Sunday, February 28, 2010

Thaw and Freeze

After my complaints about the weather earlier in the week, I should note that the actual pattern hasn't been that bad. Each day it's been very cold in the morning but has warmed up in the afternoons. Our snowdrifts are steadily being eaten away. Huge puddles in the streets and sidewalks, of course. Enough so that we could probably use a few overcast days to let the waters recede a bit. But I won't complain.
Today it was nice enough that we even had the porch open for a bit. We don't quite have bits of grass poking out yet but it feels hopeful. We might actually see the end of this long winter. Oh, I'm sure that March will bring some more snow. It's temporary though. The stuff that falls in November can last a good five months; anything that comes down now will have a few weeks at best.
And good riddance!

Scenes from a MOA

Relia and I gave the FP Gal some time off this morning and walked out at the MOA by ourselves. We got going early enough that we were there before the stores opened, beating the shopping crush. Pre-child we used to target this time because the walking was easiest. Now we do it to keep Relia out from underfoot of innocent strangers. But when it's just father-daughter, this becomes a bit boring.
We did a couple of levels, Relia happily munching animal crackers while I sipped on my mocha. Over the last few months I've become a steady mocha drinker, much to my own surprise. Relia has gotten used to this. During our first few minutes at the MOA, she now says, "Yes you may have some coffee,".
Our first stop was at the PacSun place. Their entry way is built like a skateboarding halfpipe and Relia likes to climb around on it. If there is music playing she dances to it. Today that meant her usual upbeat bopping and jumping set to some kind of slow metal dirge. She didn't care that the tuneage didn't match, she just wants to boogie.
On to her fish. When it's just the two of us she likes to take the aquarium part at a dead run. Since this is by far the best bit, I try to slow her down. (Btw, our membership means that we can take guests for half price. If anyone wants to join our regular Thursday morning visit, let me know.)
Up to the amusement park and her new favorite, the carousel. She tells me each time what her favorite is; it changes quite a bit. Today she told me that she'll ride the horsie (no mention of which one) and I could ride the camel. I told her we'd need to wait until her the FP Gal was with so she could take pictures.
Of further note, today she measured at least an inch over the minimum height requirement for the baby bumper cars. How the heck did she get to 37 inches tall already? Strangely, the park has two (2) different bumper cars, one for little kids and one for everyone else. We watched both of them today. The little ones are so small that they really don't understand how to drive. That means that the first few minutes feature a clump of cars, none of which can move. It was almost Scottish in its bumper-carishness. (And I just realized that I've never blogged about that, so this joke doesn't make sense. Will have to fix that...)
Then we made our way over to the log ride so we could see the boats splash. An animatronic moose (Jodi named him Marvin) lives there and he's one of our regular stops. Relia was on the verge of a meltdown so I tried to ease her on home. Didn't quite work. The other shoppers were understanding. It probably helped that I was grimly and hurriedly making moving toward the exit with her over my shoulder.
Just another day with my little angel.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chocolat - 2000

Juliette Binoche plays a brazen chocolatier in a small repressed French town in the 50's. She blows into town on a 'sly north wind' and sets up her chocolate shop during Lent. This brings her immediate difficulty from the town's mayor, played by Alfred Molina. He belongs to the 'fun is sin' school of thought and gains strong personal satisfaction through his Lenten fasting.
Binoche brings a daughter with her though she openly proclaims that she's never been married. Together the two of them run the shop. They offer everyone a bit of chocolate based on their inner desires. The sweets unlock the townspeople and set them free. Eventually, Johnny Depp shows up as a kind of river gypsy and adds to the fun.
Boy, this movie didn't do much for me (sorry Mom!). Binoche and Depp are both underwhelming in their performances. Depp in particular sports an accent that can't decide between Irish and non-existent. And he's supposed to be French! The story was somewhat cliched as well. Go back and read the first sentence of this review and tell me if you know the end of the story.
There were some nice things. The town is very charming and the minor are very nice. The score is very good. The shots of chocolate are luscious and inviting. It just wasn't enough for me.

2 Degrees

The weather here has turned cold in what I fervently hope is the last real cold snap of the winter. I told the FP Gal yesterday that this time it feels personal. Wouldn't be surprised if a weather map showed clouds in the shape of a rather rude gesture.
This morning I had to tell Relia that her gauzy ballet type outfit isn't warm enough. She's disappointed but handling it well. I told her that she'll just have to wait until it's warm out.
Just like the rest of. Sigh...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

No More Wiener Winners

Looks like there will be some changes for Twins fans at Target Field next year:
Hormel, whose hot dogs have been a beloved dining option at the Metrodome, will no longer supply them for the team, Twins and Hormel officials said Wednesday. Of the 1.1 million sausages sold at Twins games last year, nearly 400,000 were Dome Dogs, more than any other single sausage product.
Not sure what the back story is here but color me surprised. If any of you readers out there still have some Hormel contacts and find out, please let us know what happened. I'll sure miss this song though:
Oh oh if you are at the game
And you're in Hormel's Row of Fame
Then you are in a lucky seat
You'll win a Hormel hot dog treat
Great for lunch, great for dinner
You will be a wiener winner!
At the Hormel Row of Fame...
The new food options sound interesting:
The new ballpark will have the usual fare, including nachos, popcorn and peanuts. And Target Field has announced it will serve some other local favorites, including Juicy Lucy burgers, Murray's steak sandwiches, Kramarczuk's sausages, walleye-on-a-stick and pork-chop-on-a-stick.
Who else is ready for some outdoor baseball?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Night Lights

Here are ten strange night lights. The FP Gal has one of the series from number 10. My favorite is number three. The fifth one is the scariest by a wide margin.

Speaking of night lights, we got one of these this weekend (though the price was better). We've put it on a timer and told Relia that she has to stay in her room until the light turns off at 530a. The first couple of nights have not been exactly smooth but we think we can see some progress.
This morning she spent a very rough time from 5a until it finally clicked off. Lots of yelling, crying and a costume change (seriously). Then the time expired and she wall smiles. It was something of an achievement.
On a side note, she's developed a funny habit when the yelling doesn't work. She starts by calling out 'mommy' or 'daddy'. If that doesn't work, she goes to our first and last names. That even got a chuckle out of the FP Gal this morning.
These 'can't sleep' posts are probably tiring for the rest of you. Sorry! It really kind of feels like we may have figured a way forward. Man, I hope so.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ringworld - Niven

Louis Wu has just turned 200 years old and he's becoming bored. He is something of an oddity in his (far future) society in that he is a risk taker. An alien from a race called the Puppeteers (herdlike, cowardly) has recruited him to investigate a mystery. The rest of the crew is a Kzin (think of a cross between Klingons and tigers) and a human who was 'bred for luck'.
The mystery is a ringlike structure, large enough to encircle a star. It has a radius similar to the Earth's orbit. The ring has a width of nearly 100,000 miles and the walls are a thousand miles high. The resultant room is roughly equivalent to 3 million times the area of the planet Earth. In other words, it's big. It's so big that it is too much for the brain to really comprehend. And it's the star of the book.
Don't get me wrong, Louis Wu and his companions are entertaining and the story is enjoyable. But the concepts really steal the show. The Ringworld is an absolute monster of an idea and it provides the broadest canvas ever. But Niven also plays with unbreakable materials. And true stasis fields. And teleportation. And a wonderful interplay between polar opposite aliens. Oh, and the most deadly sunflowers ever!
'Ringworld' is the hardest sci-fi so far in the Hugo collection. That means that the science creates something of a playground for the novelist. ('Soft' sci-fi deals with somewhat fuzzier subjects such as psychology, sociology and other areas of human behavior.) It still stands up, nearly 40 years later. It's a great book.

Off to Work

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Overheard

Me: Did I tell you that pitchers and catchers have reported?
FP Gal: No. And I'm surprised you didn't. (pause) Don't I have a good attitude about baseball this year?
Me: Yes. I'm just waiting for you to make a comparison to garage saling.
FP Gal: But garage sales don't happen every day for months and months.
Me: But wouldn't it be great if they did?
FP Gal: (overcome with positive emotion and unable to respond)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Zombie Family

Last night Relia woke up at 1a. I had the mid-watch so I got up and went into her room. We laid there for nearly an hour, neither of us falling asleep. Then the FP Gal came in. She said that she was having trouble sleeping so she'd take over.
I went back to bed but couldn't fall back asleep. So, about 2a I went downstairs and started a movie. Not ten minutes later the FP Gal brought Relia downstairs. I let them take over my movie and I went upstairs to read.
Around 330a they came up to join me in bed. None of us had slept since 1a. We talked for a bit and then turned on a replay of the Olympics. Relia really wished that they were showing skating instead of skeleton but what can you do? (She's been very cutely skating around the house for the last week.) We turned over to the Cosby show. God bless Nick at Night. Around 430a she wanted to go back to her own bed. The FP Gal took her. I dropped off pretty quickly.
About 630a Relia was up again. The FP Gal was fast asleep in her bed, never having come back to ours. I roused myself and brought her down and fed her breakfast.
And that was our night.
These short nights our really killing us. Tonight will be my night and I'm hoping that the FP Gal sleeps all the night through. Me too. Actually, if Relia can make it all night I'm pretty sure we can do our parts.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Survivor: Heroes vs Villains

Sorry Meigan, I should have mentioned this earlier!

The latest season of Survivor is pure genius. They went back and got twenty notable players from previous seasons and then split them up into 'good guys' and 'bad guys'. This is wonderful for the long term fans of the show because it's nice to see some of these folks again. It also works because no one is starting fresh this year. All of them have televised baggage from the past.
  • Probst blog entry for last week's show is here. His insights are always interesting.
  • One of the things that I love about this season is how seriously the players take the game. There is genuine respect for the whole Survivor process and ethos out there. Makes for great TV.
  • The FP Gal and I bought two entries into the work pool. It's a random draw and I got Coach, the most annoying man in the history of the show. She got Randy, whose hatred for humanity is legendary. In his season we learned that the only soul he loved was his now dead dog. We hoped that his Fabreze Family Moment would have been 10 seconds of his stuffed dog pointed at the TV.
  • If you're curious (and I was), this season is taking place in Samoa.
  • This is such an overwhelmingly strong group that almost any of the remaining people could win. It's great to see so many of them again. Having said that, I hope that they retire everyone from future shows. Two (and sometimes three) appearances should be plenty.

Monday Night Curling

From Andrew:

Ok, I'm Ready

Heidi, this is for you.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Is Curling a Sport?

I heard this question teased on the radio while I was driving home tonight. Didn't hear any actual discussion so I don't know arguments were put forward pro or con. And if any curlers or curling fans somehow stumble across this, let me just say that I don't have any problem having curling in the Olympics. It did start me thinking on how things become classified as 'sport' or not. It interested me enough that I wanted to put some thoughts down in pixels.
Some judging criteria:
  • A. Would the Greeks have considered it a sport? I'm not quite enough of an historian to judge this completely but I'm thinking of the 'stronger, faster, farther' type events here. Contests where people compete to physically outdo one another.
  • B. Does it have an objective result? When it's finished is it clear that we've awarded the correct winner or did it overly rely on someone's opinion? What percentage of neutral people would agree?
  • C. Is it something that appeals to sports fans? You occasionally hear that Nascar isn't a sport because it's not really an athletic display. It's inarguable that there is an enormous crossover between Nascar fans and obvious sports.
I'd say that curling meets B and C pretty clearly. A is a little questionable but if you transported some ancient Greeks to today's world I don't think they'd have trouble with its inclusion. If you accept 'precision' as an athletic skill then I think it passes. It's certainly as much of a sport as archery. Pulling a bow requires more strength but there's no award for the longest shot.
Looking at this list I wonder if the better question is whether or not figure skating is a sport. It fails B pretty clearly and I could be convinced that it fails C. Skating obviously requires athleticism but I'm not sure that quality alone is enough. Are skaters more athletic than ballet dancers? Does anyone think that ballet is a sport?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not looking to knock a bunch of events out of the Olympics. I'm pretty much fine with whatever they choose. If anything, I'd love to see some more stuff out there. But I think it's an interesting question.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Counting

Tonight was my turn to read Relia to sleep. One of the books I read was 'One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish'. One of the pages features a guy with eleven fingers (seven on one hand, four on the other). I asked her how many fingers she had and she answered 'eleven'.
So I asked her to count them. She touched her right forefinger to the left one and counted, "one, two, three, four, five, six, eleven".
I was excited that she counted so far so I asked her to count to six again.
She said, "one, six".

Close enough for me!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Left Hand of Darkness - Le Guin

The time is far into the future and mankind has spread so far into the stars that the farthest reaches have been lost and a movement is out to reconnect them. A diplomat lands on a distant planet known as Winter to invite them into a group called the Ekumen and enjoy cultural exchange. The residents of Winter have diverged from normal humanity in one specific way, they are no longer men and women. Only once a month do they develop gender, being both men and women at times in their lives.
Winter is a very cold planet and the only habitable area is a zone fairly near the equator. The growing seasons are necessarily short and constant cold is a way of life. The diplomat must work his way through obscured political machinations as he works to convince the people of Winter to accept that he is what he says he is.
This book was something of a ground-breaker in sci-fi for it's treatment of gender. It was popular (may still be) in gender studies courses. But the impact is quite a bit less some 40 years later. In part because we don't see gender as destiny in nearly the same way that it was in 1970.
Much more interesting to me was the treatment of Winter (keep in mind that I read this last fall before I was sick of the season). I found the wilderness portions of the book much more compelling than the politics. This was a good book and well worth reading but its impact is greatly diminished.

Off to Work

Sunday, February 14, 2010

More Olympics

I dig this stuff much more than the FP Gal. I've got a feeling that our other TVs are going to get quite a workout over the next two weeks . . .
  • I'm enjoying watching the different sports with Relia and trying to explain what they're doing. She doesn't quite understand the difference between skis and skates, or at least she doesn't consistently label them correctly. But she enjoys watching!
  • Trying to figure out which Olympics is the first that I remember. I was only three during the '76 games. I think I might remember bits of the Lake Placid games in '80. I clearly remember Sarajevo and LA in '84. I'm curious what other people remember.
  • Loved watching the men's short track skating last night. The wild swings of position are amazing. And the wipeouts are pretty spectacular.
  • Biathlon is on right now. I made a short attempt at explaining it to Relia and then gave up.
  • Usually I enjoy team sports to individual ones. Somehow that's not true with the Olympics. Not sure why.
  • My mom's account of her time in Vancouver is here. It sounds like it was a blast.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Our Letter Carrier

Relia walked in from the kitchen with a canvas bag over her shoulder. She said she had letters for us. I asked her if she brought me some letters and she corrected me, "one letter". I asked her for my letter and she dug into her bag. She found it and gave it to me. It was a magnetic letter 'X'.

Thoughts on the Opening Ceremonies

I'm kind of a sucker for Olympic ceremonies. The huge staging is fascinating on many levels. The really big stuff becomes an enormous technical challenge. There is also the editorial level, where you see what kind of story the creators are telling. (If you had an hour to tell the American story how would you approach it? Chronologically? Geographically? Philosophically?) Last, but not least, does the presentation work on the emotional level or simply look like a big show?
Vancouver decided to heavily honor the indigenous tribes of its area and started the show with a welcome from four tribes. Native American singing and dancing has always left me a bit cold so this didn't do much for me. I wish they'd focused more on that region's beautiful totem work.
After the athletes walk in (always interesting to me) they continued on with the artistic portion of the show. They opened up with a big celebration of winter. I can't think of a week when I wanted to celebrate winter less than this one. Big gobs of snow and cold. Huge winter disruptions to air travel. It was kind of like finding a group of late term mothers and then presenting a celebration of pregnancy.
To be fair, they couldn't have known how bad the timing would be when this was planned. And there really was some very nice video presentation on the floor. Most striking was a pod of whales with actual spouts of breath!
To me the highlight of the show was a segment that highlighted the Canadian prairie. It featured an acrobat on guidewires, preforming to Judy Collins 'Both Sides Now'. Very beautiful. A near second place was kd lang with 'Hallelujah'. I kind of think she should do all of her concerts with that exact same type of setting.
The actual torch lighting was somewhat more exciting than they expected since a malfunction delayed the finale. There was supposed to be four pillars popping out of the stage but only three of them did. After a few minutes they just raised what they could and lit it. I can't imagine how badly the technical people felt!
During the broadcast they remarked that Vancouver only spent about a tenth the amount that Beijing did on the opening ceremonies ($40 mil vs $400 mil). I really can't fault them for that. The show certainly didn't have as much punch but it did have some very nice moments.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Olympics

I'm kind of excited for the opening ceremonies for he Olympics tonight. My mother and sister are going to be there in the stadium. This is near the top of my bucket list so I'm kind of jealous. And thrilled for them! (And they were interviewed for Kare11 just now on the streets of Vancouver!)
I've got roughly 600 Powerball drawings between now and the start of the Rio Olympics . . .

Have a Great Friday

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Why?

This is Relia's new word and I'm heartily sick of it. She asks it of virtually any statement or situation. Today she was yelling it in the parking ramp (much to the confusion of an elderly couple that tried to greet her).
It actually started last weekend and I developed a strategy where I'd answer each question in sickening detail until she got tired of it. Guess what? She can still outwait me. (I'm still going to dip into this bag at times. I will be . . . Science Dad.)
Anyway, I've trying a new tactic. Tonight I told her that instead of why she must say 'pourquoi'. She pronounces it 'par-claw'. And so far it has stopped her dead in her tracks.
Let's hope she doesn't figure a way around for a few days. I need time to think of the next defense.

Random Thursday Night Stuff

Been awhile . . . :
  • 'Spirit in the Sky' has one of the best bass lines of all time. Relia was rocking out to it earlier and I think she'd agree.
  • Today while we were eating lunch I finished well before my pokey little daughter. I asked if I could have a bite of one of her chicken nuggets and she said, "No, but you can have some more of your pop!". Very kind of her.
  • Temp this morning was a flat zero. The FP Gal's car got stuck while she was backing into the alley and I was pressed into duty. Zero degrees is cold and I'm tired of it. I think I'm going to write a provision into my next contract that I'm exempt from work if the temp is below 20.
  • Loved this: 'The history of the DC universe in 30 seconds'. In crayon. Click each picture to enbiggen for the text.
  • That's it!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tuba Time!

In one of Relia's books, there is a tuba player. She doesn't really understand tubas so I told her last night that I'd show her a video of one. This morning I fired up YouTube and typed in tuba and soon found this clip:


Pretty good, aren't they? She rocked out as we listened to it about six times this morning. We really do live in a golden age of information.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Too Much Snow!

No, not here. We did get some, enough for them to halve our street parking for the next ten weeks. I wonder which animal sees it's shadow for that to happen?
Anyway, I'm talking about the east coast. Well, really everything from Chicago and over. Lots of and lots of snow. Many, so many closed airports and canceled flights. Fortunately, not a lot of stranded travelers from what I can tell.
Yesterday at work was spent working with travelers desperately trying to hit the window between this weekends blizzard and the one that's hitting about now. They'd try and get in on Tuesday and then hope that they could get out again sometime later in the week. I wish them all luck.
Today was more clean up and an overall canceling of flights over the next two days. The only saving grace here is that the first blizzard gave plenty of warning for the second one. Or at least got people to pay attention.
Let's all cross our fingers and hope that this is it for this winter, ok?

Monday, February 08, 2010

Also...

The Who didn't bother me at all yesterday. They sounded good enough that we wondered if there was some dubbing going on. And the stage was pretty cool. It wasn't my style of music but (for all the gripping I've been reading today) they sounded fine.
Maybe next year they can get someone more hip and today like . . . the Glenn Miller Orchestra!

Super Bowl Ads

I think this one was my favorite:



But this one did make me say, "awww...":

But I'm pretty sure that our version had a DL flight search. Regional targeting?

This ad:

made me want all Green candidates to lose elections in perpetuity.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Super Bowl

And we're down to the biggest game of the year or at least the last one. In just a few hours, we'll have a champion for the 2009 NFL season. (Or will we?) Time for me to put some picks out there so I can look foolish later tonight.
In many ways, this is a tough game to pick. On paper these are two of the closest matched teams in the league this year. Through their first thirteen games they were a combined 26-0. They only had one game between the two of them where they played full out starters and lost (Dal 24, NO 17). A couple of different bounces and the will to win each game and we could honestly have seen two teams going for an undefeated season.
One oddity that I haven't seen mentioned is how different each teams march to the Super Bowl has been. The Saints faced two teams with the most veteran QBs in the league, combined age of 78 and an incredible 31 combined seasons. The Colts also faced two teams but theirs had the youngest QBs available, combined age of 48 and only three combined seasons. Of course, each team will be facing one of the top QBs in the Super Bowl...
The Colts are favored by 4.5 points and the analytical part of me thinks that's too much. Both teams are very even and the recent history of the Super Bowl has been for close games. It's not hard to see the Colts only winning by a field goal or an outright Saints victory. But I think I'll go the over and pick the Colts anyway. I just think that no one can really compete with Peyton Manning right now. He's the best QB of this season and possibly this generation.
The coin is an incredible 8-2 through the playoffs. (My record is something like -3-13.) Might need to hang on to this one for toss-up games during the 2010 season. It is going with . . . the Colts too.
But, even though I didn't pick them to win I'm going to be cheering for the Saints to win. I mentioned this at work on Friday and was roundly criticized but I have my reasons.
  • New Orleans, the city, has gone through some pretty bad stuff and I'd love for them to be happy here. I'd rather my Vikings would have beaten them last week but they didn't and that's that.
  • I don't have any ill will toward them left over from the NFC championship game. They played a tough and physical game and some of the hits were questionable but the reason the Vikes are sitting at home has to do with the endless fumbling. Sour grapes aren't enough reason for me to root against them.
  • The Saints have never even been to the Super Bowl let alone won it. I like to see different fans get a chance at that championship happiness. It's too special to be hoarded (unless my team is somehow doing the hoarding.)
  • I like New Orleans as a destination more than I do Indianapolis.
Mostly I just hope for a good game and some great commercials.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Snow in DC

Apparently our nation's capital is enjoying something of a winter storm. News reports suggest up to 30 inches of snow will have fallen by the end. My mind is mixed on this...
  • Part of me wants to laugh at their inability to deal with some snow. Two feet of snow would be a pain here but we'd deal with it (and somehow it wouldn't be a big news item). Of course they're not prepared to clear the streets like we are.
  • The libertarianish side of me wishes we could somehow reproduce this during weekdays and throughout the year. It would cause less damage in the long run.
  • The travel agent in me is tired of big winter storms hitting the east coast. It screws up so much. The DC area is an important domestic hub for US Air and one of the biggest departure spots for international flights. (Off hand I'm guessing IAD is 4th behind JFK, EWR and ATL.) Lots of people are going to be stuck.
This type of storm always reminds me of the one big blizzard I lived through in Colorado Springs. Don't remember the exact figures but it was probably a foot of snow, strong winds and temps in the teens. Here in Minnesota we would have stayed in for most of one day and then dug and continued on with our lives. Not so in Co Springs!
You must understand that almost no one that lived there was actually native to Colorado. Huge amounts of Californians and Texans moved into the area while I was there. They seemed to think that 4X4 cars made them immune to snowy and icy roads. Not so good.
The other weird thing was how they dealt with their cars once they ran off the road. They simply left them there and waited for the snow to melt. I am not making that up. The storm hit on a Friday night and by Tuesday the drifts were mostly gone and every car was recovered. Can you imagine doing that up here?
So good luck DCers! Remember that the snow will be gone soon and you can back to your normal routine. The groundhog said so.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Beautiful

It's about 28 degrees and there is a light snow falling outside. The streets are quiet. Quite simply, it's gorgeous and peaceful out. Winter like this, I can take.

Up in the Air - 2009

(Ok, one day late.)

George Clooney plays a man whose job is to fire people. That's what he does. Companies hire him to fly from town to town and sit down and fire people. He's smooth and adopts an understanding look. He tells them that "Anyone who ever created an empire or changed the world sat where you do now," and he tries to set them adrift cleanly. He loves the job. He tells that in the prior year he spent 322 days on the road and that meant he only had to spend 43 lousy ones at the bare apartment he calls 'home'.
One night he meets a woman (very well played by Vera Farmiga) who is his spiritual equal. In a scene that may have meant to more to this corporate travel agent, they compare various car, air and hotel memberships. He tells her that he has a very special frequent flyer number in mind but he won't share it. They develop an extremely casual relationship consisting of phone sex and brief shared overnights.
Clooney's world is turned upside down when a new young employee at his job has the idea of firing people over the internet. His life on the road is threatened. Worse, he is soon told to take her on the road with him so he can show her the ropes.
Clooney plays a man who wants to isolate himself from the world. He does a good job but it's such an extreme that it's hard to really believe. The movie shows him dealing with sudden human connections. He's very good but the hurdle is really a bit too high to clear.
The movie itself is very well told. Real interviews from recently laid off people highlight just how devastating it can be. It's touching and entertaining but ultimately a touch empty. I can see how it garnered a Best Picture nod but I have trouble believing it was the actual best picture of the year.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Dance Wid Me

Relia's new favorite song, courtesy of Hans and Rachel's wedding CD:



(This will make more sense if you watch the video of the song.) She likes songs that have the word 'baby' in them. I was singing this in the car and she kept saying, "I'm dancing!".

To Share

Sharing the Moon

Relia is somewhat fascinated with the moon. Maybe it's because we read 'Goodnight Moon' to her for the last book. Anyway, whenever she spots it in the sky she makes a big deal out of it. About a month ago I was taking her out to the car in the morning when she proudly told me that she'd seen 'my moon'. I asked her if it was Daddy's moon too and she agreed that we could share it. Since then we've had many mornings where she calls out for her moon and then reminds herself that it belongs to everyone.
This morning was one of those. There was a pretty good moon in the western sky. She talked about it on the walk to the car and then kept an eye on it while we were driving. When we were most of the way there she noticed it appearing to move over the houses to our right. She said, "The moon is going to daycare with me! Look, it's flying!". It was simply adorable.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Oscar Nominees!

Hey, they announced the Oscar nominees for 2009 today. For the first time in sixty-some years they expanded the Best Picture category to ten movies. Which is interesting but not as good as just going with five dramas and five comedies. Anyway, the list:

Avatar
The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglorious Basterds
A Serious Man
Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
Up
Up in the Air


We only saw two of them. We loved 'Up', ran out and bought it right away when the DVD came out. We thought 'Up in the Air' was very good. Just realized that I never blogged it, will fix that tomorrow. I'm curious if you guys saw any of the others and what you thought.
A few random thoughts about the list. Is there any way that 'Blind Side' gets a nom if this list is only five movies long? Or 'District 9' for that matter? 'District 9' is on the Netflix list so I'll have some idea soon. 'An Education' looks good to me (trailer here). What I've heard of 'Avatar' is mostly that it's gorgeous to look at but the story is thin. 'A Serious Man' was filmed here in the Cities. 'Precious' has the worst add on title in the history of Oscar nominated films. Heard good things about 'Basterds' but haven't felt any need to run out and see it. I'm probably cheering for 'Up' but I've got a feeling it will win Best Animated Film instead of Best Picture.
Any thoughts?

Groundhog News

Apparently the little critter saw his shadow and we're due for six more months of winter.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Commercials

The FP Gal links to this commercial:

which apparently was inspired by a joke from the director of Cast Away. It got me thinking of my favorite Super Bowl ad of all time and I tracked it down. Enjoy.

Off to Work

The picture is sunset, but let's pretend it's sunrise...

Cast Away - 2000

Tom Hanks plays a FedEx employee who operates in the field, working with lagging stations. He tells them that 'time is the enemy' but they must never turn their back on it. His girlfriend and near fiancee, Helen Hunt, patiently deals with his brief fly-bys through Memphis. He is interrupted at a Christmas dinner but promises her that he'll be back by New Year's Eve. As he leaves for the plane he gives her a ring box, asking her not to open it until he returns. Then he tells her he'll be right back.
Well, it doesn't work out like that. The FedEx plane crashes into the south Pacific and Hanks becomes the only survivor, washed ashore on a deserted island. He opens up several packages that wrapped up on the island and uses them to convert the island into a live-able situation. He leaves one package because he's impressed by a set of wings painted on them.
One of the other packages includes a volleyball. An accidental bloody palm print makes a kind of face and the ball (named Wilson) becomes Hanks only friend on the island. This also serves as the springboard for the only bits of dialogue of the middle part of the film.
Eventually he gets back to regular life. He's been missing for more than four years. His girlfriend has moved on and remarried. Hanks must start to recreate a life. His first step involves delivering that one special package.

This is a great movie. The survival story is especially well told. Even the bit with the volleyball works. Hanks is especially impressive as he must carry the story all on his own for most of the movie. The music is spare, only really coming up in the last part of the movie.
The only part that didn't work for me was the homecoming to his girlfriend. I know what they were working towards but it needed a defter touch than it got. Or possibly it's own movie. (I also could have done without the self dentistry but that's just me.)
A great movie.