Monday, August 29, 2005

Roman review...

Well, it was an interesting introduction... I think it would have made more sense at the end if they had aired a two-hour premiere, instead of just the first hour though because it ended on a kind of "quoi?" note.

They've done very well with the sets and costumes that I've seen so far. I know that the costume designers said that they were being careful to use only period materials, but I'm not sure that they had double-weave silk in the 1st century BCE. Silk, yes, but double-weave? I just don't know. I've heard that they did have that in Europe by the mid-1500s, but I don't know about the Roman period. At least there's no gold lame! And the city really does look more like Calcutta than the Rome of movies like "Cleopatra" and "Gladiator." It's dirty and colorful and dare I say, exotically beautiful. (Paradoxes, I love them!) The language is also very interesting... "Impudent whelp" instead of "S.O.B." and the like... Excellent job there. There were a lot of other interesting idioms that I thought at least sounded very authentic... Things that modern people probably would find awkward in everyday conversation. I'll have to watch it again to come up with specific examples. I liked the lack of explanation... There was a feeling that everything that was going on with the characters was very everyday for them, so why would they need to explain anything? I love it when movies do that.

I also liked the vulgar pagan superstitious nature everyone casually possesses... and yet there's a touch of... what would it be called... Cynicism about it, very like Romans are reputed to have had. Like when Atia goes through this elaborate ritual involving the sacrifice of a black bull. She gets completely covered in blood, and she just turns around and looks expectantly (as if to say, tiredly, "Is that enough? Are they appeased?") at the priest when it's all over, and he tells her that now Octavian will be protected while he's traveling to Gaul. Or when Pullo is desperately praying to every god he can think of in front of a makeshift alter he scrambled together to get himself out of prison, and he says something like, "...If you are the right god to address this to and you get me out of here, I'll sacrifice a white goat to you... Or, if I can't get one that's good enough... or at the right price... at least six pidgeons!..." Great! The man's going to die in the arena if he's not pardoned and he's basically got his fingers crossed behind his back while making promises to the gods for their help. (Incidentally, he is released right after he finishes that little speech.)

The contrast between the common Roman citizen and the nobility is also striking. From what I understand, this is to be expected since this is the end of the Republic and corruption was rampant at the time. There is Octavian, though a child, casually threatens and slap slaves around for every minor "mistake" they make, and Atia, who throws her money and power around like it's dirt to gain even more, blatantly using her own children as pawns. Then there is Vorenus, who though a soldier is not of the nobility and is surprisingly conservative in his behavior, and is appalled by the very idea of being disloyal to his wife, Niobe, eventhough he hasn't seen her in nearly 8 years. At the same time, completely turning that stereotype on its ear, there are vulgar theatrical performances in the street which delight the common people who have come to watch it, but shock Cornelia, a nobleman's widow of at least 30 years of age, so much that she asks her father to take her home before her reputation is ruined.

The one thing that was slightly erksome was that the Germanic tribes were looking a bit like a cross between 12th century British peasantry and unwashed Highlanders after Culloden... I didn't get a terribly good look at them though, just glimpses; they were very background, so there might be nothing at all wrong with the way they looked. At least I didn't see any horned helmets. I'm not sure what sources they are using for them, but at least if they're using the Roman writings about the Germanic tribes they aren't taking them seriously because they tend to be about as accurate as the National Enquirer. Also, I think that the number of people writing and reading their own letters is strange... especially that all the high-born women seem to be able to read and write. I'd have to double-check in my text books to be totally certain, but that doesn't seem correct. I could be wrong though. And I'm not terribly sure that they used arsenic in cosmetics... White lead, yeah... But arsenic? I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that arsenic wasn't isolated by chemists as an element and not a compound until the Renaissance in Italy. Honestly, if they are going to go this over the top trying to be historically accurate the least they could do is get little things that don't require huge amounts of money correct. (I do nit-pick, don't I?)

Overall though, I liked it very much and I'll be sure to watch the new episode next Sunday.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


It is a series with 12 1-hour parts... They are still being somewhat ambiguous as to whether it will come back for a second season or not. It can be seen just about every night this week on HBO, and then new episodes will premiere on Sunday nights at 9pm, eastern time. Check your local listings for time and channel. I haven't seen it yet. It won't be airing on the West coast feed for another hour and 45 minutes in my time zone. I caught the last 5 minutes of the premiere airing a little while ago, just in time to see 14-year-old Octavian bludgeon to death this guy who was the lone survivor of a gang of men who had apparently kidnapped him and then the few scenes left after that. It looked pretty good, but I was a little confused about what was going on since I missed the first 55 minutes of the show.

The actor playing Octavian looked really familiar, so I looked him up on He's Max Pirkis and he played "Midshipman Blakeney" in "Master and Commander." Good actor! He had a really scary, vicious look in his eyes while pretending to bludgeon that guy to death. Strange thing though is that another actor of the same age, Aaron Johnson, is also listed as playing Octavian in "Rome"... So I don't know what's going on there... His mother "Atia" also looked familiar. I looked her up too, and found that I recognized her because she's Polly Walker, who played the elegant "Jane Fairfax" in "Emma" (the one with Gwyneth Paltrow).

This got me curious about who else is in "Rome" that I'm going to recognize, so I scanned through the list of actors, and this is what I found. Kerry Condon is in "Rome," playing "Octavia of the Julii." She was in "Ned Kelly" as Ned Kelly's eldest sister, "Kate." Lindsay Duncan is playing "Servilia." She played "Mrs. Price/Lady Bertram" in "Mansfield Park," and "Lady Markby" in "An Ideal Husband." Ciaran Hinds is playing "Julius Caesar." He's been in a ton of stuff, including "Calendar Girls" as "Rod Harper," "Lara Croft 2" as "Jonathan Reiss" (the bad guy), "Jane Eyre" (1997 TV mini) as "Edward Rochester," "Persuasion" (1995) as "Captain Wentworth," "Circle of Friends" as "Professor Flynn," and "Excalibur" as "Lot." The oh-so-lovely James Purefoy is playing "Marc Anthony"... And boy, if Anthony looked like that, I'm surprised it took Cleopatra so long... seriously... He played "Brendan" in "Bedrooms and Hallways" (opposite Kevin McKidd [who is also in "Rome"] and Jennifer Ehle - it's a very strange movie that is, I think, pretty much the product of British people coming out of their Victorian repression), "Tom Bertram" in "Mansfield Park," and "Sir Thomas Colville a.k.a. Edward, the Black Prince of Wales" in "A Knight's Tale." Kevin McKidd has done almost everything... except something set in ancient Rome, which he has now covered with "Rome" (and with "The Last Legion," which will be released next year). He's playing one of the "every man" Roman soldiers, "Lucius Vorenus." Other things I've personally seen him in are "Bedrooms and Hallways" as "Leo," "Hideous Kinky" as "Henning," "Topsy-Turvy" as "Durward Lely (Nanki-Poo)," "Nicholas Nickleby" as "John Browdie," and, most recently, in "Kingdom of Heaven"... where he was somewhat in the background as "an English Sergeant."

The official site can be found here:

Stay tuned for my review of the first ep.

I'm baa-aack...

I got back home yesterday evening from my wonderful trip to the Carolinas. I had such a nice time and it was so great to see everyone there. I really enjoyed staying at the Borough and helping get the new house (or "the hidden house," as the bitties are calling it apparently) in order. Even painting furniture when it is 105 degrees in the shade was fun with the right company, and it's good to get things like that accomplished. The antique shops in Waxhaw are awesome! I highly recommend checking out Waxhaw, NC and the Waxhaw museum to anyone interested who might be reading this. Also, the Rosedale Plantation and the Charlotte Museum of History are well worth seeing in Charlotte. Very cool places! I got a lot of decorating ideas while I was there. I'm going to have to look around in the Tampa area and see if I can find comparable items. And there's a lot going on at the Borough. I'm thinking that if I really get into the Archaeology class I'm taking this semester, if I'm good at it and do well, that I'll try to apply when they offer internship or just volunteer when they are doing digs. That would be really cool, I think. Who knows, I might end up an archaeologist yet...

Since getting home, I've been trying to get caught up on everything that I missed while I was away. The roses have totally gotten away from my mother and I have to do some major work on them before I start back to classes. The rains haven't let up a bit and the air is wet all the time, so blackspot has become a major problem on some of the in-between plants (the young ones and the very well established one seem to be free of it, but most of the ones that aren't quite established but are at least a year old have got it bad). On the good side of things, I've found that I have about a dozen volunteer peanut plants in the garden (goodie, goodie!), and the peanut harvest that I left to dry is doing well in that. The garage seems to be a very good place to dry things, much to my father's chagrin. He's said that I'm not to plant peanuts anymore because he didn't build a $10,000 third-garage for me to use to dry peanuts. But he just doesn't understand that I'm going to install some metal shelving high up on the walls so that they aren't in the way of things to use for drying things... not just peanuts, but also herbs and flowers and other things. I would have already done it, but I haven't been here. ;D So everything will be well enough. He just doesn't know it yet.

Other than the garden, the house is looking good. My parents have been working on getting all the storage space installed in the utility room and the furniture for the new den in place, as well as painting rooms that need painting. I'm going to leave them to that and work on getting unpacked and all my clothes washed and put away properly. Most of the time, they would end up where they land, but I'm trying to change my ways and be organized now.

Zinzi did come to the airport with my dad to pick me up. She wanted to see me and get me caught up on gossip basically. There is drama going on with several people of my acquaintance here in town. I am valiantly trying to stay out of it, but it is difficult when some people are actively trying to drag me into it. But honestly, it has nothing to do with me - even indirectly - and it's none of my business to get involved in it. So, I'm going to pretend that nothing is going on at all. Wish me luck with that! I'll need it!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Topics... topics... topics...

I don't know what this entry is going to be about... I've got a lot on my mind. That is not to say that I've got problems. Thankfully, I don't right now. ::knocks wood:: But this is going to meander.

Zinzi graduated this evening. Well, she had her nursing college convocation anyway. Tomorrow, is the official graduation at the Sundome, where she will receive her degree cum laude. We're all very proud of her.

Note to self: Do not wear shoes that are 2" or higher without stockings again for any amount of time. Bad idea if I don't want blisters.

Andrea is flying up to Chicago tomorrow. She will miss Zinzi's graduation by mere hours. She's taking most of clothing up there to partially move. We're all very worried about her. She was only released from the hospital this afternoon. She's been having severe abdominal issues for most of the week.

I am flying to South Carolina on Sunday. Quite excited about this... and I need to pack tomorrow at some point... and go shopping...

I'm watching a show on Discovery Science Channel right now. It's called "Metropolis" and is a series about the great ancient cities: Athens, Babylon, Carthage, Rome, etc... This one is about Rome. It's very interesting as it doesn't deal with the history or influence of the city as much as how the city operated day-to-day and the culture that ran it. It's been talking about the night life, the sewer system, the aqueducts and who got the water from them as opposed to from the Tiber, the diseases that Romans were plagued with because of the size and consequent filth of the city, the garbage dump (aka Rome's eighth hill)... All quite interesting and *none* of it was covered in my Roman Civilization course last Spring semester. tsk, tsk, tsk... This would have been more interesting than watching Ben Hur with Charlton Heston, let me tell you! (I would also add "Spartacus" and "Gladiator" to that, but I actually like those movies, historical inaccuracies notwithstanding. Tony Curtis, Lawrence Olivier, Kurt Douglas and Russell Crowe... Can it get much better than that? I don't think so...)

But this brings me to another topic: HBO is going to be airing a new mini-series/series (they talk about it like it's both at the same time, so I'm not sure if we're getting multiple seasons or what) called "Rome." It begins during the Caesar vs. Pompey civil war. Cleopatra will become involved before the end. It's going to get up close and personal with these historical figures and many others, as well as common people who are mentioned in the biographies of the famous ones. The producers are getting meticulously and obsessively historical, no matter what previous theatrical depictions of Rome would have us believe about her and her people. The set designer for example went and talked to archaeologists and historians about what Rome looked like and then rebuilt all the major sets on a five-acre lot outside of Rome in Italy. There won't be white marble everything like we've seen in every other historical film involving Rome because Romans were, in fact, obsessed with color and painted everything in bright, beautiful colors. It's going to look more like what people would think Babylon looked like rather than Rome. One of the designers said, "think of Calcutta today, and you have ancient Rome with cars and bicycles." They made all of the costumes out of the materials they would have been made of in the 1st century BCE. No polyester rags for the peasants, no aluminum breastplates for the soldiers. And this truly impressed me... Not only did they find an actor who looks pretty close to a middle-aged Caesar, but Caesar is going to actually live up to his reputation as the "wife of every husband and husband of every wife." Scandalous by Hollywood's and Middle America's standards, but accurate! Not only that - and this truly shocked me - but Atia, the mother of a 14-year-old Octavious (Caesar's great-nephew) will be trying to nudge him into Caesar's sights, among other things, in order to gain favor with Caesar. Utterly horrifying on a number of levels by modern standards, but it happened and often in ancient Rome, and that's honestly not the half of it as far as the messed up, torturous, agonizing ordeal that Roman children were subjected to for what was believed to be their own good by their parents (There were reasons that the mortality rate of children under two was 70%, and 50% from 2 to 10. Only 15 out of every 100 children born safely lived to see their 11th birthday. And since it had a population of approximately 1 million, it boggles the mind how many children were born but didn't live. "Brutal" doesn't even begin to cover it.). This unflinching dedication to extreme accuracy can only, in my opinion, deepen the modern understanding of the past (in this case, the - debatably - greatest ancient civilization of the Western world). I will be watching for more info on "Rome."

I am hoping that this will usher in a trend in historic film; that they will become obsessive in their accuracy and show the past with all its flaws and foibles, as well as all its wondrous, magical moments and beauty. Perhaps their is hope for "The Iliad" as I see it afterall...

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

::deep breath::

I just submitted my entry for the Calendar Contest... #1, #3, and #4, which got the highest number of votes in my improptu photo election. Now, I just have to wait. They will e-mail the finalists in early September, near when the Fall issue goes live. Ugh! Two reasons related to knitting that makes me antsy for September's arrival.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Vacation, all I ever wanted...

Vacation, had to get away...

That song has been in my head off and on since I booked my flight. I can't wait for my trip up to the Carolinas - and Virginia? - next weekend. I'm very excited that I'll get to see all my family and friends in the Carolionas and Virginia, and to catch up on their lives. Can't wait, can't wait, can't wait! I am *so* in need of a change of pace and space and everything... I'm getting to be in a rut, which is bad. I've been waking up too late in the day and going to bed too late at night to be healthy. I need to stop doing that. I'm going to try to go back to aiming for a 11pm bedtime and a 9 am wake-up time. Yeah... wait a second, that's 10 hours... maybe an 8am wake-up time... I've still got some organizing to do in my room and bathroom. Maybe if I engross myself in that, the time will pass faster and I will have gotten something useful done in the meantime...

Oh, good news! I found out today that I still have a job for this school year. Yay! ::cheer for me!:: And being out of town for two weeks will not be a problem. Should have probably checked on that before booking the flight, but it all worked out anyway. I drive the son of a former USF professor from his after-school day care in the Westchase/Citrus Park area to his Bar Mitzvah Hebrew prep classes at the synogogue around the corner from my house twice a week. For this, I get paid $100 a month, 9 months out of the year. This year will be the third. It's not much money, but then, it's not much work. And it's good to have "pocket change," as my dad calls it... or "pin money," if you will. :D

Friday, August 05, 2005

Eminent domain

So, as many people know, the Supreme Court expanded the right of local government to seize property for commercial development. CNN did a story this morning on the effects of this expansion. They highlighted a poor, retired couple, the Vendettis, who own their beach front home in New Jersey. But the city council has tried to seize their property in order to sell it to a developer who wants to put up high-priced condos at more than three times the price that their home is worth. CNN talked to some of the locals who live in the new condos, which sell at 3/4 of a million dollars. One of those, Maura Lucerelli, said, "It has to be developed. It [the new crap] looks gorgeous. It brings income to the community... So I feel bad, where are they going to go? For-- It's very expensive around here. But it's part of life. I mean..." (I would say something extremely disparaging about her character here, but I think she already did it for me...) The Vendettis and thirty other families who are under the same threat are fighting it. They say they will keep fighting until they are dragged out. The good news is that if they can hold out long enough, they might be able to save their houses. The New Jersey legislature (along with those of Florida, California, Oregon, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Texas, Minnesota, Michigan, and Illinois) is trying to pass legislation that will explicitly limit eminent domain and protect property owners. The Governor of Alabama has already signed property protection legislation into law. Federal legislation that will limit eminent domain has also been introduced, by a Republican Senator from Texas of all people... I have yet to read up on any of this proposed legislation, so I don't know how much it limits the new expansion of eminent domain laws, but it's good that they are doing something.

If you live in a state that doesn't yet have proposed property protection legislation and you think they should, go to to find links to their official sites. I encourage everyone, even those who live in states with proposed legislation, to go to write their elected officials and make their views heard. It's fun, doesn't take a lot of time, let's them know that they are being held accountable, and it just might make a difference.

If you want to write to your Senators and Representatives in Washington, go to and to find links to write to them.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Josh is home

Josh arrived home early this morning... around 4 o'clock. He leaves again on Sunday to go to Philadelphia. I don't know what for - something with some of his friends who live there, I think. And I don't know when he'll be back again. I don't think it's for a job. He goes out on tour sometime this fall.

It's terrible for me to say, but I get along better with him when he's not at home. Not even 12 hours since he got home, and already he's invading my space without reservation or remorse. If only he'd have the slightest respect for me and my things, I could probably deal. But he comes home and immediately begins complaining about how I should organize my things better in *my* bathroom... Neverrmind that I cleaned his bathroom for him early this morning while he was still sleeping so it wouldn't be dusty or grimy for him. And do I get a "thanks"? Nooo... I'm quite sure he didn't even notice. And when he started unpacking his car, he put all of his luggage and boxes in my darkroom, which was only finished yesterday. I asked him to find somewhere else to put it all because it's my darkroom, but he says he won't unless mom makes him because "if you can put things in there, then so can I." ::rolls eyes:: I hate sibling rivalry.

And if that weren't bad enough, he's started smoking cigarettes since he's been in California. I caught him smoking outside around noon with a friend of his who looks perpetually stoned. At least it wasn't pot that they were smoking, although I know he occasionally smokes that too. ::sighs:: He's my father's biological son, and he knows that cancer runs in his family, that dad is already having lung problems, that Zadde died of lung cancer and so did Bubbe, and still he chooses to smoke. I don't get it. I just don't get it...

Okay, hopefully, I'm done with my immature rant about my brother. I know I can't control his life, but honestly, he could make better decisions and be a nicer person.

I've also got my new computer working. I just needed a disk that my mom had misplaced. Once she got home, it was all done in about 15 minutes. And today, our contractor, Jay, got everything squared away with the last of the touch-up painting and baseboards, and the inspector from downtown came and did the final inspection. So everything is all done now (Yay!! ::wild cheering::) and my parents are going to start moving their furniture this weekend. It's beautiful. I'll eventually take pictures of the new rooms and post them.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Another productive day

Today has been good so far. I've gotten a lot accomplished.

I went out and returned some yarn to Walmart at 8 this morning, bought a rug for my mom, a dog bed for my dog, Baby, and "Alexander" for myself.

Walmart was pushing the Director's Cut of "Alexander," much to my dismay. It had a discounted price. But there's no point in buying that one 'cause it's what the WB forced Oliver Stone to produce to try to up sales on the DVD, "especially in the South" (very subtle of them). They wanted a more "straight" Alexander... something "more like Brad Pitt in 'Troy'." Pu-leeze... ::sigh:: So as a consequence, there's 20 minutes added (mostly stuff with Roxane, played by Rosario Dawson) and 40 minutes removed. So almost no Hephaistion, played by the oh-so-lovely Jared Leto, in the Director's Cut, and even less of Bagoas, as if there were very much of him to begin with. And Francisco Bosch was very good in that role. The doe-eyed sad face was very effective. (Francisco is a Spanish ballet dancer, only 3 months older than me, and this was his first film. - Lucky boy! - Made Andrea very jealous with his dancing. It was quite impressive. She also said that he looks like the perfect "Romeo" and I'm inclined to agree. See here: If only he danced in the US and not in England, I might get to see one of his performances.) Imho, Jared and Francisco are two guys who should be allowed and encouraged to wear eye-makeup... especially Jared... Had to travel far afield to find a pics of him with eyemakeup from the movie, but finally found some thanks to See...

But I bought the theatrical cut there anyway, and on my way to my car thought it would be a good idea to check the Target across the street to see if they had it too... I love Target 'cause not only was "Alexander" a full $5 cheaper, but they didn't even have the Director's Cut in stock! (If only there was a SuperTarget nearby, I'd go there on my 2am shopping outings instead of the 24-hour Walmart that's less than a mile from my house. But the closest SuperTarget is all the way out in New Tampa, about 2 miles from the county line... far, far away...) So I bought it again there, and then went back across the street to Walmart to get my money back for the other copy.

I came home and watched it while I was setting up my new computer. Thank goodness! I really needed a new computer. The other one hadn't quite crashed yet, but, at 8 years old and counting, it was getting close. I made the back up disks and was trying to get the internet to work when I got hopelessly confused. So I have to wait until my dad comes home and see if he can help me. I might even have to call Joe and ask him to help.

After a quick lunch, I went out to do some yard work. I planted a rose that I've had in a pot since March, cut down the okra (it was beyond help), and harvested 8 peanut plants and hung them to dry. Now, I'm going to turn off the sprinklers, shower and figure out what I'm going to do for dinner. My parents have open house tonight at their schools so they won't be home until 9pm. Josh is on his way home from LA. He should be home tomorrow late or Thursday. He got to El Paso, TX yesterday around 7pm their time and got a hotel room.

Monday, August 01, 2005

or so I thought...

Well, I accomplished quite a lot this weekend. I completely cleared my brother's room of all mine and my mother's stuff, got it all organized and put away in it's proper place... And if that weren't enough, I got the photo submission for the contest I'm going to enter all put together and pretty much ready to go. I've got until August 15th, so I'm waiting to hear back from a few more people about which ones they think I should submit. #1 and #3 will definitely be submitted. #2 definitely no. I just need to figure out which of the blue sweater would be best, #4 or #5, and that will be that.

Today, I went out to lunch with two of my high school friends, Maria and Laura. We had a very nice time catching up and discussing the latest turn in local politics. We really need to do it more often. Then I came home and finished up some of my other recent projects. I planted the hydrangea and the banana tree, fertilized several plants, and checked over the garden just before the thunder started rumbling, and I supervised the installation of the mirror and shower door for my parents' new master bathroom.

On an even brighter note, I found out this morning that "Beowulf and Grendel" will be in theaters in October! That's a full six months sooner than I had thought. Here's the official site if you would like to check it out: It was filmed in Iceland! ::squee!:: I can't wait to see it!

photo contest entry

No cleverness today... Just this: I welcome comments here or through e-mails.