Monthly Archives: January 2012

Feeling Fuzzy

My younger son puts his all into a drive.

Last week while my #2 son was practicing for a disc golf tournament at our local park, I took the opportunity to go photo exploring. I wasn’t sure what I would find, because of the Houston area’s long drought as well as it being what passes as winter. Just because it’s been mild doesn’t mean that much has been growing.

Love the sepia-ish quality of the plant, as well as the background bokeh!

What did my Nikon 105mm macro lens find? A lot of fuzz!

A close-up view of the fuzzies

It looked like some of the wildflowers had gone to seed, leaving them looking fluffy. I couldn’t help but reach over and feel the textures.

A cattail shows off its fuzzy side.

I know that in a month or so all those fuzzy plants will be replaced by new growth, ready to tantalize my macro lens. Before long those sown seeds will be sprouting around the park.

A seed pod promises new beginnings.

Looks like that time is coming soon!

Movie Reviews: Double Feature

Katherine Heigl plays a credible Stephanie Plum.

Way back when our two now high school juniors played youth football together, my pal Robin and I would sit on the sidelines discussing a matter of utmost importance: Who would we cast if Janet Evanovich’s wildly popular Stephanie Plum novels were made into movies? Our most-pressing casting decision? Who would play Plum’s love interests, Joe Morelli and Ranger. We knew that would be key to our enjoyment of the flicks.

Plum mixes it up with Joe Morelli.

Friday night Robin, our mutual friend Nicole (aka the Hawk girl), and I finally got to see how Hollywood answered that six-year-old question when we saw “One for the Money.” It’s a fun, fluffy movie pretty much just for Evanovich fans (it’s based on her first book). For everyone else, it’s strictly rental material.

Is Daniel Sunjuta hot enough to play Ranger?

The biggest negative for me? The casting. Jason O’Mara is okay as Morelli, a cop who’s trying to prove his innocence while Plum, a novice bounty hunter, tries to bag him for needed rent money. But Daniel Sunjuta as Ranger, the slim, mysterious Latin hunk who helps get Stephanie out of jams? No way! What a bummer!

Sherri Shepherd is wonderful as Lula, while Debbie Reynolds (Grandma Mazur) and Katherine Heigl (I pretty much like her in everything she does, so I think she’s okay as Stephanie) are fine. But I wish the casting agent had given more thought to the all-important male leads. Especially if more of Evanovich’s books are made into movies.

I’m sure I’ll go see them . . . and I’ll still be complaining!

“Man on a Ledge”

Here’s the man on the ledge!

Cops proclaiming their innocence was the theme of my weekend movie experience. The Mister and I watched “Man on a Ledge” yesterday and really enjoyed it. No, it wasn’t seamless plotwise, but it was suspenseful, keeping us on the edge of our seats until the end.

Lydia Mercer tries to get Nick off the ledge.

Ex-cop Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) escapes from prison; he was incarcerated for a crime he claims he didn’t commit. He climbs out on a ledge at a high-rise hotel, threatening to jump. Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks), a police negotiator, tries to talk him out of it. Of course, all is not what it seems.

What I liked least about the flick were the scenes of Nick looking at the crowd gathered below him—oh, how I hate heights! This isn’t great moviemaking, but it is enjoyable and interesting . . . especially at morning matinee prices.

A Tuneful Rosy Winter So Far

Buds prepare for the next step.

It’s probably pretty mean to put a song in your head today.

This bud looks like it’s about to burst.

But when I looked at the bushes in our front yard yesterday, something became very clear to me.

Soon this rosebud will open.

Things look swell! Things look great!

One lonely rose . . . so far

It’s obvious that everything’s coming up roses!


Random Still Lifes

An overturned canoe waits for passengers along a nearby lake.

My iPhone 4S came in handy for snapping a couple photos last Sunday. Both remind me of still life paintings . . . not that either will be hanging in an art museum any time soon.

When I saw the canoe resting by the lake during my morning jog, I felt compelled to document it. It sure looked lonely.

It’s hard for the Mister to hide in an empty theater!

Later that morning, the Mister and I went to see “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.” When we got to the theater and saw more cars than usual at 10:15 a.m., he became anxious, believing that all the people were there to see the same movie (we try to avoid crowds; that’s one reason we go to morning matinees . . . well, that and being cheap, of course).

As you can see, he was wrong. As I laughingly took the photo, I couldn’t help but compare the Mister to that old, battered canoe. Both of them seemed so isolated and in need of companionship.

The canoe will have to wait for its passengers. The Mister? He had me . . . and eventually about 10 other people scattered around the theater.

One-Word Wednesday

This rusty, old pay phone has seen better days.


Hey, Bud!

Beautiful in pink

Is spring around the corner in the Houston area?

This rosebud growing in my front yard seems to think so!

Long Title, Worthwhile Movie

Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) learns to deal with loss and grief.

Do me a favor: Don’t be dissuaded by negative reviews and not see “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.” If so, you’ll have missed a unique, surprisingly uplifting experience. It’s a wonderfully acted movie (you can rarely go wrong with Sandra Bullock, Viola Davis, Tom Hanks, and Jeffrey Wright) that helps us see how people cope with the loss of a loved one and the desire to always stay connected with that person.

Thomas Horn does a terrific job as Oskar Schell, whose beloved father, Thomas (Hanks), dies in the World Trade Center on 9/11. A jeweler, he, unfortunately, was attending a business meeting at Windows on the World on that fateful day. This is Horn’s first acting job; he was discovered when he excelled in Teen Jeopardy.

Oskar shares a strong bond with his dad (Tom Hanks).

Some reviewers are put off by Horn’s character, who probably has Asperger’s Syndrome, complete with all kinds of anxieties and phobias. But that’s how he’s written in the book the film is based on (I’m reading that novel by Jonathan Safran Foer now; it’s really unusual). Oskar’s father wants his son to move out of his “box,” so he gives him reconnaissance expeditions in Central Park that force him to talk to people and solve riddles.

After Thomas Schell’s death, Oskar finds a key hidden in a vase in his dad’s closet. Believing that it’s linked to something his dad wanted him to find, the preteen journeys through New York City’s five boroughs, facing his fears one step at a time. Will the key unlock a way for Oskar to always remember his father?

Mom Linda (Sandra Bullock) comforts her son.

Bullock has the unenviable role as a grief-stricken wife who doesn’t connect as well with Oskar as her husband always did. (I really related to this, because my younger son has such a strong bond with the Mister.) She seems detached from Oskar when he needs her the most. I was dabbing my eyes with a tissue when this was resolved. The ending is simply wonderful.

Go see this fine movie!

Video Silliness

My older son confers with his friend Tanner during a break in the filming.

During his month-long winter break, my #1 son read 10 books (eight from the library), played Team Fortress 2 (an apparently addicting online videogame) for hours and hours, ate, and slept. His only real worthwhile moments?

The writer, producer, director, and star smiles.

Producing two videos for his video production company, Stickless StickShift, both of which he wrote, directed, and starred in. Our “third” son, Chase, helped him with the first silly one, Holiday Skittles.

Tanner and my younger son are ready for a fight.

For the second video, which pokes fun at actor Steven Seagal (it’s called “Steven Seagull Stars in: Taking Out the Trash”), my creative collegian enlisted the help of his always-handy sidekick younger brother, as well as his good buddy (since the third grade) Tanner. They had a great time flubbing their lines, falling all over the place, and just basically acting like the goofy kids they are.

My sons and Tanner enjoy watching their handiwork.

Besides enjoying watching them have so much fun, I got to help out by occasionally turning the camcorder on and off (I gots skillz!). My older son also had me do a voiceover as Seagull’s wife asking him to take out the trash. However, he decided not to use it, because he said I sounded too much like a mom.

Hey, I resemble that remark!

Vinyl Memories

Yep, vinyl is back!

As I walked down the rock music aisle at Fry’s last week on my way to buy a printer, something unusual caught my eye. I stopped, looked to my left, and immediately was transported back to a kinder, gentler era of no reality television or nonstop F-bombs in movies.

I was mesmerized by a small collection of what we old fogies called “albums.” When I was growing up in the 1960s and ’70s, vinyl was the name of the game when it came to music. I would listen to those LPs on my suitcase turntable every night when I went to sleep. They were wonderful, lyrical companions.

Vinyl co-exists among the CDs.

Of course, I haven’t bought a record in years (I had no idea they still were being sold, in fact). Cassette tapes were easier, and then CDs seemed even better. Now, almost all my music purchases are of the digital nature. It’s nice that you can think about a song, go to iTunes or, and quickly download it to your computer. So convenient!

The Beach Boys’ 1966 epic “Pet Sounds” was a breakthrough album.

One album on Fry’s shelves I immediately remembered: “Pet Sounds” by the Beach Boys. It looked exactly the same as it did in 1966 . . . well, except for the price tag. Back then it was about three bucks. Now it’s $16.99 plus tax. Ouch!

In 1966, I didn’t have extra cash to buy “Pet Sounds,” even though I really wanted it. And now I’m not about to spend 17 bucks . . . especially when I can download it for $9.99 from iTunes and easily put it on my iPod.

Although I’m firmly committed to the digital music world, it’s nice to be reminded of one’s younger days every now and then . . . even if it does happen when you’re looking for a printer.

Which was known as a “typewriter” during that wonderful vinyl era.

One-Word Wednesday

My older son returned to UTSA Monday morning after his month-long winter break.