RiverRun International Film Festival 2014

This was our first year to attend the RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem and we had a blast.  We found an AirBnB apartment that is walking distance to 2 of the venues and each of us took a day off from work.  We started with a 2:00 show on Thursday and finished at 8:30 on Saturday.

Nightingale This didn’t have any unexpected plot twists, but it is sweet and we got to see some of China from a different angle.  We both liked it a lot.

Breathe In Not any surprises in this one either.  I did keep hoping one of them would have better sense.

Summer of the Flying Fish We thought this was muddled.

Expedition to the End of the World Gorgeous.  Magnificent.  Funny.  Breathtaking.

My Sister’s Quinceñera is similar in flavor to Ramin Bahrani’s films.  It is a perfect look at what keeps people with bigger dreams in a small town.  The family is Mexican-American, but the story is more universal than that.

Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory  This will make you cry, in a good way.  And buy iPod Shuffles for your old people.

Ida  This is about choosing your life.  It is truly excellent.  I didn’t always know where it was going.

We didn’t see any shorts.  That may be different next year because we are both fans of the form.  Walking to a/perture was handy, but parking was easy at SECCA and UNC-SA.  UNC-SA had us parking at the YWCA across the street and ran a 2 bus shuttle service.  We didn’t see any thing at the Hanes Theater venue and it was the closest to where we were staying.


I told Miyazaki I love the “gratuitous motion” in his films; instead of every movement being dictated by the story, sometimes people will just sit for a moment, or they will sigh, or look in a running stream, or do something extra, not to advance the story but only to give the sense of time and place and who they are.

“We have a word for that in Japanese,” he said. “It’s called ma. Emptiness. It’s there intentionally.”

Is that like the “pillow words” that separate phrases in Japanese poetry?

“I don’t think it’s like the pillow word.” He clapped his hands three or four times. “The time in between my clapping is ma. If you just have non-stop action with no breathing space at all, it’s just busyness. But if you take a moment, then the tension building in the film can grow into a wider dimension. If you just have constant tension at 80 degrees all the time you just get numb.

— Rogert Ebert, on Hayao Miyazaki

Indiana Roadtrip

I spent the end of last week driving to Nashville, Indiana to visit friends.  I met Patti at her sister’s house in Forest, Virginia and left my car there.

We took Patti’s car through the coal fields of southern Virginia and Kentucky, finally getting a hotel room in Campton, KY when the snow got so bad we gave up on making it to Lexington that night. The only place to get dinner was a Mexican joint that had a Mexican man cooking and an Anglo girl waiting tables and no other customers.  The waitress all but begged us to come back the next day.  She had come to Campton to be near her mother, she didn’t say why, and, in her words, no one does anything there except drugs.

We got coffee breakfast at the Kentucky Coffeetree Cafe in Frankfort.  It is in the funky part of the city with lots of interesting shops nearby.

Dinner Thursday night was at Jan’s house.  She made a lovely marinara spaghetti with meatballs on the side.  Ken chose a very nice Italian wine to go with it.DSC01534 DSC01543

Friday night, I made Crab bisque for dinner and Ken chose a Washington state chardonnay as accompaniment.  It was only mildly oaked so it worked well.

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On Saturday, we went out for dinner in a bar that is trying to become a restaurant.  The choices around the table were varied and Ken chose a very smooth Malbec.  Trying to be quick, my photo is a little blurred.


I would have any of these again.

We took a northern route home on Sunday, stopping at Jungle Jim’s International Market to pick up snacks for supper in our hotel and generally entertain ourselves wandering around the Ikea of food stores.  I got my son a bottle of Scotch bonnet hot sauce, picked up a Star Trek: The Next Generation Pez dispensers for a coworker and got a bottle of Plungerhead old vine Zinfandel from Lodi, California for myself.  Happily for me, they have it at Total Wine.

It was a fun trip.  I loved seeing unfamiliar landscape, prowling around Nashville, walking in Jan’s woods and visiting with my friends face to face rather than via the internet.  Traveling with Patti was delightful.  We looked for peculiar church names and looked up places worth noticing on my Roadside America app.  But, I am very glad to be home, out of the car and sleeping in my own bed next to my sweetie.

Yard changes

This was the end of my driveway last summer.  Those are two  Bradford pear trees with a little fruiting pear tree that I planted in between them.


Bradford pear trees grow quickly and are often used here by developers to replace what they have removed while building. But, they’re brittle, so they lose limbs easily in bad weather, and the flowers stink in the Spring. Fruit trees that don’t bear fruit make no sense to me, either.

I have planted real fruit in between the Bradfords that run down the property line between my yard and my neighbors on the left. Now, the fruiting pear tree will get more sun.

An odd thing about my Bradfords, too, is that they must have all been planted at the same time, but they get progressively small as they get further from the road.


Last Friday, we had a massive ice storm that knocked out the power all over our part of the state.  Pine trees and other evergreens, including our neighbors cedar tree,  magnolias and Bradford pears were snapping branches left and right.  The Bradford at the end of the row, by the street, broke three time and finally gave it up.


Tree and limb guys are all over the place, making money hand over fist.

Three trucks of workers were next door,yesterday, cleaning up the neighbors’ yard. Then, they went down the street to do another yard. Before they got out of the neighborhood, Chuck caught them and they dumped ALL the wood chips they already had in the truck in our back yard, where we needed it so desperately to renew the labyrinth.


Then, they went to work on our mess.


In less than an hour, they finished. and we have another load of wood chips.


The entrance to the house looks empty, now.


And the mulch pile is impressive.


Nevermore 2014

Ch-ch-ch-changes!  I was tripped up this year by my job.  Last Spring, I changed to a 30/week shift that has me working 2 12-hour shifts on the weekend and one 6 hour shift on Tuesday.  I get paid for 40 hours and have enough paid leave that I can usually be off if I have something to do on a weekend.

Unless a co-worker beats me to it.  And one did.

BUT, the Universe conspired to allow me to see independent horror films in spite of that.  For the first time ever, they are running most of the films in one of the 3 available theaters during the weekdays before they take over the entire building.

So, on Tuesday we saw The Human Race, The Returned, and Open Grave.

The Human Race was the least impressive of these 3.  Christopher and I both thought it should have stopped when the last guy stepped onto the grass, even though the final bit had some great special effects.

The Returned is  a love story with incidental zombies.  There are actually very few zombies seen in it, which annoyed some people who left early.  (They complained about that to Melissa, the ticket taker, who told us about it later.  We compared notes with her all week.)

We liked it.  In our discussion afterward, we all were of the opinion that asking your loved one to kill you, if you are contaminated with zombie cooties,  isn’t fair to them.  You should do it yourself and spare them that.

I really liked Open Grave. It had some classic horror cliches, but they weren’t heavy handed.  For instance, the blonde does trip when running from zombies in the woods.  BUT, she trips over a stick, not her own feet,  and that whole scene explains the bodies tied to trees all over the place.  And that makes sense in the context of the rest of the story.  As a matter of fact, when you know the whole story, with the exception of the military action toward the end, it all makes sense in that “reality.”

On Wednesday, my son and I saw The Last Days. The plot line on this one didn’t have any huge surprises, but it was well made.  There is bit where the main characters talk about where the planetwide agoraphobia came from, but it is never actually explained and that’s fine.  You don’t need to know.

On Thursday, Carolyn and I saw Grand Piano.  It was good but there was far too much leaving the stage in the middle of a performance.

And on Friday, Christopher and I saw Revolution of the Foreign Invaders, a collection of shorts, before Carolyn joined us for The Visitant,  a decent ghost story that didn’t have the ending I anticipated.

Christopher saw The Shower afterward, catching a ride home with a friend.  I don’t care for slasher films, so I skipped this one.  My son thought it was the best thing he saw.

These are the shorts in Revolution of the Foreign Invaders:

Would you like to die the same way as your favorite movie star? Would you like to imitate the death of some memorable movie scene? Euthanas Inc. is for those who want to put a legitimately spectacular end to their lives. (I voted for this one as my favorite.  The description isn’t very accurate.  In a world where euthanasia is an acceptable choice (think Vonnegeut’s Ethical Suicide Parlors) an old woman has become inconvenient to her family.  She’s not ready to go.)

Joseph Wood is an astronaut set to go where no man has ever gone before in the Universe in Hibernation. (Thought this was awful. Trying to be 2001 and not succeeding.)

Marta returns to her mom’s house to spend some days with her little sister in Madrid in Don’t Look Here.  (Ending was very weak.)

Maid of Horror is the blood-soaked story of Emma, an overlooked Maid of Honor, who would kill to get her fairytale ending.  (I don’t even remember this one.)

Driving through New York City for Christmas Eve dinner, Steve’s car breaks down and he accidentally stumbles upon a crime scene. Mistaken for the notorious cleaner, Mr. Bear, Steve has to face a difficult choice: dismember and get rid of some bodies or become a corpse himself. (This was hilarious.  Nearly got my vote.  It did win the Audience Choice award.)

Have you ever shared a dream with someone else? A young man’s world changes when the love of his life she comes in to the real world to rescue him in REM.  (This one was trying to be Inception and wasn’t.)

A simple iPhone enables people to look into another dimension where murder and mayhem are commonplace and the evildoers may be themselves in Nexo.  (This was jumbled and didn’t work for me.)

A young man jumps off a roof and inadvertently cheats death in The Revenant.  (The story was entertaining.  Special effects are, clearly, a new thing for the filmmakers.)

Tempranillo blanco (etc.)

Last night was date night and we went to the movies.  The Carolina Theater in Durham is showing collections of the shorts that have been nominated for Oscars and we saw the nominees for Best Animated and Best Live Action Shorts.  We would like to see the nominees for Documentary but they are so long that they are in 2 segments on separate days and we don’t care see them that badly.

However, we did enjoy dinner at Taberna Tapas for dinner, The Parlour for dessert and Beyù Caffè for coffee before we settled into our seats.

Because it was Wednesday, bottles of wine were half price at Taberna.  How can you say “no” to that?  So we got a bottle of Vivanco Rioja White Blend.

We have had tempranillo blends and we have had 100% tempranillo so that we know what it contributes to a blend. This was the first time we had ever seen tempranillo blanco and we were intrigued.

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We have had Malvasia in blends, too, but Viura was an unfamiliar name and we find that we like it.  This is a good medium bodied white.  It has more substance than the Pinots but isn’t as heavy a Chardonnay.  Similar to a Sauvignon blanc.  Nice with seafood and the less heavy things we tend to eat.

Coming home in the evening

St. Mary's Road

See that little bit of pink?  That’s the end of a color extravaganza that happened Wednesday as the sun went down.  The light moved so fast, I didn’t have time to get my camera out to capture it.

It started with a blaring crash of hot pink and dusky purples that felt like a cymbal symphony to my eyes.  Then trees loomed up and muted the whole thing.  When I came around the curve and the sky opened back up, I found the violins and flutes of pale pink barely whispering across the grey kettle drums of clouds.  One more curve and this.

Photographs never show the sky as magnificently as my eyes see it.