Wednesday, January 31, 2007

That's it, I'm moving to France

The French government is looking into allowing naps at work. A capital idea. Siesta time can't come too soon.

Plans for the Vikes in '07

Found here. Included is an intriguing role for Brad Childress...

Monday, January 29, 2007

1989 (quickly)

  • 'Born on the Fourth of July' - Ok.
  • 'Dead Poet's Society' - A great movie. Still has an impact on me almost 20 years later. Robin Williams is excellent.
  • 'Driving Miss Daisy' - A good movie, but not great. (Sorry, Mom.)
  • 'Field of Dreams' - A very good movie, though not as good as 'Bull Durham'. And yes I cry when he plays catch with his father. The movie gives me chills and you have to respect that.
  • 'My Left Foot' - Amazing acting, both from Daniel Day-Lewis and from his younger counterpart, Hugh O'Conor. Impressive movie.

'Driving' won the Best Picture but I'd have given it to 'Dead Poet's'.

Working Girl - 1988

"I've got a head for business and bod for sin." That was the famous line from this Melanie Griffith film. Note that her list of attributes doesn't include the ability to act. And while her 'bod' was for sin it wasn't remotely as attractive as the movie wants you to believe it is. Moreso than Sigourney Weaver, but that's a pretty low threshold.
This movie is ok at best and it's amazing that it got a nomination. (Actually, looking at the list of other nominees, the cupboard was rather bare. I still would have gone with 'Bull Durham' or 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit'. Probably even 'Diehard'.)

Movie project

So yesterday we watched the last of the 80's movies. Which puts me six or seven reviews behind. Guess this really did come off the tracks, huh? I'll try to get some reviews up but they'll be short. (Never did get to see 'Rain Man'. Not available on Netflicks and the effort to track it down was too much. I'll keep an eye out for it on cable, ok? I have vague memories of it when it was actually out. Remembered liking it but not loving it.)
This year I'll just tackle some movies for the heck of it. Some movies from the 70's but not in the same organized manner. Carrie, what are the must see ones? (Suggestions from others are welcome too.)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Miami

Dave Berry pens an article for people wanting to go to Miami for the SuperBowl.

Chances are you'll arrive -- Lucky you! -- at Miami International Airport. Here you will find a spacious, modern, convenient, well-designed, passenger-friendly, state-of-the-art facility depicted on murals showing what the airport allegedly will look like if they ever finish it. This is unlikely to happen in the current century because the airport is under the control of Miami-Dade politicians, who traditionally fall into one of three categories: (1) incompetents; (2) criminals; and (3) incompetent criminals.

I have lived here for more than 20 years, and for that entire time the airport has been under construction, with almost all of the visible progress taking the form of larger and better murals.

This was our reaction to the airport too.

Shalimar the Clown - Salman Rushdie

(Wikipedia entry here.) A forced marriage and a man who was haunted by a look set this book in motion. This story is about the intersection of a member of the French resistance and a lost oppurtunity. It's also about a couple of young lovers in Kashmir who crossed religious lines and were discovered.
The book opens with a young and very troubled woman in LA. Her father is a retired diplomat whose life is wrapping up. After an edited interview about the Indian/Pakistan dispute over the Kashmir valley, he is executed. The book then moves to the back stories, which are moving very artfully put together. A large part of the book details the troubles of Kashmir as the Indian general takes the 'destroy the village to save it' philosophy.
This is a very good book, though not Rushdie's best. Like many of his other works it details intertangled families and their tragic stories. The characters are beautifully displayed and it's hard not to sympathize with their plights. This book also takes a heavier hand in criticizing the Indian government than his earlier works.
In many ways, it is a plea for tolerance. Kashmir is an earthly paradise where Muslims and Hindus live together in harmony. When the partition came and the question of Kashmiri nationalism rose, there were calls for a more pure life from the valley's Muslims. The final scenes of the village are heartbreaking. Rushdie gives a window into the sub-continent that gives an uncommon view to us in the west.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Random Saturday thoughts

  • 'Sleepless in Seattle' is on this morning. There's a scene where Meg Ryan is driving around Seattle with a map. I bet she ended up in Renton at least twice. (Always preferred this one to 'You've Got Mail'. It's got a cleaner storyline and better music.)
  • Never saw 'An Affair to Remember' and I'm ok with that.
  • Hey! 'Sleepless in Seattle' was filmed in New York!
  • Got a bottle of TruBlue blueberry juice last week. It was awareded the 'Best New Blueberry Juice of 2005' award. Read that again. Who knew there was such an award? Is there a rented hall? A list of nominees? Do other berry juices go through this? Was there a 'Best New Tomato Juice of 2005'? What about prunes?
  • Who presented the award? The North American Blueberry Council. Again, who knew there was such an orginization? Who works there? And why do they have recipes for blueberry soups? We live in a strange world.
  • The juice isn't bad. If someone gave it to you as grape juice you might not question it at all. I can't get the FP Gal to try it but she's picky.
  • Baby news? We've been calling the oncoming blessed event 'Godot' because we don't know if we should use a male or female name. Talked to my dad this week and he's found a better solution. He's calling it the FP Child. He made it very clear that he doesn't think of it as a ghost.
  • I hate the bye week before the Super Bowl. It ruins all sense of momentum going into the end. It also portends the deadest period of the sports calendar. Next big event is the college basketball tournament almost two months from now. At least pitchers and catchers report in about three weeks. That's something. I guess.
  • That's it!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Nine (not three) is the magic number

More details here. A must for math geeks (and yes, I'm looking at you!). On a personal note, I've always liked nines for some reason or other. They're just nice to work with, you know? Not that the other numbers aren't also nice. (Except for those wannabe eights. Don't care for them at all.)

Oscar thoughts

from Ken Jennings of Jeopardy fame. He didn't care for 'Little Miss'.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Oscar question

for my diverse audience: What movies did they miss? Did anyone in this crowd see 'Apocolypto'? It looks like it would have been oscar-worthy if it had had the good sense to have been directed by someone different. What about 'Pursuit of Happyness'? I heard tremendous things about 'The Prestige'. Should that have been nominated?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Oscar Nominees

The Oscar nominees were announced today. Last year I said that the Best Picture films were a 'dreary list'. This year is a more conventional set. You've got your war film ('Letters from Iwo Jima'), your English film ('The Queen'), your mob film ('The Departed') and your quirky comedy ('Little Miss Sunshine'). Don't really know what 'Babel' is about...hmmm...guess it's about an accident that looks like terrorism.
Neither the FP Gal nor I saw any of them so I don't really have any opinions about them. The best movie I saw was 'United 93', which got a Best Directing nom. Didn't even see any of the animated ones. What's wrong with me? Is this what...old age feels like?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Comet (again)


Looks pretty, don't it?

Bad news for the tower

At least this article doesn't seem like it would go over well. The article mostly address 'McMansions' but it would clearly have an effect on a six story tower. It's a shame that so many of these people are forcing their values on others.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

300

Just to catch up with some random links that I wanted to mention, this is the upcoming movie that I'm most excited about.

Playoffs - Championship games

(Forgot to put this up here.) Last week I missed all four games. I take full responsibility for that, and I apologize to all of the home teams. Especially the Chargers who really looked like someone cursed them. The coin went 3-1 against the spread. And looked very smug all week long.

This week's picks are the opposite of my rooting interest. I'll go with the Bears to win at home. The record of warm weather/dome teams going on the road to a cold location in the playoffs is not good. I'll look for the Saints to keep that going this year. In some ways this game is really unfair to the Bears. They didn't do anything to deserve being cast as the villains in this story. But that's what happens in sports.
The late game is the interesting one. Colts/Pats is the modern football version of Red Sox/Yankees. The Pats have beaten the Colts everytime it's mattered in recent years and I expect today to be the same. That's not the way I'm rooting but there you go.

That smug coin? Picking the Saints and the Colts.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Scene from work

Back in December, right after we found out about our upcoming addition, I got a call at work from a lady who was traveling to Dallas and wanted to make certain that she got aisle seats. Her reason was simple, she was pregnant and by the time this trip came off she would be very pregnant and she really wanted an aisle or an exit row seat for obvious reasons. Since we'd just found out that we were in a family way, I gushingly shared that with her. She gushed back a bit. Pregnancy brings with it a strange fraternity (sorority?). I called the airline and leaned on her condition to try and get her the best seats I could.
Got a call today from an exhausted sounding husband. He was calling for a traveler who was supposed to fly last Friday but couldn't because she'd been hospitalized instead. No details were given but there was mention of the emergency room and an extended stay in ICU. He was trying to get her back home. The flights were pretty open so I didn't think it'd be a problem. I called the airline ready to fight them if they gave any trouble (I've got a soft spot for people in ICU) but they were very accomadating.
We get this kind of call from time to time. Bad things happen to people everywhere, unfortunatly. This poor woman was stuck in the hospital in Dallas when her home was back in Chattanooga. Think of how awful that must have been for her husband and family. I know that her parents were with her because we looked at flights for them too.
Anyway, I started putting notes in the record as to what was happening. And then I ran across notes that I'd put in back in December. This was the same lady that had wanted better seats because she was pregnant. No mention of a baby had been made this time.
I feel awful for them.

Baby Roxy

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Now we can tell people

Today was our first doctor's appointment. (Well, we'd both been to see doctors before. Just not while the FP Gal was preggo.) Everything is good and healthy, no worries. The highlight was hearing the baby's heartbeat. 172 beats per minute, which is fine. It helped to have an actual trained medical professional tell us that we were pregnant. (Not that we were really doubting, but that's what experts are for, right?)
The due date is August 11th, so the FP Gal was advised to skip any water rides that day. Actually, the (very nice) doctor told her that she should schedule something fun to do that day so that she won't be disappointed if nothing happens. I'm not sure what could really distract her short of burning the house down. Which I'm not advocating, btw.
Anyway, she (the doctor) also told us that once they hear the heart that you're in pretty good shape so we can start telling people. As you know we jumped the gun, but consider yourself told.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Snow

Carrie has written about the lack of snow in Duluth and how trying it is for winter sports lovers. Every year that we have light snow I think back to the time I was bartending near Dexter. I didn't know it at the time but many farmers are huge snowmobile enthusiasts. A powder isn't enough for them, they like some drifts to work in. They would have been happy with what we got here the other night.
Hang in there snow lovers!

Monday, January 15, 2007

"I've had a hard day..."

Just to prove that I can offer more than criticism of the commercial art, I think one of the cruise lines should be doing everything they can to get Keifer Sutherland to do commercials for them. The scripts write themselves.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Random Sunday Stuff

  • A nice peaceful snowfall tonight, forecast somewhere between 2-6 inches (probably closer to two). It really does make everything look nicer. Driving to work in the morning will be interesting. Hopefully everything is settled down by then.
  • Can we pass legislation limiting how long a series of commercials can be run? We could call it the 'Geico Caveman Joke Act'. Seriously, they weren't funny to begin with and no part of the continuing plot has been interesting or clever. I've got visions of some runaway advertising division that won't listen to reason. We're about a year and a half away from Caveman the movie.
  • Watched a bit of Americana tonight. The FP Gal had never seen 'Smokey and the Bear' and it was on so we watched it. Huge flashbacks to my early childhood. The TV version has been redubbed in some obvious ways. This brings about a fun game of trying to figure out what was actually said. I'm sure it wasn't 'scum-bum'. No Mr. Falcon appearances.
  • During the movie there was a commercial with Sally Field selling something to help with osteoperosis. Kind of broke the mood. I'm guessing she doesn't hop around in a Trans-Am nowadays.
  • Good football games the last two days. All four road teams covered and three of the games came down to a field goal. I was hopeful for the Seahawks but no go. Next week I'm cheering for the Colts and Saints.
  • Something like five weeks until pitchers and catchers report. Can't get here fast enough.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Walk of Life

Why not?

Playoffs

Ok, so last weekend I went 2-2 against the spread. The coin was also 2-2. Not so good. All four games close to the spread until late. Let's see if I can do better this week (and beat a randomizing gimmick).

Colts at Ravens (Ravens -4)
The Colts playoff struggles are legendary and they'll continue today. The Ravens defense is too good and this could turn ugly early. Baltimore could have the best team in the NFL this year. Unless the Ravens continually shoot themselves in the foot, they cover easy.

Eagles at Saints (Saints -5)
If this was at a neutral site, I'd favor the Saints by a fieldgoal or so. Being at the crazy Superdome, I'll give them another few points. This should be a very entertaining game, and I don't see anyone outside of the Philidelphia area rooting for the Eagles. I'll take the Saints.

Seahawks at Bears (Bears -8.5)
When they met earlier in the year, the Bears won going away. In the last few months, Chicago's QB situation has gone to hell. If Grossman had tripped down some steps and sprained his ankle on Monday, this would be a two touchdown game. As it is, most people expect him to provide Seattle's best opportunities. I don't see it that way. The Bears have had two weeks of people doubting them. They were embarrassed by the way the played against the Packers. I expect them to come out and blow the Seahawks off of the field (sorry Heidi). I'll take the Bears.

Patriots at Chargers (Chargers -5)
Probably the best game of the weekend. If I had to put money down on one team to win the SuperBowl, it would be San Diego. And yet they have the hardest matchup this weekend. But...my sense is that New England is overrated this year. I'll go with the Chargers to win, but wouldn't be surprised if the Pats cover. Hardest pick...I'll go with the Chargers.

The coin?
Colts
Eagles
Bears
Pats

Friday, January 12, 2007

Scenes from the house

So I stopped by the grocery store after a long day at work and picked up a few things. Supper caught my eye in the freezer section and I got some alfredo broccoli. Cooked it up on the stove and served about half of it up for myself and went into the living room to eat.
We've run into a problem with our intrepid trouble-maker, Ozzie. He likes to jump up on the counter and eat any food that's up there or on the stove. We keep an eye on him, but he's sneaky. I figured that broccoli and cheese wouldn't tempt him. I was wrong. Walked back into the kitchen to find that he'd snagged a bit of broccoli and was eating it off of the floor. When I tried to get it away from him he ran away with it in his mouth. That led me to chase after him yelling, 'Put down the broccoli!'. When I picked him up he dropped it.
Let's hope it's that easy with children.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Comet Mcnaught

It really is up there if the clouds would give us a break. The best viewing should be tomorrow night, right after sundown. Here's a set of pictures from the BBC.

The Great Gatsby - Fitzgerald

There is a strange contradiction in the way that Americans feel about the wealthy. While we wish we could join them, we don't really respect them. We don't respect the idle rich at least and that's what is at the heart of this book. Frankly, I couldn't stop picturing Paris Hilton (and she's not my type).
This book is told by a young man from the midwest who finds himself drawn into a very wealthy circle of Long Island. His friends have no purpose in life and also no happy marriages. The nearest unhappy marriage crashes right next door to him and he's a sad witness to it. The fallout is catastrophic but sad in a very muted way.
The story is slight but beautifully told. Fitzgerald had interesting things to say and an interesting way of telling it. This is a very good book. Even though this was my first time reading it, I'm sure I'll revisit it in a few years.

Baby announcement

I had nothing to do with this.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Set

My latest game? Set (online version). Jodi introduced this to the FP Gal and I last year. It's a card game where you have to match like and opposite traits. There are good instructions with the online version, complete with pictures.
This was especially fun while Hans was here because it was fun to see him and Jodi go at it. Competitive visual games. Who can beat that?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Comet

Found this dandy of a picture over at the Astronomy Picture of the Day site. This is comet McNaught, the brightest comet in decades. For the next few days you can see it morning and evening, near the sun.

The Danger of Sprinklers

So a curious news story out of Miami yesterday, as customs officials discovered a package that tested positive for explosives. They rechecked the package five more times. (I'd love to have heard that discussion: "Explosives? Really? No, check it again. The first five tests were probably wrong.) Turns out that it was sprinkler parts. If you knew that sprinklers and explosives had something in common, then you get a bonus point.
The interesting thing for me was that I knew the ship. It was the Majesty of the Seas where the FP Gal and I took our honeymoon for four sunfilled days last year. Almost exactly a year ago. A very nice place, where pizza was available almost 24 hours a day.
Currenty temp? 18 degrees. Sigh.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Cowboys at Seahawks

Just a crazy crazy fourth quarter. You could seriously show those fifteen minutes to non-sports fans and they would understand they whole sports culture. It's games like this that are the reason we watch. It featured:
  • A team failing to score when they had the ball first and goal at the one.
  • An insane play that featured a catch, stumble, football move, fumble, scramble for a loose ball in the end zone, a flip back in bounds and a defensive player frantically trying to get two feet in bounds. (Play reviewed and correctly ruled a safety.)
  • A long pass for the go ahead touchdown.
  • A horribly botched two point attempt (which cost me the cover).
  • A quick answering drive featuring a long run up the middle.
  • A contested spot on third down that had to be reviewed (and correctly ruled fourth down).
  • A botched field goal attempt that looked like it might turn into a touchdown or a first down.
  • The Seahawks unable to run the clock out leaving 2 seconds left for the Cowboys to attempt a hail mary. It failed and they may have to put a suicide watch on for their quarterback.
A great game and they officiating crew deserves some serious credit. There were a number of difficult calls in the fourth quarter and they did an excellent job of getting them right.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Playoffs

It's time for some pigskin prognostication. I will attempt to predict all eleven playoff games this year. My past results are not that good so you might want to bet the other way. To stir things up a bit I'll compete against a flipped coin this year.

KC at Ind (Ind +7)
I'll go with the Colts in this one. Their run defense is awful but I've got the feeling that they'll be fine today. I expect a big passing game from Manning and an implosion from the Chiefs.

Dal at Sea (Sea +2)
Lots of people are picking this as the upset of the weekend because the Cowboys are probably the better team. I'm thinking that the Seahawks get it together today at home.

Gia at Phi (Phi +7)
That spread just seems too big for me. I'll go with the Giants covering but not winning.

Jet at NE (NE +8.5)
This spread seems too big for me too. The Pats are probably the better team but the Jets have something good happening. I'll go for the upset.

The coin?

Colts
Cowboys
Eagles
Jets

Friday, January 05, 2007

Um...what is that?

So the FP Gal is bringing good foods into the house. Something about eating well for the baby or something. At least I think that's the reason for the increase in grapes. For all I know she just really likes them. Even I do in small quantities.
And you know who else likes them? Our intrepid kitten, Ozzie. For the past few days we've noticed fewer grapes on the bunch and more of them in random places around the house. Nothing like a lone, very bruised grape on the living room floor to make a place looked lived in. Believe me. At least he hasn't brought any upstairs yet.
So why do I mention this? When I went to put on my tennis shoes tonight there was a little gift inside, down by the toe. One last grape. Roxy used to do this all the time with cat toys. But never with fruit!
Lucky for him, cuteness goes a long way.

Sleepy Ozzie

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Random Thursday Night thoughts

While suffering the year's first cold...
  • Very beautiful snow on Sunday. The FP Gal calls it 'instant urban renewal'. It was nice to look at for New Year's Eve but not nice to drive in. So we stayed home and had a nice quiet time.
  • Lots of fireworks in the neighborhood this year. Last year it was just us (with a group of small boys watching from the apartment next door). We even heard a little 'Auld Lang Syne' from a nearby party. Maybe next year we'll plan a party. I would love to host/attend a New Year's Eve masquerade party. Wouldn't that be fun?
  • 'The Great Gatsby' was a very quick read. I'll put up a review around the middle of next week. Does that work for everyone?
  • Oh, Jodi, here's the picture from last week:

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Mt Ranier

I told someone months ago that I'd put a link up to the Mt Ranier webcam. Then it got clobbered by record snowfalls and for weeks it had an archived image of summer. Well, it's back online now. It's a regular stop for me, especially when it's raining out there. The wet mossy cedars are nothing short of beautiful.