Saturday, December 27, 2008

as if anyone cares...

Today was pretty nifty. We stepped outside to head for a breakfast at Curra's (Jamie, Kristen, Doug and me) and it was unseasonably warm. I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt.

Once on Ben White, we could literally see a clear edge to the front coming through, and by the time we were at Curra's we decided that it was too cold to sit outside. I had also been informed I was somewhat hi-jacked and we were headed either for a movie or the zoo (not that I didn't want to go, but nobody likes suddenly learning that they aren't headed out on the mission they thought they were on).

Anyhoo, since we were already eating, going to The Alamo to see a movie I didn't care to see held little appeal, and everyone else wanted to go to the zoo, too, so off we headed.

If you've never been to The Austin Zoo, I highly recommend it. It doesn't have the massive gazelle herds of, say, the San Antonio zoo. But what they've done with their space and resources is pretty spectacular. Not to mention that some of their key attractions are rescue animals.

You know how you read about people keeping lions or tigers in their yards? It seems that many of their big cats come from such situations, or from circuses that probably never should have taken on big cats as a side-show item in the first place. Anyhoo, the lions, tigers and leopards are given a pretty nice place to call home, lots of loving attention and fawning admirers. And you can get up fairly close to their enclosures, enough so that the big cats are used to it and don't mind that you're five feet away.

I would post pictures, but, again, I had no idea I was going to the zoo, so... no camera.

Also, many, many different kinds of monkeys and primates. And interesting birds, but not an overwhelming collection, I think.

This evening we headed back to San Marcos for dinner. Tomorrow Kristen heads back to Berkeley, so we most likely will not see her again for several months. Perhaps a Bay Area trip is in our future?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Society of the Advancement of Dave

Holy cow! Dave Campbell is back!

You might remember Dave from the site "Dave's Long Box", a comic, humor, whatever site.

Anyway, I used to check in Dave quite a bit, and I look forward to doing so once more in a non-work related capacity (Dave actually parlayed his blogging prowess into a job for the ABC network).

Anyway, welcome back Dave, and welcome "The Society for the Advancement of Dave" to the blog-o-shpere.

Eartha Kitt Merges with the Infinite

Eartha Kitt, actor, singer and part of the Bat-firmament as one of three talented women to play Catwoman in the classic Batman television program, has passed away.

Kitt is also known for her version of "Santa Baby" (if you're hearing it on the radio or at the mall, that's Kitt's voice). She had a long and prolific career, including, I recall, cabs in New York on the 1990's using a pre-recorded message from Kitt asking you to buckle up (I still recall turning to Jason in the cab and blurting out "That's Eartha Kitt!").

Kitt never seemed to lose her joie de vivre, and never minded talking about either "Santa, Baby" or Catwoman. She'll be missed but not forgotten.

Other Side of Christmas - 2008

Hey Leaguers!

I hope you had a holly, jolly Christmas (it's the best time of the year).

This year Jamie and I had Christmas with her folks, Doug and Kristen, with most of the Christmassy activity centered at Jamie's folks' house down in San Marcos. Luckily, it was very nice outside, so we were able to take Melbotis and Lucy down with us (Jeff stayed behind to watch the house).

The McBrides have their big Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day in order to maximize Christmas Day lounging. It was about as traditional meal as you'll find with turkey, dressing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, etc... Which Judy did almost entirely by herself. And, I might say, outdid herself this year. This was followed by Judy's Christmas morning quiche, the traditional cinnamon roll wreath, and more.

We did the annual present exchange (I did well, thank you), and I think everyone did okay this year in the loot department.

There's been no small amount of discussion of the "Twilight" series of books (and movies) which are about not-really-Vampires. Jamie and Judy have read all of them, and Kristen is making her way through. And yet not Doug, Dick nor myself have yet to feel any inkling of curiosity about the series.

I did talk to The Admiral, KareBear and Steanso on Christmas Day. It sounded like their Holiday was going swimmingly.

We've got some tired dogs on our hands today as Lucy and Mel spent two days out in the McBride's big backyard and with a fairly steady stream of folks stepping out to throw the ball for them. Mel was in a bit of a blue funk in the week or so headed into Christmas as it was cold and his old bones do not love the cold the way they once did, and it was tough to get him outside for any length of time on his own. He was much peppier with the sun (probably the best present he could have received).

I, myself, am way off schedule on sleep, caffeine intake, etc... So I am unsure if I've been appropriately peppy during all the festivities.

Anyhow, we're now on the other side of Christmas, and that's always a pretty good time. Hopefully we'll use the freetime a bit more wisely than usual before I return to work than I have in previous vacations. I am going to try to do some organizing of CD's and books, sort some comics, and get to the garage after New Year as part of the Christmas decoration breakdown.

I hope everyone's Christmas went well.

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's a Wonderful Life

"It's a Wonderful Life" is a movie a surprising number of people haven't actually seen all the way through. Given the homage, parodies, etc... and insertion of clips of the film into countless other Holiday movies, I think a lot of folks think they've made it all the way through, but when you really press them, they know the story but aren't all that familiar with the original movie.

There was a very interesting story in the New York Times recently that discussed the discrepancy between how many people (in my experience, usually those who've never actually watched the film) believe it to be schmaltzy and painting a sugar coating on the world, when those who know the film a bit better know... that isn't "It's a Wonderful Life" at all. At the same time, I found the article a bit confusing as it seemed to conflate the common misconceptions about the movie with the reality presented in the movie, and without much credit given in the way of historical context regarding what life might have actually been like during the film's release.

Ah, the Holidays...

And, he takes a dig at "Bells of St. Mary's", which was actually a hugely popular movie of the era, earning a couple of Academy Awards and a huge number of nominations.

I saw "It's a Wonderful Life" the first time on television in the late 80's, before a copyright dispute got it yanked from the airwaves where it had been a favorite of UHF channels for years (the sitcom Cheers had a gag about how, in December, their UHF affiliate became "It's a Wonderful Network" showing the movie over and over).

It's easy enough to latch onto the message at the end of the movie, which is probably why the movie gets props even from those who consider it a bit sugary. We'd all like to believe our lives are worth something, not just to us, but to the people we're around and who matter to us. And if we've lived well, perhaps our value goes well beyond that.

And certainly, the movie means something far different when you see it when you're young versus how you see it as an adult and you, also, perhaps never boarded that steam ship and maybe life isn't quite as full of adventure as you'd hoped... And I'm not sure that the article's author gives full props to the fact that George Bailey doesn't want to toss himself off a bridge because of his legal troubles, but because of how he feels he's spent his life in a manner he never intended, and now he may be going away for a long, long time thanks to the mistakes of one of the folks he's carried with him.

I think that unless you're living a pretty awesome life, then there are very few people out there who can't relate a little to George Bailey.

There's actually some pretty entertaining stuff about how cool Pottersville looks compared to Bedford Falls, and in an America where the ideal vacation is in Las Vegas where they serve you free drinks as long as you keep gambling, its hard to argue the point. Maybe a vice-ridden town didn't equate to prosperity in anyone's book in 1947ish, but, hey... all I'm saying is that apparently you could pick up dames like Gloria Grahame. That's sort of jolly.

Swingingest neighborhood in Capraland

"It's a Wonderful Life" delivers pretty well on trying to demonstrate the value of the life of the everyman, that we effect more than we believe and our lives do have value. It's an interesting message for this time of year, when the "should be's" of the Holiday season are so much more apparent and painful when we're at our lowest. And that's, really, who the movie is for.

It's also important to note that before George's financial situation resolves itself that he's already at peace with his life, and, in fact grateful for it. I won't say that the deus ex machina of the tidy ending dilutes the film's conclusion and moral denouement, because its meant to reinforce the message of how one man is always more valued than he realizes. But its interesting, too, that its all gravy as far as George Bailey is concerned.

I used to watch the movie every year, but I think I'm now pacing myself. It's a movie I don't just like, but I actually believe in. Sure, it's sentimental, but to try to say its saccharine when you consider the sort of DOA Holiday junk we've been getting since, I think, Scrooged. I'll take a movie that isn't "Christmas with the Kranks", "Jingle all the Way", "Deck the Halls" or "Four Christmases"... secular Christmas movies that focus incessantly on the annoyances of the holiday/ having a family who loves you.

I'm not going to try to convince you. But give the article a read. If you get a chance, watch the movie.

I forgot to post

I don't often forget to post, but... I did.

Anyway, here's The 11 Most Badass Last Words from the good people at Cracked.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Apparently not satisfied with merely forcing Santa down the chimney under duress, Superman then enters the Yuletide scene in an effort to swipe Kris Kringle's thunder.

Oh, Superman. You love Christmas too much.