Wednesday, February 29, 2012

the case of the missing violin

I was faced with yet another parenting dilemma in the seemingly endless choices and value judgements I make every day. Life is full of decisions, whether you have a child or not, but for me the stakes are always higher when the issue at hand concerns the kid.

Case in point: We forgot her violin today and didn't realize it until we were already halfway to school. It was too late to turn back and go home to retrieve it, as she would then get a tardy.

The dilemma: The strings class isn't until the afternoon, but the teacher has plenty of instruments that kids can borrow for situations just like this, which probably occur on a daily basis.

The choice: I could go home, get the violin and drop it off for her, maintaining my supermom status in her eyes, and saving her the embarrassment of having to tell her teacher she would need to borrow a class violin as she forgot hers. Or... I could let this be a lesson to us both, and she could use the class violin. We would not forget it again in future, I'm sure.

I opted for the second choice and my daughter was none too pleased. I knew it would be the unpopular one. It's also the path of least resistance (for me) and most (for her). It's not strictly the nicest choice. But I'm pretty sure it's the right one. I told her not to fret, we all make mistakes, her teacher would understand, and this way we will both be sure to never leave the house without it again on strings day.

It's so hard making choices that you know your kids won't like. The choice I made isn't exactly a punishment, but it felt a bit like one after I dropped her off. Hence this post. But I think eight is a good age to start to learn responsibility. If mommy sweeps away all the problems, no matter how small, all the time, how will she learn to deal with difficult situations?

Sorry, kid. I wish I could have done what you wanted. I know you're unhappy, but I think this was the right choice. Of course if the school didn't already have the extra instruments, I would have found a way to get her the violin. It should be noted that last time this happened I did play the hero and brought her the violin before the class started, so no one was the wiser. Such a silly little problem, with so many possible choices and outcomes.
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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

george gently, series one

Article first published as Blu-ray Review: George Gently - Series 1 on Blogcritics.

Already available on DVD, Acorn Media has now released George Gently Series 1 on Blu-ray, featuring three feature-length episodes on two discs: "Gently Go Man," "The Burning Man," and "Bomber's Moon." The series features Martin Shaw as Inspector George Gently, a no-nonsense cop who, after the death of his wife, leaves Scotland Yard and London to work in a small police department in the north of England in the early '60s. Once there he is teamed with Detective Sergeant John Bacchus (Lee Ingleby). Gently becomes his boss, mentor, and eventually, friend. Bacchus helps loosen Gently up — a bit, and Gently helps Bacchus take his job seriously — maybe for the first time.

Based on the novels by author Alan Hunter, the series features stories that frequently deal with corruption and the mores of the era. Policework in 1964 Northern England is depicted as more rough and intuitive than scientific. CSI-style techniques are not available, but a little roughing up (by Bacchus) in the interrogation room is always an option.

Detective Sergeant John Bacchus (Lee Ingleby) and Inspector George Gently (Martin Shaw)

The first episode on the disc and pilot of the series, "Gently Go Man," opens with the hit-and-run death of Gently's wife Isabella while they are returning from an evening out. It's called an accident, but Gently is sure that it's murder and that her death is tied to his investigation of mobster Joe Webster (Phil Davis). He tracks Webster to Northumberland, and gets himself assigned to a case that may provide a link — and which is currently assigned to Bacchus.

The next two episodes concern the nearness of the North of England to the troubles in Ireland and the lingering resentment of the locals for Germans post-World War 2. In "The Burning Man." Gently is now Bacchus's boss. Their first official case together has them looking into deaths that are tied into love, deception, and the IRA. The last episode in the series is "Bomber's Moon." Gently and Bacchus investigate the death of a former German soldier. Bacchus is offered a bribe and tries to work his own sting, but doesn't realize the implications his actions may have on his career.

The George Gently series is a good-looking one on DVD, but the Blu-ray, shown on an HD screen, just looks terrific. The aspect ratio is 1.78:1. Contrast and detail are both very good, with strong blacks. Outdoor scenes set in the rolling countryside are especially lovely to look at, as many of the interiors tend to be more muted in palette. Sound quality is also very good, with the dialogue distinct and crisp.

The extras on the Blu-ray are a little meagre. Interviews with Martin Shaw, Lee Ingleby, and series creator Peter Flannery are included, but they are just text on screen, which can be a bit much to read on even the largest screen (I viewed this on a 60" television). The three discs have a total running time of 265 minutes. Subtitles and scene selection are available.

Although the crimes that Gently and Bacchus come across are interesting, what really makes the series compelling television is the relationship between the two and the various people of County Durham they run across in their investigations. Social issues that are still fodder for television today, such as politics and sexuality, are viewed through the '60s prism with interesting results. George Gently is an intriguing character and series.
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Monday, February 27, 2012

and the winners were ...

I predicted at the beginning of February who I thought would win. Here's how my picks stacked up to the actual winners. I only did the major awards and ones that interested me. I've put the winners in bold and my original predictions in a smaller font below.Tom Hanks opened up the proceeding by presenting two important technical awards, cinematography and art direction:

I was right - Hugo took it home! This is a big vote of confidence for 3D too, I'm afraid. Cinematography- I'm thinking Hugo will take home the prize, but this is one of the categories that The Tree of Life might win. (The Artist, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
The Tree of LifeWar Horse)

Hugo - Right again! Hopefully Scorsese will do more films like Hugo in the future.
Art Direction - Hugo will probably win. The sets of the train station and the recreations of Georges Méliès's films were amazing. The Academy doesn't seem to take Harry Potter seriously. (The ArtistHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2HugoMidnight in ParisWar Horse)

Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez presented the awards for costume design:

I'm on a roll, but The Artist was an obvious choice. 
Costume Design - The Artist will probably (and deservedy) win this one, too. (AnonymousThe ArtistHugoJane EyreW.E.)

Christian Bale presented the best supporting actress award:

My first miss and no surprise, the deserving Octavia Spencer won.
Actress In a Supporting Role - I would love the award to go to Melissa McCarthy. C'mon Academy, comedians are best actors, too. Bejo was adorable in The Artist, but it wasn't really an Oscar-worthy performance. (Bérénice Bejo, Jessica Chastain, Melissa McCarthy, Janet McTeer, Octavia Spencer)

A very funny Chris Rock presented best animated feature film:

Rango - Yay!
Animated Feature Film - I'm sure Rango will win, which was fun and beautiful to look at. I absolutely LOVE that Puss was nominated and am not upset that Tintin wasn't. (A Cat in ParisChico & RitaKung Fu Panda 2Puss in BootsRango)

Ben Stiller and Emma Stone presented best visual effects. These two may have to team up on something in future:

I'm so glad to be wrong about this one - Hugo won again!

Visual Effects - The Apes will probably get this one, although Andy Serkis should have been in one of the acting categories. C'mon, already. (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2HugoReal SteelRise of the Planet of the ApesTransformers: Dark of the Moon)

Melissa Leo present the best supporting actor:

Christopher. Plummer. Now that's how you do an acceptance speech.
Actor In a Supporting Role - This had better be Christopher Plummer. Period. (Kenneth Branagh, Jonah Hill, Nick Nolte, Christopher Plummer, Max von Sydow)

Penelope Cruz and Owen Wilson presented best original score:

Yep, The Artist, which makes sense, as music was uber-important for a silent film.
Music (Original Score) - There has been a lot of controversy over the use of a part of Bernard Herrmann's score for Vertigo in The Artist, but it will still probably win. (The Adventures of TintinThe ArtistHugoTinker Tailor Soldier SpyWar Horse)

Clad in white tails and ... cymbals, Will Ferrel and Zach Can'tEvenPronounceHisOwnName presented the best song:

Man or Muppet won! As funny as Will and Zach were, I was still hoping for a live performance from Jason Segel.
Music (Original Song) - "Man or Muppet" was the highlight of The Muppets. I'm hoping Jason Segel and Walter perform it live. It must win. ("Man or Muppet" from The Muppets, “Real in Rio” from Rio)

Angelina Jolie showed us how high the slit on her gown went as she struck a pose and presented best adapted screenplay and best original screenplay:

The Descendants won - I sure didn't call that one.
Writing (Adapted Screenplay) - I would really like Moneyball to win this one. Team Brad. (The DescendantsHugoThe Ides of MarchMoneyballTinker Tailor Soldier Spy)

Midnight in Paris! I'm very happy for Woody.
Writing (Original Screenplay) - It's hard going up against the Woodman, but I'd love the gals from Bridesmaids to take this one. (The ArtistBridesmaidsMargin CallMidnight in ParisA Separation)

The ladies from Bridesmaids ("Scorsese!" Gulp) presented best animated short film:

SO happy about this one - The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore!

Short Film (Animated) - The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is simply fantastic and should take the prize. (Dimanche/SundayThe Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris LessmoreLa LunaA Morning StrollWild Life)

Michael Douglas, looking very good indeed, presented the best director award:

Sorry Scorsese (Drink!), it was Michel Hazanavicius, director of The Artist, who thanked the crazy producer who put money in the film. Love the French.
Directing - This is not only the most accessible, but the best Scorsese film in quite a while. (The ArtistThe DescendantsHugoMidnight in ParisThe Tree of Life)

Natalie Portman, looking lovely in a red dress with a polka dot pattern (unusual for an Oscar gown), presented the best actor award:

But of course, Jean Dujardin! Sorry, Bradster.
Actor In a Leading Role - I would love for Gary Oldman to win this. The Academy may surprise us, but I think (hope) it's going to be Pitt, not Clooney. Brad was excellent as Billy Bean and he also helped get the picture made. His biggest competition is Jean Dujardin, who was also wonderful. If he wins it, The Artist will probably sweep. (Demián Bichir, George Clooney, Jean Dujardin, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt)

The fabulous Colin Firth presented the best actress Oscar:

Meryl won, with a standing ovation and the perfect gold gown to match her Oscar statuette. Clearly she really wanted to win. Plus, she thanked her hubby first, which was nice.
Actress In a Leading Role - I hope it's Michelle Williams, even though everyone is saying it should be Meryl. But I am against a movie that in any way celebrates Thatcher. And Meryl can suck it up. She'll get many more opportunities. Glenn Close may be brilliant in her cross-dressing film, but it's a vanity production that not many will want to see. But Viola Davis may be a surprise winner. Rooney is being honored for a great performance, but won't win. (Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Rooney Mara, Meryl Streep, Michelle Williams)

Tom Cruise presented the best director Oscar:

Only the second silent film to win Best Picture (Wings did, in 1929) The Artist was the big winner.

Best Picture - The Artist - The shoo-in. It's adorable and upbeat, which is the only thing it has going against it, as the Academy tends to favor dramas with a capital "D." But it's a phenomenon and should still win. (The DescendantsExtremely Loud & Incredibly CloseThe Help, HugoMidnight in ParisMoneyballThe Tree of LifeWar Horse)

Actually I did pretty well, calling all but a few. So what do I win?

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

a leetle tuna and a mouse would be nice, no?

One must feed zee leetle grey cells ...

Funny Pictures of Cats With Captions

Saturday, February 25, 2012

the last airbender: the legend of korra

The kid and I are excited that a new Avatar is on the way. The Last Airbender: The Legend of Korra is coming up on Nicktoons. This series is supposed to take place long after Avatar Aang saved the world in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
The new series takes place 70 years later in the same world and follows the new Avatar, a teen girl named Korra who has learned to bend earth, water and fire and seeks to master air under the tutelage of Aang’s son, Tenzin.—The Wall Street Journal
A female Avatar is super cool. The trailer makes her look like a lone wolf. It will be interesting to see if she assembles a crew like Aang did. Seeing her kick but with skyscrapers in the background is a little jarring, but it looks to have the same rich details as the previous series, so it should be fun.

We were such fans of the original series we scooped up the DVDs. It will be hard not to see favorite characters like Aang, Katara, Zuko, Sokka, Uncle Iroh, and Toph. Not to mention the wonderful animals, Appa the flying bison, and Momo the winged lemur. Maybe the new series can include them from time to time via flashback. Did I mention I was a fan?

Looking forward to this new Avatar. And we may need to watch some of our favorite episodes with Aang while we wait.

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Friday, February 24, 2012

johnny depp wants to stalk the night

I'm not actually talking about Johnny Depp's upcoming role in Dark Shadows, although I am equal parts nervous and excited about seeing him try on Barnabas Collins's cape. But the latest buzz is that he will appear as Carl Kolchak in a remake or a re-imagining of the classic series Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Again, this could be great or anger-making. I simply adored the show when I was younger. The monster-of-the-week could be anything from a witch to a vampire to a ghost to a werewolf to a Native American evil spirit.

Darren McGavin as Carl Kolchak

Of course this speculation just makes me want to dig out my Kolchak: The Night Stalker DVDs and have a mini-marathon. But where to start? The one about Jack the Ripper or aliens or zombies? What was so much fun about the show was that its creatures were from many mythic backgrounds. Joseph Campbell would have approved of the range of monsters that Kolchak found himself up against:
  • A Native American shaman spirit  - "Bad Medicine"
  • A monster made of moss, Creole Père Malfait - "The Spanish Moss Murders"
  • Another Native American spirit, this time a bear, Matchemonedo - "The Energy Eater"
  • A Hindu Rakshasa "Horror In The Heights"
Kolchak with a friend
  • An evil succubus from ancient Mesopotamia - "Demon In Lace"
  • An Aztec mummy - "Legacy of Terror"
  • A resurrected knight -  "The Knightly Murders"
  • An evil Helen of Troy, in search of immortality - "The Youth Killer"
The monsters, like the vast array of demons in Buffy the Vampire Slayer or unexplained creatures in The X Files may have been what delighted the kiddies and got them tuning in, but what made the series great was Darrin McGavin as Kolchak. His crusty, ascerbic delivery. His absolute disregard for authority. His cool convertible and camera which he always carried with him and never managed to get convincing evidence of his latest narrow escape from death. I don't suggest that Depp try to copy his persona — he wouldn't anyway, but would a new Night Stalker work without McGavin? This is not the first attempt to update Kolchak. In 2005 a darker themed series, Night Stalker, starring Stuart Townsend appeared on ABC. But it was missing the humor of the original series and had a short run.

Kolchak in his 1966 Ford Mustang Convertible
I've always enjoyes Depp as an actor, but in recent years it seems that he can only play already iconic characters — John Dillinger, Captain Jack Sparrow, Willy Wonka, The Mad Hatter, Barnabas, soon Tonto in the upcoming The Lone Ranger, and possibly now Kolchak. As much as many maligned his movie with Angelina Jolie, The Tourist, I actually liked it, especially because Depp was playing for most of the film, an ordinary guy in extraordinary circumstances. Has he drifted so far from reality that he can't play real people anymore? Carl Kolchak has a big personality, but he is still a real person. He may be a crack investigative reporter but his real-world status is low on the pay scale. As long as Depp doesn't make his Kolchak try to compete in the weirdness department with his supernatural foes, a new Night Stalker could be interesting. It's probably a good sign that Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World ) and not Depp's frequent eccentric character enabler Tim Burton is set to direct.
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Thursday, February 23, 2012

harry potter, all growed up

Daniel Radcliffe has had a creative life outside of Harry Potter — stage runs in Equus and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and a nice small part in the British television movie My Boy Jack. His name appears above the title of his latest film, The Woman in Black, and he is in almost every frame of this spooky, creepy horror film.

Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) is not alone in Eel Marsh House
Radcliffe's face fills the screen, and he is impressive as Arthur Kipps, a grief-stricken young widower who is sent to conclude the affairs of an Alice Drablow, who owned Eel Marsh House — an isolated estate in northern England. This job is also his last-ditch attempt to keep his postion at his current employer's, which has been made precarious by his extended grieving. Kipps is haunted by the death in childbirth of his beautiful young wife. Before he even sets foot in the village of Cryffin Gifford, death surrounds him. He even sees her, in her wedding dress from time to time. For him, she is the woman in white.

Kipps quickly makes friends with Sam Daily (Ciarán Hinds), the most prosperous man in the area. Daily and his wife Elizabeth (Janet McTeer), like many families in the village, have lost a child, a son. His wife, who seems to be at times psychic and at others disturbed, is convinced that the Woman in Black, once she is seen, means harm to all children.

Kipps spends a great deal of the film exploring the house, trying to find out more about a woman that everyone fears but no one wants to seem to talk about. He is quite brave, at times foolhardy, in his desire to find out what that noise is on the other side of a locked door. But he is interested in séances, promoted in newspaper advertisements by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and may be less spooked by the Woman in Black and more hopeful that he might catch another glimpse of his wife. He also has a young son to care for, and desperately wants to succeed in this task for his firm and retain his postion.

Kipps with Mrs. Dailey (Janet McTeer)
The Woman in Black is a Hammer film. It had the biggest opening in the history of Hammer films, and is the latest release from the revamped classic horror film company (Let Me In was released in 2010).

Based on the 1983 novel by Susan Hill, this is a truly creepy film, the scares and atmosphere setting the tone, rather than relying on gore. It's more along the lines of The UninvitedThe Innocents or The Others. The film deviates quite a bit from the book. There are added elements that are quite well-suited to the visuals of a film, and some changes to the plot that fans of the book may find annoying or confusing (it's a shame Daily's dog Spider, who was quite an important element of the book, is relegated to the background in the film). But it moves well. The old-fashioned ghost story nature of the novel, was sometimes seemed just that, old-fashioned. In the film the classic ghost story elements — haunted house, cobwebs, peeling wallpaper, creepy antique dolls — merely seem suited to the gothic atmosphere. Starring along with Radcliffe is the set design and setting of the film. The haunted nursery, the backyard graveyard, the depressed village, the Mont St. Michel-like tidal island and causeway — it's a great-looking film.

Daniel Radcliffe has proved with The Woman in Black that he can carry a film, as an actor, not just a familiar and beloved character. He is convincing as an adult and in period garb. Although Harry Potter was set in the present day, it had more than a touch of Dickensian London in its milieu of wizards and monsters. Most of Radcliffe's projects seem to be set in the past. In his next film he will play Allan Ginsberg, in a story that takes place in 1944. It would be nice to see Radcliffe in something really contemporary. Maybe something by Nick Hornby? Or a comedy? He's definitely graduated from Hogwarts, and I am looking forward to seeing what he tries next.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

fluffy, fluffy cinnamoroll

Article first published as Graphic Novel Review: Fluffy, Fluffy Cinnamoroll, Vol. 1 by Yumi Tsukirino and Chisato Seki on Blogcritics.

Fluffy, Fluffy Cinnamoroll, Vol. 1 by Yumi Tsukirino (Story and Art) and Chisato Seki (Original Concept) is a manga for all ages, but will appeal mostly to the 10 and under crowd — although anyone who likes cute things will find it appealing.

Cute puppies, uniciorns, clouds, and mice all populate Fluffy's world and join him on a variety of adventures, including picnics, visiting a haunted house, and helping grant a Christmas wish for a baby puppy named Milk.

Fluffy is a little puppy with a tail that looks like a cinnamon roll, who was born in the clouds. Through a series of stories readers are introduced to him and watch him learn to fly with the help of his bunny-like ears. But Fluffy yearns to go down to Earth, to leave the clouds and find other creatures more like him.

He lands in Café Cinnamon, where he makes friend with puppies Mocha, Cappuccino, Espresso, Milk, and Chiffon and a unicorn named Cornet. He also discovers that he loves freshly baked cinnammon rolls. There is also, unfortunately, a not-so-nice cloud named Cavity who tries to trick the puppies from time to time. The graphic novel includes a guide to all of the characters and some of the magical objects they run across at the front of the volume.

The manga starts off with a few stories in color and then the rest in black and white. The characters are all cute in the Hello Kitty and Pikachu/Pokémon tradition. Fluffy is based on a Sanrio character created by Chisato Seki, and Yumi Tsukirino has done Magical Pokemon Journey. The book is printed in the style of Japanese comics, from right to left. There are instructions and a diagram to aid with any reader's confusion, but Western readers should quickly get the hang of the format.

The stories are all short and sweet, and young readers should enjoy reading about Fluffy and his friends. Some of the stories are organized around the seasons — Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring and two of the stories feature traditional Japanese holidays, Girl's Day and White Day.

Fluffy, Fluffy Cinnamoroll is a fun comic for kids to read on their own or share with each other. The drawings are sweet and childlike, and may inspire budding artists to draw their own Fluffy friends.
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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

arrietty is like walking inside a painting

No one who is a fan of the output of Japanese animation studio Studio Ghibli would be surprised that its latest release, The Secret World of Arrietty is well-made and entertaining, but they might be surprised at how drop-dead gorgeous it is.

From the very first frame of the film the audience is transported into a lush, painterly landscape. The familiarly-drawn anime characters of the story blend seamlessly with the watercolor backgrounds. It is simply beautiful to look at and experience. The story, written by Studio Ghibli mastermind Hayao Miyazaki and Keiko Niwa, is based on Mary Norton's classic children's book The Borrowers. The story is simple — teenage Arrietty lives with her parents, father Pod and mother Homily, below the floorboards of a house. Borrowers are tiny people who survive by borrowing what they need from the human beings, or beans, as they call them. One day an ill teenage boy named Shawn comes to stay in the house, in order to rest and prepare for a heart operation. He spies Arrietty, and while this knowledge becomes an immediate threat — Borrowers should not be seen by humans — the two become friends. Their friendship has a profound effect on each other's lives.

Arrietty in her room
Nina the cat and Arrietty
Arrietty hitches a ride with Shawn
Housekeeper Hara sees the Borrowers not as people, but as proof that she isn't crazy
The touch of Miyazaki is unmistakable — a strong and resilient young heroine (Kiki's Delivery Service, Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke), the very real threat of illness on a child's life (My Neighbor Totoro), a large cat who is both threatening and protective (My Neighbor Totoro, The Cat Returns), the strong bonds that can be formed between people (Whisper of the Heart), and the power and magic of nature and landscape which permeates all of his films. Miyazaki has always been interested in household spirits, and the Borrowers certainly share characteristics with those beings. But the movie has its own pace and very individual look, which must be traced to first-time director Hiromasa Yonebayashi. Yonebayashi worked previously as an animator on the Studio Ghibli films Ponyo, Tales From Earthsea, Spirited Away, My Neighbors the Yamadas, and Princess Mononoke.

The voice talent is also well-cast. Carol Burnett is inspired as more-than-nosy housekeeper Hara, who is the true threat to the Borrowers' safety. Bridget Mendler (Goodbye Charlie) and David Henrie (Wizards of Waverly Place) make a nice pair as Arrietty and Shawn. A restrained Will Arnett and over-the-top Amy Poehler are both perfect in their roles as Arrietty's parents Pod and Homily.

The Secret World of Arrietty is lyrical and gentle, with the story developing at the same pace as Arrietty's and Shawn's friendship. We know generally what Arrietty will find when she goes on her first borrowing expedition with her father, but the film still conveys a real sense of suspense and wonder as we see the pathways taken by the pair, the evidence of generations of Borrowers who have climbed through the walls and floors before them. Scale, which adults forget is always an issue for children, is a prime factor in Arrietty's world. She and her father climb veritable mountains of furniture for a single cube of sugar or sheet of tissue, which will last her family for months. The visual scale is temporarily tipped in her favor when a pair of potato bugs become pet-sized for Arrietty. The filmakers apparently did their nanoscience research, down to droplets of water and tea, which are as lovingly rendered as the many other details in the film.

The movie is different from most animated children's fare. There are no wise-cracking talking animals or hyerkinetic cuts and chases or radio-ready soundtrack. The music, by French musician Cécile Corbel is as laid-back and hypnotic as the visuals. The story, which originally was set in Norton's England, has been moved to the Western Tokyo neighborhood of Koganei, which coincidentally is where Studio Ghibli resides. The movie may take its time, but feisty Arrietty and her family are always on the go. They are explorers and ultimately nomads, but also creative thinkers. Children will love their real-world solutions for survival, like sailing away in a teapot. Arrietty's world sparks imagination.

A sense of temporary magic permeates the film. Children will relate, recalling the instant friendship that is born at the playground, or over a summer, and must sadly dissolve when both parties return home. Adults may be reminded of the feeling of an unfulfilled romance, a brief relationship that can never be. The Secret World of Arrietty charmingly portrays a sense of beauty and loss, but it isn't a sad film. Spring always comes again. Shawn and Arrietty will never forget one another, regardless of whether they ever see each other again.

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Monday, February 20, 2012

birthday buffet lunch

The kid chose where to go for her birthday lunch and picked Crazy Buffet, a local pan-Asian restaurant. She has always had a pretty adventurous palate, although recently it has seemed that when we go out to eat the only thing she can see on the menu is mac and cheese. So I was happy to take us there and to watch her choose edamame and rave about the General Tso's chicken and other offerings.


Jackfruit, from Bangalore Metblogs
I don't normally like the sweet stuff, but at this restaurant one must sample the unfamiliar dessert delicacies as well as the delicious green tea ice cream. The discovery of the day was jackfruit (the yellow and white strips of fruit at the bottom left of the top picture). I had never seen anything quite like it, but a nice man standing next to me at the dessert bar explained what it was. Apparently the fruit is quite large, about the size of a basket ball. When it is cut open there are many little pieces of fruit inside. These can be boiled and cut in strips and prepared in a sweet juice, like the dessert at the restaurant. It tasted like chicken — just kidding. It's a little like an apricot in taste and texture. It was yummy.

by the koi pond

After lunch, a visit to the multiple koi ponds outside the restaurant is always a necessary and fun thing to do. The fishes act frantic and starved, but they are obviously well-fed and cared for.

hungry koi

The day was capped off with a very chocolatey cake and a very happy little girl. Make a wish!

happy birthday
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Sunday, February 19, 2012

eight years old

Time flies when you're having fun.