Month: April 2006

  • Last night Don and I watched "Narnia".

    Why I torture myself by watching favorite books brought to the big screen, I don't know.  It's painful, that's all.  The guy who played Peter was fine, but the child who played Lucy was not even close to my mental image of her.  The White Witch?  What was up with that bit of strange casting?  The Professor was completely unbelievable. 

    And the liberties taken with the story were maddening!  Give the Harry Potter series its due...they remain very true to the books.  What happens in the movies is pretty much what happens in the books.  Not with this movie, though.  From beginning to end stuff was omitted that could have been included and stuck in that never came close to happening in the book.  As merely one example, the scene where the three children and the beavers are crossing a swiftly-defrosting river.  Who dreamt that up? 

    Not to mention the dialogue.  Oy vey!  From Peter crouching down to try to entice Mr. Beaver much as Dmitry would do squirrels in the park, to the Witch's wolves taunting Peter as he faces them with his sword, it bore precious little resemblance to the words actually penned by C.S. Lewis.  If they're not going to use Lewis's words or his scenes, why bother making the movie at all?

    To be fair, it wasn't a total loss.  I was particularly taken by the griffins flying around during the big battle scene, for instance.  Aslan was good, though his name wasn't pronounced the way I've mentally pronounced it.  Mr. Tumnus, the faun, was excellent, and the Witch's castle was well crafted.  It was great to be able to visualize the tents while waiting for battle to be joined.  That sort of thing I'm not especially good at, so it was pleasant to be given such a visual aid.

    I'm still flummoxed, however, at the lack of one of the most memorable lines in the story, which is when the children learn Aslan is a lion.  IIRC, it runs pretty much like this:

    Lucy:  A lion! he safe?

    Mr. Beaver:  Safe!  Who said anything about safe?  Of course he's not safe.  But he's good.  He's the king, I tell you!

    There was obviously a lot of effort put into the movie, so it's disappointing more effort wasn't taken to remain true to the book.  The changes were not an improvement.

  • This is not the type of thing about which I normally blog, but to be truthful, Mexico's managing to really Get My Goat.

    According to CNN:

    Mexican lawmakers issued a declaration of
    support for immigrant protests planned in the United States on Monday
    and said they will send a delegation to Los Angeles to show their

    Oh, really?  Are they now?  Can you say HYPOCRITES?

    Only recently have I found out (and investigated it on my own to make sure) that in Mexico it is a felony to be in that country illegally.  Not that I'm necessarily supporting America doing that, but it certainly seems to me a nation that convicts illegal entrants as felons and deports them that same day ought to shut up about other countries.

    Mexico is complaining about the possibility of increased border patrols along its USA-Mexico border while simultaneously having military presence along its own southern border so as to prevent people sneaking into Mexico from Guatemala.

    Mexico's hypocrisy is absolutely breath-taking in scope. 

  • Boys can drive a person nutso, and that's a fact.

    While coming home from Target, just as I'm about to turn onto Dexter off of Montgomery, my cell phone rings.  It's Dmitry, wanting to know if I could go up to Arlington Heights to pick up his friend, Taylor.  Seems his mother can't do it.  I agree, and tell Dmitry to tell Taylor I'll pick him up in the east parking lot.

    Drive past home and on towards Heights.  No Taylor.  Call Dmitry, only to find he'd never spoken to Taylor again.  Well, then, does Taylor even know I'm up there?  Or has he walked on home?

    I go ahead and drive around the south side of the school to check the west parking lot.  No Taylor.  Drive back around the north to scan the east parking lot again.  Not there.  Park and go inside, since Taylor had called from the office, but it was all quiet, with only a cleaning person in the hall. 

    Decide this is plumb silly, turn around, go back to the car and come home, keeping an eye peeled for Taylor, but I didn't see him.

    Turns out Dmitry did tell Taylor I was out at the store, so it'd be at least 20 or 30 minutes before I could get there, but whether or not Taylor was actually going to hang around the school on such a flimsy basis, I don't know.  No real plans made.  Taylor never called back.  When I called the school office no one answered.

    Of course I'm now sitting here feeling guilty for not having sat out in the stupid parking lot, waiting, waiting.  Except what if he had already left?  OTOH, what if he's still UP there, waiting for me???


  • What some people won't do to score a free gallon of gasoline these days!

    In Orange and Los Angeles counties out there in Weirdland, i.e. California, there is a program that has a fleet of trucks roaming the freeways so as to provide help and succor to those unfortunate drivers who get a flat tire, run out of gas, or otherwise breakdown.

    Speaking of suc-cor! 

    With gas prices out there zooming higher and higher, turns out there are people who deliberately run out of gas, so as to get a gallon compliments of the publicly-funded program.  According to CNN

    Moshe Ben Dayan, whose TipTopTow company performs a similar service
    in Los Angeles' affluent west side, said some people were taking
    advantage of the freeway service patrol.

    "There was one guy a
    while back who was stopping every morning and trying to get his one
    free gallon," said Dayan. "I think it is going to be more drastic when
    the price of gas is closer to $4 a gallon."

    Isn't that driver's time worth at least something?

  • is efficient to a truly frightening degree. This afternoon I
    ordered a refurbished Kitchen Aid blender (a steal at $39.99 with free
    shipping), and immediately upon completing the online purchase here came
    the order confirmation into my email box.

    Four and one-half hours later I received a "Your order has shipped" notice.

    That's impressive.

  • Here's an idea I, for one, hope stays in Moscow and does not migrate over here:  April is apparently "clean car month", with drivers facing fines for illegally dirty cars.  As may be imagined, this subjective ordinance provides unscrupulous traffic police with a wonderful opportunity to collect bribes.

    Dmitry acknowledges, in a rare openness about problems in Russia, that accepting bribes is a long-standing, if not particularly cherished, tradition by that nation's police officers.  It's been difficult getting him to really accept that while there is the occasional dishonest policeman here who will ask for or accept a bribe, the odds are offering one would probably be extremely counterproductive, resulting in a trip to the police station.

    Moscow radio stations have been encouraging drivers to not knuckle under, informing them of their rights.

    I thought this was funny:

    The website of the newspaper Izvestiya asked its readers
    for their views, and 46% agreed a car was dirty if the number plate was
    not visible.

    Twenty three per cent said it was if the car had "wash
    me" written on it, 22% if the make or the colour of the car could not
    be determined. A stubborn 9% maintained that a car was dirty only if
    the actual driver was invisible.

  • Speaking of the Mavericks reminds me of a marketing ploy involving them
    that transpired last week.  At one of the Mavericks' games,
    American Airlines gave away approximately 20,000 free round trip ticket
    vouchers for anywhere AA flies from Love Field.

    Don pointed out last night that so far American only flies to Kansas City from Love Field.  

    He also said the vouchers are showing up on eBay, as apparently not
    that many people who were at the game have any particular yen to go to
    Kansas City.

  • A family ripped asunder! 

    Alright, that's probably a touch dramatic, but still....tonight is the first NBA playoff game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Memphis Grizzlies.

    We live here in Fort Worth, so hold our noses and root for the Mavericks, while Alex lives a suburb of Memphis.

    The battle of the T's!  Texas v. Tennessee. 

  • Today was the East European Easter party out at Gladney, and upon being wheedled by Elveera last night, Dmitry decided he'd like to go.  It was a gorgeous day for the event, so it's a pity the attendance was down; the assumption is the high cost of gas is responsible for keeping families home who would otherwise come.  Many people live quite a ways away and this is the one "Russian" event they attend.

    Not that there's anything particularly Russian about a petting zoo and Easter Bunny, of course. 

    It seems to me if the intention is to emphasize Eastern European heritage there'd be an attempt to include some activities unique to their culture.  Granted I'm having a hard time thinking of anything but hey....that's not my job.  My specialty is ideas. 

    Isn't it lovely when one's plans work out exactly as one hoped?  Doesn't happen near often enough, but did this time.  I'd been hoping Viktor Buckholt would be there so Dmitry could introduce him to the Grogan girls, and by golly, he was and he did.  BTW, Olga stunned me with her beautiful, braces-free smile!

    Spring06 001

    Isn't she lovely? 

    It was a pleasure to see the four of them schmoozing happily together (okay, the first picture has only three, but you can see Viktor, and in the following photo Dmitry is visible):

    Spring06 003

    Spring06 004

    A bit later they moved to a table in the shade and were joined by Sergei, Viktor's friend who was adopted a couple of years ago and lives in Richardson.  Then it was the five of them yakking away in Russian.  It was nice to see Viktor, who's only been here a couple of months (if it's been that long) cheerfully conversing with an old friend and new ones.  ;^)

  • A tiresome by-product of congestion is losing one's sense of smell and, ergo, taste. 

    What I don't understand is why, now I can breathe pretty well again, my sense of taste is still AWOL?  I know it'll show its whiskers eventually - it always does - but it still seems if I can breathe through my nose I ought to be able to smell and taste, too.