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.