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January 15, 2000

Two movies in two days, and I don't think either of them is one that anyone in my small circle of friends and family would like. I don't recommend movies because my tastes run to the eccentric, unconventional films. Some would say "peculiar." Some have said "weird." (Or "boring," I hate that.) So I go to those alone.

Today it was Being John Malkovich, which has been out for months but for various reasons I didn't get around to seeing. Now it's playing at the Rialto, the one theater in town that specializes in movies I have to see by myself, so I went to the $4.50 matinee.

It might be that I have no taste at all, but I prefer to think that my tastes are so broad that they encompass all genres, and almost all examples of each one. Whatever my expectations, I tend to like everything. But I couldn't write a review of Being John Malkovich not because I enjoyed it, but because I can't describe it. It's the very essence of "weird," so oddly imagined that you are constantly being asked to accept alternate versions of reality, and just when you think you have a grasp on what's going on, another portal opens and you get a different vision of the world.

John Cusack is hilarious as the puppeteer/file clerk who discovers how to "be" Malkovich, and Cameron Diaz is, well, unrecognizable as his quirky animal-loving wife. Catherine Keener would have stolen the film as the love object of at least three other characters, if not for the tour de force performance of Malkovich himself. The supporting characters are wonderful, especially Orson Bean and Mary Kay Place, along with Charlie Sheen as a subtly overstated version of his tabloid persona.

This movie made me laugh a lot, and I wasn't alone. Even the inside show biz jokes were picked up by the savvy crowd. It's the kind of movie audience I haven't been a part of since I was in college, many years ago.

And you know what was really cool about the movie? Watching all those tall actors have to scrunch over on the 7 1/2th floor. And seeing bodies dropping by the side of the New Jersey Turnpike got a big laugh every time. Every time.

I learn something every time I try to cook. Today I learned that you can't mince garlic with a paring knife. Or at least, I can't. Apparently what I need is either a chef's knife or a garlic press (I might even have one, if I knew what they looked like.) I'm the rawest of newbies at this cooking thing, in case you couldn't tell, but I get a little better with each experiment. And I eat everything I cook, good or bad, so I have the requisite incentive. This time it was good.

It was baked garlic and parsley chicken. I got it out of a beginner's cookbook. I'm not sure the aroma of garlic will ever be completely erased from my house. I guess I learned something else, although "too much garlic" is a foreign phrase to me. At least I won't have to worry about a visit from Spike tonight.

Publishing my football predictions may have put some pressure on me to be right, but the game in Jacksonville got the tension over early today. I still say the Jaguars overrated, though. They still haven't beaten a good team all season. I gave up on this game when it was 55-7. What was the final score? Oh.

Hey, I got the other one right.

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