Because yesterday's post inspired so much love and happiness in the hearts of all my readers, I thought I'd follow it up with something much more likely to cause people to become bitter and angry.
Transformers was the best cartoon of the 80s, hands down. Take your GI Joe, your He-Man, your Thundercats, your Voltron, and throw 'em out the window. Autobots vs. Decepticons, baby. It's all about the Energon.
Okay people. Listen up. I've debated getting into this publicly, because it's very clear that there are a lot of feelings involved in this health care thing, and I try my best not to hurt other people's feelings. That said, people won't shut up about it, and there comes a point when I've had enough--where enough people are talking about something, that I feel a public response by Yours Truly is justified.
It's gotten to that point with health care.
A bit of history about me and my political views. Up to this point, I have always identified myself as Republican. Back in the day, I used to listen to Rush Limbaugh and agree with most of what he said. I've listed to Sean Hannity and agreed with a lot of what he said, too. Likely, I would still agree with much of what they say. However, I think that the political setup of this country has broken. It's turned into an either-or mindset, where one side has to be Right all the time or none of the time. It's like a sports rivalry, where you root for your team no matter what, and root against the rivals at all times. You know what? That's not how it should work. Human lives are at stake here, not some silly person running around a field, trying to get a ball to go to a certain part of that field. We're all on the same team. There are different ideas. Some people will come up with good ones on both sides of the aisle. Good ideas should prevail--not political allegiances.
Health care in our country is awful. Not the quality of the care--the system by which that care is provided. If you have a job that provides benefits, good for you. Pat yourself on the back. Other people don't have jobs that give that. Don't tell me "they should go out and get jobs that do," because you're being an ass if you say that. Try a little compassion. My author friends out there who are trying to make a living on their own--it's hard for them to get insurance. It's so expensive! I don't think this point is debatable. Something needed to be done to rectify that point.
Allow me to emphasize: SOMETHING NEEDED TO BE DONE. The concept didn't need to be bantered around the room and then forgotten. Action had to be taken. Enough is enough. Even if the solution ends up screwing things up more for a bit, at the very least, it would end the gridlock and allow progress to resume. A stalemate would have been a victory for no one.
People are whining that they shouldn't need to buy insurance--that it should be a choice: if you want to have it, you can have it. If you don't, you don't need to. If you want to get crappy insurance, you can do that, too. To me, this isn't a viable option. If you choose to not get insurance, and then you get dreadfully sick, who ends up paying for those hospital visits? Case in point: your wife is pregnant, there are complications, and the bill ends up coming to more than $2 million (a friend of mine had this happen). You, in your infinite wisdom, said you didn't want insurance. You don't have $2 million. That money has to come from somewhere, or else the baby dies. Do we let the baby die? Of course not. But the bill still needs to be paid, and in the end, I pay it. How do I pay it? With the overinflated health insurance costs and doctors bills I'm saddled with. Your poor decision--your decision not to prepare for the future and be ready for what might come--has had a direct impact on me. Thanks a lot.
In my opinion, choosing not to buy insurance should not be an option. If you have the money, you need to have it. If you don't have the money, you need to be granted it. It doesn't work if only some people get it--those few end up paying for the many who don't. (Of course, I also have some pretty strong opinions about how welfare and "need" are defined in this country, but I won't go there too much--just enough to say that I think certain steps (random drug and alcohol testing to get welfare, better supervision and enforcement of the distribution of funds, etc) need to be taken. I also think that everyone should actually, literally PAY taxes. The fact that I get so much money back from the government each year--while it makes me happy--doesn't seem right to me. Why should I end up paying nothing while people who work hard and have lots of money end up paying so much? Flat tax. No refunds. End of story. But those are both blog posts for another day when I'm feeling even grouchier.)
Next point: using religion to argue for or against the health care thing needs to stop. I'm looking at you, Mormons. For every one that brings up talks about the evils of socialism, there's another who brings up the United Order. Separation of church and state, folks. Let's just not go there.
Have I offended enough people yet? Do you see why I don't really feel like getting into this stuff normally? I can predict what will happen--I'm going to get comments, and the comments will start throwing rocks at other comments, and everyone's just going to get madder and madder. It might not happen for this post, but it's been happening any other time people post about health care. All friction, no fire.
My point is that this health care debate is a perfect example of what's wrong with government these days. It has us all bickering with each other. Arguing. Trying to "win" the battle. Politicians just keep that fighting going. The easiest way to win an election these days is not to show why you're so good for the job--it's to show why the other guy is so bad. Can you imagine a job search that worked that way? With everyone coming in to smear the other candidates? Meanwhile, the 24 hour news cycle stands on the sideline, cheering it all on, and throwing rocks now and then whenever things get too civil.
Politics these days is like American Idol, but without as much rational thought. And speaking as an ex-American Idol fan, I'll tell you something: once you stop watching, it just doesn't seem to matter as much anymore. Who wins? Who loses? I don't care. The same thing with the 24 hour news shows and the radio hosts--if you stop listening, you stop getting so darn upset.
Stop getting so upset! Stop complaining about the "country you once loved." Stop talking about how the Republicans are red-neck idiots, or the Democrats are high brow Socialists. (If you want to keep talking about how Sarah Palin is a money-grubbing, publicity-hungry troglodyte, though--please feel free.) Stop letting politics pull people apart. If you've got a problem with things, recognize that now and then, the majority of the people will believe your "solution" is wrong, just as you believe theirs is wrong. Speak your piece, logically and rationally, and then don't be a sore loser when you don't "win." The country isn't going to go to hell in a day, and this oh-so-vital thing that seems so important today won't seem nearly as important a year from now. We're humans. We make mistakes, but we also adapt.
Meanwhile, this post has gone on far enough. I have more thoughts about this, but frankly, I'm too jaded to feel like posting them anymore. (That and I used up my fifteen minute break, then my lunch break to write this blasted thing!) I'm officially no longer thinking of myself as Republican. I'm Bryceian. A Bryceocrat. Part of the Bryce Party. I'll vote for who I think makes sense, regardless of party lines. I'll vote for the issues that mean the most to me, regardless of who came up with the idea. I'll listen to people on both sides of the argument, and then I'll make a choice on my own--a choice that might be right and might be wrong. Regardless of how the rest of the country votes, I won't feel "betrayed." I'm still just as much of an American as they are, and they're just as much of an American as I am.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars I had a personal connection to this book, since the setting could have been swapped (more or less) with my current hometown. For all I know, it was based on my current hometown. In any case, it was fun to see many familiar places, phrases and inside references made throughout the book. As for the book itself, I couldn't put it down. Literally. I lost sleep over this book, and I blazed through its 1068 pages in three days or so. One of the things King did so well in this book was fuse characters with plot. The basic premise is simple: what happens when a small town is encased in an invisible, indestructible barrier? By itself, that could be the fodder for any number of stories. It all depends on the characters. King took a liberal dose of good and evil characters, and had them all get trapped inside that dome together. The rest is just telling the story--having the characters do what they want to do, behave how they want to behave, make the decisions they would naturally make. Of course, as any writer will tell you, that's the hard part. King makes it look easy. There were some scenes in the book that were some of the tensest I've read. Very well done. The ending itself was perhaps a bit of a letdown--the book excels when it's on a personal, character level. The bigger plot . . . was a tad weaker. Still, no reason for me not to give it five stars. Warning to those who don't typically read King: it's gory and graphic, so stay away if you don't want to read that.
Last Thursday my mom was in town, and she took us out to dinner for DKC's birthday. We went to a place nearby (great Italian food!) that also had a huge wall-sized map of the area, dating back to 1861. The food was a while in coming, so to pass the time, I got up to look at the map. After a bit of studying, I discovered that it not only had individual houses on it, but it had MY house on it--along with who owned it. This was pretty exciting for me. When we bought the house, we were told it was built around 1900 or so. When the home inspector looked at it, he guessed it might go back as far as 1830, but that was all it was: a guess. Now I had proof that it dated back to at least 1861.
So what did I do next? I went to the library. A bit of research later, and I found the total history of my house. It was built in 1841 by a man named Elkanah Oakes. His grandfather fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill and Lexington. Elkanah's daughter owned the house across the street--his son-in-law built it there when they got married. Not only that, but I found pictures of my house from 1900 and 1917. Wicked cool. Elkanah moved in the 1860s, and the house went to the Ellsworth family, who owned it until the late 1970s/early 80s, when the next family bought it, and we bought it from them. So the house's heritage is complete. If I could find more pictures--possibly of the interior(!)--I would be even more pleased. What's great is we now have an idea of how the house originally looked. That cupola that I wanted to put on the barn? It used to be there--someone removed it at one point. The enclosed porch? Used to be an open farmer's porch. Like I said--now we have something to shoot for.
Nothing's really changed about my house, but the way I look at it has changed. For example, it seems Elkanah might have been a wheelwright. Is that why he was able to build such a lovely spiral staircase in the house--because he had extensive experience working with bending wood? Maybe. I look at the big exposed beams and think about how hard it must have been to get those done right. Knowing that people have been living in my house for 169 years is pretty mind-boggling to me.
Figured I'd take a minute to pontificate on Lost. I'll avoid spoilers here, in case any of you are behind on the season. DKC and I have been watching each week, and I've really been pleased with the season. One of the things I think stands out particularly with this series is that, while people talk about all the mysteries and plot twists of the story, the writers recognize that what really engages people are the characters. If you have characters that people can relate to and care about, then your plot is going to work itself out (as long as your characters remain true, and you've picked a conflict that's interesting). On the other hand, if you have a fascinating plot, but awful characters, then people will soon move on to better material.
In other words, if Lost put the characters second to the plot, it wouldn't be the show it is. This week's episode is an excellent example. Fans have been foaming at the mouth for an explanation on the history that the episode covered, but when we finally got it, it was conveyed through a personal story. Character came first, and because of that, it meant much more than if it had just been a "this happened, then this happened, then this happened" sort of thing.
Lost is an excellent reminder to writers about the importance of character.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars Every now and then I read a book that I just can't put down. This is one of those. The writing is literary and fascinating, the characters complex, the subject intriguing--I don't know . . . Everything about this book worked for me.
It's basically your standard YA fantasy at heart, but approached from a much more reality-based angle. What if the magical world the main character discovers doesn't change his life for the better? What if the problems he had before--character flaws, unmet dreams, etc--still exist? And when you think about it, doesn't that make sense? Why should walking through a wardrobe suddenly make everything else okay? Grossman has depicted a world where magic is very real, in all senses of the word.
The book is by no means a candy coated experience. It's not a children's book in the slightest, despite the fact that it covers the same sort of school experience as the Harry Potter series did. It feels very much like you're reading a Work of Literature that happens to be fantasy, but I liked it all the more for that. I'd be interested to hear what other people thought of this one. I could see some people really disliking it--but for me, it worked great. Plus, it was the sort of book that makes you want to talk to other people about it once you've finished.
I'm home sick today, and I have no real desire to come up with a Novel Idea for a blog post, so instead I'm just going to mention my favorite budgeting site again: Mint. What do I love about Mint? Honestly, what's not to love? Before Mint, I always struggled to stay on top of a budget. All of those receipts, keeping track of what went with what, how much was left in which category--it just was too much work for me. I remember when DKC and I bought our house and were suddenly saddled with all of these extra expenses, things looked grim for a while. It was tremendously difficult to know how much we could spend and still stay within our means.
Enter Mint, stage right.
You sign up for a free account, enter in your bank account log-in information, and it automagically imports all your transactions. Every credit card purchase, every check, every deposit, every withdrawal--everything. It also categorizes it all for you (although it needs some help every now and then figuring out what should go in what category). Not only that, it also allows you to set budgets for a plethora of categories. It'll let you roll over a balance from one month to the next. It finds great savings rates for you. It keeps track of your investments (stocks, IRAs, retirement accounts, etc.). It shows you fantastic graphs and charts that illustrate where all your money is going. It keeps track of how much you've spent vs. how much you earned. Honestly, there's nothing it can't do.
At first, it seemed a little sketchy to me--enter my bank account info? Isn't that . . . dangerous? But it doesn't store that log in info. There's no way people can break into your account and find out your passwords or anything--worst case is they'd break in and know how much you spend on television each month. Or how much savings you have. That's it, though. You're totally safe. If anything, it's made my money more secure, because now I pay attention to each transaction I make.
Can you tell I love this thing? Anyway--if any of you are out there trying to make sense of a budget, you know what my vote is. If you have questions, please ask. Happy Monday!
Woke up at 3am last night with a really sore throat, and I've been feeling out of it since. Thankfully, I could sleep some more and I'm doing somewhat better now. BYU's narrow victory over Florida didn't help much. Double overtime? I had thought when were were up by 13 in regulation that it was a done deal, but apparently the cougars wanted to make me get really worried. There were way too many times we could have lost that game. Still, we managed to get back into it somehow, and I was very excited to get the W.
Anyway, you may now resume with your regular Thursday activities. I'm gonna sleep some more.
Going with two "Moon" related reviews this time, though they couldn't be more different. The first is Peter Bogdanovich's Paper Moon, a delightful film about a con-man saddled with a girl who may or may not be his nine year old daughter in 1930s America. The con-man is played by Ryan O'Neal (of Howard Bannister "What's Up Doc?" fame) and the girl is played by his real-life daughter, Tatum O'Neal (who won an Academy Award for her role in the film--best supporting actress (though why she wasn't in the Best Actress category is beyond me). There's also the wonderful Madeleine Kahn (of Eunice Burns "What's Up Doc?" fame) playing Trixie Delight (guess her occupation). I'm not sure how I'd classify the film. It's definitely funny, but not a comedy. Has some serious sides to it, but isn't really a drama. It's a mutt of a film, but a friendly mutt that you can't stop petting. :-) Tatum does a great job in it, and Ryan was so different from his Bannister role that I didn't recognize him as the same actor. DKC and I both thoroughly enjoyed the film. It had a great Depression-era feel to it--like you were seeing how life might have been like then--without being too bogged down in depressing subjects. What's better yet is that it's a film I felt like I could analyze. Like it wasn't just a movie, it was art. Does that make sense? A strong three and a half stars for me. Suitable for all audiences.
The other film is Moon, essentially a one man show, starring Sam Rockwell as a man who's stationed at a one-person moon base that harvests Helium3 for energy back on earth. He's there on a three year stint, and that stint's two weeks from being done. His only companion is a robot (voiced by Kevin Spacey). It's an intense film--very hard sci-fi, and really well done. Brutal in places, and definitely R-rated (for language), but a fantastic example of what a movie can do with a limited budget and a great story. I don't want to give too much away on this one--better for you to go into it knowing less than more. Three and a half stars.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars A fascinating book. Gaiman takes elements from mythologies across the globe and weaves them into a contemporary fantasy that's unlike any other book I've read. Really, there was nothing to NOT like about the book. The characters were all well rounded, and it was a lot of fun to see how different gods interacted with other gods. For one thing, these gods are vastly diminished in power. It's not like you're seeing all powerful Zeus engaged in Mighty Battle with Thor or anything like that. No, in this world, the gods have fallen from grace, more or less. Thor shot himself a few years back. Horus has forgotten what it's like to be in human form. Ibis is a mortician. The contrast from where these characters usually appear in stories and how they're used in this book . . . that was half the fun right there.
American Gods is more literary than your average fantasy. More literary that your unaverage fantasy, for that matter. The text was a pleasure to read, and the plot was sufficiently paced to keep my interest. Shadow, the main character, is complex and intriguing, and I was really rooting for his success.
The book would be R-rated if it were a movie, so take that as a warning, but if you're okay with that and want a fascinating read, give this one a shot. It's some great Gaiman.
That's right, folks. It's time for my annual Bryce's Ramblings NCAA Tournament Challenge. You know. The one where I make a group, I enter, my friend Kevin enters, Kevin beats me, and then I write a blog post about how great he is.
This year could be different!
This year, YOU could enter it, as well!
Why would you want to enter? Well, besides the promise of me devoting an entire blog entry to saying just how great of a person you are, I'll also throw in a copy of Cavern of Babel, FREE! That's right. The world's only alpaca YA fantasy book, in your hungry little paws, free of charge. (Unless, of course, you already have a copy. I'm looking at you, Kevin.) And of course, there's the opportunity to know that you're better than someone out there. And not just any someone--me!
Heck, just enter for the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. I love me some March Madness, and I try to do everything I can to make it more interesting each year. The only thing I can't do is bet money on it. DKC has officially vetoed the Spending of Family Funds on March Madness. But if there's another way I can entice you to enter the Bryce's Ramblings challenge, post a comment on here and let me know. I'll consider it! Family and friends, if you've already been invited to one of the other groups I started, please be aware that a victory in one of those groups does NOT entitle you to a blog entry or a free book. You have to enter the official Blog Bracket! Don't worry--you can enter both! Use your same bracket! Make another! Throw some exclamation points in for good measure!!!
Who do I think will win this year? BYU. No. Not really. But it would be great if they did--and I'd just like to point out that if they make it to the Sweet Sixteen, they play in Salt Lake for the next two rounds. Final Four, here we come! :-)
Anyway--how do you enter the blog bracket? Simple, my friends. Go to this link. Put in the group name and password, and you're in.
Tomorrow I'm going to do it. I'm going to play basketball for the first time in . . . nine years. Why am I doing this? Because I'm trying to have some regular activities for my Elders Quorum to participate it. We did a movie night a month or two ago, and in an effort to do Different Things, this month's activity is basketball. Of course, it remains to be seen how many people actually show up to play. It's totally in the realm of possibility that I'll end up playing HORSE tomorrow with my first counselor and no one else. On the other hand, it could be that we end up playing a full on five on five, full court game going. Who knows?
Well, for one thing, every Mormon church building I'm aware of has at least a half court basketball court inside it. This makes it tremendously easy to plan on having a game. No worries about finding a place, rain, reserving anything--it's all taken care of.
Why haven't I played in so long?
Basketball's just not really my thing. Yes, I'm tall--but I'm not extremely (heck--remotely) coordinated. I love me my March Madness (coming up!), but when it comes to playing sports, I'm more of a watcher than a doer.
When is the last time I played basketball?
On my mission in Germany, I was the assistant coach for a youth team for about six months, bizarre as that may seem. Some previous missionaries--expert ball players--had set up that as a sort of service project for the local youth, and I inherited the position when I got transferred in. It pretty much consisted of me yelling at them to do different drills. Very little basketball was played on my part. As a side note, I also played a fair amount of wheelchair basketball in Germany. We would go and play with some of the members of the national team. Needless to say, I'm worse at wheelchair basketball than I am at real basketball--but I had more fun playing it.
In any case, if you're in town tomorrow at 8, and you're up for some basketball, come on by the Mormon church. I can almost guarantee you won't be the worst player on the court. :-) Wish me luck!
DKC and I watched Parenthood last night, a movie that came out when I was 11, and which I remember thinking "maybe I'll watch that when I'm an actual parent" at the time it came out. It just wasn't interesting to me back then, but I recognized that it might be interesting later on.
So was it?
Well, yes. But I'll throw some disclaimers in there after I get done saying what I liked about it. The movie felt fairly real. As in, the characters all had flaws, and they were believable flaws. They made mistakes. They were consistent in the mistakes they made and how they dealt with them. Of course, they made so many mistakes, that at times it pushed the suspension of disbelief, but for the most part, it felt like condensed version of the many facets of parenthood. Ron Howard (the director) did a good job with it, and the cast was good, as well.
What didn't I like? The fact that it seemed to have a "cheesy" button that it liked to jam down repeatedly. It was just too schmalzy at times, and that got a bit old after a while. Don't get me wrong--the film was plenty funny, and had a lot that was just cheese. But there was enough cheese in it to keep distracting me.
If you're easily offended, the movie might not be for you. Like I said, the characters make all manner of bad choices throughout the film. Choices everyday people might well make. (In fact, according to IMDB, the movie's based on the real life experiences of a number of the film's creators--something I readily believe. Cramming all those real life experiences just makes the film feel too full (and therefore unrealistic) at times.)
Long story short: three stars. But a highly recommended three star film, if you're interested in thinking about parenthood.
One concept particularly stood out to me. It's based on the following exchange:
Grandma: You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster. Gil: Oh? Grandma: Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride! Gil: What a great story. (sarcastically) Grandma: I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.
At times, I wish I were on a merry go round. At other times, I wish I were on a roller coaster. My life seems to teeter back and forth between which one I want. When everything's falling apart, that merry go round seems awfully appealing. When everything's dull, I'm up for some excitement.
When all's said and done, I think I prefer the roller coaster.
Spring is definitely in the air out here in Maine, and even though we may be getting snow in the future (you never can tell!), I'm starting to get the itch to Do Stuff To My House. Of course, some of this stuff is finishing what was left undone from last year: scraping, sanding and painting my barn-turned-garage (and cleaning up all the stuff that's left over from the renovation). But other stuff . . . other stuff consists of me wanting to knock walls down, carve out spaces for windows, take off some of the vinyl siding, finish off the attic, finish the space above the garage, add in a hallway, add a bathroom, install some dormer windows, put down a new driveway, take out the old driveway . . .
I have to keep reminding myself that I really can't start new projects until old projects are complete. Otherwise, the house could quickly get lost in renovation purgatory, and no one wants that. So maybe I'm going to start that whole scraping and sanding thing sooner rather than later.
I know DKC is getting the itch, as well--but hers manifests itself in other ways. Putting in the garden, adding a hedge--botanical stuff. Not me. I want a sledge hammer and a sawzall. If I came into some money, I know what I'd do with the first fifty thousand. Assuming I wouldn't just buy a new house. :-)
Some small steps are being taken already, however. Saturday, I decided to clean up the yard some--get some branches picked up and tidied, haul in some stray logs that had fallen. I used the wheelbarrow for the first load, and the wheel promptly hit a nail and exploded fairly violently. Oh yeah. Forgot about all those nails. So to avoid having more nail problems, I've ordered a metal detector. It should be here Thursday (according to Amazon). At that point, I'll practice with it by getting all the nails. (And then in the future, I'm thinking about some outings to use it to look for buried treasure with TRC. He's quite excited.) Once I can confidently go around my property without popping something, I'll get a new wheelbarrow. (The old one was far too cheap and crummy, anyway.)
Ooh--and I also need to declutter my garage.
So much time, so little to do. Wait--scratch that. Reverse it.
So the Oscars were last night, and thanks to the kindness of some friends, I was able to watch the whole thing live. (There are times I miss my satellite. But still not $600 worth of missing it. However, maybe my friends are beginning to get tired of me freeloading TV all the time . . .) What did I think?
Well, I thought it was too long, for one thing. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin were . . . okay. Not stunning, not hilarious, just sort of there. The opening with Neil Patrick Harris was moronic. The spiel with the actors and actresses being praised for 16 minutes before one of them got their Best Actor/Actress award was far too drawn out, and talked about them as people, not as performers. Yes, there were some funny bits throughout the evening, and I was glad to have watched it, but in the end, I was fairly happy it was over by the time MIDNIGHT rolled around. (Some of that relief might have had something to do with the fact that TRC and DC refused to go to sleep until it was finished. My kids must have inherited that from me.)
What did I think of the winners? Glad that Avatar didn't win, for one thing. A very good visual feast, but best picture? Not hardly. Haven't seen Hurt Locker yet, so I can't comment on that. Very pleased UP won for best score. Jeff Bridges winning was appreciated. Sandra Bullock, Oscar winning actress? Never thought I'd be saying that.
For those of you playing at home, I was 14 for 24 on my picks. Not too shabby a year, and I managed to squeak out a win among the players watching along with me last night, which means I don't have to publicly state that any of them are better than me. Phew! My pride lives to fight another day.
What did you all think of the Oscars this year? Did you watch? Did you care?
I'm pleased to report that no one broke anything yesterday in our household. No screams were heard, no glass shattering, no toys crunching. All was peaceful and calm. Well, as peaceful and calm as it can get with a five-year-old and a two-year-old-with-her-arm-in-a-sling running around. DC doesn't like the sling--she tries to take her arm out whenever possible--but she doesn't seem to mind the splint too much. The biggest pain to her was that it was her thumb sucking hand, but she's adapted: that's why God gave the girl two thumbs, I guess. She gets her cast on in about an hour and a half. We'll see how that goes.
Anyway--I don't have anything spectacular to report, and I'm okay with that. Better than having other tragedies popping up. Happy Friday, everyone!
So yesterday afternoon, DC had the bright idea of getting out of her crib unassisted. DKC and I weren't there--DKC just heard the thud after it happened. She went into DC's room to see what was wrong, and found her on the floor, crying.
Long story short, she broke two bones in her left wrist. Her arm is now in a splint, and in two or three days, we need to take her in to get a cast put on it. 4-6 weeks after that, she should be good as new.
How's she taking it?
Quite well. For those of you that remember, TRC broke his leg when he was a year and a half old. That was far more traumatic than this. She stopped crying after fifteen minutes or so(!), reduced to whimpers of pain now and then, except when she moved the arm or had it touched. It was really pretty sad. What's worse, is as a parent, there's not much more we could have done, but we still feel responsible. Should we have moved her to a bed sooner? She'd never expressed the slightest real interest in getting out of her crib, and she liked being in it. The doctors all said this happens a lot--and only very rarely is something broken.
I guess we were just lucky.
Really, though, I do count us as lucky. The results could have been far worse. Better to have a broken bone that'll mend than to have her land on her head or something. In any case, I spent the evening last night moving a bed into her room, and she's walking around today with her arm in a sling (which she doesn't like). Traumatic experience, all the way around.
One of the things I love most about recommending movies to people is when I have the chance to talk about a film that is more obscure, but is fantastic. Reviewing well known movies is okay, but in the end, it just amounts to throwing my opinion into the general mix. Everyone's heard of the film, and so sure, someone might be interested to hear my take on it, but my review won't bring anything truly unknown to light.
Not so with Brick, a great little gem that I'm betting the majority of you have never heard of. It barely broke $2 million at the box office, after all. It stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and it basically takes a classic noir movie like The Big Sleep and transplants it into a modern day high school, leaving everything else the same. The character mannerisms are those of noir characters--just being played by teenagers. The dialogue is noir dialogue--spoken by teenagers. Really, this feels like a grown up non-musical version of Bugsy Malone. But cooler. And I think that's likely where the movie didn't work for some people. For the first fifteen minutes or so, I wasn't liking the film at all. The teens weren't acting like teens, after all. They didn't sound like them, they took themselves way too seriously--nothing felt "right."
But then I realized what was going on--that the stilted dialogue and characterizations were on purpose. That this was an extreme adaptation of a noir film. And as soon as I made that mind shift, I loved the movie. Great acting, great cinematography, great mood, great story. Really well done, and I'm going to go ahead and give it four stars. It's rated R, but I have no idea why. Yes, there's a violent death, but you can see it coming in advance, and the gore lasts for all of a half second. Close your eyes, count to one, and you're done. No hard profanity, no sex. Just a good plot, great characters, and the enjoyment of watching a fascinating adaptation approach, all at the same time.
I finally got around to watching The Longest Day last night. It had been sitting on my entertainment center for a few weeks, actually--but it's 3 hours long, and what with the Olympics and all, I just hadn't found the time to watch it. I'm a bit of a WWII buff, however, so it was only a matter of time before that movie was going in my PS3. For those of you who don't know, it's an all star historical flick focused on the events surrounding D-Day. (It was billed as having 42 stars in it, and it has quite the cornucopia. Everyone from John Wayne to Sean Connery.) The closest movie I can compare it to is A Bridge Too Far, although some might make the more immediate D-Day connection to Saving Private Ryan. The difference is that SPR is more focused on depicting war on an individual level. ABTF and TLD are focused on recreating the many facets of a battle. Both approaches have their strengths and weaknesses, and I enjoy both.
Did I enjoy TLD?
Yes. Not quite as much as I wanted to, however. I liked it for its breadth. It showed all sides of the battle fairly well, not just the Allies. I especially liked the German side of it. Too often, Germans in WWII movies are depicted as faceless evil killer fanatics. The fact that their German is horrendous doesn't help that much, either. In TLD, the Germans were played by real actual Germans, who spoke (gasp!) German, and were directed by another German. It was fun just listening to the dialogue and comparing it to the subtitles. (Most of the time, the two had only a vague resemblance to each other.) In addition to the Germans, I liked the macro-level scale of the war--how everything was recreated on a large level. At the same time, that's also what I saw as the film's weakness. It was so focused on throwing all sorts of characters (and stars) at the screen, that the individual level conflicts got lost. Characters were sometimes reduced to Character Ticks (The Gambler, The Stoic Guy, The Guy Who Likes His Dog), not actual rounded roles. Often, it was hard to remember who was doing what and why, and that's never a situation you want to find yourself in when you're watching a film.
That said, I still give it a good 3 stars. If you like war movies, you'll like this one. Give it a gander, or tell me what you think about it if you've already seen it.
This whole weekend did nothing but confirm what we've all known all along: weathermen, as a whole, are completely clueless when it comes to predicting the weather. I was checking three or four different weather forecasts each day, trying to figure out what was going to happen. Rain? Snow? Ice? How much? Each forecast said something different. And you know what?
None of them ended up getting it right.
Take last night. All of them said we'd get snow. Amounts ranged from 2-7 inches. We didn't end up getting any accumulation at all.
Oh, I suppose they get it right every now and then. (And whichever weather genius came up with the "probability of precipitation" idea deserves an award for weaselly.) But think of what it would be like if other professions got things wrong as often as weathermen. What if your doctor said to you, "We ran some tests, and we're pretty sure you have cancer." How sure? "Eighty percent." Or what if your lawyer told you there was a 60 percent chance you hadn't broken the law and wouldn't go to jail?
People make fun of groundhogs predicting the weather, but when you get down to it, are they any less accurate than weathermen? How sad is that? What are we paying these people to do, anyway? Guess? I could do that for free.
"You want a prediction about the weather, you're asking the wrong Phil. I'll give you a winter prediction: It's gonna be cold, it's gonna be grey, and it's gonna last you for the rest of your life."