Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Busy as usual, but it will fade

Work at the office is still pretty crazy, but I am hopeful that the overtime will drop-off this week. With that, and working on my sister's invitations, I haven't been reading any poems lately. However, just last week Justin decided he wanted to watch the Lord of the Rings movies again. I believe I've rated them all a 10, because they are all so awesome, yet after about the 10th viewing I can now see the sections where the story drags a bit. Anyway, one of my favorite parts is in the third movie, Return of the King, where the Steward of Gondor asks Pippin the hobbit to sing him a song. I know it's pretty sad, but the music and the way it is sung is so artful, I figure it passes for a poem this week:

Home is behind.
The world ahead.
And there are many paths to tread
Through shadow to the edge of night
Until the stars are all alight
Mist and shadow, cloud and shade.
All shall fade.
All shall fade.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Keep on dreaming

Okay, it's been awhile since I've posted a poem. You can imagine the usual set of excuses. In the end, it doesn't really matter since no one has been asking for one and it's really for my benefit anyway. Regardless, here is a link to a simple yet sweet poem by Langston Hughes: Dreams.

Uplifting, inspiring, but not too long. Just what I need on a Friday. :)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

More than meets the eye?

I went and saw Transformers last night. Originally, I didn't think much of this movie mostly because of the fact that Michael Bay directed it, but I heard from several people that it was pretty good and the rumor mill was that it exceeded expectations. So after watching it, I have to say I think my gut reaction was correct -- I'm only going to rate it a 5. Yes, there were some enjoyable scenes and it had aspects that I appreciated, but overall it still had the Michael Bay feel, and in the end I thought they were just trying to show off the special effects. Those effects were really good by the way but they didn't really enhance the experience for me. I mean, I really enjoy big action movies, but I want to be able to see the action, not keep squinting my eyes at a bunch of stuff blurring across the screen trying to figure out what in the heck is going on.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Movies movies movies

So since it rained while we were in North Carolina, and since we wanted to relax and are such big movie fans anyway, we watched several while we were there. Then, when we came home we watched several more. Here is an update of what I've seen recently.

It started with Super Size Me, which I've seen several times now and still rate an 8. It just does a very good job of describing the state of fast food in this country and how harmful it can be.

Then we watched another documentary, An Inconvenient Truth which I'm only going to rate a 7. This one is a little more boring and has a section about the 2000 election that drags on too long. I think the movie is worth watching and the information is presented very well.

Next we went to something a little different, Peaceful Warrior, based on a book by the same name. Although some of the concepts were interesting, I was not impressed with the acting and I question a few of the precepts. Therefore, this one rates a 5.

When I first got back, I set up a John McClane marathon starting with Die Hard, the action classic from 1988. I rate this movie an 8 because it is one of my favorite Bruce Willis roles and one of the key movies that started my love for the action genre. The marathon continued with Die Hard 2, which is still very enjoyable but just not quite as good as the first, so it rates an 7. Then we come to the disappointment of the series, Die Hard With a Vengance. I still don't like how they turned John's character into a total loser. I rate this one a 5. Finally, I went to see the new one, Live Free or Die Hard which brought back some of the first's feel, but then had to go over the top in a couple of scenes. Thus, I am rating this one a 7, as I think it falls about where the second one does in comparison to the rest.

Another movie we bought and watch recently is the foreign film, Pan's Labyrinth. I had heard great reviews and it seemed like something I would like, but when I finally got to see the entire thing it left me really depressed. I had no idea it would be so dark. I still rate it an 8, because the acting and effects are spectacular.

Just recently, we decided to do a mini "1995 Academy Awards" marathon and watched both Forrest Gump and The Shawshank Redemption in the same night. They both still rate a 9 and 10 respectively in my book. It's sad that there hasn't been many years like that where so many of the nominees for Best Picture are ones that I actually enjoy.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Ahh.... I'm relaxed

Our trip to North Carolina got off to a rocky start. Justin decided to surprise me and rent a convertible car, and at first I was skeptical. Especially when the attendant pulls around in this sporty, very small, bright red thing (Mitsubishi Spyder).

Justin got very excited and convinced me it would be alright. So the attendant shows Justin how to put the top down and right as we decide to drive away, Justin can't get the top to go back up. The attendant came back out and he couldn't get it back up. We go out for lunch and wait for the manager to come in and he can't get the top back up either. Personally, I'm thinking, Whew, now we can just get the cheaper regular car, but no -- they search the city to find another convertible for us. The only problem is, they show up with this ugly silver boat (Chrysler Sebring).

Justin has basically set his mind on the Spyder and since there are no others in the entire Kansas City area, we take the Sebring and drive all the way to St. Louis where we switch cars to another red Mitsubishi. Here it is with the top down as we are driving away from our first geocache stop.

As is typical for us, we bypassed most of our original plans to disc golf and geocache on the way out there and decided to get to North Carolina more quickly. As soon as we get into the mountains, the rain starts. It rained on us everyday we were there (and even several days when we got back home), but usually the mornings were clear. Here we are at a newly developed disc golf course only about 30 minutes from my aunt and uncle's house -- I call this shot "Through the Needle".

A few holes later, we came to another great shot on a very steep hill in the woods. It's hard to tell from this picture, but we are standing about 200 yards away and at least 100 yards *up* from the basket.

Here is a picture at the bottom of the hill -- isn't it cool?!

We are so very lucky to have relatives who live in the mountains. Not only did we get to stay rent-free, but we had live-in guides who could show us around as well as easy access to awesome views like this -- off the deck of the Raven's Ridge house.

Probably the most enjoyable and memorable part of the trip was our hike on Grandfather Mountain. In my head I kept picturing some nice wooded trails and wondered why my aunt and uncle were referring to it as the "ladder" trail -- there were no mention of ladders on the signs.

Yes, okay -- it does say the trail is very difficult. But actually we were planning on only going to Macrae Peak, which is the second stop listed. Just under a mile one-way -- how hard can that be?

It started off as I expected -- kind of rocky, like the Great Falls Billy Goat trail, but very wooded and much better views like this one.

Then we rounded a corner and I had my first surprise -- I have to use a rope? I know it's hard to tell in the picture, but that is a pretty steep incline and I'm sure it would be nearly impossible without the rope. Turns out, that the rope was a piece of cake and I continued on my merry way.

That is, until I came to surprise number two. Here is Justin being the brave, excited one to go up first. And no, the camera is not tilted in any way -- that is an actual overhanging rock at a crazy angle and a steep ladder underneath it. Now I know where the local name "Ladder Trail" comes from!

I made it -- by squeezing on to those rungs for dear life. I thought I was doing okay until I came to this scene -- the lady coming down was complaining that the ladders were not made for shorter people.

This section was the toughest for me. The steepness was always about the same, and I managed to handle the rungs fairly well. I came to one section where I nearly turned back -- I had to hug a rock and climb around on my stomach to get by -- but in the end it was worth it.

And we made it to the peak!

Look at this view!

Coming back down was another ordeal entirely. I had the benefit of knowing the ladders a little better the second time through, but I still was going pretty slow and tensing up all my muscles a lot. The next day my legs and even arms were pretty sore, but I would still do it again. In fact, we're trying to figure out if we can plan a trip to go every year. We'd like to make it to a farther peak next time.

Other than that, the vacation was nice and relaxing -- just what I needed to get my mind off of work and other stressful things.