Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Monday, February 26, 2007
- I really like Ellen but she was pretty bad last night. She had a few nice moments of interaction with Clint Eastwood but her opening was painful and the brief in-between stuff was utterly forgettable. Don't know if she was nervous or just didn't understand the requirments of the Oscar gig.
- Bring back Billy Crystal! Seriously, we've tried other people but no one can fill his shoes when it comes to this. Or even Billy Crystal and Robin Williams...
- What's the difference between 'Sound Editing' and 'Sound Mixing'? And why aren't these part of the technical awards? Related question: 'Flags of our Fathers' and 'Letters from Iwo Jima' featured the same Sound Editing team. How did voters tell them apart enough to award them an Oscar?
- Would anyone else like to see the voting totals for these movies? Or what the next five 'Best Picture' selections would have been? Just me?
- If someone made a documentary about the enormous waste of the private jets and luxury cars of Hollywood's powerful people, what chance would it have of making the best documentary category?
- Seriously, Billy Crystal. And this is good too.
- My favorite part? The foreign language film montage. Yep, I'm a geek.
- All in all, not a bad way to spend 11 hours on a snowy Sunday night.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Little Miss Sunshine 2-1
The Departed 3-1
Letters From Iwo Jima 6-1
The Queen 10-1
I'll be greatly surprised if 'Sunshine' wins it. Haven't seen the rest so I don't have any personal observations on them. I'm predicting...that this is the year that they give it to Scorsese. He's too good of a director to be shut out for his whole life. And none of the movies are obviously head and shoulders above the rest.
I probably have less rooting interest in these Oscars than any other recent year I can remember. Rooting for good montages mostly. And a good monolouge to begin with. And brief musical numbers.
Saturday, February 24, 2007
But he's discovered a drawback to it. If he's up there we can't reach him to bring him down. We also can't reach him to pet his head! So now he can sometimes be seen trying to turn over in too small of a space, giving little mews and brrrs that mean Love Me! Poor guy. Wonder how long it'll take him to figure out the problem?
Thursday, February 22, 2007
If I were in charge I'd have passed out hand sanitizer and biohazard suits. And maybe some orange juice. But I think those in charge were kind of grumpy with the whole situation. I can see their point because it's hard to staff adaquetly when huge portions of your employees are missing. (Not that widespread sympathy won't win them more loyalty. This is a point that is often lost at my work.)
It's been kind of a tough few months for the corporate travel business. We've had a good half dozen winter storms severe enough to screw up travel all across the country. (The worst was the one that stranded thousands in Denver right around Christmas.)
Everytime this happens we get slammed as travelers look to us to help them when their flights are cancelled. We then try to figure out what flights are really going and at what time and how much space is really left on them. That involves calling the airlines (also slammed) and hoping that their reservation centers have good enough information from the airports. Multiply that by hundreds of callers and you see how bad it gets.
Sometimes we have an irate traveler who asks us why we'd book anyone through Denver or Chicago in the winter. Any look at the schedule will tell you why we do it. It's almost impossible to find a storm proof airport. The only major one's that have been spared this winter are the ones on the west coast and Minneapolis (due to get smacked this weekend). Texas has gotten closed down twice in the last two months! If you can't trust Houston in the winter, you can't trust anywhere.
Back to the plague, avoid it if you can. This is seriously bad stuff.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
- We're still filled with sickness. Day 5 for me and 7 for the FP Gal. I feel like I've turned the corner. Today, I just feel bad rather than miserable.
- So what have we been doing? Watching movies and bad daytime TV. We've also been trading off taking care of each other. The cats now think we never leave the house. Their sleep schedule is horribly off. They've been awfully cuddly.
- Enough sickness stuff? Sorry about that. We had our second doctor appointment last Friday. Everything looks good and we've been very happy with the treatment we've gotten.
- Pitchers and catchers reported last weekend. Real games start in just over five weeks. And yes, I'm very ready. Also wishing I could take a trip down to Spring training again. Arizona is mighty nice this time of year.
- That's it.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Monday, February 19, 2007
Frankly, I didn't find this to be a great novel. The feel of it is more like that of a memoir as the protagonist describes in detail his daily actions. Part of this lends itself well to the story as you easily feel his comradarie with his fellow soldiers. The downside is that you kind of feel like you've been trapped into watching someone's vacation slides for 300+ pages.
The worst part of this book is the heroine. She is completely subservient and intent on creating a codependent relationship. At one point she wants them to get matching haircuts so that they can be the same person. Creepy.
The theme of the book is basically that life is hard and eventually it'll get you. Not very uplifting. I was kind of disappointed with this book. I've liked other Hemingway books. And I certainly envy his house. Not sure why this one was elevated above others.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Regular posting to resume tomorrow (probably).
Thursday, February 15, 2007
We'd been dating for a month or so and one night I was telling her about the companies I book travel for. Among them was Pillsbury. Very nice people and they gave us various Doughboy themed gifts. This brought to mind an old (Sept 19, 1999) column from James Lileks in which he wondered if the Doughboy was changing color. Lileks called Pillsbury to ask about it and a column was born. A very funny column obviously since it had stuck in my head strongly enough that I'd free associate to it while talking with a new girlfriend.
The crazy part is that she knew the column I was talking about. Nearly six years earlier it had become a favorite between her and a close friend. Such a favorite that the very same column was hanging in her friend's hall at that very moment. We now have a copy of it on our fridge. Sadly, I can't find it online at all to link to.
The point is that it seemed in that moment as if fate was telling us something. One random column that meant enough for both of us to remember it out of the blue. These are the things that love is made of. (Even stranger, a year later on the day that I proposed to her we went to a time-share presentation in Mexico where the salesman brought this up on his own.)
Anyway, time passed, we were married and now have a baby on the way. And there's a strong possibility that none of it would have happened without the aid of James Lileks. Thanks, man, from the bottom of my heart, thanks.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
New Years - When Harry Met Sally
Groundhog Day - Groundhog Day
Valentine's Day - The Man with Two Brains
Opening Day - Bull Durham
Fourth of July - Forest Gump
Halloween - Young Frankenstein
Thanksgiving - (The FP Gal wants Accidental Tourist but I don't agree.)
Christmas - The Christmas Story, Love Actually, It's a Wonderful Life, Elf
Anyone else got anything?
Monday, February 12, 2007
This morning's featured entry was on 'Make Way for Ducklings'. This is one of the FP Gal's favorites and she tells a charming anecdote about little drunk ducks. I clicked on it eagerly and...wow. Go on over and read it, especially the Critical Reaction. I'm not sure which is my favorite sentence. This one:
More recent critics have stated that the illustrations cause the strength of the plot to suffer.Or this one:
Critics also find the characterization of the waterfowl lacking, that is, the Mallards represent "rather stereotypically concerned parents," often showing the same facial expressions and rarely showing expressiveness.Keep in mind that this is a book meant for pre-schoolers. A book that concerns a family of ducks trying to find a safe spot in Boston. It's a shame that the author didn't put more work into the ducks facial expressions.
Wow. Just, wow.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
This was a good but not great movie. Quirky and fun but not much more. I'm surprised that it got a Best Picture nominee. (BTW, I'll accept that this might have been a better movie to see in a theater than in the comfort of our own home. Still don't see this as a great movie.)
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Thursday, February 08, 2007
(My thoughts on last night's show? Not bad. We got another big clue as to what's going on. We learned that there is more conflict amongst the 'Others' than we knew of before. We learned that surgeons aren't always good with anestethia. I am starting to wish that they'd thin the herd a bit and focus on about half as many people. But they know what they're doing and I'll certainly keep watching.)
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Monday, February 05, 2007
- Enjoyed the game yesterday. I wasn't as bothered by the Colts winning as some people. You don't see a lot of bad weather Super Bowls, so that was interesting.
- Best commercials? CareerBuilder.com. And yes, I often concentrate on surviving the work week. Only 32 hours left of this one.
- My past favorite? This one right here.
- If you can't beat them, join them. (I'm not applying, Mom, don't worry.)
- MOA fun fact: They don't heat the darn thing (except near the doors). They rely on sunlight in the middle and the hustle and bustle of tourists.
- I'm sure it's just a coincidence, but every time a report on global warming is released we seem to go through abnormaly cold weather. A request from the powers that be, if I may. Could someone book Al Gore to the Twin Cities in July? The FP Gal would appreciate it.
- Cruise update, it looks like I can't do much more until April. More details to follow.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
- I'll start with the sports stuff. I'm rooting for the Colts for various reasons, the biggest of which is that I'm a big Dungy fan. I'm expecting the Bears to win for one simple reason, the bye week. That extra week means that this comes down to coaching and I think that Lovie Smith is a better X's and O's guy. If I was putting money on this, I'd take the Bears. (Especially if you gave me the 7 points that the Colts are favored by.)
- Of the four major outcomes of this game (Colts blowout, Bears blowout or close game won by either squad) none of them would surprise me.
- Cirque de Soliel did the pregame. I looked for the Malaka-Laka board of peace but I didn't see it.
- Non sports stuff? Everyone should have a nemesis and I seem to have found mine. It's the wandering Menace-at-the-Mall, the shark mascot. Don't let his cheery look fool you. If he could he'd eat you and your entire family.
- That's it!
Saturday, February 03, 2007
“Ugh. Here comes that really long bridge. I’d forgotten about that.” Mark craned his neck to look around the cars that were in front of him to try and gauge just how long it really was.
“Do you want me to drive it, hon?”, Jane offered, never expecting that he would take her up on it.
“There isn’t a good spot to switch drivers. Don’t worry, I’ll handle it.” And she could see him set his shoulders a bit more and hunker down. She really wished that he would let her ease his burdens more but she also knew that that wasn’t his way. Twelve years of marriage (and three of dating before that) had taught her quite a bit about her man. He could be the most stubborn and driven man she’d ever met. Loving too, when it came around to that.
She reached over and put her hand on his knee to reassure him. “It’ll be fine. Just focus on the car in front of us.”
He grunted under his breath and then said, “Good idea. I’ll try it,” and fell into silence. When the car entered the different concrete of the bridge she noticed him tense even more but she made no reaction.
It really was a long bridge. You couldn’t cross the
She looked over at him and he was staring at the license plate in front of them. That seemed to be working as his panic level wasn’t rising. She quickly decided that she wouldn’t distract him for anything. That left her free to look all around if she wanted to. The north side of the river was steep and covered with pines. Fog played with the trees and made them look mystical.
A quick splash caught her attention. She clearly saw a head and shoulders. Then it flipped and she saw a large green fish tail. Did she really just see that? Should she tell Mark? No, he was still focusing and she didn’t want to break his concentration. Jane looked back at the spot but didn’t see anything else. She waited for it to resurface but nothing did.
Then the bridge started to elevate. It formed a large hump that ships could go under. Driving there wasn’t as bad as you were away from the water. Through her hand she could feel Mark starting to relax. Then they were over the hump and into the long curl that brought them into downtown.
Mark let out a long breath. “Maybe we should stop and get a bite to eat.”
“That’s a great idea.” Give him a chance to stretch his legs and unwind. She dearly hoped that he’d unwind. That was one of the reasons for this trip, to get some of the tension that had been collecting inside of him to go away. The second reason was one that she hadn’t discussed with him, to try and recreate something from earlier in their relationship. Back when he was obviously in love with her instead of shutting her out.
He parked the car at a local place that had a promising sign outside. It wasn’t crowded and they grabbed a table and some menus. The waitress was young, Jane thought. Twenty-one or twenty-two at most. She couldn’t help but notice that she was well endowed and not shy about it, wearing a scandalously low cut shirt. Would Mark notice? She wasn’t worried that he’d notice too much, she was actually hoping that it might break him out of his ever increasing shell a bit. No such luck. The menu could have been a thriller for all of his rapt attention. He barely glanced up at her while they ordered.
The back of the menu had a history of the place. Apparently there had been a trap door here once. Men were drugged while drinking and they’d wake up on a boat to
Her fish and chips arrived and they were as good as she’d remembered. There really is something about eating fish at an ocean-side restaurant. Freshness maybe. Or just the atmosphere. This had been their first trip to the ocean back before they were married. This was the trip that convinced her that they were in love forever and marriage was soon to come. Three months later he’d proposed to her. They had been terrifically happy and she had always thought that the magic of this place had something to do with it.
She glanced out of the window and saw a tiny figure zoom past with a trail of sparkles. Did she see a wand and little wings? She thought so. “Mark, look!”, and she pointed. But it was too late. He’d missed it.
“What? Where am I looking?”
“Something strange just flew past the window.” They looked for another minute but it didn’t come back. “Sorry. Not sure what I just saw.”
“Don’t worry about it.” And then back to the meaningless small talk. After they were done they paid up and left. Traffic was light and that suited them well. They wanted to take the drive at their own pace. Soon they were driving around the curving coastal road. The ocean was gray and choppy with low clouds. On their other side was a steep embankment with enormous trees on top of it. And huge boulders covered with moss. Mark was driving again but this time she felt ok about pointing out particularly beautiful spots. Some of the tension seemed to be draining away from him. They drove along peacefully. This really was a wonderful area.
And then they turned a curve and discovered a car parked the wrong way on their shoulder. Mark hit the brakes sharply and swerved around them. Some tourists had picked a terrible spot to stop and get that must have picture. Mark swore at them as they drove along.
Jane could feel beneath her hand that all of the tension had returned, maybe doubled. She silently wished she could go back and run over the stupid tourists herself!
And then something caught her eye up near the clouds. Something was up there. What was that? A…horse? Yes, a white horse with…wings? Was there really a Pegasus up there?
And then they drove into a cloud bank and were engulfed in fog. Mark slow down in case there were any more foolish people parked up ahead. Jane shook her head, did I really see that? What an odd morning!
A sign popped out of the fog, telling them that a place called the Devil’s Punchbowl was up ahead. “Mark, let’s stop there and get out. Walk around a bit.”
“Sounds fine to me.” Silence again. “Wonder why the devil left his punchbowl here. You’d think that would be inconvenient for parties.” Jane laughed, giving his joke more praise than it was worth. It had been so long since she’d heard any attempt from humor from him that even a weak one was a good sign.
“We’ll just have to keep an eye out for other ‘party-goers’ then,” she tried to play along. “Hope they don’t think we’re one of them.”
“No problem,” Mark countered. “The devil only throws formal parties.”
She could hardly believe what she was hearing. Was that…banter? “Then we’ll just watch for tuxes and ball gowns.” She could see a smile growing on his face. Under her hand she could feel him relaxing again.
They parked the car and Mark went to the trunk to get out the camera bag. Jane pulled on her windbreaker. As her head came out the top, she saw a little green man walk up to a tree, just off of the parking area. He turned to her and winked and then walked behind it. She darted after him but by the time she got to the tree there was nothing there. And no sign of him either. No tracks, but the ground was covered with needles.
Mark spoke, startling her. “Hon, what is it? What are you doing?”
“I just thought I saw…something.”
“I’m not sure.” But she was. And she was now certain that he’d winked at her. Would a pot of gold make Mark happy? She shook her head. “It was nothing, ok?”
They walked down to the formation and watched the water boiling around. It looked like a big limestone pot, with water in the bottom. The wind was strong and they both got cold quickly and walked back to the car. Jane offered to drive and Mark took her up on it. She was a little worried that she’d see something else that was too strange to be true but wanted to risk it anyway. Maybe only the passenger could see the strange stuff. She’d love to be able to share that with her quiet husband.
He seemed to be happy enough looking out at the surf. There was never a time when he was so still that she could be certain he slept. She also never noticed him spotting something strange. If he did, he kept it to himself. Before she knew it, another hour had gone by and there was a small town coming up. Her bladder said it was time to stop.
“I’ve got to take a break.”
“Fine with me.”
She found a street that looked like it catered to tourists and pulled into a spot in front of a knick-knack store. She told Mark that she wanted to stop in there. He’d spotted a bookstore a few shops down and said he was going to head that way. She thought that was another good sign.
She entered the store and noticed an old woman behind the counter. “Excuse me, could I use your restroom?”
“Of course, but I know the real reason you’re here.”
That took her back a bit. “And what is that?”
“Take care of your business first and then we’ll talk. Right through that way.”
Bewildered, but in need of relief, Jane went to the restroom. When she came back she walked up to the woman, “I don’t know what you mean, I really did come here to use your bathroom.”
“Tell yourself that, if you’d like. But I know better.”
“What do you mean?” Was this some kind of sales technique? If it was, she didn’t like it. Not at all. In fact, at the first sign of a sales pitch she’d be out of there like a shot.
“You came here to find happiness. Or maybe I should say to regain it.”
“How do you know that? What do you mean?” She then noticed that the woman’s left hand was resting on a large glass ball. It had to be glass, right? They don’t really make them out of crystal, do they?
The old woman looked at the ceiling in despair. “Always the same. Afraid to reach out with both hands when something good is there. Afraid to look like a fool.” She looked her straight in the eye and her gaze had an intensity that Jane didn’t like. “Will your pride stand in the way?”
Jane couldn’t help but feel like she was on trial suddenly. As if an entire crowd’s eyes were on her and this answer was very important. She took a deep breath and squared her shoulders, looked the old woman back in the eye and said, “I want to be happy. How can you help me.”
The woman relaxed behind the counter and the feeling of being watched disappeared. “I’d hoped you’d feel that way. One moment.” And then she ducked behind a shelf for a moment. When she came back she had a small leather pouch. She set it on the counter between them.
“What is that?,” Jane asked.
“It’s a special mixture. Put some into his wine tonight and he’ll come back to you.”
“What do you mean?”
“Your pride again,” the woman growled. “This will bring your love back to you. It will bridge the distance.”
Jane was in shock. How could this old woman possibly know what her problems were? She glanced over at the ball again. It couldn’t be true, could it?
But this was the reason she’d wanted this trip. She’d hoped that the magic of this place would somehow rub off on them and bring back the past. She had just always thought of the magic as being more metaphorical. She didn’t imagine she’d be taking potions or anything like that.
“Um, what do I owe you for this?”
The old woman softened a bit and smiled. “This you can have for free. But maybe you’d be interested in a few other things…”. Jane could hardly refuse and she left a few minutes later, with her purse lightened.
She walked down to the bookstore and found her husband lost in a section of hardcovers. She gently urged him to the register where he made his purchase, only three this time. He gave the man a very sincere thanks and they left.
As they walked to the car, he stopped and looked down the street. “Hon, maybe we should just stay here tonight. I know it’s a little earlier than we’d hoped…”.
“Can we find a place?” And then she followed his look down to a sign in a window that said ‘Vacancy’. “Looks like it.”
They moved the car down and went inside. An older couple greeted them. Of course they could stay, love to have them. They were led to their room which was very homey with a large comfortable looking bed. They unpacked a bit and laid down. A nap overtook both of them.
When they woke it was dark outside and they both felt very rested. A quick change of clothes and they went down to ask for a dinner recommendation. Someplace nice. They were advised to go to a nice place around the block.
It wasn’t crowded and they got a nice spot by the fire place. Jane thought guiltily of the small pouch she had in her pocket. What if he doesn’t order wine, she thought. Will it work in Coke? But her fears were misplaced and he ordered the house red. She sighed and wondered how the old woman could possibly have been sure he’d have wine.
And could she really put some strange something in his drink? She didn’t know what it was. For all she knew it could be drain cleaner. What was she thinking? His glass was brought to the table and she looked at it guiltily.
Mark excused himself to the restroom and Jane knew that her moment of truth was at hand. She quickly opened the pouch, hoping that no one else was watching her. She put her finger in it and it seemed like sand. She upturned it in her hand and saw a small pile of gold powder with blue flakes.
Nothing to it but to do it, she told herself. She grabbed his glass and quickly dumped it in. She saw some quick gold flashes and then it looked normal. She put it back. But she couldn’t stop staring at it. Did she just poison her husband? What a horrible thought! What should she do now?
A quick plan formed in her head. She reached over and took the glass. She took a sip. It tasted fine. Maybe another sip? She put it up to her lips.
And Mark chose that moment to come back to the table. “Is it good?”, he asked.
Trying to cover her shock she said, “Yes, it is. I just had to try some…”
“That’s fine. You keep that glass, I’ll get another one.” And before she could protest he signaled the waiter and ordered another one.
She tried not to think about what had happened. She’d messed it up! Mark was supposed to drink it, not her! Had she screwed up her shot at happiness? How often do you get a magic potion? Almost never and she’d messed up everything.
Mark’s drink arrived and he proposed a toast. “To us.” They drank. Jane noticed a warming going on inside of her. Was that the potion? She didn’t drink very often so it might just be the wine.
She was surprised when Mark reached across the table and put his hand on hers. “Hon, there’s something I’ve wanted to say for some time but haven’t known how to say it.” She looked him in the eye, not sure what was coming next. “I’m sorry. That’s what I wanted to say.”
“Sorry for what?”
“I’ve just been going through a rough patch lately. And instead of getting support from you, I’ve been pulling away. I’m sorry.” She could tell this was hard for him and thought that there might even be tears in his eyes.
She answered him, “It’s ok, hon.”
“It hasn’t been, but it will be from now on. At least I know what’s going on. And I’ll work on it.” She didn’t know what to say. This was important. Very important! But she couldn’t stop thinking of that warm spot in her belly.
Mark continued, “It all came home to me at that bookstore. The guy who runs the shop asked if I was driving through on my own. I mentioned you and he looked sad. Told me that he’d just lost his wife a year ago. Said that they were a team in everything. Then he looked me in the eye and told me that I’d be a fool to not be part of that team if I could. And he was right.” Now the tears spilled over. And the warm spot disappeared.
The rest of the dinner was wonderful. They talked of their first trip here. And how in love they were. After dinner they went back to their room together.
More together than they had been for a long long time.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Note to the FP Gal, I'll try not to fill the DVR.