Archives for July 2009

“Eragon”

As a genre, fantasy is my favorite form of entertainment. Especially to read. So, even though I’d heard mixed things, I decided to plunge myself into the Inheritance Cycle. . . and it’s not so bad. Actually I rather enjoy it, save for the ridiculously unpronounceable languages splattered throughout. And Paolini sometimes lapses into some very archaic grammar that doesn’t flow well. But the story is interesting and the characters engaging enough. A lot of it has been done before — and arguably better — it does have a lot of depth and the fantasy elements are quite solid.

So baring that in mind, I watched Eragon the other day. I’m still not quite sure why.
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“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”

Since the only thing of substance upon which I have to blog is a bitter dialogue about people who are scared of dogs, I’ll instead babble about HBP.
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Hopping Mad, That is Me

This post could also be called “UPS Fails.”

The facts are these: I am blind; I live in a rather large apartment building that has a mailroom; the mailroom is set up such that the mailboxes are so tiny that anything larger than a letter is hard to fit within; there are racks below the mailboxes where some oversized items can be stored; these racks aren’t very large and are not labeled.

Noting all this, I have instructed the mail carrier and all delivery persons to please leave any oversized items at my apartment door. In the case of UPS, I specifically spoke with the carrier about his ability to do this given Yara’s dog food is delivered and strong though I might be I’d rather not have to lug it from downstairs when it can safely wait for me by the apartment door. I also pointed out to him how open the mailroom was and how likely items could be stolen. I’m not sure which fact convinced him, but he was very happy to leave all my packages by my door, including those that I might have needed to sign for.

Interestingly enough, the mail carrier’s first approach to handling the oversized mail was to CRAM it all into the mailbox such that half the time I couldn’t get anything out and more often ripped a good portion of things. A year later, he’s finally clued in that the mailroom is an imperfect system and has started leaving everyone’s oversized mail by their doors.

In turn, UPS has stopped. Now, I generally wouldn’t mind if it weren’t for the possibility of theft. Even given the need to lug the big box of dog food. But in the last two months I have lost at least ten packages due them being left in the mailroom. I’ve lost count of how much money has technically walked off in other people’s hands. But mostly I’m irritated that I am left not knowing if something is delivered without having to crawl around on the floor with a magnifier to inspect every big envelope or box. I called UPS about this and was thrice assured they would leave things at my apartment — and most times that day they would.

Today, three packages were to be delivered to my apartment door. I walk into the mailroom and immediately see the one — a huge box from PFD — and hunt around for the two smaller packages, knowing they won’t be around. Amazon packages are just too tempting, I suppose.

I called both Amazon and UPS today. Amazon refunded me for the lost items and UPS again assured me they would rectify this.

Me? I’m past the point of caring and am just with the major pissed-offness.

“Think twice before you poo-poo it.”

I have nothing of substance to blog about, probably owing to the fact I’ve been sick for the last three days. But I am somewhat beyond thrilled as I’ve just purchased tickets to a showing of the Broadway tour of RENT at Proctors. For those of you who strangely may not know, RENT happens to be one of my most favorite musicals. One that I’ve also had the privilege of seeing the original cast on Broadway perform. So, you can just imagine how awesome I find it that Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal are part of the tour. If I weren’t feeling awful, I’d be tempted to do some cartwheels.

“Marley & Me”

This may come as a shock to frequent readers considering how much I blog about my canine companions, but I have very little tolerance for “dog movies.” Generally, I find them completely annoying for their total failure at realistic portrayal of how dogs behave. Or, worse yet, their showcase of inept dog owners. When I first saw the television spots advertising John Grogan’s novel becoming a movie, I was never more surprised at myself at the realization that I desperately wanted to see this. Among the many books I’ve devoured over the years on all aspects of dogs — and pet ownership in general — Marley & Me is one of a small handful that I deeply enjoy due to the poignant story and unfiltered, heartfelt portrayal of life with a new and often boisterous dog.

Movie poster

While not exactly following the book, the film manages to maintain both of those things I enjoyed so deeply. And much like the book, it’s less a story about a dog than an engrossing memoir about a family with a crazy dog. I was very impressed with Aniston and Wilson and thought they had wonderful chemistry together. And while translated differently a lot of my favorite moments from the book made their way into the film.

The one thing that I was very taken with was the realistic portrayal of Marley’s life, especially towards the end. There are certainly sad films about dogs out there, but none that give a real picture of what an aging dog is like. Grogan’s description in the book is showcased quite vividly, albeit in a very small portion of the movie’s running time. And I have to disagree with the people who’ve found the ending scenes to be a way of merely forcing the viewer to shed some tears. They’re pretty much straight out of the book and I while I’ve never yet been present during the times dogs in my life have been put down I can easily imagine the sadness and pain is captured quite adequately and realistically.

I was disappointed by a few things, however. Specifically, I was a bit dismayed at the complete lack of showcasing how Marley was endearing. As I said before, the film is accurate to the book in not solely focusing on Marley, even though all the advertising I saw for it did seem to make the opposite seem true. But Grogan makes several references in his book to how loyal Marley was, how he was a comfort during the couple’s miscarriage, how gentle he was with children, and most importantly how his misdeeds were never maliciously intended. Marley was certainly not the epitome of well behaved, but he did have a joie de vivre with which he approached all aspects of his life. I was pleased to see Grogan’s messages retained in the film, that a dog should be considered part of the family — not a disposable item. But it’s hard to see the justification conveyed in the film.

Still, the one single thing that stands out for me is the underlying message of how much sharing a life with a dog can teach you about life. I’ve tried to put similar thoughts into words many times when explaining to others how it is to work with a guide dog or even have a longtime pet and it’s practically impossible to get a person foreign to the concept to fully understand. But if there’s one thing that all of the dogs I’ve had the privilege to share my life with have made abundantly clear, it is that life is worth living no matter your age and to take joy in the simple things it brings you.

In short, I found the film just as charming as the book. And I’ll readily admit that is a rare thing.