Monday, December 05, 2005

December Weekend

We had a good weekend. Friday, Christy went shopping with a friend in Indianapolis, so Hannah and I had a Father-Daughter night. We got McDonald's to go, set up blankets in front of the TV, had a "picnic," and watched a movie.

Saturday was the first of several Christmas parties/events we have during December. This one was Christy's work Christmas Party at Beef and Boards in Indianapolis.

A little bit of history: Several years ago (we think it was in 1999), we were driving to Christy's work Christmas Party which was at Beef and Boards that year as well. We were on our way, probably less than five miles from the theater, zooming around I-465, when the engine of our "good car" at the time (which two or three traffic accidents later, happens to be my "junker" now) suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, went dead -- as a doornail. I headed for the right shoulder, put it in neutral, tried to restart - nothing. We rolled to a stop near the Ditch Road (life's funny ain't it?) overpass, and considered our options. Now, let the record show that I, still to this day, do not carry an electronic leash a cellular phone. Christy now needs one for work which she usually keeps in the car, which we have, on occasion, used for emergency purposes. But this all happened before Christy was managing her department and thus, no cell phone. I don't generally find Indianapolis to be an unfriendly town, but we felt it unlikely that a good Samaritan would stop and assist, so we assumed that we were on our own. It was well after dark in December and let's just say we weren't having a heat-wave at the time. One or both of us would have to go somewhere we could use a phone to call for help. We were both dressed nicely, but at least I wasn't wearing heels. I hated leaving Christy on the side of the road in a car with no heat, but she would have been miserable walking as far as I ended up having to walk. I found a blanket in the trunk and gave it to her and set off to find a phone. I am only slightly more familiar with the Indianapolis area now than I was then, but that's not saying much. Once I crawled up the embankment to Ditch Road, I headed South (I figured maybe it would be warmer). Perhaps this stretch between 465 and 86th Street is more developed now than it was then, but everything I saw along the way was residential. Again, I don't feel that Indianapolis is an unfriendly town, but I wasn't about to go knocking on doors of strangers alone and after dark in an unfamiliar part of town. I finally got to the intersection with 86th Street and found a filling station and went in and told them my story. They pulled out the yellow pages and allowed me to use their phone to call a wrecker service. After a couple of tries, I found a company that was willing to haul my car back to our fair city, Anderson, which is about 25-30 miles outside of Indy. I thanked the gentlemen for the use of their phone and headed back to the car. It only took a couple of moments before those nagging questions began to creep into my mind. What if the wrecker gets there before I do and is unwilling to wait for my return? What if the car isn't there when I get back? What if the car is there, but Christy is gone? What if the car got plowed into by a truck while just sitting on the side of the road? Try as I might to suppress them, these types of thoughts often lay siege to my consciousness. So I began to half-walk, half-jog back to the car, completing my nearly two-mile round trip. I made it to the overpass and rejoiced at the sight of my broken down Chevy. I got back into the car with Christy and, after a while, realized that my concerns about a too-speedy recovery were entirely unwarranted. Finally, flashing yellow lights approaching from the distance made their way into my rear-view mirror. Wrecker Dude hoisted the car up onto his flatbed and went to the next exit where he could turn around and begin the trip back to Anderson. The exit where he turned around happened to be the very exit for what was our original destination which can be seen from the road. Christy and I both looked longingly at the sign on the side of the building (MMMmmm....Beef -- and Boards). After finally warming up, then getting a bit toasty, then baking in the cab of the truck, we had Wrecker Dude drop the car at a service station in Anderson and then he took us to our apartment. Not a fun evening.

Christy and Jeremy at Beef and BoardsFortunately, this year's trip went flawlessly with the possible exception of a bit of an ice storm that made the roads a bit slick for the trip home.

We were pleasantly surprised that a portion of the show was dedicated to a "Traditional Christmas" which featured a Nativity scene and several songs about Jesus. Wow, we've nearly come to expect that most, if not all, references to Christ will be removed from these types of programs, even down to the word, "Christmas." I've written to the theater to express my appreciation for this as well as the fine service, food and entertainment.

Hannah and Santa Claus, 2005After church on Sunday, we went to the mall here in Anderson and had Hannah's picture taken with Santa Claus. To the left is a picture that they allowed me to take as long as we paid for the picture that they took as well.

Films Recently Watched:

A Manchurian Double-Feature:

The Manchurian Candidate (1962) dir. by John Frankenheimer
Check another off of the AFI's - 100 Years...100 Movies list for me. 62 seen, 38 to go.

The Manchurian Candidate (2004) dir. by Jonathan Demme
A few twists on the original film's plot. A couple of updates. A couple of good performances (namely by Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep), but nothing astounding here, in my opinion. I'll stick with the 1962 film.

A Tim Burton Triple-Feature combined with a Johhny Depp Double-Feature:

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) dir. by Henry Selick. Written and produced by Tim Burton.
This is one of my annual holiday films, and I love it every year!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) dir. by Tim Burton
Starring Johhny Depp.
I'm not sure what to think of this. I'm glad that Burton remade this story as it is quite "Burtonesque." But, for me, it doesn't have the magic that the Gene Wilder film has. Perhaps this will change upon repeated viewings.

Edward Scissorhands (1990) dir. by Tim Burton
Starring Johhny Depp.
Danny Elfman's original music score to this film is one of my absolute favorites. While watching it again for the first time in a long time, I remembered how well the music compliments the on-screen action and the story, characters, mood, etc. This is one film that would not be as good as it is without this Elfman score.

Millions (2004) dir. by Danny Boyle

The Polar Express (2004) dir. by Robert Zemekis
This is the movie that Hannah and I watched on our Friday Father-Daughter night. She got a little nervous during a couple of the perilous scenes, but as it turns out, she ended up watching it again the very next night with the babysitter.

I missed this in theaters when it released about this time last year. I got the DVD blind, hoping that I would enjoy it and I did. At least, it was better than other recent attempts at turning a short children's book into a feature-length film. I can definitely see this becoming part of the group of "modern classics" in the Christmas Holiday film vaults.

Do yourself a favor and read my friend, Ward's post about this film. He approaches it from the perspective of an artist/animator. Be sure to follow the link about the uncanny valley - fascinating stuff. Also, be sure to read his second post, where he shows how simple changes to the film's characters can make drastic changes it their apparent attitudes and emotions.

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