Monday, July 31, 2006

The Dog Days of Summer

On a recent trip to Denny Creek in the Washington Cascade Mountains, it was our dog, Polly, who found the best way to cool off on a hot July day.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Targeting Jews in America

I left work at four o'clock today in the middle of a mess of sirens and people that I discovered, once I was in my car, was an attack at the Jewish Federation Building in Seattle. I managed to drive out of the area before the streets were shut down.

The news reports that a suspect of Pakistani descent has been arrested for murdering one person and woulding perhaps five others. The police suggest the gunman was targeting Jewish people.

My colleagues called me after I left to report that they have been asked by police to leave.

Film critic Michael Medved, who hosts a syndicated radio program out of Seattle, reported that many American Jews are having to take precautions against hatred and harm, even here in the United States. He said that some synagogues had been hiring security during their high holy days.

Tonight, as the Jewish Sabbath begins, police are being dispatched to protect worshippers at local synagogues.

My heart and prayers go out to those affected by this terrible event.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Beaming Up My Chief Engineer

I saw in the news yesterday that the remains of James Doohan, the actor who played Chief Engineer Scott in Star Trek, are being shot into space in October.

The actor lived in Redmond, Washington, near a business acquaintance of mine who used to run into him on occasion. I never liked hearing that the actor was a regular guy who spoke with an American accent.

To me, he will always be Scotty.


Sunday, July 23, 2006

Complaining About the Heat

The average temperature this time of year in Seattle is 76 degrees. Yesterday it was 95. One of these days I gotta get me an air conditioner...
Wait. Oh yeah. I have an air conditioner. I bought one from my friend Erik. 9,000 BTU's. Back in February. It's been in storage on the 11th floor of my building since. In fact, it has never been in my possession and I think I only looked at it once. (It's white.) I bought it on a whim before I realized I did not know how to install it.

I found out today that one of the guys took it home over the weekend to cool his family. He noticed it had been sitting in the storage room for months and figured...

I couldn't blame him. He has four kids. "I didn't know it was yours," he said. I pictured him and his family in the one room, gathered around the air conditioner, the mother-in-law lingering nearby. He apologized again and added, "I can pay you."

"Keep it," I said, and for a moment I coveted my own air conditioner. I don't know why I told him to keep it. It's been so hot that my family have not slept in our own beds for four nights.

"Keep it," I said. "Keep it."

It was probably the heat.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

My New Favorite Actor

I had wanted to see Beyond the Sea, the Kevin Spacey film about Bobby Darin, when it was released in December 2004, but I never got around to it probably because I am not that familiar with Darin, only a small handful of his songs. My interest in the film was in seeing Spacey, an actor whose work continues to delight me in film after film. For my money, The Usual Suspects and L.A. Confidential would have suffered without his brilliant performances.

Beyond the Sea was less a biography in the tradition of Ray or Walk the Line, and more of a musical in the true sense of the term. Spacey takes a clever approach to telling Darin's story, stepping out of the narrative at times, framing his story with a dialogue between Darin as an adult and as a child. Spacey has a remarkable voice, more than held his own in the dance numbers, and he brought a passion for the subject matter that overrode my disinterest toward Darin and his career.

The reviews had been mixed: for every critic who praised Spacey and his achievement as an actor, director, producer and writer of the film, there was harsh criticism that the film and Spacey's performance were vainglorious. My take is this: it was a risk to make a film about Bobby Darin, and Spacey's approach was bold. He took the chance in performing Darin's songs and it paid off in spades.

We finished watching Beyond the Sea and my wife said, "I think Kevin Spacey's my new favorite actor." I could not disagree. He is a talented performer with an unusual but powerful screen presence.

When I turned off the DVD there was another Spacey movie on IFC, a little gem called The Big Kahuna. "The best movie ever made about evangelism" is how my friend Rick describes it. Yeah, Spacey was great in that one, too. He just might be my new favorite actor.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A Canine Affair

A reunion of sorts took place on Sunday, on a farm in a place called Eatonville, Washington.

My daughter and I took our Labrador retriever, Polly, back to the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm where she was bred and born three years ago September. There, Polly was reunited with her father, Scout, and her sister, CeCe. The rest of Polly's siblings are scattered abroad. Her mother, Sydney, was killed in a tragic encounter with an automobile just a few weeks ago, but Polly seemed nonplussed at the news when we told her, and furthermore seemed not to notice her absence on the farm.

My daughter and the other kids enjoyed riding Sprout, the pony, and I was proud of my daughter for finally riding around the paddock on her own, without Anna leading the pony.

The kids rode the pony, cooled off on the slip-n-slide and relaxed in the hot tub at the end of the long day.

The dogs ran amok, chased the horses and each other, rolled around in their kiddie pool and tried the slip-n-slide once or twice.

The grown-ups chased the kids, chased the dogs, tended to injuries (one of the kids dropped the baby, Polly blew out her knee, Anna's bare foot was stepped on by Sprout) and generally kept order amid the chaos.

It was a fine way to spend a warm, breezy Washingtonian Sunday.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Family Photo

On a recent trip to South Carolina I had the privilege of spending some time with my niece. My daughter had the opportunity to get to know her cousin. And everyone had a good time. We don't have too many opportunities for family photographs of this sort, so when they happen, it's special.

Presently I am trying to arrange a trip back to South Carolina to see my niece, as well as the rest of my family, whom I miss very much. Hopefully, we'll get something booked for a trip back east after Labor Day, giving me the opportunity for more family photos of this sort.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Return of a Timeless Friend

Mission Impossible III opened around Memorial Day, but because I was so consumed with the Seattle Film Festival, the Tom Cruise movie was moved to the bottom of my list. My frequent movie buddy Mike and I had talked about seeing this one, and we finally got around to it last Saturday night.

Flashback now, many years, to a downtown Seattle cinema, as I am asking a question I would continue to ask time and time again to the mostly kids working the movie theater candy counters:

"Why don't you carry Goobers?"

I have been diligent in asking the question ever since, and have received a variety of responses. At the Cineplex Odeon on Pine Street (a favorite venue back in the day), I was told that Goobers was not very popular. "Nobody eats those anymore," the ticket-taker told me.

"I do," I responded. "They're crunchy peanuts coated in rich milk chocolate. Who wouldn't want a box of Goobers with their popcorn and ice-cold Diet Coke?" The kid stared at me like I had suggested eating escargot as a movie snack.

The folks at the Egyptian told me the same thing. A kid working the candy counter at the Big Valley told me back in the fall that he had never heard of them.

Fast forward to last Saturday night. Mike and I purchased tickets to MI:III at the Big Valley and enter the theater about ten o'clock.

As we were walking past the candy counter toward the auditoriums, debating whether or not to purchase any snacks, something in the candy display caught Mike's eye and he stopped in his tracks and exclaimed, "They have Goobers!"

"Come on!"

"Goobers! I'm serious!"

The kid working concessions told us they had just gotten Goobers in the day before, and that they seemed to be moving very well.

MI:III is nothing if not a popcorn movie, and as I have said in this space in the past, the combination of popcorn, Coca-Cola and Goobers is second to none as part of the movie-going experience. (I will at this juncture defer those who might substitute Raisinets for Goobers -- after all, Raisinets are the first cousins of Goobers, and both candies are made by Nestle).

I enjoyed MI:III in large part due to the box of Goobers nestled in my shirt pocket. I look forward to returning to the Big Valley with Mike tonight for another popcorn flick -- Pirates of the Caribbean II. And yes, I will enjoy that feature if only because of the familiar box of Goobers that will be open and waiting in my shirt pocket.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Corn Fed

My wife's guest blog:

Most people celebrated the 4th yesterday. And so did we... it's just that our daughter's biggest celebration was finishing off her 3rd piece of corn.

"Whoever loves corn so much they could blow their top, raise your hand!" she exclaimed.

In the picture you can see the flag-design placemats she made for the occasion. She also insisted that we sing "Happy Birthday" to America before eating. Wish y'all could have been here to taste my husband's prize BBQ ribs and my fresh-from-the-tree cherry cobbler! I couldn't resist sharing the photo!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

My July 4th, 2006

What I'm drinking: Newman's Own Virgin Limeade

What I'm eating: Barbecue spare ribs

What I'm doing: Picking cherries in my back yard

What I'm watching: Twilight Zone marathon on the Sci-Fi channel

What I'm reading: Wisdom of Our Fathers, by Tim Russert

What I'm listening to: At This Time, Burt Bacharach

Who I'm Spending the 4th with: My wife and daughter