using IE 7.0 on a Windows NT machine.
Anyway, that's Sitemeter. Can you see why I love it so far?
UPDATE. Sorry, I forgot to mention my one problem with Sitemeter: as far as I know, it doesn't track RSS subscribers. (Or if it does, it doesn't distinguish them from regular visitors.) Anyone know more about this?
Why, hello, A-Rod! Call me if this thing with Madonna doesn't work out.
We were in one of those "order your food from your seats" sections. Sweet! I got a Hebrew National Deli Dog, which was listed as being a quarter pound. Have you ever heard of a quarter-pound hot dog? Anyway, it was huge, delicious, and served on a nice poppy-seed roll. I was enthralled. And it came with chips!
While I was eating my hot dog, the baby being held by the woman in the seat in front of me looked my way. I went into my usual "baby" routine - funny faces and arm waves - and he started bouncing around and reaching out for my hot dog, which was part of the show.
The woman said, "Uh-oh, he's trying to steal your hot dog!" I said, "He'd better not - this thing is good! I'll fight him for it."
Hebrew National should change their slogan from "We answer to a higher authority" to "So good, you'll fight a baby for one."
You better watch out, kid.
I felt lucky to be there for one of the last games to be played in the old Yankee Stadium. One of the big outfield ads is also a countdown of home games left, and after the fifth inning, it changed from 33 to 32.
And to top it all off, the Yankees won. (I'm not normally a Yankees fan, but when in Rome ...) So we got to exit the stadium to the sounds of Frank Sinatra.
"Start spreadin' the news ..."
Some blogs do a "Friday open thread." Inspired by Gina's need for a space to discuss my cat, I'm going to try a "Thursday open thread" instead.
Got something to say about Thursday (the cat or the day)? Put it in the comments.
I've known my mother long enough to know that if I come to watch one of her sporting events - heck, if I'm in the same neighborhood as one of her sporting events - I will most likely wind up being drafted to play. (This is a general hazard of knowing people who play sports: sports teams never have enough people, so you're always being asked to play. This pressure is doubled when your mom is asking you, and trebled when you're right there on the sidelines looking on.)
But that didn't occur to me when I went out to Setters this evening to watch her play sand volleyball. I showed up showered (even moisturized!) and wearing jeans and looking generally not like someone who is expecting to play sand volleyball.
This assumption worked just fine for two games.
My mom's team won both those games. They play the third game notwithstanding - but one of the team members must have forgotten, because she booked it out of there five seconds after game two ended.
So the three remaining team members were standing around, thinking their friend was in the bathroom or something, and I saw my mom gesture toward the stands where I was sitting. Her teammate looked in my direction.
I said to my dad, "She's telling them I can play."
My dad paused for a moment, then said, "No!" I don't know why he sounded so surprised - he's been drafted into coed softball games before.
Sure enough, a few minutes later, my mom came over and said, "Hey, Kel - can you play until the other girl comes back?" So I rolled up my jeans and was three points into the game before I found out that someone had seen the regular teammate peeling out of the parking lot.
Anyway, I didn't embarrass myself, we won the game, and I did have fun. But now I have to take another shower tonight, and I can't wear these jeans to work tomorrow.
Maybe I should just start showing up to watch my mom's games already wearing the right clothing to play the sport. After the game, I found out she once made my sister play softball in a skirt. ("But it was a sweat skirt!" she said.)
The key to Twitter, I think, is seeing it not as a mini-blog but as a communication tool for friends. Don't you want to know what your friends are doing, right this second? Well, don't you? Are you a bad friend or something?
Also, the ability to update easily via text message is attractive; it means that I'll be able to post little life updates from my vacation in New Jersey next week so you won't go insane from Kelly deprivation. (The DSM IV lists it as treatable only with the regular application of Gina, which works as a kind of Kelly methadone.)
Except today, I didn't notice that she was getting ready for a jump. I felt her front paws hit my arm, then scrabble wildly for a split second before she dropped over the edge of the desk, upending the wastebasket on her way. Whoops.
It never occurred to me that I had a crucial role in this maneuver of hers. I guess when I'm at my computer, I'll just have to keep one eye on the radiator. I wouldn't want to let Thursday down.
So late last week I cooked up a batch of chickpeas, figuring I'd make hummus or something. But then there was this party and I didn't have the time to figure out the proportions for The Ultimate Homemade Hummus, so I just bought some at Kroger a half-hour before the party. And because I was hungry, I bought way too much, so now I have a fridge full of hummus AND a full Crock-Pot's worth of chickpeas.
Luckily for me, Kris at Cheap Healthy Good uses psychic power to tap into my every culinary need. I want a schmancy dish to serve my mom for her birthday; she posts Chicken Marsala. I have 17,000 chickpeas what needs eatin'; she puts up Curried Chickpeas and Black Beans. It's eerie!
I should probably be concerned that Kris will use her powers to extract my bank account numbers from my head or something, but for the moment, I'm just happy to have something for dinner.
You never think it'll happen to someone you know
A few weeks ago, on the same day that Cincinnati and the nation mourned Matt Maupin, I attended a memorial service for another young person whose life was cut short all too soon.
Meredith, one of my sister's best friends from high school, died on April 22. She was 25 years old. She left behind a husband, a family and dozens of best friends.
I asked my sister to share her memories of her friend for this column. Here's what she had to say
"Meredith was a people magnet. Everyone wanted to be her friend! Freshman year of high school we played volleyball together and she said to me one day after practice, 'I think we should be friends.' ... She and her dad took out her new group of friends from freshman year on their boat to water ski. I remember how patient and helpful Meredith was letting us all learn how to water ski. She let us all take multiple turns and let us try until we got it. Each time I'd fall in the water, she'd tell me how close I was, and how I'd get it the next time.
"That is what I remember about Meredith. Letting everyone feel so special - as though you were her best friend. She wanted everyone to feel welcome, and wanted everyone to be a part of everything that made her so happy. She glowed, and she embraced everyone as though they were a part of her family."
Meredith died of colon cancer. For years, she went to the doctors with digestive complaints, but no one thought to order a colonoscopy because people as young as her just don't get colon cancer. Except when they do. By the time it was discovered, the cancer had spread to other organs.
After her diagnosis, Meredith lived just under two years. During this time, she decided to establish a foundation to promote early detection of colon cancer, and now her family is continuing this work with the Meredith's Miracle Colon Cancer Foundation. Its mission includes making young people, their families and medical professionals aware of symptoms that could serve as a first warning, as well as taking steps to have insurance companies pay for colonoscopies earlier in life.
A colonoscopy is the only method of cancer detection that can also serve to stop the cancer in its tracks. The camera is equipped with a wire loop that cuts out suspicious polyps, with the aid of an electric charge, before they can turn into the awful things that eat people alive. This is why insurers generally allow older people to have the procedure for free.
If you've been going to doctors with the same digestive symptoms over and over again, ask them if they wouldn't consider recommending a colonoscopy. You never know what they might be overlooking.
Kelly Hudson, a copy editor for CiN Weekly, hopes you'll visit www.caringbridge.org/visit/meredith to learn more about Meredith's story and the Meredith's Miracle Colon Cancer Foundation.
Here there were far fewer spectators, and no bands at all. Too bad! About the only sound was that of runners thanking the police officers who were keeping the roads clear for us.
But then again, who needs cheering when it's downhill all the way back to the city?
I never thought I'd wish for level ground instead of a downhill slope to run on, but my knees were killing me by the end of the hill on Gilbert.
About this time, I struck up a conversation with a girl who I'd been matching pace with for like a half mile. Jess, who had come down from Bowling Green for the race, became my new running buddy, and we ran the rest of the way together. I forgot to get a picture of her, but she's in some of my finish-line photos.
I should've taken this photo at mile 10, because at that point, any further would be the longest distance I'd ever run. But I forgot and had to settle for this "officially farther than I'd ever gone before" shot.
So we turned onto Reading, and who was waiting there for me but my mom! I introduced her to my new friend Jess, and she ran alongside us for a couple of blocks. She cried a little. (I teased her for this, but the truth is, I choked up myself a little bit later, after the race.) Soon, she broke off from us to go meet up with my dad.
So when we made the turn onto Eggleston, there they were, yelling like crazy and taking pictures like I was Britney Spears or something. Then, after we had passed them by, I heard, "KELLY! I don't know how to save these photos!" A few seconds later, they both zipped past me on the sidewalk, sprinting like crazy to get ahead of me so they could take more pictures. (They saved them this time.)
The finish line? Crazy. There were so many people there! I wonder if it was as loud as I remember; in my head the cheers were deafening.
I didn't expect to see anyone I knew except possibly Mr. W, so when I heard a girl's voice screaming for me, I was confused. I was almost past the guy and girl cheering when my running-addled brain finally IDed them as my co-worker Amber and her boyfriend Mike. Amber was there to cheer on our Pig bloggers, whom she coordinated, but such is the excitement of the Flying Pig that she is now talking about running the half next year. If you go to watch the Flying Pig, be aware that this is a very real danger.
(A side note: Mr. W was in fact at the finish line, but I didn't see him. When I told him that, he said, "Really? You looked right at me and waved." We eventually figured out that he must have been right behind Amber and Mike. Wish I had a Penseive so I could go back and see him there.)
I can't really describe how I felt as I finished - it all sounds so cliched. I was soaring, I guess? Afterward came medals and the mylar blanket (which I was surprised to find I needed) and a big lane of booths giving out bananas and Sun Chips and things. At the end of this lane, Mr. W met up with me.
That's when I choked up a bit.
Josh and Chele had great times and waited forever for my slow butt. (My official time was 2:51:20, which was under my goal of three hours! Yay!) After I finally joined them, we all went to Daybreak and got eggs, and then I spent six hours playing video games.
The end! Other pics I took from the race are here.
After the stuff from the starting line, this is the only picture I have from the first three miles of the race. That's because I spent that time doing two things: A) rewording the chorus to "Good Morning Baltimore" from Hairspray so it was about the Flying Pig, and B) trying to keep up with Chele. I stuck with her for two miles, but by the middle of Covington, she was out of my sight.
"Good morning Flying Pig!
We run slow, but we don't give a fig.
Ev'ry day's a half marathon;
Run 13 miles and your energy's gone ..."
Oh, hey. We're headed back to Ohio on the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge.
Sandy's shirt reads, "If you can read this you've just been passed by a member of the AARP. Just finish!" Sandy was doing a run-walk program, so she passed me like six times - she'd run and pass me; she'd walk and I'd pass her, and so on. Just before she left me behind, I got this picture.
I really liked the light downtown.
And it was very cool to see so many people out cheering on the runners. People say the Pig is really great for that compared to other marathons. I wouldn't know. Perhaps I'll never know. Perhaps the Pig will be the only marathon I ever run. I'm OK with that.
As the course left downtown on Gilbert, the first half marathon runners were starting to trickle into the final approach on Eggleston below. This guy wasn't the winner, but he had to have been in the top 20.
Here's something nonrunners might not know about the sport. As you run, you naturally bounce up and down, and the effect is that any, um, stuff that is traveling through your insides will shift and settle and generally move towards the point of its planned exit. This is a very delicate way of saying that those Porta-Potties are an utter necessity.
I first began to feel the need for them on the bridge back to Ohio, but seeing the long lines for them caused me to tough it out until mile 6, at the beginning of Eden Park. That's where I took this lovely picture.
I skipped over all the hilly bad parts of Eden Park to bring you ... the Delta Kings Chorus! I heard another runner saying how cool they were - until she could see them, she thought the music was coming from a CD.
On the other side of the Delta Kings was an amazing view of the river! Let's take a closer look:
Man, you've really gotta love this town sometimes.
All the people in this photo (except for the volunteer on the left) are running the full marathon. That's because this is the point where we separated: half marathoners turn left and go back downtown; full marathoners turn right and continue with the next THREE QUARTERS of their race. (Sometimes I think maybe I could actually run a full marathon. Then I consider that fact - that when I had less than 5 miles to go, they had 18. Yeah, that's insane.)
Coming soon: the thrilling conclusion!