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So, last night — actually, very early this morning — I was delivered my annual dose of disappointment in the form of the Chicago Cubs’ final loss of the season.

It always happens: The Cubs always lose their last game of the postseason because, as we all know, the Cubs never win the World Series (100 years and counting, now) … and only the team that manages to do that ever wins its last game. When it comes to the postseason, anyway.

Bah, humbug!

And the day started out so promisingly (is that even a word?) …

Tennis at 10 a.m., and though I didn’t play particularly well — I had getting-it-over-the-net and keeping-it-on-the-court issues, combined with my usual not-moving-my-feet issues (my serve was coming in pretty good, though!) — playing tennis with this particular foursome (Diane, Amy, Sarah and me) is always fun. And the weather was PERFECT: I told myself (and maybe the others? I cannot recall) that it was the kind of day that made you feel like you wanted to go outside and do everything.

(Looks like today might be another one of those days. Durn those Cubs for keeping me up so late and leaving me bleary-eyed this a.m.!)

After tennis, a swing by the ATM and Taco Hell for some crunchy tacos and a Pepsi, then home to get cleaned up. I had a couple of hours before Diane, Cindy and I would be heading out for dinner and a movie (not necessarily in that order), so I thought, how about a drive to the lake to check out the fall colors? (They’re not quite there just yet, but in a few days, they just might be spectacular!)

We went to see Beverly Hills Chihuahua, which I must give an enthusiastic two thumbs — er, perhaps two paws! — up.

I knew I’d get roped into seeing this movie as soon as I saw the first preview, in no small part because of the fact that the dearly departed Chico was, indeed, a Chihuahua. I had about the same level of excitement regarding this movie as I’d had about Live Free or Die Hard, whenever that was (last summer? this summer? I’m having total brain fog at the moment; I think it was last summer), and, wouldn’t you know it, once again I was very pleasantly surprised. And entertained: No deep thinking involved, just a simple plot, cute doggies and lots of laughs — and I’ll even admit, I got a little teary-eyed in a couple of places.

Dinner at 17th Street Bar & Grill was not the greatest, primarily because I deviated from my usual pork BBQ sandwich and opted for the pulled chicken. BIG mistake: The chicken was dry, and not even extra sauce or spice rub could render it edible. Fortunately, the baked beans (almost every kind of bean you can think of, with a sweet, sassy sauce!) and the potato salad (I swear there’s some form of ranch dressing in there!) were tasty, as usual, so I managed to fill up on those.

Back in town, I went out to the high school to see the Best of the Beatles: The Pete Best Band performing. Starring — you know — Pete Best: The Beatles’ original drummer. The guy who got fired and was replaced by Ringo Starr. The guy House mentioned on last week’s episode of House, M.D. when he and his assistants were doing differential diagnonsense (that’s a Girl, Interrupted reference for those of you who aren’t paying close attention!).

Can you imagine being young and in a band with all your “mates” (isn’t that what they’re called in England?) and being told you’re not good enough — and then having the band become the phenomenon known as the Beatles? Arguably the best, most popular band ever? (I’m torn on whether they were or not; perhaps this will stir some lively debate for the “Comments” section of my bloggie?)

Anyhoo, apparently, Pete Best is actually the second Beatle ever to visit Benton. George Harrison visited his sister, Louise, who resided here, during the 1960s. Unbelievable!

To be quite honest, the show was pretty good. The Pete Best Band did a nice job with its own music and, of course, some Beatles tunes, including my favorite, “P.S. I Love You” — which surprised me so much that they were halfway through it before I realized, hey, they’re playing my favorite Beatles song, and started singing along:

As I write this letter (o-oh)
Send my love to you (you know I want you to)
Remember that I’ll always (yeah-ah)
Be in love with you …

I didn’t stay for the whole show, so I’m not sure if they got around to playing my close-second-favorite Beatles song, “Here Comes the Sun” … but I did get to hear a guy playing that song on an acoustic guitar a couple of weeks ago when a busload of senior citizens came to town for the day, so I’m actually quite good on live Beatles covers, thank you.

I left the concert just in time to hit the couch early in the Cubs-Dodgers game.

Sadly, I probably shouldn’t have bothered because, much like their first two games against LA, the Cubs just didn’t have it. In no small part because the Dodgers played so well, but mostly because the Cubs really weren’t in the game.

Heck, let’s be honest: They really weren’t in the entire series.

Still, they had a great “regular” season, winning 97 games, including both the games I got to see in person. A bitter ending, true, as their postseason losing streak reached nine games (counting last season’s sweep by Arizona and dating back to the NLCS debacle in 2003 … but even that postseason wasn’t a total loss because I got to watch two of those National League Championship Series games on a big-screen TV alongside some of my favorite pals from college in the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas), but I still say having a competitive team to watch throughout the summer is worth going through the inevitable heartache when the Cubs actually do make it into the playoffs.

On that note, how about a couple of photos from the concert?

Not sure who that guy in the dark suit is, but he caught my eye from across the gymnasium because he was doing this sort of slide-step dance to every song performed by the Pete Best Band.

I was mildly disappointed not to find a decent movie playing somewhere on cable Saturday morning; however, my frame of mind improved once I realized how nice the weather was. Plus, the usual suspects were in town for the weekend, and that meant one thing:

Baseball.

Shannon, Diane, Johnell (sp?) and Samantha vs. me, John, Shelby and Shane, for all the marbles — on this day, at least. (I think my team won, but after a while, it became a matter of which team could keep all its players interested in the game. Stinkin’ girls!)

Once I broke free for the evening and headed home, though, I checked the preview channel once again and saw that Breakfast at Tiffany’s was playing on Turner Classic Movies. Perfect! I thought, as I had never seen this film nor read the book — although, admittedly, I had been intrigued by it ever since watching George Costanza’s antics while he was trying to prove to his girlfriend that he was, indeed, capable of reading an actual book. (He eventually tracks down the people who are watching the movie on video, invites himself in, helps himself to juice and popcorn, shushes the mom when she returns, quibbles with the daughter over whether he “called” his seat or not and ends up spilling grape juice all over the family’s couch.)

Of course, thanks to that episode of Seinfeld, I started watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s with the notion that Paul Varjak was gay.

Other than that, to be honest, I had no idea what the movie was about, going in.

All I really know, afterwards, is that I am even more smitten with Audrey Hepburn than I was before. And as for the film’s “hosts,” Carrie Fisher and some white-haired guy whose name escapes me at the moment (and, yes, I am WAY too unconcerned to Google), saying that Miss Hepburn’s accent wasn’t right and that they believed Marilyn Monroe should have been cast as Holly Golightly, I say: HA! Get real!

Audrey Hepburn gets my vote for Most Beautiful Screen Actress Ever. Not just because of this film, but this one certainly helped me decide. In fact, I am now rethinking an earlier decision that Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty in Splendor in the Grass had my vote for Most Beautiful Screen Couple Ever, in large part because of Audrey, but also because George Peppard — in this movie, at least — is pretty good-looking, too. (Still have to give the edge to Warren, though, mostly ’cause he has such great damn hair! And I wonder: Did Warren Beatty and Audrey Hepburn ever star in a film together? Wow, that might’ve been enough beauty on the silver screen, all at once, to cause an actual explosion!)

Anyhoo, I enjoyed Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Mostly for Audrey and George, but also because I suspect I, too, have occasionally suffered a case of “the mean reds.” And also because they did, indeed, go back and find the cat. (OK, OK, I admit it: That scene made me well up a little bit.)

On Sunday, I ran across a couple of “old” favorites: Vanilla Sky and As Good as It Gets — both of which I have on DVD, but of course I never seem to be able to take my eyes off either movie when I run across them on cable. (What can I say? I enjoy commercials!)

Vanilla Sky is sorta trippy and weird, and it still takes me back to a particularly trippy and weird situation I was going through at the time I first saw it. Five-plus years later, though, I’m pretty laid-back and normal (relatively speaking), so the film doesn’t have quite the same effect on me now.

Still makes me feel a lot, though, and some of the scenes and songs still get to me. Not because of then, but just because they do. And I still consider this one of my favorite films.

Same with As Good as It Gets, as far as being a favorite. The performances are so perfect in this movie, and it has become one that I find myself quoting, right along with Simon and Melvin and even Carol.

I rounded out the day/night by watching parts of a couple of other Jack Nicholson movies, Anger Management and The Shining. Can’t say I’d rate Anger Management as a fave, but it did make me laugh out loud a couple of times. (Still not a big fan of Adam Sandler movies, yet I find myself drawn to his new one, Reign over Me.)

As for The Shining: When it first came out, I couldn’t bear to watch the previews, this film looked SO stinkin’ scary! I still am not crazy about watching it when I’m alone; there’s just something so maniacally homicidal about Jack Torrance. (I still say the book is better because you get SO much further inside his mind, but … not bad if you want to get a little creeped out for a couple of hours!)

Much like last weekend when I happened upon Love Actually first thing Saturday a.m., this Saturday ended up being a good movie day, too. Mostly during early afternoon on a day that was far too cold for playing — or even venturing! — outside, I discovered that two of my “old favorites,” Frequency and Big Fish, were playing on USA Network.

I fell in love with Frequency not long after it came out. I’d been wanting to see it but hadn’t managed to when it was in the theater, so, one Saturday night, The Lovely and I rented it. I had no idea how much the plot device of modern-day John Sullivan being able to communicate with his father, circa-1960s Frank Sullivan, via Frank’s ham radio would remind me of my own father and his love of CB radios.

Dad — better known in those days by his CB handle, “The Hustler” — had just about every gadget imaginable as part of his “base unit,” a Cobra model something-or-something, call letters KCPO362, boosted by a 50-foot tower on top of his double-wide. He gave Debra and me a 3-channel walkie-talkie to start out with, then a mobile (car) unit and then one of his old bases when he upgraded to a new unit.

He would talk on that thing day and night. If we couldn’t get ahold of him on the phone, we’d try the CB — he was always around.

In Frequency, John Sullivan is a cop who’s a bit of a lost soul, in no small part because he has spent most of his life without his father, a firefighter who died when John was a kid. Once the two make sort of a “back to the future/time-space continuum” connection via the airwaves, though, they are able to change history: John basically saves Frank’s life by telling him to take a different turn during the formerly fatal fire. In doing this, however, they alter other events as well — among them, a rash of serial killings that John, a New York police officer, has been investigating.

All in all, this film is a very good drama, with a fair amount of intrigue mixed in.

Mostly, though, it slays me when Frank tells John he loves him, and John replies, “I’ve missed you so much.”

Big Fish, too, is one of those father/son bonding films. I saw this one during one of my January trips to Indy, and I have to admit, I was underwhelmed by my initial viewing of it. Then, sometime later, I watched it again on TV. And again. And then it all clicked.

Yeah, it’s kind of silly in parts, and it certainly helps if you’re a Billy Crudup fan (which I am, majorly) or a Jessica Lange fan (ditto!) or especially a Ewan McGregor fan (which I am not, necessarily, but I could be … and if I ever get around to watching Moulin Rouge, I’m sure I will be). And the part where Sandra Bloom gets into the tub with Edward and tells him, “I don’t think I’ll every dry out” … whoa. I am slain again.

Good flicks. Good weekend.

Another positive aspect was the Scrabble competition that went on between The Lovely and me. Positive because we had two oh-so-close games, Saturday and Sunday evening, and also because I have finally learned how to score — rather than merely be impressed with my clever use of letters. (Previously, I was a lot like a basketball player who was content to hit a 3-pointer from 30 feet, once a season, as opposed to a true scorer who took the ball to the hole as often as possible, hoping to get fouled every time for a chance to tally more points.)

Now watching: The last few minutes of this week’s Amazing Race All-Stars, mostly ’cause they’re whitewater rafting. Been there, done thatand fell overboard and lived to tell about it! (I was pushed, I tell ya. Pushed!)

OK, so the only 2006 film I saw that was nominated for a Best Picture-related honor at last night’s Academy Awards was Cars. And it got beat out by that silly Happy Feet. Which, OK, I admit, I didn’t see … but my sister HATED Happy Feet. HATED it — with the kind of hatred I have witnessed only once in recent memory: Yes, she HATED Vanilla Sky — which, admittedly, I loved, so perhaps our movie tastes aren’t all that much in line, but still.

Happy Feet over Cars? Say it ain’t so.

Oh, and kudos to Helen Mirren, who has been a favorite of mine since Joe Anne got me hooked on that Prime Suspect series on PBS. (Still haven’t seen the series finale. Grrr!) And to former Fast Times guy Forest Whitaker.

What a pleasant surprise to wake up (kinda early, but not really) on a dreary, rainy Saturday morning to find one of my favorite movies, Love Actually, playing on USA. Even if it’s sort of a Christmas movie, and it’s not yet enough of a favorite that I already know all the key lines or whatever.

And maybe I’ve said it before, but the scene in which Karen (Emma Thompson) reacts to receiving the Joni Mitchell CD is so perfectly right on and devastating … damn. Really, though, I really really like the entire film. Especially Alan Rickman. And Bill Nighy. And all those other Brits … including the guy who loves Juliet (Keira Knightley) but realizes there’s pretty much absolutely nothing he can do about it: “Enough. Enough now.”

Yuck, rain.

Yay, movies!

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