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Friday, April 18, 2003

I've been looking for something to bring me out of this endless funk I've been in, and I finally found it in today's mail. Believe it or not, it wasn't a check from the sweepstakes I never entered, or an invitation to a party I wouldn't go to anyway, or even an award for posting a journal entry every day despite being in such a bad mood for so long.

It was, in fact, a DVD from Netflix. This thing that made me so happy was a comedy that made me cry. Buckets. There's no better sign that my better nature is being engaged again. Most of my emotions lately have been wasted on anger and self-pity, and it's good to feel something else for a change.

It was a movie called Mostly Martha. It's in German, with subtitles, and someone dies in the first fifteen minutes. The title character is an overbearing, arrogant chef who's obsessed with perfection in the kitchen and order in her life. She's unapproachable and isolated.

It doesn't sound very uplifting so far, does it?

Then unexpected events bring new people into her life. She gets a new downstairs neighbor, a new (and kind of nutty) sous-chef, and an eight-year-old niece with nowhere else to go. How these people find ways to connect and fit into each other's lives is the makings of a story with heart, and this movie does a great job of bringing that out.

It had me wishing it wouldn't end, and then afraid that it might end without the payoff scene I was waiting for. Not only did I get the payoff, but there was a little surprise coda that I loved. It's been a while since I've seen a movie that made me smile and weep, but didn't make me squirm. This one was a treat from start to finish.

Even though I was still reeling a bit from the effects of a week with high negative emotions, I could feel my spirits lift as I was watching Mostly Martha. I watched it a second time, and this time I liked Martha more, even in the early scenes where she's shown as rigid and demanding. (I'm not sure if that's a trait more common to Germans or to chefs.) I guess the better you know someone (even a fictional character), the more you make allowances for their quirks.

looking east

Cloud formations

I also watched Spirited Away tonight, and that was fun, too. It shows such imagination in its magical characters that it could have sprung straight from a child's dream world, instead of the amazing mind of a veteran Japanese filmmaker and animator.

It's as good as everyone has been telling me, and I no longer regret that Ice Age, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, or Lilo and Stitch didn't win the Oscar for best animated feature — although I still love Lilo and Stitch, and of all of these that's the one I'd most like to see again right now.

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Barry Bonds, who is not only the best player in baseball but at 38 one of the oldest, made a fabulous diving catch in left field at Dodger Stadium tonight. For his trouble he had a cup of beer tossed at him as he lay sprawled on the ground. The Giants got their revenge, though, beating the Dodgers for the fourth time in a row, 5-1.

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Making It Fit
"I have to call our onions 'apples,' because there's no box on the form that says 'onions.'"

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