When the wife’s away, the husband will play. Naturally. That’s why Laurel left me this note prominently displayed above the sink, where she knew I’ve have to go periodically to marvel at how high the dirty dish pile had grown, before she left for her nephew’s wedding celebration in Indiana.
The note only contains reminders regarding care of the (wild) birds, (tame) dog, and (deck) plants. This auxiliary note was taped above the dog’s water bowl in case I needed a clue as to why Serena’s tongue was hanging out and she was spending all of her time staring longingly at a closed toilet bowl lid. Getting no other instructions, apparently I was judged competent enough to take care of myself.
Oh yes, I certainly was. Soon after Laurel’s car had left our driveway on its way to the Portland airport I fired up the Volvo station wagon and headed to Hollywood Video. I was driven there by a pent-up hunger for movie violence, since Laurel eschews blood and gore.
One of my enduring memories is of her turning to me as the final credits of “The Last Samurai” began to roll, saying “I didn’t know the movie was going to be violent!” as if it were my fault. I testily replied, “What the heck do you think a movie with ‘Samurai’ in the title is going to be about, flower arranging?” (Actually it could be, but there’d also be violence in-between the floral scenes.)
I do have some minimal quality standards of my own when it comes to violent movies, however, so I passed up the most obvious teen slasher flicks. I came home with a known winner, “Collateral,” and an unknown shot-in-the-dark, “Suspect Zero.” Each had something to recommend about it, though “Collateral” is by far the superior movie.
Tom Cruise was terrific. I enjoyed seeing Cruise with gray hair and beard, for obvious self-reflective reasons (I’ll like him even better when he looks genuinely old and gray). As a professional assassin Cruise was believable both psychologically and physically. I loved the nightclub scene where he’s shooting at his intended victim, runs out of bullets, releases the clip of his automatic, slips in a fresh clip before the old one has hit the floor (or so I recall), and puts a couple of slugs into the guy’s head.
Way cool, a lot like Antonio Banderas’ unforgettable gunplay in “Desperado” (Salma Hayek also is unforgettable in that movie, for a completely different reason). There was nothing as memorable in “Suspect Zero,” a movie that had a lot of unrealized potential.
I mean, the idea of a serial murderer escaping detection because he has absolutely zero pattern to his modus operandi is a terrific Black Zen concept. And matching him up against a telepathic agent should have made for a riveting story line. Instead, I was more paper-clipped to the screen, not riveted.
My next “the wife’s away” move was to purchase a DVD recorder at Best Buy. A weekend filled with cinematic violence and new technology: that’s pure joy. After spending more time researching potential DVD recorder alternatives on the Internet than a $299 purchase merits, I ended up with a Panasonic DVD/VCR combo.
It was a good choice. I felt a techno-chill up my spine when I slipped a VCR tape in one slot and a blank DVD disk in another, then held down a single button for three seconds and watched the recording process start to flow from archaic to modern media. The Panasonic even makes neat “alive” thumbnails on the DVD’s index, such that you see a snippet of what has been recorded.
When it came to hooking up the Panasonic to a DISH Network digital video recorder and our TV, however, I had a much tougher time. I always wonder in such situations, faced with a maze of cables and wires filling the space behind the television cabinet, how the proverbial Grandma who just bought a DVD recorder to go with her satellite system manages. I was on the verge of tearing out the hair that I have left, until I realized that an connection might work better if I pushed some plug gizmos in all the way so they actually connected to something.
Bingo. After I successfully transferred a “taped” program from the digital video recorder to a DVD in the Panasonic machine, I could hear the Mission Impossible theme playing in my head with a voiceover: “Excellent work, Brian. Mission accomplished. You’re Top Gun now” (I like to mix and match Tom Cruise movie-metaphors).
I successfully took care of the birds, deck plants, and Serena also, finding time to fill the feeders, water, spray the dog’s fungus foot, and de-burr her in-between my violent movie watching and DVD recorder deciphering.
By the way, if you’ve been following the ups and more ups of Serena’s weight—and if you haven’t, shame on you—I’m proud to report that the Hines’ pet companion has attained her proper poundage: 69.7 as of her June 22 Pet Health Report Card.
We were told by the vet: “Your dog is bright and friendly.” Well, of course. And “It has good body conformation with normal weight and muscle mass for age and breed.” Hmmmm. Why not just say beautiful instead of “good body conformation”? And what’s the deal with “It”? Serena is a she. A normal weight she now, thanks in large part, no doubt, to the parmesan cheese diet I put her on after the vet criticized my practice of putting chunks of regular cheese in her dinner.
I could have wimped out and done exactly what the vet wanted, but that’s not my style. No sir. Live life to the fullest, that’s me. Going all out with DVD recorder buying, violent movie renting, parmesan cheese in the dog bowl-ing, oh yeah. Still wild and crazy after all these years.