Happy Birthday, Dad

ImageToday would’ve been my dad’s 71st birthday.  71.

I imagine him, smiling, moving quickly from one project to another, eyes sparkling like only his did, laughing that fantastically gregarious laugh.  I imagine him surrounded by his children, their spouses, his grandchildren, his wife.  He is drinking coffee, with cream and loads of sugar, and eating a cheese sandwich.  His hair is gray, it went that way early, which is something he passed to the seven of his children, and his clunky black glasses are perched on his nose.  He’s wearing a pair of polyester pants, some funky loafers, a knit polo shirt, and some off-color windbreaker.  He’s legally blind, but you’d never know it by the way he zips around, managing to never run into anything.  His spirit, which has always been joyful and silly and free, is a big presence in this space.  He fills it.  I imagine him giving me a hug, so tight, full of all the things he could never really say.  Afterward he sits down at his pedal steel guitar and he plays.  Man, does he play.  His skill is unmatched, his notes hitting with perfection, and his smile gets even bigger, if that’s possible.  Then he begins to sing….

Today would’ve been my dad’s 71st birthday.  He’s been gone for nearly 8 years now.  I miss him still….

Happy birthday, Dad.

Sit Back, Relax, or Sit Up and Be Tense

I’ve been on my share of flights with funny flight attendants. I can tell you, there’s nothing like a little humor to relax nervous fliers. Plus, it’s nice that they don’t always take themselves so seriously. If I had to repeat the same spiel multiple times a week, I’d try to mix it up too.

Here’s a great example of what it means to fly the friendly skies.

100+ Favorite Films – In No Particular Order

I was chatting with a friend a couple of months ago about film and giving recommendations about movies I liked and didn’t.  In the course of that conversation my friend looked at me and said I should do a 50 best list on the blog, and then she could just reference it and try to see some of the films.

These things are easier said than done.  It’s strange how during a conversation it’s easy to have something pop into your head and you say, oh, that’s a good one, you should see it.  It’s another to stare at a blank screen and tell yourself to start listing them off.  Oh the pressure of it all.

My approach to this list was pretty simple.  When I thought of a film I’d open up the draft of this post and write it down.  Not rocket science.  Not even close to being a well thought out and considered list.  In the end, however, I decided that was OK.  I decided that an off the top of my head list was kind of fun.  It’s not researched and I certainly didn’t scour best of lists in trying to remember films.  I just took them as they came to me.  Which means, again, this list is definitely not complete, or refined.  I’m sure there are films I left off the list and others I probably shouldn’t have included in a best of list.  But, I have.  One thing is certain, I really love all the films on this list.  They might not all be artistically amazing or worthy of an Oscar, but they are all movies I’d recommend to a friend, which started this whole thing in the first place.

So without further ado…. Here’s the list.  It’s not alphabetized, and if you count, there are actually over 100 films here.  Apparently once I got rolling, stopping was tougher than I thought it would be.
Shawshank Redemption


The Princess Bride




Cloud Atlas


Before Sunrise


Death and the Maiden


The Long Kiss Goodnight


L.A. Confidential


The Matrix




Blade Runner


Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner


Schindler’s List




Suddenly, Last Summer


The Children’s Hour


Rooster Cogburn


Beast’s of the Southern Wild


Jackie Brown


Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi


The Fisher King


Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close


The Impossible


Silver Linings Playbook


Winter’s Bone


V for Vendetta


A Beautiful Mind


A Separation




The Usual Suspects


The Silence of the Lambs


Enemy Mine


Das Boot


12 Angry Men (1957)


Saving Private Ryan


The Aviator




The Abyss


Dead Again




A River Runs Through It


The Artist


The Planet of the Apes (1968)


Blade Runner


Brokeback Mountain


Peter’s Friends


For Love of the Game




High Fidelity




The Trouble With Harry


I Confess


Rebel Without a Cause


Chariots of Fire


On Golden Pond










The Way


Pan’s Labyrinth


The Departed


Little Miss Sunshine


Safety Not Guaranteed


Lost in Translation


Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang


The Bridge on the River Kwai


Lawrence of Arabia


2001: A Space Odyssey


The Godfather


To Kill a Mockingbird




Roman Holiday


The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)


Kill Bill Vol. 1


Kill Bill Vol. 2


Dark City


The Station Agent


High Art


The Way Way Back


Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon


Minority Report


Days of Heaven


Immortal Beloved


The Hours


Playing By Heart


Mystic River 




Apollo 13


Jacob’s Ladder


High Noon


The Fugitive


Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy




The Dark Knight


But I’m a Cheerleader






Some Kind of Wonderful


The Fall


12 Years a Slave


Now And Then




A Scanner Darkly


Meet Joe Black




The Breakfast Club


Steel Magnolias


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Baby, It’s Cold Outside

snowI want it to be sunny AND warm.  Is that too much to ask?  It looks gorgeous outside today.  Blue sky, slightly breezy, crisp.  Looking out there, it seems as though I could grab my cup of coffee, the book I’m reading, and head out to the chairs we have on our back deck.  The chairs that just yesterday were covered in snow.  But, no.  Uh uh.  Ain’t going to happen.  Why?  It’s damn cold.

It’s not really that bad, being 37 out there right now that is.  Not bad considering the winter we’ve had.  Not bad considering how much snow and cold and wind we’ve had this year.  But, c’mon.  37.  It’s spring.  I’m ready for spring weather.

Not long ago, November of last year, we had our first snow of the season.  We were so excited.  Yay, we said.  It’s going to snow we exclaimed excitedly.  Yay.  When we only got a dusting we were upset.  We felt robbed.  We wanted more.  We should’ve kept our gosh darn mouths shut.  Be careful what you ask for is right.

Those months ago, when we were entering the cold season and we wanted to experience a real Illinois winter, we didn’t know what we were asking for.  The previous two winters we’d lived here were mild, mellow in fact.  We were told repeatedly that the warmer weather we were experiencing then wasn’t normal at all.  We had no idea.

Now, after a frigid winter and loads of laundry from all the layers we have to constantly wear, we’re ready to pare down.  We’re ready to break out only t-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops and not have to spend 10 minutes just getting ready, layer by layer, to go out.  We’re ready to actually look forward to walking the dogs.  We’re ready to be able to sit outside on our deck and watch the birds in the feeders and talk to our neighbors over the fence and grill with ease.  We’re more than ready.

Of course, in three months I’ll be complaining about how hot it is, how humid it is, and I will long for the cool breezes of early spring.

10 Word Review

10 Word ReviewAn update about 10 Word Review.  I have organized and catalogued and alphabetized the list of movies, books, television shows, food, and miscellaneous stuff I’ve reviewed and put up lists, each group with its own page, under the 10 Word Review heading.  So if you ever want to look at the complete and ever-changing list of films, books, tv shows, food, or miscellaneous stuff I’ve reviewed just hover over the 10 word review tab and then click on whatever page you’re interested in.  Click on a film, say, and you will be instantly whisked to my review of same.

10 Word Review – Civil Wars Self-Titled Album

I’ve been working on the blog, more info to follow, and while I’ve been at it I’ve been listening to the Civil Wars self-titled album from 2013. I’d previously posted a 10 Word Review for the song Dust to Dust from the album and at that point I hadn’t really listened to the album in its entirety. Wow. In my opinion this album is nearly perfect. My 10 Word Review: Beautiful, haunting, harmony, lyrical, writing, heartfelt, story, graceful, amazed… YES.