Kedi – Movie Review

So there are these cats. Lots of them, living freely on the streets of Istanbul. They all have a backstory, willingly told by the people who know them best. Cats being cats, interacting with other cats and with people, to an unusual soundtrack and flawless photography. Kedi is quite a documentary.

All of them have names. Psycho, Carefree, and Duman the Perfect Gentleman are the ones I remember. They come when called, sometimes, but are free to come and go. Most of the businesses in the street scenes have an open door policy. Some cats are shooed away but they always come back. The people are resigned to this, and secretly grateful.

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These cats live on boats, in warehouses, in stone walls, on roofs and in cellars. Wherever they can. Sometimes they mingle with actual house cats, eat their food and leave without a how-do-you-do.

Fights over territory are not uncommon, even a “stay away from my man!” reminder from Psycho, who treats her ‘husband’ terribly but reacts like a angry snake when a pretty newcomer meows at him.

The animals look very healthy. Some see the local vet on a regular basis; the business owners foot the bill, sometimes using the tip jar as a kitty healthcare fund. Lots of kittens, some orphaned, some not, light up the screen.

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There is one tragedy. One small kitten, banged up from a fight and unresponsive, is delivered to a caring human. He takes it to the vet for emergency treatment, but we never learn the outcome. I hope the little guy made it.

All told, seven cats are profiled, along with the people who see to their wellbeing. The Turkish dialogue is translated into easy-to-read subtitles, so we always know what’s going on. And the music – an eclectic mix of street music, cool jazz, and what might be 60’s pop music – made me smile more than once; a perfect companion to the sights and sounds of the city.

Go see Kedi. I’m hoping it comes around to Netflix eventually so I can see it again. I like these cats, and kind of miss them already.

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Invisible Ink

Is it me, or is the print in magazines and other materials getting lighter and lighter?

Am I the only one who has to turn on a bright light, bring my eyes close, and rotate my head before deciphering the words on the page?

The letters are thin and spare, almost transparent. It’s as if someone invented a new font called Miser.

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True, I’m no young whippersnapper anymore, and my eyes have seen better days. I have corrective lenses; Lord knows I paid enough for them. But I need to know – what’s the deal with the fading, fading print?

My guess? The high price of ink.

Hewlett Packard is to blame. You go into the electronics store and you see nothing but HP brand ink and ink jets. There may be other ink companies in the world, but you get the sense that this company, HP, is the only game in town. “You want to try one of those cheaper brands and risk unholy disaster?” the display seems to say. “I don’t think so.”

So we pay the high price. I was astounded when I bought my first printer, about 15 years ago. The salesman handed me the printer of my choice and then mentioned ink.

“You mean it doesn’t come with the printer?” I gasped.

“Nope, you gotta buy it. Let’s see, black and white, also color. Here ya go.” He stacked the little boxes on the other box. “Now, you’ll want a cable too, right? These here are made of solid gold.”

Walking to the cashier in a daze, I wondered how printing got so expensive.

I immediately felt sympathy for my company, who spent a lot more on ink than I did. I became a convert, using my work printer sparingly, going as far as taking gridlines off my spreadsheets before hitting the print button. No need to waste ink on those little frills.

But I grew incensed when a co-worker printed out a full color, 24-page PowerPoint file, with dark blue backgrounds with just a few white bullet points on each. Waste, waste!

I wanted to find out who did it, take them by the shoulders and shake vigorously. “In the names of Hewlett and Packard, what are you doing? This is a drain of our company’s resources, you fool. You’re the reason we have crappy pens!”

But I never did because the culprit let the pages sit by the community printer for four days until someone threw them out.

Based on several studies, ink is either $2,303 per gallon, $ 3,482 per gallon, or even the hold-on-to-your-hat price of $4,294 per gallon. As my friend Jeff would say, “That’s no bargain.”

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So the fading, barely-there print phenomenon continues. At this rate we might soon see publications with completely white pages. We’ll have to carry around lemon juice and maybe a blow dryer to make the words emerge, at the same time releasing our inner third-grader. Maybe by then there’ll be a Dark Print section in the library, so people like me can actually see it. Maybe not.

As long as it’s not totally invisible…isible…ble…

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The Group Walk

Ivone and I have been walking and hiking with groups for over a year now. It’s a different dynamic than when it’s just the two of us. Our last one was Sunday, in a woodsy area in Dover, Massachusetts.

I discovered the walk announcement on MeetUp.com, and told Ivone about it. She signed up just after I did. Twenty-six walkers in all agreed to go. Fairly large group. But better to have more people than too few, we’ve found.

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We left Ivone’s house in Watertown around mid-morning and made it to Dover with time to spare. There we met the group, standing in a semi-circle around the organizer, Kevin. He was a large man, and had a smile for everyone. He had us “go around” and tell everyone our first name, and town.

“Don, New Hampshire” I said, leaving out the town. I knew if I said ‘Concord’ people would think I lived in Concord, Massachusetts, even though I make it clear that I don’t. It happens a lot.

All 26 were here, a motley group of men and women from a sixty mile radius. The weather had been springlike in recent days, but this morning it was cold and windy. The sun helped. Someone did a quick head count, and we entered the Noenet Woodlands.

It was an easy trail at first, but we soon ran into our first challenge. A wide stream, full with the runoff from last night’s rain. A couple of logs seemed to give some footholds, but one log was just floating there.

We all made it across except for an older gentlemen named Joel, who trusted the floating log and pitched headfirst into the brook. He came out looking pretty wet but not unhappy. We resumed our trek.

I mostly walked with Ivone, but the nature of trail walking means that sometime I pulled ahead, and sometimes she did, and we would find ourselves chatting with the others in the group. Something about walking in a common direction with a common goal made this easier than it would be in another place or situation.

At one point I was walking next to Joel, who introduced himself. He asked where I was from. “Concord, New Hampshire” I called out in a clear voice. He then started to tell me of the other groups he knew in Concord, one of them for retirees.

“I’m not retired,” I said. He seemed surprised, which in turn surprised me. I’m not that old! Also, it turned out the groups he mentioned were in Concord, Massachusetts.

Yup, it happens a lot.

We found a small rise and posed for a group shot. It was lunchtime, but all Ivone and I managed to eat was a granola bar in the short rest provided.

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Along the way we met hikers and walkers not in our group, many of them with dogs. Ivone always stopped to admire and greet the animals; I on the other hand could be counted on to walk right by. I’m a cat person, I guess.

We somehow managed to travel in a loop, so we didn’t have to traverse Floating Log Brook again. After our walk of roughly two hours and four miles, we came out into the parking lot, tired and hungry. No one really knew the area, but someone had heard of a restaurant called Three Squares. Ten of us were game to try it.

A short drive away, Ivone and I joined the remains of our walking group for wine, beer, and brunch. Good company, laughter, and a little gossip. A great way to end any group activity.

Especially the gossip.

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Because the Moxie Man Said So

I may have lost my mind, or part of it. But I recently bought a 12-pack of Diet Moxie.

Yes, Moxie.

If you’re from New England or Pennsylvania, you might know it, or even tasted it. I was a young boy of nine, somewhere in Massachusetts at a relative’s house. 1968 rings a bell. In those days, soda came in bottles, some very fancy, almost works of art. I opened the refrigerator door, and there was one bottle of Moxie.

Hmm, I thought. Same color as Coca-Cola. It looked good standing there. The day was warm and I was thirsty. I asked if I could have it.

I’m not sure if I was warned, but permission was granted. I opened the bottle with one of those wall mounted openers (do they still exist?) And then I took a sip.

It was sweet – at first. Then within seconds came the aftertaste, the mother of all aftertastes. Even now, it’s hard to describe. It’s like suddenly your tongue is coated in a dreadful, sulfurous, chemical bath of awfulness.

What the hell, my nine-year old brain thought. What the hell?

I can’t remember if anyone was laughing or even if anyone was watching. But no one blamed me for setting the bottle on a counter and walking away.

Over the years I saw the odd Moxie sign and other paraphernalia. The memory of that sip always came back to me. Each time I shuddered anew.

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So last week, I was in the soda aisle of Market Basket (my girlfriend calls it Basket Market), thinking I needed a change. I was tired of Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, and Diet Dr. Pepper. And what should present itself but a shelf full of my old friend, Moxie.

Moxie comes in cans now. On the side of the box and on each can, the old Moxie lettering is still there, as well as Moxie Man. He’s a good looking dude, a contemporary of Babe Ruth with a white suit and glossy, movie star hair. Moxie Man glares out at you, pointing. “Drink Moxie” is the caption underneath. I obeyed and grabbed a good supply of the stuff.

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I planned to drink my first Moxie at work, with my lunchtime sandwich. I figured food might kill the taste if I really hated it. Came the day, I was ready. I cracked the seal, and after giving Moxie Man a thumb up, took a sip.

It wasn’t bad. Then it was. But not that bad. Or maybe pretty bad. I don’t know!

I managed to finish the can, and I’ve had two more since. Hey, I wasn’t crazy about my first sip of beer, either, but then I got wise. It might be the same with Moxie. I love acquiring a taste for things that most people don’t like. Progressive Rock, anyone? So, it’s Moxie for me, for nine more cans at least.

Moxie Man, I shall do it.

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Holly Jolly Holly Jolly, Oh

Music has always been a large part of my holiday.

It’s there on the radio, weeks before. It’s in the stores. It’s on TV, and YouTube. I looked up one of my seasonal favorites there, even though I own the album.

It’s called Winter Song, by Angel.  (You’ll have to look up, or imagine, the awesome video.)

I figure it’s impossible to hear every Christmas song ever recorded in just a few weeks. Some I missed, like I Believe in Father Christmas by Greg Lake, and the Eagles’ version of Please Come Home for Christmas. I’m sure I’ll hear them again.

But I did hear a few others this season. In no particular order…

Christmas Wrapping by the Waitresses. Funny lyrics, sung with attitude. “A&P has provided me with the world’s smallest turkey.”

Frosty by Jimmy Durante (“…and two eyes, made outta coal”)frostythesnowman-character

Rudolph by Burl Ives (“But do you recall, the most famous reindeer of all?”)

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee

Father Christmas (Give Us Your Money) – The Kinks

(I would have loved to post the video here – it’s great.  But WordPress said no.)

An oddly speeded up version of Bing Crosby’s Mele Kalikimaka. (Now why would they do that?)

And that awful Paul McCartney song, you know the one. It’s the Jar-Jar Binks of Christmas tunes.

I have two Christmas CD’s in my car. One is the Peanuts soundtrack by Vince Gueraldi that almost everyone seems to have. I listened to it all the way through on a long car trip.

The other is by the Kingston Trio from 1960, called Last Month of the Year. Very good but it brings back bittersweet memories. The Trio are still around, stopped in New Hampshire last year for a show.

By now I’m a little Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole’d out, but there’s always next year.

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Walking Home, by Sonia Choquette

If I ever decide to take a long excursion on foot, whether it be the Pacific Crest Trail or the Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain, I know one thing I’ll do first. Break in those walking boots.

Because aching feet are just not fun. Sonia Choquette found out the hard way. In her one month plus pilgrimage, she always felt her feet were “on fire.” Ouch. But she also found out much more.

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In Walking Home: A Pilgrimage from Humbled to Healed, the author describes the long walk/hike on the Camino, taken after the deaths of two close family members and the breakup of her marriage. Would the solitary hike leave her feeling healed and whole again?

Her one companion on this journey is a rubbery, green, six-inch figure named Gumby. Her childhood friend, Gumby serves as a totem of sorts, providing a sounding board to the author’s ups and downs. Some days he gets to ride up front, clipped into her backpack. Other days he’s unceremoniously stuffed into a pocket, like a set of car keys. Everyone who sees the little feller smiles.

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It takes a while for Choquette to find her rhythm on the trail, and in her book. Each night is a new town, different hostel and a varying diet of food and human company. She meets Camino Patrick, a doppelganger of her ex-husband, also named Patrick. A smooth talking Greek puts the moves on her after a few glasses of wine. A frantic woman loses her wallet and calls off the hike, just like that.

There are wonderful innkeepers, and terrible ones. A simple thing like an elevator after a hard day’s hike can represent a major miracle.

Also there are churches, many of them, along the way. They serve as a shelter from bad weather, a place to rest the feet and soothe a hurting soul.

Ever since I saw The Way, a movie starring Martin Sheen, I’ve been interested in this trek. I might make it there someday. Now that I’ve read this book, I feel more prepared to take it on. I’m hoping it doesn’t take a major life change to nudge me there, but even that might be okay.

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Favorite quotes from Monk

He’s the guy.

 

I don’t know how he did it, but he did it.

 

You’ll thank me later.

 

She’s the guy.

 

We should wait for Natalie. She’s in charge…of saying the right things.

 

Here’s what happened.

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You can taste the symmetry.

 

It’s a blessing…and a curse.

 

Here’s the thing.

 

Unless I’m wrong, which, you know, I’m not.

 

I have nature on my hands!

 

I’m seriously considering you for employee of the month.

 

I just solved the case.

 

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