The Proposal

proposalAfter jotting down some notes in Angie’s file, after recommending she drink lots of Gatorade (for the electrolytes), after she explained about how sick she’s been after last week’s recess duty in close to one hundred degree weather on a shadeless blacktop playground … after all that, our doctor looked at us and smiled.  “My wife and I just saw a movie I think you two would really like.  It’s called The Proposal.”

I’d seen the trailers before.  Kind of a “chick flick,” I had thought at the time.  Not that I was being dismissive; there are many “chick flicks” I have enjoyed watching.  Fifty First Dates was good fun.  The Legally Blonde movies were entertaining as they gleefully poked fun at the legal profession.  Come to think of it, when I used the word “chick flick,” I really meant “date movie.”  A “chick flick” is something you’d see on the Lifetime network or Oxygen.  Date movie is a much better description of what I’m talking about, and is more inclusive of great comedy-action movies like The Princess Bride and The Incredibles.   Continue reading The Proposal

Internalizing

When faced with a child who misbehaves, I usually work with the homeroom teacher to try to determine what may be causing or reinforcing the behavior. Standard procedure, I know. But when developing a plan to help manage the child’s behavior, one thing I usually say first of all is, “We can’t ‘make’ a child behave in an appropriate way. What we have to do is take what we have learned about the child and create an environment that compels the child to make the right decisions with regard to his behavior.”

I’ve always thought that was a rather accurate and wise way to put it, if I don’t say so myself. I’ve been explaining it that way to general classroom teachers for over a decade. But I recently went to a conference on PBS, positive behavior supports, and was privileged to hear one of my old grad school professors, Dr. Tim Lewis deliver the keynote address. As he went through his speech which sounded so familiar, I had to chuckle when I heard him say this:

I’ve always been quick to internalize things that work, without attribution. Isn’t it amazing the impact a good teacher can have on students, even when the student is a teacher, too?

Star Trek

startrek

I’ve always liked Star Trek, so I guess you can call me a “trekkie,” but I’m not a “dress up like an alien and go to a convention” kind of trekkie. In fact, I really only like the original series, though there are certain isolated episodes of the subsequent shows I have enjoyed. As a whole, the newer ones tend to be more arrogant and preachy in tone. They “tell” while the original episode “showed.”

I guess this gives me an unusual perspective on the new movie. While I found it entertaining, it felt disconnected from the original series it was supposed to connect to. The characters were all a little off, and without supplying any spoilers, I suppose there is a good reason built into the story for that. Still, taken by itself, it was an entertaining movie, and I’d have to give it my recommendation. The less you are attached to the original series, the more you will like this one, I think.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop

mallcopOkay, so this movie isn’t going to sweep the Oscars.  In fact, it could be described as silly fun.  But sometimes you want nothing more from a movie but a comedic escape.  If that’s what you’re looking for, check out Paul Blart:  Mall Cop.

I’ve been a fan of Kevin James’s work for awhile.  From his role on television’s King of Queens to his hilarious dance lesson from Wil Smith in Hitch, James never fails to deliver the laughs – especially when the comedy is physical.  There’s no shortage of physical comedy in Mall Cop, but, as is typical of James’s work, the story also has a heartwarming side.  It’s at its heart, Mall Cop is the story of an underdog being thrust into a seemingly impossible situation and rising to the occasion.

In short, where a lot of today’s movie comedy is sarcastic and mean-spirited, this movie is a good, light-hearted alternative.  Angie and I got a kick out of it.

Gran Torino

grantorino

Movies are something my dad and I have shared for many years now.   When I went away to grad school, I would not only come home every Saturday to watch the latest HBO premier movie, but I would bring back tapes I had recorded from my residence hall’s closed circuit movie channel – movies that weren’t even on regular cable yet.   Each week, I’d bring home half a dozen or so of them, and then Dad and I would make a pizza and enjoy the Saturday HBO premiere.

I’ve also shared some good movies with Dad at the theater.  One of the best was Apollo 13.   That’s one movie that just isn’t the same on the small screen.  Conspiracy Theory was also good fun, and there have been many others.

We had meant to see the new James Bond movie in the theater, Quantum of Solace.   We enjoyed the last one so well on DVD, and we thought it would be a perfect movie to see at the theater with all its action.  But unfortunately, it left our local theater before we had a chance to see it.   We were bummed about it until we saw that Gran Torino was coming out.  We were able to catch that one.

Gran Torino was good.  Tragic and heroic in its quiet, yet explosive kind of way.   It was really enjoyable.   But the real fun of movies is sharing them with someone, like your best girl, your dad, or in this case: both!

Zombie Fluxx

zombie“So, what are the rules to this game?”

“Each player draws one card and plays one card on their turn.”

That sounded simple enough. Of course, I neglected to ask how you win the game. Even had that occurred to me, there would have been no answer to that question. The game goals are defined by the cards played. That’s right, the conditions for winning are fluid. Some cards you play have you do one time actions like draw multiple cards or steal cards from another player. And even the core rules can change by the playing of rule cards.

It was a fun evening of games and visiting: a first “couples date,” so to speak with our new friends. Now, the question is, how do you follow up a game like Zombie Fluxx? Killer Bunnies, anyone?

Election year maze

corn03Now here’s an interesting metaphor.  Our annual trip to Shryock’s Corn Maze took on an intriguing theme:  the U. S. presidential election.

I suppose as we have to chart a course through the maze, progressing through many obstacles and making decisions at every intersection, we should also ponder the presidential election as we, the people, chart a course for our country, keep our nation progressing through many obstacles and choose someone who we think will be making the right decisions at every intersection.

Or at least for this year, making the right decisions much more often than the other candidate.

The “Cos”

billcosbySo we got some tickets to see Bill Cosby in concert down in Branson….

My first exposure to Bill Cosby’s standup humor came, of all places, in high school.  Yes, I had an English teacher/coach, who, as English teacher/coaches go, was good at what he did.  Quirky, but good.  He actually read to our class a self-published novel he had written.  Of course, his idol was Stephen King, so most of the teens in his novel died by the end.  Like I said, he was quirky.  As a reward to us near the end of the term, he showed us Bill Cosby:  Himself.

I know, I have digressed somewhat.

But then again, so does Bill Cosby.  Maybe not quite as rambling as me, but more like your favorite old uncle who always tells you stories.  That was what watching Bill Cosby in concert is like now.  He starts stories, moves on to others, then comes back to the first one in a way that made me feel like he’d invited us over for dinner and we were now enjoying some after-dinner conversation.

He spun his humorous stories from a chair in the middle of the stage.  He was wearing a casual sweatshirt, and it looked like he was fighting a cold by the way he went to the tissue box at various times during his performance.

Though still autobiographical, his humor has changed from Bill Cosby:  Himself.  Of course that was over twenty years ago.  Then, he talked about his family, being a father, his kids, his childhood.  Now, at 71 years of age, his jokes are more about the challenges of getting old, trying to swap recipes with fussy neighbors, and visits to the doctor and dentist.

I particularly enjoyed some of the stories about him and his wife Camille.  I “get” that he’s taken some liberty with the “grumpy” exchanges he describes in his routine.  The deep love and understanding that makes a 44-year marriage happen always sneaks in between the lines of his jokes.

“You get to my age, you can sit like this in a room, no TV, no radio, just sitting in a room, and you can get into trouble.”

“My wife will say, ‘I just straightened up in there!’   Well, I must be the mess.”

I hear you, Cos.  And Angie and I really enjoyed you having us over last night.

417 Idea Home

I like to surprise Angie with “extra destinations” on our annual birthday trips.  (The first corn maze we went to in Columbia was a big birthday surprise.)  This year was no different.  The fun we had in Springfield would probably have been enough (Japanese Stroll Garden, Braums, Battlefield Mall), but I wasn’t finished yet.  I took her down to tour the 417 Idea Home in Branson.

We’ve been talking about building a home for some time now.  The Idea Home was a collaborative effort that took four years to complete.  The home featured the best of what local architects, designers, builders, and suppliers had to offer.  It was meant to be an inspiration for people who want to build their own homes using the latest materials and technology.  Something that you can actually touch and walk around in.  And, best of all, Angie had never heard of it.

It was great fun for both of us, and it fueled another round of design plans and revisions.  One day, one day….

How to play chess

I came across an instruction slip that must have come from a chess game I had at school.  I thought it might help someone learn how to become a great player, so I’m posting it here.  (Please note, if you look carefully, you might find a couple of typos.  They are not mine; I wanted to reproduce these instructions in all the glory of the original.)

CHESS INSTRUCMON

Loc are drawn to estaohsh who has the while chessmen and thus, who can move first.  This player is then allowed the 16 black chess pieces.  The board is positioned so that each player has a dark corner square on his left.  The rooks are positioned on the two corner square to the left and right.  Next to these come the two corner square to the left and right.  Next to these come the two knights.  One on the left and one on the right.  Next to these, the two bis hops and in the center.  The queen and king, the white queen is always positioned on a light square and black queen on a dark square.  The eight pawns are then placed adjacently in the second row in frond of these chess’ pieces.  The pawns are then placed adjacently in the vance from its initial quare on the second rank, the pawnhas the option of moving one or Two-squa res.  The rook moves only on the ranks and files any distance and the bishop only on the diagonals.  The queen can move in any direction The knights are the only pieces which are able to change direction during the course of a move and “jump over” one’s own or one’s opponent’s pieces; a knight takes one step of one single square along the file or rank and then, still moving many from the square that it has left, takes one step along the diagonal.  The king may move in any direction, one step at a time.   Continue reading How to play chess