Friday, January 23, 2009
At last, almost a month after the sledding hill was christened, we were finally able to take advantage of the Evans' offer to try out the facility. Emma could not have been more happy. Taking nose dives off the now exposed edges seemed to thrill as much as a run down the center - which only happened once - and culminated in Emma hitting the embankment at the bottom with top speed - launching herself over the lip and landing gracefully, skids level. Emma enjoyed trying "the other hill" (also known as the gentle slope of Carrie's front lawn) with near equal pleasure.
When your little girl wants something so wholesome so badly, and you can't deliver, it breaks your heart. Finally making good on a promise to the greatest little girl in the world, that's about enough to make me get all misty. Thanks for giving me the chance to make a 5 year old happy Zack - I owe you one.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
It's the greatest WWII story that's never been told. However, as the list of great movie thrillers is compiled through the ages, Valkyrie likely won't be at the top of the list. There were things that bothered me about the film, things that kept it from being great. But in the absence of "great" we get "pretty darn awesome." The suspense is well built and comes to nail biting crossroads at several times in the film. True to the historical events on which the screenplay is written, the film bleeds sincerity.
It is this realistic look at the inner circle of the Fuhrer that makes the movie so devilishly delicious. An amazing performance by David Bamber reveals a neurotic and increasingly recluse Hitler. The "creep" factor of watching someone emulate the socialist leader so accurately is worth the watch alone. Costuming was exquisite as were the period vehicles. Filming on location also added to the mystique of watching someone try to assassinate Hitler and bring an early end to the war.
Sadly this magic is broken by the lack of dedication to some details. While I'm glad the producers & director elected not to try to elicit German accents from the entire cast, I was shaken to hear generals speak to each other in British accents. Sometimes Cruise's lack of accent was equally distracting, but the actor himself was not. As with many of this films, Tom Cruise did not so much add anything to the film as he did not spoil it. A solid performance where Cruise is Cruise (regardless of whether he is a samurai, as spy, or German soldier) actually anchored the film - due to the fact that he LOOKED so right in the role. Upon further investigation, he is a remarkable match to the real Lieutenant Stauffenburg as are almost everyone else in film who mirror a real person.
In the end, you may not fully understand socialism without first understanding Wagner, but no affinity for period films or war stories is needed to enjoy this suspenseful thriller with the amazing true-life story.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I'm not looking forward to any of the myriad of potentially life threatening conditions that may beset me, but it's likely that at least one will happen at some point. Take my brother for instance: Rob suffered an episode of extreme arrhythmia that required a trip to the hospital AND a three night stay at the ICU in the cardiac unit. Not fun - for Rob at least.
I'm almost ashamed to say it, but I did kinda have fun keeping the 'ol bro's spirits up. It may not have been as much fun if he were immobilized or visibly damaged but he was just so darn normal. No artificial breathing not even an I.V. for crying out loud. He was at high risk for a repeat episode of his original troubles so they kept him in the ICU while waiting for surgery. In the mean time, Rob (like anyone in his position) gets a little board, a little stir crazy, so I volunteer to visit and relive the monotony. XBOX to the rescue! We both agreed that bringing the games to the hospital would be the ideal time passer, so with permission, I return a few hours later with the 360.
Here's where things start to move in Doug's favor. We plug into the HD LCD TV in Rob's room and game away. I'm taking the next day off so I elect to stay late in an attempt to wear Rob out. Ends up that we game for about four hours straight and I get in another couple hours in after Rob wimps out (j/k the man was working on 3 hrs sleep out of 60) and catches some Z's. Rob's surgery the next day is postponed 24hrs and I, considering I still had the day off, return for another night of gaming.
Though I can't imagine being in Rob's position, I was amazed at what a great time I was having. Here were two brothers who seldom see each other forced into spending endless hours bonding over video games, favorite TV shows, food, cars, helicopters and any number of other topics. Add to that the good fortune of being kindly offered refills on my Diet Coke by the night shift nurse, and I ended up with two days of great times with my brother. It is, of course, a tragedy that my brother needed to suffer a near death experience and an invasive surgery all while scaring the living b'geezes out of everyone - but if clouds have silver linings, these were sterling indeed.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Everyone ought to have an (i)Dog. Especially if you can't have a real dog. As virtual pets go, they're the best. They listen to music with you, dance, bark and feel the mood of the music. Playing mopy music? iDog feels depressed. Rub his head and play with his nose and he perks up. Play with his tail and he gets mad. What does all this mean to me? I feel happy! Everyone should own an (i)Dog.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Mom got the best present of Christmas award with the gargantuan doll house. Dad got the best birthday present award with a real digital camera for Emma. If our camera comes out to take pictures, Emma inevitably wants to take some too. It was apparent that a camera for Em was a safe bet - and one that let's you take pictures with princesses too? Guaranteed winner. In the photo above Emma takes her newly opened present out for a spin while shopping at target. She set up her shot in front of customer service, told everyone to smile then turned the camera around to show everyone (20 feet away) how they looked.
Sunday, January 04, 2009
Emma is now 5. Where do 5 year old Emma's dream of celebrating their birthdays? At the pool of course! Apparently that too is where Emma's cousins dream of partying because we had a big "girls party" at the pool.
Emma was treated to many nifty presents - not one of them received less than elations of joy. Great joy continued as Emma swam about, riding the slide some dozen times with cousins. uncles and, more times than anyone else, Grandpa David. She left the pool so worn out she fell asleep waiting for her dinner. More pool parties are in order!