Friday, December 26, 2008

Post Christmas Exhaustion

Justin is providing me with one of those evenings when I’m forced to get up and drag him back to his bed at least a half dozen times before he gives in. I had twenty-five pages to read in Old Man’s War and it took me an hour with him interrupting every five minutes. Doesn’t he know that my reading time is sacred? Apparently not! Now that I’ve finished my book it seems that he may be staying in bed for the night. One can only hope. Old Man’s War was what I expected. It was a standard sci-fi battle yarn that is fun while immersed in it. I was hoping for something above “standard.” There was a lack of character development, so that when minor characters started to drop off I had a hard time remembering their significance within the story. The premise is interesting and found myself compelled to keep reading the three-hundred plus pages, but I hope Scalzi’s writing improves over time. It was fun lightweight fare to read over the holiday.

Christmas was a blast. Justin truly enjoyed himself. Last year we were helping him unwrap his gifts, but this year he was an instant master. He only tore into one gift before Christmas day. His self-restraint was admirable. Now he is a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of toys. I have separated out a few that require time and assembly. If they are out of his sight he will not be chanting “Open! Open!” He has many puzzles (since that is his pastime of choice lately) and a Colorform funny face game that he cannot seem to leave alone.

I received a plethora of Criterion DVDs for Christmas. Jen was more than generous. I also received a new denim shirt that I can begin to wear well and wear often until it barely exists. Jen received a new digital camera with the hopes of reigniting her photography hobby. Unfortunately, Jen started her work week on the evening of Christmas and her last shift ends Sunday morning. It feels like our holiday was cut a little short, with Jen being at work. But our work weeks have never seemed to mesh with the schedules of most working folks we know.

The climate has warmed significantly and the snow is melting away. We still had some flurries this morning, but rain seems to be the dominant precipitation at the moment. Justin has an urge to make “snow angels” tomorrow, but he may end up making “mud angels” instead.

Now — if Justin will just settle down for the night — I can enjoy a few hours of television, while I begin the process of whittling down my choices for the next book that I will read.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve is Looming Large

Christmas Eve is looming large. I keep intending to sit at my desk and write a blog entry. I even have a few passages started, but then life happens and I’m taken away to other more important tasks. As I stated at the beginning: Tonight is Christmas Eve. When Jen and I became a couple we had to work out the exchange of Christmas gifts. I grew up with the tradition of opening gifts on Christmas day. In Jen’s family they opened their gifts on Christmas Eve. Our compromise was to exchange stockings on the eve and leave the remainder of the gifts for the actual holiday. This year our two-year-old son is quite excited about the whole process. We had been reluctant to leave any wrapped gifts beneath the tree, but he has shown some amazing self-restraint for a two-year-old. The tree and its ornaments remain the big glittering attraction in his eyes. He can no longer get behind the tree to do his communing. There are a plethora of gifts in his way. It’s difficult not to go overboard when we have a two-year-old son. The plus side was that we could look at the pile of gifts before we wrapped them and pull a few out to save for his third birthday, which is a only a month away.

So, we’ll be exchanging stockings tonight. It occurred to me that we were taking one of Santa’s magical tasks away from him: the duty to leave stockings stuffed with toys for young children. We were instead using our stockings as a teaser for what was to come on Christmas day. Justin has enough toys in his stocking alone to keep him busy for six months. I’m looking forward to see his reaction upon seeing Totoro’s head peaking from the top of his Christmas stocking.

We awoke to more snow this morning, and it was still coming down quite heavily. I called my doctor’s office to reschedule my appointment for next week. It didn’t make sense to stress myself with the drive to the medical center to recheck the effect of my high blood pressure medicine. A little counterproductive. So I’ll be seeing my doctor on the morning of New Year’s Eve instead of Christmas Eve. My wife’s response was, “at least you’ll be seeing her before the end of the year, instead of taking it of next years deductible.”

I have a few more items for Jennifer that need to be wrapped. I too many stocking stuffers, so some will become wrapped gifts, giving them an extra air of importance when the reality is that they are just “stocking stuffers.”

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday Morning Music

We got a couple of inches of snow in our Seattle neighborhood last night. I just finished serving Justin his breakfast (oatmeal, yogurt & fresh fruit) and now I need to take a shower, so that we can go out and play in the snow. But first some morning music from the Split Enz.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Wrestler

I always think of late fall and early winter as the time of year when some of the best films are released into theaters. For the most part the timing is to help these films get recognized by the award fests that are just around the corner. The studios want their films to be fresh in the minds of the Academy voters. Films released in the spring are usually forgotten about by now. This year it seems like there has been a dearth of good films out there. At least films worthy enough for the current ticket prices. I've been wanting to see "Happy-Go-Lucky (dir: Mike Leigh)," Synecdoche, New York" (Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut), and "Slumdog Millionaire" (the latest from Danny Boyle) and I still hope to catch those films before they disappear from the big screens. But on December 17th Darron Aronofsky's latest film will be released. I'm a huge fan of both "Pi" and "Requiem for a Dream," but I thought "The Fountain" was a beautiful failure. Now with "The Wrestler" it seems that Aronosky has resurrected the career of Mickey Rourke and has crafted a powerful drama set in the world of professional wrestling. This is a film that I will go out of my way to see.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My Brain Hurts!

I've been thinking about blogging lately, but unfortunately those thoughts haven't actually caused me to sit down and set my fingers to typing. I've been wanting to write about my inner angst without actually revealing my inner angst, and that's a difficult task. The election is over, which has freed me up to do a lot more reading and to watch some movies and documentaries that I have been meaning to get to. But at the same time I find that I get up in the morning with the urge to check the latest political news and it's just not as vital anymore. That and the fact that the last days of Herr Bush are scary to examine. He's continuing his policies and "rape & pillage" right up until 11:59 a.m. on January 20th. And he is doing all this with the intention of making things difficult for Barack Obama to reverse.

After reading a three books in a row on philosophy and the mind, I have promised myself a fiction break through the holidays. First was Girl Factory by Jim Krusoe and a few days ago I finished The Spinning Man by George Harrar. Both of those books were excellent and kept me from watching much television. Now I am reading Firmin by Sam Savage, which is about a rat that lives under a bookshop in Boston and, after being forced to diet on pages from Moby Dick, or possibly Finnegans Wake, Firmin realizes that he is able to read. I'm only about 40 pages in, but the language is wonderful and Firmin's tale is filled with many literary references.

Today we took Justin to the Northgate mall with ideas of having his picture taken with Santa. This year would be the first year we have done that particular social ritual. I had an inkling that Justin would need to warm up to the idea and probably wouldn't accede initially. I was right. It's not that Santa didn't try. He tried persuading him with a candy cane, which Justin accepted...through the fencing that surrounded the jolly fat man. And then Santa showed him a Clifford book, but Justin was adamant that he was not ready to sit on the lap of a strange bearded man. I can't say that I can blame him. We decided to skip it and try again on another day. We then had lunch in the food court, which was plastered with about a dozen flat screen TV's broadcasting a steady stream of commercials. I nearly lost my appetite. Then it was down to Toys 'R' Us to allow Justin to overcome his fear of the Barney ride at the front of the store. He attempted the ride about a week ago, but was scared and wanted off. Since that time he hasn't stopped talking about it, so we gave him a chance to try again. That wasn't happening today either. He was kind of in a borderline meltdown mood all day today. He is getting excited about Christmas though, and all the paraphernalia that surrounds the winter holiday.

So I started my entry with the intention of giving a short excuse about my lack of blogging. Once I start writing though, I tend to go on and on. So I'll stop and leave you with a video explaining my mood of late.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Forgive Me Father . . .

Forgive me father for I have sinned: It has been over a week since my last blog entry. Since that time the national holiday known as Thanksgiving has come and gone. I’m now starting to spot Christmas trees alight through neighborhood windows. Last night we attended the parent/teacher meeting of our childcare co-op and there was a “white elephant” gift exchange, along with a table laid out with holiday goodies to eat. Jen and I are both pretty much done with our Christmas shopping. I just have to buy stocking stuffers for my wife, which, for some reason, I always find a difficult task. Luckily she has provided me a list with suggestions.

I had a nice break in Edmonds last week. I visited three book stores in three days, but only one of those is actually in the city of Edmonds. I also bought some gifts for Justin at Teri’s Toy Box, which is a great independently owned store that puts a lot of thought into their inventory. I also dined out quite a bit while I was away. In fact by the last night I was tired of restaurant food, so I opted for a Payday bar for supper from the machine in the hotel. The weather was pretty nice for the most part, and allowed for some nice walks along the docks. I always find it romantic to watch the ferries passing each other in the night.

Today I finished reading Girl Factory by Jim Krusoe. I devoured this strange tale in two days. If the strange and unpredictable interests you as a reader then Jim Krusoe is the author for you. He had only written two novels and I’ve now read them both. For most of the afternoon I have been trying to pick a novel to read. I promised myself that I would read fiction through the holidays, since I have been reading a lot of cerebral stuff lately. I just hope this isn’t one of those occasions when it takes me days to decide on another book. That’s the problem with having over two thousand titles in my library: too many good books to choose from.