What Thanksgiving Gave

Cranberry Sauce

Annette and Will and I had a Thanksgiving of just the three of us and at home for the first time in…. heck, I think the first time ever.  There was one year quite a while ago where I recall Annette’s parents coming to visit us, but otherwise, it has been a 10-12 hour drive to Iowa to see my family or a 12-14 drive to see Annette’s family in South Carolina.  That’s a lot of time to spend in a car in the span of four or five days under any circumstances, but since Thanksgiving comes at what is often the worst possible crunch point of the semester, it is even worse.  Not to mention all the other drivers, the often dicey weather, etc.

Anyway, for circumstances I won’t go into (mainly because they aren’t that interesting or dramatic), what would have been a Krause get-together this year was changed to a New Year’s Christmas, and we were able to spend the time at home.  And I gotta say:  I love my family– both my side and Annette’s side– dearly, but the luxury of having a (relatively) small Thanksgiving at home was excellent. Among other things, I worked on an overdue movie project, I graded lots of things (almost done with that), we did almost all the laundry in the house, we cleaned, ran errands, winterized the backyard a bit more, and slept in.  We watched a lot of different movies, from Planes, Trains, and Automobiles to a couple of 1940s Tarzan flicks to Doctor Who, we had a lovely dinner with friends tonight, we watched football (dang Lions, dang Hawkeyes), we worked out at the gym.

And, of course, we ate and cooked.  I can’t remember the last time I cooked a turkey– probably the last time that we had Thanksgiving at home years ago.

Turkey Turkey Turkey

It turned out okay.  My timing was off, so I think I ended up overcooking it a bit, and while I did a brine for about 36 or so hours, I’m not convinced that on this size of bird it was actually worth it.  And I’m not all that crazy about turkey anyway.  Maybe next year, if we’re home again like this (I hope we’re home again like this), I’ll make a Thanksgiving chicken, or maybe Thanksgiving lasagna.

I also attempted a fancy version of green bean casserole by using a really excellent homemade mushroom soup (a Thomas Keller recipe), adding cream to that, and then adding fresh green beans and topping it all with homemade fried onions.  That was a fail, I’m afraid.  The lesson learned here is sometimes the simple things are best, like the humble version with cream of mushroom soup, frozen green beans, and canned fried onions.  Like canned cranberries.

iPad-themed (with Logorama) catch-up post

This has been a busy week and a half (give or take) with school and life, and I’ve starred a bunch of stuff in my Google reader to go back to and post eventually, mostly iPad related.  In no particular order, here they are:

There was another article in the Chronicle of Higher Education that I can’t find the link for about how iPads are being used in universities, mostly misused as far as I can tell.  There was some school where they gave students the choice of having either a laptop or an iPad and they seem surprised at the number of people who chose the laptop.  Well, that’s a no-brainer to me.  I still get asked on a fairly regular basis what I think of my iPad, and while I like it a lot, it is not a replacement for a computer.  I could probably live without a laptop with my iPad because I have a desktop computer, but an iPad is not a substitute for a computer.  What I have mostly enjoyed my iPad for as far as school goes lately is just reading and marking up the PDFs I am teaching. iAnnotate is my killer app.

And on a completely unrelated note, here’s a link to the completely excellent short film Logorama:

Logorama from Human Music & Sound Design on Vimeo.

Bonus post: On Avatar

I wasn’t planning on writing anything else here until after the holidaze, but Annette, Will, and I went to see Avatar this afternoon and I felt compelled to write some thoughts before going off to bed.

Before I get to the (potential) spoilers, let me say this:  I enjoyed the movie quite a bit– perhaps not as much as Will and Annette, but still quite a bit.  It’s certainly worth seeing in the theater, preferably in 3-D and in an I-Max theater.  It looked absolutely fantastic and that in and of itself made the whole thing worth it.  Though one problem I have with the 3-D is that I wear glasses, and I have to say I don’t think the glasses over the glasses thing works that great.  I’m looking forward to the not so distant future in which the glasses are not necessary. Go and see it, you’ll be glad you did.

That said, I’m not sure this was a “great” movie or this generation’s Star Wars or whatever other hyperbole you want to apply.  I think the main problem/limitation I saw in the movie is that is completely derivative of so many other movies over the last decade or so.  More on which movies– along with many MANY spoilers– after the jump.

Continue reading “Bonus post: On Avatar”

Wild thing, I think I love you…

This evening, Annette and Will and I went to see a special showing of Where the Wild Things Are, which was a fundraiser for the very excellent 826 Michigan. It was a fantastic event.  We were at the Michigan Theater far too early (5:30-ish) because it was a sell-out and we wanted to make sure that all of our ducks were in a row.  There was already a good 40 or so people in line all waiting for their “will call” tickets when some semi-official person came out and told the crowd that no one with a cell phone that could take a photo would be admitted.  My plans to take a series of still pictures of the movie from my iPhone was thwarted.  Of course, while in the theater and during the movie, I saw PLENTY of people with iPhones and cell phones, but never mind that.

Anyway, after a quick dinner, we got ourselves situated in our seats and enjoyed Michigan Theater organ music.  The movie was a sell-out, but not completely; the balcony was closed, as was the back part of the main level.  I overheard someone who seemed to know what they were talking about who said something about how Warner Brothers (the movie’s distributor) set some pretty strict limits on how many people could attend these preview screenings.  Still, I’ll bet there was close to 1,000 people there.

After some introductions about 826 Michigan, Dave Eggers and Amy Sumerton (who is the program director person for 826) came out for a little small-talk and Q&A about various things about the movie.  My favorite question was actually asked by my wife, who asked what did Maurice Sendak think about all of this.  Apparently, Spike Jonze (the movie’s director and co-writer with Eggers) has known Sendak for quite a while, and he gained Sendak’s blessing for making the movie.  Eggers also said that Sendak was involved in the process pretty much throughout, from commenting on aspects of the script to the film itself.

Then FINALLY, showtime, after a rather amusing little short film with Sendak telling a story about himself attending the World’s Fair back in the 1930s.  A short review and some very modest spoilers after the jump, but I will say this:  it’s a great, beautiful, complex movie, and one well worth seeing on the big screen.  Apparently, there is an IMAX version, and I could see that being worth the experience.

Continue reading “Wild thing, I think I love you…”

And just a brief word about Barney Frank

The above video is where Barney Frank asks a woman (who asked why he continues to support Obama’s Nazi policy on health reform) on what planet she spends most of her time and where he describes her as being a dining room table. As of right now, there are hundreds (thousands?) of articles out there that have headlines like “Frank fights back” or “Frank unleashed” or “Frank lashes out,” which kind of suggests in a way that he was either flying off the handle or taking some kind of risk in calling this nutjob a nutjob.

I actually think that Frank has done his political calculations quite accurately and he’s set an example for congresspeople across the country and on both sides of the aisle. I mean, what really is the chance that this woman (and other booing protesters at Frank’s town hall meeting) voted for Frank in the first place? What’s the chance that these folks would vote for him in the next election regardless of what he says? It seems to me that what Frank is really doing here (besides speaking the truth about these crazy people) is appealing to his base. Pretty shrewd, if you ask me.