Thursday, May 31, 2012

My Reading Life, Part 1

I’ve been on such a reading kick lately, voraciously reading whenever I can, that I decided I should make a couple of book lists too.  

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The library where I spent most of my grammar school days was designed so that you walked into the center of the building. To the right were all the children’s books, and to the left all the adult books. Each section was horseshoe shaped. It seemed that there were as many books on the children’s side as there were on the adult side. If you went to the children’s section and started at the left end of the horseshoe there were the books for younger children and as you made your way around the horseshoe you ended up on the opposite side, where there were books for young adults. 

I have so many wonderful memories of days spent in that library, including the embarrassing day I peed on the floor because I didn’t know where there was a bathroom and I was a mile from home.

I also remember the day that I very bravely walked into the adult wing of the building and took out my very first adult book, which happened to be a historical fictional book about Thomas Jefferson.

When I thought about making a list of 100 books, like I did of movies, and songs, I realized that it would be difficult to number a list of the books that touched me as a child because so many of them were book series written by favorite authors, so I thought I would write an entry of a bulleted list of series or single books which I remember fondly from my childhood. Some time later, I will try doing the same thing for adult books (no, not that kind of adult books!)
  • The Bobbsey Twins series by "Laura Lee Hope" may have been my very first "real" books that I read by myself.  I had to laugh, though, at the description given to the series on Amazon and wonder whoever wrote it and which editor let it pass:  This anthology is a thorough introduction to classic literature for those who have not yet experienced these literary masterworks. For those who have known and loved these works in the past, this is an invitation to reunite with old friends in a fresh new format. From Shakespeare's finesse to Oscar Wilde's wit, this unique collection brings together works as diverse and influential as The Pilgrim's Progress and Othello. As an anthology that invites readers to immerse themselves in the masterpieces of the literary giants, it is must-have addition to any library. 
    Wikipedia gives a much clearer description:  The Bobbsey Twins are the principal characters of what was, for many years, the Stratemeyer Syndicate's longest-running series of children's novels, penned under the pseudonym Laura Lee Hope. The first of 72 books was published in 1904, the last in 1979, with a separate series of 30 books published from 1987 through 1992. The books related the adventures of the children of the middle-class Bobbsey family, which included two sets of fraternal twins, Bert and Nan, who were 12 years old, and Flossie and Freddie, who were six.
  • The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sydney.  From Amazon's Book description:  Mrs. Pepper and her five lively children Ben, Polly, Joel, Davie, and Phronsie have had many hard times in the Little Brown House since the children's father died. But no matter how tough things get, the Little Peppers always handle their difficulties with great courage and cheer, They have learned to take delight even in the smallest of pleasures because the children are sure that good times are just around the corner. One day, the Peppers meet a wealthy gentleman and his young son who will change their lives forever. Could this finally be the beginning of the good times the Little Peppers have been waiting for?  I think I loved the Bobbsey Twins and the Five Little Peppers because the families were so happy, I liked the idea of the family working together and everything always turning out for the better.
  • The Black Stallion. I have already mentioned how much I loved all those books in the series by Walter Farley.  It was the first animal book I ever read and I fell in love with the Black, his son Satan, The Blood Bay Colt (Bonfire, who did harness racing), and The Island Stallion. I have been reading animal books ever since!
  • Silver Birch. This was the first book by Dorothy Lyons, who wrote books for young girls about girls who encountered and tamed wild horses. My favorite of her books was "Dark Sunshine," about a girl recovering from polio who was able to help herself and the wild horse she befriended. I found on Amazon that Lyons’ books, if you can find them, are selling for >$75 each. I should have kept my books!
  • Black Beauty.  I remember enjoying this book, but I never quite had the same passion for it that I did for Farley's books.
  • Nancy Drew books. I devoured these as a kid. I remember the section of The Emporium department store where they were kept and the first thing I did whenever I went to that store was to check to see if there were any new books. I didn’t find out until much later that they were churned out of a writing factory, under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene.
  • Sue Barton books by Helen Dore Boylston. Sue was a nurse and I followed her through her entrance into nursing school through her retirement to raise her family. Seven books in all. I still smile when I remember that as a first year nursing student the older students sent her to look for a "neck tourniquet."
  • Cherry Ames books by Helen Wells were also about a young nurse.  I read them too, thinking at one time that I might like to be a nurse (until I thought about bedpans, which changed my mind!)
  • Albert Peyson Terhune books. Terhune wrote his short dog stories (he raised collies) for adults, but kids loved them. I devoured them and read them over and over again. I wanted Lad to be my dog. I saw pictures of "The Place" and the Master and Mistress once and, of course, it could not possibly match my view of The Place or its inhabitants.  The picture of the real Lad was a disappointment because he didn't look nearly as beautiful as the TV Lassie.
  • Bonnie's Boy.  I have tried to find reference to this book, which I loved because it was the story of a black cocker spaniel puppy that is trained by his boy (of course) to become a champion.  But it is a book that has dropped off the radar, which tells me how much of a "classic" it was!
  • Jane Eyre.  I did have my "classics period" and loved reading the love story of Jane and Rochester.  I read this one more than once.
  • Wuthering Heights.  I liked Jane Eyre better, but Heathcliff was a more attractive (to me) male love interest than the milktoast Rochester had been.
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.  I read this book over and over again, always weeping at Beth's death. I still love this story.  I read the sequels too, I think, but never quite took them the way I did to the original.
  • Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk.  I first read this in my teens and fell in love with the book.  I remember when Marjorie got the role of the Mikado in the operetta of the same name, when she was attending Hunter College, and saved the show.   This was long before Gilbert & Sullivan entered my life! In reading the Wikipedia summary of the book, I see that I missed most of the nuances in the plot (which I frequently do!)
  • Toby Tyler, or 10 Weeks with the Circus by James Otis.  What kid doesn't dream of running away with the circus.  Toby Tyler, a 10 year old orphan actually did it, leaving the foster home to join a traveling circus, only to find that life under a cruel ringmaster is worse than being in a foster home.
  • Call of the Wild by Jack London.  There were a lot of dog books I read, but only a few of them stand out.  This Jack London book was one of them.  The story of Buck, a dog living the good life in California who is stolen and transorted to the Yukon where he escapes and has to learn how to make it on his own.
  • White Fang was another Jack London book, where a wolf-dog endures great hardship before coming to trust man.
  • The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss.  How I loved this story of the shipwrecked family that learned to survive on a deserted island.
I know there were lots of other books that I loved from the young people's side of the public library, but I can't remember them now.  There was a big section of "career novels" (as I think of them), each one telling the story of a young girl starting out in a certain career (that's where the nurse books were).  I remember being taken by one of a girl who became a survey taker.  Don't know why I liked that one so much or what the name of it was, but I remember it having such an impact that I thought it might be fun to go door to door with my little clipboard and ask people questions about their likes and dislikes.

There were also a lot of religious books that I read from the school library.   My favorite books were always about St. Terese of Lisieux, "The Little Flower," whose story made me want to enter a cloistered nunnery.  I was very suggestible as a child!!!

Some time later, when I can't think of another topic to write about, I'll investigate the books I've read as an adult that I remember fondly, or that had an impact on me.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading:
  • "A Prague Winter" by former Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, about her childhood in Czechoslovakia, and many other things, including discovering that her family was not, as she had been raised to believe, Catholic, but Jewish and many of her relatives died in concentration camps.
  • "The 6th Target" by James Patterson, part of his Women's Murder Club mystery series.

What did you recently finish reading:
  • "The Memoir of a Beautiful Boy" by Robert Leleux
  • "The Death of Manolete" by Barnaby Conrad

What do you think you'll read next:
"Drift, the Unmooring of American Military Power" by Rachel Maddow

What audio book am I listening to?
"The Fiery Cross" by Diana Gabaldon


A Bridge to Somewhere

There is a scene at the end of Meet Me in St. Louis, where the young Judy Garland and Tom Drake have gone to the St. Louis World Fair with the family and as they start to gather to go get ice cream or something, a fireworks display goes off.  Judy and Tom lean, enraptured, against a wall and watch it all--the fair, the fireworks, the people...

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...and Judy says something to the effect that so many people had come from distances to be there at the fair, but they didn't have to because the fair was right there where they lived, right. there. in. St. Louis.

Every time I hear someone dream about seeing the Golden Gate Bridge some day, or find it on a list of top XX number of sights in the world, and especially every time I come out of the rainbow tunnel above the bridge on a clear day heading for San Francisco and see it shining off in the distance, that is the scene I think of.   I don't have to come from a long distance to see the Golden Gate Bridge, it's right where I live...Right in my own back yard.  Sort of.

The bridge has been a part of my history since before I was born.   My Uncle Frank (Peach's father) was one of the builders of both of San Francisco's bridges, which were built at about the same time.   Each time I drive through the area of Sea Cliff and head out through Lincoln Golf Course and up toward the Palace of the Legion of Honor, I stop and look back on the bridge and think of the picture I have seen so many times, taken at the same location, of the two towers standing but no roadway yet.

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The bridge opened in 1937, before my father met my mother.  He and his father walked across the bridge that first day, before they opened it to automobiles.

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I walked across the bridge myself (on the sides, though!) a few times with friends in high school and have taken a few guests walking across the bridge when giving my famous tour of San Francisco.

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Twenty five years ago, the bridge celebrated its 50th birthday.

BridgeWalk50.jpg (80346 bytes)The city celebrated in grand style, as only San Francisco knows how to do.  They closed the bridge for the day to allow people to walk on the bridge.  They had absolutely no idea how popular that idea was going to be.

Walt and Char did the walk, but they couldn't get anywhere near the bridge, so they had to walk for miles from the ocean beach just to get to the bridge.

When they got there it was gridlock on the bridge.  People were walking across from Marin County toward the City and from San Francisco toward Marin County and the idea was to meet in the middle, but it was so jam packed with people that you couldn't move.
Walt and Char never made it onto the bridge, but they did get past the toll plaza...just barely. And they can look at this picture and know that they are in there...somewhere.

(This is an interesting article about how that 50th anniversary celebration went)

There is one photo of the bridge which is very scary and which caused a lot of heart palpitations among the organizers of this grand celebration.  I have not seen that picture but the once, but it shows the middle of the bridge actually sagging under the weight of all those pedestrians.  It could have been a real disaster, but it wasn't.

It's 25 years later now and this week end the bridge celebrated its 75th anniversary.

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There were events all over the city, but nobody decided to repeat the debacle of the bridge walk this year.  I don't know if Char and Mike went to any of the events, but their son Cam and his wife Evelyn were there to watch the sun go down behind the bridge and watch the fireworks, and, since we are now in the age of smart phones, post photos to Facebook for the rest of us to enjoy.

 When I was watching her video and her photos, I was Judy all over again.  People had come from far away to be there for the celebration of the bridge....but I could go there whenever I wanted.  Because it is right in my own back yard.
Sort of.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Triple Crown

Once again we are poised on the brink of perhaps seeing sports history in the making.   I'll Have Another has won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.  Still to go, the longest of the three, the Belmont (1-1/2 miles).  We'll all find out June 9th.
The last horse to win the Triple Crown, horseracing's highest honor, was Affirmed, who won in 1978.  Since 1978, eleven horses have won both the Derby and Preakness and failed to win the third race in the Triple Crown.

Today I watched Secretariat, the movie of perhaps the most amazing horse to ever win the Triple Crown.  He won in 1973, by 31 lengths, a distance and a speed that will probably never be equalled, in my lifetime.  According to the movie, he went on to sire 600 offspring.  Nice payoff for a work horse--go home to the lush green fields of Virginia and make babies all the time.

I don't remember watching that race in 1973.  It was during the years when I was busy with toddlers. I'm sure I would have remembered the unbelievable win, but I'm glad that I already knew the outcome of the race when I watched the movie today...much easier on the heart than watching the live broadcast! I'm also glad that I didn't know how Secretariat won that race, so I was still able to be surprised and thrilled.

It seems strange, even to me, that I have such an interest in horse racing, since I am generally so blasé on sports in general.  But I was that old cliché, a young girl with a passion for horses.  My friend Stephen Calegari set me on that course when we were both 10, when he loaned me his copy of Walter Farley's "The Black Stallion."  I loved that book and I still remember the embarrassing conversation I had with Stephen when I was looking at the list of other books by Farley on the book cover and noted, with excitement that all of Farley's books were about horses except the last one, Random House. I had no clue Random House was his publisher.  (I seem to remember a lot of embarrassing conversations I have had throughout my life....I should do an journal entry about that some day.)

I became obsessed with Farley's books.  Following the story of Alec Ramsey and The Black and the horse's offspring, I learned a lot about horseracing and that is where I first encountered the Triple Crown.  I started following horse races.   I still remember that Eddie Arcaro was one of the top jockeys at that time.

But it was his second equine hero that I really loved, Flame, "The Island Stallion." Steve Duncan meets this wild stallion and his herd while doing an archaeological dig with his friend Pitch on supposedly deserted Azul Island. I remember reading more than once about how, when riding bareback, both Alec on the Black and Steve on Flame (and later the heroines of Dorothy Lyons' horse books) would become one with the horse.

I dreamed about becoming one with a horse, getting on the bare back, leaning into the neck holding on to the mane and galloping off into the sunset, along a beach, with the waves lapping at the horse's feet.

Of course, I think I have been on a horse maybe 3 times in my life, always plug horses with heavy western saddles and I never got faster than a teeth-rattling trot and returned home with a very sore butt.  But in my mind's eye, I was racing along, one with a horse, the wind blowing through my hair.  And so I live vicariously with the jockeys during these races.

But I remember reading Laura Hildebrand's "Seabiscuit."   Now there was an eye-opening book, learning the reality about the life of a jockey.  You certainly don't hear those secrets when reading Dick Francis mysteries, which all take pace in the racing world in Great Britain.  I don't know if Britain is much more genteel than in this country, but Hildebrand's description of what the racing life is like for a jockey (to say nothing of the punishment they put themselves through to be able to make the weight limit, etc.) is not for the faint of heart.

I seem to have become a born-again voracious reader since (a) I got my Kindle and (b) started working in the book store.  At the end of last year, I had read forty books, which was one more than I had read in 2010 and double what I had read in 2009.  I felt very proud of myself, but as of today, which isn't even June yet, I have read 38 books.  I am also reading a greater variety of books, thanks to my exposure to such a wide variety of books at the store.

Last week at the store, I read Pat Conroy's book, "My Reading Life" in which he has such words of praise for Barnaby Conrad's "The Death of Manolete" that I found it for the Kindle and read it this morning.  Like many of the books I read at Logos, this is not a book I would have ever read on my own,but it was fascinating and I have a better understanding of bull fighting, a sport which I still think is unnecessarily cruel, but at least I understand its finer points now.

For sport, I'd rather watch horse racing ... and I will be eagerly watching to see if I'll Have Another can finally break the 34 year dry spell since the last Triple Crown winner.

Monday, May 28, 2012

We Are What We Ate

I stumbled across a book on today called "We Are What We Ate: 24 Memories of Food."  It appears to be 24 essays by people who explore the meaning of food in our lives and culture. I didn't order the book, but if it had come in a Kindle edition, I might have.
The Table of Contents includes such intriguing titles as:   "Onion Pie," "We Eat the Earth," "Watercress," "Her Chee-to Heart," and "Eat your Pets," among others.
It got me thinking about food and my relationship with it, as well as special food memories throughout mylife.  Surprisingly, when I sat down to make a list of the truly "special" memories, I didn't come up with many.  

I wasn't going to start with "Onion Pie," but when I saw it in the Table of Contents, I do have to tell about an experience we had once.  We had been invited to a dinner given by some gay friends of ours.  I had been asked if there was anything that we didn't eat and I joked "liver and beets" (because my host knew of my hatred of those two foods).  It didn't occur to me to let them know that Walt didn't like onions (nor does Marta, silly people) because he's been putting up with my cooking with onions for nearly 50 years and he just pulls them out of whatever it is that I cook and leaves them on the plate (you should see what his plate looked like when I decided to shred golly he pulled every shred he could find out!)

Anyway, we got to the home of our hosts and as we were walking into the kitchen, the cook said "I decided to make an onion pie."  I could see Walt turn pale right there.  But polite guest that he is, he ate every single onion that night (and this was a very thick pie, loaded with onions).  I was impressed, and very proud of him!

My mother is a very good cook, but she was never an adventurous cook.   The things she made that I remember fondly were her fried chicken, her pot roast, her leg of lamb, and those hockies--fried bread dough that we would have for a special treat.  We didn't have fancy vegetable dishes or fancy salads.  She didn't bake her own bread, but she made the best turkey stuffing ever--I like mine, but hers was better and, of course, she can't remember how to make it now. It was all pretty standard fare.  Her one special dish was enchaladas, which she learned to make from a Mexican neighbor.

She never taught me how to cook.  I learned how to cook by cooking 4 nights a week for the guys who lived in the house where Walt was living. I liked cooking, they didn't and they were happy to have me cook for them (except for the one guy who insisted on cooking when it was his night).  My budget was very small so I got to be really good at cheap things, like breast of lamb (which was 25 cents a pound in 1961).   But my cooking skills improved while I cooked for Newman Inn.  

I'm the kind of cook who almost always makes a new recipe for guests, because it's my one chance to try something that looks good.  With very few exceptions, the dishes always turned out well (the few that didn't failed spectacularly!)

But in thinking back about special food memories, I remember being in my grandmother's kitchen -- my mother's mother.  She was a farm woman and cooked on a big ol' black stove. None of that frou frou stuff for her.  I remember that she cooked tongue once and I remember loving it, though you couldn't get me to taste it (or any other organ meat) today.  I remember that my grandfather ate tomatoes sprinkled with sugar.  He also had no teeth and could clean corn off a cob better than most people with teeth.

The Hippo was a hamburger joint in San Francisco.  They had dozens of kinds of hamburgers (including a hamburger sundae, which Jeri usually got, since she could have dessert that way).  It was a favorite place to take the kids in San Francisco.

It was right across the street from The Prime Rib, which was a special place we went when I was a kid.  My memory from there was the night my grandmother decided to take half of her slab of meat home to have for the next day.   This was long before "doggie bags" became acceptable.  You just said you had a dog and asked for a bag, but most people were going to have the food for themselves and my grandmother, being very proper San Francisco matron would never give anybody the satisfaction of knowing she wanted the food for herself.  So the waiter said he would wrap it up for her and disappeared with her plate.  He came back with a big bag.  Being a kind person, he had wrapped up a whole bunch of leftovers from all sorts of plates for her non-existant dog!

My father had no qualms about asking to take home leftovers when we went to an Italian restaurant on Broadway St. when Walt and I were dating.  He filled up so many doggie bags with leftover meat, and pasta, and garlic bread, and salad and he even joked about bringing back the antipasto platter.  Then he asked the maitre'd if we could get someone to carry his bags to the car for him.  That is a very pleasant memory of a fun night with my father.  I can't remember when I laughed so hard.

I remember the first time I ate snails.  Paul was working on a Lamplighters show and I drove him back and forth to rehearsals. After the show opened, Gilbert decided to take the two of us out to dinner to thank us for all the commuting we did. We went to The Hungry Hunter and I remember I had filet of sole amandine.   People near us were having escargot and it smelled so good.  Gilbert talked about having had escargot at a French restaurant and, since his 50th birthday was coming up, I told him I would take him to that restaurant for his birthday and I would eat escargot.  We went and the snails were en brochette with a cream sauce and so delicious that we had a second order.  Fabulous.

I also remember a French restaurant that Walt and I went to once.   It was owned by some famous chef and it was the most fancy restaurant I had ever been in.  It was the kind of restaurant where the prices were on the man's menu, and not on the woman's. The waiters didn't hover at all but the second you were thinking that maybe you wanted something they were at your side to give it to you.  The tables were also spaced far apart, so you didn't feel you were eating in your neighbor's lap or listening to their conversation.  I remember that I had rack of lamb which was amazing. I also remember that when I got up to go to the ladies' room, one of the waiters escorted me there and back again.

I remember going to San Francisco's Cliff House with Walt's cousin and Tom.  I don't know why Walt wasn't along.  Anyway, the dinner was great, but we had baked Alaska for dessert and Tom, who was just starting to be the great chef he has become, was so intrigued he decided to learn how to make it and did.  He made it for our Thanksgiving dinner that year--and for many Thanksgiving dinners thereafter.

There was the great 9-course Chinese meal we had in Sacramento.   I had taken two courses in Chinese cooking from Martin Yan, who taught a very expensive course at the University and a very cheap ($25, as I recall) course through the adult school.  He told us the two courses were identical.  At the conclusion of the classes, he took all of the students out for a "real" Chinese meal.  It wasn't cheap, but we were happy to pay.  He bypassed the touristy Chinese places and took us to a place that looked like a real dive but it was some of the best Chinese food I have ever had.  One of the dishes was many different kinds of mushrooms, including one special variety that he told us ridiculously expensive (may have been as much as $50/lb). That was, by far, the best mushroom dish I have ever eaten.

We had good food on our China cruise last year, but not nearly as good as the food we had on the Russia cruise.  I would be hard pressed to choose the "best" food from that trip, but everything (particularly the soups) was exquisite. (I'm anxious to see what it is going to be like on the trip this summer!)

So many years, so many foods.  I don't know what I am based on what I have eaten...except, maybe, fat!

BTW,  I finished the book about the convent I mentioned a couple of days ago.  Pretty much did nothing else today but read.  I have very mixed feelings about it and thought I'd direct you to my book review.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday Stealing

The Imaginary Meme, Part II

21. Have you felt that life is like being on a roller coaster?
Well, I don't like roller coasters, and I enjoy life but it certainly does have its ups and downs.

22. Favorite year so far?

Oh Lord, I've lived too many of them to pick just one.  Maybe one of the Lawsuit years, when we loved following the band around...and when all five of our children were alive.

23. Do you consider yourself religious?

I consider myself spiritual, in that I have a relationship with some higher power, but I don't consider myself religious in the sense of belonging to a specific religion.

24. How do you dress to impress?

I don't.

25. Have you ever been to Connecticut?

I don't think so, unless we drove through it on the way to somewhere else.

26. Do you eat sushi?

Yes.  Love some of it. 

27. Would you smoke pot providing there was no risk or driving involved?

No. Not interested in a drug high.

28. What do you think of Idol Winner Phillip Phillips??

Didn't watch Idol, so I don't have a clue.

29. Do you believe that animals have souls?

Oh definitely!  We once believed that what separated us from the animals was our ability to use tools.  That has since been disproven.  Many animals use tools.   We once thought we could not communicate with animals, but look at chimpanzees and gorillas who have learn to use sign language and who can express their wants and emotions.   And besides, how can you look in the face of an animal and not see a soul there?   I remember the death of our dog Toby.  I held him while the vet administered the drug that would end his life.  One minute he was there, the next minute he was not.  He looked the same,but "something" was gone.

30. Who did you last talk to? Share, if you dare.

My husband, who asked me why the back door of the car was opened.

31. What is one thing that always annoys you?

Mr. McCoy (of the Hatfields and the McCoys)

32. Do you believe in a higher being?

I believe in something greater than ourselves. I don't know how I define it.

33. Have you ever fallen in love with a neighbor?

Not since grammar school and Stephen Calegari

34. Any plans for this weekend?

Not any more.  Tom and the family were going to drive up from Santa Barbara to introduce Lacie (9 mos old) to her great grandmother, but then Brianna got a double ear infection, so that plan had to be canceled.  I'm just as glad we don't have to drive on the freeway on a holiday weekend.  But I'm also disappointed at my mother missing out again on meeting her new great grandchild.

35. Would you like to rule your country, if you could?

Good lord, no!!!

36. Do you like watching films about the nature of animals?

Absolutely adore it.  Especially elephants, whales, horses, dogs.  But really I enjoy learning about any animal.

37. What's the difference between love and/or lust?

The price.

38. Do you have a soul?

Well, if I believe animals have souls, I sure as heck believe I have a soul!

39. One best friend or many good friends?

One best friend who lives close enough to see frequently.  If I can't have that, many good friends.  If I can't have that, a few casual friends.

40. Do you believe in spontaneous combustion?

I don't know enough about the science (true or false) involved in it to form an opinion.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Foursquare is a site where you can check in with your smart phone so people know where you are.  I think its purpose is so that if you have a friend in the same place, you can find each other.  Of course, I am highly unlikely to find someone I know through Foursquare but I find I am using it more than I expected to just because it's fun to "check in" from wherever I am. So I was happy to go out to lunch this afternoon so I could chalk up another "check in" with Foursquare.   

This is the group that met a month ago at Ciocolat when our friend Grainne was here from Ireland.

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The purpose of the lunch was because Grainne was here, and the group was Grainne, my Scrabble buddy Joan, Carol, a woman I have known forever and almost never see, and Mitch, our actor friend who lives in a housing complex that Carol used to manage.  We also visited with Kate, who owns Ciocolat, and whose father was in the hospital, battling cancer.  He has since died.

At the end of that lunch, we decided that we'd had such a good time we should make it a regular thing, because none of us is getting any younger and we really should take advantage of the opportunity to get together once in a while.  So today we met again, this time at Monticello restaurant, which has easy maneuverability for Joan and Mitch, both of whom use walkers.  Grainne is back in Ireland and won't be here again until next month, but Pat, Kate's Mom, came.  She is someone else who has been a friend forever.  She is now in the throes of planning the party for what would have been her husband's 80th birthday (something he requested instead of a funeral or memorial service).  I hadn't seen her since Jim died and it was good to see her again.   Mitch also decided to join us again.

Carol, Mitch and I arrived first and as we sat waiting for the others, we went through the usual "organ recital" of which body part(s) were bothering whom this week.  With all of us fading away, piece by piece, this seems to have replaced "how are the kids?" as the greeting among people of a certain age.

As Joan and Pat arrived and sat down, Mitch asked if we were going to discuss politics, because he was itching to do so.  We are all of the same mind about political issues and all terrified at the prospect of Romney defeating Obama in November. We all agreed we should be listening to more right wing media to gauge what "the other side" is thinking to be more fully informed, but none of us had the stomach for it.

Monticello was the perfect site for our lunch.  It was uncrowded enough and with the cavernous space inside, noise was not instantly absorbed, so Mitch, with his hearing difficulties, had no trouble keeping up with the conversation.  The background music was very loud, though, and we ultimately had to ask the waitress to turn it down a bit.

The goal of Monticello is to cook with seasonal produce, grown locally, so Joan was disappointed that they did not have her favorite BLT because they had no tomatoes.  Of course the restaurant is next door to the Davis Food Coop, which is noted for its fresh locally grown produce, but apparently they couldn't run next door to buy a tomato. I ordered their pulled pork sandwich and the waitress came back to tell me that they didn't have it.  I should mention we were there half an hour before the official lunch hour and, when we arrived, were the only people in the place!   I substituted an egg salad sandwich, which was OK,but for some reason they seem to have sprinkled the bread liberally with paprika and I didn't like the bitter taste.   Likewise my salad came with dressing on the side and when I poured it onto the lettuce, there was paprika which had settled to the bottom so that one lettuce leaf was like taking a spoon full of unpleasant surprise!

But we were able to sit and chat for 2 hours, which was great.   Walt is a political junkie, following all his favorite talking heads, but he is not into political discussions so it's nice to have like-minded people who enjoy a discussion of current events.

We hope to get together again at the end of June, when Grainne is back in town, and before we leave for our European cruise.

After lunch, I drove Joan home and then went shopping at my favorite market, where I ran into...Pat, whom I had just left at Monticello minutes before.

In the afternoon, I settled in to watch the DVD of Henry V that had just arrived from Netflix.  When I tried to read the play at the book store last week, I made it 3 pages before starting to fall asleep.  I think it was 5 minutes into the movie when I began napping.  I'm thinking of buying a copy to have around for nights when I suffer from insomnia!

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Bit of This, a Bit of That

Before reading further, scroll down and check this picture.   

 This is a photo which a fan sent to actor George Takei and which he posted to FaceBook.  This was taken during San Francisco's annual Bay to Breakers, an annual foot race that starts on the east side of San Francisco and ends at the ocean beach on the west side of the city.  It is about 7.5 miles long and is best known for the elaborate costumes--or lack of clothing entirely--displayed by many of the runners.   The city seems to ignore any regulations about public nudity for this one day.

I have always been curious about those folks who run the race in the altogether.  San Francisco is the kind of town that just accepts that as what happens during this race, but think about it.  They arrive at the starting point and presumably disrobe there.  Then they run across the city, up and down hills, through Golden Gate Park and end up at the beach.  They are still nude.  What do they do then?

Do they get on a bus to go home?  Even if you have a friend come to pick you up, there are thousands of people in this race--what do they do until they meet up with their friends?  (The guy in this picture seems to be wearing a backpack and may have brought his clothes with him, but I have seen folks without a stitch on them and no bag in sight.)
[I'm just thinking that this may be a great opportunity for Jim of Jim's Journal, or maybe Kimberly of Thoughts Outsde my Head, who love to run.  I'll hold your clothes, guys.]

Ahhh well...these are the thoughts that flit through my head when I'm procrastinating.


Well, the next chapter of the Hatfields and McCoys has been written (literally) and things are heating up.  This is the e-mail I received today:
Yesterday (May 23) the dogs barked nonstop from 3:02 p.m. until about 3:25. Thanks for whatever you did at 3:25, but they definitely exceeded your 5 minute threshold pledge. Maybe you weren't home, maybe you were in the shower, etc., but it went on for 20+ minutes and I'm fairly sure would have continued much longer if it had been a longer shower, longer time away, etc. Like I said, in addition to the annoyance it causes for us (Virginia had to go take her nap at my office on one occasion, for example), I'm concerned about the new occupants of my place when I get it rented out. Please explore all avenues to find a solution (dog doors, making the garage their home, making indoors the norm and the back yard the exception, more electricity on the bark collars, etc.). What you're doing now isn't working. Thanks.
3:02 p.m.?  Does the guy have nothing to do but sit and watch the clock and hope our dogs will bark?  And he wants me to either keep them in the house all the time or increase the electricity in their collars? (FWIW, they don't have electric collars--I wouldn't do that to them.   They have collars that spray them with citronella if they bark).  Also, I would like to say that I was in the shower during part of that time and when I got out there was a dog barking continually.  I was happy that it was not our dogs and to be sure, I checked and our dogs were sleeping on the couch in the living room.

I just don't know where this is going to go but I am at my wits end (and apparently so is he).  I may be forced to give Lizzie and Polly up, though that will kill me (and who in the world would take Polly anyway?).  I have sent an SOS to Ashley.  I already am becoming a recluse in my own home because I am afraid of leaving for fear the dogs will bark.
Anybody have any suggestions?

Daughters.jpg (44794 bytes) 
I started reading this horror story this afternoon.  No, Freddie Kruger is not hiding in the confessional and nobody is going to invite the Criminal Minds team to investigate a series of murders in the sisters' laundry.
This book is about a woman who spent 18 years in a convent...and why she left.
I was intrigued because of the cover photo.  I have seen nun tell-all books before, but this woman was a Daughter of Charity.  That was the order I was going to enter when I left high school.  In thinking about my desire to enter the convent, I think back to the light-hearted bantering among the sisters, and to a bunch of things that made the whole camaraderie of the life style so appealing to me. 
My father was upset with the rule that I would never be able to return home again.  I was concerned about wearing wool in St. Louis in the summertime (a clue to the frivolous nature of my "vocation").

So I was curious when I saw this book...what had I missed out on?   The Daughters of Charity have three provinces and Ms. Beasley entered the eastern Province, so she was not in the building that I saw when I visited my friend, Sister Anne, in St. Louis.  But a mere reading of the first chapter of this book had me so very relieved that I was counseled to postpone my entrance and to think hard about my decision.   Despite the Vatican's current battle with females in religious life, being a nun ain't for sissies.  You leave your family and postulants are only permitted one letter a month to family, on a single sheet of paper, that will be censored before mailed, to eliminate anything of a personal nature.  Touching any other person is not permitted.  Thoughts of family are discouraged.  

When the door of the convent closes behind you, your previous life is dead.  New postulants are taught how to walk, how to eat (you can't mix foods together because that would mean you were enjoying your food and enjoying food is forbidden). Crying is forbidden, even when your father dies and you are forbidden to attend the funeral. It goes on and on and on and I haven't even come to the second chapter yet.

When Sister Anne came to San Francisco to have "the talk" with me and encourage me to postpone my entry, she knew what she was doing.  I wouldn't have lasted a month.  And if I had, I would have made a rotten sister!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


I've been contacted by a company called e-foods, to ask if I would like to sample and review their foods here on this blog, so I've agreed to be a guinea pig.  It sounds like an interesting deal.  Their web site explains that eFoods' mission is to empower every family to have food security in the case of storms, natural disasters, or even financial crises like shrinking income or the loss of a job.

They say:  Over the past 30 years the founders of eFoodsDirect have helped people become more secure and confident with their greatest dependency—food.

When a major emergency strikes, imagine your peace of mind having a convenient, just-add-water-and-simmer food supply on hand. And if a minor emergency pops up where you’re simply trying to feed the kids, you'll appreciate the best-tasting, most versatile food in the world.

As you learn more about who we are and what we stand for, you’ll find the eFoodsDirect Difference is all about putting people first.

So I'm intrigued and have agreed to let them send me some samples, which I will be trying and reporting to this blog after I've had a chance to try it.  I eat, and I write so I seem to be the perfect person to try their product.  Stay tuned!

Apparently you can try their foods too, by using the coupons embedded in their web site.

But the Book was so GOOD

One of this morning's questions on "That's My Answer" was "What book  have you read the most times? How many times have you read it?"  I suppose there are books from my childhood that I read countless times (the Black Stallion series, for example), but in my adulthood, there are so many books and so little time to re-read them, that only one leaps to mind:  "Marjorie Morningstar."  I think I read that book in high school and it was my "go to" book to read whenever I needed comfort food of books for many years.  My copy became so dilapidated that Marta once borrowed it and, as a surprise, had it rebound and gave it to me for Christmas.  Like me, Marta is an avid reader -- much more voracious than I -- and she understands the relationship between a reader and her beloved book!
"L'empress," one of the regulars on "That's My Answer" (and commenter on my blog posts) posted a reply to my  answer of "Marjorie Morningstar," which said I'll bet one reason you liked it was because it was better than the movie.

Well, no...that's not the reason I liked it.  I had read it several times before the movie came out and I remember being excited to see the book brought to the big screen.  Natalie Wood seemed the perfect choice for Marjorie and while Gene Kelly might not have been my first choice to play Noel, her lover, I liked him as an actor, so I had high hopes for the movie.

But the movie was terrible.  It was one of those "it seemed like a good idea at the time" movies that changed the entire point of the story by casting handsome young Martin Milner as Marjorie's friend Wally Wronkin, with whom, at the end of the movie, she realizes she has been in love.  But it was wrong...wrong...wrong.  Marjorie would never have ended up with Wally (and, in fact, she married an attorney sometime after the point where the movie ends).  I wanted to throw things at the screen when I saw I saw Marjorie look in the bus driver's mirror and see Wally in the back of the bus and smile in that knowing way.  They had completely ruined my favorite book.

But how many times does Hollywood get it right anyway.  How many wonderful books have been ruined or trivialized or completely misunderstood by getting the Hollywood treatment.  Barbra Streisand is a person I admire.  She is a multi talented actress who has also had much success with producing and/or directing big blockbuster movies, but there are two for which I cannot forgive her.  You all know that I hate what she did to A Star Is Born, but even more, perhaps, I hated what she did to A Prince of Tides, another of my favorite books.

Prince of Tides is a coming of age story in which the hero, Tom Wingo, is meeting with his sister's psychiatrist in order to help the psychiatrist make sense of the sister's childhood, following the sister's suicide attempt.  The book is a series of long flashbacks to the Wingo children's growing up in South Carolina.   It is filled with memorable escapades, including pivotal one involving a white tiger, which was conveniently just dropped from the movie entirely.  Streisand made the psychiatrist (the role she played) the center of the story and the flashbacks just little vignettes that assumed less importance than her growing relationship with Tom (not a part of the book either).  I was so angry with that movie.

We recently saw The Help on our last "family movie night" when Jeri was in town.  I had loved the book and so I liked the movie. Jeri and Walt were less enthusiastic about it and when I stopped to think about it, the reason I liked the movie is that I knew the back story of a lot of the action in the movie, and they did not.  I knew, for example, why toilets appeared all over Ms Hilly's front lawn.  It was a funny scene in the movie, but difficult to place in context.  There were a lot of things like that that I realized later you appreciated and enjoyed if you knew the story, and which wouldn't really have the same importance to you if you did not.

One of my favorite David Gerrold books is "The Martian Child," a loosely fictionalized account of his adopting of his son.  Right off the bat I was angry with the movie for wimping out.  Gerrold is gay and the issue of a gay man adopting a child was significant in the book.  In the movie the character of "David" is a widower.  The movie was otherwise not all that bad though, knowing David personally, Walt and I both guffawed at the magnificent home that fictional David lives in and the finale was just cheesy and not up to the level of the book.

I still don't know how Hollywood managed to take a book as gripping as "The DaVinci Code" and make it into such a boring movie.  Or maybe I just couldn't get past Tom Hanks' hair.  I'm sure there are a lot of classics that I have forgotten, or that I never read the book, so I can't really speak to how they were transformed to the silver screen....I'll bet a lot of you can.

I realize it's not possible to include every incident that is in a book in a movie, but it would be nice to at least stay faithful to the book.  Gone with the Wind is one of those movies that I feel did credit to the book.  Yes, there were things that were omitted, but basically I think that the movie itself does not disappoint people who love the book.

Likewise, Like Water for Elephants, while taking liberties with the story, ended up being pretty faithful to the book, in the circus parts of the story, though you missed the back and forth of the old man and what is going on in his life today, which was a big part of the book.

I've seen several movie versions of "Little Women" and each one seems to stay pretty faithful to the original book, as do the many screen versions I have seen of "Of Mice and Men."  

So it can be done.  It is possible to take a beloved book and put it on screen without having book lovers tearing their hair out about the liberties taken with a familiar plot.  It's just a shame that when a big blockbuster book makes it onto the screen, so often it is a disappointment.  I would never see a movie of a book I wanted to read without reading the book first.  And if I happen to see the movie first, I might skip reading the book, for fear of being angry with the movie.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Here Come the Elephants

About a year ago, I wrote about my love of elephants.  The entry was prompted by seeing Like Water for Elephants and falling in love with its star, Rosie.  I am "into" elephants again, with the book I just finished, and am inspired once again to talk about the ponderous pachyderms.

I may have seen elephants in zoos as a small child, but the first interaction up close and personal with an elephant that I remember was at the circus.   Circuses were held at the Cow Palace in San Francisco and before or after the show, you could walk "backstage" to see the animals.  I remember that I had a bag of peanuts and was able to feed the elephant peanuts...and when the peanuts were gone, I fed the elephant the bag (which she also ate with delight).  

My second close interaction with elephants is the subject of the Video of the Day (which is a video taken of a screen showing a home movie--the sound is of all of us watching the movie).  It was August of 1968, when Ned was about a year old, and the circus was coming to Oakland.  Char and I decided to take the kids down to the train and watch the animals being unloaded, which was great fun.  Then we put the kids in the cars and drove to the Oakland Colisseum to watch the animal parade arrive there.  Char and I found a good spot to stand with all the kids and watch the parading animals arrive.  Too late we realized that all that was separating us from the Big Cats (in cages) was a thin tent wall.  We would have moved, but it was too late.  The elephants were coming straight for us.  They passed within a couple of feet of us and as one passed by, her handler warned us "watch out--she kicks."  

It was an early adventure in a lifetime of adventures with Charlotte!   And it was Ned's first time on TV, as the local news filmed him riding in the backpack while the animals were coming off the train.

I've always been fascinated by elephants, moreso the more I learn about them.  From National Geographic specials, I learned about elephant societies and from those movies and tons of movies on You Tube, I've seen how the elephant families work together, play together, solve problems together, and grieve together.

(Parenthetically, I think back to my days in school, where I was taught that what separated humans from animals was our ability to think rationally and to use tools.  Later observation of so many species of animals shows how wrong, and downright egotistical, that is!  In many cases, the animals are smarter than we are!)

It would be decades before I understood the plight of elephants in circuses and zoos, to learn about the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee and begin to follow their stories, send a donation when I could, and to root for animals that the group was working so hard to rescue from unspeakable conditions so they could live out their lives in peace and comfort.

It was through one of the nature specials that I learned about the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya, which rescues orphaned elephants and raises them to be introduced back into the wild.  I have just started reading the autobiography of Daphne Sheldrick, who founded the foundation many years ago and who still, at age 78, runs the place. Peggy visited there several years ago (outsiders are permitted to see the babies for one hour a day...check this cute video I found) and Walt's sister and her husband were there last year, when helping to inaugurate a new well for a village in Kenya.  I know I will never get there now, but it had long been my dream to go.

While reading Sheldrick's book, I came across another one which sounded interesting, "The Elephant Whisperer," by Lawrence Anthony.   Anthony owns a game preserve in central Zululand, in South Africa.  He was just developing it when someone made him an offer he couldn't refuse:  9 rogue elephants that he could either have for free or that would be killed because nobody else wanted them.  Against his better judgement, he agreed to take them, and thus starts the story of his struggles with them, his becoming accepted by the herd as an OK guy to have around, if at a safe distance, the trumphs and tragedies that take place over many years, and mostly just learning more about these magnificent animals and other animals in the reserve as well).

This book read more gripping than a novel.  When I woke up at 4 a.m., unable to sleep, I thought I would read for a bit and next thing I knew I was finishing the book at 8 a.m. (so asI write this I am a bit groggy!)

Anthony's passion for saving the elephants--and all the animals on his reserve--speaks loudly through every chapter.  He explores their ability to communicate through rumblings in their stomachs at frequencies below human hearing, which can be detected by herds many miles apart.  He is so keen on keeping them wild animals, that all employees of the reserve were forbidden to make any direct contact with the herd and that he was the only one who was permitted to interact with them, his idea to bond with the matriarch, Nana, as a way of settling the herd in...and once that was done he, too, would leave them alone and reduce all communication.

Throughout the book there are instances that are amazing examples of elephant intelligence and understanding.  Nana saved Anthony's life at least twice.   When an elephant baby was born crippled and after many days watching the herd trying to get her to her feet, Anthony was able to communicate his desire to help and, with a bit of trickery, was able to take the baby to his home and get her medical attention.
I am fascinated by animal communication and the more I read books like this, the more I realize how very little we know about the world around us. 
Read this passage about plant life, for example...
Here in this ancient woodland, the acacia tree not only understands it's under attack when browsed by an antelope or giraffe, it quickly injects tannin into its leaves, making them taste bitter.
Dumb plants indeed!

Every time I read a book like this, I look at the dogs and wonder what they think, what they understand, and why if a herd of elephants can learn how to interact with humans, a little Chihuahua can't to relieve herself outside...where nature intends for her to go!!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

100 Movies

As I have mentioned many times, Kwizgiver often gives me ideas for memes and lists.  Because of her, two months ago I attempted a list of 50 songs which had moved me (realizing, practically, that I could not make a list of 100).  Today I noticed that she had done a 100 movies list too and I thought I'd try that.  I might be able to make 100 which have had an impact on me, or that I would be likely to watch if I saw them come on TV, though I suspect that most of them will not be current movies, since we see so few movies these days.  As I make this list I discover that very few were released after 1970 and that most of them are high on schmaltz and not necessarily long on quality!   Very few are on the AFI list of the top 100 films.  I suspect people will relate to Kwizgiver's list more than to most of mine!

Where they exist, I will include links to the trailers on YouTube in case you want to check them out.  And they are in no particular order of importance, just as they come to mind except, of course, for the first one, which should surprise nobody.  Here goes:

1. A Star is Born.  It has to be the Judy Garland version.   The Janet Gayor version in 1937 was good and I like it, but I prefer it with music.   I am still angry with Barbra Streisand for her version.
2. The Quiet Man.   Take away John Wayne's cowboy hat and his Marines uniform and you have Sean Thornton, former boxer returning to his Irish roots and falling in love with Maureen O'Hara.  I rarely put this on lists of favorites, not because it isn't, but because I forget.  I love this movie.
3. Dave.  I love this movie because I would like to think politics could work like this.  Kevin Kline makes a great president.
4. Moon over Parador.   This is the movie on which Dave was based.  Same story set in a foreign country, with Richard Dreyfus as the stand-in president.
5. An American President.   While I'm looking at good presidents Michael Douglas does a good job too, and proves that even the President needs a little romance in his life.
6. The Frisco Kid.   Gene Wilder just after Willie Wonka and Harrison Ford before Star Wars.  Great little comedy about an innocent, naive rabbi trying to make it from Poland to Old West San Francisco, with the reluctant assistance of bank robber Ford.   Check it out!
7. Mrs. Doubtfire.  I love Robin Williams in almost anything, but he is in great form in drag, playing a British nanny to his own children.
8. The Birdcage.   Speaking of Robin Willliams in drag, how about the American movie based on the French La Cage Aux Folles.  Actually Williams doesn't do drag, Nathan Lane does, but it all takes place in the drag club Williams owns.
9. La Cage Aux Folles.   The original movie is wonderful too.
10. Victor Victoria.   While we're on the subject of drag, this classic with Julie Andrews playing a woman impersonating a man impersonating a woman is much fun. 
11. Tootsie.  Another drag movie, with Dustin Hoffman playing an out of work actor who gets a job on a popular soap opera by posing as a woman.
12. The Seventh Veil.   No video trailer of this movie, made in 1945, but I fell in love with James Mason, the aloof, somewhat cruel uncle to brilliant pianist Ann Todd.
13. North by Northwest.   My favorite Hitchcock thriller.  Cary Grant at his best climbing around the heads of Mt. Rushmore.
14. To Catch a Thief.   Or maybe THIS is my favorite Hitchcock thriller.  Cary Grant at his best.   :) chasing the elusive jewel thief that everyone thinks is him.  Best scene--the fireworks scene with Grace Kelly.
15. The Third Man.   This was the movie that made me understand why black and white movies are not better colorized!  Gripping story, directed by Orson Wells, beautifully photographed and death to anyone who tries to add color!
16. Bambi.  My very favorite Disney movie. I bought the DVD for Bri and wanted to watch it with her, but I don't even know if she's ever seen it.
17. Dumbo.  Also a favorite Disney, though not on a par with Bambi.
18. Song of the South.   This controversial Disney movie, based on the Uncle Remus stories, was re-released in 1986, after many years on the shelf, having been removed, apparently, because of material that came to be felt was politically incorrect and racist.
19. The Manchurian Candidate.   Speaking of movies that were pulled from circulation is the original of this movie, the Frank Sinatra version.  Rumor is that Sinatra took it out circulation for many years, following the JFK assassination, but happily it is now available again.  The original version is much better and more chilling than the updated version.
20. The Fatal Glass of Beer.   If you have 18 minutes to spare, do yourself a favor and click on the link to see the whole W.C. Fields movie, which David described as "the dumbest movie ever," and then invited all of his friends, in waves, to come and watch with him.  'tain't a fit night out for man nor beast!
21. Air Force One.  A gripping thriller of the hijacking of the presidential airplane.  Harrison Ford gets to strut his stuff in this one and Glenn Close plays the vice president trying to keep it all together at home.  For some reason, this movie seems to run quite often on cable...and I usually watch it (or watch "at" it)
22. The Nun's Story. This Audrey Hepburn flick was one that made me want to be a missionary for many years after I saw it.
23. Love in the Afternoon.   I guess this is the Audrey Hepburn section of this list, since I have loved so many of her movies.  In this movie Audrey plays the innocent young daughter of a Paris detective (Maurice Chevalier) falls in love with a middle-aged playboy (Gary Cooper). one of her father's most notorious subjects.
24. Sabrina.  In this Hepburn movie, the chauffeur's daughter gets caught between two wealthy brothers (William Holden and Humphrey Bogart).
25. Roman Holiday.   Hepburn won an academy award for this, her first movie, where she plays a runaway princess having a holiday in Rome, accompanied by reporter (Gregory Peck) who is determined to get a big story out of the fling.
26. My Fair Lady. Was she ever more regal than descending the stairs of Professor Higgins' (Rex Harrison) house on her way to the ball?  Loved this Hepburn film.
27. The Prince and the Showgirl is the unusual pairing of showgirl Marilyn Monroe and philandering prince Laurence Olivier but the result is a charming little film that I very much enjoy.
28. To Kill a Mockingbird.   Everybody's favorite attorney, Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) at his most noble.
29. Ocean's Eleven.   The original, with the Rat Pack. Yeah, I know that Brad Pitt and George Clooney et al are the new rat pack, but the original of this movie can't hold a candle to the remakes (IMHO).  The funeral scene is classic.
30. Affair to Remember.   How could I get this far without mentioning this movie?  Classic schmaltzy love story of a shipboard romance that changes the lives of the two lovers (Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr).  I have seen this movie maybe 100 times and still cry in the last 5 minutes.  In fact, I don't need to see the rest of the movie, just catch the last five minutes and I'm heading for the tissues.
31. Sleepless in Seattle.   While not a remake of Affair to Remember, that movie does play a big role in this film starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan about two people finding each other.
32. Big.  Tom Hanks is more than believable as a young boy in a grown up body trying to get back to his original size, while at the same time learning what it means to be a grown up.
33. Philadelphia.   While I'm thinking of Tom Hanks, his performance as an AIDS victim fighting an improper job termination was just wonderful. What an impact his performance made!
34. Miracle on 34th St., my favorite Christmas movie--as usual, the original, not the remake.  Is Kris Kringle really the real Santa Claus, as he asserts?  Natalie Wood is the perfect little girl, and the ending is magical.
35. Driftwood.   Natalie Wood also plays the little girl in this movie, which has no YouTube trailer (link is to ImDB).  It has all you want in schmaltz -- a little girl, a lost dog, a virulent virus, and well-meaning doctor and a love interest. 
36. The Blue Veil. Another movie not on YouTube is this movie starring Jane Wyman, which you can't even find in VHS tape now.  Wyman plays a war widow, whose child dies at birth.  She spends the rest of her life working as a nanny and at the end there is a reunion of all of her former charges, now grown up.  It was probably a horrible movie, but I would love to see it again.
37. Ghost.  This movie was released about a year after Gilbert died, at a time when I really needed to believe in life after death.  Patrick Swayzie and Demi Moore convinced me!
38. Shadowlands. I loved this love story between Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger, playing CS Lewis and an American divorcee, dying of cancer, whom he marries.  "The sadness then is part of the joy now...that's the deal"
39. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.  Spencer Tracy's last movie.  He died 17 days later.  Rather than linking to the trailer, I'm linking to my favorite monologue that gets me every time.   Are the tears in Hepburn's eyes acting or real?  I'm betting real.
40. Lilies of the Field.   The first time we paid attention to Sidney Poitier and it set the rest of his career.  I just loved his relationship with the German nuns.
41. The King and I.   This musical became the lifelong role for Yul Brynner, who did play other roles, but is most remembered for this which he played on stage for the rest of his life.   Tells the story of a British teacher who comes to Siam to teach the children of the king, and in the process changes the course of history for the country.
42. The Music Man.  In addition to being a movie I enjoy, it also became the family stage show, since Paul and Jeri did it once and Paul did it three times (winning an award once). Robert Preston is the perfect Harold Hill.
43. Lili.  Sweet story of a young girl (Leslie Caron) who  joins the circus and becomes involved with a group of puppets--and the puppetteer.
44. Gigi.  Caron comes into her own with this Oscar-winning movie about the coming of age of the daughter of a courtesan in Paris.  With Maurice Chevalier, Louis Jordan and Hermione Gingold.
45. Anastasia.  Even though DNA evidence proves that Anastasia, daughter of Czar Nicholas did not escape the execution of her family, this Ingrid Bergman/Yul Brynner movies still makes me wonder! Helen Hayes is marvelous as the Dowager Empress.
46. Summertime.   Katharine Hepburn as a single middle aged woman finding love with Rosanno Brazzi in Venice.
47. The King's Speech.   Hey!  A sort of reecent movie! The story of the relationship between King George VI and his speech therapist (Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush) is just beautiful.   I love triumph over tragedy stories!
48. Rebel Without a Cause.   This James Dean movie had an impact on any teen ager who saw it.  The alienation between the teens and their parents, the friendship that grows between Dean, Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo, all three, in their own way, misfits.  Beautiful movie.
49. Death of a Salesman.   This version of the Arthur Miller play with Dustin Hoffman as the down and on his way out salesman Willy Loman is just magic. I've seen several versions of this play and this is, for me, the best.
50. Marathon Man.   Hoffman again in the thriller starring Laurence Olivier as an ex-Nazi war criminal (who also happens to be a sadistic dentist) will keep you on the edge of your seat.
51. Castaway.  Tom Hanks carries a movie about one man stuck for years on an otherwise deserted island after the crash of the plane in which he was flying.  He makes each scene special. And you'll never casually punch a volleyball again.
52. The Old Man and the Sea.   Speaking of solo performances, this movie telling Hemmingway's story of an old Portuguese fisherman battling his "big fish" against sharks and the elements is just amazing. I love that the only trailers I could find have Greek subtitles (but the film clips are in English)
53. Hoosiers.  Another David-and-Goliath type movie of a down and out coach (Gene Hackman) taking a down and out high school basketball team and bringing them to the state championships.
54. Superman.  Not "my kind of movie" ordinarily but Christopher Reeve's performance was so good...and his sad history after he finished making the Superman movies makes this one of the special ones.
55. Unfaithful.  This movie with Diane Lane having an affair with Richard Gere a brilliant romantic thriller.   The scene with Diane Lane on the bus was just classic.
56. For Me and My Gal.   Well, I should include another Judy Garland movie.  This was Gene Kelly's screen debut, as a vaudeville hoofer with eyes set on playing The Palace in New York, but who gets drafted and the effect that has on his relationship with Garland.  Maybe one of my favorite of her MGM years.
57. I Could Go on Singing.   Judy Garland's best film since A Star is Born.  More autobiographical in spots than most!
58. Back to the Future.   I enjoyed the whole trilogy, but #1 and #3 were the best.  Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly goes backward and forward in time with buddy Christopher Lloyd so often it will make your head spin.
59. Chaplin.  Robert Downey, Jr. makes Charlie Chaplin live again.  Fabulous film.
60. The Kid.  Charlie Chaplin's first full length film, with Jackie Cooper playing the child Chaplin adopted as a baby.  Funny and a tear jerker at the same time.  The link is to the full movie.
61. Rear Window.   Another Hitchcock thriller, which shows that terror can be produced with very little actual action.  Grace Kelly plays Jimmy Stewart's girlfriend.  I remember watching this with Paul, who was clutching a pillow the whole time.
62. Vertigo.  I love this movie not only because it's a good Hitchcock thriller, but because it was shot in my neighborhood -- James Stewart's character's flat is 3 blocks from where I grew up.
63. The Great Escape.   One of the great prisoner of war movies, starring everybody (James Garner, Steve McQueen, Richard Dawson, etc.).  Hogan's Heroes this ain't!
64. Moscow on the Hudson.   This was the movie that made me realize there was more to Robin Williams than his comedy. 
65. Patch Adams.  This is how I wish medicine was least with the level of care that Patch has.   The scene welcoming gynecologists to the hospital is priceless.
66. Steel Magnolias.   What a wonderfully empowering women's film...showing that those ol' southern belles are really made of steel!
67. The Trouble with Harry.   An early Hitchcock film that is more quirky than terrifying.  Shirley Maclaine's movie debut in a starring role.
68. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.  Leonard Nimoy's first outing as directing one of the Star Trek films.  This is the one with the whales and, of all the films, my favorite.
69. Calendar Girls. What a wonderful, fun movie.  The women's club of a small town in England comes up with an unusual way to make money for the group.
70. Waking Ned Devine.   I laughed so hard during this Irish movie, which involves a winning lottery ticket found on the body of a dead man.  Can the money be claimed?
71. A Private Function.   Another hilarious movie about a small town in England dealing with post-World War II rationing...and a pig.  Michael Palin and Maggie Smith are both very funny.
72. 84 Charing Cross Rd.   It's one place I wanted to go when we were first in England.  Charing Cross Rd. exists,but #84 does not.  Still this story about a British book store owner (Anthony Hopkins) and a book enthusiast in America (Anne Bancroft) is a classic.
73. Mr. Holland's Opus.   We knew a couple of Mr. Hollands and I love this movie, which celebrates teachers who make a difference.
74. Whiskey Galore (aka Tight Little Island).  This is more one of Walt's favorite movies--a Scottish island which runs out of whiskey...and how providence provides for them!
75.  Gaijin. This is a beautiful Brasilian movie that I saw back in the 1980s.  It is about the Japanese migration to Brasil to work on the coffee plantations.  To truly appreciate the message of this film, it is important to watch the captioned version, so you can appreciate the Portuguese, Italian, English, and Japanese languages spoken during the film, and how important the language mix is to the understanding of the story.  Couldn't find a film clip from it.
76. Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  A children's classic that can be enjoyed by adults as well.   Wouldn't everyone like to live in a chocolate factory?
77. Gia.  Angelina Jolie plays model, Gia Carangi.  She brings such power to this portrayal that it is mesmerizing.
78. Interrupted Melody.   When I first saw this movie about Australian opera singer Marjorie Lawrence, when I was in grammar school, I decided I was going to become an opera singer and probably drove my mother nuts with my attempts to skreetch high notes!
79. Experiment in Terror.   Not only was this Blake Edwards movie shot in San Francisco, but my then-boyfriend, Randy Ray Jones, was in a couple of scenes as an extra.  In addition to that, it holds you on the edge of your seat.
80. Days of Wine and Roses. Coming from a long line of alcoholics, I was particularly taken with this film, which shows how an upscale couple, Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick, begin to sink into alcoholism.   Title song won the Oscar.
81. Show Boat.  I am sure I must have seen movies before Show Boat but this is the movie I remember going to for the first time, with my grandmother.  I even remember that we arrived late.
82. High Society.   Bing Crosby! Frank Sinatra! Grace Kelly! Louis Armstrong! Cole Porter! Is there any need for further explanation?  This is the musical remake of the old Cary Grant/Katharine Hepburn movie,The Philadelphia Story.
83. White Christmas.   While I'm mentioning Bing Crosby, I must add White Christmas as a favorite Christmas movie.
84. The Court Jester.   Danny Kaye classic.  Where is the pellet with the poison anyway?
85. Oh God.  As is obvious if you have made it this far down this list, my tastes in movies do not go deep.   I will forever more picture George Burns when you ask me what God looks like!
86. Going My Way.   Bing Crosby crooning at his best, a young priest sent to help a failing parish.   Barry Fitzgerald was younger than I am when he played the doddering old priest.   Sigh.
87. Bells of St. Mary's.   Obviously movies that affected me in my early years had a lot to do with religion, particularly catholics.  In this one Ingrid Bergman is a nun and Bing Crosby is a priest ... and no hanky panky takes place.
88. Paula.   Oh this may be the schockiest of them all.  Loretta Young plays a society matron who hits a young orphan (Tommy Rettig, who went on to be in all those early Lassie TV shows) with her car and causes injuries that prevent him from speaking (he also loses his memory).  The movie is about retribution and acceptance and is worth a few tissues.
89. Half Angel.   I don't really remember much about this movie (other than I remember loving it) about a woman (Loretta Young) who suffers from sleep walking.
90. Come to the Stable.   Another nun movie.  This one takes place at Christmas time and stars Loretta Young.  This link is not to a trailer, but to the first of seven parts, so you can see the entire movie in 7 chunks on YouTube.
91. The Apartment.   How C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) find his cajones and a girlfriend (Shirley Maclaine) to boot.
92. Slum Dog Millionaire.   A feel good movie about poverty in India...and an introduction to Bollywood dancing!
93. Shawshank Redemption. Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.
94. Toy Story.  I would be hard pressed to name which of the 3 Toy Stories I prefer.  The first one was wonderful because it was something new.  The 3rd one was wonderful because it brought the story full circle perfectly. The second one was just wonderful.
95. Hotel Rwanda.  I was appalled that I had known so little about what happened in Rwanda and angry that the United States did so little to help the people who were killed.
96. The Sixth Sense.   I wonder how many people, like me, have to see this movie for a second time, knowing how it all ends, trying to figure out where it all began.
97. Good Will Hunting.   Another non-comedic role for Robin Williams, and a first outing for Matt Damon and Ben Affleck...and we all know where that led!
98. The Horse's Mouth.  This quirky film stars Alec Guinness as Gulley Jimson, a vulgar but dedicated painter. The Lt. Kizhe Suite by Prokofiev features prominently.
99. Kind Hearts and Coronets.   A distant poor relative of the Duke of D'Ascoyne plots to inherit the title by murdering the eight other heirs who stand ahead of him in the line of succession.   Alec Guinness x8.  What could be better!
100. The Mouse that Roared.   An impoverished backward nation declares a war on the United States of America, hoping to lose so they can get financial assistance, but things don't go according to plan. I can never hear the phrase "Grand Duchy" without adding "Fenwick." Peter Sellers plays four different roles in this movie.

I probably could have gone for 200.  Aren't you glad I didn't?