Sunday, December 30, 2007

Every Day is Christmas

Christmas morning, rocking our 13 month old daughter while she sucked down a bottle of milk, I watched television try to make the day a spectacle, and came to a wonderful realization, for me, every day is Christmas. I rarely become emotional, sappy, but there was no getting around that one, wonderful realization.

My daughter is not old enough to understand Christmas, even that she gets presents on that day, but that can wait until next year when Lisa and I can share the morning with her together. This year, it was like every alternate weekend, where I am home alone with my daughter while her mom works. I call them my Mollydays, and I enjoy every minute. In the summer, we bike, with her in the trailer behind me, at first with the big bear that kept her from flopping around. I can only marvel at what we will do on our future "Mollydays," as the world opens up to her, and look forward to every moment.

Now it's too cold for bike rides, but we get along well enough. Christmas morning was like every other day, and this year, that's fine, because my days are exceptional.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Devil in the White City - Erik Larson

I am, at times, a voracious reader. I gobble up everything I can, sometimes with nearly no regard as to quality or genre, but I usually stick in my favorite areas; Sci-fi, Horror, and thriller fiction.

I am always on the lookout for a standout piece of work that I haven't read, and shoot outside of my comfort zones on occasion. So, I heard some guys talking about a book, and got the name of it, Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson. I noted the name, and based on a very generic recommendation, I stopped them before they gave me more details, and read the book.

Let me preface this by also saying that as I had a beer with a buddy, telling him about the book I'd just started reading, someone at the bar spoke up to tell me how good it was, and I had to stop them from going on and maybe ruining it for me. Well, that's what I said, I actually just didn't feel like talking to them.

So anyway, on to the book. Devil in the White City is one of those historical drama type of books that have become popular, and usually elicit no interest from me whatsoever. It was solely the person that initially recommended it to me and a few details that got me to read it. Still, the book came highly recommended on all levels.

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Tin Man on Sci-FI - is Bad, not Wicked

I had high hopes for the recently released mini-series, " Tin Man," on the Sci-Fi channel. The promo's looked good, and I, if not the rest of the world, was ready, if not eager, for another remake of "The Wizard of Oz."

And so I juggled Time zones and negotiated a compromise in regards to "Project Runway," which seems to always be on record and apparently getting watched by my girlfriend, and managed to watch it. The first episode, like spring training and opening day in baseball, was promising and enjoyable.

Dorothy, cleverly veiled as DG, is a disenchanted teenage girl/waitress that gets pulled away to the land of the O.Z.(outer zone, they are so clever) for an adventure. As with the names I have exampled, the linking to the old story is tenuous and sometimes tedious.

The visuals and style are remarkable, and some wrinkles in the new story are intriguing. DG goes to the O.Z, where she finds that she was raised by robots and that her mother is really the true Queen of the O.Z. . She assembles her crew, the scarecrow is known as glitch, and his brain has been taken, with a big zipper on the top of his head to close the cavity.

The Tin Man, as a character is most interesting. As in the original, he is found early on, a flesh and bone human, trapped in a metal suit, where he was locked and left to die after watching his wife and children hurt and taken away. He is called a "Tin Man' as a nickname for sheriff in the O.Z., and played well by Neal McDonough. This may be the only tie-in that doesn't seem forced.

Glitch, the scarecrow character, stands on his own, the tie-in only holds him back. The cowardly lion is brought in most recognizably, as a human type wolverine, 'feeler'(empath), and doesn't add much to the story. Toto is almost laughable, making a late appearance as DG's childhood, shapeshifting 'tutor' that she called "Toto".

All of these are long reaches to tie the old story to the new story, where the wicked witch possessed DG's older sister as a child, and killed her to be resurrected and sent away by her mother the queen. Still, they are not what makes this series bad, if not a complete waste of time. The story isn't what knocks this series down a notch.

It's the acting.
Zooey Deschanel, who plays DG, mails this whole performance in as if she were sleepwalking. Understated is one thing, reading your lines out loud is another. The good production values, supporting cast, and juicy national time slot should have suggested to this girl that this isn't your old Sci-Fi movie, it's not Anaconda 5, or Vampires in Malibu. They're actually trying to do something quality here and the girl looks like she's bored to death.

It was bad to the point of being hilarious, but not intentionally. Looking over her filmography, she's had some good roles, "Almost Famous," "Big Trouble", and was passable and seemed interested in "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy". She mailed this in, plain and simple, taking away any chance this series had of breaking through the pall that keeps Sci-Fi channel movies down.

She had several "Elizabeth Rohm" moments. Rohm, who walked through three or four seasons of "Law and Order" the same way, might've shaken her head at some of the lines they got out of this girl. By the end of the third part I was laughing out loud, mentally putting her in the place of several other famous female leads.
  • Imagine her as Scarlet in GWTW, "uh, Red, can ya just take me back.."
  • I'm not sure anyone would have known Sybil had extra personalities..
  • Erin Brockovich- "They're like called boobs..uh..those things down there..uh, Ed"
Let's not make this all negative though. According t0 Reuters, viewers approved, at least in giving the channel it's biggest rating ever.

"Tin Man," a six-hour special that debuted Sunday to a network record of 6.3 million total viewers, fell 31% with Monday's Part 2 to 4.4 million, according to Nielsen Media Research. However, the second of its three installments aired opposite ESPN's telecast of the undefeated New England Patriots' last-minute victory over the Baltimore Ravens, which set cable viewership records by drawing 17.5 million viewers.

But "Tin Man," a new take on L. Frank Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," got a boost in its final installment, averaging 5.1 million viewers from 9-11 p.m. Tuesday.


I'd give it a 7/10, it only seem to be getting long at the end. I was disappointed that things seemed to get so sloppy, but it was solid entertainment. I can recommend it for anyone to watch, and if your kids like it, there's nothing too adult for them here. It unintentionally gave me some serous belly laughs, which brings me to my last point.

This is one of those things you might not even notice, but you have to watch it to get this one. Right in the beginning of the third part, as DG comes out of a vision of her mother and her fate, looks at the camera and says: "Who's a homo?" Ya ya, I know she really said," Who is Ahamo(a-Hah-mo), but really, it sounded like Homo in her deadpanned performance.

The teenager that I will never lose snorted after that every time I heard some say that name. Really, some of the lines that followed, whether they pronounced it right or not, like this one especially, " ...every time someone comes here looking for a homo, they go to the seeker."
It could easily devolve into a drinking game.

Maybe I'm insensitive, or just weird, but that was funny, and things like that got me through the last parts. After a while, you just take what you get, I expected a little more out of this after a promising start, but in the end it was just good entertainment.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Toys - as memories and writing tools

Almost every place I ever visited as a child is defined in some ways by the toys that were there for me to play with. Every relative's home, office I visited, restaurant, even schools and churchs, had their own set of toys to play with. Maybe it is part of my generation, or an eye to things to come, but in many cases I remember the toys more than the place, or the people in it.

Let's take both sets of Grandparents, first my mother's side, where I can tell you that she and Grandpa kept a big cardboard cannister of Lincoln Logs and a stack of comic books, handed down from my Uncle and older cousins in the hall closet. I remember nearly as much about those toys, as I can about her holiday dinners, but this is because NOBODY cooked like my Grandma Shaw.

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