Friday, April 11, 2008

Guess We'll Have to Cancel the Bentley, Then

Since I started cleaning up my mom's books, my dad decided to clean out some of the other books that have been accumulating unregarded for decades. He's been reporting to me periodically that he's amassed a number of first editions that he was sure were worth megabucks and asked me to find a rare book dealer to appraise them.

Knowing -- from John Dunning, among others -- that just because a book is a first edition doesn't mean it's valuable; remembering the well-loved condition of most of my parents' books; and judging by the almost eerie lack of collectible items among my relations (barely a set of Depression glass dessert cups between them), I gently suggested that I should look up a few items at the ABE booksellers site first to see if it would be worth it for a dealer to come out and have a look. Since I'm going over there tomorrow for round two with the dust monsters in the garage, I thought that would pacify him.

Well, I forgot two things about Dad: first, that he never cares about wasting other people's time, and second, that when he has a bee in his bonnet, he really gets buzzing. He called this morning to tell me that he's had not one but TWO dealers out to the house this week to assess the "collection." They both told him what I already suspected: the books are worth zilch.

Fortunately, he's philosophical about this disappointment. Unfortunately, it's suddenly become my problem to decide how to dispose of the books.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Book Quote of the Day #3

"Magic -- to use a word I'd rather not -- is not as simple as technology. Anyone can turn on a radio or flip a light switch. Magic takes training. A violin, for example, is an elaborate construct, but where one person can use it to create lovely music, another will make only scrapes and screeches."

. . . . "So you're saying that items created for magic are more like violins than radios. The virtue in them is as much in the user as in the item."

Jane Lindskold, Child of a Rainless Year

Friday, April 04, 2008

Movie Diary March 2008

I saw some movies this month. Damn if I can remember them all. Here's some lightning reviews of the few that come to mind. Those seen for the first time are, as always, in green.

  1. Murder Must Advertise (1973, BBC). My favorite of the Winsey adaptations. Unfortunately, Ian Carmichael doesn't appear to his best advantage in that Harlequin costume. It's supposed to make him look sexy and dangerous. It doesn't.
  2. Upstairs Downstairs Season 3 (1973, BBC)
  3. All About Eve (1950, Joseph L. Mankiewicz). Pretty much fabulous, except for Bette Davis's "you're not a woman without a man beside you" speech. George Sand is devastatingly effective in what's probably his best role ever.
  4. The Rake's Progress (Sidney Gilliatt, 1950). Boring and sexist with unredeemable anti-hero.
  5. High Wall (1947, Curtis Bernhardt). Robert Taylor is hysterical (and not in a good way), Audrey Trotter bland and wholesome, and Herbert Marshall sexily wicked in this stupid story.
  6. The Cobweb (1955, Vincente Minnelli). A Freudian field day in the plushest asylum ever built. I love how the heroic doctor Richard Widmark gets to have an affair with social director Lauren Bacall and that's OK, but his spoiled wife Gloria Grahame (ravishingly sexy) has a couple of drinks with clinic director Charles Boyer and she's an OMG slutt!!!11!
  7. The Lady Vanishes (1939, Alfred Hitchcock). Not the master's best work. I did like Paul Lukas as the villainous doctor.
  8. The Girl with Green Eyes (1964, Desmond Davis). You know, I'm really over these earnest British social dramas of the '50s and '60s. Lynn Redgrave provides some much-needed levity.
  9. Gaslight (1944, George Cukor). Charles Boyer basically gives a textbook illustration of stalking and psychological abuse. Angela Lansbury steals the film as slutty housemaid Nancy.
  10. Bunny Lake Is Missing (1965, Otto Preminger). Creepily effective thriller, with uber-creepy Keir Dullea. If only they didn't say "Bunny" quite so often.
  11. The Blue Gardenia (1953, Fritz Lang). Oh right, lady. Go out with the disgusting womanizer and let him get you drunk and take you home with him. Then, when he turns up dead, burn your new dress that your roommates have already totally called you out on. *snort*

Don't know why I fell down on the job this month. I'll try to be more on the ball in April, I promise.