“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.

Birthday Goodies

Painting of a GSD guide dog from my book of artAnd now a brief interruption in the ongoing retelling of my most legendary vacation so I can babble about some of the really neat gifts I received for my birthday. I’m not usually hung up on the whole gift-receiving thing — and I’m certainly not one to gloat — but I thought I’d share a bit of my glee with you at a couple things.

First off, Jess gave me a most wonderful book on dogs in artwork while we were at the Met. I was quite filled with squee about this just because dogs plus art is cool on any level. And I was quite surprised and pleased that there were in fact a few representations of the GSD in some pieces. But I was absolutely not expecting to see this photo (to the left) of a German shepherd guide dog. How completely cool is that?

My desk at work with all my stuffed GSDsSpeaking of the GSD and guide dogs, though, I’ve apparently started a small shrine to them on my desk at work thanks in most part to Raechel and James who gave me the very cute GSD . . . actually both of those have been presents from them — the little guide dog puppy to the far right in the photo was my birthday gift last year. I think I need to get one of those harnessed guide dogs from GDUI to round out the collection. Hehe!

Anyway, thanks again to everyone for the birthday wishes, thoughtful cards, wonderful gifts and, of course, to those that helped make my 30th such a great birthday! I totally heart you all. :-)

I CAN HAZ VACATION!

I’m rather low on things to report, I’m afraid. Yara and I’ve been enjoying all our free time these last few days. The weather has been impeccable and we’re certainly not complaining. Getting a lot of neglected housework done and taking lots of leisurely walks through Washington Park. I’ve also been catching up on some reading — finally got around to starting The Children of Húrin which is several thousand kinds of awesome. As well as watching some new DVDs, most notably season two of Heroes. Met up with Bonnie for lunch this past Saturday and that was a blast to catch up with her! She got to get acquainted with Yara for the first time and I think they both enjoyed that immensely. Mostly, we’ve both been enjoying sleeping in every day and I’m quite sure we’ll be far too used to it come Tuesday.

Class officially started today and I think my butterflies are still hanging out in my stomach. I’m kind of glad that our reading isn’t really due until next week as my book still hasn’t arrived. (Oops!) Hopefully it gets here before the end of the week so I can get involved in the discussion board before it becomes impossible to weed through.

I’m thinking of redesigning my website . . . which should strike no one by surprise even though I never finished putting this entire design up. :-p

Chegg.com

I should have mentioned this earlier for all the college students that visit here, but it completely slipped my mind. A coworker of mine alerted me to this very fine site, Chegg, where you can rent your textbooks. Not only is it very cheap — I bought mine for more than 50% off — but it’s green, too! By buying less books you’ll be saving trees and for every book that’s rented, Chegg plants a tree.

Amazon Kindle

Amazon now has a portable wireless reading device that has readability like a printed page. Apparently, there is already a rather extensive library of books, newspapers, blogs and more that you can purchase and read. I like that it doesn’t rely on WiFi. Judging from the images, it doesn’t appear to enlarge fonts all that much, which is surprising to me given its $400 price tag! Maybe a future version will come with more accessibility for the blind and/or low-vision?

EDIT: The Kindle has dropped down to $359 and Amazon is currently taking another $100 off if you apply for their credit card.

EDIT #2: Surpass Hosting is having a haiku writing contest for a Kindle! Contest is now over.