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Month: November, 2007

The Queen

by Scott Smith

Now there’s a fine film, The Queen.

Helen Mirren was delicious.

The story frames The Queen of England around Diana’s death. I never cared about Diana’s celebrity or the mess surrounding her death. This film had to climb a high mountain for me to care about these characters.

Mirren had me in the first minute. I even cared about Charles and Tony Blair. James Cromwell as Prince Philip was pitch-perfect (rather, spot-on).

The real Tony and The Queen

The film managed to humanize The Queen without bringing her down to us mere mortal level. According to the movie, she drives and takes long walks with her dogs.

The Queen was the perfect Sunday morning movie, just luscious.  I now need to go watch the last episode of A History of Britain, the one covering Orwell and Churchill. I need more British-ness before watching a few hours of the NFL.

Babel — Too Much

by Scott Smith

Rented Babel. Not a good move. The film is too long. Someone should have told the auteur to cut the film by 30 minutes. Note to Ken Burns — Someone at PBS should have told you 6 hours top for The War.

Back to Babel.

I could care less about the characters except for the Japanese teen girl who broke my heart. I didn’t care because the political agenda controlled the story. Maybe that’s why I liked the teen — she didn’t seem to suffer at the hands of ‘The Rifle.’

The rifle begins our tale when a pair of pre-teen Moroccan brothers take their father’s new rifle with them to the mountains. They are grazing the family’s goats, which would be the definition of boredom. Why not shoot the gun?

And they do. At a tourist bus. Go figure, the youngest brother fires a rifle better than Butch and Sundance robbed banks.

The film breaks into four parts: Moroccan kids, white people (Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchette) in Morocco, the Japanese teen, and the Mexican nanny who cares for Pitt and Blanchette’s kids.

Four different perspectives is quite difficult in a novel and damn problematic in a film. The rifle is a bit flimsy to hold the pieces together. Also, using the press as a thread weaving in and out of the stories is a tired device.

Our auteur aims at violence, police and the press instead of a compelling story with characters deserving my understanding. He misses badly, like the older Moroccan brother shooting at jackals with ‘The Rifle.’

Little Miss Sunshine

by Scott Smith

I never had any interest in seeing Little Miss Sunshine. The cast is just fine, but the film’s marketing made me wonder if this was a knock-off of a spelling-bee-feel-good film.

It ain’t. This is a lovely film. It explores a weird family dynamic with a junior miss beauty pageant as the major plot line. By the end of the film, you care about these characters. They don’t need redemption, which is the usual.

I didn’t realize it was nominated and awarded so many awards. I don’t pay attention to awards shows. I have to say giving the writer the award for original screenplay was the right move.

Favorite line: “Let Olive be Olive.” Favorite moment: Adam Arkin snorting heroin.

For Mom

by Scott Smith

My youngest sister and her family are packing up and heading west (Las Vegas). Turns out that my mom will be joining the caravan west. It would be perfect if she was riding with Kevin (Kris’ husband of lo’ these many years).

My first thought was Chevy Chase Vacation movies, but I think Robinson nailed the image with this Tex Avery cartoon. Note the special mother-in-law feature.

A Fall Poem

by Scott Smith

I see rakes;
I see leaves on the lawn;
I see children.

I do not see them together.

Chickens in the City

by Scott Smith

Missoula, Montana has the a chicken controversy: To allow chickens with in the city limits or not.

Story via Boing Boing.

Enjoy the video.

Thank You Notes

by Scott Smith

My mom beats me like a red-headed step-child (hey, I have one of those) for not sending out thank you notes. I tell her I was raised wrong, which doesn’t really help my situation.

Came across this Thank You Note how-to via 43 Folders.

From How to Write A Thank You Note:

Express Your Gratitude

Thank you so much for the slippers.

This first paragraph seems like it would be the easiest, but it is actually the most complicated. Beware the just writing trap. You are not ‘just writing to say’ as in I am just writing to say; that’s stating the obvious. If the giver is reading, clearly you have already written. Therefore use the present-perfect tense, which essentially means write as if whatever you say is happening in the moment.

Also—and this is important—never directly mention money. ‘Thank you for the hundred bucks’ could instead be ‘Thank you for your generosity.’ All cash denominations become ‘your generosity’ or ‘your kindness.’ If you feel the giver overspent, the farthest you can go is appreciated: ‘Your generosity is appreciated,’ or ‘It is such an extravagant gift—your kindness is appreciated.’

Madel’s Book Club

by Scott Smith

Madeleine Rae decided to peruse the library stacks for something good to read (she isn’t too pleased with her English class). She brings home Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing. Talk about dialing up your language arts skillz.

She loves The Crossing so far. She loves the long sentences. Apparently, her teachers pound into their heads to use short sentences.

The Crossing book cover

This evening, after some SysAdmin training, I walked into the family room and heard Madel reading one of McCarthy’s long sentences out loud. I am proud and frightened. What if she decides to become an English major–eek!

More High Rise Food

by Scott Smith

Agro-Housing building

Another design for high rise farming is getting attention and awards. Here’s a quote that stops me in my tracks:

The irrigation is automatic, the greenhouse is sealed against insects and there is no need for pesticide, and the windows provide the light and heat necessary for growth”.

Uh… what about pollination? Sure, you can plop some bee hives inside the greenhouses, but what about the fact that domestic bees are inefficient pollinators without the interference of wild bee populations?

November 20th Memorial for Doug Smith

by Scott Smith

Here’s the text that will appear in the paper (sorry, I don’t know which one).

Dad’s Hands

Douglas MacKay Smith passed away August 13, 2007 from complications following open heart surgery.

There will be a memorial service celebrating his life, at St. Ignatius Episcopal Church, Antioch, Illinois, on November 20th, 2007 at 5:30 PM.

Doug had brick-layer hands and an engineer’s mind.

“He had the patience of Job,” more than one relative said of him.

His combination of skill with his hands, an engineer’s curiosity, and his patience made him an excellent manager of engineers, grandfather to nine, father of five and husband to Dena Smith.

He worked twenty-years for Rockwell before moving to Illinois from California in 1979. He finished his career at Abbott after twenty-three years, and retired to Grants Pass, Oregon.

He was active at St. Ignatius Episcopal Church in Antioch, Illinois, serving on the Vestry, on the building committee and as a Lay Eucharistic Minister. He was an advisor for the electronics program at Lake County Area Vocational Center, and served as a Superintendent of the goat barn at the Lake County Fair.

In retirement, he traveled across America with Dena in their RV, oversaw the building of their winter home in Yuma, Arizona and built wooden toys for children as a representative in Oregon and Arizona for The Happy Factory.

The family requests donations to The Happy Factory, Cedar City, Utah in lieu of flowers.