Karate Kid

You know, I had always thought I’d seen Karate Kid. But I’d never seen it, really. I’d only seen Karate Kid 2. They play the last minute of the first movie in the sequel, so I thought I’d seen it when I hadnt.

Where did Ralph Macchio go? He is SO cute in this movie. Oh my god. I felt 14 years old, I swear. All googly and crushy at this boy.

I had to google him to find out what’s he’s up to. Well, to be honest, I wanted to find a more recent photo. He’s 41 now, and I really thought I’d like to see how he matured. Mabye he’s even cuter now, with a little more experience.

I couldn’t find any older pictures of him. Too bad, i’m pretty sure he’s aged well.

The movie is so familiar to so many people. I mean, how else could I have THOUGHT i’d seen it when I hadn’t? But I was totally taken in.

Yeah, it’s about Karate and kicking the ass of the high school rich bully. Which was great, don’t get me wrong. OH my god, though, it is still a major chick flick. Just the way he treats his girlfriend…And the way he folds her into a hug..MMmmm…

I’m gonna watch it again.

Oh, I shouldn’t forget to mention the Soundtrack. It is a total 80s time capsule. Some good songs on there.

_Maid in Manhattan_

Seeing the previews for this movie made it seem like it had all the depth of a piece of paper. But actually, it was a lot better than it looked.

Classic Cinderella story, really. The maid in the hotel gets mistaken for one of the ritzy guests, the “Prince Charming.” Of course, one of the irritating things about the classic Cinderella story is how passive Cinderella is.

The Cinderella we all know is the one who is so sweet and good, she wouldn’t dare stand up for herself and push back at the wicked step-women. Of course, it turns out she doesn’t has to, because the prince comes along and rescues her.

Dr. Phil would not approve.

Jennifer Lopez as the Maid in Manhattan Cinderella is not so passive. She has a lot more going on. She has a past, represented by her mother, her ten-year-old son Ty and his invisible father. She has a present, mostly represented by her job and her son’s issues. And she has dreams of a future that she wants to make for herself.

The issues of class, self-doubt, and self-respect are a big part of the movie. And of course, LOVE. But a got-your-head-on-pretty-straight love.

It was quite an enjoyable show.

Oh, yeah. Don’t forget the soundtrack. Little gifted Ty is all into 70s stuff. They picked some of the good tunes you remember, plus some break-your-heart love songs.

Gathering Impressions

Tamara Kobilkina, a dear friend from Mirnyy, had that certain turn of phrase. She spoke English very well, but there are ragged edges in the overlap of languages. One idea can be expressed beautifully in one language, perhaps because it is a concept widely understood by the culture. But that same idea is awkward in another language.

Tamara liked to ask me what my impressions of Russia were, what I thought of different things and places that I have seen.

I had forgotten about her “Impressions” question until I went to Germany with Chris. I was full of ideas and new sites, sounds and tastes. I turned to Chris, to ask him what he thought of everything.

I had to grope for the right phrase. “So what do you think?” did not adequately cover the ground.

“What are your impressions of this place?” is just right.

If I ever see Tamara again, I will thank her for that beautifully fitting question.

I have so many many many many impresssions.

I loved the trip. I have been LONGING to go to a foriegn country. I have been to the UK and to Ireland in the past decade. But they did not feel foriegn.

Because, you see, we speak the same language. How foriegn can we be?

And I remember the HIGHLY foriegn country that I spent a year and a half in.

Anyone that knows my family, not just one or two individuals, but my whole family, knows that some part of us is frozen, like Han Solo, around the impressions we got in Russia.

So, I wanted to try a new flavor of foriegn country. Russia was so tremendously exciting.

Tamara told me that I understood the Russian soul.

I don’t think so. Maybe just being impressionable is the Russian soul.

Right now, I am full to the brim of impressions of my trip to Germany. I am very sad to have left.

Yet, here I am talking about everything but Germany!

well, there is a lot to tell.

One of my huge impressions is of the contrast, how INCREDIBLY TERRIFYING my stay in Russia was.

and how incredibly ignorant I was. I did not even know enough to be afraid.

My mother told me that she was really scared to be in Russia.

To her, she said, Russia was the bad guys.

In school, she said, we were taught to drop under the desks to be safe if Russia dropped the bomb on us.

Well, I didn’t go to school. I had VERY little TV, or Movies to tell me who the bad guys were.

Because, you know, you have to be told.

It has been ten years since I lived in Russia. That’s pretty much the span of my adult life.

I’ve seen a lot of TV and Movies since then.

And most of those TV and movies pointed to the Germans as being the bad guys.

When I was in Germany there were a few moments of feeling illogically afraid.
I have more sympathy for my mom’s fears, now.

The right map makes all the difference

I just got back from my vacation to Germany.

Chris had never been on a driving tour of a foreign country. I told him, “You know we are going to fight over the map.”

Peaceful, considerate man that he is, he said, “why? I don’t want to fight with you.”

I said, “Trust me. Driving in a foriegn country means that you will have a fight while driving. It may mean that you fight the entire time you are driving.”

He is a good man. We really didn’t fight that much. Yes, there were the moments of tension when the directions we were given ceased to bear any relationship to the signs posted.

We made it through okay, and I think it is due in large part to the superior map we had. I recommend this one.

Michelin Germany/Austria/Benelux/Switzerland/Czech Republic Atlas
by Michelin Travel Publications, Michelin

hissy face

That’s what Bryan calls Martha Stewart.

After my last post about Martha Inc, the TV movie I watched last night, I went to check out MarthaStewart.com

I’m gonna break out in hives.

You know, i watched her show once, I think. “Living”. But you have to say “Living” in that certain pear-shaped, sighing tone.

I remember that she was telling her viewer that she liked to make home-made marshmallows for smores on the picnic that was the theme of the show.

Homemade marshmallows.

What kind of masochistic woman flagellates herself about not making homemade marshmallows for picnics with her family?

Is this an East Coast thing? Are they so snooty over there that they have to invent ways to feel simultaneously class-superior and personally deficient?

The woman was not raised in California.

And let’s not even talk about what kind of homemaking show would originate from Alaska. I can just imagine Martha coming up with cute ways of using natural fibers for toilet paper in the outhouse when the family is snowed in and low on supplies in the winter.

She wouldn’t last a winter in Alaska. The woman would have been mysteriously dead come spring.

I think that some of her ideas are kind of neat. I would make home made marshmallows once, to try it. It would be interesting.

But I cannot hold myself to that kind of standard. Good god! I enjoy my life too much to impeccably clean up after myself.

Martha Martha Martha…

I saw the TV movie about Martha Stewart last night. I turned on the TV while I was doing things, and I didn’t realize it was about Martha Stewart.

There is more than one Martha in the world, after all.

It started out with her wanting to be a model. So I thought the story was going to go in a totally different direction. Of course, the cute little ambitious model turned into the bitchy Martha Stewart.

I enjoyed the story quite a bit more than I thought I would. But they didn’t let Martha be very lovable. She was protrayed to be as hypocritical as we all hoped she was when we saw her in the smarmy TV show.

One thing I learned is that the Kmart thing happened rather early on. Martha Stewart entered my consciousness as a TV show. But long before her show, the Kmart backing really pushed her off the ground.

funny funny. Little miss priss got up in the world on the back of the blue light special.

I admire her for how hard she worked to make her ambitions happen. But of course, she should have paused once in a while to enjoy her family. Her husband in the movie was portrayed as a very dear man, and it’s too bad she lost him.

I thought the story was pretty good. If they re-ran it, I might watch it again. Especially since, I confess, I missed the very last part about how she did the insider stock thingy.

Speak up!

I’ve been kinda quiet here lately.

That’s a shame. I like to write on my blog. But my life has been somewhat exciting, and that doesn’t always leave time for writing.

Isn’t that funny? When life is most interesting, you don’t have time to stop and tell about it.

I remember I kept a diary as a teenager. I would oh-so-faithfully write down everything that happened or occurred to me. Volumes, pages and pages of my life would be documented.

I soon grew incredibly sick of writing down all the nothing that occurred in my life. I thought to myself “I am spending so much time writing down what I’m doing that I am not doing anything.”

I was young and had no basis for comparison. It did not occur to me that I had no life. I just had directionless ambition for a life.

Anyway, I am blessed to have a life now. And that life has been getting in the way of my art–the art of this blog.

You know, I’d love to fill this blog with delightful bits of interesting, useful and enlightening paragraphs. Some of the bits are those things.

Some of them aren’t.

I suppose that anything i write is useful to me. It is useful to write, it is useful to express my thoughts, for my own edification, even if no one else really cares.

So, I do write.

But I would really like to be better at expressing my thoughts and impressions in such a way that others can benefit. Sure, I don’t mind being self-centered. That’s fine. But it is more fun when you can bring others along on the trip.

Sometimes, though, when I am at my most creative and original, when I am most inspired, I seem to lose connection with others.

I am in love with originality. I reach for it whenever I can. I am thrilled when I find a new perspective, or a new way to express something difficult to grok.

It is HARD! We struggle, I struggle to understand more about how people workd and how the world works. WHY are things the way they are? WHY do things turn out the way they do?

Once in a while, I catch a glimpse. A flash of what I know to be the bigger picture hits the retinas of my understanding.

Hallelujah! Tell everyone and throw a party! I just got a little bit more of what it’s all about!

Except…not everyone wants to come to the party. I want to share the gift I recieved, but it turns out that people are not ready to listen.

What?! I thought we were all doing this together. I thought that this was we were all working on. Understanding, enlightenment, all of that.

So why don’t you want it when it comes available? I want to share, and you don’t want any?

Why not?

Maybe other people really aren’t looking for enlightenment. Maybe they prefer dim light and stupefied complacency.


Maybe I’m just kidding myself. Maybe the revelation I think i have recieved is not amazing. Maybe I am stupid, and this insight that I astonishes me is as ordinary as a rock.


Maybe I’ve been walking on a slow incline. As I work towards understanding more and more, my atennae are picking up bits and pieces and gathering and re-forming the information that I get. Maybe the accumulation of knowledge has been a slow process, one requiring diligence and time.

Therefore, my flash of brilliance took place at a mountaintop. I’ve been working towards it harder than I realized.

When I go to share it, I find that I am already being a geek and using advanced examples that others don’t understand.

It’s like I’ve been following a train of thought pretty far down the tracks, and I’m way down the line.

Sometimes, when I’m trying to explain something, I get frustrated. I feel like snapping my fingers and saying “Hey! Keep up! Pay attention, we haven’t even gotten to the main point yet.”

But then, who am I to demand that kind of attention? If others don’t want to know, they won’t pay attention.

I know some nerdy people who know a hell of a lot about certain rather narrow subjects. They dove deep to get to what they wanted to know. About the inner workings of physics, or the inner workings of a computer, or the relationships in telecommunications networks.

And that means they get to a point where they can only talk to each other about those particular subjects. No one else understands them.

I often feel like that. Like I’ve jumped into a body of knowledge, and I’ve gotten far enough that it’s hard to talk to others about it without a LOT of background explanation.

Except…where are my colleagues?

Poets and philosophers are not honored in this computer age.

Original thought is not prized. Not unless you can patent it.

And you know what? I understand that. I am a deeply practical person. I understand the value of a good meal. “Good” meaning reliably recurring.

But I also understand the value of an original thought; it is at the same time the most selfish and altruistic act.

For what is more personally gratifying than discovery?

And by what means will humanity and the world improve itself other than through the adoption of new ideas?

I wrestle with my creativity. I am electrified and frustrated by turns. And sometimes at the same time.

Perhaps it would be easier if my talents lay in more tangible directions. If I were inspired to be a plumber, for example.

But that is not the case. Here I am, striving with Ideas.

Rick Steves’ Germany, Austria, and Switzerland 2003

Okay, so I’ve been looking at a lot of guide books for Germany

This one was the first one I bought, but that’s because it was on sale at AAA when I went down to renew my membership. I was also trying to shake them for free maps of Germany.

They don’t have them. You have to pay for maps not it America. That’s what the last A in the series is for.

So, I bought this guide. It seems very good, if you don’t read any other guides. But the problem, is, Rick Steves is very opinionated. He only tells you about the parts he likes. So he tells you all kinds of things about the stuff he recommends, gets you all excited. But he doesn’t give you a chance to make up your own mind.

If you want to just follow his footsteps, go ahead and use this book.

Otherwise shop around.

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall…

One week
Seven days

I will be on vacation in Germany! I will, to be exact, be in the very same town that the Brothers Grimm lived in while they were gathering their fairy tales.

I love the Grimm Fairy tales.

Kindermarchen, they call them.

Skazki, also.

I read all of them when I was a kid.
I immediately recognized that Disney had not told them right. They are much scarier and bloodier the old way.

I guess we liked the scary parts.

I wish that we still told one another stories. I fear that story telling is dying out. We read now. Or we watch it on TV.

We don’t tell.

_A Treasury of Victorian Murder_

Professor Wilson was the one who taught me Victorian Literature. He was quite good at it too.

Of course, you had to get used to the fact that he would take a 3 1/2 hour class, talk for three hours without a break, then send you home a half hour early. Once you learned not to drink a lot of liquids before his class, and that all his questions were rhetorical, you could settle in and start to enjoy his very dry humor and somewhat bashful retelling of victorian scandal.

He knew his stuff, and when you learned to listen, you learned a lot. I remember he told us a story of one victorian figure (can’t recall who) that had a fetish for women with strong arms. He left his wife and became involved with this cleaning woman who had very well developed muscles in her arm. However, the gentleman did not actually become intimate with this cleaning woman, much to her frustration.

I don’t remember exactly, but I have the impression it ended in some sort of murder. I do remember exactly how Professor Wilson would tell the sordid details with excruciating delicacy and yet with absolute relish and delight.

When I ran across the graphic novel A Treasury of Victorian Murder by Rick Geary, the idea fit in very well with my concept of Victorian times. The artwork was a wonderful combination of cute and sinister, perfect for the subject. Geary shows all the nice little details of dress and furnishings that gladden the hearts of Victorians, but he shows the terrifying evil faces of the murders that would satisfy the judgemental souls.

The book is not very long, but it is only one in a series. Geary tells the stories in a journalistic, factual way. He lets his pictures build the drama.