Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sundance Film Festival

So this week was the Sundance Film Festival. Rob got one of the local passes and saw more movies this week than he had seen in nearly a year (not to mention the fact that we only see them after everyone else has and they come out on DVD, not before they're even distributed like these). He saw ten films, and I saw four with him. They were, in order of appearance:

Love Comes Lately: based on three short stories about a Viennese writer living in New York. The acting was good, but the screenwriting needed to be beefed up. Rob liked it, but there isn't anyone I would recommend it to.

The Wave: based on an experiment in Palo Alto to teach high schoolers about facism and the Nazis. Rob was excited that it's going to be available to German students (who have to read the book), but said that it looked like an American film set in Germany, and you could "see the seams" between the two. His friend said it was too much like the after school special.

Absurdistan: (picture above) about an imaginary village where the water main is breaking down. The women decide to go on a sex strike until the men fix it. It was charming and funny, and quite clean for a film that is all about "water and sex" in the words of the male lead. Rob and I both liked it.

Anywhere USA: three short films and Rob said the first was great and very entertaining, the second was really sad, but well done, and the last was garbage. I can't say because I decided not to go when the picture was of men with mustaches and without shirts. I don't mind shirtless men, but shirtless men with mustaches are an entirely different milieu.

The Visitor: Rob's favorite of the week. A widower comes back to his apartment to find a couple of squatters living there. When they have no where else to go, he lets them stay and they start a friendship. Then the plot thickens.

Diminished Capacity: Matthew Broderick has suffered a concussion and is having a lot of memory trouble, but goes to visit his Uncle Rollie (Alan Alda) who is drifting into senility and who edits poetry that the fish type for him. Old girlfriend (Virginia Madsen), road trip, priceless baseball card and two men with dimished capacity make for a perfect storm. I loved the chemistry between the two men. It wasn't an independent film at all, but was very entertaining.

Assassination of a High School President: typical high school movie with a great performance by Bruce Willis as the principal. Definitely rated R, so as the director said, high schoolers will have to sneak in. But the most entertaining Q & A we saw. If you like R rated high school movies, you won't be disappointed.

The Escapist: prison break movie. Rob said it was too formulaic (the new guy, the bad boys who get away with stuff, the old wise one, etc.) and not very good. I was disappointed to hear that Joseph Fiennes was on a 'rage setting' for the whole movie, because I like him a lot; but I'm not into rage boys.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Ruthless on Catalogs

So this is really one for my friend Lois, whose blog centers on consumerism and how to avoid it or at least knock it on the head. Right now she is on a hunt to fill up on food storage for next to nothing, but I'm not a fabulous coupon clipper like she is. I was excited about this for personal reasons, so I thought I'd share it here.

I just got a link from to be able to cancel my catalogs at and I just did it and I love it. I've been trying to weed out my catalogs because they clog up my mailbox, and waste my time. I also notice that when I've spent hours poring over the latest Westoration Potteryware Elmbarn catalog that I want to buy stuff. No, let me rephrase that; I find stuff that I absolutely must have in order to complete my heretofore lusterless life. Without the catalogs, I am better able to focus on the bills and read to my kids on the couch.

So I'd already gotten rid of two or three big offenders and thought I only had one more to do at this site. Instead I found that I could opt out of catalogs still coming to former residents, and even mailers I don't want. (don't worry about finding your customer numbers right now -- you can complete those later if you don't have a copy of the catalog handy) I found thirteen more catalogs to ditch, and that is a lot of paper and time to save and a lot more stories to read.

And just this morning Maddie Lou informed us with a twinkle that the definition of "ruthless" is "not knowing anyone by the name of Ruth". That girl has got the playful-with-words genes from her papa's side of the family!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Snow and Omega

Only two things to report around here. First is that we've had a lot more snow than in recent years. More days of snow cover and more snowstorms in December and so far in January. We even had to cancel the first two hours of church because the power was out in half of our ward, and that never happens.
The kids and Rob have made a snowman or two and gone sledding a few times. And we found out that Rob's truck is a good snow vehicle, which is helpful and makes up for the fact that most of the interior is held together with black electrical tape.
Second is that Rob and I went in for the 21-week ultrasound on Tuesday. The big news is that our baby has a brain and heart and spine and kidneys and stomach and bladder, which things I spent time worrying about at night (when the baby tends to practice pre-dawn water aerobics). And we are having another boy. Maddie shed a few tears and Will told me that he was going to kill me because they wanted a girl. He doesn't seem to understand that the threat doesn't really make me want any more boys . . . Sebastian has always insisted on a brother (but then he insists on more siblings after this one, which makes his credibility nil). Rob and I are scrounging around for male names. In the meantime, this baby is called Omega, because it is the last.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Christmas Festivities

On Christmas Eve we had Rob's grandmother Johanna over. We had his traditional New Mexican stacked enchiladas (minus the fried egg on top) which Rob made himself. There was the reading of Luke II with attendant acting out (Will was the surprise favorite as baby Jesus). We sang lots of carols in the original version and the kids' irreverent revisions (even in German which had Oma hooting). And Opa and Betsy were on hand with nearly an entire bookshelf full of books chosen especially for these three. Our new Christmas rave comes from Betsy: _How Murray Saved Christmas_ by one of the writers for The Simpsons.
And they got their pajamas. I was relieved that they fit since I probably bought them in July and had to guess on the sizes. Sebastian was the one who asked "shouldn't we open the presents now?" all night long.
Oma needed to be driven back to her house until her live-in helpers got back from their parties, so Rob took her. I was terribly worried that I wouldn't get everything done before I turned into a pumpkin since my bedtime is usually 8:00 (Rob took me off of homework duty since Will complained that I was falling asleep in the middle of reading time). It's a critical year for the kids since Sebastian actually gets what is going on and Madeline has been asking technical questions. The latest was "why do stores sell 'stocking stuffers'?" so I knew there couldn't be any slip-ups and I couldn't fall asleep and forget about it like I always do when someone has lost a tooth. I am so bad that we actually had to tell the kids that the Tooth Fairy is a single mother, and sometimes she just doesn't make it when one of her kids is sick (I know . . . I feel just terrible). I figured this wasn't going to work with Santa.

So I shouldn't have spent any energy on the house, but I couldn't help it. Some parts of Christmas are for me and Rob. The table looked better than an afternoon nap!
And somehow everything got finished and cleaned and Santa came to boot. We had put the kids to sleep downstairs with the strict injunction that they couldn't come up until we came and got them (after waking up at 4:30am this Halloween we weren't going by their schedule). They were great and we got them at 7:00.

Madeline got a purple light saber to defend herself against her brothers. She also got a curling iron and I spent the next two days in ringlets. I was relieved when some other little girls came over and were her new hair models. She loved this game, but you're still more likely to find her nose in a book.

Will got four different Lego Star Wars sets and worked on them diligently and alone and had finished all four within 24 hours. He had a lot more attention to detail and patience than we knew! He also loved two new 'graphic novels' with Tin Tin.

And Sebastian got fun toys like GeoTrax and Cars the Movie stuff, but by late afternoon all of the excitement and sugar had him comatose on the floor. He was so into opening the presents this year and would jump up and say "Oh thanks! It's just what I wanted! I love it!" each time he got one.
It was a beautiful day. It was still dark when we got up and felt very cosy. And it had snowed quite a bit the day before, so all day Rob and I sat on the couch and watched the little birds pick our birdseed pinecones clean.
I made baked french toast and a potato/rosemary/fontina strata for breakfast, and they were beautiful! I should have taken a picture. They also tasted great, but I should have made a third of each recipe. Nobody could eat all that and the stocking candy too!
Overall I was just grateful to have made it to that point: to have sent out the cards, given gifts to the teachers and neighbors, bought everything, wrapped everything, baked everything, made the gingerbread house, assembled, remembered, cleaned, bought batteries, and I couldn't believe we managed to feed the birds as well. It was an extra treat.