Tuesday, February 24, 2009

That's better. Kinda.

So I post the story about Max on Monday. Tuesday night I start feeling a sore throat coming on and a general malaise begins to sink in. Wednesday it kicks into high gear and I feel horrible. Thursday (my birthday) I wake up, throw up, lose my voice, hack up both lungs, and stay in bed most of the day. Friday, Saturday and Sunday were all exercises in frustration trying to get my voice back.

Monday morning I woke up feeling like a truck had run over me. Twice. Then backed up and did it again for good measure. But as the morning progressed, I felt better. Much, much better.

Today when I woke up, it was sans the sensation of being roadkill. Tonight I'm having another round of coughing fits but they lack the sheer intensity of the ones that have ravaged me the past week. I'm guessing at this rate I should be back to full strength with only a recurring dry cough by Thursday of this week. And my voice has started really coming back so hopefully I'll have that by tomorrow or also by Thursday at the latest.

This year's version of the cold should be avoided at any and all costs. If you hear someone coughing, run for your life.

Monday, February 16, 2009

It Goes Without Saying

I'm washing Maxs clothes tonight while My Fair Lady recuperates from not feeling so well and I double checked a label on one of his outfits.

"Keep away from fire."

Thanks for the warning there, chief. I'll make sure little Max isn't roasting smores at the ripe old age of three months while in this particular jammy. The one with the frog head for a cap though bears no such warning, which means when we go camping next week and try to slay a bear with our bare (zing!) hands I'll know what outfit to pack.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What's this? What's this? There's something in the air!

1) Normally I don't quote musicals while blogging but that one line was all that floated through my brain this morning.

2) Verizon FIOS has a nasty habit of resetting their boxes whenever a power surge or anything even flickers.

3) Max hit 12 weeks today.

Now, what do these three things have in common? Max almost slept through the night last night. That's what they have in common.

As all new parents know, no baby sleeps through the night right away. People who claim their child magically does are, pardon my language, fucking liars. To. A. One. Doesn't matter if your baby has colic or not. It ain't sleeping through the night for the first month, maybe not even the second. It may sleep through long stretches, but by and large those stretches are going to range between one to three hours.

Max hit almost a full 11 hours last night. I say "almost" because he was up three times but it wasn't so bad. New parents look for the good in literally anything because they want their child to mature (not grow up mind you) enough so that all of you can sleep through the night again.

Here is Max's normal nighttime routine we've established:

6:30 - 6:45 p.m. = Bath time. We strip him down, put him in the bath, and wash him every other day so as to not dry out his skin. Other days we just let him splash around. As a result, he's really taken to enjoying being in water which is a far cry from his mother.

7:00 - 7:30 p.m. = Feeding. This is his "final" feeding before bed time. Then we change him, and wrap him in the Miracle Blanket. One of us then walks him while burping him and works to put him to sleep. We lay him down in his crib, turn on the sound machine (set to White Noise) and close the bedroom door. He then sleeps normally until about 10 p.m.-ish when he'll wake up hungry. From that point on we feed him, change him, put him right back down. This last part involves rocking some nights, no rocking other nights.

Last night here's how it went.

6:45 - 7:00 p.m. = bath time
7:00 - 7:30 p.m. = feeding time
7:30 - 8:30 p.m. = me walking while holding him trying to get him to go to sleep while my dinner grew colder by the second

For whatever reason he did not want to go to sleep. He wasn't fussy at all though. He just calmly looked at me while I held him, yawned every now and then, but otherwise was wide awake. Then I put him in The Crook* of my arm and it was like a light switched off. Out he went and out he stayed.

I'll explain The Crook* in a separate post.

I put him down and went on about my night. He woke back up about 10:30 p.m. which was fine. My Fair Lady fed him, then I took over changing him and rocking him. The catch was he was so far asleep and completely limp that there was no need to excessively rock him. So I laid him down and he went back to sleep. Since I was still awake and needed something to put me to sleep, I went and played "Assassin's Creed."


Max woke up again at 2 a.m. for his nightly feeding. I told My Fair Lady that I would change him and put him down after the feeding and to come wake me up after she was done. She agreed and I went back to sleep. Fast forward to this morning.

I hear Max crying via the baby monitor and immediately snap half out of my stupor. I look at the time on the Verizon box and it says 141. "Dammit!" I shouted, loud enough apparently to awaken My Fair Lady. "Wait a sec. Weren't you supposed to wake me when you were done feeding him?" I asked.

"Yeah, he went right down though so I just did it myself," she replied. "What time is it?"

"I have no idea." Max cried out again. "What the hell is the time?!?!"

"Oh my God," came the response from the other side of the bed. "It's 7 a.m."

We just looked at each other stunned. We got out of bed and I fetched Max while she up the feeding station. I brought him out and he immediately latched onto her. Meanwhile she and I just stared at each other and at him in complete shock. He'd actually slept and woken up at clockwork intervals, specifically ones we could handle. We needed to get up at 7 a.m. anyway and we went to sleep around 10 p.m. anyway. One time in the middle of the night is no big deal. Not a bad way to start off his 12th week.

"What's this? What's this? There's something in the air!" blared through my head at full volume.

Here's hoping there is more joy to come. Oh, and he's an incredibly happy baby right now and his parents both feel more alive than they have since November. Amazing what a decent night's sleep can do for you.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Now Playing: Run Fatboy Run

I’m an ardent fan of Simon Pegg. “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” are hilarious, surprisingly deep films made by geeks for geeks. But rather than be tribute films chock full of references to the exclusion of plot (looking at you, “… Movie” uh, movies), they were smashing entertainments all their own. That they spoke the language of their respective genres fluently was almost incidental.

“Run Fatboy Run” is not up to either of those. It’s amusing for the most part, and laugh out loud funny a few times, but on the whole is a surprisingly toothless affair. It isn’t like Pegg is incapable of going dark (witness the battle in the bar at the end of “Shaun”) but here he’s just going through the motions. Granted, several of those motions are damn funny.

Pegg plays a guy who literally ran away from his pregnant fiancĂ© (Thandie Newton) on their wedding day, and he’s more or less been running from life for the subsequent five years. He’s stuck as a security guard for a clothing store, he’s behind on his rent, and he’s not setting the best example for his son. He’s happy with life though, despite not going anywhere at all. But that changes when his ex brings home a dashing and successful money man (Hank Azaria) who can offer her and their son all the things that Pegg can’t.

Pegg winds up deciding to run a charity marathon against Azaria and a large chunk of the film is his hilarious training. A few of the running gags killed me, like his repeated failure to set his alarm clock, but the charming story sort of runs out of gas right before the marathon.

The good news is it picks back up again in ways I wasn’t expecting once the marathon begins, and the result will leave a smile on your face. Especially the way they depict “The Wall.” You’ll know it when they come to it. So to speak.

First time director David Schwimmer of all people manages to keep things moving but overall lacks the lively touch of frequent Pegg contributor Edgar Wright. Wright brings an energy and focus to his films that is sorely lacking here.

“Run Fatboy Run” is a charming film, but far from a top notch one. Pegg is great as usual and has earned enough cred with me that I’ll see him in whatever he does. If supporting him means more films like “Hot Fuzz” and “Shaun of the Dead” then I’ll even go see him in next summer’s “Star Trek” not-a-reboot.

Now Playing: For Roseanna

This is the gem I whip out whenever someone demands to know why I can’t stand “Titanic.” At least I did back when James Cameron’s magnum sudser was the de facto standard for love stories aimed squarely at the tween demographic.

In the intervening years, it’s become more popular to use “Titanic” as the punching bag I always knew it to be, but one thing needs to be clear right from the start – I called it an Epic Fail opening night and have never wavered in my judgment.

So when the inevitable “you just hate romance movies, don’t you?” lines would start up I would use “For Roseanna” as my “nuh uh!” ticket out of the conversation.

Jean Reno, favorite fanboy heavy of “The Professional” and “Ronin” fame, goes way against type as the frantic Marcello. He and his wife Roseanna (Mercedes Ruhl) lost their daughter some time ago, and Roseanna wants more than anything to be buried next to her when her time is up. Roseanna has a weak heart and could go at any time, so Marcello sees it as his life’s mission to keep everyone in the village alive long enough that Roseanna can safely secure her grave spot.

Sure it may sound morbid on paper, but the heart of it is the extent to which a loving and devoted husband will go for his wife. “Titanic” was all flash-in-the-pan affair-driven lust. “For Roseanna” is about what it’s like 20 years later, and what can happen when two people are genuinely devoted to and love one another. The passion, joy, and fun that everyone aspires to when they say “yes” followed 3-24 months later by “I do.”

That’s why I hold this film up, because it celebrates the very thing that the real world has over Hollywood – the heights that genuine, true love can reach.

Plus, the film is damn funny. Reno is simply hilarious as he juggles his wife’s illness, their restaurant, Roseanna’s sister (who lives with them), and the lives of literally every one in the town. Of particular note is his reaction to the climax of a subplot involving an ex-con that literally leaves me gasping for air each time I see it. It’s a shame I haven’t seen him in more roles like this because he imbues Marcello with an honest and bottomless heart.

Ruhl is equally dazzling as Roseanna. She masks a deep sadness regarding the loss of her child by trying to take care of everyone but herself. She knows her clock is counting down, and intends to make the most of it before the final chime sounds. Ruhl is a rock solid counterpoint to Reno, and the two of them make beautiful music together.

Hollywood is invariably focused on the here and now. That comes from 100 years of marketing to the 18-32 demographic. But “For Roseanna” aims higher and goes about it in a smaller, quieter manner. As such, this little gem remains solidly in my Top 10.

Before anyone brings it up, yes my Top 10 tends to hold anywhere from 15-30 films at any given time. Step off.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Achievement Unlocked

Max just rolled over onto his left side for the first time. Then we put him on his stomach and he did it again right away. For those keeping track at home, that's called scoreboard.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Now Playing: Logan's Run

The Internet Movie Database issued a challenge directly to my brain without even intending to. I found a feature on their site that when you register (free, though I imagine my inbox will shortly be deluged by spam) you have access to something called MyMovies. This nifty gem lets you add and sort all manner of films you’ve seen into whatever categories you feel like creating.

Want to create a list of all the romantic comedies you’ve seen, or only the ones you would recommend? It’s great to have options, but I took a different plunge:

I wanted to know what I’ve seen, period. In total.

Those who know me just read that sentence and laughed saying a variation on the following sentence, “Good luck with that chief, you’ll never finish that list.”

I would agree even though I blew north of 300 listed films right off the top of my head. If I really worked at it I’m sure I’d probably climb closer to 1,000 without too much of a struggle. But then I found a link on Wikipedia that lists every single film that was released in every single year since the late 1800s.

Oh yes, I found my Holy Grail™. I’m up to 1940 or so now, and I’m already dreading when I hit the 1970s. Why you ask?

Because I realized courtesy of this list that there are a few GLARING holes in my extensive cinematic knowledge. I’ve seen virtually everything under the sun, or so I thought. But then I found this list and went down the rabbithole and when you combine this with Netflix I’m able to plug those holes with gleeful abandon.

Such was the case with “Logan’s Run” and I honestly wish that hole had remained.

This film is an awful, cheap-ass 70’s sci-fi clunker with some of the dreariest dialogue, horrid costume design, and virtually no sets to speak of. Not that it lacks for imagination. Anyone trying to pass off a hotel or conventional hall lobby as the town square of the future deserves kudos for chutspaz. Even the famed “Run runner” line is poorly delivered by an emotionally constipated Michael York. Speaking of which, let’s talk motivation.

York and his pal Richard Jordan play Sandmen, futuristic hit men who execute people that would rather run instead of facing mandatory execution once they hit the age of 30. So let’s see here. I can be killed when I hit 30 by a machine called Sanctuary or be killed by a guy with a light pistol calling himself a Sandman. Hmm. How about Door #3 where I get the hell out of this place when I’m 18?

York’s Sandman is tasked with tracking down all escaped runners and destroying their hidden refuge. Since he can’t tell anyone what he’s doing, his friend goes berserk immediately when he sees York behaving strangely. This in no way implies a man-crush or unrequited love between the two. Oh no. It practically shakes you by the shoulders while screaming it in your face.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

As odd and under-financed as it appears, the movie deserves major kudos for wanton 70's nudity, which is always welcome in my DVD player. Another snicker comes from seeing the Fort Worth Water Gardens at the end as a futuristic water recycling... something. Plus I think I've been in the building they used as the primary city hall or some such, because the layout and architecture remained exactly in tact through the 1990s. I would imagine it's still there, but beyond pegging it somewhere on the Plano/Richardson border, I don't recall where it is. A shame, really.

Oh, and what’s with the weak fight at the end? The bad guy gets three love taps from a pole and rolls over? What the hell is that? THIS was a giant hit in 1976?!?!?!?!

At least Star Wars came out the following year and showed what genuine science fiction is. This film is so horrible I’m stunned it wasn’t the lead off picture of MST3K.