Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Happy Holidays!

We had a wonderful Christmas this year, spending Saturday, Christmas Eve, at my parents' home in western MA as is our custom. It's always a very pleasant evening to gather with most of the immediate family and enjoy a holiday dinner and exchange presents... I think we may end up with more gifts Christmas Eve than on Christmas morning itself! But the highlight of course is spending the family time, and we're very lucky to be blessed with a great family at that.

This gets us home usually fairly late Christmas Eve; this year was actually earlier than most years, we got home around 10:30pm Saturday night. Fortunately we're all night owls and with no travel or visitor plans for Christmas day there was no need to worry about when we got to bed. Our street has a tradition of leaving small gifts at each others' doors on Christmas Eve each year, anything from a bag of home-made cookies to a bottle of wine may show up on our steps before we get home! For ourselves we leave a Christmas tree ornament and some cookies, so once getting home from the grandparents C and I grabbed up our own "Santa" bag and hit the neighborhood to leave our own gift bags at each house.

As mentioned last year (hear the exciting story again here!), C is "in" on the Santa story, and he actually enjoys Christmas even more now as he himself loves playing Santa. His original thought of putting out the gifts after The Momma & I went to bed for the night didn't last long, as he was too excited to wait! After finishing the neighborhood rounds and grabbing something to eat he took charge of filling the stockings and putting the Santa gifts under the tree.

The Momma & I woke up a little after 11am on Christmas morning; the living room looking every bit of Christmas except for one missing element: a child! C of course was still sound asleep. We let him be for a while as we sorted through the gifts from the night before, then woke him up a little before noon to have our own family holiday. (Yup, that's life with us... the parents anxiously waiting on the child to wake up so we could enjoy Christmas morning!)

C's "big" gift this year was a Nintendo DS videogame system, and a couple of games, which of course he loved. He also got a bunch of modelling clay and tools (something new he's really getting into), a couple of magic sets (something else he's really getting interested in!), two seasons' worth of the old TV show "MASH" on DVD, and about 70 new Pokemon figures for his collection (thank you, eBay!). He was delighted with it all.

The Momma & I both got some great gifts this year as well. The highlight for me was probably the new book, "Belushi", a photo-filled, large-format biography about John Belushi authored by his wife, Judith Belushi Pisano. I've only read through the first chapter but the book is very nice, and the introductions, one from Judy and one from Dan Aykroyd, easily brought a tear to my eye. I'm looking forward to reading it through and checking out the wealth of personal photographs Judy has included.

So another year is essentially passed... on Saturday we'll be spending New Year's Eve with some old friends in New Hampshire, that should be fun and fairly relaxing. Then it's on to planning 2006... The Momma & I have already agreed, incidentally, to "officially" move our January 4th wedding anniversary to February to allow some time for the budget to recover from the holidays. Here's hoping your holidays were just as good... and Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Death - And a Reminder

Richard Pryor died today.

Now, I've never considered myself a Richard Pryor fan, per se, but I've usually laughed with or at him, I've enjoyed his work, and I've respected him. I liked - and hated - him in "Superman III". But never felt a huge personal connection with the man.

But he was "our" generation. Though (and selfishly I'll say) happily still OLDER than me, in general I consider him a "contemporary". He was part of OUR generation's entertainment and pop culture.

Yet, he's dead at 65. Sure, many reasons why that may not be a surpise... but, a cultural contemporary dead at 65. Somehow, this one bothers me, more than perhaps I think it should.... more than even the death of Jimmy Doohan, De Kelley or the Great Bird of the Galaxy, all of whom I've felt a closer bond with (and two of whom I've met personally, all of whom I've met).

Not closely as much as John Belushi. Or John Candy.


Shit, getting older brings some keen sense of mortality with it, doesn't it? I mean, 65... I can see that now pretty easily.

Pryor had a tough life and pushed past the edge a few times. But still, this feels a bit personal.


Sunday, December 04, 2005

Herbert's NOT Rolling Over....

Finally watched the latest version of "War of the Worlds", and surpringly (to myself) I'm putting myself in the group that LIKED it! I very much appreciate the homage to the original Wells (H.G., not Orson!) story here and liked that this BIG movie was told on the small scale of a single family's viewpoint. I've seen some of the criticisms and certainly don't disagree with all of them... the cellar scene was too long, the Robbins character was too weird, the just-too-smaltzy ending when Robbie re-appears (but not as bad as I'd expected from some hints I'd heard)... but overall this was probably the most honest version of the story yet made and appropriately scary!

Nice homages also to the Pal version (still a favorite as well), especially the classic climactic shot of the dying alian's arm emerging from the crashed war machine. (I also really liked the vines dying on the Minuteman statue, great touch.) The effects also were awesome, and the DTS soundtrack on the DVD one of the best-sounding movies I've heard in my living room. Kudos!