All posts for the month March, 2016

My basement is flooded. We got a new washing machine because our old one was about 12 years old and the lid didn’t work right and it smelled funny.

The new one has a computer in it and makes little soft computer noises. It was that or some economy thing that looked like it would fall apart on the truck.

So Day 1, it wouldn’t work at all. The white haired repair guy showed up in his NRA ball cap and plaid shirt and PLUGGED A FREAKING LAPTOP INTO IT to run some diagnostics. Turned out a molex connector had come undone… on the truck. He had to carefully remove the front plastic bezel without destroying the clips (no mean feat) and undo about 14 pan screws to get to it. All better.

Until it started pouring water all over the floor.

Turns out that when I hooked it up, filled with pride and hubris and feeling invincible in my righteous superiority, I didn’t replace any of the rubber washers and just hooked it up with the same ones that had been in there for ten years.

Yeah, when I took the lines back off to replace them today, they were utterly shredded to pieces. Good times.

That’s uhh.. all. Chewbacca did not get wet, although his feet were mere.. err.. feet from the flood site.

I don’t mean to imply that I’m neglecting my housecleaning, just that I haven’t had much to report on this subject.

Things have moved along efficiently and happily. I continue to approach cleaning with a spatial rather than temporal mandate in mind. That is, I do not set rigid schedules but instead remind myself that I did X room last time, so I need to do Y room next. If you go by schedules, you will certainly fall behind. If you fall behind, you’ll get depressed and fall further behind. If you think of roomscapes instead of clocks and calendars, your priorities will stay intact. To do a room properly and knowing that a certain other room must be done properly during the next session — this is far superior to agonizing over how you can do Tuesday’s room when you don’t have time.

Swiffers and feather dusters, of course, remain my weapons of choice, but the reason I’m touching on this subject again is to introduce a new device which I’m ashamed to say I’ve overlooked as a cleaning necessity. As you know, I love my Riccar vacuum cleaner. I love it so much that I consider it my pet. You don’t need a dog if you have a good vacuum cleaner. It’s also nice to have a broom and a dustpan for general sweeping, as well as a whisk broom for small dry messes. However, whisk brooms sometimes don’t quite catch everything. More correctly speaking, the little plastic dustpans that accompany these brooms don’t lend themselves very effectively to collecting certain small objects, like shreds of paper or other flat things that seem to cling to tile in spite of energetic sweeping.

This is when you need a spot vacuum. And the best spot vacuum I’ve found is the Black & Decker Dustbuster.

The virtues of this product speak for themselves. For under $25, you can get a battery-charged sucker-upper of surprising power and reliability. Did you drop some little slivers from your paper shredder? Did you spill some peppercorns? Notice some bits of tracked-in dirt marring your recently mopped tile floor? Just run over to where you’ve hung the Dustbuster on its charging hook, suck up the offending particles, and you’re good to go. Every once in a while, dump out the little canister and wash the filter. That’s it.

I cannot recommend this device too highly. Maybe the competing Dirt Devil is just as good, but I prefer to support a company with “Decker” in the name because I’m reminded of Carl Weathers’ CIA character in Predator, and that’s the best reason I can think of to choose one product over another.

Go out today and get your Dustbuster. You’ll send me lots of thank-you notes.



If you ever get a chance to see The Gunfighter with Gregory Peck, you should do so.

It’s based loosely on the career of John (Johnny) Ringo, who was allied with the Clantons and McLaurys at the OK Corral. He was not a nice person, but neither was he the psycho preternatural super-killer so wonderfully depicted by Michael Biehn in 1993’s Tombstone. He was something in-between, an acquaintance of the “bad guys,” a gun hand who happened to be there and managed to survive.

The movie imagines an archetypal gunfighter only loosely based on the historical Ringo (in fact, the name John is changed to Jim, apparently to emphasize the fictional liberties).

Everything about this movie works. It’s a sterling example of perfect plotting, perfect character development, perfect staging, perfect black and white cinematography — whatever you can think of, this movie does it perfectly.

I would say it’s one of the three best things Peck ever did. The other two would be To Kill a Mockingbird and Twelve O’Clock High. The latter movie was directed by Henry King, who also did this one. Twelve O’Clock High is probably the most perfect World War II movie ever made, so Henry King is a genius in my book.

Long story short: see this somehow. It’s as good as movies get.

I just got to see the movie Spy on HBO. I was afraid it was going to be a fluffy “overweight ladies are beautiful too” romance pockmarked with an occasional joke or two. Happily, I was wrong.

I won’t go into the plot, as it doesn’t merit much attention. It’s a little reminiscent of Jumpin’ Jack Flash, only instead of working for a bank, the main character is barely tolerated by the CIA as an improbable techno-guide for downrange agents. Various silly circumstances put her in the field. It’s a comic fantasy with very few pretensions about being realistic, so you go in suspending your disbelief with a giant crane.

The cast is outstanding. Jason Statham is a loud, bumbling agent who exaggerates his exploits and has way, way too much testosterone.  Jude Law is the handsome spy who can really do all the things Statham yells about. McCarthy is the competent but always-apologetic “computer fatty” nobody appreciates, and this is where the jokes really take off. You’d think the script would eventually fizzle out by emphasizing how everyone tramples all over this character, but this never happens. Instead, the jokes get funnier, even as she develops wildly unrealistic spy skills. The bad guys are funny. The tech gadgets are funny. Even the ultimate boss baddie is funny.

This last role is pulled off very skillfully by Rose Byrne, who puts as much energy into getting laughs as McCarthy. The only problem I saw was that Byrne looks too much like Salma Hayek. I spent half the movie convincing myself that Salma Hayek was an underappreciated comedienne (which she is, but that’s neither here nor there).

Right. Separated at birth, etc.

If you need a Melissa McCarthy scale, the movie is not as funny as The Heat but slightly funnier than Tammy.

You should see it just so you know what it’s like to convince yourself that Salma Hayek is in a movie when she’s not.


I’m really looking forward to being called a sexist on all my social media for saying that I’m totally uninspired by this movie. The prop design sucks, the all female cast is transparently pandering, the sassy black stereotype is tedious, the comedic timing is bad in the trailer, which one would assume is their best shot at representing the thing… Ugh. This is all marketing. Pandering and marketing and none of the soul of the original is apparent here whatsoever.

The effects are pretty, though.

This is why Bill Murray never wanted to do GB 3. He knew the formula had played out. GB 2 proved that, and even GB 2 had some charm. This is just a trope-fest laid over with embarrassing stereotypes and a bad new gen SNL routine. 🙁

The trailer opens with “30 years ago four scientists saved New York…” like it’s not gonna be a reboot, and then it’s a scene-for-scene remake. Library ghost, cadillac hearse, subway ghosts…. Why the ambiguity? Pure marketing seems to be the reason. Let people believe their preference by implying both. :-/