Monthly Archives: May 2011

“Kung Fu Panda 2”: A Fun Sequel

The Dragon Warrior, Furious Five, and Master Shifu return!

Summer seems to be sequel time at the movies. First, we saw “Pirates of the Caribbean 4.” Over the weekend we continued that quest for more of the same with “Kung Fu Panda 2.” Like with “Pirates,” all four of us enjoyed this animated adventure.

Po is out of control!

All of the talented voice actors return for the sequel, as Po the panda (voiced by Jack Black), who was raised by a goose, wonders about what happened to his real parents.

Po’s nemesis is an evil peacock.

In typical Po style, he didn’t realize that the goose wasn’t his biological father (really, Po?) until he had visions of his panda parents as he tries to take down an evil peacock named Lord Shen (voiced by Gary Oldman, aka Sirius Black). When it looks like Lord Shen might win the battle to conquer China, Po discovers he needs to believe in himself and be more mature if he wants to save his country.

This really is a fun sequel that parents can enjoy watching with their kids. See it and believe in the power of the panda!

Let Us Not Forget

A small park in our community honors one of our own.

Today is so much more than the unofficial start of summer. On this Memorial Day, let us take a few moments to remember the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can be free.

The wind blows the small American flags near the sign.

My walk this morning took me to my community’s little park that is named in honor of Lance Cpl. Garrett Gamble, who died a year ago in Afghanistan. I stood in front of the park’s sign and thought about how this brave, young, local hero was taken from his loving family much too soon. Thank you, Garrett. Rest in peace.

Pool Fun

My younger son prepares to lift his older brother.

Now that our pool has water in it again, my sons have enjoyed cooling off in it. And pretending it’s a water park.

We have lift-off!

When we put in the pool nine years ago and the boys were younger and lighter, the Mister used to act like a ride at Schlitterbahn and lift them up in their tubes and toss them from the shallow to the deep end. Our sons loved it!

#2 is about to launch #1 towards the deep end.

And I loved that unlike the real water park, there wasn’t an excessive amount of tattoos and a distinct and undesirable lack of enough bathing suit material on people who really need to cover up as much as possible. The real Schlitterbahn is not a visual feast. Ugh!

Splash down!

These days the strongest member of our family seems to be our almost 16-year-old son (his birthday is Wednesday!). He’s taken over for his father when it comes to being the best Schlitterbahn ride, with his older brother being the beneficiary.

My #1 son enjoyed his brief ride.

After launching his brother into the air a number of times, my younger teen insisted that it was his turn to be Schlitterbahned (yeah, I made that one up; seems to fit, though).

No good can come of this awkward angle!

Unfortunately for him, he’s heavier than his bro, who couldn’t quite lift him straight in the air and toss him.

I didn’t think this would end well!

The result? My #2 son ended up in the water under the tube instead of still in it. Of course, his loving brother was totally chagrined.

The older laughs at the younger’s plight.

As if!

A Satisfying Butterfly Capture

A butterfly floats near our kumquat bush.

As I’ve documented before, butterflies baffle and bedevil my photographic efforts. They tend to flit and float just fast enough to make it impossible to focus on them and capture their beauty.

But I got lucky yesterday! I watched a swallowtail butterfly dance and dart around our kumquat bush in the backyard. As I admired it, I thought it was useless to go grab my Nikon dSLR and try to snap a photo. But it kept tantalizing me, so I figured what the heck?

Thank you, kumquats!

Look who caught lightning in a bottle!

One-Word Wednesday

I snapped this photo of spider webs with my iPhone 4. Shooting into the sun caused the accidental rainbow effect.


Disc Golf Family Style

The younger teacher helps his older student during practice.

When it comes to the great outdoors, my older son really isn’t much of a fan. Bees, wasps, sweating profusely during the day? Not really his cup of tea.

My #1 son tries to sail in a putt.

But he did tell his younger brother that he’d like to play in some of the weekly handicap mini disc golf tournaments this summer. His first chance was last week at Imperial Park, which is about 10 minutes from our house.

Pops shows his sons how to can a close putt.

Dr. Steve, who was taking over for the vacationing Eric, our usual handicap mini czar, put all three of my guys on the same card. Time for disc golf family style!

My younger son’s disc heads for the basket.

It was nice for the guys to play together.

The brothers drop in their putts.

Usually, the Mister and our #2 son are on different cards. That way the father doesn’t have to watch the son clobber him by a lot of strokes.

A tough uphill putt for my older son

But this was a great change of pace.

Passion flowers seem like they belong in a Dr. Seuss book.

Of course, I went along to document the event.

Fluffy weeds

And to snap a few pix of nature. We were in a park, after all!

These may be weeds, but they’re really pretty.

When all was said and done, it was a frustrating day for the three of them. The wind helped kick up their scores, and the Mister lost one of his favorite discs in the woods.

But at least they went through that aggravation together. Family style!

Breaking the Bank to See a Double Feature

Another in what looks like a long line of “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies

The Mister and I busted open the piggy bank so we could see matinee movies this past weekend. Sunday the whole family enjoyed “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.” Our two sons  liked the first three flicks and were anxious to watch this latest iteration. Isn’t it amazing how many movies that Disney can make money on that were inspired by a Disneyland ride?

Johnny Depp and Penélope Cruz team up.

This latest “Pirates” film as usual stars Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, a pirate in need of a ship. He runs into a woman from his past (Penélope Cruz), who turns out to be the daughter of the notorious pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane). Captain Jack ends up as a worker on Blackbeard’s ship as they race against former pirate turned privateer Hector Barbossa (played wonderfully, of course, by Geoffrey Rush) and the Spaniards to find the Fountain of Youth.

Sidebar: As I watched Jack Sparrow and his fellow workers scrubbing the decks of Blackbeard’s ship, it made me wonder why in the world pirates would care whether or not a ship was clean or dirty. They sure didn’t care about whether they themselves were clean or dirty!

Jack Sparrow and Barbossa work together . . . for awhile.

There’s plenty of great action in “Pirates” to satisfy the guys. However, because it is a Disney movie, it seems fairly innocent (as in fewer deaths and blood being shed). I did enjoy the storytelling and the music, but I must admit that I’m not a Penélope Cruz fan. She’s harder to understand than the British actors and actresses!

“Pirates of the Caribbean 4” isn’t a must-see in the theater, but it does look great on the big screen. As will the fifth movie (the Mister predicts that there will be 10 total).

“Everything Must Go”

Will Ferrell lives in his yard sale.

Saturday the Mister and I saw “Everything Must Go,” which was in direct contrast with the fun of “Pirates 4.” I’m not a big Will Ferrell fan, but I was interested in seeing him in a dramatic role.

Ferrell plays Nick Halsey, an all-star salesman who sees his world collapse due to his alcoholism: He loses his job, and his wife leaves him, putting all his possessions in their front yard and changing the locks on the doors. His company car is hauled off, and he has hit rock bottom with absolutely no light at the end of the tunnel.

Nick Halsey and Kenny strike a deal.

Nick’s luck begins to change with the help of teenaged Kenny (well-played by newcomer Christopher Jordan Wallace), whose mom takes care of an elderly neighbor down the street. They both teach each other valuable lessons that will enable both to succeed in life.

Farrell does a great job with this role. He plays Nick as a nice guy who desperately needs to quit drinking. “Everything Must Go” may be one for the Netflix queue, but it’s worth seeing in the theater . . . if you have enough money in your piggy bank.


A pair of black-bellied whistling ducks pose . . . for awhile.

When I walk around my master-planned community, I take my iPhone 4 along. Mainly for the camera.

“See ya later!”

It’s really not much of a substitute for my better Canon point and shoot and especially not for my Nikon dSLRs. But, as they say, the best camera is the one that’s with you.

One of the ducks soars over our little bayou.

Glad I had it with me this day!

Typo Tyme

Kroger apparently hires workers . . . and then sells them!

Following in the footsteps of former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, I have a confession to make: I hate grammatical and punctuation errors and typos. Especially my own!

Sidebar: I wish I had a buck for every time I see “its” (the possessive) misused as “it’s” (the “it is” contraction) and vice versa on signs, flyers, and even, sadly, in newspapers. Yes, “Houston Chronicle,” I’m talking about you!

Take the above signs that I snapped at my local Kroger grocery store. I’m surprised they’re in focus; I was laughing so hard when I saw someone had written “crewfish” instead of “crawfish.” Made me think that “crewfish” were the rookie employees! Apparently, Kroger sells them and hires more to sell!

Does “inconvience” sound like “inconvenience?”

Here’s a typo that I see too often—people just can’t spell “inconvenience” correctly. Is it an inconvenience to use a dictionary? I use the WordWeb app on my iPhone when I’m spelling challenged!

Ever heard of a dictionary?

Once again, the dictionary or the WordWeb app should be the sign maker’s friend. By the way, the 88-cent special on Coney dogs is today, and my sons will be taking full advantage! They love James Coney Island (it can’t compare to Chicago hot dogs, but I’m kinda prejudiced).

Let’s just put commas everywhere!

Improper comma use runs rampant in the Houston area! When I was snapping this photo, the guy in the van said, “We added the comma (between about and carpet), because we added more services.”

Go ahead and throw in more services . . . but put the comma in the correct spot after the word carpet!

Speaking of the curly punctuation mark that should give one pause, this was a comment posted on a forum about the movie “Source Code”:

“. . . because he was severely mutilated and in a comma.”

Really? There are commas in comas? Sounds like it’s typo tyme!

One-Word Wednesday

A cicada leaves us a present on our front-yard tree.


The exoskeleton’s side view . . . still looks creepy.