Here’s to Us

So, a thing happened to Jess and me on Christmas day:

Engage!

If you can’t tell, the ring is a dachshund chasing it’s tail. And yes, it is an engagement ring. I went with it because a) I didn’t know Jess’s ring size and it’s challenging to creatively figure that out during a pandemic, and b) it’s adorable. We’ll get a more legit ring at some point, but for now: cute dachshund placeholder ring.

Ending 2020 with a fiancée is a pretty stellar way to close out the year. I am very happy, and can’t wait to see what the future holds for me and this marvelous, beautiful lady.

Recently Watched Movies: Christmas Edition

The holiday season, beginning with Thanksgiving and through the end of the year, is one of my favorite times of the year. Generally festive, lots of time off work, and the only time of the year I don’t mind the snow and cold weather. This year, because of The Fucking ‘Rona, the season feels a little different: a bit bleaker, a little less fun. (It’s fine; I’ll survive.) To counter that, we are going all-in on watching some of the more recent Christmas-themed movies that are streaming. Because by god I will steal the Christmas Cheer from these films or die trying. Below are my thoughts on a few of the ones we’ve watched so far. I’m not going to much talk about plots, because really ‒ what more do you need to know other than it’s a Christmas-themed rom-com?

HOLIDATE (Netflix) ‒ This movie was surprisingly raunchy, much more so than I would have expected from a Netflix Christmas movie. The raunch actually works, too, which is even better. There are a couple of awkwardly cheesy scenes, but nothing too embarrassing, and usually done with a clever bent to them (at least the one I can remember offhand). Highlights include a fun Antony and Cleopatra visual pun and a realistic depiction of why mixing alcohol and fireworks is the best decision ever. Also, the male lead looks and sounds like he’s auditioning to play a Hemsworth brother.

HAPPIEST SEASON (Hulu) ‒ Holy hell, did this film have a great cast ‒ Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Dan Levy, and Victor Garber (who played Sydney’s dad on ALIAS, and who my friend Bill refers to as “angry old Josh Bales”). This one was little more dramedy than comedy, but it worked for me. Kristen Stewart is fantastic, and Aubrey Plaza, who has more of a minor role, is eminently watchable, as she is in pretty much everything. I have one gripe, but it is spoiler-y in nature, so I’ll leave it in the comments.

Fun fact: HAPPIEST SEASON was written and directed by Clea DuVall, who played the homicidal invisible girl in one of the very early episodes of BUFFY.

DASH & LILY (Netflix) ‒ Technically a tv show, but it’s only eight 22-ish minute episodes, so it very much plays like a long movie. We were initially going to watch something probably much worse, when the blurb for this one ‒ specifically it being set in a bookstore ‒ caught Jess’s eye. We’re six episodes in so far and it’s been a lot of fun. The actors who play Dash and Lily are charming and, important for a story like this, have good chemistry. The story and pacing move just quickly enough, and, mercifully, the writing isn’t full of too many clichés. If this one doesn’t have a reasonably happy ending, I will surely yell.

What are some of the Christmas movies you’ve watched this year?

Gratitude

Thanksgiving looked a little different for me this year, like it did for so many people.  With the COVID numbers in Ohio completely losing their shit the last couple of weeks, we didn’t think we had a choice.  We went over to my folks’ house for dinner, which is normal, though we took our meal outside in the fresh air so as to stave off The Virus.  The temperature was in the 50s and sky was clear and there was only a slight wind, and it was actually quite pleasant.  Afterwards, we visited in the garage for a while, distanced, wearing our N95s. It wasn’t ideal, but it was fun, and I’m grateful that we were able to see everyone while still minimizing risk.  Hopefully the holidays next year will be something approaching normal.

Last night we watched the Taylor Swift FOLKLORE concert thing on Disney+ and hung out with some dogs, who were not at all demanding of our attention.

EXTREEEEEME CLOSE-UP

I hope you all also had a lovely-if-unusual-but-safe Thanksgiving.  Now it’s time to have pie for breakfast and watch new episode of THE MANDALORIAN.

Change

We were in a small bookstore in Chagrin Falls, Ohio yesterday when we learned the AP had called Pennsylvania for Biden, and he had effectively won the election.  I got a little misty eyed, and — not to get too hyperbolic — it felt like a weight had been lifted after four very long years.

Today, we opened two tiny bottles of champagne that we happened to have in the car, and toasted before hiking in Cuyahoga National Park.

Now also seems a fine time to retire Chrome’s wonderful Word Replacer app, which has served me faithfully these last four years. May it never be needed again.

A Brief Tale of Sausage Dogs and Dog Beds

One of the dachshunds developed an upset stomach overnight, and we woke up this morning to several poo patties in different parts of the house. This, like penicillin, I discovered by accident, but with my foot. So today I worked downstairs to keep an eye on the dogs.

Ordinarily, we keep a dog bed in the living room for Fozzie, because, while we’re pretty sure he loves us, he definitely loves to be by himself 80% of the time.

Things started off fine. Molly was asleep on the couch, Kirby was in the dog bed, and Fozzie was in some other room. (He really does enjoy being in a different room!)

Fozzie eventually joined us, but stood there looking rather perplexed at Kirby in the bed, like “where I go sleep?” So, because I am benevolent, I brought out a second bed out for Fozzie, and all was well.

Until some time later when I look up, and see Molly has moved from the couch to a dog bed. This was fine, except it happened to be the same bed that Fozzie was currently in. Faces not pictured, but neither looked very comfortable.

So I brought out a third dog bed, which Molly promptly moved into, and, at last, the kingdom finally knew peace. (Kirby is one of the lumps that is the Colts blanket.)

2020-Oct-07

Stayed up later last night, drinking red wine and catching up with my old comrade Kat. This morning was a little rough, but it was well worth it. Besides, that’s what coffee and water are for.

The last month or so, there have been more days than not that, when the workday is over, I am just exhausted feeling. Today was one of those days. I crawled onto the couch and slept for about 30 minutes. Felt a little better afterwards, and forced myself outside to go for a run. The run helped clear my head and I felt much more humanlike when I was done.

While I was out, I saw a house where the Halloween decorations are next level.

Now I need to go make turkeyburgers before the sun completely sets and I can’t see the grill.

A Good Day

Last night we ventured out of the house to have an outdoor movie night with friends.  THE THIN MAN, pizza, and a bottle of wine.  Rain made a brief but gentle appearance at one point, but we soldiered on underneath umbrellas.

Jess reached a big and hard-fought milestone on Friday, so we also celebrated her achievement unlocking with a cake of victory.

This year has been rough, but days like yesterday are a reminder of just how good life can be.

Ten Commandments of Detective Fiction

Via Alan Jacobs’s excellent Snakes & Ladders newsletter, the Ten Commandments of Detective Fiction, as codified by mystery writer Ronald Knox in the 1920s.

  1. The criminal must be someone mentioned in the early part of the story, but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to follow.
  2. All supernatural or preternatural agencies are ruled out as a matter of course.
  3. Not more than one secret room or passage is allowable.
  4. No hitherto undiscovered poisons may be used, nor any appliance which will need a long scientific explanation at the end.
  5. No Chinaman must figure in the story.
  6. No accident must ever help the detective, nor must he ever have an unaccountable intuition which proves to be right.
  7. The detective must not himself commit the crime.
  8. The detective must not light on any clues which are not instantly produced for the inspection of the reader.
  9. The stupid friend of the detective, the Watson, must not conceal any thoughts which pass through his mind; his intelligence must be slightly, but very slightly, below that of the average reader.
  10. Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them.

Barring the casual racism in # 5, these rules generally make as much sense today as they did when Knox came up with them, nearly a hundred years ago.

Serpent

Taking advantage of one of the last warm days of the year, we made a leisurely drive out to Serpent Mound on Saturday. It was wonderful.

Jess and I had one conversation about going last year, and she somehow managed to remember that conversation, and make this a surprise trip for me. She jokes that she has the memory of an elephant, and I believe her. My memory is, sadly, goldfish-like.

Serpent Mound, an effigy mound located in southwestern Ohio, about 70 miles east of Cincinnati, has been on my list of places to visit for several years, because it’s relatively local, its origin is a bit of a mystery, and because the head of the serpent aligns to the summer solstice sunset. One day I’ll return for that.

Long Weekending

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Today has been a perfectly lovely day of, in no particular order: writing, sunbasking, reading, margarita-ing, napping, and, in general, relaxing.  I’ve stayed off my phone for most of the day, except to watch a few minutes of the DeWine presser.  Last night we watched JURASSIC PARK and got Blizzards from Dairy Queen.

It’s been a pretty fantastic start to the holiday weekend.