Saturday, August 29, 2009

Julie and Julia

So my wife and I decided to go see Julie and Julia today at the old Grandin Theatre in Roanoke.

Simply put, there is no better place in the world to watch a movie. A classic Depression era movie palace, the Grandin fell on hard times in the 70's when new Star Wars megaplex's swallowed the market. I'll never forget seeing all the classic Disney movies there back in the 60's. My favorite was "Jungle Book." Watching in the huge, dark theatre surrounded by gargoyles always made the experience even more rich. In late 70's, the Grandin was taken over by the Mill Mountain Playhouse. The Playhouse needed a new home thanks to a devastating fire at their theatre atop Mill Mountain. The Grandin, with minor renovations, carried the theatre through until they scored new digs on the Market in Roanoke. One thing I learned only recently was that the actors in play productions had to use the alley behind the theatre as their costume/changing room. I heard one actor in a recent interview talk about being dressed as a soldier with a prop rifle standing in the alley waiting for his cue to go onstage when a City policeman responded to the cal of "Man with gun..."

During the Playhouse's Grandin days, I spent two summers volunteering as an usher during the summer stock productions. Dressing in a tie, carrying a flashlight, and saying yes ma'am to elderly patrons was all I needed to watch play after play for free.

After the Playhouse left, the theatre sat barren until it was saved and preserved by a community group. Over the years, the theatre has experienced a revival of sorts. It's palatial movie main house was carved up to enable to multiple screenings, yet the group managed to retain the original charm of the theatre. These days, the Grandin still serves the most enticing popcorn and shows the most thoughtful films in Roanoke.

I didn't know much about Julie and Julia when we made it to the 5:05 show. I figured it was about Julia Child and starred Meryl Streep. So it was bound to be good. We resisted the popcorn temptation and climbed the stairs to watch the movie in the small, former balcony, screening room.

The movie was incredible and has now moved to the top of my favorite movies of the the year list. I have always loved Julia Child, and Meryl Streep simply nailed her. Having never seen Amy Adams, I fell in love with her at first sight. The male actors featured in the film, Stanley Tucci (Paul Child) and Chris Messina (Eric Powell) provided powerful performances. Nora Ephron's seamless direction as she switched from present to past was stunning.

Not knowing anything about the film ahead of time allowed me to be completely surprised by the plot. Imagine my surprise when I learned that a central point in the plot was a blog that Julie, innocently began. A frustrated writer in search of an outlet, Julie is encouraged by her saintly husband to follow her passion (2002) and create a blog to write about cooking. As the plot develops, Julie begins to see the fruit of her labors as people begin reading her work online and commenting on it. Eventually her blog leads her to sort of cyber stardom.

When I innocently began this blog a few years ago, all I knew was that I needed an outlet to record the stuff I was always writing in the late hours of sleepless nights. Here's what I wrote in my first blog entry on May 9, 2006.

The Day Is Done

Entering in to the blogshere is a bit scary. It's a bit like taking some kind of leap off a building. Back 1994, I bought my first computer. With it, I managed to find a way to get access to an "800" dial-up line. T
he first thin
g I did was Netscape over to my favorite weather service site and view the latest satellite image. I thought the world stopped turning when i saw that image.

Now I'm entering a new world of communication. Perhaps I'll only be communicating with myself. That's fine by me however.

I love to write stories.

It turns out that really few people actually read this blog, and that's always been okay with me. I've never really been visited on the blog by famous people, although a fantastic equine artist did find it and reads it from time to time. My family sometimes reads it, so I'm always careful about what stories I tell. Also, for the first time last year, one of my third grade students found it and began spreading it around to her classmates. That, more than anything else, dampened my enthusiasm for expressing my truest feelings and ideas. Now, my blog lives in a G-rated world.

Over the years, I've grown other targeted blogs. I have a horse racing blog where my extended family can gather and read news from our family horse racing contest. I developed a specialized political blog with the goal of saving my local golf course from development. That more than anything else is my greatest blog success. While I pretty much handed off the keys to the blog to the local neighborhood alliance, the blog went on to pressure city council to stop their nonsensical, greedy development plans and convinced them to try actually running the golf course. Two years later, the course has been spared the wrecking ball and the city is about to agree to a five year extension of the golf course lease.

I've also been experimenting with another specialized blog which I keep rather private. It belongs to the members of my local teaching association. In it, I post local association news. It's growth has been modest. I think that teachers, in general, don't have much free time to spend viewing blogs during the school year and in the summer, they are too busy decompressing to really care.

My interest in blogging has waxed and waned over the past few years. I'm in the midst of one of those creative lulls right now. I haven't added much content to this or any of my blogs over the summer. I'm not sure why. Perhaps that third grader really did take the wind out of my sails.

After watching Julie and Julia, I am anxious to visit with the Google monster to see if I can find Julie's original blog. I'd like to see it in its original form. In the movie, Julie was portrayed with an appealing writer's innocence. I remember feeling that way when I wrote and later recorded my bear piece. Sometimes, when I take the time to ponder, I find myself missing that innocence.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

It is over...

...and it begins.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Pictures from OCS

[Click on any picture to enlarge]

Saturday, August 08, 2009

An Old Friend

I haven't created my double-decker bacon, cheese, and egg bagel in quite some time. So this morning, I decided to give it a try. It sure was fun to make it. I only use official Bodo's Bagels from Charlottesvile; however, I must confess that my stock of fresh bagels is running low. I've resorted to using Bodo's that we froze and have had laying around in the fridge for some time. I sizzled up some bacon, slow cooked my scrambled egg omelet style, dropped in some thinly sliced olives, and added on some slices of real American cheese and cheddar.

My other confession is that this creation didn't hold together well while I ate it. I guess my mouth just isn't wide enough.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Trivial Baseball Trivia

Baseball, more than any other sport, keeps track of numbers...all kinds of numbers.

Think about how much baseball has changed in the past 40 years. According to the baseball almanac, the tallest player on the 1967 New York Yankees was Steve Hamilton at 6'7". He was a left-hander and had his best year in 1964 when he went 7-2. Aside from him, no one on the team was over 6'2". The great Mickey Mantle was only listed at 5'11".

Most of the players on the 1967 Yankees weighed less than 200lbs. Charlie Sands and Hal Reniff were listed the heaviest at 215lbs. That's it...just 215lbs. Mickey Mantle weighed 198lbs. My favorite Yankee of the time, Roy White, weighed only 172lbs at 5'10".

The 1967 Tigers (my other favorite team) boasted several players (mostly pitchers) in the 6'3" range. However, very few players topped 200lbs. In fact, I would have bet that Gates Brown weighed more than 220lbs and Willie Horton weighed more than 209.

Comparing the '67 Yankees with the 2007 Yankees. On the '07 roster, only five players were listed as being under 6'0" with their average height being just over 6'2". The average height of the '67 Yankee players was 6'00.5". Ten players were listed under 6'00".

The average weight of the 1967 Yankees was almost 187 lbs. The average weight of the 2007 Yankees was just over 200lbs. Perhaps the '07 players had fatter wallets.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

A Pilgrimage

I like to frame my summer by visiting McAfee's Knob in Catawba, VA. The hike is a bit strenuous for me since I'm not in the greatest shape. The reward, however, is always great, no matter the weather.

Today, I decided to focus my photo on the scrub growth at the mountain top. There, you will find lots of mountain laurel, blueberry bushes, and scrub pines. All of the pines and other trees are completely stunted from the constant wind.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Power of Expectation

Expectations. Your brain is wired to predict.

You probably remember Bobby McFerrin. Of course, he's most remembered for his 1988 mega-hit, "Don't Worry, Be Happy." He's still around and still messin' with your mind. Watch the video and be amazed.

World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale from World Science Festival on Vimeo.