Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!


It's been a slow week for blogging. I wrote a post on Thursday about the weather but Blogger seems to have eaten it or something. (Current weather: snowfall, looks like a Christmas card.) The holiday week has been very nice and we're rolling towards a nice calm conclusion. I might have mentioned this before but New Year's is my favorite holiday. My reasons have to do with rebirth, renewal and starting over. Throw in a party and some fireworks and you've got something good going on.
Anyway, be good to yourselves in the next year!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Great Gatsby It Is

Now I need to find my copy. I remember it as a shorter book. I don't remember a natural breaking point but maybe someone with the actual book handy can help me with that. Anyway, we'll figure out some kind of deadline to finish it by (19th January?).
Hope this one is good.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Sloooooow day...

The slowest work week of the year is the one between Christmas and New Year's. Very few people book travel at this time. How slow was it? I fielded a grand total of one (1) call today. This gave me time to read about 200 pages and hit every (nonblocked) part of the internet that I wanted. The rest of the week will be much the same. Oh well...

Saturday, December 23, 2006

My Tower

Someday this will be me. (I only want six stories. That's not so wrong.)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Viking thoughts

  • That was the kind of game where the winning team is kind of ashamed afterwards. The losing team is defintly ashamed. Bad, bad, bad.
  • They do know that they're allowed to throw the ball past the first down marker, yes? They don't have to run past it on the ground. Seriously, throw a twelve yard pass.
  • It's now hard to tell if the bad offense was the quarterback or the playcalling. Jackson probably took fewer sacks but the game was still pitiful.
  • What was worse, the constant penalties? Or the dropped balls? These are the worst Viking receivers in a generation. This is also the most penalized team I can ever remember. Is this what life feels like as a Raider's fan?
  • Hats off to Favre. The Packers have won at least two more games than I expected them to. Some of it is the defense but he deserves credit too. And he threw the game's only touchdown.
  • NFL Network? Eh. The production level was low and the camera work was spotty. Collinsworth wasn't bad. Gumbel sounded lost all game. He has watched football before, right?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Next Novel?

Ok, so I'm ready to read another novel from the list. Last time Carrie joined in. Not sure if anyone else wants to this time, but I'm opening it up for opinions anyway. There are three that I'm thinking of:
Catch 22 - Heller
A Farewell to Arms - Hemingway
The Great Gatsby - Fitzgerald

Any interest? And if so, which one should we read?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Random Tuesday stuff

  • Day two with the house to myself and I haven't had much chance to enjoy it. I've had a couple of days of training at work and that means earlier mornings. Ick.
  • Last week while walking out at the MOA, we noticed a gathering at the, uh, gathering place. We noticed it from the third floor but couldn't tell what was happening. On our second floor pass it seemed that they were still warming up the crowd but we couldn't tell what was going on. One more floor down and they introduced the guests, Hulk Hogan and daughter. That's right, we saw the Hulkster. Who says nothing happens in Minnesota?
  • Speaking of which, it turns out that Minneapolis is a Gamma class global city. Who knew?
  • That's about it.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sunbeam

My Antonia - Willa Cather

What was life like in the frontier days of the southern Nebraska plains? It was hard but merry. It was a melting pot of new immigrants combining different cultures and languages. It was a time when you depended on your neighbors and had to look out for each other.
Cather's book reads like another Laura Ingalls Wilder book. It has the same big winters and primitive houses. What it adds is a section where the protagonist grows up and goes off to the big city. There is also an element of longing for an unrequited love.
Is this a great book? Not really. It was an enjoyable read (and smaller than expected). It's an interesting period of history but not as interesting as many other periods of time. A good book.
(I finished this over two months ago but forgot to put up a review!)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Mississippi Burning - 1988

In 1964, three civil rights activists disappered in Mississippi. There were immeadiate fears of wrong doing although residents of Mississippi were certain that they were up north stirring up trouble. It probably didn't matter as there was widespread belief that they were only creating trouble in an area that they didn't understand.
Two FBI agents are sent down to investigate. One of them (Gene Hackman) is from the south and understands it's ways. The other (Willem Dafoe) is a northener who wants to use bureau procedure to proceed. The investigation does not go well. Finding information is very difficult and the locals are afraid to talk to them. Manpower doesn't work. Publicity doesn't work.
Finally, Hackman takes over and uses more brutal methods. He pursues justice at any cost and by whatever method is needed. This involves kidnapping and brutality. The KKK ring is broken and several of the ringleaders are jailed.
Of all the movies in this project that have focused on racism in the south, this was the most powerful. Hackman in particular is very good. The storyline is very well laid out. This is a great movie.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Answers 41-50

Cities 41-50

South Dakota - Sioux Falls
Tennessee - Memphis
Texas - Houston
Utah - Salt Lake City
Vermont - Burlington
Virginia - Virginia Beach
Washington - Seattle
West Virginia - Charleston
Wisconsin - Milwaukee
Wyoming - Cheyenne

Nicknames (in a different order)
"Home of Hospitality"
"The Bluff City"
"Brew City"
"Crossroads of the West"
"Queen City"
"Magic City of the Plains"
"Space City"
"The Emerald City"
(Two of these cities have no nickname.)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Life as a younger brother

Cities 31-40

New Mexico - Albuquerque
New York - New York City
North Carolina - Charlotte
North Dakota -Fargo
Ohio - Columbus
Oklahoma - Oklahoma City
Oregon - Portland
Pennsylvania - Philadelphia
Rhode Island - Providence
South Carolina - Columbia

Nicknames (in a different order)
"The Naked City"
"Capital of the New Century"
"The Duke City"
"The Queen City"
"The Renaissance City"
"The Discovery City"
"City of Brotherly Love"
"The Capital of Southern Hospitality"
"Gateway to the West"
"The City of Roses"

Answers 31-40

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Answers 21-30

Cities 21-30

Massachusetts - Boston
Michigan - Detroit
Minnesota - Minneapolis
Mississippi - Jackson
Missouri - Kansas City
Montana - Billings
Nebraska - Omaha
Nevada - Las Vegas
New Hampshire - Manchester
New Jersey - Newark

Nicknames (in a different order)
"The Brick City"
"City of Lakes"
"City of Fountains"
"Queen City"
"The Cradle of Liberty"
"City Beneath the Rims"
"Sin City"
"Motor City"
"Gateway to the West"
"Crossroads of the South"

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Test

So...last Thursday was a big day. I got home from work at the usual time. It had been a long day and I was glad to be going home. When I walked in the door, the FP Gal told me that she'd taken some cute shots of Ozzie and I should see them. Then she walked into the kitchen.
I plugged the camera into the computer and downloaded the photos. There had been some strange problem with the camera's memory the weekend before that resulted in some pictures being 'hidden' or something like that. The download thumbnails only showed one new picture and it didn't look like a cat. So I went look at this month's pictures in slideshow and the new picture looked like this:

It took me a few seconds to translate. Then I asked her, "Are you telling me something?" She was peeking around the corner with that adorable smile of hers. The message was clear. There was lots of hugging and kissing. And then some discussion of test accuracy. And then lots of deciding how soon to tell people. The original plan had us holding out until Christmas. Obviously, that didn't last.
Anyway, we're very excited. More updates (and the entire name debate) to follow.

Answers 11-20

Monday, December 11, 2006

Cities 11-20

Hawaii - Honolulu
Idaho - Boise
Illinois - Chicago
Indiana - Indianapolis
Iowa - Des Moines
Kansas - Wichita
Kentucky - Louisville
Louisiana - New Orleans
Maine - Portland
Maryland - Baltimore

Nicknames (in a different order)
"The City of Big Shoulders"
"Falls City"
"Charm City"
"Sheltered Bay"
"The Circle City"
"The Crecent City"
"City of Trees"
"Hartford of the West"
"Air Capitol"
"The Forest City"

Answers 1-10

Cities 1-10

Alabama - Birmingham
Alaska - Anchorage
Arizona - Phoneix
Arkansas - Little Rock
California - Los Angeles
Colorado - Denver
Connecticuit - Bridgeport
Deleware - Wilmington
Florida - Jacksonville
Georgia - Atlanta

Nicknames (not in the same order)
"The Park City"
"The Magic City"
"Mile High City"
"Valley of the Sun"
"J-ville"
"The City of Lights and Flowers"
"Hotlanta"
"Chemical Capitol of the World"
"City of Angels"
"Rocktown"

Geography quiz

A few nights ago the FP Gal and I were watching some quiz show and the contestant didn't know what city is known as the Gateway City. I was surprised by that as I thought everyone knew that type of thing. Who doesn't know what city is the 'City of Light'? Or the 'Eternal City'? Or even the 'Marvelous City'?
So I thought I'd put together a little quiz for those who wish to play. Each day this week I'll put up a list of ten states and their biggest city. In a different post I'll leave the answer in a comment. In some cases I skipped a more well known nickname for a more interesting one. And two of them are so lame that they don't even have nicknames. But it might be fun anway.
For the record, I only knew 14 of these before I researched it. And I would have guessed the wrong largest city in at least a dozen. So this involved learning for me too.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

How many people are in this picture?


(Hint: It's more than two. Probably four.)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Kitty pictures




And I have nothing new (bad parent). So here's some old ones.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Dangerous Liasons - 1988

What happens when a pair of vipers stop admiring each other's work and decide to attack each other instead? That's the situation that this movie creates. John Malkovich and Glenn Close play members of the French nobility that have adopted cruelty as a hobby. They delight in manipulating the people around them, creating destruction and humiliation. They also delight in seduction. Most of this story's tricks involve it. Seducing against one's will, seducing from principle and taking advantage of youth and inexperience.
The movie is clever and well put together but it's hard to care for the main characters. The scenery and costumes are very well done. The acting is superb. It's a very good movie.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

$109,990

That's the price for two to take a round the world cruise. Details found here.
The 2007 World Cruise will be longer and more extensive than any global circumnavigation in our history. In 111 days, you'll explore 46 ports in 26 nations, and return with endless memories. and you'll do it all while enjoying the peerless six-star luxury of all-suite, all-balcony Seven Seas Voyager. This unique itinerary sails south from Fort Lauderdale to Rio de Janeiro, then east across the Southern Atlantic to Africa. With 14 overnights in key destinations, you can join optimal multi-day tours that venture deep into the cultures and countries. And many complimentary shore events are already included such as a hotel overnight in Bangkok. From the Seychelles to Shanghai, from Mombasa to Mozambique, you'll discover an intoxicating collection of major cities and intriguing new ports of call.
I'm tempted to say that if anyone is looking for a Christmas gift for the FP Gal and myself (and has an extra house to sell) that this would be perfect. But...111 days. Nearly four months. How long ago was 111 days? August 17th. That's a long time. If you left tomorrow, you'd be home on March 26th. Which isn't a bad idea now that I think of it.
Still, if I had the money I'd do it. If I could still have a job when I got back. And if someone would feed the cats (or could they come with?). And if I could afford not to get paid during that time.
Guess you can always dream...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Random thoughts about the MOA

Last year the FP Gal and I started taking walks at the Mall of America during the winter. It's aged us 40 years but we hear that the exercise is worth it.
  • It's a big place and it's utterly unshoppable if you're not a woman looking to buy clothes. There are a handful of shops that really couldn't exist in a lesser mall and that does make it interesting. It's also fun to see the obvious tourists.
  • Seeing teenage girls there makes me very certain that any daughter of mine will spend the ages of 12-19 in a convent. In that same vein, any parent that lets a young woman wear clothing with writing across the bottom should have their guardianship revoked.
  • Ok, I laughed at the Peanut Butter store (PB Loco). But they offered us a sample of Raspberry/White Chocolate. And that made me want to try some of the other flavors. Tonight I tried the CocoBanana. Yum!
  • Why would they name a large mall after a large flightless bird?
  • The large gingerbread house? It's a cheat. We saw it during construction and it had plenty of non-gingerbread construction.
  • A few weeks back we were walking there and a man dressed in a giant shark costume lunged at me, making me flinch. It was odd, to say the least. About thirty seconds later I had an urge to chase and tackle said shark. I could have made the news.
  • I wish they had a store where you could take a nap! That store would make lots of money.
  • The only clock store in the metro area that can change my watch battery is there. It's run by a crazy woman who is lots of fun. If I had to pick a crazy clock store running woman to date, it would be her.
  • The amusement park should go with a Paul Bunyan theme. They'd be stupid not to.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Brrrrr!

Today was very cold and windy. I'm not sure what the windchill was but the combination was brutal. This was the kind of day that someone always mentions during a hot stretch in the summer. Something along the line of 'you'll miss this in the winter'. But...those aren't the only options. There must be something temperate.
(Must keep working on the FP Gal...)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Happy Birthday

Yesterday the FP Gal and I drove down to Rochester to celebrate my Aunt's birthday. My cousins in that branch of the family are just about as far flung as my family is, so it was a treat to see all of them. The food was good (and plentiful). There was only one small fire and that was put out before the smoke detector activated.
Our family pictures are almost always posed affairs while people are eating so I'm trying to break that mold and take random pictures when people aren't prepared. The third picture here is Tim and Ricky stealing shrimp from Julie. Not pictured is my stand-in attempt for Troy (there was a chair involved).
Good times.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Moops!


An email from Rachel reminded me of this story (that will only be interesting to me). A couple of months ago I was playing a trivia game at work. A question came up, something along the lines of what is modern day Lusitania called. I answered (too quickly) Spain. The answer given was Portugal, which is plainly a more correct answer. But...if you look at the lower map, you can see that a significant part of the province is in modern day Spain. If I'd been a jerk about it, I would have had a case.


I guess the trivia people don't do too well with that part of the world.

Weather

One of the joys of going back to being an active agent is the rather busy weather day. Or days in this case as this storm is slowly rolling eastward. Yesterday, I got to help several people in the Kansas City area try to get back to the East coast. This morning featured panicky calls from Texans who were trying to get home before Chicago was wiped off of the map. Tomorrow will be spent sorting out the mess that American Airlines will be in. Two of their largest hubs are O'Hare in Chicago and Dallas-Fort Worth, both of which got smacked today. Their fleet won't be in position and they're already canceling flights.
This front will hit the eastern cities sometime in the next few days and we'll be treated to news coverage of blizzards. Remember, five inches of snow in DC or New York is a big story. Really.
Meanwhile, we've gone to kind of warm to omigod freezing overnight. Not so much fun. Wonder what the job opportunities in Hawaii are like...?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Shake Rattle and Roll

We had a pretty good thunderstorm this morning. Unusual for post Thanksgiving. It reminded me of some other strange weather here in Minnesota. Back in the heady days of January '96, I remember a night out in Dinkytown playing trivia at BW3. That night brought a violent thunderstorm and heavy heavy rain. Then the temperature dropped rapidly and everything was coated in more than an inch of ice.
The next few days worth of weather was more common in the Arctic Ocean than the upper midwest. Temperatures dropped well below zero (-30?), with windchill being dropping to something like minus 80. Tomorrow's estimated low is 12 degrees. This sounds like the same phenomenon but not as extreme and earlier in the year.
(BTW, it finally rained! Yay!)
Update: According to the news, thunderstorms this late in the year are unusual but not that unusual. Apparently we have one in November on average every other year and one in December once every ten years or so.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Wheels

As the lovely FP Gal noted, we had surprise guests for Thanksgiving. Her parents had a late change of plans and were able to eat with us. After the meal we moved in to the living room where I had the TB/Dal game on. Fox did a brief feature on the Tampa quarterback, Bruce Gradowski. His favorite band is called 'Wheels' and this is the image that they used to illustrate the word 'Wheels'.
You'll note that it's a man on a square wheeled bike riding on a specially made track. The interesting thing is that the FP Gal's father had a hand in making this particular vehicle. The rider in the picture is one of his colleagues. This picture was taken a short walk from his office.
We quickly rewound the TV and took some pictures. Her dad was tickled pink to see his handiwork on national TV. And to think that we wouldn't have seen it if I hadn't insisted that football should be part of our Thanksgiving tradition.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

100 Greatest Cover Tunes of All Time

Just a tremendously fun list found here (via Althouse). Many of these entries have YouTube links to the videos. 'Satisfaction' by Devo is number four. According to the blurb, it's Jager's favorite version. My personal Stones theory is that their music just sounds better when covered by someone else. My favorite is 'Wild Horses' by the Sundays.
If you're a fan of music, take some time and sit down with this list. There is some seriously good stuff on it.

Ozzie's wild week

This could really be a weekly feature but this week has been especially wild.
  • On Sunday he took advantage of rare pizza delivery to slip out the front door. The FP Gal quickly called to me and the chase was on. He quickly ran over to the neighbor's house. I crept up slowly not wanting to startle him into running off. He kept on moving. Another house, and another and under a fence. I went over hoping that there were no dogs there. He got distracted by a garden and I caught him. It was kind of scary and I was most afraid that he would dart out in front of the delivery guy. But he waited until we were taking our escapee back into the house before leaving.
  • Tuesday night found the FP Gal and I at Friday's, celebrating our birthdays. Each of us were given four ballons that were tied to our wrists (two each). I made some joke about putting them on Ozzie's legs. Well, when we got home we tried it. I envisioned he'd walk about very slowly and maybe flop over and try to get them off. Nope. He took off at Mach 2. He did three circuits around to the kitchen and back before they'd both come off. Imagine him trying to duck under tables and benches but these weird things kept chasing him. Very very funny and we hope the FP Gal has video. Sana was not amused.
  • Thursday brought a turkey and all the fixins into the house. Many new scents and things to see. Many lessons about whether he should be on the counter. He also spent a large amount of time on the front and back porches. Then there was company (the FP Gal's parents) and all that excitement. He slept well that night.
  • This morning brought about another adventure. There is a stool that he's adopted in the kitchen. He can sit on that and keep an eye on what we're doing without being on the counter. He settled into a bath there while I was making breakfast. Up popped the toast. Over fell the stool. Off went the glass break alarm. This time I was home to shut off the alarm so the police didn't have to come take a look. I didn't see Ozzie for a good half hour.

50k

I just passed the 50,000 mark and finished the novel this morning. I liked the first two thirds of it, the last third was a chore. Now for some rereading and editing. Just yesterday I stumbled across some notes that I'd written for this story. The notes were at least six months to a year old. Unfortunatly my story idea at the time had a better plot than what I ended up with. So...there may be some rewriting going on too.

Friday, November 24, 2006

NFL predictions

Before the season I made some predictions, mostly tried to predict all eight division winners. Now that we have ten weeks in the books I thought I'd revisit them.
AFC East - Miami Well, at 5-6 they're 2 1/2 back. If the Pats lose on Monday to the Bears, it would only be two games to make up in five weeks. They face a difficult schedule and their fate rests on Joey Harrington. I think I missed this one.
AFC North - Cincinnati Three games back with six to play. Not so good. But...their schedule isn't impossible. They'd would have to win at least five of them to have a chance but I think they can do it. The flip side is that I have very little faith in Baltimore. They have a good three losses in them at least.
AFC South - Jacksonville Also three games back. And really who knows what they'll do from week to week. The Colts have only lost one game but I don't trust them either. My guess is that I missed this one too.
AFC West - San Diego They're clearly the best team in their division. They have a game and a half lead. Their schedule isn't too tough. They should win the division.
NFC East - Dallas Currently the best record in the division with a half game lead over the Giants. The deciding game happens in NY on Dec 3. Both teams have been up and down so it just depends on who catches the best run.
NFC North - Minnesota Yeah, I blew this one. The Bears have all but clinched the division and they're probably the best team in the NFC. Whoops!
NFC South - Carolina Currently tied with New Orleans with the advantage of a head to head win. Their remaining games are all against inconsistent teams. Good play should get them in. The final weekend finds them on the road against the Saints. That will probably decide it.
NFC West - Seattle This team looks like the best in it's division. But they haven't been able to pull away. Injuries have mostly been the reason. They should win. I'd still bet them to win at this point.

That gives me three that I've definitly blown. There are four more that I feel good about and the last is a long shot. Wonder how that will stack up with other prognosticators?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tag!

1. What is your dream vacation?
A cruise around the world.
2. First music album you owned?
The Styx album with Mr Roboto.
3. Song you sing in the shower?
It varies, but mostly show-stoppers from musicals.
4. First dream job when you were a child?
Marine biologist. But I never wanted to disect critters and I gave up the whole thing.
5. Worst job you've ever had?
Third shift sanitation at a hog kill. Ick.
6. Favorite spice?
That's a tough one. Either garlic or cinammon.
7. Old TV show you wish you had on DVD?
Another tough one. Probably Dr Who.
8. Favorite game to play?
Diplomacy, hands down.
9. Least favorite color?
Brown.
10. Worst song ever?
Easy, it's 'Paradise by the Dashboard Lights.'

I now tag Mom, Rachel, Carrie, Jodi and the FP Gal to answer these same questions on their blogs.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

And now my turn...

Last year on my birthday, I made a list of all the wonderful things that had happened in the past year. A few days later we discovered that Roxane's kidneys were bad and that started a chain of events where we lost both Roxy and Calypso. The FP Gal thinks I'm silly to blame that on my blog post but we all have our superstitions to live with.
The last year had definite ups and downs. Not as many big events certainly. Our honeymoon was lovely. And our newest addition, Ozzie, is a treat in many ways. It was a good year.
So here comes thirty three. One third of a century and one sixth of my goal. I'm sure it will be a year of big changes, new challenges and unexpected joys.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Happy birthday, FP Gal!

May all of your hopes and dreams for the next year be realized. And may all of the fears prove silly.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Slow blogging

Guess I didn't have much to say over the weekend. More during the week. I promise.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Random Thursday Night thoughts

It's that time again...
  • The novel is almost 2/3 of the way through. It's still going strong and I'm finding the story interesting. I'm really enjoying it. Plan on some challenges going out next year to others who should try it too. Talked to Dad about it the other night and he said that November is bad for him. We might try a different month.
  • Speaking of the novel, the FP Gal thinks I have too many projects. And the truth is that my interest in some of them is waning. That probably means some stuff will be shelved. The Network Power Ranking thing is one of them. There just wasn't enough difference to make it remotely interesting. And if I was bored by it, I can't imagine anyone else cared.
  • The movie project isn't done but it's definitely off the tracks. It's been a combination of things, most recently a missed week due to a damaged Netflix movie. Only nine movies left so I'll get there but it won't be by New Years (probably). And the chance of doing the 70's next year is pretty remote.
  • The Great American Novel thing will start again in January. I'll put up some choices next month and see if anyone wants to join in. Carrie read 'My Antonia' with me last month. Did I ever put that review up?
  • Speaking of reading, I'm rereading one of my all time favorites, 'The Name of the Rose'. Wonderful, wonderful book. There was a book out a few years back, 'Shadow of the Wind' that reminded me a little of it. Both are mysteries about books. Very meta.
  • And that's it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

More scanned photos

The first two are rather dramatic pictures of Roxane when we lived down in Austin. The last one is my favorite picture of Roxy and Calypso. They were hiding under a cot, trying to keep away from their nemisis, the vacuum cleaner. This shot must have been from '98 or '99.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Self Portrait


The FP Gal scanned some stuff for me this weekend. This is an x-ray from after the accident. You can see plates, all seven of them. You can also see the bands on my teeth. Not quite the full teeth wired shut deal, but close enough.
Answers to two commonly asked questions, the plates are permanent. They'll be their the rest of my life. And secondly, they don't set off metal detectors. Oh, a third question, they aren't magnetic.
BTW, that was almost four years ago if you can believe that. In that time I've gained a nephew and a niece. Two brother in laws. A very nice wife. Lost two dear cats and gained two others. Not to go all Ferris Bueller on you, but life does move pretty fast.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Stranger than Fiction - 2006

So we used a rare combination of some free tickets and a Saturday off for the FP Gal to go see a movie. We went to see the new Will Ferrell film and really loved it. The movie reminded me of 'Being John Malkovich' and the 'Truman Show'. Not a great movie, but very enjoyable.
The movie is about an auditor who discovers that he's the main character of a novel. He begins to hear the narration from the author. This causes no end of trouble in his real life. He goes to see a shrink and she sends him to a literature professor. This leads to a wonderful sequence while he tries to determine if he's in a tragedy or a comedy. The last act of the movie drags a bit as the author has trouble with a very easy ethical dilema but overall it was a very well done movie.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Random note

It appears that I can do a spot on impression of Andy Rooney. Who knew? The FP Gal thinks it's better than my Kermit.
I'd never really watched him before this fall. CBS juggled their lineup so that Amazing Race starts right after 60 Minutes. Whenever CBS has the afternoon game it pushes the schedule back so a 7p start time is usually closer to 730p. As we fast forward to the start, we've come to stop and watch the last segment of 60 Minutes. I think it's called 'Andy Rooney's Continuing Descent into Madness' or something like that. It's something like a cross between a 5th grade social studies report and a Grandpa Simpson story. Must see in the same way that a burned out car is hard not to look at.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Youtube stuff (Weird Al version)

So I've been listening to a New Wave music station on our cable. Good stuff and the FP Gal is probably getting sick of it. Last night they had played 'Jeopardy' by Greg Kihn. That inspired her to sing the Weird Al version. YouTube to the rescue and we found it. The Greg Kihn version is here. Let's just say that he had some commitment issues.
Anyway, we quickly ran across this polka medely matched up with anime. Tres bizzare. BTW, this is his polka that I know the best. Also found this clip from AlTV. Remember that, Hans? This is also the funniest video narration that I've ever seen. (Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.)
Good stuff.
UPDATE: Missed the last link. Check it out, it's worth your time.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Battle of the Network Power Rankings

Another tough week. All three networks had the exact same picks. Each had a record of 7-7. Only the scores were different. Fox led with 67. ABC and CBS had 64 and 63 respectivly. For the season:
ABC 70-42 595
Fox 69-43 576
CBS 67-45

Novel update

If you look at the chart off to the left you'll see a sad red gash in the daily progress chart. I blame it on staying up late and watching election stuff. The FP Gal wants to share some of the responsiblility. She dragged me off to Menard's last night to buy some sissal. (Sissal's a heavy twine type material. News to me.) She used this to wrap a short ladder in an effort to create a scratching alternative for Ozzie. The couch is getting tired of his attentions.
Anyway, I hope to get back on track today. I'm on target to finish over Thanksgiving weekend. Wish me luck!

Election thoughts

Can be found over here, for those who are curious.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Voting

Just got back from the polling place. I wasn't registered there but that's nothing new. I don't know if I've lived in the same district two years in a row since I became eligible for voting.
The FP Gal and I did our civic duty. The place (61B) wasn't as full as we'd feared. At 9a, there had only been 150 odd voters. (And who knows how many normal ones. Thank you, I'll be here all week!) We're ready for the election to be over so the commercials will stop.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Accidental Tourist - 1988

What happens when you take a character from a low-key family, give him a tragedy that makes him distant and then supply a plot in which almost nothing happens? That's the perfect storm that 'Accidental Tourist' explores. William Hurt (it's not an 80's Oscar movie without him!) plays a business travel writer. He was selected for that job because he doesn't like to move outside of his comfort zone. If a rolling stone gathers no moss, you could use this man to tell which way north is.
The story takes place about a year after his son is killed in a sensless random burglary gone wrong. His wife (Kathleen Turner) wants a divorce. She needs someone who'll help her regain her faith in humanity and Hurt can't do that. (By the end of the movie, you'll look for someone to help you regain your faith in screenwriting.)
Hurt meets a crazy woman (Geena Davis) who takes in interest in him. The reason behind this isn't explored. She helps him train his dog to stop biting people. Can she help him put his life together? Will you care?
I really don't know why this movie received any Oscar nominations. There is one brief scene where concern about an undercooked turkey brings some laughs. But that's it. For a more positive review, you can read Ebert's take on it. He gave it four stars. I can't agree. This is a terrible movie.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sunbeam

Late game

I hate it when the Vikes don't play at noon on Sunday. The occasional Monday night game is fine but this 3p stuff is awful. The late game is for taking a nap! BTW, I've come to hate the current crop of Vikes receivers. If you can't catch the ball you should find a different job.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Random Thursday Night thoughts

  • Two days into the novel and I'm really digging it. The characters are going in directions I didn't expect and my hazy idea for a plot keeps growing. Don't worry, I won't spend the next four weeks updating. One big surprise is the amount of sex this thing will have. Um, I don't know if I'm letting anyone read this. The nudity is still tasteful.
  • Is anyone else ready for the election to be over so we can stop watching the political ads? Both parties are treating the electorate like children this year. Outrageous claims go back and forth as if we're supposed to take each and every one at face value. November 8th sooner, please.
  • On a related note I've taken to calling the FP Gal a typical liberal politican whenever she steals my pens. We expected more from her.
  • We only had to chase Ozzie off of the kitchen counter 287 times tonight. Squirt guns and loud yelling doesn't seem to work. We're thinking of those gates that keep children from tumbling down stairs.
  • I stil haven't put up a review of 'My Antonia' yet have I? Sometime in the next few days. I won't pick another Great American Novel until after New Years.
  • Most recent fave songs? 'Sit Down' by James and 'Strict Machine' by Goldfrapp. Both are fun for very different reasons. Well worth two bucks on Itunes.
  • That's all!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Battle of the Network Power Rankings


(Yep, that time again.) Another down week. October has been kind of a correction month as we relearn how good teams are. The two from Pennsylvania in particular are tough to nail down. ABC had the the best week again going 6-8 with 61 points. Fox also went 6-8 but only had 56. CBS in last with 5-9 for 51. For the season:
ABC 63-35 531
Fox 62-36 509
CBS 60-38 497

Bonus points if you can name this actress too!

Hope and Glory - 1987

A very interesting movie. It's set during WWII, London during the blitz to be specific. The opening scene shows a young boy playing in the backyard while the radio explains that a state of war exists between England and Germany. It's a beautiful day and it's hard to believe they're at war. The mood is a little tense but mostly excited. The boy's husband explains to his mom that it'll be over in six months.
This is a slice of life movie I guess. The twist is that it takes place during a very unique time. When the air raid siren sounds everyone must head to the shelter. The bombing raids are indescriminate and even quiet neighborhoods are at risk. There's an incredible scene where the family stands on their front lawn and watchs a dog fight up above. They follow the contrails up high.
Life goes on, and the young are particulary adaptable. When the house down the street is bombed, it becomes a treasure trove for the young boys. They collect shrapnel and take an almost 'Art of Noise' joy in destroying anything that still stands. They learn that they can set off live rounds using a vice and a hammer. A very different world.
This was a good movie and well worth watching. But it wasn't really that special. I'm guessing it was nominated for being different more than anything else.

Yip yip yip

The first bit

Here's the first few paragraphs. Don't worry this won't be a regular blog item.
“So what, you’ve been cursed?”, he asked incredulously. He took a long pull off of his bottle and I could see the sneer beneath his question. I was about to snap back angrily when it all connected. I did suffer problems that no one else did. (Well no one outside of a movie. And a chick flick at that.) But cursed? Did that even make sense?
I swirled my CB&7 with straw and thought. This process really should be easier, shouldn’t it? Why was I finding it impossible?
The door opened and let in a swirl of wind. Following that was a young couple. My eyes were immediately drawn to her. Such a young and lively face. Intelligent eyes. And a pleasant amount of cleavage. I guiltily looked at him. Nothing special. If you passed him on the street you wouldn’t take a second look. He defined average. And there he was with his arm around a babe. My mind hit upon a question it had been asking more and more lately, ‘How do you think they met?’.
“Yum.”
Gavin had noticed her too. I looked back at him. And then down at my glass. Cursed? Did it even make sense in this century to ask that type of thing? Curses belonged to old fantasy movies. Or stories of witches and elves. I had real problems and thinking about this wasn’t really helping me.
But…it kind of made sense. Look, I’m a nice guy. All of the women I work with have trouble believing I’m still single. The married ones all treat me like they wish their husband could be like me. Any girl would be incredibly lucky to meet a guy like me. What could possibly be holding me back? Was I somehow cursed?
As I said it made sense then. Maybe the kind sense that needs half a dozen drinks but there you have it. I was ready for this type of solution.
I pointedly raised my eyes from the glass and looked at him. “Maybe I have been cursed.” He took another swig and seemed to study me for a second. “But who would curse a guy like me? And more importantly, how would I break it?”

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Novel

Last week Carrie posted about NaBloPoMo, a collective effort to make at least one blog post a day for an entire month. It's a good habit builder and it's great to see new material every day over there. I think the idea came from NaNoWriMo which stands for National Novel Writing Month. Each year thousands of people sign up to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. Each year many of those same thousands fail. I've toyed with the idea for years and this year I'm going to join those thousands.
The trick is to write lots of stuff. Be adventurous. Don't edit too closely. Call in sick a lot. Actually, I have no idea what I'm talking about. But it'll be fun. I'll post the beginning of my novel tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Yuck

That concludes my commentary on the Vikes/Pats game tonight.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Random Saturday thoughts

  • The FP Gal's brother is getting married today. It's a costume wedding. What are we wearing? Here's a hint.
  • I'm not very happy with the good people of Tic-Tac right now. It's getting harder and harder to find the good flavors (i.e. cinnamon). On a lark I tried their 'Bold' new fruit flavor last night. As I told the FP Gal, "It's not very bold. And it tastes vaguely like tomatoe. Not the fruit I was expecting".
  • Congrats to the St Louis Cardinals. I wasn't rooting for them but I'm not unhappy that they won. St Louis might be the best baseball town in the country and it's good to have them win the championship. A Tigers win would also have been good for baseball in general. Let's hope that a World Series appearance was good enough.
  • That's one of the things that Yankee fans don't understand about their team. If they Yankees win more than once a decade or so it does nothing to further the sport. If they win several years in a row it drives people away. Seeing the overdog dominate doesn't inspire anyone.
  • That's it!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Battle of the Network Power Rankings

That time again! This week was even tougher than last week with some top teams losing out. Both ABC and CBS went 7-6 scoring 48 and 45 points respectivly. Fox finished 6-7 with 43 points.
ABC 57-27 470
Fox 56-28 453
CBS 55-29 446

Extra points for naming the actor pictured here.

New to the blogosphere...

My friend Maureen!

For Ozzie?

Just ran across this cat ladder at quixoticals. Looks kind of fun...

Monday, October 23, 2006

Slice of life

As I drive home from work I cross the Hwy 55 bridge near the airport. As you enter the bridge there is a hill that ends with a hard turn. I've never really cared for it especially during winter weather. It's too easy to see the car skid into the retaining wall while the cars behind you smack you around.
But...from the top of that hill you have a clear view of the Minnesota river valley. Not the river so much but the wide expanse of leafy carpet. Very beautiful. The whole area is swampy and you don't really think of swamps as picturesque (least I don't) but it is.
(A different thing happens some mornings as I drive into work. Fog will sit right there on the river. It's clear everywhere else but you drive right into the cloud. A minute later and you drive right out. Reminds me of that magical bit of coast out in Oregon.)
So I like the view. Lots of trees and such. But that's not what really sets it apart. Every few seconds a small silver cigar shape rises up to the sky. Perfectly symetrical and flawlessly aimed upward. A hundered or so people looking down out of the windows at the scale model below them. Always makes me think of them. Are they excited? Anxious? Bored? Doesn't matter because they're on their way.
It's a very beautiful thing.

Viking thoughts

Yesterday's game was what I needed to regain confidence in this team. There other three wins (and both losses) were close games. I figure any game that ends within a touchdown is something of a toss-up. One tipped ball or questionable holding call and the game is different. But yesterday was different. The defense looked very good. The offense looked better.

  • Winning in Seattle is a big deal. Road games are always big but especially so here. They have a good team and had a long winning streak. They bill themselves as one of the loudest stadiums in the game but it didn't seem to bother the Vikes.
  • The Chester Taylor play was just one of those where the player makes one cut and finds himself behind everyone else. Pretty to watch but kind of flukey. Of course you could say the same thing about the Seahawks lone touchdown.
  • Saw one pundit calling the hit on Hasselbeck a dirty play. "On the play in question, Henderson seemed to keep on rolling onto Hasselbeck's leg in a slow-motion routine. It definitely looked like he could have stopped if he wanted to." The play did look strange. I agree that Henderson could have stopped but it didn't look dirty to me. He didn't seem to know where the QB was, at least he wasn't looking at him when contact occured. And if he wanted to hurt him he would have done something more forceful than bumping into him. Maybe my purple tinted glasses are in the way. Chad, what did you think?
  • The Vikes have ten games left. I'd put them as underdogs in two of them (next Monday vs NE and at the Bears) and favorites in the other eight. Barring typical Viking heartbreak stuff they should finish with double digit victories and a playoff berth.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Youtube for Dad

Happy Birthday Pop!
  • Let's start off with some old Viking highlights. Along with some Chuck Foreman (the one without the grill). And some vintage Moss.
  • Here's some footage of you playing ping-pong up at camp. I think you were the one in the red shirt.
  • This might bring back memories of Mongolia. I could see you filming this clip here. This is also very nice.
  • Speaking of Asia, remember this place? (Or you could fry up one of these guys. Yuck.)
  • Also, don't let Grandma see this, ok?
  • This is pretty good. Have Amy or Ricky explain if you don't get it.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Last Emperor - 1987

Imagine being raised to believe you were a god. You could have anything you wanted. When you were naughty someone else was punished. The only laws you couldn't break were the ones laid down by tradition. The only barrier you couldn't cross was the exit to your own personal city. This was the life of Pu Yi, the last emperor of China.
This movie is told as a series of flashbacks. The 'present' is a communist reeducation camp in 1950. Yi and the other prisoners have been asked to write their life stories. Through this we get to see his upbringing and adulthood. We also see his relationship with English tutor, Reginald Johnston. The tutor helps to westernize Yi. To make him a gentle-man.
Things collapse as one of the provisional governments evicts Yi from the Forbidden City. He flees to Manchuria and finds himself under Japan's thumb. His childhood has ill served him to detect double-dealing. He finds himself bound in place and the end of WWII places him under communist control.
This is a beautifully shot film. It was the first western film that the Chi-Com's allowed to be filmed inside of the Forbidden City. The history is interesting. The musical score very nice. A great film.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Battle of the Network Power Rankings

When I started this I thought I'd get some wildly different picks from the different networks. Sadly, that isn't the case. This week each network went 7-6. Fox led with 56 points. ABC had 52 and CBS finished last with 48. Each one benefited from the Bears amazing comeback on MNF as they all picked up 12 points. The season standings:
ABC 50-21 422
Fox 50-21 410
CBS 48-23 401

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Random Tuesday thoughts

while the FP Gal controls the remote...
  • 'Annie Get Your Gun' is on TCM. This musical could never be made today. Not nearly PC enough. The song where Annie is adopted by an Indian tribe especially. But...'Anything you can do I can do Better' is just a fun fun song.
  • Rip Torn might have the best Hollywood name ever (non-porn division).
  • Had dinner tonight with a friend of mine who works on a cruise ship in Hawaii. She missed the quake there this weekend. Sounds like it really messed up their schedule. It'd be strange to be part of a company that holds thousands of tourists lives in their hands.
  • Just finished reading a fairly basic history of Rome. Very well put together book. It inspired me to reread 'Lest Darkness Fall', a very good yarn about a modern man who slips back in time from 1939 to the sixth century Rome. The Roman Empire was one of the three or four most important events of western civilization and I feel like I have a better grip on them now.
  • A new favorite show is 'Passport to Europe' a half hour show on the travel channel where a perky young lady visits various cities. Last week's episode involved Rome. Today, a coworker brought Stromboli to work (yum!). Some weird connections in the air...
  • So far this week Ozzie hasn't caught any mice or called for any outside help. But the week is still young.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Movie list for Pop

Every so often I happen across a movie that I think my Dad should see. There is often a religious theme. Or an interesting period in history. Or it's just a good movie that probably missed Austin. I tell him about them of course. But to make it easier, I've compiled this list. (All others are allowed to watch them too.)

Amelie - This is a french movie about a young woman who doesn't know what to do with her life. She makes a chance discovery of someone else's childhood treasure. She decides to track the person down and give them to him. This sets her on a path to becoming a secret guardian angel. A very sweet and clever movie. Very well put together visually.
Contact - Based on a novel by Carl Sagan, this movie is about the search for intelligent life. The interesting piece is that it has one of the more open conversations about faith in a mainstream film. If McConaughey was any more wooden, they'd have hung ornaments off of him but Jodi Foster is very good.
The Mission - An epic film about Catholic missions in the Amazon rainforest. A tale from when the church was something like a nation-state. (And people complain about seperation of church and state today!) One of the main stories is about a man who has set himself a near impossible atonment. Very good.
Foreign Correspondent - A Hitchcock film about a newspaper man who is sent over to Europe on the eve of World War II. He witnesses an assassination and becomes embroiled in a political plot. The closing moments include one of the most stirring speeches I've ever heard.
Pirates of the Caribbean - One of the most fun adventure movies of all time. Johnny Depp plays an incredibly charming character. The swashbuckling is both clever and amazing. Huge fun.
Man Getting Hit by Football - Features a football in the groin. It works on so many levels. (Note: not an actual movie.)
Millions - Features two young Irish boys who have lost their mother. The younger one speaks with saints. When a bag full of money fall out of the sky he takes it as a sign from God. His efforts don't always work but his heart is unquestionably in the right place. Very nice movie.

Now go out and rent some movies!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Videos?

  • Here's time lapse video of the northern lights. Very, very cool. Also a chance shot of a meteor.
  • Shameless plug for my contention that we should start raising bengal kittens.
  • Um, this is why you should consider doing it in private. Ouch. Love the graphic at the end.
  • Heidi, be careful at work, ok?
  • It's wrong that I could look at this over and over, right?
  • And this is pretty cool, too.

Overheard

From the FP Gal tonight, "I think of you more like a duck that really really likes cats".

I like ducks.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Battle of the Network Power Rankings


Very good week all around. Favored teams went 14-0 (but if you bet against the line they only went 8-3-3). All three networks went 13-1. CBS edged the others by only losing one point and finishing with a score of 104. ABC had 103 and Fox finished with 102.
Season standings:

ABC 43-15 370
FOX 43-15 354
CBS 41-17 353

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Forecast

for tomorrow is snow. Which seems much too early. The Strib published a list of first significant snowfalls. Kind of interesting.
TWIN CITIES' FIRST INCH:

2000-01: Nov. 7

2001-02: Nov. 26

2002-03: Dec. 4

2003-04: Nov. 3

2004-05: Jan. 21

2005-06: Nov. 25.

Average: Nov. 19

Last October occurrence: Oct. 31, 1991, when 8.2 inches fell, the start of the Great Halloween Blizzard.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Fatal Attraction - 1987

Um, this is not a movie for the meek at heart. Michael Douglas plays a New York city lawyer with a nice family, loving wife and rather boyish looking young girl. His wife heads to the country one weekend to look at a house. He ends up sharing an umbrella/dinner/bed with Glenn Close. Whoops! They spend most of the weekend together. When he tries to leave the apartment she freaks out. Then she apologizes and slits her wrists. Not exactly a balanced person.
He immeadiatly feels guilty. He pays more attention to his wife and reflects on how wonderful she really is. But his fling won't stop calling him. She forces him into a meeting where she tells him she's preganant. He can see his life falling apart. When he tries to cut her off it just gets worse. And worse. How bad? Let's just say that this movie probably didn't up the sale of bunnys.
I'd love to know the backstory for this movie. I'm guessing someone somewhere did something really bad to create it's inspiration. The message is pretty clear: "Have a little fling and watch everything go down the toilet". And it is pretty frightening. Right after watching this I went up to bed and whispered to a sleeping FP Gal that I'd never cheat on her with Glenn Close. A good movie.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Moonstruck - 1987

I'd never seen this movie before. The FP Gal couldn't believe it. The clips I've seen have featured a very unattractive Cher. Maybe that's why I avoided it. Well, I was wrong to do so because it's very charming.
The story is simple. A young widow (Cher) is proposed to by her longtime boyfriend. After she makes him get down on one knee, she accepts. This is right before he boards a plane to Palermo to see his dying mother. As he's leaving, he asks her to invite his estranged brother to the wedding.
When she offers the invitation, she discovers that the brother (Nicholas Cage) is crazy with anger. His reason is kind of silly. They go back to his place to discuss it. And fall in love. At the same time we discover that her father is having an affair.
Somewhere in the middle of this is a story about a strange moon, a bella luna. Her uncle tells of a night when the moon was so close that he thought it would fall on the house. This leads to a very sweet sequence where the same bella luna occurs. The idea is that the moon causes women to fall madly in love.
This is a good movie. If you like ethnic love stories, you'll love this.

Broadcast News - 1987

This is a movie written by James L Brooks (of Simpsons fame). It's a funny/smart look at modern professional life. The movie opens with a young boy who is cute but just can't do well at school. He's a future network anchor. It cuts to a snotty young man who is smart as a whip but has the social skills of a mule. He's a future reporter. One more cut, this time to a young girl who has freakish attention to detail and chastises her father for using the word 'obsessive'. She's a future producer.
They grow up to be William Hurt, Albert Brooks and Holly Hunter. Brooks and Hunter are well regarded in journalism circles. Both work at their network's Washington DC bureau. Hurt is a local sportsdesk guy who is being fast tracked to an anchor position. Hunter is upset by his obvious lack of credentials. Brooks is jealous of his charisma and upcoming fame. Adding to the conflict is the love triangle that develops.
There is a very good scene where Hunter helps Hurt through a live broadcast that he isn't really ready for. She talks into his headset and he must process and rephrase with virtually no time at all. It's fast paced and impressive.
I always forget how enjoyable Albert Brooks is. I never think of him as funny but I've really enjoyed all of his movies. He brings his usual intelligent wit here. This is a very good movie.

Random Sunday thoughts

Here we go again!
  • If you haven't read the lovely FP Gal's story of how Ozzie called the police on Friday, please do so. He's adorable but a real handfull. The picture she included was taken on Thursday night. That was probably his first visit up there.
  • The movie project is right on pace believe it or not. I got lucky break with a television broadcast this week. (I love TCM!) That meant three movies last week. I've got a must-rent coming up so it might be two more this week. (How is 'Empire of the Sun' not out on DVD. It won best picture for petesake!
  • Yay, Tigers! It really should be a national holiday when the Yankees are knocked out of the playoffs. Parades and the like. We could call it Underdog Day. Also, cheers for Frank Thomas. One great October should remove any doubts as to his Hall worthiness.
  • This past Thursday at work was 'Twins' day. I resisted the urge to wear my White Sox/Frank Thomas jersey. I did get into a couple of discussions about Hunter's decision to play a routine single into an inside-the-park homerun. My opinion is that he should have known the situation and not tried for the spectacular play. Especially since he did almost the same thing in a previous playoff game (2002?). Sometimes you just have to know better.
  • Vikes today? I'm really digging this defense. They play smart and hit hard. The offense on the other hand needs serious help. Someone needs to tell Brad to throw it past the first down marker on third down. And mix in some mid-range throws. Otherwise bring on Tavaris Jackson.
  • That's it!

Viking stadium

Interesting article in the Strib today about the Vike's stadium prospects.
The feeling among most people with knowledgeable interest is that Minneapolis will be the site of any stadium the Vikings ever build. The structure probably would be on a site near the Metrodome to allow for a transition period during construction; eventually, the Dome would be razed to provide parking for the new facility.
They suggest that the suburbs really aren't able to handle the economic difficulties that building a stadium and infrastructure would entail. Only Minneapolis (or Hennepin county) could foot the load. I've long thought that the obvious best solution is to build a combined Gopher/Viking facility. The state is thought to be more open to spending money on a place for the U anyway. The Vikings haven't liked that plan because they want something more than a collegiate field. But you'd think that they could split the cost and make something state of the art and amenable to everyone.
I don't understand why this isn't happening.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Premiere

Ever wanted to see a movie premiere? Next Thursday night is your big chance. Playing at the Riverview Theater in Minneapolis is Newton's Disease. Showtime is 730p. Should be fun!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

October Mice



For the second year in a row we've gotten an October visitor. Ozzie dispatched this one. (Possibly with his laser eyebeams.) Bonus points for spotting the mouse in the second picture.
This one was dead by the time we discovered it. Ozzie isn't happy with us now that his new toy is gone. And we're going to be a little bit cautious about any toy that makes it into our bed.
Children of a Lesser God
Hannah and her Sisters
The Mission
A Room with a View
Platoon

No real overwhelming standout movie for this year. Each of these movies could be used to represent a major category of Oscar type movies. 'Lesser God' has handicapped/social issue style covered. 'Hannah' is an intellectual comedy. 'The Mission' is an historical epic. 'Room with a View' is the film version of an English novel. And 'Platoon' is the cutting edge director/war movie. All that's missing is a musical and movie about crime/the mob.
'Platoon' won the Best Picture. I would have gone with 'The Mission'. None of these are great. They're more of an 'Oh, yeah, I really liked that movie' type.
Best music was in 'The Mission'.

Platoon - 1986

Everybody's favorite party movie! 'Platoon' details a year in the life Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) while he serves in Vietnam. He's a young man who volunteered to go rather than being drafted. His first lesson there is that no one likes the new guys. They don't seem worth the effort. He'll learn more lessons as he goes. All of them from the 'War is Hell' book (not written by Matt Groening).
He serves in an all star platoon. His sergeants are Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe (Forest Whitaker and Johnny Depp are also present). The sergeants represent two different philosophical paths. Berenger is an old blood 'n' guts, do what it takes type. Dafoe is more of a noble warrior, wanting to win hearts and minds in the field while smoking dope back at base.
The two come head to head after Berenger tries to beat some information out of a possibly innocent villager. He becomes enraged and executes one of the women. This splits the platoon as soldiers are forced to choose up sides.
Did I like the movie? It was good but not great. The technical side of making war movies has advanced so much that it doesn't look good. Also, there are now about 800 'Vietnam was horrible' movies. Probably shouldn't penalize this as it did quite a bit to launch those movies...but it sure didn't make me more anxious to watch it, either. Worst of all? It's impossible to take Charlie Sheen serious.

Battle of the Network Power Rankings

A new winner this week. ABC finished third by going 9-5 with 76 pts. Both Fox and CBS went 10-4 but CBS had the better score 82 to 75.

Total standings
ABC 30-14 267
Fox 30-14 252
CBS 28-16 249

Sunday, October 01, 2006

World's Fastest Indian - 2005

This movie came quietly at the end of last year. It's a shame that it didn't get more attention because it's a great movie. It takes place in the early 60's, beginning in south New Zealand. We meet Burt Munro (Anthony Hopkins), an older man who has had an obsession with speed ever since he could remember. He has tinkered and modified an Indian (motercycle) that was made in the 20's. He makes his own pistons. He modifies his tires with the neighbor's carving knife.
Munro is something of a character. He works on his motor in the predawn. His solution for an overgrown lawn is unique if not remotely legal. The town loves him though. They pull for him and even raise money for him to go to the US with. Munro's dream is to race at the Bonneville flats in Utah. He believes that he can set the land speed record with his bike.
Once he reaches the states, he runs into numerous problems. Things are more expensive than he thought they'd be. Driving is done on the wrong side of the road. His prostate acts up. But he takes each challenge in stride. He's a capable man. His solution to a missing tire? Frankly, I don't believe it.
But he makes it to the salt flats. Once there he discovers that he didn't register properly. He didn't know he had to. His bike amazes them. They dismiss it as too old and not safe enough. When they ask him where his firesuit is, he tells them that he doesn't plan on bursting into flame. They make him prove his worth and adopt him. The results are surprising. And heartwarming.
A great movie.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Saturday random thoughts

Been a while since I've done one of these...
  • Ever since I've worked at my current job, I've worked on the same main account. Booking travel for the same client. And then supporting agents who were doing the booking for that agent. Yesterday was their last day with us. We've been very busy. By the end, we stopped being sad and just wanted it done.
  • On a related note, I spend the next month being trained. A lot of my coworkers hate the classroom setting. For me, it's more like a vacation. Sit there and learn stuff? All right!
  • Ozzie had helped tremendously with the grief process from Calypso. He's adopted a toy mouse. He brings it up to bed and pounces on it repeatedly. Very cute! He's the FP Gal's first kitten and watching her with him is wonderful.
  • Wendy's new Frescata sandwhiches? Very tasty. Combinded with a baked potato and you've got some good things going on.
  • MLB playoffs? How do I not cheer for the Tigers? They were Roxane's favorite team after all. If I were a Twins fan, I'd want to play against the Yankees for at least one reason. Those games will be on in primetime. Think they'll put Minnesota/Oakland on at night while Tigers/Yankees are on in the afternoon? I don't either.
  • Tomorrow is when we learn a lot about the Vikings. The prevailing theory is that they are a good team that's played a tough schedule. If that's the case, then they should dominate Buffalo. In particular, the offense needs to show up and play well.
  • That's all!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

I promised pictures

from Carrie's wedding and here's one. The FP Gal also posted some nice pics from Sunday.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Room with a View - 1986

This is a very English film. It begins however, in Florence Italy. Lucy Honeychurch and her chaperone/aunt Charlotte Bartlett. They arrive to discover that they weren't given a room with a view like they were promised. Their plight is overheard by Mr Emerson and his son who offer to switch with them. The Emerson's are free-thinkers and more than a little ecentric.
Lucy wants to roam the streets on her own but she happens upon a knife fight. One man is stabbed. Lucy faints. George Emerson (the son) rescues her and they begin to share a moment. A few days later, he kisses her. Just once and quietly, so know one else finds out.
Back in England we find Miss Honeychurch becoming engaged. Her fiance, Cecil Vyse, is an insufferable snob. He schemes to get a pair of strangers into a neighbor's rental. These strangers turn out to be the Emerson's. Will Lucy stay with Cecil or end up with George?
This movie has some nice moments and nice music. The cast is strong and very recognizable. The story didn't really catch me though. Good, but not really great.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Battle of the Network Power Rankings

This week was hard fought but not really well fought. CBS had the worst of it going 6-8 with only 53 points. Fox and ABC both went 8-6 but Fox only got 63 points, while ABC got 74.

Season totals:
ABC 21-9 191
Fox 20-10 177
CBS 18-12 167

Ozzie pics



Monday, September 25, 2006

Wedding

Carrie's wedding was very nice. When she posts pictures, I'll link to them. It was held at a resort just north of Two Harbors. I think they wanted to have the ceremony next to the wake but windy conditions and resulting high surf forced it indoors. Which was fine.
The ceremony was heavily Beatles themed, with live music playing various tunes. (The FP Gal noted that Carrie must be a Paul fan. I responded 'Who can blame her?' before remembering that the FP Gal is a George fan herself.) They had a 'unity moment' which involved mixing white and red wine that I thought was very nice.
A big highlight for me was being able to see some friends from highschool. Some of them for the first time in 10+ years. Among them was former neighbor Heather Guentzel (she's doing fine, Mom). Also got to see Carrie's folks for the first time in a long time. Her mom greeted me with 'Last time I saw you, you were a turtle!'. I get that all the time.
Other notable things:
  • They had pie for dessert. I choose the blueberry. Very yummy!
  • A pretty good presentation of pictures of the bride and groom set to music. Wish we'd of done that. (Carrie, what was the song played with Steve's pictures? I really liked it!)
  • Out by the lake we could see the stars. Very beautiful. I think the milky way was right overhead. Didn't see any shooting stars though and I'm usually lucky in that regard.
A very nice night.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Friday, September 22, 2006

It's over

The White Sox play over the last week has seen numerous nails put in the coffin of their postseason hopes. Last night's 9-0 loss lowered it into the ground and covered it with dirt. What went wrong this season? Everything did in spots. The hitting disappeared at times. The bullpen fell apart in September. And the starters had a rough six week stretch after the All-Star Game.
Am I disappointed? Some. But not much. Lots of good memories from this season. Some come from behind wins. Back to back one-hitters from Garcia. And the most amazing play from a 2nd basemen that I've ever seen.
I've been told that when your team wins a championship you should just bask in that for the next five years. I'd never want the front office to take that stance, but as a fan that seems fair. Four more years then...

All the King's Men - 2006

This is a remake of a story loosely based on the life story of Huey Long. It shows the rise and fall of a Louisiana man who fought against dishonest crooks in office and wound up in the governor's chair. Once there, he couldn't resist the dark side. In a memorable scene near the end he tells a large crowd that his side has crooks and the other side has crooks. But he'll watch his crooks closely so they can't take as much the other's will.
The FP Gal and I got some free passes to this movie. The trailer pulled me in. And Huey Long is kind of an interesting figure in American politics. So off we went. At one point she caught me looking at my watch. "What time is it?," she whispered. I answered that it was about 9. AM or PM I wasn't sure.
If you're only going to see one political thriller this year, pick something else. If you're only going to see one bloated Sean Penn movie where he looks in serious need of medication, this is your baby! Penn is a very good actor who does some very good work. But in this movie he decided to channel the worst parts of Howard Dean. I expected something like, 'We'll fight them in Baton Rouge! We'll fight them in Metarie! We'll fight them in Lafeyette! Yeeaaargh!'. Not that he doesn't scream and shout. He also moves his hands like he's a marionette. Bizzare. And yet I'm glad I understood most of what he said. Large portions of this movie are spoken in a thick swampy gumbo. I wanted subtitles.
But does the story save it? Nope. It wanders incoherently. At least two scenes appear to have been cut out of it. The love story seems tacked on and not taken seriously. Most of this very good cast turn in sub-par performances.
Something positive? The camera work was interesting. And the score was fine. Seriously, save your money for something else.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

This changes everything

McDonalds considers all day breakfast! Which reminds me that I don't know if I've blogged about the wonderful Christmas gift I got from the FP Gal's folks. They gave me a Egg Muffin maker. It's a unit that will toast english muffins while it prepares the egg and canadian bacon. It's wonderful.
The other kitchen gadget that I can't do without is a Pizzazz. It's basically a rotating tray with a heater top and bottom. It cooks a frozen pizza in about 12 minutes. It's opened up a whole new world of additional toppings and improvments. If you're a pizza person, I'd get one of these.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Battle of the Network Power Rankings

Every week three of the major networks publish their football power rankings. They rank each team 1-32. Let's see how they did as a predictor!
I've taken each game and found the difference between the two teams. Then I've given an additional five points to the home team. That gives me the probable winning team. Then I've ranked each game by the spread in rankings so that the confidence points match what we're doing in Yahoo. Example: Team A (ranked 20th) is playing at Team B (10th). Team B is 10 places better and gets an additional 5 for being at home. That gives a spread of 15.
For ABC, I'm using ESPN's rankings. CBS's can be found here. FOX here. If NBC gets in the act, they'll be included later. How'd they do?

CBS and Fox tied with records of 12-4 and 114 points. ABC is the winner at 13-3 and 117 points!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Amazing Race

Huh. The first team the introduce is Peter and Sarah. And get this, they're both triatheletes. How's that for a coincidence?

Xena renamed, lesbians worldwide shave heads

Earlier this week the dwarf planet commonly nicknamed Xena, was given it's official name 'Eris'. Eris is a little known goddess. She represents chaos and disruption. Her most famous story is about a party of the gods that she wasn't invited to. In an attempt to make trouble, she sent a golden apple to 'the prettiest one'. Fighting broke out as everyone thought it was obviously meant for them. They appealed to a mortal man named Paris to judge who it belonged to. As a prize for being their judge he was awarded Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman in the world. This started the Trojan war.
Also, as something that might only interest me, they've chosen the Greek name instead of the Roman one (Discordia). That makes it unique amongst the major and minor planets. [Bonus points for the commenter that can translate the most names. No fair looking it up.]
While I'm commenting on this, let me share my thoughts with the decision that demoted Pluto. It's poorly reasoned and will be eventually changed. It's clear that a 'planet' must be larger than some particular size. Labeling every rock in the solar system would be overkill. The common sense definition that it must be large enough for it's own gravity to make it spherical gives a clear, universal method to guage. But it's the other prong of the decision that's problematic. It was declared that a planet must dominate it's area of space or orbit. This eliminated Pluto because it forms a double planet with Charon (they revolve around each other tather than having a primary and a moon). It's orbit also crosses Neptune. This somehow doesn't effect Neptune's status.
As we find more and more planets around other stars, we'll find some double planets. Objects that are clearly planets in the sense that Mercury and Mars are. Maybe we'll even find some shared orbits. This will cause another reshuffling. (I'd bet it happens within our lifetime.)
[The headline is based on tabloid headlines from when Lucy Lawless got married. Bonus point if you read this far down.]

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A few more words

for Calypso, because she deserves more than I've written so far. She was probably the sweetest cat I've ever met. She loved to sit on your lap and purr. And purr quite loudly. Used to joke about how she'd disturb the neighbors.
She was clumsy and couldn't take even the broadest hint. Her meow sounded more like a crow than a cat. She had an infuriating habit of laying across my ankles when I slept. But I had insomnia when I was away from her for an extended time. And her cries were endearing. She had more perseverance than anyone I've ever met.
When Hans and I moved out of the first apartment she lived in, we discoverd 30+ pens that she'd knocked off of the table and behind the couch. She preyed on the things. Calypso also loved plastic bottle caps. You had to be on guard from leaving one next to you.
Many years ago she adopted a little stuffed lion from a Happy Meal. She'd carry it around with her and wash it's mane. It was her baby. Some mornings you'd wake up to find that she'd brought it to bed.
She added tons of happiness to my life. She'll be deeply missed.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Calypso RIP

She was gone when we woke up this morning. We don't think she suffered much. We hope she's together with Roxane again. Or looking for someone's lap to climb on while she insists on having her face petted. She was the sweetest.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Calypso

I haven't written much about Calypso for the past couple of months. I kind of felt that the numerous Roxane updates became overly dramatic. If we were in for a long tough slog with Cally, I didn't want to go the same route.
She stopped eating sometime in mid July (it's hard to tell with cats). We kept encouraging her, but she just wasn't doing it. We figured she'd snap out of it. But she didn't. Soon she started showing signs of sickness. Some internet searching brought me to fatty liver disease. Basically, if an older cat stops eating, the body starts going after the liver. This can usually be turned around by getting the cat to start eating again.
So we got some chicken baby food and a plastic syringe. We've been using this for close to two months now with no sign of improvement. On Wednesday we took her into the vet again. He gave us some options for more intensive diagnostics (ultrasounds, etc.). He also told us that if found anything that way, it would probably be something difficult to treat. So we decided to up the food amount and hope for the best.
That was just yesterday. Hardly seems possible. Today she crashed. She seems very feeble. Her eyes aren't always registering. And she goes through something like a seizure. We're hoping it's just a really bad day and that she'll improve. But we're not optimistic.
As I said, I don't want this to become another daily drama. I probably won't mention her again until she recovers or pass on. But we'd appreciate any prayers and good thoughts that can be spared. She's the sweetest cat who was ever meant to be a puppy. I hope she pulls through.

Heads up

The next book from the reading list is 'My Antonia' by Willa Cather. I'll start it in the next couple of weeks and review it sometime in October. Hopefully that will let anyone who is moving or getting married or even just generally busy read along. Drop me a note if you're interested in joining in and we can figure out some kind of structure.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Mission - 1986

This movie is known for two things, the first of which happens very early in the film. The story begins with the dictation of a letter to the Pope. The letter concerns a series of missions in the Amazon basin. The first priest to the area is shown amongst the tribe. They've lashed him to a wooden cross. They carry the cross into the river and let it go. The camera follows it down the river until (spectacularly) it goes over the falls.
The movie deals with the complex world of South America in the 1750's. Brazil was a Portugese territory while the rest of the continent was firmly Spanish. Jesuit missonaries had gone into the jungles to convert the natives. Some attempts were disasterous and resulted in martydom. Others were very successful. Especially the ones that used music. The movie notes that if the Jesuits had had an orchestra, they could've conqured the all of South America.
But not every plan for the natives was benevolent. Slave traders also went into the jungle. The Spanish forbade slavery while under the Portugese it was allowed. Some Spanish plantation owners bought slaves from the Portugese. The question of who controlled which areas became very important. This movie focuses on one such mission and it's attempt to provide a haven for the natives.
The second thing this movie is known for is it's score. Rich swelling strings. One of the finest that I've heard so far from the 80's. A very good movie.