Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Silly Spellcheck

Okay, so over the years I've gotten used to the fact that spellcheck always wants to change my name (Suz) to Suez (as in the canal).

I was highly amused today, however, when I ran Yahoo's spellcheck on an e-mail and since it didn't recognize my e-mail address (that appeared in a reply header) as a word, it suggested "spankings" instead.

Silly spellcheck. Spankings are for kids.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Things I Learned Today

1. You should always consult the weather forecast before deciding to leave your apartment windows open for the day.

2. Just because it hasn't rained all summer, you shouldn't look at dark clouds on the distant horizon and think, "That'll never turn into anything," and decide not to run home before the storm hits.

3. I should probably own an umbrella.

4. Pillows can absorb a lot of water.

5. So can carpet.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

In Memoriam

I just returned from attending the viewing & visitation for Evangeline Stamoolis, the dear grandmother of one of my best friends who graduated into heaven this past weekend at the age of 95. If I write and reflect too much here I'm going to start crying again (a battle I fought and lost at the funeral home), but while it's still fresh I wanted to remember just a couple things.

The first is something Josh's mom mentioned--that 4 nurses from the allergy clinic where Grandma went to get her shots all came together to pay their respects because they remembered her kindness and so appreciated her sense of humor--she would tease them on their shot-giving technique. I want to be that kind of woman, not only when I am old and white haired, but even today. The kind of woman that is remembered not because she sought to make a name for herself, but because she sought to bring kindness and life to others. "Preaching the gospel without words," Grandma Stamoolis was the "fragrance of Christ" to many, many people.

The second is that her last word was "alligator," as in "See you later." Again, to cultivate humor all of one's life is a gift and an accomplishment indeed.

And finally, I'm reminded of a quote from Frederick Buechner. In an imaginary conversation with his grandmother, he asks her what death is like.

"When somebody once asked your Uncle Jim if some friend or other had passed away, he answered him in his inimitable fashion by saying, 'Passed away? Good God, he’s dead,' and I know just how he felt. I always thought 'passed away' was a silly way of putting it, like calling the water closet a powder room—or calling it a water closet for that matter—and I am here to tell you that it is also very misleading."

She goes on to say, "It is the world that passes away," and flutters one hand delicately through the air to show the manner of its passing. "When I used to lie there in that shadowy little room Mrs. Royal gave me in her nursing home that looked out onto the garden, where everybody used to congregate for a Coke after picking up the mail and Miss Capps would read the picture postcards over your shoulder, I could feel the world gradually slowing down more and more until one night I realized it was slow enough for me to get off, and that is just what I proceeded to do. It was rather like getting off a streetcar before it has quite come to a stop—a little jolt when my foot first struck the pavement, and then the world clanged its bell and went rattling off down the tracks without me."

For Evangeline Stamoolis, the world has passed away. There is a hole here on earth, but heaven is richer for her arrival.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Quirky Situations

As I was checking my e-mail today I happened to glimpse a brief profile of the new film version of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory that opens this weekend. What caught my eye and made me pause was the MPAA Rating: "PG for quirky situations, action and mild language."

"Quirky situations?" Knowing what I do of Roald Dahl, Johnny Depp, and Tim Burton I certainly don't doubt it, but it made me wish I could have been a fly on the wall at the meeting of the raters. Here is how I imagine that went:

"Okay, let's see here. We've got a child more or less drowning in chocolate...another being assaulted by squirrels...an unfortunate shrinking incident... Morris, what do you think?"

"Well, sir, I wouldn't exactly categorize those as violence, but nevertheless they are a little unsettling. Jackson, what's your take?"

"Um, it seems that they're definitely 'awkward' situations, but I think it's deeper than that. They're so unusual, I'm not sure what to do with them."

"Unusual, huh? You're right. In fact, I'd almost say, 'Quirky.'"

"Morris, that's it! Quirky situations. Perfectly descriptive and yet ambiguous. So, do we think this is innocuous G-rated quirkiness or disturbing enough for PG?"

Sigh. I wonder if Roald Dahl would take "quirky" as a compliment or whether he would mutter something about how these people missed the whole point. I'll have to reread the book and catch the movie to decide.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Bienvenidos a mi blog!

Since I just recently went public with this thing, I want to say a quick HELLO! and WELCOME! to those of you who might be surfing by for the first time. Whether you've dropped by out of friendship, curiosity, or purely by accident, I want to say thanks for checking out Suz's Musings. I hope that you are encouraged, challenged, advised, informed, or at least amused by your visit. Feel free to leave a comment!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Zorro's Lackluster Heroics: Review

Zorro by Isabel Allende
2005 Harper Collins 390 pgs

I guess I had always assumed that the "official" legend of Zorro was recorded for posterity way back in the day and that the various movies about the hero, such as the one starring dear Mr. Banderas, more or less follow that original storyline. Upon reading a review before picking up Isabel Allende's recent rendering of the masked swashbuckler, I learned that no "official" telling exists and that Zorro's tale is very much up for interpretation.

I'm sorry to say that Allende's offering is rather disappointing. While I understand that character development is one of the marks of a good novel, Allende spends so much time and so many words on the members of a large ensemble cast that it would be more aptly titled Zorro et al. Rather than build up the legend of Zorro with suspenseful accounts of daring exploits in the name of justice, Allende reduces his story to a meandering melodrama full of unrequited love and impulsive acts done in the name of passion and impudence. Beneath the mask, Diego de la Vega is an awkward kid with big ears who feigns the constitution of a pansy to avoid conflict, while his best friend and "milk brother" Bernardo has about as much personality as tree bark. I've always thought heroes are supposed to be magnetic, alluring, captivating...I had a hard time deciding if I even liked Diego or his masked alter ego.

Finally, the other thing that killed this book was the narrator. I can think of only one other narrator I have encountered along my journey through literature whom I found to be so utterly annoying. (For those of you who are curious, it's William Goldman in his retelling of the supposed S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride--yes 80's movie lovers, it was a book first.) Allende decides to give the narrator a voice of her own and a mysterious identity that is not revealed until the epilogue (unless of course you actually cared enough to try and figure it our earlier on). The narrator's occasional interjections add nothing to the story and only serve to irritate the reader and produce thoughts of "Why do I care?" The prime example of this is found at the transition between Parts 3 and 4. She ends part 3 moaning, "I regret to tell you that I can write no more, because I have run out of the goose-quill pens I always use. ...I do not use quills from ordinary birds; they stain the paper and rob elegance from the page." Four pages later, Part 4 begins with "I now have new goose-quill pens to continue the story of Zorro's youth." Ugg, I am bored just quoting it.

So, I suggest you read Zorro only if you're in the mood for tedious villains, a large cast of questionably likeable characters, and irritating narration. (To Allende's credit, I'm sure the telling is better in its original Spanish, though not even that could save her portrait of Zorro from being less than thrilling.)

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Boss Man

I know my boss and I have a unique relationship, but some days even I step back for a minute and think, "This is a little weird."

Over a lunch of enchiladas and tacos today my boss shared that once, in response to a challenge from his daughter-in-law who refused to believe that the "musical fruit" has no effect on him, he ate 3 cans of refried beans in one sitting.

I wasn't sure whether to be impressed or repulsed. What do you say to that? I changed the subject.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Writhing Throng of Humanity

Otherwise known as the Taste of Chicago.

On Sunday some friends and I decided to brave the masses and hit the Taste before settling in along the lakefront to watch the fireworks. Having never been to the Taste before, (I know, I know, another unpardonable admission of a life-long Chicagoland dweller) , I didn't know exactly what I was getting myself into. Had I known, I would have stayed far, far away.

What is it about a turkey leg that turns a crowd of people into frenzied animals? And when did the promise of a funnel cake come to be considered worthy of enduring the indignities of being bumped, groped, elbowed, trampled upon, ogled, splashed with beer, run over by strollers, and smeared with other people's sweat? I'm not sure, but there I was...Charity and I had 9 tickets left between the two of us, and we wanted a funnel cake.

I gritted my teeth, eyed the layout of the throng from my slightly advantageous 6-foot vantage point, and edged my way in toward the funnel cake booth. I had good intentions of maintaining my own manners amidst the abandonment of all civilized behavior, but after a few minutes pure survival instincts took over and it was every man, woman, and poor exhausted, overheated kid carted around in a stroller for him/her/poorkidself. I am proud to report that after half an hour of battling the pulsing crowd, I emerged victorious with my funnel cake held high. To my chagrin I admit to entertaining a brief thought of dropping a shoulder and taking out the drunk guy to my right who kept yelling, "Poison Ivy here! Or it might be Poison Sumac!" in a pathetic attempt to buy himself some room. The first time he called out, I might have been mildly amused at his ingenuity. By the 20th time, my thoughts were tumbling in with a Ralph Cramden accent, "Why, I oughta Sumac you!"

On a happier note, the fireworks were pretty.