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Gazing into the Abyss: Michael Rawdon's Journal


To Catch a Thief

Friday night Debbi and I went to the Stanford Theatre to see one of the few '50s Hitchcock films I hadn't seen before: To Catch a Thief (1955), part of their complete Cary Grant festival. Grant stars as John Robie, an American who has mostly lived in France and who was an infamous jewel thief before World War II. He was eventually captured and put in jail, but during the war he joined the French Resistance and distinguished himself, earning a parole, and he's been straight ever since. Now, however, someone is filching jewelry on the Riviera using Robie's M.O. from his days as "The Cat", and he decides to try to apprehend the thief himself, especially since the police suspect him! Robie also ends up in a little love triangle with Danielle Foussard (Brigette Auber), the daughter of a friend from the Resistance, and Frances Stevens (Grace Kelly), daughter of a potential robbery victim.

Thief is one of Hitchcock's lighter films, especially compared to his other '50s work such as Vertigo and North by Northwest. The film often seemed like an excuse to show a lot of beautiful women in cleavage-revealing gowns (it being about jewelry, after all). Not that I, uh, minded that. It's also fairly whimsical in its humor and situations, and is joyful to watch. It never seems entirely serious, actually.

The centerpiece of the film are the many and impressive shots of the French countryside, often from the air. It sure does look lovely, especially on the dazzlingly bright color film of the era.

I did figure out who the culprit was well ahead of time, which made me feel pleased. But I still enjoyed the film thoroughly.

The back end of the double feature was An Affair to Remember, which I saw back in 1999. As you may know, I'm not much of a romantic, but I enjoyed this film more than I thought I would the second time around, especially Grant's reactions at the film's climax. I still agree with my earlier assessment that the premise and some of its particularly are entirely implausible, but in particular regarding the acting I think today that it's stronger than my earlier review suggests.


Last night we went to a ballgame: Rangers at Athletics. It's the 30th anniversary of the 1972 Oakland A's world championship - their first of three. I think only the Yankees have won three in a row since then. So the pregame ceremonies included the introduction of a number of players from that team, including pitcher Vida Blue, manager Dick Williams, and series hero Gene Tenace. It was pretty neat. And the game itself featured the A's in 1972 yellow uniforms, and the Rangers in 1961 Washington Senators outfits (and truly bland uniforms they were, too).

The big downside to the game was that we were sitting next to a woman who had clearly - from the scrapbook she had with her - been a fan of the 72 A's. That in itself wasn't the problem; the problem was the shrill whistling she did every time anything happened on the field: A veteran player was introduced, an out was made, a strike was thrown, a team in some other city scored a run, etc. It was pretty annoying, and my eardrum may never be the same. I took care when telling Debbi about some of the players to point out the weaknesses of the woman's apparent favorite players (Tejada isn't known for his patience at the plate) and saying a few nice things about the visitors (Alex Rodriguez is probably the best player in the game). I was also pleased when people sat in front of us, forcing her to move the pile of crap she'd brought with her.

The game itself was not great, until the 9th inning when Billy Koch gave up a game-tying homer to Rafael Palmiero. In the bottom of the inning, though, the A's drew three walks and then Olmedo Saenz took a ball off his hip to give the A's a 6-5 victory. I don't think I've ever seen the winning run driven in via a hit-by-pitch before. Weird!

Still, it's always nice to get out to the ballpark.


I received my new Handspring Visor Neo on Friday, and spent part of yesterday setting it up. It's deep red. My old Visor Pro was showing signs of giving up the ghost (for instance, it would no longer synch with a computer), so I wanted to replace it before I lost all my data (birthdays, want lists, passwords, etc.).

Friday I tried to set up a dentist appointment, but it turns out that the dentist a friend recommended is no longer accepting new patients from our dental plan, since the plan (they feel) is not very friendly towards dentists. So I'll have to find someone else. Sigh. I also made little headway on the returned-check problem I had last week, but I got another number to call and I'll call them tomorrow and hopefully talk with someone better informed.

Lastly, today I made an lamb-in-cream-sauce dish from my Indian cookbook for dinner, which turns out well even though I burned some of the meat a bit. It'll serve as dinner for me for several days. (The book, incidentally, is Classic Indian Cooking, by Julie Sahni.) It was actually the second meal I cooked today, although the first was merely homemade garlic bread. The neat thing there is that the garlic came from my garden! Left over from the previous owner, I think. I have a whole bunch left and will have to find other things to cook with it.

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