Thursday, January 31, 2008
When he gets in his car he decides to hit the open road instead. He listens to the radio and heads south. He has had enough of this life and he wants to see the rest of the world. He stops and ponders his map and decides to head back north. (This is where the novel lost me.)
He doesn't go home. Instead, he shacks up with a woman he meets. He makes contact with his wife's minister, but no one else from their families. The minister plays it soft, deciding that the couple should make contact on their own time.
The time comes when his wife gives birth. They get back together and for a time, everything is good. That fades as Rabbit's selfishness gets the better of him. The consequences are very harsh. Rabbit takes flight again.
Was it a good novel? I'm not sure. Rabbit might be the most unlikeable protagonist that I ever remember reading about. Selfish, vain and constantly justifying himself as too good for the people around him. Updike said that he wrote this story in response to 'On the Road', to show how people on the run hurt those they leave behind. The author succeeds in making him unlikeable. That doesn't necessarily make it a good read.
The entire thing is written in present tense ('Rabbit walks towards the door.') which feels gimmicky. You get used to it but it feels forced and arty.
This is the first book in a series, two of the others won Pulitzer prizes, so someone obviously liked it. I guess it just wasn't my style.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
The windchill this morning was somewhere around -40. Got Relia to daycare without problem. Then stopped on the way into work to get some Coke Zero and a Powerball ticket. Went back out to Pagoda and she wouldn't start. Had the same problem a few weeks back, too.
Called the good people of AAA and they came out and jumped the car. They asked me how old the battery is and I had to admit that it's the same one that came with the car, nearly five years ago. How often should you change those things anyway? Long story short, there is some battery shopping in my near future.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
- We had nice weather over the last few days with highs of 25, 36 and 42. We might have climbed up to one degree today (low of -16). Holy cats, I'm tired of this weather! The daily average high and low for the month? 22 and 4.
- Current temp in Honolulu? 75 (but windy).
- Meant to mention this in my review of 'Chinatown', this movie was supposed to be the start of a trilogy. They made another part of the series with 'The Two Jakes'. The third plot was taken for a different film, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit'. How weird is that?
- The Twins traded the best pitcher in baseball today to the Mets for four prospects. A lot of people think this points to the inequities in the payroll system but I don't see it. Not that there aren't big problems with the uncapped system but this wasn't a symptom of it. The Twins had a very nice run and now they need to reload. All but the richest teams go through this and now it's their turn. The signings of Morneau and Cuddyer show that they can keep some young talent, just not all of it. (The trade itself? Hard to see how the Twins didn't get fleeced.)
- Since I'm talking sports, I may as well put my Superbowl prediction out there. Rather than go boldly and pick the Giants, I'm going to go the cowardly route. I think the extra week lets them rest some lingering problems and get healthier (especially in the secondary). I think they keep it close but lose. That's my pick, Giants cover but the Pats get the trophy.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Saturday, January 26, 2008
The subject was a difficult one and he did the best he could. He acknowledged that women are too unique to have some kind of catchall movie list for them. The Eye's suggestion was to have the lady bring the movie while the man cooks. The list?
10. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
9. When Harry Met Sally(1989)
8. Notting Hill (1999)
7. Far From Heaven (2002)
6. The Philadelphia Story (1940)
5. The African Queen (1951)
4. Some Like It Hot (1959)
3. It Happened One Night (1934)
2. Casablanca (1942)
1. The Notebook (2004)
The FP Gal and I talked about this last night and we tried to remember what the first video we watched together was. We think it was 'Zoolander'. If you know my long term aversion to Ben Stiller, you know that I must have been in love.
I'm curious what movies other couples have watched as their first. I think for Hans and Rachel it was 'Blackhawk Down' but I'm not sure. Anyone else?
Thursday, January 24, 2008
- I've finally found my dream swimming pool. The thing is so big that it comes with a search party. We may have to plan a trip to Chile...
- Dear Charmin, we enjoy your product but this commercial disturbs us greatly. Just stop it. Please.
- Why no pictures of Relia lately? Because I don't know where the cord is to connect the camera to the computer. I'd ask the FP Gal, but I never remember to do so. The combination of my work hours and our general tiredness has wiped out my memory.
- I am sooooo tired of the cold weather. It seems like we've been below zero at least part of each day for the last month. I don't know what the actual number is, but it's been too many. The weird part? I feel bad for my car. I'd love to take Pagoda somewhere warm for a couple of days so she can just thaw out.
- If we had the money I think I'd do this some year. It just sounds like a blast. Maybe I'd take Heidi with me.
- That's all!
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
The 2007 Oscar nominees were announced. I haven't seen any of the Best Picture nominees yet. There was a time in the late 90's when I was pretty good about seeing them before the award show. Not so much anymore and I don't know if I should blame that more on age or parenthood.
Four of the movies interest me and I would certainly see them if time and money permitted. Both 'No Country for Old Men' and 'There Will Be Blood' were produced by the same guy (and I think shot in the same general area). I've heard gushing reviews of both of them and they look very good. The FP Gal wants to see 'Juno' and I do too. This is the one we're most likely to see in the next few weeks. (This is where I give my annual spiel about separating the comedies and dramas. If it was good enough for the Greeks, it's good enough for us.) 'Atonement' looks like 'The English Patient' and I thought that was a great movie. Both of them were based on novels that made the short list for the Man Booker Prize.
The odd one out? 'Michael Clayton'. This movie looks like a paint-by-numbers 'corporations are evil' film. We've already had 'Erin Brockovich' and 'A Civil Action' and about a hundred others. New script please.
Looking through the rest of the list... Man, I didn't see much this year! I'm amazed that 'Surfs Up' got a nod for Best Animated. The commercials had 'written by a committee' all over them. That's not a compliment.
So, who saw what and what did you think?
Monday, January 21, 2008
Scandal erupts and then mystery. The woman who hired him wasn't what she seemed to be. This sets up a complicated plot that hinges on a water conspiracy and a strained father/daughter relationship.
Like most hardboiled detective movies, the plot isn't as important as the characterization and the style. Nicholson is very able with the role but it isn't a knockout. Just double checked and he was nominated for Best Actor in this role. Guess the Academy and I will have to disagree here. Faye Dunaway (also nominated) plays a very icy woman who has had a very hard life. She was good but not outstanding.
What worked? The story. It unfolds calmly and with great care. Step by step we find out each part of the web (almost). The final scene shows a shaken Nicholson as things fall apart. His comrade tells him not to take it to heart, "Forget it Jake. That's Chinatown."
A good movie.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Tonight's game was especially sweet because there is a large number of obnoxious Packer fans at work. They would have been insufferable if they were going to the Super Bowl. Having the game decided by St Bret the Football Sharer was an added bonus.
A word on scheduling, if you will. There was no good reason not to start these games at noon and 3:30. Even 12:30 and 4:00 would have been fine. The NFL gives us a fine rhythm of games for the first three months and then screws it up with Thursday games during December. Then comes the playoffs and then screw it up even more. The extra week off before the Super Bowl blows the whole rhythm to hell. NFL, this is an easy thing to fix. Make it so!
We had ambitious plans for Saturday. Relia was going to go over to Mom's in the morning for some babysitting. I'd go and see a movie (Cloverfield) and then go back and pick her up. That evening we would drop Relia off at the FP Gal's folks for an overnight stay (her first away from Mom!). We would go to my companies holiday party for a night of dining, dancing and winning prizes.
The first hiccup started on Friday. Well, hiccup probably doesn't really cover it. Relia decided to throw up a few times. Yes, she was sick with a stomach complaint. By the end of Friday night the FP Gal started feeling bad herself. It didn't hit me until Saturday morning.
Despite my queasy stomach, I took our baby over to Mom's place on Saturday. Relia hadn't thrown up since the afternoon before so she was probably ok. Mom was willing to risk it. I dropped her off and went to the movie.
Which reminds me...
Cloverfield - 2008
This movie is a combination of 'Godzilla' and the 'Blair Witch Project'. If that sounds good to you, then you should go and see it. If you don't want to see a large something knocking down buildings while the handheld camera bobs and zooms then don't.
My own review is incomplete because I had to leave the movie about twenty minutes in so I could throw up in the garbage can right outside the theater. Not my proudest moment as an adult. I told the theater people, apologizing profusely.
Then I realized that my hat was still in there so I went back in. Didn't feel so bad this time so I sat watched the rest of the movie. Not great, but worth watching.
Picked up our adorable little girl and went home, going straight to bed. Got up hours later and still felt bad. After much discussion decided to go to the holiday party.
Dropped off Relia (very hard for the FP Gal) and went to the hotel. I introduced her around (not that she'll remember any names) and we got a table. I didn't feel like I could really eat anything but I did nibble around the edges. Then our prime rib came. I took one bite and raced off to the bathroom. Vomit number two! The upside is that after that I could eat again.
Prize time and we could hardly keep our eyes open. We ended up winning a $25 gift certificate from Target (we were hoping for airline tickets). Then we left.
Straight home and into bed (roughly 10p). I woke up at midnight and spent the rest of the night fading in and out in front of the TV. The FP Gal slept the whole night through.
Today? I feel much better and the FP Gal feels lousy. We should probably put some kind of biohazard sign on the front door.
Never really thought of the consequences of a sick child before. Welcome to the joys of parenthood.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
- Last night the FP Gal compared Relia to Hitler. I think it was because of her repeated hand motions, but it might also have been because of her hunger for the Sudetenland.
- Just to be clear, she wasn't really comparing our adorable daughter with the second greatest monster in history.
- The strangest story I've read this year? This one right here. We live in a bizzare world.
- That building over there on the right? It's called 'Il Duomo' and it's in Florence. Lately it's been popping up all over the place in my world. Some kind of weird synchonicity or something. If I start sculpting it out of mashed potatoes then we know something is up.
- It's about five weeks until pitchers and catchers report. It can't come soon enough.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
At first I thought they wanted to connect all of the past games. I got Excel and made lists of past cities. Then I made lists of Skyteam destinations. Then I started connecting dots. Do you know how tough it is to get air service to find air service to Cortina d'Ampezzo (host of the 1956 winter games)? Not so easy.
Then I talked with some people at work today and figured out that they really just wanted 11 different flights, each one using a different carrier and highlighting a different hub/Olympic city. Much easier! Seriously, after all the ground work that I did last night that took me about 20 minutes.
I wish I got requests like this more often. This is the type of work I'd love to do everyday. Geography puzzles, I am some kind of geek!
Monday, January 14, 2008
The two-month-old strike by the Writers Guild of America scuttled the big celebrity bash at the 65th annual Globes, which were replaced by a bizarre and speedy news conference to announce recipients, without any winners around to gush their thanks.Still, not everyone is happy about it.
"I just hope this whole thing gets cleared up before the Academy Awards, because it would really be a tragedy if a similar fate transpired for them," said Richard Zanuck, producer of "Sweeney Todd," which won the Globe for best musical or comedy.A 'tragedy'. Took the words right out of my mouth. Maybe when the strike is settled, some hot new screenwriter could give us a script illustrating these tragic events when Hollywood celebs had to find some other place to party. Oh the humanity!
Sunday, January 13, 2008
- It's full of recognizable landmarks for destruction.
- New Yorkers love to see themselves so they'll go to see it.
- People outside of New York enjoy watching them suffer so we'll go see it.
I'm guessing that Tokyo is the second most destroyed city, thank you Godzilla. I have no idea what third place would be but if I was guessing, it would be San Francisco.
He's not completely alone though. A virus has wiped out most of humanity. A portion of the remnant has been turned into vampire like beasts. During the day he is safe from them, but he has to be very careful at night. Smith has fallen into a daily routine that includes watching all of the movies in a video store alphabetically. He also broadcasts a radio message in case there are other survivors.
Smith is very good in this movie. In some ways he reminded me of Tom Hanks in 'Castaway'. The flashbacks show real tenderness as he says goodbye to his family. His interaction with his dog is also superb.
I read alot of reviews that criticized the CGI used for the Others. It didn't really bother me (and that type of thing usually does). The ending took me by surprise (and could have been stronger) but that's a small criticism, too. Really the whole thing was very good.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
First up is the Seahawks/Packers game. This is probably causing stress at my sister's place (cute pic though). Who do I think will win? If both teams played last week and it was being played at a neutral site, I'd call this a toss up. However, the Packers had a week off and a drunken, boisterous crowd at their backs. I'd pick them if I had money riding on it. I'll cheer for the 'Hawks.
Tonight we get Jaguars/Patriots. The line for this game is 13 points. I'll be very surprised if the Patriots win by fewer than three touchdowns. This is probably the most certain game of the weekend.
Tomorrow's early game brings the Chargers to Indianapolis. I'll take the Colts, thank you. They're just a better team.
The divisional round finale is Giants/Cowboys. I thought the Giants would lose last week and was very wrong. I still think it this week for what it's worth. If I was going to pick an upset, this would be it. I'm guess I'm saying I'd pick Dallas outright but bet the under.
UPDATE: The Packers hosted a snow game and it was beautiful to watch. Or would have been if our cable wasn't jumpy. For the record, we've had more bad cable days in the last six months than Jodi and I did with two years of dish service.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Thursday, January 10, 2008
It went very well. She spent the third floor awake and looking at me. We checked out the fourth floor to see what was still open. Someone should open a ghost town themed restaurant up there because it would fit right in. The smoking ban has really done a number on it.
Back to the lower levels. We stopped at the calendar store so I could get another one for my desk. I've found that it takes three (page a day, monthly and annual) to work well. Relia wanted something with kittens, I wanted cheesecake. We settled on 'Italian pictures'.
Down to the lower level where we had a scary moment. I stopped at the 'Rosetta Stone' kiosk to price their products. Very reasonably priced (if you're a multi-national corporation). We moved out into the mail aisle and found...my nemesis.
I had an immediate fight-or-flight reaction. Is it illegal to ram a mascot with a stroller? He looked at me and I looked right back. He stuck out a flipper. It could have been a trick but what else could I do? I shook it. His companion (handler?) gave me some coupons for Underwater World and they hurried away. It had been a close one, but we made it.
Got her back home without incident. It was a good day.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
In other words, don't count on anything!
3. Feiler/Skurnik Effect: What's stunning is the ferocity and speed with which Hillary's fortunes turned around in those final hours. Kf has a theory to explain that! Actually, two theories. The familiar Feiler Faster Thesis holds that voters are comfortable processing information at the vastly increased speed it can come at them. Jerry Skurnik's "Two Electorate" theory holds that voters who don't follow politics are much less informed than they used to be, which causes polls to shift rapidly when they do inform themselves. Put these two together and you've got a vast uninformed pool of voters that only begins to make up its mind until the very last minute--after the last poll is taken, maybe--and then reaches its decision by furiously ingesting information at a Feileresque pace. In fact, the percent of voters who made up their minds at the very end in N.H. was unusually large. (Add convincing statistic here!)
Two implications of the Feiler/Skurnik combo: a) Momentum from the previous primary doesn't last. When the early primary dates were set, the CW held that the Iowa loser would never be able to stop the Iowa "wave" effect in the five days between the two primaries. It was too short a time. In fact, it wasn't short enough. A three day separation and maybe Obama would have won. As it was, by the time the uninformed voters tuned in on Sunday and Monday, Iowa was ancient history.*** b) Instead, these voters saw clips of Hillary having her emotional tearing up moment. In other words, the Feiler/Skurnik Effect magnifies the significance of any events that occur in the final day or two of the campaign. After yesterday's election, expect more of these events.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
I like #5 especially (even if I don't follow it). #6 gives me the most trouble, but it is also the best place to turn for inspiration. Disagree with #8, as suspense is sometimes the only point of a short story.
- Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
- Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
- Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
- Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.
- Start as close to the end as possible.
- Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
- Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
- Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
Monday, January 07, 2008
Sunday, January 06, 2008
This is how the story begins. A small time PI has trouble believing that a friend of his could have been a murderer. This embroils him in a far reaching web with unexpected connections and unknown dangers. A man who can't stop from knowing the big picture can cause a lot of trouble.
I loved this book. The story was interesting as it went in several unexpected directions. But the style was the thing. It's written in first person from Marlowe's viewpoint. He mixes short brutal statements with unexpected poetic insights. I couldn't get Humphrey Bogart's narration out of my head the whole time.
This was the first thing of Raymond Chandler's that I've read but it won't be the last. A great book.
Saturday, January 05, 2008
I woke up hours later, unable to talk because my mouth was full of tubes. They gave me a notepad and I asked how my passengers were. Second question? Who won the football games?
When the FP Gal puts me in a clinic for sports addiction, this will be the story she tells them.
Jaguars at Steelers - I'll go with Jaguars. Pittsburgh just seemed to peak to early.
Giants at Buccaneers - Bucs all the way and this is the easiest one of the weekend. (Yes, I just jinxed Tampa.)
Titans at Chargers - Man, I don't trust the Chargers here. Guess I trust the Titans even less.I'd bet the under but pick the Chargers to win.
Almost killed my new sister-in-law but she made it through, thank God. My brother had it the easiest, though I can't really call that an easy thing for anyone. I was lucky enough to take the impact on less sensitive area, my face.
Lucky for me, the doctors at Mayo are top notch and everything was put back together again. I've had people work with me for years that have no idea of my limitations. Well, it's well known that I can't smell things anymore. You can't tell about the vision thing unless you invite me to a 3D party.
I used to think about it everyday but don't anymore. Well, this time of year brings it back but otherwise it's not a big deal. The simple lesson is that you don't know when your time is up. You shouldn't put things off forever because you don't know when forever is on it's way.
After the accident I felt bad because I really didn't have a legacy to pass on. The novel writing was in part a response to that. Aurelia is a bigger response. Not that I had her for legacy reasons or anything like that, but she's definitely a mark on the world.
Speaking of children, having one of my own has made me reflect on how awful this must have been for all of the parents involved. What an awful phone call to receive! The news was ultimately good, but I can't imagine the stress of that situation. In some ways, it's easier to be the one in the hospital.
Well, everything (and everybody) is fine now. That's the best we can hope for.
Thursday, January 03, 2008
The main part of the novel deals with a pair of lovers. A young man glances at a young woman (both fifteen or so) and falls in love. They secretly pass love letters back and forth. When her father finds out he is furious and tries to stop them. They persist.
Years later, she finally meets him face to face and he doesn't live up to the unreal expectation that she's built up in her head. She cuts him off and wants him out of her life. He pledges to love her forever. And he does.
It takes another fifty years for him to get another chance to pledge his love, but he waits that long. I suppose we should see that as noble or romantic. Frankly, I found it creepy and rather childish. Move on, buddy!
The heroine of the piece left me cold. She rejected her first suitor because of outsized expectations. She accepted her second one because she felt bad about the first. No matter how modern she was in any other situation she was utterly unable to come to any understanding of her own heart. Maybe she deserves pity, but certainly not admiration.
Not my cup of tea, I guess.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
- Seriously, what day of the week is this? The combination of weekend days and Tuesday holidays has me seriously screwed up. Off again tomorrow and back to work on Friday. I'll be sometime next week before I have this figured out.
- Space news? There is a 5% chance that Mars is going to be smacked by an asteroid on Jan 30th. The rock is similar to the one that created the crater in Arizona. It seems wrong to cheer for destruction but...that would be cool!
- The Iowa Caucus is tomorrow night. (That means that the commercials in southern Minnesota should end, deus volent.) For a primer on the incredibly complex rules, go here. Seriously, it'll be nice to have some actual votes cast instead just relying on polls.
- Radical NFL playoff proposal here (number 2). I like it. Would have made last weekend's games better. Probably too radical, and really the NFL has no reason to seriously tamper with it's product at this time.
- That's it!
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
I love the idea behind this and really hope that the execution works well. I'd love to see NBC take this and run with it. Imagine what a Donald Trump or Mark Cuban would come up with. The results would not be dull, I could guarantee that.
It was fun to write and I feel good about it. That's not a bad place to be. Now if someone read it and decided they wanted to publish...