Thursday, July 28, 2005

County Fair

We went to the Madison County Fair last week. The clouds were threatening rain, but we decided to go and hope for the best. The "best" was that we got some food and managed to find a picnic table under a tent at which to sit before the rain started pouring.

Corn Dogs, Hot Dogs, Pork Chop Sandwiches, curly fries, Corn on the cob, strawberry shortcake, cotton candy; oh, and I think that Christy and Hannah may have eaten something, too, though it's hard to be sure.

So, when the time came to go get the strawberry shortcake, I asked, "How many?" The reply from Christy, "Three." Simple enough, right? So I dashed out in a moderate rain and got three strawberry shortcakes with the works and brought them back in a box lid. Christy's eyes got wide and she says, "I meant three spoons!" -- Oops. To be fair, there was some mention before I left to retrieve the strawberry shortcake about spoons, and it may have been in close proximity to my question, "How many?" but I didn't believe that there was any reason to ask how many spoons to get. Anyway, Christy and Hannah shared one (one shortcake, not one spoon, wiseguy), and while I still maintain that I could have polished off the other two myself, Christy encouraged me to find somebody else to give the "extra" one to. There was a family sitting at our table that had two teen-ish boys who happily took the "extra" one and shared it amongst themselves.

Once the rain quit, Christy and Hannah still had time to go on one ride. "The Bear Affair" appeared to be one of the only rides that we thought Hannah could handle with seats that weren't drenched from the heavy rain.
Here's a picture:

Bear Affair

Even besides the food and the ride, Hannah made out pretty well. The boys who got the "extra" strawberry shortcake had won a stuffed clownfish at a carnival game that they decided to give to Hannah. Also, out of the clear blue cloudy gray sky, some girl came up to Hannah and asked her if she wanted a a goldfish.

Introducing: Hannah's first pet: "Jaws"

Perhaps, you'll be happy to know that over a week later, Jaws is still alive and -- um -- swimming! We have gotten several suggestions about how to "accidentally" kill a goldfish. Some people are just sick! Though, if anybody has any suggestions on how to "accidentally" kill a cat, send them my way! (Note to self: Send e-mail to Haloscan to prepare them for the deluge of comments I'm about to recieve on this post.)

If we ever take a vacation, we might need to take up the services of this local boy who has been advertising his new pet sitting business (this struck me as funny -- he seems to be going after a very niche market):

Jesse's Pet Watch

Films Recently Watched:

Double Feature:
The Next Karate Kid (1994) dir. by Christopher Cain
Million Dollar Baby (2004) dir. by Clint Eastwood

Well, I was going to do this clever "compare & contrast" segment about Million Dollar Baby and The Next Karate Kid, but apart from the obvious fighting sports theme and the presence of Hilary Swank, there are few comparisons to be made, just lots of contrast.

Really though, Million Dollar Baby packed such a punch (so to speak) that I couldn't bring myself to be "clever" about it.

If you haven't seen Million Dollar Baby, I highly recommend it.

Fellow HTF member, Haggai, says this:
Time after time, scene after scene, Clint knows what we want, and then he makes us wait for it, and then he hits us with it at precisely the right moment.

That's a good summation of Eastwood's skill as a director.

I, Robot (2004) dir. by Alex Proyas

The Final Countdown (1980) dir. by Don Taylor
An interesting fantasy concept: A modern-day aircraft carrier encounters an electrical storm which throws the ship and its crew back in time to December 6, 1941, just hours before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Do they take action and prevent the events of that fateful day, or by their inaction, hopefully avoid the Grandfather Paradox? Though, I would have liked to have seen more discussion of "what if" scenarios, starring Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen, this is a decent sci-fi/fantasy/war film.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941) dir. by Alfred Hitchcock
No, this isn't the latest Hollywood summer blockbuster. This is completely unrelated to the new Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie action flick, though the premise of the 2005 film is much closer to your typical Hitchcock film than the 1941 film is. Hitchcock's Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a straight-ahead screwball comedy starring the original "screwball" herself, Carole Lombard. No murder, no mystery, no "wrong man," no trains.

The Flight of the Phoenix (1965) dir. by Robert Altman
Again, of the older (1965) and newer (2004) versions of this film, the older is clearly the better film. Good performances by Jimmy Stewart, Richard Attenborough, Ernest Borgnine and several other cast members. Though the basic plot in both films plays out very similarly, Altman uses several quieter moments for character development that is unfortunately absent from the 2004 re-make. I enjoyed the 1965 version better even though I saw the newer version first and, thus, was not surprised by the "twist" while watching the older version.

Sunset Blvd. (1950) dir. by Billy Wilder
It's astonishing that this film and All About Eve were released the same year. I've never seen the academy award winning performance by Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday, but I know now that I must. If it is honestly better than Bette Davis and Anne Baxter in All About Eve and Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd., it simply must be an amazing performance! More probably though, the vote in this category was split three ways and the likely 4th place finisher ended up winning! (Update: I did find "Born Yesterday" at the library, but haven't watched it yet. Stay Tuned!)

Empire of the Sun (1987) dir. by Steven Spielberg
This is one that you can watch over and over and see new things every time.
Perhaps I didn't state it clearly enough here from my first viewing: "Watch this film!" It is most definitely worth your time.

Again, I will refer you to the thread at the Home Theater Forum, EMPIRE OF THE SUN -- Steven Spielberg's Overlooked, Misunderstood Masterwork.

The following is a quote from Ernest Rister, the gentleman who began the discussion at HTF:

It is said that there are two types of media -- lean-forward media and lean-back media. Lean-forward media asks you to particiapte, to do your own work, to sort things out. Lean back media does all the work for you, the film acts upon you, as opposed to you injecting yourself into the film. Raiders of the Lost Ark is a lean-back movie. E.T. is a lean-back movie. Jaws is a lean-back movie. Even The Color Purple is a lean-back film.

Empire of the Sun is a lean-forward film, but because Spielberg had created so many masterful films in the classic Alfred Hitchcock, Frank Capra, John Ford, and Walt Disney mold, this is what people expected from him. Empire of the Sun was something completely new from Steven Spielberg - a film that worked on multiple levels of reality, with one informing the other. Audiences and critics did not know what to make of it.

The French Connection (1971) dir. by William Friedkin
Check off another AMPAS "Best Picture" winner for me. The French Connection also won for leading actor (Gene Hackman), director, film editing, and adapted screenplay.

Taking on the drug culture head-on; dirty cops; the large-scale car chase; these elements may have been progressive at the time, but have since become such an integral part of American films that they appear clich├ęd looking back now. Of course, that isn't the fault of the original, but it definitely shows its age.

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