Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Magazine

I'm now accepting suggestions for my next magazine subscription. Last year's magazine was Ode, but it's shallow and silly and advertises cigarettes.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Movie

I watched Casino Royale last night. Good flick. Judi Dench had bed-head in every scene.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Wine Kitchen

We wandered into a den of deliciousness yesterday (and the day before), the Wine Kitchen on King Street in Leesburg. Yum. Good wine.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Brief Book Review

Okay, so, Raymond Carver. I finished reading Cathedral a few days ago. Overall, he's not my kind of guy. Almost all the stories are plotless and uninteresting. The writing is plain. People live their (usually semi-bleak) lives and go through their days and wives/mothers abandon the family and husbands/fathers drink heavily and sometimes it's hard to find a job and so on.

There's very little action in the stories. In one scene a child was hit by a bus, and I cheered (I really did) because finally something happened. But generally people have dinner and do a lot of smoking and maybe even go somewhere in the car from time to time. If I can get "slice of life" from life itself, why would I go to literature, or any art? A minor exception was the title story. It featured interesting interactions between people and a main character that bordered on likeable.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Carver, Almost

I'm one story away from finishing Cathedral. I should hold off until I finish to deliver a final verdict about the writing of this Raymond Carver fellow. Yes, I'll hold off.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tonight's Plan

I'll be sipping beer this evening at Broad Street Cafe's 7:30 pm open mic night. Jordan Okrend's playing.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Book

My friend Melissa has a children's book out. Go have a look.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Movie

Last week I watched Paris, je t'aime, a collection of 18 short movies set in Paris. Most were very good, a few weren't. My final recommendation vote for the whole thing is: Yes. Good. I like. I recommend. Worth a rental.

Tom Tykwer did one that stars Melchior Beslon (he had a very good minor part in The Princess and the Warrior), Steve Buscemi's in another (he doesn't say a word, but he's still excellent), and Elijah Wood stars in the dumbest short film of the collection (okay, okay, if you're swept up in all this recent vampire foolishness, you might like it). Wikipedia sums it up nicely.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Music

Occasionally I like to nourish my high-brow side. To that end (hee hee), I present the Singing Butts. The Brahms Lullaby is particularly exquisite. Here's their YouTube promo.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Video Time

It's time for some YouTube fun.

Ricky Gervais and Elmo have a chat.

Danny Kaye and Louis Armstrong sing.

A good Pink Panther scene.

The Marx Brothers mirror scene.

A Fawlty Towers classic.

Stay away from those related links. You'll waste hours.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Friends

I had a very superstrong movie recommendation from a friend today for Shattered Glass. Anyone else seen that? It's now next on my Avid Video (I wish they had a Web site) list.

And in the next few days I'll be picking up Raymond Carver's Cathedral from the library. I hope the book (and my friend's recommendation) aren't part of the movement that feels fiction has to be bleak, depressing, and "serious" to be considered good. Downers suck. I promise to report back.

A third friend this morning delivered an excellent synopsis of the movie An Education. The premise of a man picking up, in his car, a 16-year-old girl who's waiting out in the rain was a bit much for me. (Come on, I mean, "...his car is warm aaaaand dry..." Enough already.) After hearing this, I assured my friend I had no intention of seeing the movie and she could confidently tell me the whole story--including the ending. She did a good job. I now know exactly what happens, and it's checked off my list. Vanity Fair ran an interesting article.

If I didn't have friends I'd never read books or see movies. Here's to friends.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Reading

While waiting for an oil change at Mark Jacobson Toyota (and thank God one doesn't have to interact with this Mark character himself when one goes for service), I ran into (in to?) a friend who strongly recommended the writing of Raymond Carver. I've never read his fiction. If you have, I'd be tickled if you'd weigh in.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Some Links

Two interesting articles passed across my desk today, one about Facebook and one about unhappiness.

I'd never seen the Muppets' version of Bohemian Rhapsody. Animal never fails to make me laugh. "Do not like your jokes" is pretty funny too.

I've watched a lot of football over the past few weeks, and even though I've mentioned it before, I still can't get over how good this touchdown pass was. It's probably the finest throw and catch I've seen in a long time.

And because I'm a sucker for stupid-criminal stories, here's one, another, and another.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lost some text

Frickin' Facebook. An old friend (5th grade, Antwerp Belgium) found me a few days ago, and we've been sending messages back and forth. I'd just finished typing a loooooong thing and something went wrong with the browser window (i.e., I hit something on the keyboard I shouldn't have), and when I went back, everything was intact except all the text I'd typed. Grrrrrrrr.

Still, this Facebook thing is grand fun. I know I've said it before, but I only react to things that make it to my e-mail inbox. All those little games and quizzes and requests for weird things and "friend suggestions" that people post on my page become instant victims of the handy "ignore all" button. And isn't it impolite to request a "friend" without adding a personal message, even something very short? I tend to delete those too.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Few Things

For people on a hunt for French-cut green beans, the only place I usually find them this time of year is in the freezer section at Kroger. Or, as some people call it, Kroger's. And this reminds me that I need to buy a turkey tomorrow.

We'll be in Durham for Thanksgiving. Counting our own family, it'll be 18 people eating at our place.

A bit of sad news from the weekend: Saturday night something got into the rabbit yard and slaughtered our two bunnies Hazel and Quincy. Though I'd seen this sort of thing many times during our pre-kid rabbiting days, it was new to the girls and they were very sad. Luckily I found the bunnies (one with the head completely torn off--and don't tell your kids that, because our girlies don't know that part) while the girls weren't around and was able to quickly bury them. Jane's baby rabbit "Muffin" was safely in the house where she'll stay at least until I finish the outdoor bunny barn.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Movie Recommendation

Last night I watched The Lives of Others. I really (x7) liked it. It's seriously excellent. Wow. The suspense, the characters, the whole thing. Wow. One of the best movies I've seen in a very long time. I'm in a swoon. If anyone wants to watch this thing, I'd see it again in the shake of a prostate. It's good. Dude. Really.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Movie Non-Recommendation

I watched a movie last night called Man Push Cart. Bleak. Serious downer. Don't waste your time.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Printer

To say I was chagrined when I brought this home from Office Depot and then read this after the enclosed CD's own software installation failed would be to understate. I briefly considered a tirade of epithets. But wait. Office Depot is selling Windows 7 on one aisle and a printer on another aisle that's incompatible with it. Surely I'm not alone.

To the Web! Sure enough, by following the advice of "MkGodfrey" on this page, I got the thing working.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Aloe Vera

Today at dinner I ate a handful of canned Aloe Vera chunks from Trader Joe's. They were interesting, like jiggly little chunks of clear Jell-O. The taste is unique: I can't think of a comparison. The Harris Teeter produce department has fresh Aloe Vera, long green things (I assume the jiggly part is inside), but I wouldn't know what to do with them.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

For the Twits

That twitter thing I blogged about a few months ago may become a TV show.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What I'm Reading

FriendGary gave me this book today. I'm looking forward to it. Two books precede it in the queue, scored yesterday during a public library visit: this and this. I'd finished Michael Chabon's this a few days before.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ali Baba Bunny

I was in a Bugs Bunny mood and found this episode. Always with Pismo beach and a wrong turn at Albuquerque.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Party Night

Saturday night a friend of ours had her 40th birthday party at a cute, cute little place called the Sirens Lounge. There was dancing and we had adorable little drinks in martini glasses. The party was a nice excuse to go somewhere I wouldn't normally go. (This may be the first time I've been in a building with the word "lounge" in the title.)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Microwave Metal

We were explaining to the girls tonight about not putting metal into a microwave. Here's a short example at YouTube.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Seasonal Essay

Jen sent me a hilarious essay last week, and I neglected to share it with you. Sorry. Here it is. (Text language alert.)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Michael Chabon

These days I'm reading Michael Chabon's short stories. He's good.

Monday, November 2, 2009

John Irving

Say, new John Irving novel, Last Night in Twisted River. If anyone reads it, let me know how it was.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Getting Back in the Swing

Hoowee, what a week! Last Thursday Jane's class had a "Fall Party" at school, even with a stolen laptop I was able to send out the Hope Valley PTA weekly e-mail because it's all Web-based, sister Nancy is in town visiting for a long weekend, girls and wife carved pumpkins yesterday and went trick-or-treating while I gave out candy at the house, later that night we roasted marshmallows outside and gawked at the almost-full-moon, and today the gals made caramel apples and stuck chocolate and candies onto them. Sugar, sugar, sugar. Yum.

I spent most of my time this week recovering from the home break-in: if the burglars spend time digging through all the files on our computer--especially the spreadsheet files--they'll probably be able to piece together very nice chunks of data they can use (if they're savvy). Bank account numbers, social security numbers, bank routing numbers, etc. Thank goodness there was no password information in any of the files. Still, I'm playing it safe.

I've taken a handful of evasive maneuvers: I've opened new accounts with each bank and moved money into the new accounts, I've changed all online banking passwords, I've signed up for $5.50/month credit-report monitoring, and I've changed PayPal and e-mail passwords. In a strange and fabulous stroke of luck, the burglars left on my desk (right next to my computer) a Seagate external hard-drive that I'd used for backup about 6 weeks ago. The police officer theorized they didn't know what it was. Even with all the potential for financial hijinx and identity theft, it was the potential loss of data (and the back-up) that spooked me most. All family pictures back to 1999! I can't imagine. I've decided that local external hard-drive back-up isn't enough.

After much surfing and studying I've decided to use JungleDisk for remote data storage. As the months progress, I'll continue to provide updates, but so far I like it. Instead of using it to back up files on my hard drive, I'm using the remote drive as my primary source for file use. So far, so good. The response time is pretty quick--that is, after Windows maps a drive to my data on the JungleDisk network, I can open and use files there pretty efficiently; the "drag-time" isn't much greater than the kind of delay you see from a server on a local area network. If my hard drive dies, my heart won't miss a beat because I'll know I can access my files from any computer any time. And while I'll keep all our pictures and videos on our JungleDisk drive, I'll back those up on the Seagate as well.

Kimberly's rehearsing tonight, and I need to get the kids into bed. School night and all.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Switching Over

Tuesday morning while I was running errands, someone waltzed through the left-unlocked-by-me back door of the house and made off with laptops, a TV, a DVD player, Emma's digital camera, and Kimberly's jewelry box. Police, forensics (no prints, we think), gathering of serial numbers, homeowner's insurance claim, etc. Bummer, yes. Big bummer.

And since I'm having to load software onto a much-cheaper computer I found at Best Buy yesterday, I decided it's time to move the blog from a clunky FrontPage file to an actual blog with RSS feeds and all that. So here it is! Apologies to those of you who'll have to register with Blogger/Google (I've lost track of who owns whom) to comment, but here we are.

More later. Must cook dinner now.

Thursday, March 19, 2009