Monday, January 31, 2011

There's Cold.......and Then There's Cold

I'm fairly certain that back when I was a kid.................(did I really say that?).........they never closed the schools and gave us a snow day............because it was cold.

Yes we have snow.

Yes, it's cold.................

But all the schools around the area are closed tomorrow..............not for the 3 or so inches we have. 

But because it's cold.

I have some very vague memories of Mom bundling us up in layers of clothes, gloves and hats...............and waiting till the last minute before we set off for the bus stop.  But off to that bus stop we went.

And I don't remember any kids in our neighborhood loosing fingers or toes to frostbite.

Alas these memories must be part of the lore of walking to school, uphill, both ways..................etc.  etc.

Have we grown wimpy?


Meanwhile.............I just heard the Douglas County snowplows go past my house...........they plow the residential  streets down here in the land of high property taxes.

We're getting the real winter treatment around here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tunesday - Feels Like Home

Now that we're finally in the thick of winter..................we need "pretty music".  Don't you think?  Okay, maybe it's  just me, but I like music that you can listen to while sitting on the couch with a blanket and the fireplace going.  Maybe it's snowing outside and you've got a big mug of chai the picture?

Then you'll need some pretty music.  And it doesn't get much prettier than the angel voice of Linda Ronstadt.  With a song from an album of the same name.  Written by Randy Newman.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Movies I Always Watch "A River Runs Through It"

I’ll start this review with the disclaimer that I’ve had crush on Robert Redford since 1969. Mom and Dad took me to see “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”. I was done for.

Though not in this film, Redford directed, and acted as the narrator for the main character’s adult self. His skill as a director shines, keeping the pace of the story moving along, just like the river. The casting is perfect. Tom Skerritt as Rev. Maclean has that Presbyterian minister’s gravitas and gracefulness that makes them seem as if they float a few inches above the ground, especially in their vestments. Brenda Blythen, as Mrs. Maclean, the devoted and doting mother, has a small role but played perfectly.  You can see the love she has for her sons in every scene.

In the two main roles, Craig Sheffer and Brad Pitt are the perfect counter balance to each other. Norman (Sheffer) is dutiful, conventional, and studious. Paul (Pitt) is gregarious, rebellious and volatile. They are bound by their love for each other, their parents, and fly fishing.

Montana (yes the state) also has a starring role, its mountains, canyons and vistas pull you into the movie.

And a river runs through it.

The River……………real and metaphorical………… carries the trout they try to coax up with their flies, and the years of life as they flow past them. As Norman, Redford says in the narration, "In my family, there is no clear division between religion and fly fishing." It’s a film about men, and brothers, family and faith. With God’s creation as the backdrop to the story of their lives. The film is based on Norman Maclean’s book, telling the true story of his life. Just writing this reminds me that I need to add it to my reading list.

I watch this movie over and over, even though I know it will likely make me cry, because it is an elegant, timeless story. Sometimes the people around us, and closest to us, move in directions that we are powerless to change. No matter how much we care for someone, or how much we would like to keep them from things that will hurt them, we can’t always achieve that.

Though I’m not a parent, I often agonized over the pain “kids” in my youth group experienced due to the choices they made. As their pastor I could influence , but not rule them. Rev. Maclean says in a sermon. “Each one of us here today will at one time in our lives look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question: We are willing to help, Lord, but what, if anything, is needed? For it is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don't know what part of ourselves to give, or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so it is those we live with and should know, who elude us. But we can still love them - we can love completely without complete understanding.”

You seldom see this kind of depth in a movie.

If you’ve never seen this film, knock on my door if you’re close by…………..we’ll watch it together. If you're far away, watch it anyway and let me know what you think.

The closing lines are beautiful, even if you’ve never seen it. “But when I am alone in the half light of the canyon all existence seems to fade to a being with my soul and memories. And the sounds of the Big Black Foot River and a four count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise. Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.

I am haunted by waters."

See this movie.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wicked - The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

It’s been several weeks since I finished reading “Wicked – The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West”. I’ve started and stopped writing this review several times.

I just don’t know what to say about this book. As I mentioned in passing, it’s one of the strangest books I’ve ever read. Frankly, I can’t decide if I liked it or not. I was looking forward to reading it when it was the selection of a book club that I’m in. Like most American kids “The Wizard of Oz” is a movie classic, seen dozens, if not hundreds of times by all of us. I can remember having flying monkey nightmares around age 6 or 7. Then came my fascination with all things “Munchkin”, in particular the Lollipop Kids and the Lullaby League. I still pause from time to time when I see it on the guide……..feeling that wonder of childhood only replayed by certain, strong movie images. I never read the books.

Maybe, had I known more about THIS book, my reaction would not have been so conflicted. Several friends are HUGE fans of the Broadway musical…………but my research after completing the book tells me that the play and the book have little in common. Other than the characters and general plot, the play is lighthearted compared to the novel. Maybe some reader who has experienced both can comment on that fact.

Gregory Maguire is indeed a talented writer. Any random page selected finds little nuggets of wordsmith gold. “Elphaba undid the cord and opened the wooden box. From a pile of ash shavings she withdrew a shoe, and then another. Were they silver? Or blue? Or now red? Lacquered with a candy shell brilliance of polish? It was hard to tell and it didn’t matter; the effect was dazzling. Even Madame Morrible gasped at their splendor. The surface of the shoes seemed to pulse with hundreds of reflections and refractions. In the firelight, it was like looking at boiling corpuscles of blood under a magnifying glass.” Such is Maguire’s description of the first viewing of the Ruby Red Slippers.

Going into this I thought the book would be a glance “behind the curtain” so to speak (pun intended) at the back story of the characters in The Wizard of Oz. Just what made that wicked witch so wicked? But since it was the back story of a children’s classic I was shocked, at nearly the beginning, that McGuire’s answers were so dark. We’re not far into the narrative when we discover the two wicked witches are the daughters of a promiscuous mother and an itinerant preacher. Their parentage is questionable. Elphaba, born first, was not only green at birth but with nasty little sharp teeth. We then find out her younger sister (wicked witch of the east) was born with a severe birth defect, she becomes a religious zealot, and quite the tyrant in Munchkinland before Dorothy’s house fell on her.

This makes the flying monkeys seem like a walk in the park.

And it gets much, much darker.

Yes, I was caught unaware and almost stopped reading the book several times. I forced myself to plow through to the end, hoping the payoff at the end would make the time spent worthwhile. Sorry to say, no payoff. Ending fell flat. Dorothy killed the witch, mostly by accident. I saw that in the movie. I didn’t need to experience children’s book characters in the Oz Red Light District to find out that ending. I think I just made up my mind. I hated this book.

Millions have read it, and other s written by Gregory Maguire. They find it thrilling and beautiful.

I felt like I needed a shower.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Us Hardy Coloradoans

You know how I talked about Colorado's new governor being inaugurated OUTSIDE?  While the temp was about 14? 

So I know someone who knows someone who took this shot.

Cool Huh?  (No pun intended).

Monday, January 10, 2011

Stock Show Weather

Round these parts it's called "Stock Show Weather".

Us natives know all about this...........come the second week of January we have this little tradition called The National Western Stock Show.  Just a 105 year tradition.  Lots of real cowboys and cowgirls to be seen.  Still a cowtown...........AND PROUD OF IT!!

And, true to form, with the National Western we almost always get this as well.

Yes a tad bit chilly.........but with the sun out during the day, not as bad as you would think.  After all, we are pretty close to the sun up here.

AND, believe it or not, just to prove what oxygen deprivation does here At Altitude...........tomorrow morning our Governor Elect Hickenlooper will be inaugurated...................OUTSIDE.............on the west steps of the State Capitol.  Those wacky Coloradoans!!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

It's Snowing

It's snowing and that makes me, my Mom and my dog happy.

Our Bessy likes to chase rabbits and field mice through the snow in the back yard.  She's a Colorado dog for sure.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Gerry Rafferty - Baker Street (R.I.P. January 4, 2011)

How many thousand times did I lay on by bedroom floor with the headphones on listening to this one???



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