June 7, 2007

How hail 4+" in diameter caused me to see 18 films.

So I was just hanging around at home, trying to get some reading done, and I see reports predicting hailstorms -- hail 4 1/2 inches in diameter -- baseball size! I have never seen anything close to baseball-sized hail. And I don't keep my car in a garage. So I pack up my things and drive to the mall where there's a covered garage and a café with WiFi.

That was over 5 hours ago.

At the café, I ran into a friend and had a long conversation, then drank coffee and got absorbed into the laptop for who knows how much reading and writing. Still, no storm. It was after 5, so I moved upstairs to the Bistro, drank some wine, ate a salad and continued to fool around with the computer. Still no storm, but the scary baseball-hail was still predicted. It was nearly 7, so I paid the check and went downstairs to the theater.

Surely, the length of a movie will give the hail time enough to come through. I bought a ticket for "Paris, je t'aime," which is 18 short films -- all set in Paris -- from 18 directors. I emerged from the theater 2 hours later, hoping to see piles of hail-baseballs outside, telling me it's okay to go home. But, no, nothing seems to have happened. So I'm sitting in the café again, writing this, wondering if I can leave. Has the hail passed us by?

So let me while away a few more minutes and say the film anthology was swell. The films were so short that I didn't get too impatient -- my usual problem. If anything seemed not so good, it would go away very soon. And all the films were pretty good. The only one I disliked was the vampire thing with Elijah Wood, and even that was bad in an absurd enough way to put up with. My favorite was "Tuileries," which starred Steve Buscemi and was directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. Just a little scene in the subway, with an American tourist who reads in his guidebook, after staring at a reproduction of the "Mona Lisa" that in Paris, you shouldn't make eye contact with people. Then he makes eye contact with a woman, etc. etc.

Various French and American stars show up for their short sequence. Juliette Binoche is very touching. She encounters Willem DaFoe, who's a dream-cowboy. Ben Gazzara has a turn with Gena Rowlands -- they're in a restaurant, and the waiter is Gérard Depardieu. Who is this Margo Martindale? She appears in a very affecting film, the last one, directed by Alexander Payne, who, in an earlier sequence, played Oscar Wilde, suddenly appearing next to his grave in Pere-Lachaise Cemetery.

Still, no baseball hail. The hell with it. (The hail with it.) I can't stay here forever. I'm taking my

ADDED: ... chances. (Somehow, I neglected to finish that sentence. Failed to write "chances." Fortunately, I made it home alive. Or that would have been freaky. For you.)

UPDATE: "Severe Storm a Non-event in Madison."


Bob said...

Maybe there should be a Hyperbole Scale for describing hailstones:

Marble Sized Hail: just larger than sleet

Golf Ball Sized Hail: nearly marble sized

Baseball Sized Hail: golf ball sized (one or two of them, if you stretch it a bit)

Softball Sized Hail: Phone the station and ask that the meteorologist be fired for gross distortions of the truth.

Emy L. Nosti said...

Pansy. I went sailing.

(And don't forget the tornadoes—I believe there were 5+ touch-downs in WI.)

Revenant said...

My favorite was "Tuileries," which starred Steve Buscemi

He's kinda funny-lookin'. More than most people, even.

hdhouse said...

so let me capsulize - hail could ruin car, seeks refuge in a mall garage, gets caffeine, talks with old friend, reads, drinks and eats, endless parade of french short form works, drives home....

and we don't get a picture? we don't see a chipmonk peeing, no half eaten bats with ants in their eyes....no fellini moments?

my cat is eating a lizard in they foyer with a knife and fork. the closet is inviting but cold. death, life, what is in my salad. die i must but you first. is this the best cheese on the counter. my sister my love.

Ann Althouse said...

I'd've had some cool pictures if it had hailed!

Sorry about the chipmunk urine though. That crossed the line.

Invisible Man said...


I took my gf to go see this on Wednesday, and despite my sci-fi, action and war film tastes found it to be as enjoyable as any film that I've seen this year.

I completely agree that the Elijah Wood/vampire take was easily the worst. I found Margo and her hilariously monotone basic-French piece to be the best film, while my gf thought that the feisty Gene Rowlands divorce film was better. "The Tuileries" was hilarious though I was rooting for that pee-shooting smug french kid to get his and Wes Craven's Oliver Wilde was about as unexpectedly good as it gets. Also, I'm pretty cynical generally, but I thought that piece on the young mother who had to take that excruciating ride to work and the lovesick murdered immigrant were as touching as anything that I've seen on film in years. Great movie.

Smilin' Jack said...

You had a chance to see a hailstorm with 4" hailstones and you went to a movie instead? What would you do during a total solar eclipse...turn on the light and read a book?

Brettlander said...


For what it's worth, I've found that I don't need my local weatherman anymore (for the most part) thanks to always-available radar imagery online.

Just bookmark your local radar-image-loop from the Nat'l Weather Service, and you can get a pretty good idea of which direction the storms are going and when severe weather is going to be hitting you.

Your region:

Ann Althouse said...

I was looking at on-line stuff, including radar.

I would have liked to see the hail, but it kept not being there, for hours. I finally went to the movie to kill some more time before venturing home.