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Archive for April, 2013

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Rex Burkhead and Jack Hoffman in front of the White House.   Rex and Jack and his family traveled to DC to further a campaign called “Team Jack,” organized to fight pediatric brain cancer.

In case you are not a Cornhusker fan (what are the chances of that?) here is some background.  After Nebraska’s football team visited a childrens’ hospital in Lincoln, Burkhead and Jack became fast friends.  Rex arranged for Jack, his family, and friends to attend many Husker games, and Jack even got to run out of the tunnel with the team before one game.   The friendship grew into an organization now called “Team Jack,” for which Burkhead received a special award from the NCAA.

But the world didn’t find out about Team Jack until Nebraska’s spring game this year.   During the last quarter of that game, Jack ran onto the field wearing a helmet and Burkhead’s number 22.   Shepherded through the play by the quarterback and guarded by a phalanx of linemen, Jack ran for a touchdown.  The video went viral, and if you haven’t seen it you can find it here:  http://www.huskermax.com/games/2013/files/00hoffman_all.html#.UX_D2cpW98E.

That was probably better, in Jack’s mind than what happened next–

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although I bet he thought that was pretty cool too.

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robin-and-marianYesterday as I took a break from moving stuff around, I found Robin and Marian on The Movie Channel.  I saw this film when it was first released in 1976, and I remember thinking it was Very Romantic, in a nice way.  So I settled in to watch it again.

Either my memory is flawed or I was an ignorant young thing in 1976 (most likely both).   The plot centers on Robin’s return from France after twenty years of crusading with Richard Lionheart (overplayed by Richard Harris).  Robin  finds Marian as prioress of an abbey, but it doesn’t take her long to doff her habit once she sees Robin again.  Even though Robin professes eternal love for her, he’s soon up to his old tricks–rescuing poor people from the gendarmes, assembling a crew of rogues, and taunting the sheriff of Nottingham (Robert Shaw, probably best known as the villain in From Russia With Love or the old shark hunter in Jaws).  We learn from Marian that she tried to commit suicide when Robin left England to follow Richard.  She was found and nursed back to health by nuns, and so she committed her life to God.  Robin is stunned by this news because he is pretty dense about everything except fighting.  When Robin challenges the sheriff to single combat, Marian realizes he will never change.

As you can see from the pic, Robin Hood is played here by Sean Connery and Marian by Audrey Hepburn, and they are simply wonderful together.  Connery plays Old Robin as a sort of dodderer who has never really grown up.  Hepburn pulls off the part of a stuffy prioress very well at first, but once she’s out in the woods with Robin she sparkles, showing us why Robin fell in love with her in the first place.  The Merry Men include Nicole Williamson (you may remember his turn as Merlin in Excalibur) who plays Little John as a slow but faithful acolyte.  Denholm Elliott plays Will Scarlett (you may remember him as Marcus Brody in the Indiana Jones movies), and a young Ian Holm (otherwise known as Bilbo Baggins) has a small role as King John.

The film is full of luscious shots of the English countryside.  Richard Lester directed, and so lots of funny stuff happens.  Robin and Little John get trapped inside the sheriff’s castle, and Robin says “Climb the wall” as though both of them were still nineteen years old.  It takes them forever to get to the top, with the camera lingering on every tenuous foothold.  Marian drives a cart pulled by a cantankerous horse, who decides it wants a drink and dumps her and all her nuns in a creek.

But it is the relationship between Robin and Marian that takes center stage in this film.  The ending offers a taste of Shakespearean tragedy that isn’t altogether satisfying in a film played so broadly for laughs early on.  But Robin and Marian is worth a watch nonetheless, if only to see Connery and Hepburn in their prime.

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Rex to Cincy

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Nebraska’s Rex Burkhead was selected in the sixth round of the NFL draft by the Cincinnati Bengals.  I wish he had been picked by a better team, but beggers can’t be choosers.   For the first time since 1962, Cornhusker fans had to wait until the sixth round of the draft to cheer for one of their own.  And Rex appears to have been the only Husker taken.

Haven’t posted here for awhile–life has  got in the way.  Carpet is installed in two bedrooms.  We’re now waiting on delivery of a larger piece for the master bedroom.   In the meantime, I’m spending long minutes every morning looking for a clean t-shirt.  I  spend my days moving clothes and books and files from room to room.  I’d forgotten how much stuff can be packed into an office.

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010612_charlize_theron_swath120106195806Charlize Theron plays the evil queen, Ravenna, in Snow White and the Huntsman, which I watched last night.  I’ve renamed the film because Theron walks away with it, stealing the screen every time she appears.  This isn’t easy, given that her costumes are spectacular.  As are the special effects–every time she turns around black birds turn into sharp shards of glass, or her magic mirror (you remember:  “Mirror, mirror on the wall”) does a fair imitation of the terminator in T2.  When the queen got angry, which happened a lot, I suddenly remembered Theron’s Oscar-winning portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wournos.

The huntsman deserves kudos if only because he’s portrayed by hunky Chris Hemsworth:

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Photo’s worth a thousand words and all that.

The dwarves are played by a veritable actors’ studio–Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, Toby Jones.  The sets are also neat–the dark forest is truly scary, and it includes a wonderfully large and expressive troll who lives, natch, under a bridge.  The fairyland where the dwarves live is a green and fecund confection of special effects, complete with cute fairies and a white hart with a rack as big as a tree.

You will have noticed that I haven’t mentioned Snow White.  That’s because she is played by Kristen Stewart.  Some suit must have insisted on casting her to insure that enough Twihards would show up to pay for the film.  Stewart projects the same sullen lifelessness here that characterized her appearances in the Twilight movies, although someone has been smart enough to tell her not to breathe through her mouth.  She is pretty (which I mention only because it is a plot point–“Who is the fairest of them all?”–) but she ain’t in Theron’s league even on that score.  And she is such a bad actress it’s hard to believe that either of her two would-be suitors, let alone all seven of the Shakespeare-spouting dwarves, would fall for her.

Too bad.  This is a pretty good movie otherwise.

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Under the Rug

Early yesterday I finally got books and dolls and files et al moved out of the bedrooms that will get new carpets.  An earnest young man showed up around nine am and began to move the heavy furniture out of those rooms.  He worked at this task alone–apparently he was notified about this job late the night before and hadn’t been able to round up a helper.

By early afternoon the two small bedrooms had been denuded of the heavy furniture, and new padding had been laid down in one.  The other required a coat of sealer in spots where Margaret had indicated her dissatisfaction with something or other.  After managing all of this, the earnest young man then went back to the carpet store and returned with a huge roll of carpet.  The moment I saw it hanging out of the back of his truck my heart sank:   they ordered the wrong carpet!  To make sure I went down to the carpet store and got the sample board to match.  Sure enough–it was the wrong stuff.

The folks at the store were nice enough when the young man informed them of this by phone (apparently customers are fairly often unhappy with carpet they it arrives at their homes–the young man pointed out that the company offers a free replacement even after the stuff has been laid).   But by this time evening was coming on, the store had closed, and the young man had 800 pounds of carpet hanging out of the end of his truck, and because it looked like rain, he had to haul off the pieces of the old carpet littering my driveway.  So I volunteered my garage as storage, thinking that the store would reclaim their carpet today.

Not so.  Seems the store owner, with whom I’ve been working, has been out sick for the last two days.  When I showed up early this morning, I knew none of the folks on duty, all of whom seemed surprised that unwanted carpet was stored in my garage.  Now I stood by yesterday when the young man informed the store about precisely this.  But the message was lost somewhere.  I managed to keep my cool while the guy I was talking to tried to blame the young man for the error on the ground that he hadn’t found a helper.

Gah!  So I said as clearly and forcefully as I could that the young man was, so far, the best and and only evidence to date of their commitment to customer service.  Nonetheless, they took refuge in the owner’s illness, and promised that someone would pick up the carpet tomorrow when he returns to work.  Uh huh.  Then the young man called to tell me that he had been royally chewed out for  leaving the carpet here, and that he was willing to come right over and take it away, despite the fact that he was in the middle of another job.  I assured him I could live with the situation, all the while wondering (once again) why people can’t hear what is said to them, clearly and forcefully.

So the 800 pounds of carpet is still in my garage, my front room is full of bedroom furniture, and I have to dig through piles of stuff to find things like underwear and telephones (this is especially frustrating when the latter are ringing.)  The young man was nice enough to set up my bed again before he left yesterday, so at least I have a place to sleep (although I had to look long and hard last night for sheets and a quilt).

The cats are taking all of this well–Inky is especially fond of the new gymnastic events presented by a series of chests and doors and beds all lined up together–even though they’ve been banned from most of the rooms in the house and the garage.  (Which means I get to empty the cat box every day).   I don’t know how long we’ll be in this fix, but I hope not for long.

What do you think?  Does a 10 percent discount for every day I’m discommoded sound about right?

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Do I Have Enough?

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Moving books out of my office in order to accommodate the rug installers.  These piles in the dining room represent about half of my collection, the other half of which is stashed in the john that adjoins the office.

When I move books I always discover things.  For example, I found a couple that I’ve had since I was an undergraduate.   That’s fifty years, folks, during which I carted Arthur Lovejoy’s The Great Chain of Being and Meyer Abrams’ Glossary of Literary Terms back and forth across the country.  I’ve kept Lovejoy all these years because it was the first scholarly book I ever purchased–I had to order it from a local bookstore and wait three whole weeks while it made its way to Nebraska from Harvard UP.   Abrams was a required text in those heydays of the New Criticism.  After I discovered rhetoric, I realized that there is a huge reservoir of tropes and figures that prof Abrams either never heard of or didn’t deign to put into his no-doubt extremely profitable glossary because they were invented and used, after all, by rhetoricians, who ranked very low on Abrams’ Great Chain of Writers.

Amazon tells me that both of these works are still in print.  Wow.  Abrams is now (probably) written/maintained by a co-author, and it sells for 47 bucks.  A long way from the $2.95 I paid for my copy (the sticker is still there on the back.)

Also:  I have two entire bookcases full of books about racism, feminism, and queer studies–the stuff that gets conservatives all up in a tizzy.   Another bookshelf holds books about the history of Christianity and critiques thereof.  When I move these books I always discover some that require reading or rereading.  Sometimes the pile of to-reads threatens to grow larger than the stacks that are just waiting to be moved back into their accustomed places.

Well I’ll have time to read while the installers are here.   If I can find a place to sit.

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