Thursday, January 29, 2009

No Movie No How

Well, our babysitter bailed on us last Wednesday night, so there was no dinner and a movie for my wife and I. At least not outside of our house.

Today was pretty banal. I did a couple of loads of laundry, and ran the dishwasher. Justin fell asleep for a nap around 2:30 pm, so after reading some of The Language Instinct (yes, I'm still reading that book) I also took a short nap. All afternoon and evening I've been sneezing and blowing my nose. It's almost as if I have an attack of hay fever, but I think it is still this lingering head cold. I did manage to give blood at the local Puget Sound Blood Center, and I even made an appointment to donate again in April. On April Fools' Day, as a matter of fact.

So . . . blah, blah, blah. I just had an unpleasant phone call; I cannot seem to stop sniffling; and I need to get to bed.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Wednesday is Movie Night

I think -- if the stars are in alignment and all is right with the world -- my wife and I will actually have an evening out this coming Wednesday. We are planning on the standard "dinner and a movie" theme. We are both anxious to see Slumdog Millionaire, but the independent film Wendy and Lucy just opened at the Varsity, and I'm hoping I can convince Jen to see that instead. The ad says "one week only," which is probably more of a publicity gimmick than reality, but just in case...


For the past week I've been battling a cold that was passed on to me by my two-year-old son. I'm about to load up on Dayquil® and venture out into this sunny Seattle day, only to duck into a matinee of Gran Torino, in a couple of hours. I was scheduled to see the film last Wednesday, but our babysitter was also stricken with a cold and fever, so all fun had been postponed until today.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Damn Copyright Fanatics

Jeez Louise! I had just posted the music video for Cake's version of the song "I Will Survive" and now it has been pulled due to "a copyright claim by WMG." That's a damn shame. I'll just have to post another version I found on youtube to restate my claim that yes,
I Will Survive

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I Will Survive

For some reason I've had the Police song "Born in the 50's" in my head all day. I finally decided to remedy the situation by loading the song into my computer and iPod. Just for the record: I was not born in the 50's, but in 1961. Some studies -- as far as labels go -- place me in the "baby boomer" generation, but I reject that label. If anything, I identify more with the "generation X" crowd.

Monday is Martin Luther King day, and Barack Obama has called for all citizens to put in a day of service. I guess this has been a tradition for quite a few years, but Obama is underlining his idea that people need to start giving back to their country. My wife is working that day, but I have a babysitter for Justin until 1:30 pm, so I decided that my service would be donating blood. It's something I've been wanting to do for a while, but the "call to service" finally got me to call my local Puget Sound Blood Center and make an appointment.

I'm still battling the blues these days, but not because of winter, or the fact that Barack Obama will be taking the presidential oath on Tuesday rather than John McCain. (In fact, I was getting teary-eyed today watching the Obama/Biden train make its way into Washington, D.C. and history. Tears of joy!) But other more personal issues are doing their best to pull me into the abyss. As the great Gloria Gaynor once said, "I will survive." I take the fact that I'm giving blood this coming Monday as a sign of my well-being. I've also made a few new friends recently, and that has always seemed like a monumental task in recent years. Even though I have issues that sometimes darken my emotional skies, I can still manage to see the sun breaking through.

And here is another kick-ass version of "I Will Survive" by one of my favorite bands, Cake.

Peace be with you brothers and sisters in the blogging world.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Goodbye Freddie Hubbard

There have been a lot of celebrity names gracing the obituary page of late, including Ricardo Montalbán, Andrew Wyeth, John Mortimer (creator of Rumpole of the Bailey), Patrick McGoohan (star of "The Prisoner"), Claude Berri (director of “Jean de Florette” and “Manon of the Springs”), actor Pat Hingle, mystery writer Donald E. Westlake, and singer/guitarist Delaney Bramlett. There were also a lot of regular folks whose lives expired recently, but I wanted to take note of one particular recent loss: jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. He died on December 29th, 2008. The cause was complications from a heart attack that he had suffered on Nov. 26th. His debut album, Open Sesame, is an amazing introduction to this artist, with the great Tina Brooks on tenor sax and McCoy Tyner on piano. Tina Brooks also wrote two of the compositions on the album. So long Freddie.

Here is Freddie Hubbard from an appearance on the Tonight Show, performing the song "Body and Soul," which appears on his album Here to Stay.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The "Miracle" of US Airways River Landing

As I watched Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow report on the crash landing of a US Airways flight in the Hudson River this afternoon, I got choked up. I believe that my emotional response stemmed from the fact that all 155 people on board the plane were safely rescued before the plane sunk beneath the frigid waters. The pilot, Chesley B. Sullenberger III, has been described as a hero and rightly so. He safely landed the plane on the river after encountering a flock of geese, which apparently took out both engines. He then ensured that all passengers had safely evacuated the aircraft -- within approximately 90 seconds -- before departing himself. It is an amazing and uplifting story due to the fact that a commercial aircraft crash landed and everyone escaped without any serious injury. Also inspiring was the sight of ferries and tour boats immediately flocking to aircraft to pull people off the wings and out of the water. What has bothered me is the frequent use of the word "miracle" to describe the outcome of this event. The word "miracle" infers that there was some type of divine intervention in the saving of these passengers, when the credit solely lies with the crew of the aircraft, especially the pilot, Chesley B. Sullenberger III. In hindsight he seemed the perfect pilot to deal with this type of catastrophic event. He flew F-4's for the US Air Force before joining what was then US Air. He is certified as a glider pilot and also served as an accident investigator for the union, the Air Line Pilots Association. This guy at least deserves a Christmas card annually from every passenger on that plane for the rest of their lives, but let us not believe that there was any benevolent super being looking down, saying "Oh, I think I'll allow this plane full of humans to make a safe landing on the water." Just as there is no god monitoring sports to ensure that certain teams win or lose. Let us thank and praise the skill of the pilots and crew, who train for years for just this type of rare unwanted event.

Photo: Gary Hershorn/Reuters

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Free Time

We have hired a babysitter to come in three days a week - 5 hour stints each of the three days. Theoretically I should now have a little more time off. Whether that extra time will translate into more blog entries is yet to be seen. Today, while Justin was out with Amy (his new BFF), I got some important things done like laundry, dishes and putting clean clothes away. I also had some time to read more about noun phrases and word roots, with a few jokes along the way (The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker.)

"There is no such thing as a free lunch." But what about free time? Time is filled by the events we sometimes choose to fill them with; and sometimes events are thrust upon us. The idea of choice leads us to the question of free will, and whether humans actually have it. I choose to spend a lot of my "free time" reading. Sometimes that reading is for sheer pleasure, and sometimes it is to gain knowledge. Often I'm lucky enough that I gain both pleasure and knowledge from the same book.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Monday Movie Madness

The title of this blog entry merely refers to the fact that I just spent some time compiling a list of all the Criterion releases in my DVD collection (871 movies at last count.) The list is at the bottom right of this blog. The Criterion discs in my collection grew substantially at Christmas when my wife gave me nine of them as gifts, all packaged in one glorious box. I got a few that I have been craving for a while, including Fishing with John, Carnival of Souls, and That Obscure Object of Desire. She also threw in a few surprises including Catherine Breillat's Fat Girl, and The Browning Version, starring Michael Redgrave.

I still haven't gotten out to an actual movie theater in about three months, but I have seen a few good films from Netflix recently including Stuart Gordon's Stuck, and Canvas, starring Joe Pantoliano.

* * * *

On another note: I realize that I've been quite lax with updating my blog since the election ended. I've been both busy and lazy. I know, I know...that's a contradiction in terms, but it seems to fit my lifestyle at the moment. I'm promising myself (and this is in no way a New Year's resolution) to be better about blogging from now on.

Incidentally, I'm on the lookout for a full-time job in the Seattle area; preferably something that pays between 20K and 50K a year, and is both challenging and utilizes my sense of creativity. Not too much to ask, while the country is leaning towards a Great Depression, right?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Staving Off Depression

I'm very excited that The Wrestler and Gran Torino are now both showing in Seattle, but today is not the day for me to see dark and somber films. Lunch at Jalisco's Mexican restaurant and an afternoon free to read The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker. That is a decent start to ward off the blues.

"Blues Stay Away From Me" -- The Delmore Brothers

Saturday, January 3, 2009

a few words before midnight

It is much too late at night to be posting, but here I am. My son Justin has been providing me with a test of wills at bedtime lately. Tonight, like last night, he was not asleep until ten o'clock. That really tends to shorten my own evening. When Justin is finally quiet for the evening it is often too late to start watching a full-length movie. I've been getting a good amount of reading done, but at the expense of most everything else that doesn't involve child rearing.

The snow that had arrived with such fanfare during the week of Christmas is now gone except for sporadic piles gray with exhaust and road dirt. Justin's snowman that had graced our front yard is now a lump of icy snow no bigger than an avocado.

I finished reading Citizen Vince by Jess Walter today. I hadn't expected it to be such a compulsive read. It reminded me of some of the best work by Elmore Leonard. Vince was once Marty, but he got a new identity under the Federal Witness Protection Program. With that new identity comes the right to vote, and the story takes place during the time of the presidential election in 1980: Reagan vs. Carter. The "right to vote" story thread runs throughout the novel and provides some inspiring moments from Vince Camden, our ex-con trying to turn over a new leaf.

We've been dog sitting for the past few days and I just returned "Derby" to his home for the night. The only thing left to do before I go to bed is to force feed a Prozac to our resident psychotic feline, Lyle.