Sunday, May 15, 2005

05.15.05 - Life Update

There’s nothing much to report this week. I’m enjoying my break between semesters. Class starts again on the 31st. I’ve been playing lots of video games and sitting around in my robe waiting patiently for my grades to come in on the 23rd. I hope, for the purposes of getting into medical school, that at least two and preferably three are “A”s. I know that in at least one class if not two I’ll get a “B” which is frustrating. Economics has ever been my bane in college. I don’t know what I was thinking. Anyway, it’s all over but the crying for now.

Jade and Jordon have been spending some time with their grandparents this week so things have been relatively quiet around the house at least until Corwin, Caitlin, and Mackenzie get here this afternoon. Taking advantage of the peace and quiet, I’ve once again been trying to reconstitute and develop my genealogy files – I lost them a while ago in a hard drive crash. It’s been going well thanks to the efforts of several of the family genealogists and their willingness to send me their files that include both some of the information I once had and new information I didn’t have. It’s a never ending project.

It did however lead me to think about interviewing some of my family members for posterity. We lose so many stories and so much family history that need not be lost with today’s technology. To that end, I’ve set up time to interview my mother on her life and remembrances. I plan to record her life story as she remembers it and add it to the genealogical record. I’d also like to do this with other members of my family so folks, if you’re interested, let me know. I think it could be fun and enlightening for future generations. Who knows, I might even write a book.

Hunger calls, must eat…


Review - Film - Kingdom of Heaven

Kingdom of Heaven

We went to see Ridley Scott’s “Kingdom of Heaven” for date night this week after eating easily the best Chinese dinner we’ve ever had at a little Chinese bistro in Aurora, CO. called the “Paradise Café”. The vegetable tofu soup was very good and both the curry chicken and garlic vegetables were incredible. The service was mediocre as the wait staff seemed to be having some kind of disagreement as to who should do what. However, I was unable to catch the gist of it because I was enjoying my food so much that I didn’t really care.

I am becoming increasingly convinced that Liam Neeson is a great actor. His portrayal of Godfrey brought real emotion and sympathy to Godfrey’s personal quest for redemption. The movie opens at a grave site where men are burying a woman near a cross on a hill – a woman we later discover to be Balian’s wife. Nearby, in a smithy where Orlando Bloom’s Balian is beating steel into swords, Godfrey’s band comes to by to have their horses shod. Balian somberly agrees having recently lost his wife and child. It turns out that Godfrey is merely trying to buy a chance to acknowledge his illegitimate son and as forgiveness. The exchange is marvelous. Godfrey invites Balian to join his band and come to Jerusalem to aid the King of Jerusalem. Balian ultimately agrees after killing a priest who reminds him that his wife’s suicide guarantees her a place in hell.

This movie is controversial for a number of reasons. Local radio show hosts have even called it Anti-Christian trash. I suppose when picking at the scab of the crusades some discomfort is sure to arise. From my meager knowledge of history, I would deem the film’s historical basis to be approximately 50% on and 50% off which, for Hollywood, isn’t too bad. Still, the idea that the city of Jerusalem is nothing more than bricks and mortar and not the “Kingdom of Heaven” is bound to rankle some folks. I’m sure the references to God on the part of Balian could be viewed as blasphemous to some but certainly no more so than the mere thought that the great Muslim king and scholar Saladin would touch a crucifix much less pick it up and right it. On the whole I think Scott presents a fairly balanced view of this crusade as being a battle of ideologies over the possession of land – though deliberately not about God. I think it to be Scott’s commentary on the USA’s involvement in the Middle East. Time will tell I suppose…

The visuals, aside from the close combat scenes, are marvelous. The combat scenes are a slightly refined version of the same choppy combat scenes we saw in Gladiator and they are still uncomfortable and unsettling to watch. However, the wide shots are breathtaking in their size and scope. The cinematography is everything you would expect from a master like Ridley Scott simply pristine. The costumes, oh my the costumes, are incredible. From the Damascus mask worn by the King of Jerusalem to the armor, tabards, and helmets worn by the knights and the sumptuous robes and scimitars of the Saracens all seem to fit perfectly and aid the telling of the story. The sets are equally marvelous indicating the wealth and decadence of the crusaders.

On the whole, I think this is a story worth talking about. Lord knows, we humans have committed and continue to commit incredible atrocities in the name of divine providence. As Scott drives this point home again and again he seems to sometimes lose sight of the story he’s trying to tell and, as such, the story sometimes feels like it’s in a freefall. That coupled with his style of shooting battles, which I didn’t like in Gladiator or in KOH, leaves me wanting. I suppose I would also have liked to see the story be a little more historically sound and less a political rant. Still, it’s worth seeing on the big screen if you can get past the rhetoric.


Thursday, May 05, 2005

Review - Film - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy


The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Cher and I attended the premier of Hitchhiker’s at Regal Entertainment’s Continental 6 theater in Denver, Colorado. It was showing in the big theater – a renovated monster that seats a whole bunch of people. It is the biggest screen in Colorado and the theater where I saw the first showings of such notorious movies as, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Terminator 2, The Matrix, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Troy, and each the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It’s simply the biggest, best movie theater in town and the only place to see a big screen special effects movie.

Having eagerly devoured all of the books in the series and having seen the BBC series in its entirety, I was very excited about seeing this movie. I was concerned about the stylistic choices I observed in the previews. In the end, the stylistic choices were not all that big a deal. I liked both the hollowed out golf ball ship design and the stumpy version of Marvin the paranoid android. The guide cut scenes narrated by Stephen Fry were also charming and effective.

As far as the performances, I loved Martin Freeman’s portrayal of Arthur Dent and that of Mos Def’s Ford Prefect. Both were warm, funny, accessible and believable. I also enjoyed Trillian played by, Zooey Deschanel. She was witty and smart without appearing aloof or arrogant – a marked improvement over the BBC series. Marvin was voiced by Warwick Davis. He did a marvelous job of intoning the droning voice of the beloved manic-depressive drone. In an interesting choice, Deep Thought was voiced by, Helen Mirren and it really worked though I though it took me a moment to conceptualize the character as a female. Slartibartfast, played by Bill Nighy was also perfect as the slightly barmy architect of the fiords of earth.

On the flipside, I couldn’t stand Zaphod Beeblebrox, played by Sam Rockwell. He made some funny choices like that of enunciating his lines in a fashion that was consistent with the speech patterns of George W. Bush. I didn’t like the way they handled the portrayal of the character’s two heads it just felt too awkward. Zaphod is portrayed as a bumbling buffoon without dignity – something that the BBC series and the books don’t do. His narcissism is overstated and ends up dominating Mr. Rockwell’s performance which is the weakest, by far, in the entire production.

As the first book in the series it is, by definition, merely the beginning of the story and as such, it is entirely reasonable that, at the end of the film, the audience is left wanting more. I liked this movie and found it to be entertaining though it was not what I expected. It was neither as good as I might have hoped nor as bad as I feared. It was simply ok and maybe a little better than ok.


05.05.05 - Life Update

It’s May 5th, Cinco de Mayo, and it’s a warm and beautiful day. It’s currently seventy degrees and sunny – not too warm and not too cold. It’s also finals week on campus and so I, like many others, am scrambling to stuff any last minute information into my head that I can in preparation for finals. I have an “A” in two of my classes but the other two are borderline “B-A”. If I do well on the final in both classes, I should get an “A” in both. Everybody please cross your fingers and toes for me.

The wedding looks like it may be getting a bit bigger. We are still planning to have it on July 15. It looks like it will be an afternoon wedding in Boulder with a reception to follow in Lafayette. We are still thinking about renting the amphitheater but at $300 for 3 hours, we feel like we should have more people. I’ll be checking with people to see who wants to come before we finalize the location. It will be a relatively informal affair.

Unless something unexpected happens, like say I win the lotto, there will be no new motorcycle this year. That doesn’t however preclude picking up an older used bike. Cher and I love to ride and look forward longingly to having a bike of our own. All things in their own time I suppose…

I’m looking for Hospital work at the moment. I’d like to work as either a lab technician or a Phlebotomist though I have no idea how to get such a job. I need hospital experience to get into medical school. They want to be certain that you can handle bodily fluids that are not your own. J

I’ve been looking at my writing on the books I’ve read recently and they don’t really qualify as a review. I’m going to work on them a bit and add some ratings but they will still reflect mostly my response to reading the book rather than active criticism.

That’s it for today. Everyone have a good day!