Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

Hippo birdy to me

September 22, 2013

I had a very pleasant birthday. Thank you for all the good wishes.

We’ve been having a run of warm weather, and my birthday was no exception. It was a sunny, cheerful day that made us want to open all the windows and go stretch our legs on the lawn. I started the day by going to the pool to swim. I’ve been heading to the pool for a couple of weeks now since the nights have turned cold and that brings the pond’s temperature down rather fast. I had a very nice swim, although there was a group of little kids who came in to splash around in the shallow end for a while, too.

E. and I took the afternoon to play World of Warcraft together, something we haven’t had the time to do very much lately. In the evening, we went out to have dinner and see a movie. We picked a movie called The Mortal Instruments, something we’d seen previews for back in the summer and that looked interesting. It’s late in the movie’s run, so the two of us were the only people in the theatre, which was good, because the movie turned out to be a real turkey. We got to laugh at it and make snarky remarks to each other without worrying about bothering anyone else.

Back at home we played a little more before heading to bed. It was a lovely, relaxing day to spend together with E. I haven’t gotten many of those lately, so I appreciate them when they come.

My first couple weeks of classes have gone well. I’m getting a feel for my classes’ personalities and they’re mostly good. My first Homer class is a little hesitant to talk, but we still manage to have a conversation. The rest of my classes are very well engaged and get into the discussion.


Heat wave

July 8, 2013

We’ve had a run of unbearably hot weather lately. Daytime highs have been in the low to mid nineties and the nights have not been much better. The humidity has also been awful, making things that much worse.

We’ve done what we can to cope with the weather. We open windows in the evening to let in the cooler air, then keep them shut during the day. We’ve set up the futon and an air mattress in the living room to sleep on since its a few dergees cooler downstairs than up. On some of the worst days we’ve escaped the house to go to the movies or go shopping, wherever we can find air conditioning. We’ve seen Joss Whedon’s Much Ado about Nothing, the new Pixar movie Monsters University, and the Superman reboot Man of Steel. (I heartily recommend Much Ado. It’s a great example of what you can do with limited technical resources– shot in 12 days all in Whedon’s home– but a group of fantastic actors. Nathan Fillion as Dogberry is a special treat.)

When I last went up to New Hampshire to pick up our weekly fish I spotted an L. L. Bean outlet store on my route. On one hot day we made a trip up there to do some shopping. I picked up some shorts and some pants and both of us had some things that needed returning.

On July 4th a couple of ladies in the neighborhood hosted a community cookout. It was one of the very hot days, but we turned up. It was a small gathering in the end, but it included some of the people in the neighborhood that we like so it was nice to see them and share some good food.

There is a turkey hen with a brood of five chicks who have all been visiting our yard on a regular basis, despite the heat. Yesterday we saw both them and two more hens, one of whom had her own brood of chicks. They will come right up to the house and give us a good view. It has been such fun to watch them.

An unexpected journey

December 19, 2012

E. and I had a day out a few days ago.  We went to a couple of local malls to do some Christmas shopping and window shopping.  It was a drizzly Monday with school still in session, so for the Christmas season, things were pretty quiet, just the way we like them.  We did a lot of browsing and a little bit of buying, then stopped for lunch, then went back and did a little more.

Once we were done, we went to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first of the new three-film Hobbit series.  We love Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films so much it was wonderful to be back in that world.  As always, the art direction and New-Zealand-as-Middle-Earth scenery were almost worth the price of admission in themselves, and Martin Freeman makes for both an excellent Bilbo Baggins in his own right and a great match for Ian Holm as the elderly Bilbo.  The film is more childish than LotR, but it is true to the book in that way, since the Hobbit was a children’s book.  There are also some worrying signs that Peter Jackson is being indulged a little too much in his desire to make everything bigger and crazier.  I really hope that this trilogy does not go the way of the Star Wars prequels in being stuffed full of everything the director thinks is exciting regardless of whether it is good for the movie or not.  Like George Lucas, Peter Jackson seems to be a brilliant director as long as there is someone to occasionally tell him “no.”

New York mini-vacation

August 13, 2012

After playing host for most of July, we decided to treat ourselves to a little mini-getaway for a couple of days just for a change of scenery. After looking at various possibilities we decided to go to New York. This may sound strange, given how much both of us hate New York, but we had a good reason for going: Iron Sky.

Iron Sky is a new sci-fi/comedy movie that was conceived and initiated in Finland and produced with a lot of international crowdsourcing. E. knows a few people who were involved in making the film. It is not being widely released in the US but there are individual showings being organized around the country. We have since discovered showings being organized closer to us, but when we were making our getaway plans, New York was the most easily accessible place which had a confirmed showing. So we decided we might as well go there, and I’m glad we did.

The movie was very impressive as a visual spectacle. The movie was well directed and the special effects were on par with any Hollywood blockbuster. We both found the story a little lacking (when your premise is “Nazis on the moon,” the script has a lot of selling to do), but it’s exciting to see something like this come out of Finland.

We also got discounted tickets to see Spider-man: Turn off the Dark. We got very good orchestra seats from TKTS and we enjoyed the show. For all of its reputation as a troubled production, it was a lot of fun. I gather that the script has been changed a lot from Julie Taymor’s original rather Spider-man-free vision and now it is a creditable stage rendition of Spider-man’s origin story. The aerial stunts and acrobatics were impressive and the main actors handled their roles well.

We also, of course, made the pilgrimage back to Pisticci, our favorite restaurant and pretty much the only thing we do miss from New York. We went their for dinner one night and lunch the next day, even though we were otherwise down on lower Manhattan and it was a bit out of our way. The food is just as good as we remember and the atmosphere just as cozy.

Everything went well until we were on our way home when heavy weather delayed our flight to Boston by over six hours. Fortunately, we were mostly stuck in the airport and only spent the last hour sitting on the plane waiting to take off and the plane crew were very good about handing out drinks and snacks and keeping us updated on the situation.

Now we’re home again and starting to get ready to go back to work in the fall.


April 1, 2010

A couple of modestly noteworthy anniversaries have passed.

For one, we have now been living in Heather House for about a year and a month. We are still both very much in love with the house. We can’t seem to stop remarking to one another about how lucky we were to find this house. Clearly, this was the right choice for us. I don’t enjoy my commute into Salem all that much, but it could certainly be worse, and I think it’s worth it to come home to a house that I enjoy so much.

On another note, it has been over a year since we last watched broadcast television. The last thing I watched on broadcast tv was Obama’s inauguration; I don’t know if E. has watched anything since then. We haven’t even bothered to get a digital converter box. This doesn’t mean we haven’t been enjoying tv programming– we have been watching plenty on DVDs and online where we can watch as much as we feel like at a time, whenever we want to, pause to go get a drink or back up a few minutes to catch a missed line whenever we feel like it. We are definitely part of the new generation that advertisers and broadcasters are so antsy about who are no longer interested in watching broadcast television and are getting our entertainment in other ways that are harder to landmine with advertisements.

Noteworthy in another way is the incredible three-day rainstorm we have just come out of. Rock Pond is high once again, although not up to the same levels as before. Lots of roads are flooded or washed out, including several that are part of my commute. All week I’ve had to find alternate routes to and from work, which is getting frustrating. I’ve had students miss class because their cars got flooded up to the windows, which is rotten to have to deal with. We are still high and dry in Heather House, with no more than a little seepage into our basement. If these past two storms didn’t flood us, I think we can feel pretty safe for the coming decades.

Radio drama

June 27, 2009

Yesterday while I was driving home from campus I had the radio on in the car, tuned to the local public radio news station, WBUR, as usual. Normally I get the signal perfectly clearly, but this time there was a lot of interference. I tried fiddling with the tuner, but to no avail. The sound kept breaking up and turning into something different, as if I were getting interference from another radio station, which is what I figured it must be. Then I started noticing that in the interference I was hearing some of the same newscasts being repeated, delayed by anything from a few seconds to a couple of minutes, but with the same recognizable NPR personalities. That’s weird, I thought to myself. I know there’s another public radio station in the area, but they mostly play music, and their channel is nowhere near this one. Then, I heard: “This is Wisconsin public radio.”


I could believe it if I were getting interference from a New Hampshire station, but Wisconsin? All I can figure is that something funny must have been going on at the WBUR transmitters. Something very funny.

On the other hand, of all days to have my commuting-time news interrupted by technical difficulties, this was not too bad. Most of the reporting seemed to be about Michael Jackson. I wasn’t interested in hearing about that man when he was alive, and while the fact of his death is arguably a newsworthy event, I am no more interested in hearing about him now.

Yet people say, I know not why, that we shall have a warm July

April 27, 2009

Yesterday we got a burst of hot heather, which continues today. In the past few weeks we’ve been having temperatures in the sixties; yesterday it was up in the eighties and tomorrow may be even hotter. We stayed inside in the middle hours of the day when the sun was at its hottest, but a little later in the afternoon we went outside to enjoy it. Strolling down in the woods we could see a lot of new pale green leaves starting to pop out. Then we worked at filling in more of the pebble border around the foundation. We used two buckets: while I was filling up one with small rocks, E. was emptying the other into the border. When one bucket was full and the other empty, we traded off buckets and went back to it.

After a refreshing shower and a change of clothes, we headed down to Salem to have dinner out and go to the SSC theatre production of Pirates of Penzance. It was a delightful production and a lot of fun. All of the performers did well, both the characters and the choruses, and some of them had very good singing voices. The Major-General had a squeaky little voice and fussy mannerisms that fit the character perfectly. The policemen were quite the clowns and the daughters were giggly and silly. Several of my students have been in the technical crew for the production, but none of them were on stage.