Saturday, June 30, 2007

Handshake


My brother got a cool oppurtunity this week to meet the President. He's the one on the right with the smirk (my brother, not the President). Very cool.

Airport - 1970

This was the movie that kicked off the disaster film spree of the 70's. It involves a star studded cast in danger, in this case an airport that's dealing with a blizzard, a jet blocking a runway and a bomb on a plane. Of local intrest is that large portions were filmed at the Minneapolis airport (named Lincoln airport and moved to Chicago for the story). It's very strange to not see the sprawling terminals and parking ramps that the modern airport has.
In fact, the whole movie is a strange look back in time. There are curtesy phones (do they still have those), flamethrowing trucks for the runway and pagers(!) roughly the size of grenades. One plot of the movie deals with noise abatement, another tie to today. The movie is dated, to be sure, but that just serves to make it more interesting.
The plot is complicated with airport/community issues, troubled marriages, stowaways and that bomb I mentioned. It handles the complications well and is interesting throughout. The acting is very strong with two women nominated for best supporting actress. Helen Hayes won, but Maureen Stapleton impressed me more. The men are fine, though Bert Lancaster suffers distracting hair.
A good movie and well worth watching. I'd be curious to hear my parents impression of seeing the old airport, as well as the FP Gal's. Also wonder what Heidi would think of the old air traffic control equipment (though it may not be updated that much!). Of course it was hard to watch without thinking of 'Airplane!' while watching this movie, I'll admit. It has the same features, especially the tough guys on the ground trying to fix things in the air. I kept wanting someone to offer to speak jive or something. I wonder if the current run of parody movies will have a similar effect.

AFI's 100 Top Movie List (more thoughts)

I know, even more, but I've realized that I have more to say!
  • 'Raging Bull' was rated much too highly. It's not even Scorsese's best film much less the fourth best ever. 'Goodfellas' (#92) was a better movie and frankly I'm shocked that it didn't rate higher.
  • I love 'Singing in the Rain' but I'm not sure if it's a top ten movie either. The dancing is fantastic, it has plenty of great songs and is lots of fun. But...the story is incredibly thin, little more than a framework to hang the songs on. There's a good half dozen musicals (at least) that I'd rate higher.
  • I fell asleep during 'Vertigo' a few years back. My impression of it wasn't that high even without the snoozing. Apparently, it's the ninth best American film ever though. We have it on the DVR, so I'll give it another look. Hitchcock made some great great movies. Just can't help but wonder if they picked the wrong one here.
  • Where'd 'The Third Man' go? I thought it was dropped because it's really a British film, but no more so than 'Lawrence of Arabia' or 'Bridge on the River Kwai'. Also it made the original list with the same qualifications. It's universally regarded as an all time great film (including #1 on the British Film List). Wonder what happened?
  • Lots of griping online about 'Titanic' being on the list. Somehow this movie got a reputation as only appealing to teenage girls (even though it involved a topless Kate Winslet). People forget just how big a phenomenon this movie was. Or maybe they resent it for that reason under the reasoning that any popular thing must be garbage. I have no problem with it being here. It was a cool concept and was very well done. What more can you ask for?
  • The movie on this list that I've seen and never want to see again? Easy. '2001: A Space Odyssey' (#15). Forty-five minutes worth of story jammed into two and a half hours of time. Probably only enjoyable while under the influence.
  • That's it (probably).

Now you see it...

Been meaning to link to this for a few days (found at Mighty Optical Illusion). It's a spinning woman silhouette. Click over and look at which way she's spinning. Then look at the shadow beneath her and look which way she's spinning again. Kind of freaky.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Baby disagreement

Help me out with this, please. The FP Gal and I are trying to decide if a Nintendo Wii would be good for the baby. I think it'll help develop hand/eye skills and she thinks I'm full of crap.

Girl from Ipanema...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Car crashes

I've been in bad crashes before but nothing like these. Well, not as interesting to look at anyway.

Another movie list???

Via Libertas (your one stop shop for conservative film criticism), I find that the Alliance of Women's Film Journalists has come up with their own list of the top 100 movies.
The Tenth Anniversary of AFI’s 100 Greatest Movies List got us to thinking, especially when we noticed that of 400 films nominated for AFI’s list, only 4.5 were directed by women. Without knowing who’d been on AFI’s nominating committee nor what instructions they were given, we thought it would be interesting and fun to see whether AWFJ members– a diverse group of strongly opinionated and outspoken professional women film journalists who care passionately about the movies and industry they cover– would develop a list substantially different AFI‘s.
This list doesn't have some of the handicaps that the AFI worked under. For one thing, they've got movies from all over the world so they get to include some of my very favorites, like Amelie. It's also constructed with a brief description of why the film was chosen. Example:
AMELIE (2001): Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s aggressively sunny romance pits a quirky wallflower (Audrey Tatou, Olive Oyl’s flesh-and-blood cousine) against the troubles of the world and the wallflower wins, brightening the lives of her Montmartre neighbors and even finding a love as eccentric as she. Gloriously nutty valentine to oddballs everywhere or sickeningly sweet French pastry? Count me among the besotted: Jeunet’s digitally tweaked and sweetened Paris is whimsical perfection and Tatou’s crooked smile could turn vinegar to honey.
But the list suffers from an enormous self-awareness that it's from women/about women. It doesn't escape from being a top chick flick list and/or films loved only because of the work of a woman. It's a women's list rather than a list for all people. This leads to nonsense like including 'Working Girl' which probably wasn't one of the top 100 movies of the 80's. It also leads to bizarre additions like this:
CARRIE (1976): Captures every single horror about getting your period for the first time and then some.
Um. Ok. Still, it's a pretty good list and well worth perusing. Using the same rule of thumb, that any list like this has a prime function of introducing movies that you might like to see it scores pretty well.

Northwest update

Another article in the Strib, this time blaming the situation on absent pilots.
Northwest Airlines continued to struggle with flight cancellations Tuesday, and the carrier for the first time cited a higher-than-normal rate of pilot sick calls as one of the key factors for the disruptions.
Northwest was very careful not to lay blame here, but later in the same article:

Northwest pilots, who said Monday that they had warned management of the potential for a system breakdown, continued Tuesday to say that the airline's executives are to blame.

"If there are more people calling in sick, it's because of a situation that Northwest management created," said Wade Blaufuss, a Northwest pilot and a spokesman for the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA).

Translation? Quite a bit of mistrust between management and employees. Which never makes for a pretty picture. I hope they get this figured out quickly because it's ordinary travelers that take the brunt of it.
Again: Show up early! That way you get priority over people who try to skate in right on time.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tornado pictures

Via Air Mass, a plea to track down location and dates of some old pictures. There are three pictures at the link. I think I recognize this one from Austin. Doesn't that look like St A's down the street? And isn't that the (now) Paramount theater?
Any of you folks who knew Austin back when have any insight?

Northwest Air news

We dealt with hundreds of Northwest cancellations yesterday and word is that we should expect more this summer. I hate to say this, but it seems like NW is in a worse spot right now than the other bigs. I'm not saying that you shouldn't book them for the next few months, but you might want to check other options out.
The current round of problems looks like it's being driven by a pilot shortage. Those usually happen late in the month because pilots hit their maximum hours. Be aware of that. Also, show up very early for their flights for the next few months. This will give you more leverage if your flight is cancelled (or worse, oversold). How early? Probably an hour and a half to two hours.
The real problem with cancellations is that the industry doesn't have a lot of capacity to take up the slack. If your flight isn't flying, then 100+ people need to find spots on other aircraft. Often that space isn't there unless you're willing to wait a couple of days. Flying home on Sunday when you expected to fly on Friday is no fun.
One other travel bit of news, the Grand Lodge is the big hotel they just put up near the MOA. The one with the big waterpark. Well, it's going to become a Radisson. They hope to have more business travel because of the rebranding. I'm trying to picture businessmen after a tough round of meetings kicking back and going tubing. Nope, I don't see it.

AFI's 100 Top Movie List - the recent nominees

(You guys will probably get tired of this subject, but it interests me.)
One of the criticisms leveled at the AFI for their most recent list was the lack of newer movies. Something along the lines of 'Well, I guess there weren't any great movies made in the last ten years!'. Since the last list came out in '98, only three movies have been made that were honored here (Saving Private Ryan, The Sixth Sense and Fellowship of the Ring). There's a simple reason for not honoring more movies. One simple sign of greatness is how well a movie stands the test of time. A five year old movie hasn't had that chance yet.
Well, I got a look at the list of 400 nominees (freely available at the AFI website, free reg req). Here are the recent nominees that were available for voting. Along with commentary of course.

American Beauty - Great movie, but too early to tell if it's all time.
The Aviator - Didn't see it.
A Beautiful Mind - Didn't see it.
Being John Malkovich - Innovative and groundbreaking, but the story isn't timeless.
Brokeback Mountain - Socially groundbreaking, but not all time great.
Chicago - Ick. And I wanted to like it. Doesn't hold a candle to musicals of the 50's and 60's.
Crash - Very well told, but not sure if it's all time great.
Erin Brockovich - Ok movie, but not all time great.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Loved this movie. Might make the list next time.
Fight Club - A great one, it wouldn't hurt the list to have it on there.
Finding Nemo - A very sweet movie. Don't know how time will remember it.
Gladiator - A great epic (and I love epics) but not all time great.
Good Night and Good Luck - Didn't see it, but I doubt it's all time great.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - The weakest of the Harry Potter movies.
Hotel Rwanda - The Killing Fields of the 00's.
The Hours - Didn't see it.
The Insider - Overrated.
The Lord of the Rings movies - (Nominated separately.) Still think 'Two Towers' was the best of the three. I'd vote for them as a trilogy but maybe not as stand alones.
Lost in Translation - Loved this movie. Don't know if it has lasting power, though.
The Matrix - Groundbreaking effects and an interesting story. All time? Nah.
Memento - Possibly the strangest structure in movie history. Very cool and I don't know if that's enough.
Million Dollar Baby - Very well told and a great movie. Ask me in 15 years.
Moulin Rouge - The best modern musical. One of my personal favorites.
Mystic River - A very fine thriller but nothing special.
Pirates of the Caribbean - Compares to 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'. Might be the best action movie of the last 15 years.
Ray - Didn't see it.
Requiem for a Dream - Didn't see it, but the soundtrack is cooly bizzare.
Rushmore - Loved it. A modern 'The Graduate' but better.
Saving Private Ryan - An all time great and deserving of the list.
Shakespeare in Love - A great comedy and one of my favorites.
Shrek - Another great animated film but one of a golden age of them. Not sure that it stands out.
Sideways - Overrated. Very overrated.
The Sixth Sense - A great movie, an all time great thriller and better than 'Vertigo'.
Spiderman 2 - Probably the best superhero movie of all time, but I don't know that that means much.
There's Something About Mary - Hated this, but I know lots of people loved it.
Three Kings - Eh.
Traffic - Very well done, but when was the last time you got the itch to watch it again? Me either.


Not very many good movies to choose from. I'd swap out 'Fight Club' for 'Fellowship'. Plenty of others that I'd need more time to think about. After seeing this list, I don't feel like the voters shortchanged the last nine years at all.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth - 2006

A young girl and her very pregnant mother travel to the countryside in post civil war Spain. During the journey, the girl finds a very large insect which she takes for a fairy. They arrive at a lodge to meet the girl's new father, a sadistic army capitan. The girl also finds a stone labyrinth.
That first night she's woken by the fairy and led to the labyrinth where she meets a faun and is told that she's the reincarnation of a fairy princess. Probably. She must complete three tasks to prove herself worthy. But can she trust the faun?
Meanwhile, the capitan is trying to track down a remaining group of rebels in hills outside the town. He ruthlessly and savagely attacks any possible partisan. He's possibly the worst man in uniform since the concentration camp commandant in Schindler's List. A mole within the camp provides the sympathetic note for his enemies.
The two stories intertwine as the girl is pushed harder and harder away from the real world into a bizzare (and dangerous) fantasy world. Her actions create chaos around the camp and she finds tools in the other world that help her out in real life. Both stories are very interesting and filled with tension and danger.
The movie is very well put together. The cinematography is impressive and the fantasy elements are very well done. Two things surprised me, it's in Spanish with subtitles and it's very violent. Not intended for children! But for adults...you could do worse. Haunting, disturbing and well worth watching.

Movies filmed in New York

I'm still reading about the AFI list from last week and ran across this post from NY mag complaining that New York wasn't given it's due credit. The movie who's abscence bothers this writer is Woody Allen's 'Manhattan'. Now, I haven't seen it and the post makes it sound very good, but honestly, did anyone else look at this and think "there should be more movies about New York"? Anyone?
I find it interesting that the author describes this as a Los Angeles based list. According to the AFI, they polled 'leaders from across the film industry-artists, scholars, critics and historians' to create the list. That seems like a reasonable cross section for this type of task. It also seems inevitable that they would be Hollywood-centric in their choices. Maybe 'Sunset Blvd' and other show biz related films are given too much credit because of that.
However, googling around for other reactions, the one film that has created the most outrage over missing the list is easily 'Fargo'. Filmed in Minnesota. Guess those LA based Hollywood types can't get enough of endless snowscapes and wood chippers.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I got 'C'

Which basically says I don't care about other people much at all. Test here.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The dangers of Amusement Parks

Horrible story here.
A teen who lost her feet in an accident at a Kentucky amusement park has undergone surgery, a park spokeswoman said Friday, while two park operators closed similar rides around the country.
The girl's feet were completely amputated just below the ankle Thursday afternoon while riding the Superman Tower of Power at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville.
What an awful thing to happen. Can you imagine going to the park and having this happen. Just horrible.
This is one of the FP Gal's favorite rides. Guess we'll tuck our feet in from now on.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

AFI's 100 Top Movie List

Last night the FP Gal and I caught the latest AFI movie list. They kicked this whole movie list thing off back in '98 with the top 100 list. They've done a new series each year (last year was movie quotes) but they went back and did the top 100 again. Full list here.
While AFI officials have not decided if they will continue the annual lists in coming years, Firstenberg said the institute will do a new list of all-time best American films every 10 years as a guide to changing tastes in future decades.
I like this idea and hope they do continue it. It'll be very interesting to see what new films make the cut and what gets discarded as time goes on. For instance, some of the cuts this time were 'Amadeus' and 'Close Encounters' (which I both liked) and 'Dances with Wolves' which I hope time forgets.
Breakdown by decade? Of course!
10's 1
20's 3
30's 13
40's 11
50's 16
60's 16
70's 20
80's 8
90's 11
00's 1

Guess the 70's really were a good decade for movies! A few years tied for most movies with four (1939, 1969, 1976 and 1982). Other notes:
  • The most interesting are the ones that made this list but weren't nominees for Best Picture. Most recent were 'Toy Story', 'Do the Right Thing', 'Bladerunner' and 'Sophie's Choice'. Guess they'd like to do those votes over.
  • Similarly interesting, are the ones that were nominated but came in second to a movie that didn't make the list. 'Fellowship of the Rings', 'Sixth Sense', 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Goodfellas' all from the 90's.
  • 'Citizen Kane' probably needs to have it's number retired at some point so other movies have a shot at the top. Maybe they could retire the top five of each list to mix things up. Kind of a movie hall of fame thing. (Speaking of which, why don't we have one of those instead of the Rock and Roll thingee in Cleveland?)
  • The highest recent movie was 'Fellowship of the Rings' at #50. That's much too high. It simply wasn't the third best movie in the last 25 years. It was only the second best of it's own trilogy for pete sake!
  • AFI listed 'Bridge on the River Kwai' as being from 1941 when it's really from 1957. Wonder why they didn't catch that before their broadcast. There weren't alot of WWII movies involving prisoners of the Japanese made in 1941 after all.
  • As always, the show made me want to see some movies that weren't on my radar at all. Thats it's prime purpose and they do it well. I know the last list inspired several people to track down previously unknown movies and I hope this does as well.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Links!

The famous Lileks Olive Garden screed. Very funny.

Ken Jennings 'helpful' suggestions for Jeopardy!.

Thou Shalt Use Your Turn Signals

News out of the Vatican today is the release of 10 new commandments today, focusing on driving.

The "Drivers' Ten Commandments," as listed by the document, are:

1. You shall not kill.

2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.

3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.

4. Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents.

5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.

6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.

7. Support the families of accident victims.

8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.

9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.

10. Feel responsible toward others.

I bet Hans trouble with number five. Might keep him from becoming catholic. God bless Henry VIII.

I've long thought that Jesus missed an oppurtunity at the Mount of Olives about the whole turn signal thing. Seriously people, they're right there. They're designed for your use. Let people know what you're doing with them, ok? The maw of hell awaits...


Monday, June 18, 2007

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo

I'm trying to understand this.

I'm failing.

Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison

Ellison's book is about a man who believes that he has become invisible.
Invisible to the people around him and especially to the society at
large. This invisiblity is tied into a loss of identity so deep that
the narrartor never even names himself.
The novel is a history of a black man from the south. The first chapter
(very powerfully) tells of a speech that he gave at his graduation
dealing with 'humility'. The speech was so well received that the local
(white) businessmen invite him to reprise it at a function of theirs.
Before the talk he's invited to join a 'battle royal' where a number of
black men are made to fight each other blindfolded in a ring. After
this savagry he gives his speech and is rewareded with a scholarship to
a black college.
That's only the beginning of his lifetime education as he encounters
betrayal after betrayal. People he respects see him only as a tool and
try to use him for their own purposes. He's not seen as a man but a
prop. His community is sacrificed for the needs of 'brotherhood'.
Having no where to turn he becomes a hermit, searching for truth before
breaking back into the world.
This book was written in post world war two America and it reflects the
confusion of society in regards to race. The narrartor is given many
options but none of them turn out well. He explores all the paths he
can find but is ultimatly frustrated that none lead where he wants to
go. Even the choice between being an individual or a part of black
society is difficult. The biggest question is whether to choose a path
of personal improvement or to demand equality with the threat of
violence. It's a powerful book, all the more so for it's lack of clear
answers.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Residence Inn

We took a small vacation this week without leaving the metro area. A while back, I got a certificate for a free weekend stay at the Residence Inn near the Mall of America and this is when we took advantage of it. With the current heat wave, we enjoyed turning the air conditioning all the way up and the chance to float in a pool.
Have you ever stayed at a Res Inn? They specialize in longer stays. The room we were in had a full kitchen and seperate living room area. When I say 'full kitchen' I mean it. We had a range and a microwave. Our own dishwasher and a full size refrigerator with ice maker. If you were in town for a week on business you could easily load up and cook for yourself. They'll even go and get the groceries for you!
They also have a large breakfast buffet. We had a choice of waffles or french toast, scrambled eggs, sausage, oatmeal, various fruit, cereal or basic toasting options. We ate well both mornings (probably too well). Mon-Thur they also have food available, including grilled food on Wednesday. They know how to make someone feel at home.
Only complaint? The pool was too cold. Not sure if it was heated or not but we really couldn't stay in it for more than a few minutes. The hot-tub was nice but the FP Gal couldn't really use it for fear of cooking the baby. We also had an incident where the cleaning crew threw away the box that our new camera came in. This will make the rebate and warrenty problematic.
All in all, we were very pleased with our stay!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Misheard lyrics

Very well done.

Book blogging

This is going around (I saw it here) so I thought I'd jump in too. Ten book questions:
1. One book that changed your life. Probably 'Atlas Shrugged. At an impressionable age, I was shown that ability drives the world. I was taught to distrust any attempt to cheat value and that reality persists despite the efforts of anyone.
2. One book that you've read more than once. Another big one in my life, 'Time Enough for Love'. A book about a cynical rascal who has lived for thousands of years and is forced to share the things he's learned. It taught me alot about people and their good and bad points. Showed me that you have to expect something less than perfection in human activities. Another one that's big on ability.
3. One book you'd want on a desert island. Lots of candidates here but I'd probably go with 'Les Miserables'. Long enough to take some time to read with many wonderful passages to meditate on. The first hundred pages or so is a beautiful picture of Christian devotion.
4. One book that made you laugh. Just about any of Dave Barry's collections. Especially the one with the whale disposal.
5. One book that made you cry. 'Where the Red Fern Grows'. And you've got a heart of stone if it didn't make you cry too.
6. One book you wish had been written. Tough question. Probably something on Drake's life written by Garrett Mattingly. Maybe something written by Shakespeare's contemporary biographer.
7. One book you wish had never been written. 'Das Kapital'? Seriously, what book has caused more trouble than that one.
8. One book you're currently reading. 'Quicksilver' by Neal Stephenson. Just the parts with Jack Shaftoe. One of my favorite literary characters ever.
9. One book you've been meaning to read. 'Moby Dick'. I've got it and just need to get around to reading the darn thing.
10. Six people to tag. Ah, let's see. My lovely wife. Rachel. Carrie. Jodi. Mom. And my Aunt Liz. Have at it ladies!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Movie structure

Great post about how to structure a movie. The best illustrations are from this article. Basic plot was handed down to us from the ancient past (the Greeks?). It's survived this long for a good reason. It works!
One of my biggest movie pet peeves is when there is a large amount of time between the climax and the credits. Once the audience knows how the story ends, it's time to let them out of the theater. If someone could email this to Peter Jackson, I'd appreciate it.

Random Thursday night stuff

  • No baby class tonight (or anymore). We're kind of glad because the drive over was not an easy one. We're hoping the FP Gal doesn't go into labor during rush hour. Not sure what we'll do if she does unless it involves flagging down a cop.
  • Just over eight weeks left and it becomes more real every day. Everyone at work asks if I'm ready yet and I honestly tell them 'no'. How can you be ready for something that you've never done before? Also there's a saying about 'pride goeth before a baby' or something.
  • Remember the movie project? When I finished the 80's I was very ready to be done with it. Now? I kinda miss it. It's been nice to watch some other random movies but I miss the structure. So in a few weeks I'll be starting back up with the 70's. I hear they're pretty good.
  • Was it just last week that I was writing about the nice weather we've been having? I must have offended some weather god or something. Ever since then it's been hot and humid with very few clouds. Ick.
  • If the FP Gal ever achieves large amounts of fame, she'd like numerous false reports of her demise.
  • That's it!

Newsradio

for Jodi (link). The last ten seconds kill me. Do you need to borrow a cat?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

New park

in one of my favorite areas.

On Tuesday, Tucker was back on the island as NSP's successor, Xcel Energy, dedicated Water Power Park and opened its gates along historic Main Street for the first time. The 1.4-acre park begins as a walkway that skirts the company's hydroelectric plant and then opens into a wider portion of the northern tip of the island.

It brings visitors close enough to St. Anthony Falls to feel the spray of its water and be humbled by the rumble as the river drops nearly 50 feet across a spillway.

Sounds very nice.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Knocked Up - 2007

(Not a reference to the post below.)
So we had some free time today (while celebrating) and decided on an impromptu movie. On our radar was a movie from the same people as '40 Year Old Virgin'. A movie about an accidental pregnancy, called 'Knocked Up'.
The movie is about a stoner who meets a stunner who just got a promotion. She's feeling good, has too much to drink and they end up back at her place. Birth control confusion happens and eight weeks later, she embarrassingly tracks him down again to tell him that he's a dad.
The two are horribly mismatched. Not only does he not have money, he's not the least bit interested in doing something that might put him on the path to having money. She doesn't want people to know about him and his malnourished ego keeps him in the game. She decides to keep the baby and maybe if they spend enough time together, something will click.
Life lessons are learned and the story, while not surprising, is sweet and engaging. The movie is a little unfocused, but it offers lots of very nice scenes. When the accidental dad breaks the news to his father, he's met with excitment and joy and told that he's the best thing his dad ever created.
Lots of strong language. And drug use. And nudity. And more strong (crude) language. But...if you can get past that, the movie is very good.

More happiness

found here.

Happy anniversary!






Hard to believe it's been two whole years! And yes, I'd do it all over again.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Fracture - 2007

So I had a few hours to kill yesterday during the baby shower, so I went off to a cheap theater in hopes that something there would be worth two dollars. 'Perfect Stranger'? No. 'Are we Done Yet'? No. Ah, here's one I actually wanted to pay full price for, 'Fracture'.
The movie stars Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling. Hopkins has killed his wife for having an affair. There's no question that he did it, he admitted as much. The case goes to a hotshot lawyer (Gosling) who has been so good as a city prosecutor that he's being hired by an important firm.
Sounds like there's no drama, right? There really isn't. Until the case starts unraveling. And Hopkins starts twisting the knife. And twisting some more. Actually, Hopkins is his usual brilliant self and even would have been worth full price. The rest of the cast is good, if not remarkable.
Did I enjoy this movie? I really did. After being a bit disappointed with Spiderman 3 and seriously disappointed with Pirates 3, this one hit the spot. The story line was clear and well written. It didn't seem overly long or contrived. It was a very nice movie in the genre 'thriller'.
One thing did distract me. Early on I made this connection and had trouble getting it out of my head!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Summerset Reunion

Last night I went to Austin to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Summerset theater, the summer community theater. (40 years! That's almost half of my mother's age.) This was a wonderful opportunity for me to connect with some people that I hadn't seen in years.
They put on a show that interspersed the theater stalwarts with some song and dance numbers. The funniest bit was an old vaudeville bit called 'living statues'. It involves an ingenue (Lia) singing a song while three men in long underwear strike figures of famous statues and historical scenes (discus thrower, the thinker, Washington crossing the Delaware, charlie's angels). Very funny stuff!
I was struck by a few things.
  • The huge amount of commitment that some people have put into that theater is impressive. These are people that sometimes spend mornings building sets, afternoons creating costumes and evenings in rehearsals. Understanding spouses are a must.
  • I miss those days! Not that I was ever a 16 hour a day type, but there was a time when I was doing six or seven shows a year (out of a possible nine). They were my family away from home for a good period of time. I miss that feeling of belonging. (This is different than my usual missing of being on stage.)
  • I did 40 or 50 shows from 1985 until 1995. Sounds like quite a bit doesn't it? A blip on the radar compared to some people there. Very little of that was summer theater, maybe seven or eight.
  • God, I miss those people!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Another weapon against warming?

Paint?
The Earth has an albedo of 0.29, meaning that it reflects 29 per cent of the sunlight that falls upon it. With an albedo of 0.1, towns absorb more sunlight than the global average. Painting all roofs white could nudge the Earth's albedo from 0.29 towards 0.30. According to a very simple "zero-dimensional" model of the Earth, this would lead to a drop in global temperature of up to 1 °C, almost exactly cancelling out the global warming that has taken place since the start of the industrial revolution. A zero-dimensional model, however, excludes the atmosphere and, crucially, the role of clouds. [But!] It would be interesting to see if more sophisticated models predict a similar magnitude of cooling.
My father in law has helped with a green roof project in the past. I wonder if we'll start seeing more and more of these micro efforts to halt warming.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Fifth (and final) childbirth class

Last night we covered caring for newborns. Everything from how they look when they come out (unfinished) to what we needed to do for them/with them when they come home. Apparently, they're a lot of work.
We opened up with a video that showed how parental interaction helps the baby learn and develop. Focusing on shapes, having 'conversations' with those around and general playing all help turn this cute little thing into a human being. Seeing five or six families (same ones from the birthing videos) just insanely in love with their babies was enough to warm the hardest heart. (I'll admit that these videos brought tears to my eyes several times.)
Then we looked at pictures of newborns so we could see various possible blemishes. Blue hands and feet are common with newborns. They fade in time so show biz isn't a certainty. They can also get 'stork bites' which are reddish blotches. (I meant to ask if stork delivery was an option but forgot to.) Basically we learned that newborns aren't cute, not matter what polite people say. Give them a couple of days though...
Next was some basic childcare when they get home. We learned how to swaddle. The rule is 'the tighter, the better'. We were shown a Miracle blanket that's designed for swaddling. The miracle part of it is two flaps that are designed to hold the arms in place. I felt bad watching the demo on a doll. I thought, "In an emergency, that baby would be trapped!". Look that sentence over again and enjoy the absurdity. Guess I've got some lessons still to learn. We're going to practice swaddling on Ozzie.
And that was it for the classes. We're hoping to take a breastfeeding class in a few weeks. I'm not all that enthusiastic, but this is part of what I signed on for as a dad (read the small print carefully!). In an effort to encourage dads to attend, our teacher said "Where else can you see so many bare breasts?" Well, the quickest way to desexualize a woman is to hang a feeding baby off of her.
We enjoyed the classes and they were well worth it. I think the videos helped us the most. Being able to see what to expect and watch other couples in labor was enormously useful. Our teacher (Sara something or other) was wonderful, with a great sense of humor and loads of personal experience and advice. I'm glad we did this.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

'Things Not to Say' list

"Hon, you look ten months pregnant."

This shows my inexperience, both with what to say and how to judge pregnancy levels. I'm not alone in this as people at her office think the same thing. She looks awfully cute though!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Random Wednesday thoughts

  • I complain about the weather up here from time to time but I've got to say that I've really enjoyed the last few days. Drizzly and cool with periods of sunshine. Very nice sleeping weather and plenty of negative ions. Wish we could bottle this for the inevitable heat wave in July.
  • Have I linked to this site before? It tracks popularity of names over time. Mine peaked in the '60s (kind of). The FP Gal's name peaked in the 80's. Most popular current name starting with an 'L'? Lacey. Who knew?
  • Another YouTube clip? This one shows centuries of women in art. Almost hypnotic.
  • Guess we'll have to change our policy with new agents at work.
  • We watched The Imposters this weekend. A fun, quirky movie about two actors who accidently stowaway on a cruise ship where almost everyone has a scam of some sort. Billy Connolly kills me in this movie.
  • That's it!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Funniest commercial on TV

Fun with wikipedia

So I'm killing time at work today on hold with an airline, so I tool over to wikipedia to find out something new and interesting. See the featured article there? Look to the left and you'll see a little link that says 'Random article'. That's where the fun lies! (Quick hit it ten times and see if you can avoid hitting an athlete or pop culture reference.)
Today's journey brought me to the page of Perce Blackborow, a sailor on the Shackleton expidition. Note the picture of him with the cat on his shoulder. The cat named Mrs. Chippy. A cat with his own page. At the bottom of that page is a list of historical cats. Only eighteen are listed but there's a good half dozen interesting stories there.
  • Hodge - who belonged to Samuel Johnson and was 'a very fine cat, a very fine cat indeed.'
  • Humphrey - whom Cherie Blair was accused of murdering.
  • India - W's cat, who caused protests and 101 dogs to be named Bush. (Um, ok.)
  • Muezza - Mohammad's favorite cat. He once cut a sleeve off to avoid disturbing her.
  • Peter - who got an obit in a cricket reference book.
  • Simon - who was awarded a medal for 'Behavior of the Highest Order'.
The entry for Humphrey is a classic of Wikipedia absurdity, btw.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

More testdriving



World's greatest skylines


A list of the top 15 is found here. Also listed are three honorable mentions. Was surprised that Rio didn't make the cut. I'll always have a soft spot for this skyline right here:

But were the squirrels on sale?

Link.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Car names

Your cars all have names, right? That's only normal behavior, isn't it? A few weeks ago one of my coworkers bought a car and was very excited about it. The only damper on her joy came when I asked if she'd picked out names yet. She looked at me blankly so I asked everyone in our row. Name after name. Some were cute names. Some were based on the license plate. Some had adjectives (i.e. 'Sassy Girl'). She'd never heard of this before so she started taking suggestions. I gave her 'the red menace' but she's too young for that to have meant anything.
To my shame though, my car doesn't have a name either. Somehow in the four years of owning her a name never popped out. That simply wouldn't do! And it didn't have to be that way. After discussing it with the FP Gal, I chose a name that she'd shot down for the baby. Now that I've bought her, she will be called Pagoda.
Bonus observation: people tend to drive cars of the opposite gender. I'm sure there's a psychology thesis in there somewhere but I don't know what it is.

Sounds nice

doesn't it?

Friday, June 01, 2007

Fourth baby class

We had our fourth class last night (only one more to go and then we're allowed to have a baby). Last night we focused on Cesarean birth. As I mentioned last week, I don't do well with surgery or cutting so this wasn't an easy class to sit through. Did you know that they have the dad accompany the mom into surgery? And that they don't put her out for it? Didn't know I was signing up for that! The FP Gal has given me until the actual birth to get over my fears about this. (Deep breath. Focus.) The common joke is that in many years they have yet to lose a single father. I'd hate to ruin that streak.
Our teacher is so funny and wise in many ways. She's had three of her own, the most recent just a few months ago. This lets her give us advice that she wished she had known. She suggested that mom go to bed very early or sleep very late so that she can still get seven or eight hours even with breaks for baby. Makes sense to me.
Also talked about post partum care. Apparently some moms can experience fatigue and mood swings. The suggestion for dads is to pamper them a bit. Very convenient advice coming from a mother, right? Still I'll have to go along with it or I'll be in trouble with all of my coworkers.
The rest of the night was exercises. We did one where we selected options from cards to represent our ideal birth (one hour of pushing vs 3 hours pushing, own doctor vs random doctor off the street). After we had the ideal birth in front of us, we started flipping cards to show a less than ideal one. At the end we had all of least desirable choices, but still had a healthy baby. We decided that we'd be fine with that!