Friday, December 31, 2004

2004 Movie Archive

Films Watched in 2004 (beginning September 16th):

Each title will take to to my blog post where the film was mentioned. Within the blog post, the film's title is linked to the imdb entry for that particular film.

Shrek 2 (2004)
Meet The Fockers (2004)
High Noon (1952)
Duel (1971)
A Christmas Story (1983)
Christmas Vacation (1989)
City Lights (1931)
Top Gun (1986)
Christmas Vacation (1989)
Twelve Monkeys (1995)
Elf (2003)
It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown (1992)
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
A Muppet Family Christmas (1987)
Empire Of Dreams (2004)
A Christmas Story (1983)
Mystic River (2003)
Lady And The Tramp (1955)
Say Anything... (1989)
Moulin Rouge! (2001)
The Cooler (2003)
Sleeping Beauty (1959)
It's A Wonderful Life (1946)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Miracle (2004)
Alice In Wonderland (1951)
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
Superman II (1980)
The Incredibles (2004)
Some Like It Hot (1959)
Frankenstein (1931)
Charade (1963)
Mr. Deeds Goes To Town (1936)
School of Rock (2003)
Fallen (1998)
My Darling Clementine (1946)
Somewhere in Time (1980)
Superman (1978)
Duel (1971)
The English Patient (1996)
The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
Aladdin (1992)
Sullivan's Travels (1941)
The Lady Eve (1941)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Stagecoach (1939)
Empire of the Sun (1987)
Paycheck (2003)
Schindler's List (1993)
Star Wars (1977)
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Return of the Jedi (1983)
Notorious (1946)
Jackass: The Movie (2002)
Brazil (1985)

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

And now for a little game I like to call...

WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE??

Click for a bigger version -- if it helps, the little paper reads, 'Be Safe, Not Sorry. Anti AIDS Drive 2004'

If you think you know, comment below.

I hope for this to be a recurring feature here at Once Upon A Time In The (mid) West.

Giving credit where credit is due - this post over at HTF inspired this blog entry (actually, this blog entry is simply a total ripoff of that post, but it's still funny).


Unrelated, but for those of you interested, I added some pictures to this post below of Hannah at her Christmas program.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

SUV's, Lies, and Radio Charts...

I heard this on NPR last night and thought it was interesting.

Apparently, some over-zealous fans of country singer, Chely [pronounced, "Shelly"] Wright have been using some unscrupulous methods in order to get her new single, "The Bumper of My S.U.V." onto radio around the country.

Grassroots campaigns (especially unsuccessful ones) aren't uncommon. Individual fans calling local radio stations asking them to play a particular song can make a difference. Even more effective though, is an organized effort by dedicated fans around the country. This type of endeavor is fine and is probably where this effort started (and was definitely beginning to work), but this one got out of hand.

One superfan posted these comments on the fan club message boards:

''tell 'em your husband is a marine — whatever it takes.''

He also made many calls himself under the pseudonym, "Sgt. Steve McKay."

''Sob stories and just telling how this song has affected u r going to work best. This song is what they call a reaction record and we need reaction.''

''You can also fib a little and say you are in the armed forces and how this song needs to be heard — u get the picture,''

Yes, we most definitely get the picture...

The Tennessean broke this story and Chely Wright has issued a statement saying that she has asked her fan club president to resign and that she was unaware that these methods were being employed on her behalf.

It's unfortunate. Unfortunate that even when it's discovered that such things are happening, that the end is often the same. The individual or group that was out to promote this song at all costs has accomplished what they set out to do. I guess there really is no such thing as bad press.

A little more jaded than I already was...


Films Recently Watched:

Top Gun (1986) dir. by Tony Scott
When I first got into DVDs, I remember thinking that this would be a great movie for home-theater. Fortunately, before I went out and bought the DVD that was available then, I learned that it wasn't "all that" so I waited for a special edition release. In addition to the full-length audio commentary featuring director, Tony Scott; producer, Jerry Bruckheimer and Navy experts and technical advisors, this new release also features a 6-part, 2 1/2 hour documentary covering about every aspect of the making of this film. Also on disc 2 are production stills, several music videos and 2 multi-angle featurettes comparing the director's storyboard concepts to the finished film (these can be played with or without director's commentary). Needless to say, THIS is the special edition for which I'd been waiting all these years. Kudos to Paramount Home Entertainment for making this a truly, Special Collector's Edition, and affordable to boot ($12.99 in-store at Circuit City this week)!

High-brow filmmaking Top Gun ain't, but it is 100% fun to watch. This movie was made for surround-sound so watching this at home with DTS sound was a treat.

City Lights (1931) starring; written by; directed by; produced by; edited by; and original music composed by Charlie Chaplin
I watched this for the first time several months ago. Definitely one of my "new" favorites.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Weekend, etc.

Christy and I had a good day together on her birthday. Had a nice, leisurely lunch together, did some shopping, etc. It was very nice to just have the day to spend together. My company's Christmas party was that same evening so we went to that and had a good time. Our friends who were watching Hannah at their house while we went to the party knew that it was Christy's birthday, so they had brownies and ice cream for us when we got back. Though it was already past Hannah's normal bedtime, Hannah didn't get left out of the festivities. She had ice cream and then didn't get to sleep until after 11:00pm. Also, while we were with our friends that evening they gave a Christmas gift for Hannah and I to share. It was a Playskool Millennium Falcon. I asked Hannah if she knew what it was and she said, "Star Wars." I pointed to one of the figures and asked her, "Who's that?" to which she correctly responded, "Chewbacca." I couldn't have been prouder!

The evening of the 15th was Hannah's Christmas program with her daycare. We got there in plenty of time to get Hannah where she was supposed to be but when we were ready to find a seat, much of the auditorium was full. We managed to find a decent seat in the front row of the balcony section. I was planning to take some pictures anyway (pictures added below - 12/22/04), so I figured I'd be in a good place to take all the pictures I wanted without being in the way of other people behind me. So, it's about an hour long program of which there was about one minute that we really wanted to see, right? So what happens during that one minute? That's right! You guessed it! Some idiot --> (this is the self-censored version) decides to stand right in front of us obstructing our only view of our only daughter in her first public performance. Christy's "excuse me" definitely had an edge, but was still more polite than my, "Hey! -- Buddy!" -- "Buddy" didn't take the hint. So I get up and explain to Buddy that there are people behind him that can't see with him standing there. He still doesn't move. Apparently, Buddy was searching for his idiot friends and, in a glorious stroke of genius, decided that he'd be better able to spot them from a balcony that extends over most of the floor below. So not only did we miss most of our daughter's performance, but the video that I was shooting is a mess due to Buddy's impeccable timing, so when we go back to watch it, we only see the very beginning and the very end of the performance with the middle consisting of jumpy video of the floor and ceiling of the auditorium and the brief exchange of words on the audio.

"It's too bad that stupidity isn't painful" - Anton LaVey

Over the weekend, Christy and I did our annual Christmas treats making and baking marathon. It's a lot of work, but we always have a good time doing it. Moreover, the people who receive the Christmas treats always have a good time consuming them.

For now, Hannah seems to be doing fine. She seems to be over her illnesses and hopefully, that will hold through the next couple of weeks.

I've got a three day work week this week, then I'm off until January 4th! WooHoo!!



Films Recently Watched:

Twelve Monkeys (1995) dir. by Terry Gilliam

Christmas Vacation (1989) dir. by Jeremiah S. Chechik. Written and Produced by John Hughes.


Click for bigger versionClick for bigger version

Friday, December 17, 2004

Still looking for that perfect present for ME???

The Criterion Collection Holiday 2004 Gift Set!!

Amazon Exclusive

241 films on 282 DVDs.

It's only $4,999.00!!

Films Recently Watched:
Elf (2003) dir. by Jon Favreau

We enjoyed this. It was cute. I found it interesting that the lead actress, Zooey Deschanel, did her own singing in this film. I still believe that it was looped and probably enhanced, but I thought for sure it was completely replaced. Regardless, she's got a nice voice - hints of Ella.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Happy Birthday For You...

I don't know why, but often, when Hannah wants to use the preposition "to," she replaces it with another perfectly good, though incorrect in context, preposition, "for." So, when she says or sings "Happy Birthday," she sings, "Happy Birthday for you." I'm sure someday we'll correct her about this, but for now, it's really cute, so we don't say a word.

Please feel free to insert any appropriate birthday greetings. Just click below where it says "Comment" and a box will pop up where you can identify yourself and type a message that Christy can read later.

This is one of my favorite pictures of Christy:


Monday, December 13, 2004

Speaking of Collector's items...

I recently read here that Pat Hannon possesses a "hot holiday seller."

"The Millennium Falcon and the Darth Vader Voice Changer mask have been hot holiday sellers. The hard-to-find mask retails for $35 but is selling on eBay for $150."
(From linked article at usatoday.com)

Seems to me Pat sent me a Halloween picture a few years ago with said mask on said face with said wife in said cat costume. Should I post it??


Films Recently Watched:

A Muppet Family Christmas (1987) Produced by Jim Henson, etc. Dir. by Eric Till
Interesting conglomeration of Jim Henson's creations. The Muppets are traveling to Fozzie's mother's farmhouse for Christmas. While there, the entire Sesame Street gang shows up caroling. And, in the basement of the farmhouse, Kermit discovers a Fraggle hole and briefly visit with a few Fraggle Rock characters. Jim Henson himself even makes a cameo at the end of this holiday treat! Truly, a Muppet Family Christmas.

On a sad note, in need of a replacement for the Christmas Turkey, the Swedish Chef finds Big Bird, or in his words, "Gobbley Gobbley Humonga!" and, well....



Favorite Line [from Animal, of course]: "Peace on Earth; Give me presents!!"


A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) dir. by Bill Melendez
Truly a Classic.

Favorite line [Lucy on what she REALLY wants for Christmas]: "Real Estate."


It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown (1992)
Favorite Line [Sally, whose one line in the Christmas play is, simply, "Hark!"]: "Hockey Stick!"

Thursday, December 09, 2004

New Stryper???

Remember these guys??
(if not, feel free to expand your horizons by visiting their official website)

Could we BE any cooler??

Well, according to the Stryper Forum (YES, there is such a place and NO, I've never been there until today), they're in studio now recording a new album for 2005 to be followed by a World Tour.

I hear that instead of throwing those tiny little Gideon Bibles into the crowd, they've upgraded to the Thompson's Chain-Reference 15-pound Bible! So...who's goin'?

I'll admit that I liked these guys. I remember when To Hell With The Devil came out and my Mom bought the cassette for me and it had the "angel" artwork instead of the more common striped artwork...

Good...BAD!

Which would YOU rather have? I thought I was pretty special. I wondered if maybe it was one-of-a-kind since all the other copies I saw had the other artwork. At least, I figured that it'd be a collector's item someday, but now, I couldn't tell you where my copy is.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Weekend...

Hannah only made it to daycare one day out of five last week. On Monday, she was diagnosed with an eye infection and we were told that she would be contagious until Thursday. Thursday, she went back to daycare and was OK, but that evening, she started complaining that her ear hurt. So Friday, I took her to the doctor and she was diagnosed with an ear infection. After being on her medicine for a couple of days and taking a 4+ hour nap yesterday, she seemed well enough to go back to daycare today. Here's hoping that she does better this week than last. Also hoping that she'll stay well through the holidays.

Since Hannah wasn't quite herself, we stayed in all day Saturday. ALL DAY. Actually, none of us even changed out of our pajamas on Saturday! I love days like that! I know, I know it's pathetic, but every once in a while, I just need a lazy day. Don't you?

In spite of Hannah not being 100%, we made it to church on Sunday. Hannah did OK, but was a little fussy. I couldn't help laughing when Christy told me that she tried to take money out of the offering plate in her classroom! The choir was singing a song that I really liked (it had a great part for we Basses). Sunday evening we started straightening Hannah's room in preparation for family coming for Christmas.


Films Recently Watched:

Empire of Dreams (2004) dir. by Kevin Burns and Edith Becker
If you remember, I picked up the Star Wars Trilogy DVDs on the day they were released. I watched all three films one day and listened to the cast & crew commentary the next day. I dabbled into the bonus material on the 4th disc, but never found time to watch the crown jewel of the supplementaries, the 2 1/2 hour documentary, Empire of Dreams, until now. Christy and I both watched this and found it quite interesting. There were a few items on this that I'd seen before, but the lion's share was new to me. It really describes how these films (especially the first one) were a labor of love for the young filmmaker, George Lucas. Sometimes it's difficult to remember that Lucas wasn't always a multi-millionaire and a media mogul. Lucas' humble beginnings as a film student at USC and the construction of his facilities at Skywalker Ranch (including Lucasfilm, Ltd.; Industrial Light & Magic; Skywalker Sound; LucasArts; THX, Ltd.; and the computer graphics company that ultimately became the mighty Pixar) are touched on in Empire of Dreams, but most of it focuses on the creation of the films themselves. Story, casting, filming, post-production, release...every aspect is given at least some attention. Though many fanboys were begging for an exhaustive "Encyclopedia Starwarsica" to be included with this set, I think this doc. does an excellent job for the more casual fan/enthusiast. Another thing that this doc. shows is that there is definitely the potential for an exhaustive set of bonus features at some time in the future. Some of the footage in Empire of Dreams is obscure and shows that the long-believed rumor is true, "Lucas kept everything."

A Christmas Story (1983) dir. by Bob Clark
First time this year for this classic. Get out your tally sheets!

Mystic River (2003) dir. by Clint Eastwood
Three childhood friends grow up together and, as adults, still live in the same Boston neighborhood. Jimmy Markum (Sean Penn), an ex-con, has retired from his former, crooked life and now runs a legitimate business in his neighborhood. He's a family man, father of three daughters, one of whom ends up dead - murdered. Sean Devine (Kevin Bacon) is the homicide detective assigned to the case. Dave Boyle (Tim Robbins), a victim of sexual abuse as a child, is suspect in the murder. Will the police solve the case before Markum's gang takes matters into their own hands?
Wow, the performances in this film by Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon and Tim Robbins (and the rest of the cast) are terrific! It's no wonder that Penn won the Oscar for his leading role and that Robbins won for his supporting role. Eastwood's pacing on this is right on and helps to create the tension in this suspense/mystery.

Lady And The Tramp (1955) produced by Walt Disney; dir. by Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Crazy Dragon Illusion!!

For those of you who are interested, I found another toy on the internet that I thought was cool enough to pass along.

This one is a do-it-yourself project. You print this out, cut, fold and tape as directed, and you get this:



Here is a page that contains a Windows Media video showing the illusion at work.

3 hints from my experience:
1.) Being careful about where to fold, cut, tape does make a difference. Use a well-lit area and a hard surface for best results. (A hard drink probably wouldn't hurt either -- just kidding!)
2.) Print out two copies of the .pdf file. Cut one out for making your dragon and use the other sheet as a reference of where to make the folds/cuts, etc. Don't forget to cut along his bottom jaw to the white dot at his neck -- I missed this detail on my first try.
3.) Once you're done, the best results come from looking at the dragon with one eye closed. It says that on the instruction sheet, but who reads instruction sheet?

FYI, the illusion works whether the dragon is printed in color or in black & white.



Films Recently Watched:

Sleeping Beauty (1959) produced by Walt Disney; Supervising director: Clyde Geronimi
I'm sure I'd seen this before, but it certainly had been a while. Love the use of the widescreen framing on this. A stark contrast stylistically from the previous Disney full-length animated pictures.

The Cooler (2003) dir. by Wayne Kramer
I like William H. Macy in general, and he excels in this one (his character was written with Macy in mind). Parts of the story were weak - I could have done without the Father/Son sub-plot, but pretty good overall.

Moulin Rouge! (2001) dir. by Baz Luhrmann
I can't say that this is a "guilty" pleasure for me because I don't feel guilty about loving it. It's probably one of my favorite musicals ever on film. The vivid colors, the quick editing, the pop music soundtrack, Ewan and Nichole doing their own singing...the entire package just works for me. I was happy to sit down with this one again. Also looking forward to Joel Schumacher's film adaptation of the ever-popular, Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom Of The Opera, which releases later this month (limited release 12/22). I've never seen the Broadway show (on or off), but the music from the show was quite popular among my group of friends from High School. From the trailers, it looks as though it may have some similarities to Moulin Rouge.

Say Anything... (1989) dir. by Cameron Crowe
A desire to see this film again was driven by my recent purchase of Peter Gabriel's video collection on DVD, Play. Peter Gabriel's song "In Your Eyes" always makes me think of the iconic moment in this film with Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) holding up his boombox over his head playing this song. It had been a while since I'd seen it and Christy couldn't remember for sure whether she ever had, so we watched it last night. Cameron Crowe has a way of capturing time in a bottle. My High School experience was significantly different from what this film portrays, but some moments from this film still resonate, regardless.



Monday, November 29, 2004

Tradition

Well, our Thanksgiving weekend was full of all the current traditions (isn't that an oxymoron? current traditions?).

Thursday, we traveled to be with extended family. We ate turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, homemade noodles, cranberry sauce and pecan pie (no pumpkin pie, though Christy plans to right this wrong, shortly). I didn't watch much football, but saw a few minutes of the Colts/Lions game. I alway like to see the pro teams wearing the retro uniforms on Thanksgiving Day games.

Friday, I was up early to bust a couple of doors at stores here and there. Later, Christy, Hannah and I all went out shopping together. Over the weekend, we were able to get all of our Christmas shopping done with the exception of one person for whom we can't yet shop.

Saturday, I put up the Christmas tree and got the lights on it. Hannah and I finished decorating the tree on Sunday night. We also put our Nativity out for the season. Last year, Hannah was very interested in our nativity and we talked to her about who each person was and what noise each animal makes, etc. Because our people and animal figures are from Precious Moments, and are quite FRAH-GEE-LAY (must be Italian), Hannah isn't allowed to touch these, so we got her the Little People Nativity this year. I think she likes it. Now, she won't go to bed at naptime or at night without "my Baby Jesus." It's very sweet, but I have a bad feeling that her Baby Jesus will get misplaced at some point and then we're in trouble.


Films Recently Watched:

Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) dir. by Henry Selick
I love this film. If you like any of the Tim Burton/Danny Elfman films (Batman (1989), Edward Scissorhands, Beetle Juice, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Planet Of The Apes (2001), Sleepy Hollow, Big Fish) and haven't yet seen Nightmare, you owe it to yourself to find a way to see this as soon as possible. Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown discovers Christmastown and tries to replace it's ruler, "Sandy Claws." Jack tries his best, but he and his Halloween-minded helpers can't quite grasp the spirit of this peculiar new holiday. A sweet story by Burton, wonderful music and songs by Elfman and well-crafted stop-motion "claymation" visuals make this a holiday favorite for me. Which holiday though? Halloween or Christmas? I decided to split the difference and watch it right in the middle of the two!

Frank Capra's It's A Wonderful Life (1946) dir. by Frank Capra
I should quit trying to convince myself that I'm not going to cry during this movie. It gets me every time. I put it on as I was finishing up decorating the Christmas tree on Sunday night. By the time Harry Bailey arrives at the end, I was on the couch bawling. Next time, I'm not crying...seriously!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

DVD cover art subtleties

Man, "subtleties" just looks wrong to me. I've checked it in two different dictionaries and all signs point to the spelling being correct, but it can't be!

subtleties
subtelties
suttelties
suttleties
subtletys
subteltys
subtletease :-)

Oh well...I guess I'll stick with what the dictionary says.

Films Recently Watched:
Miracle (2004) dir. by Gavin O'Connor

I remember when this first came out, I saw somebody comparing the U.S. release with the Canadian release. I thought it was interesting, so I thought you might, too!




Notice the subtle addition of "one of the" on the Canadian version:

U.S. version: "The true story behind the greatest moment in sports history."

Canadian version: "The true story behind one of the greatest moments in sports history."

And, of course the not-so-subtle addition of the American flag and the USA team emblem on the U.S. version.

I can understand the reasons behind these changes from a marketing perspective (milk the patriotism for the U.S. market) and I don't blame Disney for making two different covers. Frankly though, many, American or Canadian, etc., would argue that the U.S. defeat of the Russian national team in 1980 at Lake Placid is not the greatest moment in sports history, though, in my opinion, it definitely deserves a mention in any top 10 list. Again, though, I understand the desire from the marketing side to use those superlatives.

Regardless, I enjoyed the film. Frankly, with all the nonsense going on in sports recently, I was in need of a feel-good sports movie, and this definitely fit the bill.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

OUCH!!!

Headline from USATODAY.com:

Lynne Cheney tops National Christmas Tree




Hey, I don't write this stuff, folks; I just report it.
(and maybe create a moderately funny picture...)

Monday, November 22, 2004

A Special Sunday

My sister's two boys were both baptized on Sunday. Christy, Hannah and I made the trip over to their church to see and celebrate with them and their family.

(Click on these pictures for bigger versions)





Films Recently Watched:
Alice In Wonderland (1951) Produced by Walt Disney; Directed by Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson & Hamilton Luske

Friday, November 19, 2004

Peter Gabriel - Play

As I reported earlier, I was looking forward to this new DVD from Peter Gabriel. Well, I got it on Wednesday and even had an unexpected opportunity to listen to some of it on Thursday. Wow! He has really outdone himself here. There are a few videos on this that I know I've seen before, but most of them are new to me. Each one is unique and very innovative. They're like little films. Some are funny, some are serious. Some are straight-forward, others abstract, but they are all full of beautiful, striking images. Even the cover art is cool! See?

Buy it from Amazon!

But mainly, for me, the audio is that with which I am particularly impressed. He chose to use the full bitrate DTS and it shows. The mix on this really puts you in the center. It never feels contrived, just immersive. The low bass on this DVD is incredible, too. I've only listened to the DTS mix, but there is also a Dolby Digital surround track available as well as 2-channel stereo.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Praise Gathering Follow-Up

Well, we're back. Actually, we've been back since Sunday afternoon, but I hadn't gotten around to the blog until now. The event went pretty much as expected. Not too many surprises. Long days, lots of walking, tired feet, good food, some fun.

Thursday was registration; 7am to 8pm. Christy's parents got stuck in a traffic nightmare on southbound I-69 and were running late, but arrived eventually and went on to the concert. Christy and Hannah and I went back to our hotel and found that we had the swimming pool to ourselves. We had the pool to ourselves last year too. We all had a good time relaxing a little bit there.

Friday was registration again from 7:30pm to 2pm. Praise Gathering Apparel sales from 2pm to after the concert (~11pm). Here and there, I managed to get to a couple of seminars and concerts just long enough to snap a couple of pictures.

Saturday, we finished up registration from 7:30 to 2pm again and then gathered up all the registration materials that we have to take back to work and loaded them in a van. After that, I finally had some free time. Christy and Hannah were waking from their nap when I got back to the hotel, so we headed for Circle Centre Mall. Much of downtown Indianapolis is connected by covered skywalks creating a network of many of the downtown hotels, the Convention Center/RCA Dome and the mall. We got dinner at Johnny Rockets and then did some shopping. Dessert at Maggie Moo's.



Needless to say, we stayed pretty busy. We never made it to The Polar Express, but that's OK. Perhaps some other time.

At Praise Gathering again this year was Mike Lewis (aka Jesus Painter). This guy creates artwork before your very eyes using only paint and his hands. It's really amazing to see him transform a blank canvas into a beautiful painting in less than 10 minutes.I noticed that his background music uses quite a bit of Rich Mullins. Rich has long been one of my favorite songwriters. One time, when Mike was cleaning up, I went over and asked, "Why Rich Mullins?" Apparently, Mike grew up in Cincinnati and became familiar with Rich's music since Rich attended Cincinnati Bible College (now Cincinnati Christian University). I helped him fold up one of his tarps and he was kind enough to give me three prints of the three paintings I saw him do live, 'Christ Eyes' 'Proof to Thomas' and 'Intimate Portrait' (left to right in picture below)

(click on these pictures for bigger versions)




Wednesday, November 10, 2004

A Praise Gathering For Believers

Christy and I are heading down to Indianapolis tonight for Praise Gathering this weekend. I was also there Monday to help get things set up for registration tomorrow. Christy's parents are coming sometime today and they will stay with Hannah tonight while we stay overnight at the Marriott downtown. Then, Christy's parents will bring Hannah down Thursday evening before they go to the concert. They'll attend other concerts and seminars, etc. Friday and Saturday and Christy and I will trade off between working at a booth of some kind and chasing Hannah around the convention center. Working at this event always makes for long days, but we usually manage to have some fun too. Maybe we can talk Christy's parents into watching Hannah for a little while so Christy and I can go catch The Polar Express at Circle Center. Two theatrical movies in one week? We'll see.

Films Recently Watched:
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) dir. by Stephen Norrington
Superman II (1980) dir. by Richard Lester

Saturday, November 06, 2004

The Incredibles



Films Recently Watched:
The Incredibles (2004) Dir. by Brad Bird

Christy and I each took part of Friday off and after eating lunch together, went to see Pixar's new film, The Incredibles. It's been a while since we've been to the movies together. It was great. In Anderson, this film was showing at our new cinema, Mounds Mall 10 with all digital sound, all stadium seating, big screens, comfortable seats and competitive prices. By going for a matinee on opening day we happily missed the crowds that were undoubtedly attending the later shows. There were a few small children in our showing, but they seemed to be well-behaved, as were the adults (believe it or not).

Basic Plot: The world has now rejected the once-popular "Supers" (those with extraordinary powers) and has forced them to live ordinary lives in the suburbs. But when a new threat is discovered, they come out of hiding in order to 'Save the day.' It's X-Men meets James Bond meets Malcolm in the Middle if you can imagine that.

The Incredibles marks a series of "firsts" for Pixar (noted below).

The Incredibles is the brain-child of Brad Bird, writer and director. He also wrote (for the screen) and directed another one of my favorites in animation, The Iron Giant (1999). This is the first time Pixar has "farmed out" the director's chair for one of their films, but they put it in good hands.

For those planning to go and are familiar with Pixar's tradition of making the end credits worth staying through, this is no exception, in my opinion. The end credits design is very unique. Though there are not outtakes or animated characters of any kind during the end credits, the design is cool and there are multiple storyboards to view while the multitude of individuals involved with the creation of this film scroll by.

This is the first time that human characters have been the lead characters in a Pixar film. Though most of their other films have a human element, the lead characters have been Toys, Bugs, Monsters, and Fish. They might have been able to fake movement by these other characters, but humans know how humans move and if it isn't right on screen, one can usually sense it at some level. I must say that they have nailed human motion in this film. I know it sounds clich├ęd, but for the most part, I forgot that these characters were animated and accepted them as human. The voice-acting only supports what Pixar is doing technically. Craig T. Nelson (from the television series Coach) is perfect as both the superhero, Mr. Incredible and as is alter-ego, Bob Parr. Other voice talent includes Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Wallace Shawn, and Pixar's lucky charm, John Ratzenberger. The music by Michael Giacchino also plays a supporting role. The very James Bond-like music provides an excellent backdrop for the on-screen action. Realistic sets, lighting, textures, etc. also give a satisfying environment for the characters without being distracting.

This is the first time one of Pixar's feature-length films has received a rating other than G. The Incredibles is rated PG and rightly so. Parents should take the PG rating seriously.

Finally, as an added bonus, even before the feature film begins, you have the opportunity to see one short film Boundin' by Pixar and two teaser trailers for upcoming films, Revenge of the Sith and Pixar's next one, Cars. The short film, Boundin' was cute. Personally, I enjoyed their short film, For the Birds, which showed with Monsters, Inc. and an older short, Knick Knack, which I believe showed with Finding Nemo (it's on the DVD, at least) more than Boundin', but it was OK. Also from Pixar, a sneak peek at their 2005 film, Cars. It's a little hard to tell where they're going with this, but there are some good gags even in this short preview and it's Pixar, so you can bet that it will be great! Lastly, though I had seen the teaser trailer for the new Star Wars film, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, on a friend's computer at work on Thursday, it was very cool to see it on the big screen. From what they show, it appears that it will nicely tie up the Prequels and lead into Episode IV and the rest of the original trilogy. Can't wait until May 19, 2005 for that!

Thursday, November 04, 2004

We're Going to the Zoo Today!

Well, not today, but we went last Saturday. Christy and Hannah and I met my Mom and Dad and we spent the afternoon at the Indianapolis Zoo. The weather was just about perfect. It was very windy, but pleasant. It was great to be outdoors and see the animals. Several animals that are often elusive (elusive as they can be in a cage, that is) also seemed to be out enjoying the weather. It was a nice day to spend with family.

We were at the giraffe exhibit at feeding time, so Hannah got to feed a giraffe some sweet potato! She was very brave! Hannah also liked seeing the monkeys. She especially liked seeing the baby monkeys that were just born in May.

I also got a chance to put my new camera to the test. I'm still getting used to some of the manual features on it, but I'm definitely enjoying the 10x zoom on it. Got to experiment with this at several exhibits (especially the Kodiak Bear, and Lion). Note that no digital zoom is being used in any of these shots.

(Click any picture to see a bigger version.)
Did I mention that it was windy?Polar Bear, Polar Bear, what do you hear?Relaxin'Did I mention that I like the 10x optical zoom on my new camera?My Mom & DadWe are family, I got all my monkeys with me; We are family, getup, ev'rybody, and sing!!YAAAWWNNLyin' LionHannah feeds a giraffe

"We're going to the Zoo today! And after that we're going to the baseball game and then we're going to Hong Kong and then they're taking us to Japan, and we're going to a lot of places; yup, yup, yup." from "Special Class" by Bill Cosby from his album, Wonderfulness.


Films Recently Watched:
Some Like It Hot (1959) dir. by Billy Wilder
During prohibition, two musicians (played by Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) witness a murder by mobsters and go into hiding as cross-dressing musicians in an all-girl Jazz band. Marilyn Monroe plays "Sugar," the band's singer and ukulele player and a sucker for quirky, rich, tenor saxophone players. Of course, not everything goes exactly to plan. When the mobsters show up at the resort at which the band is playing, all hell breaks loose until the satisfying resolution and hilarious final two lines.
Funny stuff. Fantastic, quick-witted dialogue, cool music, beautiful black and white cinematography, I now see why this film is so well respected among film-lovers.

Monroe required 47 takes to get "It's me, Sugar" correct, instead saying either "Sugar, it's me" or "It's Sugar, me". After take 30, director Wilder had the line written on a blackboard. Another scene required Monroe to rummage through some drawers and say "Where's the bourbon?" After 40 takes of Monroe saying "Where's the whiskey?", 'Where's the bottle", or "Where's the bonbon?", Wilder pasted the correct line in one of the drawers. After Monroe became confused about which drawer contained the line, Wilder had it pasted in every drawer. 59 takes were required for this scene and when she finally does say it, she has her back to the camera, leading some to wonder if Wilder finally gave up and had it dubbed.

Director, Billy Wilder also had been quoted saying, "I knew we were in midflight, and there was a nut on the plane." apparently about Marilyn Monroe.

(Quotes from IMDB trivia)

By the way, I got pictures from Hannah's friend's parents and added them to the post titled, Autumn Party #2. Check them out, if you're interested.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

And The Results Are In!!!

Pop Vs. Soda -- Click for details

No, not the election, silly! Pop vs. Soda, of course!

Click on the picture for details.

I did "Trackback" on this, but I'll still give credit to Pat Hannon for posting this on his blog back in June, 2004.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Autumn Party #4

Well, it appears that the fourth time was the charm for us this time. Autumn Party #4 was last night at Rainbow Christian Camp in Converse, Indiana. The weather was perfect for this type of event; not too warm, not too cold.

Dinner was provided and they had lots of activities for the young and old. They had a bounce-house for young children (Dora the Explorer, no less). Hannah tried this briefly. The older kids were being a little too rambunctious for her. We did "Trunk-or-Treat" where people decorate their trunks or the back of their cars and then pass out candy to the kids from there. Christy and Hannah (whose picture can be seen in the previous post) walked around collecting candy while I stayed near our car and passed out the candy that we brought for other Trunk-or-Treaters. We also finally got to go on our hayride, except there was no hay. What's up with that??

I can see it now. . .

"Grandpa Jeremiah," (when I get older, I plan to insist that people call me Jeremiah, even though my given name is Jeremy. Somehow Jeremiah just sounds, older, ya know?) "why do they call hayrides, hayrides?"
"Well Sonny," I reply, "Back in my day they actually used to put hay in a beat up old wagon and everybody climbed in and went for a ride in the hay. That's why they're called hayrides."
"So you actually had to touch the hay??"
"That's right! Sometimes we'd take a handful and throw it at each other or stuff it down somebody's shirt, ha, ha!"
"But, Grandpa, where were the seatbelts?"
"Seatbelts? No, son, you don't understand. There were no seatbelts."
"Really?"

"Nope, we just had to hang on. That's the way it was, and we liked it!"

Anyway, they have this 45' tower there with lots of various activities; Jousting, a 300' Zip-line, a vertical obstical course they call 'The Matrix,' and a climbing wall. Well that was it. I've always wanted to try a climbing wall. So I got my safety harness, helmet, signed my waiver and went up the wall . . . about 10 feet up the wall, that is. Man, it was a lot harder than I expected it to be. I knew I wouldn't be able to pull myself up with my arms, but I thought if I could get my legs under me, then I'd be OK. Well, by the time I did get my legs under me, my fingers and hands were done! I guess I should have tried the beginner wall instead of starting with the intermediate side. After I got down, a little girl came up to me and said, "It's OK; you tried your best." Well, there went any hope that maybe nobody was watching. The next person on the wall was probably about 4 years old. He was really too small to be up there, but he wanted to try. Well, he hung on for a little bit, but finally broke down in tears and his dad went up and got him down. So Christy turns to me and says, "At least you didn't cry!" We all had a good laugh about it.

This is WAY out of focus (motion blur, actually), but it was the best picture I had that showed scale.  And, no that is not me on the wall.  I took this picture before I made my attempt.

Films Recently Watched:

Charade (1963) dir. by Stanley Donen
Cary Grant and Audry Hepburn are both spot-on in this mystery/suspense/comedy/romance (yeah, a little something for everybody). Also starring Walter Matthau and James Coburn, Christy and I both enjoyed this one.

And for Halloween:
Frankenstein (1931) dir. by James Whale

(edit 11/02/2004: added climbing wall picture)

Friday, October 29, 2004

'Revenge Of The Sith' Teaser Poster

click to get more information about this teaser poster at starwars.comclick to get more information about this teaser poster at starwars.com

To the left (above) is the brand new teaser poster from the new Star Wars film 'Revenge of the Sith" (in theaters May 19, 2005). To the right (above) is the teaser poster from 'The Phantom Menace' that some of you may remember. That TPM poster is one of my favorite movie posters ever. The new ROTS poster is definitely more menacing, but TPM is, by far, more haunting.

Films Recently Watched:

Mr. Deeds Goes To Town (1936) dir. by Frank Capra
Gary Cooper is Longfellow Deeds in this film about a simple man from the small town of Mandrake Falls, Vermont, who inherits a sum of $20 million dollars only to acquire the unwanted turmoil brought on by wealth.

Deeds says something simple, yet profound that stuck with me, he says, "People here are funny. They work so hard at living they forget how to live." Which reminded me of something my friend, Brian, had to say recently over at his blog; "Stillness will not allow itself to be found in a world where the acquisition and maintenance of wealth require constant vigil." Deeds quotes Henry David Thoreau in this film when looking at the New York skyline he says, "I got to thinking about what Thoreau said. 'They created a lot of grand palaces here, but they forgot to create the noblemen to put in them.' I'd rather have Mandrake Falls." Thoreau also wrote, "It is not enough to be busy...the question is: what are we busy about?" And it all goes back to scripture (of course): in Luke 12:15, Jesus says, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."

Brian, I hope you feel that I've put you in good company, Capra, Thoreau, and God.

This film succeeds at both being a good romantic comedy as well as driving its point home clearly without compromise.

School of Rock (2003) dir. by Richard Linklater
Better than expected. I was hesitant on this one mainly because it starred Jack Black, but I heard enough good comments about it that I decided to give it a try. Jack Black stars as a rock star wannabe/slacker who pretends to be a substitute teacher at a classy prep-school. He eventually tries to turn his class of 10 and 11 year olds into a rock band, complete with groupies, manager, etc. and enter the group into the local "Battle of the Bands." This is not to be confused with Mr. Holland's Opus, but it works as a vehicle for Black's antics without allowing him to go completely over the top (OK, he's over the top on occasion). You didn't see this one up for the Academy's "best picture" for a reason, but the film is, for lack of a better word, "funny & sweet." (I know . . . it's two words, give me a break!)

Fallen (1998) dir. by Gregory Hoblit
My Sister has been hounding me for a year or more to watch this film. Denzel Washington is as good as ever in this supernatural thriller. With a supporting cast including John Goodman, Donald Sutherland, James Gandolfini, and Embeth Davidtz, I think this film succeeds at what it tries to do. I enjoyed it for what it is. I can't help but wonder, though, how much Jerry Ragovoy and his publisher got paid from this film and subsequent video/DVD releases. (Jerry Ragovoy is the writer of the song, "Time Is On My Side," used prominently throughout this film.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

One Thing, Two Thing, Right Wing, Left Wing

You won't often find me making overt political statements here or elsewhere, but this looks interesting:

The Political Dr. Seuss

From his early cartoons, to some of his most revered "children's" stories, Dr. Seuss made plenty of political statements, some by which you may be surprised.

Check link for local broadcast dates and times. For my local PBS stations, this show airs tonight, Thursday, and Sunday. At least for me, this is airing late at night (10:30p/12:30a/3:00a), so you may need to set your VCR/PVR to watch it at a more convenient time.

Yertle = Hitler ???The Butter Battle = The Cold War ???


Thanks to The Sneeze for making me aware of this.


Monday, October 25, 2004

Autumn Party #3

What is it with these fall parties and the weather? It's not that we haven't had any nice days/evenings this fall; we have; just not on the days we're trying to do these parties.

Autumn Party #3 was with our Sunday School Class. We were supposed to be outside at somebody's house, but were relocated to the church after it rained all day Saturday.

I must admit that at the party Saturday night, we were a little out of our element. I'm 30 years old now and Christy is, well, ~ahem~ not yet 30. I doubt that there was anybody else at the party younger than 40 (except for Hannah and a few grandkids). They played a couple of games to identify photos of radio and television stars of the early days. I recognized Bob Hope, but that was about it. They also played a game where you were to match up old radio programs with their descriptions. I got "Little Orphan Annie," but, again, that was about it. Bill (Christy's Dad), I wish you'd been with us, we could have cleaned up on those radio programs! Regardless, good food, good people, good times. Several made specific efforts to make us feel welcome and I absolutely believe that we were welcome, just a little out of our element, like I said.

When we get to Sunday School on Sunday mornings, we never feel out of place. We learn from the teaching that happens there and enjoy hearing others' thoughts about the topic as well as expressing some of our own. We sampled several different classes recently when we were looking for a new class. We tried several that had young adults/young families, etc. None of those felt like the right fit for us. This older class just seemed like what we were looking for in terms of teaching.



Films Recently Watched:
Well, none, really.

Christy and Hannah had Annie (1982) on a little and Lady and The Tramp (1955) on a little, but I don't think anybody was able to sit down and watch them entirely.

I'm halfway through City of God (2002) and Touch of Evil (1958), but both are due back at the library tonight, so I won't be able to finish them.


Finally, for all you Star Wars fans, The Official Site has officially announced that the Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith teaser trailer will make its theatrical debut with the new Pixar film, The Incredibles, which opens Friday, November 5, 2004. Members of starwars.com's pay site, Hyperspace, get to see this trailer online beginning November 4, 2004. A friend from work is a Hyperspace subscriber, so I'm sure he'll be kind enough to let me see it on the 4th (right, Doug??).

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Autumn Party #2

Autumn Party #2 was yesterday morning. Hannah's took her very first field trip with her daycare to Howell Farms in Middletown, Indiana. Christy and I both took the day off to go with Hannah and about 19 other 2 year olds. Thankfully, it wasn't just us, there were plenty of teachers, parents, grandparents there to keep the children moving in the right direction. Leaving the daycare facility at 10:00 and needing to be back there by 11:30 for lunch followed by naps didn't allow for much time once we were there, but it was still fun. Each child got to pick a small pumpkin to take with them (we're getting quite a little collection of pumpkins). They were supposed to pick it from the patch, but with recent wet weather, the field was too muddy for a bunch of 2 year olds, so they picked from pumpkins that the owners had set out in a nearby grassy field. I believe the children were also supposed to pick an apple from a tree in their orchard, but the orchard was too muddy as well. Hannah rode there and back in a van and I wouldn't be surprised if she thought that was the most fun part of the trip. When they were getting ready to head back to the daycare, Hannah said to Christy, "I go in the truck now, you not go in the truck." The teachers said that all the kids were a little wound up for the rest of the day, but I think that everyone had a good time.

What?? No pictures. Well, no, not yet. That's the rest of the story, I'm afraid.
(see below for pictures added 11/04/2004)

(Page 2)

I've had my Fuji digital camera for almost 3 years. I got it around Thanksgiving, 2001, knowing that Hannah would arrive sometime in early 2002. It's been a great camera for us. I really like the versatility that digital photography offers. I can delete bad shots instantly, easily print/develop only those shots that I want for an album, easily edit shots using user-friendly software, etc. However, yesterday, I turned the camera on to begin taking pictures and got a "FOCUS ERROR" and a flashing red light. Uh-Oh. Power off, power on, same. Remove batteries, replace batteries, same. Uh-Oh. This can't be good...

For the time being, I asked the parents of one of Hannah's friends if they would mind sharing some of their pictures by e-mail. They were kind enough to agree, so perhaps when I get those pictures, I'll update this post.

I am kind of in process about replacing our digital camera. I took our old one to Jack's Camera Shop in Muncie, hoping it might be something simple (yeah, right!) and they were willing to send it off to Fuji for a repair estimate, but that was going to be expensive too. I ended up purchasing a very early Christmas present for me, a Canon PowerShot S1 IS and am tinkering with it a little trying to decide whether or not to keep it. It has a lot of features that I really like. I'm still trying to determine if it is more camera than I need or will use. Hopefully I'll soon have some pictures to post from the new camera!


Films Watched Recently:
My Darling Clementine (1946) dir. by John Ford
This film tells the story of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, the town of Tombstone, and the shootout at the OK Corral. I like this and I am still enjoying Henry Fonda, but I have to admit that I'm partial to this story and these characters as they are portrayed in the film Tombstone (1993) starring Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer.


Lastly . . .
Don't come here to get your news about sports, as I follow most sports from a distance. I try to keep up on how the Colts or Pacers are doing and who their latest coach is; I may check a score here or there if I see them playing, but that's about the extent of it. But, I must acknowledge the historical accomplishment of the Boston Red Sox last night.

I didn't see any of the first three games they played in this series (which were won by the Yankees). I was on the computer the night that game 4 was played, but had the game on in the other room, so I saw Boston win that one, but I also heard the know-it-alls after the game virtually dismissing that victory for Boston and indicating that for a team as strong as the Yankees having three more chances to win one more game, it was really just a matter of time. I didn't see any of games 5, 6, or 7, but heard this morning that the Red Sox won 4 in a row after being down 0-3, apparently, something that has never been done in baseball before.

Could the Curse of the Bambino finally be over?? We'll see.

[EDIT 11/04/2004] Added pictures - courtesy of Chad & Kim





Sunday, October 17, 2004

Autumn Party #1

Christy, Hannah, and I are planning on attending no fewer than four, yes four, [Autumn/Fall/Harvest] [Gatherings/Parties/Outings] before the end of October.

The first was on Saturday. Christy's work was hosting it at Grandmas and Grandpas Pumpkin and Gourd Patch, here in Anderson.
(click any of these small pictures for bigger versions)

Pumpkin Pickin' Even though the event began at 4:30pm, I was running sound for a wedding at our church which also began at 4:30m. We didn't get there until close to 6:30 and it was already getting dark, so the first thing we did was had Hannah pick out which pumpkin she wanted from the pumpkin patch.



Christy & Hannah in the pumpkin patch

It wasn't terribly cold, but the wind sure gets going out in those Indiana fields, so we tried to dress for cold weather.




Missed the hay ride :(


They were running a tractor with a wagon for hayrides, but we just missed the last trip. Hannah wasn't happy about that...



say, 'Chubby Bunny'

...but, they had marshmallows. Hannah was happy about that (as you can see)! They had the rest of the stuff for making s'mores. So Christy roasted a few and we had s'mores. They also had hot dogs, chips, drinks, etc.



bonfire




Obligatory bonfire shot




The Fam All in all, a good time was had by all. It was very nice for Christy's work to give the opportunity to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. It would have been better if we'd gotten there a little earlier, but we've got three more opportunities to catch anything we missed this time.



Films Recently watched (a Christopher Reeve tribute):
Superman (1978) dir. by Richard Donner
Somewhere in Time (1980) dir. by Jeannot Szwarc