August 12th, 2007



Much of yesterday I spent with my brother's family, who were recovering from their Friday flights from Virginia to Oregon. That part of my family is my brother Thomas Munroe Walsh, Jr. (a.k.a. either T.J. or "Teej"; I like that we managed to reduce his seven-syllable name to one syllable), his wife Cindy, and their 5-year-old twin sons Robbie and Eric. They were (my parents' term) "rummy-dummy" when they arrived, and had I visited them Friday night I'd've needed to sleep in a sleeping bag which I didn't want to do, so I waited until the next morning to visit. We were all much more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed by Saturday...

In fact, chasing (and being chased by) the boys around my folks' large backyard ensued. So did the posting of sticky-notes to all sorts of things in the not-quite-kid-proofed house, saying things like "Do Not Touch," "Okay To Touch" and "Do Not Move Signs Around." The boys are smart enough (even when they get a little ornery) to know what those notes mean. Yes, reading comprehension helps much, it's good to see!

In the afternoon we drove out to a playground, and Robbie and Eric made a friend, a four-year-old boy named Coda who was hanging out near his family's picnic and riding a three-wheeled scooter (properly helmeted, too; well-trained kid). My nephews also climbed playground equipment with a fair amount of aplomb. We said "Yay!" more than once. Too bad they missed the puppy; a young man brought his eight-week-old Yellow Lab-Australian Shepherd mix Shadow to the playground and got him to ride the slides, which was phenomenally cute. Shadow was an enthusiastic young boy, I'm happy to say. Driving back to the house we passed another playground, with a large red climbing net that looked really neat. And as the boys are getting into Spider-Man, they'd probably especially enjoy that playground.

Saturday night's dinner was an exercise in meeting the boys' diet needs (T.J. and Cindy have them on a gluten-free, casein-free diet; in other words, rice, chicken and veggies are their friends) and in showing the kids what the big word "compromise" means. Eric, for whatever 5-year-old reasons, didn't want the light on over the kitchen table, and kept walking over to the light switch and turning it off. So my Dad took a break from cooking pasta (wheat pasta in tomato sauce for the adults, rice pasta in cool animal shapes and with pesto sauce for the boys, and nicely-seasoned chicken chunks for all of us) to adjust the light to its least-amount-of-light setting. That satisfied all of us. At least satisfied us enough.

Today this midday, almost the whole fam-damily (as we say) will pile into cars to go to Sun River, in the Oregon Cascades, and they'll stay in a house there until Wednesday or Thursday. I won't be able to go (work + a doctor's appointment = Oh You're No Fun Anymore), so I hope they take photos. I wish them fun, and the energy to have said fun! No surprise, 5-year-old twins can take a lot of energy from you...
  • Current Music
    OK Go, "Here It Goes Again" (mentally)

I'm a fanboy; of course I've seen Stardust!

I'll be seeing the film version of Stardust again, with my friend Alicia alongside me (sounds like it could use the help). I'm still happily flashing on lots of moments from it...

It's been several years since I read Neil Gaiman's original novel (to sum up: young half-human/half-faery boy goes from our world to faery world, has adventures, falls in love, becomes a man, all that), so I'm not able or inclined to run down the "they changed this and that and this other thing!" litany. What strikes me big-time about the flick is how packed it is: full of plot threads that miraculously don't tangle on each other, with a nicely off-hand way of making some major revelations and even handling some of the movie's deaths in a darkly funny way (I'm thinking of the seven brothers; I'll say no more). It's frequently manic without ever slopping over into goofiness, and it emphasizes Gaiman's sillier side, which isn't always as obvious as Gaiman's precise, poetic, economy-of-words, myth-loving side.

And, more obviously, it's a joyful film. Love happens; it's that kind of fairy tale, one with romantic comedy thrown in and where you know that the people who start out hating each other will turn out to be perfect for each other. The people in question are Tristan (changed from Tristram in the novel and played by Charlie Cox), the son of a human father and a faery woman, and Yvaine (Claire Danes), a fallen star -- literally -- who's been knocked out of the sky because a dying king did one last magical act. (Yes, magic happens, too. In fact, I really like Stardust's use of magic, which has side effects and consequences that are frequently hilarious, like Yvaine and Tristan's escape from the inn.) Danes really throws herself into playing the ornery Yvaine (a side of her that the ads mysteriously omit, to Neil Gaiman's annoyance), a young woman utterly non-enthused about getting dragged across half of creation by a kid. It's great seeing Danes's forceful side; the story wouldn't work if Yvaine were some sort of quavering waif. (This is the story described as "the fairy tale that won't behave," so that forcefulness is even more appropriate...) And the energy that results from this key personality-collision turns out to be a joyful energy. It's enough to make me forgive the loss of Yvaine's original opening line from the novel.

And speaking of joyful energy, I and the audience absolutely loved Robert DeNiro. Yay for him doing comedy again, and reminding us he can be good at it!

WARNING! Film-music fanboy bit:
My inner Michael Kamen fanboy was happy to hear some very Kamen-style flourishes in Ilan Eshkeri's score (though I wasn't as happy to hear that the music for the confrontation in the inn sounded way too much like Wojciech Kilar's "Vampire Hunters" theme from Bram Stoker's Dracula; methinks someone had Eshkeri ape the temp score a little too closely there), so I was happily surprised to find that the composer worked with the same music producer (Stephen McLaughlin) as Kamen did, so that could explain the influence. (It also might explain why Shawn Levy didn't like the music; I don't think he's a fan of that style.)
End of film-music fanboy bit

If you can't tell I had a blast at Stardust, then you just can't read English.
iAm iSaid

The Phantom Debit

I confused myself. (Nice change of pace from confusing others, huh...)

I keep receipts. Being in San Francisco a week ago, darting and jumping through that city without my usual pens on-hand, I was super-conscious of my receipts because I wasn't updating my checkbook or my little list of credit card purchases. After I got home Monday (finally, though to be honest it was actually very early Tuesday when I got home), I started sorting that jumble of slick paper. I saw one I couldn't account for. A Monday afternoon purchase that I didn't remember, at a time when I was walking from my hotel to the nearest BART station, for an amount that didn't make sense. My response: "...Zuh?"

I wracked my brain for a while, checking my bank account online (great invention, definitely) for the debit to appear, and left a line empty in my checkbook register to enter it once I knew what It was. Yes, I'm anal like that. I'm finally guessing my best guess: I think it was someone else's receipt, made in the Powell Street BART station right before I got there, and I grabbed it and pocketed it (maybe thinking I'd throw it in the trash and just forgetting to do that).

So you're welcome, Anonymous BART Rider Person! Your receipt is safe!
  • Current Mood
    chipper chipper

Back from Pirates of the Caribbean 3

Heh. It's good I don't have to write a genuine review of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, 'cause really only two words are coming to my mind after seeing that and those words are
That is all.

Except that maybe Terry Gilliam might want a few images back. (...says he who once declared The Adventures of Baron Munchausen one of the favorite films of his life...)