Great Expectations

or “My Life in Blog Sounds Much Cooler Than It Really Is”

Archive for March, 2008

No Country for Anyone, Really…

Posted by mandyhuckins on March 24, 2008

Last week, someone in Colin’s office rented No Country for Old Men and then kindly allowed us to watch it before it needed to be returned.  What a terrible movie!  What kind of world do we live in where this wins the Academy Award for Best Picture?   I will admit that the actors did a remarkable job (I am especially partial to Tommy Lee Jones), which is all well and good, but can someone please explain the point of this picture to me?  Usually, I am a pretty avid movie watcher, but I have to admit that I have not yet seen the other films nominated in the Best Picture category.  However, I am willing to go out on a limb and say that I would have voted for any of the others over this one.  Here are the things I hated about it the most:

1.) The ending.  If you haven’t seen it, and you plan to [although, of course, I don’t recommend it], stop reading right here.  In some instances, I am all for an ambiguous ending.  It is entirely appropriate to leave things hanging when everyone knows the story is to be continued in a sequel (Lord of the RingsStar Wars, or Harry Potter, for example) or when it is more fun for the viewer to use his or her own imagination to finish out the story.  Do the lovers reconnected at the end of the movie live happily ever after?  If you are a romantic, yes.  If you are a realist, maybe not.  Fine.  But, this movie didn’t end, it just stopped.  I don’t like that.  I suffered all the way through it for a conversation between and old man and his wife at the breakfast table?  What happened to the bad guy?!?!

 2.) Lack of character development.  Ok, ok, I admit that a dark, serial-killing, cat-and-mouse chase over money kind of movie doesn’t lend itself to much character development, but who is this killer?  What is up with the air/bolt gun? What is his motivation for taking his weird weapon into the world and killing everyone with it?  I felt like we needed to know a bit more about him to buy him in this weird role.  Llewelyn’s character is slightly more fleshed out – his prior history in the military, the fact that he is married and has a shrew of a mother-in-law – and that makes us care about him until…

3.) Llewelyn is killed.  I admit that it is an interesting twist that the good guy, or not good exactly, but the one we are rooting for, doesn’t win.  That is not what bothers me.  The problem is that it just happens and we don’t even get to see how it happens.  After all of the chasing and shooting of each other, the viewer isn’t included in the final show down?  Now, don’t get me wrong, normally, I would be all for subtlety and an avoidance of an overt show of blood and violence, but in this movie?  Come on.

Ultimately, I just did not find any real redeeming qualities in this movie.  It was interesting in its way and I can see how it might appeal to the blood and gore loving crowd, but in my humble opinion, Best Picture quality it certainly is not.

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Posted in Watching | Tagged: , , | 8 Comments »

Top Ten List – “What I Love About France”

Posted by mandyhuckins on March 17, 2008

10.)  The language.  French is so beautiful, and yet so impossible for me to pronounce.  Case in point: Once, in Paris, I was trying to find a street on the map.  I asked a very nice looking lady working behind the front desk of our hotel, “Can you tell me how to find ROO DE LA BOO-SHARE-REE?”  She cocked her head to the side and said, “Well,  I have never heard of it, but let me check our map.”  She pulls a telephone-book sized map book from behind the counter and proceeds to flip through the pages.  “Hmmm.  I don’t see it.”  So, I start spelling it for her – B-U-C-H-E-R-I-E .  “Oh!” she exclaims with a chuckle, “Oui, I know where that is.  But, you see, I couldn’t understand what you were saying.  You said ‘Roo de la Boo-cher-ree’ and we say ‘RoodelaBoocherie’.”  Oh, yes, what a difference!  I can see why you had NO idea what I was trying to say.  Plus, the address happened to be for a famous, English bookshop in Paris about two blocks from where we were!  I hope none of you speak French. 

9.) The Eiffel Tower.  The Parisians hate it, but I can’t help it.  It just seems so – French.  Plus, it is so pretty when is sparkles.  What can I say?  I am a tourist.

8.) Veuve Cliquot.  I loved this French champagne before I ever put a toe on French soil.  But, it is still delicious, and I still love it.

7.) The Louvre.  Truly – the most amazing art museum in the world.

6.) The Strasbourg Christmas Market.  Ordinarily, Germany takes the cake at Christmas, but this French city gives Germany a run for its money.  They have several different market areas with everything decorated to the maximum.  Tasty treats, delicious warm drinks, fun decorations to purchase – what could be better? 

5.)  Galleries Lafayette.  This is the major French department store.  Poor Colin.  But, then again, they do usually have a champagne bar and French cafeteria in the basement level.  That can usually keep him entertained for an hour while I run around getting frustrated by French sizes.  What is up with the 1, 2, 3? 

4.) Baguettes.  I have always loved “French bread” and my friend Becky will tell you that in college, I would buy a loaf and I wouldn’t even be out of the store before I was tearing off a hunk and eating it.  (What was I thinking?) But, now that I know that the French are the absolute, undisputed gold medal winners in the bread making Olympics, I have to fight that urge again when I leave the French grocery store with my – sigh – still warm, buttery-crusty-perfection on the outside, soft and delicious on the inside, arm-length piece of deliciousness they call a baguette.  I really would (and do) drive 45 minutes each way just to cross the French border to get one.  Or two.  The only problem with them is that they do not last, so they can’t be saved for the next day.

3.) Sea-Salt butter from Normandy.  I can remember a time when someone would offer me some butter with my bread and I would….REFUSE!  Those days are over.  In fact, this butter is so delicious that I could almost pull it out of the fridge and take a bite out of it.  Almost.  But, it does make anything else in the world taste more delicious than that thing tastes by itself. 

2.) Spreading number 3 on number 4 and adding French ham.  I am normally not huge on sandwiches, but this one – so simple and yet – tres magnifique!

1.) This view – need I say more?

French Riviera

Posted in Traveling | 5 Comments »

Why do you say “Winnie the Pooh?”

Posted by mandyhuckins on March 17, 2008

Here is what I really love about living overseas – sometimes people ask you a question like the above.  How might something like this come about?  One evening, Colin and I were sitting at a cool restaurant (they have a lounge area with leather chairs where you can relax and either drink raspberry margaritas [me] or smoke cigars [Colin]) talking with some German friends of ours.  As late night conversations sometimes go, someone used the word “puke” in a sentence, as in, “if I eat one more bite, I might puke,” and one of our German friends asked, “puke, what does this mean, puke?”  So, we explained it, using some hand motions and body language (surprising that someone from the restaurant didn’t kindly ask us to leave, but fortunately they didn’t).  When Colin and I explained that “puke” is a slang word for a bodily function, we were asked to recite other slang words in the English language for bodily functions (I guess the Germans we know are really trying to impress their friends with their mastery of English; they do, after all, have PhDs in esoteric scientific subjects that I will never really understand).  This is the topic of conversation that Colin has been training for his whole life – I was wondering how I was going to be able to get him to stop after he really got warmed up.  Luckily, it never got that far…we all got tickled as they tried to practice the difference between “puke,” “pee,” “poop,” and “poo.”  Amidst the laughter and our sweet friends practicing using these words in the correct context with the correct pronunciation, one of them, in a moment of seriousness, turned to me and asked “well, then, why do you say “Winnie the Pooh?”  I don’t know.  Do you?

Posted in Living | 2 Comments »

Lake Como, Italy

Posted by mandyhuckins on March 13, 2008

Lake ComoLake Como

Well, yes, living in Europe does have its advantages, such as popping down to Italy for a long weekend.  Lake Como entered American consciousness by being featured in several films.  Also, George Clooney owns a villa there (unfortunately, he was not in residence during our visit, otherwise, I am sure he would have invited us over to dinner.)  This is usually a summer tourist destination, and it is probably even more beautiful during the warmer months, but there is something to be said for avoiding the crowds.  Plus, our favorite reasons for visiting Italy are food and drink – things which know no season.  We wandered through the lakeside towns of Como and Bellagio and spent a day in Milan.  The water in the Lake is surprising crystal clear and (unsurprisingly) very cold.  Colin rolled up his pant legs and waded in – “we can’t come all this way and not get in the Lake!”  He sure did come out quickly though!  All in all, it was a lovely and relaxing three day holiday.

Posted in Traveling | 2 Comments »

I am WAY behind the times!

Posted by mandyhuckins on March 11, 2008

Due to the inspiring examples set by my friends Becky and Lori, I am boldly entering where… many… have gone before: the blogosphere!  Those of you who know me well might be thinking, “but, Mandy, you always start projects (e.g., a cross-stitch or a diary) with excellent intentions, but you never finish!”  Well, thank you for your vote of confidence!  But, I am hoping that by making this project public, you all, my friends and family, will keep me motivated by bugging me about the fact that I haven’t posted something current in a week.  And, while we are on the topic, I do intend to post something once a week.  So, here’s to me!  Whew.  I better pour myself a glass of wine.

Posted in Living | 3 Comments »