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Saturday, February 17, 2001

Maybe the Friday before a three-day weekend wasn't the best time to try to run some errands. I had a check to cash for Mom and some grocery shopping that she's not up to doing for herself yet. (She knew that the bubble in her eye wouldn't dissolve right away, but it's still a major nuisance.) So I "volunteered" to drop by the store for her on my way to the post office yesterday morning.

The line at the in-store bank was so long that I didn't even consider standing in it. I grabbed a cart and started looking for the items on Mom's list. She'd gone over it with me just a little while before, so it should have been easy. I had a few things of my own to get, but at least I knew where to find those.

When you're shopping from someone else's list, everything seems to be in the wrong place. Mom was quite specific about the kind of bread she wanted. I knew what not to get — the round loaf. But there wasn't any such thing as "sour pillow sliced," so I had to make a decision. I hope "Santa Cruz sourdough" works for her. At least it's sliced, and not round.

Back and forth, from the food section to the drug section. Paper plates here, pickle relish there. Oops, forgot the sour cream while I was in the dairy section. What kind of cranberry juice? Close eyes. Point. That kind.

One item left: French's French Fried Onions Taste Toppers. Hmmmm. Not in the salad dressing section with the croutons. Not with the spices or the crackers. Up every aisle, and back the other direction, just in case. I wonder how many times I've passed it. Do I really have to ask a clerk? Yes.

Next to the canned vegetables. Of course. And I'd passed it at least three times (which is pathetic; no one should wander aimlessly for that long without seeking assistance).

As I was on my way to the checkout counter, I heard an announcement over the public address system: "All employees who are not helping customers please come to the back room." Whatever. That left just three counters open, all stacked up with loaded carts ahead of me. I get in one line, then switch to a shorter one. Obviously, I should have stayed in the first one. That's a given.

I used up over an hour of company time for one, two three sixteen items. And I still had to go to the post office. But I had most of the afternoon to pick up the pieces and get back some momentum. All I needed was to focus. Plenty of work to do, plenty of time left.


Gladiator nearly seems like a coherent movie, if you see it three times in one day. I took advantage of my satellite provider's All Day Ticket to rent the best picture nominee at 3:00, planning to watch it at 6:00 or 9:00. But once I turned it on I found it hard to look away. Even the Battle of Carthage scene can almost make sense the third time through.

I can't say I think Russell Crowe should win best actor, though. I liked him much better in both The Insider and Mystery, Alaska. I can name at least two other movies that weren't nominated that I thought were better — You Can Count On Me, and O Brother, Where Art Thou? And I didn't see all that many movies last year.

Wait, here are two more. High Fidelity. Frequency. I should have my own awards show. (Were those both released last year? I think so.)

If you're thinking I probably didn't get much work done yesterday, well, you're right. And all for this big, bloated mess of a movie, which I never did watch straight through, beginning to end. Maybe that's why it seemed so disjointed.

When you don't see the sun all day, you don't get much of a sunset.

gray sunset

But there's still a kind of majestic beauty in the cloudy late afternoon sky.

Chicken Run. Better than Gladiator, and about half as long. (And where's the nomination for that screenplay already?)

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So come the storms of winter
And the the birds in spring again
I have no fear of time