Thursday, May 29, 2008

Hey, Dave! What's new with "The Hobbit" film project? [w/ morning update]

Well, I'm glad you asked.

(Not an official promo image)

  1. It was never going to be made! New Line and Peter Jackson were at each other's throats over money.
  2. Well, okay then. But New Line can't ignore the goldmine of potential money. If Jackson wont' be directing, then we should consider other options.
  3. Okay, for real. PJ won't be directing, but don't worry! We'll give you two films. One for "The Hobbit" and another created out of thin air! (Um, why? Oh, yeah! $$$!)
  4. Guillermo del Toro is the director!
  5. But, it seems like he's not much of a fan . . . like, at ALL! Um, yikes?
  6. And, really . . . a 2nd film? What is THAT going to be about?
  7. Let's start talking to actors. (But good luck getting Viggo Mortensen back--dude has moved on. And do you really think Ian Holm has a spot? Not for Bilbo certainly . . but maybe the Gaffer?
Let more debates and further recriminations begin! And, if you really NEED help to get things going, I've done a bit of writing on the subject. I'll get started on the screenplay.
UPDATE: So, if Ian Holm is too old to play Bilbo, what about HP star Daniel Radcliffe? (Whaaa?) or (even crazier) Jack Black? Um, yeeaah. No.
Well, okay then. Maybe "Scotty" from the new J.J. Abram's Star Trek movie? (Clearly, James McAvoy isn't too worried about being typecast as a hugemongous geek.)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

R.I.P. Sidney Pollack

Famous director and actor Sidney Pollack died earlier this week.

I was prepared to accept the coroner's verdict and chalk his surprisingly sudden death up to cancer. But then I listened to Tuesday's "Fresh Air" podcast, where Terri Gross says that she was caught by surprise when his death was announced. She said that she'd just seen Pollack listed as an ex. producer on HBO's "Recount" movie that was broadcast over the weekend.

Gross is talking to famous people all the time. Surely she would be more aware? Hmmm.

Well, Gross then noted in her brief review of Pollack's career, that he was the director of "The Firm." Uh oh . . . Tom Cruise connection.

Well, you know where this is going.

Yet another example of Mr. Cruise eliminating someone more famous/more successful than him. Pollack won an Oscar for "Out of Africa" and was nominated for his work in "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" and "Tootsie." And though "The Firm" was a hit, it didn't win any Academy Awards. Heck, it benefited John Grisham more than Cruise. (Watch your back, Grisham . . .)

So, the end result was sad, if predictable.

The afterlife will be enjoying some quality movies now, I can guess. While we are down here trying to digest "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull."


Monday, May 26, 2008

soccer season

I'm a bit self conscious about writing this post because it is yet another one about my kids.

Last week I listened to one of my weekly podcasts that happened to featured Chuck Klosterman--a favorite author of mine. He was asking the podcaster--who happens to be Bill Simmons, a writer on how having children had changed (or not changed) his writing. Specifically, did he find himself compelled to write more about his kids or did he consciously avoid the topic? Simmons pointed out that he avoids the topic as much as he can, because his following came before the kids and he doesn't want to drive them away with stuff they don't want to read. I took this comment to heart--not because I have any sort of following, but I am aware that most of my readers don't have kids. Though they know me and my kids, they might be more interested in other stuff. (Assuming that anyone is truly interested in what I've got to say about anything.) Adding to that, I read a different article on that discussed how famous athletes aren't accessible. The author noted that while some of them also contributed to blogs, said blogs were, he claimed uninteresting and further described them as masturbatory.

Certainly, I don't want to stray into a blogging universe that is best described as masturbatory--especially when you're sporting a blog name like mine. (Though I guess I can guarantee that my hit count will go up.)

But, enough worrying, I guess. I'll have to just keep the concerns up front as I go forward. (And I'll admit that the next few posts I've got in draft, do indeed concern kids more. Sorry . . .)

Oh, and btw, if you want to see something that is much more "masturbatory"--but isn't in fact . . . well, you know . . . click on this. TRUST ME!


Sarah finished up her soccer season last Monday evening. Going into the match, her team was 0 - 9. Her team had scored a grand total of three goals all season long. The typical score of a typical game was 4 - zip (with Sarah's Blue Dolphins recording the zip.)

But, the girls on the team didn't seem downcast. They played hard--as hard as 7- and 8-year-olds who are learning the sport can play. And they got a drink and a snack after each game, win or lose.

Parents at their kid's sporting events can sometimes be trying. But the Blue Dolphin parents were an easy going lot. We didn't scream at our kids or someone else. We might have grumbled now and then that the other team always seemed more prepared, more skilled, and somehow bigger. But we remembered that Coach Pete wasn't emphasizing wins. He just wanted them to have fun. And I could agree with that. Heck, getting Sarah out in a team setting, in the fresh air, running around for 45 minutes to an hour. That's golden.

And so, we entered the final game of the season, which was in fact one of the two makeup games we had for previous rain outs. Things seemed promising in the first half. The Dolphins were playing hard, running after the ball, and seeming aggressive on the offensive side in ways that they had not been previously. Were they aware that this was their final chance to score, to win? Who knows? I didn't say such things to Sarah, but I can't claim to know what other parents did. Yet, it did seem that the team as a whole was on the ball and was succeeding over the other team of girls in ways we hadn't seen before. And sure enough, before long we achieved that elusive goal that put us ahead.

Late in the first half there was an actual penalty called--even at this age level?--where a handball was called on the other team inside the goal box (or whatever it's called). This resulted in a one-on-one penalty kick. Sarah's teammate successfully got the ball past the opposing goalie. The Blue Dolphins were ahead! With one half to go!

During halftime I found out from another parent sitting next to me that the opposing team (which her daughter was on) also had not won a game this season. Even more promising (for the Dolphins) this team hadn't even managed a goal all season long and were also seeking the first win. If ever there was a team we could beat--avoiding the ignoble disgrace of a winless season, this was that team.

The other Blue Dolphin parents could also sense impending victory. They, who had largely been passive and accepting during the season, now became a collective group of coaches on the opposite side of the pitch from the actual coach. We cheered on our kids (as we had always done), exhorting them to even greater efforts, willing them to win. But, no! The Dolphins (unconditioned as they were to a lead and the pressures of winning, plus beaten down by a grueling 10 game, once/twice-a week schedule, were flagging in the second half. The hapless team of red-shirted opponents began to get their own act together, sensing that their doom was drawing nigh.

And then it happened. The Reds slipped a goal past our second half goalie and verily did they rejoice! Now the Dolphins felt the pressure back on their shoulders. Would they allow these guys to grab a late goal, snatching the victory away? It seemed at times that this was going to happen. The Reds--likely invoking their Warsaw Pact offensive scheme, kept the ball in our zone time and time again, putting the pressure on our defense. Containment was threatening to be breached. The Dolphin parental contingent was foaming at the mouth the prevent the go ahead score.

Thankfully, the whistle blew, ending the game. Detente was achieved and we could all go home, maybe not as winners, but as valiant compatriots, united in preventing the mutually-assured destruction of a winless season.

It is better that way.

Besides, everyone gets a trophy. And Sarah still had the best number of anyone out there--week in or week out.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Star Wars: Return of the Surly

(Coincidentally, as I've been pecking away at this post for the past few days, I discover that tomorrow is somehow called Universal Day of the Jedi. Who knows what that means?)

This past Tuesday afternoon was not a good time for me. I took the afternoon off to get Hannah checked out by the doctor. She had been fighting a cold and a lot of congestion for over a week. So, I took her and found out (surprise, surprise) that she was developing an ear infection. So, I picked up an antibiotic on the way home from the doctor.

When I tried to give the antibiotic to Hannah, however, she refused to keep it down and spit it all back up on her bib and her shirt.

I was not happy. And I would grow less happy as the afternoon wore on.

Sarah didn't help by coming in the door and immediately wanting to plop down in front of the TV to watch a movie--a movie, you see? We try, TRY to confine our long-form movie watching to Friday night. I won't pretend that we don't let them watch TV when they get home from school, but Sarah was unfortunately being compared in my mind with our neighbor's daughter--who I also picked up at school--who doesn't watch as much TV and would rather have been outside playing in the backyard. Yeah, playing in the backyard, on the swingset that I spent weeks constructing. (Grace, God bless her, was willing to go outside and play.)

So, Hannah is sick and spitting up her formula. Sarah is wasting a beautiful spring afternoon by wanting to watch a movie. But WHAT movie is it? Well, that is another part of the problem. She wanted to watch some (not all, thank goodness) of Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones.

Yes, we've let them watch the Star Wars movies. And yes, there are moments when I wish that I'd not made that decision. You see, Sarah and Grace don't fully appreciate how badly George Lucas screwed up his seminal space franchise since 1999. People like me, who grew up piloting an imaginary Millennium Falcon in my backyard--as well as feeling the slightest bit of sympathy for Star Wars Kid--well, we were deeply injured when Lucas saw fit to rewrite scenes, insert bad actors into completed movies, and then inflict terrible acting, horrible dialogue, and digital monstrosities upon the universe we'd defined some part of ourselves around. So, okay. Sarah's film criticism skills aren't very honed yet. But there is another element to my frustration with the growing Star Wars fixation.

Yep, I fear that as Star Wars ascends, Harry Potter diminishes, and with it, a part of her childhood that was close to me is going away. That is a bit premature, I suppose, and in my less surly moments I don't worry about it too much, but still . . . was that part of the anger there, along with the automatic TV watching?

And then, when I cave and let her watch, what does she do? She doesn't even WATCH some of the parts she chose because she was scared of them. Well, then why even? . . . oh never mind!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


It's been a while since I posted artwork from the girls.

So, here are some images that they have provided lately (and my interpretations about what this says about them).

Sarah's recent artwork shows a controlled use of color and a strong emphasis on shape and thematic unity. There is also a strong sense of careful work involved. These characteristics are appropriate for a first child, who is often someone who is careful, governed by rules, and conscientious of outside expectations.

Grace's collection of artwork also shows a strong sense of color. There are more pieces of art, but other than the bold color palate shown throughout, there is not a strongly unified theme that goes across all the pieces. Some pieces are bold slashes of color, some are circular, and some are free form objects of no discernable shape. This seems appropriate for a child that is confident, dynamic, and ever changeable. Freed of the crushing expectations of the first child, Grace is free to explore many different paths to happiness.

Hannah, of course, can't provide any artwork for analysis. (She can't even hold a crayon . . . and if she could, she just as likely attempt to eat it as draw with it.) But it wouldn't be fair to leave her out. So, here is her contribution.

See, I'm not the only one who thinks so . . .

(Click on picture to get the evidence.)
To learn more about Jonathon Coulton, visit here.
Thanks to Shirtless for alerting me. If Mr. Cruise ever sues, I'll make sure that Shirtless goes down in flames with me.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Dissonant cognizance

I was driving from work this afternoon, picking the kids up early (since Sarah's elementary school had an early release).

I was listening to the radio--the NPR/eclectic music station here in the Greater Columbus area (WCBE--listen on the website)--when I heard music that I can only describe as French accordion. What is that exactly? Well, I don't know if you can visualize it, so I poked around on the local website and found the playlist for today's show about the same time that I was driving. Then I searched for a website that could give you a listen. After some trial and error, I found the correct artist, but not the correct song. In any case, you can listen to one of the songs listed at this page to get the flavor of what I'm talking about. (Ain't the Internet grand?)

So, do you have it? That tango-flavored accordion? Put it firmly in your head and then ask yourself? Where, oh where, have you heard music like that? That's immediately what I thought as the music was coming out of my car speakers. I instantly knew that it was related to a movie, but which one? I kept listening but tried to scroll through the movie music memories in my head while holding onto the music playing in the car. What could it be? I finally settled on Fight Club (possible SPOILER ALERT if you haven't seen the movie), but as soon as I said it, I knew it wasn't right. It was the best option I'd come up with yet, but it wasn't right. So, I kept trying to figure it out.

Finally, I got it. Do you have it? I'll just link to the answer, in case you don't want to have the answer revealed. And this link presents the snippet of music from the movie that got the entire thought sequence started. (Also, some interesting parallels between Fight Club and the real answer are discussed in the comments.)

ANYWAY, while all of this was going on in my head, I was still driving. Once I got that particular musical problem solved, I noticed something else. As I drove past a subdivision entrance, I saw a groundskeeper pushing a wheelbarrow. I could only see his back, but he was wearing a gray t-shirt with this logo on the back. My immediate thought was, "Hey, that guy must have been in the Army." My next thought was, "that Army logo sure looks a lot like the adidas logo." (Interestingly enough--to me anyway--adidas is one corporation that doesn't use the Helvetica font in its brand logo.)

So, that's the kind of stuff that I was thinking about on my drive to pick up the kids today (and if you think all of that was a confusing set of thoughts, then you should read this).


Yeah, it's an old joke, about something I am not pursuing anymore.

But much like Jennifer Garner as well as Point Break and Road House, if I didn't bring it to your attention, someone would wonder why I neglected to beat a dead horse.

(Thanks to The Presurfer for the original post.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Luck--not always a lady

When you have kids, you end up never having all the pieces of your games and playing cards in the right place at the right time.

I grew up playing games with my family, so having several decks of cards and many different kinds of board games is not unusual. And, when it was just Lynda and myself, everything was fine. Sure, we had no one to actually play cards or board games with, but we were confident that we could locate all the necessary pieces, dice, face cards, dominos, instruction booklets, and timers any old time we wanted--especially when we had the chance to drug a friend, kidnap them to our domicile, and force them to play with us.

Now, with kids, we no longer look at our game-playing opportunities with confidence. There have been too many opportunities for cards to go missing--either because they played but didn't put away or because they were creating some sort of Frankenstein monster card deck that only they understood, or really, who can guess the mind of the child?

So, anyway, tonight I waded into the card drawers in our bookshelves, to assess the extent of the damage. I found about three old decks that were short 3 to 5 cards each, so out they go with the trash. I also found an old UNO deck that I suspect is missing about twenty or so cards, but I didn't throw them away--either because I'm not sure how many cards are actually found in an UNO deck (my mind keeps telling me 108, but I haven't verified that yet) or because I believe that you can probably play UNO with less than a full deck.

I also reunited HIT THE DECK and SKIP-BO cards that had strayed from their box mates, hopefully ensuring that they can live to be played another day. Additionally, I found some SLEEPING QUEENS cards and some CANDYLAND cards that had snuck away in some past night.

On the good side of things, I did ensure that four decks of cards were intact and still playable. I didn't put them under lock and key. Only time will tell if leaving them open to childhood attack is a poor decision.

(In case you're wondering, the pictures are patterns created after various games of family dominos. I've been collecting them--for no reason at all--for the last month and a half and they seemed a natural illustration style to go with the content of this post.)

Early morning

I've been meaning to post on various topics for the last several days. I really thought I was going to get to it last night, but lack of inertia and other tasks got in the way of my intentions.

But now, I'm up at 3 am, trying to decipher what bizarre movie is on USA Network while Hannah dozes in her swing.

She's been congested for the last several days and it was a combination of a stuffy nose and some hunger that awoke Lynda and I. Lynda is battling her own congestion, since she's been off her allergy medicine for the last several days--in preparation for this morning's appointment with an allergy doctor. Hopefully, she can get expert resolution of her condition and will feel better after today.


Last night after dinner I took Sarah and Grace bike riding at the middle school next to our street. We were able to get on their track, which provided a continuous, flat surface for both girls to refine their cycling technique. Sarah is moving along very adeptly now. She can get the bike moving on her own and was using the lane marks in the track to help her correct the wobbling from side to side. She can pedal all the way around the track with no help from me at all. Grace is also doing quite well. She still uses her training wheels (which she now informs me is no longer satisfactory . . . but that's tomorrow's challenge), but she pedals furiously along and shows a lot of confidence.

Naturally, they didn't spend all of our time outside on the bikes, not when there was a sand pit sitting beside the long jump track. So, while they build sand castles, I observed a group of boys and their coaches practicing soccer next to the track. These boys might have been the middle school team, but they didn't seem much older than Sarah, who is only in second grade.

What was intriguing was the way the head coach was continuously berating several of the kids during the practice, but none more so than one unfortunate boy I'll call Jared.

It was clear (t0 the coach?) that Jared didn't have his head or heart in the game because on every drill, every repetition, every movement, the coach had a criticism.

Jared, come on!
Jared, move up on the ball!
Come on, Jared! No one's on you . . . attack!
Run, Jared!
Hussle, Jared!
Make the pass, Jared! He's right there waiting, Jared!
Are you okay, Jared?!
Come on, Jared!
Are you tired, Jared!

It became so oppressive a wave of criticism that I thought either a) Jared was the coach's son--which earned him a special brand of personal criticism or b) Jared secretly has the most potential on the team and the coach is determined to bring it out.

But most likely it was c) the coach simply doesn't like Jared's effort. Perhaps on a different day the coach belittles someone else, but if I was a parent standing there while the coach found endless amounts of things wrong with my kid, it would bother me greatly. I especially liked the fact that the coach got upset when Jared didn't make the proper cross-field pass to a waiting teammate. This after several minutes of abuse on every other thing he couldn't do correctly. It's no wonder that Jared was so busy focusing on his footwork, his breathing, his speed, his effort that he didn't spare a moment to look past himself.

I am sure that all of my reactions to this reveal me to be a softie, unwilling to expose my children to constructive criticism, unwilling to sublimate them to the concept of team, afraid for my girls fragile psyches. And maybe I'm not totally ready to see them treated that way. But some of this did seem a bit over the top.

Other posts on other topics coming soon. I promise.

Monday, May 05, 2008


Sometimes you can succeed by simplifying, by cutting through the preconceptions, by taking a leap of faith.

And if you do that you can find something new, something interesting.

For instance, what would you find if you took a classic movie and removed the motivating factor?

Well, you would get this oddly weird version of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. (You can learn more about this project and see some more edited videos here.)

Or you could view this oddly mysterious view of the lonely life led by Jon Arbuckle. You know him. He's the owner and comic butt of jokes in the Garfield comic strip. But, let's take the titular cat out of the picture and you get a bizarre--and MUCH better--comic about loneliness and insanity. (This site has gotten lots of press, which you can review here.)

Or, you could throw caution to the wind and give your child a push. That's what Lynda did on Saturday while helping Sarah practice her bike riding. And lo and behold . . . she stayed upright! She even started pedaling and almost executed a turn. She hasn't challenged herself with biking up a hill (and we are staying away from uneven grounds so far), but there is no doubt that she faced the challenge, faced the fear, and came through.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Is the LOST Island . . . in Canada?

You are aware, I'm sure, that the 2008 Olympics are being held in Beijing later this summer.

But are you aware that there are strong indications that the mysterious Island of LOST has been shown to be located near Canada? Apparently, it's true. And here we all thought that the Island was somewhere in the Pacific. The odd triangulation of Beijing 2008, Canada, and LOST can be found in the design of the Canadian Olympic teams oddly familiar togs.

Canada has gained notoriety in recent Olympic years by having some of the most stylish team uniform designs of any participating nation. I remember some other years fondly--gotta love the blending of red and white (and I do like the graphic possibilities that the Maple Leaf provides.

The apparel company that has often supplied the Canadian teams of the past is Roots, and the company was so successful that the U.S. Olympic team has employed their design services in the past, but not (apparently) this year.

But Canada has decided to employ the design styles of Hbc this year. Not everyone is happy. Anyway, you've got to admit that the Canadian design has weird similarities to the LOST DHARMA logos.

(Thanks to DocArzt's Lost blog for the initial information.)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Having a baby is expensive . . .

. . . but this might be ridiculous!

And we're not even spending it on Hannah, because she's got clothes and toys to spare. That's a benefit of having two older sisters.

Nope, it's all going into the house.

We've removed paneling from the fireplace room, replaced it with drywall that we painted. We installed spot lights above the bookcase/fireplace area to improve overall lighting. We've painted the bookcases and mantel to match new color scheme. We're adjusting the look of the sofas to class them up a bit and bought new throw pillows. We've bought new picture frames to improve overall design of the room. We replaced the door and door jamb leading out onto the backyard deck.

But it doesn't stop there.

We've also repaired a bit of soffett out back and are getting all of the soffets repainted. Also, we are going to remove the old deck and replace it with a concrete patio. (These jobs are to come--beginning next week.)

But we're STILL not done.

This afternoon we are getting some deadwood removed from trees in the backyard, to avoid stuff falling on the roof and to generally improve things. AND we are getting the big (pretty well dead) tree right in front of the house removed altogether. Hopefully, that'll get started any minute now and will be done before I've got to take Sarah to her soccer game tonight.

And STILL we continue . . .

. . . because the city informs us that we need to repair/replace several slaps of sidewalk concrete in front of the house (and I can't disagree). And in the process, we are removing/replacing the tree on the curb that has contributed to the damage.

So, I guess our personal carbon footprint (Sorry, Sven!) will increase as we remove more CO2 eating trees. Though, what we're removing is almost all dead, after all.

But we are contributing to the economy!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

DO believe the hype!

Two of the most over promoted people in the world joined forces yesterday--Oprah and the "illusionist" David Blaine.

Though I didn't watch it live, you can read about it on Oprah's website. He was attempting to set the world record for holding his breath, I think. I can't concentrate past the weird blue water sphere that he performed in and the totally awesome logo that he sports on his jumpsuit.

I've never been a db fan, but at least when he presented himself as a quirky street performer, I found him interesting. Lately he's come off as an attention seeker that wants to damage his body each and every time he appears in public. And I just can't get past the notion that it's all fake. Everyone KNOWS that magicians are anything but magical--they just make you THINK they are doing something while they do another think right under you nose. Why should this be any different?

But what truly perplexes me here is that Oprah, who is usually so interested in changing the world one person at a time, has this on her show. What's her angle here?

Wait . . .

. . . you don't think?

Oh my gosh, Oprah KNOWS that global warming is coming and she and Blaine are trying to warn people about rising ocean tides! They are trying to save the human race by circumventing the evolutionary process and encourage increased lung capacity!

David Blaine is the first icythus sapiens!