Friday, April 29, 2005

Star Wars Countdown

[EDIT (05/20/2005): removed countdown timer since the event has passed]

Check my sidebar ----->
I've added a countdown timer for Episode III!

My friend, Doug, got me a ticket for a midnight show so that we can say that we were among the first to see the last 'Star Wars' film. We, along with a bunch of other people from Doug's church, did the same thing for Episodes I & II. Should be fun! Fanboys (and girls, believe it or not) dressed up as their favorite characters, cheering, clapping, booing, hissing, it's quite the experience!

Of course, I'll have thoughts (and hopefully pictures) to post here after seeing the film in 19 days, 11 hours, 2 minutes, and 45 seconds, make that 40 seconds, 39, 38, 37, well... just watch the countdown timer.

Thanks to a guy I don't know, but fellow Star Wars fan, Kunj for the code template I used for the countdown timer. He offered it freely here. Check out his site (linked above) which offers mainly science/tech news stories and links.

Films Recently Watched:

Léon (1994) dir. by Luc Besson
I don't know why, but I had an immediate connection with this film. It can't be the subject matter. The story is about a professional hitman (played by Jean Reno) or "cleaner" who takes a young girl (played by Natalie Portman) under his wing and teaches her his craft so she can exact revenge on the men who killed her parents. Don't have any experience there.

Portman's performance in this film (her first) is stunning. She not only nails her own scenes, but also manages believable on-screen chemistry opposite the male lead, Reno. That's not just the Star Wars fanboy in me rooting for Queen Amadila, either! At least, I don't think so.

Anyway, if you haven't seen this, I recommend it. There is also a slightly extended cut of the film available which I have not yet seen, but I've heard that it only improves on the shorter version. In the U.S., the film was released with the title, The Professional. The extended cut is titled, "Leon: The Professional."

The Last Samurai (2003) dir. by Edward Zwick
I tried to like this film, but just couldn't. Apart from perhaps a few historical inaccuracies etc., there's nothing wrong with the film. I just didn't have the immediate 'connection' with this one like I had with The Professional (mentioned above). Tom Cruise gives an adequate performance, but is in the shadow of Ken Watanabe every time they're on screen together.

Karate Kid (1984) dir. by John G. Avildsen
It was a thrill to watch this one again. For me, it hasn't lost anything in its 20+ years. Watching this when I was 10-12, I remember developing early notions about romance, strength, honor, etc. from this film. Maybe that's what's wrong with me?

Monday, April 25, 2005


Except for Christmas, this is the first whole week of vacation that Christy and I have taken for quite some time.

It started off on the wrong foot, though. Car trouble. Friday afternoon, Christy called me at work and said that a battery indicator had lit up on our good car. I called my mechanic in Alexandria, who promised he'd take a look at it if we could get it there. He replaced the alternator, but that didn't fix the problem. It appeared to be in the wiring and it would take more than an afternoon to find and fix. We were planning one trip to my Parent's house on Saturday and another for Sunday through Tuesday, so we made the trip Saturday in my old clunker car and Dad let us borrow his car for our other trip (thanks, Dad!).

My family has several birthdays in mid-April that we usually are able to celebrate when we get together for Easter, but with Easter falling so early in the year this year, we decided a separate gathering would be better.

Hannah outside Grandma's house

Sunday, after church, we traveled to Columbus, Indiana. We stayed at a Holidome there and enjoyed using those facilities, but mainly, we just wanted a chance to get away as a family. We had wonderful weather the whole time we were there. Columbus has a number of walking/bike trails throughout the city, including directly behind our hotel. We did some walking outside to enjoy the weather, but wish we'd brought our bikes. Inside, we did some mini-golf, ping-pong (as much as can be done with a 3-year-old) and some swimming.

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During Hannah's nap on Monday afternoon, I went and did some sightseeing. Columbus is known for it's architecture. Here are a few pictures:

Second St. Bridge from the riverEven the county jail is beautiful

Second St. Bridge from the highway

Back of SBC buildingFirst Christian Church steeple

We also did some shopping at the nearby Edinburgh Outlet Mall on Monday.

Tuesday, we traveled home and I mowed the lawn for the first time this year. Later, we got the bikes out and went for a ride around our neighborhood.

Wednesday, Hannah went to daycare and Christy and I were able to relax a little. We still had wonderful weather, so we had lunch on the outdoor patio of one of our favorite restaurants. We also found a movie to go see, Beyond The Sea.

We also got our car back from the mechanic on Wednesday (yea!!) and paid for the work (boo!!).

Thursday was Hannah's surgery (see below). We had dinner delivered by some friends from church who knew about Hannah's procedure. "Thanks" to them and also to one of our pastors, Larry Lipps, who came to the hospital and prayed with Hannah and sat with us during most of her time there.

Hannah was completely back to normal by Thursday night, so we let her go back to daycare on Friday and Christy and I ran some errands, etc.

Films Recently Watched:

Lost In Translation (2003) dir. by Sophia Coppola

Beyond The Sea (2004) dir. by Kevin Spacey
Another biopic/musical, but not about Cole Porter this time. Kevin Spacey writes, directs, and stars in this Bobby Darin biopic. Furthermore, Kevin Spacey does all of his own singing for the film. I was impressed that he not only sang, but managed to sound like Bobby Darin, too.

Minority Report (2002) dir. by Steven Spielberg
Whittling away at the Spielberg catalog lately...
Excellent realization of a future world, good concept, good story, good acting, good effects, etc.
Makes me anxious to see the next Spielberg/Cruise project, War of the Worlds, in theaters June 26, 2005.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) (Extended) - dir. by Peter Jackson
I got the extended edition from the Library. I own the theatrical edition, but am holding off on purchasing any of the extended editions so as to not violate my "no-double dipping" rule on one film/one format. Frankly, though, I must admit that the extended cut of the film is a better film than the theatrical release. As a reader of the book on which the film is based, I enjoyed many of the added and extended scenes that bring the film more in line with the novel.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Something Has Gone Terribly Wrong...

I believe the technical name is "bilateral tympanostomy," commonly known as having tubes put in one's ears. Well, you may not know this, but I am a firm believer that the medical establishment is a business like any other business. And business needs customers. And, they want to sell you their most expensive item which is unnecessary surgery. My "doctor" referred me to an "ENT" (not a walking tree for those LOTR fans out there) who tried to pull this racket over on me. Luckily, my friend, Bob Saccomanno, referred me to his friend, Tor Eckman, an herbalist, a healer. He's holistic! He fixed Hannah right up!


And it only cost me 38 bucks!

Seriously, though, Hannah had a small surgery this morning (at the hospital) to have tubes put in her ears. She has had pretty regular ear infections most of her life so far. We hope that this procedure will keep her off of antibiotics and help her ears to heal.

Well, everything went fine. Hannah was a little fussy coming off of the anesthesia, but seems to be bouncing back already!

Oh, one other thing; our dismissal instructions indicated that Hannah should be in the care of a responsible adult for 24 hours. Anybody know one? Let me know, thanks!

We're on vacation this week! More updates and pictures coming soon from that!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Happy Anniversary Of The Day On Which You Were Born...

To both of our Fathers.

Christy's DadJeremy's Dad

Both Christy's Dad and my Dad celebrate their 'birthday' on April 14th.

Both were formerly teachers (professionally), but remain teachers at heart both at their respective churches and to all those who know them.

More importantly, they have been and remain teachers to their Children. They are Godly examples in speech, life, love, faith and purity.

Thanks, and 'Happy Birthday' to our Dads,

Jeremy & Christy

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

College Buddies

Pat, Prinkey, Me, Randy

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Got together with a few buddies from college tonight. Pat was in town for his SOT classes, so Prinkey and Randy joined me in Anderson to hang out for a while.

Topics covered include:
Superheroes with PhD's
Mission trips to China
Knight Rider fraud (it depends on what your definition of "you" is)
Blacklisted ems-cee
Secret amphibious meetings with Gil Fruchy
G.I. Joe/Cobra
Gilmore Girls
Michael Jackson
80's T.V. show theme song philosophy
Bill Gaither's hair
Homeless people vs. Real people
Star Wars spoilers
Batman's nipples

Pretty much run-of-the-mill stuff, really. Thanks to those who travelled various distances to make it and to all of our families for a guy's night out. Yeah, it took 37 e-mails to sort it all out, but it was worth it.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Episode III Soundtrack

I'm currently listening to the John Williams score to Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge Of The Sith. Yeah, that's right, the one that doesn't release until May 3rd. The one that my friend here in the Copyright department illegally downloaded and saved to our network so that we could listen to it here at work, in the copyright department of a Gospel Music Company. :P

First of all, Wow. It's really good. Williams has done it again.

Secondly, don't worry, I'm going to buy it when it comes out. Furthermore, you should, too. The music is great, BUT WAIT - THERE'S MORE!! A second disc will be included that will have 70 minutes of Star Wars music videos featuring music, dialogue, and images from all six films in the saga. This DVD, featuring 5.1 surround audio would be worth the purchase price alone, but is included in every copy of the Episode III soundtrack CD.
[Read More - here]

Films Recently Watched:

Artificial Intelligence: AI (2000) dir. by Stephen Spielberg
A heartbreaking modernization of the classic Pinocchio. A mecha (robot) is made to be capable of love, but wants to complete his transformation by becoming "a real boy."

Matchstick Men (2003) dir. by Ridley Scott
A really fun con-artist film. This is what you get when Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Blade Runner, Alien) makes a film about an elaborate con. Starring a phobic/OCD Nick Cage and a wiley Sam Rockwell. Also in this film is (then) 24-year-old Alison Lohman who does a most-convincing job of playing a character 10 years younger than she really was. She really nails the mannerisms of a 14-year-old.

Citizen Kane (1941) dir. by Orson Welles
I finally watched "the best film ever made." The best film ever made it may be, but you won't be seeing it on any list of "favorite" films from me anytime soon. I hope to watch it again before it's due back at the library and listen to the Roger Ebert commentary. I've heard that the commentary is well done and helps one to appreciate this film.

Love Actually (2003) dir. by Richard Curtis
Too many stories to tell. I think they could have picked two or three of the eight (seriously) couples' and told these stories well in 30-minutes less time and everybody would have been happier (except for the actors who's characters got cut, I suppose).

De-Lovely (2004) dir. by Irwin Winkler
After Christy and I watched an older Cole Porter biopic, Night and Day, recently, we were interested in seeing this recent Cole Porter film. This film seems to have "agenda" written all over it:
  • Agenda #1: Create an opportunity to overtly deal with the issue of Porter's homosexuality, something that, not surprisingly, wasn't even mentioned in the 1946 version.
  • Agenda #2: Create an opportunity to feature performances by current jazz and pop stars (Diana Krall, Natalie Cole, Alanis Morissette, Elvis Costello, etc.)
  • Agenda #3: Create an opportunity for Kevin Kline to win his coveted Oscar for best actor in a leading role (Kline won for best supporting actor in 1989 for A Fish Called Wanda).

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Easter Egg Hunt #3

Good Friday
My work gives us Good Friday off as a holiday and Hannah's daycare was closed, so Christy decided to take a vacation day and we all went to the Indianapolis Children's Museum. Doug, a friend from work who also had the day off, and his family went along with us. We all had a good time. Here are a few pictures:

Easter Sunday
On Easter, we went to church like normal. Immediately following church we headed to my Parent's house in Roachdale for Easter Lunch with them and my Sister's family. After lunch, we had our third cold Easter Egg Hunt for Hannah. Here are a few pictures from that.

So, we went to three (3) Easter Egg Hunts this year:
Easter Egg Hunt #1Easter Egg Hunt #2Easter Egg Hunt #3
I'm pleased to say that in 2006, Easter is on April 16th.

Besides that (on Easter), we watched some exciting College Basketball and I bored my sister to tears explaining the operations of the Canon S1 IS. She's a scrapbooker and was interested in digital photography, so at Thanksgiving, I showed her my camera and she decided she wanted the exact same model. She just got her camera a little before Easter, so I told her about some of its features, tips, etc. I quite enjoyed telling her way more than she'll ever want to know about it though.

Films Recently Watched:

Secret Window (2004) dir. by David Koepp
Johnny Depp excells in this Stephen King adaptation.

The Butterfly Effect (2004) dir. by Eric Bress & J. Mackye Gruber
Ashton Kutcher finally plays something besides a dumbass (though nobody does it quite like him)! Pretty good story. I was intrigued by this one as soon as I saw the trailer.

The Pink Panther (1963) dir. by Blake Edwards

The Iron Giant (1999) dir. by Brad Bird
After being impressed with the Brad Bird commentary on the "The Incredibles" DVD, I got the Special Edition of this excellent animated film from the Library just to listen to the commentary. It was OK, but not as impressive as the one on "The Incredibles."

Friday, April 01, 2005

Happy Birthday Gmail!

Gmail, Google's web-based e-mail service, went live one year ago today in what most believed to be an April Fool's joke.

"A Gigabyte of e-mail storage for free? No way, it must be an April Fool's Joke," we said to ourselves. Only it wasn't. They were serious.

From the beginning, Gmail was available by invitation only. They began expanding the service when they offered Gmail to all users of their blog service, Blogger. Then they began offering those who had accounts the ability to send invitations to friends. That's how I got mine. Being tired of constant warnings from Hotmail about approaching my 2MB storage limit, I was anxious to get a Gmail account. The opportunity came when Chad Canipe offered his two invitations to anybody who wanted them. By the end of June last year, I had my Gmail account up and running. To date, I've kept just about every e-mail that I've sent or received and have an accumulated total of 31MB of data stored, a whopping 3.1% of 1GB. Additionally, every message is searchable. I have no doubt that I could find any message that I needed in seconds.

Gmail is still available by invitation only as it is officially beta (testing), though anyone interested shouldn't have any problem getting an invitation. I've got fifty (50) to give away in case any of you are interested.

Other companies who offer web-based e-mail (Yahoo!, Hotmail) have recently increased their storage capacities to compete, but Google is not to be outdone. Today, Google announces that they are doubling their current storage capacity for each user to 2GB!

Google Search revolutionized the way we search online.
Gmail is revolutionizing the way web-based e-mail works.
Look for these other developments from Google, as well:
Google News
Google Maps (very nice)
Froogle (Google's online price search)

Even though Google did go public last year, I am not a stockholder, just a fan. :-)

I hope to have pictures and a post up soon documenting events from last weekend. Christy and I have been absorbed in the American Dreams Season 1 DVDs I got from the library.

Films Recently Watched:

The Passion Of The Christ (2004) dir. by Mel Gibson
Watched this at my church on Good Friday. They did end up showing the film in its Original Aspect Ratio and on a 16 x 12 foot screen, to boot.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5

The Incredibles (2004) dir. by Brad Bird
Watched this again when I got a chance to be home alone for a while on Saturday. Got to crank up the sound! One of Pixar's best.

M (1931) dir. by Fritz Lang