Dad FINALLY got his deck!

My dad bought his house back in January 2010, and ever since, he talked about adding a deck.  Yesterday, the deck was FINALLY finished!  It ONLY took 6 days and was built by Long Fence.  Earlier this year, Dad thought he’d have a small company build the deck, BUT that turned out NOT to be a good option.  

After Dad chose the builder, he had to get his plan/design approved by Montogomery County.  There was a permit fee, too.  In total, about 5 guys worked on this deck; three of them were a family.  Two older teen boys worked w/ their dad; Dad said they were VERY well-mannered and hard-working.  The father moved to Mexico from his native El Salvador when he was just 17 y.o.  Then he married a Mexican lady, they moved to the U.S. in the ’90s, started a small contracting business, and raised their kids.


Broadway on DVD

The Glass Menagerie (1973)

You are the only young man that I know of who ignores the fact that the future becomes the present, the present becomes the past, and the past turns into everlasting regret if you don’t plan for it.


Katherine Hepburn stars as Amanda Wingfield, vivacious Southern belle turned struggling single mom and shop assistant in Tennessee Williams’ autobiographical memory play.  The narrator, Tom, is recounting the story from the distance of some years.  Amanda, who’s hubby ran off years ago, has two grown children (somewhere in their 20s) who live w/ her in a humble St. Louis rowhouse.  Tom (Sam Waterston- best known for Law & Order) grudgingly works at a shoe factory, but desperately longs for adventure and time to concentrate on his writing.  Laura (Joanna Miles), his older sister, lives in the world of her own mind- playing w/ little glass animal figures and listening to old records.     

Into their little world comes factory clerk Jim O’Conner (Michael Moriarty- also of L&O fame).  Jim is a positive, enthusiastic, well-mannered guy who’s quite happy w/ life.  Amanda is VERY eager to please him, seeing Jim as a potential hubby for Laura. 

Amanda, though she often revels in tales of her fabulous girlhood (servants, gowns, lots of gentlemen callers), has BIG hopes and fears for her children.  Tom REALLY hates his job, so he doesn’t try to move up the ladder, like someone w/ his brains could do.  Laura, VERY sensitive and shy, has left secretarial school and has not had any bfs.  And don’t forget the bills!  As a teen, I related more to Tom and Laura.  I didn’t like Amanda much, but when I watched the film again recently, I  was surprised to find that I had sympathy for her as a woman and a mother!  I guess I’m getting wiser…


A Moon for the Misbegotten (1975)


This version of Eugene O’Neill’s autobiographical play stars veteran theatrically-trianed greats Jason Robards, Colleen Dewhurst (mother of Campbell Scott) and Ed Flanders (St. Elsewhere).  It’s a sequel to A Long Day’s Journey Into Night; the main character is the older son of the VERY dysfunctional Tyrone family.  The setting is an old farmhouse in rural Connecticut in the 1920s, where Irish immigrant tenant farmer Phil Hogan (Flanders) lives w/ his VERY sassy, yet hardworking, daughter Josie (Dewhurst).  His three sons ran off to make their own way. 

One of Hogan’s friends and drinking buddies is also his landlord, Jim Tyrone, a brooding, middle-aged, and faded Broadway actor.  Whenever Jim is in town, they talk, drink, and hang out.  Josie is also friendly w/ Jim, though she doesn’t like his dark moods.  She speaks whenever and however she likes, BUT Jim doesn’t seem to mind like other men!  He even likes her looks, though she calls herself an ugly cow.  Seeing their affection for each other, her dad hatches a plan to get them together, BUT Mr. Hogan’s plan is badly conceived.

I’d never seen this play before, or even heard of it, so was pleasantly surprised by it.  Though it is dark in tone, it’s very compelling.  Dewhurst (known to MANY young people as Anne’s adoptive mom in the Green Gables series) just inhabits the role of Josie, a complicated woman w/ smarts, humor, and LOT of compassion.  Check it out!

Angel Face (1952) & Midnight Cowboy (1969)

Angel Face (1952)

Ambulence driver/paramedic Frank Jessup (Robert Mitchum) underestimates 19 y.o. heiress-to-be Diane Tremayne (Jean Simmons) in one of famed director Otto Preminger’s lesser-known (noir) films.  The couple meet under odd circumstances- an accident (or maybe not) occurs at the SoCal mansion where she lives w/ her novelist father and his wife, potentially fatal to the stepmother.  Frank is intrigued by Diane’s beauty and moody/mysterious ways.  She  takes it a BIT more seriously…

Later that night, Diane drives into town and approaches him for a date.  Though Frank has a steady gf (a nurse) he decides to take Diane out for dinner and dancing.  It’s all harmless fun, or so he thinks…

This film has twists and turns- it kept me guessing.  It’s a psychological drama, for the most part.  Frank, who’s older and more experienced w/ life, thinks he can handle Diane.  But he doesn’t realize the complex/troubled mind she has, or what this petite lady is capable of.  Diane offers him a cushy job as the family chauffeur w/ an apt.

Jean Simmons REALLY shines in her role of the (unexpected) femme fatale, going toe-to-toe w/ Mitchum.  She creates a complicated, troubled, yet VERY watcheable character in Diane.  Mitchum, on the other hand, is sometimes TOO calm/collected.  (I wanted to see more anger/emotion from Frank.)  But his screen presence, charisma, and confidence almost make up for it.


Midnight Cowboy (1969)

I never saw this film until last week, though it’s quite famous/controversial.  The two leads (Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman) do a FINE job, no doubt about it!  However, this film is difficult to emotionally connect to at times.  The shooting style is unusual, esp. for its time.  There are flashbacks that provide glimpses into a character’s troubled past, BUT don’t tell the complete story.  There is a weird, disjointed, lengthy scene at a party towards the end.

Joe Buck (Voight) is a handsome 28 y.o. dishwasher from small-town Texas who comes to NYC looking to work as a “hustler.”   He dreams of charming and seducing older ladies and making big money.  But he’s totally clueless.  He happens to meet Ratso Rizzo (Hoffman), a talkative/street-smart trickster w/ a bad leg.

An unlikely, yet mutually beneficial, friendship develops between the two opposites.  In Joe, Ratso sees the strong, able-bodied guy he’d like to be.  Ratso helps Joe navigate through the cruel city, and shares what little he has w/ the wide-eyed innocent.

3:10 to Yuma (2007)

This exciting, well-paced, and character-driven film is ALMOST  as good as the 1957 original (which stars Glenn Ford and Van Heflin), maybe better in some regards!  In terms of the action sequences, this new version is superior.  Also, the Southwestern landscape is more eye-catching in color.  This is basically a tale of good vs. evil, but w/ a few unexpected twists and turns.  It’s based on a short story by Elmore Leonard .

Wounded Civil War vet, Dan Evans (Christian Bale), is desperate for money.  His confidence is very low, he’s close to defaulting on a bank loan, and his younger son is ill.  One morning, he and his sons witness the aftermath of a Union-Pacific stagecoach robbery (near Bisbee, AZ) while out w/ their herd of cattle.

Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) stays behind for a few hours b/c a sad-eyed, yet elegant, barmaid (played by Vinessa Shaw) catches his eye; his boys ride further south to Mexico.  Dan takes a risk, enters the local saloon, and pulls his rifle on the infamous robber.  Ben doesn’t look TOO concerned when Dan and a few men, including a grizzled Pinkerton detective named McElroy (veteran actor Peter Fonda), take him into their custody.  His gang will come back for him, he knows.

On the way, they all stop at the Evans’ humble ranch and have dinner.  In one amusing scene, Dan cuts Ben’s steak for him.  Dan’s older son, William (Logan Lerman from Jack & Bobby), is particularly intrigued by the outlaw who seems a stark contrast to his father: dapper, self-assured, and charming.

While the men are out for a spell, Ben chats w/ Dan’s lovely/genteel wife Alice (Gretchen Mol), unsettling her w/ his keen observations.  Dan (though he speaks little) knows that Ben is playing head games, trying to work on each man’s insecurities.

Why is Dan offering to escort Ben to the train in Contention?  It’s not ONLY b/c of a reward (promised by the railroad)- it’s the principle of the matter.  Along the way, the two men argue, fight, share secrets, and rely on each other to survive.  A kind of mutual respect develops between them.  Will Ben turn out to be “not all bad,” as William thinks?