Category Archives: Movies and TV

Right Here Where We Live

Image from page 82 of "Catalogue no. 16, spring/summer / R. H. Macy & Co." (1911)

Have you seen Meet Me in St. Louis? The story of a mother, a father, a grandfather, and four daughters, all of whom almost move from St. Louis to New York City, but do not actually leave their hometown?

It is a pretty weird movie, but I love it. Judy Garland. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Homemade ketchup. Magnificent millinery. The horrifying antics of Margaret O’Brien. It’s all there, people.

Mike and I often quote the final lines of the movie to one another, because that’s just the kind of wild and crazy pair that we are. Here’s what happens: The family has made it through another year–they’ve escaped the move to New York City, Judy Garland and Margaret Bremer have found love, the homemade ketchup has the right amount of sugar in it, and everyone emerges from the house wearing fabulous flowered and feathered hats. They’re off to the World’s Fair!

As the whole impressively-hatted bunch takes in the wonder of the fair, Margaret Bremer says rapturously, “We don’t have to come here on a train or stay in a hotel. It’s  right here in our own hometown!” And Judy Garland, eyes shining, says, “It’s right here where we live! Right here in St. Louis.

I totally get it. It’s wonderful when the amazing things in the great wide world come right to your hometown. Of course, the World’s Fair hasn’t come to Saint James (I mean, not yet). But other wonderful things do come, or are already here. And as fun as it is to head out of town to do something special, there’s something even sweeter about finding the fun right here where we live.

right here.jpg

The star of the historical show. Isn’t it pretty?

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Filed under All in the Family, Movies and TV, Thankful Hearts

Another Op’nin’, Another Show


Chorus girls, 192- / Sam Hood

These are not our costumes, but we do have some fabulous headgear.


Tonight’s the night! If you are in the Saint James area, come on over the the Saint James High School Little Theater for Mary Poppins. The show starts at 7 PM and you can buy your tickets at the door or by calling 507/375-4517. $10 for adults; $5 for children 12 and under; tonight, tomorrow, and Saturday. Don’t miss it!

Whether you’re able to make it this weekend or not, please do enjoy this video of the opening of Kiss Me Kate. It depicts our community theater rehearsal process perfectly. (Pro Tip: Of course it doesn’t. Enjoy it anyway.) Continue reading


Filed under Movies and TV, Music!

Never Had I Ever: Thomas the Tank Engine Edition

I don’t know how it happened.

I don’t even know how it started.

Was it the set of books from Uncle Paul? Was it something at day care? Was it just in the air somehow?

I don’t know how it happened, but our Leo is an absolute Thomas the Tank Engine devotee.


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Filed under Movies and TV, Never Had I Ever, Your Moment of Leo

Three Things That Are Better When You Don’t Know All the Words

“I’ve been to church in Norwegian!” my friend S reported. (We were having one of those wonderful conversations where this was not even a non sequitur.)

“I could only understand about 3/4 of the sermon. Which is, for this agnostic, liberal type, a relief.” (Pro Tip: She then assured me that if it were my sermon, she would hang on every word. Which is what everyone else does on Sunday mornings, I am sure.)

I laughed, but I knew what she meant. Some things are better when you can’t understand all the words. For example:

1. Keanu Reeves. Remember that guy? When I was in college, I watched Point Break with my host family in Mexico. They had such confidence in my Spanish ability that they put on the dubbed version. Fortuitously, this meant that we did not have to listen to Keanu’s actual voice. Once the limitation of his voice and his acting ability are out of the way–hey, it turns out the reason Keanu was a movie star is because he’s pretty cute. Continue reading

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Filed under Marvelous Miscellany, Movies and TV, Music!

Friday Fun: Marcel the Shell

Zoe and I had a Mankato matinee date yesterday. We saw Zootopia. It’s great! You should see it too if you haven’t already!

The best part–besides maybe the sloths–was the discovery at the end of the movie that Assistant Mayor Bellweather (a sheep) is played by Jenny Slate.

Image from page 30 of "Exotic conchology; or, Figures and descriptions of rare, beautiful, or undescribed shells, drawn on stone from the most select specimens .." (1821)

This delights me. Because, of course, Jenny Slate is also the voice of Marcel the Shell, who is my most favorite shell in all the land. (Pro Tip: “Only favorite” would also be accurate.) Continue reading

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Filed under Marvelous Miscellany, Movies and TV

Seize the (Labor) Day

Picknickkoffer / Picnic hamper

Happy Labor Day!

If you are lucky, you’re celebrating Labor Day on a lake or a boat or a hammock somewhere.  You’re firing up the grill or packing up the picnic basket.  You’re carrying a watermelon to your in-laws and hoping your three-year-old will take a really long afternoon nap.  (Pro Tip: That last one is me.)

If you are less lucky, you’re laboring on Labor Day.  If that’s the case–or if you’ve fired up the computer before hitting the lake or the backyard–please enjoy these labor-themed folk songs.  At my house, we sing them every Thanksgiving, sliding seamlessly from Christmas carols to Union Maid.  (And if that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.)

Local 12103 on strike

First up: Pete Seeger singing Union Maid to a Very Reserved bunch of Australians in 1963.  I forgot about the last verse of this one.  It’s a little . . . retro.  But classics are like that, aren’t they?  Anyway: hit it, Mr. Seeger:

Next, Utah Philips singing the great Joe Hill song “There is Power in the Union”:

Finally, something light and not, technically, a folk song: Newsies.  Because how else are twelve-year-old girls going to get their consciousness raised?  YouTube let me down a little, so this is not the 1992 movie version but the 2012 Broadway version.  Which, I will admit, is still pretty great.  Let us seize the day:

What are you doing or not doing this Labor Day?  


Filed under Movies and TV, Music!

Friday Fun!

You have to watch this video.

It is Nick Offerman from Parks and Recreation reading the Tweets of young female celebrities, and it is hilarious.  (For some reason, the “embed” link was not working, but trust me when I tell you it is worth a click.)

Even if none of that sentence makes sense to you, give this video a try.  Nick Offerman is so funny, and these Tweets are so silly.

Of course, they’re not significantly sillier than the Tweets and Facebook status updates many of us post every day.  But they are read by thousands of people.  And when they are read aloud in a deadpan voice by a manly man working with power tools . . . comedy gold, my friends.  Comedy gold.

Watch, laugh, check out the other videos in the series, and reflect on the silliness of your online communication.

And then, if you’re up for it, go make something out of wood.

Drill press operator, Allegheny Ludlum Steel[e] Corp., Brackenridge, Pa. (LOC)

What’s making you laugh on the Internet today?


Filed under Movies and TV

Iced Coffee, Automatic Doors, and You

Girl worker at lunch also absorbing California sunshine, Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, Calif. (LOC)

One of the perks of not having cable or even regular TV is that when I do get a chance to watch it, I am actually interested in watching the commercials.  New programming is new programming, right?

So, International Delight had my full attention yesterday evening when they offered up a long, involved commercial for their exciting new iced coffee (available in the dairy aisle).  It featured a work-at-home mom telling us all about her life, in way more detail than seemed strictly necessary for a coffee commercial.  Toward the end, she pours a few glasses of iced coffee and serves them to her visiting friend.  They enjoy a lively conversation about remodeling while the announcer says, “Iced coffee.  It’s better at home.”

And then, to drive this point home (pun not intended, for a change), International Delight added this baffling cautionary tale:

Maybe it’s because I don’t see a lot of commercials, but this one left me gaping.

I don’t know whether or not iced coffee is better at home (I will drink it here or there; I will drink it anywhere).

But if it is, it’s because it’s more relaxing, convenient, and cheaper, right?

Not because the automatic doors at the “coffee house” might slam in your face, sending your iced coffee flying and taking your dignity with it.  I mean, we don’t have a lot of these coffee houses in Litchfield, but I’m pretty confident that this is not a thing that happens.

And thank the good Lord it does not, my friends, because in order to enjoy your iced coffee at home, you’re going to have to go through those perilous automatic doors at the supermarket to retrieve it from the dairy aisle.  Be careful out there, folks.  The world is more dangerous than we thought.

What other silly commercials should I be looking for on YouTube?

Koffiedrinken in de woestijn / Drinking coffee in the desert


Filed under Marvelous Miscellany, Movies and TV

Why I Can’t Stop Watching Drop Dead Diva

Isn’t Netflix Instant amazing?

It gives Zoe a constant supply of all her favorite shows and introduces her to new ones.

It lets me travel down memory lane, revisiting shows I loved ten years ago (looking at you, Sports Night).

It offers an impressive array of BBC dramas based on classic novels, as well as enough episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine to last me and Mike for months (possibly years) to come.

And it made it possible for me to fall in love with Drop Dead Diva.

I had always wondered about this show–I’d seen an episode or two in hotel rooms or other places with cable–and after I finished reliving the glory days of Aaron Sorkin (seriously, Sports Night is a joy), I needed another one to watch without Mike.  (Every happily married couple has some separate interests, right?)

Enter Drop Dead Diva.  It’s a fascinating mash-up of Ally McBeal and Touched by an Angel.  Lawyer Jane and model Deb die at the same moment, and Deb gets sent back to earth into Jane’s body.  She has Deb’s memories and personality but Jane’s intelligence and lawyer skills (which is totally how this would work, I think).  She also has her guardian angel Fred and Deb’s BFF Stacy, model / actress and “secret genius”.  Oh yeah, and Deb’s perfect boyfriend Grayson just started working at Jane’s firm, but Jane can’t tell him she’s Deb because The Universe Forbids It.

If you’re rolling your eyes, I don’t blame you.  This show is silly.  Very silly.  It is a Lifetime original series, for heaven’s sake (pun absolutely intended).  What can I say?  The show definitely does not take itself too seriously, but it takes the emotions and struggles of its characters seriously.  And I can’t help taking them seriously, too.

Plus, sometimes Paula Abdul is a guest star.  And yes, there is singing and dancing.  Also: Margaret Cho as Jane’s sassy assistant.  Come on, people.  What further incentive do you need?

TV stoffen met plumeau / Dusting the television with a feather-brush

What’s your guilty TV-viewing pleasure?


Filed under Movies and TV