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Thursday, January 29, 2004

Netflix has a weird sense of humor sometimes. When I go to the "Browse" page, they give me a list of DVDs they recommend, based on my recent rentals and ratings. Today the movies they want me to see are, in order from the top: The Wizard of Oz, Toy Story, Sleeping Beauty, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, and Fight Club.

I'm not sure how they can recommend anything, since the last few DVDs I've rated have been lowly one- or two-star movies in my opinion. I think the last one I gave four stars to was The Last Metro, when I was having my Truffaut festival in December.

I didn't get any homework done last night, but I went through this week's assignment today in about twenty minutes. I'll look it over several more times between now and Tuesday's class.

But I peeked ahead at the rest of this chapter, and it's a little intimidating. I think we're suddenly supposed to be carrying on extended sign language conversations, when I'm still struggling with the difference between "6" and "9". (I have "7" and "8" down pat.)

Actually, I understand pretty quickly now when someone else signs those numbers, but when I'm trying to sign them myself I have to stop and think. And count. Six-seven-eight. Must be that finger.

Since I noticed that the government allows me an extra ten days to file one of my tax forms, I of course put that one aside for, oh, about ten more days. Maybe my new typewriter ribbon will arrive before then. I borrowed a typewriter from Suzanne to get my emergency W-2 repairs done today, and it was fine, although I had problems getting the print tucked into the little boxes. It took me a few practice tries, but there's nothing unusual about that.

I have just one thing left to do tomorrow morning before I go to the post office. I have to finish filling out a business license form for one of the cities where we have ongoing work. (If I call it Mudville, minor league baseball fans will know what city I mean.) For some reason, this medium-sized municipal government asks more questions (some very personal ones, too) than the state and federal governments do.

Tonight I worked until I literally couldn't see the page any more. That's the only reason I left it until morning to finish the Mudville business license.

If I hadn't had a phone call from an old friend in the middle of the afternoon, I might have made it to the end of my to-do list today. The January section of it, anyway. But I'll tell you what. That call made all the difference in my mood, and I told him so.

He's a former co-worker who phones me once or twice a year, and it totally cheered me up to hear his voice today. We talked mostly about old times, and a little about politics and the Super Bowl. One of his best qualities is that he always laughs at my jokes, even when I don't know I've said anything funny until after I hear him laugh.

17 January 2004


If I really needed someone to blame (other than the obvious) for yesterday's fiasco, I'd go with the State of California. They require a year-end "reconciliation statement" for unemployment and payroll taxes I've paid. Obviously, they should ask me to reconcile my payroll records at least once a month, if they expect me to have my books in balance. Otherwise this could happen every year (unless I do my own internal reconciliation once a month; I'm glad I thought of that).

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I've now seen one more Oscar-nominated movie (this makes four). Thirteen is a deeply disturbing, furiously intense story that has almost nothing in common with any other film about young teenage girls. It's a parent's nightmare made to feel real because it lacks any tinge of sentimental shading. You want to hope it can't really be this bad, but you know it can be. This is the kind of a movie the decency monitors don't want us to see, because it strips the romance out of growing up and lays bare the essence of a difficult mother-daughter relationship. And it features a feverish, spellbinding performance by the amazing Evan Rachel Wood.

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: New Evidence
"No, I've never actually tried to hit a peacock. I've been tempted, though."

Two years ago: Sheltered
"I didn't agree with some of the specifics, but when he spoke in uplifting generalities he was as inspiring as he's capable of being."

Three years ago: Sunday Supplement
"The sixteen Americans 'abandoned' in the Australian outback didn't really engage my interest, but maybe I was expecting another Gervase or Rudy."

Four years ago: Movie, Interrupted
"Is it just me, or is every movie-going experience these days a test of patience and an exercise in self-control?"

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Here's something that you never gonna forget,
B-B-B-Baby, you just ain't seen nothin' yet.