Saturday, March 24, 2012

Nerd Out Saturday

So, as I teased on Tumblr this morning, today was a nerd-filled day.

After lunch, Sarah (one of her friends) and I went to see the Hunger Games movie. It was an excellent adaptation of the books (which I enjoyed very much). It strayed very little from the story clearly presented in the novel . . . which is why I find it odd that I liked it so much, considering I find the movie version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone at fault for doing the same thing.

Still, the movie was well acted, well-shot, and didn't stray away from the grim reality of what the story is really all about. I've not seen Jennifer Lawrence in anything else, but I found her to be a very convincing Katniss. If I had to pick nits, I'd say Lawrence was too emotionally vulnerable in a few spots that Katniss would never have been while being viewed on screen (her character said as much in the book). But I know that, without the benefit of internal monologue, Lawrence went for a human moment.

Another change that was a bit surprising, but--again--understandable, was the portrayal of Woody Harrelson's Haymitch. This movie version of the former District 12 victor was not taken directly from the pages of Collin's first novel. Harrelson's Haymitch was more forthright, more willing to help, and far less of a besotted stumblebum.

I won't go into details on other stuff that were all smart cinematic adjustments to make a movie more approachable. It was well done and definitely tense when it needed to be tense. I feel certain that a sequel (based on Catching Fire) will be green-lit. But I am, at least for now, less excited about them. The Hunger Games has always been my favorite of the three books.

After we got back from seeing the movie, I knew I had to set some time aside to be with Grace. She had been disappointed that I would not let her go see the movie. (She hasn't read the books yet and is a bit young still to be dealing with the violence of the movie imagery.)

As luck would have it though, we had another nerd-tastic option available to us. So, we sat down and watched the online premiere of Nickelodeon's new Avatar: The Last Airbender sequel--The Legend of Korra. Even though the TV show doesn't premiere until mid April, I knew that the first two episodes were being unlocked this weekend. So I held that in reserve to ensure a special time for Grace and myself.

I've found that I need to balance my time with the girls and make sure they are both given special attention from time to time. And especially I should not single one out above the other. So, it was good for me to have these two distinct options that I could turn to for them . . . and for me.

As I've said before, they are only going to grow older and progressively away from me--as they rightly should. But . . . for now, the odds are ever in my favor.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Thoughts on Various Topics

Credit: Charles Schulz

"You're a good writer."

(This one is based off of a thought I had a few nights ago just before drifting off to sleep. And then I discussed with BS at work on Friday.)

So, the quoted statement up there sounds good, right? People have said that to me before and I don't want the following to be dismissive of their encouragement or to belittle their opinion. I guess the thought I had was just something of a reality check for myself.

So, when someone says that "You're a good writer." what exactly are they intending? Let's try and examine it for a minute.

I suppose that most people mean, you put words together well. You are clear in what you say. I enjoy reading the things you write. And all of that is great and makes me feel good. But are they suggesting that I am a potentially good novelist or author? I think colloquially, when people says that someone is a good writer, they are intending to say that "You could be a good author." Or maybe they just mean, "You're a better writer than me."

But when people have said that to me in the past, I took their meaning to be "You are a good author. I think you could write stories that people would be interested in reading." And so I have been (justifiably) encouraged and thought about such fantasies myself. But then I considered it a bit more and realized that what I write and what I have written in the past are not my own creations, but rather just descriptions of events. In my writing training as a historian, in my job as a textbook editor, and in my practice as a blogger, I regurgitate and explain, and recast things that were already done. I don't ever take the very important extra step and construct something that didn't already exist.

And that is such an important difference.

Getting Older--It's Happening!

I am getting older and it makes me wonder if I just need to accept it and move on. I have friends who are younger than me. And of course, I know lots of younger kids who are my children's age, or kids at church. And while I feel that I can talk to them on something close to their level of worldview and cultural knowledge, I begin to wonder if I am beginning to reach a point of no return.

Inevitably, the culture is going to slowly shift away from me. Has it already started and I am just not realizing it. Am I embarrassing myself by trying to do and know things that are best left to younger people?

In the past few years, I have learned more about the following things:
Harry Potter Wizard Rock
Nickelodeon's Avatar: The Last Airbender and (its upcoming sequel) Legend of Korra
Different kinds of music such as Owl City.
Various channels on YouTube . . . and really, just YouTube itself.

Now, all of these things are things that I do genuinely enjoy. I am not intentionally seek out the youth culture to make myself seem hip. And, as a valuable added bonus, knowing about these things does help me stay connected with my kids

I guess, what I'm thinking here is that I hope I'll know when to step away and let things go on past me. But I don't want to take myself so seriously.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Vote Yes . . . at your own risk?

Tomorrow, on Super Tuesday, Ohioians participate in their primary. Lots of Republicans will be choosing between Gingrich, Paul, Romney, Santorum, or Other. Democrats will choose Obama. And there are many local politician positions to weigh in on as well.

But I am most interested in the outcome of local Issue 10 in Westerville, where I live and raise my family. Issue 10 is a levy issue that is trying to raise money to help address an existing budgetary shortfall in the Westerville City School budget.

The voters initially voted down a levy last November. Since then people-- dismayed at the dire consequences that massive budget cuts to the schools would do to the schools ability to effectively educate and enrich students--have passed a ballot initiative to place Issue 10 on this ballot.

This afternoon Lynda and the girls made signs and stood on the corner of Schrock and State Roads, encouraging Westervillians to vote yes on Issue 10 tomorrow. (A yes vote is a vote in favor of an increase in property taxes to help address the budget shortfall.) I was at work or I would have been out there with them in the cold. They also shared the sidewalk with people opposed to Issue 10, those unwilling to raise property taxes. In at least two instances, one anti-10 activist showed general rudeness and n unfortunate narrow-mindlessness.

1. It was cold, as I've said, and Lynda was struggling to keep her extremities warm.(We've recently learned that she struggled with a circulatory condition that makes her fingertips and toes go painfully numb if she is out in the cold for a surprisingly short amount of time.) So, she was hopping up and down to try and stay warm. One gentleman on the other side of the Issue apparently made some derisive comment wondering why she was doing that, speculating that she was "dancing around like she had a corncob stuck up her a__." And this was in front of our kids and other local kids as well!


2. There WERE some high school kids there, and a few other kids there with their parents. They were holding signs, trying to protect their school's art classes, their music programs, their gifted education, their after-school sports teams, and the jobs of school support staff and administration support.

Given that, I was so surprised when Lynda told me that an Anti-10 protester wondered aloud "Why we're all these kids out here?"

Was he so narrowly focused on keeping his money that he didn't realize that if this Issue is voted down, kids lives WILL be negatively affected? I fear that is the case.

Lynda and I have been firmly in the Vote YES camp ever since the day that the initial item was voted down last November. We are completely aware that our property taxes will go up if we are successful and we are absolutely and unquestionably okay with that outcome. And it is not just because OUR children are being affected one way or the other. We would vote this way even if we had no children. And I hope that as we age and as our children grow and move away, we will continue to vote for these issues. A healthy community is one that supports its kids and its kid's education.

I hope things go our way tomorrow.

Vote YES on Issue 10!

Saturday, March 03, 2012

I always forget . . .


Aww crap.

I just ate my first Samoa cookies of this Girl Scout cookie season and I am utterly lost once again.

How am I going to avoid eating ten of them at a time?

This stinks, you guys.