Friday, September 01, 2006

Day Off:

In theory I took the day off to perform a task that I thought would be both monumental and expensive. It was neither.

When our house was inspected, the inspector wrote that the patch of burned out dirt on the west side of our house (between the house and the cinderblock wall) needed soil. Erosion had apparently taken its natural course and the inspector made a note that continued erosion could get water under the foundation, which, of course, would mean the house would float away. Or something.

We were to add soil, angled away from the house. Technically, a professional was to add the soil, but I figured I'm as professional as the next guy when it comes to moving dirt around with a shovel, so I dubbed myself a landscape architect for the day (and while I was at it, I was also a master geologist) and got to work.

So Wednesday night, after I sold my post-1998 Star Wars figure and vehicle collection to my LCS-owner, I headed to Lowe's where I bought 15 bags of "all-purpose top soil". At $2.43 a bag, I figured that if 15 bags wasn't enough, it wasn't a big deal to come back and purchse more soil, but I also had done no math before leaving the house, so I wasn't sure if the 15 cubic feet would be enough.

This morning I woke up at 6:00, ate a Power Bar, and, at the inspector's direction, laid soil at an angle in order to keep the water from flowing under the house. The entire job, plus time at Lowe's, took maybe an hour. So by 8:00, I was using the remaining five bags of dirt to add soil to my cactus garden, fill Mel's trench (Mel dug one hole in this yard. We do not know why it was a single hole, or why he dug it next to the porch. It's been there for three years. We filled it once and he dug it again), and generally put dirt in places that I thought maybe could use a little all-purpose top soil. Add water to settle the soil, and voila! I had the whole day ahead of me.

I spoke to my neighbor of six months for the first time. We're both moving out in mid-September. Go figure. Our new house has a front porch (two of them, but who's counting?), so I hope this means I might actually meet a neighbor or two if I go outside to read or whatever once we're settled in.

I also got to watch single-Mom across the street chase down her kid for day 2 (I had seen her do it on Wednesday, too) as he made a mad break for the park rather than get in the car for day-care. That is one kid who wants to go the jungle gym.

We did some packing and whatnot in the morning and, as we're a bit ahead of schedule (we have two more weeks and I think we'll be done packing by Monday night), we went to go see Little Miss Sunshine.

At the risk of being called Satan by all the folks who adored this movie, I thought it was okay, but it wasn't something I particularly want to own on DVD. It was funny. The actors were all very good (especially the titular star of the film, who I suspect was mostly playing herself). I more or less liked the flow of the script, but I thought the actors mostly overcame the directing more than they were guided by the directing.

I'd be curious to know what bits were cut from the movie. Toni Collette was good, but it seemed as if her storyline had mostly been excised from the film except as a few throw-away lines about a messy divorce (it's only insinuated but never stated that Kinnear's character is not Dwayne's father) and issues with personal finance.


The story also makes an abrupt turn to the absurd in the Scottsdale/ Phoenix portion of the film that went from daffy family road trip into riffing on one of the "National Lampoon's Vacation" films. Not only did they lift the "let's drive with the dead relative" gimmick, but it happened in the same damn city as in "Vacation". The movie shows every weekend on some cable outlet, and its inevitable that the viewer would draw comparisons (or at least this viewer who has seen Vacation almost as many times as "Empire Strikes Back"). I'm not sure how that scene made it into the film, or why they felt it was necessary in an otherwise fairly grounded movie.

The family's inability to grieve what would be a considerable loss put the whole structure of the film in jeopardy, reminding this viewer that these are characters, and not people. Real (sane) people do not decide to continue on to a talent show when they're dealing with their dead father. Or at least they'd send part of the party along and leave one person behind to deal with the paperwork. It just felt unnecessary and inserted purely for the following scene with the police officer.


Is the movie worth seeing? Sure. Go nuts. Is it phenomenal..?
You know what? I liked Superman Returns a whole lot, so what the hell do I know?

I don't feel it's as fresh and new as everyone is claiming. For long stretches the movie felt like little bits lifted from other movies. But it also isn't bad. I don't want anybody to think that. I guess maybe I saw a lot of potential in the movie and it stopped frustratingly close to where I think it could have gone, and that's usually the kind of movie that elicits the longest posts from me. Again, I wonder how much of that wound up on the cutting room floor.


We wrapped up the night by watching the conclusion of "Who Wants to be a Superhero?", and I mean conclusion and not climax. Anyone who didn't see that ending coming needs to take some remedial courses in "reality" television.

I more or less suspected Feedback or Major Victory had it in the bag from day one. If you pegged it from how these programs work and what they needed to be be able to do for the Sci-Fi original movie, I think everyone got what they needed out of the show. I will be picking up my Feedback comic as soon as it hits the shelf. I'm curious to see what they do with the character and if Matthew, the guy who dreamed up Feedback, will be involved in actually writing the comic in any way. After all, he dreamed up the character, but surely made the classic comic creator mistake of signing away the rights to a franchise when he signed the form to appear on the show at all.

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