Is it too early for Halloween?

I just started reading the gothic novel “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley. I don’t know what took me so long. I still recall watching the 1931 movie version starring Boris Karloff, and many other versions, so the monster story is very familiar.

Back in the ‘60’s when I was a kid there was a television program called “Creature Features” that came on every Saturday night that played all the old vampire, lagoon creature and “Frankenstein” movies. It was an awesome way to spend an evening around the popcorn bowl with the family.

I have to say Shelley’s writing has me hooked. She doles out just enough information to let your imagination go wild. I can tell I am really going to enjoy it.

But I was so surprised how the novel began. It starts out with a self-absorbed man looking for the North Pole. During his voyage into icy waters littered with sheets of treacherous ice, he comes across a man, and one remaining dog attached to a sled, that have fallen through the ice. There is a rescue involved and the waterlogged gent recovers to tell a long story about his interesting life.

The family name of “Frankenstein” is finally mentioned on page 76 and that is where things get interesting. Need I say more?

A love story at Trader Joe’s

Why has it taken me so long to be formally introduced to Trader Joe’s? I know … what galaxy am I from … right?

Before last week I only knew some basic tidbits about Trader Joe’s. First, it is a grocery-related type of establishment started way out west in California. Second, they are apparently famous for selling Two Buck Chuck … a “cheap” wine beverage. That’s it! I knew nothin’ else about the place. Hey, I live in the Houston area. We’ve only just recently gotten a couple of Trader Joe’s locations. It made huge news here in Texas.

The fun part about writing a blog is sometimes you gotta go on a field trip when an idea creeps into your head. With camera in tow, I drove the 20+ miles to the Houston location on South Shepherd to figure out for myself just what was so special about Trader Joe’s. Oh, and get something for dinner. I’m always struggling with what to make for dinner.

So Trader Joe’s opened a store in an old building that used to be a bookstore … that used to be a movie theater. The theater was called the Alabama Theater. Hubby and I saw “Love Story” in that building when it came out on one of our first dates. I still recall the tears in Rick’s eyes. We were waiting in a long line to go in. And no … the tears had nothin’ to do with the storyline. The dude was knowingly going to watch a chick flick.

Thankfully, Trader Joe’s kept lots of the architectural elements of the old theater building. I liked that. The bright red grocery carts were also a nice touch. I was a little confused about the Fearless Flyer. I think it’s a list of specials but I could be wrong. I put one in my cart to read later but it disappeared. I think the check-out lady swiped it. Recycling must be one of their agendas.

I wandered around and around the aisles for about an hour picking up a few items here and there. My daughter told me I would do that. My friend, Beth, told me the mac and cheese with four cheeses on the frozen food aisle was awesome! Got it! Oh, and don’t forget about the cheesecake in the bright blue box, also frozen food.

I took a picture of the famous Two Buck Chuck. Totally expected it to be packaged in a plastic bottle. Wasn’t I surprised to learn Chuck is actually Charles Shaw Winery? And the glass bottle and label is actually quite nice looking. Oh, and it cost $2.99 and comes in lots of “flavors.” Wasn’t brave enough to get a bottle. Next time.

Just so you know … I’ve never had an In-N-Out Burger either. I know … I might as well be from Pluto … and it isn’t even a planet anymore!

Scent of a Woman

We were channel surfing the other night snuggled on the couch flipping in an earnest attempt to find a movie that would hold our attention. There were several options that looked interesting. Rick stopped when he came across “Scent of a Woman.” It’s one of those movies played on television on a regular basis. Rats! Almost thirty minutes of the movie was already gone. I hate when that happens.

“You know I’ve never seen that movie from the very beginning to very end,” I said.

“Me neither. I’ve seen plenty of it, but in bits and pieces. How about we stream it and watch the whole thing?” Rick said.

If you have never seen the movie … in a peanut shell it’s about what happens over a Thanksgiving weekend between a flamboyant retired Army colonel, Frank Slade, and a poor prep school student, Charlie Sims. Charlie, portrayed by Chris O’Donnell, is hired to be Frank’s caretaker for a few days. Cranky Frank is played by Al Pacino and won his first Oscar for the role.

Frank has recently become blind. He also has an interesting gift for being able to tell what perfume scent a woman is wearing. The guy does have a tiny sliver of a charming dimension to him. There is a very memorable dance scene. Frank teaches the tango to a beautiful young lady sitting all alone in a swanky restaurant waiting for her date. The whole scene is breathtaking.

But back to what happens before the tango. So poor Frank is having major issues. Poor guy. He’s recently become blind because of a dumb accident and living with young family members in a dumpy garage apartment. The dude is not a happy camper and expresses his displeasure with quite a potty mouth.

Now Charlie is himself having quite a crisis. He is on the verge of expulsion from his prep school over a prank he witnessed from afar right before the Thanksgiving break. The headmaster is focused on poor and moral Charlie and it looks like he will be the fall guy in the whole sordid affair when school resumes. Major tension ensues.

The part of the movie Rick and I never saw was the “prank” the rich kids performed on the headmaster of the school. It’s pretty awesome! I always wondered why the headmaster had his big boy pants in such a wad. Now I totally get it. The whole movie made so much more sense after seeing the first thirty minutes.

My guess is we’ll be using the television as a source for older great movies to stream from now on. No more missing key parts of character development like why the rich kids were such twits … or the headmaster was lacking moral character … and why I really, really cared about Charlie Sims.