Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bill Nighy is amazing

Though I've linked to this video before, I simply must do it again. Even if you've never watched Love Actually (though, as I wrote yesterday, you really should), you will be amazed by Bill Nighy as aging rocker Billy Mack in this video. The video as a whole never appeared in the movie, which showed us only snippets, but Richard Curtis was wise enough to make it anyway and use it as an extra on the DVD.

I can't get a firm count of all the videos Curtis is lampooning here, though "Addicted To Love" is clearly the most prominent.

Watch Nighy's hands, which he uses more oddly than any actor I know.


No email for me tonight

If you're trying to reach me on email, you might as well give up until after I wake up Saturday (afternoon, I hope). My provider is doing maintenance for most of the night, so I have no access to personal email. You'll have to catch me tomorrow. Sorry about that.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Is it Love Actually time already?

Why, yes, it is. Thank you for asking.

As long-time readers know, around this time each year, I hold a dinner and viewing of this fine Richard Curtis film, one of my very favorites movies. Tonight, we watched it again, and I found it as powerful and charming and moving as the first time I saw it years ago.

What amazes me about Love Actually is that even though I know what the director is doing, even though every tug on my heart strings is abundantly clear, it works, it just works. The magic parts--and there are many, many of those--retain their magic no matter how many times you see it. Just as importantly, the characters are real enough and there is enough pain sprinkled among the happy segments that the film, at least for me, never cloys.

And the plotting, ah, it is a joy to behold. Many details that pass by almost undetected prove to be important, and at the end you realize you've watched a masterful construction.

I also greatly admire director Richard Curtis' utter and complete dedication to pursuing the magic of love no matter where that chase leads him. If the story's logic calls for an otherwise insanely improbable event to occur, you can bet that event will come to pass--and it will make sense, story sense, that it does.

If you haven't seen Love Actually, I can't recommend it too highly. If you have, now is a grand time to watch it again.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Eating logic at our house

Email from Sarah to me in the middle of the afternoon today, a day in which snow and sleet fell all morning.

Hey Dad, when are you planning to come home tonight? And might there be a chance of ElDo? I hear they have seasonal decorations on their boat now.
What could I do? Ignoring the river of cheese at our favorite nearby Mexican place is always a risky proposition, and it's doubly so on a day of inclement weather.

We clearly had to go. In fact, we clearly needed two vats of cheese dip.

After eating, we discussed the menu options for tomorrow night's annual gathering to watch Love Actually. We considered going with traditional British food, but, well, you know. So, instead we settled on Indian; after all, some of the best Indian food I've ever eaten was in London.

Then began a game of give and take:
I need to go to a Barnes & Noble.

Did you know Barnes & Noble sells Cheesecake Factory cheesecakes?

That's right!

And what goes well with Indian food?


There's a Barnes & Noble in the shopping complex right across the street.

So there is!

The weather isn't all that bad...yet.


We were obviously meant to go.

Which is how, a short time after dinner, I found myself at a cash register in the corner of the local B&N buying a full cheesecake.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Check out the decked-out tree

We have quite a few holiday traditions, as you may have gathered from posts in this and past Decembers. One is a tree-trimming party, in which a group of us gather, string lights, hang a zillion ornaments, and eat dinner. Here, courtesy of Gina, is how the tree looks after tonight's party. (Click on any photo to see a bigger image.)

As you can see, the tree is now carrying a rather weighty coating of ornamentation.

What's a tree, though, without a lovely dog posing in front of it?

Hardly anything, Holden answers.

Neither Holden nor Pixil could stand to let the tree outshine them, so they turned into circus performers. Here's Pixil in full stretch, with Holden getting ready to join her.

Not to be outdone by his sister, Holden then showed how the big dog does it.

Yes, it is true: Holden is the best dog in the world.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


My friend and fellow writer, John Lambshead, recommended this BBC series to me when I wrote about the recent Sherlock Holmes film. Trusting John, I picked up the Blu-Ray collection when it became available. We finished watching the last of the three ninety-minute episodes tonight.

It was magnificent.

I was originally more than a bit suspicious of the concept of updating Holmes to today, but I relaxed as soon as I learned that the wonderful writer Steven Moffatt was one of its creators. Moffatt and co-creator Mark Gatiss indeed delivered the goods: taut tales full of vintage Holmes deduction and action--but all set in contemporary London.

The two lead actors, Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson, are superb and make a formidable, if rarely entirely in sync, partnership. Cumberbatch is a particular joy to watch, his haircut odd, his eyes odder, his movements frequently not quite human. Freeman's Watson is every bit as normal on the outside as Cumberbatch's Holmes is strange, but inside this Watson is an ex-soldier who can kill without remorse and who is still trying to find a place other than the battlefield in which he belongs.

If you've ever been a Holmes fan, catch these shows on TV or buy a DVD set, but do not miss them.

I already regret that the BBC won't broadcast the next series until August and so I will not get to watch them until about a year from now.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Yeah, we like a big Christmas tree

Long-time readers may recall that last year's try was a stately beast that stood about ten feet tall.

Some of us thought it was a fine size.

The more sensible among us (for a sufficiently loose definition of "sensible") disagreed. In fact, that group--Sarah, Scott, and I--felt we had erred on the conservative side. We are, after all, the folks who use a thirty-five-pound, industrial stand rated to hold trees up to fifteen feet tall.

No point in not being prepared.

We vowed not to be quite as conservative this year.

The result is the one you can see in this picture, which I took right after we stood up the tree. It's already a great deal broader as the branches are slowly descending.

To give you a little perspective, Scott is in tennis shoes and so is standing close to 5'11".

Yeah, we're closer to twelve feet at the very peak this year.

Oh, yeah, that's a tree.

Wait'll we get the lights and approximately 3.7 million ornaments on it.

On a completely unrelated note, some folks I care about are going through some rough times right now. They're feeling alone, as if no one understands them or what they've been through or are enduring now. To some degree, of course, they're right; each of our experiences is unique. In a greater sense, though, they are not alone. I'm here, others who care about them are around, and even if only in spirit, we are with them. I've linked to this song before, but it fits now, for them, so I'll use it again. (Sorry about the commercial; it's the cost of a free, high-quality video.)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The weather outside is frightful

and so has sapped my will to blog. All I want to do is hide in the bed. It's cold and wet and much like living under an old gray dog blanket that's been in the woods covering a kid's fort during three weeks of steady rain.

Here's a snapshot from a local weather service of a main road here.

So, news of my company's party and last night's UFC fights will have to wait another day.

Trust me: if you were here, you'd agree with this choice.


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