Saturday, December 18, 2010

Singing Soprano

During the past couple of weeks, I'm been spending a lot of time at home, rather than at work.

I spent a bunch of bucks at the used books store (nothing new here) on Books and DVDS.

One of the series of DVDs I have purchased lately was the HBO "Sopranos" series. I bought the Season One collection last week, because it was new to me. I don't have my television connected to Cable, only to DVD/VHS players. So I have never seen any of the series, but I have heard a lot about it via the Internet. Out of curiosity, I bought Season One of "The Sopranos" and I was surprised at the production values, and the quality of the scripts ... not to mention the quality of the acting.

Yes, much of the script and the dialogue was uncomfortable to me. The dialogue reminded me of my tenure in the US Army, where the "F-Word" served as both a verb, a noun, an adjective and an adverb. (In rare, but notable instances, it even served as a gerund ... please do not ask me for examples; we were soldiers then, and young.)

The HBO series purported to depict the lifestyle of a "Mafia Family" in New Jersey. I know nothing about either the Mafia, or New Jersey (except that N.J. is the only state, other than Oregon, which requires that the customer cannot pump his own gasoline at service stations ... and to my mind, that is a boon not granted by other states), but the episodes are a fascinating introspection of a family distraught by both a dysfunctional culture and situational madness in the individual

Still, the scripts ... by a variety of writers and not of consistent quality ... are generally better than I had expected.

And the actors are generally so accomplished that they can take a mediocre script and make it look good.

Bottom line: however much I admired the performances of almost ALL of the actors, the best performances are provided not by the star, James Gandolfini, but by one of the side-characters; Lorraine Bracco ... who played the Psychiatrist, Dr. Jennifer Melfi.


Certainly, Bracco is versatile actor, who plays here a Psychiatrist and yet in a current Television Series (Rizzolli and Isles) she portrays a dysfunctional and overweight mother of one of the main characters. But she may be typical of the versatile actors who are able to lend personality and verisimilitude to almost any role. I admit that I have had a crush on Bracco ever since her 1988 role as the character "Brooklyn" (Dr. Rae Crane) against Sean Connery in "Medicine Man".

It's a rare event when a co-star can steal scenes from Connery, but Bracco managed to do it, time and again, against a background of a ho-hum script.

I think Connery must have been just a little bit in love with Bracco, to permit her such liberties And I admit that I have been too, since I first saw her in that role. (However, I have also been a little bit in love with Bracco in that move. SWMBO knew it but she never resented it.
After all, I am also in love with Linda Hunt. But who can object to an appreciation of a woman who won an academy award for her portrayal of a man?

Okay, so I like Linda Hunt because her character was a man in "A Year of Living Dangerously", and Lorraine Bracco for her character as a purported professional dingbat in "Medicine Man" ... but her character in "Sopranos" was brilliant, seminal, and central to the underlying theme of the series.

In fact, her character of "Doctor Melfi" was at least as central as Gandelfini's was as "Anthony Soprano".

I realize that I'm "running long" here. The point is that there are brilliant moments of both acting and screenwriting in the series. I'm surprised at how much I am enjoying the series. I've bought Season 1, 2, 5 and 6. The used bookstore had season 4, but it was too badly damaged by the previous owner ... so I'll be searching Amazon dot com for seasons 4 and 3. The cost is about $16 each, and considering that I have two nights of enjoyment for each season, the expense is easily worth the price.

No Arms Gunslinger - Loads With His Feet!

Just when I was feeling low-down because of my problems, I receive via email this stirring testimonial about the courage and audacity of people who daily deal with problems which make mine see much less discouraging by comparison.

Here's an amazing video of a man who has no arms, but loads, manages and shoots a 1911 with his feet.

H/T to G-man for this video. Dialogue during the video suggests that it "will be on YOUTUBE tomorrow", but I couldn't find it (although I did find a plethora of videos about people who accomplished seemingly impossible tasks without arms).

I have no background for this story at all. Perhaps you can find more information about it than I can, and if you do I hope you will include links on the comments.

This man is more accomplished with his feet than I am with hands. Well, those of you who have seen me shoot can attest to that.

Just when I was feeling low-down because of my problems, I receive via email this stirring testimonial about the courage and audacity of people who daily deal with problems which make mine see much less discouraging by comparison.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas in Geekistan

My son has invited me to spend Christmas with his family in San Diego.

I am, of course, thrilled by the prospect. Not only would I be able to spend time with my son and his family, but my daughter and HER family live in the same town: San Diego.

I love San Diego, and if it was not located in Southern California it would not be the same, nor would I love it so.

That it is the home of both my Son and my Daughter, and their respective families, is obviously a bonus to me. Their spouses are both Good People, and their children (my grandchildren) are a joy. All seven of them!

But you know what? I think it's too soon after my loss of Sandie. I feel like a wimp to say so, but I feel like a wimp to enjoy the love of my family so soon. Yes, I realize that is counter-intuitive.

So I'm not sure what I'm going to do during Christmas. On the one hand, I'm pretty sure I would rather just bag the entire "Ho Ho Ho!" season. On the other hand, I realize I need to reconnect with my family, if only to get me out of this truly grungy mood.

On the third hand, I have neither the strength nor the energy to endure the event. I would much rather spend my time alone in my home reading books and watching reruns of television shows. What I mean to say is: I would REALLY rather do 'nothing'.

There was probably a point to be made here, but I'm not sure what it might have been.

PS: I have decided to go back to work tomorrow. I don't want to, but somehow I have managed to become entirely bored by spending weeks at a time at home, with absolutely nothing to do.


Hey, I think I have just made a decision based on the relative values of "time at home doing nothing" versus "time in San Diego with my family".

Haven't I?

Bummer, Dude. Flying is SO counter-intuitive!