We keep ourselves pretty busy these days. Well, we certainly manage to fill the time with something and hopefully most of it is worth the time we spend on it. So, this one is a week late, but with good reason. There’s always a few highlights, though:
Footrace – Independence Day morning Angela and I participated in a Fourth of July 5k/10k in downtown Nashville. Running is always a good way to see a city and this was a really nice race (even with a bit of rain on us). I did the two loops to make a 10k which (sadly) marked the longest run I’ve been on in about 15 months. Angela and Ainsley did the 5k which both mommy and daughter seemed to enjoy as well. Here’s to getting back into shape!
Running with Ainsley – We recently got a bike trailer/ running stroller combo. Since we don’t yet have a baby-sized helmet, we’ve only used it for running on a couple of occasions. However, it’s really great for us all to get out and run together. One of the tough things about trying to keep in shape with a little one in our lives has been having to find the time for us to go out separately so the other could watch her. This handy little gadget solves that problem, whether we want to run or bike. It’s too bad we don’t bring the dogs with us. I’ll tell you why though: imagine trying to run while holding a pair of ropes which are attached at the other ends to a pair of missiles, each with a missing tail-fin. That’s what it’s like to run with two terriers.
Nashville Zoo – We got a family membership to the Nashville Zoo on Saturday and spent several hours walking around. It’s really nice (and this after having gone to the San Diego Zoo back in April).
We were in such a Zoo mood, we even went up to Opry Mills to eat at the Aquarium Restaurant afterwards. Dave & Steph came out to hang out with us for a while, as well.
Fireworks – It’s the fourth of July and that means firework displays. The one in Nashville is really nice. Frank & Sandi go to see them with us on their way back to Alabama.
Lisa Loeb – She has a new album out called Camp Lisa and it’s – yep! – a collection of camp songs. She is doing some in store shows at Barnes & Noble and we got to see her this past Monday evening. My brother Dave also came out to see her and to hang out with us (he’s a big fan).
Ah, you didn’t think I had been doing nothing all this time, right? Of course not. Here’s a few things that have been occupying my free time:
Chasing the Baby – She finally figured out crawling a couple of weeks ago. People had told me that one day she’d just get it and then she’d be crawling everywhere and getting into everything. Somehow I had assumed that this would be a phase spread out of a week or two, at least. No, it literally happened that fast. One evening Angela sat her down, and she just suddenly crawled over to my guitar and started trying to pull it over onto her. She’s been into everything can reach since that moment.
"The Wire – Season Three" – This show is just as good as everyone says it is. It’s a wonderful balance of personal stories and commentary on modern life. Heavy, of course, but not without a sense of humor. However, you cannot watch this around your 10 month old daughter. As a matter of fact, the swearing and violence is even a bit too high for Angela. Therefore…
Wii Fit – Though we have a couple of other Wii games that we play a lot, as well (Mario Kart Wii and Dr. Mario), Wii Fit is really a different experience. Though it uses a lot of game-like conventions, it actually is taking a gaming console and changing how you can use it. When (and it’s not as often as I need, anymore) I go running, I can put that on my training calendar. Regardless of what exercise I do or do not do, the game monitors and tracks my weight loss progress. The exercises it offers are real and the feedback is truly helpful to improve balance, flexibility, and strength. Now, if we only had a bigger living room to do those push-up/side planks in!
"Star Trek – Enterprise" – Despite the network’s many horrible choices for programming (Wrestling? Seriously? WTF, SciFi!? At least your stupid B movies and reality shows have something to do with your channel’s original line-up.), they do manage to get some great syndicated series. Enterprise was my favorite ST since Next Generation, by far. I watched the first couple of seasons but unfortunately fell out of it (it was pre-TiVo for us). Now I can catch up. Too bad these weren’t in HD, though.
Dungeons & Dragons – 4th Edition – Yeah, I know. The fantasy kick continues. It’s kind of hard to explain. A part of me feels like I never really got to play D&D with a serious group as a kid. When I tried, the rules were cumbersome and we never got through anything. Now, I’ve found some folks who live around here, are my age and have similar interests, and who kindly let me come join a game. It’s been an absolute blast. I’ll expand on some of this in the near future, but if you’ve ever thought about playing a table-top RPG (and probably even if you haven’t), the new edition of D&D is really a fantastic game.
"Dragonlance" – When I was a kid, "Dragonlance" was the coolest D&D setting (at least to my pal, TJ, and I – he even had the campaign book). An animated film was released to DVD in January of the first of the original trilogy of novels. You know, the sort of the thing that every kid dreams about as they read fantasy novels at age 12? Ah, even at that age, I’d have understood just how bad this adaptation was. I was depressed but happened upon a fantastic graphic novel by Devil’s Due Publishing of the same series of novels made me almost completely forget what an awful film Dragons of Autumn Twilight was. I even picked up a new novel by the same authors, which so far has been quite enjoyable.
Krull – Speaking of D&D and my childhood (the two of which are pretty closely linked), I learned from IMDb that the 80’s fantasy film Krull was originally to be the first official "Dungeons & Dragons" movie. I went back and watched it and too things struck me: A) it doesn’t really resemble D&D at all and B) it wasn’t nearly as good a movie as I remembered it being (Great way to start a career, there, Liam Neeson!). Then I realized that pretty much all movies based on D&D have been awful: Krull, Dungeons & Dragons, Dragons of Autumn Twilight. When a movie by the SciFi channel is the best of the back, that’s just plain sad. I think Wizards of the Coast should encourage a TV series, instead. Better yet: more graphic novels.
Graphic Novels – Having read the graphic novel of Dragons of Winter Night, I went in search of more graphic novels to feed my endless need for scifi and fantasy. Oh boy, did I find them: Aliens, Predators, Aliens vs. Predators, Conan the Barbarian, G.I. Joe… okay that last one isn’t really scifi, but did I mention childhood nostalgia? Maybe that’s a better theme here. Anyway, I’ve been on a graphic novel kick and, despite it being a rather pricey habit, it has been very rewarding. A lot of these really represent some great comic book artform and I’ve determined are often my best hope for amazing fantasy visuals, gripping plotlines, and epic characters. They sure as hell aren’t to be found in any of the movies.
Audiobooks – Lastly, I’ve also been on something of an audiobook habit (more posts to follow on this subject). I was able to find some really great audiobooks by R. A. Salvatore and Michael Moorcock; two men who write about troubled anti-heroes with long, white hair. I even found audiobooks for that original Dragonlance trilogy I mentioned. There’s just one drawback to the audiobooks: I used to listen to these (along with podcasts) on my commute. Now that I hardly drive at all, it’s going to me forever to listen to them all!
Well, before you give me a wedgie and shove inside my locker along side my Player’s Manual, I should also say that I’ve been enjoying Season Two of The Wire, as well as all this fantasy stuff. Perhaps that explains it: I needed something whimsical and out-of-this-world to balance out the dark, gritty nature of a show like the The Wire. At least, that’s why I keep telling myself.
Angela and I have been watching Judd Apatow’s “Undeclared” via Netflix. It’s not nearly as good as "Freaks and Geeks” but still better than your average comedy. Most of this, by Apatow’s description is due to the fact that the really good stuff that goes on at college can’t be shown on network television. True, that. Anyone wanting to go see Knocked Up, please give me a call.
Last night, we went to see Son Volt at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens. Last week was Big Head Todd & the Monsters. Two really good bands. Frankly, I didn’t have too high of hopes for the Son Volt show as the “reunion” of that band feels a lot like Jay Farrar cashing in on the relative success of the band as compared to his solo career (especially last month’s new album, which I found disappointing). However, I really like Farrar’s songs, be they Son Volt, solo career, or Uncle Tupelo – all of which got some play-time last night.
Per everyone-I-know’s recommendations, I read the late Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s "Slaughterhouse Five" recently. Well, after having read the book, of course the next thing to do is see the movie (no, not really – I think it’s a shame that the general notion seems to be that the highest status a novel can have is to be made into a film). So last weekend, I watched the 1972 movie based on the book. I was fairly pleased with how it got portrayed and apparently, Vonnegut was, too.
Last, but probably the most important, Angela and I really enjoyed the baby shower our friends Holly and Meg threw for us at also-friend Jessica’s house. It was great and we were simply amazed at how generous our friends are. We clearly have no idea what we’re doing with this whole baby thing (apparently just like everyone else, knowledge that has kept us going). However, in addition to the really great gifts that everyone went out of their way to get us (and mail us, too!), having people to count on is a big deal. Thanks, everyone.
Well, it’s been two weeks since I last did this, so I should have plenty of fun things, right? I’ve been soon busy with work and house stuff, I’m not sure…
Watching “Waiting for Godot.” After being publicly shamed, I figured I’d better see what all the fuss is about. I tried to watch a taped version of the play on Google Video, but it was really poor quality (in all the ways it can be). However, the “
Beckett on Film” version I rented from Netflix was very enjoyable. I found myself actually laughing allowed at some of the very dry humor (at least it was dry in this interpretation).
Big budget, summer blockbuster movies. Pirates 3 didn’t make any sense plot-wise, but was fun. It seems like everybody’s favorite part was the surrealist Davy-Jones’ Locker scene. A lot of that comes from Johnny Depp’s charm in the films but director Gore Verbinski deserves a lot of credit for putting a very odd scene in a blockbuster film. Here’s hoping Transformers is equally entertaining.
Angela and I finished up watching "Freaks And Geeks," the short-lived 1999 television show by Paul Feig and Judd Apatow. The show’s 18 episodes are consistently good both in writing and acting. We just got the first disc of Apatow’s follow-up show "Undeclared" and are looking forward to seeing Knocked Up soon.
Speaking of television, I’ve been watching some episodes of ABC’s "Notes From the Underbelly" at their website. Apparently loosely based on a novel of the same name, the pilot episode was terrific and subsequent episodes have been fairly good, although not great. The humor hits home, though, as it does it’s best when making fun of neurotic first-time parents-to-be like Angela and I. Surprisingly (mainly just because I like it), the show will be back next season.
And finally, something not related to film or television, we’ve been really enjoying getting baby stuff together. We finished up most of the nursery for our little girl and on top of that, people have been sending us all sorts of cool baby stuff. We really appreciate all the kindness and help (keep it coming, good people!). It’d be silly to say I was enjoying that a lot. We’re having our first baby shower tomorrow and it should be a hoot.
I’m trying to make this a weekly thing, but who knows how long it’ll last.
Another week flew by me and I’m not sure where it went. That’s more the norm than not I suppose. Here’s a few things, in no particular order that have been interesting and enjoyable this week:
Getting to see inside me by having an MRI done. I’ve been learning some about medical imaging in the past few months with baby ultrasounds for Angela as well as x-rays and MRIs for me. It’s all amazing stuff and makes me really appreciate modern medicine and our ability to see what is happening inside us without ever opening us up. Of course, the cost for all this imaging is still high enough to make it as common as I expect it someday will be, so that makes me appreciate having good insurance.
Having a good boss. Okay, he doesn’t read this so don’t assume it’s for his benefit or anything. However, I’ve had some bad jobs before and I’ve been lucky to work for people sense college that allowed me to work in my own style instead of some rigid framework. Work has been insanely hectic for the past couple of months and that’s going to continue for a while in the future. However, my boss never beats me up about it. He’s demanding, but not unreasonable and that’s about the best you can hope for in this kind of work.
Okay, just so you don’t think this is some thanksgiving list, I’ve also been loving three new albums I downloaded this week. Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky is kind of a continuation of A Ghost is Born; some quirky and soft melodies punctuated with some rockin’ moments. Not having listened to Modest Mouse for all that long, I can’t say if We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank is much of a progression for that band since their last album, but I can say I like it a lot. After seeing The Avett Brothers last week, I can see why my friend Chris likes them so much. Their live album on iTunes – Live, Vol. 2 – seems to capture a lot of their live shows and “Pretty Girl From Annapolis” has been stuck in my head for days, now. I need to pick up their new album as well.
I got on a Futurama kick a few days ago and have been watching a number of episodes off of Comedy Central (I only occasionally watched it first run in my pre-TiVo days). It’s best moments are using Fry & Co. to make commentary about modern life (this must have been the inspiration for Idiocracy…). It’s most boring moments to me are showing once again how annoying Dr. Zoidberg is or how crass Bender is.
This weekend is the Lebanese festival in Richmond. Angela went to lunch there with some of her co-workers, as did one of my co-workers, and they said it was great. Angela is going to take me to dinner there this evening. I haven’t enjoyed it just yet, but I know I will!
Here’s a list of Five Fun Things I’ve been enjoying lately, in no significant order (other than No. 1):
Feeling our baby girl kick for the first time last Sunday morning. That was awesome.
Super Paper Mario on the Wii – Not a very hard game, but loads of fun to play and very funny, too.
Lost – Last night’s episode was proof they haven’t ‘lost’ it. Picking an end date means they’ll have a definite road map for the rest of the show to keep it great, unlike earlier this year when it seemed to be flopping. (Watch it on ABC’s site) Heroes owes a lot to Lost, and has really been building up to a great season finale. Both have been filling the hole left in my heart when Season 3 of BG ended.
Pandora.com – All the recent news about the possibility of losing Internet radio made me realize just how awesome this site is.
Freaks & Geeks from Netflix. I wish I had caught this show when it was first aired, but I don’t think my watching would have saved it for another season.
So what about any of you? Leave a comment or post it on your own site (be sure to ping me, trackback or just leave a link if you do!).