Sunday, December 28, 2003

A belated Merry Christmas to you all. We had a rainy Christmas down here, and I was ill to boot, so our plans of visiting Legoland Christmas day fell through, which is unfortunate since I'd already purchased discount tickets at work (they don't expire for another year, however). Had a good Christmas, nonetheless.

Woke up at 6 to open presents, which took two hours or so. I was happy that the presents I purchased went over well. The Mexican wrestling masks I got my brother-in-law were one highlight. I got themed gifts for him; Mexican wrestling masks, Los Straightjackets CDs (I bought him one on-line, decided it wouldn't come in time for Christmas and bought one from a store, and then got the other one in the mail a few days before Christmas), and a Strong Bad CD, he being a fan of Strong Bad. My sister seemed to enjoy the case of Dr. Pepper from the oldest Dr. Pepper factory in operation. After getting it, I realized it would be a problem for her getting it home, but she was able to get some up with her this trip, and can bring more next time she comes down. I also got her a Dr. Pepper shirt and another Lemony Snicket book. My sister got me the Mighty Wind album (I already have it on CD, so I'll save the vinyl one in mint condition) and Simpsons Hit and Run, which is fun (better than Road Rage, I'd have to say). My mom got me several DVDs, including the Alec Guinness Collection and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. I also got Simpsons Jeopardy, which is fun, except that no one can touch me on Simpsons trivia, so no one wants to play with me more than one time. And once you assemble the board, it won't fit back in the box, which is a bit of a problem. I got some CDs (Tom Waits, Texas Tornadoes) and books (Bob Zmuda's book on Andy Kaufman, some Johnny Cash biographies), and other stuff. I did not get the Johnny Cash Unearthed box set, which I didn't ask for, since I knew Mom was about done with her shopping before that even came out, but I was still hoping might turn up. I went to Costco on Friday, but they no longer carried it, which is a shame, since I haven't seen it under $50 anywhere else. I also didn't get the rare edition of The Bad Beginning, nor the Series of Unfortunate Events calendar (which I didn't ask for, but considering my sister ended up getting about eight calendars for Christmas, I thought someone might get me one). But overall, if I wasn't completely thrilled by my gifts, it's because I didn't ask for anything too thrilling. And I did like most of what I got, especially the above-mentioned. After we'd opened everything, I asked Mom if she got everything she wanted. She said yes (liar!), at which point I asked Tanner what he got her, and he told me to look in the front room, so we all went out there, where Mom's last gift was, wrapped in paper bags my brother-in-law decorated for me to look like a packing crate marked "fragile." I got her a desk lamp modeled on the "major award" from A Christmas Story. She had mentioned it at least ten times in the week leading up to Christmas, yet claims she never in a million years dreamed she would get it for Christmas. We all gathered in front of the house to gaze on it glowing at dawn, and it was truly a beautiful sight. So I was happy my gifts went over well.

The rest of Christmas was uneventful. We watched some of the DVDs people got for Christmas, The Ladykillers, as hilarious as I remembered it, and Finding Nemo, which I didn't care for, probably because I dislike the color orange. I think I liked Finding Nemo better the first time I saw it, when my screen saver came on at work. The day after Christmas was when my flu peaked, so I didn't do much of anything. But it did get me out of going to the airport to see off Michelle and Eric, though I guess it wasn't too crowded, since most people spent the weekend wherever they went for Christmas.

Things I've read/watched/listened to lately: The Triplets of Belleville, which I enjoyed very much, though the story was a bit weak at times. The grandma is the focus of the story, but they should have developed the grandson a bit, if the story is going to be driven by events around him. But it hardly matters. Great soundtrack, also. And as the father of an overweight dog, it's nice to see the issue handled on film. The short by Disney and Dali they showed beforehand, Destino, was also interesting. I saw both at MoPA, where I hadn't seen a movie in at least a year, so it was nice to go there again. They have a Film Noir series coming up, so I'm sure I'll be back.

I read two children books recently. The New York Review of Books publishing arm recently republished The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily by Dino Buzatti. Wonderful illustrations and a nice story about bears waging war against humans, setting up a enlightened kingdom amonst the humans, and struggling with the corrupting influences of human life. I enjoyed it, but didn't quite touch me as deeply as I thought it might. Some of the verse portions were wonderful, but others were quite awkward, whether from the original source or due to translation I couldn't say. Hyphenating a word to achieve a rhyme seems a bit lazy to me. But it certainly had its charm, and my eyes did well up a bit at the end. Giraffes? Giraffes! on the other hand, was quite a disappointment. The book itself, like pretty much everything McSweeneys puts out, is quite beautiful. The idea, reminiscent of Shel Silverstein's Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book, is clever enough (or perhaps too clever): A fairly insane scientist turning out children's reference books full of outrageous lies. Unfortuately, the sting of random absurdities lacks cohesion, and while occasionally good for a chuckle, overall left me cold. It is obstensibly a children's book, and I think I might have enjoyed it as a child, but speaking for myself, I was disappointed.

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